Japanese Treats

*E 468

[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

Japanese Treats: one’s mind races at the possibilities? Did it come from a vending machine like this beer and eel-flavored Kit-Kat I’m holding? Maybe Skoshbox will arrive at my door and to my delight I will try candies Westerners dare not imagine but lo and behold are better than our normal, drudge-filled sundries. Or perhaps it’s delivered from a Toronto label in cassette size? This fun bit of Japanese Treats is the moniker of Ben Crossman who cunningly transforms the oddities of Japan into miniature songs of cute strangeness that only reinforces our love of a culture and society we only know from bizarre imports and Kotaku. It’s the same lights and buzzers and sugar highs and costumed teens that make us all wish we were that free and….dammit, cute (gotta hit the quota of cute in this run-on)! Bottom line, you want this. It may not take you into a headfirst dive of Tokyo or Kyoto zaniness, it will deliver on its promise of being a treat not born of North American palates.

Links: Adhesive Sounds



[CS; Stupro Rituale]

A lot of cauldron-black outfits have been dousing their black metal with noise or vice-versa, but few come out and proclaim it with as much reverence as Krueleco, and I respect that (I’m guessing they’ll take their lumps elsewhere, and that’s not my problem). So just what does a seamless marriage of BM and nnnoize sound like? Hell, I’m not sure because this ain’t a combo platter as much as it is a simmering noise record bolstered by random live drums and a darkened core (until halfway through Side B, when a monstrous blast kicks up the drama for a spell). That’s my take; sorry if it stings like the cold steel of yr dad’s work boot. It’s a workmanlike effort that scrapes resin from several sides of the experimental stem, retaining a harsh edge that relents only to allow gunfire and lazer sequences proper passage. The Rita, Sujo, Blue Sabbath Black Cheer, Burning Star Core, and Jazkammer would appear in the lineup if you were trying to formally identify Krueleco, and other harsh wizards should and will be suspected, but from track to track it’s anyone’s guess as to what segment of the indie community will be offended next. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in seeing where this whole K-co thing is going, so ramble on, death dealers.

Links: Krueleco

Matthew Dotson


[CS; Already Dead Tapes]

It seems like it’s been a decade since I first looked at the music of Matthew Dotson for the Cerberus section of Tiny Mix Tapes. In fact, the amount of time that has passed is really only about a year, but to Dotson that might as well be a light year – what a turn-over/around/under for this now-LA based musician. The Dotson-isms I came to know and love from his self-released Excavation cassette are still recognizable here, but he’s thrust his shape-shifting rhythms, elegant explorations of the stereo field, flirtations with tonality-intonalities and breakneck editing into the world of the Vapor – a new set of audio-pigments with which Dotson paints swift strokes on his own unique canvas. Neon beats bubble up to the surface from under washes of ambient synths and time-warped pop samples, only to be cut up with hyperactive hand claps and sliced with shards of white noise. Intermittent sections of soft, twinkling piano melodies drift by like a cloud. Tempos glide from gobs of slow-mo bass to swift, galloping trots only to dissolve and melt themselves back into beatific balladry. To be short about it, nothing makes much sense although at the same time it all coalesces like magic, a mix concocted by Merlin himself. The rules and regulations of the regular are here, but pushed to their limits, Dotson bursting through musical shackles in exciting new ways that will prick the circuitry of your brain with little electric shocks of intrigue. And a lot of it is also downright beautiful. Miles ahead of his contemporaries (if there are such things), and maybe even miles ahead of his own damn self… Here’s hoping Dotson doesn’t end up running his work off the side of a cliff, only to fall into a pit of oblivion. This is just manageable – barely and perfectly so.

Links: Matthew Dotson - Already Dead Tapes


My Horse

[CS; Self-Released]

Rap as deconstructed art study. Maybe that’s reading too much into Hunter Johnson and his 30 song opus as MC NASDAQ but it’s hard to ignore the juvenile Adam Sandler devolution inherent within My Horse. Simple beats. Silly internal dialogue. Inside jokes. Making fun of yourself while also propping up the projected image therein. It’s why MC NASDAQ is perfect in this moment residing between the over-the-top white adoption of ghetto farce (Riff Raff, Mac Miller, Asher Roth) and the pseudo-serious shift in a genre flooded with major label cash (Jay-Z and 50 Cent as entrepreneurial moguls with a sideline gig as emcees). My Horse is an odd display of wealth and fame the last 20 years of hip-hop has held on the mountaintop coupled with a subtle humor about those skewed values. Truth is MC NASDAQ holds his love of hip-hop near and dear and that’s what makes this all the more difficult to place. It’s hard to ignore the free-for-fall sledgehammer My Horse takes to a genre still struggling to wrap its arms around the likes of Kitty and Danny Brown for producing witty prose that is expose of real life as it stands in 2014 for most of us. There will always be the suppressed with their own voices and viewpoints that aren’t up for satire or marginalization and that’s what My Horse avoids.

