Music Reviews

King Sunny Ade & His African Beats – “Bobby” – [Sunny Alade Recordings]

aarbor   5/20/2020   12-inch, International

King Sunny Ade was born into a Nigerian royal family. In his musical evolution he started playing in a highlife band then formed his own band, which has changed names several times over the years. This album is from 1983 when his band was called the African Beats. Bobby is “Bobby” Benson another Nigerian musician who died in May of 1983, to whom King Sunny is paying tribute with the suite on the B side of this record. Benson’s music was African melody with a Latin beat. But that sound is not reflected in the music here. Ade’s sound is a gentle griot style with modern instruments including pedal steel guitar, synthesizers, keyboards etc.  AArbor    

Oxenberg, Dan + Bear Galvin +Friends (Pillow Mt. Conspiracy) – "Early Abstractions Vol. 1" – [Feeding Tube Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/20/2020   12-inch, A Library

Frogs in a blender, punchline to a tired joke, but for KFJC listeners it might be one third of the recipe for this album. On first listen, my sonic blender had the Frogs + Ivor Cutler + “Final Relaxation” (that ol’ fools’ Golding with Hamburger helper). Better peeps would detect Supreme Dicks, Oxenberg’s group of yester-ear. Anyways, this 2019 album has a sorta gentle creepiness, that and the occasional wheezy organ brought Cutler to my mind.

More acoustic than the twin-lead tweakery of the Dicks, but electric six-strings and electronic other things make this more than a freak folk flyby. That and there’s a deft hand in the sequencing. Side B launches so well, “Waves” with your captain speaking, then a laminitis lament for “Barbaro” followed by an instrumental tonic dedicated to “Fernado Rey” with its reverbed electric piano tinkering at windmills and flowing right into “Troubled Waters” – twisted wistful and definitely where the Relaxation kicks in. Other elements tucked in include the headphone smile of “Banjo Coke” and some scene stealers from “Welcome Home Johnny Bristol.” Definitely an album that grew on me…it’s never too late for Early Abstractions.
-Thurston Hunger

Ghast – “Terrible Cemetery” – [Forgotten Wisdom]

atavist   5/18/2020   12-inch, A Library

Frenzied tortured vocals of the damned. The landscape bereft of hope. Released on CD ten years ago, and re-released on vinyl five years later. Track one, eight minutes of building walls of dislocated delirium held in a stasis, suspended on the edge of misery. When they pick up the tempo, you understand how the term black metal comes to be associated with this project, but doom is always mentioned in the same breath. Track two has a longer run time (20 min) to lay rotted foundations and erect walls of pitted, charred stone, piece by cursed piece. A pitiless sky for a roof. The overall mix, the approach to the guitar picking, the song structures, point to something idiosyncratic. Yes, it’s doom, yes, it’s blackened, but these guys are weird. There is something strange about them, and they aren’t trying to be, they just are. About halfway through the second track the weather changes and it’s almost like a ray of light pierces the black clouds (almost). Fury unleashed in vain. Concludes with a brilliant ethereal fade-out.

Malamud, Bernard / Roth, Philip [coll] – [CMS Records, Inc]

whngr   5/14/2020   12-inch, A Library

Two authors read from their works about living in the squalor of the immigrant tenements  during the middle of the 20th century. Depressing and desperate, the characters are feeble, sick, wounded, and consumed with both the petty conflicts and survival within their shabby miserable flats. Thoughtful, bleak and insightful with faithful representations of the dialect and perspective of the Jewish men from that time.

Monokultur – "Monokultur" – [Ever/never]

Thurston Hunger   5/13/2020   12-inch, A Library

Downer duo, bedroom synth-pop during a power-outage. Synthesizers paradoxically fueled by some kind of apathy transformer, I guess. Vocals from Elin Engström and JJ Ulius taste of a hunger strike, songs are similarly skeletal. Dubby bass backbone, with light synth spin or barbiturate guitar nibbling at your ears. If you are like me, and you enjoy a drum machine that is need of therapy, this 2018/19 full-length debut will fill your skies with a rich slate gray.
I assume the album title is more a statement on their lo-fi sound than an homage to the same-named online zine. These two Swedeys also spend time changing units in the band Skiftande Enheter. On this album “Som en Hund” is the peppiest puppy of the litter, the last track, translates as “The Long Awaited End” I sure hope there’s life after that. Till then listen to this with a stethoscope, cold to the skin.

