Various Artists
Goldrush Companion Tape [CS; http://goldrushmusicfest.com/]

Trudging through the muck and stuck now: boots left behind, and feet can turn raw for this personal need. Need for that rush. Every single event on stage, through sound of speakers with wires and giving that live acoustic echo. The experience is overwhelming and all that is stable is a business card-sized program. The people surrounding the area are the same in silence, but different in nod. It feels like fun if fact was alive and living was intensely accentuated through performance. And performance of something so fucking familiar, but very distant, still sustaining that live crunch. Reeling through it all, bodies sway as though they’re damp and washing cars, shining from the sound that provides warmth through the cracks. There is where it’s found. Again in that sound. Perpetuating something more than just paper/coin. It’s brilliant yet sullen, only polished when necessary, and brings life to faces in strife. On rings on bands on wrapping around ears, hanging while poised. It’s jewelry of the mind. Shuffled through ages of mistake and “Nah, I ain’t into it that much, yo.” But at that moment, when it’s found and has dusted away the webs in your head, you’ve found what you’re looking for: sheer sound surrounding sifted sight shining through.

[Full disclosure: TMT writer Strauss is the co-founder of Goldrush]

Links: http://goldrushmusicfest.com/

Ross Major

Horatio Hymns

[12-inch; Haute Magie]

Haute Magie, mystery label — not because I don’t know who they are, but because I never know what to expect from them — dropped Horatio Hymns on us in a year packed with gimmicks and hyper-programmed, mega-digital constructions less human than a Terminator. Ross Major, along the lines of Mason Lindhal, John Fahey, Six Organs, and Jack Rose, spaces out on his six-string somethin’ fierce in an intensely personal way. Parts of Horatio Hymns also make room for Jarboe/Earth, along with rare but appreciated exploratory voyages into the black hole of noise that many of today’s long-form guitar virtuosos fail to trespass. This phylum of Major’s work is all about Nels Cline and giving heed to outsized soundclouds (yep, it’s a word too). Then there’s also this other side of him that reminds me most of obscure Bay Area act Pregnant, sampled voices atop hazy pickin’. Side B yields the first sign of Ross Major: Singer, and he does a yeoman’s job, bare-backing his voice atop thoughtful, isolated leads. When the pan flute rears its death’s head, you get ready to hide in the bushes, but no need: This is “folk” in the best sense of the word, psychedelic at times even, though neither tag do Horatio Hymns ultimate justice. There are too many other forces at work here, as the almost black-metal “Magus” attests. Best leave the labelin’ up to yo’ brain, young blood! The gods approve.

Links: Haute Magie

Prayer

Second Species

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

It’s the night after the parade. Pieces of ticker tape and distressed newspaper gently sweep the streets, the city workers tasked to clean up the mess long gone after hours of hopelessly chasing these remaining tatters. It’s just turning to dusk, so the small town’s five downtown buildings are just beginning to glow above the purple horizon. After the ecstasy of celebration, the rural people have retired to their homes. Vandals and ne’er-do-wells will be out soon, says the old folk. But it’s really just kids looking to capture their own magic, to escape Saturday afternoons full of tradition no one’s dared to tie them into. So they make their own, soundtracked by seasonal winds, sneaked booze, and someone’s beat-up car. The city has nothing to offer this evening, at least nothing worthwhile for those operating outside societal protocol. All that remains is Prayer. Hands are folded, not to the heavens, but to the worship of another; the object of desire. This will all be nostalgic rambling in a decade, but for now, it’s your own parade. As still as the night is, it’s alive with want. You make of this evening what you want from it. Prayer has given you this opportunity; don’t forsake it for a dalliance with an unyielding god or reprimanding adults long out of touch with these feelings. You know this sound without a word.

Links: Constellation Tatsu

Xander Harris / Dylan Ettinger

The Driver / Tipoff

[7-inch; Moon Glyph]

Anyone who’s ever driven a 1983 Toyota Tercel hatchback and, for some reason, bumped the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop will know the feeling of take-off that accompanies “The Driver,” a smooth electronic-dance composition that explores the limits of this whole post-0PN thing with reckless abandon. I like the way Xander Harris programs his synths, and his side of this 7-inch flies by so quickly you’ll reload thrice before you even consider venturing over to the other side. Checkmate? Not quite. Dylan Ettinger, who is everywhere, bequeaths a ridiculous, special-edition synthster in line with Bruce Hart and the other boyz stuck in the keybo muck. Not a drum beat here as much as an ongoing throb, and the vocals are hunted to extinction, but “Tipoff” is a busy-ass piece of work whose overall effect somehow calms the nerves (maybe I’ve been listening to too much Matta Gawa?). Why can’t I go to a kids movie with my daughter and hear music like this soundtracking it?

Links: Moon Glyph

Circuit des Yeux

CDY3

[10-inch; Magnetic South]

This is a transformation. We witness the evolution of child into teen into adult, with all the ferocity of a genetic nuclear cloud. “Lithonia,” the same shoes in the dirt, operatic vocal of innocence from Haley Fohr’s Circuit des Yeux. It rattles the neighborhood windows with the bellow of a girl trying to fit in with a big voice and a one-track mind. “I’m on Fire II” finds Fohr in her college years, revisiting her take on the Springsteen torch song with two hulking man-beasts adding drums and din to an already encumbered ode of distortion and angst. It’s “Helen, You Bitch” where the myth graduates, matures into a woman. This is Fohr, with 24 years of learning and leaving, channeling the education system, disappointment, and the unknown into a tense psychedelic jam with hints of apricot and venom. This is Fohr exploring relationships: those of her past, present, and future. Those of love, bands, and person-to-environment. And it’s just a killer 10-inch for anyone who, you know, likes music and things that are deep and stuff. Or needs a quick soundtrack to a bong rip.

