Music Reviews

Kool and the Gang – “Kool and the Gang” – [De-Lite Records]

karma   6/3/2023   12-inch, Soul

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since the Johnson administration, you know Kool and the Gang. This is their 1969 debut album, 4 years before ‘Jungle Boogie’ and their mainstream success of the 70s. This all instrumental album is a prototype of the band that became a household name. This album is R&B focused as opposed to their later funk/disco releases, and has been reissued on beautiful purple vinyl.

Xantotol – “Thus Spake Zaratustra” – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

whngr   5/31/2023   12-inch, A Library


Minimalist, ugly and relatively short-lived low fidelity black/doom metal with woozy and morose synthesizer interludes.

Very early 2nd wave out of Poland with a genuine investment in Satanism. Formed by Mala (gtr,vox) and Jacek “Venom” Szczepańsk (drms) in 1991 who would go on to create the Fullmoon Collective, a resource for disseminating Satanic literature and philosophy throughout Poland by connecting to international Satanic groups including, Order Of Nine Angels (UK), and Luciferian Light Group (USA). Influenced by Swiss projects Hellhammer and Samael, Xantotol was perhaps the first Polish trvly black metal project, eschewing interest in Paganism, National Socialism, ancestral worship or indeed anything coming from Scandinavia at the time who Szczepansk believes were still primarily playing death metal at Xantotol’s inception .

Kutno, Poland – 1995

Divide and Dissolve “Gas Lit” [Invada Records]

atavist   5/28/2023   12-inch, A Library

This is the third LP from this Melbourne-based project made up of Takiaya Reed and Sylvie Nehill. It begins with Reed’s strangely lilting and looping saxophone harmonies, subsequently joined by a powerful fusillade of Reed’s massive guitar work and drums by Nehill. The second track further examines the dimensions of slow drums played hard and layers of blasted, droning guitar. The third track is a spoken-word piece featuring Minori Sanchiz-Feng with a minimal backing track. The fourth track closes out Side A with themes reminiscent of the first track. Side B drops in with a jolt of higher tempo, high-energy attack. Divide and Dissolve conjure some sublime and harrowing textures, exhibited in Side B’s second track, seeking out their own unique interpretation of the doom genre they are most readily (if somewhat uneasily) associated with. They are not necessarily about making the listener comfortable. Their sound is an expression of the weight of history they carry with them. They seek to rattle the injustice of the world out of the walls and crevices where it lurks and breeds. Turn it way up.

Rush, Loren – “Dans Le Sable” – [Recital]

humana   5/25/2023   12-inch, A Library

This is an exquisite album that is the most recent release from pianist, composer, and digital sound artist Rush. He was one of the co-founders of Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Side One showcases Rush’s piano, Charles Shere’s narration, and Renee Grant-Williams’ soprano. The chamber ensemble offers a lovely backdrop to all that is going on. Side Two features Song and Dance, commissioned by Seiji Ozawa and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and “Dance” especially features Rush’s cacophonous computer treatments of the music. This is a must-listen, especially if you’re fond of classical music.

Bessel, Eric Angelo – “Visitation” – [Lore City]

humana   5/24/2023   12-inch, A Library

The liner notes written by Bessel himself are a perfect description of how this ambient music sounds: as if you are looking up through the depths of the ocean, watching the sun’s rays filtering dreamily through the water. Bessel composed and arranged these songs and played the mellotron that on some tracks (especially on Side B) make you feel as though you are present in some church or space where reverence is as natural as the sounds sifting through your ears. Dream on.

