Thurston Hunger

Julius, Rolf – “Lullaby For The Fishes” – [Tochnit Aleph]

Thurston Hunger   2/5/2016   12-inch, A Library

Eerily beautiful instrumentals, originally released in 1985. On
first listen, there’s a mechanical quality, one almost imagines
a Rube Goldberg series of devices set up to then generate the
sounds. There’s not pronounced percussion, but a polyrhythmic
vibe is created in each little loop of soundscape, and how they
don’t necessarily line up perfectly. Like a bunch of buoys
bobbing on the ocean waves. Some other sounds reminded me
of baby humpbacks singing for their dead mother’s descending
in a whale fall, or maybe the “fa love pa” squeak-speak.
Is it a decrepit organ, or a feeble oscillator. The sounds
are short, clipped and a bit mysterious removed from the
installations that originally featured them. The 3 Lullabies
connected to the title are more soft drones, quite short
and more sonic palate cleansers. “Minutenblues” was my
favorite, but “Zwergenmusik” (dwarf music) is towering
in its own minimal method. RIP for Rolf in 2011
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolf_Julius -fur deutsch
-Thurston Hunger

Cross – “Die Forever” – [Sophomore Lounge]

Thurston Hunger   1/8/2016   12-inch, A Library

Dark gnashing Nashville rock, midwifed by Ma Turner. Unlike
his dizzy colorburst porch psych, the sound here is a more
stark black and blacker. Lyrics laced with death obsession,
it’s a fresh corpse however, lively drums from Jason Schuler
and Turner really is a tasty guitar player. At the bleak
heart of it all is singer R Clint Colburn who doubles as
an artist
Clint’s got a stylized delivery, on at least one listen, I
was picking up a heavy Stan Ridgway vibe. The guitar
driven songs have a True Crime kind of flair, no real solos
just churning away, while the grim reaper hides smiling
behind the amps of bassist Jamie Adkins. “Life Not Dreams”
and the excellent “Forever” are two songs that suffer
their own near-death experience before lurching back
alive. “Urgency and the Breeze” with its desolate
bass line question mark and stark drums was a highlight
as the vocals, and lyrics, come sweetly unhinged.
I know Sophomore Lounge label leader Ryan feels there
is a common thread running through the albums they’ve
put out, but I hear a pleasant diversity and new takes
with homage to various rock/pop forms of the past.
-Thurston Hunger

Trio OOO – “Days to Be Told” – [New Atlantis]

Thurston Hunger   1/8/2016   CD, Jazz

DC trio-o-o. led by Aaron Martin on alto. he’s
got the spark and fire of Archie Shepp’s tenor.
Mostly freescaping his way over the rhythm section
of Luke Stewart on upright and Sam Lohman on drums.
The lead-off cut has crisp drums from Lohman, a
quick snare and they are off. “Song of the Sun”
is the outlier, an indigenous improv, distant
ancient flute and tuned percussion. Then back
into new sounds that flow like vintage Village
Vanguard. Stewart walking and popping the bass up
and down while Martin sweetly scurries and hiccoughs.
“I Too” starts with a smokey setting by Stewart
and Lohman, Martin adds an air of mystery,
fluttering half-steps as he loops up and back
on flights, love the smoldering end! Another 10+
min cut to close, “There is Confusion” has
Stewart start with some tense jigsaw lines with
ample silence. Those same lines will be reprised
later at a much more rapid clip as Lohman rides
the hi-hat and racks up snare shots and Martin
veers in and out with solo work. Tasty.
-Thurston Hunger
Fun fact: producer Jason LaFarge and drummer Sam
Lohman were Blue Prostitutes with Steve Mackay.

