TMT Cerberus 16
Mouthful of Marbles

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. TMT Cerberus seeks to document the aesthetic of these home recorders and backyard labels. Email us here.

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Hoor-Paar-Kraat
Asha Dasha [CS]

[Acid Casualty Productions; 2010]
acidcasualtyproductions.blogspot.com
By Gumshoe

There are a lot of reviews out there that express helplessness when it comes to evaluating drone-y music. I say it’s simple: If it sounds good, then it’s good. Pretty complicated, right? Hoor-Paar-Kraat’s Asha Dasha cassette, originally released as a 44-run CD-R on Goat Eater Arts, definitely sounds guud, and I’ll tell you why. For one, like most of the drone material I hold close to my chest like a heart-shaped locket, it holds one’s attention with a cast-iron grip and never rests on its laurels, offering dungeon-key clanks, paint-can slams, and cavernous bass boosts amid its constant throb/ache/decay. It’s all about use of space; sounds easy, but so many fail to comprehend (much less pull off) its importance. Secondly, the “songs” of Asha Dasha live and breathe, menacing in their warm drip, cascading softly down a black mountain at midnight. Lots of rusted metal and busted kettles; a strong noise wind tearing through the forest, knocking out power lines and ripping trees from their roots. Mostly sedate in its evil, but, in the case of the latter half of Side B, absolutely rip-roaring, like Burial Hex birthed a drooling rancor. The last-minute purge of “Its & It’s” was much appreciated. Released in 100 pieces.

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Calypso Borealis
Uyang Okpo Usun [3-inch CD-R]

[Kimberly Dawn; 2010]
http://kimdawn.blogspot.com
By Jspicer

A French artist shrouded in mystery, Calypso Borealis only muddles expectations further with the release of Uyang Okpo Usun. Very much attuned to the spatial realities of the Northern Lights, Calypso Borealis taps into the earthly phenomenon to produce three equally icy, yet spectacular compositions. Little separates Calypso Borealis from the drones of like-minded artists, except perhaps the percussion that haunts “Jiwe La Singa.” The track jangles with chimes, lending it an “Eastern” tint that much of Western music relegates to cliché. Within Calypso Borealis’ pieces, this freedom of Japanese flare infuses the music with a purpose beyond the harmonic drones swallowing the boutique labels. Rather than focusing on the ‘how’ of creation, CB focuses on the ‘what.’ The end product is 23 minutes of solitary bliss, allowing us to circumnavigate the globe in a fury of electric lights.

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1958 – 2009
III [CS]

[Ekhein; 2010}
By Jspicer

The duo of Alex Twomey and Matthew Sullivan finish their Michael Jackson-inspired trilogy with the aptly titled III. Rather than going the obvious route, Twomey and Sullivan have created three tapes capturing the surreal of Jackson’s passing. III’s two lengthy sides are created as accompaniment for Jackson’s fateful helicopter ride from UCLA’s Medical Center to USC’s facilities, but the untitled masterstrokes are more akin to Jackson’s ascension to heaven. Everything concerning Twomey and Sullivan’s compositions is done with the airiest of touches, as if they were along for the ride to gently caress the King of Pop’s hair. But 1958-2009 isn’t about a loving Jackson tribute; it’s about tranquility in our darkest of times. It’s the sort of work that sharpens concentration while promoting inner peace and deep meditation. While III does dance at new age’s doorstep, it never invites itself into the Yogi’s residence. There are no white gowns and metaphysical mantras to recite, just a connection between mind, body, and soul. Getting us to reflect on the world around us was a loud cause for Michael Jackson, and Sullivan and Twomey pay him great homage by reciprocating such ideals.

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Sean McCann
Mammoth Mountain [CS]

[Roll Over Rover; 2010]
http://rolloverrover.org
By Jspicer

McCann is as prolific as they come, and though it’s been a hot minute since his own Bay Area label Roll Over Rover has released a batch of gooey goodness, McCann returns with a pile of material that will smear like melted chocolate over a youngster’s smiling face. Mammoth Mountain provides a new playground for McCann, who has easily shifted from simple guitar compositions to frenzied electronic madness into a warped symbiosis of his ideals. This 62-minute cassette is the kitchen sink; random algorithms of banjo plucks and bows of violin dot what can only be described as McCann’s stab at country. The Victrola dissonance of “T.J. Barrett,” the Alan Lomax captured beauty of “Watery Joe,” and talkie soundtrack of “Ewa & Edward” all lean toward McCann exploring the picturesque dilapidation of mountain music without sacrificing modern meandering. By the time Side B clicks to its death, you’re left with an empty feeling, wanting to visit the sepia tones of yore without that tooth decaying sweetness of T. Bone Burnett.

