Music Reviews

Thee Sacred Souls – “Thee Sacred Souls” – [Daptone]

aarbor   6/6/2023   CD, Soul

Daptone recordings are known for their old school all analogue/strictly tape recording studio sound, and this one is no exception. You are transported back into an earlier time with a very retro sound which moves away from Daptone’s established James Brown-inspired funk ‘n’ soul. Instead it offers an enticing mix of Latin soul, neo-soul, and the type of vocal harmony-based R&B popularized by acts like Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions. This release from 2022 can fool a listener into believing they’re listening to a 40 or 50 year old record. Some of the tracks are a bit too saccharine for me, but others have appealing more modern elements. The Daptone label is still recovering from the deaths of Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley. Recently Daptone Co-Founder Gabe Roth launched Penrose, a California-based imprint that hearkens back to the soul stylings of the early ’60s which is how Thee Sacred Souls came to record on Daptone. These guys are pointing the way to Daptone’s future. AArbor

Malladi Brothers – “At Silicon Valley, 2023” – [Sankritilaya]

karma   6/4/2023   CD, International

The Malladi Brothers are a renowned Carnatic duo. They are known especially for their skilled improvisational alapana and kalpana swara, and their emphasis on rare ragas and compositions. This live recording of a performance in Santa Clara in April 2023 highlights their skills in Carnatic standards as well as rare pieces. They begin with a varna in Kedaragowla and kritis in Dhanyasi (a raga which seems to be in vogue right now) and raga Janaranjani (Pahimom Sree Rajarajeshwari). The submain piece, Thyagaraja’s Eramuni Nammiti, is in the Persian-derived melakarta raga Vakulabharanam. The main piece was the classic Sri Subramanyaya Namaste by Dixitar in raga Kamboji. The Malladi Brothers’ sparing use of N3 (the high seventh which is an accidental in this raga) lends their rendition a classic feel. The ragam-thanam pallavi, 30 minutes of continuous improvisation, is primarily in the Hindustani raga Suddha Sarang. Excellent concert that has something for longtime connoisseurs of Carnatic music, or newcomers to the art.

Liyou, Lucy – “Dog Dreams” – [American Dreams Records]

karma   6/3/2023   A Library, CD

Second album from Lucy Liyou, currently based in SF. This album and its three long tracks cannot be confined to a single genre. It is a meld of ambient, Korean shamanic music, jazz, spoken word, and field recordings. ‘Dog Dreams’ is a literal translation of a Korean term that ranges in meaning from daydreams to nightmares. This album perfectly captures the uncanny feeling of a dream. It’s an intense therapy session that shatters conceptions of reality and requires presence and attention from the listener.

Casual War – “Burn” – [Staalplaat]

karma   6/3/2023   A Library, CD

Just in time for summer, desert rock from a duo based in LA and DC. They recorded the tracks separately at their respective homes during the pandemic. The artists’ goals were to show that intimate connection was possible even when we were stuck at home. The powerful yet restrained vocals atop the sludgy, psychedelic instrumentation transport you to the slow heat of the Mojave, and show that no matter what, all of us are burning together.

Davachi, Sarah – “Two Sisters” – [Late Music]

whngr   5/31/2023   A Library, CD

Dulcet Lush Minimalism

Solemn sweeps of organ, pensive church bells and somber choral passages on this beautiful and haunting album by one:

Sarah Davachi originally from Alberta,Calgary. Composer and performer with education and a slew of credentials from the University of Calgary, Mills College (Oakland) and currently is pursuing a PhD in Musicology from UCLA. Educated and deeply considered her work emphasizes subtle variations in tones and tuning, textures and timbre that allows for exploration of temporal space and the word, electroaccoustic appears several times on her online CV.

