KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Konan, Antoinette – Antoinette Konan – [Awesome Tapes From Africa]

aarbor   2/26/2020   CD, International

Antoinette Konan is from the Ivory Coast and she is known as “The Queen of the Ahoko”. The Ahoko is a 3-piece wooden (scraped) idiophone handmade from a thin, ribbed, flexible stick; a smaller chunk of wood is rhythmically scraped against the ribbed stick. She originally learned the ahoko to distinguish herself from other musicians. She put the ahoko on the map when she re-introduced it as a part of 20th century popular music. This album was originally released in 1986 and was re-released last year by Awesome Tapes From Africa. Here you’ll hear the ahoko with a roaring backdrop of synths, bass guitar and drum machine.  – AArbor  

Icasiano, Christopher – “Provinces” [Origin Records]

Max Level   2/25/2020   A Library, CD

Drums and keyboards–everything played by Icasiano, a mainstay of the Seattle free music scene. There are two “suites” here and within each suite the pieces tend to track together. Several of the tracks have repeating–in some cases one could say relentless–drum patterns, augmented with simple keyboard/synth melodies, drones, and sounds. Field recordings pop up occasionally, some of them including voices. I really enjoyed Track 3, a jagged piece with free drumming alongside bursts of what seem to be backward sounds. The thing that I probably like most about this CD is that I don’t quite understand what’s going on and can only listen and wonder what will come next. Icasiano’s work occupies a section of the musical universe that you probably didn’t even know was there. I didn’t.

Mikidache – "Kauli/Words" – [Long Distance]

humana   2/23/2020   CD, International

Mikidache makes this Comorian music from Madagascar the treasure that is is. His rich vocals, percussion, guitar, and oh, yeah, the fact that he wrote most of the songs make them the amazing, uplifting works that they are. Accordion and flute are among the instruments that bring this traditional Malagasy music to your ears. Enjoy every minute.

Ghostwriter & Paine, Michael – "Morrow" – [Time Released Sound]

humana   2/23/2020   A Library, CD

This is a collection of absolutely whimsical and delightful sounds from Ghostwriter (aka Mark Brend) and Michael Paine, every track of which leaves you with a distinct and nostalgic feeling. At any moment you may find yourself laughing or crying with the exquisiteness of the instrumentation, which uses celesta, dulcimer, found sounds, flute, marimbas, piano, synths, xylophone…So gentle and pretty and atmospheric. Just lovely. Listen and see for yourself.

Njava – "Vetse" – [EMI Hemisphere]

humana   2/23/2020   CD, International

Named after their father, Njava, whose name means “lightning,” this band of three brothers and two sisters (who came from 15 siblings) had its origins in Madagascar and then moved to Belgium. The sisters are responsible for the majority of the rich vocals, while the brothers provide the amazingly upbeat instrumentation (Dozzy has the chops on guitar). The title track, Vetse, means to hope, to feel, to laugh, to share, and I can honestly say that most if not all of the tracks on this CD inspire this sentiment. I dare you not to dance.

St. Hugh, William – “Saturnus” – [self-released]

atavist   2/12/2020   A Library, CD

The arrival of “Saturnus” provides ethereal sounds with orchestral-inspired keyboard instrumentation. Minutes stretch in a haze of drifting shimmers and the occasional dramatic surge of sound. This recording moves slowly like the score for a moody, somewhat eerie film. It’s very much a companion album to this artist’s earlier release “The Luciferian”, added to the library last August. Tracks are fairly consistent across the CD. To my untrained ears, all the tracks are pretty similar, so you might select based on how much time you need in your break clock, and you’ll get a consistent atmosphere of unease and wilting beauty. A couple tracks, like “Red Sun Rise” start out quietly. Tremorous dreams await.

