KFJC 89.7FM

Thurston Hunger

Sunn Trio – "Electric Esoterica" – [Twenty One Eighty Two Recording Company]

Thurston Hunger   6/24/2020   12-inch, A Library

Joel Robinson is the center of this Sunn (and no band connection to Sunn 0 btw afaik lmnop). On these guitar-fueled instros, he’s joined by drummer Andrew Flores and bassist Paul Borman. Phoenix-fired but other Suns in other lands are worshipped. It may be too simple to say Robinsun sic-ly shines a black path through surf and metal, but like any holy Book of Lies, verily that holds some truth. “Alhiruiyn” smacks you both with a flair of misirlou and the dungeon air of a guitar chained in reverb. Other tracks like “Kunz-Pnjua” sweep through sustain, the Robinson’s guitar goes from a whisper to a screaming dune of sound, Borman drops a bolero for the bassline. On later listens to this, Flores really stood out….just chase him through a song like “Eye of Apopis” and “Tantric Feedback Resistor” (which may be a nod to Flores’ work with Destruction Unit?). While the band walks as a trio, a fourth shadow appears before them – Sam Plattner adds fx to the mix, really adds a different lustre, and those who eschew the guitar can appreciate his shortwave (on the closing “Evocation”) and long game in other spots, he dominates “Ilm Au-Huruf” before a stringy sting of improv at the end. Moments like those, as well as the shifting “Majoun,” the tasty “Taqsim for Atargatis” and the droney “Japa III Aiwass” give this album much breadth and room to breathe. While looking at the cabala under the djellaba, it seems this work may be blessed by Bishops, there is some sort of misty mount meru hop-scotch at play, but this heat-seeker of an lp would have wandered its way to KFJC no matter what. If/when they visit our pit, my inner Aladdin wishes for Plattner to be conjured incarnate.

-Thurston Hunger

Moenda – "Moenda" – [Kinnikinnik]

Thurston Hunger   5/27/2020   12-inch, A Library

Now-defunct three piece Moenda released this back in 2011. Band (and label) were from North Carolina, for me this jumps into the parade that features bands like Guerilla Toss and Sea Moss, groups that have a pretty amazing drummer as their majorette. For Moeda, Davey Blackburn is the
percussion whiz, he’s joined by guitar and galactic synth effects courtesy of Ross Wilbanks and Jeremy Fisher. Unlike the referenced bands, there’s not a lot of vocals here (a little chatter on “The Wider the Smile the Sharper the Blade” and maybe a sampled Brazilian priestess on the closer). The music is not so menacing as that Smile/Blade, I’d color it “angry cute” mostly based upon the arsenal of toys that Wilbanks and Fisher. I mean check out “Eschaton” after the big fat synth burbles evaporate, there’s a kind of Gershon Kingsley joy before returning to the world’s end. Another fave is “Cut Here and Here” with a teapot whistle sound slicing through as the song sambas on. Indie instro march and perculate powder, hop in line.
-Thurston Hunger

Moctar, Mdou – "Ibitlan" – [Sahelsounds]

Thurston Hunger   5/27/2020   7-inch, International

Mdou Moctar, c’mon even his name rocks! Mdou (aka Mahamadou Souleymane) was introduced to KFJC by this same fantastic label on the Music From Saharan Cellphones Vol 2 collection, let that be an inspiration to anyone worrying about how the pandemic will impact music, sound will always survive, silicon chips swirling around the desert! Along those lines, apparently this single was to be a limited edition 2020 tour offering, but fortunately this record and songs are unstoppable. The Agadez sound often leaves listeners agog, side A of this does not disappoint, dizzying spin start by Mdou alone, the band then jumps on board – spirited singing doubled by rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, drives Mdou up higher both in voice and on the guitar later in the song, possible dual lead but I suspect it’s Mdou overdubbed and double-fuzzed.
Side B follows that lead with an anthemic, surging number. No vocals
on this one, so a good chance to appreciate the rhythm section, drummer
Aboubacar Mazawadje strikes that snare launching each spiral;
then Mazawadje and Michael Coltun on bass tumble through to the next
round. But make no mistake, Mdou is the Prince here, hammer-on/hammer-off guitar trills reign in a bluesy way, with touches of red.
Pretty amazing that he built his first forbidden guitar, and these days it seems like Agadez is ground-zero for Fender.
Driving modern psych from Niger by way of Sahel Sounds.

