KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Kiki Gyan- Feeling So Good

cadilliac margarita   6/26/2019   CD, International

Originally recorded in 1979 (a rare and valuable LP), reissued in 2018. Kiki was born in Takoradi, Ghana in 1957. He began playing music at 5, and was quickly discovered to be a keyboard prodigy, turning pro at 12. By 15, he was touring as the Keyboardist for Osibisa, after joining them in London. After playing with them for 7 years, and gaining notoriety for his skills, he went solo with this record, blending afro beat with disco, reggae, and synth heavy electronics. This record is so good, so bright an upbeat; Long grooves that just cook. Even Black Afro Punk, which is a mellowish reggae dub, got me tapping toes. The keyboards are of course the main star, since he was a genius with that instrument. After this album, and a brief marriage to the daughter of Fela Kuti, Gyan went pretty much MIA due to a tragic and debilitating drug addiction.  He died from AIDS related complications in 2004.

The Best of Baby Washington

cadilliac margarita   6/26/2019   CD, Soul

Born in South Carolina in 1940, and Raised in Harlem, Jeanette “Baby” Washington joined vocal group The Hearts at 16 years old in 1956. The following year, she began recording solo tracks. Her voice is so rich and emotive,  and these tracks are dripping with love, heartbreak and melancholy. The production is classic northern soul and very well done, with lots of strings, percussion, and horns. Dusty Springfield (who stated several times that Washington was her favorite singer) was clearly influenced, and that may explain why she isn’t better known. But hot damn!! Now’s your chance! Like a lot of 60s soul performers, disco took its toll, and she hasn’t recorded much since the late 70s.  She’s now 78 years old and still actively performing mostly in Europe.

Ivory Joe Hunter

cadilliac margarita   6/26/2019   CD, Jazz

Ivory Joe Hunter – 7th Street Boogie

A compilation of tunes recorded between 1945-1960 at various studio sessions all over the US, Ivory Joe Hunter (his given name!) wrote over 2000 songs during his career (cut short by cancer at the age of 60 in 1974). Born into a spiritual and musical family, Hunter began his career young, recording music for the library of congress while still a teenager. He was less interested in the spirituals of his upbringing, and looked towards music as pure entertainment. This is Jazz, Blues, R&B, Boogie Woogie, and Rock’n’ Roll.  Yet another artist who was a major influence on legendary artists ( Nina Simone), but whose work has largely flown under the radar. Piano, sax, percussion, and vocals make for a really enjoyable listen. It’s not overly energetic, and the recordings are clear and fantastic.

Fuller, Jesse – “San Francisco Bay Blues” – [Prestige Records Inc.]

mickeyslim   6/23/2019   12-inch, Blues

Jesse Fuller is the one-man band. Fuller plays the twelve-string guitar, has a harmonica, kazoo, and microphone in his mouth rig, and plays a series of foot pedals attached to a washboard and the fotdella (a foot-operated bass guitar), an instrument of his own invention. The washboard needed to be lubricated before being played, which, for this recording, was “provided by oil from the finest Norwegian smoked salmon, which everyone at the session (except Jesse who didn’t care for it) was consuming with relish.”

Jumpy, folk blues from this Georgia-turned-California native. Fuller was an unsung, old-school, busking style, folk blues hero. Famous for his original “San Francisco Bay Blues,” Fuller’s music influenced folk and rock legends across the globe. This release from Prestige Records is a solid classic

Misery Ritual – “Searing Blood” – [Obsolete Units]

Lord Gravestench   6/20/2019   A Library, Cassette

Misery Ritual is the work of an angry and disappointed young man from Los Angeles county — no, not that one. His work under this name first started appearing around 2015 as far as I know, and although his career is gathering momentum, he’s still a fairly obscure artist within SoCal’s oversaturated harsh noise pandemonium. The first Misery Ritual release added by KFJC, 2015’s superb ‘A Victory Over Suffering’ cassette on the Dungeon Dweller label, isn’t even on the almighty Discogs yet.

