KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Miscreant – “T.N.S.T.” – [Self Release]

humana   9/21/2014   A Library, Cassette

When the Rat King gave me this CD to review, she warned me. Never mind that I listened to it right after Essie Jain. Maybe that’s the smartest way to do it. Talk about waking up to smell the coffee. This San Jose band describes their music as electronic industrial noise power. To me it sounds like screaming, and it sounds cathartic, and throbbing, and full of feedback, both musical and political in some way. They are upset. They won’t be silenced. And sooner or later, they will be heard.

Microdeform – “Aphelion” – [ZamZam Sounds]

Thurston Hunger   9/19/2014   A Library, Cassette


The name might connote a more mutated musical experiment,
or at least a shorter one. Here are two involved sidelong
pieces from Bristol’s Liam McConaghy; well, some breathing spots
of silence, and the cassette indicates 10 discreet tracks
with a progression from “Aphelion” to “Perihelion” so there
is a sense of direction and connectedness. And it does
start in darkness, whirry-pools of sound, loops chasing loops
and when vocals are dropped in via samples they fall through
a waterworld of echo. At 11:40 in, we hear “Set” repeated
perhaps to indicate the launch of the musical set, or to
invoke the Egyptian god, or a reference to the sun. Other
echo’d voices in German, feel like eavesdropping…impolite
ears for polite conversation? The reverb so strong, like
a drive-in theater at the back of your brain. Percussion
washes away, but the simple repetition of sound and an
occasional snap of live wire bring it back. 25:10 finds
definite silence, the first side is indeed largely dark
but gentle as rain you cannot see, some very slight
classical feel and occasional airtight vox humana patches.
It has the sort of pulse-wave of a loud bell sculpting
all of the sound. (A very long, gradual fade closes side A.)
Side B is more active as the SS Microdeform apparently
approaches the sun. McConaghy loves his pulsing loops,
acting as a rotary noise engine at the core with
Frippertonic and more fulminating guitar on top. Big
beams of synth redline in at times too, a calmer phase
with piano macrodeformed by reverb. Short sonic eclipse
at 25:14 on side B. Overall, a flowing dark ambient vibe,
akin to an abandoned spacecraft used as a cathedral. Or
perhaps a soundtrack on your shoulder while watching
Danny Boyle’s “Sunrise” -Thurston Hunger

Tapdown Dialectic – “^1” – [Furtherrecords]

Belladonna   9/10/2014   A Library, Cassette

I received this mysterious yet amazing cassette and had no idea what to expect. This is soft, muffled, hissing techno with cool echoing vocal samples (Burial-ish). Reminds me of Deepchord projects but is much more interesting. Really atmospheric and hushed minimal beats. Super love this!!

Black Thread – “Descending Heliotrope Shards” – [Chaos of The Stars]

humana   9/1/2014   A Library, Cassette

I need to describe how this sounds without any knowledge of the band itself, except that its label is Chaos of the Stars, which is fairly apt in describing the sound. There is chaos and drone, and electronic ambience that borders on noise at times, but there is also the prettiness and comfort hinted at by the mention of heliotrope, which has purple flowers. Just think of how these flowers would sound if they were descending as shards, and you’ve got the sound. Also, the third track starts out reminding me of sizzling bacon grease, but then I realize it’s more of a blipping electronic sound. Very interesting music indeed.

C T ASSAULTS / PRESENT [coll] – [Sanity Muffin]

abacus   8/27/2014   A Library, Cassette

 

split side-long cassette of LA avant-weirdo ceremonies. CT Assaults dish trash trance power silence, transcendental wave thrill billy, ronky stomp apocalypso. PResent, not the Belgian prog outfit but their twisted twins(?), evoke an orgiastic racket of psychoactive landscapes in the free-freak temple of dementia. from rumbling crumbling mountaintops to dank and hazy jungles. wildlife is rampant in the bush, and insects the size and shape of your cortex. hip trips

Xenotaph – “Vitae Iactura” – [Transylvanian Tapes]

Rat King   8/27/2014   A Library, Cassette

Vitae Iactura, meaning “waste of life”, is the primary release from black metal Hayward kids Xenotaph. So kvlt you can smell the corpsepaint, Xenotaph is a trio consisting of a drummer (G), a guitarist/vocalist (Z), and a guitarist/bassist/effectsperson (R). Our version of the cassette was put out by Transylvanian Tapes and recorded at Earhammer Studios, so it’s all local. This is cold, cold metal, very much influenced by all those troubled young men in Scandinavia (Darkthrone is a popular comparison). Tracks last between six and eight minutes, providing enough time to sink into them properly.

