Kane Ikin
Contrail [7-inch; 12k]

The cardboard sleeve is sturdy, the Spirogram ink a testimony to the fifth-dimension wonders of Contrail. The solo debut of Kane Ikin is not a flimsy attempt at minimalism, rather a successful — and particularly hardy — two-song set of ambient drone. A-side “Contrail” and B-side “Synthetic Setting” are natural complements: “Contrails” is cold, a guitar plucking out an existence in vast, frozen terrain, while “Synthetic Setting” is the summer equinox, melting away the perma-frost with warmer tones. Much like the seasons, Contrail’s two sides have more in common than their temperatures would hint, seamlessly blending into one another (which makes the flip from A to B both an annoyance and a treasured masochistic pleasure, like an unexpected May freeze or an unusually cool August afternoon). It’s a complete package on all ends, stamped with the 12k seal of approval.

Links: Kane Ikin - 12k

Coyote Slingshot

Oblivion Fever Forever

[7-inch; Super Secret]

Not sure who the singer for Coyote Slingshot is — he’s listed in the credits as “Puzzle Nuzzle” — but he’s got me believin’, even with the odds stacked so thoroughly against him he’d have to shoot his way out of the Death Star to break through. HE DID IT, HE DID IT, DADDY! And I’ll tell you how: First, I believe because he believes; simple, right? Second, he stays at least within remote range of proper pitch — that helps. Thrice, he sounds like the Hot Hot Heat singer back when he was broke and hungry, also much like that dude from Tora! Tora! Torrance! And, finally, four-square, he leads a band that dips into a lot of no-no troughs and comes out sparkling. It’s almost as if Arcade Fire and Titus Andronicus never happened, dude. Thank Christ! Not to mention that the flip-side jam kicks off with a lonely pan flute and explodes into a sloppy punk-rock sandwich from hell, replete with tom-tom titty-slaps and treble-heavy cymbal fluffs; without a Side B of this magnitude, the jump-start of A means little. So glad to hear spirited chant-punk that doesn’t physically hurt my heart. I feel like maybe we’re gonna make it after all.

Links: Coyote Slingshot - Super Secret

Hey Mother Death

Hey Mother Death

[CS; Self-Released]

Spontaneity is the spice in any relationship. A naughty negligee, role-playing, or producing a tape — all worthwhile foreplay. So it goes from Hey Mother Death, the project of Nova Scotian duo Denma Peisinger and Laurence Strelka. It’s an odd little creation, constructed of pop Papier-mâché and stuck in place by globs of avant theater; Denma and Laurence have been huffing it backstage like it cures a stuffed up nose. The French and English sing-song of their debut EP complements the cinematic textures, be it the grinder glam popped “You Left Me” or the dramatic slowcore descent of “Desert of Trees and Water.” It’s surprisingly svelte for an out-of-thin-air performance trip. It’s weird and wild but never too decadent — two people at ease with their strangeness but not consumed by it. As long as Hey Mother Death produces more oblique ensembles such as deconstructed spoken ballad “Black Monday,” we’ll keep coming back for them. And the face paint? Gotta pick up more of that.

Links: Hey Mother Death

Raajmahal

Celandine

[CS; Digitalis]

In line with his recent string of Decimus LPs, Pat Murano and the rest of Raajmahal create gut-wrenching music of incredible merit. Unlike the unsteady din of Decimus and NNCK, Murano’s guitar is far more restrained — uneasily so. It’s a mournful processional throughout Celandine, as guitar notes and gentle echo match the timbre of Carla Backer’s weeping voice. This is cast-your-body-on-the-casket shades of slobbery meditation, though the Eastern influence finds Celandine resembling the overcrowded Ganges rather than a stuffy funeral plot. You’ll bathe in it alongside floating bodies, as they wade in centuries of bones, flesh, and sacrifice. I want to turn to ash with Raajmahal guiding me to eternal light…….

Links: Digitalis

Soft Encounters

Professional Seamen

[one-sided 10-inch; Monofonus Press]

Damn, this is juicy. Soft Encounters not only encompass Luke Fasano (Yeasayer, Ex Models, Family Band, People Get Ready) and Zach Lehrhoff (Knyfe Hyts, Ex Models, the Seconds), of note for Gumshoe mainly for the Ex Models connection — they were great — but chop up their compositions so thoroughly they land somewhere between the more abstract work of Hot Guts and the earliest work of Mi Ami. Not that these comparisons are valid; the best bands transcend them, and while Soft Encounters won’t change your life, their output via this gorgeous one-sided 10-inch (with silk-screened Side B) is of its own time and place. Take a dirty beat, float it in a few layers of guitar squall, spin it all around until the listener becomes disoriented, then move on to the next trick. Another victory for Monofonus Press, an entity schooled well in the ways of audio-as-art.

Links: Soft Encounters - Monofonus Press

Hakobune

Apparitions Just Outside the View

[CS; Ginjoha]

We’ve all found ourselves afloat in a body of water, readily accepting the hand dealt to us by fate, God, Satan, the man — it’s life. But in this moment, with the cool water lifting our relaxed body, it doesn’t matter. The good, the bad — it all washes away. It is beyond the physical world; we have entered the metaphysical. Apparitions Just Outside the View is the sound embodiment of the -ness. What makes us who were are, what makes the world what it is. It’s jargon for poets and philosophers to volley toward the artistic void. You feel it when it’s just you and weightlessness. Hakobune feels you and your weightlessness and transforms it into the -ness. All your questions are answered in the meditative drones, as Hakobune asks better, more intuitive questions. This has nothing to do with the spectral and everything to do with the spiritual. However you worship, whomever you follow, ditch it for the -ness. The -ness knows all.

