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Music Reviews

Urine Analysis – “Yellow Album, The” – [Tombstone]

mickeyslim   9/21/2018   7-inch, A Library

Scuzz punk from Gresham, Oregon. Stevie Blunder on vox, Niko on drums, Vomit Master on guitar, and Ellis Dee (not KFJC’s Roland Blunt) on bass. Late ’80s punk, discernible vocals all on the theme of pee-pee. Whistle solo on “We’ve Come to Kill.” FCC clean, but definitely disgusting. Translucent yellow vinyl limited to 200 copies.

Beauty School – “Crust Immersed” – [Weird Ear]

Phil Phactor   9/19/2018   A Library, CD

A bashing, clattering, scraping mess from this trio of Bay Area weirdos,  namely Tom Djll on trumpet and electronics, Jacob Felix Heule on percussion and electronics and Matt Chandler on bass guitar (ex. Burmese). Group noise has the potential to sidestep the wank-factor inherent in solo noise, and this release is a good example. It’s difficult to tell who’s doing what, but you can hear that everyone’s listening, stretching their capabilities, and competing to deliver the most brutal blow. The result is chaotic, claustrophobic, and abrasive, not to mention a bit of an endurance test. The first track is 10 minutes, and they get longer from there. Originally released on cassette, Tom Djll made this CD-R just for us. Should be deeply satisfying for both free jazz-ers and noise freaks alike.

Alto! – “LP3” – [Trouble In Mind]

Phil Phactor   9/19/2018   12-inch, A Library

Pit veterans Alto! return with their third LP and they’re sticking with their track naming strategy, which means we start off with ‘Piece 14.’ Bells and hand percussion are soon joined by a chunky synth melody and then—woah, is that a whistle—we’re off into Señor Coconut territory. Do not miss the killer flute solo a little over halfway through. There’s the occasional sinister guitar stab, but combustion will have to wait, as this weirdo world groover stays the course. The next track, ‘Piece 12,’ opens with some late-night minor-key guitar noodles, and then BOOM, depress the pedal and it’s just non-stop doom riffage. Eventually the dust settles, and we’re back to our Tunisian opium den. A bongo player emerges out of the shadows, and it’s all over. Or is it? The flip is marked as two tracks, but they track together to form an extended percussion and synth workout in the vein of the opener. Has the torch of the mystics been passed?

Preening – “Nice Dice” – [Fine Concepts]

lexi glass   9/18/2018   7-inch, A Library

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.

Sickness – “Fuck Your Punk Rock” – [RRRecords]

Louie Caliente   9/18/2018   12-inch, A Library

Old school american power electronics. A relentless, fast-paced assault of scorched samples, blown circuits, and human misery. Not a continuous wall of noise, but still fairly impenetrable.

Machine gun static screeching blasts, pummeling and painful. Conjuring up images of car wrecks, difficult dental work, and close encounters with heavy machinery.

Sickness is Chris Goudreau, who’s been active in the noise industrial scene since the mid 80s. Despite being fairly prolific, “Fuck Your Punk Rock” (RRRecords 2004) is only the second full-length to enter the KFJC library.  There are apparently 7 tracks on this album, but it’s difficult to tell them apart, and the picture disk makes it impossible to cue anyways, so just drop the needle and let it ride.

FIRST AND LAST TRACKS ARE LOCKED GROOVES!

Noertker, Bill / Oi, Mark – “nOOi” – [Edgetone Records]

Louie Caliente   9/18/2018   CD, Jazz

San Francisco bass + guitar duo pushing boundaries of compositional technique via telepathic improvisational dialogues, and “the blurring of standard electric guitar/electric bass roles”.

Intricate, interconnected noodling. The pair are not afraid of a melody, but not afraid to stretch it into new dimensions either. A variety of moods on display here, from the playful Primary Colors (T-8) to the melancholy Krystyna’s Theme (T-7), reminiscent of Lonely Woman. Things get a little strung-out at times, like on Idee Fixe (T-3), but nothing that’s going to hurt you.

