Joshua Medina & Paurl Walsh

Joshua Medina & Paurl Walsh

[CS; Hanged Man]

Sometimes a record will slip through the cracks. This is such a record, and for missing out on its breathtaking beauty and simplistic majesty for all these months, allow me this very public apology. The work of Joshua Medina & Paurl Walsh is restrained and unbound. The combination of isolated guitar and thick effects is nothing new, except Medina’s guitar – in its quiet reflection – is far from isolated; and Walsh’s wash of keyboards, samples and effects dare not swallow silence but rather invite it. Not only do Medina and Walsh play to each other’s strengths, they play to a whole genre’s best qualities. No good idea is cut off to fit into the mold of time, yet nothing drags out beyond its apex. Again, restrained. Not too far removed from the synergy of moody duos such as A Winged Victory for the Sullen, there is far more intent to engage guitar in its most traditional elements while still pressing its advantage toward the loudest and most feral of its instinctual inclinations. Yet Medina and Walsh never raise their voices too loudly or reach for to the booming roars their musical peers often aspire. This is proving a difficult record to put critique to because there is nothing worth adding. It slipped through the cracks and all I can offer is an apology and a plea. To anyone reading this, do not let it fall through your fingers. Do not place a bookmark or write it down and wait for a more appropriate time to listen. Take it as it is, as it comes.

Links: Hanged Man

Talibam!

Free World

[CS; Körper / Leib]

The warped duo of Talibam! continue to make the most discordant music(?). And now the influence is stretching its wavy gravy arm across the Atlantic, taken into grasp by Italian label Körper / Leib. And that’s all you need to know. Because if you’re at all familiar with Talibam!, the only other nugget of information is you know that what to expect is the unexpected. It seems the duo continue to move further away from anything resembling the ethos of jazz, rather focusing on the logos. Some may call it meta but seriously, don’t even. It’s a sin to the wonky ADHD of Talibam!. Though Free World does tend toward the metaphysical – the essence of jazz rather than the execution – it’s also street music, free form art and a handful of other outsider scenes smooshed together in the band’s patty-caking hands. Nobs turn, beats drop, kitchen sinks explode. All in an album’s work for a band challenging what music is supposed to be and how we are supposed to listen.

Links: Körper / Leib

Yves Malone

Golden Twilight of the Black Sun

[CS; A Giant Fern]

We move closer and closer to the scenario that the larger musical world woefully dodged decades ago: with the synth resurgence comes the opportunity to bridge the avant with the popular. Some artists are inching closer to find that magical formula, where synthesizer doesn’t just become a boring melodic trope along the lines of Falco or Flock of Seagulls, but it’s a thin line. Yves Malone is finding the right forward momentum. Golden Twilight of the Black Sun maintains an experimental brood throughout its length, and yet there are moments of pure pop bliss that weave in and out of its dark motif. Malone is wise to keep track length succinct (nothing eclipses the 4 minute mark), yet the album’s fractured tracks flow elegantly into each other to tell a larger story. While 7 rather brief songs may seem confusing to people who prefer such grand thoughts clustered into 15-20 minute exercises of will, Malone has the right idea in the short attention span theater of pop pulp. Yes, arguments can be made that such exercises stretch our patient muscle but sometimes, we just want that indulgent snack of pop-sized bites. Here it is, with a lot less calories but certainly not lacking the rich textures and fulfilling umami of synth’s best experiments.

Links: Yves Malone - A Giant Fern

Dommel Mosel

Crybaby

[CS; Happenin]

Hearing the sort of rock trek that unfurls throughout Crybaby is a telepathic transmission from summer youthfulness in the early 90’s. Sitting in a tincan room, sweating from the lack of air conditioner despite every available fan pointed at my body. The stereo’s turned loud to drown out the competing sounds of the (S)NES. The modest CD collection exhausted, I put in a mixtape and out comes the most comforting sounds of rock and pop at the time. Yes, I’m calling Dommel Mosel’s Crybaby a modern equivalent of a mid 90’s mixtape and if you don’t take it as the highest compliment, I assume you’re some Millennial grasping your iPod Touch while remaining completely out of touch with the wonders of navigating various genres to create a compelling mix of highs and lows and Nick Hornby pseudo-shit. Music has soul, it tells a story. Sometimes a band is able to tell theirs, often times we project ours onto those melodies and lyrics. It’s the same tug and pull with Crybaby. It checks off all those old boxes without nostalgic histrionics or stylized dialogue. It just sounds timeless; a pile of pop-rock ditties that grow with you. And sure, the trajectory of growth is slowed for those of us in advanced age but damn it if I don’t willfully dream of those too-hot days with not a care but scrounging up the money to buy more music. Scour your couch cushions and buy Crybaby. Too bad I can’t compel to jump on your bike and take the shortcut through the cornfield to the record store – because it’s likely you’re going to have to nab this the newfangled way – but you can participate in that ancient teenage ritual spiritually.

