Music Reviews

Kink Gong – “Tibetan Buddhism Trip” – [Akuphone]

Naysayer   7/2/2018   A Library, CD

Kink Gong, aka Laurent Jeanneau, has for years been recording ethnic minority groups primarily from Southeast Asia. With over 160 recordings, Laurent knows the lay of the sonic landscape. With “Tibetan Buddhism Trip”, two 20 minute tracks taken from his field recordings from Tibet and Yunan (China), Laurent creates a mesmerizing journey of trance and hallucinatory sound. By editing selections of field recording together and filtering in subtle yet noticeable electronic fiddlings, Jeanneau creates a new music, a new sound, a new interpretation of Tibetan Buddhist rites sounds. Each piece starts out somewhat quietly with vocal chanting, psalm reading and prayer being layered on top of each other. Then come drums, cymbals, bells, clapping, electronic buzz and fuzz, slight distortions, crowds, chanting, all layered over each other, faded in and faded out. The progression of sound increases to this kinetic frenzy then slowly pulls back. Hypnotic, lovely quality. A true head trip without digesting the ‘shroom.

Cornford, Stephen – “Electrocardiographs of a Cathode Ray Tube” – [A Wave Press]

Naysayer   7/1/2018   7-inch, A Library

I think the reason I like writing reviews is that it allows me to really let out a part of the real me that I don’t show because few folks would get it. Also, no one reads them anyway so I can say whatever. Such is the case for reviewing this glorious little 45, this HOT little piece of vinyl. First, the title. Just say it slowly and let it roll off your tongue: “Electrocardiographs of a Cathode Ray Tube”. Oh. My. God. What a turn on. Electrocardiographs of a cathode ray tube: what the hell is that and YES PLEASE!!!! Stephen Cornford created this piece. Stephen is an… wait, let me sit down… Stephen is an “installation artist and experimental musician who works by reconfiguring consumer electronics.” Wait, there’s more: by “repurposing Walkmans, TVs and other scrap heap finds, Stephen Cornford’s work erase the boundaries between music and sculpture.” This is THE SHIT, Stephen and you’re my man. I love this stuff so much. So what is it, really? In a performance of this piece in Firenze, Cornford described it as two cathode ray tube TVs amplified with brain wave sensors. The ECG pick-ups are attached to the TVs to amplify them. An amplifier, or oscillator, is fed into the TVs video input where he then picks up the TV screens electromagnetic emissions. He’s recording the energy of the tubes and seeing if they have a brainwave, so to speak. Fascinating, really and truly. The two sides of the 45 are gentle, repeating electronic heartbeats of static and fuzz. Variations occur with every pulse even though the pattern may at times seem similar. As each piece progresses, the differences in sound are more apparent. Everything is alive. Cornford also runs Consumer Waste Records which puts out electronic and electroacoustic recordings. Bravo.

Hutson, William – “- Six Or Seven Steps to The Door: Solo Improvisations” – [A Wave Press]

Naysayer   7/1/2018   A Library, CD

“Six Or Seven Steps…” by William Hutson is the stuff some of us at this station dream about, at least I do. Solo improvisations for reel-to-reel tape recorder, mixer, test tone generator, dictaphones, microphones and radios offers up some really exciting scratchy electronic static, pulses, hisses, etc. All so good and soothing. I find it soothing. The dictaphones make cool metallic echoey static. Each piece has intentional moments of silence, some up to 30 seconds, which are necessary to take in the variety of squelch. It is surprising to hear the variety of sounds coming from this mixture of devices. It’s also fun watching him manipulate these things live. Each piece is named after the day he recorded his improvisations and is dedicated to an author he had been reading prior to the recording. You really need to sit with it and appreciate the diversity. Art is work, folks. Also, Hutson is part of LA experimental hip hop group, Clippings, whose CD we have and which got lots of attention from the staff. More reason to give this current CD a listen.

Anderson, Casey – “Radios” – [A Wave Press]

Naysayer   7/1/2018   A Library, CD

When I was in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing several sets by electronic experimental artists who came out of the magic that is Cal Arts. So many amazing folks have come out of that program and here we have a sample of the continuing excellence from it. Casey Anderson is an artist working with sound in many different formats. He currently teaches at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. His work has been heard and seen at some prestigious institutions around the US including The Walker Art Center, MOCA Mass, Geffen Contemporary LA MOCA, Atlantic Center For the Arts. He also has his own label, A Wave Press, which puts out experimental electronic works. This CD, “Radios”, is 3 long tracks of radio station transmissions, mostly from the LA area. These are not cut up, fast changes, but minutes of shows, talk, adult contemporary hits. Listeners will think they got the wrong station. I thought I had accidentally hit the FM dial instead of CD when I first heard it. Each selection is filled with static, like not actually getting the station to come in clear, so that adds to the frustration and fascination. It becomes a bit hypnotic, listening to the advertisements, station IDs, and bad music selections that are part of our collective adult contemporary DNA. And then the static. It takes over but never dominates, making you listen closer to the waves of static sound. Radio love for sure. Track two has the addition of a chime being struck intermittently throughout the broadcasts which gives it this more academic feel. It’s really odd and wonderful. Don’t adjust the dial. We have the control.

