KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Mania – “Little Pieces of Violence” – [Phage Tapes]

Louie Caliente   1/15/2019   A Library, CD

Mania is Texan Keith Brewer, well-known for his psycho-sado-sexual power electronics project “Taint”. “Little Pieces of Violence” is his latest full-length album, released on Phage Tapes.

8 untitled tracks soaked in uncomfortable tension. Surprisingly sparse at first. Echoing rumbles, dragging metal, banging pipes. The pieces build in intensity, exposing the pure hatred and agony within. Piercing screeches. Electronic sizzlings. Feedback enters the mix, followed by screams of rage and horror. The layers compound and magnify. Earfuls of raw aggression. Watch the levels!

Features some nice dentally-damaged album artwork from Brewer himself.

Sista Monica – “Get Out My Way” – [Mo Muscle Records]

humana   1/10/2019   Blues, CD

This CD is a jewel traveling to us from 1995 and debuts the rich, hearty, nourishing voice of blues singer Sista Monica. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll learn that she moved to Santa Cruz. It’s true that her voice is an instrument, and though she is known for her blues, she stirs in elements of soul and rock and gospel (in the last song you can hear her gospel singing roots). This is a great add for our library. Sista Monica may have left the world, but her voice reverberates on.

Voicehandler – “Light From Another Light” – [Humbler]

lexi glass   1/8/2019   A Library, CD


Voicehandler is the Oakland duo of vocalist Danishta Rivero (of Las Sucias) and percussionist Jacob Felix Heule (of Sult, Beauty School, and a collaborator of Bill Orcutt, Tom Djll and many others). This 2018 album is the follow-up to their captivating 2015 debut, Song Cycles. Compared to that record, these three pieces feel fuller and more direct. Heule’s drumming springs out of the gate with rhythms that move from scattered to spare, melding with Rivero’s bubbling electronics and swarming vocals. Her voice bursts with possessed ravings, distorted phrases, throaty utterances, and, at times, resembles free playing on a brass instrument. On T2, Rivero’s electronics gradually transform her voice into an intense, terrifying chorus before vanishing into black static that rumbles into T3. Here, the duo’s conversation is converted into pulses of energy traveling over long-distance lines. But interference creeps in, obliterating everything save for the whispers of a dark spell. Totally magical. (Even more so when witnessed live – they put on one of the best shows I attended in 2018 – so check them out!)

Cluster Lizard – “Prophecy” – [Prostir Records]

lexi glass   12/19/2018   A Library, CD

Cluster Lizard is the duo of Dmytro Fedorenko and Kateryna Zavoloka. Together, they run the outstanding Ukrainian electronic label Kvitnu, but issue their personal work, including this 2018 album, on their own outlet, Prostir. Fedorenko has described Kvitnu’s sound as “blasting experimental music… explosive, wild and rude, so as not to make it background music,” and that’s just what he and Zavoloka achieve on Prophecy, a maximalist, monstrous sci-fi space odyssey. Each of these six long-form tracks moves through moments of quiet beauty, building intensity, and massive surges of raw energy. The signature Kvitnu dark techno rhythms are here, but they are layered with deep, expansive drones, blistering solar-flare synths, and quaking beats. Beautiful, cosmic sounds at a scale that assures you of your total insignificance in the universe.

New Primals – “Wraith” – [Self-released]

atavist   12/18/2018   A Library, CD

This is mathy, angular, high-energy noise rock. Jangly guitar spars with a spazzed-out rhythm section. The vocals stay above the din by sort of shouting, but not screaming. The cd is comprised of six tracks, each coming in right around two minutes or less. It vaguely reminds me of things I was listening to in the early 2000s, like Drive Like Jehu, Decahedron, Dillinger Escape Plan (emphasis on vaguely). Vocals weirdly reminiscent of Polvo. A quick shot of adrenaline to liven up the set.

