KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Africa [coll] – [Nonesuch]

Hemroid The Leader   4/24/2019   CD, International

New trainees

Beautiful, alien sounds from the 13 Explorer Series: Africa albums. Recorded ’69-’83, in Ghana, Nubia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Uganda, Zaire, Kenya, and Tanzania. Cool booklet.
Ad-hoc, non-linear, or improvised situations. Recommended to just pick one.
Track 16 is a Rhinoceros.

Periferico: Sounds From Beyond The Bubble [coll] – [Sonic Arts Network]

Hemroid The Leader   4/24/2019   CD, International

Periferico means periphery

Big-concept mixture of instrumental, field recording, electronic, even rap sounds.

Emanating from threatening zones of silence, defying commodification and ruining the world-view, this 2007 CD was the 10th in the Sonic Arts Network CD series, selected by Angolan composer/theorist Victor Gama to pierce prophylactic safe zones.

Nilssen-Love, Paal – “New Japanese Noise” – [PNL Records]

lexi glass   4/23/2019   CD, Jazz

Norwegian free jazz drummer Paal Nilssen-Love brings together a killer lineup for this one: saxophonist Akira Sakata, guitarist Kiko Dinucci, and Japanoise legends Kohei Gomi (aka Pain Jerk) and Toshiji Mikawa (of Hijokaidan/Incapacitants). New Japanese Noise is the companion release to New Brazilian Funk (recently added to our library); both are recordings of explosive live sets recorded at the 2018 Roskilde Festival in Denmark. “Stiff Upper Lip Jeeves” (T1) blasts off with propulsive drumming, furious sax, damaged guitar, and – bubbling up into whatever free space is left over – brilliant rainbow electronics. The energy just barely lets up with the rock-inspired grooves of “Up the Line to Death” (T2), “Eats, Shites, and Leaves” (T3) finds Sakata’s strangely beautiful clarinet figures beset by rustling, then raging, rhythms. In the showstopper “The Bone People” (T4), Sakata’s maniacal growls summon a storm of howling evil spirits. The quintet bows out with a(nother) blast on the encore “Birdsong” (T5).

Striations – “Collection 1” – [Oxen]

Lord Gravestench   4/19/2019   A Library, CD

Striations, active in the underground Noise scene for nearly a decade, is Oakland’s Mike Finklea. He has performed twice on KFJC, on one of those occasions hosted by yours truly. This 2019 CD on LA’s Oxen label compiles two cassette releases: 2018’s ‘Trauma Code,’ originally on the Gutter Bloat label, and ‘K.P.’ (‘Killer’s Party’) his 2017 effort for Oxen. In the liner notes, Finklea writes that these recordings are “of an exploratory nature,” significant because his usual M.O. involves obsessive control over the structured chaos of memorised compositons. This is indeed more free-form and improvisatory in sound than other works, conforming more to the Harsh Noise stylings of artists like Macronympha and K2. That said, these pieces are at least more Power Electronics than Harsh Noise in that they focus on sustained tension rather than sludgy textural fetishism. “None of this material is what I WANT Striations to sound like.” The liner also includes special thanks “to all hazmat and first responders.”

‘Trauma Code’ (t.s 1+2), mastered by Miscreant’s Sam Torres, is inspired by car accidents. Each 25-minute track passes through balanced phases of relative restraint and full-blown sonic assault. Baleful low-end drones, abject metal-scraping, earsplitting feedback. T.1 begins with synth piece possibly sampled from the score of a 70s or 80s film. Later there’s a sample of a medical examiner calling for the clearing of highway shoulders to reduce crash fatalities. It’s a public health problem, she says. I certainly found myself driving more carefully when playing this in my car. T.2 continues the exploration of scrap metal, hissing static and uncomfortably high frequencies. There is a ‘Red Asphalt’-like sample from a crash scene where it sounds like some girls are trapped in a burning car. In a possible pun on “auto fatality,” the second sample on this side is another medical examiner(?) discussing the most extreme/unusual suicide cases he’s encountered. “Someone who takes on a speeding locomotive at 70MPH is not one of those people you’d expect to be calling for help.“  According to the artist, second and third instalments in the ‘Trauma Code’ series are in the works.

