Blind Thorns

Blind Thorns

[LP; New Atlantis / Cheap Satanism / Offset / Tandori]

I’m going to try and tamp down my excitement for Blind Thorns’ self-titled LP on four — count ‘em, FOUR — different labels, but… lord, it’s going to be tough. I simply wasn’t prepared to ride this record bareback. There should be a warning sticker on this motherfucker and I’ll tell you why: For all their tension-building subtlety, the Thorns also can tear your damn head off and shit down your neck. I learned this from “Orbital,” probably the sickest, shreddiest cut I’ve slice myself with since Hella and that Racebannon album remixed by Merzbow entered my life. It’s probably the nuttiest one minute I’ve spent listening to music, and it’s only the start of this aural journey through the nether-regions of the soul. We’ve also got Aa-style ritual tom-tom sacrifices; longform exercises in modality (think Zs); all-around chaos circa Fadensonnen; grunts reminiscent of Arrington Dionyso at his most violent; and even a bit of Raccoo-oo-oon pops up within the monstrous valleys of this seven-song beast, which I fear I’m not foreshadowing effectively. But I must forge on or admit defeat: The most salient song on offer might just be “A Railway Diversion,” a creepy coupling of abstract guitar in the style of a more minimalist Slint, cymbal rolls, random percussive ‘plink’s, picks scraping on shiny strings, and soprano warbling (or at least that’s what I think it is). There exists no vocabulary that could even capture a gleam in this track’s eye, but a particular band name keeps popping into my head: The great Black Neck Band Of The Common Loon (not to mention Weasel Walter/ugEXPLODE in general). Also captivating is “An Explanation Of the Birds,” an entry with no true center and, as such, has no rules to follow. Expect more of those pounding toms blasting out a tough-to-pin-down rhythm, atmosphere to spare (this could be an ambient track and it’d still be able to cup my ears in its hands), and a double-dose of what sounds like whale calls. And that’s all I got folks. Blind Thorns, for a band with exactly one album out, display uncommon maturity, betraying the trio’s experience in other bands of note (AHLEUCHATISTAS among them). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you ain’t lookin’ underground, you’s missin’ it.

Links: New Atlantis / Cheap Satanism / Offset / Tandori

Phase Fatale

Skyscraper

[12-inch; AVANT!]

It’s funny to see Front 242 mentioned in press for Skyscraper because they’ve been on my mind as well. They never really broke huge but they also never went away, through all these years, and it’s fascinating to me that young people today GET it. It’s a bit like the resurgence of Steve Hillage (ex-Gong), who discovered that he was back IN when he happened to walk by a rave venue and hear one of his songs (something from Rainbow Dome Musick, I believe) being looped over a beat. Hayden Payne, at the helm of Phase Fatale, displays a lot of the talents you look for in a cold, distant, desolate techno artist with fond memories of electronic music of old (despite a lack of actual experience with said decade by dint of his young age). He conjures unique sound tunnels by fusing (relatively) rhythmically complex future-beatz to simplistic key swipes and other such effects, interlocking several moving parts with skill and the drive you need to get attention in a world full of sweaty DJs. I must admit that at first blush, this record wasn’t happening for me. Therein lies the flub, on my part, however: I hadn’t experienced it in the right mindset. If you’re ready to give Skyscraper a close listen by all means let it marinate and soak into you, and don’t go ‘previewing’ the first few seconds of every track looking for familiar cues. Phase Fatale need time to find a home in your head, and once in, they need space to build up to a frenzy that I guarantee you is coming.

Links: AVANT!

New Cowboy Builders

Black Moses

[7-inch; Self-Released]

Somewhere in the abyss where mclusky drowned, the remains reassembled into a clunky goo of seaweed and saltwater. They emerged, fully disfigured and totally cool with it. The same lightsaber cocksucking attitude struggling with the bends. The resulting amalgamation were anointed New Cowboy Builders and took to tiny black fetish material. Black Moses is that visible gnarl of scar tissue and ne’er-a-care. It rocks in all the right areas, breaking pool cues over heads when needed and chugging down a few pints to dull the pain at the shore pub. It’s a sea shanty of contradictions about how rock is interpreted by those who “moved on” and those who still see it as “salvation.” Black Moses has parted the abysmal waters, drudging up a people with a sound we have dearly missed. I’m sloshed.

