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What KFJC has added to their library and why...

Clawman – “Citizen Gorgeous” – [Imaginator Records]

citizen-gorgeous-SQUARE2

Eccentric solo recordings with a ton of overdubs. Not exactly rock, not exactly pop, not exactly anything really. Clawman is one David Rogers-Berry, of whom I know nothing. With the exception of a guest or two on a couple of tracks, he plays everything himself, including guitars, keyboards, percussion, vocals, and various unidentifiable sounds. The musical style changes from song to song and in fact it often changes quite a bit within each individual song too, so it’s not easy to get a handle on what’s going on here. I listened to this CD three times and it sounded different each time–new parts that I hadn’t heard before kept showing up. An interesting although somewhat baffling listen. There is something on here for you so check it out.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on November 28, 2017 at 11:21 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Lord Fyre – “Destruction At 2013″ – [Auris Apothecary]

    lord_fyre

    Droning, lo-fi, semi-bedroom recordings. Lord Fyre uses all manner of oddness to make their music–listen for hippie drums, various guitars, lap steel, viola, rhythm box, bells, tape echo, found sounds, flute, public address system, califone(!), solar feedback, sonic overload… there is even a Tony Conrad LP in the mix, adding violins.
    A2 is an actual song with vocals, chord changes, and lead guitar. A3 and B2 have vocals too, but they seem more random and off the cuff, which fits the droning, stoned-sounding music.
    For the most part, this record will satisfy your need for hazy, laid back, psychedelic drone experiences.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on November 21, 2017 at 7:59 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Gravitas – “Godspeed & Good Hunting” – [Auris Apothecary]

    gravitas-front
    Respectable, math-style heavy rock from now-defunct trio out of Bloomington, IN.
    Solid playing throughout. Four short tracks (1 to 3 minutes) and two longer tracks (5 to 6 minutes.) I found the latter two to be the best tracks–they move through different passages in tight arrangements and kept my interest. My favorite part is the Sabbath-inspired jam in the middle of #5. #1 is two minutes of solo flanged-out guitar.
    The label says this is their only recorded work. It’s too bad there isn’t more material here, but as I said this is respectable the way it is.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on November 7, 2017 at 9:23 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Adams, Steve / Perkis, Tim – “a Few Eccentricities” – [Self Released]

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    This is delightful. Check out Adams (ROVA Saxophone Quartet) on various saxes and flutes playing duets with electronics master Perkis. On some of the pieces the two players work within the same timbral environment and pitch range, rendering the line between the two less than clear. But not always– sometimes it is quite obvious who is doing what, just as one would expect with duets involving such dissimilar instruments. Each piece explores different terrain and they are all compelling and fun to listen to. A great release from two local musical treasures.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on October 24, 2017 at 7:56 pm
  • Filed as CD,Jazz
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  • Mezzacappa, Lisa – “AvantNOIR” – [Clean Feed]

    Unknown

    A great record. It may as well be subtitled “People Up to No Good in Sketchy Locations in San Francisco at Night” because that is exactly what it sounds like. A high concept record–music composed by bassist/bandleader Mezzacappa as accompaniment to (and extension of) noir literary works and films that she found intriguing and inspirational. Her detailed liner notes lay it all out. The music is skillfully realized by an ensemble of first-rate local jazz/avant-garde players. It twists and turns, making the listener wonder what is waiting in the next dark alley. Snippets of film dialog pop up here and there, and I like the way the electronics of Tim Perkis add a sense of subtle unease throughout. An evocative ride through nighttime SF more than a few decades ago… Fillmore Street, Army Street (not Cesar Chavez), Green Street, etc.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on October 17, 2017 at 9:36 am
  • Filed as CD,Jazz
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  • Unholy Triforce – “Cru/cifict/ion” – [Auris Apothecary]

