Time Life is a project I’d been wanting to hear for a while and I finally got a hold of this one-sided c70 from the Meudiademorte label in Germany. The duo can be seen as a pared down version of Vanishing Voice, featuring members Heidi Diehl on guitar and vocals and G. Lucas Crane (also of Non-Horse) doing whatever he does with tapes. While, I’ve never been too big on the VV, something about the guitar/tapes combo intrigued me.
Crane and Diehl cover a lot of ground in their thirty-odd minutes. The tape begins solemnly, with a dark but airy repeating guitar figure. Strange, trembling sounds cascade in and out, which can only be the work of Crane. It’s a sparse arrangement but the atmosphere is thick. There is a counter melody on something that sounds like an unamplified electric guitar, which works really well against the round, electric tone of the main figure. The guitar fades a bit as a cassette cacophony takes its place, weird bits of delayed sound scrambling and brushing up against each other. The guitar comes back in a much more minimal mode as Diehl takes the mic, providing Grouper-esque vocals over a shuffling bed of tape loops. That, at first, sounds passively discordant but begins to sound more complete as it develops. It actually, strangely, reminds me of Portishead. Not in any sort of trip hoppy way, but it features a plaintive female voice drifting over a rustling of samples. Anyhow, the duo keep pushing forward, moving into more tripped out territory. An abstractly lush bit of guitar/tape interplay, which is eschewed much too quickly for my tastes. There is a brilliantly haunting part where a heavily reverbed guitar looms, sounding like thunder, as Crane casts almost dissonant violin type tones with his tapes. The fog drops, leaving Diehl’s lamenting voice almost completely unaccompanied, as a Skaters-esque loop of vocal or a tape or something drifts in the background, nearly duet-ing with Diehl. More tape noises and feedback pile on that loop, and Diehl begins improvised, wordless intonations. The repetitious cacophony gets to sounding ritualistic except for sharp quick blasts of noise occasionally exploding. When that bit runs it’s course there is a nice comedown with a soft, ambient loop of keyboard type sounds—though it may just be voice—and more cut up tape squelch. I am often extra critical of really long tracks, but Double Blackberry is an excellent example of when everything is done right. There is so much ground and sonic variation covered that it never feels long or dull; at the same time though, it doesn’t feel like a bunch of separate pieces smashed together, each point the duo hit upon is smoothly transitioned to and from. It as effortlessly assembled piece. It also sounds like the piece was probably recorded (and improvised?) live too, with no overdubbing that I can ascertain, which makes the piece all the more incredible. I’m hoping Time Life is becoming a regular thing, because this tape is the best stuff I’ve heard from both parties involved. It seems like I may get my wish as the duo has new/upcoming releases on Arbor, Blackest Rainbow, Not Not Fun and I imagine other labels as well.
This tape is still available from Meudiademorte, I’m not sure but I bet it’s limited with few copies remaining. It comes with a paint splattered label on a black tape, with a red sparkly 4x6 “folder” with involved, nearly invisible artwork printed on it and in a zippered plastic bag.