Care is a collaboration among experimental artists from two generations, English composer Simon Fisher Turner and Swedish electronic artist Klara Lewis. Turner has been working since the 1970s, and perhaps is best known for his film scores, including compositions for the works of avant-garde director Derek Jarman. Klara Lewis, sound artist and daughter of Graham Lewis from Wire, here revisits the abstract sonic spaces from her 2016 LP Too. Throughout Care, stretches of heavy stillness give way to sudden violent jolts and slowly emerging fragments of recorded sounds, The field recordings – of children playing, ritualistic chanting, strummed and sung traditional melodies – materialize in the foreground, and as they surface, so does the flood of accompanying emotion. Gorgeous, lush drones surge and swell, reaching their greatest heights on the closer “Mend” (T4), a vision of solace amid chaos.
A darkwave feminist revenge fantasy unfolds on this first full-length LP from Bloom Offering, the project of Seattle-based electronic artist Nicole Carr. Cold synths and calculating beats set the scene for Carr’s deadened vocal delivery, seething with equal parts rage and hopelessness. Out of all the tracks, I fell for the album’s “hit,” the defiant “venus shrugged” (T4), but was also drawn to the twisted samples of advice on how to catch and keep a man on “imperfect absence” (T7), the dismal dance beats on “swallow me whole” (T1), and the heartsick arithmetic of “simple math” (T6). Released by Jim Haynes’ label Helen Scarsdale Agency.
Three generations of improvisors come together to forge “beautiful alchemy,” and the gold is captured on this 2018 studio recording from London’s Rare Noise. Dave Liebman is a jazz saxophonist who was mentored by Elvin Jones and Miles Davis in NYC in the 70s before going on to perform in many other groups, including his own ensemble. Adam Rudolph is a prolific percussionist (see his collaborations with Yusef Lateef and the group Hu Vibrational), specializing in jazz and African drumming styles. Tatsuya Nakatani, another percussion wizard, tours like crazy across the US, performing solo, with collaborators, and with his own Nakatani Gong Orchestra.
The Unknowable showcases each of the artists’ strengths over 13 concise tracks. Rudolph’s lively hand drumming lends a natural, organic quality, while Liebman’s warm saxophone and flute melodies match the others’ quick rhythms, or lengthen in broad tones to add contrast. Nakatani’s textures – metallic, electronic, dark, untamed – make the more traditional elements feel modern. Some pieces find the artists experimenting with unusual instrumentation – Liebman plays the Fender Rhodes on “Iconograph” (T10), and transforms his saxophone with spectral electronic effects on the title track (T4), and Rudolph plucks the keys of a thumb piano on the peaceful “Distant Twilight” (T9). This is challenging – but never difficult – material, and altogether a genre-less, generous, and enjoyable album.
Italian singer and actress Maria Monti began her career singing traditional ballads in the cabarets of Milan in the 50s, and later appeared in several popular films in the 60s. But in the 70s, her musical work veered off into strange new directions that are on full display on this lost 1974 record, a jewel unearthed and reiussed in 2012 by Unseen Worlds. On these ten tracks, arranged by avant-garde composer Alvin Curran, Monti brings to life the lyrics penned by poet Aldo Braibanti, accompanied by Curran’s synths and Steve Lacy’s free jazz saxophone. Il Bestiario has as many wildly varied styles as creatures in a zoo, from the intimate jazz of “Dove” (T2), the rollicking chanson “No no no no” (T3), the smoldering piano ballad “Il Serpente Innamorato,” the wistful folk and birdsong of “L’Uomo” (T6), and the midwinter’s meditation “Il Letargo” (T9), but all are connected by Braibanti’s lyrics that evoke surreal images of animals. The one exception to this theme is the album’s finale, an expressive, borderline-New Age reflection on the four elements, “Aria Terra Acqua e Fuoco” (T10). Like the recently reissued albums of Brigitte Fontaine and Lena Platanos, this is another instance of work from an adventurous female artist finally getting the wide release it deserves.
