Music Reviews

Orchestre National De Mauritanie – “Orchestre National De Mauritanie” – [Mississippi Records]

abacus   4/30/2013   12-inch, International

Sedated Saharan lounge jazz firmly rooted in local traditions but looking forward to the future. The Orchestra was established in 1968 by the nation’s first president to have something to show off to foreign delegates. At the time, this desert nation was trying to establish itself as a major cultural center of West Africa, at the far tip of the continent and bordering sub-Saharan regions. Some established musicians were recruited, like Hiddu player Saidou Ba, Mohamed “Neyfara” Fall Ould on the namesake flute, and 17 year old Hadrami Ould Meidah to lead the band with his passionate vocals. They trained in Guinea where Western music was banned but certain instrumentation was still adopted, incorporating horns and the electric guitar, which voices their African modalities beautifully. Their only official recording was a 7″ of the middle 2 tracks on side A released in 1973. Check out “La Mone” for some seductive call-response work between vocals and flute and sultry electric guitar wah-nderings, along with a rhythmic breakdown or two. The band disbanded with the coup d’etat that followed a series of droughts and their recordings were almost destroyed under the military regime, saved by a rogue radio engineer who hid them in his house for decades. The cultural pluralism of this early era has largely been lost under the current impoverishment and Islamic focus of today’s Mauritania, but these recordings hearken back to years past when they dreamed of building a “Paris in the sands.”

Van Allen Belt, The – “Songs” – [Self-released]

humana   4/30/2013   7-inch, A Library

The lollipop purple vinyl of this 7″ matches the upbeat nature of these songs, sung in a woman’s rich voice (sometimes in layers), set atop synth and other instrumentation. There’s a gentle, mellow, folksy pop feel to this, epitomized by the following lyric on A1: “I only do right ’cause it feels good.” You will feel good after listening to this.

Informatics – “Dance to a Dangerous Beat” – [Dark Entries]

humana   4/29/2013   12-inch, A Library

Get out your weights and get ready to bop! This music definitely sounds like the 80s, and indeed it was recorded between 1980 and 1985. Created with analog synths before the time of sampling equipment, this highly energetic, rubberbandy music comes out of garages and art school basements in Melbourne. The band is together again and performing with updated equipment, but this snapshot of a time when the musicians had to innovate with four-track tape machines is delightful.

New Birth, The – “Ain’t No Big Thing/Comin’ Together” – [SuperBird]

humana   4/27/2013   CD, Soul

The liner notes explain how The New Birth formed as an ensemble with enough team spirit to release the two albums included on this CD, yet was comprised of individuals who pursued separate musical projects at the same time. CD1 has covers galore (check out the soul version of “Fire & Rain”), and was recorded in 1971. CD2 (recorded in 1972) features the addition of vocalists Peace, Love, and Happiness, who add a distinct flavor to the music. Soul enthusiasts will enjoy this blast from the past. Fine Motown sound on here.

Sunflower Logic, The – “Clouds On The Polar Landscape” – [Pink Banana]

Thurston Hunger   4/26/2013   A Library, CD

Embrace the mystique. Do the imperial. Hologram shards and
baseball cards. It’s the old new Guided by Voices by any other
name, perceive the Sunflower Logic. The high school marching band
assembled under a sky overcrowded by interplanetary starships,
it’s “UFO Night.” Ramshackle rococo. Limited edition, unlimited
sedition. I was supposed to be on the wagon, but the truth is
I frequently down a couple of Pollard pop brews whenever
the searchlights sweep away. Is it wrong for my favorite thing
here to be the fake insert catalog of other imaginary bands on the
Pink Banana label? Five cuts, “UFO Nights” stalls in the middle,
distortion and conspiracy rule the night. “I Wanna Marry Your Sister”
lonely boy and cat phone message to start, that confesional mic??
style plus??percussive bad electronics over broken-hearted guitar.
“I Was A Boy” sputters like Ate It Twice, firecracker guitar
cable zaps arc the wizard. “Felt Stars” sci-fi piano and Robert
Pollards voice full of triumph and regret, like all those old
roman emperors. “Fuck You Mr. Smith” revenge on a middle school
gym teacher? It clocks in at a GBV prorated epic 4.5 minutes, but
that includes the tacked on drum major and band at the end.
Recorded in his home cockpit studio, the Public Hi-Fi Balloon,
Pollard floats more ideas in a two minute song on a knock-off
EP than your dirty neighbors float germs in public pool across
town. Take a dip.

