Jeff Henderson, Vicky Mettler, Raphael Foisy and Felix Lachance

Built Like a Brick Shithouse

[CS; Small Scale Music]

In days of yore, jazz was a playing field with no boundaries and rarely a dull moment. It wasn’t the stuff of stuffy community clubs and late night band leaders for vanilla hosts. There was something dangerous and unpredictable about its appeal; a rebel yell that became the impetus for hip-hop, punk, and rock alike. Or so I’m led to believe by the unbelievable amount of material now at our disposal. I never lived it – too young and far too un-hip to ever do more than put in a CD or lay needle to vinyl for some many years. But listening to this foursome (so brazen as to not even name themselves beyond what was supplied at birth), I begin to get a sense of what it meant to be a musician romanticized by jazz in its heyday. It’s a sexy and dangerous, a shift from our milquetoast existence. It requires something more than passive listening, and to be more than a bit player, you must work well with a group but be unafraid to steal the spotlight when its your turn. Built Like a Brick Shithouse does its muscle bound job, jumping you into this gang of post-orchestration deconstruction. It’s punch after punch under a heavy strobe, until all that’s left is a willing pulp of flesh now able to understand that there’s few musics are ferocious and independent as jazz. Those left to still call its name do so with a passion that is unmatched. Henderson, Mettler, Foisy and Lachance are but a chosen few.

Links: Small Scale Music

Stara Rzeka

Stara Rzeka

[10-inch; Infinite Greyscale]

Stara Rzeka, named after a Polish village according to BandCamp, is helmed by Kuba Ziołek, and if there’s one thing you need to know going into this self-titled effort, it’s that Ziołek doesn’t really belong on this planet. He’s too ahead of the game; a movie bad-guy would say, “He knows too mushhh.” YOU know the type: No matter how much of himself he puts out into the world, none of us can pin him down, and rather than repel us the artistic distance only causes us to crave it with additional fervor. It’s not a ‘leave them wanting more’ thing as much as simply: ‘leave them.’ And when he does it’s like HOLY FUCK, I barely caught a glimpse of him when he was here, and now he’s but a memory! Thank god I have this wonderful 10-inch to remember him by, silk-screened and ready to party whenever 12 units just won’t do it. The production is fabulous too, bolstered by a 45 RPM clip and low end that creeps underneath softly, subtly creating a cocoon for the electronics to crawl around in. About halfway through an acoustic wash, complete with plaintive vocals, turns into a spider web that keeps expanding until the individual threads become too stretched out to trace. Enjoy getting lost in it too, a slow-motion waterslide that doesn’t stop until you’re dropped into liquid, calm, complete, and ready to take the ride again. The aforementioned packaging is as next-level as the audio, complete with a numbered insert, dark-green wax, a slick silk-screened Side B, and a few other fixin’s, just like mom used to make (but cooler). Three-hundred copies and a cloud of dust, fellow traveler; looks like it’s time to settle up.

Links: Infinite Greyscale

Flesh World

A Line in Wet Grass

[7-inch; Iron Lung]

I know before I even throw on a record from Iron Lung that it’s going to be HARD and RAGGED, like an junkie jacket that’s seen its share of cold days, and that it’s going to remind me of at least a few of the idiosyncratic bands I used to worship while the rest of the world didn’t care (and still doesn’t). In the case of Flesh World I’m getting weird whiffs of this and that – including several bands on the Moniker/Super Secret rosters – and a generous portion of, now that I have my bearings, a darker, blurrier The Je Ne Sais Quoi circa their first EP. Or maybe I’ll just shoehorn them into a shoegaze-punk phylum and call it a day. Regardless I think you’ll like, not love, this one at first, but from there, if you let the relationship develop, as so few of you are willing to do these days, you never know where things might go. Trust the post-punk process as the title track piles on its addictive guitar runs and steady, frills-free beat, not too fast and not too slow. Meanwhile, there’s a fierce groove on “Not a Soul” that continues long after the wax and needle have parted ways, with an icy confidence behind it all; the vocals disappear for long stretches then reappear when you’re ready for them and not a second before. And it’s all so simple. No I’ve-got-to-show-you-my-chops insecurity, no flabby layers, no guitar breaks that reach beyond a few root notes. B-sides like this get you noticed, and while Flesh World easily are the least distinctive band I’ve heard on the Iron Lung roster, I can hear why the signing made sense because they obviously work hard to craft their compositions until they’re just right, and the production represents a near-perfect example of what you want a post-punk 7” to sound like.

