KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Music From Saharan WhatsApp [coll] – [Sahel Sounds]

karma   9/23/2022   12-inch, International

I’ve been a fan of the record label Sahel Sounds for a while now. They brought to the global stage excellent artists such as Mdou Moctar. They have outdone themselves with this latest compilation. In 2020, the label invited artists from the Sahel (southern Sahara) to message them songs via WhatsApp. They released 11 EPs of Saharan WhatsApp that year. This album includes selections from each EP.

The tracks were almost always recorded at the artists’ homes, on budget and “obsolete” phones that cost less than dinner at Olive Garden. The tracks are raw, unbalanced (some have less “sound mixing” and more “whatever the phone’s mic could pick up”) and full of background noise (in one track there’s definitely a conversation in the next room) – but this is an intimate link to a wild, innovative music region full of tradition and experimentation.

My favorite track is by Veyrouz Mint Seymali, who is trained in Mauritanian classical music. Honorable mentions go to the love song by Amaria Hamadalher (of Les Filles de Illighadad), griot traveling bard music by Oumou Diabate and Kara Show Koumba Frifri, social commentary by Bounaly, and traditionally nomadic Wodaabe rock by Andal Sukabe.

Lattimore, Mary & Growing – “Gainer” – [Silver Current]

cinder   9/23/2022   12-inch, A Library

Mary’s a harpist who resides in Los Angeles, while Growing is an ambient drone band that’s been around for years, originally from Olympia, now in Brooklyn. Unsure how this collaboration came about, but it’s fantastic. Floating in the heavenly golden trimmed clouds, with lush waves of undertones and glorious droned harmonies. Side A wafts in such a comforting way, it sounds like the track itself is breathing. Goosebumps and butterflies. Side B showcases Mary’s harp playing beautifully.

Sigh – “Scorn Defeat” – [Peaceville Records]

whngr   9/21/2022   12-inch, A Library

Early Black / Avant-garde / Doom Metal / Thrash with Dungeon Synth, Classical Piano, Harpsichord (?), flute (?), and other enigmatic behavior adjacent to Death Metal from this Japanese three-piece.

This album predates the well beaten tropes of Black Metal and would fail to slide easily into any categorization in any decade. Originally put out on cd by Deathlike Silence (this release wears a dedication to Euronymous on its back cover), it has been pressed and repressed in dozens of iterations over the last nigh on thirty years while remaining relatively cvlt. The influences are apparent, Venom, Celtic Frost, Mozart, Mayhem or Gore perhaps, but this album veers aggressively into and through so many different genres it is likely to be ignored or dismissed by both the purist and the poseur. Many varied compositions with even more varied instrumentation, it isn’t blindingly fast or technical (except the dizzying piano passages), nor is it sludge, it isn’t “lo-fi”, it isn’t satanic (it does, however, allude to the wrathful side of the Buddhist pantheon), and it isn’t even in Japanese (all tracks are in a relatively well pronounced [but not “clean”] English [no FCC’s]). Though it might be “cold” and “grim” at times, it can be flowery, delicate, and atmospheric as well. It also benefits from a slightly quaint quality, so young and fresh of corpse-paint laden face were they, and though Sigh would go on to much more flamboyant and progressive albums, this one (their first full-length), is stretching to find its voice, fingers curling around an identity, in an effort to establish itself with wildly different tones and moods while somehow remaining at its foundation, Black Metal.

Sigh is helmed by Mirai Kawashima (bass, keyboards, vocals) which began as Ultra Death in 1989. “Scorn Defeat” was recorded with two of his cohorts, Shinichi Ichikawa (guitar) and Satoshi Fujinami (drums, percussion) and would make up the core of the band, though Fujinami would abandon the drum throne in 2001 and take over bass duties. Also of note is the early photograph (inner sleeve) of “Shinichi” in full Black Metal regalia by some unknown lake, in broad daylight, nestled in some little park somewhere near or within the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, with a flaming glove held aloft while wielding a katana, harkening back to a fledgling, far more underground, and perhaps more innocent BXM scene. 

Tokyo – 1993

Cold Storage – “Fractures” – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   9/21/2022   A Library, CD

Slow Miserable Avalanche

If Br’er Fox chased  Br’er Rabbit into the briar patch and couldn’t get out for twenty-three minutes and twenty-nine seconds and affixed to the thorns of the briar patch were contact mics, his blood was white-noise generators, and if poor Br’er Fox were strapped to a broken modem (on battery power) from 1997 you might be approximating “Fractures” by Cold Storage. Not the harshest noise but not at all comfortable either. Put it on at the end of your set to avoid spreading any residual strains of plague that might have collected in your reeking facemask and delight in the discomfort of the next volunteer and/or listeners that stumble upon the charred remains of your normally delightful and eclectic sets.

