KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

John Bender – I Don’t Want To Talk About it / I Don’t Remember Now

cadilliac margarita   1/17/2020   12-inch

Home Recordings from 1978-1980 by the prolific John Bender while living in Cincinnati. Tracks are labeled by number based off various catalogue positioning (i.e. Cassette 31, Side A, Track 4). Everything about these lo-fi synth bangers with manipulated robotic but entertainingly nonsensical vocals was DIY. The 1980 original release came with sleeves individually hand-designed by Bender, and put out on his own “record sluts” label.

Re-released here on limited edition red vinyl by Superior Viaduct in 2016.

Alleyes Manifest – James Wavey Roses

cadilliac margarita   1/17/2020   12-inch, A Library, Hip Hop

Hip hop out of Oakland from James Wavey aka Alleyes Manifest aka Michael Bridgmon. This is trippy experimental psych- jazz- stoner funk- poetry. Chill, smart, & topical, with cleverly layered mixes, and intelligent word play. Lots of FCCs. All marked.

Dagger Lust – “Siege Bondage Adverse to The Godhead”-[Vrasubatlat]

whngr   1/16/2020   12-inch, A Library

TWR: Horrific aggro-tronic assault. Aggressive power-eletronics with grindcore drumming (sounds like a kit to my ear/not programmed), sludge elements, and power-violence vocals (guttural bellows and shredded screams/yells) out of Portland OR. At times plodding and lumbering, elsewhere blistering and cacophonous but almost always crushingly heavy with only track A4 (Perverse Divine) offering a brief, dark, reverbed out bass interlude between the barrages of doom, hate, and despair. Members of Ash Borer, Torture Rack,  Disgust, Pissblood, et alia, engage in a blinding attack of unhinged rage and semi-consensual tympanic membrane violation. Perfect for alienating listeners, an evening of self-harm, or a soundtrack to shooting the hostages. All cuts track, no discernible F.C.C.’s, no fun, and no remorse.

Laddio Bolocko – “Live & Unreleased 1997-2000” – [No Quarter]

atavist   1/14/2020   12-inch, A Library

3LP box set release from 2015 offers six sides to explore full of psych skronk ecstatic noise rock improvisation. Not sure where to drop in? Select Side D. (A breakdown of each side follows below.) On the whole, it’s fun to listen to this genre of music getting made in real time, and with a frenetic, jangled, anxious energy as opposed to happier, tranquil, figure-it-out-eventually, meandering psych jam sessions. Laddio Bolocko go full out on many tracks, exhibiting notable stamina as they work through ideas while keeping their collective foot pegged to the floorboard, tempo- and intensity-wise. They also exhibit a chameleon-like interest in trying out different genres and textures. The best stuff on this collection is more raw and unhinged than the band’s studio releases, and points to the next evolutionary step, notably the Psychic Paramount, the reckless experimental outfit that absorbed half of Laddio Bolocko after its dissolution. Be sure to check out the liner notes printed on each disc sleeve if you’re interested in learning how the musicians lived in New York (both in Brooklyn and upstate), toured, and made these recordings along the way.

Side A: a side-long excerpt from an extended jam made shortly before the saxophone player joined the band. The keyboards featured prominently over a driving drum line give this track the most conventional psych jam feel in the collection. That is, until the end, when the jam devolves into some Casio-keyboard mayhem. Made in the band’s living/rehearsal space in Brooklyn.

Side B: recorded at a house in the Catskills where the band lived for a while, during the same year Laddio Bolocko appeared in the KFJC Pit. B1: an assemblage of multiple sessions/ideas. amorphous noises and drones rise and fall. piano and determined munching of potato chips or similar snack gives way to some strange western saloon crossed with a science experiment. eerie scifi vibes. B2: noodlings and wanderings, particularly on sax. B3: percussion-driven composition with other noisy and sax-induced parts.

Side C: more from the Catskills sessions. C1: a bit more smoothed-out sibling to B3, driving percussion with minimalist keyboard element. C2: starts out mellow; drums, bass, and sax. it’s mellow but there’s always some tension brooding under the surface. C3: recorded audio detritus lends some interesting sonic textures. C4: the elusive guitar resurfaces in this amalgamation of attempts and explorations. bass and drums tend to keep things held down while other sounds flit about. C5: sharp, high-pitched machine whine with some sort of drum machine going in the background. C6: ritualistic drums, twisted carnival organ, redlining sax squawk.

