KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Brandsdal, Kjetil and Warland, Thore – “Stavanger 11/12.6.2021” – [Drid Machine Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

If you were to tag this as experimental trip hop I don’t think the genre police would pull you over. The turntable has been drinking, not I. Kjetil runs this fine label (and has committed Noxagt acts on KFJC in the past) pairs up with drummer Thore Warland (Staer and Golden Oriole) and they spin out two sides that sound the way the marbled grey vinyl looks. The material is taken from the debut performance in Norway of the duo working together and is part of a new lp  series/art packaging on Drid Machine. Danceable musique concrete floor on side A gives way to a sort of Sun Ra funk eclipse on a cold meteor on the flip. Definitely more spacey on Part 2. Both sides deliver an outsider turntablism tribe vibe, with Warland not simply pummeling away on percussion (and he adds his own odd electronics). Oddly chilled and refreshing, like napping on a mortuary slab. Recommend setting your life support here to 45 rpm, but you can turn the turntables on Kjetil and pitch it down or up as the sonic spirits move you.

-Thurston Hunger

Cthonica “Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction” [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]

atavist   5/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

So cold…vocals like an icy wind that pierces all coverings. Numbed and delirious, the listener stumbles to a barren earth of jagged stones as the freeze takes over. Lo-fi drums buried in the mix like an awareness of physical harm being done, but numbed senses can’t fully feel it. The first track is an epic length of disparate parts, weirdly put together. Nihilistic death metal with black inflections gives way to a menacing atmospheric interlude gives way to home-recorded-sounding doom passages. Generally there are a lot of great tones and textures within a palette of death and decay throughout the record. Within this desolate medium, Cthonica unearth their own unique derangements. Debut double LP from 2019 by this Venezuelan project.

Dogsflesh – “Never Give In” – [Queer Pills Records]

whngr   5/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

Anarcho D-beat Punk

A thumb in the eye socket of Magaret Thatcher, two fingers up the arse of the royals, and a long middle one to the system, these modern times, and yer mum.
Good ol’ rebellion in the vein of Antisect or Icons of Filth with a bit of echo on the vox and a tiny gob of wanking guitar. 

Incepted in 1982 by Rob Moore and sometimes known as UK82, Dogsflesh would tour with GBH, Broken Bones, and The Exploited before hanging it up in 1985… and reforming twenty years later with the bulk of the original line-up. They have gone on to release several more albums since but this one is composed of their early works (82-84).

Oi! This slab is radio friendly, ya cunt! (no FCC’s)

There Were Wires – “Somnambulists” – [Tor Johnson Records / Iodine Records]

whngr   5/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

A sprawling and intense epic that weaves through the impassioned rage and confusion of youth, around quiet passages that required patience from an audience that was expecting only vehemence, gravid swells, terse punctuation, and arriving finally at an oblique and unexpected shore, a pensive cover of an independent juggernaut. Sonic Youth’s, Tunic (Song For Karen) will surely attract the attention of many listeners as an oddity or a trifle but considerable effort has been put in to this album (both in 2003 and in 2021) that proves this was no novelty. That this polished re-release, the first on vinyl, is a commendable and worthwhile effort to mitigate the failings of a label in financial ruin and one where considerable pains have been taken to inject new life into a recording that feels modern and relevant after 20 years relegated to a shelf. 

There are many paragraphs written and interviews available that explore the band, this release, Iodine’s role in its lack of promotion, and the thoughts and feelings surrounding them for those interested in the history of this primarily unsung project, but let it be said here, in this miserable volunteer’s review, that I might not have given this album a chance in 2003 if I had heard it. I might have said something like, “This new brand of hardcore is too high-minded and erudite for me, I appreciate passion and vision over virtuosity… etcetera”. But I was interested after two songs and hooked by the end of the album… after a single listen. No small feat, being as jaded as I am.

Many of the current DJs may pan side A, favoring the meandering and (slightly) more gentle B side but this is a fully realized album, slightly disparate from the projects of their ilk, with an ebb and flow, passages, and chapters that all work together to create a cohesive tale. A sonic novella and a beautiful, if somewhat dark, snapshot of a bygone era by four young men in their prime and the label that would not let their past transgressions lie.