-Thurston Hunger (placing this album in KFJC’s library as bait for erstwhile KFJC DJ Harry Haller)

Tembo, Chrissy Zebby & Ngozi Family – “My Ancestors” – [Qdk Media]

Thurston Hunger   4/26/2013   CD, International

Wham bam thank you Zamrock (and Forced Exposure.) Originally
out in 1974 when barre chords ruled the rock and roll world
and guitar solos were always good to go, and even better to Ngozi.
Really dug Paul Ngozi’s fuzzed out fret flights on the
“45,000 Volts” reissue, and he’s as much the focus here as
drummer and vocalist Tembo. Allegedly this release was a
Ngozi alternate configuration to get Tembo some of the royalties
(ifffff you trust the internet). Tembo’s singing (all in English
by the way) is steady and often upbeat even when singing
lyrics that shout at the merchants of death. The best track,
“Coffin Maker” has Tembo finding something to keep him going
just in the ecstatic pursuit of rock, while said Coffin Maker
is surrounded by empty coffins. Fans of Crushed Butler, or
heck even confused Deep Sabbath / Black Purple peeps can
dig this.?? Reading around is funny how different reviewers cite
different bands, I think if you are of a certain vintage that
dates back to this album’s release whatever band you grew up
playing in the garage or basement, will connect to what you hear
here. And that includes “Gone Forever” as the slow dance send off,
Tembo not necessarily giddy, but atoned in the death of a paternal
figure. Ngozi gets burbly with the effects on that one. But he’s
best when the going gets rough and the distortion gets rougher,
“Trouble Maker” is the sweatiest cut. “My Ancestors” and “Lonely
Night” go with catchy pop melodies, and lots of interspersed
guitar work by Ngozi. “Oh Yeh Yeh” is an instro, riding a heavy
metal riff in a kinda Yardbirds-y way with Ngozi a la Beckola.
Ngozi, aka Paul Dobson Nyirongo RIP 1989.?? I’m not sure if Tembo
is alive to this day, I hope so. It’d be nice to hear his take on
this release and various things Ngozi.

-Thurston Hunger

Kerkar, Kesarbai – “Kesarbai Kerkar” – [Mississippi Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/26/2013   12-inch, International

Actually an off shoot of the mighty Mississippi Records, Canary
as collected and curated by Ian Nagoski. The 8-page booklet
with an essay by Ian depicts Ms. Kerkar (1892-1977) as fierce and
forthright as any punk femme force. This paragraph pales to
what he put together, so seek that out. Song slices here date
from 1950 or so, pretty consistent in their arrangement with
Kerkar’s voice scaling and swirling in the forefront of the
mix, like mist up a mountain peak. The mountain itself is
sarangi and tabla and occasionally harmonium, that music
is sturdy, but truly just the scenery for Kerkar’s expression.
I must say, something about the deepchandi rhythm of
“Jaat kahan ho” kind of connected with me, or maybe it
was the more featured harmonium.?? The music’s interesting
but the accompanying booklet and her story is the magnificent
gem here.

-Thurston Hunger
PS??KFJC has??some interesting releases under Nagoski himself worth checking out too. More power to him as curator *and* creator!

Butcher, John / Buck, Tony / Mayas, Magda / Stangl, Burkhard – “Plume” – [Unsounds]

