TAPES by T.a.p.e.s
Genre: Downtempo, Ambient
Favorite Tracks: “Youth”, “Canvas”, “Eahso”
Buried deep in the annals of SoundCloud, Texas group T.a.p.e.s is one of the hidden gems that make digging through the plethora of middling acts worthwhile. Having released their debut EP in May of this year, T.a.p.e.s has been quietly amassing a local following, with their song “Sundial” having been featured on the RawPaw label’s Alien Zine Mixtape, which premiered in August. Listening to TAPES makes it easy to understand the steadily building buzz; featuring eight tracks of dreamy, slightly melancholic ambience, T.a.p.e.s is an endlessly pleasant blend of post-rock, downtempo, and shoegaze.
Album opener “II” immediately orients us within a soothing sunset soundscape with a riff that could have come from American Football under different circumstances, but injected with a wide-eyed sense of wonder. “Youth,” arguably the band’s most popular track, posits itself as ideal festival material, with a downplayed drum beat contributing to a structure that becomes progressively more layered and urgent as guitar twinkles in the background act as ear-candy. “Sundial” and “Eahso” also elect to take the route of shifting focus to the more electronic elements of the band’s sound; while “Sundial” oozes the aura of a Bandcamp bedroom producer and adds an engaging crunch to the band’s preferred serenity, “Eahso” is the greater track due to its comparatively experimental nature and its cultivation of an atmosphere that’s a bit more of a challenge to delineate.
However, the band is at its best when it gives equal attention to all of the elements at its disposal; album highlight “Canvas” features an emotive, soaring guitar riff, pulsing, hypnotic synths, and a hypnagogic, downtempo feel. As the release progresses, T.a.p.e.s begins to expand their sound, with “Tapes” wearing a UK garage influence on its sleeve, and “Mornings” serving as the EP’s most idiosyncratic release, with its kinetic hi-hat drum pattern and an overall aural reference point of the nostalgia of vaporwave.
For a debut release, TAPES promises great things for the band that serves as its namesake. Although their sound will have to be expanded to hold up over the course of a full-length LP (a low-key backpack rapper could be a welcome feature), listeners will easily find themselves lost in what is currently available to them. TAPES is a hidden treasure that everyone should check out as the season becomes more ponderous and melancholy.