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humana

Zopoula, Hermas – “Espoir” – [Asthmatic Kitty Records]

humana   4/2/2017   CD, International

The story of this double CD is as happy and heartwarming as the music on each CD. Disc 1 was recorded in a West African studio, and Disc 2 has the more homey and true experience of guitarist and singer Zopoula’s magic, recorded live in and around his home in Burkina Faso. Jonathan and Heather Dueck visited Western Africa and had the great fortune to meet Hermas Zopoula, who acted as guide and friend to them during their stay. It was almost by accident that they discovered he was a musician as well as an incredible person. Some of his songs have heartbreaking lyrics, but the upbeat nature of his music attests to his faith and big heart. Enjoy.

Metlay – “Fade” – [Aural Films]

humana   4/2/2017   A Library, CD

This is a gorgeous aural experience brought to you by electronic and visual artist Mike Metlay. I happened to listen to this on a drive to Henry Coe State Park, and it was the perfect soundtrack for my ride. The colors in the track titles seemed to be in sync with the landscape passing outside my window. By the time “fade to green” was piping through the speakers, there were lovely springtime green hills to go along with the Earth mama feeling of the music. Birdsong was a nice addition to the track. Track 3 has some vocalizations that blend in well with the electronics, and there is some sampling thrown in on some tracks, though it is minimal. The entire CD builds from spare outings to the final, epic track that has layers of beauty. Even in the spaces, there is so much going on. Fading never sounded so good.

So Beast – “Kira” – [Time Sensitive Materials]

humana   3/24/2017   A Library, CD

So Beast is Katarina Poklepovic and Michele Quadri. I know nothing about their backgrounds except their names. Together they create some fairly fresh music. Her vocals are angry and punk-sounding, and his balance hers with equanimity. The music includes some samples, electronics, and extreme delicate, nostalgic piano on track 13. Tracks 8-11 are really cool and blend together if you let them.There’s a lot on this disc to please whatever mood you’re in.

Trance to The Sun – “Via Subterranea” – [Below Sea Level Recordings]

humana   2/12/2017   A Library, CD

As soon as I began listening to this CD, my spirit was saying yes. Trance, shoegaze, elements of rock and psych, and fascinating lyrics (which are kindly printed out for you on the liner notes) all combine to make this a truly enjoyable musical experience. Ingrid Luna Blue’s voice masterfully guides you through the shifting depths. Be sure to try out “Lost Garden Gnome Hotline” (3), “Aviatrix” (7), and “Purple Mushroom House” (9).

Fevre, Bernard – “Suspense” – [D/B/A Anthology Recordings]

humana   2/8/2017   12-inch, A Library

This reissue of the 1975 library album composed by French synthesizer master Fevre is still as perfectly fitting now as it was in the 70s for eliciting just the right feeling of “Suspense.” It’s simulataneously bouncey and off-kilter, calling to mind scenes that might go well in Dr. Who or some other quirky sci-fi drama. The pieces are short and evocative, and Naysayer says that Fevre’s work heavily influenced Peter Frampton. Go figure.

Voices of Kwahn – “Peninsular Enclosure” – [Swarffinger Records]

humana   1/22/2017   A Library, CD

Anna Homler lends her vocal talents to this atmospheric, electronic, ambient release from 1997. Voices of Kwahn consists of The Pylon King (Mark Davies), with Dunderhead, Nigel C. Eaton, and Juliet Mootz. There are other worldly bell and chime sounds, especially in “Colonist Dreamer” and the epic “Eclipsed.” Expansive and cathartic, pensive and relaxing.

