[CS; Already Dead Tapes]

Tapers is a duo doing a deep dub reggae-inflected… something on this release. I can’t quite call it one specific genre or style, but at the same time it’s not unrecognizable by any stretch. But the soothing, breathing nature of the production will temper any kind importance attached to the of grasping such trivialities anyway: Tapers makes a hammock-swaying type of cassette tape here with Text, swooshing in samples and effects atop a set of gently rolling undertones that stand strong out in front. Headphones reveal the true deepness of it all, even some whispering vocals buried under the mounds of bass, making Side A especially immersive. Side B turns the mix to more of a mournful tone with a piano refrain haunted with swirling, ghostly noises hovering close by, although on the whole things keep quite pretty and soothing. There’s also some field recordings and a number of different instruments used on the album… but nothing especially confrontational or too committal here, just sheer niceness for the most part, Text acting like an off-switch for your brain, perfect if all that crazy everything else in your life has you just way too wound up for your own good – a pretty impressive feat for a record that really has a lot going on to be giving the notions of such ease and simplicity.

Links: Tapers - Already Dead Tapes


Let’s Hang Out

[LP; Rural Isolation Project]

I can’t remember; is it good not to be able to hear what’s going on in a song? Oh yeah, it is, we learned that through Psychic Paramount and Guardian Alien, did we not? Now that we’ve got that settled, allow me to present Quttinirpaaq, perhaps the only band with jams – and a moniker – even sloppier than Tonstartssbandht at their crustiest. But truth be told I’ve dealt with these Quttinirpaaqians before, and they will gnarl on your ear-bone like a rottweiler on a hunk of man-meat. Let’s Hang Out isn’t a go-through-the-motions proposition. You have to invest in what they’re doing or their sinewy ghost-chops will float right past you. ‘Round the end of Side A there’s a section that sorta sounds like I thought Cold Cave were going to sound like, before I actually heard them (and was disappointed). This Karps out just a bit, too, and it’s been wayyy too long since I thoughta that band, so thank you, Qutt-Qutt, for the privilege. Dare I mention Neptune, as well? (Yep, think I’d better.) This record, on clear-with-red-splatter wizard-wax, is… a mighty fine record! Ho-ho-ho muh-fucka; 300 copies.

Links: Quttinirpaaq

Dissipated Face with Daniel Carter

Live at CBGB 1986

[7-inch; Roaratorio]

Though the Lower East Side and places like Downtown Brooklyn seem quite sterilized at this point, a quarter-century ago they were far less so, and continued to give rise to a healthy scobe of musical-artistic collision. In 1986, punk had already burned out; so had no wave and post-punk (mostly). Free jazz and improvised music were still a going concern though with the dissolution of the lofts, the presentation of that music was once again a bit more underground. But in those spaces between musical foments and the critical hurry to document, groups appear to get done the business of making art.

In the mid-1980s, Dissipated Face were one of a number of groups weaned on New Music Distribution Service catalogs, cut-out bins, and ready to occupy something of a vacuum. Punk rock, prog, free jazz, funk, modern composition and Downtown art scum were all part of the landscape and exactly what went into their melting pot. Consisting of guitarist Kurt “Hologram” Ralske and Stephen “X. Dream” Popkin and Ben “Face” Munves trading off bass, vocals and drums, their approach ranged from cut-throat punk slop to unhinged bluesy sleaze (the wonderfully bizarre “Streets Of New York” with its hardcore breakdowns). The guest appearance of alto saxophonist Daniel Carter on these four archival cuts recorded live at CBGB in 1986 adds an extra dose of fire to the proceedings. A regular in the groups of bassist-composer William Parker and a fixture in the New York free jazz environment since the mid-70s, his jubilant squall nudges Ralske’s wiry, feedback-drenched statements to unbridled heights. Given more room to stretch it would be interesting to hear what these players could accomplish, but the seven-inch format gives these tracks an extreme urgency, as though if one blinked the music’s gifts would be lost. Thanks are due to Minneapolis’ Roaratorio Records for releasing this snapshot (replete with Raymond Pettibon artwork) of an ecstatic DIY moment.