In truth, MC NASDAQ is likely a bored but bright suburban kid in the mold of Ariel Pink or Druken Weazil playing boombox to his own experience without the need to dissect the motives. And in that case, throw this tape in, throw the driver seat as far back as it goes, crank the bass and shout out the window: “I’m a really nice dude in real life.”




[LP; Milvia Son]

I read somewhere or other that indie is dead, a statement which, as popular as it is to refer to musical genres as ‘dead,’ strikes me as an almost astronomical overstatement. If you want to know where the pulse is for people who purchase records with money and attend live concerts (as opposed to digging deep on the internet and never spending a penny), look no further than the garage scene, care of labels like Castle Face, In the Red, Goner, and Slovenly, which serve as a farm-league presence for upper-indie labels like Drag City to pluck their rosters from. That seems to be where a lot of the energy is in the underground, and while it’s not precisely where my head is at these days, I’m glad the magic is alive no matter where it’s coming from. Enter the Milvia Son label, an outfit seemingly bent on extracting the slightly skewed derivations of the genre for those of us who wouldn’t know where to look for it, and you have a pretty important wild-card presence. Birthed on cassette in 1988, O-Type’s Darling is what you might call, special. It doesn’t need the same things most rock records need. It craves extra attention even when you don’t have it to give. It seems to have a speech impediment. And if you’re looking for an unblinking take on absurdist lo-fi rock, it will stay with you like a bad memory. Only apply if you’ve had the following experiences: passing out to Ed Schrader fronting Live Skull; waking up with a Feeding Tube attached; accompanying 39 Clocks to a Random Victim concert; or pressing the flesh with The Rebel, US Maple, and Rapider Than Horsepower before they were born. Shit, is that enough? More than; thanks for playing.

Links: Milvia Son

Girls in Love


[CS; Coeur d'Alene]

The murkier the better. That’s the ethos behind Girls in Love, whose 4-song cassette Tomatoes sounds as if it were recorded down the shaft of a glass bowl covered in a Downy dryer sheet. How else to explain the equal attention to sappy pop melodies (“Before, Again”) and stoner classic jams (“I Feel Blue”) as imagined by Times New Viking? It’s an endearing mix of gumption and can-do attitude even if mixed up in a rolling fog. They only managed to crank out 50 of these cardboard sleeves, with the tracklist etched hard-way into the cassette shell. Motivation lasts only so long – oddly the length of these four songs. Now I’m stuck on the couch in the middle of a review with no…..

Links: Coeur d'Alene

Yves Malone

Three Movies

[3xCS; Field Hymns]

The triple-tape is both a rare beast and a welcome treat for a cassette-hungry reviewer like myself, but it’s also just the perfect way for composer Yves Malone to have gotten this work out to the masses – “Three Movies,” acts like a set of three different soundtracks to imaginary films, and even though the specific characters and plots from each aren’t totally clear, Malone still succeeds in painting vivid imagery with the limited set of synthetic textures utilized across the piece. We get the setting at the very least – the GTA style artwork gives a sense for an urban environment with a deeply-seeded noir attitude, only located somewhere in the tropics… I’m thinking Law & Order but with blood-orange sunsets falling slowly behind the palm trees. Is this what Miami Vice looks/sounds like? I have no idea, but if it does I’m going to start watching that show immediately. The music follows suit with a classic ’80s/neon-fried texture zapping just about every note you hear. It’s an appropriate sound for the chilly melodic material, which tip-toes its way across sheets of chords washing back and forth as the waves of an ebbing tide. Filled out with plenty of mod-wheel sass and some dark, mysterious beats, all three tapes deliver the suspense, intrigue, action and horror of a stone-cold whodunit. The only thing missing is the popcorn.