Side D: return to Brooklyn. D1: brief, cool-sounding bass line with drums and sax. D2: probably the standout track on the collection. The guitar establishes a driving rhythm and the band begins to build structures around it. The drummer, bassist, and sax player had heard the guitar part for a few minutes before laying this track down, so the spontaneous ignition happening here is pretty amazing. Mesmerizing result. D3: Part B to the previous track’s Part A. Adds synth to the mix, guitar soars, and plays like a sinister doppelgänger to the pt. A’s beauty. Super rad, down to the moody dissolution to close it out.

Sides E and F were recorded live in Slovenia. These are driving, straight-ahead, full-throttled tracks that should fit in a variety of sets. A couple tracks are live versions of tracks found on the studio album “As If In Real Time”. E2 is a quick shot of adrenaline. E3 provides a glimpse into the band’s ability to play with dynamic range and respond to each other in a live context. Tension built and released. F1: another version of the track included in the Live From the Devil’s Triangle v1 compilation. The end of this track bleeds right into the F2, where they get into a live jam. F3 closes out the collection with a melding of the eccentricity of the Catskills jams and the intensity of their live improvisations. Breakdowns amidst the freakouts allow the sound of the audience to come through.

Rusalka – “Base Waters” – [Absurd Exposition]

lexi glass   1/8/2020   12-inch, A Library

Rusalka is the project of Vancouver noise artist Kate Rissek. Her work over the past decade includes several solo cassettes and split releases (with MK9 and The Rita, among others), and now in 2019 her first full-length LP washes onto KFJC shores. On Base Waters, Rusalka uses a theremin and electronic effects to harness the power of the seas on two sidelong pieces. A sunken ship ascends back to the ocean surface on “Sinking Blood Deep” (T1). The vessel’s weathered hull – massive walls of corroded noise – rises from the depths; its horns sound, lights flare, and engines roar once again. On “Reflection Underneath Waves” (T2), field recordings of waves transform into massive columns of noise standing amid powerful swells of sound, a raw expression of the creative and destructive forces of the sea. Beautiful, compelling work, released on Montreal label Absurd Exposition.

Silver Summit – "Silver Summit" – [Language of Stone]

humana   1/4/2020   12-inch, A Library

This is freak folk with beautiful vocals and instrumentation. Think Marissa Nadler but with vocals that are distinct and lovely in their own way. Sondra Sun-Odeon’s voice delivers some thought-provoking lyrics that paint haunting pictures, some of which were inspired by the band’s love of Acadia National Park in Maine (“Acadia” on Side B). David Shawn Bosler wrote the songs along with Sun-Odeon, and he does some of the backing vocals. There are Tibetan water bowls, guitars, cellos, and other musical instruments that set the other worldly tone. Quite pretty and fanciful.

Deathprod – “Occulting Disk” – [Smalltown Supersound]

atavist   12/30/2019   12-inch, A Library

There’s something quite compelling and rich in the sounds presented here. They tower above our heads like spectral skyscrapers rusting in place, stone monoliths clothed in frost, rivers of ice excavating trench graves. Deathprod, the project of Helge Sten, has been piquing the interest of KFJC DJs for some years now, as evidenced in reviews by Cinderaura, Muad’Dib, and Louis Caliente. At times the sounds are punctuated by pauses, or rise and fall in waves, or maintain a near-steady state of presence. Landscapes of cold, bare earth, toxins carried on currents. Nothing on the previous three sides really prepares you for the massive, overdriven “Black Transit of Jupiter’s Third Satellite”. It arrives fully formed, a behemoth. Thunders, temblors, acrid scourings, wave after wave in slow evolution, shaping the new normal. Or rather, those three sides of electronic exploration have perfectly prepared you for the arrival of “Jupiter”. Intercepted messages sent from the future.

Soft Issues – “Soft Issues” – [Opal Tapes]

whngr   12/19/2019   12-inch, A Library

Fairly aggressive electronic noise with pissed off vocals and some slightly down tempo near-drone tracks to temper the fury. This debut album comes to us from Leeds, U.K. that is “… influenced primarily by noise artists and hardcore punk as well drawing inspiration from the tedium of office work, social isolation and familial issues.” Abrasive, ugly, and harsh, you may need a few dry tissues after dropping the needle on Soft Issues… not for your tears but to soak up the blood draining from your ears. However, not all tracks are discordant and anxiety inducing. The B-side of this L.P. dips into some shallow pools of almost mellow drones. Though somber and unsettling, they provide a brief respite from the cacophonous onslaught of distorted pulses, whitenoise, and aural fibrillation. Even , at times, employing a pounding rhythm above the squeals of modulated feedback and guttural screams like a corruption of hard techno or industrial while evoking a kind of (anti-)ethos culled from hardcore-punk as stated on their bandcamp page. Not recomended for volunteers suffering from migraines or for family gatherings which is why I wanted to get this into the library before the Holidays. Seasons Grievings my whingelings.

