Tabs Out | TRAYSH – Shady Favorites

TRAYSH – Shady Favorites

8.3.23 by Matty McPherson

So just what is it about Husky Pants and cassette tapes? This is no longer a flirtation but a fixation, if not olive branch, towards the format fulfilling a strange curatorial impulse that’s caught in a lineage between a small bounty of jam-oriented, free-sprawling musics. That’s partially why when Ryley Walker releases a free jazz trio, it not only makes sense, but warrants as much attention as an Astral Spirits vintage. And for good reason! Have you seen the name of the Traysh trio? Daniel Van Duerm, Andrew Scott Young and Ben Billington. These aren’t just ten dollar (triple) names that warrant major billing on the tape releases and any fairgrounds where the ringling brothers once set up, but names rooted deep in Chicago musics. From Billington’s Quicksails to Young’s long collaborations with Walker, amongst Van Duerm’s time in AAVD Trio (who’s 2020 Orb Tapes remains one of the label’s strongest off-center noise curations); Traysh might as well be moonlighting as the Chicago Underground Trio for this era Chicago tape watchers.

And like good ECM warpers and second hand shop sound snatchers, Traysh’s debut Shady Favorites is a twisted left-field ode to the crate digging and scene watching. This is the kind of rollicking musician muscle for the jazz fan with both one hand on the 70s Miles jamming and another on Lounge Lizards/Saccharine Trust’s idea of a jazz for the punk basement. If Emergency Group hadn’t the rigid restraint and adherence to the motorik impulse on their February effort, it’s possible we would have seen territory akin to where Traysh goes. For there is a familiarity in the warming tones Van Duerm hits at with his ever reliant electric piano melodies and grooved out organ solos; as is Scott Young’s bass lines or guitar licks that reinforce the groove and let it sprawl or keep steadfast hustle. Yet Billington has a capacity to keep a normal time, or invert with sporadic frills and sudden solo sleights to upend the tiro’s almost-lockstep; or even with a synthesizer of his own to force everyone down their own crooked paths. Sick With Experience, their pinnacle jam, might buoy others with its true commitment to each member hashing out their own crooked sonic shapes. It comes together in harmonious deposits near its first third and finale that toy with silken noir theatrics, but a tumultuous middle section reinforces an underlying punk dissonance.

Their side B pushes up the hazy psychedelia. Van Duerm’s electronics adding snippets of otherworldly eerie aura, while Billington’s drum strike up claustrophobic, centripetal space. Meanwhile, Young’s guitar on Paint Sink is closer to the wooze of a pedal steel, while his bass plucking is akin to a marijuana cigarette wrapped in an American Spirits slowly spinning out. It’s our only buoy before the absolute technocolor storm that is the free jazz breakdown. Sutra Baths (“a great place to visit” – me) saunters and swells amongst that finger picking and synthesizer wail, natural crescendoes before coming back down to a Billington break that’s got the sweat of paranoia thick on it. Ever Over, the most pulped out cut, pushes the synth drone that’s sort of been suggested in the previous 4 cuts to the foreground, bellying into a massive hurricane with the organ before sputtering to a fine dandy conclusion.

Limited “spooly” Tape now available from the Husky Pants Bandcamp Page. The tape stops at Ever Over, but the gang were kind enough to include a digital bonus that surmises the veracity of this session.

Tabs Out | tondiue – Harvest

tondiue – Harvest

8.1.23 by Matty McPherson

There are several blue rooms that we encounter in our lives from time to time. Take for instane, the AT&T Blue Room, a streaming application that you could watch coachella through with 2k9 state of the art internet! Or how about The Orb – Blue Room, the 40 minute maxi single with Jah Wobble on bass and a Top of the Pops appearance in which a friendly game of chess was played. I’ve returned to the later a lot during spring and summer, partially because I find Blue Room’s sequencing to have an expansive, composer-oriented idea of what it was to accomplish: a water walk for ravers, basically. Such things are quite giving.

It’s Tuesday morning and I woke up to 2 notifications, one of which from a gentleman in Europe imploring me to look at the cassette(!) Resident Advisor just reviewed. And immediately based on the “Side A Continuous” & “Side B Continuous” mixes of tondiue’s Harvest, it seemed like a given that a lot of early 90s Orb energy was being summoned into this 60-minute tour-de-force; one as giving as that water walk perhaps. tondiue’s Harvest is a particular creative beast comprised of 2 ~30 minute longforms that terraform their way through their 3 parts. Cameron Kelley, a Pacific Northwest soundsmith and clubber based up in Seattle, is the producer and composer of these gargantuan pieces. They were both of which were written and performed for the 2022 Ground Hum & Active/Passive festivals in the Pacific Northwest, which might be a bit of a key giveaway to the general pacing of these pieces and their regionality. However, I genuinely do not see eye to eye with the resident advisor’s review of this piece’s influences, especially because so much of what Harvest represents is early 90s Mr. Modo catalog.

