Music Reviews

Hermanos Gutierrez – “El Bueno Y El Malo” – [Easy Eye Sound]

Albion Moonlight   1/29/2023   A Library, CD

Guitar duo Hermanos Gutierrez, brothers Estevan and Alejandro are Ecuadoran-born musicians who reside in Zurich, Switzerland. These 10 instrumental tracks are rooted in Western (‘the old west’) and Latin American music traditions. In an NPR interview, they stated that they are heavily influenced by movie film scores, hence the release’s title. What results are beautifully haunting compositions featuring electric guitars and sparse percussion, with lots of reverb and sustain; surf music of the Pampas perhaps?

This release was recorded in Nashville and produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Highly recommended. Take a journey with the brothers to unimagined tonal vistas both familiar, strange, and melancholy.

Acid Twilight – “Mustang Zodiac” – [Not Not Fun]

karma   1/26/2023   A Library, CD

Second release by Buenos Aires-based modal psychedelia entity. Meandering instrumental tracks which feature a combination of electronic synth and a variety of acoustic instruments. The marimba on track one in particular has an earthy feel. Listening to Mustang Zodiac is reminiscent of a days-long train journey through slowly yet dramatically changing landscape. The album takes a while to build steam, and the message it sends is most visible after repeated listening.

“I want this music to invite the listener to contemplate the curves, cliffs, peaceful valleys, and quiet lagoons, the nights through the desert in the light of the full moon, the early mornings through immense sand dunes of imaginary sea coasts. The fire, the flow of water in the river. It’s a séance and a ceremony. Mustang Zodiac is a journey to rediscover our external world and our inner nature, a dialogue between being and environment. It is a commitment to the technological and the telluric, a hybrid of the Fourth World and electronic primitivism.”

-Acid Twilight

Mo*Te – “Regulate Body Temperature” – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   1/26/2023   A Library, CD

Strange washes of mid-weight noise with distorted child-like melodies.

A child is playing alone quietly in the dayroom as the sun from the window stretches in oblique angles over the wall and floor, suddenly the air expands, making the windows flex gently as the crayon drawings taped to the colorful, muralled walls flutter and then fall to the carpet ornamented by friendly fish… our little one has discovered the gift of telekinesis and the blocks they were playing with begin to spiral into the air in a helical anomaly. Life will never be the same.

MO*TE is one  Fumiyuki Nagura of Saitama. Solo noise artist with at least 41 releases stretching back to 1995 and who was inactive from 2000 to 2009.
Japan – 2022

Schurer* ^ Steinbruchel* – “Falte” – [Non Visual Objects]

whngr   1/26/2023   A Library, CD

European High Art

Mostly somber abstractions constructed using the exquisite corpse method. I do something without you, you do something without me, and when we connect them it must be divine providence. Bells, chimes, drones, and hums, digital burbs, purrs, and equilibrium disrupting chords on these minimalist compositions intended tor an installation in 2006 at the Kunsthaus Zurich with a four channel visual accompaniment by Yves Netzhammer that we all most likely missed. These tracks might pair well with artisanal French pressed coffee and the rain on a quiet afternoon, inside with a cat and some light reading or possibly a dream of being pressed lightly inside a quiet French cat after noon in the rain.

Schurer* is one Brend Schurer, electro-acoustic, computer music composer, conceptual sound, performance, and installation artist (oh brother… you get an eye roll for that cv off from soundcloud) and Steinbrüchel* is German musician and graphic designer Ralph Steinbrüchel, both of whom reside in:

Zurich – 2007

Savana Funk – “Ghibli” – [Garrincha Gogo]

aarbor   1/25/2023   A Library, CD

Savana Funk is Aldo from Italy, Blake from the UK, and Youssef from Morocco. They met Italy in 2015. By 2018 they were Savana Funk. A mixture of African music, funk, blues, psychedelic rock and jazz influences run throughout their music. My favorite tracks are: 3,4,6,8,1,7,9 AArbor

Rodriguez, Silvio – “1968/1970 “Al Final de este Viaje…”” – [Fonomusic]

karma   1/11/2023   CD, International

1978 release by Cuban folksinger Silvio Rodriguez. Rodriguez is widely considered the leader of the Nueva Trova movement, which is Cuban folk music with social and political commentary. Rodriguez includes songs in tribute to political figures such as Che Guevara and Abel Santamaria. He also comments on the artist’s relationship to art, and the state of modern media. Lastly, he makes time on this album for songs about love and the passage of time (which he seemed oddly concerned about for someone in his 20s). Many of the tracks on this album are classics, and Rodriguez continues to record to this day.

