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Music Reviews

TEKE::TEKE – “Shirushi” – [Kill Rock Stars]

SlartiBartfast   10/5/2021   12-inch, A Library

TEKE::TEKE – “Shirushi”

Japanese garage, surf, psyche-rock from Montreal? Yesss!! This Quebec ensemble will transport you in the way-back machine to the raw sounds of the late 60’s Japanese and Asian psych rock scene to a modern day, transformative, high energy, psychedelic rock-n-roll experience. On their 2021 debut release “Shirushi”, front woman and visual artist Maya Kuroki lays down powerfully energetic vocals, injecting raw emotion into sizzling instrumental energy that includes a traditional Shinobue (bamboo flute), trombone, and ample guitar fuzz to satisfy the fuzziest of ears. Listen and enjoy the journey to the other ghostly side.

Various – "[AMHARA] WEDDING SONGS" – [Domino Sound]

aarbor   9/29/2021   12-inch, International

These are well-known Amhara wedding songs from Ethiopia. Amharans are an indigenous group who live in the northwest highlands of Ethiopia, and have their own language. They are about 26% of the Ethiopian population. In Ethiopia Amhara families invite as many people as possible when there is a wedding. Festivities can start as much as a week before the actual wedding day. Read the notes for more details about what each song means and how it fits into the wedding festivities. AArbor

Lord Flea and His Calypsonians – "Swingin' Calypsos" – [Penny Records]

aarbor   9/29/2021   12-inch, International

Lord Flea was the stage name of Norman Byfield Thomas who was a Jamaican mento musician credited with helping start the calypso craze in U.S. With his band The Calypsonians, Flea toured the U.S. throughout the late 1950s, and released just this 1 album before he died (before the age of 30) in 1959.

Mento is a style of Jamaican folk music that predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music. It is a fusion of African rhythmic elements and European elements, which reached peak popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. Mento typically features acoustic instruments, such as acoustic guitar, banjo, hand drums, and the rhumba box — a large mbira in the shape of a box that can be sat on while played. The rhumba box plays the bass part of the music.

Mento is often confused with calypso, which is from Trinidad and Tobago. Although the two share many similarities, they are separate and distinct musical forms. During the mid-20th century, mento was confused with calypso, and mento was frequently referred to as calypso. As in calypso, mento uses topical lyrics with a humorous slant, commenting on poverty and other social issues. Sexual innuendo is also common. Mento draws on musical traditions brought by enslaved West African people. AArbor

Trible, Dwight – "Mothership" – [Gearbox]

aarbor   9/29/2021   12-inch, Jazz

Dwight Trible, who is originally from Cincinnati, is a versatile vocalist, and known as the godfather of the L.A. jazz scene. He’s collaborated with a range of musicians from J.Dilla to Pharoah Sanders for 40 years. He is best known for promoting and creating opportunities for others in the LA Jazz community, rather than in the spotlight. This release puts Trible firmly in the spotlight, showcasing his own compositions as well as covers of others’. You can hear his talent as a jazz vocalist quite clearly here. He is surrounded by some well-respected instrumentalists who support him with solid playing. AArbor

Watch How The People Dancing [coll] – Unity Sounds from the London Dancehall 1986-1989 [Honest Jon Records]

Thee Opinataur   9/22/2021   12-inch, Reggae

These singles and instrumentals show no-name locals rocking mics over the toy-store electro-beats that marked reggae’s transition into modern-day digital dancehall. 

Presented as a next-generation companion to London Is The Place For Me: the mood is more defiant — a Jamaican secession from London — with themes of inner-city sufferation running alongside hymns to the dancehall & herb. Spot-on mastering from Moritz von Oswald. 

Tunes you would expect at the closing hours of the afterparty of a Jamaican dancehall mix. 

In the ’80s, when reggae was changing from roots to dancehall, the Unity sound system was already a big player in London. And when the digital sound started, they were inspired to start making their own tunes, instead of simply playing others. Using a Casio and a four-track cassette recorder, they laid down the rhythm tracks, then went into a real studio to add vocals and overdubs. On the majority of the vocal cuts, an instrumental “version” is appended (just as it would have played on a sound system). The result is true street-level British reggae from the dawn of the digital era, and all surprisingly good, given that none of the people involved were musicians — they all worked for Unity Sound, except for some of the singers. – Thee Opinataur

Martin, Sara -1922-1928 – [Wolf Records]

Thee Opinataur   9/22/2021   12-inch, Blues

These recordings are a mixed bag of recording quality from track to track. Some lyrics are difficult to hear clearly, some fuzzy static which adds a nice raw element to these early blues.  

