KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Za Frumi – “Tach” – [Waerloga]

whngr   8/2/2020   A Library, CD

Pan flutes and bongos, ambient cave sounds, synthesizers, and Orcish musings. Not sure if they are inspired by Tolkien, World of Warcraft, or both but it is pretty absurd, simplistic, and difficult to sink one’s teeth into. Points for being Swedish and releasing their first album before the Lord of the Rings movies.I was introduced to Za Frûmi when we added “Za Shum Ushatar Uglakh” to the library last year and after hearing to the review but before listening the album I was pretty bummed that I wasn’t the first volunteer to be considered for any and all Orc-synth reviews. I guess they just don’t know me that well yet, I thought. But now that I have been saddled with “Tach” I slightly resent having to absorb and review it. Honestly it is pretty lame, niche, and makes me think about what the night-shift worker at the AM/PM might record when they had to work the weekend of the renaissance fair. That said, it is so far off the beaten path that I find it hard to imagine anyone else trying to add to this extremely esoteric genre. Making it so nerdy and cult that I am obligated to champion (if softly) this project (for a little while anyway). 

Namanax – “Cascading Waves of Electronic Turbulence” – [Release Records]

whngr   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

Namanax is mid-weight to harsh electronic noise from James Plotkin (O.L.D., Khanate, et al.), Bill Yurkiewicz (Exit-13, Pica, Purge), and Kipp Johnson (Also of Purge, Candiru, Elixir) and all three are in Solarus.
Track 1 is pretty intense, unrelenting and relatively short (11:39) when measured up against the second track (47:01) which has a trembling pulse that stretches through its entirety. There is some structure to the dissonance, white-noise, and near subsonic sounds that act as a beat of sorts. Hypnotizing and methodical with intermittent jarring stabs of crunchy noise. Again, after a while I begin to hear voices but they come from within my brain as this kind of repetition has a way of exciting my language center. It seems though the words lack meaning they allude to self preservation and perseverance.

Leya – “Flood Dream” – [NNA]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

Lugubrious music perfect for midnight hauntings from ghosts who mean no harm. Marilu Donovan’s harp and Adam Markiewicz’s violin and vocals combine in unsettling fashion to create a somber atmosphere that will echo long after the last musical note has sounded.

Brooks, Jeffrey – "Passion, The" – [Innovation Records]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

Minneapolis composer Brooks offers us three tracks featuring Bang on a Can All-Stars and Contemporaneous (both of which are New York City-based ensembles). Each of these works, one considerably longer than the one preceding it, is lively, jaunty, cutting-edge, intense, and adrenaline spiking in the same way you would imagine the sounds of New York City to be. Sonic dissonance that resolves into a creative amalgamate as individual as the listeners taking it in. It will inspire passion, just as the title of the third track promises.

Mr. Elevator – "Goodbye, Blue Sky" – [Castle Face Records]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

Hazy vocals float up through pleasant synth fogs and transport you to a simpler time where mellow pop vibes suffuse your consciousness and relax you. It’s easy to see Donovan’s influence on Tomas Dolas (Mr. Elevator) and his music. There are some slower songs on here, and they’re fine, but try “Alone Together” and “Anywhere” first.

Foon, Rebecca – "Waxing Moon" – [Constellation Records]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

There is a simple beauty to these songs composed and performed by Canadian cellist Foon. She is as adept at creating the mellow soundscapes of tracks such as “Ocean Song” and “Pour” with her piano, voice and drones as she is with her signature cello (heard to great effect in “Ocean Song”). We have releases by Esmerine, one of her finer collaborations, in our library, and this is an excellent addition as well.

Parker, Maceo – "Soul Food – Cooking With Maceo" – [Funk Garage]

Sir Cumference   7/29/2020   CD, Jazz

This is the first studio album in eight years from this legendary sax machine.

Covering songs from Dr. John, The Meters, Allen Toussaint, Aretha Franklin, Prince and even a couple of his own back catalog, Parker seasoned his funk with talent from around New Orleans where the album was recorded to give these tracks a little of that big easy sound.

