Sheldon Siegel

Three Euro Breakfast

[CS; House of Alchemy]

It is a noise tape on House of Alchemy. Further, it is a free jazz noise tape on House of Alchemy. Don’t be frightened or turned away — while such a document may appeal to a specific, special sort of weirdo, Three Euro Breakfast (and indeed Sheldon Siegel as a band itself, a trio presented here through a series of live sets during a 2010 European tour) might just be that missing link to bridge gaps and harmonize a splintered jazz world that exists in an ever-awkward process of aging. Yes, things do get crazy on this free jazz noise tape on House of Alchemy. That saxophone, sometimes it sounds like it’s being violently murdered, possibly by the pursuing menace that is the bass voice or a trampling barrage of ecstatic rhythm. The drumming is anything but hinged, flying between cymbals and skittering around the toms, the sticks dancing something of a brutal ballet. But elsewhere (and often), the three manage a collected, restrained ensemble. The use of dynamics, particular those in the mezzopiano to pianissimo range, for something like this is remarkable. Subtle snare drum rolls are delicate and precise, and detailed brush work paints uneasy foundations for softly screeching sax to extend bands of color across the canvas, spinning itself into monologues that strain at the seams with emotional tension. Pizzicato cello flutters around to confuse and delight in satisfying head-spins when not in the throes of beautiful and mournful sections of bowed brilliance. Sheldon Siegel’s musicians explore the limitless aspects of each instrument’s palate of texture while finding interesting ways to layer and exploit those experiments on the fly, looking for spaces to fill with exciting new sounds while playing up to their familiarity. Oh, and watch for a killer rendition of “Caravan” while you’re at it. The first release of this sort to stop me dead in my tracks since Subtle Lip Can’s stunning debut, and to be sure a front-runner to be the best of its kind that will see the light of 2013.

Links: Sheldon Siegel - House of Alchemy

Sneaky Pinks

Sneaky Pinks

[7-inch; Almost Ready]

Sneaky Pinks pull a rabbit-punk with “I Can’t Wait” (this is funny – I actually meant to write ‘punch’ just then; Freudian slip, bitch), then slip in three more jabs on Side B to finish the job, though I’m not sure if there are three songs here. CORRECTION: One of them is five-or-so seconds long, hence the mixup. My bad, fellas! Did I mention Sneaky Pinks is basically Nobunny? Ahhh, I have your attention now, no? Good. Back to “I Can’t Wait”; if you’re wondering whether The Ramones have been tackled with more aplomb in the modern era, you’re not alone. Everything about this recording is sublime, from the laughable fidelity to the quacked chorus to the intensely brief length of the track. “Kill Kill Kill” represents the snotty side of the Pinks, all soggy sleeves and screamed decrees, while “Life Stupid, I Stupid” wants a blow job and a hot dog; that’s all there is to say. Side B ends on a locked groove. Either that or my record player is fucked up. If you like punk you like punk, no? I don’t have to tell you what to do.

Links: Almost Ready

Giant Claw

Impossible Chew

[CS; Field Hymns]

Impossible Chew takes Keith Rankin (disclosure: former longtime TMT editor) into the realm of synthetic new wave. And you may say to yourself, wasn’t new wave’s city built on synthesizers (and according to a coked out Grace Slick, rock and roll)? This is all very true but in the new new NEW world of synthesizer jazzercise, a change has been brewing for quite some time. Impossible Chew unravels as the first salvo of so-far-beyond-new that we haven’t a name for it. “Science Island” inhabits the 80s post-prog territory of Yes, “Latenight Frenzy” rolls further back into Talking Heads 77, and “Mars Serene” is on par with Thomas Dolby pre-blindness. It’s not even halfway through, but the thesis is now planted in your cortex so let us continue. Impossible Chew embraces its name, giving Rankin’s music a bit of gristly context to separate it from any aspirations to be retro-fitted. Though I can sit here and rattle off bands and styles floating in our amalgamated SpotiTunes cloud, Giant Claw does more with them than just studious listens and over-the-shoulder copying. This is the coming of the renaissance that has been hinted at by a few forward thinking artists who pioneered the rejuvenated genre. Beyond the old cornerstones, there’s plenty of modern influence with complicated timings and tempo shifts; songs starting off in an avant fog before lifting to unveil a blitzed dance floor. It’s music for contemplation and movement. But it won’t be leaving the car deck for some time; that’s one movement best left untouched.

