KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

West Bridge Band, The – “Kibera Esbera (Kenya)” – [Electric Cowbell]

Hemroid The Leader   5/15/2018   12-inch, International

This 4-piece consists of Luhya tribesmen from Kenya on a mixture of homemade and more traditional Kenyan instruments. These instruments live with 2 million others in the Kibera slum outside Nairobi. They live in crushing, impossibly cramped poverty. Their dayjob is entertaining safari tourists, swapping clothes on the break to appear like a new band- this album was recorded by Ian Brennan in a family’s home the size of a car interior.

Paradise Bangkok The Album : Vol. 2 [coll] – [Paradise Bangkok]

Thurston Hunger   5/5/2018   12-inch, International


Served up by ZudRangMa records in Bangkok,
a fantastic store run with keen (and khaen)
love by Maft Sai (connections to next door
Studio Lam where Molam and Luk Thung artists
often perform). Traditional flavors are strong
but varied on this collection of their label’s
recent 45s. Opening with the towering power of
the khaen (a bamboo pipe organ that sends
skyscrapers of sound out of one’s mouth). The
vocal stylings are so great, kicking up a kind
of gymnastic percussion that dances over drums
and other skins. Check out Chanpen Pornaswan
(B2) for a sterling example, or for the male
counterpoint of view, Aa Jaan Jitakorn Molam
Group (B3) for that surging form of singing.
(B1) actually goes all in with onomatopoeia
on “Ding Ding Dong.” That piece feels like
an island sound system with its proud horn
punctuation and killer drummer. So much
style, swervy and hypnotic. Even without
vocals, “Lam Plearn Diew Khaen Diew Phin”
and “A Ba Ni Bi” have dance floor beckoning
beats that slide up to you, A3 a jangley
bouncer, while B4 is a vibraphone groover.
I like to pretend Onuma Singsiri’s (A4)
song is some kind of Thai darkwave, but
the initial Joy Division blotted out by funky
sproingy synths and her “how ow how ow ow”
quick cadences. All solid but do NOT miss
Warin Shinaraj (A2) it transports me every
time, not to Bangkok, straight to Paradise.
Her voice lingers on notes then darts away
the guitar and drum anapestically waiting
on every word, ending with a strange calming
blend of laughter and piano ripples. Wow!
New York vs Noo Yaak! We all win.
-Thurston Hunger

Anderson, Marisa – “Traditional & Public Domain Songs” – [Mississippi Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/5/2018   12-inch, Blues


No stranger to KFJC’s airwaves, Marisa Anderson
unites with Portland powerhouse Mississippi Records
to reissue her 2013 release of an homage not just
to the Traditional Songs of the title, but to the
guitar. It’s all instrumental, and all electric,
and weaves between reference and reverence. She
can pluck gentle and clean as on “Farther Along”
or tiptoe near the third wire that Junior Kimbrough
use to ride with “Pretty Polly.” Songs that are
pulled deep from the heartland, if not the heart
of this country appear : “May The Circle Be Unbroken”
and “Amazing Grace.” But Marisa’s domain extends
beyond natural and sonic borders, “Bella Ciao”
is indeed beautiful, and builds up a nice storm set
of chords. Dig the super reverb recoil on “Johnny
I Hardly Knew Ye.” A lot of the album has a solemn
and introspective vibe, often soothing but not without
a bout of bitterness. That being said, she concludes
with a downright jouncy “When the Roll Is Called Up
Yonder.” Perhaps that is the arc of the blues, to
struggle humbly and with grace, but carry a heavy
weight till we hit our run-out groove and the
needle rises with us to the skies.
-Thurston Hunger

No Balls – “More Is More” – [8mm]

Thurston Hunger   4/19/2018   12-inch, A Library


No Balls is a far cry from any eunuch freak folk, they
deliver heavy electric instrumentals, lightly seared
by noise with a hint of psych (well from a manic
Japanese point of view). Connected to the Brainbombs,
and somehow without lyrics No Balls sounds almost as
filthy as that band, Anders Bryngelsson shares fluids
with da ‘bombs. Was Dan Raberg severed as a member here,
but someone kept his horn though? Actually on “Pacer” it
almost sounds like someone singing into their distorted
guitar pickups, and on “Breaking” maybe a man or a trumpet
is trapped inside the bass drum and blurting out
exhortations…while the air runs out. Sick goose trumpet
also may appear on “Nachspiel” Overall they say plenty
without words. The other “father” band here is Noxagt,
from that good ol Kjetil Brandsdal (he oils the mighty
Drid Machine) burrows thick on bass and JC Lauritzen is
insistent on drums, really more of a battering ram.
Think concussion over percussion. David Gurrick recorded
his guitar parts on this album while completely naked.
And bleeding. Well it sounds that way. Clearly this
is what Trump had in mind when extolling the virtues of
Norway. Bonus points for Anders Hana on the mixer, isn’t
The End here yet? Checking out other artists at
8mmrecords.bandcamp.com would be cook if Luca and co
could hook up KFJC with some more heaviness!
-Thurston Hurtin’

