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This initial 1971 offering from Indianapolis’ Funk Inc features wonderful interplay between organ, tenor sax, drums, congas, and guitar. Like so many “first” releases, tracks on this LP come loaded with a fierce, raw energy. “Kool is Back” (A1) is an epic funk journey that you’ll want to play again and again, while “Sister Janie” (B1) offers a more relaxed approach, and “The Thrill is Gone” (B2) has Steve Weakley channeling BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughn. The band put out 4 more releases on Prestige through ’74 before disbanding in 1976.
Asmorod is a French Death Industrial/’Deep Ambient’ project active since 1994. This 1999 disc is the 4th album. Core member Nicolas D. Faure is assisted here by someone named Axel-Christine Demetz. It may be ambient, but don’t try and fall asleep to it.
At best, ‘Derelict’ conveys a listless depression; at worst a sense of wretched, crablike fumbling in the darkness of solitary confinement. Pieces take their time in developing their singular dread through simple, languid rhythmic patterns, indistinct looping voices and majestic minor-key swells of chilly synthesizer. With repetition, pedestrian samples like splashing water (t.4) or a second’s roar of applause (t.1) take on new, sinister significance in the realms of the imagination, conjuring cinematic images of sadism and desolation to rival any horror film. T.3 stands somewhat apart in its incorporation of Power Electronics textures. The heaviest beat can be found on T.1.
In addition to the obvious Megaptera, Asmorod draws on or resembles contemporaries such as Inade, Stratvm Terror, Melek-Tha, Propergol, Foundation Hope, Vond, etc. You might also find this album (or others associated with Faure’s influential Erzsebet label) in the collections of leading lights from our younger generation of Industrial musicians (I’m thinking of Theologian and Puce Mary especially). T.2 sort of sounds like Popul Vuh, too, which is fun. All of this is actually staggering material, distressing and entrancing all at once. Not to be missed!
Interpretive: Funky situations, groovy syncopation. With gyrating hips, flailing arms, and stomping feet, greet your robot sex machine overlords.
Descriptive: This P-Funk spin-off is a female-fronted funk freakout for the whole family. “Ridin’ High” (A1) is a synth dance explosion sure to get you moving. “Huff-N-Puff” (B3) is a fun re-telling of the The Three Little Pigs vs. the Big Bad Wolf with spooky sounding keys, and showcases some solid musicianship. “You’re Leaving” (B2) is a vocal-led stomper that doesn’t seem to have a commitment to any key signature, but somehow works–I had to make sure there wasn’t anything wrong with my turntable for this song, but found it quite enjoyable when I just accepted this as fact. With sparse percussion and slinky bass work, “Don’t Ever Stop” (A2) is your sex jam. Warnings: “No Rump to Bump” (A2) is a snoozer, “Booty Snatchers” (B1) starts off with some odd vocals and has lyrics that don’t make a lick of sense.
Brief: It’s like Parliament, but they took the men out. “Par-let”
FCC: All tracks clean.
Controlled Bleeding, over 30 albums and nearly four decades, have explored an unbelievable variety of musical styles – from industrial dance to free jazz to dark ambient – but they started out making absolutely fucking devastating harsh noise. Knees and Bones, the band’s first full-length LP released in 1985 by Psychout Productions, is one of the defining records of the power electronics genre. This 2016 re-release (only 500 copies of the original were pressed) from Artoffact collects the original tracks, as well as extra material on to two tasty “swill-coloured” LPs.
The first LP holds the two sidelong tracks, “Knees” and “Bones,” (A/T1 and B/T2) from the original album. Founding member Paul Lemos is joined by Chris Moriarty and Joe Papa (a “three hundred pound scat singing eccentric”). Lemos is on guitar, bass and electronics, Papa and Moriarty are on percussion, everyone provides vocals. Not that you can really make out any of these individual sounds. As Lemos recalls, he hit record and started “smashing shit up, screaming my fucking lungs out.” Sounds of scrap metal, cement mixers, pneumatic drills add to the pummeling chaos. But we get moments of reprieve: creepy chattering, snippets of an aria, ambient lulls. By far the best interruption is when Paul’s roommate busts in bitching about their test the next day and “YOU DON’T GIVE A FLYING FUCK!!” (13 min into A/T1 and start of C1/T3) The obvious comparisons are to Lemos’ contemporaries (and friends) Whitehouse and Ramleh (W. Bennett and G. Mundy are credited in the notes), but what sets Controlled Bleeding apart is their hyper energy – like they just can’t sit still – that is as magnetic as it is terrifying.
