KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Haters, The – “Mind The Gap” – [Vinyl Communications]

lexi glass   4/1/2020   A Library, CD

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.

Deny The Cross – “Alpha Ghoul” – [Tankcrimes]

whngr   3/30/2020   12-inch, A Library

Total Fucking Battery

45- local- power-violence- brutal- grind- hXc- hooks- misanthropy- heretical- raspy- note-intensive bass runs- blast beats- way too fucking short.Members of Spazz, Agents Of Satan, Municipal Waste, Plutocracy, Exit-13, Black Army Jacket, et al. lay down 18 tracks of bleak and devastating brilliance on this EP from 2016. I’m sorry that I never witnessed these bad-asses do their thing ’cause it is basically like my fucking dream sound ca. 1995 with nods to the M.I.t.B. bass slide thing and everything so I’m pretty sure I would have pissed myself. Now the country is on lock-down and the likelihood of pissing myself in public has become vastly less likely. Their drummer (Dave Witte) has moved back east, the majority of world is obliging to the empirical request to sequester, the economy has faltered if not begun to collapse, and this, like most of my dreams which lay in cinders around me, will never see fruition. Coincidentally that kind of negativity is a fitting mindset for an appraisal of Alpha Ghost. Though thematically a thread of recusancy, Heterodoxy, and the profane (no discernible FCC’s but FCC on Hospital Ballads [B3]) run throughout this blistering, seething, pane of wax, lyrically these songs are overtly personal and emotive. Staying true to the genre but pushing the envelope of technique, expression, and to my mind, relevancy. 

-Hospital Ballads (B3)   Uninsured Fucked, inhaling disease Skin is scaling From inside I bleed Uninsured System in shock Blood is contaminated My teeth crack and rot I am not immune
  C. Ramirez  2016

The cover-art is appropriate as well, which in this time of sweeping global pandemic, can only be interpreted as God sneezing on his flock.

“I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.”

REV:15

Domo/Domo

carsonstreet   3/30/2020   A Library, CD

Formed at the beginning of 2010 in Alicante, Spain. Domo plays psychedelic and electrifying rock. Domo’s music is based on psychedelia and experimental rock. The starting point of their music is “the classical structures of heavy, hard and progressive rock of the seventies”. Lots of doom and sludge here too. Recorded, mixed and mastered in August 2010.

Ascended Dead – “Abhorrent Manifestations” – [Dark Descent Records]

whngr   3/30/2020   12-inch, A Library

Death Metal Fusillade

A massacre of iniquitous proportions surround a single track of euphonious yet unholy classical guitar (A5 Dormant Souls) that includes an adept cover of Last Ritual by death metal fore-bearers Possessed (B4). Wrathful drum abuse, shredding, battery, slicing, dive-bombing, guttural bellowing, finger picking, and ominous wind by this four-piece from San Diego, Portland, and then San Diego again. The drumming stands out on this album though the guitar work is also quite ferocious with a considerable amount of virtuosity which, for this miserable volunteer, is not necessarily, or even usually, a complement but Ascended Dead have unfurled an admirably vicious first album of extremely high-energy death metal that though forging little new ground does willfully and with malice aforethought lay waste to what remains of the blackened earth bequeathed to them by their progenitors.

Space Debris/Into The Sun Live 2006 Burg Herzberg Festival

carsonstreet   3/28/2020   A Library, CD

Space Debris is a German band that creates a complicated blend of classic rock jams, Krautrock, space rock, psychedelia and fusion jazz. A Hammond B200 with Marshall amp, Ludwig drums and a special recording technique help create a sound that is creative, experimental and comparable to early Deep Purple and Pink Floyd instrumental music.

