KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Sondheim – Carter – Damrosch – “Limit” – [Public Eyesore]

Thurston Hunger   4/27/2017   A Library, CD

Recalling my first reverse echo takes me back (forward?) to a Whole
Lotta LedZep, which at the time amps up the anticipation like deja
vu on demand. More to KFJC tastes, Alastair Galbraith used to have
tricks up his sleeve and in his dinghy to float sounds back and forth.
On this release though, Alan Sondheim’s stated goal is to push such
processing to the Limit. So Luke Damrosch the torpedoes and sets
up his chop ‘n’ flop algorithms to fly at unreal speeds in real-time
CPU’s. Often you can feel their little glitch points pop up in the mix.
You can read more theory in the liner notes, to me Sondheim’s way
with strings and things remains the focal point of this trio. He’s
quite the dazzling dervish on say “longsazb” (Check “Longsaz” from
their previous release.) That, like a lot of Sondheim’s playing
looks East, another form of back or is it forward? The following
“movement*” track feel like a Sudanese surprise, and then another
more involuted “movement” after that. Does the processing illuminate
or obfuscate? “Prelude” succeeds with more subtle volume-pdeal like
processing, and as one of the rare vocal tracks featuring Sondheim’s
partner in sound and more : Azure Carter. She pops up on #2 and #7 as
well, singing in a Emo style (I mean Emo Philips the comedian not
the Emo movement.) Hard not to picture her singing with eyes wider than
her mouth. Her very pure voice is a nice contrast to the slither and
scuffle sounds of Sondheim. Her songs are they all about becoming songs?
Overall impressive ideas and a more impressive array of instruments. How
the final track consumes or feeds may vary on you and where you fit in
the soundtime vortex (their “Threnody” also had a cataphoniclysm to end
as well.) Cool Rhode Island brainwaves by way of Brian Day???s Public Eyesore.

-Thurston Hunger

White Screen, The – “White Screen, The” – [Garzen Records]

Rat King   4/26/2017   12-inch, A Library

The White Screen is an Israeli rock trio consisting of Gilbert Broid (vocalist), Gabriel Broid (guitar) and Stav Ben Shahar (drums). They are known for their weird, Dadaist live performances and are depicted on the back of the sleeve. The Broids are cousins.

The White Screen sounds like no-wave, glam rock, and surf rock. A bit cabaret, too- sultry, or maybe stupefied. In their own words: “Their lyrics are very political and criticize the whole system and leadership in Israel. Very not political correct”. Politics, religion, society, and the military all get a jab. Some are humorous, while others are more dour (“black is she, the white bird”).

The A side is the stronger of the two, but a special mention is owed to track 10 (“Pin ve Pot”), which has absurd lyrics and an intriguing drum riff.

Long live the White Screen.

No FCCs.

Los Oxidados – “Death Man” – [Self Release?]

Cousin Mary   4/26/2017   A Library, CD

This 4-piece surf band from Mexico performed at the Surfer Joe Summer Festival on the night preceding KFJC’s live broadcast in 2016. True surf sound, well played, choice of tempos from slow to rapid fire, some unusual harmonies for surf. Track 12 is a very nice vocal in Spanish.

Radio Cliff Hangers [coll] – [Radiola]

billiejoe   4/26/2017   12-inch, A Library

Damsels in distress, dastardly villains, theme songs, Ovaltine ads, racism, spies, organs, weather sound effects, and over acting. What’s going to happen next? Tune in to find out.
– Billie Joe Tolliver

Viper, The – “Art For Pain’s Sake” – [BUFMS]

lexi glass   4/23/2017   A Library, CD

Richard Streeter is associated with Butte County Free Music Society, the collective of Norcal noisefreaks that brought us the Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble, the great Bananafish zine, and other local underground institutions. As The Viper, Streeter brings us his straight-to-boombox recordings saved from his teenage years growing up in suburban Livermore in the late 70s. Noisy tape doodles (T2, T3, T4), a lo-fi drum spazzout with sis on backup vocals (T1, dredged up a memory of one of my old favorite Space Ghost numbers), a truly sweet little instrumental hippy dip folk pop tune with lilting piano and violin (T5), and a band practice outtake with strange, clashing chords and bluesy riffs (T6). Former high school weirdos that burned time until graduation nerding out over music (I’m assuming that’s all of us) might be delighted by this weird little mixtape.

Xenakis Ensemble – “Waakvlam” – [BVHaast]

Hemroid The Leader   4/19/2017   A Library, CD

The Xenakis Ensemble is a Dutch ensemble dedicated to the performance of contemporary classical music. Based in Middelburg, it is known as one of the few ensembles specializing in the works of the composer Iannis Xenakis (YAWN-iss zen-KNOCK-kiss). Many Xenakis titles in A library. 3 long (20mins) and 1 short (3:30).

