Sparkling Wide Pressure

Press the Reverse and Give Me the Tape

[CS; Lillerne]

Frank Baugh, in addition to running the most-excellent 3-inch specializing CD-R imprint in all the land, Kimberly Dawn, has made a modest name for himself in the ambient music realm by producing tapes just like the one I’m listening to and reviewing for you right here and now. That’s not to say that he’s a guy who’s in the habit of repeating himself, but that is to say he’s in the habit of being incredibly consistent with his work, spinning yards of audio-yarn with his guitar and pedals, swirling moody ambiance between folk and soft-pop stylings. And of the five thousand or so Baugh-related releases out there, although I’ve only heard a small fraction of them, I’m inclined to name Press the Reverse and Give Me the Tape my favorite, if only for the reason that it’s the best-of what’s best of what Sparkling Wide Pressure is all about. Which is truly a tough thing to describe, a sound that belongs wholly unto one person and one person only. But I’ve yet to hear anyone match Baugh’s wonderful way, a way that is on full display here with a fluid vision and rounded arc – guitar, tape loops, found sounds, some synths and a desperate and distant vocal haunting the entire mix. It’s delicate, thoughtful, full of sadness and love and heartache. It flows like your backyard creek, and rocks like your grandmother’s rocking chair on the porch. Its skin is withered like an old newspaper, and its blue eyes have tears in them that refuse to fall. Wind blows through its hair, and the sun is rising off to its West, warming the Earth around it to the touch. Memory itself as an agent of pure meditative speculation; that seems to be the best I can do to sum up the Sparkling Wide Pressure thing. It ain’t perfect, but it’ll have to do.

Links: Sparkling Wide Pressure - Lillerne

Bataille Solaire


[7-inch; Mind]

Asaël Robitaille moonlights as Bataille Solaire (or is it the other way around?) and is often lumped in with the vaporwave gang. If he’s truly a card-carrying member of the v-wave glitter posse, he shows why the genre deserves respect as much as it does fealty/jeers/over-analysis/a swift death/etc. with Jap, a goddamn-tasty limited-to-99 release on the Mind Records label (circa: Japan and $35 price tag w/ shipping AND YES, an obi strip). Furthermore, Robitaille seems to be pushing back against the supposed limitations of the artform, indulging in a great deal of kitschy come-ons yet employing them to ascend to a plain unattainable through concept alone. “Choose Your Character,” from its title on up, is a shrine built for Konami and Capcom that becomes a huge mind-gulp. You grab a controller and navigate through its wacky sprites and moody bosses, care of a glee-ass glowmop beat that serves as the equivalent of a clip-art image of 80s people skating to the Ghostbusters soundtrack on lazer night. Then, when you reach the end, instead of a lame credit-roll that makes you wonder why you bothered, you encounter a crystal-clear arpeggio sequence that flies in the face of every criticism of ‘the vaporwave’ I’ve ever heard. It’s stone-cold kickin’ and not afraid to take you home with it. It peacocks, you might say. I treasure this damn trak; I honestly hope you take the time to steep yourself in its juices, as I have. “Décoration Moléculaire,” the b-side, doesn’t requite the listener’s affection as openly as “Choose Your Character,” but its perfume is just as alluring and 80s-encompassing, giggling in the backroom with cheap martial-arts-movie soundtracks, Palm/Highway Chase, and keyboards better than a Casio but bad enough to embarrass the hell out of an expensive Korg in a nostalgia fight. I love being surprised and Jap, which by dint of its title and alluring double-silk-screen packaging was bound to raise eyebrows, delivers on both ends of the conceptual bargain. From front-to-back one of the most impressive audio artifacts of the year, from an upstart label on but its third release (first two: Umberto and, you guessed it, Femminielli Noir).

Links: Mind

Michael Wohl

“Moonfeeder” b/w “Song of Impermanence”

[7-inch; Knick Knack]

Wohl serves up a new slice of traditional interpretation while also giving audiences a revisit from his recent cassette. “Moonfeeder” was a personal fav from Eight Pieces for Solo Guitar, so having it handy to play on 7 inches of vinyl rather than wearing out the tape is worth the price of admission. But it’s the flip, “Song of Impermanence,” where Wohl begins to expand his Takoma influenced tendrils back into the history of his home base of Seattle. There’s a bit of psychedelia on display as the song progresses from its ancestral roots. As Wohl begins to get lost in the cat’s cradle melody, it begins to free his fingers and expand the sound. It’s subtle but you’ll pick it up after a few listens – and you will listen repeatedly. Wohl may not be a fast riser on your radar but give him a few more releases and you’ll find yourself a fan if you’re on the old Fahey/Kottke trip. Only so much of that old pizzazz left to go ‘round.

