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Music Reviews

Refree – “La Otra Mitad” – [Glitter Beat]

Louie Caliente   5/22/2019   12-inch, International

Modern Flamenco explorations from Spanish composer, producer, and musician Raül Fernandez Miró, aka Raül Refree. Intricate acoustic and electric guitars — often looped and delayed — mix with spiritual vocal incantations and subtle street recordings.

Songs blend elements of jazz, classical, experimental, and folksy singer/songwriter styles. Most of the songs were composed as a soundtrack to the the film “Entre Dos Aguas”, while the others seem to be spontaneous improvisations. While quite varied, the whole album is very peaceful and calming, with the exception of “Flamencos Negros” (B-2) which layers traditional Flemenco with harsh stabs and deep static drones.

Bonnacons of Doom – “Bonnacons of Doom” – [Rocket Recordings]

carsonstreet   5/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

The Bonnocons are a semi-mysterious collective based in Liverpool, but its members have Yorkshire and Lancashire roots. Their aim is “to achieve a kind of Transpennine hypnotic music” (the Pennines are a range of mountains and hills in England separating North West England from Yorkshire). The bonnacon was a mythical beast from the Middle Ages which defended itself from pursuers by spraying caustic feces out of its furry anus. They are a little doomy but more psych-space jamming than dooming. Kate Smith (yes Kate Smith) their vocalist shifts between yodel, yelp, chant and wail. “Ritualistic” music reminding me of GOAT – this is a fine piece of work.

C Joynes & The Furlong Bray – “Borametz Tree” – [Thread Recordings/Feeding Tube Records]

carsonstreet   5/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

British guitarist, C Joynes has assembled an ensemble comprised of folks from Dead Rat Orchestra, guitarist Nick Jonah Davis and Cam Deas (who records both as a sound artist and an acoustic guitarist). The music they have created for The Borametz Tree (a semi-mythical tree found largely in travellers’ tales of the 1500s) is a difficult-to-describe hybrid of approaches and techniques. From swirls of North African string design accompanied by dream-time percussion, to banjo/fiddle duets that remind us of documentaries about the American Civil War, to flowing free-form jams where everyone piles on psychedelic licks this is a nice trip to take. Carson Street

Sea Moss – “Bidet Dreaming” – [Feeding Tube Records]

mickeyslim   5/8/2019   12-inch, A Library

coffin nails squeaking open, a dust cloud rolling through, and the sound that keeps you awake

Portland’s weirdos Noa Ver and Zach d’Agostino. Both simultaneously play squelching, buzzing, droning electronics of their own design, while Noa uses a contact mic to produce screechy, screaming vocals, distant, like an old phone. Zach keeps a beat, sometimes, driving off into a short-circuited sunset. 100% homemade, analog sounds. Is that a violin? mamba bongoes? Who knows..? Who cares…? What does it all mean?

Is this the end of the world or a new beginning?
Maybe both, probably neither.


This will make you feel warm inside while it tears you apart. THIS RULES.


Malone, Kali – “Organ Dirges 2016-2017” – [Ascetic House]

lexi glass   5/7/2019   12-inch, A Library

Kali Malone is an American electroacoustic musician and composer currently based in Sweden. As a master’s student at Kungliga Musikhögskolan, she studied alternative and ancient tuning systems, and for her thesis she worked as an apprentice to an organ tuner in Stockholm. It was during this time that she learned to play the organ and composed the four pieces on this album for Ascetic House. Malone recorded the dirges in a small rehearsal room at her school, using closely placed microphones to capture the sound. Stripped of the usual heavy reverb and volume, her playing has no hint of the gothic or the gospel. The organ radiates a warm, intimate sound, and yet there’s still an unsettling tension, created by her use of unusual intervals and fluctuating durations of the tones. Gorgeous work, at once comforting and confounding.

Koite, Sourakata – "En Hollande" – [Awesome Tapes From Africa]

humana   5/5/2019   12-inch, International

This is a pleasant aural experience brought to you by a Senegalese musician who is a griot, or a storyteller who sings his stories. He accompanies himself on the kora, a 21-string harp-lute made of a big dried gourd, one thick stick and two smaller sticks, as well as a scraped goatskin. The instrument is more than 600 years old, which is fitting for these songs that keep history alive. Read the liner notes to find out the story behind each song. Inject some cheer into your sets.

