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Cavity A.D. – “Wraith” – [Valley King Records]

atavist   8/12/2019   12-inch, A Library

The A.D. in the band’s name derives from the fact that the band returned from a 14-year hiatus with the release of the album “After Death”. Now, with this release, the band is referring to themselves as Cavity A.D. KFJC has some comps and 7”s that comprise a portion of Cavity’s output from the 1990s. Internet research reveals this band was an important institution for the South Florida scene, collaborating with folks who would go on to other projects like Torche and Black Cobra. As Cavity AD, they are permitting themselves to diverge from their earlier sound and experiment with new instrumentation and textures.

A1: Long intro consisting of a Mad Max-style primitive drumbeat that gives way to fuzzy guitar riffing and semi-feral vocals that are yelled more than screamed or growled. A2 Reinforces the long drive across the desert vibe the first track flirted with. The primitive beat is established, and as the drive progresses, sparkling guitar washes over the heavier riff. They really want to explore this feeling—it’s a long passage across the desert. B1 Very industrial vibe driven by the percussion. B2 They save the doomiest for last. Unlike the previous tracks, the drum machine feels out of place here. That riff needs the accompaniment of some old-fashioned slow-motion drum-bashing, with big cymbal crashes decaying into the mix. Maybe that’s too mid-90s to be A.D…

Fennesz – “Plays” – [Editions Mego]

atavist   8/12/2019   7-inch, A Library

Reading up on this on Bandcamp, this is the 7” released in 1998. (It has subsequently been re-released as both a CD and a 10”.) It is considered a bridge between early abstract electronic explorations, like “Instrument”, and later guitar-based works, like “Endless Summer”. (Both of these 12”s are in the KFJC library, among others.) Indeed, the compositions are comprised of a blend of electronics and minimally processed guitar sounds. These two tracks had origins as covers, but you’ll be hard-pressed to hear anything remotely reminiscent of the Rolling Stones or Beach Boys in this material. Minimal, languid, and not even particularly long (3:31 and 4:05), these tracks demand the listener invest their full attention if they are to yield the intended experience.

Shumoto/Rambutan – “The Migration to Warm Rivers” – [coll] – [Lost Forest]

atavist   7/30/2019   12-inch, A Library

A1, 9:41—To begin: acoustic guitar strings are struck and decay against gentle waves of vaguely ominous droney washes of sound. More well-formed guitar chords enter the scene and lay the ground work for the vocals, repeating “river is dry again”, among other things. Extremely subtle transition to A2—the tracks essentially run together. A2, 9:43 (time is approximate since it’s difficult to mark the beginning)—This track has more playful guitar fills and slightly more active vocal work. Some listeners will find the vocals a welcome addition to this rather sparse composition, but I’m not especially fond of it. Vocals can be polarizing depending on the listener. Here, they are forward enough in the mix as to be unavoidable—you’ll be into it, or maybe not so much. The vocal element with the guitar gives this Shumoto side a more folk feel than the psych-inflected Rambutan side. Shumoto is Jefferson Pitcher, a filmmaker as well as a veteran musician. He’s worked with a number of artists, including Fred Frith and Scott Amendola. The guitar work, coupled with the overlaid sounds, exhibits a satisfying amount of restraint and feeling. And in the end, the vocal element occupies only a small part of the run time.

B1, 4:05—From the onset, an electric sound much more psych-influenced than the Shumoto side. Rambutan is Chris Hardiman, and recently we’ve had his project Spiral Wave Nomads in heavy rotation. B2, 8:50—Electronic glitches, atmospheric sound samples played in reverse, echoing guitar gently flitting across the top. The intensity of the composition gradually builds over time. Guitar sounds like lonely wind chimes. B3, 6:55—More sparseness and low-level electronic sound patterns. Waves of delay-infused guitar build to a delicate oblivion. 

In summary, this 12″ provides five meandering and nicely executed tracks of spaced-out, moody, atmospheric, and at times minimal sonic explorations.

