German Army
Papua Mass [CS; Night People]

What seems a bare cupboard for the one band you just can’t Google turns out to be an old coldwave trick: Lull the listener to sleep with hypnotizing weird-wave minimal synth and wait… and wait… and wait. Then what? Well, I guess you make another tape. Until then, German Army have me in the palm of their hairy hands, their Martian Church XX-style sludge-vocals reminding me of that time I’s probed by aliens. (I swear! Ma told me if’n I lie I’ll be in hot water, so don’t tell on me!) Their frothy chemical brew is a strange, pungent one that no one should try at home: Stack a uncooperative drum machine on top of a shit-house synth, echo-killed vox, and maybe a bass line and see how much your version of this sucks. How do they do it? This is one of those tapes you listen to mouth-ajar; the 39 Clocks of mini-synth-wave, German Army are. The end of Side A even mimics a tape being eaten. You’ll keep checking and checking. What an idiot! Bruce Hart is watching approvingly from heaven (What? He’s alive? Man…), not to mention Wet Hair. Those nice Raccoo-oo-oon boys sure have comported themselves well with this Night People label, a veritable shit-storm of fascinating vibrations emanating from their every audio orifice. It’s sick. And yes, like every actually-good cassette I review, it’s probably fucking sold out before you even knew what hit you circa Dave Mustaine. Sorry; you lose.

Links: Night People

U.S. Girls

The Island Song

[7-inch; Calico]

As a red-blooded American male, the female form has often been a subject of intense scrutiny for me. When it finds its way into music, either as lyrical inspiration or album art (as is the case with the flexible figure gracing the cover of The Island Song), it flicks on switches in my male brain (and yes, penis). Megan Remy’s ability to tap into the primal of the male mind while maintaining female individuality is on display throughout The Island Song. The two-song 7-inch blends danceable rhythm with sharp melody, creating a hot mess of modern pop without any genre touchstone to hold it back. The title track and B-side, “High School Poetry,” are infectious. Remy’s schoolgirl vocals add a charm that is sure to attract the male id without fracturing the ego. There’s an understated sexiness, but the deeper one connects to Remy’s music, the less sexualized it becomes. Blood boils, not as a product of testosterone, but as a result of high-end music created by high-end talent, no matter the connotations. All that’s left to remind me of a need to spread seed is the cover art, which is rendered asexual by the time “High School Poetry” has its final rotation on the turntable.

Links: U.S. Girls - Calico

White Ring

“Hey Hey, My My” b/w “Felt U”

[12-inch; Handmade Birds]

White Ring shake up the witch house fun-bus to sparkling ends via “Hey Hey, My My” and “Felt U,” the heaviest 12-inch you will ever struggle to hold and also one you will find yourself flipping a dozen times before you even realize you’re not dreaming. Quality stuff, albeit nothing earthshaking if you’re a true weirdope. Expect grinding, soft-glow bass bump, an omnipresent mega-click track (probably the signature tell-tale sign a witch might be in the house), polyrhythms stacked atop one another, a female vocalist who seems to almost drift in and out of pitch, and a one-finger synth line with an occasional pitch bend. Sounds bad, right? Guess again — we’re talking tingles-on-the-back-of-the-neck thrills the rave kidz could only have dreamed about. Dancing to this music might make sense to you at some point, but in essence the audio is doing all the work for you. A head-bob is more than enough to satisfy the endorphins that want so badly to make your life a living heaven. White Ring will give you better access to them, albeit in limited-edition fashion. Don’t sleep, lazy-asses.

Links: Handmade Birds

Van Dyke Parks

“Dreaming of Paris” b/w “Wedding in Madagascar”

[7-inch; Bananastan]

Is it preposterous to find Van Dyke Parks mentioned in Cerberus…or is it a strike of brilliance? No matter one’s take on the legacy of The Beach Boys, one must know by now that Parks’ dalliance with Brian Wilson was but merely a minute stop on his varied and strange career. A few ups and downs (the cost of being an adventurous composer) has caused Parks’ star to diminish to many, but his latest round of 7-inch singles are cause for great celebration and renewed interest in the weirdness of Van Dyke Parks. What stands out with the singles “Dreaming of Paris” and “Wedding in Madagascar,” beyond the classically inspired artwork, is the classically inspired chamber pop. Sticking to one’s guns is always a chancy maneuver, but Parks proves the gamble worth the risk. “Dreaming of Paris” is a demur and elegant composition, in stark contrast to the tropical rhythms and fast-paced dance of “Wedding in Madagascar.” The only complaint to be had is that, at the sheer speed of both, neither work up to a crescendo. But perhaps it’s all for the best, the maestro leaving us wanting more. And you’re going to want more, no matter your musical preferences.

Links: Bananastan

Mohawk Park

Ungeometric Circuit

[CS; Scissor Tail]

I’ve stopped keeping count as far as Brad Rose projects go. And it doesn’t matter. They’re all different and exciting; if Rose were a porn starlet, he’d be a classic, able to reinvent even as the business changes. Dylan Aycock would be his worthy director (the last name… fitting). Their tandem outfit, Mohawk Park, has certainly amassed the equivalent of a longevity boner with Ungeometric Circuit. The sexual grind of a dark room, punctuated by the foreplay before bed springs jolt alive in symmetrical spurts, the start up and slow down of “The Future Was” projecting dirty images into the untapped imagination. “Vanilla Spiderwebs” provides the apropos cool down after the filthy first half. The post-coital deep slumber of “Defense Mechanism” locks the eyelids for Sandman replays of the raw footage. A quarterback’s gotta keep in game shape; Rose and Aycock remain as limber and unpredictable as they cum.