Dragon Disc 2 [coll] – [Worm Interface]

aarbor   5/24/2023   12-inch, A Library

An early Worm Interface release that Goodwrench undoubtedly found in an obscure place. Tom Jekinson (Squarepusher) offers 2 memorable track here along with two from “Dunderhead” (Nigel Smith) – his debut as it turns out. Jenkinson is better known – perhaps deservedly. AArbor

Bodikhuu – “Tokyo” – [Farsi]

aarbor   5/24/2023   12-inch, Hip Hop

Bodikhuu lives in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and creates hip hop in his home with “the luxury of my own privacy and space”. This is his newest release which is about Japan – which he has never visited. “I wanted to portray the ’80s Japanese atmosphere through my style… it represents the tremendously busy lifestyle of Tokyo – subway stations, roads, towers, factories, monotonous and lonely lives of people in it. Even though I have never been there this is my way of saying that I have seen the place. All the samples come from city pop, j-pop, Japanese jazz & funk music”. Don’t miss! AArbor

Panfilov, Misha – “The Sea Will Outlive Us All” – [Miraaz Records]

Albion Moonlight   5/17/2023   12-inch, A Library

This album may be best described as underwater space music. Consisting of 9 sea-themed instrumental tracks, Estonian multi-instrumentalist and composer Misha Panfilov and his small cohort delve into the nexus of electric lounge, psych jazz, ambient, and a little bit of surf. Ranges from soothing and dreamy to more defined grooves. Nice touches with the Mellotron and Wurlitzer. Maybe we are skating at an underwater roller rink?

The subtitle of the album says ‘Musical patterns by…’ , and Panilov incorporates patterns heavily into his music. A couple of the tracks sound like there is a human voice but it may just be the sounds of sirens beckoning you to a watery demise. Stay a while, dip in your toes. Favorite tracks: #2 (dreamy) #3 (groove) #5 (dreamy) #6 (surf) #8 (catchy) #9 (most orchestrated – wurlitzer?).


Underground River – “Life Cycle, Delicate Song” – [Nudie Records]

karma   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Solo project of upstate NY-based Hunter Davidsohn. This album fuses the best of pop and psychedelia. The tracks are short for KFJC standards, but they are deep, rich, and full of baroque chord structures. Innovative left-field recording techniques and psychedelic sounds give the album a sound that somehow is firmly both in the 60s tradition and contemporary interest.

Fictional Colours – “Love Song Generation” – [Self Release]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Dual-tracked vox with forked-tongue lyrics over hegrooving little rock and rollerblading numbers. Fresh (2020?) from the Oakland pavement. Ben Griggs strings and sings, Eric Faggin on jdrums, and some bass and he even sings on “Earthquake Kid.” You know you could capitalize that P in Pavement as this feels like a lost gem from when indie wasn’t necessarily mandatory (along those lines, pretty sure this vinyl is a sweet self-release. Unless the Squealer label wants to make a comeback?). Lyrics jump across history, we’ve got Watergate Babies, Governor Moonbeam and dishes stacked up in the sixties, look ma all hands, no washing machine. I dig the sprawl/jangle guitars, and Eric’s drumming is a trip (check “Civil War Surfing Buff”), but ultimately the lyrics filled my brain stein to the brim, mixing inside rhymes with outdoor crimes (falling from a plow and a bridge, sterilized lips, Earthquake Kid comes with multiple trips to the ER, California is on fire). “Tomorrow Tijuana” comes with a full tank and Ami Robbins’ trumper riding shotgun. Smooth ride, not a pothole for miles.

-Thurston Hunger

Iko – “’83 & Extra Studio Works” – [Le Backstore / On The Roof]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Reissue of Montreal trio, with a love of synth and lyrics often citing movement (elevators, escalators, subways) make it hard not to hop on the Autobahn. Gatefold liner notes connect the KfrafTwerk motorvation while spelling out the IKO recipe – aka “Intelligence Knowledge Orgasm” Some of the songs seem to have that old nerdy need for non-automaton relations. Digital pheromones for the luteinizing hormones? The sound is heavily sequenced keyboard programming with those little key shift move up, move down moments. Quaint quasi-robotic singing and happy little handclaps, there’s a kind of retro-techno cosmopolitan optimism that would make chatbots of today smile. The first record is a reissue of their debut (and only official album from ’83) it’s very clean and percolating. I dig the bonus material unearthed on the second record (at 45 rpm!!!) – a little murkier and hypnotic. “Surrender to the Dream” what a nice way to go.