Instrumentations consists largely of guitar riffs and blast-beats, but there are also many slow, creepy portions to bring on the despair. ‘Violation’ has particularly infectious drumming, and the guitars take on an interesting, almost Eastern-European folk quality at times while retaining the metal character. Vocals are sometimes moaned, sometimes growled, sometimes barked, and always raspy and hoarse. Lyrical themes include not limiting oneself by bending to the will of society, blasphemous rituals, and avenging animal rage.

‘Descending’ is an instrumental, effects-heavy soundscape. The trees. The wind. The crunching of snow beneath your feet, the sound of shadows as they stretch bare branches into dark claws that reach slowly across the blue-and-white ground. It’s all there, it’s eerie, and it’s beautiful. Follow the voices.

Connoisseur – “Stoner Justice” – [Tank Crimes]

mickeyslim   8/27/2014   A Library, Cassette

New release from Oakland-based stoner punks. Six tracks on this single-sided green cassette, and it’s all over too fast. Great dirty tracks about smoking pot, smoking pot, and Oakland being a mecca for smoking pot. Sometimes the vocals are screamed, sometimes a nice low growl, all backed by head-smashing, rusty punk. My favorite is the story of the “Full Blown Marijuana Addict.” Watch for FCCs.

Put this in yer pipe and watch it buuuuurn….

Giorgio Corroder – “Pomp Sluice” – [Limbsoup Tapes]

abacus   8/21/2014   A Library, Cassette

slice and dice pop tops vandal(voyeur)ism from Oakland local on little label Limbsoup. brain bent/burnt/burped irritatingly impossible loop sequences decompose, crumble and melt in skipping stagnance (gratuitously poor taste sampling makes it all the more painful-pleasing) hip hop chopping monotonous migraine moans of circus circuitry swirling down the drain. headphones recommended for maximum eye bulge.

Dusa – “Dusa” – [Turmeric Magnitudes]

Thurston Hunger   8/20/2014   A Library, Cassette


Swedish gent, Daniel Jonsson, with a two-track foreboding
cassette of overlapping loops. Side A launches with a
super down-tempo vibe and a fly in the tape ointment,
it moves in the murky “between world” (between life and death
or maybe between David Lynch and Scooby Doo?) Things prick
up a little around 4:30 in, as sampled violins are drawn
like crossbows eventually we find ourselves in some
cult cave with sampled men chanting, before we return
to the sample that launched this track. Who doesn’t love
an ouroboros? Side B, like side A is just shy of 10
minutes with samples worked overlapped as short movements,
usually lasting 1.5 to 2 minutes or so. Thought I heard one
loop from Jarboe? B-side has some more martial movements
starting around 2.5 minutes in (Eisenstein soundtrack
march?) This time when the violins are brought in, they
chase their tails like rabid dogs. And the voice at
the end of the tape tunnel is not an apocalyptic mens
chorus, but a whisper of a siren’s song. Very enjoyable,
the short samples keep attention on alert, fine work in
the vein of David Shea, Kreng and other sound colliders.

-Thurston Hunger

Brutal Sound FX Compilation and Exhibition of Strange Facts [coll] – [Enterruption]

abacus   7/14/2014   A Library, Cassette

elephantinnitic trunkload of chunky Gruxables; delectable Blobettes of the dilapidated dementia the BayArea does best. psychosomatic lost and found Frangler sound sampling flying circus of Crime ridden casio Watusi bossa vs Bbramblebeet Anti-Earwicking and Critical Radio Blotz of explosions Only Dogs Can Hear. collection of lethal and non-lethal noise neuroses that deserve a place In homes all over the world. slobbering beat tramping trumpet tribble and drums and sax like Bart Bells to the face. swamp pop and roll baby im burnt.

