KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Seba Kaapstad – Thina

cadilliac margarita   1/22/2020   CD, Soul

Groovy neo-soul from a multi-cultural quartet of 2 singer/songwriters from South Africa, and 2 German multi-instrumentalists, equally contributing to the intriguing sound tapestry presented.  There is piano, synth, drums, guitar, and strings. This is lovely and mellow, shimmering with positivity and upbeat in a very relaxing way.  The lyrics never get too preachy, just contemplative in an existential way that can make even the most cynical of listeners stop and consider getting out of your own head for a while. Take a look at the world around you to consider others, their existence, and how you can relate and connect.

Barriga, Rodrigo – Silere/Continuo

Louie Caliente   1/21/2020   A Library, CD

Rodrigo Barriga is a Mexican composer who studied at Mills College. His work focuses on improvisation, communication, and openness. Silere/Continuo contains three new performances of his early works. The mood is seriously avant-garde, but playful and rooted equally in rock, jazz, and classical.

Continuo (T1) is a piece for voice trio, exploring harmony and resonance. Soaring acrobatics, shifting pitches, sustained gurgles, and raspberry trills.

Silere (T2-T5) features Barriga on electric bass alongside with electric guitar and drums. These pieces have lots of space in them and can take a while to warm up (many start with near silence), but they are well worth the wait. Quiet, accidental sounds flutter, slowly gathering momentum Cohesive grooves emerge abruptly out of thin air, but somehow remain intangible, and melt away before your ears.

Continuo (T6) again features Barriga on electric bass, this time paired with a trio of electric guitars. Collective concret noodling. Psychedelic time warps.

Radical Empathy Trio – Reality and Other Imaginary Places – [Esp-Disk]

Max Level   1/21/2020   CD, Jazz

Three masterful improvisers—Thollem McDonas – keyboards, Nels Cline – guitar, and Michael Wimberly – drums–present two 18-minute pieces of inspired improvisation, recorded 2017 in Brooklyn. We feel very early on that we are in good hands. I especially enjoy hearing Thollem’s acoustic piano give way to his electronic keyboards, usually leading to some noisy interactions with Cline’s guitar, and then back again. As usual, Cline’s guitar exists on a completely different plane from the rest of us–he’s that advanced. Wimberly’s tasteful percussion accents are pretty much perfect throughout. Dive in.

Headboggle – “Polyphonic Demo” – [Ratskin Records]

lexi glass   1/15/2020   A Library, CD

Headboggle, aka local experimental synth wizard Derek Gedalecia, is no stranger to the station – a small slice of his sizable discography lives in our library, and he recorded a session in The Pit back in 2009 – but for the unfamiliar, this 2019 Ratskin Records release provides a full immersion in the bizarre, beautiful Headboggle universe. Polyphonic Demo holds 44 one-minute tracks, each a tiny, wonderous world of electronic sound. Put the disc on shuffle – maybe you’ll land in the rough, bluesy groove of “Sister Synth” (T44), the mechanical march of “Stomp Ya Down” (T14), the ragtime piano and squishy beats of “Piano and Polyphonics” (T22), the minor key fanfare upon entering the “Buchla Club” (T26), or the slo-mo surge across the finish line in “Marathon Man Dance” (T7) – and catch a different glimpse of a facet of this strange gem of a record.

Father Befouled – “Holy Rotten Blood” – [Dark Descent Records]

atavist   1/14/2020   A Library, CD

Death metal with a satisfying amount of doom thrown in. Crushing, a bit atmospheric, unrelenting. Vocals are way down in the mix, but present, and it works. It’s all about those filthy guitars. The drums provide a pummeling barrage but aren’t the focus.

4:42 Full gallop of the apocalypse horse leads to a staggering breakdown.2:04 This song is more like an interlude, or an idea for a song that didn’t become a fully-fledged piece. Instrumental. 3:47 Intensity picks back up with this track. Funereal doom-reminiscent breakdown before a crashing end.4:16 Moderately fast-paced death leads to a trudging middle section before resuming the onslaught.3:42 Starts out relatively mellow. There’s a somewhat unhinged guitar solo in there.4:58 Features the heaviest, chuggiest riff on the CD.

