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Thurston Hunger

Giant Haystacks “We Are Being Observed” [Smart Guy Records]

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

Named after a famous British wrestler, this Oakland trio is
decidedly leaner. Spry guitar sparked rock. The album’s
initial three songs are brilliant, and create a momentum
that is hard to sustain. Seriously, every time I listen to
those first three I think this is going to be one of the
greatest albums of all time. They have a nice device of the
next song often leaping in on the tail of its predecessor.
Watch your segues. And pull your old Ex records. Speaking of
the Ex, these guys are best off when they likewise lyrically
vote their songbook. Less looking through a child’s eyes…
The busier the bassline, the better as well. Brittle guitar.
Vocals are drawn and flat at times, but then again the band’s
charm is built upon its complete lack of pretension. So that
tends to work better with talkshout vox. Goddamn it, I gotta
listen to those first three songs again. Plenty of pins and
needles in these Giant Haystacks.

Glass Candy “Bicicleta Emociona” [Troubleman Unlimited]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2005   7-inch, A Library, Format

Ida No yelps and screams with the best of
them. Glam slammed rock…she’s traded in
her Bowie bent this time for a Bryan Ferry
fix. Her voice still has a unique frenzied
whorl to it. Johnny Jewel’s guitar is a
leather clad shark swimming around the
tank. More anachronism than anarchy…but
pure fun nonethelees. The Roxy Music cover
slips down through some tar pits to a drum
solo finish. Retro and active.

Fucked Up “Baiting the Public” [Deganged]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   7-inch, A Library, Format

Breakneck, breakface punk rock out of Toronto and a group
that was allegedly started as a joke, but a clever one at
that. Realizing that all bands ultimately lead towards
horrible fights, the idea here was to put a bunch of people
together who were already primed to go at each other. By
the sound of this, it was a complete success. Aggravation
fuels this 7″, with quick fisty drums, and good sawing
guitar. Basically we get a siamese twin of a song split into
two with different lyrics, but a shared chomping whole lotta
riff. The lyrics are punctuated by spittle, for “The Public”
the band meanders into some clarinet and sax spirals. All
in all a damn fine outing, as much fun if not more than the
photo inside. Double dirty ditties, take a grave shift just
so you can play this!

Fursaxa “Trobairitz Are Here From Venus” [self released]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Did you know that troubadors only referred to males, a
woman would be a trobairitz? Me neither. Tara Burke is
female, she is “Fursaxa” and she might not be human. A
galactic gypsy coasting through nebulae of sound. Pump
organ bellows send solar winds breathing neath Burke’s
drone-vox. Stilled syllables don’t let the words pass,
emotions do float by. This seems like the home-game
version of Ligeti. One woman chorus mushrooms out of
the alignment of air in organs and lungs. That heavy
atmosphere contracts some on “Backwards Alchemy” as
guest sorcerers are summoned, and space is opened up.
In particular, the severed fire extinguisher bells
of Matt Shiley really shimmer. Track three also has
some guitar feedhowlback. This is an all-live CDR
work pre-dating the outstanding and more diverse
“Madrigals in Duos” we’ve recently added.

London, Frank “Scientist At Work [Tzadik]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Originally a limited self-release in 1999, now back after
some cosmopolitan surgery. Powerful overdubs added by
people like violinist Mark Feldman and vocalist Jennifer
Charles still retain that inherent crazy casbah (meets
caballah) sound. Many of the Shekhina Big Band are also
Hasidic New Wavers, but this release forsakes rock for
sand. Less chunky, more drifty. Horns and guitars are
blown about by wind, more seductive and shape-shifting.
“Alef” and its palindrome “Fela” are more bounce and
sunshine, I prefer the other darker tracks, especially
Feldman’s jagged violence in the shadows of #6. In
mixing middle eastern sounds and instruments with an
NYC jazz/rock duality, London has found his calling…
as have others, Matt Darriau’s work in this vein flies.
Is it time for “Nomad Wave New York”

