The Tape Label Report, February 2023
March 09, 2023
Welcome to The Tape Label Report, the place we introduce you to 5 cassette-focused labels it’s best to find out about and spotlight key releases from every.
Launched shortly earlier than or shortly after the demise of the cantankerous UK storage band Black Timeeven the founders themselves dont recall for sure; between 10 and 15 years in the past, they sayMystery Aircraft has been a clearing home for initiatives associated to Midnight Mines, a London-based duo as elusive and beguiling because the mysterious-guy aliases the first noisemakers have adopted.
In keeping with Non-public Sorrow, each he and musical associate Barron Saturday endure busy lives within the tunnel hive, so the idea was hatched to file spontaneous compositions, subsequently chopped up and dubbed into form, copied onto tape, and offered direct as low-run mail order editions.
Buying and selling in what the duo name an improv assault with a storage band mentality, they launched Dancehall Type, their first correct cassette as Midnight Mines, in 2013 and subsequently issued a gradual movement of basement-level avant-rock; freeform psychedelia; analog bleeps and bloops; and broken, circuit-busting duball usually over the course of a single launch. Although theyve obtained just a little assist from associates corresponding to New Zealands Impartial Girl Data and Buffalo, New Yorks Loki Label, they usually noticed their most up-to-date cassette, Scratching the Beat Floor, come out through Hassle In Minds Explorers Collection, the duo have remained stridently DIY and saved all of it within the household, so to talk, with Thriller Aircraft.
Along with the duos work beneath the Midnight Mines guise, the label has additionally been a platform for Saturdays and Sorrows solo recordings, in addition to sounds from fellow vacationers and reconfigured model of the Mines, corresponding to Cosmic Slops, Chair-o-Planes, and Household Sorrow Band. Midnight Mines fascinate on quite a few ranges, with their music, after all, being on the highest. But Saturday and Sorrow have used Thriller Aircraft and the scrappy immediacy of cassettes to bolster one of many extra fascinating enigmas within the underground right this moment. The Thriller Aircraft catalog will be difficult at occasions, however titles corresponding to Create Disturbance in Your Thoughts and For those who Cant Discover a Accomplice Use a Wood Chair betray the faint define of a tongue in a cheek, to not point out an appreciation of early rock n roll as the unique transgressor.
Put out in extraordinarily restricted editions, Thriller Aircraft cassettes will be tough to return by. With all their releases shrouded in a good bit of thriller, dont count on an enormous reissue marketing campaign any time quickly, although all stay out there in digital kind.
Launch to Begin With
Right here Come the Cosmic Slops
Credited to Skymaster Sorrow, Trade Plant Saturday, and Autodrome, Cosmic Slops, like all different Thriller Aircraft outfits, revel within the esoteric. But whereas no data concerning the ensemble itself is explicitly forthcoming right here, this 2022 cassette has a lot to disclose sonically concerning the label. A pleasant encapsulation of the disparate but cohesive musical aesthetic laid out throughout Thriller Planes numerous releases, Right here Come the Cosmic Slops provides three prolonged, freewheeling tracks of rickety motorik rhythms, unbridled lysergic guitar injury, and the type of deep, melancholic soundscapes that one finds within the extra experimental corners of the kiwi underground. Whereas there isn’t any funk right here within the spirit of the outfits namesake, there are grooves, and the Cosmic Slops get actual low in their very own distinct method.
To not be confused with the short-lived mid-aughts Sony Music offshoot Tofu Data, Tfu-Koz Data was a kind of archetypal blink-and-you-missed-it instrumental hip-hop labels. For roughly three years starting in late 2017, the label issued hand-numbered beat tapes in packaging so artfully and meticulously designed it not solely completely complemented however often rivaled the precise music. (Even the plastic movie the tapes got here wrapped in was iridescent. Some individuals consider every little thing!) After which, following the discharge of 180 by Izoldas Tearsa file impressed by the nice darts gamers of historyand with out a lot as a farewell notice, it was throughout.
Though run out of Paris by a pair of graphic designers, Japanese coolnot Frenchwas in some ways the labels prevailing sensibility. A tfu-koz, for starters, is a legendary tofu-carrying and childlike creature referred to as a yokai, significantly in style in Japanese pulp fiction in the course of the later years of the Edo interval. For one more, the labels debut launch, Toshiro, is 22 minutes of hyper-creative boom-bap from Japanese artist Shugend, whose oddball follow-up, Toshiro Vol. 2, theyd difficulty in 2019.
