Croweater

Seasick

[CS; Revolution Winter]

As the Revolution Winter taught me over the last year or so, sometimes you have to look back to look ahead. Bands like Croweater understand this as they mine the best aspects of early Charles Bronson + power violence in general, Daniel Striped Tiger, and Pissed Jeans to form the core of what one can only dub madness bordering on maniacal. Seasick is an apt title for such an inherently messy tape. You’ll be grabbing onto rails, beams, people’s limbs; anything to steady yourself as the extreme rhythms, which exist as more an idea/dream than recorded reality once the other elements hit at full force by dint of the low fidelity, pound out a beat that’ll march you straight into the groaning depths of HELL. Speaking of which: It’s interesting to me how a conglomeration of obvious misfits like Croweater can fuck around and bring a tape as heavy as just about anything I’ve heard in the last year, as if metal never existed. Listen to Seasick a few times in a row and you just might believe it.

Links: Revolution Winter

Awott

IVAN

[LP; Feeding Tube]

The idea of being a weirdo has been de-stigmatized many times over by now, but your average Joe/Jill who throws around the expression “I’m such a weirdo!” with ease would take one look at Asian Women On The Telephone (seriously, check out their Discogs page) and get all uptight and uppity, looking for an excuse to head for the exits. That’s where folks like yours truly come in. You see, once those assholes leave we take all the good seats and have the time of our goddamned lives. IVAN will never find its way to the ears of the many, which is all the more reason to celebrate their odd marches and surprisingly agile transitions into avant garde territory. Their confidence is jarring, bordering on unnerving, especially during those long stretches wherein the stage is set so deliberately you wonder if anything is going to happen. Then, a flash of purple psych dust is dropped atop, or a suffocating tunnel drone burrows its way through the simple drum-machine beat. JESUS CHRIST! Don’t assume you know what you’re going to get for the duration after imbibing the first track. There are snatches of gnarled coldwave, experimental, no-wave, electronic, post-punk, and much more to hold your much-appreciated attention. Stick around, splay your ears out, and marinate in Awott’s sweet lady-juices a bit. That’s it, smell it. It’s the only way you’ll get used to it.

Links: Awott

A Band Called Life

A Band Called Life

[7-inch; Alberts Basement]

Note to self: AVOID MENTIONING the outpouring of punk bands from Australia drenching the states in spittle. It’s been done, man, and then some. Come to think of it, don’t even mention A Band Called Life’s Aussie roots. Pretend they’re from N.Z., or even better, focus strictly on the next-level antics of ABCL and their self-titled single on Alberts Basement. Talk about how it’s the best experimental minimalist punk set you’ve heard since you first laid your ears on Pumice, or Babe, Terror, or Lemon Kittens (lol you LOVES to namedrop Lem-Kit you shithead); touch upon the dizzying guitar spiral, drunken shakers, hotel-front-desk bells, and general sense of horror that makes “Supine and Generative” tick like a timebomb; mention that what renders trashy music like this so valuable, almost despite itself, is the lack of care, as most who would endeavor to create a work such as “Everyone’s Trying to Kill Me” would end up tidying or scrapping the project entirely. In other words, how did they (or he, more appropriately) even know to stop? It’s easy to assume they’re weirdos and all that, because they are, but no one seems to consider how truly DIFFicult it is to LEAve something you’ve been working really HARd on alone when it, to most ears, would technically sound unFINished. Like “Everything’s Natural”; I totally would have fucked that song up. I would have cleaned up the boom-box vocals, formed the percussive elements into a cohesive whole, and set the synths to a consistent rhythm. I can’t even describe the evil I would do to this lovely piece of art, and I’m you! So don’t fuck this up Grant Purdum (I mean, that’s you’re real name; who the fuck is ‘Gumshoe’?); we’re all counting on you.

Links: Alberts Basement

Various Artists

NO!

