Deerhunter – s/t (Stickfigure Records)
Tight and dirty rock sound with standard song structures delivered with undoubtedly above standard, angry and pissed off vocals. Riffs reminiscent of SoCal early 90’s rock (Drive Like Jehu’s 1st, Distorted Pony) are hypercharged by the vocalist’s undying conviction that everything is still fucked – thus the necessity for a refrain of the straight ahead pissed off rock sound. 2 gtr-bs-dr with some other stuff occasionally dubbed on top, this foursome from Atlanta definitely give an urgent sound to otherwise familiar structures in this debut release.
3w: Repenting is Weakness
Deerhunter – s/t (Stickfigure Records)
1982 sounds like next week. Pope’s tenor pumps
nectar over Cornell Rochester’s passionate
percussion and Gerald Veasley’s force-to-be-
reckoned-with electric bass. You heard me,
electric…normally that sends a shiver in
one ear, down the spine, back up and out the
other ear…electric bass in jazz can sound
like a rubber tree in a cartoon. The range
and expression of the upright tower over its
cousin. But this is exceptional, Veasley is
nimble, from deep-fried rumble to lighter
than air harmonics. This release should get
some nice crossover on plenty of shows. At
times there’s a manic power that makes you
think of Japan’s Ruins. Besides a secret
tunnel to rock, there’s another big one to
funk. Still the thrill to the ride is Pope’s
sweet sax sermonizing, matched by his often
heart-stopping (and in some spots heart-
shattering) composition. Drums were recorded
a bit flat…but everything else soars. This
is a blessing from on high.
A hippy vibe with Black Pride coming from the flip side of
Motown Records. This album oozes “lanquidity” coasting from
note to note. I preferred the first side, guided by label
co-founder and trombonist, Phil Ranelin. He keeps bassist
Charles Eubanks popping, and then adds vocals from Jeamel
Lee on two tracks to pour a little Angela Davis gasoline
on the simmering warmth. By the time that side ends, he’s
built up a firecracker of a number with “How Do We End
All Of This Madness” on which he sings as well. Ranelin’s
trombone adds to the curvaceousness of this release, only a
few moments of Wendell Harrison’s sax spike up out of the
mellifluous melange. What holds this all together, and
maybe holds the spiking solos back, is the omnipresence of
electic piano. It’s just an instrument that fills, often
prettily, but rarely commands. It is more dominant, along
with some flute on the side that Harrison composed. Some
30 years later, Ranelin is still rolling, co-creating his
own label with artistic control back then showed a lot of
foresight and soulful sound.
Croak and dagger noise from Masami Akita. Rolling out the
limited (1/1000) “frog-colored” vinyl smacks of crafty
merchandising, but the album smacks of pain that you would
hope for. The concept could be as simple as Merzbow himself
dialing the resistors just right to get a virtual frog
sample that belches forth on the A-side, but I prefer to
think the “Frog” monniker is to represent an amphibious
nature to this release. There are moments that this almost
leaps out to the dance floor, geiger click, hep repetition
and jackhammer isometrics create a sort of tadpole techno.
There’s some faux locked grooves, but grooves nonetheless.
But then we get a cathode-arcing bipolar blitz, sheer
shrieking audio assault. Side A takes a while for the hail
of electric fire to rain down, it ends with a sputtering
disintegration. Those merciless moments subside on the
B-side, not that it’s unnoise; it still annoys but the
presence of Rana rhythm over the dank clank of dungeons
provides for vivid sections. Seems like he’s tossing in
reversing sounds as well. Merzbow’s white noise is the
sum of a lot of colors.
Rose continues his path from Pelt straight to the heart of
a twelve-string soul. The A-side featues a darker current,
thick ropes of vibration…bubbling up the neck of the
guitar on the lower deep end strings. Near flamenco finger
flicking starts “black pearls from the river.” On “tower of
babel” the frenzied fingers give way to bouncy swipes at
the end of that track. On the B-side, it seems like a Rose
made a conscious effort to work the upper strings more, the
sound is brighter, but still brass rattling. With the higher
notes, we can hear the sympathetic halo of echo shining
through easy. As the record spins towards its end, Rose
chose to slow down his playing…the earlier fast ripples of
arpeggios now separate into more distinct drops of guitar
rain, beads of sound. Thornless and acoustic black.
