KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Artificial Brain – “Infared Horizon” – [Profound Lore]

Lord Gravestench   9/8/2018   A Library, CD

Artifical Brain, Technical Death Metal from The Big Bagel. Some members are also involved in the post-Hardcore scene out there.

Now I’m reading about Tech-Death online and I guess I don’t really know shit about it. I do like early Nile quite a bit (bite me!) but this doesn’t really sound like early Nile, at all. Portal meets Krallice might be a better reference point— and as we will see, I mean this as a compliment!

If I say I’m picky about Tech-Death I mostly just mean that I don’t like Gorguts all that much. My eternal Prog-metal nemesis Colin Marston, who plays in Gorguts (and Krallice), actually co-produced (with the band) this 2017 sophomore effort, as well as recording and engineering. It isn’t really a surprise because Marston is all over the NYC metal scene. I like to give the gentleman shit in my reviews here, but his touch on ‘Infrared Horizon’ probably did have a positive impact (as it did on Mastery’s ‘Valis’ BTW).

Artificial Brain’s sound is Tech-Death drawing somewhat on old Atrocity, with a bit of Black Metal melody and a dash of Isis-like Girlfriend Metal lipgloss. And the thing is, it all works amazingly well. Perhaps the fact that the band prefer sci fi horror themes (think ‘Alien’) for their lyrics (like Nocturnus, but, y’know, not totally boring) helps to make the forward-thinking/progressive/possibly overproduced sound so appropriate. Even the title track’s appearance by arch-tool Trevor Strnad, of contemptible posers Black Dahlia Murder, passes completely unnoticed. Paulo Paguntalan of Encenethrakh, another Marston project, appears on three tracks also. Main vocalist W.S. (see also: grindcore band Buckshot Facelift) keeps things gritty with a versatile mix of pigsqueals, growls and blackened shrieks.

All the music is composed by their guitarist. Dense, layered, psychotic, claustrophobic, but also kind of glittery and robotic. What sounds like utter chaos soon reveals itself to be well-structured and in some cases almost catchy Death Metal.

I think this is a rare case of a popular Death Metal band that doesn’t suck, but I haven’t seen them live yet so maybe I’ll end up eating crow. Good sound on the CD, anyway… In all seriousness, I’ve been a supporter of Artifical Brain since their first album and I’m happy for them. And the album art doesn’t remind me of the movie ‘Wall-E’ at all.

Dane, Barbara – “Hot Jazz, Cool Blues & Hard-Hitting Songs” – [Smithsonian Folkways]

humana   9/8/2018   Blues, CD


When I first looked at the cover of this 2-CD package, I was reminded of Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music.” But as soon as I started listening to the music and reading the liner notes, I knew it was so much more. Not that I don’t like Julie, but this Smithsonian retrospective of 60 years of Barbara’s music runs the gamut from folk to blues to jazz, and her amazing voice adapts to each style as though she was born to it. Plus, she opted out of the fame route and chose to sing where her passions lay–in civil right and songs of the people. Memphis Slim, Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Chambers Brothers, Pete Seeger, and many others appear on here. Be sure to listen to Disc 2, which contains the unreleased recordings. See for yourself why Louis Armstrong referred to Dane thus: “Did you get that chick? She’s a gasser!”

Gibson, Robert – “Flux and Fire” – [Innova/American Composers]

Hemroid The Leader   9/5/2018   A Library, CD

Images in transition, transforming in time, like indiscreet undulations of the desert, or lines of poetry are the basis for “12 Poems,” short (2:21 max) for violin and piano. “I want to drink from the storm,” says composer Robert Gibson.
“Soundings” double-bass quartet a conversation in deeper voices. Gibson played bass for Mose Allison, Bob Berg, and Barney Kessel in the 80s. Sounding is the nautical term for depth measurement.
Night Music solo pieces ready for grave listening.

