KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

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!

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 hair-metal riffs.

Shep and Me – “Nasturtium Inertia” – [Dear Skull Records]

Phil Phactor   9/5/2018   12-inch, A Library

Vinyl re-issue of a 2009 cassette and our first release from the (now-defunct?) Dear Skull label. This is dark, drony music for the nighttime. More specifically, this feels like Loren Mazzacane Connors meets The Microphones, as plaintive melodies rise up from the murk of lonely guitar lines and scratchy field recordings. Gets deeper with every listen. A project of Matthew Himes, who also records as Mole Hole and runs the Lighten Up Sounds label, which appears to still be going.

Raghu, Palghat / Subramanium, V.V. – “Bhavalu / Impressions” – [Nonesuch Records]

Phil Phactor   8/29/2018   12-inch, International

South Indian (Carnatic) instrumental music played by an ensemble featuring Palghat Raghu on mrindagam, the Indian barrel drum, and V.V. Subramaniam on violin. The violin was introduced to India in the late 1700s, and it’s fascinating to hear its sound was radically transformed through the use of ‘alternate’ tunings and modified techniques (including the use of oiled fingers to facilitate slides.) The mrindagam has a sharper and more powerful sound than the tabla, and it often takes the lead, for example on side A. The music of the north and south are both based on ragas, or modes, but in the south these are supplemented by composed, and often intricate, melodies upon which further improvisations are built. As a result, the music on this album requires a little bit of focus on the part of the listener, but it’s well worth it!

Ronn, Christian / Mori, Ikue – “Chordis Et Machina” – [Resipiscent Records]

Thurston Hunger   8/22/2018   12-inch, A Library


Ronn, Christian / Mori, Ikue 33 rpm
“Chordis Et Machina”
Creepy calm? Ikue Mori is no stranger to KFJC’s library,
her DNA is in ours, but for years she’s been flying
hyperspeed into the singluarity of sound. The woman/machine
laptop/mindmeld. Her electronic signature often feels
extremely crisp, a hint of digital insects, quick flutter
of fragile wings, tiny little loops, and just a small patch
of fuzz on the antennae. Interesting to think of her
originally as a drummer, it’s like she has discarded the
beat and chased after the timbre of percussion. Well mostly,
there’s trace elements of funk on “Beyond the Forest” which
has a rhythm and bounce woven into it. Ikue’s joined here by
Christian Ronn of Denmark (his KFJC debut perhaps?). His piano
work is featured, fractured and fed into “Primodial Chaos”
(a 13 1/2 minute epic). He also offers Buchla thunder (well
more like gusts) but often is charge coupled with Ikue in
the well of the synthetic. Strange that the album is called
“Chordis Et Machina” as it’s heavy on the latter. “Spatium
Mutate” opens the LP like a can of soda, a laptop pop and
fizz to start, then gets into that calm vibe but with clicks
and tricks and squishy clean electronics. KFJC reviews used
to talk about soundscapes, and I think this duo builds nice
ones and then populates them with little digital critters.
“Loch Ness” hides more high-freq freaks than big bassy
monsters, really round pure tones, the way a robot might
whistle. Warning, it ends might quick and clipped. If you dig
this check out stuff from the Empreintes Digitales label
or marvel at the diversity Decker delivers on the mighty
Resipiscent local imprint (which released this in conjunction
with Tonometer and Nische-Ronn’s label). -Thurston Hunger

SEF III – “Selling SEF III” – [Ehse Records]

Louie Caliente   8/14/2018   12-inch, A Library

A science fiction narrative told through sound from SEF III, a trio composed of Duncan Moore, Max Eilbacher, and Alex Moskos. Composed in a barn in rural Virgina and recorded in Montreal, Selling SEF III tells the electro-synthetic saga of Phil and the SEF III computer.

Introductory Remarks (T-1) is an instrumental preview of the sounds and structures that will be on display through the rest of the piece. Meticulously unorchestrated glitch, floaty musique concret, and slooowwly tuned radio dials.  Layers of bugs and buzz-saws.  Lots of attention to static and its subtleties.

Most of the vocals are are dispassionate descriptions of scenery, stage direction, and monologues. The very notable exception are the two Machine Themes (T-2, T-11), which feature deep perfectly pitched harmonies and smooth melodies.

