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Music Reviews

Esplendor Geometrico – “Selected Tracks 2, 1995-1998” – [Geometrik Records]

atavist   7/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

This double LP contains a number of tracks not found on the other records in the KFJC library by Spanish industrial pioneers Esplendor Geométrico. As industrial music goes, these are mild sounds that skirt the boundaries of electronic dance music, but seldom cross over to that genre. I found the record has, at times, a hypnotic quality ideal for working. The audacity of many of these tracks is their refusal to add anything else above a seemingly spare structure of beats and vocal samples—as if that should be enough. And typically it is enough. ES establish a script and stick to it. The record is extremely consistent throughout, almost to a fault. There are no high highs and low lows. Some tracks have more industrial textures and metallic sounds happening, while others are a bit more organic and borderline danceable. Highlights: track B1 is a bit more insistent and high-energy, like Kraftwerk with their hair on fire; B2 has a cool ethereal looped sample over a mechanistic beat; C1 has some intensity and a broader range of sampled sounds and clanging rhythms; C3 brings something vaguely drum corps and primal, adding just a few sounds along the way, like a buzzing cricket sound; and D3 kind of sticks out for the more playful sounds employed and the use of what could be the chanting of Tibetan monks—less industrial and much more EDM.

Madassane, Ahmoudou – “Zerzura, Original Soundtrack Recording” – [Sahel Sounds]

carsonstreet   7/12/2019   12-inch, International

Tuareg (twaa·reg) rock giving us middle east psych/drone sounds as it leads us on a journey. Tuareg guitar has become folk music in the contemporary Sahara. Originally political ballads, created in exile in Libya, today the sound has expanded to encompass everything from introspective love songs, blistering psychedelic rock, and synthesizer and drum machine. Zerzura is the first-ever ethnographic acid Western! In a genre-defying film, Zerzura follows a young man from a small village in Niger who leaves home in search of an enchanted oasis. His journey leads him into a surreal vision of the Sahara, crossing paths with djinn, bandits, gold seekers, and migrants. The Tuareg inhabit the Saharan regions of North Africa – Niger, Mali, Libya, Algeria and Burkina Faso. Tuareg is an Arabic term meaning abandoned by God. No FCCs in English anyway.

Darts, The – “I Like You But Not Like That” – [Alternative Tentacles]

Buddy Love   7/3/2019   12-inch, A Library

Frontwoman Nicole Laurenne claims that this album marks the first time the band has actually recorded in the same room together, previous records done via e-mailing tracks back and forth. Whether she’s having us on, the album does have a certain tightness and subtlety that supports her claim. 12 uptempo tracks that only disappoint when they’re over. The sound of the album is well though out, heavy on the fuzz, with strong psychedelic elements. Though The Darts sound is often referred to as garage punk, to me it’s more reminiscent of the early Yardbirds, with strong bass-doubling riffs, a good example being the title track (possibly my favorite). Love U 2 Death (my other favorite) takes the concept even further, at time doubling between bass and vocals; bass and guitar; guitar and vocals; tripling bass, guitar and vocals.

A heavy, heavy sound, strengthened by the fact that the band members don’t appear to take themselves too seriously, and are just having fun. The songs all seem to center about relationships (but then again, don’t they all?), with quick solos popping up here and there (organ, bass, guitar). The songs range from 2:03 (Japan) to 4:37 (Love U 2 Death) and are economically arranged. Short enough to make their way onto any playlist. Many of the tracks have interesting endings (e.g. Where’s the Rain, with a 50-second fade into feedback and rain), so you may want to do a quick scan of the endings to figure out how best to connect with your next song.

No FCCs.

Reptile Ranch – “Reptile Ranch” – [C/Site]

Thurston Hunger   6/28/2019   12-inch, A Library

Well-preserved Welsh jams from the late 70’s. So stoked to see this reissue after having a taste courtesy of a couple of songs off Messthetic collections. Reptile Ranch were tied to a Cardiff scene that included the Young Marble Giants, booklet includes their manifesto for busting out Z Block Records. Songs are poppy catchy in a certain light, but with a twitchiness that distinguishes them over the decades. “Waterhole” has a warped entrance, some orchestral moves in the dork, before a peppy bassline locks in, with those shimmery seventies keyboards sounding like a siren. Many tracks work in those sensible but simple synths from Simon Smith, who also sings and adds some guitar. Spike aka Alun Mark Williams, provides the snakey guitar work that cuts nicely. Phil John apparently was both halves of the rhythm section, bass and percussion. The LP includes some raw live club cuts on side A, for those who want the “you were there vibe” but the studio sounds bristle with youthful thistles. “W.T.B” (White Tyger Burning) marches and the guitars burble, “Lifeguard” has a tiny splash of early Roxy as the keyboards push and pull the track in little circles; similar keys on “Saying Goodbye” the album closer. “Lifeguard” even floats in some wood flute. Powered by dour outlooks (hello “Young Executives”) quite a nice bit all these years later, kudos to Stefan Christensen and however he made a Connecticut connection to the Ranch hands.

