Music Reviews

Rafter – “Music For Total Chickens ” – [Asthmatic Kitty Records]

cadilliac margarita   5/31/2007   A Library, CD

This is the second release from Rafter off Asthmatic Kitty Records, the same label that houses Sufjan Stevens. Vocally, Rafter reminds me of Sufjan, because they are both delicate and airy when they sing. This album is a study in contrast and contridiction featuring simple lyrics and at times chaotic and abstract musical arrangments. He has brought in more than 15 musicians playing a variety of instruments such as flute, violin, saxophone, and percussion. He uses a few female voices to layer the vocals, and even has one musician, Atlas Kaufmann, credited with ???cooing??? on track 11. As a photography enthusiast, the album cover art is quite interesting, and I think says a lot about the artist and his album. His vocals are very delicate like an egg, and the music just takes these soft vocals, and smashes them to bits. It is dreamy and nightmarish, calm and furious, encouraging and dream crushing, really. I found it a little abrassive at first, but the music grew on me. It is a strange journey filled with ups and downs, but all worthwhile in the end. You should actually consider yourself the opposite of a total chicken if you flow with the journey led here by Rafter.

-cadillac margarita

Pink Reason – “Cleaning The Mirror ” – [Siltbreeze]

Max Level   5/28/2007   12-inch, A Library

Dark, downcast songs from Kevin DeBroux, aka Pink Reason. This album is full of stark, lo-fi, homestyle recordings, mostly underpinned by his acoustic guitar. He adds some electric guitar fuzz here and there, along with a few keyboards, banjo, sax on one track, and some drums/percussion. “Motherfucker” brings to mind a Rolling Stones outtake (Sister Morphine anyone?) with its acoustic guitar and Jagger-style yowl of a vocal. “Storming Heaven”, though dark and disconsolate, has a certain majesty to it. “Dead End” is a relatively upbeat number with a strange whistling sound in the background, and what seem to be things bumping into the microphone while recording (boom, thump). Somebody’s phone also rings at one point. “Thrush” has an organ playing the somber lead melody. DeBroux dejectedly toots a little sax on “Up The Sleeve”; this track conjures that same sense of majesty I mentioned earlier. A haunting record from start to finish, with many charming, though probably inadvertent, homey touches.

Crows of The World [coll] – [Last Visible Dog Records]

cinder   5/24/2007   A Library, CD

Often thought of as a warning sign of death, the Crow
has a dark and powerful effect on humans. It ranks
highest in the ladder of bird intelligence, and can
hear frequencies lower that the human ear. Field
reports and museum studies from 11 different artists,
focusing on the family corvidae. Although no sounds
of the birds are included (damn!), you can close your
eyes and imagine soaring through the forest trees,
caa-ing your brains out on power lines, eating your
neighbours trash and having one of the most
recognizable and beautiful bird shapes in history.
Lots of found sounds, droning, strummed out guitars,
synths and daydreaming to be found with this release.
Beautiful stuff.

Lusine – “Podgelism ” – [Ghostly International]

loun   5/23/2007   A Library, CD

Jeff McIlwane, or, as the cool kids call him, Lusine, seems to have released more remixes than songs. Most notably, “Flat”, for which we now have two copies of the four remixes, included here and on the “Flat Remixes” vinyl EP, does not appear on any currently available Lusine release. I find that the inclusion of four remixes of one song weakens the CD considerably, giving the inherently repetitiousness nature of beat remixes (and it’s unquestionably all about the beats here) a pall of opression by hammering you with the same beat over and over (the quirky departure of (*GASP*) vocals in the Dear remix are more than offset by the Cepia mix, in which he spends a minute building up, lays down the beat track, and walks away, returning four minutes later to pot down), a beat that, while masterfully crafted like all the beats here, isn’t strong enough relative to the others to merit so much attention.

Of course, since this is a beat remix album, why would you possibly play it end to end? (My excuse: music reviewing!) Slap the disc on the platter, audition tracks until your hips make it skip, back it up and lay it down!