Linear Downfall – “Sufferland” – [PIAS]

Thurston Hunger   12/22/2015   A Library, CD

Excellent mix of hazy vox and crazy electronics, for
a Nashville gnashing of the ears. Hits me right in the
pleasure pain center, thanks to tweaked out electronics
and ghost piano (#1) and failing medical equipment(#4)
and maybe even a smattering of mellotron (end of #7)
Mellotron on #12 too? Also a gaggle of sax geese on
that “Over My Shoulder” closer which on the CD then
has a fake locked groove starting around 4:40 and it
keeps going till you think about killing your roommate
and instead shut off the CD. Despite that mechanical
maniacal industrial repeat-a-thon, someone in the band
might be wearing Beatle boots, (check “It’s Always
Ending”) it’s been a while since I’ve heard those boots
tiptoeing around, kind of nice. But most of the album
is less moppy poppy, and just artfully twisted, like on
“No Traces.” Female and male vox, the former winning by
a pretty hair (a Rapunzel-like strand floating down from
some high castle). Perhaps just the right number of
Cooks (brother and sister, Chance and Charlee)
in the kitchen….hope to hear more from this
four piece. The album apparently has an accompanying
film but plays just fine on the drive-in between
your left and right lobes! -Thurston Hunger

Marriage – “Pool Blunt” – [Monofonus Press]

Thurston Hunger   12/3/2015   12-inch, A Library

Marriage “Pool Blunt” 33 rpm
Pretty sure I was given this album based upon one track’s
title, and sadly I do not think it was for “Taco Bells
Canyon.” Marriage is a complicated thing, but in this
case it’s simply five bearded Texans (some number of which
were surely former college DJ’s in a previous lowlife).
I think you could throw this on between Spray Paint
and Borbetomagus and the ends would line up. It’s got
some of that chicken plucking guitar but also the
free jazz sprawled across rock style that make this
nation great. Well parts of Austin and sections of
the KFJC library at least. The band might prefer to
be squeezed between Burmese and Sonny Sharrock, or
a different Sonny altogether (the album is a nod to
Sun Ra.) The music is guitar furious, athletic drums
(hi-hat hyperventilating), sax can squeal in and
lyrics are shouted beneath the fray. I wonder if
the songs were all recorded in one-take per side, it
feels like the band charges through them, no clean
breaks…but despite the distorted din, pretty
clean and profficient playing throughout. A well
calculated cataclysm! The first side has some punkier
driven moments, again all songs track, so getting in
and out is kinda of like jumping off a train. But
then again a full side-long express is worth the trip
down the aisle…um….I mean groove!
Bet these guys tear it up live. -Thurston Hunger

Finis Africae – “El Secreto De Las 12” – [EM Records]

Thurston Hunger   12/3/2015   12-inch, A Library

1984 release from a group revolving around guitarist
Juan Alberto Arteche Gual. Recently this was reissued
by the Em Records label out of Japan, which always
catches my eye, if not ear. The sounds here are pretty
new agey, or at least just plain pretty. Hammered dulcimer
and found sound (brooks, birds and maybe a shaman on A3?)
both flow through-out. The album starts with a distant
storm breaking, but then flute blows in like the breeze,
a soothing series of runs, that rise and fall, slowly at
times, and other times quick as rain drops back and fort…
eventually resolving into major key satori. Early Ghost
psych music from Japan was much more ragged and psychedelic,
but there’s a kinda kinship between the two. “Pipo Y
Las Libelulas” drops 80’s synth beams in the pools
of sound while a cello shivers over the piece like
a mangrove tree. The album is deep in water sounds
and metaphors in the track titles. Lots of cascades
and voices as birds, or mutter-moan-mantra as on the
last track trickle in. I remain fascinated by Koki
EMura, the EMperor of EM, and his mission, at least as I
perceive it, to reclaim New Age’s tarnished reputation
among oddball audio enthusiasts. -Thurston Hunger

Sharrock/Oki/Rechtern/Zinman/Sato/Rosilio – “No Is No (Don’t Fuck Around With Your Women)” – [Improvising Beings]

