KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Chaos Butterfly + Biggi Vinkeloe – “Live at Studio Fabriken” – [Eld Records] (CD)

lombard   11/30/2005   A Library, CD

Chaos Butterfly (Dina Emerson doing vocals, wineglasses, harmonica & computer AND Jonathan Segel on guitar, violin & computer) collaborates with the sax, flute, and vocal skills of Biggi Vinkeloe in this live recording from Sweden circa March 2005. The female vocals are usually wordless utterances, getting crazier on track 3–on which track the sax is particularly hectic too. Clicks and scrapes and beeps make for an intriguing experimental release with improv jazz moments.

-Cynthia Lombard

Phosphorescent – “Aw Come Aw Wry” – [Misra] (CD)

lombard   11/30/2005   A Library, CD

Matthew Houck is the guy behind Phosphorescent and this is their 3rd release. He has a pleasant, cracking vocal style and the music has a slow, somber feel to it, with the nice addition of horns, pump organ, piano, pedal steel, and accordian. Aspects of this also have the emotional grandeur of Neutral Milk Hotel, while still retaining the folky core that is Phosphorescent.

-Cynthia Lombard

Mi and L’au “self-titled” [Young God] (CD)

lombard   11/30/2005   A Library, CD

Beautiful, spare folky music can be found here, created by this couple who resides in the woods of Finland. Mi (short for Mira) is Finnish and L’au (Laurent) is French. When they sing together I’m reminded of some of Bill Callahan’s collaborations with girlfriend-at-the-time Cynthia Dall, as the tracks have the same sense of isolation.

-Cynthia Lombard

Martin, Caroline – “I Had a Hundred More Reasons T ” – [Smalldog Records]

mitch   11/16/2005   A Library, CD

Bristol UK-based songwriter has the distinction of having recorded
a John Peel session prior to having ever played live in front of an
audience (and since has recorded four live sessions for Radio 1,
including one for Rob da Bank), based solely on her self-released
???Young Tender Rabbit??? EP from 1998. Darkness accompanies
this work, both in the melodies and stark lyricism of intimate,
insular loss and careless simplicity. CAROLINE MARTIN dwells
on unrequited love, dogs, guns, disillusionment, subliminal yet
ever present emotional violence, & inexorable desolation ??? all
with a Sahara-dry & self-deprecating wit informed by weariness
and a perverse sort of optimism that caresses even as it laments.
MARTIN???s second ever live gig was at Glastonbury, and she has
since toured solo and in support of NINA NASTASIA. Fine simple
material effective and affective.
MITCH November 2005

Calla – “Collisions ” – [Beggars Banquet]

mitch   11/16/2005   A Library, CD

September 2005 release finds core trio (front man
Aurelio Valle, Peter Gannon & drummer Wayne
Magruder) upgrading to major label for this fourth
LP, with Chris Zane again producing. Austerity and
Muted anger win the day (best on # 1, 5, 9), with a
host of Valle???s desolate images contrasting a more
upbeat sonic set design (bits of harmonica, organ &
tambourine glimpse through the foliage from time
to time) of stridency + hooks. Is this what they would
have recorded for ? Most likely, though
it might not have sounded so tenuous???.
CALLA may be leaving the indie ranks, but at least
it is on their own terms.
MITCH November 2005

Deerhoof – “Runners Four, the ” – [5 Rue Christine]

