Unreleased – until now – outtakes from the 1996 Musical Pumpkin Cottage sessions, the second time Steven Stapleton and David Tibet released work together under their names since 1991’s The Sadness of Things. This second session resulted in two albums – each “the Yin to the other’s Yang” – Musical Pumpkin Cottage and Musicalische Kürbs Hütte. Both albums contain different arrangements of the same two tracks. The first of these, “The Dead Side of the Moon,” a haunting love song with lyrics penned by Tibet, appears for a third time here (T1). Out of all three versions, I prefer this one the most – while the other two have a psych feel, this one begins with dreamlike melodies building into a fevered trance, setting a mysterious mood that suits the song’s lyrics. On the B side is “Frail Albatross,” a strange electronic sketch that sounds like the constantly churning inner workings of a bubblegum dream machine. Cool art from Babs and David, mastered by Andrew Liles. Es ist meine Party und ich werde weinen wenn ich Dich will…
Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt are still going strong after 25 years of partnership, and they’re celebrating the milestone with a new album. This work follows the blueprint of many previous Matmos releases: the duo choose a theme and a limited range of sounds, and build the album within those constraints, often finding creative and surprising solutions to the strict boundaries they’ve set for themselves. This time, they’ve crafted an album entirely from the sounds of plastic objects. Throughout Plastic Anniversary, there’s hints of past works – the latex squeaks from Supreme Balloon or the fleshy-tones of A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure – in the yelps from plastic tubing and squeals of synthetic fat and silicone breast implants. One element that sets this album apart for me is its powerful percussion. Members of a Montana high school drumline whale on trash bins in “Fanfare for Polyethylene Waste Containers” (T8) and solo on a “Thermoplastic Riot Shield” (T7, with added police state synths from Professor Cantaloupe). I outgrew my teenage crush on Deerhoof, but never my respect for their staggering drummer, Greg Saunier. Here, he contributes to several tracks, including the standout “The Collapse of the Fourth Kingdom” (T10), and the opener “Breaking Bread”(T1), where the trio plays the smashed fragments of old Bread LPs (a live performance of this track at the 2017 WFMU Record Fair caused a hilarious uproar from attendees). I could go on – the final track is synthetic soundscape of a teeming forest! (T11) – as this album overflows with unlikely sounds and ideas. Dead serious about their craft but never taking themselves too seriously, Matmos consistently rise far above the great garbage gyre that is the current musical landscape. Here’s to many more!
Raw, brutal “war jazz for the emotionally underdeveloped” (if you’re reading this, that’s you!) courtesy of Limbs Bin, the Western Mass.-based project of Josh Landes. Here, he’s joined by drummers Erik Brown and David Russell and Wyatt Howland (aka Skin Graft) on electronics. Two ~10 minute tracks recorded at a black site in Cleveland. Heavy darkness rings with a mechanical din and the vibrations of wires from electrodes applied to the skin. A cue – rapid clicks of drumsticks – signals the delivery of high-voltage shock. It hits in a blinding surge of skullbashing drums and howling screams, before dying out. The treatment repeats, over and over again, until everything is obliterated. What a glorious time to be free!
Anti-Ear is the appendage of noisician Tyler Harwood, formerly local but recently relocated to New Orleans. This 2018 cassette, released by Harwood’s NOLA-based music/graphic design imprint Planetary Magnetics Corporation, holds a 20-minute noise trip on each side. These aren’t complex collages that crush you with detail and density. Side A feels more like a comic strip, full of bold, broad strokes, graphic dots, and sudden zingers, like the oscillating electronics that warble until they succeed in shattering glass. Side B is still stark but more dark, with oozing synths, heavy pulses, and the quiet growls of Uncle Jesse on a meth binge, breathing down your neck. Have mercy!
Fierce improvisational avant rock from this trio headed by Wendy Eisenberg, a Boston-based guitarist, composer, and member of the no-wave punk band Birthing Hips. When she was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music, Eisenberg was spotted by John Zorn, who connected her with two accomplished players, drummer Ches Smith (of Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog) and bassist Trevor Dunn (of Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Nels Cline Singers, and more) . This 2018 release from Zorn’s Tzadik label is the result of this collaboration. Eisenberg’s bold playing is at the fore, as her strings contort from discordant but familiar sounds into skewed sonic shapes or heavy, electronic growls, like on the noisy opener “The Descent of Alette” (T1, a tribute to the poem by Alice Notely) . The trio’s exchanges begin as dispersed bursts that that build in to intense grooves (T1, T3, T9), loose jams (T5), tangled thickets (T6, T10) or driving attacks (T4, T5, T7). Staggering sounds from this talented newcomer.
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
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