This album captures a wide range of Sara Martin’s vocal capabilities, from the higher range Achin’ Hearted Blues to a deeper more sensual register in Death Sting Me Blues. While her voice is solidly classic blues, in some of these tunes, she sounds unrelaxed and a bit uptight. She is at her best when she reflects her personality which comes through in ‘Taint Nobody’s Bus’ness If I Do’ and ‘Hole in the Wall’. A couple of nice duets with Clarence Williams, I’m Cert’ny Gonna See ‘Bout That’ and ‘Squabling Blues’ brings out her sassy personality.

Sara Martin (b1884 – d1955) was a well-traveled singer on the African American Vaudeville circuit in the early 20th century. Known as the ‘colored ’ Sophie Tucker’ and The Famous Moanin’ Mama” she was signed by Okeh Records in 1922 and recorded dozens of songs accompanied by the most accomplished musicians of the day including Clarence Williams, King Oliver, and Fats Waller. – Thee Opinataur

Yeats, William Butler -Poetry of Yeats: Read By Siobhan McKenna & Cyril Cusack, – [Caedmon]

Thee Opinataur   9/22/2021   12-inch, A Library

Recorded in 1958

Side A – read by Cyril Cusack – a famous Irish actor of his day, albeit South African born which can be detected in his voice.
These poems drip with a self-examination of human life and death, as Yeats spent much of his life examining. Threaded with somber tones and melancholy, he wastes no words in bearing his true inner self to the listener.

Side B – Read by Siobhan McKenna – Irish stage actor – born in Belfast
This side is filled with many of Yeats romantic and intimate poems of love and sensuality and is beautifully interpreted.

Yeats’s poetry reflects his sheer beauty of words and phrases. Many of his poems were meant to be chanted or sung.

Yeats, in addition to writing some of the best Irish poetry of his day, was also a well-established playwright being co-founder of the Irish National Theater society. While a self-professed Irish protestant, he shared a fascination with occultism and spiritualism which influenced much of his poetry. – Thee Opinataur

Baraka, Imamu Amiri -It’s Nation Time – [Motown Records]

Thee Opinataur   9/22/2021   12-inch, Jazz

Pan-African-themed concept album recorded in Harlem in 1972. Re-released in 2018, Segues between free jazz, R&B, and African drumming. There is a cover of the Supremes song ‘Come See About Me’, (A4), with Baraka adding a spiritual call to ‘Allah’. 

By far the most thought-provoking and articulate, well post-civil rights black awareness album I think I’ve ever heard. Amiri Baraka successfully imparts his message just direct talking politics and beliefs that don’t seem any less relevant listening now than when they were recorded in ’72. The music on here is fantastic too. There is some real sweet Motown soul, deep heavy Afro-centric jazz, not to mention the endless percussion and backing rants vocals and interplay. Poetry is rooted in Black-centric politics, positive and uplifting. Anyways, this blew me away and almost made me a card-carrying member of the Black Nation. Not just a spoken word album, much more, much respect to how the album draws upon jazz, R&B, and Soul that makes everything sound easy. It continues to crescendo into a higher and higher gear. 

Black people from all walks of life get up and get busy to cultivate the consciousness and commitment to come together to build Black institutions, mobilize and organize movements and fight for our liberation “by any means necessary.” It was an “all Black hands on deck” call to action for Black people to join the Black Freedom Struggle and to use whatever we had to achieve victory! and nearly 60 years later, many of these topics are still relevant. – Thee Opinataur

Perry, Lee ‘Scratch’ – Black Ark Classic Songs- [Ariwa]

Thee Opinataur   9/22/2021   12-inch, Reggae

Released in 2016 to commemorate Lee’s 80th birthday

Here we see yet another great collaboration with Lee Perry and Mad Professor giving us some classic Perry cuts a dub over. Cuts are re-recorded, re-vamped, and refreshed Lee has some fun with ‘No More Roast Fish’,  a play on his classic ‘Roast Fish and Cornbread’. Doctor Shit‘ sees Lee re-visit an old Ska classic ‘Doctor Dick!’

