Tag Archives: tapes

The Binary Marketing Show – “Anticipation of Something Else”

It’s not too often that a release catches me off guard. Usually by about halfway through the first track I know exactly what to expect, for better or for worse.  Not so much with this latest tape from Portland’s The Binary Marketing Show. As the first track unfolded I was expecting an albums worth of slowly unfolding synth ambiance and atmospherics, but every expectation set up by one song was dashed as the next entered.

I’m not saying that every single track is a hard left-turn into unexpected territory, but the soundworld in which they are operating lends itself to so many different approaches, and infers much more than any one track could ever hope to capture. Sure the opening track is pretty atmospheric, but as “Picnic On Makemake” begins we can hear some guitar peeking out through the synths, and most jolting of all when compared to the first track, “I Could Live Without a Hand,” is the intense bass rumble and dual vocals. The thick low end that enters, and the way that it combines with the vocal is very reminiscent of Baths’ “Cerulean” album. Definitely a good album to be reminded of.

Midway through the album “Lost After Nightfall” takes us into yet another direction with something that starts out sounding like  Boards of Canada though eventually that fades to the background as a warped  undercurrent takes over. “Weather Balloon” immediately pulls in a different direction with buzzing synths, a bit of rhythmic crunch and a more standard song structure. “Out of the Void” brings things toward Starfucker territory, with a guitar more or less front and center at the outset, though it eventually fades back into the texture.

This is probably one of the most interesting tapes that I’ve heard in a long time. Every track is brimming with different ideas, unexpected twists, sometimes some catchy hooks, and a lot of experimentation. What more could one ask for?

Find them around the internet at the links below. They also have a show coming up on May 1st if you are near Portland, check their site for details. And check out some of their other releases as well.

Web//Buy “Anticipation of Something Else”//Facebook//Twitter//Soundcloud//Bandcamp//

Stream New Music from Field Hymns: Black Unicorn and Cane Swords

Some brand-new, not yet released, stuff coming your way today from Field Hymns records. I’ve written about some of their releases before and I’m always impressed with what I hear. In case you aren’t aware, Field Hymns is a small label based out of Portland, Oregon, and they release a fairly steady stream of electronic and experimental tapes. Today I’ve got two new ones to share with you.

Black Unicorn - "Traced Landscapes"
Black Unicorn – “Traced Landscapes”

First up is Akron, Ohio’s Black Unicorn with their album “Traced Landscapes.” Trance inducing, retro synthed out 8-bit landscapes come in and out of focus. One minute pulsing delicately, while buzzing melodies cut through the atmospherics the next. Tracks are focused squarely upon one idea, and that singularity holds time in place for just a little while before it’s gone, only to be replaced by the next hypnotic transcendence.

Listening to a track like “Seafowl in Silhouette” one can’t help but focus their thoughts inward. Think of Boards of Canada slowed down 100x. The waves of sound don’t so much crash over you as they do envelop you. Black Unicorn is able to create the kind of sonic space that, in some pretty amazing ways, completely shifts our temporal perceptions.

There are also songs like “Trans-Dimensional Railway” that pay due to Kraftwerk. The kraut-rock, electro pulse is definitely there, even floating there in the background after everything around it completely falls apart, leaving us with the sensation of temporarily floating through space. It’s as though the ground has been pulled completely out from under us and instead of falling we float off into the night sky. Pretty interesting way to have temporal considerations create the divisions between sections of a song.


The next release that I have is “Temple Swords” by Cane Swords (also from Akron), a self described “synth exploration.” Comparing and contrasting with Black Unicorn, Cane Swords also create music that breaks free from music’s traditional treating of temporality, but they are doing so in completely the opposite way. Where once there was a homogenous landscape that created hypnotic trances, there is now an ever changing and intricately woven fabric of sounds that whirl in and out of range. Much more spacey, ethereal and in a lot of ways, kind of intense. Recommended if you like Morton Subotnick, as it says on their release, is pretty accurate. Tape composition practices are given an updated process, creating similar highly descriptive sound collages.

They do also have their darker, more ambient moments. Slower development across a long form composition, such as the “Telegraph One” and “Telegraph Two” suites, take a bit of a different approach to sound collage, stripping away some material to create a more homogenous sound. Overall the entire tape is full of some pretty enchanting stuff.

Both these tapes will be released on February 14th and will make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for that special person in your life. Check out all the stuff that Field Hymns has to offer over on their site, including info on future releases, and listen to the tracks above. There are plenty more on the Field Hymns Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages.

Stream: New Releases from Already Dead Records & Tapes

mchtnchts - "The Spoiled West and its Freshly Minted Infants" on Already Dead Records
mchtnchts – “The Spoiled West and its Freshly Minted Infants” on Already Dead Records

I used to consider myself to be firmly in the camp of anti-tape. I just couldn’t understand why it was that people were bringing back such a (thankfully) dead medium. The angle that I was looking at was, well there is a reason that I always buy stuff on vinyl and it’s because it sounds better and is a more authentic representation of the actual music than a digital representation from a CD or mp3. It seemed to me that recording stuff to tape was simply an effort of creating nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake, and it just seemed completely backwards.

Not long ago, though, I was reading about how the community that has sprung up around creating tapes considers them to be an act of rebellion of sorts. It’s much cheaper and easier to distribute tapes than it is to record vinyl, and it doesn’t require nearly as much technology as is required to create digital files. That is something that I can get down with. If it is a means for more people to get their music out there, and in a medium that is tangible, then how could anyone not support that. I think what finally sold me was when I got a pair of tapes from Crash Symbols. Sure, the nostalgia is there, but the tapes and the artwork for Julie’s Haircut and Exotic Club are so captivating. How could I not love it? What is going to happen though is that bigger bands are going to try to cash in on this, creating tapes for no reason other than “they seem to be getting more popular.”

Well, this isn’t about me. I was just pointed in the direction of a label, Already Dead Tapes & Records, and discovered that it’s a pretty good place to poke around. According to the site Already Dead Tapes was founded by Joshua Tabbia and Sean Hartman. The label is run by Joshua Tabbia, Sean Hartman, Ray Jackson and Alex Borozan and they are a DIY record label releasing cassettes, vinyl and fine art in small editions.

What specifically brought me to the site was a tape by mchtnchts. “The Spoiled West and its Freshly Minted Infants” is a fresh blast of noise from bent circuits and analog sources from a pair of musicians from the Bay Area. There’s a sample on the page. Make sure you act quick though, the release is limited to 40 tapes…well, 39 tapes.

Looking around a little more there’s some bouncy garage rock from Panda Kid’s “Summetry” 12″. I think they are from Italy. I feel like Italian indie rock is stalking me, or maybe it’s the other way around. That one is pretty fantastic and worth a listen. They end up sounding like a roughed up Beach Fossils in some ways, with similarly breezy and carefree aesthetic, though taken to some strange dark places at times. Only 30 of those available. And then there is the art-rock weirdness and bass heaviness of Comfort Food’s “Dr. Faizan’s Feel Good Brain Pills” tape. Both great and for very different reasons.

Have fun checking out all the stuff on Already Dead’s site. To get to the bandcamp pages for the bands, just click on the “i” next to the play button on each page. I have yet to come across something not worth hearing. Follow the links below and check out the bandcamp pages linked above. All of these releases are extremely limited, so if you are thinking that you want to get something, you’d better grab it while you can. Otherwise, grabbing the albums digitally on bandcamp might be a good contingency plan, but I think supporting this great small-edition label is definitely the best way to go.

Already Dead//mchtnchts//Panda Kid//Comfort Food//