O’Dwyer, Aine – Gegenschein

carsonstreet   3/27/2020   12-inch, A Library

Aine O’dwyer/Gegenschein

This is a mystical frightening drone. Just the kinda thing to help scare the peasants into believing. It really works on a number of levels including psych, classical, medieval folk and drone. Two side-long tracks. Gegenschein (gegen-schein) was recorded at the Franciscan Friary in Limerick city. Áine (awn-yuh) gained access to the Friary in 2012 and explored both pipe organ and space in its disused state. What becomes of a sacred space after the dispersion of the spirit, after the light has been switched off and it has been de-consecrated? Read the information on the back of the sleeve about the Mayan legend and interpretations of a new era for all earthly inhabitants undergoing a spiritual transformation. I love this record and so will you or you will be going to hell.

New Improvised Music From Buenos Aires [coll] – [Esp-Disk]

Hemroid The Leader   3/26/2020   A Library, CD

14 tunes between 8:22 & 1:38. ESP Disk. Mostly jazz with chamber, electroacoustic & noise. Heavy, not swinging: repeated destabilizations, shocks & devaluation underpin tension, crisis & terror. Mouthpiece sounds, processed audio, silences. Inhabits a unique space, not the usual skronk. Cool book.

Sinneplakken – "Sinneplakken" – [Time Released Sound]

humana   3/26/2020   A Library, CD

The Kleefstra Brothers hail from the Netherlands, with Jan writing the lyrics and Romke offering his guitar and effects. Other musicians join them to create the atmospheric sounds on this CD that are hinted at by the track titles. The vocals are like a voice-over to a fascinating film that is rather dark and haunting. A lot of people will appreciate this.

Primitive Isolation Tactics – “We Are Flaming and On Fire” – [Oxen]

lexi glass   3/26/2020   A Library, Cassette

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.

Bölzer – “Hero” – [Iron Bonehead Productions]

whngr   3/19/2020   12-inch, A Library

Crushing Expressive Two-piece

Impressively full sounding guitar work and a decisive pummeling from these two beasts from Sweden circa 2016. Incredibly heavy riffs with gnarly hooks that will impregnate themselves and swell in your brain like an intracranial hematoma, spewing sonic devastation in to the folded lobes of sentience. To attempt to slide Hero into any single genre minimizes the incredible effort and accomplishment of this album, they draw expansively from several and yet still carve out some territory that is decidedly unique. Rest assured, this is metal but I’ll warrant you haven’t heard anything quite like it. The bass is handled proficiently by Okoi Therry Jones and the upper detuned strings of his ten-string guitar (WTF?) but what ultimately strikes this miserable volunteer dumb are the melodies that are spread liberally between the rhythm. From shimmering chords to single-note picking like a crow stabbing away in a metered pattern at its quarry, to a proliferation of trem-picked savagery. And then there are the drums. A massive barrage awaits. Raining down from the heavens and crashing into his skins like a mighty ocean against its craggy shore. Unfortunately, I simply am not qualified to speak on drum technique or potential influences, but I can speak to Fabian Wyrsch’s ability: this guy fucking batters. There is a deeper resonance though. Something beyond the instrumentation or style. It seems to me that this is a highly personal project, one with an ethos and a trajectory. Complex concepts that are alluded to but not thoroughly revealed. A tenuous step towards arcane knowledge and the spiritual realm and off the well beaten path of the Luciferian, the atheist, or the heretic and forging ground more akin to the Magi or the Shaman. Hero endeavors to partially break away from the sound of their previous recordings, sparingly employing some clean vocals that may make you want to initially pan this release or maybe you’re too cvlt for Bölzer’s first LP which is respectable. I appreciate your narrow mindset, you are thoroughly dedicated to the banner that you have been waving for the last few years or decades but I am a multi-faceted monster. One with a fairly short attention span that craves stimulation (perhaps you know of what I speak), so when a band takes a chance and leaves the confines of their following’s expectations my ears will tend to twist towards the sounds not yet heard. The ones begging to be processed. An often remunerating endeavor. I advise you to do the same. You will be rewarded, if not in this life… then perhaps the next.

