KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Deer Hunter, The [coll] – [Capitol Records]

whngr   10/13/2022   12-inch, Soundtrack

Russian Roulette Retrospective

Sappy orchestral strings, Russian Orthodox Choir hymns, traditional slavic wedding song, Soviet  marching/folk song, helicopters, AK-47, pensive atmospheric strings and sparse flute as suits the source material, and one patriotic anthem on this LP from the 1978 Oscar (among many other) award winning film (Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Sound, Best Film Editing) directed by Michael Cimino.

A harrowing tale of friendship subverted by war represented obtusely on this soundtrack. More of a document of the varied compositions and moods from the film than a representation of the subject matter and message, as this album does little to illuminate the listener to the grief, confusion, loss, betrayal, and morbid themes of The Deer Hunter. An excellent movie with a $6 soundtrack. Close your eyes and pull the trigger, if you land on “Struggling Forward” then it is your lucky day.

Chills, The – “scatterbrain” – [Fire Records]

Mister S   10/12/2022   12-inch, A Library

Another fine record from New Zealand’s singer/songwriter Martin Phillips with former titles Brave Worlds, Submarine Bells and the collection Heavenly Pop hits to name a few.

A quirky mix of jangly pop-folk sounds flavored with melancholia that continue to feed my obsession with music from New Zealand.  

I originally discovered The Chills/Martin Phillips in my obsessive collection of bands from the Flying Nun label, now on Fire Records.

This is the third line-up of The Chills first formed in 1980 which Martin Phillips has continuously been the chief protagonist.

Released 2021

Water Damage – “Repeater” – [12XU]

Mister S   10/12/2022   12-inch, A Library

Water Damage are a loosely termed, post-rock, droning Austin septet. From the Texas Island that is Austin, that has birthed the Butthole Surfers among other fringe rockers. This group’s using the motto, “Maximal Repetition Minimal Deviation,” creating a sonic bilge of subtly layered noise.

Borrowing from others before them, Water Damage operate in various configurations, with the proviso there should always be two drummers and two bass players on hand. Essentially a jam-band who hit record and continue until the tape runs out.

Play a la carte or use as a special seasoning to a layered mix.

released April 29, 2022 

Abkehr “In Blut” [Vendetta]

atavist   10/11/2022   12-inch, A Library

Abkehr is German for departure, turning away, renunciation, estrangement. With “In Blut” (In Blood) we have reverb-drenched atmospheric black metal from Germany. The audio quality is such that the reverb sound does not pose a detriment to the other tones. This is a solid recording with articulate guitar work, satisfying bass tone, and hissing/wailing vocals that don’t overpower the mix. Some compare this to Leviathan, a prominent figure in the US atmospheric black metal scene, and I think I hear what they’re hearing. The concept and execution reminds me of some of the black metal and BM-adjacent sounds of the previous decade. Side 1 (tracks I and II) is good, while Side 2 is better. Track III features a massive death march played at doom tempo. Insatiable, it threatens to devour the world before capitulating at last. Track IV begins with a simple guitar riff that evokes a desolation before the main din arises to envelope the listener in its cloak of hatred, until finally withdrawing into the black night.

Ghost Funk Orchestra – “Night Walker/Death Walk” – [Karma Chief Records]

carsonstreet   10/7/2022   12-inch, A Library

Back in 2016, producer Seth Applebaum released two EPs that marked the inauguration of the band Ghost Funk Orchestra. ‘Night Walker’ and ‘Death Waltz’ were conceived as one-man-band, reel-to-reel tape-recorded experiments that would bring together elements of all the sounds that Seth most adored at the time: tape-saturated drums, gratuitous spring reverb, surfy guitar, Latin-style percussion, odd time signatures, and Spanish-language female vocals. Initially released only in the digital domain and on a short run of cassette tapes, these two EPs that defined the early era of GFO are now finally available together on a single LP. The tracks have been remastered by Doug Krebs. Latin funk underlies all of these tracks. Very mellow, melodic and worth a play.

Various Artists – Circles Remixed [Sacred Bones Records]

carsonstreet   10/7/2022   12-inch, A Library

Moon Duo is a psychedelic rock band from Portland Oregon formed in 2009 by Wooden Shjips guitarist Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada. This is a 2013 release. Moon Duo’s Mazes Remixed album went over so well that Ripley and Sanae decided to do it again, and the results this time are even better and weirder than the first time round. With help from friends Eric Copeland, Umberto, K-X-P, Sun Araw, Zombie Zombie, Tom Furse, White Rainbow and Life Coach. Some tracks are more edgy than others but mostly this reinterpretation of Circles is great dance music.

