James Fella

Weak Left Input

[LP; Gilgongo]

It would be reductive to suggest the tape scene as a sort of training ground for eventual full-battle vinyl, but the trend of pressing formerly cassette-only releases onto wax continues unabated. From my experience, the process also works toward a thinning-out of the herd. If your CS48 sucks, it will disappear forever as it should once its 50-copy run manages to sell out; if it’s something special, there’s a decent chance a guy with a beard somewhere will pick it up and take it to a pressing plant. Or maybe you’ll do it yourself, like James Fella’s Gilgongo Records did when Weak Left Input sold out a few tape runs (I believe a CD also came out at some point last year, earlier than the vinyl version). It’s only logical to assume that success on one platform will lead to more plaudits on another, and so the format wars rage on, the listener a true benefactor. Weak Left Input fits the profile of a sturdy dronoise cassette, but its features emerge more highly defined on vinyl, the bass bobbing deeper underground and the treble snapping harder. The flipside (forgive me to skipping straight to it) in particular barks a lot more menacingly too, stacked with pitch-bent globs of guitar plucks (real high or low on the neck maybe? I can’t guarantee the veracity of this assumption) and several noise signifiers fighting with one another. It all retreats soon, leading you to believe it’s time to drift off into space, then SNAP>>>>>>>}{<<<<<<<<< BANG, NOISE-BREAK FOOL!!! Albeit in another dimension, buffalo grunts sucked into a solar vortex, accompanying us on our descent to a calm, forgiving heaven that won’t churn our bowels to sawdust; at least that’s what we’ve been promised. Was it worth it? Again, YES.

Links: James Fella - Gilgongo

Insect Factory

Mind

[CS; Found Tapes]

Found Tapes is off to a pretty auspicious start with their first three tapes, each of them uniquely packaged and presented. This Insect Factory cassette (their third release) comes in a hand-painted clear Norelco that’s just really a pretty thing to look at. Although I wouldn’t have needed another reason to pop in some new music by my favorite effects pedal knob-twister working today, the alluring sky-blue swishes are a nice added bonus. On the A-side of Mind, Jeff Barsky is about as dark as I’ve ever heard him, summoning a tempestuous passage through a series of beating disharmonic pulses divided up by short periods of stark silence; a series of musical parables that seem to threaten and grow with intensity at each semicolon. As the tape moves its way along, the clouds lighten and eventually clear, making room for those minute textural inflections to lightly poke at your brain with microscopic electric shocks, waking up the imagination to the beautiful views afforded to the airborne as a soaring lead guitar eventually tears its way across the drones, like a trail of exhaust left behind a jet’s trajectory. There’s definitely some familiar Insect Factory happening on this tape, but about half of the release sees Barsky moving in a new direction, exploring notions of space and darker moods with the same sort of expert control over dynamics and pacing we’ve come to expect.

Links: Insect Factory - Found Tapes

wzrdryAV

Medicinal Circuits

[CS; Digitalis]

At one time I would be what you would have called an enhancement smoker. Those days are long gone and I didn’t become Jon Stewart. I had experiences that were far more memorable than they ever intended to be. I’m certain it’s where I learned to be an attentive listener. I’m also certain that it made me buy Norah Jones’ first LP. And a host of forgettable CDs from mid-90s bands I wish I could forget. And I think a random DJ mix in South Carolina at a college bar. Anyway, as a rather sober individual with a family and responsibilities, wzrdryAV is my latest enhancement endeavor. I don’t come to this conclusion just based on the title of Medicinal Circuits and frankly, I tried my damnedest not to mention drugs of any kind. But kind is what this cassette is, so ripe with complex flavors and contemplative washes that Tommy Chong would be too baked before the first side was through. In fact, listening to it again while hiding in my bathroom and aiming the speakers out of the window with dryer sheets stuffed in the door jambs, I think it’s a safe bet that maybe I need to put Medicinal Circuits down and hope wzrdryAV opens a methadone clinic soon.

Links: Digitalis

Hunted Creatures

Mogollon Rim

[CS; Dynamo Sound Collective]

