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

Plankton Wat / Super Minerals

Split

[CS; Stunned]

Like the ol’ trick fade out, Stunned returns with a singular swansong courtesy of Dewey Mahood (Plankton Wat) and Super Minerals, Phil French’s own cyberkinetic duo with William Giacchi. As the flames of Stunned smolder, Mahood’s trippy guitar experimentations play as its ashes are delicately spread across the land of Nod. But Mahood’s arsenal swells to include reeds and banjo, yet the faint smoky smell of psychedelia never leaves the area — ritualistic incense burnt to keep Stunned in peace during its final slumber. Super Minerals engulf the B-side, and it’s music for the other side. Doubled in size thanks to M. Geddes Gengras and Caitlin Mitchell, SM slightly morphs into French/Giacchi alter Magic Lantern. Either way, the chameleon duo proves hard to pin down, moving between the acid nostalgia of Magic Lantern and washed-out drones synonymous with Super Minerals. It’s a cool ride to Valhalla, a god of cassette labels retiring to the mystical haven of myth. We won’t weep; we are warriors bound to allegiance to the awesomeness of Stunned, best celebrated by Mahood, Giacchi, and French.

Links: Stunned

Angel Eyes

Vice to Vice

[CS; Moon Glyph]

This whole “underground” internet music community comes down to trial-and-error. Thus, listeners call Andrew Richard Cowie Angel Eyes. And maybe that is all-American of me to write, considering Angel Eyes is Australian, so let me get to the music: what if one were to exclude all the filters in Vice to Vice? What would it sound like? I bet it’d sound like average soft-rock radio songs. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some noises and sounds in Vice to Vice that may be interesting unfiltered. Maybe like “Oh, shit. That Cowie fellah is fresher than I thought,” or maybe like scraping a rusted, dripping water pipe. But it mostly appears to be just some dude trying to forge new sound-grounds through click-and-point. There’s nothing wrong with using cheap equipment, just make it sound more adventurous; either boring or exciting, just not lame. The whole Vice to Vice cassette is the equivalent of an afternoon sipping iced tea during work lunch. There are rays of sunshine and shit, but it’s momentary. And fleeting. Full of trial, and the outcome is error. Cowie got on Moon Glyph, th’oh, so props. Maybe he’ll launch a group project soon?

Links: Angel Eyes - Moon Glyph

TG Gondard

Avontuur

[CS; Not Not Fun]

As a teenaged youth, I had the privilege of visiting Belgium and got a taste of European culture. However, much of that resulted in sitting in the same coffee shop in Ghent with my grandparents and a pair of matrons, locally referred to as ‘The Witches’ — they were sweet to me, but in a manner that wasn’t unlike the witch in Hansel and Gretel. My interactions with what really lay beneath the canals and cobbled streets was never to be, the fantasy of a 15 year old never to be realized, wrapped up in snickering about ‘The Witches’ and the darkest, thickest coffee I’ve ever consumed. Perhaps it’s why TG Gondard’s skittish Avontuur speaks to me: it draws me to a retro-club culture I was never privy to, one that I feverishly dreamed as I was so close and yet so far away from. Avontuur is the sound of a forgotten European union, an amalgamation of nationalities, cultures, and traditions boiled into neatly spastic outbursts of rhythmic synth and canned beats. It’s the coffee shops after dark, when ‘The Witches’ remove the hunchbacks and hairy moles for cauldrons boiling with the eye of newt and the powder of the coco leaf.

Links: Not Not Fun

Burial Hex

In Psychic Defense

[12-inch; Sound of Cobra]

Burial Hex’s “In Psychic Defense” comes bearing 12-inch pinchers. That is, it isn’t at all what I expected from the group responsible — hell, culpable — for a nasty split with Sylvester Anfang II and other atrocities. But true to their instinctive nature, the duo find a way to render what they’re doing at any given time captivating. It’s their willingness to blunder if it means furthering their art that impresses the most, a wont they flaunt front-and-center when, within the grooves of this single-sided LP’s final third, they shred the delicate paper constructs of plaintive comfort they’d just spent a lot of time cultivating with Golem speak-shrieks and loud, throbbing beats. Yep, that’s the Burial Hex I remember, but I won’t soon forget the other sides they reveal here. Very dark, very Germanic, very cool. Your move, Sound of Cobra.