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – “Worst Utopia Ever” – [BUFMS]

atavist   12/18/2018   A Library, CD

This marks the 13th Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble addition to the KFJC library. The weirdness prevails unabated. Twittering, jittery samples. Shimmers, disassembled spoken audio. Coughing amidst an ambient room mic. Layers of spacey synths, tinny fuzz guitar. Track 2 leads off with “Red pubic hair”, so, that might be an FCC. Track 4 almost has a sort of gamelan element. Crashing percussion in upheaval. Irreverent, unstructured experimentalism abounds.

Bang On a Can – “Industry” – [Sony Classical]

humana   12/7/2018   A Library, CD

Cellos, marimbas, woodblocks, oh my! Composers who are classically trained and yet value uptown as well as downtown elements, minimal jazz within structures that allow for musical freedoms galore. This is what Bang On a Can is all about. Julia Wolfe, Louis Andriessen, David Lang, and Michael Gordon are the composers featured on this unique CD that offers the ultimate challenging listen.

Pentagruel – “Nympidia The Court of Faerie” – [Carpe Diem Records]

Naysayer   12/5/2018   A Library, CD

Are Pentagruel playing something that could be coined Doom Classical? If it exists, this is a great example. We are talking about the effects of the St.Barthomew Day’s Massacre of 1572 where tens of thousands were slaughtered. We are talking faeryes and queens, magyck and melancholy. Wait, this could be a new KFJC t-shirt slogan: Faeries and Queens, Magyck and Melancholy. Pantagruel us citterns, gitterns, lutes, flutes and voice to tell the tales of the time, some dark, some darker, always a bit mystical and questionable. There will be dragons. And as the pictures show, there will be tights and velvet. Teasing aside, gorgeous insturmentation and vocalization take the listener back to a time that feels familiar. Superb and one of my favorite suprprises from this year.

Lester, Julius – “Dressed Like Freedom” – [BGP Records Ltd.]

Naysayer   12/5/2018   Blues, CD

Activist, poet, revolutionary blues singer, musicologist, friend of Fidel Castro, reporter of North Vietnam and so much more. Coming out of the coffee house folk scene of the late 1950’s, Lester’s trajectory followed that of the civil rights movements of many places during this time. Here is a selection of songs from the two albums he recorde. Just him and his guitar. A stunner of a vocalist with lyrics that do not hold back… these are in your face commentaries about the injustices of social conditions directed primarily toward African Americans. Songs of police attacks and profiling, economic disparity, work inequality… it could be today as much as the 1960’s and 70’s. Things don’t always change. Powerful and strong. “Stagolee” is a 13 minute epic equal in quality to Dylan'” and Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant”. Brilliant, sad, depressing stuff.

If the “N” word is considered an FCC then FCC on tracks 7,11,13 and 14.

Sheridan, Eric Shoutin’ & The Uptown Rhythm Kings – “Live Show” – [Big Mo Records]

Naysayer   12/5/2018   Blues, CD

Yowsa. Eric Shoutin’ Sheridan & The Uptown Rhythm Kings are recreating a type of blues band called Honkers or Shouters that came out of the 1940’s. Horn driven, big vocals, hep cat jive stylin’ but done without kitsch. This is serious fun, recorde live at Fleetwood. Sheridan’s vocals take hold and lead the audience into rhythm frenzy with songs about dumping the wife and opening up the back door, if you know what I mean. The band is tight, with horns taking charge. A blast of fun that I could hear on any number of shows. Have fun.

Smell & Quim – “Lavatory” – [Smell & Quim/Milovan Srdenovic Appreciation Society]

lexi glass   12/4/2018   A Library, CD

More filthy fun to wallow in on this 2011 CD from the decades-running Leeds, UK noise collective. Abusive rhythms, excruciating demonic screams, persistent ringing squeals, layers of echoed voices and, at the most unexpected times, snatches of hilarious pop music. The assaults are punctuated by quick intervals of ringing bells, dead air, coughs and phlegm, moans from a low-budget porno, and Hitchcock saying the word “cock” over and over again. Through the 11 tracks, S+Q reveal the depraved underworld of the UK – the sex cults (T9), school shooters (T3), and its most beloved serial killers, as on the T4 Sutcliffe tribute and the Hindley and Brady (very friendly) set piece on T5. The album gets stronger as the it tears on, with the heavy, horrifying dance track “In The Brown Girl’s Ring Piece” (T9), the looping insanity of “Fishy Flirting,” and final sneering onslaught “Sniff Your Fucking Pee Pee” (T11). Totally offensive, disgusting and hilarious, like some of KFJC’s best programming. Not appropriate for any time ever, but you might get away with a daytime play if it’s not T1 T2, T3, T5, T6, T9, T10, T11, all FCCs.

