Kenichi Matsubara & S. Terishima

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

[CS; Auris Apothecary]

I once had a difficult time separating video games from real life. I recall an instance as a child, waking up in a fever dream and imagining myself unable to jump over the toadstool barriers of Super Mario Bros. 2; the hallway as claustrophobic as the screen on which the game was contained. It was the simplicity of the time: achieving a singular objective through a straight course of action. Then I was gifted Simon’s Quest and my real world and gaming world came crashing together, the shift of night and day in the game as real as the conscious of my mind. It sounds all drugged and psychedelic but before you get turned on by paper, you get turned on by fantasy and reality intermingling. The back-and-forth of Simon’s Quest felt like everyday life, replacing medial tasks and schoolwork with the pieces of Dracula in order to reassemble and kill (once and for all! yeah right) the mythical ghoul. Now vampires are sexy (why would we dare kill them?) and the music of Simon’s Quest has become embedded in my steps in even adulthood. The jolly daytime romp of rollicking through the city, the adrenaline surge of a nighttime cursed with foul creatures both mythical and all-too-real. And now it plays from a busted car stereo or the abandoned tape player hung from a hook in my shed. Days of chore and repetition given new life by the soundtrack of dusk and death. If that juxtaposition is too deep for those unfamiliar with video games, let this music (and hell, even the 8-bit cartridge from wince it was born) be thy shepherd into blending the best of fantasy into real life. Worry about the consequences later, when you’re searching for a red crystal.

Links: Kenichi Matsubara & S. Terishima - Auris Apothecary

Outer Gods

Beneath the Marred and Blackened Hand

[CS; Big Blonde]

It’s a world-beater attitude under the current of Beneath the Marred and Blackened Hand. I’m reminded of Stone Temple Pilot’s “Creep,” not only because of the wounded hand visual seeping across the planes of time, but because of a particular concert incident more than a decade ago. A young man was feeling up a woman at a STP show, Weiland stopped, shamed the guy (who was also beaten up by the woman) and dedicated “Creep” to anyone un-cool enough to grope women and not take the same amount of heroin as he. What has this to do with Outer Gods and their tape, which just so happens to speak to a mangled limb? Why not a Johnny Tremain or even a Johnny Knoxville reference? Point is, the seething anger of that poor young woman and her reaction, to take back the power and beat up the loser, is the sound of BTMABH. This tape seethes, teeters, and pounces. Its organic screeches and telepathic fireballs to heinous acts is a sound worth basking and channeling. No one should have to go through life scared or angry, so let Outer Gods give you the release and courage to do what needs to be done. Whether that’s putting a dolt in his place or fixing our planet, it’s your choice. Just do it to this tape. Don’t let its appearance fool you. It’s uplifting and victorious over the lords of evil.

Links: Outer Gods - Big Blonde

Simon Joyner

A Rag of Colts: Disgraced Songs 1987-2012

[CS; Unread]

Rag of Colts: Disgraced Songs 1987-2012 is downcast but never self-pitying. Still: Good fuckin’ god, Simon Joyner is a sad bastard. He makes Micah P. Hinson sound like Casey Casem, and this particular collection of tunes plays that side of him up, particularly the long, Texas-style expanse on Side B that’s nothing but plains and drought as far as the eye can see. With every year that passes in my semi-long life I appreciate more the pleasures of hearing a veteran songwriter perform unfettered. It ain’t perfect, but it wouldn’t be no good if it was. “Goodbye to My Loving You,” a tribute to Lou Reed ostensibly, kicks off Rag of Colts so strikingly you wonder how Joyner’s going to follow it, and while the cuts that proceed don’t quite hit the same high, they’re roughly in the same ballpark. Guy-and-guitar win again, against the odds.

