There’s any number of quality tape labels emerging and doing big things in underground electronic music at the moment. The sense of being able to make and circulate a physical object of some worth on your own terms – while obviously not a new concept – is no doubt an attractive sentiment to the growing group of producers and labels putting out music on cassette, along with the prevailing appeal of analogue imperfection. Birkhouse Recordings put out electronic music that plays with an intersection of intimate bedroom vibes and hardware-driven noise. Based out of Bristol and Huddersfield, the label has acted as a sort of scrapbook and live showcase shared between a group of friends and artists since their appearance in January 2013. The first six tape releases were grouped conceptually as the ‘bone’ series, with the five following Birk.001’s various artists all split into two, with a different artist taking on one side of each tape. January this year saw the label’s first full-length release from experimental duo Tlön. It’s their strongest output yet: a dark clash of electronic textures with found and displaced sounds that often threatens to lurch into techno but refrains from offering such resolution. Title track “Truth in the 13th” layers an off-kilter snare with an assortment of organic samples and a looped melody in the beginning before gradually incorporating an assault of all sorts of noise, while album closer “Ancient Ruins” opens with distant drums that fade away to make room for a shimmering ambient outro that manages to glaze over, or re-think, the harsh tones that preceded it. It’s rare that music can be at once as hypnotic and punishing, but you can make up your own mind here.
The next tape to come out of Birkhouse is an EP by Pal, a duo of vocalist Morgan Barfield and producer Canoe Club, coming fresh-faced as the first standalone published work from either artist. The latter plays dance music patterns on the low-key underneath Barfield’s vocals, each resonating off the other but allowing enough space to breathe to make for a crisp and clear blend of electronic pop. It’s in a whole different and more conventional sphere to the Tlön tape, but the fact they’ve come from the same home shows Birkhouse’s refreshing openness to different shades and influences under the ever-widening umbrella of ‘electronic music’.
Stream: Pal – Here Comes Everyone (Birkhouse Recordings)
Pal’s self-titled EP is released 8th April on Birkhouse Recordings on tape cassette and download.