It’s a credit to Kelley that Lilypad purposely wants you to spread out and sprawl through the reef of its first dozen or so minutes. There’s more in common with Pacific Northwest stalwarts PJS’ sense of stilted atmospherics and vibes than outright rave noise or an endless spiraling crescendo found here. There’s walloping arpeggio and flexuous vibratos that give the sense of a close encounter with a galactic entity, but it’s only a few hazy reverberations away from full on rural psychedelia. By the piece’s second progression, watery percussive, akin to well…lilypads, and slight alien noise begins to give a form and retracts the ambient sprawl into a forward momentum. Suddenly, we’re in that final third, slinking and shimmering our way to the finish. It’s here where Kelley really hits on the pulp quirks that makes early Orb still such a delight to turn to. Bleeps, ray gun sounds, random voices wailing or sprawling out…it’s a giggly kind of psychedelic dance that beckons to you to come in without ever devolving to insular headphone music. All neatly tied to a bow as in its final moment it recalls the piece’s opening vibratos into a kickin’ breakbeat that quickly evaporates into liquid komische.

Koye almost preserves that liquid komische state at the start, just now as a radiating drone; massive EQ’d frequencies rising and falling as synthetic bass chews the sides of the scene. It’s effervescent, lucid dreamscaping for that first dozen or so minutes, only slowly introducing a beat that sounds akin to synthetic bowls being manipulated. Eventually by its middle mark, tondiue has revealed a drum pattern & ambience akin to the work of Bill Laswell’s Material of the early 90s or the Towers of Dub themselves; if you know Material’s Mantra (the praying mantis mix done by the Orb), then a lot of the piece’s tribal techno/”is this O.Rang?” codifiers and energy snap into focus. Seriously, by Koye’s second half, tondiue is full-blown in an Astralwerks Excursions in Ambience revival mode straight gunning to get on a theoretical volume 5. It’s to its credit that he doesn’t reach for the overbearing psychedelic overload, but stays grounded to the floor with the synth noise and that ever-shifting dubtronic beat. By the track’s close we’re borderline sampling the organ of Ride’s Leave Them All Behind and turning it on its side into a legitimate mantra before reducing itself to an electro state and bowing out. Although you could just put it on repeat and get lost for hours.

Limited Tape Available at the Sym Sym (Mor Elian & Rhyw’s Fever AM sister Label) page!

Tabs Out | mioriii – Nature’s Way

mioriii – Nature’s Way

7.31.23 by Matty McPherson

Linger around bandcamp pages long enough and you’ll come to repeatedly see a peculiar supporter with an avatar akin to the Husker Dü logo. Except it has a fourth line intersecting & has been rotated 90 degrees to represent two Hs–for Hush Hush. KEXP DJ Alex Ruder has kept Hush Hush as a reserved tape outpost over the past several years, often times engaging with music far outside the continental scene and as such, importing in high quality foreign artists and sonics for domestic enjoyment. The kinds of releases that quickly appear and then disappear by the time the word’s run amok.

There’s a lovely new continuation of the ever-stable PJS aesthetic currently available from the label right now, but today’s attention is squarely around mioriii’s ambient downtempo pop EP debut, Nature’s Way, which literally came out 2 days ago and took up a sizable amount of Sunday and this morning. It a five songer, the kind that runs as a ~C36 with each 18 minute side repeating the tape in full. That’s a summer walk listen or porch coffee drinker if I ever knew one. I also should mention that it is not exactly mioriii’s debut per se–the Japanese musician’s 2018 Ms. Indie Pop EPs are hiding amongst the crevices of the internet (and yes, mioriii is a voracious pop obsessive). Although you can be certain that Nature’s Way is an assured introductory statement.

It would be easy to simply listen to the 18 minutes and pick up on a series of loosely connected sonic threads. Nature’s Way is not mixed to transition from track to track, and when an idea suffices it bows out. However, it was sequenced with a clear direction in mind; both the opening title track and Echoes feature faint vocals and restraint akin to Lucy Liyou’s most precious moments at the piano, and they recall the way Nyokabi Kariuki layered and mapped her tracks discussing long covid on Resonant Body. The affect is arguably purposeful, as Bandcamp liner notes do indicate mioriii recorded this music on the cusp of a surgery/recovery from a strange fatiguing ailment that she has been working through over the past few years. Multiple listens, routinized and thought over, reward Nature’s Way’s slight palette that digs deep into what it wants to convey.

Specifically the middle 3 cuts where mioriii starts to twist up shapes of typical synth ambience, hitting the ear favorably. Her bookend cuts feature more “piano key” textures and vocal poems that provide a window to her world, but in the middle we find the dreams and desires. Those middle cuts are grounded by their fleet, effervescent flourishing textures, and they reach for actual pop heights as soon as they take a brief deviation from that path. “Annual Rings” incorporates slinky noises and minimal pulsing beats; the kinds that keep looking forward admits the synth noise’s catatonic wailing. “Mossy” starts from 1000 yards staring above the ground in the skies, with expansive synth patches akin to Drowse at his most uplifting or the urban twilight night-watching found on Aria Rostami & Daniel Blomquist’s Floating Tone; it then adds a cello and rain sounds, immediately finding an introspective somberness that with a minimal beat can saunter the hours away, the clear highlight of these 18 minutes. Finally, “Under the Sun”, the most outright ambient pop cut, limits its movement and twists simply to enjoy a moment in the Sun. As I’m uploading this, it’s a strangely grey, almost thickly humid morning to cap off July. But maybe this will bring out the sun for the park by late afternoon.