Thurston Hunger   11/11/2005   A Library, CD

Hitomi sounds like your childhood imaginary friend. Why
can’t everyone see her over there, that 4 1/2 foot bunny,
and why isn’t that bunny gnawing on a grammy like a golden
24K carrot? Oh, I know that Deerhoof always packs enough
oddball into their ouvre to put the bastions of boredom on
red alert, but at the same time each album is laced with
breathtaking pop/rock/sound that should be covered by
armies of teenage garage bands. This album in particular!
(Although under torture I could see how some folks might
see this as the equivalent of Sonic Youth’s “Dirty” for
the hoven ones…but I still think “Dirty” is damn good!)
Greg is still playing his minimal kit like a pack of pop
rocks (check out “Running Thoughts” it’s like a candy
version of Close to the Edge. This band is so sneaky good
in addition to that tasty outer crunchy layer. Both John
and Chris can go from super hero high-wiring to rock-solid
soldered rhythm guitar and brazen blues swagger, check
the choruses of “Wrong Time Capsule.” To me one big key
is the mingling of the Hitomi’s cheeriness with the
acidic dissonant tones the band can muster. But then how
can one explain “Odyssey” and its David-Grubbs-in-a-bottle
tossed in the sea sort floatation or “Bone Dry” and its
fairytale charm or the Horton-hears-the-Who altar boy
innocence of “You Can See” all vocally 99% Hitomi-free?’
And yet still tremendous. Deerhoof have cranked their
concupiscence up to pure irresistability.

Thollem/Rivera – “I’ll Meet You Half Way Out.. ” – [Thollem]

Thurston Hunger   11/11/2005   A Library, CD

Thollem McDonas has already logged a solid solo outing at
KFJC, on this release he’s paired with drummer Rick Rivera.
Thollem’s hands on the piano are active, but also he’s got
rants in pants. The songbook meets the angry poet’s notebook;
the best thing about this pairing is how spontaneous their
union feels. Haunted by jaunty melodies, Thollem’s ponderings
avoid being overly ponderous. His philosopher’s stone goes
skipping over waves of piano and the 0-60 rapid eruptions
that Rivera quick-shifts on his kit. Rivera corners so well
and his rimshots hit every rimtarget, that I’ve got to believe
this was a lot more reheared than it appears. Thollem’s voice
never really sings, but exhorts in a pleasant way through
a variety of suns shining through a variety of worlds in
the super-singularity of a life. Death is present, but often
the straight man for McDonas musing. So while he asserts that
“I’ve Confused myself For You” and “i Am Lost in my thoughts”
I think he actually knows the lay of the land there pretty
well. I enjoyed my visit, even more as I stayed longer (and
my appreciation for Rivera definitely grew with listens as
well.)

Id and Sleeper – “Displacement ” – [Mush]

Thurston Hunger   11/11/2005   CD, Hip Hop

Duo from Lawrence, Kansas. While I’m sure inflatable people at
all the posh clubs are gonna ask to check the iD first, still
please don’t sleep on the Sleeper. He sets up well-camoflauged
beat-traps like he’s channeling SeeFeel, his drum machinery
has got a dark reeling ride to it. Listen to it trip and
stagger on “Entropy.” His production is very akin to the old
curtains-closed-tight-in-the-middle-of-the-day mystery that
used to be prescribed on KFJC’s Sonic Pharmacy. But the
“Chemical Burn” delivered under the counter here is
definitely its own trip. Ironically, “Hungry Ghost” is the
least spectral of the audio holodecks Sleeper conjures up.
On the MiC, iD delivers anger and disapproval along abstract
lines that might not connect on the visceral plane, but
actually run perfectly parallel to the hypnagogic-a-gogo
Sleeper has assembled. Often times iD’s verses get reverbed
or redoubled to add to the headtrip, the sound of his voice
and the counter-percussion it adds is crucial to the effect
here. Whoever selected the few spoken samples from the intro
“Idea” on in did a nice job as well, they often add a trace
of humor to some otherwise austere lyrics that seem to go
down a philosophical rabbit hole chasing the shadow of a
self-flagellating Stoic. Not without self-awareness though
as “Vague” indicates. Experi-meant-all.

