Tabs Out | Episode 194 / Top 200 of 2023

Episode 194 / Top 200 of 2023

1 Amy Cutler- Sister Time (Strategic Tape Reserve)

1 and a Half: Various Artists – Synthetic Bird Music (Mappa)

​I think I felt a small piece of me die when Bandcamp started commissioning a round-up of the best field recordings. Or maybe a part of me clicked into overdrive as I kept thinking of what it meant to make music from field recordings. If there’s a term that dominated the non-tape music & personal journeys I was taking, then “sonic roadmapping” might as well have best encompassed it; the way an album can encompass a time and place, based around details not always manipulated or of the source. The best moment with a non-contemporary cassette listen I had this year was being delirious in-and-out of sleep on red eyes to and from Knoxville, TN before & after Big Ears, listening to Selected Ambient Work Volume II. It really is quite the stunner when hypnagogia is attainable. There’s a world there that exists only on that album, sometimes more inviting than others.

Field recordings were not on my mind that often, I’ll admit. But then when assembling this list, after a tumultuous year where forces that had nurtured the tape and its curatorial labels had nearly imploded (and still may turn against us), it seemed that there was something going on in the fringe space between “songs” and “life memories” and “tangible places that may exist” that these particular Top 25 seemed to be embellishing. Some noise, some aching ghostly americana, some bio-ambient straight from Excursions in Ambience, some drones in just intonation, a many breakbeats, a mix-tape celebrating the scene…amongst field recordings of a peculiar manner.

I think Z. Emerson of Doom Trip told it bluntly and truthfully to me in November 2023 baked off our asses on a call about what the Top of the Top 200 should be and reflect: the ultimate stunt tape that embellishes the format and also has that particularly ooey gooey energy that no one can match. 101 Notes on Jazz may be the best realization or this. Or last year’s Moth Cock 3xCass extravagance.

I thought that might mean Marc Masters’ loving overview and curatorial hat-tips on the book and cassette companion of High Bias was that answer. A lot of roads lead to that book and the love Masters laid down in the book (barring a massive slab of alternative facts that we cleared up on the podcast). But then, I found myself on a plane. I found myself up late gnawing over the list. In fact, it’s only in these final hours before we sit down that in whatever god willing state this is, I am committed to saying that for the first time ever in the history of a Top 200, there was a tie. One between the smartest anti-fielding recording pieces of music I heard all year.

Dr. Amy Cutler’s Sister Time feels like the release Strategic Tape Reserve had been promising it would unveil after Bellectronic. Not quite a reissue, but an uncovering and deft display of archival love, Dr. Cutler had found her own void zones that seemed to be inherently contemplating her personal history with tape & work with film into personal memory or fantasized alternate histories. It felt like Strategic Tape Reserve promise had somehow been achieved in a new thinking way that usurped the wry, cunning Listening by Learning without quite losing the eye-winks and shenanigans of early catalog heaters like DJ VLK or Shopland. There is a real sense of wonder, haunting, and the sublime to Cutler’s vision: a true flow state that many tapes I heard this year were not atuned to. Compositional bliss.

Synthetic Bird Music is an overdue hat tip to Mappa (a label like Warm Winters, I’ve often adored but been late to championing), but then I remember they haven’t done something like this. Risiograph 2xCass of various artists (often from Eastern Europe in a capacity that is new and exciting for me to explore) being tasked to create “synthetic bird music” and arriving at the end of a continuum that connects labels and eras like Columbia Masterworks, Windham Hill, Lovely Music, New Albion, Mego, Touch, Orange Milk, Hausu Mountain, Full Spectrum into a true “goo age” opus. Some of this exists in Morton Subtonick’s Silver Apples or Noah Creshevsky’s Hyperreal musics, or David Tudor 1970s composer music played at the Kitchen. It has the same deep listening character of Oliveros, amongst dashes of the pastoralism of Windham Hill. It is completely in line with the territory of heavy drone and bliss out land art that No Rent/Full Spectrum/Reserve Matinee have played to. The 32 cuts here flow into each other with the lucidity, creating symphonies of synthetic birds that babble and bobble in an uncanny, engrossing manner. Heavy on bass and hi-fi freak outs, but also welcoming to newcomers. It is, everything (one form of) tape music has been stumbling towards.