Mortal Vision – “Nacht Musik” – [Urashima]

lexi glass   4/30/2019   12-inch, A Library

For three decades, Hiroshi Hasegawa has pursued sonic chaos in many forms: the improvised madness of C.C.C.C. with his (now ex-) wife Mayuko Hino, the psychedelic synthcraft of Astro, and several other radical projects. In the early 90s, Hasegawa pursued a different kind of noise with his solo project Mortal Vision, releasing a few works under this name, including 1992’s Nacht Musik, originally released on cassette on Aube’s label G.R.O.S.S. In 2016, the Italian noise label Urashima reissued the tracks from that tape on this all-black-everything LP. Mortal Vision stands out from Hasegawa’s work – and the entire early 90s noise scene – for its focus entirely on the sounds of heavily treated electric guitar. Heavy feedback sputters and spirals, waves of distortion shift from soft to shredded, complex patterns converge to single point, a long-held note. Despite the source instrument, not a trace of rock, punk or any wave of music at all can be detected in these singular dark visions.

Levy, Barrington – "Here I Come" – [Time Records]

Hemroid The Leader   4/24/2019   12-inch, Reggae

1985 dancehall smash recorded at Channel One in Kingston, Jamaica, backed by Roots Radics. Ubiquitous classics “Here I Come” GTA: San Andreas; “Under mi sensi” #41 UK singles chart. But other tracks reward mightily “A Yah We Deh” “Cool and loving”.. all of them.

JFK – “Weapon Design” – [Fourth Dimension Records]

Lord Gravestench   4/20/2019   12-inch, A Library

Ani DiFranco — er, sorry, ANTHONY DiFranco — is a current member of Ramleh and former member of Skullflower. You will also find a few albums in KFJC’s library that he recorded for the Freek label under the sobriquet AX. JFK is another solo project, working in a broadly Industrial mode. He seems to have first recorded under this name in the late 80s for Ramleh’s Broken Flag label, resuming operations a few years ago following a lengthy hiatus. The tracks on this 2018 LP could be lazily segregated into Industrial Techno and Death Industrial (although, despite having done a split with The Grey Wolves, I’m sure DiFranco would scoff at the latter designation). 

The tracks I’m arbitrarily dubbing (pun intended) the Techno tracks are vaguely similar to Hospital Productions artists such as Vatican Shadow and Ron Morelli, but with focus shifted from atmosphere to listener alienation. Perhaps Hands Records mainstay Winterkalte would be a better reference. Comprising A2, A3, A4, B1 and B3, the beats account for the majority of the material here. A2, B1 and B3 are built around stuttering, off-kilter drum machine rushes and sound not unlike Footwork made by zombies, while A3 flirts with Dub Techno. A4 unnervingly goes full four-on-the-floor, definitely danceable but also definitely soulless, like Daft Punk’s ‘Robot Rock’ following attack by a serotonin vampire. It would spin better in the control room of a CIA drone base than on the dancefloor of a nightclub.

A1, B2 and B4 are in more familiar (to me) Rhythmic Noise territory, rich in a sense of imminent doom. I was reminded of Deutsch Nepal and, specificially on B2, the fetishistic sequencer sound of Britain’s Iron Fist Of The Sun (a project actually not unknown to dip into Dub-inspired frequencies itself). The sonic pallette is consistently experimental across the whole album, though, and my rubric for thus partitioning it is largely tempo. It’s all dark shit, but it goes down fairly easily for all that. I suspect this one will have wide appeal among KFJC DJs.

Headroom – “Head In The Clouds” – [Trouble In Mind]

atavist   4/17/2019   12-inch, A Library

Five beautiful psych jams are provided here as your spaced-out bliss soundtrack. There’s nothing too complex or fussy here to interrupt the vibe. Track one, “How to Grow Evil Flowers”, establishes a hypnotic bass line and superimposes a guitar out on a journey. One can imagine a walk in the clouds. T2, “Millers Pond”, adds some very washed-out vocals. T3, “The Second Blazing Star”, returns to an instrumental format, and again, the rhythm section establishes a structure that allows the guitar to take a ramble in the woods. T4, the title track, gets into some synthy territory, with sustained synth drones and maxed-out guitar textures. T5, “Flower of Light”, closes the record out like a wistful, sun-drenched afternoon. This record will feel at home on playlists steeped in Carlton Melton and Bardo Pond, but you might as well play it up and down the schedule.