Maisha – There Is a Place – [Brownswood Recordings]

aarbor   1/8/2020   A Library, CD

Maisha is a 6-piece outfit lead by drummer Jake Long who are a part of the up and coming London Jazz undergound. Others in the band: Nubya Garcia (sax/flute), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), Amane Suganami (piano/Wurlitzer), Twm Dylan (double bass) Tim Doyle (percussion and Yahael Camara Onono (percussion). Most of the tracks are 8 minutes or longer. AArbor

Nerija – Nerija EP – [Domino Recording Co Ltd]

aarbor   1/8/2020   A Library, CD

Nerija are a collective of London-based musicians: Nubya Garcia (tenor sax), Steve Reid,  Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet), Cassie Kinoshi (alto sax), Rosie Turton (trombone), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), Lizzie Exell (drums), and Rio Kai (bass). Their music is original and inspired by: jazz, hip hop, Afrobeat and South African Township styles. Each track was written by a woman who plays on the recording.  AArbor

Haku – “Na Mele a Ka Haku” – [Aloha Got Soul]

humana   1/5/2020   CD, International

Frank Tavares is Haku, Music and Drama Department Chairman of Maui Community College (at least at the time of the first release of this, in 1975). As someone who would love to be on Maui full time, I find this an interesting CD. It’s electronic and strange, with poems recited in Japanese and stories narrated, roosters clucking, and classical Hawaiian Ipu (a gourd percussion instrument). The last couple of songs sound Hawaiian to me, and bring to mind breezes swaying through palm trees and mellow feelings of toes digging into warm sand. Take a little trip and listen.

Merzbow – Scumtron [coll] – [Mute]

atavist   12/30/2019   A Library, CD

This compilation CD captures remixed and original Merzbow compositions from 23 years ago. The seven tracks you can actually hear (more on this at the end of the review) provide a fairly eclectic spectrum from techno to unrelenting noise. The opening Jim O’Rourke track is a little sleepy, but Merzbow’s track 2 goes off like a rocket engine. Panasonic’s remix on track 3 brings some rhythm discipline to the noisewash, positively toe-tapping after the track 2 sandblaster. The juxtaposition of minimalist house beats and high-RPM machine noise is mesmerizing. Rehberg/Bauer reformulate ear-piercingly high pitches; this track is built for pain. Russell Haswell’s remix “Micromedley” is indeed a bit of a grab bag, with an extraordinary variety of sounds and textures, some found, some synthesized, that never stays in the same place for very long. Autechre’s contribution is decidedly in the vein of Autechre—a reliably late 90s exploration of programmed percussion and bouncing tones. It will lull you into a relaxed state just in time for Merzbow to vaporize you with more blast furnace heat. The closing track by Bernhard Günter is either 14+ minutes of silence, or it’s mixed so quietly as to be essentially unusable on the air.

Blood Incantation – “Hidden History of The Human Race” – [Dark Descent Records]

atavist   12/30/2019   A Library, CD

Descriptions of death metal with ambitions to take on more, in terms of technical complexity, composition, nerdy science fiction novel themes, and face-melting riff architectures serve as a warning for some listeners. The genre simply isn’t for everyone, and can be polarizing amongst metal adherents. That being said, if you’re up for this kind of thing, Blood Incantation delivers. I’m freaking out over this recording (captured on 2″ magnetic tape, as it turns out).

Track 1 is death metal that bursts from the gates at full throttle, spliced with passages that flash some progressive leanings, as soaring riffs occasionally rise from the onslaught. This track, it seems, is intended to lay a solid foundation of razor-sharp brutality; the proggy quotient will gradually increase as the record progresses.

Track 2 continues where track 1 leaves off—for the most part, it starts out brutal and technical. Two minutes in, they break into a Middle Eastern-referencing, ancient Egypt spacecraft-invoking passage that reminded me of “In Their Darkened Shrines” by Nile—but only obliquely. Though resolutely technical, Blood Incantation never indulge a sometimes detrimental laser focus on technical prowess that made sections of “In Their Darkened Shrines” overstay their welcome. This slower-tempo passage continues up to minute 6, when the pace and intensity begins to rebuild.