In an effort to peek as far into the dense fog of this tape by Pittsburgh trio Hunted Creatures, I did what any self-respecting Cerberus cassette reviewer might: I Wiki’d some shit. The word “Mogollon,” according to the all-knowing Gods of Information, may refer to any of the following: Anthropology, Cryptozoology, Geography, Music, People. How convenient, because I think I can hear just about all of those things when making my way through this spooky labyrinth of sound. Indeed, the Mogollon Rim is firstly a place somewhere in Arizona, marked by its topographical features and meager forests of pine. It’s also said to be the stomping ground of a creature called the Mogollon Monster, a rarely spotted mythic bi-pedal beast that stands 7 feet tall and has a habit for threatening boy scout troop leaders with clubs. And like a good campfire ghost story as told by a drunken elder, Mogollon Rim is an album rife with mystery and suspense told with a wobbly footing that nonetheless feels experienced and entirely sure of itself. Taking on a multitude of suspicious and ambiguous shapes and scales, plodding rhythms that have oddly arrhythmic constructs, swirling ambient textures that sway from ear-to-ear, and carefully timed background textures, Hunted Creatures magnify their music’s environmental scope in vivid 3D, providing a set of varied harmonic material that manages a coherent thematic plot and narrative throughout it’s mostly-improvised method. Reportedly the final entry in Dynamo Sound Collective’s catalog, Mogollon Rim is a fascinating and engrossing space that feels as though it’s full of what I can only describe as a tangible emptiness. I know that makes little to no sense, but just go with it.

Links: Hunted Creatures - Dynamo Sound Collective

Buck Gooter

The Spider’s Eyes

[LP; Feeding Tube / Sophomore Lounge]

I keep committing myself to a nice sit-down with Buck Gooter and I’ll be dipped if I don’t drop out of my end of the bargain over and over out of sheer fear. You never really know with this kinda dude; his music is a banana-up-the-butt experience that leaves one sore and stymied. And yearning. For more. Or not? Fuck I don’t even know if I can guarantee you’ll want to take the journey a second time. I remember thinking Landed were real hard years ago and now they sound like they should be accompanying a ballet recital. (That would actually be really, really cool; we’ll talk.) The most effective element of The Spider’s Eyes might be the drum-machine beats when they get all slow and churn-y, permeating dread and sweating bass. Or at least those choices make more sense to me than, say, the cock-rock riffage I’m soaking in right now (“A to Z,” to be precise). Fuck that. Let’s get back into the squelch, baby! “Sex With a Hornet’s Next”? Now we’re talking! People are always sayin’ rockers never have a sense of humor any more, and, well, allow me: Seeeeex with a hornet’s nest / You’ll probably die / But you’re tougher than the rest. Good. We’re also back to the churnin’ and burnin’ with “Eat My Isolation” and… again, I just don’t know, brother. This might be terrible, and I’m convinced that’s the whole point of this Buck Gooter bastard. FUCK this guy. He might just be the lovechild of Eddie Pepitone (yes, that’s a comedian) and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat. Need I say more? Listen to Side B all the way through before you give up on this one though. That’s where the gold is, and I’m nothing if not an audio pirate. ARGH, ya fucks! (Damn, a lot of swears in this one; time to grow up, guy.)

Links: Feeding Tube / Sophomore Lounge

Moss Lime

July First

[CS; Fixture]

Wallflowers get ready to fall in love. People who like hearing the reverse worm hole of New Zealand pop surfacing in North America get ready for a thrill. Moss Lime come instruments prolifically un-blazed. Minimal and sparse, July First is clean in its angularity. Notes are crisp, the production spare but with a tinge of home brewing. The post-ennui fits so well on a cassette that I can’t help but feel transported to those early childhood memories of Walkman listens alone in the dark after bedtime. But rather than sneaking listens to more pop contemporaries, I feel like I’m discovering something. It’s not just the mix of French and English lyrics (though I’m a sucker for it) but the choice of odd tempos and halting rhythms. Though I can place its myriad influences, it is unstuck from all of them. But it is a solitary discovery. Don’t foist this on an unprepared group. It’s truly a do-it-yourself discovery. Then play it for a single friend in the car. Let it unravel thusly. Before you know it, New Zealand will be rushing to bastardize Moss Lime.

Links: Moss Lime - Fixture

me-w

Two

[CS; Individual Lines]

If the Bandcamp tags “experimental,” “bang,” “scratchy,” “violin,” and “woosh” sound appealing to you, can I make a recommendation? This tape. Recommended to you, oh fan of bangy-scratchy-wooshy violin music, by your dear friend Strauss. Two, by Morgan Evans-Weiler (which obviously follows his previous effort, One), uses all those tags, and also “Boston,” which I guess is where Two was composed and recorded. But more importantly, the thing goes bang and scratch and woosh, and also bong and fritz, and *heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*, all over the damned place, much of the time with what I can distinctly tell is the musical voice of a tightly strung and well-tuned violin. (It also screeches a little.) And I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, Strauss, I know what the fuck this is. I know what this sounds like, I’ve heard it before, sure, sure, musique concrete and blah, blah…” and I’m hear to tell you that you’re wrong and shut up for a minute. Two is way too nuanced and detailed for such a foolhardy dismissal, full of very carefully planned and executed uses of dynamics and solid exploitation of the stereo field at hand, which is primarily what makes the tape overflow with wonderful ear-perking surprises. Weiler efficiently shifts from very light staccato sections that feel like pricking your arm hairs with tweezers one by one, to alternately dense and elegiac bowed drones with supersonic overtones. Side B focuses heavily on the more ear-piercingly high frequencies (maybe like six or seven of them at the top of the piece gently folding and weaving themselves atop one another with just slight variances in pitch to complete a truly excruciating exercise in listening patience) all before dropping out into a gurgling cauldron of boiling audio shrapnel. Have I sold you on this thing yet? One of the best straight-up noise tapes I’ve ever heard right here, period. Maybe yours too, if you can stand it.

