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Music Reviews

Fursaxa – “Madrigals in Duos ” – [Time-Lag]

Daryl Licht   2/23/2004   12-inch, A Library

Fursaxa is the (mostly) solo project of Tara Burke, a Philadelphia resident
who has been intriguing us for years now with her efforts in a number of
groups, most notably, Un. On ‘Madrigals In Duos? , her third full-length
release, she displays all the required skills to earn her ‘acid folk? merit
badge. Some tracks are more straightforward, in a lo-fi folk-psych vein,
featuring mainly acoustic guitar and vocals. Other tracks shoot straight
for the heart of that 3AM vibe, combining cosmic organ drones with
ghostly, wailing vocals. Finally, there are a couple of noisier tracks, with
dissonant electric guitars and repetitive, driving, hand percussion.
Beautiful and otherworldly music. Mandatory for play on late night shows. DL

Trans Am – “Liberation ” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

Daryl Licht   2/23/2004   12-inch, A Library

‘Liberation?, the 7th full-length release from Washington D. C.’s, Trans Am, finds
the band continuing to feature a familar mix of sonic elements – Krautrock, 80’s
Synthpop, Electro-Ambience, Punk, and Post Rock. Despite its similarity to their
previous work, however, this album represents a new pinnacle of acheivement
for the band. On ‘Liberation?, which features a strong theme of opposition to the
policies of the Bush Administration, the band has a acheived a nearly perfect
synthesis of cover art, ‘lyrical? content, and music. The cuts on this album (most
of which track) flow almost seamlessly from synth-driven Krautrock grooves to
danceable synthpop to late-night, electro-ambient pieces and driving rockers.
The combination of political soundbites/synthesized vocals and ominous
analogue sounds works perfectly to convey their damning indictment of Bush’s
war in Iraq and evoke fear of Big Brother’s ever intrusive gaze/grasp. A beautiful
record – sonically diverse and conceptually complete. Highly recommended! DL

Parts & Labor “Groundswell” [JMZ Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/18/2004   A Library, CD, Format

Brooklyn trio tapping into that Lightning Bolt voltage.
Whip-ass drummer Jim Sykes (ultimately replaced by
Joel Saladino) and buzzneck bassist BJ Warshaw create
furious instro flurries. What helps these stand out from
other Bolt babies is keyboardist Dan Friel, he adds a
sense of *disobedient* electronics. Notes pitch-flip up
octaves at a time, wires get crossed, no glissando
all blitzando. Actually all members are credited with
electronics, so it could well be a group effort. The
key is that sense of abandon over both monolithic and
manic rhythm cores. Track #4 features something like
a theremin in desperate need of ritalin. This is their
debut from Feb 2003, since then they’ve evidently
braved vocals. It would be cool to hear them hook up
with a Alan Vega lyric-droner…or maybe lace some
NYC saxaholic in their melee.

NOTE: Last track ends at 3:32 (then a slow drone that
ultimately reprises #1’s short wash for “closure”)

Mahjongg “Machine Gong” [Cold Crush]

Thurston Hunger   2/11/2004   A Library, CD, Format

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, before teenravers
ruled the technomatic dancefloor in e-induced dehydration,
kids used to dance to rock music. This clumsy collection
of five freaks recall that time and stumble to the beat
on this dance rock set of songs. I dig the 8-bit eq on
the first three “songs” (track one is something like a
cassette recording of an airplane?). Most of the songs
feature some sort of choppiness to an instrument or
voice or Atari console in the mix… Yeah if Guided by
Voices had been raised on a strict diet of the Bush
Tetras then your Mom and Dad would never have met and
so forth. I think this band will prove to be more
wonderfully fucked up over time, allegedly they are
a tri-state affair from Chicago, Missouri and Oregon.
This release does not cover nearly as much territory.
Percussion percolated to your taste.

New Circle Five “Dreaming Wide Awake” [Deep Listening]

Thurston Hunger   2/4/2004   A Library, CD, Format

Wonder women Pauline Oliveros and Susie Ibarra create a
five-pointed circle rounded out with vocalista Kristin
Norderval, Rosi Hertlein on violin (some voice too) and
Monique Buzzarte on various deeper winds. Operatic scat
will leap out at your ears somewhat but Norderval and
Hertlein are grounded in the texts they are breathing
life into. Ibarra is subtle but strong, opening beaded
percussion doors into songs…high chimes, soft cymbals,
distant thundertom rumbles. Oliveros’ accordion sets
up plenty of sonic fields, droney vortices, but she is
also suprisingly nimble in other parts. This is on
Oliveros’ Deep Listening label (and way of life); true
to form the performers do listen deeply, the sound is
both light with space between players/singers and
heavy with tension from drones augmented by Buzzarte’s
clouds of thick trombone, and from Hertlein’s anxiety
violin attack. Polyglot sotto vices.