Links: Burial Hex - Sound of Cobra

No UFO’s

Mind Controls the Flood

[12-inch; Public Information]

It’s always a blessing and a curse when discovering a new sound or artist. The impulse in many of us — collectors or casual listeners — to snatch up the music in its original form becomes so incredibly strong that we are willing to overpay for what we do find. But the music, it speaks to us, and to not have it seems too selfless. Welcome to my conundrum with No UFO’s. Konrad Jandavs’ cut-up Kraut is the sort of delirious deluge that my ears welcome, and likely yours do as well. As busy as Mind Controls the Flood may seem upon initial dissection, nothing could be further from the truth: the album begins with the busy “Flood III,” but it quickly settles down and becomes a focused yet intriguing listen, each tracks growing more hypnotic, more singular with successive listens. Indeed, Jandavs is more composer than one realizes, carefully curating the sounds that comprise his cut-up aesthetic. His pastiche fits together like jigsaw pieces, no hammering required. This spells disaster for one’s bank account, but delight for one’s record stack.

Links: Public Information

Plates Of Cake

“As If the Choice Were Mine” b/w “Transit Trials”

[7-inch; All Hands Electric]

SHIT. Easiest review ever: Plates Of Cake have adorned my table ever since they were spliced together from chunks of old doo-wop classics, Leonard Cohen programs, stained diner menus, post-punk lore, Jonathan Richman’s surrealist slant, and, aww hell, involuntary facial hair. “As If the Choice Were Mine” brings a second vocalist into the mix, a surprise move considering the last record (which I loved maybe a bit too much) was all about lead singer/songwriter Jonathan Byerley. It’s never easy to get used to change when you liked what you started with, so there’s that. Still a nice cut. “Transit Trials,” like seemingly 75% of flips, is even better than the A. Catchier melody, better bridge, ringing riffs — music for winners and losers and those who love and hate them. I hate to rush you guys, but… I want more.

Links: All Hands Electric

Hobo Cubes / J. Hanson

The Self Beyond/Vac Siddha

[CS; Digitalis]

Francesco De Gallo and Josh Hanson together on the same tape — this must be heaven, the one sung about by David Byrne, not the cloudy, spiritual mess praised on a pulpit by bullies and haters. Wait, this isn’t heaven; this is beyond heaven. Not even [insert your spiritual advisor] could commission something this transcendentally great. It must be sent from the cosmos, but little green men would want to anally probe me in exchange for this sort of enlightenment, and my ass ain’t sore. Turns out, it’s from Digitalis — that wellspring in the middle of nothingness that somehow always manages somethingness. Now it all makes sense. As you can clearly fathom by text and title, De Gallo — as Hobo Cubes — takes over the A-side as Hanson is left with the whole of the B-side. Yet the two don’t duel, they combine. Two distinct styles and personalities blend into one harmonious split, therefore eradicating the divide and combining into one: J. Hobo. De Gallo’s work has always maintained a sort of Carl Sagan cosmic glow, and though it’s present, it also eschews it with opener “Exploring Science,” a more meditative and traditional ambient affair. Hanson’s vision is more Kurbrick than Sagan, but the darker tones do lighten up, expanding into the great abyss of the Big Bang; “Ecstasy and Rebellion,” the frantic movement of atoms before exploding into new constellations and gases. Put this on an infinite loop and never let it stop — it is the sound of the heavens, the stars, the beyond. The Hal-Bop has arrived!

Links: Digitalis
  

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.