Blodulv – “III – Burial” – [Eerie Art Records]

whngr   3/19/2020   A Library, CD

Ugly Swedish Black-metal

Straight-ahead mid to up-tempo misanthropic black metal from Sweden circa 2005 book-ended by two abstractions (Intro: vocal-based aggressive noise, Outro: delay-based artifact loop). Gallops, riffs, trem-picked power chords, lumbering, and methodical. Heavily distorted vocals and primitive bXm guitar… might be some bass and drums in there too but they are so buried and weak in the mix they were appear to have been afterthought. The band which may or may not have included a drum machine designated Dr. M (which was dumped for “failing to obey orders”) was subsequently replaced by Mr. Maachinaa and according to AEIFUR (lyrics) in an interview over a decade passed, 

“We have never rehearsed, and we never will. We only see each other once every two months when we get together to record, but then that cold feeling of luciferian(sic) darkness appears almost immediately”

Taking pride in their low quality and antiquated equipment, which must have contributed to the lame recording/mixing of III-Burial, they also appear to revel in their drunkenness , or perhaps they want their listeners to (falsely) emulate their self-destructive behavior to hasten their demise as is their total commitment to the downfall of humanity. Sadly, the band failed to survive that long as the fraying tethers of society wouldn’t truly begin to snap until March of 2020. I applaud Blodulv’s lack of refinement, it harkens back to simpler, punker, times but… they might have benefited by spending a little more time together in the room before they hit ‘record’, though I guess we shan’t ever know. On the other hand perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are today, facing immanent collapse, if it were not for this, the final recording by Blodulv, maybe we’d still marching toward “progress” were it not for their parting shot at a crumbling global civilization.

Diocletian – “Amongst The Flames Of A Bvrning God” – [Profound Lore Records]

whngr   3/18/2020   A Library, CD

Horrifying Kiwi Death-metal

All aboard the good ship Pummel-the-Corpse-in-to-Oblivion! Though on-line sources say that this album marks a step away from Diocletian’s supremacy over the New Zealand metal scene, with the loss of several key members, and a return to their earlier less refined sound Amongst The Flames Of A Burning God is still a powerful missive and a shot across the bow of any metal-clad war-ship upon the seven seas. Diocletian has come under fire by some of their fans and though not quite as epic or as rotund as their previous release (2014’s Gesundrian), this recording is a stripped-down, back-to-basics aural assault, as well as a hefty (if rather short) and terrifying album. A little tech, a little death, a bit of power, a lot of violence, a dollop of doom, and a mighty slathering of war and rage! Fucking christ! These guys are full-on! Blast beating, double-kick thundering, thrashing, pick scraping, solo shredding, guttural bellowing, guttural barking, guttural yelling, a single tasteful pinch-harmonic, and an abundance of not so tasteful (but kinda awesome) trem dives. Which might provide a possible bridge between death metal and power violence or perhaps doom metal and war metal if, like myself, you sometimes like to throw a hybrid into your set for smooth transitions between genres.

Burial Hex – “Hierophant, The” – [Handmade Birds]

