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Album Review: 'For Headspace #1' by Tandem Tapes

Marcel Thee

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, July 28, 2017  /  09:25 am
Album Review: 'For Headspace #1' by Tandem Tapes

‘For Headspace #1’ by Tanden Tapes (Tandem Tapes/File)

Tandem Tapes, a Jakarta-based boutique record label specializing in releasing limited edition tapes, has released its first compilation album.

The massive 50-track record also marks the label’s first exclusive digital release. Titled For Headspace #1, all the proceeds will be donated to Headspace, a Youth Mental Health Foundation based in Australia.

Label-head Morgan McKellar moved to Jakarta from Canberra, Australia, only two years ago. Arriving here, he almost immediately set up Tandem Tapes, ostensibly as a way to keep himself occupied and to meet new, like-minded people whose interests lay in experimental music.

The idea of donating to Headspace came from McKellar’s tragic personal experience.

“I chose to donate to Headspace when my cousin, Sean, took his own life earlier this year,” McKellar says. “He was a music lover-maker and I wanted to do something in memory of him that was both relevant to his life, through music, and his death, through donating to a foundation dedicated to improving the wellbeing of young people.”

Many of the artists who appear on the compilation are already part of the Tandem catalogue, including Theo Nugraha, Pare Ohm and Yves Malone — all of whom have releases on the label.

Many of the artists are also Indonesian, which comes from Tandem’s curatorial concept, in which each release presents two artists from different parts of the world, each appearing on a different side (A and B) of the cassette tape.

The label name represents that concept. It is “a very literal reference to how the label releases music,” says McKellar.

As the compilation album will make clear, Tandem doesn’t have a “sound” per se, except that all of the artists can be lumped into the label of “experimental” musicians.

From drone, full-on ambient, subtle and harsh noise, tribal-like chants, to electronic glitches, Tandem’s releases are all outside the usual norm of mainstream music.

“I’d been planning on doing a compilation since the label’s inception early last year. The 20th release rolled around quicker than I expected so I thought that would be a good milestone to release the compilation on,” McKellar says.

The fifty musicians that appear on the compilation include the above-mentioned Indonesian artists as well as others from Australia, Poland, America, England, Japan and more. The idea was to make it an even bigger “tandem” of artists than usual.

“I made the decision that the compilation would be for the benefit of charity in the beginning but did not decide to donate to Headspace until earlier this year.”

The album works strongly as something someone with a passing interest in experimental music could get into, acting as an entry point of sorts.

There is everything from the all-out electronic noise attack of Individual Distortion; Big Geoffrey’s cinematic soundscapes; Logic Lost’s spaced-out electro-acoustic nuance; Takahiro Mukai’s abstract blips; To Die’s tortured (or torturous) wailings; Inner Travel’s retro-futurist soundtracking; Celladore’s instrumental hip-hop, and many other kinds of musical variety.

For McKellar, aside from doing something for a good cause, the album will be a primer for Tandem as well as experimental music in general.

“I wanted to showcase the talent of artists that had previously released their work on Tandem Tapes as well as introduce listeners to artists who have upcoming releases on the label.”