Another intoxicating reissue of Addis abadass
Ababa sounds. We get more music-to-slink-to
this time cut off from the vocal gyrations
that the other Ethiopique collections carried.
The rhythms have quick ebb-and-flow feelings,
the scales used seem to always push the
listener towards a resolution while at the
same time away from that tonic note. The
second side here moves out of the shadows
into a more jovial, or more plain ol’ R&B
area of import/export. We have many of
these renditions in alternate (somewhat
more powerful if you like those wailing
vox) versons. Still this is a quick exotic
trip. Eat it with your fingers and ears.
The initial release (we already have V2) for this series
and for this label run by Nemo Bidstrup in Maine. Lovers
of lexicon note that ENTOPTIC as you might guess refers
to objects situated within the eye; esp. relating to the
perception of objects in one’s own eye. On this “loose”
tribute to Popol Vuh, Drona Parva (aka label captain
Nemo) offers a solitary mote…stationary drone made
warm by the Hammond organ. On the flip side, Texas’
Ultrasound beams with two pieces, the first a true
Popol Vuh cover. Shimmering yet very simple piano (is
lingering pedal and sustain the key to the late
Florian Fricke’s success?) The second maintains that
spell-binding dignity, but again I’m a bit pressed
to figure out its source. A melody is repeated with
a lot of space and very subtle variation from point
to point. There again does seem to be a halo around
the sound (harmonium?). At least Ultrasound gives
the Popol what they want.
Archival audition to the museum of Marley. Soul stylings
especially accentuated on side A. Sweet falsetto and
puffy clouds of background vox help trip the R&B lite
fantastic. All but one track dipped in LSP, still keep
the original familiar Wailer flavor. Johnny Lover and
U Roy toast up three tracks. Dubs fill up the bottom.
This is an EP of four instrumental hip hop remixes by a mystery man named Mr. Bambu from Gainesville, Florida. It was released 6/2004. (This is his 2nd EP after The Disconbobulation EP.)
Tracks A1 and B1 are remixes of a song by fellow Floridians Burgundy Romance. The first one features rock guitar. The second one is longer and more down tempo with electronica sounds, including that Roland cowbell sound.
A2 is a remix of a song by Mercury Program (also from Florida and sharing a member with Burgundy Romance) that is abstract and appropriately spacey.
B2 has a harder sound with fatter drums and a rock/funk vibe.
All remixes are instrumental, and the more I listened the more it grew on me. Check it out!
It’s a pretty big blender to swirl here. An easy drifting
mosaic of music. The rhythms ride strong, so many people can
hop on board from dance stop to dance stop, but the bus is
crowded with Frippy guitar and a fuzzier frappe as well. At
times electropianopuree (“Carb”) and horncrush (“Crown Vic”)
give this light jazz flavors, but psych washes on “Backfires”
could as easily launch you right into rock central. Descending
wooshy waaahs and revving up beat on “Crown Vic” are about as
high as the energy gets, by the way, are those roto-toms?’ On
all cuts prominent basslines unite and push all wallflowers
into the spinning disco mirror light. Secret ingredient is
the crunchy guitar riffs dropped into the various groove
valleys. The remix by Sasha Crnobrnja tries for an aquatic
dub, but spends a little too much time in the bathtub, and
left me pruney. Even infrequent muttered vocals could not
rescue that track from decrepetition.
Apricot Morning is the 2nd full-length release by Quantic, a.k.a. UK-based producer and musical busy-bee Will Holland. This LP was released in 2002, when Mr. Holland was 22. (We have his 3rd LP, Mishaps Happening, in A on 12″ vinyl.)
In math a ‘quantic? is an algebraic function containing two or more variables. This seems appropriate to me because this release combines elements such as Latin and Afro beats, rap, and soul to come up with a music that is fresh and full of life.
Long-time collaborator Alice Russell sings on what I think are two of the best tracks on the album (B1 and C2). Aspects, a hip hop crew from Bristol, appear on B3. EQ appears on the Latin-inflected A3. His sisters, Jill and Lucy even help out with sax and double bass.