Skadne Krek – “Schjesslips” – [Skussmaal]

Louie Caliente   9/18/2018   12-inch, A Library

Heavy-duty bass-driven prog-rock grooves from these Norwegian Noxagt-Neighbors. Their name means “damaged jerk”, and this is their second album, released on guitarist Gaute Granli’s Skussmaal label.

Gut-blasting bass lines, pounding yet precise drumming, looping synths, and scraping vocals. Repetitive poly-rhythmic grooves being hammered into your skull.

Granli lends his avant-garde guitar skills to the mix, but the sound is meaner and more aggressive than what we’ve heard before, but also more diverse, featuring tweaked-out post-punk jabs, psychedelic wailing, and even some scorching metal riffs.

Adult – “Detroit House Guests” – [Mute Artists Ltd]

Naysayer   9/16/2018   A Library, CD

Adult is Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller and “Detroit House Guests” is the CD that came out of their project inviting six very distinct artists into their Detroit home at separate times, collaborating with that artist and creating work from that collaboration. It’s a fascinating concept that offers so many varying outcomes. Fortunately, each collaboration is unique and of superb quality. Adult tend to fall into an electronic art punk art damage sound, pulling from the 1980’s/90’s but definitely making it their own. The influences are sometimes obvious on this new CD, which makes it more fun, but you can figure them out for yourself. The 12 tracks are definitely filled with the style and sounds of each collaborator but in the end the songs are Adult. The list of artists is so unique, from big names to lesser known to the mainstream alternative but equally valued by those in the know. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe brings his electronic soundscapes, twisting and beating with frightening authenticity. Shannon Funchess of Light Asylum adds her powerful deep vocals, drums and electronic play to mix with the sound of Adult. Michael Gira (Swans) and Douglas J. McCarthy (Nitzer Ebb) do what they do best with their onslaught and push. The new people for me were Dorit Chrysler and Lun*na Menoh, Dorit Chrysler is an internationally known theremin player, cofounder of The New York Theremin Society and founder of America’s first school for theremin. She also has this amazing voice, very emotional and cerebral at the same time. Lun*na Menoh is an artist, performance artist (Les Sewing Sisters), musician (Seksu Roba), and conceptual clothing designer. With Adult she uses her interest in sewing machines, using them to establish beats and rhythm. Put these all together and you get 12 tracks of electronic beats, monotone vocalization, art performance, emotional distance. Exceptional quality.

Beaulieau, Emil – “That Velvet Touch” – [RRRecords]

lexi glass   9/10/2018   7-inch, A Library

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…

Birchville Cat Motel – “Frog Prince, The” – [Anthem Records]

lexi glass   9/10/2018   7-inch, A Library

2007 7″ single from New Zealand experimental artist Campbell Kneale (see also Our Love Will Destroy the World and metal-influenced Black Boned Angel). One five minute track that tells a strange little tale, beginning with a noise collage of vibrating metallic sounds, like wire cables being wrapped, stretched and strained. But then the abstraction gives way to something more defined: a driving guitar and drum rhythm, a thick drone fog, and a monstrous swarm of chirping frogs. Together, the sounds paint a scene of headlights approaching in the dead of night.

Block, Rory – “a Woman’s Soul” – [Stony Plain Records]

Naysayer   9/10/2018   Blues, CD

Rory Block needs no introduction to those in the know of blues singers and musicians. Winner of numerous blues awards, Block has established a catalogue of respected recordings. “A Woman’s Soul”, which is a tribute to Bessie Smith, is the first in her”Power Women of the Blues” series which will honor a variety of distinguished female blues singers. Tribute albums can be a dangerous thing, a slippery slope. They often fall flat because the interpretation is to try and sound exactly like the original or to change the artist’s work so much that it just sounds ridiculous. Neither is the case in this wonderful 2018 collection of the familiar and the obscure and rare of Bessie Smith’s own catalogue of tunes. Smith’s voice was powerful, her interpretation unique within the confines of the blues musical pattern. Black takes these songs and makes them her own, in a great way. First, the instrumentation: Block plays all instruments – acoustic guitars, bass and percussion which is things like blocks, sticks, and boxes including oatmeal boxes. She puts this together in a manner that sometimes falls toward old country, and that is a good thing. Then her vocals: she has this vibrato that accentuates key words and phrases. Top that with her holding out specific notes and the meaning gets layered and put in your head. Her pitch rises and falls with the story she is telling, sometimes working out a guttural vocalization which hits the spot. This is a double thumbs up. Pure joy.

