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Thurston Hunger

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.

Kill Yourself “Soft Touch of Man EP” [Gringo Records]

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

Three piece from Leeds, heavy with middle names, but lean
with lancing guitar rock. James Richard Islip fights the
drums, roundhouse cymbal crashing and below-the-belt toms.
Lurching along with punch-drunk guitar staggers from Giles
Edmund Joseph Bailey, those drums get KY’s dukes up like
early Don Caballero. Meanwhile bassist Andrew Derek Ross
Abbott is impervious to any of this, steadfast and stolid
he keeps each song on its legs. Thick unflappable songs
that have no problem supporting a ragged, jarring guitar.
Each cut leaves a similar metallic taste in your mouth,
this gang of three seems to have plenty of bite. 80’s
scrape with those always-welcome angry Anglonized vocals
from Bailey. Remember sneering started in Britain. Meat
and potatoes, cooked over an open fire on barbed wire.

Kazumoto Endo “While You Were Out” [Box Media]

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

Singles collection from Kazumoto Endo released in 1999.
I know KFJC’s own Nancy Reagan proclaims noise will be
at the top of the pop charts in 100 years…but why
wait? This is an album that is bursting with sound,
from the first track that has a throbbing pulse under
the metallic screech of train wheels grinding sparks
out on tracks. A lot of the noise on this has that
almost Godzilla like quality of shearing metal, and
lest you think noise is just random sound, try to
create such gorgeous tortured structures yourself.
In noise, I’m a big fan of the chasm…the space
between the sputtering…and Endo uses that well on
this. Sometimes slipping some J-pop or disco ditty
into those spaces, as if to contrast their week
meekness with his arcing cathodes of sound. Those
moments also hint of digital hardcore, but make no
mistake, this is noise at its most extreme, most
powerful and most glorious. Each time I’ve listened
to this I am struck by the diversity of the din that
Endo commands.

Kalaparush and the Light “The Moment” [Entropy Stereo]

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

Grant Kalaparush his new name, Maurice McIntyre
must seem like another man, a lifetime ago.
In his lengthy absences, one assumes lesser
musicians would have vaporized into myth. But
this CD proves he’s very much alive, indeed
these are all live recordings. Thus fidelity
is okay, but the fluidity is assured. Even
at his speedier cycles, Kalaparush has an
unshakeable lyricism. Thus as he near 70 years
of age, his playing here is fresh, driving. He
is rarely resting now once he’s going, this
makes a nice workout for young tuba player,
Jesse Dulman. Dulman huffs and puffs, and
gets whoops of encouragement from Kalaparush
at times. This release seems to ride on
Dulman’s back…when he’s on the album
succeeds (check the end of #5) but when he
gets soggy, it slogs.

Jucifer “Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip” [Capricorn]

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

NOTE: This is their debut release and it came out back
in 1998, but aside from jabs at Tabs (Tabitha Soren on
“Hero Worship”) the shelf life on this is still active.
A peachy pair of Georgians, when her ire is up vocalist
Amber Valentine’s sounds a little like fellow hellish
belle Jarboe. Her partner in sound and crime is drummer
Ed Livengood, who provides a lot of colosseum whack to
their attack (he sneaks in some scratching as well
here.) Amber also pedal-pushes guitar distortion we
get something like pop metal with an aroma of glamour.
Amber’s voice can shapeshift nicely: whispery coquette,
hoarse hellion, “rock star” (allegedly the words
tatooed across her knuckles.) This album is prettily
produced, a lot of overdubs…especially with vocals.
I’m not sure how that will translate to their leaner
live set. To their credit, this album gets weirder
as it goes along, and they’ve escaped $ucce$$ so far.
Anthemic anathema from Athens.

Josephine Foster and the Supposed “All the Leaves Are Gone” [Locust]

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

These songs embrace their pain. Well really more than that
they admit the pain…and tower above it. Foster’s pipes have
the warbling ache of a silent movie actress speaking after so
many years voiceless. The leaves are gone like Garbo. While
Josephine may also be a “Born Hell(rais?)er” her stylized
soprano is stirringly at home guiding cautionary folk with
scattery treble guitar. I suppose that the Supposed may turn
some people off, notably Goodman’s noodling may seem thin
and tweaky to some, but I *really* like its chaos clashing
into these simple strum-along songs. And the percussion that
Rusty Peterson contributes is what gives this album its
unbreakable backbone. Evidently this was originally created
as a rock musical but the songs stand firmly alone, alone
without a lover, alone without forebears (as the poignant
“Deathknell” decries), but powerfully alone.

Jojo s/t [Alchemy]

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

Fuzz bluster rock from the master magician of Alchemy. This
album launches from zero-to-90 mph with the first freeway
rocker, a two-chord lane changer that even hits a classic
Hijo-hijacked searing solo. On #2 the rust still doesn’t
sleep…don’t miss the great ggggaarrrr screams. #3 stops for
air and a twinkling delay number. Next up a surprisingly pure
garagey power pop. #5 has a tense sort of glam rock build up
into a power-sludge of divine distortion. #6 a cool feedback
statue is carved, with dry patting drums at its base. Only to
be followed by a trip to janglesville. #8 provides bursting
psych with gut-punched oomph vocals… #9 has a nice bouncing
bassline over a little slice o’ bliss. #10 leaves us wanting
more with sticky, staticky eruptions of effect-ladenn guitar
with Jojo howling what sounds like “More my brothers…more
my brothers.” You’ll be screaming for more too!

