Music Reviews

Titmachine – “We Build a New City ” – [Siltbreeze]

Thurston Hunger   9/23/2008   7-inch, A Library

Possible misgivings (artwork, band name, track titles worried
me this was a kitschy Journey tribute for some reason) were
quickly dispelled by the Siltbreeze imprint. Titmachine end
up being 4 ladies who’ve gathered in the Netherlands to tear
more at ears than libidos. DIY dirty dirge punk. Lead track
is actually a cover of a Palais Schaumburg song, screeched
in German. The vocal pattern takes on even more of a siren
(as in politzei, not argonauts) quality (up and down, up and
down) then the original which can be heard (and seen) here

On the flip, leader singer Jana pleads over a bassy death
march, that occasionally accelerates. As L.A. Drugs were
to Twisted Village, perhaps so are Titmachine to the
‘breeze? Punk pride in their unlearned approach, and that
instills insistence here, but ultimately will their
influences overshadow their Blare-y Witch-y treatment of
covers? I hope not…but right now I’m too busy digging
vintage Palais Schaumburg stuff.

-Thurston Hunger

Monkey Power Trio, The – “1995: The First Hour ” – [Pochahontas Swamp Machine]

Max Level   9/7/2008   7-inch, A Library

Where it all began. Three college chums convened in the basement of a Brooklyn apartment building for an hour of on-the-spot songwriting with no preparation, not much in the way of proficiency, and barely any instruments (a couple of wind instruments, a 5-string guitar, and basement junk percussion such as a space heater, gas cans, etc). A lo-fi cassette recorder captured the magic. I’m not too big on the comedy bit “You Like-a The Cheese?”, but I do like the beautiful and disturbing story of “Baby Eyes”, and the other songs have a raw no-wave blurt that sounds good to me.

Ima Fucking Gymnast – “…So Freakin’ Juicy! ” – [Olfactory Records]

humana   9/2/2008   7-inch, A Library

Drum & Bass/Punk/Powerpop: These short bursts of energy deliver all the hyperactivity you???d expect from ???three teens in gym clothes playing punk rock.??? A few of the lyrics are haphazardly written out on an insert to the 7???. Notable is that a girl leads the group on vocals, and her voice makes you want to crack up laughing with its lyrics and simply because it infuses you with its youthful take on the world. Most of this is dirty (I???ve marked the tracks on the cover), but some are clean (I think; it???s hard to tell what they???re saying), and all are worth a listen if you???re feeling like waking yourself up.

There Is a War/Diamonds In The Mine [coll] – [Go Midnight Records]

humana   9/2/2008   7-inch, A Library

Side A is ???There Is a War??? from A Gun Called Tension. It starts out with drums, then piano like chopsticks enters and establishes a dub beat, slow enough to make you try 45 in case you???re wrong about the 33 rpm. Clear voice speaking with voices joining him about the war between left and right, black and white, odd and even, rich and poor, man and woman, those who say there is a war and those who say there isn???t. ???Come back to the war, pick up your tidy burden.??? Doesn???t grab me. Low-fi, spare, with hip-hop and reggae tinges. Side B is ???Diamonds in the Mine??? from Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death. It features garage-y guitar and male vocals singing about lack–???there are no diamonds in your mine.??? Basic strumming and tambourine sounds. Hard to make out the words, but ???bitch??? is one of them.

His Electro Blue Voice – “Fog ” – [S-S Records]

Thurston Hunger   8/18/2008   7-inch, A Library

I’m not supposed to like a label so much, but ding-dang-doodle
Scott knows his no-wave noodles. 2007 release of this Italian
rock band tastes like a blast from the pasta and rips the
molten ore and angst right out of the ampheta-gold-mine.
“Fog” is sung in English (but the singer’s still thinking in
his native tongue). So you get words that sort of fall out of
frame, add to the utter driving edge riffage going on. And then,
just when it seems it cannot get any better, after a couple of
verses someone flips the switch and they electrocute lead singer
Francesco, inciting scream-singing excellence! The track has
its rollercoaster moments too, slowing down, rising and plunging
again. That maneuver is also brought to bear on the flip, “Das”
which is sung in Italian (and perhaps thought about in the
language of angry bees?). I like how towards the end of the
track, it turns into a runaway train, pummeling over some hippy
flutefest in the forest, smashing up some circuits and leaving
a broken music box that might be chirping out its death cry
for “Yellow Submarine?” I still don’t know what exactly hit me,
I just hope it does again and pronto, prego. Both solid, but
“Fog” puts crystal blisters on your ears.

-Thurston Hunger

Liguori, Gianmarco – “Penta / Beat Instrumental ” – [Sarang Bang]

humana   8/15/2008   7-inch, A Library

Other/Experimental/Jazz: I absolutely, positively love this–it is way too short, in my opinion, and that is my only complaint about it. Gianmarco Liguori hails from New Zealand, and composes fabulous music even though he doesn???t read music. On Side A he offers us ???Penta,??? whose catchy beat is reminiscent of Take 5 with a bossa nova feel. Kim Paterson smoothly inserts trumpet into the mix of drums and congas (also from Paterson) and fender rhodes and synthesizer from Murray McNabb. Liguori is of course on guitars and synthesizer. The layers of jazz are cool and effervescent like the fizz from champagne served at a fancy bar. Side B has ???Beat Instrumental,??? which I like even better than ???Penta.??? There is a jazzy lounge feel, cool, smooth, cosmopolitan, with bass by Liguori and Andrew Atwill. Both sides fade out, leaving you feeling like you???re waking from a dream you don???t want to let go. Fabulous.