Links: Iron Lung

Glou Glou

Hymn Her Hum

[CS; Full Spectrum]

Just as Glou Glou seem playfully aware of the joys of language manipulation, the toying expands throughout the Machiavellian Hymn Her Hum. I find the title imprints a particular set of listening rules into the mind before one even presses play, but then works to deconstruct and re-evaluate those parameters as it unfurls. Do you sexualize the material due to the aggressive pink cover art and implicit speed with which title and music move (“Her her hum”)? Maybe it’s more historically misogynistic (“Him harem”)? Perhaps it deals with polyandry (“Him or ‘em”)? The music is just as ambidextrous as the wordplay. The emphasis placed on a particular tone or preconceptions brought into the process transform the tape with each listen. Glou Glou have created their own aural mind game. Welcome to the fold.

Links: Full Spectrum

Robert Turman

Way Down

[LP; Burka for Everybody]

Robert Turman’s legendary Way Down was constructed back in 1987 and its many examples of deep-genre fracking resonate in the underground to this day. A lot of modern records seem to aspire to recreate, almost exactly, what Turman accomplished here, and while there’s no shame in that, why not go straight to the source if you missed out on Dais’ reissue a half decade ago? The cracked electronics and murky sense of place sit well side by side with the post-EDM madness that is TODAY, but really you could introduce Way Down into any era and it would shine. I know as a kid I would have been stoked to hear cuts like “Lotek” as I watched Blade Runner (disclosure: I didn’t actually watch Blade Runner as a kid, though I was alive when it came out) and geek’d out to Bionic Commando, and I want you to pay particular attention to the video-game soundtrack angle because to me that’s what Turman foresaw more than anything: A future where robotic instrumental music would have a place not just in our minds but in our kids’ hearts. And that’s yet another caveat I want to tack on: Few lyric-less records with such a forward-knowing (fuck thinking) bent endeavor to carry so much emotional weight on their shoulders, and above all the other achievements I’ve mentioned, that is the true purity of Way Down. Handling the head and the heart with such care is tantamount to success, particularly when you’re cranking out tapes in a basement and you assume most people will never get the chance to hear what you’ve accomplished. It might be the ultimate irony that a guy (me!) who was 9 years old when Way Down came out and at the time knew little outside of bands with ‘Guns’ in the name progressed to the point, almost 20 years later, where he could review this amazing record and point out how singular it is/was despite the fact that what it is/was held no treasure for him (again, that’s me!) back when it came out. Or maybe it’s like this: I was the child of a gangster father whose rivals, upon killing my daddy, decided to leave me alive even though one day I might exact my revenge, but instead of killing the head of the ____ clan I decided to write up that record I unknowingly avoided hearing instead. THE ULTIMATE PAYBACK! This is fucked up…

Links: Burka for Everybody

The Spookfish

Living Room

[CS; Singapore Sling]

An Appalachian-faring fellow named Dan Goldberg appears as the wiley Spookfish when he’s on cassette tape, and it’s easy to see why Singapore Sling picked him up for yet another notch on their stellar catalog this year: more gauzy, gooey synth-pop/folk-hybrid singer-songwriter music that embellishes the inherent hiss and warp of home-done doings on tape. Goldberg has a knack for catchy, sticky-sweet melodic material, and here he matches it with toy drum-machine, Casio keyboard hooks, and aching acoustic guitar backdrops that are above all pleasure-center pleasing. It’s music best suited for either a dance party for fleas or a campfire singalong. Yeah, that’s a weird thing to write for sure, but I don’t quite know how else to describe what’s going on here. No matter the album’s stylistic schizophrenia, with Living Room, Goldberg is able to capture an overarching atmosphere that feels truly lived in, as comforting and homely as its title; listening you can feel the fuzzy, itch-scratching fibers of your dad’s couch from the 70s, and feel the electric heat from a glowing screen of the rabbit-eared boob-tube running Saturday morning cartoons at the end of the room. This is obviously a place Goldberg knows well, a place with its own personality with whom he can be himself, having fun inhaling helium and playing with his various toys to make a lonely space seem a little less-so. Make this tape your friend when you’re feeling alone.

