KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Ensemble, Et Al. – “Slow Reveal, The” – [Imaginator Records]

Phil Phactor   11/29/2017   A Library, CD



Don’t mention the Tortoise in the room. Four academically-minded percussionists get together with John McEntire and record a p*st-rock album. Vibraphones, glockenspiels, dense interlocking rhythms, drums that crash in half way through, it’s all here. The first four minutes of??Minbalism (T8) sees the boys putting their chops to good use setting up an entrancing, polyrhythmic, overtone-laden drone. Once the drums come on, it gets a bit corny, but that’s just me (maybe?). Solid mallet vibes, if a little tame. Dive in!

Clawman – “Citizen Gorgeous” – [Imaginator Records]

Max Level   11/28/2017   A Library, CD

Eccentric solo recordings with a ton of overdubs. Not exactly rock, not exactly pop, not exactly anything really. Clawman is one David Rogers-Berry, of whom I know nothing. With the exception of a guest or two on a couple of tracks, he plays everything himself, including guitars, keyboards, percussion, vocals, and various unidentifiable sounds. The musical style changes from song to song and in fact it often changes quite a bit within each individual song too, so it’s not easy to get a handle on what’s going on here. I listened to this CD three times and it sounded different each time–new parts that I hadn’t heard before kept showing up. An interesting although somewhat baffling listen. There is something on here for you so check it out.

Singleton, Alvin – “Sing to The Sun” – [Albany Records]

Hemroid The Leader   11/26/2017   A Library, CD

This is the fourth CD devoted to the works of Alvin Singleton (b. 1940) and our second in the library. These five important chamber works were composed between 1971 and 2003. From 71 to 85 he lived overseas returning to the US as resident composer for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Track 1 is vibes and piano. Track 2 solo flute workout. Track 3 features Children’s Chorus w/male speaker. Track 4 features clarinet quartet. Track 5 is clarinet and piano.

Sharrock, Linda Network, The – “Live At The Bab-ilo 25/VIII/2016” – [Improvising Beings]

lexi glass   11/22/2017   CD, Jazz


Second official release from the Linda Sharrock Network, the ensemble fronted by the renowned jazz vocalist and former wife and collaborator of Sonny, in a return to her art after suffering a debilitating stroke in 2009. The group’s recordings includes the 2014 (but even more resonant today) studio/live work No is No (Don’t Fuck Around with Your Women) and 2016’s They Begin to Speak.

Live, Vol. 1 is a ~50 minute a performance from the Bab-Ilo, a club in Montmartre. Sharrock’s mighty vocals are of course the heart of the work, exploring a unique range that I haven’t heard in free jazz, a strange middle range between the high-end gestures of Mario Rechtern’s sax, Itaru Oki’s trumpet, flugelhorn, and flute, and the deeper sounds from Yoram Rosilio’s bass, Makoto Sato’s rumbling percussion and Lucien Johnson’s tenor sax. In her tortured wails you can hear both the extreme pain and delirious joy of creation. Another standout element in the work is the the accordion of Claude Parle: at the start of the piece, he adds long pulls of the instrument, but later creates rapid skittering tones that resemble a tape-rewinding sound, or sometimes Sun Ra’s synths. A powerful performance that can be viewed here.

Lord Fyre – “Destruction At 2013” – [Auris Apothecary]

Max Level   11/21/2017   12-inch, A Library

Droning, lo-fi, semi-bedroom recordings. Lord Fyre uses all manner of oddness to make their music–listen for hippie drums, various guitars, lap steel, viola, rhythm box, bells, tape echo, found sounds, flute, public address system, califone(!), solar feedback, sonic overload… there is even a Tony Conrad LP in the mix, adding violins.
A2 is an actual song with vocals, chord changes, and lead guitar. A3 and B2 have vocals too, but they seem more random and off the cuff, which fits the droning, stoned-sounding music.
For the most part, this record will satisfy your need for hazy, laid back, psychedelic drone experiences.

Escreet, John – “Unknown, The” – [Sunnyside Records]

Hemroid The Leader   11/21/2017   CD, Jazz

Totally improvised music from talented improvisers, quality live recording. Pianist John Escreet adds Evan Parker to his working trio of bassist John Hebert and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. The quartet has recorded previously in 2014. This Feb 2016 live recording in Holland documents their first time playing completely improvised music. Two long Tunes, from consecutive dates- the first 45 minutes the second 30 minutes and it ends with the audience clapping. Well worth it. Shows a lot of range from sensitive Stillness to overblown Madness. Top-level musicianship. Tyshawn Sorey is a great drummer.

