KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Califone – “Heron King Blues ” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

mitch   12/16/2003   12-inch, A Library

Hot on the heels of 2003???s ???Quicksand / Cradlesnakes??? comes this concept LP
of recurring dream and Druid legend. A half-man, half-bird figure of legend
haunts these sprawling mirages of ancient battle and laconic, ethereal interim;
squalls of darkness patch themselves between melodic loam and numerological
tension alongside the mercy and revenge of elephant-horns, muted drums,
pump organ, slide guitar, treated piano, violin, fretless banjo and omnipresent
electronic looping. The vision belongs to vocalist Tim Rutili, along with bandmates
Ben Massarella (percussion), Jim Becker (guitars, keyboards) and Joe Adamik
(reeds, horns) and is brought to realization with producer Michael Krassner &
the usual Chicago all-star sessioneers : Wil Hendricks (bass), Fred Lonberg Holm
(cello), et. al. A product of extemporaneous creation in the studio and the
spectre of metaphysics outside of it, Rutili is a long long way from RED RED MEAT
days ??? though the riverbeds still swirl with enigma, it is the topography of semi-
coma that now presupposes symbolism, moving CALIFONE toward a more
compelling interpretation of an ancient future.
MITCH December 2003

Trio S s/t [Zitherine]

Thurston Hunger   12/10/2003   CD, Format, Jazz

To say this is a trio of three Robert Horry’s probably
doesn’t mean much, so I shouldn’t start the review that
way. That might mislead, like “Majorca” the leadoff cut
on this eponymous Trio S release. “Majorca” bristles w/
a Tony Conrad/Amps for Christ power, that evaporates for
the remainder of the album. It’s not bad, it’s just that
it’s like a body with a different head. The rest of the
album laps at your ears…soft raindrops on shallow pools
of sound…well the “Russian” Anthony’s River is a 20
second exception. Read Wieselman’s notes on all-natural
perceived melodies…and relax to the flow of this album.
Me, I’ll be pacing next door hoping that Trio S’ next
effort features pursued inorganic melodies…built with
more air and fire, and covered in loamier foam.

Malachi Thompson and Africa Brass “Blue Jazz” [Delmark]

Thurston Hunger   12/3/2003   CD, Format, Jazz

Malachi Thompson is 30 years down the AACM/Chicago
railroad tracks. This album kicks off with an “And the
Grammy goes to…” solid but glossy vibe. But along
comes “Genesis/Rebirth” the closer to Thompson’s Black
Metropolis Suite. The sweet toe-tappin’ evaporates,
and a heart-stoppin’ composition rises like a new sun
in an old sky. Slight flamenco flares arc off Harrison
Bankhead’s bass; the Africa Brass octet which earlier
were turning on dimes, polishing the bop now construct
a slow monolith for Steve Berry to ponder over…until
there’s these crazy feudal/futuristic fanfare. Then
saxist Ari Brown gets a chance to wail on this triumph
of a track. That heaviness keeps a rolling into the
thick bluesy Louis Armstrong triptych tribute. Dee
Alexander starts that on the dark side of the moan,
it then jumps a train and ends as a playful talking
blues against Berry and Brown, now on clarinet. Read
the booklet’s understory arguing against divisions of
blues versus jazz in words, the best argument is the
music… Ends up in fun at the “Mudhole.”

Yoshimi & Yuka “Flower with No Color” [Ipecac]

Thurston Hunger   10/29/2003   A Library, CD, Format

Avant-exotica? Much in the vein of Yoshimi’s
earlier picture disk. The other reason “Y”
is Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto, who adds a lot
of tinkling key work. Yoshimi also brings
the trumpet more to the front at times,
it has appeared a little bit in her OOIOO
project. Nuns on mescaline singing/keening
in parts…and lot’s o’ fauna doing backup
vox (birds, dogs and insects). As legend,
or perhaps just marketing, has it…this
CD was created at a temple atop Mt. Ikoma
after hiking all of the instruments up
there. (So I guess that’s an electric
piano on much of the album ;>) I prefer
the tracks where the “bamboo” percussion
makes an early entrance. En trance in
trance tranq quill trance end.

