KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Watch How The People Dancing [coll] – Unity Sounds from the London Dancehall 1986-1989 [Honest Jon Records]

Thee Opinataur   9/22/2021   12-inch, Reggae

These singles and instrumentals show no-name locals rocking mics over the toy-store electro-beats that marked reggae’s transition into modern-day digital dancehall. 

Presented as a next-generation companion to London Is The Place For Me: the mood is more defiant — a Jamaican secession from London — with themes of inner-city sufferation running alongside hymns to the dancehall & herb. Spot-on mastering from Moritz von Oswald. 

Tunes you would expect at the closing hours of the afterparty of a Jamaican dancehall mix. 

In the ’80s, when reggae was changing from roots to dancehall, the Unity sound system was already a big player in London. And when the digital sound started, they were inspired to start making their own tunes, instead of simply playing others. Using a Casio and a four-track cassette recorder, they laid down the rhythm tracks, then went into a real studio to add vocals and overdubs. On the majority of the vocal cuts, an instrumental “version” is appended (just as it would have played on a sound system). The result is true street-level British reggae from the dawn of the digital era, and all surprisingly good, given that none of the people involved were musicians — they all worked for Unity Sound, except for some of the singers. – Thee Opinataur

Martin, Sara -1922-1928 – [Wolf Records]

Thee Opinataur   9/22/2021   12-inch, Blues

These recordings are a mixed bag of recording quality from track to track. Some lyrics are difficult to hear clearly, some fuzzy static which adds a nice raw element to these early blues.  

This album captures a wide range of Sara Martin’s vocal capabilities, from the higher range Achin’ Hearted Blues to a deeper more sensual register in Death Sting Me Blues. While her voice is solidly classic blues, in some of these tunes, she sounds unrelaxed and a bit uptight. She is at her best when she reflects her personality which comes through in ‘Taint Nobody’s Bus’ness If I Do’ and ‘Hole in the Wall’. A couple of nice duets with Clarence Williams, I’m Cert’ny Gonna See ‘Bout That’ and ‘Squabling Blues’ brings out her sassy personality.

Sara Martin (b1884 – d1955) was a well-traveled singer on the African American Vaudeville circuit in the early 20th century. Known as the ‘colored ’ Sophie Tucker’ and The Famous Moanin’ Mama” she was signed by Okeh Records in 1922 and recorded dozens of songs accompanied by the most accomplished musicians of the day including Clarence Williams, King Oliver, and Fats Waller. – Thee Opinataur

Yeats, William Butler -Poetry of Yeats: Read By Siobhan McKenna & Cyril Cusack, – [Caedmon]

Thee Opinataur   9/22/2021   12-inch, A Library

Recorded in 1958

Side A – read by Cyril Cusack – a famous Irish actor of his day, albeit South African born which can be detected in his voice.
These poems drip with a self-examination of human life and death, as Yeats spent much of his life examining. Threaded with somber tones and melancholy, he wastes no words in bearing his true inner self to the listener.

Side B – Read by Siobhan McKenna – Irish stage actor – born in Belfast
This side is filled with many of Yeats romantic and intimate poems of love and sensuality and is beautifully interpreted.

Yeats’s poetry reflects his sheer beauty of words and phrases. Many of his poems were meant to be chanted or sung.

Yeats, in addition to writing some of the best Irish poetry of his day, was also a well-established playwright being co-founder of the Irish National Theater society. While a self-professed Irish protestant, he shared a fascination with occultism and spiritualism which influenced much of his poetry. – Thee Opinataur

Baraka, Imamu Amiri -It’s Nation Time – [Motown Records]

Thee Opinataur   9/22/2021   12-inch, Jazz

Pan-African-themed concept album recorded in Harlem in 1972. Re-released in 2018, Segues between free jazz, R&B, and African drumming. There is a cover of the Supremes song ‘Come See About Me’, (A4), with Baraka adding a spiritual call to ‘Allah’. 

By far the most thought-provoking and articulate, well post-civil rights black awareness album I think I’ve ever heard. Amiri Baraka successfully imparts his message just direct talking politics and beliefs that don’t seem any less relevant listening now than when they were recorded in ’72. The music on here is fantastic too. There is some real sweet Motown soul, deep heavy Afro-centric jazz, not to mention the endless percussion and backing rants vocals and interplay. Poetry is rooted in Black-centric politics, positive and uplifting. Anyways, this blew me away and almost made me a card-carrying member of the Black Nation. Not just a spoken word album, much more, much respect to how the album draws upon jazz, R&B, and Soul that makes everything sound easy. It continues to crescendo into a higher and higher gear. 