Opens with a Xenakis composition featuring the signature sound of percussionn and horn blasts alternating with horror string glissandos.
Track 2 William Breuker – harpsichord and chamber orchestra with lots of percussion.
Track 3 David Del Puerto exploratory marimba concerto, a real treat for marimbologists.
Track 4 Xenakis – shorter Xenakis piece, not so terrifying. Enjoyable, maybe.

Those Who Walk Away – “Infected Mass, The” – [Constellation]

lexi glass   4/16/2017   A Library, CD

The Infected Mass is the first release from Matthew Patton’s project Those Who Walk Away. Patton is a composer from Winnipeg, whose previous works include the score for the 1988 dance performance Speaking in Tongues. This new work deals with the grief surrounding the death of Patton’s brother, who was killed in a plane crash. The pieces feature string and choral arrangements performed by players from Winnipeg and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, who are credited as the “ghost strings” and “ghost chorus.” The strings are slowly bowed, creating reflective harmonies (T2, T4, T6), while distant voices echo in a mournful chorus (T1 and T7). Filling in the empty spaces, there is a quiet roar, like an icy wind, made from the sounds of circulating blood. And then, jarringly, we are presented with the black box recordings recovered from two fatal plane crashes (T3 and T5). “The recordings are very disturbing,” Patton says, “as we listen to these cockpit voice recordings, real people are about to die. I don’t know why I am doing something that feels so wrong. But I am.” Maybe it’s also wrong to drop art that is so personal and so harrowing into the middle of a dumb radio show, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Marhaug, Lasse / Sult – “Harpoon” – [Pica Disk]

Louie Caliente   4/16/2017   12-inch, A Library

The source material for these two side-long tracks was first recorded by Sult, an acoustic improv trio known for amplifying the micro-tonal sounds of their instruments. Sult is Havard Skaset on guitar, Jacob Felix Heule on percussion, and Guro Skumsnes Moe on the contrabass. The sounds were then destructed, chopped, blended, and reconstructed by Norwegian sound artist Lasse Marhuag.

Have your Dramamine handy for this one. A disorienting jumble of grinding metallic sounds, like a rusty, salt-soaked steel ship battered by waves, careening rudderless through a maelstrom, helpless against forces of nature infinitely more powerful than it. Dense layers of whirring, wheezing, and sputtering. Pantry shelves collapsing, sending pots, pans, and cans tumbling, crashing against floor and walls. A few fleeting moments of repetitive bass thumps on the end of side A provide the only solid footing in the entire album, and leave you desperate for more.

Longing For The Past [coll] – [Dust-To-Digital]

Naysayer   4/16/2017   CD, International

Dust-To-Digital is a one of a kind label, focusing not only on quality collections but making sure packaging and information is as exquisite as the sounds. “Longing For the Past, The 78 RPM Era in Southeast Asia” continues this tradition. 78 recordings from the early 1900’s through the 1950’s, taken from Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam cover all ranges of music and styles from these countries at these times. Court music, wedding songs, instrumental pieces both solo and groups in all configurations, folk songs, known and unknown performers, village music, leaders chanting and on and on. So many sounds caught on 78’s and still intact to preserve a selection for us to hear on 4 CD’s. Initially this music was recorded merely as a means to sell Victrolas to a new market. You won’t buy it if there is nothing there to hear. European salesmen went out and recorded just about anything that moved. The selection in incredible. The accompanying book is a comprehensive review of how this started, who did it, where they went, the types of music and their history, notes on instrumentation and history of instruments and artists. Each song has three to five paragraphs of thorough explanation. Dive in, learn and enjoy.

Hoosier Hot Shots – “Everybody Stomp” – [Proper Records]

Naysayer   4/15/2017   CD, Jazz

Hoosier Hot Shots ??? ???Everybody Stomp/Hot Lips??? ??? [Proper Records]

The Hoosier Hot Shots were a four piece swing, jazz, corn pone, hillbilly country outfit from Indiana. Steeped in the tradition of vaudeville, the group took parts of the U.S. by storm with their weekly radio broadcasts, their stage presence, their prolific recording career and their continued appearance in Hollywood westerns. This collection, ???Everybody Stomp??? is a 4 CD set of 100 Hoosier Hot Shot delights. The guys were multi-instrumentalists, playing a variety of brass instruments as well as guitar, string bass (various), clarinet and some unique handmade instruments including the Zither and the Wabash Washboard. It consisted of a corrugated sheet metal washboard on a metal stand with various noisemakers attached, including bells and a multi-octave range of squeeze-type bicycle horns???. Also, slide whistles are in most numbers. The Hoosiers selected many standards and familiar songs of the time to cover with a jaunty, silly twist. Vocals include conversation between the musicians, with some of the singers using this high pitched kind of hillbilly accent. And don???t forget the penny whistles. Once beyond the goofiness, though, take a listen to the amazing musicianship between the members. It???s quite impressive. A fun addition, fitting many of the styles of our station???s shows.