I could find absolutely nothing on this project other than it may have been recorded in Texas, just the way I like my abstract and unsettling artists…. invisible and mysterious.

West Texas – 2022

Doctor Who – Series 12 – [Silva Screen Records Ltd.]

Sir Cumference   9/21/2022   CD, Soundtrack

More of Segun Akinola’s music for Doctor Who. Unlike the series 11 release, this set is presented in story order, so it feels a little more of a mix. There’s still a lot of the kind of atmospheric tracks that Segun brought us in the previous series, plus he gets to branch out a little bit more. Some of the highlights (for me) was the Bond-esque music – especially in “Doctor, The Doctor” – a little playfulness in “The American Sense of Humour” and the sad Celtic fiddle of “Brendan” and “The Fall”. Of course, being a Doctor Who music CD, you can never go wrong with the title music – the best of the current era, but do enjoy some of the other offerings. -pi2r

Tuba Skinny – “Some Kind-A-Shake” – [Self Release]

aarbor   9/21/2022   12-inch, Jazz

Tuba Skinny is a jazz band from New Orleans. For over 10 years the band has evolved from a loose collection of street musicians into an ensemble of excellent players dedicated to bringing the traditional New Orleans sound to audiences around the world. Their range of musical influences is from spirituals to Depression-era blues, from ragtime to traditional jazz. Their sound evokes the musical heritage of New Orleans. Their loyal following likes their distinctive sound, their commitment to reviving long-lost songs, and their live performances. This release is from 2019 and is primarily ragtime and traditional jazz. Instruments: sousaphone, trombone, clarinet, cornet, alto sax, banjo, guitar, percussion. Some of their other recordings include a washboard (frottoir). AArbor

Mori, Ikue – “Tracing the Magic” – [Tzadik]

aarbor   9/21/2022   A Library, CD

Ikue Mori was born and raised in Japan. She says she had little interest in music before hearing punk rock. In 1977, she went to New York, initially for a visit, but she became involved in the music scene, and stayed. Her first musical experience was as the drummer for the no wave band DNA. Though she had little prior musical experience (and had never played drums), Mori quickly developed a distinctive style: One critic describes her as “a tireless master of shifting asymmetrical rhythm”. This is her latest release on the Tzadik label. There are 7 tracks, each paying tribute to a woman who has inspired her. Mori’s notes give you a sense of each woman. Each track is quite different with somewhat different instrumentation although all include digital electronics. Of note are: track 2 which includes traditional Japanese instruments and sounds as well as prepared piano, and track 7 which includes bagpipes. AArbor

Big’n – “DTS25” – [Computer Students]

Max Level   9/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

This Illinois hardcore-math-punk band was around throughout most of the 1990’s, unbeknownst to me. Here is the 25th anniversary deluxe 2-LP reissue of their ‘Discipline Through Sound’ album and it’s surprisingly great. Record 1 is the original LP, recorded by Steve Albini so you know it’s going to be satisfyingly loud and sharp. Record 2 contains demos of the songs and some outtakes, and tracks from a split EP they did with Oxes. Solid playing throughout. One of my first impressions was that Big’n sounded a bit like US Maple would sound if you owed them money and they came to your house and slapped you around. Then I found out the guitarist is USM vocalist Al Johnson’s brother. So there’s that. Speaking of vocalists, the singer in this band is the epitome of full-tilt throat-wrecking mayhem. These are love songs about doubt and torment and misdirected passion. Add to that some angry yet precise guitar, bass, and drums and… man… this thing rocks hard. Super hard. Turn it up!

Mortuous “Upon Desolation” [Carbonized]

atavist   9/19/2022   A Library, CD

The latest full-length release from this legendary Bay Area death metal collaboration, and their first full-length in four years. Relentless pursuit of concussive obliteration. Sudden tempo changes, super-tight and cacophonous. It’s hard to predict where they’ll go from one passage to the next within one song. “Nothing” has a great breakdown in the middle of the track with a violin part deftly mixed into a brief period of relative respite and calm. They want to explore all the sounds of death, like the unhinged high-register guitar solos in “Metamorphosis”. Clear the path for “Days of Grey”, a more straight-ahead driving maelstrom that devolves into a dirge befitting the title. It has a cohesion some of the other tracks don’t have, though the discohesion of those tracks is part of their allure. Blastbeats welcome us to “Defiled by Fire”, while the violin returns to take us out. Soaring guitars amidst the churning murk of “Burning Still…”.  Most tracks clock in around 4 to 5 minutes and all are worthy, each skillfully presenting a variety of delirious and devastating sounds with dizzying technical precision and, most importantly, unchecked fury.

