Music Reviews

Black Flower – “Ghost Radio” – [Zephyrus Records]

aarbor   11/15/2022   12-inch, International

Black Flower is a 5-piece outfit from Belgium led by saxophonist / flutist Nathan Daems, which mixes Ethio jazz with afrobeat and dub. In 2016 the band was between album releases and decided to go into the studio for two days. They wanted to record unorchestrated and unrehearsed material – spontaneous compositions and new sounds that had been emerging from their improvisations at live shows. The result is Ethio jazz as I’ve never heard it before: moodier, gentler, spookier, more airy – and fabulous. Don’t miss! One of my favorites this year. AArbor

Twinkle Brothers, The – “Dub Massacre Part 4” – [Twinkle]

Brian Damage   11/14/2022   12-inch, Reggae

Subtitled “The Killing Zone” – this record is a compilation of rhythm tracks from three Twinkle Brothers (Norman and Ralston Grant, and friends) records released in the late 80s. This particular record is from 1989.

The dub I grew up on as a teenager was Mikey Dread, King Tubby, Scientist, etc., so for me, the weirder and deeper the dub, the better. The Brothers’ previous Dub Massacre records rate very highly with me, so I had elevated expectations for Part 4.

This installment is not so much a dub massacre, as a dub skirmish. Or a dub trip to the emergency room for some stitches.

The Twinkle Brothers get it done, for the most part, but they have a pretty high bar to clear, and their heavy reliance on what was cutting-edge instrumentation in the 80s sounds a bit dated now. The keys are really front and center on these tracks, and the synths of that time don’t take the place of actual horns and organ, so as I’m listening, I’m hearing the missing pieces. And the studio experimentation doesn’t go nearly as far as their previous releases. Having said that, any Twinkle Brothers release is going to kick it over on most other dub records, so any criticism on my part is really the Brothers competing with themselves. Side Two is more successful than the first side to my ears. Your mileage may vary.

Nevertheless, Dub Massacre Part 4 is a solid and essential release that belongs in any dub enthusiast’s collection.

Javelosa, David “Microwave” – “Atomic Odyssey” – [Hyperspace Communications]

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

Wow, this is the ultimate space age bachelor pad fantasy music! Magical, intergalactic synth fueled lounge electronica from the year 3032 (ok, 1998…) All instrumental & groovy as hell. Definitely turn on that lava lamp, and throw down some shag rugs. Mitch Lemay might have a spare leisure suit or 2? Perfect little tracks to add a little sparkly sunshine to your playlist. Bartender, cosmo please!      

Javelosa apparently also has publications and teachings on topics such as production for Video and Computer Games, Game Industry Analysis & Producing Music for Interactive games.

Dodge Jones Rage – “West Coast Power Outage II” – [Charnel Music]

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

Pandemic-driven experimental-noise-audio collaboration started in 2021 from the trio of Chris Dodge (Spazz), Mason Jones (Subarachnoid Space, Collision Stories, Numinous Eye) & William Rage (Blue Sabbath Black Cheer, At Jennie Richie, New Blockaders, irr.app.(ext.) – last names make the project. It’s power electronics pushed to the max. Turn ’em all on at once, slowly turn the knobs, scream a distorted moan and blast your fucking ears off. Not a complete white wall wash, there’s hidden undertones of sanity. Sizzled & churned, burnt to a crisp. Delicious. 

Lord Diabolus, The – “Down There…” – [Dark Descent Records]

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


Low fidelity black/death metal/grind with heretical samples, guttural vocals, and electronic atmosphere on this single sided LP.