Good luck discovering intensive data on Shugendor on any of the label artists, for that matter. Instrumental hip-hop and beat tape tradition is notoriously mild on biographical data; even the label claimed to be uncertain of the identification of Lowqua, whose Madlib-inspired first tape Anogalthey launched in 2018. The next yr, Lowqua collaborated with Shugend and Izoldas Tears on seventh Heaven, a free mixtape they described as a hiphop UFO and now among the many labels most experimental choices. Cleveland-based artist jalen, crammed his 2019 tape Imperfect with roughed-up beats and extra-grainy synths; the 23-year-old Cologne-based beatmaker lostlife., in contrast, sounds reasonably eager on a hodgepodge of easy jazz, plucky guitar harmonies, and synths so ethereal they gracefully deflate all through a journey by house & time.
In different phrases, theres back-to-front shambolic scratchiness, and theres additionally knotty Afro-jazz grooves, and theres additionally a sliced-up lo-fi caress wrapped in seafoam inexperienced and anime-themed packaging. And all of it matches the labels M.O., which is much less of a motto than a promise (or, tape relying, a risk): Can harm your sensibility.
Launch to Begin With
The crates are nothing if not sufficiently dug on Benya, Lowquas second tape for Tfu-Koz, restricted to only 50 cassettes and proffering, insofar because the liner notes go, heavy beats from a misplaced African desert. No argument right here, significantly on cuts like Prelude to Odoso and Kaniteas Loss of life. However theres a quickness to Lowquas beat building and a playfulness to his layering, from the brassy Latin shimmy of Guerilla Struggle or the retrofuturist 8-bit trill of Stars. Closing reduce Bambaa is evenly break up between chillhop and conventional Japanese influences. Its imaginative and diversified, fortunately displaying its bones with out feeling carelessly assembled. And wed be remiss to not point out its unconventional packaging: the cassettes themselves are stickered over with a psychedelic marble design, then slipped right into a plastic sleeve as an alternative of a folding case in order to keep up the impact. And Tfu-Koz is nothing if not concerning the impact.
Relating to music, all Eilee and Evren Centeno have ever recognized is hitting the street, jamming econo, doing it themselves. When the siblings have been barely teenagers, they began touring across the nation with their dad and mom in a household band that was far nearer to The Replacements than it was the Osmonds, reserving their very own reveals at file shops, all-ages venues, and DIY areas round America. Quickly, the band signed to a small New Jersey-based label, saved hitting the street throughout breaks in class, launched a pair of information, and even toured in Japan.
So, for them, it solely made sense to begin a label, to begin releasing music from their friends, and to do all of it in a method that’s accessible, tangible, and enjoyable.
After assembly Nathan McMurray at Merge Data thirtieth anniversary present (and bonding over the truth that they have been the one individuals on the present who werent middle-aged), Trash Tape Data was born.
McMurraywho, just like the Centenos, was nonetheless a highschool pupil on the timehad been experimenting with cassette dubbing with a pack of previous clean tapes he discovered at a used bookstore.
As all three have been nonetheless in highschool in Chapel Hill and neighboring Durham, it was straightforward to get to work placing out tapes at a livid clip. Inside a yr, the label boasted a number of releases centered on younger bands recording at residence, hosted a handful of native reveals, and booked a label showcase tour up the I-95 hall.
And whereas Trash Tapes honors the DIY ethos of a few of their favourite labels and collectives like Merge and Elephant 6, their focus has at all times been a lot wider than the native scenes of the forebears. That includes artists from as far-off as Australia and Sweden; as close by as Chapel Hill and Virginia; and from the Centenos native New Jersey, Trash Tapes embraces one thing of a localness for the digital age; that’s, bands certain by ethos and ambition reasonably than geography, whose hometowns are some particular nook of the web, reasonably than a spot on a map.
Launch To Begin With
Corridor, Kra Flod!
Quiet Commotion was Trash Tapes first worldwide act. The Swedish artistwhose actual identify is Daniel Katzmakes lush and layered but mild and ethereal bed room pop within the vein of The Magnetic Fields, Jens Lekman, Her House Vacation, and even, at occasions, early Elliott Smith. After discovering Katzs music on a song-sharing web site, Evren reached out, asking if Katz had any curiosity in releasing music with a brand new tape label run by highschool children like him. Quickly, nonetheless, McMurray and the Centenos discovered that Katz wasnt fairly a highschool child like them. Slightly, he was nonetheless solely fourteen.
As its mentioned, the children are alright.
