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.
Plates Of Cake
“As If the Choice Were Mine” b/w “Transit Trials” [7-inch]
[All Hands Electric; 2011]
SHIT. Easiest review ever: Plates Of Cake have adorned my table ever since they were spliced together from chunks of old doo-wop classics, Leonard Cohen programs, stained diner menus, post-punk lore, Jonathan Richman’s surrealist slant, and, aww hell, involuntary facial hair. “As If the Choice Were Mine” brings a second vocalist into the mix, a surprise move considering the last record (which I loved maybe a bit too much) was all about lead singer/songwriter Jonathan Byerley. It’s never easy to get used to change when you liked what you started with, so there’s that. Still a nice cut. “Transit Trials,” like seemingly 75% of flips, is even better than the A. Catchier melody, better bridge, ringing riffs — music for winners and losers and those who love and hate them. I hate to rush you guys, but… I want more.
Hobo Cubes / J. Hanson
The Self Beyond/Vac Siddha [CS]
Francesco De Gallo and Josh Hanson together on the same tape — this must be heaven, the one sung about by David Byrne, not the cloudy, spiritual mess praised on a pulpit by bullies and haters. Wait, this isn’t heaven; this is beyond heaven. Not even [insert your spiritual advisor] could commission something this transcendentally great. It must be sent from the cosmos, but little green men would want to anally probe me in exchange for this sort of enlightenment, and my ass ain’t sore. Turns out, it’s from Digitalis — that wellspring in the middle of nothingness that somehow always manages somethingness. Now it all makes sense. As you can clearly fathom by text and title, De Gallo — as Hobo Cubes — takes over the A-side as Hanson is left with the whole of the B-side. Yet the two don’t duel, they combine. Two distinct styles and personalities blend into one harmonious split, therefore eradicating the divide and combining into one: J. Hobo. De Gallo’s work has always maintained a sort of Carl Sagan cosmic glow, and though it’s present, it also eschews it with opener “Exploring Science,” a more meditative and traditional ambient affair. Hanson’s vision is more Kurbrick than Sagan, but the darker tones do lighten up, expanding into the great abyss of the Big Bang; “Ecstasy and Rebellion,” the frantic movement of atoms before exploding into new constellations and gases. Put this on an infinite loop and never let it stop — it is the sound of the heavens, the stars, the beyond. The Hal-Bop has arrived!
Flourescent Swamp [CS]
[Cubic Pyramid; 2011]
Straight up: I love everything about Melted Glass’ Flourescent Swamp cassette, from the visual execution right down to the next-level, noise-making-wolfman style of the music. Give it up, homies! This is the type of tape-gunk, junk-trading sprawl that takes a metric ton of trust to swallow whole, and as it turns out, I’d honor their oath till the end. Groups/artists like Babe Terror, Lead Sister ii, Jazzkammer, Buon Giorno Luamada, Eric Copeland, Dead Texan, Nurse With Wound, and many more have a new playmate. Just don’t get too close, as the buzzards swarming ‘round Side B will tax that ass. Drones like this beg the question, Why do we even care about drums? Let’s just hold hands, follow the drip-drips, and drift into the misty foregrounds of heaven.
A Fantasy In Seasons [CS]
[NNA Tapes; 2011]
By C Monster
I shared this cassette with my favorite coworker, and she said it reminded her of background music to a glitch-fucked poetry slam competition. My brow was raised by the amount of hand drumming I heard over the synthetic wash-out echoed throughout A Fantasy In Seasons. And what made it exciting for me was the unique structural changes within songs, shifting between mystery and awe, wonder and sensibility, human and human-made. Or, it’s like the feeling after fucking for a while and then changing positions to confuse your parts. And it’s not a sneaking shift either, but more along the lines of a conversation you’ve been involved in for the last 15 minutes, only now you’re listening in. Maybe it’s better compared to watching a creepy movie on a sleepless Saturday night, but come Sunday, you think, “Fuck terror, I need my sleep.” Err — something like that. It ain’t chilly to be willy, but A Fantasy In Seasons certainly falls under the will of chill.
Sun Boxes at Martha’s Vineyard [Object d’art]
“Harnessing the power of the sun” is usually a cheap writer trick to describe some off-the-wall brand of psychedelia when words about bongs and weed fail to produce the correct imagery. But in the case of Craig Colorusso’s mammoth art installation, it’s the most apt description this side of a bad Sunny D commercial. The installation’s 20 solar-powered speakers are an act of artistic attrition, gamely gawkers becoming part of the experiment as they please. Colorusso’s venture into Martha’s Vineyard with his hefty prizes seems an odd fit, but the results proved lovely, the notes fading in and out at syncopated intervals as the ocean waves and peninsular breezes provide atmospheric accompaniment to the Sun Boxes’ singularity, mimicking a high-tech wind chime buzzing with the timidity of nostalgia.