Agathocles/Existench [coll] – [Mullet Death]

atavist   7/16/2019   7-inch, A Library

Split 7″ of Belgian (Agathocles) and Canadian (Existench) grindcore. There’s no time like the present to spray it, not say it. The Agathocles side is a simply filthy recording. The guitar has a weirdly hollow sound. The vocalist has a sort of “normal dude” style, akin to shouting “hey, move your car, dickhead!” So it’s raw and immediate and all those good things true grindcore should be. Existench bring a full-on chainsaw guitar sound with borderline comical put-the-microphone-in-the-back-of-your-throat vocal sound, but it works, once they lock in and get established. Longest track: 1:37; shortest 0:11. FCCs on Existench tracks 5 and 6; the latter is a clip of Trump talking about making America great (hate) again, followed by FUCK YOU! That’s the 11 second track. Less is more.

Organized Grime – “Organized Grime” – [Phat ‘n’ Phunky]

atavist   7/16/2019   7-inch, A Library

Pretty straight-up hardcore, a little bit emo-y, but not annoying. Comes right out of the gate with some super tight riffs. Two vocalists harmonize on the first track and the effect is a little weird, but not in a bad way. These are fast, high-energy tracks. “Boner of a Lonely Fart” is more melodic and poppy (pop-ish) and has some nice melodic chords, plus it takes its time, clocking in at 2:49. All five tracks are pretty fun, but…

only track 1 is FCC-free.

Esplendor Geometrico – “Selected Tracks 2, 1995-1998” – [Geometrik Records]

atavist   7/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

This double LP contains a number of tracks not found on the other records in the KFJC library by Spanish industrial pioneers Esplendor Geométrico. As industrial music goes, these are mild sounds that skirt the boundaries of electronic dance music, but seldom cross over to that genre. I found the record has, at times, a hypnotic quality ideal for working. The audacity of many of these tracks is their refusal to add anything else above a seemingly spare structure of beats and vocal samples—as if that should be enough. And typically it is enough. ES establish a script and stick to it. The record is extremely consistent throughout, almost to a fault. There are no high highs and low lows. Some tracks have more industrial textures and metallic sounds happening, while others are a bit more organic and borderline danceable. Highlights: track B1 is a bit more insistent and high-energy, like Kraftwerk with their hair on fire; B2 has a cool ethereal looped sample over a mechanistic beat; C1 has some intensity and a broader range of sampled sounds and clanging rhythms; C3 brings something vaguely drum corps and primal, adding just a few sounds along the way, like a buzzing cricket sound; and D3 kind of sticks out for the more playful sounds employed and the use of what could be the chanting of Tibetan monks—less industrial and much more EDM.

World Peace/Limbs Bin – “Every Ray of Sunshine Once More” – [Follow Me Into The Laser Eye]

atavist   7/10/2019   A Library, Cassette

Four minutes that careen between noise and grindcore. Side A, by World Peace, brings electronics, a raw, buzzy bass tone, maxed out levels, and pummeling drums. There are apparently 4 tracks found in these two minutes, but it seems reasonable to just play it through. Side B, from Limbs Bin, is a collage of some goofy samples and the noise/grindcore akin to Side A. Digitization is in the works, but I recommend just playing the cassette on the tape deck. It’s the easiest cassette you’ll ever cue up.

Remez, Nadav, Tyshawn Sorey, and Antonin Tri Hoang – “ELK3” – [Out Now Recordings]

atavist   7/8/2019   CD, Jazz

This is a recording of a fairly spontaneous collaboration that spun out of an improvised music workshop the three musicians attended in 2014. Guitar, drums, alto saxophone and, occasionally, piano and bass clarinet, dip their toes in the water, splash around a bit, and then retreat into silent spaces. Track 5 in particular has a few of those extended near-silences that can be difficult to translate to radio. When the sound gradually returns, the reed instrument provides a nice droney texture. Much of the record, by contrast, is punctuated by the off-balance drum fills, saxophone-as-mosquito, and guitar picking invoking broken glass experienced during free jazz explorations. It’s good to be getting more of Tyshawn Sorey into the library. This third addition is certainly the most frenetic and clearly improvised piece we’ve added by him. I particularly enjoyed his piano work on track 7.

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.

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