Tony Conrad & Charlemagne Palestine

More Aural Symbiotic Mysteries from Belgie

[DVD-R; Taping Policies]

In the interview that opens up this DVD-R, Charlemagne Palestine discusses how his and Tony Conrad’s “chops” had hit some kind of mystical stride when the two reunited after a 30+ year hiatus since their time playing together in the downtown scene (re: The Kitchen, etc.) of New York in the late 60s and early 70s. Chops? This is drone Mr. Palestine, what the hell are you talking about, chops. Watch the DVD. You’ll see, I promise. This reprisal of the two’s classic collaboration on Sub Rosa (An Aural Symbiotic Mysterie, 2006) is expertly dedicated to the realm of the visual with this release, well captured by cameras from a number of inside angles, perspectives and vibrant, living sound to give this symphony for zombies a thrilling animation I wasn’t sure would be possible after the first five minutes or so. But with time, things get intense. Palestine’s palms slam into the grand piano with precision and a sensual sort of power, like a butcher artistically tenderizing a side of meat with his bare hands. And Tony Conrad, at 72 years old when this was shot with his violin bow strings hanging out, flying all over the place, proves to be the hot mess of drone, that’s no bullshit neither. The two pack about as much motion into this stagnant cluster of notes imaginable, and the result is nothing short of stunning. At 43 minutes, it’s almost not long enough.

Links: Tony Conrad & Charlemagne Palestine - Taping Policies

Greymouth

Giant Squid

[CS; Dungeon Taxis]

Remember the excitement of the first time you wrote a song. Sure, it was likely just a couple of chords played loudly but that exuberance cut through you. VU may be the root of rock and roll but there’s nothing as crucial as self-exploration that tickles all the senses. That’s the bedroom enthusiasm of Greymouth, two man-children leaving the home nest of New Zealand for Tokyo, marrying their old pound-and-ground days with the kinetic fever of Japanese garage and noise. This cassette is all careless din; the unrelenting strums of punks trying to break strings. They’re going to out-punk the old farts still declaring what can be given such a holy bequeathing. To hell with it all, this is the crash course in what exists outside of rock and roll. Punk is dead, but Greymouth survives. The basement is gone, by the cramped apartment lives.

Links: Dungeon Taxis

Toddlers

Slopes

[CS; Double Dot Dash]

From the label that brought you Workin’ Man Noise Unit and an excellent Blackhoods tape earlier this year comes another Toddlers joint, a winding staircase of bass-led, arpeggio-heavy rock that seems almost a patient, heady reverse-doppelganger to technical bands like Hella and Dilute while flaunting the same ridiculous chops when they need to. Then the vocals come in and shit, I’m thinking Shudder To Think and Cheval De Frise and fuck, Dead Science isn’t out of the question even. As Flavor Flav would say: It all adds up to a funky situation. Just when you assume they’re playing it straight they wet your whistle with another jump-kick and you’re on your ass. Maybe a tad tiring over two full tape sides of action, almost too much of a good thing. It’s up to you to decide if that’s possible. Ltd to fitty copies.

Links: Toddlers - Double Dot Dash

The Hecks

Trust and Order

[7-inch; Moniker]

It’s like the new garage fixation (Sic Alps, The Beets, etc.) as heard through a foghorn: The Hecks come from a rich tradition, and the duo add a ton of intrigue to their arrangements by way of spacious, well thought-out-but-still-suitably sloppy, slowly building sequences. Vocals straight off a Leisure Birds LP and lots of string-scraping at the top of the guitar neck (does that ever not work?) also bolster the title track of this almost too-sweet 7-inch. The B-side, “The Time I Play With My Puppy,” is even more devilishly fascinatin’, hitching its wagon to a star that ain’t been charted yet and drifting into a comfy strum abetted by uncomfortable high-end feedback. So seemingly aimless, yet so pure and bursting with scalding life. A bit of a noise tangent closes out the flip and we’re done, nice and tidy. Not a 7-inch you’ll soon forget.

