Gut Nose

Vicetopia

[12-inch; Styles Upon Styles]

I love the way “Difficult to Escape,” from Gut Nose’s Vicetopia 12-inch, kicks off. It’s almost like a how-to for aspiring electronic producers: Start with a little hi-hizzie and an ominous bass rumble not unlike that of Dead Fader; increase volume; add another cymbal sample; kick in that four-floorin’ beat; sprinkle in hand drums; garnish with additional sample materials and you have a composition both simple and complex, heady yet fluid enough to force even the mega-reluctant into motion. In other words, when you reduce “Difficult to Escape” to its components, it doesn’t seem altogether unique. Put them all together, however, and you have an electronic witch’s brew that’ll cast a damn spell on you. “Mystic Soul” follows suit with a scratchier, less up-front take, with more experiments curling up its edges (though we still get that ubiquitous, insistent straight-beat). The title track skillfully upends the formula, however, dabbling in a slower tempo, audio sprinklers that spray right in your face, some rhythmic elements that occasionally stutter over themselves, and an ominous stretch of low-end underneath that glares out at your ear beneath the heavy kicks. Don’t even get me started on the myriad echoes and throbs to come; you’ll have to suss (which stands for Styles Upon StyleS) those out for yourself.

Links: Styles Upon Styles

Derek Monypeny

How Can Be

[CS; Ambivalent Soap]

I am devoted to Ambivalent Soap as I once was to Stunned. I never knew I had a hole to fill but Ambivalent Soap has done so. Why, I ask rhetorically to whoever may read this? When you listen to the latest Derek Monypeny that has sneaked out, you’ll know. A contemplative but never dull guitar exposition that is as much Stephen Molyneux as it is Sir Richard Bishop. Guitar may be the primary instrument, but Monypeny does not shy from incorporating its secondary noises along with percussion and field recordings. Though “Peace Be Upon You” sticks out as a departure from the album’s first four ragas, it is nonetheless instrumental in cementing the Eastern feel of How Can Be. But don’t mistake that has Beatles Shankar Krishna bullshit hype. Meditative, yes, stoned musings on a feeling rather than being, never. It’s fun to listen to Monypeny reconcile his inspirations into a cohesive statement, which you get the feeling has yet to come. As a first foot forward on the Spanish Steps, this is as firm a planting as one could expect.

Links: Ambivalent Soap

Suspirians

Suspirians

[LP; Super Secret]

Suspirians start with a lot of the vibes found on a recent reissue of a Blood Robots record I grew fond of last year (on Water Wing Recs), what with the small snippets of synth, all-girl lineup, and intense nature of many of the riffs. But this Austin quartet bring that sound to a new generation and brush on a less antagonistic, over-the-top mindset. There are passages wherein (“Whatcha Do,” for example) it seems they’ve departed from this motif, fuzz ablaze and guitars/synths feeling out their boundaries, but it’s all contained within a modicum of relative post-punk cool. At their core Suspirians are in line with old-school punk, a bit of older rock (“Buddy Holly” ain’t a song title for nothin’), and modern-day gloom merchants like Lorelle Meets The Obsolete and A Place To Bury Strangers. Such blends might have been sacrilegious years ago, but now the kids are all agog for it and these cats have no problem givin’ it to ‘em (nor do Super Secret, a label seemingly awash in quality post-pizz). Carry on, sweet Suspirians.

Links: Super Secret

VVAQRT

Detainee

[12-inch; Hot Releases]

Once or twice a year I get a huge, intimidating package from Hot Releases Recs that thrills me to no end, its contents almost always introducing me to a genre I didn’t know existed. As a conduit for bigger labels to feed from (do they get a percentage of that shit? I hope so) the imprint also seems to uncover a lot of experiments teeming with life that a lot of us wouldn’t ever hear if not for their efforts, Haves & Thirds in particular a blinding beam of light I won’t soon forget. So I have to ask, Hot Releases main man Karl Raymar, What is up with VVAQRT¹? What does the band name mean²? How do they fit into the continuum of indie music³? I could go on and on, but since this review can’t last forever (Tew bad fer yew!) I’ll attempt to answer a few of the questions I so rudely foisted upon Mr. Raymar: ¹A lot. ² The Net says ‘Vak-art.’ ³ Somewhere between Broadcast (RIP Trish Keenan), Lemon Kittens, Ashrae Fax, The Blow, and your favorite self-help computer program for expanding your sonic vocabulary; yep, I think that works…

