The Gbaya are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Central African Republic. This is music of a Gbaya village called Ndongue. Music is performed either solo or in groups. Neighboring villages may have music that sounds quite different. The songs relate to activities: love songs, entertainment songs, lullabies, mourning or hunting songs. These are “Thinking Songs” which are performed by men with rattles and sanzas: thumb pianos: a small wooden resonator with metallic “tongues” as keys. The tongues can even be made with recycled ribs of an umbrella, or spokes of a bicycle wheel. Sanzas can be enhanced with metal rings that extend the resonating time or the instrument can be placed in a gourd (see cover picture) to increase the volume. The music is lovely: fluid, melodious. The audience can enter into the performance if they know the words or if a call/response is desired. The first 3 tracks are ensemble, and the last four are solos. All tracks were recorded in 1977. AArbor
Another spoken word with drums, noises, etc. release from MAP 71. MAP 71 is Andy Pyne (drums, noises) and Lisa Jayne (words, voice, art). They like to push the envelope of what can be achieved with voice, synth and drums. This four-track EP is more dub-ish than the last one we added. The vocals are covered with echo, and the drums tend in a more tribal direction. Nude  is lovely with spacey echo and dubby drums, Aces  is more echoey with a rumba rhythm on the synth and disorienting drum patterns. Confessions of an Adrenaline Addict  is the sparsest track with tribal energy and a siren that seems a bit dystopian. Girlface Occupation [4} is lively and playful and rumba-ish. AArbor
Night Beats is the brain-child of Native Texan Danny Lee Blackwell. The soundtrack of a generation, the band’s R&B inspired Western Psychedelic sound is a reckoning, a shoot-out at dawn, the ear-splitting peel-out that leaves nothing but a cloud of red dust in its wake. They’ve toured around the world and shared the stage with the likes of Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, The Black Angels, Roky Erickson and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Blackwell says of the album: “Outlaw R&B is music for the borderless, the free, the outcasts and the forgotten.” Released June 4, 2021. Very good stuff – play it.
The hard rock and psychedelic sounds of the Minnesota band The Litter come full circle in the 2019 release Future Of The Past. In the late 1960’s The Litter followed up their punk/garage classic hit “Action Woman” with the LP’s Distortions, $100 Fine and Emerge. Along with Distortions, Emerge has remained one of the most respected and collectible records from the psychedelic era. The Litter toured the nation playing shows with the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jethro Tull and Cream. For Future Of The Past original member Tom Murray enlisted the help of some talented young players, as well as original Litter guitarist Zippy Caplan.
Gnod are a rock band from England. Formed in 2006, the band was described in a review of its 2011 release Ingnodwetrust as “a collective from Manchester with an ever-rotating list of members.” This is unreleased material from the early days of the band. Paddy Shine of Gnod says of the band: “We just wanted to jam really and see what happened. That led us down the road of constructing a vibe or an atmosphere for playing live. We played a lot of squats, house gigs and parties in the early days. We lived in each others pockets – shared ideas, books, films etc. We just got on one. Some heads came along for the ride. Good times.” Easy To Build, Hard To Destroy is drone, psych and just plain experimental jamming. Some very eerie stuff going on on tracks 7 and 8. Track eight sounds like it was recorded to torture the residents of hell who seemed to be getting too comfortable with their situation (in a good way). Freak out with Gnod.
Behold, now you can hob-nob with the hob-jobs. Step into the tent for these 11 unleavened songs from 2017 by way of some Medieval village mill. Dawson is Superman in reverse, unearthly talented while cloaking his powers neath a hair shirt and hairier acoustic guitar plucklings. His guitar work feels like a finger or two might have been caught in
the gears of Derek Bailey, or John Fahey. Check the ripping outro of “Scientist” and then the opening of “Hob.” Dawson’s singing will trace the difficultly strung steps often as well. His phrasing and word-choice stray from expectation, and reward with a completely unbeaten path. A congenital affliction with eyesight seems to have only enhanced his insight. Is this folk, or folck, or fulk? He’s added avant minstrels to this release, including harp-warper Rhodri Davies. Lyric book included as part of vocational historical training for each job, granted the position of “No-One” is filled by a short instrumental on #10 before the towering cautionary tale of being a “Masseuse” to close the album. Richard Dawson may not be for everyone, but I strictly blame everyone. Top notch songsmith. Essential.
