Zac Nelson

Toward Your Own Worlds

[CS; Field Hymns]

Zac Nelson may be an unfamiliar name, but the dude known as Hexlove and as one-half of aural assault freakout Chll Pll literary takes a chill pill under his given name. Towards Your Own Worlds is Nelson’s most beautiful work to date, eschewing seizure-inducing syncopation for carefully layered calm. The cassette is a practice in meditation, channeling good vibes through subtle drones and droll rhythms. “Labendolla” channels early Honey Owens, an eerie but hopeful minimalism. “Borne By Tropical Waves Within Their Foamy Bosom” is a rolling composition, a true exploration of Nelson’s many influences being slowed by the oncoming Ice Age. Towards Your Own Worlds is cinematic in both scope and delivery, a laser-focused finale to the jittery beginning of Nelson’s career as he transitions to more mature but equally exciting work. Toward Your Own Worlds may be the product of maturity, but Nelson proves it only in the practice, not in dulling his imagination.

Links: Field Hymns

Plante

Harvest

[12-inch; Fedora Corpse]

Plante’s Harvest isn’t what you’d normally expect from a 45-RPM 12-er, as it takes half a lifetime to build momentum and depends on glacial modes to enchant the ever-lit listener (if you’re the hyper type, you won’t have time for this, is what I’m sayin’). It rips on low, guttural churn like most other Fedora Corpse releases and drifts to the tune of Lanterna, Neil Young’s soundtrack to Dead Man and countless other movie accompaniments, yr standard Kranky-ites, and Eluvium (but with guitar serving as the focal point), reflecting eternity like early, minimal Locrian held up to clear water. While Harvest is an effective campaign, it leaves me wanting more. A 2xLP can’t be far behind. Lovely glass-colored vinyl and a nice, limited press wrap up the package. Another nice cadaver from Fedora Corpse.

Links: Fedora Corpse

Greg Davis

States (3)

[CS; Draft]

Spread across a few labels, Greg Davis’ States series has been warming cockles for much of 2011, and though 2012 is upon us, we must rectify the mistake of not speaking of these wonderful releases. So we catch up with the ‘third’ installment, which yields parts 5 and 6 of Davis’ masterstroke. Finding its home on the equally daft Draft, States (3) is a minefield of buzzes, blips, and beeps. The tape alternates harmoniously between fast and slow, Davis switching between lightning strikes of tangled electronics before easing into simplistic, almost quiet periods of cleaning up the messes he made. More so, States (3) is a look into invention; Davis’ creative process is put on display in such a manner that any filtering or editing is insignificant. States (3) is the sound of cogs and gears moving effortlessly in the brain, transferring idea into locomotion. So much commotion to be had with a modular synthesizer, with Davis making calculating, albeit frenzied, outbursts of creativity — how valiant!

Links: Greg Davis - Draft

Miami Angels in America

A Public Ranking

[CS; Night People]

And you’re feeling weird and shit all the time now. Getting high always on a duster-huffin’rag-reefer-cough medicine cocktail. No boozing. You’re too poor. The amount of damage you’re doing to your mind is permanently making you slur your speech. Outcast don’t begin to describe your situation at work. When you talk anywhere now, it’s like your jaw is tapping egg shells to each syllable. Loneliness is an excuse to get high or say something about your life that you’ve no concern about, but it’s frightening to the listener. The only way you orgasm is when your eyes fill with blood and struggle to keep open/you alive. Waking up in the morning consists of nose bleeds and sneezing brains. As you start to recognize the world wasn’t built for you, or your body/ears, the weight of sky crashing down into your eyes compares only to not yours, but “A Public Ranking.” So if your day job provides you with too much *flatline*, Miami Angels in America will melt them brains out ya nose in the mean/tough/aggressive/tense time.

Links: Miami Angels in America - Night People

German Army

Papua Mass

[CS; Night People]

What seems a bare cupboard for the one band you just can’t Google turns out to be an old coldwave trick: Lull the listener to sleep with hypnotizing weird-wave minimal synth and wait… and wait… and wait. Then what? Well, I guess you make another tape. Until then, German Army have me in the palm of their hairy hands, their Martian Church XX-style sludge-vocals reminding me of that time I’s probed by aliens. (I swear! Ma told me if’n I lie I’ll be in hot water, so don’t tell on me!) Their frothy chemical brew is a strange, pungent one that no one should try at home: Stack a uncooperative drum machine on top of a shit-house synth, echo-killed vox, and maybe a bass line and see how much your version of this sucks. How do they do it? This is one of those tapes you listen to mouth-ajar; the 39 Clocks of mini-synth-wave, German Army are. The end of Side A even mimics a tape being eaten. You’ll keep checking and checking. What an idiot! Bruce Hart is watching approvingly from heaven (What? He’s alive? Man…), not to mention Wet Hair. Those nice Raccoo-oo-oon boys sure have comported themselves well with this Night People label, a veritable shit-storm of fascinating vibrations emanating from their every audio orifice. It’s sick. And yes, like every actually-good cassette I review, it’s probably fucking sold out before you even knew what hit you circa Dave Mustaine. Sorry; you lose.

