The Rainbow Body
Return Unto Void [CS; Self-Released]

The supernova, or maybe the life-cycle of a star, birth to blinding death. It’s too hot and bright and just plain loud inside something as epically everlasting as eons of light bursting out into the endless heavens, so we should be glad someone like Matt Kattman is able to approximate the event taking place in a relatively short time-span with a guitar on a cassette tape. Articulation and movement is a blur, and the colors are there, but there’s no real prism with which the sound can refract out into the cornucopia of hues you might expect from someone who tags his project “the Rainbow Body.” Instead, that rainbow is hidden within the drones, an immaculate range of frequencies on display with melodies bursting from a warm wash like solar flares, plumes of sound arcing over the atomic furnace before diving back into the fiery depths. Mastered by James Plotkin, this is the second double A-sided Rainbow Body tape of 2012, the perfect format for Kattman’s drones since definition is far from his calling card — Return Unto Void is an infinite moment, the beginning, middle, and end of which are all equally immersive and nearly interchangeable, largely because they don’t really exist.

Links: The Rainbow Body

EN/Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Split

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

The strut; a singular action of confidence amidst a sea of indecision and outward glares that sets the tone for what is to come. Judgment; words eroding silence in betrayal of thought in favor of raw human emotion. It’s the confidence and eager opinion of EN and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma existing on the same cassette that makes me want to ignore all pretenses and create noise amidst a sea of quiet reflection. But that would be contrary to the stoic beauty of this split, perfectly encapsulating the inner fortitude and outer serenity of three individuals in the midst of their creative peaks. EN’s side is 26 minutes of solitude, carefully pursuing intellectual discovery in a pod where all the beauteous imperfections of the world are seen and left undisturbed. It has a Fennesz fragility that makes it warm, but Croy and Devane dot it with their own signatures, unafraid of their talents. JCL is far more abrasive; rather than general observation, he rips into the tree line with his two-part “Blood Variations,” taking EN’s world and viscerally ripping it apart, before leaving human emotion behind for deep meditation. Both artists confident in their art, both proving rationality has a place in music that isn’t cold or unforgiving, like the snickers and stares of those who would rather cast immediate judgment than take in and rationally assess.

Links: EN/Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Constellation Tatsu

Jonathan James Carr

Well Tempered Ignorance

[CS; Field Hymns]

It’s tempting to write some kind of analysis of this tape’s title in relation to Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” since Jonathan James Carr is a classically trained pianist and because, you know, the title. But alas, it is entirely impossible. Made marginally famous for his komische-kraut synth stylings in his regular deal, Seattle’s Brain Fruit, Carr’s debut cassette is an open-structured study in sheer impatience that blends free-jazz with synth-drone (somehow), melodies and unstable hums butted up against each other in some of the most claustrophobic psychedelia known to mankind. Textures, colors, tones, scales, swirls, sparks, spittle, splatter. Not necessarily in that order, usually one or more of those things are happening at the same time, adjectives ramming into each other with blind abandon at breakneck speeds. Your neurons may have a tough time keeping up with side-A, but side-B is a bit more “tempered” as it were, a creamy blend of streaking synths and rolling bass tones with the drone pulsing and engorging and growing and working itself out, sweat glistening off its weary brow. Both sides have enough circular motion to them to leave you dizzy and maybe a little sick, so hang onto both handrails and feel your mind explode as you escalate the figurative steps to Pluto.

Links: Jonathan James Carr - Field Hymns

Rites Of Spring

Six Song Demo

[10-inch; Dischord]

It’s funny how the rumors of tear-soaked shows and such don’t even do Rites Of Spring service. Here’s a precursor to Fugazi (with an uncredited Brendan Canty on drums and a very-credited Guy Picciotto on guitar/voice) with heart and brains and emotion in equal measure. It’s post-punk in its earliest form, a bit of a sneer but also a bit of hope; less detachment for sure, though it’s a given that any great band keeps a bit of distance. Picciotto is a beguiling presence, to be sure. Probably would have been an actor had he not taken up the axe, as he needsyou to listen to him just as he needs you to watch him in concert. It’s interesting to me that Ian MacKaye sought this guy out later because it must have been difficult, in a way, to cede so much of the spotlight to this energetic little pre-emo gremlin. Yet that’s what made Fugazi great, of course, and the rest is fuckin’ history. Don’t forget to study up on Rites Of Spring though, as they’re a crucial, unappreciated (or at the very least under-appreciated) link to the surge of era-defining indie-rock that was to come, the lo-fi buzz of Six Song Demo a suitable, possibly even superior, way to get acquainted if you haven’t already.

Links: Rites Of Spring - Dischord

Charlatan Meets The North Sea

Charlatan Meets The North Sea

[CS; Field Hymns]

I get the notion Brad Rose is Spring Cleaning, even as we drift helplessly into the winter season. But the aliases keep piling up and sometimes it’s easier to toss them out than to donate or store them. It’s not as if Charlatan or The North Sea have become too ratty to salvage, but some well-worn items are best to forget rather than to keep in the back of the closet. But Charlatan Meets The North Sea has Rose trotting out his ensemble one more time, one last twirl on the pulsating catwalk before both monikers fall out of fashion and the threadbare items completely dissolve. As one might imagine, pairing two completely unrelated items does lead to some strange combinations. Nothing is as painful as plaid pants and striped tops accented with gingham ties and argyle socks, but the duality of Rose’s musical identities produces a strange combo, one you’ll have trouble tossing aside. Mellow drones collide into electronic jams that are draped in eerie melodies. Rose may be having a fire sale, but you will be the benefactor, plaid pants and all.

