Cindytalk – “Hold Everything Dear” – [Editions Mego]

abacus   11/2/2011   12-inch, A Library

Cindytalk has taken various forms over its 30 year existence. Originally composed of members from the new-wave punk group The Freeze, Cindytalk, led by Gordon Sharp, took a darker, more fractured approach, initially dipping into the realms of post-punk/industrial/dark ambient while recent incarnations have explored the sonic possibilities of digital minimalism, this piece with mystical yet ominous electronic bent metal drones that simmer in charged, rhythmic swells and soak in clanging chimes and bells. Sparse and somber piano interludes throughout provide deeper introspection to complement the threateningly serene soundscapes eerily cracking to reveal the fierce underbelly subterranean decay. Sharp’s sound displays the weary beauty of Fennesz infected by the sonic violence of Jugend in a most grippingly beautiful way.

A giant glowing orb looms over the horizon just beyond a quiet midwestern farming town emanating a deafening glow that freezes rain and blows sheets of piercing wind through the sky. From it a psychic entity reveals to us the reality of our existence as it brightens and sends an earth-shaking roar only to coalesce into a swirl of blood red brilliance and electrical currents broadcasting dark, foreboding predilections. The orb then dissipates and seeps into the sublayers and fringes of our existence, simultaneously crumbling the edges and eating away from the inside in a fury of subterranean decay. All that remains is the shimmering glow of the orb’s radiating brilliance looming unnoticed over the horizon.

Fennesz – “Seven Stars” – [Touch]

abacus   10/19/2011   A Library, CD

4 track EP from Austrian laptop glitch artist Christian Fennesz is continuing with his recent explorations into more approachable, tangible sounds while still maintaining the same twisted, textural imagination. He imposes harmonious layering and elemental melodies via guitar, bass and synth, over the placid yet unsettling soundscapes.??Seven Stars: emotional arrangements of echoed guitars and digital swells of stirring strings brushed with light drums and bass. July a tweaked metallic buzz subtly tears at the rustic, desert ghost town setting. Overall, this is not as harsh and alienating as his earlier noise explorations, focusing on a more ambient and immersive environment.

Evidence – “Cats & Dogs” – [Rhymesayers]

abacus   10/12/2011   CD, Hip Hop

Third solo effort from ex-Dilated Peoples producer/MC Evidence. This time around Evidence seats himself firmly behind the mic, only producing for a couple tracks, leaving Alchemist, Sid Roams, DJ Premier and others at the controls. Beats are very cinematic, verging on epic at times, with darker tones and some cool vocal sampling, though a little overproduced and repetitive at times. Evidence keeps it way real with honest, introspective lyrical narratives about personal trials and tribulations dealing with life, love and mostly fame. Choice tracks: #3 thought provoking social commentary about status and struggle, #6 classic Premier material, #12 takes a Phillip Glass-esque operatic feel, #15 cool sound sampling, #16 some Eastern string sampling and modes. ?? ALL TRACKS CLEAN

Majutsu No Niwa – “Ecstatic Crystallization” – [Musik Atlach]

abacus   10/5/2011   A Library, CD

Feedback drenched guitarnoise drones from Fukuoka Rinji???s group Majutsu no Niwa. Two extra long (~30min) tracks; very sparse, wintry walls of noise showcasing the distorted feedback of Rinji???s guitar with Kageyama Hiroyuki???s booming bass barrage filling the void and Kageyama Hiroyuki???s fragmentary drums peppering the edges. The first piece is the invocation, delving into the dissonant din of Rinji???s icy feedback while the second piece incites hypnosis through abyssal, ritualistic chanting. Both pieces good for mixing or playing naked. Open and spacious soundscapes!