The second LP contains bonus material. “Knees Power Mix” (C1/T3) an early, even louder take on “Knees,” “Dry Lung (excerpt)” (C2/T4) is another deafening work from 1985, “Swallowing Scrap Metal Pt. 5.5″ (D1/T5) was originally released as the last track on the 1991 album Trial from Lemos and Moriarty’s Skin Chamber project. “Horsemeat Yak Trip,” (D2/T6) recorded in 2008, is a taste of the band’s later work as Breastfed Yak; it sounds like Captain Beefheart obscured by a massive wall of distortion and, well, noise.
Keep digging in our library – the outtakes for this record were collected and released in 1990 on an excellent CD called Plegm Bag Splattered, and Lemos compiled the Dry Lungs series, a definitive collection of work of industrial artists from this era.
FCC on A/T1 and C1/T3 (the roommate)
This re-release of material from 1992-1996 is a fascinating and diverse soundscape concerning the 1990s UK electronic beat IDM scene covering even the ambient world of music. Producer and master music mind Mark Van Hoen is also known as Locust and Autocreation as well as a co-founder of Seefeel. The opening track 1967 uses a clever looping concept of a female voice which turns into its own digital language as the slower DrumNBass track progresses. The A side has faster, DrumNBass influenced material. However, when the B side kicks in, the tone moves into more introspective electronic dub and ambient techno. The C side then is dedicated to even more ambient looping material similar to Aphex Twin experiments. Last track on the D side is a long, beautiful and harmonic ambient piece which is perfect for ending a show.
Jacktone was an San Francisco based label that moved to Berlin and Berlin where the pasture for modern electronic music resides. This Exillon EP showcases this contemporary merge of techno elements with mind-bending off-world productions. Especially enjoyable was the off-best breakdowns that didn’t follow the typical formulas designed for DJs. I heard also some James Holden influences on the B side track. If techno has to evolve, is has to pick up elements from other influences and as such Exillon manages this well to make two tracks that are as exiting as future time travel as well as still produces the music of the future which makes techno immune to staleness.
Book Of Dogma is a set of re-releases of early day The Black Dog productions — an influential intelligent electronic music trio that later morphed into Plaid by some of the members. The first three tracks is their first EP called Virtual of which the title track has been present in many DJ mixes; instant rave de-ja-vu when listening to these early 1990s tracks. The other EPs present is The Ago Of Slack with electro samba and other whacked out electronic funk. The passage of time has dulled down some of the material such as the emulation of Detroit techno sounds and Kraftwerk blips. And some material is amazingly fresh like the Weight and Glassolalia that I would not hesitate playing at a modern club today. Some of the tracks also have a feel of early day Drum and Bass experiments that were then finessed by other UK producers. However, this is a good time capsule of an important IDM band who pioneered a lot of styles that were emulated, still today as an homage to the genre-bending tour-the-force which was The Black Dog.
This is a split CD. Irish band Spellbound is categorized as punk rock and psychobilly – vocals on those first 6 tracks, good instrumentals. Brazilian surf band The Mullet Monster Mafia – a band KFJC met during the 2016 Surfer Joe live broadcast. If you like your surf music heavy, you are in luck – very intense surf mayhem!
