KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Vatican Shadow – “Byzantine Private CIA” – [Hospital Productions]

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

Warm pulses, decaying throbs, slithering oscillations, languid drone, and ghostly abstractions to lull you into a somnolent repose.
Dark-ambient, light-industrial, with dulcet techno leanings and in curious contrast with the packaging and imagery suggested by the track titles listeners will find themselves swimming in a soothing bath of audial electronics.

This 2019 vinyl re-release of the 2010 cassette by the prolific Dominick Fernow (Prurient, Cold Cave, Tortured Hooker, et al.), architect and founder of Hospital Productions, Byzantine Private CIA is a lush journey through a shadow-world of clandestine energies vying for control of our subconscious minds. Though at times somber and perhaps unsettling for some, it is in its entirety, a lavish slide through the dreams of an undercover operative deep within enemy lines.

JFK – “Nganga” – [Chondritic Sound]

lexi glass   3/11/2020   12-inch, A Library

This 2017 LP marks the revival of JFK, the solo project of Anthony Di Franco (of Ramleh and Skullflower) that dates back to the mid 80s. Nganga is the word for a cauldron used in the ceremonies of the Afro-Cuban religion Palo, used by practitioners to capture and control the spirits of the dead. To play this record is to descend into this magic vessel and face the furious energy within its iron walls. Much of the album is driven by the violent rhythms that suggests JFK’s later work (such as 2018’s Weapon Design, in our library), from the relentless bombardment of “The Scythe” (T1), to the fiery maelstrom of “Star-Killer” (T2), to the bloody grind of the war “Machinen” (T3), to the gut punches of the title track (T4). The final tracks preserve this intensity, but the fearsome chorus of “Zarathustra” (T5) and the radiant tones on closer “Minerva” (T6) transcend the terror.

Sun Worship – “Emanations of Desolation” – [Vendetta]

atavist   3/11/2020   12-inch, A Library

The sound of Germany’s Sun Worship is associated with a particular kind of black metal that features expansive atmospheres and longer compositions, and are sometimes compared to bands like Wolves in the Throne Room and Ash Borer. The guitar rips the air like a chainsaw and the blast beat drums rattle the earth. The production quality is relatively good—the guitar work is clearly discernible and the cymbal crashes don’t overwhelm the mix. One of Sun Worship’s distinctive features is the vocal style. It’s a weak point for some black metal observers on the internet. For this listener, there are shades of a very hoarse Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, Sumac, et al) captured live. Fortunately I don’t find it too distracting, but there are parts where he actually sings, like in Track 4, “Torch Reversed”, and it almost doesn’t work. At the very least, the eccentric vocal style offers a different texture/dimension. Track 1, “Zenith”, is a brief intro track that starts off with a marching drum beat with some spacy sounds thrown in. Soon, the full power of the sound drops in with the second track, “Void Conqueror”. Track 3, “Devoured”, has ringing chord structures and evil riffs amidst the relentless drums. The epic quality of the record really picks up with track 5, “Soul Harvester”, and continues for the remainder of the tracks. Side C is particularly riveting on this count, starting with the cold, minimal, brooding synth intro of “Pilgrimage” all the way through the captivating “Coronation”. This record demands my attention and keeps me guessing how they will bend and shape their ferocity next.

Da Damn Phreak Noize Phunk – “Electric Crate Digger” – [!K7 Records]

aarbor   3/4/2020   12-inch, A Library

Da Damn Phreak Noize Phunk is Oliver Bondzio and Ramon Zenker. They also release music as Hardfloor with more of an acid sound. Both have collaborated with numerous others. Released in the UK in April of 1999  Electric Crate Digger is their very first release as Da Damn Phreak Noize Phunk. Driving rhythms, wah wah guitars, break beats, trip hop and an appealing dancey vibe. – AArbor  

Oil Thief – “Colony, The” – [Chondritic Sound]

whngr   2/27/2020   12-inch, A Library

Sinister industrial sounds that utilize inexorable rhythms to pummel the listener in to subjugation before repeated dustings by complex layers of often mellifluous noise and abstractions are applied that sooth, divert, and console at which point the bludgeoning continues, beckoning us to the dance floor.