Unholy – ‘From The Shadows’ – [Peaceville Records]

Lord Gravestench   12/14/2019   12-inch, A Library

When the Finnish death/doom metal quartet Unholy (est. 1990) originally released 1993’s ‘From The Shadows’ on Austria’s Lethal Records, it was either their first or second album, depending on whether you consider the previous year’s ‘Trip to Depressive Autumn’ a demo. Peaceville’s great-sounding 2017 reissue on double 12″ was the first vinyl pressing of this trendsetting record. 

Unholy must have been easy to lump in as part of the the funeral doom movement emerging from their fatherland in the early 90s, but really they were always doing their own fucked-up thing. The vibe is kind of stoner on this record, with lots of slow, sludgy, atonal riffs. Psychedelic keyboard work on some tracks takes the concept of organ doom in a far more psychotic direction than other Finn-doomers like Skepticism. Passionate and disgusting death grunts are dominant but there are some moments of surprising variation in the singing, including 1980s-style belting on a few tracks (e.g. A2). Occasionally the sombre doom tempo explodes into amazing death metal parts. A love of traditional metal harmonics is also in evidence, making the death and doom flavours equally strong. Autopsy, Goatlord, early Cathedral, and Candlemass all seem equally important as influences. The somewhat disparate components of Unholy’s sound balance into a pretty perfect whole, one in which any doom metal afficionado will be happily buried.

Over a decade later, another influential Finnish doom project paid tribute to Unholy’s impact when Reverend Bizarre, in the lyrics to their cult classic track ‘Goddess of Doom,’ included this band among a famous lyrical catalog of their influences— definitely check out every band mentioned in that song btw, it offers a great index of other groups to explore if this record appeals to you…

…But enough talk; time to pay your tithe to the Suomi metal godz!

Linekraft – “Subhuman Principle” – [Tesco Organisation]

lexi glass   12/10/2019   12-inch, A Library

Linekraft is the solo project of Masahiko Okubo, “junk-metal noise master” (his percussion work can also be found on recent releases from GRIM) and head of the Japanese noise label Three Plugs. On Subhuman Principle, Linekraft confronts the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, the communist regime that murdered millions of Cambodians during its rule in the late 1970s, and arrives at a final conclusion: “Human beings are animals. They can’t form a perfect social group.” Thus, he creates a “soundtrack for subhumans,” a devastating record that follows the regression from man to beast. Air raid horns, wailing sirens, military marches and gunshots dominate the first half of the tracks, but as the album plays on these traces of society disappear, leaving only chaos. The return to the primitive is reflected in the effects that are reminiscent of early electronic/noise music, like warbling echoes and overdriven distortion, and crashing metal sounds. The full bestial transformation is realized on the horrifying “Non Human Animal” (T5). Exceptional.

Eight Trails, One Path [coll] – [Three Lobed Recordings]

Louie Caliente   12/10/2019   12-inch, A Library

Infinite sounds from finite fingers. Eight tracks of solo acoustic guitar, put out by Three Lobed Recordings for Record Store Day 2012.

Some highlights: (A1) Alvarius B.’s toe-tapping American Primitive with a Cairo flair. (A2) The Lush, intricate picking from William Tyler. (A4) A sonic bath from Six Organs of Admittance, layering warm tones over distant vocals that slowly come in to focus. (B1) Steve Gunn’s raga trance that builds on repetition into a full-fledged jam. (B4) Closing out the album is Sir Richard Bishop, as expressive and energetic as always.

Byrd, John & Taylor, Walter – "Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order 1929-1931" – [RST Records]

Hemroid The Leader   12/10/2019   12-inch, Blues

John Byrd & Walter Taylor (1929-1931), Complete Recordings in chronological order

18 Rare country blues. Split LP, Byrd on side A; Walter Taylor (“Washboard Walter”) on the flip. Acquired taste, low-fi stuff for completists, Mickey Slim, & Pete Dixon. From Joe Bussard’s basement collection.

A1 & A2 recall spirituals, set up with John Byrd playing guitar & sermonizing, accompanied by a singer and a few congregants. Byrd is a cool guitar player. B side is kind of pedestrian.

Gideon, Alexis – "Upgrade Soul" – [FPE Records]

humana   12/9/2019   12-inch, A Library

Things have really gotten pretty great when a librarian gets to review a soundtrack composed to accompany a graphic novel, in this case one written by Ezra Claytan Daniels. Kudos to composer Gideon who with these tracks brings to aural life the vision of the graphic novelist. I have not read this novel yet, but I have “heard” it, and now I want to, I must, read it. The vein is sometimes murky (as in “Death”), sometimes jaunty (as in “Conception II”), sometimes playfully bluesy (as in “Progress”) and always mellow and atmospheric. The guitar and electronics draw you in just as I’m sure the illustrations for the graphic novel do. Kudos to Gideon!

