KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Remez, Nadav, Tyshawn Sorey, and Antonin Tri Hoang – “ELK3” – [Out Now Recordings]

atavist   7/8/2019   CD, Jazz

This is a recording of a fairly spontaneous collaboration that spun out of an improvised music workshop the three musicians attended in 2014. Guitar, drums, alto saxophone and, occasionally, piano and bass clarinet, dip their toes in the water, splash around a bit, and then retreat into silent spaces. Track 5 in particular has a few of those extended near-silences that can be difficult to translate to radio. When the sound gradually returns, the reed instrument provides a nice droney texture. Much of the record, by contrast, is punctuated by the off-balance drum fills, saxophone-as-mosquito, and guitar picking invoking broken glass experienced during free jazz explorations. It’s good to be getting more of Tyshawn Sorey into the library. This third addition is certainly the most frenetic and clearly improvised piece we’ve added by him. I particularly enjoyed his piano work on track 7.

Mermen, The – “A Murmurous Sirenic Delirium” – [Kelptone Records]

Cousin Mary   7/3/2019   A Library, CD

The Mermen from Santa Cruz call their work “psychedelic instrumental ocean music”. Embraced by surf music fans as well as others. Fine playing from Jim Thomas on guitar, Martyn Jones on drums and Jennifer Burnes on bass. Good energy on some tracks like (1), others are more easy going and relaxed. An especially good album from a long excellent band – all killer, no filler.

Antonyms 1 – “Established Mode of Speech” – [Sub Rosa]

Cousin Mary   7/2/2019   CD, Jazz

These four tracks by a saxophone quartet (Steve Lacy on soprano, Ned Rothenberg on alto, Roy Nathanson on tenor and Eric Sleichim on baritone) are from a live performance. Breathy and honky but it never gets monotonous. Very pleasant in an abstract way. The enthusiastic audience response make me think it would have been fun to see and hear this live.

Surplus 1980 Collectiv Ensemble With G.W. Sok – “Forget All This” – [Music a La Coque]

Thurston Hunger   6/28/2019   A Library, CD

Kinetic tick-tick-tock attack chock-block full o’ G.W.
Sok-talked vox. Lengthy pieces not just propelled but perforated by percussion. Sok, an ex-Ex type takes the marching music orders from the mighty Moe Staiano (surely an Ex fan, hell his Emeryville studio is named
Ex’pression!), anyways G.W. plucks lyrics from a deep stream of consciousness, that affords a fjord between Elvis in Wonderland and Alice Presley. A touch of Jefferson ErrorKlang too, though I feel Moe owes more to Arnold Dreyblatt and Glenn Branca. There are “only” four guitarists here (including John Shiurba!). Apparently this is the superset of all Surpluses past and present. 12 local Metro-gnomes + Sok as Jesus or Judas, your choice! Moe is nothing if not magnetic, and a charming host. At times the machinery of the music is a bit much, so when you hit a whistle break like in “Gutter” or the oboe/upright bass weaving on “Flim Flam” it does help to blow off steam. Mostly the trains are rapidly running on time here.
All aboard…..
-Thurston Hunger

If you are offended by either a blowjob or a snowjob, then be wary of #4. Personally I HATE snowjobs…

Kiki Gyan – “Feeling So Good” – [Boom Records]

cadilliac margarita   6/26/2019   CD, International

Originally recorded in 1979 (a rare and valuable LP), reissued in 2018. Kiki was born in Takoradi, Ghana in 1957. He began playing music at 5, and was quickly discovered to be a keyboard prodigy, turning pro at 12. By 15, he was touring as the Keyboardist for Osibisa, after joining them in London. After playing with them for 7 years, and gaining notoriety for his skills, he went solo with this record, blending afro beat with disco, reggae, and synth heavy electronics. This record is so good, so bright an upbeat; Long grooves that just cook. Even Black Afro Punk, which is a mellowish reggae dub, got me tapping toes. The keyboards are of course the main star, since he was a genius with that instrument. After this album, and a brief marriage to the daughter of Fela Kuti, Gyan went pretty much MIA due to a tragic and debilitating drug addiction.  He died from AIDS related complications in 2004.