Thurston Hunger   4/26/2013   CD, Jazz

Two live sets with a dynamic duo of John Butcher (saxes)
and the outstanding percussionist Tony Buck joined by
a different third improvisor on each. “Fiamme” features
Burkhard Stangl on brittle guitar; his angular twists and
harmonic taps start things off. Butcher valve fluttering
and doing more subtle sputtering, some shuffly percussion
until about 4:30 in when Butcher starts to hit the squeakier
tea kettle piercers. Some nearly flamenco strums come
and Butcher works into uproar mode by 6+ minutes…what
ensues is sort of a relay race between those few fiery
escapades and more gentle, but still vivid free work. Around
12 min, the band sounds like a harmonium impostor verging
on some kind of lab alarm. Some moments like 17-20 min are
tough in the car, but heaven in the headphones. Microsounds
too much to review on a sticker that fits on the CD. Buck
topples some metal, and makes cymbals rain. He’s amazing.
And that’s the shorter piece! “Vellum” rolls Magda Maya’s
piano into the fray, prepared under the hood goodies vs
the bird calls of Butcher. Buck tries building a cage
around them, but a city then an ocean (Mayas’ piano at
the bottom) and then a world keep growing. By 14+ mins we
are reminded that all three are percussive, but again a
quiet cycle slips in. I often feel that improv is more
playful and humorous than my ears can tell, but this sprawler
covers some downright spooky territory in its construction,
(see 32-34min) before the pulsating waves of more jointed
jazz close it. More dark and furious than the first.

-Thurston Hunger

Devil Is Busy In Knoxville, The [coll] – [Mississippi Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/26/2013   12-inch, Blues

Many things flow from the mighty Mississippi (label), and
here some 78’s wash up, cleaned up and darn near baptised.
Despite the title of the album (a presumed nod to Leola
Manning’s “The Devil Is Busy in Knoxville”) this is no
collection of murder ballads, but instead his grace and pearly
gates, where “Fify Miles of Elbow Room” await us. The
harmonies on here are downright heavenly. Not just frequent
angel-wing fliers like the Carter Family but the straight
collar sweet hollar of the Anglin Brothers and the Delmore
Brothers (connecting to Palace and Everly brothers in my
sacred heart and scarred ears). Of course the purest
chorus comes from the mouth of babes, and “Chariot Jubilee”
sounds like it could almost be a pacific island sublime
frequency call and response chat. Too short. If you want
a little hint of the apple polished by the serpent, check
out the rough and ready work of Elder Richard Bryant’s
Sanctified Singers, or the Silent Grove Baptist Church
Congregation (the shadowy bass accompaniment behind
the powerhouse unknown lead male vocal defying the Grave).
Is Rev I.B. Ware a real person, I reckon so but his sentiment
“I Wouldn’t Mind Dying” closes this album, which also
features the cover lady, the mighty Sister Rosetta Tharpe
belting out a tune from her thinner days, and holding a
note too high and pure for any devil to touch. Sing on
sister and brothers, sing on right on past the grave.

-Br’er ‘Unger

Deison – “Quiet Rooms” – [Aagoo]

Thurston Hunger   4/26/2013   A Library, CD

At last, astral projection from the comfort of your
own bathtub! Or are these just the ambient dreams
of a foley artist? These four 10-17 minute tracks of
steamy ambient beams of sound float right on up
and through you. I didn’t even notice the gaps
between the tracks on my first listen. The cloudiness
of the sound, banks of synth swirl, feels like it
may have been one long piece, split into four different
hotel rooms. The album cover indicates the way to
get the most out of this release, a wide-eyed,
temple-activated immersion. I do think active
listening, as opposed to your drive-time dial-in
will pay off more, as the samples pop up like
flotsam in the ambient. Call it flotsambient, but
it triggers a detective response, maybe initially
prodded by Italy’s C. Deison being in a hotel room
and thinking, what the hell is going on next door?
Or perhaps just chilling out and saying, wow that
AC Unit just hit a really nice stride. The embedding
synth work never touches the ground, like a ghost
organ with invisible pedals. Quiet on the set and
quiet from the onset.

-Thurston Hunger

Ramble Tamble – “Secret Museum of Kind Men Vol. 2” – [Casual Acid Tea]

