Lasse Passage

Stop Making Sense and Start Making Success - Vol. 1

[2x12-inch; Self-Released]

Collecting four volumes of a series can always seem a chore of fruition – both for artist and listener. How do separate ideas fit within the context of one concrete object, and is it worth the journey for the ADD addled generation most apt to devour music in morsels rather than one family style course. Hopefully you are gifted a sharp mind and blessed with endurance because Stop Making Sense and Start Making Success - Vol. 1 is well worth the long road. Exquisitely packaged and yet simplistic in said window dressing, the music within mimics the same balance from gorgeously layered drone to stripped pop-folk. And each volume, while serving a special purpose and able to stand on their own, are best held in one grand square. But that’s the fun dichotomy at play throughout Lasse Passage’s biggest musical moment. Things that seem to stack on each other; sounds, ideas and presentation that sway at the gentlest breath, somehow tumble into place rather than crash and scatter. It’s the same talent similarly minded artists from a decade ago (The Robot Ate Me, The Microphones/early Mount Eerie) were able to deliver. The difference is Lasse Passage has released this music beforehand, so expectations could precede. But it’s likely that you have not heard THIS music before and that’s for the best. You’ll want to embrace it wholly, despite a run time and four trips to the phonograph that will make you think twice. But each trip grows easier and more eager, because Stop Making Sense and Start Making Success - Vol. 1 is the goods. The real good shit. The same innocent beauty captured by its ancestors with all the surprise and intrigue that eradicates those distracted moments of modern living.

Links: Lasse Passage



[CS; Eidertown]

I call myself an audio Gumshoe but I’m more of a seeker than an investigator these days. My mission? To find the perfect cassette tape. Yes, a lot of CS productions have come close, I admit that, yet I feel the surface has barely been scratched. To paraphrase Dirk Diggler super-loosely, We Can Make a Difference With This Music; This Music Can Be Important. But where does it start? Hell, why not with Augenmusik’s self-titled effort on Eidertown? Augenmusik is tight and absolutely surging with activity despite the fact that not a single sound will be identifiable to your ears (unless you’re a serious audio detective, in which case I’d be glad to bequeath you the Gumshoe handle if you can prove your mettle). It’s like a long, swaying ride on a boat in choppy water, the radio going in and out and sea creatures all around, waiting for your watery demise like vultures in the sky. When a cassette like Augenmusik comes across my desk my first instinct is to listen to a few minutes, just to get a feel as to where I should place said tape, and when. With Aug-Mu, however, I found it impossible to take a break. Once I was sucked into its vacuum-sealed maw I could’t think about anything except finishing the side so I could flip it over and experience Side B. That’s how it SHOULD be, folks. I know drone is ubiquitous but there’s shouldn’t be so much time to twiddle thumbs when a tape is playing. I want action, heat, resonance, friction, an escape from the drudgery of daily 9-5 living, and I don’t want to sit through 60 minutes of exposition to get there. Hey that’s me. I like butter in my ass and listening to people jam on tape; is that so wrong? Think Caboladies, the experimental spaces in between songs on that first Racebannon record, and, most of all, think about how much work it must have taken to render these sounds so unrecognizable. No fake mustaches and/or fedoras here; if you want a thinly veiled MicroKorg composition drop in on a Soft Metals show. Another lovely product from Eidertown, limited in scope, yet ready to take the world by storm if people would just plug in and LISten. Will you take the ride with Augenmusik? I hope so, dawg.

Links: Augenmusik


Trading Basics

[LP/CS; Inflated]

Upon the first listen to Trading Basics, the RIYL list just began pouring out of my mouth; overspilling through my ears; bleeding from my eyes. The metallic sting of Polvo, the guttural pounding of Arab on Radar and the mechanical frenzy of Women. Truly an album that trades on nearly three generations of angular experimentation, Palm is the sort of distorted retro-newism that evades all those name checks that came frothing forth in that first listen. That they’re still there, but no longer the crutch necessary to define the brilliant mess of technical skill and impassioned playing that drags its beaten limbs through the Trading Basics minefield is why I (and, by extension, you) will keep coming back. Whatever qualms can be found (the production may be a bit too snappy, particularly on the snare and songs with a more echoing vocal) are immediately dismissed because those decisions only amplify the controlled chaos. And that’s what each Palm song splays out within its oddly timed melodies. A brilliant burst of musical history intentionally distorted and rearranged into a new pattern of sound that retains familiar quirks and freak admiration but stops well short of Paganism. Nothing is a symbol or a call to return to some imagined precipice of superiority. It’s just a weird rock record in a climate where there aren’t nearly enough, because people are busy trying to capitalize on a fad or lost in a nostalgic thought. Trading Basics, in all its broken glory, does neither. Yes, it has a lot in common with certain bands that will brim to the brain’s surface, but listen longer and ignore it as best you can. Palm have found their own “niche” (for what it’s worth) with Trading Basics. So it’s only a matter of 15-20 years until they join the Olympus of RIYL spewings.