The Lord Diabolus was an alias of Finland’s, Beherit while in legal purgatory with their label (Turbo Music) at the time of this recording and were an early 2nd wave project of Marko Laiho/”Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance” (guitar, vocals, keyboards, and programming), Jari Pirinen/”Sodomatic Slaughter” (drums), and Arjo Wennström/”Black Jesus” (bass) who had left the band prior to this recording, from the very northern climes of Lapland that, in the frozen depths of winter, will receive only three hours of sunlight… a month. Cold and bleak is the terrain; dark and miserable are the sounds of, “Down There…” Beherit would become a notable and formative scion in the esteemed legacy of Scandinavian Black Metal especially known for their use of electronics atmosphere and samples; a practice that was considered avantgarde, less brutal, less raw, and perhaps more feminine, something that was (and to many, still is) viewed with derision. Laiho seemed unfazed by the opinions of sheep and would go on to focus on electronic dark ambient before moving to Thailand to dabble in techno. In 2008 he would return to Finland and reform Beherit with Pirinen, susequently releasing 3 more albums. In their early days they, along with other Finnish metalers including Mika Luttinen of Impaled Nazarene, would become embroiled in an intense feud with the Norwegian Black Metal scene that would be known as the “Dark War” (a slightly tongue and cheek and juvenile designation that would not rival the genuine and lasting animosity between the Norwegian and French scenes) and were notorious for their early live performances which included the heads of pigs and goats upon the stage which would help them amass a dedicated cvlt following.

Rovaniemi, Finland – 1991

Lunsford, Kilynn – “Custodians of Human Succession” – [Ever / Never]

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

Aggressively weird pop from the outer, slightly more tenable, rings of Hades.

Discordant and jarring songs that are structured fairly traditionally though every other aspect of these recordings sound unique and nearly without influence. This, of course, is not the case (she states on the Ever / Never bndcmp page that she has had a “…life-long appreciation of Diamanda Galas”) but like a lot of the music produced during the world’s recent forced sequestration, Reality Testing feels unmitigatedly personal. Like a sonic sketchbook or an aural diary found in a young woman’s boudoir after her admission to the hospital, these whimsical and slightly brooding tracks feel polished through considerable tweaking in post. Unruly and arty, smoky jazz piano, funky bass, surreal and disjointed, reverse tracking, delay, petulant and idiosyncratic spoken/yelled lyrics, dada, saxophone, bubbling synthesizers degrade… and then self destruct, kinda kute, ultra-strange stream of consciousness musings from a clearly sound obsessed minstrel of her own mental apocalypse.

Kilynn Lunsford (Taiwan Housing Project, Little Claw, Black Egg, The Dark Places) originally of West Philadelphia, presently residing in New York by way of the PNW. A detailed and slightly voluble account of her perspective and processes is available on the aforementioned b.c. page.

New York – Nov. 2022 

Heliocentrics, The – “Sunshine Makers, The” – [Soundway Records]

aarbor   11/9/2022   12-inch, Soundtrack

This is the soundtrack to a 2015 documentary about Nicholas Sand and Tim Scully early LSD evangelists who made ‘Orange Sunshine’ for many years – while it was legal and while it wasn’t; with original music by the Heliocentrics. According to Sand and Scully, their mission was to “change the consciousness of the world in a positive way.” I watched the movie and discovered that the Heliocentrics’ music was only a part of the soundtrack. It blended nicely into the background, the more prominent sung tracks were more noticeable. Listening to it by itself (without the movie) gives it center stage – which it deserves. AArbor

Gentle Cycle, The – “Landslide Eyes” – [300mics]

Brian Damage   11/7/2022   12-inch, A Library

The description “psych” tends to get tossed around a lot, and more often than not, it’s applied to some dudes with marginal skills that got high in their cousin’s living room and noticed that there was a cheapo Strat copy and a practice amp in the corner.

This is definitely not the case with The Gentle Cycle. Co-founder Derek See has lived the psychedelic music lifestyle for decades – perhaps his whole life. For Derek, every day is Labor Day weekend of 1968. Derek is not only a session musician, but is also a member of The Chocolate Watchband, The Rain Parade, and the Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500) band, and formerly was a member of The Careless Hearts and helmed The Bang! Girl Group Revue.

