Music Reviews

Kennedy, Jon – We’re Just Waiting For You Now – [Tru Thoughts]

Thee Opinataur   11/29/2021   A Library, CD

Released in 2001, ‘We’re Just Waiting For You Now’ was Jon Kennedy’s first and only album for Tru Thoughts. Jon was a drummer and multi-instrumentalist before he began experimenting with samples. His take on downtempo breaks is unique, combining elements of jazz, sitar, ambient techno, live breakbeats, guitars, abstract vocals, and melancholy samples. The album is a chill-out, funky production, laying cool melodies over laid-back beats.  

Born and bred in Stockport, UK, Jon was discovered by Mr. Scruff who in turn introduced him to Tru Thoughts. Fast forward 20 years and Jon is now residing in Prague running his label The Jon Kennedy Federation. 

Thee Opinataur

Men In Grey Suits – “Village Eater” – [Self Release]

Cousin Mary   11/27/2021   A Library, CD

Another great album from this Hawaiian surf band. (Men in Grey Suits is a surfer term for sharks.) Very well played, composed and arranged. Lots of variety in tempo and mood. Their debut album “Return of the Cnidarians” got lots of play on KFJC and I expect the same for this one.

Godspunk Volume Nineteen [coll] – [Pumf Records]

Thee Opinataur   11/25/2021   A Library, CD

Yet another fine compilation, straight outta the northern seaside city of Blackpool. Produced by PUMF records founder Stan Batcow who also performs with Howl In The Typewriter on this comp. A very diverse set of tracks with varying styles consisting of Electronic, NeoFolk, Experimental, Techno, Prog Rock, Spoken word, sound collage, psyche rock, abstract and more. Palate of many colors, surrounded by a considerable amount of melancholy. Bands/Artists: UNIT, AWARE, Nil by Nose, Dr. Awkward, The Golden Gonk, Flux of Yellow Daisies, Shy Rights Movement, Howl in the Typewriter, The Large Veiny Members. 

Government Alpha / Scum – “Swamp Attack” – [Oxen]

whngr   11/18/2021   A Library, CD

Acerbic Power-electronics from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Tokyo’s Yoshida Yasutoshi of Government Alpha and Xerxes Records performs under his sage name Carbonic Acid with and without Sou Inomoto of Scum and Slug Tapes, also of Tokyo, unleashing a torrent of demented, careening electronics, either in collaboration or complicity, generating horrifying atmospheres of cataclysmic proportions. 

Peals of electronic noise and impassioned strife.

Delirious wrathful fountains of crushing electronics, klaxons, sirens, fear, danger, the madman is home and his prey imprisoned in the darkness cowers nude, battered, and broken in a futile attempt to hide from the punishment they know they are about to receive. But the only respite is deep within the mind… and that nut was cracked weeks ago.

Apply this sonic firewall of terror upon the listeners you hope to eliminate from your meagre audience… and potentially attract the unhinged and apoplectic.

The machine screams.

Japan – 2021

Badmarsh & Shri – "Dancing Drums" – [Outcaste Records]

aarbor   11/17/2021   CD, International

Debut album by Badmarsh (Mohammed Akber Ali from Yemen) and Shri (Shrikanth Sriram from Mumbai, India) recorded in 1998 on Outcaste Records. Badmarsh (which means rascal in Hindi) is the “producer” and Shri is the drummer. The label created the group thinking their skills and sounds would work well together. The sound is drum ‘n bass, hip hop, Indian classical and jazz. “We wanted to make music that moved you on the dancefloor as well as at home. Everything had to be emotive, whether it made you angry or made you swoon. But it also had to be funky. We wanted it to be about feeling rather than thinking – that was our vision.” They definitely succeeded. AArbor

