Blood Bright Star

The Silver Head

[12-inch; King of the Monsters]

Blood Bright Star’s The Silver Head isn’t the sort of fare you’re used to hearing about in this column, but I hope you’ll keep reading because I feel it’s a worthy diversion for both Cerberus and the mighty King of the Monsters label. I also thought of that Lycia record on Handmade Birds and the way it stands out from its labelmates so completely it almost lends new life to the contents therein. But enough of the ‘set-up’; exactly what are we talkin’ about here? Shit; I wish I knew! It’s like the singer(s) from German Army started a minimalist post-shoegaze act with members of… Astral, or maybe Continental, that old post-rock band from California. If that doesn’t work for you, I’m not sure what I can offer because Blood Bright Star’s take on rock is as oblique and smoky as the gray/clear vinyl The Silver is pressed on. There’s a definite appeal to repetition and and way it can program your brain if the segment being duplicated is tasty enough, and more than anything I’m guessing fan’s of Dylan Carlson’s Earth will get a dose of silver and ask for MORE, bloody MOOOOORE. The excitement of this record is that no matter where you’re at on the spectrum — rock, metal, punk, etc. — you’ll likely find something you dig, particularly if you harbor a soft spot for long, meandering instrumentals (though vox do crop up often) that build up with the patience and knowing of a hibernating Buddha. Another score for KoTM and you, pal o’ mine.

Links: Blood Bright Star - King of the Monsters

The Pen Test


[7-inch; Moniker]

Damn, woke up late. No time to change, pajamas will have to suffice. If I run I can make the exam. It’s brisk out. Better open up Biology and do one last quick cram. Avoid the traffic, don’t give the hot co-ed a second look. Okay, maybe a second look. I wish every textbook had a cover as entrancing as Biology. So simple, so pretty. Maybe it’s why it was framed above my desk rather than opened. But I’m glad this rush has finally made me break it open. It’s an exquisite design of human body and motor skills. The electronic pulses match my heart rate as I race to class. The whirring synth mimics the hum of engines at the intersections. It’s as if this is conforming to my every action. Alright, made it to the door with a few minutes to spare. Forgot my pencil but I see this is a Pen Test, so I’m always prepared. The answers are filling in by themselves. I got this. Biology isn’t just course of study, it’s a way of life. Turns out I never left bed. My mind, not my feet, was racing. Through this, I can master all. I am evolved and Biology is no textbook but a life-giving obelisk that I bow to every morning.

Links: Moniker

Tashi Dorji & Frank Meadows

Number Six is Sacred

[CS; Cabin Floor Esoterica]

I began unwrapping my beautifully diagrammed cardboard package. Inside lay a singular cassette tape, information concerning its contents, and a rusty screw. Having no idea how to play this mysterious artifact but noticing the slight grooves in two eye holes, I inserted the screw and began cranking the tape. It was 45 minutes before I realized that I myself was making a racket, not the tape. So I default to my inexpensively made South Korean tape player and gave it the ol’ fashioned try. To my amazement, the sounds I was making earlier were now being transmitted forth from Dorji’s sporadic guitar din, only mellowed by Meadow’s jazzy bass. (I hesitate to say jazzy because a stand up bass providing rhythm to dissonant guitar can do more and I know this, but what else to call something that grooves so well and can handle improvisational fits?). Dorji’s best when he finds some plucky rhythm of his own, re-imagining the guitar as some foreign form of percussion instrument; Meadows is equally adapt at turning his rhythmic bass into a lead instrument, paving the way toward a new sound idea. Both compliment each other well, transitioning into the necessary role to create artistic bawls. Dorji is a rising star and Number Six is Sacred is further proof of his gift, but please take Frank Meadows with as you ascend to the Olympus. The screw has since been used to affix the walkman permanently shut.