It will be, though, because (as various others have already noticed) this is a definite artist to watch if you are a CA extreme noise fanatic; for proof look no further than this very satisfying 2018 tape on Rust Worship’s Obsolete Units label. Some people call Misery Ritual a power electronics project but I wouldn’t really describe it that way; it’s more like American-style harsh noise with slight industrial elements and some limited use of raw human vocalisations (mostly on the third piece, a live recording from L.A.’s happening Coaxial venue). A lot is familiar in the basic palette, but the artist exhibits a devastating sense of control even in his most improvisational-seeming ‘harsh bop’ cable-came-unplugged moments. This electronic racket conveys anxiety, catastrophe, and finally despair as the psychological defences come down for good and the anti-gnostic demons flood the brain, delighting fans of Sickness, The Cherry Point, and early Prurient.

My favourite track is the first one, where a world-rocking pulse of gravelly white noise, like deep breathing from some colossus of living stone, is soon joined by Danger Will Robinson robo pants-pissing and everything settles into a nice groove. Kill yourself… (Not you, Misery Ritual — not yet.)

Mishkin, Sasha – “Pastoral Breakfast” – [Cosmic Winnetou]

lexi glass   6/18/2019   A Library, Cassette

Our library has more than a few instances of an experimental artist – from rock guitarists to electronic composers to harsh noise wall builders – getting their hands on a secondhand organ and invoking its goofiness or grandeur or both on a one-off release. With this 2017 cassette, Russian singer/songwriter Sasha Mishkin joins their ranks. Hailing from Petrozavdosk, Mishkin usually crafts strange, synthy pop songs, but seated at the pipes he spins folk and classical forms into gorgeous “music for the romantic gnome inside of us.” Side A of the tape holds the three-part “Hegenberg Concerto” (T1-T3), a web of complex classical figures filtering through an outerspace echo, but jazzed up with sudden UFO sound effects or an occasionally placed cheesy lounge chord. Side B features Mishkin’s vocals, on a dark and lovely waltz macabre (T4), a Beethoven tribute (T6), and the exquisite closing hymn “In the Alps” (T7).

Medium: Paranormal Field Recordings And Compositions, 1901-2017 [coll] – [Kennesaw State University Zuckerman Museum of Art]

whngr   6/15/2019   12-inch, A Library

An assemblage of recordings of and inspired by efforts to communicate with the dead. This L.P. is a companion to the 2017 Kennesaw State University exhibit at the Zuckerman Museum of Art and runs the gamut from quirky to schlock, dreamy atmosphere to interpretive high art conceptualization, with just a sliver of spooky. This is not what I was hoping it would be; unequivocal verification of the paranormal, irrefutable evidence of souls trapped between planes of existence but unfortunately it is far from it. At times engaging and atmospheric, at other times pure camp. Perhaps witnessing the exhibit would help to illuminate some of the more tawdry aspects of this album but on it’s own it appears to lack cohesion and credibility. Perhaps that is fitting, maybe the intangible should remain as such and the efforts to document the ephemeral should be unattainable and reductive.

ACxDC – “Antichrist Demoncore” – [Melotov Records]

atavist   6/12/2019   12-inch, A Library

ACxDC drops a slab of West Coast power violence with Antichrist Demoncore. Unrelenting riffs of pure aggression with plenty of thick tone to sink your teeth into. Two vocal styles comprise a dual-pronged attack: high-pitched screaming vs guttural/throaty/demonic. The speed is fairly full-throttle with some choice breakdowns. One track on each side is FCC-free, so outside of safe harbor it’s a minefield. Having said that, the FCC-free tracks, “Cheap Punks”, and “Keep Sweet” are pretty cool tracks, and “Keep Sweet” might be my favorite. It’s a bummer about the FCCs, because there are some great blasting riffs and good, fuck-all, anti-fascist lyrics. After two sides of tracks ranging from 34 seconds to just under two minutes, the 3:36 track at the end of the album feels pretty epic. A worthy addition to the genre.