Apprentice Destroyer – “Permanent Climbing Monolith” – [Apprentice Destroyer]

whngr   11/27/2019   12-inch, A Library

Three Word Review: Real neck breaker.

Driving guitar, drums, synthsizer(s), sparse effected and incomprehensible vocals that flirt with absurd repetition. Both primal and futuristic, offering a nod to its forebearers while peering toward future horizons and progressing relentlessly in to the past. It is alien and strange but uses an attractive, familiar, and hypnotizing language to elucidate space, grandeur, and perhaps intellect. Of feeling puerile and insignificant in the shadow of an indifferent juggernaut. Mastermind and composer, San Francisco’s Steve Peacock (Ulthar, Pandiscordian Necrogenesis, Mastery) has rallied the troops around his solo-project Apprentice Destroyer to lay waste to the poseurs, posturers, and hapless bystanders alike. Adding three other (lead) guitarists including, Shelby Lermo (Vastum, Uthar), Leila Rauf (Vastum, Hammers of Misfortune), Nick Stanley, and Bob Renz, synthing from Max Bonick, the drumming of Brandon Thomas (Pale Chalice), might give an allusion to the sounds found on this album while being mastered for vinyl by James Plotkin may provide yet another clue. And though I hear many other projects in this record, Boris, Big Black, Pelican, (none of which are mentioned to by the band, instead referencing Swans, Glenn Branca, Neu and Tangerine Dream on their bandcamp page),  you still might not guess as to its greatest quality. It is unique. A singular entity. One of power and of promise. An epic album with an appropriate title. Permanent Climbing Monolith. 

Nordlicht/Paysage D’Hiver [coll] – [Kunsthall Produktionen]

whngr   11/27/2019   12-inch, A Library

Cold, grim, and crvshing.
Switzerland’s  co-label (Kunsthall Produktionen) owners Wintherr and Nimosh of Paysage D’Hiver and Nordlicht respectively lay down a side-long track each of pvre depressive black metal devastation with a few short dark ambient interludes.Taking inspiration from the winter landscape (Paysage D’Hiver is French for Landscape of Winter) and natural themes (schnee means snow and Nordlicht is Northern lights in German), indeed, the Kusthall website has stated: “All of the band’s releases are connected, in that they tell different pieces of a story describing a realm known as “Paysage d’Hiver”. 

Donaggio, Pino – “Howling Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, The” – [Waxwork]

whngr   11/27/2019   12-inch, A Library

A melange of cinematic horror/suspense from the eighties beautifully repackaged by Waxwork. Classical orchestral compositions replete with scare inducing strings, terrifying timpani, heart pounding pipe organ, phobic oboe, fear inciting flute, and a full retinue of traditional instrumentation to evoke foreboding and fright with just a bit of hair-raising synthesizer, modified human vocalization, a few compulsory wolf howls to book-end the score, and a mini library of synth sounds are applied to the end like a hoary post-script. This edition also includes a mouthful of isolated synth sounds staked to the beginning and end for the werewolf completists/aficionados among us. However, not all the tracks are designed to build tension, B21- a kind of retro-rock jam suggesting thoughtful resolution and B29- a nostalgic theme to a television newscast. This killer soundtrack to the 1981 thriller showcased some cutting-edge practical special effects and was released the same year as the markedly superior, An American Werewolf In London. Sadly it would have been nearly impossible to appreciate the extraordinarily refined film score emanating from the single speaker hung from your steamy window at the drive-in.

Def Beat Remixes Vol. 1 presents … COLDCUT [coll] – [Def Beat]

aarbor   11/20/2019   12-inch, A Library

From 2005 this is the first of a series of 9 volumes featuring various DJs. Coldcut are Matt Black and Jonathan More (from the UK) the founders of the Ninja Tune label and trip hop pioneers. They produce electronic dance music which often includes cut up hip hop samples, breaks, soul, funk, jazz, spoken word (and other types of music and multimedia). This record is Coldcut working with other well-knowns like Steinski, Yazz and DJ Q-Bert, as well as remixing Red Snapper, Asian Dub Foundation, James Brown cut ups. Tracks 1-5 are fabulous. They’re funny, you’ll enjoy identifying the snippets of the tracks they’ve sampled, the first track has a cosmic outer space vibe. Enjoy! AArbor  

Konagaya, Jun – “Memento Mori” – [Steinklang]

lexi glass   11/19/2019   12-inch, A Library

Bleak midwinter carols, arriving just in time to make the season grim.

