The Cellartapes Experience
(Reviewer - MMT)
There’s something infinitely mysterious about the Cellartapes label. Or maybe it’s just that my ordered librarian’s mind seeks always to define and classify – Cellartapes seem to defy definition, and that’s what I find so perversely intriguing about them. A superlative example of how groups of creative minds can come together via the Internet and create whole scenes under their own steam – in Cellartapes’ case a brilliant batch of electronica, dance, ambient, trance, jam-band and other types of music I don’t even have the vocabulary to describe.
Anyway, the many and various acts signed (well, maybe signed isn’t the right word. They’re more mysterious than that!) - affiliated to the Cellartapes label can all be seen at their page on the ReverbNation site. Which I must admit is also a site I find very mysterious! Kind of an alternative MySpace which is also able to compile local download charts… now that does interest my librarian’s mind.
OTL, described as “the producer and technical studio dogsbody at the centre of operations” is a character we know pretty well from Real Life™. But that’s about as much as we do know. Though if you’ve been beautiful and shrewd enough to buy yourself a copy of the latest “Monkey Kettle & Friends Rock” compilation CD, you might already be familiar with Invisible Rhino's “Charge Consumer”. Invisible Rhino describe themselves as making “Dancing Upside-down Music”. Which is about right. Bouncy, atmospheric mood dance. “In Imitation Of Our Better Selves” is a particularly good example, evolving into a squelchy track that’s almost industrial at times. “Credit Card Or Bust” is even stompier.
Mucky Badger has possibly the best name among the Cellartapes artists, and my favourite track by him / them has probably the best track name too: “Billie Moo Moos Again” – presumably referring to the lowing noise which drifts in and out over the jittery rhythm and cartoon chattering. While Stasis looks like it’s another name under which OTL himself records, this time in a much more ambient / dreamlike mode – and one which I enjoyed in particular, the moody “Ducks Of Midnight” a particular standout. And it would appear The Ninth Tentacle is also OTL (though you never know!!), here in ongoing dancey jams featuring spiralling electric guitars (such as “i believe in milko” (the title a subtle “Home & Away” reference I think!) and the excellently atmospheric “Developing Fluid”) – maybe the best place to start for those people who like guitars!
Definitely a band in their own right – because we’ve seen them play live several times! – are Dusque, who are a groovy synthy outfit with punchy rhythms and a summery vibe. If you ever get the chance to check them out live, you definitely should.
Some of the acts do appear to be based further afield, Alex Final who makes off-kilter blocks of robot poetry appears to be from California; Coccinella’s trancey synths are from the Netherlands; while Bachuus looks like he’s from Denmark and records the sort of laid-back stuff that someone like me who doesn’t listen to enough of this sort of stuff might call “chillwave”. But maybe this is all recorded in Emerson Valley, who knows?
So, some of the above artists may or may not be the same people. Or some of the same people in different combinations. Or some different people under the same pseudonyms, for that matter. We just don’t know. That's how mysterious the whole Cellartapes affair is, and y’know what? That’s the way I like it. The only real answers are the tracks – which are smashing. Come on in.