Stop Touching My Cat [coll] – [Enormous Corpse Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/30/2018   A Library, CD

Kinda feels like a point in time when a Flying Saucer Attack
might have bursted through a bank of cLOUDDEAD? And turns
out the timing might fit. Here’s a collection of UK artists
united by their takes, breaks and mixmilk shakes on fellow
countryman SJ Esau’s 2005 “Wrong-Faced Cat Feed Collapse.”
This collection came out around the same time apparently.
Well, not all of the cat-cuts were by Brits, as Why (Yoni Wolf)
adds some great processing here, check “Note” (Likely tied to
Anticon in 2007 reissuing the original album.). Despite the
various artists, there is a consistent vibe to the album,
part of it is using SJ Esau’s (aka Sam Wisternoff’s) vox along
with some fairly floatational approaches, often laden with
laptop digi-tricks; see Why’s surging startling on “Note”, and
then the Countryside Alliances knob gliding and chopped up
beats. Rarg follows that with some Anglo-angel twinned femme
singing in front of thumpy drums, spy piano and lots of
chip-chop production. An excellent use of 7:20 of your life.
Track 13 feels like a whole lotta polyglot Scanner meets Konet
in math class. Es Verdad! “Impossible Sums” gets a secret revival
of sorts on an umarked track #15.
Esau/Wisternoff still works ears these days, but here’s a
recent sweet stab of his at the eyes https://vimeo.com/216411212
-Thurston Hunger
Beware track 14 ends @ 4:24, then 8 minutes of silence
track 15 then appears to be an alternate take on #13

Snapline – “Phenomena” – [Maybe Mars]

Thurston Hunger   6/30/2018   12-inch, A Library

2012 Chinese trio, minimal moody bass driven numbers
could take a full dance floor and pull apart all the
couples into singles spinning with dreams of Alan
Vega calling to them above in the rafters. Li Weisi
and Zhong Qiu used to be passengers in Carsick Cars
(KFJC added a 2007 release from that project in 2015).
Chen Xi sings in English, monotone mantra over a usually
stark hypnotic beat. Gatefold unfold the lyrics, his
deadpan delivery coupled with repeats gives each song
an additional spark of tension, but Li Weisi’s (aka
Levis) basslines are absolutely vital here. Zhong Qiu
squiggle-decorates space, some synth, some guitar. The
last two cuts with most prounounced electric guitar, for
a No-Wave Beijing razing. But I like the preceding tracks
as this band truly gets the less-is-more vibe, a little
spacy slide guitar, or some flickering keys there, it’s
a bleak but beckoning sound, like a strobe-light that can
double as a disintegration ray.

Potentially even more promising Snapline in 2017 were
supposed to record an album at GOK studios in Japan
(where many killer albums for the God Mountain label
were created). We need to work on our KFJC tunnel
beneath the Great Firewall to uncover more of the
Chinese underground. Some feedback drenched erhu
please…with circuit bending electronics.
-Thurston Hunger

Thollem / Clouser / Chase – “Dub Narcotic Session Vol.II” – [Personal Archives]

Thurston Hunger   6/30/2018   CD, Jazz

Sketchpad drumpad kits flits with jazz-ernatioanl.
Or is it rock, paper, boundaries exploded? I’ll
follow suit and put this in KFJC’s library next
to Vol 1 in “jazz” and you can listen with one
of many ears and hear electric Miles without a
trumpet I guess. Mostly it’s the improv instants
that propel this (and perhaps the crisp confines
of Calvin Johnson’s Dub Narcotic studios that
gives this album such lustre.) Key-never-bored
and air-on-fire guitar trade inspiration and
drummer Brian Chase (yeah from the Yeah Yeah
Yeahs) never misses a beat, or at least a
spritz with them cymbals. Vol 1, out in 2014,
featured a more dry Chase (toms and rolls)
while Thollem kept the piano humming/trilling.
Now adding guitarist Todd Clouser to the edginess,
allows Thollem more freedom to shift gears, react
and even lay back. Thollem brings in everything
from an Ethiopique taste to oblique honkey tonk,
from Gnawa nibbles to dark, sweaty colossal Rhodes.
There are three tracks here and I dunno maybe 50
potential songs. Clouser slashes with the Ex-like
striking chords, washes watercolor volume pedal,
and even summons Shakey’s “Dead Man” soundtrack.
And that’s all on “It’s a Drab” the opening
number, which 11 minutes into it, finds Thollem
working a soothing three chord tonic to close
the piece. Inspired by and inserted in art by
China Faith Star, a nice package by all involved.
-Thurston Hunger
Note: tracks have silent spaces between sections

