Music Reviews

De Plata, Manitas – ‘Flamenco Guitar Vol. 2’ – [Connoisseur Society]

Thee Opinataur   6/18/2021   12-inch, International

Manitas de Plata was born in 1921 as Ricardo Baliardo in southern France to a traditional Gypsy community. His name bestowed upon him by his community means ‘Little Silver Hands’. His uncle taught him the guitar as a boy and ultimately evolving into a virtuoso. He exclusively played for his Gypsy community most of his life until he was recorded in 1963 in Arles France and his subsequent albums helped to popularize Flamenco music all over the world. He became somewhat of a cultural icon from that point, as his friends included Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Charlie Chaplin, and even Brigette Bardot. 

He was French rather than Spanish, and his unpredictable improvisations depart from the formal structures of the compás, the metric conventions that enable Flamenco singers, dancers, and musicians to perform together. De Plata achieved prominence as a unique individual who made his own rules.

Several of his sons Toninio, Paco, and Diego Baillardo, as well as nephews, went on to form the Gipsy Kings in the early 1980s that continued to popularize this music for future generations. 

Manitas de Plata died in 2014 at age 93, in France, he continued to tour the world and record extensively, until his death in 2014 having never lost his gypsy ways and outlook on life, pursuing his joint passions of music and women and utterly careless of money and the trappings of wealth.

He wears his emotions on his sleeve, there is no posturing, only the authenticity in his exquisite playing. 

Track 1 – Fandangos -. Dark and introspective, raw and intimate. sweet subtle expression. It is as if he is playing just for you. Taking delight in the transference of his spirit to us the listener. 

Track 2 – Tarantas y Bulerias – combines two forms. The Bulerias originally a slow dance, considered the most festive of Flamenco dance along with Tarantas, expressing a feeling of melancholy. 

Track 3 – Gypsy Rhumba – Impromptu, an example of chico flamenco (light-hearted). An after-hours party with singing, clapping, stomping, and some percussion elements such as scraping corrugated cardboard. Singing alongside Jose Reyes and his son Manero Baillardo.

Side 2 – Moritas Moras -(Little Moorish Girls) Delves into the heart of flamenco. Jose Reyes and Manero Baillardo take turns sharing the raw unrefined Gypsy Blues. This song digs deep into the heart of the Gypsy experience. 

Thee Opinataur

Smeaton, Bruce – “Iceman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” – [Southern Cross]

whngr   6/18/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Pensive orchestral fare with a predominant theme of transverse (bamboo?) flute.

Tension, release, tension, release. Drama, whimsy, discovery, resolution. It’s all tension and release. Floating, feeling, finding, flaying. Anxious, furtive stabs of viola, whimsical and alternately horrifying expulsions of over-blown flute, harp, timpani, plucking, pinching and protracted swells of strings, French (and perhaps other varieties of) horn all reinforcing themes of confusion, despair, realization, and deliverance. Track A5 (Vivarium) employs some furtive, curious electronic dabbling like drops of understanding falling into a pool of consciousness.

Iceman is a major-studio box office release from 1984 that hinges on the discovery of a paleolithic hominid (Neanderthal) dubbed Charley by the scientists who were able to resuscitate him from his 40,000 year cryogenic slumber and the ethical consequences of said action. Is he a man or a beast? A sentient being with autonomy or a living relic to be caged and studied? A film that I watched repeatedly in my early youth when I briefly had access to cable and was incapable of escaping the perceived safety of the suburban home I inhabited. Not a terrific film but one which presented interesting ideas that I am still considering deeply, what does it mean to be a man, and what does it mean to be free? I imagine a world covered in ice, one bristling with constant danger, where survival depends on your training, biology, and understanding of an incessantly hostile terrain. An existence surrounded by spirits and gods that deeply inform ones awareness and fate. A far simpler time with fire and blood, tooth and horn, family and foe, the stars and… ice. One where our world was filled with profound mysteries and brutal repercussions to even the slightest of missteps. And I wonder, would I have fared better then? Surely not. But I imagine I would not feel as disconnected, miserable, and hapless in a world that seems to be lacking in spiritual resonance while charging blindly, without hesitation, towards the obliteration of our “advanced” species.