What I assume is the climactic battle between Phil and Sef III takes place in T-10. It’s a dizzying 6+ minute instrumental of mechanical tapping, blasting ray guns, crickets, horns, and eerie metal-machine wails. The return to the Machine’s Theme in the following and final track suggests that things do not work out well for poor Phil.

Buried Country [coll] – [Mississippi Records]

Thurston Hunger   8/8/2018   12-inch, Country


Outsider sounds from the Outback? Nah, this’ll fit just
dandy in your Country Music set (Australia *is* a country
after all). Note the Cash and Hank refs on the cover art.
The album pretty much begins and ends in the Dreamtime.
Black Allan Barker leads it off with a stirring hypnotic
spiral of a song, and Harry Williams summons Dreamtime on
the penultimate cut as well. Williams’ wife and musical
partner mentioned that Harry was buried with his guitar,
the Dreamtime Allstars band is surely legendary. Several
artists on this have died, recordings here span the years,
all the way back to 1958. The song at the very end of this
collection aptly is called “The Resurrection” recorded by
Bobby McLeod in 1987 having been reborn from his time in
jail. He and his bandmates The Kooriers also close the
first side. Prison time, literal and emotional, is a
recurrent theme. Civil wrongs and rights keep on spinning
beyond the confines of these grooves. Didgeridoo pokes
through on “Gurindji Blues”, spoons cut in on the instro
“Black and White Cat.” The Warumpi Band inject electric
boomerang boogie into the mix. Maisie Kelly’s a cappela
number is captivating, and a stellar example of song as
historical oracle. Timeless. The photos/interviews put
together by Clinton Walker for Flippin Yeah in conjunction
with Mississipi is the real gift here, even the precision
of Walker’s track ordering is striving to tell this story.
He has revived memories and music that would have otherwise
been lost. -Thurston Hunger

Yevtushenko, Yevgeny – “Poetry of Yevtushenko Volume II, The” – [Folkways Records and Service Corp.]

Thurston Hunger   8/8/2018   12-inch, A Library


Release in 1967, and translated out of Yevgeny’s mother
tongue into our bastard English (if not pure ‘Murrican).
Recitation split into male and female, read by Milt
Commons and Jere Jacobs, they join forces to close out
side A, with Jacobs leaving her soothing style for a
more sinister one. That track, “Murder” will likely be
the hit at KFJC but I’d give “People” a chance with
its closing lines
“And every time again and again
I make my lament against destruction”
Also on here, closing out the album his “Babi Yar”
a tribute to the Holocaust victims as well as a
reported slap to Soviet authorities and rising
anti-semitism in 1961.
When I first heard about Yevtushenko it was in terms
of how Russia treats poetry and its poets, with accolades
and arenas contrasted with US (do you know our poet
laureate?) Yevtushenko died on April 1st 2017, in Tulsa
where he had been teaching, and still fighting for human
rights.
-Thurston Thurstonovich

Dawson, Richard – “Nothing Important” – [Weird World Record Co]

Naysayer   8/1/2018   12-inch, A Library

Richard Dawson is a an English folk/blues singer, songwriter and guitarist whose unique approach pushes definitions of style. Hailing from Newcastle Upon Tyne, Dawson’s work approaches heartache with a hammer, a subtle hammer but consistent and relentless yet achingly beautiful. Supposedly he accidentally broke the guitar he uses, liked the sound and so kept it. The guitar playing is like Eugene Chadbourne or Bill Orcutt, prolific style and skill with luxuriant and dynamic finger work. Moments of pure beauty will be attacked… attacked… with pulling, stretching, almost destroying the guitar. Dawson does collaborate with harpist Rhodri Davies, whose harp playing style is the same of reconstructing/deconstructing how the harp could be played. Davies performs on track 3 of this album.
“Nothing Important” came out in 2014 and pushed Dawson forward in his work. These are four tracks that I can not get enough of. Track 1, “Judas Iscariot” and track 4, “Doubting Thomas”, bookend the album. They are glorious solo guitar instrumentals which showcase Dawson’s skill and emotion. Judas and Thomas, both who chose to question, challenge and make mistakes, besides feeling left out, begin and end a theme that is present in the album.
The two tracks with vocals, “Nothing Important” and “The Vile Stuff” showcase all the greatness that is Dawson. “Nothing Important” is a series of vignettes from the narrator’s life, from birth through family experiences, the passing of family, the loss of a newborn. Dawson describes objects from the time as pieces of remembrance but questions why he can’t remember the faces of the loved ones. In “The Vile Stuff”, the narrator describes experiences of friends and of himself, snippets of experience filled with detail that may appear mundane to others but hold significance to the narrator. Yet there is a sense of loneliness, weariness and longing embedded with the celebration of friends. Dawson’s singing style is so unique: stretching out words to uncomfortable lengths, odd phrasing and emphasis, paring sentences together in ways not expected. His lyrics, his playing, his singing breaks me when I hear it. You’ll need a kleenex. This is a highly welcome addition to our collection.