-Thurston Hunger

Oxenberg, Dan + Bear Galvin +Friends (Pillow Mt. Conspiracy) – "Early Abstractions Vol. 1" – [Feeding Tube Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/20/2020   12-inch, A Library

Frogs in a blender, punchline to a tired joke, but for KFJC listeners it might be one third of the recipe for this album. On first listen, my sonic blender had the Frogs + Ivor Cutler + “Final Relaxation” (that ol’ fools’ Golding with Hamburger helper). Better peeps would detect Supreme Dicks, Oxenberg’s group of yester-ear. Anyways, this 2019 album has a sorta gentle creepiness, that and the occasional wheezy organ brought Cutler to my mind.

More acoustic than the twin-lead tweakery of the Dicks, but electric six-strings and electronic other things make this more than a freak folk flyby. That and there’s a deft hand in the sequencing. Side B launches so well, “Waves” with your captain speaking, then a laminitis lament for “Barbaro” followed by an instrumental tonic dedicated to “Fernado Rey” with its reverbed electric piano tinkering at windmills and flowing right into “Troubled Waters” – twisted wistful and definitely where the Relaxation kicks in. Other elements tucked in include the headphone smile of “Banjo Coke” and some scene stealers from “Welcome Home Johnny Bristol.” Definitely an album that grew on me…it’s never too late for Early Abstractions.
-Thurston Hunger

Monokultur – "Monokultur" – [Ever/never]

Thurston Hunger   5/13/2020   12-inch, A Library

Downer duo, bedroom synth-pop during a power-outage. Synthesizers paradoxically fueled by some kind of apathy transformer, I guess. Vocals from Elin Engström and JJ Ulius taste of a hunger strike, songs are similarly skeletal. Dubby bass backbone, with light synth spin or barbiturate guitar nibbling at your ears. If you are like me, and you enjoy a drum machine that is need of therapy, this 2018/19 full-length debut will fill your skies with a rich slate gray.
I assume the album title is more a statement on their lo-fi sound than an homage to the same-named online zine. These two Swedeys also spend time changing units in the band Skiftande Enheter. On this album “Som en Hund” is the peppiest puppy of the litter, the last track, translates as “The Long Awaited End” I sure hope there’s life after that. Till then listen to this with a stethoscope, cold to the skin.

DJ meatball challenge: Make up English translations for the titles when on air.

Flores, Miguel – "Lorca / Lost Tapes 1989-1991" – [Buh Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/22/2020   12-inch, A Library

Living in the quaranteen-age, I’ve yet to hold this album (no searching for locked grooves or secret messages etched in runout). That said summoning Flores’ spirit and sounds via the web, I was able to still fall under the spell of this collection. Ethereal sounds, perhaps too good for this world, like the man being honored here – Federico García Lorca. Flores tribute to the assassinated Spaniard is homespun and heartfelt, from a pensive opening of raindrop guitar and piano trickling beneath looming synth clouds, and then into II with a gentle guitar ballad
and a casio soaring like Yma Suma’s soul…the album is a striking accompaniment to a play we won’t see. That said it could double as the imaginary soundtrack to David Lynch remaking El Topo. Flores, a drummer in other forms like Pax, a heavy Peruvian late 60’s psych band, here mostly forgoes the sticks or strident percussion, instead building
moods. III feels like a bit of BBC, IV has some squeaky drums, whistles and Flores shaman chanting, all in a lush garden of reverb. Great! V revs up the skins and feet for an insistent little dance. VI is succubus city. VIII
has quick temper timbred xylosounds of some sort, and the ghost of Maya Deren on sax. Really the whole album has a haunting vibe. VIII visits the opening pensive cloud formation. There are two digital beauties our vinyl may be lacking, but worth tracking down and/or waking up your girlfriend for. The whole album as is has a very nice flow, with the circular ending. Nice that this work of Flores can bloom again via Luis Alvarado’s Buh label out of Peru.

