Moss Lime

July First

[CS; Fixture]

Wallflowers get ready to fall in love. People who like hearing the reverse worm hole of New Zealand pop surfacing in North America get ready for a thrill. Moss Lime come instruments prolifically un-blazed. Minimal and sparse, July First is clean in its angularity. Notes are crisp, the production spare but with a tinge of home brewing. The post-ennui fits so well on a cassette that I can’t help but feel transported to those early childhood memories of Walkman listens alone in the dark after bedtime. But rather than sneaking listens to more pop contemporaries, I feel like I’m discovering something. It’s not just the mix of French and English lyrics (though I’m a sucker for it) but the choice of odd tempos and halting rhythms. Though I can place its myriad influences, it is unstuck from all of them. But it is a solitary discovery. Don’t foist this on an unprepared group. It’s truly a do-it-yourself discovery. Then play it for a single friend in the car. Let it unravel thusly. Before you know it, New Zealand will be rushing to bastardize Moss Lime.

Links: Moss Lime - Fixture



[CS; Individual Lines]

If the Bandcamp tags “experimental,” “bang,” “scratchy,” “violin,” and “woosh” sound appealing to you, can I make a recommendation? This tape. Recommended to you, oh fan of bangy-scratchy-wooshy violin music, by your dear friend Strauss. Two, by Morgan Evans-Weiler (which obviously follows his previous effort, One), uses all those tags, and also “Boston,” which I guess is where Two was composed and recorded. But more importantly, the thing goes bang and scratch and woosh, and also bong and fritz, and *heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*, all over the damned place, much of the time with what I can distinctly tell is the musical voice of a tightly strung and well-tuned violin. (It also screeches a little.) And I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, Strauss, I know what the fuck this is. I know what this sounds like, I’ve heard it before, sure, sure, musique concrete and blah, blah…” and I’m hear to tell you that you’re wrong and shut up for a minute. Two is way too nuanced and detailed for such a foolhardy dismissal, full of very carefully planned and executed uses of dynamics and solid exploitation of the stereo field at hand, which is primarily what makes the tape overflow with wonderful ear-perking surprises. Weiler efficiently shifts from very light staccato sections that feel like pricking your arm hairs with tweezers one by one, to alternately dense and elegiac bowed drones with supersonic overtones. Side B focuses heavily on the more ear-piercingly high frequencies (maybe like six or seven of them at the top of the piece gently folding and weaving themselves atop one another with just slight variances in pitch to complete a truly excruciating exercise in listening patience) all before dropping out into a gurgling cauldron of boiling audio shrapnel. Have I sold you on this thing yet? One of the best straight-up noise tapes I’ve ever heard right here, period. Maybe yours too, if you can stand it.

Links: me-w - Individual Lines

Piano Movers

Girlfriend’s Lover

[7-inch; Fruits and Flowers]

How a label with a handful of 7-inch rekkids with songs clocking in less than most commercial breaks has become a favorite in such a short time is….well, akin to those minute commercials that somehow convince me to buy often useless products. But Girlfriend’s Lover is far from useless–but firm believer in the power of pop and all of that right here. So long as said pop is as classically infectious as this. Eponymous A-side has all the love of classic New Zealand poppists The Bats. “Downtown 2Day” is a bit more in line with the more mainstream New Zealand icon, Neil Finn. It feels like a throwaway written during that period between Split Enz and Crowded House that fit neither outfit. Now we’ve fast forwarded to modern times and the same sort of tossed off tune crafted by Piano Movers seems just as odd a fit in today’s political climate. What this 7-inch really does is make me want a full-length, so whether that happens due to Fruits and Flowers (who continue to torture us with these awesome sneak peaks) or some other label that hears my cries, give me some more Piano Movers. In exchange, I promise not to use New Zealand in a review for a whole month. That just means that all the good bands either need to stop coming from there or mutating from its sound.

Links: Fruits and Flowers

Curse Purse

Curse Purse

[one-sided LP; Feeding Tube]

I knew I was going to fall in love with Curse Purse’s self-titled effort, but I’ve felt that way about a lot of so-called ‘super groups’ and been left wanting and wasted (remember Swan Lake? Metallic Falcons were good though). But man as soon as the needle hit the one-sided wax, BOOM MOTHA FUCKA, I knew I was in good hands, my brains being mangled by human-sized maggots named Ted Lee, Miss Olivia Kennett, and Matt Robidoux. My vote for Best Cut comes courtesy opening track “Message CP,” a SICK rendering of what sounds like strings mauling AIDS-stricken guitars (too soon?) in a depraved update on the Rapider Than Horsepower/early-mid-period Beefheart tip (or beeftip, if you will), with a sheet of noise plopped on top like a corroded cloud cover. I hear this track and instantly want to fuck something. It could take me years to fully figure out this message, sort of like Tim Buckley’s “Lorca” or somethin’, but somehow the immediate appeal missing from the former is here in spades. Maybe I’m just fucked up? Moving on, “Crepe Paper” has convinced me that there are no strings involved in this music massacre, and it’s also persuaded me to believe in Curse Purse as more than a post-no wave noise-squelch outfit, as this song is quite lovely in an Amps Of Christ fashion before (d)evolving into more of the scree I’ve been warning you about. For the record (and this IS a record), I’d love it if they’d explore trading off vocals, as they do on “Stare,” more in the future. I’m going to level with you: There are a lot of ways to spend your music dollar these days. Avoid the expensive reissues of the older stuff; you can find old Stones LPs (scuffed, but all the better) for cheap at garage sales and antique shops (though the latter now know vinyl is ‘in’ and will gouge you). Instead, focus on getting audio you can’t find anywhere else whose limited quantities you soon will miss out on forever. Get it? This is Doctor Gumshoe, signing off.

