Sunday 29 September 2013


I received an email the other day and it was from a person called Anders Obel (you can call him Andrew, btw) - he was introducing me to the music that he had created under the name Tape Transport. I am very glad that he sent me the email because I've had a very nice time listening to this EP on repeat just now. He is from Norway, and I don't think I've ever written about someone from Norway before - there is a first time for everything.

Anyway, I was going to write about just one song but now I think I'll just write about the whole EP, called Panoply (coming from Greek meaning "a full suit of armour"), which Mr Tape Transport has self-released on Bandcamp for purchase on a name-yo-price basis. Not only is the whole EP worthy of praise, but there's a difficulty in picking a song that best represents his style, because it's as varied as it pleasant to the eardrums. To sum it up on a general level, I suppose you'd call it electro-pop but it's not as straightforward as that - there are dance elements in there, as well as a large chunk of experimentalism chucked in.

The song that stuck out most, on first listen, was 'You Are Mine', whose skiffly beat jitters away in the summoning up of dance energy and the steering of organically modulating synth bass and chords that rise up and down. Rapidly chopped-up vocal samples give extra oomph to the energy here, almost an R&B vibe - and it's very well done. Likewise, 'Flick The Switch' creates a dancey vibe, but with a more laid-back half-time rhythm thanks to an understated beat - here synth chords stab intergalactically and create glorious walls of noise alternately. That rhythmic, house-like twinging of chords occurs on pretty much every song on Panoply, which ain't a bad thing; nope, it adds retro dancefloor appeal to all five quite-differing tracks.

That said dance-hearted rhythm commands the chords in opener 'Crushing Waves', sending them from muffled depths to exalted heights of ear-piercing treble, adding synth horns for a triumphant atmosphere - kinda perfect for a first song. The beatwork at the beginning was certainly a promising sign when I first listened to it, intricate sounds coming together and layering for maximum excitement. There's REAL electric guitar here, too, sounding like the perfect accompaniment to the song - it's not easy to make real instruments and synth get along sometimes, but Tape Transport's got it down.

But it's a more chilled out affair for 'Look At The Stars (And The Stars Look Back)', which utilises a chiptune-style arpeggio and that twinging chord rhythm again against a lo-fi beat. Again, there's real guitar here: single, muted, reverbing notes that resonate beautifully. Towards the end of the song vocal samples pop up and the arpeggio plays in reverse - it grows ever ambient, with gentle bells, before fading away entirely. A similar ambience imbues closer 'Bedtime Story 夢は現実のもの', with a fizzing, glitched-out, up-tempo beat that upholds delicate glockenspiel sounds and soft synths; at about 1:42 a gently crashing cymbal adds to the urgency of the beat. Little things like this make the whole song quite a joy to listen to, like a genuine journey into dreams, the purpose of bedtime stories (the Japanese btw means 'dreams into reality' or similar). Muffled marimba provides a lullaby-esque outro.

With a good ear for creating dynamic soundscapes, and skilled switching between pretty, ambient atmospheres and upbeat, dancey vibes, Tape Transport's Panoply is more than just a "chill" journey: it's a deeper side of intelligent, glitchy dance music, multi-faceted enough so that it's an original voyage with each listen.

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Listen to Tape Transport on Soundcloud
Hear more Tape Transport on Myspace
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Watch Tape Transport on YouTube

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