Links: Cabin Floor Esoterica

German Army

Jivaro Witnesses

[LP; Burka for Everybody]

As Ben Stiller once said: Here we go again; again… German Army invades my record room and it’s NOT OK. Never. So what is Jivaro Witnesses all about? Well, I’m not completely sure, but there are a lot of sexual references being bandied about. With song titles like “Harem Diseases,” “Bondage,” and “Sexual Cycle of Human Norms,” I guess that was obvious, but you’d be surprised at how adept this duo is at taking carnal thoughts and making music out of them. Just keep in mind that GA are having seedier sex than you or I are probably having. “Sexual Cycle of Human Forms” is like foreplay, a deep, foreboding voice whispering sweet nothings into your ear while synths swirl and sway. “Bondage” contains a click track that to the right pair of ears can sound like a whip hitting a submissive’s skin, and that deep voice is still there, soothing yet representing unmitigated evil. These two cuts are shorter and less involved; they’re enough to get you a little heated up, but if you want the full effect start venturing into “Six Leg Counterpart,” which contains all the comfort-food elements we’ve come to expect from German Army here at Cerberus, and “Household,” a quirky offering that blends more of those pitched-down vocals with icy, mechanical beats and coldwave keyboards. “Survey of Uses” is by far the sickest grope on file, featuring operatic female singers and a corroded conscience. Averaging about a half-dozen releases a year, German Army keep advancing, and conquering, and there’s nothing the Allies can do about it, thank Christ.

Links: Burka for Everybody

Public Housing

Public Housing

[LP; Torn Light]

The Jo(h)n’s of Wasteland Jazz Unit “pick up guitars” but don’t leave behind the wasted lands of yore. Public Housing, the duo of Lorenz and Rich, deliver 34 minutes of disgusting skronk wherein you wonder how proficient they are with their instruments. But the press release name checks Dead C, and Bruce Russell never practices either and we’re all groupies on his knob, no? So what separates Cincinnati from Dunedin aside from many miles of crust and sea? This won’t go so far as the anti-music of those NZL boy toys but damned if this won’t destroy ol’ Mts. Airy and Healthy. Maybe it’ll hit US 27 and scare Oxford into repopulating WOXY with its old spirit via young punks? Let it get drunk with all the Miami kids and stumble up to Germantown and piss on Old Man Pollard’s yard. Kim Deal will let it crash on the couch. These noisy rebels, from a time and place wholly disconnected from its palatial U.S. Midwestern/NZL East Coast identity crisis. If they’re too careful, they may just end up in the same dire straits as their name implies, and THEN what would they truly sound like?

Links: Torn Light

ARU/Underwater Escape from the Black Hole


[CS; 5CM]

I’ve been in fights. There was a time when I went looking for them. Not any sort of hooliganism, mind you – just the pure, I-need-to-outwit-a-frat-hero sort of drunken stupor that happens when one too many people think you’re an easy target. I’ve taken my wallops but I also win most of the time. I was a beast of adrenaline. I knew how to choke someone out. I knew how to use their strength against them until they tired and gave up before being made a complete fool of. That’s the feeling of ARU: 21 minutes of a back and forth spar with both coming out with welts and scars. It’s a black and blue kinship that you can only experience by taking the punches to the gut, throat, and ears. Underwater Escape from the Black Hole is that nervous aftermath. Senses are buzzing, the pain has yet to settle, and you’re sharp to what’s happening around you. The world is in slow motion and for a brief moment you can see all the little details you miss even as large gaps of what just happen are slowly erased from memory. Fighting is a drug unto itself. It feeds a different desire, but it doesn’t last forever. Soon, a smashed nose and bloody lip grows tiring. There’s nothing left to prove, but should you find your honor at stake, ARU and UEFTBH have you covered.

