Tabs Out | Jeff Tobias – Just What I Feel

Jeff Tobias – Just What I Feel

11.18.22 by Matty McPherson

We love the face and all the nonverbal cues it displays for us, don’t we folks? I wager you can take on any face and in 3-5 seconds practically have read it for all its worth; maybe you’d even be ballsy enough to wager you know that face’s life story, its retirement plan, and how it would fair were New York to suddenly be swallowed whole. I couldn’t claim to do this with Jeff Tobias’ face though; there’s too much winking and nodding on the “rectanguloid grotesquery sleeve” and melting catatonic catharsis on the inner j-card to properly quantify into a direct thought. It “just what I [he] feel” so to speak.

Tobias’ most recent cassette finds him at the center of two things: his burgeoning record label, Strategy of Tension and his sopranino saxophone solo in June of 2021. The former debuted proper at the start of the year with Tobias’ first proper solo endeavor, Recurring Dream, which documented in significant detail Tobias’ wry wit and maverick pop tendencies. The kind of pop that he’s long suggested but often shied away from in lieu of headier instrumental and socio-conscious endeavors with Sunwatchers and Modern Nature, just to name a few. Recorded in June 2021 (and mastered by Mr. Garden Portal himself, a nice nod to Tobias’ Athens, GA legacy and connections), Just What I Feel both keeps one foot in Tobias’ recent collaborative tapes with Shiroishi and Cooper, while finally giving him the space to make the 20-track, C29 experience of absolute “hey let’s make a most raucous noise that captures the modern spirit.” If it melts your face, well then that’s already going to plan.

Now though, Tobias is no “sax offender” (a title that belongs to Christopher Brett Bailey). Yet his 20 noise-excursions on the sopranino do present a moment of raw ingenuity with the vessel. Each track title/phrase more or less describes a scenario or imagines a face or body, that with which Tobias uses the sopranino to render in industrial sludge or free-jazz detail; Tobias seriously handles the sopranino as Einstürzende Neubauten handles a power drill, finding a strangely comforting texture to hold down an idea for around 50-odd seconds on average. As such, the tape’s pacing and general fleet action always keeps the listener guessing “what’s behind the corner”–whether that be a garden stroll drone, a garbage truck trying to move in reverse, or a prick’s smirk documented in grotesque sonic detail. In sticking to raw instrumentals and exploring these textures in concise manners, Tobias grants listeners the ability to piece together just what these sounds could represent on their own merits (well maybe not Lecturer, I think you can figure that out). Yet, the black humor of this all leaves behind a strange curio of late-pandemic era New York City; a truly situated dispatch of sprawling, unfettered noise if there was one.

Limited edition of 100 cassettes, w/ rectanguloid grotesquery sleeve in a brain pink shell, and a sticker, are available at the Jeff Tobias/Strategy of Tension Bandcamp Page

Tabs Out | MANAS – Alone We Are Alone As Far Down As the Sediment, Novatron – self titled

MANAS – Alone We Are Alone As Far Down As the Sediment, Novatron – self titled

11.15.22 by Matty McPherson

To put it forth simply, we need rollicking snapshots of bros being dudes. Preferably ones with the drums and guitars and whatever noisy cacophony they want to make. Personally, I find these recordings to be revelatory listens, taking all of the energy that the crescendo’d end of post-rocking has to offer and imbuing it with a life force that will go out kicking and screaming. There is nothing stately about the mosh pit when it hits with an endless, tumultuous energy of drums and guitar blowing up on top of each other. This is what the pre-and-post exclamation point change GYBE collective has championed for decades: a sound of buildings collapsing as a cacophony of tangible excitement.

I could use this to describe a couple handy releases from this year. One of which is the MANAS tape, Alone We Are Alone As Far Down As the Sediment (ft. N.R. Safi), from earlier this year that captures a 28 minute, 2019 performance from Asheville, North Carolina. Tashi Dorshi and drummer Thom Nguyen’s vision of free-jazz is that kind of raw catharsis that has a clearer lineage in between Bill Nace and Lightning Bolt than jazz, but also that’s why when they come together it has a blasting concept. Heavy in-the-red with crunch, the duo and Safi strike like lightning. An endless barrage of noise–the kind delivered like its a m60 being fired until it goes click–is streamed from the ferric directly through the headphones and to the brain. It’d be too unnecessary to describe it much further, maybe outside a comparison to the great 75 Dollar Bill–if Che and Rick gave everyone speed at their Ornette Coleman closer cover they perform and then proceeded to let it rip, that is. That the tape itself had to be split across side A and side B is perhaps its only egregious error. Yet such is a minimal critique. For Radio Khiyaban, a Netherlands based label specializing in “underground transmissions on arts culture centered around the greater SWANA (Southwest Asian and North African) region,” the tape is another huge play and curatorial boon. The peerless, situated works the label is pulling out of Europe will peg it a label to watch in 2023.

