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.
Lip Syncing to Verme [CS]
Aaron Dilloway’s Lip Syncing to Verme is the best kind of noise experiment: one that constantly turns the listener on his ear. D-way also takes the extra step necessary to extend a noise recording’s worth from “glad-I-checked-it-out-now-to-the-back-of-the-pile-with-you” to “I-find-you-enchanting-and-will-lovingly-place-you-on-the-Favorites-rack.” Side A is like hearing that short story wherein a young girl falls asleep and wakes up packed to the gills with ants (They had climbed into her nose, you see.): I’m creeped the-fugg out and I think something’s buzzing around my skull. I can’t really tell you what’s going on here. Dill could be sampling a pig’s “hoinkle” or diddling the innards of a dusty, hard-to-find Royal typewriter and I’d never know the difference between it and a duck’s fart (though officially my money’s on a piece of luggage being thrown around a room with snare-drum-head walls). And that’s of course the beauty of the whole process: I feel I’m learning by way of knowing it exists.
PWIN ▲▲ TEAKS
[Brave Mysteries; 2011]
Doom and gloom exporter Brave Mysteries continues to expand its stonewashed mind with acid-washed tomfoolery. How else to explain the schizophrenic wonders of the strangely twisted PWIN ▲▲ TEAKS? Blending warped tape loops and samples, Aoxomoxoa exists only in the mind, so to hear it coming from speakers only causes paranoia and anxiety. Noises come from all directions and in all pitches and tones, blending itself into a climax only suitable for those who can stand to watch Requiem for a Dream on repeat. But when the swirling nonsense does die down, PWIN ▲▲ TEAKS is discovered to be masters of nuance. As the din of “The Mirror Cabinet of the Water Witches” draws to a fade out, the rich layers of low-end rhythm and high-end drone unveil a band as steeped in musicology as it is in psychology. The cassette’s title track is even more subtle once it silences the voices talking over one another. Don’t be fooled by the stylized name and gimmick; PWIN ▲▲ TEAKS is deeper than their shallow name and trendy palindrome of a tape title leads on.
Shearing Pinx / Ahna
Shearing Pinx/Ahna [7-inch]
I’m way beyond the point of return with Shearing Pinx. I know and love them like the back of my hand, and the back of my hand is FUCKING AWESOME, an uncanny assortment of veins, skin, and sandy, blonde body hair. ShxPx’s side of their split 7-inch with Ahna isn’t particularly special when you consider the incredible scope and dearth of the former’s catalog, but it’s still a damn-fine egg. “Bodies” is more a groove than a noise-rock shard, starting off heavy-handed and ending in a warm pool of its own delicious leavings. More of those fantastic vox, by god; Pinx know how to stretch a larynx without pulverizing it. Ahna are like a young Shearing Pinx: They charge balls-/bass-out and scream right in your face, BLAHHHHHHHAHLKGKSALDG!$^&*#$!!, and a lot of folks aren’t going to like that. I, however, DO. It’s a robotic attack of slow, churning hardcore aggression. Ahna’s stuff is fairly rote considering the craziness being undertaken these days, but that’s also its charm. Think Dead And Gone/Creeps On Candy, Flipper, The Pope, etc., then click your heels twice to get back home.
[Organized Music from Thessaloniki; 2011]
By Matthew Horne
On the more abrasive side of Organized Music from Thessaloniki’s, Sister Overdrive’s (a.k.a. Giannis Kotsonis) Honey is a patchwork of at times short tracks stitched together into two sides of a cassette. As a result, it covers quite a bit of ground within the electro-acoustic and harsh noise spectrum but without ever feeling disjointed — as the liner says, “The structure, episodic on the surface, follows at the same time a larger form with a discernible internal logic.” This fractured yet consistent structure is reminiscent of a dream-like state experienced at supremal volumes; car jams for the catatonic.
