KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Bender, John – “Pop Surgery” – [Superior Viaduct]

Thurston Hunger   1/14/2019   12-inch, A Library


The original CB? Circuit Bender? 1983 was when Bender’s
third and then final release came out, reissued right on
time 35 years later by Superior Viaduct. Well there was
some Record Slut and also mighty Vinyl-on-Demand action,
but the notion that Bender was ahead of this time is
pretty clear. Synthesized Cincinnati eclectic electronics
in the attic. Calling it “Pop Surgery” was a nice slice
of genius, as the tracks have a catchy wave to them,
it’s not a series of knob goblin spins. The percussion
too is almost cute and precise like a wind-up toy. The
music reminds me for some reason of the old Mattel
Merlin. More Cabaret Voltaire than Barnes and Barnes.
But the speak-sing, repetition of vocals and post
processing of them as well (see the end of “Blue”
or alien-tweaking voices on “Cows” where Bender’s
then-young song Max sneaks in) adds a spoonful of
sugar to the Surgery. His vocals can sometimes feel
like an old instructional video (“Dance” which you
can crossover to Detroit beats no problem).
Apparently the numbers with the song titles
indicate tapes from his bedroom/sonic laboratory
work. And he clearly likes having fun with the
tape itself, as on “Dance” and Amalgamelon.”
“Glass” is sharp, and a fave, just great sound
construction and a little disarming. “Meat” too
tastes sweet with a hint of cognitive dissonace with
a killer hook, well a meathook. Tracks come fast,
Faust and furious, but biting off two in a row in
a set is alright since it too 3+ decades for KFJC
to connect. -Thurston Hunger

Tapper Zukie – “Man Ah Warrior” – [Kingston Sounds]

Hemroid The Leader   1/11/2019   12-inch, Reggae

1973 debut, 2015 reissue. Badness to rock your body line. Deejay/ toasting wasn’t yet an accepted form. He was the leader of the Zukies. He didn’t leave the ‘enforcer’ lifestyle behind for another 3 years. If you eat pork there is a message here for you. Other messages too! +++

Sizzla – “Praise Ye Jah” – [Xterminator Productions]

Hemroid The Leader   1/11/2019   12-inch, Reggae

Smooth R&B reasonings- but the sentiments are as contemporary as the production is dated. Great vocal performances. Lyrics convey profound deep wisdoms. Now-time meditations – see ‘homeless’. Many others

Released 1997, a month after the classic Black Woman & Child.

Talent Spotting Part Two [coll] – [Twinkle]

Hemroid The Leader   1/11/2019   12-inch, Reggae

1992 compu-rhythms from Nottingham UK’s Dub Judah. Vocalists showcase style with dubs in between. Norman Grant/Twinkle Brothers sound.
A1-4 Perspectives on famine in Ethiopia. B4-5 atypical rhythm.

Orcutt, Bill & Corsano, Chris – “Brace Up” – [Palilalia]

lexi glass   12/11/2018   12-inch, A Library

If you’ve ever listened to any of the work from these two titans of free music, then you already know to heed the title of this album. Drummer Chris Corsano and guitarist Bill Orcutt have been performing together as a duo for years (see here and here), but this 2018 LP is their first studio recording, and it’s just as explosive as you’d expect. Orcutt’s singular sound is on full display. His guitar bursts with in a frenzy of wild patterns, digs into tense repetitive grooves, or, in the album’s most powerful moments, soars in ecstatic anthems. Corsano’s rhythms are the thunder to Orcutt’s lightning. He gives the pieces a heavier rock sound, but without dragging them down – his sharp drumming drafts his counterpart at every hairpin turn. Two brilliant musicians with unreal chemistry – it doesn’t get any better than this.

Van Goat – “Follow Me Under” – [Prize Fighter Records]

humana   12/2/2018   12-inch, A Library


To say this album breathed life back into me is an understatement. From the first song to the last, Van Goat is a band that makes you WANT to “follow them under.” The horns bring to mind the jaunty liveliness of a New Orleans funeral procession, the percussion sets up a heart beat beneath the catchy lyrics and fast-paced numbers that defy classification–is it jazz, punk, Americana? Only two slow down enough to be ballads, and they are “Nothing Matters” and “Saliva Monster,” both featuring the powerful female vocals of Lindsay Alexis. Aidan Ward offers lead vocals on the rest of these amazing songs. I LOVE THIS!!!