All the while, there’s an unusually stacked under card from old favorites, new players, and anywhere else in between that took us in our own crazy directions! We hope you’ll find something nice on this list to geek out over!

2 Mattie Barbier – This Is What People Think Mountains Look Like (Dinzu Artefacts)

3 Heejin Jang – Me and the Glassbirds (Dom Trip)

4 Clang Quartet – A Slow Death for the Peacemaker (No Rent)

5 The Entire Vibe of High Bias & the Music From The Book (Ya Boy Marc Masters)

6 hyphyskazerbox – Manic In Your House (Suite 309)

7 Nyokabi Kariuki – Resonant Body (cmntx records)

8 Ryley Walker & Jeff Tobias – It’ll Sound Different Once We Get Some Bodies In The Room (Husky Pants Records)

9 Larry Wish – Capricorn Sun (Orange Milk)

10 Ivan Cunningham’s Freedom Pie – One Eye Closed/One Leg Lifted (Bumpy)

11 Cunningham / Shiroishi / Ackerley / Smith – [five lines indecipherable] (Profane Illuminations)

12 DJ K – Panico No Submundo (Nyege Nyege Tapes)

13 V/A – FTAM-100 (FTAM Productions)

14 Quintelium – Moonwaves (Ephem Aural)

15 Lorenz/Reis – Horizontal Hold (Bizarro Warrior)

16 tondiue – Harvest (syn syn)

17 Fire-Toolz – I Am Upset (Hausu Mountain)

18 Andy Loebs – Hyperlink Anamorphosis (JOLT MUSIC)

19 Wide Color – W I D E C O L O R (Oxtail Recordings)

20 Tujiko Noriko – Crépuscule I & II (Editions Mego)

21 Various Artists – High Bias (Backwoodz Studios)

22 Strategy – Graffiti In Space (Constellation Tatsu)

23 yara asmar – synth waltzes and accordion laments (Hive Mind Records)

24 Westelaken – I Am Steaming Mushrooms (Self Release)

25 Synthfreq – Vol. 1 (Orange Mik)

26 Kali Malone – Does Spring Hide its Joy (XKatedral)

27 ichiko aoba – sketch tour tape (self released)