Links: me-w - Individual Lines

Piano Movers

Girlfriend’s Lover

[7-inch; Fruits and Flowers]

How a label with a handful of 7-inch rekkids with songs clocking in less than most commercial breaks has become a favorite in such a short time is….well, akin to those minute commercials that somehow convince me to buy often useless products. But Girlfriend’s Lover is far from useless–but firm believer in the power of pop and all of that right here. So long as said pop is as classically infectious as this. Eponymous A-side has all the love of classic New Zealand poppists The Bats. “Downtown 2Day” is a bit more in line with the more mainstream New Zealand icon, Neil Finn. It feels like a throwaway written during that period between Split Enz and Crowded House that fit neither outfit. Now we’ve fast forwarded to modern times and the same sort of tossed off tune crafted by Piano Movers seems just as odd a fit in today’s political climate. What this 7-inch really does is make me want a full-length, so whether that happens due to Fruits and Flowers (who continue to torture us with these awesome sneak peaks) or some other label that hears my cries, give me some more Piano Movers. In exchange, I promise not to use New Zealand in a review for a whole month. That just means that all the good bands either need to stop coming from there or mutating from its sound.

Links: Fruits and Flowers

Curse Purse

Curse Purse

[one-sided LP; Feeding Tube]

I knew I was going to fall in love with Curse Purse’s self-titled effort, but I’ve felt that way about a lot of so-called ‘super groups’ and been left wanting and wasted (remember Swan Lake? Metallic Falcons were good though). But man as soon as the needle hit the one-sided wax, BOOM MOTHA FUCKA, I knew I was in good hands, my brains being mangled by human-sized maggots named Ted Lee, Miss Olivia Kennett, and Matt Robidoux. My vote for Best Cut comes courtesy opening track “Message CP,” a SICK rendering of what sounds like strings mauling AIDS-stricken guitars (too soon?) in a depraved update on the Rapider Than Horsepower/early-mid-period Beefheart tip (or beeftip, if you will), with a sheet of noise plopped on top like a corroded cloud cover. I hear this track and instantly want to fuck something. It could take me years to fully figure out this message, sort of like Tim Buckley’s “Lorca” or somethin’, but somehow the immediate appeal missing from the former is here in spades. Maybe I’m just fucked up? Moving on, “Crepe Paper” has convinced me that there are no strings involved in this music massacre, and it’s also persuaded me to believe in Curse Purse as more than a post-no wave noise-squelch outfit, as this song is quite lovely in an Amps Of Christ fashion before (d)evolving into more of the scree I’ve been warning you about. For the record (and this IS a record), I’d love it if they’d explore trading off vocals, as they do on “Stare,” more in the future. I’m going to level with you: There are a lot of ways to spend your music dollar these days. Avoid the expensive reissues of the older stuff; you can find old Stones LPs (scuffed, but all the better) for cheap at garage sales and antique shops (though the latter now know vinyl is ‘in’ and will gouge you). Instead, focus on getting audio you can’t find anywhere else whose limited quantities you soon will miss out on forever. Get it? This is Doctor Gumshoe, signing off.

Links: Feeding Tube

Grizzly Imploded

Threatening Fragments from Four Boulders

[CS; Sincope]

Twenty minutes to escape. That’s all I need; well that and some wire cutters, peanut butter, a deadbolt, some cyanide and a gas tank lid from a 1987 Jeep. This inexplicable possum stew will boil and seethe, until such a time that it helps create a barrier by which to deflect the debris from the Grizzly Imploded. And these Threatening Fragments from Four Boulders are coming in hot. It’s a fierce breakdown of post-apocalyptic jazz. Jagged pieces flung as far and wide as the implosion can carry them. Though it’s an inward force, the shock wave is somehow outward. And unless I can blast myself out of this containment bin before the 20 minutes of oxygen runs out on this cassette’s playtime, I’m surely doomed. But doom is not death, rather a chance not to do this again. This is a fun game, and every time there is some new deadly object flying at me that I didn’t notice the last time I averted harm and cheated death. For Grizzly Imploded is my Murdoc and I will not go down so long as they don’t.

Links: Sincope
  

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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.