KFJC 89.7FM

Max Level

She Didn’t Respond – “Chagamole EP” – [Shplargnarf Records]

Max Level   2/6/2018   A Library, CD

She Didn’t Respond is Patrick Harsh (aka Fuckmaker) working with someone named IZFERNOR, of whom I know nothing. If you have been craving an adorable little 3″ package of relentlessly harsh/ugly noise, here you go. Actually I’m not surprised that she didn’t respond–I’m guessing she is probably dead.

Fuckmaker – “Untitled” – [Trashfuck Records]

Max Level   2/6/2018   A Library, CD

A seething bundle of ear-shredding noise from Trashfuck. If you took a Masonna record and a Government Alpha record and played them both extremely loud at the same time, you would eventually wonder why go to all that trouble when you can just put Fuckmaker on instead. The man behind the Fuckmaker curtain is named Patrick Harsh, and that might tell you all you need to know about this CD. Track 4 is not as harsh as the other tracks but it’s no walk in the park either.

Granli, Gaute – “Animalskt” – [Unhinged]

Max Level   1/30/2018   A Library, CD

Norwegian weirdness. Droning off-balance situations with raggedy guitars, voices, and random percussion. Odd things provide odd counterpoint to other odd things. Haphazard slide guitar and incomprehensible vocals throughout. One track sounds like a pair of sneakers tumbling noisily in the dryer. To be honest, I couldn’t really make heads or tails of this CD. Compared to this, the Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble sounds almost normal.

Mazurek, Rob – “Chimeric Stoned Horn” – [Astral Spirits]

Max Level   12/18/2017   CD, Jazz

A fantastic listen. Trumpeter/cornetist Mazurek dives fully into electronic manipulation of his piccolo trumpet. Synth processing, samples, and loops are the tools being used. My impression is that the trumpet is largely the source of the sounds, and sometimes that is apparent, but a lot of the time it’s hard to tell–the sounds are bent and modified and crushed and corroded and squonked-out beyond recognition, so who knows? Mazurek’s super creative manipulation drops you into a sound-world the likes of which you have probably never heard before. Long tracks, short tracks, it’s all here. Fascinating.

Clawman – “Citizen Gorgeous” – [Imaginator Records]

Max Level   11/28/2017   A Library, CD

Eccentric solo recordings with a ton of overdubs. Not exactly rock, not exactly pop, not exactly anything really. Clawman is one David Rogers-Berry, of whom I know nothing. With the exception of a guest or two on a couple of tracks, he plays everything himself, including guitars, keyboards, percussion, vocals, and various unidentifiable sounds. The musical style changes from song to song and in fact it often changes quite a bit within each individual song too, so it’s not easy to get a handle on what’s going on here. I listened to this CD three times and it sounded different each time–new parts that I hadn’t heard before kept showing up. An interesting although somewhat baffling listen. There is something on here for you so check it out.

Lord Fyre – “Destruction At 2013” – [Auris Apothecary]

Max Level   11/21/2017   12-inch, A Library

Droning, lo-fi, semi-bedroom recordings. Lord Fyre uses all manner of oddness to make their music–listen for hippie drums, various guitars, lap steel, viola, rhythm box, bells, tape echo, found sounds, flute, public address system, califone(!), solar feedback, sonic overload… there is even a Tony Conrad LP in the mix, adding violins.
A2 is an actual song with vocals, chord changes, and lead guitar. A3 and B2 have vocals too, but they seem more random and off the cuff, which fits the droning, stoned-sounding music.
For the most part, this record will satisfy your need for hazy, laid back, psychedelic drone experiences.

Gravitas – “Godspeed & Good Hunting” – [Auris Apothecary]

Max Level   11/7/2017   A Library, CD


Respectable, math-style heavy rock from now-defunct trio out of Bloomington, IN.
Solid playing throughout. Four short tracks (1 to 3 minutes) and two longer tracks (5 to 6 minutes.) I found the latter two to be the best tracks–they move through different passages in tight arrangements and kept my interest. My favorite part is the Sabbath-inspired jam in the middle of #5. #1 is two minutes of solo flanged-out guitar.
The label says this is their only recorded work. It’s too bad there isn’t more material here, but as I said this is respectable the way it is.

Adams, Steve / Perkis, Tim – “a Few Eccentricities” – [Self Released]

Max Level   10/24/2017   CD, Jazz

This is delightful. Check out Adams (ROVA Saxophone Quartet) on various saxes and flutes playing duets with electronics master Perkis. On some of the pieces the two players work within the same timbral environment and pitch range, rendering the line between the two less than clear. But not always– sometimes it is quite obvious who is doing what, just as one would expect with duets involving such dissimilar instruments. Each piece explores different terrain and they are all compelling and fun to listen to. A great release from two local musical treasures.

