KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Otherworld Ensemble – “Live At Malmitalo” – [Edgetone Records]

Cousin Mary   5/10/2018   CD, Jazz

Oakland musician and Outsound New Music Summit organizer Rent Romus takes his sax and flute to Helsinki, Finland where he is joined by excellent Finnish musicians to make this remarkable live 2017 album.  Very weird but very beautiful and listenable.  Sound is terrific, lovely tones from all instruments.  The tracks do not remind me of anything I have heard before and that’s a good thing.  (A kantele is a traditional Finnish zither.)

Hill, Andrew – “Black Fire” – [Blue Note]

Cousin Mary   5/10/2018   CD, Jazz

Hard bop meets avant garde in this outstanding session from 1963.  Original recording and remastering were both done by Rudy Van Gelder.  Excellent piano from leader Andrew Hill, stunning “side men” include Joe Henderson on sax, Richard Davis on bass, Roy Haynes on drums.  Does it get any better than that?  Edgy and marvelous.

Reg Bloor – “Sensory Irritation Chamber” – [Systems Neutralizers]

lexi glass   5/8/2018   A Library, CD

Solo guitar carnage from Reg Bloor, an NYC experimental/metal guitarist. Bloor went solo recently, starting with her excellent 2015 release Themes for an Imaginary Slasher. Before that, she played in Glenn Branca’s ensemble for nearly two decades, served as concertmaster for several of his symphonies for 100 guitars (she and Branca are married), and collaborated with Bowie, Thurston Moore, GYBE and others. Bloor wields her axe fearsomely, churning out dissonant melodies that slash like a thousand blazing knives. Some pieces move in precise, repetitive melodic cycles, like the climactic bloody scene in a horror film playing in an awful continuous loop. In others, the guitar notes are blurred into a thick blackout. Brutal and brilliant.

Paradise Bangkok The Album : Vol. 2 [coll] – [Paradise Bangkok]

Thurston Hunger   5/5/2018   12-inch, International


Served up by ZudRangMa records in Bangkok,
a fantastic store run with keen (and khaen)
love by Maft Sai (connections to next door
Studio Lam where Molam and Luk Thung artists
often perform). Traditional flavors are strong
but varied on this collection of their label’s
recent 45s. Opening with the towering power of
the khaen (a bamboo pipe organ that sends
skyscrapers of sound out of one’s mouth). The
vocal stylings are so great, kicking up a kind
of gymnastic percussion that dances over drums
and other skins. Check out Chanpen Pornaswan
(B2) for a sterling example, or for the male
counterpoint of view, Aa Jaan Jitakorn Molam
Group (B3) for that surging form of singing.
(B1) actually goes all in with onomatopoeia
on “Ding Ding Dong.” That piece feels like
an island sound system with its proud horn
punctuation and killer drummer. So much
style, swervy and hypnotic. Even without
vocals, “Lam Plearn Diew Khaen Diew Phin”
and “A Ba Ni Bi” have dance floor beckoning
beats that slide up to you, A3 a jangley
bouncer, while B4 is a vibraphone groover.
I like to pretend Onuma Singsiri’s (A4)
song is some kind of Thai darkwave, but
the initial Joy Division blotted out by funky
sproingy synths and her “how ow how ow ow”
quick cadences. All solid but do NOT miss
Warin Shinaraj (A2) it transports me every
time, not to Bangkok, straight to Paradise.
Her voice lingers on notes then darts away
the guitar and drum anapestically waiting
on every word, ending with a strange calming
blend of laughter and piano ripples. Wow!
New York vs Noo Yaak! We all win.
-Thurston Hunger

Anderson, Marisa – “Traditional & Public Domain Songs” – [Mississippi Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/5/2018   12-inch, Blues


