Music Reviews

Winstin, Robert Ian – “Taliban Dances” – [Erm Media]

Hemroid The Leader   1/11/2017   A Library, CD

Robert Ian Winstin conducts the Kiev Orchestra and plays piano, these are all his compositions.
Taliban Dances (Tracks 1-5) is a violin concerto in the tradition of Bartok, Prokofiev, and Kreisler. Track 3 is a standout, features a slide whistle and percussion.
Three Pieces For Piano finds Winstin alone at the piano.
Normandy and Le Voyage Dans La Lune are very cinematic and percussive.

Listing, Clint – “My Father, My Keeper” – [Autumn Wind Records]

lexi glass   1/9/2017   A Library, CD

Clint Listing is an Arizona-based musician, working on many projects (solo as As All Die and in several drone, dark ambient, and metal bands, including Long Winters’ Stare) and overseeing Absolute Zero Media. This 2008 album, released by Autumn Wind, has the familiar dark ambient sounds – cold synths, foggy echoes, metallic drones – but Listing brings strange and unexpected elements into the mix. Saxophone sounds drift through T1, T2, and T3 like memories of old jazz tunes. Sirens wail in the distance of T1, vocals fade in on T4 and T5, and a white noise blizzard descends in T6. The album ends with “The Snow Ghost” bonus EP (T8-T10), three tracks that sound like the stillness of winter.

Mulligan, Gerry Quartet – “Gerry Mulligan Quartet Featuring Chet Baker” – [Pacific Jazz]

humana   1/8/2017   12-inch, Jazz

Add another great record from Gerry Mulligan to the KFJC library with this music that is as comfort food to me. Featuring recordings from 1952-1953 of “pianoless quartet” members Mulligan on baritone sax, Baker on trumpet, Larry Bunker on drums, Carson Smith on bass, Chico Hamilton on drums, and Bob Whitlock on bass, this is jazz from a time when the genre was undergoing changes described on the album notes. Mulligan arranged all and composed some of these tunes, making them all worth listening and swinging to. You won’t be able to stay still, I promise.

Rugolo, Pete and His Orchestra – “Percussion At Work” – [Mercury Record Production]

humana   1/8/2017   12-inch, Jazz

These recordings come to us from 1958 and are as engaging as the album cover. Percussion fans will appreciate Rugulo’s compositions and the way they are executed by the likes of Andre Previn on piano, Larry Bunker on vibes, xylophone, and timpani, and Shelly Manne on drums. Read the liner notes as you partake of the pleasure, especially of “Funky Drums” and “Percussion at Work.”

Roche – “AXT” – [Jacktone]

Belladonna   1/4/2017   12-inch, A Library

Roche aka Ben Winans, a very seasoned Bay Area based electronic musician/DJ. This is nice distorted hypnotic beat-y bliss. A-side is more retro styled happy bloopy techno while the B-Side trippy distorted melodies. I prefer the B-side. Both have a lot of beats and you can dance to them.

Toiletooth – “Cool Water Cologne” – [Ewe of Now Recordings]

Belladonna   1/4/2017   A Library, CD

aka Jon Simon, Portland based quirkster. Deliciously glitchy, silly melodies with sharp squelches and bloops, with an album title like “Cool Water cologne” (by Davidoff for those who were unaware) and track titles like “I Quit my Troll Job” and “Fekal Speaks”, its clear that he doesn???t take him self too seriously which is always refreshing. Tracks are a bit shorter than I would like but trk 10 is a nice 8 min glitchfest. If you like more abstract yet melodic glitch than this is for you.

DJ Taye – “Move Out” – [Hyperdub]

Kai Sync   1/4/2017   12-inch, A Library


Hyperdub the label is known for pushing brand new genres even further into the unknown, in this case this 2016 release from DJ Taye pushes footwork, grime and nu-Soul into inter-dimensional music scenarios. There’s plenty of beat-deconstruction which is the new fancy production technique used with many contemporary UK producer releases. Or, drum machine patterns are not considered holy, they could be mutated into any direction wished. Otherwise we have here a loop chopping and mangling set of tracks with melancholy melodies used to formulate the release. As such, honors go to the bravery of unexpected translations of music, kind of a bebop interpretation of electronic beat music today.