Links: Hakobune - Ginjoha

Ralph White

The Hanged Man

[CS; Sloow Tapes]

Sloow Tapes has for years (and continues to be) one of the most consistent labels doing it, and as such, each release deserves to be highlighted — I’ll go with Ralph White’s The Hanged Man here, if for no other reason than I have to narrow it to one choice and this one is the most recent to land in my mailbox. Several of the songs on this tape are covers — country standards, mostly, though you wouldn’t recognize it save for White’s voice, which has a Southern quality without being a rural caricature. Where White’s skilled banjo-picking would act as Southern signifier, the music is supplemented by equally virtuosic thumb piano playing, which energetically add the sparkles that drive the song in the way an arpeggiated synth line would drive the latest “best new track.” The diverse range of instruments and sounds make the style more difficult to codify and file away under such vague terms as “country” or “world,” and therefore easier to interact with as they are, so that when the tracks do end up in full-fledged fiddle shredding, it calls equally to mind John Cale and Bob Wills. The pairing of Sloow with Mr. White is as illogical as it is totally natural (a compliment to both parties), and it’s certainly an interesting twist to listen to it in the context of the rest of the label’s catalog (too extensive to list here, but no stranger to Japanese psych, astral folk, or the coordinates at which those genres meet modern mystic poetry, among others). The label description claims the album will bring you “out there,” but for me, it had the effect of taking me “in there,” to a place of freedom, playfulness, and dialogue with the listener.

Links: Ralph White - Sloow Tapes

Various

The Lemon Tape

[CS; Hobo Cult/Kinnta]

The mixtape, in its literal form, seems eerily obsolete. This website holds onto its visage like grim death, a point of pride among our legion. Those doomed to a world post-mixtape will exist in a sad world, one without hope springing eternal or the discovery of a band that would otherwise never hit our radar. It’s this inspirational well that The Lemon Tape is drawn from. Hell, just look at the hippie, happy cover art. It’s sunshine all over this cassette, coming straight from the unicorn and rainbow capital, Montreal. Shit! Quebec is not only seeking independence, it’s also stealing psych-pop from under the noses of capitalist Canadian swine! Oh, what joyous rays of subversion to be soaked in! The Lemon Tape is the world’s greatest mixtape, steeped in Montreal’s finest psychedelic purveyors. The lazy swoon of Brave Radar’s “A Spike” fueling a quick sprint across an overgrown field. The Capital of Plastic Daffodils pillaging 1960s Frisco and repurposing it with scratched sexuality on “Princess.” The Yesteryears tapping into a world where Jackie Browne stars Joan Baez rather than Pam Grier, the ferocity of drug trafficking replaced by a gigantic hookah soul-out. It’s all peace and love here, sugar.

Links: Hobo Cult/Kinnta

Lockbox

Hypersecret

[CS; Animal Image Search]

In this day and age, people should refuse the phrase “day and age.” Check it, th’oh: modern singer/songwriters attain originality through distributing a familiar character that only pertains to the artist being 100% involved in their music. Examples: Lil B or Savage Young Taterbug direct their own style of music, implement it within their recording process, instruments, and confines of character, and using any means of modern distribution. Distribution being the internet creating a hugely false sense of community to everyone on it. Familiar, yet personalized character being what sets these artists aside from any other DIY-style musicians, encompassing the modern-day singer/songwriter persona. Character, as in who they replicate: Lil B being someone’s little brother, and Savage Young Taterbug being the uncle who creeps kids at gas stations. Thus, rookie Lockbox is characterizing youth submitting to infinity. Maybe he is. Maybe all these people, one day, will have trouble describing who they were or will have trouble finding their music and information on it. Don’t search here; this is just my imagination puking. Back the fuck up, future!

Links: Lockbox - Animal Image Search

Rose Croix

Rose Croix

[CS; Brave Mysteries]

The industrial world is often micromanaged to a few mainstream touchstones (mostly those who came before Nine Inch Nails and those who came after), neglecting the wealth of demur and sadistic tones the genre has conjured for nearly half a century. The machinery of manufacturing transformed over time into a gothic stew of steeled, twisted, and mangled melodies that spoke to man’s new place in a world dominated by technology even as our primal urges to kill, eat, sleep, and fuck ran rampant below this already-rusting metallic crust. This is the world in which the anonymous three known as Rose Croix dwell, hiding in the cavernous depths of our soul and waiting to prey upon a world that has crammed its very being into neatly packaged assembly-line products. The trio’s self-titled tape creeks and crawls with the sound of Industrial Revolution as it rots, with vocals sounding more like a new underground language learned after humans forgot their native tongue, when work itself was the primary form of communication. Strange echoes and rattles force themselves in between the spaces, a chilling reminder that this apocalyptic future isn’t as far from our grasps as we’d like to imagine. Wherever these brave beings reside and whatever has brought them to Rose Croix, may they stay as unidentified harbingers of what a world without feeling would resemble.

Links: Brave Mysteries
  

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.