KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Evans, Jessie -Heartwave – [Fantomette]

Thee Opinataur   6/9/2021   A Library, CD

Jessie Evans has a history in the Bay Area, where she was part of the synth goth band Subtonix in the early 2000s. After relocating to Berlin for a few years, she now calls Brazil home. Released in 2019, this is her third solo album. It’s reflective of her experience in her new life in San Paolo. Her lyrical verse is the star of this album, a deep, introspective, and heartfelt message to the world with an empathy for people around her, and authentic selflessness. 

Synth-Pop beats are the dominant platform throughout most of this album, with Machines, Cello, flute, guitar subtly mixed in. Known by many for her Sax play, she is thoughtful and particular when and where to incorporate. When she does play it, it’s understated with a soulful, sexy, and dream-like affection. Her voice is a mature, vampy, sultry, smokey experience. It can be hypnotizing to get distracted at times listening to the addictive poppy beats, but do try and separate and just listen to the extraordinary straight to your heart and soul lyrics. 

The opening track ‘Chariot’ is a shimmering potent synth-pop frenzy with a catchy chorus, but listen closely to the lyrics ‘While your cities falling, your government is balling’ is just a taste of this prayer. 

I couldn’t help but smile listening to her love song duet with her little girl Elladina in ‘Hold Onto Me’ You can feel, hear and experience her deep affection for her with every word she sings. 

The more I paid attention to her heart, the more I fell in love with her. 

Thee Opinataur

Zimpala – Almaviva – [Lacerba]

Thee Opinataur   6/9/2021   A Library, CD

Released in 2001, Almaviva was the first album from the collective out of Bordeaux, France known as Zimpala. Directing and producing this group of DJs, electronic and acoustic musical artists, and vocalists is French DJ and producer DJ BNX. Is it downbeat, house minimal, broken beat, Nu Jazz, lounge electronic? Why yes, yes it is; all of that and then some others sprinkled in. This is a pretty interesting and cool collaboration mixing in acoustic as well as electric instruments with their house tunes.  

 Things kick off with ‘To the Bass’, it takes you to the beach with a chill, bossa lounge experience to start things off. However, from there, things pick up beat-wise for a while until ‘Come Back’ cools things down. From that point on it’s an exotic mix of world fusion dance, erotic soulful vocals, and chill club music with a perfect tune, ‘New Home‘ to close this album out. All in all a nice groovy lounge trip. 

Thee Opinataur

Lake Oliver,Tchicai John, Osgood Kresten, Westergaard Jonas -Lake | Tchicai | Osgood | Westergaard – [Passing Thru Records]

Thee Opinataur   6/9/2021   CD, Jazz

Oliver Lake [Black Artists Group, World Saxophone Quartet] has collaborated with many of the jazz greats of the past 4+ decades. Recorded in 2003 in Copenhagen, Oliver Lake, Alto Sax, completed a tour of Denmark with Danish tenor saxophonist John Tchicai, drummer Kresten Osgood and bassist Jonas Westergaard. They immediately went into the studio afterward, the product of which is this release on Lake’s Passin’ Thru record label. All four artists contributed compositions to this album. Heavily steeped in swing with a vast amount of improvisation, and a bit of poetry and chanting mixed in on tracks 5 & 7 respectively.

To the ears, this recording feels like you are actually situated in a small intimate live space, not a studio, which is a great treat for the listener. Lake and Tchicai take turns leading us on several journeys throughout with timely phrasing and great energy. The youngest of this group, Kresten Osgood to me is the unsung star, his understated timing, and control to keep this quartet loose, free, and yet playing together as one is a thing of beauty. 

This album is such an engaging and pleasant experience. Its warmth will tickle that sweet spot in your body and brain and yet not let you get too comfortable as it insists on opening your mind and spirit to new places not yet experienced. 

Thee Opinataur

Meridian Brothers – "Salvadora Robot" – [Soundway Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/8/2021   CD, International

Yo por mi parte abrazo a nuestros señores robots. As long as Eblis Alvarez is involved in the not-so-artificial intel-y-gente. His crafty processed guitar feels like a Martian tickle to the ear. Weird enough for feet at the disco and in the mosh pit, splendid one-man mad scientist work, on several songs Eblis’ breaks into maniacal laughter in his Isaac Newton studio laboratory (a full band assembles for live gigs).