Verequete & Group Uirapuru – “Dance Music From Para, Amazonia” – [Wergo]

Hemroid The Leader   9/5/2018   CD, International

Varequete began his career as a modernizer and finished a traditionalist. In the 1960s he made radio hits popularizing the carimbó, a rhythm that in 2014 was designated Brazilian Cultural Heritage by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute. You may recognize it as the lambada? Drums – sax, clarinet, and fiddle at times. Vocal sing alongs and Varequete chatting.

Djll, Tom – “Serge Works” – [Other Minds, Inc.]

lexi glass   8/28/2018   A Library, CD

Tom Djll is a local experimental musician whose work throughout his decades-long career is well-represented in our library, from his solo work to his ensemble projects Grosse Abfahrt, Tender Buttons, and many others. This release, part of Other Minds‘ 2018 Modern Hits series, collects recordings from the early period of Djll’s career in the 1980s, as he was just beginning to assemble his own Serge Modular synthesizers and use the instrument to accompany, or process, the sounds of his trumpet.

In these seven works, trumpet tones bend and stretch into space age sine waves, periodic pulses, blasts of noise, and other surprising sounds. But they’re arranged in different ways: in “popcorn music” (T3), “Pair Time,” (T5) and the understated “Francine” (T6), as a evolving improvised sound collage (those last two, featuring percussionist Ross Rabin, especially call to mind Tender Buttons), in “schitzo-analysis” (T2) or the centerpiece “FAT” (T4, an excerpt of an hour long piece), as intense, luminous drones, and in “Tombo” (T1) and “Seattle 1988” (T7), while Djll claims he was inspired by punk and noise, I hear them as a warped, funhouse mirror reflections of free jazz. More information about the recordings and some nerding out over Serge modules in the disc’s liner notes.

Scott-Adams, Peggy – “Best of Peggy Scott-Adams: 16 Hits!” – [Mardi Gras Records, Inc]

Naysayer   8/26/2018   Blues, CD

Peggy Scott-Adams does not play. When she wants a man, she gets him, no matter whose man he belonged to. And you better not touch her unless she says go. Peggy is serious and it’s great to hear her sing about it. These 16 hits from 1996, when Peggy started her solo career, to 2006, cover a lot of territory and are renowned within the blues and r&b community for pushing the boundaries of topics to discuss. Spousal abuse, losing your man to another man, ageism, talking to women about how they need to keep themselves up and not become a man’s pawn: it’s all here. The lyrics may not always be PC but they are honest. Her vocal style is sultry with some diva, southern gospel trills and holding out notes with great skill. She can belt it out like the best of them when needed. And she talks to her audience: ladies, and gentlemen, listen up. The instrumentation falls into that late ’90’s electric piano, drum machine sound but her voice takes over and you kind of forget about it. She might play Biscuits & Blues in San Francisco but I’d rather see her in Hayward at Shirlene’s Iron Horse or the Why Not. Get my drift?

Birchwood, Selwyn – “Pick Your Poison” – [Alligator Records]

Naysayer   8/26/2018   Blues, CD

When a flute fades in to start off track 1, “Trial By Fire”, on Selwyn Birchwood’s excellent, newest CD, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Within seconds the lap steel guitar pulls in and we are off. Birchwood’s approach is to play off old blues’ styles but to make them his own. Tone is a bit swampy at times, gritty and rough, which is the best. His guttural baritone takes to the forefront of an exceptionally tight four piece outfit: Birchwood on guitar, lap steel and vocals, Regi Oliver on all things sax plus flute, Huff Wright holding it down on bass and Courtney “Big Love” Girlie on drums and percussion. Lyrics are about men loosing their women and drinking through their pain, dealing with alcohol, relationship troubles, with contemporary references like intervention, texting, cell phones. But there is more: songs about the police state and workers in the corporate machine make us remember we are in the end of the second decade of the 21st Century. Through all of this, though, there is a southern church feel, a religious tone that is not overbearing but is apparent. It’s not bludgeoning the listener, just part of Birchwood’s personality. Blues isn’t just old tyme and reissues. This new stuff is kicking some butt. Enjoy.