El Hombre del Hambre

Satanique Samba Trio – "Mais Bad" – [Rebel Up Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/22/2020   10-inch, A Library

Bass lines, like tiny black holes, just devouring everything in front of them. Thick and dense. If vocals appear they are kind of Patton-esque, squishy and guttural. Gyorgi? Little retches. Covid cough on #30, but the whole album is infectious. Feels more like a one-man project than a trio made up of five people who’ve been funking around since 2002 in Brazil. Their first album was called “Misantropicalia” which clues you in on their approach, sadly “Mais Bad” is the first album that has nested in at KFJC. Is that clarinet on #05 and #26? Sides split into odd and even tracks, but they’re all odder pop flavors melting your mind away. 10 tracks on 10 inches, so each excursion into BadTripTronics flies by…if these are too long the main Satanique conjuror, Munha da 7 has a one minute full album with single second spasmic cuts. I guess you could dance to pieces here, but I’ll refuse to watch. Sonic fidelity is kept down to enhance your experience and get the “Trio” hopefully evicted from the ProgArchives where beards are mandatory. This has more glitter prog/punk flair and should be loved by the cuica and the undead. Personally it’s nice to see Satan branching out a bit musically.
-Thurston Hunger

Eisenberg, Wendy – "Its Shape Is Your Touch" – [Vin Du Select Qualitite]

Thurston Hunger   4/22/2020   12-inch, A Library

Oct 2018 release, talented tangled fingers on solo guitar (as is the apparent M.O for the Vin Du Select Qualitite label). The opening cut named after deceased artist Sol LeWitt lost me, but in the way Derek Bailey’s work would lose me. Maybe I’m clutching too much to a map that no longer applies. Eisenberg uncertainty principles applied to note selection and rejection? Dipping into “Lethe” track 3, all is forgotten which right about now is about as promising as life gets. That has a great blend of peace and tension, discordant clusters hang in space, the pace is relaxing, with a few flourishes of finger-picking that will bloom later on in another river “Eridanos” which has a lot of furious eddies of playing. Between them “Early November” is dusky and somewhat bouncy. “Designated Mourner” is pretty, with a spider-like balancing of dissembled chord to dissembled chord. “Sawn” speaks to its technique, fingerblade friction used to saw notes off the strings at times, some bluesy 7th comfort tossed in for good measures. The album has a tipsiness to it that is part of its charm amidst avant brainiac complexity. The closer, “All Saints” is a guitar pretending to pop bubble-wrap and/or be leaky faucet. Shape-shifting suits Ms Eisenberg well, as Lexi mentioned check out Birthing Hips also there is Editrix, both of which kinda rule.
-Thurston Hunger

Fat Worm of Error – "Nzznzzzznnznznnn" – [Feeding Tube Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/23/2020   12-inch, A Library

2020 vinyl re-issue of their 2004 early-daze cassette. Though the Worm hails from Massachewzits, they share DNA, clothing and a sonic aesthetic with Caroliner. And add more than a dash of Angst Hase Pfeffer Nase. Noisey wonderment, circuit-jammed and jellied rolls of tape. Not only vocals on some tracks but lyrics printed on the sleeve, so you can crack the karaoke puzzles. Fleas and flies, and the squids are all right? In a better world than this one, these would all be recordings made by children’s toys, or maybe they are. “Tubes” has farty beauty, “Flea God reveals a weird insect kingdom underneath the floorboards of Pee Wee’s Playhouse. “Wolves” is nifty drifty until the jittery critters flitter your ticker. Some of the noise variety here reminds me of pulling a huge bandaid off. Quick little rips and tugs, hits of static, weird electronics. Hard to not love the daughter of the difficult rants (Jess Gordon) over the sound for me.
The Worm still turns!