2015 compilation of three old releases from this disgusting black metal noisecore band from Central California. Non-metalheads might delight in the sound of all of black metal’s conventions as they are fed slowly, hooves first, into a meat shredder, maybe with some contact mikes fitted onto the blades to pick up every delicious gargle. The tracks from the 2002 split Memento Mori (T1-T8) have more of a noisewall quality with lots of pervasive static, while 2002’s YOU WILL BE GLUTTONED!!! (T9-T15), with all its samples and aggressive electronics, resembles PE. Maybe they should’ve just given up back in 2001, as the Filthy Satanic Pork demo from that year is my favorite stuff on here: just confusing guitar torture (I especially enjoyed the sloppy shredding on “Smearing Feces Into the Face of the Fucking Catholic Bishop”, T19), lead vocalist Izedis Apirikubabadazuzukanpa’s nonstop strangled howls, and a thick crust of distortion.
T12 FCC SHIT
Voicehandler is the Oakland duo of vocalist Danishta Rivero (of Las Sucias) and percussionist Jacob Felix Heule (of Sult, Beauty School, and a collaborator of Bill Orcutt, Tom Djll and many others). This 2018 album is the follow-up to their captivating 2015 debut, Song Cycles. Compared to that record, these three pieces feel fuller and more direct. Heule’s drumming springs out of the gate with rhythms that move from scattered to spare, melding with Rivero’s bubbling electronics and swarming vocals. Her voice bursts with possessed ravings, distorted phrases, throaty utterances, and, at times, resembles free playing on a brass instrument. On T2, Rivero’s electronics gradually transform her voice into an intense, terrifying chorus before vanishing into black static that rumbles into T3. Here, the duo’s conversation is converted into pulses of energy traveling over long-distance lines. But interference creeps in, obliterating everything save for the whispers of a dark spell. Totally magical. (Even more so when witnessed live – they put on one of the best shows I attended in 2018 – so check them out!)
Cluster Lizard is the duo of Dmytro Fedorenko and Kateryna Zavoloka. Together, they run the outstanding Ukrainian electronic label Kvitnu, but issue their personal work, including this 2018 album, on their own outlet, Prostir. Fedorenko has described Kvitnu’s sound as “blasting experimental music… explosive, wild and rude, so as not to make it background music,” and that’s just what he and Zavoloka achieve on Prophecy, a maximalist, monstrous sci-fi space odyssey. Each of these six long-form tracks moves through moments of quiet beauty, building intensity, and massive surges of raw energy. The signature Kvitnu dark techno rhythms are here, but they are layered with deep, expansive drones, blistering solar-flare synths, and quaking beats. Beautiful, cosmic sounds at a scale that assures you of your total insignificance in the universe.
If you’ve ever listened to any of the work from these two titans of free music, then you already know to heed the title of this album. Drummer Chris Corsano and guitarist Bill Orcutt have been performing together as a duo for years (see here and here), but this 2018 LP is their first studio recording, and it’s just as explosive as you’d expect. Orcutt’s singular sound is on full display. His guitar bursts with in a frenzy of wild patterns, digs into tense repetitive grooves, or, in the album’s most powerful moments, soars in ecstatic anthems. Corsano’s rhythms are the thunder to Orcutt’s lightning. He gives the pieces a heavier rock sound, but without dragging them down – his sharp drumming drafts his counterpart at every hairpin turn. Two brilliant musicians with unreal chemistry – it doesn’t get any better than this.
More filthy fun to wallow in on this 2011 CD from the decades-running Leeds, UK noise collective. Abusive rhythms, excruciating demonic screams, persistent ringing squeals, layers of echoed voices and, at the most unexpected times, snatches of hilarious pop music. The assaults are punctuated by quick intervals of ringing bells, dead air, coughs and phlegm, moans from a low-budget porno, and Hitchcock saying the word “cock” over and over again. Through the 11 tracks, S+Q reveal the depraved underworld of the UK – the sex cults (T9), school shooters (T3), and its most beloved serial killers, as on the T4 Sutcliffe tribute and the Hindley and Brady (very friendly) set piece on T5. The album gets stronger as the it tears on, with the heavy, horrifying dance track “In The Brown Girl’s Ring Piece” (T9), the looping insanity of “Fishy Flirting,” and final sneering onslaught “Sniff Your Fucking Pee Pee” (T11). Totally offensive, disgusting and hilarious, like some of KFJC’s best programming. Not appropriate for any time ever, but you might get away with a daytime play if it’s not T1 T2, T3, T5, T6, T9, T10, T11, all FCCs.