-Thurston Hunger

Dark Canyon – “Dark Canyon” – [Nudie Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Once Upon a Time in the Midwest. Dark Canyon comes riding out of the long cinematic shadows of Chicago. We get The Good, the Bad and the Very-Well-Produced in this devoted homage from Mike Novak to guitar-inflected Westerns a la Morricone and Leone. For the imaginary soundtrack flair, there is a lot of tumbleweed acoustic guitar work, along with that sort of clean/dirty distorted/reverb electric guitar on top. Gleaming trumpets recorded atop mesas shine high, subtle and steady drum work here and there, a flute wanders in like a child through a gun fight. the Grosby choir soars whenever they appear, a jaw harp slithers in, a mellotron circles the wagon. The instros oscillate between lonely fugitive fugues and heroic crescendos. A couple of pieces feature vocals, “Through The Badlands” and “Old Blood Runs Thick” and “Pray for Rain” along with the familiar cover “A Taste of Honey” to close. Does the album have whistling on it? You bet, not just the last track but do not miss the towering “Bullets” as well. The album clearly is a labor of love, including the packaging with a gatefold full of the bandidas and bandidos who worked with Novak on this lp. In a way Novak here reminded me of Adrian Younge, modern studio sorcerers able to polish up every cranny and crag of sound that hearkens back while shining now. Dark Canyons in vinyl grooves well worth exploring. I’ll be curious to see if Novak pines for his own gold or becomes in demand by other audio pioneers.

-Thurston Hunger

Earth Room – “Earth Room” – [Related States]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Brooklyn trio led by Robbie Lee on woodwinds, creating improv instros that feel like electro-organic music. Electronic effect and synthesizers swaddle tracks, at times a drone-esque chill but definitely active. I think the fact that the drummer+ John Thayer engineered the recording was key. I dig how he pushes songs thru transitions (embrace the “Empty Way/Full Way”) Thayer adds a lot of electronics and even some fender rhodes to the albums more shimmering moments. Ezra Feinberg completes the trio on various strings including electric ukulele. All of side A, but especially the opening “Bridge of Waves” feels like the perfect early dawn greeting. The “Sound on Sound” is Lee tracking multi-rivers of bass clarinet. Side B starts with the most jazz-inflected playing but paired with a sorta John Carpenter foreboding vibe. “Owl Light” vibrates with both wind-blown squalls & sweeping synth ambience. In all, a sense of relaxed concentration.

-Thurston Hunger

Theodor – “Theodor” – [Broc Recordz]

aarbor   5/2/2023   12-inch, A Library

THEODOR is a gently psychedelic sweet soul band formed by 4 guys with diverse musical backgrounds.

Whilst on a road trip to Italy Rob Herz (drums) and Lui Hill (vocals and percussion) were listening to tapes of contemporary soul music. They decided to record an album channeling a moody and relaxed soundscape. After their trip they invited their friends Max Schneider (vocals and keyboards) and Greg Pignede (bass) to join them. They wrote and recorded during the pandemic. THEODOR could be the soundtrack for a hot and humid summer day with “a magic dash in your twelve o’clock tea”. The melodic bass lines are playful and the soulful acoustic drums build the container for the warm and dreamy keys: farfisa organs, fender rhodes and 80’s synths. The lush instrumentals are complemented by the very different (yet complementary) voices of Max and Lui. The band is named after a 24 year old cat who hung around while they were recording. Not heavy, just fun. AArbor

Clavicvla – “Degeneracy of The 5th Density” – [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]

whngr   4/26/2023   12-inch, A Library

Dark-Ambient Death Mantras

Disembodied voices of the damned (and the possessed) screech through deep blackened drones. Eight tracks from the sole, and apparently, spiritually active mind of one, Ittiel. In interviews he has stated that Clavicvla should be listened to loud in a dark room to allow the penetrating effect of sound to elevate the consciousness and references both Buddhist and acosmistic (the denial of the reality of the universe and the belief that everything is an illusion; recognizing only the “infinite unmanifest Absolute [sic] as real”) philosophies. A sharply honed ideology exists (if anything truly does) behind intensely deliberate but minimal soundscapes that feel like an embrace of The Void, nihilism and of death.

