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Thurston Hunger

Fireballs of Freedom “Exorcism in the Key of You” 45 rpm [Wantage]

Thurston Hunger   5/16/2005   7-inch, A Library

Rock ‘n’ roll with its heart in the right place, smack dab
in the middle of its inflamed liver. Each song kinda climbs
up little ladders of riffs, with retro dirtbag guitar work
and those damn ninth chords. Kah-runchy. Very, very blarey,
and you can taste the amp hum on the “Exorcism.” Vocals are
that kind of pent-up soul screaming, with RNR-101 emphatics.
On the flip side a couple of covers, more party flavor…
kicking you square in the beer nuts. This time with cheeze
organ nacho baking on a copy of the Barkay’s “Copy Cat.”
Finally to top things off, Hendrix’s “Ain’t No Tellin'”
gets flamebroiled by these Oregon accumulators.
Shot-callin’ and fireballin’

Love of Diagrams “We Got Communication” [Unstable Ape]

Thurston Hunger   5/16/2005   A Library, CD

Vocals blowing in the breeze, bursts of noise peppered guitar
and firecracker drums. What could you want, but more? A LOT
more… Melbourne trio that’s been touring with the Rogers
Sisters recently, and they deliver the same sort of blitzy,
frisky rock. All three sing, often through a squelchy mic.
Guitarist Luke Horton chews up strings, nice choppy chompy
chords and lines. When drummer Monika Fikerle and bassist
Antonia Sellbach both sing with great abandon, panicking is
fun!! Lyrics are kinda semaphoric. Flashed out and repeated.
Like instructions on a bottle of pills. The two remixes are
alright, #4 (“In the Red”) feels like a Tom Ze tribute at
the onset…but later on we get the full throttle drumming
from Maniakal Monika. “No Way Out” gets kinda 80’s Howard
Jones keyboards, a thickened bass, and limp-along handclaps.
Um, I strongly preferred the original’s head-rush. Check
with your doctor. One fine fibrillating debut.

Summer at Shatter Creek “All the Answers” [Badman]

Thurston Hunger   5/16/2005   A Library, CD

Isn’t sorrow sublime? Yes. Is it wrong to feel a twinge of
joy as the tear streaks your cheek? No. For every summer
needs its shatter, and the beautiful things you float in
amber are dead. Craig Gurwich has a little sparrow’s trill
at the end of his voice and it’s a very pretty voice…then
he piles the reverb on with abandon. Not just on his voice
listen to the drums drop-p-p on “Rebecca.” He’s concocted
a Zombies meets Six Feet Under meets the kid who broke your
heart back in high school, and quit acting like you don’t
remember his/her name. Just go put this album on and look
darkly in the mirror and almost cry. This fine CD makes me
want to go hide all of Brian Wilson’s medication. Those who
think whistling is for getting blithely by the graveyard,
well they should listen to the whistling on #6. And for
those who feel lyrics always have to be cryptic to have
heft, c’mon you know all the lyrics to “Heard It Through
the Grapevine” and they get the job done. A lot of harm
can be done in the harmonies too! Especially when you’re
up the Creek without a major chord.

Nudge “Cached” [Kranky]

Thurston Hunger   5/16/2005   A Library, CD

I know some folks will listen to this and hear a subdued
swirl of sound, but I’m telling you this CD is a bad mutha!
Just check out “Contact” which sounds like Shaft in a Bush
of Ghosts. That’s followed by “My New Youth” which tunnels
through This Heat to a crackly meltdown, and then builds
it back up with a beat and static like a bat out of hell,
and I ain’t talking about Meatloaf. Then with “Remove Ya’s”
melodica and shuffle-surging bassline, Nudge have released
the Boredom’s first reggae single before the Boredoms even
thought of it. A prominet ripple in the bass (not always
bubbling over frets, sometimes bellowing up from keys)
unites most of these tracks. At times Honey Owens chirps in
with some vocals that taste like high-tech surveilance,
there but not there. I could say that this band is like
Supersilent on a funk binge, but that’s only right about
1/3 of the time. Is this stationary dance music, liquid
concrete, or just transcending trans-genre. Aces!