Hedningarna – “Hippjokk” – [Northside]

Naysayer   12/3/2018   CD, International

Swedish and sometimes Finnish folk group, Hedningarna ( The Heathens), came onto the music scene in the mid 1980’s, playing with the songs and sounds of the early Norse, utilizing instruments of that time and building their own variations. Adding electronics for a contemporary twist, Hedningarna have always been able to sound otherwordly and unique but never quaint. There sound rocks, in an electronic old Scandinavian sort of way. “Hippjokk” has just the Swedish trio of musicians without the two female Finnish singers, in an attempt to “draw the connection between medieval Scandinavian dance music and the techno rave scene”. It is so not that to me, just a bajillion times better. It is one of the most unique sounds I’ve heard and I’ve been following them for quite awhile. There is this Arabic style influence and then cranky sounds that remind me of hurdy gurdies but not. Beyond toe tapping – full on body bumping. Skal.

Kucheida, Francoise – “De La Scarpe a La Seine” – [Saravah]

Naysayer   12/3/2018   CD, International

Francoise Kucheida is a French blues singer, whose strong vocal style reminds one of the past greats of French chanson but who adds her own richness to interpretation to classic French standards and newer songs. These are not just about love, but about struggle, the people struggling day to day, which can also be about love. Accompanied by accordion and guitar on many tracks, these songs are rich with emotion and beauty. Light that cigarette, pour yourself an aperitif, sit back and listen to the sounds of the Seine in the distance.

Gainsbourg, Serge – “Aux Ames Et Caetera” – [Philips]

Naysayer   12/3/2018   CD, Reggae

Serge Gainsbourg, French sex icon and sultry singer of suggestive French pop tunes decided to put together a reggae album back in the late 1970’s. Pulling in the magic of Sly and Robbie, The I Threes for background vocals, many studio reggae greats and recording and mixing at Dynamic Sounds Studio, Gainsbourg nails it track after track. The propulsive bass lines and smooth backing vocals are a perfect match for Serge’s cigarette filled, raspy low tone almost monotone singing. These songs are most probably not about Jah. Most assuredly the pinnacle of a period yet so timeless. Get sexy.

Mehndi, Daler – “Ho Jayegi Balle Balle” – [Magnasound Records]

Hemroid The Leader   11/28/2018   CD, International

Convicted human trafficker with a Coke endorsement deal. Second-place finish, Voice Of Asia! This dude has been to lots of places. “Another punjabi pop bhangra foot-tapping musical album which make people go gaga. The highlights of the albums are its real catchy lyrics and the loud enjoyable folk music.Surely be likeable by the punjabi pop lovers.Surely, check this out.” — Amazon reviewer TEENA

Ping, Gao – “Chamber Music” – [Naxos]

Hemroid The Leader   11/28/2018   A Library, CD

Gao Ping b. 1970 – 20th C. High Culture seen in a 21st C. lens. Conservative. 1-6 inspired by pre-TV storytelling, european sextet Ensemble Pyramide. 7-9 gao @ piano. folk melody permutations. 10-14 gao@piano w/US cellist anita jehli. departs from a line of poetry. 5 movements of unified chi. 15-16** ping at piano focusing on unintentional sounds, vocalizations **high entertainment value** don’t sleep

Lewis, W. Furry – “Blues Magician” – [Lucky Seven]

Hemroid The Leader   11/28/2018   Blues, CD

After early success, the Depression turned him into a streetsweeper until 60s blues revival resurrected him. Recorded March ’69. Tracks left off his Fourth & Beale album. On his bed, leg off, slurring, drunk, out of tune. Blues, rags, religious, vaudeville. Recording tells a story, he’s a good show. Grows on you.
Religious:3,12. Drunk:4,8,9,12. Track 7 yodels. Mistakes:9. Track 2 ends when he gets worried the the snuff’s all gone.

