Music Reviews

Troutman, Roger – "Many Facets of Roger, The" – [Warner Bros.]

aarbor   1/20/2021   12-inch, Soul

This is Roger Troutman’s first solo album from 1981. Before going solo he and some of his brothers started the band Zapp in 1979 and was signed by George Clinton. Zapp influenced West Coast hip hop because its music was sampled a lot. Later he collaborated with Bootsy Collins. Later in his career Roger was best known for his use of a specialized “Talkbox” to create interesting vocal effects. Apparently the cover of I Heard it Through the Grapevine and the song So Ruff, So Tuff on this album were very well received. Most of the tracks are funky and the last track is Blues. AArbor

Jimmy Castor Bunch, The – "Jimmy Castor Bunch, The" – [Cotillion Records]

aarbor   1/20/2021   12-inch, Soul

From 1979, this album is upbeat, funky and danceable. The last 2 tracks are notably slower than the earlier ones. Castor is vocalist and alto sax player here. He is best known for several songs (none of which appear on this album: Hey Leroy Your Mama’s Callin’ You (1967), the Bertha Butt Boogie (1975), It’s Just Begun (1972) and Troglodyte (Cave man). He also recorded a soprano saxophone cover of A Whiter Shade of Pale (1973). AArbor

Towards a Total Poetry [coll] – [Recital]

aarbor   1/20/2021   12-inch, A Library

Don’t be fooled by the word “Poetry” in the title. This is more performance art than poetry! Paul Vangelisti a poet and broadcaster affiliated with KPFK, he’s the guy behind Los Angeles Theatre of the Ear (L.A.T.E.). This is a broadcast from March 1980 on KPFK. The tracks are sung, squawked, scatted, shrieked…. Enjoy! AArbor

Worrell, Bernie – "All The Woo In The World" – [Tidal Waves Music]

aarbor   1/13/2021   12-inch, Soul

Bernie Worrell (who died in 2016) was a founding member of Parliament/Funkadelic, also known for his work with Talking Heads. This is his first solo album, originally released in 1978. Featured artists include: P-Funk alums like George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley and Eddie Hazel. One reviewer described it as “so funky you can smell it through the dust jacket.” This beautiful slab of orange vinyl has much of what you’d expect from Funkadelic: layered sounds, amazing horns, toe-tapping midtempo beat – a classic platter of cosmic slop. AArbor

Brown, James and The Famous Flames – "Tell Me What You're Gonna Do" – [Rumble Records]

aarbor   1/13/2021   12-inch, Soul

This is a 2015 re-release of an early 1960’s album by James Brown and the Famous Flames when they’d had a few hits, but hadn’t quite made the big time. James has gone beyond just being a “blues singer” or a gospel singer and is singing ballads and covers here as well. What I love is the energy and intensity of his singing here – a star on the way to super stardom. AArbor

Body Double -“Milk Fed” -[Zum]

mickeyslim   1/12/2021   12-inch, A Library

Crunchy, post-punk indie tastiness from Oakland’s Candace Lazarou and Noah Adams. This is the freshman release of this duo coming hot off the Zum Audio press (more or less). This new project is sure to turn some heads, and KFJC is getting a jump start on the action.

Each short track is like a vacation into a romantic era poem, full of melancholy and  disturbed musing. Float above the clouds, watching as the world below eats itself alive. Static on the TV doesn’t bother you, because why would it? It’s all just a dream anyway…

Maximum Ernst – “Hallmark of a Crisis Period” – [Ever / Never]

lexi glass   1/6/2021   12-inch, A Library

This sick slab of “dada spew” is the first vinyl release from Maximum Ernst, the NYC duo of Josh Gordon and Erick Bradshaw (better known to WFMU listeners as Creamo Coyl of the Spin Age Blasters show). Two sidelong sound excursions, warming up with an easy hike into the depths of a strange noiseforest on “Un Menace Natural” until the darkness descends. The deepening dread carries over into the B side “Hallmark of a Crisis Period,” a collage of spoken word rants and ravings about science and schizophrenia reverberating alongside guitar feedback, synth attacks and harsh noise blasts. Released in Fall 2020 on NYC label ever/never.

