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atavist

ACxDC – “Antichrist Demoncore” – [Melotov Records]

atavist   6/12/2019   12-inch, A Library

ACxDC drops a slab of West Coast power violence with Antichrist Demoncore. Unrelenting riffs of pure aggression with plenty of thick tone to sink your teeth into. Two vocal styles comprise a dual-pronged attack: high-pitched screaming vs guttural/throaty/demonic. The speed is fairly full-throttle with some choice breakdowns. One track on each side is FCC-free, so outside of safe harbor it’s a minefield. Having said that, the FCC-free tracks, “Cheap Punks”, and “Keep Sweet” are pretty cool tracks, and “Keep Sweet” might be my favorite. It’s a bummer about the FCCs, because there are some great blasting riffs and good, fuck-all, anti-fascist lyrics. After two sides of tracks ranging from 34 seconds to just under two minutes, the 3:36 track at the end of the album feels pretty epic. A worthy addition to the genre.

Robinson, Eugene S. / Petit, Philippe – “Chapel In The Pines” – [Lumberton Trading Company]

atavist   6/12/2019   A Library, CD

This is the second collaboration between Eugene S. Robinson and Philippe Petit to be added to the KFJC library. Eugene S. Robinson is well-known for his work in Oxbow and has appeared in some other collaborations over the years; Philippe Petit is similarly well-represented in the library. Over the five compositions presented on “Chapel in the Pines”, Robinson provides a range of vocal styles ranging from stream-of-consciousness ramblings to singing that references traditional forms and religious motifs. Robinson’s work is superimposed over Petit’s electronics, including synthetic drones and ethereal textures. The first track, my personal favorite, establishes washes of atmospheric textures and delicate guitars. In contrast to the far-off and ephemeral instrumentation, Robinson’s vocals are intimate, close, as if he’s speaking in the room with you, talking in your ear, or perhaps you overhear him from the next table. The last track crescendos with some adventurous sonic creations that fluctuate between the solemn and the spasmodic, with a sudden ending. It’s like the character created by Robinson has finally broken through to the next dimension, like Dave in “2001”, only to be abruptly disappointed by what is found there.

Call of The Void – “Buried In Light” – [Translation Loss Records]

atavist   5/29/2019   A Library, CD

Call of the Void conjures metalcore that flirts with crushing heaviness. They’d fit on a bill with bands like Integrity, Meshuggah, Premonitions of War…they’re not as punk as metalcore standard-bearers Converge, and they’re not as angular and mathy as Botch (pardon the dated points of reference). My favorite parts of the album are those where they allow themselves to introduce some additional textures to the overall onslaught, like the instrumental conclusions to tracks 3 and 4. Track 7, “Enslaved”, is a brief instrumental, and it has some interesting elements. This marks a turning point in the album, where the layers of guitar parts and percussion show a bit more depth and complexity. Track 8, “Re Death” has compelling wall-of-sound guitar harmonies, and track 9, the title track, builds on this trajectory. Tracks 10 and 11, “Wave of Disgust” and “Almighty Pig” return to simple, primal fury. By the time they reach the last track, they’ve fully returned to a pared-down and pummeling attack. The highlights are tracks 7–9. Three tracks have FCCs and are noted on the cover.

Noisem – “Cease to Exist” – [20 Buck Spin]

atavist   5/29/2019   A Library, CD

Blistering fast thrash metal. The metal blogs are generally giving this record favorable reviews, and I can see why: Noisem exhibits a studied appreciation and respect for the genre on a properly produced recording. They have the technical chops and an unapologetic scorn for our fucked-up society. If you like your thrash uncompromising, old-school, with production that delivers trebly distortion without turning muddy, go ahead and inject two to three minutes of spitting rage into your set. Aside from their appearance on a compilation added to the library six years ago, this will be Noisem’s proper introduction to KFJC. Keep an eye out for tracks with FCCs (1, 2, 3, 5, 8).