Akwassa – “La’ila” – [PMG Audio.CD]

humana   12/2/2018   12-inch, Soul


From Nigeria and a remastering of a 1975 album, this is just the ticket for injecting some funk into your life. Felix Day and Kevin Coburn make music that gets into your blood and makes your feet shuffle. The songs are long enough to satisfy your dance craving and lift your mood.

Welch, Fritz – “a Desire to Push Forward Without Gaining Access to Anything” – [Radical Documents]

Max Level   11/28/2018   12-inch, A Library

Strange constructions built with Welch’s overdubbed vocals. The Glasgow-based artist talks and rambles and exclaims and makes just about every kind of vocal noise possible. Voices on top of voices on top of other voices side by side with other voices. Track A2 is a short piece name-checking some of the USA’s most famous prisons. Side B is one 17 minute track. If you are a fan of vocal magicians like Makigami Koichi and Jaap Blonk, you’ll want to check this out. Edition of 300 on super cool green vinyl.

Bailey, Derek/ Goodman, Greg – “Extracting Fish-Bones From The Back of The Despoiler” – [Beak Doctor, The]

Max Level   11/6/2018   12-inch, Jazz

Two side-long tracks (20 and 21 minutes) of entertaining guitar/piano adventures recorded live in 1992. Bailey practically invented the language of modern improvised guitar and is in good form on this recording– scratching and jabbing, and occasionally projecting electric flurries of sound. Pianist Goodman spends little if any time playing the piano keys during these performances, concentrating instead on producing unusual sounds from the interior of the instrument. I could describe this record as a lot of plinking and plunking, but that would be selling it short– dedicated listeners will find some inspired music-making going on here. Well-recorded and a high quality pressing on heavyweight vinyl, too.

Phew – “Voice Hardcore” – [Mesh Key]

lexi glass   11/6/2018   12-inch, A Library

Recently, we added Light Sleep, an album that marked the reawakening of Hiromi Moritani’s decades-running solo project Phew. This extraordinary 2017 follow-up leaves behind the Suicide-inspired drum machines and synths. Instead, the works here are built entirely from Moritani’s powerful voice. Her vocals rise and multiply in droning, demonic choruses (T1, T4), her moans are destroyed and distorted by effects (T2), her repeated phrases spin in circles (T3), and her spoken word poetry, in Japanese, moves through these surreal soundscapes (T2). “In the Doghouse” (T5) gave me flashbacks to playing that Furious Pig record during late night graveyard shifts, though Phew’s composition is much more anguished and beautiful, and “Sonic Morning” (T6) ends the record with a soft, droning dawn. Spellbinding.

Dial – “Noise Opera” – [Feeding Tube Records]

lexi glass   10/30/2018   12-inch, A Library

Noise rock opus from this long-running avant-garde project. Dial formed in the 90s, when Jacqui Ham, previously a member of New York no-wave legends Ut, teamed up with Dom Weeks from Furious Pig and Rob Smith on drum machines and guitar for the trio’s first release, 1996’s Infraction. They released three more records over the next decade or so (these three in our library). This latest 2016 digital release was issued this year on vinyl by Feeding Tube. Two massive sidelong storms of guitar feedback, relentless rhythmic turmoil, synth sirens wailing like tapes sped up and slowed down. For brief moments the swells subside as Ham delivers her spoken word incantations. A powerful brew that will intoxicate fans of free jazz (this is Dial’s tribute to Ornette Coleman’s genre-defining 1968 album), Sonic Youth, the Dead C, and all forms of psychedelic oblivion.

Platonos, Lena – “Lepidoptera” – [Dark Entries]

lexi glass   10/9/2018   12-inch, A Library

Lena Platonos’ career in electronic music stretches back to the 1980s, but it’s only now that audiences outside of her native Greece are discovering her stellar work. For that we have to once again thank Dark Entries, that put out vinyl re-releases of her first three albums, 1984’s Sun Masks (added to our library a couple years back), 1985’s Gallop, and this LP from 1986.

