KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Araya, Felipe – “Punata” – [eh?]

mickeyslim   2/19/2020   A Library, Cassette

Found sound field recordings from Bolivia & Chile. Felipe Araya plays the Peruvian cajón, a wooden hand drum, in a very non-traditional, exploratory fashion.

Side A is field recordings made in Bolivia originally recorded onto mobile phone. Gysin/Burroughs-style cut-ups of sounds at Cochabamba market, at el Ojo del Inca, traditional folk sounds, muddy footsteps, faint voices with occasional sounds from Araya’s cajón.

Side B is a “silent session” recorded at a friends place in Santiago, Chile. Cajón and objects, starts as a minimal, playful exploration that evolves unhurriedly into an excellent crescendo.

Two 26-minute sides of well-done, found-sound, bliss…

Luke Honey – “Vastation” – [Skaven Electric]

lexi glass   2/19/2020   A Library, Cassette

Mysterious cassette of dark ambient electronics from a one-man project out of Cincinnati. Corroded drones layered atop venomous synths and ringing echos. Five tracks that seep slowly into intimate spaces, until the plug is pulled for an abrupt ending. Digging for the dirt on this tape didn’t turn up much – it is the sole release on Skaven Electric, apparently an Ohio label/dealer of “scrounged up goods for audio rats” – but that’s enough to know its waves will infest the playlists of KFJC’s more sinister shows.

Peterson, J. – ‘Refusal’ – [Wonderland Media]

Lord Gravestench   2/12/2020   A Library, Cassette

Sound artist Josh Peterson runs the Force Neurotic label. This 2019 cassette release consists of two very dark 20 minute pieces. Both are rambling and disquieting sound collages accompanied by the artist’s voice reading found texts from criminal cases. The A side piece deals with murders and the B side piece concerns unsolved disappearances. The compositions have a desolate attitude, combining melancholy and eeriness in a turn somewhat comparable to the films of David Lynch. Manipulated and damaged tapes of spelunking piano and other tuneless, toylike instruments, field recordings of public places, mournful clanking, desperate scrabbling.

Peterson intones, whispers, and declaims the dry facts of an uncertain number of these sad cases. Forensics. Autopsies. Surveillance footage. Traumatised family members trying to make sense of it all. The last few minutes of side A assume the aspect of Power Electronics, as piercing and squealing electronic tones back a more aggressive, urgent vocal delivery. Subtler side B ends with peaceful field recordings from a natural spot. Is it a hopeful epilogue… or is that what it sounds like where the poor girl’s body is buried?

The scrambled cut-up texts, intimately delivered, will remind some people of recent work by Sutcliffe Jugend and Consumer Electronics, and indeed Peterson has published a book with Philip Best’s Amphetamine Sulphate press. No FCCs but some edgy stuff (postmortem description of “anal injuries”) on side A.

Before The Revival – “O0” – [WV Sorcerer Productions]

lexi glass   2/4/2020   A Library, Cassette

Z.Y.Q. – a self-described “useless man” from Fuzhou, China – finds a use for the sounds from several genres of extreme music in his musical projects. As The Silent S, he explores lo-fi folk, dark ambient, and harsh noise, while his newest project Before the Revival alternates between pitch-black glitch techno and depressive black metal. On this 2019 debut cassette from BtR, the glitch sound is at the fore, with nine doses of bleak beats and low-end rumbles that together “describe a series of deep void and cruel universes inside his brain.” Once again, WV Sorcerer, the label headed by Chinese experimental artist ruò tán, delivers the desolation.

Filmmaker – “Unregulated” – [Opal Tapes]

lexi glass   2/4/2020   A Library, Cassette

Filmmaker is the alias of producer Faunes Efes of Medellín, Colombia. Unregulated, one of a slew of releases Efes issued in 2019, showcases his hypnotic take on dark electro. A slow, sludgy beat drives the killer lead track “Federal Bestiary” (T1). The pace quickens with the strobe light rhythms of “Unnatural Sciences” (T2) and the twisted synth stabs of “Inbred Indigo” (T3), and continues building with the driving “Dreamland Ops” (T4), and the high speed chase of “Bot Cells” (T5). The tape runs out too soon, fully dissociating into the hazy sunrise comedown of “Fading Life Drop” (T6). A 2019 release from Opal Tapes.