Someplace: The Remixes [coll] – [FameFame]

cinder   6/16/2021   12-inch, A Library

A remix and interpretation collection of The Blameshifter’s (Tasman Richardson, also label founder) track, Someplace. The range of sounds on this album flow from dark horror, ambient drone, spooky shadowy experimental, IDM quirks, minimal beat and gloomy urges. If you didn’t know that it was a remix project, you wouldn’t be able to tell, each track is a completely different take – a perfect blend between being right on the cusp of deep sleep, and entering that sinister nightmare. Original track is on the B side, plus his own remix, as well as fantastic journeys from others! 

Legendary Pink Dots, The – "Pages of Aquarius" – [Metropolis Records]

cinder   6/16/2021   12-inch, A Library

I’m pretty damn picky with singing, but Edward Ka-Spel definitely is one of my favorite vocalists. His voice is so charming, delicate and whimsical – perfect for telling haunted fairytales and forlorn stories. This album came out in 2016, and delve into introspection, narcissism and self-loathing, mortality and the afterlife, destiny and social media. Electronics, piano, mellotron, guitars… it’s another great trip from The Dots.  

Vortex Empath Xen / Moira Scar – “Between Worlds” – [Bat Noise]

whngr   6/11/2021   12-inch, A Library

Wan glam/death rock outta Oakland. A melancholic, driven, inspired, mournful, pitch-bent glimpse into a glimmer-realm of nocturnal isolation.

Bass guitar, drum machine, electric guitar, horn, synthesizer, a wide variety of vocalizations and reverb from this unique two-piece. Pop structure with powerful hooks that buried themselves in my brain, though grotesque and strange enough to cause me to recoil momentarily before curiosity would suck me in again. Like a Gustav Klimt if gold were sadness. Their live sets bring an added level of theater that deepens my enthusiasm, employing elaborate costumes that bolsters the psycho-necrotic fantasy. They appear to love a good vamp and the album that you now hold amounts to a ticket to the Theater of Magic. Other comparisons to Hesse’s Steppenwolf apply; Vortex Empath Xen is a project truly on the fringe, they have no peers, no scene, they appear conspicuously secluded. No censors or filters, we are offered a beautiful/horrific glimpse into a pristine world of pure creative expression. Albeit one that revolves around the profoundly bizarre. It is difficult to imagine Moira Scar caring much about what their critics, nor world thinks of them, they seem totally unencumbered by any judgement from any perspective of any plane or planet, they couldn’t make the albums they do if their drive wasn’t entirely detached from the derision that must surely befall their sweepingly unconventional vision. One that isn’t constrained by vocals that are in any semblance of pitch or mixes that adhere to traditionally established sensibilities and thus, you… have been warned. But you may find, as I have, that once you surmount your initial revulsion that you will find yourself returning to the well repeatedly to bask in the perturbed glow of unrecognized genius and to confirm that there is nothing else, in this world or the next, that will satisfy your disturbed proclivities quite like, V.E.X. / Moira Scar.

Friendship – “Undercurrent” – [Southern Lord Recordings]

whngr   6/11/2021   12-inch, A Library

Harsh and abrasive Grindcore/Power Violence Sludge/Doom from Chiba, Japan.

Up and down-tempo spurts of horrific misery. Double bass, riffage, guttural bellows, deep down-tuned bends, blast beats, cacophony, torment, coursing tirades of anger.

Unadulterated, maladapted disquiet, a clarion call for the disenfranchised and dispossessed. An interesting niche for this part of the world as the sounds of the Bay Area peninsula and Claremont California continue to echo and reverberate around the globe, we are offered a glimpse into what sounds, to my (admittedly aged) ear, to be slightly retrospective. This is not untilled soil… but it is black, fertile, and awash in a perspective that could only originate in the land of the rising sun. This four-piece slipped off the radar in 2020 after abandoning their U.K. tour do to unforeseen plague circumstances. Perhaps in the future they will see fit to make a pilgrimage to our part of the world where they can pay homage to the dark anti-gods of Power Violence. All hail Spazz! All hail… Man Is The Bastard a.k.a. Charred Remains!

