Social Junk

Renewal

[12-inch; sPLeeNCoFFin]

I’m always amazed when some of these cassette-only labels manage to move themselves into the terrifying world of vinyl. But then, of course, these labels never fail to pull through with absolutely worthwhile efforts. At least… worthwhile to them. And to me, the reviewer of said efforts. And maybe you? Well, if you’re a fan of the veteran weirdo-troupe Social Junk, this one should be a no-brainer, since it’s a beautiful wax reproduction of a cassette tape previously issued by the label Human Conduct. But for the rest of you (and by “the rest of you” I mean, “us,” since I had not heard of Social Junk before Tim Wisniewski popped this one into cardboard and shipped ‘er right to my doorstep), prepare yourself for… some weirdness. In all seriousness, Social Junk isn’t for everyone. It’s the kind of music Dracula might put on when trying to get to sleep maybe, but more macabre than even that. Super spare and sparse arranging of generally synth and percussion elements, softly positioned into expansive formless masses of composition, everything in a decidedly minor and morose mode with crawling melodies and electronic swoops whizzing by. Two-note chromatic melodies pervade a lá Jaws to give the album a suffocating blanket of tension, but this is one animal that never strikes: Social Junk creeps ever-toward you while keeping it tight, close. And it’s all the creepier for it, slithering as a snake through a dank, torch-lit sewer of sound. While a title like “Renewal” beckons for something upbeat and uplifting, you certainly won’t find any of that crap here. Instead you’ll descend into the menacing, malevolent presence that is Social Junk.

Links: sPLeeNCoFFin

Papillon

Papillon

[LP; Discrepant]

I have what you might call warm and/or fuzzy relations with a lot of labels out there because I’m not only a Cerberus club employee; I’m also a client! But here’s the thing: Finding an imprint like Discrepant is such a thrill not because you know what to expect aesthetically or artistically, though I’d argue there’s a thread or two, but because quality is considered a right, not a privilege. Considering how keen I’ve been to absorb his label’s oeuvre, that Gonçalo F Cardoso’s debut as Papillon moves me is no surprise, as he is aided by old hands like Cédric Stevens (who digitally treats modular synths on this one). That it genuinely surpasses my lofty expectations is a flat-out shock. What I truly treasure is his lack of reverence for the time-honored customs of outsider electronic music. We’re talking drum solos, long ones, hives of bees devolving into piles of chunked-up corpses, and found-sound town squares invaded by static rumbles; we’re talking the complete breakdown of the post-Warp world, on vinyl. You can feel its columns begin to crumble on “La Cavale Des Chinois.” Then, “Petite Viande” the earth starts quaking; you’re in the storeroom looking for supplies but your special-made shelves are shaking and decades-old cans of tomato sauce are making indents on your skull. JUST GET OUT, MAN! “Le Chemin De La Pourriturre” helps you do just that, but you can hear the distant shooting still. You tune in to the local radio broadcasts and are greeted by descriptions of carnage you can’t imagine to be true. You walk up to your window, unfog the glass, look through, and ______…

Links: Discrepant

Bill Baird

Diamond Eyepatch

[CS; Moon Glyph]

I’d like to teach the world to sing or some form of positivity that will be viewed cynically in our fast-paced megalomaniacal society where one’s social media triumph is also their disaster. But this is not the world of Bill Baird, who blissfully ignorant of trend and tradition, stands still in that perfect flower child moment of advertising genius – without the popular soft drink and in its place genuine awe at the world of sun, trees, hippies and sentimentality. I don’t know if “Trapped in Paradise” is some psychedelic pastiche of this idealism or just me projecting all of this on the asymmetrical pop of Diamond Eyepatch but allow me this mistake if only to live in a fantasy where we’re all holding hands in a circle in an effort to stop the asteroid of division from striking us where we stand. I do know the 9-minute triptych that anchors the geodesic wander of this cassette will ward off the galactic Armageddon for awhile longer as we stand inside our Don Draper dream, oblivious to the bucolic nightmare that awaits once it hits in 1994. And in a flash, Baird will disappear and this future joy we’re having circa the past will go with it. But at least he taught the world to sing in imperfect harmony before saying goodbye to our broken planet. Now brought to you by Coke and consumerism.