Wulkanaz – “Wulkanaz” – [Helter Skelter (Sweden)]

whngr   1/30/2020   A Library, Cassette

A barrage of 14 crushing Scandinavian rock-falls from Wagner Odegard aka Kumulonimbus of Tomhet and 1 dark ambient soundscape.

These short and not so sweet offerings are a concise distillation of black metal with ugly rock hooks. All the fat has been trimmed, excising the often monotonous drone of double kicks and buried, over-driven trem picked guitars in favor of a variety of tempos, melodies, and tonal pallets that coalesce in to a furious volley of catchy cvlt black metal-literate rock. It feels like a gauntlet being hurled down by Odegard, as if to say, I have more scope and breadth than our progenitors, more talent than the commercial black metal behemoths, more vision than the throngs of mimics and emulators, more fury than a Valkyrie during Ragnarök, and potentially much more fuel in the fire. A vehement onslaught of short-form black metal but there is so much more to Wulkanaz; finger picking, strumming, galloping palm-mutes, growling and rending guitars, spoken word, shrieking, slaughter, battering and pummeling. In tight, short succession and very little repetition. Almost as soon as a theme is established it is resolved, leaving us gasping for breath and begging for more. And there is plenty to go ’round as the replay value is concertedly high. Though the compositions and performances stand out on this album the recording and mixing are excellent as well. And the drums… Odegard’ employs the drumming of Daniel Rockmyr to glorious effect, allowing him the space to rule on his throne, unleashing a fusillade of percussive devastation. This album is an axiom of power and, in the opinion of this miserable volunteer, a new apogee in the genre as it continues to fracture, expand, and evolve.

Wang, Zijian – “Love Songs In Disillusion” – [WV Sorcerer Productions]

lexi glass   1/30/2020   A Library, Cassette

Written and recorded in the industrial zones near North China’s Bohai Bay, Love Songs in Disillusion is the debut cassette from experimental singer/songwriter Wang Zijian. A deep longing lies within these eight twisted love songs, composed of guitar and synth melodies, despondent vocals, spoken word poetry, and heavy industrial rhythms that might spring from the wasted oil fields where Wang lives and works. The heavy mood gently lifts at the tape’s end, with a dreamlike serenade (T7) and the cosmic visions of the epilogue (T8). Released in the Summer of 2019 on the French/Chinese experimental label WV Sorcerer Productions.

Munition – “Gaze/Gauze” – [Absurd Exposition]

lexi glass   1/22/2020   A Library, Cassette

Munition is the alias of Dexter Outhit, a noise artist from Toronto. This cassette is his second release, and KFJC’s second library addition from Montreal-based label Absurd Exposition. Gaze/Gauze would stand well alongside the first Absurd Exposition release that we recently added, the excellent Base Waters LP by Rusalka; both works draw the sound of ocean waves into enveloping expanses of composed noise. This Munition version has an anxious, suspenseful feel, as deep pulses surface and mobilize into martial rhythms. The marching beats summon visions of ancient voyages, hunts on the high seas, naval warfare. One ~15 minute piece that repeats on Side B of the tape.

Ebony Pendant – “Sempiternal Passage Through Realms of Suffering and Hatred” -[Forbidden Sonority]

whngr   12/18/2019   A Library, Cassette

Repetitive and slightly basic one man blck mtl from Seattle. Straight ahead, cold, bleak and solitary. No thresholds were broken on this tape, no limits tested, no souls were rend, or minds blown but fairly enjoyable none the less. However, The B-side is not , in the opinion of this miserable volunteer, listenable. Employing the same chords as Aqua’s, “Barbie Girl” I began to wonder if this wasn’t a hoax, or a test, that perhaps S.C. (the sole credit on this album that is dedicated to “no one”) was foisting upon the world, an insidious and bizarre sonic trolling. But I do not now believe this is the case as any black metaller worth his salt would never have listened to much less been aware of Aqua, Barbie, or anything that wasn’t cold, grim, low fidelity, or soaked in the frozen blood of their enemies.

Encoffinized – ‘Chambers of Deprivation’ – [Maggot Stomp]

Lord Gravestench   12/14/2019   A Library, Cassette

Encoffinized from Huntington Beach (not to be confused with Encoffination from San Diego) play lean, mean death metal. When KFJC added their debut demo last year I knew this band were something special, and they have totally delivered with their first full-length album (if you consider 22 minutes to be album-length).