Movements vol. 11 [coll] – [Tramp Records]

aarbor   12/30/2022   CD, Soul

Movements is a series compiled by Tobias Kirmeyer of Tramp Records in Germany. This is the newest release in the series and it’s just as fresh as its 10 predecessors. The series covers a wide spectrum of genres: early R&B, Soul Jazz, Latin Soul, James Brown style Funk and mid 70’s pre-disco. The tracks are in chronological order. The notes are well researched and give you background on each track and the people who contributed. All the tracks are worth playing. My favorites: 4, 11, 13, 14, 17. AArbor

Xibalba Itzaes – “Ah Dzam Poop Ek” – [Guttural Records]

whngr   12/22/2022   A Library, CD

Mayan Black Massacre

Raw Seminal first LP from early black metal project Xibalba Itzaes (now just Xibalba) out of Mexico (not to be mistaken for the California hardcore/beatdown group of the same name and slightly similar logo). A two-piece, low-fidelity expulsion of rage, terror, and malice with themes around the brutality of the Mayan pantheon and exploration of a culture rife with human sacrifice. Xibalba roughly translates to “Place of fear” and represents the name of Mayan the underworld. Includes traditional indigenous instrumentation like rattles and flutes like, “Garchah” (Disc 1 – track 4), “Sac Ibteeloob Cab” (Disk 2 – track (5), and “Bolontiku Vahoom (Disc 1 – track 7)” which also has some ambient avian sounds. Cvlt, cold, and grim, these lads were on the crest of the 2nd wave from the New World and are perhaps the first trve black metal projects to come from south of the border.

Xibalba are brothers, Marco Ek Balam (vox, guitars, lyrics, songwriting) and Jorge Ah Ektenel (drums, lyrics, songwriting) who have both continued the tribal war malignance until the present day (despite a few hiatuses) though they have had a bass player (also their brother) since 1992, he is not credited on this re-release, however, he most likely did perform on the second disc,”Live from Delorean Sanctuary” which was recorded in 2017 and is extra muddy and gross.

Mexico City -1994

Costa, Gal – “Fa-Tal Gal A Todo Vapor” – [Universal Records]

carsonstreet   12/19/2022   CD, International

A Todo Vapor (Portuguese for At Full Steam) is a fascinating live recording of Gal Costa from the early ’70s where she proved to be as exciting and diverse on-stage as she was in the studio. The first seven tracks feature Costa alone, accompanied by her acoustic guitar. These performances are dramatic, intimate, precise, emotional, and stunningly clear. These tracks display her voice perfectly, pushing up front Costa’s incredibly strong pipes with the urgent beauty one can only obtain from a live performance. The real treat comes in about halfway through the eight-minute epic, “Vapor Barato,” when her band joins in and turns the slow, intimate descending progression into a scorching lament with Costa wailing over the top. This intensity and incredible form continue throughout the rest of the recording; the band is tight, progressive, experimental and dynamic. Good quality recording with some poor editing between songs. If you want to hear more of Gal check out Gal (1969) in the international CDs and listen to her go totally psychedelic.