Nerve Beats – “Freedom Fighter Prayer” – [Fine Concepts]

Thurston Hunger   4/19/2018   12-inch, A Library


Short blasts of pineapple-expressed garagey blitzy
rock. Trio from Honolulu, who blew into Oakland to
record this to cassette for the Fine Concepts
label. Feels like they kept the cassette and
motor running, has a feeling like a live set
pumped out moving over the posted speed limit.
Travis Wiggins vocals add to it, shouty style
as if he was standing up in a convertible trying
to keep pace with these short grindy numbers.
He kinda reminds me of Franklin Bruno (Nothing
Painted Blue) but smeared out Oblivians style.
Travis on guitar and vox, Alex Nagata pumps up
boogie-ing bass and Jack Tawil on the sticks.
Really, some of his best moments are just hyper
stick ticking metal rim (like on “Ultra Bosch”)
The songs keep cooking, at times Wiggins
guitar kinda wigs out, nicely so you get a noisy
improv vibe on top of the dive-bar riffage.
See the title track and “Riot Meditation.”
Adding to the bar vibe, a Hendrix homage pops up
in “Chivington Soldier” and G-L-O-R-I-A
gets spelled out on “FOX-661L.” No dinosaur
rock, no bones to pick or break, just a raw
at times murky but driving energy. “Eyes in the
Heat” ups the ante with thrashy guitar building
up to an almost Fall style urgency with
lyrics that march and then a firing line snare
close-out. Things slow down a little around the
bends of “Berlin 64” but them the serrated edges
of “Magna Knife” cut in more car-crash art-rock
hurtles down your earway. “January 13 Incident”
and the anthemic “Goncharova Cats” hit the
finish line strong.

-Thurston Hunger

Usiende Ukalale: Omutibo From Rural Kenya [coll] – [Mississippi Records]

Phil Phactor   4/18/2018   12-inch, International

Omutibo is a style of Kenyan folk music that combines storytelling with intensely rhythmic fingerpicking guitar. It was developed by guitarist George Mukabi in the early 1950s, who took inspiration from the traditional nyatiti lyre and sukuti drum. The style proved to be wildly popular, and Mukabi sold hundreds of thousands of records throughout East and Central Africa. Over 50 years later, Cyrus Moussavi (Raw Music International) traveled to Kenya to visit many of the original musicians and record them in their homes. While George Mukabi himself is not featured here (he passed in 1963 at the age of 33), we do hear music from his son Johnstone. Joyous, life-affirming songs, and an essential document.

Daniel, Drew/ Wiese, John – “Continuous Hole” – [Gilgongo Records]

lexi glass   4/17/2018   12-inch, A Library

I nearly lost it when I heard that two of my favorite musicians had been collaborating on a record for over ten years. So my expectations were probably unreasonably high for this one, and on first listen, I prepared to be blown away. That didn’t happen, but over multiple spins, I arrived at something much more satisfying – an appreciation for the craft of two brilliant electronic artists working at the top of their game.

My first impression was that you can really hear Daniel’s influence – it’s that rhythmic Matmos sound they’ve perfected on albums like A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure and Ultimate Care II. Here, complex collages are arranged from sonic fragments – blasts of noise, snippets of static, deep bass tones – elements you might hear on Wiese’s harsher records. Painstakingly composed, apparently without the use or sequences or samplers, but the result isn’t fussy or difficult. Layers of rhythm easily move with a dancefloor energy (T2, T4), march to a beat (T9, T10), ascend stepwise up the rungs of a ladder (T7). The precision gives way to more fluid tracks (T5, T6, T8, T11), with long drones, loud muck, whistling tones and sweeps of plucked strings (T11). The album builds to a final horrific conclusion, that ends not with a bang but with a – surprise! – chomp. Mastered by our friend Thomas Dimuzio. Excellent.

Tech N9ne – “Slacker” – [Strange Music]

kato   3/26/2018   12-inch, Hip Hop

 

 

 

 

Nice lil’ single from Tech N9ne bringing us that Midwest rap with the hard boom bap. Lyrics aren’t as fast-paced as some of the raps that have given his style recognition but it will definitely still get you movin’. This single has the radio version, the album version, the instrumental, and the acapella version. Radio version and instrumental run about 3:52 and album and acapella versions run about 4:04, it’s unfortunate that the album version skips at the end and worse still that the instrumental skips right at the beginning, also the album version contains FCC’s. Just put this here plate on yer record spinner and enjoy.

