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Thurston Hunger

Matmos “The Civil War” [Matador]

Thurston Hunger   10/21/2003   A Library, CD, Format

Hard to separate the irony from the gold, hard to
filter the sample from the directly generated (or
should I say degenerated) sound. Perhaps that is the
split in this war? Or could it be that Drew Daniel
and M.C. Schmidt find themselves at each other’s
throats after jetsetting about as Bjork-End BoyToys?
Well if they are each others throats, it is only to
record the sound of blood in the carotid artery
(that and music made from rabbit pelt are purportedly
among the sonic inputs at work here). Listen to their
rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever” these guys
may be too clever for their own good. But this is
the future, sampling not as a mode of deconstruction
but rather Reconstruction. And perhaps that would
have been a more fitting title to this album of
mechano-server marches and madness? Having seen
them with her Bjorkness, I hope beyond innovation
and technique, they will help lead a rallying of
performance and presentation, a point where power
electronics is often all mouse, no man.

Berne, Tim and Science Friction “the sublime and.” [Thirsty Ear]

Thurston Hunger   10/9/2003   CD, Format, Jazz

Science Friction is Berne’s latest group, with
some familiar figures. Marc Ducret on electric
guitar is somehow able to insert notes between
the fiery charges of Berne’s alto. He’s just a
tremendous guitarist, who we should hear more
of…his use of volume washes works well with
the keys and electronics of Craig Taborn. When
Taborn is leading, this album can prick up
some prog rock ears…but this is really an
explosive jazz album, that gets the Blue Series
nod thanks to the electronics (not just Taborn,
visit “Mrs. Subliminal” to hear Tim dabbling
in delay. Tom Rainey remains Berne’s reigning
drummer king. His looseness fits well with the
dizzying work here. I actually live for the
moments when a few of the scored bars kick in.
Those sections are hairpin tight and move
quickly in unexpected directions. “Smallfry”
is unique in its ice cracking ambience. This
is all live, no safety net.

Kaito – “Band Red” – [Spinart]

Thurston Hunger   8/6/2003   A Library, CD

Noise pop deluxe. Tangled hair and broken guitar
strings…pull ’em out the skin and let the lady
scream/sing. That ain’t no lady, it’s Nikki Colk.
Punky and profficient. And pile on petulant as
well. Her vocals would make a snail panic. Her
voice flails, often over a raucous chorus. Those
choruses sound like chipmunks at kung fu class.
At times Colk’s lead voice has the fideliy of
a fast-food drive-up-window. Sophomore release
from these Brighton’d whites thrills with shrill.
But it delivers….rarely relaxing the pace.
“Nothin New” is kinda dainty, “Moi” is a cuckoo
clock in a cowboy hat. “3am” is the comedown,
passed out in a grandfather clock. Lyrics read
as though lifted from diaries before sobering up.
Guitar goes 90 mph the wrong way on the xpressway
to yer skull. Don’t forget to rock?

-Thurston Hunger

Smog – “Accumulation: None” – [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   4/3/2003   12-inch, A Library

Flotsam and sinksam from Bill Callahan. Well
captured in oft rough recordings. We’ve got
vapor-lock blues, anti-rock star heroics
(“It’s Not Gonna Be a Hit”) and the ol’
Smog favorite, collapsible relationships.
He seems like a guy who’s counting on the
big nasty breakup even in the honeymoon
phase of a relationship. (“I Break Horses”)
There’s a flare somehow in the flatness of
Callahan’s voice, and as well as anyone
he can make the lurid, alluring. I like
the fact that many Smog songs, when they hit
the spot where the bridge should come they
almost go flatline. Hell, the songs start
off with pretty economical lyrics and guitar
playing and then they lose their shirt and
their way for awhile….till the next verse
comes along and gives ’em a ride back to
tune. On the lighter side, Callahan does
quote “Baby’s Got Back” on the tail end
(where else) of “Real Live Dress”
-Thurston Hunger

Smog – “Supper” – [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   4/3/2003   A Library, CD

A new release going up at the same time as
his Accumulation time capsule. Bill Callahan
has the detached disdain handed down through
various undergrounds, Velvet and otherwise.
The sharpness of his lyrics, and his acerbic
stage persona always command my attention.
The songs here are less dilapidated as he’s
got a real live band behind him, and his
fondness/fiendishness with the femme fatales
has been displaced by a love of conundrums.
There’s some solid cognitive dissonance he’s
dishing out…and “Truth Serum” and “Guiding
Light” are just well crafted.
-Thurston Hunger

Soeza – “Founded By Sportsmen & Outlaws” – [Prohibited Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/11/2002   A Library, CD

Bristol septet, brash swaggery pop. Uplift mofo
horns party! And the horns are a quite sprite
French Horn (Daniel Cornfield) and Cornet (Aaron
Dewey). Sassy male/female vocals. Jenny Robinson
is the breathy, semi-sultry syllable stretcher
while Aaron Dewey is the “Speaker’s Corner” more
excitable ranter!! *Two* drummers in this…so
their sound has plenty o punch. Part of the UK’s
‘Pull the Strings’ collective. Horns kinda add
a Doc Severinsen dosed at the horse races amped
up vibe here that makes this pretty irresitable.
#11 is fancy phone freakout that tracks into the
closer. #9 is the slow dance. Right honorable
and simply smashing! -The Viceroy of Vice

Munly, Jay “Jimmy Carter Syndrome” [Smooch]

