The Tape Label Report: September 2021
By Bandcamp Daily Staff September 30, 2021
Welcome to The Tape Label Report, where we introduce you to five tape-focused labels you should know about and highlight the major versions of each.
Whether a record is released on vinyl, pressed to tape, or simply uploaded to streaming platforms, the cover rules remain largely unchanged. Regardless of genres and geographic boundaries, these designs are almost always tied to the same symmetrical dimensions and, most importantly, are easy to recognize from any distance, anywhere, unless you are signed to the Almost Halloween Time imprint of Luigi Falagario, ie. Every copy of almost everything released by the Italian label (founded 2001) is wrapped in its own unique work of art, hand painted by Falagario himself. While your own copy of Magi’s Hot pursuit may feature a close-up depiction of what appears to be nerve tissue, your friend’s gang version might be accompanied by a ghostly image of a hand partially submerged in water.
Self-taught artist inspired by Frida Kahlo, Edward Hopper and Egon Schiele, Falagario uses the cover art as part of his daily practice; each piece takes about two hours to complete. “I paint because my grandfather always thought I was good at it,” he says. “He bought me all kinds of gear that hadn’t been used until I decided to paint the covers of the records I released on my label.”
The label’s name is believed to evoke Edward Hopper’s visions of American suburbs, but is also taken from the title of Falagario’s favorite song: “Halloween” by Home, which he first heard on a radio station. local radio station called Planet Rock in the late 90s. In July 2020, after years of trying to reach them by post, he collaborated with the group on their latest album, titled 18.
Release to begin:
Josh Lopez’s now-defunct solo project MATH frequently collaborated with other lo-fi groups and tape labels in Southern California in the mid-2010s, though it was actually Almost Halloween Time that squeezed its first official tape release in 2013. Odes touches on all the hallmarks of music that Falagario prefers to release: it’s strummy, lyrically conversational and endearing jad fairy.
– Jude Noël
A “creative label” that doesn’t limit itself to just releasing music, brrwd (pronounced “borrowed”) is mostly about beats and loops, wrapped in minimalist designs. Led primarily by Japanese producer Repeat Pattern, the label has been releasing music regularly since 2014 with an emphasis on physical media. “Basically, it was like everything was going digital. Let’s just put that 10 “in and keep it as a 10” now, just because we like 10 “… and nobody pulls out 10” [anymore]”says Repeat Pattern of their first release, Color by Youtaro.
New projects are also underway. There’s an upcoming zine collaboration with Allied Forces Press and photographer Ahraun Chambliss, reminiscent of brrwd’s early DIY with photography on 10 inch vinyl. And while brrwd has been a household name in the world beat tape scene, they aren’t limited to that genre either. “It would be nice to do more pop stuff in the bedroom,” Repeat Pattern says. “I really liked the Crying Abel project. Honestly, in terms of listening, that’s kind of where I’ve been for a long, long time and it’s just that I don’t know how to attract those kinds of people.
Release to begin:
Empty sequence / Bad sequence
Wonky beats à la Brainfeeder, with a good dose of swing and a dash of humor. Elevatorteeth sports o-card, Empty sequence / Bad sequence is a testament to brrwd’s ability to connect talent across borders. Montreal producer Antoje has filled both sides to the brim with rhythmic vignettes that make creative use of chiptunes, MIDI instruments and vocal samples; each idea never goes beyond its welcome. These are not your lo-fi rhythms for studying; “Seriouslymost Meta” has a thick, visceral bassline that requires head movement, while “Flat Matter” lays a Playboi Carti a cappella on out of tune synths, satisfying our curiosity as to how those beats would sound with bars.
In 2020, Dwight and Liz Pavlovic celebrated 10 years of managing Crash Symbols. It’s a milestone few cassette labels have hit, but the Morgantown, West Virginia-based couple are persisting. Along with Crash Symbols’ dense discography of beautifully crafted international experimental releases, the Pavlovics launched the dance music sub-label Easy Bay Records, and previously led the releases. Decoder and Get off the coast.
As the costs of manufacturing and shipping tapes have increased, quadrupling the price of international shipments since their inception, Crash Symbols’ latest challenge is slowing down. “It doesn’t seem like our governments want us to interact with each other at the small business level,” says Dwight. “At this point, we’re starting to look more like a conventional label, promoting each release as much as possible. If you have something coming out every month, it’s unreasonable to expect people to listen every time you email them.