Links: Roaratorio


Future Machines

[LP; These Are Not Records]

It’s dangerous to start off a calendar year with a record like Future Machines because I’m not sure if it can possibly get better from here on out. Kösmonaut, their moniker teasing a kraut/prog sensibility, surge so far beyond the borders of that ridiculous genre it’s sick, approaching space from the opposite end of equally inventive bands like Kraus. Or maybe Mudboy commandeered the Star Trek Enterprise and set his phasers to ‘arpeggiate’ (I hope DeForrest reads this). Or maybe Popol Gluant got ahold of some new machines and built a new city, THIS city, on prog ‘n’ roll. Or maybe Patrick R. Pärk is the John Zorn of future-prog and is just getting started (though he’s already held auditions via Deep Distance and an imprint of his own). I DON’T KNOW. I DON’T KNOW. I even feel like there’s a pinch of Demdike Stare, minus the beats, tucked in here like a mini-baggy of heroin in Jonah Hill’s sweet ass. Spectrum Spools/Emeralds/etc. and OPN too. My head is spinning a bit, and the presentation of Future Machines, as with other These Are Not Records releases I’ve detailed in this section, is flawless enough to virtually guarantee its 250 copies, 100 on blood-red wax, will be jettisoned imminently. (Spoiler alert: There also appears to be a full-length from Landing on the TANR horizon; be ready.)

Links: Kösmonaut


Battered Sphinx


I’ve flipped this one over so many damned times I have no idea what’s side A and what’s side B anymore. Not that it especially matters, nor is that to say that each doesn’t have a unique set of textures and weirdo non-forms of its own. Indeed, as the minutes tick past throughout my work day (what time is it anyway?) and I continue to keep this tape in my Walkman, Ahnnu creeps forward with his mutant, constantly mutating meta-world of free jazz, hip hop, pitter-patters of peripheral noise and ambient music. It all coalesces into a twinkling star on my horizon: the end of the day is just a few more flips away (I think). Yes, there’s a brief light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope to be found within the cloudy misery of my miserable, cloudy day. Battered Sphinx glides along an oil slick and bubbles like a boiling tar pit. It bleeds maple syrup and … and it’s been drinking. Tones yawn and stretch like they’re waking up after a night of heavy clubbing (at the club, or actually being clubbed in the head with a club – either works), eyes blinking open like they’re coming out of a cough medicine-coma. And while I sit here and try my hardest to figure out the significance of a title like “Battered Sphinx,” Ahnnu’s representation of the beaten effigy is all cigarette smoke curling around pianos and double basses, which leaves my massaged brain tired and confused. Best to leave the symbolic significance stuff to Ahnnu I guess and enjoy this dose of cosmic relaxation for what it really is: One nice, nice dose of cosmic relaxation.

Links: Ahnnu - NNA


Looping Around the Forest I Thought I Remembered

[CS; Constellation Tatsu]

Embrace the embryonic, naturalistic ease of Hakobune. Every time I come back to the Japanese master of tranquility, I feel more childlike and less stressed. But Looping is much more than a meditative mantra or a momentary attempt at recapturing lost youth. With similar run times, each song speaks to our inner rhythms, helping to concentrate unparalleled thoughts into similar streams of consciousness. We can begin to notice the patterns of our routine and then begin to stretch them thin. Looping is about finding the details in our larger picture, breaking our habits to see what we’ve been missing. It’s a subtle trick Hakobune has played on more than 30 releases. It’s been training for this; the time when our patience and practice can be honed to spot those integral moments beyond our peripheral. It’s been a gentle coax from Takahiro Yorifuji, carefully crafting an identity and tone. But now we must pay attention to everything around us, for letting it go to waste not only sours our relationship with this broken cassette, but with the shattered reality we’ve neglected for too long. The sun rise; the falling dew; the frolicking deer; the flat tire, the busted gasket; the missed mortgage payment; the sick and the hungry – it’s all part of our beautiful world and with focus we can understand it. With Looping, we can better it.

Links: Hakobune - Constellation Tatsu

tooth ache.

Flash & Yearn

[LP; Feeding Tube]

I was ready to pitch my review-tent for the night when a lovely female voice, in the form of Tooth Ache (Why do I feel the need to say ‘female’? I don’t know.) begged me to stay. And I did, through the entire Flash & Yearn LP, and now I’m convinced she’s the princess from Neverending Story, encased in crystal and the glorious synth-peggios of the past. Hearing this witch house-tinted journey unfold, I figure: Soft Metals but better, or: This is where Portishead might have gone, had they taken shit seriously after those first few records and kept at it. Alexandria Hall dominates every song with her vocals and I don’t hear any reason why she shouldn’t, despite the quality of the arrangements. We’ve all heard a lot of synth programs over the last few years so I’m not gonna recommend it unless it’s top of the line. It’s sort of like an Editions Mego solo keyboard album fronted by a sexy chick. That’s totally reductive but doesn’t it sound kinda good?