-Thurston Hunger

PC Worship – "NYC Stone Age" – [SHDWPLY]

Thurston Hunger   2/23/2020   12-inch, A Library

PC Worship is Justin Frye and whoever he can fit into his basement at any given point. Ramshackle tunes with forays into improv captured in willful low-fi. Space is cluttered but varied, the recording raw. Electic guitar is set pretty sharp and shrill, but on tracks like “Heel” you might have it working with/against pretty pings from a toy xylophone. “Way Out” is a sort of psych number, but with a New Zealand feel. Frye himself caught a wave from Virginia Beach to NYC back in 2003 and has stayed afloat there since. This album, his first vinyl, came out in 2009 on defunct VA label Shdwply.

Wordless vocals shine on the first track, the two “Thrills” and “Ahh” that latter with some bass and drum lightning bolt therapy at the end. “Bali Thrills sputters in trumpet, while “Bermuda Thrills” closes side one with a beauty of a locked groove. And it feels like stoned punks summoning Popol Vuh.

B-side scream starts into a dirty acoustic mantra and then some devilish coda, grin and Syd Barret! B2 has R2D2-cum-chimp sax in another closet full of sound, drums bouncing off the walls – straitjacket jazz, no chaser. Drums stay strong right through the cramped halls of “Sunday, Sunday” – a rough gem! “Outer Woods” is for the illegitimate grandkids of Dead fans? Or maybe it’s just freak folk. Do I hear a robot snoring on the closer? More wordless vocals on that one too, no locked groove.

Is their name (and sound) a reaction to weirdness wraught by mere laptops? Better with hands/strings/feet/pedals/mouths/horns?
-Thurston Hunger

Hound Dog Taylor's Hand – "Hound Dog Taylor's Hand" – [Planned Obsolescence]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2020   12-inch, A Library

Seattle project, contrabass leads the 4tet not strictly to rock, nor jazz. On the lead-off John Seman’s work is reminiscent of the guimbri styles of Joshua Abram’s work. Seman’s bass is a heavy anchor thoughout here. On “The Immensity of the Problem” he bum-bum-bum-BUMPS plus Mark Ostrowski on the drums to set up extended solos from guitarist Jeffery Taylor and then Greg Kelley on trumpet. Greg gets more muscle into his hustle here, as opposed to the intriguing but subtle Nmperign. Ah, Taylor is a Climax Golden Twin, he punks up “The Vulgar Ideal” (my fave track here – a ripper!). Things get a little sludgy on “Hostile Architecture” but like a lot of these songs, that serves as a launch-pad for solo ballistics. “Retrieval Technicians” finds a shade of moodiness, that nicely sets up when things come down to the WIRE on the closing track. Ending with “You Can’t Leave Now” is both funny and edgy (listen to Seman saw away on his contrabass). As a side note, KFJC has plenty of the six-fingered six-string slinger Hound Dog from whom the band takes its name.
-Thurston Hunger

Strafe F.R. – "Shadow Position" – [Touch]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2020   12-inch, A Library

2019 release from this duo (Bernd Kastner and Siegfried Michail Syniuga are Strafe Fur Rebellion – aka Punishment for Rebellion). Electronic music tiling much more towards the factory than the dance floor here, the project has been putting out music since 1984. “Nachtmaschine” offers a few ghost vox in the machine (danke to Anna Nettra), amidst bubbling lava lamp gears and sci-fi fly-bys. Digital rain rattles – a pretty mellow trip. “Every Day XXL” has a loping beat, punctuated by burts of sound…some with voices, singing or EVP-esque. That “XXL” marked my spot! “Shadow Position” moves army boots to the club, a thumper strong enough to knock a toupee or three off, the title cut goes through some tune tunnels to ease up on the heavy breaks. “Isabella B” concludes the record, possible piano, prepared and otherwise also embedded in the electronics. Frau Nettra again adds a spectral hint of humanity between the sonic punishment. Not noise, but not merciful either. Short but covers a lot of territory, this Dusseldorf duo are not of the rinse-rhythm-repeat persuasion.
-Thurston Hunger

Hooker, William – "…Is Eternal Life" – [Superior Viaduct]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2020   12-inch, Jazz

Portrait of the Shaman as a Young Drummer. William and friends, 1975-76 – two recorded at public libraries, thee very bastion of civilization (and apparently at times of free jazz!). Four sides. Live. Very very live.

