MT Coast
BEACH ++ [LP; Dismantle]

MT Coast’s Beach ++ sounds like a lot of recent records, but the good ones, so who am I to argue with its elemental, tractor-beam pull? What begins as a drone drizzle a la Earn’s A Following Shadow and William Cody Watson’s Bill Murray LP morphs into an electronic hive of activity, synths buzzing in and out. (I’m not just saying that because the first cut is called “Bee Wonder,” by the way.) A cut-and-paste section yields to more drone, this of the filmic, fuzzy, distant variety, revolving like a planet and with just as much patient power. Smoky static crackles and walkie-talkie chatter close out the first side, and leave you wondering where they’re going to take this fuckin’ thing. Are we playin’ ball or what here, feller? MT Coast answer back with a minimalist torrent of bass, topped with crispy electric current that slices into the action like video-game lightning. “|3uRowZ” is a hot piece, then “\openup" brings on more of the comatose drift, call it spiritual drone, that makes you just want to melt into the floor (and the one time I tried salvia I thought I was doing just that; not pleasant). Well done, old chap. Victorious, swinging church bells and (possibly) kettle drums soon point the way to a soapy sound wave, coupled with sultry guitar, that will soak up your brain matter as it lulls you to sleep. How strange/strangely apt/aptly strange. Two-hundred copies stand between you and getting kicked out of the bungalow…

Links: Dismantle

Crooked Columns

Chemical Mysticism

[CS; Black Horizons]

The execution of Crooked Columns’ Chemical Mysticism is flawless, from the multi-fold cover to the full-sounding production to the ambitious, wreathed-in-flame, dark-electronic, film-music mission of the band. Very incisive stuff that uses repetition to its advantage rather than to the listener’s eternal boredom. Not an easy thing to do. There’s a shamanic trance-out on Side 1 that might be one peyote trip to the desert short of being technically illegal in this country. It storms over the soundscape like a group of bandits overtaking a small village, dark and demanding, yet with a laser edge that continues to evoke that soundtrack-y feel, fireworks and all. And there’s a lot more where that came from; Chemical Mysticism is relentlessly, almost horrifyingly evil at times, and you’ll appreciate the extra hint of spite. Never an iota of drone complacency despite the long run-time of the tape, and yet another stellar cassette that will be plucked up and re-released on vinyl at some point, even if it means future civilizations will have to mine it from a molten core of corn syrup underneath the earth’s crust. Easily one of my favorites of the year, on any format, and still available from the label.

Links: Crooked Columns - Black Horizons

Double Morris

Best of the Hightone Years

[CS; Pilgrim Talk]

Instantly impressive is the post-Sebadoh, no-fi, NZ-influenced Double Morris project. They’re transmitting Best of the Hightone Years through a toilet-paper tube, so you have to listen like a motherfucker before you even realize the lyrics are still, in fact, unintelligible. Doesn’t matter. A lot of drama baked into these indie brownie bites/bread bowls, and a lot of indifference, too. Why is that so goddamn attractive to the ear? This fuckin’ simp sounds totally emasculated and even emaciated, yet it makes perfect sense to the warped mind. Probably drools on the mic, too. Tracey Trance should check this out if he hasn’t already. The riffs are piledriver-simple, save a few delightful examples, the noisy sections scrape by satisfactorily, and the songs jerk to a halt like the snap of a turkey neck before you effin’ know what hit you. It’s like listening to The Germs, Pumice, and good ol’ D.J. wrapped into one, though obviously Double Morris still have a ton of work to do. There’s a few instrumentals on here that veer away from that premise entirely, however, so don’t expect a quick walk-through. Not what you’d expect from Pilgrim Talk, and thus is an even more impressive find for this busy imprint.

Links: Pilgrim Talk

Dog Haullcination

Serving Two Masters

[3-inch CD-R; Intangible Cat]

Summer is finally grinding itself to a halt as clouds roll in and it gets harder to remember what a day without rain looks like. Memories of sunshine remain warm but regrets always seem to lurk just out of sight: concerts unattended, pictures not taken, diary entries that are far too short to give weight to the events they describe, gas burned to make a lunch date only to find the diner has been closed for renovations. What was the name of that girl you met in June?

