Music Reviews

Boom Bap Project, The ?Rock The Spot? [Rhymesayers Entertainment] (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   7/24/2005   12-inch, Hip Hop

The Boom Bap Project are MCs Karim (a.k.a Nightclubberlang), Destro Destructo, and DJ Scene. From Seattle, they are part of the Oldominion crew. This 12″ single was released in anticipation of their latest full length entitled Reprogram.

Each side contains a 1-clean, 2-street, 3-instro, and 4-accapella version of a track.

Side A: In Rock The Spot, BBP want you to know (1) that they are here tonight to rock the spot and (2) that they are adept at their hip hop craft and (3) that they are from the Pacific Northwest. It’s energetic hip hop that pays tribute to its roots. Produced by Jake One.

Side B: Wyle Out brings in ringer Gift of Gab from Blackalicious. The beat lopes along, almost comically, punctuated with a hook from a brass section. Mr. Gab lets fly with a stunning barrage of words that somehow rhyme and fit together. I can’t listen as fast as he can rap, so I have no idea what the text means. Check out the acapella version (B4). Produced by Vitamin D. Impressive.

A2, A4, B2, B4 – language
–Hunter Gatherer

Hezekiah ?Soul Music? [Soulspazm] (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   7/24/2005   12-inch, Hip Hop

This is a 12″ hip-hop single by Hezekiah – not the 8th century B.C. king of Jerusalem who banned idol worship, but rather the 31 year old MC/DJ/producer who grew up in rural Delaware and now lives in south Philly. This single was released 3/15/2005 in anticipation of his debut full-length release titled Hurry Up And Wait.

A1: The first song, Soul Music, is just the thing. It features Eleon singing soulfully, almost mournfully, in a baritone that ‘everybody needs a little soul.’ The singing is contrasted nicely with Hezekiah‘s beats and rapping.

A2: Next up is a remix of the previous song by Phase One, making it much funkier with falsetto singing, references to Soul Power, call and response, and of course grunting.

A3: My Life is way over on the R&B side of the R&B-hip-hop continuum. Also featuring Eleon‘s soulful singing, it has the over all mood of yearning or searching. ‘You got questions/You need answers,? say the lyrics. It gets a little Star Search-y at times for my taste, but it’s definitely worth a spin or two.

B1, B2: Instro versions of A1 and A2. A2 has vocal samples, so don’t use it as a bed. Focus on the beats and enjoy.

B3: Bonus beats! Called Three Crates Of Porn, it grooves and grooves then stops very abruptly. Very nice.

All tracks are clean!
–Hunter Gatherer

Exile w/Slum Village ?Time Has Come? [Sound In Color] (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   7/24/2005   12-inch, Hip Hop

Released on 4/22/05, this is a 12″ hip-hop single by LA’s DJ Exile (1/2 of Emanon) and Detroit’s Slum Village. The 2nd song features Blu.

The first song, Time Has Come, has a nice R&B feel with a bouncy piano, hand claps, and a touch of who’s-that-lady guitar. The rap is a reminiscence of growing up poor (‘drinking cherry Kool-Aid from a mayonnaise jar?) and fatherless.

The second song, Soul Provider, is straight-ahead hip hop with a self-aggrandizement rap by fellow Sound In Color artist Blu. He compares himself to Dolemite and brags about the number of back seats (?) he has seen. I can’t figure out what the crazy sample in the background is – the Three Stooges going whoop whoop whoop? Muskrat Love? It’s a mystery.

Both tracks are clean! The B side is an instrumental version of the A side. Enjoy.
–Hunter Gatherer

[coll] Cold Heat: Heavy Funk Rarities 1968 – 1974, Volume 1 [Now-Again Records] (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   7/24/2005   12-inch, Soul

All hail Egon (nee Eothen Alapatt) for compiling this collection of rare funk music from the late 60’s and early 70’s and putting it out through his offshoot of Stones Throw called Now-Again. This is the official follow up to The Funky 16 Corners collection (which we have in Soul/12″). He also put together the compilation Third Unheard – Connecticut Hip Hop ’79-’83 (which we have in Hip Hop/CD).

