By the late nineteen nineties, the audio cassette tape was pushed into a state of near obsolescence by the prevailing digital landscape. And by 2003, most of the major labels abandoned the cassette format entirely. Today – thanks in part to the energies of select independent music scenes, each committed to their (arguably) unique sound and compact design – cassettes have been experiencing a bit of a revival. Canadian label Arachnidiscs Recordings are a member of this resurgence. In addition to CDr and download releases, they curate an ongoing split tape series, each limited to 50 copies packaged with all the singularity of DIY ethos. Their latest split features the music of Texas based artist Silent Land Time Machine and Toronto’s Moonwood.
Side A is reserved for Silent Land Time Machine, who presents two tracks recorded from live performances during a brief 2011 tour of Canada (the second track features additional sounds by label mates Khôra & Nick Kuepfer). Both pieces start with layered violin loops that rise and fall like a coastal tide, creating space and ambience for a concluding atmosphere of dense, icy resonance. Subtle melodies, seemingly innocuous sound textures, vocal and delay effects: all of these elements heighten to form a dreamlike state of glacial distance and snowy isolation. The violin work is at times naïve – but rather than disarm the listener, its naivety injects character and inherent poise to music that it is at once beautiful and elegiac. A perfect companion for a cold winter’s day!
Side B contains a six track offering from Jakob Rehlinger’s Moonwood project. Previous recordings have included musician Jacqueline Noire, but here Rehlinger is flying solo. Recorded live in his rehearsal studio between Nov 2011 and May 2012, this collection of guitar work explores a wide range of styles from Middle Eastern, Asian, Jazz and American roots music; each track moves with a steady pace, weaving in and out of various improvisations and often accompanied by warm, murky synthesized backdrops for added body and warmth. Perhaps not as salient as Silent Land Time Machine’s contribution to the split, Rehlinger’s work auspiciously harbors a myriad of guitar styles that make his music very hard to pin down and positions Moonwood as a distinctive project, with boundless suggestibility that doesn’t sound quite like anything else out there.
The tragedy here is that only 50 copies of this split cassette were made, so you’d better act fast if you want to get one. Both artists make it well worth the while – and provide a worthy excuse to break out that old, dusty tape player. (Michael Duane Ferrell)