Landslide Eyes is the second LP from The Gentle Cycle, and evokes the feeling of a late-summer evening in Los Angeles in the late 60s. There’s definitely a peace, love, and happiness vibe going on throughout, with some Byrds, later Monkees, Pet Sounds, and Buffalo Springfield influences. The Gentle Cycle would not have been out of place at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, but they’re definitely not a slavish cover or novelty band. There’s a real love, authenticity, and songcraft here that can only come from the osmosis one gets from full immersion in the music and the scene for decades.

The record does get gradually harder and darker as it progresses, culminating in the harder acid psych of tracks 13 and 14, “Eyes Landslide,” and “Mercury Twins.” All the tracks are killers, but particular standouts are “Like December Is Bold,” “Ivy,” “Landslide Eyes,” and “Let Me Look At The Sun.”

Highly recommended.

Coz The Shroom – “Bum Henry Adams and Craig Stewart’s Prince” – [SPASMS Cassettes / Emperor Jones]

Brian Damage   11/7/2022   12-inch, A Library

Coz the Shroom is the nom de tune of Shahrom Hawley, a singer/songwriter who was part of Austin’s Cassette Underground culture in the 1980s and early 90s. Owner of a microphone, an electric guitar, and a practice amp with its distortion knob permanently cranked to 10, Coz wrote, improvised, and recorded a seemingly endless stream of music in the mid- to late-80s.

He was a contemporary of Daniel Johnston – but Daniel skimmed the edge of the mainstream, and Coz didn’t. Local cassette labels SPASMS and Emperor Jones each issued several Coz releases in the 80s, but Coz seemed to be more prolific than these labels’ ability to get them out. Each release was put out on a C-90 tape (47 minutes per side) and Coz would fill the A side, and the B side was left blank for whatever the purchaser wanted to put on there.

This is a compilation on vinyl from six of Coz’s releases from 1987-89, supposedly cleaned up and mastered for this reissue. I say supposedly, because the quality is ultra lo-fi, likely never great to begin with, and degraded by time and duplication.

The music is classic 80s cassette underground weirdo – one listen, and either you will get it or you won’t. This being KFJC, this is very likely right up your alley. As far as individual tunes go, the titles give the content away — no obtuse titles here. If you choose “Destroy All Monsters,” that song is going to sound exactly like you think it would.

And the name? He wanted “a cool nickname like Captain Beefheart,” so he gave himself one.

A future KFJC Klassic.

Ekin Fil – “Dora Agora” – [Helen Scarsdale Agency]

whngr   11/3/2022   12-inch, A Library

Quiet, drifting, chords sustain a somber rhythm, distant and personal… with echoes. 

Floating on gentle waves, veins filled with opium, every note a caress of the eardrum, a whisper on the neck, every change soft and welcome. A siren song for the sleeping hero. The album begins with an instrumental track, stabbing sadly at single notes on her keyboard before the first dulcet chord swells into being. On the next track meandering keys bloom as gentle, non-lexical vocalizations begin to weave like a spirit through a somber afternoon in the living room overlooking a windswept beach before the more structured and haunting lullabies coalesce (track 3 “ghost boy”) Simple repetitive strums of acoustic guitar provide structure as lilting atmospheric textures sail by… Heavy eyelids fall, we abandon consciousness, and slip into a purring netherworld of beautiful loss.

Ekin Fil returns to the acoustic guitar of her debut album on a soaring journey through the billowing dreams of slumbering giants. At times a distant memory might float into our awareness or perhaps a forgotten song from childhood… Do I know this song… why don’t I remember the chorus? Do I know this language? Does it matter? Does anything matter? I hear stripped down Beach House, Grouper with vaporous hooks. Mother whispers her vow of unconditional love as doctor takes the pain away.

Ekin Fil is one Ekin Üzeltüzenci, a Turkish multi-instrumentalist who performed vocals and keyboards in the post/-/punk synth/-/rock project Proudpilot (probably defunct but soon to be entering our library). Üzeltüzenci scored the 2017 films Kaygi (Inflame) and Körfez (Gulf), as well as Hayaletler (Ghost) in 2020, is one of my favorite discoveries as yet through kfjc, and is otherwise cloaked in mystery.