Dead Wife / Hunters
Dead Wife/Hunters [7-inch]
[Swill Children; 2011]
Hunters are out of control then suddenly cool, calm, and collected, then out of control again. They pin The Je Ne Sais Quoi’s beating soul to the lapel of Hot Snakes and that pretty much solves the riddle right away: the new fuzz-meets-oi generation has another nice patch on its jack-it. Dead Wife are even better if you’re looking for a more punk-shot-in-the-teeth kinda time. Scared/scary vocals that wriggle from the speakers like alien worms, trebly guitars/drums and a metric ton of punk attitude; all it takes, really. In the time it takes to smoke a cig DW have spit out three wads of scrappy, loose-high-hat joy, and then you’re left to set the needle back OVER and OVER just to get that rush again. Not quite as heavy as that Kyklooppien Sukupuutto 7-inch from last issue and not as din-damaged as labelmates Okie Dokie; more of a straight-ahead ride, and that’s okay. Swill-Chil, kings of the hit-split.
M. Geddes Gengras
[Sacred Phrases; 2011]
Fort Wayne, Ind may not strike fear into the hearts of mortal men, but tape label Sacred Phrases will do its damnedest to change that attitude — even if they have to go outside their Hoosier borders to make it so. Prime example: the bombastic new cassette stunner from M. Geddes Gengras. Plastered with a fantastical fireworks display, Tetragrammaton puts the onus of synthesized pleasure on the listener, exploding with the fiery energy of its cover from the moment the play mechanism broaches the tape. Intro “Agape” leaves listeners just as it contends a whirlwind of sound kinetically combining into a synth sound that is neither the future nor the past, but the now — a much-appreciated exploration of the sound. Complement “IAO” is a softer, more sensual sound, perhaps a bit swank in Barbarella futurestyle but yet, one can’t help but sense the need to stay in the now from Gengras. B-side séance “LVX” is the first real hint of reaching out to the future, forgoing the combustible energy of Side A for the spatial. It’s a colder second half, but one that puts a bit of bite into Gengras’ work and Sacred Phrases’ reputation.
No Weird USA [CS]
[Feeding Tube; 2011]
Cave Bears, holy fuckballz. They’re for people who think Mama Baer “fuckin’ sold OUT man,” those who find harsh noise comforting and, perhaps most of all, those who believe that hysterical whimsy brings out the best in an abstract artist. These are sound paintings made with brushes covered in human excrement, video games constructed with broken pixels, and ballads dedicated to farm animals. My favorite moments don’t take a genius to “get” — the sudden swarms of Atari bleepity-bloop, fiery bathhouse scream-a-longs (I honestly don’t know what the “bathhouse” thing even means) — and it’ll probably be a few decades before I can really Digest all that’s going on here. I have to say, however, that it doesn’t ring that much crazier today than, say, Danse Manatee did in its day, which, well SHIT, wasn’t even that long ago besides. “No Weird USA” is too painful not to be ahead of the curve, if you know what I mean. Too instinctive to even question.
The Ketamines [7-inch]
Probably the best venture I’ve heard from Ho-Ziggety, and I’m no hater — I find they do rock just fine. The Ketamines go for the psych-rock juggernaut on a killer-diller B-side (“Dig”) and do a fabulous job not making dicks of themselves with cliched moves and well-worn saddles. More bands should cloak their echoes into eternity with synths and effects so delightfully squiggly. This is “Arnold Layne“‘s drugged-out nephew (who is a Ramones fan), and once again, I’m left to wonder: How am I going to move on after such a skull-searching sun of a flip-side? “Victims” makes it easier. We get more of the echo, more of the ghostly harmonies, but this time dressed in a more psych-punk feel — think Woven Bones’ vox overtop echo-drenched garage rock — than “Dig,” though either avenue suits them. I never tried Ketamine so apparently there’s another item to add to the bucket list…
Seven Stars [10-inch]
In having the pleasure to see Fennesz live last year, I learned how to properly listen to Fennesz: LOUDLY. With the ability to combine complicated layers with simple elegance, Fennesz flexes this muscle once more on the four-song Seven Stars — and if you’re aren’t testing speaker thresholds with this 10-inch, you are doing the system and the music disservice. “Liminal” is a rich combination of Fennesz’s brand of computer manipulations and deconstructed guitar playing, the undercurrent of distortion unraveling the slow dance into the minimal buzz of “July,” heavy with the electric buzz of humidity in an agitated atmosphere. “Shift” and “Seven Stars” play a mirror to the first half, further breaking down the elements that make Fennesz. Even in subtlety, the master requires high decibel levels to hear every intricate level, and though Seven Stars can be enjoyed on a superficial level, choosing such vapidity is cheating.
