Karl Fousek

Codicil

[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

As fans of experimental music, we’re often told we’re snobbish and unable to embrace traditional pop values. Of course it’s a silly argument. I mean, we all grew up on pop and it still informs listening habits in some regard, to ignore it is to cut off your nose to spite your face levels of cliched arrogance. Thankfully Karl Fousek proves those shit sprayers wrong with his latest, Codicil. It’s a warbling synthetic stroke of smartness that showcases that pop elements are a universal filter for all things new. Despite the drunken melodies within, Codicil balances itself miraculously like the girls two sheets deep that compose themselves to nail the Electric Slide at the reception. Perhaps a bit too cliched? Nonetheless, that’s the raw beauty of Fousek’s experimentation. Despite the source material, turns out repeating ideas with the inherent crest and thump of synthesizer creates quite the rhythmic pop.

Links: Adhesive Sounds

Fat Creeps

Must Be Nice

[LP/CS; Sophomore Lounge/Gnar Tapes]

Somewhere along the line, rock and roll was thrown in the trash. Maybe it was just a crowd too tired to fight for forward momentum after its bastardization in the late ’90s or the fragmentation of the consumer base was not worth chasing. Neither are my concern, because be damned those who would rather glue their radio dials and iPod play buttons down on a playlist of extinct sounds. We all have our retro listening habits but those who can’t lend an ear to what’s happening now, I have no time for you. Neither do Fat Creeps by the sound of it. The Boston trio may remind historians how awesome the Boston music scene was 20-30 years ago but rather than retreating to old Dinosaur and Throwing Muses cassettes, Fat Creeps forge forward with a splendid blend of that old patriotic cause of fighting fossilized rock and roll with new energies and ideas. Must Be Nice carries a hint of the familiar (the use of hook-laden, radio friendly melodies) but there’s a roughness around the edges that isn’t going to go away with sleeker production and years of road polish. Rather, Must Be Nice works best under the weariness of Gracie and Mariam; an eye cast to the past and how it all went wrong. Poppy songs carry a burden throughout, cautious of what will happen to them should the mandibles of classic rock come crashing through to destroy the will and ravage the flesh of the newly born. Fat Creeps will not be devoured by its parentage even as it heeds its warnings. But sometimes the kids have to steal the car keys and make a run for it. Those kids trapped in the amber of Amherst 30 years ago understand.

Links: Fat Creeps - Sophomore Lounge/Gnar Tapes

Dane Patterson

Ghosting

[CS; Fabrica]

A few years ago just about all I reviewed for Cerberus was tapes that took on a sound vaguely similar to Dane Patterson’s Ghosting, and it’s an art form I seem to see less and less of. Kinda sad, because I miss the cricket chirps, computer-music sequences, and buzzes/pops/fizzes, and Ghosting is like a topographical sound-map covering every aspect of the specific persuasion I’m referring to. Not only that, but Patterson fills in the gaps and adds fresh accents of his own, and there always seems to be a rhythmic element underpinning the explosions of effects. It’s an extremely dense, somewhat dark conglomeration of drone throbs, electric crackle, tunnel echoes, and urgent audio signals that in current times most closely matches the output of the Hausu Mountain label. In Patterson’s world, more is less, black is the new orange, and rock isn’t ‘dead’ or ‘reborn’ but relegated to the dusty annals of history; there’s no room for it here. And when I tell you Ghosting is dense, BELIEVE it. This cassette drifts by in the blink of an eye and you’ll feel like you’ve missed something. That’s, of course, what repeat listens are for, and Patterson will have you flipping like a short-order cook. I slept on this tape for a bit and there still are copies of the run of 50 available direct from Fabrica, so don’t make the same mistake. STAY AWAKE.

Links: Fabrica

Puce Mary

Persona

[LP; Posh Isolation]