I’ve Got The Blues But I’m Too Damn Mean to Cry [coll] – [JSP Records]

Naysayer   4/14/2017   Blues, CD

WOW. 4 CD’s. 103 tracks of protest in early American blues and gospel. Time period: 1910’s to the late 1930’s. We know the sound. No need to restate. So many artists, some well known and others obscure. Solos, choirs, groups, bands. But this is music of protest, some stated blatantly, others sung with humor, many layered with symbols and meaning to hide the target. These are songs, angry songs, desperate songs about abusive and oppressive conditions created and maintained by the white population relentlessly directed toward the black population. Despicable working conditions, police brutality, forced labor, prison horror. Continuous abuse and exploitation of one group of people by another. The variety of reactions to this oppression are as varied as the artists performing the songs. From thoughts of suicide to attacking and killing “Mr. Charlie”, from looking for the fabled promised land to all out revolution. The conditions and situations today of mistreatment and persecution are frighteningly and disgustingly no different then they were 100 years ago. These are essential tracks to play. Utilize this superb collection.

Mezzetin – “Odd Scene” – [Kinda Is Records]

Naysayer   4/14/2017   A Library, CD

Mezzetin still is a mystery. Who is He/They? Where from? Where is the label from? Possibly a one man project. “Odd Scene” might be Mezzetin’s 3rd release. It’s all great outsider rock. One of the more distinctive voices around, still off-keyish and repetitive. Lyrics of love and memories and lost things. Mezzetin is diving into more experiments in sound this time, which makes it all the more interesting. Jangly guitars abound, still off. Infantile drumming, but in a good way. Track 9, “Mingling Haus” is 4 minutes of one note strummed on the guitar with wank drums and no vocals. If this was being done by a female Japanese noise performance artist, we would all be losing our shit. He’s not that. You still should be losing your shit.
PLAY THIS!!!! Pick of the week.

Squarepusher – “Go Plastic” – [Warp Records Ltd]

Naysayer   4/13/2017   A Library, CD

Holy f..in sh#t! Trying to find my head to reattach to my body after listening to this one. I feel like I should go smoke a cig or get electro shocked. Tom Jenkinson, aka Squarepusher, is a major player in IDM/EDM/whatever. I don’t need to tell you. He’s brilliant. And so is this album from 2001. It marked a change for him, a move away from the use of actual instruments and an experiment with digital, all digital. No computers on this album, though. It’s hardware: it’s samplers, sequencers, synthesizers and digital effects processors. All put to their amazing 2001 use. Many pieces are FAST: sounds reverberate back and forth and through so fast you would never be able to catch them. But the few “slow” pieces are equally sonically exciting. Effects come and go and then the drill and bass starts. Yes Yes Yes! Oh hell yes!

Crow Crash Radio – “Live In The Trees” – [Self Released]

Naysayer   4/13/2017   A Library, CD

Crow Crash Radio are a Bay area group that combine extended psychedelic jams with surf influences and drone. With Mark Pino on drums, Andrew Joron on theremin and Brian Strang on guitar, these musicians create a soundscape that is hypnotic and repetitive in a good way. Pino’s constant beats guide the listener while Strang puts down layers of guitar sound, filled out by Joron’s theremin drone and warble. An exceptional take on a unique mixing of styles, going to show there is always a new way to interpret genres.

Callier, Terry – “Live At Mother Blues 1964” – [Premonition Records]

Naysayer   4/13/2017   Blues, CD

An exceptional talent, frighteningly underrepresented in our library, Terry Callier was a prolific musician and singer, performing blues, soul and folk songs. This 1964 recording live at Chicago’s Mother Blues folk club, offers an intimate performance of Callier, singing eight quiet yet moving folk tunes accompanied by his guitar playing and two acoustic bass players. The moment he starts to sing the audience goes quiet, except for the random plate or cup being moved. His voice is rich and powerful with so much emotion. It kind of makes you melt. It’s like loneliness and sex and strength and pain and kindness and sadness all wrapped up into one. Folk singers were true story tellers and Callier is right up there with the best, weaving his tales with assuredness and power. Your knees will buckle.

Lovens, Paul/Hubweber, Paul/Edwards, John – “Papajo” – [Emanem]

Louie Caliente   4/12/2017   CD, Jazz

Modern free jazz pushing the boundaries of structure and technique. Propulsive but not explosive, these three accomplished musicians find a comfortable yet still edgy middle ground between sparse and skronk.

The songs have a tight feeling of cohesion not normally found in this kind of improvised music. It’s as if the works already exist out in the ether, moving along with their own internal shape and inertia, passing through the musicians who give them voice.

Hubweber plays the trombone like an alto sax, with long blasts of notes in between gasps and gurgles. Edwards scratches, bows, and thumps the bass, achieving some bizarre reverberations and harmonics. Lowens provides many percussive layers simultaneously. Playing skittery textures during the more abstract moments, but not afraid to lay down a bursts of driving rhythmic beat when the mood calls for it.