Los Angeles, California – 2022

Egyptian Project – “Ya Amar” – [Six Degrees Records]

aarbor   5/31/2023   CD, International

Ya Amar means “my moon” – it’s a compliment on someone’s appearance. On these 10 tracks the defenders of Egyptian tradition collaborate with a young French musician Jerome Ettinger. They mix the sounds of the Nile delta and Cairo with trip hop, electro, hip hop and a bit of classical music. I was wishing for something a bit more edgy, I wished he had taken more chances. AArbor

Korwar, Sarathy – “Kalak” – [Leaf Label Ltd]

aarbor   5/31/2023   CD, International

Born in the U.S., Sarathy Korwar grew up in Ahmedabad and Chennai in India. He began playing tabla aged 10, but was also drawn to the American music that he heard on the radio and leaking through the doorway of his local jazz music shop. At 17 he moved to Pune to study Environmental Science, but instead dedicated his time to music, studying tabla and translating his skills to the western drum kit; and playing as a session musician. He then moved to London where he trained as a classical tabla player and continued to adapt Indian classical rhythmic material to non-Indian percussion instruments. Korwar has since established himself as one of the most original and compelling voices in the UK jazz scene. KALAK is Korwar’s third studio album, released in November 2022. In rhythmic step with the past and the present, it sets out to describe a route forward. It celebrates a rich South Asian culture of music and literature, which resonates with spirituality and community, while envisaging a better future from those building blocks. AArbor

Ayla, Safiye – “Safiye Ayla” – [Kalan]

aarbor   5/31/2023   CD, International

45 tracks of classical Turkish music sung by one of the “three great sycamores” Safiye Ayla. [The other 2 sycamores are Muzeyyan Senar and Haniyet Yuceses.] Saiye Ayla was orphaned as a pre-schooler but people encouraged her and she studied with many famous Turkish musicians in the early 20th century. Safiye Ayla became the most famous and successful singer of her time by virtue of her singing style, which was somewhat influenced by western styles. She had a broad vocal range and paid special attention to pronunciation. Her repertoire included classical, modern, and popular music, so she was able to reach a broad public. She recorded more than 500 records and sang on the major radio stations in Turkey. The tracks here are from among her 78 rpm records and those she sang for radio. AArbor

Ky – “Power Is The Pharmacy” – [Constellation]

humana   5/25/2023   A Library, CD

Ky Brooks is the former vocalist/lyricist for Lungbutter and is dedicated to their drummer. On this release, Ky continues to set their poetry to music either through their spoken or sung vocals, and also plays synths, field recordings, and guitar. Many musician friends join them on different tracks, with the standout one for me being “All the Sad and Loving People.” Listen closely because this one is different from the Beatles’ song. Quirky, activist, melancholy and strange–it’s just up our alley.

Sankat Mochan Sangha – “Shivaratri: Offerings from the Sankat Mochan Sangha” – [Sri Ram Publishing]

aarbor   5/24/2023   CD, International

Shivaratri is “the night of Shiva” it falls on the 13th (or 14th) day of the dark half of Phalgun (February-March). The ceremonies take place chiefly at night. This is a festival observed in honor of Lord Shiva who was married to Parvati on this day. People observe a strict fast on this day. Some devotees do not even take a drop of water. They keep vigil all night. At Mount Madonna they celebrate Shivaratri for 24 hours. The celebrations include pujas and singing. These 2 CDs capture the devotional energy of these celebrations. AArbor

No Visitors – “100,00 Years” – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   5/17/2023   A Library, CD

Amplified Vestibular Neuronitis

More Like a hundred thousand ears… bleeding collectively into a haunted missile silo. Many varied sounds, abstract and without meter; layered perversely that growl, pierce, screech, thump, whine and drone. Weaving between moderately uncomfortable to thoroughly unnerving and intermittently is absolutely appalling; the latest release from No Visitors is a solid candidate for album of the year in the weaponized sound category. Leaning into the suffering, however, has elicited a mild psychedelic response for this miserable volunteer.

No Visitors is one Matthew Turner, the driven entity behind Rural Isolation Project and currently is avoiding whngr’s attempts to explain his aberrant behavior and motivations in a Mayhem special. Why won’t anyone fucking talk to me?!

