French sound artist Bérangère Maximin transforms an assortment of instruments – percussion, small objects, synths, guitar, and voice – into the Land of Waves on her sixth album. Over two LPs, we visit the imagined corners of this strange land, starting with its terrain: the underground drones and gemlike synths on “Day 41” (A1), idiophonic melodies emanating from deep caverns on “Kalimba Rough” (A2), the swarm of tremors on “The Broken Shoe” (A3). The B side sets out on a night time walk through an unusual wilderness, its sounds of glowing insects, wind-up birds, leaping fish, calls of owls and other unidentified creatures beaming through the darkness. “L’Echappee” (C1) begins at the edge of a dock before unmooring, drifting into a shadowy sidelong journey. The final D side holds some of the most exciting and varied tracks: “Walking Barefoot: Imaginary Quintet” (D1, a collaboration with Fred Frith on guitar and the Swibeckico Quartet on electronics) an eerily beautiful techno piece, “Des Tigres Multicolores” (D2) with its jeweled tones, purrs and growls, and closer “The Thread” (D3) where the most familiar of sounds, like a cell phone notification chime, are absorbed into Maximin’s dreamworld. More of her previous work can be found in our library, here and here.
Evicshen is Victoria Shen, a sound artist working in Somerville, Mass. Shen began working with analog modular synths as an intern at Jessica Rylan’s Flower Electronics (Rylan’s work as Can’t most certainly can be found in our library), and later incorporated other homemade electronic instruments into her work. On Hair Birth, her first full-length LP, Shen extracts vivid psychedelic dreams from the Buchla 100 and Serge Modular synthesizers. Sustained tones, rhythmic sparks, blasts of coarse static, and bright electronic fizz all flow from the cables, and from the waves of synthesis her voice, distorted with effects, surfaces. Whirlwind tones and maniacal voices cast a dizzy spell “Funhouse Mirror Stage” (T4), and a creeping menace takes root on “Bolete” (T5). We’re flung along the twists and turns of the “Lissajous” (T6) before the final slow build to a “Fever Pitch” (T7). A wild ride, released on the Chicago experimental label American Dreams.
Boundaries between the real and the imagined dissolve on this masterful noise work from Philadelphia-based artist Jason Crumer (also the founder of the outstanding experimental label No Rent Records). Sounds of within – deep drones, and high-pitched ringing – meet the sounds of without – field recordings of doors slamming, rusted hinges swiveling, street sounds of footsteps and traffic, pencil meeting paper to scrawl a letter – sometimes blurring smoothly together, other times cutting abruptly from one scene to the next. Following this trail of fragmented memories leads to a grotesque vision of madness itself, a wild blast of horns and noise. I also want to note the album’s strange and beautiful artwork, surreal images to match the disc’s sounds by painter Justine Neuberger. From the Austin experimental label Breathing Problem Productions.
From this album’s opening moments – a mournful piano repeating in a hypnotic loop as scrap metal thunder rumbles overhead – I was struck by its severe beauty. Tourette is Benjamin Clément of Montreuil, France. On these three longform pieces, he contrasts graceful sounds – piano, strings, otherworldly voices, brilliant ambience – with punishing storms of harsh noise. Artists who use pleasing sounds in noise have their naysayers, but Tourette proves that in the hands of a skillful composer, the lighter moments make the impact of the noise assault that much more powerful. This is one of the best records I’ve heard in some time, and a new favorite that I’ll continue to revisit.
First addition to our library from this Philly experimental two piece of Rodnie King and Riot Dent. They floor it right out of the gate, ripping through the first four tracks with blasts of drums, filthy bass and monstrous screamed vocals. There’s hardly chance to catch your breath between the call to lose yr shit on the dance floor (T5), a hip hop interlude on the slow suffocation of being black in America (T6), a sludgy, squirming jam (T7), and an increasingly familiar moment of disbelief, where there’s no words but “oh, fuuuuuck” (T8). The tape runs out with total noise breakdown of “endless death” (T9), while the last couple tracks swerve into oncoming traffic to end it all. Recorded and self released in 2017, but hits just right during the current cataclysm.
This cassette is Ashley V. Bennett’s first work as Human Guilt (her previous work as Nadia can be found in our library). Each track in Coordinates surveys one of three geographic locations. At the first (T1), restless static intensifies into convulsive noise and distorted cries, a rush of sounds that finally converge into a single, sharp tone. The second site (T2) recalls the churn of machines, a storm of metallic clashes and vicious screams. The final coordinate (T3) orients inward: an empty roar, distant buzzes and beeps, wavering drones. 2020 release from Philadelphia’s No Rent Records.
2020 CD reissue of a 1998 self-released cassette from The Rita, the long-running Vancouver harsh noise project of Sam McKinlay. Two dense, dynamic 15 minute tracks follow the reanimation of a lifeless corpse: female form rising from the earth, malevolent life force circulating beneath layers of shredded flesh, a lifetime of suppressed screams erupting from lungs filled with mud. From Ohio experimental label Amethyst Sunset.