Mulligan, Gerry Quartet – “Gerry Mulligan Quartet Featuring Chet Baker” – [Pacific Jazz]

humana   1/8/2017   12-inch, Jazz

Add another great record from Gerry Mulligan to the KFJC library with this music that is as comfort food to me. Featuring recordings from 1952-1953 of “pianoless quartet” members Mulligan on baritone sax, Baker on trumpet, Larry Bunker on drums, Carson Smith on bass, Chico Hamilton on drums, and Bob Whitlock on bass, this is jazz from a time when the genre was undergoing changes described on the album notes. Mulligan arranged all and composed some of these tunes, making them all worth listening and swinging to. You won’t be able to stay still, I promise.

Rugolo, Pete and His Orchestra – “Percussion At Work” – [Mercury Record Production]

humana   1/8/2017   12-inch, Jazz

These recordings come to us from 1958 and are as engaging as the album cover. Percussion fans will appreciate Rugulo’s compositions and the way they are executed by the likes of Andre Previn on piano, Larry Bunker on vibes, xylophone, and timpani, and Shelly Manne on drums. Read the liner notes as you partake of the pleasure, especially of “Funky Drums” and “Percussion at Work.”

Nice As Fuck – “Nice As Fuck” – [Loves Way]

humana   10/23/2016   12-inch, A Library

Too sweet? Maybe. But don’t we need a little sweetness? The hot pink vinyl is in sync with the mellow rock tunes written and sung by the all-girl band. Yes, they may be nice as fuck, and what of it? Doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile musicians. There’s bound to be something on here that will brighten up your sets. Proving yet again that you don’t have to be bitchy to get your point across. They had their debut at one of Bernie Sanders’ rallies, so they have that going for them, too.

Le Butcherettes – “A Raw Youth” – [Ipecac Recordings]

humana   10/23/2016   12-inch, A Library

This is the third album by this Mexican rock trio led by Teri Gender Bender, whose voice delivers the lyrics in an alternately mesmerizing and angry way, which is fitting for the subject of the songs. The inner sleeve has a printout of the lyrics, which cover somber topics such as selling girls into prostitution (among many others–read them)–all written by Teri. The music itself is fast-paced and catchy, enticing you into the song and then the lyrics shock you into awareness. Side A is a lot more upbeat musically, or maybe it’s just that it took me until Side B to realize the seriousness of the lyrics. Definitely worth listening to.

Hertz, Jack & Mystified – “Inuksuk” – [Aural Films]

humana   9/23/2016   A Library, CD

The Aural Films label features releases that are soundtracks to films that don’t exist, except in the minds of the listeners. That said, this particular CD is mesmerizing in its ability to call up images of the chilly, desolate landscapes of the Arctic in which inuksuks, man-made stone cairns, serve as guides for travelers who brave the frozen landmasses. Hertz and Mystified do a stellar job creating the minimal, tribal soundscapes in which the percussive beats hauntingly remind us that life is possible even in these frozen climes.

Nguyen, Nhung & Cinchell – “Movement of an Old Soul” – [Time Released Sound]

humana   9/23/2016   A Library, CD

There’s something otherworldly and beautiful about this collaboration between Hanoi-based Nguyen, who contributes the piano, music box, and chimes, and Chicago guitarist and laptop artist Cinchel (Jason Shanley). The mix of peaceful, mellow drones punctuated by nostalgic music box plinking is hypnotic and calming. The design of the CD sleeve shows player piano paper rolls along with diagrams of music boxes, whose movement is indeed reminiscent of an old soul. Let your soul be moved.

Orb, The – “Moonbuilding 2703 Ad Remixes / Sin In Space Pt1” – [Kompakt Schallplatten]

humana   9/17/2016   12-inch, A Library

Take some great music from Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann, set Kompakt founder Wolfgang Voigt (aka Wassermann) and LA producer Teebs the task of remixing that music, and you get this sparkling result.
A1 is super cool remix that starts slow but takes off and builds to a cruising altitude with beats and vibes, not unlike what we could imagine a moon journey would be.
B1 opens in medias res and continues with nice energetic beats with chimes and layers throughout, including samples that sound like “Obi-Wan Kenobi, help me.”
B2 is more noisy but includes bird chirps.
One of the samples says, “First, God does not exist.” No need to worry–as long as music like this does, we’re good.

