Music Reviews

Kellar – “Beloved Dean of Magic” – [Foolproof Projects]

abacus   1/31/2012   A Library, CD

7 molten slabs of searing psych jams from this Brighton, UK trio compiled from hours of jamming in former public restroom turned underground studio The Black Bunker. Blistering guitar noise oscillating within some aggressive rock riffage cycled through kaleidoscopic variations in a concrete wall of pounding metallic magma. Electronic emissions induce astral projections as you blast off to the furthest reaches of time into a swirling void and are torn into a sea of particulate matter. Evokes images of wizards at war as a tribute to first great American magician Harry Kellar. “Time-stretched to tape loop around Neptune and back.” Play it loud!

Ruins Alone – “Ruins Alone” – [Skin Graft Records]

Laethaka   1/31/2012   12-inch, A Library

Frantic and/or excellent Japanese Zeuhl from the lead guy behind Ruins. Whole album is about 45 min, but maybe more like 2 hours before it was sped up.

GRUBANDGO (#4B) is absolutely fantastic and highly recommended for just about any upbeat set. AHFTSIVESPHA (#9A) is also great and darker if you’re looking for something a little fiercer. Both, like some of the best Magma, take a look at the guttural freedom and unpredictable beauty and exuberant magic of primitivism- telling strange and wild stories around a campfire in a dark but unhostile night.

There’s also some killer tracks with more of a futuristic touch, like GLASCHZENCK, EQUESSPALDHO, and SANCTUARY (#1B, 7A, & 8A). “Futuristic” here denoting babbled vocals and a whole lot of synthesizer blazing. (does that sound ugly? it isn’t!)

Mattin – “Exquisite Corpse” – [Azul Discografica]

Max Level   1/31/2012   12-inch, A Library

Just so you know, I saw a review online that called this “one of the most unlistenable records ever.” Here’s the deal: Anarchist punk improvising artist noisemaker Mattin (Basque by birth but now a troublemaking citizen of the whole damned world) wrote a batch of extreme, socially conscious, the-world-is-fucked lyrics and recorded them in his jabbering nonsense of a voice. Then he enlisted three musicians (guitar/piano, bass, and drums) to come up with backing music, giving them exactly three minutes per song to do whatever they wanted and only one take to get each song right. And oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that none of the players ever heard the others or even the vocals; they had the lyrics for inspiration and that’s all. They had no idea what the vocals sounded like or how the other musicians were dealing with key, tempo, or style. Not that it mattered. Mattin piled the parts one on top of another and called it a mix. Boom, done. It sounds pretty much like you would expect it to, all loud chaos and sharp-edged randomness, making absolutely no sense. I enjoyed this record in spite of it being completely unlistenable.

Sun Foot – “Songs In The Key of R, B & C” – [Awesome Vistas]

mickeyslim   1/31/2012   12-inch, A Library

This album is a split release by Teenage Teardrops and Awesome Vistas of Sun Foot, a trio based in Portland including Ron Burns of Swell and Star Pimp, Awesome Vistas label founder Chris Johanson, and Brian Mumford of Dragging an Ox Through Water and Jackie-O Motherfucker. These guys utilize guitar, bass, handdrums, electronic drumpad cymbals, pan lids, clarinet, tape, a computer, and vocals. I’m not really sure how to?? classify this music, you’ll just have to take a listen and enjoy.

A-side is a monotonous side-long, one-chord guitar with pings and pangs and droned chanting, plus some awesome hand drum action. A little to straightahead for me, maybe good for mixing.

B-side is all over the place… in a good way. B1 sounds like its trying to be bluesy and psychy at teh same time, reminiscent of 60’s classic rock. B2 is twangy twangy twang, one-chord guitar, two note bass line, a short and sweet guitar solo in the wrong key in the middle, other found sounds sprinkled through.

B3 uses wonky clarinet and what sounds like vinyl scratching. There’s someone yelling in pain, then strange electronic noises overtake the music. B4 is a short, almost surf sounding track, and B5 is a mix-mash of it all, kind of a weird electronic surf punk ballad. Lots will like, and many will love; only 400 copies. Enjoy!