Electronic beats, squeals, formidable thumps, violin, static, synthesizer, drones, footsteps, foghorns, echoes, pulses, modulated voices, choral elements, organ, and a bit of anguished yells just towards the conclusion. Oil Thief is the solo project of Lee Landey, Bass player of the heavy psychedelic project Wand from Los Angeles (Excellent and represented in our Library). And… we’d like to welcome you to the party Doctor Dark-Industrial, may I introduce you to Lady Techno and her bastard son, Light-Noise. They’re going to guide you through a tour of your subconscious, casting a strobe light upon your nightmares and the deep-seeded neuroses of your battered inner-child but along the way you’ll meet a primal God-queen that will bless you with a wreath of profound beauty, pin you with the coveted Medal of Introspective Valour, and kiss your cheek with lips like a blooming rose. Released in 2019 in a gorgeous (double) jacket and limited to 300 copies, The Colony is a tightly woven dichotic tapestry. Statuesque and erudite, a beautifully constructed cloak of contrasting elements that are confrontational and heavy yet lovingly adorned with a sumptuous array of conciliatory sonic ornament by a thoughtful, adroit, and considerate architect.

Da-Sein – “Mirror Touch” – [Galakthorro]

lexi glass   2/27/2020   12-inch, A Library

Da-Sein are the Madrid-based electronic duo of Fernando Paino and Kas Visions. Mirror Touch is their second release on Galakthorrö, the German industrial label run by Mr. and Mrs. Arafna, whose groups Haus Arafna and November Növelet (in our library, a personal favorite) define the label’s despairing, yet seductive sound. Da-sein continues in the Arafna aesthetic, with deviant dance rhythms and minimal analog synths providing the backdrop for Kas Visions’ cold, empty vocals. “Marazm” (A5) hovers with a lethargic beat, “Beauty for Ashes” (B1) has a driving pulse dusted with noise, the title track (B2) picks up on a dead dial tone melody and Kas’ distant voice arriving over a bad connection, while her voices is twisted and tattered on “King ov Pain” (B3). Her lyrics, in English and Polish, are included on the LP’s sleeve.

Shit and Shine – “Doing Drugs, Selling Drugs” – [Riot Season]

whngr   2/27/2020   12-inch, A Library

Electronic Brain-melting Curb-stomp

Ponderous drums, squealing guitars, thundering bass, decaying riffs, binary disruption, affected vocal gripes, slightly buried guitar noodling, synthesizer, Musique concrète, dirge, aural sculpture. Heavily effected everything. Intensity of hardcore punk, complexity of jazz, both highly percussive and at times arrhythmic, psychedelic, unnerving, base, guttural defiling of nuance yet clever and informed. An excellent album for segueing between noise/industrial and sludge/power-violence. Shit and Shine is the London based project of Craig Clouse. Originally from Texas, which certainly explains some of the shit kicking qualities along with the cover art, t’was formed in 2004 and as of the time of this writing has released 13 full length recordings and several other splits, singles, and comps, has played on Brian Turner’s show on WFMU, has been awarded slot eighty-eight on NME’s The 100 Greatest Albums You’ve Never Heard list, and is fairly heavily represented in our Library, one of them being the aforementioned prize winner, “Jealous of Shit and Shine” (Riot Season Records). Recommended for alienating daytime listeners and making jockeys heart skip beats when it sounds like the cd player siezed for perpetuity before they realize that it is one of only three-hundred LP’s and vinyl don’t skip like that son.

Electronic brain-melting curb-stomp.Heavy drums, squealing guitars, thundering bass, decaying riffs, binary disruption, affected vocal gripes, slightly buried guitar noodling, synthesizer, Musique concrète, dirge, aural sculpture. Heavily effected everything. Intensity of hardcore punk, complexity of jazz, both highly percussive and at times arrhythmic, psychedelic, unnerving, base, guttural defiling of nuance yet clever and informed. An excellent album for segueing between noise/industrial and sludge/power-violence. Shit and Shine is the London based project of Craig Clouse. Originally from Texas, which certainly explains some of the shit kicking qualities along with the cover art, t’was formed in 2004 and as of the time of this writing has released 13 full length recordings and several other splits, singles, and comps, has played on Brian Turner’s show on WFMU, and has been awarded slot eighty-eight on NME’s The 100 Greatest Albums You’ve Never Heard list. Recommended for alienating daytime listeners and making jockeys heart skip beats when it sounds like the cd player siezed for perpetuity before they realize that it is one of only three-hundred LP’s and vinyl don’t skip like that son.

