KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

AMK – “Super Panoramic Stereo Sound 5000” – [PACrec]

lexi glass   4/29/2020   A Library, CD

Twisted turntable insanity from AMK, the SF-to-LA-based noise artist who has conjured chaos from old record players and cut-and-pasted discs for nearly four decades. Intended to be played in random order, these tracks are utterly unpredictable, from the short segments of silence or surface noise on the untitled tracks, to the stack of thrift store records tossed into a blender and set on puree on “Jamboree” (T3) and “Calypso” (T11), to the simmering noise of “La Post” (T4) or the bounce and blast of “Bull Weevil” (T16). “Il Dome for the Bird” (T18, a live track with assistance from Damion Romero, Geoff Brandin, Erik Hoffman, Jorge Martin, and Bob Bellerue) is a springtime daymare where bright birdsong shapeshifts into an alien avian cheerleading squad that makes perfect dreamlogical sense with the accompanying narration sampled from nature documentary voiceovers. Released in 2007 on the even noisier sublabel of Troniks, PacRec.

Minadeo, Joseph & Brown, Curt – "Wood Land" – [Infraction]

humana   4/28/2020   A Library, CD

These are lovely, spare, melodic atmospheres that are warm enough to bring tears to your eyes. The words printed in the booklet insert offer poetic guides to what you are hearing, and occasional vocalizations seem like features of the overall ambience. There are sounds of piano, bells, and electronics, and it is all beautiful.

Mezzacappa, Lisa Six – Cosmicomics – [Queen Bee]

Max Level   4/21/2020   CD, Jazz

Bay Area composer/bassist/bandleader Mezzacappa writes the material and leads a first-rate ensemble of local musicians. These engaging compositions are jazz-based but draw from many other traditions as well. They take their inspiration from the “Cosmicomics” series of short stories by author Italo Calvino—the liner notes provide elaboration on the story behind each piece. Many of the tracks do lean in a cosmic direction, with titles such as ‘The Soft Moon’, ‘Solar Storms’, ‘The Distance of the Moon’, and ‘The Form of Space.’ The three tracks with ‘Signs’ in the title are mood pieces by way of conducted improvisation. I like the way electronics wizard Tim Perkis lays out for long periods, entering every now and then to enhance the mood with unexpected sounds. Also, for some reason Mark Clifford’s vibraphone sounds like moonlight to me, which seems totally appropriate for this material. Mezzacappa’s instincts always serve her music well and while it is not always obvious, one can often detect a sly sense of humor informing her composing and arranging.

Gendreau, Michael – “Polvo Seran, Mas Polvo Enamorado” – [Public Eyesore]

whngr   4/21/2020   A Library, CD

Danger! Extreme Minimalism


A harrowing experience for dj’s awaits. Can you handle the silence, low levels, and diminutive sounds of equipment failure? Soft low-frequency purrs, machines turning slowly, empty space, a distant dog barking, muffled speech from down the hall, near sub-sonic drone, abrupt crashes of abstraction. Arrhythmic plinks, plunks, bumps, thumps, and clicks. White-noise. Automobile traffic from 9 miles away, android insects, footsteps, infrasonic vibrations, and a decrepit lathe. 
San Francisco based acoustician Michael Gendreau produces four tiny aural engravings that  might cause you to peer at the cd player querulously and consider notifying Engineering about yet another cd player giving up the ghost. However, this is all according to plan as Gendreau’s work on low noise and vibration for buildings implies a focus on space and the site-specific sounds produced therein.

Ifukube, Akira – “Atragon” – [Toshiba-EMI Limited]

whngr   4/20/2020   CD, Soundtrack

When you’re freezing kaiju you may want to employ a giant flying submarine/drill manned by a stoic crew of fearless Japanese men and when you want aural accompaniment to the saving of the world from a subterranean race of scantily clad aristocracy you may as well select a composer profoundly familiar with colossi of every imaginable breadth, heft, and height, Akira Ifukube (Ah-key-rah Ee-fhoo-coo-bay). The man behind the scores to Godzilla(1954), Rodan(1956), Mothra vs. Godzilla(1962), Daimajin(1964), and 175 other titles that he wrote before his death in 2006 along with myriad other compositions that were part of video games connected with the films and many other projects that would borrow his works posthumously.
You know the score, orchestral marches, tense viola, timid xylophone, over-blown trumpet, vintage spooky operatic wails, huge resonate cello, sultry oboe, querulous piano, thunderous timpani, worrying organ, shimmering cymbals, terror inducing tuba… all standard fare for the Japanese mega-monster flick by the man whose compositions would become synonymous with the genre.
A powerful and sometimes beautiful soundtrack to a less than amazing film. One worth watching despite it’s dismissable plot and mediocre performances, primarily for the laboriously complex period special effects and a glimpse into yesteryear’s swelling appetite for “blockbusting” science-fiction cinema.

