Black Umbrellas

vol. 1

[CS; Moon Magnet]

“Ariel Pink,” they screamed, “Neon Indian,” they cried, and I didn’t listen or care, the beat bumping big in my headphones, finding a crack in the sheets of tape hiss to wrap around my mind, close my eyes and raise my eyebrows. The umbrella above my brain deflecting the spring rains and beneath it casting shadows of sunshine all over me; a darkness that glows, that beams intently in streaks of thick intimidating black. Then off in the corner the voice appears, and it is frail and I have not a single clue what it’s singing to me, whispering of mellow mellows and mallows. Some dreamer mumbling his dreams to me, maybe, and even if I can’t figure it all out, it’s the hushed mood and the euphoric aura of twinkling melodies that keep my eyes firmly crossed. And the rhythms, too, the back beat pushed out to the ‘and’ instead of landing on the downbeat – little tricks like that to trigger a deep and buoyant response. By no means polished or refined, but nice as hell and an early reminder of (and necessary companion to) the heat of summer that lies just ahead, Derrick Bozich’s debut comes highly commended and recommended from your friends at camp-Strauss.

Links: Black Umbrellas - Moon Magnet

Orchid Spangiafora

Flee Past’s Ape Elf

[2xLP; Feeding Tube]

I’m not sure why Flee Past’s Ape Elf works for me and so many other similar projects don’t. But it does, and this is going to be one of those records I reference/mention maybe a little too much, I predict. Orchid Spangiafora and this 1977 masterwork showed up on Nurse With Wound’s infamous list of underground artists, but outside of the relatively tightly knit sphere of NWW, certain open minds in the punk community (Devo, Pere Ubu), and like-minded artists like Negativland, it could be said that a lot of us, myself included, never heard this one. Well, it’s time to pay the piper. Orch-Spang, nee Robert Carey, didn’t mess around when it came to sound-splicing, and unlike a lot of provocateurs known for the technique, he didn’t have much else to offer. Yet that also was the strength of the project because Carey made his own myths (you might call his gift a doppelganger to Mincemeat Or Tenspeed’s mastery of effects pedals), using samples as rhythms as much as audio signposts and tweaking them out with a hyperactive hand. Jeff Keen comes to mind, as do others, but few records, of this experimental variety and otherwise, manage to stick to such an imaginative template exclusively and keep the material cohesive for such long stretches. Flee Past’s a daunting challenge for most people, and even for those versed in the no-verse/-chorus variety of music it will be exhausting to strap down through the entire double-album. But that’s, frankly, what you must do. Besides, think about all the work it took spicing these cut-up compositions with reel-to-reels; if Carey can spend hours in an audio dungeon meticulously crafting a masterwork that will largely go unheard, you can damn-sure afford to let this remarkable record work its magic on you for the duration.

Links: Orchid Spangiafora

Sneaky Pinks

I’m Punk / Punk Pudding

[7-inch; Almost Ready]

It’s extremely difficult to have as much fun as Sneaky Pinks do if you’re taking your music career seriously. I remember some dude in a recording studio telling me about how his shitty country band had to can its drummer because he wore shorts instead of jeans. My point being, a lot of musicians take themselves so seriously it’s completely within reason to dismiss them immediately. The trick with a song like “Puke Pudding” is that the Pinks actually do care about their music, they’re just smart enough to obey their instincts, which in this case result in a predilection for simple pogo-punk riffs, steady drum beats you can only hear during guitar/bass breaks, and lyrics/vocals with more of a garage-rock feel to them. The production of both songs swings wildly. You won’t even know the bassist is there, the suddenly his banana-handed lines sprawl out over the arrangements like fine-pudding’d puke. As usual with this band, the guitar is rock-steady and Ramones-y. Purple vinyl, and a limited number of servings of it, so dine or your hopes of being right with punk will be dashed.




