Hakobune

Looping Around the Forest I Thought I Remembered

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

Embrace the embryonic, naturalistic ease of Hakobune. Every time I come back to the Japanese master of tranquility, I feel more childlike and less stressed. But Looping is much more than a meditative mantra or a momentary attempt at recapturing lost youth. With similar run times, each song speaks to our inner rhythms, helping to concentrate unparalleled thoughts into similar streams of consciousness. We can begin to notice the patterns of our routine and then begin to stretch them thin. Looping is about finding the details in our larger picture, breaking our habits to see what we’ve been missing. It’s a subtle trick Hakobune has played on more than 30 releases. It’s been training for this; the time when our patience and practice can be honed to spot those integral moments beyond our peripheral. It’s been a gentle coax from Takahiro Yorifuji, carefully crafting an identity and tone. But now we must pay attention to everything around us, for letting it go to waste not only sours our relationship with this broken cassette, but with the shattered reality we’ve neglected for too long. The sun rise; the falling dew; the frolicking deer; the flat tire, the busted gasket; the missed mortgage payment; the sick and the hungry – it’s all part of our beautiful world and with focus we can understand it. With Looping, we can better it.

Links: Hakobune - Constellation Tatsu

tooth ache.

Flash & Yearn

[LP; Feeding Tube]

I was ready to pitch my review-tent for the night when a lovely female voice, in the form of Tooth Ache (Why do I feel the need to say ‘female’? I don’t know.) begged me to stay. And I did, through the entire Flash & Yearn LP, and now I’m convinced she’s the princess from Neverending Story, encased in crystal and the glorious synth-peggios of the past. Hearing this witch house-tinted journey unfold, I figure: Soft Metals but better, or: This is where Portishead might have gone, had they taken shit seriously after those first few records and kept at it. Alexandria Hall dominates every song with her vocals and I don’t hear any reason why she shouldn’t, despite the quality of the arrangements. We’ve all heard a lot of synth programs over the last few years so I’m not gonna recommend it unless it’s top of the line. It’s sort of like an Editions Mego solo keyboard album fronted by a sexy chick. That’s totally reductive but doesn’t it sound kinda good?

Links: Feeding Tube

Sound Out Light

Pathfinder

[CS; Golden Cloud Tapes]

Some more spacey Krautronic explorations from Golden Cloud Tapes, this cassette features the synth work of Mr. Dave Doyen, who’s one of the three weirdos you’ll hear yammering about the latest fringe tapes on Tabs Out’s famed podcast. Nice to hear some tunes from any one of these guys (Vales is another associated project), but especially nice that these particular tunes are so… well, just plain nice. Smooth, sweet tones on Side A, a plethora of them stacking themselves up uniformly while at the same time bleeding down into one another, a melting pot of beautiful melody that results in a wide, expansive field of audio. There’s no friction here, like riding a million mile an hour treadmill through outer space, and just as scenic a voyage as that sounds like it should be. Side B breaks things up a bit melodically to offer more repetitive patterns that lay the ground work for electro-zap noodling. The second number on this half scrolls into some deeply hypnotic and troubling zones, psychedelic not exactly in a “bad” way, but in a “I don’t fucking trust whatever drug I just took” way. Circuit boards stutter and sputter on the periphery as some slinky lines slither and weave gingerly around one another, a cosmic dance for the ages. Excellent mind-warpage at work here, Doyen hits on a lot of different moods while maintaining a fairly uniform voice. It’s a little curious that things wind down with “Capsule,” one of the creepier numbers, since the tape has so many other lovely moments that might round things out a little cleaner. Still, one of the best in exclusively modular synth works that I’ve come across in recent months.