Empool – "DOES Do Did Done" – [Feeding Tube Records]

aarbor   6/9/2021   12-inch, A Library

Empool is Ann Arbor’s Miller brothers: twins Laurence and Ben and older brother Roger (of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and Mission of Burma). Andre Cynkin plays guitar and farfisa on some tracks and Rick Scott plays acoustic piano on 1 track. These are recordings from 1977 and 1978 written by Laurence and released by Feeding Tube Records in 2018. The band improvised over pre-recorded background tapes which one of the brothers created using sound on sound analog recording equipment. Ben and Laurence evolved from Empool into members of Destroy All Monsters (another Ann Arbor band) in 1977. They have since recorded another album as Empool in recent years and are now looking for a label. Many thanks to Laurence Miller for donating this record to KFJC! AArbor

Lingua Ignota – "Caligula" – [Profound Lore Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/8/2021   12-inch, A Library

For a while, this album felt thematically like a love song between God and Satan, the world’s oldest co-dependent lovers. But then I read an interview song-by-song breakdown at
which shot that theory down in flames. But what pretty flames, whether they burn in hell or just the throat/heart/soul of Kristin Hayter. Hayter’s
voice often multitracked, can assume the shape of some Sardinian shepherds or a choir of Huun-Hurt-Too monks. She invokes the divine torment of Diamanda or Jarboe, and her musical accompaniment is often just as harrowing. Slow and heavy, like the steps of an executioneer plodding across the gallows. Other sounds add to the theatrics of Hayter’s featured voice like forlorn horns (synth’d?), percussion rattles (chained prisoners?), timpani storms and who knew Satan had a piano bar down on the 9th ring. Plus he trimmed his fingernails for this recording. Sonic disintegration is well used here (see “May Your Failure”) which invokes our greatest fallen Pope – Distortus Maximus II. The recording is a study in dynamics, the mix of voices, chorale and tortured to scream – the thickening and thinning of sound, the repetition and prayer/poem cataloging. A very captivating release. And it seems Aileen Wuonos is still her co-pilot (#6) for me a strange patron/matron saint, but viva equal rights in wrongs I guess. Will she paint herself into a pentagram corner, I don’t think so, I expect this Hayter to proper, and continue to bloom like an asphodel.
-Thurston Hunger
I flinch every damn time on the broken glass on “Sorrow!” and then
laugh later on the Lars Ulrich sample sandwiched in

Yildirim, Derya & Grup Simsek – "Kar Yagar" – [Les Disques Bongo Joe]

Thurston Hunger   6/8/2021   12-inch, International

Old Anatolian Psych has certainly charged KFJC’s airwaves in the past, this is a modern Grup coming out of Germany, also channelling Turkish melodies and scales, but with more of a pop charm. I can see Slowdive fans enraptured by much of this. Derya Yildirim is at the forefront with her baglama, and her arresting voice. Somewhat husky and brimming with a triumphant frailty that reminded me of Selda Bagcan. She soars on re-interpretations of classic folk songs, there are nice translations and brief backgrounds in the included booklet – “Dom Dom Kursunu” has a piercing story behind it. The older songs have more political sting to them, while Derya’s compositions cover a more emotional heartbreak. The album does have an ache to it, although the number that drew me to it was the closer “Oy Oy Emine” – a playful pining folk tune, number one with a bullet for your belly dancing class. “Hekimoglu” is another unique track, a stately percussion procession, Derya’s voice wavering a top it. Most of the album though masterfully mixes her saz riffs with swelling organ, some gritty fuzz guitar and absolutely suave basslines. Drummer Greta Eacott holds it all down (and has her own label too). Great hypnotic pop with a petite powerhouse lead vocalist (nice that her Dad Mustafa thunderously recites poetry on “Cockular II”). Old tunes, young Turks, new rewards!

-Thurston Hunger

BURNPILOT – “Infinitism” – [Pink Tank Records]

SlartiBartfast   6/6/2021   12-inch, A Library

Self described Psychedelic Punk designed to destroy? Since 2005? Where have you been Burnpilot? This is an early 2020 release of the German psyche rock trio Burnpilot out of Bielefeld, Germany. Burnpilot was originally founded in 2005 by brothers Joel and Sidney Jaffe on bass and drums. They soon after recruited Jonas Hehemann on guitar and Burnpilot was the result. This pre-pandemic release provides a perfect musical escape from the everyday doldrums, and an excellent planetary road stop for a psychedelic daydream. 

