Like a tube ride straight into the depths of hell, Mind the Gap is loud, unsteady descent into mechanical mayhem. The three tracks on this 1996 Haters album consist of the sounds of records being stapled together with a staple gun. Each pull of the trigger is amplified beyond recognition, and the noise – continuously spinning in repetitive cycles – seems to rise from the locked groove of a patchwork staple-sutured frankenrecord. On “Mind the Gap #6” (T1), a low sludgy bass pulse hums beneath metallic rumbles. “Mind the Gap #8” (T2) brings in the ambient blur of distorted voices. Just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse, luckily for you, “Things Can Only Get Hater” (T3); the closer stitches the elements of the first two performances together into a hypnotic, twenty-seven minute trance.
Primitive Isolation Tactics is the alias of Taylor Geddes, of the Montreal-based distributor of fine noise, Scream and Writhe, and the Absurd Exposition label. This 2019 c20-length cassette on Oxen is his second release under this name. A massive storm slowly approaches at the start of “Alienate” (A) and sweeps us into its turbulent core. High speed winds kick up swarms of scrap and debris, until we reach brief moments of charged stillness, a dead calm. A heavy, smoldering pulse weighs down “You’ll Burn. You’ll Burn. You’ll Burn” (B) as an inferno of electric shocks, high-pitched squeals, strangled moans and searing noise flares, and, finally, flames out.
This 2017 LP marks the revival of JFK, the solo project of Anthony Di Franco (of Ramleh and Skullflower) that dates back to the mid 80s. Nganga is the word for a cauldron used in the ceremonies of the Afro-Cuban religion Palo, used by practitioners to capture and control the spirits of the dead. To play this record is to descend into this magic vessel and face the furious energy within its iron walls. Much of the album is driven by the violent rhythms that suggests JFK’s later work (such as 2018’s Weapon Design, in our library), from the relentless bombardment of “The Scythe” (T1), to the fiery maelstrom of “Star-Killer” (T2), to the bloody grind of the war “Machinen” (T3), to the gut punches of the title track (T4). The final tracks preserve this intensity, but the fearsome chorus of “Zarathustra” (T5) and the radiant tones on closer “Minerva” (T6) transcend the terror.
Da-Sein are the Madrid-based electronic duo of Fernando Paino and Kas Visions. Mirror Touch is their second release on Galakthorrö, the German industrial label run by Mr. and Mrs. Arafna, whose groups Haus Arafna and November Növelet (in our library, a personal favorite) define the label’s despairing, yet seductive sound. Da-sein continues in the Arafna aesthetic, with deviant dance rhythms and minimal analog synths providing the backdrop for Kas Visions’ cold, empty vocals. “Marazm” (A5) hovers with a lethargic beat, “Beauty for Ashes” (B1) has a driving pulse dusted with noise, the title track (B2) picks up on a dead dial tone melody and Kas’ distant voice arriving over a bad connection, while her voices is twisted and tattered on “King ov Pain” (B3). Her lyrics, in English and Polish, are included on the LP’s sleeve.
Mysterious cassette of dark ambient electronics from a one-man project out of Cincinnati. Corroded drones layered atop venomous synths and ringing echos. Five tracks that seep slowly into intimate spaces, until the plug is pulled for an abrupt ending. Digging for the dirt on this tape didn’t turn up much – it is the sole release on Skaven Electric, apparently an Ohio label/dealer of “scrounged up goods for audio rats” – but that’s enough to know its waves will infest the playlists of KFJC’s more sinister shows.
This limited-run 2019 compilation was released at the 23rd Norcal Noisefest, the annual celebration of crazed cacophony that’s terrorized Sacramento every fall since 1995. Curated by noisefest mainstay Instagon, the comp features new works from the artists that performed at the 2019 event. So, of course, you’ll find strange sounds of all stripes: the layered womens’ vocals of Mourning Dove (T1), the binaural buzz of Chopstick (T3), the bright blips of Thirteen Hurts (T6), Mini Mutations‘ spoken word stream of consciousness (T7). Novacain sickens with sax, piano and a deadbeat drumbeat (T10), Seattle’s rEEk delivers strikes supplanted by silence (T13), SF’s Filthmilk has a metal breakdown (T16), Crank Sturgeon‘s trapped in a tangle of live cables (T19), while Crank Static offers some unique Valentine’s ideas for you and Your Baby (T20 – FCCs). The comp rounds out with the toasty crunch of a bowlful of Microwave Windows (T24), an easy listening FM radio station possessed by demons courtesy of Xdugef (T26); finally, Infinexhuma abandons us in the void (T27).
Z.Y.Q. – a self-described “useless man” from Fuzhou, China – finds a use for the sounds from several genres of extreme music in his musical projects. As The Silent S, he explores lo-fi folk, dark ambient, and harsh noise, while his newest project Before the Revival alternates between pitch-black glitch techno and depressive black metal. On this 2019 debut cassette from BtR, the glitch sound is at the fore, with nine doses of bleak beats and low-end rumbles that together “describe a series of deep void and cruel universes inside his brain.” Once again, WV Sorcerer, the label headed by Chinese experimental artist ruò tán, delivers the desolation.
