Giant Claw
Impossible Chew [CS; Field Hymns]

Impossible Chew takes Keith Rankin (disclosure: former longtime TMT editor) into the realm of synthetic new wave. And you may say to yourself, wasn’t new wave’s city built on synthesizers (and according to a coked out Grace Slick, rock and roll)? This is all very true but in the new new NEW world of synthesizer jazzercise, a change has been brewing for quite some time. Impossible Chew unravels as the first salvo of so-far-beyond-new that we haven’t a name for it. “Science Island” inhabits the 80s post-prog territory of Yes, “Latenight Frenzy” rolls further back into Talking Heads 77, and “Mars Serene” is on par with Thomas Dolby pre-blindness. It’s not even halfway through, but the thesis is now planted in your cortex so let us continue. Impossible Chew embraces its name, giving Rankin’s music a bit of gristly context to separate it from any aspirations to be retro-fitted. Though I can sit here and rattle off bands and styles floating in our amalgamated SpotiTunes cloud, Giant Claw does more with them than just studious listens and over-the-shoulder copying. This is the coming of the renaissance that has been hinted at by a few forward thinking artists who pioneered the rejuvenated genre. Beyond the old cornerstones, there’s plenty of modern influence with complicated timings and tempo shifts; songs starting off in an avant fog before lifting to unveil a blitzed dance floor. It’s music for contemplation and movement. But it won’t be leaving the car deck for some time; that’s one movement best left untouched.

Links: Giant Claw - Field Hymns

Inappropriate King Live

Datboonbaat

[CS; Rainbow Bridge]

Inappropriate King Live is one of the many nom de plumes of Justin Marc Lloyd, a Chicago-by-way-of-Baltimore noise-nik with a grip-a tapes in his trunk and enough limited runs (and limited-enough runs; the cassette being reviewed right now, for example, is one of just 17 declared copies) to vex even the hardest of the hardcore. Datboonbaat – and this is important – doesn’t sound like a tape that’s been severely, brutally, and, yes, purposely limited to a scant 17 copies. Lloyd throws out spirals of Shuriken static like it’s motherfuckin’ Shinobi season and flows fluently from endurance-test noise to beat-driven lo-fi techno(t) to effects-driven drone that ascends slowly into the sky like the rising sun. Of particular note is the swooping robo-bass that whirls the end of Side A around until you’re clinging to your seat. You always hear this from people in indieworld: “Man, they play a crazy show whether there’s 10 people in the crowd or 10,000!” Well, same goes for the small-run tape crowd. They don’t care who’s listening; it’s all part of their card game with god, so fuck YOU if you don’t get it. (Not you though.)

Links: Inappropriate King Live - Rainbow Bridge

Marie Davidson

Marie Davidson

[CS; Holodeck]

I have been casually learning French via a website that makes learning French less intimidating than it seemed in high school and college. I have always been drawn to the romantic language, and not in wet dreams spiked with visions of intimacy with Parisian women or fits of porn boredom wherein I think I can woo a woman with my awful nasally pronunciation. You can’t win smart women over with clichés, so I turn to Marie Davidson and her EP of robotic machinations to improve my speaking and to wow my wife when I can live out my teen fantasies in a future trip to the land of bread, wine and stripes. We will certainly tuck a copy of Davidson’s tape in our carry-on luggage, allowing us to soak up the France we wish to experience; the fearless and strange artists who do not fit in with the pop star archetype of Alizée or the classic ballads of Brel. Though favorites, they don’t have the weird energy of Davidson’s synthesized pop. At once this feels timeless like my dreams but rooted in a particular location. But it realigns my youthful transgressions into something more sophisticated if equally sexual. That’s the magic spell I’ve associated with France for all these years and now it’s transported to me by the sexy shimmy of Davidson’s post-modern pop.

