Hakobune
Whispering in Their Presence [CS; Sunshine Ltd.]

I feel as if I need to explain myself, as I now review my third Hakobune tape of the year. Hakobune speaks to me. His gentle guitar strums caress the soul I never knew I had until the first time I heard his work, but lo and behold, it began to stir. I am not redeemed or forgiven. That is not what I ask of Hakobune. All I want is clarity, and once more, it has been granted with Whispering in their Presence. Shivers cascade down my spine. Goosebumps appear. It’s all I can do to not remove this from my Walkman. It crackles, not with the hum of archaic technology, but with warmth. It’s the sensation of night and winter and fall and spring and time and nothingness. It is Zen, and it is chaos. The point of these words are not in review of another beautifully crafted work of space and patience, but a plea that whoever you are — major label lover, casual listener, underground guru — Hakobune should no longer be ignored. He won’t be moving units for those looking to cash in on fad; this is an investment of the mind. Be at peace with stillness.

Links: Hakobune - Sunshine Ltd.

Keepbullfighting

It Never Ends

[CS; Complicated Dance Steps]

Alexander Heath has come a long way since the early days of Keepbullfighting, traveling a long and circuitous route from South Florida to Los Angeles. Along the road, the project gradually shifted from Commodore 64 dudejams to its current iteration as a one-man cyberpunk blues outfit. Desolate vocoders echo out over television skies. Layers of bitcrushed synths threaten to bury an all-too-human presence that continues to assert itself, an emotive ghost in a self-organizing complex of machines. If bedroom electronic music is the new folk music, It Never Ends is the new Red Hash. The sound of damaged neurons rebuilding themselves. “Version of Reality” features beautifully fingerpicked guitar and blues harp over a faultline of inhuman drones, but the vocals are constantly choked by the smog of technology, and we are left in an existential void. Isolated and claustrophobic to the point of hopelessness, the album nonetheless beckons toward a benevolent psychopathology, a post-apocalyptic horizon in which humanity reasserts itself under a new sun of redemption.

Links: Keepbullfighting - Complicated Dance Steps

Husband

“Love Song” b/w “Slow Motion”

[12-inch; Robot Elephant]

Husband, on upstart UK label Robot Elephant, launch in several directions with “Love Song” b/w “Slow Motion,” which makes even more sense on this 12-inch because they’re being remixed thrice. As far as the source material goes, “Love Song” is a WHY?-ish, groove-is-in-the-heart mix that blends indie and electronic persuasions well. Almost too well. Are dance trax supposed to express emotions? Apparently they are, nowadays at least. My heart says THESE DUDES ARE SAD, while my mind says LISTEN TO THAT FLOOR TOM and CYMBAL BELLS and other percussion ROCK THIS JOINT. “Slow Motion” follows (and is subsequently remixed, to its detriment), and this is where Husband get dangerous, combining throttling riddims, throbbing bass, and menacing chirps and plicks/plucks, not to mention the odd shaker. You could never play this in a club because it’s too fucking good, almost evil in its insistence that what is being done can, in fact, be done. Listen and you’ll know what I mean; the possibilities from here are endless. Super-dark green wax with black smudges = gratitude.

Links: Robot Elephant

Innercity

Another Hard New Age

[CS; Rotifer Cassettes]

And as it is, right there in front of here, trickles of “Distant Absence” flutter only senses. Nothing that surreal, or nothing. Just, in a waved motion. Something across — thick, but pure. Not in a gesture, pumping vigorously, light arises, peaking in through “OH!” those fucking cracks, creaking. Wish there was something more clean to “Life Live.” Seeing it right there, like a dream, and you’re not the one whispering because your mouth is clenched. White light tearing through now. Now and right there; here. Half-full, yet flooded already, and most of the time it’s just “Another Hard New Age.” Yet every age, no? How about the rocks and sticks and shit? Their age and grass and air, seeds, water. Prior music and natural sounds. Habitat on habitat, blending and fucking fast for fuss. Fuss and mystery. Mystery for source of light. Ra! Into the future. Again, roughly always and forward. Touch the cleanse. Feel it inside of your inside. Tubular. Everything comes rushing out in colors and streams, nothing solid or concrete, just all evacuation. Retreat//shine\become. Absorb Another Hard New Age.

Links: Innercity - Rotifer Cassettes

Smegma / Colour Buk

Split

[CS; Weird Forest]

Sometimes it is just too much. Too much noise. Too much action. Too much creativity. Too MUCH. But when it’s not enough, there’s this split from Smegma and Colour Buk. Both masters of din, as collaborators on separate sides of one cassette, madness doesn’t even begin to describe the manic state induced by two sides of oddball festivities. Smegma’s side is from a live show, transcendental childlike states of psychotropic euphoria. It’s any sort of pot and pan being used to make some sort of melody out of chaos, before realizing chaos is far catchier and a better calorie burner. Colour Buk takes it a step further, finding pattern in hording and regurgitating it out of their third-story walkup onto unsuspecting pedestrians on the gray pavement below. Manipulated sounds transform into kid giggles and high-strung hiccups — the pranks of unmusical music, fart noises and oscillating toy notes breaking up the monotony of traditional composition. Oh, Colour Buk and Smegma, how you tease, and in your barbs, we find art like snobbish collectors in need for our next big money fix.

Links: Weird Forest

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

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.