Lunar Miasma
Existence [CS; Hooker Vision]

There’s a film out in various parts of the world at the moment titled Apollo 18, which shows the horrors of a fictional space expedition from NASA gone horribly wrong. The idea of space as a horrid and ill-begotten spectacle is all too familiar in Western storytelling, and though Athens, Greece’s Lunar Miasma hints at some of that moon fever in name, the long-running project of Panos Alexiadis seeks a musical independence based in the stars, not some bloodthirsty need to prey on explorers of the cosmos. Existence does have a bit of madness to it, from the tense synth to warped speed changes. But somehow there is a welcome disconnect between space and horror; perhaps it’s the subtlety with which Alexiadis operates. Existence is often hush, serene. It chooses its moments and takes advantage of them, leaving much of the tape to be a reflective — meditative — experience. When the last click of the B-side pops, you’ll wonder just how many epiphanies were had… and why you’re so drawn to watching reruns of Carl Sagan and Jack Horkheimer.

Links: Hooker Vision

Dead Wife / Hunters

Dead Wife/Hunters

[7-inch; Swill Children]

Hunters are out of control then suddenly cool, calm, and collected, then out of control again. They pin The Je Ne Sais Quoi’s beating soul to the lapel of Hot Snakes and that pretty much solves the riddle right away: the new fuzz-meets-oi generation has another nice patch on its jack-it. Dead Wife are even better if you’re looking for a more punk-shot-in-the-teeth kinda time. Scared/scary vocals that wriggle from the speakers like alien worms, trebly guitars/drums and a metric ton of punk attitude; all it takes, really. In the time it takes to smoke a cig DW have spit out three wads of scrappy, loose-high-hat joy, and then you’re left to set the needle back OVER and OVER just to get that rush again. Not quite as heavy as that Kyklooppien Sukupuutto 7-inch from last issue and not as din-damaged as labelmates Okie Dokie; more of a straight-ahead ride, and that’s okay. Swill-Chil, kings of the hit-split.

Links: Swill Children

Horse Marriage

“Pee-Chee” / “I Need to Tell You…” b/w “Lay Your Hands on Me”

[7-inch; Avant Archive]

By Jove, those damn Yanks are at it again. Raising their raucous and being a general menace to society — what with their Christian Republicans and comedians-as-politicos. And what’s with their music? They’ve gone through styles so often that it’s a wonder they haven’t adopted recycling more readily considering all the borrowed nostalgia that fills their noggins. But I say, what ‘ave we here!? Those damned boys from Horse Marriage! Those boys run the wonderful Roll Over Rover label and they’ve gone and made and released a 7-inch, featuring the old time rocker “Pee-Chee” from the jolly Eisenhower Interstate? Pee-Chee,” with its classic jangly guitars and open road charge while we’re all stuck on A1 — it’s quite a fist to the ol’ knocker. At least they rekindle their ‘experimental’ hearts with “I Need to Tell You,” a mello-yello’d collage of answering machine messages and subtle guitar strums that ease into a hypnotic drone. Then they go and muck it up with the slacker anthem, “Lay Your Hands on Me.” Who do they think they are, trying to blend alternative rock with Bay Area cool? I guess we’ll just never understand those beer-swilling, Palin-loving, Puritanical ‘Mericans. Now pass me the spotted dick.

Links: Avant Archive

The Sandwitches

Duck Duck Goose

[one-sided 12-inch; Empty Cellar]

The Sandwitches are in the right place at the right time… if they were a garage-psych band. As it stands, they are a beat apart from many of their counterparts, standing strong as a folk act with trippy tendencies that are by no means played to the hilt. Except in the in-between-song skits, which feature, apparently, ACTUAL duck-duck-goose audio and tantra-video wave sweeps and sonic whirls. Did I mention Cat Power? Yep, gotta be said, as an influence. The Fresh & Onlys? Yep, should be mentioned because of certain connections I’ll let you flesh out for yourself. But remember, this is gentle, morose music with a meek-sad combo tough to resist no matter which genre(s) you call home. Surprisingly full for a one-sided LP, too; it lasts. Liz Janes, Neko Case, Devendra Banhart, Yo La Tengo, Brightblack Morning Light (it’s been too long since I thought of them)… feast your ears and use your imagination to fill the blank Side B. 500 copies to buy, yourself.

Links: Empty Cellar

Fallen Axe

Moments Together

[CS; Calypso Hum]

Is there anything Frank Ouellette can’t do? Honestly, the rhetorical nature of such a question must be squashed at this point. As Hobo Cubes (and curator of the Hobo Cult label), a member of Velvet Chrome, Ouellette has used several noms de plume as a means to reach new musical plateaus. As Fallen Axe, Ouellette allows warped guitar passages do the talking. The results are rough — more like idea sketches that often find themselves fully realized in other Ouellette personas — but the glimpse into the creative process yields some gems bridging the spatial with the concrete. Much of Moments Together disassembles Ouellettet’s inherent pop synth sensibilities, transforming his guitar into a jackhammer. Notes are heavily plucked or barely touched, left to waft among the dust and disease. As is the case with most of his projects, there is no rival to Fallen Axe. The mechanic strums of haphazard approach yielding some new form of abstract pop art, the sort that not even Andy Warhol would have dared to create. In ugliness, we find beauty; in decomposition, we find growth. Yet another flag planted by Ouellette for the modern French [Canadian] musical revolution, one worth submitting to.