Aichinger, Oskar “Synapsis” [Between-the-Lines]

Thurston Hunger   10/27/2003   A Library, CD, Format

Vienna-based pianist delivers a precise and poetic
release. His quartet here includes Stefan Nemeth on
synthesizer, their interplay is like a dog and a cat
that get along…somewhat surprising and all the more
enjoyable to observe because of that. Territories are
not marked strictly, and at times prepared treatment
for Oskar blurs the line where the piano stops. Much
of the work here has a crystalline beauty; precise
stops in phrases (like question marks hanging), quick
but bright clusters, and lighter than air work on the
upper 44 keys. Deep sea bass work by Achim Tang (with
some scrubbing/bowing) and percussive punctuation by
Paul Skrepek add significantly. The invisible fifth
member of the quartet is Christoph Amman, who captured
this in a gorgeous recording, don’t miss it.

Matmos “The Civil War” [Matador]

Thurston Hunger   10/21/2003   A Library, CD, Format

Hard to separate the irony from the gold, hard to
filter the sample from the directly generated (or
should I say degenerated) sound. Perhaps that is the
split in this war? Or could it be that Drew Daniel
and M.C. Schmidt find themselves at each other’s
throats after jetsetting about as Bjork-End BoyToys?
Well if they are each others throats, it is only to
record the sound of blood in the carotid artery
(that and music made from rabbit pelt are purportedly
among the sonic inputs at work here). Listen to their
rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever” these guys
may be too clever for their own good. But this is
the future, sampling not as a mode of deconstruction
but rather Reconstruction. And perhaps that would
have been a more fitting title to this album of
mechano-server marches and madness? Having seen
them with her Bjorkness, I hope beyond innovation
and technique, they will help lead a rallying of
performance and presentation, a point where power
electronics is often all mouse, no man.

Berne, Tim and Science Friction “the sublime and.” [Thirsty Ear]

Thurston Hunger   10/9/2003   CD, Format, Jazz

Science Friction is Berne’s latest group, with
some familiar figures. Marc Ducret on electric
guitar is somehow able to insert notes between
the fiery charges of Berne’s alto. He’s just a
tremendous guitarist, who we should hear more
of…his use of volume washes works well with
the keys and electronics of Craig Taborn. When
Taborn is leading, this album can prick up
some prog rock ears…but this is really an
explosive jazz album, that gets the Blue Series
nod thanks to the electronics (not just Taborn,
visit “Mrs. Subliminal” to hear Tim dabbling
in delay. Tom Rainey remains Berne’s reigning
drummer king. His looseness fits well with the
dizzying work here. I actually live for the
moments when a few of the scored bars kick in.
Those sections are hairpin tight and move
quickly in unexpected directions. “Smallfry”
is unique in its ice cracking ambience. This
is all live, no safety net.

Kaito – “Band Red” – [Spinart]

Thurston Hunger   8/6/2003   A Library, CD

Noise pop deluxe. Tangled hair and broken guitar
strings…pull ’em out the skin and let the lady
scream/sing. That ain’t no lady, it’s Nikki Colk.
Punky and profficient. And pile on petulant as
well. Her vocals would make a snail panic. Her
voice flails, often over a raucous chorus. Those
choruses sound like chipmunks at kung fu class.
At times Colk’s lead voice has the fideliy of
a fast-food drive-up-window. Sophomore release
from these Brighton’d whites thrills with shrill.
But it delivers….rarely relaxing the pace.
“Nothin New” is kinda dainty, “Moi” is a cuckoo
clock in a cowboy hat. “3am” is the comedown,
passed out in a grandfather clock. Lyrics read
as though lifted from diaries before sobering up.
Guitar goes 90 mph the wrong way on the xpressway
to yer skull. Don’t forget to rock?

