KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Brandsdal, Kjetil and Warland, Thore – “Stavanger 11/12.6.2021” – [Drid Machine Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

If you were to tag this as experimental trip hop I don’t think the genre police would pull you over. The turntable has been drinking, not I. Kjetil runs this fine label (and has committed Noxagt acts on KFJC in the past) pairs up with drummer Thore Warland (Staer and Golden Oriole) and they spin out two sides that sound the way the marbled grey vinyl looks. The material is taken from the debut performance in Norway of the duo working together and is part of a new lp  series/art packaging on Drid Machine. Danceable musique concrete floor on side A gives way to a sort of Sun Ra funk eclipse on a cold meteor on the flip. Definitely more spacey on Part 2. Both sides deliver an outsider turntablism tribe vibe, with Warland not simply pummeling away on percussion (and he adds his own odd electronics). Oddly chilled and refreshing, like napping on a mortuary slab. Recommend setting your life support here to 45 rpm, but you can turn the turntables on Kjetil and pitch it down or up as the sonic spirits move you.

-Thurston Hunger

Cthonica “Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction” [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]

atavist   5/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

So cold…vocals like an icy wind that pierces all coverings. Numbed and delirious, the listener stumbles to a barren earth of jagged stones as the freeze takes over. Lo-fi drums buried in the mix like an awareness of physical harm being done, but numbed senses can’t fully feel it. The first track is an epic length of disparate parts, weirdly put together. Nihilistic death metal with black inflections gives way to a menacing atmospheric interlude gives way to home-recorded-sounding doom passages. Generally there are a lot of great tones and textures within a palette of death and decay throughout the record. Within this desolate medium, Cthonica unearth their own unique derangements. Debut double LP from 2019 by this Venezuelan project.

Tam, Phuong – “Magical Nights: Saigon Surf Twist and Soul -’64-’66” – [Sublime Frequencies]

puplaif   5/25/2022   CD, International

Phuong Tâm was one of the first Vietnamese singers to record rock and roll music. 

As a young girl, she was intrigued by the rock and roll sounds emanating from a nearby neighbor’s radio and she knew from a young age that she wanted to be a singer. 

In her teenage years, she began performing at Saigon nightclubs, where she met and connected with other Vietnamese musicians. Together they wrote, recorded, and performed original Vietnamese rock and roll songs incorporating surf, twist, soul, and other influences. Phuong’s powerful voice brings both grit and sweetness to these songs about love and loss. 

In 1975, Phuong and her family fled Vietnam, ultimately setting up roots right here in San Jose. Thanks to some serious digging and collaboration spearheaded by Phuong’s daughter Hanna, we’re able to enjoy Phuong’s musical legacy today. Magical Nights revives 25 of Phuong Tâm’s songs, recorded in Vietnam from 1964 to 1966, and re-gifts her music to the world after nearly being lost to the forces of cultural erasure. 

Miller, Adam – “Gateway” – [Inner Magic]

Thurston Hunger   5/24/2022   A Library, CD

Clean gentle guitar instros that feel from a different planet than Miller’s work with The Chromatics. Volume pedal fades, some very chill reverb, and occasionally a ringing flanging. Lot’s of 1-5-9 sprawls and calm apreggios. You can taste the Fender endorsement in the sound before you read it in the liner notes.
Speaking of those liners, they also mention “Gateway was inspired by true events” which makes me think
Miller went through one of the most pure and pleasant alien abductions ever. And did his captors have a mellotron on board, ask “The Painted Boy.” Music to advance masked to? Quickly though, most tracks are short… a couple felt a little like “gateways” back to Kramer-era Low, sans the pleasure/pain of vox.
-Thurston Hunger

Bunuel – “Killers Like Us” – [Profound Lore]

Terra Incognita   5/21/2022   A Library, CD

This one’s a bruiser. You can see it coming at you in slow motion, but you hesitate anyway, stunned—and then you receive the energy of the impact. You feel the thudding in your head and hear an intermittent buzzing. The swelling begins, pounding and growing, turning an angry red. The red eventually cools to blue and yellowish green. A dull ache remains. You’re left feeling disconcerted, wondering, “What happens that a good man turns bad?”

“Killers Like Us” is Bunuel’s third and most recent album (2022). This is bass-heavy noise rock. Of the 10 tracks, about half have a slow tempo and are heavy and minimal at times (Tracks 1, 5, 7, 9, 10); in these songs, the instrumentation often frames the lyrics. The other tracks are more upbeat, have a fast tempo, or turn into driving rock rampages (Tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 8).