Chicks On Speed and The No Heads – “Press The Space Bar” – [Chicks on Speed Records]

Kai Sync   1/4/2017   A Library, CD


Chicks on Speed and their cohorts from Spain, No Heads, deliver a mixed sandwich of indie pop, punk, punk-techno, industrial and beats spiced with sexual politics messages of all kinds. It’s both charming and confusing due to each track taking its own life form. The singers seem to be stuck in the high school punk scene which could be considered either a cliche or then a deliberate production technique from the producer Cristian Vogel. Each track delivers an energetic revolution of some kind. There are some reflections pointing at various bands like LE Tigre or Tackhead or a multitude of punk bands that discovered drum machines in their later career. And sometimes it’s just plain weird with no rhyme or reason pushing the boundaries — and that’s where the interest level starts to blink green. It’s definitely a self-contained universe of music. I suspect multiple listings will unravel the mystery. Meanwhile have fun with these tiger noise kittens. Watch out for megaphone FCCs.

Menche, Daniel – “Radiant Blood” – [Drone Records]

Kai Sync   1/4/2017   10-inch, A Library


This is a 2005 release from Drone Records, the label’s goal was a concept to embrace the prospect of infinite possibilities for artists, especially noise artists to embrace various forms of expression. In this case this drone music release has mild noise terror even if the A side has a solid wall with various shredding frequencies intersecting, is slowly increasing in volume with a sudden unexpected short end. The B side is more like taking a trip to the local cemetery where noise artists do an improv on the spot four in the morning. Consider this gothic noise about the unknown.


Tender Buttons – “Forbidden Symmetries” – [Rastascan Records]

Naysayer   1/4/2017   12-inch, A Library

Tender Buttons is the exquisite project from Tania Chen, Tom Djll, and Gino Robair, three masters in the field of experimental electronic and acoustic improvisation. “Forbidden Symmetries”, their first full release, on Rastascan Records, are two full side pieces of electronic exploration. Influenced by Gertrude Stein, Fluxus, Kling Klang studio, among other things, Tender Buttons’ improvisational style is filled with electronic blurbles and bleeps as well as subtle hums, reverberations and echoes. Playing alongside piano, the trio is not afraid to use space and silence as an integral part of their performance. So John Cage is also an inspiration. Each piece is a journey of sound eliciting visual and auditory memory, carrying the listener to a variety of places guided by the interplay of piano and electronic noodling. Like the gorgeous cover of guidelines and map design and directions exploded, the sounds fly around, stop, pause, restart, continue, redirect. A glorious auditory journey.

Gibson, John – “Traces” – [Innova/American Composers]

Naysayer   1/3/2017   A Library, CD

John Gibson is many things: musician, composer, multi-instrumentalist, professor, winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship among many other awards, academic. He is interested in electro acoustic sounds and their interplay. “Traces” is his recording looking at 12 years of his work and ideas. The seven selections are like listening to a kaleidoscope, if that was possible, with shards of sounds flashing past or gently merging into one another. At moments it may pause, affording a look, a listen to grasp what is heard. Then it moves on again, unique but with a connection to what was heard before. The selections use a variety of sounds, some from piano, trumpet, strings, trombone, the electronic manipulation of these sounds and fragments of these sounds or fragments of sounds interplaying with the acoustic instruments, electronic glitches and swooshes. There are samples from nature and from urban settings mixed in and played along with. It is all so very complex, sharp, crystal like. Pristine in its haunting beauty. Superb.

