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Music Reviews

Parashi – “Book of Nothing, The” – [Cave Recordings]

surferrosa   5/15/2013   A Library, Cassette

Sinister sound-scapes composed of (and this is my guess) analog electronics and tape manipulation of instrument based noise and human vocal sounds. This is certainly not harsh, but I wouldn’t call it pleasant..eerie in its nature, full of oscillations and open space. The music here is minimal in a way, but certainly not static, that is, these pieces move (even the longer ones) adding layers, tones and sound sources as each track progresses. Behold the beautiful hiss of magnetic tape..with all of its cracks and pop, sounds like wood burning in a fire. A constant ring will fool you into a hypochondriac’s tinnitus…hear the moans of mechanical whales singing to each other.. along with layered and processed sounds of human mummbles and yells on track 2, particularly towards the end. Tangled, desolate yet somehow heavenly… cracked and buzzing.. like the natural noise of an urban habitat which you struggle to place your finger on.. an ever present symphony of tones which you cannot escape. -Surfer Rosa

Business Etiquette – “S/t” – [Hardscrabble Amateurs]

abacus   4/10/2013   A Library, Cassette

Monastic machinations and metallic meditations from this mysterious project on small Oakland label. 6 mantras range from industrial hums and clicks to misty mountaintop drones. Cataclysmic reverence and peaceful apocalypse. Like the omnipresent whirr and buzz of our post-modern lives. Om

Antwon – “End of Earth” – [Ormolycka]

mann   4/10/2013   Cassette, Hip Hop

End of Earth is the first non-self-released full-length by Antwon, a local rapper from Sunnyvale, CA (even though all the blog write-ups say San Jose) who raps over post-punk progressive 80s worship pop party beats with a demented edge that side-step the concurrent “based” and “trap” genres of the area to truly represent the “Sick Sad World” party scene in Oakland that Antwon has been a fixture at for the last half-decade. The best example of his style is the track, Living Every Dream, which opens sampling Tom’s Diner on 10 rpm, think Suzanne Vega on quaaludes, and then bounces into a rhythm track more akin to Neneh Cherry or Snap (We Got The Power) than a rapper whose flow is that of multi-girlfriend-playerisms and heavy sexual content ala a west coast Notorious B.I.G. with a background in DIY hardcore (in 2009 before he started rapping professionally, Antwon was in the south Philly band Black Leather, and on his latest release In Dark Denim [which I’m hoping we also add] he has a track produced by B L A C K I E who hardcore folks like to refer to as the original Death Grips, so that’s the demented edge part I was talking about). Most of his lyrical content sounds like he spent his formative years watching the only two VHS tapes he had: Untamed Heart starring Chirstian Slater and Marissa Tomei and a fuzzy Anabolic interracial porn stolen from a dad, any dad. But, I cleaned up the whole album so have at it party people. Mann The General.

Stelzer, Howard – “Impossible Astronaut, The” – [NNA]

cinder   4/5/2013   A Library, Cassette

Two tracks from a cassette release. Howard Stelzer, from Mass., is a cassette nerd. He’s been creating and exploring his own tape music sounds for years, and has his own label, Intransitivere Recordings. These two tracks and pulsing, flailing, rumbling electronics, in a constant rotating cycle. Hissing and spitting, all while trapped in a glass cube. Noisy, yet controlled. More low-end rolls, and mid-tone mechanical gears than high-end whistles. Track 2 is more of a dark vibe, with skittering sounds, field recording style. Creaks and cracks, like a rat rustling around an old attic.

Stillsuit – “Stillsuit” – [Self Released]

surferrosa   2/26/2013   A Library, Cassette

Angry ladies out of Oakland, Ca making some killer noise rock with punk sensibilities. These chicks got some lungs on them. This is like a conversation where everyone (instruments and people too) is yelling or ranting. Lo-Fi, explosive and energetic…musical in the most non-musical of ways. Uncomfortable, abrasive pairings of sound keeping things just filthy enough while always falling into a rhythm you can bounce to in between spastic outbursts of sonic chaos. Howling feedback, lopsided riffage and relentless interplay. Noise moving backwards on #8. Nifty electronics on #9. These are the sounds of not giving a fuck. Makes me wanna elbow somebody. -Surfer Rosa

Conscious Summary – “Hurtful Lover” – [Self Release]

incognito   2/13/2013   A Library, Cassette

Lofi noise, feedback loops, digital bleeps and glitches on the first side of this self-released cassette EP. It sounds as if it may have been recorded live or on the fly, with what seems like a lot of manual modulation on tracks one and two. The second half begins a bit slower, a bit more detached and ambient, but returns to the style of the first half with modulated pitched frequencies, low-end digital tearing and oscillation. I’m not entirely sure this is available to the public, since it was given to Surfer Rosa at a show on a tastefully unmarked cassette, but fans of our noisier shows will certainly hear this in the coming weeks.