Hey, lookin’ up Chuck Warner (Messthetics/etc) old site, found this
http://www.hyped2death.com/z-block.htm

-Thurston Hunger

Frank Hurricane and The Hurricanes of Love – “Life Is Spiritual” – [Feeding Tube Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/28/2019   12-inch, A Library

Frank looks so much like KFJC’s luvvable Honey Bear, it makes it hard not to smile while just looking at the cover. Similarly for listening to these breezy, bluesy acoustic hippie jams. Puts a bandaid on your soul and
a banjo on your need. Twelve-string rings throughout some tracks. Frank cranks up the falsetto at times to let it soar through the valleys, dig “On a Hill” and “Johnson City Blues.” While there’s a lyrical (lysergical?) thread of going on a spiritual trip and his songs map out various destinations for tour buses and bussing, Frank is not above the cosmic joke. Dishing on Dylan, he gets “tangled up in pubes” and sees Shrymps as often as Burroughs saw Mugwumps. Well, the Shrymp’s seem more benevolent, though I’m not steeped in Hurricane lingo + lore. Watch out for the Tennessee Pigeon River Ghoul, he might trap Frank and you in a pool hall for eternity. Nah, you both can find yer way home via “Mooneye Travelin
Blues.” Me? I got stuck in a “Holy Mountaintop Rainstorm” digging a bit of brass and looking around for Jodorowsky and Rubin Carter.
-Thurston Hunger

Fuller, Jesse – “San Francisco Bay Blues” – [Prestige Records Inc.]

mickeyslim   6/23/2019   12-inch, Blues

Jesse Fuller is the one-man band. Fuller plays the twelve-string guitar, has a harmonica, kazoo, and microphone in his mouth rig, and plays a series of foot pedals attached to a washboard and the fotdella (a foot-operated bass guitar), an instrument of his own invention. The washboard needed to be lubricated before being played, which, for this recording, was “provided by oil from the finest Norwegian smoked salmon, which everyone at the session (except Jesse who didn’t care for it) was consuming with relish.”

Jumpy, folk blues from this Georgia-turned-California native. Fuller was an unsung, old-school, busking style, folk blues hero. Famous for his original “San Francisco Bay Blues,” Fuller’s music influenced folk and rock legends across the globe. This release from Prestige Records is a solid classic

Medium: Paranormal Field Recordings And Compositions, 1901-2017 [coll] – [Kennesaw State University Zuckerman Museum of Art]

whngr   6/15/2019   12-inch, A Library

An assemblage of recordings of and inspired by efforts to communicate with the dead. This L.P. is a companion to the 2017 Kennesaw State University exhibit at the Zuckerman Museum of Art and runs the gamut from quirky to schlock, dreamy atmosphere to interpretive high art conceptualization, with just a sliver of spooky. This is not what I was hoping it would be; unequivocal verification of the paranormal, irrefutable evidence of souls trapped between planes of existence but unfortunately it is far from it. At times engaging and atmospheric, at other times pure camp. Perhaps witnessing the exhibit would help to illuminate some of the more tawdry aspects of this album but on it’s own it appears to lack cohesion and credibility. Perhaps that is fitting, maybe the intangible should remain as such and the efforts to document the ephemeral should be unattainable and reductive.

ACxDC – “Antichrist Demoncore” – [Melotov Records]

atavist   6/12/2019   12-inch, A Library

ACxDC drops a slab of West Coast power violence with Antichrist Demoncore. Unrelenting riffs of pure aggression with plenty of thick tone to sink your teeth into. Two vocal styles comprise a dual-pronged attack: high-pitched screaming vs guttural/throaty/demonic. The speed is fairly full-throttle with some choice breakdowns. One track on each side is FCC-free, so outside of safe harbor it’s a minefield. Having said that, the FCC-free tracks, “Cheap Punks”, and “Keep Sweet” are pretty cool tracks, and “Keep Sweet” might be my favorite. It’s a bummer about the FCCs, because there are some great blasting riffs and good, fuck-all, anti-fascist lyrics. After two sides of tracks ranging from 34 seconds to just under two minutes, the 3:36 track at the end of the album feels pretty epic. A worthy addition to the genre.

