[CS; Cryptic Carousel]

I’m often asked if I miss Seattle (A: every day). And though I could point to the weather, the culture, the atmosphere and the thrill I got from seeing every second bit trend come and go, the honest answer is no duo like #tits is going to spring forth from the Midwest. Which is a shame because #tits is something straight outta Rookie, except far more vitriolic and destructive. BFFs, each side seemingly proclaiming a cup size. The album’s cover a cheeky reference to the other objectified area of a woman. But the music, oh the music. It’s a brutal guitar assault from G. Kate Wiebe & Rachel N. LeBlanc; a raw, visceral display of noise acumen in a scene where a “lack” of women is but a reality existed with blinders. There’s no doubt that this is noise of the highest annoyance and its sting is intensified by it being proudly amplified by two women. In Seattle, it’s a shrug and a bit of pride. But here in middle America, #tits couldn’t be a bigger middle finger if it was a giant foam hand that had a walking fish and rainbow bumper sticker stuck to it. Of course times are changing and the youth are breaking those standards, but the old guard is refusing to let go of its position in the High Castle. #tits are the sort of rallying cry – beyond the gender and genre they occupy – that makes a silent generation take notice, and not just objectively.

Links: #tits - Cryptic Carousel

Go No Go For Launch


[CS; Field Hymns]

Field Hymns dips into the re-issue game a little bit here in digging up an album by a fellow named Randall Taylor from back in 2006, which is (for lack of a better term) 8-bit butt-rock. Amazingly, I don’t exactly remember that being the hip style nine years ago… maybe I just missed the bandwagon. Or maybe I didn’t: Go No Go For Launch was a salvaged favorite of Dylan McConnell’s, received and rejected as a demo submitted to another label he was working for at the time, and essentially inspiring his uniformly ultra-badass cassette imprint in the process. So Jerk-Ass records missed out, and here we are a decade later with what I’m calling an “8-bit butt-rock tape.” And while I don’t totally blame you for raising an eye-brow at that and considering whether or not you’ll wanna get any closer to this thing, let me just stop you right there and quickly let you know that I love this shit. Listen to what’s there: Drum-machines, blippy synth-pop hooks, all underscored with chunky guitar riffs and thumps of bumpy bass. It’s just cheesy enough, just raw enough, just (un)real enough; just exactly enough. Tempos are at a tolerable “up,” – nothing so breakneck you might break your neck, which is something I find refreshing, since sending stuff like this into drill’n’drone territory could feel like a cop-out. It takes some restraint and real control to keep it keeled back like Taylor does on Re-Entry, and the melodies, bright and bouncy bounties they are, ring clean and true through it all. Sometimes you can feel that rushing, surging urge, a line getting slightly ahead of the backbeat, falling forward in hot anticipation of the next verse. I hear this as evidence of just how happy and excited this music is to be alive, to have been composed, and to be jogging laps around your ears. There’s a living pulse to the music that’s aerobic, exercise that doesn’t actually feel like exercise; yeah, it’s sweaty, but it’s also bleached with the feeling that you’re not gonna be hurting the next day. And as I struggle a bit myself with the pre-mid-life realizations that – Christ – I’m twenty pounds heavier at 30 than I was at 20, Go No Go For Launch is gonna be my daily inspiration to try to be exactly what it is: Fit, in-shape, and ready to fucking dominate each day ahead.

Links: Field Hymns


Only Shadows Now

[LP; Bruit Direct]

A Liverpoolian brood and a laissez male croon. Wonderfuls latest is a stark and cold set with the voice of Mark Knopfler colliding with the emoting of Nico. A moody affair plucked out on guitar and synth, these are the simple word poems of Bobby Bot matching the unknown north beyond the band’s Brisbane and Gold Coast home. What lies in the outback is but a longing mystery that has driven many men to seek what they’ll never fine. Clearly Bot has taken this sojourn, its effects hanging like the album’s shadowy namesake across the void that is now his sung life. Yet in its bleak appearances, Wonderfuls has with it a ray of hope. These are but emotions put to lyrics and music; the worst of man splayed out in art. Bot is playing the patron at the pub and we the bartenders. We can relate to his tales of woe and misfortune, for we too have heard the call and answered it. It may not be a physical journey, but we’ve cuddled up to sad bastard records and lengthy prose to tease out our misery. Which is why Only Shadows Now will continue to find a home on our turntables even when the civility of wives, children and jobs chase those calls of the wild away for new fears.

