Tabs Out | Dechirico – Please Don’t Let the Universe End Just Yet

Dechirico – Please Don’t Let the Universe End Just Yet
1.7.19 by Ryan Masteller

This is the exact body of the email I wrote to my congressman just a couple of months ago:

Dear Congressman:

Please don’t let the universe end just yet.


How in the world did Dechirico know? How could there possibly have been overlap? Did Dechirico have access to my emails? Did I forget to properly password-protect my server? This could be a big deal – there’s been a lot of talk lately about the importance of emails and server safety. I don’t want to go to prison or anything.

Also in my email:

Dear Congressman:

Do you like krautrock? If you listened to some krautrock, maybe you’d mellow out a little bit.


… You’re seeing this too, right? I’m not going crazy? Look, we live in some strange times, but this is a little too close to the mark for my liking. How does Dechirico know I dig krautrock to such a degree that I’d risk making a fool of myself in front of my own congressman? And it’s true: I listen to Neu! an awful lot. Tangerine Dream. The old Vangelis stuff. Kraftwerk, duh. And Dechirico loves all these bands too, you can totally tell. Gleaming metallic rhythms, futuristic synthesizers, beauty in repetition. But there’s something about “Universe” that’s different, something fundamental that sets it apart …

It’s humanness.

That’s right, Dechirico has blood pumping in actual veins that lead to an actual heart; lungs inhale oxygen and exhale carbon monoxide. There’s a brain in which synapses fire instructions to various body parts. Chances are that Dechirico is either eating, sleeping, or taking a dump right at this very moment. Now THAT’S human. So instead of passionless robots, we’ve got a pulse, an emotive center in a being that cares just enough that it requests of someone, something to allow the universe to exist for just a little while longer. Maybe there’s something Dechirico has to do, or something Dechirico has to tell someone. At any rate, we can thank Dechirico for addressing this important question, putting it in writing, in song, right out there for anyone to heed.

Now, if someone could only reach the cold steel mechanism my congressman calls a heart, that would be great.

Grippity grip this tippity tip [tape] from Bonding Tapes!

Tabs Out | The Last Ambient Hero – Under the Same Sky

The Last Ambient Hero – Under the Same Sky
1.4.19 by Ryan Masteller

Armed with superior skill, our hero returns – The Last Ambient Hero, a superbeing gifted with the ability to create the densest and most intricate ambient soundscapes humanity has ever heard. Deploying “Under the Same Sky” from a hidden base in Manchester, England, the LAH seeks to defeat the crushing evil of indifference, the vast villainy of boredom, the insidious machinations of only-half-paying-attention. How, you say, can only one person fight the good fight against the wickedness of subpar ambient music? How can a single entity pry the attention of world’s masses from EDM and Mariah Carey? The Last Ambient Hero has a secret weapon in his toolbelt: tape loops.

Employing this newfound technique over the length of an EP, the LAH blankets the earth with magnetic rain, coating the planet with a calming atmosphere of soft drones and gently shifting synthesizer patches. Thus the population falls under a benevolent trance, drifting through existence encased pleasantly in a vaporous cocoon of tone. We are all “Under the Same Sky,” as it were, no longer influenced by gritty or agitating music, no longer staring blankly into the depths of Muzak hell. I think we’ll have to call this newfound utility of the LAH’s a success – I’m certainly having a better day because of the great work of the Last Ambient Hero.

“Under the Same Sky” is available in an edition of 20 from the Hero’s own Bandcamp page.

Tabs Out | SqrtSigil – Lost In

SqrtSigil – Lost In
1.4.19 by Ryan Masteller

I wrote a story where small synthetic animals scurried across the floor of a digital jungle, foraging, rummaging, hiding from predators, generally doing things normal small animals do on a jungle floor except these ones weren’t real. SqrtSigil helped me out, helped me to visualize whatever the heck was nagging me about these creatures, providing the audio to my imagination and the universe these things lived in. I barely had to break a sweat with the text of the thing – the sounds did all the heavy lifting for me. In fact, I finished what I was writing just as “Lost In” came to a close, and as I looked at my computer screen, I was surprised to see the open Word document in front of me was as blank as a Tabs Out Podcast script! I had imagined the whole thing, even writing the whole thing. I was pretty embarrassed about it. Still am.

