Music Reviews

Bob Marsh – Eight [coll] – [Setola Di Maiale]

Max Level   8/30/2009   A Library, CD

In 2007, composer/cellist/improviser Marsh put together a strange, disjointed eight-minute piece of sound art, using voices, electronics, and field recordings. He sent that material to twelve other artists–the only one I have heard of (besides Marsh) is Boris Hauf; the others are completely foreign to me–and asked them to do their thing to it, with no expectation that the new pieces would remain in any way faithful to the original. Those twelve versions are here, along with Marsh’s original piece as Track 13. The many versions are interestingly dissimilar, yet they can’t help but go together well because of their common origin, and they make a nice collection; it’s often difficult to tell just by listening when one track ends and the next one starts. Track 9 seems a bit different, with a softer sound and a less disconnected feeling than the other tracks have. I probably like that track the best, but there is good, creative stuff throughout.

Monosov, Ilya & The 21st Century Punks – “New Music” – [Holy Mountain]

Max Level   8/30/2009   12-inch, A Library

A weird trip. Ilya Monosov & the 21st Century Punks is pretty much Ilya Monosov solo, using an anything-goes approach to assemble audio collages. There are a few guests (including Monosov’s frequent collaborator Preston Swirnoff) but they only do a small bit here and there. The journey goes something like this: A1 is a not-unpleasant rhythmic minor-chord drone with guitars and basses and sampled stuff on top. A2 is titled “Tropical Relaxation” but it’s tense, noisy, and complex; not my favorite way to relax. In B1 we hear a repeating Philip Glass-like melodic figure, but it’s constantly interrupted by glitchy stuff, low voices, and beats. It all comes together, more or less, toward the end, although the whole thing is still sort of messy. B2 has world-music-type percussion and throbbing bass and a trumpet and more of those creepy low voices. A weird record but I like it.

Warm Climate – Agnomen I [Obsolete Units]

humana   8/28/2009   A Library, CD

The cool artwork on the handmade CD sleeve is in keeping with the two songs on this CD from a California outfit offering noise/industrial/ambient music. Ocean, Sympathetic Response (1) has guitar, vocalizations, and field noise sounds. It is very weird but not annoying at all, more like a droning with a lot going on in a comforting white noise sort of way. Sough—Warm Winter (2) starts out very differently, with a piano and single string working out a classical conversation in a very spare environment to which percussion, percolation, something that sounds like bagpipes or an accordion, and moaning vocalizations are layered to give a MiddleEastern feel. Very nice and my preferred of the tracks.

Kudo, Reiko and Tori Kudo – “Light” – [Siwa]

humana   8/28/2009   A Library, CD

Folk: Spare and simple is the music packaged in this artful CD release, containing a card for each of the 7 songs, complete with Japanese and English lyrics on one side with artwork on the flipside. Reiko sings in a clear, plaintive voice, while Tori accompanies her on piano (an occasional harmonica and viola [2] and a mandolin? [5] join in). It is the way the piano takes off into jazzy and classical terrain that makes some songs more interesting. 1, 2, and 7 are sad and lovely. 4, 5, and 6 are more jazzy and less melancholy. 3 is like a crossover between the two types of songs.

King Kong – “Old Man On The Bridge” – [Homestead Records]

humana   8/27/2009   A Library, CD

Wow! I love this. It rocks, literally. The energy packed into these 9 tracks is infectious and gets you moving, whether it be in a funk (1, 8), or blues (4, 6), or just rockin??? (2, 9) way. At the beginning I was reminded of Steppenwolf, but this band has a character all its own. The only slow one of the bunch is 7. The change-up in tempos of 6 shows off the bass, guitars, and drums to good effect. Rock out, turkey!

Battle of Primordial Energy Manifesting In Matter [coll] – [Resipiscent Records]

cinder   8/26/2009   A Library, CD

Two dudes (Xome & Tralphaz) from the Bay Area, and one chick (Ecomorti) from Portland making fucked up electronic noise! The guys seem to stick together and duke it out for who takes the noise king throne, then take it together for an all out blast fest. Merzbow-like screetching madness. Exomorti doesn’t dissapoint either. She blasts and melts through your brain just as tough as anyone. Her last track has a low rumbling build up (about 1.5 minutes). Prepare for some ear bleeding.

Towering Heroic Dudes – “Bad Old Daze” – [Obsolete Units]

cinder   8/26/2009   A Library, CD

A few guys from Brooklyn making murky, muddled, mind twisting drones. Three long 20 minuters, followed by a quick 30 second blurb. Electronic twists and turns. Sometimes industrial sounding metal eruptions. Tracks were all recorded live, there’s quick applause at the end of each. Goes all over the place, but always stays nice and feedbacky.