Twinkle Brothers – “Twinkle In Poland” – [Twinkle Records]

Hemroid The Leader   3/13/2018   12-inch, Reggae

Radio Poland journalist Wlodzimierz Kleszcz brought Norman Grant to Poland in 1986, paying him with studio time. Kleszcz saw a connection between the roots music of Jamaica and Poland – a link between ex-slaves and the Polish Gorale ex-serfs. The music feels earnest but forced at times, like the material is not fully developed. Psalms 23 is Grant chanting the bible. Whatever its deficits, it is endearing. Just before the wall fell, searching for a connection.

Painted Caves – “Surveillance” – [Shelter Press]

lexi glass   3/6/2018   12-inch, A Library

Painted Caves is the electronic side project of Barn Owl Evan Caminiti. On this 2013 release, Caminiti uses modular synths with tape loops and digital effects to create a sense of pervasive paranoia. Tense beats and minor-key synth drones, as cold and soulless as the AI algorithms methodically sifting through your email, location data, and camera roll. Ranges from intrusion into quiet, intimate spaces (T1, T2, T5, T6, T7) to massive data collection on a national scale (T3, T4). But just when no escape seems possible, there are brief moments of strange beauty, hints of warmth. Limited release from the fine French label Shelter Press.

Grails – “Chalice Hymnal” – [Temporary Residence Limited]

Naysayer   3/5/2018   12-inch, A Library

Last summer we were visiting our friends in Cloverdale. It was god awful hot so they decided to take us down the road to the Russian River for a swim to cool down. After trekking across the riverbed rocks, we got to a place in the river that was shallow enough for us to set our beach chairs and just sit with the current gliding over us. It was not really my idea of pretty: it was hot, brownish, dry with plants a sort of dusty green. But when I finally settled into it I began to appreciate the calm, serenity and turmoil of this oddly idyllic spot with the cool water pushing around us. I often remember this place even though it may not have been my idea of a place to go.
I feel this way about “Chalice Hymnal”, Grails first album in six years. It’s not what I might have expected but when I let it settle in, it works. It is a lush four sided continued exploration into the sounds they have developed over their career. Cinematic is definitely the phrase for these pieces. Each piece of psych rock post-rock is like a soundtrack to a series of short films, not clearly related but surprisingly united. Guitars and electronics play heavy with bass and drums, plus mellotron weaving dreamy explorations on some tracks while others perform a more beat driven journey. Most of the shorter tracks left me wanting for more. The longer tracks filled my need for meditative wandering. Like the river experience, not necessarily where I wanted to go but definitely something I keep remembering after several listens.

James, Timothy – “Wind” – [Tiger Shrimp]

Max Level   2/28/2018   12-inch, A Library

Lovely little guitar pieces by Mr. James. Some are on the floaty side, some are more insistent. Overdubs of multiple guitars, bass, and occasionally a simple drum machine beat. Lengthwise, most tracks are in the 2 to 3 minute range, with the longest topping out at just under 4 minutes. DJs who don’t enjoy playing short tracks on the air–I tend to be one of them–can take advantage of the fact that there is not much space between the tracks, which means one could create a “mini-suite” by playing 2 or 3 or 4 tracks in a row. All instrumental.

Vono – “Dinner Fur 2” – [Bureau-B]

Naysayer   2/27/2018   12-inch, A Library

How Dieter can you get? Not much more Dieter than this!!!!! Early 1980’s Berlin (of course) dark wave brothers duo, Norbert and Volker Schultze. Minimalist synth with bass. Minimal lyrics shout spoken rather than sung. Electro pop dance angular German wave akin to DAF but more stripped down and challenging. What they did was radical at the time, with it’s angular beats and sometimes shouted simple lyrics about such things as lottery numbers. They became very popular in Germany with the club kids with the release of their first album but then decided to add drums and guitar and … well… that just didn’t cut the mustard. Put on your black parachute pants, stand next to some venetian blinds, turn the tv on static and angular dance to your hearts content.