Morwan – "Zola-Zemlya" – [Feel It Records]

Thurston Hunger   1/6/2021   12-inch, A Library

Morwan is Alex Ashtaui from Kiev. For a one-man band, this release is exceptionally full sounding. Ashtaui has great ear for a bassline, and some of those drums sound crisply live. He’s Slavic singing is often doubled, with a groan-drone reverb to the chanting style…but the chanting is more aligned with a holy man on an adrenaline binge. Guitar is thin and rattly, maybe a Soviet fender icing through a dark-wave of synth. Old Cure fans could easily re-dye their hair pitch black while listening to Волны. Ashtaui’s synth work often is cloudy with arrows of faux flute piercing it. That last track, Где-то там вдали almost has an Anatolian kind of vibe, just for reference I have no desire to start a holy war over its flavor. Apparently the combination of Arabic and Slavic, old folk and post-punk are the mesh that makes this quick five-track fix so mesmerizing. Perhaps, Alex merely worships rock, stylized rock as the cover image, looking like an asteroid hewn into the rough shape of an ancient saint or future visitor. Alien, familiar and inviting sounds here. The album title translates as “Ash-Earth” so maybe that is a self-portrait on the cover by this multi-talented artist (and professor?).

We got this imported by Feel It Records to the USA in 2020, but originally it was on an interesting Russian label Sierpien Records in 2019.

Left Outsides, The – "a Place to Hide" – [Feeding Tube Records]

humana   12/30/2020   12-inch, A Library

Some things that are left outside suffer from the experience, but this is definitely not the case with this London-based husband wife duo of Mark Nicholas and Alison Cotton, especially in the case of this folksy, heartening, yet often yearning release. Taken from a warmup to a live show in October of 2018, these songs feature drones, clear, lovely voices, violins, harmonium, and lyrics full of imagery that are the perfect accompaniment to a winter’s afternoon. You’ll want to play this to summon an idyllic atmosphere from another time.

Lee Hazlewood's Woodchucks – "Cruisin' For Surf Bunnies" – [Light in the Attic]

aarbor   12/30/2020   12-inch, A Library

Lee Hazlewood’s Woodchucks were one of Lee’s fake groups, a vehicle to release instrumentals, it’s just a pseudonym for Lee’s usual band: The Wrecking Crew. According to the record jacket, these tracks were recorded October 26, 1964. Light in the Attic released it in 2018, 11 years after his death. That explains the early ‘60’s surf sound. Hazlewood is best known as a producer and songwriter. also for his collaborations with Duane Eddy and Nancy Sinatra. His collaboration with Nancy Sinatra began when Frank Sinatra asked Lee to help boost his daughter’s career. When recording ‘These Boots are Made for Walkin’, Hazlewood is said to have made this suggestion to Nancy, “You can’t sing like Nancy Nice Lady any more. You have to sing for the truckers”. She later described him as “part Henry Higgins and part Sigmund Freud”. AArbor 

Cleveland, Barry – “Stones of Precious Water” – [Morning Trip]

cinder   12/21/2020   12-inch, A Library

An album from the early to mid ’80s. Barry recorded these tracks mostly between ’81 & ’83, mostly by improvisation. It’s lovely, light and airy guitar passages, wafting close to new age territory, but then he’ll shift into dark haunting forests on the next track. Six of the ten tracks contain contributions from Kay Epple and her late husband Bob Stohl (Emerald Web), adding flute, synthesizers, and bells. Don’t be scared, it’s way more intriguing and meditatively KFJC than other cheesy artists you think of when you hear the scary word, new age. Ambient and drone filled.

X.Y.R. – “Pilgrimage” – [Not Not Fun Records]

cinder   12/16/2020   12-inch, A Library

Solo synth designs from Soviet, Vladimir Karpov. Two 20 minute long explorations into dense, desolate, dystopian forests. Dreamy, lush and relaxing as hell. The A-side sets you right in the middle of a crystal marsh, complete with ghostly cooing birds and a soft fog that tickles your inner ears. Side B gives more of a mythical desert scene (despite side A having dunes in the title), with synth that resemble wind instruments, and gurgly critters. Drift… 

Thayer, Lloyd & Deupree, Jerome – “Duets” – [Feeding Tube Records]

mickeyslim   12/9/2020   12-inch, A Library

Absolutely fantastic release from Feeding Tube Records. This is improvisations by multi-instrumentalist Lloyd Thayer (who performed at the 1000 Incarnation of the Rose Fest) on the Chaturangui (an Indian 12-string instrument) and Weissenborn lap steel, alongside Jerome Deupree on percussion.

This is bluesey, psychey, indian-infused jams. Heady, ethereal and colorful. Swirling strings, easy brush-string beats. Whirling smoke dreams of Junior Kimbrough and Ravi Shankar’s love-child.

Lipscomb, Mance – “Mance Lipscomb Volume 4” – [Arhoolie Records Inc.]

mickeyslim   12/9/2020   12-inch, Blues

Navasota, Texas songster Mance Lipscomb recording once again for Arhoolie Records in Berkely. Discovered in 1960 during the blues roots discovery boom of the ’60s, Lispcomb, unlike most, had no earlier recordings. This is his fifth full-length, fourth in a series for Arhoolie. Most of his recordings, including the A-side on this release, were “live recordings” done in one session, in a single take. Extensive liner notes detail the unusual plight of Lipscomb, including his rise to fame as an important figure in the folk music revival period.