Li Jianhong is a free-improvisational guitarist from Hangzhou, working since the 90s in several groups, including VagusNerve (in our library), and the founder of the experimental label 2pi. This 2018 cassette release from Lyon/Nanjing-based label WV Sorcerer collects Li’s solo works from 2008, right around the time when his album San Sheng Shi, was discovered by international audiences.
Three longform psychedelic guitar works. “Die in humble and warm” (T1) is a blazing, slowly developing piece, with bright guitar tones darkened and distorted by reverb and other effects. The calm gives way to “Revolution is only a sad illusion” (T2), a menacing feedback storm that rages and settles, like toxic smoke clouds, into a heavy, post-apocalyptic drone. The feedback flares again before the Side A ends. Side B holds the heavy “1969” (T3), with reverberating tones swelling into massive blasts of psychedelic delirium.
Recently, we added Light Sleep, an album that marked the reawakening of Hiromi Moritani’s decades-running solo project Phew. This extraordinary 2017 follow-up leaves behind the Suicide-inspired drum machines and synths. Instead, the works here are built entirely from Moritani’s powerful voice. Her vocals rise and multiply in droning, demonic choruses (T1, T4), her moans are destroyed and distorted by effects (T2), her repeated phrases spin in circles (T3), and her spoken word poetry, in Japanese, moves through these surreal soundscapes (T2). “In the Doghouse” (T5) gave me flashbacks to playing that Furious Pig record during late night graveyard shifts, though Phew’s composition is much more anguished and beautiful, and “Sonic Morning” (T6) ends the record with a soft, droning dawn. Spellbinding.
Noise rock opus from this long-running avant-garde project. Dial formed in the 90s, when Jacqui Ham, previously a member of New York no-wave legends Ut, teamed up with Dom Weeks from Furious Pig and Rob Smith on drum machines and guitar for the trio’s first release, 1996’s Infraction. They released three more records over the next decade or so (these three in our library). This latest 2016 digital release was issued this year on vinyl by Feeding Tube. Two massive sidelong storms of guitar feedback, relentless rhythmic turmoil, synth sirens wailing like tapes sped up and slowed down. For brief moments the swells subside as Ham delivers her spoken word incantations. A powerful brew that will intoxicate fans of free jazz (this is Dial’s tribute to Ornette Coleman’s genre-defining 1968 album), Sonic Youth, the Dead C, and all forms of psychedelic oblivion.
I.H.N.A.B.T.B. is “I Have Not A Breakfast Today Bitch!” a five-piece noise-rock freakshow from Moscow; this 2009 release is their debut album. I received this CD from Naysayer with a note describing the lead singer as “a cross between Bryan Ferry, Chris Cornell, and Frank N. Furter,” the first hint of the insanity to come. Next, I opened the CD find on the inside sleeve a painting of a dude fucking a horse. Things got weirder from there: the lead track opens with theatrical crooning about cardio?? before launching into a goofy post-punk workout. “Aphrodisiac” is a science-fiction double-feature ballad that degenerates into a skronking sax frenzy (T3), “Close” is a creepy cartoon cabaret (T4). There’s aggressive noise rock (T2, T8, T10) and hyperspeed punk (T5, T7), sleazy dom worship (T6). Completely absurd lyrics in broken English, after a few too many bottles of vodka. Intriguing, horrifying, often irritating (there’s a strong similarity at times to Gogol Bordello, who I totally can’t stomach). I’m still not even sure I like this, but I can say for certain these broskis are beyond bananas, and isn’t that a part of a KFJC balanced breakfast?
FCCs on T4 T6 T11
Disambiguation is the debut release from Cruel Diagonals, the experimental electronic project of Oakland/LA-based sound artist Megan Mitchell. Each track fuses the sounds of the ancient and the modern into dark, dreamlike ambient works, all held together by Mitchell’s stunning voice. Her vocals, treated with reverb and layered into hauntingly beautiful harmonies, are woven with minimal rhythms (T2, T4, T5, T8), dark drones (T6, T7, T9), or slowly building storms of noise (T7). Also worked into the tracks are field recordings from the ethnomusicology archives from the University of Washington, where Mitchell was a student. In these nine tracks she expresses the search for sense in the senseless, arriving at some conclusion in her final incantation.
