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2012 release from Canadian poet Fortner Anderson…featuring the reading, and reinterpretation, of three texts: The Colombia Crew Survival Investigation Report (NASA); The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and The Joint Task Force Guantanamo Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta. The recorded readings were subsequently transmogrified by nine multifarious artists…from Germany, Canada, United States…into new electroacoustic compositions.
Ned Bouhalassa…vintage synth pads, swells, oscillations intermingled with granulated voice dramatizing climate change scenarios/listing pollutants.
Andy Williams…computer-synthesized bells and public domain Soundex effects accompany unaffected voice describing torture/water-boarding techniques.
Christian Calon…pitch-shifted chorus of voices describe Space Shuttle Colombia disaster.
Nicolas Bernier…textual synchronization of voice and sound fragments designed to signify fallen lives of Colombia astronauts.
Martine Crispo…manipulation of voice and modified Talking Teacher educational toy to accentuate the “phoneme” (smallest unit of sound) of each spoken word.
Chantal Dumas…contextualized, concrete soundscape intended to create an atmosphere of tension between the natural and electroacoustic sounds utilizing the rhythm of the words from selected passages about climate change.
Alessandro Bosetti…ode to water-boarding deploying a Madrigal about death sung (along with some mellow organ/guitar accompaniment) while having a stream of water projected into the mouth, and juxtaposed with a naked reading of torture description/justification.
Christian Kesten…a remix of the poem Every Sunday…using only Fortners’ breathing (inhaling/exhaling/unvoiced syllables/phonemes) while all spoken words are replaced by silence…set in a sound bed of field recordings.
John Berndt…sound piece generated by a complex multi-channel feedback web exploiting the “Autotune” voice/instrument processing software layered with a dry rendition of the doomed Colombia mission.
2013 Hand-Held Recordings CD re-release (of a 2010 Flingco Sound System LP) from Cristal, a trio of electronics manipulators out of Richmond, VA…Jimmy Anthony, Gregory Darden, and Robert Donne (Lebradford).
Homegoing…varying degrees of textured ambient drone featuring guest cellist Taylor Burton :
Track 1 (6:45)…cellowed-out pensive tension
Track 2 (2:30)…expansive icy driftage
Track 3 (6:58)…searing plasmatic immersions
Track 4 (5:29)…soaring metallic washes retrograde into oblivion
Track 5 (7:29)…delicate airy strains
Track 6 (10:50)…avian calls stillpoint to threshold
Track 7 (00:45)…Silence
Bonus Track 8 (3:33)…grimy screeches amidst Reichian flutters
Bonus Track 9 (4:12)…ripping through the noise floor (Pan American Remix).
Skankin’ Pickle was a south bay area ska/punk sextet that existed from 1989-1996. Sing Along With…is their third studio release (1994 Dill Records), and first since the departure of founding bassist/vocalist Mike Mattingly (Neosoreskin, Tingly). His absence from the lineup pealed off a layer funk from their skafunkrastapunk roots, while leaving in tact the deft musicianship, irreverent ebullience, and DIY attitude that made them the type of band that you were excited to turn people on to.
New bassist Ian Miller (Hoodlum Empire) dives into the fray without missing a skank, and guest trumpeter Neal Okin (The Rudiments) blows some serious smoke into a few choice tracks…adding smack to a nonpareil bungle of ska/rock steady/punk/hardcore/metal/vaudeville. The tangiest bites include Tracks 1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 12, 13, 15…showcasing tightly wound rhythms sweeping seamlessly across genres, a blaring horn section that is second to none, and some tragically underrated guitar work from the late Lynette Knackstedt.
2012 Editions Mego Records release featuring two sidelong aural explorations generated from Analogue Electronics Systems Recordings by Robert Hampson (Loop, Main, Godflesh). After relocating to Paris from his native London, he fell into the influence of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM), which was originally formed in 1958 by musique concrete pioneer Pierre Schaeffer. There he followed the paths of such revolutionaries as Pierre Henry, Luc Ferrari, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Bernard Parmegiani, and, especially, Francois Bayle. It was Bayle’s concept of “acousmatics” (“anything can be musical, that absolutely anything can have a musical tonality about it, and about how sound can be abstracted and changed”) that inspired his recent focus on processed electronic music compositions performed through multi-channel live sound diffusion installations.