Links: Field Hymns

Eureka

Recognitions

[CS; Avant Archive]

Is it wise to call any band a rock band? Does it just sink one’s hopes and drown them in archaic expectations. Too bad because Eureka, as obtuse as it sounds, is all about the rock. Recognitions is piano balladry broken down to its most fundamentally rocky. Thirteen minute opener “Conception” is ragtime showmanship not in the vein of Jerry Lee Lewis, but you can’t place 50-year-old identifiers on today’s cast of thousands. By today’s standards, this is “Great Balls of Fire.” “Perception” is tense pop-rock; a leg on the amp and a playful chorus away from Ben Folds; “Shatov” a few Cadillac revs away from Andrew W.K. My Bic is at the ready, my heart is full and my ears are ringing. Encore! Encore! Encore!

Links: Avant Archive

Failing Lights

Dawn Undefeated

[12-inch; Dekorder]

Another stellar Dekorder joint, Failing Lights’ Dawn Undefeated lends an equal slice to a few different audio-damaging approaches — crickets chirping in the dark, then you hear a twig “SNAP” and a harsh wind sucks you into its spine. Side A plumbs the softer underbelly of noise, where the truly inspiring work seems to be getting done these days. The saws are sanded down, the drills less painful (though, shit, one might argue the surge near the end of “First Made Laws” is very dental), the liquid-rinse at the end more of a cosmic drip than a lightning-bolt attack. Side B is even more subdued. Lonely, subtle tones and an odd drift meander with little resolution until a Skeletor-black cloud drifts over head and rains the-fuck down. A spiritual drone follows. As always, a little patience goes a long way, Failing Lights returning the favor of your attention by taking you places you’ve never been. Nice 45RPM mix, too.

Links: Dekorder

Lazy

Party City

[7-inch; Moniker]

Can’t rrremember the last time I heard a siren on a punk record; two weeks, two years, or two decades? Shit, used to be somethin’ a man could count on, now I have to wait for it to come to me. And it did. Lazy don’t just play punk, they believe in punk, and Party City is the end result of decades of the genre’s makes and misses, zoning in on the mid-to-late 1970s more than anything. It has that PARTY element to it to though; I always suspect a group such as Lazy will use the term ironically or sarcastically, but we’re allowed to actually party, aren’t we? I sure the shit hope so. And I’d have no problem doing just that to the title track or maybe “Silence in Crisis,” which packs a catchy enough melody to turn the heads of normal people and the hardcore sensibility to sneer and most likely break the band up once those dicks start paying attention. Both are unassailable punk overcharges, while “Boys in the Girlsroom” is more of a Wire-esque rager (nothing wrong with that, hell) in the mold of “Surgeon’s Girl.” I prefer the other two, but “Girlsroom” survives on its own merits and reveals another side of the band: solid fun, thick wax, good buddies.

Links: Lazy - Moniker

Summer Flake

Where Do I Go?

[CS; Heavy Lows]

Hot damn! Just when the music zines and scenes were tellin’ me it was the putrid 80s with their synthesized delights and geometric fixations, the southern hemisphere — always on a different season/trip/plane — tells me it is in fact the 90s with a chance of counterclockwise distortion, and I couldn’t be happier. I put away my waterproof Zubaz for some all-weather flannel and hol[e]y jeans because I need to feel the warm breeze of Summer Flake. Steph Crase (I can call you Steph, right?) whisked me away last year with her self-titled EP, so it should be no wonder I want a return trip to alternative dreamland. The catch? It’s the now, and very little of Where Do I Go? is beholden to a decade 20 years past expiration even if it evokes such sentimentality (I WAS THERE!). Dude nods to recognizable college-pop-rock-waster touchstones but little to tie to Coupland’s generational narrative. Crase is tighter, more prepared for something other than Alternative Nation knockoffs. The title track is a bit of a Lena Dunham insular love-and-loathing reality check. “Racecar” is a Nastanovich part away from already being part of slacker lore. There are even a few downer tracks for your 20-year Prom-themed reunion. Don’t forget the corduroy cummerbund and plaid pocket square. Anyone tired of the retro-futurism of cyberpunk symbolism can take a trip to Adelaide and dig on this. Or get it on tape, where epochs will collide and we’ll all spiral willingly down the timeless vortex.

Links: Summer Flake - Heavy Lows

Various Artists

Shadow Colors and Maybe Insects

[CS; Watery Starve]

Compilations full up on many artists is a hard sell. We all enjoy variety, which is why streaming services have prevailed in recent times. But Shadow Colors and Maybe Insects isn’t going to fall into those traps. This is one speed, one vibe, and one endless summer. Despite 13 different artists (among them Quiet Evenings, Inez Lightfoot, and Former Selves….drool…), their shared thread of appreciative drones and mid-tempo contemplation produces a sedative to our need for shifting prerogatives. It soothes the soul like chicken soup without distracting slurps or martyrdom. Each song is a spoonful of warmth despite the glacial melodies and distant production. First your throat feels the heat as you take calculated swallows. It races down your esophagus to the intestines and stomach. Your core is beginning to feel rejuvenated. Your body begins to emit the heat to the extremities, right down to your cold fingertips. The icy breath is gone, replaced by a fire in the belly. You have found the shrine. No more needlessly collecting songs for an 8-track mix or a Spotify playlist. Watery Starve has done it for you, and it’s on cassette, just like olden times.

Links: Watery Starve
  

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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.