Limited Edition Cassette EP now available at Hush Hush Records’ Bandcamp!

Track Premiere! The Exit Bags – At Least I Know Now

Track Premiere! The Exit Bags – At Least I Know Now

7.29.23 by Matty McPherson

It’s been a grueling July. The heat is the giveaway, “hottest month recorded in human history”, after all. But it is in the details of the heat that therein lies the strangely cruel magnitude. Not too far from my house is an asphalt road. It was poorly paved over an underwater creek bed. Every winter shower, it bubble over and runs amok. The city nor the county chose to maintain the road. They let a stream of water spend the last 6 months gently dribble down and create algae debris and a litany of the most colorful weeds this side of North San Diego county. Well the heat proper finally dried that asphalt creek riverbed up. The magnitude is small, but the feeling lingers.

Anyways we turn our attention up towards Edmonton, Alberta, where my observation feels like naive, wishful. There’s more than 10 dozen fires currently raging up there. The magnitude of that destruction doesn’t escape me one bit from my time spent in Isla Vista where 2017-2020 burns imparted a new wariness amongst students of all ilk. And it rings in my head while in the thick of Michael James’ return to “The Exit Bags” moniker. Back in 2021 Michael came to Drongo with a tender, lowkey effort, Tower of Quiet. We premiered a track then! And now, James returns to Drongo with a new release, Our Sun Will Clean its Holy Wounds, out on September 1st. And he comes bearing a humid, thick bass-grounded slow burner of a cut that might as well be the soundtrack of the late stage summers from here on out. Here at Tabs Out, we (well, myself!) are getting out of our summer funk with a track premiere of The Exit Bags’ second single, “At Least I Know Now”. You’ll find the video & Bandcamp stream above and the image of album artwork below.

It’s an exceptional refinement of where Michael James’ slowcore-tinged palette was in 2021. There’s a humid THICK crunch to the sound that rushes to the red. The result of those pulsing drums and lurching bass that make up the bulk of the track proper. but also fragile quietLOUDquiet bursts that run amok towards the end. It all culminates in the kind that sounds both unwieldy expansive yet conveys the summer heat, if not personal anguish, bearing down on you. Whatever James is mining at here on “At Least I Know Now”, it’s conveyed with utmost deftness that defines the personality of each Drongo Release

Snake Eggs – Ceremony I, the cowering

Scranton, Pennsylvania based Snake Eggs has achieved about a decade’s worth of nebulous bandcamp transmissions. All tied to the long running digital label Stress Carrier. Approaching 100 releases, Stress Carrier’s discogs page is a graveyard, although their varied presence across bandcamp, facebook, and twitter do indicate that this has been a lively era long endeavor of capturing independent and experimental music in Northeastern Pennsylvania happening with great frequency. Many free downloads are abound if that sort of interests you.

With the notion of whether or not the label or Snake Eggs has done physicals before not able to be pinned down in any capacity, we should stick with what we know about their latest, Ceremony I, the cowering. “New mixtape of sorts; reassembles and recontextualizes fragments of sound into a cryptic, haunted narrative.” It’s quite a simple and inviting C34 of two long plays that do end up charting a refined execution of multi-part composition; the kind fit for the cassette format. Ceremony I, the cowering reveals depth in listening, amongst a strong fascination for global genre splicing and movement that the cassette experience does entertain most splendidly.

Phase 1 has a solid flow starting with subterranean backchannel FM and closing with rapture level ritualistic drone. For an 18 minute piece that’s a tricky proposition to set course on, but there’s a real excitement to the opening minutes of strange rhythms and voices moving through static. The sudden pivot into lo-fi indie is washed out, startled to be there itself, a piece of hypnagogia unexpected. And that is before the final eight or so minutes of deep sea ambient exploring and accelerating towards the depths of drone.

Phase 2 ups environmental sounds and effects. There’s helicopters and machine guns, a strange trip to a zone far from the garage right now. Gurgling war machines, and a low hanging spectral synth drone; the kind of a giant red sun. Well, at least that’s the opening 4ish minutes before we turn to an interlude of space machine bleeping and folk that’s artifact’d. All gives way though, to a single guitar chord that reverberates and becomes the drone under bird noises of a non-organic materiality. Again, the band seem to test the elasticity of one chord droning to carry this piece, as it transitions towards a gong’s drone that soon ebbs into a percussive clanking akin to footing and flutes likened to the highlands. It chews the idea for a while, before quickly fading out.

While Phase 2 seems to be a little more stretched on how to edits these ideas together over 15 minutes, it never ceases to be such a beguiling listen. It is as if the possible musics Bardo Todol’s field recordings often suggest are around the corner suddenly did arise. And Snake Eggs in Scranton, PA happens to answer that desire, in stunning lo-fi. With a handful of copies of the tape left, a mighty recommendation goes towards the adventurous zoners.

Edition of 21 Tapes Shipping Now at the Snake Eggs Bandcamp Page!