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

Cough Cool – “Cough Cool” – [Debacle Records]

abacus   7/5/2011   A Library, CD

Spacey, lo-fi bedroom pop that dreamily floats amidst clouds. Droning guitar wanderings anchored by simple. pulsing drum machine loops. Add haunting, distorted vocals and you get slow moving mantras rife with itchy frustration and sleepy ambition.

Ito, Teiji – “Tenno” – [Tzadik]

abacus   7/5/2011   A Library, CD

Teiji Ito (’35-’82) was born of a theatrical family and is considered one of the first “downtown New York” composers. He started his career writing, performing and recording (in his NY studio) film scores for his first wife Maya Deren and later travelled with her to Haiti to study percussion in Haitian Vodoun rituals. Mix this with African rhythms, traditional Japanese instrumentation and structure and finally throw in some electronic overdubs and tape manipulations for a mystical, primitive, colorful drama that expertly blends tension and release.

KPLR – “Tek No Muzik” – [Crazy Iris Records]

abacus   7/5/2011   12-inch, A Library

KPLR?? – Tek No Muzik – Crazy Iris Records

This demented duo out of Santa Cruz don’t care who you are or what you want, they just want to pelt your face with firecrackers of electronic stew. This is very minimal techno arising out of the chaos of melodic destruction. Very simple yet very broken and weird industrial acid music for people tired of droning beauty. It leaves your ears thirsty while your brain bleeds from the highly repetitive, unsteady rhythms punctuated by piercing frenetic tonalities. Annoying like a car alarm or construction noise, painful to the point of nails on a chalkboard or spade drill bits to the temple. It mainly just sounds like an orchestra of 10 year olds beat boxing and playing recorders. Play it, cuz I probably won’t… Limited to 200 copies ?? ?? ??45 RPM ?? ?? ??(Screen-printed sleeve = very Santa Cruz)

Quilt – “We Have Layers of Skin” – [Orange Milk]

abacus   7/2/2011   A Library, CD

Quilt is Seth Graham; mixed by Keith Rankin of Giant Claw and mastered by Robert Betty of Hair Police. Fuzzy, meditative swirlings that are as abrasive as they are warm and welcoming. Buzzing and grinding among dreamier harmonies, twirling ambience amidst screeching computerized machinery. Ranges from overdriven synth drones to pure, dense, freezing sheets of terrifyingly dazzling wall noise. Explore the deeply levelled metropolis of a faraway dark planet (2), observe fragments of melody drowned in the still beauty and menacing fury of a glacial torrent (3), face the sublime reality of death as you witness your own funeral (5), etc. Tracks are very short (2-4 mins) for the amount of rapidly morphing, dynamic progression they go through. Careful! Track 1 ends very suddenly and track 8 dissipates 10 secs early. Play loud, take out the liner notes and lose yourself in this pastoral analog montage.


Fewell, Garrison / Variable Density Sound Orchestra – “Sound Particle 47” – [Creative Nation Music]

abacus   7/2/2011   CD, Jazz

This second album from Fewell???s Variable Density Sound Orchestra effortlessly straddles the line between freeform jazz improvisation, and foot-tapping vaudeville swing with hints of disconcerting melody. The group is lead by Garrison Fewell on guitar (and bow!) who has an apparent blues background and also features another guitarist, dual saxophone, trumpet/trombone combo and dual basses (and drums) which allows for pulsing poly-rhythmic interactions where half the group indulges in abstractions while a groove is steadily maintained. Something for everyone here with wide variety of sounds present. 1 and 6 really cook with searing, muddy swing set to urban neo-noir scenes. 3 and 4 work together beginning as an almost chamber piece culminating in a fast, frenetic surge. 2, 5, 7, and 9 compose the esoteric doodlings with parallel timbre themes. Equally appropriate for straight jazz and abrasive noise settings.


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