Spectral Voice – “Eroded Corridors of Unbeing” – [Dark Descent Records]

atavist   5/21/2019   A Library, CD

Funereal doom passages punctuated by dark (dark!) blastbeat death metal. Heavy, ghostly passages with plenty of added atmosphere. It creates an aura of unrelenting doom. The production is heavy enough for the drums to get murky when the tempo increases, but make no mistake, it should be murky, like tumbling blindly through dark corridors, pursued by phantoms. Excellent guitar sound, with strong guitar harmonization. T3 is an instrumental that incorporates some nice clean guitar work before transitioning completely into a brief space of devolved atmospheric sounds. This sets up T4, with a simultaneously beautiful and despairing guitar line at the onset. Before long, crushing riffs return. T5 has some decidedly strange guitar work going on to begin; we are given the sense that the band will attempt some complexity as the track unfolds. Ultimately it doesn’t end on the most powerful and rousing note, and the first two tracks (“Thresholds Beyond”, “Visions of Psychic Dismemberment”) are probably the strongest. Light it up and let this cast a pall of black doom over the airwaves.

Disen Gage – “Big Adventure, The” – [Noname666]

atavist   5/21/2019   A Library, CD

If you like your instrumental progressive rock sounds seasoned with a dash of accordion, Disen Gage have crafted a sound you might like. Perhaps these 20-year veterans based out of Moscow don’t take themselves too seriously. T3 has some acid jazz freak outs thrown in; trumpet, keys lead the charge into brief moments of chaos before settling back into a relaxed groove underpinned by a thick bass sound. T4 is a standout because the intricate guitar work is so nicely realized. A cello joins, played with feeling but not overstated. T5 has a disco-esque guitar sound in the intro followed by a baffling mellotron (?) arrangement. These musicians are clearly not afraid to go just about anywhere with this genre-bending menagerie. Cue the Spanish-inflected acoustic guitar work, and a goofy keyboard “horn” arrangement that swerves into something almost polka-esque. The rapid changes from genre to genre nearly made me chuckle. Any type of time signature is fair game, whether it’s a waltz or an early-era rock-and-roll drive.

I think I can isolate the synthesizer work as the element that might be most polarizing for listeners; it’s the brand of synthesizer sound that so clearly wants to sound like something else (brass, string ensembles) but so clearly sounds like a tinny, underpowered synthesizer. I started wishing I could just listen to the guitar, bass, and drums and remove the keys entirely.

Throw one of these tracks into your set for a roughly six minute dose of nerdy progressive rock exhibitionism with campy pop sensibilities. Recommended tracks include “Chaos Point”, Enough”, and “Fin”.

Khôrada – “Salt” – [Prophecy]

atavist   5/15/2019   A Library, CD

Khôrada is comprised of members of Agalloch, and those familiar with that band will recognize their earnest, despairing songwriting style here. However, this project mixes in some different instrumentation, and has abandoned Agalloch’s ethereal screaming style of vocalization in favor of clean, though pained (and at times anguished), vocals. There are plenty of heavy riffs and kick drum flurries to be found in the high-gloss production courtesy of Billy Anderson, but also quieter, contemplative moments. Beautiful guitar melodies are a real highlight. Throughout, the lyrics grapple with our current era, one marked by unyielding apathy and insatiable corporate appetites at the onset of climate change. Rather than present unbridled fury at the world’s end, the sound has a sadness and desperation shading into resignation. If anything, I wanted this album to take that last step into complete abandon and destruction, but these compositions exhibit considerable restraint.

Headroom – “Head In The Clouds” – [Trouble In Mind]

atavist   4/17/2019   12-inch, A Library

Five beautiful psych jams are provided here as your spaced-out bliss soundtrack. There’s nothing too complex or fussy here to interrupt the vibe. Track one, “How to Grow Evil Flowers”, establishes a hypnotic bass line and superimposes a guitar out on a journey. One can imagine a walk in the clouds. T2, “Millers Pond”, adds some very washed-out vocals. T3, “The Second Blazing Star”, returns to an instrumental format, and again, the rhythm section establishes a structure that allows the guitar to take a ramble in the woods. T4, the title track, gets into some synthy territory, with sustained synth drones and maxed-out guitar textures. T5, “Flower of Light”, closes the record out like a wistful, sun-drenched afternoon. This record will feel at home on playlists steeped in Carlton Melton and Bardo Pond, but you might as well play it up and down the schedule.

