Amen Dunes
Ethio Covers [7-inch; Self-Released]

Amen Dunes’ “Ethio Covers” is dangerously fresh, regardless of what you are or aren’t into right now. Its contents originally emerged from Ethiopian musicians — hence the title — and AD’s reduxes are hitting a lot of angles, hard. “Ethio Song” leads off with an especially impressive, pleading vocal tremolo and a lush, lily-pad flow akin to a mushed-up, slowed-down surf song (one of those old, mellow instrumental ones, blurry at the edges production-wise like those old Blank Dogs tunes) or a psych-rubbed, shuffling cut by Nick Cave’s old backing band. This also reminds me of how much I dug that first Velvet Davenport cassette on Moon Glyph. The two cuts slicing Side B in half aren’t as flat-out inspiring, but there is more of that great lamb-bleating on the mic and a general adherence to the rules of rendering tranquility not just passable but engrossing, at least once the opening sequence of “Ethio Song II” is bolstered by those wondrous vox. “Ethio Song III” works better, boasting more of those luscious, surf-y six-string swipes, every bit as appealing as Ganglians at their best. And, to paraphrase Chris Cooper circa Adaptation: “And I love the Ganglians.”

Links: Amen Dunes

Eolomea

Eolomea

[CS; Brave Mysteries]

HOLY SHIT: I swear I just saw a ghost. And there’s a man with a chainsaw sprinting toward us. Are those screams? Banshees! I feel something cold running down my spine! The cold fright night of Eolomea is upon us, a guitar-and-synth assault that’s sure to gut us all, hanging our entrails from meat hooks to drain the blood. ‘Tis the grisly murder of David Reed (Envenomist) and André Foisy (Locrian). Seriously, this is sick and twisted; it’s angry in all the wrong places, and once you’ve listened to Eolomea’s self-titled gore fest, you won’t be the same. No horror soundtrack matches this intensity. Those bumps in the night while you’re trying to sleep will manifest themselves into fanged boogeyman — not sexy vampires, but gangly beasts eager to rip your meaty flesh from your soured marrow. The anguished squelches from Reed’s synth shatter Foisy’s equally fowl guitar. This is emotive, primal music that will forever keep you running from the creepshow.

Links: Brave Mysteries

Chris North

Lovedream

[12-inch; Whitehaus Family]

Mr. North makes an unbecoming first impression, with “500 Miles” lost somewhere in the sad-bastard abyss. But as Lovedream plays through the pain, it emerges as a much more eclectic record, full of long, sandy, thoughtful, acoustic instrumentals and wavy-gravy group jams, some of them appropriately recorded by a campfire somehow (yes, they have the technology). In fact, the tracklisting reveals several locales (“Blinker” was recorded in a Toyota driving through Newton, MA; another was archived at a birthday party), strange only because the tracks all fit together as if they were dubbed up simultaneously. What a world, no? I could do without the wonky song titles (“Messenger of Love,” “Indian Love Call,” “The Road to Yesterday”), mind you, but on the whole, I find Lovedream to be a fairly convincing collection of North’s ruminations, registering somewhere between The Impossible Shapes’ Tum and a Bonnie “Prince” Billy record from up-yonder.

Links: Whitehaus Family

Bent Spoon Duo

The Price of Darkness

[CS; House of Alchemy]

I’m sure it’s just me (it usually is), but I’ve always wondered what the score to the apocalypse would sound like as composed by Jonathan Wolff. It wouldn’t be happy-go-lucky bass slaps and synthesized melodies underneath the laugh track of a live studio audience. (Or maybe it would — gods do have an awfully odd sense of humor). It’s more likely that Bent Spoon Duo have nailed the soundtrack to our future demise. Piercing scratches, bleats, and broken electronics being inserted into the sinkhole meat grinder, turned into sausages of discarded appliances and human remains. The Price of Darkness, however, is not our finale. It’s a bit too playful to be musical fodder for the Four Horsemen. This is grown kids playing with the notion that anything can make music — cloyingly aggressive tones robbed of tonality. Children have their own sense of what melody is, and Bent Spoon Duo siphon it into a rich experience. It’s not an everyday play, but in those moments when it feels like End of Times is upon you, it’ll be there with open arms.

Links: House of Alchemy

Koi Pond

So Higher

[CS; Sonic Meditations]

Deep into the Koi Pond you stare, atop the highest mountain of waste. Carefully, you poor two bubbling potions into a cup floating on the cool pond water. The raging liquid subsides, you reach in as koi flee from your movement and raise the damp cup with both hands to sip it. It’s real calm at first, and the fish begin to communicate with you in air pockets surfacing upon the water. They want out, but have no intention of a viable escape. You blink and the mountain side is curling around your toes. Shoes are gone. Myst and clouds develop a layer of valley below and surrounding you. Yelling into the abyss crumbles a distant mount during its echo, and you walk back to the Koi Pond. So Higher is your internal mantra as the pond changes from unnamed color to unnamed color. The fragility of your environment becomes apparent, and you end up in the water|out on the clouds|on the peak|So Higher|ibex horn in hand|flushed of meaning|tumbling into bushes|hanging by your nail tips|resting inside a cave|biting your nail tips red. You take a bigger sip.