Blanck Mass – “Ted K (Original Motion Picture Score)” – [Sacred Bones Records]

atavist   9/28/2022   12-inch, Soundtrack

Luscious dark electronics. Martial precision for a mind marching to war with everything, offset by tranquil moments shot through with unease. Though I’m familiar with the Unabomber story, I haven’t seen the film, so I’m assessing the work of Scotland-based Blanck Mass as I would any other addition to the library. These are short tracks that establish a variety of moods, though all have a tension rattling underneath them. As we get deeper into side B, some of the sounds get just a bit scarier, with jarring, clanging bits and crescendos. Interesting segues, beds, and superimpositions possible…

More Klementines – “Who Remembers Light”

carsonstreet   9/27/2022   12-inch, A Library

This Connecticut band plays extended jams that harken back to the gritty space rock sound of Guru Guru. Made up of Jon Schlesinger on guitar, lap steel and vocals, Steubs on mandolin, second guitar and bass and Michael Kiefer on drums, this group seems to improvise based more on atmosphere and vibes than anything else. They lock into a stoically cosmic mood and let it guide them into the stars. With howling guitar solos soaked in rippling, nightmarish effects, walls of fuzzy, crumbling distortion and slippery passages of ambient space, this record fits in well with the work of fellow astral travelers like The Cosmic Dead, Eternal Tapestry and Expo ’70. The one track with vocals, “Key of Caesar,” might at first appear to be a bit of a departure from the rest of the record. However, its pulsing layers of neon guitar and blurred harmonies coupled with its entrancing grooves keeps the tune in the same dreamy headspace as the rest of the record. Not in your face loud -just driving forward unrelentingly.

Manic Hispanic – “Back in Brown” – [Smelvis Records]

beastofbourbon   9/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

Vatos Locos Por Vida – RIP “Jefe” y “Hoakie”

Manic Hispanic is a Southern California based punk supergroup founded in 1992 by Mike “Gabby” Gaborno of rockabilly/punk band Cadillac Tramps and Steve Soto of Agent Orange and Adolescents. Lifting their name from a 90s hair dye (Manic Panic) and recruiting other Mexican American members of established punk bands they began writing parody and satirical lyrics referencing Chicano/Latino culture to accompany classic punk songs. They also dressed as East LA Cholos and took on stage names to round out their comedy infused gigs.

Back in Brown released on 9/16/21 (Mexican Independence Day) is the fifth studio album and the first after the deaths of Gabby (1965-2017) and Steve Soto (1963-2018). This album includes some of their last recordings. The band continued on at the request of the founding members, adding vocalist Efrem Martinez Schultz of Voodoo Glow Skulls. Retaining their satirical and humorous takes on Latino culture it also takes on serious issues that impacted the community during the Trump Era. The songs parodied range from 1970s Midwest punk anthems, 80s Horror Punk, Washington DC Emo, 90s Oi!/Street Punk, East Bay Ska Punk, and plenty of So Cal classics. The musicianship is impeccable and lyrics are clever and thought provoking at times. They may surpass the original recordings. Most of the originals can be found in the KFJC library so give both a spin and judge for yourself. 

Beast of Bourbon

Music From Saharan WhatsApp [coll] – [Sahel Sounds]

karma   9/23/2022   12-inch, International

I’ve been a fan of the record label Sahel Sounds for a while now. They brought to the global stage excellent artists such as Mdou Moctar. They have outdone themselves with this latest compilation. In 2020, the label invited artists from the Sahel (southern Sahara) to message them songs via WhatsApp. They released 11 EPs of Saharan WhatsApp that year. This album includes selections from each EP.

The tracks were almost always recorded at the artists’ homes, on budget and “obsolete” phones that cost less than dinner at Olive Garden. The tracks are raw, unbalanced (some have less “sound mixing” and more “whatever the phone’s mic could pick up”) and full of background noise (in one track there’s definitely a conversation in the next room) – but this is an intimate link to a wild, innovative music region full of tradition and experimentation.

My favorite track is by Veyrouz Mint Seymali, who is trained in Mauritanian classical music. Honorable mentions go to the love song by Amaria Hamadalher (of Les Filles de Illighadad), griot traveling bard music by Oumou Diabate and Kara Show Koumba Frifri, social commentary by Bounaly, and traditionally nomadic Wodaabe rock by Andal Sukabe.