Talbot Brothers of Bermuda, The – “Talbot Brothers of Bermuda, The” – [Maaula Records]

aarbor   5/18/2022   12-inch, International

The Talbot Brothers of Bermuda were a musical group based in Bermuda that were among the most popular calypso performers of the 1950s. The band was composed of brothers Archie (lead singer, acoustic guitar, harmonica), Austin (acoustic guitar, harmonica), Bryan, a.k.a. “Dick” (tipple, a large, 10-stringed ukulele), Ross, a.k.a. “Blackie” (electric guitar) and Roy Talbot (bass), and their cousin Cromwell “Mandy” Mandres (accordion). Their sound is a variation of Trinidadian calypso in a smooth melodic style influenced by popular music. They performed and recorded cover versions of calypso classics in addition to their own originals, and were a popular attraction in local hotels. This record was originally released in 1958. AArbor

Spence, Joseph – “Encore: Unheard Recordings of Bahamian Guitar and Singing” – [Smithsonian Folkways]

aarbor   5/18/2022   12-inch, International

Joseph Spence, who died in 1984, was a Bahamian guitarist and singer. He is well known for his vocalizations and humming while playing the guitar. A number of musicians, including Taj Mahal, the Grateful Dead, Ry Cooder, and Olu Dara,were influenced by and have recorded variations of his arrangements of gospel and Bahamian songs. Spence played calypso, blues, folk music and sacred songs. He played a steel-string acoustic guitar. Nearly all of his recorded songs have a guitar accompaniment in a drop D tuning. You’ll hear his magnificent voice (singing and kind of scat singing) moving bass lines, interior voices and a driving beat that he emphasized with foot tapping. He adds blues coloration and calypso rhythms to achieve a unique and easily identifiable sound. This album from 2021 is the latest recording to be released of his work, making a total of 4 released after his death. His sister Edith Pinder and her family also sing on some of the songs here. The recordings are from 1965 (the peak of his career) his only New York concert, at his cottage in Nassau, Bahamas, and at Peter Siegel’s (producer/recording engineer) apartment in Manhattan. AArbor

Karloff, Boris – “Reading Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories and Other Tales” – [Caedmon]

aarbor   5/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

Boris Karloff (whose real name was William Henry Pratt b. 1887), best known for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in the various early Frankenstein movies. Here he is the kindly British story reader of Rudyard Kipling’s well-known JUST SO STORIES. The Kipling stories here are How the Whale Got His Throat, How the Camel Got His Hump and How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin. The B side is an abridged version of Mowgli’s Brothers from THE JUNGLE BOOK. AArbor

Sumrra – “7 Visions” – [Clermont Music]

Cousin Mary   5/15/2022   12-inch, Jazz

This fine piano trio from Santiago de Campostela in Spain looks at stellar time from different viewpoints in this album. Very accessible but unusual. The piano lead sometimes seems more in line with classical etudes than jazz riffs. I was curious about the language on the cover, it appears to be Galician rather than Spanish or Portuguese. Manuel Gutierrez on piano, Xacobe Martinez Antelo on double bass, Lar Legido on drums.

Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra – “Night of The Purple Moon, The” – [Saturn Research]

Cousin Mary   5/15/2022   12-inch, Jazz

1970 recording where the Arkestra is down to no more than 4 members, with some solo keyboard pieces. The first track on each side is a bit more accessible than most Sun Ra, while the remaining tracks soon launch into outer space. Sun Ra plays the Moog synth and also the Rocksichord electric harpsichord. Just when I thought the KFJC library did not need another Sun Ra album, this comes along to prove me wrong. With John Gilmore, Danny Davis and Stafford James.

Carney, Jeff – “Live Electronic Music” – [Lion Productions]

cinder   5/5/2022   12-inch, A Library

Recorded live in 1989 without any overdubs. Long, ambient slow knob turning and sound shifting electronics. Very much in the vein of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis & Klaus Shulze. Extended notes that intertwine and weave through like stars in light speed. Slithering synths. Sci-Fi soundtracks of the past. Mastered for vinyl by Krautrock musician and sound engineer Eroc.

De Gennaro, Matthew – “Chuang Tzu Motherfucker” – [Soft Abuse]

karma   5/1/2022   12-inch, A Library

Matthew De Gennaro creates mostly instrumental pieces that are complimented by ambient noise. This album, released in 2013, is no exception. On first listen, this is a light, classically inspired album full of major chords and deep symbolism. A few sprinkles of dissonance (what is a B-flat doing in my A major Shangaan Dance?) hint at the deep nature of this album.

