Karen Novotny X
Nothing Here Now But These Recordings ‘78-‘79 [CS; Golden Cloud Tapes]

There’s not much in the way of information on this band, nor much in the way of actual music you can actually listen to, which makes the crackpot story behind Karen Novotny X all the more difficult to corroborate (or does that make it easier to assume it as truth?). Anyway, you didn’t hear it from me, but this is apparently a trio led by Cy Levene that has so far released only one full length collection of tunes, Nothing Here Now But These Recordings and a 7-inch, all of it showcasing music that was created in 1978 and ‘79. Somehow Samantha Glass mastermind Beau Devereaux caught the attention of Levene, and his music wound up on one half of the aforementioned (split) 7-inch record. Devereaux, you may recall, is also in charge over at Wisconsin label upstart Golden Cloud Tapes, which has the reissue credits on this album. OK, so now my (half-assed and skeptical-at-best) history lesson is now behind us and I can proceed in telling you lovely readers what this thing sounds like, which is dark, brooding electronic dance music created by a mysterious trio… some years later than 1978 and ‘79. Computer algorithms seem to be the heart beating behind the curtain of stained skin, serving up accent-less stabs of quickly-paced synths to propel these pieces forward like robotic zombies or swirl themselves into sonic gyroscopes while drum machines thump catchy beats beneath. Frenetic frenzies or downtrodden trots appear in equal measure while Vocoders whisper along in a ghostly way that borders apathy with something else entirely menacing, washing across the stereo field to give the otherwise unfailingly steady music a tilted, off-center sickliness that is frigid to the touch. Giorgio’s evil twin sister or something, Karen Novotny X is awesome and sinister synthesizer music that is awesome and sinister no matter what year it was created in. The Great Pop Supplement’s issue of the LP is, of course, long gone, so one would be well advised to jump on this limited 2nd edition quick, especially since it sounds as amazing as it does on cassette anyway.


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.

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