[CS; NO]

Sometimes it’s hard to be a proud Hoosier. I spent 8 years in Seattle trying to wash its stink from me. The state’s in an odd position, as the old guard mounts one last charge to maintain its conservative grip on an emerging youth culture that is fine with homosexuality, perversion, and artistic endeavors. So it’s why labels such as No and their aptly titled NO! compilation stand as a testament not only to musicians young and old coming together in the name of community, but pushing Indiana forward one reluctant sycophant at a time. NO! boasts internationally known Bloomington residents (Drekka–who runs his own BlueSanct label–and John Flannelly, who has releases on favorite B-town ripper Auris Apothecary) and emerging noisemakers (NOON and Agakus). It’s a grand mixture of electronic experimentation, each with a different approach despite the collective umbrella. Most striking is Agakus’ “Last Reichs,” a literal collection of evil dialogue and not-so-distant warfare. It calls out to the old Indiana guard, who would sacrifice freedom and and openness for an atmosphere of unchanging fear. It’s a similar path blazed by each of these moody pieces; darkness is surrounding and in turn it is infecting the music. But what can be heard in each composition is the end of an era – the shroud being lifted and the world gifted a new frontier to explore. Be it in law or in melody, NO! raises the torch and lights the way forward.

Links: NO

Dante Augustus Scarlatti

Worship at the Throne of the Oscillator

[CS; Auris Apothecary]

It is a pleasure to get Worship at the Throne of the Oscillator in ahead of deadline because Dante Augustus Scarlatti has been a busy guy and I haven’t had the chance to document any of it here. THIS ENDS NOW! Scarlatti treads a nightmarish path between noise, soundtrack-y scenery, drone, and experimental stretches that may never be properly defined by genre, and as crazy as it makes me feel about the future I’ve probably described hundreds of tapes the same way. But that’s what’s happening. It’s all a mish-mash, and it’s glorious at times in the hands of this young thug who instills a curious sense of soul into his all-out mega-blasts against the Chondritic audio hell that made him the man he is today. I can’t say with surety that you won’t get hurt on your journey to worship the most evil oscillator I’ve yet encountered, but I can assert for certain that you’ll learn a hell of a lot about yourself. A whisper in the noise will be the least of your problems when the blackened hordes of Scarlatti’s imagination converge upon you like knights in the dim night. EXecute them, master.

Links: Auris Apothecary

Brian Chase

Brian Chase

[7-inch Lathe; In Context]

Brian Chase is the drummer for The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and it would be easy to assume the guy couldn’t possibly make hay in the pretentious art underground by dint of his day job. But you’d be wrong, and you’d of been wrong all along, Mr. Schlong, because Chase is an experimental mind who just happened to find success slappin’ out the rock N roll beats. His entry in the In Context Music series, on miraculously clear lathe-cut vinyl like the other limited-to-25 items in the line, is an exploration of deep-space sound manipulation that transcends mere method. By this I mean, you could never guess the source of these recordings unless you’d tried the same thing yourself, save the part where audible cymbal-tapping is heard. A personal work that rewards intense listening, Chase’s latest is… sold out. Don’t let it happen again.

Links: In Context

Jim Haynes / Exit in Grey / Kshatriy / Maninkari

Drone-Mind // Mind Drone Vol. 3

[LP; Drone Records]

Is it foolish to remain flabbergasted at the simplicity of title equaling the output involved? Doubtful, because in a global economy where duplicity is rewarded, being honest and upfront is often frowned upon. Not so with Drone Records, whose third volume of 7-inches on one 12-inch appears to be a prank but in reality is the smartest way to deliver four astonishingly legitimate drone records. As you enjoy the ah-ha moment from that, I suggest doing so to the disparate but interconnected examples of drone from this album. May I suggest starting with Side B, specifically Kshatriy’s “Shifting Waves.” As you sink into the realization of truth, state contentedly at the album’s cover as it reaffirms your new attitude. Let the side finish with the elevated “Enstase 1 &2” from Maninkari, which beats like the best Supersilent version of drone I can recall. Side A is not so two-faced either, as Haynes and Exit in Grey do their best to ease escalating Cold War tensions by sticking to the letter of Drone Record’s law. The heart of the matter, ladies and gentleman, is we’ve been sold a bill of goods that meets the lofty standards of its promised sundry. Drone Records produces drone records, and despite what may seem a gimmick in these pairings, I assure is nothing but ease of consumption for artisanal drone.