Links: Bruit Direct

Polígono Hindú Astral


[CS; Conjunto Vacío]

Polígono Hindú Astral, an outfit affiliated with Gumshoe-approved Burka For Everybody label, have a way of making its albums your favorite on the shelf without going to great lengths to impress you. 67P doesn’t quite have the snap-crackle of 00110010, an LP PHA put out this year, but its highs are a bit higher, lows a bit lower. At times you’ll swear you’ve stumbled upon ecstasy for the ears, just be prepared for a bumpy ride through the programmatic universe of the post-prog synthwave era upon us. Polígono Hindú Astral seem manic, frenzied, and excited to be alive, but most importantly, they’ve done their homework. 67P never clumsily rips off Steve Hillage or Harmonia as it searches for identity, instead trusting in the heat of the moment to tell them what their hearts mean. But this ain’t ASIA (the band) dawg; I shouldn’t have to tell you that. PHA is for the children, a tingle-inducing stew of clean cuts that sparkle like diamonds even in darkness. Drink it in.

Links: Polígono Hindú Astral

Thee Tsunamis

Saturday Night Sweetheart

[LP; Magnetic South]

Thee Tsunamis have long haunted parts of the Midwest with a retro B-movie vibe of swamp monsters and haunted hotrods. It seems the trio has gone further back in time with their kitsch without forfeiting the forward movement of their music. Saturday Night Sweetheart may have the sheen of three women in 50’s garb but the gnarly music demystifies the idea that women just want to be treated like dolls. Openers “Female Trouble” and “Trash Talk” do much to transform the old girl-band standard by completely destroying them with a punch to the jaw. Yet Thee Tsunamis never run from those doo-wop love songs that make the band so unique in a scene crowded with garage-tinged bands. It’s a strange dichotomy that a man is in no way positioned to speak about, only to admire. But before that, I’m just going to kick back with a beer and a white sleevless, sitting on the hood of my car and blast this out the windows. Maybe slick the hair back and find a black leather jacket. Cruise the streets and hope to land in a time when Saturday Night Sweetheart wouldn’t be weighed down by semantics but praised for being a ballsy rock and roll record showcasing a band that continues to grow confident with each passing release. I better shut up – I’m just a “Dummy” and shouldn’t be talking.

Links: Thee Tsunamis - Magnetic South

Yannis Kyriakides + Andy Moor

A Life is a Million Heartbeats

[LP; Discrepant]

I’m not sure how Discrepant Records locates the best ethnotronic acts (journeys to faraway lands? chat rooms? psychic connections?), but the label that brought you Gonzo/Lowdjo and Kink Gong now comes forward with Kyriakides and Moor’s Life is a Million Heartbeats, an exploratory mission to the center of Greek rebetika music’s skull. Seeing as I’ve never heard this particular genre (and I’m guessing you haven’t either), all I can ostensibly do is tell you what to expect. And brother, you should expect a lot. The duo, using guitar, live samples, and electronics, manage to project this mysterious music onto a new cave wall, revealing intricacies that may or may not have anything to do with the root source of the rebetika tunes they’re jiving all over. Suffice to say, while Moor and Kyriakides harbor reverence for the artform, they’re not shy about widening its eccentricities and tweaking around with what seem to be its most ironclad conventions. My favorite section is the last song on Side B (so typical, amIright?), a screeching guitar-drone that sounds like an electric, old-school BJM riff paused and stretched over five minutes, with accents sprinkled on to taste. Also breathtaking are the samples of female vocals, quivering and ghostly enough to haunt your family for generations if you dare to spin Life is a Million Heartbeats in your home. I just heard something ‘creek’ in the other room so I gotta go…

Links: Discrepant

Rob Mazurek

Alternate Moon Cycles

[LP; International Anthem]

Being late to the party is better than never arriving, though I do feel like I’ve come at the end when the revelers have gassed out. But that’s when the real fun begins, supplied by this patient post-crash bliss. Rob Mazurek has assembled a trio that subtly plays with expectations of experimental jazz. Rather than flamboyant pop and spazz, Mazurek (cornet), Matt Lux (bass) and Mikel Patrick Avery (organ) create a space of zen reflection. The New Year has come, “Auld Lang Syne” has wafted into the night and what’s left but a half-year of shattered expectations and new dreams. It’s the same cycle and Mazurek captures it eloquently with this headphone masterpiece of wistful belief. Alternate Moon Cycles is what it takes to survive the after party, Mazurek’s cornet playing a mournful blast of reverie at just the right moments; the tribute to the dying years and faded memories without forgetting all that’s past. The streamers may be drooping, the party-goers sunken. Yet we will see the sun rise and at dawn, a new beginning. Until then, we shall stare at the blinking stars and the waxing moon to await the fate of tomorrow.