Evans, Peter / Weasel Walter – “Poisonous” – [Ug/Explode]

atavist   4/17/2019   CD, Jazz

Presented here are seven frantic, manic blasts of trumpet and drums. How much sound can these two instruments produce, with the help of some electronics? Turns out the answer is, “not a small amount”. This release is firmly in the free jazz vein, as in free to be as noisy and unhinged as possible. Peter Evans spans the spectrum of possible trumpet sounds, and manages to coax new, decidedly un-trumpet-like sounds from his tortured brass. KFJC has other pieces from this artist. Weasel Walter, a veteran of a variety of projects both in and out of the jazz world, including Flying Luttenbachers and To Live and Shave in LA, is well-known to the station for his frenetic drum rushes and all-around troublemaking, and here he’s exorcising more of his demons with unabated fury. A highlight for me is track three, “Sulfur Tuft”—the echoey, reverby washes of sound quickly pile up into a writhing, shrieking wall that captured my attention and held on for dear life.

Morher – “Rabbit Holes (and Other Exits)”- [Self-released]

atavist   4/3/2019   A Library, Cassette

Some of the KFJC staff will remember Morher from last summer, when “Sympathy for the Creator” was in current. This album was released one year later after “Sympathy…”, and offers the listener six tracks of rich, haunting, atmospheric tones, punctuated at times by echoing percussive elements, and anchored by ethereal vocals that rise and fall in volume from the surrounding soundscape, or are sampled and reassembled in new configurations. Each track is in the range of ten minutes, whereas the tracks on “Sympathy…” were generally longer. The tone is a bit darker than the previous effort. A current of anxiety and foreboding runs through the piece, and the sounds are produced with a compelling mix of clarity and distortion/obscurity.

Hippopotamus – “Attn: Span” – [Compared to What Records]

atavist   3/20/2019   7-inch, A Library

A pretty cool time capsule here of mid-nineties math rock, reminiscent of Drive Like Jehu and Roadside Monument, though maybe a little more angular and weird. The recording is characterized by a lo-fi four-track-style quality. The vocals sound normal at 45rpm, but the instruments sound sped up during side A (“Attn: Span”) and the first part of side B (“Least”). Side B mellows out midway through before building intensity. It’s too bad about the F-bomb on this second track, as it has some nice dynamic shifts.

Orcutt, Bill – “Neu Bros / OK Phone / Rural Beatles” – [Fake Estates]

atavist   3/20/2019   12-inch, A Library

Orcutt, known to KFJC for his experimental/free guitar work and, more recently, his collaborations with Chris Corsano, explores two new electronic compositions on this album. Research leads to, among other things, a Github repo, as the sounds were created using “a web audio library that uses method chaining and CSS-style selectors to simplify creating, configuring and connecting audio nodes in the browser.” Side A is comprised of contemplative tones; patterns repeat meditatively, shifting over time. The computer sounds generated by Orcutt’s Cracked app have an organ-like quality on this piece. Side B, in contrast, is frenetic, bubbling computer tones. Patterns persist, replicate, evolve, adapt while maintaining an over-arching, consistent identity. Imagine a visualization of an ant colony or a traffic pattern, how the pixels might jostle around on the screen, and then you associated sounds with those myriad pixels—Side B might be what you’d hear.

Subtitle / John Wiese / Adlib / The Cherry Point [coll] – [Troniks]

atavist   3/19/2019   7-inch, A Library

Track one is comprised of some basic beat machine grooves with stream-of-consciousness hip hop lyrics. Primitive 8-bit electronics round out the mix. We have a couple records by the artist, Subtitle, in the Hip Hop library. Next, John Wiese drops in with with a corrupted dissolution of sound, all jagged edges and jarring transitions. This artist should be well-known to some KFJC DJs at this point. On side B, Adlib provides abstract noise washes with a drum & bass element that staggers in and out of the composition. The end result makes for a fairly compelling track. The Cherry Point closes out the 7″ with a thick mass of machine noise reminiscent of an idling HVAC system in a parking garage. 1982 forever, indeed, but this track only lasts for a minute and a half.

A: Pfeffer Kwitter – “Peller” – [Feeding Tube Records]

atavist   3/6/2019   12-inch, A Library

Recorded using instruments built/modified by the artists in a variety of spaces, including a 2-million gallon cistern with 45 seconds of natural reverb. The artists also integrate found sounds and field recordings from a cross-country road trip. Side A is comprised of one track, “Imp”, which starts with scratchy, trebly, trembling noisescapes, anxious, fretting, at times voluminous. As the track progresses, it transitions to quiet, almost contemplative spaces. Side B, comprised solely of “Prop”, seems to pick up where “Imp” left off, but adds new skittery electronics, noises, static, hisses. The feeling on this track is particularly quiet, eerie, and awash in echoes.

