Tellavision

Music on Canvas

[LP; Twelve Inch]

Another unexpected turn from the label that brought you Flaming Dragons Of Middle Earth and other East Coast oddities, Music on Canvas, by Tellavision, first came out in 2011 as a CD-R on an obscure German label so of of course a label in Massachusetts came knocking; bound to happen right? A nice discovery too. The dog-bark synths complement the potentially cheesier Casio programs nicely, along with spiky guitar and a lady singer who sounds like she might actually mean it. K Records looms large, particularly when there’s only bass, hand drums, and keys backing the singer, yet there’s also a bohemian art-store house act vibe to it all. When’s she takes it down a notch and plays solo with guitar accompaniment she shines the most, offhandedly delivering vocals you will be thinking about on long drives and those late nights when sleep couldn’t be farther away. The slight, downcast electronic detour near the end of Side A also is welcome; definitely not a release you can pin down, as is Feeding Tube’s wont. I believe you can still find one of the 300 of these made through the label, but don’t assume you can wait forever.

Links: Tellavision - Twelve Inch

Midday Veil

THE CURRENT

[LP; Translinguistic Other]

Side B of THE CURRENT, by Midday Veil, begins on a near-perfect note, a slow, ritualistic rhythm dressed in a “Space Grass”-style bass line, synth eternalities, and folk-y vox. The whole peyote-trip-in-the-desert thing kinda died for me when I realized Ray Manzarek was played by Kyle MacLachlan in the Doors movie (nothing wrong with it, I just didn’t realize it was him for so long I’m embarrassed), but I’ll be damned if that isn’t what comes to mind when this psychedelic, yet proggy, though less so than the rest of this LP, stew hits my system like tea imbued with mushroom mystique. When the shadow-y voices fade a litany of effects and programmed tonal permutations writhe a little until a suddenly sprightly sequence kicks in and we’re back at the post-Harmonia, Bitchin Bajas-/Stereolab-esque LazerQuest emporium of prog opulence we were treated to on Side A. I have no qualms with the more beat-heavy, traditional prog-rock approach, particularly because the drippy sound smears resound with so much flavor, yet I crave more of the mystical madness of the lone departure. I’m guessing most of the working population would disagree with me on this point so don’t hesitate too much, as at 300 copies THE CURRENT won’t be juicing your Lite Brite for too much longer if you fail to act.

Links: Translinguistic Other

Deep Waters

Deep Waters

[12-inch; Diamond Wave Press]

This Deep Waters 12-inch comes with a couple of little extras. Hand-pasted cover art on a converted recycled LP sleeve (mine is an old Alabama record, by the way), blue vinyl… I also got a really nice hand-written note with accompanying artwork on some fancy parchment. But the kicker: A bag of Salada brand Green Tea came nestled safely within the package. I’m drinking it right now, actually, and it goes down pretty smooth with these “synth explorations,” although I must admit, it only makes me realize that Deep Waters is deep winter music. These are songs for warming, for healing. Essentially, a series of piano ballads swirled out of your hi-fi amplifier, sounds twisting through the air like fine calligraphy even though the lines might appear a little wonky at times. It’s delicate and nice, but also very much done by hand - pieced together with an innocent sort of grace, a brief twinkle in this record’s watery eye. “Fragile” is probably the best word I can come up with, the voice of David Spalvieri-Kruse shivering in the coldness of the mix’s barren, open field of audio. There are synths and pianos, a guitar occasionally, even other voices all up in Deep Waters’ business, surrounding, but they don’t feel like support as much as they do sympathizers, watching a lonely figure from the outside looking in. Luckily the vocal melodies carry their weight to give each song its own deserved heft. The voice… honestly, the voice will throw you at first, wobbling in and out of intonation as it does, but hey, I know you thought the same thing about Dean Wearham’s, too. It’ll grow on you, and grow inside of you, and in a good way. August seems like exactly the wrong time for me to be submitting this review, but just think of me come November when you’re snuggling up to these pretty tunes. I’ll accept thank you presents through Hanukkah.

