Music Reviews

R.O.T. – “L’ecurie” – [(K-RAA-K)3]

Max Level   2/28/2011   12-inch, A Library

Four sound constructions, ranging from four to nineteen minutes in length, from this semi-mysterious Belgian collective. What you’re going to get here are drones, rattles, hums, pulses, jingly noises, sliding notes, and various rumbling layered things. I have no idea how many people were involved –I did try to find out, but the R.O.T. gang seems to thrive on secrecy– or how they made about 90% of the sounds heard here, but I get the feeling that we’re hearing mostly acoustic instruments treated/processed in various ways. And I think these are all improvisations played live. Quietly intense.

Anderson’s, Ron PAK- “Secret Curve” – [Tzadik]

Cousin Mary   2/28/2011   A Library, CD

Ron Anderson is a guitarist, but chose to play bass on this recording where he wanted to feature Keith Abrams’ percussion.

Thanks for Ron Anderson for his correction concerning his composition methods as noted in his comment below.

Instrumentation includes brass, reeds, piano, guitar and strings that integrate into a whole very well. The sound is lively, fun, goofy, sometimes jazzy, hard to pin down.

Fans of Frank Zappa might like this..

Scelsi, Giacinto – “Natura Renovatur” – [Ecm Gmbh]

Cousin Mary   2/28/2011   A Library, CD

20th Century Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi (pronounced ja-CHEEN-to SHELLsi) was interested in meditation and spiritual life and considered himself more of a medium than a composer. He would tape record his work, playing on piano or ondiola (a small electronic three-octave keyboard featuring dials and keys for producing effects such as glissandi, quarter-tones, and vibrato.) These taped “compositions” would later be transcribed, sometimes years later. Cellist Frances-Marie Uitti, who performs the solo pieces on this recording, was a friend of Scelsi and worked through the 100s of hours of tapes left after his death in 1988. There are also pieces performed by the Munich Chamber Orchestra that are for 11 to 16 strings.

These are unearthly and beautiful pieces in the experimental contemporary classical vein. Knowing that they are meditative makes them much more understandable. Concentrated listening will take you to another place.

Canterbury, Jesse – “Vertigo” – [Present Sounds Recordings]

Cousin Mary   2/28/2011   CD, Jazz

This quartet of clarinet or bass clarinet, guitar, cello and trombone plays and improvises with these compositions resulting in very original sounds. Playful and a bit scary, somewhat dizzying so that Vertigo seems like a good title.

Experimental chamber music, could be called contemporary classical, but delightfully hard to categorize.

El’zabar, Kahil Ritual Trio – “Ancestors Are Amongst Us, The” – [Katalyst Entertainment]

Cousin Mary   2/28/2011   CD, Jazz

This 1987 recording is of the original Ritual Trio with El’Zabar on percussion, Lester Bowie on trumpet, and Malachi Favors on bass – we should rejoice that it was finally released in 2010. El’Zabar’s study and interest in African music is evident, and those African ancestors no doubt give the recording its title.

Stunning interweaving conversation among the three musicians – very, very cool. Track 7 will delight fans of thumb piano.

Lean, vibrant, engaging.

Death Sentence: Panda / The Dreams [coll] – [Bibimbap]

Max Level   2/27/2011   10-inch, A Library

Nicely moody stuff and I like it.
Side A: Death Sentence: Panda! An intriguing 7-1/2 minute composition that moves through a few different territories: a flute-led march leads to a noisy vocal section, which turns into a noisy instrumental section, which devolves into a droning throb that ends the piece.
Side B: The Dreams turn in a set of raggedy no-wave tribal rock. Mostly percussion, guitar, and vocals, with occasional keyboards and flute. Semi-hypnotic stuff, reminding me of some of the material I’ve heard by the Hop-Frog folks.

Pop Ambient 2011 [coll] – [Kompakt Schallplatten]

humana   2/26/2011   12-inch, A Library

The songs on this album are as soothing and lovely as the rose depicted on the album sleeve, right down to the pastel pink of the petals and soft green of the leaves. Starting with ANBB and ending with Jens-Uwe Beyer (although the enclosed CD has an added track by Thomas Fehlmann), this offering is a wash of ambient calm, soothing like a space-age ocean. We should expect nothing less from Kompakt. Indeed, BVDub has it right with its apt song title: ???Make the Pain Go Away.??? That???s just what this album does.

