[CS; Holodeck]

The driving drum and clatter introduction of Ruleth reminds me of the urban gothic subcultural, best brought to American audience through old John Carpenter films and the work of Xander Harris. It’s a genre littered with posed moments of horror and anxiety but somehow ssleeperhold make it a positive experience rather than a nightmarish chase in which we run slower and slower until the clock or a palpitation wakes us. The 70s and 80s are all over Ruleth–but not in the Big Bang Boom of tossed aside demographic catering. This rings of a lost childhood, one where Freddy Krueger is the hero, eliminating the youthful minds of treasonous, doubting children in a world that needs optimism. It’s a happy grim, where there is no moral or fleshy decay, just a horror figure (pick your favorite) doing what is right to correct the course of a planet tilting toward disaster. We could have eliminated big hair caused by chlorofluorocarbons in hair spray. We could have stifled the industrial military complex. We could have seen Weekend at Bernie’s as the early battle cry in support of reanimation. ssleeperhold is all of that wrapped up in a Sandman’s worth of crusty eye flakes. The world could have been better had we only picked up a machete of love and whacked away the weeds of [Andrew] McCarthyism 20 years ago.

Links: Holodeck

Edward Ka-Spel

This Saturated Land

[CS; Tolmie Terrapin]

Man, who knew that to drown was such a beautiful way to die? And Ka-Spel’s latest is that: Dying, drowning. Cold and wet, submerged in the briny deep, the endless blue. An ocean of tears? Nah, I don’t think This Saturated Land is all that depressing or serious, or really even that emotional. No no, the legendary Legendary Pink Dots legend merely found the beauty in an especially rainy summer day. And it killed him, it was beautiful, and we can hear all that now on this tape. It starts with an especially chilly passage of what sounds like woodwinds, a foreshadow of winter’s frigid future, before things really set into a groove with the sunken centerpiece that is “A Beautiful Pea Green Boat,” the album’s real gem. It’s a lengthier work, washed out in bleeding pastel colors putting you six feet under the water’s surface. And it flows around you, and you’re there floating face-up so that the sunshine can streak through and warm your face, and you don’t breathe because you can’t and it doesn’t matter because you forget to anyway. It’s just gorgeous, harrowing but comforting, and when it’s over and the voice on the ham radio chimes in as it does, “…are you receiving me?”— like you’re on your way up to heaven — it’s almost a disappointment, and the stabbing synths in the conclusion that follows, “Always October,” makes for a gruesome, mystifying finish. Yeah sure, dying was great, but death? Let’s go back to dying… and let’s do that forever.

Links: Edward Ka-Spel - Tolmie Terrapin

Division Four

1983 Demo Cassette

[12-inch; Smartguy]

Thirty years too late, yet right on time: 1983 Demo Cassette demonstrates yet again what the smartguys out there already know – Australians play punk with a plug-ugly edge, not to mention abandon, that transcends most other nations. Division Four foster an approach from which comparisons to PIL are inevitably going to arise. That being said, the thick synth lines and shaggy dedication to rhythm throw the formula into arrears it can’t repay, and it leads to a lot of strangely rewarding moments. Picture this: A buzz of effects and synth are laid directly overtop a lead vocal that was meant to be heard. Then machine-gun keys erupt in the background briefly then never return, as if these guys were just sitting around jumping from distraction to distraction. Very quirky, and occasionally so spot-on you’ll swear you’ve heard it before somehow, somewhere. But you haven’t. At the very least, seek out “Blank Prostitutes” and hear half of the Atoms Of Peace synth lines 30 years in advance. Too late, yet right on time, bitch.

Links: Smartguy

Black Deer

Black Deer

[12-inch; Peak Oil]

From the label that released a slightly ignored Liz Harris & Lawrence English collaboration album comes another sure to be under the radar effort from William Burnett. As Black Deer (this better be a parody name of all the color/animal names cluttering up Spotify playlists), Burnett has created an energetic, spastic piece of electronic prog that obliterates the overcrowded space synth crowd from their luxury galactic cruiser. But I’m loathe to follow this space metaphor any longer; Black Deer may seem otherworldly but in fact it is quite grounded despite its alien appearance. Though it pulses with the energy of a thousand unseen suns, it is psychedelic sheen and grounded melodies keep it driving across the equator in search of earthly mystical sites of power rather than those of Hawking and Sagan. And that’s how I like it because I’m tired of the jet lag. I’m a road warrior and Burnett has given me the juice to hit the gas pedal and find my own fountain of youth. He’s delivered the diving gear to finally discover Atlantis. This is more than just an escape from reality, it’s the first in a hopeful serious of getting-back-in-touch with our world albums.

Links: Peak Oil


Sounds That Look Like Us

[12-inch; Revolution Winter]

I’ll say this about the batch of Revolution Winter Records product I received: The label doesn’t play games. That much is obvious enough now that Shahman’s Sounds That Look Like Us is etched firmly into my mind. A coffee ground-gritty manifestation of the ideas Refused never got around to exploring, Shah push even further into the void of Lack-style hardcore and punch harder than a fruit juice box. What’s exceptional about Sounds is the delicate nature of the quieter interludes, in that they lose absolutely no momentum once the louder sections melt away. It’s a quality reserved for the best (Drive Like Jehu, etc.) and I don’t take it lightly. At 45 RPMs the audio roars from the speakers as well. The cymbals get a bit too up close and personal but hey the drummer’s playing too loud at times! Fuck it, I’m done; the revolution will be mostly listened to.