All this thinking needs a soundtrack. What about that CDr, the one with the dyed cloth and pressed sage leaves in a folded paper package printed with a big question mark? Several torn apart drawers and upturned piles of laundry later it’s in the CD case salvaged from that questionably purchased black metal album. Pop it in the top-loader and hit play. Three minutes into low-mixed radio hiss, thoughtful guitar plucking and gentle, looping chords and the rightness of this choice is verified. Distinctly earthy and organic rhythm is the guide back towards the beginning of summer, before things got too hot, before your brain took a leave of absence, before your knees and hands had new scars torn into them. Does one ever plan to be sitting, watching the failing afternoon light, listening to quietly thrumming ambience whilst trying to make the past fit cleanly with the present?

It’s probably still warm enough to take a walk this evening. Better make time to enjoy it while it lasts.

Links: Intangible Cat

Zach Phillips

Recorded in Heaven

[CS; Lillerne]

I didn’t realize how UN-jaded I could be until I realized I had a Zach Phillips tape in the hopper I’d been neglecting. BINGO, HEE HEE!!! YEE-FUCKIN’ HAW MY NINJAZ!!! And it’s the best one yet, the songs more fully developed, instincts honed, melodies refined, Michael Cera-style coke problems sorted out (or not), fantasies and reality safely nestled in the same pocket of Phillips’ headspace. Recorded in Heaven to me serves as the richest endeavor of all of this busy bee’s bands because he just does what he wants to do: Post-Ariel Pink synth-pop compositions with heart placed firmly in cheek. And he’s not scared of anything. He veers into extremely surreal territory that evokes Scarface synths, yes, but also a lot of recycled melodies from the 1970s soft-rock scrapyard, not UN-including fucking Chicago and maybe even Christopher Cross. He also thinks he’s John Lennon for a song. And that’s fine. I could see how a regular person might dismiss this but the same doubter would never claim the ride isn’t interesting. Don’t miss Recorded in Heaven or any of the Phillips franchise (Blanche Blanche Blanche, Big French, et al) locations around the country if you value colorful wave crests and/or magical keyz.

Links: Lillerne

Thaniel Ion Lee

Ambiguity Makes the Confusing Seem Normal

[CS; Watery Starve]

Thaniel Ion Lee may be the most restrained composer to grace Watery Starve’s short but impactful run thus far. Ambiguity… is a carefully paced cassette; three pieces per side that blend yet each with unique identities. Lee’s earning real injuries by fracking composition for the gritty, oily fossils only to scoop up the runoff and turn it into usable substances. But think of this as none-the-less precious, as Lynn only cobbled 75 of these together. Too bad, but therein lies the ambiguity of the title. The seedy toil, the labor of love and darkness only to be shared by a select few. That’s what makes this so intimate and coveted. It’s not so much for the collectible nature of the artwork, the packaging, and the music (though all worth the scavenge) but the emotional connection of broken music mended into workable parts. There’s a metaphor worth chasing in here, so scoop up your own handful of sludge and find it.

Links: Thaniel Ion Lee

Henry & Hazel Slaughter

Endless Power Cycle

[LP; Fedora Corpse]

John Olson, giver of so much life to all of us in the noise bunker, once again strengthens his resume outside of Wolf Eyes with a new Henry & Hazel Slaughter LP via ever-reliable Fedora Corpse. H&H threw around some ratchets in the cassette junkyard and now they move on to a vinyl dealership, where, to these ears, they ultimately belong. Endless Power Cycle, considering its title, is an extremely spare venture, with a nervous, hesitant dub beat providing the backbone for a parade of softer drill-bit scrapes that molest, then invade, your ears. Side B gets hairier though, bass rippin’ almost like that Dead Fader EP on Robot Elephant or Metasplice hand-pounded flat, soaked in digital overflow, and laid atop a vicious beat. Much less restraint effects-wise, but it’s still a patient flow that earns every outburst. Not dissimilar to fellow noisenik Aaron Dilloway’s solo stuff, nor many of the artists you’ll find on labels like American Tapes, the imprint that has thus far put out the majority of H&H’s stuff. Soft noise with a dub/electronic undercurrent finds a balance that many veterans of the noise wars gravitate toward, but Power Cycle is a slightly superior battle. If you think 250 copies, on loud-ass ‘I got slime’d’ green vinyl, is a lot, you’re wrong.