Sissy Spacek – “Pitched Intervention” – [Helicopter]

lexi glass   4/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

For 20 years, Sissy Spacek, the LA duo of Charlie Mumma and John Wiese, have churned out excellent noise that runs the gamut from gut-wrenching drums/guitar/growl grindcore to harsh electronic assaults to abstract concrète. The sounds on this 2019 LP fall on the latter end of this spectrum, with recordings of three recent live performances of tape music in collaboration with some heavy hitters from the LA experimental scene. On “Puzzle Performance” (A1), they’re joined by Don Bolles (of The Germs) on turntables and Mitchell Brown (aka Professor Cantaloupe) on synths and tape machine. A glowing sea of sound, with recorded snippets bobbing up to the surface – broadcasts from radio shows from the past or croaked alien language from transmissions from the future – and rough static eroding the edges. “Council-Manager” (A3), with assistance from Brown and LAFMS’s Joseph Hammer working the tapes, begins with quiet rustling; soon smooth jazz and feel-good folk are whipped into a nauseating nightmare. The B side is a sidelong track called “Glossolalia” (B1), named for Bolles’ excellent Monday night radio program on KXLU, one of the few you’ll be forgiven for cheating on KFJC to tune into. The demolition crew – including Brown and Bolles – gets to work, with crashing metal, concrete and glass. Strange melodies from a processed piano rise from the ruins; later, the familiar sounds of Wiese’s growling vocals and Mumma’s drumming that rolls to a boil, set the stage for the clipped classic rock finale.

Frost, Robert- “Reads His Poetry” – [Caedmon]

mickeyslim   4/10/2019   12-inch, A Library

This Caedmon Records release of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, Robert Frost (1874-1963), was made in 1956 “at Robert Frost’s home in Cambridge, where ebullient spirits, rural quiet and a feeling that this was to be the definitive Frost recording influenced the fine vitality of this reading.”

Some of his finest work, “The Road Not Taken,” “Death of a Hired Man,” and “After Apple-Picking,” among many others. Lay it down.

Mercure, Michele – “Eye Chant” – [Freedom to Spend]

lexi glass   4/9/2019   12-inch, A Library

Composer and synth musician Michele Mercure developed her sound through the 1980s in Pennsylvania, releasing the results on a handful of traded cassettes (under her married name Michele Musser) and on this sole 1986 LP, recently rereleased in 2017 by the RVNG sub-label Freedom to Spend. At first, Eye Chant seems deceptively accessible – with “Tour de France (Day 2)” (T1), that sounds like an extra stage of the Kraftwerk single, and the new-agey “In the Air” (T2) – but then, the album dives into the murky depths. A meditative mood – of drumming, flute, birds’ calls and wolves’ howls – is suddenly, violently shattered in “The Intruder” (T3). That shock launches directly into “100% Bridal Illusion” (T4), a nightmarish synth piece collaged with fragments of uncomfortable conversations with your relatives and the screams of their whining kids, that is altogether a hilariously accurate expression of all of the anxieties I have about marriage. Mercure’s processed vocals are layered to build “Eye Chant” (T5), and “Dream Clock” (T6) ticks over unusual melodies before arriving at the truly bizarre “Proteus and the Marlin” (T7), a tale of a woman who develops a lifelong psychosexual bond with a stuffed fish after her boyfriend jumps off the Golden Gate bridge. “Too Much” (T7) returns us to the surface with spare funk guitar riffs and downbeat dance rhythms.

Tsembla – “The Hole In The Landscape” – [NNA]

Phil Phactor   4/3/2019   12-inch, A Library

Tsembla is one Marja Ahti, a Swedish Finn (or Finnish Swede). She makes the synthetic sound real and the real sound surreal. On the opener Gravitating Bones, moody subterranean drones suddenly give way to bright, emotive chords, and that’s only the first of about 237 curveballs coming your way on this album. Once you get over your fear of getting lost, you’ll be able to enjoy the ride. The warped post-dub of Splash Erosion (A2) evokes the sound of several alarm clocks going off at once, but in a good way. Penumbra (A3) explores some questionable traditions before moving into a Broadcast vibe (there’s them curveballs again). On the flip, Instant Granite (B1) gives me some severe Mouse on Mars flashbacks, with its slippery, squiggly percussion. Closer Desert Lake starts with a choir of meowing cats and disintegrates from there. Always melancholy and yet strangely soothing, this is the rainy day album of an alien civilization.