333REDUX [coll] – [No Part of It]

abacus   4/13/2020   A Library, CD

abridged CDr sampler of a massive DVDr data disc release remixing rehashing reconstructing Arvo Zylo’s seminal 333 release. trip mental industrial of the chaotic crunchy variety, plodding soundscrapes of rhythm and noise, concrete crushing beats cracked around the edges. some of the tracks get in to more cut-up, concrete, or ambient even, spiced up with some jazz skronk? this comps got it all, true QUALITY noise stuff compiled by the connoisseur himself. released here on Arvo’s own No Part of It label; if you get a chance, dig up the bandcamp to sample the full release, especially for the complete 35minute Blood Rhythms piece. and if you’re not afraid of long tracks for that matter dig up 333 from our very own library here and maybe do some side by side. the beautiful thing about good comps is I honestly believe there’s something everyone can get down on here, this is the kinda noise that converts folks.

Haters, The – “Mind The Gap” – [Vinyl Communications]

lexi glass   4/1/2020   A Library, CD

Like a tube ride straight into the depths of hell, Mind the Gap is loud, unsteady descent into mechanical mayhem. The three tracks on this 1996 Haters album consist of the sounds of records being stapled together with a staple gun. Each pull of the trigger is amplified beyond recognition, and the noise – continuously spinning in repetitive cycles – seems to rise from the locked groove of a patchwork staple-sutured frankenrecord. On “Mind the Gap #6” (T1), a low sludgy bass pulse hums beneath metallic rumbles. “Mind the Gap #8” (T2) brings in the ambient blur of distorted voices. Just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse, luckily for you, “Things Can Only Get Hater” (T3); the closer stitches the elements of the first two performances together into a hypnotic, twenty-seven minute trance.

Domo/Domo

carsonstreet   3/30/2020   A Library, CD

Formed at the beginning of 2010 in Alicante, Spain. Domo plays psychedelic and electrifying rock. Domo’s music is based on psychedelia and experimental rock. The starting point of their music is “the classical structures of heavy, hard and progressive rock of the seventies”. Lots of doom and sludge here too. Recorded, mixed and mastered in August 2010.

Space Debris/Into The Sun Live 2006 Burg Herzberg Festival

carsonstreet   3/28/2020   A Library, CD

Space Debris is a German band that creates a complicated blend of classic rock jams, Krautrock, space rock, psychedelia and fusion jazz. A Hammond B200 with Marshall amp, Ludwig drums and a special recording technique help create a sound that is creative, experimental and comparable to early Deep Purple and Pink Floyd instrumental music.

New Improvised Music From Buenos Aires [coll] – [Esp-Disk]

Hemroid The Leader   3/26/2020   A Library, CD

14 tunes between 8:22 & 1:38. ESP Disk. Mostly jazz with chamber, electroacoustic & noise. Heavy, not swinging: repeated destabilizations, shocks & devaluation underpin tension, crisis & terror. Mouthpiece sounds, processed audio, silences. Inhabits a unique space, not the usual skronk. Cool book.

Sinneplakken – "Sinneplakken" – [Time Released Sound]

humana   3/26/2020   A Library, CD

The Kleefstra Brothers hail from the Netherlands, with Jan writing the lyrics and Romke offering his guitar and effects. Other musicians join them to create the atmospheric sounds on this CD that are hinted at by the track titles. The vocals are like a voice-over to a fascinating film that is rather dark and haunting. A lot of people will appreciate this.