Crash of Thunder [coll] – [Vampi Soul]

ArtCrimes   5/22/2007   CD, Soul

[collection] Crash of Thunder ???Boss Soul, Funk and R&B sides from the vaults of the King, Federal and DeLuxe labels???
Sid Nathan???s King label, based in Cleveland, was James Brown???s original home, but the output from King and its affiliates covered a wide range of artists, including R&B, Doo Wop, Soul and Blues. This collection covers deep soul, funk and dance tracks from fairly obscure vocalists and combos, most of which feature some very hip horn charts. These tracks for the most part are closer to the laid-back Southern soul sound than Motown, and other than Mickey Murray, none are much like James Brown. The instrumental tracks are pretty hot, and some have charmingly out-of-tune guitars, like The Presidents??? ???Which Way??? (an instrumental knock-off of Eddie Floyd???s ???Big Bird???). And some great shoutin??? here.

Tight Meat Duo – “Vanishing Fist ” – [Bo’weavil Recordings]

Max Level   5/19/2007   CD, Jazz

Four long pieces of outrageously raw sax/drums improv from this Glasgow duo. David Keenan wails like his alto is on fire while Alex Neilson pounds and crashes on his kit. The liner notes mention some of history’s great sax/drums jazz duos (Coltrane/Ali, etc), no surprise there, but they also mention Iggy Stooge and later there’s a fuck you. Does that tell you anything? The best I can come up with is these guys obviously love jazz so much they decided they needed to kill it so nobody else can have it. There’s no Interstellar anything on here; this is music dragged on the ground, beat up, torn apart, and hoisted in the town square as a warning. As a bonus, the recording quality isn’t very good, making this CD even more outstanding.

Merzbow/Giffoni, Carlos/O’rourke, Jim – “Electric Dress ” – [No Fun]

cinder   5/18/2007   A Library, CD

recorded live in 2006 in tokyo.
merz going old school using no laptops, the whole
thing is all analog and percussion instruments.
microphones, synths. total brutal electronic mashing
hell, the robotic war has begun. not an insane wall
of noise, lots of different textures and waves
throughout the whole recording (one long 52 min. track!).

LSD March – “Empty Rubious Red ” – [Tequila Sunrise]

cinder   5/18/2007   12-inch, A Library

5th full release from these avant-psych Japanese. It’s
actually more of a solo album by frontman, Shinsuke
Michishita. Joined by drummer Ikuro on a few tracks,
this release is super mellow and semi-dreamy. I don’t
know what he’s saying (it’s in Japanese), but it makes
me feel like he’s singing the soundtrack to a guy
who’s recently lost his job, out of money, his girl
ran away, and his car broke down… not to mention his
dog ate his last cookie. Beautiful guitar playing,

Berio, Luciano – “Complete Sequenzas & Alternate Sequenzas & Solo Works ” – [Mode]

cujo   5/17/2007   A Library, CD

Luciano Berio (1925-2003) wrote 14 tour-de-force solo instrumental works for 14 different instruments between 1958 and 2003. Some of them were reworked into alternate versions for different instruments. They are modern, technical, emotional, theatrical, and canonic. He called them Sequenzas. On this Mode set (DG and Naxos also have sets) they are prefaced by matching couplets of Italian poetry by Berio’s friend Sanguineti. Mode also has the keen insight to include all alternate versions plus complete non-voice solo works. Mode has also seen to it that three of the Sequenzas are performed by those musicians that Berio actually wrote them for (viola – Knox, trombone – Dempster, cello – Rohan).

I cannot speak highly enough of Berio and/or the Sequenzas. Why don’t you try below….

-Cujo, KFJC, May 2007

Silber On Silber [coll] – [Silber Records]

Max Level   5/15/2007   A Library, CD

Songs by Silber artists as interpreted by other artists, some of whom have Silber releases of their own and some who don’t. It’s a generally low-key, laid-back collection, tending toward the melancholic sound -sometimes fragile, sometimes more intense- that has always been this label’s specialty. The two discs take us through many moods, from gorgeously forlorn to fuzzy and rough around the edges to texturally thick and noisy, even throwing in a few subtle electrobeats. There are a ton of others, too. CD1/Track 9 is a messy blast-rocker in the style of someone like Dinosaur Jr, and it’s different from everything else here. Remora (head Silber-man Brian John Mitchell’s project) is heavily represented, with ten covers of Remora songs including one by Mitchell himself under his Vlor moniker. You may know contributors such as Vlor, Marc Gartman, Jessica Bailiff, Plumerai, Rivulets, and Miss Massive Snowflake, but do yourself a favor and check out the artists you may not know, as there is one pleasant surprise after another on this release. If you know and love this label like I do, you’ll probably know what I mean when I say this release is Very Silber and very good.