I like to pretend the first song is a reference to legendary SF band “The Residents” – it’s not, but both projects share a recognizable base masked behind strange sonic costumes. I think it’s his guitar mimicking a clarinet, but I don’t know. It’s all so lovingly tweaked. All songs have swift percolation, and party of percussion, while here Mr. Roboto es de Bogota, his tunes would put some carne on the skeleton bones in a Brazilian Carneval. The drums aren’t digital, but there are plenty of other synthetic waves at play. There’s more dancing arpeggios over staircases of sound than in an old Fred Astaire movie. There should be a full album cartoon video with Daffy Duck dance steps. Kinda wonder if Eblis’ Mom listened to
Raymond Scott during her pregnancy.

Enough reverb applied to make a surf fan weep, in Spanish. But they are tears of joy, this is one festive album and project. All tracks are fabuloso but “Un Príncipe Miserable y Malvado” wears the crown for me. Eblis is a master guitarist via computer wrangler, really look forward to seeing him play, maybe in KFJC’s pit in the future.

-Thurston Hunger

La Locura De Machuca [coll] – [Analog Africa]

Thurston Hunger   6/8/2021   CD, International

Flight/release #30 for commander Samy Ben Redjeb and the Analog Africa airlines destination Columbia and the late 1970’s. Gleaning craziness from an old label run by Dr. Machuca (check the fine liners for details), who dumped his day job for the love of discos and an Afro-Columbian groove best captured raw in a take or two at most. Apparently “Tucutru” was a bit of a hit sort of a tone poem that takes three steps up and three steps down. Like that song, this album never stops moving. Some instros, like “El Campenero” and “Wabali” which cooks like a happy day outside at the barbecue. Female singers saunter in “Caracol” which gets pretty tropicalia, on “Te Clavo La…Mano” there’s a siren whispering sweet nadas and on “A Otro Perro” a woman sorta yodels ole. Otherwise there’s plenty of men and geetars, thin and gritty. Some double-lead lines, check out the opener which has a kinda Tom Ze itch to scratch. The other Samba Negra track, “Long Live Africa” may be a nod to Ikenga Super Stars but it’s in its own funky universe. My favorite, cheap synth never sounded so good. That “band” and many others here may just be made up friends and studio musicians from the good Doctor to recreate/Columbian-ize African tunes. Definite DIY vibe throughout. “Juipiti” whistles as it did Analog Africa #12
Killer label! -Thurston Hunger

Soldier, Dave – "Eighth Hour of Amduat, The" – [Mulatta Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/8/2021   CD, Jazz

KFJC’s worship of Sun Ra is well known, and we are not alone. Professor-purveyor-pilot Dave Soldier helps keep Sun Ra alive, with no less than Marshall Allen among the crew for this 2017 release. There may be no air in space, but this release launches with an aria and then includes a dixieland space walk. Track two, electronics, deep tuba, maybe an erhu and Bastet (cat God) on vocals? Harp ripples in on #3, strings both classical and angry angular guitar are summoned. Impressively, sax forces are Marshall’d; Mr. Allen served many tours on Sun Ra’s interplanetary journeys and judging by his playing on here, he has not aged a single note, though he may be 90+ in Earth years. The combination of natural sounds (water beneath the boat, birds on the breeze) along with the swelling choir, help the journey, but the EVI from Allen and Soldier’s own digital squiggles are nice sonic spikings. Ultimately this is an opera, and Sahoko Sato Timpone shines brightest, but the gravity of Sun Ra’s creativity pulls it all together. -Thurston Hunger

Miralia / Stranahan Duo – "S/t" – [Self Release]

humana   6/6/2021   A Library, CD

These are three long forays that will take you through aural images of whale song and have you experiencing exactly what the terms “crescendo” and “decrescendo” mean. Percussionist Paul Stranahan and electro-acoustic artist Lisa Miralia have composed a sound on this release that ranges from the first metallic sounding cries (that must be one agonized whale!) through delightful atmospheres created by bells, Tibetan singing bowls, and gongs to an cacophonous freak-out of sound that gradually and soothingly diminishes into a dream of wind chimes. Perfecto!

Sagan – "Anti-Ark" – [Seeland Records]

cinder   6/5/2021   A Library, CD

A beautiful, cosmic space trip from collaborators Wobbly, J Lesser and Blevin Blectum! Three weirdos from the bay area, Wobbly’s been a part of Negativland for bit as well as his own projects and other collabs, Blevin Blectum has Blectum From Blechdom, and J Lesser has toured with Matmos as well as his own stuff. It’s their second release together as Sagan, and it’s ‘a recursive love letter to the early decades of space travel and the High Frontier, when the lines between hard scientific research and emotional wanderlust melted away to reveal an optimistic vision for mankind’s shared future.’ It’s got those twitchy itchy Wobbly beats, along with lots of zips and zaps, quirks and wiggles, squiggles and programmed electronic spastic schitzo.