Sadly this double LP didn’t come with the 28-page booklet of liner notes promised on the web site. (I’ll steal one from Amoeba the next time I go there, since that’s where I got this copy.) For brief bios of the bands, you’ll have to go to http://www.stonesthrow.com/nowagain/artists.htm

The sound quality is excellent, which sets it apart from most other funk compilations. But more importantly, the tunes are all smokin’ and funky as you might expect. Check out in particular the mellow middle section of Free Your Mind by Amnesty (A2) and the cover of War‘s Slipping Into Darkness by the Dayton Sidewinders (B3), and the alternate extended jam take of Mr. Chicken by The Soul Seven (D1). Most of the tracks were recorded in that hotbed of Funk known as the Midwest (OH, IN, MI, NE, KY) and a few were recorded in AZ and TX. It’s always interesting to hear the different local sounds.

Judging from the rarity of these tracks, maybe we should send Egon to Iraq in search of WMDs.
–Hunter Gatherer

T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo ?The Kings of Benin: Urban Groove 1972-80? [Soundway Records] (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   7/24/2005   12-inch, International

This album is a compilation of songs from the prolific but obscure West African band T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo. They have been going strong for over 40 years putting out over 50 LPs and 100 45s, but this release focuses on the years 1972-1980. Some notes on their name(s): The T.P. stands for tout puissant, or all-powerful in English. You can find them filed under various suffixes as de Cotonou Benin (pronounced be-NIN or be-NEEN), de Cotonou Dahomey (the colonial name for Benin), or just de Cotonou (the capital of Benin).

The 13 tracks on this release cover a wide range of styles, combining Afro-beat with Latin, Soul, Psychedelic, and Funk influences. The rhythm (or rhythms) of most songs is complex but generally comes down on the 1, making the music instantly accessible. Once the band settles into a groove the horns punctuate it, guitars noodle and jam with it, and vocals (in French, I think) shout into it.

It’s music for when the air-conditioning in the Master studio is busted. Perfect for summer!

If you liked the Love’s A Real Thing collection (International/CD) added a few months ago (these guys did the title track), you will certainly like this album. Drop the needle anywhere and funk out.
–Hunter Gatherer

Gessyoku – “Psychedelic Kabuki ” – [God Mountain]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Hoppy Kamiyama scores as Kabookie Monster with
his madcap antics blown-up for orchestra like
some huge colorful inflatable parade doll. It’s
a jump-cut mish-mash, theatrical/prog passages,
occasional blasts of pure chaos, acapellatio,
tormented strings, Nordic oarsmen chants, gongs,
hyperactive marches, even dreaded sappy-sweet
jap-pop. Into the Gok Sound blender it goes,
and we wind up with something that sounds like
one of those peculiar Italian soundtracks, with
definite sonic winks from Hoppy. Lyrics by Osamu
Hashimoto don’t fit in my ear, but damn if I
ain’t curious. A sound larger than Giant Robot.

Job – “Party at Ilan’s ” – [Feast or Famine Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Imagine Donny and Marie singing,
“I’m a little bit improv”
“And I’m a little bit rock and roll”
Besides being a worthy creative exercise, this’ll
put you in the mood for what Job offers. Local
outfit ostensibly of kybd, guitar and drums with
a key additional ingredient of stuff. These three
guys own a lot of stuff and like to plug that
into the fray. On tracks like “Clear” said stuff
provides a great visceral roller-coaster effect.
That & “Humdinga” hint at a squishy sort of funk,
at other times it’s Dark Shadows meets Fantastic
Voyage, augmented by Young’s murky synthscapes–
check the last 3 tracks (around 10/11 listen for
a phrase that sounds like “Aum Mickey” as sung
by a Hindu Minnie?’) Schifferli’s guitar can
ramble rambunctiously like Ribot, but also check
out the sweet sustain that closes “Political
Intrigue.” More please! The big Lebofsky holds
it altogether as much by what he doesn’t play as
what he does. He LISTENS and adjust drums from
plink to pound. Also lots of chitchat here
(live Stork Clubbers?) Overall promising, hinges
on more 3-way sonic intuition and mastering their
“stuff”, not being mastered by it. It’s not just
a Job, it’s a fine sonic adventure.

