Alosi Den

Live from the School of Disembodied Poetics

[CS; Desert Home Recordings]

Dammit if the first minute of this tape isn’t a dead ringer for Boredoms’ Vision Creation Newsun, but don’t let that pigeonhole your perception of the band, or my review of said band (except if it makes you want to hear it, in which case by all means!). If nothing else that first minute of swirling amplifier noise is just a springboard used to execute big ol’ jackknife dive into a 10-mile-deep pool of psychedelic sound that Allston’s Alosi Den takes. And the splash on impact is a wondrous thing, a refreshing splay of cool color and wetness, warbly guitar reverb slipping its way down the back of your neck, that crooning vocal running its fingers through your hair and the drums kicking your legs up and down, treading the swift waters of summer time rock’n’roll. Wow, I took that metaphor a really long way in that sentence, and reading back I think I can say that it all works – all to the credit of this new-to-me band, which does just about everything right here, such that the details aren’t anything to be nit-picked. Rather, the pieces of this band’s music are so fully formed and functional the way they’re arranged, you’ll hardly notice anything stick out as you’re listening, inspiring little five word reviews in your mind like, “These guys just get it.” After all, rock and roll is a sound and a style and a technique and a feeling, and when all those cogs line up and the gears are turning like they should be, lo and behold, the damn thing just works. Now that they’ve got it so perfect, the only question left is… how much more perfect will it get from here? And yet, you can still sense that the band is finding its footing as a couple of the songs drift through some aimless spaces. Nonetheless, only a few songs here – but just a taste, a morsel – and Alosi Den boasts qualities like a little bit epic, a little bit ballad, a little bit blues, a little bit punk, a little bit kraut, and just a whole lot of what I want to simply call “Great.” Get it? Got it. Good.

Links: Alosi Den - Desert Home Recordings

Nagual & Carl Mitchell

Improvisations I & II

[CS; Cabin Floor Esoterica]

Jazz is a fickle beast, much like the domesticated cat that pretends to put up with you. Sure, there’s a bit of love and loyalty exchanged in meaningful purrs and satisfactory pettings but there are fangs and claws on that fur ball. It’s cute but hurtful, turning on a moment’s notice. The care taken to keeping this finicky animal at ease is tiring: feedings, brushings, litter box maintenance. Yet the bond generated over years of treating each other with mutual mistrust leads to something much more fond and endearing. Cats aren’t bred to grow friendlier through bloodlines, so they carry an edge with them through generations. I’m sure jazz is allergic to such a generic metaphor, but it too bares its fangs and claws with each iteration. It has endured decades of slow growth and stunted attention from an audience that would rather take up the ease in caring for a dog. Dogs are pop music, accessories to sunny afternoons in parks and cars with the windows rolled down. How the duo Nagual and Carl Mitchell will feel about all of this preening is up to their discretion but hopefully they are cat people, because their two sides of improvisational free-jazz are the stormy stretches and midnight bellows of a cat taking over the house after the masters have fallen asleep on guard duty. Kernels of litter are sprinkled throughout the home, fur falls off in clumps on the piece of furniture they aren’t to dare to sleep on in the day, and a general sense of ennui is erased by bursts of ecstatic energy to pounce on an unsuspecting shadow under the guidance of moonlight. Improvisations I & II take equal liberties, skewing the normal relationship between human and animal kingdom to embrace the primal qualities of jazz in its continued stunted mutation. It has been neutered and rendered secondary by a society too enamored with impatience to care for its matriculation, so it buys a dog that shits in the yard and is loyal to only its needs. Those adept enough to put time in with a cat will get their just rewards; so goes Improvisations I & II.

Links: Cabin Floor Esoterica

Sweetie Sweats

Cambium

[LP; Hot Releases]

Sweetie Sweats, a band name that truly cannot be tamed, turns out to be a frank, spot-on representation of what this Ariana Dominguez-fronted (she was in Honey Heads with the Father Finger guy, and that FF tape on NNF was <3) project splays out in front of the listener like a sound spreadsheet. Cambium is a sugary mix of soothsaying synths and ghostly shoegaze-style vocals that reminds me of Spencer Krug’s many projects (while they were tip-top) by dint of the way it, from track to track, locates fresh, interesting ways to present simple synth progressions. To smash them against cheap robo-beats and still manage such atmosphere is a feat in itself; throw in the sweltering, yet not-there, vox and you have quite a stew of ghost-pop. What really makes it all kick is a strange sense of ’80s flashback, an uncanny reverence for sounds of the era. Dominguez stumbles a few times, and is out of tune at least once, but this is indie and her kicks outshine her gaffs at least 4 to 1. Lots of other similar activity out there, including toothache, which is great (also Aisler’s Set in the vocals, and Beach House generally), and many additional artists I wish I could forget about forever (Mozart’s Sister, Grimes, Nite Jewel). Such is life, so pick this one up.

