A unique cooperation with Mat Smith’s Mortality Tables imprint and outsider electronic artist Xqui in context of the now ending cassingle series.
Concept Notes by Mat Smith:
“On March 19th 2020, the company I worked for asked me to work from home with immediate effect. The initial expectation was that this would last no more than two weeks.
Initially, it was novel and liberating: I’d been used to commuting fifty miles to London for nearly twenty years, usually in a suit and tie. In the first days of what became known as ‘lockdown’, we were still very much operating in a world of audio conference calls, and rarely ever used video. That meant I could wear whatever I wanted, and didn’t need to conform to any sort of corporate uniform. I decided it was the perfect opportunity to work my way through my entire t-shirt collection, in the order that they were stacked on the shelf in my wardrobe.
At first, I thought it would be fun to maintain a list of all these t-shirts, in the order that I wore them, and that ongoing list became one of the earliest Mortality Tables Products. It was also a way of measuring an uncertain time – to see how many I could wear before lockdown ended. I figured I’d make it to fourteen, maybe twenty. Instead I worked my way through all 55 t-shirts that I owned at that time, at least twice, and possibly three times. What started out as something fun became a necessary ritual – something methodical and predictable in a world where all certainties had been upended; something I could control. I also recognise that it was a portent of a mental breakdown that I would experience several months later.
As the Mortality Tables project moved from a purely conceptual idea to a more visible state, the idea of collaborating with the superpolar Taïps cassette label emerged. Various potential Products from the Mortality Tables Catalogue were discussed, progressed and discounted, before we finally agreed upon ‘All The T-Shirts I Wore In Lockdown’ as part of their much-loved cassette single release programme. The intentionally serious whimsicality of this Mortality Tables Product was felt to be a logical complement to the overall aesthetic of the series.
The superpolar Taïps cassette single series has included releases from. Hualun, Whettman Chelmets, Chorchill and Adderall Canyonly since it began in 2020. superpolar Taïps have chosen ‘All The T-Shirts I Wore In Lockdown’ to become the 35th and final release in the series.
The narrated list was recorded in June 2023 in the bathroom of the Premier Inn Hub in Shoreditch, London. The list was then re-recorded at my home in Woburn Sands, in the room that I worked from in the initial stages of lockdown, in July 2023. The narration was then handed to anonymous outsider electronic artist Xqui, a regular Mortality Tables collaborator, to develop a sonic response to accompany the narration. His response was completed in July 2023. An instrumental version (‘No Shirts’) was created for the B-side of the cassette.
The concept for the cassette sleeve was developed by Mortality Tables design collaborator Neil Coe (Carta Design). His design uses the illustration of a ubiquitous I Heart NY t-shirt by Jason Laurits (Paste, New York), which Laurits then printed onto an otherwise plain white t-shirt. I bought one of these t-shirts from the Paste store in Chelsea Market, NY in 2018. My t-shirt appears as number eight in the narrated list.”
“The ‘Hymns’ album is very cool. The atmospheric effects are perfect.” – Vince Clarke.
“A carefully constructed, intelligent and mature work from a musician very much in control of his art… This is full blown hauntology.” – We Are Cult
“Pausing any of these tracks to attend to other things was like breaking a spell.” – Fortitude Magazine “As good as Basinski, and neck and neck with the degenerative sounds of Eno’s best.” – TQ
“In an effort to circumvent our unalterable mortality, we create. We make SOUNDS, ART, WORDS. These things are our INSURANCE against death.”
– Mortality Tables, On Mortality, Immortality & Charles Ives (2022)
E Peritia Ratio: reason from experience.
Nothing happens without context. Every event has a catalyst. There is no such thing as a blank page.
So it goes that each Mortality Tables Product must begin with an outline of an initial creative concept – a thought; a notion; a moment of serious whimsy; a considered reflection on life, memory, love, loss, trauma, death.
We document those ideas, then invite collaborators to respond freely to them.