Filmmaker is the alias of producer Faunes Efes of Medellín, Colombia. Unregulated, one of a slew of releases Efes issued in 2019, showcases his hypnotic take on dark electro. A slow, sludgy beat drives the killer lead track “Federal Bestiary” (T1). The pace quickens with the strobe light rhythms of “Unnatural Sciences” (T2) and the twisted synth stabs of “Inbred Indigo” (T3), and continues building with the driving “Dreamland Ops” (T4), and the high speed chase of “Bot Cells” (T5). The tape runs out too soon, fully dissociating into the hazy sunrise comedown of “Fading Life Drop” (T6). A 2019 release from Opal Tapes.
Written and recorded in the industrial zones near North China’s Bohai Bay, Love Songs in Disillusion is the debut cassette from experimental singer/songwriter Wang Zijian. A deep longing lies within these eight twisted love songs, composed of guitar and synth melodies, despondent vocals, spoken word poetry, and heavy industrial rhythms that might spring from the wasted oil fields where Wang lives and works. The heavy mood gently lifts at the tape’s end, with a dreamlike serenade (T7) and the cosmic visions of the epilogue (T8). Released in the Summer of 2019 on the French/Chinese experimental label WV Sorcerer Productions.
Munition is the alias of Dexter Outhit, a noise artist from Toronto. This cassette is his second release, and KFJC’s second library addition from Montreal-based label Absurd Exposition. Gaze/Gauze would stand well alongside the first Absurd Exposition release that we recently added, the excellent Base Waters LP by Rusalka; both works draw the sound of ocean waves into enveloping expanses of composed noise. This Munition version has an anxious, suspenseful feel, as deep pulses surface and mobilize into martial rhythms. The marching beats summon visions of ancient voyages, hunts on the high seas, naval warfare. One ~15 minute piece that repeats on Side B of the tape.
Headboggle, aka local experimental synth wizard Derek Gedalecia, is no stranger to the station – a small slice of his sizable discography lives in our library, and he recorded a session in The Pit back in 2009 – but for the unfamiliar, this 2019 Ratskin Records release provides a full immersion in the bizarre, beautiful Headboggle universe. Polyphonic Demo holds 44 one-minute tracks, each a tiny, wonderous world of electronic sound. Put the disc on shuffle – maybe you’ll land in the rough, bluesy groove of “Sister Synth” (T44), the mechanical march of “Stomp Ya Down” (T14), the ragtime piano and squishy beats of “Piano and Polyphonics” (T22), the minor key fanfare upon entering the “Buchla Club” (T26), or the slo-mo surge across the finish line in “Marathon Man Dance” (T7) – and catch a different glimpse of a facet of this strange gem of a record.
Rusalka is the project of Vancouver noise artist Kate Rissek. Her work over the past decade includes several solo cassettes and split releases (with MK9 and The Rita, among others), and now in 2019 her first full-length LP washes onto KFJC shores. On Base Waters, Rusalka uses a theremin and electronic effects to harness the power of the seas on two sidelong pieces. A sunken ship ascends back to the ocean surface on “Sinking Blood Deep” (T1). The vessel’s weathered hull – massive walls of corroded noise – rises from the depths; its horns sound, lights flare, and engines roar once again. On “Reflection Underneath Waves” (T2), field recordings of waves transform into massive columns of noise standing amid powerful swells of sound, a raw expression of the creative and destructive forces of the sea. Beautiful, compelling work, released on Montreal label Absurd Exposition.
Linekraft is the solo project of Masahiko Okubo, “junk-metal noise master” (his percussion work can also be found on recent releases from GRIM) and head of the Japanese noise label Three Plugs. On Subhuman Principle, Linekraft confronts the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, the communist regime that murdered millions of Cambodians during its rule in the late 1970s, and arrives at a final conclusion: “Human beings are animals. They can’t form a perfect social group.” Thus, he creates a “soundtrack for subhumans,” a devastating record that follows the regression from man to beast. Air raid horns, wailing sirens, military marches and gunshots dominate the first half of the tracks, but as the album plays on these traces of society disappear, leaving only chaos. The return to the primitive is reflected in the effects that are reminiscent of early electronic/noise music, like warbling echoes and overdriven distortion, and crashing metal sounds. The full bestial transformation is realized on the horrifying “Non Human Animal” (T5). Exceptional.
Obsidian Needles is the Olympia-based industrial noise project of Clare S. This 2019 cassette, released in advance of her U.S. tour with Oakland’s Crawl of Time, contains two harrowing longform works. “keep my sufferings & desires from being violent” (Side A) alternates between uncomfortable stretches of subtle tones and textures and violent blasts of noise, with crushing industrial rhythms and distorted vocals. “good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere, honey” (Side B) forces us to eavesdrop on a conversation between a young sex worker and her customer. A sustained, throbbing pulse builds and vicious processed vocals rise up, as if in response to the disturbing scene. A quiet emptiness follows, and within that void the strength is mustered for a final, terrifying expression of rage.