Jóhannsson, Jóhann – “Arrival (Original Soundtrack)” – [Deutsche Grammophon]

whngr   6/6/2019   12-inch, A Library, Soundtrack

The soundtrack to Dennis Villeneuve’s time-bending science-fiction suspense film is strange and otherworldly with unusual voicing and heavily modified instrumentation that is as mellifluous and soothing as it is abstract and unfamiliar. Deep drone, alien vocal arrangements, strings from The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and beautiful if bizarre vocalizations from the Theatre of Voices, sparse percussion and an overarching minimalism convey distance, introspection, and liminal phantasmic qualities. Arrival was composed by the late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (Blade Runner 2049, Sicario, Mandy), and was scored during the apex of his relatively short but voluminous and perhaps influential cinematic career (the third of four films films with Villeneuve). He died like a rock star, at the peak of his game, his system flooded with alcohol and cocaine which, in my mind, makes him a legend and and also kind of an asshole. However, that is of little consequence, the sound(s) that he generated were brilliant, often employing near sub-sonic drones that would utilize the incredible range and volume of modern theater sound systems to mesmerizing and visceral effect. Rivaling both Motörhead and Holy Mountain era Sleep in obscenely over-the-top volume, I saw Blade Runner 2049 (another example of a [less than amazing] film that just happened to be an exceptional vehicle for Jóhannsson’s sound design) in a nearly empty theater and was thrilled at the way my rib-cage would shudder at the unearthly sound. It became tactile. I was immersed in a compressible fluid that was both turbulent and resonate. When the medium of air becomes that warped and disturbed we can be transported to a place that is foreign and dire. Not unlike outer space or the chambers that house the hyper-evolved “Heptapods”, the extraterrestrial demagogues in the film. Our atmosphere is as untenable to them as theirs is to ours so the linguistic protagonists must meet with these beings separated by a transparent barrier in an attempt to learn, with some great difficulty, to communicate with them and the consequences that come with first contact with a species that is technologically and militarily superior. This separation from the familiar is important to the sound and ultimately the feeling of the film. Jóhannsson was aware that “people are hungry for new sounds, and for the experience of listening to unfamiliar music…” and this awareness was what compelled him to make an extraordinary film score for a striking film, with one gnarly twist, about love, determination, and communion with our extrasolar squid overlords.

Cult Sounds [coll] – [Aberrant]

whngr   6/4/2019   12-inch, A Library

A fantastically disturbing collection of recordings of the members and leaders of 12 different religious factions widely considered “cults” and in fact this compilations selects primarily from twelve of the most notorious and infamous sects from around the world (short bios on reverse). What is most compelling about this album is however the incredible variety of the tracks. The absurd childlike simplicity of  the Shoko Asahara (A4) track, which considering the gravity and scope of his Aum Shinrikyo group’s actions including the killing of 13 and the poisoning of over 6000 and who was subsequently hanged along with 12 of his followers in 2018 in a rare occurrence of capital punishment in the normally life affirming nation of Japan, provides a real skin-crawling element to this release. However, it is not the only track with this quality. A stalwart rival for creepiest track predictably comes from the choir of the People’s Temple (A1), children sing merrily to a 70’s pop riff that does little to belie the impending death of 909 individuals. However, there is much more to this album than the macabre titillation of the body count. From the surprisingly talented crooning ballad by David Koresh “Book of Daniel” (A5), to the funky Beefheart-esque stomp of Ya Ho Wha (B1), to the jazzy saxophone jubilation of L. Ron Hubbard’s Apollo Stars (B2). Other standouts include the doom/psych composition “Lucifer Rising Pt. I” by Bobby Beausoleil (a former member of Grass Roots, an early incarnation of Arthur Lee’s, Love) & The Freedom Orchestra (A2) which notably, was recorded in Deuel Vocational Institution with the approval of Tracy Prison administration as an accompaniment to the Kenneth Anger film of the same name (Beausoleil was convicted of killing his friend Gary Hinman and fellow associate of the Manson Family in 1970), as well as the bitingly cynical robotic queries and command(ment)s over electronic instrumentation and dancy beats by Chris Korda & The Church of Euthanasia’s “Save the Planet, Kill Yourself” (B4), and perhaps the most unnerving (because it is potentially my favorite), an offering from the founder of the globe spanning Raëlian movement. Raël’s Viva la Vie Viva la Mour (B6) delivers a sweet and somber love song accompanied by a tenderly picked accoustic guitar that has me considering enrollment in his 80,000 member strong U.F.O. sex cult, though it is unlikely that I will find the time as I am currently immersed in practicing the Dark Arts at the most subversive cult of them all, the masochistic mind-control and sonic insubordination sect housed in building 6200 on the campus of Foothill Junior College. The most striking and perhaps disturbing aspect of this collection is the proliferation of hooks. It is an insidious reminder that music, at its roots is primal and inextricably connected to both memory and emotion. That for centuries the most powerful propaganda was employed first by the bards, then church, and most recently the advertising firm and their overlords, the architects and beneficiaries of the capitalist system. That the pop of today shall become the hymns of tomorrow, driving humankind into the compulsive recital of Dave Berry, The Beatles, Cyndi Lauper, and the Artist formally known as Prince in a prayer for deliverance from (or into) the maw (the lap) of the Prince of Darkness.