Organisation – “Tone Float” – [Inner Space]

carsonstreet   12/19/2022   A Library, CD

Tone Float is the only LP by the German band Organisation was a predecessor to Kraftwerk, which was formed by two members of the band (Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleben) after the album’s release. Of the album’s recording Hütter would later say: “The studio was in the middle of an oil refinery. When we came out of the door we could hear the sound of those big flames burning off the fumes – all kinds of industrial noises.” Sales were poor and RCA opted to drop the band, which then dissolved.  This CD includes a bonus track titled “Vor dem blauen Bock” which in fact is an instrumental track recorded at a May 1971 performance by Kraftwerk on the Bremen Beat-Club TV show. This song features the short-lived line-up of Florian Schneider, Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger (Ralf Hütter had left the group during this period to study architecture). Rother and Dinger left Kraftwerk shortly afterwards to form Neu!.  

Midnight Dunes – “Midnight Dunes” – [Self Released]

karma   12/17/2022   A Library, CD

“I like to pull from a bunch of different styles to create a unique vibe for the listener. Keep ‘em guessing by doing away with traditional arrangements and textures. Hop on a cosmic dingy and enjoy the ride.”

-Robert Fosco, aka Midnight Dunes. He makes his fantastic beats out of Neptune, NJ. The base is excellent lo-fi hip-hop, featuring sonic toppings from the lady who tells you to enter your voicemail password on your phone, Cold War nuclear films, and what sounds like fingerpicked guitar. This is a fun album that pairs well with a lot of different genres and types of sets.

Black Ox Orkestar – “Everything Returns” – [Self-release]

Brian Damage   12/15/2022   A Library, CD

As much as this radio station seems to hate getting the band back together, here’s one that works just as well as before, and perhaps more so.

Black Ox Orkestar is a Montreal-based quartet who perform a modern spin on Jewish diasporic music utilizing traditional acoustic instruments. All are members of other bands, or are solo artists in their own right (Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Land of Kush, Sackville, etc.) and formed in 2000 to play what was essentially their spin on their grandparent’s music. Disbanding in 2006 after two albums, they recently reconvened and recorded this magnificent record, recorded with vocals in Yiddish and English. Themes are timely and politically charged: nationalism, fascism, refugees, anarchism, despair, optimism, community, tradition, innovation. It simultaneously despairs and uplifts. It’s dark, but it’s looking for the light.

Both Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave would be equally proud of Black Ox Orkestar.

Damage gives this a big yes.

Dangerous Chairs – “Introducing Dangerous Chairs” – [Self-release]

Brian Damage   12/15/2022   A Library, CD

Chicago’s Dangerous Chairs describe themselves as “dark rock with exposed punk roots.” One listen to the quintet’s ragged guitars tells you that they’re from Chicago. But they’re slippery – one minute, I hear Bob Mould influences, the next minute it’s ALL; hey, is that an echo of Slint that just flew past?

Definitely an act honed and focused on live gigs, the songs and performances mostly hit the mark. Solid songwriting and arrangement, fine musicianship, and a varied approach to rocking like a hurricane lead to high points like “Jeweler’s Lens” and “Rooftops.” Lows are limited to the songs “Plenty of Room,” which seems to be written and recorded by another band entirely, the I-think-it’s-supposed-to-be-positive-and-inspirational “Follow My Lantern”, and the majority of the backing vocals, which seem well-intentioned enough, but Dangerous Chairs are not the Beach Boys, and they should stay out of that sandbox.

Introducing Dangerous Chairs would work better as a ten-song record, but it’s a solid and rocking first effort, and well worth a listen.

RedGreenBlue – “The End and the Beginning” – [Astral Spirits]

Thurston Hunger   12/6/2022   CD, Jazz

Note for the Goodwrench DJ Review send two KFJC boxtops to the station…

You could start at the Beginning, side A listen for a few minutes to the upright bass question mark, over organ drone and gong/rim-shot/tap of drums, and take a guess where they are from. The land of Art Ensemble, of Underground Duo/Quartet/Orchestra Something about Chicago that produces the slinkiest, suavest grooves. This album feels like a separated at birth twin to Joshua Abrams’ “Represencing” – mystical winds blowing in off the Lake? Charlie Kirchen’s bass leads the meditation, Ryan Packard’s percussion is aquatic, but keep an ear on Paul Giallorenzo’s keys which hit your BuddhaMachine right on the third eye towards the end of this side long piece. Or perhaps start on the flip side with “The End” where Kirchen is more insistent, but still a man making a bass statement. His mates are joined by Ben LaMar Gay who percolates on his cornet for 10 or so minutes before Giallorenzo’s organ shimmers in for a calming respite. The quartet spends some time in a darker place before rising radiance before a solemn end to “The End.”
-Thurston Hunger
PS Hah, looking up Ben, he’s connected to the Natural Information Society helmed by Abrams. Chicago improv scene a small world with big sound!