Links: Sweetie Sweats

Old Scratch’s Burnpile

Carlos Sotona

[CS; Hemlock]

I haven’t had to unravel a mystery like Old Scratch’s Burnpile in quite a spell. Seems these fellas don’t have much of an internet presence, to say the least. Carlos Sotona could easily be the name of this band rather than the name of the album. I just don’t have enough information at my disposal to make these kinds of calls. Just about the only thing I AM qualified to report at this point is that whatever this tape is/was/will be/could be/should be, I like it. It’s not the sort of material you listen to every day; it’s much to jarring for that. We’re basically talking about a spoken-word extravaganza with Shaggs-style accompaniment, if you can even call it that, chiming on in the background. Southern accents, whimsical topics, and a confused guitar player slipping in and out of consciousness in the background. Sounds like a limited template, but it’s anything but. You might even say Ol’ Scratch, if that is his name, pushes the limits more than most endeavor to these days. For fans of that tape that came to me shoved into a doll’s nether-quarters, Albert’s Basement, Chance Meeting On a Dissecting Table, and poop.

Colour Bük

Coming to Get the Stuff

[CS; Wir Wollen Wulle]

Would I get tomatoes and/or other produce thrown at me if I said publicly that Colour Bük was the best band in the entire universe? Would you think me mentally ill if I told you that I spent nearly each of the days between receiving an e-mail from Wir Wollen Wulle about a new Colour Bük release and the damned thing finally arriving in my mailbox pacing with sweaty palms back and forth? Would you believe me if I told you it didn’t even matter that this ended up being a tape release instead of the 7-inch that I thought it was going to be? Well it’s all true, dammit. I still don’t know much about Colour Bük, nor does the band give very much in the way of concrete stylistic queues with which I can accurately describe what it is that they do in general – everything I’ve gotten from them has sounded different. For reference, you can dig back through a mean, putrid punk-rock 7-inch out sometime last year, and the year before that, the flat-out brilliant cartoon-core Our Favorite Fucking Day of the Goddamn Year tape on the now sadly dormant Weird Forest imprint. What you’ll get here is what I can only call rock and roll that someone forgot to refrigerate after opening, a once fresh, nutritious balance made rotten from over-exposure to heat and sun, mangled and mulchified into fertile fertilizer for your cassette deck of choice. If you can twist “passed its prime,” into a compliment with regards to music, that’s kind of what I want to say here… Don’t bother with headphones, they won’t help. Drums are beaten to black and blue with femur bones, speaker cones cry out in pain, begging for their lives lest Colour Bük ruthlessly rip them in half. A moment of softness with some synths and a confused/lost sounding reverb’d vocal speaking in a foreign tongue for some reason. And then later a wallow in a swamp of slow-motion vocals and feedback while a spang-a-lang pattern splashes lazily on a ride cymbal. And then I’m trying to figure out how to explain the Daft Punk-like house beat toward the end of the tape, drowning in effects, the album succumbing to a soft, flanger-assisted suicide. I know it’s still early, but I’m ready to call Coming to Get the Stuff the weirdest album of 2014, if not my favorite.

Links: Colour Bük - Wir Wollen Wulle

Ice Orgy

2

[CS; Unovis Workshop]

Ice Orgy is about as cold and indulgent as the name suggests. These crawling drones come courtesy of an autoharp and electronics, painting grainy streaks of disharmonious tones, and gently throbbing them into your ear holes with a plodding, pounding pulse that gradually doubles-down into a rolling rollick – the kind of thing that you’d imagine zombies dancing to. The upper register is a swarming mass, a cloud of uncertainty and unknowing seeking out any relaxed corner of your brain and infecting with a discomforting notion of simple dread. Side B has a similar vibe, quietly intimidating, cautious waves of noise ebbing in from the ether as metallic clangs haunt in the distance before that throbbing beat pounds its way back into your consciousness – more subtle this time, with the light touch of Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas (thinking “Zauberberg” here), but maybe even more effective in its incessant, insanity-inducing presence. Ice Orgy is pure anxiety in sound, a cold sweat for the ages. Purportedly the second release under this moniker (hence the title, “2”), Roy Styles wrapped his tape up in a nice letter pressed package with super large and foreboding Gothic font all over it. I’d love to see what this guy could do with 12 inches of vinyl to carve. For now, we’ve got this one available in a cassette edition of 50.