‘K.P.’ (t.s 3+4), recorded by M. Chami (Crown of Cerberus, Koufar), concerns the death of Junko Furuta, whose 1989 murder at the hands of 4 Yakuza-connected classmates scandalized Japan. Imprisoned for 40 days, she was raped hundreds of times and tortured until unrecognisable before finally dying of her extensive injuries. Close to 100 people had knowledge of her imprisonment, but due either to complicity or fear of retribution, none reported it to police. Her body was eventually discovered encased in concrete. Although perhaps more synth-driven, both of these 15-minute pieces continue in an aesthetic vein similar to ‘Trauma Code’: nonlinear, screeching, throbbing electronic/concrete noise. Maybe some distorted vocals. No samples on these ones, but plenty of implicit violence all the same.

‘Collection 1’ is a ghoulish encounter with the biological truth of death, up close and personal. Hear, see, feel, smell, taste the end.

Cilia, Martin – “Espresso Martino” – [Bombora Creative]

Devlyn   4/17/2019   A Library, CD

Stripped down, Australian surf. All but one track features a lead guitar, a drum, and a quiet bass. Track 2 “The Rise and Fall of Flingle Bunt” adds an organ to the mix.

The album provides songs of every tempo: “Walking in Sand” is a spooky zombie shuffle. “Telstar” is a cowboy-movie-worthy ditty with horsey trotting drumbeats. “The Worm” is a brisk walk. “Mermaid Beach” features a dreamy melody worthy of luring sailors to their deaths. “Surfability” is all jangly freneticism.

Most of the songs (1,3,5,6,7,9) are originals. Tracks 4 and 8 are reworks of familiar instrumental hits from the early 60s. 

What makes this Australian surf rather than American surf? One-a name like “Flingle Bunt” rarely shows up in American surf and Two-the water goes down the drain backwards. 

Track Listing: 

Return of the Surf Guitar 2:29The Rise & Fall of Flingle Bunt (featuring Mental As Anything) 2:38Surfabilly 2:32Sleep Walk 4:17The Worm 3:16Walking in Sand 3:43Makua Beach 4:10Telstar 3:03Albatross 3:14Mermaid Beach 2:08

Evans, Peter / Weasel Walter – “Poisonous” – [Ug/Explode]

atavist   4/17/2019   CD, Jazz

Presented here are seven frantic, manic blasts of trumpet and drums. How much sound can these two instruments produce, with the help of some electronics? Turns out the answer is, “not a small amount”. This release is firmly in the free jazz vein, as in free to be as noisy and unhinged as possible. Peter Evans spans the spectrum of possible trumpet sounds, and manages to coax new, decidedly un-trumpet-like sounds from his tortured brass. KFJC has other pieces from this artist. Weasel Walter, a veteran of a variety of projects both in and out of the jazz world, including Flying Luttenbachers and To Live and Shave in LA, is well-known to the station for his frenetic drum rushes and all-around troublemaking, and here he’s exorcising more of his demons with unabated fury. A highlight for me is track three, “Sulfur Tuft”—the echoey, reverby washes of sound quickly pile up into a writhing, shrieking wall that captured my attention and held on for dear life.

Deadbeat and Camara – Trinity Thirty – [Constellation]

Louie Caliente   4/16/2019   A Library, CD

Deadbeat (Scott Monteith) and Fatima Camara are Canadian electronic musicians now living in Berlin. Here, the duo have taken on the almost scarily ambitious project of re-envisioning one of the most iconic albums of all time: Cowboy Junkies The Trinity Sessions.

2 years in the making, and released 30 years after the original, Trinity Thirty strips down the already-sparse sound to the bare bones, and the song’s tempos are slowed almost to the breaking point. Wistful ethereal vocals hover over minimal dubby beats and tranquilizing synth drones. The mood is somber and even haunting at times.

The Trinity Sessions was famously recorded around a single microphone in inside Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity, which gave the album a unique sense of space and acoustics. Trinity Thirty, recorded at Berlin’s Studio Chez Cherie, similarly emphasizes wide open spaces, solitude, and emptiness, moods further enhanced by the mastering work of Stefan Betke (aka Pole).

Houser, Dylan – Dismal King / Dreary – [Self-released]

Louie Caliente   4/15/2019   A Library, CD

Guitar and found-sound oddness from Floridian Dylan Houser. It’s a two-EPs-in-one-CD kinda thing, combining recordings from late 2018 and 2019, all recorded and released directly by the artist.

Dismal King is spontaneous solo guitar compositions, looped and layered. Lo-fi but not too soupy, and with just enough distortion to take the edge off. A wide range of styles and moods on display, starting with the introspective and melancholy “Spring Vein” (T1). Things quickly ramp up to the propulsive “Dismal King” (T2) and the positively shredding “Locust Driver” (T3). We mellow out a bit (just a bit) with the psychedelic “Molting Riviera” (T4) and wrap up with an extended crunchy synth noise jam on “Tinker Galute” (T5), the only non-guitar piece on the EP.

