KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Bailey, Derek/ Goodman, Greg – “Extracting Fish-Bones From The Back of The Despoiler” – [Beak Doctor, The]

Max Level   11/6/2018   12-inch, Jazz

Two side-long tracks (20 and 21 minutes) of entertaining guitar/piano adventures recorded live in 1992. Bailey practically invented the language of modern improvised guitar and is in good form on this recording– scratching and jabbing, and occasionally projecting electric flurries of sound. Pianist Goodman spends little if any time playing the piano keys during these performances, concentrating instead on producing unusual sounds from the interior of the instrument. I could describe this record as a lot of plinking and plunking, but that would be selling it short– dedicated listeners will find some inspired music-making going on here. Well-recorded and a high quality pressing on heavyweight vinyl, too.

Phew – “Voice Hardcore” – [Mesh Key]

lexi glass   11/6/2018   12-inch, A Library

Recently, we added Light Sleep, an album that marked the reawakening of Hiromi Moritani’s decades-running solo project Phew. This extraordinary 2017 follow-up leaves behind the Suicide-inspired drum machines and synths. Instead, the works here are built entirely from Moritani’s powerful voice. Her vocals rise and multiply in droning, demonic choruses (T1, T4), her moans are destroyed and distorted by effects (T2), her repeated phrases spin in circles (T3), and her spoken word poetry, in Japanese, moves through these surreal soundscapes (T2). “In the Doghouse” (T5) gave me flashbacks to playing that Furious Pig record during late night graveyard shifts, though Phew’s composition is much more anguished and beautiful, and “Sonic Morning” (T6) ends the record with a soft, droning dawn. Spellbinding.

Dial – “Noise Opera” – [Feeding Tube Records]

lexi glass   10/30/2018   12-inch, A Library

Noise rock opus from this long-running avant-garde project. Dial formed in the 90s, when Jacqui Ham, previously a member of New York no-wave legends Ut, teamed up with Dom Weeks from Furious Pig and Rob Smith on drum machines and guitar for the trio’s first release, 1996’s Infraction. They released three more records over the next decade or so (these three in our library). This latest 2016 digital release was issued this year on vinyl by Feeding Tube. Two massive sidelong storms of guitar feedback, relentless rhythmic turmoil, synth sirens wailing like tapes sped up and slowed down. For brief moments the swells subside as Ham delivers her spoken word incantations. A powerful brew that will intoxicate fans of free jazz (this is Dial’s tribute to Ornette Coleman’s genre-defining 1968 album), Sonic Youth, the Dead C, and all forms of psychedelic oblivion.

Platonos, Lena – “Lepidoptera” – [Dark Entries]

lexi glass   10/9/2018   12-inch, A Library

Lena Platonos’ career in electronic music stretches back to the 1980s, but it’s only now that audiences outside of her native Greece are discovering her stellar work. For that we have to once again thank Dark Entries, that put out vinyl re-releases of her first three albums, 1984’s Sun Masks (added to our library a couple years back), 1985’s Gallop, and this LP from 1986.

Lepidoptera is the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths that undergo metamorphosis during development. The lyrics (included in the liner notes in the original Greek with an accompanying English translation) examine this theme of transformation. Platonos reflects on a young child at play (T4) and a notebook found in the street filled with the handwritten fragments of a schoolgirl’s life (T8), or paints more abstract scenes with her poetry. Her expressive voice – in verses sung or whispered, and filtered through electronic prisms – and piano playing contrast with offbeat electronics sounds – synths, drum machines, weird sound effects – to create moods from mysterious (T1, T4, T7) to dramatic (T6, T9), inquisitive (T2, T3) and joyful (T5). Bizarre, beautiful, a fascinating specimen of an album.

