Survive

Survive

[12-inch; Monofonus Press]

This self-titled (remember that album, Elf Titled? that was funny) effort from Survive is split right down the middle (I think Bitchin Bajas did this recently too, albeit to much different effect). On Side A(mbient), we’re blessed by a boundless drone drift that will soon deliver us into the hands of the musical messiah. On Side B(east), we get a much different helping from the same dinner table, this time a swirl of programmed synth ribbons and glorious beats heralding the second coming of EDM (if not the third). Strangely, considering my history of riddim appreciation, my sympathies rest with Side A because the method of delivery is treated as sacred and never adheres to the same principles for too long (save for the overarching principles of minimalist drone). It’s a fluctuating, undulating stuff that will guide your day appropriately whether you’re relaxing at home or tripping out in the desert with members of The Doors. Don’t forget the flip, however, because that’s where the other half of Survive’s mission becomes clear: To scoop up those trippy vibes and deposit them on the dance floor, or at least an all-ages venue in the industrial district. I say buy the LP instead because the opening bands (and there are six of them) might suck…

Links: Monofonus Press

Monomyth

Saturnalia Regalia!

[LP; Mint/Factor]

Monomyth have hovered over the last few days of my life like a Velvet(s) cloud made of purple wax, filling in the blank spots and bringing back memories of jangle-pop and other delightful distractions I’ve been tuning out. Melding the melodies of kiwi representatives such as The Clean to echo-chamber arrangements you might find on a great label like Captcha, is a brave undertaking. Many have tried, and most have failed to create their own Saturnalia Regalia!. First you need a fast-pickin’, versatile guitarist (with a predilection for “Please Please Me” finely displayed within “Candleholder”) who can carry the show on his own if needed (check). Second, you need a singer who can hold a note or two and doesn’t feel weird about backing off for long stretches (double-check). Thirdly, you gotta have a songwriter blessed with rare agility (checkmate). Once you have the pieces together, start gluin’ the puzzle together and you might just have VU as interpreted by Chin Up Chin Up or Cool Ghouls. Or maybe not; Saturnalia has me all confused, wracking my brain for reference points that just aren’t there. Maybe your best course of action is to go ahead and pick this purple LP up and tell me where the bear shits in the buckwheat.

Links: Monomyth

Bre’r

A.R.M.

[CS; BARO]

this hollowed out tree stump will suit me fine hiding from hunters scavengers darkness light people everybody always invading my home as if it were open foot traffic rustling my hedgerow and scarring the babies i fly by foot into wood and chain-linked because they corner me but here is solace here is peace caught by ears through a wafting breeze a gentle melody that soothes in this frightful hiding spot this is not my home but this tune shall make it so in due time i will never hide again this is where i will take a stand where we will take arms and fight back though by arms i mean musically not violently we are a gentle creature though i do know of some who have used force the only force i know is that of the constant thud into wood and chain-linked i talk to foxes but they do not listen i talk to trees but they just shake i speak to humans but they cannot understand so i stay in this hollowed out stump with my music and my arms (which are paws) and i wait until this all becomes mine again for the last time

Links: BARO

Matthew Akers

A History of Arson

[CS; Out-Of-Body]

Out-Of-Body Recs, run by one of the fellas in Terminator 2, sent in a couple of harder, murkier tapes last year, and that was fine, but A History of Arson, damn, it’s really something. I mean we’ve all been appreciating eMego and Mark McGuire and, personally, Rat Catching and Mudboy here at Cerbs, and Matthew Akers is firmly planted on the brighter, trippier end of that specific synth spectrum. Not only that, but he doesn’t disdain BEATS, which is a huge plus when you’ve got plenty of tape to fill. The rhythms retain a somewhat techno-ist bent, albeit with a busier bent, and they propel the already-interesting arrangements to new heights. They also help round out the concept behind this cassette: the thought process of an arsonist. This vision might not seem apropos for a synth artist, but you’d be surprised what Akers can pull off, from horror-soundtrack stylings to the floating synth sculptures referred to earlier to futuristic tek-naw. Particularly fascinating are the guilty synth sequences of “Bad Wolf,” which seem to encapsulate the arsonist’s first inklings of evil. Or at least that’s how I hear it; suss the rest yrself, or burn yr hands off trying.

Links: Out-Of-Body

Samantha Glass

Rising Water Perception

[CS; Sacred Phrases]

First off, I’m going to just come right out on a cliche and say what we’re all thinking: Beau Devereaux is just as cool a name as his alter ego, Samantha Glass. But it does seems a more fitting pseudonym throughout Surface Water Perception, which is a departure and arrival for Devereaux’s project. As brooding as any recording before it, there’s a new darkness that permeates this very post-synth pop cassette. There isn’t a lack of chasing melodic threads and abstract ideas, all of which have made Samantha Glass releases must listens in the past, but the accessibility–and that’s what this tape ultimately is to fans of the Joy Division/Depeche Mode/Bauhaus crowd–is on equal footing. As experimentation slowly morphs its way back into some skewed form of mainstream that somehow bites its tongue at being too commercial, SWP seems the best big step toward bridging the traditional and radical. You won’t throw it on the car stereo on a raucous Saturday night but after a few mood altering hours, it’s sure to be there when you need it.