The bass—a menacing, throbbing, dirty beast—is so heavy that it creates a strong gravitational force that the other elements might frantically struggle to escape but are always drawn back to. Bass notes are drawn out and fuzzy but can unexpectedly transform into melodic riffs. The guitar is manifested as fluttery buzzing and distorted scratchy noodling but also develops into melodic, driving riffs on the fast tracks and always with feedback and effects. There aren’t any standard guitar solos—well, maybe one. The drums are versatile: from slow, minimal beats to driving punk rock beats and even some funky beats. They’re heavy on the kick and the snare at times; the fills aren’t over-the-top but creative and nicely placed. Sometimes percussive sounds like tinkling and crumpling are added or simply replace the drums. The lyrics are mostly spoken-yelled, sometimes obstinately dragged out, sometimes half sung in an emotionally drunk tone, sometimes steeped in reverb and effects. The vocals range from despondent speaking to fantastic, guitar-matched screeching and many variations of vocal sound in between. The additional female vocals (Track 4) are melodic and haunting but forceful—an interesting opposition to the raw sound. The lyrics are composed of poetic vignettes, stark imagery, and existential meanderings (see liner notes; FCCs on Tracks 2, 6, 7). Although not mentioned in the liner notes, sounds of synth and possibly field recordings are interjected.

Bunuel, named after the Spanish Surrealist film writer and director of the 20th century, comprises the Italian musician and composer Xabier Iriondo on guitars (also in Afterhours et al.), the Italian jazz bassist and composer Andrea Lombardini (also in the Framers et al.), the Italian percussionist and composer Franz Valente (also in Il Teatro Degli Orrori et al.), and the Bay Area’s Eugene S. Robinson on vocals (also in Oxbow, Whipping Boy, et al.). Track 4 includes additional vocals by the Polish-Bay Area artist Kasia Meow, aka Kasia Robinson (also in Maneki Nekro). A trans-Atlantic collaboration, this album was recorded in San Francisco and Italy, mixed and mastered in Italy, and released by Profound Lore Records out of Canada.

Dogsflesh – “Never Give In” – [Queer Pills Records]

whngr   5/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

Anarcho D-beat Punk

A thumb in the eye socket of Magaret Thatcher, two fingers up the arse of the royals, and a long middle one to the system, these modern times, and yer mum.
Good ol’ rebellion in the vein of Antisect or Icons of Filth with a bit of echo on the vox and a tiny gob of wanking guitar. 

Incepted in 1982 by Rob Moore and sometimes known as UK82, Dogsflesh would tour with GBH, Broken Bones, and The Exploited before hanging it up in 1985… and reforming twenty years later with the bulk of the original line-up. They have gone on to release several more albums since but this one is composed of their early works (82-84).

Oi! This slab is radio friendly, ya cunt! (no FCC’s)

Staubitz and Waterhouse – “Common Metals” – [music is the Worst]

whngr   5/19/2022   A Library, CD

Gentle whirs, clicks, and bumps.

Do you hear what I hear? I hear a pocket call from someone working on the cnc at the machine shop. Quiet, minimal, and reflective, these recordings allow one to write their own story though online references have stated that these mostly unprocessed recordings were made during the pandemic and are meant to convey the monotonous sounds of isolation.

Mary Staubitz (aka Donna Parker on her solo work and has collaborated with Jessica Rylan in Secret Diary and Daniel Paul Boucher in Golden Shores among others. Collaborating with her partner, Russ Waterhouse (ex Blues Control) from their home in Rhode Island.

There Were Wires – “Somnambulists” – [Tor Johnson Records / Iodine Records]

whngr   5/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

A sprawling and intense epic that weaves through the impassioned rage and confusion of youth, around quiet passages that required patience from an audience that was expecting only vehemence, gravid swells, terse punctuation, and arriving finally at an oblique and unexpected shore, a pensive cover of an independent juggernaut. Sonic Youth’s, Tunic (Song For Karen) will surely attract the attention of many listeners as an oddity or a trifle but considerable effort has been put in to this album (both in 2003 and in 2021) that proves this was no novelty. That this polished re-release, the first on vinyl, is a commendable and worthwhile effort to mitigate the failings of a label in financial ruin and one where considerable pains have been taken to inject new life into a recording that feels modern and relevant after 20 years relegated to a shelf. 