Links: Hot Releases

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Songs of Forgiveness

[CS; BARO]

There is a fog around the edges. It’s soft, dull. It stays in place no matter how fast I run. All it does it accentuate the shinning sun as it pours down beyond my peripheral. It enlarges my love as I race toward them. This is our finale; a moment caught in time that we’ve been building up to. The producers thought it was expected but the test audiences loved it. So here I am, perpetually after an imaginary emotion. I dodge the credits as best as I can, but I dare not fight this triumph of a soundtrack. It caresses me longer than my co-star. It is the reason I have grown to love this white circled vision. A moment caught in time that will play out infinitely. My legs are tired. My heart has grown darker. My love seems to be getting further away. The white is beginning to discolor. The edges are beginning to grow frayed. But this endearing music is eternally uplifting. I no longer care for my other across the screen. I would jump out of this frame if I could. Perhaps my name will fall from the cascade and put an end to my repeated run. There’s never any resolution, just the faint embrace of a soundtrack that I can only enjoy in this time of grief. I am Sisyphus but at least I have a faint spark of hope. I forgive the damned director who cast me here for eternity. It is not his fault that they won’t stop watching. Their prying eyes on a romance they never chase themselves. I forgive them as well. A moment caught in time that will be our real end.

Links: Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - BARO

DeFeKT

Below Ground

[12-inch; Komisch]

A lot of the techno spinning out of the funnel cloud that is its recent re-emergence is of the straight-up, eyes-down, minimal variety that rides the bbbeat hard and takes few detours. If you think DeFeKT’s Below Ground fits that description, however, you’re not listening deeply enough. Take it to the next level and y’allz will find a lot to latch onto, from little splashes of effects, powerfully charged upswings in mood, clicks/clacks (for variety), nearly subliminal change-ups and washes only fellow DJs will be able to ID, counter-rhythms, and lazer beams. Not to mention the gift of absenteeism; DFKT will disappear, make you search for him. Then, he jumps out of the shadows with an apprehension-conquering beat and you just gotta rock it right off the rack if you have any blood pumping through that gangrenous membrane you call a body. More kicks for the kids, and another loft-party-in-a-bottle in the bank.

Links: DeFeKT

Bad History Month / Dust From 1000 Years

Famous Cigarettes

[CS; Exploding in Sound]

I don’t remember hearing Mason Lindhal, Elliott Smith, or Mt. Eerie the last time I listened to either Bad History Month OR Fat History Month, but it’s a welcome development that’s added a foggy sense of mystique to a sound I already was heavily invested in. Famous Cigarettes, a great-looking split with Dust From 1000 Years, connects the two young bands as they look to expand their whole “let’s forget about synths awhile” idea beyond the backyard-BBQ/indie/former-Goodwill arena. “You think you’re flying, but actually / You’re just falling in love”… That’s how BHM’s Jeff Meff starts his side before what seemed like a nice quiet evening turns into a roof cave-in, with some crashes and perhaps blood shed. It’s just a distraction, however. Soon we’re back in lone singer-songwriter territory, not wishing for the ‘old dayz’ because Meff actually is beginning to flesh his lil’ solo camper out a bit, buttressing it with percussion that comes and goes and me-thinks a few overdubs. And don’t forget the sadness. He’s definitely still feeling that. Not buckets-full, but he’s at the point in life wherein mortality is no longer a far-off abstraction but a real, to-be-dealt-with event. That’s my theory. Dust From 1000 Years, also, don’t seem too chipper. “I got a pack of smokes today / Somethin’ to do while I waste my life away” is not going to adorn a postcard anytime soon, is it? It’s like Marc Maron said: “Some people come to my show and say, ‘Hey, that guy’s funny!’ Others say, ‘I hope he’s OK.’” I kind of feel a bit like that right now, yet I know they’ll be fine because they’ve got a good band going, a place to turn to. How many of us can really say that, particularly those of us who are perhaps a few years older than these blokes? And how many bands can turn “Let’s party every day” into a morose statement? I also appreciate the little nods to Isaac Brock’s guitar playing, and the fact that both these bands are too young to have heard/heard of Duster.