Links: Simon Joyner - Unread



[CS; Brave Mysteries]

I wonder what my life would have been like had I been born in a different time or place. These thoughts aren’t birthed from regret or out of past decisions gone awry, but out of curiosity of eras and nations I will never know. It’s why when I die, I hope there is a heaven and it allows me to have remote control access to God’s DVR–no commercials, just eternal marathons of our history and our future. I want to know it all; to breath, taste, feel, and understand my minute place on an overcrowded planet always willing to cut off its nose to spite its face. I have no idea if Connor Camburn has the same thoughts, but his self-titled cassette as Litüus makes me think we share a similar thought pattern as it concerns the everything of nothingness. These lengthy compositions juxtapose various underground influences into a hopper of post-industrial soup. But Camburn’s restraint–unlike the frenzied forwarding and rewinding of my death dream–is what allows Litüus a clarity my vision lacks. It is not concerned with absorbing every piece for personal consumption but rather transmits history as it happened and as it will occur into rumbling works of European-based noise. Extinct languages, forgotten tribes, paradises fallen into the sea–Litüus is a warbling tomb of these things I yearn to see but will never know.

Links: Brave Mysteries


Best Of

[CS; Sanity Muffin]

Yikes, black metal on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon? You bet your bleak balls I’m listening to and reviewing a “best of” tape from this obscure French dark ambient sorcerer, and by God (wait… wrong deity entirely) I like it. Honestly, I have no background or authority on stuff like this, but Moëvöt seems weird enough to the point that it shouldn’t really make a difference. This fellow Vórdb Báthor Ecsed was the leader of a French subculture called Les Légions Noires in the 90s, which was born of the working class and rose in response to a similar Norwegian legion of black metal heroes like Burzum. History aside, what I’m hearing is one of the creepiest spooks in recent memory. But to call this “metal” in the traditional sense is a stretch, since Moëvöt leans toward ambient, acoustic instrumentation and atmospherics while maintaining that sinister scare black metal is generally able to conjure, just without all the electric power. Minor chords plunked out of keyboards in cascading arpeggios, strung thin from mournful viola and cello voices, and haunted with hovering ghosts of falsetto harmony. Match that with the growl of a human whose blood has obviously been curdled at least once (likely twice) and you’re getting there. It all smelts down into a trippy and dizzying fright fest made for moonlit graveyard walks at midnight, yet maintains a strong, really striking sense of black rose’d beauty. Hard to deny the sheer awesomeness of the music, incredibly affecting and powerful in its own right, but the tape leaves something to be desired beyond the compositions or intriguing back-history of this project. A track-listing would have been helpful (or at least interesting) and the sounds are often a bit blown out, which could either be an issue with the original recordings or the levels cranked a bit hot whilst dubbing. Elsewise, if the dark ambient style be to your liking, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better collection of this type of music in 2013, on cassette tape or otherwise.

Links: Moëvöt - Sanity Muffin

Asa Irons

Knife Gift Debt

[12-inch; Turned Word]

There’s a limited-to-70 version of this (pictured) and a larger run, so take your pick (you know what to do). Asa Irons, also of Feathers, plays earnest folk-rock with a spiritual edge to it or, more appropriately perhaps, mystical. He extremely confident in his lyrical style, too, breaking the accompaniment off for long stretches and seemingly following his every whim. You used to be able to find bands like this under your sink, but most of them got rich or quit/grew old/moved to a scene I’m not able to follow. As such, I’m in a particularly receptive mood regarding the intriguingly named Knife Gift Debt, even when the mandolin solos go on for a long-ass time. It’s a super-dramatic set of songs that gains momentum, dangles it in front of your face, then pulls it away without a thought. The rich instrumentation and group vocal melodies, when the sun hits them right, work wonders; you’ll get lost in the moment.