Fielding, Jamie – “Extinkt ” – [Dr Jim’s Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Graduate student in improvisation from Australia’s
Victorian College of the Arts gets his fill of
order and theory and goes off to find his noise.
Plenty of scintillating synthesizer sinning,
bleeps and worgles. The live tracks sound like a
party in cellblock 5, feedback frenzy and
screaming. Standouts for me were 5’s low-fi
sci-fi suspiciousness, 3’s trombone’s in heat,
track 8 brought to mind a short version of “The
Fly” ( a young girl screams the title “Kill It”,
electro-wings beat and trombones buzz), and 11
which had a nice foggy espionage feel at the
start but then goes on to tip-toe through a
Twilight Zone. Sadly the title of this collection
matches the composer’s current state.

Cage, John – “Variations I V ” – [Legacy International]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Both Cage, and his frequent collaborator David Tudor
are gone now, but their legacy echoes in much of the
music KFJC adds, as well as in the sounds you hear
when walking down the street. Or better yet, in how
you hear them. Cage was adept at composition qua
composition, but was a man who thought as much or
more than he played. His curiousity and penchant for
experimentation were contagious, and would spread
like mushrooms wherever he went. This piece (listen
/play the track 1 1950’s educational-film-style intro
for specifics) was orchestrated by dancers tripping
diodes. Maybe even tripping dancers, who knows…
Two rooms (stereo separated here?) with mics and
record players and tape machines (THE post-modern
musical instrument…with the sampler evolving from
it). An eavesdropper’s delight of juxtaposed sounds
that melt in your mind/not your ears. The highlights
of a magical evening condensed into tracks here for
you. A woman describes her failed marriage while a
diva wails, typewriters and bombs provide percussion
to marches, a doctor talking about fatigue leads
into a horror soundtrack scream, that famous fuse
piece burns through the Nutcracker. It’s like a
vulcan mind-meld with one of the century’s most
significant artist.

Formanek, Michael – “Am I Bothering You? ” – [Screwgun]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   CD, Jazz

A bass player with some pretty “Wide Open Spaces”
in his mind cuts loose with an album that would
be wrong to call “just” acoustic bass. He explores
a variety of sounds, from scrapescapes to plunky
funkettes to slack-string rattlings to see-saw
dizziness to tapping and shuffling all around
the body of the bass behemoth. He even winds
things up in some Muddy Waters. All on his
lonesome, no overdubs or preservatives added.
I bet he had a blast being out of the rhythm
anchor section, in more of the sonic spotlight.
Maybe next he’ll tackle some duo projects
a la Peter Kowald…or at least hopefully he
won’t wait 20 years for the next solo album.
Formidable and Formanek-able.

Ribot, Marc – “Y Los Cubanos Postizos ” – [Atlantic]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

A romping tribute to the late tres guitarist and composer
Arsenio Rodriguez, captained by Ribot with folks like
Anthony Coleman, Brad Jones and the brothers Rodriguez
(no relation I think) aboard. Just a beautiful album,
soulful evocative playing from Ribot, still he has his
unique broken-down style in places, but this is a lot
more fluid…fluid but fiery. Smoky percussion snakes
through, add in some vocals phoned in from some Community
College where Ribot is taking Spanish II. Momentum
and mood mount in each song. There’s a paradoxical
sense of tension and joy here.
More fun than a whole ocean of pigs….El Hombre del Hambre

Kable – “Tardy All the Time ” – [Fleece Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Another golden Fleece record, the label that
provides a Who’s Hou in Houston. Kable is
Kay Bonya…this is her 2nd full lp (she had
a treat on the Succour collection also).
Basement wonderment…accordions, whistling,
bouncy banjo, mantra moments, mandolins on
Doppler reverb trains, Mission Impossible
snare flourishes and MANY layers of guitar
and vocals. Comfortable without being
comforting. Sorta sordid DIY country psyche.
You can hear the cute little stickers on her
four track. A tapestry of tape.