Track 3 is an early favorite of mine, as it’s so easily distinguished from the other tracks. Almost (but not quite) exclusively instrumental, a quiet, fever dream introduction leads to beautiful, hypnotically interwoven guitar parts that build like a storm. Such beauty is then released and a satisfyingly odd time-signatured pummeling takes over, only to close with a return of the hypnotic riff.

Track 4 is an eighteen-minute, three-part sprawling opus (with a sprawling track title to match) that exhibits the full range of textures, time signatures, riffs, and mayhem the band is capable of producing. An ambient breakdown at minute six provides a mind-altering rest complete with a Pink Floyd “On the Run”-style synthesizer part. Just before they go too far into Floydish diversions, they return with headbang-inducing fury. There’s a lot here to unpack, many interwoven themes that I can’t always trace together. By the 14th minute, I don’t remember how the thing started, but it doesn’t really matter, because this particular part of the track is so beautiful. It’s a long journey but every passage has its own rewards. I’m looking forward to playing the track in its entirety where the break clock can accommodate it.

Dokuro – “Avalon” – [Monotype]

Medusa of Troy   12/18/2019   A Library, CD

Dukuro is a duo of Agnes Szelag (cello, electronics, voice) and The Norman Conquest (formerly based on Oakland (synthesizer, electronics). The tracks on their 4th album tend towards ambient, droney mixes of ethereal vocalizations and grinding electronics, moored by groaning, mournful cello. Some of the songs are peaceful; all are somewhat unsettling. Track 2 (“Land of Silence and Darkness”) is a little louder than the rest. Overall, the album feels like a soundtrack to a sci-fi film – not a Marvel blockbuster, but something weirder, sadder and more dangerous, like The Arrival or High Life.

Battles – “Juice B Crypts” – [Warp Records Ltd]

Medusa of Troy   12/18/2019   A Library, CD

The experiment rock band is now down from 4 members to 2 on this 2019 album. The tracks are energetic, danceable rock with lots of 8-bit weirdness. Beneath the video-game-sounding instrumentation are solid, ambitious songs. Different guest artists add their own subtleties to their endeavors so nothing sounds too repetitive. Five of the 10 tracks have some sort of vocals, no FCCs. Several stand-out tracks: “They Played It Twice,” with Xenia Rubinos; “Sugar Foot,” featuring Jon Anderson of Yes; and, IZM, with the Seattle hip hop duo Shabazz Palaces. Happy Happy Joy Joy music (hello, Ren & Stimpy fans) with complexity.

Bellor, Jennifer – Reflections At Dusk [Innova/American Composers]

aarbor   12/18/2019   A Library, CD

Jennifer Bellor is a 36 yo composer (PhD from Eastman) who teaches music composition and theory at the U of Nevada – Las Vegas. This is her latest release and I was prepared not to like it, but I did. I liked her use of instruments: melodic percussion vs. non-melodic percussion, a variety of saxophone sounds, she really must like twilight, sunset, dusk because she understands the magic of that time of day. Be sure to check this out. – AArbor  

Fraser, Dean – "Big Up!" – [Island JDamaica Jazz]

Hemroid The Leader   12/12/2019   CD, Reggae

Classic reggae sax sound of Dean Fraser, playing 11 reggae-jazz hybrid tunes. Light, groovy take on things. Idris Muhammad shares the drum credit with Sly Dunbar. Nimble rhythm section. Sometimes more jazz than others (9, 10) with sounds like George Adams. Opens with cool “Dick Tracy”

Pablo, Augustus – "Live In Tokyo Japan" – [Jet Star]