Mattin – “Songbook 6” [Munster]

atavist   2/27/2019   12-inch, A Library

The fourth Mattin addition to the KFJC library, and the third Songbook (we’ve also acquired nos. 4 & 5). Songbook 6 is comprised of 6 6 minute songs, so that’s promising. Oh nice, and recorded on June 6, 2016—I appreciate the attention to detail. Thurston Hunger and Lexi Glass wrote great reviews on the previous songbooks, so seek those out as well. Like previous songbooks, Mattin writes lyrics, which then become the basis for the composition. As he writes in the liner notes: “For making this record the lyrics were used as score; before recording each track, we discussed together how to interpret them.” Which is an interesting idea, given how disjointed the end result is. The consensus of the musicians clearly orients around compositional anarchy.

The record begins with slightly disorienting synths repeating like a malfunction, adding oddly auto-detuned vocals (all lyrics are in German), and then a variety of other sounds and instrumentation come in at various points. Track two: Mattin yells in German, drums keep time intermittently, and a guitar chimes in. Track three: quiet and minimal with the occasional loud moment. Then, spazzy synths, delirious vocals.

Side two has some sounds that are more “songish” than side one, but of course that’s not saying much. Track four launches with a jazzy feel. Psych-ish drums thrum along, and concludes with a hyperspace synth freakout and whispering. Probably my favorite track on the record. Track five has some driving drums. Some cool sub-bass tones are thrown in to track 6, but honestly I was starting to check out at this point. The weirdness here will reward some repeat listening, just be ready for confrontational discohesion.

—Atavist

Is-In-Unsamble – “Is The Belly / In The Belly” – [Gilgongo Records]

atavist   2/18/2019   12-inch, A Library

An experimental, improvisational jazz sort of happening. It’s one of those records where the instruments hang out in groups at a low-key party, and sometimes just go off in corners and talk to themselves while in earshot of everyone else. All the instrumentation and sounds are executed with a light touch. Side two has some almost creepy vocal things going on, and starts to build some wall-of-sound intensity about eight minutes in. The house guests come out of their corners and start to acknowledge each other, creating a crescendo before the final tapering off.

Butcher ABC – “North of Hell” – [Obliteration Records]

atavist   2/18/2019   A Library, CD

Nice “South of Heaven” reference. The thick crust presented here will otherwise ward off comparisons to Slayer. Beautifully satisfying, thick, disgusting riffs. Apparently these folks have been pummeling Japan for two decades, so their filth is pretty tight and old-school in an early nineties sort of way. Most tracks clock in at three minutes or less (the shortest track is 1:14). Track 2 is 5:01, and the last track is a protracted grind jam/amalgamation running to 8:36 where the band allowed themselves to deviate from the format employed in the rest of the album.

Fossil Aerosol Mining Project – “Recounting of Night Time, The” – [Afterdays Media]

atavist   1/23/2019   A Library, CD

This is the fourth Fossil Aerosol Mining Project album to be added to the KFJC library. This installment picks up where their previous releases left off—beautiful, haunting collages of ambient sound with an edge of unease, and capable of carrying gauzy narratives. It’s not beauty for beauty’s sake—these are transmissions from the future, reporting on the impending decay of our civilization’s artifacts. Active since the 80s, FAMP uses found audio and field recordings run through processors and a mixing board. The results are like memories nearly recovered but then lost, thoughts drifting like sand across an empty plain, faded sunlight and dust on long-vacated structures.

PG13 – “PG13” – [Edgetone Records]

atavist   1/16/2019   CD, Jazz

Thick riffs meet saxophone. Sax by P. Greenlief, guitar by J. Shiurba (sounds like he uses an octave pedal), drums by T. Scandura. Driving, mathy rhythms punctuated by freakouts. Would be a welcome addition to the collections of folks into Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Don Caballero, Combat Astronomy. A jazz record that fits in a rock set.

These Bastards – “Old and Pissed” – [Self-released]

atavist   1/9/2019   7-inch, A Library

SFBA hardcore/thrashcore punk. These Bastards employ an old-school method of observing our current situation, at ground-zero of big-tech capitalism, and delivering a short-blast fuck-you­—speaking of which, the FCCs abound. But find a way to spin this regardless. The production finds the right balance of clean separation in the instruments and raw vitality. The band fires on all cylinders, pummeling along, even hooking in the occasional shrieking guitar solo. Most tracks are 40 to 60 seconds long, and one outlier clocks in at ~120 seconds, so cueing will require some dexterity.

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