Boni, Raymond/Gilles Dalbis – Selenites: One Kenichi Dream – [Mazeto Square]

Max Level   2/11/2020   A Library, CD

Two French guys playing the soundtrack to what seems to be a dream story. Boni on guitar and harmonica, Dalbis on drums. All instrumental, very abstract, quiet and loud places, hard to tell what they are getting at sometimes. The 15-minute Track 1 starts with 3 minutes of solo drumming. Dalbis has a nice touch with the brushes. Boni’s guitar comes in gently and… eventually all hell breaks loose like you suspected it would. There are shades of Derek Bailey in Boni’s playing and he adds to that a lot of processed guitar sounds and some overdubs. He plays harmonica on Tracks 2 and 5; he has an unusual approach, that’s for sure. It sounds to me more like an accordion in a style reminiscent of Pauline Oliveros maybe? Track 3 features some flying-fingers abstract blues guitar and it’s pretty nice. Dalbis adds surprising percussive touches throughout the record. I don’t really understand the dream story–something about HG Wells and an alien civilization living inside Earth’s moon, and at some point a modern manga character shows up and does something or other. Perfect music for an oddball dream like that.

Brovold, Bill – “Stone Soup, The Michael Goldberg Variations” – [Public Eyesore]

Louie Caliente   2/11/2020   A Library, CD

All the tracks in this soup are made from the same stone: four sparse notes plucked on a clattering, slightly detuned acoustic guitar. The recording of these scattered notes was given to 12 different musicians who each add to the sound in their own way.

Brovold’s minimalist guitar work maintains center-stage through all the tracks, and most retain the drony spacey feel of the original, though all have a unique perspective. Rhys Chatham (T3) augments the guitar with meditative chants and whistles. Fred Lonberg-Holm (T4) turns it it into a kinetic blissful sun salutation. Franz Shultz (T7) adds twangy steel guitar. Karen Haglof (T10) creates soothing psychedelic explorations. Probably the most unique of the bunch is the pairing of guitar with punchy beats and percussive grinds from Leonardo ProtoPeople (T5)

The album is inspired by Bach’s Goldberg Variations (composed of an aria and 30 variations), and a folk tale wherein an entire village contributes small ingredients each to a pot that originally contained nothing but a stone, yielding a delicious soup.

The album is hand-printed and colored by Brovold.

NOISE: In Theory and Practice [coll] – [Norcal Noisefest]

lexi glass   2/11/2020   A Library, CD

This limited-run 2019 compilation was released at the 23rd Norcal Noisefest, the annual celebration of crazed cacophony that’s terrorized Sacramento every fall since 1995. Curated by noisefest mainstay Instagon, the comp features new works from the artists that performed at the 2019 event. So, of course, you’ll find strange sounds of all stripes: the layered womens’ vocals of Mourning Dove (T1), the binaural buzz of Chopstick (T3), the bright blips of Thirteen Hurts (T6), Mini Mutations‘ spoken word stream of consciousness (T7). Novacain sickens with sax, piano and a deadbeat drumbeat (T10), Seattle’s rEEk delivers strikes supplanted by silence (T13), SF’s Filthmilk has a metal breakdown (T16), Crank Sturgeon‘s trapped in a tangle of live cables (T19), while Crank Static offers some unique Valentine’s ideas for you and Your Baby (T20 – FCCs). The comp rounds out with the toasty crunch of a bowlful of Microwave Windows (T24), an easy listening FM radio station possessed by demons courtesy of Xdugef (T26); finally, Infinexhuma abandons us in the void (T27).

Drumwerx – "Drumwerx" – [Nosecandy]

humana   2/9/2020   A Library, CD

I know nothing about this CD except what it sounds like, and it sounds like its title. Lots of short tracks with some longer ones sprinkled in that put you in mind of being inside of a video game. A drum machine is likely the source of the frenetic, upbeat, ricocheting sounds that reverberate through your brain long after the CD is through playing. It’s always Playtime, after all! (Oh, yeah, and the band may be from Oxnard, CA.)

Divo, Orlann – "Samba Em Paralelo" – [Whatmusic Holdings Limited]

humana   2/9/2020   CD, International

From out of obscurity comes this snappy samba CD from songwriter and singer Divo, whose original goal was not to sound like Jao Gilberto. With these samba de balanco songs, Divo succeeds in defining his own singing style and songs that pull at the listener’s feet instead of just appealing to the ears. Read the interview within the CD sleeve as you dance around listening to this gem.

