Sugar Boys
General Store / Back to Business [CS; Black Cheeks]

One of the best things about Tonstartssbandht is their flexibility, and their longform stoner-rock jams, which mostly take form in a live setting, are explored more fully in this Andy White side project. Sugar Boys treat fidelity like the red-headed stepchild it is, boosting the bass to toy boombox levels and engaging in simplified versions of gnarly tangles you might have found on a Comets On Fire LP or Guardian Alien tape. I’m not sure this drummer even knows how to choke off his high-hat; either way he doesn’t try. That’s “First Taape,” the 17-minutes-short opening track. “Hardline” is a slower grunt truck, but the song remains the same: dirt-cheap, dirty deeds done. “Sweet Daddy,” another upwards-of-15-minutes slice of epic curiosity, tries on a different rhythmic slant, and it works. It all depends, however, on your ability to endure audio that almost rocks too hard.

Links: Black Cheeks

Astral Planes Drifter

Sight of Sight

[CS; Rainbow Pyramid]

This slippery, squishy, gloppy piece of audio goo oozed from the yoke of Astral Planes Drifter in 2007 and now blinks to life once again as a tape on the fledgling Rainbow Pyramid imprint. Too bad Sight of Sight is APD’s only documented release, as the dude provided a prototype for a broad swathe of post-noise experimentation we enjoy now. Found sound, voice samples, quasi-tuned guitars, bells, effects, unidentifiable rubble, topped off by morbid production values. I’m thinking of collage artists like Uton and Babe, Terror and production moguls like Joe Meek; also sample obsessives like Haves & Thirds and Buon Giordo Luamada, tossed in a brain salad with a sci-fi mode sprinkled over top. Sight of Sight will be an absolutely devastating find for musicians plumbing similar territory six years after Astral Planes Drifter already went there. It’s the circle of life.

Links: Rainbow Pyramid

Orchard Thief

First Dimension Park

[CS; Golden Cloud Tapes]

Orchard Thief is a new name in my book, but it’s one that’s left an impression with this release from Samantha Glass mastermind Beau Devereaux’s newish imprint, Golden Cloud Tapes. Samuel Molstad fills the spools with gently rolling passages of smooth tunes for endless blood-red sunsets defined by planes of minimal drumming beneath weightless guitar melodies and warbling, tremolo drones. The overall effect is not unlike a lot of your favorite Yo La Tengo zoners, Mostad with an obvious bent for not only psychedelia but jazz improv. Add to it some deep production value (the back beat with just a hint of reverb to make it cut like a knife) and a knack for dynamic arc as Orchard Thief’s tendency for intensity is just as present as is his ability to lull with a lullaby, and that’s First Dimension Park in a nutshell.

Links: Orchard Thief - Golden Cloud Tapes


Pleasure Boy

[CS; Skrot Up]

I’m not sure many of us are ready for Jani/Jussi’s Pleasure Boy. This is the 1980s, early Xiu Xiu, labelmates German Army, Ariel Pink, and Atom & His Package (didn’t see THAT one comin’, did you?) thrown into a cage, given rations for one, and told to FIGHT TO THE DEATH, indie SCUM!!! It’s so raw you might want to bake the tape a little before you ingest it. Distorted, post-Disco Inferno vocals accompany tinker-toy arrangements on a trip to the edge of the world. Jani/Jussi soar when they need to, yet always remain grounded, tethered to their rhythms like magnetized wheels clinging to railroad tracks. That is, until they truck in a drone drift halfway through Side B. Short-story-long, you need to choose this adventure if it hasn’t already chosen you.

Links: Skrot Up

Kenichi Matsubara & S. Terishima

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

[CS; Auris Apothecary]

I once had a difficult time separating video games from real life. I recall an instance as a child, waking up in a fever dream and imagining myself unable to jump over the toadstool barriers of Super Mario Bros. 2; the hallway as claustrophobic as the screen on which the game was contained. It was the simplicity of the time: achieving a singular objective through a straight course of action. Then I was gifted Simon’s Quest and my real world and gaming world came crashing together, the shift of night and day in the game as real as the conscious of my mind. It sounds all drugged and psychedelic but before you get turned on by paper, you get turned on by fantasy and reality intermingling. The back-and-forth of Simon’s Quest felt like everyday life, replacing medial tasks and schoolwork with the pieces of Dracula in order to reassemble and kill (once and for all! yeah right) the mythical ghoul. Now vampires are sexy (why would we dare kill them?) and the music of Simon’s Quest has become embedded in my steps in even adulthood. The jolly daytime romp of rollicking through the city, the adrenaline surge of a nighttime cursed with foul creatures both mythical and all-too-real. And now it plays from a busted car stereo or the abandoned tape player hung from a hook in my shed. Days of chore and repetition given new life by the soundtrack of dusk and death. If that juxtaposition is too deep for those unfamiliar with video games, let this music (and hell, even the 8-bit cartridge from wince it was born) be thy shepherd into blending the best of fantasy into real life. Worry about the consequences later, when you’re searching for a red crystal.

