German Army

Social Catalyst

[CS; Jozik]

Perennial Cerberus favorites, it seems it’s my turn to review the latest German Army dalliance with greatness. I would like to thank the academy for this honor, and Grantshoe and Crawfss for the privilege. I really wanted to say something different as I sit up here but I think the long list of accomplishments and adjectives my colleagues have heaped German Army are more apt. So let’s put it as simply as possible: Why aren’t you making German Army a household name? This is the sort of cold war mood music that fits the current climate of frosty Risk than it does the nuclear game of chess that gave birth to proto-sub-genres of dark, dank synthesizer music. The robotic feel of old is replaced with something a bit more fleshy, running hot and cold as determined by the time and day it is when German Army decide its ripe for recording. There’s a pulse running through these icy veins and though it rarely shows anything other than a shark’s demeanor, you know there’s a bit of fear, understanding, and soothsaying. Our world is crumbling for the 273rd time and as we tear it all down just to build it all back up like a toddler with a new set of Legos, it’s the stoic realism of Social Catalyst that calms us down. Shit’s going down and German Army has been warning us, Cerberus has been a cleric, and you aren’t listening! Why won’t you listen?

(That’s a call to action, people)

Links: Jozik

GRAN

Chair

[LP; Totally Wired]

GRAN will pull the chair out from under you just when you think you’ve got them figured out. Lest you assume their attack consists of little more than pop gestures warped by lo-fi fuzz, the group whip out a quasi-Les Georges Leningrad section on Chair and wash it out so heavily there’s nothing left to hold onto, proving their individuality and flexibility in one fell swoop. The singer even hollers in a strange, country/western manner during “Sorry,” further muddying the waters. “Wooden Beats” lures back into a bit of a pop aura, albeit with synths too cheeky for any FM dial you might have access to, while “Todd’s Syndrome” might just be one of the most mystique-packed oddities you’ll ever hear, lead by squishy synths and what sound like perverted drum-machine woodblock approximations. Nestled amid all these scene-stealing flourishes, however, are solid, addictive melodies that will have you attempting to figure out where you heard them and how you can get a hold of them and shove them back in your brain. Behind it all, that’s sort of the highest compliment out there, no?

Links: Totally Wired

Evan A. James

Evan A. James

[CS; Adhesive Sounds]

Remember the first time you heard “Lucas with the Lid Off”? How about “Cantaloop”? “Rebirth of Slick”? Are you just too young to remember these smooth jazz influenced hip-hop hits? Go put your ear buds back in and slink away quietly.

For those of you looking the next evolution, come to Evan A. James. Though not dance derived (or intended), the symphonic scraps of James’ self-titled tape evoke a sense of history that was barely touched upon in that quick time of jazz meeting mainstream during the early ’90s. People forget the desolate frontier it was at that time, when all musics ran to get into the door before it slammed shut and was wedged closed by alternative bands we never grew to know. But James rekindles that pioneer spirit even in a land that has grown from those shut out 25 years ago. In the tent city that followed, somehow James has found a way to grab hold of those faint wafts of soul that came back to the masses, using it as a spark for something equally inventive, yet beholden to no set form. Which is why by the time this cassette has run its course, you’ll momentarily forget about those seemingly ancient breaths of fresh air because a newer, stronger rush of pure oxygen will fill those lungs, benefited by too many people on the other side of the door sucking up all their air long ago while the tent city outsiders were left to chaste and noble lifestyles. Ah!

Links: Adhesive Sounds

Grant Evans

Lacerations

[CS; Hooker Vision]

I can hear why Grant Evans’ next tape after Lacerations is called Respite; we’re all going to need one after getting sliced and diced to ribbons by this cracked, corroded cassette. Apparently these compositions were created by acoustic instruments, mostly, which were then, as you might guess, cracked and corroded. But you’d be surprised what you’ll find amid the harsh, searing sections and unidentifiable gurgles. The title track, for one, could have been recorded at an old-school train station, with steam clouding the air and distant whistles beckoning the ear. “Enemy” could almost be an Eric Copeland/Terrestrial Tones track, were it not for the terrifying streaks of harshness peaking in the window like wicked sunshine. “Fat Bride” is where this reviewer really gets his ya-yas out though, as this cut contains the perfect balance of creepiness and trippery, queasiness and disorientation, oddity and curiosity. An ominous rumble underpins what seem to be flashes of human utterings, though you can never be sure when everything’s being fed through a wood-chipper of a time machine. Heady stuff that takes noise up a notch for sure, 100 copies ensuring you’ll always miss out forever.

Links: Grant Evans

Gut Nose

Vicetopia

[12-inch; Styles Upon Styles]

I love the way “Difficult to Escape,” from Gut Nose’s Vicetopia 12-inch, kicks off. It’s almost like a how-to for aspiring electronic producers: Start with a little hi-hizzie and an ominous bass rumble not unlike that of Dead Fader; increase volume; add another cymbal sample; kick in that four-floorin’ beat; sprinkle in hand drums; garnish with additional sample materials and you have a composition both simple and complex, heady yet fluid enough to force even the mega-reluctant into motion. In other words, when you reduce “Difficult to Escape” to its components, it doesn’t seem altogether unique. Put them all together, however, and you have an electronic witch’s brew that’ll cast a damn spell on you. “Mystic Soul” follows suit with a scratchier, less up-front take, with more experiments curling up its edges (though we still get that ubiquitous, insistent straight-beat). The title track skillfully upends the formula, however, dabbling in a slower tempo, audio sprinklers that spray right in your face, some rhythmic elements that occasionally stutter over themselves, and an ominous stretch of low-end underneath that glares out at your ear beneath the heavy kicks. Don’t even get me started on the myriad echoes and throbs to come; you’ll have to suss (which stands for Styles Upon StyleS) those out for yourself.