Signaux 1 (17:56) is a 2 channel mix of an 8 channel diffusion commissioned by Planetarium ECM Mendes Poitiers, France. A neoteric approach to classic electronic music…tones, bleeps, blips, skips, chirps, buzzes, hums, gurgles, squeaks, squiggles….as if a vast web of machine intelligence is gradually awakening, and stimulating an electronic forest of insects and primordial creatures.
Signaux 2 (18:02) is a new studio composition that shares some aesthetic similarities to Signaux 1, yet generates more of a vigorous droning noise floor amongst the itinerant hiss, sweep, crackle and glurp of the disparate sonic artifacts.
2012 Utech Records release from Arizona native Michael Bjella (Wellington, Unrah, Black Hell) aka Gog. This album, Ironworks, was inspired by a blacksmith shop with origins that date back to the late 19th Century, a place where some of his ancestors once slogged away. Bjella utilizes manipulated samples of blacksmith and machinery recordings mixed with guitar, keyboards, and voice to forge six tracks of neo-industrial music with shreds of dark ambience, noise, doom and black metal. Track 1…soaring feedback washes over submerged blast beat with licks of piano. Track 2…cyclical noise drone with clashes of guitar and drudgery. Track 3…rising strains that are enveloped by a drone storm. Track 4…feedback grime disintegrating a rapt piano. Track 5…spasmodic mindscrape of exploited toils. Track 6…smithy upsets a untried nebulae.
2012 full-length release from Finnish musician Jani Hirvonen aka Uton. Improvised, layered, psychedelic experimentations generated by effected as well as non effected sound sources (electric guitar, synthesizer, percussion, vocals) recorded and mixed directly to 4-track tape using only headphones…”For a stronger effect, listen near midnight in a dark room (or with minimal light).”
Gloaming knells of murky tribalistic ambient goop that twitch, peep, mutter, yen and peer at you through the other side of the looking glass.
2012 effort from Sacramento area percussionist/insrtumentalist Zac Nelson (Hexlove, Alak, CHLL PLL, Prints, Biosexual, Who’s Your Favorite Sun God?)…his second release on the Seattle-based Debacle Records label.
Side A consists of 10 “micro songs”, so to speak, that range from 1-4 minutes in duration. Crunchy, grimy, tangy overcooked indie-savant grooves and beats…layered with not so subtle hints of synth, bass and vocals…served up with acid-soaked tongue planted firmly in cheek. Each displaying varying degrees of tripped-out quirk, and dished as an aspect of remix material for the thrice-baked sonic mind scramble that exists on B.
Side B (20:43) is a side-long “macro” mix of the raw material provided on the flip side: a frothy, churning cauldron of leftover surprise delivered hot and fresh from the dark side of the moon.
I found tracks 3, 4, 6, 8, & 10 to be particularly satisfying. Guitarist Ava Mendoza extends some tasty licks on track 9, and the Side B remix suite features additional electronics from Darin Ho of Raccoo-oo-oon as well as guitar from Carson McWhirter of Hella.
Religious Knives originally began as a side project for Mike Bernstein (Guitar, Synth, Vox) and Maya Miller (Organ, Vox) from their participation in the experimental noise act Double Leopards. This release, Smokescreen (2011), is their second full length, and first from Brooklyn-based Sacred Bones Records…Todd Cavallo, once again, supplies the bass, with Ryan Nadieau (Guadalupe/For Those Who Can Not Wait) replacing Nate Nelson (Mouthus) on drums.
Contemporary of such acts as Moon Duo and Wooden Shjips, they exude a relaxed, yet deliberate, form of repetitious, entrancing, fuzzed-out, Krautrock-ish psychedelic drone rooted in the sound of such bands as The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Goblin, and Popol Vuh.
Masacre is a Colombian death metal band that has been chopping it up since 1988. This compilation, Metal Medallo Attack, is a Nuclear War Now! re-release of two early EP’s that feature stark, agonized torrents of extreme metal: pummeling rhythms, apoplectic blast beats, snarling guitar riffs pierced by tocsin lead snags, demonic growls, and afflicted shrieks.