Links: Inflated


Dust Bunny


I try not to get too nostalgic because I realize I’ve been reviewing for almost as long as many of you have been alive, but Twink is one of those weird cases where I covered his stuff like, 12 years ago, then lost track. I had assumed the sands of time swallowed his ambitions whole (hey remember Annuals?) but, turns out, he’d been tinkering around with his sound all along, refining it to the point of razor-sharpness. Now, Dust Bunny arrives at my door, packaged as lovingly as possible (seriously, take notes y’all: ‘fragile’ on package; tape applied liberally for a tight seal; two cardboard stiffeners, one on each side of LP, taped to prevent escape; AND, most importantly, vinyl removed from jacket to avoid seam splits), and I’m falling in love with Twink’s all-encompassing aural environments all over again. I should say that, for the record (no pun intended), I’m not hearing a TON of difference between Dust Bunny and older efforts like Ice Cream Truckin’ and A Very Fine Adventure. But that doesn’t mean the innovation isn’t there; it’s just been awhile and as time passes specific details turn to mealy mush, particularly when one reviews wayyy too much music like I do. Suffice to say, I can’t rightly remember all that much of Twink’s past save the eye-popping art and, as always, use of toy pianos. What I hear this time around is a lot of sprightly, bouncy beats, stuff you might hear on a Warp release, buttressed by more restrained, percussion-less entries that seem to aim for more of a contemplative feel. While the latter might not get you pumping your fists and dancing, it foreshadows what I see as a successful career providing the soundtracks to movies. Who knows, maybe he’s already doing it, he’s a resourceful guy by all accounts. Point is, you can’t go wrong with this guy; two in the pink, one in the Twink never sounded so appetizing (can’t believe I just wrote that). While there’s a sense of wide-eyed exploration to his material and always has been, he’s also a serious guy who gets things DoNe. I respect that, and if you give him his due by endowing your collection with Dust Bunny, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised whether you’re a longtime Twink tweaker or just a punter off the street. There’s nothing like his groove, sorta like that Mike Patton/Kaada collab from years back. (Remember that amazing thing? So inspirational.) Think Twink.

Links: Twink

Dagir Du

Gloom Fortress

[CS; Entertainment Systems]

Joseph Morris opened the doors on his shiny new label Entertainment Systems earlier this year and has already stockpiled a nice little collection, even selling out a few titles including this one he recorded himself under the “Dagir Du” guise. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Strauss, you asshole. Here you are writing about a tape that came out in March, is completely sold out, and what, you expect us to care? First, yes, I do expect you to care, and second, yes, I am mortified for how long it’s taken me to sit down at the old typewriter to scribble some notes here (along with a case full of others I am working though). But words are deserved, so let’s get to it. And look, I found a copy for you, so quite your whining. Morris’ expansive music is immediately enrapturing, pulling the listener in with a warm, spacious ambience while keeping things well within a creepy nega-zone that feels very subtly evil. This push/pull feel is something pretty easy to get swept up in, and a nice stage for the detail work Morris so clearly puts into his music to shine through. Slowly seismic waves of bass carry delicate synth melodies along a forward trajectory, and jittery glitch inflections twinkle in the distance with the entire mix wrapped up in a warm hum. The overall feel here is very space-documentary, drifting melodies through what feels like deep, infinite voids with subtle analog synth flourishes that flash like solar flares off a passing star along the way. But it’s those little extras that will make your arm hairs stand on end – the scraping sounds of a metal file, the incessant tapping and clicking sounds, and then of course those submerged intelligible whispers… it’s all there to haunt the listener through what might otherwise be the work of another run-of-the-mill synth-scaper.