Forn – “Rites of Despair” – [Gilead Media]

Lord Gravestench   11/27/2018   A Library, CD

The brand new CD from Boston’s Funeral Doom frontrunners, whose legendary show at the Sutro Baths in 2014 (alongside Akatharsia and Badr Vogu) won them many admirers around these parts.

There’s a LOT of shitty ‘Hipster Doom’ out there these days–I’m not going to name names– BUT Forn absolutely is the genuine article. Take it from someone who’s picky about his Sludge/Doom (as Encyclopedia Metallum so authoritatively describes them). I googled ‘Hipster Funeral Doom’ and the only thing that came up was a 4chan thread where the term was deployed against Ahab, a band I actually love, and not a bad touchstone in this case, really.

Given their city of origin I think everyone half-expects this band to start sounding like Grief at any second, but there’s truly not much Sludge to be found on this release (except maybe the incredible grooving riff on t.5, one of the best songs). The largely creeping pace, echoey psychedelic guitar work and profusion of delicate interludes impart a certain thoughtfulness to this forward-thinking champ of an album, and here the band have earned the right to be mentioned in the same sentence as American Funeral Doom saints like Asunder and Evoken.

Accomplishing so seamless a merger of tenderness and brutality is no easy task for any metal band, much less one formed a mere 6 years ago; having two guitarists is of course an integral part of their complex sound, as is their fondness for sudden shifts from soft to loud. Tasteful Death Metal touches, including quite surprising ones on t.s 6 + 11, do not detract from the sense that Forn are a Doom band first and foremost, in love with stupidly big, slow, heavy riffs. Growler Chris Pinto, who once came over for some reason to the house in Boston where I lived for a time, is a versatile extreme metal vocalist and his spirited performance is also integral to this band’s sound, much in the way that the Bay Area’s own Swamp Witch couldn’t exist without Jimmy’s distinctively guttural interjections.

Speaking of the Bay Area, look for KFJC pit veteran Jessica Way (Worm Ouroborous, Barren Harvest) delivering an emotive, Current-93-esque performance on t.10, in what seems to herald the emotional climax of the album. This track, along with t.s 1, 4 + 7, is among the aforementioned delicate interludes and may appeal to non-metalheads also.

No track listing or lyrics included with the sleeve, but it’s safe to say ‘Rites of Despair’ is not coming from a happy place. Oh yeah, and Forn is Old Norse/Icelandic (same thing lol) for ‘sacrifice.’

Bley, Paul – “Improvisie” – [Bamboo]

Naysayer   11/24/2018   CD, Jazz

Paul Bley’s “Improvisie”, finishes off his trilogy of experimental electronic free jazz explorations with Annette Peacock. Recorded live in 1971 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the two selections have Bley on electric piano and synthesizer ( as in MOOG), Peacock on electric and acoustic piano, synthesizer, electric bass and vocals, and Han Bennick on percussion. Peacock supposedly was the one who pushed the MOOG on Bley and with much success for the both of them. This is at the beginning of the MOOG so folks are trying to figure it out. Bley was happy that a keyboard was added but now he and Peacock were figuring out all the nuances of the thing. The improvisational interplay between Bley and Peacock is stunning, displaying a real understanding of the others musicianship. Peacock adds agonizing vocals (in a good way, a really good way) to the second piece. It almost shocks the listener. The pleasurable surprise, though, is Bennick’s percussion performance. He does so many amazing things with the drums, cymbals and whatever else he had present, adding to, accentuating, and filling out the sounds of Bley and Peacock. It almost gets lost but is so necessary. Definitely take a hard listen. A wonderful piece of music by some masters who were really going for the extreme.

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