Peter Kris

Sprawl and Sky

[CS; A Giant Fern]

In talk of guitarists, they are often broken into ‘Gods’ and ‘Heroes’. It’s very mythical in definition, but the meanings and players are always changing. Where Peter Kris falls isn’t debatable, because like the ‘Best’ he eschews expectations. Founder of Cerb fav German Army, Kris’ solo variant Sprawl and Sky is the Cuyahoga ablaze. Most appreciative is the seemingly simple set-up; much of Sprawl and Sky buzzing with the embers of a prehistoric amplifier devouring Zeus’ thunderbolts with each passing volley. Reflective compositions even have a bit of static, though there is no lack of contemplative silence as well. So is Kris a hero like Loren or a god like Hendrix? Truth is, he’s neither. Sprawl and Sky is very workmanlike. For all the solitary greats it conjures, none is more prevalent than the very human Bruce Russell. Kris’ skill breaks away from age old comparisons, a hard fought battle against rote skill to deliver something far more palpable. Though the way points are familiar, Kris is at his best wandering off the beaten path. Whether it eventually finds him in Olympus or Hades…

Links: A Giant Fern

Underwater Escape From the Black Hole / The Petrified Heart Of An Air Whale


[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

Underwater Escape from the Black Hole is quickly becoming a Cerberus fixture thanks to short sprints with equally long titled partners that can abbreviate into hip acronyms. This is because they speak to Millennials who only communicate via text. But you wouldn’t know it from the busy tone of their two entries on this split. Or maybe you would, considering letters without periods represent the sort of brevity needed to relay complex ideas of the new generation. A melodic yet hectic pace of speech and music colliding into each other like conversations with earbuds stuck firmly in canals; the noise combining with the drone to create a loud/quiet operation where words are empty but thoughts create deeply ingrained emotions. Though judging by The Petrified Heart of an Air Whale, this may be a one-sided conversation. It’s a jittery, nervous energy that crackles on the flip. Where Underwater Escape seem to speak to a generation open to modern forms of communication, Petrified Heart is far more sinister and reclusive, like a Gen X teen happy to tap out industrial morse from the sanctity of their curtain drawn bedroom. Either way, it’s a fine lashing the Baby Boomers are taking with their tired collection of Eagles and Journey records; squares that traded in love-ins for Board of Directors jobs that bilk us all out of hard earned money. So it’s no wonder the world has switched to a broken form of communication, in hopes of finding a new language to bypass the architects of today’s culture to build a better tomorrow.

Links: Adhesive Sounds

Lost Trail

How They Kindle And Flame!

[CS; Already Dead Tapes]

I once spent a dismally depressed night chain-smoking and driving the same six or so suburban blocks. My chosen soundtrack for this aimless venture was a half-volume radio tuned to an empty station. Static, with the occasional intrusion of near-by wavelengths seemed to be the best fit for that slouched drive through dark neighborhoods. The empty hissing somehow blunted my uncomfortably pointed thoughts. How I wish I had this album then. Mixing that static with a hopeful, orchestral drone and sound clips full of oblique meaning would have buoyed my spirit in the dim aquamarine light of my car stereo. Just the sense of intelligence behind shaped static and drone is a comfort; human contact by proxy, which is all I could have taken at that moment. Not that those are memories I particularly want to relive, but I’m glad Lost Trail can conjure them up; viewed several years removed it’s part of my past I wish had been better considered in the moment. The power of this kind of fragile, humming ambient sound is that it allows that window for nostalgia and, if applied properly, maybe the opportunity to reflect and learn.

Links: Lost Trail - Already Dead Tapes

Guerilla Toss

367 Equalizer

[12-inch; Feeding Tube]

367 Equalizer = just more evidence of the importance of Guerilla Toss, so as we mourn their recent passing let us remem-… Wait, are they broken up/breaking up or not? Looks like they toured through the bowels of Europe as recently as December, and there are a grip of solo joints being passed around (KTB, Size Queen/Jane La Onda, the latter of whom you’ll learn about via Cerberus if you behave), so what’s the deal? I heard things, folks; I heard things. As we thresh the details out let us hear the latest from this sought-after act – this actually came out as a tape on Infinity Cat but most of you didn’t manage to clasp that one – as they figure out who they are and, in the process, help us unearth a bit we didn’t know about ourselves. It all starts with the chemistry between the bassist and drummer; it’s so tight it cuts off the circulation to my fuckin’ brAINstem, and as my face drowns in purple I know my sins will take me to hell. But until that actually occurs (don’t worry, I’ll write) I’m content to lock my head into a jackhammer stance and bang to these two all night long. Another element separating Guerilla Toss from the other sound extremists is their versatility. You never know which quadrant of the band is going to pin down the focal points of a song, and in spreading out the responsibility they endeavor to push that much harder against the sort of conventional sounds a band makes when one dude/lady is in charge. That equanimity shines all the clearer through this transparent-pink (with blue streaks) 12-inch that plays out like a four-tiered meal (if that seems like a lot remember the French are devouring a triple LP before we eat breakfast), each course offering a different aesthetic. “Cookie,” for example, is anchored by face-slapping drums and synth ping-pongs, with nary a vocal in sight, before it breaks down into a more traditional G-Toss mind-floss, with the vocals screeching out front and a bit of an AIDS Wolf sense of disease permeating the air. As the record progresses the randomness increases, but never to an intolerable degree. Truth be told I’ve never heard a single Guerilla Toss track I didn’t like, 367 Equalizer included, and that’s why I never doubted the breakup rumors. Bands this dynamic rarely last.