Thurston Hunger   12/3/2015   CD, Jazz

2014 cross continental collaboration, recorded in France.
Calling them a sextet, while true feels a little risky
based on the title. Linda Sharrock divorced from Sonny
in 1978 (he died in 1994) was once mouth and muse
with that great guitarist, (among others, their
exploration of “Black is the Color of My True Love’s
Hair” remains ear-rasing) but we find her avant-garden
kept on growing independent of him. Even now despite
being stricken by stroke, am I wrong to read her
prominent moany, deep-tone vocals as a struggle against
pain and other impingements? She always had a baritone
weight to her voice, but this sounds heavier. Against
her ballast, Eric Zinman’s piano often aims for the
stratosphere. Bluesy dances, working high on the 88.
Itaru Oki on trumpet and flugelhorn, has a nice
stretch 15 minutes in on the studio disk 1. Mostly
the band is improvising at full blender speed. 35 minutes
in on disk 1, dramatic piano, smoldering sax from Mario
Rechtern and some clip-clopping (is it drummer Makoto
Sato….or Linda or ???) makes for a nice calm point.
Yoram Rosilio starts tapping up the tension on his bass.
This leads to a sonic sense of triumph from all six.
But there only getting warmed up. There’s a funky little
silence and coda at the end of that disk. Disk 2
is a live rendition, where Linda is less up front but
still plenty vocal, the horn play reigns supreme on
thise, and again a silence then coda this time where
the title comes from, F-bomb included. Linda sounds
happy and joyful during that exchange, exorcising
demons early has got to be good for the body and soul.
-Thurston Hunger

Striggles, The – “Bilb” – [Rock Is Hell Records]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2015   12-inch, A Library

This is NOT a kid’s band that has a restraining order
keeping them within 100 feet of schools, but maybe it
could be. There’s something peculiar about this Austrian
four piece, glorifyingly and uncategorizably peculiar. At
times they remind me of Ono (not Yoko, the Chicago art rock
tweakers). The album starts off with a fiercely hungry
math rock riff, and gameshow vocals, kinda Sleepytime Gorilla
Museum. It’s weirdly catchy even before the soaring
background vocals join it. Sung in Englitch by the way.
“Die Nation” sounds like Italy’s Starfuckers recorded in
a chicken coop. The drums just hammer down on those poor
chicken guitar licks. “Lady Gag’s Fashion Line” sounds
every bit as sleazy and goofy as you would expect it.
“Lick In My Head” is what happens when you mix sniffing
glue and Barry White, an accidental aphrodesiac…with
these monster Ruins-esque destroyo moments that turn that
“Lick” into a “Dick.” “DC Weg” is another number with a
nasty, thick, chomping beauty. “Sesam Sezam” – remember
that episode where Ken Vandermark played a state trooper on
Twin Peaks? Me neither but it would have sounded like this!
A great combo of squonk and slink! After all that, “Question”
is a folk funk ballad with some guitar strafing coming in at
the end. I think that’s the key that these guys while capable
of writing melodies for head-swaying or face-munching songs,
have a love for improvised ear oddities above all. How else
to explain “Ragtime” with its plink and plonk guitar/bass
that feels like a clock repair shop/prison. There’s probably
some prime-number counting system at work, I dunno but it’s a
*sidelong* number with sideways syncopation and a funny name.
“…Something Happened….” might be techno, maybe not, but
it’s kinda beaty. “Pig Gesicht” is sung into the mirror.
“Net Daham” closes things out with a sort of Albert Ayler
call, before the heavy bass and drums drive a rock lane
through the song, it rides this pounding groove for nearly
8 minutes, before getting worked up like Zu at the zoo.
Elephant bass, and donkey sax… These guys are mammals
but just barely. Feels weird enough to be a Bay Area bred
project, and their first album apparently had a Zippy
headshot on the cover. Life is short, Imbrace the Striggle!
-Thurston Hunger

Zooom Trio – “What’s For Dessert” – [Leo Records]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2015   CD, Jazz

First off a shout of praise for Leo, they’ve got tons
of great releases. (KFJC “only” has 50…so far!)
This project has three o’s in the Zooom, one for
Christian Lorenzen on a variety of keys, David Helm
on the upright bass, and Dominik Mahnig on a cascading
array of percussion. Lorenzen is the featured player,
pretty spacey and always electic. Some of the more
tasteful Rhodes scholarship I’ve come across. But
Mahnig is onto something, he’s clutter creative on
the slow but expansive “Everyday They Run” while Helm
bows and saws away. Helm hits highest on “As Things
Are Now.” I love the almost thumb piano ending on
“Chinaski” into the mess of “Heart’s Song” and then
the whistly pep of “Grimish.” People who fear jazz
in general can feel safe and Money Mark fresh in
“the Underwear Department.” This won’t hit as big as
Sex Mob across the KFJC shifts, but its explorations
are pretty accessible.
-Thurston Hunger

