KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Spectral Voice – “Eroded Corridors of Unbeing” – [Dark Descent Records]

atavist   5/21/2019   A Library, CD

Funereal doom passages punctuated by dark (dark!) blastbeat death metal. Heavy, ghostly passages with plenty of added atmosphere. It creates an aura of unrelenting doom. The production is heavy enough for the drums to get murky when the tempo increases, but make no mistake, it should be murky, like tumbling blindly through dark corridors, pursued by phantoms. Excellent guitar sound, with strong guitar harmonization. T3 is an instrumental that incorporates some nice clean guitar work before transitioning completely into a brief space of devolved atmospheric sounds. This sets up T4, with a simultaneously beautiful and despairing guitar line at the onset. Before long, crushing riffs return. T5 has some decidedly strange guitar work going on to begin; we are given the sense that the band will attempt some complexity as the track unfolds. Ultimately it doesn’t end on the most powerful and rousing note, and the first two tracks (“Thresholds Beyond”, “Visions of Psychic Dismemberment”) are probably the strongest. Light it up and let this cast a pall of black doom over the airwaves.

Disen Gage – “Big Adventure, The” – [Noname666]

atavist   5/21/2019   A Library, CD

If you like your instrumental progressive rock sounds seasoned with a dash of accordion, Disen Gage have crafted a sound you might like. Perhaps these 20-year veterans based out of Moscow don’t take themselves too seriously. T3 has some acid jazz freak outs thrown in; trumpet, keys lead the charge into brief moments of chaos before settling back into a relaxed groove underpinned by a thick bass sound. T4 is a standout because the intricate guitar work is so nicely realized. A cello joins, played with feeling but not overstated. T5 has a disco-esque guitar sound in the intro followed by a baffling mellotron (?) arrangement. These musicians are clearly not afraid to go just about anywhere with this genre-bending menagerie. Cue the Spanish-inflected acoustic guitar work, and a goofy keyboard “horn” arrangement that swerves into something almost polka-esque. The rapid changes from genre to genre nearly made me chuckle. Any type of time signature is fair game, whether it’s a waltz or an early-era rock-and-roll drive.

I think I can isolate the synthesizer work as the element that might be most polarizing for listeners; it’s the brand of synthesizer sound that so clearly wants to sound like something else (brass, string ensembles) but so clearly sounds like a tinny, underpowered synthesizer. I started wishing I could just listen to the guitar, bass, and drums and remove the keys entirely.

Throw one of these tracks into your set for a roughly six minute dose of nerdy progressive rock exhibitionism with campy pop sensibilities. Recommended tracks include “Chaos Point”, Enough”, and “Fin”.

Deux Filles – “Silence and Wisdom / Double Happiness” – [LTM Recordings]

lexi glass   5/21/2019   A Library, CD

Deux Filles is the experimental ambient project of Simon Fisher Turner and Colin Lloyd Tucker, formed in the early 80s and recently reunited in 2016. The inspiration for the project came to Tucker in a dream: the pair would become two French teenage girls who forge a friendship after experiencing horrible personal tragedies, together working through their grief with their music. Turner and Tucker fully embodied their alteregos, frumping it up in wigs, bows and pearls for the hilarious album photos (and even one live performance), and developing an elaborate backstory for their doomed characters. The filles released two albums in the 80s – 1982’s Silence & Wisdom and 1983’s Double Happiness – both attracting a cult following over the years, and now widely available again on this 2012 double reissue from Les Temps Modernes.

While the concept is a total joke, the music on these two records is anything but. Both albums offer beautiful, reverb-laden guitar ambience, that recalls the later work of Roy Montgomery or Liz Harris (A1, B1, B2, B3, B6). On Silence and Wisdom, there’s also serenades with whispered French vocals (A2, A5), melancholy piano melodies (A6), and fleeting samples of voices of young girls singing and playing or a twinkling music box (T10). But the mood darkens at times, with chants (A7), ragas (A9), and the eerie flute and voices of the title track (A14). These psychedelic hallucinations intensify on Double Happiness, as sounds and voices, like ghosts from the girls’ sad past, mysteriously appear. Maybe they are summoned by the recordings of spells and chants, hypnotically looping? The duo even tries to lead some chants of their own, and almost make it through with a straight face. But just as the haze feels too heavy, the tension breaks, with the light guitar of “Zacinthos” (B11) or the shimmer of “The Sun on the Sea” (B16).

