Crystal Stilts – “Love Is a Wave” – [Slumberland Records]

lombard   8/4/2009   7-inch, A Library

This is a fun, jangly single from Brooklyn’s Crystal Stilts. Released a few months back on Slumberland, we’ve got a copy of the white vinyl 7-inch that’s apparently no longer available. “Love is a Wave” feels both 1980s and 1960s retro to me, with sweeping instrumentation, fast noise pop guitars, prominent keyboard, and male vocals. The B-side “Sugar Baby” feels a little more 60s to me, but is equally fun. This is toe tapping pop music that might remind you of New Zealand’s finest from back in the day with a Beach Boys undercurrent.

Shearing Pinx – “Iseult” – [Broadway to Boundary, The]

lombard   8/4/2009   7-inch, A Library

Vancouver’s Shearing Pinx put out this lovely white and grey marbled vinyl 7″ in March 2008. Limited to 500 copies, it features previously unreleased studio tracks from 2007 and a 4-track demo (“Called by the Wrong Name”) from 2006. It’s noisy experimental rock with heavy guitar, drums, and powerful male vocals.

Soft Shoulder – “Hit Single” – [Gilgongo Records]

lombard   8/4/2009   7-inch, A Library

Soft Shoulder hail from Tempe, Arizona and on this 2006 (or maybe 2007) single “Hit Single” they give us a few short blasts of retro punk-fueled noisy improv. The title track “Maryanne” begins as a noisy improv piece with heavy drums and then segues into retro rock territory, with Ashlea’s punkish lady vocals, then we get saxophone and noise again. It’s a cool journey. The B-side “Temperary” has more female punk vocals, pretty ice cream-truck-like tinkling, sax, and feedbacky guitar. It’s limited to 500 copies and it has a hand-made cover.

Women Take Back The Noise [coll] – [UBUIBI]

lombard   8/4/2009   A Library, CD

We originally added “Women Take Back the Noise” to KFJC’s library in fall 2006, soon after its August 2006 release. For some reason we were missing one of the three CDs (the last and noisiest one called “Vociferous”); so now, thanks to curator Ninah Pixie we have the complete package.

This collection is truly an amazing piece of both visual and auditory art. Represented on here are a variety of ladies doing experimental music. Sounds range from noisy to glitchy to atmospheric to almost danceable. You might hear train sounds, bicycle bells, motorcycles, thunder, scraping, feedback, plucked strings, telegram taps, beeps, stretched balloons, and here and there a guitar or toy piano. Occasionally there are voices, rarely singing (Merlin Coleman’s piece is one of the few to feature actual singing, although the piece also gets dark and rumbling), but sometimes chanting and incanting.

A few of the 47 participating artists (from all over the world) include Blevin Blectum, Ava Mendoza, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Fe-Mail, Michiko Kawagoe, and Jessica Rylan.

Its all housed in a zippered orange vinyl purse adorned with a noise-making flower “noise cookie” that when prodded will produce its own sounds. Trading card-like postcards in the package provide all the details on the artists. It’s limited to 1000 copies and I feel pretty lucky that KFJC scored one in all its glory.

Bonfire Madigan – “Lady Saves The Dragon From The Evil Prince” – [MoonPuss Music]

lombard   7/21/2009   12-inch, A Library

Composer and cellist Bonfire Madigan says that she’s finally realized a childhood dream by releasing a clear vinyl record, something that for her hearkens back to her memories of the imagery on the back of the album cover for Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” in which a man is holding a clear vinyl record.

“Lady Saves the Dragon from the Evil Prince” (2009) features 4 tracks, which are all variations on her voice/cello piece “Lady Saves.” Versions range from the intense, cello-forward and crisply voiced acoustic mix (my favorite) to a dub version by Dub I.D. with waves of sound and processing over the vocals. The Neotropic mix is more ominous with some beats (but not really danceable) and more buried vocals.

It’s hand-numbered and limited to 1000 copies and is a teaser of sorts for her forthcoming album.

For more on Bonfire Madigan, see the KFJC review for her recently added to KFJC collection “I Bleed: A Decade of Song.”

Kubin, Felix – “Tetchy Teenage Tapes, The” – [Ski-pp]

lombard   7/21/2009   A Library, CD

Take a trip back to the 1980s on this crazy release (which came out in 2003) from Felix Kubin. “The Tetchy Teenage Tapes” is a collection of material from 1981 to 1985, when Kubin was a kid/teen. In the liner notes he writes,

“Special thanks to my parents because they didn’t send me to the children psychologist as recommended by the Bergedorf Health Centre in 1975…Their faith in my mental balance was unshakeable. Music cures all wounds!”

