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.
Cambodian Field Recordings [CS]
[No Kings; 2011]
The art of the authentic field recording is one collecting dust on Alan Lomax’s archival shelf. Recording the sounds of the working world is a tiring but rewarding task. Stephen Molyneux (of Horsehair Everywhere) picked up the torch from ethnomusicologists of Lomax’s ilk throughout a not-too-distant year spent in Thailand and Cambodia. The result is 24 minutes of haunting legitimacy of a culture that will be distant to our own. Cambodian Field Recordings does little to bridge the cultural gap, rather focusing on the carnivalesque music Molyneux captured while traveling through Cambodian provinces Battambang and Siem Reap. The sounds carry a spectral quality, reverberating in the space between Molyneux’s equipment and the air in which the sounds passed. The ethereal production only adds to the exotic mystique of the recordings, allowing for summer daydreams of Southern Asia travels.
No Becoming [CS]
[Sweat Lodge Guru; 2011]
By Matthew Horne
With every Lee Noble release, there always seems to be at least one infectious song, the sort of track you could listen to on repeat for hours, permitting it to bore into your subconscious and permeate all of your being. On No Becoming, that track is “Paradise Life,” a song that haunts me at all hours of the day, in every sort of weather. I want to crawl into Lee’s paradise and ensconce myself in his soothing synths and gargled acoustic guitar.
Keith Fullerton Whitman
“Regaining Composure” b/w “Negating Freedom” [CS]
Matthew Sullivan’s label is only 50 releases deep, but the care taken into the curation of content and its minimalistic aesthetic separates the label from myriad competitors and pretenders. So it comes as no surprise that 2010 all-star Keith Fullerton Whitman would bring gentle modulation to the threadbare Ekhein. Whitman has been blending pop and experimentation in mind-numbing variation, but “Regaining Composure” — a strange, soothing lullaby of technology — is the most overt combination of subtle tones and mathematics to create transcendence of genre. It is a broken music box, still able to crank out its docile melody with a beauty only understood by those who favor the odd and obtuse. “Negating Freedom” is far more mercurial, as it roots around the toy box, switching speed and depth as Whitman’s toy piano sine-waves tightrope between ratcheting up the fright factor and easing one into easy sleep. KFW’s latest two tracks continue the master’s game of guess, ensuring 2011 to be just as fruitful as 2010.
Scott Tuma / The Brothers Pus
“Peeper” / “Love Songs Loud and Lonely” [CS]
[Bathetic Records; 2011]
Scott Tuma doesn’t completely drop the ball on the soft, tingly, windchime Side A of this massive — song-length-speaking — cassette platter, but I’m not gonna be speaking “A” much regardless because Side B is so much more all-enveloping, one long scribble-squiggle-giggle-scratch across all sorts of swathes, subgenres, and subtexts. Time drifts, sand pours downward, truckers talk on their Squawk Boxes, deranged blues singers croon, soft guitars strum fireside, children cry, natural disasters ERUPT-TWIST-FLOOD-PLOW-DOOOM-DESTROY then recede, storm clouds form and dissipate, plots unfold into origami shapes you can eat with your ear, and, well, need I say more? So many gang-tapers miss the point of the cassette format — yes, you’re supposed to STREEEETCH it out like a Caramel-O, but it’s ALSO your duty to arrest my earz the entire time. No freebies, no sudden one-pump-chump climaxes chased by boredom, no beating around the already-abused bush. Sold out at the source (like every goddamn Bathetic release I’ve tried to cover), but do a little you-know-what-‘in and I’m sure you’ll find a copy somewheres.
Fossils from the Sun
Pop Shoot Pop [CS]
Ray Hare re-imagines psyche! It’s a clichéd and easy tagline, but Hare’s solo project, Fossils from the Sun, is the strongest embodiment for constant high-end/low-end psychedelic experimentation. Pop Shoot Pop is a disorienting wave, obliterating what you know about traditional acid tropes, re-envisioning them as tonal crafts. Much of the A-side is heavy, Hare drilling with the anticipation of hitting black gold. Aside from the aptly titled “Shimmers,” the thick melodies are ready to sprout furiously from Hare’s derricks. Meanwhile, Side B is the sound of oil working its way to the surface. “Pop Shoot Pop” crackles as the viscous liquid comes to life below the earth’s crust; “Eye, Eye” is the final push from old roughnecks hectically pumping, birthing the chaos of the industrial world via the radio recorded finale of “Swiftest Star.”
The Beginning of a Protracted Struggle [12-inch]
[La Station Radar; 2011]
If I were to construct a Dream Band out of different instrumental elements, Horsehair Everywhere would provide a lot of those enviable puzzle pieces: pounding tom-toms, vocals that are but a distant echo, sloppy rhythms, mystic flutery, eternal song lengths, a consistently surging bottom line, and the willingness to record one’s jam-space leavings — or live-show source tapes, in this case — for all the world to hear. Much like Avarus, Sunburned Hand Of The Man, Wooden Wand/Vanishing Voice, Excepter, Smegma, Kemialliset Ystävät, Spires In The Sunset Rise, older Sylvester Anfang material, and other such wandering music minstrels, Horsehair shed all pretense and go for in-the-moment thrills rather than carefully constructed puppeteering, members switching instruments casually like swingin’ wife-swappers and letting their every unattractive blemish stand out as if it were part of the painting in the first place. And maybe they were; that’s not my call. What I can do is guide you in the right direction while also drawing attention to cool-ass foreign labels like La Station Radar, which I guess I’ve already done… Time for hot wings, no!?