Shepherds – “Bushbabies ” – [Dnt Records]

Thurston Hunger   8/12/2008   7-inch, A Library

Shepherds on this are a two piece featuring Jeremy Earl (drums)
from Meneguar and Gabriel Lucas Crane (tapes) from the
Vanishing Voice. The tape strafing includes a forlorn trumpet
soundling like a far-off mastodon stuck in a tar pit. It is
more prominent on the A-side, although recurs on the B-side
which is just the split of one long piece it seems. That
trumpet sample really builds the pillar that this is build
on. Drummer Earl keeps a pounding charge going, so he’s the
contrasting stampede to the stuck mastodon. For some reason
I was hoping this actually had a live trumpeteer doing the
honors, not sure that it matters. For an improv approach,
these two are not far off the !!! recesses of the disco
thanks to Earl’s skin crumpling, It’s got a beat and it’s
got a bent thanks to Crane’s cassette crumplets dropped on

-Thurston Hunger

Pink Reason – “Winona ” – [Woodsist]

Thurston Hunger   8/12/2008   7-inch, A Library

Life living at the wrong speeds winds up captured on this
33 rpm that almost begs to be amped up to 38 rpm, or perhaps
bottomed out to 27 rpm? Played backwards? Out of tune acoustic
guitar traces an out of tune experience on a trip to “Winona”
(a town where an early incarnation of Pink Reason traveled
from Green Bay to play allegedly.) The song stumbles and moans
like someone at a funeral, possibly even the wrong funeral.
On the flip side, “Give Yerself Away” dares you not to think
about Ian Curtis (maybe that’s the secret we’re not supposed
to give away). It’s actually the upbeat number on this 7″ but
it’s pretty beat up. Something that sounds like a radiator
clanking in a cheap hotel in the back ground and the guitar
line has a tinge of Stooge-ness. The single ends with a track
that starts off repeating over and over “It’s all over now”
and wondering then “why is it so hard to sleep.” This is an
early snapshot of Kevin DeBroux’s work, at the end of the Bush
regime now it seems almost out of place. But there are moments
when we are all addled, organically or otherwise, and for those
moments this seven inch awaits you. The cover demonstrates the
proper position for listening to this…

-Thurston Hunger

Geese – “Geese ” – [Vanity Case]

humana   7/25/2008   7-inch, A Library

Experimental/Psychedelic/Pop: The UK group of David Lazonby and Graham Bailey call their white vinyl an ???apocalyptic torch song??? in two parts (sides A and B, each of which is about 3:25). Side A is the calmer, more organized side, with clean-sounding guitars and drums, but it ends with an air siren that Side B picks up and takes off with into a more chaotic psyche reprise of the chorus ???The Plane???s Gone Dad.??? The m??l??e of sounds is due partly to additional voices, partly to the full-throttle guitar . The instruments fade first, then the voices, and finally you???re left with blips and bleeps and voices hitting notes, and at last you hear only a field recording. Very interesting and definitely something you???d hear on ???Apartment Life.???

David, Shana – “Terminally Bourgeois ” – [Shrug]

Thurston Hunger   7/22/2008   7-inch, A Library

This 7″ is proud of its squareness and its square-wave. All
music generated by an old Radio Shack late-seventies MG1,
the sound is kinda thin, and happily so. Like an 8-bit game
only firing on 6-bits? Ms. Shana’s voice is a perfect match
for this, part talent-show trying to be earnest and ironic
and the same time. The result, well possibly the dorkiest
record in quite some time. This record is fun at times, but
not as clever or as cute as it might think it is? Serving
up Peanut Butter and Jealousy on “Bad Sandwich” is tasty,
but there’s not much on that plate. Similarly the “I Fucked
Up” has a lot of promise for superb self-denigration but
never quite twists the eyebrows, instead settles for the
finger twisting in the cheek. A cover of Nilsson’s “One”
(even if you are young, you’ve probably heard it) strains
the voice of Ms. David…but then she’s not really here to
take on Goliath. Home-spun innocence that may resonate
more with others, surely the 8-bit operators will find this
warrants a spin. -Thurston Hunger

Gay Beast / Twin [coll] – [Saf Records]

cinder   6/26/2008   7-inch, A Library

Gay Beast says: Music for Gay Bosses who use their gayness to get more out of their gay employees. Two dudes and a chick drummer from Minneapolis. Guitar & Roland keys. Very angular, along the lines of Numbers, Erase Errata, etc…male vox.
Twin is a duo from Olympia, and they have the whole grrl femme sound going. High female vox, guitar and drums. They go by the names of Ghost & Ribs. Rough fuzzy guitar, a little bit prog-rocky, with a few metal riffs. Special guest Allie on guitar also. Fades out!