Links: Deep Waters - Diamond Wave Press

Lantern

Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach

[LP; Sophomore Lounge]

We usually avoid albums like Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach but the creepy cover art intimidated me even though I knew what I was getting into. This isn’t dark arts hoodoo voodoo, just straight-laced rock and roll. Which is to say sexy, dirty, and dingy. The hex threatened is not a curse but a blessing of garage noir. I want to rub R&RR all over myself and run free from the shackles of corporate rock (does that even exist anymore? let’s pretend that it does and it looms heavy and large and conglomerates with billboards will hunt me down for refusing their enchantments).

Is that enough nostalgic rebellion to fulfill a typical Lantern review? Good, because it’s crap. What you need to know is this is VU type shit, not in approach but as motivation for you to get off your indented, lumpy couch and to play rock and roll yourself. Emily and Zachary are giving you the knock of opportunity, so don’t waste it on your sorry ass. Though, pass me that roach before you go. I’m gonna sit here and write about your new band, and if you don’t give Lantern and R&RR the praise and credit it deserves for inspiring your Lou Reed cool, then the band WILL come calling in black robes and Satanic verses to take back what is rightfully theirs.

Links: Lantern - Sophomore Lounge

Cédric Stevens

Yesterday’s Chimes (Unreleased S.E.L. 97-99)

[CS; Discrepant]

Cédric Stevens was making the synth music being made in the present way back in Yesterday’s Chimes (Unreleased S.E.L. 97-99). That’s the only conclusion one can come to after hearing the modular motives of just about every synthetic track on this compilation. Most surprising is the pounding, quasi-DJ Shadow drums of “The Eerie,” which sound-date the material just a bit yet offer a less obtrusive take on solo-electronic composition, one with fewer self-imposed boundaries and the potential to break through the coldwave/drone coma so many are in (though I admit it feels great to be sedated in that way, too). The synth sweeps become huge waves of current and sweep over the drums before the number is through, shining through brightly even on the oft-unreliable cassette format. Even more rewarding are the slow-drip, icy climes that follow, held together by nothing but a spare bass-throb pattern and stained-glass synth tinkles. If you’ve been following Stevens or his Discrepant label, you know to expect a certain diligence from the material. You won’t be let down here. See also: Syncopated Elevators Legacy.

Links: Discrepant

Deadverse

Carpet Burns

[12-inch; Adagio830]

This one cramped my style a bit upon first spin but bore new fruit as fresh plays cleared out the cobwebs. I just haven’t heard anything like Carpet Burns in a long time; I’m weak, dammit, WEAK! I know not what to do with this energetic mix of Hot Water Music (the band not the book), early Fugazi, and Rocket From The Crypt. Man I haven’t listened to Titus Andronicus in so long but it seems they’d figure in here too. I’ve always enjoyed material like this most in a live setting; you see the show, you dig the show, you maybe even sing along a bit, and then you buy the record based on that interaction. It’s fairly aggressive, even compared to the above-mentioned influences, and, to me, they don’t make their most effective arguments until Side B, wherein they seem more relaxed and willing to let much-appreciated instrumental sections bear some of the burden. “Soapbox Canvas” is the best cut here, catchier than the rest and replete with bulldozing sidesteps. A solid, if unspectacular, listen, Carpet Burns will hit hard with some of you and fall flat with others, even more so than usual in these fragmented times. It also is a grower, however, so don’t count it out until you’ve dedicated some time to it. Say ‘emo’ you lose a testicle.

Links: Deadverse

Summons of Shining Ruins

The Sky Sings to Us

[3-inch CDR; Kimberly Dawn]

Sweeping shots of the overgrown city; bright lights flicker across a palette of manicured skyscrapers and side streets. A gentle downpour, enough for an umbrella but tolerable for those in need of a cooling shower in the midst of a muggy summer evening. With this rain, the sky is clearing. The warmth of the pavement yielding to no sun and flowing waters. It’s quiet, strange for a Friday night. The hooligans are in bed, the kids are in clubs, the adults at boring cocktail parties speaking of dividends and vacation destinations. Here I sit, huddled betwixt a solitary window and the dull shine of a dim bulb. I could read a book. Watch a movie. Play a video game. Crawl into bed. But none of it seems possible with this effervescent soundtrack capturing the stillness of constant movement. It is the wings of a hummingbird and I am the slow motion stills to prove the erratic flapping. This is the sound, I am the action. This is happening, I am frozen.