(the) Contemporary Jazz Quintet “Actions” jazz [Atavistic Unheard]

Thurston Hunger   5/16/2005   CD, Jazz

You shoulda heard just a what they saw…or sawed. When I
first heard this I thought either they had some electric
whammy guitar or distant voice on the first track. I just
rejected the idea that saw would be used in the free jazz
context. You hear it on the opening of #5, and it sounds
like Niels Harrit’s saw is almost not there, it comes off
as more than tape hiss but less than a fierce wind catching
the mic. Franz Beckerlee’s sax seems to charge the most
with it…buzzing into a held not alongside it, but then
scorching away. When Hugh Steinmetz jumps in on his trumpet
the saw is almost vanquished by the dual horn thorniness…
but instead it never gives up, never backs down and it helps
to keep the sax and trumpet from just spiraling away with
the entire performance. Ultimately the saw blossoms again
usually while Bo Andersen whips the drums and cymbals along
or for one of two sturdy bass solos by Steffen Andersen. For
all of its limited range, Harrit’s saw is repeatedly spell-
binding and a big reason this quintet still sounds so damn
Contemporary today!

VanFlower, Tara “My Little Fire-Filled Heart” [Silber]

Thurston Hunger   4/24/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Sophomore solo spin, from this lady of Lycia. Her heart pumps
with the same slow, dark (and echoplex’d) blood that flows
through the Ventricle label. But while Ventricle’s trickle
usually is icily lacking in oxygen, TARA VanFLOWER’s little
fire-filled heart does actually burn red with some hope and
that sort of faith you catch glimpses of in Jarboe and Steve
von Till. The language of lyrics — heaven, blessed, worship
and on drives the point through the symbolism like a rusted
nail through the wrist. “Conversation with Death” summons
the goth/spiritual nicely. Most tracks are draped with
subdued industrial clang, and the vocals enveloped in
effects. Rain drops on an eerie ice cream truck during the
lullabye “When” followed by a snippet of “You Are My
Sunshine” (a la an early Low album). You could live in hope
but you’ll not stray from the darkness w/ this night
blooming Flower. “Ethernal” indeed.

AK-Momo “Return to N.Y.” [Hidden Agenda]

Thurston Hunger   4/24/2005   A Library, CD, Format

A pretty damn skippy pop record. The boopsie, breathiness of
ANNA KARIN VON MALMBORG is worth the price of admission alone
But her partner in crime, MATTIAS OLSSON is the secret weapon.
The lush sonic beds that Anna cavorts in are feathered by his
fluffy samples, often with cute little percussion shuffles.
He also lays down some silky sheets of old analog synths, and
yes including mellotron!! (Well I think I hear it on #1, #3
maybe #10, or is that optigan?’) You can often hear the vinyl
pip and popping as part of a loop that he has captured, esp.
on the closing number…which takes a surprising darker twist
away from the shiny candy of its predecessors. “Boys & Girls”
Definite mellotron underneath a starless sky and Anna’s voice
doing a wavering “silent scream.” Her voice really has nice
elasticity…beating around the Kate Bush on #2, whistling
through the warzone on #8, purring like Eartha Kitt, flitting
about your brain-branches like the first crush you ever had.
Outstanding Swedish musical massage.

Islaja “Palaa Aurinkoon” [Fonal]

Thurston Hunger   4/8/2005   A Library, CD, Format

This must be the sound that hibernating animals hear telling
them to claw through the ice and snow back to sunlight. It
starts with faint toy piano tinkering under a prayer of sorts.
Islaja is a Finnish femme intoning that prayersong. Her voice
is a warm whispered remembrance of the sun shining through
icy keyboards, bare-tree guitar scrumbling and other bits of
cold, crystalline sound from various Kemialliset brothers and
sisters helping out. On “Rukki” her voice becomes both a fly
buzz and then a phone-call-from-beyond singing ahh-eee-o-ah,
ah-eee-o-ah. Regrettably on other tracks the lyrics are as
wordless to me, as I speak not a lick of Finnish. Using a
translater, I just found the title may mean “burn sun” (but
this is not to say “paivetys” or sunburn) still I stick with
the notion that this has that chill of other free folk from
Finland (and the fine Fonal label). Most songs melt slowly
the title track has little Terry Riley keyboard spirals and
a clap and stomp rhythm. We’ve got to track down her first
release. Tune in, turn on, snowdrop out.