Rat Columns [7-inch]
[Smart Guy; 2011]
Despite some stumbles/mumbles, Rat Columns cover a lot of ground and come out a lot more unscathed than, say, YOU would. “I Wonder” is a lukewarm — in a good way — strip of effeminate indie-rock that screams for the early ’80s without raising its voice. I must say, I’m in love with this song’s up-tempo, yet still relaxed, gait. Don’t change, baby! But they do. “Keep Waiting” is buttressed by almost unbearable bassiness and yet another sound environment I’m goddamn impressed by, beholden to Factory, coldwave, noise, and modern detachment as it is. A lot of bands tried to nail the feel of “Keep Waiting” down over the years and failed (I don’t care what the reviews said at the time), so hats off to Rat Columns’ wonderful escapades. A super-strong dose of addictive, fleeting cool that bleeds black and burns slowly, to be sure. And don’t forget “Glass Coffin” on the flip, a more scattered, gypsy-esque outing that’s more desert-sun than eternal-night. By this time, it doesn’t even matter what “Darkness” brings (for the record: think Deerhunter); you’ve already heard enough light to turn on the switch.
[Hooker Vision; 2011]
There’s a film out in various parts of the world at the moment titled Apollo 18, which shows the horrors of a fictional space expedition from NASA gone horribly wrong. The idea of space as a horrid and ill-begotten spectacle is all too familiar in Western storytelling, and though Athens, Greece’s Lunar Miasma hints at some of that moon fever in name, the long-running project of Panos Alexiadis seeks a musical independence based in the stars, not some bloodthirsty need to prey on explorers of the cosmos. Existence does have a bit of madness to it, from the tense synth to warped speed changes. But somehow there is a welcome disconnect between space and horror; perhaps it’s the subtlety with which Alexiadis operates. Existence is often hush, serene. It chooses its moments and takes advantage of them, leaving much of the tape to be a reflective — meditative — experience. When the last click of the B-side pops, you’ll wonder just how many epiphanies were had… and why you’re so drawn to watching reruns of Carl Sagan and Jack Horkheimer.
Love Tape [CS]
If you liked that album Avey Tare did with Kría Brekkan, consider Silvia Kastel’s “Love Tape” a continuation of the eery, blurry-edged confines of one of the most controversial indie-rock records of all time. But it’s so much more. Much like that Prudence Teacup LP I Cerb’d up but-good last year, Kastel’s brand of lovin’ is distinct enough to exist on its own level, in its own zone, with its own rules and regulations. Every “song” blows in a completely disparate direction, and you never know what’s going to happen. One minute you could be chugging a bottle of liquid audio in a park as mosquitos suck out your essence and a one-man drum circle flips out hand-jamz out back, the next you could be asleep in the bathtub while an odd woman coos into your damp soul. Then it all dribbles down the drain and all we’re left with is that GODDAMN hand-drum, the title screen of Dig Dug, and a half-smoked bowl of salvia.
Sonny & The Sandwitches
Sonny & the Sandwitches [7-inch]
[Empty Cellar; 2011]
There’s a whole (attempted?) mythology behind the use of all the crazy band names on recent Sonny Smith records (a 7-inch boxset I saw around a few times had dozens of aliases and mock-ups) that I don’t know much about, but Mr. Smith himself rarely disappoints despite the fact that he’s bereft of a hook. He doesn’t have any distinct traits the listener can latch onto, and that’s the point — you have to listen to the songs and lyrics to break through. What a country!? These aren’t the best ditties I’ve heard Smith gently blast to wax — that Future Stress single hit me harder. Just good tunes, tight melodies, road-trip guitar interludes, and postcard lyrics. Just what I reckon ‘lot a’ you folks want, no? Not exactly what Gumshoe is groovin’ to these days, and yet I respect what Smith is trying to do, so godspeed and all that, chief.