Links: Giant Claw - Field Hymns

Inappropriate King Live

Datboonbaat

[CS; Rainbow Bridge]

Inappropriate King Live is one of the many nom de plumes of Justin Marc Lloyd, a Chicago-by-way-of-Baltimore noise-nik with a grip-a tapes in his trunk and enough limited runs (and limited-enough runs; the cassette being reviewed right now, for example, is one of just 17 declared copies) to vex even the hardest of the hardcore. Datboonbaat – and this is important – doesn’t sound like a tape that’s been severely, brutally, and, yes, purposely limited to a scant 17 copies. Lloyd throws out spirals of Shuriken static like it’s motherfuckin’ Shinobi season and flows fluently from endurance-test noise to beat-driven lo-fi techno(t) to effects-driven drone that ascends slowly into the sky like the rising sun. Of particular note is the swooping robo-bass that whirls the end of Side A around until you’re clinging to your seat. You always hear this from people in indieworld: “Man, they play a crazy show whether there’s 10 people in the crowd or 10,000!” Well, same goes for the small-run tape crowd. They don’t care who’s listening; it’s all part of their card game with god, so fuck YOU if you don’t get it. (Not you though.)

Links: Inappropriate King Live - Rainbow Bridge

Marie Davidson

Marie Davidson

[CS; Holodeck]

I have been casually learning French via a website that makes learning French less intimidating than it seemed in high school and college. I have always been drawn to the romantic language, and not in wet dreams spiked with visions of intimacy with Parisian women or fits of porn boredom wherein I think I can woo a woman with my awful nasally pronunciation. You can’t win smart women over with clichés, so I turn to Marie Davidson and her EP of robotic machinations to improve my speaking and to wow my wife when I can live out my teen fantasies in a future trip to the land of bread, wine and stripes. We will certainly tuck a copy of Davidson’s tape in our carry-on luggage, allowing us to soak up the France we wish to experience; the fearless and strange artists who do not fit in with the pop star archetype of Alizée or the classic ballads of Brel. Though favorites, they don’t have the weird energy of Davidson’s synthesized pop. At once this feels timeless like my dreams but rooted in a particular location. But it realigns my youthful transgressions into something more sophisticated if equally sexual. That’s the magic spell I’ve associated with France for all these years and now it’s transported to me by the sexy shimmy of Davidson’s post-modern pop.

Links: Holodeck

Lame Drivers / Woolen Men

Headhunting / Deaf Americans

[7-inch; Sleeping Giant Glossolalia]

Split 7-inches: So fuckin’ bittersweet because just when you’re getting to know the first band they’re switched out for an often-totally different act. Still, I love ‘em on the rare occasion they pan out for both parties. Lame Drivers, a traditional indie-rock outfit, lead off with “Headhunting” and “Excess,” and it’s quite deceptive how quickly these tunes jump into the spotlight then disappear with barely a whimper. My money’s on “Excess,” a bleary-eyed latenight drive down a deserted highway, fuzzy guitars and memorable synths your only guide. The vox on this one kill it. Woolen Men pop in and out of the good blogs/zines out there with regularity and it’s not difficult to discern why: They approach mom ‘n’ pop geek-punk from a deliriously salty angle that browns out any and all bright colors like an old sepia-toned photograph. It’s a neat trick they pull, sucking the blood out of their arrangements then spitting it into an urn and pouring it onto 7-inch wax. These dudes wouldn’t know bass/low end if it were butt-fucking their dads in the shower, and after buying a string of records that inflate to rumbling levels even with the volume turned down, that’s a welcome development around here.

