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Melody, arpeggio, ornament, trill, notes jumbled up and piled on top of each other. Madly dense. Two jazz standards locate the work but propose many questions, Well You Needn’t and On Green Dolphin Street. Calarts grad. Recorded by in Brooklyn NY Nov 2015.
This is Hessle Audio co-founder Kevin McAuyley’s (Pangaea) 2016 debut album, an exercise in modern, contemporary UK left-field house/dance music where nothing is sacred and you don’t know how the next track sounds like. We are dealing with unexpected rhythms and off-the-beaten track synth sounds, edgy loops and stream of consciousness productions. Which is brave rather than doing 10 tracks of techno beater material, each one has its own little world, from tech house to Detroit techno, to wobble and more. Of some odd reason each subsequent track gets more interesting where the last one, DNS, is my favorite – it has shadows of early day dubstep but still takes off into a direction I didn’t expect. Nice, nice!
Sophia is Peter Bjärgö and his collaborators from the Swedish neoclassical band Arcana (and others). Formed in 1998, the project has been an outlet for Bjärgö to explore darker themes and more aggressive industrial sounds. On this 2016 release from Cyclic Law, Sophia confronts “the folly of man’s self destructive tendencies” – how our worst selves reach their full expression when we withdraw from others. This isolation is depicted in the album’s cover images – empty rooms in a ruined house, strewn liquor bottles – while the album’s sounds attempt to reach inside these miserable spaces. We hear deadbolts unlocking, rusted hinges swiveling open, and grand choral sounds like light piercing stale darkness. Drums are struck – the rhythms are “martial,” but that word hardly captures the feeling – it is the sound of time advancing deathward. That urgency is echoed in the spoken word lyrics (included in the booklet), a plea to examine our selfish actions. The album’s final three tracks show what awaits us if we refuse: in “Where the Steel Meets the Flesh” (T11), we hear the faint beeps and buzzes of a hospital room, another miserable space, where we will (likely) face our final moments, alone.
2015 sophomore effort from this excellent Death Metal project out of Alabama. Some members also play in War Metal act Abysmal Lord. Immolation is the obvious comparison from where I sit, but what’s cool about this CD is how fresh it manages to sound even while cleaving to the tried-and-true Death Metal formula. The songs are sleek, short and bloodyminded, with one foot in the hook-based tradition of the early-90s Florida scene and the other in the challenging diabolical sounds of their Incantation-worshiping labelmates. From the explosive production down to the gurgling black hole vocals this is pretty perfect latter-day slaughter that holds up to repeated (and repeated) listens. Most importantly, they have the riffs. It’s all about the riffs. They sounded even better when they played live at KFJC on Friday, January 13th, 2017, alongside Ascended Dead. Killer.
CD – Workshop
The collaboration between Dave Moufang (Move D) and Jonah Sharp (Spacetime Continuum) are sparse between, this is their second album released 2009. However, each album is a tasty dish, a mixture of tech house with ambience and dubby sonic elements. Graceful synths work together with tasty beats and fanciful arpeggios. The opening track Dinner With Q sets the tone with acoustic guitar splashes moving along dubby synth bubbles and a deep house feel drum pattern. Many of these compositions were actually done during a short visit to a friend’s analog synth studio in Japan — even so there are no obvious traces of jamming along to make something, rather each peace is a nice standalone and excellent composition. The CD ends with a long homage to electronic dub — Du bist hier! (you are here!)
Natural Swing delivers 20 short instrumental and chill hip hop tracks designed as abstract melody concepts with lots of warble, mud, scratched vinyl noise and sonic wobble with this 2016 release. This is very much underground hip hop with a stream of consciousness approach to samples and compositions that could be composed today with various computer tools to extend samples into more dreamlike expansions. This results lead to experiences of short bursts of introspection into unknown areas that maybe even the originators didn’t expect themselves. Some of the highlight tracks — for me — was LFO, Trane and Goodie, mostly due to the jazz influenced chord sequences. This kind of broken beat art maybe works best in small doses.
Beethoven / Vladimir Horowitz – “Sonata In F Minor, Op. 57 – Sonata No. 7 In D, Op. 10, No. 3″ – [RCA Victor/ BMG]
Horowitz married Toscanini’s daughter. Beethoven piano sonatas. Good for the mood.
