Music Reviews

Century Plants – “Transmissions from the Outer Sun” – [Carbon Records]

carsonstreet   11/28/2022   A Library, CD

Century Plants is a shape-shifting drone and free improv duo featuring Ray Hare and Eric Hardiman. On the first track, recorded in 2011 in Albany NY, they are joined by Matt Weston on drums, and explore the free-improv corners of their sonic world with a combination of guitars, electronics, voice, and sparse percussion. The second track, recorded in 2022 in Troy NY, sees the duo expanding into a quartet with Mike Griffin on bass and Phil Donnelly on drums. This track builds into a mid-tempo psych-guitar-drenched epic with Ray’s echoing vocal wails. Albany’s (NY) Century Plants has deep roots in the noise, psych, improv, and hardcore scenes. The core group is Ray Hare (Deadline, Fossils from the Sun, Burnt Hills) and Eric Hardiman (Rambutan, Sky Furrows, Spiral Wave Nomads, Burnt Hills). The duo’s twin guitars + vocals are often augmented by a larger “sound system” of like-minded players for live actions, resulting in an intense mixture of noise, drone, dub, musique concrete, and blistering psych rock. If you need referents, recent gigs have conjured the ghosts of Hawkwind, Discharge and Suicide, all filtered through a unique prism. Hardiman and Hare have played together for over a decade as Century Plants and continue to play in Albany’s legendary psych rock unit Burnt Hills. 

Parashi – “Vinegar Baths” – [Carbon Records]

karma   10/26/2022   A Library, CD

Parashi is Mike Griffin. He has performed in a few bands, including Sky Furrows, whose self-titled album enjoyed recent glory on the KFJC hit list (Foreign Cities is my anthem). Vinegar Baths is based on improvisations with the 6-string bass and tape manipulation – the (unintelligible but powerful) vocals and guitar were added later. Unlike the lyrically dense and frenetic Sky Furrows, this album is a subdued soundscape that transports you to an open field somewhere in upstate New York. My favorite track is “Winding Song,” where Griffin lets his guitar technique and skilled vocals lead.

Wound [coll] – [Carbon Records]

abacus   4/29/2020   12-inch, A Library

homage to the gueetar in all its gloree, an Americana that’s more postmodern in its primitive I think. short, accessible blurps celebrating the six string in all sorts of styles. what starts off as some plucking pleasantries gets thrown in the deep end of all sorts of experimental weirdnesses: psychedelic folk noise, trip ambient, stoner drone.. plenty of heavy hitters in here and too many familiar faces to even begin to name but I will anyways: a few of my favorites are the zone switch slap in the face by Bill Nace, Daniel Bachman’s surprisingly regal yet ethereal meditation, former Bardo Ponds Curanderos channeling some sort of alternate history, James Plotkin really knows how to mix a collage (and mastered this here comp of course too), sparse melodies throughout this compilation but really shine stark on Michael Morley, Wendy Eisenberg may just be the best new reinterpretations of the blues I’ve heard.. I’d say this is about a third just guitar tracks and the rest range in all different approaches so try one out, there’s definitely something here to suit everyone. oh yeah and check out the liner notes by John Olson on this one, I’m sure he’s got something interesting to say about it.

Conners, Loren/ Vapour Theories [coll] – [Carbon Records]

billiejoe   2/4/2015   A Library, CD

Split album. Both sides are zoned out guitar with effects. The first side was recorded live in London in 2011. The volume changes a lot on the first track. Vapour Theories is Michael and John Gibbons of Bardo Pond. The two artists complement each other well and there is something for everyone on this album.
Billie Joe Tolliver

Hicks, Kelli Shay – “Buck Again ” – [Carbon Records]

jordan   4/25/2007   A Library, CD

Lonely, wandering tunes.

The unconcerned hum of traffic leading to a little girl voice and naked guitar.

Kelli Shay Hicks??? three song EP, ???Bucked???, is sparse and vocals driven. The EP was recorded by filmmaker Jem Cohen, who, in 2002, produced a 16mm film about Cat Power entitled CAT POWER LIVE: FROM FUR CITY.

Courtis, Anla/Kiritchenko, Andrey/Moglass – “Self Titled ” – [Carbon Records]

Max Level   12/5/2006   A Library, CD

Noise/sound/ambient collaborations involving a multi-national crew: Courtis (Argentina), Kiritchenko (Ukraine), and The Moglass, (who are either a duo or a trio, and also Ukranian). Audio sources such as stringed instruments, electronics, synth, percussion, and field recordings are blended into a moody batch of abstract sound-pieces. Each track is a two-way collaboration: Kiritchenko manipulates sounds by Courtis, The Moglass does the same, and Courtis returns the favor by lending his manipulations to sounds by both of the others. Nice areas of clicking, humming, ringing, wavering, drifting, droning, dripping, rattling… Some sections sound quite organic, others rely heavily on electronic processing. Bizarre vocals by somebody on #5. A project well worth some deep listening.