Ajemian, Jason – “Riding The Light Into The Birds Eye” – [Sundmagi]

abacus   10/4/2011   CD, Jazz

Jason Ajemian, a prominent musician/composer from the Chicago avant-jazz scene, brings us his latest jazz-opera piece. Ajemian has made a name for himself in the improvised/experimental jazz scene for his unique blending of genres and the intellectual background he incorporates into his work. Recorded all in one take with no overdubs (except trk1), this piece ranges from delicate to frenetic, funky and soulful to abstract and sparse. Stylistically abstract poetry weaves throughout the free-jazz landscape painted by soulful basslines, chopped-up gritty guitar, dueling drums, chaotic trumpet, and screaming saxophone. Album tracks together and track 4 has language!!

Noothgrush – “Live For Nothing” – [Southern Lord Recordings]

abacus   9/28/2011   A Library, CD

Another devastating dirt and nails gem from KFJC alum Noothgrush! This CD features two live broadcasts from KZSU in 1996 and KFJC in 1999. With the band broken up for almost ten years this feels like a lost, sunken treasure.. and it sounds like it too with the pounding, sludgy, bass heavy doom and gloom that they do so well. Lots of throaty vocals (I think lyrics are all clean but I can’t understand any of them), gritty power chord dissonance and booming bass reverberations with a few guitar solos spotted throughout. Most of the tracks are slow and punishing but there are a few headbangers in there too. Check it out! ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? Watch out! Track 5 skips

Parker, William – “Crumbling In The Shadows Is Fraulein Miller’s Stale Cake” – [Centering Records]

abacus   9/28/2011   CD, Jazz

This box-set is an exposition of emotional exuberance from NY experimental jazz bassist, as well as poet and composer, William Parker. Parker was brought to the public attention as a member of Cecil Taylor unit from 1980 to 1991 and is part of the music cooperative Other Dimensions in Music. He has performed with a variety of artists including Matthew Shipp, Derek Bailey, Bill Dixon, Joe Morris, John Zorn and Mat Maneri. The first two CDs were recorded in one session while the third is a reissue of a 1994 release. CD1 is the title piece exploring his feelings on racism and forgiveness. This is much sparser and introspective with the first two pieces full of heart-wrenching atonal beauty and the third sounding almost bluesy. CD2 contains the shorter pieces that are much more energetic and melodic, almost jazzy at times. CD3 is a reissue of the album Testimony and is much more frantic, chaotic and dissonant. The liner notes expose Parker’s inner thoughts through poetry and prose. Mix or play on its own, these are beautifully imaginative and intimate pieces.

Pottinger, Chris – “Moist Membrane” – [Tasty Soil]

abacus   9/21/2011   12-inch, A Library

Hey you! Quit peeling maggots off your rotting flesh for a quick second to check out this new zombie movie soundtrack. Not really… but it sure sounds like it. Chris Pottinger uses everything from a synth and zither to a saxophone to create these deliciously horrifying soundscapes that evoke images of decrepit corpses incessantly tapping and scratching at your bedroom door or rusty, broken clocks infested by millions of bugs. Lots of scrapes, squeaks and creaks with a sinister pulse throughout. Pottinger also designed the macabre artwork. Limited to 400 copies so PLAY IT!

Berne, Tim / Black, Jim / Cline, Nels – “Veil, The” – [Cryptogramophone]

abacus   9/21/2011   CD, Jazz

Check out the newest project from NY downtown avant-jazz trio recorded live at Zorn’s club The Stone! Jim Black’s drumwork is aggressively relentless while Nels Cline provides atmosphere with his usual mind-blowing synthesis of jazz, rock, country and ambience and Tim Berne gives us an array of searing sax licks that fluctuate from Zorn to Lurie and back again. This album was one of two long jam sessions (all the songs track together) and ranges from chaotic thickets of monolithic power to introspective sonic abstractions. Too brutal to be jazz yet far too unpredictable and challenging to be rock, this piece teeters on the edge of doom-jazz with some ambient pieces punctuating the unflinching power. Though this is entirely improvised, it is deceptively cohesive and intact. Behold the power of jazz fed metal, grunge and doom!