Links: Feeding Tube

Einar Jullum


[CS; Jeneusse Spatiale]

It’s February today, and it’s 70 degrees outside. Those two things don’t happen at the same time real often here in Denver, but have a couple of times this year for some reason. It’s not here yet(!), but Spring is definitely coming, and since I started throwing in this tape by Montreal-ite Einar Jullum (about two dozen times since it came in the mail a week ago), the clouds have parted and the sun’s been hugging my thawing brain, once a tundra, now soft and fertile again, ready for the bloom. And each one of these songs on Overraskelsen might be a flower popping up, a sprout sprouting a pretty idea in my mind. Jullum’s last record was almost exclusively blues music. Here, presenting material recorded in Oslo back in 2012, he turns to jangly pop tunes that feel like they’re drawn in crayon, soft colors that are both bright and distinct while also slightly muted. Textures are just a shade blurry, the edges of a guitar’s strum following the curvature of the outstretched fingers of a child, smeared with its synthesizer neighbor and a splashy ride cymbal into an impressionistic mass of beautiful music, likely thanks to the sympathetic and soft ear of mixer/producer Christian Richer (The Haiduks) behind the album. I can’t understand a single thing he’s singing, but whatever it’s about I believe in it completely. Deep down in my heart, I know that Jullum’s thoughts mean no harm. He’s here to encourage me, to show me something lovely I haven’t seen before. And while I sit here nodding my head, like, “Yes, Jullum, yes, keep singing those words to me, I believe in them,” he swishes swiftly past odd time meters and misshapen phrases, fills out the arrangements with some incredible guitar soloing, vocal self-harmonies and hand claps.

I am just absolutely, positively, 100% behind this album - easily one of the best recordings of 2015 so far, it’ll be hard for anything within the bedroom-pop realm to even come close to touching it (and I do mean anything). True artistry in song.

Links: Einar Jullum - Jeneusse Spatiale



[CS; Thrill Jockey]

If there’s one thing we can all count on, it’s time. Right? We know that one-Mississippi will always take exactly one-Mississippi long to get through all those syllables. Maybe it’s intentional-irony, then, that music composed for and performed in a very specifically time-centric space (the clock room of the famed Bromo Seltzer Tower in downtown Baltimore) would wind up being the unpredictable exercise in chance and freedom that it is for much of its running length. The duo known as Peals (William Cashion and Bruce Willen, bassists of Future Islands and Double Dagger, respectively), took the opportunity of scoring an art installation by Zoe Friedman called “Time is a Milk Bowl” to grind away at bass frequencies and flick at glittery electronics amid a backdrop of the nervous ticks, tocks, clicks, and cracks of the surrounding space’s machinery. The duo hooked their setup into these mechanisms via contact mics, essentially making their physical space an instrument as part of their performance. You can hear each piece of this sonic puzzle acting somewhat independently on its own internal clock (if you will), while contributing to a larger temporal melting pot swirling with all kinds of different ever-shifting tempos, like a musical version of a Dali painting — different sized time-pieces scattered about an enclosed area, melting. As harmonics softly scrape across one another the frequencies begin to rhythmically beat the eardrums until things smelt down entirely into a more homogeneous mix of beautiful and dense ambience. Things finally snap into place when the piece settles into a familiar feeling 60 beats-per-minute toward the end, the glockenspiel clanging its joyful melody and the piece resolving in a gallant G Major. It all feels very final at this stage - like an affirmation that, no matter what kind of timing trickery may be afoot, ultimately we can still count on that one-Mississippi to keep us on track. Side B follows up on the whole time-theme by collecting disparate home recordings from throughout the collaboration’s history and arranging them into a suite of sorts, traveling through some nice material that reminds me of a more pop-oriented Brokeback, although nothing nearly as fully-formed or engaging as Side A’s intrepid journey through space-time – a nice consolation prize for getting through Seltzer’s main course nonetheless.

Links: Peals - Thrill Jockey

Sea Witch

As Above… So Below

[2xCS; Small Doses]

As Above… So Below; shit Sea Witch, that’s the name of my favorite Forced Entry (80s thrash) record, and FE’s singer went to my junior high allegedly, so… Awww fuck it, yr all good, so long as you continue to hurt my ears every time you step into a studio to slam a tape track down. This nifty double-cassette never surges above a crawl ‘far as I can tell, save a quick dip on the second tape, and I’m a huge flip-flopper on this topic. Back in the day I was all about bands that try to do everything, the multi-tasker’s approach to music listening, and now I know the truth: The best shit is specific almost to a fault. Sea Witch hone in on the churning, slowww side of the doom genre so hard it’ll drive you nuts if you thought the celebrity guest spots on the last Earth record kicked ass (you dumb pieces of shit). Luckily you have me here to break it to you that they didn’t, and that As Above… So Below doesn’t bother with any of that garbage. No vox, no worries, as far as I’m concerned, and there’s not a single point at which I’d argue a singer is necessary. Hell, I don’t even want Sea Witch to speed up. I’m willing to slide through the slop with them and steam-clean my ears afterward. I’m a huge supporter of the Slow Doom movement, and I think you’ll find a lot of solace in these symphonies, many abetted by strings, despite the booming heaviness inherent. Don’t sleep on Sea Witch even if you’re a little doomed-out.

