Review: Cody Brant – Tapes (1997-2020) (self-released, Nov 6)

Between this new(ish) digital-only release and the very limited tape run of Found Cassettes Volume 1 on Research Laboratories this month, Nevada multimedia artist Cody Brant has cemented himself as both a dedicated collector and compelling curator of ephemeral cassette recordings: leftovers from family events, hilarious rants and shower thoughts, children’s choir tracks, lame prank calls and belligerent radio shock jocks, noises of things much less recognizable. Tapes (1997-2020) is more of a conventional (relatively speaking, of course) artistic effort than Found Cassettes, for here the tracks are not strictly divided based on their source but rather collaged more arbitrarily together into extended untitled pieces, as well as augmented by Brant’s typical approach of warbly tape wankery and sloppy loops. There’s a certain responsibility one takes on in doing this sort of sonic recycling; the many speakers and voices that populate the verbal sections of Tapes are protected by a layer of anonymity already, but the individual exhuming these remnants of intimate moments or simply mundane slices of life owes it to the sounds’ original owners to harness it in a respectful way, an implicit but important understanding certainly present in Brant’s work no matter how raw or unadulterated the samples he’s amassed are. This sprawling but deeply immersive stroll through a familiar reality busted at the seams is everything that gravedigger-bricolage should be: messy, nostalgic, inexplicably evocative and emotional, and above all fascinatingly strange. Come wade through the mud of memory.