Bruital Orgasme – “La Mort Est Jaune Citron Et Sent La Vanille…” – [None]

cinder   8/26/2009   A Library, CD

Released in 2007 by a Belguim Duo (FIL & NATH) named Bruital Orgasme. The first track beings you a low rumbling and rolling itchy drone, followed by some zipper-like scratches, and deep heart beats. The second starts with a deafening high-pitched knob twiddle, and soon trancends into deep growls and fizzing, decayed test lines. Sort of minimal, and sort of futuristic in a demolition sort of way.

Bali 1928, Vol. 1 [coll] – [World Arbiter]

Cousin Mary   8/26/2009   CD, International

Three Gamelan groups from Bali perform on these historic recordings from 1928, very rare glimpses of these performances from before World War II. The tracks come from 78???s that were recorded to introduce Westerners to this music and to be sold to the Balinese market – not a success since there were ample opportunities in Bali to see live performances and also since few owned the equipment to play them.

Chimes, gongs and other instruments are lovely in these gamelan settings despite some hiss and noise from the old recordings. CD also includes more text information and copies of silent films recorded at the time.

Kazakgascar, San – “Idle Ships” – [Lather Records]

Cousin Mary   8/26/2009   A Library, CD

This Sacramento band treats us to psychedelic rock with a Middle Eastern and Indian flavor. Very silly song titles and lyrics, although I frequently could not understand the words. ???Vocals??? are sometimes more like shouted chants. Well played guitar, bass, drums and clarinet.

Great fun, really rocks!

Abbs, Tom & Frequency Response – “Lost & Found” – [Engine Studios]

Cousin Mary   8/26/2009   CD, Jazz

Bassist Tom Abbs leads and doubles on cello, tuba, and compositions on this free-jazz mix. There is a lot of variety in these 18 relatively short tracks (1:38 to 6:01) varying from difficult (Lock, for one example) to downright pretty (e.g. Pedestrian).

This atmospheric sound and unusual combination of instruments really grew on me. See liner notes for which musicians play on which tracks.

Frisell, Bill – “Disfarmer” – [Nonesuch Records]

Cousin Mary   8/26/2009   CD, Jazz

Mike Disfarmer was a loner, eccentric and artist who had a photography studio in rural Arkansas. He died in 1959, but his work has since been discovered and exhibited. Bill Frisell uses his experiences from traveling to Arkansas and meeting people who knew Disfarmer as well as the photographs as inspiration for this album.

Fine guitar from Frisell, bass from Viktor Krauss, mandolin and pedal-steel from Greg Leisz, and violin from Jenny Scheinman. Mostly folk and country and western, occasionally a little jazzy ??? all with a very modern sound.

There is more about Disfarmer at http://www.disfarmer.org/

Abrams, Muhal Richard, Octet – “View From Within” – [Black Saint]

Rarus Avis   8/25/2009   CD, Jazz

???View From Within??? is the 1985 release by pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and includes six tracks that have a fair amount of variety and penache. The tracks have different and intriguing instrumental arrangements of Abram???s work, performed by an octet of highly experienced musicians. The music is improvisional and free, but has clear structure, and the musician intereactions are conversational in nature, sometimes restrained, so that the group and not the individual musicians take center stage.

The Muhal Richard Abrams Octet is Muhal Richard Abrams, Stanton Davis, John Percell, Marty Ehrlich, Rick Rosie, Warren Smith, Thurman Barker and Ray Mantilla.
~~Rarus Avis

Many Arms – “Ocean of Snakes” – [Majmua Music]

Rarus Avis   8/25/2009   A Library, CD

This 3??? CD EP is Many Arm???s first release and includes four very hard-hitting songs that aren???t easily classifiable, but are thoroughly enjoyable from this very experienced team who show off their version of the Philadelphia experimental music scene. The songs each have very clear structure but have a definite focus on individual and collective improvisation. Personal picks are Track 2 ??? Easy Dozens, and Track 3 ??? Holy Ghost Choir Society.

Many Arms is Nick Millevoi ??? guitar, John DeBlase ??? bass, and Ricardo Lagomasino ??? drums. Each artist, busy in their own right, have formed a very intriguing and exciting team in Many Arms. Released by Majuma Music in 2009.