Links: Kenichi Matsubara & S. Terishima - Auris Apothecary

Outer Gods

Beneath the Marred and Blackened Hand

[CS; Big Blonde]

It’s a world-beater attitude under the current of Beneath the Marred and Blackened Hand. I’m reminded of Stone Temple Pilot’s “Creep,” not only because of the wounded hand visual seeping across the planes of time, but because of a particular concert incident more than a decade ago. A young man was feeling up a woman at a STP show, Weiland stopped, shamed the guy (who was also beaten up by the woman) and dedicated “Creep” to anyone un-cool enough to grope women and not take the same amount of heroin as he. What has this to do with Outer Gods and their tape, which just so happens to speak to a mangled limb? Why not a Johnny Tremain or even a Johnny Knoxville reference? Point is, the seething anger of that poor young woman and her reaction, to take back the power and beat up the loser, is the sound of BTMABH. This tape seethes, teeters, and pounces. Its organic screeches and telepathic fireballs to heinous acts is a sound worth basking and channeling. No one should have to go through life scared or angry, so let Outer Gods give you the release and courage to do what needs to be done. Whether that’s putting a dolt in his place or fixing our planet, it’s your choice. Just do it to this tape. Don’t let its appearance fool you. It’s uplifting and victorious over the lords of evil.

Links: Outer Gods - Big Blonde

Simon Joyner

A Rag of Colts: Disgraced Songs 1987-2012

[CS; Unread]

Rag of Colts: Disgraced Songs 1987-2012 is downcast but never self-pitying. Still: Good fuckin’ god, Simon Joyner is a sad bastard. He makes Micah P. Hinson sound like Casey Casem, and this particular collection of tunes plays that side of him up, particularly the long, Texas-style expanse on Side B that’s nothing but plains and drought as far as the eye can see. With every year that passes in my semi-long life I appreciate more the pleasures of hearing a veteran songwriter perform unfettered. It ain’t perfect, but it wouldn’t be no good if it was. “Goodbye to My Loving You,” a tribute to Lou Reed ostensibly, kicks off Rag of Colts so strikingly you wonder how Joyner’s going to follow it, and while the cuts that proceed don’t quite hit the same high, they’re roughly in the same ballpark. Guy-and-guitar win again, against the odds.

Links: Simon Joyner - Unread



[CS; Brave Mysteries]

I wonder what my life would have been like had I been born in a different time or place. These thoughts aren’t birthed from regret or out of past decisions gone awry, but out of curiosity of eras and nations I will never know. It’s why when I die, I hope there is a heaven and it allows me to have remote control access to God’s DVR–no commercials, just eternal marathons of our history and our future. I want to know it all; to breath, taste, feel, and understand my minute place on an overcrowded planet always willing to cut off its nose to spite its face. I have no idea if Connor Camburn has the same thoughts, but his self-titled cassette as Litüus makes me think we share a similar thought pattern as it concerns the everything of nothingness. These lengthy compositions juxtapose various underground influences into a hopper of post-industrial soup. But Camburn’s restraint–unlike the frenzied forwarding and rewinding of my death dream–is what allows Litüus a clarity my vision lacks. It is not concerned with absorbing every piece for personal consumption but rather transmits history as it happened and as it will occur into rumbling works of European-based noise. Extinct languages, forgotten tribes, paradises fallen into the sea–Litüus is a warbling tomb of these things I yearn to see but will never know.

Links: Brave Mysteries


Best Of

[CS; Sanity Muffin]

Yikes, black metal on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon? You bet your bleak balls I’m listening to and reviewing a “best of” tape from this obscure French dark ambient sorcerer, and by God (wait… wrong deity entirely) I like it. Honestly, I have no background or authority on stuff like this, but Moëvöt seems weird enough to the point that it shouldn’t really make a difference. This fellow Vórdb Báthor Ecsed was the leader of a French subculture called Les Légions Noires in the 90s, which was born of the working class and rose in response to a similar Norwegian legion of black metal heroes like Burzum. History aside, what I’m hearing is one of the creepiest spooks in recent memory. But to call this “metal” in the traditional sense is a stretch, since Moëvöt leans toward ambient, acoustic instrumentation and atmospherics while maintaining that sinister scare black metal is generally able to conjure, just without all the electric power. Minor chords plunked out of keyboards in cascading arpeggios, strung thin from mournful viola and cello voices, and haunted with hovering ghosts of falsetto harmony. Match that with the growl of a human whose blood has obviously been curdled at least once (likely twice) and you’re getting there. It all smelts down into a trippy and dizzying fright fest made for moonlit graveyard walks at midnight, yet maintains a strong, really striking sense of black rose’d beauty. Hard to deny the sheer awesomeness of the music, incredibly affecting and powerful in its own right, but the tape leaves something to be desired beyond the compositions or intriguing back-history of this project. A track-listing would have been helpful (or at least interesting) and the sounds are often a bit blown out, which could either be an issue with the original recordings or the levels cranked a bit hot whilst dubbing. Elsewise, if the dark ambient style be to your liking, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better collection of this type of music in 2013, on cassette tape or otherwise.

Links: Moëvöt - Sanity Muffin

Asa Irons

Knife Gift Debt

[12-inch; Turned Word]

There’s a limited-to-70 version of this (pictured) and a larger run, so take your pick (you know what to do). Asa Irons, also of Feathers, plays earnest folk-rock with a spiritual edge to it or, more appropriately perhaps, mystical. He extremely confident in his lyrical style, too, breaking the accompaniment off for long stretches and seemingly following his every whim. You used to be able to find bands like this under your sink, but most of them got rich or quit/grew old/moved to a scene I’m not able to follow. As such, I’m in a particularly receptive mood regarding the intriguingly named Knife Gift Debt, even when the mandolin solos go on for a long-ass time. It’s a super-dramatic set of songs that gains momentum, dangles it in front of your face, then pulls it away without a thought. The rich instrumentation and group vocal melodies, when the sun hits them right, work wonders; you’ll get lost in the moment.

Links: Asa Irons - Turned Word

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.