[12-inch; Hot Releases]

Once or twice a year I get a huge, intimidating package from Hot Releases Recs that thrills me to no end, its contents almost always introducing me to a genre I didn’t know existed. As a conduit for bigger labels to feed from (do they get a percentage of that shit? I hope so) the imprint also seems to uncover a lot of experiments teeming with life that a lot of us wouldn’t ever hear if not for their efforts, Haves & Thirds in particular a blinding beam of light I won’t soon forget. So I have to ask, Hot Releases main man Karl Raymar, What is up with VVAQRT¹? What does the band name mean²? How do they fit into the continuum of indie music³? I could go on and on, but since this review can’t last forever (Tew bad fer yew!) I’ll attempt to answer a few of the questions I so rudely foisted upon Mr. Raymar: ¹A lot. ² The Net says ‘Vak-art.’ ³ Somewhere between Broadcast (RIP Trish Keenan), Lemon Kittens, Ashrae Fax, The Blow, and your favorite self-help computer program for expanding your sonic vocabulary; yep, I think that works…

Links: Hot Releases

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Songs of Forgiveness


There is a fog around the edges. It’s soft, dull. It stays in place no matter how fast I run. All it does it accentuate the shinning sun as it pours down beyond my peripheral. It enlarges my love as I race toward them. This is our finale; a moment caught in time that we’ve been building up to. The producers thought it was expected but the test audiences loved it. So here I am, perpetually after an imaginary emotion. I dodge the credits as best as I can, but I dare not fight this triumph of a soundtrack. It caresses me longer than my co-star. It is the reason I have grown to love this white circled vision. A moment caught in time that will play out infinitely. My legs are tired. My heart has grown darker. My love seems to be getting further away. The white is beginning to discolor. The edges are beginning to grow frayed. But this endearing music is eternally uplifting. I no longer care for my other across the screen. I would jump out of this frame if I could. Perhaps my name will fall from the cascade and put an end to my repeated run. There’s never any resolution, just the faint embrace of a soundtrack that I can only enjoy in this time of grief. I am Sisyphus but at least I have a faint spark of hope. I forgive the damned director who cast me here for eternity. It is not his fault that they won’t stop watching. Their prying eyes on a romance they never chase themselves. I forgive them as well. A moment caught in time that will be our real end.

Links: Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - BARO


Below Ground

[12-inch; Komisch]

A lot of the techno spinning out of the funnel cloud that is its recent re-emergence is of the straight-up, eyes-down, minimal variety that rides the bbbeat hard and takes few detours. If you think DeFeKT’s Below Ground fits that description, however, you’re not listening deeply enough. Take it to the next level and y’allz will find a lot to latch onto, from little splashes of effects, powerfully charged upswings in mood, clicks/clacks (for variety), nearly subliminal change-ups and washes only fellow DJs will be able to ID, counter-rhythms, and lazer beams. Not to mention the gift of absenteeism; DFKT will disappear, make you search for him. Then, he jumps out of the shadows with an apprehension-conquering beat and you just gotta rock it right off the rack if you have any blood pumping through that gangrenous membrane you call a body. More kicks for the kids, and another loft-party-in-a-bottle in the bank.

Links: DeFeKT

Bad History Month / Dust From 1000 Years

Famous Cigarettes

[CS; Exploding in Sound]