Jun Konagaya is the artist behind GRIM, the magnificent Japanese death industrial project active since the mid 1980s, just after the disbanding of Jun’s first group, the power electronics duo White Hospital. In the early 2010s, Jun began releasing work under his own name, bringing out more of the melodic and folk elements found in his earlier, noisier work. Memento Mori is his third release in this vein, with beautiful organ and piano melodies, mournful choruses, tribal rhythms, and peals from bell towers. Within the solemn beauty are unexpected touches: the unusual, nearly hip-hop beats and rhythmic warrior’s cries of “Run Deer” (T3), the blips and bobs of electronic chaos on “Time of Ruin” (T2), and the ecstatic trance of “White Nacht” (T7). It all comes together to make a completely original sound, and leaves no doubt in my mind that 30 years on, Jun is making some of the most compelling work of his career.

Sutekh Hexen – ‘Sutekh Hexen’ – [Cyclic Law]

Lord Gravestench   11/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

A fixture of the Bay Area experimental scene, Sutekh Hexen has purveyed solid ‘black noise’ fare for close to a decade, typically compressing ragged metal riffs and murky ambience into challenging walls-of-sound. 2019 saw the release of their self-titled 4th full-length, brought to you by the German-based label that has recently functioned as the de facto foster home for Cold Meat Industry artists orphaned by that Swedish label’s sudden dissolution six years ago. I’m not sure that S.H. is the first American band to release on Cyclic Law, but nonetheless, this double LP constitutes a significant moment in the transatlantic partnership that has long defined the industrial noise scene. S.H. had displayed an affinity for the Euro milieu even before their collaboration with Sweden’s Trepaneringsritualen, which was performed live deep in the woodlands of the Pacific Northwest at 2013’s Stella Natura festival. The group’s fusion of black metal guitar stylings and nonlinear experimental soundscapes is very compatible with the aesthetic sensibilities of our friends on the old continent (MZ.412 and Paysage D’Hiver come to mind). 

On this magnum opus, for which recording first commenced way back in 2012, S.H. seem to have both tightened up their compositions and broadened their palette, perhaps owing to a new and expanded lineup. For whatever reason, longtime member A.C. Way (AKA Thoabath) is no longer involved; here core members Demian Johnston (Great Falls, solo as BLSPHM) and Kevin Gan Yuen (Circle of Eyes, Disgust) collected contributions from Nathaniel Ritter (Burial Hex), Bay Area art-drone luminary Jim Haynes, Jim Kaiser (AKA Petit Mal, and sadly R.I.P. as of 2017), Mackenzie Chami (Terror Cell Unit, Disgust, solo as Koufar and Crown of Cerberus), Jason ‘VENIEN’ Ventura (founder of seminal Bay Area black metal group Von), Ryan Jobes (Grave Babies), James Martinez (provenance unknown), and Vial Magazine editor Patricia Cram. There will be a quiz after this review, so try and keep up.

A Frankensteinian agglomeration of black metal, dark ambient, deep drone, harsh noise, death industrial, electroacoustic, field recordings, and ritual music, ‘Sutekh Hexen’ is a vicious beast indeed, reflecting its diverse contributors’ varied approach to soundcraft. At times brooding and at times extremely violent, it impressively realises the promise of earlier releases and brings the project to a new artistic peak, one with perhaps a wider appeal. Be ye headbanger, noise junkie, Mills College avant-gardist, or dark ambient creeper, Lord Gravestench advises that you drink deeply of this silver-hued nightmare.

Troller – “Graphic” – [HoloDeck]

lexi glass   11/13/2019   12-inch, A Library

Troller is the Austin, TX darkwave trio of Adam Jones, Justin Star-Goers and Amber Star-Goers; this 2016 release on HoloDeck (Jones’ label) is their second album. While not quite the pain factory that the album’s art might suggest, Graphic aches with dark, synth-laden pop made for a dungeon dancefloor – from the bleak title track (T2), to the forlorn ballad “Not Here” (T3), the grind of “Nothing” (T7), the heavier “Sundowner” (T9), and the final sinister slowjam “Torch” (T10) – all driven by Amber Star-Goers’ powerful, agonized vocals. Between the beats are shorter instrumental interludes (T1, T4, T7, T8), and the Lynchian dream pop of “Storm Maker” (T5). All tracks can easily writhe their way into a set alongside recent additions like Boy Harsher, Kaelan Mikla, Lebanon Hanover, and other dealers in beautiful misery.

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