MA Turner

ZOZ

[12-inch; Sophomore Lounge]

Like myriad bored teenagers ill equipped to handle the stardom of a music career but promised the limelight from local peers, I was in a band. But before that, I was trapped in my friend’s bedroom manipulating tapes, beaten guitars, adolescent voices, and toys-as-percussion to create an album of complete trash. It was a glorious moment and to our surprisingly large group of friends, our parody of modern tunes and annoying regional personalities was a hit. But the pressure was too great. We got serious, we began copping whole sections of recorded songs in our pursuit for a second hit cassette. It was our downfall, never to flourish and blossom like the mind of MA Turner. ZOZ is an ego trip of half-realized pop songs disguised as trippy experiments of space and sound. Expected from a 12-inch remixing 12 cassettes’ worth of artistic musings that was a gallery installation. Those 83 thoughts are now 13 eas(ier) to handle jabs of inspiration. Without the $150 to purchase the whole collection to study the course of MA Turner’s self-editing process, I can still hear a man with a vision and no expectations tying it to the tunnel sort. ZOZ is ambitious even in its pared form; a menagerie of pop influences whirling by with different trajectories, sometimes colliding by also enhanced by near misses that still cause warping-via-gravitational pull. What boys in a bedroom making silly music has to do with MA Turner is kinship, even if we were merely poking music with sticks as Turner clubs it until its conventional stuffing is spread across the floor. Otherwise, Turner is a man among other boys too afraid to follow a half-thought to a fully formed project. Don’t be scared of growing up, and don’t be scared to be a woman doing it either. Convention is just another word for boring suits who don’t get art.

Links: Sophomore Lounge

Geoff

Liberated Atheist

[7-inch; Dirty Pillows]

I go back and forth about the 7-inch all the time in my head, flip-flopping as to whether or not I think it can be a viable medium for showcasing music, and whether or not I find myself enjoying having to get up from the couch every three to five minutes to flip them over. I really appreciate the stylized objectivity and scarcity of the lathe-cut record in principle, this one in particular being that it’s only available in an edition of 20. But unfortunately, this release also has me a little puzzled. Geoff is a musical presence with power, electricity, and a keen prowess for improvisation… it’s just coming at us on the wrong medium this time. It’s a bummer that the disc only contains two out of three sections available from the musical piece “Liberated Atheist,” as right off the bat this feels somewhat incomplete. Side A encompasses a section of the piece dominated by electric guitars, and the B side introduces a Fender Rhodes piano, so what we are missing is any kind of an introduction, we’re just sort of flung into the middle of this already-developing jam. Both pieces hover in modal stasis with a warm bass guitar laying down a solid quarter-note pulse foundation for drifting solos and looping layers of texture to stack, swarm, and swoop above. Geoff’s ability to weave complimenting lines and find interesting contrapuntal relationships between melodies and amplifier feedback is compelling enough for a solid thumbs-up here, but the best thing about this music are the tones he pulls out of his instruments, and especially the guitar – strong and crisp, but also buttery smooth, instantly pleasing to the ears, like Brian May’s. Stylistically, Geoff’s bluesy turns of phrase, especially on keys, have me thinking of Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way, only a little bolder and heavier, more out front. Or maybe this is what Noveller might sound like if she were super into hair bands. In any case, it’s plenty good enough for me to get past my grievances about how the release was constructed, beckon you readers to check out the full piece streaming below, and also look forward to a full, complete physical issue from this talented musician in the future.

Links: Dirty Pillows

Florida = Death

Post Information

[LP; Obscure Me / AMOD]

Such a rag-tag collection of counter-intuitive tunes couldn’t avoid vinyl for long. After existing as a tape and CD-r for quite some time, Post Information gets the thick-as-brick wax treatment, and the confused weirdos among us couldn’t be happier. I get why Florida = Death and the labels involved wanted to take the project a step further before allowing it to be washed away by the forgetful ears of the underground. The wingspan of Post Information is vast enough that ascribing its din to a genre would only embarrass the both of us (assuming only one person is reading this at a time on each screen; by the way, hey there, I just broke the fourth wall!). I will, however, name names, in no particular order: Raccoo-oo-oon, Neptune, Haves & Thirds, Colour Bük, Twin Stumps, The Microphones, Why?, and Rape Faction. Now that the guilty parties have been arraigned, allow me to bring the charge: LIFE!!! LIFE!!! (And death.) There are sections of PI that befuddled me quite a bit, but they’re more than balanced out by the instances of shear abandon, particularly on the flip (labeled as ‘f’; oh those tricky Floridians!). You don’t hear almost-dead beats rumbling through a scrambled audio junkyard too often outside of that Dalek/Destructo Swarmbots pic disc, so when it comes along you best recognize.

