Tabs Out | Mauro / Ryan Loecker – split

Mauro / Ryan Loecker – split
10.10.16 by Marcel Foley


Mauro and Ryan Loecker join forces for this excellent new split tape on Chicago-based label Lillerne. Mixing sprawling synth drones, mellow field recordings, and psychedelic, tape-warped keyboard fuckery with blissful ambient passages, both sides of this delightful get-together are guaranteed to warm your heart and soundtrack your late night stoned out/zoned out haze.

Mauro’s Side A kicks off this split beautifully with some spacey riffs and swirling chamber echoes, encompassing the listener with some heady artifacts of lo-fi sound, repurposed as if they’re being ripped from some old VHS in your mom’s basement but still coherent enough that they sound like a modern take on classic new age. About three minutes into Side A, this opening movement, a bright minimalist loop caught in its own effervescent nostalgia, evolves into an utterly melancholic drone piece that makes you feel like you’re staring at a low quality Photoshop collage of your deepest memories (taken from both your personal life and pop culture). It’s moments like these that truly make this split a brilliant collection of modern ambient music, one that both sonically evolves and effortlessly references the past in two seemingly improvisational pieces.

Loecker’s Side B tends to fall under the category of more “traditional” ambient-drone, featuring some heavenly reverb-drenched synths that slowly morph and dissolve over the course of its 22 minutes. Much like Mauro’s Side A, Loecker’s movement feels like a consistent collage of both mutated elevator music and dusty avant-psych, enveloping its own sepulchral melodies until the layers of echo and looping begin to fade away into darkness.

Cop this masterful split for just $5.50.

Tabs Out | Wagner – 70s Floyd Lite

Wagner – 70s Floyd Lite
7.26.16 by Marcel Foley

wagner large

Portland-based musician Parker Johnson beautifully blurs the lines between feedback-heavy ambient-drone and warped tape music. On his debut cassette as Wagner, he combines experimental guitar-noise head trips, collage-esque movements of samples and lo-fi loops, and gorgeous abstract shoegaze.

Primitive drones smoothly transition into My Bloody Valentine-esque pieces of blissful guitar-driven dream/noise pop, gorgeous ambient soundscapes that are consumed by endless waves of tape decay and amp buzzing, and transcendent levels of synth and guitar multi-layering. “70s Floyd Lite: is a truly eclectic and unique piece of work, yet it never feels messy or unfocused at any time. Its marks of uncharted sonic territory, pure inventiveness, and unorthodox approaches to intricate cassette music make it a standout project altogether. Wagner offers a new frontier for DIY music, with sonic aesthetics and concepts that are so minimal yet complex, layered but stripped down, alien-like yet so beautifully, amazingly organic and nostalgic.

“70s Floyd Lite” is out now via Colossal Tapes.

Tabs Out | Gardener – Ceremony

Gardener – Ceremoy
7.17.16 by Marcel Foley


As I’m caught in a whirlwind of chaotic drones, dense synthscapes, and multilayered, reverbheavy lofi ambient tones, Dash Lewis’ latest tape as Gardener pulls me out of the water like an otherworldly being who understands the concepts and vibrations of warped psychedelia and encompassing, duby sonic experimentation. And much like an otherworldly being, Ceremony is defined by its own sheer mystery and a glowing, neonlike haze. Featuring two tracks that each span 20 minutes, this cassette is simply ne of the best, most forwardthinking ambient releases you’ll hear all year. Lewis wonderfully adopts some of the most notable traits of “outsider” drone and beyond: roaring loops are caught in a distorted balance as the vibrant whirs of opener “Between Mirrors” reside between lofi tape music and towering progressiveambient. The lulls of the track’s narrow path of harmonious melancholy reach the ultimate tipping point, with its sound ultimately cascading upon the listener like an avalanche of decayed and sharp timbres that reach a buzzing, glitchheavy climax. As the song fades out, it’s like the end to an emotionally powerful short film: the grain on the screen starts to dissolve and you’re thrown back into a surreal, almost blissful state.

On the B side we have “Sight Forever,” an epic force of spacey, futuristic sonic clarity and psychedelia. Heavenly washes of ambient tones are blessed with bubbly synthnoise counterparts, with a more immediate progression in sound than the A side yet a slightly more minimal direction of what’s considered to be “traditional” ambient. The loops become more and more distorted and warped by its lofi production, with a hypnagogic array of synths that make you feel like you’re at an ‘80s theme park with neon lights that set the summer mood perfectly, or perhaps even at the beach, or maybe underwater. As you’re caught in this multidimensional auditory headspace, you see the bubbles float to the top in a digital ocean, and before you know it, you’re caught back in the whirlwind again.

Purchase the tape here and prepare for a trip you’ll never forget.

Tabs Out | New Batch – Bridgetown Records

New Batch – Bridgetown Records
7.5.16 by Marcel Foley


Listening to Bridgetown Records ’ new Summer 2016 Piano Batch, I feel completely lost in time. As the sounds of minimalist piano pieces and lofi, nostalgic ambient drones wash over me like the waves of an ocean filled with the slowly deteriorating memories of some great historian, I can sense the balance of my own illuminated thoughts as time moves on and the canvas of our own essence begins to rot. Occasionally, this new age minimalism reminds me of watching an old French film in black and white, where one scene in particular focuses on two chairs facing each other in a hallway. This shot is pretty much just an endless loop, and even though it seems like a perfectly fine mental image, there is something so inherently eerie about it but you don’t know why. I pick up this same vibe of enigmatic eeriness from Bridgetown’s latest batch of tapes, an excellent collection that materializes your longing for a place that never existed, a desire to be forever locked in your hypnagogic state, or perhaps an unusual recollection of a dream you once had many, many years ago.

Michigan based ambient musician Theodore Schafer (a.k.a. one half of Cestine) paints a stunning “Portrait” of minimal sound design on his magnificent cassette. Featuring two ten minute solo pieces that recall several obscure new age releases from the 80’s with a brilliant postmodern edge, Schafer treats the piano like a sonic fragment forever lost to its own decay, looping melodies and repeating powerful harmonics to connect with the song’s next seamless progression.

Jason Calhoun’s Naps project highlights a specific brand of lofi keyboard nostalgia on “Happy All The Time Forever Always”, a quaint 10 track release that feels like the perfect balance between the video game soundtracks from your youth and the colorful drones found in most ambient driven IDM. The wonderfully melancholic “Headache” transitions into the ethereal “Nicole,” both tracks that pinpoint the most distinct personality traits of Calhoun’s mellow experimental works.

And just like the perfect nightcap to an evening reminiscing over childhood memories and old, dusty Polaroids, Danny DeLeon presents us with a stunning selection of solo piano pieces that marvelously closes out and defines one of the most soothingly unequivocal tape batches I’ve heard in a while. From the powerful opener “Lighthouse” to lovely closing ballad of “Mafioso,” DeLeon blurs the line between traditional classical and ambient in a truly remarkable manner.

Do yourself a favor and purchase these tapes (each of them available for $6 or $18 as a whole bundle) via Bridgetown Records’ Bandcamp now.