28 Swamp-Ass – Disasterpiece (WereGnome)

29 Mike Nigro – Low Light (Oxtail Recordings)

30 Yellow Swans – Left Behind (Yellow Swans Archive)

31 Skull Mask – Iká (Raash Records)

32 Eniks Cave – Seven Heavenly Palaces (Drongo)

33 Lexie Mountain – I Am Here To Win One Million Dollars (self released)

34 Emergency Group – Inspection of Cruelty (Island House)

35 Andrew Osterhoudt – Out Together (Geographic North)

36 Cop Funeral – Jake (Already Dead)

37 OMS – Illeism & No Consolation (Suite 309)

38 Manoir Molle -intéressant (Cudighi Records)

39 Dave Scanlon – Taste Like Labor (Whatever’s Clever)

40 Andreas Brandal – Trapdoor Curcifix (Lighten Up Sounds)

41 Embarker – Traced Out (Send Help)

42 Quantum Waterfall – s/t (Fluere Tapes)

43 Mildred Bonk – Skeeg: The Locomotive Powers Of Death (Bad Cake)

44 Tim Gick – Body Without Organs (THE ENTIRE WORK ETHIC OF NO RENT RECORDS!)

45 ABADIR – Melting (Drowned By Locals)

46 Burning Plastic Blues Band – Spiritual Latency (Metaphysical Barbeque)

47 Another Dark December – Anthropocene ’ s Apocalypse and Other Various Anxieties (Histamine Tapes)

48 The Drin – Today My Friend You Drunk the Venom (Future Shock)

49 M. Sage & Zander Raymond – Parayellowgram (Moon Glyph)

50 Lia Kohl – The Ceiling Reposes (American Dreams)

51 Roxanne Nesbitt / Ben Brown / Marielle Groven – Play Symbiotic Instruments (Small Scale Music)

52 Kouns & Weaver – Children of Cimmeria (Unifactor)

53 Lo-Tek Larry – 500 Beats (100% Bootleg Cassette Tape Company)

54 Kid Millions and Sarah Bernstein – Forrest Park Live (Island House)

55 Illusion of Safety – Organ Choir Drone (NO PART OF IT)

56 India Sky – Somewhere Over The Mystic Moon (Ratskin Records)

57 Shayna Dunkelman & Javier Areal Vélez – Miru Mira (Atlantic Rhythms)

58 Retrogoblin / low cunning – split (Weregnome Record)

59 Sam Kazakgascar – Long Tones of August (Trouble in Mind)

60 Sungod – Starscape (Crash Symbols)

61 The End, I Love You! – Ghost Chase Sequence: Moongrazing (FTAM Productions)

62 Moth Drakula – Live in Purgatory (Swampland Press)

63 type/token- Riparian Zone (Traced Objects)

64 Parish / Potter – On and Off (\\NULL|ZØNE//)

65 Ki Oni – An Evening Stroll to the Garden Party (Geographic North)

66 Peter Kris / Hyacinth. – Swimming In A Sea Of Sand (Suite 309)

67 German Army – Biloxi (Soil)

68 JOBS – Soft Sounds (Ramp Local)

69 TIE: Dustin Wong – Perpetual Morphosis (Hausu Mountain) + Dusting Wong/Brin – Textures II (Leaving)

70 Lisa Lerkenfeldt – Shell Of A City (Room 40)

71 Spelunkers – Music From the Widow Jane (Tymbal Tapes)

72 Jackson Greenberg – The Things We Pass On Through Our Genes (cmntx records)

73 Nandele & A-Tweed – Xigubo (Jollies)

74 Amber Meulenijzer – Sabb Fanfare (Edições CN)

75 Traysh – Shady Favorites (Husky Pants Records)

76 Seawind of Battery & ragenap – Chaos Life Preserver (Eiderdown)

77 Hoshina Anniversary – HakkyouShisou 発狂しそう (Constellation Tatsu)

78 Derek Monypenny – Born Free (Personal Archives)

79 Davide Cedolin – Ligurian Pastoral (Island House)

80 Jim Rats – Perfuser (No Rent)

81 PCRV – S/T (Fluxus Montanat)

82 Heroic Viking – Ragnarok (Mondes Sonores)

83 TIE: Tongue Depressor + John McCowen – Blame Tuning (Full Spectrum) & Tonge Depressor & Weston Olencki – Don’t Tell No Tales Upon Us (Dinzu Artefacts)

84 Tee Vee Repairmann – What’s On TV (Wartmann Inc)

85 b.michaael – Gore (Orange Milk)

86 Stefana Fratila – I want to leave this Earth behind (Not Not Fun/Halocline Trance)

87 Crosslegged – Another Blue (self released)

88 Lanayah – I’m Picking Lights in a Field (Drongo)

89 Whettman Clements – Koppen (Strategic Tape Reserve)

90 Circuit Diagram – Werkschau (Crash Symbols)

91 Drazek Fuscaldo / Thymme Jones – Wings Dipped in Fire (Feeding Tube Records)

92 Hudson Glover – Solar Surfing: Music From The Film ‘Crystal Oscillators’ (Hotham Sound Recordings)

93 Sonic Youth – Live in Brooklyn 2011 (Silver Current Records)

94 weareforests – Where There Is No Ending (Seil Records)

