Komodo Haunts
Dance on the Serpent’s Neck [CS; Jehu & Chinaman]

We smoked a joint before hopping into the hot springs about 60 miles East of our home in Fairbanks, Alaska. It’s 34 degrees below zero, February, and we’re outdoors in the pool with glowing strings of tube lights beneath our feet, green and red and blue, and we’re surrounded by huge rocks bordering the pool. Steam drifts into and around our nostrils, and then further up into the evergreens that tower above. The chill of a breeze drifts briefly by, freezing whatever water droplets are still stuck to the tips of our noses. My best friend is there with me and we’re 16. He’s telling me about how the Japanese travel to where we are just to conceive their children because it’s considered good luck to do so beneath the Aurora Borealis. I cock my head back and notice that it’s up there now, and in the dizziness of having a frozen brain and an overheated heart, the unbalance makes the light shimmer even brighter than usual. Iridescent, abalone colors wave like the flag of an alien nation over our heads, a beacon straight to our brains, calling us forward. Our hearts beating faster, pounding harder like drums in anticipation for something we’re not quite sure about, but it feels right, and good, and celebratory. And we are in a good place. It is 34 degrees below zero and we are in the very best place on Earth, and for that moment it seems, the cosmos.

Links: Komodo Haunts - Jehu & Chinaman

Samantha Glass

Rising Movements

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

I grow weary of the synthesized world. It is beginning to crumble as a two-bit (four-bit, 8-bit) fool clutters up the shelves with unrealized ideas. There is no buck to be made, but the idea that personality and reputation can be forged in a “scene” has led to the muddling. Yet a handful of vanguards have ignored the cattle call in favor of forging ahead rather than falling behind, back into the same traps that muted synth for the better part of two decades. Rising Movements, beyond its titular display, is the apropos shot of nature needed to move forward. Each movement is a re-imagination of “the” movement’s past successes, riffing on the originals with sentimentality and forward thought. These are songs! They progress beyond rudimentary loops and ideas. These are not the work of someone hearing music from a digital ear but of a person able to add human depth and asymmetry to the mechanical. As synth begins a new decay, its half-life coming to an end for many, there will be survivors such as Rising Movements that will forge the new.

Links: Samantha Glass - Constellation Tatsu

Shooting Guns / Cult Of Dom Keller

Down And Out In Detroit / Painted Skulls

[7-inch; Leaning Trees]

What a curious release, one side dedicated to a fairly harmless stoner-doom jam (Shooting Guns’), the other (Cult Of Dom Keller’s) splayed out in post-punk agony like Interpol, A Place To Bury Strangers, Deerhunter, and Liars arguing over who gets to blow their heads off first then jamming the demons away in a convincing end-flourish. I prefer the latter, as it’s solidly produced, is a more comfortable listen, and makes more sense gracing the folds of an expensive vinyl pressing (it’s even conceivable CoDK could get some airplay someday). Yet something about that heavy-ass Shooting Guns jam lingers. It’s sort of like that first Pelican EP; you think to yourself, “Well, I coulda done that,” but you fuckin’ didn’t. And you never will. It’s like that, but with a much more aggressive instrumental posture that flows and grows in stature with each flailing repetition. Some of the Level Plane bands ended up trying to approximate this churning Southern sound, albeit with vocalists crowding the mix, back in the day and failed to bring it across, so it’s fulfilling to hear it receive a revival here. Who needs singers anyway?

Links: Leaning Trees

Brute Heart

Wildfire

[7-inch; Water Wing]

Being a first-time-listener-longtime-caller of Brute Heart, I tried to temper my expectations, and turns out I didn’t need to. Playing bass-drums-guitar in this day and age is a feat in itself; to do so with the originality and fluidity of this fledgling act is that much more convincing. It’s almost a minimal, rhythmic, Stereolab-esque feel laced with more spiky in-D elements, a la Dischord’s lovely Evens, and wrapped in a sheath of echo. At first I rued the existence of a remix of “Wildfire” on the flip, as that normally doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but this re-imagining works on the strength of its alternate phrasing (not to mention the allure of the original product). It might have even benefited BH to render the redux the original product; it seems much more limber this way, despite the extra layer of gauze. Definitely will be keeping my eye peeled for more from this group.

Links: Brute Heart - Water Wing

Lust for Youth

Chasing the Light

[12-inch; Sacred Bones]

As someone in total loathing with much of 80s pop culture (exceptions: Max Headroom, Pinwheel, and Hall & Oates), sometimes it takes but one modern act coping a handful of the scene to make me rethink my position….nope, still hate the decade and any Bret Ellis Easton romantic visions thereof. But that doesn’t mean I hate Lust for Youth, who in the span of two tracks (and a remix) on this steaming 12-inch let me mold those better-lost ten years into something more glorious and dark on the surface than it puts on. Title track “Chasing the Light” is repetitive dance run amok. A sad but relentless Joy Division spirit runs deep, my mascara drizzling down my red cheeks lost in rhythmic hedonism. B-side “Can You Come Closer” is much the same–a continuation of the same thought lost in the downward spiral of 80s club culture in its truest form. Debbie and Tiffany snorting blow in the bathroom, Wang Chung tapping feet in the the stalls.

