KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

World Psychedelic Classics Vol. 3: Love’s A Real Thing: The Funky Fuzzy Sounds Of West Africa [coll] – [Luaka Bop]

Hunter Gatherer   3/28/2005   CD, International

In this amazing compilation released this month (3/2005) from David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label, we are treated to music recorded in West Africa in the early to mid-70s. While the music is surely African in origin, it is under the heavy influence of the Western pop and rock sounds of the previous decade. The result is like hearing James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Latin and Cuban rhythms held up to an African aural fun house mirror.

Of course the very deepest roots of most Western music have origins in the cultures of Western Africa, and maybe this is why these twelve tracks sound so natural and strange and familiar all at the same time. The liner notes do a great job putting this in context, but the gist of it is that cheap record players, imported vinyl, and cheaper studio technology all came together to make this music possible.

All tracks are strong, so picking a track at random is not a bad way to decide. I particularly like 1 (check out the video on the CD, too), 3 (lots of yelps and call-and-response), 7 (in which a bunch of countries are scolded: ‘Do you think this world is yours? Better change your mind?), 8 (this is one of the ‘funky and fuzzy’s referred to in the title), and 10 (a little surfy and with steel drums). 4 is an instrumental.

–Hunter Gatherer

Boom Bip — ?Blue Eyed In The Red Room? — [Lex]

Hunter Gatherer   3/21/2005   A Library, CD

Boom Bip is Cincinnati native and producer/musician/smartypants Bryan Hollon. This is his second full-length solo album, released in March 2005. (He has also released a collaboration with Dose One which we have in Hip hop/CD and a remix album called Corymb (A/CD).)

The music on this album is clean, beautiful, cerebral, and airy (on most tracks at least) electronic music. Above all it is cerebral. You could actually hum along with some of the songs. Live instruments appear (guitar, drum, autoharp, strings), though usually highly processed.

Two of the stand out tracks feature vocals. Do’s And Don’ts starts with a mantra of thou shall not believe/thou shall not be led and launches into a litany of choices one has to make. By the end of the song, the mantra and the litany are buddies. Vocals by Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals.

Another stand out track is The Matter (Or Our Discussion) with ethereal and beautiful vocals Nina Nastasia that contrast with the blunt 5a.m. truths of the lyrics. The song should make sense to anyone who has ever fallen out of love.
–Hunter Gatherer

Willie Hightower — ?Willie Hightower? — [Honest Jons]

Hunter Gatherer   3/20/2005   CD, Soul

Willie Hightower is a largely forgotten southern soul singer who had a too few hits and who is too obscure for the magnitude of his talent. This collection of his work by Honest Jons Records should renew interest in this singer who is still performing today.

This is the third in a series: Check out Candi Staton and Bettye Swann in Soul/CD for more great soul music.

Mr. Hightower has an expressive voice that growls, moans, shouts, croons, and overpowers all arrangements. His voice is like that root beer that says ‘stands up to ice cubes? on the can. The most obvious influence is Sam Cooke. A quote in the liner notes describes his voice as ‘Sam Cooke after a night on the tiles.’ To my ears he sounds somewhere between Otis Redding and Sam and Dave.

The tracks with Fame of Muscle Shoals (1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10) are particularly tasty. Time Has Brought About A Change is an answer song to Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Going To Come. With lyrics like ‘But now I’ve got my pride deep down inside/And no one will ever take it again,? it’s obviously about the civil rights movement. This song, along with Poor Man and If I Had A Hammer, gives a sense of his ability to personalize and express what was going on around him at the time.

–Hunter Gatherer

Santos, Rusty – “Heavens, the ” – [U United Acoustic Rec]

lombard   3/15/2005   A Library, CD

Musician and producer Rusty Santos brings us a pleasant pop-rock album. He’s got emotional, straining vocals and at times spare acoustic guitar and plucking. There’s a nice simplicity to this that gets a bit fuzzier, feedbacky as the album progresses (especially on track 7 “It’s”).

