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Thurston Hunger

Traore, Rokia “Bowmboit” [Nonesuch]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   CD, Format, International

Quiet Griot? Gorgeous voice from this daughter of Mali. She
also accompanies herself on guitar throughout (and evidently
was guided by Ali Farka Toure), but the string instrument that
stands out is the ngoni. It sounds like a lighter, more fluid
form of harp (as played here by Andra Kouyate). It does some
of that gnawa halwa tight picking, which fits in so well with
the bevy of percussion on most tracks. So the music sort of
flicks along, while her voice just floats. She dubs in a lot
of the background vocals, and thus it really does sound like
one mind singing through many mouths. #8 is the most wistful
ballad, too sad for drums. The “kids” from Kronos turn up on
the #5 and #10 but end up taking her voice out of the sonic
wild, and those pieces end up feeling a tad less inspiring.
Note #10 stops at 6:09 in, hidden track starts at 6:57

Ribot, Marc “Soundtracks II” [Tzadik]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   CD, Format, Soundtrack

From this you would almost expect every track to be to
a different film. Extremely broad in sonic scope. Not
that much classic Ribot stagger guitar (check “House of
Mirrors”), but some good carney sounds (“Nausea”, is
that a calliope?), a little industrial robo-spy rivet
fest (“Prowler”), and “Green Party” (#12/#22) sounds
like an FM/AM tribute to “Love and Happiness.” Many
times we are left wanting more (especially on “Miles
Behind”) but “The Persistence of Memory” does get a
chance to stretch its legs and our ears, that track
sounds like an attempt to tunnel through the planet.
More costume changes here than a pop diva, and none
of the artifical drama.

Rapider than Horsepower “This Is My Big Night” [Essay]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Horton hears a Hoosier. Indiana idiot savant rock. This
is a follow-up to an album we don’t have…..yet. Yeah,
the vocals are whiny, but the guitars are even whinier!
Spastic tweaky rock, if the first cut doesn’t win you
over (“I Can’t Survive Without My BeatBox”) as it did
me, then move on I guess. But you’ll miss one of the
more engaging 40 seconds of art rock ever wrought on
“Yeah, Right”. Doppler vocals on that are keen. Overall
Mike Anderson’s vocals made me think of “Hong Kong
Phooey” as much as Beefheart or Pere Ubu. I prefer it
when these horses stampede rather than the couple of
cuts that canter…overall good bent guitar, twisted
lyrics and Anderson’s pretzel mouth (often murmured
along with by the others.) Crowd applause at the end
of some tracks seems stapled on? Language on #5.

Radio Java [Sublime Frequencies]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   CD, Format, International

Third sublime installment in the audio odyssey from Alan
Bishop. He always records radio when travelling. Alan
provides editing by both dialing live for displacement
(#7’s great start) and computer cutting after the fact
for crash comparisons. Unlike the first two releases,
this is pretty much radio collage. Sometimes he lingers
on a flavor (like Sundanese sounds on #1) other times
it’s a blast of Radio Nacional. We get everything from
underwater gamelan stylings (#5 2 minutes in or so)
to another weird soap operatic drama that ends with
a captivating double-vocal chant on #3 about 5 minutes
in to westernized commercial sounds, check #4 about 4
minutes in (cool chime rinses). #4 is probably my
favorite, there’s a karate chop section of state-run
radio that seems like a noise outing, very odd broken
spoken sections, and ending that’s extra-terrestial.
Solid noise on #7 as well. Cheesy metal at the onset
of #6, Bon Scott alive and in exile? That cut is
amazing too, with gooey banter between DJ’s. Pretty
much a grab bag, most radio collage in the US and
UK is played for laughs (People Like Us, Wayne
Butane). This really is different, and rewarding.

