Mythologies [CS; Watery Starve]

Nature vs. Nurture. It’s all I can think about when listening to Lynn Fister’s Aloonaluna project. Am I a product of my environment or a product of the ebb and flow of the world? It’s even in the name — loon(ey) and luna(r); the magnetic push and pull of French philosophers and dead Greeks. Tomes of knowledge condensed into the poppy drone of Mythologies. Fister doing more than pulling off clever flicks of her musical wrist. Where does nature end and nurture begin? Hillary Clinton is whispering “It takes a village” with the Billboard enthrall of an Oprah audience coming down. It’s a gleeful argument played out on tape, Fister’s imagination and wherewithal too cunning for but one splotch of blocked critique. So I close my eyes and decide to settle the debate. I hear familiar themes, not just those of the existential, but those of long-gone Nickelodeon and PBS children’s programming. “Canyon” is a sad man who’s one poorly-conceived-spacesuit away from being Secret City, “Horse Tentacles and Coral” a strange new beat mashing up Pinwheel and Ghostwriter. With this, I’m taken back to summer nights in a sardine can known as a trailer, the delights of playing 8-bit games lit by the headlights of a car through the slit windows of the basement. I dream of running through thickets of weeds and tall grass, being chased by angry hornets after stumbling upon their discarded nest. I am no closer than I was before Aloonaluna. Guess I best flip it over and start from the beginning.

Links: Aloonaluna - Watery Starve

Woodpecker Wooliams and Golden Cup meet Love Cult

In Russia

[CS; Full of Nothing]

If I’d have known this year was going to be so blessed, I would have baked a cake. (Baked a cake; baked a cake.) Not sure how these folks — Woodpecker Wooliams and Golden Cup meet Love Cult — came together and whether this actually occurred In Russia (crowd noise tells me it happened live SOMEwhere), but it’s like CVLTS birthed a chosen one with a mind full of choppy ambitions and liquid courage, a.k.a. FUCKING ROWDY. So many of these tapists don’t understand, but when they do, and there’s nearly a half-hour to stretch out in, it’s one of life’s great pleasures. Woodpecker Wooliams, nee Gemma, is in demand right now on several fronts (new record out on Robot Elephant, yadda yadda), and should be. She is the Julianna Barwick of think-drone, a multi-talented soundstress whose early explorations have struck a chord with people who want to take more away from this “drone” thing than mere slow shifts and buzzkill. Not sure how long In Russia will be around, if at all, so ground floor, get in on, you, why don’t?

Links: Full of Nothing

Dead Luke

God Takes LSD

[CS; Moon Glyph]

I remember the excitement of firing up “Marijuana Vietnam” from Lotion in the summer of 95, believing my mission toward modern psychedelia was beginning. How disappointed to find an alterna-pop joint rather than the napalm haze of the next Mazzy Star. It’s been nearly two decades, and a lot has changed: retroactive discovery, generations of cassette labels and dazed bands tapped into the cosmic Zen of fearless distortion and long drags. Which is where we find Dead Luke. But that isn’t to say Dead Luke couldn’t also have been found hidden deep in Lotion circa 95. God Takes LSD is an adventurous and accessible romp of psych, drone, and pop. It begins heavy, weighed down to the couch by fog. But as the stoner drops the sheet, the tape takes a magnificent turn through the spectrum of sound. I’m invaded by the spirit of post-synth; spaceship God descending not for the Rapture, but for the stage show. Suddenly, I find myself in the backroom with Anton Newcombe and Peter Hayes reconciling over jangly guitars and smoky harmonies. But it all comes back to the bong and the afterglow, the room reverberating. Eyes shoot open and here we are, on the edge of the bed, and “Marijuana Vietnam” is silently skipping on the turntable. Justin dies at the end.

Links: Moon Glyph

Various Artists

Goldrush Companion Tape


Trudging through the muck and stuck now: boots left behind, and feet can turn raw for this personal need. Need for that rush. Every single event on stage, through sound of speakers with wires and giving that live acoustic echo. The experience is overwhelming and all that is stable is a business card-sized program. The people surrounding the area are the same in silence, but different in nod. It feels like fun if fact was alive and living was intensely accentuated through performance. And performance of something so fucking familiar, but very distant, still sustaining that live crunch. Reeling through it all, bodies sway as though they’re damp and washing cars, shining from the sound that provides warmth through the cracks. There is where it’s found. Again in that sound. Perpetuating something more than just paper/coin. It’s brilliant yet sullen, only polished when necessary, and brings life to faces in strife. On rings on bands on wrapping around ears, hanging while poised. It’s jewelry of the mind. Shuffled through ages of mistake and “Nah, I ain’t into it that much, yo.” But at that moment, when it’s found and has dusted away the webs in your head, you’ve found what you’re looking for: sheer sound surrounding sifted sight shining through.

[Full disclosure: TMT writer Strauss is the co-founder of Goldrush]


Ross Major

Horatio Hymns

[12-inch; Haute Magie]

Haute Magie, mystery label — not because I don’t know who they are, but because I never know what to expect from them — dropped Horatio Hymns on us in a year packed with gimmicks and hyper-programmed, mega-digital constructions less human than a Terminator. Ross Major, along the lines of Mason Lindhal, John Fahey, Six Organs, and Jack Rose, spaces out on his six-string somethin’ fierce in an intensely personal way. Parts of Horatio Hymns also make room for Jarboe/Earth, along with rare but appreciated exploratory voyages into the black hole of noise that many of today’s long-form guitar virtuosos fail to trespass. This phylum of Major’s work is all about Nels Cline and giving heed to outsized soundclouds (yep, it’s a word too). Then there’s also this other side of him that reminds me most of obscure Bay Area act Pregnant, sampled voices atop hazy pickin’. Side B yields the first sign of Ross Major: Singer, and he does a yeoman’s job, bare-backing his voice atop thoughtful, isolated leads. When the pan flute rears its death’s head, you get ready to hide in the bushes, but no need: This is “folk” in the best sense of the word, psychedelic at times even, though neither tag do Horatio Hymns ultimate justice. There are too many other forces at work here, as the almost black-metal “Magus” attests. Best leave the labelin’ up to yo’ brain, young blood! The gods approve.

