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LIK (‘Lekamen Illusionen Kallet,’ apparently untranslatable) was founded in 2000 in Sweden by a duo of Black Metal scene vets from bands such as Bergraven and Armagedda. Discogs calls their sound ‘Occult Rock’ but the chains of Black Metal influence are perhaps not so easily shed. This 2005 album certainly incorporates gothic rock/neofolk elements (t.1, 5, 6) but there are tracks (2, 4) with a strong Pagan Black Metal sound as well. The mostly clean vocals are deep-chested and skaldic, equally suited for a Viking Metal or Goth band, but the psychedelic quasi-BM experiments here fit nicely alongside work by Lifelover, Enslaved, Isengard, Deinonychus, Forgotten Woods, Furze or Urfaust. That said, there’s something else going on too. LIK don’t really sound like anyone else, in a manner somewhat ineffably refreshing. The repetition in their compositions feels deeply significant, as though something is being worked out ritualistically. The raven-mounted Celtic cross on the back of the CD is a clue. in Their use of synthesized instruments (t.s 1, 2, 3) is especially hypnotic. When the sun rises over the ancient stone tomb, I raise my wand of mistletoe…
Hiroyuki Usui sings the blues! Usui (Ghost, Fushitsusha, etc..) lends vocals to most of the tracks (all in Japanese?), and accompanies himself on bajo, guitar, steel guitar, bass, and cornet. From what I can tell, this is his first available solo work.
While this isn’t exactly blues music, it definitely has a blues theme. Very spacious sounds with minimal instrumentation, and yet Usui still evokes hypnotic rhythms. The sounds are very clear and each note has intent. Dark, woodsy, morose. Some Delta-ish slide guitar works it way in there.
The first two and second to last track utilize silence to create a feeling of coldness and solitude. The gaps are just uncomfortably too long. Very well done. Dig it!
aka Dean DeBenedictis. Lush and layered electronic ambience and soundscape. Glitchy/IDM moments along with sporadic vocal samples and traditional instrument samples. Mellow beats throughout. This reminds me a bit of Boards of Canada and early Orb but its not really fair to draw comparisons because this is really so much more than that. Addictive rhythms and waves that you can just drift off too. Really excellent!!
Barghest is a black metal band from Baton Rouge, Louisiana (the local music culture is known for the southern riffage or sludging doom). Most of the songs their self-titled album released in March 2011 are abrasive and dark. There’s really nothing intended to be arty or moody about their songs; it’s just 100% misanthropic black metal. Vocalist Dallas Smith has those standard shrieks and shouts. On the flip-side, “Poison Meditation” is a deceptively simple and creepy ambient track.
Releases on Portland OR’s North Pole Records always bring a smile to my face. Here is a compilation of tracks by artists from Portland and elsewhere, grouped loosely under the banner of pop music. The leadoff track is a noisy slowburner by Paint and Copter, then comes Dramady with a perky pop song, followed by a stately acoustic guitar instrumental by Mattia Coletti. Quite a variety as you can see, and that variety continues throughout the CD. Among the other artists on this compilation are KFJC favorites Rollerball, Remora, Miss Massive Snowflake, Moodring, and OVO. In addition to those artists, I like the tracks by Coronation (upbeat and synth-y), Squarcicatrici (a wild jazz instrumental), Ronin (a galloping spaghetti western thing with some weird stuff in the middle) and the Sadnesses (a found sound noise piece.) It’s a cliche, I know, but there is something for just about everybody on here. Damn, though, I wish that wistful Remora track was longer than 1:26. The rockin’ Miss Massive Snowflake track is too short as well.
This CD has a feel of being performed around a campfire, with guitar strums seguing the songs together smoothly as the darkness closes in around the crackling warmth. Described as “blues psychedelia chill funk,” this Georgia trio of guitar, bass, and drums with predominantly male vocals is fairly easy on the ears but different enough to make listening a worthwhile experience. You decide which genre this is closest to.
Valina is Anatol Bogendorfer (guitar, vocals), Anselm Durrschmid (drums) and Florian Huber (bass). “Container” was released in April 2014 and is the band’s first record in six years (since their 2008 album). There is an unprecedented new level of energy as these new songs will immediately catch the ear and stick with the listener. Expect to find a mixture of rock and punk, a little bit of noise, some hardcore and a few pop elements. But watch out for a couple tracks with FCCs.
Plotkin-mastered 2013 split pitting Oakland’s blackened crustcore terrorists against Australia’s well-loved doomaniacs.
The Negative Standards side (recorded at Earhammer studios by Brainoil and Deathgrave’s Greg Wilkinson) has two tracks, which run together. The longer one is full of harsh noise, nihilistic samples (from ‘Marat/Sade’– which the band also sampled on their last release– and ‘The X-Files’) and Dystopian sludge chords. Near the end they inject some Enslaved-like psychedelic Black Metal riffing into their usual His Hero Is Gone M.O. The shorter song is more direct. N.S. are definitely part of the same East Bay scene as Embers, Augurs, and Dead Man. Black Metal and Crust are perhaps hard to mix without getting lame but these types pull it off.