Persona’s inner sleeve features 25 pictures of attractive, often-naked women with their facial features scratched out – as if by a thumbtack or pin. That’s what many victims of Bosnian atrocities came home to in their living rooms, and it’s also, if I’m not mistaken, a technique enjoyed by serial killers. To me this graphic portrayal is as, if not more, disturbing than a million bloody heads on a metal LP jacket, and the burning digital screams of “The Course” only serve to deepen the wounds. Puce Mary pound life to death, not with volume, speed, or vocal rancor but with long, cold stares. They employ dark, often unpredictable rhythms, which often camouflages their intent, but it’s all in the service of a steady diet of screechy, yet sub-harsh, noise. My gut reaction to “The Course” registers the violence on a scale of Èlg to Wolf Eyes to Disco Inferno, a queer, cacophonous track that sets the stage for a comedown shift into ambient territory for a short spell. Once the anguished, choked screams of a tear-gas victim become audible, it’s apparent the moment of ‘ahhhhhhhhh’ was but a ruse. Soon the death machines of industry begin clanking along with the plaintive tone poems and you realize Puce Mary own beauty and brawn, their mastery of both reverberating through the rest of this intimidatingly impressive, limited, import LP. “Pigs” keeps the ovens churning albeit in a less overtly ominous direction, featuring a train chugging over crickets, a broken whistle, and a ham radio making no contact whatsoever. “Impure Fantasy” could menace many-a listener through title alone, and the grunts and kinked-up moans aren’t going to help anything. Again, I should stress this, however: Side B is a much more subdued stalker that will haunt your dreams, not your walk to the car at 3:30 a.m. downtown. Even when it sounds like bugs are eating a distressed screamer and crawling down his throat as he slowly dies, care of the title track, there are no large beats or distinctive sounds save for helicopter whirs and a distant thump or two. I keep flashing back to that Twin Stumps record (Seedbed) because Persona seems to channel all that album’s rage inward until emotions boil and bubble over. Yet the temperature never splits the thermometer, so there’s no healing, no closure. More current comparisons would be German Army/Merx and maybe Social Junk’s more rhythmically rooted moments. One of the best of the year by a wide margin, so get your heads ready you stupid bitches.

Links: Puce Mary - Posh Isolation

Sacred Product

Wastex

[2x7-inch; Quemada]

Another Melbourne hello from the happy doom of Lynton Denovan. A regular of ol’ Quemada with day job band Satanic Rockers, it’s here as Sacred Product that Lynton lives up to the devilish billing. More beholden to the noisy neighbors across the Tasman Sea, Sacred Product is a splendid blend of punk nuance and art school fuckery. The face first vocal tracks create an archaic feel reminiscent of the best Gary Wilson non-starters, but it’s instrumental free-for-all “Sonic Country” that grabs first. But as you switch back and forth, you’ll come to love the snotty pop of “Tram and Train” that punctuates the varied din of this double 7-inch. Lynton is already littering the world with Sacred Product but this may be the best small slice yet.

Links: Quemada

Russell Walker & Dan Melchior

Walker/Melchior

[7-inch; Kill Shaman]

Here’s one I probably shouldn’t be reviewing, given that I’m entirely new to both Dan Melchior and Russell Walker, two prolific musicians who have both been around the block many, many times (as is my understanding). But whatever, man, get off my back. I review records and tapes because I like good music, and that’s exactly what’s on this record, what I’m willing to call “Your official summer 7-inch.” I’ll admit that it’s the A side I want to recommend a little more here, for DJ go-to playability purposes mostly. It’s a lazy drive through a stretch of desert and 100 degree heat, convertible top down, sunglasses on, and cigarette fully lit. Walker’s nasally Brit-sneer croons over a cool bass line and slippery electric guitar noodling while a snapped two & four keeps the engine running. “I Could Sit Here Forever” on the B side is a melancholic mélange of bass, harmonium and stumbling guitar improvisations, swaying back and forth between a couple of chords to host some poetry that feels lost in its own melodies. Overall both sides combine as a shady serenade for the sweltering stupor that is July, 2014.

Links: Kill Shaman

Keith Fullerton Whitman

Vehement Denial / Platelets

[7-inch; Make Noise]

The fact that I haven’t reviewed a Keith Fullerton Whitman release, or owned a Keith Fullerton Whitman release, or even heard more than a few snippets via stream, etc., is absolutely ludicrous. I mean, is there a more important modern synthster in the galaxy (and this is what I love about KFW; he’d probably tell you yes) than Keith Fullerton Whitman? And is there a more respected distro out there than Whitman’s Mimaroglu Music? I’m not sure (and if you’re not sure why I’m using so many bold/italics check out MMusic for yourself); in any event it’s an absolute honor to finally taste the forbidden fruit care of this immaculately designed/executed 7-inch, which is part of the Shared System Series. The SSS came about as a way for Make Noise Records to put out material by several different artists using The Shared System (a modular synth that, according to the label, has no particular musical destination), the idea being the artists’ true intentions will emerge if all are strapped to the same equipment. I haven’t heard the first three entries, but based on what KFW came up with on both sides it’s safe to say the Shared System is like a synth snowflake, no two sessions alike. “Vehement Denial” delivers a surprisingly in-your-face, visceral round-a-bout (which had me banging my head a little actually) anchored by an insistent rhythmic component and assorted washes and gurgles of electronics until an eyedropper squeezes out liquid sound in small doses. It’s disorienting, and a bit menacing, yet also a bit playful as sonic splashes yield to a soft-drone to close out. “Platelets” plays it wide and loose, bouncing around the room like a ping-pong ball shot from a computer-fed cannon, ricocheting off rubber walls as a dump truck clears out the sonic riff-raff at random intervals. Also expect high, chirping comp-u-squeaks no louder than a pinprick, (seemingly) programmed sequences that run through a quick self-dialogue then seem to drop off or morph into something else, and even some hyper, punching bag-style bass bumps, followed by a submarine’s navigation system conking out. In case you can’t tell from the length of this ‘blurb,’ I came away from “Vehement Denial”/”Platelets” pretty much astounded. A superbly executed artifact from top to bottom, on limited clear wax…