Links: Feeding Tube

Sound Out Light


[CS; Golden Cloud Tapes]

Some more spacey Krautronic explorations from Golden Cloud Tapes, this cassette features the synth work of Mr. Dave Doyen, who’s one of the three weirdos you’ll hear yammering about the latest fringe tapes on Tabs Out’s famed podcast. Nice to hear some tunes from any one of these guys (Vales is another associated project), but especially nice that these particular tunes are so… well, just plain nice. Smooth, sweet tones on Side A, a plethora of them stacking themselves up uniformly while at the same time bleeding down into one another, a melting pot of beautiful melody that results in a wide, expansive field of audio. There’s no friction here, like riding a million mile an hour treadmill through outer space, and just as scenic a voyage as that sounds like it should be. Side B breaks things up a bit melodically to offer more repetitive patterns that lay the ground work for electro-zap noodling. The second number on this half scrolls into some deeply hypnotic and troubling zones, psychedelic not exactly in a “bad” way, but in a “I don’t fucking trust whatever drug I just took” way. Circuit boards stutter and sputter on the periphery as some slinky lines slither and weave gingerly around one another, a cosmic dance for the ages. Excellent mind-warpage at work here, Doyen hits on a lot of different moods while maintaining a fairly uniform voice. It’s a little curious that things wind down with “Capsule,” one of the creepier numbers, since the tape has so many other lovely moments that might round things out a little cleaner. Still, one of the best in exclusively modular synth works that I’ve come across in recent months.

Links: Sound Out Light - Golden Cloud Tapes



[CS; Drone Warfare]

In the span of a 60 Minutes feature, drones have transformed from frightening machines bent on privacy invasion and destruction of the Axis into getting our online shopping fix in 30 minutes or less. Considering the middle ground home to three-piece Juche. Where consumerism delight and chaotic espionage intersect is where the band’s Drone Warfare released self-titled exists. A place hacking contemporary melody for intelligence purposes, before reshaping it into popular culture spies to test the marketplace for interest beyond typical E! fodder. Juche embodies a style of attack tackling what is currently accepted and what could be accepted, if only delivered in a cute but potentially vengeful package. Juche is broken neon lights, wafts of nostalgic tinges from rolled down car windows and loud radios, and the beautifully wasted energy of youth. The only bombs dropped from this are revelatory: those “if I knew then what I know now” missives. But you’re never too old and Juche is never too beholden to ideas of the past. So order the tape, having it delivered unmanned via the current, and countdown as you press play for an explosion that will lead to a utopia of consumer delights rather than a dystopia of carnal devolution.

Links: Juche - Drone Warfare



[CS; Singapore Sling]

Although I very much want to use the word “Zany” to describe what Erasurehead does on this new cassette, that word is just a little too… quick. It’s too fast, too zippy – A. Cooper Reid, the Nor’Easter’ bedroom song writer, harnesses the colorful, carefree spirit of a classic Saturday morning cartoon and mutes it, slows it way down to a comfortable and comforting lope. The result is something scratched and sepia-tinged with a deep voice burying unintelligible vocals inside lovesick melodies between circuit-bent segues of noise that glue the tunes together.

Moonwort is indeed pleasantry that takes some pains to fully appreciate as the songs feel like they’re wrapped up in wool blankets, smothered and searching for air. At the same time, it’s tough to say that this would be any better with a crystal clear, clean air to it. The tape’s inherent pollution gives the songs their own unique charm that is sweet and endearing in their self-suffocation. For when that Erasurehead cracks a smile and those pearly whites do gleam through the dingy surface, the sweetness is enough of a hook to reel any able-bodied eardrum in for repeated listens. Yet another winner for Russian imprint Singapore Sling, which produced not a single dud in all the tapes I wrangled from their catalog in 2013 – a perfect, essential addition to their knockout series of lo-fi pop releases from others like Nose Bleed Island, Sam Gas Can, and Travel Kyoto.

Links: Erasurehead - Singapore Sling

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.