Istanbul – October 7, 2022

Merciless Savagery – “Demo 2020” – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

whngr   11/3/2022   12-inch, A Library

Ugly tirades of brutality from this wicked female USBM two-piece with morose synth bookends on both sides. 

Raw Black Metal in the vein of the old school (Bathory, Witchcraft [Fin], and Sodom) with both sides unleashing the same viscera dumping material, with the exception the closing track of side A “Imperator’s Sceptre” which is not present on the B side (but will still evacuate your organs), which is comprised of recordings from rehearsal that sound equally as polished, effective, and vicious as the A side. Though this LP lacks attention to recording quality it excels in the delivery of tight as fuck, carnal ferocity from both members, like a decapitated head of man held aloft in triumph, rivulets of blood coursing down the heathen arms of the victorious, eyes ablaze in fury.

Merciless Savagery is C.C. Bone Crusher (drums) and Hellbitch Kommando (guitar, vox) who was also responsible for much of the artwork for the band. I am particularly fond of the cover art for the original digital release which shown below and on Encyclopedia Metallum.

Houston, TX – 2022

Suzi Moon – “Animal” – [Pirates Press Records]

Terra Incognita   11/2/2022   12-inch, A Library

The Los Angeles punk scene has been Suzi Moon’s creative playground for some twenty years, and this album reflects that. Suzi Moon’s Animal is straight-up L.A. punk rock, with the sheen of cover up, the smell of perfume, and the glitz of sequined leopard print. It is familiar and catchy, high-energy rock ‘n’ roll.

Suzi Moon, aka Suzi Homewrecker, who relocated to Washington D.C., has played in the all-girl punk bands Civet (guitar, vocals) and L.A. Machina (bass) and fronted the power trio Turbulent Hearts (vocals, guitar). When the pandemic hit, she decided to funnel her energy into a solo project. Animal is the second of two EPs, followed by a more recent full LP, she has since released as Suzi Moon (released by Pirates Press Records in April 2022).

On this album Suzi Moon sings and plays guitar, with Drew Champion on lead guitar, Patti Bo on bass, and Sean Peterson on drums. Each of the three tracks has a different feel, and Suzi Moon adjusts her vocal style to the material. The first two tracks (“Sonic Attraction” and “Animal”) have variation and drive, with rockin’ guitar riffs flavored with feedback and melodic leads contrasted against low-end floor tom action and bass. The vocals are infused with sultriness and edged with a subtle Joan Jett gruffness. The title track, “Animal,” showcases Suzi Moon’s ferocity, playfulness, and versatility. It is perhaps the least commercial sounding of the songs and also the only one with FCCs. “Gold Record Autograph” is straightforward pop punk with clean, sugar-coated vocals and harmonized backup vocals.

Personally, I’d like to hear more of that rawness that Suzi Moon unleashes live on stage, but she tends toward the controlled, well-produced, warm, power-pop sound. This neon yellow 12” EP provides a decent picture of the band’s fluorescence and potential.

Tex and Foley – “Slythoar and Pierre” – [TacoRatSATX]

karma   10/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

Just in time for spooky season, a journey through a haunted house! Foley draws from his experience in radio drama and immersive theatre (Sleep No More) to create this immersive album. This is a blursed combination of Five Nights at Freddy’s and A Prairie Home Companion. Fun for anyone who misses the good old days of radio drama!

Dorji, Tashi & Ibarra, Susie – “Master of Time” – [Astral Spirits]

Max Level   10/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

Two intensely focused side-long duo pieces recorded live at an art museum at Skidmore College in 2019. Tashi Dorji plays electric guitar in a constantly interesting percussive (as opposed to melodic) style, using various unorthodox techniques. Drummer/percussionist/bandleader Susie Ibarra is in top form, sometimes adding colorful percussive accents to the guitar sounds, at other times taking the lead and giving Dorji a solid rhythmic bed to explore. Wonderful musical dialogs going on here. These two were meant to play together.