Washington, Baby – “The Best of Baby Washington” – [Collectables]

cadilliac margarita   6/26/2019   CD, Soul

Born in South Carolina in 1940, and Raised in Harlem, Jeanette “Baby” Washington joined vocal group The Hearts at 16 years old in 1956. The following year, she began recording solo tracks. Her voice is so rich and emotive,  and these tracks are dripping with love, heartbreak and melancholy. The production is classic northern soul and very well done, with lots of strings, percussion, and horns. Dusty Springfield (who stated several times that Washington was her favorite singer) was clearly influenced, and that may explain why she isn’t better known. But hot damn!! Now’s your chance! Like a lot of 60s soul performers, disco took its toll, and she hasn’t recorded much since the late 70s.  She’s now 78 years old and still actively performing mostly in Europe.

Joe Hunter, Ivory – “7:th Street Boogie” – [RBD]

cadilliac margarita   6/26/2019   CD, Jazz

Ivory Joe Hunter – 7th Street Boogie

A compilation of tunes recorded between 1945-1960 at various studio sessions all over the US, Ivory Joe Hunter (his given name!) wrote over 2000 songs during his career (cut short by cancer at the age of 60 in 1974). Born into a spiritual and musical family, Hunter began his career young, recording music for the library of congress while still a teenager. He was less interested in the spirituals of his upbringing, and looked towards music as pure entertainment. This is Jazz, Blues, R&B, Boogie Woogie, and Rock’n’ Roll.  Yet another artist who was a major influence on legendary artists ( Nina Simone), but whose work has largely flown under the radar. Piano, sax, percussion, and vocals make for a really enjoyable listen. It’s not overly energetic, and the recordings are clear and fantastic.

Robinson, Eugene S. / Petit, Philippe – “Chapel In The Pines” – [Lumberton Trading Company]

atavist   6/12/2019   A Library, CD

This is the second collaboration between Eugene S. Robinson and Philippe Petit to be added to the KFJC library. Eugene S. Robinson is well-known for his work in Oxbow and has appeared in some other collaborations over the years; Philippe Petit is similarly well-represented in the library. Over the five compositions presented on “Chapel in the Pines”, Robinson provides a range of vocal styles ranging from stream-of-consciousness ramblings to singing that references traditional forms and religious motifs. Robinson’s work is superimposed over Petit’s electronics, including synthetic drones and ethereal textures. The first track, my personal favorite, establishes washes of atmospheric textures and delicate guitars. In contrast to the far-off and ephemeral instrumentation, Robinson’s vocals are intimate, close, as if he’s speaking in the room with you, talking in your ear, or perhaps you overhear him from the next table. The last track crescendos with some adventurous sonic creations that fluctuate between the solemn and the spasmodic, with a sudden ending. It’s like the character created by Robinson has finally broken through to the next dimension, like Dave in “2001”, only to be abruptly disappointed by what is found there.

Knurl – “Nervescrap” – [Pure]

Louie Caliente   6/11/2019   A Library, CD

Walls on walls on walls of noise. Blistering, full-spectrum, ear-piercing, colon-clenching noise. Bottomless layers of samples, static, and screeches combine to an overwhelming chaos that fills every second of this album.

Knurl is Toronto-based experimental musician Alan Bloor. He avoids synthesizers digital sounds, instead using found objects such as fan blades, typewriters, scrap metal and car springs to create music that is completely devoid of rhythm, melody, vocals, and production quality.

Released in 1994, Nervescrap is Knurl’s second album (after Initial Shock). First a self-produced cassette, it was later released on Pure Records, the budget imprint subsidiary of RRR.

