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Robair, Gino – “I, Norton an Opera In Real-time” – [Rastascan Records]

humana   3/6/2010   A Library, CD

Creativity abounds in this opera dealing with the final moments of Emperor Joshua Norton???s life. Composer/improvisor/percussionist extraordinaire Robair writes: ???This CD represents only one of an infinite number of possible realizations??? of this opera. Read the liner notes and sit back and take in the drone of ebow piano, sustained gong, electroacoustic improv, playback of processed sound, recombinant spoken word, saw, and other instruments as you imagine the life of Emperor Norton flashing before his eyes.

Miss Massive Snowflake – “Songs About Music” – [North Pole Records]

humana   3/3/2010   A Library, CD

Seriously, this is like a great book that you can???t put down. Putting this on makes you HAVE to listen to the next song, and the next…until you???re out of songs, completely jazzed but still wanting more..Shane de Leon???s clear voice delivers political, smart lyrics set to fine accompaniment by bass, bells, percussion, sax, and trumpet, all mixing together to create an intoxicating rock, jazzy, psyche sound. IT???S AWESOME!!! Listen!

June, Sarah – “In Black Robes” – [Silber Records]

humana   2/27/2010   A Library, CD

Sure the songs she writes are filled with themes of death, loneliness, and sadness, but Sarah Rose sings like an angel (a baby angel) and plays guitar with fantastic musicianship. The songs may be simple, but their lyrics are fascinating (4 is a sweet, sad love song, while 2, 5, and 6 deal with death, which June sees as ???home???), and her versatility as a guitarist is admirable (alternating between folk, jazz, and blues). This is a must-play for The Suicide Watch, as well as for many others who will appreciate this talented musician.

White, Ralph – “Navasota River Devil Squirrel” – [Self Released]

humana   2/26/2010   A Library, CD

Folk: Ralph White???s voice with its Texas twang offers simple lyrics, and his musicianship on banjo, fiddle, button accordion, and kalimba fill these tracks with a down-home flavor not to be missed. Some of the fiddle tunes make you want to step lively, and there???s nothing like skillful banjo picking to lift your spirits. Tracks 2 and 6 are instrumentals.

Sons of Alpha Centauri / A Death Cinematic – Split Release [Simple Box Construction]

humana   2/26/2010   A Library, CD

Sons of Alpha Centauri: ???A Death Cinematic??? CD Simple Box Construction (2009)
This is a fabulous split CD of long songs.?? Sons of Alpha Centauri is a ???dark instrumental riff rock band??? hailing from Swale, UK.?? Track 1 is ambient and atmospheric in the first two parts, with powerful heartbeat drums; part 3 is a rock composition, very psychedelic in nature; part 4 is a radio transmission with sirens and electronics used to great effect, like listening to the breathing of a respirator.?? A Death Cinematic is a one-man U.S. band creating magic from a guitar, amp, and effects that he mixes to create a unique improvisation characterized by reverb and feedback.?? This will appeal to many.

Floating Corpses, The – “Live From Ragnarok” – [Self -released]

humana   2/18/2010   A Library, CD

Any friend of Ophelia Necro???s is a friend of KFJC???s, and that???s exactly what The Floating Corpses are. Well, that, and so much more. This live recording from an Oakland warehouse is full of energy, particularly from drummer Krispy Corpse, who masterfully resuscitates each song with percussive rhythms. Roxy Arania Corpse delivers some amazing guitar work and sax, and LuLu LaCorpse does fine keys, synth, and joins Roxy on vox. This rockin??? punk makes death sound pretty lively.

Sun Ra and The Omniverse Jet Set Arkestra – “Complete Detroit Jazz Center Residency December 26, 198, Th” – [Transparency]

humana   2/13/2010   CD, Jazz

???When the world was in darkness, along came Ra.??? (Disc 20, Track 4) No better way to ring in a new year (1981) than with six days of concerts from Sun Ra at the Detroit Jazz Center. With around 224 tracks (some repeated) spread over 28 discs, there???s plenty to choose from in what Dale calls the Sun Ra ???Box of Magic.??? Consult the inserts for a listing of the musicians, track times, and breakdown of concerts by date. As the master composer and improviser says, ???if you visit Planet Saturn, get your passport from me.??? (Disc 22, Track 6)

Tsigoti – “PrivatePropertySpeakstoThePeopleofTheParty” – [Esp-Disk]

humana   1/25/2010   A Library, CD

Thollem McDonas proves his versatility and social conscience with this new release from Tsigoti (formerly Waristerror Terroris war). The lyrics printed on the liner notes are crucial to appreciating McDonas??? spoken and sung vocals backed by himself on beat-up piano, Andrea Caprara on drums, Matteo Bennici on bass, and Jacopo Andreini on electric guitar. The music itself is mostly fast-paced, off-beat, punk rock that perfectly complements the anti-war themes of the songs. This is in a league with Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.

