Histamine Tapes – Scratching that itch on your summer vacation

Histamine Tapes is back with a bundle to cool your mind during this hot stretch – or just ease your nerves whenever this is being read. For this review I have two cassettes from their summer batch, and both are continuing the label theme of reclaimed tapes and artwork. Each unique tape is dubbed in real-time, one featuring a craft paper box decorated with images from an anthology of stories for young readers (Buben), while the other boasts hand-cut collages combining images from a book on medieval and renaissance painting with pages from an anthology of horror fiction (Robert Cole Rizzi).

First up is the offering from Buben (Vladislav Buben), his newest creation, Between All Forms ( available on tape/dl https://histaminetapes.bandcamp.com/album/between-all-forms-ht023). Buben is a pioneering electronic composer/promotor/radio/TV host from Minsk, Belarus, with a multi-decade career that has covered almost every underground genre and has seen him release over one hundred albums across the globe. Buben has been at the forefront of the Belarusian music scene and even hosted an MTV show “Did you call for electricians?” that focused on electronic music as well as hosting the “The Lost World” radio show. It is not surprising that he has built a home studio named “Big Buben Studio”, which focuses on creating his own music. 

Beuben begins the tape with gentle drones and a hint of choir. A melody emerges while multiple parts wash into the stereo field and fade out. Other moments sound like a loop of a bell ringing. There is lots of air and floating notes to these soundscapes, with just one new chord changing the mood of the piece. With headphones on one really gets the sense of movement, often in the form of rising or floating. Towards the finale the music has grown massive and you realize it has been slowly ramping up to this from the beginning. This is a modern electronic composition through the lens of 1970s and 1980s giants and truly embodies the title when trying to assign this a genre. Overall the sound is expertly woven and sounds effortless and natural, which is quite the achievement in any art form.

The next cassette is from Robert Cole Rizzi a composer residing in Denmark. Robert mixes field recordings, interviews and instruments to create a diverse listening experience. On this release, Conversations (available on tape/dl https://histaminetapes.bandcamp.com/album/conversations-ht024), Robert uses an Organetta, sometimes being altered with granulating, reversing, or stretching. Field recordings also play a large role in this piece, as does the titular conversation he recorded with his father. As Robert explains “I was talking with my father Richard J. Rizzi in his home upstate NY in the winter of 2017- and I wanted to record us hanging out in his kitchen – looking at his work and him telling stories. 

“The parts I decided to used for this album, were mainly on subjects of art, philosophy, spirituality and a little about the man I’m named after – Robert Cole – my fathers friend and a gifted musician and conductor, who was killed the year before my birth – the rest of that story, is another album…”

It’s important to point out that no synths were used, that all keyboard sounds were generated by the Orgenetta. Made by Hohner in the later 1950s, it’s an electric reed organ that has an Atomic/Mid Century Modern look depending on the model year. Robert also employs sound collage, featuring a stream, the sound of walking on a trail, city sounds traffic, and pedestrian chatter all entering throughout the composition.  The listener is allowed in to a private chat between family, and you feel welcomed instead of an interloper. The conversation splices left in can be interpreted as chapter titles or descriptions for the tone of the piece as the tape rolls along. This has the feeling of being very meaningful and not something done on whim or just randomly dumped to cassette. When looking at the whole presentation this is just not a gift to his family but to his listeners as well. The rest of the story is hopefully something we won’t have to wait long to hear.

Jeff Brown

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