Souleyman, Omar – “Haflat Gharbia – The Western Concerts” – [Sublime Frequencies]

abacus   9/20/2011   CD, International

Switch this on and transport yourself to a smoky, overheated club in a far corner of Syria. Omar Souleyman hails from Northeast Syria and started off his career?? performing his unique electronic folk-dance music at simple weddings and other?? gatherings. With the help of the Sublime Frequencies label he has become an international staple of Middle Eastern music. This particular album is a collection of tracks from his tour of US, Europe and Australia from 2009-2011. The music here sounds very low-tech and authentic, with a mix of Korg produced harmonies and beats and electric saz improvisations along with Arabic and Kurdish vocals. Put on your keffiyeh and boogie!

Namchylak, Sainkho / Sudnick, Nick – “Not Quite Songs” – [Leo Records]

abacus   9/14/2011   CD, Jazz

This delightfully disturbing duo will keep you entranced and enthralled with their shamanistic lullabies and post-industrial ritualism. Sainkho, hailing from The Tuva region of Russia, is a trained tuvan throat singer who utilizes her 7-octave range to explore every sonic possibility that the human voice has to offer. Nick Sudnick, from the Soviet experimental group Zga, constructs his own “electro-acoustic sound objects.” Using mostly heavy metals wired and processed to reflect the rust and corrosion of the industrial state, he also mixes with more organic materials like wood, horse hair, bones and frame drums to draw on the Steppes influence. Expect ghostly desert ragas, satanic incantations and childish warbling, eery cuckoo clock grooves, demonic whispers amidst haunted playhouse animations, kabuki cartoon cackling and much more. Check out 2,6,9,11-14 for the more “musical” tracks. Enjoy!

Fanafody [coll] – [Mississippi Records]

abacus   8/17/2011   12-inch, International

This is a collection of field recordings taken by a Canadian musician on two separate (98-99, 06-07) excursions to Western Madagascar. Most of these recordings come from pretty remote villages along the coast and the tracks reflect that; raw, primitive recordings of musicians (who seem to all be related in some way or another) that sound very disconnected from modern society. Most of the instrumentation is on homemade traditional instruments though there are a couple purely vocal pieces (2,7,11) and a couple with accordion (3,15) reflecting the French colonial influence. Check out the tracks (4,6,9) with the valiha marovany – a sort of box harp with twelve strings individually tuned on each side of the box; also check out the lokanga (1,5,8.13) – a homemade three-string fiddle meant to accompany vocals. Like most of the animals and plants on the island, this music is endemic to Madagascar, isolated and unique.

Aqua Nebula Oscillator – “Excavation” – [Assommer]

abacus   8/10/2011   12-inch, A Library

Aqua Nebula Oscillator is a psychedelic garage rock outfit out of France that will melt your face and hollow out your eye sockets. Long spatial improvisations featuring raw, heavy, dripping, fuzzed out stoner jams that are primal and ritualistic while maintaining a solid rock foundation. These tracks were recorded in a cave in 2007 so expect very gritty and naked recording quality. Somewhere between salvia-induced epileptic psychedelia and acid drenched cultic rock & roll. Limited to 500 copies.

Twinkle Brothers, The – “Dub Feeding Programme – Dub Massacre Pt 6” – [Twinkle]

abacus   8/10/2011   12-inch, Reggae

From Sunday school to dominating national competitions to international touring, Twinkle Brothers kept it fresh for over four decades. The solid Dub Massacre series features instrumental dub tracks from the 80s into the 90s with this one showcasing a groovin horn section and a handful of musicians switching off on the various rhythm instruments. Disregard the somewhat depressing cover picture, this is upbeat, very danceable party music. DUB IT IN A ROOTS STYLEE!!

Der Plan – “Normallette Surprise – 17 Elektronische Schlager” – [Medical Records]

abacus   8/3/2011   12-inch, A Library

Der Plan, a group from Dusseldorf, draw from Kraftwerk and the Residents to create their own unique style of what they call “synthi-pop.” This is their second full-length LP and focuses much more on innovative rhythm and synthetic percussive sounds. Schlager translates loosely to hit song, often referring to sweet, simple ballads with catchy melody and an easy-listening feel but this is anything but that. Off-kilter, deranged and quirky abstract and surreal electronic pop. Despite their cult following, Der Plan has been largely overlooked but were definitely a couple decades ahead of their time.