Links: Exploding in Sound

Smokey Emery

Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. III

[CS; Holodeck]

For an artist now on his third installment of invisibility-influenced soundtracks, Daniel Hipolito is doing a poor job of hiding himself. But maybe I misrepresent? Perhaps it’s a misunderstanding? Likely, I just missed him. I go to give him a hug but my arms wrap right through his translucent body. I take three friends into the desert (this being the third release in this series and all). We encounter a melodic shrub and I say “farley farley farley farley a-farl” and cast out a bullet into the air. My compadre to my left chants his own magical nonsense and does the same. Our skeptical traveler doesn’t commit to the act, killing our invisible Hipolito. All that is left on his person (hard to search by discovered by the imprint left in the heavy sand) is this message. These were his cloak, the means by which his image was hidden from the sins of man. We came to him for help but alas, we did not commit to the bit. We failed to see the err of our ways before it was too late but let us hope this folly won’t unmask us all. Now that we have his secret, we must guard it as he did. We must embrace nothingness, forgo color, and hide away in these same forgotten deserts caught between dimensions and perceptions of which we are ignorant. This is our new way of life, as it was for the generation before who were also careless to guard it.

Links: Smokey Emery - Holodeck

Malayeen

Malayeen

[12-inch; Discrepant]

Albums like Malayeen’s self-titled effort have a way of re-configuring your expectations for audio going forward. You could a) Go on living your life as you are, vaguely fulfilled, or b) free yourself from the shackles of your favorite genre and learn something about yourself you didn’t know. For example: I didn’t realize I could so easily acquire a taste for Lebanese musics, much less Lebanese musics inspired by (or derived from interpretations of) Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid’s large body of work. Yet there it is, a new habit formed, a fresh affinity for hand-drums, modal guitars, and quirky keyboards developed. I’ve reviewed a lot of music from around the world for TMT, but rarely has actual World music crossed my desk, so when it does I’m always hankerin’ to tell you about it. Doubly so when it’s as exploratory as Malayeen, an album that cares not for any road that would have it as a driver, nor genre that would have it as a micro (strike my reference to ‘World music’ earlier). As much as I keep reading about Khorshid’s influence on this project, my ear instantly wraps around the synths for some reason. They’re hypnotic and swirly, like a zebra-striped Abba Zabba spinning taffy laps around the globe. Once again: Pleasure doing business with you, Discrepant.

Links: Discrepant

Wild Island

Be Kind

[CS; DoubleDotDash]

DoubleDotDash might be the most wildly inconsistent, content-wise, cassette label out there, but it also might be the most consistently rewarding. The label that brought you that INSANE Blackhoods tape as well as worthwhile releases from Workin Man Noise Unit and Personnel shifts gears yet again to bring you Wild Island’s Be Kind, an Amen Dunes-ish exodus into solo-songwriter territory that makes more sense emanating from a cave than the speakers of a record room. The fidelity of this release is perfect for the tape medium, as it hisses a bit, and sounds like the wind is blowing throughout, yet all the little accents Knight tosses in get fully fleshed out. These are songs you can reminisce to, or sit by a creek and space-out to on headphones, or watch the drifting clouds to, or fall in love to; it all makes sense as Knight constantly offers the listener fresh reasons to spelunk further down his hollow hole. The flip even provides some blurry, heavier instrumentals if you’re looking for something a little more electric (Remember, I said IF: I actually prefer the mellower material.), not to mention a hulking bed of noise we heard less of on Side A. All in a days work for Knight and, by extension, DDD.

Links: DoubleDotDash
  

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In this ever-expanding musical world, there's a wealth of 7-inches, cassettes, CD-Rs, and objet d'art being released that, due to their limited quantities and adventurous sonics, go unnoticed by the public at large. Cerberus seeks to document the aesthetic of these home recorders and backyard labels. Email us here.