Interplanetary Remixes [coll] – [Wfmu]

Max Level   1/30/2012   CD, Jazz

Our friends at WFMU put their own spin on Sun Ra’s music with a wide variety of results. He is a good candidate for remixing because that loose space shuffle of his always seems to have plenty of room in it for just about anything: skronky saxophones, June Tyson’s distinctive vocals, odd dialogue and spoken word passages, doo-wop, Batman clips, some droning things… His spirit and energy pervade these tracks no matter what WFMU’s intrepid remixers came up with. Obviously a labor of love, the music mutated but with respect for the original, and I think Sun Ra would have appreciated it.

Stalaggh – “Nihilistik Terror” – [Autopsy Kitchen Recordings]

Laethaka   1/30/2012   A Library, CD

75 minutes of sound and fury from some mystery Dutch dudes. A “Stalag” was a Nazi prison camp and the -gh stands for global holocaust, so make sure to play this sunny one at 7 AM.

All vocals are unintelligible (supposedly from asylum inmates; I don’t buy it) and the noise never lets up, but there’s a little variety. #1 is slower and lower and has some pretty fun static bursts to clean your earwax. #2 is mostly screaming and distortion. #3 has moans and staggering impacts that might remind you of the worst night drunk you can unfortunately remember.

But this album is pain without suffering. The noise is harsh but almost gets predictable (#1 practically orbits between screams and buzzes), and the holocaust imagery is so abstract and distant that it’s hard to get pissed off by.

don’t worry about the track lengths — start/stop anywhere

Blackburn, Philip – “Ghostly Psalms” – [Innova/American Composers]

humana   1/30/2012   A Library, CD

The liner notes tucked into the CD sleeve are a must-read, as they enhance the listening of each of these creations from acoustic alchemist Blackburn. 1 is a fabulous sound collage that really places you right in Duluth Harbor, MN, with its sounds of voices, alarm bells from bridges, church bells, carillons, steam engine whistles, joined with other intentional instruments (chain saws, drums, horns). The 9 parts of the Ghostly Psalms include an eerie requiem to a botanical system characterized by voice speaking in five languages, all punctuated by a conch trumpet (2), chant samples triggered by brain waves (3), organ duets (4, 6, 10), string bowing and plucking, breathing, bells, and human rhythmicon (9). The last track is a war of two choirs, one yelling the words, the other singing them gently. Enjoy this aural adventure that celebrates the coexistence of ambient sound and human creation.

Gumpert, Ulrich Workshop Band – “Suites” – [Jazzwerkstatt]

Cousin Mary   1/29/2012   CD, Jazz

Very unusual recording (Berlin 2008) from leader Ulrich Gumpert and his band of improvisers. First four tracks (Aus Teutschen Landen/From German Lands) begin with old German songs, but after a couple of minutes disperse into free jazz. Track 5/6/7 (Sinfonietta) continue in the avant garde vein and have some nice reed, brass, and piano. Last three tracks (H-M-Suite) are a bit more down to earth jazz. Annoying, delightful, very interesting!

Toll – “Christ Knows” – [Cold Spring Records]

abacus   1/26/2012   A Library, CD

Excavated from the hellish core of the earth, this is a reissue of a 1986 LP on Broken Flag from label creator and Ramleh/Skullflower contributor Gary Mundy’s side project. With him here are Mathew Frith, Tim Soar and appearances from pre-Stereolab Tim Gane and Paul Lemos from Controlled Bleeding. Some dank and evil UK industrial noise mixed into dark-wave noir. A vampiric drawl crawling out of the sewers, grinding and piercing amidst caustic guitar volts like exposed wires. Though the vocals are definitely a product of their times, the tortured howls and haunting chants reminiscing of a forsaken life make you feel dirty, disheveled, dejected and delusional. It has a distinctly subterranean feel like a lost message from mole people of forgotten subway lines with cavernous drones at booming low frequencies. The sludgy bass lines maintain the machine rhythms within this sea of noise and snippets of creepy overdubs bring a whole new dimension. Paranoid images of haunted playground swings, wind through chandeliers in dripping dungeons, spiders crawling inside rusted pianos.??