Ma Turner – “Zoz” – [Sophomore Lounge]

Thurston Hunger   11/25/2015   12-inch, A Library

Oedipal pedals spinning fast over and back across an
original 12 cassettes from this Wizard of Zoz. Michael A. Turner spun these seeds, but this vinyl birth was mid-wife???d by Robert Beatty. Not sure if Beatty used an oubliette in the sequencing, but the results are excellent. Call it folk experimental or warped bedroom psych. Very personal expression. Each side plays like a maxxed up mix tape rhythms and repetitions show up from track to track, Turner???s melody might turn into a dirty electro pulse on the next track, or a two-chord pairing in “Living” is brought back from the dead on “Crucifix Cruiser” sounding like a sample smushed of some blades clashing, your grandpa’s organ, and reverbed electric guitar. Lo-fi fits this release perfectly, flea market electronics and ramshackle acoustic guitar and some banjo too. Reading the lyrics on the bright pink zine-sert, they seem simple with a sort of dime-store psychology or deity-free religion, but they’re sung so gently and sweetly amidst the even sweeter (to my jaded ears at least) cacophony they feel more profound. That’s the charm of lo-fi maybe, or perhaps the budding genius of a man who became his own Ma. More great Kentucky Kenfuckery on this label. KFJC probably could have hung with all original 6 hours spread over 8 records, but this single slab will have to do for now. Dig it! -Thurston Hunger

Carsick Cars – “Carsick Cars” – [Bing Masi]

Thurston Hunger   11/25/2015   A Library, CD

2007 noise rock debut from this Chinese three
piece. Zhang Shouwang is a feeedback fiend of
the highest order, shimmer summoning everything
from Galaxie 500 to Sonic Youth. He sings in
both Mandarin and ‘merican, “Gun” is an innocent
ode to rock ‘n roll depravity of yesteryore
with a cry of “cocaine, cocaine cocaine.” The
other English lyrics remind me of that “Rocky
Mountain Low” collection, where rock and roll
was not only the medium, but sort of a tangible
motivation for it all. It’s very crisp pop
rock, big ringing chords, disaffected back-up
vocals, short driving songs that deliver.
Check out the chord fritz fade on “Xiong Mao.”
A stately blitz ballad starts of #10 and then
9:55 minutes in a bonus track arises from
silence. Shouwang is the only one still wearing
his sick seatbelt as both Li Weisi and Li Qing
left the band in 2010 and are now in Snapline.
Carsick Cars have hit some success since then
(SXSW citing) but this album feels fresh and
vibrant, and definitely hearkens back to
shiny indie rock daze. Now, where are the
Beijing Beefheart bands!?!? -Thurston Hunger

Fat Creeps – “Must Be Nice” – [Sophomore Lounge]

Thurston Hunger   11/12/2015   12-inch, A Library

Killer fountain of youth femme-fronted pop rock. Hits my ears
right in the sweet spot where the Delta 5, the Kellies and
even a little bit of Lush give me a head rush. But this band
goes the extra mile, naming themselves after their fans!
Unabashed jangly guitar in force, dig the Let’s Active
ring to “I’ve Got.” Both guitarist Gracie Jackson and
basist Mariam Saleh sing, and when they dive into together
they ride that blue line between sweet melodies and slightly
sour harmonies that just slay me, check “Having So Much Fun” or
the “Daydreaming.” At 45 rpm, the songs fly by (quicker
than a batch of microwave popcorn.) Like “Party” at 1:49,
with an quasi-robotic vocal the band takes one look inside
said “Party” and get the hell out of dodge. Or out of Boston,
as they are Missy-chusetts with a Jim Leonard bumping the
drums filling and rolling pretty nicely. “Back 2 Skool” is an
instrumental, but you might as well sing along. “Nancy Drew”
and “Dad Weed” would be proud.
-Thurston Hunger

Simmons, Sonny – “Chasing The Bird? (Dead Years Ago, Million Years Ahead)” – [Improvising Beings]