Ivers, Eileen – “Beyond The Bog Road” – [Www.eonemusic.com]

humana   9/7/2016   CD, International

This entire CD is a delight from beginning to end. Ivers entrances with her fiddle, octave violin, banjo, and mandolin, taking us on a musical journey from the bog road and Celtic traditions of her native Ireland to the root music found in America–bluegrass, French Canadian, Cajun, and Appalachian. Her talents in writing, arranging, and playing the tunes here are remarkably enjoyable. Read the liner notes to get the full experience and story behind each song.

Devil Makes Three, The – “Redemption & Ruin” – [New West Records]

humana   9/7/2016   CD, Country

This is simply spiffy music organized into “Ruin” songs (such as “I Gotta Get Drunk” and “I’m Gonna Get High”) followed by “Redemption” songs (“There’ll Be a Jubilee” and “Down in the Valley”). Pete Bernhard sings lead vocal and acoustic guitar, with Cooper McBean on electric guitar and background vocals and Lucia Turino on upright bass and background vocals. There are also spoons, banjos, and other instruments involved in these mostly upbeat songs.

Winners Aftershave – “Desperate to Please” – [Self Produced]

humana   9/7/2016   A Library, CD

“Dark Anglo-pop with hints of psychedelia and lyrics worth listening to.” This is how Winners Aftershave characterizes themselves. Chris Spence writes and sings most of the songs, which feature other band members on guitars, bass, keys, percussion, drums. The lyrics are interesting in that they tell a story, like a country song does, but with a very different musical setting. Try 2, 7, and 12 for starters.

Bonehead – “You” – [Miss 45 Records]

humana   9/7/2016   7-inch, A Library

Self-described as “trashed pop in Detroit, MI,” Bonehead is the project of Alexandra Lee who wrote, performed, and produced everything on her debut 45. The songs are short and catchy, with her vocals accompanying the guitars and other instruments nicely. More to come from this artist. Keep an eye on her.

Jolliffe, Daniel & Robert, Jocelyn – “Ground Station” – [Surrey Art Gallery]

humana   8/30/2016   A Library, CD

Canadian media artists Jolliffe and Robert deliver a unique creation of beauty here. They wrote an algorithm that tranforms global positioning system (GPS) information from satellites inside a computer and then outputs the data into an electronic Disklavier piano. Although they say it’s not about the music, the resulting notes together make for a surprisingly pleasant aural experience. Their intention is to show how our technological world affects us (thus the use of a technology originally created for military use). Listen to this and meditate on the meaning of location, both in space and in time.

Walter – “Poetics of Space / Like The Fly” – [Famous Class]

humana   8/25/2016   7-inch, A Library

This is a great little 7″ of garage rock (I only classify it to be helpful; it’s a class of its own). “Poetics of Space” is a solid musical asking the question of where does time go, and the guitars and vocals of the trio provide the apt setting for such a question. “Like the Fly” is slightly more upbeat and danceable (to us old rock dancers) and makes us wonder about what being a fly on the wall would be like. Do flies dance? Try this out.

Stanley, Aileen – “Music Hall Favorites By Aileen Stanley” – [Take 2 Records]

humana   8/7/2016   CD, Jazz

Imagine if you will being a DJ in the 50s and having at your command an NBC Thesaurus series of 16″ discs full of music such as the kind found on this CD. Well, we don’t have to, because this little treasure is a perfect example of the recordings made at that time to help radio stations with filler music. Aileen Stanley, so called because she took her brother’s first name when he left her to a solo career, began performing at the age of 5 with her brother. Vaudeville was only the start, as we can see from this CD of songs from the 1900s-1920s but recorded in the 1940s. It is a trip listening to the lyrics that take you back to a time when life may not have been simpler, but the songs were. I have lots of favorites on this one. Go find yours.

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