Links: Circuit des Yeux - Magnetic South

Back Magic

Blood Plaza

[5-inch Lathe; Pilgrim Talk]

Back Magic’s “Blood Plaza” is not your typical Pilgrim Talk outing, delving into white-blue deep-fuzz with boombox recording and trashed-out crash cymbals that dominate the mix when wet. If Lou Barlow is lo-fi, I’m not sure what to call this; shit-fi doesn’t seem gritty enough. Devil-fi? A scrappy effort though, pressed onto the oddest lil’ 5-inch lathe-daddy you ever done seen. I think of Moldy Peaches, Zumm Zumm, and Icky Boyfriends, and muse, “Wow, remember when things were clean?” Once again, we’re left to wonder: How much lower-than-fi can self-recorded rock get? Back Magic make early GBV sound like “We Are the World.” This band was seemingly invented to be the exact counterpoint to Buckcherry, the lowest, dingiest scum imaginable. Yet cute, too.

Links: Pilgrim Talk

My People Pray By Starlight / Yusuke Tsutsumi

Split

[CS; Old Monster/Weiner]

My People Pray By Starlight are the bad cop. The nega-world perpetuated by MPPBS’s half of magnetic tape is a grimy, groovy natural world of feel-good beach rhythms interrupted by a mad man’s static preaching. Better to bask in its aural unpredictability than the sad truth of murder, brainwashing, and deceit (we reserve the right to revoke this sunny alternative if any members of MPPBS go Dexter). If the Cali outfit isn’t asked to soundtrack the Inherent Vice adaptation, all hope for humanity should be deemed a lost cause. Of course, that’s a fleeting blip once Yusuke Tsutsumi, the good cop, takes over. Tsutsumi’s work is a much-needed human touch, awash in a world of DJ Shadow and Fennesz. Considering that collaboration seems impossible, it’s a blessing Tsutsumi has arrived on our planet. And though the pairing of this split seems odd — a psychedelic workout partnered with a blissed-out trip-hop ambiance — we know the odd officer pairings are box office gold. Best to get it before its purity is erased by A.O. Scott.

Links: Old Monster/Weiner

Bold Chicken

A Fellow’s Lament

[7-inch; Lysergic Sound Distributors]

Holy fuck, man; that Bold Chicken done went and psyched out my mama! This is such a bluesy ride, it throws me for a loop. Then those nasty choruses kick in and singer Buzz Clic (ooh!) puts forth those massive whoops, hollers, and rants and I totally get why this session, recorded in Ohio in 1972-73, needed to see the light of day again. The production is bound to be a bone of contention for treble-obsessed psych folk, and that’s exactly the reason I dig its guttural hound’s tooth growl. There’s an interesting push-pull from Side A to B. The front-side flares up with more standard rock fare, albeit delivered with just enough muscle to justify revisiting, “Gears & Tears” even doing a weird Elvis thang. The flip, a superior product, was created with a more Captain Beefheart-ish singer at the helm, a strategy I fully respect. Not sure which dude delivers the nasty duo of songs on Side B, but it’s a whole new band when he’s bringing the fucking house down. “Oh Doctor Please” is particularly explosive, a Van Vliet-style freakout (though the Captain hated the term “freak”) stretching out overtop a very un-Beefheart backbone (a.k.a. a straight-up, angular one) that gains a shitload of momentum as soulful backup vox and a hearty beat head the charge. It’s quite a quasi-funky ruckus, tight and nasty like a dolphin-flog. When you’re a small band jamming out somewhere, moments like this make you think you’re going to be a star. And maybe Bold Chicken shoulda been, you know? But life is cool enough to allow for the resuscitation of artifacts like this, so there’s always hope right?

Links: Lysergic Sound Distributors

Celer

Lightness and Irresponsibility

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

If names were reflective of personality traits, would the world be a better place? Shakespeare argued the idea, but it’d be nice to have some advanced warning system when dealing with a person or institution. It’s the beauty of Lightness and Irresponsibility, another posthumous beauty from Celer. It dares not tread in any territory not in line with the album’s on-point focus, two long-form meditations rarely raising their voice. There is no discipline or consequence to these compositions, just a life at its most carefree. As douchebag CEOs rig the stock market and two-faced politicians further divide America for ill-gotten gains, it’s comforting to forget the sadness surrounding Celer and focus on those lighthearted moments of youth. It’s not nostalgia but a moment in time frozen, forever providing the calm center we need in a world of mislabeled sycophants.

Links: Constellation Tatsu

Hexis

Seputus/Fatum

[7-inch; Black Lake]

I’ve been trying to get the heavies to mosey on over to Cerberus more often, and it’s been tough. One exception is Black Lake Recs and their monstrous Hexis, a metal band afraid of nothing, from death to grind to gangrenous limbs of BM that rot and decay in favor of… you guessed it: death. Seputus/Fatum is a viciously delivered 7-inch with no time for pleasantries, save an isolated Testament breakdown; aside from that, it’s all double-bass and drills to the face, especially the malevolent Side B. I keep returning to the Corrosive Recordings label (Blues, Veil Of Maya) as a reference and must do so again here, because that imprint possessed an assortment of multifaceted metal bands indebted to no one and nowhere, just like Hexis. They drown in a swamp of hiss, and maybe it’s best that we don’t hear too much, as they’d have to slaughter each and every one of us if we ever found out what was going on in their collective head.

Links: Black Lake

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.