KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Trio Linguae – “Signals” – [Origin Records]

aarbor   9/9/2020   CD, Jazz

Trio Linguae (lin-gwee) is trumpeter Kevin Woods, Guitarist John Stowell and pianist Miles Black. This is their debut release. It’s a collection of original works by Woods and Black and some others from the likes of Jobim, Wayne Shorter, Bill Evans and Harold Arlen.

AArbor

Trans-Global Underground – “Yes Boss Food Corner” – [Ark 21]

aarbor   9/9/2020   CD, International

Trans-Global Underground (or TGU) are from England. They are (by their own admission) “notorious from mixing musical styles and rhythms with a total disregard for musical genres, technological barriers and common sense. They create a unique space where cross-cultural musical diversity thrives.” Here the sounds are electronics with Asian and African music styles. This release is from 2001 and features Zulu vocalist Thobekile Doreen Webster [2,4]. Two British-born Asian musicians: sitarist Sheema Mukherjee and percussionist Gurjit Sihra are a part of the band’s lineup on this release. Natacha Atlas was off doing her own thing at the time of this recording.

AArbor

Kale, Karsh – "Liberation" – [Six Degrees Records]

aarbor   9/9/2020   A Library, CD

Born in England and raised in NY (Long Island), Karsh Kale (pronounced Kursh Kah-lay) became a drummer and tabla player, known for his “electric tabla”. He first came to my attention as a part of Bill Laswell’s Tabla Beat Science project (founded in 2000). He was the 1st ‘Indo-American” to be signed to a solo recording contract by a U.S. label. This is his 3rd full length album from 2003. The best known track is ‘Milan’ (Meeting of 2 Rivers) [4] which includes both Laswell and Zakir Hussain.

AArbor  

Crumer, Jason – “Self Titled” – [Breathing Problem]

lexi glass   9/1/2020   A Library, CD

Boundaries between the real and the imagined dissolve on this masterful noise work from Philadelphia-based artist Jason Crumer (also the founder of the outstanding experimental label No Rent Records). Sounds of within – deep drones, and high-pitched ringing – meet the sounds of without – field recordings of doors slamming, rusted hinges swiveling, street sounds of footsteps and traffic, pencil meeting paper to scrawl a letter – sometimes blurring smoothly together, other times cutting abruptly from one scene to the next. Following this trail of fragmented memories leads to a grotesque vision of madness itself, a wild blast of horns and noise. I also want to note the album’s strange and beautiful artwork, surreal images to match the disc’s sounds by painter Justine Neuberger. From the Austin experimental label Breathing Problem Productions.

M. Pluckett -“Monocle Eye” -[Self Release]

mickeyslim   9/1/2020   A Library, CD

M. Pluckett’s “Monocle Eye” is the project of L. Rossi, a musician and visual artist based deep in the woods of New Hampshire, who does all the instrumentation, recording, mixing, and artwork in this release of 100 copies.

Six, short tracks of garage-y noise rock. Ghostly found-sounds and washed-out vocals hidden away in dust-covered boxes. Lead vocals that sometimes seem to be sung across the room through a telephone. The smokey-stoney-bluesy jams, quiet wistful scrapings, and rock-fueled descents into a deteriorating psyche coalesce into what should be considered a single piece; a movement which one can only hope will become part of a larger concept.

Each track has its own distinct flavor, making this EP accessible to most DJs here at KFJC. Play with impunity.

“Nothing’s there unless you let it in.”

La Musica Della Mafia [coll] – [Pias America Classics]

mickeyslim   8/31/2020   CD, International

The song of a life of crime, tunes of prison life, music of the Mafioso.

This music here has been passed down for many generations. It was recorded and sold at open-air markets, which most Italians found offensive because it glorified mafia life. Kind of similar to the public outcry toward gangsta rap in the ’90s. At first listen, these songs feel like whimsical sometimes optimistic folk tunes, drifting from the beaches of Sicily, over the mountains of Calabria, to the gulfs of Campania.

Once you take a look at the lyrics sheet, however, you find yourself in back alleys, jail cells, and funeral processions. Whether singing of honor, family, or grief, these songs take you into an underground world filled with death and glory. The instrumentation takes on several forms, with any combination of guitar, accordion, tambourine, scacciapensieri (better know to us as a jew’s harp, a staple in traditional Sicilian music), and more.

Do not miss the liner notes with this release, if only for the translated lyrics. Enjoy!