-Cynthia Lombard

Parker,Evan and Peter Brotzmann “The Bishop’s Move” [Victo]

outlier   3/12/2005   CD, Jazz

A circular breathing round tripper, this sextet aurally pleasures you for 73m and it’s FREE ! Supergroup of two free jazz pioneers’ trios who got together in Quebec in May 2003. 2 saxes, piano-Schlippenbach, bass-William Parker and 2 drums-Hamid Drake and Paul Lytton. Schlippenbach provides the center of gravity but his chords never tie down the soloists moves. E Parker and Brotzmann set their horns on fire with relentless wailing that sometimes never stops to breathe. Dual master blowouts are a RARE event especially when backed by rhythmic GIANTS such as these.
3w: FREE YOUR ASSSSS (mind will follow)
– Outlier

Swell, Steve “Slammin the Infinite” [Cadence Jazz]

outlier   3/12/2005   CD, Jazz

HARD BOP with freeish developments, Grachan Moncur (New Africa Suite w/ Roscoe Mitchell, Dave Burrell, Alan Silva and Andrew Cyrille) is my best point of reference. Swell’s compositional style is edgier than Moncur and his trombone work is more modern with a slip and slide delivery. No chatter, some reed screed and blowout ‘bone, but we are slammin the infinite here not regressing to the average. Mateen(tenor sax, alto sax ,clarinet) gives a spirited performance while Heyner-bass and Kugel-drums seriously sustain the energy delivered by the leadmen.
3w: Limitless FREE BOP
– Outlier

Sun Ra and the Myth Science Arkestra “Live in London” [Blast First]

outlier   3/12/2005   CD, Jazz

The good vibes on this recording are infectious. Sun Ra channels the world’s discord and uses the mystical powers of the Myth Science Arkestra to convert this malaise into musical merriment. Ranging from Afro Jazz chaos to spacey intoxicated big band sounds, this set captures the unorganized cohesion that was the magic of the MSA. 1-3 are astral jazz explorations while 4-6 run the old school stride and ballad routines, singing included on 5,7 and 8. Not as out there as “Concert for the Comet Kohoutek” but nobody goes home disappointed.
3w: Cosmic Party Jazz
– Outlier

Messthetics #1 “UK 78-81 DIY bands R to Si” [hyped2death]

outlier   3/12/2005   A Library, CD

Three chord punk and English power pop in roughly equal proportion. Leather jackets – Probably, but not the safety pin in the cheek stuff. Angry, jaded, anti-corporate, anti-government and definitely anti-Thatcher songs that brighten your world by telling you how depressingly awful their world is. But they don’t let their emotions get in the way of a good jolt of electric guitar and snotty vocals. Royston (3) and Seize (19) impress with some clever pop and bash respectively. Ripchords (27) and Reekie (29) are also of note. Nothing quite as enraged as Flux of Pink Indians or slick as Gang of Four but then not much is.
3w: buggered blokes bangup
– Outlier

Invisible Cities s/t [Drimala]

outlier   3/12/2005   A Library, CD

Trombone and clarinet improv interplay that sounds like bird communications. Duo of Steve Swell-trb and Perry Robinson-cl. Musical wandering phrases that alternate and interlace to create swells of lyrical runs that carry the listener to a nature space. First half stays in the pure improv space, last half uses more motifs and set timing to move the pieces. Trombone and clarinet have a playful sound that mimics a conversation in music. Admirably avoids the dixie deathtrap of which trombone and clarinet are vulnerable.
3w: lyrical musical conversations
-Outlier

Giardullo, Joe / Zingaro, Carlos “Falling Water (Live at Mae de Agua)” [Drimala Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/10/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Okay so this duo is really a trio, as the setting for the
sound steals a lot of the scenes. Recorded in an ancient
aqueduct in Lisbon, the amazing depth of this dank palace
alters the timbre of Giardullo’s saxes and especially
Zingaro’s violin to make this album often seem like it is
a communication between hyper-intelligent galactic whales.
Also riding with the extended reverb is fun, so lots of
times a note will drone into a sea of sustain. Slap the
violin’s body and listen to it careen around the cavern
(check #5 for some of that, maybe it is also the fluttering
of Giardullo’s fingering). There are still flights of more
fanciful playing, but the sound comes more often in streaks
rather than flurries. And as such, it is really a wonderful
release. A lot of modern jazz has musicians treating their
instruments and deviously working to pull new sound from
them…the ingenuity of “Falling Water” was to let the
situation instill the strangeness. It is often difficult to
discern who is creating what sound. And that is tremendous!
It would be interesting to hear a recording of just the
instruments, sans the nine-second shadow of reverb, interesting
but not as worthy. Immerse…