Saucers & The Allies ’78-’81, The [coll] – [Rave Up Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/25/2011   12-inch, A Library

This is what Berkeley always should be, tasting like Top Dog and the
bottom of the keg at the top of the morning after a long night’s
discussion. The Saucers and the Allies were incarnations in that order
where the former had Joey Michaels on *farfisa* and vox, and ultimately
the latter replaced him with Craig Magee as a lead guitarist. For me
the earlier Saucers have more going for them, the farfisa is zany in
the best possible way, and Michaels’ vocals have an angsty howl that
fit better with the lyrics. In the latter, Dave Velasquez takes over
all of the vocals, and he’s more straight ahead in his delivery, and
the guitar work grinds well but is just not as unique a raver flavor.
Both benefit from bopping bass by Shelley Wolfe and the key is Jake
Smith beating the daylights out of the drums. He drops some ska rolls
on to “Cold Act” and often best captures the anger of the times (Reagan
republicans in Sproul Plaza, frats popping up not far from People’s
Park). “Death Ray Generation” reminds me of how certain folks were that
the planet was going to be blown to bits, instead of sold off byte by
byte. Plus more Jake Smith pummelage! “Piggy’s Jukebox” name checks Don Kirshner for expiration date but still succeeds on catchiness nonetheless. Both bands offer takes on “Disposed Dictator” the kind of song that needs to be written and rocked yearly. Youthful ire is as persistent as political non/mis/malfeasance. Kids gotta call bullshit, old folks need to say thanks…and while appreciating, thanks to Terry Hammer for the crisp recordings and being KFJC’s secret santa I suspect on sending

Zolar X – “X Marks The Spot” – [Alternative Tentacles]

Max Level   2/24/2011   12-inch, A Library

Hard-edged power pop, basically. Zolar X’s “debut” album a few years ago was fantastic, but it was actually recordings from a couple of decades ago. This is their 2007 comeback album, full of fresh, rockin’ material. To get full enjoyment from Zolar X’s music, you have to be willing to buy their story about being Plutonians from outer space and all that. So just go along with it and you’ll be glad you did. “Plutonian Marmalade” could totally be one of those great melodic Ramones songs (well OK, the lyrics would have to be different, but you know what I mean.) Nothing wrong with this.

I.U.D. – “Proper Sex, The” – [The Social Registry]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2011   12-inch, A Library

2009 release picked up by KFJC’s Curtis Kimby after exchanging
bodily fluids with a mere glance of the cover. Messy electronics
and hissy fit vocals with a treated tribal thump mixed with
urban cocktails. Yep, it’s a Social Registry release through
and through, indeed upon pulling back the cover it is Gang Gang
Dancer, Lizzi Bougatsos boogie buoyant through the strobe beats
and echoplex chambers. You’ve paid the cover to a club that no
one can find, and where dancing is both a crime and a necessity.
Spastic stuck with hiccup turntable moves on the closer. The
mix on every song is dense, overpacked with samples and at time
real percussion or some simple synth work. “Monk Hummer” has
a sort of Demi Semi Quaver sneaks into a John Carpenter film
at times, before crash worshipping into some tantric taiko
march. Before some more rough cuts jumping sample trains. Sexual
innuendoes flaunted in the titles often lost in the overdose of
the sonic assault, but again that is the Social Registry way.
As always, the key is installing I.U.D. properly in your time
slot to maximize your enjoyment of “The Proper Sex.” Songs
mount and exceed stamina, the aforementioned “Monk Hummer”
lasts a lifetime if you don’t stop the locked groove.

By the way, the only Sparks cover is the cover ;>

-Thurston Hunger

Deerhoof – “Deerhoof vs Evil” – [Polyvinyl Record Company]

HackersMuse   2/21/2011   A Library, CD

On Deerhoof vs. Evil, Deerhoof is clearly intent on getting you lost in their musical wilderness. The psychedelic rock quartet has devilish fun with their strong melodies contrasted against impassive vocals by Satomi Matsuzaki. Their music has a strong focus on the instrumental with an upbeat experimental rock style, and they can rock out with an aggressive segue. Deerhoof is an influential band, often cited as a musical influence by other bands such as Grizzly Bear. Deerhoof keeps true to their creative style while demonstrating that they have something for everybody. I enjoyed their crossover appeal songs, and great tracks such as I Did Crimes For You, Secret Mobilization, and Super Duper Rescue Heads! ward off the evil of blah music with a great balance of experimental and melodic.

Mathilde 253 – “Mathilde 253” – [Slam]

Max Level   2/21/2011   CD, Jazz

Charles Hayward (percussion, melodica), Han-earl Park (guitar) and Ian Smith (trumpet, flugelhorn) in a trio setting, recorded live in London April 2010. The action rises and falls as the three engage in improvised dialogues. The first five tracks are nice, but for me there isn’t enough variation from one to another, so listening to a couple of them is all I need in one sitting. My favorite tracks are the last two, in which the group is joined by saxophone legend Lol Coxhill. The four minute guitar/sax duet at the beginning of Track 6 is inspired; the two really seem to be conversing with one another.

Evans / Pluta / Altieri – “Sum and Difference” – [Carrier]

Max Level   2/21/2011   CD, Jazz

Electro-acoustic improvisations out of New York. Interesting stuff. Sam Pluta’s laptop interacts in strange ways with Peter Evans’s trumpet (tracks 1,2,4,5) and Jim Altieri’s violin (tracks 3,6). Evans and Altieri play with extended techniques, often avoiding music altogether, in favor of focusing on the sounds they can produce. Pluta is all over it, processing those instrumental sounds in real time (with SuperCollider software, I think), adding, subtracting, modulating, layering, glitching… Each player seems to be very much in tune with what his partner is doing, and each duet is fascinating in its own way.

