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


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


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


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

Naked Narcotics

Bliss Metallic

[CS; They Live We Sleep]

So the coolest thing about this debut Naked Narcotics tape on the insanely reliable and criminally unknown Canadian label They Live We Sleep is that the artwork is in motherfucking 3D, and the damned thing comes with 3D glasses. Fuck. Yes. The second coolest thing (but only by a hair) is the 3D music that gets pumped out of this pink-shelled pretty. Throbbing and strobing psychotropic synth jungles, a thick marsh of hot, steamy electronics underlain with some repetitive beats that feel like they’re playing your temples like bongos. The A-side has this extended jam of ecstatic sound that feels like traveling through a twisting, turning wormhole as it gradually closes in on you… which is as maddening as it is somehow totally soothing, while also being a completely terrifying psychedelic experience. Elsewhere, the NOLA-based beatsmith finds an interesting intersection between straight psych and hip hop, casting a multitude of textured tones out into a playground of different time signatures, moving accents around the measures to keep your head-nods slightly off-balance while never missing a beat. The other great thing about getting to Cerbs this bad boy up is that it offers an excuse to share another great clip from VHS-mongerer Rob Feulner (who excellently runs this excellent label as well).

Links: Naked Narcotics - They Live We Sleep

Raw McCartney

Introducing: Raw McCartney

[CS; Tripp Tapes]

Like the tail of a turd caught at the rim of your asshole, the sushi sounds of the uncooked, but hardly vegan Raw McCartney hits your New Year’s punch bowl. You’ve culled your lists, you’ve checked them twice, but it’s likely you’ll the coal-into-diamonds scat that is Introducing… will make you rethink your selective numbering system. It was late to the party and already drunk. So what? Lists were made to be flimsy and the devolution of Indiana’s “garage” rock is now worth the crash. It was only frozen sherbet and orange juice; it needed this spike. The minds behind Raw McCartney, unlike those of other verbal name plays, have taken psychedelic rock back, further than the first prehistoric rumble of dinosaur-chasing-Biblical man. This is meat from the bone, working its way through your innards at a disruptive pace. No amount of antacids can quell this grumbling belly. It echos and sways with your every bloated waddle until you find yourself crashing the bash, anus firmly planted above the fruity drink platter. And it plops and fizzes with each sweet release. Your thought your Top 25 list was done but now you’re going to have to suffer through a revised edition. Raw McCartney may be the stumble bum you’d rather not deal with in the midst of your New Year’s resolution but we all have problems bubbling up. At least this one came as soon as it did, so you can be better prepared for the scatological disaster of 2015.

Links: Tripp Tapes

Insect Ark

Long Arms

[10-inch; Geweih Ritual]

Somewhere between Earth, Vidna Obmana, ancient Beck ruins, and your favorite Spaghetti Western lay Insect Ark, suitcase full of sand, boots full of cactus quills, and head full of left-to-right-panning soul clouds. They’re not afraid to try a different tact than you’re used to, with the shiny beats and what have you, and while the approach blights the otherwise sturdy blade of the title track a tad, “Lift Off” and “Symbols,” the b-sides, resonate with power and focus. The former concerns itself with hypnotic, rhythmic bursts and a bulbous anti-chorus while the latter trails behind a loose high hat and sends guitar sighs like smoke signals to the heaven of their god, a gentle flourish of what sounds like strings bringing the song home. Dana Schechter, at the helm of Insect Ark, used to run shit with Bee And Flower. I wasn’t familiar with them, but maybe I should be. Recommended.

Links: Insect Ark

Alcohol Party / Tropical Trash


[CS; Loin Seepage]

Loin Seepage is firstly the most hilarious name for a label I’ve come across this year and secondly the most disgusting. Nonetheless, I got a nice little package from them in the mail, and aside from the tape that was wrapped up in socks, which caught my attention mostly because it was wrapped up in socks (and yes: free socks = score!), this split between Alcohol Party (whom I was unaware of previously) and Louisville’s Tropical Trash made an impression pretty quickly. I dig how the J-card is printed on plain old copy paper (I’m talking 20# BOND, yo), black and white. Mine had a little $5 price tab sticker in the corner… I dunno, everything about this tape just seems punk as fuck, and so it’s fitting that the music is straight-up no frill, bread’n’butter punk rock. TT’s side opens with “Choogle Perception” which has a really chunky, meaty groove that chugs along like Sonic Youth’s “100%” with similar effect before “Leisure Expose” attempts to rip your face off with its vicious attack and throat-shredding vocals. Solid, kick-ass. Flip it over and you’ll be treated to Alcohol Party’s math-punk acrobatics, shape-shifting song structures and mind-bending precision, which is especially impressive given the raw power of the band. Some of the drumming is truly eye-popping, twisting patterns that sound like they require more limbs than available to the human body as current evolution has yet allowed. Wow, it’s good. Great, even. This is an official endorsement: I decree this split tape on Loin Seepage to be radical and gnarly. Can you tell I’m out of things to say?

Links: Loin Seepage

Heinz Riegler


[CS; A Guide to Saints]

If you have yet to check out the blonde-headed stepchild to Room 40, meet A Guide to Saints and their cavalcade of cassettes. The beautiful plastic casings, forgoing J-cards for a simpler and more effective artistic imprint; equally eye-pleasing cassettes that harmonize or contrast their casings for powerful Gestalt idealism – it’s all very art school dropout and yet, highly functional use of materials and typography that is lost in a world of collages and dystopian drawings.

The same is true for Riegler’s SLEEP HEALTH, a careful curation of the duality of good spirits and bad distractions A-side “Health” is a twinkle of chimes and buzzards; plucks playing a clock that is ticking toward decay. Time begins a slow drip that becomes a cascade of years and failing memories. “Sleep” seems more apropos as a metaphor for death than as the act of rejuvenation. Twisted bows meet taught strings as Hades plays you across Styx. But yours is not an eternity of damnation but that of reward. We’ve all sinned, given up ourselves and our faculties to forces we choose not to control. As our health fades, our dream stasis begins. Sleep is not something to be feared, it’s something to long for over the course of decades of living to best of one’s abilities. Do not covet what your neighbor has, but cherish what you have earned. Which, for now, is this tape from Riegler that you should carry with you like your lucky charm and your I.D.

Links: Heinz Riegler - A Guide to Saints

The Rainbow Body

Free Sentient Beings

[CS; Ginjoha]

Like all the work I’ve heard from The Rainbow Body this year, Free Sentient Beings is tough to write about because it makes you want to do nothing but just sit there with your eyes rolled back all tranquil, basking in its glowing warmth. With the self-released tape I reviewed earlier this year, I got some distinct solar flare-ish impressions, but this one feels much more Earthly and terrestrial, or even oceanic, although its title might suggest something more enlightened or spiritual. Or maybe it’s really a little bit of both - we listen and become one with our surroundings, something like that, right? I am the chair I’m sitting in, or the grass between my toes, or the water swirling through my hair. Free Sentient Beings, as its sine curves curl themselves up and down through space, passes through you, Matt Kattman refiguring the guitar to exist outside the realm of the instrument’s physical construction to create something that is phenomenological, metaphysical, and a bunch of other advanced philosophy adjectives that I can’t properly explain to you. So maybe I should stop trying? Let’s do this a little more simply then: Guitar-based drone. Beautiful. Maybe my favorite cover art of the year. That should cover it.

Links: The Rainbow Body - Ginjoha

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.