Scammers

Conventions

[CS; Skrot Up]

I saw Phil Diamond do the Scammers thing along with an awkward ten-or-so others in the audience last month, and the dude freaked all ten-or-so of us completely out with his unbelievable confidence. That vibrato’d voice fluttering triumphantly over the square-by-comparison beats, floating out of a man who was shifting and contorting his body around the room, his face flying into ours, causing winces and confused looks abound. But the thing is that such confidence was warranted given the musical magic that came off of Diamond’s various instrumental devices: Beats had a very high head-nod factor. Melodies were consistently catchy. Buttery bass lines. And what really got me was the timing — brilliant pop song pacing, endless examples of tension and release, and whip-smart lyrics were wedged into the cracks to fill out the venue with boisterous bravado.

And, of course, all of that and much more makes its way onto the reels of Conventions, one of a handful of tape releases Diamond’s completed over the past twelve months, and possibly his best to date. Scammers has a sound that screams “Vegas” without ever really making the listener feel weird or unnecessarily guilty about liking that it does that. It’s a crazy phenomenon that’s difficult to describe, but nonetheless a simple thing to toss aside so that the swooning of a lovely ballad like “Effortlessly” with its soaring chorus can proceed uninhibited. Diamond’s a charmer that knows exactly what cards he has and when to play them, cashing in that sultry tenor for stunning climaxes that won’t fail to send shivers down the spines of tape deck owners everywhere. Robotic, rapid-firing stabs of synth propel tracks like “Convention” and “Terror Nights” into neon, post-disco frenzies that make me wanna bust out the running man. But whatever you do, don’t forget to take Scammers seriously — check out the words, get to know the vulnerable, thoughtful, and honest songwriter that is Phil Diamond. Something so normal never felt so weird, vice-versa, and of course none of that really matters. Scammers enjoyability is a very real, simple thing that seems universal and unequivocal and undebatable, and is yet something I fail to grasp completely with words. Let your ears do the talking, and let me know if they say whether or not the world is ready for a guy like Phil Diamond. I bet they’ll say “yes.”

Links: Scammers - Skrot Up

Seitz Versus Gendreau

Seitz Versus Gendreau

[LP; Misanthropic Agenda]

Considering the action coming your way if you take the trip, Seitz Versus Gendreau, at just 90 copies-deep, is an LP you’re going to want to invest in sooner than later. Michael Gendreau, of Crawling With Tarts fame, here indulges in a collaborative found-sound experiment in concrete music compositional strategies. On “Chorus After Rains” he pulls perhaps his most engrossing trick by bringing time to a standstill and letting the achingly beautiful, albeit randomly menacing, subtleties of two separate pieces play off one another. Truly remarkable work, redolent of the casts of Editions RZ and Recollections GRM. Then Gendreau embraces a time-aging philosophy, morphing the plucky notes of a toy piano into a fetid, slow-motion train wreck then cycling into Merznoize before rumbling over the finish line as the track has been rendered a skeleton of its former self. This all takes place in just a few short minutes via “Things Lost That Will Never Be Found,” which resembles a progression of separate movements more than a song. “Trains Will Not Stop (grand surface noise opera Nr.9),” a tune almost as long as its title at 18-odd minutes, lulls you into a coma then pulls you out by the brain handles just before irrevocable damage is done. As with many of the compositions of Side A, “Trains” often intersperses gauzy elements with raw ‘pop’s, evil hisses, and/or foreboding mists. It’s mostly a drift, however, one that might leave you thinking your turntable needle has reached the end of the line. Oh no, my friend; keep listening as the raindrops pitter-patter on the windowpane. A boggy slow-burn after a hectic introduction is just what the MD ordered; while the compositional origins of these tracks reportedly are one and the same, the results couldn’t be more disparate.

Links: Seitz Versus Gendreau - Misanthropic Agenda

Mavo

Mavo

[7-inch; Fixture]

From the label that brought you Cerb fav Homeshake, comes another dip into the post-grunge gene pool via the springboard of Mavo. Three rockers made for coasting back and forth in your parents’ rectangular anomaly in a neighborhood of matchstick boxes. This is your last summer of freedom (you’re 37 now, come Fall it’s time to get a job and a wife), so soak up the last vestige of your youth on 7 inches of wax but heed its advice. Tell your future bosses its fine to “Mock Your Accent,” remember to shave your “Horrible Brit Pop Haircut,” and collapse after a long day of imaging the toil and trouble of the working life in “Totally Tired.” Thankfully nothing is plodding or stern with Mavo, just sound advice presented in tightly recorded leisure. Hey white boy, float in the pool while you can. Basement living and a rosy outlook through those tinted rims won’t last forever. Summer’s coming to a close but not until the needle stops tracing the last Mavo play-through.

Links: Fixture

Mannequin Hollowcaust

Slow Infector

[7-inch; Head Destroyer]

You could take the pile of pseudo-noise/exp./etc. tapes currently in my record room and build a great empire from their melted-down clay, but 7-inches of this sort are less common. Hell yes. Mannequin Hollowcaust, desirable despite their moniker, glom onto a detached strain of dro-noise collage that moves around its constituent parts like kids forming cut-up shapes into different permutations. That’s Side A, the title trizzee; the flip, “The World is a Wasteland” (and isn’t it?), adheres to a similarly off-kilter notion of percussion while pixelated noise bugs crawl in and out of the track like it’s a dead deer’s skull. Pretty soon all is blurred by an encroaching hoard of noise buzzards that chew up every available inch of aural real estate until there’s no room left for anything else. It’s been a locked-groove life lately, and “Wasteland” is no exception. Time to cowboy up, gentlemen.

Links: Mannequin Hollowcaust

Stupid Bummed

Get Used to It

[CS; Juniper Tree]

Remember when we all thought Ariel Pink was going to be awesome forever? How I could apply Stupid Bummed’s name to the joke that’s been played on us. Maybe applying the title of their latest cassette, Get Used to It also would prove apropos. Eh, I’m too down. That is, until I finished listening to Get Used to It. Then I listened again. And again. I remembered Ariel Pink is totally acceptable but also came to realize Stupid Bummed are stellar in their own right (and not to discount the unknown, fear death, or compare bands even if the shoe fits). Deconstructed pop that floats in the ghostly ether of every era and none; this is the stuff that has tunnel-jacked the deep underground into a spewing, uncontrollable derrick that should never be capped even if we run low on fossil fuels and creativity. Know why? Because sooner or later someone will harness that wasted energy to make new energy and someone like Stupid Bummed will come along to transform used-up pop to make it clean and viable.

Links: Juniper Tree

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
  

News

  • Recent
  • Popular

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.