And, yes, on here we do get some crazy (in a good way) sounds crafted by an artistic, energetic kid. It begins with vomit sounds, morphs into voices from beyond, spooky electronics, creepy laughter, ticking clocks that will drive you nuts, sunny and bent casio, and Demon Attack-like sounds (remember Atari 2600?)—all with pre-voice change boy vocals throughout. There’s a nervous energy, with some super fast tracks and obvious influences from punk and the German underground. One piece really reminded me of Kraftwerk’s “Showroom Dummies” with its dead-pan vocals and mesmerizingly slow beat and yet another (the last) could easily be a pre-cursor to Melt-Banana’s frenzied experimental spazz rock.

Kubin recorded some of this in his bedroom using a 4-track, synthesizers, electronic organ, and a drum computer. Other pieces sound like live recordings.

This is fantastic stuff, revealing the DIY genius often displayed by teen musicians.

Bonfire Madigan – “I Bleed: a Decade of Song” – [MoonPuss Music]

lombard   7/21/2009   A Library, CD

When Bonfire Madigan stopped by KFJC last week for a live performance she dropped off a couple of albums, including this compilation, I Bleed: A Decade of Song, a collection of her material spanning the years 1994 to 2004.

And, indeed, it’s been quite a decade plus for Madigan Shive, beginning with her teen chamber pop band Tattletale (along with Jen Wood). This comp includes two Tattletale tracks from 1995 (“Glass Vase Cello Case” and “Moontime”), material from 1996 when she simply went by the name Madigan (“Pity Rock”), and more recent Bonfire Madigan-credited tracks. All are out of print pieces now brought to light again.

Madigan Shive emerged into the music scene in the early 1990s while a teen in the Pacific Northwest and was (and still is) connected with the DIY-style activism of music-loving riot grrrls. Playing her cello-based and punk-influenced pop she was a bit of a departure from bands on the scene at the time. The intensity of her voice and power of her words calls to mind musicians like Mecca Normal’s Jean Smith.

In keeping with her roots, she also continues her work as an activist and was a founding member of the Icarus Project, which takes a radical approach to mental illness, embracing it as a “mad gift” rather than a disorder.

It’s a great collection that will catch you up on the career of a multi-talented lady with a very powerful voice.

P.S. You can catch an interview with Madigan Shive on KFJC for the next week or so (until July 28, 2009) on our archive server.

Subcutaneous Sound 2007 [coll] – [Mills College Music Prog]

lombard   7/7/2009   A Library, CD

This compilation, “Subcutaneous Sound (New Music from the Mills Music Community 2007” presents a nice range of sounds from graduate students at Mills College. As the liner notes predict, “maybe the artists on this CD will be the musical mavericks who attract the next wave of pioneers to this autre outpost in future years.”

It begins with Ayako Kataoka’s piece “I Love You Adroitly,” which incorporates spoken female vocals, clarinet, flute, percussion, guitar, electronics and dance! Following that is a 50second or so piece full of static, clicks, and beeps by Travis Johns. Liz Meredith manipulates viola on her piece and adds rings and metallic sound, like cranks or winding machinery. Amanda Schoofs’s track features a wailing female voice, flute, sax, contrabass and trombone and makes for a hectic conversation. Aram Shelton provides a pretty jazz-like track with “Peltep” and the chimes add to the beauty. It ends with a dramatic, verging on classical piece by Peter Bo Rappmund.

Dive in and find what you might dig from the more “natural” to the more manipulated ends of the spectrum….it ranges from recording/processing pieces to others with tabla and field recordings.

Siecox – “Friendly House Favorites” – [Siecox]

lombard   7/7/2009   A Library, CD

Somehow lost in the KFJC ether for awhile, this Siecox release “Friendly House Favorites,” from 2006 has resurfaced in order to grace us with its understated improvisations. On here, the Oregon duo of Sabrina Siegel and Charles Coxon create live improvisations (recorded at a Quaker meetinghouse) using guitar, voice, percussion and vibes. Yet amid it all, there are trains in the distance, bells, clanking, feedback and some singing. It moves from subtle and spooky to harsh and abrasive, and then back again, making for a complex journey. Sabrina also plays her guitar with rocks. Rad.

Big Blood – “Already Gone I” – [Dontrusttheruin]

lombard   7/7/2009   A Library, CD

Beautiful sounds in a gorgeous hand-made package (see it in its DIY glory on Big Blood’s blog) from Maine’s Big Blood. This is a new release from spring 2009, part of a double CD series. Colleen Kinsella and Caleb Mulkerin are the main artists at work here (with origins in Cerberus Shoal), with various friends helping out.