Ulthar – “Providence” – [20 Buck Spin]

whngr   9/14/2022   12-inch, A Library

Lovecraftian themed technical Death Metal three-piece execute their demented crawl through a deranged gauntlet of sonic malevolence with considerably complex arrangements and deranged psychedelic and doom elements. Frenzied and precise, many of the medium length compositions plough through more notes than centuries Cthulhu has slept. Do colors exist at hyper speed or do they melt like the mind of a lunatic in the presence of the Old Ones? Does the syrup fail to drip as winter descends on New England?

Members of Pandiscordian Necrogenesis, Vale, and Vastum among others.

I was initially drawn to this release by the cover art by one Ian Miller who captured my youthful but critically scarred heart when I fell under the spell of the table-top strategy war games of Games Workshop in the late 80’s and inspired and corrupted me further into the decrepit realm of the Chaos Legions. He was an incredible influence on my developing brain and an excellent match for this album, which in my opinion, would be more than suitable aural backdrop for a hardcore miniature painting session. 

 Oakland, CA / Alexandria, VA – 2020

Nightfell “A Sanity Deranged” [Parasitic]

atavist   9/14/2022   A Library, Cassette

Massive layers of drums, bass, guitar, and vocals rendered by two Portland-based doomslingers in teeth-buzzing clarity by the evil wizard Greg Wilkinson. This is death metal shot through with sorrow and regret, to the extent that their slower passages, like the beginning of the track “To The Flame” moves into funeral doom territory, complete with a clean, lamenting choral element in the background. “Holiness Digested” is a short segue track before the epic title track is unleashed. Hear the darkness that has collapsed upon the self to torture that which would seek the light, only to find a prison of its own making, circling paths of infinity…

Melt Yourself Down – “100% Yes” – [Decca]

puplaif   9/14/2022   A Library, CD

Melt Yourself Down (MYD) is a London-based band led by saxophonist Pete Wareham and vocalist Kush Gaya. 100% Yes is their third full-length album. Driven by a desire to create new sonic pathways, the band’s jazz foundation is infused with Afrobeat, pop, and punk influences. The musicians here feed off one another, fueled by a heavy dose of adrenaline that makes for a very energetic and attention grabbing album. Beefy drums, rhythmic sax, groovy bass, and in your face vocals spew social and political commentary, and an invitation to move your body and come along for the ride. 

Nortfalke – “Seefonkjuenderee” – [Dunkelheit Produktionen]

whngr   9/7/2022   A Library, CD

Frisian Dungeon Synth

Cold air curls off the northern coast of Holland and seeps into the weeping stone foundations of citadel Nortfalke. Slightly eerie ambient swells amid rising plumes of sound. Often having a gentle and lilting foreground with booming thumps below that add an element of percussion to the longform synthesizer forays through drafty catacombs occasionally illuminated by the glow of the moon. Minimal and lush these three tracks explore slightly different moods that are not necessarily dark, the compositions and mood feel more contemplative than emotional. More cerebral than visceral, a philosophical expression of a mage as he plots his next maneuvers toward mastery of the occult.

Nortfalke (Northern Falcon) moniker of Swerc (aka Maarten), co-owner of Aratron Productions, mastermind and contributor to numerous Black Metal projects including Afvallige, Asregen, Gheestenland, Standavast, et al.

Northern Netherlands – 2021

Surreal & The Sound Providers – “True Indeed” – [Abb Records]

cinder   9/7/2022   12-inch, Hip Hop

Jazzy hip hop raps from some crate diggin’ dudes. The Soul Providers are a duo (Jason Skills & Soulo) that hailed from San Diego, citing Gang Starr and the Native Tongue Posse as influences, although I get major De La Soul vibes as well. They collaborated with emcee Surreal for this release, back in 2006. Great storytelling lyrics that seem uplifting and happy, almost wholesome but not like, dorky. He’s not getting gansta….in one song he’s talking about his life and it seems he found God, but it’s not an overwhelming theme throughout. The beats are jazzzzy and sick! Fun rekkid! 

Watkins / Peacock – “Acid Escape Vol. 3” – [Freaks]

cinder   9/7/2022   12-inch, A Library

Jolly-ful playful rhythms layered over a locked beat. Synth kittens on the keys and head knodding knob twiddling squirrels. Psychedelic electronica trips. Flickering MIDI sequencers. An improv duo, usually recorded all live in studio, no dubs. Zachary James Watkins (Black Spirituals) & Ross Peacock, who met in Oakland and started recording together. Excellent!