When Will Kraus, the musician behind experimental different rock undertaking Kraus, hit a inventive wall in 2019 that had him interrogating his future in DIY music, he contemplated repositioning himself within the ecosystem. I felt a compulsion to re-engage with music in a method that has at all times felt proper to me, which is in a supportive function as a fan, he says. He and collaborator Andy Pelerine took their informal fandom to the subsequent degree by launching a small tape label. The resultant enterprise, View No Nation, focuses on restricted releases of high-quality music from up-and-coming artists, particularly within the introspective slowcore, shoegaze, and post-rock areas.
At first, Kraus and Pelerine compiled releases from missed favorites, together with artwork pop soloists Tex Patrello and 0fret and lo-fi experimentalists Euphoria Once more and Nick Brobak, gathering an early cohort of musician allies and refining their curatorial ears. Initially primarily based in Dallas, the pair now run VNC out of their properties in Los Angeles and Seattle, taking a sluggish however deliberate strategy to increasing their roster. Plant Franklin from Florida-based different singer-songwriter Deadharrie cemented VNCs status for locating one of the best in mild introspection, whereas Texas-based Bedlockeds self-titled LP showcased how heavy, noisy rock can get profoundly meditative. Kraus and Pelerine proceed working to generate a close-knit community between their artists, highlighting that VNC is a small however mighty drive of interconnected musicians hyping every others considerate, usually plaintive releases. Kraus additionally releases music movies for VNC releases beneath his private YouTube channel, reinforcing the private but casual community binding VNC collectively.
Launch to Begin With
Dream pop, noise rock, shoegaze, and lo-fi bed room rock commingle on the freshly launched VNC Mixtape, that includes label favorites like 0fret and deadharrie in addition to contributions from L.A.s Cryogeyser, Krauss onetime Horrible Data labelmate. The primary 10 tracks come from VNC releases, showcasing songs from Kraus, Tex Patrello, Bedlocked, and extra; the next 11 are heretofore unreleased demos, collabs, and one-offs that includes Philadelphia musicians henderson century and Max Black and a demo of beloved Bedlocked observe see by.
The identify Woodford Halse sounds as quaint and acquainted as wooden paneling but additionally unimaginable to put, like a dream that wont fairly go away you alone upon waking. Its an acceptable deal with for a label specializing in a specific model of unheimlich folks, psychedelia, and digital music of each conceivable shade and stripe, with a powerful roster of radiophonic alchemists and eccentric outsiders.
Earthy and tactile should not the obvious descriptors for a style as obsessive about the clean-room perfectionism of mainstream digital music, but its what makes Woodford Halse shine like a beacon in a sea of imitators. As label proprietor Mat Handleywho additionally information as Pulseloversputs it: I embrace these frayed edges and tough surfaces in life and in music, be it the wow, flutter and hiss of the cassette or the slowly drifting tuning of a 40-year-old oscillator working by a 50 yr previous copycat tape echo machine.
After attending a reside gig that includes Ekoplekz and Sophie Cooper channeling a peculiar mix of hand-wrought electronica and psychedelic folks, Handley got down to revive his teenage daydream of working a label and based Woodford Halse in 2017.
Impressed by the signature visible aesthetic of labels like 4AD, Woodford Halse releases are the definition of collectible. Every album incorporates a die-cut sleeve and cigarette card insert to ponder over as you hear, courtesy of graphic designer Nick Taylor. It offers the label a cohesive identification, serving as a seal of approval and certificates of authenticity no matter its contents.
Woodford Halse follows a grueling launch schedule, placing out over 60 albums within the final 5 years and even inspiring two spin-off labels: Preston Capes, for extra leftfield and avant-garde releases; and Fenny Compton, for restricted version lathe-cuts. 2023 stands to be one other stand-out yr, with new releases from Irish experimentalist David Colohan, a gothic libretto a few Spanish painter dwelling in exile from Maud the Moth, and ambient piano soundscapes from Ozbolt due within the subsequent few months.
Launch to Begin With
On a regular basis Mud
Witching Hour Lineman
With its give attention to analog electronics and a mournful late-night feeling, Witching Hour Lineman from Scottish musician On a regular basis Mud is an ideal introduction to the digital facet of Woodford Halse. With its eerie, detuned artificial strings and burbling analog sequencers, it sounds just like the soundtrack for some lengthy misplaced classic documentary about alien craft and standing stones. Thrilling and chilling in equal measure, itll have you ever longing to take a drive throughout a moonlit moor at the hours of darkness. Followers of retro digital acts like Pye Nook Audio or Boards Of Canada will instantly fall beneath its spell.