Links: Sound Out Light - Golden Cloud Tapes

Juche

Juche

[CS; Drone Warfare]

In the span of a 60 Minutes feature, drones have transformed from frightening machines bent on privacy invasion and destruction of the Axis into getting our online shopping fix in 30 minutes or less. Considering the middle ground home to three-piece Juche. Where consumerism delight and chaotic espionage intersect is where the band’s Drone Warfare released self-titled exists. A place hacking contemporary melody for intelligence purposes, before reshaping it into popular culture spies to test the marketplace for interest beyond typical E! fodder. Juche embodies a style of attack tackling what is currently accepted and what could be accepted, if only delivered in a cute but potentially vengeful package. Juche is broken neon lights, wafts of nostalgic tinges from rolled down car windows and loud radios, and the beautifully wasted energy of youth. The only bombs dropped from this are revelatory: those “if I knew then what I know now” missives. But you’re never too old and Juche is never too beholden to ideas of the past. So order the tape, having it delivered unmanned via the current, and countdown as you press play for an explosion that will lead to a utopia of consumer delights rather than a dystopia of carnal devolution.

Links: Juche - Drone Warfare

Erasurehead

Moonwort

[CS; Singapore Sling]

Although I very much want to use the word “Zany” to describe what Erasurehead does on this new cassette, that word is just a little too… quick. It’s too fast, too zippy – A. Cooper Reid, the Nor’Easter’ bedroom song writer, harnesses the colorful, carefree spirit of a classic Saturday morning cartoon and mutes it, slows it way down to a comfortable and comforting lope. The result is something scratched and sepia-tinged with a deep voice burying unintelligible vocals inside lovesick melodies between circuit-bent segues of noise that glue the tunes together.

Moonwort is indeed pleasantry that takes some pains to fully appreciate as the songs feel like they’re wrapped up in wool blankets, smothered and searching for air. At the same time, it’s tough to say that this would be any better with a crystal clear, clean air to it. The tape’s inherent pollution gives the songs their own unique charm that is sweet and endearing in their self-suffocation. For when that Erasurehead cracks a smile and those pearly whites do gleam through the dingy surface, the sweetness is enough of a hook to reel any able-bodied eardrum in for repeated listens. Yet another winner for Russian imprint Singapore Sling, which produced not a single dud in all the tapes I wrangled from their catalog in 2013 – a perfect, essential addition to their knockout series of lo-fi pop releases from others like Nose Bleed Island, Sam Gas Can, and Travel Kyoto.

Links: Erasurehead - Singapore Sling

Che Chen

Che Chen

[7-inch; In Context]

In Context Music’s jib is cut so clearly and concisely I couldn’t help but fall in love with it right away. Che Chen, of Pilgrim Talk fame, delivers ICM’s second release you should make sure you’re one of the lucky 25 people who get their hands on it. I’m having trouble placing this material on Chen’s timeline. Is this what those other releases sounded like? I’m thinking not, and I appreciate the change in direction. The idea of a ‘solo guitar’ record has become such a loaded proposition due to abuse of the term of the last few years, so don’t be afraid to push past the concept and imbibe the anti-shred session afoot. “Saturday (I Just Want to Go To Sleep)” finds time to work a few field-recorded voice samples into its muddy six-string bog, and if you don’t know exactly what to do with “Bus Passes By,” well, that means it’s working. If those old John Frusciante recordings make sense to you, or if you’re looking for something along the lines of Loren Connors and Jim O’Rourke that takes it to the next level of the next level, “Bus Passes By” will suit you nicely. I could spend a few days decoding this one; and how!

Links: In Context

Pyramidal

Change of Heart

[CS; Already Dead Tapes]

For the eighty-fifth entry in Already Dead’s now well over 100 release count, we have a nice instrumental hip-hop collection courtesy of a gentleman called Joran Bakx who sent this one in all the way from Holland. Change of Heart is a fairly planar ride, each and every beat set up to basically glide along a straight and narrow sort of trajectory. And although it’s a bit robotic and feels rather safe, the melodies are mysterious, smoky and alluring enough to give it some intrigue – the thing not only warrants repeat listens but almost demands them as flipping the tape over from A to B and back again comes pretty naturally. It might have something to do with the beats themselves, as there’s enough textural variety to keep things interesting, not to mention the creative syncopation this tape is rife with. A heavy low-end keeps the album’s footing on the ground, but Pyramidal still manages a light, fluffy bounce to it that feels free and easy. There’s this one track I just have to mention also, and it’s called “My Old Radio,” second to last on side B. It’s just the bee’s knees, guys - the beat, the bent melody and glistening piano flourishes… I’ve caught myself rewinding it just for that one track alone, well worth the $5 price of admission ADT’s charging.