Abate, Maurizio & Uggeri, Matteo – “Beyond Time” – [Time Released Sound]

billiejoe   11/15/2017   A Library, CD

Italian duo collaborating with others. Really pretty strings. Italian spoken word track 5. English stuff track 7. Self-described neo-folk ambiance. Features Russian harp, Japanese guitar, e-bow, mandoloncello (bassier mandolin), ghironda (hurdy-gurdy), peppermill, electronics, and field recordings. Came out last year.
– Billie Joe Tolliver

Davis, Brian Joseph – “Definitive Host, The” – [Blocks Recording Club]

Louie Caliente   11/15/2017   A Library, CD

A collection of recordings from Canadian sound artist and film-maker Brian Joseph Davis. Most of the songs utilize pre-recorded material from other artists, manipulated or recast in interesting ways. The album deals with themes of copyright and censorship.

Rather than being meticulously orchestrated, the works rely heavily on randomness: CD player skips, destruction by fire, and highly-fallible human memory. Unlike many other conceptual works, these are very entertaining to listen to, and cover a wide range of genres including choral, glitch, spoken-word, pseudo-punk, and the overwhelming ambient noise hell-scape that is the final track.

The liner notes on the back provide a pretty acurate description of what’s in the package, but I’ll summarize here:

Eula (T1): The Sony End User License Agreement sung by a choir.

Five Box Sets Played on Fast-Forward, Then Edited Into Songs (T2-T6): This one is self-explanatory. Metal, soul, and other indescernibles.

Ten Banned Albums Burned, Then Played (T7-T15): Yup. Beatles, Sex Pistols, Mahler, Prince, Louie Louie, and more.

Voice Over (T16): A script composed from 5000 film taglines.

Yesterduh (T17-T18): What happens when you pay people on the street $5 to sing “Yesterday”, then mix the results. The second version is a particularly inspired solo.

Minima Moralia (T19): Theodor Adorno’s Minima Moralia as a punk 7″.

Greatest Hit (T20): All the tracks on a greatest hits album, all at once.

Fairuz – “Legendary Fairuz, The: Lebanon” – [EMI Hemisphere]

Hemroid The Leader   11/14/2017   CD, International

Live recordings. Oum Kalthoum and Fairouz are the two most beloved female singers in the Arab world. Fairouz is considered more accessible to Western ears. If you ask the taxi driver in Amman which is greater, he will tell you it is an unfair question that is impossible to answer.

In the words of Amazon reviewer K.S.A.: “I love it; it contains all famous songs for Fairoz. Also, packaging method is representing an expert person. Generally, I’m satisfied 100% from this deal. I suggest increasing your library for Fairoz.
Thank you”

Hatami, Porya & Arovane – “Kaziwa” – [Time Released Sound]

lexi glass   11/13/2017   A Library, CD

Kaziwa (a Kurdish word for dawn/dusk) is a collaboration between Iranian sound artist Porya Hatami and Arovane, the solo project of German electronic musician Uwe Zahn. The 2016 album is the result of a long-distance correspondence between the two musicians. Hatami sent Zahn recordings of piano pieces, and Zahn replied with electronic work focusing on the sounds of the Una Corda, a synth instrument that produces a piano-like tones. Though the fifteen pieces are all minimal, piano-centered, with a late night mood (you could call them nocturnes), there is still much variety here. Some have a bright, curious quality (T2, T6, a reminder that the piano is a stringed instrument, 12), some are meditative ambient works (T1, T8, T9, T10, T14), but I’m particularly drawn to the darker, mysterious passages (T3, T4, T7, T11, T13). Another beautiful release from local label Time Released Sound.

Hearts & Minds – “Hearts and Minds” – [Astral Spirits]

Phil Phactor   11/7/2017   12-inch, Jazz


Man oh man, does free jazz get more fun than this? I don’t think so. Coming out of Chicago and released on Austin-based cassette label Astral Spirits (“new wave of heavy free jazz”), Hearts and Minds is a trio composed of bass clarinetist Jason Stein (fun fact: Amy Schumer’s brother), keyboardist Paul Giallorenzo, and drummer Frank Rosaly. Giallorenzo often sounds like two players in one, playing bass lines with his left hand while doubling the melody with the right. Other times he’s putting down smooth chords, getting noisy (a la the recent Thollem/Mazurek record), or spinning out tender melodies (check the solo on Irresolute). Jason Stein is the star of the show. A master on the bass clarinet, he can do all the free jazz tricks???clicking sounds, dissonant overtones, rapid-fire passages, circular breathing???but he’s also always melodic and always swinging. On Three for One, he lays down some klezmer-esque wailing over a slinky Sun Ra groove and then leads you down into a dark underworld that slowly fractures and expands before your eyes (ears?). Almost overshadowed in all of this is superstar drummer Frank Rosaly, never flashy, but pushing and pulling behind the scenes and always keeping it groovy. Great, great stuff that will appeal to fans of both traditional and free jazz, as well as prog, funk, noise, +++.