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – “Taxidermy Frogs Copulating” – [BUFMS]

Thurston Hunger   6/30/2018   A Library, CD

Squeaky, squishy, rattle and twist, grip slipping oddities
gift wrapped and warped from the BuFMS crew. Samples
spin through, a waft of an aria or something slippery
against linoleum. At KFJC, we’re up to a dozen releases
from the band with an apostrophe catastrophe, this
one delivers a lot of insectoid improv throughout. When
“Cuisine of Southern India” is served up we get the flavor
of humor that the BLE excel at, some kind of Tipsy trip
to a Disneyland tune-in, turn-on and blast-off. It’s
followed by square dancing through a slinky sine-wave.
Fundraising phones on “Dank and Feral” followed by
“Lots of Afterbirth” (a rather scrapey affair with some
shortwave from a long peer). On #9, “Monsieur Mange-Tout”
chokes on his incredible edible plan while a caveman
plays ping-pong? Flipper flirtation on #11, I don’t
speak fluent dolphin, but from what I can tell that was
some saucey stuff. “Ouija Board” is summoned to close,
with letras espanol and Mother Goose gets cooked in new
commercial voice-over flavors. Possible toychestra homage?
Spin and spell casted. Another weird dose from dese
weirdos. You are the Paxton Gatekeeper.
-Thurston Hunger

Bunkbed – “Substance Abuse/ Grasping for Reasons” – [Let’s Go Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/30/2018   7-inch, A Library

We’re going to be tardy like it’s 1999. Maybe a Mitch
Lemay archival revival for local folks, dust to Duster,
ashes to the past and a shout-out to Streelight (grateful
that is still spinning in these digital daze.) Sang to
jangle with an old Merge feeling emerging. Bass slowly
rises as the guitar strum-strums-strums. Tears are
wiped away, perhaps by Jen helping out Keith with backup
vocals and a cashemere hug. “Subtance Abuse” never felt
sweeter, a sslow syrup poured into you, even if you are
cramping up in a fetal position. “Grasping for Reasons”
sounds like its sinking in the same sorrow boat, with
po’ ol’ cello typecast as the town crier going down
with the relationship. It’s a love song in decay, two
in the boat to start but by the end of the song,
they’ll be on different shores. Actually the cello
gets stronger and starts pushing him to safety.
Adding this, and the “Hero Zero” 7″ in 2018 shows
KFJC is a safe haven for long lost singles, at least of
the vinyl variety. Good luck to you and your ex in the
Thurston Hunger

Hero Zero – “Hero Zero” – [self]

Thurston Hunger   6/30/2018   7-inch, A Library

For as long as I’ve known her, KFJC has had
a fondness for the raw, for the rough and not
yet ready. For bands that sound like they
just got their instruments a couple of hours
ago. Call it punk or DIY or outsider or
lo-fi, whether it was made in the bedroom
or garage or Auntie Agatha’s laundry room,
the value of passion over precision is hard
to argue with…for me at least. I had these
thoughts listening to this and was going to
apologize to the band, but on checking the
actual record I see this is from 1994. So
you see KFJC welcomes abandoned bands even
if they salmon-jumped out of the mainstream
decades ago. Hopefully the guys in the band
will be driving around with their kids, and
when the iPod battery gets low, they’ll
switch on the car radio and here this rough
Electrified guitar ricochets around with a
hint of cowpunk (played with a cattle-prod?),
drums are great and enthusiastic and thin.
They kind of chase after the song, then the
song turns around and chases after them.
Side 1 ends with chatter about skittles and
nerds, the other side has a zero-calorie
track allegedly. Well hand-written mention
of a track “17G” but it exists outside of
space and time and groove and discogs.com.
Is the band name a ref to Schoolhouse
Rock, or some psychic/sonic connection to
Royal Trux.
Good stuff, better times. -Old Man Hunger