They may ignore us. They may say no. They may say yes. Whoever we invite to participate shall be unencumbered by restriction, constraint, expectation, convention, limit or judgement.
There are never any right or wrong answers, because there are no questions. There is nothing more than the idea and the response.
ABOUT SUPERPOLAR TAÏPS superpolar Taïps is a small cassette and net label focusing on experimental pop music released on limited edition albums, EPs and singles. It is run by independent artist bleed Air and based in Cologne.
Its roster comprises artists from all over the world, spawning from continental Europe to the UK, US and further towards Asia.
In addition to the cassette single series, releases such as the albums by Guido Möbius, five Bubble criteria and Modelbau received decent attention from acclaimed music media.
… or buy directly for 10€ + shipping 2.35€ (Germany), 4.50€ (Europe) or 5:00 (worldwide).
“The music is both atmospheric and aggressive, although the bleeping strikes me as more ambient than kosmische. Either way, a cool tape.” Byron Coley in The Wire 475, September 2023
“If a tape loops infinitely, where does it start and end?
A new split cassette from anonymous electronic artist and bassist bleed Air and Shenzhen legends Hualun ruminates quietly on that enquiry. The beginnings and conclusions are not clear. There is an A-side and a B-side, one by bleed Air and one by Hualun, but the labels glued to each side of the cassette shell might as well be interchangeable. (…)
These two sides are, then, inextricably and umbilically linked. They both occupy a contemporary vantage point overlooking some of 1970s German electronic music’s finest moments, completely in tune with the sonic adventuring that the likes of Conrad Schnitzler and a select pioneering few bravely undertook.” (…) Mat Smith, Further. <- read the full review)
“Cologne/LA cassette label superpolar Taïps released the wonderful ‘Fleeced of their Wares’ by moduS ponY who sounds like a wibbly, very minimal Lambchop… with no singing.”
— Neil Mason, Moonbuilding Mag, Issue Four, 2023
“There’s this shed out in the desert. They keep breaking in and taking stuff. Every time I try to secure the door, they find some way in. None of it is mine anyway, which is probably why I gave up after the third robbery. It’s funny though, the things I think are worth something they tend to leave: some old records, 16 track reel to reel tape, some flood lights, a wheelbarrow, a glass head, a book about how George Bush lied a lot. Every time I peruse its contents, I find some quirky thing in there. Maybe that’s what the thieves like about it too. To tell the truth, I don’t really know what they’ve stolen because I’ve never taken a thorough inventory. It’s better that way. Maybe it’s something I would have wanted, but I’m not going to miss it.“
Tuesday, 23 May 2023, 16:00-18:00 CEST, Dirk Specht (Therapeutische Hörgruppe, Miniklon) and Georg Dietzler (artist, curator, gerngesehen.de) welcomed bleed Air, i.e., well … me, the guy who runs the superpolar Taïps label and also produces music as bleed Air, to FUNKT Sessions on Cologne, Germany’s 674.fm for a two hour live broadcast.
As part of the programme announcement, Georg wrote:
“Experimental pop music on cassettes” – superpolar Taïps is a micro-label, non-commercial, not-for-profit, with a preference for unusual, rarely heard music on cassettes which don’t have much relevance in the mainstream but are becoming increasingly popular in independent and experimental music scenes.
Limited edition cassettes, albums, EPs and – a special format – so-called ‘cassingles’, indeed cassette singles, within the framework of a series that will culminate in a compilation in 2024, have been and are still being released.
Perkins and Federwisch are an electronic pop duo inspired by other electronic pop duos, such as Modern Talking and Captain & Tennille. After a brief foray into educational audio systems, on their third studio album the pair return to entertainment music, specifically sentimental ballads and pop standards. While working within the formalized structures of the Euskirchen Avant-Schlager Scene, the seven songs cover a range of themes including aggrievement, remembering things that happened in the past, and remaining sensible in a world that doesn’t make sense. So dim the lights, pour yourself a chilled glass of dessert wine, double check that you turned off the oven, and let Chip and Uli entertain you with something known as music!