Links: Already Dead Tapes

Enumclaw

Holographic Headdress

[CS; Sacred Phrases]

The fascination Sacred Phrases carries for projects-named-for-cities-you’ve-never-visited continues with the Riley-esque Enumclaw. It’s as strong a draw as my putting-unnecessary-hyphens-in-reviews. Perhaps we both need rehab, but not before smoking the last crack rock of Holographic Headdress. Unlike the inspiration behind the beautifully design minimalism of HH’s cover, there’s a bit more going on between the spaces. Even if it’s just the faint sound of falling water or the residual hum of a synthesizer note, there’s always a sound to catch your attention. Not that Enumclaw doesn’t allow these compositions time to relax, they just seem to shine brighter when there’s a continuation of point and counterpoint.

I want to make some elaborate joke about zonez or waves, but it’ll only diminish how elegant this tape is front-to-back. Artists adapting little known towns as their pseudonym > Artists using states and big cities as names.

Links: Sacred Phrases

Chairs

The Droning of an Insect Wing

[CS; Kinnta]

Being earnest in pop music isn’t dead, by god! There’s Ian Jarvis, author of all music by the band Chairs, at the very least. And Kinnta Records as a whole in general, I guess – Documenters of sci-fi fantasies and love stories in pop melodies and 6/8 waltzes. All whimsy and wonder in the echo of a voice belting out beautiful little tunes. Spritely guitar and weaving McCartney-bass fills them out with a fireplace flicker, warm blankets wrapping up each and every tune on The Droning of an Insect Wing – one to keep you warm this February when the wind whistles and whips by, and the sun still barely seems to creep above the skyline, music lit by moonlight. A comfort-pop band, doing exactly the kind of comfort-pop record you’ve been searching for. Maybe a 1/4-folk and the rest heart-racing/warming indie — cascading guitar arpeggios drizzle like rain, the voice mirroring with its lyrics and the drums trotting along for the ride in sometimes pop, sometimes quasi-marches. Obvious effort put into this music, composition and performance alike, although the thing has the disposition of pure breeze and ease (which is totally unfair and I hate them). Well… at least it’s easy to listen to, so we have that going for us. One of the smoother downs I had the chance to down (again and again) in 2013.

Links: Chairs - Kinnta

Vertonen

Fait a La Machine / Machines Domestiques

[12-inch pic disc / CD-R; CIP / Ratskin]

It’s so common to read salvos from underground weirdos that extoll the virtues of: “I listen to everything! I’ll be walking by a paint-shaker and I’ll be like, ‘Damn huh-huh, that’d make a great album huh-huh!’ ” And while occasionally the found-sound folks are correct in their zeal, they often end up championing audio that’s flat, flabby, and incoherent. Anyone can find an object/structure/outgrowth/insect/industrial machine/vibrator/German porno/forest and record it; what impresses me, to the fucking bone, is the folks that can present a concept that’s just as fun to listen to as it is to plot/record/describe/discuss/fantasize about/write up a one-sheet for/masturbate to. Vertonen is one of the fellows who, nigh on 20 years now, rides a fine line and refrains from splashy overtures. He never cuts off your ear to spite your aural senses no matter how clattery and clangy his compositions get. His sense of flow and movement is singular, his fluid constructions conjuring all manner of images and sounds you didn’t know you didn’t want to hear alone in the dark. He challenges you locked-groove style, yet getting up to correct it is part of the process, and no one ever said it was going to be easy. Panicsville, Einstürzende Neubauten, Japanese noise, and a gaggle of trains that run all night and eventually crash into your room, making stumps of your furry little legs. Fuck you.

Links: CIP / Ratskin
  

In this ever-expanding musical world, there's a wealth of 7-inches, cassettes, CD-Rs, and objet d'art being released that, due to their limited quantities and adventurous sonics, go unnoticed by the public at large. Cerberus seeks to document the aesthetic of these home recorders and backyard labels. Email us here.