Tango Fusion Club Vol. 1 [coll] – [MDR Records]

aarbor   11/17/2021   CD, International

What Gotan Project started in 1999 with La Revancha del Tango, continues in both Europe and South America during the next decade: updating the sound of tango with electronic instruments and hip hop beats. The Tango Fusion Club formed in Munich in 2000 is a fine showcase of updated tango tracks. All tracks are worth playing, the standout is track 7 “Bandoneon Acorazado” which means fortified or armoured bandoneon. Bandoneon is the type of accordion used in tango bands. Not to be missed! AArbor

King Champion Sounds – "Between Two Worlds" – [Hive Mind Records]

humana   11/17/2021   A Library, CD

The “Sounds” part of this band’s name is so appropriate, given all the great sounds and genres represented on this album. The band itself is remarkable with its guitars, percussion, horns, vocals, and vibraphone (check out “Libra Libra Libra”). “This Monday Friday” is a real treat. Add to the band an amazing array of guests (listen to Mia Doi Todd on “Remembering Easby Abbey”) and you have a winner with something for everyone. I particularly enjoyed the first half of the album, although all of it is great.

Cult Leader “A Patient Man” [Deathwish]

atavist   11/16/2021   A Library, CD

Cult Leader work through their pain with two distinct aesthetics on A Patient Man. Tracks 1, 2, 6, 7, 8: Raw and unyielding, pummeling onslaught, hardcore and metal mashed up in mathy structures. Pushed into the red, vocal chords strained to the point of shredding, whiplash chord changes, washes of screeching guitars. Tracks 4, 5, 9: sullen, sorrowful, almost plaintive ballads with rich, clean, baritone vocals. Tracks 3 and 10 are sort of hybrids of the two aesthetics, mixing the slow and mournful with the spitting fury. Crystal-precise engineering throughout by Kurt Ballou (the Converge guitarist who runs Godcity)—you’ll feel the bass strings rattling under your molars. FCC track 6.

Vengeance Space Quartet “The Decaying of The Year” [Live Bait Recording Foundation]

atavist   11/16/2021   A Library, CD

Semi-improvisational jams recorded over a three-hour period in 2016 that are intended to resemble the Cleveland band’s inebriated live offerings. It kicks off with a few minutes of slowly building, kinda eerie sounds, and by minute four, the track “White Dwarf, Red Giant” is pretty heavy and getting into some doomy dirge. Track two, “Parting Shot”, picks up the pace a bit. Muddy, a bit of grit, jangles, frayed nerves. Driving, pounding drums. They don’t shy away from noisier passages, frequently unleashing a nearly incoherent din as synths and processors pile on top of manic strings in “I’ll Take Trouble for 3”. Track four, “This Is Not a Time for Reflection”, has a pretty nice epic-feeling riff to open it up a bit. It’s a bit of a clarifying agent after track three’s cacophony. Strange near-atonalities, music on the verge of falling apart. But fear not, the year is decaying but the music is hanging in there (by a thread in some cases). Track five, “Mini Malice Ring”, is another slow builder that falls into a laid-back stroll with eccentric deviations. About 10 seconds of silence conclude the track. They wrap up with “Lurking Down the Drain”, in which a heavy riff is tempered by clanky malfunctioning machinery feels. Are there FCCs on this track? I honestly can’t tell. VSQ’s willingness to do things their own way makes for some unique sounds. Some of it’s pretty murky and doesn’t always land, but that’s actually what makes it work. Three tracks are 10–11 minutes long and the other three are about 6 minutes long.


carsonstreet   11/16/2021   A Library, CD

Live 2021 (after a 12-year hiatus) at Vienna, Kramladen! Interkosmos meets from time to time to participate in festivals without having a very solid structure. The project produced one album in 2009 which is full of spacey improvisations headed by Sergio Ceballos’ fantastic guitar work. Described as an intergalactic psychedelic space jam band. Sprawling space sounds tell stories of far galaxies – the music fuses single instruments into each other and the sound gets a swirly acid madness. What matters is the flow. A wonderful soundtrack for a journey to the vastness of the inner cosmos. Kick back and relax this is gonna be fun.