Radar Brothers “The Fallen Leaf Pages” [Merge]

Thurston Hunger   4/7/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Jim Putnam and his brethren create a swirling ocean of song.
Rococo crests of soundwaves lap at the melodies, melodies
that sink like extravagant luxury liners. I mean the chord
patterns almost always descend, in that “Dear Prudence” kind
of way. It’s a good sinking feeling. Like such lush liners,
the movement is stately, so there you are slow dancing on
the Titanic’s top tier, your date has gleaming hollywood
gloss liberally applied to her lips as she whispers along
with Putnam’s vocals. His vocals do their best to stay
afloat, tentatively bobbing up at the very tip top of his
range. As befits the son of a recording engineer/equipment
inventor, Putnam gets along swimmingly in the studio…and
these tracks awash in production seem to flourish rather
than drown. Very thick synth in the forefront of most cuts,
dollops of doo-woppy vocals on some tracks. But below all
the billowiness, the lyrics often twist in little wry
tweaks. A corpse here, a bucket of blood there, a stable
full of manure… I like the holes those lyrics punch
through the pretty, cloudy consistency of this fine album.

Volga Select “The Unconditional Discipline of the Bastard Prince” [Output Recordings]

Thurston Hunger   4/7/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

Parisian pair Ivan Smagghe and Marc Collin hook up for this
2003 top notch tour de fanny. Heavy thudliness reclaims the
dance floor, the bottom line is the bottom end. You can set
your oil derrick to the pound of the title track; discipline
indeed the beat never strays, never breaks. There’s a nice
fuzzy morse code squiggle rhythm on top as well, it closes
out the piece too. Additional bubbles of analoguery get
dropped in here and there, Things really lock in step with
“Sister Poverty.” Superfat synth oozes on top of jackbooty
basslines, with those searchlight pitchwheelin’ and dealin’
keys whirping in on top. Drum-machine gets in some solid
face slapping as well. But it’s the gladiator chords that
give “Sister” her blister. The EP closes with “Joie de
Vivre #1” which feels more like foreplay than aftermath,
a little more motorized movement to this piece (instead of
the megathick marching on the first two). Slippery servo
snippets and a sort moebius soundstrip make this piece
less dancey, but dodgey…in a good, evasive way.

Cooper-Moore & Assif Tsahar “tells untold” [Hopscotch]

Thurston Hunger   3/29/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Tsahar’s Hopscotch label as been delivering pure beauty as of
late, whether en masse with Underground Orchestras or in more
subtle style as with these above-the-clouds duets. While I
remain a charismatic agnostic, it is still hard not to hear
the harp as a heavenly harkening. And there’s something about
the thumb piano, that seems to summon up otherworldly vibes
as well. This release even pipes in a shofar, a ram’s horn
for ancient atonement. But this album doesn’t strictly serve
up its spoils past mortal coils, there’s rootsier-than-the-
holes-in-a-bluesman’s-shoes “diddley-bow” on “Deviations”
and the CD closer as well. It’s a one-string, rubber-band
thing that rumbles and stretches. Or if you want neither
angels nor men, how about computer? While not credited, #8
has Assif spiraling tenor scurries into what sounds like
a bubbling cauldron of circuitry (but possibly a homemade
concoction of Cooper-Moore?’) For as much competing bliss
and brimstone as is found here, this album hangs together
supremely. At once refreshingly relaxing, and gloriously
gnashing. The melody at the end feels like coming home,
the rest of the joys are definitely otherworldly.

Cluck, Diane “Oh Vanille / Ova Nil” [Important Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/29/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Even without a few heartfelt harmonies dubbed in, and the
gracefully guided crack of her voice, the words alone cut
right past the ear to the heart. “And you fade from me like
you know I’m dying.” Ouch. But really you’ve got to hear her
vocalize that sentiment, it winds up catching the body
language of hurt, all in an ornate loneliness despite being
surrounded by a 1000 midwives. Is it a paean to a child lost
during childbirth?’ Listen to “Bones and Born Again” and tell
me. The recipe here is simple enough an acoustic guitar (oft
a 12 string rattler!) and some songs in a shaky voice, I
guess you’ll want to hear her soon. Shaky…but unswerving.
And that weird (New England?) clip to her voice, like a lost
Roche sister? Enunciation of renunciation? Arrow of my
sparrow? These songs take flight, like the woman singing
pretty sad songs strung on a clothes line. Stringing songs
along. They can dry out their tears and catch the scent of
her breeziness. Coaxed, comforted. An essential album for
those with souls cracked but intact.