Links: Unovis Workshop

Lime Works

Mild Infection

[CS; Albert's Basement]

My dream date was Roy Montgomery but he was always too dirty. So I would pretend to clean him up. Make sure he was shorn, dressed proper, and then slowly introduce him to my family. Might start with some of the Kranky stuff because everyone still pretended to try to understand music in the ’90s. Turns out this fantasy is slightly embodied in Lime Works. A slow, droll vision of Montgomery circa The Pin Group. Slowed motioned into Reservoir Dogs coolness, a spoken lyricism a la John Cale on “The Gift” emerges from Mild Infection as it slowly unravels, just like my fantasy. My family is turned off by the aloofness but I see the rebel in Lime Works. It’s not a ’90s grunginess but a ’50s cool – not Motorcycle Boy but easily a smarter Pony Boy. And we hope on the stolen bike of Mild Infection and ride into the carelessness of the country. My family knew this day would come. You can’t clean up a rebel to make him into a hero.

Links: Albert's Basement

The H / Madison Dinelle

On Organization: A Study of Form in Pictures and Music

[Photo Book + CD; Los Discos Enfantasmes]

On Organization: A Study of Form in Pictures and Music isn’t for the faint of concept, in case the title wasn’t enough of a giveaway, but The H and Madison Dinelle lay out an arc sturdy enough to sustain a recorded project four times as long. The CD portion of the proceedings is like a Wes Anderson film: You wonder how they pack so many happenings into such a trim time frame. A low bass rumble holds up an aquatic synth line as sine waves climb up and down the dam of sound like lasers. Pins drop, underwater radar blips, star-ship buttons bloop, and complex patterns unfold without losing their overall shape. It’s part of a complex framework that ties into the titular visual portion: a 52-page, black-and-white, offset photo book with an embossed cover. It’s a solid piece of printing and tracks every move the audio portion makes. I’m in absolute awe of On Organization and, by extension, The H and Dinelle. If a bunch of you aren’t also in the fold already consider this blurb-view a gallop through the town square. The Editions Mego people, for one, will want to check in with this release if they haven’t made the acquaintance of Los Discos Enfantasmes, especially the folks who get down with the Recollection GRM imprint (not to mention Editions RZ). Sharp focus and even sharper tools can go a long way; when organized and executed with vigor, they take on a life of their own.

Links: Los Discos Enfantasmes

Doom Asylum

Stress Techno

[12-inch; Hot Releases]

Finally, the techno resurgence touches down on Cerberus soil, giving us a taste of the stuff they’ve been mainlining in the UK and Detroit (and maybe a few other places?) for what seems like a good long while now. Doom Asylum throw down a vicious update on the tek-nough I remember from the 90s, also bringing the sort of sparkle you might expect from a Bames cut. Stress Techno is straight dance though, yo. Yo-yo, you know it, HA-HA-HAAA(?)! “A Cleaner House Everyday” is like a Rubik’s cube trying to put itself together, and when it fails to assemble itself completely you’ll beg for more time; just move the needle back. There’s a studious side to this track, “Enjoy Bright Leaf Hot Dogs,” and “Nope2” in particular, warping the project into a dizzying mind-melt and rendering a true dancefloor situation out of the question. Andrew Peterson, Doom’s namesake and former member of Yohimbe (maybe you know them? I don’t), isn’t quite as mutant-minded as, say, one of the Copeland brothers, but he’s the restless type, always twiggy-tweakin’ (and his jams, and his jam-hands/hand-jam) while many would sit back and let the beat ride out. He’s a scientist that happens also to possess the ability to make your body move, if you’re so inclined. This record is part of a really fucked-up batch of records I just got from Hot Releases so stay tuned if you want your brain to POP-FIZZZZ and splatter like a strawberry chainsaw waterfall (and I’m guessing that’s exactly what the-fuck you want).

Links: Doom Asylum - Hot Releases

Japanese Treats

*E 468

[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

Japanese Treats: one’s mind races at the possibilities? Did it come from a vending machine like this beer and eel-flavored Kit-Kat I’m holding? Maybe Skoshbox will arrive at my door and to my delight I will try candies Westerners dare not imagine but lo and behold are better than our normal, drudge-filled sundries. Or perhaps it’s delivered from a Toronto label in cassette size? This fun bit of Japanese Treats is the moniker of Ben Crossman who cunningly transforms the oddities of Japan into miniature songs of cute strangeness that only reinforces our love of a culture and society we only know from bizarre imports and Kotaku. It’s the same lights and buzzers and sugar highs and costumed teens that make us all wish we were that free and….dammit, cute (gotta hit the quota of cute in this run-on)! Bottom line, you want this. It may not take you into a headfirst dive of Tokyo or Kyoto zaniness, it will deliver on its promise of being a treat not born of North American palates.

Links: Adhesive Sounds

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.