Drum Form – Starts with William singing, less the ecstatic prophet and more the spiritual poet. Gentle bells chime. One man, two arms, a mind and a mouth all firing, and the cat ends up scatting into the distance.

Soy: Material/Seven – David Murray on sweet sax spirals, Mark Miller on bass. Miller mostly scurries after Murray though sometimes strums half chords. William surrounds them both, whole lotta snare going on. Some of his riding the sound those “aaaaah” yells in the mix, around 10min William takes the helm solo. Hi-hat attack. The trio reconnects, things get a little saltier. Yo, soy the sauce.

Passages (Anthill) – David S. Ware leaps into the breach like Ayler on fire, William battening down the flames. Man, by 7:50 the duo is working! William especially. Whatever you call this (passages/anthill?) it’s a helluva rollercoaster!

Pieces I & II – Way way way out in space. A trinary star system with William trading rays and ripples with Les Goodson and Hasaan Dawkins. Quite a vortex of sound.

Above and Beyond – Going out the way we came in, William singing to his skins. Deep drum rolls! Ceremony or solo performance?

Cool early capture of a man who permeates KFJC library. I will always remember (and always be enthralled) hearing his “Architecture (The Book Of Numbers)”

-Thurston Hunger

Pratt, Jessica – "Quiet Signs" – [Kemado Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/26/2019   12-inch, A Library

I remember KFJC’s Harry Haller extolling the virtues
and vibe of Jessica to me years ago. Thanks! Here she
returns for her third full length, not a gal in a rush.
Gentle songs with “Quiet Signs”, emanating from the
car you just passed on the side of the road with its
driver in tears. Mostly the album is Jessica’s voice
over a nylon acoustic, but some nice production from
Al Carlson sinks you deeper into the cushions. Al adds
a flute flourish to end “Fare Thee Well” other tracks
bring in a distant synth, like a merry-go-round in
the dreams of someone sleeping next to you. Does
Jessica give a nod to San Jose on “Here My Dear”
(which seems to know the way, melodically). That song
is NOT a Marvin Gaye bitter dedication to you. But this
album was inspired by a Cassavetes film? Muses work
in strange ways and Hollywood record shops I guess.
Like her debut, Pratt’s voice fits so cozily into the
microphone and snuggles up in your headphones. Listen to
her voice on “This Time Around”, a gentle outline of
reverb. When she goes high, she’s a pixie, but her
lower register is a support koala bear. “Poly Love”
triggers a Burt Bacharach soft scatch on Broadway.
“Crossing” will be used as a killer theme for an
HBO show in three years, so love it now before the
world does (and dig how it flirts with English folk).
“Silent Song” has almost a hymn-like entrance. An album
of love songs but roses do come with a thorn or two.
-Thurston Heartbroken

Gong Gong Gong – "Phantom Rhythm" – [Wharf Cat Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/26/2019   A Library, CD

Percolating rock from a wok made in Hong Kong by way of
China and Canada but studio-fried in Brooklyn. Two guitars
sound a little like a Gang of Four (the band not politicos)
or an echo of the Archie Bronson Outfit. Galloping sense of
industrial blues and riveting rhythms. Maybe the solution
to the Spinal Tap dilemma is here, create drum-proof rock.
The album’s subtitle nails it “Phantom Rhythm.” Hammerdown.
Load your songs with humbucking chunks of percussive guitar
flecks and bass bop slaps, and crunch away. Check out the
instrumental “Night’s Colour (Chongqing)” as an example, it
feels like Congotronic amplified thumb-pianos. Their “Blues”
on #6 has a guitar break like a helicopter w/ guns. Vox in
Cantonese I think, ask your kids or Tom Ng who penned them.
This record insistently grew on me. Don’t miss “Moonshadows”
with an ESG-esque funk that breaks down to snort “White Lines”
on its choruses. Pretty sure I saw LeBron James and Xi Jinping
having a dance-off on that one. The dirty tone on the guitars
on this is pure bliss. Tariff stare-off, don’t forget to rock.
-Thurston Hunger

