Thursday, March 19, 2020
I’m not entirely sure how I came to be aware of Grotesque Circular Dance, but it’s proven to be one of the weirder / more interesting stories to result from the label.
I do know that I came across some videos of the experimental synth duo from Newcastle (my hometown) playing live at the local university in the early 80’s and needed to know more. Long story short, I was able to contact one of the parties responsible, Colum, and to have some dialogue with him about the band he shared with other member, ‘Bo’. I learned that they had never released anything while they existed, but that some recordings had been made and stored away. I somehow also later found out that Colum had attended the same high school and art school as my dad in Newcastle.
Not surprisingly, GCD and their other satellite groups, Ghosty & The Skeletons and Two Village Dinosaurs, were not especially well-received by Newcastle audiences at the time of their birth. It is something of a feat they were able to even access synths at the time, let alone master them, create excellent songs and torture the residents of Newcastle live. These recordings have aged remarkably well. Not only are they examples of perfectly executed minimal-wave / synth-pop songs, they are delivered with an inimitably Novocastrian sense of humour and absurdity. If there is any single release to be considered the legacy and convergence of paths I’ve tried to achieve through AST, I feel like this is it.
Limited release, includes booklet of archival photos, flyers and liner notes.
Troth (rhymes with oath) is a Newcastle-based duo comprising Amelia Besseny and Cooper Bowman. Nothing Still In The Stone Garden are the first considered recordings made together, although we have released two tapes (recorded later) via Moontown and Essential Minerals and a limited release of live recordings on AST since.
NSITSG was an installation in a Newcastle gallery in September 2019 featuring a video work by Greg Perano and a sound component made up of reel-to-reel and hand-cut cassette loops. We played our first show inside the loops for the event’s opening, a rehearsal of which makes up the A-side (we failed to record the set itself). The B-side is a collage of interventions made occasionally in the gallery during the exhibition’s duration. We have moved into increasingly more structured modes since these recordings (we have actual ‘songs’ now!), but have continued reflecting on the same themes of flux, chaos and beauty found in natural environments first touched on here.
After a debut cassette on Berlin’s Total Black last year, Tsap come crawling over to Altered States for their first sitting in its wonked halls. Tsap is a Sydney / Newcastle duo made up of Chris Colla and Cooper Bowman.
EAT was originally conceived as an ambient / longform listen based around some late night jams we had and loosely themed on an ascetic Buddhist practice of self-immolation. While the liminal tracks, titled Lacq I-IV, underpin the release, there are other distractions along the ascent. The Saint Of Rice Excrement vaguely calls to mind two of our great loves, Robert Turman and Nick Blinko, in one of the stranger compatibility-matches imaginable. Chant Reduction continues the chaotic, mutated house of our first tape and Crumbling Stupa features an eviscerated beat along with someone warbling as if they heard Scott Walker, took peyote and were left to their own (unplugged) devices in the mountains.
Expect the first Tsap LP, Flickering Lyghte In Campsite, later in the year sometime. At the very least, it makes more sense than Eating A Tree.
Completely improvised, loose spiral jams from the AST house band. No names given (or required), just an open pair of ears needed to enjoy.
Two songs by Newcastle duo, Troth, made up of Amelia Besseny and Cooper Bowman. Both take song-based structures and mulch them, sculpt them, into new forms. ‘Garland And Gauze’ does so via a densely layered hallucination of Besseny’s ethereal vocals drifting at the forefront of piano, drum machine, guitar and other wired implements. ‘On The Door’ is centred on a rudimentary harp and bass drum loop, with an actual dream recounted over the top by Bowman and some other clues sprinkled around.
Some “FFO” touchstones could include The Shadow Ring, Julee Cruise, This Mortal Coil and/or Gareth Williams & Mary Currie.
Locally produced and hand-assembled 7", limited to 50 copies.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Ivory Whips first show. Loose spirals from malleable collective associated with the Altered States Tapes school of thought.
Tape coming shortly.
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
To celebrate ten years of operation as a label (and also doing its best to support underground electronic music in Australia more generally), Altered States Tapes welcomes you to join some friends who have been involved over the past decade.
There will be further shows in Melbourne and Sydney later in the year with details announced soon.
Marrickville Golf Club
The Lock-Up Gallery
Sunday, January 12, 2020
Friday, December 20, 2019
Out the back of the Hamo, where you would otherwise find me, Mycle and the guy who sits on his phone watching the horse racing on Free Pool Mondays.
