Music Reviews

Novak, Yann – “Future Is Forward Escape Into The Past, The” – [Touch]

Louie Caliente   7/15/2018   A Library, CD

Rich but minimal low-frequency drone. Heaving tides of blissed-out noise and field recordings of trickling water, smoldering fire, and birds. Deep sonic wavelengths written as a quadriptych study of our relationship with the passage of time. Turn it WAY WAY up and feel time’s heavy presence, both pinning you in place and slowly, glacially, pushing the entire universe forward.

Surfer Joe – “Swell of Dwell” – [Dionysus Records]

Cousin Mary   7/14/2018   A Library, CD

Surfer Joe – aka Lorenzo Valdambrini – is known as the International Ambassador of Surf Music and puts on the Surfer Joe Summer Music Festival every year in Livorno, Italy.  This album shows his talent and hard work as a musician and a composer.  Perky, fun melodies give a nod to his Italian nationality and to his recent tours of Japan.  All original compositions.  As Lorenzo says, “stay stoked”.

Duncan, George – “Mondegreen” – [Kinda Is Records]

Phil Phactor   7/11/2018   A Library, CD

Lo-fi bedroom shambles from the mysterious George Duncan and an array of fellow travelers. Lots of jingle-jangle guitar along with banjo and tambourine and a sort of studied sloppiness that brings to mind nineties slacker rock or maybe Sunburned Hand of the Man at their most subdued. Duncan’s voice is a bit of an acquired taste: nasal, often trembling, sometimes reaching for an intensity it can’t quite pull off. (So, par for the course.) The mood is mostly hushed and confessional, with some goth moments as well as the occasional acid flashback. Tracks 3, 10, and 14 feature some quite beautiful string playing. FCC on 2.

Romus, Rent-Life’s Blood Ensemble – “Rogue Star” – [Edgetone Records]

Max Level   7/10/2018   CD, Jazz

No matter which of his many musical endeavors Rent Romus is presenting, it’s always solid. His music invokes solid musical traditions—raging bebop, free jazz, tight ensemble compositions with tasteful solos, and various ethnocultural musics to name but a few, yet he’s always looking to blaze new trails into the future of jazz. His Life’s Blood Ensemble is a perfect vehicle for his vision. Sprawling, multi-faceted jazz sounds here, brought to life by saxophones, flute, e-trumpet, vibraphone, drums, and two double basses. The sounds are from distant galaxies and at the same time are clearly of this earth. Listen and stretch your jazz mind. Track 8 is traditional Finnish music.

Invenciones [coll] – [Munster Records]

lexi glass   7/9/2018   CD, International

Two CD compilation of experimental sounds from Latin America from 1976-1988, selected by Luis Alvarado of the Lima-based label Buh Records. The artists here incorporate the new sounds of punk, electronic, and free improvisation with traditional music of their home countries, all against the backdrop of political upheaval and cultural repression throughout the region. Dark electronic sounds (A1, A6, B2), avant-garde collages (A2, A7, B3, B4, B6), free jazz (A5, B1), and even some Mexican proto-Industrial from ’77 (B5). Highlights for me were Miguel Flores’ fantastic guitar piece “Pachacuti” (A3), where feedback-drenched free improvisation meets traditional Peruvian folk, “Variaciones de Amauta” (A4), from Amauta, a group of Chilean musicians that fled Pinochet for Ecuador, with a beautiful flute dance that twists into something weird and proggy, and the psychotropical tribute to folk singer Victor Jara from the Chilean band Malache (A6). Alvarado provides great detailed liner notes in Spanish and English with more information about each project.

Oku Shareh – “Oku Shareh Turtle Dance Songs of San Juan Pueblo” – [New World Records]

humana   7/8/2018   CD, International

These four songs are rather long and give you time to get caught in the trance of the percussive (drums, bells, shakers, and more) beat that accompanies the deep, clear vocals of the Tewa speaking Native American inhabitants of the Pueblo of San Juan, which is found in New Mexico. It is whimsical and magical to imagine turtles dancing, and these songs incorporate that whimsy and magic.