This is probably not news to the erudite readers of the KFJC blog, but Chuang Tzu is a major Chinese philosophical work, and (or?) the philosopher who may or may not have created the work. The Chuang Tzu is full of parables, analogies, and stories that illustrate the formal logic, first principles, and teachings of Taoism. The work, similar to this album, is deceptively simple and hides deep, multilayered meaning.

The first track references a parable in the Chuang Tzu (work), where Chuang Tzu (philosopher) dreams he is a butterfly. In the dream, he was so sure that he was a butterfly, but then he woke up and realized he was Chuang Tzu dreaming he was a butterfly. Or is a butterfly dreaming it is Chuang Tzu? As the track starts, the violin feels like a butterfly floating from flower to flower. The harmonics and the drawn out lower (G) string add to the dreamlike, ephemeral qualities of the song. The high pitched violin towards the end and the pauses at the end of each musical phrase make you question: are you the dreamer or the dream?

Pip Proud was a singer-songwriter who seems to be part of the 1960s Australian counterculture, which I am now realizing had to have been a thing. Listening to Pip, I get Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd vibes with a decidedly Australian twist. Pip clearly touched De Gennaro, as the second track starts with upbeat, major guitar chords that grace your ear in the same way that your favorite drink envelops your taste buds. The spoken word part of this song seems to have been recorded in a particularly echoey high-school gymnasium. Other tracks that are tributes includes “Bells for Mompou” (with the chord sequences invented by Catalan composer Federico Mompou) and “Shangaan Dance” (a slowed down version of African dance music).

“Alley Violinist” references a poem by Robert Lax, also described as deceptively simple. The main theme of the poem is the question of whether one should sacrifice personal comfort for others’ happiness. The pausing, sometimes grating violin shows how De Gennaro grapples with finding an answer.

The next few tracks seem to take a break from the parables, but track 6 references the book of Amos in the Bible. Just as one can use a weighted string to determine if a building is level, one can also use their moral compass to stay on the straight and narrow. The low bass viol (I too thought it was a cello) symbolizes the introspection and grounded thinking that is needed when comparing your actions to your plumb line.

I expected to like this album, but not to love it this much. Like the Chuang Tzu, I will be coming back to this album many times to see what new meanings I can glean.

Gerycz / Powers / Rolin – “Lamplighter” – [American Dreams Records]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

On Lamplighter, the trio of Cloud Nothings drummer Jayson Gerycz, hammered dulcimer player Jen Powers, and guitarist Matthew J. Rolin come together to whip up a storm of mostly improvised jams that roil with joyful abandon. The group weaves together roots music, free jazz, rock, and drone to create mesmerizing, largely acoustic music that captivates, dazzles, and imparts wonder. Lamplighter is lightning in a bottle – the trio is firing on all cylinders, confident in their skillset and interplay, which makes the improvisational nature of the compositions even more impressive. A little psychy and a lot meditative. Relax and enjoy.

Ponty, Jean-Luc – “Live” – [Atlantic (Jazz)]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   12-inch, Jazz

Live is a live album by French jazz fusion artist Jean-Luc Ponty, recorded in December 1978 and released on April 18, 1979. Ponty was born into a family of classical musicians. His father taught violin, his mother taught piano. At sixteen, he was admitted to the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, graduating two years later with the institution’s highest honor, Premier Prix (first prize). He was hired by the Concerts Lamoureux in which he played for three years. While still a member of the orchestra in Paris, Ponty picked up a side job playing clarinet (which his father had taught him) for a college jazz band, that regularly performed at local parties. It proved life-changing. A growing interest in Miles Davis and John Coltrane compelled him to take up tenor saxophone. One night after an orchestra concert, and still wearing his tuxedo, Ponty found himself at a local club with only his violin. The rest is jazz history.

White Manna – “First Welcome” – [Cardinal Fuzz]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

White Manna is a psychedelic/space rock band from California. Fueled by mystic forces hidden behind California’s Redwood Curtain, White Manna has been feeding heads a steady diet of transcendent jams for quite some time. White Manna’s longevity as one of the leaders of the modern psychedelic movement can be attributed to their willingness to introduce new elements to their sonic repertoire. Initially, these moves were subtle, but as the band has moved on through the years, these moves have become much more pronounced. So, here we are with First Welcome, an album that features warbled country leanings, airy blooms of ambience, and occasional hints of a German yesteryear, all implemented into the band’s signature hazy and spacey sound. First Welcome is the eighth full length album from this ever-evolving band. First Welcome is a product of the COVID era, with much of the recording happening in quarantine or while socially distanced. The band’s process relied on communicating via email and sending music files back and forth.

