KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Unaussprechlichen Kulten -“Sign The Book of Death” -[Apocalyptic Productions]

Lord Gravestench   3/4/2019   A Library, CD

Unaussprechlichen Kulten were one of the sickest bands featured on KFJC’s live broadcast of Nuclear War Now! and Iron Bonehead’s Never Surrender Festival in Berlin last year. The name of the Chilean death metal group is German for ‘Unspeakable Cults,’ and also happens to be the title of a fictional black magic text featured in the works of both Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. U.K. refer to their music as ‘occult death metal’ and it appears to be heavily inspired by Lovecraft’s mythos.

This 2018 CD compilation from a Chilean label contains a limited selection of tracks from U.K.’s 4th album ‘Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X)’ (2017) (t.s 1-3), their 3rd album ‘Baphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath’ (2014) (t.s 4-6), their 2013 EP ‘Lucifer Poseiden Cthulhu’ (t.s 7-8; frustratingly, the compilation leaves off only one song from this) and their 2012 split with the American band After Death (t.s 9+10). The remaining 8 tracks are live material; for most of the live songs a studio version can be found earlier on the CD, although not t.s 14-17.

This is monstrously heavy death metal, akin to a thick black smoke clogging your accursed speakers. Fire follows smoke in touches of strong melody wrought by the dual guitar interplay of ‘Herbert West’ and ‘Joseph Curwen,’ but always with a demented, demon-summoning twist. Many songs begin by grooving around a deceptively simple phrase before revealing the fuller tentacled complexity of their nameless horrors. The grindcore-inspired drumming and Curwen’s deranged Spanish death-gurgles round out this insanely suspenseful take on death metal. U.K.’s gloom-ridden riffs and unforgiving song structure, owing something to both Immolation and Autopsy, make for a style that goes well with Nuclear War Now!’s roster of sulphur-seared diabolical DM artists (e.g. Ignivomous or Dead Congregation)— although these guys have been playing this style for 20 years, which is quite impressive. All Hail true Chilean death metal.

Dynatron – "Aeternus" – [Blood Music]

humana   3/3/2019   A Library, CD

Jeppe Hasseriis is the composer and producer of this ultimate trip of an album (yes, Sal9000, this one’s for you!). Aptly referred to as darksynth, outer-spacey electro ambience, this release is perfect for creating a Dr. Who type of mood. “Escape” (track 6) is my go-to, but almost any of these will do the trick.

Wayfaring Strangers: Ladies From The Canyon [coll] – [Numero Group]

humana   3/3/2019   A Library, CD

This is a treasure trove of folk rock inspired by Joni Mitchell’s 1970 album “Ladies of the Canyon,” so of course I love it. These ladies celebrated the rebirth of folk rock and hail from the canyons of California. Some have religious overtones because they were sung at church picnics; the first features a gorgeous voice of a 19-year-old and lasts for less than a minute; another (track 4) comes from singer who went on to perform in Disney films such as “Pocahontas”; all of them are unique tributes to a genre that will not be forgotten thanks to the researchers who curated this compilation. Great liner notes, too.

Messer Chups – "Spooky Hook" – [Gitaracula Records]

Cousin Mary   3/2/2019   A Library, CD

Here is a winning surf music album from the beyond compare St. Petersburg, Russia band Messer Chups. “Gitaracula” Oleg plays with a complex, wet, surfy, energetic twang. The beautiful “Zombierella” Svetlana on bass and Eugene on drums are an outstanding rhythm section. Mostly original compositions but with a couple of soundtrack references (track 7 and 11) and even a quote of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp Minor (track 4). Outstanding!!

Frisell, Bill – "Guitar in the Space Age" – [Sony Classical]

Cousin Mary   3/2/2019   CD, Jazz

This is an homage to the great electric guitarists of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Represented are surf, blues, psych and exotica as played in fine Bill Frisell style. Purists might complain that the tracks are not like the originals while Frisell fans might find it a bit light weight, but I think it is just right.

Thomas, Irma – “My Heart’s In Memphis: The Songs of Dan Penn” – [Rounder Records]

scottfree   2/27/2019   CD, Soul

Irma Thomas, a Grammy-Award winning contemporary of Aretha Franklin and Etta James who never experienced their level of commercial success, teamed up with Dan Penn, one of the great Southern soul songwriters for this album. And so, I was excited to listen to it. Unfortunately, although her vocals are certainly great, Thomas just doesn’t seem to connect to many of the songs on this album. I felt like I had walked into the lobby bar of a really nice hotel and was listening to the house band and singer. There’s a laid-back modern soul feel that gets too relaxed at times and not fiery often enough. My favorite track is #4, “If You Want It, Come and Get It”, although many others are solid. Overall good, just not as big or great in this effort from 2000 as her prior and later work.