Fortune, Sonny/Harper, Billy/Cowell, Stanley/Workman, Reggie and Hart, Bill “Great Friends” [Evidence]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Originally this came out on Black and Blue records back in
1986. The interplay of Sonny Fortune (alto) and Billy Harper
(tenor) is the magnet to this release. On “Cal Massey” and
“Thoughts” they double down on a strong melody to make it
unbreakable. On “Synapse” a hanging phrase is repeated over
and over by Harper to allow Fortune to mingle with it, and
solo over it. Reggie Workman is nimble fingered as showcased
on “East Harlem Nostalgia.” When this album cooks it is
thanks to Workman connecting with drummer Billy Hart. Hart
gets to launch “Insight” w/ a minute of iced roll and crash;
that track seems to be in a rush to complete. The album then
closes with “Awakening” which seems like it will be a lonely
soliloquy for Fortune, but after a beautifully desolate
minute and a half, he is joined by his “Great Friends.” In
a way I preferred the isolation even more.

Faun Fables “Family Album” [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Little house on the scary prairie? Dawn (“the Faun”)
McCarthy and Nils Frykdahl are the yin and yang of the
Fables, a duo above and beyond the music. Dawn’s voice
is a hand that can caress, Nil’s edginess files the
nails of that hand with fine serrations. As such, this
album is never a fa-la-la folk album, there’s a dark
beauty to every song, like a raven perched on a nurse’s
shoulder. “Joshua” debuted on a KFJC comp several years
ago, a lovely song, surely he was a lovelier boy. With
the album and song titles, a familiar concept emerges,
especially as Dawn’s Mom appears in word and waves.
Nils’ tracks, #4 and #11, are howlingly hyperdramatic,
think the Thin White Duke doing stand-up?’ And Dawn
is no namby-pamby Bambi, the “Fear March” is a clanky
coronation, her voice can stretch to strident. On a
couple of pieces she’s like the illegitimate daughter
of Robert Plant. Hawaiian Five-O Techn-O on “Eternal,”
the I-am-Cassie-hear-me-roar wonder on “Nop of Time.”
Eerily gorgeous, fearless release!

Eyvind Kang “Virginal Co-ordinates” Ipecac

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Steady beauty abounds on this album…from the twin pools at
the start blending tambura drone and slow Gavin Bryars-style
frozen strings and never stalling. Himalayan melodies waft in
and out of pieces, power drones fill in spaces, chamber ache
and faint gypsy joy comingle. All however do so in utmost
subtlety. Mike Patton’s voice treatments are most sublime.
The Yamantanka-tantra chant that breaks through the pizzicato
popcorn on “Doorway to the Sun” could have been overheard on
an astral plane between Terry Riley and Sun Ra. Turn that track
up to the heavens. A lot of movements use a simple repeating
note or two from various instruments to add to the overall
hypnotic halo. Some pieces track, and indeed all were recorded
live in 2000 at the Angelica Festival in Bologna, Italy. The
crowd was rendered speechless and immobile, unable to clap or
cough or do anything to break the spell of this fantastic
performance. You could call this modern classical, but it
might just be ancient folk.

Ethiopian Modern Instrumental Songs – coll [Buda Musique]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   12-inch, Format, International

Another intoxicating reissue of Addis abadass
Ababa sounds. We get more music-to-slink-to
this time cut off from the vocal gyrations
that the other Ethiopique collections carried.
The rhythms have quick ebb-and-flow feelings,
the scales used seem to always push the
listener towards a resolution while at the
same time away from that tonic note. The
second side here moves out of the shadows
into a more jovial, or more plain ol’ R&B
area of import/export. We have many of
these renditions in alternate (somewhat
more powerful if you like those wailing
vox) versons. Still this is a quick exotic
trip. Eat it with your fingers and ears.

Espers “s/t” [Locust]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Philadelphia trio with KFJC ally Greg Weeks and two
lasses at his side, Meg Baird and Brooke Sietinsons.
Psych-folk here, with an emphasis on the folk. Analogous
to Low in that their pace is never rushed, while their
lyrics belie a darkness neath the beauty of the music.
Oh, and their singing is gorgeous, really a cut above!
Both in the actual melodies and male/female harmonious
interplay. With lute and flute “fragrances” accompanying
those vox we receive an unearthly blessing, this music
has a timelessness that propels it towards future DJ’s
discovery. Chamber shimmering added by autoangel on
autoharp in excelsis. With the synth pop revival these
days, powdered noses may be more in retro-vogue, but
this powdered my wig! Psycha-delicate!

