Tape Shadow: revealing a wonderfully resonant universe

Julia Reidy / Morten Joh, Tape Shadow, Belgium, Futura Resistenza, RESK7001 cassette (2022)

The only gripe I have with this cassette release is that it’s a short recording, about 35 to 36 minutes long! All right, so you think, it’s mostly slow minimalist instrumental noodling on electric guitar, vibraphone, gran cassa drum and Korg Polysix analog synthesiser subjected to double cassette tape delay – how can the music be any longer without it becoming boring? Ah but in the hands of one Julia Reidy and Morten Joh (more usually known as Morten Johan Olsen), this toolkit becomes part of a magic recipe or ritual to take us into a wonderfully resonant universe of chiming bells and gamelan-like tones, and other, sometimes quavering sounds that appear to revolve around one another in a huge airy space. So starts our journey into an immense soundscape dimension that incredibly resides in a humble cassette modestly titled “Tape Shadow”.

Opening track “Rows” is a marathon piece that takes us deep into this universe and it’s not until we are almost halfway through the recording that this universe takes on form with “Sync”, with the Polysix constantly weaving and looping its hula-hoop lines through the drum and vibraphone beats and rhythms. “Endless ≠ Limitless” is much slower and droning but still maintains a looping melody structure in an atmosphere of calm languor. As this track continues, its mood becomes rather ambiguous, as though slowly and inexorably becoming disturbed and unstable. Some tension develops and continues right up to the end of the track. As if to reassure us, “Static” is a calm and cheering piece with all instruments in repeating, looping harmony.

This is such a beautifully resonant and rich work, revealing perhaps just a fraction of its shadow universe’s secrets hidden in deep labyrinthine tunnels and caverns. It would be wonderful if Reidy and Morten Joh could release another recording revisiting this world. But I doubt that Reidy and Morten Joh are the sort of artists who would go back again and again to exploit this world’s wonders, when we can and should do it ourselves now that we have heard them. No, we should be honoured that these artists have introduced us to this dimension and taken us through it.