Slicing Grandpa – “Casual Pain” – [String Theory Records]

karma   9/7/2022   A Library, CD

They say practice makes perfect. Not so if you are Slicing Grandpa, a 2-person noise/experimental group that apparently practice once a year. They are from Washington State by way of New York, but many of their previous albums seem like they are from (Johnny) Knoxville. As the group approaches their third decade, their music keeps the lo-fi grit of their earlier work while casting off the gross-out titles.

The title track is my favorite, a detuned, Sonic Youthy anthem for anyone struggling with the malaise of daily life. The tracks are examples of the nascent gluewave genre, which I interpret as industrial/noise rock’s take on vaporwave.

Each track is paired with a “B-side” variation, always shorter than the “A-side” more polished version.

Tabaamrant, Rayssa Fatima – “Tyaghlaghalt Ou L’Echo De L’Atlas” – [Harmonia Mundi France]

aarbor   9/7/2022   CD, International

This is Rwais music. It’s similar to the itinerant troubadors of the European Middle Ages, but more like the West African Griot tradition. Rwais are Berbers from South Morocco. Like the Griots they are the guardians of oral tradition, poems, songs, stories. Their songs tell of the evolution of Moroccan society. Rwais performances are about show and entertainment – they are considered professional musicians. Fatima Tabaamrant grew up as an orphan, never attended school, lived in a rural environment. This most likely informs her poetry/songs. She is the first woman to lead her own troupe and sing her own poems. Her subject matter is cultural, social or moral order. The 7 tracks here follow a Rwai performance with an opening instrumental, Salutations, 4 tracks of songs and a farewell instrumental. AArbor

Nouri & Le Groupe Traditionnel Gnaoua – “Dalali” – [Culture Press]

aarbor   9/7/2022   CD, International

An excellent album from Nouri and the Gnawa (traditional) group. They are from North Africa. The Gnawa are an ethnic group who were brought to Morocco as slaves, their ancestry is traced to sub-Saharan West Africa. Gnawa music mixes classical Islamic Sufism with pre-Islamic African traditions, whether local or sub-Saharan. Gnawa musicians also practice healing rituals, with apparent ties to pre-Islamic African animism rites. In Moroccan popular culture, Gnawas, through their ceremonies, are considered to be experts in the magical treatment of scorpion stings and psychic disorders. They heal diseases by the use of colors, condensed cultural imagery, perfumes and fright. The 7 tracks here which were released in 2000 are traditional but sit well in modern ears. Don’t Miss! AArbor

Sangare, Oumou – “Timbuktu” – [World Circuit]

aarbor   9/7/2022   12-inch, International

Oumou Sangare is from Mali and well known for her feminist views. This is her latest release (2022). She visited the U.S. in 2020 and got caught in the COVID lockdown. She decided to stay in Balitmore, bought a house and started writing and recording songs for this album. From the U.S. Sagare sings words of praise and caution to the folks back home in Mali, especially its women. Sangare has been rising above setbacks for most of her life. To help her single mother – abandoned by her father – to make ends meet, she sang in the street to raise cash at the age of 5. Sangare went on to win a pre-Kindergarten singing competition and embarked on a career that saw her touring the world. Now she is an iconic performer and successful businesswoman who owns hotels, businesses and a car company in Mali. Accompanied by a chorus of vocals and traditional African instrumentation. Sangare creates a sound that sounds ancient but lives comfortably today. AArbor

Knurl – “Final Decisive Moment. The” – [Oxen]

Thurston Hunger   9/6/2022   A Library, CD

Noise concrete. Mic technique on display in the junkyard garden of cement and steel. Gear grinding of crashed cars, listened to this in part while reading “The Atrocity Exhibition” seemed like a good fit. I preferred “Prime” “Adjustment” and especially “Inferior Elements” – all tracks where some silences serve as shock absorbers or audio igniters. “Inferior Elements” had parts that felt like a better take on Godzilla groans. If you want a more persistent electric feel to the non-organic crash, “Abstraction” might give you that buzz. Knurl is Alan Bloor hailing from Toronto and whaling on disembodied equipment since 1994. Not sure if here he used a bow (seems likely) or effects (maybe not?) here are some videos of earlier performances by him
https://www.youtube.com/user/pantarheirecordings
This was a live 2022 recording, file it under Metal, Actual Metal.
-Thurston Hunger

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