Ittiel has a background in black metal (explore the more traditional instrumentation on his album, “Arsonist Prophets”) and dwells somewhere in:

Italy – 2022

Eteraz – “Villain” – [Iron Lung Records]

whngr   4/26/2023   12-inch, A Library

Militant, Iranian, female-fronted, epiglottal plosive, D-beat/HXC in Farsi from the PNW.

Terrifyingly aggressive delivery from the entire cadre but the intensely confrontational vokills of front-woman Elika will steal the soul. Chainsaw guitars, laser-eyed ogre fueled bass, and machine gun drums on an unnecessarily well recorded album from Iron Lung. Many songs track or have miniscule pauses betwixt. “Innocent” bystanders may be strafed with a potentially (definitely) inflammatory anti-American/capitalist/hegemonic and (possibly) anti-Caucasian messages, though the lyrics are written in Persian one may acquire hints of the vitriolic content from the album (and track) title(s) as well as the incendiary cover-art. Danger abounds on this violence-positive EP.

NO discernable FCC’s and NO FUCKING MERCY!

Oly/WA – 2022

George, Camilla – “Ibio-Ibio” – [!K7 Records]

aarbor   4/25/2023   12-inch, International

Camilla George is a Tomorrow’s Warriors graduate, an alto saxophone player, bandleader and composer who is making big waves in the New London Jazz scene. This is her latest release from 2022. She wrote all the music and co-produced this album. Camilla was born in Eket, Nigeria. She is proud to be from the Ibibio people who are considered the most ancient of all the ethnic groups in Nigeria. This album tells the story of the creation of the ibibio and the legend of Abasi the supreme ruler/God of the universe and his wife Atai – goddess of mediation. It’s a celebration of roots, creation and community. The sound is afrobeat, hip hop and jazz. The musicians are mostly from Tomorrow’s Warriors. AArbor

Wagner Ödegård – “Om Kosmos Och De Tolv Järtekn” – [Altare Productions]

whngr   4/20/2023   12-inch, A Library

Ancient Scandinavian pop ditties from the hollow hearth of an uncommon and brilliant sonic mage with few if any rivals.

I refuse to dissect the sounds on this LP as it would only cheapen the material, but I will say that it is genuine, dark, arcane, visceral, cerebral, and above all unique. The very personal treatise of a man on a journey to the center of himself, without regard to the whims or judgement of those that would deign to think of him as a peer. This is the doctrine of his spirit. His truth, without pretense.

Ödegård’s lyrics are written and vocalized in several historic languages including classic ancient Swedish, Proto-Germanic, Gothic, and young ancient Swedish with easy translation into English being difficult to impossible though he has stated that lyrical content is very important to him and that he is “… damn proud of them” utilizing friends and (I can only presume rather bookish) contacts to verify the grammar is correct though he often employs “strange syntax” to further his singular vision and reinforce his appreciation of his Scandinavian heritage.

Wagner Ödegård aka. Kumulonimbus began pushing air amidst the “third wave” with black metal luminary, Tomhet but more recently has worked primarily alone with his solo projects, Wulkanaz,  Wagner Ödegård, Jærtecken, Dughpa and others. Fiercely prolific with a broad range of instrumentation, modes, and tones but always raw, preferring to record to tape and eschewing modern digital technology; always cultivating his diverse and compelling sound and will often employ synthesizer to haunting effect and perverse hooks that lock into ones mind like the talons of a fearsome snowy owl. 

Mora, Sweden – 2020

Why Bother? – “Lacerated Nights” – [Feel It Records]

whngr   4/20/2023   12-inch, A Library

Fun Synth Punk

Downstrokes, synth, conventional drums, more synth, rock and reverb.

