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Thurston Hunger

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.

Gregorio, Guillermo “Otra Musica” Atavistic

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

John Corbett’s gotta feel proud about unearthing this sonic
document for his Unheard Series. Check out the release notes
that trace Guillermo back to his Argentinian beginings, very
informative. The album itself is wild and wooly, with the
latter third a foray into the familiar unfamiliarities of
free jazz…including two splendid multitrack excursions
(#15 – the sax piece seems to fight against itself, while
#14 – the clarinet seems to be one mind with many mouths)
The first third of the CD showcases a gritty Pierre Schaeffer
in-flux-uence. Scrapey and tink-plinky under-the-hood
piano on #1, tape time travel of bells on #2, on #4/#5 the
star is not the clarinet or voice so much as the sounds of
40-year-old tape, and the slipperiness of its sound. The
middle third is my favorite, as we get various eclectic
ensembles making music in micromoments. #6 verges on non-
existence, but #7 after a raspy start gets into hiccuping
percussion and then drunk strings, then some hummingbird
sax. #8 is a spooky spine-tingler, #9 is muy guapo with a
probable cello-player and haunting vibes/accordion action.
#10 fits between musique concrete, Albert Ayler & Caroliner.
Music from the planet of Outer Otra.

Bijma, Greetje “Sit Down, Listen…” [Bvhaast]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2005   A Library

You’ll think this Dutch doll had more than one mouth after
listening to this series of solo renditions of songs/poems.
A couple of covers that are definitely her own, including
the Joan Baez number at the end that makes this a really
personal release; a lullabye for the exhausted mother. Plus
a cover of Abbey Lincoln is always going to be a winner. On
other tracks she tweaks her tonsil like a koto (#4) or gets
breathy whispers like a bansuri flute (#5) or brraps like
a muted trombone (#9). A vocal master of impersonation.
Things get a touch Tuvan at parts, and well a touch touched
at times too…but NEVER touched up. As far as I can tell
somehow Barend Minks dropped some mics down into the
acoustic caverns in Greetje’s soul…whole lotta room, and
a whole lotta reverb down there. Get in, shut up, sit down
and listen…

Get Hustle “Live at the Little Fawn” [self released]

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

our-only CDR for this Los Angeles three piece/no peace. They
whip up relentess rock led by Mac Mann’s electric piano which
undergoes cardiac arrest. Ron Avila (Holy Molar, Chromatics)
whips up a percussion slugfest. And there’s blood spattered
all over the sneering tough-enough-for-one-g girl singer (as
in one who singes) Valentine Falcon (nee Husar?). She’s got
a sort of drooly swagger kinda 70’s dirtbag rock. Apparently
they have frightened off all guitarists who normally pine for
such rock, well that’s a good thing..but Get Hustle might pay
too high a premium for authenticity, sacrificing any semblance
of polish. The songs here are sweaty, exhorting, gamey and a
bit samey. They are all live, which can attribute to that. My
favorite section on each tends to be the opening where they
let the stormclouds brew, Mann’s piano gusting some reverb
feedback, and sort of hovering before the huffing-and-puffing
kicks in and they kick out the family jams and jewels.

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.

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