The relentless need to create. Gotta hit record. Don’t care about the chords and words. We’ll play what we mean and say what we think. It’s the epitome of rock and roll spirit, which launched itself to death from the broken window of the Four Seasons or wasted away in the dankness of Chateau Marmont sometime in the 70s. Punk was a defibrillator but three chords and youthful exuberance was DOA. It was dressed in the finest Goodwill patchwork as 90s youth apathetically paid it tribute when its corpse was basically carried around by Jonathan Silverman and Andrew McCarthy for 97 minutes (equivalent to 5 years in alterna-years). But the past is now buried under the mounds of pop and celebrity. There is no phoenix rising, just a new breed rallying around a new cause under the fallen’s flag. How Victoria’s Fountain fit is still being discovered, but a band with familiar angularity attuned to fellow Canadians Women and the hip mental aptitude to get out of a song like so few have understood, there’s a sense of a new blood claiming salted earth. Maybe there is still a pulse to be found somewhere, or perhaps it’s time to remember rock was never dead, just in and out of rehab. It’s all rather cliched but the singular ray of light streaming from Fountain will light the way to that trunk full of barbiturates and moonshine that will fuel a new era of caring.

Links: Fountain

M.A. Turner

Ranking Driver

[CS; Nostilevo]

M.A. Turner has high aspirations for Ranking Driver, meticulously building some awfully delicate structures considering how thirsty he often is for blood. There’s a section early on Side A that starts like a small light beaming through a tunnel’s maw then builds momentum until a warble of woozy effects smudges any trace away. Then follows a long, slo-mo rhythm. This is where the listener might start asking questions, as you can’t even tell if he’s in the rat-hole with you anymore. He always shows up though, lighting a match and shining it on parts of the cave you never knew existed. As crawls along there’s even a queer sense of melody afoot that lends the long form arrangements even more depth and heft. Look, my time is valuable and short: I’m not asking you to buy this tape. I’m telling you.

Links: Nostilevo



[CS; Revolution Winter]

As the Revolution Winter taught me over the last year or so, sometimes you have to look back to look ahead. Bands like Croweater understand this as they mine the best aspects of early Charles Bronson + power violence in general, Daniel Striped Tiger, and Pissed Jeans to form the core of what one can only dub madness bordering on maniacal. Seasick is an apt title for such an inherently messy tape. You’ll be grabbing onto rails, beams, people’s limbs; anything to steady yourself as the extreme rhythms, which exist as more an idea/dream than recorded reality once the other elements hit at full force by dint of the low fidelity, pound out a beat that’ll march you straight into the groaning depths of HELL. Speaking of which: It’s interesting to me how a conglomeration of obvious misfits like Croweater can fuck around and bring a tape as heavy as just about anything I’ve heard in the last year, as if metal never existed. Listen to Seasick a few times in a row and you just might believe it.

Links: Revolution Winter



[LP; Feeding Tube]

The idea of being a weirdo has been de-stigmatized many times over by now, but your average Joe/Jill who throws around the expression “I’m such a weirdo!” with ease would take one look at Asian Women On The Telephone (seriously, check out their Discogs page) and get all uptight and uppity, looking for an excuse to head for the exits. That’s where folks like yours truly come in. You see, once those assholes leave we take all the good seats and have the time of our goddamned lives. IVAN will never find its way to the ears of the many, which is all the more reason to celebrate their odd marches and surprisingly agile transitions into avant garde territory. Their confidence is jarring, bordering on unnerving, especially during those long stretches wherein the stage is set so deliberately you wonder if anything is going to happen. Then, a flash of purple psych dust is dropped atop, or a suffocating tunnel drone burrows its way through the simple drum-machine beat. JESUS CHRIST! Don’t assume you know what you’re going to get for the duration after imbibing the first track. There are snatches of gnarled coldwave, experimental, no-wave, electronic, post-punk, and much more to hold your much-appreciated attention. Stick around, splay your ears out, and marinate in Awott’s sweet lady-juices a bit. That’s it, smell it. It’s the only way you’ll get used to it.