Two discs of underworld explorations from Teatro Satanico, the Italian post-industrial group that dates back to the early 90s. The current lineup is a trio that includes founding member Devis Granziera, accompanied here by members of Novy Svet, Le Cose Bianche and other shadowy figures of the European underground. This album draws from the writings of occultist Kenneth Grant, who described the Tunnels of Set as “a dark web or nocturnal network of paths” that extend through the subconscious mind. The album traces these twists and turns, with each track named for an ancient spirit that resides within the tunnels. Dark ambient echoes, chanting voices and psychedelic synth tones ring through the chambers, as ritualistic rhythms, from slow pulses to dark techno beats (found on T3, T7, T12, T16) quicken the step through the passages. On the final track of the Omega CD (T22), two minutes of silence precede the arrival of a final evil presence. A 2019 release on Old Europa Cafe.
As Himulkalt, Nevada visual/sound artist Ester Kärkkäinen relates her experience of female sexuality as “a feedback loop of misery and desire.” In her visual work, xeroxed grayscale photographs of bodies are cut and superimposed in repeating patterns, as if her subjects were reflected in a shattered mirror. Her power electronics work could be heard as the sonic analogue of these images: on Vulgar, jagged, repetitive rhythms are layered with blasts of noise, while Kärkkäinen’s whispers, moans, and screams are fractured by effects and static. A creeping menace builds through the tape, suggesting a scene of violation that we finally witness on “to whisper intent” (T8). A violent reaction follows on “not in this body” (T9), exploding into the ecstasy of revenge on the final track “want you to see me” (T10). Originally released in 2017 on No Rent Records and reissued this year on Found Remains.
Twisted turntable insanity from AMK, the SF-to-LA-based noise artist who has conjured chaos from old record players and cut-and-pasted discs for nearly four decades. Intended to be played in random order, these tracks are utterly unpredictable, from the short segments of silence or surface noise on the untitled tracks, to the stack of thrift store records tossed into a blender and set on puree on “Jamboree” (T3) and “Calypso” (T11), to the simmering noise of “La Post” (T4) or the bounce and blast of “Bull Weevil” (T16). “Il Dome for the Bird” (T18, a live track with assistance from Damion Romero, Geoff Brandin, Erik Hoffman, Jorge Martin, and Bob Bellerue) is a springtime daymare where bright birdsong shapeshifts into an alien avian cheerleading squad that makes perfect dreamlogical sense with the accompanying narration sampled from nature documentary voiceovers. Released in 2007 on the even noisier sublabel of Troniks, PacRec.
Seeded Plain are the local electroacoustic duo of Jay Kreimer and Bryan Day (of Collision Stories, and the head of the new music labels Public Eyesore and eh?). Over the length of this C60 tape, we’re drawn into a strange sonic realm made entirely from a collection of original homemade instruments invented by the duo. The devices used on this recording aren’t specified, but Day’s creations have names like Magnetoselqier, the Rotowhisker, and the Sputterphone, vivid titles that give clues to the origin of the unique sounds found here. At times they have a familiar counterpart – a plucked string, a toy piano, a vibration from a gong, a hiss of an insect. But others are utterly alien: the whistles, whirrs, and warbling tones from another dimension that melds with and subtly transforms our own.
Angelwings Marmalade is one of the many incarnations of Chicago-based experimental electronic artist Angel Marcloid (see her other projects, the fantastic Fire-Toolz and Nonlocal Forecast, in our library). She describes this working name as “the catch-all moniker for sound collage, noise improv…I used to work a lot with hands-on electronics, cassette players, loopers, stuff with contact mics on it… that ended up evolving into Angelwings Marmalade when I began incorporating software into the experiments.” This 2019 cassette is a wild found sound timewarp where tribal percussion and drum machines, computer chimes and singing gongs, smooth jazz sax and pitch-shifting synths, demonic incantations and throat singing chants, harsh noise and muzak are sonicated and synthesized into a coherent vision of unrest, a scene of dissolving predictability that seems just right for the moment.
With this 2019 double LP set, Vinyl on Demand resurrects the sole pair of recordings from the Two Daughters. Known only by their first names, Anthony and Paul, the mysterious Brixton duo worked on the fringes of the early 1980s weirdo English experimental universe inhabited by Industrial Records and United Dairies artists. There also may be a connection to Simon Fisher Turner: the Two Daughters could very well be the muses for Turner’s later experimental ambient project Deux Filles, whose reissued work was recently added to our library.
LP1 features the duo’s first self-released cassette, 1980’s Ladder of Souls. Fragments of twisted chanting voices, haunting melodies, simple guitar patterns, and tribal percussion are looped and layered into minimal ambient works. On some tracks, the repetition can become tedious – like the siren-like wailing that carries on for ten minutes on “Return Call” (T5) – but overall, it leads to a captivating, hypnotic effect. Especially effective are the works with percussion: “Drums” (T6) sounds like it could be on rotation at the Kluba Cupol.
LP2 holds their first full-length LP, Kiss the Cloth/Gloria, released in 1981 (and reissued later in ’87 by United Dairies). Here, the ideas found on the first cassette come into full realization. The rhythms have a larger, richer sound (see the ecstatic “Gloria II”, T13), and the vocal chants are clear and strong. Layered with these sounds are lush strings, echoing gamelan, choral hallucinations, and even samples of Bowie.
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.
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