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    I don’t know why the hell we are adding this to the KFJC music library. Clearly it does not WANT to be added. It’s a limited edition (61 copies) one-sided clear plastic square with eight little black nails driven through it, and a ninth glued across the spindle hole in the middle. If no one ever plays it, who could blame them? If nothing else, it serves as a cool, fucked-up piece of art, but what the Auris Apothecary people really want is for you to figure out some way to play it. Disassemble it or whatever. Don’t just admire it–use it. Nothing worth having comes easy is the message I get. This thing–the nails have been removed for your convenience–has one track (1:30) of PURE NOISE lathe-cut into it. Yes, one brutal track that is a mere minute and a half long, but it ends in a locked groove, so the playing time is actually infinity.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on October 10, 2017 at 11:10 pm
  • Filed as 7-inch,A Library
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  • Machine Listener – “Sentient System” – [No Part of It]

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    A wide range of sounds across the Noise spectrum. There is a sort of “musical” element to some of the tracks–musical as in minimal melodies and drones and repeating patterns of notes, and Tracks 4, 5, and 7 are probably more power ambient than noise. You’d still want to file this under Noise though. The first track starts off gently with a soft drone but not long after the one-minute mark the thing suddenly jumps the rails and starts throwing alarming noises at you. Machine Listener is a solo project by Matthew Gallagher. It’s quite interesting, actually.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on September 26, 2017 at 9:12 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Tagg, David With Forces Mobiles – “Improvisations For Cancer” – [Self Released]

    tagg

    Atlanta guitarist Tagg has released a ton of stuff, much of it on mini-CDs like this one. Here we have Tagg’s 2006 collaboration with an outfit called Forces Mobiles who provide clarinet, violin, piano, and percussion. The result is instrumental ambient music in small doses (tracks are in the 3 to 7 minute range.) Nothing I would call super innovative but if you are in the mood for a bit of ambient soundscape action this should do the trick.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on August 29, 2017 at 10:29 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Midnight Mines – “If You Can’t Find a Partner Use a Wooden Chair” – [Mystery Plane Tapes]

    midnight

    Two guys from the UK who aren’t afraid to make a lo-fi racket out in the garage or wherever this was (poorly) recorded. Baron Saturday and Private Sorrow are their names and they play drums, guitar, keyboards, and at least one of them does vocals. So it’s pounding/crashing drums and blurting guitars and primitive keyboards all over the place. Sometimes similar to The Fall in that they will occasionally roll out a ragged/catchy/rockin’ musical pattern and one of the guys is talk-singing over it.

    This record reminds me of those cassettes I used to send away for in the mid-80s, offered in ads in the back of music zines, where it would be some unknown crazy-ass noise-rock band from Ohio or New Jersey or wherever, on some label I never heard of, and when I finally received it in the mail and listened to it, it was badly recorded and a real treat. This is kind of like that. Track B3 is an instrumental.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on August 8, 2017 at 9:53 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Au:Tone:Al – “S/t” – [Cloister Recordings]

    au.tone.al

    Intriguing trips into the hidden dark ambient recesses of your mind. Two side-long tracks on this cassette, each in the range of 17 minutes long, recorded live at the Luggage Store Gallery in 2010. Joining forces here are Andre Custodio (Say Bok Gwai, Nihil Communication), Dave Ed (Neurosis), and Kevin Gan Yuen (Sutekh Hexen) on Moogs and other synthstuff, along with guitar/amp/noise. Long, extended tones, sometimes meditative, sometimes more outward-reaching, wash over the listener. Reminds me of a subterranean journey through outer space, even though that’s not actually possible… I don’t think.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on July 18, 2017 at 8:54 pm
  • Filed as A Library,Cassette
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  • Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – “Cavoli Riscaldati” – [BUFMS]

    lewiis

    A cavalcade of odd sounds, the origins of which are difficult to discern. Are these machines? Organic things? Electronic glitchery? Tape manipulation? Samples of who knows what? Probably all of the above. The first track starts with weirdly percussive monotone vocals and then moves into snippets of dialog about being sick and not wanting to live and bum trips and such. Then you’re in for a treat: two marathons (34 minutes and 25 minutes) of layered sounds that twist and turn and evolve and go all kinds of places and just work really well. The final track is 17 seconds long and totally unnecessary. Inscrutable material overall.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on June 13, 2017 at 9:39 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Cale, John – “Academy In Peril, The” – [Edsel Records]