Lepidoptera is the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths that undergo metamorphosis during development. The lyrics (included in the liner notes in the original Greek with an accompanying English translation) examine this theme of transformation. Platonos reflects on a young child at play (T4) and a notebook found in the street filled with the handwritten fragments of a schoolgirl’s life (T8), or paints more abstract scenes with her poetry. Her expressive voice – in verses sung or whispered, and filtered through electronic prisms – and piano playing contrast with offbeat electronics sounds – synths, drum machines, weird sound effects – to create moods from mysterious (T1, T4, T7) to dramatic (T6, T9), inquisitive (T2, T3) and joyful (T5). Bizarre, beautiful, a fascinating specimen of an album.

Modorra – “Putrid, The” – [Plague Island]

Lord Gravestench   10/7/2018   12-inch, A Library

Modorra (Spanish for ‘Drowsiness’) is a Death Metal project from the Islamic Republic of Sweden, boasting strong patinae of grindcore and punk. Coming from Gothenberg, they have a very particular sound looming over them in a historical sense, but this is absolutely not melodic DM: the closest they get to Entombed is in occasionally sounding like Nihilist– and is that not just the recording quality? I might as well say they sound like Hellhammer in that case (they kind of do).

Ultra-low-fi, scratchy, crackly shit pressed to 300 copies of 45rpm 12″ made from harvested gender-neutral cartilage instead of vinyl. Decked with D-beats and splattery grind blasts. The mad and jaundiced rickety rush for the end is in line with the kangpunk bands for which Sweden is also known, e.g. Mob 47. Thankfully no politics here, just decay and violence. Singer sounds like he’s about to throw up throughout. Lyrics are actually semi-intelligible. Have seen them described as Grindcore, but this is encrusted old-school DEATH worship appealing to KFJC’s extensive collection of Necrot, Abscess, and Repulsion releases. I think this was recorded drunk. I hope so.

Lithics – “Mating Surfaces” – [Kill Rock Stars]

Thurston Hunger   10/3/2018   12-inch, A Library


Portland Oregon four piece deliver the first full
length, picking up where their “Borrowed Floors” EP
left off. Angular anger, packed in little brittle
post-punk cuts. A weird blend of panic and calm,
especially in the husky numeric singing of Aubrey
Hornor. Her guitar combined with Mason Crumley’s
spark up a kind of minimal take on Television.
Mostly barre-chord-free, “Still Forms” has a sleazy
breeze to it, half chords on the half shell. Is it
their accidental take on reggae? “Boyce” closes side
A with a sort of slow police siren guitar interplay.
“Cheryl” is a steady song of unsteadiness, sounds
as if Aubrey’s singing “I’m not sure…I’m not sure.”
Vocal repetition and tight riffs chase themselves a lot.
Most of the album though builds energy when bassist
Bob Desaulniers can get a little more involved, and
drummer Wiley Hickson can pick up the pace. Songs
like “Edible Door” (!!) and “Excuse Generator” hit
like tiny TIA’s. With lyrics that saw your corpus callosum
in half, they feel like they are left over from a redacted
diary. But your knees are still working…old punk
dancing guy. That last track has a nice bizarro break,
beat poet with noisy improv.

Regis – “Manbait” – [Blackest Ever Black]

Thurston Hunger   10/3/2018   12-inch, A Library


Four Regis-sides offer eight different remixes. Karl O’Connor
is Regis, this collection processes a variety of artists, but
pummelled and polished into bleakest ever bleak glory by Regis.
O’Connor is also part of Cub and was Family Sex when he was
younger (which sounds nastier than it should.) Anyways this
collection holds together well, and if you are in for one
spin, you are likely in for all. It starts with a killer take
on Ike Yard’s “Loss” retaining the chopped up vocals (sounding
like a police radio scrambled) but adds low-end synth helicopter
that helps the voices to grate. Things get even murkier after
that for Dalhous’ “He Was Human and Belonged with Humans”
the voices here are not chopped but dropped into a vortex of
sound. The Regis recipe involves a deep bass, with a
relatively minimal but maximally brutal approach. Slices
of industrial sounds are burnished in with the beats, lots
of times I find the end of a remix (like “Blood Witness”
and “This Foundry” perk my ears up as the suffocating
darkness separates for a moment). But then again the label
is Blackest Ever Black. The closing remix of “Plant Lilies
at My Head” is the least driven, flowery by comparison
to the others. Heavy hitting otherwise, especially that
opening duo. Get Beat Up. -Thurston Hunger

