On their third album, Rideau, Swedish trio Tape made their great leap forward. Released in 2005 on Häpna, following two albums of pastoral folk meets electronica, Rideau saw the trio of Andreas and Johan Berthling, and Tomas Hallonsten, working with an outside producer, Marcus Schmickler (best known for his post-rock outfit Pluramon). On Rideau, Tape’s music opened out considerably, embracing traditional minimalism, and luscious melodicism. Now, 17 years later, it has a new home with Morr Music, who are reissuing the album on vinyl for the first time, including an extra track.
It’s only logical that Rideau should reappear via Morr Music. Like Tape themselves, Morr Music was a significant part of a loose worldwide movement reconciling electronica, pop, and acoustic, group-oriented sound across the 2000s, and it sits neatly alongside other releases of similar heritage. Rideau also feels contemporary; their elliptical poetry echoes through recent music from the likes of Tara Clerkin Trio, and Tape’s sometime collaborators, Tenniscoats.
Asked about the album, Johan Berthling recalls, “Rideau was a special album for us to make”. While they had previously recorded their albums in rural Sweden, for Rideau, the trio decamped to Schmickler’s Piethopraxis Studio in Cologne. The creative space that Schmickler carved out for the group allowed them to explore this new material to its fullest. For his part, Schmickler found himself drawn to Tape’s music: “Their focus was a combination of seemingly timeless folk influences with noisy electronics and field recordings,” he explains. You can hear Schmickler’s influence at an almost molecular level – Tape had never sounded quite so graceful and assured with their compositions. “Marcus really shaped the music, working architecturally to build the form of the pieces,” Berthling recalls.
Rideau represents a collective exhalation for Tape, with the trio exploring more involved, longer pieces, which situates them in yet broader musical contexts. There are clear connections with the history of minimalism, for example, via the repeating organ phrase of Sunrefrain, and the insistent piano arpeggio of A Spire, which builds into a Reich-ian dream song, with sensuous electronics and glinting vibraphone dappling abstract shapes across the song’s stretched canvas.
Reflecting on Tape’s essence, Schmickler isolates their “uncompromised ethos, caring about small details.” This echoes most radically through the twilight environment of Long Lost Engine, which sets the listener adrift on impossibly radiant drones, while a gentle, almost Feldman-esque melody plays out over the song’s surface. It’s followed by the reissue’s extra track, Japanese electronica quartet Minamo’s remix of Roulette, a connection that would lead to a Minamo/Tape collaborative album, Birds Of A Feather.
For now, though, here is the gorgeous, penumbral abstraction of Rideau, an album of whispers and clues, quiet moments and grand gestures, reintroduced to a welcoming world.
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