Bronner, Dr. E. H. – “Sisters & Brothers” – [Dr. Bronner’s]

Naysayer   7/31/2018   12-inch, A Library

Yes, this is Dr. Emanuel H. Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap. His story is fascinating. Born in 1908 in Heilbronn, Germany of the German-Jewish Heilbronner family of soap makers, Emanuel learned his trade of soap making and earned a degree in chemistry. Emigrating to the USA in 1929, he dropped the Hiel from his name due to associations to Nazism. He begged his parents to come with him but they did not and were eventually killed in the Holocaust at Auschwitz and Theriesenstadt. He continued his trade as soap maker eventually creating the Dr. Bronner’s soap we know today. He adopted the label “Doctor” to his name. In the mid 1940’s, either while at the University of Chicago, invited by a student group, or not invited by a group, or on a street corner, Dr. Bronner was arrested for speaking his “Moral ABC” (some reports say vehemently) and institutionalized at the Elgin State Insane Asylum. After shock therapy treatments, Bronner escaped from the asylum. He blamed his eventual blindness on these treatments.
His soap business grew, with his famous label espousing the tenets of “Moral ABC” and “All One God Faith”. He worked toward what is now Green ideology, with his business focusing on ecological awareness and sharing profits with workers. It continues to this day.

“Sisters & Brothers” is a compilation of Dr. Bronner’s beliefs in achieving Moral ABC. Influenced by the writings and teachings of Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Paine, Hillel the Elder who supposedly taught the teenage Jesus, Mohammed, Jesus Christ, Confucius, Buddha…. , he came up with his philosophy of All One God Faith as the only way to achieve harmony on earth. These recordings made between 1968 and 1988 on “a variety of home recording devices” (i.e. tape recorders), show a man determined, obsessed even, with getting this point across of helping others, showing kindness, sharing, as a means to cure all. What is wonderful about these recordings, though, is the way they were made, and his tone. These are done on tape recorders so we constantly hear the clicking on and off of the recorder. There is some background noise and several of the selections start off or end with selections of, I think, Strauss, even once or twice with Dr. Bronner whistling and then testifying. And the testifyiing: his cadence is dynamic, taking on an almost Hitleresque Nazi tone. There is a dynamism, an affect, a determination that almost crosses over into demanding the listener. Screw free choice – you will do it. There is repetition: Moral ABC is stated repeatedly. so basically, not that it’s a problem, but Dr. Bronner had some mental health issue stuff going on, right? From the outsider art presentation style of his famous label, to manic proselytezing, to institutionalization…. But whatever, he made it work and his product run by the family continues to work in positive directions. Listen, learn, convert, follow, listen, learn, convert, follow, listen, learn, convert, follow, listen, learn…….

Everett, Wayne – “Kingsqueens” – [Northern Records]

Naysayer   7/27/2018   12-inch, A Library

Wayne Everett’s “kingsqueens” is a sweet, well-played piece from 2002 that fills up so many of the wonderful sounds of the mid to late 1990’s and early 00’s that some of us once felt too above to like, but now can appreciate. Coming from a number of groups out of the So. Calif. Riverside, Huntington Beach scene, Everett’s work is influenced by shoegaze, Elliot Smith, Apples In Stereo harmonies, Spiritualized and dare I say, Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds”. These are all great things and Everett captures them full on and makes them his own. He sings, plays drums, guitar and percussion all along with a full band, some of which are friends from previous projects. Medium paced pop tomes about love and change and distance and a bit of positive are conveyed through interesting lyrics. Some selections are wonderfully orchestrated with a bit extra from harp and horns as well as strong backing vocals. A lovely entremets or aperitif to add to heavier sets of radio sound. Cleanse and feel refreshed.