Froys, The “Seaweed/Under a Tie Dye Sky” – [Static Blooms]

SlartiBartfast   6/6/2021   12-inch, A Library

Garage punk? Stoner, psyche rock from a three piece out of Mexico City? This split 12” LP is a re-release of two earlier EP’s “Under a Tie Dyed Sky” and “Seaweed” and delivers on all cylinders. Oscillating between an in your face, high tempo post punk to more sonic musical trips, The Froys bring it with this fantastically energetic double EP release. It’s a trip filled with a little metal, post punk, and fuzzed out psyche guitars with that perfect amount of surf feel. Combined with powerful lyrics and just the right amount of rage and you find The Froys tapping into their chemistry to produce some of the best channeled craziness a trio can produce. Time to break out the tie-dyes and find the path The Froys have left your senses to follow.

Acanthus – “Le Frisson Des Vampires” – [Finders Keepers Records]

whngr   6/4/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Sweet Stoner/Psych rock to accompany a slightly trashy (blue) French film featuring mostly fem vampires sans clothing or a sensible plot, ca. 1971.

Beautiful sultry instrumental sounds that revolve around guitar but include flute, bells, hand drums, organ, and bass guitar. Also included are some sound bites from the film in English (dubbed) and a variety of quizzical animal noises. A bit of a jam sound but the guitar phrasing ties the tracks together marvelously. Rad, sometimes sad, and bad to the bloody bone. I was able to track down the original version en Français however “Le Frisson Des Vampires” was released to English speaking audiences as “The Shiver of the Vampires” which was watchable… but only by a (70’s muff) hair.

Attributed to a five piece project with no other releases which is a shame as they rule the riff-rocket pretty hard while sporting monster sideburns and killer threads.

An expansive sheet of liner notes is included with this LP staying true to Finders Keepers formulae of absolute historic transparency… similar to the diaphanous robes of the vampire servants depicted in this marvelously kitsch movie where it is possible to learn everything you never thought you wanted to know about Jean Rollin and his unique taste on film making, the actors’ complete works, and a history of French erotic vampire cinema.

Previn, Andre – “4 Horsemen of The Apocalypse (Original Sound Track), The” – [MGM Records]

whngr   6/4/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Grandiose orchestral soundtrack fare with a few compelling song titles.

Horns, viola, timpani, cello, violin, tuba, oboe, flute, the whole gang’s here. One sorta classic loungy love song on B2, “Mine For The Moment”.
Much like the film the tracks on this LP bounces from cloyingly sweet to overly dramatic and often contain suspenseful passages or moments of life rending epiphany. Unfortunately this is not a tale of the apocalypse, cataclysm, nor of the Anti-Christ’s return to his throne on Earth… ’tis instead a film about family, love, and betrayal that hinges on espionage and the French Resistance during the Third Reich’s occupation during WWII. However, it does contain multiple allusions to the final chapter of the New Testament where four unholy riders, Conquest, War, Famine, and Death are given reign over a quarter of the earth so that they might decimate humanity… and much to my delight a few scenes where this is image is depicted, in my miserable opinion, quite convincingly though often superimposed over the main characters in this slightly lame and dated drama. It was achingly long (2:33:13) and they seemed to have spent a fair amount of money on it, thus the small sum I spent to view it online tells me that I have received a fairly good return on my investment and thus I am reinforced in my belief that it is important for me to have seen any and all films corresponding to the soundtracks I review for… your source. But don’t bother with the movie, trust me. Unless you are a completist with Nazi themed romances or depictions of fantastic death riders. Soundtrack is pretty good though, try the last two tracks if you’re feelin’ up for something classic and classy if slightly bombastic and pretentious.

Up, Bustle and Out – "City Breakers" – [Routes Music]

aarbor   5/26/2021   12-inch, A Library

An unusual album from Up, Bustle and Out in that it focuses on Reggae, Dub with some Hip Hop as well. In addition to the usual Up, Bustle and Out beats, cuts, scratches and keyboards, the sound is musically even more diverse: flamenco guitar, a Jamaican DJ, trumpets, darbukas, even a Talkin’ Tabla dub featuring Nitin Sawhney. The lyrics are rife with revolution and dissent. Enjoy! AArbor

Arthur Doyle Plus 4 – ‘Alabama Feeling’ – [Rank and File]