The other release that has been recently receiving a huge burst of enthusiasm on the hi-fi is Novatron’s self-titled recordings. It comes out of Berlin-based Kitchen Leg Records. Limited edition tapes abound of cut-n-paste j-card aesthetics; nothing can be as seems even if a “weirdo” label may be hiding at the edges of a many Bandcamp pages. Anyways, Novatron is the dupo of Tatsumi Ryusui (gtr) and Itta Nakmura (drums). The duo take a garage-fidelity approach to creating massive valleys and peaks of crashing undistilled noise rock goodness. The promise of this tape’s ability to travel “to the infinite and back to your seat” is indeed with merit. The a-side sputters and refuses to let up its tenacious energy, as endless guitar drones and solos firebomb the mid-frequencies; its raw energy the source of about five different genre classifications from drone to acid psych, which make it such a versatile front half. Meanwhile, the ever-stable drumming of Nakamura, is a bellwether for the low end. Amongst a litany of delay pedals, help terraform the rollicking garage sound into an almost-techno frenzy of “Not Yet”, the kind of noise machinations that anyone could rack an infinite wombo combo out of. It’s the kind of energy that side B further warps and processes into the longform “After Break.” Of anything it sounds most similar to, it’s shockingly Nick Zanca’ Cacerolazo III. That was a piece based around a drumsolo’s delight going to the heavens, and for the entire 16 mintues, Ryushi and Nakamura team up to move themselves towards to no. 1 spot in heaven. Just a slow cymbal rush steadied by motorik impulses–until it becomes glitched out glimmers–as guitars layered over and over bask in the glory through a processed, warped tone. At some point, it will sound like a Sonic Youth bootleg from 1985 and you will be thankful.

When you enter the working world, you’re given a government mandated lunch break of 30 minutes. You simply just cannot ascertain or listen like you want to. It’s perhaps why I’ve had such a liking to shorter, longform oriented tapes and listens. At a certain point, Im caught in the piece and Im feeling the rays of a low fall sun glide over my hair, and just letting my mouth remain ajar. Novatron hit like that and they could for you as well.

Tabs Out | Sentry – Perfect Blue Bubbles

Sentry – Perfect Blue Bubbles

11.10.22 by Matty McPherson

We turn our attention today towards a Brooklyn “Mostly Electronic Cassette Label” upstart, Jollies. I’ve been paying attention to Jollies here and there throughout the past couple of years, as the label has slowly built a catalog of vigorous brainy zones amongst visceral pleasure. African Ghost Valley and Geomag are both easy highlights. In the span of about 3 years, the label has logged on with 16 endeavors for the hi-fi, and Sentry’s Perfect Blue Bubbles might just take the cake for the premiere zone from the label to date.

Now Sentry is no first time caller, long time listener. The Sheffield, UK-based Jonathan George Fox has been releasing tapes under this moniker (amongst Aches, Foundling, j. Fox, and Power Therapy) for a bit, most often through his Flight Coda label. Perfect Blue Bubbles might as well be a prime entry way into Fox’s world of sounds. Ambient synths as a baseline for distinct club-oriented beats, hi-hats, and bass thumps. It’s not an earth-shattering template: “UBLVBLHD” is the platonic example, working as icy-clean four-on-the-floor that chills accordingly. Yet, this is definitively a rip-roaring good time, especially thanks to small left-turn details. You’ll notice that on your first go-around, where “Citiopolis” drops its rhythm out and lets the synths gently levitate until hi-hats are called back for a sudden dance floor bop; how “Boiler Person” keeps one foot tuned to an ethereal amalgamation of acid-house and another foot in abstract industrial-dance patterns, until it suddenly merges the two and a flood of zany, jammy gamer synths rush through; high BPM energy like “Donut 2″ that revive the fervor of an R&S 12” while maintaining those airy synthesizer melodies that keep your body gliding.