These short, punchy deathgrind songs are propelled by fluid riffing, purring double-bass fills, faster-than-the-ear blasts, and zombie death gurgles declaiming morbid poems. The songwriting is not a reinvention of the medium but, I mean, it’s DEATH METAL… you don’t always want distinctive songwriting– sometimes you want Immolation and Nihilist worship, which Encoffinized accomplish here in spades, and without recourse to cliche as the riffs feel familiar BUT never derivative. I dare you not to nod your head along to the groovy bits or thrash around frantically to the chunky assault of the on-point drummer when the time comes for our boys to grind. Production-wise, this tape sounds like it was recorded in a mausoleum, in a good way.

When there’s no more room in Hell the dead will walk the Earth.

Obsidian Needles – “Every Angel Is Terrifying” – [Self Released]

lexi glass   12/10/2019   A Library, Cassette

Obsidian Needles is the Olympia-based industrial noise project of Clare S. This 2019 cassette, released in advance of her U.S. tour with Oakland’s Crawl of Time, contains two harrowing longform works. “keep my sufferings & desires from being violent” (Side A) alternates between uncomfortable stretches of subtle tones and textures and violent blasts of noise, with crushing industrial rhythms and distorted vocals. “good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere, honey” (Side B) forces us to eavesdrop on a conversation between a young sex worker and her customer. A sustained, throbbing pulse builds and vicious processed vocals rise up, as if in response to the disturbing scene. A quiet emptiness follows, and within that void the strength is mustered for a final, terrifying expression of rage.
FCCS on both sides

Rust Worship – “Predecession” – [Skin Trade Recordings]

lexi glass   12/3/2019   A Library, Cassette

This cassette documents two live 2014 Bay Area performances by Rust Worship, the “decay and noise” project of Angeleno Paul Haney. Both sets are continuous 20-minute pieces assembled from scraps of field recordings and tape loops. The LCM (RIP) performance (Side A), opens with wooden rumblings, like a small boat beating against the waves. It rides over crests of heavy noise and into troughs of layered tones, until it arrives at a crowded port. The Lab performance (Side B), returns us to a similar busy public space. In the background, a low pulse lies in wait. It surges, tears at the seams, and finally explodes into a sustained shearing blast. Released in 2018 on the LA-based label Skin Trade. More recent live work from Rust Worship can be found on KFJC’s latest Live from the Devil’s Triangle Volume 22 compilation, that features an excerpt from his 4/20/19 performance in The Pit.

Distance Machine – “Distance Machine” – [Cloister Recordings]

lexi glass   10/22/2019   A Library, Cassette

Distance Machine is the new project of Arizona musician Michael Bjella, whose work under the name GOG is well represented in our library (see here and here). On this debut cassette from Cloister Recordings, Bjella offers his take on dark ambient music in three longform works. “The More Severe The Initiation The More The Sacred The Dance” (T1, a new tagline for KFJC?), with its repeating swells of sinister strings, calls to mind the hypnotic “audio virus” sound of Deathprod. At first blush, “Lorri and Tess” (T2) appears to be a simple drone, but closer listening reveals hidden layers of rich detail: gorgeous layers of voices and remote rhythms. Closer “Send Us More Chuck Berry” (T3) returns to the broad stringed tones from the first track; here they’re beamed from the depths of space, amplifying and attenuating into nothingness.

Ima – “Ende” – [Buh Records]

lexi glass   10/15/2019   A Library, Cassette

This cassette is the first official single from IMA, the local electroacoustic duo of percussionist Nava Dunkleman and sound artist Amma Ateria. Compared to the live recording of their performance at the 2017 Garden of Memory festival (in our library), Ende is a much darker and more menacing vision; IMA describes this work as the “beginning of awakening to the aftermath of destruction and devastation.” Over four short vignettes, Dunkleman’s percussion moves from delicacy to total collapse, while Ateria’s electronic atmospherics build a heavy sense of dread. “Flower of Dust” (T2) incorporates fragments of Japanese poetry that build on the theme of downfall. The tape ends too soon, but luckily IMA’s first full-length LP is due out later this year, and I look forward to hearing more of their consistently elegant work.

Hypnagogue – “Distant Light Receding” – [Self Released]

lexi glass   10/8/2019   A Library, Cassette

This 2019 cassette is the debut release from Hypnagogue, the solo project of Massachusetts-based artist James Rosato. On Distant Light Receding, Rosato uses guitar and magnetic tape to evoke the “harsh beauty of a coastal New England winter.” But to my ear, there’s no harshness at all to be found in these dreamlike drones, just a quiet warmth, like a lit candle on a snowy night. Five tracks over two sides that drift into one another in a continuous slow burn.