Links: New Cowboy Builders

Binary Marketing Show

Anticipation of Something Else

[CS; Already Dead Tapes]

From the nether-edge of the Beach Boys pop-universe cries the Binary Marketing Show. They are a band at a distance, some inter-galactic nega-pop oddity from light years away, beamed into our hazy ozone with harmonies from a chorus of alien voices, glowing synthesizer melodies, and clockwork-mechanismic beats. With its weaving structures and complex grooves setting each track’s pace and tone, Anticipation of Something Else isn’t only a brilliant exercise in experimental song writing, it is also one of the better sounding releases I’ve heard this year from a production standpoint. The duo makes these catchy songs catch you quicker by having a really good sense for the environmental conditions of the sound table. They know their space intimately, its total volume, temperature, humidity, and they shape it all into a comfy pillow of pop music, so easy and wonderful to sink into time and again. Aside from having a bit of excessive extra blank tape on both sides than I’d like to see/deal with (OK, pretty trivial/petty criticism there, but I feel like I should mention it anyway), Binary Marketing Show nonetheless makes for one of the more scrumptious discoveries Already Dead Tapes has fed my hungry ears over the past couple of years. Big recommend.

Links: Binary Marketing Show - Already Dead Tapes

Handofdust

Walk in White

[7-inch; AVANT!]

When thinking about Handofdust it’s best not to consider what’s wrong about what you’re hearing but what ISN’T wrong, as in, any notions of traditional ‘rock’ production and performance don’t apply. The singer spits all over the mic, the high end gets scratchy if it shows up at all, and when the guitarist/bassist stretch out together and thrash a little, the drums all but disappear. These traits will get you kicked out of most columns, but that’s just what we DO here at Cerb-a-derb-derbs; bring us your tired(-sounding), your poor(-sounding), your huddled masses and we’ll figure the equation out ourselves. In this instance I hear a smidge of Wilderness, a ton of desert-style Morricone guitar (at least on the title track), and, most of all, the post-folk, MacGyver-style craftiness of Inspector 22. I’ll admit, however, that I’m having a tough time putting my finger on what exactly it is that this trio DOES. They have a way of going quiet on the verses then brick-jamming the chorus that seems almost Pixies-ish, yet beyond that aspect (and frankly I’ve found Pixies’ quiet-loud dynamic to be overstated, much like Hemingway’s supposedly short, punchy sentences) there’s very little in common. Guitar strings are seemingly bent out of tune, a mystical mode is achieved, and the choruses thrash out the momentum so fervently, yet abashedly; how do they do that? So I’ll say it again: Handofdust excel at driving home a particular gnarled rock essence that leaves me grasping for straws where influences are concerned. All I can really say for sure is I’ll sign any petition Handofdust send my way and veto any bill they argue against. You spin a lo-fi yarn this effectively and that’s your reward, every damn time. Take note.

Links: AVANT!

Charles Barabé

Stigmates

[CS; 905 Tapes]

A real eye-popper/exploder. This is one of the more surprising spools to roll through the reels of my deck in some time. Mr. Barabé is a Montrealite who’s in charge over at the La Cohu label. For his own music he’s composing some kind of bizarre musical bric-a-brac, nether-world insanity. This is my first engagement with his sounds and after listening through a few times I have a feeling that no two releases of his would be alike considering how each track succeeds to do a complete 180. (I guess I’ll have to find out, and indeed, this crazy ass tape is one of those insatiable intruig-ers that instantly begs further investigations). On Stigmates, Barabé guides the listener through some kind of a surrealist macabre theater, outlined with chapters (which are listed as such on the J-card and announced on the tape in a deeply creepy voice in between musical passages). Each piece here sounds composed of different structural elements. I’m hearing a lot of synthesizers, no-input noise makers, sampled acoustic instruments, foreign opera voices, modulators, and hand drums. Those things are all spread out over druggy meditations that make your mind feel like a jungle of thoughts, shrieking noise fits that might make you scratch something you shouldn’t for too long, and also strange Classical passages from something like an inter-planetary chamber group. This all comes out a little nonsensical, and so tracing any kind of real story or pattern across this tape is pretty much impossible as dense and disorienting all this general weirdness truly is. The title of the album and that there are several tracks called “Stigmate” (“Stigmate I,” “II,” “III,” “IV,” and so on) seems to clue that Barabé is investigating a series of points or sites of decay, disease, imperfection… and if we can buy at least that much as some kind of a theme or point of grounding for the scattered circuitry that the sounds find their way through, it might (might) help give you an idea of what the fuck this guy is doing. But the best way to find out is to just listen to it, though, so go ahead and do that and if someone could just let me what the hell is happening inside this guy’s brain, that would be great.