Julian Fane – “Our New Quarters” – [Planet Mu]

Naysayer   9/9/2018   A Library, CD

“Our New Quarters” is Julian Fane’s 2007 release on Planet Mu. Ten tracks of lush, orchestral faux gaze (not quite nu-gaze) float the listener down an auditory river. At once slightly Sigur Ros or Damon & Naomi and then avant garde vocalizations and elongated strings mixed with electronics, Fane shifts sounds and tone like the differences one encounters when on that river. His lyrics are eloquent poems of desperation and sadness, observances of what will come (not good) and what is around (not good). The guitar work balances his tenor voice, often beautifully indecipherable, making you fill in the text based on your level of sadness. Fane once was a broker working the NASDAQ. He gave that up and went into music. We need more people to make choices like this. Wallow on in your ennui oh wayward son.

Carr, Leroy – “Volume 2 (1929-1930)” – [Document Records]

humana   9/9/2018   Blues, CD


The staticky quality of these recordings are perfect for the blues, and Carr proves that misery loves company with these songs. Recorded circa the years of the Great Depression, we get a true feel for how tough things can be. “Rainy Day Blues” is awesome, as are many of the other tracks. Looking to commiserate? Try any of these to keep those lonesome feelings at bay.

Henriksen, Arve – “Towards Language” – [Rune Grammofon]

humana   9/9/2018   A Library, CD


Such sparse loveliness coming from a trumpet can only come from a Norwegian musician. Compared to the sounds of a flute, Henriksen’s trumpet music tiptoes over your emotions, leaving you feeling sad and nostalgic, and the beauty of his high-pictched vocalizations (especially on 9) offers you just enough comfort to wish for more.

Cardoso, Elizete – “Elizethissima” – [Som Livre Ltda.]

humana   9/9/2018   CD, International


All hail A Divina (the Divine One), the great Brazilian singer/actress whose name became associated with samba and bossa nova. As soon as I heard the first notes of this CD, I knew I was in for a treat. Upbeat samba melodies along with ballads are rendered with equal beauty by this lovely singer. Hope you enjoy as much as I did. Songs 1 and 5 are my particular favorites.

Artificial Brain – “Infared Horizon” – [Profound Lore]

Lord Gravestench   9/8/2018   A Library, CD

Artifical Brain, Technical Death Metal from The Big Bagel. Some members are also involved in the post-Hardcore scene out there.

Now I’m reading about Tech-Death online and I guess I don’t really know shit about it. I do like early Nile quite a bit (bite me!) but this doesn’t really sound like early Nile, at all. Portal meets Krallice might be a better reference point— and as we will see, I mean this as a compliment!

If I say I’m picky about Tech-Death I mostly just mean that I don’t like Gorguts all that much. My eternal Prog-metal nemesis Colin Marston, who plays in Gorguts (and Krallice), actually co-produced (with the band) this 2017 sophomore effort, as well as recording and engineering. It isn’t really a surprise because Marston is all over the NYC metal scene. I like to give the gentleman shit in my reviews here, but his touch on ‘Infrared Horizon’ probably did have a positive impact (as it did on Mastery’s ‘Valis’ BTW).

Artificial Brain’s sound is Tech-Death drawing somewhat on old Atrocity, with a bit of Black Metal melody and a dash of Isis-like Girlfriend Metal lipgloss. And the thing is, it all works amazingly well. Perhaps the fact that the band prefer sci fi horror themes (think ‘Alien’) for their lyrics (like Nocturnus, but, y’know, not totally boring) helps to make the forward-thinking/progressive/possibly overproduced sound so appropriate. Even the title track’s appearance by arch-tool Trevor Strnad, of contemptible posers Black Dahlia Murder, passes completely unnoticed. Paulo Paguntalan of Encenethrakh, another Marston project, appears on three tracks also. Main vocalist W.S. (see also: grindcore band Buckshot Facelift) keeps things gritty with a versatile mix of pigsqueals, growls and blackened shrieks.