L. Voag – "Way Out, The" – [Superior Viaduct]

Thurston Hunger   10/26/2019   12-inch, A Library

Reissue from Jim Welton, erstwhile Homosexuals de-bassist.
Perplexing sketches with dashes of pop, but large chunks
of imagination. Use a spoon, maybe Syd Barrett’s old one.
In 1979, well before Camper van Beethoven even thought about
bowling, Welton was fiddling in the “Kitchen.” Hell this lp
even eclipses Tuxedomoon’s debut by a bit. Sax and violin
shaken and strung. Surf + rubbery ruminating bass + tribal
drums + delayed vox-vox-vox, that’s all in one cur – “Living
Room.” The album is definitely room-y. Lot’s o’ bric-a-brac
on each track. “Helping the Police With Their Enquiries”
is a nice faux soundtrack with art brut as an accomplice.
Just a hard to pin down album, go gaga over dada? Welton
not afraid to apply plunderphonics to the mix. Man, even if
I’m not close to the inside of the joke, I’m still happy
enough to sing along with “Your Own Hair – Your Own Chance”
Were you too frustrated or too entertained to make your
way to the Avon Calling moment in “Beauty Spreads” or how
about “According to Freud.” Don’t tell anyone but them
thar be songs, but the album is so much more. Reminds me
of UK Paradigm Discs stuff KFJC connected with a ways back,
and sure enough Welton’s own label – It’s War Boys –
originally issued some of those ear-bender mind-blenders.

L. Voag has entered the KFJC building/library
hope his tunes find you and “The Way Out.”

-Thurston Hunger

Preening – “Gang Laughter” – [Digital Regress]

Thurston Hunger   8/21/2019   12-inch, A Library

Back on the Nordile track, Max Nordile that is (see Uzi Rash and The Trashies among other Oaklandish output in KFJC’s library). Max provides vocals and sax here, the sax he adds is nicely all over the place, skronky, slippery, sweet and multi-tracked as on “Red Tape.” He’s joined by Sam Lefevbre (Warm Soda) on drums and Alejandra Alcala on bass and also vox. In a slight way, their sound reminds me of Iconoclast as a sort of obtuse spin on the many angles of old school New York No Wave. But with Max on board, there’s a spazzy punky rant to the vocals. His voice is elastic; do muppets get drunk? Or do they hang out with Bobcat Goldthwait? Anywho I dig his “singing” but definitely it helps when Alejandra adds in some voice too. Her more tranquil spoken and sane approach helps to accentuate the wacky packages o’ lyrics. For example

“Just a nostril away” or

“Grandfather of the year very clean.”

Or on track 9 where Max and Alejandra repeatedly sing “Water Closet” back and forth to each other. And it might just be me, but my fave song “Flotilla” makes plenty of sense to me, and I’m not even a grandfather….as far as I know? Lefevbre’s drums keep the energy taught. Songs are short, fly by at 45 rpm. At times, like the instro title track, other sounds are dropped in like a plinky toy piano and trumpet, but it is really that odd take on a power trio plus the crazed cartoon vibe that make Preening keen!

     -Thurston Hunger

Christensen, Stefan – “Shake Off The Village” – [C/Site]