Links: Keith Fullerton Whitman

Dick Diver

New Name Blues

[7-inch; Fruits & Flowers]

I wish I could say I’ve been to Melbourne, gripping all these records on my travels like a master of old. But globalization maintains its stranglehold. So I sit on my couch and just wait for awesome labels near and far to import the good shit. And this is seriously good, courtesy of Dick Diver. Though I felt cheated noticing the inclusion of a cover on a two-song 7-inch, my dark cloud quickly lifted upon listening to “Lonely Life” and remembering that some of the world’s best songs are covers. The beautiful pop explosion of the title track almost brought back the anger but then I listened to the whole 7-inch for a few hours straight and couldn’t do anything other than smile. Where is our Dick Diver, I might say if this were a closed off country fearsome of immigration and anything remotely different. But then I think about the British Invasion, and that other British Invasion, and then the Britpop invasion, and I hope that maybe we’re in the throes of an Australian invasion. I certainly wouldn’t mind more Parramatta Eels matches on my television. Maybe the NFL would adopt some AFL practices (hehe, behinds!). And we will sit in the summer heat, baking away to the loving rotations of this Dick Diver 7-inch because we have all been besieged.

Links: Fruits & Flowers

Michael Pisaro

Black, White, Red, Green, Blue (Voyelles)

[CS; Winds Measure]

Patient Sounds my ass. That stuff sounds like Notekillers compared to Michael Pisaro’s Black, White, Red, Green, Blue (Voyelles), a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong-form minimalist composition that unfolds over, correct-me-if-I’m-wrong, more than three hours. Its extreme dearth of earth yields rewards if you persevere, and so you must be brave. The first track, which is Ben Chabala’s rendering of a score Pisaro wrote in shorthand in 2004, isn’t giving anything away early on, and as the first side of the tape progresses he keeps a cool distance, investing heavily in warm repetition and subtle shifts, many of them barely audible. The silent gaps between each glob of sound become more and more pronounced, to the point where you think it’s time to flip the tape, yet it’s never time. Not for another 35 minutes or so, friend. An extended, deep tone, followed by a few more highs and a blurry ambient drone (though apparently most of it was created with a guitar if I’m not mistaken), forms the fulcrum of the remainder of Side A, more Kranky than ever and looking to maybe bust out on the flip. I could be cruel and cliffhanger your ass so you have to buy it, but I know you’re good for it so I’ll go ahead and reveal there is indeed more of an audible presence to be felt when you turn the cassette over. I suspected maybe the elements from A were being manipulated on B, and that is the case to some extent (though tape hiss also is brought in to sample from), though technically Pisaro remixes Chabala’s version of the score with tape hiss. It’s almost like the first set of compositions have been compacted, hot-glued, and rolled in tiny metal shards barely visible to the eye (much less audible to the ear). Then it all cuts out and we’re back in the silent shadows, waiting for day to break. I suppose in the end the second set of recordings were bound to appeal to me more than the almost ridiculously restrained first, but Black, White, Red, Green, Blue (Voyelles) isn’t a study in contrasts as much as an ambitious projection of tonal energy; Pisaro’s remix merely extends Chabala’s interpretation. Look at the time! A pleasure to share such a distantly evocative artifact with you but it’s time to sleep, probably. Check in with Winds Measure and call me in the morning.

Links: Winds Measure

Plains Druid

Blue Eleven

[CS; Blue Tapes]

There’s only about a centimeter of space between the left and right reels of Blue Eleven, which works out to well over two hours of psychedelic drones you can find as this one passes through you. So grab the nearest bottle of cough syrup and settle in for a scenic and serene journey, dotted with swirls of colorful tones, twisting zaps and humbling refrains. Distant storms of electricity light up the void as your bodily vessel drifts along through what I can only assume is the deepest reaches of the final frontier. A couple of strange jolts of silence mark chapters of what feels like could be an extended live set, the Plains Druid a jockey not of discs but rather sampled sweeps of synth and guitar while minimal beats trot gingerly beneath. Elsewhere, high pitches blink to life and bend themselves around pillars of soft noise, all while your eyelids gradually get heavier, and heavier, and heavier. It reminds you of how the microscopic is in actuality something else entirely myriad and expansive, or how a ten minute nap can feel like forever from within a different perspective, like a dream for example… it’s all just a matter of relativity. Blue Eleven could be two hours long or two days, or two minutes, and it’d still be exactly the same. Just as time is on a different axis than the X, Y, and Z’s your material being is used to, so too does Plains Druid roam on a different dimensional plane.

Links: Blue Tapes

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.