whngr   3/14/2020   12-inch, A Library

A pensive and surreal excursion over a sultry dreamscape comprised of rolling fields of long-grass that bend against a gentle wind like the breath of a dying god, knolls of indifference dotted with gilded copses of oak trees, festooned with gossamer webs of regret and doubt. Timid worrying brooks like forgotten tears that course wistfully through archaic ravines like the lines that were once traced over the body of a long-lost lover. Towards sprawling meditative oceans whose nacreous waves crash upon rocky coasts, inimical under the hyalescent sky. Somewhere amidst this oneiric terrain lies an ancient catacomb and within its crumbling walls roams the Minotaur, the last of all living beasts, ageless and eternal.
Though I was only superficially cognizant of Burial Hex, in part due to the sprawling and voluminous magnitude of his releases, it still was apparent that The Hierophant was a departure for Clay Ruby. While continuing to blend electronic and conventional instrumentation, avant-garde and noise elements, haunting plaintive vocals, bells, piano, heavily effected guitar and bass guitar, synthesizer, drums, brass, strings both bowed and plucked; there now appear to be lesser drawn upon and even novel arrows in his quiver. Forlorn howling and shrieking, guttural articulation, off-pitch crooning ,crickets, whispers, and wind. Mixed adeptly by the seemingly ubiquitous James Plotkin, this outing from 2014 avoids comfortable categorization.
These five compositions feel deeply scrutinized with a profound awareness of phrasing, there is no hint of improvisation. Every sound has purpose and the billowing space between these sounds give them life and punctuation reminding one of Whitman, Joyce, or Chaucer. Like the parable of Icarus it draws an arc towards an impossibly lofty target, where even when the mark is missed, a pivotal tale is told for all men that follow. A lesson for humanity so that it might grow and a offer a warding from ill-fated paths charted with hubris and folly. And though I may have thought that this album had at times missed its target, perhaps appearing pretentious or grandiose, I found after several listens I began to soften and then to be captivated. After many more it seemed, the issue was not with The Hierophant but with myself. That in fact, it was a riddle to be solved, and that I was a part of the magnificent solution. 

Malone, Kali – “Sacrificial Code, The” – [Ideal Recordings]

whngr   3/13/2020   12-inch, A Library

Resplendent pulls from Scandinavian pipe organs on these beautifully performed minimalist dirges from American composer Kali Malone. Closely mic-ed to allow the listener to hear the subtle mechanics underneath the enervate drones. Breathtaking and meditative minor-key monophonic and sparse polyphonic notes held for gloriously long durations. Banishing the hollow sentiments of folly and mirth, we are ushered towards introspection, longing, and reverence. Hauntingly seductive, there is little inference to Christian philosophies or doctrine on this understated and elegant double LP other than the track titles which speaks to the dichotomy between Malone’s relationship to the church and to the organs they contain. 

She states, “In my mind, it was still so connected to the traditions of the church, It wasn’t yet sonically liberated from that particular setting and culture for me.” 

These pieces resonate with the essence of my being, the immaculate tone and timbre vibrating for what feels like an eternity. The only allusion to rhythm being the 1:08 minute track on side D, Hagakyrka Bells (D1). The prelude to a live performance with Ellen Arkbro in the Haga parish of Gothenburg in April of 2018.

Vatican Shadow – “Byzantine Private CIA” – [Hospital Productions]

whngr   3/12/2020   12-inch, A Library

Warm pulses, decaying throbs, slithering oscillations, languid drone, and ghostly abstractions to lull you into a somnolent repose.
Dark-ambient, light-industrial, with dulcet techno leanings and in curious contrast with the packaging and imagery suggested by the track titles listeners will find themselves swimming in a soothing bath of audial electronics.

This 2019 vinyl re-release of the 2010 cassette by the prolific Dominick Fernow (Prurient, Cold Cave, Tortured Hooker, et al.), architect and founder of Hospital Productions, Byzantine Private CIA is a lush journey through a shadow-world of clandestine energies vying for control of our subconscious minds. Though at times somber and perhaps unsettling for some, it is in its entirety, a lavish slide through the dreams of an undercover operative deep within enemy lines.

JFK – “Nganga” – [Chondritic Sound]

lexi glass   3/11/2020   12-inch, A Library

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.