Links: Styles Upon Styles

Derek Monypeny

How Can Be

[CS; Ambivalent Soap]

I am devoted to Ambivalent Soap as I once was to Stunned. I never knew I had a hole to fill but Ambivalent Soap has done so. Why, I ask rhetorically to whoever may read this? When you listen to the latest Derek Monypeny that has sneaked out, you’ll know. A contemplative but never dull guitar exposition that is as much Stephen Molyneux as it is Sir Richard Bishop. Guitar may be the primary instrument, but Monypeny does not shy from incorporating its secondary noises along with percussion and field recordings. Though “Peace Be Upon You” sticks out as a departure from the album’s first four ragas, it is nonetheless instrumental in cementing the Eastern feel of How Can Be. But don’t mistake that has Beatles Shankar Krishna bullshit hype. Meditative, yes, stoned musings on a feeling rather than being, never. It’s fun to listen to Monypeny reconcile his inspirations into a cohesive statement, which you get the feeling has yet to come. As a first foot forward on the Spanish Steps, this is as firm a planting as one could expect.

Links: Ambivalent Soap

Suspirians

Suspirians

[LP; Super Secret]

Suspirians start with a lot of the vibes found on a recent reissue of a Blood Robots record I grew fond of last year (on Water Wing Recs), what with the small snippets of synth, all-girl lineup, and intense nature of many of the riffs. But this Austin quartet bring that sound to a new generation and brush on a less antagonistic, over-the-top mindset. There are passages wherein (“Whatcha Do,” for example) it seems they’ve departed from this motif, fuzz ablaze and guitars/synths feeling out their boundaries, but it’s all contained within a modicum of relative post-punk cool. At their core Suspirians are in line with old-school punk, a bit of older rock (“Buddy Holly” ain’t a song title for nothin’), and modern-day gloom merchants like Lorelle Meets The Obsolete and A Place To Bury Strangers. Such blends might have been sacrilegious years ago, but now the kids are all agog for it and these cats have no problem givin’ it to ‘em (nor do Super Secret, a label seemingly awash in quality post-pizz). Carry on, sweet Suspirians.

Links: Super Secret

VVAQRT

Detainee

[12-inch; Hot Releases]

Once or twice a year I get a huge, intimidating package from Hot Releases Recs that thrills me to no end, its contents almost always introducing me to a genre I didn’t know existed. As a conduit for bigger labels to feed from (do they get a percentage of that shit? I hope so) the imprint also seems to uncover a lot of experiments teeming with life that a lot of us wouldn’t ever hear if not for their efforts, Haves & Thirds in particular a blinding beam of light I won’t soon forget. So I have to ask, Hot Releases main man Karl Raymar, What is up with VVAQRT¹? What does the band name mean²? How do they fit into the continuum of indie music³? I could go on and on, but since this review can’t last forever (Tew bad fer yew!) I’ll attempt to answer a few of the questions I so rudely foisted upon Mr. Raymar: ¹A lot. ² The Net says ‘Vak-art.’ ³ Somewhere between Broadcast (RIP Trish Keenan), Lemon Kittens, Ashrae Fax, The Blow, and your favorite self-help computer program for expanding your sonic vocabulary; yep, I think that works…

Links: Hot Releases

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Songs of Forgiveness

[CS; BARO]

There is a fog around the edges. It’s soft, dull. It stays in place no matter how fast I run. All it does it accentuate the shinning sun as it pours down beyond my peripheral. It enlarges my love as I race toward them. This is our finale; a moment caught in time that we’ve been building up to. The producers thought it was expected but the test audiences loved it. So here I am, perpetually after an imaginary emotion. I dodge the credits as best as I can, but I dare not fight this triumph of a soundtrack. It caresses me longer than my co-star. It is the reason I have grown to love this white circled vision. A moment caught in time that will play out infinitely. My legs are tired. My heart has grown darker. My love seems to be getting further away. The white is beginning to discolor. The edges are beginning to grow frayed. But this endearing music is eternally uplifting. I no longer care for my other across the screen. I would jump out of this frame if I could. Perhaps my name will fall from the cascade and put an end to my repeated run. There’s never any resolution, just the faint embrace of a soundtrack that I can only enjoy in this time of grief. I am Sisyphus but at least I have a faint spark of hope. I forgive the damned director who cast me here for eternity. It is not his fault that they won’t stop watching. Their prying eyes on a romance they never chase themselves. I forgive them as well. A moment caught in time that will be our real end.

Links: Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - BARO

DeFeKT

Below Ground

[12-inch; Komisch]

A lot of the techno spinning out of the funnel cloud that is its recent re-emergence is of the straight-up, eyes-down, minimal variety that rides the bbbeat hard and takes few detours. If you think DeFeKT’s Below Ground fits that description, however, you’re not listening deeply enough. Take it to the next level and y’allz will find a lot to latch onto, from little splashes of effects, powerfully charged upswings in mood, clicks/clacks (for variety), nearly subliminal change-ups and washes only fellow DJs will be able to ID, counter-rhythms, and lazer beams. Not to mention the gift of absenteeism; DFKT will disappear, make you search for him. Then, he jumps out of the shadows with an apprehension-conquering beat and you just gotta rock it right off the rack if you have any blood pumping through that gangrenous membrane you call a body. More kicks for the kids, and another loft-party-in-a-bottle in the bank.

Links: DeFeKT

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.