Each tape in the Mugen series features solo live performances from two artists, presented in single takes without overdubs. We make this distinction not to discredit other means of creation, but to identify recording conditions that these diverse sessions share. The eight musicians in the series approach their takes with different instruments in their hands, and structures (or lack thereof) in their brains – and they all produce sounds that might seem too dense to be the output of one human at one moment. But they aren’t really alone. Other brains help out by looping, processing, and layering live input: reactive synthesis, EHX2880 Multi-Track Loopers, auto-harmonizing frequency modulation, Boss RC20s, Line6 DL4s. Though the extent of the performers’ musical “educations” vary, certain masters provide overarching inspiration: Fripp and Eno’s tape loop collaborations, Klaus Schulze’s side-long synth odysseys, Terry Riley’s eternal swirling delay trails circa “Poppy Nogood.” These four tapes begin a series that we plan to continue indefinitely. We’ll add more and more sessions to an already massive canon of tapes showcasing “one-take live drone / noise,” and hope something sticks out.
Stream and download the Mugen Series on Bandcamp.
1st batch, released 7/23/2013
Vol 1. MrDougDoug / Mukqs
Vol 2. TALsounds / greyghost
Vol 3: Sugarm / Ron Tubman
Vol 4: Shingles / Josh Millrod
For more information on the first batch (Vol. 1-4) of Mugen tapes check out this feature published by Tabs Out (July 2013).
2nd batch, released 5/27/2014
Vol 5. Spectrum Control / CarRl
Vol 6. Quicksails / Headboggle
Vol 7: FluxBikes / Quidditas
Vol 8: Witchbeam / Mr. Matthews
For more info about batch # 2 (Vol. 5-8) check out this in-depth Decoder article OR this zany guy from the Tabs Out posse on Ad Hoc.
“Two totally whacked pieces of extended concrete construction. Using sounds from extant records, the two bubs who run this label create some very disturbed suites. The first is an examination of Hebraic traditions I’m still trying to unravel. The flip makes a Japanese instructional [cassette] into a test of humanity on various levels. Totally screwed.” – The Wire (Byron Coley) on Vol. 1
“MrDougDoug and Mukqs opening the batch in Jekyll-Hyde hysteria, though distinctions between the two ended up completely blurred. This duality unfurled like an unwelcome house guest, one who made its presence known well after it settled its belongings in your headspace, soiling the sheets and upending your careful feng shui. At face value, each of the two sounds on that first tape create a witching hour effect, wickedly unsettling but curiously comforting.”” – Decoder on Vol. 1
“Droney keys interspersed with space surges and angelic vocal clusters mark the TALsounds side. Greyghost is more like listening to someone play guitar underwater while submarines chatter in the background” – The Wire (Byron Coley) on Vol. 2
““Skinjob” is a harsh drone looper, using an old record and concentric feedback loops, and constantly sounding on the verge of combustion. Sugarm’s side is in total contrast to the Ron Tubman side, which is languid looping guitar drone, but with a healthy layer of feedback noise underneath. A few lovely atmospheric melodies surface, and there’s some wild synth oscillations during the second half of the piece.” – The Answer is in the Beat on Mugen Vol. 3
“Brooklyn’s premier ex-ska-gone-drone darlings Grasshopper disconnect for a solo-style split. These two gentlemen tackle a loop-based, no edit challenge in a bugs-under-your-skin process. Break out your meditation crystals for this one.” Ad Hoc (Tabs Out: Who Has Tapes Anymore? #1) on Mugen Vol. 4
“Both pieces compliment each other unconditionally, alley-ooping each act into the droning guitar-psych heavens that host residence to Bardo Pond’s Gibbons brothers, Chris Forsyth, and Evan Caminiti.” – Decoder on Vol. 5
” Gedalecia traverses the aural space with an aimless curiosity that flies directly in the face of (what I understood to be) the project’s largely brain-melting persona, and the result is sublime. Billington’s side begins in the anonymous haze but shoots directly at the sun with a wash of fluorescent afterburner.” – Decoder on Vol. 6
“Fluxbikes’ gorgeous ‘Driftless’ is powerfully subtle, taking cues from the La Monte Young and Jim O’Rourke school of minimalism across a gradually shifting synth and guitar drone. Eventually the piece incorporates spare percussion towards the end, closing out with a truly zen coda. Quidditas’ ‘Reawakening’ is far more monstrous, with thunderous drums clattering against a fed-back loop of themselves while static whirrs and hisses in the background. Occasionally there’s a break to allow the massing sound effects and delay processing to mutate in front of us, but the marching percussion tribalism maintains throughout in a wholly different sort of meditation.” – The Quietus (Spools Out – Tape of the Month!) on Vol. 7
“The Witchbeam track is a rough take on his recent blasters: cryptic sputters being crushed by damaged oscillators. Overwhelming buildups of managed feedback and looped vocal sampling crashing and decay in haunting displays. Mr. M straight blazes three prodigious tracks on his side. The first, a parade static rythms and beats held together with silly putty, playing like a NIN bootleg tape left on the dashboard over the summer. The second a treat of wet-ponytail leads and solar drips floating in and out of melody. He concludes with some batshit patterns for little green men to pop and lock to. You’ll need electrolytes and/or a cat nap after this sesh, so go into it boy scout style.” – Ad Hoc (Who Has Tapes Anymore?) on Vol. 8