Henske, Judy – Judy Henske The Elektra Albums – [Ace Records]

Naysayer   2/27/2019   Blues, CD

Judy Henske is a singer of blues, folk, country and jazz. Her career was full of connections with big names: she opened for Lenny Bruce, was a regular on tv’s Hootenanny, performed on the Judy Garland show but turned down a chance to be a regular, shared the stage with Woody Allen and is the original influence for Annie Hall, oh and so much more. These two albums from 1963 and 1964 capture a highlight of her career when she tore up the nightclub and coffee house scene coast to coast. She has a brash, boisterous, powerful voice which really work the lyrics and create a tone for the selections of blues and murder ballads. She never holds back with her emotion. Powerful stuff. What is really exciting, though, is her chat before the songs. These are recorded live and the audience loves her audacious, snarky, suggestive intros to the songs. Henske is like a Lenny Bruce crooner, irreverent and stunning, not afraid to go there. A brilliant collection of an amazing singer songwriter. All Hail the other Judy.

Smomid – A Smoment In Time – [S/R]

Naysayer   2/27/2019   A Library, CD

There are times when we luckily come upon something new. It may have been there for awhile but it is new to us. Such is the case of Nick Demopoulos’ project “Smomid”. Standing for String Modeling Midi Device, Nick, initially a guitarist, created smomid as a way for a guitar to interface with a computer. The smomid, along with his pyramidi, a midi device, are homemade instruments that transform sounds in a new way. And they look great. Lights, lights, lights. The smomid looks sort of like a combination of a guitar and one of those synthesizers from the 1980’s that also looks like a guitar. It is a guitar midi controller with all the knobs and buttons necessary to create a multitude of sounds, allowing for samples of tuvan singers and gamelan to blips and bleeps ala the best IDM to what may sound like sitar or stretched out guitar. Add the pyramidi midi devices that go along with it and wow. Talk about psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop. Don’t forget to add the lights, synchronized to send out coded messages to viewers, flashing to the beat of the smomid. Be ready.

Eisenberg, Wendy – “Machinic Unconscious, The” – [Tzadik]

lexi glass   2/27/2019   A Library, CD

Fierce improvisational avant rock from this trio headed by Wendy Eisenberg, a Boston-based guitarist, composer, and member of the no-wave punk band Birthing Hips. When she was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music, Eisenberg was spotted by John Zorn, who connected her with two accomplished players, drummer Ches Smith (of Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog) and bassist Trevor Dunn (of Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Nels Cline Singers, and more) . This 2018 release from Zorn’s Tzadik label is the result of this collaboration. Eisenberg’s bold playing is at the fore, as her strings contort from discordant but familiar sounds into skewed sonic shapes or heavy, electronic growls, like on the noisy opener “The Descent of Alette” (T1, a tribute to the poem by Alice Notely) . The trio’s exchanges begin as dispersed bursts that that build in to intense grooves (T1, T3, T9), loose jams (T5), tangled thickets (T6, T10) or driving attacks (T4, T5, T7). Staggering sounds from this talented newcomer.

Chamber Industrial – Per Bloland – [Tzadik]

Louie Caliente   2/26/2019   A Library, CD

Per Bloland studied music composition at Stanford and now teaches at Miami University. He often composes for an electromagnetically-prepared piano of his own design. The piano has a series of electromagnets placed along different strings, each of which can be driven by audio signal. This allows the timbre, sustain, and dynamics of each note to be controlled, and enables new type of resonance and feedback.

Chamber Industrial contains 5 works for chamber ensemble inspired by a variety of literary works and performed by The Ecce Ensemble. Moods are tense and suspenseful, contrasting delicate flutes and bells with the discordant growls produced by the sax, double-bass, and piano. Bloland evokes the energy of industrial music through abrasive, distorted textures and simple motifs. The electromagnetically-prepared piano is featured on T4, while T2 and T4 are purely acoustic.

Atlanta Blues 1927-1930 [coll] – [RST Records]

mickeyslim   2/20/2019   Blues, CD

Nothing

Nothing is known about Willie Baker, except that he would, as a child, play in Patterson, Georgia and that he may have gone to a Robert Hicks medicine show in Waycross, GA.