95 Ddrome – Power City (Cruel Nature)

96 Spherule Trio- There Will Always Be Instruments (Orb Tapes)

97 Mute Duo – 5amSky (Astral Editions)

98 Carmen Jaci – Happy Child (Noumenal Loom)

99 TIE: Armand Hammer – We Buy Diabetic Test Strips (Fat Possum) & billy woods/Kenny Segal – maps (Backwoodz Studios)

100 Arthur Russell – Picture of Bunny Rabbit (Audika Records)

101 SPLLIT – Infinite Hatch (Tough Gum USA)

102 Dr Slimer – Slimerhuasca (self released)

103 Omar Ahmad – Inheritance (AKP Recordings)

104 Staraya Derevnya – blue forty​-​nine (blue tapes)

105 Lula Asplund – Unravels by a Thread (Drongo)

106 Alex Jacobsen – Apartment 2021 / Commutes 2022 (Tymbal Tapes)

107 Müller / Doskocz / Gordoa – Aural Accidents (Tripticks Tapes)

108 Drew Gardner – The Return (Astral Spirits)

109 Midi Janitor – Bulk Order (Hotham Sound Recordings)

110 Blasco/Baron – Travesia/The Matrix Split (Full Spectrum)

111 Ian MacPhee – Distance (Already Dead)

112 Noah Klein – Zion (Moon Glyph)

113 N. Hertzberg – Jazz Hands (Personal Archives)

114 Farcaster – Brain Machine (Old Stories)

115 YOCKO O.NE feat. prinz-ip – O . H . E. [action] b​/​w R​.​I​.​FF. [minox] (superpolar Taïps)

116 Uton and Bardo Todol – Bday Lampazo Trompeta (Steep Gloss)

117 Steffan De Turck / Howard Stelzer – Private/Public (Falt)

118 Omni Gardens – Golden Pear (Moon Glyph)

119 Cereal Banter – Kinder Blips (self released)

120 The Gate – Scum (Tubapede)

121 Various Artists – Wrhythm & Fhrasing (Drongo)

122 Names Divine – The Crystal Arms! (Trouble in Mind)

123 Joseph Allred – For the Fallen Dawn (Island House)

124 Windy Boijen – In A Sense (Ephem Aural)

125 Emergency Group – Venal Twin (Centripetal Force)

126 diana starshine – fairy pop (Orange Milk)

127 Mukqs – Stonewasher (Hausu Mountain)

128 Black Button – Rejoice (Anthems of the Undesirable)

129 The HIRS Collective – We’re Still Here (Get Better Records)

130 Alex Homan – The Great American Hot Dog Tour (self release)

131 First Tone – (modemain)

132 DJ Smiley Bobby – Dhol Tasha Drum Exercises from Maharashtra (Nyege Nyege Tapes)

133 Cole Pulice – If I Don’t See You in the Future, I’ll See You in the Pasture (self release)

134 Danie Fishkin – Dark Listening (Tripticks Tapes)

135 Dorian Wood & Thor Harris – You are clearly in perversion (Astral Editions)

136 Monokle – Ultraflowers (Constellation Tatsu)

137 x.y.r. – Memory Tapes (Not Not Fun)