Blue Hummingbird On The Left – ‘Atl Tlachinolli’ – [Iron Bonehead Productions]

Lord Gravestench   6/8/2019   A Library, CD

“Blue Hummingbird on the Left” = English translation of Huitzilopochti, the name of the Aztec god of war, sun, and human sacrifice. Also the name of this Mesoamerican racial nationalist Black Metal group from southern California, part of the storied and controversial Black Twilight Circle, a close association of mostly Chicano musicians orbiting the Crepusculo Negro label. The BTC has included bands such as Arizmenda, Dolorvotre, Tukaaria, Odz Manouk, Volahn, Axeman, The Haunting Presence, Kallathon and many more. Personnel frequently overlap, and there may even be more bands than individual musicians associated with the BTC at this point.

BTC founder Volahn is joined here by 4 other players to create, as with all his other endeavours, a fairly distinctive and infectious take on raw Black Metal, in this case blending Death Metal influences with homages to the more aggressive Slavic pagan bands like Astrofaes (check out t.s 5+7) and Nav. Frantic, aggressive guitar lines of slasher thrash, bizarrely mournful lead riffs, very aggressive War Metal-ish structure at times, at others suggestions of the murderous punk gallop of Crepusculo Negro affiliates Bone Awl. Rather odd war yips and tribal drums on a few tracks. TFW your ancestors were eating each other a mere 500 years ago. Volahn really does shit gold. Dig it.

Sound of The Bunun Tribe, The – “Music of The Aborigineon Taiwan Island, The” – [Wind Records]

mickeyslim   6/5/2019   CD, International

Gospel chorus voices, droning, drifting; humming, chanting hypnosis. Generations of humanity’s lost wisdoms.

The Bunun tribe is one of nine on the island of Taiwan, and as such, have been massively isolated from the cruelties and evils of modern society.

While the last couple tracks have instruments (violin, jew harp), this is largely vocal sounds. Fantastic release from unknown musicians on an unknown label.

Stelzer, Howard – “Narrow Escape” – [Obsolete Units]

lexi glass   6/4/2019   A Library, CD

Howard Stelzer is a sound artist from Massachusetts who works with cassettes as his instrument, both in his solo work (here) and his collaborations with Campbell Kneale, Frans de Waard, The Cherry Point, and others. This 2014 CDR release from Obsolete Units holds a single 54-minute work. During the first half of the piece, layers of recorded hums, buzzes, and echoes cast the dimensions of a vast interior space. Halfway through, a metallic rumbling emerges, and with it the realization that this space has only one exit, and that gap is slowly, mechanically, fastening closed. Air and light rushes out with a high frequency roar, the space seals shut. There’s nothing left to do but fumble through the void to hit the eject button.

Lie Detectors – "Part III Secret Unit" – [Chant Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/2/2019   A Library, CD

Dangerous Dan reviewed this internally for the KFJC
criminals, but I confess to being a fan of it as well
Offering this review to help encourage the guilty.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
So one of them is wearing a wire, or wound up in multiple
wires, that would be guitarist Eyal Maoz. The other handles
batterie and assault percussive, Asaf Sirkis. Good cop,
better cop? Their buddy pic apparently has been running
40+ years, starting back as pre-teens in Israel. So their
silent communication is downright brotherly at this point.
No need for a bassist to translate. No bass also keeps
Maoz’s playing tuneful while plenty explorative. The duo
eschew sprawling 20 minute epics and deliver tight tracks
with distinct themes. A key aspect is Maoz’s superb tone
variation. “Rice” burns 70’s heavy metal and 2 minutes in
there is some striking digital feedback. Many songs have
nice knob and string bending. “Closer” has drier guitar
and a semi-western flare over bo-diddly bursts, but in the
gulches between gallops, Maoz delivers tweaky backwards-esque
guitar effects and Sirkis flutters brushes. Fans of the
Mermen could dive in on that. If you want a clean elecric
bop take, get stung by “Sting.” “Flying Horse” threatens to
boogie, but has that Ribot kinda stumble while Sirkis dances
ahead and behind the string work. Sirkis has several solo runs,
including tuned tom meditations on “Tree” the album’s
most gentle number. 1+1 adds up to much more, and that’s the
truth. -Thurston Hunger

