Music Reviews

Earthmonkey – “Audiosapien ” – [Beta-Lactam Ring Records]

Max Level   12/25/2005   12-inch, A Library

Deep, trippy excursions from Nurse With Wound alumnus Peat Bog. As Earthmonkey, he brings forth long, semi-droning, meticulously-assembled sound constructions. Intriguing textures are combined, phased, echoed, and looped; musical patterns repeat hypnotically; an occasional jazzy sax or wah wah guitar drops in. Also in the mix are children’s voices, backwards stuff, Middle Eastern hand percussion, harmonica, drum machine, throat singers, a million mysterious sonic fragments of who knows what… Assisting with this magnificent madness is NWW colleague Steven Stapleton, and possibly a few other folks as well. Among the tracks are 14 and 18 minute pieces.

Waldteufel – “Heimliches Deutschland “

Max Level   12/24/2005   12-inch, A Library

Strangely beautiful and beautifully strange. Markus Wolff (drums, vocals, lyrics) and Annabel Lee (violin and accordion) perform songs and recitations, all in German, based on Northern European myths and sagas from centuries past. Well, I read an article that says that’s what the songs are about anyway. Accompanying Wolff’s vocals are simple percussion, rough-edged violin, far-off horn blurts, and the like. Guests add percussion, flute, various sounds, etc. Quite an exotic listening experience, evoking singers and storytellers gathered around a fire, in a clearing in a deep dark forest, about 500 years ago, telling tales of great battles and the like; however, it was recorded in Portland OR in 1999-2000. So a nice job of transporting the listener.

Six Eye Columbia – “Frowny Frown ” – [Douche Bagophon]

Max Level   12/24/2005   12-inch, A Library

Creative and very well done cover versions. SEC is an SF quintet, evidently around since 1997 but this is my first exposure to them. Make no mistake, they can write and play their own “rock” material just fine, but this LP has a different agenda: it’s chock full of completely bent arrangements of songs by The Stranglers, Motorhead, Guided By Voices, Roxy Music, Hall & Oates, and a few others. Track 1 is a simple distorto-rocker similar to Coachwhips. Track 2 is an acoustic hoedown take on a speed-metal classic. Track 3 is a fairly straight reading of a Portishead song. Track 14 is an angelic acappella doo-wop version of a Descendents tune. High points for me: Track 7 applies the junkyard sound of Swordfishtrombones to a Black Flag number, Track 8 (written by Dr. Seuss!) is torture chamber sludge, and Track 12 is an amazing marriage of Roxy’s “Casanova” with Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”. Don’t miss this record. Every track a winner!

Qbico U-Nite, New York [coll] – [Qbico]

Max Level   12/23/2005   12-inch, Jazz

Free jazz, soundscapes, and various combinations of the two, recorded live at NYC’s Tonic in early 2004. Steve Dalachinsky kicks Side A off with a short excerpt from one of his twisted poems, followed by a long free jazz excursion from drummer Andrew Barker and hornmen Charles Waters and Daniel Carter. On Side B, clarinetist Perry Robinson and bassist Shanir Blumenkranz join the previous three for some lively dialogs. The soundscape elements arrive on Sides C and D, with the inscrutable Arthur Doyle performing both solo (on sax, recorder, and vocals) and with his Electro-Acoustic Ensemble (adding drums, bass, electronics, synth, and turntables), bringing us his distinctive outer space brand of jazz tribalism. Many fine moments. A most enjoyable record.

Submission Hold – “What Holds the Elephant Back ” – [G7 Welcoming Committee]

Max Level   12/23/2005   12-inch, A Library

Appalled by a world gone mad, this Vancouver BC band lashes out in all directions, reminding us how far out of control we humans are. Religious/political oppression, media brainwash, enviro-destruction, sexual inequality, etc., why do we allow them to continue? This band has something to say, and I like the way they say it with lyrics that are just abstract enough to let us interpret them more than one way. Vocalist Jen sings in a tender, resigned voice, then screams at us to see the madness and help stop it. Sounds to me like at least some of the lyrics may have existed before being set to music; the rhythm of the words sometimes clashes with the musical flow as though the words are being forced to live there. Appropriate conflict results. The band shifts gears constantly, churning out slow, heavy grind, uptempo ska-beat, high-energy thrash? Many classify them as a punk band but musically SubHold are well beyond that. They are, however, idealistic, strong-willed, pissed off, and 100% sincere, as are the best punk bands.