Thurston Hunger   11/12/2015   CD, Jazz

Not sure if Sonny’s in the same air as Charlie Parker, or
perhaps an heir to more distant atmosphere’s were Sun Ra flew?
This massive 4 CD monolith is cleaved from another 4 pack.
8 disks for 8 decades for a man who has been on the watch.
The leadoff disk here hold martial arts moves but feel like
14 cosmic improvs, ripples of electronics courtesy of Anton Mobin
and Nobodisoundz, while Simmons dials in sax telemetry. Dig
“Magnus Fact in Act”, instead of playing in a subway, its from
subspace. Astral guitar projections by Michel Kristof and Nicolas
Marmin (Aka_Bondage). It’s like the “Angel Heart” soundtrack on
another planet, great stuff.

CD2 Breath of Life in four tracks/chambers. Starts with Sonny
chanting/incanting giving way to synth woosh and warbles from
Julien Palomo. It feels like an old Fax label release at times
but Simmons twists in mystic notes (is it his English horn in
part 2, with tenor sax fogging below?) Part 3 is power prana
inspiration to start, Simmons with lungs and a little laughter
before a lot of beaming synth which subsides as Simmons sax
dancing solo rises. Part 4 definitely echoes Sun Ra’s old
clavioline, slow sounds while more Simmons flights of notes.
20 minutes or so in, guitar crunches some funk. Simmons then
takes the spaceship to a blues bar, “I was way down there…”

CD3 It’s all about that distorted hum from a rock guitar amp,
Kristof wahs and warps electic string spikes, and Palomo pumps
in eerie organ, at the nucleus of it, Simmons is exploring
on sax, or bellowing along vocally in the fury. Pretty raw
collaboration, far from fusion, and not as driven as the Last
Exit excursions. 25 minutes into “I Can’t Go No Farther Than That”
and Simmons sounds as fresh as ever. On that and “Going Through
the Storms” Simmons sings kinda like Lonnie Holley, rich and
deep. The “Storms” comes with a psych guitar freak-out by Kristof.

CD4 subtitled “Worlds of Worlds of Worlds of” further in the
tracks grow longer, CD2 had 4, CD3 had 3, and this last offering
has just two tracks. The first starts with shimmering keyboards
and maybe mellotron, it has the charged feeling of the start of
a prog saga, the shifting chords exercising gravity on Simmons
freewheeling sax. “Dead Years Ago, Million Years Ahead” launches
with a sort of Sonny scat, before UFO synth moves fill your ears
and the skies. A strange marriage of almost eclesiastic composition
and Simmons moves from more furious free sprawl to a peaceful
call home.
A rich and rewarding release for a rich and rewarding career!
-Thurston Hunger

Phantom Family Halo, The – “Raven Town Witch” – [Sophomore Lounge]

Thurston Hunger   11/4/2015   12-inch, A Library

Excellent work from Dominic Cipolla and pals. Cipolla’s polite and
creepy butler vocals are just one element of the glory here. Riffage
is varied but right on target, dropping dance beats in with some old
molten blues (remolded beyond easy recognition on the lead-off track).
Guitars swirl in from the 60’s, I swear there’s a hint of Sparks at play
here as well. “Serene Eye” has killer dramatic flourishes including
a burning chorus staked out at the end. The title track is a straightforward
Frankie and Annette kind of number. But then look out, I’m not sure
what to call “Down on the Streets” but excellent. Glam-damaged pop
percolating! The B-side is a bit more subtle, the A-side
is flat-out B-witching and B-yootiful! Viva Lousville!
-Thurston Hunger

State Champion – “Fantasy Error” – [Sophomore Lounge]

