Scrubbed is a new column that attempts to take on the enormous, burgeoning cassette scene one piece at a time. The name comes from studio jargon for fast-forwarding or rewinding along a reel of tape to find a specific part (and “to scrub” lives on, on Youtube). Scrubbing is, in effect, what Loose Lips will be attempting to do, zooming through the interweb at an irresponsible speed, stopping only where the grips are the juiciest, and the noise most profound. Each month we’ll pick a set of a tapes that best exemplifies where the culture is at, and where it is heading next. A herculean task, for sure, but we’ll be joining in a tradition started by the likes of Tabsout, Norelco Mori, and Spools Out, and so, together we will map the music landscape.
This month focuses on intensely personal performances. Sometimes improvised, sometimes carefully charted, like plotting a map of the inside of a body. Locked rooms and unopened chests, DIY orchestras and single, fidgety fingers.
Max Eilbacher - Dual Monologues in Parallel (Mondoj)
Mondoj is a new label from Warsaw, Poland, a country with a thriving experimental scene. Is it the disney-esque castles and cottages? The fierce ritual vodka sessions? Who knows, but something drives this tiny nation to produce left field music that is high-energy, inventive, and captivating. Dual Monologues in Parallel is a one-man harmonic waltz, recorded in Berlin and Baltimore. Eilbacher focuses on rhythm, creating tense crescendos of guitar harmonics and Buchla tones. If you aren’t familiar with Buchla synthesizers, then this tape is a great place to start. Although Eilbacher uses it sparingly, the effect sustains. It’s literally Moog’s bastard cousin—equally visionary, but of a totally disparate, art house variety.
DJ SCHLUCHT - Spears Utilitarian Outlook (MORE Records)
Ever crank the radio dial in a dated car a little too many degrees past 3 ‘o'clock? The music starts to collapse, as if you tuned the antenna loose and now it’s rolling away in the dust behind you, picking up negative energy and covert conversations. Goblins talking in hushed tones. Evil armies plotting insurgencies. DJ SCHLUCHT is the “mad scientist” behind DIY Church, a radio and internet rabbit hole well worth diving down, hosted on archive.org. His collage cassette is two twenty-minute sides of brain soup. There’s murmurs and shouts, electronic scrawl like a madman carving his way out of a personal prison—the true meaning of “plunderphonic.”
Check out: both sides
Josiah Steinbeck – Meeting of Waters (Leaving Records)
So I’ve been unapologetically obsessed with ideophones as of late. You can hear all about it on a short run podcast called Orbis Tertius I’m currently hosting over at listen.camp. An ideophone is the catch-all term for pitched percussion instruments like xylophone, vibraphone, mbira, all those phenomenally expressive, single-pitch sounds you beat with mallets, hands, sticks, or thumbs. Josiah Steinbeck has made a sort of encyclopedia of pitched percussion on Meeting of Waters. The track titles are simple lists, as if they’re the contents of locked wooden boxes, and within is a coffer of busy melodies and minimal phasing. “(Two Bells)” is Steinbeck at his most austere, whereas other tracks are veritable symphonies, everything including the kitchen sink, which may or may not be dripping an entrancing beat in the background.
Check out: “(Two Vibraphones, Two Bowed Marimbaphones, Wooden Xylophone, Two Bells, Handheld Wood)”
Boliden - Backyard (Lillerne Tapes)
Sounding like musty air emanating out of a swinging cabin door, it’s Barcelona’s Boliden, aka José María Delgado Diáz! This is the first of Boliden I’ve heard, but it’s sound hauntingly familiar. The vocal samples like snippets of the ole childhood boombox, the gated, percussive boom is indistinguishably noisy, like a faraway crowd. It’s pleasant, foot-tapping music, lonely and stoic, the sort of thing someone could accomplish with a sixth sense for aural texture and just a foot, microphone, and guitar. Also sounds great zoning out in your bedroom with five close companions (or six, or twelve—one for each track).
Check out: “Forest”
Barboza / Rousay Duo – Brought Back (Rat Tail Tapes)
I think every musician remembers the tangible power of beating a drum. Whether it’s pots and pans or in a music shop, stressing out the patrons, blindly flailing along in an unpatterned mess, the desire to beat a free, transcendent rhythm is a human urge. It gets the heart racing. Kirstian Barboza (playing drums R) and Dane Rousay (playing drums L) are, fortunately, very good at tapping into a subconscious pulse. They weave in and out, communicating like a brutalist talking drum, reading the wavelengths between each other.
Maymind – Illumina (Umor Rex)
Umor Rex is a great labor for synthesizer and design nerds. All of their releases contain an extremely focused approach to composition—in many cases the work of one person—and a uniform aesthetic not unlike the coveted 60s Penguins editions. Their latest tape batch contains this gem by Leo Maymind, recorded with care in Los Angeles. Maymind battles against the impatience of modern music consumption, using patient, thoughtfully intrusive sampling and limited timbres. Perhaps its’ a massive task, but I think you’ll find Illumina an easy grip to dive into and soak up.
Check out: “rhymes with island”