No stranger to KFJC’s airwaves, Marisa Anderson
unites with Portland powerhouse Mississippi Records
to reissue her 2013 release of an homage not just
to the Traditional Songs of the title, but to the
guitar. It’s all instrumental, and all electric,
and weaves between reference and reverence. She
can pluck gentle and clean as on “Farther Along”
or tiptoe near the third wire that Junior Kimbrough
use to ride with “Pretty Polly.” Songs that are
pulled deep from the heartland, if not the heart
of this country appear : “May The Circle Be Unbroken”
and “Amazing Grace.” But Marisa’s domain extends
beyond natural and sonic borders, “Bella Ciao”
is indeed beautiful, and builds up a nice storm set
of chords. Dig the super reverb recoil on “Johnny
I Hardly Knew Ye.” A lot of the album has a solemn
and introspective vibe, often soothing but not without
a bout of bitterness. That being said, she concludes
with a downright jouncy “When the Roll Is Called Up
Yonder.” Perhaps that is the arc of the blues, to
struggle humbly and with grace, but carry a heavy
weight till we hit our run-out groove and the
needle rises with us to the skies.
-Thurston Hunger

Lilou and John – “Patriot Child” – [Self Produced]

Thurston Hunger   5/5/2018   A Library, CD


Drunk punk duo out of Sweden, well drunk is
a bit unfair as the topics of their lyrics are
sobering, but the rock on display here is
dive-bar distorted and grasping for a 2am
closing anthem vibe. The signature of the duo
(deviating from their folk roots, but not thaat
much) is the warble of Lilou. Raw emotion rasps
her throat and a vibrato attacks without warning.
Think Jello Biafra as Judas Iscariot in Jesus
Christ Superstud. Lilou sings to defy both
multinational corporations and conventional
musical keys. It’s fascinating in a harrowing
manner. John provides guitar and pen for the
words coming out of Lilou’s mesmerizing mouth.
The leadoff cut has the martial chop and snap
of some of the Ex’s stuff, while #2 definitely
has AmRep pep. They are a husband and wife duo
who might have met in the classified ads of
Sweden’s version of “The Nation.” -Hunger

Kechley, David – “Walbrzych Project, The” – [Innova Recordings]

Hemroid The Leader   5/4/2018   A Library, CD

Walbrzch (VALL-breck) is a small town in Poland, supposedly the site of the Nazi gold train, also the site of these recordings. David Kechley is professor emeritus at Williams College in MA. CD1 is Karasuma, a “fast funk for orchestra”. This crossover piece was premiered by the Boston Pops. Very questionable. CD2 is Wakeful Visions / Moonless Dreams, A Symphony in 4 Movements. Each movement starts from a text, Shakespeare, Basho, Proust, and the bible. Notari, Notari features the flute, and Something Wicked is more rhythmic.

Louisiana Red – “Driftin'” – [Earwig]

Hemroid The Leader   5/4/2018   Blues, CD

His feet are walking on hard ground and his head is in the blue ethers. Always a story-teller, Red tells about BB King and Lightnin’ Hopkins. The band tracks are Chicago blues. The solo tracks can be strange, childlike (see #5, 8). Very addictive.

Bambara – “Shadow On Everything” – [Wharf Cat Records]

Jim Hunter   5/3/2018   A Library, CD

 

Shadow on Everything is the latest from Brooklyn post-punk noise makers Bambara and is their followup to the more raw and tight sounding 2015 effort Swarm. Shadow can be succinctly described a modern take on all things Birthday Party and its numerous offspring. Upon first listen, I was struck by the similarity to Nick Cave and the Bad Seed’s 1987 release Tender Prey with its long meandering intro track The Mercy Seat. Western Goth themes of nooses, damsels, and skulls pervade from begining to end. Reid Bateh’s vocal stylings have smoothed out since Swarm which complements the more polished feel of this release. A noteworthy and original element of Shadow is the extensive use of ambient tape loops to successfuly create background texture that enhances the aura of foreboding. The track Backyard (11) nicely incorporates complimentary female vocals by Lyzi Wakefield. While the inspiration of their Australian forefathers may be a little too obvious to make this an overwhelming once in a lifetime release, this is still a strong effort. Should appeal to a wide swath but especially those who enjoy noisy goth tinged post-punk.

 

Note: Tracks 4 and 7 are instrumental atmospheric tracks that are short and quite strong
musically.

Primordial Wound – “Pure Blight” – [Oxen]

lexi glass   5/1/2018   A Library, Cassette

Primordial Wound is the project of Seattleite Dan Fried. Two sidelong pieces made from “shortwave radio, field recordings, tape, synth, effects, and feedback.” Each track follows an arc, moving through a range of sounds: the opening collage of radio broadcasts on the title track, extended blasts of metallic noise propelled by human screams – the rot coming from within – and sparser passages of ringing, drones, and forgotten remains. A hybrid of harsh noise and electroacoustic sound art, this is another unique new release from Oxen.