FCCS on both sides
This cassette documents two live 2014 Bay Area performances by Rust Worship, the “decay and noise” project of Angeleno Paul Haney. Both sets are continuous 20-minute pieces assembled from scraps of field recordings and tape loops. The LCM (RIP) performance (Side A), opens with wooden rumblings, like a small boat beating against the waves. It rides over crests of heavy noise and into troughs of layered tones, until it arrives at a crowded port. The Lab performance (Side B), returns us to a similar busy public space. In the background, a low pulse lies in wait. It surges, tears at the seams, and finally explodes into a sustained shearing blast. Released in 2018 on the LA-based label Skin Trade. More recent live work from Rust Worship can be found on KFJC’s latest Live from the Devil’s Triangle Volume 22 compilation, that features an excerpt from his 4/20/19 performance in The Pit.
Bleak midwinter carols, arriving just in time to make the season grim.
Jun Konagaya is the artist behind GRIM, the magnificent Japanese death industrial project active since the mid 1980s, just after the disbanding of Jun’s first group, the power electronics duo White Hospital. In the early 2010s, Jun began releasing work under his own name, bringing out more of the melodic and folk elements found in his earlier, noisier work. Memento Mori is his third release in this vein, with beautiful organ and piano melodies, mournful choruses, tribal rhythms, and peals from bell towers. Within the solemn beauty are unexpected touches: the unusual, nearly hip-hop beats and rhythmic warrior’s cries of “Run Deer” (T3), the blips and bobs of electronic chaos on “Time of Ruin” (T2), and the ecstatic trance of “White Nacht” (T7). It all comes together to make a completely original sound, and leaves no doubt in my mind that 30 years on, Jun is making some of the most compelling work of his career.
Troller is the Austin, TX darkwave trio of Adam Jones, Justin Star-Goers and Amber Star-Goers; this 2016 release on HoloDeck (Jones’ label) is their second album. While not quite the pain factory that the album’s art might suggest, Graphic aches with dark, synth-laden pop made for a dungeon dancefloor – from the bleak title track (T2), to the forlorn ballad “Not Here” (T3), the grind of “Nothing” (T7), the heavier “Sundowner” (T9), and the final sinister slowjam “Torch” (T10) – all driven by Amber Star-Goers’ powerful, agonized vocals. Between the beats are shorter instrumental interludes (T1, T4, T7, T8), and the Lynchian dream pop of “Storm Maker” (T5). All tracks can easily writhe their way into a set alongside recent additions like Boy Harsher, Kaelan Mikla, Lebanon Hanover, and other dealers in beautiful misery.
Civil War is the latest assault from Blood Rhythms, the noise collective fronted by Chicago-based electronic artist Arvo Zylo, here with Dave Phillips (of Schimpfluch-Gruppe), Wyatt Howland (Skin Graft) and many other collaborators. It’s a devastating – yet even beautiful – record, that might surprise non-noiseniks with its range of sounds and moods, and nearly song-like compositions. “Closure” (T1) opens with strange clarinet melodies, piercing tones, and a massive chorus of voices that finally resolves into a lone anguished scream. If the high-pitched violence of the latest Frataxin release left you begging for more, “Sick Skin” (T2) provides satisfaction, as strangled growls flail helplessly in feedback filth. With its first deep, ominous pulse, “Locked Away” (T3) descends into a forgotten underground lair, and we are overtaken by the howls of those trapped there. Side B holds the centerpiece – the colossal, confrontational “The Face” (T5) – where driving electronic rhythms collide with a cacophony of hellish horns. Yes, it’s a face-melter. The two-part finale (T6 and T7) buries heavy beats, organ bellows, metal scrap, and dying screams in a mass of noise; with one final thud, the suffocation succeeds.
This 2018 Alga Marghen re-release showcases early work from French electronic music pioneer Eliane Radigue, created while she worked as an assistant to Pierre Henry at his Studio Apsome. On these two ~12 minute pieces, Radigue experiments with microphone feedback and tape machines. “Jouet Electronique” (Side A, from 1967) is created simply from recorded feedback that is sped up and slowed down on the reel-to-reel machine to generate layers of eerie, otherworldly vibrations. “Elemental I” (Side B, from 1968) uses similar tape manipulation techniques – this time applied to her own field recordings of the outdoors – to consider the four elements of air, fire, earth, and water. Gorgeous sounds arriving on our airwaves just in time to calibrate our brainwaves for the composer’s live performances at The Lab this December.
Distance Machine is the new project of Arizona musician Michael Bjella, whose work under the name GOG is well represented in our library (see here and here). On this debut cassette from Cloister Recordings, Bjella offers his take on dark ambient music in three longform works. “The More Severe The Initiation The More The Sacred The Dance” (T1, a new tagline for KFJC?), with its repeating swells of sinister strings, calls to mind the hypnotic “audio virus” sound of Deathprod. At first blush, “Lorri and Tess” (T2) appears to be a simple drone, but closer listening reveals hidden layers of rich detail: gorgeous layers of voices and remote rhythms. Closer “Send Us More Chuck Berry” (T3) returns to the broad stringed tones from the first track; here they’re beamed from the depths of space, amplifying and attenuating into nothingness.
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