It’s time for another batch review. Today we’re examining experimental music label Bookend Recordings’ most recent update, a set of three tapes featuring a diverse range of sonic artistry and creative sound manipulation. As always, I’ll examine each of the releases by catalog number and share my thoughts. These are going quick, so visit the label’s store ASAP to get your hands on these tapes.
BE 014: AMK & Tanner Garza- Evento Dispari
While readers of my site should know I’m quite well versed in the recent musical career of Bookend operator and tape loop dreamweaver Tanner Garza, this cassette is my introduction to the rather lengthy and deep discography of Anthony King, performing as AMK. Pairing AMK’s crumbling montages with Garza’s meandering ambiance might seem odd, but a couple listens to this relatively brief (fifteen minutes with both sides taken into account) cassette shows that this is a worthwhile endeavor for each artist. On the A side, we have “Lubrificare” sliding in with circular patterns of voices that would feel abrasive were it not for the gentle hum in the background. As the song progresses, sounds of distant piano mingle with choppy sound samples to create an ever-expanding void. It is neither sad nor welcoming; the two create a space that is equally empty and overwhelmingly busy, depending on what the listener seeks. In the moments between the swirls of advertisements and other distractions, there is a single focus. It’s the constant fight between the mind and the distractions of the outside world, an experience that each of us shares in our own way. The B side’s offering, “Coltelleria” presents a similar vision from a different angle. On this side we experience more of the inner workings of the mind, while occasional interference from outside fights for attention, at times building to a dizzying level. It is more blissful in a way, yet the distraction is no less apparent. Each tape comes encased in a shell of varying color, so yours may appear differently from mine with its two-tone black and white shell, but each contains the same compelling music. With only fifty copies in existence, this is a keeper.
BE 015: Waves Crashing Piano Chords- Childhood
Again, we find Bookend releasing a new tape from an old favorite, with this terribly short new tape from Rochester maniac Waves Crashing Piano Chords exacting its chaos in a mere eight minutes. Don’t worry though, with a focus on the violent youth of Mary Bell, you won’t want to endure the stress and fear for much longer than it lasts. With Waves Crashing Piano Chords’ trademark walls of amplifier feedback and samples of interviews with the album’s focus, “Childhood” and “Childhood (Concluded)” are two brief and painful journeys through the mind of a psychopathic child. Following suit with the recently reviewed Just Give Me Something to Fuck, this is free of vocals, instead allowing the rolling static and churning frequencies to convey the confusion of a violent mind and the true terror of a child’s life cut short. As with everything Sean Beard does, this release is deliberate and does exactly what it needs to do. Not for the faint of heart, but highly recommended nonetheless.
BE 016: the volume settings folder & Tanner Garza- Springtime Return
Closing out the newest batch of Bookend Recordings tapes is this piece of monumental bliss from two of the most exciting newer ambient and experimental musicians. Label head Garza is collaborating again, this time with Italian ambient genius the volume settings folder. I’ve actually been following the volume settings folder since before I started this website, so I feel it’s well overdue that I feature his music on here. The music here swells and grows, slowly shifting like petals of a flower reaching towards the first sunlight after a rain. This is truly slow and blissful music, with subtle loops and gentle bass flowing together in a way that feels wholly natural despite the distance between the two artists. While it might be easy to turn this into background music, a careful ear will find much beauty and love behind this international collaboration. As the weather heats up, we’re losing opportunities to fully experience the moods captured on this tape, so put this one on the next time you’re able to get up early and witness a sunrise. As you come to life slowly, so will the world. You won’t just be listening to the music, you’ll be living it.