Phallitecture [coll] – [Petite Soles]

lexi glass   5/1/2018   A Library, Cassette

Harsh noise wall split cassette from two Seattle noise artists. Peter Keller (also working under the names Bacillus, Dirac Sea and others) is Condo Horro, a project that combats “the effects of gentrification and soulless development” by building some walls of his own. It’s actually a pretty funny concept, so I’m glad Seattle’s sweetheart Felicia Gaggins aka Masturbatory Dysfunction, got him to lighten up a bit with this release, from the cover art collages of oiled up porno dudes with space needledicks to the suggestive track titles. The Condo Horro side is a 30 minute slab of crushing static that keeps feeling heavier, while Gaggins follows it up on side B with another half hour of filthy friction. From Seattle to Silicon Valley, we’re all getting fucked!

Myrkfaelni #2 [coll] – [Myrkfaelni]

lexi glass   5/1/2018   A Library, Cassette

Relive KFJC’s summer vacation in Reykjavik with this cassette compilation accompanying the release of the second edition of MYRKFÆLNI, a zine that spotlights underground Icelandic artists. The founders of MYRKFÆLNI (Icelandic for “fear of the dark”), Kinnat Sóley and Sólveig Matthildur (in the punk trio Kaelan Mikla), were our gracious hosts for our two-day live broadcast Live from the Icelandic Underground in September 2017. Many of the artists from that festival appear here: World Narcosis with dissonant despair (T1), IDK IDA with an ethereal ballad (T2), Holdgervlar with cold melancholia (T13), and crowd favorite Godchilla, with a heavy tribute to Akira (T12). There’s new stuff too, including dark synthy dance tracks (T3, T5, T7, T11), metal (T4, T8), ambient (T9), hardcore (T10), and even a punky Christmas carol (T6). Limited release cassette that came with the first 200 issues of the zine, both now a part of our library.

Eine Dunkle Symbiose Aus Tod & Ewiger Finsternis [coll] – [Eclipse of Live Promulgation]

Lord Gravestench   4/28/2018   7-inch, A Library

‘A Dark Symbiosis of Dead and Eternal Darkness’ split 2005.

Side A ‘Death’ – Elisabetha- Elisabetha (split 2008) were from Germany. They used to be Black Metal, but then they went full Neoclassical retard. It seems that this split has been released twice with the same Nachtmahr material on the other side— on the CD version it’s a bizarre black metal track on Elisabetha’s side but on this 7” version you get keyboards… is it “Dungeon Synth,” Renfield? Derision apart, the take on Darkwave, dedicated to E.A. Poe, is actually fairly apt.  There’s a heartbeat in there too, and some spoken word in Deutsch. Are any of the instruments real?

Side B ‘Darkness’ – Nachtmahr- Two tracks from the now-inactive German project, founded 1996. Don’t get them confused with the Electro-Industrial project or the other Black Metal band from Germany! This is primitive symphonic BM with lyrics from Goethe (on the first track) and really cheap synth parts that sound strangely divorced from the other instruments, kind of like hearing two songs at once. A+ for the mindfuck, and perhaps they even meant for this to happen. They shot for Emperor/Enslaved epic Valhallan feels and got something a bit more ‘special.’ I will play this side.

Frankie & The Pool Boys – “Spin The Bottle” – [Double Crown Records]

Cousin Mary   4/28/2018   A Library, CD

An eagerly anticipated new album from this fine San Francisco Bay Area modern surf band.  Ranging from hard rocking to pop to Spaghetti western, most songs are original compositions.  The first 16 tracks are instrumental, then there are 4 vocal (gasp!) versions of previous songs.  Great fun, good energy, well executed – beautifully produced by Slacktone drummer Dusty Watson.