Ondekoza, the – “Ondekoza, the ” – [Jvc Musical Industries]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   CD, International

So I used to think that the world would end in a war between
Pepsi and Coke, but now I think it’s going to be two different
multi-national corpse (sic): Sony versus JVC. The actual warriors
waging battle will be Za Ondekoza versus Kodo. Fuck the Yakuza,
these people run marathons and then beat their souls out on
gargantuan drums…while wearing diapers. The fluid synchronicity of
the drumming is beyond tight, you know that sound of a quarter
wobbling and settling down…well imagine a quarter the size
of Taiwan. Sonic thunderheads have been forming for centuries.
This album also showcases shamanic shamisen’s death rattle and
dervish (#3,#2), rattle-snake shakuhachi poison darts (#5,#1,#2),

I’m ready to enlist in Za Ondekoza Nostra.

Beatnik Filmstars – “Phase 3 ” – [No Life Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

A bristling Bristol band with AM radio drums,
telephone vocals and brash, spastic guitar. Longing
lyrics plus shorting equipment add up for some
lo-esteem-fi. When the knobs accidentally align right,
it sounds like the singer’s voice ain’t half bad.
Snack-shack hooks and a (overly!) strong predilection
for chorus repetition. Well it’s pop, and there’s
something here for every KFJC popster…sugar punk
when Trix is for kids, Zero Gravity carrom, the Hairy
Kari sashay. Starts and ends with little BBC snippets.
I am curious what all you Fall fans think…

Shepp, Archie – “Things Have Got to Change ” – [Impulse C/O Mca]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   12-inch, Jazz

Archie Shepp is the man. Smart, soulful, a stirring player
nd here leader). This album has two that really stoke the
fires, and one more sparse electronic mediation between them.
On the title cut, there’s some pretty early use of noisy
overloaded electronics percolating beneath the chanted
mantra that if you blur your ears almost sounds like “Space
is the Place.” You’ve also got LeRoy Jenkins sawing away on
his violin, James Spaulding’s flute dances through the flames
as well. A true *battery* of percussion drives this pressure
corker to pop. And pop it does as Shepp drops some gas into
the mix on the second half…an elevating melody comes in
towards the end, but Shepp rises again with a solo, and the
album ends in locked groove of Romulus Franceschini and
Donald Cooper going galaxian eternally. As ruling as that is
“Money Blues” is where it’s at. It starts with an almost
whispered chorus, as if folks are politely watching the
clock at work….but it quicky rises in tone and demand.
Thus we get 18 minutes of payday, with Joe Lee Wilson as
union negotiator and vocal labor leader…but it’s the
Shepp family (backup) singers and deep brass bump-bump
Bump-BUMP that give this a Motown-like 1-2. Add in other
solo spirals and an avalanche of drums.
Cash this one in often…

Amber Asylum – “Garden of Love ” – [Self Release]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   10-inch, A Library

Bio-fidelic biofeedback from the living dead? Amber Asylum has
always had the prettiest corpses, whether suspended in amber,
or glimpsed ghostly in mirrors, or shrouded in white water
lillies on a black river. This self-released 10″ starts of
with a cello “death” march while Kris Force’s violin gathers
overhead. Actually the morbidity seems diminished on this
aspect of the Asylum. Instead the feeling of a fantastic
dream state is more in focus. The pace is very deliberate,
as in a dream when you cannot move your feet. It quickens
a bit in sections of the “Autonomy Suite” (which has a nice
gladiator stand-off contained within it…) Eventually vox
do arrive fashionably late on the first and final track of
this three song record. On the latter, “Still Point” while
Force’s counter-vocals still soar, Lorraine Rath’s lead has
a sort of jazzy croon to them. Sort of a strange contrast
for me, but surely KFJC’ers will eat this up like kids eat
up Halloween candy. One cautionary word about that last
track, it really does hit a “still point” about 2/3 of the
way into it. We get a death knell, someone says faintly
“that sounded okay” and then a reprise of dripping piano
and instead of a violin flying above it, it’s Liz Allbee
on trumpet at first. But then the Force is with us again,
some string jags and then breathless shrieking (looped?).
Could Amber Asylum be in the midst of a sea-change, what
waits beyond the pale silence at this ep’s end?

