KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

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

Migrantes – “Monsoon Moods ” – [Eclipse Records]

Daryl Licht   2/19/2003   12-inch, A Library

This is the second full-length release from the Arizona Duo, Migrantes.
Two tracks (A2 and B2) are actual songs in a folk psych vein. The
remaining four tracks are more ‘otherworldly?, Featuring mainly droning
organ and Caroline’s ethereal, effected vocals. ‘Gesture?, which
features Jason on electric guitar, is the most loud/aggressive of these
tracks, while ‘Baboquivari?, offers the most pure drone bliss. A nice
soundtrack for rainy days and late nights. For those about to float…DL

Sole – “Selling Live Water ” – [Anticon.]

Daryl Licht   1/9/2003   12-inch, Hip Hop

Anticon member, Sole, returns with a very ambitious and successful
second full-length release. Musically, he throws everything but the
kitchen sink at you, as jazzy horns, vibes, ambient drones, bleeding
Krautrock electronics, and seductive pop guitars are all integrated
quite comfortably with traditional hip-hop beats, scratches, and
classic soul samples. Lyrically, he also covers a lot of ground, with
compelling rants about things we can all relate to (work, relationships,
life/death, geo-politics) and deeply personal, soul baring sketches
(that you also might be able to relate to, depending on your particular
psychoses), as well. Overall, this is a stunning release that fulfills the
goals of the Anticon’mission statement? by transcending the
traditional preconceptions/lmitations regarding what hip-hop is and/or
could/should be. Music for the advancement of hip-hop, indeed! Play! DL

Gate – “Metric ” – [Majora]

Daryl Licht   5/4/1994   12-inch, A Library

This latest LP from Gate (the solo/side project of Dead C. guitarist, Michael Morley) is a reissue of a 1991 cassette only release on Morley’s own Precious Metal label. The sound here is similar to the Dead C. (in fact, ‘Hope? and ‘Constellations? were later recorded by the Dead C.), although these tracks have a noticeably more ‘normal? song structure. Each side begins with a quietier, somber track which is followed by two tracks of dense Dead C. distorto-disintegration. The final track on each side is short. ‘Evidence? is a spliced tape sampler and ‘Forced Sight? is an excellent track with thick feedback over a droning organ. A great record: possibly my favorite by the Dead C. or any of its members. Play! DL

Note – This is an archival review. This CD was originally added to KFJC’s library in 1994. It is a long-running tradition at KFJC for DJs to add their own comments to these ‘official? reviews. As a matter of historical context and plain ol? ‘purient interest?, these comments (mis-spellings and all!) are provided below.

An impressive demonstration of quality and quantity – Gram White

It’s in the numbers – Dominic Trix

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