Links: Bill Baird - Moon Glyph

Pick-up

Departure

[CS; Ultramarine]

One of the best tapes of 2013, by a mile, just plopped itself into my lap and I’ll be damned if I’m going to skip it because it came out a few measly months ago. Ultramarine is a label many of you know and trust, and while the metal-scraping extremity of many of its releases could be considered an acquired taste, Pick-up’s Departure never settles down and rarely ventures into pain-as-pleasure territory. I remember hearing some of these sounds when I used to mess around with Audacity a lot; plenty of filtering and haphazard looping afoot. There’s a mystical element at work on Side B that slides into the deepest substance of your soul, and as it snakes through the grass it’s easy to get lost. In a good way. That’s some damn-fine choppin’, son! Then the damn breaks, the salvia kicks in and we’re gliding down a waterslide in a flourescent tube, drifting in and out of consciousness. When you awake, a lone stringsman is serenading you. Then it’s over. Flip that shizz, my man.

Links: Ultramarine

CoJA

Circus Bukkake

[CS; Unit Structure Sound Recordings]

All right, so you have a serious question to ask yourself, and that is this: “Am I really reading about and considering listening to an album called Circus Bukkake?” If the answer is yes, then read on: This is one crazy, crazy, crazy cassette tape. A trio of Canadian dudes that feel like they are collectively sprinting – while at the same time spinning themselves around in circles – in a high-speed blender – to nowhere in particular. Guitars? Drums? Keyboards? Saxophones? *scratches noggin. Every sentence I write from here on out might have to end with a question mark? Grasping. I am grasping for straws to figure out how and why, but lo: It is there, it does exist, and actually, for the utter catastrophe that it is, it’s also pretty fun. If you don’t mind a tape belching and screaming obscenities at you on a regular basis and can get past the fact that absolutely nothing about this band makes any kind of sense… then and only then will something like Circus Bukkake be worth your time. I can tell you with a degree of certainty that it was worth my time, if only to open the J-Card and read some of the song titles. I’ll leave you with a couple to give you an idea:

“Lick My Toad”
“Touch My Sludge”
“In the Wrong Hole”
“Ejaculation Snuggle”

If you’re still here reading this… thanks, I guess. Have fun!

Links: Unit Structure Sound Recordings

Sam Shalabi

Mindlessness

[2xCS; Los Discos Enfantasmes]

If you’ve been loving those Discrepant found-sounders (Gonzo/Lowdjo/Kink Gong) and Daniel Padden over the last few years Sam Shalabi’s Mindlessness double-tape is going to boil your bunny. But don’t take my word for it; read up on Shalabi a bit. He’s crusaded with Silver Mt. Zion and moonlighted as Shalabi Effect, but here we have him all to ourselves. This is one of the functions of the tape community, offering light to work that needs room to stretch and unfurl its complex intentions fully. I wish I could just sit down with you (yes, reader; you) over tea and explain this, but since there’s not enough time for that I’ll have to deliver it to you in shorthand. Based mostly on vocal and instrumental samples, Mindlessness seeks to draw the listener in while encircling the ranks; before you know it you’re surrounded by string squeals and pick-chipping, and there’s that voice, that eternal voice, reporting to us on lord knows what. It’s like Haves & Thirds if you replaced their beats with stand-up bass and a ghost orchestra. Oh, did I mention that’s only Side A of the first tape? Yeah, that’s probably the tamest audio you’ll find wherein; a simple flip of the cassette and you’ll wonder if you’re stumbling into a game of peppermint percussion, mid-conversation mind-porno. Then a voice sample starts talkin’ ‘bout September 11 and Jerusalem and Muslims and… Don’t ask, just find a way to listen, OK?

