The Chad Tape
SCQ Rating: 81%
An oft forgotten joy of buying from Bandcamp is that you receive a kind Thank You email courtesy of the artist you’ve just supported. It isn’t really the musicians writing you a personal note of gratitude of course but, with the state of the industry and the financial effects it imposes on artists, the email still feels genuine enough to give you good vibes all evening. On the other hand, the Thank You email one receives from buying on Chris Reimer’s Bandcamp page induces an unsettling mix of emotions; the same disbelief, sadness and confusion felt across the independent music scene when the untimely death of Chris Reimer, Women guitarist and burgeoning solo artist, was announced in February.
Opening my inbox to find an email from “Chris Reimer” with his thanks was enough to resurface those surreal sentiments, but The Chad Tape goes miles further in explaining exactly what we’ve lost. “Trees Die In Switzerland” lurches into earshot with a detuned acoustic dirge and distant flute melody married by some low-end feedback rustling around. The graceful, understated nature of it reveals that, for one thing, The Chad Tape is a collection of ambient music. But moreover, Chris Reimer had a keen ear for the challenging genre that anyone can do, but few do well.
The dichotomy applied to “Trees Die In Switzerland”, where a soothing lead shares space with undercurrents of despair and seclusion, deepens many of the tracks collected by Reimer’s loved ones. “Finnish Song (2)” evokes a barren landscape where found-sounds clatter across its plain while, on “Overweight Motorcycle Cops”, some outdoor field-recordings are caught between a tragic violin arrangement and some curious synths loitering nearby.
The latter track, which fades out within a minute of getting really interesting, reminds listeners that The Chad Tape was unfinished at the time of Reimer’s passing. Although it’s impossible to know how this record might’ve sounded as a complete artistic statement, The Chad Tape echoes the approach Reimer, Chad VanGaalen (who mastered this cassette), and the rest of Women brought to that band’s stunning catalog: dense but seemingly vacant production, a hopeful yet menacing duality, and illuminating hooks despite all of the music’s dark corners. Which is to say, The Chad Tape wouldn’t sound unfinished if not for our tragic understanding to the contrary; at most, its current incarnation would’ve probably earned a few more ‘avant-garde’ accolades, had Reimer lived to receive them.
The Chad Tape is limited to 200 copies and going quickly. Proceeds from physical and digital sales will benefit the Chris Reimer Legacy Fund, which provides music and dance scholarships to children. Support and listen here.