Kuehn, Mikael – “Object Shadow” – [New Focus]

Thurston Hunger   6/30/2018   A Library, CD

Call it modern classical, compositions with a hint of soundtrack
and a (very) remote West Coast jazz flair. Well, I can picture a
detective on some of them. Compositions are loaded with what feel
like questions, uneasy revealing of notes, sneaky snakey ones at
that. Much use of the percussive epiphany, a single strike often
emphasized by the lingering reverb of a vibe/marimba/piano. Is it
the cold slap of an interrogator? Strings are spies, sharp as
razor-wire. #3 and #5 invite electroacoustics into the mix, they
deftly blend in, camoflauged by cello on “Chiaroscuro” and
lurking behind a lineup of saxes on “Objet/Ombre.” On both
cuts the electronics add drone and darkness to the atmosphere.
Solo marimba on “Devouring Time” is as warm as it gets, then
solo acoustic guitar on “Unfoldings” an apt description for
much of this CD, or maybe *Disarmings* as in trying not to
detonate an IED. Things. Are. Tense. Listeners may need an
alibi after listening to this. Clearly they got to whoever
assembled the booklet (looks like a staplecide)
More info on the composer at http://mikelkuehn.com/
-Thurston Hunger

Ashley, Greg – “Fiction Is Non Fiction” – [Dusty Medical Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/30/2018   12-inch, A Library

The statues have eyes, and they’re listening. Side A is languid
with a hint of mourning, an homage to a departed lover, an
air of a suicide, and a hint of overdose/homicide at the
doorstep. Ashley’s voice is relaxed, warm but worn. The
guitar is acoustic, the songs are ballads, even the closing
Sonic Youth cover gets a make-over a downtempo shift. Flip
the record and the switch and electric guitars rain on
“Fuck the Army” and “Blondes and Cyanide” but after that
“Gabriela” bailes con un piano (Adrien Leonard provides
some pretty great keys throughout.) That is followed by
the return of the spectre sinester, an acoustic lament
for friends claimed by an addiction to New York and
heroin. The song is gentle/pretty but its uneasy thorns
in an easier listen. Perhaps places as the darkness
before the dawn, “Blue Azul” still strummy, the album
carries a C&W flair to the French studios where Ashley
and friends recorded it. “Blue Azul” has a call to be
through with nihilism, and savor existence. A good plan
hope always, like a yodel though, it can be difficult
to pull off. But Ashley gives ’em a go, better to be
alive than a statue cloaked in tears.
Thurston “fear of mortality” Hunger

Macronympha/din-i-ilahi [coll] – [Bizarre Audio Arts]

lexi glass   6/26/2018   A Library, Cassette

This 2018 release comes to us from Bizarre Audio Arts, a label that often pairs up some of the major names in noise/experimental music for split cassettes. The label’s founder, Leo Sabatto makes up half of the current lineup of the enduring Pittsburgh noise project Macronympha, with founding member Joseph Roemer. Their track is on Side A of this glitter-flecked cassette, and on the flip side is din-i-ilashi, the solo project of Japanese electronic artist Osamu Kishimoto.

“Sure Thing to Do” (A) begins two parallel layers of corroded sound – whistling feedback and wandering dark melody. Six minutes in the track arrives as the sounds launch into a massive and teeming wall of noise. The real centerpiece of the track is the breakneck blast beat that emerges about halfway in, takes center stage, and then pummels its way through screams, sparks until the tape runs out. The B side track, “Non-Doership” as you might guess from the title never reaches the same level intensity. Instead Kishimoto pursues dynamics and flow, with ringing carnival tones moving into unpredictable whorls of static, feedback, laser beams and buried songs.

Cunts – “Your Wife” – [Self-release]

lexi glass   6/26/2018   A Library, Cassette

Self-released 2017 EP from this Japanese grindcore duo of Fuckin’ A and Frozen Panty, not to be confused with the other Cunts in our library. Drums and vocals ONLY. Drummer Fuckin’ A delivers total destruction, alternating his playing from machine-gun precision to a total sloppy mess, while Frozen Panty howls, slobbers, speaks in tongues like a raving lunatic. Each side of the tape is a quick blast of projectile vomit and other bodily fluids – within five minutes the load’s blown.