Jahroom – Cut-Price Goods

carsonstreet   5/16/2019   A Library, CD

Eleven instrumental tracks by Russian trio Jahroom (Alexander N. on bass, Timur D. on drums, Rasel R. on guitar). Guest artists on trumpet and saxophone. Jahroom experiments with several interesting genres including psychedelic, progressive, improv jams and a touch of reverb laden surf. The band has been together since 2010 and they released their debut EP Nyx in 2012, followed by Cut-Price Goods in 2016 and Snegiri in 2017. This double CD contains the Cut-Price Goods album and the Nyx EP. This is some really cool stuff on this record for you metalprogpsychsurfpunkadelic fans.

Khôrada – “Salt” – [Prophecy]

atavist   5/15/2019   A Library, CD

Khôrada is comprised of members of Agalloch, and those familiar with that band will recognize their earnest, despairing songwriting style here. However, this project mixes in some different instrumentation, and has abandoned Agalloch’s ethereal screaming style of vocalization in favor of clean, though pained (and at times anguished), vocals. There are plenty of heavy riffs and kick drum flurries to be found in the high-gloss production courtesy of Billy Anderson, but also quieter, contemplative moments. Beautiful guitar melodies are a real highlight. Throughout, the lyrics grapple with our current era, one marked by unyielding apathy and insatiable corporate appetites at the onset of climate change. Rather than present unbridled fury at the world’s end, the sound has a sadness and desperation shading into resignation. If anything, I wanted this album to take that last step into complete abandon and destruction, but these compositions exhibit considerable restraint.

Moor, Andy / Kyriakides, Yannis – Rebetika – [Unsounds]

Louie Caliente   5/13/2019   CD, International

Rebetika is a type of Greek folk music dating back to the Ottoman Empire, popular in coffee shops, hashish dens, and prisons of the era. Lyrics often describe crime, drink, drugs, poverty, prostitution, and violence. The music is traditionally played on the bouzouki, a Greek instrument with Turkish roots, and can be accompanied by voice, accordion, cymbals, and a variety of other stringed instruments.

Here we have modern re-interpretations of 9 classical Rebetika songs for guitar and electronics from Andy Moor (The Ex) and Cypriot composer and sound artist Yannis Kyriakides. Almost all were recorded live.

Moor’s intricate guitar picking is sampled, layered, and looped. The Greek influence is pervasive, but Kyriakides’ electronic treatment takes it in entirely new directions. Traditional tunes melt into heavy drones. Notes and phrases are deconstructed into sparse collages, then congeal under their own weight into stuttering glitchy rhythms, harkening back to the urban nightlife where this music first took shape. Faint vocal samples (also Greek) heighten the dramatic tension on a few tracks, more like memories of vocals rather than vocals themselves. Love, joy, and sorrow.

Callier, Terry – "New Folk Sound of Terry Callier, The" – [Craft Recordings]

humana   5/5/2019   CD, Jazz

Fortunately for us this man’s smooth as silk voice and beautiful guitar work is making it into the KFJC coffers, because it is indeed a treasure. Recorded when Callier was 23 years old, released a few years later to an ungrateful audience, this sterling collection of mostly traditional folk songs shows off the young musician’s talents to a T. Although he would later be known for his jazz stylings, Callier lends his masterful voice to bring us some nostalgic songs from the fold tradition. Enjoy!

Rembetika: Songs of The Greek Underground 1925-1947 [coll] – [Trikont]

humana   5/5/2019   CD, International

Drugs, passion, jail, disease, and death are timeless subjects, as this 2-CD compilation from the Greek underground proves. Covering a span of 22 years, these folk songs might as well be set in current times, because all the banes of human existence stay consistent. We are self-destructive, addicted, and in need of escape. You don’t have to know what the lyrics say to understand that then, as now, music is one of the most helpful ways to communicate the human condition. “Rembetika” refers to the sound of disparate urban Greek music that have been grouped together since the 1960s as part of the Rembetika movement.

Mapuche [coll] – [Alerce]

Hemroid The Leader   5/3/2019   CD, International

Mapuche, ALERCA CDAE 0334

Early 80s rituals from unconquered Aracaunian (Chile/Argentina) jungle telepaths. Folded branches, rope knotting, & the secret language of triangles. Voices, jaw harps, horns and percussion.

1-6 VOX 7-15 INST

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?

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