Nautical thoughts come to mind as I listen to Breakers/Peelers, the 2016 cassette release by Tandem Cascades, a solo drone/noise project of Philadelphia's Marc Zajack. Side A is a three-part composition called Breakers, and Side B is a four-parter, Peelers.
Breakers is the less maritime of the two, evoking for me echoes of the empty room, the aperture of the cassette machine it sounds like it was recorded on, and the diaphragm of the transducer. "Fidelity" is foregrounded, and the sound is faithful to its own transduction through my playback apparatus on large speakers in my living room. The noise floor becomes a warm, comfortable noise bed, soft moss through which the pieces stroll comfortably. Three short parts lock together in maze logic: "Breakers I" gives us a warm chord drone with unmoored electro pulse that slides throughout; "Breakers II" is a percussive scrabble followed by a long decay bong; and "Breakers III" unites the percussive and tonal in a rolling piano stride.
Peelers takes us out of the forest onto the waves. The warm drone and groovy pulse of "Breakers I" is transformed, in "Peelers I", to a world of harsh tone drone with percussion sounds that chop erratically. In "Peelers II" we are briefly submerged, glimpsing the throb below the surface. "Peelers III" brings us back on board, a lonely ship's bell punctuating the macro smooth of ocean surface over chaotic system of the deep. Evolution into a drunken forever nighttime sea shanty in the cabin happens, ending quickly. "Peelers IV" - pretty sure we sunk. That is underwater murk.
I can't figure out how the pretty rainbow crayon art relates to the music. Blocks are well delineated and organized by chaotic logic, with emphasis placed on the central non-block figure, the only curve in sight, suggesting a vulva.
Throughout, there is a logic of duality, of oil and water: the construction relies on the relationship between drone/tone and pulse/chop. "Breakers I" presents the clearest juxtaposition of the two elements; "Breakers II" separates them completely, and "Breakers III" unites them. Long and short, odd and even parts of Peelers are above and under the water: our eternal lives in the air seeming longer to us but the real eternity beneath only portrayed in the short amount of time our living consciousness can perceive it.
Find them at Breakers/Peelers, by Tandem Cascades