DJ meatball challenge: Make up English translations for the titles when on air.

Gaye, Marvin – You’re The Man – [Universal Music Enterprises]

aarbor   5/6/2020   12-inch, Soul

From 1972 when George McGovern ran against Nixon in the presidential race and a lost year in the life of Marvin Gaye. The title track like its predecessor “What’s Going On” is clearly political but nowhere near as powerful. The issues may be different today but the message is still relevant.    I liked the B sides of both of the records. Apparently Stevie Wonder gave Marvin Gaye a brand new Moog (which had just come out) it appears on the instrumental Christmas in the City and is cool. AArbor

Blonksteiner, Alexander – “Cannibal Apocalypse” – [Death Waltz Recording Co]

whngr   5/4/2020   12-inch, Soundtrack

A horrible Italian flick provides the vehicle for an excellent soundtrack for its time, providing a groovy, funked out background for nibbling on necks or shaking your polyester clad ass at your next retro-themed spooky dance party (DM me for deets). Walking bass lines build tension, wistful flute takes it away. Piano, smokey saxophone, classical guitar, funk guitar, viola, synth, drums, all in line with other Italian scores of the period. But this isn’t a zombie movie or an art movie. It’s not scary, sexy, or understandable. It’s an absolute mess is what it is: A band of deranged flesh chompers and deviants lead by the sometimes hero and reluctant cannibal Norman Hopper (John Saxon) who contracts some sort of affliction while serving in the Vietnam War along with a few other members of his unit where upon returning stateside they are compelled fuck shit up and take a few bites of passerby along the way. So, this is far from cinema. More of a drive-in make-out movie for October 1980 and the sounds on this LP reflect that. Part horror/suspense and part European skin-flick score, the film isn’t sure what it is either. However it was one of the 39 films successfully prosecuted and banned in the UK during Britain’s Video Recording Act of 1984. Apparently the version I was able to track down was the American version which was heavily edited to receive an R rating down from an X which explains a lot for me. This is just a bad movie (bad to the bone). It is spitting in the face of convention just for the sake of doing it. Shaking the cages of the dominant paradigm, rebellious and misguided, it attempts to forge new ground by melding two naughty genres to create something that no one would be proud of… excepting one A. Blonksteiner (Alexander/Alessandro). It’s weird, it’s funky, and it is unacceptable to take bites out of your neighbor’s pervy under-age daughter but if you jus’ wanna shake yo’ thang to these killer grooves Honey, that is just fine.

White Gourd – “Magician Le Diable” – [Psychic Sound Recordings]

whngr   5/3/2020   12-inch, A Library

Meandering Occult Abstraction

Choral sounds weave through strata of alto saxophone and murmuring electronics calling to mind a corruption of Gregorian chants that cast aural spells and conjure sonorous spirits to dance among flickering candles and tiny tumbling plumes of fragrant smoke in a strange and meditative ritual. Tumbling hand percussion and shimmering cymbals conjoin with empty space and swells of ambient abstractions. Repetitive bass lines, raspy cries, pulses of minimalist organ both beautiful and haunting until the very end when the sounds begin to unravel into a menacing admonition of devil worship.White Gourd is the conceptual realm of Suzanne Stone (Million Brazilians) whose live performances employ(ed) tarot imagery and ominous theater that draw the audience into a confrontational and disturbing dream-realm of the crooked mage and her corrupted sonic familiars. A performance that I aspire to witness if and when the plague of men subsides. Compelling cover art designed and printed Grant Corum.