Lattimore, Mary & Growing – “Gainer” – [Silver Current]

cinder   9/23/2022   12-inch, A Library

Mary’s a harpist who resides in Los Angeles, while Growing is an ambient drone band that’s been around for years, originally from Olympia, now in Brooklyn. Unsure how this collaboration came about, but it’s fantastic. Floating in the heavenly golden trimmed clouds, with lush waves of undertones and glorious droned harmonies. Side A wafts in such a comforting way, it sounds like the track itself is breathing. Goosebumps and butterflies. Side B showcases Mary’s harp playing beautifully.

Sigh – “Scorn Defeat” – [Peaceville Records]

whngr   9/21/2022   12-inch, A Library

Early Black / Avant-garde / Doom Metal / Thrash with Dungeon Synth, Classical Piano, Harpsichord (?), flute (?), and other enigmatic behavior adjacent to Death Metal from this Japanese three-piece.

This album predates the well beaten tropes of Black Metal and would fail to slide easily into any categorization in any decade. Originally put out on cd by Deathlike Silence (this release wears a dedication to Euronymous on its back cover), it has been pressed and repressed in dozens of iterations over the last nigh on thirty years while remaining relatively cvlt. The influences are apparent, Venom, Celtic Frost, Mozart, Mayhem or Gore perhaps, but this album veers aggressively into and through so many different genres it is likely to be ignored or dismissed by both the purist and the poseur. Many varied compositions with even more varied instrumentation, it isn’t blindingly fast or technical (except the dizzying piano passages), nor is it sludge, it isn’t “lo-fi”, it isn’t satanic (it does, however, allude to the wrathful side of the Buddhist pantheon), and it isn’t even in Japanese (all tracks are in a relatively well pronounced [but not “clean”] English [no FCC’s]). Though it might be “cold” and “grim” at times, it can be flowery, delicate, and atmospheric as well. It also benefits from a slightly quaint quality, so young and fresh of corpse-paint laden face were they, and though Sigh would go on to much more flamboyant and progressive albums, this one (their first full-length), is stretching to find its voice, fingers curling around an identity, in an effort to establish itself with wildly different tones and moods while somehow remaining at its foundation, Black Metal.

Sigh is helmed by Mirai Kawashima (bass, keyboards, vocals) which began as Ultra Death in 1989. “Scorn Defeat” was recorded with two of his cohorts, Shinichi Ichikawa (guitar) and Satoshi Fujinami (drums, percussion) and would make up the core of the band, though Fujinami would abandon the drum throne in 2001 and take over bass duties. Also of note is the early photograph (inner sleeve) of “Shinichi” in full Black Metal regalia by some unknown lake, in broad daylight, nestled in some little park somewhere near or within the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, with a flaming glove held aloft while wielding a katana, harkening back to a fledgling, far more underground, and perhaps more innocent BXM scene. 

Tokyo – 1993

Tuba Skinny – “Some Kind-A-Shake” – [Self Release]

aarbor   9/21/2022   12-inch, Jazz

Tuba Skinny is a jazz band from New Orleans. For over 10 years the band has evolved from a loose collection of street musicians into an ensemble of excellent players dedicated to bringing the traditional New Orleans sound to audiences around the world. Their range of musical influences is from spirituals to Depression-era blues, from ragtime to traditional jazz. Their sound evokes the musical heritage of New Orleans. Their loyal following likes their distinctive sound, their commitment to reviving long-lost songs, and their live performances. This release is from 2019 and is primarily ragtime and traditional jazz. Instruments: sousaphone, trombone, clarinet, cornet, alto sax, banjo, guitar, percussion. Some of their other recordings include a washboard (frottoir). AArbor

Big’n – “DTS25” – [Computer Students]

Max Level   9/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

This Illinois hardcore-math-punk band was around throughout most of the 1990’s, unbeknownst to me. Here is the 25th anniversary deluxe 2-LP reissue of their ‘Discipline Through Sound’ album and it’s surprisingly great. Record 1 is the original LP, recorded by Steve Albini so you know it’s going to be satisfyingly loud and sharp. Record 2 contains demos of the songs and some outtakes, and tracks from a split EP they did with Oxes. Solid playing throughout. One of my first impressions was that Big’n sounded a bit like US Maple would sound if you owed them money and they came to your house and slapped you around. Then I found out the guitarist is USM vocalist Al Johnson’s brother. So there’s that. Speaking of vocalists, the singer in this band is the epitome of full-tilt throat-wrecking mayhem. These are love songs about doubt and torment and misdirected passion. Add to that some precise, angular guitar, bass, and drums and… man… this thing rocks hard. Super hard. Turn it up!