Links: Yves Malone - Field Hymns



[LP; One Hand]

Fadensonnen represent the absolute cream of the improv guitar-noise crop, so to hear them hit vinyl with a resounding CRACK should be a priority if you read this column. Badlands bristles with post-no wave energy, all-instrumental and poised to break the record for most circuits broken in a single sit-down. The ear has so many points to find purchase it’s impossible to pick one. That’s what so impressive about the whole maelstrom of Side A: Each element is blended together, yet set apart just enough to trick the ear into believing (save for the theatrics of the guitarist). I don’t hear drums but I sense them deep in the thicket of hot, wet sick. Side B turns the ship around. We get readily apparent, half-flailing, cymbal-worshiping drums, droning bass, more of that singular, exceptional guitar abuse, and a psych-noise brew not unlike portions of AMT offerings and/or all-out Matta Gawa jamz. But Fadensonnen’s sense of clinical cool and restraint undercuts the gestures toward instrumental excess and psych. It’s an exercise in blown-out precision and repetition that sucks all into its orbit. Whole sections of pure feedback-doused frenzy tend to do that, too, and we’ve got a hair-clump mess of it closing out the record. There are 150 copies of Badlands in existence, and they’re handmade, so find a way to make your dreams happen soon or you’ll end up drinking the dirt of denial.

Links: Fadensonnen

MA Turner


[12-inch; Sophomore Lounge]

Like myriad bored teenagers ill equipped to handle the stardom of a music career but promised the limelight from local peers, I was in a band. But before that, I was trapped in my friend’s bedroom manipulating tapes, beaten guitars, adolescent voices, and toys-as-percussion to create an album of complete trash. It was a glorious moment and to our surprisingly large group of friends, our parody of modern tunes and annoying regional personalities was a hit. But the pressure was too great. We got serious, we began copping whole sections of recorded songs in our pursuit for a second hit cassette. It was our downfall, never to flourish and blossom like the mind of MA Turner. ZOZ is an ego trip of half-realized pop songs disguised as trippy experiments of space and sound. Expected from a 12-inch remixing 12 cassettes’ worth of artistic musings that was a gallery installation. Those 83 thoughts are now 13 eas(ier) to handle jabs of inspiration. Without the $150 to purchase the whole collection to study the course of MA Turner’s self-editing process, I can still hear a man with a vision and no expectations tying it to the tunnel sort. ZOZ is ambitious even in its pared form; a menagerie of pop influences whirling by with different trajectories, sometimes colliding by also enhanced by near misses that still cause warping-via-gravitational pull. What boys in a bedroom making silly music has to do with MA Turner is kinship, even if we were merely poking music with sticks as Turner clubs it until its conventional stuffing is spread across the floor. Otherwise, Turner is a man among other boys too afraid to follow a half-thought to a fully formed project. Don’t be scared of growing up, and don’t be scared to be a woman doing it either. Convention is just another word for boring suits who don’t get art.

Links: Sophomore Lounge


Liberated Atheist

[7-inch; Dirty Pillows]

I go back and forth about the 7-inch all the time in my head, flip-flopping as to whether or not I think it can be a viable medium for showcasing music, and whether or not I find myself enjoying having to get up from the couch every three to five minutes to flip them over. I really appreciate the stylized objectivity and scarcity of the lathe-cut record in principle, this one in particular being that it’s only available in an edition of 20. But unfortunately, this release also has me a little puzzled. Geoff is a musical presence with power, electricity, and a keen prowess for improvisation… it’s just coming at us on the wrong medium this time. It’s a bummer that the disc only contains two out of three sections available from the musical piece “Liberated Atheist,” as right off the bat this feels somewhat incomplete. Side A encompasses a section of the piece dominated by electric guitars, and the B side introduces a Fender Rhodes piano, so what we are missing is any kind of an introduction, we’re just sort of flung into the middle of this already-developing jam. Both pieces hover in modal stasis with a warm bass guitar laying down a solid quarter-note pulse foundation for drifting solos and looping layers of texture to stack, swarm, and swoop above. Geoff’s ability to weave complimenting lines and find interesting contrapuntal relationships between melodies and amplifier feedback is compelling enough for a solid thumbs-up here, but the best thing about this music are the tones he pulls out of his instruments, and especially the guitar – strong and crisp, but also buttery smooth, instantly pleasing to the ears, like Brian May’s. Stylistically, Geoff’s bluesy turns of phrase, especially on keys, have me thinking of Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way, only a little bolder and heavier, more out front. Or maybe this is what Noveller might sound like if she were super into hair bands. In any case, it’s plenty good enough for me to get past my grievances about how the release was constructed, beckon you readers to check out the full piece streaming below, and also look forward to a full, complete physical issue from this talented musician in the future.

Links: Dirty Pillows

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.