Spoken word strung over strings. Violinista Laura Cannell who leads this project and label had previously recorded violin improvisations, called Buzzard A through H. Other sounds and importantly, recited words are then stretched over the dry bones of those improvs previously left for dead, and like a bog man come alive stepping out of the peat, the resulting movement catches our ears, eyes and breath. The words are steeped in history and lore, monsters stagger forth; men, wolves and professional wrestlers cast shadows over the spoken sections and down the side of the Wrekin (a hill in Shropshire, England). There is more than dirt in that hill, and plenty of fecund soil in These Feral Lands. I am not just talking about “Vessel” and its 20000 year old golem summoning. I was quite be-warlocked by (erstwhile comedian, but here he comes across like a one-eyed gin-soaked prophet/professor!) Stewart Lee, but the tracks with the ladies bewitch as well, often with looped recitations. The sliding strings weave a tense web of active drone to preserve the words. In my mind “Black Shuck” refers to the virus du jour, but apparently it was some dangerous beastie the size of Winston Churchill stalking those unaware in the English countryside.
Anthology of Traditional Guqin Music [Coll]
The guqin is a seven stringed Chinese zither aching with notes of tranquility. Played correctly, this beautiful instrument can give rhythms of a thumb scratching on the wound strings, eerie base like notes, and harmonic tones that will transport you to other worlds. I dare say the guqin masters profiled on this 4 CD set represent some of the best guqin players in China that produce a sound equivalent to a slow, slide, blues guitar. Boil your water, prep your Yixing pot with good Oolong, and relax to a good session of Gongcha.
Even though this was performed live in Japan, the sounds captured on this disc by Winderen are a balm for our times. This Norwegian seeker of the hidden sounds found in glaciers and oceans gives us a treasure trove of sounds that refresh us in times of drought, creak through our souls, and wash away our angst like so many tears. The first track is a vocal introduction by musician Tetsuro Yasunaga. Ambience and field sounds at their best.
Released in 2009, KFJC has a couple of other cds circa that time by Portland-based guitarist Ilyas Ahmed, as well as a healthy smattering of Root Strata issues. Most recently Ahmed collaborated with Root Strata helmsman Jeffrey-Cantu Ledesma on an album. Back to this slice from 2009 while featuring Ahmed’s shambolic guitar (some electric, plenty of jangle) and his lo-fi ghost whirled vocals, there is a kinda driving blues vibe on earlier tracks. Over all, the recording needle gets pushed hard into the red, to help cloud up the fever dream feel on tracks especially “Out Again” and “As Another.” Ahmed adds rudimentary percussion on many cuts, but there’s also a freer freak folk vibe to be had on “Some of None” and a Mazzacane guitar rain in “Two Breaths.” Liz Harris of Grouper materializes on the closing track offering a soft wordless balm to the opening blues-battered numbers.
experimental electronic piece in four movements, each shorter than the last. The first track is thick and sludgy, with momentary tones that sound as if being played on (electric?) didgeridoo, fading out slowly. The second movement is a little rougher around the edges, with harsher electronics, fuzzed-out distortion chilling in the background. The third movement is warbling and slow with a distinct melody that makes this almost come across as a bizarre leftfield pop piece. The fourth and final track is just the warbling from the previous track. Another great release from Howard Ryan of San Francisco, composed and recorded during lockdown Winter 2020.
Yes, he is a member of latter Nine Inch Nails, but don’t let that mainstream-ity scare you off from this. Cortini’s solo works are beautiful, lush ambient drone excursions that fall perfectly into place on KFJC. He’s really into synths and keyboards, and for this latest release, he’s made the instrument himself and focuses on using just that. Pulsating rhythms, wafting tones, cinematic touches, washes of dystopian lands… accurately felt as the title of the album translates to dark light (Italian). Bellisimo!
