“Vol. 1” C130
(Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records)

Surbiton-based electronic clusterbones label Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records doesn’t really have a house band. Which is almost too bad, because if they did, maybe it would be Reggie Watts and a keyboard, or the Roots, or G. E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band. Scratch that – G. E. Smith is the only right answer. He is the king of guitar solo faces.

What’s weird, then, is that this release is credited to the nonexistent label “house band.” But don’t let it throw you! There’s explanation available. It’s actually the “codename for an ongoing project” whereby the label honchos curate releases based on collaboration between their artists. Let me break it down further: because most of the artists are one-person electronic/ambient/improv/drone/experimental/whatever acts, it’s easy for them to widely collaborate without being in the same room together. (Because who would want that anyway? Bedroom artists smell funny.) So they work together via the magic of internet connection, and barely worry about how the whole Brexit vote will affect their work.

Vol. 1 simplifies things even further – it’s a remix project. Artists tackled from the Blue Tapes stable include Laurent Chambert, Kurosounds, Katie Gately, EyeSea, Plains Druid, Tashi Dorji, Threes and Will & Huerequeque, Henry Plotnick, Father Murphy (NOT Father John Murphy), Map 71, and Pour Le Plaisir. Here’s a list of the freaking remixers, and remember, this is a C130 on a single tape, twenty-one tracks in all:

Matt Collins (blue one)
Hitoshi Asaumi (Leedian; blue two)
Teruyuki Kurihara (Cherry; blue three)
Laurent Chambert (blue four)
Robin Wilks (Bobby Whirlwind; blue six)
Andy Pyne (Kellar/Map 71; blues six and sixteen)
Alex Photaki (Kurosounds; blue seven)
Katie Gately (blue eight)
Joe Houpert (Prayer/We Are Bright & Broken; blue book one)
EyeSea (blue ten)
Jon McIntosh (Plains Druid; blue eleven)
Tashi Dorji (blue twelve)
Threes and Will (blue thirteen)
Huerequeque (blue thirteen)
Henry Plotnick (blue fourteen)
Rev. Freddie (Father Murphy; blue fifteen)
C. Lee (Father Murphy; blue fifteen)
Lisa Jayne (Map 71; blue sixteen)
Patrick G (Pour Le Plaisir; x-ray two)
Benjamin Finger (x-ray three)
Shaman B (sonic blue three)

I’m not familiar with a lot of these folks, but that’s not going to stop me from digging deep into the archives. Why? This tape is chock full of every conceivable experimental flourish; it’s a wonderland of discovery waiting for the avid listener. I was particularly enthralled by Matt Collins’s EyeSea remixes, as it often sounds like he’s looping dry heaves as a compositional building block. Andy Pyne’s Tashi Dorji remix is a jazz improv delicacy. And Benjamin Finger, no stranger to these ears, absolutely delights on his low-key electronic remixes of Tashi Dorji, Henry Plotnick, Father Murphy, and Map 71. So do yourself a favor and spend two hours digging into new things – you’ll thank me when you come out the other side a changed, better person. G. E. Smith would approve with a wanky face.

--Ryan Masteller