Southern Avenue – “Southern Avenue” – [Stax Records]

Naysayer   8/24/2018   Blues, CD

This one caught me off guard and kind of blew me away. Southern Avenue have only been around for a few years but sound like they have been together forever. This blues and soul blues quintet are creating a sound rooted in traditional blues but sounding contemporary, of this century. Not falling into that scary overproduced or not dirty enough sound of many modern blues recordings, Southern Avenue have successfully blended blues and dirty Memphis soul without sounding retro. This is new stuff, listeners, and it will get you moving. Started by guitarist Ori Naftaly who left Israel to come to the US to play the blues, he met up with vocalist Tierini Jackson who introduced him to her drum playing sister, Tikyra Jackson. The band is rounded out with Daniel McKee on bass and Jeremy Powell on all things keyboard. Ten songs take you through seering musicianship that’ll turn your head, as will Tierini’s outrageously strong vocals which sound slightly reminiscent of Beyonce. It must be a Memphis thing. Just dive in. It’s such a great surprise.

Takada, Midori & Satoh, Masahiko – “Lunar Cruise” – [Epic Records]

Naysayer   8/22/2018   A Library, CD

This rerelease of Midori Takada and Masahiko Satoh’s 1990 “Lunar Cruise” is a beautiful, unique album, rich in diversity of sound. Recorded after the two of them performed in countries in Africa, Europe and Asia, this album is full of the musical traditions from these parts of the world. All instrumentals, each track stands on it’s own. The diverse instrumentation flows from synth beats to minimalist marimba, middle eastern jazz to gongs and electronic drones. Satoh plays a variety of synthesizers and Midori plays percussion. Their interaction is thrilling to listen to because of the ease with which they play together and the comfort displayed in the diversity of sounds.

Godspunk Volume 3 [coll] – [Pumf Records]

Thurston Hunger   8/22/2018   A Library, CD


[coll] : Godspunk Volume Three Backfilling our Godspunk collect ’em all void. Released in
2005, this comp starts in 1984. All’s well that starts well
with Orwell, and a dash of Subhumans too. The leadoff artist
Howl in the Typewriter is Mark Standing, the one who PUMF’s
up the volume of these comps. He’s a clever dude, his wry-fi
raps are the sweet chunks o’ spunk, from the F-to-the-C-to-the
muddereffing-shining-C. The 3 Ages of Elvis provide two takes
on rock, first whistle-jangle pop then Brit bangers and boogie.
Jungle to jeer Jesus by from Pissed Off. Norman piles multiple
cartoons into one instrumental. Litterbug with two straight
driving rockers dipped in teenage angst sauce. The Taurus
Board pilots simple techno with a George Carlin sample in
the passenger seat. Razor Dog’s got some bark. LDB = hip-hop,
indicted as old and white but my guess is MF Doom would find
it arresting. Reverends touched me, in a good way. UNIT is
kinda kooky, punky/proggy with flute roops, hell they sing
a song in Aztec(?!?). Kate Fear (a ruling name) makes plans
with Nigel Joseph for a synth/speak swirl ala Map 71. The
Time Flies! bounce beats with Brooklyn in the house via a
complaint line call on their first, then try on Les Baxter’s
old clothes while watching porn. The last Howl has 1:38
of silence before his rant. outStanding weirdos swimming
in the Black Pool gene pool. -Thurston Hunger
FCC #1, #4, #6, #8, #12, #21

Khoury, Mike – “Tocsin” – [Detroit Improvisation]

Phil Phactor   8/22/2018   A Library, CD

A set of three pieces for solo violin, with and without electronics, all composed to accompany the dances of Leyya Tawil. On the first track, Tawil’s footfalls share sonic space with Mike Khoury’s barely there harmonic flutters. There’s a lot of space in this piece, and you’re left to imagine the visual element. The second track opens with a slow, repeated chime, but quickly grows into a sprawling morass of wailing drones as Khoury utilizes electronics to double and triple up on himself. Eventually, everything fades away, and the piece ends on the same note it started. The last track is similar to the first one, with Khoury upper harmonic explorations mingling with the suggestive sounds of bodily motion, both dissipating into the reverberant space. This limited edition CD-R was released on Khoury’s own Detroit Improvisation label, founded in order to document his personal journey as an improviser.