Pistol Disko – “2004-2011” – [Ormolycka]

Dianthus   2/9/2013   A Library, Cassette

Expect the unexpected when listening to this clever collection from the Swedish duo Pistol Disko. Carefully measured sequences of black racket, electronica, looping, psychedelia and goth can be found all throughout this hypnotic cassette. Experimentally rich and succulent inspiration are on tracks like “Pool” which elevates your mood and your cerebellum. Or transfer yourself back to some sweaty, chunked out synths on “IndieRave” or the shadowed “Grave Rave” and be prepared to dance. This will not ease your anticipation for what is to be heard on this fuzzed out , pulsing, spinning soundscape of metallic Oz. Noisy but mesmerizing, Pistol Disko will leave you lusting for more.

-Dianthus-

Altar Eagle – “If I Could Study The Future” – [Eggy]

Thurston Hunger   2/1/2013   A Library, Cassette

It’s one of those comic book crossover things, where Raf
at Eggy hosts the dynamic duo from Digitalis Industries. At
first I assumed it was just a recording by Brad Rose and Eden
Hemming, but online indicates it may be a mixtape? Not much
credit to the sources, it may just be the dabblings of B&E.
Each side runs about 15 mins continuously, with definite
“movements” if you will. Side two uses a great descending
spine-tingling loop (sample?) that reminds me of Marvin Gaye
meets Flowchart. In a cool parallel universe, this serves
trip-hop beats for a weirdo MC to rap over. Side A begins
with a soothing mantra M/F vocal…over a bubbling analog bath
of sounds…voices vanish after 2 mins. After 6.5 minutes in,
a drum machine takes a 5 minute walk through banks of synth.
At 12.5 in, a cool little stacked bass line emerges for frothy
guitar and backwardsian vox. Side B launches Peaking Lights-style
kraut-gaze, that get Tipsy around 4 mins, percolates for a bit,
reprises the opening two-chord float and add some sci-fi flair
around 9:30, vox humana floating like jellyfish in space,
keybubbles and a guitar power up before mantra-vox return saying
“In the crystal seas we’ll sing like the animals
In the trees we swing like we’re holding back everything we know
about why nothing grows”
Can I get an amen? If not, at least a strobe light?!

-Thurston Hunger

Lumerians – “Weaning and The Dreaming, The” – [Sanity Muffin]

jacksoil   1/16/2013   A Library, Cassette

Among many descriptors of the air sound at KFJC would be the over-used but apt, “Experimental”. As such it is appropriate to know the backstory of this cassette as it is truly experimental. First off, the Lumerians, an East Bay project that continues to gather velocity as the 20-teens progress veer off into some pretty tryppy territory here (not their “usual” structured psychedelic faire so to speak). Instead, someone got the brilliant idea to make a record immediately after spending time in an isolation flotation tank. A 4-track recorder was setup in the lobby of said establishment and the band members would soak for a while and then do their recordings. No edits (and they didn’t all record at the same time either – just a bit of tape flipping halfway through the whole process) which in turn causes the A Side and B Sides of the tapes to be mirror images of one another. Anyway, get that through your noggin or don’t and just enjoy the completely improvised post soak sounds of the Lumerians. In the end experimentation is the word and it is up to you to go forth and do the same. This limited edition cassette, put out by Oakland’s Sanity Muffin, was part of the merch table schwag of their Fall 2012 European jaunt.

Necrot – “Into The Labyrinth” – [Blood Divine]

abacus   1/9/2013   A Library, Cassette


Seething from the infernal underbelly of Oakland, Necrot brings us some classic old school death metal layered with grime and filth. Pummeling guitar/drums interplay go straight for the kill and hit hard in the gut, letting the vocals spit all over your mangled body. Crusty and crunchy in all the right places with the pleasantly acrid stench of putrefaction to curl your lip and turn your stomach.