    cale

    This mostly instrumental album (1972) was Cale’s second solo effort, and it’s a transitional work in that he had been writing songs for a while–”Vintage Violence” was his previous solo record and that one was all songs–but he was not ready to leave behind the 1960′s avant-garde instrumental sounds he had been known for before the Velvet Underground came along. So there is some of that here. Cale was also classically trained on viola and piano, and that’s another influence that plays a big part on this record. There are three nice, medium-length piano pieces, and The Royal Philharmonic appears on an 8-minute orchestral suite on Side 2 and then joins Cale on the final track. There are a few oddball tracks: “The Philosopher” is all slide guitar, trumpet, and junk percussion; “King Harry” has actual lyrics but Cale delivers them in a creepy whisper; and there is a track on Side 1 that features Legs Larry Smith (of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) giving instructions to someone at a television studio with Cale’s overdubbed violas underneath. Ron Wood appears to be on this record someplace. I wouldn’t call every track strong, but if you’re a Cale fan, or even just curious about him, you’ll find some things to like here.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on March 21, 2017 at 9:08 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,B Library
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  • Meirino, Francisco and Gerritt Wittmer – “Confidence of Being Lost, The” – [Misanthropic Agenda]

    meirino

    Swiss artist Meirino joins forces with the Bay Area’s own Wittmer (aka Misanthropic Agenda) to bring us a foundation of distant hums, rumblings, gurglings, and notes veiled in deep layers of corrosion. Closer up in the mix we hear all manner of glitchy sounds, static, labored breathing, sometimes voices. The overall impression I get is that we have somehow stumbled into a place where terrible things happen and we do not know the way out. This disturbing, evil CD would have been right at home on ‘Radio Free Hatred.’ The artists specify that all three tracks (11 minutes, 8 minutes, and 14 minutes) are to be listened to in one continuous session.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on March 6, 2017 at 10:01 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Guerineau, Sylvain/Kent Carter/Itaru Oki/Makoto Sato – “D’une Rive a L’autre” – [Improvising Beings]

    ib48_cover

    Free jazz sounds from this international quartet, all four members having been based in France since the 1970s and well-known on the jazz/improv scene. What we get here are wide-ranging workouts on tenor sax, trumpet/flugelhorn, bass, and drums. Plenty of variety in this music, with some quiet, ambient-ish sections contrasting with wild sections full of high energy blowing and banging. And of course, everything in between. Trumpeter Itaru Oki also plays a bit of flute. I especially enjoyed bassist Kent Carter, who is solid and also gets some unusual sounds out of his instrument.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 6, 2016 at 8:59 pm
  • Filed as CD,Jazz
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  • Hausu – “Total” – [Hardly Art]

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    2013 release from now-defunct Portland OR band. Layers of noisy guitars. Atonal goodness. Lots of chord changes. Morose vocals. “I don’t want to talk about it any more; I just want to go back to sleep.” A pop sensibility at times. I hear many influences in their music–in various places The Cure, Sonic Youth, Versus, Sunny Day Real Estate, and various shoegaze bands came to mind. A dense guitar-attack sound overall. A3 is a short irresistible track in which the vocals switch back and forth between singing and yelling.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on November 15, 2016 at 10:04 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Almas Fronterizas – “S/t” – [Pistolas y Saguaros Records]

    almas

    Trio playing a potent mix of politically themed California Chicano rock and Native American traditional material. Some tracks bring the raw plugged-in energy of a good garage band, while others take a more elegant approach with a 12-string acoustic guitar. Track 4 on Side 2 is a charging rocker with lyrics in Spanish and an aggressive cumbia beat, and it really works.
    A couple of times guitarist/vocalist Gilberto Rodriguez throws in a slide guitar thing as an abstract percussion effect and I’m not crazy about it. Other than that very small thing, though, I’m in. Unfortunately, the record is too short–several of the songs are only a minute or two in length. I hope these guys get a chance to stretch out and produce a full length, more developed album. Until then, check this one out. As a bonus, it’s a very nice pressing on heavyweight vinyl.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on November 14, 2016 at 11:43 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Mae Shi, The – “Terrorbird” – [5RC]