Modorra – “Putrid, The” – [Plague Island]

Lord Gravestench   10/7/2018   12-inch, A Library

Modorra (Spanish for ‘Drowsiness’) is a Death Metal project from the Islamic Republic of Sweden, boasting strong patinae of grindcore and punk. Coming from Gothenberg, they have a very particular sound looming over them in a historical sense, but this is absolutely not melodic DM: the closest they get to Entombed is in occasionally sounding like Nihilist– and is that not just the recording quality? I might as well say they sound like Hellhammer in that case (they kind of do).

Ultra-low-fi, scratchy, crackly shit pressed to 300 copies of 45rpm 12″ made from harvested gender-neutral cartilage instead of vinyl. Decked with D-beats and splattery grind blasts. The mad and jaundiced rickety rush for the end is in line with the kangpunk bands for which Sweden is also known, e.g. Mob 47. Thankfully no politics here, just decay and violence. Singer sounds like he’s about to throw up throughout. Lyrics are actually semi-intelligible. Have seen them described as Grindcore, but this is encrusted old-school DEATH worship appealing to KFJC’s extensive collection of Necrot, Abscess, and Repulsion releases. I think this was recorded drunk. I hope so.

Lithics – “Mating Surfaces” – [Kill Rock Stars]

Thurston Hunger   10/3/2018   12-inch, A Library


Portland Oregon four piece deliver the first full
length, picking up where their “Borrowed Floors” EP
left off. Angular anger, packed in little brittle
post-punk cuts. A weird blend of panic and calm,
especially in the husky numeric singing of Aubrey
Hornor. Her guitar combined with Mason Crumley’s
spark up a kind of minimal take on Television.
Mostly barre-chord-free, “Still Forms” has a sleazy
breeze to it, half chords on the half shell. Is it
their accidental take on reggae? “Boyce” closes side
A with a sort of slow police siren guitar interplay.
“Cheryl” is a steady song of unsteadiness, sounds
as if Aubrey’s singing “I’m not sure…I’m not sure.”
Vocal repetition and tight riffs chase themselves a lot.
Most of the album though builds energy when bassist
Bob Desaulniers can get a little more involved, and
drummer Wiley Hickson can pick up the pace. Songs
like “Edible Door” (!!) and “Excuse Generator” hit
like tiny TIA’s. With lyrics that saw your corpus callosum
in half, they feel like they are left over from a redacted
diary. But your knees are still working…old punk
dancing guy. That last track has a nice bizarro break,
beat poet with noisy improv.

Regis – “Manbait” – [Blackest Ever Black]

Thurston Hunger   10/3/2018   12-inch, A Library


Four Regis-sides offer eight different remixes. Karl O’Connor
is Regis, this collection processes a variety of artists, but
pummelled and polished into bleakest ever bleak glory by Regis.
O’Connor is also part of Cub and was Family Sex when he was
younger (which sounds nastier than it should.) Anyways this
collection holds together well, and if you are in for one
spin, you are likely in for all. It starts with a killer take
on Ike Yard’s “Loss” retaining the chopped up vocals (sounding
like a police radio scrambled) but adds low-end synth helicopter
that helps the voices to grate. Things get even murkier after
that for Dalhous’ “He Was Human and Belonged with Humans”
the voices here are not chopped but dropped into a vortex of
sound. The Regis recipe involves a deep bass, with a
relatively minimal but maximally brutal approach. Slices
of industrial sounds are burnished in with the beats, lots
of times I find the end of a remix (like “Blood Witness”
and “This Foundry” perk my ears up as the suffocating
darkness separates for a moment). But then again the label
is Blackest Ever Black. The closing remix of “Plant Lilies
at My Head” is the least driven, flowery by comparison
to the others. Heavy hitting otherwise, especially that
opening duo. Get Beat Up. -Thurston Hunger

Boy Harsher – “Lesser Man (Extended Version) EP” – [Nude Club]

Thurston Hunger   10/3/2018   12-inch, A Library


Motorcycle girl without a helmet pulls up beside you on the
freeway, never looks once at you, while you gaze at her. Casually,
she flips you off and then speeds off as her exhaust fills your
stupid sensible sedan. The exhaust tastes like this…

From the first thick bass synth notes, pitch shifted for your
discomfort, to the husky croak of Jae Matthews’ voice and
the well-tuned old school synths and drum machines, this
2014 cassette ep re-released on black vinyl spins a disco
dirge might beckon KFJC’s Belladonna back onto the dance
floor. Or the killing floor.