Robinson, Eugene S. / Petit, Philippe – “Chapel In The Pines” – [Lumberton Trading Company]

atavist   6/12/2019   A Library, CD

This is the second collaboration between Eugene S. Robinson and Philippe Petit to be added to the KFJC library. Eugene S. Robinson is well-known for his work in Oxbow and has appeared in some other collaborations over the years; Philippe Petit is similarly well-represented in the library. Over the five compositions presented on “Chapel in the Pines”, Robinson provides a range of vocal styles ranging from stream-of-consciousness ramblings to singing that references traditional forms and religious motifs. Robinson’s work is superimposed over Petit’s electronics, including synthetic drones and ethereal textures. The first track, my personal favorite, establishes washes of atmospheric textures and delicate guitars. In contrast to the far-off and ephemeral instrumentation, Robinson’s vocals are intimate, close, as if he’s speaking in the room with you, talking in your ear, or perhaps you overhear him from the next table. The last track crescendos with some adventurous sonic creations that fluctuate between the solemn and the spasmodic, with a sudden ending. It’s like the character created by Robinson has finally broken through to the next dimension, like Dave in “2001”, only to be abruptly disappointed by what is found there.

Dreamcrusher – “Katatonia” – [Obsolete Units]

lexi glass   6/11/2019   A Library, Cassette

Dreamcrusher is the project of Brooklyn-based noisician Luwayne Glass. As a teenager growing up in Kansas in the early 00s, Glass formed the Dreamcrusher sound – heavy dance beats turned up so far in the red that they’re mangled nearly beyond recognition – and dubbed it “queer nihilist revolt music.” This 2015 cassette EP from Obsolete Units begins with the swarming static and crushing pulses of “Aura” (T1), and then swerves into the hopeless hip-hop-inspired beats and vocals of “Imponderabilia” (T2). “Vitaal” (T3) heaves with an industrial churn (T3) that relents on closer “Mirror” (T4), as a thick wall of noise is stripped away to reveal a mournful chorus that comes in waves before it dissipates and disappears. Extreme harsh sounds – the constant distortion is at times reminiscent of another NY noise project (who frequently share a bill with Dreamcrusher), Uniform, recently added to our library.

Knurl – Nervescrap [Pure]

Louie Caliente   6/11/2019   A Library, CD

Walls on walls on walls of noise. Blistering, full-spectrum, ear-piercing, colon-clenching noise. Bottomless layers of samples, static, and screeches combine to an overwhelming chaos that fills every second of this album.

Knurl is Toronto-based experimental musician Alan Bloor. He avoids synthesizers digital sounds, instead using found objects such as fan blades, typewriters, scrap metal and car springs to create music that is completely devoid of rhythm, melody, vocals, and production quality.

Released in 1994, Nervescrap is Knurl’s second album (after Initial Shock). First a self-produced cassette, it was later released on Pure Records, the budget imprint subsidiary of RRR.

Blue Hummingbird On The Left – ‘Atl Tlachinolli’ – [Iron Bonehead Productions]

Lord Gravestench   6/8/2019   A Library, CD

“Blue Hummingbird on the Left” = English translation of Huitzilopochti, the name of the Aztec god of war, sun, and human sacrifice. Also the name of this Mesoamerican racial nationalist Black Metal group from southern California, part of the storied and controversial Black Twilight Circle, a close association of mostly Chicano musicians orbiting the Crepusculo Negro label. The BTC has included bands such as Arizmenda, Dolorvotre, Tukaaria, Odz Manouk, Volahn, Axeman, The Haunting Presence, Kallathon and many more. Personnel frequently overlap, and there may even be more bands than individual musicians associated with the BTC at this point.

BTC founder Volahn is joined here by 4 other players to create, as with all his other endeavours, a fairly distinctive and infectious take on raw Black Metal, in this case blending Death Metal influences with homages to the more aggressive Slavic pagan bands like Astrofaes (check out t.s 5+7) and Nav. Frantic, aggressive guitar lines of slasher thrash, bizarrely mournful lead riffs, very aggressive War Metal-ish structure at times, at others suggestions of the murderous punk gallop of Crepusculo Negro affiliates Bone Awl. Rather odd war yips and tribal drums on a few tracks. TFW your ancestors were eating each other a mere 500 years ago. Volahn really does shit gold. Dig it.

