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Pek, Jakob – “Acoustic Medicine” – [Self Produced]

Minimal, hippy-dippy, solo guitar explorations courtesy of local artist Jakob Pek, who makes up one-half of improv duo Dunkelpek (with percussionist Nava Dunkelman). While that group can get pretty far out at times, for this project Jakob keeps things simple and contemplative. Tracks 1 and 3 are fingerstyle jams, while tracks 2 and 4 make use of long held tones, made with a violin bow as well as perhaps an E-bow, a signal generator, and Tibetan singing bowls. Track opens with some prayer bells and ends up being a combination of the two approaches. Slow down and take it in.

  • Reviewed by Phil Phactor on December 13, 2017 at 6:57 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • World Narcosis – “World Narcosis” – [Self Produced]

    From Iceland. Blasty. Short songs. Screaming vocals. Despair. Angst.

    - Billie Joe Tolliver

    Track lengths:??1- 1:13??2- 0:35??3- 1:01??4- 0:52??5- 0:55??6- 0:55??7- 1:33??8- 2:12??9- 0:51


  • Reviewed by billiejoe on December 13, 2017 at 2:29 pm
  • Filed as 7-inch,A Library
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  • Carriere, Christian – “Field of Containment” – [Funktionslust Records]

    Carriere is a sound artist and composer from Montreal. To me this is what happens when a composer does electronic music. Made by tuned closed circuit feedback. Sounds like beats with melody.
    - Billie Joe Tolliver

  • Reviewed by billiejoe on December 13, 2017 at 2:27 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Ashley, Robert – “Improvement” – [Elektra Nonesuch]


    OK, I’ll admit it. I was pretty skeptical of this one. I mean, of course Robert Ashley is a genius, but a mid-nineties made-for-TV opera? And what’s up with the Victorian steam-punk woman on the cover. There’s just no way this thing is gonna be hip.

    And I gotta say, after listening to the first few tracks, I was EVEN MORE skeptical. It really is an opera! Full of synths and bizarrely layered vocal arrangements so hard to follow that I had to read the liner notes just to understand. I didn’t think I was going to make it all the way through both CDs.

    But then something happened, and I understood.

    It wasn’t the plot that hooked me, because not very much happens. Scenes take place in mundane settings, like doctors’ offices, cars, and airline check-in counters. The main theme of the second act (as far as I can tell) is an enumeration of the contents of the main character’s purse.

    It also wasn’t the very conceptual and supposedly deep symbolism, which I found strangely overt yet utterly confusing. The liner notes clearly explain that this whole thing is an allegory for 1492 Spain, and that characters represent concepts including “America”, “The Roman Catholic Church”, “Integrated Philosophy”, and “The Descendants of Jews and non-Jews (i.e. us)”.

    No, it was something about the cold electronic minimalism that finally got to me. The staccato whispers and monotonous choral unison. Highly uncomfortable, but before long it becomes your world. It is all you know. How could music ever have been any different?

    The fragmented points of view and sometimes unreliable narration of Ashley himself. Monologues cast out into the ether. Call-and-response dialogues that subsume themselves, crossing the threshold of tolerable similarity. Honest contemplation of the situation at hand.

    The importance of eating pasta at every meal.

    If you are looking for a “song”, drop the needle on Tarzan (cd2-2). It’s pretty catchy, although the protagonist hates it, and features Ashley narrating the lyrics while the are being sung below.

    “The Doctor” (cd2-4) shows Ashley’s unique dialog style, in a form that is still intelligible and occasionally musical. For slightly more difficult listening, check out the Airline Ticket Counter scenes (cd1-2, cd1-6). But honestly pretty much every track is worth playing. Or maybe none are. I can’t tell any more.

  • Reviewed by Louie Caliente on December 12, 2017 at 9:26 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Tandaapushi – “Borromean Rings” – [Jvtlandt]

    This 2017 release, our first add from the Danish label Jvtlandt, is the second album from Tandaapushi, the Borromean trio of electronic musician and pianist Leo Dupleix, bassist Laurens Smet, and drummer Louis Evrard.

    The core tracks of the album were recorded during a session in Brussels with Dupleix on the pianet, Smet on guitar with assorted applied effects, and Evrard on drums. In Part 1 (T2), a steady, hypnotic guitar and drum groove rumble beneath rhythmic jabs on the electric keys. In Part 2 (T4) the drum/guitar foundation, more driving than the first and building in intensity, while mysterious tones spiral. For the Finale (T6), a heavier guitar sound anchors wild excursions on the keys. After the session, the guys shared a plate of frites. Between the main tracks are three improvisations- muted beats percolating from a drum machine and question mark strings (T1), creeping repetitive guitar and deep distorted bass (T3) and looping washes of feedback with soft guitar melodies (T5). It brought to my mind early jazz fusion keyboard experiments, and the grind of the Drid Machine with the angular edges filed away, and I enjoyed it the whole way through.