I’m definitely NOT embarrassed about allowing SqrtSigil the opportunity to take over my waking life for approximately forty minutes. The Polish artist’s synthesizer work burrows into your brain, like tiny critters burrowing into the fresh, moist loam of the jungle floor. There they work, sleep, play, eat, shit, procreate, and survive, just like SqrtSigil’s bustling, forever-active sound experiments. Like a demented NatGeo documentary score, “Lost In” fills in the sonic accoutrements of the action, ever-shifting as digital nature takes its course, its inhabitants’ codes executing and rewriting themselves as life unfolds. Tactile and fully present, “Lost In” is as fascinating to listen to as it is to participate in – that is, if you’re watching what I’m watching in my head, and you can’t help yourself but to start exploring that jungle too.

You better act fast if you want one of the 33 copies from Szara Reneta – there are only four left!

Tabs Out | Linden Pomeroy & Nicholas Langley – Are We Not Drawn Onward to New Era

Linden Pomeroy & Nicholas Langley – Are We Not Drawn Onward to New Era
1.3.19 by Ryan Masteller

The answer is, no. But then again, if we really, truly consider the trajectory of society, if we squint very, very hard, it becomes clearer that we may, indeed, be inching toward that “new era.” A heretofore unrealized new era, an evolution toward utopian existence. A rejection of the damaging arc on which we’re spinning out of control. A glad embrace of reason and kindness and forgiveness that will truly push us forward as a species. A golden age of health and prosperity for all humankind.

Do I believe any of that? The answer is also, no.

Then why do Linden Pomeroy and Third Kind Records label head Nicholas Langley insist upon it? Perhaps it’s because the “new era” is simply different than the old, not necessarily better. It would explain the somewhat hesitant, distant tone they strike on “Are We Not Drawn Onward to New Era,” a collection of ten experimental ambient meditations that marks Third Kind Records’s final foray into releasing music until some-bloody-time in the (hopefully) near-future. Not to mention that side B plays side A in reverse, as if it’s a philosophical study in perspective and perception. And time manipulation. Time manipulation is certainly a part of it.

Through processed field recordings and hazy sonic constructions and downright poignant moments of clarity and cynicism and beauty (depending on where you’re standing), Pomeroy and Langley wipe the memory of 2018 with an emotive bang, a wire scrub to the brainpan that has us all pointing in a new direction, toward that “new era.” Could that “new era” be a more positive 2019, which leers at us provocatively from the other side of December 31? My guess: not remotely – I expect more of the goddamned same.

Oh well! We still have this awesome tape, “a red and white C74 with red shell print and cover art by Karen Constance” in an edition of forty. Nine left from the label!

Tabs Out | New Batch – Personal Archives

New Batch – Personal Archives
12.27.18 by Ryan Masteller

A hundred and frickin twenty-seven releases in, Personal Archives should be the name on the tip of everyone’s tongue when you start talking about longevity in the tape scene. (Already Dead notwithstanding – we’ll get to them in a minute.) So why is it that I have to keep reminding you with these posts, huh? Shouldn’t you have this down by now? Bob Bucko Jr. curates a strong stable of interesting and inventive artists, cajoling them to record and collaborate and mix it up a little, have some fun, hitch a ride on the back of a garbage truck when no one’s looking. Live a little, why don’tcha. Read these first, though.