Odean Pope “Almost Like Me” [Moers]

Thurston Hunger   2/3/2005   12-inch, Format, Jazz

1982 sounds like next week. Pope’s tenor pumps
nectar over Cornell Rochester’s passionate
percussion and Gerald Veasley’s force-to-be-
reckoned-with electric bass. You heard me,
electric…normally that sends a shiver in
one ear, down the spine, back up and out the
other ear…electric bass in jazz can sound
like a rubber tree in a cartoon. The range
and expression of the upright tower over its
cousin. But this is exceptional, Veasley is
nimble, from deep-fried rumble to lighter
than air harmonics. This release should get
some nice crossover on plenty of shows. At
times there’s a manic power that makes you
think of Japan’s Ruins. Besides a secret
tunnel to rock, there’s another big one to
funk. Still the thrill to the ride is Pope’s
sweet sax sermonizing, matched by his often
heart-stopping (and in some spots heart-
shattering) composition. Drums were recorded
a bit flat…but everything else soars. This
is a blessing from on high.

Phillip Ranelin/Wendrel Harrison “A Message from the Tribe” [Tribe Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/3/2005   12-inch, Format, Jazz

A hippy vibe with Black Pride coming from the flip side of
Motown Records. This album oozes “lanquidity” coasting from
note to note. I preferred the first side, guided by label
co-founder and trombonist, Phil Ranelin. He keeps bassist
Charles Eubanks popping, and then adds vocals from Jeamel
Lee on two tracks to pour a little Angela Davis gasoline
on the simmering warmth. By the time that side ends, he’s
built up a firecracker of a number with “How Do We End
All Of This Madness” on which he sings as well. Ranelin’s
trombone adds to the curvaceousness of this release, only a
few moments of Wendell Harrison’s sax spike up out of the
mellifluous melange. What holds this all together, and
maybe holds the spiking solos back, is the omnipresence of
electic piano. It’s just an instrument that fills, often
prettily, but rarely commands. It is more dominant, along
with some flute on the side that Harrison composed. Some
30 years later, Ranelin is still rolling, co-creating his
own label with artistic control back then showed a lot of
foresight and soulful sound.

The Phenomenological Boys “The Rainbow Record” Dave’s Cock Record

Thurston Hunger   2/3/2005   A Library, CD, Format

It may well be that Goofus and Gallant are the same
person. It also may well be that the P. Boys are a
brother/sister combo Oliver & Angela Alden, along with
their childhood friend Dean Douglas. It may be that
this started as a lark, and still continues as one.
A goofball gumball assortment of pop drops, and to
“clear” the palate arcane swipes from out-of-print
kiddie vinyl. In the lyrics, on top of plenty of
square phrases rhmyed into round holes, we get nods to
Tzadik, Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair
(not Sharrocked, nor Waters’d down…but tinted blonde
or yellow if you will). If the Frogs and Danielson
Famile adopted Vincent Gallo, would Brown Bunny have
had “Brown Underpants” as its theme song? It’s like
they have created song-poems direct and eliminated the
middle matchbook man. Or maybe they’re college DJ’s,
big kids in the treehouse like us?

William Parker Clarinet Trio “Bob’s Pink Cadillac” [Eremite]

Thurston Hunger   2/3/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Featured clarinetist Perry Robinson has played with the
Fugs, Pete Seeger as well as various jazz luminaries
like Archie Shepp, Charlie Haden, Don Cherry. For me,
the clarinet is the neediest of reeds; too often it has
a thin timber and a sort of whininess. Over the course
of these two discs, we get a broader display. On the
studio disk we embark in a toe-tapper riding a slinky,
spiraling melody. “Blue Flower” starts blown-out but
gentle, like writing a poem with a hangover. Over time
its scratchiness goes smooth. Ultimately we get more
flurrious and wobbly playing on “Fence in the Snow.”
It’s a crazy beauty that starts w/ xylophonic tinkery
and includes Parker dervishing on one of his found
foreign reeds himself. That winds up with some weird
aquatic vocals. Aces! The second live Tonic disc finds
Parker as ebullient as ever. The improvising is wide
open, and people can come in on many wavelengths
from Dixieland, to Bop, to vague Klezmer marches to
other regions of imagination.