BLSPHM – I Can’t Die Here – [Dead Accents]

Lord Gravestench   4/28/2018   A Library, Cassette

BLSPHM is the solo project of Demian Johnston, Sutekh Hexen member and resident of the Pacific Northwest. While the smashed mandibles on the cover, like something recovered from the site of a plane crash, suggest extreme violence and depravity, this is not harsh industrial music but creepy cinematic drone. Slow-bleeding delays smooth out voices, single keyboard notes, strings or ???? into minimalistic soundscapes, soundtrack to torpid evil in desolate places, like the wind whistling through the empty crypts of a long-abandoned castle, or a massive shark drifting on the cold currents of mid-oceanic depths, or a mutilated body decomposing in an unmarked grave. Shuddering low ends and electronic moans. Play with TenHornedBeast, Deathprod or the more subdued utterances of Gog. That kind of effluent malice and impending violence, subtle dissonance anticipating a jump scare that never happens. I’m not sure how many tracks it’s supposed to be but both 15-minute sides feel continuous. Maybe the B side progresses more. Now go to bed.

Siekiera – “Nowa Aleksandria” – [Sonic]

Jim Hunter   4/27/2018   A Library, CD

Poland’s Siekiera released this “cold wave with a twist” LP in 1986. Long considered a
post-punk classic by those in the know, this angry moody release mirrors the frustration
Polish youth must have experienced while living under the watchful eye of a historically
oppressive regime. While Nowa A caries a nihilistic and apathetic vibe that runs paralell
to several western european musical contemporaries, the albums appeal to a non Polish
listenership is enhanced by Thomas Adamski’s haunting vocals sung in the vernacular of
his home country. The most obvious musical influence here is early Killing Joke. However,
elements of mid 80’s French cold  wave and hints of 4AD goth punk epitomized by Xmal
Deutschland’s 1983 release Fetisch provide additional inspiration. Angular guitar stylings
and a taut rhythm section combine with synthesizers and vocals that coalesce into a novel
sonic signature that is unmistakably distinct from their musical influences. Unfortunately,
Siekiera was never able to garner widespread interest outside of Poland in the years
since ( excepting neighboring Germany where interest in Siekiera and this album in
particular has always been high ). This long overdue addition to the
KFJC library should have wide appeal.

 

Note: Tracks 10-14 are bonus tracks from a 1985 EP and 7 inch. Tracks 1, 4 and 12 are my
favorites though all tracks are strong. Track 10 is an instrumental. The word Siekiera is
pronounced SEE-CARA and not surprisingly means axe in Polish.

 

Rinse:06 [coll] – [Rinse]

Kai Sync   4/26/2018   A Library, CD

2008 CD with Plastician (of Rinse.FM DJ Fame) mixing various Grime and dubstep cross-over material. mostly instrumental, from ten years’ back. Fast and furious mix, each tracks gets a couple of minutes and on to the next. It works with this kind of wobble grime material, too long tracks would distract the dancers and the attention span. The dubstep world provides the wobbly bass, the grime adds in the bouncy fast patterns and chord layers.

Put the CD on continuous play for 3-4 track playback. 

Alas, ten years is a long time and the current grime scene has moved on to other pastures with even more experimental soundscapes. Consider this the time when the dubstep producers were looking for a new venue for getting people to actually dance to their tracks. –Kai

Slogun – “Tearing Up Your Plans” – [Old Captain]

lexi glass   4/24/2018   A Library, CD

John Balistreri is Slogun, a Brooklyn-based power electronics project founded on a simple premise: PEOPLE ARE TRASH! Originally recorded in 1997, this early work was remastered and re-released in 2015 by the Ukrainian label Old Captain. Heavy electronic confusion, from high end blasts to metallic infernos to more subdued suspenseful rumblings. Sometimes hints of sampled songs or reverberating voices can be heard somewhere in the uproar. All of it surrounds Balistreri’s savage vocals: the cries of anticipation of a murderer planning the next crime, the taunts of a torturer as he abuses his victim, the growls of a racist confessing his disgust for the drug addicted and the poor (T2, T10), the screams of a rejected stalker that resorts to self-immolation as a final romantic gesture (T6). A real “achievement,” in that is hard for me to imagine a purer expression of hatred, and because it absolutely delivers on its title (this filth completely spoiled for me a beautiful spring week and my birthday, as I’m sure the artist intended). Therapy through violence!

FCCs on every track except maybe T7