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

Nathan Liow / Angus Tarnawsky


[7-inch; In Context]

Another IC release, another reason to get out of bed in the morning. These lil’ beauties are absolute gems from the inside-out and Artifacts is another proud benefactor of the label’s momentum. Which makes sense because Angus Tarnawsky, whose collaboration with Nathan Liow brought this split 7-inch about, also runs In Context music. Not sure what the impetus behind this project was (record a piano concert, then loop it over itself and manipulate its elements? Not your average exp. mission), but it’s a moment worth sharing over and over. It’s a laughing-gas feeling. Memories form drifting mental movies that blend together and bring heat to the face as you lean it against a bus window on a long nighttime ride. Nimble piano strokes and comps lift, dip, and flutter like angels, sending echoes bouncing off the walls. It’s a lonely feeling. It’s the opposite of, say, having a group of pianists play at the same time. Here, you take the playing of one, set it against itself, and watch as it spider-cracks outward like ice on the lake. Cold, crisp, and clinical; that’s how I like my context. Liow and Tarnawsky bend the corners of time effortlessly, turning a good idea into a great recording. They upped the run on Artifacts to 50 copies, and yet, don’t start celebrating man. They’ll be gone, they’ll be gone, they’ll be gone, brother.

Links: In Context

Joe Houpert/Nathan McLaughlin/Cody Yantis/Josh Mason

Line Drawings

[LP; Desire Path]

First, let’s get the fandom out of the way: SQUEAL~! I love these guys~!

Now some decorum. Line Drawings, as a LP and a 7-inch series, is a means to foster community. It seems rather odd considering how positive and collaborative my Twitter feed is and the whole micro-economy of equally micro-labels fostered togetherness. But there are those dissenting voices, those throw downs between all creative types that divide rather than unite. Though Line Drawings will not be a brokered peace, it does serve to showcase how four friendly musicians can be so in sync and yet separable personalities within their set community. I could argue that by establishing the idea of community, exclusivity is at play. Yet it does not show itself here. The work of each is a different idea and yet they work magnificently in this setting. Each composition is a continuation of and rebuttal against its predecessor.

But I’m afraid I’m clouding the work by straddling the line. That is, after all, the cohesive factor. What does a line truly represent and what that representation-as-projection means to its beholder. It’s a rhetorical question left untouched by Line Drawings. As I see it, this is proof that we can all work together even if we are separated by distance or philosophy. There is nothing to be had in terms of compromise, just in reaching a shared goal. There is power in [a] union and this one is only exclusive to those who wish not to belong. Any sound can go with any other sound; genre is just a division; a crudely drawn idea can become a fully formed work of art.

Links: Desire Path

Bastard Noise / Government Alpha / Hiroshi Hasegawa

Uncertainty Principle

[7-inch; Small Doses]


That’s rude, Hiroshi Hasegawa, but I’ll let it slide because you’re rollin’ with Bastard Noise and they’re creating car-crunching chaos behind you, occasionally whirling up a funnel cloud of beast-noise. I think those bear-ox vocals are new; they’re on both sides of the Uncertainty Principle collaborative 7-inch, and they scare me as much as anything does these days. I feel sorry for their mothers. It’s hard to gauge what Hasegawa and Government Alpha bring to this project because they’re both working with Bastard Noise who, as many of us know, can be violent and unpredictable. Government Alpha team up with BN to create lightning beams with their fingers like the emperor from Return of the Jedi (but evil), but then Bastard Noise come out with more of those bear-man vocals and it’s not clear where we stand. Then a glut of electronic wires gets tangled and a spaceship hovers overhead and the red-hot fires of hell are burning beneath our feet as the armies march to certain doom at the command of a syphilis-maddened traitor to his people. Shit, I did it again. Much love, you glorious bastards. Colored vinyl = thick, righteous noise = brick, Cerberus = SIIICK. And I’m out.

Links: Small Doses

Ray Creature

Don’t Stop Talking EP

[CS; NO!]

The unusual heat of the night is getting to me. I am wrestling with my sheets after already besting the Sandman earlier in the evening. My eyes refuse to shut, as I’m forced to rerun Don’t Stop Talking along with the day’s events. It was a rat race, everyone climbing over each other for that tiny morsel. The competition was fierce, the furious energy of Jon and Natascha underscoring the kinetic. Our days have bloomed well beyond the 9-to-5 grind as our waist lines expand at the excuse of too little time and not enough healthy choices. We chain smoke. We pick at our nails. We gnash our teeth. Before we know it, we’ve fallen into a mindless entertainment choice as the dusk settles onto our jaundice-lit homes. Yet I can’t shake Ray Creature. The sensual break from the norm – sensual not necessarily a synonym for sexual. There’s no identifying it completely which is why I am awake and have been for many evenings trying to wrap my head around an endless thought. The best remedy may be one more front-to-back and a few extra helpings of “Success” in an effort to pump me up for the impending sunrise and another day back at the races.

Links: NO!