Links: 5CM

Christian Lisco

Thoughts EP

[12-inch; Komisch]

Komisch keeps a low profile, releasing jacket-less 12-inches of what a less-creative critic would call mutant dance music (Luckily you’ve got me! I’ll call it: mutated dance music!). Christian Lisco’s debut 12-inch is one of two the choosy label has released this year and, much like the DeFeKT release (also Cerb’d before you knew what hit you), Thoughts does so much more than merely build dance momentum (though as a matter of course it also does just that), often causing elements to collide together even if their rhythms don’t quite seem to sync up. Yet they do, when it counts. Things might jump out of meter, but it’s a ruse, perpetrated by Lisco in order to push back against the conventions of relatively minimalist techno. You might even call this thinking man’s dance music, as there’s something oddly logical about how each cut comes together, evoking less a visceral response than a chin-stroking “hmmmmm” moment. Even “007,” with its bouncy bass bumps, isn’t fever-inducing as much as it is mind-blowing. Which is just fine, I’m sure y’all will agree.

Links: Komisch

Rosen & Spyddet

Springet Som Symbol

[CS; Posh Isolation]

Springet Som Symbol is an oddly rejuvenating little cassette. Not in the way a hot bath sluices away a day’s problems or finally taking off your shoes and throwing them across the room after doing the five-day-drag suddenly peels the bleariness from your eyes. More in-line with how the first drag on a cigarette and first mouthful of coffee evens you out after a night of abusing your body. That darkening of teeth, lungs and connecting flesh turns the contrast up; adjusting the picture on what was previously a dim world of wincing and muttered curses. The 15 odd minutes of music here do just that; bright synth and rhythm dragging itself towards clarity. Which is wholly unexpected; serif typewriter fonts over a monochrome collage of naked bodies tends to scream “noise tape ahead, gird thine ears!” But there is none of that here. This is not music that will abuse your tympanic membrane, or move your legs or spice up your party. But deploy it while sitting on a porch, in the early morning sun, dragging nicotine into your lungs and sipping, with appropriate trepidation, a cup of cheap coffee that is still a little to hot, and it fits.

Links: Posh Isolation

Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt

Live at Various

[CS; Palilalia]

Corsano has always been to the point, not rhythmically but mechanically. The same is true for Orcutt. Both treating their respective instruments as rote pieces of communication. Though there is always a beauty in how they reach out to audiences, there’s a metallic sting when a particular snare hit or awkward note unveils a truth into our own psyche. Together, they provide a near Jungian revelation as the duo tear through machine gun psychoanalysis via Montreal, Cleveland, and Rochester. Usually Corsano has played receptionist to the whims of frequent in-office collaborators but more than not, he’s just as tactile and forward as Orcutt. The twosome sit you on a thorny couch and proceed to turn your fears from unbiased to obsessive. It’s an unromantic process, complete with a Rorschach that makes you see Corgan and Love in bliss. At least that’s what I’m seeing, and it is upsetting me with its plainspeak. And then I began hearing pop bubble up through their double entendre and maybe I’m falling in love with what I despise. Maybe I AM what I despise!? It sinks in, the barbs and the jolts and the deconstruction of ego until all I hear is the id assault. Corsano and Orcutt: The Doctors will see you now.

Links: Palilalia


Big Table No People

[CS; New Village Tapes]

Arab on Radar and Fat Worm of Error eloped to Columbus (OH). They had a baby (allegedly pregnant with its own baby), which was adopted and nourished on the teat of New Village Tapes. They named their baby after their favorite Comedy Central program or the first memorable name from some forgotten play. Stella was an only child and felt the angst of adoption, but it grew up in a loving home that encouraged such fits. That rage soon became concentrated on music, as if the offspring was attracted to the loud and asinine by default. That asymmetrical DNA finally gave birth once more to Big Table No People, a quick wallop of all that good-riddance feistiness that was long trapped inside the child. New Village, being caring parents, has captured it all on cassette and delivered it to the world. Stella has no plans to meet their parents, crazily chanting “I-71 Forever” and “Go Away” to any transgressor toward their Ohio home. Bless their little expecting hearts.

Links: Stella - New Village Tapes

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.