Erase Errata “At Crystal Palace” [Troubleman]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Panic rock in extremis. At the core of math
rock behold the busy bassist…more talented
than the average lead guitarist…able to
dream in differential equations. This local
project keeps your brain in a percolator, the
rhythms remain caffiendish. Imagine a speed
freak leading an aerobics class…that is the
energy that propels this release. Adding
trumpet spray is a nice touch…lyrics may
actually be more angular than the music,
though at some times the guitars with teeth
chomp up the vocals.

Songs From the Entoptic Garden Vol. 1 – coll [Time Lag]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

The initial release (we already have V2) for this series
and for this label run by Nemo Bidstrup in Maine. Lovers
of lexicon note that ENTOPTIC as you might guess refers
to objects situated within the eye; esp. relating to the
perception of objects in one’s own eye. On this “loose”
tribute to Popol Vuh, Drona Parva (aka label captain
Nemo) offers a solitary mote…stationary drone made
warm by the Hammond organ. On the flip side, Texas’
Ultrasound beams with two pieces, the first a true
Popol Vuh cover. Shimmering yet very simple piano (is
lingering pedal and sustain the key to the late
Florian Fricke’s success?) The second maintains that
spell-binding dignity, but again I’m a bit pressed
to figure out its source. A melody is repeated with
a lot of space and very subtle variation from point
to point. There again does seem to be a halo around
the sound (harmonium?). At least Ultrasound gives
the Popol what they want.

El-P/Blue Series Continuum “Sunrise Over Bklyn” [Thirsty Ear]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

El-P, aka Jamie Meline, brings this one-sided 10″
as a tease for an upcoming Blue Series full-lenght.
This piece sets up two-chords as antipodes and let’s
an all-star cast of musicians fly between them like
a flock of exotic birds. The early call is issued
by Ray Campbell on delayed trumpet…from then on
Matthew Shipp carries the lead on piano, revising
a simple melody so quick and often it develops depth.
At times the piano masses momentum, and then finding
an alley to relax and recapture strength. Like a
hero on the run. It’s a lengthy piece and about
3/4 through…it seems to lose focus…but pulls it
together by the finish line. It sounds like some
very subtle if any post-production was mixed in…
Hey if this is a magnet that pulls more folks to
the Series and these musicians, that’s alright.

Burd Early “Mind and Mother” [Western Vinyl]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Hey James Angelos chose the stage name of Burd Early,
so any puns forthcoming are *his* fault. I think the
flock of Bonnie Prince Billy devotees will likely enjoy
this. Vocals multitracked and murmured into requisite
beard. James aka Burd tends towards abstact ideas and
images in his lyrics, than the more toothy, tactile
realm of Will Oldham. The guitars are similarly soft
and slinky…somewhere in the greatly misnamed plains
of No Depression alt-country rock (and yet this was
spawned in New York City, more America’s spleenland
than heartland.) Nice duet vocalette on “Undoing…”
she captures the rocking-chair phrasing that unites
Early to his earlier counterparts, Palace, Ohia
and so forth. Fanning this one with dainty praise,
but I’m interested in hearing more before and after
work.

John Duncan “Da sich die Machtgier” [Die Stadt]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The succinct liner notes describe this collaboration
with Asmus Tietchens, and deny it. Tietchens is really
heard only on track #3. Duncan has been a prolific and
either profound or perverse, (likely both) artist over
the years. Often he dabbles in discomfort, (necrophilia
in Blind Date, an attack dog in Threat and so forth),
this album then is surprisingly comforting…in its
coldness. Well the lead-off mutation does bring a
hellicopter snare out of the original, but with lot’s
of silence between rounds. The second piece is a
vortex, as if you could hear the blood in someone
else’s ears…or maybe a galactic redshift of the
original offering. The fourth and final 30 minute
drone is so gossamer it is almost gone during both
its parabolic ascent and descent. The theory here
may overpower the results…but nonetheless an
artist to watch, and to listen to…