Ola De Violencia, originally released in 1991, spews forth a devastatingly savage three-track onslaught that earned the band some scrutiny, and eventually a bit of a cult following, in extreme metal milieus…Barbarie y Sangre en Memoria de Cristo (1993) fleshed out new tactics to include more intricately structured arrangements, keyboard histrionics, and a an overall tighter sound, compared with Ola‘s raw caucaphonies.
***Track 1, 4 & 6 – classic death metal. Track 2 – encrusted black metal realms. Track 3 – grind core chub. Track 5 – funeral doom. Track 7 – doom metal vibe.***
An extreme metal tour de blunt force trauma…Book Burner (2012)…is the fifth full-length studio release from Virginia grindcore outfit Pig Destroyer. Vocalist J. R. Haynes (Enemy Soil), guitarist Scott Hull (Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Anal Cunt), drummer Adam Jarvis (Misery Index), and electronics manipulator Blake Harrison execute music that is truly at odds: frustrated, abrupt, drastic, fierce, caustic, relentless, discordant, careening, maniacally exhilarating collisions of excoriated sonic savagery. Beyond a mere alignment of individual songs, It’s a blistering 19 track, 32 minute concatenation of abstruse paroxysms that at once inform and transcend a sub-genre that culls influence from hardcore punk, thrash metal, death metal, industrial music, and power electronic noise…no bass player, no guitar solos, no vocal harmonies; no nonsense.
While sharing some technical and thematic elements with bands like Brutal Truth, Discordance Axis, Cattle Decapitation, and Burnt By The Sun…PD’s sound feels rooted in a hardcore punk style more so than in the more prevalent “deathgrind”, “noisecore” or “goregrind” micro-genres: snarling palm-muted power chords, trill-screech-squelch-pinch harmonics, blast beats, bass drum chattering, snare stabs, hyper-manic-stop-time tempo changes tendered as deranged…fleeting…intense outbursts overseen by a ranting, furiously disturbed vocal personae.
***Guest vocals from Richard Johnson (Enemy Soil, Agoraphobic Nosebleed) on “The Underground Man”, Jason Netherton (Misery Index) on “The Diplomat”, and Katherine Katz (Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Salome) on “Eve” and “The Bug”***
Lotus Eaters is a collaboration between Stephen O’Malley (Sunn/Khanate/Burning Witch), James Plotkin (Atomsmasher/Old Lady Drivers/Namanax), and Aaron Turner (Isis/House Of Low Culture). Originally released by Aaron Dilloway’s Troubleman Unlimited label on CD in 2007…this is a remixed, rearranged, remastered 2xLP version re-released by TAIGA in 2011, that also features reworked material from their 2002 self-titled 7″ release by Drone Records.
Three sidelong immersions into minimalist, electro-acoustically generated psychedelic ambient digression:
Side A (15:00) pitches, groans, squeaks, squawks, rattles, chuckles, whistles, clicks, clanks, plunks, and clunks toward some inner-spacial, crystallizing hoarfrost.
Side B (18:09) surges in an alchemical wash of tones, drones, trawls, and insouciant tinkering…cast on edge by the occasional ictus of silence.
Side C (20:21) traipses into an lush, interstellar nebulae of textured oscillations…outlying rumbles…and innate raspings.
Side D…etched artwork, do not play!
The twelfth studio album, in a thirty-year skein, by american experimental band Swans…fronted by writer, arranger, producer Michael Gira. An epically vehement and cinematic coalescing of neo-folk, post punk, noise rock, drone, and other traces of avant-garde techniques…which Gira considers the apotheosis of all his previous musical endeavors (Swans, Angels of Light, The Body Lovers, Skin). Intrinsically nihilistic strains formed by traditional rock instrumentation (guitars, bass, percussion, piano, voice) fraternized with a diversity of sonic prospects (harmonica, chimes, vibraphone, synthesizers, mandolin, accordion, hammered dulcimer, bagpipes, reeds, strings, as well as acoustic and synthetic fire sounds) that provoke a feral, shamanistic state of awareness.
***Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low provide background vocals on “Lunacy”…Seth Olinsky, Miles Seaton, and Dana Janssen of Akron/Family contribute background vocals to “A Piece Of The Sky”…Jarboe bestows background vocals upon “A Piece Of The Sky” and “The Seer Returns”….and Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s imparts lead vocals to “Song Of A Warrior”***
Initial full-length solo effort from Chilean-born experimental electronic musician Cristian Vogel. In the early 1980′s, Vogel and his family emigrated to the UK and, by the late 1980′s, he had begun experimenting with his own electronic music compositions as a member (along with Si Begg and Germ) of the Cabbage Head Collective…which produced self-distributed tape cut-ups. By 1992, Vogel had earned a degree in 20th Century Music at the University of Sussex where he began to infuse Detroit, English and German techno arrangements with elements of musique concrete and other avante-garde influences.
Beginning To Understand (circa 1994)…flaunts his early proclivity for merging an abstract paradigm into a genre of music that had been known, to some extent, for rhythmic and stylistic conservatism…by adroitly adorning various tempos of standard “four on the floor” trance and house rhythms, as well as “broken beats”, with walloping bass drums…dark atmospherics…intricate analog synth tweaks…washes…flutters…submerged cutoffs…reverse tape transitions…and an overall twisted sense of ability.
LHF is a London-based, seven artist collective of electronic musicians that record under the enigmatic monikers Amen Ra, No Fixed Abode, Double Helix, and Low Density Matter…whose combined enterprise manifests a lushly produced fusion of ambient techno, dubstep, and “sinogrime” (a tradition of incorporating East Asian samples into UK dance music) along with hints of jungle, and late 90′s/early 00′s “darkside” drum & bass styles.
No Fixed Abode drifts about in a psychedelic haze of subdued beats and placid samples…reflecting the entrancingly subtle work of Demdike Stare or Muslimgauze
Amen Ra occasions a far more complex approach…layering funked up, synth-laden, rolling half-step beats with a plethora of instrument accents and vocal incidents.
Double Helix twists up fat, eerie, broken, two-step garage beats sprinkled with a bazaar of instrument samples and sci-fi atmospherics…dipped in dubwise vocal snippets and film clips.
Low Density Matter weighs in with a few light clusters of jazz and soul influenced techno…a la Carl Craig…yet retains the broken-beat, and sample-heavy, nature of the collective.
2010 compilation from Ostgut Tontrager: an electronic music label owned by the club Berghain in Berlin. Conceived by Emika (an English electronic musician of Czech origin named Ema Jolly), whom accumulated field recordings she captured after hours at both Berghain and Panorama Bar (which are located in a former power plant), and then edited them into a four gigabyte library of sounds which were given to each of the labels’ artists (as well as other producers associated with the clubs) to apply their own distinct production methods. Inspired by the resonate din created by the clubs, and by the idea that the club spaces influence the DJ sets/productions…she sought to investigate which sounds remain when the nightly parties are over, as well as what music could be made by the building itself. Sonic material was drawn from ventilation system sub frequencies, beverage cooling rooms, light rig electro-ambience, large metal swings, and vibrating bottles.
The resulting 24 tracks…whose framework range in style from minimal techno to techno dub, tech house, and detroit techno…render a striking exposition of experimental electronic dance grooves from the likes of Nick Hoppner, Marcel Dettmann, Shed, Len Faki, Dinky, Ryan Elliot, Barker & Baumecker, Norman Nodge, Cassy, Ben Klock, Emika, Luke Slater, and Margaret Dygas.
Originally released in 2000, Neuschwabenland is the fifth album from Gerhard Petak (an Austrian sound artist…recording as Allerseelen) and is considered to be a collection of Martial Folk/Military Pop songs: a genre Allerseelen is credited for helping define which blends experimental, neoclassical, post-industrial, marches, electronic dance, and dark ambient elements. This limited edition double vinyl version was re-released in 2008, and includes a remastering of the original tracks (Sides B, C & D)…as well as two previously unreleased tracks (A2 & A3), and updated versions of two others (A1 & A4). Dour, desolate, urgent, mobilized, looped, layered, lushly orchestrated sonorous expeditions inspired by the only chunk of the Third Reich not to be conquered: a section of Antarctica claimed by Nazi Germany in 1939.
The second and third installments of Italian-Swiss guitarist/sound artist Luigi Archetti’s abstract minimalist study of the interior “nothingness” of sound. Archetti deploys a microtonal approach…utilizing feedback, electronic bow, tone generation, effects processing as well as sound elements produced by playback of blank video tape…to craft 20 engagingly bleak electro-acoustic events that vary in length from 1 to 15 minutes. Resounding, enveloped, icy still-points… compression, decompression, hesitation, inundation, silence…magmatic cogitations that thresh and hold at the cusp of oblivion, detained by dint of reiteration. Disc 1 engages dark ambient realms…while Disc 2 generates far noisier elements.