Links: Entertainment Systems

Inca Eyeball

Barry White Comes

[LP; sPLeeNCoFFiN]

Sixteen years is a long absence, and long regarded act Inca Eyeball are ready to fill the void with anything but silence. Barry White Comes is 83 songs of half-formed poetry vomits met with equally frugal attempts at instrumentation. It’s a tough scene to re-enter, even as pioneers of songs the length of vinegar strokes. So many of the tree branches that came from the Inca Eyeball root have flowered into magnificent variants. Mad Nanna has taken the production and nonsense into long form masterpieces and befuddled lyrics and sour notes. And myriad bands riff on the one minute song, perhaps hitting a more elegant form. But as fulfilling as modern takes are on the modernist cynicism of Inca Eyeball in the interim, it’s great to have the OG bulb flourishing after a long hibernation where squirrels and insects nibbled away at its form. Though chunks may be taken out, Barry White Comes eventually settles into a rhythm that, for all its disconcerting noises, feels good. I doubt that’s what Inca Eyeball really want to achieve – creating comfort noise – but considering how borderless the band appears, it’s nice to find a knothole to curl up inside. Turns out the album’s art, a champagne flute bubbling with a few of what appears to be Barry White’s best swimmers, is far more disturbing even after staring at it for 83 songs and (not so) many minutes.

Links: Inca Eyeball - sPLeeNCoFFiN


To the Centre Of the City In the Night

[CS; Invisible City]

J.M. Da Silva, or Luciernaga, trades on a murky brand of ambient drone that squeezes spiritual elements out of the art form. I didn’t even realize that was possible until several years back, when that Riceboy Sleeps 2XLP woke me up to the possibilities. Thing is though, I’ve heard a select few manage the same feat and, what’s worse for my particular situation, I can’t rightly describe what renders one amb-dro a religious experience and another an average tape-pile piece of fodder. The conclusion I’ve come to is that the tape-flippers who are tugging my soul’s strings like that are simply working harder than the rest to bring their vision to fruition. Luciernaga makes it look easy, but he’s pulling levers and sprinkling sugars you almost certainly aren’t aware of, the relatively thin production of To the Centre Of the City In the Night belying its dense, multi-layered nature. You witness an imaginary city coming to life, care of a simple brew of synth, guitar, and voice, and as the compositions slowly take shape the mind can only latch onto small details (the fade-out of an element you didn’t know existed, the high-pitched synth emanations that stand out in the mix, the whirls of sunshine crowding “Sleeping Green-Eyed Girl”). And that’s easily enough to become absorbed in the mainframe of To the Centre Of the City In the Night, circular enough to fool you into listening through two or three times but memorable enough to remain saved in your mental data banks for life. Sold out from the source, and at only 50 copies, why’d it take so long? (Speaking of which, this review is long overdue and actually began life as a column entry for another site, only now finding new life as a Cerberus post; thanks for the patience, Mr. Luciernaga!)

Links: Invisible City

Nicolas Bernier & Francisco Meirino


[LP; Misanthropic Agenda]

Nicolas Bernier and Francisco Meirino come together to create a new genre of Fiction steeped in wicked lashes of ear-lapping noise on this LP, and if you got the striped edition (limited to 100) you’ve experienced what I believe is one of the best front-to-back audio/visual packages released this year. You can drop the needle on any spot; Fiction is one long BUZZZzzz of cricket-chirping activity, its static electricity powerful enough to blast down trees if charged and shot through a canon. If you enjoyed the way Mudboy whirled new worlds together, not to mention M. Geddes, A. Cortini and the like, take notice and be ready to take things up a notch once the warp effect midway through Side B hits. This is light speed, this is ludicrous speed, this is my mind tunneling through to the other side, only to discover the exact same life, only multiplied and spiraling slowly like a kaleidoscope turning in your fingers. This is what those DMT freaks are feeling when they suddenly find themselves submerged in hot sand past their headz; you might have to claw your way out of that tunnel, friend. That’s Meirino’s piece, “Fiction M.” “Fiction B” is Bernier’s beast, and it takes shape gradually, like an inevitable tide bound to wash away civilization. It’s a foamy, misty end, your life coagulating before your eyes. It’s like that fight scene at the end of Commando, large metal pipes bursting with steam. All this, of course, is Fiction. If you want the real story, contact Misanthropic Agenda.

