Matthew Dotson
Excavation [CS; Self-released]

This tape by Matthew Dotson is probably not the most ideal choice for review in Cerberus, since it’s my understanding that these reviews are supposed to be pretty short in general. But the Chicago noisenik packs so many different ideas, textures, and inflections into this incredible collage of sounds and styles that I’m going to struggle to keep my thoughts on Excavation as brief here as possible. My understanding is that Dotson records most of his work live, with sound sources culled from collected recordings of his world travels (notably Japan for the A-side of this tape, which features some pretty prominent Koto playing somewhere in the first half). But a lot of this stuff feels more than just live tape mixing and manipulating of found sounds — everything feels very performed, from moments of break-beat/noise that reminds me of some of Mouse on Mars more free-form mind scrambles, or maybe even Aphex Twin, to some drowsy extensions of electric guitar tones that drift into downtrodden post-rock, like outtakes from an older Tortoise LP strung together into a medley of beauty, intrigue, and general craziness. Aside from the sheer variety of sounds, and the complexity with which everything is woven together (truly excellent pacing through all of this, by the way), dynamics and solid understanding and exploitation of the stereo space are also some of Dotson’s stronger suits. Both sides are deep and compelling excursions into environments that remain hopelessly musical. That is, Excavation is a real album to be listened to for those basic musical elements in addition to being a tapestry of noises giving us something to awkwardly stare at in confused wonder.

Links: Matthew Dotson

Terminator 2

s/t

[CS; Handmade Birds]

You can’t just go ‘round killing all the other bands, Terminator 2! Love where this Denton, Texas, three-piece’s doom-obsessed heads are at. It’s not brain surgery: Slowwww basslines that never stop, ever; occasional guitar sludge but not all the time; copious effects that do so much more than take up space… if you like those Hell records (I and II, plus a split with Thou) and/or Gravity Records you’re all set on this. The singer barks so convincingly even the death-metal legends seem trivial in comparison. He really gets down there, to the depths of his very soul. You can’t argue with that kind of passion, and he’s got a band behind him that fuckin’ stone-owns it. Deep and disconcerting, dark and disorderly, deathly and demented, dour and dim, damned and dismembered, destructive and dogged in their pursuit of doom holiness, Terminator 2 take on intriguing shapes when they’re at their best. I’m shocked at how much I dig this, perhaps more than even the material demands. Just right up my alley I guess, to the point where they’re almost stealing ideas I never had. Asunder, Dead And Gone, Unsane, Bloodlet… so much wonderful history.

Links: Handmade Birds

Hazel’s Wart

Together We Didn’t

[LP; Skrot Up]

Shit, I know the most important influences on the Together We Didn’t LP hailed from Seattle circa the early 1990s, but what’s with that opening riff? Are Hazel’s Wart aware that it’s the riff from “You Could Be Mine”? Way out of line, boyz. I forgive ye because thine stabs at a pre-grunge revival hit these ears as fairly promising, also reeking of the old SST stable. The melodic vocals balance out the soft-garbage buzz of the guitars, and the speaker-raping qualities present for much of the record can’t escape a quick mention of… ahhh fuggit, I won’t even go there. Mostly Together We Didn’t just rocks (save for when it’s not; there are a few soundtrack-style flourishes) it’s motherfuckin’ ass off, and I can’t tell you how much I need that in my life right now. Can’t stop; won’t stop; don’t stop.

Links: Hazel’s Wart - Skrot Up

William Basinski

Shortwavemusic

[7-inch Reel; Auris Apothecary]

Pleasantries first: Auris Apothecary and Cerberus entered the world the same day in the same year. I consider this no coincidence, for we are all particles connected to one another by hippie bullshit that doesn’t matter in the end because we’re all screwed up. AA transmits that and we report it. And for more than a decade, William Basinski has had to be swallowed by the same damning press all because his masterwork happened to find its completion as the twin towers of the World Trade Center sadly crumbled on the same day. Irony isn’t always fun , but AA’s twisted smirks and Basinski’s fragile compositions can make it so. Shortwavemusic’s latest reissue (of many from the 1982 composition) came in the midst of New Year’s in the guise of a 1/4-inch tape on a 7-inch reel. Without purpose, I hunted eBay to find a working reel-to-reel player for which to listen. I read, I studied, and I coveted. And here it is a pile of tape on the floor after heart and soul has been poured into such a centerpiece. But music isn’t for show, it’s for hearing. But AA does not heed such consequences, for it embraces both (always for the better). They knew what a clumsy but adventurous shell would do armed with 7-inches of reel. I’m sure many have framed and hung theirs by the chimney with care, but I sledgehammered it down to obtain the precious and put it through its paces. And it sounds good–oh so good. I’ve wrapped myself like a mummy in its discards, trying to contemplate where AA begins, Basinski takes over, and Cerberus ends. It all comes out too Donnie Darko for my tastes, so I try to ignore the coincidences. I try to focus on what each of us does and in that, I find solace. Shortwavemusic is an empowering piece, triumphant in a time where shows of aggression or talking loudest win fights. AA and Basinski take no such course. We shall oblige.