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M. Ostermeier
Percolate [3-inch CD-R]

[Parvo Art Recordings; 2010]
http://www.parvoart.org
By Gumshoe

These aren’t songs but processions; beat-/rhythm-based processions with a minimalist bent, M. Ostermeier — if that IS his real name — whacking-out his brain enough to set his music apart from the DJ generation and the instrumental hip-hop vampires. Time freezes and melts away, only an out-of-time high-hat to let you know you’re still listening; hiccups “pop” and float by, but never in conventional fashion, as they often end up jumping out front, obscuring not only the other sounds but the beats. There’s a post-rock component here, as there often is in such matters, but this is the rustic, ambient side of p-rok, a friend of Friends Of Dean Martinez or a Constellation band or a Lanterna lark or … remember Dof? No? It’s just me then. If parts/pieces of Percolate don’t show up on a soundtrack somewhere just run my ass right out of town; I’ll accept a respectful ousting as long as “His Station [In Life]” is playing while you do it. Could 3-inch be the best format going? Mmmmaybe, especially in micro-editions of 50. Ever heard of Arvo Pärt? Look ‘im up, mate.

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Rene HL.
Trespass {M.V.X.} [CS]

[Agents of Chaos; 2010]
http://groups.google.com/group/callow-god?hl=en
By Jspicer

Jeffrey Witscher continues to have a mesmerizing year, with a bevy of releases (an album on Type, cassettes for Night People and Ekhein), asserting his presence as can’t-miss entertainment. Trespass serves as a palate cleanser for Witscher’s previous works. At 15 minutes, it’s short but crackling. Sounds from each end of the spectrum push and pull at Trespass, as Witscher tries to make some sense of his creations. The beauty of Rene Hell/HL is just how fucked up and yet aesthetically pleasing the project continues to be. Variety is the spice of life, and in the time it takes a sitcom to climax, Witscher has caused multiple climaxes in a blend of odd oscillations, pulsations, panning, and synthesized melodies.

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Big Blood
Night Terrors on the Isle of Louis Hardin [CS]

[Cabin Floor Esoterica; 2010]
http://www.cabinflooresoterica.com
By Jspicer

Colleen and Caleb have long faced down the abyss of normalcy, choosing to wander the chasms and wastelands of adventure. Their dusty journeys have yielded ripened fruits, juice pouring out with each successive bite. Their nomadic souls continue to trek toward the third eye North Star throughout Night Terrors. Summoning the power of their cassette namesake Moondog, the pair produces an oddly gentle but sparse display of avant adventurous that test the mind, body, and spirit. The recordings are distant, as if the product of memories being worn from too many recalls. Faint whistles, taciturn piano, childish vocals, and postcard melodies the globe over find themselves stamped in the metaphysical passport of Big Blood’s latest. The heart of Night Terror is found in the discovery of travel, and despite the calluses and brittle bones of weary searching, the slideshow Big Blood have brought back this time smell of Middle Eastern street fairs and Asian bootlegs. There are a hundred stories hidden in Night Terrors, many of which will never reveal themselves to us until the mood is perfect.

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Locrian
“Falling Towers / After the Torchlight” [CS]

[Black Horizons; 2010]
http://www.black-horizons.com/
By Gumshoe

Maybe the best thing I’ve probed since starting the “Cerbs” gig, the “Falling Towers/Torchlight” cassette, at first, doesn’t seem like much save Dolby Noise Reduction and… is my tape player broken, sonny? What? Who? When? Anyway, the proceedings quickly turn enticingly dark and/or dismal, the Locrian machine churning out some of the most nuanced, BENt material I’ve heard it blast to tape in awhile, at least until “After the Torchlight’s” later fourth descends down a rabbit hole of less aggressive tones. Until that downhill slope lets you down easy, you get an odd mix of drumless bass, pan-heavy tones, manipulated sonics, guttural, throbbing lows, plaintive minimalism, and a general lo-fi fuzziness, the latter of which I wouldn’t normally associate with a Locrian cassette. It all gels rather swimmingly, the murky stew bubbling and steaming in a char-black coffin, the very idea of “drone” as a meditation exercise abducted and brutally murdered. MURDERED, all in favor of mood music you can kill people to. The huMANity! Two-hundred copies with a nice fold-out that is — shockingly — black.

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Br’er
Filled with Guilt & Diamonds [12-inch]

[Edible Onion; 2009]
http://edibleonion.com
By Jspicer

Edible Onion may be the best kept secret of the underground. Calling Philly home, the label specializes in hand-crafted packaging that not only stimulates visually but musically. Case in point: Filled with Guilt & Diamond. Released late last year, this EP by Br’er summons the wide swatch of pop music through the past century. Layering accessible melodies with avant idealism, Filled with Guilt & Diamonds has no peer grounding, taking pop in a direction far different than the current phenomena of chillwave or bedroom. There’s an innocence to be found in the sound of Br’er, but as evident by the cringe-worthy cover, the broken stream of musical consciousness, and disturbing lyrics (“Sugar Bear got off on rape/ This sugar bear got away with rape” and the murderous love of “Katie Did”), the duplicitous nature of Br’er and Edible Onion separate this from the poppy pack. The dark side reigns supreme on Filled with Guilt & Diamonds; ‘tis a shame we only now take notice.