Thurston Hunger   4/26/2013   7-inch, A Library

Again kudos to Matt Clark and his Casual Acid Tea label for taking
the dip/trip into Pat Conte’s amazing collections. But right off the
bat, KFJC’s got a problem here as we do NOT appear to own the original
Secret Museum Of Mankind Vol. 3: Ethnic Music Classics: 1925-48.
We’ll get somebody on that, but let’s drop the needle here now.
This time kind men were found in the “band” Ramble Tamble which is
Turner Williams, Jr.??and friends, whether in NYC or down in Alabam’.
First up: From Epirus with epilove, “Ta Magia Sto Pegadi” has Ramble
Tamble swapping out the Balkan flights of clarinet for fiddle
flourishes and laser light pitch wheel synth dervishes. Under the
mix, drums kick up dust and Turner Williams, Jr grinds out some grit
on his Electric Shahi Baaja. That song sort of breaks into two,
an initial somewhat dour descending melody that hits a pause
and Adam Markiewicz slings his bow and the tune into a rising
kind of arpeggiated spin. To me the winner was Tunisia on the
flip side, “Raks Fazani” where Williams and Casey Glover now
on piano get the magic carpet flying like a santur dreaming
of a shooting star. On the 7″ inner seal, both tracks say
as “interpreted” by Ramble Tamble, so the sounds are intentionally
more citified and trade vocals for licks and maybe even tumble
the tunes a bit. Still good for soul.

-Thurston Hunger

Chaos Majik – “Telestic Madness : Majikal Musick” – [Prison Tatt Records]

humana   4/25/2013   12-inch, A Library

First, the music. Side A is a warm, shimmery wash of ambient drone, extremely pleasant. B1 is a menacing whir of alien thunder, or a plane taking off to destinations unknown. B2 is more whirring drone noises and whistles. B3 is lighter, brighter, and more melodic. Todd Pendu recorded this ritual electronic music without computers on 1/11/11 between 11:11 am and 11:11 pm.

Ceramic Dog – “Your Turn” – [Northern Spy]

mickeyslim   4/24/2013   A Library, CD

Guitarist Marc Ribot teams up with Shahzad Ismaily and Secret Chiefs 3 drummer Ches Smith to make Ceramic Dog, releasing here their second album, Your Turn. Thirteen tracks of mostly raw crunchy guitar free-rock, but there are a few tracks sprinkled throughout that certainly make it more of an eclectic album.

7 instrumentals, and 6 tracks with vocals (of which come the different tracks). Third track is a social commentary on the Internet. Track 6 is a little reggae tune, track 7 is an old protest song with a killer guitar solo riffage after the vocals till the end. Track 11 is a rockin’ cover of Take 5, and 12 is hip-hopy reminiscent of the Beastie Boys. The rest are mostly rockin guitar instrumentals good for any show. Take your time with this, theres something different in every?? track.

Intrumentals: 2,4,5,8,9,11,13

Favorites: 1,4,7,8,12

FCC: 12

Total Normal – “Tales of The Expected” – [Momental Records]

mann   4/24/2013   A Library, CD

This is an electronica DJ mix album attempting that classick epicness- beats, basslines, instrument snippets, mistakes that go, dusted vocals, goofy-dope electonica shit with joyous the principal’s on whip-its let’s make summer forever vibe. Gives twisted nods to exotica, spoken word, Coldcut, Man Parrish (kinda), Colourbox, MARRS, the Avalanches, and even Juan Garcia MF Esquivel, I swear! I have fun listening to these weird and unique songs, saying to myself, oh I know where that’s from like I’ve heard the sample source before, knowing damn well that I have never heard that record and would have never even heard that sound if it wasn’t for Total Normal. It’s a good weave. These tracks bug out hard so they’re not just for fashion events, polo shirt bachelor douche-bags plotting mass murder or boutique drinking platform flip-flop wearers, I mean you could smoke bath salts, play whiffleball, do dishes and bang your girl to it too. I ride for this. Mann the General

Stetson, Colin – “New History Warfare Vol. 3: to See More Light” – [Constellation]

honeybear   4/24/2013   CD, Jazz

Dizzing, Angelic, Hypnotic. These are just a few of the words to describe Colin Stetson’s new album. The one man saxaphone phenom is back with his 3rd album in his “New Hisory Warfare” saga. With cosmic waves of sax riffs fill the mind with worlds that haven’t be explored yet. We can see them but we can’t feel them. Stetson acts as the vessle to connect us to places that haven’t been awoken inside of you. Like Coltraine o Ayler; Stetson breaths new life into the saxaphone and into non believers.