Quality is clearly a priority over quantity on upcoming releases like the new album by Brazilian artist Grimório de Abril, Glass maze. Selected copies will include a handmade zine and a piece of glass (sanded for safety) from Blenko Glass Company, one of America’s last remaining artisanal glass factories. This connection came through Liz’s work as a visual artist; she recently worked with the Milton, West Virginia-based company on figurines of the Flatwoods Monster, a regional cryptid. Like every version of Crash Symbols, proven DIY techniques are used to create something from another world.
Release to begin:
Touched by an angle # 2
Although it has been out since 2018, Dwight describes the latest compilation spanning multiple labels from Crash Symbols as “a pretty much accurate sample of what we’re doing right now.” Among the 26 songs that stand out are the dub-noise experiments of Fletcher Pratt of Winnipeg, the lo-fi rock of Honey Radar of Philadelphia and the fiery vibe of YlangYlang of Montreal. Buried deep within its song list, Estonian artist Kadajane’s “Snow Is Jazz” is three and a half minutes of murky trip-hop that perfectly embodies what the label does best, connecting distant artists no matter where. they are geographically located.
Adam Svenson of Eiderdown Records wanted to start a label that looked like a label. So naturally, he thought about the smell: “I wanted them to smell like a private press LP, you know, when you open it …” That’s why the Seattle label, created in 2011, silkscreen all of its inserts. “But my Broken Press printer is a real pro. And he doesn’t coat it that thick anymore, ”adds Svenson, a little sad. “So they don’t always feel quite the same …”
Despite a lack of olfactory qualities, the 38 tapes in the Eiderdown catalog are beautiful objects. Svenson had long admired the weird visuals his artist friends produced and wanted to associate them with the “weird, weird stuff” he heard: music for the quiet hours, in particular. “I started with the slogan of music at 2 a.m. or music at 3 a.m.,” he explains, “I’ve always liked music that sounded like it was a bit far away. , maybe played from another room.
That’s why the Eiderdown catalog includes everything from accidentally caught muezzin calls during a Javanese thunderstorm to distant Grateful Dead tributes and guitar duels under the influence of deadly toxins. He puts the releases in batches of two or three, working with one of his visual artist friends, like Max Clotfelter or Aubrey Nehring, to create a distinct identity for each set.
“My kids are all beautiful and special,” Svenson says, admitting that like any good parent whose offspring steals the nest, he always feels sad when a tape sells.
Release to begin:
On a moonlit hill in Slovenia
Cellist Lori Goldston has been part of Seattle’s underground royalty for nearly three decades, from her days as a touring cellist for Nirvana to collaborations with Laura Veirs, Parenthetical Girls and Dylan Carlson’s Earth. Here, it’s just her, a cello and a backyard somewhere in Slovenia (the tiny European country perched between Italy and Croatia.) Supported only by the soft croaking of grasshoppers, she coaxes hesitant and capricious lullabies. that tremble in the night air. Sometimes the music really is that simple.
-Phil E. Bloomfield
Founded by bassist Nat Baldwin in 2020, Tripticks Tapes’s mission is to present experimental musicians who create new structures and embrace collective musical creation. To date, they have featured some of the most prominent artists on the current scene, such as saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi and bassist Luke Stewart. There isn’t a single overall sound to what they release; instead, each exploits different textural, timbral, melodic and harmonic possibilities of improvised music, from dissonant scratches to ecstatic screams to icy void.
Baldwin had wanted to get Tripticks Tapes off the ground for some time, but when the COVID-19 pandemic began he shifted into high gear, hoping to provide a space for artists and audiences to connect while live music in person was paused. He also noticed a lot of “inspiring experimental music” that didn’t have a home, and he hoped that Tripticks could become another outlet for this community. “We view each work as a unique release, but they are part of a deep continuum and an ever-expanding community that exists both within our small label and far beyond,” Baldwin said by e -mail. “We hope that our catalog, as a whole, will unfold like a long and ever-changing improvisation, traversing unpredictable, dynamic and constantly moving terrain, in conversation with the past while always looking to the future. Or perhaps it could read as an episodic tale of an unreliable narrator taking flight across a surreal landscape in so-called America criticizing the hypocrisy and consumerism of modern culture as the singular work of the Ann Quin novel Tripticks. “
Release to begin:
TAK and Brandon Lopez
Void And / or Church of Abundance
Tripticks Tapes release on October 1st, Void And / or Church of Abundance by bassist Brandon Lopez and the TAK Ensemble of New York, sums up the spontaneity, unity and stylistic range of the label. TAK Ensemble commissioned Lopez to write the piece, but unlike the European format of composing a score that performers then play, every musician had a say in the composition process. The goal was to break down hierarchies. Void And / or Church of Abundance is understated, moving from hollow and distant crackles to cool, airy tones and back again with ease, centering rugged stringed instruments and a deep sense of connection and communication.