Links: Night People

U.S. Girls

The Island Song

[7-inch; Calico]

As a red-blooded American male, the female form has often been a subject of intense scrutiny for me. When it finds its way into music, either as lyrical inspiration or album art (as is the case with the flexible figure gracing the cover of The Island Song), it flicks on switches in my male brain (and yes, penis). Megan Remy’s ability to tap into the primal of the male mind while maintaining female individuality is on display throughout The Island Song. The two-song 7-inch blends danceable rhythm with sharp melody, creating a hot mess of modern pop without any genre touchstone to hold it back. The title track and B-side, “High School Poetry,” are infectious. Remy’s schoolgirl vocals add a charm that is sure to attract the male id without fracturing the ego. There’s an understated sexiness, but the deeper one connects to Remy’s music, the less sexualized it becomes. Blood boils, not as a product of testosterone, but as a result of high-end music created by high-end talent, no matter the connotations. All that’s left to remind me of a need to spread seed is the cover art, which is rendered asexual by the time “High School Poetry” has its final rotation on the turntable.

Links: U.S. Girls - Calico

White Ring

“Hey Hey, My My” b/w “Felt U”

[12-inch; Handmade Birds]

White Ring shake up the witch house fun-bus to sparkling ends via “Hey Hey, My My” and “Felt U,” the heaviest 12-inch you will ever struggle to hold and also one you will find yourself flipping a dozen times before you even realize you’re not dreaming. Quality stuff, albeit nothing earthshaking if you’re a true weirdope. Expect grinding, soft-glow bass bump, an omnipresent mega-click track (probably the signature tell-tale sign a witch might be in the house), polyrhythms stacked atop one another, a female vocalist who seems to almost drift in and out of pitch, and a one-finger synth line with an occasional pitch bend. Sounds bad, right? Guess again — we’re talking tingles-on-the-back-of-the-neck thrills the rave kidz could only have dreamed about. Dancing to this music might make sense to you at some point, but in essence the audio is doing all the work for you. A head-bob is more than enough to satisfy the endorphins that want so badly to make your life a living heaven. White Ring will give you better access to them, albeit in limited-edition fashion. Don’t sleep, lazy-asses.

Links: Handmade Birds

Van Dyke Parks

“Dreaming of Paris” b/w “Wedding in Madagascar”

[7-inch; Bananastan]

Is it preposterous to find Van Dyke Parks mentioned in Cerberus…or is it a strike of brilliance? No matter one’s take on the legacy of The Beach Boys, one must know by now that Parks’ dalliance with Brian Wilson was but merely a minute stop on his varied and strange career. A few ups and downs (the cost of being an adventurous composer) has caused Parks’ star to diminish to many, but his latest round of 7-inch singles are cause for great celebration and renewed interest in the weirdness of Van Dyke Parks. What stands out with the singles “Dreaming of Paris” and “Wedding in Madagascar,” beyond the classically inspired artwork, is the classically inspired chamber pop. Sticking to one’s guns is always a chancy maneuver, but Parks proves the gamble worth the risk. “Dreaming of Paris” is a demur and elegant composition, in stark contrast to the tropical rhythms and fast-paced dance of “Wedding in Madagascar.” The only complaint to be had is that, at the sheer speed of both, neither work up to a crescendo. But perhaps it’s all for the best, the maestro leaving us wanting more. And you’re going to want more, no matter your musical preferences.

Links: Bananastan

Mohawk Park

Ungeometric Circuit

[CS; Scissor Tail]

I’ve stopped keeping count as far as Brad Rose projects go. And it doesn’t matter. They’re all different and exciting; if Rose were a porn starlet, he’d be a classic, able to reinvent even as the business changes. Dylan Aycock would be his worthy director (the last name… fitting). Their tandem outfit, Mohawk Park, has certainly amassed the equivalent of a longevity boner with Ungeometric Circuit. The sexual grind of a dark room, punctuated by the foreplay before bed springs jolt alive in symmetrical spurts, the start up and slow down of “The Future Was” projecting dirty images into the untapped imagination. “Vanilla Spiderwebs” provides the apropos cool down after the filthy first half. The post-coital deep slumber of “Defense Mechanism” locks the eyelids for Sandman replays of the raw footage. A quarterback’s gotta keep in game shape; Rose and Aycock remain as limber and unpredictable as they cum.

Links: Scissor Tail

Trailblazer

“Gut Reaction” b/w “Mallard”

[7-inch; Moniker]

Now THAT’s more like it. A heady splicing of Little Girls and Blank Dogs, with a touch of shoegaze flare thrown in for good measure. Not sure what they’re doing to the guitars on “Gut Reaction” (flange? delay? arpeggiate? reverb?), but it’s working for Trailblazer like a charm, as they create music overtop a drum machine that makes us forget the music is created overtop a drum machine. Funny, because when I try to accompany my many drum machines I sound like a dickhole with a microphone. Oh well! At least I have upstarts blazing trails I can’t get cleared on my own; I’ll leave it up to the experts. ‘Blazer also have a tape out on Night People this year, so don’t forget to write.

Links: Trailblazer - Moniker

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In this ever-expanding musical world, there's a wealth of 7-inches, cassettes, CD-Rs, and objet d'art being released that, due to their limited quantities and adventurous sonics, go unnoticed by the public at large. Cerberus seeks to document the aesthetic of these home recorders and backyard labels. Email us here.