All the music is composed by their guitarist. Dense, layered, psychotic, claustrophobic, but also kind of glittery and robotic. What sounds like utter chaos soon reveals itself to be well-structured and in some cases almost catchy Death Metal.

I think this is a rare case of a popular Death Metal band that doesn’t suck, but I haven’t seen them live yet so maybe I’ll end up eating crow. Good sound on the CD, anyway… In all seriousness, I’ve been a supporter of Artifical Brain since their first album and I’m happy for them. And the album art doesn’t remind me of the movie ‘Wall-E’ at all.

Dane, Barbara – “Hot Jazz, Cool Blues & Hard-Hitting Songs” – [Smithsonian Folkways]

humana   9/8/2018   Blues, CD


When I first looked at the cover of this 2-CD package, I was reminded of Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music.” But as soon as I started listening to the music and reading the liner notes, I knew it was so much more. Not that I don’t like Julie, but this Smithsonian retrospective of 60 years of Barbara’s music runs the gamut from folk to blues to jazz, and her amazing voice adapts to each style as though she was born to it. Plus, she opted out of the fame route and chose to sing where her passions lay–in civil right and songs of the people. Memphis Slim, Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Chambers Brothers, Pete Seeger, and many others appear on here. Be sure to listen to Disc 2, which contains the unreleased recordings. See for yourself why Louis Armstrong referred to Dane thus: “Did you get that chick? She’s a gasser!”

Mason – “Concrete Mirror” – [Oxen]

Lord Gravestench   9/7/2018   A Library, Cassette

Yet another deprogramming session from LA’s Harsh Noise dealers at Oxen, the label run by Unsustainable Social Condition and Leah P. This time our contestant is Abe Mason from N. Carolina., his mouth full of dust and tape. There are two tracks on side A and 3 on side B of this 2018 scorcher, and both ten-minute sides track together (wink). Side A is skittery and explosive, like coming down from methamphetamine (I’m told). Small movements in dim corners of abandoned factories. Suddenly the broken machinery springs to life; splats, tearing. Side B grinding rattling creaking, electronics and metal and a continuation of the general ‘cut-up’ theme also explored recently by Japan’s Scum on this same label.

It all seems to be pretty intricate sound design work even by the standard Oxen enforces. Very much in stereo, and kind of like a child “with ADHD” (cough) it can’t settle on any noise texture for more than about half a second. I dunno if it’s improvised or composed or waddaya waddaya, but I declare it truly impressive noise. Apparently Mason has also released quite a bit under the name Thirteen Fingers.

Pure electronic harsh noise devastation chopped into breathless adrenalin bursts. The only recognisable human sound anywhere is a brief sample of maybe a standup comic on the final track who pops in to say “It’s all just a waste of time… doesn’t matter.” Indeed.

Gibson, Robert – “Flux and Fire” – [Innova/American Composers]

Hemroid The Leader   9/5/2018   A Library, CD

Images in transition, transforming in time, like indiscreet undulations of the desert, or lines of poetry are the basis for “12 Poems,” short (2:21 max) for violin and piano. “I want to drink from the storm,” says composer Robert Gibson.
“Soundings” double-bass quartet a conversation in deeper voices. Gibson played bass for Mose Allison, Bob Berg, and Barney Kessel in the 80s. Sounding is the nautical term for depth measurement.
Night Music solo pieces ready for grave listening.

Verequete & Group Uirapuru – “Dance Music From Para, Amazonia” – [Wergo]

Hemroid The Leader   9/5/2018   CD, International

Varequete began his career as a modernizer and finished a traditionalist. In the 1960s he made radio hits popularizing the carimbó, a rhythm that in 2014 was designated Brazilian Cultural Heritage by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute. You may recognize it as the lambada? Drums – sax, clarinet, and fiddle at times. Vocal sing alongs and Varequete chatting.