Mortiferum / Hyperdontia [coll] – [Carbonized]

whngr   11/18/2021   7-inch, A Library

Dreary death metal split for a plague-aborted European tour. 

Mortiferum: Four-piece out of Seattle belt out gloomy dirge with terrible aplomb. Lumbering and battering their way through the gloomy fog of down-tuned bass and wraith bellows, guitars wail with unusual effects, and the bellow of an unintelligible prayer for death. 

Hyperdontia: The more up-tempo side of this split has slightly more guitar virtuosity and tumbles forth at a ruthless clip. Battling forward feverishly toward the abyss of eternal, ghastly repose.

A 2020 split release from Carbonized Records in the states and Saco Un Rojo in Europe (this clear repress from 2021).

Balanco – "Theme From Cocktail Nova / Mrs. Beat" – [Schema Records]

aarbor   4/28/2021   12-inch, A Library

Balanco at the time of this recording in 2001 was the duo of Davide Penta and Mariella Carbonara. They produced 2 full length recordings: Bossa & Balanco and More. These two songs originally appeared on the More album and are reworks by Nicola Conte and Le Hammond Inferno. Discogs describes them as Soul Jazz/Latin Jazz. Nicola Conte is an Italian producer, DJ, Jazz guitarist, composer and arranger. Marcus Liesenfeld and Holger Beier (of Berlin) are Le Hammond Inferno their work was at first described as “futurist kitsch” by 2001 was taken much more seriously following some very successful releases. AArbor

Centre El Muusa – “Centre El Muusa” – [Sulatron Records]

SlartiBartfast   4/20/2021   A Library, CD

Hard driving, mesmerizing psychedelic rock and roll out of Estonia? This 2020 release will leave you with a fuzzy frame of mind as you search for that astral plane that contains your carbon based life form. This is Centre El Muusa’s debut album out on Sulatron Records, and is an ear blistering jaunt into some of the best new psyche sounds out of Europe. Originally the brain child of Misha Panfilov and co-founder Volodja Brodsky, the experimental electronic duo vaults into the heavy psychedelic sounds with the addition of Monika Erdman on bass and Aleksei Semenihhin on drums. Sit back in your bubble bath and enjoy the cosmic waves.

Mortuous – “Among The Lost/Mors Immortalis” – [Carbonized]

Lord Gravestench   9/30/2020   A Library, CD

These guys might be the best death metal band to come out of San Jose since Exhumed (or at least they’re tied with Plague Phalanx, although the two groups play such different styles it doesn’t seem fair to pit them against each another). 

Founded in 2009 as the solo project of guitarist Colin Tarvin (Bruxers, Deform, Disinhibition, recently joined Acephalix), Mortuous has since grown into a 4-piece that includes members and alumni of such Bay Area projects as Necrot, Augurs, Cartilage, Vastum, Atrament, Caffa, and the aforementioned Exhumed itself.

Mortuous’s excellent 2018 debut LP was highly regarded and widely heard, earning them a large following internationally. Prior to that point, this ridiculously hard-working band carved out a reputation as a cult act in Bay Area circles, opening a crazy number of shows and releasing two demo tapes. These demos have now been reissued on this 2020 compilation CD from the Carbonized Records imprint (run by their drummer Chad Gailey, who also happens to be a long-time KFJC ally and supporter).

Their 2012 demo tape (t.s 1-6 here) was originally added by KFJC back in 2014, but the material well deserves a second trip through Current. Especially noteable are its crushing guitar sound and absolutely insane drumming, the latter provided by long-time Exhumed bludgeoner Col Jones (no longer in Mortuous as of 2014).

The 2010 debut demo (t.s 7-10) was recorded by Tarvin pretty much on his own, although Derrel Houdashelt (another former Exhumed member) contributes lead guitar on t.8. These 4 cuts have a scratchier, lower-fi sound than the first 6. 

The two demos feature mostly the same collection of songs, but the playing and production differs so much you barely notice when listening through the whole CD. Even the vocalist is different. Both halves of this compilation are great and well worth your attention. 

“We exit from this world/Into the light we are led/Then could the reverse be true/For a dimension of the dead?”

