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Cerberus Vol. 3(25)

Justin Spicer
Oct 19, 2021 · 6 min read

Featuring Grouper, Fire-Toolz, Fuubutsushi, Matt LaJoie, and Alberto Lucendo

Quite a few awesome LPs are coming in the next few weeks. I’m hoping to cover them, both new, old, and reissue alike. I’m still catching up from a month away as well, and time is relative. Cerberus is not beholden to the cult of the new.

Outside of this space, other exciting ideas are bubbling up. Stay tuned to all appropriate channels or continue to completely ignore them.

Grouper — Shade

Kranky/LP; CD; DL

There was a musical era where every Liz Harris release was met with fervor as people rushed to get it in all their limited quantities and special packages.

Oh wait, that’s still true for Shade.

As it should be. Shade is what any Grouper fan has come to expect from Harris, though it feels like a summation of her career while taking many of those previous ideas and exploring them with slightly different vision. Shade is timeless. And much likes the titular respite, Harris uses that idea across the album. It may be a reverberating vocal effect, or an entire song ensconced in bleak production.

Opener “Follow the Ocean” is inundated with waves of distortion, which hides a poppier version of Harris’ other alias, Nivhek. “Ode to the Blue” is a contemplative, sparse guitar exploration of vastness. Harris’ voice is at its most vulnerable and this very stripped back Grouper is rare. Harris has often used space to deconstruct her music, but “Ode to the Blue” is her starkest retreat into these endless spaces.

“Disordered Minds” is a standout, with a Helen-esque melody buried under water. Everything takes a backseat under the tide of its murky production, eventually building into a song almost impossible to decipher. It’s the wafting sounds of faint notes echoing across an empty beach.

It’s this disparate production throughout Shade that is most striking. Sometimes the songs are crisp without an errant sound captured (“Unclean Mind”); others are happy to just exist as-is (“Promise”). It’s a testament to Harris’s ability to play more toward feeling and emotion than any true genre or distinct sound.

Fire-Toolz — Eternal Home

Hausu Mountain/LP; CS; CD; DL

The latest from the multi-talented Angel Marcloid caught me off guard from the jump. While being wholly familiar with Marcloid’s genre-hopping and manic blending, the smooth jazz outro of “In the Pinewaves” somehow put me in a different state of mind throughout Eternal Home — as if I was indeed in a new, furnished estate.

I sat down on a plush purple and yellow chair to play my new video game, “Odd Cat Sanctuary”. That damned evil doctor shut it down and there’s no way that can stand. I could hear the wonderful theme song for the television show “Shenpa Indicator Light” bleeding in from the living room. The kids upstairs shook me out this dreamy bliss by blasting “Where On EARTH Is My Sacchidānanda?” but I’ll be — if that isn’t my favorite pop song on this planet right now.

Marcloid’s ability to just throw everything into the blender of Eternal Home and make something palatable out of those ingredients is divine. Not everything leaves an impression, because much like the ever-changing genres of Marcloid’s compositions, some things are meant to be fly-by-night and disposable. But Eternal Home is a reduce, reuse, and recycle sort of plane, so what may not be the tastiest plate today may turn out to be the craving of tomorrow.

Matt LaJoie — Pan-Gaia

The Jewel Garden/CS; DL

Brad Rose went from drips to deluges with his return to the “scene”. And so I find myself catching up and in sheer awe of it all.

The same can be said for LaJoie, who I have followed off and on through his iterative music phases (Cursillistas, Herbcraft). So the marriage of the two with LaJoie’s Pan-Gaia release via Rose’s The Jewel Garden is cosmic and karmic bliss.

Pan-Gaia hits many of my favorite fried-psychedelic meditatives. The title track finds LaJoie’s notes falling like pine needles into a freshly-fallen snow, and I feel that cool bite of the changing season in each of those evergreens bearing the weight of the precipitation. “Arctica” continues the mellow winter vibes, reverberating its cold, steely notes deep with my bones until the movement creates a rhythmic warmth that ripples back through all of my body. Though it’s only the autumn in the Midwest, and Pan-Gaia was released mid-summer, it’s truly the impending season that LaJoie’s work was made for. It’s about to get lots more play and love in this household as I search out the sun’s warmth in different forms.

Alberto Lucendo — Wonderful Losers

Midira/LP; DL

Some days are just too much to take. And it feels like those days are only multiplying as the world comes unglued and unhinged at the foot of monumental change. You wouldn’t recognize it if you weren’t looking at it, and others avert their gazes to avoid facing the looming reality that it’s a new century, and with it comes new responsibilities, problems, and solutions that mean change is imminent.

Whether Alberto Lucendo had this in mind when crafting the bulk of Wonderful Losers is not for us to know, nor should it be the sole reason to turn to the album. But it does present a musical solace from wholesale change as well as from those who choose to fight that change tooth and nail out of nefarious and predatory practices.

My biggest fight with Wonderful Losers is deciding if I am indeed part of the Lucendo’s populace, and what it is I might be losing. Is it my slacker attitude or the idea of losing the old ways for a new one and rejoicing in it?

Loss and losing are heavy ideas with multiple meanings, and each is explored throughout Wonderful Losers through contemplative ambient markers of varied permanence. All of them soothing reminders that this radical change of now is but the ripple of slow change that has occurred over the course of decades and centuries.

Fuubutsushi — Good Sky Day

Longform Editions/DL

While I await the hopeful 4xLP box set of each seasonal release from the foursome known as Fuubutsushi, I can turn to this surprise release from Chris Jusell, Chaz Prymek, Matthew Sage, and Patrick Shiroishi.

Another wonderful collaboration between four kinetic wonders of modern composition. With each release, these four find a way to pack more sound into their ideas while also practicing more discipline and restraint. Prymek’s ideal of turning each instrument into a character in a moment is realized throughout “Good Sky Day”, each arc unfurling slowly so as to make the final climax fulfilling before the soothing comedown. We are allowed to hear what they hear and the interpretation of that information. To just be in the lengthy moment and do nothing but listen to how they listen is an important skill. Fuubutsushi have not only expertly done so with each other, but now are taking that trait and applying it with their dialogue with their audience.

Twitter: @genxsaisquoi @cerberuszine

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Cerberus

Long-running column covering outsider music now elsewhere…