This is a Tipped Bowler Tapes double feature. Tipped Bowler is a mysterious label that I think is based in Texas. That’s all I could really find out and I’m not even sure if that is correct. There is no website or myspace so I sent an email to the contact address inquiring about info for this review and haven’t gotten a response, so far at least. Terribly mysterious, I must say. Though, terribly great as well. TBT 001 is this tape by the Reggaee A.K.A Frenchman Florian Tositti A.K.A. one of the dudes in the, just reviewed, Ghost Brâmes. The Reggaee had a cd-r on Ruralfaune last year and other than that the only other releases I’ve heard about from the project have been self-released, including the pretty sweet Catolistal tape earlier this year. Anywho, this one is called Balthar and it’s got some crazy lizard/balloon popping action crawling all over it. If you pop in the yellow/green sprayed tape your ears are met with a windy loop and various rattling percussives. Moments later, a twinkling keyboard and drunken vocal moans enter the fray. All the loops grind gently against each other, while the addition of more melodic vocal layers and what sounds like some frantic hand percussion comes in for a little while. It’s relatively low in the mix so I can’t be too sure of what is it is exactly but it adds a bit of kinetic impetus to the proceedings. The part I dig the most is the end. Where the rattling and other bells and whistles (which I sort of mean literally) drop out and your left in a puddle of unobstructed, delay pedal drenched vocal loops. But you probably figured out that I love my vocal loops by now.
Flip the tape over to the yellow side, and yr hit with “Balthar 2”. Luminous, droning keyboard and distorted percussive sounds, both human made and mechanically perpetrated, abound, creating a wall of cosmic sound. There is some weird tinkling business going on, that I can’t tell if its chimes or dropping coins into a cymbal or what. The mechanical loops help keep the whole thing buoyant with their constant hypnotic push until the whole thing breaks down into scratchy electronic scramblings. Side A kinda feels like a warm up, prepping you for the more focused heavy floating (confusing, I know) that is to come on the flip. I always knew yellow was my favorite color. This tape is cool but a bit too short for my tastes (though most tapes are), I hope to hear a longer, more fleshed out release by the Reggaee in the future cause it looks to me like Tositti has great things brewing in that brain of his.
TBT 002 comes courtesy of the Pacific Ocean. Mrtyu is led by Anthony Milton (purveyor of the Pseudoarcana imprint and about a billion other musical ventures it seems) and what I assume is a crew of fellow New Zealanders. They had a release on Campbell Kneale’s Battlecruiser label a while back, and if I remember correctly, the idea behind the label is to have various drone/noise/psychedelic dudes make doom/black metal records, which sounds like a great idea to me. Anyhow, Ritual Terra Continuii is the group’s first tape, as far as I know, and pretty much everything about it is first rate. From the tongue in cheek but totally awesome liner notes/poem/font/cover to the tongue in cheek but totally awesome sounds encapsulated within.
The title track, which takes up the blood flecked side A, was “recorded to cassette at Peel Forest in March 2007 during blood ceremonies composed by The Unnamed One and orchestrated by Mrtyu fellowship” so, um, how could you not love it? It’s total metal bewilderment. And whadya know? The sounds on the track are too. Against feedback, human mutterings, rattling of silverware or something, various incidental noises and even some kind of music boxish type thing, there emerges an indecipherable megaphone speech. Then comes the fuzz. Some dude starts riffing a lethargic bassline alongside the Mrtyu fellowship’s cacophony. The bass gathers steam and starts warranting severe slo-mo headbang moves from myself and probably any other sensible person who hears it. Besides some clinking percussion and interjections from the master of blood ceremonies, the bass is just taking over and ruling hard. Then the people in attendance all of a sudden start cheering and shouting and going crazy and probably jamming just hard as I am. Encouraged by the hollers of “WOOOOOOH” the bass slinger starts going nuts with all sorts of heavy improv’d swamp riffage—probably burning holes through his fingertips. The whole thing is just bizarre but oh so sweeeet! I love tapes and all but what I really need is a Mrtyu live DVD, so I can experience this madness with my own peepers. Better yet, a Mrtyu world tour so I can be bathed in sacrificial blood from the front row. Get on that The Unnamed One.
The B-side, “The Marriage of Birth and Death”, was recorded during an initiation rite for Brothers X7 and X8, and leads me to wonder how I could become a Brother X# cause I’d be really good at it I bet. The track starts out with some manipulated feedback and then heavy chugging bass frequencies come out the gate, fuzzed off their collective ass. The bass just goes to it for a while with relentless , off the cuff riffing. Then, of all things, a flute comes in. The bass/flute duel goes on for a little while, and, well, to be frank the flute never stood a chance. Somewhere down the line there is some speaking/howling (probably the initiation rites) that is buried underneath the sludge. And then, oh man, there is a so rad bass breakdown and the flute comes back with a vengeance. The track descends the endless spiral in all its detuned glory until some poor soul howls his brains out and we’re met with the dreaded end click. Please excuse the play-by-plays but I know no other way to really go about describing the tape.
Alright, so Tipped Bowler is only two tapes in so far but they are seriously swinging like the pros already. Great, great music and excellent packaging. My Mrtyu tape case won't even close it's crammed so full, how awesome is that? (answer: very.) Each tape comes nicely sprayed with a two-tone color job, a professionally printed cardstock J-card, and two inserts—each tape comes with a fold out paper titled “The Adventures of Ambrose Jones” which is two columns of stream of conscious ruminations following Ambrose Jones, I guess. It looks like it may be something that comes with every future release as well. I am looking forward to hearing/seeing more from this label, hopefully whoever the head tipped bowler is, he/she will relax the shroud of mystery just a bit.
I have no idea whether these are sold out at source or not. Balthar is an edition of 68 and Ritual Terra Continuii is an edition of 120 (so you should be able to snag a copy, and yr a fool if you don’t). I advise either sending an email to TBT at tippedbowlertapes[at]gmail[dot]com to try and order or hit up the distros, try here. Good luck.