Tabs Out | Gee Tee – Gee Tee Tour Tape

Gee Tee – Gee Tee Tour Tape

12.21.22 by Matty McPherson

I came out of pit retirement for Gee Tee. I do have an overreactive gag reflex that often hinders any necessity to mosh. But when in Memphis for Gonerfest and the men from Australia, “where the beer flows like wine,” are on stage, anything can happen. And well I’d lose a pair of leggings somehow and almost crowdsurf like a doofus.

I do not know what energy is emanating out of the state of Tennessee that it can produce arguably the two strongest independent music festivals in all of the Continental US. Knoxville, TN’s Big Ears in Spring is a stately communion. A global meeting of particular sorts of crate digger and private press enthusiasts that descended upon the downtown for the chance to hear a bro whip out a laptop and drone it out or see Meredith Monk play vocal games. Rarely though, does the festival reward the same kind of crate digger and private press enthusiast that exists in the Gonerfest circuit–which itself is a global meeting of a punk-continuum that truly showcases the state of affairs for Goner and many labels within its orbit. Big Ears has you in bed by 11:30 PM if you so please. Gonerfest suggests you walk 3 miles stoned off a weed tonic, grab a late night Rueben, and head to a dive bar to catch showcase at 1:00 AM.

If that sounds old fashioned and dangerous, well that was the predominate energy Gonerfest tapped into pre-COVID . Late night red-eye punk showcases of frantic nervy jitters have been corralled to afterparties though, as a post-COVID move to the Railgarten has given the festival a newfound lease on the daytime. The ample amount of food and beverage options (including a gas station where you can buy unfathomably cheap craft beer that uses the finest water in the Continental US) gave Gonerfest’s centralized midtown location a colossal bout of energy and efficiency. Few shows ran late and only half of one band cancelled (the BBQ Show component of King Khan caught COVID; there were replaced by the Oblivions in a wildly rough and fun, borderline practice session). It slightly drizzled. We saw hardcore punk stalwarts Negative Approach close a song right as a lightning struck with cosmic coincidence. I made new friends. I met old compatriots I’ve talked shop with online.

Trends of sorts do emerge if you pay close attention; both in the lineup AND at the merch tables, which were flush with tour tapes this time around. Gee Tee’s fanbase erred younger than most at Gonerfest. These fellas were a colossal draw for Friday and arguably were the definitive act of the day/festival (if you had missed Freak Genes in any capacity). Gee Tee have an album coming to vinyl on Goner Records. Yet, due to pressing delays and like MANY bands, they’ve decided to reward the tape community with it first. And goodness gracious, what an absolute wrecker of a tape these kooks seemed to have cranked out. And I did grab at least 8 of these various tour tapes, but words don’t come easy nor often enough to express why THIS release is built different from the rest.

In fact, I honestly didn’t quite realize it myself until I heard an exceptional power pop cassette release you can buy from a major indie label (hint: it’s the one about “blue alcopop” and it comes on a smoky gray cassette; idk why they used that shell). I do enjoy “Blue Alcopop,” but I’m sticking my guns with Gee Tee’s deeply fried style of power pop as the best display of raw talent and veracity. Their pals in Research Reactor Corp also had a tour tape that plays along the same lines of “HAM radio vocals, kitchen-synth, dishwasher guitar n’ bass, and coffee grinder percussive” that sounds like it was recorded in a mouse box and plays to a one-track mindset. Gee Tee’s is just slightly more polished and takes the edge.

Gee Tee goes deep in the red, plays about ten cuts that all sound borderline identical, but also totally raw-dog masterful. It’s cathartic stuff that “lo-fi garage” doesn’t quite surmise. Brute force shit that carries an absolutely unvarnished punchdrunk-pop quality that was made for smooching deep within the chaos of a mosh pit. They repeatedly make their synth sound like mythical “lottery noises” (not the “Blue Alcopop” song, the sound effect), especially on Within the Walls and 40K, special kinds of jukebox wonder. And good god that’s all I wanted at the end of the day when searching for the best punk I could hear all year.

Again, you’ll probably have to do some shenanigans or politely mail a letter of sorts to the Gee Tee world hq down in Sydney, Australia–“where the beer flows like wine”–if you want a tape. These songs are coming supposedly next year (late ’22 was not on the table as hoped), and at least Stuck Down and Rock Phone (as well as non-album cut Someone Else) are available as a righteous, economical digital at the moment.