Multidisciplinary artist Andreas Gogol first caught our attention with his stunning vocal performances on Guido Möbius‘s album ‘Gebirge’ (Karaoke Kalk, 2009), even if he had been present in the experimental music scene way longer, for example with his album ‘Gorymaaz’, released on A-Musik in 2005.
On this cassette single, Gogol appears under the YOCKO O.NE feat. prinz-ip moniker, offering two quite diverse tracks:
On O.H.E. [action], Gogol takes his funky, dadaesque vocals one step further by bending time and space and chopping things up while it seems as if at the same time a weird entertainer looses control over his organ and its rhythm machine. A feast for the ears.
R.I.FF. [minox], on the other hand, points more to the other facet of agogol: That of the experimental filmmaker, who here perhaps contributes part of a soundtrack to a neo-noir style film he has not yet released. Supposedly you never heard an accordion that dark.
five Bubble criteria (fBc) is a bleed Air side project. A mix of experimental rock, spoken word, sparse electronics, tape effects. Lo-Fi.
“Five Bubble criteria deal in a kind of dissolving fantasy Americana built on twanging guitar lines that melt into broken AM radio white noise chatter. On “Reservoir”, the addition of a spoken narrative by Chip Perkins moves the sound away from abstract, doomy ambience towards denatured horror commentary, like a video game that has swapped the living dead for the citizens of Twin Peaks. As the record closes, its style changes again, “Vays-Rays” concocting a wobbly jangle that sounds a bit like if Nouvelle Vague had covered the Smashing Pumpkins. If it’s completely odd, it’s also completely brilliant.”
(Spenser Tomson in The Wire, November 2022)
“The bleed Air side project takes on a Labradfordian-mindset of tape splicing and spoken word cacophonies; transient noise bursts & out of body hilarity ensues.”
Time as physical quantity, the nature of time as defined by general relativity, the resulting model of spacetime (German: Raumzeit) and ripples therein caused by gravitational waves. Time dilation, time offset, time measurement. Present, future, past.
An attempt to approach the complex subject of time and spacetime sonically, using devices that allow time manipulation (somewhat): Analogue tape recorders, effect pedals with ‘time’ knobs.
All instruments were recorded to and with (mostly half broken) tape machines on looped reel to reel or endless cassette tapes. On some tracks, these machines were also used as tape echos, mostly by exploiting their saturation, warm overdrive and noise capabilities.
Instruments and sound sources and tools used: Field recordings (Star City Tserkov’ Spasa Preobrazheniya church bells; Mbira, Kalimba, Acoustic Guitar, electric bass guitar, cello bows, human voice, found reel to reel audio that came with used tape recorders I bought), synthesizers.
In a way, this album concludes, albeit in a somewhat noisier, abstract and sometimes deafening way, what I started with the ‘Ogehiko/Yahiko’ cassingle.
‘Ihre Meinung ist uns wichtig‘ is the artist’s debut under his Stichflamme Dormagen moniker and, in Vital Weekly’s words, “a most curious piece of voices, chanting exotically, along with wooden drum percussion and line hum for electronic component (…)” as well as “urgency and weirdness at work.” (www.vitalweekly.net/1294.html)
Stichflamme Dormagen is the mischievous incarnation of Rudi Baumgärtner, a music producer born and raised in the city of Remagen, in western Germany.
Not much is known about Baumgärtner except his attempts to self-publish criminal stories under the moniker Sulke Diebler and his deep mistrust of public transport.
In 2006 he took part in a macramé class. Baumgärtner makes his living from soundtracks for local adult film productions. He spends his free time in his little garden in the Remagen suburbs, where he breeds rare slug species.
— THE CASSINGLE SERIES —
30+ Artists. 30+ cassette singles with an intentional, conceptual limitation of under 3 mins per track, exclusive B-sides. Individual artworks. Merely 10 hand-dubbed copies per tape will go on sale. Eventually, all tracks will be released on a compilation, planned for late 2021. That’s the SPT Cassingle series in a nutshell
“‘Carapace’ and ‘Oneiric Amplitude’ (Side B, bonus track) are tracks composed entirely from my voice. Here, I’m exploring themes of the subconscious, namely the dream state and its ability to communicate vital shifts within our healing before our conscious mind becomes aware of them”, says Megan Mitchell.