Links: Fedora Corpse

The Cairo Gang

Mixtape No. 1 Scandinavia, May 2013

[CS; Teen River]

Emmett Kelly is a noted Bonnie “Prince” Billy collaborator and a musician that I sure as shit should be familiar with, but am sad to say that I am not quite that. Instead, I’m a dumb idiot sitting at a bar on my tenth run-through of Mixtape No. 1 on a Walkman, a collection that isn’t even listed on this Wikipedia page that I am definitely not looking at right now for research… TMI? Oof, maybe. I’ll tell you what though, you don’t need a lot of information about Emmett Kelly to enjoy a band like The Cairo Gang, or indeed this simple eight-song tape that comprises a companion release to The Cairo Gang’s recent full-length, Tiny Rebels. It comes on a tape wrapped in simple cardboard packaging with simple track-info simply printed in simple black ink, block type-face. And I simply love these songs. All said and done, there are one of two types of tunes here: Jangly pop numbers that recall the Byrds as much as they do your (read: my) favorite Guided By Voices moments, or heart-wrenching ballads plucked out with pensive poise. Both items that could be run-of-the-mill, but instead avoid such slander by having stuff like sincerity, honest analog production, those attributes that so often save something great from being just plain old “good.” Pounded out with a shy sort of confidence, any kind of musicianship-flair is saved for those key moments, like in an extended coda of “An Angel, A Wizard” where you’ll hear that lead guitar letting go just enough to make your eyes clench a little tighter and bring that track home. Songs have an inherently catchy geometry that’ll hook the tip of your nose and keep your forehead bobbing: Up and down. Up and down. “Don’t tell me that you’re sorry.” “Don’t lead me down a tunnel.” Sorry, I’m just typing lyrics now, and I’ll keep doing that unless I stop altogether and just tell you to pop this tape in the deck of your convertible, put’er into 5th, head West and be done with it. We all finished here?

Links: The Cairo Gang - Teen River


Solve Et Coagvla

[CS; Land of Decay]

Oikos don’t so much obliterate the traditions of dark-drone as unsettle them. A workmanlike effort, Solve Et Coagvla drifts into a strangely peaceful strum sequence halfway through Side A and you think they’re ready to fold like a pair of 2s. “Coagvla” is a mean one though, leading a grim march into the black cauldron of ambient-guitar death. It’s pretty though, too. The strung-out guitar flutters and other tones ring of urgent beauty, like the monstrously picturesque fires of war. The war rhythms drum up feelings of fury, while the overall effect of the drones creates a wash, albeit one with dominant themes poking through the fray that surge to the front as the track descends. “Altered” is more of a straight-drone approach until a few rowdy, pulsating sound bits gang up on the rest and threaten to swallow the cut whole. Then it’s all sanded down again, etc. You know the drill if you’ve been paying attention to the tape game for even a few months, yet Solve Et Coagvla is a manageable excursion that never feels unconsidered.

Links: Land of Decay


Satan Replicant

[CS; Deathbomb Arc]

It’s not tough to see it coming: The cassettes sound so damn good you just know a vinyl merchant is going to inquire about this stuff sooner or later. Fairhorns’ Satan Replicant establishes itself as a force early on, and without realizing who’s behind it you might think you’re hitting on somethin’ unknown and/or private. That is not the case; apparently Geoff Barrow of Portishead (yes, THAT Portishead) recruited Matt Loveridge for Beak>, and Foot Village recently fitted him for a spell. That’s all well and merry, but Satan Replicant is where it’s at. Loveridge’s post-chillwave brew of swirling drone-rock shatters the facade we’ve all gotten used to in cassette culture, waiting for the eternal drift that will never come. He says FUCK THAT and lays down idiosyncratic instrumentals and vocals from a distance that suggests discomfort with all that is crystal-clear, though that is not a crutch; not ever. I’d liken Satan most to those next-level tapes Double Dot Dash seems to be able to pump out. So good they just can’t be cassette-only for long (or can they? Don’t wait to find out.).

Links: Deathbomb Arc

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.