Heatless Ark – “Blank Realm” – [Not Not Fun]

abacus   1/25/2012   12-inch, A Library

Born out of the oppressive heat and amidst and against the beer soaked party scene of Brisbane, Australia, this psych collective with 2 previous cassette releases have compiled hundreds of hours of improvisations, edited and trimmed them down and pieced them all together in a mess of overdubbing for this towering achievement of weird no-wave punk mixed with chandeliers of crystalline noise on a floating psychedelic excursion. They describe themselves as shoegaze thrash, and it seems appropriate though I’d say its much hazier, drugged and lethargic, evoking a dark, cloudy synesthesia. The movement seems strangely intuitive, probably since three of them are siblings, as they weave in and out of tightly controlled tangents that can’t shed their loose feel. Rhythm seems to be more of a subtle insertion with guitars and drums leaving at will, leaving just dense swirls of electronic noise and ethereal synthscapes driven by crunching bass interventions and haunted, nightmarish vocals. There is a solid kraut influence with the wide variety of sounds within a single construct, and the title track is the most conventional while still maintaining unsettling feel. A ceaseless march into heat stroke hallucinations. Enjoy

Heart Land – “Heart Land” – [Cream of Turner]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2012   12-inch, A Library

Who woulda thunk America’s “Heart Land” would fit so nicely
in KFJC’s weird earhole? Actually, this is New Hope, PA’s
“Heart Land” sharing genetic material and a flaming spark
of imagination with Sunlore. There are some heavy sounds
here for rupture rock, but also a hefty amount of lightness,
cascading electronics that stirred the ghosts of Popol Vuh,
at least for me. Instrumental improvisations that could be
the soundtrack to films Werner Herzog is not allowed to
make outside of his mind? Psychedelic not in the guitars
trying to be sitars way, but in the slipperiness of sound
and synth. Urban sherpa meditation? An interesting blend
of organic and inorganic music, like finding a perfect
metal orb deep in the forest. With drums and gunshots
ringing off in the distance at times. As a bonus, this
release can handle increased RPM’s no problem. Let her
rip…and dig the retro library/locomotive log packaging
while you do so.

-Thurston Hunger

Neo Cons – “Neo Cons” – [Deranged]

gretaclue   1/25/2012   7-inch, A Library

According to their bio, this band is “a radical gang of Muslim gay socialist terrorists living a life of sin in godless San Francisco, California.” I don’t know about all that.. They are hardcore punkers for sure. I read they have been compared to New Bomb Turks and Zero Boys.. While i can see a bit of why, Neo Cons are a lot more simple. Thats not to say they aren’t good. If you dig hardcore, no frills, snarly punk rock, These are your boys and girl respectively. It reminded me of being underage and drunk at Gilman St. Good times.

Guilty Pleasures – “Summer Strange”

gretaclue   1/25/2012   A Library, CD

Garage punk 4 piece from Bloomington-Normal, IL.. These guys are pretty bad ass. Formed outside of Chicago in or around 1997, they sadly got lost in the shuffle of the new garage movement (Reatards, Baseball Furies, Black Lips, etc). This 12 track CD has no duds (track 7 is my personal favorite). Its got raw a rock n’ roll garage sound that is good for your ears especially turned up loud. If you have any tail feathers, this record will make you shake ’em.

Hox – “It-ness” – [Apollo Records]

Belladonna   1/24/2012   A Library, CD

aka Andreas Karperyd and Edvard Graham Lewis. This is really awesomely strange. If you can imagine harsh metallic rhythmic beats (Henrik Rylander, Alva Noto, Esplendor Geometrico etc) with a subdued creepy vocal track (lets say an American Blixa meets colin Newman). Its a strange mix but works. Some tracks are a bit more difficult listening, electronic industrial bordering noize while a couple of others have a downright jazzy swagger that just makes you go “huh?”.
Some releases are hard to describe and this is one of them.

