March 14, 2012

Tape Trade #3: Moon Glyph

The tradition of "tape trading" is a long one, though it's probably a practice most people will associate with how the underground of rock and punk networked for decades in the 80s and 90s. There are even a few small websites still out there (example) that help organize the remnant of that original network and some of its successors. Today tapes are a variety of things to a variety of people, but as a way of finding new music on a format you value tape trading has never been more important - because the things are available to purchase for a fraction of the cost of CDs and they're gob cheaper than them to manufacture. For many cassette labels, tape trading is a way to network with others in the same position, trying to produce and sell what is still an eccentric seeming item to some. Trading their own releases, the real cost of the trade becomes almost negligible.

In 2011 we began organizing and documenting tape trades through the webpage for our imprint Crash Symbols, but after some discussion we've decided that these features had as much a place here as anywhere else. Though this is the first tape trade we've covered here, the others - with Holy Page and Full of Nothing - are still available. Feel free to get in touch with me if you'd like to participate. The first trade we'll be covering at both sites couldn't have been a bigger pleasure to arrange. Late last year, my wife and I entertained Minneapolis label Moon Glyph's founder Steve Rosborough and his significant other, taking them to the hippest places in Oakland, surely leaving them impressed with the area's vibrant cultural scene and the terrible table service at Burma Superstar, one of our favorite restaurants in the Bay. Amidst all that splendor, we were able to trade a bunch of releases - check out what we got!

MG17: Tender Meat, Live at the Ritz (the Ritz on the Fritz) - Recorded live at Flaneur Productions' Heliotrope Festival in Minneapolis, Live at the Ritz... is nowhere near so elegant and clean as the Ritz, but every bit as shambolic and incredible as the use of the word Ritz twice and the addition of "Fritz" to the title would suggest. Tender Meat Jon Coe and Andy Fritz, with Coe's percussion animating these recordings and Fritz fleshing them out into a jagged skeleton with his digital orchestra, echoing some of the crazed compositions of their co-Minnesotans Skoal Kodiak.

MG21: Camden, Living Image - The solo project of Cole Weiland of Daughters of the Sun, Camden plays blasted synths over tape loops, adding in "his boldest and most crepitative vocalizations yet", which I quote primarily for Moon Glyph's awesome and correct use of the word crepitative, but his second outing under the name is actually very accessible. Although there are plenty of spots where the ear is given over to a shifting warble of noise and tidal drones, these are more "pop" soundscapes than synth; plenty melodic and even Weiland's oblique vocalizations aren't particularly jarring. Certainly one of Moon Glyph's most cohesive albums.

MG23: Ghostband, Verdical - "It's uncertain whether Davis has tapped into a contemporary mania or synthesized a manic – and, at times, maniacal – electronic sound response to the times." (via Moon Glyph) This is actually one of the first Moon Glyph releases I reviewed, more than a year ago back at Get Off the Coast, and I feel pretty good about what I said then: "I'd call Ghostband a working class Daft Punk; half the budget, twice the vision, and at least as danceable." It remains one of my favorite of their tapes, and probably is one of the label's most accessible, thanks to the captivating melodies embedded in Ghostband's shambolic beats.

MG24: Soothsayer, Inflow Illusion - Soothsayer is actually the home for Moon Glyph proprietor Steve Rosborough's solo work. Inflow Illusion, his second outing under the name, is an eleven track collection of calmative synth soundscapes; an extended new age meditation, occasionally pulled back to reveal Rosborough's playful intellectualism and highly refined palette.

MG34: Roy Orb D.M.T., Doctor of Metaphysical Healing - This is another favorite Moon Glyph release for me. In some ways, it feels like one of the most confident assertions of the label's musical aesthetic, less challenging than other albums but ultimately more effective, and the name of the tape is entirely descriptive... synth soundscapes ebb and flow, but the sound is explicitly therapeutic. If you've been looking for something to accompany meditation or promote states of restful awareness, I'd highly recommend it.

All of these cassettes and more can be purchased direct from Moon Glyph.

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