Nerfbau – “Dr. Meniere’s Sideshow” – [Ratskin Records]

abacus   7/7/2014   A Library, Cassette

surrealist fanfares for the terminally infringed. freakish inner-ear disorientation itch-scapes of auditory oddities; dystopic sound collage of pulsating, gyrating, asphyxiating scrapes, screams, blisters and bleeps. thought-jamming extradimensional terraforming of hallucinatory somnambulism. subconscious dredging of memory, dreams and accumulations of collective unreality. techno-cultural apocalypse at its best.

Riggs, Richard – “Society For The Lost” – [Skrot Up]

Thurston Hunger   6/6/2014   A Library, Cassette


London sound shaper, has a few cassettes out on the
Drone Warfare label, this one for Skrot Up definitely
delivers a sense of foreboding. Noisy electronics are
well-harnessed, there’s definitely a sense of composition
from the lead-off track with a sort of hailing frequency
over a fast bass distored note. Reminiscent of early
Pan Sonic, other electronic daemons whistle around that
bottom and after 5 minutes a free jazz sample starts
simmering in the shadows. Next up “Lust” with a open
robot ohhhh to start, electronics slide in and a
ghost pianist. Again a shifty feeling, a diseased drone
with some more forceful passages eventually gives rise
to a slowed down excerpt from the film “‘Tis Pity She’s
a Whore” and a tRampling of dialog between sibling lovers.
On this, and really all four tracks Riggs reminds me of
another RR, Robin Rimbaud, and his electronically
enhanced eavesdropping. Next up, great round deep
rolls of sound, with squelchy toppings. Move like
the ocean beneath you. Coil fans might dig. Is the TV
on? Are we watching a game show or third world coup?
At last the title track, something about the elements
of pure power drone, but flecked and flawed by much other
harsher sounds, it all leads to a gentle creepiness.
Wait for the false ending and then crescendo piercing!
Mysterious and rewarding.
-Thurston Hunger

Q///Q – “Azores Azul” – [Skrot Up]

Thurston Hunger   6/6/2014   A Library, Cassette


Evidently pronounced “Q Q”, part of the ever-busy
life connecting this project, the mighty Merx and
German Army. All three have had recent issues on
Skrot Up alone, in addition “Peter Kris” under other
names runs the Kill Shaman label, made your
breakfast yesterday, is a schoolteacher, and
serves as the alternate ambassador to Luxembourg.
While this sounds like a one-man and his machines
bedroom project, apparently there are three
members, but maybe GT and Quinn are just more
nommes du laptop for “Peter.” The music is
less mysterious, the past two years there’s been
a lot of keyboard-driven indie sounds, mostly
instrumental, analog but not so icy as the minimal
wave revival/redux. Sometimes I refer to them as
the “sons of Kitaro” but that’s just because I’m
old more than a hint of new age happiness bliss
from the banks of synths I think? This is a short
cassette, 5 songs repeated on each side. Very
round sounding tones and drum machines, I like
#3 “Inuit Nature” which features some confessional
vox that might be in spanish as opposed to native
Alaskan. Like a lot of Skrot Up releases, the
more I listen to this, the more I find (so maybe
there really are three members!) Songs are short
#4 does that phase filter squeeze, #5 has a more
cavernous live aire, with both artic and tropical
feels at times. Bipolar Bears in bikinis? Some ears
may play spot the gear on these cuts, I just dug
’em as little artifical worlds.
-Thurston Hunger

LZR – “)))o(((” – [Skrot Up]

Naysayer   5/7/2014   A Library, Cassette

Lzr (pronounced Lazer) is Johnny Lzr from Detroit. experimental film and video artist, co-founder of experimental punk band Human Eye, electronic musician: this is what can be found out about Lzr. His Skrot Up cassette release )))o((( is ten tracks of elctronic beats and soundscapes, familiar and soothing yet with a 2013 twist. There are beats reminiscent of Cabaret Voltaire. There is static of a lighter sort via Throbbing Gristle. Early dance beats. Floating electronic background noise. Scratchy electricity sounds with found text recordings. The tag lines for the cassette say “alternative experimental detroit electricity electronic punk rhythmic noise throbbing pulser Copenhagen.” I couldn’t agree more. Listen up.
Oh, and at the bottom of the cassette in very small lettering is the note “Lzr thanks: The Detroit Transhuman Society”. Can’t find info on them but transhumanism is “an international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.” Think Robocop.
Now listen up.