Thurston Hunger   8/21/2019   12-inch, A Library

The Connecticut connection that brought us the Reptile Ranch reissue has got his own modern thing going on.  Apparently this came out in 2017, before that Stefan was in and on The Estrogen Highs (KFJC has a 7″). Those pop drop days though ran into more heavy weather it seems. His “solo” outing  (some friends help out) has searing guitars, some brittle drums (David Shapiro) and a dour kind of aire that puts me in mind of New Zealand raw/rawk.  (And I typed that *before* reading online that Stefan is indeed a big fan of the mighty Alastair Galbraith.) This whole album would sit and sound quite nicely by Galbraith’s “Mirrorwork.” Check how “Christfire” here bursts electric out of its ramshackle acoustic beginning, and perishes in raging feedback. At “8AM Sharp” we get a military firing line snare drum, with a two-chord teeter-totter guitar under a deadpan dreary diary reading. Donuts and no-quarter on the rising noose of the local news. Potential soundtrack if there’s ever a sequel to “The Execution of Private Eddie Slovik.” “Mr Marquis” shows up next, this is about as peppy/poppy as Stefan’s going to get in the Village. A big strum of acoustic guitar, with a Clean guitar line guiding his voice. Might be an ode to an old high school teacher, definitely had a different shine than most of the album. The closer “Off Minor” clocks in at nearly 9 minutes of Stefan and friends slugging out a fuzzy fury with an overcast sky, sliding a rock ballad through a Vertical Slit, at 6.5 minutes it morphs from studio to stage to jam its way down an amplifier’s throat. I dug “Christfire” and “Over Scrawl” (with some of that kinda AG backwards sounding guitar/ebow/wft beauty). That “Scrawl” bleeds on into “Silverware” so be careful….or don’t and just enjoy the ride.

Reptile Ranch – “Reptile Ranch” – [C/Site]

Thurston Hunger   6/28/2019   12-inch, A Library

Well-preserved Welsh jams from the late 70’s. So stoked to see this reissue after having a taste courtesy of a couple of songs off Messthetic collections. Reptile Ranch were tied to a Cardiff scene that included the Young Marble Giants, booklet includes their manifesto for busting out Z Block Records. Songs are poppy catchy in a certain light, but with a twitchiness that distinguishes them over the decades. “Waterhole” has a warped entrance, some orchestral moves in the dork, before a peppy bassline locks in, with those shimmery seventies keyboards sounding like a siren. Many tracks work in those sensible but simple synths from Simon Smith, who also sings and adds some guitar. Spike aka Alun Mark Williams, provides the snakey guitar work that cuts nicely. Phil John apparently was both halves of the rhythm section, bass and percussion. The LP includes some raw live club cuts on side A, for those who want the “you were there vibe” but the studio sounds bristle with youthful thistles. “W.T.B” (White Tyger Burning) marches and the guitars burble, “Lifeguard” has a tiny splash of early Roxy as the keyboards push and pull the track in little circles; similar keys on “Saying Goodbye” the album closer. “Lifeguard” even floats in some wood flute. Powered by dour outlooks (hello “Young Executives”) quite a nice bit all these years later, kudos to Stefan Christensen and however he made a Connecticut connection to the Ranch hands.

Hey, lookin’ up Chuck Warner (Messthetics/etc) old site, found this
http://www.hyped2death.com/z-block.htm

-Thurston Hunger

Surplus 1980 Collectiv Ensemble With G.W. Sok – “Forget All This” – [Music a La Coque]

Thurston Hunger   6/28/2019   A Library, CD

Kinetic tick-tick-tock attack chock-block full o’ G.W.
Sok-talked vox. Lengthy pieces not just propelled but perforated by percussion. Sok, an ex-Ex type takes the marching music orders from the mighty Moe Staiano (surely an Ex fan, hell his Emeryville studio is named
Ex’pression!), anyways G.W. plucks lyrics from a deep stream of consciousness, that affords a fjord between Elvis in Wonderland and Alice Presley. A touch of Jefferson ErrorKlang too, though I feel Moe owes more to Arnold Dreyblatt and Glenn Branca. There are “only” four guitarists here (including John Shiurba!). Apparently this is the superset of all Surpluses past and present. 12 local Metro-gnomes + Sok as Jesus or Judas, your choice! Moe is nothing if not magnetic, and a charming host. At times the machinery of the music is a bit much, so when you hit a whistle break like in “Gutter” or the oboe/upright bass weaving on “Flim Flam” it does help to blow off steam. Mostly the trains are rapidly running on time here.
All aboard…..
-Thurston Hunger

If you are offended by either a blowjob or a snowjob, then be wary of #4. Personally I HATE snowjobs…

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