I love this release. It’s got a range of influences, including country, folk, and Asian pop. Colleen’s voice is haunting, yet freak folky in the best possible way (I agree with others who’ve made comparisons to Coco Rosie…although it’s more subdued). There’s strum, fuzz, warble, crickets, bird sounds, guitar, percussion, piano and some twangy sing-alongs. Also, a nice (and very different from the original) cover of The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary.”

Dr. Ox – “Dr. Ox” – [Cycling 74]

lombard   6/15/2009   A Library, CD

Dr. Ox is the Norwegian experimental music duo of Tanja Orning (cello) and Natasha Barrett (computer). Tanja Orning has had extensive studies in classical music and was principal cellist in the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra from 1994 to 2000. Since then she’s been doing more experimental projects, collaborating mainly with other artists on synthesizer and computer. Composer Natasha Barrett has done sound art, installations, and traditional works. Their project, Dr. Ox, began in 2005 as an improv project and according to the liner notes of this self-titled release from 2008,

“Dr. Ox works with real-time sampling, transformation and a hierarchy of compositional building blocks in an immediate and ‘live’ performance-art.”

Parts of this are quite hectic, with the sounds of scraping and heavily played strings. There are high frequencies, whistle-like sounds, rumbles, and also some recognizable cello. Interspersed at times are water-like noises, not only dripping, but also bubbling, most notably on “Motif of Myo1p,” which sounds to me like a boat at sea, with waves, scrapes, wind, “normal” cello sounds, and leading to a crescendo with spooky noises and a hectic conversation between cello and computer-generated sounds.

This should be of interest to not only those with a penchant for experimental music, but also to those who love classical and improv of all sorts. The scientific track names are also quite evocative, from “Zinc Finger” to “Beta Receptor” to “Meiotic Recombination.” It’s a nice blend of the natural and the man-made.

Exusamwa – “Please Allow Me to Induce Myself” – [100% Breakfast]

lombard   6/15/2009   A Library, CD

This is a brand new 3-inch CD and first official release from Exusamwa. The Boston-area “hardcore” band also did a limited demo CD in October 2008 that was limited to 40 copies.

This EP, “Please Allow Me to Induce Myself,” is over before you know it, packed with 11 tracks in 13 minutes. All are under 3 minutes, with many clocking in at least than 60 seconds. It starts with a fast, screechy track that’s very similar in style to the frenzy of Melt-Banana. Other pieces have poppier moments, sweet bits of singing, and jazz moments. The 5th track, “Some Carry Their Shroud With Them Upon the Earth,” is pretty, with harp-like sounds, bells, whistling, and a spacier sound overall. Others are gorgeous and contain tinkling glockenspiel.

The band, made up of Doug DeMay on guitar (Fat Day), Nell MaLuf on drums (Goat of Arms), Neil Coletta (Ergot Rot) and Angela Sawyer (Weirdo Records) also utilizes ukelele, electric drums and vintage synthesizers (including Omnichord). All the more intriguing is the fact that Exusamwa did some “guerilla” outdoor shows near Boston in November. It’s a super cool project and a nice listen.

Dragging an Ox Through Water – “Rebukes!” – [Smells Delicious Records]

lombard   6/9/2009   7-inch, A Library

Portland, Oregon’s Dragging an Ox Through Water crafts some nice pop songs on this 7″ (with accompanying CD) from 2006. It starts out slow on the A-side, but with some jazz instruments, then gets more rocking, with male vocals by the second track. The B-side has one song “Horror Toads.” It begins with a much fuzzier sound, with processed male vocals, as if sung underwater. It’s accented by blips and handclaps for a more broken sound than the other tracks. It progresses into a more standard country-ish pop song with simple guitar instrumentation, almost as if two separate tracks. It’s a pleasant summer song.

Silentist – “Silentist” – [Celestial Gang]

lombard   6/9/2009   12-inch, A Library

Wow. This Silentist LP (recorded in 2007) is definitely a gateway drug to metal for non-metal enthusiasts. It’s a project out of Portland, Oregon, featuring M. Evan Burden and August Alston.

The LP begins with some lovely classical-style acoustic piano that gets heavier and heavier, as each track progresses. Screams come in almost immediately, but the piano continues to pound relentlessly as drums and crashing cymbals punctuate the whole affair. The B-side actually begins with a 49 second quiet classical piano piece. The next track (“Bars”) starts out with jazzier piano, then screams. High drama is balanced by the beauty of the piano. This is a really compelling release that’s perfect for KFJC.