In Their Own Voices : a Century of Recorded Poetry [coll] – [Rhino Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/2/2019   A Library, CD

112 poems, 80 poets. Some get a double dose, a few a triple
dip. David Ignatow has five, but who’s counting? Not T.S. Eliot
who resides elsewhere in KFJC’s library, like several on here
and left off this 1996 collection. Life, like collections are
finite. Dear Reader, wth bending and bleeding ear…observantly
you saw the title, before the poem started, so you know you are
getting the mind and the mouth of every poet here. In some cases,
an audience joins in the fray, frothing with Ferlinghetti, or
goosing on Ginsberg while he gooses himself, drinking with Bukowski
in his latter well-toasted years. A few others mix music with their
musings, Kerouac and sax of course joined at the hep. Zimmer quiets
a piano, later lists out musicians and poets and even doffs his cap
to Roberto Clemente and Thurman Munson. Leonard Cohen stings his song
with a folk phalanx in close formation. Amiri Baraka punctuates his
“Shazam Doowah” with “oh-wahwahs” as only he could.
The oration styles are pretty fascinating.
There IS a LOT of that poetic PAUSE and PUSH.
but so much more.
Defter DJ mixers perhaps can beat match orator’s cadence and techno tempos.
The collection is well stitched, clever connections for those who might
listen from Vol 1 through to Vol 4. We are told to go neither Gentle nor
Naked into the good night, Mark Strand summons Wallace Stevens. Fancy queens
follow each other, with the phenomenal Maya Angelou going first. Many of
the poets are long gone (the collection starts with Whitman and Yeats
speaking beyond the cemetery gates), and quite a few have died since
this came out on CD (a medium itself spinning towards its own demise?)
Surely the majority knew the price of mortality and it fueled their
creation, they aimed to have their words live on, but with this release,
their voices do as well
-Thurston Hunger

Call of The Void – “Buried In Light” – [Translation Loss Records]

atavist   5/29/2019   A Library, CD

Call of the Void conjures metalcore that flirts with crushing heaviness. They’d fit on a bill with bands like Integrity, Meshuggah, Premonitions of War…they’re not as punk as metalcore standard-bearers Converge, and they’re not as angular and mathy as Botch (pardon the dated points of reference). My favorite parts of the album are those where they allow themselves to introduce some additional textures to the overall onslaught, like the instrumental conclusions to tracks 3 and 4. Track 7, “Enslaved”, is a brief instrumental, and it has some interesting elements. This marks a turning point in the album, where the layers of guitar parts and percussion show a bit more depth and complexity. Track 8, “Re Death” has compelling wall-of-sound guitar harmonies, and track 9, the title track, builds on this trajectory. Tracks 10 and 11, “Wave of Disgust” and “Almighty Pig” return to simple, primal fury. By the time they reach the last track, they’ve fully returned to a pared-down and pummeling attack. The highlights are tracks 7–9. Three tracks have FCCs and are noted on the cover.

Noisem – “Cease to Exist” – [20 Buck Spin]

atavist   5/29/2019   A Library, CD

Blistering fast thrash metal. The metal blogs are generally giving this record favorable reviews, and I can see why: Noisem exhibits a studied appreciation and respect for the genre on a properly produced recording. They have the technical chops and an unapologetic scorn for our fucked-up society. If you like your thrash uncompromising, old-school, with production that delivers trebly distortion without turning muddy, go ahead and inject two to three minutes of spitting rage into your set. Aside from their appearance on a compilation added to the library six years ago, this will be Noisem’s proper introduction to KFJC. Keep an eye out for tracks with FCCs (1, 2, 3, 5, 8).