  • Reviewed by lexi glass on December 12, 2017 at 8:43 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Still, William Grant – “Works By William Grant Still” – [New World Records (2)]

    William Grant Still was a 20th Century classical composer, creating pieces often in the neo-romantic and neo-impressionism style. Born in Woodville, Mississippi and spending most of his early days in Little Rock, Arkansas, he was musically influenced by his step father’s record collection. Listening to opera as well as learning to play violin honed his interest in classical music. Seeing his fist orchestra perform at Oberlin college settled it: he would compose music. This did not come easy, of course. He played in jazz bands, wrote jazz arrangements for Artie Shaw, and travelled to California in hopes of writing music for films and television. He had minor success with this but it influenced his ideas on orchestrations. Still was the first African American composer to “secure extensive publication and significant performances” of his work. He was considered the patriarch of Black classical music, being the culmination of the Harlem Renaissance. Even though he studied under Edgard Varese, his style went toward a more traditional sound.
    The selections on this collection cover many of his diverse projects, from fully orchestrated pieces to simpler tunes composed to poems by Black poets. The Ennanga pieces are his attempt to connect to his African heritage, though at the time he wrote them he did not have access to African music recordings. These pieces became his interpretation. Just like the Florence Price work at our station, this is an important addition to our collection.

  • Reviewed by Naysayer on December 10, 2017 at 11:16 am
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Ryr/ Transistorwald [coll] – [Ufa Muzak]

    ryr transistorwald cover

    Martial Neo-folk from Ryr
    Doomy ambient from Transistorwald
    Cyrillic song titles leading to a lot of questions
    Militant pagan hymns of vengeance and honey.

  • Reviewed by Hemroid The Leader on December 7, 2017 at 3:36 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Thunder of Silence Ensemble – “Tree of Life” – [Self Produced]

    thunder of silence tree of life

    Healing blood-cooling and de-acidifying medicinal music meditations featuringsinging bowls, pan percussion, and electric harp. The four directions and the ten thousand things. Put up the dream catcher.

  • Reviewed by Hemroid The Leader on December 7, 2017 at 2:36 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Forrest Friends – “40 Winks of Dyer” – [Cryptic Carousel Records]


    cuddly duo of freak folks out of Seattle on an assortment of broken instruments and looping droning and buzzing electronics; extended noise mantras unfold into underwater exotica grooves, squishy rhythms and tribal play toy pandemonium warbled echoes of social ineptitude take form in feral whelps, growls and howls; some cluttered garage hang out ayahuasca hazing

  • Reviewed by abacus on December 6, 2017 at 8:39 pm
  • Filed as A Library,Cassette
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  • Anguish of Enlightenment, The [coll] – [Self-release]


    black metal split from the Seattle area: Drakul unleashes relentless death infected blasts of grime and decrepitude; obsessions include the occult, psychopathology and necrophilia so you know its tasty. Sermons On a Moonless Night is like a depressive vampire porno, distant fog laden blood rituals with garbled goblin vocals, hog growls, and digital blastbeats for your amphetamine fueled late night suicidal meme quests

  • Reviewed by abacus on December 6, 2017 at 8:32 pm
  • Filed as A Library,Cassette
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  • La Tene – “Tardive/Issime” – [Three:Four Records]

    Poly-melodic, hypnotic eastern string jams. Waves of riffs from the rhythmic hurdy-gurdy of Alexis Degrenier; floating seafoam background humming of the electronic Indian harmonium of D’Incise; both tied to the subtle, leading percussion of Cyril Bondi.

    wisps of electronic strings,
    bring on the wave.

  • Reviewed by mickeyslim on December 6, 2017 at 7:25 pm
  • Filed as A Library,Cassette
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  • Lyken, Mark / Dove, Emma – “Mirror Lands” – [Time Released Sound]


    This is a beautiful soundtrack written by Lyken and Dove and set in Scotland, home of the Cromarty Lighthouse, to whose last keeper this is dedicated. There are sounds of water lapping at docks, drills, industry, voices, and geese. Minimalist piano weaves in and out of the tracks in a haunting, beautiful way. The atmosphere is chilly, lonely, and lovely. This is electronica and industrial and field sounds. I love it.

  • Reviewed by humana on December 5, 2017 at 9:01 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Squarepusher – “Feed Me Weird Things” – [Rephlex]


    Drum and bass and breakbeat–that’s the genre, and this is the debut studio album of Squarepusher, aka Tom Jenkinson. This is a stunning release that is frenetic, shimmery electronica at its finest. The notes on the CD are fascinating, asserting that Squarepusher “gives us the SOUND of SOUND.” Jump into the energy floe and lose yourself. 7 is my favorite track.