Tabs Out | Ross Hammond – A Bright Light

Ross Hammond – A Bright Light

12.20.22 by Matty McPherson

Ross Hammond is a self-prolific home recorder based in Sacramento. A humongous trove of recorded delights await you at his home bandcamp page that reveal the serious levels of leisure this practitioner takes to his practice.  He’s a guitarist’s guitarist; as such, A Bright Light is a cassette’s cassette.

Recording his steel guitar directly to cassette, Hammond strikes a peculiar guitar tone and set of timbres. It’s not quite a hickory-laden nor a dusty downtrodden guitar sound; I legitimately found his sound closer to that of east asian stringed instruments and the long shadows their drones cast. However, truth be told, Hammond tuned his guitar to Open D and just hit record on his daily improvisational recording session back in January and cast his fate,letting his guitar set a course of its own volition. Thus, A Bright Light is an act of mindfulness on Hammond’s part. And perhaps that is why his steel guitar sound though has a watercolor paintbrush quality to it, casting long, droning chords that can simultaneously skip between the foreground and background of the listen, as small steady chords wind and steady the piece’s sense of direction. As such, A Bright Light creates a most naturalistic, impressionistic listen. The kind that happens to share more in common with a long forgotten, “it’s at your local used bookstore” Elektra/Nonesuch cassette that presents “traditional” sounds of regions distant from the continental US.

The two tracks–A Bright Light and Sometime Near Sundown–that came of this C32 have the tranquility and excitement that comes from watching a Bob Ross rerun at 11:30 pm. What I mean by this is that it is exceptionally easy to hear and outline Hammond’s process in real time, perhaps even enough so to trick yourself you too, could do this (and dear reader, you may be able to!); you become tranced out and time stands about as still as it can seem for that half hour. “It just feels good to make sounds” is the genuine MO that guided these two pieces. Truly, the reality is that hearing Hammond guide a sonic motif to its finish or begin to swell his sounds and flirt with hitting the red is just that tantalizing and relaxing. A hard tape to want to file away as a low hanging fall-sun drips towards the vanishing point.

Pro-dubbed, edition of 100 available at the Full Spectrum Records Bandcamp

Tabs Out | Marsha Fisher – Psychic Architecture

Marsha Fisher – Psychic Architecture

12.19.22 by Matty McPherson

Marsha Fisher is a star when it comes to concocting a junker’s delight. Her general caliber for unwieldy culling of the cream of the crop of the remains of analog detritus and ancient pre-recorded debris had given her music a colossal range. There’s fragments of unnerved drone and unkempt glitch that mend with outright new age new noise inversions. So it makes sense that she’s teamed up with the esteemed The Taperoom for a new round of devilish, unwound tape shenanigans on Psychic Architecture.

Psychic Architecture is a continuing expansion of Fisher’s fascination with loops, collages, and abrasive textures that a word like surreal doesn’t quite do justice towards. It really is a simple sonic set-up: Fisher loops and warps a particular phrase for a track and see the results that follow. Her production though is key to the success of these loops. They work to dramatically untethered the loops from original contexts so that they feels routinized like a flat dimensionless pancakes. It gives the tape this feeling of watching a mechanic object undergo surgery in a blnak, empty room–echoing and lashing until it either croaks or sprouts back to life. If the blurbs and repetition of a phrase’s prime intention aren’t completely rendered meaningless (and a few certainly are not), then what remains functions as a battle-scarred visage of a future. Over the hi-fi my parents walked in and pondered why it sounded like a damaged recording r2-d2 may have had stored on his lil’ data drive. That is really quite a succinct way of viewing Psychic Architecture–at least its opening half.

For fractured calcified fragments of melody happen to display themselves across the noise of side 2. “New Moon” wails out fuzzy bits of abrasion that almost make quarter notes into a melody! “Libra”’s recorder whistle and argle-bargle-gargle of that phrase “Libra” become a dadaist sketch; it segues perfectly with the followup sashaying noise serenade, “Fig Wasp,” which you would swear the voices on “Libra” was saying the whole time! “Zircon” might just be the climax and head bounty of the tape, a 6+ minute excursion of generator noise and black lagoon creature wails that quietly lulls you towards a trance as certain musical scales are introduced. Closer “Nuclear Family” almost invokes domestic bliss as much as warbled n’ wonky aquatic noise that drowns the entire concept into oblivion. A tantalizing way to go out for a lovely noise release.