Henritzi, Michel/A Qui Avec Gabriel – “Koyonaku” – [Bam Balam]

lexi glass   1/3/2017   A Library, CD

Koyonaku is a Japanese word that means “dearly,” “above all else,” and the title of this 2016 record, a collaboration between French guitarist Michel Henritzi and Japanese accordionist and vocalist A Qui Avec Gabriel. The word’s meaning flows through these eight forlorn love songs, the soundtrack to a Tokyo night spent searching for someone loved – dearly, above all else – and lost. The album is the duo’s modern take on Japanese enka music, a form that incorporates elements of traditional Japanese music into popular ballads. Each track is a cover of classic song in this genre (with the exception of T7, an A Qui Avec Gabriel original, and perhaps T4?). Henritizi’s playing draws on Japanese folk, blues, and Fahey-style experimentalism (especially T5, a haunting duet). A Qui Avec Gabriel adds accordion melodies and whispered vocals, her voice collapsing into gutted sobs on T3. The album’s final track, the 1947 ballad “Hoshi no Nagare ni” (“Stream of Stars”, T8), features A Qui Avec Gabriel on electric organ. It sounded to me like a brighter ending, until I learned the lyrics were about a nurse returning from war to find her family dead and no choice left but to become a prostitute: I smoke a cigarette, whistle a tune, wander aimlessly into the night… what kind of woman have I become?

Saxophone Choir, The – “Saxophone Shop, The” – [Soul Note]

Hemroid The Leader   1/2/2017   CD, Jazz

Recorded 1985. 8 saxophones (3 alto, 4 tenor, 1 baritone) + piano trio. Ambitious concept, lush arrangements and verbose lead work from Philadelphia tenor player Odean Pope. You have to admire the madness? Sometimes Pope’s solo rises above. Add it to the stack with Rova & WSQ

Bluiett, Hamiet – “Bluiett’s Barbeque Band” – [Mapleshade]

Hemroid The Leader   1/2/2017   CD, Jazz

Recorded ’95/Released ’96. Baritone Sax legend Hamiet Bluiett’s Barbecue Band blends Free sounds, Afrocentric vibes and strong Gospel flavors. Recalls Steve Coleman.
Track 2 features spoken word poetry and G-Funk.
Track 4 is gospel Wind Beneath My Wings.
Track 9 features Bluiett in top form on the baritone over Body and Soul.

Collezione [coll] – [Edizioni Mondo]

Naysayer   1/1/2017   CD, International

Italian music is strange. From giallo soundtracks, to Italdisco, and mondo soundtracks, things are always just a bit off center. “Collezione” from the label Edizioni Mondo is a collection of four artists/groups who are playing a 21st century type or style of electronic experimentalish cocktail lounge music, some with the sounds of animals howling and birds chirping as well as ocean waves gently crashing. Electronic beats guide each piece while background sounds fill out the lounge quality. It’s very chill, but Italian chill. It reminds of this Italian disco I went to in Firenze in the mid 1980’s. The Italdisco beats were pounding, fog machine was on, VERY chic well dressed Italians sat around sipping cocktails until it was time to dance: a very controlled, stylish sweatless dance. So amazing to watch. Like this. Great to listen to. Great for beds or just kicking back. Sweatless kicing back.

Foxes Fox – “Live At The Vortex” – [Emanem Disc]

Naysayer   1/1/2017   CD, Jazz

Excellence sometimes hits you directly in the face, or in this case, in the ears directly to your heart. Jazz improvisation has a big field of players. Many do it but few do it superbly. From the first few notes of this cd of three sets by Foxes Fox, the listener knows this is the real deal. Evan Parker on saxophone, Steve Beresford on piano, John Edwards on double bass and Louis Moholo-Moholo on percussion do not hold back for a moment. There is no leader here. All are on a par with and sounding comfortable with each other. There is rare pause. The instrumentation is TIGHT. The musicianship is superb. All instruments perform together with rare moments of solo work. Each is a supreme example of mastery of that instrument and could be a solo piece in and of itself, but put together is a sound so rich and so full. Beresford pounding out the low and high register at the same time with equal force gave me chills. Parker’s sax floats, punches, jabs around and through, while Edwards works his own logic with bass lines coming form everywhere. Maholo-Moholo’s percussion work does not hold down the work but makes it explode even more. How many ways can you say outstanding?