I don’t remember hearing Mason Lindhal, Elliott Smith, or Mt. Eerie the last time I listened to either Bad History Month OR Fat History Month, but it’s a welcome development that’s added a foggy sense of mystique to a sound I already was heavily invested in. Famous Cigarettes, a great-looking split with Dust From 1000 Years, connects the two young bands as they look to expand their whole “let’s forget about synths awhile” idea beyond the backyard-BBQ/indie/former-Goodwill arena. “You think you’re flying, but actually / You’re just falling in love”… That’s how BHM’s Jeff Meff starts his side before what seemed like a nice quiet evening turns into a roof cave-in, with some crashes and perhaps blood shed. It’s just a distraction, however. Soon we’re back in lone singer-songwriter territory, not wishing for the ‘old dayz’ because Meff actually is beginning to flesh his lil’ solo camper out a bit, buttressing it with percussion that comes and goes and me-thinks a few overdubs. And don’t forget the sadness. He’s definitely still feeling that. Not buckets-full, but he’s at the point in life wherein mortality is no longer a far-off abstraction but a real, to-be-dealt-with event. That’s my theory. Dust From 1000 Years, also, don’t seem too chipper. “I got a pack of smokes today / Somethin’ to do while I waste my life away” is not going to adorn a postcard anytime soon, is it? It’s like Marc Maron said: “Some people come to my show and say, ‘Hey, that guy’s funny!’ Others say, ‘I hope he’s OK.’” I kind of feel a bit like that right now, yet I know they’ll be fine because they’ve got a good band going, a place to turn to. How many of us can really say that, particularly those of us who are perhaps a few years older than these blokes? And how many bands can turn “Let’s party every day” into a morose statement? I also appreciate the little nods to Isaac Brock’s guitar playing, and the fact that both these bands are too young to have heard/heard of Duster.

Links: Exploding in Sound

Smokey Emery

Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. III

[CS; Holodeck]

For an artist now on his third installment of invisibility-influenced soundtracks, Daniel Hipolito is doing a poor job of hiding himself. But maybe I misrepresent? Perhaps it’s a misunderstanding? Likely, I just missed him. I go to give him a hug but my arms wrap right through his translucent body. I take three friends into the desert (this being the third release in this series and all). We encounter a melodic shrub and I say “farley farley farley farley a-farl” and cast out a bullet into the air. My compadre to my left chants his own magical nonsense and does the same. Our skeptical traveler doesn’t commit to the act, killing our invisible Hipolito. All that is left on his person (hard to search by discovered by the imprint left in the heavy sand) is this message. These were his cloak, the means by which his image was hidden from the sins of man. We came to him for help but alas, we did not commit to the bit. We failed to see the err of our ways before it was too late but let us hope this folly won’t unmask us all. Now that we have his secret, we must guard it as he did. We must embrace nothingness, forgo color, and hide away in these same forgotten deserts caught between dimensions and perceptions of which we are ignorant. This is our new way of life, as it was for the generation before who were also careless to guard it.

Links: Smokey Emery - Holodeck



[12-inch; Discrepant]

Albums like Malayeen’s self-titled effort have a way of re-configuring your expectations for audio going forward. You could a) Go on living your life as you are, vaguely fulfilled, or b) free yourself from the shackles of your favorite genre and learn something about yourself you didn’t know. For example: I didn’t realize I could so easily acquire a taste for Lebanese musics, much less Lebanese musics inspired by (or derived from interpretations of) Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid’s large body of work. Yet there it is, a new habit formed, a fresh affinity for hand-drums, modal guitars, and quirky keyboards developed. I’ve reviewed a lot of music from around the world for TMT, but rarely has actual World music crossed my desk, so when it does I’m always hankerin’ to tell you about it. Doubly so when it’s as exploratory as Malayeen, an album that cares not for any road that would have it as a driver, nor genre that would have it as a micro (strike my reference to ‘World music’ earlier). As much as I keep reading about Khorshid’s influence on this project, my ear instantly wraps around the synths for some reason. They’re hypnotic and swirly, like a zebra-striped Abba Zabba spinning taffy laps around the globe. Once again: Pleasure doing business with you, Discrepant.

Links: Discrepant

Wild Island

Be Kind

[CS; DoubleDotDash]

DoubleDotDash might be the most wildly inconsistent, content-wise, cassette label out there, but it also might be the most consistently rewarding. The label that brought you that INSANE Blackhoods tape as well as worthwhile releases from Workin Man Noise Unit and Personnel shifts gears yet again to bring you Wild Island’s Be Kind, an Amen Dunes-ish exodus into solo-songwriter territory that makes more sense emanating from a cave than the speakers of a record room. The fidelity of this release is perfect for the tape medium, as it hisses a bit, and sounds like the wind is blowing throughout, yet all the little accents Knight tosses in get fully fleshed out. These are songs you can reminisce to, or sit by a creek and space-out to on headphones, or watch the drifting clouds to, or fall in love to; it all makes sense as Knight constantly offers the listener fresh reasons to spelunk further down his hollow hole. The flip even provides some blurry, heavier instrumentals if you’re looking for something a little more electric (Remember, I said IF: I actually prefer the mellower material.), not to mention a hulking bed of noise we heard less of on Side A. All in a days work for Knight and, by extension, DDD.