Psychic Architecture is available as a limited cassette from the Tapeworm’s Bandcamp and online distro pages.

Tabs Out | Businessless Being – Businessless Being

Businessless Being – Businessless Being

12.13.22 by Matty McPherson

Today on the docket we got a C20ish from Flophouse from an artist with barely a name and barley a release to the name: Businessless Being. Though truly, the flophouse catalog has been something of a blessed miracle. Limited Meadow Argus and Peter Kris artifacts have crossed through alongside other wildely packaged acid test gum drop goodness. Businessless Being though, is a total droned-out head. The kind who taunt the radiating generators even when the warning labels caution you NOT to taunt them. But it’s no happy fun ball situation you see.

One long form, on either side marked A or B awaits you. It’s as simple as that. The flavor of either side does not sour and tart up the mouth like a warhead; it has no everlasting quality of a gobstopper, nor the menthol of a halls. While they’re designing television adverts to feature these long forms, they do in fact, not convey what it feels like to chew 5 Gum. It is pure 100% drone that’s as crystalline as a crystal wheat for Side A; the side of the tape where keys are featured in what sounds of an empty ballroom coming slowly into focus as a fall dawn chorus awaits. It’s an empty, expansive odyssey to say the least. Side B is built from the same flavors of the otherworldly wonder that a Starburst provides when you let it sit under your tongue for an era; you believe the sugars seem to shift flavors, the same way Businessless Being’s drone casually rides a tone to its completion. The keys are still here, reverberated and dubbed, at times picking up on the same threads of pre-Avec Landum Stars of the Lid. It feels like you’re on a boat, honking its massive steam-powered horn towards the horizon line, beckoning towards a monolith in the distance. A hypnotic lull, more or less, and just such a casually foreboding work of majesty.

Limited Edition of 37 available at the Flophouse Records Bandcamp

Tabs Out | Logan Heuer – The Pattern

Logan Heuer – The Pattern

12.12.22 by Matty McPherson

I think we’re on a train east of the rural psychedelia. Or was it west of the plains? Maybe north of Amarillo? The image keeps slanting. The whole thing is just there, in the aftermath revealing itself.

Full Spectrum Records’ continues a hot streak of debuts from regional underground talent; small-scale stories that sink deep into an indescribable personal truth. Such is the case with Logan Heuer’s C45, “The Pattern”, that was released back in summer. Following in a tradition alongside other label alum like Nick Zanca, Hueuer returns himself to a series of old pre-Spring 2021 sketches and somewhat finished pieces. The kinds that demanded a new curation and vision in the aftermath of a move; a chance to reconnect with a younger version of himself.

I find these types of releases fascinating if for the fact that lost wisdom often finds itself peaking around the crevices of the sound design. Hueuer admits in the bandcamp PR that these were sounds “I was only able to create when I was younger, back in days that I do not remember.” The memory recreation is strong and the urge to consider these sounds in such a manner is second to none. Yet, the hypnotic quality that has long been gestating in these pieces is still readily transparent and only more vigorous as a full longform work.

It makes the Pattern something of an industrious undertaking for Heuer. The stainless steel sound of percussives that clatter into the strength of a locomotive, amongst cryptid machinery that emit deep bass and noise. Ominous almost-voices babble and no-fi static akin to ham radios rain down from outside a conscious state. Stoned out big city horns wail out from a megahertz well trawled. There’s THX noises and Lucy Liyou-style pitch shifted text-to-speech! Classic noise table shenanigans, even! Deep alien bleeps and bloops that the US Government has refused to classify! At the end of the day, it’s a 45 minute night bus journey deep into the mind.

What perhaps has made me gravitate towards the Pattern so much in the past couple of months is that it has a strong sense of its understanding regarding place; imagined and reframed, decaying but not rendered incoherent, and ALWAYS in motion. The kind of place that cannot exist anymore as much as the landscape around it stays the same; because it is always shifting ever so slightly. It’s the kind of energy that fosters videos of abandoned malls and the memories of a space; as well as those rare moments on an Amtrak one is left without a signal staring at the central coast. In both moments there’s a realization “I’ve been here before! Yet, the place doesn’t remember me.” Beyond its deep personal characteristics, The Pattern instinctively conveys that. And in the wreckage, it finds a tumultuous understanding and perhaps, necessary peace to it all.

Pro-dubbed, edition of 100 available from the Full Spectrum Bandcamp

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