Jóhannsson, Jóhann – Arrival (Original Soundtrack) – [Deutsche Grammophon]

whngr   6/6/2019   12-inch, A Library, Soundtrack

The soundtrack to Dennis Villeneuve’s time-bending science-fiction suspense film is strange and otherworldly with unusual voicing and heavily modified instrumentation that is as mellifluous and soothing as it is abstract and unfamiliar. Deep drone, alien vocal arrangements, strings from The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and beautiful if bizarre vocalizations from the Theatre of Voices, sparse percussion and an overarching minimalism convey distance, introspection, and liminal phantasmic qualities. Arrival was composed by the late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (Blade Runner 2049, Sicario, Mandy), and was scored during the apex of his relatively short but voluminous and perhaps influential cinematic career (the third of four films films with Villeneuve). He died like a rock star, at the peak of his game, his system flooded with alcohol and cocaine which, in my mind, makes him a legend and and also kind of an asshole. However, that is of little consequence, the sound(s) that he generated were brilliant, often employing near sub-sonic drones that would utilize the incredible range and volume of modern theater sound systems to mesmerizing and visceral effect. Rivaling both Motörhead and Holy Mountain era Sleep in obscenely over-the-top volume, I saw Blade Runner 2049 (another example of a [less than amazing] film that just happened to be an exceptional vehicle for Jóhannsson’s sound design) in a nearly empty theater and was thrilled at the way my rib-cage would shudder at the unearthly sound. It became tactile. I was immersed in a compressible fluid that was both turbulent and resonate. When the medium of air becomes that warped and disturbed we can be transported to a place that is foreign and dire. Not unlike outer space or the chambers that house the hyper-evolved “Heptapods”, the extraterrestrial demagogues in the film. Our atmosphere is as untenable to them as theirs is to ours so the linguistic protagonists must meet with these beings separated by a transparent barrier in an attempt to learn, with some great difficulty, to communicate with them and the consequences that come with first contact with a species that is technologically and militarily superior. This separation from the familiar is important to the sound and ultimately the feeling of the film. Jóhannsson was aware that “people are hungry for new sounds, and for the experience of listening to unfamiliar music…” and this awareness was what compelled him to make an extraordinary film score for a striking film, with one gnarly twist, about love, determination, and communion with our extrasolar squid overlords.

Sound of The Bunun Tribe, The – “Music of The Aborigineon Taiwan Island, The” – [Wind Records]

mickeyslim   6/5/2019   CD, International

Gospel chorus voices, droning, drifting; humming, chanting hypnosis. Generations of humanity’s lost wisdoms.

The Bunun tribe is one of nine on the island of Taiwan, and as such, have been massively isolated from the cruelties and evils of modern society.

While the last couple tracks have instruments (violin, jew harp), this is largely vocal sounds. Fantastic release from unknown musicians on an unknown label.

Stelzer, Howard – “Narrow Escape” – [Obsolete Units]

lexi glass   6/4/2019   A Library, CD

Howard Stelzer is a sound artist from Massachusetts who works with cassettes as his instrument, both in his solo work (here) and his collaborations with Campbell Kneale, Frans de Waard, The Cherry Point, and others. This 2014 CDR release from Obsolete Units holds a single 54-minute work. During the first half of the piece, layers of recorded hums, buzzes, and echoes cast the dimensions of a vast interior space. Halfway through, a metallic rumbling emerges, and with it the realization that this space has only one exit, and that gap is slowly, mechanically, fastening closed. Air and light rushes out with a high frequency roar, the space seals shut. There’s nothing left to do but fumble through the void to hit the eject button.