Aksak Maboul – "Un Peu De L'Ame Des Bandits" – [Crammed Discs]

Thurston Hunger   6/2/2019   12-inch, A Library

Holy Henry Cow! Dear 1977, you were more alive than I was back then.
Crammed Discs master Marc Hollander put together this band in ’77,
and this album originally came out in 1980, now released with
bonafide bonus work (see insert CD with vinyl)
“A Modern Lesson” is a Bo Diddley vs Les Georges Leningrand-standing
oddbop oddball. Followed by strings in syrup for “Palmiers en Pots”
which tangles itself into a tango of sorts, clarinets reminiscing
about the girl who got away when WWII hit. “Geistige Nacht” comes
along and it’s a sort of jazz-flecked prog instrumental. The curse
of diversity in full effect, along with a different language for
every song title so far. Next up an Italian title and a dry
drum and sahara-esque windswept vibe, plus either I’m hallucinating
or there’s an oasis filled with a Romanian maiden choir. “I Viaggio
Formano El Giaventu” snake-charmed by black heart the most so far.
Killer mesmerizing track! “Inoculating Rabies” rides a punk
railroad track with clarinet duet horns. “Microscope” is the
most “experimental” of the bunch, staining slides of sound
as microinstrumentals twitch under the glaring heat/light. Cools
off with vibes and electric piano after awhile (mandatory for any
flavor of “fusion”?) but kind of marches into some carnival
sounds. “Alluvions” has more of that prog-like, twitchy fusion
feel, but more comic, and some foley artist walking his horse
through the song. Clip clop and a fine Frith fretblast eventually.
Was there speaking in tongues on “Age Route Brra!”

The bonus CD (“Before and After Bandits”) rewards the long-time fans,
with new ones at KFJC likely to be born as this is our first Aksak
attack (we have a single track on a Recommended Sampler, and that is
all however Art Bears and Honeymoon Killers and Catherine Jauniaux
a-plenty oh my). Hefty booklet maps out various phases of Aksak Maboul
(apparently the band’s name, each word a form of “madness”, Arabic
first and French Slang). There is a current phase touring today by
the by, and a new album in the works.

Like sex in front of your pet (as depicted on the artwork) this album can
be a bit awkward but undeniably quite pleasurable, errm well, I’m guessing…
Shuck off your expectations, and enjoy.
-Thurston Hunger

Village of Spaces – "Shaped By Place" – [Feeding Tube Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/2/2019   12-inch, A Library

Village of Spaces “Shaped By Place” 33
My first thought on a blind listen : What if Bonnie Prince Billy
never saw a darkness? That was followed by a touch of Skip Spence
rowing gently through my mind. This is folk(y) record, where
there is happiness, there is psyche (opener dosed sitar-esque),
there is harmony, there is a family vibe… The trunk of the
family tree is Dan Beckman-Moon and Amy Moon Offerman-Sims
and the bark from it builds an acoustic guitar found on every
track. Plenty of guests climb on, up on a branch a KFJC uncle
even Phactors in. Lyrics are pastoral, if not purely organic.
Even when they graze the blues there is a sweetness, like on
“Tired for the Moon” (Perhaps that track is an apology from one
Moon orbitting another?) That said there is no Keith Moon
in the mix, this is a drum-free zone. It’s a gentle album,
almost an acoustic mass. How mellow? How about humming featured
on “Woodworker’s Litany.” That’s one of two covers of Maine
folkie Gordon Bok’s work on the album
https://staff.kfjc.org/spidey/zkid.php?id=819749
Speaking of Maine, where Amy/Dan reside also drops of Big Blood
are in the mix, “Light On” shines strong and Caleb from the
Blood is a studio mid-husband for this recording. It’s a calm
and well-adjusted folk-ified outing, sounds like Amy/Dan’s
young child snuggles in on “Berry to Berry” before the
“Neighbor’s Jam” gets spread out with a Van Morrison
drive-by reference.
-Thurston Hunger