Austin, TX – 2022

Cerebral Rot “Excretion of Mortality” [20 Buck Spin]

atavist   5/15/2023   A Library, CD

You might be wondering what is going on in that first track. Some sort of slasher film-style narration? The repeating crawling-spider motif will burst forth with riffs like a full arachnid assault; the walls and floor pulsate with the horde. Death has many faces, and here it is really filthy, leering as you squirm. I do appreciate that weird chorus-like effect on the guitars, particularly on “Spewing Purulence”. “Bowels of Decrepitude” gets the guitars lined up in formation while the drummer throws in an unexpected snare hit on occasion. If it’s crooked and nasty, just keep it in there. Weird guitar effects, perhaps some keys (though no one on the album is credited for it). So much rot. This band is really after that one thing. Their relentless pursuit of putrefaction has led them to innovate, or in other words, engage in some bizarre behavior, while straining to maintain the colossal mass that modern death metal extracts from its subjects. Satan be praised, this release upholds the mass ritual; see “Drowned in Malodor” and “Retching Innards” for further details. They close out with an eleven-minute epic, complete with a strange intro, in which they throw in a bit of everything in the arsenal.

Sightless Pit “Lockstep Bloodwar” [Thrill Jockey Records]

atavist   5/14/2023   A Library, CD

A crackling, twitchy descent into a maze of subterranean passages reveals thrumming beats and gentle washes of abrasive noise, ringing voices and hard words. A collaboration of Lee Buford (The Body) and Dylan Walker (Full of Hell), Sightless Pit’s antecedents are well-represented in the KFJC library. But much like recent additions by The Body & OAA and The Body & Thou (there’s even a Full of Hell/Merzbow in there), the motor for most tracks on “Lockstep Bloodwar” is the collabs and guest appearances. Midwife adds ethereal, reverb-drenched dulcet vocals that set the weighted words spinning. This sets up YoshimiO, a Japanese multi-instrumentalist, and Gangsta Boo, a Memphis-based rapper who sadly passed away earlier this year. This might be the last thing Gangsta Boo put on tape—she completely slays it, and it’s worth as much heavy rotation as safe harbor will allow. Staff might recognize Lane Shi Otayonii from the Nadja CD added late last year; here she contributes to another great track with an FCC to be mindful of. The title track is a lighter interlude with legit dance floor beats forming a respite between two massive trios of collab tracks. The Frukwan & Industrial Hazard track has a definite machine-chiseled vibe going, like hip hop falling apart and reassembling itself from scrap metal; halfway through it really locks in, and Frukwan’s vocal stylings ratchets things up a level. The Claire Rousay track “False Epiphany” is so “Mezzanine”-era Massive Attack until the vocal track snaps us into the present. By the time the death-doom vocal track floats in on an uneasy summer evening breeze, Atavist has discovered his favorite track on the album. Excellent lyrical delivery from Crownovhornz on “Shiv”. The harshest approach from Buford and Walker is reserved for “Morning of a Thousand Lights”. “Futilities” brings it down, with black metal vocals drifting through and entwining with the ghostly vocals of San Francisco’s Foie Gras. FCCs tracks 2, 3, 7.

Negativland – “Speech Free: Recorded Music For Film, Radio, Internet and Te” – [Seeland]

karma   5/10/2023   A Library, CD

Negativland is very popular in the KFJC library. They are a Bay Area based experimental music collective that is known to sample a lot of vocals. Their latest release is their two previous albums – with all vocals removed. The speech-free album is seamless. You wouldn’t know there were supposed to be vocals unless you’re a Negativland fan (as you should be) or I just told you. The tracks vary in length and tone. Very fun album that will fit into pretty much any program here.

Frajerman, Denis – “Tiphaine” – [Klang Galerie]

Albion Moonlight   5/10/2023   A Library, CD

Frajerman is originally a member of the French experimental group Palo Alto.

‘Tiphaine’ was composed for Frajerman’s wife’s 50th birthday using Arabic and Balkan rhythms and melodies as well as motifs from English and American minimalist music.