Links: Sonic Meditations

Ashley Eriksson

What a Fool Believes

[7-inch; Funkytonk]

Jesus Christ, girl. Ashley Eriksson (descendent of Lief?) has made an ass of me. An absolute AZZ; I can’t stop spinning a record for the first time in way too long, and it’s a fucking Doobie Brothers cover. What a sick way to hurt a reviewer. Sometimes instincts take over, I suppose. Twee doesn’t become 95% of the musicians out there, but every once in awhile, someone gets it right — almost too right. Love the little mistakes, too, the sense that, “Hey, the first take will be just fine.” It’d be tempting to look for weakness on the flippity-dip, and honestly I did, to no avail. It’s also quite attractive, full of harmonies circa The Pierces, The Andrews Sisters, and another group I might manage to name if you stop me on the street in a few days. Not now, though. K Records are responsible for a lot of CRAP. If they influenced this, however (and it’s likely), god bless those ugly mugs.

Links: Funkytonk

Jeremy Kelly / Chapels

Split

[CS; House of Alchemy]

The minimalist approach by House of Alchemy is very welcome in regards to this split between guitar phenoms Jeremy Kelly and Chapels. If the tape weren’t queued to run on Side A, it’s likely you’d have no idea who you were listening to, thanks to the tape’s blank green canvas. So ask a friend to fast forward it for a bit, take it out of the console, flip the cassette a few times in a secluded room, then hand it back to you for your listening pleasure. You don’t need to know who it is, just that it’s good no matter the side. But still, there are telltale signs from each: Kelly is more traditional with his half, leaving his guitar to do much of the talking; Chapels is eager to augment guitar passages with electronic maneuvers and field recordings, presenting an equally organic feel despite relying on technological wizardry. Kelly is a one-man show on stage in all its rawness; Chapels is creating music out by the prairie creek, if it were a projection of the matrix. But the point stands, one complements the other, and there is no need for formalities. Blindly pick your dance partner and enjoy the hoedown.

Links: House of Alchemy

Clearing

No Titles

[CS; No Kings]

I’m beginning to question the drinking water in Tennessee. While the state has produced its fair share of wackos and people-hating wunderkinds (and we’re not just talking about Nashvegas), it’s also breeding a new mutation of experimental musician. Perhaps it isn’t the drinking water but some sort of food or grain found in select outliers. Maybe aliens stole select children in the night between the years 1980 and 1995 and only recently have they been given passage back to earth to spread the peaceful message. Could it be these are not people at all, but sentient beings bearing warning to the beginning of Skynet becoming aware? Whatever the case, I’m going to make damn sure I heed the warnings of Joseph Volmar. As Clearing, his slowed Blade Runner ambiance is a gentlemanly call that only a Southern could extend. Its lengthy strands of icy truthiness may only be decipherable by a chosen few, but I hope that, even in misguided interpretation, the heart of the matter is still reaching the neural receptors it’s meant for. Now if you’ll excuse me, all this chill drone has made my butt hurt and a strange radio transmission is coming from my nipples.

Links: No Kings

Gary Lucas

Music for the Eden Project

[7-inch; 5nakefork]

Nothing wrong with Side A; acoustic, finger-lickin’-good string pickin’ and a-pluckin’ and all. But Side B, well, that’s where former Beefheart/Jeff Buckley strongarm Gary Lucas digs deep and comes out as fresh as Steve Hillage was upon leaving Gong. Maybe he’s been listening to a lot of 6OOA, Plante, and Nels Cline, or maybe this is where nature took him; either way, double the dose, because this approach works wonders. It was meant to accompany an exhibit yadda-yadda, but this 7-inch stands firm on its own. I’m not even going to ask whether the “no overdubs” claim on the back-jacket is true; I’m just going to say that if Lucas is ejecting this sort of maelstrom in one take, I’d be hesitant to even trust him with 100 studio hours and 16 tracks. Thick, soupy, these drones are, the sort of spiritual sound a million tape-toters would kill to even approximate. Oh, and remember, there’s also a decent Side A + translucent orange wax.

Links: Gary Lucas - 5nakefork

Vermillion Father

Go-Kart Kamp

[CS; Space Slave Editions]

There’s a deviant comfort in pissing in the pool. That bit of untraceable underwater warmth — who wants to leave the pool just to dry off, find a bathroom, piss, come back out, and re-acclimate to the water? It’s just unruly and better to be uncouth. Vermillion Father’s Go-Kart Kamp pisses all over our aqua jets with a jubilant smirk. Can’t be mad, so just enjoy the warmth. This cassette is two long-burners, the self-titled and chill A-side shimmering like water on a blindingly sunny day, the B-side, “DJ Squalls,” heavy with industrial vacuums cleaning the besmirched vessel and making it inhabitable once again (and nothing about this deep drone resembles the lanky, lightweight actor). It’s a warm cassette full of sun, urine, and booze for a lazy afternoon spent by the local watering hole. Just don’t mix up your Bud Light for a bottle of piss.

Links: Space Slave Editions

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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.