Mothers of Gut
The Inanimate Sermon [CS]
[Family Time; 2011]
Ooh, indie-rock, eh? Well played, both literally and figuratively. Right when I pop it in the deck, The Inanimate Sermon rocks like that first Food Pyramid tape on Moon Glyph and rolls like Stereolab going downhill in a steroid rush, a crowded-yet-spare mix of guitar pitter-patterns and Harmonia rhythms. It would make my job easier if the motif stayed the same and sorta floated into hyperspace, but the motorik mood is dispelled almost immediately by a squishy ballad, one part “Sphagnum Esplanade,” one part Mystic Chords Of Memory, one part new-age — we’re talkin’ fucking pan flutes here — lazerquest, and all giggity-giggity goodness. The hippy strums continue on the flip. Words are almost a waste when music clicks this naturally; get this thing.
These Feathers Have Plumes
All Cats are Grey by Night [CS]
Subtlety is a lost art. So is patience. Andie Brown displays both within All Cats are Grey by Night. Much like the stealthy street cat, Brown creeps up slowly on melody, leaving the carcass untouched by the time his mighty incisors have sunken deep into the avian victim. This is drone from another era, so gentle and disarming yet so vicious and efficient. There is no need for flash; Brown is confident that the work shall speak for itself, that silence is just as effective an instrument as any man-made device. Ideas are allowed to float, the silence not uncomfortable at all. A combination of double bass, field recordings, and the air in the room is all that is needed for communication. We’ve allowed ourselves to be tied to the matrix. Buzzing, bright gadgets with mumbled names compete for our attention, distracting us from the natural world and its gifts. Brown harnesses it with simplicity and grace, even if just for a few fleeting moments.
Music For Sounding Sculptures In Twenty-Three Movements [CS]
I’m not normally one for the science-experiment, lock-me-in-a-room-with-different-noise-instruments-and-I’ll-whip-together-an-album kinda feel. If you truly rip your guts out, however, I can be persuaded to listen. Marcello Magliocchi is a hard-working cat, when it comes right down to it. Far from taking — or should I say, taping — the easy road, Mags scrapes together nearly 60 minutes of improvisations, running the gam(elan)ut from sheet-metal sparklers to… actually, it’s pretty much all metal-related, as Music For Sounding Sculptures in Twenty-Three Movements consists strictly of Maggliocchi manipulating sound sculptures by Andrea Dami (with strings, stones, and gongs mixed in). Again, not my cup of pee-pee, but the man has done his chromework. Truly a savory value, at the paltry price of popping a tape.
[Catholic Tapes; 2011]
Forgive me, for I have sinned. It’s been many-a-Cerberus since Catholic Tapes has graced our pages — and how much penance must I pay for making an obviously bad joke? If the punishment is to listen to Wume’s Distance for eternity, I shall most graciously accept it. From the minds of Albert Schatz (Bird Names) and April Camlin (of the Wham City ‘collective’), you’d expect no less than zany, engrossing pop-tinged weirdness. Although your calculations wouldn’t be far off, Wume is also heavy on the carnivalesque madness of 60s and 70s B Cinema with just enough kosmische and kraut to make this one desirable sausage encased in plastic and tape roll. Distance, as cabbage-reeked as it smells, does indeed go to great lengths to be accessible to old and new. It’s a throwback to Germanic touchstones, but Wume’s vision is clearly planted in the future, riffing on modern proto-synthers like Lopatin and Ettinger with some new age twists. But most of all, it’s upbeat and rhythmic. The incorporation of a rhythm section and structure breaks Distance from the pack. There’s nothing sinful about polishing off good music with a bit of pop wax. Wume is catchy, and no matter how many lashings I’ll have to endure for calling it so will never take that away.
Rangers / KWJAZ Lite
Angel Island [CS]
[Brunch Groupe; 2011]
By C Monster
Leave it up to Rangers, bringing all the murky and criminal that dwell within “Xochimilco,” the Mexican-named, non-Mexican side of the Angel Island, where bustle is rustled and the muscled get muffled. There, hope exists only on notes played out in snippets of what do-and-don’t happen. What’s euthanasia and natural? What’s drugs my dealer? “Shhh,” not too loud, cause it’s all being reel recorded, and ya can’t turn back now. Continue on the path of mutual as/decent by tuning into KWJAZ Lite. Confusion sways in lost, smeared melodies as you drag yourself to the other side of Angel Island. What you’ve ingested in “Xochimilco” begins to both take effect and wear-off, swelling your pupils and heart, creating the feeling of assurance: “It Is It.” Covered in slime inside and out, you find yourself entering the “Word of Phase,” only it’s not how you expected the other side of the island to appear. With hopes of climax being smashed, there is only drab, oven-like humidity, and purple-skinned tribesmen wearing white faces hunting you. They dig a hole, bury you alive, and wait before you’re completely dead to pull you out. Your brain gets all fuckered up from the lack of oxygen, and you become their personal zombie/slave. Do work!