Boy Harsher – “Lesser Man (Extended Version) EP” – [Nude Club]

Thurston Hunger   10/3/2018   12-inch, A Library


Motorcycle girl without a helmet pulls up beside you on the
freeway, never looks once at you, while you gaze at her. Casually,
she flips you off and then speeds off as her exhaust fills your
stupid sensible sedan. The exhaust tastes like this…

From the first thick bass synth notes, pitch shifted for your
discomfort, to the husky croak of Jae Matthews’ voice and
the well-tuned old school synths and drum machines, this
2014 cassette ep re-released on black vinyl spins a disco
dirge might beckon KFJC’s Belladonna back onto the dance
floor. Or the killing floor.

Agent Augustus Muller is Matthews’ partner in crime, the two
concoct a dark wave that is just about pitch wheel perfect,
his musical ambience and her vocal and pineal ache. If David
Lynch brings back his music show Twin Peaks for a third run,
and lets the still not-dead John Carpenter curate an episode,
expect this duo to wind up at the Roadhouse.

Coming out of Northampton (black?) Mass these days, but
spawned in Savannah, the same soil that Jarboe crawled
out of. Southern synth Goth at its most damned divine.

Side A slays, “Love” on side B is quite dizzying.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” – [Castle Face Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/3/2018   12-inch, A Library

Fuzz from Ozzz. 2014 release from his hard-working septet from Melbourne. They roll with two drummers in case one of them has to go to the bathroom or have a heart attack, right when a guitarist is hitting his groove. Side A pretty much tracks straight on through, some kind of funky tape edits and manipulation at times, but the jams aren’t going to kick themselves out. How much do they love their 1-4-5 drive to stay alive on this release, they pay a guy to play harmonica. Paying their rhythm and dues! Stu Mackenzie is the guiding force, on this album he’s got the boys on a journey to the center of the pysch earth. He pens some killer hooks and is not afraid to bust out the flute when needed. Other albums (they release 3 every
15 days or somesuch) go for more prog moves, or more chipper pop (at other times his voice and songs remind me of Game Theory).
But this 12″ released in conjunction with Thee Oh Sees’ label is a solid modern hippy trip (they even borrow John Dwyer’s Boss effect that gives guitars and vocal yelps electronic quick hiccups).
B side offers a more mellow shade of fuzz. Fans of the Liverpool Psych fests, should enjoy the riff wrath.

Hogg – “Self Extinguishing Emission” – [SCRAPES]

lexi glass   10/2/2018   12-inch, A Library

This 2018 LP is the fourth release from Hogg, a Chicago duo known for their writhing, raging electronic punk. Each track staggers between stark contrasts: vocals that range from spoken word chants to black metal screams, rhythms that shift from plodding bass thumps to propulsive minimal beats, guitars that growl with noisy feedback or launch into sharp rhythmic attacks. This tension is reflected in the lyrics, that express the strain of being pulled in opposite directions – between self-confidence and self-doubt, between determination and exhaustion, between the longing to draw people near and the urge to stab them in the face. At times I’m reminded of bands from our own local scene (Stillsuit or especially Jeweled Snakes), and after spending a week letting this record worm into my brain, I really hope Hogg come out here and join them for a show sometime. Released by Alex Barnett’s (in our library) new label Scrapes.

Alto! – “LP3” – [Trouble In Mind]

Phil Phactor   9/19/2018   12-inch, A Library

Pit veterans Alto! return with their third LP and they’re sticking with their track naming strategy, which means we start off with ‘Piece 14.’ Bells and hand percussion are soon joined by a chunky synth melody and then—woah, is that a whistle—we’re off into Señor Coconut territory. Do not miss the killer flute solo a little over halfway through. There’s the occasional sinister guitar stab, but combustion will have to wait, as this weirdo world groover stays the course. The next track, ‘Piece 12,’ opens with some late-night minor-key guitar noodles, and then BOOM, depress the pedal and it’s just non-stop doom riffage. Eventually the dust settles, and we’re back to our Tunisian opium den. A bongo player emerges out of the shadows, and it’s all over. Or is it? The flip is marked as two tracks, but they track together to form an extended percussion and synth workout in the vein of the opener. Has the torch of the mystics been passed?

Copyright © 2019 KFJC 89.7 FM
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
Public Inspection File