Bardo Pond Featuring Acid Mothers Temple, Guru Guru – “Acid Guru Pond” – [Fire Records]

Naysayer   2/27/2018   12-inch, A Library

Collaboration projects can be iffy. This one works on many levels, all satisfying, intriguing and inventive. Acid Mothers Temple (ACT) and Guru Guru have worked together in band variations to form new interpretations of their individual projects. Bardo Pond chose to work with the two to make a new Bardo Pond project, Acid Guru Pond. Two LP’s, four sides, five tracks, luscious color. These pieces really do sound like a mix of the three groups. You can hear their styles push through but then get enveloped in the soup of the jams. Long jams. Some psychedelic, some drone, some letting loose with guitar, drums, bass in an almost free jazz interpretation. A crowd pleaser for sure and for those in the know. Enjoy all the colors.

Pulse Emitter – “Serious Meditative Music 1- 5” – [Immune Recordings]

billiejoe   2/21/2018   12-inch, A Library

Tones from Portland by Daryl Groetsch, an electronic artist who is classically trained. This album is five discs of ceaseless building and patterns and plateaus. These are short tracks that can be played on continuous. The first four discs were made each year between 2007 and 2010. Disc 5 was newly released last year.
— Billie Joe Tolliver

Goodman, Greg/ Gruntfest, John – “In This Land All The Birds Wore Hats & Spurs” – [Beak Doctor, The]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2018   12-inch, A Library

Time travel on two sides, improv pairing split on
side A’s mid 1980’s vs side B’s 2008. Side A launches
with “Pure Mind” feeling like that flavor of raga jazz,
a few laps of alap, the Goodman’s piano circular and
Gruntfest’s sax centered within. The next piece “Great
Bird” almost rolls into Terry Riley territory. Still a
flowing, rolling, bubbling composition.

Flip the disk and 2008 flies in the window, Gruntfest
wings some phrases, and woodpecker sputter on the
reed. Goodman a few bars of simple chords, then dives
into the prepared piano pluckage and plumage. Act I
is a lot of peck and pluck. Moving into Act II some
of the waves of piano from the 80’s turn up and churn
up darker waters. Free jazz takes flight, screech and
scronk sax and eventually some furious bass clef work
by Goodman. Act II closes with zithery work under the
hood. If Act II was a battle, and at times it felt like
it, here Gruntfest and Goodman find common ground, it’s
not the soothing flow found in the flip side of their
youth. Side A had them united in the song itself, here
the song serves to unite their own unique talents,
so you get more sparks and fire, as opposed to the
cool ripples from their earlier work.
-Thurston Hunger

Trashies, The – “Octagon, The” – [Fine Concepts]

Thurston Hunger   2/17/2018   12-inch, A Library

The place where the spastic stuck is where The Trashies
spot-welded their sound on your heart-shaped ears. They
step into the album like Chuck Norris into a rap battle,
in-it-to-win-it. The opening title track gives you
a little taste of the waste floating in the Trashies
stream of conciousness. Rhyming slang to put your mind
in a sling, and not afraid to play the Buttafuoco card.
Is this where hip hop meets gunk rot? Music escapes from
the drum machine circus, with an array of guitar moves
that might bust out twin-lead Thin Lizzy, or might break
off some thick and stumbly Beefheart chunks. Just because
the dork-o-meter is set on 11, doesn’t mean these itty
bittie ditties aren’t big on style. Of course most songs
come at your quick like a UFC round, 2 minutes is a long
one. This sure scratched my old Uzi Rash itch, sure enough
mighty Max Nordile is in the dumpster band. Erin Allen plays
something too, probably lots of somethings. Album
finishes strong, that “I’m Uh Stayn” and “Shovel” tag
team is a killer. Crazy choruses on both, “Shovel” offers
a sing-along for an asylum, while “Stayn” almost sounds
like he’s saying “Namaste” while a voice over like like
the Weatherman corrects the phrasing. “Fresh Hunny”
drips with sweat of a 100 Prince impersonators. Steel
dum-drums (sampled?) on “Rhinoline” are just fine, and
“Dumb 2 B Smart” is a loaded potato for this old spudboy.
5 Thumbs Up, and venom in my eye! -Thurston Hunger

Mungo’s Hi- Fi – “Serious Time” – [Scotch Bonnet]

rasbabo   2/7/2018   12-inch, Reggae

Mungo’s Hi-Fi Serious Times
Electro-Dancehall style reggae. Mungo’s Hi-Fi comes out of Scotland, but sounds like they are straight outta Kingston, JA. Great line-up of vocalists with many styles and dope rhythms from the sound system. DJs on the decks dropping bomb tracks, and MCs on the mics with excellent flows and vocals. Sides A and B are highlighted by female vocalists Warrior Queen, Soom T, and Marina, who help balance things out and add a sweet flava to a scene often dominated by dudes.
Sides C and D the Dudes are back in control and strutting their stuff. Cornell Campbell is a recognizable name on the last track, but all cuts are strong.
Ras Babo