Links: Lust for Youth - Sacred Bones

The Rainbow Body

Return Unto Void

[CS; Self-Released]

The supernova, or maybe the life-cycle of a star, birth to blinding death. It’s too hot and bright and just plain loud inside something as epically everlasting as eons of light bursting out into the endless heavens, so we should be glad someone like Matt Kattman is able to approximate the event taking place in a relatively short time-span with a guitar on a cassette tape. Articulation and movement is a blur, and the colors are there, but there’s no real prism with which the sound can refract out into the cornucopia of hues you might expect from someone who tags his project “the Rainbow Body.” Instead, that rainbow is hidden within the drones, an immaculate range of frequencies on display with melodies bursting from a warm wash like solar flares, plumes of sound arcing over the atomic furnace before diving back into the fiery depths. Mastered by James Plotkin, this is the second double A-sided Rainbow Body tape of 2012, the perfect format for Kattman’s drones since definition is far from his calling card — Return Unto Void is an infinite moment, the beginning, middle, and end of which are all equally immersive and nearly interchangeable, largely because they don’t really exist.

Links: The Rainbow Body

Kam Kama

Passer​-​By​/​Joseph Stride

[7-inch; Sister Cylinder]

Shimmering indie-rock can survive compression, but I often wish it didn’t have to. The edges of Kam Kama’s “Passerby” seem sanded off, lying flat a tune that could have garnered a lot more momentum from a little dust and/or mud, or maybe something simpler like opening the drapes to let the light in, so to speak. I’m not saying they should cloud up their mix, just don’t pancake that shit. The uptempo nature of the cut rescues the day as quick-pickin’ guitar, delivering what seems like a faster take on a Johnny Marr riff, steps into the forefront and drives the composition home. Very twee-ish, with vocals straight from an Apples In Stereo classic. Nothing wrong with that, in itself, and “Passerby” navigates the possibilities of the preceding adequately. “Joseph Stride,” a lesser exercise with a slow flow, reminds me of Three Mile Pilot, the manipulation of the upper reaches of the bass player’s frets particularly Zach Smith-y. I’d say overall “Stride” doesn’t survive the harsh production, too much of a slow grower to take well to the vitality being sucked from it.

Links: Kam Kama - Sister Cylinder

EN/Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Split

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

The strut; a singular action of confidence amidst a sea of indecision and outward glares that sets the tone for what is to come. Judgment; words eroding silence in betrayal of thought in favor of raw human emotion. It’s the confidence and eager opinion of EN and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma existing on the same cassette that makes me want to ignore all pretenses and create noise amidst a sea of quiet reflection. But that would be contrary to the stoic beauty of this split, perfectly encapsulating the inner fortitude and outer serenity of three individuals in the midst of their creative peaks. EN’s side is 26 minutes of solitude, carefully pursuing intellectual discovery in a pod where all the beauteous imperfections of the world are seen and left undisturbed. It has a Fennesz fragility that makes it warm, but Croy and Devane dot it with their own signatures, unafraid of their talents. JCL is far more abrasive; rather than general observation, he rips into the tree line with his two-part “Blood Variations,” taking EN’s world and viscerally ripping it apart, before leaving human emotion behind for deep meditation. Both artists confident in their art, both proving rationality has a place in music that isn’t cold or unforgiving, like the snickers and stares of those who would rather cast immediate judgment than take in and rationally assess.

Links: EN/Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Constellation Tatsu

Jonathan James Carr

Well Tempered Ignorance

[CS; Field Hymns]

It’s tempting to write some kind of analysis of this tape’s title in relation to Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” since Jonathan James Carr is a classically trained pianist and because, you know, the title. But alas, it is entirely impossible. Made marginally famous for his komische-kraut synth stylings in his regular deal, Seattle’s Brain Fruit, Carr’s debut cassette is an open-structured study in sheer impatience that blends free-jazz with synth-drone (somehow), melodies and unstable hums butted up against each other in some of the most claustrophobic psychedelia known to mankind. Textures, colors, tones, scales, swirls, sparks, spittle, splatter. Not necessarily in that order, usually one or more of those things are happening at the same time, adjectives ramming into each other with blind abandon at breakneck speeds. Your neurons may have a tough time keeping up with side-A, but side-B is a bit more “tempered” as it were, a creamy blend of streaking synths and rolling bass tones with the drone pulsing and engorging and growing and working itself out, sweat glistening off its weary brow. Both sides have enough circular motion to them to leave you dizzy and maybe a little sick, so hang onto both handrails and feel your mind explode as you escalate the figurative steps to Pluto.

Links: Jonathan James Carr - Field Hymns

Rites Of Spring

Six Song Demo

[10-inch; Dischord]

It’s funny how the rumors of tear-soaked shows and such don’t even do Rites Of Spring service. Here’s a precursor to Fugazi (with an uncredited Brendan Canty on drums and a very-credited Guy Picciotto on guitar/voice) with heart and brains and emotion in equal measure. It’s post-punk in its earliest form, a bit of a sneer but also a bit of hope; less detachment for sure, though it’s a given that any great band keeps a bit of distance. Picciotto is a beguiling presence, to be sure. Probably would have been an actor had he not taken up the axe, as he needsyou to listen to him just as he needs you to watch him in concert. It’s interesting to me that Ian MacKaye sought this guy out later because it must have been difficult, in a way, to cede so much of the spotlight to this energetic little pre-emo gremlin. Yet that’s what made Fugazi great, of course, and the rest is fuckin’ history. Don’t forget to study up on Rites Of Spring though, as they’re a crucial, unappreciated (or at the very least under-appreciated) link to the surge of era-defining indie-rock that was to come, the lo-fi buzz of Six Song Demo a suitable, possibly even superior, way to get acquainted if you haven’t already.

Links: Rites Of Spring - Dischord

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.