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Spool's Out

Spool’s Out: Your Tape Releases For April
Tristan Bath , April 26th, 2018 10:58

Outernational jams and tape-loop ambience dominate the month’s finest tape releases, selected for you by Tristan Bath

Last month on Spool’s Out Radio we had a guest appearance from Polish producer Fischerle. The project of prolific Warsaw-based artist Mateusz Wysocki, Fischerle veers between techno-inflected experiments, concrete-influenced beats, and squelchy digi-funk. Easily one of the most reliably intriguing producers on the Polish scene, he’s released tapes aplenty, including for the likes of Chemical Tapes, Czaszka, Where To Now? and most recently Pointless Geometry. His half-hour mix makes up the core of this show - plus I picked a few of my Fischerle faves and some other recent Polish tape jams to fill it out.

Head over to spools-out.com, or the Resonance FM website to find out more about the show. This episode and others can still be streamed in full via the above, as well as via the podcast.

Aemong embody all the best aspects of today’s ramshackle international underground, all on their own. Comprising Henrique Uba and Yu-Ching Huang - originally from Brazil and Taiwan respectively - Aemong’s sound is indebted to everything under the sun. 1000 is a shady industrial-pop amalgam ripping cliches to pieces with endless juxtapositions. By way of example, right at the heart of the album, ‘After The Fire’ is a rough beatless minisuite featuring chorus guitars and bass licks encircling bassy synth arpeggio with tranquility. Yu-Ching Huang sings celestial Kim Gordon-isms and Henrique Uba replies with oddball singspeak and random samples that resemble processed birdsong and distant car crashes. Some duos are about finding compromise and balance, but Aemong seem to just allow the ideas to flow in from all sides.

Checking out the consistent squelch of spring reverb, warm imperfect fuzz, and reliably solid basslines, dub’s certainly a key aesthetic influence on the duo (particularly deep space reggaenauts such as Creation Rebel and Scientist, I bet) - but ain’t nobody quite made this wonky inverted no wave pop before. ‘Old Lady Sings’ has a two-step riddim, but its chucked up against Huang’s voice at its most lethargic, a distant wall of lush post-rock guitar ambience, thick bass strings, and grinding noises flipping across the stereo field.

So many these days espouse acultural juxtapositions and myriad surprising influences. Aemong seem like the real deal. Their world is scuffed around the edges and mired in countless grim imperfections, yet it’s utterly out of time and place - not to mention totally addictive. With any luck our future is gonna be filled with more of this.

Largely inspired by theories of mondialité (‘globality’) from late French philosopher Édouard Glissant, this outernational improv meetup of Hatori & Harrington fits right in alongside the crucible of dub-pop from Aemong mentioned above. Miho Hatori (of Cibo Matto) and guitarist Dave Harrington (of Darkside with Nicolas Jaar) met up last December to jam out this downtempo live set, blending Hatori’s voice and electronics with Harrington’s signature mix of ethereal and bluesey axe-grinding. Side A opens with Hatori wielding chants and wonky synth tones over a hypnotic ritualistic beat while Harrington twangs away. Long passages of swelling drone duals, rainforest recordings, Hatori’s murmured squeals, and Harrington going to the edge of his textural pallette follow.

There’s more crunchy beats and drifting multifaceted jamming on side two, closing with gusts of unwieldy noise from the pair. It’s a surprisingly effective set, and while it’s presented as an ephemeral document (the run is limited to a mere 35 tapes; the sound’s imperfect too), Mondialité is going to easily hold up to many a repeat listen. It’s anybody’s guess if Harrington and Hatori will meet up again - but this is the second in the Commend Here tape series by NYC record shop Commend, following on from a no-less great duo between Félicia Atkinson and Christina Vantzou. I guess it’s what ‘globality’ is all about: meet up, converse, play, learn, move onward, move upward.

Ahhh this is nice. Everything’s so warm and shiny and dreamy. I feel like I’m floating. Wait, what’s that? Why am I falling now? Why do I feel… sad?

Thus goes the inner narrative of this debut full length tape by JQ, a resident of New Atlantis (though I think he spends the odd day here and there in London, UK). INVISIBLE is supposedly a tale of “guilt, paranoia, depression, the relationship with self, and growing up in the digital age”. It also finds itself cleft in twain as PAST and then PRESENT, “signifying life before and after invasive technology”. Over the course of the tape, JQ’s musical spectrum shifts from the blissful pastel shades of the artwork, into bleaker, blacker territory once we enter the PRESENT stage of the music. The openers are sunshine retro menu music for the utopian synthetic future that once seemed possible. It’s all poppy chord movements filtered into chiming synths that shower all round like 1-ups from heaven, ‘Trampoline’ even adding a relaxed disco beat to a pixelated beach party.

Signified by a horrified lattice of minor key synth notes, ‘Falling’ and the age of the PRESENT begins. ‘Shame’ is a brooding oil slick of distant digital synth drones falling to pieces in honour of the 21st century’s favourite emotion. Two lengthy tunes ride chunky synth tunes and drum machine cycles into and back out of doom, leading to a return to an uncertain bliss for closing track ‘Acceptance’.

JQ’s working with almost grossly familiar sounds throughout INVISIBLE, but it’s always with an exceptional sort of melodic precision. In JQ’s hands, these chiming digital synth keys - of the kind you’d expect to hear plonking away while wandering around Final Fantasy VII - somehow never sound truly retro. I guess this is the first ‘vaporwave opera’; JQ is the internet era’s own miniature Mahler. Oddly enough JQ still makes the future sound bright to my ears - even if it’s mostly by indicting the bleakness of the present.