Links: Obscure Me / AMOD

Wasted Cathedral

Pleasant Valley

[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

The importance of emotion is often debated in music. Though some would choose not to believe it exists, even if a clean room is created to completely sterilize its impact on the creation thereof, it’s impossible to eliminate. Even if the composer wrote emotionless, the receiver will find some emotion or talisman associated with a particular feeling surrounding the moment or surroundings in which the music was heard. It’s best when an artist embraces the emotion of music if for no other reason than the fun of trying to decipher their state of mind through our own experiences. We put meaning where none was intended. That’s not a problem with Pleasant Valley, eagerly living up to its name with an array of spaced electro-pop. The inherent spirituality at play with Wasted Cathedral is embraced as celestial melodies blossom from inorganic substances. Whatever feelings Chris Laramee planted in these five fugues, they are transparent in only that they exist and to ignore them is folly. This will not end a silly debate but perhaps create a new one where we begin to realize what I project, what you project, and what is projected by Mr. Laramee are all different takes on the same notion. I’m sure I Heart Huckabees made a far more interesting case about connectedness.

Links: Adhesive Sounds

The Brainstems

Cold Sweatin’

[CS; Peace Bath]

Well this is a first: A double-B sided tape. If nothing else, that aspect of this cassette gave me a really great way to open up this review, so thanks for that, Brainstems. Also I’m not minding the blood-pumping pulse you have going on here either, so double-thanks. A modern-day Nuggets type of thing centered squarely within the proverbial garage is here for Cold Sweatin’; tin can’n’twine vocals blaring, drums chugging, the bass barreling, bearing down on those two chords with a razor sharp edge and guitar kicking and and punching the thorax with short stabs, clenched fists to the gut or the temple (depending on whether or not you have your headphones on). Yeah, you’ve heard it before and you’re gonna hear it again, dammit. Although I don’t think Thee Oh Sees really birthed this renaissance of the shower-less, sweaty sock-rock thing, it surely made us all want to hear more of it. Definitely caught the wave MJMJ Records is riding currently, and maybe this Peace Bath imprint will give us only more reasons to shake a leg. Brainstems is more proof that it’ll never get old. Good for you, rock’n’roll. I guess you really are immortal, congrats.

Links: The Brainstems

Caroline Says

50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong

[CS; Happenin]

It’s worth repeating: honesty equals purity. No one can make qualms that Henry Rollins’ “Liar” isn’t a salvo on the act of manipulation of truth but even in its sardonic attempt at exposing assholes, the first person narrative does in fact tell facts (“I promise”) about fiction. Though not painted in red or trapped inside a Faustian sideshow, Caroline Says is wrought with honesty. It enchants her debut cassette, that has more in common with Costello’s no nonsense beginnings rather than the affront Presley put forth in public. Nothing is behind closed doors throughout 50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong except the origin of the record’s title. Titles such as “My Fiance’s Pets” and “Winter is Cold” point the direction of Caroline Says better than any depiction of her varied pop. With the laid bare honesty comes a warmth, whether through familiarity with the subject matter or the sound therein. It feels worn and comfortable because there are no secrets, just truths sweetly exposed. Don’t we all feel a bit better about our situation now that we’ve stepped into the light?

Links: Happenin

Guenter Schlienz

Treehut Visions

[CS; Sacred Phrases]

What do we really know about Deutschland? Our glimpses of the post-WWII Germany have been whittled into brief textbook talking points and history as reenacted by popular Scorpions songs and conceptual Kraftwerk videos. Guenter Schlienz turns the looking glass onto America, providing more a mirror onto the impact of American culture on Germany as well as a glimpse into the nation as it stands creatively today. Treehut Visions is childhood innocence, a younger Schlienz holed up between hefty branches as he scours the beatnik prose of Kerouac. An idyllic soundtrack removed from the hectic picture of beats on the prowl to find America at its most ruthless, Treehut Visions is a soft reminder that the last 70 years of American history have been far from kind to any outsider to grace the so-called Melting Pot. None of that really matters because Schlienz retreats to the visions of Kerouac and kids as a means to tell the real story. For all the violence and stalemate of two nations sprouting in two distinct trajectories, those differences are where we can learn about each other and not fear the unknown. There are still those clinging to the words of the beats and the actions of the Merry Pranksters as a blueprint for saving our souls, as well as those who saw the future in komische and Kraftwerk. Schlienz puts them both together in a definitive and soothing statement: “It’s all going to work out in the end.”