Rohit – “Judge” – [Blud Auk Tapes]

abacus   4/30/2014   A Library, Cassette

Grimy noise obsessed crust-violence from this group of Portland pummelers. They’ve taken the most basic tropes of all different varieties of metal and punk and plummeted them to the deepest depths of aesthetic desolation. This single take recording (press limited to 50) showcases the raw, primal output of these beasts with episodes of epileptic feedback fits in between. While the title track brings creeping decrepitude other tracks explode into gnashing, gnarling nastiness, all narrated by a hoarse hawg howling that smells of some Gore-ish grunts. Sometimes the guitars fall over the ledge in swirling black cult invocations, other times you get some classic 1-2 punk punch, but all provide the very worst in nihilism and misanthropia. Let it be said that the only hardcore dancing you’ll be doing to this is dead on the floor.

Black Thread – “Fragrant Hoof Carvings” – [Turmeric Magnitudes]

abacus   4/24/2014   A Library, Cassette

Ambient tape minimalism from label leader Greg Gorlen out of San Francisco. Lo-fi drone loops swaying in windy hiss, the title track seemingly heat warped, spliced and bloated, broken yet serene. The A-side track is thick and inky indeed, but with lights playing tricks in the shadows, like rowing out to solitary sea on a crescent moonlit night or lost in a labyrinth of tall grass on the edge of town. On the closing lullaby we’re back in our rowboat at rainy twilight counting stars as we drift in and out of consciousness. Small sounds, fuzzy sounds, contemplative sounds.

Little Debbie – “Little Debbie” – [Skrot Up]

Thurston Hunger   4/23/2014   A Library, Cassette

Little Debbie, perhaps the child of a troll and a woman who only
wore her Joy Division t-shirt during pregnancy? Little Debbie
apparently was born as Sergey Yashenko, living in SF recently
till things headed south (LA). This Debbie is not connected to
an old 90’s band (we have their “Thank You for My Vitamin” 7″) or
any name-brand tasty treats. Hmmm, well maybe the lead-off
track is inspired by a snack cake, or is it a sex act? One-man
band action, with dingy drum machine and often a heavy bass
line, “Hypnotized” has a Sleep aura replacing the mantra vibe
with a more manic one. Still a nice middle-eastern digging
riff and vocals intoned through some effects. The instrumental
part gets summoned back after a near-death experience. Those
effected vocals, organically tweaked in the sinus and run through
reverb and other compression, often provide a haunting aspect.
Especially on “Halloween” which features some tingling
guitar and other tiny chiming sounds. “On Hungry Greedy” the
voice moves from the sinus to the gut, it almost sounds like
singing coming out of the garbage disposal. Again bass maps
the music on that track and most of the others. A sort of suffocation
of sound…but there’s something oddly catchy about the basslines
in the thickened mix. Intriguing stuff, and looks like Cochon
is issuing some of these on vinyl, but Skrot Up likes it raw
(even online digital versions sound like they are covered in cassette
murk and snack cake wrappers.) Yum.

-Thurston Hunger

Ilth Zongz – “Thee Elephant Mensch” – [Skrot Up]

abacus   4/16/2014   A Library, Cassette

Christopher Ilth of Chicago brings two side-longs of tape collage with loops of detuned upright piano fed through fx pedals, reel-to-reel and 4-track. Side-longs is deceptive, actually, as there are breaks throughout (side 1 – 1:55, 8:45, 12:25 and 19:00 / side 2 – 9:20 and about 20 seconds of silence around 16:50). Also the last piece of side 1 seems to carry over to the beginning of side 2 like that piece was cut in the middle of the cassette break. All very confusing actually, but it goes well with the fractured and looped sound pieces restrung together into clackety factory rhythms and heavy aqueous drones all peppered with tribal drumming and bullroarer voice echoes. Entrancing repetition evoked in a rhythmic sense on side 1 but on side 2 delving deeper with full drawn out tones and a swaying pulse, also much bass heavier, resonating your chest cavity with sewer reverberations and ocean mist organ meditations. Apparently Thee Elephant Mensch mask has since gone missing and was last seen on a stranger on a passing bus. I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!

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