And that’s just the first side. In fact, I’d make a gander that Fox was using all that energy as build-up for a more abrasive “knock-you-on-yr-ass” back half clap back (at least the one minute Good Clean interlude suggests he could go even further). “Arc” thumps with a the quaking power of a giant. “Chance” follows building off those Arc drums, with a corroding liquid synth squiggle. “Is This Real?” isn’t a rhetorical question for Drew Daniel, it starts at a subterranean level and brilliantly moves it sound palette through murky and clear channels like yr traversing different soundproof chambers of a warehouse rave. A lot of this energy does culminate in Workcitipoly, which perpetually is going haywire with vocal samples, sudden synth cut outs, and the best THUMPS that four on the floor muster. It’s a rollicking finale, and there ain’t much more to say but that.

Limited edition tape with full color double sided j-card, professionally dubbed glitter cassette with body print, is available at the Flight Coda bandcamp pages

Tabs Out | Steve Long – Code Talker II

Steve Long – Code Talker II

11.8.22 by Matty McPherson

My greatest achievement all year may remain sharing Keith Fullerton Whitman’s Playthroughs with two dozen individuals, and finding out that about two dozen people indeed quite enjoy the process of a long sustained drone. Now since then though, I’ve had hunger pains for a longer, more singular drone. And don’t get me wrong, we’ve had an incredible Pipe Organ drone piece this summer with Living Torch. Yet that is one for the CD heads & at half an hour, still feels TOO short! I need thick C60 with not two, but ONE single piece stretched out over that hour.

I suppose Astral Spirits has understood that need succinctly. The label has spent the past two years refining its capacity for what a free noise label can entail; often at the cost of a lot of jazz vinyl overshadowing what was for a time inconsistently released, yet meticulous fascinating noise tapes (with greater global curation). I honesty haven’t reviewed any of these batches because personal words and situated reports elude me, as well as a shift in personal tastes that honestly err closer towards Astral Editions (with its own upcoming tape batch that has caught me hook, line, and sinker). Yet, there’s always a joy to opening the Bandcamp email and being giddily surprised, and in the best of cases outright transported. Right now, with Steve Long’s Code Talker II, I’m legit being transported out of the tasting room where rick rubin produced strokes is blaring, and towards a 4th dimension that seems to collapse the five senses into a blank slate. I am as much a part of the piece as it pervades over the sound system.

Code Talker II is 56 minute and 30 seconds, with two samples available on bandcamp. It features Steve Long on Pipe Organ and Henry Fraser on Double Bass. If you added a minimal drum beat to this, you’d be a Kompakt techno piece from 2k2. If you added a moody synthesizer, you could probably accidentally fake yourself into thinking you were listening to an Ohio komische tape circa 2k9. If you added a litany of bird sounds or field recordings, well then you probably actually are listening to a Pauline Oliveros composition from the 1980s. Long and Fraser’s lockstep constitutes an honest to god immaculate template for a drone, faintly rising in volume over the near-hour, scratching out a hypnotic sine-wave. Not quite brooding, not quite fully reverent (until that final stretch where all cards are on the table), but damn near precocious and fleet! Code Talker instills a utilitarianism in listeners. At its peak you have a cocoon of lightly crushing, yet positively healing come-down tones reverberating. And the longer you fall into the cycle, naturally the more precise and ecstatic the tones reveal themselves to be. A radiance really starts to circle around in the 35 minute mark that swaggers to the closing. Yet all the while, this remains a rather personalized breathing exercise that never loses sight or cheats you out. It is a radically honest execution of a drone.

If Long’s piece strikes you as a featherweight spell or a talismanic sleight, I would not be surprised. Long is a native Brooklynite that teaches at the New School, in between guest lecturing prestigious high school music & art programs and grant-writing his way to checks from the City Artist Corps. He’s been tinkering with the Code Talker series since 2019, envisioning small glimpses of the music as far back as 2005. It appeared in recorded form last year on Nat Baldwin’s TripTicks Tapes in an edition of 60 cassettes. A third variation with Fraser and John McCowen is to be premiered this fall, with an additional two pieces adding towards a quintet in the works. This second variation on Astral Spirits may be the best encapsulation of the piece’s pertinence. Long has dutifully noted that the name is a reference to the “code-talker paradox” which is a reference to the work of linguist Mark Baker’s analyses on WWII Navajo code talkers and the “paradox in which language can both assist and hinder communication”. He personalized it, considering the ways in which as a gay man he has to contemplate his own presentation of language within various in-groups. Considering the sonic touchpoints I brought up a paragraph above, the piece casually yet inspiringly hits that mark. And as a result, it does ground and frame any space that it is beamed out of over a hi-fi audio system. It’s an act of sanctity and spatial purification; not a containment but a reclamation and honest hope to provide such spaces where words and barriers can collapse.