She composes unsettling, ethereal music under the alias Cruel Diagonals. A jazz and classically trained vocalist, Mitchell performs and creates in numerous capacities.
Cruel Diagonals is an outlet for destructive sample processing, vocal exploration, and a palette for inter-media contemplations and applications. Influenced by early experimental filmmakers such as Maya Deren and Kenneth Anger, Cruel Diagonals has been described in cinematic terms, evoking moods and montages of an eerie, surrealist timbre. Warped field recordings and layered vocals incite a beckoning to a phantasmagorical, metallic-tinged state of existence.
The Master Musicians of Dyffryn Moor are a ragtag band of percussionists from a parallel Wales where rituals and folklore dominate contemporary life.
The “Blessing of the Hand-Sanitizer” ritual gives thanks for the anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties of this in-demand substance, and aims to ensure its plentiful supply. The ceremony documented here took place in Llangollen, and was led by local elder Carnedd Aur.
The “Blessing of the Spam Filters” ritual gives thanks for protection against unwanted pharmaceutical offers and banking scams. Timing of the ritual is crucial, and 2:30 is generally believed to be the optimal length. Less than this, and the filters are feared to become ineffective. Longer rituals, on the other hand, are thought to lead to an increasing number of false positives.
35 Artists. 35 cassette singles. Exclusive B-sides. Individual artwork. A limited number of hand-dubbed copies per tape and artist. Eventually, all tracks will be released on a compilation (digital/cassette), planned for sometime in 2024. That’s the SPT Cassingle series in a nutshell.
Contributing artists: Orca, Attack! (Elizabeth Joan Kelly & David Rodriguez), Cruel Diagonals, moduS ponY, Nicholas Langley, Emerging Industries of Wuppertal, Phirnis, Whettman Chelmets, Aros E-V, Carlos Perea Milla aka Melquiades, qualchan., German Army, Stichflamme Dormagen, bleed Air, Ball Geographie, Leaaves, Francesco Ameglio/I Was Listening To Tapes In Tokyo, Tiger Village, The Master Musicians of Dyffryn Moor, Harald Sack Ziegler, Daniel Saylor, Adderall Canyonly, Jamie Orlando/Zigra, The Tuesday Night Machines, Robin Barnick, Therapeutische Hoergruppe, QST, Von Heuser, Chorchill, Cinchel, Hualun, Ffion, Letters from Mouse, Goodparley, YOCKO O.NE feat. prinz-ip aka A Gogol, Xqui.
Further details on individual releases and artists on Bandcamp or here.
bleed Air’s debut full-length is a mix tape blending dark ambient, playful electronica as well as experimental beat and drone.
A journey into warm, analogue noise, echo and soundscapes, sometimes resembling a soundtrack for a yet to be filmed low budget sci-fi movie. When Robot choirs start singing or broken analogue circuits and filters start doing what they want, it can get wacky, but we think it always remains pleasant to listen. Mostly analogue electronic gear, often of the cheaper and not exactly hip kind, and tape effects were used.
It is recommended to listen to each side of the album in one piece.
bleed Air lives in Cologne, runs this label, loves his Omnichord OM-27 and his tape echo too.
Many references and elements come to mind when trying to describe Ball Geographie’s music: From Chamber Pop to Disco. From Lo-fi to High-End. Found sound referencing the likes of Studio Braun. Fully conscious use of presets, but only when they make full sense. Beats. No improvisation, everything is always structured to the maximum. 80ies vibes, folky guitars, timelessness …. It is electronic, and acoustic.
Ball Geographie lives, works and produces his music in Cologne, Germany. He loves his Boss DR-550 and its HiQ sound. Kalimbas, musical toys and Dictaphones too.