Links: Feeding Tube

Grizzly Imploded

Threatening Fragments from Four Boulders

[CS; Sincope]

Twenty minutes to escape. That’s all I need; well that and some wire cutters, peanut butter, a deadbolt, some cyanide and a gas tank lid from a 1987 Jeep. This inexplicable possum stew will boil and seethe, until such a time that it helps create a barrier by which to deflect the debris from the Grizzly Imploded. And these Threatening Fragments from Four Boulders are coming in hot. It’s a fierce breakdown of post-apocalyptic jazz. Jagged pieces flung as far and wide as the implosion can carry them. Though it’s an inward force, the shock wave is somehow outward. And unless I can blast myself out of this containment bin before the 20 minutes of oxygen runs out on this cassette’s playtime, I’m surely doomed. But doom is not death, rather a chance not to do this again. This is a fun game, and every time there is some new deadly object flying at me that I didn’t notice the last time I averted harm and cheated death. For Grizzly Imploded is my Murdoc and I will not go down so long as they don’t.

Links: Sincope

Decade In Exile


[CS; Crash Symbols]

Decade in Exile’s Transit/Pulse is reportedly the first work from UK song smith Duncan Lloyd to tackle the subject of his father’s passing back in 2010 head-on. So, unfortunately, this is at once a recording about death. But hey, cheer up, kid. The way Lloyd deals with the trauma and sadness of such a time is more about transition, movement, and acceptance–specifically, the passing from the material world of the present into the immaterial endlessness of fluid consciousness and thought that is the great-forever.

Transit/Pulse is about the space between these two extreme opposites. The resulting record turned out to be something a lot more optimistic than expected. That forward looking, almost upbeat mood is expressed here musically with highly reverberant guitars shimmering like the light from beyond, and with a voice that echoes like a ghost in the back of your mind, coaxing you softly into a waking state from a dream. There’s about a 50/50 mixture of “songs” in the more traditional sense complete with bass and drums, and heady ambient textures. The two approaches sometimes criss-cross with subtle overlap, accentuating this album’s thematic “in-between” stasis. No matter where exactly the music sits stylistically, it’s all done with a gentle touch that feels as soft as air, and Lloyd’s sentiments and emotions are felt with a palpable tenderness that extends beyond his meek, melodic singing that shows up rarely (but sure is welcome in its brevity). As a whole it’s a little sad, a little gray, a drizzle here and there. But like a good rain, Transit/Pulse is one of those wonderfully necessary things we all need sometimes, to sit in front of and stare at for as long as it takes.

Links: Decade In Exile - Crash Symbols

Benjamin Finger

Mood Chaser

[CS; Digitalis]

It’s been so long since I’ve gotten to sit down with a Digitalis batch. Not so long since I wrapped Benjamin Finger around…my fingers. The man with a musical identity crisis seems to be settling into a more noticeable persona, odd as it may be. But I was never one to gravitate toward normality which explains so many of my life decisions. So while my mild manner self sits behind a desk and bangs out a living, the suit tearing humanoid behind it relishes Benjamin Finger’s handlebar mustache and underwear-on-the-outside look. Mood Chaser wears its two identities similarly: seemingly put together from the outside, but secretly writhing in uncomfortable conformity until it runs to the nearest phone booth to shed its glassy appearance. Rather than see a projection of what we want it to be, Mood Chaser hunts down those shreds of regularity and rips them to pieces. This maudlin mood of having to fit into some Genus Species is getting us all down. Well, not good ol’ Ben Finger who chases a dollop of NyQuil with a swig of Absinthe. See the world for what it really is and be the person you’re meant to be. Desk jobs and responsibilities will be there tomorrow.