Shockingly very few tapes I’ve heard this year have tried to endeavor themselves to this lofty of goals. In fact, really only the work of Eris Drew and Maya Bouldry-Morrison’s T4TLUVNRG dance tapes (Beige’s undersung AMEN! Vol 1. and Maya’s own Love Hypnosis Vol. 2) have hit this peak, albeit from a contextually different angle. It puts Long in tip top company though, and stands as one of the finest drone releases on tape in 2022.

First pressing of 200 copies. Available from the Astral Spirits Bandcamp Page

Tabs Out | Burning Plastic Blues Band – Peculiar Refractions in the Fullness of Time

Burning Plastic Blues Band – Peculiar Refractions in the Fullness of Time

11.7.22 by Matty McPherson

Unifactor’s Fall 2022 Batch arrived quietly in the night with a graphic redesign emphasizing a special blend of rudimentary geometry that suggest electronic sleights and dimensions. As ever, Unifactor remains a majestic stop n’ shop for the latest in “the noises people make out in the midwest area writ large”. The network of alum that sprout out from Jason Gercyz’ label always know to use their Unifactor release wisely as a liminal zone to hash out a newfound MO or let loose with jam logic outside their own canons. Noah Depew is sort of label alum–having designed j-cards for the spring 2020 batch right as COVID hit into high gears. He’s done bips and baps of solo tapes amongst time in solo configurations. But, this is his time to prove his one man show, The Burning Plastic Blues Band. Even if a noisenik like Noah Dephew may not be a household name, the passion is tenacious and is a radical act of serious leisure He culls together a incandescent vision on Peculiar Refractions in the Fullness of Time with a new slight thematic endeavor towards electronic noise and irradiant synthesizer wonders that feel homespun.

Now with a name like that and a title “Peculiar Refractions in the Fullness of Time” (amongst the track title “Boomer’s Discotheque”) you’re probably wondering, is this guy opening for 2k22 Stereolab? Sadly, no (the other lads are a talented crew though). His release though is an absolute colossal one guy setup: 80s Korg synth, couple nice gtrs, Eurorack, 5U custom modular system. Lotta ideas in those bad boys that I imagine the groop could salute. For in the hands of Dephew, he makes some absolutely warped, almost-pop acid-logic jams. Side A is the rapturous, if not wonky, side. Refracted’s mass of synthesizer arpeggios, galactic bass, and swizzling ephemera introduce us to Dephew’s knack for pacing. Looping swirly baselines and synthesizer twirls coalesce and interlock on each other jamming out. Yet, that brief aura of exhilaration and transcendence slyly suggests that he isn’t content staying in one position; motion must be activated. When it fades back in, Splinter Cycle opens with a beguiling arpeggio bleep-down and rollicking movement, that begins to de-emphasize the bleep-down in lieu of wonky alien-green bass goo. Those kinds of eerie sounds follow on the anti-lounge of Compulsion, as well as Acceptance; the latter piece in particular finds a generous helping of unnerved haptic flickers being cooed into gargantuan bliss via synthesizer patch layering and near-voice digital harmonics until its just a bubble bath.

Side B is the “jammier” side, a sort of 4-part suite. Although calling it that still detracts from the austerity of its ambient tones and uneasy feelings that arise. You might wonder what such an environment entitled “Boomer’s Discotheque” entails, as its crystalline yet oh so icy-synths recall ammonia sterilized sanatoriums more than ancient dance-floors preserved like fossils in amber. It vaguely begs a question of 20th century social spaces and why they hold such a reverence even as the energy flashes and libido have all but left. When it fades out, it wildly shifts towards the slow and steady tropical synth arpeggios of Shattered Crystal 77, a jam of spidery webs and connect-the-dots rigidity. Eventually though, for two minutes Dephew hits a blissed plateau with the mineral water stillness of Blue Delusion. Closing with Avenue of Peace, Dephew mends the most spacious and ample of this open zone sound design. As weightless as the piece may starts, as soon as he dials into his univox, he unleashes a droney and vivid guitar solo. At first, it skips across the speakers, before lashing and sashaying about like a moment of weightless radiance–nothing in Unifactor catalog has quite sounded this blissed since the 2019 High Aura’d tape. A well warranted panorama of Dephew’s talents, and a bonafide high point for the label’s curation

I spent a solid month with this tape only because I really could not quite untangle the words I wanted to say here. Peculiar Refractions’ cyclical logic, itself the result of that Stereolab-name drop worthy sound design and technology, just happens to fulfill a rather particular realm of deep listening ambience that has been missing in the tape underground this year; the kind not of lost futures, but of possible musics. Perhaps you might think so as well.