Links: Scissor Tail

Trailblazer

“Gut Reaction” b/w “Mallard”

[7-inch; Moniker]

Now THAT’s more like it. A heady splicing of Little Girls and Blank Dogs, with a touch of shoegaze flare thrown in for good measure. Not sure what they’re doing to the guitars on “Gut Reaction” (flange? delay? arpeggiate? reverb?), but it’s working for Trailblazer like a charm, as they create music overtop a drum machine that makes us forget the music is created overtop a drum machine. Funny, because when I try to accompany my many drum machines I sound like a dickhole with a microphone. Oh well! At least I have upstarts blazing trails I can’t get cleared on my own; I’ll leave it up to the experts. ‘Blazer also have a tape out on Night People this year, so don’t forget to write.

Links: Trailblazer - Moniker

Plankton Wat / Super Minerals

Split

[CS; Stunned]

Like the ol’ trick fade out, Stunned returns with a singular swansong courtesy of Dewey Mahood (Plankton Wat) and Super Minerals, Phil French’s own cyberkinetic duo with William Giacchi. As the flames of Stunned smolder, Mahood’s trippy guitar experimentations play as its ashes are delicately spread across the land of Nod. But Mahood’s arsenal swells to include reeds and banjo, yet the faint smoky smell of psychedelia never leaves the area — ritualistic incense burnt to keep Stunned in peace during its final slumber. Super Minerals engulf the B-side, and it’s music for the other side. Doubled in size thanks to M. Geddes Gengras and Caitlin Mitchell, SM slightly morphs into French/Giacchi alter Magic Lantern. Either way, the chameleon duo proves hard to pin down, moving between the acid nostalgia of Magic Lantern and washed-out drones synonymous with Super Minerals. It’s a cool ride to Valhalla, a god of cassette labels retiring to the mystical haven of myth. We won’t weep; we are warriors bound to allegiance to the awesomeness of Stunned, best celebrated by Mahood, Giacchi, and French.

Links: Stunned

Angel Eyes

Vice to Vice

[CS; Moon Glyph]

This whole “underground” internet music community comes down to trial-and-error. Thus, listeners call Andrew Richard Cowie Angel Eyes. And maybe that is all-American of me to write, considering Angel Eyes is Australian, so let me get to the music: what if one were to exclude all the filters in Vice to Vice? What would it sound like? I bet it’d sound like average soft-rock radio songs. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some noises and sounds in Vice to Vice that may be interesting unfiltered. Maybe like “Oh, shit. That Cowie fellah is fresher than I thought,” or maybe like scraping a rusted, dripping water pipe. But it mostly appears to be just some dude trying to forge new sound-grounds through click-and-point. There’s nothing wrong with using cheap equipment, just make it sound more adventurous; either boring or exciting, just not lame. The whole Vice to Vice cassette is the equivalent of an afternoon sipping iced tea during work lunch. There are rays of sunshine and shit, but it’s momentary. And fleeting. Full of trial, and the outcome is error. Cowie got on Moon Glyph, th’oh, so props. Maybe he’ll launch a group project soon?

Links: Angel Eyes - Moon Glyph

TG Gondard

Avontuur

[CS; Not Not Fun]

As a teenaged youth, I had the privilege of visiting Belgium and got a taste of European culture. However, much of that resulted in sitting in the same coffee shop in Ghent with my grandparents and a pair of matrons, locally referred to as ‘The Witches’ — they were sweet to me, but in a manner that wasn’t unlike the witch in Hansel and Gretel. My interactions with what really lay beneath the canals and cobbled streets was never to be, the fantasy of a 15 year old never to be realized, wrapped up in snickering about ‘The Witches’ and the darkest, thickest coffee I’ve ever consumed. Perhaps it’s why TG Gondard’s skittish Avontuur speaks to me: it draws me to a retro-club culture I was never privy to, one that I feverishly dreamed as I was so close and yet so far away from. Avontuur is the sound of a forgotten European union, an amalgamation of nationalities, cultures, and traditions boiled into neatly spastic outbursts of rhythmic synth and canned beats. It’s the coffee shops after dark, when ‘The Witches’ remove the hunchbacks and hairy moles for cauldrons boiling with the eye of newt and the powder of the coco leaf.

Links: Not Not Fun

Burial Hex

In Psychic Defense

[12-inch; Sound of Cobra]

Burial Hex’s “In Psychic Defense” comes bearing 12-inch pinchers. That is, it isn’t at all what I expected from the group responsible — hell, culpable — for a nasty split with Sylvester Anfang II and other atrocities. But true to their instinctive nature, the duo find a way to render what they’re doing at any given time captivating. It’s their willingness to blunder if it means furthering their art that impresses the most, a wont they flaunt front-and-center when, within the grooves of this single-sided LP’s final third, they shred the delicate paper constructs of plaintive comfort they’d just spent a lot of time cultivating with Golem speak-shrieks and loud, throbbing beats. Yep, that’s the Burial Hex I remember, but I won’t soon forget the other sides they reveal here. Very dark, very Germanic, very cool. Your move, Sound of Cobra.

Links: Burial Hex - Sound of Cobra
  

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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.