Castro, Nick and The Young Elders – “a Day Without Disaster” – [a Silent Place]

lombard   5/26/2009   10-inch, A Library

This is a beautiful little EP from 2007, full of folk songs by L.A.-based Nick Castro and the Young Elders. Nick Castro had his solo debut in 2004 and has had notable co-conspirators ever since, including Josephine Foster and members of the Espers, Cul de Sac and Current 93.

On this particular release, Wendy Watson’s gorgeous voice sails above “Great Divide,” while other tracks are more of a back and forth with Nick Castro’s voice. “Sirens,” in particular, is a standout track featuring vocals by both. Whistle, harmonium, saz (a type of lute), mandolin, guitar, banjo, contrabass and dobro round out the decidedly retro sound. Other players include Christof Certik (banjo, mandolin, guitar), Ryan Kirkpatrick (contrabass) and Jebediah Lipson (dobro).

Tujiko, Noriko – “U” – [Room 40]

lombard   5/5/2009   A Library, CD

Tujiko Noriko’s voice dominates “U,” with its quiet breathiness floating atop the subtle instrumentation and electronics provided by collaborators Lawrence English (drums, bass, synths, keys, and electronics) and John Chantler (guitars, bass, drums, accordian, synths, violin). It’s pretty and mesmerizing, verging into pop territory ever so slightly, yet restrained by fuzz and a bit of glitch. On “Make Me Your Private Party,” she implores the listener to dance, yet the song is both sedate and insistent; more numbing (in a good way) than danceable. Soothingly seductive sounds from this Japanese chanteuse.

Gray Field Recordings, The – “Hypnagogia” – [AntiClock Records]

lombard   5/5/2009   A Library, CD

We’re lucky to have a copy of this very-limited (now unavailable) 2005 release on AntiClock. Formed in 2001 by R. Loftiss, Gray Field Recordings, creates an interesting mood on this album, with a range of sounds and emotions that have a strong sense of narrative, as if the complete piece is weaving a mysterious tale.

It’s both pastoral and spooky, nautical and tribal, equine and cowboy. Tracks vary tremendously, with “Bloodstream” starting out with buried female vocals and evolving into nature sounds, static, bells, and ghostly creepiness. “Ring Bells” features flute and strong drumming, giving it a Native American flavor. “In Exodus” reminds me of the Helen Mirra 10″ “Stowaway“, as we hear what sounds like a boat creaking in the sea. Other pieces are more folky, with pretty female vocals and sad strings. And, yet another includes a sampled country song with the refrain “you have suffered.” There’s also some spoken story-telling, with themes related to horses, waves, and dunes. An impressive effort, with so many elements working to create an intense, beautifully crafted piece of art.

Uncle Woody Sullender – “Live At Barkenhoff” – [Dead CEO]

lombard   4/20/2009   A Library, CD

This release from 2008 covers a live performance by Uncle Woody Sullender from August 2008 at the GartenKultur Musikfestival at the Barkenhoff in Worpswede, Germany.

Woody Sullender is a Brooklyn-based academic/composer/artist (and some-time WFMU DJ) who most recently has been focusing on experimental banjo projects. This live recording from a performance in rural Germany features him playing his “electronically augmented banjo.” It bears similarity to the guitar-work of John Fahey and is quite pretty, but it also verges into drone territory, making it even more mesmerizing. Quite lovely.

Night Control – “Death Control” – [kill shaman]

lombard   4/20/2009   A Library, CD

Something about this CD of home recordings by Christopher Curtis Smith is familiar and nostalgic, perhaps hearkening back to great moments in 1990s pop; yet at the same time it’s been turned on its head. Night Control‘s CD “Death Control” also has noisy moments, feedback (“Star 131”), whirring sounds like a piece of vinyl played at the wrong speed (“No Making”), and beautiful post-rock lusciousness (“Enunciated”). This combination of synth, piano, found sounds, guitar, bass, drum, effects, and vocals just works. Apparently this is a collection of material from earlier CD-R releases that he put out under the name Crystal Shards.

Mythical Beast – “Scales” – [Language of Stone]

lombard   3/10/2009   A Library, CD

This October 2008 release is the debut LP by Katrina-displaced band Mythical Beast. Now living in Kansas City, Missouri; this trio has also put out a few split 12″s (recently added to the KFJC library). It’s heavy with a 1970s rock flavor and psychedelic guitar/bass action. Intense vocals by Corinne Sweeney are bluesy in a lead singer of the Gossip sort of way, but super slowed down and wailing–kind of giving a drone-like quality. Handclaps too (track 4). This really grew on me, seeping into my subconscious.

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