Runtime: 37'05''

«It is with great pleasure and respect that we present this work from newcomers M A S & Travis McAlister here at test tube. We think that fans of The Caretaker and Gutta Percha will love this.
Following are some words from the artists explaining their work:

M A S (aka Makram Abu-Shakra) and Travis McAlister are two musicians who used to play in various improv bands together during the early 90's in Southern California. Roughly a decade after they went their separate ways, a visit to Travis' home in Portland, Oregon led to a recording of mostly improvised music, which was to serve as the raw material for a project of careful craftsmanship that took three years to complete.

The result is an exploration of the warm, organic, and faulty sounds of vintage instruments, as well as an attempt to seek out (or invent?) an ambient side of early music genres such as old school jazz and the dream-like reverie of early black and white cinema. This is done from a minimalist musician's perspective which repeatedly strives to return to a core, abstract expression. As such, there is a dynamic interplay between structured melody and pure sound textures.

One has a sense of layers being peeled back to reveal deeper meaning, underscored by a recurring tendency towards sonic diminution and the fading out to silence. Hence, the name "The Fade Out Room".
The exploration of varying musical styles gives a sense of transparency to the album or an unfolding of dimensions, the shifts in the music at times resembling the soft peeling or shedding of layers to reveal more essential expressions.

The instruments played in The Fade Out Room include an optigan, an assortment of bells, various synths, a music box, and a plastic trumpet.

Makram Abu-Shakra was born in Lebanon and is now based in San Francisco. He is also an artist and a writer. Most of his work can be found here. Look for his first book to be published sometime in the next six months.
Travis McAlister was born in California and frequently performs live in Portland, Oregon. He is a member of Nequaquam Vacuum and The Krebsic Orkestar. He has earned a reputation of being a multi-instrumentalist and he also builds his own musical instruments.»
- test tube


01 The room lies still during twilight
  [5'23'' • 7,94Mb • VBR]
02 From the end of the hallway
  [0'59'' • 1,65Mb • VBR]
03 Clogstone blue
  [0'42'' • 1,32Mb • VBR]
04 The children and the sleeping saint
[6'22'' • 10,2Mb • VBR]
05 Sad song for Isis
  [9'33'' • 15,2Mb • VBR]
06 A bedtime story
  [2'38'' • 3,62Mb • VBR]
07 Midnight procession
  [8'56'' • 11,4Mb • VBR]
08 The world revolves around the pendulum
  [2'32'' • 3,82Mb • VBR]
  [PDF-Zip • 2,23Mb]
  all tracks + artwork
  [Zip • 56,5Mb]


«Anyone who has spent any time exploring the world of netaudio will quickly realise just how much music that can be loosely termed ‘ambient’ exists out there; so much in fact that it’s hard to find the really good stuff amongst the masses of generic soundscapes and atmospheric synth doodlings. Makram Abu-Shakra and Travis McAlister’s ‘The Fade Out Room’, the latest release from the ever-excellent Test Tube netlabel, stands out from the pack by embracing a range of sounds and sonic expressions quite different from most of their peers.

This is a haunting, disorientating collaboration crafted over three years, that demonstrates the pair’s shared history in improvisation and minimalist experimentation. The album achieves that rare feat of sounding like it was recorded almost by accident; it’s far too weird to be described as background music, but it does carry an edge of mystery, as if it is telling only part of a story. The opening track ‘The Room Lies Still During Twilight’ is one of the most unsettling pieces of music I’ve heard all year – an off-key, old-fashioned organ plays in the distance, somewhere behind a wall of static and crackles, abruptly disappearing into silence every 30 seconds or so before resuming its mournful refrain.

The organ returns in ‘From The End Of The Hallway’, sounding like something you might hear in a 1930s music hall in some horrific Lovecraftian alternate reality. That track is about as melodic as the album gets – pieces such as ‘Clogstone Blue’ and ‘The Children And The Sleeping Saint’ are uncomfortable mixes of echoes, found sounds and feedback. The standout track is ‘Sad Song For Isis’, which drags a evil, vibrating saw sound across nearly 10 nightmarish minutes, a drunken, fractured hip-hop beat fading in and out of the murk.

Test Tube have maintained a consistently impressive output for over six years now, and ‘The Fade-out Room’ is one of their strongest releases for some time. The description on the Test Tube website suggests that this is a one-off collaboration from Abu-Shakra and McAlister – a shame if so, as this album shows that the pair have a rare musical chemistry. But either way, it’s a potent, challenging listen; the soundtrack to a bad dream perhaps, but great music.»
- Daniel [Netlabelism] / January 27, 2012

«What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a sonic photograph of ages past. M A S (aka Makram Abu-Shakra) and Travis McAlister, both talented multi-instrumentalists, have come together to create an atmosphere that hearkens back to the scratchy phonograph records of the early 20th century complete with subtle organ swells, a tinkling music box, a plastic trumpet and hints of old jazz. This is equal parts music production and sound design as the tracks invoke melancholic moods, while painting an aural portrait of empty rooms, jangling cans, flooded basements, peeling wallpaper, and faulty film projectors.
It’s creepy, sublime music that gets under your skin. Partly because, like a broken record, it purposely repeats not just phrases, but whole sections of certain tracks immediately after a fadeout.
The Fade Out Room makes a perfect soundtrack for a gothic psychological thriller involving necromancy, or even an artsy indie film about mental illness. In its own way, it is a beautifully crafted piece that is haunting — both literally and figuratively.»
- Lionel [Audio Stylites] / January 23, 2012

«The opening track of M A S and Travis McAlister’s The Fade Out Room, “The room lies still during twilight” uses abrupt silences and ‘faulty’ instruments to create a hauntingly rough ambient album which is both old and new at the same time. Throughout the album, each track builds on this tension of the ambient and the unexplained. From the liner notes, it appears that the duo spent three years improvising on various instruments including bells, an optigan, a music box and others. There is a soothing feeling in The Fade Out Room which is created not through synths drones but rather by a familiarity with the music and its construction, which, of course, the listener is totally unfamiliar with. The Fade Out Room, in short, is outrageously strong and should not be missed.»
- David Nemeth [Acts of Silence] / December 19, 2011

« back to releases page


Get the Flash Player to see this player.


©2011 M A S
©2011 aeriola::behaviour
©2010 M A S & Travis McAlister
©2011 test tube

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.

How to download music tracks:

• right click the individual links to the files;
• choose 'save as' and point it to the place of your preference (eg: your 'desktop');
• single click usually works, too.
How to play music tracks:

• choose an appropriate mp3/ogg player (we recommend Winamp) and install it on your system;
• usually, you double click the music files to play them, but you might want to follow the program's specific instructions.

(cc) 2004-2017 '| test tube [m¨c] • code and design aeriola::behaviour • this website prefers Firefox