Plus Instruments – “Februari – April 81′” – [Domani Sounds]

Thurston Hunger   10/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

Truus de Groot is Plus Instruments, still to this day and she was back in 1981 when this was issued by the
Kremlin (label). Rising today from the Netherlands on a Domani (!!) reissue. Superb art-damaged keyboard kookie cuts, it’s mostly a one-woman project, but a Sonic elder back in his Youth helps out here and there, you can hear Lee Ranaldo’s staccato vox on “Between the Wars” adding Ace Frehley rock riffs, while de Groot’s synth bubbles up over a frisky drum beat. He’s also rant-grunting on the track after that, with an old rap beat and recorded beneath a NYC manhole cover. But the album excels with Truus at the mic, is the first song a take on the “Profumo” affair? For me it is. Is “Rush Hour” an instro-homage to Neu? For me it is. “Things” has toy piano over dingey synthy beats, moments later that sweetness dissolves into the sweaty panic of “Freundschaft.” “Cannot” comes with no safe word, great whacks and bursts of sound as TdG wails her words on top. There are some songs about war on this, but I declare Truus the victor. Indeed she’s still waging weird work to this day. Like this album, aging very well!
-Thurston Hunger

PS Looks like she’s long since transplanted from Eindhoven to San Diego, it would be nice to have her come up the freakway to perform live on air soon. Stir in some Bosko too!

Ambarchi, Oren / Berthling, Johan / Werliin, Andreas – “Ghosted” – [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   10/25/2022   12-inch, Jazz

Clearlight dawn, open freeway, gas tank filled, mind empty but lucid and ready for the road. This Drag City lp embarks in pristine manner. On the flip side it travels at night, headlights off easing up on the accelerator. Exquisite drone/jazz/rock ragas for a three piece, although the mesmerizing lead-off track features a guest passenger riding shotgun on the ngoni, Christer Bothen. Bothen is no stranger to playing with Fire! And 2/3 of that Swedish project are here as the engine, Johan Berthling on bass and Andreas Werliin on drums. (Side note: KFJC has an Oren + full Fire! trio 2012 release including a flaming Mats Gustaffson). The entire album is a smooth ride from start to finish, merges lanes with The Necks in that vivid hypnotic. Ambarchi through-out adds treated guitar vapors, almost there/not-there, like the air with the windows down, or the freeway vanishing on the distant horizon.

-Thurston Hunger

Napalm Death – “Apex Predator / Easy Meat” – [Century Media]

whngr   10/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

Sonus Hominis Caedes

Fucking sonic devastation at a fairly brisk pace. I jest, these guys have been taking the concept of rapidity to new realms for decades. However, this four-piece continues to push boundaries in interesting and thoughtful ways that the bands that were spawned as a direct result of their output have not. As evidenced by the foreboding opening/title track that begins with a glorious bellowing harkening to a corruption of Gregorian chant before degrading into a cacophonous, militant guttural remonstrance, prior to the carnage beginning in earnest. I am quite partial to “Hierarchies” (B4), which explores a similar backing vocal to the title track with thundering toms and nearly lilting guitar while lyrically referencing the spilling of innocent blood. A theme that they have plumbed ad nauseum, but do so with creativity, grace, dignity, and intensity, as evidenced by the rending of flesh and carnal imagery that has long been a staple in the N.D. stable.

Napalm Death are the progenitors of Grind Core, creating a sound in the eighties that has been emulated and adulated for over three decades by the crustiest, most primal outcasts of our species. An outfit that celebrates violent sounds while espousing a message highly critical the dominant paradigm and a culture built on violence. These men have nothing but derision for man’s tendency for war, consumption, greed, and malice. Emerging from the Anarcho/Peace Punk soil they sprouted from lo these many years ago, there has always been a message of hope, a desire for positive change, the righting of wrongs, and potentially atonement for transgressions against the downtrodden and unwashed masses. Though I gave up long ago on humanity, it seems that they have not. Napalm Death is still pushing their narrative with devastating poise and an eagerness to explore the many nuances of brutality while staying true to… perhaps continuing to define, the genre they created. 

