Cambridge band, Tape Runs Out will be releasing their debut album, Floodhead on 31st March on Trapped Animal Records. Floodhead is an exploratory sonic journey from the mind and soul of long-time band leader, Liam Goodrum-Bell (guitar, vocals).
Tape Runs Out’s experimental sound comes in part from their excellent array of instrumentation – the band members bring violin (Clare Myerscough) and the hammered dulcimer (Ellie Winter), as well as bass (Takeshi Kanemoto) and drums (Laurence Moore).
Recorded and produced by Liam and Dan Dawson (band’s guitarist) at Dan’s home studio over the course of a year, the album thrives off experimenting with different textures and sounds, with each song seeking to be its own microcosm of creativity, delivering its unique part within the whole. The painstaking detail and time spent by Liam and Dan between the initial recording session during the summers of 2021 and 2022 has resulted in an incredible production, and one that takes the listener through the Tape Runs Out universe.
Speaking on the themes around the album and title, Liam explains: “The main recurring theme throughout the album is being overwhelmed – I’m guilty of starting shiny new projects before completing previous ones, which leaves me with a trail of unfinished ideas that all jostle for attention in my head. This inability to see things through naturally leads to feelings of failure and self-resentment.
‘Floodhead’, the album’s title evokes the sense of being overwhelmed with different thoughts and ideas. It also goes into one of the secondary themes from the album, that of being at the whim of nature. As a word it means the wall of water that precedes a flood, which I thought was an apt representation of how it feels in those moments of existential panic.
The artwork is a simulation of a water droplet as it hits a body of water, which helps to symbolise the idea that this flood is made from individual things stacking up over time, bit by bit.”
With album opener “Jab”, we are introduced to the band with a beautiful swell of strings and a devastatingly simple line from Liam (“I’m not a perfect stone…”) setting the scene for what’s to follow, leading into Ellie’s glorious hammered dulcimer, before dropping into a thunderous crash of guitars and synths; the noise and atmosphere of this first track feels like looking into a Tape Runs Out kaleidoscope.
“Ark” follows, bringing dynamic and hopeful instrumentation. Based on a jazzy midi demo created by bass player, Tak some time ago, the song was adopted and fed a fine diet of self-doubt and self-loathing by lyricist Liam (“I guess I’m fundamentally out of sync with everyone … I guess I’m free… free… freaking out”), and once again Ellie’s hammered dulcimer punctures beautiful hooks and melodies around Liam’s dulcet vocal.
The first single, “Souvenir” is a simple, fun, expertly crafted rock number. Written off the cuff, with the guitar riff and basic synth solo fired around from Liam to Dan, it was quickly developed from Liam’s sketch into a band song and produced into what we hear now – a catchy, elegant rock song that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
“In The Muddles” one of Liam’s favourite’s, opens side B and is a meandering, relaxing bath of a song. Watery guitars, synths and scattered hammered dulcimer support Liam’s beautiful vocal as it drifts across the track, creating a very beautiful and ambitious song that leads perfectly into “Overseas Assignment”, a track – like many on the album – that feels made for a film. Absorbing the sounds feels like walking through the dreams of the band, reminiscent of Porcupine Tree and other great British prog bands. It glistens and swells as we’re taken back through our own mistakes and decisions of our life – it’s a truly spectacular point of the album that sits perfectly three quarters in….“drawn by the light’s irresistible pull”, Liam sings.
The album’s penultimate track, “90°C”, starts with a cascading guitar intro and verse that leads us to another highlight of the album – a very simple clean break at the midpoint that reminds us we can find an anchor whilst drifting (“When I get back, when I get strong, you’ll be running…”). The hammered dulcimer returns to us with its hooks and longing voice before leading into album closer, “Pillowtalk” – a nine-minute epic that starts with a head-nodding beat before crashing into a long, wandering vocal and hammered dulcimer detour that swells out from the album. “I’m tired”, Liam repeats, until the album finishes – with the amount of creativity displayed over the last 10 tracks, we’re not surprised.