This CD is moody, haunting, and plaintive. The cello playing is particularly nice throughout the CD. The somewhat unfamiliar rhythms (to me anyway) provide a counterpoint that creates tension and gravitas.

Carole Deville : cello Denis Frajerman : percussion, bass, Rbox Hélène Frissung : violin

Favorite tracks #3, 4 & 5.


López, Brandon – “vilevilevilevilevilevilevilevile” – [Tao Forms]

Preston Peace   5/8/2023   CD, Jazz

This young man from North Jersey viciously attacks his double bass on these solo performances. His technique varies between sawing, plucking, and even drumming on the instrument’s wooden body (“Piri”). Agitated hummed vocals accompany “LikeTheEdgeOfAMachete” and “RealBadVibes”, the former reminiscent of William Parker’s “Sonic Animation” with more force and anguish. Some of the textures López coaxes from his strings resemble tormented wind instruments more than a bass. At other times, creaking doors, idling engines, and other nonmusical sources come to mind. On the final track, “The Real Bad Vibe”, it sounds as though his bass might disintegrate under the strain at any moment. A sinister, anxious feeling underlines the entire experience, as though some deep-seated wrong were being suddenly uncovered.

Bad Groupy – “The Last Piece of Graphite” – [Zeromoon]

karma   5/2/2023   A Library, CD

This album is a collaboration between Hamburg-based Kris Kuldkepp and DC-based Jeff Surak. Both are deep in their respective experimental/noise music communities. The album starts out with the short, upbeat ‘Elevator Talk.’ You can almost dance to it. The remaining three tracks slow down and become much longer, sounds are found. Fun and interesting collaboration and fusion of different experimental styles.

Unknown to Known – “Live at the Library Lounge” – [Self Release]

aarbor   5/2/2023   CD, Jazz

Unknown to Known is a quartet with Idris Rahman and Tamar Osborn on woodwinds, Jihad Darwish oscillating between the sitar, double bass and electric bass, and Yusuf Ahmed on the drums and various hybrid percussion instruments. The nature of this band’s instrumentation means that performances can be entirely acoustic or amplified. This was a conscious decision made at conception. This is a live improvised performance amongst the books of The Standard’s Library Lounge in London; spanning order and chaos, science and religion, myths and symbols. AArbor

Myka 9 – “Teleported 3” – [Known Shadows]

karma   5/2/2023   CD, Hip Hop

Myka 9 is an underground hip-hop artist based in LA, part of the Freestyle Fellowship collective, active since the 80s. His innovative flow has been compared to what Miles Davis did to jazz. His lyrics, which are thought-provoking, deep, and require multiple listens, have been compared to De La Soul. This is the third of a four-part series based on a sci-fi horror comic. The instrumentation is done by the talented Bay Area-based Freematik, who has collaborated with Myka 9 on many projects in the past. The instrumentation and lyrics transport you into their world, and show the gift both of them have for transcribing their worldview into introspective song. This is thoughtful hip-hop that proves how rap is one of the purest forms of poetry set to music.

My favorite tracks are Chronix, Cold, and Sensei.

Rival Prostitute – “Acid Bird” – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   4/26/2023   A Library, CD

Monstrous Mysterious Noise-Wall

One giant slab of ugly feelings. Sounds like the death throe of a server room and what Albert Fish would do with a string quartet if it were made up with 6 year old children (both genders!) as they all are buried beneath an avalanche of Fiat 500’s… for an hour and nine minutes. Or maybe it’s like watching Tetsuo Iron Man on brown acid after seeing Motörhead without ear protection. Perhaps the perfect harsh noise album, it even has skulls on the cover. Mind yourself Tina, this is one angry beast. Unless you need a smoke break, and then you’ll have just enough time to get yourself to and from the inimical backveld of Lot 6… just scrape the butts out of your combat boots before returning to building 6200, you filthy degenerate.

No data is available.

No FCC’s

No remorse.


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