KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Songs From the Entoptic Garden Vol. 1 – coll [Time Lag]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

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.

Mr. Bambu — “Did Some Remixes…” — [Organik] — (33rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   1/9/2005   12-inch, Hip Hop

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!

–Hunter Gatherer

Artanker Convoy “Ocean Parkway EP” 33rpm [Social Registry]

Thurston Hunger   1/9/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

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.

Quantic – ?Apricot Morning? – [Tru Thoughts Recordings] 33 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   1/5/2005   12-inch, A Library

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.)

–Hunter Gatherer

Science Fiction – Walls Don’t Exist – [Third Earth Music] 33 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   1/5/2005   12-inch, Hip Hop

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.

–Hunter Gatherer

[coll] Relics: A Transmat Compilation – [Buzz] – 33 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   12/1/2004   12-inch, A Library

‘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.

–Hunter Gatherer

Mono – “Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky ” – [Virgin Records Limited]

Daryl Licht   10/4/2004   12-inch, A Library

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

Comets on Fire – “Blue Cathedral ” – [Sub Pop Records]

Daryl Licht   10/4/2004   12-inch, A Library

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 – “S/T ” – [Ecstatic Peace]

Daryl Licht   10/1/2004   12-inch, A Library

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

Nadler, Marissa – “Ballads of Living and Dying ” – [Eclipse Records]

Daryl Licht   9/26/2004   12-inch, A Library

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 “Izipho Zam” [Strata-East]

Thurston Hunger   7/27/2004   12-inch, Format, Jazz

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.

L.A. Drugs s/t [Twisted Village]

Thurston Hunger   7/13/2004   12-inch, A Library, Format

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…

Joanna Newsom “Milk-Eyed Mender” [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   6/17/2004   12-inch, A Library, Format

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!

Fursaxa – “Madrigals in Duos ” – [Time-Lag]

Daryl Licht   2/23/2004   12-inch, A Library

Fursaxa is the (mostly) solo project of Tara Burke, a Philadelphia resident
who has been intriguing us for years now with her efforts in a number of
groups, most notably, Un. On ‘Madrigals In Duos? , her third full-length
release, she displays all the required skills to earn her ‘acid folk? merit
badge. Some tracks are more straightforward, in a lo-fi folk-psych vein,
featuring mainly acoustic guitar and vocals. Other tracks shoot straight
for the heart of that 3AM vibe, combining cosmic organ drones with
ghostly, wailing vocals. Finally, there are a couple of noisier tracks, with
dissonant electric guitars and repetitive, driving, hand percussion.
Beautiful and otherworldly music. Mandatory for play on late night shows. DL

Trans Am – “Liberation ” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

Daryl Licht   2/23/2004   12-inch, A Library

‘Liberation?, the 7th full-length release from Washington D. C.’s, Trans Am, finds
the band continuing to feature a familar mix of sonic elements – Krautrock, 80’s
Synthpop, Electro-Ambience, Punk, and Post Rock. Despite its similarity to their
previous work, however, this album represents a new pinnacle of acheivement
for the band. On ‘Liberation?, which features a strong theme of opposition to the
policies of the Bush Administration, the band has a acheived a nearly perfect
synthesis of cover art, ‘lyrical? content, and music. The cuts on this album (most
of which track) flow almost seamlessly from synth-driven Krautrock grooves to
danceable synthpop to late-night, electro-ambient pieces and driving rockers.
The combination of political soundbites/synthesized vocals and ominous
analogue sounds works perfectly to convey their damning indictment of Bush’s
war in Iraq and evoke fear of Big Brother’s ever intrusive gaze/grasp. A beautiful
record – sonically diverse and conceptually complete. Highly recommended! DL