Rose, Jack “Apocalyps. X.” [Eclipse]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

Rose continues his path from Pelt straight to the heart of
a twelve-string soul. The A-side featues a darker current,
thick ropes of vibration…bubbling up the neck of the
guitar on the lower deep end strings. Near flamenco finger
flicking starts “black pearls from the river.” On “tower of
babel” the frenzied fingers give way to bouncy swipes at
the end of that track. On the B-side, it seems like a Rose
made a conscious effort to work the upper strings more, the
sound is brighter, but still brass rattling. With the higher
notes, we can hear the sympathetic halo of echo shining
through easy. As the record spins towards its end, Rose
chose to slow down his playing…the earlier fast ripples of
arpeggios now separate into more distinct drops of guitar
rain, beads of sound. Thornless and acoustic black.

Illoin “Pinafore” [Notenuf/CollisionCollider]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library

Pronounced “ILL Owen” but the guy’s name ain’t Owen it’s
Andrew Ryan from a chilly part of Philadelphia. Most
cuts have quick-click ticking percussion in them, which
contrasts the slower pulling of chords from synth and
accordion. I actually like it when the bullet-train
metronome ticking cuts out…usually at song’s end. But
then on the title cut, we just have the electric piano
sans *any* beats, and that was far worse. It plods
towards prehistoric New Age. My favorite was “Ask the
Dust” (possible John Fante tribute?’), it was the most
upbeat of these otherwise beat-up and iced-down pieces.
It and the initial track only have vocals. “I Am Never”
replaces the clicks with cricket samples, and a gentle
guitar instead of keys. “Starmaps” has a Raymond Scott
twinkle to it, overall the latter half of this CD works
best. While I enjoy “bleakbeat” music, it’s a simple
pleasure. By the time an album passes, I want to go out
and hug a drummer.

I Remember Syria

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

More sublime slide shows of sound, this time with some aid
coming from Porest’s Erik Gergis. Besides dizzying cultural
doppler effects, this release is strengthened by some man in
the street recordings. Bizarre bazaars, popular politics
and mucho mujahadeen. On the road to Damascus we get what
almost sounds like a rap over machine gunned beats; sirens,
cellphones and other forms of prayer; transactions and
transglobal underground conversations and middle-eastern
sonic youth radio. The excerpts of young boys singing are
just tough and vibrant. The deeper in, the Greater Syria
you get. Outstanding pop pieces, outspoken Arab Women in
Focus and a not-so-out aleppo sitting in cinema. Radaio
Tartus sounding like a cross-over point between worlds
and frequencies created naturally. There’s more unnatural
doctoring on some of the tracks, but scintillating…
Ali Dada.

Hood / Themselves – split “You Shins Break My Heart” [Rocket Racer]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   7-inch, A Library, Format

Further fruits from the cross-pollination of Hood with the
cLOUDDEAD heads. We get more solid drifting vortex pop from
Birmingham’s Hood…a constant state of exhallation. Breathe
out…breathe out again. Repeat until you pass out blissfully.
Themselves (aka Dose One along with Jel and Dax) then take
that track as inspiration and P.U.S.H. it up with their tiny
trademark martian vocals and their own sped up swirl of
sound. Only seven inches, but seventy layers of sonic veils
wrap this little picture disc gem.
Streamy dreams of subconciousness.

Homework 102: US DIY/Punkwave and Postpunk [coll] – [Hyped2Death]

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

From the masters of Messthetics, comes another sloppy second
serving of records that KFJC didn’t hit the first time round.
Proof that innocence and cynicism can mix, that might be one
theme I can pull out of this alphabet slice of history and
hysteria. Another theme might be the importance of DEVO?
While the hairspray might be on too thick on #6 for my liking,
maybe that’s your favorite. My favorites…even without the
connection to Swill Radio – #12 rolls like a bowling ball.
#17 has a crisp surfishness to its SanFrantic sound. #8’s
T-wrecked homewrecking. #11 has a duty then for the future
now. #16 marks X’s old spot, well in the vocal heteroplay.
#24 is spastic with a sublimely retarded brief guitar solo.
#20 can be used to drive someone insane, tell them it is a
cover of a TV theme (it isn’t) and ask them to name it; with
their every guess, say “Closer…” #4 borrows a riff and
accidentally hits some vocal harmonies. #21 has a nice
oom-pa-pa chorus and wiggily keyboards. #9 has wonderfully
defective electrones. Check the liner notes for info, and
reps and Repp. Test out of advanced displacement.

