V/A, “Tale of Plagues”

Tribe Tapes is distributing exactly the sort of music collections we’ll need in 2020 and beyond. Not quite an album, compilation, or anthology, Tale of Plagues is a reckless global excavation of sonic muck, gurgling and screeching noisecore from all corners of the globe, spanning the past four decades of glorious cultural decay from some of the best (and worst) saboteurs ever to undermine musical consonance.

Anyone who has the good fortune or misfortune of knowing a creative disc jockey knows that the line between curator and creator has been blurred since at least the 1970s, but Tribe Tapes drives a definitive stake through the heart of these categories that refuse to die. Combining death metal, grindcore, harsh noise, and power electronics from all over the world onto one tape is no unique deed; but blending those tracks together, haphazardly layering successive tracks over each other into a whole new stew of horrors is a delicious and unprecedented act of brutality.

Now what? Now for noise from across the globe, from the dusty Peruvian demo tapes of Atrofia Cerebral to American trickster/trinket-monger Crank Sturgeon, the thrills never end but your ego just might. There are demonic pig-like ululations echoing across what occasionally sounds like the dragging of a turntable needle across sandpaper, giving the sensation that the Tribe Tapes people have barged into your room piss drunk, stumbling around with boom boxes over their shoulders playing different tapes at different speeds. Occasionally, there are lewd sex sounds, robot farts, galactic laser-canon battles, a cruel and visceral montage of unpleasant racket.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, there’s some utter fucking garbage in here, too. For example, there are a couple of tracks by Toilet Generationen, a sophomoric electro-collage Anal Cunt knock-off from, uh… Afghanistan, allegedly, whose existence I have been unable to confirm outside of this tape release. One almost wonders if the Tribe Tapes team made up some of the acts here as an additional layer of meta-musical subterfuge, but it almost doesn’t matter. What else do you expect from a label that release two different versions of Black Leather Jesus playing “Rawfuckboy” on one tape less than a year ago?

Like I’ve been saying, Tribe Tapes is easily one of the most crucial and slept-on tape labels of this young decade. Their violent disrespect of musical forms is exactly why you can’t afford to miss out on whatever they do next.

It was never supposed to be like this, but here we are, picking up the pieces of a mangled world. In the Before Times, so the legends go, we had our categories in place. Things were fluid, but ultimately stable. A disc jockey was a curator; an artist was a creator. A bit of interplay here and there, some liminal auteurs between the cracks, but nothing like this. Now every mixtape can be an original song, every song a sampling, on and on until everything is timeless and unbounded.