Links: Holodeck

Lame Drivers / Woolen Men

Headhunting / Deaf Americans

[7-inch; Sleeping Giant Glossolalia]

Split 7-inches: So fuckin’ bittersweet because just when you’re getting to know the first band they’re switched out for an often-totally different act. Still, I love ‘em on the rare occasion they pan out for both parties. Lame Drivers, a traditional indie-rock outfit, lead off with “Headhunting” and “Excess,” and it’s quite deceptive how quickly these tunes jump into the spotlight then disappear with barely a whimper. My money’s on “Excess,” a bleary-eyed latenight drive down a deserted highway, fuzzy guitars and memorable synths your only guide. The vox on this one kill it. Woolen Men pop in and out of the good blogs/zines out there with regularity and it’s not difficult to discern why: They approach mom ‘n’ pop geek-punk from a deliriously salty angle that browns out any and all bright colors like an old sepia-toned photograph. It’s a neat trick they pull, sucking the blood out of their arrangements then spitting it into an urn and pouring it onto 7-inch wax. These dudes wouldn’t know bass/low end if it were butt-fucking their dads in the shower, and after buying a string of records that inflate to rumbling levels even with the volume turned down, that’s a welcome development around here.

Links: Sleeping Giant Glossolalia

Trabajo

Gamelan to the Love God

[7-inch; self-released]

It feels almost too good when coincidences like this present themselves. You see, I’ve always had a thing with the word ‘trabajo’ because it’s the one word I definitely learned during three years of high-school Spanish, and as such has always been a super-inside joke of mine. Furthermore, this nifty, lucky-ass 7-inch came in the mail the day after I happened to see Trabajo’s band name for the first time (at which point I chuckled to myself of course). All this would have meant nil had Gamelan to the Love God stunk up the joint, so let us all thank the gods of the experimental temple it didn’t. I’m totally loving this project from the top-down, if you must know. It’s an eccentric ride, all sampled from Indonesian Gamelan recordings, that takes root in the furthest corners of the underground galaxy, a place where old Lucky Dragons, Kink Gong, Twink, Gonzo & Lowdjo, and a host of others can be found working hard to supply commercial artists with the beats/effects they’ll be using in five years. A solid self-released joint, 250 copies young.

Links: Trabajo

Yousei Suzuki

The Scene From A Frame

[CS; Scissor Tail]

I’m packing and unpacking boxes. My move postponed by new complications but enriched by renewed hope. Though the stress remains palpable, I am relived to dig through some boxes in a fit of relief. We need extra dishware and a few lost trinkets to reclaim our sanity. So as I dig through packed cassettes awaiting review, I stumble upon this glossed over beauty from Yousei Suzuki. Beautiful and stark, the hiss of production plays like the summer thunderstorms of Midwestern summer, breaking only for the solitary rhythms of Suzuki’s guitar and piano. Works of happy plucking (“Full Moon Strings”) backed against unwavering lucidity (“Piano Pieces”), all the warm cup of calm needed in a mess of banking institutions, messy apartments, and of decisions up in the air. My experience is not isolated, which is why Suzuki proves so welcome in the midst of the deluge. No matter what gray cloud hovers over your current situation, take solace under the umbrella of The Scene from a Frame. And then enjoy the life lesson as it unfolds in front of you.

Links: Scissor Tail

Feet Teeth

Aphthae Epizooticae

[CS; HellosQuare]

When a band like Feet Teeth dances into your life it’s easy to glom onto the initial presentation and then 10 minutes later HOLD ON – they’ve lost me. It’s one thing to employ a unique form of presentation, it’s another entirely to expand that form into results sturdy enough to support a full-length recording. Aphthae Epizooticae manages this feat and then some via a meager store of instruments including percussion, marimba, Commodore 64, and trumpet. While that arimba-may (if you’re into pig latin) is a little oying-clay, as it’s totally front-and-center almost all of the time, a few of the diversions taken by the trio hold onto the mind like a freshly spat-upon suction cup. Torngat sounded a bit like this, and not just because they also owned a trumpet; that’s all I got for precedents, sorry. Amiina, where art thou?

Links: Feet Teeth

A Story Of Rats

Vastness and the Inverse

[LP; Translinguistic Other]

With an exquisite jacket that registers somewhere between Fredrik’s Trilogy and Chrome Jackson’s Chrome Forest, A Story Of Rats’ album art for Vastness and the Inverse stimulates the senses just as a record cover should, and the music behind the images is even better, betraying all sorts of familiar traits but never settling on an established genre. For example, there’s a lot of screaming/screeching/beseeching and general heaviness, but I’m not sure if I hear a guitar (if I do, it’s been heavily treated). Could this be the slowcore answer to Circle Of Ouroboros? Call it black drone-rock, post-doom, continental drift, or even dark cloak; regardless of the nametag you pin to its breast, Vastness and the Inverse is an exceedingly worthwhile investment, replete with black magic and the wizardry it requires to expand upon the post-metal strain Hydra Head bands abandoned half a decade ago. However, when it comes down to it, I’d connect A Story Of Rats to Bardo Pond, Religious Knives (particularly the Side B entry, “Huldufólk”) and Jennifer Gentle’s instrumental psych LPs as quickly as I would any group affiliated with HH. This is a true hybrid, though the soul behind it is purebred. If this record were a Kinko’s card, you’d pre-load it with 300 copies, ya dig?