Kitka / Varimezova, Tzvetanka – “Sanctuary a Cathedral Concert” – [Diaphonica]

humana   7/8/2018   CD, International

What a soothing CD this is! This music was recorded in St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere, CA “with the intention of creating a sonic sanctuary, a place of refuge where the spirit can soar.” The heartening voice of Tzvetanka Varimezova, Bulgarian folkloric soprano and coach of Kitka, resonates throughout these songs. Kitka formed as a grassroots vocal ensemble that sought to share the “resonant strength of Eastern European women’s vocal traditions.” Under Varimezova’s guidance, they do just that.

Scene Club, The [coll] – [Charly Records]

humana   7/8/2018   CD, Soul

This is a great compilation giving you a slice of life from 1963-66 in London at the Ham Yard, where American soul made its way to the UK in a former basement jazz club. The acts on here are classic (including early Ike and Tina Turner and songs such as “Ol’ Man River”). You can’t go wrong anywhere on here. It’s distinctive soul of the time and place, and the liner notes are very informative.

Doubling Riders, The – “Garama” – [Time Released Sound]

humana   7/8/2018   A Library, CD

The Doubling Riders are an Italian group that first released this album in 1991. The music is imbued with the spirit of the Garamantes described in the songs–these were the predecessors of the Tuareg tribes, the ones who carved the roads that became trade routes and then thoroughfares for revolutionary tribes seeking independence. Piano, synth, percussion create an ambiance of another time and place, and guest musicians add their voices and instruments to make this a worthy re-release.

VoidCeremony – “Foul Origins of Humanity” – [Blood Harvest]

Lord Gravestench   7/7/2018   A Library, CD

VoidCeremony (Ramona, CA) play Blackened Death Metal with symptoms of Tech/Prog. Hyperactive and dense riffing goes unexpected places frequently, as if each song is stitched together from several. There is a definite affinity for melody interwoven with the chaos, occasionally evoking a schizophrenic version of (old) Goatwhore, or the elegant esotericism of Australia’s Stargazer.

Two members of KFJC live mic veterans Ascended Dead have been involved– guitarist/vocalist JR and drummer CK (see also: Necrosic), but this is definitely not an Ascended Dead side-project: in point of fact, while JR and CK are still employed as live members, on this 2018 EP, (the band’s third release since 2014) the core duo of composer/vocalist/guitarist/bassist GJ (‘Wandering Mind’) and guitarist IM (‘Nexus Traveller’) worked with multi-tracks and a session drummer. There is some similarity here to newer Yank Tech-Death bands like LA’s Derogatory (what happened to them, anyway?), SF’s ION and NYC’s Artifical Brain, but also VC sound more… evil… than any of these bands (it’s that Black Metal influence). T.3 is a dazzling instrumental.

Trippy, virtuosic and great. What the Hel is going on on that cover, though? It may be related to a vaguely articulated horror/sci-fi “concept.” Maybe the band will tell us about it when they play at KFJC on 7/20/2018?

Odal – “Megagrap Aka Tape For Monopolka” – [Post-Materialization Music]