Black people from all walks of life get up and get busy to cultivate the consciousness and commitment to come together to build Black institutions, mobilize and organize movements and fight for our liberation “by any means necessary.” It was an “all Black hands on deck” call to action for Black people to join the Black Freedom Struggle and to use whatever we had to achieve victory! and nearly 60 years later, many of these topics are still relevant. – Thee Opinataur

Perry, Lee ‘Scratch’ – Black Ark Classic Songs- [Ariwa]

Thee Opinataur   9/22/2021   12-inch, Reggae

Released in 2016 to commemorate Lee’s 80th birthday

Here we see yet another great collaboration with Lee Perry and Mad Professor giving us some classic Perry cuts a dub over. Cuts are re-recorded, re-vamped, and refreshed Lee has some fun with ‘No More Roast Fish’,  a play on his classic ‘Roast Fish and Cornbread’. Doctor Shit‘ sees Lee re-visit an old Ska classic ‘Doctor Dick!’

Many believe his Black Ark years were Lee’s peak period of creativity, and this album is a great representation with a fresh 21st-century facelift making it all brand new again. 

Amazing career, amazing life until the very end, RIP Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, 1936- 2021. 

 Thee Opinataur

Moon Duo – “Occult Architecture Vol. 1” – [Sacred Bones Records]

SlartiBartfast   9/14/2021   12-inch, A Library

Moon Duo “Occult Architecture Vol. 1”

Another superb musical trip  released by Portland’s Moon Duo. This 2017 release, “Occult Architecture Vol .1” is the first in a dual psychedelic journey through light and dark.  (Occult Architecture Vol 2 in the cue) This first LP in the series explores the darker side or life and hints at demise, death of the human spirit, and prepares listeners for a rebirth. Fuzz guitar, rhythmic pounding, and head jaunting explorations await. Join Moon Duo on a journey through your mind and through the musical expansion of psychic imagination.

El Banda – “Skutki Uboczne (Side Effects) ” – [Pasazer]

SlartiBartfast   9/14/2021   12-inch, A Library

El Banda “Skutki Uboczne”

Hailing from Warsaw, Poland, El Banda brings it with their unique blend of in you face punk energy with occasional sprinklings of an electronic dream scape. Be prepared to engage and confront your angst as front woman, Anna Zajdel, brings it with an energetic vocal energy that doesn’t hold back on the outrage. Fast, furious, and full of surprises, El Banda is a perfect release for that pent up disappointment in the human condition. This double LP release may cure you of all your mental derangements. 

Ocher, Mary – "Mary Ocher + Your Government" – [Klangbad]

Thurston Hunger   9/13/2021   12-inch, A Library

Reprint of 2016 album where the talented tweaker Mary Ocher pits herself between dueling drummers, Stefan Widdess and Oliver Rivera-Drew (aka Your Government) hard at work. The drums keep her grounded, and keep the bpm meter running. Things get off with a blast-off, “#&*” is like a space-chimp hyperventilating, Ocher’s voice often is a third percussive instrument. On other tracks, her voice has razor blade runner sharpness, cutting through spaced lady synths beneath the boys with the beat. Catchy art-pop that could fill the skies nicely next to old floating Silver Apples swarmed by Damaged Bugs. Little guitar strum on the swaggering anthem “The Sound of War” – a song with funk/fury and excellent cold stops. But mostly the music here has bloomed from her rock to artwerk krafted from keyboards. “Man vs Air” at 2:18 begs for a 12″ dancehall remix, synth slithers through the left and right channels. Her Dad reportedly was a voice (and puppet theater) actor! Her vocal gyrations would do her otyez proud! Check out “Now (Fear)” for crazy flair and a serious kookiness. If David Bowie hadn’t been eclipsed by that damn Black Star, she’d probably be opening his next tour (and they’d talk about how they both feel such happy discomfort recording in Berlin). Seems she goes through drummers like Spinal Tap (rough enough for Government workers).

Bonus tip: her evolving visuals won’t disappoint fans of these audio trips!
-Thurston Hunger

Ocher as in “Oh-chen” Horrorshow, my-ee droogs!

Bunnett, Jane and Maqueque – "On Firm Ground/Tierra Firme" – [Linus Entertainment]

aarbor   9/9/2021   12-inch, Jazz

Jane Bunnett is a Canadian alto sax player, flutist and pianist, with many recordings to her credit. With Maqueque she set out to mentor up-and-coming young Cuban women jazz musicians. The group has become very successful playing at high visibility festivals.They are being touted as the “New Queens of Afro-Cuban Jazz”. They are deliberately trying to sidestep the machismo of the Cuban jazz scene and have succeeded, although I find myself wishing for playing with a bit more grit or attitude. AArbor

Brown, James / Live At Home With His Bad Self

carsonstreet   8/31/2021   12-inch, Soul

This album is a complement to the 50th anniversary release of Live at Home With His Bad Self (which itself is an expansion of a 1969 live show that was heavily edited into the LP ‘Sex Machine’), this Record Store Day Black Friday exclusive is the after-show set, featuring extended versions of rare cuts, new mixes, a duet with Marva Whitney and some revealing stage patter.