Sun Worship – “Emanations of Desolation” – [Vendetta]

atavist   3/11/2020   12-inch, A Library

The sound of Germany’s Sun Worship is associated with a particular kind of black metal that features expansive atmospheres and longer compositions, and are sometimes compared to bands like Wolves in the Throne Room and Ash Borer. The guitar rips the air like a chainsaw and the blast beat drums rattle the earth. The production quality is relatively good—the guitar work is clearly discernible and the cymbal crashes don’t overwhelm the mix. One of Sun Worship’s distinctive features is the vocal style. It’s a weak point for some black metal observers on the internet. For this listener, there are shades of a very hoarse Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, Sumac, et al) captured live. Fortunately I don’t find it too distracting, but there are parts where he actually sings, like in Track 4, “Torch Reversed”, and it almost doesn’t work. At the very least, the eccentric vocal style offers a different texture/dimension. Track 1, “Zenith”, is a brief intro track that starts off with a marching drum beat with some spacy sounds thrown in. Soon, the full power of the sound drops in with the second track, “Void Conqueror”. Track 3, “Devoured”, has ringing chord structures and evil riffs amidst the relentless drums. The epic quality of the record really picks up with track 5, “Soul Harvester”, and continues for the remainder of the tracks. Side C is particularly riveting on this count, starting with the cold, minimal, brooding synth intro of “Pilgrimage” all the way through the captivating “Coronation”. This record demands my attention and keeps me guessing how they will bend and shape their ferocity next.

Beetlebox – “EP” – [Self Released]

Medusa of Troy   3/11/2020   A Library, CD

Beetlebox is the Seattle-based pianist/composer, EP is the name given to his EP of 4 songs, all utilizing spare, experimental piano pieces augmented by electronic sounds, some ambient, others glitchy. The first track, “Ellipses,” starts off with a classical flourish that then gets repetitive and unsettling, low hums and staccato beats surrounding the piano. You’ll find more discordant piano on “Drum Machine,” with the synthetic drums anchoring the melody. “40 Hours” is avant garde classical with lots of sharp notes, while “Empty Space” is full of alien, droning buzz. Overall, EP has an arthouse sci-fi sound (my favorite); never very loud but occasionally disquieting if you listen closely. Personally, I find it soothing, though not at all smooth.

Jain, Sunny – Wild Wild East – [Smithsonian Folkways]

aarbor   3/11/2020   CD, International

Sunny Jain is the leader of Red Baraat a Brooklyn-based Indian-style street band and an up and coming player in the NYC music scene. When I read that he had a new release on Smithsonian Folkways I was curious, and after listening to the first few tracks and reading the liner notes, I was completely hooked by the passion of this release: it’s very personal- it tells about his life [don’t miss the family pictures in the liner notes]. Jain grew up in Rochester, NY as the child of East Indian immigrant parents. He writes in the liner notes about his confusion in 1st grade when learning about the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and the “Indians”, and the numerous Cowboys and “Indians” stories. Here he plays with these themes: The “Indian” on Western terrain, Cowboys and Immigrants [2]. Morricone and Bollywood [5,6,9], South Asian rebels [7], Spirituality [10], his childhood [8] and other musics which influenced him (jazz, surf, post-punk) [1,3,12] He wonders which side is he on? [4]The music plays with Indian words and instruments mixed into Western songs. On track 4 a Muslim rapper decries the way he’s treated in post-911 America. This is an album that brings tears to my eyes as the child of immigrant parents in 21st century America. Even though my family comes from a different continent, I’ve felt those feelings too. – AArbor  

Purna Loka Ensemble -“Metaraga”- Origin Records

Medusa of Troy   3/11/2020   CD, International

For those well-versed in Indian classical styles, Western improvisation and geometric progressions in music, the album “Metaraga” is a fascinating melding of math and music, eastern and western music. For those who don’t recognize all of the influences within this album, it is an interesting blend of sounds and tempos, with two violins (mathematician-violinist Purnaprajna Bangere and David Balakrishnan from Turtle Island String Quartet), bass (Jeff Harshbarger) and tabla drum (Amit Kavthekar).

The livelier tracks are the first two, especially “Syzygy”. Track 6, “Alabama,” is a cover of John Coltrane’s “Alabama,” featuring clarinet (Robert Walzel). The last two songs of the album are traditional ragas. These are slower, contemplative pieces that fit in cooler, acoustic portions of sets.

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