Zerocrop – “On Tape” – [Tapeworm, The]

Thurston Hunger   12/6/2012   A Library, Cassette


2010 cassette fed to/by Britain’s ever intriguiing Tapeworm label.
Zerocrop is a London-based, one assumes closely shorn, gent
who goes by the name Parker. As with other Tapeworm releases,
the cassette medium serves as an inspiring touchstone besides
holding the songs. On the opener “Dear Jim” a found recording
(answering machine cassette?) works better than a seance at
bringing a deceased loved one back to mind and ear. Jim’s first
sample, “Hi guess who…” is simple and bittersweet. Parker’s lush
rhapsodizing about finding a tape of “your voice, your voice, your voice”
set’s up Jim’s few but cherished words. The synth pop may be a bit
treacly, but the?? sentiment here is just beautiful. Next up sounds like
somekind of cassette sample that Bob Ostertag might have found, is
the person being tortured, confessing. Or perhaps both, if that person
is indeed German? All over a stark sweep of synth half-chords. Next up,
a track that starts with the sound of a cassette bunching up over a head,
clever fun but the lyrics after a while “Rewind to a time when you’ll
feel fine, Fast Forward to a place where you feel safe” over a simple
metro synth beat blurs out a bit. On the flip side, a lengthy female
preacher fits in the pantheon of beats + the sermonizing rhythms.
She’s no Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Lap steel hovers by like a fallen angel.
Amen, but the story of a man (“Jim”) was more compelling.
-Thurston Hunger

 

Post-Materialists/Dva Zagorodnyh Doma split cassette – [Eggy]

abacus   11/28/2012   A Library, Cassette

While not the disheveled pop shenanigans from their last release, this is more dementia from this Moscow experimental noise group and some more from their Karelian neighbors. A split release with haunting dronescapes creeping out of a distant frozen ether. On Post-Materialists side chimes and choral echoes illuminate the watery landscape. Drunken circus melodies on synth wobble around with riddles of industrial clanging, stumbling about together to form some sort of music, a waltz almost, but consistently losing itself in the process. On side 2 things are a little more ominous, but without losing the trademark quirk. Sound blasts of ghostly whale sounds that reek of melted plastic narrate the alien synth intonations waxing and waning. Subterranean creatures writhe about in the murky depths of dark drone where celestial beauty can even be found in the slime. A very different release from these Muscovite muckrakers demonstrating their awesome versatility.

Mucky The Ducky – “Some People” – [Weird Forest Records]

surferrosa   11/20/2012   A Library, Cassette

This is a 27 minute piece originally coming from a split cassette release with Ava Mendoza and Nick Tamburro (Quit Your Unnatural Ways). We have the Mendoza/Tamurro side in the Library under A CD, so if you would like to hear the other half of this cassette its there for you. This music certainly goes somewhere.. or rather all over the place. It kicks off as a free improv noodle-fest. Sort of funky in a not that funky kind of way. Sounds like drums, bass and trumpet. As the piece progresses more instruments come in.. electric guitar, percussion, recorder, and some nonsense, babbling voice. At about 2:50 the electronics, drones and broken space sounds kick in as the incessant drumming marches on. Its got plunks and clinks, wiggles and wobbles.. a massive jam. About 11 minutes in, the drums drop out and things mellow out. Oscillating ambiance settles in, moving the piece into the realm of a sound-scape until the music thins out and melts away….delicious. -Surfer Rosa

Darto – “All Eyes” – [Self Released]

surferrosa   9/25/2012   A Library, Cassette

A trio of siblings from Seattle Washington, rockin’ away and kicking out the jams. This is Darto’s debut release, lo-fi, homemade, almost instrumental and full of raw hissing energy. Sounds like the music here was recorded live. Sparse, far away vocals are drowned out by the superfuzz. The music is thick. A subtle synthesizer comes and goes like the violent blowing of a rising wind as guitar/bass/drums pound out and roll away with the rocks. These three like to jam. Tracks have a slow burn, heavy handed sort of grit, Occasionally delving into odd meter and dropping in and out of massive freakout. The smoke rises, fogging up your glasses, in a room full of sleepy people swaying back and forth to the lull of feedback and the crunchy rhythm of overdrive. -Surfer Rosa