Nonlocal Forecast – “Bubble Universe!” – [Hausu Mountain]

lexi glass   9/17/2019   A Library, Cassette

Mention “vaporwave” in a lobbyful of KFJC DJs and you’ll likely hear a chorus of groans. So how is that this cassette from Nonlocal Forecast – which deals in many of the 90s-obsessed sounds associated with the particularly obnoxious millennial microgenre – totally rips? It’s because we’re in the capable hands of Angel Marcloid, the creative genius behind the blazingly great project Fire-Toolz.

Those upbeat smooth-jazz jams that played during the Weather Channel’s local forecast segments throughout the 90s to this day fill me with a strange and primal sense of comfort, and reading some other reviews of Bubble Universe!, it seems I’m not alone. For me, the corny tunes eased my fears during what seemed like the impending end of the world, the chipper soundtrack to a repeating SuperDoppler radar animation of a hurricane on a direct path towards my hometown. Marcloid’s intricate compositions completely capture the sound and feel of those songs: the tinny rhythms, the cheezy synths, and – most dated of all – the unabashed optimism. Just as you let down your guard and begin to get into the intricate grooves, she’ll lay down some seriously smooth guitar stylings (T1, T4). As the tape plays on, it concerns itself with more than atmospheric conditions, blasting off into the cosmos. It’s impossible not to get down during “Classical Information” (T7) and don’t miss the sparkling mind-blower “Triangular Format (Feat. Fire-Toolz)” (T5), but it’s all brilliant – hit it.

HVAC – “Mentality” – [Self Produced]

lexi glass   9/4/2019   A Library, Cassette

2017 demo tape from this hardcore punk band from NYC. Seven short bursts of fury driven by absolutely vicious, bloodcurdling vox. Sarah, Tess, Carlos, and Anjelica threaten to melt the flesh of any capitalists, social climbers, rotten hypocrites, and cop callers in the vicinity, so get out of their fuckin way!

FCCs: T2, T3, T4, T6

Black Dog/Goddess Aphonic [coll] – [Monastic Discharge]

atavist   8/27/2019   A Library, Cassette

Black Dog: Filthy vocals, bass buzzes like malevolent electrical wire. Lo-fi production boosts the raw subversion. The mix favors the vocals over the instruments, so turn it up and have Gollum screaming in your ear.

Goddess Aphonic: the quest to meld heavy with saxophone continues. Driving, insistent rhythm section. Snarling bass. The sax carries the main melody with descents into the skronks and shrieks common when a sax is pushed into the red. The sax is maxed out in a way that you can feel the air rattling around the inside the brass. Occasionally, some strangled vocals are forced through the chamber.

Situational Plays [coll] – [No Rent Records]

lexi glass   8/13/2019   A Library, Cassette

Two contrasting noise situations on this 2019 split cassette from Nadia (Ashley Bennett of Portland, ME) and Apologist (Rose Actor-Engel of Philadelphia, who runs No Rent Records with partner Jason Crumer). On Side A, Nadia leads off with two tracks of concentrated rhythmic energy. Somewhere within “Predictions” (A1) lurks a dark, rustling beauty, but it’s impossible to grasp: a high-pitched tone sharpens into an icepick point, bores into the brain, and demands our total attention. Through “Absolute Zero” (A2), resonant waves furiously collapse into a single, massive point source. After the intensity of the A side, Apologist offers a measure of peace. “Carte Blanche” (B1) emits warm melodies, treated vocals – both solo and in chorus – and ringing bells, while “Concession” (B2) concludes with a quiet meditation of organ, chimes, and forest field recordings.

Howland, Amanda R. – “Spider, Milk, Batshit, Silence” – [No Rent Records]

lexi glass   8/6/2019   A Library, Cassette

Cleveland-based noise artist Amanda R. Howland weaves an elaborate web on this 2018 cassette from Philadelphia’s No Rent Records. On Side A, “Spider, Milk” opens with a bang and then settles, slowly extending silken strands that capture recordings of fluttering melodies or muffled voices, a slow build to a final violent struggle. On Side B, “Batshit, Silence” drops us back into the action, as hurried footsteps stride into a piercing feedback storm. Distorted signals howl through subarachnoid spaces before lurching into – as promised – a sudden silence.

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