Links: The Hecks - Moniker

Kyle Landstra

Sage

[CS; Cosmic Winnetou]

I’m not entirely sure there’s such a thing as a “household name” in cassette-culture drone artists, but if there is, Kalamazoo’s Kyle Landstra might be one. With solid releases from Sonic Meditations and Already Dead Tapes (among others, to be sure – I can’t vouch for all of them, although I’m inclined to without having heard them), his latest for German imprint Cosmic Winnetou might be the standout of the bunch. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten a nicer tape deck, speakers, etc. since last I’d heard from Landstra… but somehow the harmonies on Sage sound fuller, rounder, just bursting with colorful beauty (as the cover art might suggest). Landstra here breathes a life force of sheer energy into his synthesizers. In fact, Sage and its hyper-fidelity nearly defies the cassette format altogether; this is Landstra as brought to you by THX. One side glides whilst the other grinds - that seems to be the delineating feature between the two. And since both pieces of music are essentially studies in the centric tone, harmonic frequencies up and down the spectrum (akin to Fibonacci, although there is a prominence of the major fifth interval), Sage as an album relies most on elements of dynamics, which happens to be where Landstra just skies it out of the park, creating the thrill of a free-fall out of something disguised as planar or monotonous; by the end, you’ve really been through something important. Pure drone decadence, folks, this one is sure to land on a number of year-end lists (present company included). Somebody press vinyl for this guy already.

Links: Kyle Landstra - Cosmic Winnetou

Creationists

Holy Wisdom

[LP; Super Secret]

How many bands these days are truly influenced by Fugazi and possibly Hot Water Music? Not many that come across my desk, so Creationists have that going for them out of the gate, though they hew closer to pure punk than either and flirt with trumpet more than you’d expect. Holy Wisdom is full of uptempo rock with a production haze like early morning fog. The high-register, chiming guitars, when allowed to roam, might be their best asset, but they’re a well-rounded crew of noisemakers, and with the many options available today it all comes down to preference; in fact, at this point you already know if this is your bag or not, so why do I bother to go on? I say give Creationists a chance, particularly if they hit up your town, as the rumbles of Holy Wisdom seem ideally suited to a live situation. Plus they really stretch out on Side B with some Cramps mannerisms and more of those guitar assaults. Pressing of 300 that just won’t quit.

Links: Super Secret

The Bloody Mess

Early Period

[CS; Self-Released]

The cross-contamination of Apache Dropout, Thee Open Sex and now the duo known as The Bloody Mess (appropriately named for members Sonny Bloody and Rachel Weidner aka Miss Mess) does little to quell antiquated coastal beliefs that the Midwest is the breeding ground of incest. In this case we’ll look the other way, not because the bands in question are family by blood–though they may argue otherwise–but because Sonny and the Miss don’t fall on typical duo tropes. Flashes of [REMOVED BECAUSE DON’T EVEN THINK OF THEM] will destroy your interpretation of Early Period. This is raucous, unclean and without gimmick. Miss Mess can actually play AND sing and Sonny’s penchant for hot rod rhythms and cutting to the chase is charming on its own merit. Early Period saves its best moments for the unexpected: the cute howls of “Two Ghosts,” the psychedelic take down of “Bloody Fingers,” the explicit impudence of “Squirt Gun.” The twosome save the best for last, “Balloon Song” the past tense of pop once reserved for Richard Swift (and still under-represented) now the plaything of Indiana’s up and comers–a subset these two are well anchored in. As the tape fades with Miss Mess’ authentic giggles, it’s only then you realize the good times are just starting. Follow the subliminal packaging’s message, open a can, and do it again!