Cop Funeral – lo quality self-value
This is who I was talking about: Joshua Tabbia runs Already Dead, and Already Dead runs circles around the competition for sheer release volume. But that’s not why we’re here – Joshua also records as Cop Funeral, a melancholy drone project that gives heartache its ambient soundtrack. Just look at the two song titles here, one lengthy piece for each side of the tape: “she challenged everything I knew about being a miserable person” and “buyer’s remorse,” each one playing spoiler for Cop Funeral’s mood with words like “miserable” and “remorse.” Sure, there’s introspective qualities there, glimmers of hope even, maybe, but if you’re stuck in a rut, look no further than Cop Funeral’s work. Actually, “lo quality self-value” itself is pretty descriptive, and if I’m being honest, you really have to squint to see that hope glimmer. But still, we’re here for the challenge, and as usual, Cop Funeral makes the passage worthwhile.


James McKain – The Detectives
I’m WATCHING them, get it? No, sorry, no more Elvis Costello dad jokes today, I’m too tired. I’ve been on the beat, see, staking out joints and following up leads. Shaking down suspects. Getting to the bottom of mysteries. Peering menacingly out from under the brim of my fedora. That’s what I feel like I’ve been doing all day when listening to James McKain’s “The Detectives,” a cycle of mournful solo sax that will make you turn your collar up against the wind and rain as you walk under streetlamps at night. No good reviewer will avoid the word “noir” in their writeup, because the film noir street vibe pouring from McKain is unmistakable. Take this smattering of track titles, for instance: “Even Angels Burn Out,” “Mott Street Breakdown,” “Aces,” “Some Real Soprano Shit, Buddy,” and “Alley Cats.” You’re there, right? In the story? In your imagination? If you’re not, “The Detectives” will help you get there.


Michael Foster and Dane Rousay – Mail & Tool & Turmoil
“YOU manipulate this object!” “No, YOU do it!” I can only imagine the arguments between these two, neither of them wanting to use the wood block or the junky old shaker they found in their parents’ basement. Nothing remotely like this probably happened, but you never know – what we DO know is that objects were manipulated, and drums and saxophones were played. I’m gonna venture that friendships were, in fact, maintained. Foster and Rousay’s recordings here exhibit the utmost restraint as they explore the space between their playing and the instruments themselves, focusing solely on the mood of the room – which sometimes necessitates bursting into dank bebop, of course. I love it when that happens.


One More Final I Need You – A Plea
“You who build these altars now, to sacrifice these children, you must not do it anymore.” Thank you! I was waiting for someone to say that, because it’s getting pretty ridiculous, people dying for ridiculous reasons (everybody’s somebody’s child). “A Plea” pleads (because that’s what pleas do) for sanity, all while illustrating the insanity we need the sanity to replace. Taylor Campbell (guitar), Landon Deaton (drums), PA label head Bob Bucko Jr. (tenor sax), and Eli Smith (laptop, electronics) pool their resources for their release as One More Final I Need You, colliding their combined expertise to explode out two live improv sessions. Their manic energy is infectious, and invigorating, even as they plow through tunes titled “Wrong Longings” and “A Child’s Body.” Obviously, OMFINY retains some dead-centered and rigid seriousness as they flail without abandon, playing off each other with intense glee. THAT’S the way you deliver a message.

Tabs Out | Catching Up with Antiquated Future

Catching Up with Antiquated Future
12.13.18 by Ryan Masteller

PDX-based lo-fi tape label Antiquated Future has been around the block, let’s not kid ourselves. Initially begun in Olympia, Washington, around the turn of the century (if you consider 2008 the turn of the century, which I do – druid calendar, you know), AF has made quite the name for itself with not only its music releases but also its books, zines, and other assorted cool stuff you can find by digging around in their website a little bit. It’s like rummaging through a cool antique shop, but without the musty smell (which is either a good or a bad thing depending on whether you like the smell of antique shops).