Hemroid The Leader   12/12/2019   CD, Reggae

somehow. understanding partially the extremely high spiritual power of Augustus Pablo – he intends to give us the Love of God, with the understanding of our human position in this purgatory planet – I aimed in my mind to taste this nectar.
This is not just a band out for fun: this seemed more like a pilgrimage with a mission: to impart this taste of love of God in humility and human blues-reggæ: the music onto the King. 😊
That said: He plays all his distilled nectar.
Going back on these notes: He went with his herbalist doctor: armed with beautiful powerful herbs to help a dying Horace Brady/Augustus Pablo deliver this Crucial Message to JAHpan. this is I guess a vague idea of the instruction/communication imparted.
That said: rhythm section are headhunters: these guys ain’t jokin’. Difficult to mike and mix the melodica – but we get it. JAHpanese engineers must have been blown away. 😊
fans of: God: the JAHpanese Archipelago, refined”spaghetti” westerns depicting the struggle between Good and Evil – the good..- Pablo!: many quotes we recognize of Pablo’s melodies as sung!: “Africa must be free” even Wailers’ and many Studio One / Lee Perry recorded melodies: as Pablo was at home there. A hundred JAHmaican melodies here. after a few listens I am sure I’ll catch the Cuban Archipelago”Peanut Vendor / El Manicero”.
pss: indeed: on multiple relistens you hear I-JAHman Levi”s “Early in the morning”…
This album should be sitting comfortably between I-JAHman’s Haile I Hymn and Rico Rodríguez’s Man from Wáreika. tops

Amazon reviewer jorge gonzález -larramendi

Alienator – “Pariahs” – [Self-release]

atavist   12/11/2019   A Library, CD

This CD from Thunder Bay’s Alienator starts out with…are those some stoner grooves mixed with hardcore vocals? I’m cool with the idea, but the initial tracks didn’t really speak to me. The album improves as it progresses though. Starting with track 6, “Renovicted (Ode to Vancouver)”, the band really gets after it and cuts loose, demanding my full attention. Track 7, “Drag the River”, is good too—an interesting riff is matched to some urgency and dynamic shifts/builds. 8, “LRH”, keeps the momentum going at a good clip. 10, “Intravenous Flytrap”, has thick sludgy riffs woven with galloping old-school metal riffs, but can they hold the momentum? Tracks 11 and 12 are okay, but not quite as memorable, followed by a decent close-out track. Situated amongst other recent additions to our library, Alienator isn’t yet bringing the fury, from a hardcore perspective, at the same level as Cell Rot, and within the metalcore vein, the songwriting lacks some of the dynamism of Call of the Void. In the early tracks the instruments attempt some variety in terms of tone and intensity, but the vocals tend to stay on one level, and though heavy, we’ve come to expect people working in this genre to either sound like they’re ripping their vocal chords out, Jake Bannon-style, or threading their sounds with angular, unconventional riffs. Alienator have a good basis to work from but might need to figure out where they’re going to push it harder. If it were a five-song EP comprised of tracks 6, 7, 8, 10, and 13, I’d be less nit-picky. FCC track 13.

Marconi Union – "Distance" – [All Saints]

humana   12/9/2019   A Library, CD

From 2005 come the soothing sounds of English trio Marconi Union. The tracks envelop you in layers of electronica that lull you into a trance from which you can awaken by figuring out what the track titles might mean. For example, “Suburb27” somehow converted me from disliking suburbs into admitting that their generic blurriness might be just the challenge I need. The music may also seem blurry, but there’s nothing wrong with a soft focus in life, after all. Take off your glasses and enjoy.

Xela – "Dead Sea, The" – [Type Recordings]

humana   12/9/2019   A Library, CD

John Twells has created a concept album that will suck you into its drone, sea sounds, bells, strumming, harpsichord sounds and leave you feeling drowning in despair. But it’s pretty great nonetheless, because that is the point. The first six tracks have stories to go with them, and they’re printed in the liner notes. They read like a suspenseful tale. The feelings of isolation and paralysis in the face of utter doom (is it sea monsters or an attacking battle ship that sinks the vessel holding the doomed, exiled souls?) are conveyed exquisitely by the atmospheric music found on this disc.

Osborne, Brian – Decorous Novelties – [Heat Retention Records]

Max Level   12/4/2019   A Library, CD

Solo percussion performed live with no effects and no overdubs. Cymbals, gong, wood blocks, glass bowls, aluminum pipes, brake drums, wrenches, baskets, scrap metal, etc. A kitchen sink is not mentioned, but it may as well have been. Ringing metallic sounds, tinkly things, tappity-tap on wooden temple blocks, the pinging of glass bowls. It never really gets intense and dramatic as someone like Tatsuya Nakatani does on occasion—this mostly comes across as light-hearted and playful. Fun. Well-recorded.

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