Links: Happenin

Mahjoop

Mahjoop

[CS; ((Cave))]

Never a gigantic Pink Floyd fan but certainly a college stoner, it was also what was underneath the Gilmore solos and Waters attitudinal shifts that occasionally pushed me to listen to the band. It was the earlier albums with Barrett that really struck, but it was the time between Barrett’s exit and the explosion of Dark Side that the band’s rhythmic heartbeat and art school tendencies were more fun than the guitar wankery and sociopolitical jabs. I don’t know if Mahjoop feels the same way, but this self-titled album certainly has the magic of those background experiments without the over-produced menagerie of what became stadium rock. In fact, Mahjoop find more common ground not in UK psychedelia but in early 70s jazz and fusion. Though Mahjoop never bear hugs either genre, it does capture the soulfulness of the era. Rarely does Mahjoop seem contrived, but rather the product of free spirits. Yet it maintains the sheen of more “acceptable” forms of experimentation that is hidden beneath some glossy goop. But that gloss is missing, as if the engineer just forgot to include that in the rough mixes. For that, we’re gifted with an impactful tape of background ruminations gone to the fore. It’s the real dark side, my friends. No blacklights and strobes needed.

Links: ((Cave))

Golden Gardens

Mirror of Silver

[Cassingle; Self-Release]

For more than 6 years, I lived a stone’s throw away from Golden Gardens Park, a rough beachfront that was as cold and refreshing as it sounds. A piece of quiet on the edge of Ballard. Between it and walks to the Chittenden Locks to watch passenger and freight boats move between waterways, there was solace to be found among natures as a neighborhood was gentrifying before the historic community’s eyes. It’s this basis that boils beneath the Seattle-duo Golden Gardens, blending the serenity of nature with the hectic pace of progress. An album that divides its two selections into a dancing ballads for a world advancing much faster than we’re able to process, yet one that still treasures the lore of old. So much like Ballard, Golden Gardens are built on decades worth of the mythology glossed over by new tech: a bit of techno, house and disco bubbling beneath its new facade of droning melodies and strong pop vocals. The cassingle’s title track fights with its pop inclinations, before giving way to them. It’s not bad; sometimes the “experimental” set is looking to bust loose and dance. B-side “When Your Tears Have Drowned You,” is where Golden Gardens reflect the changing atmosphere of a city at odds with its past and future. The band lays down its dancing alms and produces a sensual composition that never climaxes, afraid it might scare away the old patrons of this growing neighborhood, and yet “When Your Tears…” should never climax because Golden Gardens – the band as well as the park – are in constant flux. There is no end to gentrification, not even the limits of sky and law. And in that moment of clarity does Golden Gardens (the band) becomes Golden Gardens (the park). A living plot of land that will always change both by the decision of man and nature. Seattle has a real reflection of itself, and a nice one-two punch of drone-age dance to match.

Links: Golden Gardens

500mg

To the Firmament

[LP; Drawing Room]

It has been 8 years since Michael Gibbons has graced us with a full-length work from his 500mg pseudonym. As the myth and power of Bardo Pond has grown in that time, it’s fair to say Gibbons’ previous album, Apocatastisis, has been less rewarded. Which is a shame, as it’s a wonderful example of how talented the brothers Gibbons are, even if it’s just through Michael’s solitary prism. But we return nigh a decade later to an even richer tapestry of ideas and sounds with To the Firmament. Suite 1 is a modest revisit of the past. “Seven Eyes” and “The Smoke Inside Me” speak to Gibbons’ past solo outings, but deviations in sound and technique occur. “Red Eyed Howler” is a scaled down version of Bardo Pond electricity.”Qumram” is an elegant composition that has an “I’m Your Captain” classic rock majesty surrounding it, yet this lead-off to Suite 2 is hardly an indicator of what to expect on the back half of To the Firmament. The combo of “Kesaubo” and Sister Morphine” are an amalgamation of all Gibbons’ work, and yet have a particular style or grace in their jagged rock authenticity that makes them somehow unfamiliar. And it’s how To the Firmament makes its lasting impression. It eviscerates the turntable, blows out the speakers, and yet in the static wall it also speaks softly, a simple statement of intent with “Trying to Get There.” It’s where we’re all trying to go, and in 8 years Gibbons found it somehow – even if it’s just in the 40 minutes of this record.