Whitehorse’s sidelong track is a total Sludge/Doom Metal death march. Here as well there are light elements of black metal in the form of a melodic tremolo riff, but the demonic doomcore bass and ocean-depths guttural vocals are still present. This band continues to sound like Corrupted, which is no mean feat. Some experimental/Industrial/drone elements are introduced early on and eventually end up eating everything else on the track. Both sides are killer, but Whitehorse continue to be some top-shelf intoxication. How are they so heavy? We’ll never know.
Nothing like a bit of German Power Electronics! This 2005 EP on Austria’s Steinklang Industries is not a far cry from the work of precursors like Whitehouse, Genocide Organ, Anenzephalia and Operation Cleansweep, but it’s fun to listen to nonetheless. Mostly hissing, shrieking, oscillating bursts of noise like a synthesizer having a nervous breakdown, densely layered. No discernible voices, except samples on side A of a Gulf War veteran discussing the effects of experimental performance-enhancing drugs on his combat-zone psyche. The unsettling tension on the A side is more rhythmic than B, which ends up meandering into super-amplified cricket sounds and good old-fashioned feedback torture. NFF seems to be a side project of the better-known outfit Sektion B. Violent, inaccessible and uncompromising selections, too soon over.
The question of the KFJC acronym continues. As the title may suggest, this release consists of Sabbat’s KFJC live mic from October 10, 2013, remixed by James Plotkin for Nuclear War Now! Productions. This album really displays the nature of the beast that is live recordings, so that most of the tracks sound much less precise than their studio versions and include chatter at the ends and beginnings and, on one occasion, a false start (track 4). Whether this improves or diminishes the material is a matter of personal taste. For those who want their live music spit-shined, tracks 5 and 6 sound a bit cleaner.
Sabbat are a Japanese trio (vocals/bass, guitar, and drums/vocals) and have a somewhat eighties-influenced, thrashy black metal sound. All of the tracks are guitar-heavy, which usually means quick thrash riffs abound. Vocals are alternately yelped, growled, and yelled, and always heavily accented. There is some comparatively clean singing to be found on track 6, but it is brief. Lyrical themes are centered around Satan, death, fire, and witchcraft- a soundtrack for your next Satanic ritual in the heavy metal parking lot. Track 1 is an instrumental, so no Satan buressings to be found there. All tracks are FCC-free.
Sabbat are always good for some earnest, energetic-yet-blackened Satanism, and this release is very exciting for KFJC. Spin it till you draw blood.
2012 EP from the solo project of Michigan’s ‘Deathless Maranatha’ AKA Damian Master, owner of the Colloquial Sound tape label. One 20-minute track of forward-thinking ‘post-Black Metal.’ After a reflective guitar intro it launches into a belligerent Progressive BM tour de force of many movements, with tasteful hardcore, math and screamo influences (think a more aggressive Bosse-de-Nage or a punkier Stargazer). Masculine, sincerely despair-laden vocals provide a counterpoint to the melodic blur of guitar. Perfect drum production helps give it teeth. Lyrics apparently deal with religious mysticism and sexuality. Lush and beautiful, but savage. Black Metal will never die, just mutate…?
The Trio is piano, percussion, and bass. Sirone Jones (who played with a who’s who of American jazz artists) is on bass on tracks 1 and 13; after his sudden death Andreas Henze took his place. The Ensemble is woodwinds, strings and voice.
They combine for a sound that goes down easy and is frequently cinematic. The piano mostly dominates and sometimes sounds tinny for effect. This music is a meeting of new age and jazz.
Watang is an Italian surf band (2 guitars, bass, drums and organ). They wear mandarin collars and have an “oriental” theme – sometimes Chinese, sometimes Japanese. They quote Asian b-movies to get an occasional horror theme – also some middle eastern and Spaghetti western tinge. Well played, original sound, organ is a nice touch, 100% surf music!
This quintet dazzles with their interplay of sounds in an ever changing soundscape that is as much about pause and space as it is about filling up with sound. Michael Vlatkovich on trombone and percussion, Anna Homler on vocals and percussion, Jeff Kaiser on trumpet and flugelhorn, Scott Walton on acoustic bass and Rich West on drums and percussion create fifteen refreshing songs of beauty and sophistication. The jazz improvisation stylings are present: the play back and forth between the horns and drums and the bass and percussion give it a familiar but not stale sound. Yet things are changing here: a duck call, squeaking toys, horns made to sound like toys, voices sounding like horns. These percussive and tonal blasts are not what one expects from a jazz improvisation album. And yet these are the things that really make you sit up and listen more. Homler’s invented language sings tales unclear yet understood. Extended horn notes are interrupted by maybe beads being pulled, or a drum trill, or a breath. And then there are pauses, space, silence and then one instrument takes over. These musicians are not afraid to let their colleagues take the spotlight for a moment or three, and that is a sign of an accomplished musician: to be able to sit for a moment while others play. An experienced listener will do the same. Enjoy.