Funkstorung – “Return to the Acid Planet ” – [K7]

Hunter Gatherer   12/4/2005   12-inch, A Library

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the existence of such a thing as Funkst’rung, they have released a double vinyl album containing 12 tracks some time in June 2005. Funkst’rung is a duo consisting of Michael Fakesch and Chris De Luca of Munich who create experimental electronic music. One interesting note about this album: it will only be released on vinyl and iTunes – no CD release.

The inspiration for this album came when they found some old tapes and vinyl around the time of their first releases in 1995 on the Acid Planet label. Without the original equipment to work with, they just ripped it to their hard drive and worked with the material that way.

The result is some great techno with bass synthesizers and acidy sounds that totally grooves and is mixed with a lot of wit and humor. Enjoy the familiar sounds of the Roland TB-303 and TR-808.

Particular favorites are Punk Motherfucker (watch the video on their web site) and Wearing Old Armani, which is undoubtedly a reference to Robert Armani, not the suit guy). AP1105 puts one in the mind of Venetian Snares. The Commodore C128D gets a name check.

By the way, the C-128D reference is an elaborate joke that might take too long to explain in a break: The Commodore C128D was banned because it caused too much RF interference. And interference in German is funkst’rung. And it also happens to be the first computer Mr. Fakesch used.

You don’t listen to this music so much as compute its Fourier transform.

–Hunter Gatherer

Nautical Almanac – “Cover the Earth ” – [Heresee]

Thurston Hunger   11/11/2005   12-inch, A Library

Power triad of Baltimor-phiends delivers harrowing sonic
hallucinations. On the hands-side, I could have sworn I saw a
gorilla come in and beat up a couple of kids playing a video
racing game. Then someone tripped a shimmer alarm which caused
the peeling of skin from Lurch (of the Adams’ Family fame).
Actually all of that happened in the space of “Megacorps”/
“Leviathon” which track together. “Try It 2wice” has all hands
on percussion decks and a goofball cartoon violin punchline in
the mix. That violin gets the last eternal laugh via a
seamless locked groove!! On the flip side, “Rolling in the
Green” has a rubber-band porch-fi-fried feel while Carly
Ptak’s voice serenades in stacks. Almost song!?! Summarizing
these sounds is tough in text, but you can sure smell the art
oozing off this black vinyl. I guess on this release I could
say there is a loose feel of intercepted transmissions crashing
with primitive noise attacks. Tastes like surveillance at times.
Also they are not afraid to deploy SHRILL power. On the other
end of frequencies, “Twenty Twenty” escapes too quickly as it
implants a killer furrowing dub. The record ends with a
“Clump Clump” clutzy New Year’s Eve parade.

Pelican / Mono Split [coll] – [Temporary Residence Ltd.]

Thurston Hunger   11/11/2005   12-inch, A Library

Battle of the behemoths, and the winner is….James Plotkin.
He zaps in with a remix of “Angel Tears” going well beyond
glitch into *splotch*. It’s still got Pelican’s anchor of
bloodied bass and battered drums, but before we get the
chrome choruses of recognizable guitar, we traipse through
a nice minefield of minced meatiness. Plotkin leaves it
alone for a few bars of lurch and torch, but some speaker
squelch starts to re-infect it, and then he starts picking
at the whole scab leaving whorling chunks and a crisp cold
end. Pelican’s “Rain Amber” starts with an escher staircase
of organ, and moody bassy piano with (intentional?) ripples
of psuedo-vinyl warp…then come the burnished guitars and
cymbal shining drums and a comfortable anthemic march.
Japan’s Mono fires up the ol’ wind-tunnel dynamics machine
better than any non Black Emperor’s going. They stoke it
with hyper-arpeggio guitars with tight galactic reverb…
….ahhhhhh. The piece has a near-death experience about
half-way through, you can see the life-line in the vinyl,
but then guitarists Takaakira Goto and Yoda soon clamp
jumper-cables to your auditory nerves. Mono definitely
delivers an invisible soundtrack beckoning a film to be
made…nice work from all camps.