Links: Michael Wohl - Knick Knack

Dry Socket

Violator EP

[CS; NO!]

Drekka and Dylan. This is going electric; this is Woodstock babies pregnant with babies. Bloomington, Indiana’s big guns delivery a hefty, sexless child into the world. Where the joint moniker Dry Socket fits into such an analogy…I’d rather not pain the women readers. Regardless, this creation from Michael Anderson and Dylan Ettinger seems a long time coming just by virtue of their standing within the college community that harbors (well, not Dylan anymore) them. But nothing else about this is very collegiate or bro-ish or even underground. Both sides play with the idea of industrial’s humble beginnings while also giving a nudge and a wink to Depeche Mode. Though neither are Gahan, both do retell a fascinating story through their own no-holds-barred prism of cool noises and rudimentary melody. The A side is the bouncing, blushing newborn being heaped with unheralded praise; the B side angry and inconsolable in the middle of night for no other reason than because. When you’re a parent, you learn to love the extremes. So goes Violator. You can’t have the happy lasting memories without the growing pains.

Links: Dry Socket - NO!


Fog and Other Memories

[CS; Already Dead Tapes]

One of the best projects happening in the world right now is called Tereshkova, and it comes from the mind of Portlander Jeff Lane. Hot on the heels of last year’s outstanding Intergalactic Letdown tape, Lane’s new work keeps all the project’s soul-swallowing qualities – the oceans of reverb, the flipping and twisting electronic effects, and yards of delaying tape. But there’s something about this new album that gives even further access into the true genius of Tereshkova. There’s a sharper attack of melody and rhythm, picked guitars, plucked synths, and the drums just groove. But the important thing is that you really hear it all out in front this time, unburied, slicing through the fogs and ahead of the clouds of color left behind. Before I was thinking along twee lines, but now I’m getting straight psych pop, the kind Dave Fridmann loves to get his hands on. In either case, Tereshkova’s knack here is for that big symphonic sound, hurling the arranging prowess of people like Brian Wilson into the world of pedal power and monster amplifiers, and doing it with really pretty, understated songs. Lane builds little worlds of drifting, pastoral choral harmonies from his wash of guitar and synth; Some of the tunes, as they slip and strip their complications, blossom and bloom out into full on hymns resulting in some of the most massive music to hit a cassette yet this year. It’s all happening at the bottom of the Grand Canyon; a quiet, private and lonely moment, shouted up through the miles of earth and out into the heavens.

I do want to take a second to talk about the vocals. One issue is that it’d be tough to pick out even a handful of real words he’s actually singing, there’s just barely anything human left from the time the voice enters the mic to get out on the other end of a speaker. Trust, it’s a really great treated sound, and definitely the right amount of fucked-up for the music that surrounds it. It’s properly mixed in the bath, and Lane’s delivery also has the right attitude in its nasally sneer. But with the intonation a little eschewed, sometimes it gives a pale, irregular sort of feeling. This is almost more like a precautionary description here, there’s a lot of people that actually prefer words are delivered that way (and admittedly I’m one of them at times, here especially). Still, you gotta wonder what an angel might do with that kind of sonic real estate.

Links: Tereshkova - Already Dead Tapes

Richard Riggs


[CS; Drone Warfare]

I got to thinking about industrial music the other evening. I happened upon the video for Filter’s “Hey Man Nice Shot,” and though not the gritty, acidic version of industrial still celebrated by a few, it was at the height of the genre’s recognition. By proxy, I began to think of the equally toxic noises that the last decade has produced by mutating synthesizers and electronics into a futuristic obelisk firmly planted in an alternative past. What this has to do with Richard Riggs is largely based on my projection of taste onto his sound, but Riggs happens to hit the sweet spot where industrial may have found itself had NIN, Front 242, Filter, Stabbing Westward and a host of slightly popular acts not been identified with the Hot Topic darkness of industrial pop. Karoshi certainly has its bright moments via identifiable melody structures. Yet there’s a corrosive agent eating away the sparkling flesh as the tape degrades with each passing play-through. The heavy bass and snapping snares have long been eroded; the anonymous hand gracing the cover serving as the pulsating slab of heartbeat substitution. But the drones! Oh, those spiky, spiteful drones that sink further into the tar pits. Riggs truly explores both totems of a greatly fractured (and perhaps relabeled) genre. This won’t fit firmly in the old confines of industrial music but that’s the beauty of it! Genres are dead and industrial has long been dormant in its most pertinent public applications. Karoshi stands as testimony that industrial lives on, no matter the name or association.