Maceo’s version Prince’s “Other Side of the Pillow” really gives off a Ray Charles vibe – which is apparently what he set out to do! And speaking of Ray Charles, the track Hard Times – originally performed by Charles’ sax man, David “Fathead” Newman – and the final track “Grazing in the Grass” (along with “…Pillow”) are more towards the soul and jazz end of this album’s spectrum, with the others leaning towards the funkier edge.

Nothing earth-shattering in this release, but some quite serviceable tunes to get us through these interesting times.

Skin Crime – “Ghosts I Have Been” – [Hospital Productions]

whngr   7/24/2020   A Library, CD

Crunchy crackling, skittering swells, humming, pulsing, peels of feedback and drone with rumbles, shimmers, thumps, and carefully controlled chaos manipulated for meditative sojourns through inner space. It’s atmospheric, it’s noise, it’s brooding and pensive but it isn’t harsh, more S9K than #6 but basically sounds exactly like KFJC. A little spooky, a bit hypnotic, with some worry and some irritation but the scope of these relatively sparse sounds is varied and no sound stays around for very long, no vibration is left alone. Much like I often prefer to be. Nice and alone. A bonus half tear for the literary cover art which appears to be a modern rendering but seems to venerate antiquity. 

Skin Crime is Patrick O’Neil (and sometimes cohorts) who runs Self Abuse (New Hampshire), and sub-labels: Murder Series, Solipsism, and Terminal Ward. While represented in the library on a few collections including the RRRecords 500 compilation (Locked Groove #356), it is curious that we don’t have quite a few more recordings as they have released at least forty-two (42) to date.

King Kwela Featuring Spokes Mashiyane – "King Kwela" – [Artone]

aarbor   7/15/2020   CD, International

King Kwela is Spokes Mashiyane, a master of the Penny Whistle from South Africa. As a young child he tended his father’s cattle and to fend off boredom became a master of the reed flute. When he moved to Johannesburg to work as a domestic servant, one of his first purchases was a penny whistle which he mastered as well. While jamming on a street corner he was spotted by a talent scout. Don’t hesitate to play this – all  tracks tuneful and worth a spin. AArbor

Rita, The – “Living Dead Girl” – [Amethyst Sunset]

lexi glass   7/15/2020   A Library, CD

2020 CD reissue of a 1998 self-released cassette from The Rita, the long-running Vancouver harsh noise project of Sam McKinlay. Two dense, dynamic 15 minute tracks follow the reanimation of a lifeless corpse: female form rising from the earth, malevolent life force circulating beneath layers of shredded flesh, a lifetime of suppressed screams erupting from lungs filled with mud. From Ohio experimental label Amethyst Sunset.

Nakatani, Tatsuya -Monochrome [Self Released]

Max Level   7/7/2020   A Library, CD

Percussionist Nakatani, whose solo releases are invariably live recordings with no overdubs or sound processing, takes a different approach here: He made hundreds of recordings of bowed gongs (17 of them to be exact) and “arranged them on the computer to build the compositions.” Resonant, singing metallic drones layered in different ways makes for an interesting listening experience. If you’re a fan of Nakatani’s Gong Orchestra project, you will love this. Mastered by James Plotkin, whose name attached to any project immediately gets my attention.

Boone, Benjamin With The Ghana Jazz Collective – “Joy” – [Origin Records]

aarbor   7/1/2020   CD, Jazz

Benjamin Boone is a  saxophonist, composer, and Professor of Music at California State University Fresno. He was a Fulbright Scholar to Ghana from 2017-18). He grew up in the small textile town of Statesville, North Carolina, the youngest of five sons. “My brothers pursued history, literature, art and biology, so I have always gravitated towards interdisciplinary projects,” he says. “I like to make artistic statements that address culturally relevant topics …” While he was in Ghana he performed with the musicians on this release: Bernard Ayisa (tenor sax), Victor Dey, Jr. (keyboards), Bright Osei (bass), Frank Kissi (drums) and Sandra Hudson (vocals). This recording was made the week before he left Ghana. Tracks 1, 3, 5 and 6 are Boone’s compositions, the others are his arrangements. Boone says: “In Ghana music is participatory, egoless, and woven into the very fabric of existence. People live with joy and make music with joy.”

