Skarabee/tuSK – Split (C24, Not On Label)

I believe both Skarabee and tuSK are Stuart Chalmers, although there is limited information on both projects and this tape does not have a label to give it a synopsis. The cassette is ultra-low budget, coming in a recycled cassette box flipped inside out; the cassette itself is painted with artist name and title; and finally, we get recycled strands of tape holding the whole package together, making this feel like an ode to RRRon’s Recycled recordings.

On the Skarabee side, we get a ton of glitchy synth modifications that have a rhythmic scope to them. If you’ve listened to any Black Dice, Skarabee falls within that realm. “Eardrum” starts out with a rhythm and then continues to build as Skarabee incorporates new patterns and loops via tape manipulation and synth work. Some bongos come into the mix during the last moments of the track, too, giving “Eardrum” a tribal feel that has been carried with it since the opening minutes of the track. Ultimately, your enjoyment of Skarabee depends on how much you dig rhythmic noise; but Chalmers utilizes the natural loops of his samples very well, and it’s easy to get into the groove.

Now the tuSK side is a different story, very different from Skarabee but still featuring tape loops. Instead of synths, we simply get a child’s laugh looped over and over in quick bursts along with a high feedback squeal in the background. For some reason, I find myself getting sucked in to the timbre of the voice, the small chuckles within the laugh, and it makes the voice sound like another instrument. Along the way, tuSK adds new samples of different laughs, and they all build upon one another. Towards the end of the track, tuSK loses that offsetting man-machine hybrid of voice versus noise, but it’s interesting to lose yourself in such a simple method. That is, until you realize that what you’re listening to is just loops of kids laughing.

This is a quality split from both of Chalmer’s projects, although I have to say I am very split on the tuSK track – the metaphorical message it creates is shocking but the way it’s implemented is a bit amateurish. Still, I like Chalmer’s rhythmic leanings, and I hope to see more of his manipulations soon.

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