Mors Ontologica – “Dead And/or Famous ” – [Vss Records]

sailordave   5/14/2007   A Library, CD

This took offguard a bit and it took me a second listen but I must admit this is a fun up beat CD. 14 songs all relativly short in duration ..
the longest is SHOES which is just under 6 minutes, is the best jam although LAZY SUICIDE is a close second. I recommend ME AND A GUN as well. The first cut 45 REVOLUTIONS has some language ( sh!t) so BE CAREFUL to bad cuz it is a jammin song.. LOVESICK rocks..
I can hear this on many shows.. upbeat and fun if you listen you too will become DEAN AND/OR FAMOUS.. which ain’t all bad..

Fjellestad, Hans – “Snails R Sexy ” – [Accretions]

cujo   5/10/2007   A Library, CD

You know that moment when you’re on an airplane taxiing out of an airport and it pauses at the beginning of the runway for just a few seconds before taking off, when all the turning and rolling noises stop and all that’s left is the corporeal, mechanical, strangely periodic humming of the jet engines?

This album is that precise moment blown up and musicified on a magnificently large scale.

Slowly swirling synthesized doppler shifts (some krafty work) combine with the pulsing, throbbing, testes-tingling vibrations. Later on, occassional control tower communication glitches and humanoid sine wave complaints invade your headphones. Even later on, things get spacier, as if your fuselage is now orbiting a synthy Saturn and the glitchy complaints coming from Houston are all the more frantic and abrasive.

Can’t figure out yet how the dreamy toy-piano track “Ex Vivo” fits into this analogy…

-Cujo, KFJC, May 2007

Habarigani – “Two ” – [Hat Hut Records Ltd]

cujo   5/10/2007   CD, Jazz

What’s the news? KFJC has finally acquired Habarigani’s 2nd release (also on HatArt) from 1995 (recorded in 1990). The personnel are the same:

Hans Kennel, trumpet & flugelhorn
Roland Dahinden, trombone (we just added the Mode disc of his string quartets in December 2006; click HERE to read Thurston Hunger’s review)
Thomas Eckert, clarinet & bassclarinet
Hans Hassler, accordion & clarinet & bassclarinet

The concept is the same: only compositions by the band members, with the exception being made for the Monk cover/contrast (Kennel’s pointillistic “So Evidently”), and a tight balance across the disc between the hazy, breathy soundscapes of a pneumatically-driven quartet and cooler jazz bops and riffs. I must warn you, though, as is the nature with brass & woodwind ensembles, if you stop paying attention this can become a drab wind-blown drone that goes in one ear and out the other. Fortunately, if you do pay attention, you Mats remember that the bass clarinet is awesome, and you will gain a deeper respect for how critical a role an accordion can play in a chamber environment. A few notable moments:

*accordion fantasy on Eckert’s “Games”
*dueling bass clarinets on Eckert’s “Sabina and Piselli”
*flugelhorn ballad on Hassler’s “Kein Schnee” (no snow)
*finger-snappin’ trombone solo in Kennel’s “Hoi Hoi”
*avant-klezmer on Kennel’s “Extra Goodies”

-Cujo, KFJC, May 2007

Idle Suite, The – “Up Two Sticks Road ” – [Last Visible Dog Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2007   A Library, CD