Links: Asa Irons - Turned Word

Thee Tsunamis

A Goodbad Man is Hard to Find

[CS; Magnetic South]

Forget Thee Tsunamis are three beautiful women. Forget the band’s affiliation with the retro-vibes of Southern Indiana. It’s best to forget all pretense and expectations, because A Goodbad Man is Hard to Find is the sort of gnarly, dirty rock and roll the Dum Dum Girls wish they could engage. Elements of classic bubblegum and surf rock feel warm and familiar, wrapping themselves around the tape’s best cornerstones (“Way Out West,” “Goner,” “Pussy Cat”) but the punky urgency of Betsy’s vocals and the country feedback cool of Sharlene’s drumming and Josie’s bass feel new and electric. It’s easy to forget music is expression, and though many scoff at borrowing from the past, Thee Tsunamis do just that without outright stealing. This isn’t some skinny tattooed charlatan reciting GG Allin or a college professor hitting on the sensitive sorority sister with words from edward estlin, just honest observations translated through the simplest motions: those of the hips on the stage of the dance floor. Now you can remember Thee Tsunamis as three pretty ladies and their good-time pals and realize they don’t live in the shadow of any of it. They do their own thing; at their own pace, and before you know what’s happened you’ll be caught in the wave. Call it what you like, just recognize good music when it washes over you.

Links: Magnetic South

La Monte Young

The Second Dream of the High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer


The lowdown on this La Monte Young tape: This is a bootleg cassette distributed by Oakland tape label Sanity Muffin. The tape was made in Italy, carries with it no label and all 77 minutes of music from this masterpiece composed in 1962 as performed by The Theater of Eternal Music Brass Ensemble in 1984. For those of you familiar with La Monte Young, you likely have an idea of what this sounds like: A group of trumpets with harmon mutes droning out pitch relationships with slight deviations in tone to produce warm consonance from seemingly grating disharmonies while opening up inter-dimensional psych-portals. For those of you not familiar with La Monte Young: This tape sounds like everything I just typed. And for everyone reading this: A friendly reminder that this piece of music, once only available on the compact disc format that now auctions in the hundreds, is a steal at seven smackers from Sanity Muffin. Nice release… a little hard to read the liner notes, which we’re told have been abridged for this issue of the piece, but a good excuse nonetheless to zone out with some excellent minimal classical music and get in a little research time on a legend while you’re at it.

Links: La Monte Young

Rollin Hunt

The Phoney

[LP; Moniker]

Rollin Hunt is the sort of happy sad sack that has a keen eye for spelling out the most mundane and making it seem magical with lovely flourishes and demur melodies. The Phoney is a dichotomy of emotions and remembrances that evokes Jon Brion (another mention in Cerberus!) in the apocalypse. Maybe a more put-together Ariel Pink without the urge to destroy good work. The sing-song of Hunt is comfort music, knowing that what we take as everyday behavior is the same shit everyone else is going through. If you don’t believe Hollywood Celebrity hates their clothes, has down days, and would rather crawl under the covers–well, you’re likely right. But their assistants and dog walkers have the same issues and face the same dilemmas we do. And Hunt is there to capture them all and give ‘em back to us in a manner we can understand: singing our problems out until they make sense. Shun the CD version of grab this limited white vinyl, not because it’s hip but because it’ll make you feel more trapped by rent, bills, and expenses as it spins in your dimly lit apartment with few pieces of furniture. One day you’ll get that dining room table and a sofa but for now a coffee table and derelict dumpster chair will do. Gotta have those tunes and a lonely existence.

Links: Rollin Hunt - Moniker

The National Park System

A Visitor’s Guide

[12-inch; Lo Bit Landscapes]

Is this what Supersystem were supposed to sound like after they branched out from El Guapo and failed to live up to the legacy? National Park System remind me of Psychobuildings and King God, but they will remind you of, you guessed it, the 1980s. The two Side A cutz bring it pretty gosh-darn hard and will make you yell OH MY HECK (had cousins in Utah), dressed in the daze of fluttering synths and imaginative soundscapes. “Sad and Fucked (Not Moving)” walks along the ocean shore like that super-old M83 stuff used to, and decides to stay for picnic. Hey, where am I goin’, know what I mean? I’m confused by “Flying Penguin,” though. It’s too lounge-y to pass the smell test. I’m sure there’s someone in Brooklyn who would tell me I’m wrong. I just gotta be me. Nice thick vinyl, 45 RPM speed for the hearing-fortunate.

Links: Lo Bit Landscapes

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.