King Jammy – “King Jammy Destroys the Virus with Dub” – [Greensleeves Records Ltd.]

rasbabo   4/26/2022   12-inch, Reggae

Basically the title says it all. From deep within the Laboratory of Dub, King Jammy and his assistants discovered that the virus is sensitive to heavy drums, bass, and echoing effects. The split screen artwork shows the evolution from the lab to the hi-tech dub roving assault vehicle that shoots laser beams of dub directly into the virus. Luckily for humankind, we have KJ on the scene.

Old school riddims ramped up and remixed for 2022. Heavy bass, sharp snares, rattling hi-hats, lots of cool FX, but never over-cooked. A verse or two of vocals are scattered in and out, but mostly instrumentals. The musicians aren’t listed, so we’ll have to dig deeper for that. I’m sure Fauci can’t dispute this, these dubs are just what the Doctor ordered.

Dub Now to Save Humanity.

Ras Babo

Years – “Rats” – [Self-release]

Max Level   4/17/2022   12-inch, A Library

Noisy rock out of Oakland, with bluesy, folky, and country touches. Singer-songwriter Kyle Ranson fronts an honest-sounding, solid-but-not-overly-polished band that gets the point across. Slide guitar all over the place. Some harmonica. Reminds me of American Music Club but friendlier. Songs are around 2 to 4 minutes in length. Totally enjoyable.

Shilo, J.P. – “Jubjote” – [Heavy Machinery Records]

cinder   4/13/2022   12-inch, A Library

A nightmare fueled dream state through Twilight Zone-esque themes and forlorn thoughts. As the cover art depicts, there’s beauteous pipe organ (Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ) sounds that drone and float, drifting along with some electronics, guitar and such. It’s glorious. JP deadpans a story akin to Randy Greif, Edward Ka-Spel & Blood Axis/Les Joyaux De La Princess. I recommend laying flat on your back in the dark, closed eyes, and let it soak through your mind.

Loopsel – “Spiral, The” – [Digital Regress]

cinder   4/13/2022   12-inch, A Library

Solo project of Elin Engström from Sweden. Sounds of a fantasy daydream, but also sparked with darkness. There’s light rhythmical tendrils, which then take a harsh right turn into industrial anger. Not noise, not pure evil, but a slight sinister edge behind the guitar and electronics. Experimental haze. A glowing golden hilltop with black storm clouds. 

Scissor Girls, The – “Scissor Girls, The” – [Jabs (2)]

Thurston Hunger   4/12/2022   12-inch, A Library

Origin story for Scissor Girls, once upon a cassette (circa 1992) now a slab of vinyl. Azita Youssefi’s vox nicely mixed btw, percussive with that punk swagger stand out. She’s no girl in trouble, she IS trouble. Sue Anne Zollinger on guitar is sharp and slashy, those brittle distorted chords and some of that math-by-odd-numbers note playing that are part of the no-wave vibe. Discordant and more abrasive at its time, 30 years later it feels like home, to me at least. Heather Melowic ties it up with a Ramones-y approach to the drums. As befits its humble demo beginnings, this album is pretty short and stripped down. On “Riveted” there’s a hint of the art damage that would be added when the band got Load-ed to a (pretty amazing) label back then.

One aside about the Jabs label, run by Ethan Swan it’s interesting in an era where one hears about nano-pennies per play on various streams, that he’s striving to be super transparent on production costs and profits. It ain’t a Rochester-to-Riches tale, but as labors of love go especially in an internet world where everyone is watching/listening/creeping, it’s laudable.

This EP is a cool artifact, and for some maybe an introduction to Chicago No Wave and beyond (connecting to Bulb Records, Zeek Sheck, Weasel Walter as Zelig and more). Dig in, despite what Azita assails on “Gamma E-Ray-Ser” there is a victory of sort.
-Thurston Hunger

Copyright © 2022 KFJC 89.7 FM
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
Public Inspection File