Excellent stories, raw gritty vocals. This is some top-notch, front-porch shit. Enjoy!

Cole, Max – "Mo High" – [Wah Wah Records]

aarbor   12/9/2020   12-inch, A Library

 Max Cole’s Mo High features a berimbau (Brazilian single-stringed percussion instrument – a musical bow – originally from Africa) and vocals which are very soul-kissed. You might even catch yourself singing along to Max’s almost choirboy pitched infectious vocals, which demand answers to a backing provided by unreal keys, shrieking synths and fractured beats. Natural Self’s (Nathaniel Pearn – of the Tru Thoughts label) remix gives the beats extra bite, a more powerful bass and loops. Be sure to give both sides a play! AArbor

Fauna Flash – "Fusion" – [Compost]

aarbor   12/9/2020   12-inch, A Library

From 2001 this release showcases the work of Fauna Flash (Roland Appel and Christian Prommer) in a variety of styles from the electro dub of Mother Nature, to jazzy house, funk, breakbeats – even to hip hop (last track). Appel and Prommer are drummers and play with the Rainer Truby Trio and with Peter Kruder in Voom Voom. Very nice drum ‘n bass tracks throughout. Some tracks have vocals, some don’t. It’s an excellent mixed bag. Probably their best album. AArbor

Cohran, Kelan Philip & The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – "Kelan Philip Cohran & The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble" – [Honest Jon's Records]

aarbor   12/9/2020   12-inch, Jazz

Phil Cohran was a jazz musician, best known for playing the trumpet in the Sun Ra Arkestra from 1959-1961 and for founding the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and Afro-Arts Theatre. This was one of his last recordings (from 2012, he died in 2017 at the age of 90). At times it sounds like a New Orleans brass band, at times like klezmer, at times like Balkan gypsy music, at times like Red Baraat, but it cooks and is always interesting. AArbor 

Virulent Specter – “Upon a Dead and Derelict Throne” – [Black Gangrene]

whngr   12/5/2020   12-inch, A Library

U.S.B.M. No-fidelity, no members, no fucks given. Tilling the frost kissed barren soil of our fathomless despair. The tinny drums buried below stand out perversely like a horrible secret that everyone knows but dare not speak. That snare that rings through the murky drone of trem-picked guitars and goblin shrieks. The scourge of divinity and the essence of antipathy.
Each side of this tremendous LP were originally released as two tapes compiled and released with great attention to detail by Black Gangrene. Unfortunately in direct contrast with my own attention to detail as the A side already exists in the our Library on cassette. Whatever, it still fucking punishes like a sadistic warlord prowling the battlefield for fallen enemies to drag back to camp.

More is known about this recondite but you won’t hear it from me… ’cause I’m not saying, but I will say this, the lone soul behind this recording embodies the kind of ethos that captured my interest in Black Metal back in the 90’s. One where every aspect of the project are envisioned and executed by a single person, and that person has total creative control and exists primarily in isolation. The song of the recluse.

Nace, Bill – “Both” – [Drag City]

cinder   12/4/2020   12-inch, A Library

Bill has been a concrete sound collaborator to many including Steve Baczkowski, Chris Corsano, Paul Flaherty, Greg Kelly, James Twig Harper, Samara Lubelski and Thurston Moore… but this release, besides a few cassettes back in the day, is being considered his first solo full length. Full of choatic guitar explorations, from harsh pedal effects, to twinkling and shimmering electric fried strings, darkness in rumbles, reverb echoes in hallowed caves, icy metallic and sharp. So good.

Cyrnai – “To Subtle-Drive” – [Dark Entries]

cinder   12/3/2020   12-inch, A Library

A reissue of her 4th release, from around 1990. Crynai is a rearranging of Carolyn Fok, her real name, and she hails from the bay area! By the time she was 16, she was influenced by Cabaret Voltaire, and Crass… and played in a few local bands. Always interested in her dad’s musical equipment, by 1988, she had used cassette 4-tracks, 8-track reel-to-reel 1/2 inch, a TASCAM 388 to DAT and floppy disk sampling to create her experimental sounds. In 1989 Carolyn discovered the first Digidesign digital recording software and changed the project to have more ethnic sounds and samples stemming from tapes collected during a trip to Egypt. So this reissue is the original 1988/90 album, with bonus tracks that were recorded around the same time period. There’s some rhythmic beats, some sound collages, lo-fi sounding excursions. Some vocals on a few, more in between murky layers. Sort of a hallucinatory dreamscape.  

Copyright © 2021 KFJC 89.7 FM
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
Public Inspection File