Links: Drawing Room

Henry Knollenberg

The Neptune Social Animation, Pt. 2

[CS; 5cm]

Hesitant to combine two rather opposite fellows into one entity, Henry Knollenberg has created an album that is Steven Hawking and Gary Wilson breaking into an animal lab to free lab geese. But the lab is just a psychological projection, and you’re not really wearing any pants and it’s the last day of high school and you’re 43 and balding. It’s the sort of nightmarish subconsciousness that filters itself throughout The Neptune Social Animation, Pt. 2. A strange symphony of half-thoughts and non-sequiturs that quiz the listener about nothing, but the vibrant entertainment of the robotic messaging and rhythmic sway of the electronic melodies lock us in that projected laboratory. We are experimenting on ourselves, Knollenberg providing the musical Rorschach. A real life paranoid android.

Links: 5cm

Daniel Klag

Permutations

[CS; Chill Mega Chill]

The amazing thing about ambient and drone is that unless you are explicitly told by the artist, you never really never know where what you’re hearing is actually coming from. That is, of course, unless someone tells you, which (of course) is often the case if you’re a reviewer, and is (of course) the case here as we take a closer look at Daniel Klag’s newest tape for the Chill Mega Chill label. Here’s a young synther-droner from New York who told me that this work is composed of processed piano recordings, taking listeners deeper inside the instrument than many have likely dared to travel, down to the outer edges of the sound waves themselves, and maybe even passed that into some kind of ultra-deep negaverse of sound and harmony. The black hole you’re looking at (or hearing) as waves of crunchy audio roll by is abyssal, awe-inspiring, self-awareness-raising stuff. He described the process as melting away the source material to reveal its “soft interior,” although what I’m hearing is a bit more menacing and bleak than that might sound. He’s right about the peeling-back of the tone’s outer layer, though, the porcelain sheen of the piano removed revealing a grim truth of what lies beneath. So instead of overtones, what we’re hearing is actually undertones, or maybe inner-tones, the work a true permutation of one of music’s building blocks to unveil a sort of sub-music for the listener. There’s no ascension or transcendence here, it’s all about what’s within and below, which is an area of darkness to be sure, but also a new, perhaps unexplored territory that comes with its own set of wondrous, fascinating experiences.

Links: Daniel Klag - Chill Mega Chill

Christina Carter

L’Etoile de Mer

[LP; Emerald Cocoon]

Carter’s first non-Charalambides foray is finally reissued on vinyl, and yet is nearly as limited and hard to catch as the original tape release. Nonetheless, Emerald Cocoon has done much to set this neglected butterfly free once again. It may look like a moth at first as it struggles to shed its dust and fly free from its dark home, but as the album opens up, so too do Carter’s wings. What is brave about L’Etoile de Mer is the emptiness it embraces. Soaring further into the open sky, Carter’s solo electric guitar slowly flutters and waits for the rippled air to meet its wings. As soon as she has freed herself from the binds of metamorphosis, it is her solitary voice that greets the strong wind and basking sun. It’s Carter stripped bare – and though it has become a trademark of Carter’s best work 15 years on, hearing her first outing with the gift of foresight only exposes the vulnerability and triumphant nature of L’Etoile. To hear this through fresh ears again would be most wonderful, and this packaging brings a new set. The magnificent splendor of freedom.

Links: Emerald Cocoon
  

News

  • Recent
  • Popular

Cerberus seeks to document the spate of home recorders and backyard labels pressing limited-run LPs, 7-inches, cassettes, and objet d'art with unique packaging and unknown sound. We love everything about the overlooked or unappreciated. If you feel you fit such a category, email us here.