I’ve watched from afar as my colleagues at Tabs Out did a little retrospective/spotlight on Tingo Tongo Tapes, the Oakland-based label blasting cassette recordings out at us unsuspectingly like human waste from the shitting cartoon ghost man NBA logo on the K^aren “NoT BaLD” tape. (And yes, I admit, that was me. I hated that tape.)

But that’s the thing about Tingo Tongo (or any label, really): you hate one thing, you get down with another. So yeah, get down with the Tingo Tongo vibe. There’s so much weird magic on their side of the bay that it seeps into the water table and the drinking water reservoirs and contaminates the holy living crap out of whatever music emanates therefrom. (There it is again – “holy living crap.” I can’t get away from the ghost man.) I’ve got some physical artifacts that are actual proof of whatever point it is I’m trying to make. 


You never know what’s title and what’s artist with these guys, and a perusal of the Bandcamp page (Mike Meanstreetz’s Bandcamp page, one of the TT showrunners; but not Tingo Tongo’s of course) only confounds the matter. I’m going with CMMZMMMG \\ Electronic Quartet as the artist because I’ve written about them before. Nope, still confusing. Anyhoo, did you ask for this? This tape I mean. No, you didn’t but CMMZMMMG, etc., delivered big time, the quartet melding minds over two inscrutable sides of murky atmosphere. On this version of “Whereas,” or whatever, Cameron MacNair, Mike Meanstreetz, Mike Glover, and Maneesh Madahar (the titular CMMZMMMG, ish) mutilate their instruments in a sort-of séance environment, mixing in static and noise for an ungodly but tempered racket. This is Tingo Tongo at its most controlled. Probably.


Things get really confusing here, because Whereas was also a name in the release above, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Whereas’s side is “Live at Acerogami,” a free-form freakout of psychotic instrumental noise rock that would fit equally as well on AmRep as on Astral Spirits. To say this is my favorite seventeen minutes of the Tingo Tongo catalog thus far wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world. It’s pretty great. Devin Nolan adds his own seventeen minutes on the B-side with “Hedgehog Blues,” which oscillates back and forth between what sounds like field-recorded banjo music, and then that same banjo music run through an industrial magnet, slowed down and distorted beyond recognition. The transitions are fabulous, the noise is glorious, and this whole thing might have hopped to the top of my repeat queue.


God love em, or it, Bonus Beast forgot that we’re not ACTUALLY living inside a video game and made a tense song cycle to what it’s like to probably live inside one. Harsh beats collide with “melodies” straight from the ColecoVision soundcard collection. It’s sort of like Trent Reznor left the studio lights on back in 1989 and a pack of sentient cartoon weasels came in and cut a record. With LOTS of laser and static effects. I don’t know what to do, these tapes just keep getting better and better as I go. I’m totally atoning for the K^aren review.


Oh fucking Christ, there’s a hair in this one. Gross. I won’t let that ruin my experience of TendHer’s “Dream,” though, I promise. In fact, by the end of it, I’ll probably forget it was even there in the first place. That’s because “Dream” is 90 minutes long, two thick sides of gently shifting soundscape that I’m pretty sure are meant to keep me company through a fever dream, but they might actually be the CAUSE of said fever dream. Either way, this ambient stuff is way more tactile than it ought to be, and I’m not sure if my hands feel grimy because TendHer’s in my head or if I’ve been smearing them in wet sand as I listen. Maybe it’s the hair. Dammit, I haven’t forgotten.


For all your Tingo Tongo needs head to their super sparse Bandcamp page, or check out their much more expansive Soundcloud. All you have to do to order tapes is email em.

--Ryan Masteller