Oranges Band, the “Two Thousands” [Morphius]

Thurston Hunger   2/3/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Re-release of this Baltimore bands first two ep’s. Provides
both the scratch and the itch for rabid rock-pop. Dual guitar
interplay does a nice job of creating songs that sort of
climb up on top of each other. Keyboards are used as very
minimal highlights (to good effect, not distracting from the
solid, simple guitar). Roman Kuebler’s vocals have a sweet
angsty rasp to them (#1 and #5-Graham Parker anyone?). That
familiar sort of controlled yell, directed rage. There’s a
prozacky ballad #12, but this band is best when it’s got a
frantic woodpecker energy going and Strato-rattling guitars.
Music to inject vodka into, hope they opt for that rather
than hairspray.

Nice Nice “There Will Be Slogans” [White Denim]

Thurston Hunger   2/3/2005   7-inch, A Library, Format

Portland, Oregon duo – guitarist Jason Buehler
and percussionist Mark Shirazi. Kitchen sync
and sample stampede over drums that touch on
tangents to dub. Guitar bubbles served over
some piledriver basslines in other parts.
Tweaked and twiddled transmissions.

Merzbow “Frog” your choice rpm [Misanthropic Agenda]

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

Croak and dagger noise from Masami Akita. Rolling out the
limited (1/1000) “frog-colored” vinyl smacks of crafty
merchandising, but the album smacks of pain that you would
hope for. The concept could be as simple as Merzbow himself
dialing the resistors just right to get a virtual frog
sample that belches forth on the A-side, but I prefer to
think the “Frog” monniker is to represent an amphibious
nature to this release. There are moments that this almost
leaps out to the dance floor, geiger click, hep repetition
and jackhammer isometrics create a sort of tadpole techno.
There’s some faux locked grooves, but grooves nonetheless.
But then we get a cathode-arcing bipolar blitz, sheer
shrieking audio assault. Side A takes a while for the hail
of electric fire to rain down, it ends with a sputtering
disintegration. Those merciless moments subside on the
B-side, not that it’s unnoise; it still annoys but the
presence of Rana rhythm over the dank clank of dungeons
provides for vivid sections. Seems like he’s tossing in
reversing sounds as well. Merzbow’s white noise is the
sum of a lot of colors.

Max Richter “The Blue Notebooks” [130701/FatCat]

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Trembling before beauty music; exudes grace, though shatters
nothing. Minimal steps in other’s footsteps, melodies climb
up a step, down a step, up a step. Tilda Swinton who has
collaborated with the departed Derek Jarman adds spoken
texts, but to my ears she was too often lost in the gauze,
there but not there. Is she Orlando, or just Tiresias?
Typewriter for effect with the words too. For the fattest
FatCat vibes, try #4 or #7, still that’s pretty svelte
for beat worshippers. If you dig “Shadown Journal” check
out some of Simon Fisher Turner’s stuff. There’s also
wounded piano thoughout, the ankle twisted and lingering
on the sustain pedal. My secret favorites were the two
organ numbers, great pools of sound with ripples of
Terry Riley…#5 and #9. If I lied and said this guy
was the big brother to the twin sisters of Mum would
you like him more? Like Mum, Richter can summon moments
of deafening quiet.