Feldman, Mark & Courvoisier, Sylvia – “Oblivia” – [Tzadik]

abacus   8/3/2011   CD, Jazz

Another piece from the classically trained yet hugely ambitious husband-wife duo. Feldman has come from a classical background while at school in Chicago, moved to country music in Nashville and gone on to dominate the Euro/NY avant-garde scene, working with everyone from Willie Nelson to John Zorn to televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. Naturally he is a master of all music and a seer of all sonic possibilities. Sylvie Courvoisier is an imaginative pianist/composer/conductor from Lausanne, Switzerland that has studied music extensively from all perspectives and come to acquire her own uniquely provocative, freewheeling approach. These improvisational pieces are alarmingly telepathic and intuitive, both aesthetically beautiful and eerie/melancholic, anxiously sparse and chaotically discordant. Very cerebral, lyrical, tragic and exciting.

1,3,4,6,7 have a more structured feel

1,3,8.10 hit, kick and thrash

2,8,9,10 delve into prepared piano driven sonic explorations

Fujii, Satoko Orchestra – “Zakopane” – [Jasrac]

abacus   8/3/2011   CD, Jazz

One more piece from the Satoko Fujii Orchestra, led by prolific Japanese composer/pianist Satoko Fujii. While she doesn’t appear here on her instrument her compositions drive this album and fill all viable earspace beyond comprehension. Fiercely orchestrated, very cinematic, horn-heavy fanfares rife with the typical Japanese virtuosic chops and technique punctuated by unflinching stop-start emphases and some aimlessly searching melodic escapades. Seemlessly blended jazz, rock, funk, soul, and avant-garde garnished with a hint of 70s movie/TV soundtracks, Fujii excels at playful, almost campy storytelling that instills constant intrigue with colorful, though-provoking use of timbre, layering and structure. Great introduction to big band jazz from any background.

2 – A matador meets his maker and is transported to a soulful 70s funk fusion dance party

4 – Jungle travellers exchange tragic love stories amongst sleeping creatures of all species

5 – Bari sax descends to madness and gives way to a Charlie Brown bassline, strolling through Harlem

6 – Bowed bass improvisations -> headbanging Bailey-esque guitar solo ->psych-rock jamout -> smoky/grimy burlesque jazz club

8 – Winter wind blowing through cedars to a wounded cheetahs wandering the savannah closing with soulful 70s family sitcom theme song


Bronze – “One Night In Mexico” – [Enfant Terrible]

abacus   7/21/2011   7-inch, A Library

Bronze is a psychedelic lounge-rock band from San Francisco with musicians from Vanishing and Spector Protector. This is synth heavy and feedback laden with reverberating guitar rhythms, driving guitars, futuristic synth ambience and darkly playful lyrics. The title track is a more carefree ballad with repeating synth line and cool bass intervals. The “Hymn” is a more ominous, tension building acid-infused nightmare.


Twinkle Brothers, The – “Dub Massacre Part 3” – [Twinkle]

abacus   7/21/2011   12-inch, Reggae

More heady dub from Twinkle’s Dub Massacre series! Headed by Norman Grant, this features steadily exploratory drum machine beats and sampling, driving and melodic bass lines, soulful keys and rhythmic guitar chops. Twinkle hails from Falmouth, Jamaica and have been playing since the early 60’s, producing their own music since the 70’s.



Rova : Zorn, John – “Receiving Surfaces, The” – [Metalanguage]

abacus   7/5/2011   12-inch, Jazz

Recorded live at Yoshi’s SF 8/28/2010!

Everything you’d expect from the lot with wild, freeform assaults on your psyche. Slow building drones create tense blankets of dissonance torn by nervous cackles, twisted, tangential anti-melodies and atonal war cries writhing in pain ( and Zorn’s signature scream). It hurts good…

Track 2 feels like you’re about to kill Colonel Kurtz

Track 3 is an urban freak show / back-alley circus

Track 4 Hits you like a swarm of elephant bees

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