The Technical Academy Plays -b0b-

[CS; Fixture]

A real John Henry sort of a situation here: Who is best at free jazz? Is it Man… or Machine? -b0b-, otherwise known as computer programmer and musical composer Bob Lee, made that question a little more complicated to answer. Of course there’s always the presupposition that any electronic music is essentially man-made, musical decisions like form, harmonic progression, melody, rhythm and timing all decided upon by a sentient human prior to recording. But on this release from Fixture Records, which collects music played during the 90s by The Technical Academy, a veritable band of automatons created by Lee, the results are surely much too weird to have been entirely programmed in ahead of time by some all-knowing/composing composer. Rather, these “songs” are all the products of algorithms, each robot reacting musically based on its own individual coding and the instrumental parameters set up by Lee at the onset, which included drums, flutes, horns, pianos, guitars, bass, the works (all midi, of course). A hit of the play button, and off those little bots went, meandering through notes, hammering out wicked drum-machine solos and plunking through drifty extended dance jams, all of which ends up sounding like a giant traffic jam turned into the weirdest, most-fun sounding party of all time. There’s some awesome inserts that come with this tape, including a brief interview the label did with Lee about the making of this music, and also a little guide to some of the source code used in the bots. Frankly, this stuff is totally bizarre and a tough listen, but aside from the sheer fascination and uniqueness of the project itself, -b0b- says something about releasing performance from the human conscience – The Technical Academy is a band totally free of inhibitions, and because of it, the music comes off sounding remarkably confident and strong, despite its utter randomness. So the question still remains I guess… Free jazz. Man or machine? Let’s put it this way: The Technical Academy is certainly no Ornette Coleman. But Ornette Coleman ain’t no Technical Academy neither.

Links: Fixture


Only Forever

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

Only Forever feels typical at first. A soaring, post-drone note about spatial and galactic dreams. The untouchable lassoed and pulled down to earth through a medium that is always stargazing. But somewhere around “Miragerie” the whole apparatus begins to malfunction. Though the destination is still the heart of the sun, the trajectory goes off-course and the whole vision quest begins to be enveloped by a super massive black hole. It’s still an astrological trip to mine the vast reaches of the Big Bang but this change of course while stuck on a target no longer in reach creates a different dream. Maybe what we believe we want is not what we truly want. That we’ve fattened ourselves on the proteins of Copernicus and Brahe, so that we can no longer see where our toes are truly pointed. When we just want to go up, doesn’t that defeat the earnest purpose of exploration? I’d rather spin a wheel and go where it says to go and find the real dream. So to does our pilot.

Links: Constellation Tatsu

Bary Center

Endless High


Did you know there’s a dude out in Kentucky making pile-driving, Excitebike-style techno music? His name is Mark Williams, also known as DJ MRTHEBEST, but for our purposes we can call him Bary Center. If an “endless high” sounds like a good time to you, I guess this one’s sold itself (as if a new banger from MJMJ wasn’t enough already, amirite?). OK, so it’s not endless per se, but don’t get so disappointed – it’s damned close to an hour of basically ONE tempo. At times it certainly feels that way, delivering the Wuthering heights of a brain-dead bounce on the dance floor at who-the-hell-cares-what-time-it-is o’clock in the morning. Williams has an uncanny ability to keep straight-up stuff like this interesting, giving his syncopation room to develop with subtle inflections over time. He threads a psychedelic ribbon of sound carefully through the drum loops in a slow motion wave ahead of spooky vocal breaks, giving each track’s timeline its own rolling topography. All the while, that four-on-the-floor is insistent enough to keep your pupils as big as dinner plates and your heart rate pumping right along at a nice’n’easy 120 beats per minute. Don’t be surprised if catch your eyelids twitching to the rhythm after you’re out cold – this one’s infectious enough to invade even the deepest REM sleep cycles.

Links: Bary Center - MJMJ

Al Marantz

Forgotten Device


My own weirdness is a huge factor in why I find this cassette so endearing. The earnest strangeness of it makes me want to dance. Which I shouldn’t do, as it looks like someone tazing a corpse. It’s the simple synth lines and drum-machine loops that cause it; they squirm up inside you, pop open a folding chair and crack a weird, domestic beer right next to your ear. There is a confidence and genuineness to it all, an acceptance and knowledge of it’s own eccentricities. When talking about recurring nightmares there is a warmth pervading the music, as if someone was saying “even in my somewhat off-putting awkwardness, I’m comfortable. This is where I am and that’s okay. Better than okay even, it’s damn good.” The peculiarity is never forced of affected. There is no creeping sensation that the people behind the lyrics, which bounce between mundane and uncomfortable with admirable ease, are doing it just to get a reaction. It’s not weird out of desire, it’s just how it is. Which is wonderful and beautiful, and that’s why I want to dance to it, although it’s embarrassing. Though it shouldn’t be. That’s the lesson here…I think.

Links: OSR



[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

A challenge has been thrown down by where we’re left to wonder the direction of a muse with none. The intimacy of low temperature room has melted with the winter snow, leaving a puddle of vapor but little waves. Perhaps ripples. The emoji-titled cassette is more playful, maybe a bit immature. But that’s why it’s fun. And with any self-flagellating pop star, the hidden force behind is a creature of change. Sometimes a statement requires fortitude; sometimes it requires a heartfelt smile. This is all teeth in a giant ‘Cheese!’ for the camera. But as the Polaroid develops, it is warping like a Dali – or is that really the world itself? Ah, the curiosity of 夕方の犬. Keep us guessing.