Giardullo, Joe / Zingaro, Carlos “Falling Water (Live at Mae de Agua)” [Drimala Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/10/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Okay so this duo is really a trio, as the setting for the
sound steals a lot of the scenes. Recorded in an ancient
aqueduct in Lisbon, the amazing depth of this dank palace
alters the timbre of Giardullo’s saxes and especially
Zingaro’s violin to make this album often seem like it is
a communication between hyper-intelligent galactic whales.
Also riding with the extended reverb is fun, so lots of
times a note will drone into a sea of sustain. Slap the
violin’s body and listen to it careen around the cavern
(check #5 for some of that, maybe it is also the fluttering
of Giardullo’s fingering). There are still flights of more
fanciful playing, but the sound comes more often in streaks
rather than flurries. And as such, it is really a wonderful
release. A lot of modern jazz has musicians treating their
instruments and deviously working to pull new sound from
them…the ingenuity of “Falling Water” was to let the
situation instill the strangeness. It is often difficult to
discern who is creating what sound. And that is tremendous!
It would be interesting to hear a recording of just the
instruments, sans the nine-second shadow of reverb, interesting
but not as worthy. Immerse…

Xiu Xiu vs Bunkbed – split 33 rpm [Turn Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/5/2005   7-inch, A Library, Format

Xiu Xiu’s Jaime Stewart sings from a pulsating amnion of
keyboards, rippled acoustic guitar and a slow-motion marimba.
Gutter-gasping “It’s over” in an intimate tale of immolation.
A piercing light shines through towards the end but the grey
overcast nature of the song is what resonates and remains with
you. That and the fact the composer of the song is no longer
around, Bunkbed’s Keith Krate died in September 2002.

The tragedy of that death is driven home on the other side,
a Bunkbed song that sounds like a ballon tied to a hundred
synth strings. Another sort of womb warping to this track,
but Krate’s sugary harmonies float above the liquid sound this
time. Too pretty to stay aloft?

Each song invokes the power of dream in words and hopefully
beyond. Between the countless “It’s over” refrains, Stewart
also sings, “It never ends.” Whether that refers to the dream,
or the pain, only Krate knows now.

Afrirampo “First EP” [Gyuune Cassette]

Thurston Hunger   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The first time I heard Afrirampo was a live set on Brian
Turner’s show on WFMU. I felt like I had seen them… I’ve
been dying for another taste ever since. This is their first
album and it’s the first “free pop” I’ve come across so far.
With efforvescent vocals, and the GOOD sort of short attention
span, a drummer who kicks asteroids, and these rising surges
of vocals. From howler monkey screams to lunar crooning to
shrieky speak to orgasmic laughter. Effects are used once,
not milked to death. You could talk about male-dominated
Japanese culture and make a case for the welling up of some
female spirits, but this is just plain unbridled creativity
erupting like a day glo volcano. These wild women are
fingerpainting with their entire bodies. Self-obsessed?
Yep. Ninja rhythms? Uh-uh. Oni and Pikacyu are here to save
the world with naked energy. Domo Ariblotto!

Antony and the Johnsons “I Am A Bird Now” [Secretly Canadian]

Thurston Hunger   3/5/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

Antony’s voice remains a blessed bandage for all the hurt of
his lyrics. So rich in its delicacy, and so heartfelt that
the aging celebrity vampires who flock to him are simply
overpowered by it. It’s a stake through the phantom hearts
of Boy George, Rufus Wainwright and Lou Reed, and yes they
all are on here…wait, wait don’t run away. The quavering
croon beckons you back poking at the the vulnerability of
life (and vinyl, goddamn our copy had a scar pop bruise on
it right out of the bird canal). Our strange changeling moves
through the family tree here, with songs of boys/girls/sisters
but strives for the higher branches, where only a bird can
alight. I love it when his voice is doubled, trebled and
trembled on top of itself. I try to listen to the words but
his voice lulls me into just hearing the emotions. His many
Johnsons too should get some credit, they are the make-up
that can stand the spotlight. Evidently Julia Kent was in
Rasputina, and here she applies sweet doses of lacrimose.
The enzyme that breaks our bodies down… Right now Antony
has all the fleeting luster of a shooting star, here’s hoping
he breaks out of the tragic trajectory, the collision course,
the fiery fate and instead gets lodged in a safe heavenly
orbit. With a piano and several costume changes. It’s a bird,
it’s a plane, it’s a man, it’s a woman, it’s Antony.