Volvox “Bad Earth” [Dual Plover]

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   A Library, CD, Format

This album poses a lot of questions. What would you do with
your life if you survived a three-story fall through a plate
glass window? And what if the stories were taller tales than
that? Where did the “Five Seconds of Marmots” go exactly?
Who is this “Lester Vat” (aka Anthony Riddell). His bellicose
bellowing is certainly what lingers in your ears. Still the
sonic crumpling, oscillating, and burstling that surrounds
these thought and tone poems is vital. Like there is something
really important going on in the next door apartment, and
they’ve got the radio sliding around the dial, and the TV is
on a polynesian soap opera… And what is that guy saying,
exactly? Evidently Riddell is born with a speech impediment
that he has turned into a speech instrument…stretching and
repeating words, he alternatively seems to be both delighted
and disturbed by the difficulty in communicating. And maybe
not just his, but everyone’s. The lyrics often do focus on
this phenomenon. Tracks are revived from original cassette
tapes, and at times, it sounds like the oxide itself is being
chewed and gargled and choked on. Outstanding early 90’s
Australian art-damaged, body-damaged experimusing.

L’Infonie “Vol 333” [Mucho Gusto]

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The intersection of the lines of madness and lines of genius
may not be one point, but two coincident lines. Timeline here
is 1972, behold the third release from Montreal’s ensemble
L’Infonie. Apparently this galaxy of musicians revolved round
a twin-star center of Walter Boudreau and Raoul Duguay, each
respectively contributing it would seem order and disorder.
The first disc can be sliced at different points to produce
Sun Ra keyboard spirals, bluesy swagger, halleluiah chori,
sputtering gibberish, pure prog rock, freeform jazz. Several
themes recur, I love the way it gathers itself: horns shoot
up out of sprawling piano, drum swatches and an anxious bass.
I think the bass really holds a lot of this together, often
it leads the themes. The second disk starts off with back to
Bach numbers. Then in the midst of the “Prelude,” a garagey
number with flute and outta tune vox sneaks in, then things
get mighty howly and big bopping. “Ubiquital” has a knocked
round glockenspiel feel with zithery strings in that modern
classical tension-for-tension’s sake. “La tonne platte”
starts with sideways jazz, gives way to what sounds like a
Butoh race through the audience which returns on an awkrward
cut back to the sideways jazz. Vive le strange.

Long Live Death “To Do More Than God…To Die” [SecretEye]

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Delivered to us by labelmates Black Forest/Black Sea,
this Baltimoric coven including Oxes’ Nat Fowler and
Chris Freeland. They sacrifice somber minor-key mantras.
Cello drifts thru like incense, and ye’ ol’ singing saw
is summoned upon occasion as well. Despondent without
being desperate. Lyrics flicker in the shadows of
fallen gods and lapsed rockers. Have faith, but do a
sound check.

John Lindberg Quartet “Ruminations Upong Ives and Gottschalk” Between-the-Lines

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Between the lines of composition lies room for fantastic
improvisation. Lindberg’s quartet this time is in a mostly
mellow mood. Even the more fiery moments have a tranquility
to them. Witness the hopping cookers that match melodies
and start/close the album, each spiked with Susie Ibarra’s
quick crash Chinese gongs and seesaw seasoned by Lindberg’s
bowed bass. Also check the kooky kinetics of “Generations”
rattled by Ibarra and slapped by Lindberg to get it rolling.
Now that’s marching to a *difficult* drummer, twice it stops
to let Baikida Carrol chase a hummingbird. Steve Gorn is
here with a variety of winds, elegantly on “Implications”
which is all him halfway till a timpani roll and then a
kinda disharmonious join by Carrol. Weird. That and the
Gottschalk-inspired “Great Spirit…” missed me, but all
else here is meticulously mapped. I really dig Lindberg’s
composition, and Carrol does spend a lot of time with
the mute en tote. That gives the trumpet a little more
grimace to its glide. Ibarra is always a treat, her
kulingtang on “Beau Theme” is heavy on the kul, light
on the tang. “Yatan-Na” is part paean to a pagoda but
then its got this crime jazz alley at the center. Gorn’s
bansuri is strong on both cases. Another outstanding
outing on this label run by Franz Koglmann.