Stevens, Sufjan – “Illinois ” – [Asthmatic Kitty Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Sufjan gets past that Michigan itch again, and spins the big
wheel o’ states only to hark and herald the Illinoise. The
album is a deliberately orchestrated pop album that is built
upon the Encylcopedia Britainnica as much as the Bible. It
offers icons from the Illinois landscapes, both physical and
historical and it’s not afraid to look past the gleaming
“Seers” Tower under the floorbeds of John Wayne Gacy Jr. The
album comes with an assortment of friends in a barnbuilding
sort of cooperation. The roof raised highest by the trumpet
of Craig Montoro and the various background singers. Sufjan’s
own voice is very willowy, he can bring a nice choked-up
edge to it…but being bolstered by those choirs helps a lot.
The string quartet, the banjo, the flute all are essential.
This album has touches of a minimalist musical approach at
times, and is well-served by the handful of short (less than
a minute including a a six-second Whoo-hoo for a choo-choo)
interludes betwixt tricks. But plenty o’ memorable melodies
too, and detailed lyrics (although at times a bit cryptic).
He uses a lot of catalogued rhyming and certainly overt nods
to God, both of which can lead me astray, but I daresay
both are employed gracefully here. And again his effort at
honest innocence, rather than naivete are compelling. And
allowing faith to rise above the heart to the head is a big
plus. That Gacy number is plain powerful. I hope he goes on
to have existential crises in all manner of states.

Nao Wave [coll] – [Man Recordings]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Ear-opening collection to Brazil 1982. You say Nao, we say
no and/or new. They say it with the same synths sliding out
of tune, the guitars with the chinking harmonics and one
trick effect pedals. Vocals that are shouted and sung over
a very limited range with unlimited passion. Repetition
adds to insistence, lyrics even without translation speak to
the imposing urban landscape…accelerated by the rapid
growth of that country. Something about Portugese sounds
sublimely sinister and sensual at the same time. Peculiar
elements fit in between the drum machines, samba slappy
perussion…cuica squeaks. The music is still all about
panic dancing, but there’s a little more strut to it.
Excellent overuse of the delay and repeat on tracks, esp.
Azul 29’s “Ciencias Sensuais.” Great taunting guitar lick
on Fellini’s “Funziona Senza Vapore.” Conga line of futbol
hooliganistas storms the gates of the first cut from Akira
S & As Garotas Que Erraram. Mercenarias ironically show no
mercy, nor sing arias. They disappear too quickly like an
Erase Errata single. Chiquitas kickitas ass. Revel in a
nostalgia you never got to experience the first time…

Rother, Anthony – “Art Is a Technology ” – [Stahl Industries]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   12-inch, A Library

Marching arpeggios, smeared siren horn synths, dark and thick
like the Fog… Rother delivers a commanding audition tape to
take over John Carpenter’s soundtrack work. Percussion is
silent to subtle here, instead it is the repetition of those
simple crawling/cycling notes and occasional forays into
half chord down-tempo drift that propel this beauty and the
beat. Pitch-shifting every once in awhile to change lanes
and pass sections. There’s a wind tunnel that envelopes you
on the second cut on the second side. Rother maximizes his
minimal approach…good glacial gaseous whooshes slide
through the rapturous repetitions. And the tone is consistent
and dark. They’ll be playing this in churches in fifty years
during the moment the true but truly flawed believers reflect
upon their sins, their many sins. -Snake Pliskin

First release on a new label run by Rother to boot!

Navies/A Day in B&W [coll] – [Level Plane]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   10-inch, A Library

Washington DC ticket, w/ promising candidate trios of Navies
and A Day in Black and White. Navies gets the top spot for
me, delivering static electricity generating rock…frenzied
tick marks along the neck of two guitars. Plus their lyrics
have more askew urgency, delivered in a sort of telegraphic
style…bursting dots and dashes. Guitar work is just rock
solid, good buzz and brittle scratch in addtion to voltage
chords. They are frenzifiers and a band to watch!!

On the flip side, ADIBAW can deliver the swing vote, voting
more down the middle of road, with a lyrical platform that
often tackles the inability to communicate. “All Plots” has
that sort of stop/start powered ballad that Speaks Canaries
to me, if you know what I mean…and even if you don’t. The
closer, “Old Songs” seems like a toss-away three-chord
monte…but the deal collapses in flaming house of feedback.

Navies make this a marbled marvel!