-Thurston Hunger

Smog – “Accumulation: None” – [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   4/3/2003   12-inch, A Library

Flotsam and sinksam from Bill Callahan. Well
captured in oft rough recordings. We’ve got
vapor-lock blues, anti-rock star heroics
(“It’s Not Gonna Be a Hit”) and the ol’
Smog favorite, collapsible relationships.
He seems like a guy who’s counting on the
big nasty breakup even in the honeymoon
phase of a relationship. (“I Break Horses”)
There’s a flare somehow in the flatness of
Callahan’s voice, and as well as anyone
he can make the lurid, alluring. I like
the fact that many Smog songs, when they hit
the spot where the bridge should come they
almost go flatline. Hell, the songs start
off with pretty economical lyrics and guitar
playing and then they lose their shirt and
their way for awhile….till the next verse
comes along and gives ’em a ride back to
tune. On the lighter side, Callahan does
quote “Baby’s Got Back” on the tail end
(where else) of “Real Live Dress”
-Thurston Hunger

Smog – “Supper” – [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   4/3/2003   A Library, CD

A new release going up at the same time as
his Accumulation time capsule. Bill Callahan
has the detached disdain handed down through
various undergrounds, Velvet and otherwise.
The sharpness of his lyrics, and his acerbic
stage persona always command my attention.
The songs here are less dilapidated as he’s
got a real live band behind him, and his
fondness/fiendishness with the femme fatales
has been displaced by a love of conundrums.
There’s some solid cognitive dissonance he’s
dishing out…and “Truth Serum” and “Guiding
Light” are just well crafted.
-Thurston Hunger

Jackie-O Motherfucker – “Change” – [Textile Records]

Daryl Licht   3/22/2003   12-inch, A Library

Jackie-O Mofo checks in with this field report as they continue on their journey
down the path of musical exploration and cut-out bin obscurity. Always a fairly
‘free? unit, Jackie-O has toned down the louder, more raucous elements of
their earlier releases in favor of a more textured, organic approach. The
opening track, ‘Everyday?, sets the standard for that new (sub)genre that all
the alleged ‘Americana? experts have completely missed: late-night, downcast,
‘free country?. ‘Sun Ray Harvester? is an eastern-tinged piece of atmospheric,
bang and clatter, basement improv/psych. ‘7″ is a 47 second waste of vinyl.
‘777 (Tombstone Massive)? mines a similar vein as ‘Sun Ray Harvester? ,
except the eastern influences are replaced by more jazzy elements and the
track is way more chaotic, in general, due to the abrupt changes that occur as
a result of the track’s ‘cut and paste? editing.The album’s final track, ‘Fantasy
Hay Co-Op? is another tense, late-night offering that centers around a couple
of repetitive figures and is, as a result, more focused and satisfying (IMHO) than
‘777 (Tombstone Massive)? . Overall, this is quite an interesting and enjoyable
release. Play! DL

Kinski – “Airs Above Your Station ” – [Subpop]

Daryl Licht   3/17/2003   12-inch, A Library

After 30+ years of psych/spacerock, it takes something pretty special to really make an
impact on me. Unfortunately, this latest full-length from Seattle’s Kinski (their third) is
not such an album. It is, however, an enjoyable record of (mostly) instrumental contemporary psych/spacerock, filled with the standard elements of the (sub)genre: analogue synth tones and drones, Krautrock rhythms, and thick, shoegaze, distorto-haze, applied in different combinations and intensities on various tracks to create music that is at some times spare, delicate, and melodic and other times is propulsive and soaring. ‘Semaphore? (which should already be familar to you, as a live version of it was included, under a different title, on KFJC’s, ?…Devil’s Triangle, Vol. 4? compilation) and ‘Rhode Island Feakout? are the most straight-up rockers on the album. Both versions of ‘I Think I Blew It? are blissed out, ambient solo pieces by leader Chris (Ampbuzz) Martin. I find ‘Your Lights Are (Out Or) Burning Badly? to be reminiscent of GYBE, but in a shorter and way stripped down form. ‘Schedule For Using Pillows And Beanbags? is the album’s epic centerpiece. As I said, certainly nothing groundbreaking, but still an enjoyable listening experience. DL

Migrantes – “Monsoon Moods ” – [Eclipse Records]

Daryl Licht   2/19/2003   12-inch, A Library

This is the second full-length release from the Arizona Duo, Migrantes.
Two tracks (A2 and B2) are actual songs in a folk psych vein. The
remaining four tracks are more ‘otherworldly?, Featuring mainly droning
organ and Caroline’s ethereal, effected vocals. ‘Gesture?, which
features Jason on electric guitar, is the most loud/aggressive of these
tracks, while ‘Baboquivari?, offers the most pure drone bliss. A nice
soundtrack for rainy days and late nights. For those about to float…DL