Beethoven took Viennese music publisher Anton Diabelli’s cut-n-paste waltz with one unexpected chord change and freaked it every which way, writing 33 variations. Beethoven pushes the limits of piano composition. Steven Bishop at the piano.
Korean composer Unsuk Chin (b. 1961) studied under Gyorgy Ligeti and she takes his influence somewhere very special. This CD features performances by Ensemble Contemperain, founded by Pierre Boulez in 1976. The music is colorful and textural. Tracks 1-7 track together as one work. Many silences, subtleties. Tracks 8, 9, & 10 are more recent, longer compositions. Tension, anxiety, and dread make their presences felt.
Robert Ian Winstin conducts the Kiev Orchestra and plays piano, these are all his compositions.
2016 180-gram 2LP reissue of the 2001 opus from the duo of Protector and Silenius. This band is from Austria and its members were part of that country’s ‘Black Metal Syndicate.’ The BMS’s most famous entity was Abigor, in which band Silenius has also played. There are few degrees of separation from Der Blutharsch and the Hau Ruck! post-Industrial scene as well.
On this record, Summoning perfected their compelling mixture of Neoclassical Industrial and Epic Black Metal, utilizing programmed marches and extensively layered keyboard work alongside distorted guitars and Gollum-like screams. It’s just barely Metal– many tracks have long passages of electro-symphonics without guitar. In addition to Emperor and Arcana, Summoning draw on Martial Industrial (Silenius also participates in Kreuzweg Ost) and Darkwave (both members were in Die Verbannten Kinder Evas). There are shades of Mortiis, Dawn & Dusk Entwined, Sopor Aeternus, Derniere Volonte…
As with all Summoning records the themes come from high fantasy literature, specifically Tolkien. There is extensive dialogue sampling from early adaptations of ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ (remember that this was recorded prior to the release of the Pytah Jickson movies). You can tell from listening to this that all types of complicated and profound emotions are tied up in Tolkien for these two. The compositions are actually so moving and original you’d think they were really veterans of Pelennor Fields. Perhaps older and more universal themes shine through the cracks: those of the eternal struggle between light and darkness. A strange and beautiful classic of the European metal scene. Agh burzum-ishi krimpatul!
Pretty recent Death-Doom Metal from a Death Monk side project (the drummer and guitarist of that group are involved and both do vocals here also). Influences may include Autopsy, Winter, Goatlord and Noothgrush. They cannot quite shed the sludge metal trappings of Death Monk here but there are moments of inspired viciousness that made me surprised to learn this release originated in Santa Cruz.
This group is interested in biological oddities (DIP-ee-gus=two pelvises; see Myrtle Corbin, the Four-Legged Girl From Texas, who was by all accounts refined and charming, going on to conceive five children) unexplained phenomena and bizarre ways to die. There are samples from The X-Files (A3), tarsiers (B2, B3) and a documentary about 1970′s Exploding Whale incident in Oregon (B3). Gritty and eccentric, this debut is an astounding living monstrosity indeed. Recorded directly to cassette. Each 3-song, 15-minute side of the tape tracks together.
Except for the UK’s obvious Lustmord and Germany’s Maeror Tri, it would be hard to find an artist more influential to Dark Ambient’s development than the USA’s Yen Pox.
The duo have been around since 1993 and their output of drone-based synth music has consistently been eerie in its own singular way. This is a 2010 double disc compilation of early works: the ‘Blood Music’ album (t.s 1.1-1.6), one previously unreleased track (t.1.7), the self-titled 1993 debut cassette (t.s 2.1-2.5), 1996′s ‘Hollow Earth’ 7″ (t.s 2.6) and their contribution to 1997′s ‘Release Your Mind’ compilation (2.7). It’s all been remixed by one of the Yen Pox guys and remastered by Thomas Garrison of Control.
The CD1 stuff is seamless flowing torpor with an occasional sharper edge, like a migraine aura both beautiful and painful, or is that the vessel gradually clotting shut? Decay on a small scale.
CD2 is a little harsher and more urgent, slow motion collisions of electronics and found sound, aphasic stroke ghosts dragging chains, the slamming of eternal doors. Decay on a huge scale.
I’ve immersed myself in this material several times and each time I’ve come away feeling like there was so much more left to discover amid its shifting blackness. How can I describe Death to those who haven’t been there? Just listen.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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