Hailing from the Gorzów Wielkopolski in western Poland, Mateusz Rosinski issues music as Wrong Dials. He’s dabbled in plenty of electronic sounds, but Hello Brightness My New Sex Friend (surely the best-named tape of the year?) goes extra deep and long and weird, right down into deconstructing some thoroughly abstract noise music into a uniquely strange and beautiful trip. Rosinski gradually disseminates raw shards of static and glitchy interruptions, taking half the album to regroup and reformulate the sounds into an emergent lush dreamscape of looping samples. The first half is truly challenging noise, punctured with ear-piercing tones and rough grumbles - but Rosinski slowly pulls the wool from off our eyes to reveal a shimmering landscape of granular tones and ecstatic loops.

Writer and musician Adam Badí Donoval has only been releasing ambient music under the name Mt Accord for a couple of years by my count, but with this split and EP both out this month, he’s putting the moniker out to pasture. His various method of working in the past have been almost punky by ambient standards, working short and sharp with relatively brief running times. He also writes for Fact magazine among others, and runs ACR (all while studying in London) so to call Donoval prolific is an understatement. As Mt Accord he’s collated field recordings from around Slovakia (his home country) with sounds from London (his current home), and he’s spent a single evening gathering improvised and hazy synth drones to soothe himself. While still focusing on dream music vibes, he sends his personal ambience project off into the ether with its most affecting experiments.

Postcards from a Dream is mostly tape loop music all sourced from previous Mt Accord recordings. It’s a completely apt way to close out such a personal project - with a flip through the proverbial photo album. Imperfectly revolving snippets form haunted rhythms while veiled analogue detritus float overhead. A chunky piano marches and creaks from inside a fuzzy magnetic tape prison cell. Unidentifiable synth warbles and shattered drones spiral around like colossal plates spinning. These are all hazy memories from Donoval’s memory bank, filtered and preserved into fragments of indeterminate emotion.

Mt Accord’s 20 minute contribution to this No Rush feels even deeper down a dark rabbit hole of introversion. Vast tidal waves of synthesizer chords flow freely as Donoval filters and guides the sonics through decaying tape sonics, low ends rumbling as they struggle to breach. The result is a relatively simplistic, and heartbreaking, cry of emotion; a solemn and abstract stream-of-consciousness.

Intensely smart Czech producer Izanasz provides the flipside of this split. Though spiritually linked with Mt Accord, Izanasz’ work is more calculated and precise and experimental than Mt Accord’s emotional blowouts and personal experimentation. Also worth noting - Izanasz has created his own unique language of runes (check out the header of his Bandcamp page), so yeah this guy is switched on. ‘HCHSJ’ flirts with many different trippy sounds, opening with very distant drums punctuating a misty morning fog, moving through passages of hissing noise and gutted digital samples, heading out into a bitcrushed dystopian nightmarescape. It comes from the same grave place as Mt Accord’s side; a personal ceremony and a synthetic exorcism.

"I like to think that the post-production process carried out on these audio tapes is able to place these recordings in a plane of existence which is different from the purely material," says Carlo Giustini about his latest tape release, out via Purlieu Recordings in Arlöv, Sweden. "I believe that the sounds enclosed in this collection are the mirror of an alternative version of reality."

Alright then, let’s have a listen.

The opening title track sounds like it’s buried beneath a pleasant layer of earth, though windchimey tones and what sounds like melodies weave a melodic bed. Giustini says that no instruments were used though. These are all just field recordings made in the titular neighbourhood in the city of Treviso in northeastern Italy. Quite how that translates into these gentle epics of textured ambient music, I don’t quite know.

And this is music. It’s not field recordings, or noise, or sound art - this is atmospheric music sent straight from heaven to chill you the fuck out. There’s something of a deep conversation between (as the artist himself points out) the Christian and the Pagan throughout Sant'Angelo, as the creeping earthly sounds of the land and wind rustling through plantlife pairs with stoney echoes and manmade background noise. Just like Richard Mosse's Infrared Congo photography, the process by which Giustini has emphasised the musical qualities of these recordings is miraculous (and mysterious). A blessed piece of tape. Mr Giustini is a witch.

Yet more tape loop buggery, this time from Helsinki-based sound artist Dmitri Zerbin. Originally from the Ukraine, Zherbin’s lived in Finland for two decades, and been experimenting with tape loops for years. More than most tape-fiddlers, Zherbin coerces the form to create something brimming with strength and raw power, reframing the phenomenon of sounds puncturing their way through magnetic tape’s natural decay, into a metaphor for resilience, not an elegy for weakness. It’s most apparent on opener ‘Вход’, where Zherbin deploys mixer feedback to create a wall of symphonic tape noise, but even the quieter moments such as the lush warbling piano notes of ‘Аску’ sound like hardy little insects crawling out of post-apocalyptic rubble.

When it comes to tape-loop-sperimentation, Zherbin really has a gift. To him the loop is something to prod and sculpt, to really play like an instrument. These six short, sharp tracks could have been left as hours of Disintegration Loops, but Zherbin seems to want to make something of them - not just let them rot.

This miraculous session by French-born musician Laurence Wasser is compellingly raw. For the most part, Wasser sings in a mix of delicate gibberish and guttural throat drones, backing himself up with percussion and scrap metal banging. Myriad colours are added from scrap instruments too - a dim accordion hum, a fucked string pluck or two, a birdlike recorder whistle - but this is largely nothing but Wasser’s extensive vocal skills intoning over scrapyard rhythms. The Garden feels like stumbling onto a paganistic ceremony at a shipbreakers’ cult. Sun City Girls occasionally touched on this territory, jettisoning all rock semblances in favour of pure primal physical bangs and fictional languages.

Wasser’s been living in California since 2014 say Kitchen Leg Records, and while he was amazed at landscape’s beauty, he was also horrified at the "consequences of selfishness to the planet". As a response, the gibberish, glory and rage of The Garden makes total sense.

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