Raks Raks Raks (17 Golden Garage Psych Nuggets Iranian 60’s) [coll] – [Raks Discos]

Rarus Avis   8/25/2009   12-inch, International

Raks Raks Raks is a new collection issued by Raks Discos of 17 choice songs from the Persian 1960’s, ranging from Psych to Soul. These songs, recorded during a time in pre-Revolution Iran when western/eastern music cultural exchanges were highly active. On a beautiful colored disk, this collection includes musical pearls from artists such as Moha Jamin, The Flowers, The Littles, and an early “Respect” cover release from Googoosh. Included is a very good insert that provides much historial context. What a terrific release. Play early – play often.

Rarus Avis

Denny, Sandy – “She Moves Through The Fair” – [Stamford Audio]

ArtCrimes   8/23/2009   12-inch, B Library

Sandy Denny achieved her greatest fame as the primary vocalist for Fairport Convention, and through her solo work that followed. But prior to joining Fairport, she had put in time as an authentic folk artist in the London folk club scene of the sixties that featured a few other hugely influential folkies, including Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch, Davey Graham, and Anne Briggs. The music here dates to 1967-1968 and were informal home recordings of Sandy accompanying herself on fairly competent guitar, and the sound quality ranges from merely adequate (the title track) to reasonably good. Although only 5 tracks are included, they do span the full range of Sandy’s interests: two traditional numbers (one of which, the title track, would be recorded later with Fairport), two originals (again, one of which, “Box of Treasure”, would be recorded with Fairport although with a new set of lyrics), and one song by her friend Anne Briggs. (Anne Briggs was later acknowledged in Sandy’s later song “The Pond and the Stream”). These tracks were licensed from Fledg’ling Records’ extensive box set of Sandy’s work, “A Boxful of Treasure,” and appear here on vinyl for the first time. (((crimes)))

Burning Star Core – “Amelia” – [No-Fidelity (UK)]

cinder   8/21/2009   10-inch, A Library

This is a release of BSC 2003 EP, originally out on CDR. The first track is an awesome looping, wavering synth track that creates images of bubbles floating to the surface. Sort of in a 70s electro way. Love the track title of the second…..Pigeon Homing Device. With that in mind, you can see a sketchy little rock dove freaking out and pecking at the ground with a computer tied to its back. Is this the sound of pigeon thoughts? Yes. Side B is 11 minutes of layered finger-purring synths that trickle down like waterfalls, and swooping electronic breezes.

Zs – “Music Of The Modern White” – [The Social Registry]

cinder   8/21/2009   12-inch, A Library

Coming from Brooklyn, Sam Hillmer (tenor sax), Amnon Freidlin (electric guitar), Ben Greenberg (electric guitar) & Ian Antonio (drums) currently make up Zs the band. Formed in 2000 they’ve gone through all sorts of “tet”s.
Side A starts out with random drum blasts, almost like a locomotive chugging. Followed by some swankering sustained sax. It takes a (bad? weird? absstract?) edit into shimmering textures of stringing feedbacks. The last little bit sounds like eerie electronic midnight waves, crashing and whistling in the wind with a moaning sax.
Side B starts of with some tenor, and gets fun with a round of knee-slapping and hi-fiving mixed with a singular guitar. Pretty creative and playful. Drumrolls and whiny sax to follow.

Secret Abuse – “Immeasurable Gift, The” – [Arbor CDR]

cinder   8/21/2009   12-inch, A Library

Secret Abuse is Jeff Witscher. He recorded this release over 3 years in different locations. Melodic thoughts seem to be hidden beneath the scratchy dense layers of electronic noise. It’s not ear blasting though, I’d call it “pretty noise”. Track 3 on side A has icy guitar with optimistic notes, like a fairy hidden in an ice chamber. Has the feeling of stuck not quite on the right frequency….your station is starting to fade as you cross over the hills. Lovely!

Zeh, Jason and Reed, David [coll] – [Teenaction]

cinder   8/21/2009   A Library, CD

An experimental release originally recorded on cassette. Track 1 I believe is the Zeh/Reed duo from 2007, Track 2 is Teeth Collection from 2008. Zeh & Reed brings you 15 minutes of grumbling electronics, burnt audio tapes, hell from below sounds. Swapping time with something that sounds like a mouse stuck under a tin bucket on a metal floor. A few jingle bells here and there. It’s like a demented barnhouse. Farm noise. All the animals are banging and cluttering around, shuffling and causing chaos, yet not a vocal sound. Has a sudden ending, beware! Teeth Collection is Matthew Reis. He takes on the same approch as the first track, just a little more eerie, and less grumbly. That poor mouse is still stuck under that can!