Jahcoozi – “Black Barbie ” – [Kitty Yo]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/2005   12-inch, A Library

Man this is THUMPING music, maximus. Bound to provoke
involuntary muscle twitch, with an aroma of aphrodesia,
and occasional laughgasms. Something about this is just as
funny as it is sexy…and well super stupid. It’s not just
the work of vocal lolita Sasha Perera. The bass lines are
wide for the ride, the drum machines get giddy (especially
on “Tourist Guide”) On “Black Barbie” there’s this great war
whooping along with popping bubbles of champagne carbonated
with cartoon bullets bouncing around. The photo of this fine
picture disc is worth 1000 words and a couple of grams out
in the alley. This thing reaks of a party, that musty sweat
and stale beer scent, along with a general dizziness. In the
haze, you almost think you hear Santana getting copped on
the second version of “Black Barbie.” Look out towards the
end of that track (A2) it boops over to blooperville including
a fun and big ol’ “FUCK” that launches into a rapid fire set
of rhymes that takes the faux studio audience on a roller
coaster. Even more risky, if you play this at 33 instead of
45 RPM, you’re going to give Sasha a sexchange.

Bishop, Alan (Alvarius B) – “Blood Operatives of the Barium ” – [Abduction]

Thurston Hunger   10/15/2005   12-inch, A Library

The best bluesmen, they always had flies on their tongues,
and the best drinkers, well they swallowed the blood of their
young…childish gods among men. They spoke in riddles, and
choked metaphors in their beds till they lost their heads and
wound up like synecdoches running around like all hands on
deck. Alavarius B might be Alan Bishop of the Sun City Girls,
he also might be the cloaked figure prying open your bedroom
window to slip in beside your dreams…astride the corpses
there piling up like the murder ballads Johnny Cash is singing
in heaven before being resurrected as the very acoustic guitar
now crumbling in the hands of Alavarius B. Aurora ourorboro
Alice could have done so well to have fallen through a hole
into this wonderland of song and strummage. One foot in
courage, one foot in confrontation. Heads are gonna rock and
heads are gonna roll here. There are some bad words, there
are some worse people…they all show up here to look at you
in the mirror. This is Herman Melville’s favorite album,
and mine too right now.

Moncur Grachan III _”Aco Dei De Madrugada” [BYG Records (in collaboration with) Get Back] (33 rpm)

scrub   10/13/2005   12-inch, Jazz

(Out of sight) Jazz Lp
‘One morning I waked up very early[?]?
The architecture of the compositions feel cosmological, as if it were an ancient worldview, and as if in a place like hawaii where you can see the sun rise so much earlier, the title which translates as I quoted (and is on the cover), and which the adjacent front cover picture expresses quite well, that it seems the music was made, as the sun refreshes the sleep deprived when they are at their most fatigued, earlier than ever waking up for, and later than stay awake for, which seems to bind into certainly the motif of the starter track, also the title track, but also in the variations of that motif, in each following track. Of course the album is not as saddingly catchy as that first motif, and real as it is, with that folk, being old kind of sadness, that dependency in a melody, the sort of plaintive whistle of overwork and depressing relationships, the rest of the album is really great, phase developing, jazz. The piano, by Fernando Martins, who recorded this year, 05, under the Fernando Martins Trio, a self titled work, released on the DeLira Musica label based in Brasil (http://www.deliramusica.com/ , goto catalogo, which is the catalog of their releases simply enough, which is alphabetical, by first name of the band leader, which has two poor quality samples), has quite a Matthew Shipp “Pastoral Composure” (Matthew Shipp Trio, ’00, Thirsty Ear release), first impression (especially Ponte lo), but certainly the intent behind the repetition similarities, for example, are different, Nelson Serra de Castro (Drums) plays like he knows Martins does not want an over interpretation of his lines, although the piece does phase, and alter significantly, and although the pieces may be more preconceived prior to this record of the work as released. This is not difficult, but it is not predictable either. There is a strong groove to all four partitions. As to Moncur, this is certainly a place apart from (Moncur, Grachan – “Evolution” [Jazz][379010]) and “Echoes of Prayer”. This central divergence would have me recommend this as essential listening for a tour of Moncur’s output (you might want to check out this discography, http://perso.wanadoo.fr/hardbop/Moncur.htm ,but i don’t vouch for it). The title track I can not live without, but what melodies are personally strong for me, might not work for you.

Ashby, Dorothy – ?The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby? – [Cadet Records] – 33 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   10/4/2005   12-inch, Jazz

Dorothy Ashby (1932 – 1986) was a great jazz harpist. Rubaiyat is the last in a series of 10 albums that she recorded between ’56 and ’70. It’s a follow-up to Afro-Harping, which we have in Jazz/12″. She also played harp on popular recordings for Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder (If It’s Magic from Songs In The Key of Life), and Earth, Wind, & Fire.