But besides the fact that I’m a highly in-demand superstar editor and writer (ahem, here’s my card, email me, AF, ahem), we’re here for Antiquated Future’s music, specifically their two most recent cassette releases, Reighnbeau’s “Slight EP” and Tucker Theodore’s “LSG.” (And to prove my superstar-ness, I’ll tell you that “Reighnbeau” is not spelled correctly; it’s actually “Rainbow,” but of course that’s already taken, so.) Both tapes feature established vets: Bryce Hample’s Reighnbeau project adds Colleen Johnson (Flying Circles, Silver Shadows) and Madeline Johnston (the excellent Midwife [with Tucker Theodore – a link!], Sister Grotto), two singers who will, when combined, give promo proofreaders nightmares forever. Then there’s the prolific Mr. Theodore, known for his experimental guitar explorations. Looks like November was a good release month for Antiquated Future!


Reighnbeau – Slight EP
Slight, nothing; Reighnbeau’s a dense configuration, an opaque cloud of electrofolk goodness that shifts its shape from moment to moment. Hample’s production is top notch – the doors of my expectations have completely been blown of their hinges. I admit, I approached this tape with Midwife in my head, and while the head-down gauzy shoegaze thing is fantastic, this is straight digital candy, sugar rushes of electronics and pop flourishes that remain stuck to your ear canals long after the songs end. And the vocals – oh, the vocals. They’re gorgeous. Johnson and Johnston do a lot of heavy lifting in the melody department, their angelic presence hovering over the songs and elevating them to sheer euphoria. Dare I continue to listen long after the EP has begun to repeat? I dare – bellyache from ingesting too much of a good thing be damned.


Tucker Theodore – LSG
Theodore, who as I’ve noted also performs in Midwife with Madeline Johnston, is simply a guitar GENIUS (like that’s a surprise to anyone). Here on “LSG” he stretches out over ten “movements,” packed tightly together on each side of the tape, “Movements 1–6” on the A and “7–10” on the flip. He recorded everything by himself in his studio called “Inanambulancerecordings,” which has “now relocated to a hayloft in a barn in New Hampshire,” in case you’re wondering what to plug into your Google Maps. So consider that rural reclusiveness when you approach LSG, which meanders from solo guitar passages to, ahem, “full band” freakouts with relative ease, the feedback mixing with the half-speed acoustic Fahey-isms and ambient backmasking and effects-laden drifts. Packed away in that environment, Theodore was able to experiment as he pleased, and the result is a sheer post-rock cornucopia (if I may, considering Thanksgiving isn’t far in our rearview), scrabbling around every stylistic corner that designation has come to represent.

Tabs Out | Keroaän – Pulsars in Rhombus Form

Keroaän – Pulsars in Rhombus Form
12.13.18 by Ryan Masteller

Magic! It’s when something mysteriously happens that we can’t pinpoint with our human brains, something so out of the ordinary that we ascribe to its occurrence a sense of awe and trepidation. Like when someone seemingly at random chooses our card out of a shuffled deck, or when someone teleports a rabbit into a hat with their mind, or when millions of emails disappear into the ether. Or maybe there’s no human element at all – maybe something just gets conjured out of thin air.

Take Keroaän, then, the project name used to release sound recordings of “Pulsars in Rhombus Form,” a processing and playback program developed by Ian M Fraser and Reed Evan Rosenberg. But rather than do any work, I’m going to simply wave my wand above these computer keys and POOF – a description I didn’t write appears!:

“Pulsars in Rhombus Form is a real-time generative music agent with two major components: a listener and a player.

“The listener takes as input and audio stream from the album Planisphærium by sci-fi technical death metal band Wormed (ES). It identifies kick and snare drum strikes as well as vocal phrasing and communicates its findings to the player in order to trigger gestural events and compositional shifts.

“The player consists of an 8-voice Max/MSP implementation of pulsar synthesis (Roads). It’s parameters are controlled by various chaotic maps and stochastic methods.

“The program performs with no human intervention whatsoever.”

