Girls in Love

Tomatoes

[CS; Coeur d'Alene]

The murkier the better. That’s the ethos behind Girls in Love, whose 4-song cassette Tomatoes sounds as if it were recorded down the shaft of a glass bowl covered in a Downy dryer sheet. How else to explain the equal attention to sappy pop melodies (“Before, Again”) and stoner classic jams (“I Feel Blue”) as imagined by Times New Viking? It’s an endearing mix of gumption and can-do attitude even if mixed up in a rolling fog. They only managed to crank out 50 of these cardboard sleeves, with the tracklist etched hard-way into the cassette shell. Motivation lasts only so long – oddly the length of these four songs. Now I’m stuck on the couch in the middle of a review with no…..

Links: Coeur d'Alene

Yves Malone

Three Movies

[3xCS; Field Hymns]

The triple-tape is both a rare beast and a welcome treat for a cassette-hungry reviewer like myself, but it’s also just the perfect way for composer Yves Malone to have gotten this work out to the masses – “Three Movies,” acts like a set of three different soundtracks to imaginary films, and even though the specific characters and plots from each aren’t totally clear, Malone still succeeds in painting vivid imagery with the limited set of synthetic textures utilized across the piece. We get the setting at the very least – the GTA style artwork gives a sense for an urban environment with a deeply-seeded noir attitude, only located somewhere in the tropics… I’m thinking Law & Order but with blood-orange sunsets falling slowly behind the palm trees. Is this what Miami Vice looks/sounds like? I have no idea, but if it does I’m going to start watching that show immediately. The music follows suit with a classic ’80s/neon-fried texture zapping just about every note you hear. It’s an appropriate sound for the chilly melodic material, which tip-toes its way across sheets of chords washing back and forth as the waves of an ebbing tide. Filled out with plenty of mod-wheel sass and some dark, mysterious beats, all three tapes deliver the suspense, intrigue, action and horror of a stone-cold whodunit. The only thing missing is the popcorn.

Links: Yves Malone - Field Hymns

Fadensonnen

Badlands

[LP; One Hand]

Fadensonnen represent the absolute cream of the improv guitar-noise crop, so to hear them hit vinyl with a resounding CRACK should be a priority if you read this column. Badlands bristles with post-no wave energy, all-instrumental and poised to break the record for most circuits broken in a single sit-down. The ear has so many points to find purchase it’s impossible to pick one. That’s what so impressive about the whole maelstrom of Side A: Each element is blended together, yet set apart just enough to trick the ear into believing (save for the theatrics of the guitarist). I don’t hear drums but I sense them deep in the thicket of hot, wet sick. Side B turns the ship around. We get readily apparent, half-flailing, cymbal-worshiping drums, droning bass, more of that singular, exceptional guitar abuse, and a psych-noise brew not unlike portions of AMT offerings and/or all-out Matta Gawa jamz. But Fadensonnen’s sense of clinical cool and restraint undercuts the gestures toward instrumental excess and psych. It’s an exercise in blown-out precision and repetition that sucks all into its orbit. Whole sections of pure feedback-doused frenzy tend to do that, too, and we’ve got a hair-clump mess of it closing out the record. There are 150 copies of Badlands in existence, and they’re handmade, so find a way to make your dreams happen soon or you’ll end up drinking the dirt of denial.

Links: Fadensonnen

MA Turner

ZOZ

[12-inch; Sophomore Lounge]

Like myriad bored teenagers ill equipped to handle the stardom of a music career but promised the limelight from local peers, I was in a band. But before that, I was trapped in my friend’s bedroom manipulating tapes, beaten guitars, adolescent voices, and toys-as-percussion to create an album of complete trash. It was a glorious moment and to our surprisingly large group of friends, our parody of modern tunes and annoying regional personalities was a hit. But the pressure was too great. We got serious, we began copping whole sections of recorded songs in our pursuit for a second hit cassette. It was our downfall, never to flourish and blossom like the mind of MA Turner. ZOZ is an ego trip of half-realized pop songs disguised as trippy experiments of space and sound. Expected from a 12-inch remixing 12 cassettes’ worth of artistic musings that was a gallery installation. Those 83 thoughts are now 13 eas(ier) to handle jabs of inspiration. Without the $150 to purchase the whole collection to study the course of MA Turner’s self-editing process, I can still hear a man with a vision and no expectations tying it to the tunnel sort. ZOZ is ambitious even in its pared form; a menagerie of pop influences whirling by with different trajectories, sometimes colliding by also enhanced by near misses that still cause warping-via-gravitational pull. What boys in a bedroom making silly music has to do with MA Turner is kinship, even if we were merely poking music with sticks as Turner clubs it until its conventional stuffing is spread across the floor. Otherwise, Turner is a man among other boys too afraid to follow a half-thought to a fully formed project. Don’t be scared of growing up, and don’t be scared to be a woman doing it either. Convention is just another word for boring suits who don’t get art.

