In a way the pairing makes sense. Take "for i am dead," a two-minute interlude that begins with muffled vocals and moves into a queasy synth line before disintegrating into peals of shuddering noise. Everything about it, from its title to its satanic growl, fits into the American tradition of crusty experimental labels, from Broken Flag to Load Records. "for i am dead" arrives within a run of creepy ambient tracks, evidence that Hauff put a fair amount of thought into the album's pacing and dynamics.
Since Hauff's first record on Werk Discs, she's been of a piece with the current horde of hardware-obsessed producers who sync up a few classic drum machines, get wild and record straight to tape. These sorts of tracks make up the bulk of A Tape. Some of them work really well. "c45p" rides a playful synth line over austere, jacking drums, echoing the legacy of dark, Chicago-informed dance music from The Hague. Starting the B-side, however, is "tape7," a jumbled drum machine jam whose 909 toms redline into an overdriven mess. "split scission" goes for horror movie organs, but it's so campy it sounds like the soundtrack for a game you'd play on an Intel 486. Many of the acid tracks are just good enough—competent demonstrations of hardware dexterity that would sit nicely on thousands of dusty twelves from the '90s.
Within the noise and lo-fi rock communities, tapes and CD-Rs helped democratize the album format. Gone was the need to carefully compose, practice and pay for expensive recording time—why do all that when you can set up a boombox, record a jam and sell 15 copies to nerds on the internet? Helena Hauff credits the tiny, punkish Golden Pudel club as being integral to her sound, having given her the freedom to take risks and make mistakes. Perhaps that's why she feels comfortable releasing her first album as a 200-press cassette. There are moments, such as on album closer "$§"$43" where she effortlessly combines her EBM, acid and industrial influences. But, perhaps due to the low-key style of release, some of the ideas on A Tape feel half-baked.