. Recommended for alienating daytime listeners and making jockeys heart skip beats when it sounds like the cd player siezed for perpetuity before they realize that it is one of only three-hundred LP’s and vinyl don’t skip like that son.

Segura, Javier – "El Sol Desde Oriente (Selected & Unreleased Recordings 1980-" – [Passat Continu]

humana   2/23/2020   12-inch, A Library

Nietzche and Huxley were early influences for Canary-Island-born Segura, and his intentionally off-the-beaten path musicianship reflects this. Eschewing the crass econony-driven music industry, Segura seeks to express his scripts with instruments. He uses guitar, Roland B3, percussion at times, and at other times ambient silences. On A2 and B3 you can hear the tribal beats that call to mind what it must be like to live in the Atlantic Ocean halfway between Spain and Africa. Segura’s primarily unreleased tracks are an expression of this unique artist’s vision. Read the liner notes and experience Segura’s unique perspective.

Kanenobu, Sachinko – "Misora" – [In The Attic Reccords]

humana   2/23/2020   12-inch, A Library

Folk music, Donovan, the Beatles, and Joni Mitchell all form the musical tapestry that makes up the fabric of Japan’s first female singer-songwriter. Sachiko learned to play the guitar in an informal way, and she composed her lovely music that same way. This is the American release of her one and only album that came out in 1972, right after she headed to the United States. People kept playing it in Japan, so that when she returned decades later to sing the songs live, the fans compared her to E.T. and could barely believe this “cool lady” was responsible for the music they knew and loved. Read the liner notes as you revel in this mellow beauty that has thankfully been restored to us from obscurity.

Fat Worm of Error – "Nzznzzzznnznznnn" – [Feeding Tube Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/23/2020   12-inch, A Library

2020 vinyl re-issue of their 2004 early-daze cassette. Though the Worm hails from Massachewzits, they share DNA, clothing and a sonic aesthetic with Caroliner. And add more than a dash of Angst Hase Pfeffer Nase. Noisey wonderment, circuit-jammed and jellied rolls of tape. Not only vocals on some tracks but lyrics printed on the sleeve, so you can crack the karaoke puzzles. Fleas and flies, and the squids are all right? In a better world than this one, these would all be recordings made by children’s toys, or maybe they are. “Tubes” has farty beauty, “Flea God reveals a weird insect kingdom underneath the floorboards of Pee Wee’s Playhouse. “Wolves” is nifty drifty until the jittery critters flitter your ticker. Some of the noise variety here reminds me of pulling a huge bandaid off. Quick little rips and tugs, hits of static, weird electronics. Hard to not love the daughter of the difficult rants (Jess Gordon) over the sound for me.
The Worm still turns!

-Thurston Hunger

PC Worship – "NYC Stone Age" – [SHDWPLY]

Thurston Hunger   2/23/2020   12-inch, A Library

PC Worship is Justin Frye and whoever he can fit into his basement at any given point. Ramshackle tunes with forays into improv captured in willful low-fi. Space is cluttered but varied, the recording raw. Electic guitar is set pretty sharp and shrill, but on tracks like “Heel” you might have it working with/against pretty pings from a toy xylophone. “Way Out” is a sort of psych number, but with a New Zealand feel. Frye himself caught a wave from Virginia Beach to NYC back in 2003 and has stayed afloat there since. This album, his first vinyl, came out in 2009 on defunct VA label Shdwply.

Wordless vocals shine on the first track, the two “Thrills” and “Ahh” that latter with some bass and drum lightning bolt therapy at the end. “Bali Thrills sputters in trumpet, while “Bermuda Thrills” closes side one with a beauty of a locked groove. And it feels like stoned punks summoning Popol Vuh.