MRSA – “MRSA” – [S/r]

abacus   9/12/2012   A Library, Cassette

MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: a bacterium that causes infections often in the form of pimples, boils or pus, like an advanced form of staph. In this case, MRSA is some local powerviolence filth out of the streets of West Oakland. Foaming at the mouth with feral hatred towards life, themselves and everyone else, especially politicians, Chuck Norris, yuppies, crusties, cops and crackheads and especially the meaninglessness of our privileged first-world lives. Alejandra Grubs spits out vocals about everything from her shitty day to day to things that make life more bearable, like smoking weed and circle pits. There’s even a track about being vegan and??Old News is about Occupy! Tony Chunx throws down some pit smashing grind variations on drums while Marinda Pukey tears apart the bass in teeth grinding fury. Side B is three different live recordings, starting with the shittiest quality and getting gradually more listenable. No perceivable FCCs here but FCCs on tracks 1-3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19-21 (only perceivable on 5, 8, 10, 12, 16). Sock your friend in the face for his last cigarette and wake up broken-toothed behind a dumpster in piss-soaked jeans and a ripped t-shirt. ‘Twas a good night…

Winters In Osaka – “Back to The Grave” – [Nefarious Activities]

abacus   8/23/2012   A Library, Cassette

Part 2 of a collection of limited release CDr material and others from this industrial noise collective hailing from Chicago and parts of California. This cassette is packed full of material, with over 40 minutes on each side, including 2 CDr releases, exclusive live tracks, a short track off the Triskaidekaphobia comp split and a couple other pieces. Each CD contains one half of the cassette, with the first half tracking all the way through and the second split up into distinct tracks. The Secret Roads??relaease has more restrained experimentalism with lo-fi elex and minimal drum machine blips that almost sound like some 80s synth pop despite the raw, gritty aesthetic it embodies. It evolves into some raga meanderings that build in intensity. Side A moves through some noise and flogged and flanged intercom announcements into the live Noisefest track, some rabid ear rape. The Rise…Rise! release continues with the distant electronics distortion that sound like they’re recorded in an empty warehouse, or like your listen to the repeated bifurcation of a telephone cable through the receiver end. More of the megaphone maladies but they get a little more cartoonish this time, flopping around and dropping to 15 rpm. Some ritual guitar desecration and dragging of remains across a bathroom floor before we sit down for a destructive jam drinking drain-o. On the Slusher collab track we get undulating swirls of generator drone that builds like a looming storm. The final track is a sampling of the Orchids release, which we have, and gives us more intercom voices, this time intelligible, just in Japanese and French or something. A lot of different material, just fucking play it, cuz we’re all degenerates anyways.

Walking Corpses, The – “We, God’s Apes” – [3 Acre Floor Records]

surferrosa   8/21/2012   A Library, Cassette

This is the first ever release by The Walking Corpses, a Teenage Panzerkorps spin off, featuring members of this band as well as artists from the groups Death in June and Last Dominion Lost. The band is based in Berlin and is out on the newly resuscitated 3 Acre Floor record label. This cassette release has a warped and??wobbly??lo-fi sound. Old time, far away, telephone??receiver??vocals, often times consisting of some mysterious German speech (2, 4, 5, 6, 7) , are placed besides keyboard clinks and foggy static. Lonely drones and meandering melodies mesh with the noodling of various sounds.??Warbley,??weird and simple with ??that??unmistakable??tape hiss tickling your ears, inducing a sonic sneeze-Surfer Rosa

Woolen Men – “Woolen Men” – [Eggy]

Thurston Hunger   8/15/2012   A Library, Cassette


Right on, not only a new Woolen Men cassette but
they are coming to visit KFJC’s pit pronto
(escorted by Lame Drivers, so hope they arrive
in one piece heh-heh-ughhhhh sorry). I stand by
my earlier assessment of bass as the catalyst to
this exceptional pop action. Check out “Submission”
which will put a poster of Graham Maby up on yer
wall (and the lyrics rip too!) Paying Husker dues
and playing with duskier hues this time around,
but the Men still got sugarfied lo-fi on tracks like
“Head On The Ground” (am I hallucinating or is there
a farfisa in the room?) and “Magic Tricks.” Feeling
both jangle, and a Galaxie 500 parked outside on that
number. Plenty of fine harmonies, well crafted pop
but never overcooked! They smear “Mayonnaise” on the
suburbs on the catchy opener, and the closer kind
of feels like it could be a lost Nugget from decades
ago. Again super-striding bass, a hint of loneliness
on the verses, and then optimism on the choruses.
Overall a fine reckoning and tunes to toe tap to,
I invite the Woolen Men into KFJC’s house!

-Thurston Hunger

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