Bandt, Ros – "Medusa Dreaming" – [Hearing Places]

Ms. Conduct   11/15/2021   A Library, CD

A sound sculptural homage to water and dreams, Medusa Dreaming, enacts the aboriginal dreamtime in this aural prayer to the hydrosphere. Recorded as a live performance in the Byzantine Basilica Cistern by Australian environmental sound artist-sculptor, Ros Bandt and the Medusa Ensemble. Bandt construes a menagerie of ghost whistles, flutes, harps, shells & shakers, ethereal vocalizations and other improvised electroacoustic ambient noise to incant and resurrect water spirits from the ravages of the Anthropocene. This site-specific composition draws source from its locale—an underground water palace beneath Istanbul, Turkey—reconstructing a ‘sonic archaeology’. Glass tears from the ceremonial cistern. Aeolian harps are plucked by crimsoning fingers at the bottom of Lake Mungo. A Rimu tree’s ultrasonic growth bends into the hydrophone stream of frenzied carp feeding in waters beneath the live performance audience.  Welcome the drown ceremony as Ophelia and enter this bathy-spheric hallucination.

Glands of External Secretion – “Chronic Pussyfooting” -[BUFMS]

SlartiBartfast   11/15/2021   A Library, CD

Glands of External Secretion – “Chronic Pussyfooting”

Stepping off the gang plank of the starship into outer space you realize the sonic Secretions from an External Gland are taking over your fading consciousness. You float helplessly in the vacuum of dark matter as the duo of Barbara Manning on guitar and S. Glass on elect., synth, and tapes send you out on a cosmic journey. You realize oxygen doesn’t matter. The whizzing in your ears are the countless cosmic asteroids transmitting the hypnotic music from distant pulsars. Chronic Pussyfooting emanating from the depths of space providing just enough oxygen for sensitive ears to receive, and don’t worry, the pain in you sciatic nerve will dissipate in due order. Just give it time….and don’t forget the catnip….

Hey!Tonal – “Hey!Tonal” – [Computer Students]

mickeyslim   11/5/2021   A Library, CD

Hey!Tonal is the project of Kevin Shea, Theo Katsaounis, Alan Mills, David Davison, and Mitch Cheng. Recorded instrument-by-instrument over a period of two years in places across the world, each composition is filled with meticulously arranged, lush, mathrockin’ polyrhythms and polymelodies. The tracks were composed based of the drum track expertly executed by Shea and recorded over multiple times. The playful guitar work of Mills, Davison, and Cheng is mesmerizing, almost hypnotic. Because of the multilayered melodies, it’s rather easy to find yourself lost, following one melody then the next, twirling in atonal circles, but you never get dizzy. Katsaounis provides electronic accompaniment that fits perfectly among the madness, droning, tweaking, squirking, glitching exactly when it needs to.

Absolutely fantastic piece that, despite its avante-garde approach, is really quite accessible.

Von Till, Steve – “Harvestman – 23 Untitled Poems” – [Neurot Recordings]

mickeyslim   11/4/2021   A Library, CD

Absolutely fantastic spoken word poetry of Steve Von Till of Neurosis fame.

While this is titled “23 Untitled Poems,” because of similar thematic elements, I would absolutely consider this one large piece of 23 parts. The poems are even collected into 4 tracks, each manipulated in its own unique way. The first track (parts 1-5) is Von Till’s voice only. His voice, as you can probably imagine, is smoky, gritty, aged like a fine milk. The remaining tracks (parts 6-12, 13-18, 19-23, respectively) include subtle electronics in the background, found sounds, etc. and Von Till’s voice is manipulated. While the sounds on here are very nice, it’s really the words and voice that are the feature here. Themes of fragility, sorrow, loss, being made of stardust, and a lot more. The words to these poems are printed inside.

Very cool, don’t miss!