B-side scream starts into a dirty acoustic mantra and then some devilish coda, grin and Syd Barret! B2 has R2D2-cum-chimp sax in another closet full of sound, drums bouncing off the walls – straitjacket jazz, no chaser. Drums stay strong right through the cramped halls of “Sunday, Sunday” – a rough gem! “Outer Woods” is for the illegitimate grandkids of Dead fans? Or maybe it’s just freak folk. Do I hear a robot snoring on the closer? More wordless vocals on that one too, no locked groove.

Is their name (and sound) a reaction to weirdness wraught by mere laptops? Better with hands/strings/feet/pedals/mouths/horns?
-Thurston Hunger

Ekuka – Ekuka – [Nyege Nyege Tapes]

aarbor   2/19/2020   12-inch, International

Ekuka is Ekuka Morris Sirikiti a griot from Northern Uganda, who plays the mbira (a metal thumb piano), and is the ‘musical grandfather’ to a whole generation of rappers and producers from Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. These are recordings that listeners made of radio broadcasts at a time (during the reign of General Idi Amin) when Ekuka didn’t have access to recording studios.  As a result there’s some distortion – but the mbira seems to shine through the murk. Lo-fi vintage recordings of a griot master with a remix by Ekuka as the last track. AArbor

Grim – “Psycho Sun” – [Steinklang Industries]

whngr   2/12/2020   12-inch, A Library

Semi-solo project of Japanese avant-noise artist Kunagawa Jun of White Hospital evokes feelings of touring a sanitorium and visiting with a variety of lunatics exhibiting an array of symptoms, ailments, and behaviors. Indecipherable, unhinged mantras informed by the traditional folk music of Tibet wind through the album, sprinkled with organ and elements of musique concrete. Tribal drums interlaced with arrhythmic scrap yard percussion, haunting terrestrial melodies (A6-Radio Wave Church), electronic abstraction and alien instrumentation at times both beautiful and sad (B2- Glorious Tower), elsewhere primal and frightening (B3-Dharma), the album closes with the title track which borrows (perhaps unintentionally) from Devo’s – Mongoloid, pierces it with buried squeals of feedback as Kunagawa unspools his depiction of a mad monk losing his way upon The Path of the bodhi.
Compelling and challenging, stark and complex. Psycho Sun is raw and extemporaneous while simultaneously appearing carefully cultivated and refined. Both ritualistic and improvised, reverent and profane with an emphasis on contrast very much in line with Kunagawa’s visual aesthetic; there is beauty within the horror and a lucidity beneath the madness.

Brel, Jacques – ‘Poetic World of Jacques Brel, The’ – [Philips]

Lord Gravestench   2/12/2020   12-inch, International

Jacques Brel was born in 1929 to a wealthy Belgian family. He moved to Paris as a young man and eventually became a singer and songwriter, achieving fame across French-speaking Europe by the late 50s. Brel is credited with taking the traditional French popular song (or chanson) out of ‘La Vie en Rose’ sentimentality and into more cynical territory rich with wordplay, social satire, and dark humour. Outside of the francophone world he was a cult figure in the 1960s, even captivating a young Scott Walker, who went on to cover many of his songs.

Brel could be pretty grim, but on this 1970 compilation for American audiences you mostly get the lighter side. There is bitterness here, but nearly every song is humorous, or at least playful in approach. Highlights include the mockingly misanthropic ‘Les Singes’ (The Monkeys) (A4) and the evergreen romantic comedy balled ‘Madeleine’ (B1). The bleaker aspects of post-war European existence, dealt with more explicitly in other of Brel’s songs, are present as mere subtexts here while his characters drink, flirt, daydream, and social-climb. However, more sombre moods can be found on ‘Seul’ (Alone) (A6) and ‘La Statue’ (B5).

Some arrangements are more elaborate than others, but the piano is more or less a constant. Brel, of course, has a great set of pipes, whether or not you can understand his words (the LP has helpful side-by-side French and English lyrics). The material on the B-side seems to be live, as there is applause between tracks. Dreamy.

Impiety- ‘Salve The Goat: Iblis Exelsi’ – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

Lord Gravestench   2/12/2020   12-inch, A Library

Formed in 1990, Singapore’s Impiety were one of the first extreme black/death metal bands from East Asia. They are still active to this day, and still revered within the international “war metal”/“goat metal” scene. This 2017 LP from NWN! is a collection of their earliest, rawest shit: 1993’s ’Salve the Goat’ 7” (A1-A2), 1992’s ‘Ceremonial NecroChrist Redesecration’ demo (A3-B3), and 1991’s rehearsal demo (B4-B7).