2006 split album between two of the better Black Metal solo acts to come out of Sweden. Non-metal fans tend to think of Sweden as a big country for Black Metal but really it’s more associated with Death Metal, its larger BM bands often waxing commercial and weak when compared to those of neighboring countries. This is not to say that Sweden hasn’t produced some great stuff in this genre. These two solo projects manage to pull off genuinely passionate hatred while retaining the cold, clean, tidy Ikea sound associated with their scene. Recorded shortly after ‘Nattdal’ of Dimhymn and Kim Carlsson of Hypothermia joined forces to create the infamous Lifelover, this CD showcases the individual approaches of these two iconoclasts. Basically, the Dimhymn side is schizophrenia and the Hypothermia side is severe clinical depression.
Dimhymn contributes two Metal pieces (t.s 1+3) and one ambient synth composition (t.2). The ambient track is OK but feels superfluous. The metal tracks are melodic, mid-paced and grotesque, with chiming guitars, cymbal-heavy drumming and nonsensical interpolations of sampled Classical music. T.1 also has a sample from ‘The Shining’; the movie, not the band it sounds like. It’s Katharsis on oxycodone, good examples of the kind of malicious, riff-based spontaneity and unhinged performance that make this band so special. Nattdal died of a drug overdose in 2011.
Hypothermia’s side does not stray from the formula that won an honoured place in the Depressive-Suicidal subgenre. Distant, lush, echoing riffs, slow and monotonous drumming, lugubrious muttering, gross screams, no bass guitar. The two long tracks (4+5) are not the band’s best moments, but they are good. T.2 is particularly grueling, like Forgotten Woods playing at half speed. Some Post-Punk influences emerge in the guitar style (see the aforementioned Lifelover).
Dimhymn is the winner here (R.I.P.), but both halves of the split must be heard to fully understand the strange creative symbiosis between the two artists.
Guerineau, Sylvain/Kent Carter/Itaru Oki/Makoto Sato – “D’une Rive a L’autre” – [Improvising Beings]
Free jazz sounds from this international quartet, all four members having been based in France since the 1970s and well-known on the jazz/improv scene. What we get here are wide-ranging workouts on tenor sax, trumpet/flugelhorn, bass, and drums. Plenty of variety in this music, with some quiet, ambient-ish sections contrasting with wild sections full of high energy blowing and banging. And of course, everything in between. Trumpeter Itaru Oki also plays a bit of flute. I especially enjoyed bassist Kent Carter, who is solid and also gets some unusual sounds out of his instrument.
M. Geddes Gengras is an experimental artist working within the East LA underground since the mid-2000s (solo and in Robedoor and many other bands, and collaborating with artists like Sun Araw and The Congos) and a master of the modular synthesizer (here nerds). This 2xLP album, six years in the making and released this summer by Intercoastal Artists, left me floored. Where 2014′s Ishi explored open, expansive, ambient landscapes, the sounds on Interior Architecture envelop and surround the listener – or as Gengras puts it, it’s “like sinking into really warm quicksand.” Each of these four sidelong tracks foregrounds a central form, maybe a fountain or a staircase, that continuously moves and develops, while fainter micro-structures hover in the periphery. All of the intricate layers create a sense of depth – the architecture of the album’s title. There are so many brilliant moments and ideas packed into each minute of this record – choose a groove and land in one of the rooms of this infinite holographic fun house.
Art Tatum- piano
Jazz trio record. Tatum and Hampton are in virtuosic form. Sublime. Every tune a winner. Recorded in LA, 1955.
Jarring Electro-Industrial from a Gravestench guilty pleasure. Johan van Roy has been screaming at his arpeggiators since 1986, and this 2006 album, his sixth, followed the arrest of Dennis Rader aka BTK after a long cat and mouse game with police. The Belgian maestro uses this as a jumping-off point for a danceable exploration of serial murder, sexual obsession and paraphilia, also touching perhaps on Germany’s infamous Armin Meiwes case (t.4). Rader himself can be heard speaking on t.8, and a female news anchor enunciates the murderer’s self-chosen pseudonym on bluesy t.1. This is either on the tacky side of Electronic Body Music or the more tasteful side of ‘Aggrotech,’ a microgenre KFJC has largely avoided, and with good reason. In my view, Suicide Commando brings a passion and dedication to his Industrial Techno sounds that warrants at least one add, especially since we already have so much Alec Empire. Our regular electronic DJs may choke on these Hard Trance hooks and the incessant buzzing of dated synthesis, but frequent wearers of black or listeners of Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb will feel strangely drawn to its contradictions. Truthfully, this is not much different from some of the material on Prurient’s divisive ‘Bermuda Drain’ album; merely the context is different. Pop in the CD for relentless hard electronic beats, sleazy growled vocals, and no frills. T.6 is a Tommi Stumpff cover. T.s 5+11 are perhaps more experimental than others. A few tracks are actually pretty bad, so good luck with that. It’s still better than the new Youth Code though.