Straphangers’ Art Ensemble “Straphangers’ Ball” [Artichoke/Rolling Records]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Real-time improvisational sounds inspired by the subways of NYC; there’s more go
ing on here than you can imagine. My best guess is that Straphangers refers to t
he people holding straps day in and out while mindlessly traveling around the bo
wels of NYC. Eight people on multiple instruments. All home tapers – ideally, th
is would be a cassette release. All headed in far out directions, everyone augme
nting one another despite themselves. This is a bizarre experience for anyone. R
antings, screaming, cacophonous insanity. Heavy use of panning effects in portions.
Echoes, free-form sounds, underlying drones, all blended together in a free-form
manner which could cause you to stop breathing. This was done in one take. Even
though there are tracks listed, the whole thing is one enormous beautiful nightmare.
Hardly a quiet moment to be found in 74 minutes of sonic pressure. Starting off with
the feel of a 300 year old American indian burial ceremony and leading on to
territories unknown. Pot in wherever you like, pot down when you realize that
you’re forgetting to breathe. Definite difficulties await you, are you up for the
challenge?

Puro Eskanol – “Rice and Beans – latin ska underground vol. 2” [Aztlan]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Part DOS of project by a couple of guys from San Francisco on the Aztlan label.
The focus of the album, just like Volume 1 is Latino based ska. Some songs are
in Spanish, others are in Engles. Pick and choose your favorites. Many of the
bands on the collection have been around for more than 10 years. The sounds range
from classic ska, to almost pure latin sounds done by ska bands such as the ”
Skaliente” track by Yeska. Tops are Let’s Go Bowling’s “Esta Noche”, Link 80’s quick
little “El Estupido”, and Hepcat’s instrumental “..Solo”. Don’t stop there though.
All are fine little numbers. Pickit up, pickit up, pickit up!

Resonance Vol. 6 Number 1 [Resonance Magazine]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Equation: choose an adventerous show on KFJC, eliminate all mic breaks, don’t segue
any of the track = this fantastic disc bundled with the Resonance sound magazine – published by the likes of the LMC (London Musicians Collective). Full of
variety and ear tingling sounds. There are experimental sounds here for everyone.
Spice it up. Track feelings are listed below.

1. Tumbling into a bottomless pit – silence for 2 min.- resume your fall.
2. Beautiful Harp and lost church bells
3. Simple drum solo – could track into 4 if you wanted
4. Additional drum solo
5. Quick eastern flavors – very appealing
6. Improv – air, walking bass, guitar, drums – fusion-esque
7. Free jazz sounds pieced together to create a monster. Examine.
8. Quiet, nearly lonely, sax figuring it out
9. Skronky
10. Broken sounds; glue missing; instructions smeared; frustrations
11. Extremely quiet leading to an over modulated psych meltdown

This is Ovenguard, Volume 1 [coll] – [Ovenguard]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library, CD, Format

An Eclectronic (a new word?) Sampler. Behold the inaugural CD release from
Ovenguard Music. Whacked, spaced-out, tape loops, ambient situations, found
sounds, turntables, sound collage, great use of stereo effects, well thought out noise,
deeep basss and insanity all put together in this collection of avant oven guarde
music produced by an troupe of DIY scientists. Wobbly – provides the instantly
catchy insanity. Seattle based Bran Flakes inject humor into the collection by
providing looped beats with the humorous assistance of Charles Grodin, the Beatles
and Mr. Rogers. Known in Bakersfield – simple tryyped out electronic collages and
loops. Space Mesa – takes you on a paranoid tryp to their own world and back
(includes guide, Charleton Heston as Moses). Liar Ball ?’? Involution – an East Bay
outfit checks in with deep bass influenced noise. The Involution tracks were my
favorites. All are great. I believe this CD is one out of 200. It’ll Piss listeners off
because they’re gonna love it but they’ll never be able to find it.
Great for headphones. Experiment.