Wellington, New Zealand project with connections to Marineville. Mark
Williams is in both, and has also contributed interviews to Perfect Sound
Forever, speaking with some New Zealots who’ve become KFJC-household
names: Roy Montgomery, Robert Scott, Bruce Russell. So Williams matches
his fretwork with his homework, the Idle Suite deliver a jammy brooding
brew of guitar. “Improvised rock” can be kind of touch and go for me,
often having more impact in the moment or in the club than recorded for
posterity. That being said, this CD rises above partially on fury,
the drums are not relegated to airy-fairyville, but instead we really
do get some molten rock. It is still unshapen, as befits the jamming
nature, but there is more definition here than typically found. “krap
kao” is a brief two minute number that while pounding at the bottom
with a fuzzed-up bass from Brett Moodie adds a lot of atmospherics
on top via ringing guitar. Leave you wanting more…which again is a
pratfall in the search and destroy improvised rock realm. If you prefer
the more stoney-droney side of the pony, then saddle up to “There is
No Such Place.” Which spends about 4 minutes in the state of becoming,
hazy sliding guitar and fist flickers of strings as well. “The A&P
Show” is more to my taste, burning like Two Foot Flame, this almost
delivers a pop feel, add vocals over a bridge and serve? “Forcefield”
is the concluding opus, nebulous and nepharious. Tapping into the
Hovercraft aura, starts with spy moves, then fulminates for a while
before fading to death with whistley feedback over click, cluck and
sputter. Too much or not enough? Kinda both in this genre.

-Thurston Hunger

Silber Hearts Mom [coll] – [Silber Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2007   A Library, CD

What unites the gothic country musicians, the noise poppers, the masters
of slambient, the drone crones and all the misfit toys here at KFJC
island? They all got Moms. Biological or not…mentor or tormentor…
Before sonic creation and musical nurture…before notions of room tone
there was womb tone. Stretch some headphones around your pregnanat
head and give your inner child a slice of Silber sound, or download
this for free at http://www.silbermedia.com/comps/mom. Some tracks
verge towards the tweaky talent show (Plumerai and Miss Massive
Snowflake). Others take a less obvious route, Origami Galaktika’s
dark instrumental closer sounds like the Gabriel lyric
“Out of woman come the man
Spend the rest of his life gettin back where he can”
metamorphised into something less Oedipal and more akin to the
movie Alien. Other tracks are less ominous, though often instrumental
and thus less overt in their ova devotion. Label leader, Brian John
Mitchell as Remora oftens a heartfelt hum-und-strum that kinda has
a Refrigerator vibe. Century of Aeroplanes takes a typewriting
lesson over forlorn piano and some other sonic doilies. Snapshot
memory? Blessed Child Opera, surely they must have had the finest
mother’s milk from the nipples of Naples? Plenty of songs not only
for mother to love…

-Thurston Hunger

Sun Ra – “Beyond The Purple Star Zone ” – [Art Yard]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2007   12-inch, Jazz

Art Yard’s gorgeous re-packaging of the original El Saturn release. Sun
definitely has the hyper-space clavinet in effect here. Often piercing
and powerful, this righteously recalls the jagged points of “Crystal
Spears.” Especially on the title cut, but also on B-side, also lots of
pulsing synth, washing in and out. Eerie stacking of notes and a shrill
beauty, on “Romance on a Satellite” uncredited guitar takes on Sun’s
keys…the guitar is a softer twinkle and brings out a beachier,
juke to the keys. Lastly back on “Planetary Search”, photon torpedos
again fill Sun Ra’s finger tips…seems like a different galaxy, a
twirling swirl of sound and some sort of mechanical birds chirping.
“Rocket Number Nine” is launched from more UFO sky-searching keys
but moves into a great vocal melee. Head-bopping, finger-popping
chaos chorale that will hit a bit closer to earth for many, but the
deep space vibrations here, though a bit harsher, hit home for me!
Evidently these transmissions were culled from a week of concerts
in Detroit, 1980. Featuring fine folks like Samarai Celestial, June
Tyson, and Eloe Omoe (now the name of a band on Animal Disguise??).
More mythic meteor momentum imparted from the Sun??

-Thurston Hunger

Fernandes, Marcos / Fjellestad, Hans / Haco / Riis, Jakob – “Haco Hans Jakob Marcos ” – [Accretions]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2007   A Library, CD