Links: Samantha Glass - Sacred Phrases

GOG

GOG

[LP; King of the Monsters]

I’m glad I listened to GOG’s self-titled album in a number of settings, from the ol’/trusty record room to my untrustworthy car stereo to my phone, because each experience yielded disparate conclusions. In my record room, the ride cymbal jumped out too much during the black-metal parts, while on my i-ph’n the more abstract noise sections sounded more fine-tuned and rife with subtlety. Such is the drill in this era of flexible audio consumption, and I’ll add that every environment, on the whole, was favorable to GOG, a cog in the monstrous avant-metal machine I’ve been trying (often only to fail, frankly) to shed more light on. What I admire about this particular project is the breadth of its explorations, which, if they were water, would take on the form of ice (cold, metallic, crunchy), mist (soft, eternal), water (life-sustaining, yet deadly), and cloud (foreboding, grey with doom), each element sustaining those that come after or before it. Perhaps the speed-demon drumming and sacrificial screaming of “The First Cure” provides the most primal thrill, but that’s not to say there’s a whole lot of atmospheric drifting. Each event is of consequence, each drill/drone/drag through the mud serving the mother brain. Michael Bjella’s been doing his thing as GOG for almost a decade now, and this latest entry in his timeline serves as a stellar point to join his orbit.

Links: King of the Monsters

Atlantic Thrills

Atlantic Thrills

[LP; Almost Ready]

I’m convinced the key to Atlantic Thrills’ self-titled record exists within the confines of one dynamite track: “Holy Mountain.” Everything the band build-up to culminates in this intense, screamin’-out-loud garage-rocker, which stomps like Black Lips but melodically hews more to Cool Ghouls. And don’t we all “need some place to hide”? I sure-as-shit do. “Lie to Me” presents an altogether different challenge, namely can a band of Atlantic Thrills’ stripe deviate into xylophone hits and guitar slidin’ and make it stick? I’m still not sure on that one, but I’m glad they tried, and in the greater context of this LP I’m glad they exist because the garage explosion (Oh Sees, Goner, the Lips, Slovenly, Ty Seegs, In the Red, etc.) needs their personality and somewhat rootsy reverberations. “Blind Lead the Blind” is another example of their quirky knack for re-purposing the past, present, and future of the artform, as it could exist in just about any era, but it’s ours and that’s exciting to me and should be to you. I can only imagine how it all shakes out in a concert setting, what with those simple, addictive instrumental breakdowns and group vocals. Interested to hear what the A-Thrills try next, though this easily could be one of those bands that breaks up after one record, to be mourned and fully appreciated thereafter. Let’s hope that ain’t the case, and/or even go a step further and ENSURE that ain’t the case. Feel me?

Links: Atlantic Thrills

German Army

Social Catalyst

[CS; Jozik]

Perennial Cerberus favorites, it seems it’s my turn to review the latest German Army dalliance with greatness. I would like to thank the academy for this honor, and Grantshoe and Crawfss for the privilege. I really wanted to say something different as I sit up here but I think the long list of accomplishments and adjectives my colleagues have heaped German Army are more apt. So let’s put it as simply as possible: Why aren’t you making German Army a household name? This is the sort of cold war mood music that fits the current climate of frosty Risk than it does the nuclear game of chess that gave birth to proto-sub-genres of dark, dank synthesizer music. The robotic feel of old is replaced with something a bit more fleshy, running hot and cold as determined by the time and day it is when German Army decide its ripe for recording. There’s a pulse running through these icy veins and though it rarely shows anything other than a shark’s demeanor, you know there’s a bit of fear, understanding, and soothsaying. Our world is crumbling for the 273rd time and as we tear it all down just to build it all back up like a toddler with a new set of Legos, it’s the stoic realism of Social Catalyst that calms us down. Shit’s going down and German Army has been warning us, Cerberus has been a cleric, and you aren’t listening! Why won’t you listen?

(That’s a call to action, people)

Links: Jozik

GRAN

Chair

[LP; Totally Wired]

GRAN will pull the chair out from under you just when you think you’ve got them figured out. Lest you assume their attack consists of little more than pop gestures warped by lo-fi fuzz, the group whip out a quasi-Les Georges Leningrad section on Chair and wash it out so heavily there’s nothing left to hold onto, proving their individuality and flexibility in one fell swoop. The singer even hollers in a strange, country/western manner during “Sorry,” further muddying the waters. “Wooden Beats” lures back into a bit of a pop aura, albeit with synths too cheeky for any FM dial you might have access to, while “Todd’s Syndrome” might just be one of the most mystique-packed oddities you’ll ever hear, lead by squishy synths and what sound like perverted drum-machine woodblock approximations. Nestled amid all these scene-stealing flourishes, however, are solid, addictive melodies that will have you attempting to figure out where you heard them and how you can get a hold of them and shove them back in your brain. Behind it all, that’s sort of the highest compliment out there, no?

Links: Totally Wired

Evan A. James

Evan A. James

[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

Remember the first time you heard “Lucas with the Lid Off”? How about “Cantaloop”? “Rebirth of Slick”? Are you just too young to remember these smooth jazz influenced hip-hop hits? Go put your ear buds back in and slink away quietly.

For those of you looking the next evolution, come to Evan A. James. Though not dance derived (or intended), the symphonic scraps of James’ self-titled tape evoke a sense of history that was barely touched upon in that quick time of jazz meeting mainstream during the early ’90s. People forget the desolate frontier it was at that time, when all musics ran to get into the door before it slammed shut and was wedged closed by alternative bands we never grew to know. But James rekindles that pioneer spirit even in a land that has grown from those shut out 25 years ago. In the tent city that followed, somehow James has found a way to grab hold of those faint wafts of soul that came back to the masses, using it as a spark for something equally inventive, yet beholden to no set form. Which is why by the time this cassette has run its course, you’ll momentarily forget about those seemingly ancient breaths of fresh air because a newer, stronger rush of pure oxygen will fill those lungs, benefited by too many people on the other side of the door sucking up all their air long ago while the tent city outsiders were left to chaste and noble lifestyles. Ah!

Links: Adhesive Sounds
  

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.