Many believe his Black Ark years were Lee’s peak period of creativity, and this album is a great representation with a fresh 21st-century facelift making it all brand new again. 

Amazing career, amazing life until the very end, RIP Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, 1936- 2021. 

 Thee Opinataur

Moon Duo – “Occult Architecture Vol. 1” – [Sacred Bones Records]

SlartiBartfast   9/14/2021   12-inch, A Library

Moon Duo “Occult Architecture Vol. 1”

Another superb musical trip  released by Portland’s Moon Duo. This 2017 release, “Occult Architecture Vol .1” is the first in a dual psychedelic journey through light and dark.  (Occult Architecture Vol 2 in the cue) This first LP in the series explores the darker side or life and hints at demise, death of the human spirit, and prepares listeners for a rebirth. Fuzz guitar, rhythmic pounding, and head jaunting explorations await. Join Moon Duo on a journey through your mind and through the musical expansion of psychic imagination.

El Banda – “Skutki Uboczne (Side Effects) ” – [Pasazer]

SlartiBartfast   9/14/2021   12-inch, A Library

El Banda “Skutki Uboczne”

Hailing from Warsaw, Poland, El Banda brings it with their unique blend of in you face punk energy with occasional sprinklings of an electronic dream scape. Be prepared to engage and confront your angst as front woman, Anna Zajdel, brings it with an energetic vocal energy that doesn’t hold back on the outrage. Fast, furious, and full of surprises, El Banda is a perfect release for that pent up disappointment in the human condition. This double LP release may cure you of all your mental derangements. 

Ocher, Mary – "Mary Ocher + Your Government" – [Klangbad]

Thurston Hunger   9/13/2021   12-inch, A Library

Reprint of 2016 album where the talented tweaker Mary Ocher pits herself between dueling drummers, Stefan Widdess and Oliver Rivera-Drew (aka Your Government) hard at work. The drums keep her grounded, and keep the bpm meter running. Things get off with a blast-off, “#&*” is like a space-chimp hyperventilating, Ocher’s voice often is a third percussive instrument. On other tracks, her voice has razor blade runner sharpness, cutting through spaced lady synths beneath the boys with the beat. Catchy art-pop that could fill the skies nicely next to old floating Silver Apples swarmed by Damaged Bugs. Little guitar strum on the swaggering anthem “The Sound of War” – a song with funk/fury and excellent cold stops. But mostly the music here has bloomed from her rock to artwerk krafted from keyboards. “Man vs Air” at 2:18 begs for a 12″ dancehall remix, synth slithers through the left and right channels. Her Dad reportedly was a voice (and puppet theater) actor! Her vocal gyrations would do her otyez proud! Check out “Now (Fear)” for crazy flair and a serious kookiness. If David Bowie hadn’t been eclipsed by that damn Black Star, she’d probably be opening his next tour (and they’d talk about how they both feel such happy discomfort recording in Berlin). Seems she goes through drummers like Spinal Tap (rough enough for Government workers).

Bonus tip: her evolving visuals won’t disappoint fans of these audio trips!
-Thurston Hunger

Ocher as in “Oh-chen” Horrorshow, my-ee droogs!

Bunnett, Jane and Maqueque – "On Firm Ground/Tierra Firme" – [Linus Entertainment]

aarbor   9/9/2021   12-inch, Jazz

Jane Bunnett is a Canadian alto sax player, flutist and pianist, with many recordings to her credit. With Maqueque she set out to mentor up-and-coming young Cuban women jazz musicians. The group has become very successful playing at high visibility festivals.They are being touted as the “New Queens of Afro-Cuban Jazz”. They are deliberately trying to sidestep the machismo of the Cuban jazz scene and have succeeded, although I find myself wishing for playing with a bit more grit or attitude. AArbor

Brown, James / Live At Home With His Bad Self

carsonstreet   8/31/2021   12-inch, Soul

This album is a complement to the 50th anniversary release of Live at Home With His Bad Self (which itself is an expansion of a 1969 live show that was heavily edited into the LP ‘Sex Machine’), this Record Store Day Black Friday exclusive is the after-show set, featuring extended versions of rare cuts, new mixes, a duet with Marva Whitney and some revealing stage patter.