Dreary is harder to categorize. It begins with “Lungform Deth Radio” (T6) a schizophrenic field recording collage featuring spoken word and the sounds of proper dental hygiene. The following track “Sarcophagus in Orbit” (T7) is more spaced-out improvised guitar work. The last three songs are rich synth drones with varying amounts of noise (T8, T10) and cheese (T9).

Joni Void – "Mise En Abyme" – [Constellation]

humana   4/11/2019   A Library, CD

Joni Void (aka Jean Cousin) has served up a gem here, which he refers to as “a time travel experiment, emotional processing, abstracted narrative, for voice, tone & beats.” Samples (Boards of Canada on 12), vocals, phone sounds (6), camera sounds that create beats (8), and even snippets from his parents’ wedding reception (1) all create the sense of infinity implied by the album title: “a copy of an image within itself, a story within a story; without beginning or end.” Enjoy.

Morgen Wurde – "Assassinous Act" – [Time Released Sound]

humana   4/10/2019   A Library, CD

The CD cover calls this release “a soundtrack for a fictitious crime film.” True to its word, everything, from the track titles to the music to the cover design with fingerprints and mug shots, is in keeping with the crime theme. Most of the tracks, especially the first half, contain instrumental electronic ambience that is sinister and unsettling, just as you’d expect the soundtrack to an assassinous act to be. Joining the violins toward the end are ethereal vocalizations, especially on 11, and 12 has voices that sound like they’re taken from a trial. This is unique and haunting. Try it.

Wallace, Eli – “Barriers” – [Eschatology Records]

mickeyslim   4/10/2019   A Library, CD

“Barriers” is the moment you tip into sleep,
a thumbtack fallen pin-side-down
onto the hardwood floor,
a soft tap into a shallow
murky
puddle.

Recorded live in 2018, Eli Wallace’s solo piano work finds the cracks in the piano you didn’t know were there. Thunderous wisps and lukewarm fogs. Where to begin?

Ero Guro – “Ero Guro” – [Wolfsblood Records]

lexi glass   4/3/2019   A Library, CD

One moment stands out from the first time I saw Tom Weeks perform: halfway through the set, he lifted his saxophone away from his lips, flipped it over, buried his face and tongue into the bell’s opening, and played it from the inside out. While I’m not sure he uses this exact technique, that same raw, physical energy is in full force on this 2015 self-titled release from Weeks’ ensemble Ero Guro. Named for the Japanese art movement of the erotic and the grotesque, the quartet features Weeks on alto sax, Mike Srouji on electric bass, and two drummers, Robbie Pruett and Patrick Talesfore. Over four wild compositions, they stagger from free jazz freakouts to rock grooves to doom metal depths to funky breakdowns – sometimes all over the course of a single track, as in the sprawling “Tentacle Apocalypse” (T2). Soaring themes descend a spiral staircase bassline into total chaos (T4), rhythmic intensity builds over quick sax/bass triplets (T5). Between the movements is a dreamy “Interlude” (T3), a hentai deathfuck fantasy. Ero Guro (and their follow-up 2017 cassette Blood of the Wolf we recently added) offers nonstop, killer extreme music, so dive in face-first.

Davis / Frith / Greenlief – “Lantskap Logic” – [Clean Feed]

Phil Phactor   3/27/2019   A Library, CD

Two telepathic long-form improvisations courtesy of Evelyn Davis on pipe organ, Fred Frith on electric guitar, and Phillip Greenlief on alto and tenor saxophones. Davis previously played organ as part of the tragically short-lived Drone Church, alongside Crystal Pascucci and Kimberly Sutton on amplified cellos. There are drones here too, but rather than stasis, the feeling is one of constant struggle, between the tethers of tonality and the dark depths beyond. Recorded in the Mills College chapel, this is a beautiful record, but not an easy one. Deep, deep listening.

Martin, Billy – illyB Eats 2- (Amulet Records)

Naysayer   3/27/2019   CD, Jazz

This is volume 2 in Billy Martin’s beats series. Amazing drumming minimalism with some assistance by Eddie Bobe on congas. The idea is possibly for mixing but it stands on its own as stripped down beats, heavy on the bass. The rhythms aren’t always easy; very much the jazz touch is noticeable. I was impressed with the volume of sound and intensity of the rhythms. It;s actually a great example of “Less is More”.

