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Van Wissem, Josef & Jarmusch, Jim – “Concerning The Entrance Into Eternity” – [Important Records]

Josef Van Wissem is a Dutch minimalist composer and lute player who won the Cannes Soundtrack Award for the score to “Only Lovers Left Alive”, the second film collaboration with film maker Jim Jarmusch. “Concerning….” is his first collaboration with Jarmusch, who also plays guitar on the five track album. Five quiet, mostly somber extended pieces of truly minimalist lute playing. Simple repeated plucking of several strings, with repeated chords against a backdrop of Jarmusch’s guitar feedback and wall of drone. Lushly contemplative, moody and dark. Track five is a minimalist lute solo with the title spoken as lyric at the end of the song. Gorgeous alone or perfect for mixing: I hear wind, the sound of children, waves, someone crying, laughter in the distance, power tools. It all works.

  • Reviewed by Naysayer on March 12, 2017 at 8:18 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Theoreme – “L’appel Du Midi a Midi Pile” – [Bruit Direct Disques]

    A one woman band possibly named after Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film about the opening up of self-understanding through sexual encounter, sung in French, using post-post punk instrumentation and monotone speak singing? Sign me up. Track 1, “Let’s Start”, begins with a sound clip from Fela Kuti inviting someone, us, in to do what we came for. Sexual and more, almost revolutionary. And then the fun starts. Maisa D., who is Theoreme, sets up 9 tracks that are just discordant enough to be disturbing but beat driven enough to not necessarily make you dance, but make you stand sullenly in the dark club bouncing your head. Each piece is buzzy, as if the volume is up too high, or the cheap speakers can’t handle the bass. Very nice, like rusted wires scraped on your skin. It’s wonderful to hear something new, that references the past but sounds 21st century.

  • Reviewed by Naysayer on March 11, 2017 at 11:48 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Concern – “Caesarean” – [Arbor]

    concern

    Concern is Gordon Ashworth of Portland OR, and “Caesarean” is the second full-length release under this name.

    Three drone tracks composed with beautiful yet simple instrumentation recorded to tape (cassette and 1/4″), processed and layered. The tape artifacts (crackles, warbles, rumbles) are elevated and emphasized, forming an integral part of the rich organic sound.

    Faded fidelity, warm and weathered, like a long-lost and long-loved cassette churning peacefully in the surf, slowly finding its way ashore.

    A1 builds upon a broken piano loop, incorporating clarinet splices before giving way to a brilliant drone emanating from a shruti box (similar to a harmonium) with a glistening banjo gleam.

    A2 holds more radiant bellowing drones from the shrunti box, sharper and more focused than before. The banjos have lost their sparkle, and are now pensive and melancholy. Less of a buildup, and more of a slow cathartic release.

    B evokes a synthetic cityscape. Birds and bells, distant factories and passing cars. A mix of soothing piano and sinister hums. Building and dissolving multiple times, as if experiencing the world by train, passing through a series of foreign yet familiar towns, separated by long, dark tunnels.

  • Reviewed by Louie Caliente on March 7, 2017 at 8:04 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A 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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  • Becker, Rashad – “Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. II” – [Pan]

    R-9444090-1480697956-1624.jpeg

    Rashad Becker is best known as a master of mastering engineering at Berlin’s Dubplates & Mastering. Over his 15+ year career at D&M, Becker has mastered over 1600 albums for an impressive list of experimental artists that includes many KFJC favorites. In 2013, Becker released (and mastered) the first album of his own, “Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. 1,” a collection of compositions for the modular synthesizer (and other electronic instruments and software). This 2016 release is the second volume of this project, and it is extraordinary.

    As on the first volume, the album’s tracks are divided into “themes” (T1-4) and “dances,” (T5-8) each running under five minutes. The tracks have the duration and structure of songs, in contrast to much of the current work coming from artists working with this medium, which usually inspires words like “soundtrack”, or “soundscape,” or something else apart from traditional musical forms. It’s a pleasant surprise to hear these instruments used to create a very focused statement. This is not to say that these works resemble any songs we’ve heard before: they’re composed from strange sounds, arranged in encrypted time signatures. At times, the sounds have character of something familiar, like a bell (T1), gong, or a human voice (T7, T8). But even when the sounds have a electronic, wormy quality, there’s a expressive feel that gives them warmth, like they were produced, maybe not necessarily by a human, but some sort of living, breathing species. As you might expect from an engineer, there is an incredible attention to details of the sound, from the smallest changes in dynamics, to rhythm, to sequencing, that I can only begin to wrap my head around. The more I listen, the more it pulls me in – is this the music of the future?

  • Reviewed by lexi glass on March 5, 2017 at 7:10 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Masaoka, Miya – “Compositions Improvisations” – [Asian Improv Records]

    LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

    Miya Masaoka was a pianist who took up the koto – a 21-string Japanese harp. The principal is jo ha kyu – prelude/breaking away/hurried. It essentially means that all actions or efforts should begin slowly, speed up, and then end swiftly. The great Noh playwright Zeami viewed it as a universal concept applying to the patterns of movement of all things. Like shakuhachi, this is meditative improvisation.

    In 1993 Francis Wong was director of Asian Improv Records. He said at the time, “there has never been an Asian American exclusive form.” Hopefully we will get more from AIR, a scene that probably best correlates to AACM. Masaoka was in the process of obtaining a Master’s degree from Mills College. In her words, it was “an exciting time for the Asian American music scene. It was small, fragile, underground, and we had a mission and our bonds were strong.”

    Track 7 is an Ellington tune. Track 8 features wood flute.

  • Reviewed by Hemroid The Leader on March 1, 2017 at 10:03 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Palermo, Dario – “Difference Engines” – [Amirani Records/Amirani Contemporary]

    Italian composer with two vocalists, percussionist, and a string quartet. Track one is your standard experimental strings. It’s so wild though I have a hard time imagining it being composed. Sounds like spacey screechy tones with operatic vocalizing on track two. Track three is male vocals and a little more dada and out there. Still excellent. Very long tracks let you really settle in for a transcending ride. My kinda jam.
    - Billie Joe Tolliver

  • Reviewed by billiejoe on March 1, 2017 at 5:02 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Cage, John/ Sun Ra – “John Cage Meets Sun Ra” – [Sundazed Records]

    Live performance concert in New York in the 80s. Big long synth freak outs. Cage voice blips and chanting in a non-language. Lots of silence. Untitled keyboard solo 3 and 5 are my favorite because they are nice and chaotic. We have the 12″ in the library but this has more songs. Not as many duets as I’d like but still very enjoyable. Highly recommended on continuous.
    - Billie Joe Tolliver

  • Reviewed by billiejoe on March 1, 2017 at 5:00 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson — “1980″ — [Arista]

    gil_scott_heron-Brian_Jackson

    Forward-looking, synth-heavy, pop-oriented soul, released in 1979. This album has Scott-Heron and frequent collaborator Brian Jackson closing out the decade that began with “Pieces of a Man” (feat. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”), and rounding the corner into the uncertainty of the 1980′s. Lyrics touch upon dark visions of the future (1980), fate, foible, and the musicians’ life (Corners, Late Last Night), the wisdom of nuclear power (Shut ‘em down), and the flow of immigrants over our southern border (Alien). This is driven by superb vocals, thoughtful lyrics, and demonstrates a serious commitment to songcraft on every track.

  • Reviewed by milo on March 1, 2017 at 7:24 am
  • Filed as 12-inch,Soul
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