Davis, Miles / Live In San Juan

carsonstreet   8/31/2021   12-inch, Jazz

By the late ’80s Miles Davis had radically overhauled his style yet again, incorporating prominent synthesizers and using an ever-changing cast of young backing musicians. This remarkable set took place in the intimate setting of the Coach House Concert Hall in San Juan Capistrano, California, on June 15, 1989, and was broadcast on American Public Radio. It features just two tracks, a tribute to Jaco Pastorius from Davis’s 1989 Amandla album and the title-track from 1986’s Tutu. Check out the insert with lots of additional information. This is on serious 180g vinyl and is a UK import.

Mylingar – “Doda Sjalar” – [Amor Fati Productions]

whngr   8/25/2021   12-inch, A Library

Hideous Black Death

Devastatingly ugly bombast. Murky and bleak, unhinged growls and animalistic  howls  through a haze of terror, dissonance, and echoes. Searing guitar riffs, tortured cries, soupy bass, and buried drums propelling misery. An unhinged cacophony in the key of the savage hermit. Sometimes messy, often disjointed, but always reveling in discomfort and despair. A black series of psalms for the worship of the wretched.

From Encyclopedia Metallum: “Mylingar” is the plural of “myling”. In Scandinavian folklore, the word “myling” indicates a wandering ghost of an unbaptized child.

A compelling aside, Metallum also states ‘Members’ as ‘None”.

Tyranny and tortuous ruin without authorship adds value to this fiendishly sickening LP, their third offering in a feast of steaming viscera.

Sweden – 2019

Von Till, Steve – "A Deep Voiceless Wilderness" – [Neurot Recordings]

cinder   8/18/2021   12-inch, A Library

Known for being the vocalist and guitarist in Neurosis… a punishing, heavy band, Von Till’s solo efforts often take a soft departure and venture into new delicate territories. This release is his first solo record without a guitar in hand, opting this time for piano, cello, strings, French horn, mellotron and analog synthesizers, no voice. It’s drifty, ambient, reminiscent, gloomy yet optimistic. The cover art influences a vision of resting on an isolated island, soft winds and gentle waves, while giant moons and ships float by. A ghostly feeling, as if you’re watching your life walk down another path you almost chose.

Bassett, Marcia & Dimuzio, Thomas – "Losing Circles" – [Yew]

cinder   8/18/2021   12-inch, A Library


Collaboration between Buchla heads, Marcia & Thomas. She’s out in Phillie (I think), is a part of Double Leopards, GHQ, and Hototogisu & runs the Yew label that this is released on. Dimuzio is a local guy, known for his modular knobbery. This work explores ‘sound interference, texture, and ultra low-end synth waves’. They met each other at Thomas’s radio show, Frequency Modulation Radio at KFPA up in Berkeley, and then met together again and created this dark, sizzling, experimental noise nest. Crunchy, static, alien radio waves, computer squiggles of the past, cavernous synth sounds.   

Cat Stevens – Harold & Maude Soundtrack

carsonstreet   8/17/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Harold and Maude is a 1971 film that incorporates elements of dark humor and existentialist drama. The plot revolves around Harold Chasen (Bud Cort) who is intrigued with death. Harold drifts away from the life that his detached mother prescribes for him, and slowly develops a strong friendship, and eventually a romantic relationship, with a 79-year-old woman named Maude (Ruth Gordon), a Nazi concentration camp survivor who teaches Harold about the importance of living life to its fullest and that life is the most precious gift of all.

Critically and commercially unsuccessful when originally released, the film developed a cult following and in 1983 began making a profit. The film is ranked number 45 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest Movies of all Time. Much of Harold and Maude was filmed in the bay area including Berkeley, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, Dumbarton Bridge, Emeryville, Golden Gate National Cemetery, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Menlo Park, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, Mori Point, Oakland, Pacifica and the courthouse in Redwood City.

The music in Harold and Maude was composed and performed by Cat Stevens. He had been suggested by Elton John to do the music after John had dropped out of the project. Stevens composed two original songs for the film, “Don’t Be Shy” and “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” and performed instrumental and alternative versions of the songs “On the Road to Find Out”, “I Wish, I Wish”, “Miles from Nowhere”, “Tea for the Tillerman”, “I Think I See the Light”, “Where Do the Children Play?” and “Trouble”. This record is a Record Store Day exclusive on 180g orange vinyl.

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