It is worth saying that the word “fun” for this miserable volunteer probably isn’t nearly as much of an endorsement as it is for you (and most of humanity), I want power, I want effect, I want to be grabbed by the lapels and have you sonically spit in my mouth. I want to be tested and transmuted by what I hear. I don’t want to have “fun”. Even though I’m never looking for it, it does, on occasion, happen… and apparently I have yet to lose entirely that tiny scrap of innocence, that small shred of vitality… let us call it youthful exuberance that when I find myself kinda shaking my ass a little, air drumming, and thinking about that girl I once saw with the short, dyed black hair and the crimson lips who danced to the music without a lick of self-consciousness, as if no one in the world were watching, as if the boys weren’t falling for her like bombs every time she smiled… which was nearly perpetual. This album for me is “fun” in the best possible way, irreverent to the extreme (trigger warning for track B5 “Stalker’s Stare” [sexual predation]) and often morbid, drenched in reverb and clearly dosed (A6 “Clouds”). An escape from the horrors of reality without pretending that they don’t exist. However, these guys are about as subtle like a sledge hammer and as acute as a magic eight-ball. I tend to prefer my humor, especially in music, to be as dry tinder and razor sharp; and these songs are dripping wet… in every possible sense. You’re gonna have to wring out your panties folks, maybe wash off your unit… ’cause this one is a fucking blast. 


Mason, IA – 2022

Blade Runner 2049 [coll] – [Epic]

whngr   4/20/2023   12-inch, Soundtrack

Transcendent Cinematic Synthesizer (with a pinch of colorectal cancer)

An epic soundtrack that overshadows a film that needn’t have been made. What a disappointing end to a glorious intellectual property. One might call it… a travesty. Stunning in visual design and execution but devoid of the original film’s spirit and engaging storyline. The sound however was unbelievable. Absolutely beyond arresting, the swells and the timber, the power and ability to be evocative… just off the charts. It’s almost too much, and in a theatre with the full arsenal of professional acoustic implements, especially the subwoofers, fuck me, that was one of the best arual experiences I have had in the cinema. Lucky for me ’cause it won’t play again on a system of that quality in my (likely apocalyptic) near future but you’ll get a taste of it in Master studio (when everything is working), our monitors are pretty fucking good. Just peg the volume and drink in the bass on this one boys… you’ll get your fix. 

Lilting, pensive, dark, ethereal, futuristic, the full gamut of emotions are here, fear, hope, longing, regret, if it can happen in a world at the end of civilization, it is present in this soundtrack. It bears mentioning that these two wizards of the synthesizer do their absolute damndest to fill the impossibly magnificent boots worn by Vangelis on the original hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, even including a near reprisal on the track “Tears In the Rain” (D2), but to Zimmer and Wallfisch’s credit, Vangelis did have the incredible majesty of a genuine Science Fiction masterwork behind them. At least I thought it was… ’til I saw this load of codswallop. 

And on that note… the closing track, and the only reason this LP is filed under Collections and not where it belongs, in the Z’s is due to the utter abomination that is pinched off at the end of this album, the track “Almost Human” by, Nobody Givesatoss is such a wretched pile of highly commercial film industry pap that I have seriously considered taking a bit of 100 grit silicon carbide to the closing 3/4 inches of side D (though I have kept it on my hard drive to remember what I truly loathe) and if I hear you playing that piece of shit on my source… we are gonna have words. 

Hans Zimmer appears to be one of the current golden boys of the most bloated of Hollywood’s film industry franchise molesters and got his start on the 80’s television series, Moonlighting. Schoenfisch is a London-born composer who has also supped at the teat of Hollywood in recent years and though I have seen few of the other films they have scored, either individually or the other one they worked on together (maybe I should check it out), they are capable of making totally devastating sounds together. Hopefully they won’t be hired for Full Metal Jacket II: Afghanistan Now.

Hollywood – 2017

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