Sharkula X Mukqs – "Prune City" – [Hausu Mountain]

abacus   8/26/2020   CD, Hip Hop

mud city all-star collab from underground legend Sharkula and Hausu co-founder Max Allison. truly a mythical figure in Chi-town, Sharkula made his name heavy grinding, selling CDs and posting flyers, built from the street up. Mukqs met him at a local Burger King and told him he was gonna make him some beats, proceeded to live construct some chaos production with synths, drum machines, looper, and sampler, complete with 16-bar intros, verses, and chorus for Sharkula to lay out his free-association word pasta. there’s an infectious familiarity to Sharkula’s verses, an unabashed originality, like he’s just having a conversation with the listener, or with Mukq’s noise-infected video-game techno beats. crumbling alien urban soundscapes

100 Beats – Arabica [coll] – [DCD Music]

aarbor   8/19/2020   CD, International

4 glorious CDs of Arabic music: Grooves, Lounge, Chill and Café. It’s kind of an auditory encyclopedia of contemporary Arabic music. It’s not traditional Middle Eastern music. It’s more DJ and dance-oriented. AArbor

New African Composers Vol. 1 [coll] – [Limitless Sky]

aarbor   8/19/2020   CD, International

This is music primarily from Tanzanian artists recorded in Dar es Salaam. Tanzania is in East Africa, south of Kenya. Mt. Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania. The music has elements of both East and West Africa. 5 artists are showcased here: Ndala Kasheba [2,6,9,12], the Achigo Band [4,7], Garikayi Tirikoti [3, 10], the Yekete Beat Band [1,5,8], and Delphin Mununga [11]. These outstanding musicians are “composers” although they are primarily working musicians. Tirikoti is a mbira carver – an artisan, who has created new tunings for his instrument. The label, Limitless Sky Records is about releasing and promoting music recorded in Tanzania. Check out the variety of sounds and enjoy!  AArbor  

Tourette – “Jardin Du Sommeil Chant D’Amour Sur La Nuit Grandissante” – [Troniks]

lexi glass   8/14/2020   A Library, CD

From this album’s opening moments – a mournful piano repeating in a hypnotic loop as scrap metal thunder rumbles overhead – I was struck by its severe beauty. Tourette is Benjamin Clément of Montreuil, France. On these three longform pieces, he contrasts graceful sounds – piano, strings, otherworldly voices, brilliant ambience – with punishing storms of harsh noise. Artists who use pleasing sounds in noise have their naysayers, but Tourette proves that in the hands of a skillful composer, the lighter moments make the impact of the noise assault that much more powerful. This is one of the best records I’ve heard in some time, and a new favorite that I’ll continue to revisit.

Larson, Dr. Pete & His Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band – “Dr. Pete Larson & His Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band” – [Dagoretti Records]

aarbor   8/12/2020   CD, International

Dr. Pete Larson is an epidemiologist who now resides in Ann Arbor, MI. He went to Nairobi,Kenya from 2014-2017 to work on public health issues and immersed himself in the music scene there. He also was enchanted by the Nyatiti -an 8 string lute/lyre played by the Luo people in West Kenya and learned to play it. Before going to Kenya, Larson was a guitarist who played in various rock and noise bands. The heart of this music is Larson’s Nyatiti which offers circular melodies for the other musicians to play with, around and in. “There is no beginning and end in traditional Kenyan music,” says Larson, so the performances are improvised pentatonic jams, not practiced sets. “You set the tempo and the rhythm pattern, and other musicians join in.”  AArbor    

Za Frumi – “Tach” – [Waerloga]

whngr   8/2/2020   A Library, CD

Pan flutes and bongos, ambient cave sounds, synthesizers, and Orcish musings. Not sure if they are inspired by Tolkien, World of Warcraft, or both but it is pretty absurd, simplistic, and difficult to sink one’s teeth into. Points for being Swedish and releasing their first album before the Lord of the Rings movies.I was introduced to Za Frûmi when we added “Za Shum Ushatar Uglakh” to the library last year and after hearing to the review but before listening the album I was pretty bummed that I wasn’t the first volunteer to be considered for any and all Orc-synth reviews. I guess they just don’t know me that well yet, I thought. But now that I have been saddled with “Tach” I slightly resent having to absorb and review it. Honestly it is pretty lame, niche, and makes me think about what the night-shift worker at the AM/PM might record when they had to work the weekend of the renaissance fair. That said, it is so far off the beaten path that I find it hard to imagine anyone else trying to add to this extremely esoteric genre. Making it so nerdy and cult that I am obligated to champion (if softly) this project (for a little while anyway). 