Mezzacappa, Lisa – “AvantNOIR” – [Clean Feed]

Max Level   10/17/2017   CD, Jazz

A great record. It may as well be subtitled “People Up to No Good in Sketchy Locations in San Francisco at Night” because that is exactly what it sounds like. A high concept record–music composed by bassist/bandleader Mezzacappa as accompaniment to (and extension of) noir literary works and films that she found intriguing and inspirational. Her detailed liner notes lay it all out. The music is skillfully realized by an ensemble of first-rate local jazz/avant-garde players. It twists and turns, making the listener wonder what is waiting in the next dark alley. Snippets of film dialog pop up here and there, and I like the way the electronics of Tim Perkis add a sense of subtle unease throughout. An evocative ride through nighttime SF more than a few decades ago… Fillmore Street, Army Street (not Cesar Chavez), Green Street, etc.

Unholy Triforce – “Cru/cifict/ion” – [Auris Apothecary]

Max Level   10/10/2017   7-inch, A Library

I don’t know why the hell we are adding this to the KFJC music library. Clearly it does not WANT to be added. It’s a limited edition (61 copies) one-sided clear plastic square with eight little black nails driven through it, and a ninth glued across the spindle hole in the middle. If no one ever plays it, who could blame them? If nothing else, it serves as a cool, fucked-up piece of art, but what the Auris Apothecary people really want is for you to figure out some way to play it. Disassemble it or whatever. Don’t just admire it–use it. Nothing worth having comes easy is the message I get. This thing–the nails have been removed for your convenience–has one track (1:30) of PURE NOISE lathe-cut into it. Yes, one brutal track that is a mere minute and a half long, but it ends in a locked groove, so the playing time is actually infinity.

Machine Listener – “Sentient System” – [No Part of It]

Max Level   9/26/2017   A Library, CD

A wide range of sounds across the Noise spectrum. There is a sort of “musical” element to some of the tracks–musical as in minimal melodies and drones and repeating patterns of notes, and Tracks 4, 5, and 7 are probably more power ambient than noise. You’d still want to file this under Noise though. The first track starts off gently with a soft drone but not long after the one-minute mark the thing suddenly jumps the rails and starts throwing alarming noises at you. Machine Listener is a solo project by Matthew Gallagher. It’s quite interesting, actually.

Tagg, David With Forces Mobiles – “Improvisations For Cancer” – [Self Released]

Max Level   8/29/2017   A Library, CD

Atlanta guitarist Tagg has released a ton of stuff, much of it on mini-CDs like this one. Here we have Tagg’s 2006 collaboration with an outfit called Forces Mobiles who provide clarinet, violin, piano, and percussion. The result is instrumental ambient music in small doses (tracks are in the 3 to 7 minute range.) Nothing I would call super innovative but if you are in the mood for a bit of ambient soundscape action this should do the trick.

Midnight Mines – “If You Can’t Find a Partner Use a Wooden Chair” – [Mystery Plane Tapes]

Max Level   8/8/2017   12-inch, A Library

Two guys from the UK who aren’t afraid to make a lo-fi racket out in the garage or wherever this was (poorly) recorded. Baron Saturday and Private Sorrow are their names and they play drums, guitar, keyboards, and at least one of them does vocals. So it’s pounding/crashing drums and blurting guitars and primitive keyboards all over the place. Sometimes similar to The Fall in that they will occasionally roll out a ragged/catchy/rockin’ musical pattern and one of the guys is talk-singing over it.

This record reminds me of those cassettes I used to send away for in the mid-80s, offered in ads in the back of music zines, where it would be some unknown crazy-ass noise-rock band from Ohio or New Jersey or wherever, on some label I never heard of, and when I finally received it in the mail and listened to it, it was badly recorded and a real treat. This is kind of like that. Track B3 is an instrumental.

Au:Tone:Al – “S/t” – [Cloister Recordings]

Max Level   7/18/2017   A Library, Cassette

Intriguing trips into the hidden dark ambient recesses of your mind. Two side-long tracks on this cassette, each in the range of 17 minutes long, recorded live at the Luggage Store Gallery in 2010. Joining forces here are Andre Custodio (Say Bok Gwai, Nihil Communication), Dave Ed (Neurosis), and Kevin Gan Yuen (Sutekh Hexen) on Moogs and other synthstuff, along with guitar/amp/noise. Long, extended tones, sometimes meditative, sometimes more outward-reaching, wash over the listener. Reminds me of a subterranean journey through outer space, even though that’s not actually possible… I don’t think.