Links: Small Doses


Snow Stained With the Blood of Traitors

[CS; Prison Tatt]

I’m not sure what it is about Snow Stained with the Blood of Traitors that has stayed in the back of my mind since it arrived on my doorstep, but its blackened lofi metal appeal is unmistakable. What really stands out about Intolerant, however, is the synths. They’re all over this compilation, and they’re cheap and sloppy, too, not always a recipe for victorious warfare. It comes together in a messy manner, and from a distance it looks like a sandstorm, whirling in on itself and causing chaos unto anything it touches. Get closer and the chaos remains; in fact, as with a lot of those older Striborg recordings (and infinite others), half the fun seems to be figuring out what’s actually going on beneath the layers of crop-dusted fuzz. Intolerant probably recorded these ‘tunes’ into a cheap jukebox and called it good, then years later threw some synths overtop; strangely, even if that were the case, it wouldn’t matter to me. I realize I gush every time a scrap of metal meat gets thrown onto my plate but DAMN, it’s tasty right down to the bone. Motherfucker, listen to metal (sometimes).

Links: Prison Tatt

Henry Plotnick

Qualia (Blue Fourteen)

[CS; Blue Tapes]

Henry Plotnick sits at a freakishly talented thirteen years old, but his music can somehow feel even younger. That’s not a jab at whether or not he sounds “experienced,” or “practiced.” Actually, he doesn’t at all, which is precisely what makes his work so distinguished and engaging. Each piece Plotnick encounters is something that’s born, travels through infancy, childhood, adolescence… and by its end, like when the hisses, steams, bells and clangs of opening title track “Qualia” all converge, the music really knows what it is, who it is, and what it’s doing. Which could very well mean senile and bat-shit crazy. But in those early stages of each individual work, it always feels alien from the get-go, which is perhaps what sets Plotnick’s style apart from minimalism before it. Unlike Steve Reich’s work for example, Plotnick purposefully sounds like he’s stumbling into a semblance of regularity with regards to rhythm, melody, and harmony. “Mechanolatry” begins with what sounds like five or six acoustic string voices blindly feeling their way around one another, as if just opening their eyes for the first time, blinking and squinting to adjust to the light of a new world… Born into song. And by the time of its chaotic climax, the confusion is as palpable as ever - like all these once-children are now members of the crazed elderly, jabbering back and forth and over one another in coherent-nonsense.

You hate to pin an artist’s age to them as a defining feature, and indeed it’s not some kind of explanation as to why I’m sitting here writing about its novelty. It just happens that the elements of Plotnick’s music – his cleverly incorporated melodies and unique phrasings, the textures he so naturally pairs with one another – sound so much like wondrous discovery, frustrating trial-and-error, and ultimately hands-throw-in-the-air exasperation, that its association to age is hard to ignore. But while I don’t invite folks to point and stare and gawk and giggle at the boy-genius that is Henry Plotnick, at the same time I also can’t help but wonder what he’ll be up to in the decades to come.

Links: Henry Plotnick - Blue Tapes



[CS; Habitat]

Expect envy as I relay the conundrum of the music reviewer: A plain package shows up from an unfamiliar address. Thankfully not addressed to Tom DeLay, but to yours truly. I let the cats sniff it, the toddler gently shake it. Sounds like a cassette. It’s not from the label and as far as I can fathom, not from Michael O’Dwyer and Aaron Wallace who fancy calling themselves Boquillas. It sits on top of my stack for a week – perhaps two (it’s a large stack – apologies for the “brag”). It finally meets my tape player. It rings, loudly. It buzzes, furiously. It resonates, triumphantly. Much like the secret world from which this tape came (thank you kind stranger or clever pseudonym), Boquillas was recorded in a tunnel a world away from my humble Usonian knock off, coming from the depths of the unknown to create a feeling well worth discovering. And much like the toddler that inhabits my space, its roars from the tape player through the hallways and angled doorways are signals to the imagined portal through the center of the earth. As if Boquillas and I are tied by a taut string at direct opposites of the Earth. They pull and I fall; I tug and they crash into their gong, only for the din to travel that mythical rope like words spoken in a can between treehouses. No matter how the message came to me, I am hearing it as it was intended for me to hear. I apologize for ignoring it for as long as I did. But Boquillas’ mature rumble finally cut through the childish boom that often inhabits my home. The distance between Melbourne and Indianapolis doesn’t seem so far these days.

Links: Habitat

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.