The Secret Museum of Mankind Vol. 5 [coll] – [Yazoo]

jack soil   3/6/2005   CD, International

24 ethnic musical masterpieces spanning the globe – stops include Peru, Italy, A
rmenia, Finland, USA, India and more. Artists range from small girls choirs, to
soloists to elaborate village orchestras. Instruments include: fiddles, porcelain
cups tuned with levels of water, voice, zither (boxed harp), and syrinx (pan
pipe). Each track was remastered from 78s (with a little work done to get rid of
surface noise – fortunately, some of the surface noise character remains. The
time frame is similar to the last installments 1925 – 1948. This is another
excellent collection and definitely deserves to be in the KFJC library. Nearly
extinct old world sounds for a not so new world order.

Metal Eater – “Virus” [Dephine Knormal Music]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library, CD, Format

So here’s the deal, two guys, Steve Buchanan and Ron Anderson, on multiple instr
uments with some heavy-duty percussionists (Moe! Staiano, Gino Robair, Thomas Sc
andura) sittin’ in to create infectious blasts of symptoms such as: blurred twitters,
contaminated feedback, inflamed scronks, severe rumbles, toxic general noodlings,
damaged scanned materials, dehydrated clicks, and other sonic spores. Definite
jazz roots here. The concept is disease. Black Death, Yellow Fever, Rabies, you get
the picture? I wouldn’t be surprised if the CDC wasn’t after these cats for posing
a serious health risk to the general public. An ounce of prevention ain’t worth
shit here. My suggestion, embrace the virus; vaccinations are futile. Otherwise,
boil for at least 12 minutes before ingestion.

Jazz Jamaica “Double Barrel” [Hannibal]

jack soil   3/6/2005   CD, Format, Reggae

Stretchin it wayyyy out, it’s Jazz Jamaica, the London, England based band, producing
fine jazz/ska renditions of both classic jazz/easy listening and ska tunes. Includes
a brilliant foot-tapping rendition of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By”. This band pays
serious tribute to artists of the likes of Don Drummond, Winston Riley, Charlie Parker
and more. Classics such as the unforgettable Monkey Man are amazing. Toy with
the theme from Exodus, possibly pass on “The Grapevine”. All songs are instrumental
(except for minor exclamations during the first track) and lengthy enough to bead
up a bit o’ perspiration. Re-sole those dancing shoes, Jazz Jamaica now has a home
high atop black mountain.

Gas Huffer – “Just Beautiful Music” [Epitaph]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Full length release number 5 from the industrious multi-talented quartet based in
Seattle (each release comes with a comic penned by the Huffers themselves – also
known as the Del Lagunas – surf band). This is their third and best release on
Epitaph, and, fortunately, they do not sound like an Epitaph band! This a more
mature Huffer, ranging from great quick little pop punk tunes to slower ballady
stuff to even a little du-wop work at the end. Produced by Phil Ek whose produced
some amazing stuff from bands such as Built to Spill. Live, the Huffer play fast
and loud; it’s easy to tell these songs are scorchers when played live.
This record is really good. These guys love to play and this release tells it
all. Fill your can and get a rag.

Earth Crisis “The Oath That Keeps Me Free”

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Earth Crisis, the vegan straightedge band out of Syracuse NY, the epitome of sXe
bands, sets up 12 live massive hardcore tunes that spoil everything in their path.
Total sonic annhilation of anything in their path appears to be be the goal – and
they, without a doubt, exceed all objectives. Check out the first track, Cream’s
“Sunshine Of Your Love”. I’m guessing Eric Clapton never expected this. This is
their first live album; it is a benefit for the father of one of the guys in
the band. Pure, punishing power. Vox are practically indistinguishable; one
track, 11, has a somewhat noticible FUCK. Even if you’re not into their whole
politics/veganism/living drug, alcohol, smoke free, and everything else associated
with sXe, give it a spin. Oppressors beware.

Pauline Oliveros – “Alien Bog/Beautiful Soop” [pogus]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Oliveros completed these two compositions during her year as First Director of the
Tape Music Center at Mills College in 1966 & 1967 (seriously out there for the
time frame) utilizing the original Buchla Box 100 series and her tape delay system
(no accordions on this one). Alien Bog was inspired by a frog pond and its inhabitants located outside of Pauline’s office on the Mills College Campus. The pond is gone now,
but the sounds are here for you to enjoy. Beautiful Soop is a bizarre Alice in Wonderland
narrative accompanied by Ms. Oliveros. What a ride! The sounds are absolutely
beautiful and will put you at one with whatever it is you are near. 2 very long tracks
that are over way too soon.

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