Armagedda – “Only True Believers” – [Drakkar Productions]

whngr   2/5/2020   A Library, CD

Straight-ahead Scandinavian Black-metal

Pvre, hermitic Swedish black metal without frills. Cold, grim, and cvlt, all the elements of trve Nordic metal are present with notable exception being the samples culled from final episode of Twin Peaks (original series) pinned to the opening and closing of this album from 2003 and a few fleeting death and doom metal aspects (tempo changes and solos). A bonus track was tacked to the end of this release of wind howling through the trees with a meandering spooky synth. This was the second full-length release by reclusive two-man black metal outfit Armagedda which was comprised of Andreas Petterson and Stefan Sandström (A. and Graav) who haled from the secluded forests of Lapland, the northernmost county of Norrland, itself the northernmost region of Sweden; cold, desolate, unforgiving, dark for half the year. Salient as these young men were so isolated and resolute in their worship of nature that they would ultimately abandon the project and the world of men… barring the inception of Nordvis Produktion 2005, the label run by Petterson which according to interviews is considered to be more of a commune of like-minded spirits, especially their collective reverence of nature and humanity’s insignificance when compared to her power and immensity. The word that A. employs is, vast which adds a desirable element in my opinion. Although Armagedda’s sound is concertedly informed by the Norwegian forefathers of 2nd wave black metal, Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, et al. there is an element of isolation that pervades their releases. Here Andreas describes a German tour that the band left before its end:
“We were young and lived in a world which consumed us, and the other way around. As the tour progressed, I remember a mounting distance between us and the remaining bands. Another memory forever etched in my head is an evening when we found a secluded forest area where we sat down by ourselves with an old tape-recorder, just enjoying the sound of something other than people speaking German. A great relief at the time, to be sure.” – A. Petterson
With Graav retiring from music and A. distancing himself from the black metal genre this album is widely considered to be the apex of Armagedda’s form and, in the opinion of this miserable volunteer, an excellent example of devastating sonic misanthropy.

Teitanblood – “Baneful Choir, The” – [Norma Evangelium Diaboli]

atavist   2/5/2020   A Library, CD

Teitanblood has been known to KFJC dating back to the Firebunker era, and their new release needed to be sought out, post-haste. This will be the third Teitanblood release to stain the library with punishing, blackened death metal. Most tracks are blistering fast and brutal, with a few cinematic interludes/intros/outros. A track breakdown follows.

1. Ominous intro, washes of sound, minimal hums and atmospheres
2. Grim, crushing heaviness starts out slowly and builds momentum
3. High speed insanity, guitars spiraling out of control, blast beat mayhem, dripping with evil
4. More mayhem, unrelenting, continuing the tradition of the spiraling, unhinged guitar solo
5. Battering ram assault
6. A segue track, or intermission; the tolling of bells in a forsaken landscape of char and ash, with electrically distorted voices and intonations
7. Continues track 6, with mad men introduced. a light touch of malevolence
8. Tracks 6,7,8 are designed to basically run together to form a piece with a total run time of 11:43. From the charred landscape, the baneful choir rises, triumphant in its purely malevolent glory. You will submit; you have been bested. Track 8 unspools in a long, deliberate, extraordinary build to an enveloping din, and fades out with keyboards and churchy sounds.
9. Enough concept, let’s pulverize!
10. Opens with a big, crushing riff. The drums are a bit less diabolically fast and the thick, filthy guitars fill the space. By the end the tempo is cranked up to full insanity once again.
11. Starts out quietly; the calm descends on glowing embers cooling into a cold, deepening darkness. Demented, a baneful choir of spectres rises.