You’re sure to find something to fit your mood, as long as you are in the mood for dancing around.
Instrumentals: A1, A2, B2, C3, D1
(Other Will Holland projects include: The Quantic Soul Orchestra, Quantic Live, and Limp Twins.)
Science Fiction is Wale Oyejide, a hip hop producer who grew up in Nigeria, spent a few years living in UAE, went to college in Atlanta, and now lives in California. He has released two EPs and an instrumental LP before this full-length release. Before the hip hop bug bit him, he played guitar for an emo band and a Nirvana cover band.
This is instrumental hip hop. It’s spacey and soulful and a very personal album. Song titles like ‘Love Is A Cigarette In Gasoline Hands? give one an idea of what to expect.
Most tracks don’t have lyrics so much as fractured pieces of his interior monologue. After listening to it long enough I started to feel vaguely claustrophobic.
There is a bonus track not marked on the packaging (017), which is a remix of Hold On featuring MF Doom.
Future releases will be under his real name most likely. He has said in interviews that he finds the moniker Science Fiction ‘dorky.’ He adopted the name Sci Fi when starting out because he used to sample from B-movies all the time.
Play this album if it’s raining or if it’s too sunny.
‘From Belgium to Detroit – with respect? it says on this LP, a re-release by Belgium’s Buzz Records of this compilation of early Detroit techno music.
It was originally released in 1992 on Derrick May’s Transmat label, and it covers Detroit techno from 1986 to 1990 with tracks from Carl Craig (Psyche, BFC), Juan Atkins (Model 500), and mostly Derrick ‘Mayday? May (Rhythim [sic] is Rhythim [sic]) who has over half the tracks on this album.
Some of Mr. May’s tracks hadn’t been released before or even been given titles. They show up titled as ‘A Relic? or ‘Another Relic.’ In between each track is a weird little ‘interval? less than a minute in length performed by Messrs. May and Craig.
The artists on this album were influenced by Alvin Toffler, and in Detroit in the late 80s the decline of the Second Wave was more than a abstract concept. Amid the decay they created a musicical version of the Third Wave, in which man and machine (in this case a Roland synthesizer) would merge and form something far funkier than the sum of its parts. The use of the word techno to describe the music was lifted from the techno rebels in Toffler’s book Future Shock.
All tracks are instrumental and entirely synth-generated. The beats are relentless, and everything else – melody, synth-strings, chords – are merely there to support the beat.
Japan’s Mono returns for their third full-length release with only slight
refinements in their sound . Most tracks feature Mono’s characteristic song
structure: slowly building lengthy tracks, with delicate, icy guitar figures riding
layers of droning strings and thick distortion that increase in waves of intensity
and volume, until they explode in soaring crescendos of transcendent noise.
Their sound on this outing, however, is a little more lush, with a greater emphasis on
strings and more orchestral arrangements than previous recordings. There’s also a
couple of shorter, quieter, less dynamic tracks that failed to impress this listener.
For the most part, however, this is dynamic, almost sweepingly cinematic music,
that achieves Mono’s stated goal of evoking feelings and emotions via music that are difficult to capture and describe in mere words. Play! DL
Bay Area-based, KFJC favorites, Comets On Fire, return with
their third studio full-length release. The material on this LP
represents the next logical step in the continuing development
of the group’s sound. It is very similar to their previous efforts,
however, the songs are a little more structured and the keyboards
play an increasing role in their sonic attack. Nevertheless, from the
ripping, heavy, psychosludge of the opening track, to the
early-70’s Floydian prog-psych of “Brotherhood Of The Harvest”,
to the Chasney fueled acid folk of “Wild Whiskey”, this LP is an
outstanding soundtrack for substance abuse. A little more subtle
and refined, perhaps, but these guys are still just about the coolest
stoners west of Dead Meadow. Highly recommended! DL
Dara has been a multi-media underground artist for a
number of years (including, most notably, a stint in His
Name Is Alive), operating in both the Ann Arbor/Detroit
and NYC areas. This one-sided 12″ is her debut solo
release and she’s responsible for all sounds contained
withiin. Organs, synths, guitars, and assorted electronic
noisemakers generate white noise drones and electro
beats to create little lo-fi pop gems and instrumentals.