Yannis Kyriakides / Andy Moor “Red v Green” [Unsounds]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library

The ultimate battle, pitching the red wires of electronics
versus the green strings of guitar… In this corner, Yannis
Kyriakides ticking, clicking, and flipping the world on the
fritz. In that corner, Andy Moor of the might Ex, tapping,
slapping and scrapping his way up and down the fretboard
and beyond. The resulting rounds are quite a shadowy box
of sounds. There’s an overall suspicious feeling, like a
convict re-entering the work force as a security guard.
Or a boxing glove, loaded up with a few bars of iron?
“Time Flies” is a guitar heavy track wherein Moor snaps
off harmonics at odd angles, but the hover and blink that
Kyriakides applies below and above the guitar is vital. As
on “a conSPIracy cantata” Kyriakides establishes himself
as a true collaborator on electronics, he’s actually on the
same plane and planet as his more organic partners. We win
with a solid improvisational knock-out that is nearly as
stunning as the photos by Isabelle Vigier within.

Krystian Shek “Eisblumen” [Fax Records]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library, CD, Format

I love how this album begins, like a nighttime strafing of an
army of flying saucers. After that we get a good headphonic
mix of stark darkbeat. Shek evidently is a Russian, and this
is his sonic snapshot of a trip from Moscow to St. Petersberg.
From the sounds of it, he travelled during winter, strapped
naked to the top of a train. Gulag rave? Certainly has plenty
of danceable moments, as the steel wheels find a rhythm on
the rails. I prefer the more ambient textures of coal smoke
that blow through now and then. Some processed vox (as if
lifted from a station’s loudspeaker or a police bullhorn) are
mixed into the murk and add to the mystery. Good rubbery
tone in part and lots of friction percussion also help
this to stand out.

Peter Kowald, Miya Masaoka & Gino Robair “Illuminations” [Rastascan]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Liquid strings and bowed drums, these are the dreams
this trio spins. For me the album found its voice when
Kowald used his (Tuvan style on #5). After that point,
I was hooked…(well aside from grunting byproducts
on other tracks) The first two tracks have a muscular
maelstrom approach…if you want something with all
three off to the races. On the third Masaoka’s koto is
flinging shadows over Kowald careening between two
bowed notes. Track four has Robair’s drums upfront and
ominous and the koto keeping closer to its nature.
Then that vocal breather (Kowald has sung this way
before and worked with Sainkho Namchylat so he may
have picked up a tonsil trick or two.) After that it
was all gold to me, Masaoka sounding more harp-like
on #8 (like on her Monk tribute), Kowald slaps fat
rattling lines on #10, it’s hard to see but track 11
might be Robair bowing styrofoam, and track 12 maybe
he’s got the e-bow on the snare? He’s inventive so
it could be a brand new maneuver… This is also on
his label (glad to see its still going). Applaud the
discrete efforts, as much fevered inspiration as in
a 60 minute single session but with more scope and
better prospects to hop into a KFJC playlist.

Guy Klucevsek/Phillip Johnston “Tales from the Cryptic” [Winter & Winter]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library, CD, Format

FWIW, we’ve never met but I’ve always heard Guy’s name
pronounced clue-SEHV-ick. Including by his understudy
Miss Murgatroid! Klucevsek’s accordion is not as
crazy here as her free-based version, or even some of
Guy’s earlier work. Johnston’s alto/soprano sax seems
to pull higher, clearer, cleaner tiny notes out of the
bellows. This is feathery, but with melodies that are
just gorgeous. The Satie tribute (#7) is a start for
that. As is “The Gift” (#4), the slipperiness of “The
Needless Kiss” (#14), gypsy twists in “No More Mr.
Nice Guy” (#9 but sadly *not* an Alice Cooper cover,
would not have surprised me if Klucevsek had done so).
Instead that has a nice Balkan bounce to it. This album
does not rely on shock and gimmicks. The interplay of
Klucevsek’s right hand parrying with Johnston, while he
pumps the accompaniment is no mean feat. Tastes like
European jazz in parts, rising notes, hyperclean sound.
Yet circus flavors waft too.

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