Links: Sam Shalabi - Los Discos Enfantasmes

Honey Radar

A Ballerina in Focus

[7-inch; Third Uncle]

My love of Jason Henn’s Honey Radar spills into 2014. Though promises of a hiatus makes me nervous, I can be assuaged by this super limited lathe (which you can still buy – seriously, have you not poured over these glowing praises). A rough and tumble way to debut a promised last romp in the sheets; piss stains and empty beer bottles littering our pleasure-dome but this is the life of a groupie. You take the skid marks with the rocket fueled 4 minutes of sloshed ecstasy. But Honey Radar are attentive lovers, even in their haggard state. A woozy blend of broken folk tricks and renegade rubbings of the muff. As a mere foreplay teaser, it’s a damn good tip to get in the ol’ midge. Break yourself off one of these lathes before the roll of 20 is spent on other groupies in disparate watering holes. Take to Tinder and make the hook-up. Any pregnancy caused by A Ballerina in Focus is accidental and Honey Radar cannot be held responsible for pushing their seed in your bush for life.

Links: Honey Radar - Third Uncle

Restaurnaut

When the Hue was More

[CS; Stagnant Fjord / Kerchow]

I really like the name “Restaurnaut” and I think we can all relate to Nick Dolezal’s brief definition on his Bandcamp, “One who very commonly eats out, and is recognized easily by waitstaff.” Not only is Dolezal certainly one of these restaurnaut characters, but while at a restaurant, there’s a good chance he’s also playing a show. His music is playful and simple, but most importantly portable - ukelele strums, glockenspiel plunks, kiddie-Casio key strokes, flutes toots, and small cymbals make up the core pallet of sounds, all of it contributing to the miniature, hand-held feel of the tape. And then that voice… yeah, he gets almost a tad obnoxious on this one in spots, but it’s all a part of the act: This weird Restaurnaut dude is screaming at me and my steaming bowl of matzoh ball soup. Why not? Dolezal is obviously a fun-loving kind of dude (check the end of either side of the tape with a pre-recorded “thank you” message and instructions to fast-forward to the end and flip the tape over… no no, Restaurnaut, thank you), but that doesn’t stop him from throwing bits of endearing drama in there - “Registered Vampire” is a certified creep-fest, and it follows a really focused no-input noise affair that’s no joke either. But on the whole, Dolezal is at his best doing what he did on last year’s Black Crow Marathon, singing those lovely, lively little tunes with little frill or fuss, and sounding like he’s having a blast while doing it.

Links: Restaurnaut - Stagnant Fjord / Kerchow

Loci

Into Blindness

[CS; Haute Magie]

There’s no denying the power of Into Blindness, and furthermore, there’s no denying that it’s tough to figure out exactly what Loci are trying to… do. Which is the best part. A futuristic form of blackened drone doesn’t seem out of the question, but what about those random rhythms? What about that feeling of propulsion? The ambiance is disturbed too often, the cloak of distortion mitigated by lazers, approaching helicopters, what sounds like hell’s accordion, and that sweet TV static we all noticed for the first time via Poltergeist. My best guess would be audio collage, if that’s a ‘thing,’ abetted by a tasteful penchant for noise of the Nihilist variety and keys that slap softly like a graceful shuffling of cards by an old-time pro. It’s impossible not to smile when you think of how much gunk they’re piling onto the beats. But I still hear them. HA!

Links: Haute Magie

Southern Femisphere

Three Questions for Integrating

[CS; Standard Issue]

At one moment co-opting riot grrrl with a few more rolls off the tongue; at others embracing the in-your-house togetherness of close knit rock and roll, Southern Femisphere continue to explore the satellites of past revolutions in the modern sphere. But unlike the stoic teacher in front of the classroom, 3Q4I embarks on a field trip to collect all the fucked up artifacts of society for public display. Inspired by poems and prose, Three Questions showcases a band on the rise and maturing with each release (going so far as to provide an alternate version of “Transgander Pt. 2” from last year’s Houses that is rawer but more apropos for the mood of the band). Unlike the roots from which Southern Femisphere’s work sprang, I don’t feel reprimanded with every shout nor shoved out of the room whenever they throw elbows in tight quarters. Exploring media, emotions, and lifestyles different from mine is what keeps me enthralled with each SF release and the intensity – not mistaken as authoritative anger – keeps me engaged. This is a band growing more complicated in idea as they continue to keep it simple with poppy melodies and hook-laden harmonies. When anything of interest has already been said, what’s the harm in revisiting it and finding what fell between the cracks? 3Q4I may be rich in history but its own course has yet to be plotted. Nab the tape and pass it on to a new generation ignorant of the old.

Links: Southern Femisphere - Standard Issue

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.