Links: Charles Barabé - 905 Tapes

Poison Girls

Chappaquiddick Bridge

[LP + 7-inch; Water Wing]

Be honest: How many of you actually were around back when Poison Girls were playing shows with Crass and Annie Anxiety? Two of you? Three of you? Negative-one of you? Yeah, a lot of TMT’s readers are young ‘uns, and that’s how we like it, but y’all have got to understand how much greatness came to pass before you started imbibing the current 24-hour music news cycle. For instance: Punk used to be rebellious! Punk used to be disdained by the majority! Punk used to be… Punk! Any understanding you hope to have for the assembly line thrum of today’s ‘scene’ should be augmented by fervent listening to albums like Chappaquiddick Bridge, a lost gem circa 1980 that not only keeps up the punk pride of the Girls’ last reissue on Water Wing, Hex, but peppers in a lot of Gang Of Four basslines I didn’t notice last time around (though they might have been there), not to mention some jangly riffs a lot of bands would turn into MTV gold later in the decade. It all comes down to Vi Subversa, however; she’s the fulcrum on which these tunes rest, and her J-Rotten delivery and quite-sexual lyrics were way ahead of their time (she even delved into the concept of gender before the age of cis-this and that). It’s almost impossible for me to believe she was a middle-aged mother at the time these tracks were recorded; yet there she is, attached to one of the most creative backing bands in punk’s short late 70s/early 80s heyday and taking it all in stride. Perhaps most surprising of all is the fact that Poison Girls challenged the status quo of not only 1980, but 2014! In other words, it’s STILL rare to find a punk band that traverses so many disparate, spread-out corners of the outre-music map. I can only imagine what the average person thought of them in 1980 (likely a mix of perverse fascination, disgust, and ultimately disdain); maybe this is the year they finally get their due?

Links: Water Wing

The Courtneys

Mars Attacks

[7-inch; Hockey Dad]

My ears question whether this experiment is working, yet in my heart I know The Courtneys remain on the level at which they need to be right now. That last full-length impressed a lot of people (including us) and this pretty lil’ 7-inch is all we’ve heard from them in awhile, and they decide to throw some rapping into the friend-punk mix? Didn’t we all learn that this doesn’t work more than a decade ago? HOLD IT: Yes, we were taught well what NOT to do with hip-hop, so from here on out we’ve got to figure out what TO do with hip-hop. “Mars Attacks” takes a stab at it, and I’m not going to argue with the results as much as I’m going to posit that it can only get better from here. And the melodic hooks sink deep enough to implant themselves in your pleasure receptors (that warm sensation isn’t from the drugs, dude), the Bangles harmonies ringing strong and clear until the even-more-confounding b-side remix floats in on cartoon wheels and florescent flames. The remix has so little to do with the original track, and that’s what I like about it. There’s nothing worse than an A-B transfer that does little to expand on the initial ride. Not what I would have expected from these ladies, and all for the better. The watermelon-colored wax looks awesome, too; cheers all around.

Links: Hockey Dad

Gino and The Goons

Shake It!

[12-inch/CS; Slovenly]

Ever since that Hell Shovel record I’ve been keeping a lazy eye on Slovenly Records, and that resulted in me finally being able to review something of theirs (as they don’t send out vinyl promos; for shame!), that something being Gino & The Goons’ Shake It!. I wouldn’t rank this as the best thing those Vegas desert rats have put out, but if you’re in the Hozac/Castle Face/Goner/In the Red/Almost Ready orbit you probably won’t think twice before snatching up this hot-pink stretch of occasionally glammy, always punk-driven leather nutz. Lots of fun singalongs and escapism in the form of lyrical trysts to Mexico to be had, the sort of music that wears its sunglasses indoors and spends most of its time at the hotel pool with a bottomless derailer (if you’re not privy to the Pac Northwest drinking scene it’s a bunch of alcohol and fruit juice sloshed together). Sex, death, and paranoia; yep, that’s what being 24 is like! The Black Lips have said it better but they’re practically the grandpas of the scene by now. If you yearn for fresh blood look no further.

Links: Slovenly

Mechanimal

Secret Science

[LP; Inner Ear]

The most daring moments of Secret Science are the Doc Moreau mash-ups of completely opposite tonalities. There are moments when 16-bit fanboyism collides with an equal fervor for Depeche Mode. Peter Murphy nu metal nightmares and goth-hop. If there is a cohesive thread of thought, it’s only that disparate sounds should be forcefully bred to create hybrids the world can’t wait to willfully shun. But not us. Not this cross-hatch of oddities. We’ll wear our black combat boots and Wu-Tang shirts with no worry. We’ll speak about Rammstein with admiration even as we secretly listen to the latest LX Sweat while speeding running Super Metroid. While hideous when putting a mirror to itself, this is the reflection a very large subsect of the world has been trying to create for decades. All interests in one pool, free from gentrification and delineation.

Links: Inner Ear
  

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.