Quintana Roo/Family Underground [coll] – [Not Not Fun]

cinder   6/26/2008   7-inch, A Library

Family Underground hails from Denmark, while Quintana Roo is from Eagle Rock I think. Originally pressed for their West Coast tour that fell through. Two sides of drone-scapes. FU soars through clouds, sounding like a jet-powered mosquito. Low hums and buzzes intertwined. Quintana Roo is more like a deep sea exploration, with moaning whales and slow moving frozen ice.
Limited to 300 copies. BTW – I like it at 33, more droney that way.

Monkey Power Trio – “Things Get Ugly ” – [Pochahontas Swamp Machine]

Max Level   6/15/2008   7-inch, A Library

MPT’s legendary 1998 session, and their fourth attempt at being a band. Songwise, the two winners are: A1 “You Gotta Have Hope”, probably MPT’s best-known song; an uplifting number with a positive message; it also features that recorder sound that immediately identifies this as a MPT endeavor. B1 “I Spit a Germ” is a sort of no-wave version of a jazz poetry piece, with spare instrumentation (sax/bass/drums) and vocalist Mark telling it (and yelling it) like it is. I like those two tracks a lot. The other songs… well, “Simple Genetic Mutation” and “Bionic Liver” are very short and probably wisely so; and the less said about “Fatty Rocks” the better.

Monkey Power Trio – “eMPTy ” – [Pochahontas Swamp Machine]

Max Level   6/15/2008   7-inch, A Library

“Our prettiest songs ever”, boasts the outer sleeve of this, the result of this one-day-a-year band’s third hour (1997) as a band. Side A features occasional vocalist Matt narrating a desperate tale in which he yells like his sister and honks out some crazy sax to get the point across; all of that over a pounding beat and a morass of deranged feedback. One of my fave MPT tracks for sure. Side B really does have pretty songs, both sung by Mark; the first one compares a loved one to insect repellent, but in a good way. The second song is about a guy whose departed lover is still maddeningly present in his mind, as he muses over various household objects. Genius.

Les Club Des Chats – “Yes Madame ! ” – [S-S Records]

cinder   6/2/2008   7-inch, A Library

MEOW! Super kitty cat themed 7″, artwork AND lyrics. Duo from Paris France! Very short songs, in the vain of a stripped down Deerhoof/Numbers/Kleenex/Monty Python skit. Mostly just drums, guitar and random objects. High pitched squeeky female vox, and funny French-man-BBC style male vox. Check their website (address on 7″ sleeve) for some more crazy kitty pics!

Le Club De Chats – “Yes Madame! ” – [S-S Records]

cinder   5/22/2008   7-inch, A Library

MEOW! Super kitty cat themed 7″, artwork AND lyrics. Duo from Paris France! Very short songs, in the vain of a stripped down Deerhoof/Numbers/Kleenex/Monty Python skit. Mostly just drums, guitar and random objects. High pitched squeeky female vox, and funny French-man-BBC style male vox. Check their website (address on 7″ sleeve) for some more crazy kitty pics!

Tarp – “Tarp ” – [Breaking World Records]

cinder   5/22/2008   7-inch, A Library

Synth-duo of Joshua Burkett & Conrad Capistran (Sunburned Hand of the Man) make the group Tarp. Two sidelong tracks of space probing moogy drones. Feels like background music for Doctor Who. Lots of the synthy “WAH WOH WAH WOH” sounds! Side A for more bubbling hovering, lava drones. Side B for the foaming surprise attack drones. Spacey! Both sides around 3 minutes!

Dead Machines – “Plays Kwaidan ” – [Ideal Recordings]

cinder   5/8/2008   7-inch, A Library

Husband & wife duo John Olson (of Wolf Eyes) & Tovah O’Rourke (of Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice) make up Dead Machines.
Late night walks in the haunted forest. Thick fog banks. Screaming ghost trains. Damp tunnels that never end. Frozen winds that torture your ears and stiffen your nose hairs. Whispering drones of ice cold memories. This is the soundtrack to that nightmare. Two sidelong horror tracks to play in the dark.

Axolotl/Inca Ore [coll] – [Arbor]

cinder   4/10/2008   7-inch, A Library

Axolotl’s two tracks are electronic loopy drone-outs.
Very short, if you don’t catch the break it sounds
good as one piece. I think there’s violin in there
Inca Ore sounds like a creepy little girl telling a
whispering ghost story in the land of OZ. Harp
included. Both sides excellent!

Growing – “Disconfirm ” – [The Social Registry]

cinder   4/10/2008   7-inch, A Library

8th edition of Social Registry’s ongoing singles
collection. Limited to 750 copies. Growing hails
from Brooklyn, NY. Side A is a rusty electronic
looping sunflare, with squiggly solar sperm squiggles.
Side B on the other hand sounds like my intestines
after a long day of eating beans, tofu and beer.
Gurgles to the max! Both sides around 3 minutes.

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