Links: Digitalis

Radiant Husk

Deflation Basin

[CS; Bezoar Formations]

Radiant Husk’s Deflation Basin is a fabulous tape, a fantabulous tape, a zip-zoop ZAbulous tape, and I’ll tell you why: It takes the cassette-drone formula we’ve all been mucking around in for years and attempts to expand its parameters. Most interestingly, it maintains a rhythmic element through its first ‘movement’ that also could be considered a focal point of the drift itself. It underpins the action and lends additional meaning to the coruscating remnants that via a lesser project would be left to run the show on their own. Later on, a slow bell tolls for thee, continuing the quasi-percussive trend and lending a sense of un-metal doom to the proceedings. It also eventually morphs into another example of Radiant Husk’s ability to weave exciting themes through a set-in-stone surface, taking the second half of Deflation Basin’s first side to a place that simply disallows interruption of any kind. I know, I sat and listened to it in my record room and was plastered to my computer chair like a WoW lifer. Then you get to Side B and it’s another game being played by the same set of rules. This time you still get the rhythms, but you also get swooping swirls of bulbous bass and synth streaks. That doesn’t last long, however, as all of a sudden it’s time for electro-acoustics and a change in mood as insects chirp in unison like the buzz of a rapt audience. They know what’s good.

Links: Bezoar Formations

Phipps pt

Kiss You So Many Times You Can’t Count My Love

[CS; Sanity Muffin]

Can I just really quickly mention that even though I (think that I) am breaking the rules by reviewing this tape on December 21st, 2014 for Cerberus, that I could seriously give two shits? The Soundcloud stream you can check out below the writing I’m about to write was uploaded to the world wide web in April of 2013. Yikes. To be fair to myself (and to you guys I believe, who now have gotten the opportunity to read this little blurb about it, thus hopefully hipping a select few to its charms and beauties, which are plentiful), Kiss You So Many Times You Can’t Count My Love only showed up in my mailbox a short couple of weeks ago with a bunch of other goodies from Sanity Muffin. Therefore, I think reviewing this little beauty is totally fair game, and in fact kind of necessary. To be perfectly frank, I just have to write something about this — one of the prettiest and overall best tapes I’ve gotten within the last calendar year. Phipps pt is music written, played and sung by a woman named Lovage Sharrock who’s got a voice that bounces off the surface of your eardrums like light from an abalone shell. Beneath lilting, skeletal guitar ballads, all shrouded in ghostly reverberant overtones and subtle synthesized backdrops, Sharrock lets patient melodies float out over extended passages of sustained verse. You’ll wanna say “Grouper” right away, given Phipps pt’s similarly cavernous stereo settings and hushed songwriting aesthetic, and I won’t blame you. But know this: I have already listened to this tape multiples of dozens of more times than I did Ruins, and I think there are some solid, tangible reasons why, aside from the fact that it’s in my review pile, that I love that it’s something new and different in the field of acoustical spirit-summonings, and even beyond the show-stopping cover of Robert Wyatt’s “Sea Song” smack-dab in the middle of the album. Lovage has an incredibly direct whisper, less distant than you might think; almost uncomfortably close without sacrificing its inviting, alluring tone, letting us all in on the secrets instead of hiding them back in a fog. The effects are there for sure, but always secondary and subservient to the tasks at hand: relating a story and doing so in beautiful song. She tells me things I like hearing, but more importantly, they’re things that I need to be hearing. “What are you searching for / what are you waiting for” she pulls me in closer and closer… “and when you find that find, will you then be satisfied? / I want you to be gratified.” Well, let me tell you miss Lovage Sharrock. I sure as shit have, and I sure as shit am.

Links: Phipps pt - Sanity Muffin

Andrew Pekler

The Prepaid Piano & Replayed

[LP; Senufo Editions]

Juxtapositions of technology and music have long ruled art – both as visual and aural medium. It’s a debate at the center of organic vs. synthetic, one that in and of itself often has captured an instrument’s true intention while ignoring its exerted purpose. Andrew Pekler’s representation of the never-ending circle comes in the form of a nearly 2-year old art installation in which five mobile phones were placed inside a piano, triggered by an audience’s calling each phone at any given time. A bunch of other technical jargon later and we’re gifted with The Prepaid Piano & Replayed. The results unfold like a test tube experiment on each side: the A-side the “organic” results; the B-side a reconfigured arrangement (of sorts) based on a MIDI algorithm. The truly strange part is how robotic and prepared the A-side is compared to its technologically determined B-side. Not only has Pekler made a cruel statement which provides little evidence for either side to use to further their debate, he turns it into a well-deserved joke. In truth, the end user is the litmus test and just like opinions, we’re all assholes who must argue for/against something rather than accept/reject nothing. Removed from this sort of lab rat hypothesis, it should be noted The Prepaid Piano & Replayed (the ampersand separating the individual names of each side, in case you were curious as to its strange title) is a difficult listening experience. There’s no other way to sugar coat it. But don’t mistake ‘difficult’ for awful. On the contrary, it’s just that without the context in which each side was crafted, Pekler’s experiment can seem rudderless. Which only complicates these imaginative debates about the realness of the manufactured and the facade of what constitutes an organic instrument. Much like Pekler, the man with a plastic bucket and some branches will have as much say as the old scientists and sonic experimenters who toiled at large Moogs.

Links: Andrew Pekler - Senufo Editions

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.