Acrylics – “Sinking In” – [Iron Lung Records]

whngr   5/2/2020   12-inch, A Library

Driving Spooky Hardcore

Santa Rosa’s Acrylics are rowdy. They’re pissed-off, they’re tripped-out, and they are chock full of cake. Between a deluge of down-stroke hooks and squealing feedback you’ll find ethereal, reverb soaked washes of melancholic guitar diving through synthesizer oscillations, vigorous drum-kit malice with beautifully crisp strikes to the snare (throat), and a bass throttling worthy of misdemeanor assault. Orbiting around the churning electric guitar, these tracks are adroitly mixed, emotive, and raw with a glistening dollop of psychedelia (scope the liner notes and video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPGhsQo_4UE. to witness their enigmatic cake theme). There is a killer intro, a beautifully ominous ending and two meandering interludes that offer brief respites from the suffering, confusion, and venom that is spread liberally over the rest of the recording. In contrast to the introspective and personal lyrics the sounds emitted are aggressive, confrontational and is, in its essence, an album that provides the perfect backdrop for skating pools, serrated spatula fights, and eating cake… or perhaps all three at once.

Wound [coll] – [Carbon Records]

abacus   4/29/2020   12-inch, A Library

homage to the gueetar in all its gloree, an Americana that’s more postmodern in its primitive I think. short, accessible blurps celebrating the six string in all sorts of styles. what starts off as some plucking pleasantries gets thrown in the deep end of all sorts of experimental weirdnesses: psychedelic folk noise, trip ambient, stoner drone.. plenty of heavy hitters in here and too many familiar faces to even begin to name but I will anyways: a few of my favorites are the zone switch slap in the face by Bill Nace, Daniel Bachman’s surprisingly regal yet ethereal meditation, former Bardo Ponds Curanderos channeling some sort of alternate history, James Plotkin really knows how to mix a collage (and mastered this here comp of course too), sparse melodies throughout this compilation but really shine stark on Michael Morley, Wendy Eisenberg may just be the best new reinterpretations of the blues I’ve heard.. I’d say this is about a third just guitar tracks and the rest range in all different approaches so try one out, there’s definitely something here to suit everyone. oh yeah and check out the liner notes by John Olson on this one, I’m sure he’s got something interesting to say about it.

Flores, Miguel – "Lorca / Lost Tapes 1989-1991" – [Buh Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/22/2020   12-inch, A Library

Living in the quaranteen-age, I’ve yet to hold this album (no searching for locked grooves or secret messages etched in runout). That said summoning Flores’ spirit and sounds via the web, I was able to still fall under the spell of this collection. Ethereal sounds, perhaps too good for this world, like the man being honored here – Federico García Lorca. Flores tribute to the assassinated Spaniard is homespun and heartfelt, from a pensive opening of raindrop guitar and piano trickling beneath looming synth clouds, and then into II with a gentle guitar ballad
and a casio soaring like Yma Suma’s soul…the album is a striking accompaniment to a play we won’t see. That said it could double as the imaginary soundtrack to David Lynch remaking El Topo. Flores, a drummer in other forms like Pax, a heavy Peruvian late 60’s psych band, here mostly forgoes the sticks or strident percussion, instead building
moods. III feels like a bit of BBC, IV has some squeaky drums, whistles and Flores shaman chanting, all in a lush garden of reverb. Great! V revs up the skins and feet for an insistent little dance. VI is succubus city. VIII
has quick temper timbred xylosounds of some sort, and the ghost of Maya Deren on sax. Really the whole album has a haunting vibe. VIII visits the opening pensive cloud formation. There are two digital beauties our vinyl may be lacking, but worth tracking down and/or waking up your girlfriend for. The whole album as is has a very nice flow, with the circular ending. Nice that this work of Flores can bloom again via Luis Alvarado’s Buh label out of Peru.