Links: DoubleDotDash

Body Lvl/Hobo Cubes


[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

Impatience is not a virtue. I struggle with it daily, though I would like to think (PERSONAL INFORMATION COMING UP TURN AWAY~!) that being a father has made me impervious to impatience aside from driving (WHY WON’T YOU TURN!? THE LIGHT IS GREEN!). But where do I turn when I need to practice patience and to earn a justly reward when I succeed in the exercise? How about this lovely split between Body Lvl and Hobo Cubes. Having the ability to focus has long been a crux in enjoying drone but Body Lvl’s A-side sonata took me to a zen state of sheer waiting. It’s nearly 10 minutes in before the shell is cracked and persistence is truly rewarded. It’s nearly 8 minutes before Hobo Cubes’ B-side breaks out. Of course, that’s cheating. If you’re only waiting for something to happen (TURN GODDAMMIT!) then you miss the real beauty: the alone time with your thoughts and its soundtrack. A-ha! If you’re meditating on a good drone just to reach the climax, you miss the journey to said climax. At this point this mantra could turn in a completely different direction so before it goes tantric, let’s remember that patience is key to understanding. But if you’re just practicing it and not living it, you’re going to miss a lot of life’s details by focusing on an end than how you get there.

Now if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to go look into that tangent I nearly fell upon. So if you don’t mind I’ll be taking this tape and the deck and, well see in a few hours. Trudy!?

Links: Adhesive Sounds

Wckr Spgt

Top Down

[CS; Unread]

A treat to have longtime forgotten above ground independent non-punk anti-college rock band Wckr Spgt hit the funny pages. A band with a history as long as Milton Berle’s film reel, Wckr Spgt unveil a quick five song EP to sedate the masses revved up on Robin Thicke and Daft Punk singles (it’s still the Summer of 2013 for me!). It’s the sort of Sentridoh, Ass Ponys, and any relative slow-motion pre-alternatively named movement of slacker rock that isn’t oh-so-lazy as it seems. Highlight is “Damn it, You’re Holding Me Back” which is a half-assed assault thrust upon an unnamed subject with which we’re all too familiar. “Clones” is an Alice Cooper cover that certainly seems more at home in a time capsule now than it did in 1980. Funny how that works….

…anyway, yeah. I forgot where all this was going. I feel like Wckr Spgt’s eh attitude has translated to my own lack of motivation or is that the Generation X DNA bubbling up in me. Apathy fits us all so well, but don’t allow it to make you miss Top Down.

Links: Wckr Spgt - Unread

Suffering Luna with The Astronaut King / Suffer The Storm


[12-inch; King of the Monsters]

On a split 12-inch in which both bands have ‘suffer’ in their names, well, it stands to reason there would be quite a bit of brutal bashing involved. But no one could have expected the spiritual sludge of Suffer The Storm’s “Squalor,” a 22-minute blood oath comprising several of my favorite things (though no raindrops on roses): doom metal, death, dismemberment, and Bukowski. I’m not sure how but STS might even have one-upped the thickness of Whitehorse on this one, squeezing all traces of light from the composition and wickedly stretching the twisted tension out. In a doom-saturated metal market Suffer The Storm represent the most tortured strains of the art form, crusted over by scabs and settled lava. Suffering Luna with Astronaut King don’t drop the ball as much as they fail to meet the standard of heaviness set by “Squalor.” But don’t worry, you won’t be bored. SL shared a split with Dystopia back in the day (which is HUGE) and tote a distinct, noise-influenced sound in their gig bags. You get the crunchy guitars (and even a few solos), doses of double-bass, and shouting you might expect from a Crowbar recording, but on top of all that chaos is a psychedelic alien pod that hovers long after the other elements have faded. It’s surprising to me that more bands don’t take a stab at this strategy, as it renders what might have been standard metal more of a mystical bent. Several color variants of the vinyl version of this split complete the package; have you ever enjoyed suffering quite so much?

Links: King of the Monsters


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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.