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


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


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



[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

Buffalo Bangers


[7-inch; Private Leisure Industries]

Hearing this much character in a lead vocal is enough to draw notice on its own; that Buffalo Bangers also own a gregarious moniker and sprightly sound, well, is icing atop a fresh-baked cake of life. Not sure where Blockaders fits, of course. There was a band called Pigeon outta Cali a decade or so ago, not to mention the RTX/Howling Hex crowd, The No Nos, a few of the HoZac bands, and several riot grrrl acts, but in the here/now, you just don’t find acts with the ass-plastering sass the Bangers possess. Straight-line drums/bass, clean guitar either hittin’ a riff or running through an arpeggio or two, and that pristine personality-plus voice = keep Gumshoe posted. White vinyl with spraypaint insert never hurt anyone, either.

Links: Private Leisure Industries

Galaxy Toobin’

Galaxy Toobin’

[CS; Not Not Fun]

Audible groans are heard across the space-time-internet continuum. Galaxy Toobin’? Really? But in a bit of a rich but apropos cliché, please do not let the chosen name of Elliot Lipp and William Burnett’s collaboration steer you away from this dutiful delight. The San Andreas creep Not Not Fun has undertaken to transform its once scruffy psychedelic self into a new-new-new wave dance synth label has finally taken hold, and Galaxy Toobin’ is the sort of repetitive kitsch that will win over new fans and old haters alike. Lipp and Burnett may owe much of their sound to 1970s and 80s lo-fi technology, but the end results are only dated by the timestamp of media deliverance. Existing on a plane where ravers aren’t stuck with mind-numbingly loud techno and wallflowers aren’t made of petrified wood, the self-titled from Galaxy Toobin’ grooves with the pulsating energy of an all-night discotheque with just enough Euro chill to keep the party from becoming a mess of sweaty assaults. This once LP is now on cassette for the car rides to the unknown midnight warehouses, your 85 Dodge Omni now its own galactic vehicle fueled with the promises of fleeting love and magnetic synth makeouts.

Links: Galaxy Toobin’ - Not Not Fun

Zac Nelson

Toward Your Own Worlds

[CS; Field Hymns]

Zac Nelson may be an unfamiliar name, but the dude known as Hexlove and as one-half of aural assault freakout Chll Pll literary takes a chill pill under his given name. Towards Your Own Worlds is Nelson’s most beautiful work to date, eschewing seizure-inducing syncopation for carefully layered calm. The cassette is a practice in meditation, channeling good vibes through subtle drones and droll rhythms. “Labendolla” channels early Honey Owens, an eerie but hopeful minimalism. “Borne By Tropical Waves Within Their Foamy Bosom” is a rolling composition, a true exploration of Nelson’s many influences being slowed by the oncoming Ice Age. Towards Your Own Worlds is cinematic in both scope and delivery, a laser-focused finale to the jittery beginning of Nelson’s career as he transitions to more mature but equally exciting work. Toward Your Own Worlds may be the product of maturity, but Nelson proves it only in the practice, not in dulling his imagination.

Links: Field Hymns

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.