Links: Constellation Tatsu

R. Stevie Moore

Ariel Pink’s Picks vol. 1

[12-inch; Personal Injury]

Given that this Bandcamp page for R. Stevie Moore has upwards of 300 releases you can listen to, we should all feel lucky to have an astute gentleman such as Ariel Pink to pick out some of the key tracks for us. There’s gotta be some kind of a trimmed primer to start with, although let’s be honest, with that many albums who the hell knows what all this guy was capable of putting down to tape since the 50’s(!). And he’s still making music. Lots of it. Nevertheless, this 2xLP collection of 17 hand-picked popsters could do just the trick if you don’t have the two-to-three lifetimes you’d need to check out the entire catalog and are willing to zone in on a specific period of his career. We’re focused on material released between 1973 and 1984 here, tracks that, as you might have guessed, double as explanations of Ariel Pink’s approach to music on the whole: that lo-fi, into-the-past-peering punk rock, slightly updating (i.e., having fun with/obliterating) the British invasion’s cheerful bally-hoo with more adventurous forms while clinging tight to the sweet harmonies and jangly bounce of something like the Beach Boys. Add to that a dollop of Moore’s uncanny sense of humor, the goofy self-deprecating commentary belted out in mousy falsettos to the tap of a solid backing band, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you can expect with this one. But what you might not expect is just how genuine it all is, or the sweet sensitivity of some of the softer numbers, like the beautiful “The Winner,” tucked away on side 3. Not even 30 seconds into this record and it’s apparent how criminally insane it is that R. Stevie Moore is still the mysterious outsider he remains to be in 2015 (I only became aware of his existence within the last 12 months, if that’s any indication) – why, after all this time, and especially after having produced the decade of music this excellent release paraphrases for us, is this guy not a fucking millionaire? Or, maybe he is? Your guess is as good as mine.

Links: R. Stevie Moore - Personal Injury



[CS; 5CM Recordings]

A world of what ifs now summarized in Entropy, though the biggest may be what would have happened had Ozzy joined Rush and crashed CBGBs in 1975. But that reads like PR fodder and does Nostromo’s blend of fleshed out hard rock no favors. It doesn’t capture the hurried frenzy of these songs that somehow last longer than we expect, yet end at the right point to induce further listens. It’s a bunch of riffs that would be monoliths in mono. Turn down one speaker and play along to the brutish melodies in the summer heat. There is complication and precision behind Entropy – it’s hard to hear as the wall of heaviness immediately falls on your body like Dorothy’s house but the technicolor reveal with each press of play is a gasp of fresh air somewhere under Blackmore’s Rainbow.

Links: 5CM Recordings



[7-inch; self-released]

Most drone-trippers neglect the 7-inch vinyl format because they, I’m assuming, find it limiting. What’s the point of getting a good lather going if you can’t sustain it for as long as the moment demands? Bulgaria’s Mytrip don’t think this way at all. They see ambient music as a weapon, and wield it well on Empty. I’m not sure if I’d be able to tell the difference between these two six-minute exercises, even after listening to each two-dozen times, but that’s part of the appeal of dro’; nothing strays far from the motherboard, and as such each body of sound is connected, if not uniform. Like in the matrix. “Wait for Me” is endowed with some serious low-end that tore my speakers a new one, and there’s a whole other world thriving up above, enchanted by an ongoing swirl of effects sewage whose source I’m not even going to attempt to pinpoint. It’s a strong piece of work though, tunneling far beneath the earth, where only the chosen will notice (which is kinda what this whole thing we’re doing represents, no?). “Wherever You Are” seems a mellower monster until a flash flood of drone doom begins to sour souls. Mytrip pressed 250 of these; the rest is up to you.

Links: Mytrip

Jason Henn


[CS; Self-Released]

Stepping outside of the Honey Radar costume, Jason Henn seeks your Attention. But not through any sort of lackadaisical pun of the quality I just unraveled. Frankly, Attention is a misnomer. A play on words and actions that eclipses any joke I could create. A man and his guitar just playing with thoughts and space. Longer statements of circular logic; a fixation on an idea until it begins to sprout rather than cutting it off before the negatives creep in. There are moments of quiet contemplation – a bit of meditation. Then the unleashed fury of an idea gone haywire takes hold. We can only isolate ourselves for so long, as evidence by Henn’s willingness to share the final product – even if it’s just in a batch of 20 moments of minimalism. Because the white space and those black letters matter. It all matters to someone. Make it matter for you.

Links: Jason Henn


Medium Strong

[CS; Book End]

I have the suspicion there is something to do with memory at the heart of this cassette. The tidal washes of synth combine with spectral vocalizations to create an inner-thoughts oriented space. Here are memories or dreams, or some combination of the two, because who can say they absolutely know the difference? The A side is “Awake” and the B is “Retrace,” like an amnesiac’s morning routine: get up, have your coffee, try to parse out dream from reality, the subjective experience from the objective occurrences.

Even for those of us with a “normal” sense of memory, when an actual event has passed by and been locked away in the winding hallways of recollection, it becomes hard to piece together exactly what took place. Just for starters, consider this list of memory biases on the Wiki, which is the tip of the iceberg. All of that is captured succinctly here; the un-centered drifting, the individual notes like points in time peaking out and then dipping below the drone once again. That’s really the core of it: we can revisit our past, but it’s intangible, fleeting and almost futile. Even when awake we can only retrace by proxy.

Links: TALsounds - Book End

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.