2018 beat tape, the fifth in a series from the Boxcutter Brothers, a collaboration between California beatmaker Drasar Monumental and Ayatollah, a prolific producer from Queens. On Side A, Drasar represents the West Coast with five tracks of dense and adventurous sampling, (including some Bollywood dance tunes on A3, dark piano loops and electro beats on A4 and A5). But despite the beautiful backing tracks, the feel on this side is aggressive, violent, and razor sharp. Side B cuts the other way – Ayatollah delivers the more laid-back of the two sides, but it still crushes. Killer soul samples, heavy beats, and a couple of cameos from Sun Ra (B5- amazing) and Barry White (B6). From local SF label 77 Rise. FCCs on A1, A4, A5
Lena Platonos’ career in electronic music stretches back to the 1980s, but it’s only now that audiences outside of her native Greece are discovering her stellar work. For that we have to once again thank Dark Entries, that put out vinyl re-releases of her first three albums, 1984’s Sun Masks (added to our library a couple years back), 1985’s Gallop, and this LP from 1986.
Lepidoptera is the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths that undergo metamorphosis during development. The lyrics (included in the liner notes in the original Greek with an accompanying English translation) examine this theme of transformation. Platonos reflects on a young child at play (T4) and a notebook found in the street filled with the handwritten fragments of a schoolgirl’s life (T8), or paints more abstract scenes with her poetry. Her expressive voice – in verses sung or whispered, and filtered through electronic prisms – and piano playing contrast with offbeat electronics sounds – synths, drum machines, weird sound effects – to create moods from mysterious (T1, T4, T7) to dramatic (T6, T9), inquisitive (T2, T3) and joyful (T5). Bizarre, beautiful, a fascinating specimen of an album.
This 2018 LP is the fourth release from Hogg, a Chicago duo known for their writhing, raging electronic punk. Each track staggers between stark contrasts: vocals that range from spoken word chants to black metal screams, rhythms that shift from plodding bass thumps to propulsive minimal beats, guitars that growl with noisy feedback or launch into sharp rhythmic attacks. This tension is reflected in the lyrics, that express the strain of being pulled in opposite directions – between self-confidence and self-doubt, between determination and exhaustion, between the longing to draw people near and the urge to stab them in the face. At times I’m reminded of bands from our own local scene (Stillsuit or especially Jeweled Snakes), and after spending a week letting this record worm into my brain, I really hope Hogg come out here and join them for a show sometime. Released by Alex Barnett’s (in our library) new label Scrapes.
Rombix is Roman Voronovskiy, a sound artist from Moscow and founder of the 24919 label that released this limited edition 2008 CD. Each track is a minimal collage made from layers of analog tape loops. Repeating patterns – of metallic rhythms, washes of static, soft chimes, echoing piano, angelic voices – ebb and flow into the mix. I should just give up on this review now, because nothing I could write would hold a candle to this, a poor English translation of a review I found on a Russian mail order website: “There is no genre. Do not noise and not ambient, do not guess. Experimental – this is not a genre… when you listen to ‘Butoh’, he just gently rustles. The main association is ice and mirrors. There are no synthesizers. The computer is also not. There are only rings from the film. In the spirit of ‘Butoh.’ It’s hip-hop that died. The drums fell, all the instruments melted, disappeared (rotted, crawled away), only the bare space of the tracks, soft fluffy itching from the speakers remained.”
2018 7” EP from Oakland post punk trio of Max Nordile on sax, Alejandra Alcala on bass, and Sam Lefebvre on drums. Four energetic tracks of logical chaos, wacky vox, rhythmic contortions. There’s nothing new about this no wave, but that’s quite alright – you can hear they’re having fun and it’s hard not to laugh along with them. From new local label Fine Concepts.
Pretty cool find – 7″ EP released sometime in the 80s from America’s Greatest Noise Artist himself, Emil Beaulieau (the alterego of Rrron Lessard of legendary label RRRecords, but you knew that). Four short tracks with all the trappings of power-drill-to-the-forehead harsh noise, but the experience of listening to this disc isn’t quite like that. Maybe it’s because within the clipped blasts are mysterious drones (T1), whistling melodies (T2), distorted guitar and whimpered vocals (T4) – you know, that velvet touch. Emil hopes you like it, but if not, well…
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