Hood, Robert – “Omega” – [M-Plant]

Belladonna   1/24/2012   A Library, CD

Robert Hood is a founding member “Underground Resistance and considered to be one of the founders of minimal techno. Hood is very critical of artistic and economic movements destructive to inner-city communities and has combined his musical enterprises with outreach and social activist ends and gave up city life to live in rural Alabama. He is very spiritual and regularly reads scriptures from the Bible. This release was inspired by the film “Omega Man” and its futuristic, spiritual and end-of-world themes have reverberated throughout Hood???s life. With all that said this is very inspired techno, minimal, interesting but you probably wouldn’t have known the inspiration if I hadn’t told you, its subtle. The spoken intro “Alpha” is great but I do love “The Workers Of Iniquity”. Enjoy!

Monoton – “Monotonprodukt 07” – [Oral]

Belladonna   1/24/2012   A Library, CD

Monoton is the infamous experimental musician and sound artist Konrad Becker along with Daniel Leeflang.
With interesting dark ambient experimental soundscapes, this is creepy, futuristic, rhythmic and intriguing. Becker has been making electronic music since ’79 but this release came out in 1982. Its very ahead of its time, in fact in 1998 The Wire magazine included “Monotonprodukt07” among the 100 most important records of the 20th century. Its not just music, its history.

Sutcliffe Jugend – “With Extreme Prejudice” – [Cold Spring Records]

Muad'Dib   1/24/2012   A Library, CD

Noise consisting of static, mutilated samples, synth torture, screamed profanity, howls and screeches. Distorted spoken words over the track and varied textures and tonal qualities keep the album interesting. With track names like “Fuckrage” and “I Have Kissed This Sick Sick World Goodbye” this is unmistakably an angry noise album, and a good one at that.

Tracks 2 and 7 have no intelligible words and are strong. Some tracks, like tracks 4 and 10, start in a good place but don’t really go anywhere from there. Track 8 is genuinely creepy. Track 9 I like as well, sounds like drunk men crying. Track 11 starts as good ambient doom electronica and builds to a pleasing wall of noise.

Tenderizor – “Touch The Sword” – [Sick Sick Sick]

Muad'Dib   1/24/2012   12-inch, A Library

Tenderizor is what you get when several gifted musicians from the Albuquerque noise scene form an Iron Maiden tribute band. It mostly feels like classic Heavy Metal, but somehow Tenderizor has managed to make this sound very fresh.

Lots of good times hanging around in intros and outros, dual lead guitars delivering baroque hammer-on madness or shimmering in unrelenting feedback riffage. The lead singer also delivers with cookie monster growls and classic big hair metal shreakage.

Mattress – “El Dorado” – [Malt Duck]

Muad'Dib   1/24/2012   12-inch, A Library

Warbled lounge singing, hoots and hollers over drum machine and synth loops. Electric guitar makes an appearance as well. There’s definitely a late-night feel to this music, Las Vegas skid row blues in an empty neon-lit casino. The title track is a favorite and has a fun psychedelic wobble to it. The B side doesn’t feel as strong, it’s more downtempo, strung out and introspective.

DJ Format – “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em” – [Pias]

abacus   1/24/2012   CD, Hip Hop

2005 release from this UK producer DJ Format (or Matt Ford) along with regular collaborator Abdominal and Canadian MC D-Sisive (and cameo appearance from Chali 2na and Akil). Old school body rockin’ block party beats laced with plenty of 70s funk loops and stabs of classic soulful sounds. The samples here are definitely keys oriented with lots of piano and, organ and keyboard lines driving the grooves. Lyrically, Abdominal provides some real down to earth conversational storytelling, especially on 3,4, and 6. He displays his verbal dexterity on 2, 7 and especially track 9 where Format gets a chance to show off his scr-scr-scratching. The two instrumental tracks showcase Format’s production skills and track 10 slows down for some mellow moodiness. This shit will get you groovin’ all the way through and belongs in the funk-soul library just as much as it does hip-hop. FCC – 2,7,9!