Links: Calypso Hum

Last Remaining Pinnacle / Pan Galactic Straw Boss

Last Remaining Pinnacle / Pan Galactic Straw Boss

[7-inch; Custom Made]

This easily could have slid to the back of the pile, but… it got lucky, and so did I, I suppose. Last Remaining Pinnacle: Jesus/Mary Chain guitars, a syrup container pouring over and over, a stonefaced vocalist content to be anything but the focal point, nonexistent bass; stop me if you’ve endured this one. Better than most examples of this BRMC madness on the club roster and deceptively catchy. Pan Galactic Straw Boss are a post-rock band with a busy-bee drummer and some tricky, dick-kicking climaxes that sound to be an update on the Mogwai school of closing a deal (rumble, build, CRASH-EXPLODE-CRUSH-MUSH), with young musicians determined to not just sound like the genre’s leading lights (though they mostly resemble the original model with a few spruced-/juiced-up components). Nothing that’ll have me joining the convent just yet, but if you put this next to, say, the latest Explosions In The Sky record it would hold up just fine. Split decision; later taters.

Links: Custom Made

Kon Tiki Gemini

Azure Maze

[CS; Hooker Vision]

Hooker Vision, the dream of musicians-extraordinaire Grant and Rachel Evans, has been conjuring good feelings since its launch. A whispered secret at first, the Evans’ profile of late (thanks to their joint output as Quiet Evenings and Rachel’s solo work as Motion Sickness of Time Travel) has equally given Hooker Vision its rightful place as the next great cassette label. So when Grant allowed me the honor of checking the new batch, he made sure that I noticed the Russian-based gems HV was sporting. It wasn’t hard to be drawn to Kon Tiki Gemini, largely based on the tape’s art. The minimal collage — large blue sky anchored by the ringed beauty of Neptune and a few Greek busts — seems to also speak to the work of duo Ivan Karib and Sergei Dmitriev. Stuck between space and time, Azure Maze is the sort of mindfuck that does its mind fucking gently; on the down low. The line between the classics and the cosmos is bridged by A-side thinker, “Path Curves.” The drizzling synths act as the wormhole between old and undiscovered, with percussive ticks and tocks counting off the days, weeks, and years of traveling the paranormal. The B-side is where things get nutty, with the futuristic vibe enjoying a pit stop at an Old West saloon, with a player piano adding an eerie camp to the exploration of space and sound. Whether Karib and Dmitriev are long lost Cosmonauts trying to find their constant through Azure Maze is anyone’s venture; at least we get to enjoy the strange trip with ‘em.

Links: Hooker Vision

Shit And Shine / Expensive Shit

Shit Split

[7-inch; Monofonus Press]

If I’m remembering correctly, Shit And Shine’s 12-inch on Badmaster played a lot softer — then again, it doesn’t get much harsher than their side of this burnt shish-kabob of a timeshare, “Romantic and Maybe at the Same Time.” This thing is a shard of glass stuck in flesh and getting deeper with every movement, a steady glob of tense, urgent static whose sudden shifts and high-pitched bursts will… to be honest, wake up your family (which … COOL!). Likely familiar to many as a Load band (though S&S put out most of their stuff on Riot Season), Shit live up to that torture-sound tag on Side A. Side B … well for fucking out loud, this is more like it. Expensive Shit — I hate to be so smitten but I’ll just go with it — make music that does what I like music to do these days. Very dubby, but as if dub has been broken and can’t get up. A lumbering beat, several elements spiraling and fluttering like multi-colored sparklers, general creepiness? Check, check, and check. Works on 33 and 45? Fuck you, YOU LIED TO ME.

Links: Monofonus Press

Annelies Monseré / Richard Youngs

Three: Four Split Series Vol. 3

[10-inch; Three: Four]

The name of the Volume 3 of Three: Four’s split series game is patience — the compositions of Annelies Monseré and Richard Youngs tests the limits of your stereo speakers and your desire for progression. Monseré slowly swallows the A-side with multiple interpretations of one song. “Sand” is put through the wringer, carefully etched out melodica, guitar, piano, cello, and organ. The song is manipulated not only by Monseré’s choice of instrument but also by tempo and lyrical variants. The melodica version is quick and kitsch, counterbalanced by the hauntingly beautiful guitar version that likens itself to the icy refrains of Grouper. The highlight lies in the organ version, combining the frightful melody with a dark carnival tinge, lending “Sand” features of both good and evil; the ultimate dichotomy. Youngs’ 10-minute “Be Brave, This World,” is a strange combination of Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and Peter Gabriel’s most experimental works. The song, despite its rather rigid backbone, remains an attention grabber in large part to the heavy tremolo that envelopes the sparse guitar and the errant lyrical afterthoughts of Youngs. Everything bleeds into one, sharp guitar vibration. The only sad thought with this particular split is how made-for-collaboration Monseré and Youngs are. Their skill set would be much better served producing 5 songs together — let’s make it happen.

Links: Three: Four

Metal Rouge

Then in Shadow

[CS; Bezoar Formations]

From issuing an LP on Emerald Cocoon to quietly putting out a CD-R on Not Not Fun a few years back, Metal Rouge know how to stay in the sub-level indie-noise news. “Then in Shadow” dispenses with story and goes straight for the gripping headline over and over. It’s Landed playing post-hardcore with John Wiese on effects. Drums are being played somewhere in the goo — they pop up like potatoes in split pea sometimes with a skronk strut, others with a more measured gallop on the ride and snare. The spazzy, seance-style vocals aren’t anything new — try a Book Of Shadows tape or a Spires That In The Sunset Rise LP — and yet I miss them now that they’re not crinkling my ears. OOP – they’re back. I think she’s hiccuping now (you can never tell with these damn things), really frothing at the mouthpiece. I suppose it’s what this din requires, small, chippy abrasions to match large, gaping maws of expansive sound. Seriously though, lady: The world’s done caved in and you’re just going to shriek? Time to bury your dead and start a new life; maybe… maybe I can help you.

Links: Bezoar Formations

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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.