The Richmond Tape Club series returns in April with five new releases as the bands gear up for RVA Noise Fest III. Jonathan Lee’s roster will provide a welcome respite from the festival’s “eardrum destroying acts”, as many travel in more delicate fields. For example, those with ruptured eardrums will not be able to appreciate the nuances of Anduin (Lee) and Steven Vitiello, whose cassettes lie at the forefront of the relaunch.
Providing a seamless transition from the first set, released last year, Anduin’s Tape 4B is a continuation of Tape 4 (which now becomes Tape 4A). Operating as a quartet of B-sides, these tracks were left off the former release, but were recorded at the same time. These should not be considered outtakes, as they are of the same high quality. Guest contributors Jimmy Ghaphery (saxophone) and Noah Saval (harmonica) continue to expand Anduin’s often-fluid boundaries, and we mean this in a literal sense, as the reverberations of Tape 4‘s closing track lap against a physical shore.
4A ends in a drone and 4B begins in one, swiftly mutating into unpredictable shapes. A tape seems to play backwards, leading to the waves that were deserted midway through the preceding track: a mirror image cast by shadow. But then a sweet, slow beat develops, wrapping around the ambient core with confident assurance. Anduin calls this track “Lesser Death, Second Life”, a title which may pertain to religion or to the resurrection of the track itself. When an actual cassette mechanism is pressed (5:32), the timbre changes again. Even the field recordings shift from the wet to the dry, as crickets replace water and a pulse replaces drums. A short segment of distant traffic leads to echoed orchestras and the sound of an opening door, a nod to the artist’s installations. The same holds true for the brief crowd conversation in “Restless Wanderer”, as Anduin toys with interpretations of the live and the recorded. “Wooden Kimono” and “The Guild” are the tape’s surprise tracks. Each track begins like a club contender before the harmonica calms them down. While they might have been out of place on the former release, they work well as the closing tracks of a longer work. A twinned release would be welcome once the initial run sells out; perhaps even more tracks are waiting.
Steven Vitiello is a site favorite, and his entry in the Richmond Tape Club series is entirely beguiling: two ten-minute tracks that float in the nether region between electronics and ambience. “Single Coil Buchia Rhythm” seems ready to spring into action at all times, with pulses and gurgles intimating the arrival of a drum beat. Instead Vitiello provides guitar explorations, sometimes straightforward and sometimes looped, unfolding in unpredictable segments (3:02 – pops and loops; 4:23 – drone and synthetic thrust; 7:47 – brief western meanderings). Vitiello has always displayed a fascination with sound properties, and the combination of the shorter format and the encouraging label owner (“Go for it!”) provides the opportunity for even more experimentation than usual. The second side continues in this fashion with chime tones and marching drones that come to an abrupt halt when the cassette ends. Now we’re spoiled, wanting a 5B.
Be sure to check out the rest of the new Richmond Tape Series batch: the claustrophobic ambience of Brandon Hurtado, the oppressive drone of Matt Boettke and the tribal rhythms of Mutwawa. There’s great variety to be found here, and Lee is to be congratulated for creating such a diverse roster. And if you’re attending RVA Noise Fest III, don’t forget to protect your eardrums; not every artist will be so kind. (Richard Allen)