UF052 is available as a Limited Edition cassette and as part of the Unifactor Batch #17 Bundle at the Unifactor Bandcamp Page

Tabs Out | Natural Dice – s/t

Natural Dice – s/t

11.4.22 by Matty McPherson

Dan Melchoir is a phenomenally busy type of guitarist. Releases of any and all calibers have popped up across an underground network with striking consistency on the annual. Yet, Melchoir’s most accomplished releases of the decade have been time-aversive ruminations. Cudighi’s one-two knockout of Odes and (the even more warped) Other Odes presented an image of a guitarist decades into his career contemplating and grieving with guitar and 4-track lo-fi karaoke machine recording offered candlelit, insular paeans. That he opted to let the pieces linger and simmer for years, avowing them of one context and thrsuting them towards another, suggested a new process of songwriting that could be fleshed out in the future. A year of instrumental guitar tape trading with Jason Henn presented such an opportunity with their self-titled tape under the Natural Dice moniker back in March, released on Radical Documents.

The tape j-card doesn’t tell you name of these cuts across the C36. The Bandcamp legitimately just separates the tracks as two side long pieces with 5 songs for the front side, 4 for the back. But I don’t really think we need to know names here. For, the process of the overdub is really quite simple. One gentleman graces one style of guitar chugging and the other gentleman responds with his style of choice accordingly. For both individuals, the goal is both to either maintain a drawling, lucid rhythm OR entertain the possibility of upending their partner’s riff with their own slick left-turns (noise, organ, angular guitar chord). For both, this presents itself with a myriad of possibilities that do not quite stick to one definitive style. As a result, Natural Dice has a gracious, personable characteristic. We really are just hearing two guitar brethren send each other messages and try to see what might be referenced or contemplated, and from there what is “realized.” The tape may be dated back to early spring, but it’s carries with it the gusto of a low-winter-sun that’s so appealing right now.

It’s a style of playing that probably evokes a greater realm of sounds somewhere between 90s New Zealand guitar tinkering (think Roy Montgomery’s Kranky releases or Drag City’s essential I Hear the Devil Calling Me 7″) and doom metal. It only takes a few minutes of Side A (Inorganic Shuttlecock) for this approach to unleash a drone folk and noise jam freakout that proves that rather well. Wisps meanwhile, hushes down to a just Mark Hollis’ “play one note well” approach as one of the duo loops a singular chord that sounds of Runeii in acetate demo formation. “Convenient Amnesia” is borderline Labradfordian, with a droning organ invoking wide desolations as one chord being strung producing an affect akin to hearing a train cross the tracks. Schweik, which closes Side A, in particular captures both guitarists chewing on a classic doom-laden drone that gives a metallic bent to the dusty folk.

Side B’s more precocious and graceful. Underneath a low-end stuttered rhythm, edges of reverb produce melodic, sun-drenched tones through “The Genesis Restaurant.” All the while, a spoken word sample flickers as if its coming from a nitrate film print one room over. Definitive highlight “Dailies -> Song for Snacks” follows next, a raucous, bluesy 75 Dollar Bill-style guitar piece of two mavericks clashing. Each taking their respective halves to construct an exponential realization that ruminates and chews the scenery when it’s not in the nitty gritty downtime. It’s that middle spot that suddenly sees saloon piano keys enter across the edges of the mix and the drone become stretched to jumbo size, evoking High Aura’d. Final closer, “The Speed Bag Bible” legit could have closed Gonerfest 19, a perfect jam and victory capper to the litany of sounds offered up.

Edition of 100 Limited Edition Cassettes available at the Radical Documents Bandcamp Page

Tabs Out | Cole Pulice – Scry

Cole Pulice – Scry

11.2.22 by Matty McPherson

I am still most fascinated about Cole Pulice’s approach to an oatmeal breakfast. Whereas many of us look at the template and decree “Sweeten it! Throw down chocolate or brown sugar!” Cole instead considers how a savory mending of flavors (kale and garlic cloves) can open a new pathway from a rigidity set tradition. It’s the same base but a whole new class of thinking.

