While Judah & the Lion are arguably the most mainstream example of hip-hop stylings mashed into unlikely contexts, they’ve arguably got nothing on the uncanny cocktail that is Tarantula Tapes’ debut album.
Tarantula Tapes is the latest moniker of Daniel Anderson, and Anderson himself characterizes the project as “not Glowbug” but also “not not Glowbug”. This is a fitting summary – Easy shimmers with a lofi glow and a base of vintage sounding synths, acoustic guitar, and a certain western ambiance. At times, it feels like a reimagined take on the classic chillwave sound of Glowbug, albeit one where Anderson’s vocals are substituted with intricate guitar melodies and the arrangements feel more spacious.
Admittedly, instrumental music is difficult for me to process. Even the most inane lyrics provide some degree of conversation for listeners to respond to. But without lyrics, listeners are given freedom to inject their ideas into both sides of the musical conversation.
It’s also difficult to know how to best approach instrumental works. Can they be appreciated well in the background as concentration or relaxation methods? Or should they be carefully examined with full attention? Is it a disservice to simply do one or the other?
As such, it seems unfair to try to place any sort of rating on Easy. It’s a bit like eating Indian food for the first time – it is foreign to me to some degree, and it may not go down the easiest. But that’s simply my own palate which has not been primed for this sort of release. To enjoy Tarantula Tapes properly is to not overthink things.
That’s not to say Easy isn’t carefully-crafted, lush, or compelling. But I need to temporarily suspend my notions of “meaning” and simply let these compositions cascade freely. Anderson isn’t commenting on dead-end jobs, vibrant memories of driving along the coast, or the nature of luck itself. Instead, he charts beauty is a more subjective manner – one that conjures western vistas, simple living, and an undeniable sense of wonder. Maybe the nature of quarantine holds the album back as it presents us with a sense of freedom that for many seems may never see the light of day.
Stylistically, Easy is in a league of its own. It borrows equally from Orville Peck’s cosmic country foundation and augments it with traces of classic hip-hop; hints of folk, chillwave, and Love as a Dark Hallway-era Flashbulb-esque guitar parts are all present. It’s undeniably modern, but is lovingly retrospective all the same.
Even though Tarantula Tapes is a change of pace compared to the more dynamic elements of Glowbug, the project certainly has its own unique strengths and shows Anderson’s “Renaissance man” aptitude for songwriting.
Check out Easy here: https://tarantulatapes.bandcamp.com/album/easy