Divorce – “Divorce” – [Optimo Music]

ophelia necro   2/20/2011   10-inch, A Library

Five piece out of Glasgow making punk rock/noise inspired by No Wave. Divorce is Sinead Youth: vocals – Hillary Van Scoy: guitar, vocals – VSO: bass, vocals – Andy Browntown: drums, vocals – Vickie MacDonald: guitar.This album is from 2009. It was their debut 10″ and is on red vinyl. Optimo is a label run by JD Twitch, one part of a DJ duo out of Glasgow. Refer to the collection “60 Minutes of Fear” for more info about J.D. Twitch. This would work well in a set with Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Uxa, Swans, etc.

Vegetable – “C.f. / Sol” – [Gilgongo Records]

ophelia necro   2/20/2011   7-inch, A Library

One sided 45 (33rpm). Recorded at XNA in November 2010 with the help of James Fella in Tempe, Arizona. Released on Gilgongo Records. Frantic 3-some of spastic punk rock with male and female vocals. 2 tracks: “Castration Frustration” and “Sol”. Fun.

Sperm Wails – “Lady Chatterly / Mr Wonderful” – [S-S Records]

ophelia necro   2/20/2011   7-inch, A Library

Recorded in 1986, Songs by Sperm Wails (London, 85-89). Vocals, guitar, bass and drums. Good 80s UK punk rock sound with elements of New York No Wave. Apparently they had their own label (Spurt) and might have recently been reborn under the name “Blowhole”. 2011 release on S-S Records. “Lady Chatterly” was released originally on flexi as part of a freebie to a fanzine, “Mr Wonderful” was an unreleased track.

Coathangers, The – “Hard Candy” – [Die Slaughterhouse]

ophelia necro   2/20/2011   7-inch, A Library

Foursome of fierce females. Georgian garage/punk rock that’ll bring a smile to your face. “Johnny” (Side A) is about going to hell and has some killer piano and slide guitar action. “Wife Eyes” is a bit cuter but just as fun. An entertaining follow up to their 1st single “Don’t Touch My Shit” on Suicide Squeeze.

Luyas, The – “Too Beautiful to Work” – [Dead Oceans]

humana   2/17/2011   A Library, CD

Jessie Stein???s sweet vocals infuse these songs that have an overall pop feel to them, although 4 has a kind of jazzy beginning, and 9 also has a cool, jazzy start with shakers and keys and bells. 6 is bouncy, appropriate to mattress jumping, with coy, playful lyrics and an organ striking a menacing chord in the background. 5 has breathing sounds, and a horn comes in to give the keys another layer. 10 talks about ???colors dripping,??? just like a nice, rainy day. Enjoy this innocent, frothy confection.

Mira Calix – “On E On One” – [Warp Records Ltd]

MSTiZA   2/16/2011   A Library, CD

South African born, Chantal Passamonte aka Mira Calix, moved to London in the 90’s. Both she and her husband have worked with Warp, she as a press officer and he, Sean Booth, as one-half of Autechre. As a DJ she played with Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Aphex Twin, and Radiohead. In 2009, she received a British composer Award & the Royal Philharmonic Society Award. This album was released six ways and this is the CD release on Warp in 2000.

The minimalism is driven by noise/field/foley recordings. Tracks include slow building beats with her vocals sparse and drowned in velvet. Each track transforms and makes use of it’s essence. Some are built around glitch & beats touching on ambient neo-classical. Others are awash in ethereal, bass heavy, and sample layered vox. Definitely for fans of Aphex Twin, Richard Devine, and the like.

P.s. the release includes two bonus tracks. Track 17 is a Boards of Canada of ‘Sandsings’ and the original is featured on track 18. The two vary quite a bit; with more glitch and beat in the remix & the original has a field recording ambience of static, bells, and looping vox.

3WR: lady cinder donna

Finches, The – “On Golden Hill” – [Ulrike Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/15/2011   A Library, CD

For purveyors of spooky beauty, of that delicate mix of harm
and harmony, look and listen no further. Bay area three piece
with all parts singing. Pitch-perfect with a touch of pitch
black. A mild hint of twang, but more akin to the sound
underneath the grandstands at the prom in 1977? Or at the
other dive in Twin Peaks from a few years ago. New sounds but
timeless as a torch, and when the voices all rise together
and oooooh from note to note, it’s like a gust of wind at
night. Some keys on “I Stood” but generally it’s just guitar,
bass and drums…and those voices. Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs
out front with a soothing voice and an unsteady heart, she
probably sounds fantastic even without the reverb. But don’t
discount the larynges of Gerry Saucedo and Cam Jones. Maybe
the haunted quality comes from the fact that Carolyn’s first
Finches died, and this project is back from the dead. With
a bullet…and a few waltzes. The first three songs alone
just floored me, as Darwin felt about his Finches, so I do
about this flock. Subtle variations, enjoy the unnatural

-Thurston Hunger