Davis Redford Triad – “Code Orange ” – [Holy Mountain]

Daryl Licht   2/5/2003   A Library, CD

Hot on the heels of their recent stunning live performances (one at the Hemlock and one here
at KFJC), comes this new disc from the Davis Redford Triad. ‘Code Orange? is a live collage of
performances from their Spring 2002 tour. It includes material from their prvious releases, as
well as rocked-out, electric versions of material from leader Steven Wray Lobdell’s excellent solo
album, ‘Automatic Writing By The Moon?. In addition, there are three new pieces, which will
appear onthe next DRT studio album. All the tracks are instrumental psych jams, some more
Krautrock influenced, others more middle-eastern tinged, but all driven by the unique,
effects-laden, colorful sonic attack of Lobdell and his old ES335. Overall, this certainly is worth a
spin or two, but I can’t deny that it seems a little pale in comparison to the scorching brilliance of
their recent shows. More proof that Dolphy was right. DL

Shipp, Matthew – “Equilibrium ” – [Thirsty Ear Recordings]

Daryl Licht   1/15/2003   CD, Jazz

Anybody who has been at KFJC for, oh, more than a week or two, should already
know that Matthew Shipp is widely regarded as the finest pianist in Jazz today.
What is, perhaps, even more impressive to me than his incredible talent as a pianist,
is the fact that he continues to explore new territories, rather than resting on his
laurels. He could easily and, quite rightly, be satisfied with the adulation of his
coll and fans and withy the fact that he, unlike the majority musicians of any style, can
make a living creating music he loves. But Shipp, through both his performances and
his work as curator of Thirsty Ear’s peerless ‘Blue Series?, continues to push his limits
and expand the concept of what Jazz is and can be. This outstanding release is the
logical ‘next step? down Shipp’s personal path of sonic exploration, in that it brings
together all the aspects of his recent recordings into a seamless mix of Jazz, beats,
and electronic music. There are tracks (3) that remind you of the organic, ambient,
post-music soundscapes of the ‘New Orbit? CD. There are tracks (2 and 4) that mix
Jazz with electronics and beats, as heard on the ‘Nu Bop? CD. The remaining
material is reminiscent of his ‘Pastoral Compusure? CD, in that fairly ‘straight ahead?
Jazz tracks combine, in a less heavy handed manner, some of the elements described
above to organically morph into a more modern, new form of Jazz. This is a brilliant
album that, truly, can (and should) be played on almost every show. Don’t be afraid of
the blue dot. Enjoy!!! DL

Sole – “Selling Live Water ” – [Anticon.]

Daryl Licht   1/9/2003   12-inch, Hip Hop

Anticon member, Sole, returns with a very ambitious and successful
second full-length release. Musically, he throws everything but the
kitchen sink at you, as jazzy horns, vibes, ambient drones, bleeding
Krautrock electronics, and seductive pop guitars are all integrated
quite comfortably with traditional hip-hop beats, scratches, and
classic soul samples. Lyrically, he also covers a lot of ground, with
compelling rants about things we can all relate to (work, relationships,
life/death, geo-politics) and deeply personal, soul baring sketches
(that you also might be able to relate to, depending on your particular
psychoses), as well. Overall, this is a stunning release that fulfills the
goals of the Anticon’mission statement? by transcending the
traditional preconceptions/lmitations regarding what hip-hop is and/or
could/should be. Music for the advancement of hip-hop, indeed! Play! DL

Drake, Hamid and Assif Tsahar – “Soul Bodies, Vol. 1 ” – [Ayler Records]