Alizadeh, Hossein / Hadadi, Pejman- Monad (Hermes Records)

Naysayer   3/27/2019   CD, International

Master musicians Hossein Alizadeh on setar and Pejman Hadadi tombak perform 15 tracks of improvisational Persian classical music on their album “Monad”. Stunning in all aspects. Both are renowned, Alizadeh award winning and nominated for his tar and setar playing, Hadadi highly sought after for his tombak skills. The “Monad” project takes the modes of Persian classical music and explores the infinite possibilities within these with their improvising. Alizadeh’s finger work on the setar is stunning: quick changes, floating up and down the neck of the instrument while strings are strummed and plucked. The changes of speed, the mood tones, the smoothness of the playing add such a quality of beauty. Add to this Hadadi’s intense beats on the tombak… it is a conversation between the two instruments and musicians that becomes a meditation. Total beauty.

Fish, Samantha -Wild Heart (Ruf Records)

Naysayer   3/27/2019   CD, Country

“Wild Heart”, Samantha Fish’s 2015 album, is a bit of a departure from her usual blues rock style. This album explores more of a roots rock feel, utilizing her blistering guitar and sometimes throaty vocals (think a bit of Janis Joplin) to deliver the tales of lost women, lost love, difficult times, the difficulty of being a woman, messed up families…. it’s all good and there’s even a little love thrown in. Her style is so dynamic without being overly stagey or theatrical. She tells the tough stories. Her band is tight, accompanying her on the tales she is weaving. Blues rock, roots rock, country rock _ whatever you want to call, it kicks. Toss one back and listen.

Khan, Ustad Bismillah -Shaadi Ki Shehnaiyan (BSaregama)

Naysayer   3/27/2019   CD, International

Ustad Bimsillah Khan is a renowned shehnai player, the wind instrument related to the oboe. Bismillah was famous for taking the shehnai, a traditional folk instrument, and elevating its status to the concert stage. On this recording, Bismillah performs nine pieces for the shehnai, accompanied with drone and drum, which would be performed at weddings. The tunes would help to preserve the sacredness of the wedding ceremony and help the couple to support and sustain Dharma. The tunes are haunting but surprisingly smooth and somewhat light in their emotional dimension. Yes, you can have haunting and light together. The notes sometimes swirl, as if following a path or leading the wedding participants on the beginning of their journey. The playing is elegant, with some subtle juxtapositions. An elegant surprise for my ears.

Set Ensemble, The – "Stopcock" – [Consumer Waste]

humana   3/24/2019   A Library, CD

Each of the musicians in the Set Ensemble is also a composer, and this CD offers a wonderful sampling of the uniqueness of this UK-based group’s creativity. Track 3 is particularly interesting with the sound of a carrot and apple being chewed and digested. Among the other instruments decorating the sparse soundscape are cello, piano, a banana, crisps, contrabass, zither, and guitar. Watch your levels because sometimes things start out very quietly. But there’s art to the stillness…

Matmos – “Plastic Anniversary” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

lexi glass   3/19/2019   A Library, CD

Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt are still going strong after 25 years of partnership, and they’re celebrating the milestone with a new album. This work follows the blueprint of many previous Matmos releases: the duo choose a theme and a limited range of sounds, and build the album within those constraints, often finding creative and surprising solutions to the strict boundaries they’ve set for themselves. This time, they’ve crafted an album entirely from the sounds of plastic objects. Throughout Plastic Anniversary, there’s hints of past works – the latex squeaks from Supreme Balloon or the fleshy-tones of A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure – in the yelps from plastic tubing and squeals of synthetic fat and silicone breast implants. One element that sets this album apart for me is its powerful percussion. Members of a Montana high school drumline whale on trash bins in “Fanfare for Polyethylene Waste Containers” (T8) and solo on a “Thermoplastic Riot Shield” (T7, with added police state synths from Professor Cantaloupe). I outgrew my teenage crush on Deerhoof, but never my respect for their staggering drummer, Greg Saunier. Here, he contributes to several tracks, including the standout “The Collapse of the Fourth Kingdom” (T10), and the opener “Breaking Bread”(T1), where the trio plays the smashed fragments of old Bread LPs (a live performance of this track at the 2017 WFMU Record Fair caused a hilarious uproar from attendees). I could go on – the final track is synthetic soundscape of a teeming forest! (T11) – as this album overflows with unlikely sounds and ideas. Dead serious about their craft but never taking themselves too seriously, Matmos consistently rise far above the great garbage gyre that is the current musical landscape. Here’s to many more!

Copyright © 2019 KFJC 89.7 FM
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
Public Inspection File