Links: Sophomore Lounge

Geoff

Liberated Atheist

[7-inch; Dirty Pillows]

I go back and forth about the 7-inch all the time in my head, flip-flopping as to whether or not I think it can be a viable medium for showcasing music, and whether or not I find myself enjoying having to get up from the couch every three to five minutes to flip them over. I really appreciate the stylized objectivity and scarcity of the lathe-cut record in principle, this one in particular being that it’s only available in an edition of 20. But unfortunately, this release also has me a little puzzled. Geoff is a musical presence with power, electricity, and a keen prowess for improvisation… it’s just coming at us on the wrong medium this time. It’s a bummer that the disc only contains two out of three sections available from the musical piece “Liberated Atheist,” as right off the bat this feels somewhat incomplete. Side A encompasses a section of the piece dominated by electric guitars, and the B side introduces a Fender Rhodes piano, so what we are missing is any kind of an introduction, we’re just sort of flung into the middle of this already-developing jam. Both pieces hover in modal stasis with a warm bass guitar laying down a solid quarter-note pulse foundation for drifting solos and looping layers of texture to stack, swarm, and swoop above. Geoff’s ability to weave complimenting lines and find interesting contrapuntal relationships between melodies and amplifier feedback is compelling enough for a solid thumbs-up here, but the best thing about this music are the tones he pulls out of his instruments, and especially the guitar – strong and crisp, but also buttery smooth, instantly pleasing to the ears, like Brian May’s. Stylistically, Geoff’s bluesy turns of phrase, especially on keys, have me thinking of Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way, only a little bolder and heavier, more out front. Or maybe this is what Noveller might sound like if she were super into hair bands. In any case, it’s plenty good enough for me to get past my grievances about how the release was constructed, beckon you readers to check out the full piece streaming below, and also look forward to a full, complete physical issue from this talented musician in the future.

Links: Dirty Pillows

Florida = Death

Post Information

[LP; Obscure Me / AMOD]

Such a rag-tag collection of counter-intuitive tunes couldn’t avoid vinyl for long. After existing as a tape and CD-r for quite some time, Post Information gets the thick-as-brick wax treatment, and the confused weirdos among us couldn’t be happier. I get why Florida = Death and the labels involved wanted to take the project a step further before allowing it to be washed away by the forgetful ears of the underground. The wingspan of Post Information is vast enough that ascribing its din to a genre would only embarrass the both of us (assuming only one person is reading this at a time on each screen; by the way, hey there, I just broke the fourth wall!). I will, however, name names, in no particular order: Raccoo-oo-oon, Neptune, Haves & Thirds, Colour Bük, Twin Stumps, The Microphones, Why?, and Rape Faction. Now that the guilty parties have been arraigned, allow me to bring the charge: LIFE!!! LIFE!!! (And death.) There are sections of PI that befuddled me quite a bit, but they’re more than balanced out by the instances of shear abandon, particularly on the flip (labeled as ‘f’; oh those tricky Floridians!). You don’t hear almost-dead beats rumbling through a scrambled audio junkyard too often outside of that Dalek/Destructo Swarmbots pic disc, so when it comes along you best recognize.