Perturbator – “Uncanny Valley, The” – [Blood Music]

Naysayer   6/25/2018   A Library, CD

God, yes!!!!!!! Pounding pounding pounding with layered respect to the 1980’s. Synth never sounded so right. It’s the future / it’s the past. It’s futuresynth/cybersynth/synthwave. So many names. So good. Perturbator is Paris’s own James Kent, and Kent knows what he is doing. With his toes also in his death metal band, his composing for video games as Perturbator, plus parents who were in a drone band, he’s got some good cred. Not as fast as Dan Terminus but equally dark and atmosperic with a continuous beat. Synth heavy with continuous nods to 1980’s like Klaus Schultz and Tangerine Dream, plus those Miami Vice sounds. Each track is like a mini soundtrack to a futuristic movie. And the future is the fetish: chaos, children with weapons, Tokyo worship, machine take over, dark manga, digital control. These are the underlying or blatant themes. The sounds reflecting are heavy beats, often slower than most dance clubs, layered synth rhythms swirling around each other, fading in and out of the beats throughout, dark and thick bass lines. This stuff is it. Put out by the brilliant Helsinki label, Blood Music.

Pino, Mark & Hertz, Jack – “Live At The Luggage Store” – Naysayer

Naysayer   6/25/2018   A Library, CD

Mark Pino and Jack Hertz are familiar members of the Bay area improvisational, experimental, electronic music scene as well as good friends of KFJC. They both perform solo and with so many other musicians too numerous to mention. Hertz is electronics and Pino is usually percussion. Both are stellar, accomplished musicians that I have huge respect for. Oddly, they had never collaborated together as a duo so it was bound to happen. “Live At The Luggage Store” is their first CD of their first live performance together and it is astounding. When they performed 2 extended sets Live In The Pit at KFJC, I was struck by how comfortable they were with each other, easily playing off of, around and with each other’s music. This recording captures that ease and assuredness. Pino is percussion light on this recording, making subtle marks of sound which accentuate and penetrate the electronic sound field. His inclusion of flutes plus electronics adds to the shamanistic drone quality of the experience. But really listen for the waterphone, a strange and beautiful instrument which Mark uses to pull out nuanced subtle drone-like patterns as well as haunting reverberations laying down the field of “sonic magic”. Hertz is a master of electronics and on this recording he includes apps and looping. The electronic sound collage never dominates or interferes with all that is going on but adds to and focuses the layers. His electronic explorations may at times burst out, but never overwhelm. Rather they are an emphasis. The lulling, wavering patterns that flow and float through the set keep the listener guessing with a smile. Just stellar sounds.

Controlled Death – “Symphony For The Black Murder” – [Urashima]

Lord Gravestench   6/23/2018   12-inch, A Library

Maso Yamazaki is a Japanese sound experimenter best known for his harsh noise work as Masonna, with which, alongside such artistes as Incapacitants, Merzbow and Hijokaidan, he helped to define the Japanese harsh noise sound. Now at the age of 51 he has unveiled a brand-new project that is so fresh and so vital it scares the shit out of me.

Controlled death may refer to the surgical practice of inducing temporary clinical death (stopping the heart and lungs) in a patient at an extremely low temperature, a state known as deep hypothermic circulatory arrest, in which the unfortunate may be kept ‘dead’ for as long as 30 minutes without damaging the brain. If that is the source of this project’s name, it not only matches the aesthetic, but also gets at the sense of control and rigor present thoughout these compositions.

The Italian label Urashima specializes in cold and nasty Power Electronics and Death Industrial sounds, and they do a lot of reissues— we have great ones from Taint, Bizarre Uproar and Vidna Obmana in the library. This 2018 release, which could easily pass for a reissue itself of some old cassette from the early 90s, sees synth fetishist Maso explore Urashima’s favourite style. This is perverse, intense, harsh Industrial based on pulsing synthesizers and ingeniously employed effects pedals, with the occasional echoing shriek of torment thrown into the blender and chopped up. It feels so much like a conscious tribute to Marco Corbelli of Italy’s Atrax Morgue (of which Urashima just issued a massive box set) and his ghoulish Slaughter Productions label that I would be surprised to learn otherwise. Everything on this record is so well done, and so inspired, that I am convinced Maso’s been studying these styles of weirdo electronic music for years. Now he has entered the conversation himself, and I hope he releases more.

Williamson, James & Pink Hearts, The – “Behind The Shade” – [Leopard Lady]

humana   6/23/2018   A Library, CD

Just in time for the summer heat waves comes this debut from James Williamson (former Stooges guitarist) and the Pink Hearts. His vocals and guitars, combined with Petra Haden’s vocals and violin, and Frank Meyer’s vocals and guitars, along with a bevy of talented musicians, keep you cool with the rock and roll of stellar songs. Try out “This Garden Lies” (6) and “Purple Moon” (7). All of it will keep you “Behind the Shade” (10) and grooving in your shoes.