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

Eye

Winterwork

[LP; Nyali]

Pairing nicely with my first reading of Erewhon Calling, New Zealand’s Eye are a fantastic microcosm of a never ending well of inspiration from an island nation barely 4 million strong. Even as the socioeconomic forces threaten to envelope most of us in a wet blanket of commonality, there are those in New Zealand’s noisiest recesses–as there are tribal communities and castaways deep within unexplored continental jungles and frozen tundras–that have eschewed our new formality to continue exploring the outlier and asinine. Winterwork is such an LP and thank the no wave deconstructionists of yore for such a blessed gem. Though hesitant to apply the same fundamentals and acting principles behind Eye that were at work for no wavers of a certain era, the idea that music is a continuing waterfall that needs a few barrel jumpers in its flow to cause a rethink is evident in the retro-evolution at work within the trio’s frosty distortion. The tumult of our swollen society, turns out, is heard by those in isolation as coloring. No matter how cut off by appearances, something in the magnetic field carries those vibrations. Winterwork is such an interpretation; the music of the last stop between civilization and antarctic quarantine. So now that we know the source of their power, now we must find how its harnessed. Eye is giving no discernible clues, true guardians of a noise knowledge best left to those unfazed by our power suit culture overlap. With only 250 copies in existence, however, you can bet someone will lust to turn this rarity into a commodity.

Links: Nyali

King Tears Bat Trip

King Tears Bat Trip

[LP; Debacle]

With no less than four percussionists, a tenor sax and the lone guitarist being outfit binder Luke Bergman, the intimidation factor of King Tears Bat Trip’s debut self-titled is immediate. The ability to actual swallow and digest two long compositions (one per side) on a psychedelic picture disc which hypnotizes and scares with each rotation…it’s a large order for even the most ironed stomach avant noise gourmand. Yet the rhythm of all these drums is a different animal from the throwaway spice of ‘tribal’. Not to say that us whiteys won’t immediately claim such an identifier for lack of a better term, but when you let the drums hit your intestines (in the midst of “Elevenogram”) you’ll find it like a fine bourbon that has a sting in the throat but a welcomed warmth as it spreads throughout the body. Soon your stomach becomes your libido, the drums as sexual as they are a soothing drone. Lip service also is deserving to Neil Welch’s tenor saxophone, which is unafraid to be the main course as necessitated but works best when it is often paired with the whole of the album’s breakneck rhythms. What KTBT’s self-titled amounts to is immensely fancy plating with a down home, comfort food taste. Behind all the fancy pageantry and ferocious distortion are recognizable melodies that will fill your belly and nourish the soul.

Links: King Tears Bat Trip - Debacle

Peter J. Woods

Impure Gold Pt. I

[12-inch; Experimental Milwaukee]

Milwaukee… You’re waiting for me to crack wise about beer but that ain’t me dawg. It’s all about the Impure Gold Pt. I; I’m too busy kicking back with Mr. Woods, Peter J. to be exact, as he spools together roughshod noise, Jeff Keen-/Orchid Spangiofora-esque sampledelica, harsh, high-pitched endurance tests, Wolf Eyes screaming over simmering scrambled eggs, and other such communications from the heart of his home state. I’m to the point where the title track’s brown mush of noise goulash is sounding contrived, but that’s only four minutes of this half-hour behemoth. Much more subtlety is afoot on the other two cutz. “Notes from Within” is the linchpin of the entire golden enterprise, whispering darkly into your ear and blowing static dust into your personal space. Then it seems as if a sprayer is malfunctioning; isn’t that a form of torture, to not know when the hot mist is going to hit your skin? You decide.

Links: Peter J. Woods

Ian Middleton

Well of Sorrows

[LP; Skire]

Well of Sorrows is so notable you’d have to be a thick-skinned reviewer not to move it to the front of the pile. I’m a weak man so it wasn’t even a question of whether so much as, How soon can I pump this sucker out? Answer: Not soon enough. Ian Middleton crafts the most purposeful experimental synth-dro this side of Mark McGuire, softly and soulfully stroking his MS10 analogue synth like a purring kitten, coaxing sounds that relax the mind while building intrigue that only grows after the first and second listens are over. It’s easy to get lost in the forest of light that appears in front of your film-projector eyelids when you listen to Well of Sorrows, as if Stars Of The Lid added a few like-mindeds and betrayed their minimalist bent. When the LP first arrived I threw the record on without giving the jacket a second thought, but now that I’m feasting my eyes on this fucker I can see it’s next-level without a doubt, subtle and gorgeous (and designed by Middleton, Andrew Chalk, and Tom James Scott), framing the music like a sepia photo of a long-lost relative. If you read this review and stopped when you saw the word “synth” I GET IT, but you’re wrong this time. Dead wrong. The deluxe edition, limited to 50, of this item includes a portfolio-style wrap-around sleeve that also looks pretty dope, if yr interested.

Links: Skire

Honey Radar

Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast

[5-inch; Third Uncle]

First: make sure your record player can accommodate odd inches. Second: make sure your record player can accommodate odd speeds. Third: throw logic aside and just make it work.

That’s the best way to get to the one minute of creamy centered goodness offered from the latest art piece on lathe offered up by Third Uncle. The Indiana label that plays with strange artifacts in limited quantities once more thrusts a weird Honey Radar masterpiece onto us and though it will take us 10 minutes to play a one minute song, it’s well worth it. “Scorpions Bought Me Breakfast” is another preview before a promised full length from Honey Radar but in the mean time we will just bask in the simple pleasures of its quirky melody and quick run time. I’d tell you run just as quickly to pick this up but lucky you, all copies have vanished which means the 10 minutes of set-up is reduced to turning on your internet enabled electronic device and listening it to right here after you read this review.

…And finished.

Links: Honey Radar - Third Uncle
  

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.