There are many paragraphs written and interviews available that explore the band, this release, Iodine’s role in its lack of promotion, and the thoughts and feelings surrounding them for those interested in the history of this primarily unsung project, but let it be said here, in this miserable volunteer’s review, that I might not have given this album a chance in 2003 if I had heard it. I might have said something like, “This new brand of hardcore is too high-minded and erudite for me, I appreciate passion and vision over virtuosity… etcetera”. But I was interested after two songs and hooked by the end of the album… after a single listen. No small feat, being as jaded as I am.

Many of the current DJs may pan side A, favoring the meandering and (slightly) more gentle B side but this is a fully realized album, slightly disparate from the projects of their ilk, with an ebb and flow, passages, and chapters that all work together to create a cohesive tale. A sonic novella and a beautiful, if somewhat dark, snapshot of a bygone era by four young men in their prime and the label that would not let their past transgressions lie.

Talbot Brothers of Bermuda, The – “Talbot Brothers of Bermuda, The” – [Maaula Records]

aarbor   5/18/2022   12-inch, International

The Talbot Brothers of Bermuda were a musical group based in Bermuda that were among the most popular calypso performers of the 1950s. The band was composed of brothers Archie (lead singer, acoustic guitar, harmonica), Austin (acoustic guitar, harmonica), Bryan, a.k.a. “Dick” (tipple, a large, 10-stringed ukulele), Ross, a.k.a. “Blackie” (electric guitar) and Roy Talbot (bass), and their cousin Cromwell “Mandy” Mandres (accordion). Their sound is a variation of Trinidadian calypso in a smooth melodic style influenced by popular music. They performed and recorded cover versions of calypso classics in addition to their own originals, and were a popular attraction in local hotels. This record was originally released in 1958. AArbor

Spence, Joseph – “Encore: Unheard Recordings of Bahamian Guitar and Singing” – [Smithsonian Folkways]

aarbor   5/18/2022   12-inch, International

Joseph Spence, who died in 1984, was a Bahamian guitarist and singer. He is well known for his vocalizations and humming while playing the guitar. A number of musicians, including Taj Mahal, the Grateful Dead, Ry Cooder, and Olu Dara,were influenced by and have recorded variations of his arrangements of gospel and Bahamian songs. Spence played calypso, blues, folk music and sacred songs. He played a steel-string acoustic guitar. Nearly all of his recorded songs have a guitar accompaniment in a drop D tuning. You’ll hear his magnificent voice (singing and kind of scat singing) moving bass lines, interior voices and a driving beat that he emphasized with foot tapping. He adds blues coloration and calypso rhythms to achieve a unique and easily identifiable sound. This album from 2021 is the latest recording to be released of his work, making a total of 4 released after his death. His sister Edith Pinder and her family also sing on some of the songs here. The recordings are from 1965 (the peak of his career) his only New York concert, at his cottage in Nassau, Bahamas, and at Peter Siegel’s (producer/recording engineer) apartment in Manhattan. AArbor

Karloff, Boris – “Reading Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories and Other Tales” – [Caedmon]

aarbor   5/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

Boris Karloff (whose real name was William Henry Pratt b. 1887), best known for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in the various early Frankenstein movies. Here he is the kindly British story reader of Rudyard Kipling’s well-known JUST SO STORIES. The Kipling stories here are How the Whale Got His Throat, How the Camel Got His Hump and How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin. The B side is an abridged version of Mowgli’s Brothers from THE JUNGLE BOOK. AArbor

Sumrra – “7 Visions” – [Clermont Music]

Cousin Mary   5/15/2022   12-inch, Jazz

This fine piano trio from Santiago de Campostela in Spain looks at stellar time from different viewpoints in this album. Very accessible but unusual. The piano lead sometimes seems more in line with classical etudes than jazz riffs. I was curious about the language on the cover, it appears to be Galician rather than Spanish or Portuguese. Manuel Gutierrez on piano, Xacobe Martinez Antelo on double bass, Lar Legido on drums.

Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra – “Night of The Purple Moon, The” – [Saturn Research]

Cousin Mary   5/15/2022   12-inch, Jazz

1970 recording where the Arkestra is down to no more than 4 members, with some solo keyboard pieces. The first track on each side is a bit more accessible than most Sun Ra, while the remaining tracks soon launch into outer space. Sun Ra plays the Moog synth and also the Rocksichord electric harpsichord. Just when I thought the KFJC library did not need another Sun Ra album, this comes along to prove me wrong. With John Gilmore, Danny Davis and Stafford James.