El Hombre del Hambre

Eisenberg, Wendy – "Its Shape Is Your Touch" – [Vin Du Select Qualitite]

Thurston Hunger   4/22/2020   12-inch, A Library

Oct 2018 release, talented tangled fingers on solo guitar (as is the apparent M.O for the Vin Du Select Qualitite label). The opening cut named after deceased artist Sol LeWitt lost me, but in the way Derek Bailey’s work would lose me. Maybe I’m clutching too much to a map that no longer applies. Eisenberg uncertainty principles applied to note selection and rejection? Dipping into “Lethe” track 3, all is forgotten which right about now is about as promising as life gets. That has a great blend of peace and tension, discordant clusters hang in space, the pace is relaxing, with a few flourishes of finger-picking that will bloom later on in another river “Eridanos” which has a lot of furious eddies of playing. Between them “Early November” is dusky and somewhat bouncy. “Designated Mourner” is pretty, with a spider-like balancing of dissembled chord to dissembled chord. “Sawn” speaks to its technique, fingerblade friction used to saw notes off the strings at times, some bluesy 7th comfort tossed in for good measures. The album has a tipsiness to it that is part of its charm amidst avant brainiac complexity. The closer, “All Saints” is a guitar pretending to pop bubble-wrap and/or be leaky faucet. Shape-shifting suits Ms Eisenberg well, as Lexi mentioned check out Birthing Hips also there is Editrix, both of which kinda rule.
-Thurston Hunger

Hopkins, Lightnin’ – “Rockin’ At Herald” – [Wax Love Records]

mickeyslim   4/17/2020   12-inch, Blues

12 head-boppin’ tracks from Lighnin’ Hopkins’ Herald sessions recorded 1954 in Houston, Texas. While Hopkins was renown for his folk blues sound, this album leans toward rock ’n’ roll with Hopkins jamming on electric guitar accompanied by Donald Cooks on bass and Ben Turner on drums. A couple boogie tracks and still lots of slow, somber numbers.

As always, though, these are great tracks with great stories with virtuosic guitar playing. Lightnin’ Hopkins knows how to bring the house down. As the liner noters say, “roll back the carpet and put on your dancing shoes. This is no folk-blues session.”

Dig it.

Brainbombs – “Fucking Mess” – [Armageddon]

abacus   4/12/2020   12-inch, A Library

yet another botch trashpile from Swedish edgelordz Brainbombs (named after a Punishment of Luxury song if you care to look), this 2008 LP comes over 20 years from their exit of the womb and they’ve hated women ever since apparently. ripe with misogyny at every track, full of rape, torture, murder; they’re heavily influenced by Peter Sotos if that means something to you. sloppy detuned repetitive noiserock to leave you numb in the lips, the grime makes you want to grimace and the horns just sprinkle a bit of class on the excrement. like I said, all the tracks are pretty dirty: 2,3,5 are technically obscene what with the masturbation and peeing and stuff but technically 2 don’t got no naughty words and 5 you can’t understand a thing anyways so do with that what you will. 6 is the only really clean track on here despite depicting a pretty gruesome murder scene (but hey at least they murdered a guy this time). if the trigger warnings don’t make your belly boil maybe this is for you (hell, maybe it makes your loins tingle, ya’ll a bunch of deranged sickos anywho)

Two Daughters – “Recordings 1979-1981” – [Vinyl on Demand]

lexi glass   4/8/2020   12-inch, A Library

With this 2019 double LP set, Vinyl on Demand resurrects the sole pair of recordings from the Two Daughters. Known only by their first names, Anthony and Paul, the mysterious Brixton duo worked on the fringes of the early 1980s weirdo English experimental universe inhabited by Industrial Records and United Dairies artists. There also may be a connection to Simon Fisher Turner: the Two Daughters could very well be the muses for Turner’s later experimental ambient project Deux Filles, whose reissued work was recently added to our library.

LP1 features the duo’s first self-released cassette, 1980’s Ladder of Souls. Fragments of twisted chanting voices, haunting melodies, simple guitar patterns, and tribal percussion are looped and layered into minimal ambient works. On some tracks, the repetition can become tedious – like the siren-like wailing that carries on for ten minutes on “Return Call” (T5) – but overall, it leads to a captivating, hypnotic effect. Especially effective are the works with percussion: “Drums” (T6) sounds like it could be on rotation at the Kluba Cupol.

