Hiding between castles in Slovakia is a magnificent tape label called Z Tapes. Just a few days ago, Filip Zemčík sent over a lovely note highlighting his label’s newest releases and everything he linked was golden. Some people have an ear for music, the kind of discerning taste you trust without questioning. Zemčík certainly does. While pleasurably piecing through the catalog of delightful noise he has amassed as Z Tapes, a sense of comforting warmth filled my ears. Each artist is different in the way the approach their particular brand of lo-fi goodness, but they all do it with an endearing sincerity. Z Tapes stemmed from Zemčík’s other musical venture: a beautiful, little blog called Start-Track (which I highly recommend you visit regularly). Here are a few of our favorites from Z Tapes:
Ruth & Trudy – Still Pond Songs
Still Pond Songs traverses a distant landscape of abstract tinkerings that slowly assemble themselves as the albums unfold. Reminiscent of Eskimeaux‘s early limitation-less beginnings, each song pops with its own unique sense of character, amplified by the intentionally lo-fi construction of the album as a whole. A full and close listen reveals flavors, textures, and choppy rhythms that find a sense of unifying solace in the Mitchell Young’s (aka Ruth & Trudy) half-spoken/half-sung vocals.
The Washboard Abs – WHATEVERLAND
What a splendid collection of sweet, lo-fi nothings! Delicate in form and delivery, the songs of Clarke Sondermann’s (aka The Washboard Abs) WHATEVERLAND are a wide range of tales that feel like dreams I’ve never dreamed but long to learn more about. Soft whispers and frenzied whines are collectively solidified by the crisp cadences of riffs and tapped drums that run like tangible heartbeats beneath each flow of unencumbered thoughts.
Euphoria Again – Bedroom Recordings
This grouping of demos is well… euphoria. Slow and meandering, the tunes are lovably simple in a way that is not unfinished, but rather drifting in a dreamy, lo-fi atmosphere. Underneath the unconventional titles, there are quiet reverberations of strums, plucks, and whirrs creating a listless world of everything and nothing at all. I wish I would have known about the Philly treasure that is Johnny (aka Euphoria Again) long ago.
Compilation – Philly
Philly artists are notoriously prolific when it comes to creating music so its no surprise to find songs we had since forgotten about from wonderful Philly bands on this early Z Tapes release. Gathered by Ryan Wilson of Pill Friends, this compilation includes some gems from our Philly favorites of the past (RIP Night Panther), present (Alex G, Mumblr, Abi Reimold), and, I suppose, future (we’re coming for you Cousin Brian). It’s the perfect example of the Philly scene knowing and loving its own honest community of quirky and talented musicians long before the rest of the world.
If you’re reading this, Filip, let’s be music friends forever.