Wretched Worst – “Worse Than Jail” – [Prison Tatt Records]

mann   5/1/2013   12-inch, A Library

Their record company describes this “Flipper viewed through heavy gauze.” I’d say it is quite a bit heavier than that. This is Lexington, Kentucky’s redefinition of indescribable doom / sludge / noise / rock. With instruments ranging from the usually doom guitar, bass, drums, carbon-hallowed growl vocals all non-understandable to noise implements like synths, contact mics and tape, this four pieces leave listeners rattled with plodding destruction and explosions so evil that at first it slits your throat then it lets rats and worms live and feed in the wound and finally it steps on your disgusting mascara-ed face kinda like the cover which was drawn by the vocalist/illustrator Matt Minter. A lot of totally original (the way they play and the arrangement of the songs) doom chaos going on here, a lot of the tracks have drone/noise intros and outros for effortless radio-friendly mixing with other such soundscapes for transitions into doom and other metallics. Plays at 33. No FCC.

Petit, Didier – “NOHC On The Road” – [Leo Records]

Cousin Mary   7/23/2012   CD, Jazz

Analogies can be drawn between the possible chemical bonds possible with nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon (NOHC) and the interaction of the saxophones, bass clarinet, violin, and cello. The results can be shrill and squawky, but grab your attention and make you think. Improvised, experimental; sometimes disturbing, but lovely at times. Some of the tracks end with train field recordings.

Butzer, Jeffrey – “She Traded Her Leg ” – [Lona Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/27/2007   A Library, CD

Mini-cinematic scores built by Butzer using a host of toy instruments and
an omnipresent accordian. Plus somewhere in the mix is a “tongue drum” !!
Listening to this made me think of people who build miniature houses and
scenarios…maybe too sweet and precious for some, but being a fan of
Pascal Comelade I definitely like the realizations here of Butzer’s
compositions. And like Comelade, the accent is on the *short* and the
sweet…most tracks say their peace in about two minutes. Underscoring a
“silent film” vibe, Butzer even incorporates a train whistlin’ through
“Dendrobium”, that and many other tracks surely bust my Keaton! The
“Carbonated Sewing Machine” is not nearly as effervescent as one might
expect, kinda of a forlorn affair. There are some micro-morose moments
here, “Lucy’s Theme” has a heaviness to it as well. “Broken Blunderbuss”
starts off like a surfy gumball for kids but it stacks up some very
nicely wrong chords by its end. Things take a decidely darker turn by
the time the “Black Bubbles” show up. We’re not in Toyville anymore…

-Thurston Hunger

Haiku Review…
Tinkery plinkers
the toy piano player
Dreams accordians

Milton, Antony – “Sirens & Where The Coloured Planes Are Rafts ” – [Last Visible Dog Records]

mitch   1/16/2007   A Library, CD

Christchurch NZ acoustic home recordings circa 1997, with much in
the way of whisper/speech/song/prepared/unprepared guitar/wheezing
harmonica/fragmented composition. MILTON has been putting out
stuff on his label for years, and this is a reissue of same.
As he is well aware, farm implements (i. e., slick studio production) are
great destroyers of soil (and song) structure, and soil tilth is created by
decay, not by implements. Pioneer farmers plowed primarily to rid the
landscape of wild vegetation ??? and ANTONY MILTON works that same
bare soil with potash & phosphorus, naked to wind and rain erosion, a
germination process marrying subsoil and atmosphere. This is mulch
planting, rather than a rotary plow approach??? with gradual carbon
dioxide exhumations regulating air, water, and a microbial songcraft.
MITCH January 2007

Government Alpha / Scum – “Swamp Attack” – [Oxen]

whngr   11/18/2021   A Library, CD

Acerbic Power-electronics from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Tokyo’s Yoshida Yasutoshi of Government Alpha and Xerxes Records performs under his sage name Carbonic Acid with and without Sou Inomoto of Scum and Slug Tapes, also of Tokyo, unleashing a torrent of demented, careening electronics, either in collaboration or complicity, generating horrifying atmospheres of cataclysmic proportions. 

Peals of electronic noise and impassioned strife.

Delirious wrathful fountains of crushing electronics, klaxons, sirens, fear, danger, the madman is home and his prey imprisoned in the darkness cowers nude, battered, and broken in a futile attempt to hide from the punishment they know they are about to receive. But the only respite is deep within the mind… and that nut was cracked weeks ago.

Apply this sonic firewall of terror upon the listeners you hope to eliminate from your meagre audience… and potentially attract the unhinged and apoplectic.

The machine screams.

Japan – 2021

Phlegm – “Poppin’ and Milkin’ ” – [Jerker Productions]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   A Library, CD

Nowadays Phlegm are 2 breasts, um, guys from
Australia : Oren Mbarchi and Robbie Avenaim.
Or are they a lost tribe of pygmies with a
bunch of electronics?’ Pleasantly disturbing
pieces. Do they take records and then layer
gibberish and gadgetry on top? Experimental
*and* humorous, jarring juxtapositions of
sounds and samples and some stellar guitar
sewed in the lining. Excellent scream therapy
on #3 and #8. The insistent bile of punk, the
bloody power of noise, and pure carbonated
fun concentrate blended into Phlegm.

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