Links: The Spookfish - Singapore Sling

Tom James Scott

Teal

[LP; Skire]

If you didn’t catch “Ariel” over at Choco, that’s OK because the album it came from, Teal, contains a treasure trove of amb-dro splendor for you to wrap your fickle ears around. Touches of piano and traditional drone spray-mist abound, but there are several ways to the metaphoric waterfall (and at one point I think I also literally hear a waterfall), and Tom James Scott explores them all. From a day at the beach with sand licking at your toes to the sounds of a wooden widget being put together and taken apart again, if you can drift away to it, you’ll find it here. Hate to reference Idea Fire Company yet again but snatches of their Postcards show up in Scott’s mailbox, while delicate vellum votives of sound paint a rosy picture for the mind to melt to. No offense to the tape, as we love them here at Cerbs, but the vinyl version of Teal stands head and shoulders above, raining down on the listener with an immense cloak of light yet dense sound. Three-hundred copies, one of which gets you in the door; what you do from there is up to you.

Links: Skire

Sad Horse

Purple on Purple Makes Purple

[CS; Field Hymns]

I always wanted a coked-up Jon Spencer version of Sticky Fingers. But those are just words according to the presser, so what about it? It’s two kids of the opposite gender fucking around on guitars and drums, making oddly rock variants of punk ethos. There’s a bit of pop and pomp thrown in to make it more interesting than these words being written. But here’s something we all can relate to: the music of busting ennui. That pixie stick heavy moment when sitting around is no longer worth the time. There’s energy to burn and something to say, even if no one cares to really hear it. But Sad Horse will MAKE YOU! They are ALL CAPS and IN YOUR FACE (at a safe distance from you to the stage). This is a band that can make a fine cassette but really need unleashing on the national stage. You know, that middle finger Billy Joe gave Clear Channel because for a moment he remembered he likes making music and playing it. Then they paid him off and shipped him to rehab before people also remembered they liked being angry and not placated. That’s Sad Horse. They are that brief moment when G.G. Allin showed a bit of remorse for his actions and just played a damn song. They are the time when Johnny Rotten realized he had no talent but did it for love. .

Links: Field Hymns

Gonzo

Ruidos [A Portuguesa]

[CS; Discrepant]

Ruidos [A Portuguesa] might end up being my record of the year. How does Gonzo do it? He’s the fuckin’ best, plain and simple, refining the art of World-style sample-snatching/found-sound/collage for yet another mixtape that sounds like nothing, anywhere and yet holds the potential to sound good to everyone, everywhere. It’s remarkable, too, because there’s simply no good time to imbibe audio this demanding of the listener. You can’t study while you pump these jams, nor can you concentrate at work; you can’t jog to it and you damn-well can’t throw down yoga poses to it; so what exactly is Ruidos for? Everything else: Allow its nutrients to nurture you, take the time to let its creepy constructions weave their way into the fabric of your life, stitch by stitch. Rarely will you find such a confluence of original artistic vision and unpredictability wrapped up in the same package, simply aching to be discovered and mined for all its worth. I can barely wrap my mind around the enormity of what Gonzo has accomplished here, much less dissect its baffling contents for you. It might seem like I haven’t done my job as a reviewer but DAMMIT JIM I’m a pool man, not a doctor, and these blurb-style blasts only allow so much in the way of fastidious details. Suffice to say, I’m head over heels for Ruidos [A Portuguesa] and you will be too if you give it the chance to sweep you off your feet. Also: I realize the tape format has served Gonzo well, but can vinyl be too far off for this denizen of the deep end? Forever recommended…

Links: Discrepant

Nudes

Stain

[7-inch; Iron Lung]

When I get a 7-inch in the mail I secretly hope it’ll sound like “Scared”: Torn up like a post-war disposition, emotionally stilted, unpredictable, and indebted to punk and, in an indirect way, power-violence. Jesus, it’s as if Nudes plugged into my brain and asked the question, “What do we not hear NEAR enough of in the underground?” This is it, broody, this is it, raw like Johnny Cochran’s intentions and bridling against any kind of authority, whether it emerge from genre considerations or those who prefer to keep indie-rock tidy and reliable. If you respect bands like Das Oath/Dead & Gone/Charles Bronson, labels like Ebullition, legends like that of Choking Victim, the idea of The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, and those early, warp-speed Bad Brains recordings, you’ll hear cuts like “Creatures” and wonder how you’ve been doing without them. I’m sure Nudes already have broken up and formed a few new bands, but don’t let Stain become one of those 7-inches you pass on, then regret until your dying days. Who knew Seattle had this kind of murderous energy? Time to bring back The Abodox…

Links: Iron Lung
  

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.