Digital Intervention, the “capture” [0101-music]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

All’s fair in Louvel and data warfare. Olivia Louvel is the
seductress here, working like an avatar in your dreams. While
she caresses your ears with whispers and spoken French kisses,
Paul Kendall surreptitiously jacks in via a wet-ware cable
into the back of your skull. The electronic routing of hums,
pulses, switches and aural envelopes from Kendall is every
byte as intoxicating as the beckonings of Louvel. Nothing
here for the dance floor, instead it is all to be draped
over a divan…and ravaged. Pleasure and pain mingle, tease
each other. Ambient aphrodesiactivity putting the aether in
the ethernet. By the end, as Louvel purrs that she is “really
tired” you’ll be eager for more still. This is what the orb
in Sleeper must have felt like to Woody Allen.

Diamanda Galas “La Serpenta Canta” [Mute]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Which is the evil twin’ This or its doppleganger “Defixiones”
released at the same time? On this Diamanda continues her
cadaverous cabaret. Rhythm and blues in blood red hues. Deep
fistfuls of piano thump, while her voice crawls up and down
the octaves. Choking whispers, spewing flame, nasally
drawling every word split into a trillion trilling notes.
If Chaka Khan is every woman, then Diamanda is every succubus,
possibly including Mariah Carey and Cher. Yes this is that
scary in parts. At times her fiery flagrant vocalizations
border on self-parody. There seems to be no limit to the
tops for her to go over. It’s mostly just Diamanda and her
piano, with a bit of delay on her voice here (harrowingly so
on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”), some weird trembly ghost
treatment of piano there (notably on “Dancing in the Dark”
and “My World Is Empty Without You”). This is one live album
obsessed by death. The snake sings cause it can shed its skin
and survive, not so true with our mortal coils.

Devendra Banhard “Rejoice in the Hands” [Young God]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

A minstrel’s ministrations. The second “full” length release
(16 more songs were held back for a release later this year)
from this vagabond troubadour. His warped and wavery delivery
channel Tiny Tim and Al Jolson as much as Syd Barret. On a
few tracks he’s augmented by assistance, but it is mostly
his bubbly nylon-string guitar and his breath-taken voice.
Recorded somewhere behind his teeth, you can hear his lips’
soft smack and his tongue coiling around his brainstem. The
move from four-track to Jimmy Johnson’s home studio cost
no intimacy, which is Banhart’s calling card. Pop quiz,
who has heard of Vashti Bunyan? Not only did this UK pop
singer have an effect on Devendra growing up, he had the
grace to invite her to join him on the title track. Her
path, thorny ejections from art school and the celebrity
machine likely serve as inspiration to Banhart to stick
with the path he knows so well. Past the cornfields and
the grooves of citrus fruit that dot the landscape here,
not looking at photos or mirrors, but probing his body
and mind with his own grubby fingers. #9 instro, #12 has
a false start. A jagged, jangly jongleur.

Detachment Kit “Of This Blood” [French Kiss]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

So there was this killer party, a decade or two ago…but
the Kit, in their Detached manner are only just now showing
up, more than fashionably late, still more fashionable than
the bulging-eyed zombies who are still at the actual party.
There are some tricks here that help to set up the canonized
noise pop. Opening trick played is of the “High Llama” suit
then a second or two of electrowash right into a bloody,
pumping heart, the towering trump rock the Kit shoots the
moon for most of the time. With its pretty screaming of
“No, You’ll Never Die” you know the kids are still alright,
and still feeling immortal. They still have old Beatle lps
too, a harmony chorus on “Pill Cake” shouts twistedly. “The
Race” alternates from anthem aims to less pressurized feel
with guitar nebulae. Over the entire album, the guitarplay
generally scores plenty of body blows. “Ice Queen” spades
some dirt gracefully upon a casket and the solemn, somnolent
acoustic guitar of “Spider” ends this album.

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