Namanax – “Cascading Waves of Electronic Turbulence” – [Release Records]

whngr   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

Namanax is mid-weight to harsh electronic noise from James Plotkin (O.L.D., Khanate, et al.), Bill Yurkiewicz (Exit-13, Pica, Purge), and Kipp Johnson (Also of Purge, Candiru, Elixir) and all three are in Solarus.
Track 1 is pretty intense, unrelenting and relatively short (11:39) when measured up against the second track (47:01) which has a trembling pulse that stretches through its entirety. There is some structure to the dissonance, white-noise, and near subsonic sounds that act as a beat of sorts. Hypnotizing and methodical with intermittent jarring stabs of crunchy noise. Again, after a while I begin to hear voices but they come from within my brain as this kind of repetition has a way of exciting my language center. It seems though the words lack meaning they allude to self preservation and perseverance.

Leya – “Flood Dream” – [NNA]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

Lugubrious music perfect for midnight hauntings from ghosts who mean no harm. Marilu Donovan’s harp and Adam Markiewicz’s violin and vocals combine in unsettling fashion to create a somber atmosphere that will echo long after the last musical note has sounded.

Brooks, Jeffrey – "Passion, The" – [Innovation Records]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

Minneapolis composer Brooks offers us three tracks featuring Bang on a Can All-Stars and Contemporaneous (both of which are New York City-based ensembles). Each of these works, one considerably longer than the one preceding it, is lively, jaunty, cutting-edge, intense, and adrenaline spiking in the same way you would imagine the sounds of New York City to be. Sonic dissonance that resolves into a creative amalgamate as individual as the listeners taking it in. It will inspire passion, just as the title of the third track promises.

Mr. Elevator – "Goodbye, Blue Sky" – [Castle Face Records]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

Hazy vocals float up through pleasant synth fogs and transport you to a simpler time where mellow pop vibes suffuse your consciousness and relax you. It’s easy to see Donovan’s influence on Tomas Dolas (Mr. Elevator) and his music. There are some slower songs on here, and they’re fine, but try “Alone Together” and “Anywhere” first.

Foon, Rebecca – "Waxing Moon" – [Constellation Records]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

There is a simple beauty to these songs composed and performed by Canadian cellist Foon. She is as adept at creating the mellow soundscapes of tracks such as “Ocean Song” and “Pour” with her piano, voice and drones as she is with her signature cello (heard to great effect in “Ocean Song”). We have releases by Esmerine, one of her finer collaborations, in our library, and this is an excellent addition as well.

Parker, Maceo – "Soul Food – Cooking With Maceo" – [Funk Garage]

Sir Cumference   7/29/2020   CD, Jazz

This is the first studio album in eight years from this legendary sax machine.

Covering songs from Dr. John, The Meters, Allen Toussaint, Aretha Franklin, Prince and even a couple of his own back catalog, Parker seasoned his funk with talent from around New Orleans where the album was recorded to give these tracks a little of that big easy sound.

Maceo’s version Prince’s “Other Side of the Pillow” really gives off a Ray Charles vibe – which is apparently what he set out to do! And speaking of Ray Charles, the track Hard Times – originally performed by Charles’ sax man, David “Fathead” Newman – and the final track “Grazing in the Grass” (along with “…Pillow”) are more towards the soul and jazz end of this album’s spectrum, with the others leaning towards the funkier edge.

Nothing earth-shattering in this release, but some quite serviceable tunes to get us through these interesting times.

Skin Crime – “Ghosts I Have Been” – [Hospital Productions]

whngr   7/24/2020   A Library, CD

Crunchy crackling, skittering swells, humming, pulsing, peels of feedback and drone with rumbles, shimmers, thumps, and carefully controlled chaos manipulated for meditative sojourns through inner space. It’s atmospheric, it’s noise, it’s brooding and pensive but it isn’t harsh, more S9K than #6 but basically sounds exactly like KFJC. A little spooky, a bit hypnotic, with some worry and some irritation but the scope of these relatively sparse sounds is varied and no sound stays around for very long, no vibration is left alone. Much like I often prefer to be. Nice and alone. A bonus half tear for the literary cover art which appears to be a modern rendering but seems to venerate antiquity. 

Skin Crime is Patrick O’Neil (and sometimes cohorts) who runs Self Abuse (New Hampshire), and sub-labels: Murder Series, Solipsism, and Terminal Ward. While represented in the library on a few collections including the RRRecords 500 compilation (Locked Groove #356), it is curious that we don’t have quite a few more recordings as they have released at least forty-two (42) to date.

King Kwela Featuring Spokes Mashiyane – "King Kwela" – [Artone]

aarbor   7/15/2020   CD, International

King Kwela is Spokes Mashiyane, a master of the Penny Whistle from South Africa. As a young child he tended his father’s cattle and to fend off boredom became a master of the reed flute. When he moved to Johannesburg to work as a domestic servant, one of his first purchases was a penny whistle which he mastered as well. While jamming on a street corner he was spotted by a talent scout. Don’t hesitate to play this – all  tracks tuneful and worth a spin. AArbor

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