FCC ON TRACK 10.
This 2016 cassette is the second release (check out the first here) from Gothenburg, Sweden duo Amalthea (Jonas Lindgren of Aether and Michael Idehall). Cloister Recordings describes this tape as a mix of “minimalistic industrial” and “noise pop,” which seems like an impossible combination until you dive into these four hypnotic tracks. On the one hand, there are the sounds of pure dread: in T1, a leaden thud falls on each beat, making the seconds drag by achingly; T2 is a long, lingering drone; T4 heaves with agonized wailing and dissonant, distorted tones. But on the other hand, there’s flashes of beauty that keep the whole thing from being a total downer (no offense, you know I get down with a total downer now and then) – take T1′s repeating melodic bass line, the dappled tones in T2, the brilliant stabs and rhythms of T3, the rich, strange harmonies that murmur through T4. The contrasts come together to create an experience of gorgeous, satisfying pain.
Do Tell is a cornet/tuba/percussion trio from New Mexico. This group of 6 Julius Hemphill compositions sounds rather good with this odd combination of instruments. The tunes are upbeat, happy, and bouncy with some nods to Hemphill’s avant-garde side. Who knew tuba in the right hands could be so graceful and compatible with a cornet?
Very interesting collection of songs from this duo that truly represent the American West. Some nods to rock, country western, and even cabaret. Excellent guitar, piano, and percussion work with delightful touches of lap steel, marimba, you name it. These fine instrumental tracks will have a place in many KFJC programs.
It is subjective to paint a description of ambient music but very tempting, indeed. Based on an initial quick glance on the title names I got a hunch in my sub-consciousness that then blossomed during listening to these seven track — basically you are on a sailing boat on a quiet ocean; watching the night turn into morning just before the sun goes up. This 2016 release by Robert Rich is a continuation of his celestial and down to earth majestic ambience with natural instruments baked into the aural soup which just makes sense. Everything has its place, it’s like listening to a composer that is painting just the right parts in his mental ear to produce something serene as well as intriguing. It is a challenge to lift oneself out from the tidal pools of new age music — this was indeed a rocket blast, a quiet one. Highly recommended.
Attention MISPRINT: side a is the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto Number 2 in E Minor Opus 64. IMO it is the better side.
Canadian Alan Bloor has been recording Harsh Noise as Knurl since 1994. This tape on LA’s Oxen is from this year. First I was bored, then I was impressed, then I read that it was all made with “iron caging and light gauge stainless steel” and “no overdubs or loopers,” and was very impressed. How the hell does he get such a variety of tone out of a bunch of scrap metal? There’s clearly some kind of processing but I can’t tell if digital or analog effects are being applied. Contact mic? Tape delay? Beats me.There’s a lot of this Freddy Krueger boiler room clang bang boom screech material out there (Skin Graft, Macronympha, Taint and Striations are just a few who dabble in this), but here that conceit is taken further than I’ve usually heard. I really did assume he was working with oscillators. This is quite good. It’s pretty dissonant but it doesn’t seem entriely as dark as some other tapes from this label. It’s hard to explain. Three tracks on the A side, two on B, but with a continuous feel.
Collective formed in El Cerrito 2005. Bowed cymbal, nylon string guitar, whispers, arpeggios, Ches Smith drum solo, hammered dulcimer, chanting cello magic.
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