Birmingham, UK –  2015

Heilung – “Drif” – [Season of Mist]

whngr   10/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

Rural Norse Spiritualism

Primal bone laden percussion, archaic harmonic vocal interpretations, with minimal modern electronic accompaniment, bird song, call and response, medieval ambiance, war beats, spoken word, and an assortment of hypnotic elements adjacent to the ancient lives of Nordic peoples.

These Scandinavians would liken themselves to modern shamanic practitioners and their activities regarded as rituals, with strong leanings toward theater which is explored thoroughly in their live performances. Clad in arcane costumes adorned with antler, fur, feather, and prehistoric symbology, surrounded by skulls, leather, and an array of traditional instruments. These sons and daughters of the Vikings seem keenly aware of the world’s tendency to equate their heritage and their ancestors as having a savage propensity for violence, which is by all accounts true, however Heilung would like us to to consider the much more peaceful, healing magic of the ones that stayed home from the campaigns of yore. Acting as emissaries to distant lands, touting the benefits of brotherhood, unity, and a deep rooted appreciation of prehistoric pagan society. However, they also seem to be aware that some of their fan base might have a tendency to take the celebration of Northern heritage a bit too far. So they are very clear in myriad sources that, though they absolutely look the part, they are not at all compelled by the power of the white race to the exclusion of, or the superiority over, other slightly or much browner peoples. One might wonder however, if their most ardent followers accept and align themselves with these ethos, as it is easy to imagine that behind closed doors, the lines might become a little blurry. But this is of little matter, racial bias and opinions being what they are. 

Although Heilung, does, at times, veer a bit too far into PBS fundraising territory for this miserable volunteer, it is hard to deny that there is something interesting happening on these recordings. Drif, the fourth studio release, is primal and profoundly connected to nature and the earth, the seasons, the spirits, and the heart. It builds upon something that resonates deeply with the modern Northman who longs for those ancient times that were far more in balance with their environment than the vast majority of us today. The cultures represented on this release were an integral part of the world as opposed to a consumer upon it… which is notable as Heilung appears to have become almost a brand in itself and is the first that I have witnessed to present a collection of tableware for purchase  on bandcamp and their website which are currently sold out, not the case for the massive assortment of clothing and jewelry available on their website which for my taste does detract somewhat from the apparent message on this beautifully packaged, if slightly flimsy, double LP.

Heilung was created by Kai Uwe Faust, a German artist who specializes in Old Norse Tattoos and Danish producer Christopher Juul in 2014 and after Juul’s partner, Maria Franz (of  progressive rock/pop project Euzen) contributed vocals to their debut album, “Ofnir” in 2015, she would become the third core member of the group. As they progressed they would acquire a veritable army supporting members for their relatively expensive and apparently powerful, live performances.

Denmark – 2022

Cold Beat – “War Garden” – [Like Ltd]

humana   10/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

These very peppy electro-pop songs feature Hannah Lew’s pretty vocals. The beats on here are energizing, especially on Side A. The vocals get hazier on Side B and I remember what shoegaze is, and that I love it. This album is likely to lift your spirits as it did mine.

Black Milk – “Tronic” – [Fat Beats]

Mister S   10/19/2022   12-inch, Hip Hop

West Coast hip hop. Lyrically thoughtful and complementary beats and production to match. 

Snappy snare beats along with the sounds of the 808. Horns, keyboards and piano.

Similar to the sounds and flow of Madlib produced records. DJ Premier and Sean Price guest on tracks.

FCC’s to be aware of. Soul Patrol and Lurker friendly and any others that enjoy the hip hop beats and great samples.

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