Daryl Licht   1/6/2003   CD, Jazz

Having been duly impressed with, ‘Piercing The Veil?, Drake’s outstanding
2001 duo release with William Parker, I was looking forward to this release
with great anticipation. As the liner notes indicate, Drake is currently one of
the most respected percussionists in the Free Jazz scene and, like Parker, his
playing impresses in seemingly every context. Tsahar, while less known, has
been a major contributor in the NYC Free Jazz scene for the last decade or so,
through his performances and his efforts as the head of Hopscotch Records
and co-founder of the awesome Vision Festival. After the useless introduction
track, there are three lenghty tracks. Two of them (the first and third tracks)
are awesome freedom chases that are reminiscent of John Coltrane’s duo
blowouts with Rashid Ali. The first of these, ‘Soul Bodies?, starts out slowly,
with Tsahar soloing, before it really takes off; whereas the latter, ‘Heart’s Mind?
is pretty scorching from beginning to end. The second track, ‘Clay Dancers?, is
an excellent Middle-Eastern flavored piece in which Drake chants in Arabic
while playing the frame drumand Tsahar adds some very tasteful bass clarinet.
Excellent! DL

Howard, Noah – “Live at the Unity Temple” – [Ayler Records]

Daryl Licht   12/18/2002   CD, Jazz

Like all but the biggest names in free jazz, Noah Howard has labored in relative obscurity for many
years, despite performing with such luminaries as Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, and Sun Ra and
having releases on such legendary labels as ESP, Freedom, and so on. On this release, Howard
leads his long-running and very tight quartet through five original compositions, including two of
his signature pieces, ‘The Blessing? and ‘Schizophrenic Blues?. Howard’s playing is crisp,
melodic, and clear: alternating intense freedom chases with passages of mournful,
Coleman-esque alto wailing. Pianist Bobby Few is also quite impressive on this date, providing an appropriate foundation in every instance for Howard’s alto flights. In fact, my only real complaint
with this release is that Few’s incredible assaults on the keyboard are often times difficult to fully
hear (and appreciate) amongst Howard and Duncan’s sonic attack; such is the nature of live to
two track recordings. Overall, a very satisfying blast of free jazz – enjoy! DL

Mus /Coti Split Single [coll] – [Pop Art Records]

mitch   7/16/2002   A Library, CD

COTI is famed producer/sound engineer on the Greek electronic
indie scene; he has 2 LPs out on of mostly ambient
electro melodics, and one more recent on that veers
toward a deep listening, gentle Moor Music / harmonious landscape.
???Crab Promenade??? is an outtake for those sessions, using a seaside
melody as backdrop, it skips along over ascetic rocks & sensual
whirlpools in an unflagging example of clean + sedate parallel melo-
harmonics/percussive electronica. Much the left-brain at the beach
to this, the left side, that is. The MUS track previously appeared on
???Little Darla Has a Treat For You V. 18???, and strolls the fashion
runway with a definite andalusian couture; subtle, stylish & serene ???
small jacket, flared skirt over layers of lace and tulle, detailed perhaps
with beaded frills and a bliss-out of pristine dimensions. Delectable,
of elaborate embroidery, as if finding a slow moment in this messy
world, ???Dexase Apagar??? is a pause of serenity in a swelter of frivolity.
Sanguine sounds from Greece and Spain.
MITCH July 2002

Carissa’s Wierd – “You Should Be at Home Here ” – [Brown Records]

mitch   7/16/2002   A Library, CD

Improving on debut, ???Ugly But Honest???, producer Chris Walla
delivers a recording of immediate/emotional power within a
carefully balanced parameter of acoustic string instruments,
resonant lo-fi percussion and songs that are like secrets,
veiled in violin & whispered in sleeping beauteous emulsion.
CARISSA???S WEIRD founders Mat Brooke + Jean Ghetto
front this 5-piece, which also includes accordionist Jeff Hellis,
Sarah Standard on violin & drummer Ben Bridwell; having
emigrated from Tucson AZ to Seattle with dreams of wistful
contemplation (note somber tones + musical shades of grey)
and a not-to-be-outdone riffing that adds a nice low-end punch
to the material. Picks???.???Brooke Daniel???s Tiny Broken Fingers???
???I did not think those screams were for real???.??? Opening with a
woeful violin line, it arrives finally with a medical solution???.the
haunted ???The Color That Your Eyes Changed??? is a sad, blurred
waltz of elegant harmony & displacement???..???Blessed Arms That
Hold You Tight??? is Ghetto???s finest moment???.??????it???s all long good-
byes???..??? sung with such an ephemeral nondeliberation of beauty
that it becomes clear why the band scribbled out their lyrics in the
accompanying booklet???.no point in overstating the obvious.
MITCH July 2002