Links: Rob Mazurek - International Anthem



[CS; Obsolete Future]

I think we’re getting to the point where there is no real “future” to look forward to any more, musically speaking at least. We’ve caught up with it, dammit, and Culprit quite simply is that future in all its cybernetic glory. What the Kraftwerkian Gods of yore foretold and prophesied oh so many decades ago, here now, present in the robo-flesh. This is it, people, this is where we’ve come, and I’ll be the first to let you know that it’s a damned fine future in which we’re living, indeed. The musical product of former Denverite Cory Brown and current Dan’l Boone’r Charles Ballas is a dystopian dance party for Terminators, red lasers slicing through club room fogs, beaming forcefully from the eyes of these twin terrorizers. The duo create a haze, coating the sound space with buckets of rich and textured synthesizer, and chopping the metric timeline into staccato bits of percussion atop wonkified gobs of dub-inflected bass. Touchstones like Autechre and Mouse on Mars are definitely here, although Culprit blasts through pretensions like thin paper to reveal themselves as a true-to-self, confident and distinguished voice in experimental electronic dance music, rounding the release out with glittery ambient side-steps to offset the beat-heavy bulk of the record, like “Tinsel,” side A’s dreamy, Gamelan-in-heaven closing number. Easily one of the best sans-guitar tapes I’ve come across yet this year.

Links: Obsolete Future

Arttu Partinen/MSHR/The Tenses

2015 Tour Split

[CS; Pigface]

We are in ugly, square times. Proper urban weirdos have been replaced with “artisans”, in conservative garb more fit for lumbersexual lookbook than basement gig; in most places, the freak flag flies at half-mast, if it flies at all.

For what, though? We’re INVITED to the party! Adult Swim is throwing money at Wham City, Wolf Eyes are practically a classic rock band, even fucking Kanye is trying to get a taste of weird (admittedly, more of a Thirlwell/Skinny Puppy kinda weird than anything deep underground, but who knows what tomorrow brings with that guy? From where I’m sitting, it’s only a matter of time before he tears into the Violent Onsen Geisha back catalog and starts “homaging”). It’s high time for weirdos to sneak in, cash in, then spend the money on bulldozers and get to work knocking down some fucking condos.

Arttu Partinen (he a Finn Freak lifer whose resume includes Anaksimandros, Hetero Skeleton, and the mighty Avarus) has reliably hoisted the flag high, because they’re NOT CHICKENSHIT over in Finland. Rapid-fire collage moves not not akin to Folke Rabe, Henry Jacobs, or Cage’s “Fontana Mix”, albeit perhaps a bit more basement-hunched than those forebears. Flip of this split is fellow lifers the Tenses (Ju Suk Reet Meate and Oblivia, also of international freak scene godparents Smegma) jamming out in space with younger art-damaged turks MSHR, and the results are unsurprisingly O-mind friendly. This could be us, but you playin’ (boring rock/EDM music (for squares)).

Links: Arttu Partinen/MSHR/The Tenses - Pigface

Bourbonese Qualk


[2xLP; Mannequin]

Bourbonese Qualk were so elusive even labeling them with the shape-shifting ‘industrial’ tag seems a mistake. Yet that’s what history has done, so despite the post-punk overtones, avant garde flashes, experimental synth buzzes, awkward quasi-funk, cold/darkwave accents and noisy nuisance, BQ’s spot in the Dewey Decimal system of modern music is secure. That shouldn’t discourage you from delving into 1983-1987 because the material therein has had an outsized influence on that which followed. Modern underground darlings German Army (covered last column) wet their beaks in the Qualk trough, as did older acts like Disco Inferno, Atari Teenage Riot and the electronic musicians of the late ’90s in general. And yet that still only covers a small swath of what Bourbonese Qualk accomplished from 1983-1987 (just imagine trying to compile their entire output; that’s the stuff of insanity). And what are we supposed to do with coy instrumental “There is No Night,” floating in a koi pond of pan flutes? Or “God With Us,” a modern-sounding collision of samples, clumsy half-rhythms and disturbing tones (reminiscent of Houston’s Indian Jewelry in advance)? Don’t even get me started on “Blood Orange Bargain Day”; just know that if you’re ever in the cockpit of an airplane in your dreams, you have a song to wake up to. Does the preceding sound like the work of a strictly adherent ‘industrial’ act? I didn’t think so; drop the labels, folks.

Links: Mannequin

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.