Wu Man – “Wu Man and Friends ” – [Traditional Crossroads]

Thurston Hunger   11/11/2005   CD, International

Insert “I am Wu Man, hear me roar” joke here. I’m sorry, but
ever since I first heard about this talented musician (back
when she stole Derek Bailey’s stringed thunder) I always
crack a smile. And while this album definitely has serious
and serene petals-on-the-stream beauty, it also comes with a
warm sense of humor. Even without the one-minute mouth-bow
zinger of an intro, “Old Joe Clark” taps an Appalachian funny
bone to sex and drugs and rock and roll. Or zen and moonshine
and bluegrass? Track 4 offers more country music (although
the country might be US of Banjo, or maybe the Pipa’s Republic
of China). This album seems loosely joined hither and thither
by brothers and sisters of the zither, and showcases a fine
range of sound. “Raining” is an apt title/theme for much of
the quick picking on this CD, it features Wu Man singing in
addition to ripples of string. Julian Kytasty also displays
his excellent voice, check out “Cossack Lament.” A pretty
picture of what life at the Crossroads can offer. Now to get
Mono to cover the closer, “Night Rider”

Animal Collective – “Feels ” – [Fat Cat]

Thurston Hunger   11/11/2005   A Library, CD

The phrase “Desert Island Disc” is a cliche, but something
about this feels like it was recorded on such an island…
instead of the hallowed hazy cozy confines of the church of
Scott Colburn. Or maybe it’s that in listening to this
an island sort of springs up around you, and damn if the
natives are giddily gleeful. Seriously this album is happy,
as paradoxical as that sounds since happily this is not a
serious album. It is a lush one; hell a toy zither sounds
like it’s pouring down from the clouds. There’s a lot of
stutter-stepping guitar laid down through-out this, and
lyrics have a nice impulsiveness to them. Like a friend
who wants to tell you all the details of a dream, but is
hurrying up before the best parts evaporate especially as
“someone in my dictionary is up to no good.” You gotta
love that line, and this album…it’s the kind of album
that a lot of people are going to get crushes on.

Palestine, Charlemagne – “Schlongo!!!Da Luv Drone ” – [Cortical Foundation]

Thurston Hunger   11/11/2005   A Library, CD

When I first listened to this (before reading any of the liner
notes, etc…) my initial thought was this is what churches
should become. No sermonizing wise guys, no proseltyzing from
the pulpit. Just let people sit and think with a larger-than-
life organ sending sound waves through their souls. Reflect.
Then I find out this WAS recorded in a church, and better yet
between the hours of 1:15-2:30 am!! And very well-recorded at
that, aside from a surprise spine-snapping shot at 25:56; was
that someone leaving and letting a door slam? It shattered my
reverie like a bullet…but within time I was able to rebuild
my castle in the air. This piece just seems to accumulate
waves and force and volume and mass, all the while keeping
entropy at bey. That’s I think the spiritual side of this, a
sense of order. With a sound that sustains so well and one
marked by magnificent order , drone is elevated to something
approaching the divine, especially in a world of chaos and
noise (which of course we need as well). Only after 70 minutes
do we feel the veils and keys lift, the vortex thin, and our
feet return to earth. And our minds return to the liner notes,
where we see the man behind the keyboard curtain, a sort of
happy-go-hippy…and the perhaps the key sorceror, engineer
Tom Recchion.

Nautical Almanac – “Cover the Earth ” – [Heresee]

Thurston Hunger   11/11/2005   12-inch, A Library

Power triad of Baltimor-phiends delivers harrowing sonic
hallucinations. On the hands-side, I could have sworn I saw a
gorilla come in and beat up a couple of kids playing a video
racing game. Then someone tripped a shimmer alarm which caused
the peeling of skin from Lurch (of the Adams’ Family fame).
Actually all of that happened in the space of “Megacorps”/
“Leviathon” which track together. “Try It 2wice” has all hands
on percussion decks and a goofball cartoon violin punchline in
the mix. That violin gets the last eternal laugh via a
seamless locked groove!! On the flip side, “Rolling in the
Green” has a rubber-band porch-fi-fried feel while Carly
Ptak’s voice serenades in stacks. Almost song!?! Summarizing
these sounds is tough in text, but you can sure smell the art
oozing off this black vinyl. I guess on this release I could
say there is a loose feel of intercepted transmissions crashing
with primitive noise attacks. Tastes like surveillance at times.
Also they are not afraid to deploy SHRILL power. On the other
end of frequencies, “Twenty Twenty” escapes too quickly as it
implants a killer furrowing dub. The record ends with a
“Clump Clump” clutzy New Year’s Eve parade.