Cult Sounds [coll] – [Aberrant]

whngr   6/4/2019   12-inch, A Library

A fantastically disturbing collection of recordings of the members and leaders of 12 different religious factions widely considered “cults” and in fact this compilations selects primarily from twelve of the most notorious and infamous sects from around the world (short bios on reverse). What is most compelling about this album is however the incredible variety of the tracks. The absurd childlike simplicity of  the Shoko Asahara (A4) track, which considering the gravity and scope of his Aum Shinrikyo group’s actions including the killing of 13 and the poisoning of over 6000 and who was subsequently hanged along with 12 of his followers in 2018 in a rare occurrence of capital punishment in the normally life affirming nation of Japan, provides a real skin-crawling element to this release. However, it is not the only track with this quality. A stalwart rival for creepiest track predictably comes from the choir of the People’s Temple (A1), children sing merrily to a 70’s pop riff that does little to belie the impending death of 909 individuals. However, there is much more to this album than the macabre titillation of the body count. From the surprisingly talented crooning ballad by David Koresh “Book of Daniel” (A5), to the funky Beefheart-esque stomp of Ya Ho Wha (B1), to the jazzy saxophone jubilation of L. Ron Hubbard’s Apollo Stars (B2). Other standouts include the doom/psych composition “Lucifer Rising Pt. I” by Bobby Beausoleil (a former member of Grass Roots, an early incarnation of Arthur Lee’s, Love) & The Freedom Orchestra (A2) which notably, was recorded in Deuel Vocational Institution with the approval of Tracy Prison administration as an accompaniment to the Kenneth Anger film of the same name (Beausoleil was convicted of killing his friend Gary Hinman and fellow associate of the Manson Family in 1970), as well as the bitingly cynical robotic queries and command(ment)s over electronic instrumentation and dancy beats by Chris Korda & The Church of Euthanasia’s “Save the Planet, Kill Yourself” (B4), and perhaps the most unnerving (because it is potentially my favorite), an offering from the founder of the globe spanning Raëlian movement. Raël’s Viva la Vie Viva la Mour (B6) delivers a sweet and somber love song accompanied by a tenderly picked accoustic guitar that has me considering enrollment in his 80,000 member strong U.F.O. sex cult, though it is unlikely that I will find the time as I am currently immersed in practicing the Dark Arts at the most subversive cult of them all, the masochistic mind-control and sonic insubordination sect housed in building 6200 on the campus of Foothill Junior College. The most striking and perhaps disturbing aspect of this collection is the proliferation of hooks. It is an insidious reminder that music, at its roots is primal and inextricably connected to both memory and emotion. That for centuries the most powerful propaganda was employed first by the bards, then church, and most recently the advertising firm and their overlords, the architects and beneficiaries of the capitalist system. That the pop of today shall become the hymns of tomorrow, driving humankind into the compulsive recital of Dave Berry, The Beatles, Cyndi Lauper, and the Artist formally known as Prince in a prayer for deliverance from (or into) the maw (the lap) of the Prince of Darkness.

Aksak Maboul – "Un Peu De L'Ame Des Bandits" – [Crammed Discs]

Thurston Hunger   6/2/2019   12-inch, A Library

Holy Henry Cow! Dear 1977, you were more alive than I was back then.
Crammed Discs master Marc Hollander put together this band in ’77,
and this album originally came out in 1980, now released with
bonafide bonus work (see insert CD with vinyl)
“A Modern Lesson” is a Bo Diddley vs Les Georges Leningrand-standing
oddbop oddball. Followed by strings in syrup for “Palmiers en Pots”
which tangles itself into a tango of sorts, clarinets reminiscing
about the girl who got away when WWII hit. “Geistige Nacht” comes
along and it’s a sort of jazz-flecked prog instrumental. The curse
of diversity in full effect, along with a different language for
every song title so far. Next up an Italian title and a dry
drum and sahara-esque windswept vibe, plus either I’m hallucinating
or there’s an oasis filled with a Romanian maiden choir. “I Viaggio
Formano El Giaventu” snake-charmed by black heart the most so far.
Killer mesmerizing track! “Inoculating Rabies” rides a punk
railroad track with clarinet duet horns. “Microscope” is the
most “experimental” of the bunch, staining slides of sound
as microinstrumentals twitch under the glaring heat/light. Cools
off with vibes and electric piano after awhile (mandatory for any
flavor of “fusion”?) but kind of marches into some carnival
sounds. “Alluvions” has more of that prog-like, twitchy fusion
feel, but more comic, and some foley artist walking his horse
through the song. Clip clop and a fine Frith fretblast eventually.
Was there speaking in tongues on “Age Route Brra!”