Davis, Miles / Live In San Juan

carsonstreet   8/31/2021   12-inch, Jazz

By the late ’80s Miles Davis had radically overhauled his style yet again, incorporating prominent synthesizers and using an ever-changing cast of young backing musicians. This remarkable set took place in the intimate setting of the Coach House Concert Hall in San Juan Capistrano, California, on June 15, 1989, and was broadcast on American Public Radio. It features just two tracks, a tribute to Jaco Pastorius from Davis’s 1989 Amandla album and the title-track from 1986’s Tutu. Check out the insert with lots of additional information. This is on serious 180g vinyl and is a UK import.

Mylingar – “Doda Sjalar” – [Amor Fati Productions]

whngr   8/25/2021   12-inch, A Library

Hideous Black Death

Devastatingly ugly bombast. Murky and bleak, unhinged growls and animalistic  howls  through a haze of terror, dissonance, and echoes. Searing guitar riffs, tortured cries, soupy bass, and buried drums propelling misery. An unhinged cacophony in the key of the savage hermit. Sometimes messy, often disjointed, but always reveling in discomfort and despair. A black series of psalms for the worship of the wretched.

From Encyclopedia Metallum: “Mylingar” is the plural of “myling”. In Scandinavian folklore, the word “myling” indicates a wandering ghost of an unbaptized child.

A compelling aside, Metallum also states ‘Members’ as ‘None”.

Tyranny and tortuous ruin without authorship adds value to this fiendishly sickening LP, their third offering in a feast of steaming viscera.

Sweden – 2019

Von Till, Steve – "A Deep Voiceless Wilderness" – [Neurot Recordings]

cinder   8/18/2021   12-inch, A Library

Known for being the vocalist and guitarist in Neurosis… a punishing, heavy band, Von Till’s solo efforts often take a soft departure and venture into new delicate territories. This release is his first solo record without a guitar in hand, opting this time for piano, cello, strings, French horn, mellotron and analog synthesizers, no voice. It’s drifty, ambient, reminiscent, gloomy yet optimistic. The cover art influences a vision of resting on an isolated island, soft winds and gentle waves, while giant moons and ships float by. A ghostly feeling, as if you’re watching your life walk down another path you almost chose.

Bassett, Marcia & Dimuzio, Thomas – "Losing Circles" – [Yew]

cinder   8/18/2021   12-inch, A Library


Collaboration between Buchla heads, Marcia & Thomas. She’s out in Phillie (I think), is a part of Double Leopards, GHQ, and Hototogisu & runs the Yew label that this is released on. Dimuzio is a local guy, known for his modular knobbery. This work explores ‘sound interference, texture, and ultra low-end synth waves’. They met each other at Thomas’s radio show, Frequency Modulation Radio at KFPA up in Berkeley, and then met together again and created this dark, sizzling, experimental noise nest. Crunchy, static, alien radio waves, computer squiggles of the past, cavernous synth sounds.   

Cat Stevens – Harold & Maude Soundtrack

carsonstreet   8/17/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Harold and Maude is a 1971 film that incorporates elements of dark humor and existentialist drama. The plot revolves around Harold Chasen (Bud Cort) who is intrigued with death. Harold drifts away from the life that his detached mother prescribes for him, and slowly develops a strong friendship, and eventually a romantic relationship, with a 79-year-old woman named Maude (Ruth Gordon), a Nazi concentration camp survivor who teaches Harold about the importance of living life to its fullest and that life is the most precious gift of all.

Critically and commercially unsuccessful when originally released, the film developed a cult following and in 1983 began making a profit. The film is ranked number 45 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest Movies of all Time. Much of Harold and Maude was filmed in the bay area including Berkeley, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, Dumbarton Bridge, Emeryville, Golden Gate National Cemetery, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Menlo Park, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, Mori Point, Oakland, Pacifica and the courthouse in Redwood City.

The music in Harold and Maude was composed and performed by Cat Stevens. He had been suggested by Elton John to do the music after John had dropped out of the project. Stevens composed two original songs for the film, “Don’t Be Shy” and “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” and performed instrumental and alternative versions of the songs “On the Road to Find Out”, “I Wish, I Wish”, “Miles from Nowhere”, “Tea for the Tillerman”, “I Think I See the Light”, “Where Do the Children Play?” and “Trouble”. This record is a Record Store Day exclusive on 180g orange vinyl.