Ulthar – “Providence” – [20 Buck Spin]

whngr   9/14/2022   12-inch, A Library

Lovecraftian themed technical Death Metal three-piece execute their demented crawl through a deranged gauntlet of sonic malevolence with considerably complex arrangements and deranged psychedelic and doom elements. Frenzied and precise, many of the medium length compositions plough through more notes than centuries Cthulhu has slept. Do colors exist at hyper speed or do they melt like the mind of a lunatic in the presence of the Old Ones? Does the syrup fail to drip as winter descends on New England?

Members of Pandiscordian Necrogenesis, Vale, and Vastum among others.

I was initially drawn to this release by the cover art by one Ian Miller who captured my youthful but critically scarred heart when I fell under the spell of the table-top strategy war games of Games Workshop in the late 80’s and inspired and corrupted me further into the decrepit realm of the Chaos Legions. He was an incredible influence on my developing brain and an excellent match for this album, which in my opinion, would be more than suitable aural backdrop for a hardcore miniature painting session. 

 Oakland, CA / Alexandria, VA – 2020

Surreal & The Sound Providers – “True Indeed” – [Abb Records]

cinder   9/7/2022   12-inch, Hip Hop

Jazzy hip hop raps from some crate diggin’ dudes. The Soul Providers are a duo (Jason Skills & Soulo) that hailed from San Diego, citing Gang Starr and the Native Tongue Posse as influences, although I get major De La Soul vibes as well. They collaborated with emcee Surreal for this release, back in 2006. Great storytelling lyrics that seem uplifting and happy, almost wholesome but not like, dorky. He’s not getting gansta….in one song he’s talking about his life and it seems he found God, but it’s not an overwhelming theme throughout. The beats are jazzzzy and sick! Fun rekkid! 

Watkins / Peacock – “Acid Escape Vol. 3” – [Freaks]

cinder   9/7/2022   12-inch, A Library

Jolly-ful playful rhythms layered over a locked beat. Synth kittens on the keys and head knodding knob twiddling squirrels. Psychedelic electronica trips. Flickering MIDI sequencers. An improv duo, usually recorded all live in studio, no dubs. Zachary James Watkins (Black Spirituals) & Ross Peacock, who met in Oakland and started recording together. Excellent!

Sangare, Oumou – “Timbuktu” – [World Circuit]

aarbor   9/7/2022   12-inch, International

Oumou Sangare is from Mali and well known for her feminist views. This is her latest release (2022). She visited the U.S. in 2020 and got caught in the COVID lockdown. She decided to stay in Balitmore, bought a house and started writing and recording songs for this album. From the U.S. Sagare sings words of praise and caution to the folks back home in Mali, especially its women. Sangare has been rising above setbacks for most of her life. To help her single mother – abandoned by her father – to make ends meet, she sang in the street to raise cash at the age of 5. Sangare went on to win a pre-Kindergarten singing competition and embarked on a career that saw her touring the world. Now she is an iconic performer and successful businesswoman who owns hotels, businesses and a car company in Mali. Accompanied by a chorus of vocals and traditional African instrumentation. Sangare creates a sound that sounds ancient but lives comfortably today. AArbor

Papir – “7”

carsonstreet   9/5/2022   12-inch, A Library

Papir might be the ultimate expression of the Danish creative soul: distinctively modern, deceptively minimalistic, and stylish yet understated. Papir follow their own road map, creating music with little interest in playing to the masses or catering to a specific genre. The band’s output has varied from epic psychedelic guitar meltdowns à la Earthless to sweeping, reverb-drenched soundscapes…  Many aspects of Papir’s music seem to have much in common with the sea – be it a willful association by the Copenhagen-based trio or not. Their output moves in waves, sometimes fierce and blustery, sometimes gentle and calming, but always performed with unforced, organic talent.

Jo Rad Silver – “Social Moment” – [Akka & Beep Beep]

karma   8/24/2022   12-inch, A Library

Jo(nah) Rad(uns) Silver(stein) is a DJ from Detroit. His description of his music on bandcamp has more dashes than a Western Union in the 20s. Some of these descriptors border on incredulity or are satirical (I don’t hear much Klezmer in this album, let alone ambient Klezmer), but this is definitely left-field house. Jo Rad Silver is based out of the Motor City and has the industrial, teutonic feel of Detroit techno. The tracks are electronic without the kitsch seen in many other techno and vaporware tracks. Silver isn’t afraid to show all sides of techno. Silver aims to take you on a journey through this album. Though gradual increasing complexity in the tracks and the creative yet subtle use of minor keys, he talks about how, after isolation, the moment to be social is now. Or whenever you want.

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