Links: Sleeping Giant Glossolalia

Trabajo

Gamelan to the Love God

[7-inch; self-released]

It feels almost too good when coincidences like this present themselves. You see, I’ve always had a thing with the word ‘trabajo’ because it’s the one word I definitely learned during three years of high-school Spanish, and as such has always been a super-inside joke of mine. Furthermore, this nifty, lucky-ass 7-inch came in the mail the day after I happened to see Trabajo’s band name for the first time (at which point I chuckled to myself of course). All this would have meant nil had Gamelan to the Love God stunk up the joint, so let us all thank the gods of the experimental temple it didn’t. I’m totally loving this project from the top-down, if you must know. It’s an eccentric ride, all sampled from Indonesian Gamelan recordings, that takes root in the furthest corners of the underground galaxy, a place where old Lucky Dragons, Kink Gong, Twink, Gonzo & Lowdjo, and a host of others can be found working hard to supply commercial artists with the beats/effects they’ll be using in five years. A solid self-released joint, 250 copies young.

Links: Trabajo

Yousei Suzuki

The Scene From A Frame

[CS; Scissor Tail]

I’m packing and unpacking boxes. My move postponed by new complications but enriched by renewed hope. Though the stress remains palpable, I am relived to dig through some boxes in a fit of relief. We need extra dishware and a few lost trinkets to reclaim our sanity. So as I dig through packed cassettes awaiting review, I stumble upon this glossed over beauty from Yousei Suzuki. Beautiful and stark, the hiss of production plays like the summer thunderstorms of Midwestern summer, breaking only for the solitary rhythms of Suzuki’s guitar and piano. Works of happy plucking (“Full Moon Strings”) backed against unwavering lucidity (“Piano Pieces”), all the warm cup of calm needed in a mess of banking institutions, messy apartments, and of decisions up in the air. My experience is not isolated, which is why Suzuki proves so welcome in the midst of the deluge. No matter what gray cloud hovers over your current situation, take solace under the umbrella of The Scene from a Frame. And then enjoy the life lesson as it unfolds in front of you.

Links: Scissor Tail

Feet Teeth

Aphthae Epizooticae

[CS; HellosQuare]

When a band like Feet Teeth dances into your life it’s easy to glom onto the initial presentation and then 10 minutes later HOLD ON – they’ve lost me. It’s one thing to employ a unique form of presentation, it’s another entirely to expand that form into results sturdy enough to support a full-length recording. Aphthae Epizooticae manages this feat and then some via a meager store of instruments including percussion, marimba, Commodore 64, and trumpet. While that arimba-may (if you’re into pig latin) is a little oying-clay, as it’s totally front-and-center almost all of the time, a few of the diversions taken by the trio hold onto the mind like a freshly spat-upon suction cup. Torngat sounded a bit like this, and not just because they also owned a trumpet; that’s all I got for precedents, sorry. Amiina, where art thou?

Links: Feet Teeth

A Story Of Rats

Vastness and the Inverse

[LP; Translinguistic Other]

With an exquisite jacket that registers somewhere between Fredrik’s Trilogy and Chrome Jackson’s Chrome Forest, A Story Of Rats’ album art for Vastness and the Inverse stimulates the senses just as a record cover should, and the music behind the images is even better, betraying all sorts of familiar traits but never settling on an established genre. For example, there’s a lot of screaming/screeching/beseeching and general heaviness, but I’m not sure if I hear a guitar (if I do, it’s been heavily treated). Could this be the slowcore answer to Circle Of Ouroboros? Call it black drone-rock, post-doom, continental drift, or even dark cloak; regardless of the nametag you pin to its breast, Vastness and the Inverse is an exceedingly worthwhile investment, replete with black magic and the wizardry it requires to expand upon the post-metal strain Hydra Head bands abandoned half a decade ago. However, when it comes down to it, I’d connect A Story Of Rats to Bardo Pond, Religious Knives (particularly the Side B entry, “Huldufólk”) and Jennifer Gentle’s instrumental psych LPs as quickly as I would any group affiliated with HH. This is a true hybrid, though the soul behind it is purebred. If this record were a Kinko’s card, you’d pre-load it with 300 copies, ya dig?

Links: Translinguistic Other
  

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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.