Pulice’s music has a variety of tags and eccentricities that as well, expand our ways of thinking. The kinds that lightfully tease and playfully stretch the ways in which one can approach their digitally processed saxophone recordings. We’ve seen their work in two labels and one consistent collaborator (Lynn Avery, aka Iceblink) that seems to be fostering these sounds with a curious open heart: Orange Milk and Moon Glyph. For the former label, the LCM Signal Quest tape of fall 2020 is perhaps the greatest introductory text into the world of “goo core”: noise being approached like bright, malleable plato instead of crushing, carbon-black steel. For the latter label, Pulice has been tied to “ambient jazz,” a moniker that moonlights more as a non-de-plume for people who need a shorthand to easily establish more free-form, textured recordings that just happen to be based around synthesizers and brass instrumentation.

That isn’t to say that the work Pulice has been doing over the past 2.5+ years, which has slowly teeterd out at the behest of delays or other discrepancies, does not intersect with a jazz context. Their CV on the Moon Glyph label–features on Lynn Avery’s 2020 Iceblink LP, their blissed out duo tape from February, and Pulice’s previous solo album, all albums that timespend and pitch shift reliable jazz contexts into personable, warped adventures. All of these releases have been quite exceptional in their ability to “zone”. Yet Pulice’s latest, Scry, is the first release where I feel as if the Oakland/Minneapolis artist has hit a tremendous stride in capturing the blissful quirks of digitally processed saxophone and (wind) synthesizer that imagines a true open world.

Scry’s near-three year development, articulated into the C28’s 8 cuts, willfully invokes 20th century electroacoustic mavericks. Hassell, Behrman, Oliveros, Budd, Brown, & Payne are all alluded to as points of interest. Pulice’s fascination with the mending of hardware and software found in these maverick’s projects inspired themself to create their own pedal board set-up where they are able to control the signal processing in-real time. Even still, Pulice’s approach is deeply playful and jubilant, not merely attuned to just perfoming a tribute as a stock classicist would. Within this approach Pulice parallels the nativity and utilitarian awe of those electroacoustic pioneers, capturing lightning in a bottle experiments and balladry that eclipses kankyō ongaku.

One humongous factor that simultaneously separates Pulice from the classics and advances their own electroacoustic vision is their devout adherence to a “gamer logic”, as it could be dubbed. The lad carries a knowledge base and dedication to the run of 90s Square SNES and PS1 RPGs. I would not be surprised if they have spent time in video game worlds just in awe of the pixels. The quips of Square’s detailed sound design are reflected in Cole’s own, sometimes within the brief sleights that occupy 4 tracks or as a feature of a main piece. The titles of side A opener HP / MP and side B opener Moon Gate Rune are not jargons but bristlings and twinkly baroque stage setters. Their brevity carries the speed and fluidity of scrolling through a video game menu screen, loading up and customizing all the options. Another brevitous cut, Driftglass warps one out of wherever they are to a hilltop of delicate spirally, minimal textures. Spool is as gaseous and droney as the tape functions at, still inquisitive and carrying all the hallmarks of traversing an open-air bazaar in a port district. These four shorter pieces are not interludes though, moreso earnestly cunning improvisations that gesture towards the thrill of being lost in role-playing.

There are still, mesmerizing songs and goodness! These compositions are akin to a fall vacation in any futuristically fictive way or fact-laden nostalgic past. Astral Cowpoke is defined by its steady drum machine track as Pulice’s saxophone squiggles around into unwieldy sound tornadoes–all the while, small flickers of gurgling bass or chipper “secret collect!” noises reflect the most brilliant serendipitous moments of finding yourself in a strange place. City in a City rivals Patrick Shiroishi at his most revelrous. Stripping back the digital processing, Pulice lets a simple piano loop and bassline be the framework as their saxophone strikes up a watercolor still life of domestic bliss: quiet kitchen cooking, frivolous boyish activities, and a sapphire blue sky are all images one could deduce from the Fuubutsushi-adjacent recording. Glitterdark subtracts the saxophone (or purposely warps one looping sound out of it) in lieu of pushing forth a synthesizer at its most revenant. It can recall grandiose cathedrals as much as time scanning Forerunner databases.

That brings us to the closing title track. At once its Pulice’s most meat n’ potatoes composition, the one that could distinctly have fit on a previous of their Moon Glyph endeavors. It moves hypnotically, teasing out small tantalizing quips within the sound design while allowing the quiet, personal warmth of their saxophone to foreground the track in a bliss state. About halfway, a lulling, softly wonky loop creates a percussive beat that every element seems to respond and move to, if not outright…yearn for. It’s rare that an amalgamation of sound, stripped back and analyzed part by part, reveals each sound fitting like puzzle pieces. They do not just quite ache to be pieced together, but to amount to a paean for seeing a future. And Scry really do be crystalline gazing into a future.

