The five songs comprising Vermont resident Ruth Garbus “Joule EP” have been available for close to a year now, but the set entered the physical realm only recently, pressed up on 7-inch by OSR Tapes as part of a batch of wax foreshadowing operator Zack Phillips’ decision, as of January 1, 2015, to take his still very much extant label offline. OSR’s other wax offerings (and many of the cassettes) are certainly of interest, but right now it’s Garbus’ folky compositions for vocals and guitar that are proving especially rewarding.
Due to timing, Zack Phillips’ desire to cut the internet cable to OSR Tapes perhaps suggests a New Year’s Resolution of unusual severity, but after examination his choice to go offline is far from kneejerk; it’s been in the cards for some time and while the circumstances can’t help but tempt a Luddite verdict, Phillips’ actions possess seriousness concerned with moving forward instead of retreating back.
OSR Tapes dates to 2007. That might not seem like a particularly long time, but it does connect to a period when small labels dedicated to the production of physical releases thrived in the underground. And as the name makes plain, analogous to numerous imprints from the period Phillips devoted energies to the proliferation of cassettes, a format filling this writer with very little love.
Bluntly, OSR’s roster is so chocked full of goodies that my prejudice against cassettes is hard to maintain. For a few examples, there’s Send Away, a reissue of a tape Robert Scott (of The Clean and The Bats) recorded under the pseudonym Gordon Wallace way back in ‘87, Navajo Rag from Neil Michael Hagerty’s The Howling Hex, Rainbow Bridge by veteran ESP Disk folker Ed Askew, and Termite Music from Phillips’ and Sarah Smith’s outfit Blanche Blanche Blanche.