This is the eagerly-awaited third album from the Stockholm-based trio of Tape, comprised of Andreas and Johan Berthling and Tomas Hallonsten. Gently exploring the soft realms of electro-acoustic sound, their world is located somewhere between experimental music and instrumental pop, and with this release, a new chapter has been written in the history of Tape. This album gives us a clearer structure, a sharper sound and the songs take more time to evolve. With Rideau, Tape shows that they are masters of their craft. Tape has been recognized internationally for their music where electronic sounds blend with acoustic and all sorts of instruments and site-specific recordings create the most fantastic melodies. For the first time they have chosen to work with a producer: Marcus Schmickler from Germany, a musician, producer and composer with a broad range. Solo, he makes noise music and pop in the group Pluramon with Julee Cruise and composes contemporary music for choir. Rideau promises to be a follow-up that will reveal an even more considered, meticulously craft-conscious side of Tape, with loads of experiments and accidents that translate into glorious, trembling sound.
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The overall result of this slight change in writing and recording their album isn't a large one, but it pushes the group in just enough of a different enough direction to make the release sound unlike either of their either releases and make you feel like continuing to follow their movements. "Sunrefrain" opens the release and finds the group mixing subtle organ melodies while found sound recordings scatter random noises. The track builds and releases in ever-louder ways with some electronic blips and electric guitar, eventually letting loose with a wash of noise, horns, guitar, and repetitive organ.
The louder moments in the aforementioned track and the release in general make it clear that Tape are unafraid to be a little louder on this release, and it pays off greatly for them. Their tracks still rely on delicate moments to really make their point, but with louder passages, they're able to accomplish even more in terms of dynamics and shifts. "A Spire" mixes chimes, guitar, electronic processing, and piano over the course of almost twelve minutes and through some instrumental slight of hand, the track doesn't sound repetitive in the slightest. It's easily one of their best tracks to date, and the standout of the album.
After the two long opening tracks, the group tosses in two shorter pieces, and while "Sand Dunes" oozes with warmth and charm, "Exuma" feels far too long at over six minutes, with only shakers and drones wobbling on and on. Fortunately, the group closes things out nicely with another long-form piece in "Long Lost Engine," a tick-tocking organ and guitar (and electronics and effects) track that burns slowly like a melting sunset on a late summer night. Once again, the trio of Tape has proven that sometimes a little is just as good as a lot with Rideau.
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(11.25.05) Tape's latest release, Rideau, is what I call an art-band record. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since I consider music made by the likes of Tortoise, Stereolab, and even much of Radiohead's work to fall under that same category. Not quite outré enough to be considered fully experimental, but often touching the fringes of experimentation.
Comprised of Andreas Berthling, Johan Berthling, and Tomas Hallonsten, Tape is a trio based out of Stockholm. It is fitting that a trio would make music such as one finds on Rideau. It feels geometric. The triangular unit's compositions are like Bach fugues Crockett Johnson paintings.
They are also enchanting, as in from the Latin root incantre: to utter an incantation, cast a spell. A sense of this incantation is evoked in the reverent tone and methodical manner in which each track develops. In the seventies they might have dubbed it prog-rock. But if Dark Side of the Moon was a landmark because of its unique or mesmerizing style (perhaps the by-product of drugs taken while one listened), Rideau is masterful because of its complexity, exceptional musicians, and high production value.
Nothing here seems unnecessary or incongruous. It is tight and well-structured, however, it also still somehow retains a feeling of spontaneity, perhaps the result of those exceptional accidents true works of art benefit from. There are possibilities within these austere pieces, rich territory for improvisation and re-interpretation in a live setting. Upon repeated listening to the disc, each track reveals new elements and tones. It seems to evolve, inviting one to explore the variety of instrumentation and structures. To use an over-worked but apt phrase, it is a thoughtful and thought-provoking recording. Samuel Stackhouse, Igloo Magazine ([...]