Fans of the rottenest blackdeath bestiality from Canada (Blasphemy), Brazil (Impurity), Finland (Beherit), and the USA (Nunslaughter) will be well at home here. It is excellent material like pretty much everything else from this project. Be advised that A3, B3, B4, and B7 are brief intro/outro-type synthstrumentals. Elsewhere caveman grunts and howls chase compressed and lumbering walls of bass, guitar, and cymbal noise as we lurch through cleverly composed yet Metal-Blade-proof devilworship rituals. Nasty.

Freedom Satellite – Soul Samba – [Vienna Scientists]

aarbor   2/12/2020   12-inch, A Library

Jurgen Drimal and Gernot Ebenlechner are Freedom Satellite. This is their first (electronica) release from 2000 which helped launch the Vienna Scientists label. The tracks on the A side: Soul Samba and Savor are 2 of their best known tracks and well worth a play (as are the 2 on the B side). – AArbor  

Vastum – “Orificial Purge” – [20 Buck Spin]

atavist   2/10/2020   12-inch, A Library

The Bay Area’s Vastum have unleashed their latest release, and it continues in the vein of their previous works, including “Hole Below” from 2015. This is considered old school death metal, and the band is frequently compared to Bolt Thrower, a band active from the mid-80s to the early 2000s. The old-school element comes from the riffs that are heavy and at times complex, but played at medium tempos that are seldom mind-bendingly fast or glacially slow. Two vocalists work well off each other: Daniel Butler and guitarist Leila Abdul-Rauf, whose distinctive vocal style can be found in other projects known to KFJC, like Saros and Hammers of Misfortune. An early favorite is Abscess Inside Us (A3). An off-kilter time signature teeters on a razor wire edge before dissolution swallows the end of the track. On its heels, the title track has a great intro, dripping with ghastly atmosphere. Generally, this record rewards a close listen, and each track has its merits. Borderline mathy/proggy structures are woven to support the overarching goal: to paint a bleak picture of shame, pain, and anguish from violence, including sexual violence. Riffs are held in check, so that the ultimate release covers the sky in darkness. To be sure, Vastum flashes the blades of previous recordings, but the cuts here are new, fresh, and deep. The haunting guitar solo in the final track crushes.

Allred, Joseph – "Traveler" – [Feeding Tube Records]

humana   2/9/2020   12-inch, A Library

These amazingly mellow and pretty folk tunes come to us from Joseph Allred in Boston. Allred is a master at guitar and banjo, enveloping the listener in layers of comforting acoustic notes and occasionally adding his voice to sing along. The cute illustrations of the tracks and the clever album design are in keeping with the homey feel of these tracks. Definitely in my sweet spot.

Million Brazilians – "Urban Fossickated Octave" – [Feeding Tube Records]

humana   2/9/2020   12-inch, A Library

Million Brazilians have moved to Maine where Caleb Mulkerin of Big Blood is. He did the tape loops and treatments on this album, as well as the engineering, recording, mixing, and mastering. Suzanne Stone’s alto sax is pretty great in the way it keeps the jazz feeling going amidst all the weird wonderfulness that makes this band hard to pinpoint. Grant Corum is of course on board, bringing especially interesting vocal directions to “Ectoplasm Programmed Dream (with Guide),” and Tom Kovacevic adds piano and synth at the end of Side 1. This is an almost droning, building aural experience and just right for the KFJC library.

Play The Astronauts & More, The [coll] – [Surfer Joe Music]

Cousin Mary   2/8/2020   12-inch, A Library

The Astronauts were a band from Colorado who were active in the 1960’s. Their records sold especially well in Japan and their version of Baja and other Lee Hazelwood tunes are legendary. Surf bands today still cover their music and greatly respect their musicianship. This album is an homage from two European surf bands – the Kilaueas from Germany and Surfer Joe from Italy. The tunes are faithfully rendered but with a modern European twist. Very fine playing and arrangements, this LP is very, very special.

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