Tons [coll] – [Lgn]

Louie Caliente   7/24/2018   12-inch, A Library

Kompripiotr / Chopstick

Dark ambient noise drone split/collab from Kompripiotr (Peter Holzknecht of Bolzano Italy) and Chopstick (Andrew Wayne of Sacramento), released on LaGrind Noire label which Holzknecht co-runs. The two artists met in 2015 at NorCal NoiseFest (co-organized by Wayne), and bonded over music and Ethiopian coffee.

Full-spectrum sonic radiation exposure. Powerful yet calming. Heavy buzzing whirring humming, and slow penetrating pulsations. Oscillations of every stripe.

Side A is two equally-menacing tracks, one from each artist.

Side B is a collaboration between the two. Wayne recorded first, and sent the tapes to Holzknecht, who plays an old JVC radio/tv tuner, twisting antennae and searching for signal.

Only 100 made.  50 in EU, 50 in USA.

PLAY AT 45.

Water Lilly – “Sensory Stretcher” – [Mental Groove Records]

lexi glass   7/24/2018   12-inch, A Library

Dark electro beats from Water Lilly, aka Monica Montesinos, a Swiss DJ/producer. This 2003 EP comes from the Geneva-based label Mental Groove. Driving minimal rhythms, seductive spoken word vocals, and the icy chill of that synth pop sound that was all over the place just after the turn of the millennium. The A side holds the two strongest tracks, the ominous opener “Process Engaged” (A1) and the “The Sound of Your Kisses” (A2), with an infectious phased synth hook. Flipping to the B side, “Where Do You Feel Me” (B1) keeps the energy high with analog sounds, “Champagnized” (B2) marches on with deep bass pulses, and electric guitar stabs echo through finale “Playette” (B3).

Hennies, Sarah – “Embedded Environments” – [Blume]

Phil Phactor   7/24/2018   12-inch, A Library

Sarah Hennies is a composer and percussionist currently based in Ithaca, NY. She is a part of the long-running experimental percussion trio Meridian, alongside Tim Feeney and Greg Stuart. She writes:

“Percussionists are unique not because we lack ‘an instrument,’ but because we are the only instrumentalists with the freedom to define ourselves. In this malleable space lies a commonality between percussion and queer/trans identities in that they are most easily defined by what they are not. A queer person is not straight, a percussionist is not a cellist, a transgender person is not cisgender.”

Okay, but what does it sound like? This LP is made up of two sidelong pieces for four percussionists. Side A, “Foragers,” is the quiet side, beginning with a soft, low rumble that continues…and continues…and continues. Other sounds emerge, twinkling, outer space sounds that could be electronic, but they’re not. And then the whole thing fades away. Side B features the title track and is the loud side. Much more obviously drum-derived, this is crashing and cacophonous but somehow also calm and meditative. Both pieces were recorded in a large grain silo, which subsumes everything in a massive, cavernous wash of reverb. Fascinating stuff.

Snapline – “Phenomena” – [Maybe Mars]

Thurston Hunger   6/30/2018   12-inch, A Library


2012 Chinese trio, minimal moody bass driven numbers
could take a full dance floor and pull apart all the
couples into singles spinning with dreams of Alan
Vega calling to them above in the rafters. Li Weisi
and Zhong Qiu used to be passengers in Carsick Cars
(KFJC added a 2007 release from that project in 2015).
Chen Xi sings in English, monotone mantra over a usually
stark hypnotic beat. Gatefold unfold the lyrics, his
deadpan delivery coupled with repeats gives each song
an additional spark of tension, but Li Weisi’s (aka
Levis) basslines are absolutely vital here. Zhong Qiu
squiggle-decorates space, some synth, some guitar. The
last two cuts with most prounounced electric guitar, for
a No-Wave Beijing razing. But I like the preceding tracks
as this band truly gets the less-is-more vibe, a little
spacy slide guitar, or some flickering keys there, it’s
a bleak but beckoning sound, like a strobe-light that can
double as a disintegration ray.