Pelican / Mono Split [coll] – [Temporary Residence Ltd.]

Thurston Hunger   11/11/2005   12-inch, A Library

Battle of the behemoths, and the winner is….James Plotkin.
He zaps in with a remix of “Angel Tears” going well beyond
glitch into *splotch*. It’s still got Pelican’s anchor of
bloodied bass and battered drums, but before we get the
chrome choruses of recognizable guitar, we traipse through
a nice minefield of minced meatiness. Plotkin leaves it
alone for a few bars of lurch and torch, but some speaker
squelch starts to re-infect it, and then he starts picking
at the whole scab leaving whorling chunks and a crisp cold
end. Pelican’s “Rain Amber” starts with an escher staircase
of organ, and moody bassy piano with (intentional?) ripples
of psuedo-vinyl warp…then come the burnished guitars and
cymbal shining drums and a comfortable anthemic march.
Japan’s Mono fires up the ol’ wind-tunnel dynamics machine
better than any non Black Emperor’s going. They stoke it
with hyper-arpeggio guitars with tight galactic reverb…
….ahhhhhh. The piece has a near-death experience about
half-way through, you can see the life-line in the vinyl,
but then guitarists Takaakira Goto and Yoda soon clamp
jumper-cables to your auditory nerves. Mono definitely
delivers an invisible soundtrack beckoning a film to be
made…nice work from all camps.

Mudboy – “This is Folk Music” – [Last Visible Dog] (CD)

lombard   11/10/2005   A Library, CD

Raphael Lyon plays a modified organ and operates from Providence, Rhode Island under the moniker of Mudboy. This release is experimental, but with nods to classical composition along the lines of Philip Glass (or even Tangerine Dream). The organ makes it feel more spiritual and mystical. It’s all instrumental and very moody, yet it doesn’t verge on creepy electronics that you’d hear in a haunted house or at a carnival, as his playing has an inherent optimism to it.

-Cynthia Lombard

Bunyan, Vashti – “Lookaftering” – [diCristina] (CD)

lombard   11/10/2005   A Library, CD

What a treat to hear a new release from British folk artist Vashti Bunyan. After the buzz surrounding the reissue of 1969’s “Just Another Diamond Day,” she was sought out by many labels interested in her beautiful voice and folk sensibility that had attracted many new fans. On this 2005 album she sounds just as fresh as in the 1960s. Joanna Newsom also guests on harp on a few tracks. Gorgeous!

-Cynthia Lombard

Kudo, Reiko – “Rice Field Silently Riping… ” – [Majikick Records]

lombard   11/10/2005   A Library, CD

Longtime avant garde Japanese psych scenester Reiko Kudo presents this beautiful solo release, with some help from husband Tori Kudo (Maher Shalal Hash Baz) and others. This is subtle, folky beauty with spare vocals, piano, bass, and some harp, strings, percussion, trumet, clarinet, guitar, and euphonium. The female vocals call to mind a Japanese version of a stripped down retro folk artist ala Vashti Bunyan. Simple lyrics create an understated mood. Quite lovely.

-Cynthia Lombard

William Parker Violin Trio “Scrapbook” [Thirsty Ear]

Thurston Hunger   11/5/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Billy Bang being the violin frontispiece. Parker’s bass
is as buoyant as ever. The lead off track is jaunty and
lets Bang run with his country-fiddle/religion-revival
style. The next piece has a finger-snapping vibe with
a finger-thrumping bass repetition for three minutes at
the beginning then Parker wanders off that well-trodden
path while Bang soars jaggingly to places most people
cannot even imagine. On “Singing Spirits” we hear how
Bang really can pull voices from strings, he gets this
high-pitched laugh/cry that always stuns, also healthy
scraping roughage on this piece as well. “Dust…”
is as happy as a rooster that wakes up early, later
it clucks along with some pizzicato pluck. “Urban”
moves away from the deceptive folksy simplicity to
a rush hour race packed in to 7 minutes. After that
dizziness, we relax with a sweet ballad. Hamid Drake’s
lyrical drumming deserves more praise. Parker’s liner
notes do more justice than I can…