You had me at Haco! Whether served After Dinner, or wrapped up in this
electronic burrito, Haco is always delicious. Her avant/improv work is
marked by a welcome playful flair, indeed on this she chimes in with toys
at times. This is a gadget-driven release, with plenty of power strip
plug-in action for laptop, synth and so forth but all that current is
well-grounded by Marcos Fernandes on percussion. His organic snare-work
and very soft cymbals blend nicely with the percussive nature of the
other wired wonders. Check out “Crawl” which has some subdued chords
floating below that percussion; a lot of the e-xploration here is like
digitized rim-shots in a weirding way. On “Speak” Haco strings out
strangulated squeaks along with a sort of polishing percussion, this
track is the most “on the fritz” number. “Glow” has electronic crackle
over ruling rolling toms from Fernandes…Hans Fjellestad zips low-freq
impersonations of a theremin. Or is that Jakob Riis via laptop? I get
the feeling these guys could create a killer broken-beat techo project
if they would latch on to some sections and repeat a bit more, even
so several tracks here could make for an excellent chill phase in a
minimalist beat mix. Or place this against some jazz a la Tony Oxley or
Walter Prati. I dig today’s wave of nano-music!

-Thurston Hunger

Earth – “Hibernaculum ” – [Southern Lord Recordings]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2007   A Library, CD

Dylan Carlson keeps the gravity heavy on this latest Earth release. If you
are hungry for a sort of Bohren and Der Hot Club of Goretown, then this
might be the release for you. Ever since hearing a DJ describe Tarnation
as “Gothic Country” I’ve felt that remains a genre that has not yet been
rightly represented. Earth’s latest orbit continues to move them closer
albeit in an instrumental vein, no Don Walser hell-yodelling on here.
This release recasts three earlier Earth numbers, two of which KFJC has
the originals for and one, “Miami Morning Coming Down,” from an Ash
International collection. Even that title reveals a hidden Johnny Cash
connection perhaps? In addition, the last track “A Plague of Angels”
comes from a Sunn O split. The title refers to the site that a bear
or other animal chooses to hibernate (or to the casing for a plant
to get through the dark of winter). As befits that, and the earth
style…life forces are slowed down here…that pace allows a guitar
wrangled to hang and twang in delay decay. That guitar is nice, but
Steve Moore’s Hammond B-3 on here is what really cinches the noose!
There are some Cecil B. deMille moves here, big cinematic moments that
could serve well as a soundtrack to slow-mo battle scenes…especially
as Carlson adds instruments to expand a riff. And at the core, even before
he went to hay-seed, Carlson’s Earth has been about riff reverence and
repetition. Plenty of that here…

-Thurston Hunger

Tamburitza! [coll] – [Arhoolie Productions]

ArtCrimes   5/9/2007   CD, International

[coll] Tamburitza! Hot String Band Music
From the Balkans to America 1910-1950

The tamburitza is a stringed instrument, similar to a mandolin or bazouki, associated with the Balkans, especially Serbia and Croatia. ???Orchestras??? employing various sizes of these instruments were once all the rage among communities of Serb and Croat immigrants in America who clung to the musical traditions of their homelands. This collection presents close to fifty examples of tamburitza music recorded in the US from 1910 to 1950, with some of the earliest selections recorded without use of electricity, before the introduction of microphones. There are many sprightly instrumental dance tunes, one jazz number from 1950, and vocal numbers covering topics like farming, drunkeness, baking, and romance, although not necessarily in that order.

Ungvary, Tamas – “Ite, Missa Est ” – [Fylkingen Records]

cujo   5/8/2007   12-inch, A Library

Tamas Ungvary is a Hungarian who settled in Stockholm decades ago and has been making the Electronic Music Studio there his home.

Melos No 3 (1982): Rimma Gotskozik of Tashkent is the funerary violinist who travels to Sweden and takes a tour of Ungvary’s murky electronic music studio.?? She drowns in his drones.?? Who will play at the funerary violinist’s funeral?

Interaction No 2 (1979): Torsten Nilsson of Stockholm is the native mad organist who duels with Ungvary’s tape sounds for indistinguishability.?? The first in several of Ungvary etudes blending/expanding the organ.

Traum des Einsamen (1974): Do ring modulators dream of electric sheep??? Here is a picture of the lonely Ungvary working at EMS, which surely must inhabit a dark room 10 stories below the Stockholm Central Station.

Ite, missa est (1982): The most cohesive and even narrative offering on this LP.?? The low rumbling and oscillations are still present, but there are warmer layers offered, sliding around like trombones, or like dedicatee Rudolf Maros (Ungvary’s teacher?) calling from the afterlife.

Deo Gratias!?????? -Cujo, KFJC, May 2007