Links: Drone Warfare

Viper Venom


[CS; Deathbomb Arc]

Deathbomb Arc seem enamored with unknown forms of hip-hop lately and that’s an amazing development, particularly in the case of Viper Venom, a unit tighter than a lizard’s twat and messier than Madvillain (or at least that’s what they should be claimin’). I’m all over this fuckin’ shit. Destroyah is right up there with clipping. material when it comes to enlightening developments in hip-hop, though the two couldn’t be further apart in terms of style and temperament. VV peddle poison, poised to propagate pure pitch-bent piss at the prop-happy punters. I always imagined Heltah Skeltah would sound like this and they always let me down; a lot of the Anticon groups seemed headed in this direction for awhile too. No more; Viper Venom got the block locked when it comes to horrific, barely contained rage raps. Again: I’m all over this shit, and you should be too. Just give it a chance…

Links: Deathbomb Arc

Demonstration Synthesis


[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

Daniel Leznoff does anything but as Demonstration Synthesis. DS3 is rather the work of a professional schooling a bunch of amateurs during the height of sweeps with an entire generation as his viewing audience. Agape are mouths and drooping are chins at the magnetic waves of synthesizer washing over them in equal parts academic study and flawless execution. Whether to applaud, remain silent, or get up to dance at the symmetrical stylings of Leznoff are just part of the participatory process. However you react, it’s that action that registers loudest. No amount of Nielsen ratings or entertainment rag gossip will eclipse this high or spoil this outcome. Each time it’s different, though the overnights always remain high. One by one we are drawn to our stereos, ratings on the rise. And each time we press play we become another diehard. Fan fiction begins to crop up, message boards dedicated to what’s next, and major motion picture deals float in our heads. But Leznoff is a man of integrity, working his craft for a love of the unconventional. In that calm, he finds what keeps bringing us back. What’s next? There is no time to worry for we’re still enamored with what’s now. DS3, oh how you’ve captured the heart of an entire nation, just not everyone is aware of it yet.

Links: Adhesive Sounds

Stay At Home Dads

Break Fast

[CS; Self-Released]

Do not be turned off by the banal name or pun of the band’s cassette. See past your scrunched nose (if you can open your eyes from the initial horror shock). What lies inside Break Fast may be the rudimentary first steps of a band on the cusp of some feverish attempt at Endless Boogie (or at the very least Vietnam) jams. Everything about Stay At Home Dads is stonewashed and Nag Champa scented. It’s a carefully maintained and carelessly driven Z-Roc. There’s a sense of pride in each low fidelity trip and though the room for improvement is about as spacious as the backseat of the Z-Roc, that’s still room for growth for a band. Stay At Home Dads are a good production job and a pruning of their ’70s arena rock collection away from something worth near-worship. As it currently stands, Break Fast is the kill time between roach hits and play dates. The bones are sturdy but the meat isn’t fleshy. In the meantime, live vicariously through this Brooklyn band before they blow up and you are left holding the scraps.

Links: Stay At Home Dads

Henri Claudel


[CS; Signapore Sling Tapes]

If retro-futurism be your thing, look no further than this Henri Claudel person otherwise known as Mother Ganga (an artist I was first introduced to from one of Huckleberry Friend’s recent mixtapes on… wait wait, I’m losing you). I guess the who or why doesn’t matter as much as the WHAT. And THAT just so happens to be this amazing 7-song (not nearly enough songs, by the way) collection of silicon-skyway Depeche Mode-dance proto/whatever-wave pocket calculator pop music that is blissfully beautiful and incredibly strong. It’s the kind of cheeseball style you might expect to hear in an old, lame, teeny-bopper type of movie involving nerds, but instead of being cheeseball or lame or old, Technopoly is quite fresh and new and just really, really good (and still just a little bit teeny-bopper and also slightly nerdy). It’s real and it’s honest and sincere, too, and that’s why I am of the mind that Henri Claudel, although certainly a pseudonym, isn’t so much a joke character as it is a sturdy vehicle for whoever this person actually is to produce some really terrific songs. They start with great melodies and lyrics that skirt dance club politics/love stories via thought-provoking philosophies (“Peer into my disco ball” is an easy favorite), and each unfurls with firing squads of synthetic syncopation, fluttering arpeggio flourishes, and a locomotive pace that just will not quit. The voice, deep, reverberant and sexy, is the icing on top of this delicious cassette cake. Fucking Singapore Sling, guys. Every damn time. Starting to get a little tired of telling you, but I just gotta.

Links: Henri Claudel - Signapore Sling Tapes


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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.