Eclectic tape label Dinzu Artefacts has continued to impress with the variety of its seasonal batches. The fall 2017 batch includes tapes from Jack Taylor, Matthias Urban and Fousek / Hansen / Tellier Craig, and offers a spectrum of drones from subtle to brazen. As the nights widen and the air cools, such music provides an evocative score: part disillusionment, part revelry.
Jack Taylor‘s Somnii is intended to capture “torpid stages of sleep,” which deserves a bit of conversation. As a frequent insomniac, I long for the sort of sleep reflected by ambient music: soft, soothing, sheeplike. But Somnii is a better reflection of my experience. The irony is that I can sleep to this; it’s like white noise with Tourette’s syndrome. The first side grows and grows, tosses and turns, protests the arbitrary nature of night. These are tapes within a tape, manipulated and turned like an agitated sleeper. From time to time, one can even hear the sound of tape ejection, like that same sleeper ejected from slumberland by God-knows-what in the middle of the night. But then there’s a peaceful respite ten minutes in, an oasis of cloud, a fragment of golden slumber. Then the process begins again. A few minutes into Side B, we hear the sound of amplified crickets, timbres turned from tranquil to terrifying. Looks like it’s going to be another long night.
It’s odd to think of how people who love tapes tend to abuse them. Matthias Urban treats his cassettes with chemicals, which is how The Joker was created. It just doesn’t seem very nice. The beginning moments of “Parasitisme” meld tape noise with bubbling, clanking and whirrs, suggesting a mad scientist caught in the throes of inspiration. It’s alive! The track begins to thrash about, attempting to break its bonds, throwing off nuts and bolts of violins and violence. The rest of The Galvanic Twitch continues in this vein, with added guests cello and tenor sax dropping by to say hello before being unceremoniously killed. Delve into “Ruptured by Trauma” if you doubt their fate. Our old friend the Sony Walkman even makes an appearance, sounding quite sprightly for his age. The 13-minute “Schächte I” (“manhole” or “well”, and yes something is in there) incorporates laughter in its dark ambience. Only “Slug Eating A Dead Slug Eating A …” breaks the mold, with elongated tones building a bridge to the other side of abrasion. Do you like scary music?
No track titles on No Image in Particular, just track times. And no real cover image either. But Fousek / Hansen / Tellier-Craig‘s tape is anything but indistinct. It’s the most musical and melodic of the fall batch, although it lives outside the town like an Old Testament leper. This is outsider music by people who want to be outsiders, and who wear their sampled electronics like broken sequins. Drones, crunches and bicycle bells co-exist in this glittering junkyard of sound. Micro-melodies visit, wave and flee. Imagine a smashed computer trying to fix itself and succeeding. This is the impression of No Image in particular, the scattered components rolling across the floor before connecting with a click. For a tape without an image, it inspires a host of associations, and its aural complexity invites repeated listens. Just put the tape player on repeat, and if it jams, perhaps it will create its own uneasy music in response, completing the compositional circle. (Richard Allen)