Dekonstruktor “Fuck Life We Go Further” – [Noname666]

whngr   5/29/2019   A Library, CD

Moscow three piece, Dekonstruktor intend to drown the listener with four depressive tracks from the fathomless depths of  Russian misery. Beginning with a plodding track reminiscent of 90’s era sludge. D-tuned and demoralizing with brooding (English) vocals, listeners will be pummeled by their despair, hopelessness, and antipathy.

I don’t like your name 
I don’t need your game 
I deny your life 
I deny your mind 
something wrong? 
maybe you don’t know 
see I hate your face 
I don’t like your ways 
-Excerpt from “Black Acid”

Seemingly influenced by Pacific Northwest fore-bearers of heaviness, Wipers, Melvins, and Thrones, Dekonstruktor are buried a little deeper the murky depths of a less accessible underground yet succeed in finding their own voice. Especially on the last two instrumental tracks which are more angular and employ noisy, unnerving electronics in lieu of guitars for an abstraction of melody while effect laden drums march us toward the precipice of our crumbling sanity. There is, however, a common thread tying these songs together, a hypnotic psychedelic element adds an interesting dichotomy to the hostility and sorrow.

Spectral Voice – “Eroded Corridors of Unbeing” – [Dark Descent Records]

atavist   5/21/2019   A Library, CD

Funereal doom passages punctuated by dark (dark!) blastbeat death metal. Heavy, ghostly passages with plenty of added atmosphere. It creates an aura of unrelenting doom. The production is heavy enough for the drums to get murky when the tempo increases, but make no mistake, it should be murky, like tumbling blindly through dark corridors, pursued by phantoms. Excellent guitar sound, with strong guitar harmonization. T3 is an instrumental that incorporates some nice clean guitar work before transitioning completely into a brief space of devolved atmospheric sounds. This sets up T4, with a simultaneously beautiful and despairing guitar line at the onset. Before long, crushing riffs return. T5 has some decidedly strange guitar work going on to begin; we are given the sense that the band will attempt some complexity as the track unfolds. Ultimately it doesn’t end on the most powerful and rousing note, and the first two tracks (“Thresholds Beyond”, “Visions of Psychic Dismemberment”) are probably the strongest. Light it up and let this cast a pall of black doom over the airwaves.

Disen Gage – “Big Adventure, The” – [Noname666]

atavist   5/21/2019   A Library, CD

If you like your instrumental progressive rock sounds seasoned with a dash of accordion, Disen Gage have crafted a sound you might like. Perhaps these 20-year veterans based out of Moscow don’t take themselves too seriously. T3 has some acid jazz freak outs thrown in; trumpet, keys lead the charge into brief moments of chaos before settling back into a relaxed groove underpinned by a thick bass sound. T4 is a standout because the intricate guitar work is so nicely realized. A cello joins, played with feeling but not overstated. T5 has a disco-esque guitar sound in the intro followed by a baffling mellotron (?) arrangement. These musicians are clearly not afraid to go just about anywhere with this genre-bending menagerie. Cue the Spanish-inflected acoustic guitar work, and a goofy keyboard “horn” arrangement that swerves into something almost polka-esque. The rapid changes from genre to genre nearly made me chuckle. Any type of time signature is fair game, whether it’s a waltz or an early-era rock-and-roll drive.

I think I can isolate the synthesizer work as the element that might be most polarizing for listeners; it’s the brand of synthesizer sound that so clearly wants to sound like something else (brass, string ensembles) but so clearly sounds like a tinny, underpowered synthesizer. I started wishing I could just listen to the guitar, bass, and drums and remove the keys entirely.

Throw one of these tracks into your set for a roughly six minute dose of nerdy progressive rock exhibitionism with campy pop sensibilities. Recommended tracks include “Chaos Point”, Enough”, and “Fin”.

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