Torn Birch
Effigy [CS; VAALD]

The triangular relationship between creator, created and consumer can be a troubled one. Artists have fan bases, blind followers; the kind of person who will defend any piece of music that has a specific name attached to it. But take away that creators identity and the whole system gets uncomfortably imbalanced; trepidation suddenly seems a necessity as we expose ourselves to something without knowing how it will affect our body.

Torn Birch is just such an uncomfortable space. It’s an “anonymous” project, part of the first batch of tapes released months ago on Hooker Vision’s noisy bastard child VAALD. We don’t know who created the cold slivers of black and white noise or who’s screams are sprinkled among the guitar, electronics, and muffled field recordings of Effigy’s five tracks. The facelessness of it allows for an amount of displacement; they can be the listener’s screams, they can be internalized anguish given form on a black 30 minute cassette. The nebulous origin of the sounds allows us to personalize them; eliminate the names and faces and they become our own to play, absorb, rewind, mull over, masticate, flip-over, ponder, breathe and sleep to.

Finding out that Jim Haynes, Ryan McGill or Grant Evans himself is disgorging these primal growls would add it nicely to their oeuvre; put it next to one of their tapes on your shelf, it’s a comfortable enough place. But if it’s just a name and a title suddenly it does not fit so neatly; maybe it fits better on a bedside table or stacked, easily accessible, on the top of the bookcase. The simple design of the case becomes a puzzle and it seems to find its way back into your fingers, turned over and over, disassembled looking for clues to its origin or trajectory. Unable to compare it to other releases by the same artist, we are forced to listen with fresh ears, trying to pick up on stylistic tendencies or clues to whose hands are on the instruments. The mystery becomes part of the allure, and in that perhaps it is not worth solving.

Links: VAALD


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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