4-Way Split [coll] – [Art Fag Recordings]

humana   1/16/2010   7-inch, A Library

Rock: All of the acts on this split hail from the U.K. except the Dum Dum Girls (featuring Frankie Rose) and possibly the Crocodiles. ???Hollow Hollow Eyes??? and ???Moon Tan??? are upbeat and sung by males. The first has a catchy organ and the second has great percussion. ???Brite Futures??? is also upbeat with guitars, and ???The Weekend Starts Here??? is mild guitar thrash with male vocals. A nice sampling of four cool bands.

Cloud, Dave – “Songs I Will Always Sing” – [Bloodsucker Records]

humana   1/12/2010   A Library, CD

This CD from 10 years ago catches Dave Cloud???s favorite songs. Of the covers (4, 7, 11, 12, 16, 18), ???Lay Lady Lay??? (12) is probably the best. I like the original compositions most, though. The Gospel of Power (Matt Bach, Brian Boling, Paul Booker) provide just the right garage psyche medium for Cloud???s deep Nashville twang. Very weird and great in its way.

Cloud, Dave & The Gospel of Power – “Fever” – [Fire Records]

humana   1/11/2010   A Library, CD

Going strong even after 30 years, Dave Cloud and his band the Gospel of Power (Matt Swanson, Ben Martin, and Matt Bach) entertain us on this CD with six tunes (all except 2 and 4 are original compositions). Guitars, bass, drums, piano, and of course the distinctive growling, purring, croaking deep voice of Cloud characterize these over-the-top offerings. The lyrics are humorously weird, the rhythms recall garage and surf (3 has a Mexican flair: ???Not Tex-Mex, Mex-Mex???), and 6 is a pretty piano and voice version of a Cloud love ballad that ends with a kiss. Enjoy.

Fuentes, Rumel – “Corridos of The Chicano Movement” – [Arhoolie Productions]

humana   1/9/2010   A Library, CD

Thanks to Arhoolie, some voices will not be silenced. Rumel Fuentes wrote these ballads (corridos) to raise awareness of the Chicano Movement. The upbeat melodies executed by Fuentes on guitar and vocalized by him and his wife at the time (c. 1975), Jo Zettler, are heartbreaking when you read the notes on each song. Treating subjects such as Cesar Chavez, Jorge I. Sanchez, Joaquin Murrieta, police brutality, unfair political and social conditions, Fuentes??? music underscores the importance of Mexican-American liberation and empowerment.

Lo Moda – “Replica Watches” – [Creative Capitalism]

humana   1/8/2010   A Library, CD

Fresh and refreshing: Hooks indeed–each song draws you in from the first note. This Baltimore band includes deft percussion from Scott Braid, distinctive bass from Antony West, Scottish-tinged keyboards from Gillian Quinn, nimble viola from Raili Haimila, voices from Peter Quinn delivering lyrics you wish you could read, and guitar from Christian Sturgis that binds the others together in an alchemy that is edgy (3, 5), energetic (2, 10, 11), and sometimes poppy (9). You???re sure to find your brand of gold somewhere in here.

Emergency String (X)tet, The – “Meridians” – [Setola Di Maiale]

humana   12/20/2009   CD, Jazz

Jazz: For this incarnation, the Emergency String (x)tet is a quintet, featuring Adria Otto and Angela Hsu on violins, Bob Marsh and Doug Carrol on cellos, and Tony Dryer on double bass. This is a live recording at San Francisco???s Meridian Gallery on May 19, 2009. Skittering and spare free improvisation without structure is the name of the game.

Espers – “III” – [Drag City]

humana   12/17/2009   A Library, CD

Sometimes classed as ???New Weird America,??? the psych folk contained on this fourth release from Philadelphia band Espers is is transcendent and certainly leads you to believe that the musicians possess the paranormal abilitles their name suggests (ESPers, or extrasensory perception practitioners). The gorgeous folk vocals of Meg Baird and Greg Weeks are set to amazing psych guitars, cello, violins, and percussion. The textures are mellow and each song has just the right amount of time to develop and run its course. True beauty.

Collectables Jazz Classics [coll] – [Collectables Records]

humana   12/12/2009   CD, Jazz

This is smooth and well-produced and absolutely accessible jazz. Tracks 1-10 feature the lovely jazz harp of Dorothy Ashby, accompanied by bass and horns. As one of the great jazz harpists and composers, Ashby forged ground in many ways. Tracks 11-14 were recorded live at the Top of the Gate in 1968 and treat us to the jazz piano of Junior Mance, whose illustrious career is ongoing. He is joined by David Newman on sax (13) and flute (14). Track 12 is a bluesy gem. You can???t go wrong with anything on this CD–it???s all swinging and meant for background music to good, upbeat times.

Eyes Like Saucers – “Parmallee, Tribute to a Dog” – [Ruralfaune Records]

humana   12/11/2009   A Library, CD

Jeffrey Knoch is Eyes Like Saucers, and he loved his dog, Parmalee, to whom this CD is dedicated. Knoch, once the Farfisa organist for Urdog, now specializes in modified Indian pedal harmonium (think pump organ), glockenspiel, toy piano, and other instruments (marimba?). These songs are quite lovely, all instrumental except the last song, a lilting, heartwrenching tune in which Knoch???s rich voice speaks and sings praises to his best friend, soulmate, and advisor.

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