Naysayer   7/4/2018   A Library, CD

Odal: Peter Zincken has been part of the Dutch noise scene since the 1980’s. His projects include Dr. Bibber, the notorious FCKN BSTRDS, and Odal, this solo project. This release “Megagrap aka Tape For Monopolka” is released through our friend at Post-Materialization via Monopolka, all definitely some fucked up bastards. This brilliant release is one long track, 40:13 of sonic pounding and then a surprise at the end. Imagine being in a wind tunnel or a storm and hearing the pounding sound punching your ears. That’s how this starts, growling, echoey distortion ramped up at hurricane levels. Then, somewhere in the sonic distance you hear a voice, or voices. Is it a radio broadcast? Is it just static with the occasional voice coming in? Would someone please turn the station to the right channel! Then come the screams and yells, male and female, coming from the distance, stuck in the storm or from somewhere worse. They haunt the soundscape and add a full-on disturbing quality to the whole ordeal. This goes on for 30 minutes for an almost trance like experience but then… wait… what is this? At the 30 minute mark the scenario changes. Two boys are playing around with mommy’s or daddy’s tape recorder and are creating quite an irritating, yet oddly hypnotic racket. Boys will be boys and so for 10 minutes they mumble, chant, copy each other, repeating the same phrases over and over starting with “you’re crazy”. If that doesn’t get you the click click click of the stuck tape recorder will. It becomes a different type of trance. Pushing the limits of what’s acceptable.

DJ Hell – “Zukunftsmusik” – [International Deejay Gigolo Records]

Naysayer   7/3/2018   A Library, CD

DJ Hell (Heimut Josef Geier) is a prolific DJ, having been working the turntables since the late 1970’s and putting out dance music on his own notorious International Deejay Gigolo Records label. “Zukunftsmusik” is his first release since 2011 and what a pleasure it is to hear him at it. Don’t expect a continuation of fast paced house and other styles to make you sweat the night away. Though the album translates into “music of the future”, it actually feels more like a meditation on the past, touching base and paying homage to influences and styles DJ Hell enjoyed. There’s a lot of !970’s German electronic references which he has said in interviews were a big influence on him. There are also nods to Berlin era Bowie, Gary Newman, especially “Cars”, Kraftwerk via Autobahn and Wes Craven film soundtracks. And then there’s the sex. Not so much talked about in graphic detail but hinted at, referenced, felt in the beats, displayed in the art cards that come with the CD: the famous (and always confusing) Hanky Code for cruising men, leather culture and the world of Tom of Finland, the ultimate 1970’s/80’s gay leather fetish fantasy. Some of DJ Hell’s earlier mixes, like BBC Essential Mix 2005, sounds like the soundtrack to a gay leather sex club. But “Zukunftsmusik” is a much slower pace, throughout. Lots of vocals, medium paced beats, much feeling very 1980s. “Car, Car, Car” will be a crowd pleaser and should be played with Newman’s “Cars”. Lots of computer generated voices. There’s even an exorcism or sexual fetish, or both (“High Priests of Hell”). This is an interestingly provocative, revealing and honest work coming from a person who is known to make the dance floor move. Enjoy this more contemplative side of DJ Hell.

Music of The 20th Century [coll] – [Naxos]

Hemroid The Leader   7/3/2018   A Library, CD

2 CD chronological review of Major Works from 20th century composers. Debussy Bartok Shostakovich cage stockhausen Schoenberg takemitsu- strange and incomprehensible the gang’s all here. 180-page booklet to put this music in context.

Kink Gong – “Tibetan Buddhism Trip” – [Akuphone]

Naysayer   7/2/2018   A Library, CD

Kink Gong, aka Laurent Jeanneau, has for years been recording ethnic minority groups primarily from Southeast Asia. With over 160 recordings, Laurent knows the lay of the sonic landscape. With “Tibetan Buddhism Trip”, two 20 minute tracks taken from his field recordings from Tibet and Yunan (China), Laurent creates a mesmerizing journey of trance and hallucinatory sound. By editing selections of field recording together and filtering in subtle yet noticeable electronic fiddlings, Jeanneau creates a new music, a new sound, a new interpretation of Tibetan Buddhist rites sounds. Each piece starts out somewhat quietly with vocal chanting, psalm reading and prayer being layered on top of each other. Then come drums, cymbals, bells, clapping, electronic buzz and fuzz, slight distortions, crowds, chanting, all layered over each other, faded in and faded out. The progression of sound increases to this kinetic frenzy then slowly pulls back. Hypnotic, lovely quality. A true head trip without digesting the ‘shroom.