Charley Lincoln on the other hand, was born 3/11/1900. He performed with his brother, Robert Hicks (the same as above), professionally known as Barbecue Bob, for many years. After his mother and brother passed away, Charley became a very heavy alcoholic. He shot someone on Christmas Day 1955, and ended up going to prison. He died there of a brain hemorrhage in September 1963.

Atlanta, Georgia blues. One man, one guitar, one front porch.

Tuttle, Andrew – “Andrew Tuttle” – Room40

Phil Phactor   2/20/2019   A Library, CD

Andrew Tuttle is from Australia, but you wouldn’t know it from this enchanting slice of post-Fahey Americana. Tuttle layers his banjo and guitar filigree over luminous drones to predictably trance-inducing effect. On Meterological Warning (T5), he’s joined by viola and prepared lap guitar, while The Coldest Night (T8) sees the addition of electric guitar and trumpet. Soothing stuff.

Spiegel, Laurie – “Unseen Worlds” – [Unseen Worlds]

Phil Phactor   2/20/2019   A Library, CD

Laurie Spiegel is a pioneer in the field of electronic music. In 1973, she began exploring computer music at Bell Labs, where Max Matthews and Richard Moore had recently developed the digital-analogue hybrid GROOVE (Genered Realtime Operations On Voltage-controlled Equipment) system. From this work came the album The Expanding Universe, released in 1980. With its clear tones, open harmonies, and mechanical rhythms, The Expanding Universe presented an optimistic, almost utopic vision of technology. In contrast, Unseen Worlds, created using Spiegel’s own Music Mouse software, is altogether darker and more amorphous, with a focus on texture over melody. Hurricane’s Eye (T7) stacks layers and layers of organ-like tones to create a thick, murky, mass of sound, a modern-day requiem. Check out the frankly-terrifying stabs of noise on Riding the Storm (T9), and DO NOT MISS the epic, 14-minute closer Passage (T12), in which harmonically-rich drones, synthetic voices, and ominous clangings rise and fall evoking the grandeur and power of some strange, cosmic machine.

Raymond, Gwenifer – "You Never Were Much of a Dancer" – [Tompkins Square]

Cousin Mary   2/20/2019   A Library, CD

Welsh born Gwenifer Raymond lives in England but plays American Primitive style guitar and banjo as if she was born to it. Wonderful melodies in her compositions, astonishing technique. Some tunes are simple, most show a virtuosity and polyphony that is almost reminiscent of Bach violin partitas. Oh and she has a PhD in astrophysics. Wow, wow, wow!

Butcher ABC – “North of Hell” – [Obliteration Records]

atavist   2/18/2019   A Library, CD

Nice “South of Heaven” reference. The thick crust presented here will otherwise ward off comparisons to Slayer. Beautifully satisfying, thick, disgusting riffs. Apparently these folks have been pummeling Japan for two decades, so their filth is pretty tight and old-school in an early nineties sort of way. Most tracks clock in at three minutes or less (the shortest track is 1:14). Track 2 is 5:01, and the last track is a protracted grind jam/amalgamation running to 8:36 where the band allowed themselves to deviate from the format employed in the rest of the album.

Dalt, Lucrecia – “Anticlines” – [Rvng Intl.]

Phil Phactor   2/15/2019   A Library, CD

Lucrecia Dalt is a former geotechnical engineer from Colombia, now settled in Berlin, who has previously collaborated with Julia Holter and Laurel Halo. While her early work has been described as “experimental indie pop,” on this album she leaves the “indie pop” behind. Dalt is an exceptionally skilled sound designer, deftly weaving industrial aesthetics into the conventions of minimal electronics. The result is a sound all her own: raw, rough, tactile, but also precise, polished, icy-cold. And then there are the vocals (T1, T3, T5, T6, T9, T11), spoken-sung and subtly processed, they draw you in and push you away at the same time. These are short tracks (1-3 minutes) that nonetheless evoke a sense of geologic time, of a stasis that masks the presence of tremendous power.

Laugh Queens “Bathcolor” [Self Release]

mickeyslim   2/13/2019   A Library, CD

Stephanie D’Arcy is the mastermind on this freshman release from this SF-based project. D’Arcy on guitar and vocals, Ryan Albaugh on drums, Giancarlo Arzu on bass, and Yaryn Choi on keys and providing vocals. Their lo-fi grunge-pop is a slightly off-kilter, head-boppin, house party and you’re sitting in the corner with your head down, all the voices and music faded and muted in the background. First part of the album hits hard, while the last part is not as impressive. Definitely worth a listen!

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