Links: The Bloody Mess

La Luz

Call Me in the Day / Easy Baby

[7-inch; Water Wing]

Man, it would really suck to run a label, have an artist slap down a few tunes like “Call Me in the Day” and “Easy Baby,” and have to decide between paying rent and putting out a 7-inch on 45RPMs. I say this because, personally, I’d have to let the landlord sit tight for another month. La Luz demand to be propagated on the strength of “Easy Baby” alone. This is what The Concretes were doing before that chick left and sang on that whistling song. This is what Phil Spector did with the Teddy Bears 50 years or so before he became an afro’d murderer. This is pure, post-Leslie Gore rock ‘n’ roll glory, pressed to wax in hopes a few dance hall operators might take notice. I fucking hope they do. “Call Me in the Day,” a pleasant enough track, is so much like Fresh & Onlys’ “I’m a Thief” I’ll need clearance before I can even go beyond mentioning it. La Luzzzzzzz…

Links: La Luz - Water Wing

BeNe GeSSeRiT

MuLTiLiNGuaL SaD SoNGS, WeiRD JoKeS aND eXPeRiMeNTaL STuFF FoR uSe By GRoWN-uP CHiLDReN

[LP; Feeding Tube]

On the Discogs page for this release: “Disapproved edition by the artists because of the bad pressing. They want the full edition to be destroyed and repressed.”

So… I must respectfully disagree with this summation, if it is indeed genuine (which I doubt). I keep close tabs on the Feeding Tube label, and this darling, limited-to-300 LP might be my favorite release of theirs yet. BeNe GeSSeRiT (or Bene Gesserit; either way you’re not going to pronounce it right anyway), active on the underground tape scenes of Germany and France in the early 1980s, have popped up anew like fresh mushies, with an LP on Ultramarine last year and now this wizardly spiral of wax. And let me tell you: No one outside of possibly Ten In The Swear Jar can get more mileage out of accordion drones. But there’s so much more: This is noise art of the highest order, dealing in surreal, half-clucked vocal overtures, synth patches that multiply like cockroaches in the South, skips and hiccups, pitch-mangled asides, operatic exclamations of weirdness, and so much more I wish you would just listen to this fucking thing so I can SHUT THE FUH CUP already. Like an electric ball of energy; Jeff Keen, Spires In The Sunset Rise, a homeless, snarling version of Coco Rosie, Mama Baer, the aforementioned Ultramarine crowd; what’s not to like? Pressed on especially heavy, sleek vinyl.

Links: BeNe GeSSeRiT - Feeding Tube

Grapefruit

Blurred Tunnels

[CS; Golden Cloud Tapes]

Since the music on it is so full of precise, staccato notes, all of it built with such a lucidity, it’s hard to reconcile this tape’s title “Blurred Tunnels” with what I’m hearing – nay – experiencing. The “tunnels” part I get, the Portland-based synth-scaper an architect of a long and winding celestial conduit, complete with little flashing lights whizzing by your eardrums. The sheer pacing of the notes, those rapid-firing arpeggios and octave-oscillations is enough to define the walls and their elegant curvatures. But this stuff is far from blurry, at least on the surface. Dig your way past the blinks of tone, let the resulting swathe envelope your mind, and dream-like qualities do make their way into your world. Still, those conjured images come with a certain vitality and vibrant clarity that’s tough to ignore. Grapefruit doubles-down on the effort here by veering into some sweet ballad-esque material in addition to the quicker-paced stuff described in my previous sentences, giving his sound (which was well introduced on a brilliant debut tape via Field Hymns sometime last year) a whole new space to roam around in. Some of the pieces end too abruptly, though, as if a blood cell is getting caught in a clot after speeding its way through an otherwise totally open vain. Those moments aren’t nearly enough to detract from the undeniable greatness that is Grapefruit, though, but it is evidence that this guy has yet to create something that resembles a defining statement. That must be just around the corner, but in the meantime, Blurred Tunnels gets whatever job I needed doing in the retro-futuristic synth realm (occupied by others like Event Cloak, Belarisk, Brain Fruit, Ou Où, et. al.) done nicely.

Links: Grapefruit - Golden Cloud 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.