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – “Cavoli Riscaldati” – [BUFMS]

Max Level   6/13/2017   A Library, CD

A cavalcade of odd sounds, the origins of which are difficult to discern. Are these machines? Organic things? Electronic glitchery? Tape manipulation? Samples of who knows what? Probably all of the above. The first track starts with weirdly percussive monotone vocals and then moves into snippets of dialog about being sick and not wanting to live and bum trips and such. Then you’re in for a treat: two marathons (34 minutes and 25 minutes) of layered sounds that twist and turn and evolve and go all kinds of places and just work really well. The final track is 17 seconds long and totally unnecessary. Inscrutable material overall.

Cale, John – “Academy In Peril, The” – [Edsel Records]

Max Level   3/21/2017   12-inch, B Library

This mostly instrumental album (1972) was Cale’s second solo effort, and it’s a transitional work in that he had been writing songs for a while–“Vintage Violence” was his previous solo record and that one was all songs–but he was not ready to leave behind the 1960’s avant-garde instrumental sounds he had been known for before the Velvet Underground came along. So there is some of that here. Cale was also classically trained on viola and piano, and that’s another influence that plays a big part on this record. There are three nice, medium-length piano pieces, and The Royal Philharmonic appears on an 8-minute orchestral suite on Side 2 and then joins Cale on the final track. There are a few oddball tracks: “The Philosopher” is all slide guitar, trumpet, and junk percussion; “King Harry” has actual lyrics but Cale delivers them in a creepy whisper; and there is a track on Side 1 that features Legs Larry Smith (of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) giving instructions to someone at a television studio with Cale’s overdubbed violas underneath. Ron Wood appears to be on this record someplace. I wouldn’t call every track strong, but if you’re a Cale fan, or even just curious about him, you’ll find some things to like here.

Meirino, Francisco and Gerritt Wittmer – “Confidence of Being Lost, The” – [Misanthropic Agenda]

Max Level   3/6/2017   A Library, CD

Swiss artist Meirino joins forces with the Bay Area’s own Wittmer (aka Misanthropic Agenda) to bring us a foundation of distant hums, rumblings, gurglings, and notes veiled in deep layers of corrosion. Closer up in the mix we hear all manner of glitchy sounds, static, labored breathing, sometimes voices. The overall impression I get is that we have somehow stumbled into a place where terrible things happen and we do not know the way out. This disturbing, evil CD would have been right at home on ‘Radio Free Hatred.’ The artists specify that all three tracks (11 minutes, 8 minutes, and 14 minutes) are to be listened to in one continuous session.

Guerineau, Sylvain/Kent Carter/Itaru Oki/Makoto Sato – “D’une Rive a L’autre” – [Improvising Beings]

Max Level   12/6/2016   CD, Jazz

Free jazz sounds from this international quartet, all four members having been based in France since the 1970s and well-known on the jazz/improv scene. What we get here are wide-ranging workouts on tenor sax, trumpet/flugelhorn, bass, and drums. Plenty of variety in this music, with some quiet, ambient-ish sections contrasting with wild sections full of high energy blowing and banging. And of course, everything in between. Trumpeter Itaru Oki also plays a bit of flute. I especially enjoyed bassist Kent Carter, who is solid and also gets some unusual sounds out of his instrument.

Hausu – “Total” – [Hardly Art]

Max Level   11/15/2016   12-inch, A Library

2013 release from now-defunct Portland OR band. Layers of noisy guitars. Atonal goodness. Lots of chord changes. Morose vocals. “I don’t want to talk about it any more; I just want to go back to sleep.” A pop sensibility at times. I hear many influences in their music–in various places The Cure, Sonic Youth, Versus, Sunny Day Real Estate, and various shoegaze bands came to mind. A dense guitar-attack sound overall. A3 is a short irresistible track in which the vocals switch back and forth between singing and yelling.

Almas Fronterizas – “S/t” – [Pistolas y Saguaros Records]

Max Level   11/14/2016   12-inch, A Library

Trio playing a potent mix of politically themed California Chicano rock and Native American traditional material. Some tracks bring the raw plugged-in energy of a good garage band, while others take a more elegant approach with a 12-string acoustic guitar. Track 4 on Side 2 is a charging rocker with lyrics in Spanish and an aggressive cumbia beat, and it really works.
A couple of times guitarist/vocalist Gilberto Rodriguez throws in a slide guitar thing as an abstract percussion effect and I’m not crazy about it. Other than that very small thing, though, I’m in. Unfortunately, the record is too short–several of the songs are only a minute or two in length. I hope these guys get a chance to stretch out and produce a full length, more developed album. Until then, check this one out. As a bonus, it’s a very nice pressing on heavyweight vinyl.

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