Informal Mediation [CS]
[No Kings; 2011]
By Matthew Horne
The price of admission is worth it alone for the first side “Live at Emo’s, Austin, TX 2010.09.30,” which, for 30 minutes, might be the drone of the year. The jagged electronic pulsations of the track’s nascent moments quickly disintegrate into a soothing burner, during which said synth meanders atop a comforting organ. Much of my spring past was spent listening to this track; it had a knack for constantly reassuring me when I felt out of place, or surrounded by bothersome individuals (e.g. when, on Duke’s campus, some fraternity pledge almost floored me as he and his brothers were recreating Mario Kart).
[Family Time; 2011]
When a tape jumps out from the speakers and grabs one’s nutz, that’s a good thing. Norse Horse, whose split with Ancient Crux recently got a goose from Gumshoe, certainly never sounded like a tape-trader band to me, and here they’re even tighter/sharper/fitter/happier, with a recording that pleases the ear without kissing its ass too hard. Music such as this — drums, synths, bass, vox — can’t get by without spot-on melodies/harmonies, and “Grids” is beefy with both, though the tangy nature of the instrumentation is even more impressive. The way the songs dissolve into themselves reminds me of that first Shins album (which I will never get over), and much like that French Quarter record I can’t seem to get reviewed (sorry Sammy), it’s hard to believe how easy Nor-Hor make it sound. Almost terribly tuneful and aware of the right times to pull back and/or blast some oak doors open with knee-first ninja kicks. Limited to you, me, and the water cooler, if you know what I mean.
William Cody Watson
Her Tusk Was Adorned with Rose Petals[CS]
It’s not a complete Cerberus cycle without at least one quarterly mention of William Cody Watson — this time forgoing his nom de plumes (Gremlynz, Pink Priest) in favor of baring his sleepless soul. Her Tusk Was Adorned with Rose Pedals plays as lovely and as gory as the title implies; both sadistic and beautiful in its presentation as it unfurls before us as if in a trance. Watson’s listless musical soul has long mined droning melodies for spiritual awakening; with Her Tusk, he adds piercing electronics and dark tones. This is the work of a man who, disrobed of his monikers, is still putting up a wall between himself and the listener. Whatever personality quirks have led to this more dangerous Watson are unknown, but we’re better off for it. This is his “Chariots of Fire” actually ablaze; all the dreams he’s kept tucked under his pillow shredded, then coiled to make tape. When play is pressed, you too will succumb to Watson’s confessional tone. No words, just mood. At times uplifting but mostly a wobbled and fragile piece of art, Her Tusk’s blend of stripped electronics, buzzing drone, and methodical synth speaks to a Sandman that will never come; to a world not worth the effort to dream again.
When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth
[Black Labs/Monofonus Press; 2011]
I swear I remember When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth being anything but, shall we say, Kind circa their most recent full-length, and… it’s obvious I’m going to need to revisit a lot of shit because WDRTE are fuggin’ AWEsome, on par with Gay Beast, Mikaela’s Fiend, Daniel Striped Tiger, pre-facelift Abe Vigoda, and any other group in the modern indie mid-skronk zone. There’s also some nice slowdown; listening to parts of “Peaced” after hearing Jerusalem and any early Sabbath record is like passing a jolt-heavy joint from generation to generation, with Dinosaurs’ version of the lumbering beast actually being a secondary attraction, of course. Dominant are the scars of noise-rock shock-shuckers like Shearing Pinx, Arab On Radar, AIDS Wolf, and Erase Errata (lock those bands in a room together, by the way, and… I’ve said too much), and the production is treble-blessed and absolutely awful, so… more points for them! A limited-edish adventure that’s still available, so don’t drag those hairy, balls-looking knuckles of yours.