  • Reviewed by humana on December 5, 2017 at 8:40 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Tiny Vipers – “02.20.2010″ – [Dead Accents]


    sparse guitar folk narratives from Seattle’s Jesy Fortino; recordings from an era ago, recorded at the Josephine; gentle yet haunting plunges into the weight of a heavy spirit; her voice is rustic yet somber, a real heartbreaker, evocative; live performance so the songs track together, just play them all and weep.

  • Reviewed by abacus on December 5, 2017 at 6:53 pm
  • Filed as A Library,Cassette
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  • Unsustainable Social Condition – “Your Strife Means Nothing to Me” – [New Forces]


    2016 cassette release from the noisecore project of Matt Purse (Fenian, Remainderless, founder of LA’s Oxen, on fire rn now if you ask me), joined here by drummers Ted Byrnes (LAFMS) and Charlie Mumma (Sissy Spacek, in Wood and Metal with Byrnes). Explosive torrents of shattered glass. Searing shards ripping voices to ribbons. Rapid-fire drumming plows through the second half of T1 and utterly destroys T2. Left me bruised, bloodied, and blown away.

  • Reviewed by lexi glass on December 5, 2017 at 3:30 pm
  • Filed as A Library,Cassette
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  • SfSound Collected Works Collective Works [coll] – [SfSound]


    sfSound is a collective of local experimental musicians who stage performances and events, including the annual San Francisco Tape Music Festival. But here the focus is on acoustic sounds in this 2016 collection of composed and improvised works by and for the group’s members.

    01 Trio Largo 2010 work for clarinet/sax/trumpet/oboe quartet composed by Matt Ingalls, director of sfSound and the San Francisco Tape Music collective, composer, and software engineer. Long notes – alone or in strange pairs, shaded with improvisation from the players – fast strokes, and stretches of heavy silence make up the title’s trio.

    02 Bacchanale Oboe concerto performed by Kyle Bruckmann (of Lozenge and many more groups). The piece was penned by composer and violinist Erik Ulman in honor of painter Cy Twombly’s 81st birthday in 2009. Meandering, continuous notes tracing shapes in space.

    03 Mobiles 6 A piece from saxophonist/composer John Ingle‘s Mobiles series. This one is based on 12 tone technique (where each of the 12 notes in the chromatic scale is a special snowflake), in tribute to some of the masters of the tone row, Luigi Dallapicolla and Anton Webern. Gradual discovery.

    04 Improvisation Improvised but impeccable, with quick gestures that sometimes sound electronic.

    05 Reflection | Refraction Lovely and strange dance between the strings and oboe in this work from Chicago composer Christopher Wendell Jones.

    06 Ratchetforms Mechanical, grinding bowing and horns that blare and bubble in this Bruckmann composition, with improvisational moments written into the score.

    07 Mobiles 5 This Mobiles work is a tribute to Wadada Leo Smith and Morton Feldman, Clarinet, sax and cello slowly shifting through sequences of tones, like a gently rotating mobile.

    08 Improvisation Moves into dark directions with menacing dark piano chords and swarming horns.

    09 Fragment for Jules Olitski Ullman piece written as a memorial for the painter Jules Olitski who died in 2007. Ends on a suspenseful note with sustained high pitched strings and piano stabs.

    Much more information, including snapshots of the scores, available in the liner notes.

  • Reviewed by lexi glass on December 3, 2017 at 6:13 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Ensemble, Et Al. – “Slow Reveal, The” – [Imaginator Records]

    Don’t mention the Tortoise in the room. Four academically-minded percussionists get together with John McEntire and record a p*st-rock album. Vibraphones, glockenspiels, dense interlocking rhythms, drums that crash in half way through, it’s all here. The first four minutes of??Minbalism (T8) sees the boys putting their chops to good use setting up an entrancing, polyrhythmic, overtone-laden drone. Once the drums come on, it gets a bit corny, but that’s just me (maybe?). Solid mallet vibes, if a little tame. Dive in!

  • Reviewed by Phil Phactor on November 29, 2017 at 8:03 am
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Clawman – “Citizen Gorgeous” – [Imaginator Records]


    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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  • Singleton, Alvin – “Sing to The Sun” – [Albany Records]

    housing Singleton sing to the sun cover

    This is the fourth CD devoted to the works of Alvin Singleton (b. 1940) and our second in the library. These five important chamber works were composed between 1971 and 2003. From 71 to 85 he lived overseas returning to the US as resident composer for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
    Track 1 is vibes and piano. Track 2 solo flute workout. Track 3 features Children’s Chorus w/male speaker. Track 4 features clarinet quartet. Track 5 is clarinet and piano.

  • Reviewed by Hemroid The Leader on November 26, 2017 at 5:54 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Lord Fyre – “Destruction At 2013″ – [Auris Apothecary]


    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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