Pro-dubbed cassette, imprint, sticker, full color artwork available from the Moon Glyph Bandcamp

Tabs Out | Muave – IMAGINARY

Muave – IMAGINARY

10.18.22 by Matty McPherson

It’s nearing another big number (400 to be precise), and Already Dead remains a most dedicated (domestic) label when it comes to a consistent barrage of new sounds; from whatever is happening anywhere at any time, really. It’s a bonafide minor league where the beauty of its variety keeps my eyes opened. Anything can catch me. Case in point: the label opened 2022 with an immediate leftfield and most welcome zoner that captured a real slice of a moment. Muave’s Imaginary. Returning alum, Nandele Maguni, finds himself in a trio with Chris Born and João Roxo during a live performance at the Gala Gala Festival in Maputo, just a little more than a year ago.

Maguni’s been developing beats for an era; earliest I’ve seen of his uploaded them to Bandcamp dating back to 2013. He’s worked in and around the coastal capitol of Moçambique, Maputo, and its scene of electronic music, with a speciality pushed towards tactical refinements of trap. He’s denoted trap as a “warrior sound” The pulse of the Africa. Interviews with Maguni reflect a person who has a dedicated ear and pulse to the modern sounds of Maputo–traffic and coal carts, industrialization and street culture. It’s a dedicated, craft for Maguni that he brings a swiftly resilient and consistent process to. In one interview, he claimed that once a beat is done, after a few tweaks he moves on. This can make for bonafide bangers, but his under praised Plafonddeinst tape for Already Dead back in 2020 revealed his capacity for ambience and transitory affairs. The Muave trio actively twerk with that vision, adding in an extra laptop and a whiff of ambient keys that present delirious, multifaceted soundscapes.

Perhaps this is because the trio are able to squeeze a lot of finesse and push them into time-bending loops out of their four main pieces on the tape. Each one is a sort of quadrant this sound can tackle, all built around trap’s mechanics, but now pitched shifted and warped into ambient big bass chill out, acid techno gone wonky, street-level dub of a most industrial accord, and longform club DJ bangers. Opening fourteen minute cut, S701 Noise, brings around late 80s synth bass (enough to recall Massive Attack’s Five Man Army), glitched out space electronics, and just a pulsing trap line that’s swinging and grounding all of those elements. The cut’s pulse is sinister and riveting even as it harkens to a chill out room. Born and Roxo slowly tease out soundscapes and let them, confidently evolve into a pervasive dub fog. Ambient trap can be a detailed listen.

It can also just be a fun as hell one; Nalombo is a steady 7 minute absolute pout of amped up boppin’ bliss. The video linked below of Maguni is absolutely wonderful; a euphoria and ecstatic charisma hangs over his face of what shenanigans the trio just cracked themselves into. The whole thing looks considerably “hype,” recalling his rooftop sampling and display of FRESH beats in you can find online. 09 00 24 builds from the ground up, with nature samples and wind instruments setting a stage for those lime green tasty synths from before with a slick low end of trap rhythm that hit with a punching bag knockout. It’s sounds like a flowing trance state for the trio. Enough to knock psychedelic void energy on knockout “final boss” of a closer. Motorcycles, static electricity, whistles, alarms; all tied together by dub texture. The immediacy of the tantalizingly metallic trap percussive sounds come out on the laptop, but the tape listen over speakers continued in that ambient-esque lineage. Truly a blessed release.

VERY Limited Cassette & VHS, as well as a Bundle of the two are available at the Already Dead Bandcamp & Already Dead Tapes Webstore

Tabs Out | Ian MacPhee – Everything

Ian MacPhee – Everything

10.7.22 by Matty McPherson

Ventura art space show with a five band bill can put you in contact with a lot of chaps. Had a moment to catch up with my two favorite Cal Arts oriented Flenser-core acts: Sprain (LP2 one day in another dimension) and Drowse (who is currently working on a doctorate there in performing arts; rock on sir). Both continuing to evolve as humans and refine their own documentations of 2020s era decrepit mindsets and botched pathways to human transcendence; alright that’s just a fancy way for me to say “I think their doom-laden sounds hit the q-zone for what DIY can provide at the moment.” Anyways, one of the chaps on the bill was Ian MacPhee. He’s done an ample job keeping one ear tethered to the world of Moon Glyph, Aural Canyon, HausMo, Orange Milk, and other ambience in Simi Valley, a special kind of suburban dystopia.