Rubaiyat means quatrains in Persian and in this case it refers specifically to the poetry of Omar Khayyam, which influenced Ms. Ashby in the writing and recording of this album.

The Middle-eastern influence is apparent, which is amazing considering that she is pulling the sounds out of a harp accompanied by very few non-Western instruments. On Joyful Grass and Grape and For Some We Loved, she plays the koto (pictured on the front of the album). A thumb piano called a kalimba is also on a few tracks.

The feel of the album is dreamy and spiritual with Ms. Ashby‘s sweet, soulful vocals (sounding like the soundtrack to a spy movie at times). The backing percussion and rhythm guitar and string arrangements can sound kind of lounge-y and dated at times, but the soulful middle-eastern vibe comes through for the most part. If you give yourself up to this album, you won’t be sorry.

My favorite track by far is The Moving Finger (B5), which starts out with a spooky chant (now I know where Troubleman got it on Time Out Of Mind) and settles into some Eastern Soul with harp and fuzz guitar solos. This track is heavily sampled and sought after.

Almost every song has lyrics or a title about drinking or getting high. Not good music to abstain to.

–Hunter Gatherer

Venetian Snares – ?The Chocolate Wheelchair Album? – [Planet Mu Records] – 33 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   10/4/2005   12-inch, A Library

Venetian Snares is Canadian producer Aaron Funk. Released in October 2003, this album was originally titled The Stupid Chocolate Wheelchair Album for some reason by Mr. Funk but cooler heads prevailed.

The music on this release is not at all like the music on the Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett that we added earlier this year. This is drill ‘n? bass glitch-core, with messed up beats that have been crumbled, fractured, rubbed in static and glued back on the vinyl using a combination sequencer/Uzi for your listening pleasure. This is angry, violent, frenetic, and somehow clean music that doesn’t make you want to smash things so much as take them apart carefully piece by piece.

Some highlights: A1 features a sample of X-Ray Spex Oh Bondage, Up Yours. A2 is a Motley Crue song that has been taken apart and put together with some pieces left over. B1 is named for a paper by Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen that predicted wormholes in space-time. C1 has a messed up Sesame Street theme song lift at the end. All tracks feel like they are jammed with an album’s worth of ideas.

–Hunter Gatherer

Look Records Sampler 2005 [coll] – [Look Records] – 33 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   10/4/2005   12-inch, Hip Hop

This is a sampler from the San Francisco-based Look Records offerings for 2005. It features three solid underground hip hop songs from three local artists: A.G. a.k.a. Andree the Giant, DJ Design, and Grip Grand.

A1 Take A Ride (A.G.) – Produced by Madlib. This track begins with a woman winning some Cincinnati marijuana then a fuzzy riff with some very funny laid back rhymes on top. For example, they rhyme Mexican with sex her friend. Isn’t that what it’s all about? 100bpm

A2 Get On The Floor (Design) – Produced by DJ Design. Energetic rap with pulsing electronics underneath in which the protagonist persistently (and rather ungallantly) asks a woman to get on the floor. Heavy breathing sounds. 112bpm

A3 But Anyway (Grip Grand) – Produced by Grip Grand. This one starts out with the same horn flare as Insane In The Membrane but then settles into its own groove. A second sample with soul singing (There’s one thing that ‘I’m sure of) is featured on the chorus. Fanfare ForThe Common Man by Aaron Copeland has yet to be sampled if I recall correctly, but that’s neither here nor there. 100bpm

It’s all clean! I think A3 is my favorite.

The B side contains instrumental versions of A1-A3.
–Hunter Gatherer

Murphy, Roisin – “Sequins ” – [Chrysalis Records Ltd.]

Hunter Gatherer   10/4/2005   12-inch, A Library

This is the first of three limited edition EPs (500 pressed) by Roisin Murphy (formerly of Moloko) co-written and co-produced by Matthew Herbert. Some members of his Big Band are helping out as well. All four songs on this EP can also be found on her latest LP Ruby Blue.

Ms. Murphy has a beautiful, soulful voice that is somewhere between sultry and nutty (both of which are extremely sexy especially when coming from a redhead). The backing music has looping electronics and loping brass, with discernable elements of Northern Soul, Tom Waits, electronica, and jazzy lounge.

The lyrics are about breaking up, bitter recriminations, and looking back on your former lover and wondering just what the hell you saw in that person. This makes the album just that much more accessible.

The more I played it the more I liked it. Cool.