Links: William Basinski - Auris Apothecary

Zåth

Shitpig

[7-inch; Captcha]

I came into Zåth’s debut 7-inch naive and left it bleeding anally and crying in the corner, in a towel. How exactly does a band featuring a member of Cave (not to mention GA’AN) sound like this? I’m bloody-well on board with absolutely everything that occurs over the course of this 45 RPM platter, from the blackened metal shards to the hardcore to the NWOBHM to the Forced Entry-then/White Shit-now thrash. I might seem a bit eager to champion side-project metal (having backed that Tim Cohen black-metal group, not to mention that Dominic Fernow black-metal group and that Mt. Eerie black-metal group) but when it’s this fun I just don’t give a fuck. They appear to know their shit, besides. Produced to maim and trebly enough to kill a dog. Looks like you picked the wrong week to quit crank…

Links: Captcha

Pierrot Lunaire

This Love of Mine

[CS; SicSic]

A big old double tape of crazy from California’s John DeNizio, who goes by Pierrot Lunaire in Weirdo Cassette Tape Land. He serves as mayor there. I like to imagine that’s his little world pictured on the cover, he the conductor of the local band which is full of strange creatures trumpeting flatulent notes and fluttering their way through alien scales, drummers pitter-pattering away with toys, a blown out saxophone moaning in mournful howls. Interjections of synth-whatsits, vocal groans, and windy whooshes of noise, all of it haphazardly built on a volatile and unstable surface, ready to topple if something so much as sneezes. Barely listenable, but it engulfs in a whirling pool of mysterious improvisation and psychedelic wonder. There’s also an old phonograph in the back of the room playing Benny Goodman, doused in everclear. Pierrot Lunaire creates the kind of surrealistic nightmares your great grandparents might have on their death bed upon contracting the Ebola virus at the ripe-old age of 102. Hallucinations aren’t just a side-effect of the music; they just come with the territory.

Links: Pierrot Lunaire - SicSic

ONO

Albino

[LP; Moniker]

Perhaps no LP of 2012 took more chances than this one. Always-out-of-place soul-croons splayed atop spindly post-punk riffs, funk bass, shifting beats, legions of effects, and storm stress? Not what anyone would have asked for last year or any year, yet here ONO are, and there Albino was, dropped into the past from the future naked and confused like Kyle from the first Terminator. Perhaps that Pere Ubu has a thrilling new record out is not a coincidence, no? That’s the closest touchstone I could find (Wilderness, Xiu Xiu, and Blackout Beach also ring a bell), though the process of proliferation in the tape world has no doubt produced something roughly in this vein that I haven’t heard. You don’t even get the chance to catch your breath either, at least not until the third track, wherein ONO embrace a more barebones template and succeed at sewing subtlety into their arrangements. Take away the vocals and some of these tunes are Portishead-esque, while the singing reminds me of some of those experiments Excepter were into early on, not to mention a male version of Niobe. Three-hundro copies on white-flecked-with-black wax for you croc hunters out there.

Links: Moniker

FWY!

Any Exit

[CS; Moon Glyph]

Are you fucking with me? Am I fucking with you? What’s this 80s slacker elevator cool bullshit doing in my bass heavy rock and soul? Any Exit, the latest from Edmund Xavier/Glenn Donaldson/Skygreen Leopards lives up the project’s heady internet total recall. It’s a throwback to minimal Liverpoolian house-gaze. Though I just made that up, it seems Xavier has created awesome music to this mangled genre identifier, filling a need nobody expected they had but soon to discover they did. Hit the club all in white and stare at your shoes through the end of the night. Then cruise home in the dawn with the comedown of “Pink Dust.” YOLO. TLTR. LOL.

Links: Moon Glyph

The Drunken Draculas

Dead Sounds

[CS; Old Monster]

Keen observers of our fair website may recall my hard-cool excitement over Richard Swift gone garage a long five years ago. It’s a trend I’ve continued to tail from a host of regional acts all hammering out three chords in grungy basements and dusty backyards, all trying to recapture an era none of us lived in but have read much about. Maybe we’ve even bought a few dog-eared records from yard sales and pawn shops. It has led me to the Drunken Draculas (or them to me, if you will). It’s a twisty, half-played mess of vibrant bass, oaken vocals and silly monster references (“The Tranny was a Zombie,” “Old Ass Troll,” “Dracula Stole My Gal”). All two minute blisters that begged to be popped so the 60s ooze all over your boil covered body. If you found this during a bin (dumpster?) dive, you’d be holding a classic that never existed. As it stands, 2013 is the year of half-assed garage rock and you know you’ve been waiting for it. No more outer space zones and intricate geometric trigonometry bullshit. Just guys and gals in small confines beating and strumming and strumming and smoking and smoking and blistering. It’s been prophesied in these very pages. The little critters of nature, they don’t know that they’re ugly…

Links: The Drunken Draculas - Old Monster

Luminance Ratio / Oren Ambarchi

DreamLES/Curfew

[7-inch; Kinky Gabber]

Oren Ambarchi personifies what we tend to dig over here at TMT, “Curfew” yet another reason to get acquainted with the Sydney-borne guitarist/percussionist, though there’s not much most would recognize as guitar or percussion (it’s there though). It’s a thick, milky drone, abetted by crotales, bells, and cello, all set to eternal-drift mode. I love Brian Wilson, but fuck ‘im; this is a middle-aged symphony to god. There’s not much Ambarchi can’t do, simply put. Luminance Ratio’s side whips itself into more of a Six Organs-style trance, with wisps of percussion sliding subtly in and out of the background as an ominous tone hovers like a shark of a storm cloud. When the wind whips up in Corpus Christi as it has these past few days you need immense records like this to pin your soul to the ground and blow back against the gales, and the luminous red pressing doesn’t do much to impede the joy within. Hand-numbered, hotcakes on the side (disclaimer: no cakes, hot or otherwise, come with this 7-inch).

Links: Luminance Ratio / Oren Ambarchi - Kinky Gabber

News

  • Recent
  • Popular

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.