This CD is pretty much like wearing two different pairs of socks. The first 2 tracks are live, improv jazz jams, both around 20 minutes. Those two are Thollem (piano) along with Matt Lux (bass) and Avreeayl Ra (drums), 2019 in Chicago. Intermission takes place on track 3, which is completely silent. The following 9 tracks are Thollem along with Sunken Cages (Ravish Nomin) and are synth and drum driven psychedelic space, ethnic fusion, whispering words, even a little hip hop beats, and where I would apply the word astral. Recorded in Philadelphia, also 2019. Buckle up and enjoy Thollem’s travels!
Inspired sounds — flutes, woodwinds, harp, bass, and electronics — by this So Cal quartet. Interesting and enjoyable movements as the instruments combine, diverge, drop out, rejoin, combine, diverge… Four masterful players confidently expressing their ideas, each leaving plenty of space for the others. Another top notch release from the reliably remarkable Pfmentum label.
Studio recording of a 2015 Ligeti sound installation at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Difficult to describe, other than to say the music is mostly mournful and clearly coming from an Eastern European direction. Composer/percussionist Ligeti interviewed a wide variety of Polish Jews, from young to quite old, asking them to tell stories and sing songs that portray the Jewish experience through their eyes. Passages from these interviews and songs were included in Ligeti’s musical score for the piece, with a handful of Polish musicians and vocalists invited to play the score as well as improvise along with it. I must admit I delayed reviewing this CD for many weeks, as I felt I needed to be in a particular kind of headspace to tackle it. It’s deep, with many layers of meaning, and I wanted to attempt to do it justice. Ultimately, there is a lot to say about this CD and the liner notes do a far better job of it than I could, so please dive into them and learn more about this composition. It is one 44-minute piece divided into six tracks but meant to be listened to all in one sitting according to the composer. A noble, ambitious undertaking.
Ken Field (Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and other projects) plays sax, overlaying and processing the six tracks on this solo effort. Very atmospheric and beautiful, sometimes mysterious and occasionally experimental. The instrument is recognizable at times, but also morphs into a very different sound as it loops and echoes. A pleasure to hear!
This is the debut studio release from Denver band The Drood. The Drood travels a dark and dreamy path through space-rock and psychedelia. The sound on this album slides between sludgy space/prog rock, industrial grit and layered soundscape dreams. The Drood moves through an eclectic range of emotion, mystery and just plain weirdness. Sure to interest those seeking an esoteric journey in audio form. There is other worldliness and intensity to their music, and a fascinating overlap between mysticism and skepticism. A fun trip for all you KFJC space cadets.
Recorded in New York City. Released June 2020. Recorded during the pandemic and perhaps in some ways reflecting the weird trip it has been. The music here swings a bit more than the names billed might lead you to believe. Daniel Carter has been collaborating with William Parker since the early 70s and with Matthew Shipp starting in the mid 80s. This trio has played together on many recordings but by adding legendary drummer Gerald Cleaver to the mix they have created a supergroup of sorts. Two extended tracks bookend a shorter four-minute piece, “Scintillate”. Perhaps the Adventure is the end of the pandemic and the ability to get together and make music again.
Psychedelic spacerock and electronic musician Sula Bassana is a member of Electric Moon, Zone Six, Krautzone and Interkosmos. He is an ex-member of Liquid Visions, Growing Seeds and Psychedelic Monsterjam. Sula was born in Berlin and is now living in northern Hessen. This version of the album includes the three tracks from the Dissapear EP. Casiotone 403, Casio SK 1, Roland TR 606 drum box, Yamaha PS 30 are among the instruments Sula used on this album.
Keshav Batish hones a personal, multifaceted sound as a player and composer with Binaries in Cycle, his debut album, featuring alto saxophonist Shay Salhov, pianist Lucas Hahn and bassist Aron Caceres. When the group gathered to record Binaries in Cycle at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, in Batish’s home city of Santa Cruz, the beloved performance space was empty. It was August 3, 2020, the height of the COVID pandemic. Despite adverse circumstances, Batish and the quartet rose above to deliver stirring performances of five original pieces, plus inventive readings of Ornette Coleman’s “Police People” and Thelonious Monk’s “We See.” Keshav has played in our pit with his father Ashwin.
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