Califone – “Heron King Blues ” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

mitch   12/16/2003   12-inch, A Library

Hot on the heels of 2003???s ???Quicksand / Cradlesnakes??? comes this concept LP
of recurring dream and Druid legend. A half-man, half-bird figure of legend
haunts these sprawling mirages of ancient battle and laconic, ethereal interim;
squalls of darkness patch themselves between melodic loam and numerological
tension alongside the mercy and revenge of elephant-horns, muted drums,
pump organ, slide guitar, treated piano, violin, fretless banjo and omnipresent
electronic looping. The vision belongs to vocalist Tim Rutili, along with bandmates
Ben Massarella (percussion), Jim Becker (guitars, keyboards) and Joe Adamik
(reeds, horns) and is brought to realization with producer Michael Krassner &
the usual Chicago all-star sessioneers : Wil Hendricks (bass), Fred Lonberg Holm
(cello), et. al. A product of extemporaneous creation in the studio and the
spectre of metaphysics outside of it, Rutili is a long long way from RED RED MEAT
days ??? though the riverbeds still swirl with enigma, it is the topography of semi-
coma that now presupposes symbolism, moving CALIFONE toward a more
compelling interpretation of an ancient future.
MITCH December 2003

Smog – “Accumulation: None” – [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   4/3/2003   12-inch, A Library

Flotsam and sinksam from Bill Callahan. Well
captured in oft rough recordings. We’ve got
vapor-lock blues, anti-rock star heroics
(“It’s Not Gonna Be a Hit”) and the ol’
Smog favorite, collapsible relationships.
He seems like a guy who’s counting on the
big nasty breakup even in the honeymoon
phase of a relationship. (“I Break Horses”)
There’s a flare somehow in the flatness of
Callahan’s voice, and as well as anyone
he can make the lurid, alluring. I like
the fact that many Smog songs, when they hit
the spot where the bridge should come they
almost go flatline. Hell, the songs start
off with pretty economical lyrics and guitar
playing and then they lose their shirt and
their way for awhile….till the next verse
comes along and gives ’em a ride back to
tune. On the lighter side, Callahan does
quote “Baby’s Got Back” on the tail end
(where else) of “Real Live Dress”
-Thurston Hunger

Jackie-O Motherfucker – “Change” – [Textile Records]

Daryl Licht   3/22/2003   12-inch, A Library

Jackie-O Mofo checks in with this field report as they continue on their journey
down the path of musical exploration and cut-out bin obscurity. Always a fairly
‘free? unit, Jackie-O has toned down the louder, more raucous elements of
their earlier releases in favor of a more textured, organic approach. The
opening track, ‘Everyday?, sets the standard for that new (sub)genre that all
the alleged ‘Americana? experts have completely missed: late-night, downcast,
‘free country?. ‘Sun Ray Harvester? is an eastern-tinged piece of atmospheric,
bang and clatter, basement improv/psych. ‘7″ is a 47 second waste of vinyl.
‘777 (Tombstone Massive)? mines a similar vein as ‘Sun Ray Harvester? ,
except the eastern influences are replaced by more jazzy elements and the
track is way more chaotic, in general, due to the abrupt changes that occur as
a result of the track’s ‘cut and paste? editing.The album’s final track, ‘Fantasy
Hay Co-Op? is another tense, late-night offering that centers around a couple
of repetitive figures and is, as a result, more focused and satisfying (IMHO) than
‘777 (Tombstone Massive)? . Overall, this is quite an interesting and enjoyable
release. Play! DL

Kinski – “Airs Above Your Station ” – [Subpop]

Daryl Licht   3/17/2003   12-inch, A Library

After 30+ years of psych/spacerock, it takes something pretty special to really make an
impact on me. Unfortunately, this latest full-length from Seattle’s Kinski (their third) is
not such an album. It is, however, an enjoyable record of (mostly) instrumental contemporary psych/spacerock, filled with the standard elements of the (sub)genre: analogue synth tones and drones, Krautrock rhythms, and thick, shoegaze, distorto-haze, applied in different combinations and intensities on various tracks to create music that is at some times spare, delicate, and melodic and other times is propulsive and soaring. ‘Semaphore? (which should already be familar to you, as a live version of it was included, under a different title, on KFJC’s, ?…Devil’s Triangle, Vol. 4? compilation) and ‘Rhode Island Feakout? are the most straight-up rockers on the album. Both versions of ‘I Think I Blew It? are blissed out, ambient solo pieces by leader Chris (Ampbuzz) Martin. I find ‘Your Lights Are (Out Or) Burning Badly? to be reminiscent of GYBE, but in a shorter and way stripped down form. ‘Schedule For Using Pillows And Beanbags? is the album’s epic centerpiece. As I said, certainly nothing groundbreaking, but still an enjoyable listening experience. DL

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