Thurston Hunger   11/4/2015   12-inch, A Library

Roll over Camper van Beethoven and tell the Dirty Three the news? Forceful four piece from Louisville, that flies a reprise of the college radio pennant from its
championship daze. A slight country twang tang to Ryan Davis vocals, sipping echoes of the hayseed heydays in the ol’ Palace farm/still. The album opts for
more Sunbathing than moonshine, whereas Bonnie PB sees a darkness,
Davis and the Champs see a sunny back yard with a beer in each hand.
Now maybe it’s a bit sunny cuz a neighbor cut down too many trees, or
the postman is a peeping tom. There’s not too much Bible belting or holy
rolling in these songs, although among lyrical gems we find
“There’s a special trashcan in heaven where prayers like mine go”
Songs veer between general twisted insights like that and more personal torn
heart strings. I get the sense that love failed before it could prevail, but
maybe it happened so recently that there’s an optimistic photo finish waiting
for the final results. Or maybe that’s just the band enjoying a good tune, drums
are pretty robust on this, but almost every song has a moment where the
music thins out for a bar or two. Well crafted work, epiphanies can rise on
the shores of those more silent parts. Especially thanks to Sabrina Rush’s violin.
Like Warren Ellis, her playing is both sad and strong, not embarking on
his brand of searching solos, but adding just the right shadows to these
sunny strummers-versus-bummers. The more time I spend with the lyrics,
the more I’m digging them.
-Thurston Hunger and Gene Simmons

Higuchi, Keiko / Morishige, Yasumune – “Awai” – [Improvising Beings]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2015   CD, Jazz

Eight duets of voice and cello, of woman and man. Hints of the
otherworldly, is Keiko channeling spirits, or under vocal
possession? Is Yasumune a shaman, at times his cello slithers as
it he were a snake charmer, more than an askew angle bower. The
short titles and the simple configuration (all acoustic)
belie the complexity of the music. Both musicians get a
“throaty” rasp at times, though Yasumune lacks a mouth, he’s
clearly got ears and seems to be taking cues from the
spring of sounds, squeaky to shrieky and never afraid to be
a bit freaky. In reviewing her work on Utech, I felt the
ghost of Diamanda Galas being summoned (I know she’s still
alive, but isn’t she still a ghost from 1800’s Lousiana?)
Again Keiko hits those shadows, but there’s also a feeling
of Japanese ceremonial music. Speaking of echoes, does
Yasumune quote a Charlie Haden piece briefly on “Calls”?
He’s really good at supporting the gyrations of Keiko,
perhaps helped by his other job playing bass in
Fushitsusha? Actually a solo record of Yasumune would
be pretty amazing… There’s not much to hold on to
hear in terms of structure, but improvising beings are
definitely at play! -Thurston Hunger

Beatty, Robert – “Soundtracks For Takeshi Murata” – [Glistening Examples]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2015   A Library, CD

Robert Beatty, who carries a badge with the band Hair Police, goes
on squiggle patrol for digi-media US artist Takeshi Murata
A UFO fleet of synthesizers sweep through these five instro tracks, the
lead off number sounding like a futurist alarm, but eventually erupting
into analog chaos. #2 is a robot spa and sauna, very refreshing,
human trace voice echoes through-out. We are the ghost in the machine.
#3 is maybe a galactic space-port number, much of the album has a
sci-fi vibe, despite the horror film image of Murata-wolf on the cover.
The big hitter, “Pink Dot” steps up at #4, here’s part of the
videon online. It feels to me like a Philip Glass composition,
going Koyaniscrazy, there’s a slow subtle warp to it, but when I
first listened, it left me cold (and my work-neighbors thought
something was wrong with my laptop). Then I popped it in a CD-Walkman
and kinda cruised around the office, and outside and it weirdly
heightened everything. So certain listeners may find this
exhillirating as they are stepping through life. Lastly #5 is
descending electrochime noises why something burtles beneath.
Keys in the life of songs. -Thurston Hunger

Voicehandler – “Song Cycle” – [Humbler]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2015   A Library, CD