Gianni Lenoci, piano, and Gianni Mimmo, soprano saxophone, have recorded a sophisticated improvisational album showcasing the skills of these two talented musicians. With subtlety on the one hand and bravura on the other, this complex and very professional piece of music explores the multitude of interactions possible between these two instruments. “Brain Prelude” starts off with an aggressive take on the piano, pulling and rubbing the strings to provoke haunting dark sounds, while the saxophone plays around with the sounds coming out of the piano. This introduction sets us up for what comes next as a masterful play of musical information, sometimes referencing classical stylings, standard jazz riff sounds or improvisational takes. Never last for a long time to get stuck. Rather they proceed with fluidity into another stance of piano and sax interplay. The music is constant but with variations, loud to soft to subtle to…. It is truly a great listen and lesson on what a duo can accomplish.
Experimental jazz improvisation at it’s extreme side. Ben Bennett on drums and percussion which means anything that can be squeezed, banged, dropped or rubbed and Jack Wright on alto and soprano saxophone. Bennett is known for losing himself when performing live, rolling around on the floor, scratching things with his feet, grabbing at what is near him and unaware of what is coming next due to his almost trance state. It’s easy to visualize this when listening to these selections. The cacophony is stunning. It’s rough. It’s edgy. It’s mind melting. And it is fascinating. Jack Wright has a tonal quality and control over his saxophones which keeps up with Bennett’s drumming but does not take a back seat to the chaos. From subtle rifts to squelching and squeeking bursts where you can almost feel the reed splitting, Wright’s sonic explorations anchor the storm while participating in it. These two musicians have performed together in numerous group projects. This duo project lets them shine, playing off of each other as only seasoned pros can do it.
Behind every great man is an even greater woman. Such is the case with “Flossie and The Unicorns”. Miss Pussycat, the sidekick, behind the scenes manipulator and many other things to one Quintron, has been given he opportunity by Skin Graft Records to entertain us with her own special brand of weirdness. She makes Quintron look like pop music, and that’s saying something. Miss Pussycat does many things during a Quintron show including puppet theater to add to the craziness of the Quintron lyric. She does infrequently put on her puppet shows. Here we have an audio record of what one might experience: manipulated voices, tape recordings sped up or reversed, thrift store electronics blipping and bleeping to her and our hearts content, elementary organ playing with such joy, lyrics about animals getting free guitar lessons, chewing gum, being a celebrity going to all the clubs, an underwater dance club. It’s all so infantile and HOORAY for that. Miss Pussycat is no slack. There is a level of seriousness about all of this. She knows what she’s doing, but it takes a lot of control to maintain this level of childishness. You just can’t help but wish you were there with her playing drum machine and putting on the puppets to dance around on the stage.
Wow. This is the stuff I wait patiently for to come to me to review. Konrad, one Barry Konarik, put together this amazing solo outsider effort of synth pop weirdness in the early 80′s. Hanging outside of Studio 54, he would try to get in and get the Dj’s to play his album. Though periodically let in, the album never hit the Studio 54 turntables, denying the coked out patrons of the disco temple to never twist to this madness. He disappeared, but like all good works like this it achieved cult status. It was not until a review in Waxidermy that Konrad’s whereabouts were revealed…. by himself who responded to the review, with his phone number. People went nuts, calling him constantly. Cut to the chase, Ethereal Sequence Record Corp. who initially put out his album, reformed and rereleased this outsider gem. Konrad revealed he lives in a small town in Idaho and loves it, having left his home of Queens. It is best in Idaho because he can see the stars better there. He is a full on believer in space aliens, our ability to travel through black holes, how we only want to destroy outer space, and how he gets some with his crazy girlfriend. And that is how the lyrics continue. Musically, it is synth driven, drum machine going steady, with his easy vocals telling his story about space, space, SPACE. We still don’t know why he wears a black robe or why the album is called “Evil”. Maybe because of the evil humans will do to the space aliens. Or that Satan’s Knights are coming around creeping forward but he will be the one to stop them. (That last part is in one of his songs.) I put this in my altar alongside The Space Lady and Featherbeard.
Holy nutso Batman. What happens when four accomplished punk musicians get together for three hours and record eight songs? Well, you get this mess of fun and nonsense, that’s what. Don’t try to work too hard to figure out what’s going on. It won’t matter. Songs are sloppy, trashy and fun fun fun. Mike Park supposedly does vocals, so maybe he is and if so he is doing a great impersonation of Japanese to English phonetic singing. Crazy, initially hard to distinguish grunt to growl to groan to yell vocals about a “dachsund (sp) suicide”, Tennyson East Side (is this Hayward gangs?), and all other nonsense. Fast, crashing punk. Short songs, one at 15 seconds, make this two sides a hot, sweaty mosh pit worship experience.
Read the notes on the record cover while steeping yourself in this slice of musical history. Bunk Johnson, trumpeter and band leader who could coax more sound out of nine musicians than most people could do with 40, presents some classic funeral songs on Side A, and other traditional favorites on Side B. Joining the trumpets are trombones, horns, sousaphone, snare and bass drums. A6 features Johnson himself explaining the importance of bands at New Orleans’ funerals, with slow marches to the cemetery, and dance-inducing ragtime as the procession leaves with more people collected along the way just to relish the festive music. Most of these were recorded in 1945-46. Guaranteed to set your toes tapping.
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