Collette, Ned – "Old Chestnut" – [Feeding Tube Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/2/2019   12-inch, A Library

Feeding Tube regurgitated this stately 2018 “Chestnut”
from Kate Reid’s It Records in Australia. New Collette
produces a Melbourne slow-burn, acoustic guitar ballads
embellished in a dark shell of sound. Slow polished
piano on many tracks. A slight shade of synth here and
there to trace the melody. His songs tilt towards starkness,
if not lament. Cello appears twice to underscore the latter,
even on a track called “The Optimist” (a few brief rays of
light there including the rippling coda at the end of that
track are as bright as things are going get). The instro
“Wakanui” buzzes in some electric guitar, still this lp
operates nearer emotionally to Robert Wyatt or Richard Youngs
than Alastair Galbraith. Another instro, “No Wonder You
Look So Forlorn” hits the nail on its sad rusted head.
Collette’s vocals are paced with space, sometimes spoke-sung,
or brought conspirationally near kudos Rashad Becker’s
mastering. Other guest voices chime in notably with a
cool bubble of background vocals on “Snaky Song.” Faves
include “Sacred Cats” also a long building “June” with
Chris Abrahams of The Necks on piano. The nattily rattle
of “Stateless Brave” stood out, and echoed the “Forlorn”
melody from earlier. Lyrically, the album often hovers
over the abyss of death, but hey who doesn’t?
“But we stand in defiance of
the smoke that issues daily from the mortuary.”
Personally, I wonder if the cremators stand with us? Anyways
maybe more a slow-churn, than a slow-burn… Awaits your
urge to dirge in balanced ballads.
-Thurston Hunger

SFSM – “Word Of Mouth” – [True Hip Hop]

cadilliac margarita   5/29/2019   12-inch, A Library, Hip Hop


25th Anniversary LP release of a 1995 Originally hand-made cassette, now the stuff of legend. These young men of the Bay Area Hip-Hop underground are scrappy and intelligent; gifted wordsmiths rapping about life as they knew it – The San Francisco Bay Area of the early 90s, when young artists like themselves might still be able to survive by working hard and not being afraid to take credit for their success. This is a slice of life, and it listens like a series of recording sessions and street corner jams, caught on tape. Private asides, background noise, sound bites, atmospheric blips, and brilliant improvisations.  

Victrola – “Born From The Water (Demos 1983-1985) – [Dark Entries]

cadilliac margarita   5/29/2019   12-inch, A Library

Formed in 1979 out of Messina, Italy, the duo of Antonio “Eze” Cuscinà and Carlo Smeriglio only released 1 EP (tracks A1, A2 on this double LP) in 1983, and this is a collection of demos recorded to cassette between 1983-1985. Guitar and Synth. There are vocals, however, they are swallowed by production. If you want the lyrical scoop, have no fear, there is a nice insert that explains the melancholy stories behind each vocal track in fine detail. Very of the era. Very danceable.

Cop Killers, The – “The Cop Killers” – [Ecstatic]

lexi glass   5/28/2019   12-inch, A Library

Once upon a time, in a little planet called Earth, lived a vomitory breed called the human race. They were the worst kind of bastards on this side of the galaxy….

This 2018 LP revives of one of the strangest and most obscure works from the archives of Trax, the Italian mail art network active in the 1980s that counted Merzbow and Colin Potter among its members. The Cop Killers was a collaboration between three Trax operatives – or “units” as they called themselves – Vittore Baroni, Daniele Ciullini and Mark Phillips. The trio met IRL in Florence in 1982 and live mixed their cassettes together into a single work. The 90 minute take is presented here in its entirety, original hiccups, fuckups and all.

Baroni wrote the original script for this “spoken word industrial opera,” about a future world where those who show signs of peace or happiness are met with torture and extermination by an army of killer cops called, confusingly, The Cop Killers. Baroni’s narration – in English and the “dead language” Italian – details the gruesome, pornographic violence of the sick society. His vocals are sped up and slowed down, and collaged with Phillips’ minimal synth rhythms, Ciullini’s ambient spacey textures, sci-fi sound effects, snippets of recorded voices and sex sighs. Images of the d.i.y. art and materials from the original traded tapes are included in the LP’s liner notes; together it’s a fascinating artifact from early underground cassette culture.


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