DJ Paul Nice – "Shaolin Buddha Beat Mix" – [Mdfm]

cinder   6/5/2021   CD, Hip Hop

Killer martial arts mix by producer DJ Paul Nice. Originally from Poughkeepsie, he relocated to Manhattan in the ’90s and eventually spent some time out here making a big name for himself, “one of the more sought after beatsmiths during the thriving indie hip hop scene of the late 90’s.” This is funky, instrumental hip hop beats with sample clips from various kung fu films. Fun, upbeat and black belt worthy!

Reynolds, Graham – "A Scanner Darkly" – [Lakeshore Records]

cinder   6/5/2021   CD, Soundtrack

A musical journey sculpted from many different genres, creating an interesting soundscape. There’s twinges of soft country-surf, loungey bar Lynch’s, electronica, whirli-gigs, xylos & violins…. an overall dark vibe. The film tells the story of identity and deception in a near-future dystopia constantly under intrusive high-tech police surveillance in the midst of a drug addiction epidemic… so that sets the tone. There’s whimsical sounds, dark brooding ventures and tripped out tracks. Music made by Graham’s Golden Arm Trio, and the last 2 are one each from Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto) & DJ Spooky!

MK9 – “Discography and Video 2001-2006” – [Neural Operations]

lexi glass   6/2/2021   A Library, CD

This CDR collects mid-career tracks from the discography of Michael Nine, formerly a fixture of the Bay Area noise underground and now based in Vancouver. This period from the early 2000s falls between his first incarnation as Death Squad, that terrorized audiences throughout the 1990s, and his more recent project MK9, whose live actions combine extreme audiovisual compositions and spoken word. The retrospective begins with 2002’s Self Medicated (T1-T5), with five tracks that oscillate between high pitched feedback and rumbling low end pulses, screaming pain and dull numbness, a sound palette that recurs through the later releases. Two tracks from the 2002 7HZ compilation (T6, T7, from the storied SF experimental venue/art space of that name, a collaboration with Randy H.Y. Yau and Scott Arford/Radiosonde), brings disembodied, ghostly voices into the fray. On 2002’s Why (T8-T10) the vocals become discernible, a direct patch into the darkest corners of the subconscious. The Empathy/Apathy 7” from 2003 foregrounds a disturbing phone message recording and a visceral spoken word imagery (T11-T12). The disc concludes with early works from the MK9 project, 2005’s excellent Resist (T13-T18) and three additional tracks of obscure or unreleased material (T18-20) Released on the artist’s label Neural Operations.

FCCS: T10, T11, T12, T16, T18

Sophia – “Sigillum Militum” – [Cold Meat Industry]

whngr   5/28/2021   A Library, CD

Ambient Death Drone with allusions to arcane pagan rituals and perhaps a few nods to fascistic sabre rattling and one long uncomfortable pause/secret track (here’s a hint: it’s an outlier). 

Distant bells, frozen fog, hypnotic repetition, impending war, drunken trolls, chanting, antler helm, crescendos, rolling thunder, echoes, emphatic snare, possession, contemplative piano, winter, valorous horns, electronics, abstractive samples, rumbling synthesizers, triumph.

Swedish Ambient Industrial (once) side project of (hard drinking) Peter Bjärgö of Arcana (currently dissolved). Released in 2000 on Cold Meat Industry.

John Mayall's Bluesbreakers – "Diary of a Band, The" – [Decca]

aarbor   5/26/2021   Blues, CD

The subtitle is “Selected highspots from sixty hours of Bluesbreakers club recordings 1967” Since the Bluesbreakers excelled live on stage Decca wanted to capture live performances. Mayall was against having recording engineers at their performances feeling that it would be too much of a strain for the band. He took a portable reel to reel tape machine to their live performances in the UK, Holland and Ireland during November and December 1967; recording each performance. Volume One showcases the band playing as well as the camaraderie between the musicians. Catch the humorous speech following Blood on the Night [1] and the insistence by a venue manager in Northern Ireland that the band play God Save the Queen [6] and their performance of it. Volume Two includes banter[6] between Chris Mercer and Keef Hartley during his drum solo and [3] a joke at the expense of Keith Tillman. AArbor