ARTIFACT [4DVD + CS]
Those who have witnessed Lipstate’s live show often find themselves as equally mesmerized by her filmmaking skills as they are her array of pedals and demure presence. ARTIFACT marks Lipstate’s first stab at combining her passions into a direct-to-consumer package. The four looping DVDs capture a recent installation, but it’s the cassette where Lipstate’s imagination grabs hold. Each six-minute cassette was uniquely recorded, one-of-a-kind artifacts (pun!) that link listener to artist. The first track to come to life from this idea may be the lightest Lipstate track I’ve ever heard. As her recorded output moves toward heavier basslines and deeper rhythms, the loop is ginger in its approach. Notes dance as if flower pedals carried in a warm summer breeze. The mood matches the installation’s isolated pictures recalling the work of Rodney Graham (in the place of Graham’s pop culture reinventions is one linked to abstract thought). Sadly, ARTIFACT’s supposed run of 50 was cut to 20, making its careful packaging and etched lettering the trophy of but a few Noveller fans; worse still, only 20 unique loops exist when Lipstate has proven herself capable of at least 50.
[Isolated Now Waves; 2011]
I swear to Christ these Shearing Pinx/Isolated Now Waves folks never fuckin’ quit; hundreds of releases and always a fresh perspective on Heaviness and ways to best distribute it over the course of a tape, 7-inch, 12-inch, or LP. In Totally Ripped’s case, there’s never a break: drums like machine guns (“TAKE COVER!” “I’M HIT!!!”), screeching noise candy, more blips and bleeps than Computer World… A band for those who find Hella to be too mellow and enjoy a good Tali-bam-thank-you-ma’am every morning; I never thought I’d be able to say that, but now there are several bands that fit both of those descriptions. Brave new world, innit? Like Don Caballero’s drummer — drunken — fronted by Edmond de Deyster (also drunken). Think I’ll dunk my head in a tub of gasoline and walk around stinking of the fumes all day like Philip Seymour Hoffman in Love Liza.
Sparkling Wide Pressure
Fragments of a Sound I Can Not Erase [5-inch CD-R]
[Kimberly Dawn; 2011]
By Matthew Horne
The always sharing Frank Baugh (a.k.a. Sparkling Wide Pressure) has uploaded this turbo sold-out gem to his Bandcamp, allowing the masses to experience Frank’s (possible) career high Fragments of a Sound I Can Not Erase. This nugget of a droner unfolds over the course of seven tracks, highlighting SWP’s varied guitarscapes and overflowing expressiveness. “This record, in fragments,” as Frank says in the liners, “is built on fragments of friends and fragments of one we are unable to forget.” There’s a halcyon familiarity found within these fragments, of memories, friends, and places one would never dare erase.
Lion of Judah [7-inch]
[Not Not Fun; 2011]
Very few expect quality to rise from the academic molasses of Bloomington, Indiana. But beyond the successes of Mark Cuban and Jared from Subway, the small college town dominated by campus has birthed the righteous indignation of Dylan Ettinger. Carving his brand with New Age Outlaws, the road dogg returns with the melting dub of Lion of Judah. The 7-inch’s title track finds the dance halls of Jamaica slowly burning in the midst of alien attack; smoked-out tractor beams sucking the end of Kingston until all that’s left is a coveted roach of ashy synth and a brain swimming in happy confusion. B-side “Baptism” follows the mothership home, as it repetitively satellites Earth, lost amidst the stoned philosophy of Peter McIntosh and Lee Perry. “Baptism” is a bit aimless — perhaps lending itself to the track’s name — but when paired with “Lion of Judah,” it makes for an all-too-quick story that will continue to beacon to the turntable. Put a penny on the needle’s arm and send it for a loop. Galactic bong accessories sold separately.
“The Sun Was High (And So Was I)” [7-inch]
[Art Fag; 2011]
“That’s the Way Boys Are” is what I had hoped Vivian Girls would eventually sound like: melodic, fuzzy, pretty; then the Vivs lost me super-fast, and it’s been awhile since a band like them did anything for me. Enter Best Coast. Not exactly a dream come true, but warmer than most, at times getting into Smith Westerns-with-a-female-singer territory (which is fine by me) and bumping uglys with about half the HoZac/Goner rosters. Very woozy and loose-y-goose-y. “Sun Was High (So Was I)” is more of the same: vaguely important-sounding and familiar, implanted with feeling and a sort of slo-mo sensibility that serves Best Coast well. I think the 7-inch format works wonders for BC, as I couldn’t imagine listening to 14 songs of this (hey, prove me wrong, children!) but enjoy it in small doses. That their songs are treated to light-ocean-blue vinyl is all the better.
Chica X [CS]
[Hewhocorrupts, Inc; 2011]
A 10-year-old gal from East Moline, Illinois would normally equal the worst idea for a recording star. But we’ve learned something from Human Skab as the decades have rolled by. Granted, this weirdo mashup won’t be for everyone, but with a flow like M.I.A., melodies like 80s FM, and the attitude of MC Lyte, Chica X’s self-titled cassette hints at a bright future. “Da Bank” is all sass, as the youngster talks about the bravery to take to the stage while dissing listeners on their inability to flow or get laid. “To the Library” is destined to attract elementary students to their local library with its industrial, old-school beats. But how does Chica X fit into Cerberus? While this may be too cute to handle for most, those who stick with it will find themselves warped into odd universe inhabited by Tim & Eric and Vernon Chatman without the over-the-top adult gross-outs. There’s nothing wrong with cute, but then again, my ovaries have been acting all kinds of funny and there’s this ticking in my head.