 AArbor  

The Apollas – “Absolutely Right!” – [Kent Soul]

cadilliac margarita   6/25/2020   CD, Soul

 Originally called The Lovejoys, The Apollas were considered the Warner Brothers equivalent of the Supremes. Beginning in the early 60s as a quartet from The Bay Area, including one male singer, Ronnie Brown, they eventually ended as a trio anchored by the powerful growl of Leola Jiles. By her side was Ella Jamerson, and a rotating 3rd member (Originally 17-year-old Joann Forks, then Dorothy Ramsey, Billie Barnum, and briefly Blondell Breed). WB released their music on their short-lived LOMA soul imprint, before converting them back the main label for the remainder of their contract. During that time, they opened for Barbra Streisand and the Monkees, and performed on many nationally syndicated TV shows. Towards the end of the 1960s they toured extensively in Asia. The group called it quits in the early 70s due to a failure to break through commercially. Dick Glasser, who signed Jiles to a solo contract (stop me if you’ve heard this one) then promptly refused to let her audition under fair terms as the new lead singer of the Supremes, dashed her hopes for a mainstream career. However, the group singles found a new and enthusiastic audience in London’s Northern Soul scene. Since disbanding, all members have continued to perform as professional back- up singers, along with occasional solo tours, and most recently a reunion in UK in 2007. This is wonderful. A nice mix of upbeat RnB rockers, soulful strings, and melancholy heartbreak. Leola Jiles spectacular lead vocals burn hot and are very distinctive and memorable in my book. I’m glad we have the opportunity to share this collection, which includes some of Jiles solo cuts, with our listeners.

Nnamdi – “Brat”

cadilliac margarita   6/25/2020   CD, Hip Hop

Nnamdi – Brat

Chicago based, multi- instrumentalist. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from UoC, so I’m guessing the expertly layered production values his 4th studio album is his own doing. He also the founder of Sooper Records (The label this record is on) and has been in too many bands to count. He has presented us with a great mix of Avant pop, jazz, folk, hip hop, electro-soul. It’s gorgeous, lush, and dreamy. His vocals are soft and floaty—a understated falsetto, with *maybe* a touch of autotune. This is pretty emotionally sexy. We it have filed under hip-hop, but it would fit under soul or A as well. CLEAN COPY

MaHaWaM – “Is An Island”

cadilliac margarita   6/25/2020   CD, Hip Hop

Gender non- conforming Queer Black artist from Oakland. This immediately stood out to me because of the obvious danceability of the music, but also because of the way they weave deeply personal & confessional lyrics through the electronic beats. The consciousness here—of self (in the wake of a HIV diagnosis), the new reality of their world, the universe itself, is all on display. At times its extremely meditative in a drug fueled journaling kind of way, and a reminder that even extreme pain can still see flashes of joy through light and movement. MaHaWaM, aka Malik Mays, grew up in a Religious Family from the East Coast before they relocated to San Antonio, and eventually Arizona, where they studied Creative Writing and Music in 2012. Although I would consider this experimental electronic Hip Hop, the influences of R&B and Gospel, and an early interest in Classical music and poetry is all evident in their work. They have lived in Oakland since 2013. FCC on tracks 3-5

Stone Rebel/A Plain Full of Stars COLLECTION

carsonstreet   6/24/2020   A Library, CD

This band is from France but other than that there is not much information about them available.  A Plain Full Of Stars is a collection of tunes from their other albums. They have 15 releases on Bandcamp. Mostly guitars, bass and drums. Stoner stuff. Their music is great when you need to calm down the swamp critters and turn to relaxing, calming, mellow psych tunes.