2020 marks ten years of Altered States Tapes. Will be doing some shows in the usual zones to celebrate, more info as it eventuates.
Thursday, December 19, 2019
Ying-Li's excellent Untitled tape has been given a shoutout by Aussie legends Jonine Standish and CS + Kreme on their EOTY lists for Boomkat. A handful copies of the final run of her tapes still available via bandcamp.
CS + Kreme's selections
CS + Kreme's selections
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Live recordings from Brisbane and Newcastle shows.
Released in an addition of 15 copies for a performance at The Yurt in East Brunswick, December 2019 w/ Th Duo, Thomas Hardisty and Ava.
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Thursday, October 31, 2019
New Altered States Tapes Available: Antonio / YL Hooi / Nape / Simon J Karis / Rinpoche + Yuta Matsumura.
Antonio Barbetta of Italy has been maintaining an active streak of high-octane electro and rawer cuts more recently via his Raw Ambassador project (on Mannequin Records, amongst others). Here he appears under his own name delivering unrelenting shots in the arm of slippery synths and glistening percussion. A long-playing one for when you need that bump for the long-haul, white-knuckle ride.
I really couldn’t be more proud to deliver this, the untitled debut release from Melbourne’s YL Hooi. Ying-Li's work gives subtle nods to various liminal genres: basslines that could have been snatched from 80’s UK, the deepness of dub’s most welcoming sinkholes and a thorough smearing of experimental composition congealing it together as a whole. These elements all combine to make a release that is unlike anything I’ve heard recently and has been on a regular loop since it was first sent to me. Hooi has contributed to various configurations for the last several years, most notably with Tarquin Manek (who aids in production here). Although many of these previous incarnations resulted in similar affects, I can’t help but feel that the disparate influences perfectly converge here in a tape that warrants repeated listens, revealing obscured subtleties with each unspooling.
Withdrawn Interest is another of this batch’s three debut releases, this time from the UK’s Severin Black (a real / great name). Due to the massive delays this batch has endured, this will be closely released with his follow-up recordings on UK imprint (and AST pals), Beat Concern. Sev has been a solid bridge between the Australian and UK electronic underground, as the dome behind the Archaic Vaults mix series, his own distribution channels and generally maintaining a close eye on our activities down under. A lazy turn-of-phrase would lead me to describe these tracks as “warehouse industrial” or some such, but I rarely have the desire to go to warehouses unless they’re abandoned and devoid of people so it’d be disingenuous to pretend that I know what I’m talking about. Regardless, the four tracks here are unrelentingly caustic, giving little space for reprieve even in cavernous rooms. Sev has obviously studied the three C’s: Container, Collector and chaos.
Simon Karis is many things; tape label honcho, chinotto aficionado and my former employer among them. His own music veers off into various strains of refined electronics. To be honest, most any music that situates itself too far in the slick, digital realm (what I like to call ‘post-internet bullshit’) is not usually something I’m interested in. But SJK holds it down with a purity of single-mindedness with which he approaches his craft, a trait I often find lacking in others plopped comfortably prone on the PIB stool. There are arps dugs deep from dusted 16-bit cartridges and bass that'll make your guts squirm like you ate a plate from a dubious bain marie, moments of serenity and others of palpable trepidation. Plus, the release is called Parsley and has a track called ‘Pre-Cum Seizure’ (attached below), so you know he’s onto something here…
One of the best things about running this label has been making contact with like-minded folk from around the world completely organically, as is this case with this LA-based duo. I’ll spare you the long-winded backstory, Rinpoche were a revelation when they found me (and I them). On Heruka Songs, you will find excellently executed industrial techno/ambience filled with heaving unease and an occasional ear for floors, but without any of the usual, associated bleak imagery. HS sees Rinpoche branch further from the strictly electronic palette found on their (throroughly under-appreciated) past 12”s on the self-run Tears Of Joy imprint, here they also utilise sampled and processed live percussion to great effect.
When he’s not reinventing Sydney hardcore by using a flange pedal in Oily Boys, climbing the charts as the mouthpiece of Orion or spreading the good word behind one of the guitars in Low Life, Matsumura also finds himself making slamming ear-canal cavers like these four offerings. As with most of my favourite contemporary Australian electronic music (for example, his bandmate Dizzy’s WRX project), Matsumura’s background in punk / hardcore results in a compelling, bullshit-free approach to production not apparent in some of the other cul de sacs comprising Australia’s bloated techno neighbourhood.