–Hunter Gatherer

Live Human – “Elefish Jellyphant ” – [None]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   12-inch, A Library

Well, if their earlier releases have not
already captivated you, the Charles Ives’
quote ought to convince you….this trio
with deck-wreckin’ able-turntabler DJ Quest
leading the search is quintessential KFJC!
Wax was made to melt, and Quest burns thru
Chinese opera, old-school rap, educational
and other odd records…adding his own freaky
tweaks and FX. He’s got such a quick ear,
and quicker hands…he locks on creates
fiery inspiration. Mathias and Kushin add
sturdy yet flexible support…Kushin’s bass
in particular branches out a little more on
this release…like Quest, I think they both
could scrach more than the surface. Hard to
complain after checking disc 2 here.

Wickham-Smith, Simon – “Giladji ” – [Giardia]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   12-inch, A Library

Temporarily cleaved from Richard Youngs,
Simon Wickham-Smith delivers two side long
ice drones for ice harmonica. Overtone nodes
fringe and add depth to the subtle stillness…
tension not unlike Morricone’s remarkable
soundtrack to The Thing remake. Vary the pitch
as you see fit, faster RPM’s tend toward a
more coherent sound, played at the speed of
light – undoubtedly we’d hear the Aum tone of
the universe. Keep it slow, and you can
enjoy the microtonal multiverses.

Hamburger, Neil – “Left for Dead in Malaysia ” – [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   12-inch, Comedy

What separates some stand-up schmuck from
the superstars of comedy? With the latter
you get a small glimpse of the ironic dark
wells of pain obscured by the limelight
and the laughter. Here, if you listen
carefully through the zingers, you can hear
the confession of a tortured man in a bad
suit…well, almost if Neil would quit
milkin’ your funny bone. Sure there’s one
or two klunkers here, as Neil deals with
the minor travails of the travelling comic-
the irate then awol manager, the interrup-
tion of the bar jukebox, the fact that the
audience doesn’t speak a lick o’ English…
but in the end, the great ones triumph. And
when Neil says, “Am I through?” You pray to
HBO he isn’t? The silence would hurt too
much. Fuck dentists, I’m a Hamburger Helper!
-Thurston Hunger

Oneida / Plastic Crime [coll] – [Brah]

Thurston Hunger   9/22/2005   12-inch, A Library

Oneida (and this is the first imprint of Oneidan Fat Bobby’s
label) get a rustic rhythm going up and over the levee
with tub-thump drum and dangling banjos…on top of it a
drifty falsetto riding the rails of this railroad car rock.
About two thirds of the way, all the strings pile into
the caboose and cut loose from the insistent percussion.
Modern minstrel mode, but Bobby sends a synth pulsar in the
stead of the heavy beat, every bit as hypnagogic.

Chicago’s Plastic Crimewave Sound’s “End of Cloud” may be
mistitled. As this number to me sounds far more terrestial,
like a pounding, probing tunnel to the center of the earth.
Relentess dum-drum thwack attack and magma-coated guitar
sparking along the sides drive this deeper and deeper. At
some time, a sort of chanting is “unearthed” are we going
to reaquaint ourselves with the Residents Molemen? Are we
going to find an alternate university with members of Gong
forever youthful?’ Or are we going to hear some scattered
and slow-slurred poesy? Ah, ya peeked…

Mccombs, Cass – “Prefection ” – [Monitor]

mitch   9/16/2005   12-inch, A Library

Juggling fact and fiction via the arching use of
slowcore-inspired organ/keyboard/guitar textures
of repetition, CASS is back ??? good news for fans
who favor rough-edged yet pretty pop???.???Equinox???
opens things with a ringing guitar pattern/swelling
keyboards/syncopated bass notes, each given a
turn at carrying the melody???

???Of all the creatures in the wood /
one law is perfectly understood /
Deep in the heart of Fountainbleau /
The marriage of a whore and a Jew /
the bride???s true dowry black rocks??????

???Subtraction??? builds on a frenetic drum line & one-note
bass???.extra clean guitar work on ???Sacred Heart??? lights
dark lyrical corner with bright musical fa???ade???.???Cuckoo???
is a sulking slouch of perverse moodiness, grey with
foreboding?????????Tourist Woman??? finds MCCOMBS calling
the kettle black with ???.???Romantics are doomed / and
that???s a good thing???.??? Elusive, allusive, high concept
and obscurantist, CASS MCCOMBS (best on # 1, 2, 5,
6, + 9) continues to produce high-quality indie pop.
MITCH September 2005

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