Bow Gamelan Ensemble – Great Noises That Fill The Air [Cold Spring Records UK]

Max Level   6/23/2020   A Library, CD

Radical with a capital R. This three-member London ‘percussion’ ensemble were in existence from 1983 – 90. The material on this CD was recorded in 1988. Their live performances were: 1. An unholy marriage of Savage Aural Hotbed and Survival Research Laboratories (remember them?), and 2. Dangerous as fuck. They banged on 55-gallon metal drums—no surprise there, I mean who doesn’t?—but beyond that there was also fire, large amounts of water, steam, lights, huge loud machines crashing, giant pieces of broken glass hanging like wind chimes, iron bathtubs banging together, metal cabinets and lockers suspended and sprayed with a fire hose, whistles, fireworks, all manner of discarded noisy junk… This CD brings us a taste of what they were up to and is quite satisfying. Guest performers include legendary percussionist Z’ev. I can’t even begin to describe how deep and remarkable their concept was. Watch this worthy 16-minute video to see what it was all about: https://fourthree.boilerroom.tv/film/bow-gamelan-offshore-rig. I had no idea. Brilliant stuff.

Fuck U Pay Us – "Live At Cielo Gallery For Melanin Unity Show" – [Self Released]

abacus   6/17/2020   A Library, CD

No wave noise punk patricidal destruction (and not in the father sense, more the white male patriarchy sense). do I still got you? live recordings from this aggressively anti-racist group of black queer women from around the LA area. insurrectionary calls to action for everyone that’s ever been pissed off at things like systemic racism, patriarchy, and exploitation economics. this definitely feels like some pro-looting music, and in the best way. if this offends you, then take a good long look at yourself, this is definitely confrontational so leave your fragile white feelings at the door. but seriously, challenge yourself, lean into it, its supposed to be uncomfortable. FCC on 1,3,4,7,9 and… is Nappy Black Pussy an FCC violation? cuz it shouldn’t be. the title seems to be a reference to reparations, a controversial subject amongst white folks for sure, and whether it takes the form of giving your black friend $10, eating out at black-owned restaurants, or encouraging white people to donate to black-led organizations, there’s always going to be naysayers (except maybe Naysayer?)

DoNormaal – "Jump Or Die" – [Self-release]

abacus   6/17/2020   CD, Hip Hop

damn, you know im gonna dig it when they kick off the album w/ an ELO sample (Tbag, Minor..?) Experimental hip-hop / trap-soul / etc from Seattle originally from California. this falls under the “cloud rap” genre umbrella that fits so well in the PNW – woozy, dizzy, spellbinding. she tags grunge and I don’t think that’s just a geographical coincidence; there’s this raw, unfiltered delivery, she brings all of herself to this and lays it all out there, naked for all to see (not just a reference to the album cover). this is personal, this is real, plain-spoken and direct. she was 24 when she released this and she keeps producing forward thinking, genre bending music. keep an eye out, she’s gonna fly past us if she hasn’t already.

Teatro Satanico – “Tunnels of Set, The” – [Old Europa Cafe]

lexi glass   6/17/2020   A Library, CD

Two discs of underworld explorations from Teatro Satanico, the Italian post-industrial group that dates back to the early 90s. The current lineup is a trio that includes founding member Devis Granziera, accompanied here by members of Novy Svet, Le Cose Bianche and other shadowy figures of the European underground. This album draws from the writings of occultist Kenneth Grant, who described the Tunnels of Set as “a dark web or nocturnal network of paths” that extend through the subconscious mind. The album traces these twists and turns, with each track named for an ancient spirit that resides within the tunnels. Dark ambient echoes, chanting voices and psychedelic synth tones ring through the chambers, as ritualistic rhythms, from slow pulses to dark techno beats (found on T3, T7, T12, T16) quicken the step through the passages. On the final track of the Omega CD (T22), two minutes of silence precede the arrival of a final evil presence. A 2019 release on Old Europa Cafe.

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