Surveying experimental Georgia on tapeFriday January 26, 2018 10:25 am EST
When Null Zone last checked in, the Athens-based outsider imprint issued two tapes featuring a range of sounds from Carey (Daniel Bailey of Faun and a Pan Flute), German sound artist Philipp Bückle, and label owner Michael Potter. Each tape highlighted Null Zone’s wide-eyed and wayfaring take on challenging sounds from all over the globe, while keeping a grasp on the label’s Georgia roots. As Potter explains, “Even though I’ve been branching out to folks around the country, and world, I want to remain dedicated to releasing local weirdness.”
Now, the label kicks off 2018 by tilling local soil for two new gems of experimental music.
First up, Robby Hayes Kee’s Someone Is Very Interested in Your Life finds the former Eyedrum board member, Invent Room Pop curator, and all-around cornerstone of Atlanta’s noise, drone, and experimental music scenes issuing his most sincere and personal work to date. “My main goal was to frame and share the emotional impact of hearing my life at such a removed time, that combination of strangeness and intimacy. Correcting my own memories, reforming them by spending time with these recordings,” he adds, “I was more interested in tape as this physical object that held my only connection to a dead and gone part of my life than as a medium for manipulation.”
The result is nearly a half-hour of compelling non-music — found audio, field recordings, and subtle tape manipulation — taking shape as a form of lo-fi musique concrète.
“I Loathe Work, And I Love Interruptions” offers a mishmash of sound captured in a variety of anonymous situations and settings. Seemingly recorded onto a microphone stuffed into a pocket, the piece follows mumbled conversations in multiple scenarios and it’s almost impossible to understand exactly what’s going on.
The first portion could be a recording of a stroll through a junkyard, auto shop, or Eyedrum’s old art space, with clattering metal and jovial small talk. The second portion almost sounds like a financial planner’s meeting, possibly life insurance or some other sort of mundane necessity.
B-side “Warbird Skyventures” is a more dynamic piece that celebrates the joys of found objects and found sounds. Kee reportedly found a VHS tape labelled “Warbird Skyventures” in a Cleveland, Tennessee, thrift store after playing a show. The recording captures the historic plane soaring through the skies of North Georgia. Meanwhile, the commercial pilot and her passenger comment on the sights (Sequoyah Nuclear Generating Station, Etowah, Hiawassee), poke fun at Alabamians, and otherwise balance moments of mundanity and utter glee.
But the fun isn’t kept strictly to the conversation. Kee occasionally edits in periods of silence and sudden gaps in the narrative, maintaining a sense of bizarre realism and common confusion. It might be an obscure or acquired taste, but it’s worth seeking out for the aurally adventurous.
Next up, x.nte’s CLOUD2 brings Null Zone’s second foray into purely electronic music, following the Leisure Service tape issued last year. Michael Hollis, who also records as Don Cam, returns here with an obsessive love letter to amphetamine-addled breakbeats, contrasted with heavy doses of pure, blissed-out ambient music and a seemingly endless toolbox of hyperactive electronics. There are nods to bass music, video game music, and an array of samples from almost every corner of recorded sound. “Biciwofree2 (x.nte remix) is a striking highlight, balancing a tightrope between both worlds, only to be met with the manic and pummeling drive of “Re DO:KO vs Himena².” Other tracks like “Deaf Again” and “THUMBSUP™” skitter with unbridled energy, bouncing hyper-speed through the air. “Mutilate Part III (x.nte remix)” ventures more into mixtape territory, pulling in momentary lines from Jay-Z and Notorious B.I.G.’s “Brooklyn’s Finest.” In the end, CLOUD2 is a beautiful blitz of colorful noise that’s both endlessly inspired and technically proficient.