Links: Revolution Winter



[3-inch CD-R; Beko]

OK, the German Army “family tree” thing has grown yet another branch, further entrenching your humble Strauss into something that I fully believe is OK to call a “universe” at this point. These people have seriously taken over the Cerberus feed of late, so sorry if you’re having trouble realizing how great these mysterious beings are, and also you’re welcome, by the way, for continually bashing the notion into your skull. Gumshoe’s gotten all the recent good cracks, so it’s my turn since I got this smart little impossible-to-pronounce 3-inch from French label Beko in the mail. One half of the enigmatic sludge-ravers comes up for air on this one with a clearer, cleaner sort of sound. Though the voice is still shrouded with reverb and delay, the synths themselves beam lighter and brighter and the beats, they snap, crackle and pop with some real tempos to them. The songs quiver and shake with life, dark dance tunes made for frigid temperatures, complete with a shivering vocalist and feverish hooks to get the goose bumps going. If you were on the fence about Germany Army and were maybe looking for something that tipped the scales a bit more on the pop side of things, q///q is probably the closest you’re gonna get… which is close enough, trust. You’re reading Cerbs, after all, I mean did you expect this to be completely normal? You saw all the stuff about this being one half of German Army, right?

Links: Beko

Cairo Pythian

Unity Mitford

[12-inch; Perennial]

It’s fucking insane how close a lot of Unity Mitford comes to “Save a Prayer”-era Duran Duran, and it’s also a bit fucking insane how appealing this update to the sound can be. Cairo Pythian leave the listener no wiggle room; you HAVE to dig “Jaguar Music” if you have a morsel of life left in your brittle bones. Were the 80s even this… quality? I’m not so sure. “Walking Around” is a remix, and like most remixes it feels forced and a little tacky, yet jam it on a dancefloor and watch the magic. YEAH, baby, YEAH!!?! “Spider Life” represents the longest artistic reach, and if woozy flutes loops aren’t a deal-breaker for you maybe the lollygagging tempo will be. Just to be clear, however, you’d be wrong to be so flippant. Unity Mitford saves more souls than it reaps, and that’s all you can ask of a four-song EP. Exciting things are afoot, I’m guessing.

Links: Cairo Pythian - Perennial

Silly Goose

Silly Goose

[7-inch; End of Time]

To think of Blink-182 as any sort of nostalgic act, let alone one that a member of Carissa’s Wierd would be endorsing with a covers project under the guise of Silly Goose. Whether the best elaborate joke Seattle can produce or a genuine testament to pop punk gone global, we stand face to face with an article of wax that is as plain and stripped as the loose collective’s take on those hazy, crazy days when we were being told of the pains of growing up amid in-jokes of sodomy and masturbation. Of course, that was also true of Green Day. And Ween. And Korn. And basically any 90s band that could fit a tight metaphor for sexual exploits into 3 minutes of prurient pop. So to Silly Goose and their pro-Blink agenda—as we sit here atop our Best New Throne and hail only the most obscure among releases as those worth hearing because pretentiousness suits us–we shall refrain and tell you to pick this up for a funhouse mirror view of a band that we will never appreciate but so what? Good music, even in cover form, is still good–and perhaps proof that the speed at which the original “Dammit” is played is much harder to pull off than one imagines.

Links: End of Time

Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch

Classic Glass

[LP; Tonk]

Classic Glass is such a dippy record but its boundless pop energy eventually broke through my defenses despite my fairly intense reservations. Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch (why not just a simple band name? fuck man) flaunt fuzzy-fun chops as they explore the haunts no one is even thinking of traversing these days. Which is why I refuse to pass this one into the burnout pile. It believes in rock and/or roll, deep in its carefree soul, and who am I to argue with that? That’s above my pay grade, Wilbur. What’s more, I truly believe there are times when Graham and his wacky bunch hit upon a plane higher than your typical young-guy-tinkering-around level. It’s not all the time, mind you. If these puppies want to go anywhere in this crowded climate they’re going to have to whittle their songs down and fill their expensive-to-produce LPs with nothing but the straight-butter. Until then, however, Classic Glass represents a decent swipe at something that was probably unattainable anyway, so I can’t fault them for trying. Hints of Elephant 6, too, if that means anything to anyone these days.

Links: Tonk


Intergalactic Letdown

[CS; Teen River, Lillerne]

In the recent tradition of Chicago tape-gazers comes a new band of echoed ghosts called Tereshkova with one of the most depressingly-uplifting albums to come out in years. Years, I tells ya. Intergalactic Letdown might be the most inspired sack of sorries in Bummer Town, everything trudging not only through generally slow tempos (although “Downtown” is a helluva burner), but downtrodden and exceedingly minor chord progressions. This is music that, though it does have a wispy, see-through air to it with melodies hovering all up in a hazy cloud, ends up weighing more than a semi-truck on Jupiter. There are keys, guitars, bass, drums, and vocals on this, but stripped-down arrangement styles make it seem more like the effects pedals are the real instruments or band members. That is, tunes aren’t defined so much by the chords as they are by all that tremolo and distortion piled on top of everything, all of it giving Intergalactic Letdown real mass and gravity. It’s an odd mix, somewhat unbalanced for sure, nearly tipping over with the effects all but hiding the actual songs themselves. But it doesn’t tip over, and those beautiful songs really do get their chance to shine through the thick panes of glass, producing pure rainbows on the other side. Early Yo La Tengo comes to mind, Beat Happening, Jesus & Mary Chain, twee as a style in general – that good, yes. One of the best albums of the year – yes. Sometimes I fear these little 300-word Cerberus posts are dooming these very good, very important releases to a cassette-chic category they might not be able to break out of, so let’s hope like hell that doesn’t happen here. There’s more great stuff out there, so cheer up indie-kid. Or don’t, whatever.

Links: Tereshkova - Teen River, Lillerne


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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.