Vocals, when present, are almost spoken, not sung,
and are delivered in a little girl voice that reminded me
of Cynthia Dahl. Nothing here is gonna change your
world, but a quick hit of her outsider electro-noise pop
will surely leave a smile on your face. DL
NYC-based musician and artist, Marissa Nadler,
throws her hat into the ring of the, currently hot,
solo femme acid folk scene with her debut release,
‘Ballads of Living and Dying?. Nadler’s obviously
been exposed to a diverse array of influences from
old-timey americana folk to modern avant acoustic
guitarists, such as Fahey, etc., to psychedelia and
beyond. The tracks on this LP range from pretty
straightforward solo folk to atmospheric, late night
folk-psych. As the title suggests, the lyrical content
explores dark themes (death/suicide, ill-fated loves, etc.),
all delivered in Nadler’s sweet, ethereal vocal style.
Nadler also appears to be a fairly accomplished musician
and performs on a variety of stringed instruments (six
and twelve string acoustic guitar, banjo, ukelele, and
autopharp), as well as organ, to weave her tapesry
of sound. Personal favorites include ‘Fifty Five Falls?,
‘Mayflower May?, and her haunting treatment of Poe’s
‘Annabelle Lee?. An interesting and excellent release
from this promising new artist. Recommended! DL
Pharoah Sanders remains a regal presence, here we hear him
ascending the pyramidal throne with a throng of amazing
musicans. Sonny Sharrock is on here with bubbling guitar,
dual double bass quadruple soul are laid solid by Sirone
and Cecil McBee. Leon Thomas steals the show with a baritone
yodel that is deeper than the soul…much of this album
despite fiery flourishes, has an R&B skeleton. Sturdy yet
flowing. “Prince of Peace” comes with bells of peace and
sweet washes of sound. “Balance” has be-bop chops and
Sharrock gets more turbulent on this. There’s a nice dry as
a rattlesnake’s skin percussion break as well. The big
payoff is the title track, all 28:50 of it. Thomas’ jazz
yodel returns, transplanted from the river of “Prince”
to a garden of sounds galore. Branches of percussion sway,
thumb piano ferns wave and flutebird moves in and out
of the growth. Free jazz, fire music in its most deceptively
cool environs. All done in 1969…this along with “Tauhid”
are essential Sanders. Towering.
Three piece suits themselves to the pleasure of panic attacks
and heavy doses of teenage sexual frustration (the lyrics
are copped from singer Sandra’s diary.) Tinny but not tiny
punk with sloppy joe guitar from Ryan, who just as he starts
to master the six-string halfway through this one-sided
monomaniacal hormone-laced vinyl release dumps the guitar
for his true love, synthesizers that make Quintron sound
like Lawrence Welk. And oh yeah, that’s Paul drumming at gun
point…and just as sure-handed as you would expect. This
album screams for attention, but it also just screams for
the sake of screaming. Fiesty fits of songs get bored with
the listener before vice-versa…repetition of lyrics keeps
the insistence levels high, the insolence meanwhile is
bubbling out of your pancreas as these L.A. Drugs detune
out, turn on you and drop their drawers. Music to scratch
scabs to…not necessarily your own. Purely puerile!
PS A locked groove to *start* and *end* this…
Guileless yet wily comes Joanna Newsom. A recent adoptee of
the Bay Area, has touched notes and hearts with the Pleased
and Nervous Cop, this album is nearly 100% her and her alone.
Pluckier than her harp strings and luckier than the stars
above, her soothing songs connect ancient Greek minstrels to
Vulcan folk songs. Her harp is such a mammoth instrument,
its menacing stature belieing its lamb-like nature. Newsom’s
voice exists outside of time, she likely sang this way when
she was 8, and still will when she’s 80. At her shriller
moments, she may prove too much the harpy for some. For me,
I’m completely enchanted…having seen her live next to
her harp enhanced the childlike nature of the performance.
She does play some other instruments here as well, including
harpsichord adding to the anachronistic pull of this LP.
It’s a cozy album, in package and in play. Her lyrical
wool-gathering kept me enrapt, others may find it too
bramble and briar. For me, it’s just plum peachy!
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
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