Wow, excellent local Oakland duo on the Humbler label.
Jacob Felix Heule, no stranger to KFJC nor to strangeness,
teams up with Danishta Rivero. Rivero is more than just
a pretty voice (although her plaintive song and scratchy
ch-ch-choked up parts make for an enchanting intro. She
also (wo)mans the Hydrophonium, an experimental instrument
of her own design apparently.
She gets pretty Shelley Hirschy, and Heule bows on things
without strings for “empty and without pain.” Rivero’s voice
is often the focused approach, but Heule’s backing plunky
percussion and deft electronics are not deferential. “a
meager labyrinth” is a drift with sonic fog, “mi falible
mano” has Rivero doing the vocal histrionics of either
the avant garde or a demonic possession. Ideally both.
The album ends with bang, not a whimper or an exorcism.
Heule’s percussion more present, with cymbal and snare,
Rivero, tracked into the machine and overdubbing, is
this a re-mix of the earlier pieces? Everything all at
once, forever? While I’m not sure I follow the text
through the cycle, their reading list (Borges, Burroughs
and Hamsun) is on the money for me (check liner notes).
SF Arts felt proud of this duo too, aiding this Humbler
work with a 2012 grant. Listen up!
-Thurston Hunger

Kaiser, Henry/ Noyes, Charles K. / Park, Sang-Won – “Invite The Spirit” – [Celluloid]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2015   12-inch, A Library

1984 collaborasion with Bay Area guitarist Henry
Kaiser and kayagum mind-bender Sang-Won Park.
The slipperiness (and ebow and other tricks
of the fret) from Kaiser are so soul=Seoul
compatible with Park. The Kayagum can do try
high-pitch tickles, deep whammy bends, slow
slides through a pitch or two…perhaps more
of this speaks to Park’s skill, but the
instrument comes across as amazing. Park also
adds some flutterin’ flute on “Pah” and rich
resonant vocals to launch the stunning side-long
“Sinpuri.” Toy Killer and tripmaster/trapmaster
Charles K. Noyes sketches in percussion, never
dominating the strings, but filling out the
airy sound, without ever coming across heavy.
Apparently these are all improvisations, which
for spontaneity’s sake is crucial, but Park’s
playing and the yes, exotic, sound give it a
feeling of ancient ceremony. You could have
told me this was part of some sacred court
greeting song, and I would have believed you.
Well, maybe not on “Tah” where Kaiser gets
all electric squiggly and the 1980’s flanges
its way into the illusion. “Sansoo” has
more Park singing, and feels like a bamboo
meets bayou slow-drip blues, Park’s tanso
flutters back in on this as well, dejectedly.
The closing track, Kaiser volume pedals
like a pump organ, and Noyes could be building
a scuffling stairway in the distant, closes
the album with a sort of buoyant happiness.
KFJC MD lucky to score this original vinyl
(we also have the trio’s Tzadik 2006 reunion
in the library). Refreshing riffing here!
-Thurston Hunger

Varg – “Ursviken” – [Northern Electronics]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2015   12-inch, A Library

DM without the sparkle? Or maybe a dark sparkle? Often slow
rhythms from Swedish one-man outfit, call it downer beat?
If the drum machines move quickly, they do so in a sort
of Joy Division programming. Jonas R??nnberg is Varg, and this
is NOT the metal project of the same name. Here we have
industrial leaning techno with occasional hints of what
feel like IDM relics in the cockpit. Mesmerizing overall,
“Sharins Soner” elevates soft white noise, and buries the
beats beneath it. “Raggarsvin” stomps out a beat but
drags other creaks through reverb with some noise chirps
and breathy voice slices. “Ohn” discards beats for an off-world
landing on a shadowy planet, the album has its spacey ambient
stretches as well. Varg is most happy on “Asocial 46”
which may say something emotionally, assuming those 808 twinks
count as a form of happiness. But the double lp ends with a
sequence of a village without hope. Overall undeniably bleak,
but engagingly depressive instead of oppressive. If online
translating can be trusted, this is a release of “unalloyed”
(so no overdubs) electronic music. Also two of the track titles
“Ohn” and “Agngatan” are places near Jonas’ hometown,
where he intends to live and ultimately be buried. Hopefully
no time too soon, with plenty more sounds to come!
-Thurston Hunger

Hmmm, google translate is always a risk but the liner notes may
translate as

We have, I think, unalloyed arranged for the most part.
There are almost everything we need. I will live the
rest of my life , nothing should be done differently.
I have told them at that day when I go away , I want
them to put my ashes over Ohn . Where should i get end
my days . At the shipyard and the rock below Agngatan.
I think it is possible to live has , I know you can do
here, too.

Copyright © 2019 KFJC 89.7 FM
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
Public Inspection File