Disguised as Birds

We Buy Gold

[CS; Geology]

Once upon a time a band named Richmond Fontaine were an awesome rock band that dabbled in twisted folk and alt-country. They never got as loud as they should have, eschewing rock for more storytelling as their career progressed. Today, Disguised as Birds takes up that mantle. There’s a bit of bastardized twang to their otherwise loud and hard rock and roll. Where many alt-country bands began abandoning the Replacements blueprint at the end of the ’90s, it was left to rust until now. Disguised as Birds aren’t ready to claim the neglected Excalibur from its stony perch but there’s an urgency and anger bubbling in the music as they destroy four songs on We Buy Gold. There are moments however were the Milwaukee foursome hint at being more than this sampler of rock. The title track is a bit more wistful if the lyrics are still a bit obtuse about hard living. Disguised as Birds have some musical exploration to do and so long as they stay away from the heavier arena/debauchery rock of the late ’90s in favor of more storytelling heroes of yore, DaB will be worth a dip back into the rock and roll gene pool.

Links: Disguised as Birds - Geology

Sick Hyenas

Sick Hyenas

[CS; Dumpster]

There are tales of a mop-topped foursome who whet their appetites and gnashed their teeth in Hamburg before hitting it big. They were surrounded by equally talents groups without the same guidance or savvy, never to experience the same fame euphoria and sickened meditation as that group of lads. But that dirty biker fist in the jaw still smarts all these years later, and Sick Hyenas wear its scar while pounding out the residual pain of a city never to be swept up in the ancient storm. It’s why Sick Hyenas have not a lick of that post-Hamburg sound in their self-titled, but rather a vamped pre-VU garage vibe that feels close to home. The American Midwest has been mining these treasured surf digs for awhile but it’s hard to imagine Germany still clinging to its black and white days as a generation of Western musicians have taken motorik rather than rock from its vaults. Here it is brought back to you without a trick or an angle other than the form in which is first sprung out of a fatigued nation enamored with the sounds of the UK and US youth brigade. Still as relevant and infectious 50 years later, Sick Hyenas have done Hamburg a great justice. They’ll do your record collection equal service if given the chance.

Links: Dumpster

AJ Woods

AJ Woods

[CS; Tinyamp Records]

I wonder if people think there’s some kind of unwritten rule that new music out on cassette has to be weird or progressive? I’ll admit that maybe 70 percent of the tapes walked up to my door by Mr. Postman are indeed of the whack-job variety (which is great!), but any die-hard Cerberus follower should know by now that artists of all shapes, sizes and sounds are turning to tapes to spread their accessible missives to the mini-masses as well. The reasons for and advantages to having your music released on this format are many and have been so described, despite the quarterly-or-so assertions from major publications who still seem to think that the cassette is dead, or should be put to death in an expedient and gruesome manner. Well, I guess that means there are more of the 100-or-less copies of tapes like this lovely folk song collection from Albuquerque’s AJ Woods for you and me to flip at leisure, dear Cerberus reader. And leisure is what it’s all about here with the breezy and easy, hammock-swinging tunes sung on this tape. Don’t worry about any cassette warble here, that’s the endearing quake of Woods’ croon, a meek but strongly delivered voice, cracked under the pressure of upper-octave reach to reveal each song’s own little passions. All eight are minor-keyed, but in their soft sadness gaze up longingly with a starry-eyed wonder that feels hopeful and a little hopeless at the same time. Except “Ya Ta Hey,” – that one is a trudger, bleak and blackened with coal soot. Most of what we hear comes from Woods himself, on guitar, vox, and a little harmonica, but he also put a nice little band together for a couple of songs, including horns, organ, mandolin, and a sobbing pedal steel that underscore’s the record’s Southern twang. Since I can’t invite Woods or Clay Cantrell to come out to the Mountains personally, I’m sure glad to have a boombox and these tapes as my official camping companions this summer. So again: thanks, cassette tapes! You’re the best, but you already knew that.

Links: AJ Woods - Tinyamp Records

Zach Phillips

Recorded in Hell

[CS; Lillerne]

The backlash toward a blog or the strange looks attracted by Blanche Blanche Blanche matters not to Zach Phillips, which is what makes Recorded in Hell all the more fascinating. A sequel only in the spectral limits of the cassette and instrumentation itself, Phillips’ latest solo tape is a great look at the broken spectrum of pop music. The creativity comes in short bursts, proving any idea deserves a bit of timed exercise. Recorded in Hell is in fact an expansive release considering its mere 30-minute length. It exists in the land of tossed off-Sentridoh, throwaway Matthew Friedberger, and Trachtenberg Family Slideshow follies. Grand in style, reserved in execution, which is why its listening value is infinite. As everything blends, you’ll find the sections and songs to pick out from the happy mire to focus attention until a new nuance or sound drags you by the ear. Pop renewed anew!

Links: Lillerne



[7-inch; Inam]

Amara is such a strange beast, and I can’t figure out which side is which (no Gumshoe am I), so try to stay with me while I work out the nutz/boltz of this 7-inch lathe. (Also, side note: My needle wasn’t catching on occasion; had to re-dip the sonofabitch the get a good play going. I do, however, possess an old needle, so it could be me.) I’d liken this to an even more washed-out version of the first Guardian Alien LP on Monofonus Press. There’s a band playing three houses away yadda-yadda, BUT THERE’S MORE: Well, actually, there’s not that much more than that; or is there? I’m not sure if I’m hearing a band jamming or a wash of effects that is mimicking the sound’s traditional curvatures and tricking my senses. Eat yr fuckin’ heart out, Sutekh Hexen! If you’re one of the Cerberus readers interested in Fedora Corpse and In Context, pick this one up on the down-low (no one has ta’ see ya, pal).

Links: Dhow

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.