Potentially even more promising Snapline in 2017 were
supposed to record an album at GOK studios in Japan
(where many killer albums for the God Mountain label
were created). We need to work on our KFJC tunnel
beneath the Great Firewall to uncover more of the
Chinese underground. Some feedback drenched erhu
please…with circuit bending electronics.
-Thurston Hunger

Ashley, Greg – “Fiction Is Non Fiction” – [Dusty Medical Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/30/2018   12-inch, A Library


The statues have eyes, and they’re listening. Side A is languid
with a hint of mourning, an homage to a departed lover, an
air of a suicide, and a hint of overdose/homicide at the
doorstep. Ashley’s voice is relaxed, warm but worn. The
guitar is acoustic, the songs are ballads, even the closing
Sonic Youth cover gets a make-over a downtempo shift. Flip
the record and the switch and electric guitars rain on
“Fuck the Army” and “Blondes and Cyanide” but after that
“Gabriela” bailes con un piano (Adrien Leonard provides
some pretty great keys throughout.) That is followed by
the return of the spectre sinester, an acoustic lament
for friends claimed by an addiction to New York and
heroin. The song is gentle/pretty but its uneasy thorns
in an easier listen. Perhaps places as the darkness
before the dawn, “Blue Azul” still strummy, the album
carries a C&W flair to the French studios where Ashley
and friends recorded it. “Blue Azul” has a call to be
through with nihilism, and savor existence. A good plan
hope always, like a yodel though, it can be difficult
to pull off. But Ashley gives ’em a go, better to be
alive than a statue cloaked in tears.
Thurston “fear of mortality” Hunger

Controlled Death – “Symphony For The Black Murder” – [Urashima]

Lord Gravestench   6/23/2018   12-inch, A Library

Maso Yamazaki is a Japanese sound experimenter best known for his harsh noise work as Masonna, with which, alongside such artistes as Incapacitants, Merzbow and Hijokaidan, he helped to define the Japanese harsh noise sound. Now at the age of 51 he has unveiled a brand-new project that is so fresh and so vital it scares the shit out of me.

Controlled death may refer to the surgical practice of inducing temporary clinical death (stopping the heart and lungs) in a patient at an extremely low temperature, a state known as deep hypothermic circulatory arrest, in which the unfortunate may be kept ‘dead’ for as long as 30 minutes without damaging the brain. If that is the source of this project’s name, it not only matches the aesthetic, but also gets at the sense of control and rigor present thoughout these compositions.

The Italian label Urashima specializes in cold and nasty Power Electronics and Death Industrial sounds, and they do a lot of reissues— we have great ones from Taint, Bizarre Uproar and Vidna Obmana in the library. This 2018 release, which could easily pass for a reissue itself of some old cassette from the early 90s, sees synth fetishist Maso explore Urashima’s favourite style. This is perverse, intense, harsh Industrial based on pulsing synthesizers and ingeniously employed effects pedals, with the occasional echoing shriek of torment thrown into the blender and chopped up. It feels so much like a conscious tribute to Marco Corbelli of Italy’s Atrax Morgue (of which Urashima just issued a massive box set) and his ghoulish Slaughter Productions label that I would be surprised to learn otherwise. Everything on this record is so well done, and so inspired, that I am convinced Maso’s been studying these styles of weirdo electronic music for years. Now he has entered the conversation himself, and I hope he releases more.

Kaelan Mikla – “Kaelan Mikla” – [Fabrika Records]

Jim Hunter   6/13/2018   12-inch, A Library

An interesting take on 80’s Darkwave. Kaelan Mikla (Lady of the Cold in Moomin vernacular) is a 3 piece female led band that hails from Iceland. Formed after winning a library poetry slam circa 2012, their sound has changed over the years culminating in this 2016 release. Here they churn  out interesting darkwave reminiscent of  Xymox and the Cranes. Vocals are in Icelandic (old Norsk) and lend a mysterious element that complements the haunting synth punk of the album. Track 1 is a nice introduction with a solo drony sound that transitions into a more conventional structure the second half.  Tracks 2 and 6 were slightly problematic for me as the discordant harshness of the vocals were too shrieky for my taste but your mileage may vary. Tracks 4, 5 and 8 are the strongest and feature the smoother vocal stylings of drummer Sólveig Matthildur.

Street Sects – “Rat Jacket” – [Flenser]

Kai Sync   6/13/2018   12-inch, A Library

Symphonic indie industrial rock meets electronic mayhem experiments with whimsy-angry arrangements in the NIN flavor. Songs about loneliness, paranoia,  betrayal and mistrust. Singer Leo Ashline provides the melancholy and Shaun Ringsmuth the multi-layered samples, angry guitars and harsh synth and drum sounds. Very original, you can’t nail down what they really represent! Hey even melodies are present! Maybe the future of prog rock. Play it. –Kai