Links: Obscure Me / AMOD

Wasted Cathedral

Pleasant Valley

[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

The importance of emotion is often debated in music. Though some would choose not to believe it exists, even if a clean room is created to completely sterilize its impact on the creation thereof, it’s impossible to eliminate. Even if the composer wrote emotionless, the receiver will find some emotion or talisman associated with a particular feeling surrounding the moment or surroundings in which the music was heard. It’s best when an artist embraces the emotion of music if for no other reason than the fun of trying to decipher their state of mind through our own experiences. We put meaning where none was intended. That’s not a problem with Pleasant Valley, eagerly living up to its name with an array of spaced electro-pop. The inherent spirituality at play with Wasted Cathedral is embraced as celestial melodies blossom from inorganic substances. Whatever feelings Chris Laramee planted in these five fugues, they are transparent in only that they exist and to ignore them is folly. This will not end a silly debate but perhaps create a new one where we begin to realize what I project, what you project, and what is projected by Mr. Laramee are all different takes on the same notion. I’m sure I Heart Huckabees made a far more interesting case about connectedness.

Links: Adhesive Sounds

The Brainstems

Cold Sweatin’

[CS; Peace Bath]

Well this is a first: A double-B sided tape. If nothing else, that aspect of this cassette gave me a really great way to open up this review, so thanks for that, Brainstems. Also I’m not minding the blood-pumping pulse you have going on here either, so double-thanks. A modern-day Nuggets type of thing centered squarely within the proverbial garage is here for Cold Sweatin’; tin can’n’twine vocals blaring, drums chugging, the bass barreling, bearing down on those two chords with a razor sharp edge and guitar kicking and and punching the thorax with short stabs, clenched fists to the gut or the temple (depending on whether or not you have your headphones on). Yeah, you’ve heard it before and you’re gonna hear it again, dammit. Although I don’t think Thee Oh Sees really birthed this renaissance of the shower-less, sweaty sock-rock thing, it surely made us all want to hear more of it. Definitely caught the wave MJMJ Records is riding currently, and maybe this Peace Bath imprint will give us only more reasons to shake a leg. Brainstems is more proof that it’ll never get old. Good for you, rock’n’roll. I guess you really are immortal, congrats.

Links: The Brainstems

Caroline Says

50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong

[CS; Happenin]

It’s worth repeating: honesty equals purity. No one can make qualms that Henry Rollins’ “Liar” isn’t a salvo on the act of manipulation of truth but even in its sardonic attempt at exposing assholes, the first person narrative does in fact tell facts (“I promise”) about fiction. Though not painted in red or trapped inside a Faustian sideshow, Caroline Says is wrought with honesty. It enchants her debut cassette, that has more in common with Costello’s no nonsense beginnings rather than the affront Presley put forth in public. Nothing is behind closed doors throughout 50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong except the origin of the record’s title. Titles such as “My Fiance’s Pets” and “Winter is Cold” point the direction of Caroline Says better than any depiction of her varied pop. With the laid bare honesty comes a warmth, whether through familiarity with the subject matter or the sound therein. It feels worn and comfortable because there are no secrets, just truths sweetly exposed. Don’t we all feel a bit better about our situation now that we’ve stepped into the light?

Links: Happenin

Guenter Schlienz

Treehut Visions

[CS; Sacred Phrases]

What do we really know about Deutschland? Our glimpses of the post-WWII Germany have been whittled into brief textbook talking points and history as reenacted by popular Scorpions songs and conceptual Kraftwerk videos. Guenter Schlienz turns the looking glass onto America, providing more a mirror onto the impact of American culture on Germany as well as a glimpse into the nation as it stands creatively today. Treehut Visions is childhood innocence, a younger Schlienz holed up between hefty branches as he scours the beatnik prose of Kerouac. An idyllic soundtrack removed from the hectic picture of beats on the prowl to find America at its most ruthless, Treehut Visions is a soft reminder that the last 70 years of American history have been far from kind to any outsider to grace the so-called Melting Pot. None of that really matters because Schlienz retreats to the visions of Kerouac and kids as a means to tell the real story. For all the violence and stalemate of two nations sprouting in two distinct trajectories, those differences are where we can learn about each other and not fear the unknown. There are still those clinging to the words of the beats and the actions of the Merry Pranksters as a blueprint for saving our souls, as well as those who saw the future in komische and Kraftwerk. Schlienz puts them both together in a definitive and soothing statement: “It’s all going to work out in the end.”

Links: Guenter Schlienz - Sacred Phrases
  

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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.