Lizards Exist – Lizards Exist

carsonstreet   8/17/2021   12-inch, A Library

Croatian Psychedelic/Space rock band with a new approach to vintage psychedelia. Founded in Zagreb, Croatia in 2011. They played for almost four years, including live concerts, before they went into the studio to record their debut album in March 2014. This self-titled debut was recorded using only vintage equipment (pre-1976) which contributes to its warm and rich sound, typical of the 70’s psychedelic music. Recorded live at Kramasonik Studio, March 2014. It features a very interesting blend of influences including early Pink Floyd, krautrock bands like CAN or Ash Ra Tempel and Canterbury acts like Gong and Soft Machine. This is no exercise in nostalgia it is new, fresh and totally psychy. Album mastered at Abby Road and manufactured in England.

Boris Brozović – drums, percussions, thunder drum
Siniša Mraović – guitars, binson echorec, volume pedal
Roko Margeta – hammond organ, rhodes piano, mellotron, arp 2600 & kawai 100f  synthesizers, roland space echo
Tihomir Zdjelarević – bass, space effects

Flesh World – “Wild Animals In My Life, The” – [Iron Lung Records]

whngr   8/11/2021   12-inch, A Library

Sweet and somber sounds both emotive and indifferent in 4/4.

Depressive (reverb, down to mid-tempo, perspective/lyrical themes) 

Post (reverb, song duration)

Punk (Downstrokes, Distortion)

Local (to San Francisco… at least they were in 2017)

Queer (like most of the local talent they were probably evicted)

Rock (they did, they might again… if you put them on the radio)

Shoegaze (reverb)

Favorite tracks: Poolside Boys (B5), Strawberry Bomber (B6), Here In The Dark (B8)

We may already possess the lion’s share of Flesh World releases but they may have become too recognizable for kfjc to add “The Wild Animals In My Life” to our “underground” library when it was released in 2015 perhaps due to the attention they received by mainstream “hip” “subculture” media outlets. Perhaps we turned our backs on them like their soulless landlords did, maybe Greta Clue left for warmer climes, or could it be that we lost touch with the marginalized youth of our rapidly changing Bay Area? Got old, got lazy, sick, tired, cripled, jaded, and comfortable. I know I did… but I’m not giving up. Not like you. So put the record down and grab a fist full of thumbdrives, let the algorithm do it for you, give ‘er the ol’ “random play” and see how little your tastes have changed in the  the last 40 years ya fuckin’ codger. 

One can read fairly extensively online about Flesh World’s motivation, line-up, and perspective but what one can’t find out is whether they still exist. Do so and you might, like I did, discover that they are queer (a fact which eluded me, lummox that I am. An online article even stated, “…you’d have to be pretty dense not to get where they’re coming from”). That’s cool. It doesn’t matter much to me how an artist might get their kicks (though I am a huge fan of consent) but I recognize (more so in recent years) that being queer informs a slew of aspects around creative output… and I know that my favorite artists tend not to be that “well adjusted” so how you identify is fine with me. Just know that I think it is important that you hurt. Temper your art against the anvil of suffering. Do it again. Get strange. Get dark. Get relevant. And if at all possible stay… in the (once far more queer) Bay Area. Do it for me, do it for the art, and do it, if for no other reason, than to piss off your landlord.

Electric Moon – “Stardust Rituals” – [Sulatron Records]

SlartiBartfast   8/10/2021   12-inch, A Library

Electric Moon – “Stardust Rituals”

Dark, heavy, psychedelic, Krautrock on Electric Moon’s 5th studio release “Stardust Rituals”. Released in 2017, “Stardust Rituals” guides you through a heavy guitar and bass lead journey through the galaxy that will keep your musical soul entranced. Electric Moon delights the senses  laying down swaying, fuzzed out, psychedelic loops with the occasional infusions of e-sitar, Mellotron, and more that lead to musical….trips of your own experience. Strap on your space helmets dear listeners, and enjoy the Stardust.

Papir – “Jams” – [Stickman Records]

SlartiBartfast   8/10/2021   12-inch, A Library

Papir – “Jams”

Strap yourselves in, adjust your space helmets, and enjoy the cosmic space dust that Papir emanates on this double 12” LP. Papir is a psychedelic, space rock trio out of Copenhagen, Denmark that have been spreading their brand of space jams since 2010. Pushing the boundaries of how improvised, psychedelic, space jams are defined, Papir have driven this live, improvised jam session to new cosmic heights. “Jams” was recorded live, in studio during two recording sessions in January of 2020. Find your comfy chair, relax your mind, and let Papir blast you off to new galactic wonders.

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