Blodulv – “III – Burial” – [Eerie Art Records]

whngr   3/19/2020   A Library, CD

Ugly Swedish Black-metal

Straight-ahead mid to up-tempo misanthropic black metal from Sweden circa 2005 book-ended by two abstractions (Intro: vocal-based aggressive noise, Outro: delay-based artifact loop). Gallops, riffs, trem-picked power chords, lumbering, and methodical. Heavily distorted vocals and primitive bXm guitar… might be some bass and drums in there too but they are so buried and weak in the mix they were appear to have been afterthought. The band which may or may not have included a drum machine designated Dr. M (which was dumped for “failing to obey orders”) was subsequently replaced by Mr. Maachinaa and according to AEIFUR (lyrics) in an interview over a decade passed, 

“We have never rehearsed, and we never will. We only see each other once every two months when we get together to record, but then that cold feeling of luciferian(sic) darkness appears almost immediately”

Taking pride in their low quality and antiquated equipment, which must have contributed to the lame recording/mixing of III-Burial, they also appear to revel in their drunkenness , or perhaps they want their listeners to (falsely) emulate their self-destructive behavior to hasten their demise as is their total commitment to the downfall of humanity. Sadly, the band failed to survive that long as the fraying tethers of society wouldn’t truly begin to snap until March of 2020. I applaud Blodulv’s lack of refinement, it harkens back to simpler, punker, times but… they might have benefited by spending a little more time together in the room before they hit ‘record’, though I guess we shan’t ever know. On the other hand perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are today, facing immanent collapse, if it were not for this, the final recording by Blodulv, maybe we’d still marching toward “progress” were it not for their parting shot at a crumbling global civilization.

Diocletian – “Amongst The Flames Of A Bvrning God” – [Profound Lore Records]

whngr   3/18/2020   A Library, CD

Horrifying Kiwi Death-metal

All aboard the good ship Pummel-the-Corpse-in-to-Oblivion! Though on-line sources say that this album marks a step away from Diocletian’s supremacy over the New Zealand metal scene, with the loss of several key members, and a return to their earlier less refined sound Amongst The Flames Of A Burning God is still a powerful missive and a shot across the bow of any metal-clad war-ship upon the seven seas. Diocletian has come under fire by some of their fans and though not quite as epic or as rotund as their previous release (2014’s Gesundrian), this recording is a stripped-down, back-to-basics aural assault, as well as a hefty (if rather short) and terrifying album. A little tech, a little death, a bit of power, a lot of violence, a dollop of doom, and a mighty slathering of war and rage! Fucking christ! These guys are full-on! Blast beating, double-kick thundering, thrashing, pick scraping, solo shredding, guttural bellowing, guttural barking, guttural yelling, a single tasteful pinch-harmonic, and an abundance of not so tasteful (but kinda awesome) trem dives. Which might provide a possible bridge between death metal and power violence or perhaps doom metal and war metal if, like myself, you sometimes like to throw a hybrid into your set for smooth transitions between genres.

Beetlebox – “EP” – [Self Released]

Medusa of Troy   3/11/2020   A Library, CD

Beetlebox is the Seattle-based pianist/composer, EP is the name given to his EP of 4 songs, all utilizing spare, experimental piano pieces augmented by electronic sounds, some ambient, others glitchy. The first track, “Ellipses,” starts off with a classical flourish that then gets repetitive and unsettling, low hums and staccato beats surrounding the piano. You’ll find more discordant piano on “Drum Machine,” with the synthetic drums anchoring the melody. “40 Hours” is avant garde classical with lots of sharp notes, while “Empty Space” is full of alien, droning buzz. Overall, EP has an arthouse sci-fi sound (my favorite); never very loud but occasionally disquieting if you listen closely. Personally, I find it soothing, though not at all smooth.

Jain, Sunny – Wild Wild East – [Smithsonian Folkways]

aarbor   3/11/2020   CD, International

Sunny Jain is the leader of Red Baraat a Brooklyn-based Indian-style street band and an up and coming player in the NYC music scene. When I read that he had a new release on Smithsonian Folkways I was curious, and after listening to the first few tracks and reading the liner notes, I was completely hooked by the passion of this release: it’s very personal- it tells about his life [don’t miss the family pictures in the liner notes]. Jain grew up in Rochester, NY as the child of East Indian immigrant parents. He writes in the liner notes about his confusion in 1st grade when learning about the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and the “Indians”, and the numerous Cowboys and “Indians” stories. Here he plays with these themes: The “Indian” on Western terrain, Cowboys and Immigrants [2]. Morricone and Bollywood [5,6,9], South Asian rebels [7], Spirituality [10], his childhood [8] and other musics which influenced him (jazz, surf, post-punk) [1,3,12] He wonders which side is he on? [4]The music plays with Indian words and instruments mixed into Western songs. On track 4 a Muslim rapper decries the way he’s treated in post-911 America. This is an album that brings tears to my eyes as the child of immigrant parents in 21st century America. Even though my family comes from a different continent, I’ve felt those feelings too. – AArbor  