Him “Lila” [Galaxia-Platform]

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

Rob Mazurek coronet-crowned cornet hornpainter is held aloft
here by Him’s drums and Fender Rhodes. Doug Scharin, aka Him,
creates a swirl of soul, with deft afrobeat accents. At 21+
minutes, this flows smoothly, evaporates almost too quickly.
I hear mbira, or is that just an incredibly gourdy Rhodes,
resonance unparalleled. On “the lila” at about 2.5 minutes
in, we get doppler tranced vocals from Christian Dautresme,
and there’s rippling kora underscoring that second piece as
well ultimately leaving an angelic aftermath. The swelling
sweep of Scharin’s polyrhythms interact near perfectly with
Mazurek’s cornet: its dips, mellow mutes and sparkling
bursts, all enveloped in a rich mantle reverb. Add in some
subtle guitar juju from Joe Goldring and Griffin Rodriguez
on bass. This EP takes on a deceptive vibe of effortless
grace, a queen walks among her people and alongside Him.
One wishes she could stay longer, but perhaps that would
detract from the majesty.

Gerald Hawk “The Honey Guide Bird” [Abduction]

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

Miss those voices inside your head? Fear not, they were
summoned by the musical magnet that Gerald Hawk operates.
Plentiful odd vocalizing on this dangerous disc o’ din.
First we had thousands of god-fearing folk who realized
that listening for Backwards Masking was as much fun as
self-flagellation with spiky switches. More recently all
the cool kids are going cuckoo over Reverse Speech. But
both of those processes require you to manually play a
medium backwards. That can give you Carpal Tunnelvision
in your ears. Hawk’s message is messed up straight from
the get-go to save you time and get to the important job
of hearing communiques from deities, aliens and your
deceased guinea pig. All scrambled by what sound like
civil war era submarines, shoddy gardening pipes and
some sort of space elevator. The pieces often are put
together with abrupt links, like a lion’s head on a
lamb’s body. The tail of track #2 is mesmerizing, an
angel singing the lost Conet Bible. Loops are used to
the point where ears begin to blur and you hear a phrase
change. Like magic, only it’s real. I thought I heard a
“fuck” on #5. but it’ll probably morph by the time you
play it. There’s water on Mars and this too!

Hannah Marcus “Desert Farmers” [Bar/None]

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

Gorgeous album of glass-blown ballads. Hannah’s vox are
metrosexual and meticulous. Languid but not anguished.
The lyrics feel as though they are an oblique slice
though intricate novels. Indeed two songs are cobbled
from author Rick Moody’s work. Sonic streakings from
two God Speeders highlight the music so well, never
obliterating or interfering with these stories of
people in motion. Working against the odds, against
the heat, driven into dead ends…they persevere.
Piano is telescoped, far-away on many tracks. Acoustic
guitar blends so well with her singing. Wistful and
wishful meet and marry. This is a good album to take
your time to.

Julius Hemphill “One Atmosphere” [Tzadik]

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

Elegant austere treatments of Hemphill compositions. All
recent realizations of pieces. Tense start w/ suspicious
strings and inquisitive piano, a lot of pressure for
“One Atmosphere.” Next “Savannah Suite” has percussion
unlike the other pieces here; Pheeroan Aklaff’s rattling
and rolling and hi-hat/cymbal riding hit the spot. That’s
the most this release swings…everything else is stately
and cerebral. It is nice how the Marty Erhlich’s playful
flute on “Savannah” hands the torch over to the more
somber flutes that commence “Water Music”. The second
suite section with its array of horns recalls the World
Sax Quartet (founded by Hemphill) and is reminscent of
ROVA too. By the third section, a thick driving groove
of saxes marches in beneath a return of the flutes, and
rides that rhythm till its squeak and flutter finish.
The “Backwater” closing has a last call boozy flavor
though still poured into a crystal champagne glass.
Hail Julius, RIP April 2nd 1995.

Lou Harrison “Drums Along the Pacific” [New Albion]

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

A collection over time and timbre of Harrison’s
percussion music. Extremely melodic (often tuned
instruments, percussive and otherwise) give flesh
to these soothing numbers.) William Winant leads
his group through some numbers that are fun to hum
along to, honest. Gamelan flavors come through on
various works…as does an air of celebration.
Harrison worked on the left coast, Santa Cruz as
a “maverick” composer long before that tag gained
any sort of notoriety and evidently was quite
supportive of many musicians, local and worldwide.
Sadly he died earlier this year, the music here
will be around long after his demise…indeed, it
seems almost as if it existed long before him as
well…he merely was able to help it flourish
within chamber captivity. This music will grow
vines over speakers in harsh climates…

Grubbs, David “A Guess at the Riddle” [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Quizzical vocal phrases mix with metaphysical lyrical daze
to create an album that attains greatness, at its own pace.
The master Gastr del Sol still shines, joined by a bunch of
guest angels dancing on the pins and needles he calls songs.
His guitar sort of scribbles away, busy not furious. His
piano is like really nice ice water, nothing fancy but
mighty refreshing. It gets poured on more during the second
half of the album. His vocal delivery is wild-eyed while
relaxed, just the right pitch for the wonder of his words.
He’s working here some with Hannah Marcus, whose recent
effort was awash in its own charm. Maybe she’s functioning as
his muse, who knows? But this album with every listen casts
the longer and longer shadows of masterpiece.

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