The Journey of Enoch [CS]
[Rubber City Noise; 2011]
The proliferation of tape labels has given birth to an equally rampant and much appreciated phenomenon: the lost reissue. Of course, how do we know something is lost to us when we never had it in the first place? Needless to say, Jeremy Bible’s The Journey of Enoch was most definitely lost, drowned in limited availability and a response to the blowhards that dominated radio, television, and print for the last few years of the 20th century. Recorded between 1998-2000 and first released as a CD-R in 2004, Bible’s baby is given a proper Easter celebration — the dark, piercing synth reverberating from the hollow earth from where Enoch was buried, as Bible busts through the dirt and ascends the physical plane, only to find a world seeking salvation at the hands of the synthesizer. Of course, the persistent hums key a chorus of angels, singing in a language that needs not to be fully recognized to be understood. Bible’s cult classic now finds itself on tape, a place its manifesto was meant to be guarded all those years ago. With a new track lineup and art, Bible’s cherished Enoch is given the dressings of a king without tarnishing its halo. But come the end of Enoch, you may begin to discover that Bible has not produced the new savior, but has in fact given rise to the horn-tailed devil, as the album pokes you with its sharp pitchfork, the angelic chorus turning to fiery cackles.
The Five Year Plan [12-inch]
[Monofonus Press; 2011]
Last I heard about five-year plans was from D.R.I., so who’s this fuckin’ “rebel” guy? Apparently he’s in Country Teasers (who aren’t Scene Creamers, unfortunately), which doesn’t help me out much. What to do? The Rebel wants more, more, more; MORE as in LESS-is, I mean. These cutz are relatively bare, considering all the temptations out there just waiting to be picked up. Oscillators, pads, pedals, loops — many of these tools are leading us right down a toilet-swirl of chillwave/hypnagogic fogginess, but The Rebel ain’t goin’ there. Just give him a guitar, a synth or two, a cheap drum machine stolen from a pawn, and something — anything — to record with. He’ll make do. To be honest, my mind’s kind of spinning right now. I just don’t hear enough good indie-rock these days. Inspector 22, The Robot Ate Me, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, Emperor X, The Planet The, and listen to that bassist go super-high up on that fret; that’s gotta be real. Rock it, big man. Those tag-echo vocals also do it for me. A smooth ride.
The Elders of New Detroit [CS]
In the world of blaxplotation, there is no film rifer with folly than Detroit 9000. And yet, for all its mistakes, it still captures a city crumbling despite one beastly history of success and homogeneous pride. Nearly 40 years on and Detroit continues to shrink into the abyss, known largely for automobile fuck-ups and an aging rock scene that still spits out relevant (along with many irrelevant) acts from its dried-up womb. However, Matthew Aker is lending Detroit a bit of silver-bullet power with his 80s soundtrack homage, The Elders of New Detroit. Speaking in the same jive as the marks in Detroit 9000, Aker speaks to a Detroit still riddled with rotten enamel but strong in root. For all the obstacles that stand in Detroit’s way back to prominence, the power surging through Aker’s work — harkening to the machismo of Commando, Robocop, and its action-flick ilk — also speaks to an idea of a brighter future. There’s always going to be something to darken our doors, and it stands to reason Detroit will always have its detractors and antagonists. But may the synthesized soul and confident strut of The Elders of New Detroit lend the citizens of Detroit the confidence to wrestle itself out of corrupt hands and to remake itself as the steely city it was once proud to be.
Jordan Piper Phillips
[Feeding Tube; 2011]
As soon as cassette-head hit tape, I knew this was that motha-humpa from GDC and Blanche Blanche Blanche, getting all overly comfortable on his piano stool and shit. Truth is, I craved to hear a coherent Casio-finger flow after the exhausting razzle-dazzle of the GDC tape on Alchemist (“Jours Avec Jennie”), and “Glades” is… more zany than I’d dared dream, perhaps even a few whippets above what I’d already heard. I guess I’m not gonna catch a break from this guy, and that’s okay, because he’s working up to something truly dramatic, one composition at a time. There exist moments aboard “Glades” so pure (“Different Guy,” “The Climate”) you’d swear dude was ready for a piece of Ariel Pink-curated prime time. Just listen to that milky synth drizzle into the nooks and crannies of that Thelonious comp! Ultimately, Phillips is still working shit out, and like I always say, I hope he gets the chance to take his time. The shade is the best place to find your face.