Links: Haute Magie


Second Species

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

It’s the night after the parade. Pieces of ticker tape and distressed newspaper gently sweep the streets, the city workers tasked to clean up the mess long gone after hours of hopelessly chasing these remaining tatters. It’s just turning to dusk, so the small town’s five downtown buildings are just beginning to glow above the purple horizon. After the ecstasy of celebration, the rural people have retired to their homes. Vandals and ne’er-do-wells will be out soon, says the old folk. But it’s really just kids looking to capture their own magic, to escape Saturday afternoons full of tradition no one’s dared to tie them into. So they make their own, soundtracked by seasonal winds, sneaked booze, and someone’s beat-up car. The city has nothing to offer this evening, at least nothing worthwhile for those operating outside societal protocol. All that remains is Prayer. Hands are folded, not to the heavens, but to the worship of another; the object of desire. This will all be nostalgic rambling in a decade, but for now, it’s your own parade. As still as the night is, it’s alive with want. You make of this evening what you want from it. Prayer has given you this opportunity; don’t forsake it for a dalliance with an unyielding god or reprimanding adults long out of touch with these feelings. You know this sound without a word.

Links: Constellation Tatsu

Xander Harris / Dylan Ettinger

The Driver / Tipoff

[7-inch; Moon Glyph]

Anyone who’s ever driven a 1983 Toyota Tercel hatchback and, for some reason, bumped the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop will know the feeling of take-off that accompanies “The Driver,” a smooth electronic-dance composition that explores the limits of this whole post-0PN thing with reckless abandon. I like the way Xander Harris programs his synths, and his side of this 7-inch flies by so quickly you’ll reload thrice before you even consider venturing over to the other side. Checkmate? Not quite. Dylan Ettinger, who is everywhere, bequeaths a ridiculous, special-edition synthster in line with Bruce Hart and the other boyz stuck in the keybo muck. Not a drum beat here as much as an ongoing throb, and the vocals are hunted to extinction, but “Tipoff” is a busy-ass piece of work whose overall effect somehow calms the nerves (maybe I’ve been listening to too much Matta Gawa?). Why can’t I go to a kids movie with my daughter and hear music like this soundtracking it?

Links: Moon Glyph

Circuit des Yeux


[10-inch; Magnetic South]

This is a transformation. We witness the evolution of child into teen into adult, with all the ferocity of a genetic nuclear cloud. “Lithonia,” the same shoes in the dirt, operatic vocal of innocence from Haley Fohr’s Circuit des Yeux. It rattles the neighborhood windows with the bellow of a girl trying to fit in with a big voice and a one-track mind. “I’m on Fire II” finds Fohr in her college years, revisiting her take on the Springsteen torch song with two hulking man-beasts adding drums and din to an already encumbered ode of distortion and angst. It’s “Helen, You Bitch” where the myth graduates, matures into a woman. This is Fohr, with 24 years of learning and leaving, channeling the education system, disappointment, and the unknown into a tense psychedelic jam with hints of apricot and venom. This is Fohr exploring relationships: those of her past, present, and future. Those of love, bands, and person-to-environment. And it’s just a killer 10-inch for anyone who, you know, likes music and things that are deep and stuff. Or needs a quick soundtrack to a bong rip.

Links: Circuit des Yeux - Magnetic South

Back Magic

Blood Plaza

[5-inch Lathe; Pilgrim Talk]

Back Magic’s “Blood Plaza” is not your typical Pilgrim Talk outing, delving into white-blue deep-fuzz with boombox recording and trashed-out crash cymbals that dominate the mix when wet. If Lou Barlow is lo-fi, I’m not sure what to call this; shit-fi doesn’t seem gritty enough. Devil-fi? A scrappy effort though, pressed onto the oddest lil’ 5-inch lathe-daddy you ever done seen. I think of Moldy Peaches, Zumm Zumm, and Icky Boyfriends, and muse, “Wow, remember when things were clean?” Once again, we’re left to wonder: How much lower-than-fi can self-recorded rock get? Back Magic make early GBV sound like “We Are the World.” This band was seemingly invented to be the exact counterpoint to Buckcherry, the lowest, dingiest scum imaginable. Yet cute, too.

Links: Pilgrim Talk

My People Pray By Starlight / Yusuke Tsutsumi


[CS; Old Monster/Weiner]

My People Pray By Starlight are the bad cop. The nega-world perpetuated by MPPBS’s half of magnetic tape is a grimy, groovy natural world of feel-good beach rhythms interrupted by a mad man’s static preaching. Better to bask in its aural unpredictability than the sad truth of murder, brainwashing, and deceit (we reserve the right to revoke this sunny alternative if any members of MPPBS go Dexter). If the Cali outfit isn’t asked to soundtrack the Inherent Vice adaptation, all hope for humanity should be deemed a lost cause. Of course, that’s a fleeting blip once Yusuke Tsutsumi, the good cop, takes over. Tsutsumi’s work is a much-needed human touch, awash in a world of DJ Shadow and Fennesz. Considering that collaboration seems impossible, it’s a blessing Tsutsumi has arrived on our planet. And though the pairing of this split seems odd — a psychedelic workout partnered with a blissed-out trip-hop ambiance — we know the odd officer pairings are box office gold. Best to get it before its purity is erased by A.O. Scott.

Links: Old Monster/Weiner

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.