Hey, wait a minute – that sounds more like SCIENCE than magic! Still, we get the “conjuring out of thin air” thing I alluded to above, but that whole backstory makes it all way less mysterious. Regardless, this thing is definitely fascinating – certainly as fascinating as sawing a lady in half or escaping from a locked safe perched atop a skyscraper. The cassette’s eight tracks sound NOTHING like Wormed (seriously, like not at all), instead taking on certain aspects of the band’s manic technicality and spitting it back out in some sort of rhythmic tornado. The sounds are like data blots spattered across a digital canvas, as if Autechre simply threw up their hands and let their harshest gear take over before transmitting the results via radio waves out into the solar system.

“Pulsars in Rhombus Form” comes in an edition of 50 from Minneapolis’s Nada Records. Summon your wallet from the next room and prepare to purchase without the use of phone or cable wires!

Tabs Out | Dachshund – s/t

Dachshund – s/t
12.11.18 by Ryan Masteller

It’s nice to see Fall Break Records staging a comeback with this release – they haven’t dropped anything on their own since Future Ape Tapes’ “1093” back in September 2016. This self-titled tape by Dachshund is a real treat too, because it combines two things that get the Tab Outers all worked up, that get everybody all sniffy and glaze-eyed like they found the catnip stash: live improv and #jass fusion. Taylor Josey over at Fall Break totally gets it when he likens “Dachshund” to “Coltrane-inspired spiritual jazz, meditative ECM, and German koshmiche [sic] music.” I read that and find myself bogarting the catnip with very little intention of sharing. This is all up my alley, and I’m keeping it all for myself.

This’ll probably get me slapped with some unfortunate labels, such as “rude” and “precious” and “unworkwithable.” But I’ll risk it, and maybe to soften the tension I’ll give you a little taste of what you can expect from these Dachshund cats. The duo of Peter Webb on sax and synth and John Gregg on drums take the mind-meld game to the next level. Two performances, one on each side, recorded over a year apart, one in Atlanta and one in Athens (both in Georgia, meh), showcase Dachshund’s ability to ride off on a vibe into the long hours of the late evening. Using a synthesizer drone for balance, sax and drums flit about each other before galloping off in all directions, only to coalesce periodically to merge with each other. Kind of like if you were lost in the wilderness with a buddy and two horses and you kept going in opposite directions to see if you could find anything, always with the caveat that you’d meet back at a precise location to take stock of the situation.

Also – spoiler alert – some dude in the audience supposedly says “I’m crying!” at the end, but I missed it. Stick around for that, it’s probably hilarious.

Let’s all take a little time to remind ourselves why we’re here, and fete Fall Break Records upon their return. Let’s also buy Dachshund tapes. “Only 30 copies. Get em soon!”

Tabs Out | Jax Deluca – Organs in the Wind

Jax Deluca – Organs in the Wind
12.10.18 by Ryan Masteller

What’s that??! Is that … a gh-gh-gh-ghost? There’s definitely a spirit present in this room, as I can’t quite make it out in any sort of physical way. It manifests itself as if it’s a trick of the light, like my mind’s playing tricks on me, and I can’t quite screw my face up or squint my eyes properly to get the full focus of it. I may need help – someone summon a Mystery Machine and a stoned semi-talking dog so we can do this properly. I’ll ring the Harlem Globetrotters too to see if they’re available.

Oh, wait … no, no, it’s nothing to be alarmed at. It’s just this new Jax Deluca tape on ACR doing all that mental damage to me. I mean, it’s barely there – Deluca’s spectral whispering voice, gentle piano, and ambient textures float like mist in a midnight forest. No wonder I got all spooked over here, it’s the kind of thing that’s actually, well, spooky. Except when it’s so not spooky that it’s actually kind of soothing, more like a lullaby? And Deluca shoots more for gentleness and ethereality than despondence or even nostalgia? This is really as reflective as it gets – Deluca even says so herself: “These recordings are supposed to be listened [to] at a low volume in a dark space. A quiet cavern.”