Everything is MacPhee’s C20ish demo release (2 tracks on Bandcamp, with a third bonus on the tape), likely the first sounds he’s decided to amply share with the world. “Line 6 DL4, Yamaha Portasound, the sounds outside my house [in Simi Valley, CA].” that’s the template he’s serving on. It likely deserves a home in your collection if you have a heart for “freeway ambience” and “subterranean overpass rave.” Seriously, that’s the best way I can describe the longforms and the surprisingly detailed short rave single that interludes between them. The title track lands somewhere between whatever maverick energy Jefre Cantu-Ledesma found himself nestled with on the radiant longform work of Tracing Back the Radiance. Seriously, just imagine a gargantuan six lane interstate carrying you out of the SFV by moonlight. MacPhee might as well have, taking a mix of chill out room ambience (from small electronic squiggles to field recordings) and pouring it into a soft yet powerfully radiating guitar drone. It’s the whole framework of the Side A longform, those chords played out like a series of deep breaths, longing to glide off towards somewhere far away.

Meanwhile, “LEAVING” opens side 2 as a rather enigmatic ethereal near-rave soundscape. Guitar reverb mended by murky drum machines that sound like they were captured from one flooded basement over; all the while the edges of the sound frizzle and fry. It’s a memory of an energy flash more than a snapshot of a rave outright, a fantastic proof of concept for where MacPhee could well end up on his next release. Shame it can only sustain itself for three-ish minutes, as that frizzle sudden deteriorates the ferric until it just swallows itself whole, but then again that’s what makes it such a potent track. Spring pt. 2 appears to close at the tape; it’s the most straightfoward ambient cut as well as a bit of a ghostly sound hunt. MacPhee teases small glimmers of feedback while a strange, squiggly aberration tip toes across the frequencies. It ebbs and flows, using small impasses of noise as if to suggest a tension. Although its quick fade out perhaps leaves the track as is, more a suggestion of what’s to come than a full blown assault.

Limited run of hand dubbed cassettes, design by Jeremy Colegrove, available at the Ian MacPhee Bandcamp page

Tabs Out | Invertebrates – Demo

Invertebrates – Demo

10.3.22 by Matty McPherson

If my brother is sending me a punk tape and I really haven’t a proper clue of what Im to do with it, I let it sizzle. I’d dub this an act of tender love and affection, but the truth is I should of had six minutes sooner! if you have six minutes, you should just do the right thing and take every tape as a study break from real work–enough to study those differences between the shades of hardcore punk; this is real scholarly activity that puts you on the level of Zorn! Such was the case with my excursion listening to Invertebrates, a Richmond, VA based punk quartet that my brother happened to make posters for and somehow knew to save me a tape. Thanks brother, I dearly appreciated this.

Anyways, with limited promotion, Raleigh, NC-based label Sorry State Records and Invertebrates seemed to quickly and quietly sell out of two runs of tapes for this demo. Exactly what was the fuss? Well Chubb, Merm, Jerry, and Minx–some of which are members of Public Aid and “NC punk legends WRIGGLE”–hashed out a bonafide burst of hardcore, pristine ’82 vintage energy; any SST tape hound who thinks “Spot-handshake deal” production is the pinnacle of guitar music will find joy in these 4 cuts. They screen printed the tapes, with slight deviations between the covers. It’s a power move that genuinely indicates “this ain’t no crapshoot, but a quality product that is one of a kind and yours to cherish.”

Over the course of nearly six minutes, the quartet hit the ground with mad-capper energy, power chords, and an unwieldy good time. It’s not so much that this does extend quite well to the pits of Gonerfest or the pages of Maximum Rock n’ Roll, but that these little energy burst is primed and directed with finesse. Clearly, these 4 tracks are explosive, but its a precise “carpet-bomb” type of explosion they burst out. Even while all the cuts are kept to the red (with vocals delivered over a collect call line from hell), there’s a significant push-and-pull melody that keeps a zany, unkempt swagger; the kind that ebbs and flows enough to tell that even if the guitar is slashing and going “AWOOGA,” its the drums who run the tempo and dictate the direction. Such is in particular on Shit Pit’s devious breakdown and shotgun rush blast beats that practically kick the tempo up high enough to force the guitar solo to speed up.

Demo sold out at all sources, although it remains name your price, with all proceeds going to the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project. Chip in, won’t you?