Links: Kimberly Dawn

MT Coast

BEACH ++

[LP; Dismantle]

MT Coast’s Beach ++ sounds like a lot of recent records, but the good ones, so who am I to argue with its elemental, tractor-beam pull? What begins as a drone drizzle a la Earn’s A Following Shadow and William Cody Watson’s Bill Murray LP morphs into an electronic hive of activity, synths buzzing in and out. (I’m not just saying that because the first cut is called “Bee Wonder,” by the way.) A cut-and-paste section yields to more drone, this of the filmic, fuzzy, distant variety, revolving like a planet and with just as much patient power. Smoky static crackles and walkie-talkie chatter close out the first side, and leave you wondering where they’re going to take this fuckin’ thing. Are we playin’ ball or what here, feller? MT Coast answer back with a minimalist torrent of bass, topped with crispy electric current that slices into the action like video-game lightning. “|3uRowZ” is a hot piece, then “\openup" brings on more of the comatose drift, call it spiritual drone, that makes you just want to melt into the floor (and the one time I tried salvia I thought I was doing just that; not pleasant). Well done, old chap. Victorious, swinging church bells and (possibly) kettle drums soon point the way to a soapy sound wave, coupled with sultry guitar, that will soak up your brain matter as it lulls you to sleep. How strange/strangely apt/aptly strange. Two-hundred copies stand between you and getting kicked out of the bungalow…

Links: Dismantle

Crooked Columns

Chemical Mysticism

[CS; Black Horizons]

The execution of Crooked Columns’ Chemical Mysticism is flawless, from the multi-fold cover to the full-sounding production to the ambitious, wreathed-in-flame, dark-electronic, film-music mission of the band. Very incisive stuff that uses repetition to its advantage rather than to the listener’s eternal boredom. Not an easy thing to do. There’s a shamanic trance-out on Side 1 that might be one peyote trip to the desert short of being technically illegal in this country. It storms over the soundscape like a group of bandits overtaking a small village, dark and demanding, yet with a laser edge that continues to evoke that soundtrack-y feel, fireworks and all. And there’s a lot more where that came from; Chemical Mysticism is relentlessly, almost horrifyingly evil at times, and you’ll appreciate the extra hint of spite. Never an iota of drone complacency despite the long run-time of the tape, and yet another stellar cassette that will be plucked up and re-released on vinyl at some point, even if it means future civilizations will have to mine it from a molten core of corn syrup underneath the earth’s crust. Easily one of my favorites of the year, on any format, and still available from the label.

Links: Crooked Columns - Black Horizons

Double Morris

Best of the Hightone Years

[CS; Pilgrim Talk]

Instantly impressive is the post-Sebadoh, no-fi, NZ-influenced Double Morris project. They’re transmitting Best of the Hightone Years through a toilet-paper tube, so you have to listen like a motherfucker before you even realize the lyrics are still, in fact, unintelligible. Doesn’t matter. A lot of drama baked into these indie brownie bites/bread bowls, and a lot of indifference, too. Why is that so goddamn attractive to the ear? This fuckin’ simp sounds totally emasculated and even emaciated, yet it makes perfect sense to the warped mind. Probably drools on the mic, too. Tracey Trance should check this out if he hasn’t already. The riffs are piledriver-simple, save a few delightful examples, the noisy sections scrape by satisfactorily, and the songs jerk to a halt like the snap of a turkey neck before you effin’ know what hit you. It’s like listening to The Germs, Pumice, and good ol’ D.J. wrapped into one, though obviously Double Morris still have a ton of work to do. There’s a few instrumentals on here that veer away from that premise entirely, however, so don’t expect a quick walk-through. Not what you’d expect from Pilgrim Talk, and thus is an even more impressive find for this busy imprint.

Links: Pilgrim Talk

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.