LP2 holds their first full-length LP, Kiss the Cloth/Gloria, released in 1981 (and reissued later in ’87 by United Dairies). Here, the ideas found on the first cassette come into full realization. The rhythms have a larger, richer sound (see the ecstatic “Gloria II”, T13), and the vocal chants are clear and strong. Layered with these sounds are lush strings, echoing gamelan, choral hallucinations, and even samples of Bowie.

Deny The Cross – “Alpha Ghoul” – [Tankcrimes]

whngr   3/30/2020   12-inch, A Library

Total Fucking Battery

45- local- power-violence- brutal- grind- hXc- hooks- misanthropy- heretical- raspy- note-intensive bass runs- blast beats- way too fucking short.Members of Spazz, Agents Of Satan, Municipal Waste, Plutocracy, Exit-13, Black Army Jacket, et al. lay down 18 tracks of bleak and devastating brilliance on this EP from 2016. I’m sorry that I never witnessed these bad-asses do their thing ’cause it is basically like my fucking dream sound ca. 1995 with nods to the M.I.t.B. bass slide thing and everything so I’m pretty sure I would have pissed myself. Now the country is on lock-down and the likelihood of pissing myself in public has become vastly less likely. Their drummer (Dave Witte) has moved back east, the majority of world is obliging to the empirical request to sequester, the economy has faltered if not begun to collapse, and this, like most of my dreams which lay in cinders around me, will never see fruition. Coincidentally that kind of negativity is a fitting mindset for an appraisal of Alpha Ghost. Though thematically a thread of recusancy, Heterodoxy, and the profane (no discernible FCC’s but FCC on Hospital Ballads [B3]) run throughout this blistering, seething, pane of wax, lyrically these songs are overtly personal and emotive. Staying true to the genre but pushing the envelope of technique, expression, and to my mind, relevancy. 

-Hospital Ballads (B3)   Uninsured Fucked, inhaling disease Skin is scaling From inside I bleed Uninsured System in shock Blood is contaminated My teeth crack and rot I am not immune
  C. Ramirez  2016

The cover-art is appropriate as well, which in this time of sweeping global pandemic, can only be interpreted as God sneezing on his flock.

“I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.”


Ascended Dead – “Abhorrent Manifestations” – [Dark Descent Records]

whngr   3/30/2020   12-inch, A Library

Death Metal Fusillade

A massacre of iniquitous proportions surround a single track of euphonious yet unholy classical guitar (A5 Dormant Souls) that includes an adept cover of Last Ritual by death metal fore-bearers Possessed (B4). Wrathful drum abuse, shredding, battery, slicing, dive-bombing, guttural bellowing, finger picking, and ominous wind by this four-piece from San Diego, Portland, and then San Diego again. The drumming stands out on this album though the guitar work is also quite ferocious with a considerable amount of virtuosity which, for this miserable volunteer, is not necessarily, or even usually, a complement but Ascended Dead have unfurled an admirably vicious first album of extremely high-energy death metal that though forging little new ground does willfully and with malice aforethought lay waste to what remains of the blackened earth bequeathed to them by their progenitors.

O’Dwyer, Aine – Gegenschein

carsonstreet   3/27/2020   12-inch, A Library

Aine O’dwyer/Gegenschein

This is a mystical frightening drone. Just the kinda thing to help scare the peasants into believing. It really works on a number of levels including psych, classical, medieval folk and drone. Two side-long tracks. Gegenschein (gegen-schein) was recorded at the Franciscan Friary in Limerick city. Áine (awn-yuh) gained access to the Friary in 2012 and explored both pipe organ and space in its disused state. What becomes of a sacred space after the dispersion of the spirit, after the light has been switched off and it has been de-consecrated? Read the information on the back of the sleeve about the Mayan legend and interpretations of a new era for all earthly inhabitants undergoing a spiritual transformation. I love this record and so will you or you will be going to hell.

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