Purna Loka Ensemble -“Metaraga”- Origin Records

Medusa of Troy   3/11/2020   CD, International

For those well-versed in Indian classical styles, Western improvisation and geometric progressions in music, the album “Metaraga” is a fascinating melding of math and music, eastern and western music. For those who don’t recognize all of the influences within this album, it is an interesting blend of sounds and tempos, with two violins (mathematician-violinist Purnaprajna Bangere and David Balakrishnan from Turtle Island String Quartet), bass (Jeff Harshbarger) and tabla drum (Amit Kavthekar).

The livelier tracks are the first two, especially “Syzygy”. Track 6, “Alabama,” is a cover of John Coltrane’s “Alabama,” featuring clarinet (Robert Walzel). The last two songs of the album are traditional ragas. These are slower, contemplative pieces that fit in cooler, acoustic portions of sets.

Mizmor – “Cairn” – [Gilead Media]

atavist   3/9/2020   A Library, CD

Here lies beauty to pierce your heart with a shard of ice. Here sprawls a desert of jagged cliffs weathering under the wind. Mizmor has demonstrated the ability to create cold atmospheres and skull-rattling, doomed textures on previous works. However, this recording presents a new level of craft and complexity. The end result is something to get lost in, and you may feel like you’ve gone somewhere by the end. Four tracks, ranging from roughly 10 to 20 minutes, and each its own self-contained epic. A colossal achievement.

Ozzuario – Desolation/Destruction – [Distort Discos]

rbanks   3/4/2020   A Library, CD

Hard drum machine bass beats start this album down the hard road towards godless annihilation. A Japanese style obi strip on the CD packaging from this two-headed Chicago outfit is mostly in Japanese aside from a forbidding yet apt collection of names: GISM, BATHORY, THROBBING GRISTLE, SISTERS OF MERCY.

C tightly programs a drum machine that blasts and booms, as well as providing tortured black metal vocals with occasional Sisters of Mercy style gothic flares. They are accompanied by a disciplined yet wildly fuzzy metallic guitar tone flowing from R, a seasoned hardcore guitarsmith. 

A triptych of intermissions (Interzonas 1, 2, 3) flexes the electronic capabilities of this unit. Traditional song structures help to force feed this very interesting mix of underground elements and influences down the throats of any unsuspecting audience. 

Tomb Mold – “Planetary Clairvoyance” – [20 Buck Spin]

atavist   3/4/2020   A Library, CD

Death metal from Toronto. Tomb Mold can deliver mind-hammering heaviness with highly technical aptitude. What keeps me enthralled is the proggy inventiveness applied to the medium. A proper base of brutality is cut through with creative twists on familiar riffs and tropes, often producing what some might call “grooves”.

Track 5 might be the most straight-ahead/conventional track on the album. Elsewhere, you’ll find twists and turns in each track. The first track starts out quietly before delving into the chasm, with a quieter acoustic guitar interlude in the middle. Early favorites: tracks 1, 2, 4, and 7. Track two induces involuntary head nodding with iron-clad riffing. There simply are no flaws in this dual guitar attack. Track 3 is one of those instrumental, atmospheric pieces found on death metal records these days to further the overall narrative. There are glitchy samples with a beautiful, forlorn guitar part playing underneath. If you must know, the lyrical themes and concept for the album cover artwork orbit around extra-terrestrial invasion, death serving as a portal to other dimensions (or perhaps additional, miserable lives), horrific death. Track 7 is a proper way to close out this album—the attack is sustained, unrelenting, the bass and guitars create interesting (dis)harmonies in the riff architectures, and there’s even a massive guitar solo if you’ve found that lacking in your life. Similarly, in a breakdown halfway through track 4, Tomb Mold exhibits the type of riff construction that simultaneously soars and crushes, writhing in that tension between destruction and transcendence.

Vicissitones – "Vicissitones" – [Self Release]

Cousin Mary   3/4/2020   A Library, CD

A fine four-piece surf band from Ann Arbor, Michigan gives us 8 tracks of rocking instrumentals. Good arrangements, original compositions, some leaning toward lo-fi punk. (By the way, vicissitude is defined as “a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant“.)

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