Hunt, Rollin – “Phoney, The” – [Moniker Records]

honeybear   4/24/2013   A Library, CD

This is what happens when you mix 50′ & 60’s R&B with a basement full of Syhtns. Rollin Hunt has dug out every keyboard, moog, synthasiser & sound manipulator he could get his hands on and decided to create a pop album. Steering away from his Lo-Fi Soul sound of his previous record. Hunt hits the ground running with “The Phoney”. it has the air of a later Flaming Lips albums but with Kraut Rock space out background effects. Looking to a more produced sound Hunt delivers a Classic Pop?? album but with a more up to date twist. Top 40 hits SHOULD sound like this!

Laila Je T’aime [coll] – [Mississippi Records]

surferrosa   4/24/2013   12-inch, International

Guitar music from the Western Sahel – A selection of field recordings taken by Christopher Kirkley between 2009- 2011. Recorded on site at locations near the riverside of Niger to the North Malian Desert. A guitar is hard to find in this part of the world, the instrument is often battered, fixed in makeshift ways and passed down from hand to hand over many years. The guitars on this recording have a gorgeous, unique tone.. they are either tuned to each other or to themselves.. The songs here are those of a communal fireside jam, dedicated to the passage of time, with the voices of musicians or listeners talking in the background or reacting to the music. The musicians here are listening to each other, conversing using their instruments, with a free and easy sense of rhythm that makes me want to sit out in the sunshine, sip on something, kick back and listen. The guitar here is often accompanied by other instruments, and always a soulful voice singing in french. Sounds like a combination of improvised jams and group songs which have been practiced many times by a circle of friends. The last song on side B is probably one of the best renditions of the Police’s Message in a Bottle you are likely to hear. Drop the needle anywhere, there is no going wrong. -Surfer Rosa

Rivers, Boyd – “You Can’t Make Me Doubt” – [Mississippi Records]

abacus   4/24/2013   12-inch, Blues

This gospel giant born Christmas day 1934 never seemed to get his voice heard much outside of the Mississippi area where he hailed from, though he did play a bit in France and Italy. Front porch country-blues stomp played clean with a hint of backwoods grit and some real raw twang. He pelts out these prayers with some big belly wailin’ and gap-tooth moans that really let out that spiritual energy rooted deep to the core. I hear they called him Reverend Boyd Rivers though who knows if he ever lead a sermon in his life. I did read that he sang in local churches around Madison County and had an ample supply of biblical anecdotes. Friendly and easygoing but also intense and passionate, he liked to hang out with his friends at JoJo’s gas station/convenience store on Highway 51, the main street of Pickens, MS, of which he lived 5 miles outside at the end of a two-mile long gravel road. I’m no religious man, but I would’ve liked to sit back and hear him preach. He died of a heart attack November 22 1993.

Alter Echo & E3 – “Kufic Dub” – [ZamZam Sounds]

mann   4/24/2013   7-inch, A Library

Following in the footsteps of dub luminaries Lee Perry and Scientist (AE&E3 have collaborated with both), these former BSI label-heads stay devoted to the true essence of dub even when they get out there in a modern way. They flatter with their imitations of traditional predecessors, but balance this fanboy inspiration with nuances that bring new characteristics to the dub-iverse. Echo-delay vocals are potted up naturally and don’t sound like samples, while sudden key riffing and tempo jumps/drops show that these are not loops; what starts as a sacrifice to the old gods mutates into the scribbles of the new electronic scripture that actually lives when the lasers start firing and the 2″ tape starts whirring in the back ground. Both are slow and stoney and play at 45. Mann the General

Dead C, The Vs. Rangda [coll] – [Ba Da Bing]

abacus   4/24/2013   12-inch, A Library

Lost Dead C recordings from the Eusa Kills sessions around 1989 and recordings of Rangda from 2010. Crunching, plodding death dirge from Dead C evolves into a swing dance atop the ashes of yesterday. Heavy on the apolitical contention with a hint of nihilist contentment, its like sipping on broken glass so fine it goes down smooth. A know nothing mind fart of muffled mayhem and primal deconstruction. On the Rangda side we get a delicate wash of emotional protuberance. Catharsis blossoms gleefully from the organic exchange between Chasny and Bishop fed by the photosynthetic energy of Corsano’s drums. The dynamic interplay remains gentle while crashing your senses like ocean waves on a solitary rock. While perhaps not the best introduction to the work of the two bands, these fine selections demonstrate the range of sonic abilities contained in a simple guitar-guitar-drums trio format.