***Highly recommend mixing, layering, connecting tracks off of both discs to achieve maximum efficacy***
Circa 2007 compilation of releases from Skull Disco, a London-based independent record label run by Sam Shackleton and Laurie “Appleblim” Osborne from 2005-2008. Both Shackleton and Appleblim are considered to be innovators in the evolution of the so-called dubstep genre of electronic dance music. Appleblim’s productions fall close to the dominant conventions and devices exploited within the genre…the lurching, hindered beats…negativist bass-lines…blatantly dynamic arrangements, and oft-clipped samples. While Shackleton’s tracks reveal true innovation within, and without, the framework of dubstep sound….melding African and Middle Eastern percussion/instrument samples with a minimalist, Basic-Channel-esque techno dub mentality…into a lush, hypnotic style of organic rhythm-scapes that more than insinuate a Muslimgauze influence.
Stress (formed in 1981) is the West Midlands, England duo of Phil Clarke (editor of the Nuneaton fanzine Damn Latin) and Alan Rider (editor of the Coventry fanzine Adventures in Reality). Integrating vintage synthesizers and drum machines, bass guitar, cut-up samples, programming and vocals…Stress created a austere brand of electronic New Wave synth-pop that is contemporary to bands such as Cabaret Voltaire, Joy Division/New Order, Attrition, Eyeless In Gaza, and Depeche Mode. Conspiracy Theory serves as a “best of” compilation album featuring remastered tracks from their first two cassette albums Help Comes Too Late (1982) and Restraint (1984)…as well as a few tracks that appeared on various compilations in 1984-1985. While catchy and rooted in synth-pop, the songs retain a raw and experimental edge…especially the manner in which the drums are programmed, as well as in their charmingly deadpan vocal delivery. The lyrical themes are rooted in a dour, Orwellian outlook on materialist society…the neuroleptic nature of popular music…and a desire to artistically subvert mainstream culture. Recommended Tracks: The Pulse Thickens…which is a satisfyingly moody instrumental; I Go To Pieces…for it’s tricky, rhythmic impetus; Semi-D Prison…an entrancing vibe and clever arrangement; Tear It Down…a techno-delic journey with industrial leanings; The Prayer Clock…a breakdance circle forms at a political rally (nice use of speech sample).
***Czech out the special “Stress Edition” of the Adventures In Reality fanzine included…which contains press clippings, photos, lyrics, and an amazing list of the equipment used to create their sounds***
Four-way split collection from Chicago-based Immune Recordings…featuring exclusive side-long, minimalist explorations by a quad-angular cluster of artists from the American experimental/psychedelic music scene.
Pulse Emitter…Daryl Groetsch from Portland, OR…utilizes home-made modular synthesizer pads and patterns to fashion a pair of delicately melodic explorations through desolate yawns of cosmic introspection.
Date Palms…Greg Kowalsky & Marielle Jakobsons from Oakland, CA…blend violin, Fender Rhodes, analog synthesizers, bass, and tanpura into a gently rising Carnatic/Hindustani-influenced carpet ride that coalesces an eastern style raga haze with a Spacemen 3-esque bass-driven drone. Warning…there is a false ending at approx. 1:40 remaining in the track.
EXPO 70…is guitarist Justin Wright from Los Angeles, CA…joined with Mike Vera on percussion and Aaron Osborne on bass to create an entrancing growl of psyche-drone-doom that radiates a heavy influence by the motorik ( repetitive 4/4 beat) of classic Krautrock. Originally composed/prepared to accompany a vintage fashion show, the track is broken into two distinct movements… the transition of which occurs at approx. 8 and a half minutes in.
Faceplant…solo work from Wisconsin native Aaron Coyes of Peaking Lights…constructs three repetitive, techno-trance grooves with his own custom-made electronics devices and modular synths. Aggression is assertively disco-delic…Sensation undulates in a Reichian swirl of appregiated rhythmic manipulations…and Sedation infuses the stylistic elements of both previous tracks into a mezmerizing cocktail.
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