138 Hualun/ Bleed Air – GhostEP / Dead Man Split (Superpolaris Tapis)

139 Massimo Magee – The Contemporary Jazz Clarinet Of Massimo Magee And His Rhythm (Falt)

140 The Royal Arctic Institute – From Coma to Catharsis (Already Dead)

141 Midnight Minds – Angsty Bodies (Tone Deaf Tapes)

142 Mallwalker – Danger (Tetryon Tapes)

143 Space Camp – Gold Star (self released)

144 MANAS & E.M.M. – At House Unamerican (Radio Khiyaban)

145 Carlo Costa & John McCowen – pianissimo etc (Tripticks Tapes)

146 David Donohoe – Fen (Dinzu Artefacts)

147 Seth Chrisman, Andrew Weathers, & Cody Yantis – After Amarillo (Falt)

148 Organized Cream – s/t (Swaylor)

149 Akasha System – Ancient Path Complete (100% Silk)

150 En Attendant Ana – Principia (Trouble in Mind)

151 Ethan W.L. – The Pink House (Drongo)

152 Wobbly – Additional Kids (Hausu Mountain)

153 You are the Garden – Six Leaf Clover (self release)

154 Zebularin – Nachtarchiv (Cosmic Winnetou)

155 Torture Agenda – Catalyst for the New Homo Sapien (Swimming Faith)

156 Bad Trips – Drink the Ooze (Already Dead)

157 The Electric Nature – Old World Must Die (\\NULL|ZØNE//)

158 Endless Fog – Waiting Forever (Self Release)

159 Streamweaver – Firesongs (Aural Canyon)

160 Lucie Vítková – Cave Acoustics (Mappa)

161 Obelisk Ruins – Thought-Vision-Doubt (Katuktu Collective)

162 Coach Campa & Aaron Arguellp – Weekend Satanists (Already Dead)

163 Saapato – Somewhere Else (Aural Canyon)

164 Feast of the Epiphany – Signifcance (Strategy of Tension)

165 Ki Oni – A Leisurely Swim To Everlasting Life (AKP Recordings)

166 Slit Throats – Joshi Noise Worship: Sky Tiger Crosses Void (self release)

167 Morgan Garrett – Extreme Fantasy (Orange Milk)

168 salad – Riverside Ishiyama (Dinzu Artefacts)

169 K/S/R / Wind Tide – split (Physical)

170 Meadow Argus – This Old Rotten Barge (self released)

171 Massage- Soft as Snow (Jollies)

172 Hourloupe – Three Nights in the Wawayanda (Tymbal Tapes)

173 Charles Lareau – Statis (Public Eyesore)

174 McKain/Murray/Radichel/Weeks – Live At Century (Personal Archives)

175 Hartle Road – MAXX II (K/perrenialdeath)

176 Wolf Dad – Wolf Dad Must Die! (Ephem Aural)

177 Iku Sakan – OMNITOPOEIA (Sensorik Verden/Iriai Verlag)

178 Euglossine – Bug Planet is the Current TImeline (Hausu Mountain)

179 Water Shrew Trio – s/t (Eiderdown)

180 Pan Cyan – Emotional Indulgence (Noumenal Loom)

181 Wife Eyes – Regna Vita (Strategic Tape Reserve)

182 Booker Stardru & Chris William – relay (cached media)

183 MJ Lenderman & the Wind – Live and Loose! (Dear Life)

184 Shõ – Elsewheres (Never Anything)

185 Grant Evans – Ragweed Chess Museum Volume One (Hooker Vision)

186 Új Bála – Letters Are Weird To Look At (self released)

187 Multiform Palace- New World Harmony (Specious Arts)

188 Être Ensemble – CLOSE / SPACE (Katuktu Collective)

189 Anal Drill- Peeping Tom (No Rent)

190 Captain / Magill / Wood – Sliding Man / Live at The Monkey Pub (Weird Cry Records)

191 Christopher Robert Duncan – Seasons (self released)

192 Merzbow – Hatomatsuri (Dinzu Artefacts)

193 Tamarisk – Plays a Word for Wind (Astral Editions)

194 Prokharchin – Ardea Herodias (Tone Deaf Tapes)

195 Yui Onodera and Takashi Kokubo – Thousand Bells (Constellation Tatsu)

196 Clear Thing – Everywhere I Go (The Lapsis Group)

197 Adriana Camacho & Stefan Christoff – Años y Minutos (Moon Villain)

198 Miorii – Nature’s Way (Hush Hush Records)

199 Sam Gas Can – II (Crash Symbols)

200 Mr. Tim AKA Ya Boy Timmy 400 Hundo – The Celebration (Hausu Mountain)