Pierson, Dax – “Live In Oakland” – [Ratskin Records]

atavist   2/5/2020   A Library, CD

Atmospheres, blips, klangs, noisewashes, vocal samples. Beats drop in like depth charges. Soaring melodic elements establish themselves and fade. Pitches shift up and down, reeling, forms disintegrate and reform. There’s an extraordinary variety exhibited from track to track, and even within tracks. “Krafteno” brings a more traditional sequencer sound, a blend of clean synths with dirtier, grimier electronic beats and textures. The overall vibe here is insistent, present. “Macrobid” establishes hiphop beats with a droning bass track, a canvas for a variety of samples to interlace and juxtapose each other. “Memory” is a majestic cathedral-like synth piece without a drum track. “Treading Water” starts out really quietly, establishes eerie atmospherics, and then overlays audio taken from a visit to the doctor’s office, a discussion of an evolving diagnosis, until the sample becomes manipulated, repeated, mangled…it picks up a theme eluded to in the beginning, in “A Snap of the Neck”. An tour van accident in 2005 left Pierson a quadriplegic; fortunately he continues to craft these works that speak to his experience. The final track starts with a minimal rhythm and progresses into exuberant trance/techno.

Dax Pierson is well-represented in the KFJC library, mainly by his participation in the projects Themselves, Subtle, and 13 & God, projects that dance the line between hip hop and unorthodox genre-bending experimentation. This is only his second entry in the library as a solo performer; Lexi Glass reviewed the 18th Annual SF Electronic Music Festival compilation, on which his track “Live @ Life Changing Ministry” appeared.

The Complete Cookies

cadilliac margarita   2/5/2020   CD, Soul

Fun, smooth, sweet as a toothache, and impossibly catchy, these ladies make me want to find some friends to dress in matching outfits, tease my hair to the sky, and choreograph synchronized dance moves. Their harmonies are tight, the hand claps and doo-wahs are on point, and there is a confidence to these tunes that make it way more about finding personal strength through teenage heartbreak than just chasing stupid boys. A product of the Carole King / Gerry Goffin hit machine. Masterfully produced early 60s girl group sound. The trio, who started out as backup singers for Little Eva on her King/Goffin smash, “Locomotion” featured Earl–Jean McCrea, Dorothy Jones, and Margaret Ross. They had worked on other various songs in 1962, but working after working with King, they moved from background to foreground. In a bit of scandal, Earl-Jean ended up giving birth to a baby girl in 1964 fathered by Gerry Goffin, who was married to Carole King at the time. She ended up retiring from music, and by 1967, The Cookies had disbanded. Dorothy Jones has since passed away, but Margaret Ross still tours as The Cookies on occasion with two other new backup singers.  

Seba Kaapstad – Thina

cadilliac margarita   1/22/2020   CD, Soul

Groovy neo-soul from a multi-cultural quartet of 2 singer/songwriters from South Africa, and 2 German multi-instrumentalists, equally contributing to the intriguing sound tapestry presented.  There is piano, synth, drums, guitar, and strings. This is lovely and mellow, shimmering with positivity and upbeat in a very relaxing way.  The lyrics never get too preachy, just contemplative in an existential way that can make even the most cynical of listeners stop and consider getting out of your own head for a while. Take a look at the world around you to consider others, their existence, and how you can relate and connect.

Barriga, Rodrigo – Silere/Continuo

Louie Caliente   1/21/2020   A Library, CD

Rodrigo Barriga is a Mexican composer who studied at Mills College. His work focuses on improvisation, communication, and openness. Silere/Continuo contains three new performances of his early works. The mood is seriously avant-garde, but playful and rooted equally in rock, jazz, and classical.

Continuo (T1) is a piece for voice trio, exploring harmony and resonance. Soaring acrobatics, shifting pitches, sustained gurgles, and raspberry trills.

Silere (T2-T5) features Barriga on electric bass alongside with electric guitar and drums. These pieces have lots of space in them and can take a while to warm up (many start with near silence), but they are well worth the wait. Quiet, accidental sounds flutter, slowly gathering momentum Cohesive grooves emerge abruptly out of thin air, but somehow remain intangible, and melt away before your ears.

Continuo (T6) again features Barriga on electric bass, this time paired with a trio of electric guitars. Collective concret noodling. Psychedelic time warps.

Copyright © 2020 KFJC 89.7 FM
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
Public Inspection File