Thee Opinataur   5/25/2021   12-inch, Jazz

Arthur Doyle Alabama Feeling Album

Recorded Live at the Brook, New York City, Nov 11, 1977. Reissued in 2009 on Rank & File Records out of Berlin.
While Doyle had previously supported other Free Jazz greats, such as Noah Howard (Black Ark) and Sun Ra, This is Doyle’s first album where he leads. He is credited on this album playing Tenor Voice-O-Phone, Bass Voice-O-Net whereas he not only plays but sings at the same time through his instrument. Its results are a fierce raw cerebral energy right from the beginning with ‘November 8th & 9th – I Can’t Remember When’. In fact, the whole first side is a nonstop uncompromising bastion of energy that literally blows you back and really doesn’t stop until you flip to side two. Here the two drummers Rashied Sinan and Bruce Moore blend beautifully in a dark tribal rhythmic duet on ‘Ancestor’ as one by one the other members join in the journey. Charles Stephens Trombone is all over the place throughout this album as he goes from swampy elongated pitches to short, full blasts exploding perfectly alongside Doyle. Not to be outdone, Doyle’s childhood friend from Birmingham, Richard Williams on Fender Bass is magnificent in support of keeping complex time. There is definitely confrontation all along this journey, but I believe that is purposeful, and why this recording stands out and has defied the test of time in its relevancy even today.
While the original master was lost, this reissue was captured from the original vinyl recording. It is lo-fi and has an almost field recording feel to it, and it is absolutely perfect.

Black Pus – "All Aboard The Magic Pus" – [Limited Appeal]

cinder   5/24/2021   12-inch, A Library

Solo project of Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt, Mindflayer). This was actually started back in 2007, but various elements kept it from being finished… until covid hit and there was ample time. It’s all Chip’s mastermind, but there’s others listed such as percussion-  TIME, LORD SUN SON, vocals – PRINCE PRANCE, keyboards – INSPECTOR BASS & other stuff –  YABO JAGAIMO. Who knows if those are really other people or made up personas of Brian’s. Ha. It’s frantic drumming of course, with crunchy vox, oscillators vibrating, fuzzed bass, sometimes heavy… sometimes the drums sound super hollow. It’s manic and spazzy! 

USA/Mexico – "Del Rio" – [12XU]

cinder   5/24/2021   12-inch, A Library

Third release from Texan trio guitarist Craig Clouse (Shit and Shine), bassist Nate Cross (Marriage, Expensive Shit), & drummer King Coffey (Butthole Surfers). It also features monster vox from Colby Brinkman (Taverner). It’s loud, noisy, sludgy, dirgy, and distorted as fuck. Crunched out efx, gritty layers, rough edges. Abrasive.

Haynes, Jim – “Electrical Injuries” – [Helen Scarsdale Agency]

mickeyslim   5/22/2021   12-inch, A Library

delectable aqueous churning

stuck in mud,

electronic tin choking

on an acerbic liturgy,

fuzz-covered barbed wire

lining the fence between

the pit of man’s fears

and the summit of his knowledge.

this is the dimension of post-industrial research noise of Jim Haynes alla Helen Scarsdale Agency. subtle, static musique concrete, only somewhat harsh at times. a thoroughly enjoyable listen for those interested in self-reflective, meditative found sounding hums

Spike in Vain – “Disease Is Relative” – [A Scat Records]

whngr   5/21/2021   12-inch, A Library

Strange Art/Anger/Post/Punk/Prog/Death Rock

Shaker Heights, Ohio – 1984 Angular jangly guitars, wandering bass lines, yells, screams, shrieks, and whispers and one brief passage of spoken word over mournful, abstract piano (A5- “No Name” ).

Sometimes poppy, funky, and chaotic, but always adulating the seething white underbelly of American trauma and strife…A quizzical hodge podge of genres that defies rote categorization then, as it does now though one might draw parallels to the likes of Pear Ubu, MX-80 Sound, No Trend, or perhaps a more technically proficient Flipper.

Incepted in an inner-ring streetcar suburb of Cleveland, Spike In Vain was a genuinely innovative band filled with youthful vigor, painfully evocative with an unwaveringly artistic and nonconformist perspective.

Henrik Rylander – “Fran En Obestamd Plats I Rummet” – [Hoga Nord Rekords]

SlartiBartfast   5/19/2021   12-inch, A Library

This is Hoga Nord Records re-release of Swedish artist Henrik Rylander’s 1998 album “Fran En Obestamd Plats I Rummet”. Filled with electronic glitches and psychedelic melodies, “From an Undecided Place in the Room” will thrill your experimental senses in the most beautiful way that only Swedish experimental psyche can. Floating between an atmosphere of electronic exploration and unabashed psyche rock melodies, Henrik gives a master class in melding experimental electronic glitches with mind bending, melodic, jams. 2-7-4-8-….

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