Thurston Hunger   4/2/2002   A Library, CD, Format

Well-constructed dilapidation. Gravel in the
gullet vox of Jay Munly (from Slim Cessna’s
Auto Club). Ballads with ballast, a weight
that is lifted by a shoestring quartet (that
being Tarantella cloaked in shadow and soot).
Munly’s voice rises with an angsty twinge of
twang almost gets to a Gene Loves Jezebel
screech at odd moments. Songs of heresy and
fallen heroes, of people like Gerry Cooney
and Weegee, that Powers of Celebrity try to
pretend never supped at the popular table.
Like a barn in Faulkner story… every song
is ready to catch fire. Slow fuses throughout,
rocking chair rhythms. Has the acrid flavor
of moonshine with plenty of kick that catches
up to you long after you have imbibed the
lyrics. Perfect for that Belladonna/Joe Ed
team show! Gothic chamber country rides on….
-Johnny Palerider

Faint, the – “Danse Macabre” – [Saddle Creek]

Thurston Hunger   8/14/2001   A Library, CD

Slap a retro-EARGASM sticker on this nugget. The
best new wave album to come down the pike in some
time. The panicky lead singer (Todd Baechle), the
sense of detachment, the air raid “subtlety” of
synthesizer, the little machine gun guitar rounds,
unabashed drum machines w/ their insistent slap
of digital ass. This supernovas on the promise of
their early (and excellent) 7″ split “Brokers,
Priests, Analysts” I am an unfair judge because
right now I’m 100% infatuated with this. “Control”
(about orchestral conductors in the dark) is a
massive masterpiece. Killer treated vox thoughout,
add some cello for the ultimate in pop. Omaha,
where infection meets confection.

-Hunger

Benjamin, Sathima Bea – “A Morning in Paris” – [Enja Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/30/1997   CD, Jazz

Quite a story from ’63: a Nazi’s secret tape, a young chanteuse takes a chance, the Duke helps and heralds here husband’s (Dollar Brand to-be Abdullah Ibrahim) combo and we’re the happy ending when we play these refreshing trad ballads. Sathima’s voice is satiny, evoking a soulfulness beyond today’s brand of vocal cords on steroids. Makaya Ntshoko’s drums are mic’d as pure fountains of cymbals with soft, splashing snare. Svend Asmussen pops champagne violin bubbles. Ellington guests on two of his pieces, Billy Stayhorn adds a pair working the lower 44, and Ibrahim fills the rest with subtle strength. On all cuts, you can hear the space between their fingers. For a one-day session of one-takes, this is remarkably relaxed. Soothing and lucid as a clear mind in dawn’s light.

-Thurston Hunger

Bryars, Gavin – “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed… ” – [Point Music]

Thurston Hunger   7/13/1997   A Library, CD

A simple sampled tramp’s prayer song unravels to reveal an amazingly rich orchestral life. Casual listening will miss the gradual momentous emotional shifts. This is actually a recreation/re-issue of the original sparked by fan and guest vocalist on the epilogue – Tom Waits. An excellent library add, excerpted overplay wouldn’t do this justic, invoke occasionally for lengthy stare-at-the-ceiling existential crises or fill an absent Public Affairs slot with this gorgeous listener epiphany generator.

-Thurston Hunger 7/13 1997

Sun City Girls – “” – [Majora]

Thurston Hunger   2/3/1997   7-inch, A Library

The mandala mandate continues. It may have started out as a crash hash course, but at this point one assumes the Girl’s devotion pure. “Borungku Si Derita” is one of them thar A-minory ballads which, despite achingly anthemic vocals, tastes like Middle-Eastern Meatloaf to me. “Abydos” however is a fine Hindu-Flamenco Locomotive Surf instro and “Carousel Tapsel” spins a Ferris prayer wheel of vocals chasing guitar melody chasing percussion slaps of the acoustic melody. Hello Dalai Lama.

Thurston Hunger

Part, Arvo – “Litany ” – [Ecm Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/1996   A Library, CD

Technically black is not a color, but the absence thereof. Similarly, silence is not a sound, but its absence. And yet silence is critical to Arvo Part’s sonic palette. Aural afterimages echo as quiet caverns of drone. Dissonant tension stretches taught across gaps between notes.

Arvo Part is dynamics. Stark yet strangely serene solitude. Quiet majesty. Ethereality. “Litany” is an epic offering, English lyrics transcribed from prayer are felt rather than heard, thanks to the Hilliard Ensemble’s “volume pedal” grace. “Psalom” is a latticework of breaths on strings. “Trisagion” is the sound of a high priest walking at midnight among the dead upon a battlefield in a religious war. Faith and doubt commune. Music for epiphany.

Thurston Hunger 10/23 1996

Tinklers, the – “U.F.O.’s” – [Frownland Recording]

Thurston Hunger   6/18/1996   7-inch, A Library

A concept 7″ exploring the vast reaches of sci-fi B Movies – mixing
levitation and levity with just enough fi, detuned guitar and detoxed
vox. “Comrade Cosmonaut” parallels the former Soviet Union with a
former red giant star flamed out into a flickering white dwarf. “Bad Aliens”
takes an eastern scale and sketches worst possible scenarios for
close encounters. “Galactic Living Family” is like the anthem for an
inter-species, outer-space equivalent of the Indian Guides. Complete
with too many words stuffed into the hilarious couplets…and ocarina too!

The truth ain’t out there, it’s right here.

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