Links: Awott

A Band Called Life

A Band Called Life

[7-inch; Alberts Basement]

Note to self: AVOID MENTIONING the outpouring of punk bands from Australia drenching the states in spittle. It’s been done, man, and then some. Come to think of it, don’t even mention A Band Called Life’s Aussie roots. Pretend they’re from N.Z., or even better, focus strictly on the next-level antics of ABCL and their self-titled single on Alberts Basement. Talk about how it’s the best experimental minimalist punk set you’ve heard since you first laid your ears on Pumice, or Babe, Terror, or Lemon Kittens (lol you LOVES to namedrop Lem-Kit you shithead); touch upon the dizzying guitar spiral, drunken shakers, hotel-front-desk bells, and general sense of horror that makes “Supine and Generative” tick like a timebomb; mention that what renders trashy music like this so valuable, almost despite itself, is the lack of care, as most who would endeavor to create a work such as “Everyone’s Trying to Kill Me” would end up tidying or scrapping the project entirely. In other words, how did they (or he, more appropriately) even know to stop? It’s easy to assume they’re weirdos and all that, because they are, but no one seems to consider how truly DIFFicult it is to LEAve something you’ve been working really HARd on alone when it, to most ears, would technically sound unFINished. Like “Everything’s Natural”; I totally would have fucked that song up. I would have cleaned up the boom-box vocals, formed the percussive elements into a cohesive whole, and set the synths to a consistent rhythm. I can’t even describe the evil I would do to this lovely piece of art, and I’m you! So don’t fuck this up Grant Purdum (I mean, that’s you’re real name; who the fuck is ‘Gumshoe’?); we’re all counting on you.

Links: Alberts Basement

Various Artists


[CS; NO]

Sometimes it’s hard to be a proud Hoosier. I spent 8 years in Seattle trying to wash its stink from me. The state’s in an odd position, as the old guard mounts one last charge to maintain its conservative grip on an emerging youth culture that is fine with homosexuality, perversion, and artistic endeavors. So it’s why labels such as No and their aptly titled NO! compilation stand as a testament not only to musicians young and old coming together in the name of community, but pushing Indiana forward one reluctant sycophant at a time. NO! boasts internationally known Bloomington residents (Drekka–who runs his own BlueSanct label–and John Flannelly, who has releases on favorite B-town ripper Auris Apothecary) and emerging noisemakers (NOON and Agakus). It’s a grand mixture of electronic experimentation, each with a different approach despite the collective umbrella. Most striking is Agakus’ “Last Reichs,” a literal collection of evil dialogue and not-so-distant warfare. It calls out to the old Indiana guard, who would sacrifice freedom and and openness for an atmosphere of unchanging fear. It’s a similar path blazed by each of these moody pieces; darkness is surrounding and in turn it is infecting the music. But what can be heard in each composition is the end of an era – the shroud being lifted and the world gifted a new frontier to explore. Be it in law or in melody, NO! raises the torch and lights the way forward.

Links: NO

Dante Augustus Scarlatti

Worship at the Throne of the Oscillator

[CS; Auris Apothecary]

It is a pleasure to get Worship at the Throne of the Oscillator in ahead of deadline because Dante Augustus Scarlatti has been a busy guy and I haven’t had the chance to document any of it here. THIS ENDS NOW! Scarlatti treads a nightmarish path between noise, soundtrack-y scenery, drone, and experimental stretches that may never be properly defined by genre, and as crazy as it makes me feel about the future I’ve probably described hundreds of tapes the same way. But that’s what’s happening. It’s all a mish-mash, and it’s glorious at times in the hands of this young thug who instills a curious sense of soul into his all-out mega-blasts against the Chondritic audio hell that made him the man he is today. I can’t say with surety that you won’t get hurt on your journey to worship the most evil oscillator I’ve yet encountered, but I can assert for certain that you’ll learn a hell of a lot about yourself. A whisper in the noise will be the least of your problems when the blackened hordes of Scarlatti’s imagination converge upon you like knights in the dim night. EXecute them, master.

Links: Auris Apothecary


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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.