Links: Misanthropic Agenda

Dead Neighbors

Dead Neighbors

[CS; Fall Break]

The prism of Athens, Georgia is skewed by a few of the bigger bands and movements we’ve come to accept as the college town’s canon without really understanding the heritage of said city. But when my mind wonders to Athens, it does not directly connect to R.E.M. or the Elephant 6 collective; rather, I think of Mitch Easter. It’s not that Easter is really tied to Athens, but rather the southern college regional sound as a whole through much of the 80’s and into the early 90’s. So when I hear Athens’ Dead Neighbors, I find myself transported back to those eager, brisk times when music spoke to a lifestyle most of America ignored. Despite recent political “leadership” and social inventions that perpetuate “culture”, I still feel the separation and isolationism of Reaganomics. I still find the country largely broken down by regional alliances. A host of southern fried revisionists have grown in the 30-odd years since Athens announced its national presence on Americana, but Dead Neighbors feels more closely aligned with those “ancient” times than the current spate of frantic rock that has come from the region (Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama) for which it stands. The band’s self-titled seems like a fine compliment to early I.R.S. records and Let’s Active pop eclecticism. There’s a real edge that goes beyond the lo(wer)-fi production, that has an airy early 80’s quality. It even feels right at home on cassette, because it’s one hell of a way to burn through a long car ride on the old college touring circuit. Yet Dead Neighbors do not shy away from pushing the boundaries of their inspirations. The cassette contains single-lettered interludes that crunch, quake and moan that don’t so much break up the tape into three sections, but rather work to keep the band grounded in the now before it becomes too nostalgic for a certain few. While my mind may incorrectly wander to the Athens that was culturally built on gossip of the time rather than real historical content, Dead Neighbors is a real reminder of the album’s place and time. The “more things change” tangents that prove to be more true than false. Post-punk is alive and well, Athens is no longer a solitary Petri dish, and misconceptions can work in a band’s favor. Which is why I would not be surprised to see Dead Neighbors on Merge with an Easter-produced record before too long. Or blazing their own trail because the paths that once existed – stuck in time – are no longer the only method of leaving a lasting impression. Take for instance this tape. None of this exposition is really necessary. There’s a sample below to prove it.

Links: Fall Break

Jannick Schou


[LP; Experimedia]

I’ve been enjoying Experimedia’s grandiose vinyl submissions to this column for years, and I think this Jannick Schou LP is my favorite of the lot. It’s like a rainstorm amid a slightly (just enough to throw you off if you think you’re gonna start that body-movin’) off-kilter techno template, constant percussion nipping the drone bug in the bud and carrying the action from segue to segue. And this IS an ambient-drone artist, just one that understands the way the wind blows. It’s time to start organizing these roaming drones into manageable rows and columns; don’t worry, you won’t lose any of your artistic independence, you’ll just gain a ton of leverage when you pile your comet-showers overtop a rhythm that can lend them new life. Fabrik, perhaps, actually required these rhythms I speak of, as the rest of the record’s contents are so spur-of-the-moment it’s impossible to catalog everything mentally. Lasers squirt to safety as whippits and explosions of steam cover all in a fine coat of warm mist, like a forest on a summer morning when you’re just rolling out of your sweaty sleeping bag. I know there’s no dancing to be had in Schou’s world; but if you could dance to tracks like the one I’m rolling to now it would erode all the distinct flavor of the dish. These aren’t straight beats because a slight shuffle augments their four-on-the-floor, only slowed-down, nature; static electricity is crackling overhead, and the rhythms are leading the way to safety. Follow the blobs of ‘thump’, bumping like parade bass drums pounded by over-sized mallets while textures shift and thread into each other in the foreground. The one problem with this LP: I can’t imagine listening to it during the day. Hell, I’m sitting in my record room at midnight and I have to wear sunglasses just to create a fitting mood for the atmospheric swirls of crystallized human pain and longing. Fabrik (not to be confused with that series, that ever-hyped series) leaves nothing to chance. If you listen to it, you will be moved, changed, or at least implanted with an ear worm you won’t find easy to shake. Congratulations to Experimedia’s Jeremy Bible for his continued success as both a label and distro (though I’m told this is the last LP for awhile; ha we’ll see, Bible’s ambitious to a fault) and, in particular, for having the vision to sign Schou like the prized specimen he is.

Links: Experimedia

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.