Hot 8 Brass Band – "Rock With The Hot 8 Brass Band" – [Tru Thoughts]

aarbor   5/26/2021   CD, Jazz

The Hot 8 Brass Band is from New Orleans. It’s a 20 year old band forged from 2 separate groups who all went to Fortier High School: the High Steppers and the Looney Tunes Brass Band. Sadly 4 of the original members are gone due to illness and street violence. Hurricane Katrina displaced band members as well. The Hot 8’s funk style is a blend of influences from the Dirty Dozen and Rebirth brass bands, with more elements of contemporary R&B, Rap and its local variation called “Bounce”. The Hot 8 have been featured in 2 Spike Lee documentaries. This release from 2007, the band’s first on Tru Thoughts, includes many of the original members. Enjoy! AArbor

De Crecy, Etienne – "Tempovision" – [Disques Solid]

aarbor   5/26/2021   A Library, CD

Etienne De Crecy also known as Superdiscount, EDC, Minos Pour Main Basse and Mooloodjee, is a French DJ and producer who composes electronic music, primarily house. He is the co-founder of Disques Solid with Air and Alex Gopher. His first release Super Discount (1996) was a big hit. Tempovision his second release from 2000, is a reflection on the electronic music of the late 1990s. In Étienne de Crécy’s opinion it is a blues album, differing from some of his earlier and more recent work. AArbor

Atlas, Natacha – "Gedida" – [Mantra Recordings]

aarbor   5/26/2021   CD, International

Natacha Atlas spent her childhood in a Moroccan suburb of Brussels. Her father is of Sephardic Jewish ancestry, and her mother is of Muslim and Christian ancestry. She’s kind of Moroccan by way of Egypt and Palestine. She moved to Britain as a teenager, and went back to Brussels after school to belly-dance and sing in the Arab quarter, then returned to England where she became part of the pan-poly-everything dance-and-world-music bohemia. She started out with Transglobal Underground and then went out on her own. Gedida is from 1998. The range of styles is fundamentally a reflection of Atlas’ musical instincts—she likes color in her music, and so she’ll use any color she has, from anywhere. The music is held together by her singing, which is Arab to its core: Arab melodies, Arab pitch, Arab ways of connecting notes, Arab feeling. AArbor

K. Leimer – “Found Objects” – [Palace of Lights]

SlartiBartfast   5/19/2021   A Library, CD

Beautiful ambient sounds emanating from the long career of  Kerry Leimer. As an artist, Leimer, has been around since the late 60’s at the forefront of ambient, experimental sounds, and visual designs. Leimer shares influences with the likes of Brian Eno, Can, Neu!, and Faust, amongst others. Continuing to press the acoustical threshold, “Found Objects” is K. Leimer’s April 2021 release on his label Palace of Lights founded in 1979 with his wife Dorothy Cross. “Found Objects” will send you into a world of ambient sound to contemplate the universe, meditate on life, and reconnect to the cosmic void.

Suarez, Leo – “Above/Beside” – [Heavy Relatives]

Max Level   5/17/2021   A Library, CD

Abstract sound constructions using, according to Suarez, an extended snare drum language. Which would seem to mean rubbing, scraping, rattling, ambient sounds, hitting the drum with things other than drumsticks, and like that. Not a beat or rhythm to be found here. I always enjoy artists who do interesting, creative things with percussion instruments to coax new sounds from them. Suarez is a member of the drums/sax/electronics trio TONED, whom I have also enjoyed. The final track is a relentless drumroll that lasts for 2:44—sort of a strange way to close out the CD.

Elaine The Singer – S/T – [Self Release]

Max Level   5/17/2021   A Library, CD

Elaine The Singer is a local trio, 2/3 of which comprise another band, Floral. Like Floral, Elaine The Singer’s music is a complicated and dynamic math rock kind of thing—it sticks out in all directions at once and it’s rare to hear two bars in a row that are the same thing. Precisely played. This here is a quickie release on a CD/R. No credits, no pictures, no label, no notes other than the names of the three tracks. See the photo? We’ve got the purple one. For some reason, the three tracks are all exactly the same length, which is 2:16. Good stuff but the pieces are too damned short.

Sarid, Daniel / Kretzmer, Yoni / Evans, Michael – "Bring" – [Out Now Recordings]

Hemroid The Leader   5/17/2021   CD, Jazz

BRING Daniel Sarid, Yoni Kretzmer, Michael Evans

Like the angry guy at the mouthpiece make-out party, restrained free jazz trio gusts and squalls and never quite draws blood, forges unique sound. Searching melodic piano approach from leader Sarid. Outnow honcho Kretzmer’s klezzy Ayler-isms emit smoke but stop short. Evans absurdly kicks the kick down Cymbalism St. & Dada Lane. His original/absurd drum solo closes out 7. Solid release, adds to our Outnow/Kretzmer collection.

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