KFJC 89.7FM

atavist

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.

New Primals – “Wraith” – [Self-released]

atavist   12/18/2018   A Library, CD

This is mathy, angular, high-energy noise rock. Jangly guitar spars with a spazzed-out rhythm section. The vocals stay above the din by sort of shouting, but not screaming. The cd is comprised of six tracks, each coming in right around two minutes or less. It vaguely reminds me of things I was listening to in the early 2000s, like Drive Like Jehu, Decahedron, Dillinger Escape Plan (emphasis on vaguely). Vocals weirdly reminiscent of Polvo. A quick shot of adrenaline to liven up the set.

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – “Worst Utopia Ever” – [BUFMS]

atavist   12/18/2018   A Library, CD

This marks the 13th Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble addition to the KFJC library. The weirdness prevails unabated. Twittering, jittery samples. Shimmers, disassembled spoken audio. Coughing amidst an ambient room mic. Layers of spacey synths, tinny fuzz guitar. Track 2 leads off with “Red pubic hair”, so, that might be an FCC. Track 4 almost has a sort of gamelan element. Crashing percussion in upheaval. Irreverent, unstructured experimentalism abounds.

Sordahl, Shanna – “Radiate Don’t Fear The Quietus” – [Full Spectrum Records]

atavist   12/16/2018   A Library, Cassette

Oakland-based Shanna Sordahl blends cello with electronics to produce hypnotic soundscapes. Side 1 produces images of clouds moving at dawn, and the skitters and furtive scratches of cities below not yet awake. Sordahl builds her patterns patiently, coaxing a variety of resonances from the cello.  Each side of the cassette has two longer-format tracks with multiple layers and electronics and concludes with a shorter track in which Sordahl plays a solo cello composition. Side 2 begins with the track “Everyday”, and a more electronics-intensive approach. Articulated bumps and thumps tiptoe towards percussion, drones set the stage, and finally, a vocal element emerges. These are compositions for dreaming, but the dreamer may experience something between anxiety and calm, something restful yet on-edge, the liminal space between waking and sleeping.

No Balls “Bergen 31.5.2014” [Drid Machine Records]

atavist   12/1/2018   A Library, Cassette

This is blistering noise rock made noisier with a raw live recording. Veteran Scandinavian noisers No Balls and related projects Brainbombs and Noxagt are well-represented in the KFJC library, and this entry adds fuel to the flames. Lo-fi and dripping with feedback. Reckless abandon and the pursuit of pummeling repetition. Almost entirely instrumental, bandsaw guitar tone, clipped out drum cymbals. Side B starts with a Brainbombs track and ends with a secret track.

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