Manitoulin Tapes

The synth-driven songs on Playdate’s Manitoulin Tapes are scattered and colourful and above all else, fun to listen to.

Last summer, Toronto duo Playdate (Matthew Bailey and Carl Schilde) spent two days in a remote cabin on Manitoulin Island and recorded, live onto stereo cassette tape, Manitoulin Tapes, a collection of softly spun improvised electronic music.

Bailey and Schilde recorded two thirty-minute tape sides each morning, afternoon and night. The album’s track titles denote what time of day a piece was recorded but they don’t appear chronologically. Instead, time is jumbled up just like how it felt when you were a kid on summer vacation. And fittingly there is a childish playfulness to Manitoulin Tapes. These synth-driven songs are scattered and colourful and above all else, fun to listen to. The lively synth sequence on opener “Tape VII AM” evokes the same fearless curiosity that you had as a kid while the skittery “Tape V Night” glows like the greenish hue of the original Gameboy’s screen.

Playdate’s Manitoulin Tapes also feels like a product of where it was made. The movements of natural elements – water, wind, the sun and clouds – are tied to the gestures that Bailey and Schilde make. “Tape VIII AM” moves calmly and unhurried like the sun rising and “Tape XI Night” wavers like the flames of a bonfire. As the calming energy of the closing track “Tape VII AM (reprise)” hits, you realize that another day has begun and it’s time to seek out a new adventure. 

A Gaze Among Them