Transformer Lootbag s/t [Science of Sound]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2005   A Library, CD, Format

ebut from Madison, Wisconsin trio on the guitarist’s
(Ricky Rheimer’s) label. Punchy guitarwork carmelizes
this sugar crunchy pop. I hear XTC, Bob Mould, Pixies,
Woozy Helmet, Kaito. Shouty vocals are very condensed,
(with effects) Rheimer and bassist Steven Riches trade
duties, often firing lyrics that overlap each other.
That helps give this music an insistent feel, along w/
Matt Abplanalp’s racy drums. Actually what Abplanalp
does well is to drop out a beat or two sometimes and
let Rheimer’s guitar whiplash a bit. That’s especially
vivid on the last track, which has some sort of nice
whammy on that guitar too…and then the faux runout
groove to boot. Shake your Lootbag.

Narrator, the “Youth City Fire” ep [Flameshovel]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Banks of klanking guitar and some nice whiplash drumming are
at the point where the needle strikes the heart of the manic
panic churned out by this Chicago fourpiece. Yeah, the vocals
at their best are exasperating, probably from years of trying
to sing over stacks of amps without a PA? But the rock here
is as real as a blood blister, and drummer Nate Heneghan just
slaps the skin around a lot. The guitars occasionally get into
some see-saw stereophonic slash versus slash work, and do a
good job of sharing the spotlight, playing off each other.
Flameshovel tends to bring out some of the crispier guitar
torched rock, trebly Fender-fried, finger-licking stuff. As
such it almost is important that the vocals be a little weak
as if to say, “oh yeah we gotta sing something.” Weird little
keyboard interlude on “Horse with Blinders” gets eaten alive.
This ep, is definitely an Emphatic Play and promising for
the hinterlands where rock is still spoken.

The Lab – 20 Year Anniversary [coll] – [self]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2005   A Library, CD, Format

We are lucky to live in an area with such a high weirdo
percentage…indeed we help in our way to boost that number.
But these LAB rats make their own mazes and draw new, wilder,
weirder rats from all over the world. The Bay Area may lack
some of New York’s notoriety, but I think that pays off with
an atmosphere that really let’s anything go. Encourages it
to do so, which I imagine is what the Lab is all about. I’ll
have to talk to Beth Custer who is the chief cheese these
days…if she curated this CD, she gets extra kudos as the
pieces connect from one to another like a relay race from
outer space. Really well done…unabashed brainiac waves
emanate from each piece. A familiar rock ditty from Zmrzlina,
some spoken choked works (Robair’s opera!!), you got vampy
camp from Amy X, drone, jazz and plenty of what-the-hell
is that and why-the-hell-do-I-care-it’s amazing. Each time
through something different leaps out at me, as I write
this Toychestra and the Opera Califas and Jin Hi Kim’s
Korean avant-soul and…hell it really is all mind-bowling,
sticks three fingers in your head and tosses it down the
lane in style! Shoulda been a 10-CPU box set!

Kickass, the “Death Metal is for Pussies” [BiFocal]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The album title says it, I believe it, that settles it.
No…no…no…but if you are like me and sadly cannot
stomach any more throat core vocals you may enjoy this
album of grisly riffage. I know that hyper-technical
guitar work can leave some cold, but don’t the pink
work-out outfits warm you up a bit. Titles namecheck
Led Zep, and Living Color but in addition to guitar
swagger-slash-solipsism, the Kickass do bring in some
trumpet (end of #2) and a little piano (end of #6)
which was a nice surprise for me. More in that vein
would be welcomed. This debut from Greenville, NC may
not prove that pink is the new black but at least
Tyrannosaurus Rock isn’t extinict yet.

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