    mae shi

    Good luck with this one. The Mae Shi is/was a So Cal quartet with two brothers and (I think) various others over the years. This 2004 effort is spaZz rock with a capital Z. They said they didn’t want to make a boring rock album and yeah they absolutely didn’t. They whipped out more than 30 tracks, ranging in length from 6 seconds to just under 3 minutes and said OK here it is, deal with it. Expect mass quantities of high energy thrash and deranged vocals, broken up by various electronic bits and pieces and weirdness–it’s like they used every idea they ever had and smooshed them all together, one after another. This record has, according to the band, eleven songs about the Old and New Testament, ten songs about a prehistoric bird, three songs about vampires, two songs about werewolves, two songs about poisoning in the middle ages, one song about sharks, one song about California, and one song about dolphins in the military. You’re going to want to put this CD on continuous play and bite off a big chunk.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on September 13, 2016 at 9:40 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • El’zabar, Kahil Ritual Trio and Bang, Billy – “Big M: Tribute to Malachi Favors” – [Delmark]

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    Earthy jazz sounds honoring the late, esteemed bassist Malachi Favors (aka Big M) who was the original bassist in this Ritual Trio, headed by Chicago percussionist Kahil El’Zabar. As a member of The Art Ensemble of Chicago and the AACM, Favors was a huge influence musically, and also as somewhat of a father figure, on El’Zabar from an early age. After Favors passed away in 2004, El’Zabar decided to reform the Ritual Trio with Ari Brown on saxophone and Yosef Ben Israel on bass. This 2004 date is a tribute to Big M, with guest Billy Bang on violin. On various tracks, you’ll hear El’Zabar on either trap drums, “earth drums” (African hand drums) or kalimba. He also adds some flute and, on the final track, vocals. Tenor saxophonist Ari Brown plays with a great raw tone and also checks in with some first rate piano on a couple of tracks. If you’re a fan of big, booming, acoustic double bass propulsion, then you’ll enjoy what Ben Israel is up to here. Track 7 is a bluesy vocal piece with piano, bass, violin, and flute, but no percussion–not my favorite track here. Everything else, though, is a fragrant stew of low down African-influenced jazz grooves. Tracks are medium length, in the 6 to 11 minute range.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on September 6, 2016 at 10:37 pm
  • Filed as CD,Jazz
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  • Schmidt, M.C. – “Batu Malablab” – [Megaphone Records]

    batu

    Here is M.C. Schmidt (of Matmos) with something he’s calling a suite for prepared piano, flutes, and electronics. And that’s pretty much what it is–along with percussion, homemade instruments, voices, bird calls, a steel bowl, and more. Two long pieces of electroacoustic adventure. For the most part this is spacious music and all the instruments and sounds are given room to breathe. The piano tones sometimes remind me of gamelan sounds, but on a small scale, not one of those big gamelan orchestras. When the Asian flute comes in, it makes for an exotic listening experience. Track 2 has a passage where someone is speaking in Chinese, and there are also vocoder vocals, and at another point backward vocals. Local sound wizards Thomas Dimuzio and Wobbly are collaborators on this, adding electronic textures and (one would think) treatments with their Buchlas and Super Manetrons and whatnot. At one point I heard what sounded like classic analog Moog sounds and that was nice.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on August 30, 2016 at 10:14 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Badaboum – “Badaboum” – [Bruit Direct Disques]

    br-d-15-badaboum-face

    Here is a French F trio keeping the darkwave sound alive. Reminiscent of bands such as Lost Sounds and even approaching a no-wave thing in places. Bass, drums, keyboards, vocals. No guitars that I could detect. The vaguely evil-sounding keyboards are the best part. I heard some horn-like sounds in a couple of places so maybe they invited a sax or a trumpet to the party. Some of the singing is in French but I’m pretty sure there are some other languages in there too–German maybe, and English too I think. Bleak and dreary and good.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on July 26, 2016 at 10:18 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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