Links: Guenter Schlienz - Sacred Phrases

Nathan Liow / Angus Tarnawsky

Artifacts

[7-inch; In Context]

Another IC release, another reason to get out of bed in the morning. These lil’ beauties are absolute gems from the inside-out and Artifacts is another proud benefactor of the label’s momentum. Which makes sense because Angus Tarnawsky, whose collaboration with Nathan Liow brought this split 7-inch about, also runs In Context music. Not sure what the impetus behind this project was (record a piano concert, then loop it over itself and manipulate its elements? Not your average exp. mission), but it’s a moment worth sharing over and over. It’s a laughing-gas feeling. Memories form drifting mental movies that blend together and bring heat to the face as you lean it against a bus window on a long nighttime ride. Nimble piano strokes and comps lift, dip, and flutter like angels, sending echoes bouncing off the walls. It’s a lonely feeling. It’s the opposite of, say, having a group of pianists play at the same time. Here, you take the playing of one, set it against itself, and watch as it spider-cracks outward like ice on the lake. Cold, crisp, and clinical; that’s how I like my context. Liow and Tarnawsky bend the corners of time effortlessly, turning a good idea into a great recording. They upped the run on Artifacts to 50 copies, and yet, don’t start celebrating man. They’ll be gone, they’ll be gone, they’ll be gone, brother.

Links: In Context

Joe Houpert/Nathan McLaughlin/Cody Yantis/Josh Mason

Line Drawings

[LP; Desire Path]

First, let’s get the fandom out of the way: SQUEAL~! I love these guys~!

Now some decorum. Line Drawings, as a LP and a 7-inch series, is a means to foster community. It seems rather odd considering how positive and collaborative my Twitter feed is and the whole micro-economy of equally micro-labels fostered togetherness. But there are those dissenting voices, those throw downs between all creative types that divide rather than unite. Though Line Drawings will not be a brokered peace, it does serve to showcase how four friendly musicians can be so in sync and yet separable personalities within their set community. I could argue that by establishing the idea of community, exclusivity is at play. Yet it does not show itself here. The work of each is a different idea and yet they work magnificently in this setting. Each composition is a continuation of and rebuttal against its predecessor.

But I’m afraid I’m clouding the work by straddling the line. That is, after all, the cohesive factor. What does a line truly represent and what that representation-as-projection means to its beholder. It’s a rhetorical question left untouched by Line Drawings. As I see it, this is proof that we can all work together even if we are separated by distance or philosophy. There is nothing to be had in terms of compromise, just in reaching a shared goal. There is power in [a] union and this one is only exclusive to those who wish not to belong. Any sound can go with any other sound; genre is just a division; a crudely drawn idea can become a fully formed work of art.

Links: Desire Path

Bastard Noise / Government Alpha / Hiroshi Hasegawa

Uncertainty Principle

[7-inch; Small Doses]

“SHUUUUT UUUUUP!”

That’s rude, Hiroshi Hasegawa, but I’ll let it slide because you’re rollin’ with Bastard Noise and they’re creating car-crunching chaos behind you, occasionally whirling up a funnel cloud of beast-noise. I think those bear-ox vocals are new; they’re on both sides of the Uncertainty Principle collaborative 7-inch, and they scare me as much as anything does these days. I feel sorry for their mothers. It’s hard to gauge what Hasegawa and Government Alpha bring to this project because they’re both working with Bastard Noise who, as many of us know, can be violent and unpredictable. Government Alpha team up with BN to create lightning beams with their fingers like the emperor from Return of the Jedi (but evil), but then Bastard Noise come out with more of those bear-man vocals and it’s not clear where we stand. Then a glut of electronic wires gets tangled and a spaceship hovers overhead and the red-hot fires of hell are burning beneath our feet as the armies march to certain doom at the command of a syphilis-maddened traitor to his people. Shit, I did it again. Much love, you glorious bastards. Colored vinyl = thick, righteous noise = brick, Cerberus = SIIICK. And I’m out.

Links: Small Doses
  

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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.