Nassif, Thiago – “Tres” – [Foom Music]

bryanchandler   11/4/2021   A Library, CD

Brazilian, Thiago Nassif recorded Tres in 2018 under the production of Arto Lindsay. Sung entirely in Portuguese with a feast for the ears, wild arrangements, catchy songwriting, and an almost DIY emotion.This is a fun recording. Rock, electronica, noise, the key players on this are major players in Brazilian Music.

PAN Project – "PAN Project" – [Neuma]

aarbor   11/3/2021   CD, International

PAN Project is an ensemble rooted in the Chinese, Korean and Japanese music traditions. The word ‘Pan’ in the ensemble’s name is taken from the Korean music-storytelling tradition ‘pansori’ which means to gather. The PAN Project is about gathering and telling stories through music and performance. The tracks here draw on the intercultural music traditions of East Asian instrumental performance, ritual and theatre, as well as modern influences: improvisation, Western composition and technology. The PAN Project was co-founded and is co-directed by Korean piri master gamin and American composer-performer Jeff Roberts. The sound is timeless. It’s old, it’s new, it’s borrowed… AArbor

Fourth World Quartet – "1975" – [Cuneiform Records]

aarbor   11/3/2021   A Library, CD

The Fourth World Quartet is Ann Arbor’s Miller brothers: Roger, twins Ben and Laurence, plus their school friend Jack Waterstone. This quartet is not a traditional string quartet, or a traditional rock or jazz outfit. Instead Roger plays piano and percussion, Ben plays electric guitar and alto saxophone, Laurence plays bass clarinet, and Jack plays alto saxophone. Lots of reeds plus a guitar vs. piano and percussion. Each member of the quartet has composed at least 1 track on the album. [Track 9] Tnoona is Laurence’s arrangement of a Roscoe Mitchell piece and [Track 11] is Roger’s arrangement of Igor Stravinsky’s Renard the Fox. Transformation of Oz [track 3] was later recorded by Roger’s band Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. Recorded in 1975 and released this year on Cuneiform, this music is both composed and improvised. At the time, as Laurence tells it, they were engaged in freeform rock improvisations and had started their first all-original rock band Sproton Layer in 1969. They would see the MC5 at a free concert in the afternoon, then head over to the University of Michigan to hear Stockhausen at night. This is never-before heard music from a pivotal time period in their music development. The Fourth World Quartet knocks over some serious creative barriers – way ahead of its time. AArbor

Ethiopian Urban and Tribal Music [coll] – [Sub Rosa]

Medusa of Troy   11/2/2021   CD, International

This 2-CD set of Ethiopian folk music was released in July 2020 by the Sub Rosa label, but the songs were originally recorded in 1971. Even though the album title makes reference to urban and tribal music, all of the songs are very stripped down – some with just a single instrument, others with one instrument and one voice. There are a couple of group chants, but nearly all of the songs are on the quieter side. The liner notes are unclear, but it has the feel and sound of field recordings – no amps, no studio effects, just traditional instruments and voices on traditional songs – some explicitly religious, some based on poetry. Mary Armeede’s “Fanno,” on CD2, is the longest track and has a bluesy feel that brings to mind early Mississippi Delta blues. “Wub Allem” (translated as “Beautiful World”) is the most energetic track but is not particularly loud or raucous. However, no dirges, either – just spare, lovely music on the slower side.

Eydis Evensen – BylurXXIM Records

Medusa of Troy   11/2/2021   A Library, CD, Music Reviews

Bylur is Icelandic composer & pianist Eydis Evensen’s debut album and it doesn’t slay – it quietly slips into your interior space and slowly adjusts your mood. Tranquil and lush are the easy and trite ways to describe it, but it doesn’t make it untrue. If you’re a fan of solo piano, there’s a lot to like, but some pieces also have violin, viola, cello, double bass, trumpet, and trombone. The penultimate track, “Midnight Moon,” also features the voice of GDRN singing in English (No FCCs). Somewhat reminiscent of Olafur Arnulds, but lighter and sweeter. Music to reset your brain during and after fractious, tense periods.

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