Links: Drone Records

Clemens Denk

Leider

[7-inch; Totally Wired]

“Need a Kiss” is a remarkably nihilistic FUCK OFF to everything and everyone, dismissing the need for just about all the ingredients you’d normally associate with musical success and making it work anyway. Spitting in your face as much as he is singing into your eager ear, Clemens Denk is another one of those loopy artists you might expect to find on, in addition to Totally Wired products, the assembly lines of Ultra Eczema and/or Feeding Tube. In other words I love what he does. Beuller would say, “It’s so choice,” and so that’s what I’ll say, as well. Choice. “Der Alte Vertreter” might just out-fox “Need a Kiss,” despite the absence of vocals. Its synths ping and pong off each other satisfyingly like soft, pink bullets whizzing around in a neon forest. Such an effective contrast in sounds, neither side giving way to the other: That’s how I’ve always envisioned the ideal 7-inch. Artistic duality, exemplified, because no one wants to put out a 45 that turns the same trick twice. Clemens Denk slam-dunked the shit out of my expectations, so allow him to do the same for you.

Links: Totally Wired

Tuluum Shimmering

Red Bird Messenger

[CS; House of Alchemy]

I have listened to this cassette tape whilst cooking dinner, riding my bike, at work, going to sleep, sitting on the couch, standing on the front porch, grocery shopping, emptying the cat box, and taking a shower. And I have decided that Red Bird Messenger is a thoroughly maniacal musical work, strangely patience-testing, and even more strangely addicting, which in my opinion is kind of sadistic. Both sides of music are built around otherwise marginally accessibly melodic material at their core, but by the end of side A, you’re going to think you’ve gone completely insane, and man is it strangely meditative and intoxicating sort of insane. Metaphorical bird-noises arranged in little melodies, multiplied and looped to infinity. And then once you get to the beginning of side B, which has this kind of Celtic army march vibe to it, you might feel like you’re back to normal… until you realize the Celtic army march thing has been repeating for about a half hour. And then you’ll go insane (again). To be fair, both sides do have their own internal developments, slight shifts etc. as things lope along. But this is extreme minimalism. I am not sure what compelled whoever it is that is behind this stuff to put me through this kind of torture day after day, but I’m almost through this review so I think I can… handle. No. I cannot handle it. It’s kind of like that game Flappy Bird, you know? I COULD just delete it…. Just one more go. Eyes wide, nostrils flared. Just give in.

Links: Tuluum Shimmering - House of Alchemy

Galena

Buried Finch

[CS; Sanity Muffin]

Sanity Muffin boss (<– new favorite phrase) Billy Sprague is back with a new album under his Galena guise following a very excellent LP release called Grave News for You from way back in the stone ages of 2011. A couple of key differences find their way into the unique electro-acoustic setup Sprague continues to bring to the table (working here with the same core instrumental setup that includes a bevy of synthesizers and some baritone guitar), not the least of which is the album’s exceedingly dark demeanor. Galena has been known to spelunk in some dimly-lit caverns of groove, but this stuff ditches any kind of buoyancy for some truly sludge-ridden affairs. Imagine a gondola boat ride through the sewers of hell and you’re getting close. That is to say that bass tones prevail of course, seismic waves of them rolling in as a tide of muck with scattered beats along the shores. Vocals are more prominent this time around, but man are they buried, covered in a muddy mucus and slowed down to a crawl or chanting creepy spells. But the thing that really sets Galena apart, and indeed one of the few things that did carry over from his previous record, is the music’s gentle touch. It’s deep, dark, bleak and menacing, sure, but there’s a softness here, a certain grace that’s tough to describe and even tougher to deny. The j-card indicates there’s a Soft Cell cover in here, but more often the album really reminds me of the way I felt after listening to the Moëvöt collection Sprague released on his label sometime last year, and if the specific genre of that guy’s music itself didn’t rub off on Galena for this outing, the feeling of forgiving blackness sure as shit did.

Links: Sanity Muffin
  

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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.