Agent Augustus Muller is Matthews’ partner in crime, the two
concoct a dark wave that is just about pitch wheel perfect,
his musical ambience and her vocal and pineal ache. If David
Lynch brings back his music show Twin Peaks for a third run,
and lets the still not-dead John Carpenter curate an episode,
expect this duo to wind up at the Roadhouse.

Coming out of Northampton (black?) Mass these days, but
spawned in Savannah, the same soil that Jarboe crawled
out of. Southern synth Goth at its most damned divine.

Side A slays, “Love” on side B is quite dizzying.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” – [Castle Face Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/3/2018   12-inch, A Library

Fuzz from Ozzz. 2014 release from his hard-working septet from Melbourne. They roll with two drummers in case one of them has to go to the bathroom or have a heart attack, right when a guitarist is hitting his groove. Side A pretty much tracks straight on through, some kind of funky tape edits and manipulation at times, but the jams aren’t going to kick themselves out. How much do they love their 1-4-5 drive to stay alive on this release, they pay a guy to play harmonica. Paying their rhythm and dues! Stu Mackenzie is the guiding force, on this album he’s got the boys on a journey to the center of the pysch earth. He pens some killer hooks and is not afraid to bust out the flute when needed. Other albums (they release 3 every
15 days or somesuch) go for more prog moves, or more chipper pop (at other times his voice and songs remind me of Game Theory).
But this 12″ released in conjunction with Thee Oh Sees’ label is a solid modern hippy trip (they even borrow John Dwyer’s Boss effect that gives guitars and vocal yelps electronic quick hiccups).
B side offers a more mellow shade of fuzz. Fans of the Liverpool Psych fests, should enjoy the riff wrath.

Hogg – “Self Extinguishing Emission” – [SCRAPES]

lexi glass   10/2/2018   12-inch, A Library

This 2018 LP is the fourth release from Hogg, a Chicago duo known for their writhing, raging electronic punk. Each track staggers between stark contrasts: vocals that range from spoken word chants to black metal screams, rhythms that shift from plodding bass thumps to propulsive minimal beats, guitars that growl with noisy feedback or launch into sharp rhythmic attacks. This tension is reflected in the lyrics, that express the strain of being pulled in opposite directions – between self-confidence and self-doubt, between determination and exhaustion, between the longing to draw people near and the urge to stab them in the face. At times I’m reminded of bands from our own local scene (Stillsuit or especially Jeweled Snakes), and after spending a week letting this record worm into my brain, I really hope Hogg come out here and join them for a show sometime. Released by Alex Barnett’s (in our library) new label Scrapes.

Alto! – “LP3” – [Trouble In Mind]

Phil Phactor   9/19/2018   12-inch, A Library

Pit veterans Alto! return with their third LP and they’re sticking with their track naming strategy, which means we start off with ‘Piece 14.’ Bells and hand percussion are soon joined by a chunky synth melody and then—woah, is that a whistle—we’re off into Señor Coconut territory. Do not miss the killer flute solo a little over halfway through. There’s the occasional sinister guitar stab, but combustion will have to wait, as this weirdo world groover stays the course. The next track, ‘Piece 12,’ opens with some late-night minor-key guitar noodles, and then BOOM, depress the pedal and it’s just non-stop doom riffage. Eventually the dust settles, and we’re back to our Tunisian opium den. A bongo player emerges out of the shadows, and it’s all over. Or is it? The flip is marked as two tracks, but they track together to form an extended percussion and synth workout in the vein of the opener. Has the torch of the mystics been passed?

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 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.