Gravitas – “Godspeed & Good Hunting” – [Auris Apothecary]

Max Level   11/7/2017   A Library, CD


Respectable, math-style heavy rock from now-defunct trio out of Bloomington, IN.
Solid playing throughout. Four short tracks (1 to 3 minutes) and two longer tracks (5 to 6 minutes.) I found the latter two to be the best tracks–they move through different passages in tight arrangements and kept my interest. My favorite part is the Sabbath-inspired jam in the middle of #5. #1 is two minutes of solo flanged-out guitar.
The label says this is their only recorded work. It’s too bad there isn’t more material here, but as I said this is respectable the way it is.

Amokian, Igor/ J3M5 / Daze of Futures Passed – “Concerts of The Unknown II” – [Group Theory Recordings]

lexi glass   11/7/2017   A Library, Cassette

Cassette collaboration from LA circuit benders Igor Amokian, J3M5 (James Allen, the founder of the label Group Theory Recordings that released this tape in 2017), and Daze of Futures Passed (Mickey Partlow). Both sides were recorded during a live performance from Dec. 2015 at the Superchief Gallery in DTLA. The trio’s collection of custom-built electronics spawns heavy blackness, rolling thunder, sci-fi squiggling, disfigured piano, pounding rhythms, sonic monsters, all rumbling through a space that sounds like a cavernous empty warehouse, or maybe a haunted Toys-R-Us after closing time. Side A confronts the insanity head-on, while Side B is like listening through a pair of those neon foam earplugs, or from the stockroom during a smoke break. Press play for bizarre bentertainment.

Don Chuito – “El Maestro” – [P.R. Records]

Hemroid The Leader   11/4/2017   CD, International

Originally issued in 1977, a jewel of the national discography! Jibaro are the mountain-dwelling inland people of Puerto Rico. Don Chuito’s voice is wonderful. Nieves Quintero on the Cuatro, the 10-string national instrument of P.R. Enjoy this like the dog on the cover.

Shipp, Matthew Quartet – “Not Bound” – [Fortune Records]

Phil Phactor   11/1/2017   CD, Jazz

Matthew Shipp adds wind player Daniel Carter to his long-time trio composed of Michael Bisio on bass and Whit Dickey on drums. The group works with an easy familiarity, favoring patient exploration over fast-paced fireworks. The opener soul secrets (T1) sets the tone for the album: a moody, modal composition which sees the bandmembers anticipating each others moves and effortlessly passing motifs around. If you associate Shipp with thundering left-hand chords, you’ll find a different side of him here. The track is (T2) opens with two minutes of drums over a walking bass line followed by spare, angular trumpet lines from Carter that recall middle-period Miles Davis. The group generates the most heat on totality (T4), which is also, to my mind, the most satisfying. A solid outing.

Homler, Anna & Moss, David/ Kommissar Hjuler & Mama Baer [coll] – [Psych.KG]

Louie Caliente   11/1/2017   7-inch, A Library

This crystal-clear lathe-cut 7″ is part of the FLUXUS +/- series of recordings put out by Kommissar Hjuler on the Psych.KG record label. One of only 25 that were produced.

The A side features two stunning collaborations from Anna Homler and David Moss. Homler is a visual, performance, and vocal artist known for using imaginary languages to explore meaning and communication. Moss is a composer and percussionist who has also developed a unique vocal improvisational style.

“Steel Drum Song” (A1) features Homler’s characteristic vocals, soothing and strangely exotic, coupled with Moss’s faster and more rhythmic and utterances, almost like frogs or crickets. A steel drum melody serves to bridge the two worlds.

“Conversation” (A2) is just that — a passionate improvised conversation in two unreal and alien languages. The mood starts hectic and argumentative, but changes pace as Moss becomes low and guttural while Homler becomes more dulcet and comforting.

The B side contains the work of Kommissar Hjuler and his wife Mama Baer. Hjuler is German sound and visual artist, film maker, and police officer.

“Coming Undone” (B1) is a lumbering lo-fi free-folk-rock jam. Polyrhythmic bangs and whistles. Lyrics in English with German accents. Mama Baer is solo on “Mikrooganismus” (B2), a 40 second warbling screech and scream, maybe some footsteps?