Links: Translinguistic Other

Medusa

Divine Malice

[12-inch; Auris Apothecary]

From the heavy metal thud of “Bleeding Ocean,” I know I am lost in the sea of Divine Malice. I am not a metal fan, but good music–challenging music–is my Plymouth. I have hit the shore hard, not heeding the rocky coastline and overlapping waves. Medusa are my guide into this new land and I could not ask for a better set of scouting eyes despite our crash landing. This one-sided 12-inch is all gristly meat, plucked fresh from Mother Earth as we raze what once stood as peaceful land and in its place transplant the old world’s monolithic riffs and flowing tendrils. But wait, we see recognizable faces. There’s Ozzy and Halford, the sun shining behind them like the glow of a hundred angels of lace and leather. But they yield to Medusa as we scorch the land and turn the soil to raise a new crop of inscrutable fans who ne’er back down from their well earned badge of honor. They traveled the miles, they endured the sickness and shame, and their gods led them to this plot of land to carve in their image. It’s Medusa’s to do what with what it will now. Bow your heads and pick up one of only 300 writs that exist of this mystic voyage.

Links: Auris Apothecary

Earthen Sea / Insect Factory

Split

[12-inch; Earthen Zone / Insectfields]

This split knows very little about itself. It knows who it is, but only by name (Earthen Sea on one side, Insect Factory on the other). And it knows what it is (a beautiful vinyl recording with kick ass Gas-homage artwork on it). This split does not, however, know what it is called (no song titles), or exactly what went into the sounds on each side of it (no production credits). It doesn’t know who did the artwork and it’s not even sure what year it came out. So the gaps of information left out of the record’s presentation to me, the listener/reviewer, are going to have to be filled in with my keen listening and supreme review-researching skills to the best of my abilities, which of course I don’t mind employing at all, especially given the excellent musical content that is here.

Earthen Sea is the meditative (also eerie, pensive) product of Jacob Long, and is a wallowing ebb and flow of dynamics that breathe slowly out from a set of synthesizers. It’s a surprising sound for a guy made marginally famous for previous work with noise/art-punk bands like Black Eyes and Mi Ami — that here, he’s painted a barren, burnt sort of landscape that is dusty and dry, swept periodically with soft sonic winds and underlain with a relentless, methodical portion of rhythm from a bass drum voice of some kind. Eventually, the piece morphs itself into a more inviting pool of cooling major chord-consonance, the composition of which has notes sifting through one another, as liquid.

Insect Factory’s half is the sprawling guitar + pedal board + amp music of Jeff Barsky (also of DC noise-rockers, The Plums). Before this side’s final minutes of clean, humbling guitar balladry (seriously lovely, lovely stuff), the listener is met with a confrontational sound made up of a series of consecutive electric shocks that successively interrupt an unfailingly screeching wail. Where Earthen Sea was content to wade in almost exclusively bass tones, Insect Factory floods the headphones with oppositely higher (much, much higher) frequencies, offering an interesting backdrop for patchy melodies to sputter out of Barsky’s straining amplifier. What’s especially nice is how the sum whole of the Insect Factory sound is one that manages to not be so harsh. Despite the words I’ve chosen to describe the sounds (which I think are fairly accurate), this music doesn’t grate or drag nails ‘cross the chalkboard of your brain. Insect Factory paints. It hums. It sings. It’s beautiful. If it hasn’t been made apparent yet, I’ll just go ahead and say straight up that this is a killer split, man, but a suggestion if I might: Don’t be afraid to tell your audience who you are, or what it is you’ve done. They want to know.


Links: Earthen Sea / Insect Factory - Earthen Zone / Insectfields
  

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.