So for sixty-one minutes Jax Deluca invades our headphone space with “Organs in the Wind,” hinting at things just outside our perception that are larger than us, that render us to seeming insignificance. Let the light, the spirit flow through body and bloodstream and guide you to greater understanding. “Organs” will definitely leave you in serene awe, especially if you devote your full attention to it.

And I feel like I have to beg forgiveness for making a Scooby-Doo reference while reviewing a serious tape. Sigh.

Edition of 100 available from ACR! Or, uh, 19 now. Sorry, I’m late to this.

Tabs Out | New Batch – Park 70

New Batch – Park 70
12.6.18 by Ryan Masteller

You might recognize Park 70 from their releases’ physical aesthetics alone: the Knoxville-based label drops everything enclosed in a lovely letterpressed O-card that includes a heavy card stock insert containing a replication of the outer cover art and additional information. The tapes themselves are clean and unadorned. Park 70 tapes are the very definition of minimal beauty.

I’m writing this at the tail end of November (you’ll read this months, maybe years later, I’m sure), so the time is still right to note that the Knoxvillains (haha, as opposed to Knoxvillians) have quietly slipped a new batch of their trademark wares into the world. You’ll not be surprised, then, that their sonic aesthetics also remain consistent, heavy on the serious long-form drone/noise/ambient and light on the jokey banter that you come to expect from us around here. I’m … sorry to disappoint you.


Sparkling Wide Pressure – Find a Frame
Another Tennessean, Frank Baugh has done his Sparkling Wide Pressure thing from the confines of Murfreesboro (where my brother lives, cool!) for quite a while now. “Find a Frame” continues his exploratory psychedelic ambient path, mixing snippets of found sound into a proto-vaporwave sludge that sounds like equal parts deconstructed noise and shamanistic desert jams. Meticulous and dynamic, sincere and weird, Baugh riffles through his inspirations and comes out the other end completely on his own terms. He even deigns to allow his own voice to be heard at times, giving “Find a Frame” a particularly personal feel. But there’s so much going on, and so much changes from track to track, that repeat listens are a must to pin everything down


Calineczka – The City Behind the Fence
Alicante, Spain–based artist Calineczka here presents “two miniatures on analog modular synthesizer” collected under the title “The City Behind the Fence” and dedicated to National Security Complex Y-12. Let’s … um … dig into all that a little bit, because there’s more going on here than the insistent drone Calineczka’s transmitting to us. First, these are not miniatures – each side presents a single 28.5-minute monolith of unfiltered tone. Second, the Y-12 National Security Complex is a “United States Department of Energy national Nuclear Security Administration facility located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.” True, “The City Behind the Fence,” which is likely in reference to the facility, feels like it’s penetrating you at a subatomic level, so there’s probably some nuclear fission happening that you may not be aware of as you listen. Third – are there magnets in nuclear physics? This sounds like really powerful magnets if you think about it. If your head was made of metal, “The City Behind the Fence” would pull it apart.


Grant Evans – Ephemerals
What is it with these guys? Grant Evans is also prolific, with a generous back catalog that you can sift through after you read this and listen to “Ephemerals.” There’s so much music between these artists, it’s just unbelievable. On “Ephemerals,” Evans, like Calineczka, has produced two sidelong tracks, each a fifteen-minute slab of roiling, tactile noise. “Grave” recalls digging in the night, nefarious work, unholy activity – or maybe just dirty work, without the whole wicked connotation. Who’s to say? Who are we to judge? I judge “A Green Lampshade Beside the Door,” because that color just doesn’t go with the rest of the décor. Green lampshade! Not in MY house. The more you stare at it, the more you listen to its namesake cassette track, the more it begins to make sense, though. It wavers, emanating its greenness from within, seemingly dosing you with its lampshadey vibrations. Not in MY house, lampshade! Not in… my… house… I love you lampshade.