Stapleton and Tibet – “Dead Memory” – [United Dirter]

lexi glass   3/26/2019   12-inch, A Library

Unreleased – until now – outtakes from the 1996 Musical Pumpkin Cottage sessions, the second time Steven Stapleton and David Tibet released work together under their names since 1991’s The Sadness of Things. This second session resulted in two albums – each “the Yin to the other’s Yang” – Musical Pumpkin Cottage and Musicalische Kürbs Hütte. Both albums contain different arrangements of the same two tracks. The first of these, “The Dead Side of the Moon,” a haunting love song with lyrics penned by Tibet, appears for a third time here (T1). Out of all three versions, I prefer this one the most – while the other two have a psych feel, this one begins with dreamlike melodies building into a fevered trance, setting a mysterious mood that suits the song’s lyrics. On the B side is “Frail Albatross,” a strange electronic sketch that sounds like the constantly churning inner workings of a bubblegum dream machine. Cool art from Babs and David, mastered by Andrew Liles. Es ist meine Party und ich werde weinen wenn ich Dich will…

Boulier, Julien – “Film Not Yet Made”- [Time Released Sound]

humana   3/24/2019   12-inch, A Library

This is simply beautiful music composed and played by Julien Boulier, who can make keyboards and electronic sounds that resemble harp, violins, and bells. This French musician has indeed composed music that would make an atmospheric soundtrack, and the delight comes from imagining your own film. You know how ending credits can pull at your heartstrings and take you through emotions that leave you feeling clean and, well, cried out? That is what I felt when listening to this.

Orcutt, Bill – “Neu Bros / OK Phone / Rural Beatles” – [Fake Estates]

atavist   3/20/2019   12-inch, A Library

Orcutt, known to KFJC for his experimental/free guitar work and, more recently, his collaborations with Chris Corsano, explores two new electronic compositions on this album. Research leads to, among other things, a Github repo, as the sounds were created using “a web audio library that uses method chaining and CSS-style selectors to simplify creating, configuring and connecting audio nodes in the browser.” Side A is comprised of contemplative tones; patterns repeat meditatively, shifting over time. The computer sounds generated by Orcutt’s Cracked app have an organ-like quality on this piece. Side B, in contrast, is frenetic, bubbling computer tones. Patterns persist, replicate, evolve, adapt while maintaining an over-arching, consistent identity. Imagine a visualization of an ant colony or a traffic pattern, how the pixels might jostle around on the screen, and then you associated sounds with those myriad pixels—Side B might be what you’d hear.

Uniform – “Uniform” – [Beggars Tomb]

Lord Gravestench   3/15/2019   12-inch, A Library

Uniform is an industrial duo from New York City. Brooklyn hipster trashlord Ben Greenberg (of Archaeopteryx, Coca Leaf, Little Women, The Fugue, Zs, house engineer/producer for Sacred Bones Records, oh yeah and involved in some band called Bloody Panda…) and Michael Berdan (various cooler bands KFJC doesn’t have) collaborate on paranoiac central nervous system attacks with a debt to classics like Suicide and Iugula Thor, and perhaps specifically to The Guilt Of…, the industrial project of EyeHateGod’s Mike Williams. This 2014 45RPM EP was their first release. One track per side.

Greenberg’s insistent drum machines, shuddering synth textures, and fuzzed-out guitar merge with Berdon’s frantic, hardcore-inspired vocal delivery. Insanity-inducing New York despair. The rent may have gone up but the drugs have gotten more expensive too!

Bone Awl – “Almost Dead Man” – [Klaxon Records]

Lord Gravestench   3/13/2019   12-inch, A Library

Active since 2002, KFJC live mic vets Bone Awl are definitely one of the best Black Metal groups to come out of California. The duo of He Who Crushes Teeth (briefly in Morbosidad) and He Who Gnashes Teeth (see my review of his solo project Amofas from our add last year) derive their names from possible English translations of Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr, the appellations of the goats who drive the chariot of my lord and master Odin. These guys create killer raw BM in the tradition of Ildjarn, adding a distinctive touch of broken-sounding D-Beat punk to the proceedings, not unlike Hellhammer.

This 2018 45RPM 12” is a reissue of a 2007 single-sided demo cassette. Klaxon Records, which released both versions, is run by one of the two Bone Awl dudes. Ultra-primitive, dirty, necro shit. Short songs except for A1 which is a repetitive but oddly hypnotic instrumental. B-side amps up the aggression somewhat. Fuck yeah is all else I have to say.

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