Stowell, John / Glenn, Dave and the Hawcaptak Quartet – “Violin Memory” – [Origin Records]

aarbor   5/11/2022   CD, Jazz

John Stowell is a guitar player and Dave Glenn a trombone player. They have played together in various settings including as a duo – an interesting pairing. This recording has 21 tracks, most of which are pairs: An Intro played by the Hawcaptak Quartet and the paired track played by Stowell and Glenn. John Stowell wrote most of the pieces and Dave Glenn arranged most of the string quartet versions. I hear the string quartet Intros as the Yin (melodious and feminine) to the Stowell/Glenn duo’s Yang (trombone grounded and masculine). AArbor

Fila Brazillia – “Black Market Gardening” – [Pork Recordings]

aarbor   5/11/2022   A Library, CD

Fila Brazillia is the duo of Dave “Man” Mc Sherry and Steve Cobby based in Kingston Upon Hull, Yorkshire, UK who started recording together in 1990. This album is from 1996 and is among their earliest recordings on the Pork label (also based in Hull). They later started their own label called Twentythree Records. This is classic downtempo from the mid 1990’s. “Snake Ranger”[2] is wavering synths and a chorus of flutes, “Little Dipper”[3] starts off with an old-time piano sample before shifting into something more funky. “Wigs, Bifocals and Nurishment”[6] heads into disco territory. “Xique-Xique”[7] is smooth and sweet. AArbor

Barrio Manouche – “Aires de Cambio” – [doubleOone]

aarbor   5/11/2022   CD, International

Barrio Manouche is a very international acoustic ensemble from San Francisco. They play music inspired by the places they come from and have lived: Spain, France, Brazil, French Canada and the U.S. Their music is also inspired by those who have come before and their nomadic spirits. They use music to describe the world as they see it. Of note here is “musical guest” Mallar Bhattacharya (sarod) and Hilan Chaudhuri (tabla) who join them on the title track [5]. This is their first recording from 2018. Barrio Manouche has been recognized for its surprise concerts, innovative style, complex technique, and its passion for musical improvisation. Their intercultural musical fusions start with Latin/French Jazz and then add in Brazilian beats, a bit of Flamenco and even Indian music. AArbor

Toned – “Toned” – [Self Released]

Max Level   5/9/2022   CD, Jazz

An electroacoustic dream with nightmare attached. Make sure you are firmly strapped in for this one. East bay trio Toned slices and dices everything within reach, mixing and matching the sounds of outside jazz, noise, spoken word, loud ambient tone layers, crazy crashing percussion, electronic blurts, etc etc etc—-basically more things than I can name—into a hyperactive, blinding, deafening, audio assault that defies description. Sometimes sounds like unrelated tracks of noisy playing piled on top of each other, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad way to do things. Track 10 bursts out of the speakers like some unholy rampaging monster come to life.

Bischoff, John – “Bitplicity” – [Artifact Recordings]

Max Level   5/9/2022   A Library, CD

Electronic composer Bischoff has a sound and approach all his own: It’s all about events—-‘sound’ events disrupting the silence, and ‘silence’ events disrupting the sounds. Random and non-random events occurring. There is often quite a bit of negative space in his compositions, as the performer and his gear decide in real time what moves to make next. Much interaction between man and machine takes place during live performance. Whenever I listen to Bischoff’s work, which I have spent a great deal of time doing over the past 20 years, the feeling I get is controlled unpredictability. This excellent CD contains performances recorded at Mills College in 2020-21, live with no overdubs.

Van-anh Vanessa Vo – “Three-Mountain Pass” – [Innova Recordings]

Cousin Mary   5/9/2022   A Library, CD

Vo is a Vietnamese-American from the Bay Area who is a composer and multi-instrumentalist, specializing in instruments related to traditional Vietnamese music. This album is a treat, giving us a chance to hear such things as the đàn tranh (16-string zither) and the bamboo xylophone T’rung. Selections include Vo’s compositions, a familiar piece by Erik Satie played in an unfamiliar way, and track 4 where she plays with the ever inventive Kronos Quartet. Really lovely and listenable, highly recommended.

Copyright © 2022 KFJC 89.7 FM
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
Public Inspection File