Mazzy, Jimmy / Newberger, Eli – “Shake It Down” – [Stomp Off Records]

karma   12/4/2022   CD, Jazz

1996 release. Jimmy Mazzy and Eli Newberger are traditional jazz musicians. Unlike classic jazz (which is different than traditional jazz), this album features banjo (Mazzy) and tuba (Newberger). The goal of the album was to record jazz and traditional pop standards in the country blues style. The result is accessible without being pedestrian; tributary without being derivative. Though innovative with its choice of instrumentation, the album is old-school, good-time jazz. In an era where it seems like everything is rapidly changing and change occurs for the sake of change, it is nice to have some things just like they used to be.

Gobeil, Gilles – “Les Lointains” – [Empreintes Digitales]

cinder   12/2/2022   A Library, CD

Uncomfortable listening from Québecian Gilles Gobeil. A cacophony of field recordings and found sounds. You’re a fly on the wall in someone’s home, a factory, car warehouse… bursts of intricate sounds tickle your inner ear, while you wildly imagine what the hell is going on. Layered foggy synths and sounds accompany, but the game of figuring out what you’re hearing is key. A fine musique concrète experience.

Niton – “Cemento 3D” – [Pulver Und Asche]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2022   A Library, CD

From musique concrete to prog cemento? Niton is a three piece (we have their “Tiresias” also at KFJC), in the center is Swiss cellist Zeno Gabaglio – his bow/scrape done on an electic instrument, joined by Italian soundscapers Luca Xelius Martegani and El Toxyque (who apparently performs and bathes in a beautiful blue and silver helmet). This is a remixing of their 2021 Cemento, re-poured through samples, filters and odd audio processors. In 3D! Gabaglio’s e-cello serves as fiber for each piece, “Asmant” & “Maas” have pulses added for percussion. I was trying to listen to some of the original Cemento and at times had both that and this playing (worked as a form of “Mixed Cemento”?). The recordings are atmospheric enough, but more active than drone. Kind of a Cluster booster. Electro-acoustic sound clashing too at times, I don’t think those are synthetic chains scraping sepulchral. Other samples and/or voices are spliced in as well. “Baylanis” holds a portal for our myriad metal-heads. The cello groans, electronics wince. Zeno’s conscience elevates this album, gorgeous sharp slices on “Shuini” w/ some astral vox and perhaps found flute. Track titles are not Magma-fied, but instead translate to cement through-out the world. This really grew on me, and comes with a clever flexi we will also add.
-Thurston Hunger

Onodera, Yui and Celer – “Generic City” – [Two Acorns]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2022   A Library, CD

Natural squonk to start, a flock of feathers lays down in a bed of synth drone. That is the recipe here a blend of found sounds and ambient tones, for this 2010 release. Celer these days is Will Long operating alone out of Tokyo, where collaborator Yui Onodera runs the Critical Path. They are joined on this by sounds and images echoes of Danielle Baquet-Long (once Celer dweller and partner of Will) who sadly died in 2009. The blend of who-provides-what is hard to separate, the generated sounds often a halcyon tonic to the samples (loose notion of air, from the opening flock to a Calgary boarding call for a jet?). Or maybe with the album’s name and Dani’s photo (city all in silhouette, the space surrounding emphasized over buildings and people) maybe that is a theme? Yui adds some excellent guitar sputter on #3, and don’t miss the chant (Shingon?) ascends towards the end of #4 before disappearing into a pure electronic drone.

-Thurston Hunger

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