The bonus CD (“Before and After Bandits”) rewards the long-time fans,
with new ones at KFJC likely to be born as this is our first Aksak
attack (we have a single track on a Recommended Sampler, and that is
all however Art Bears and Honeymoon Killers and Catherine Jauniaux
a-plenty oh my). Hefty booklet maps out various phases of Aksak Maboul
(apparently the band’s name, each word a form of “madness”, Arabic
first and French Slang). There is a current phase touring today by
the by, and a new album in the works.

Like sex in front of your pet (as depicted on the artwork) this album can
be a bit awkward but undeniably quite pleasurable, errm well, I’m guessing…
Shuck off your expectations, and enjoy.
-Thurston Hunger

Village of Spaces – "Shaped By Place" – [Feeding Tube Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/2/2019   12-inch, A Library

Village of Spaces “Shaped By Place” 33
My first thought on a blind listen : What if Bonnie Prince Billy
never saw a darkness? That was followed by a touch of Skip Spence
rowing gently through my mind. This is folk(y) record, where
there is happiness, there is psyche (opener dosed sitar-esque),
there is harmony, there is a family vibe… The trunk of the
family tree is Dan Beckman-Moon and Amy Moon Offerman-Sims
and the bark from it builds an acoustic guitar found on every
track. Plenty of guests climb on, up on a branch a KFJC uncle
even Phactors in. Lyrics are pastoral, if not purely organic.
Even when they graze the blues there is a sweetness, like on
“Tired for the Moon” (Perhaps that track is an apology from one
Moon orbitting another?) That said there is no Keith Moon
in the mix, this is a drum-free zone. It’s a gentle album,
almost an acoustic mass. How mellow? How about humming featured
on “Woodworker’s Litany.” That’s one of two covers of Maine
folkie Gordon Bok’s work on the album
https://staff.kfjc.org/spidey/zkid.php?id=819749
Speaking of Maine, where Amy/Dan reside also drops of Big Blood
are in the mix, “Light On” shines strong and Caleb from the
Blood is a studio mid-husband for this recording. It’s a calm
and well-adjusted folk-ified outing, sounds like Amy/Dan’s
young child snuggles in on “Berry to Berry” before the
“Neighbor’s Jam” gets spread out with a Van Morrison
drive-by reference.
-Thurston Hunger

Lie Detectors – "Part III Secret Unit" – [Chant Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/2/2019   A Library, CD

Dangerous Dan reviewed this internally for the KFJC
criminals, but I confess to being a fan of it as well
Offering this review to help encourage the guilty.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
So one of them is wearing a wire, or wound up in multiple
wires, that would be guitarist Eyal Maoz. The other handles
batterie and assault percussive, Asaf Sirkis. Good cop,
better cop? Their buddy pic apparently has been running
40+ years, starting back as pre-teens in Israel. So their
silent communication is downright brotherly at this point.
No need for a bassist to translate. No bass also keeps
Maoz’s playing tuneful while plenty explorative. The duo
eschew sprawling 20 minute epics and deliver tight tracks
with distinct themes. A key aspect is Maoz’s superb tone
variation. “Rice” burns 70’s heavy metal and 2 minutes in
there is some striking digital feedback. Many songs have
nice knob and string bending. “Closer” has drier guitar
and a semi-western flare over bo-diddly bursts, but in the
gulches between gallops, Maoz delivers tweaky backwards-esque
guitar effects and Sirkis flutters brushes. Fans of the
Mermen could dive in on that. If you want a clean elecric
bop take, get stung by “Sting.” “Flying Horse” threatens to
boogie, but has that Ribot kinda stumble while Sirkis dances
ahead and behind the string work. Sirkis has several solo runs,
including tuned tom meditations on “Tree” the album’s
most gentle number. 1+1 adds up to much more, and that’s the
truth. -Thurston Hunger

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