Diamond Version – CI [Mute]

fox   11/18/2014   CD

Under license from Raster-Noton, so the dark, minimal, glitchy electronic beats are no surprise. They are precise, clinical and dehumanized with not a hint of comfort – though KFJC listeners may nonetheless derive comfort for those exact reasons. It undermines 21st-century sources of self-worth: career success, religion, intoxication. CI stands for “Corporate Identity”, the deceivingly friendly face that The Man wears to interface with humans.

#1 FCC. #4 Japanese speech. #6 ft Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys) self-harmonizing an traditional African-American hymn. #9 Telephone customer service robots, amazing.??#2 #3 #5 #7 #8 #10 Instro.

Doomsday Student – “A Jumper’s Handbook” [Skin Graft]

fox   7/30/2014   A Library, CD

Noise-Rock from Providence, RI that is essentially the next iteration of Arab on Radar, who are already well-represented in the KFJC library. We have guitars that screech like a parakeet drunk on rotten fruit off the forest floor; drums to bang somebody else’s head against the wall to; deranged and sometimes unintelligible vox that nonetheless delivers first-rate lyrics.

Doomsday Student are Eric Paul (Arab On Radar, The Chinese Stars), Stephen Mattos (Arab On Radar, Athletic Automaton, & Chrome Jackson), Craig Kureck (Arab On Radar, The Chinese Stars), & Paul Vieira (of The Chinese Stars).

Emptyset – “Recur” [Raster-Noton]

fox   4/23/2014   A Library, CD

Short tracks, industrially-laced sounds that straddle the border of noise and club music. These poems are minimal, not overpowering, with repeated deep thumping throughout many tracks. A couple of tracks do lend themselves more to ambiance, though. Some online reviews mention a basis in analog signals then used to explore relationships with technology and architecture, as codified in sound. Hypnotic and enchanting.

Mika Vainio & Joachim Nordwall – Monstrance [Touch]

fox   4/16/2014   A Library, CD

Monstrance: piece of Catholic ceremonial paraphernalia. This is ambient drone – minimal electronics, guitar, organ, metal percussion. Dark, ghostly, organic, unsettling yet varied.

Alternative track titles: (1) Sex dungeon intruder alarm (2) Howling wind and ocean spray (3) Zombie lab glass shards (4) Making coffins for dead songbirds (5) Night Watchman by the dock (6) Hatchlings in the abandoned incubator (7) Levitation sermon

Soar Trio – Emergency Management Heist [Edgetone Records]

fox   4/16/2014   CD, Jazz

Avant garde free jazz, which is to say, music for rolling in catnip. Melodic and tranquil meanderings, improvisational tension and turbulence. No drums but plenty of rhythm. Entirely instrumental.

Thollem McDonas (b. Palo Alto, SJSU alumnus) on piano, Skeeter CR Shelton on sax, Joel Peterson on bass.

Life Stinks – “S/T” [SS Records]

fox   2/14/2014   A Library, CD

Same monotonous thumping drums in each track and whining guitars, sounds like mellow stoner rock punk. Moderate steady tempo. They hate the world, so I dig it. Vocals are often indiscernible and are not the focus. May have missed some FCCs.

Ambarchi, Fennesz, Pimmon, Rehberg, Rowe – Afternoon Tea [Ritornell]

fox   2/14/2014   A Library, CD

High tea of grasshopper infusion and Nana’s scones topped with metal shavings, served in the midst of a deep-space electric storm.

This is electro-acoustic improvisation – prepared, treated guitars alongside computers. Warm, deep rumbling throughout. Very gradual crescendo and sonic evolution on both tracks bring us in from the edge of audibility at the limit of the known universe. Higher frequency electronic bips and boops for contrast. First-rate layering material.

Gino Robair – Solo Drums with Ebow [Bug Incision]

fox   11/27/2013   A Library

More vibratory explorations from this Bay Area experimental solo percussionist. Watching his videos online explains a great deal about how these sounds are made: an ebow is a handheld electronic device that uses a magnetic field to interact with a string. In this case, the string is from a guitar and the blade from a street sweeper.

This isn’t casual listening, but pay close attention and you will be rewarded by these minimal abrasions. Individual vibrations are often discernible, which gives the sound a very coarse quality.

Unpopular Electronics – She Just Won’t Quit [Holy Cheever Church Recordings]

fox   10/21/2013   A Library, CD

These four untitled tracks constitute the authoritative evolutionary history on a distant planet of electronic life forms. We hear the first pops and bubbles coming from the primordial stew. The first scratchy, unnerving vibrations of love communicated between barely sentient beings. Become absorbed in sophisticated conversations between the ancient electronic analogues of our frogs and mosquitoes. Eventually, primitive emotions of love, lust, loss, hunger and ecstasy emerge, together with evidence of cunning hunting and nest building, fights and airborne skirmishes. The ultimate fate of life on this planet is unknown, although we do hear undertones of despair increasingly towards the end. These stark, bare and haunting UNESCO-endorsed tracks clock in between 10 and 20 minutes each but don’t need to be played in their entirety.

Sole – No Wising Up, No Settling Down [Self Release]

fox   8/28/2013   CD, Hip Hop

If you were to roll by in a pimped-up ride with this album blaring, I would respect you for that. To quote track 5, these are “dense, abstract critiques about modern civilization”. Instrumentals are complex, varied and engaging in themselves. Powerful orchestral backing in track 6. Did you know Emma Goldman was a punk-ass anarchist from 100 years ago? Strong language warning on most tracks.

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