Ante Meridian by Self Tape

Posted on May 3, 2021

Self Tape is a Sydney Australia based Electronic musician making highly original tracks. When I hear world class I usually expect it to be coming from Europe or America, or some other major population centre, so it’s always funny but happy to discover music I listen to is made in Australia. We have such a great music culture here, with strong underground currents.

Self Tape’s work reminds me of Trentemoller’s early dance productions from the 2000s (see The Forest). Trentemoller though has moved onto explore more analog formats and structured music, which is working brilliantly for him and I recommend all his work to audiophiles, if not music lovers.

My favourite track is the first – Night Swim, and we might as well just talk about that one as it exemplifies what is good about all the other ones too.

Night Swim gets off to a funky start with a simple low key synth part and beat holding steady. These sounds form the unchanging bones of the track, and are as clean and crisp as can be. Soon as a melodic topper joins in, teasing a little color. Then it hits you – pads, reverb, luscious (for want of a better adjetctive) vocals, all held together by the same beat and synth. The transition is like a submersion, once minute you’re breathing air, the next surrounded by a warm body of water.

You’ve now heard most of what the song has to offer, and the various parts phase in and out with a few drops and breaks thrown in. There’s always movement to keep your attention keen until the end.

There are no real vocals beyond unintelligible selective samples, like many of the tracks. It’s all about sound here. And so it should be as it’s a sound I’m glad is in the world.

All of the other tracks are just as good, but I’m a fan particularly of the smooth, layered pads and vocals of the Night Swim’s main sections.

Production

The production is slick. Mixes are well balanced and have a nice spread through the frequency range in all parts. Instruments aren’t overly EQ’d – there’s a nice feeling of organic synths being allowed to sound how they organically sound – for the main parts at least.

While the beats and main parts tend to be cleaner, the toppers, often melodic with huge personality, are heavily filtered with huge smacks of reverb.

It’s not as squashed as a lot of electronica, letting background be background. Or, it’s just mixed so well it doesn’t sound squashed. Selecting parts that compliment each other and don’t overlap in frequency might have something to do with it. In general Self Tape’s music has a nice spacious feeling to it, and although there’s as much repetition as in any other electro, each moment of each song feels deliberate and crafted.

This kind of attention to the large and small scales is one of the difficult things about solo productions. Working on the smallest scale of 16ths and 32s, it’s hard to use both your ears and not your brain to both feel the music and know what’s happening in the context of the entire track. Self Tape seems to have mastered this.

Support Self Tape and purchase Ante Meridian via Bandcamp.