Flaherty / Corsano / Yeh – “a Rock In The Snow” – [Important Records]

lexi glass   8/21/2018   CD, Jazz

Live recordings from 2004 from avant saxophonist Paul Flaherty, drummer Chris Corsano, and C. Spencer Yeh aka Burning Star Core. Flaherty and Corsano had been developing their high energy free jams as the Flaherty/Corsano Duo for years before these sessions, and here Yeh adds violin and vocals to the mix. Yeh’s distorted playing moves in parallel with Flaherty’s white hot saxophone solos, like a form and its fuzzy shadow that follows along until it suddenly finds a life of its own. At times Yeh escalates the intensity into some Flynt-style fiddling freakouts. Corsano’s drumming is, as always, a total pleasure to hear – thoroughly precise and powerful, but still free, artful, brilliant. When he steps away from the action in the middle of T2 and T4, it feels like being in the eye of a storm. Yeh’s vocal stylings – from his throat-scraping utterances in T2, crazed yelps in T4, and last dying gasps in the final aftermath of “Swamp-Like Heartache” – add another weird dimension to the tracks. I’ll stop now and refer you to the much more entertaining track-by-track liner notes from Johnny Coorz, aka John Olson, who got to know the trio well when they toured with Wolf Eyes (and Prurient, damn… and that probably explains the title of T2) in 2005.

Coil – “ELpH Vs Coil: Worship The Glitch” – [Dais]

Lord Gravestench   8/19/2018   A Library, CD

Coil seem to be legitimately famous now– posthumously of course, and is that not always the way? Every record store with a separate ‘Gothic and Industrial’ section seems to have a bunch of their records now. The erstwhile lovers and longtime counterparts Jhonn Balance and Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson were legends long before they were legendary and the exposure probably would have irritated them.

Originally released in 1995, this is a reissue from this year of what may be Coil’s most abstract recording. Taking a page from Brian Eno’s book (or a card from his deck?), the Industrial mad scientists/ritual magick practitioners employed aleatory (that is, chance-based) methods of composition, subjecting their own minimal session recordings to a variety of software-driven manipulations. Balance and Sleazy dubbed the incorporeal third member whose collaborative intentions emerged from the randomised manipulations ‘ELpH.’ I’m not clear on the exact details of the methods the band employed, but it seems likely that drugs were involved, possibly MDMA, as contrary to popular belief the diagnosed schizophrenic Balance was not a real-life fan of ‘Love’s Secret Domain’ (I’m not so sure about Sleazy).

This is not ‘glitch’ in the Techno sense. Whispy, spectral, often barely musical, sometimes quite queasy and frequently possessed of an otherworldly beauty, this looks back to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Tangerine Dream and “honorary member” K. Stockhausen but doesn’t really sound like them and gosh, I guess nothing that’s come out since really sounds like this either. Coming from a band who so defined the ‘song-based’ quadrant of Industrial music, this is challenging listening indeed, calming and maddening all at once.

It’s all over the place. T.2 is like getting smacked in the face with the pixelated alarm clock. T.8 might be singing. T.9 sounds like an aviary. T.12 is kind of fucked-up minimal techno, with hyper-sped-up voices. T.13 alleges to be an instrumental cover of ‘These Boots are Made for Walking.’ T.16, the most overtly musical piece, is a manipulated recording of Aleister Crowley’s wife Leah Hirsig singing part of ‘For All We Know.’ Most of the tracks are pretty short.

It makes no sense, and although vaguely in line with Coil’s other ‘drone’ works from the mid-90s, it’s quite atypical for a Coil album. If you play it for dogs or infants, they may attain samadhi.

At the end of the day, I think Coil was the best of the three groups formed out of the ashes of Throbbing Gristle. A truly singular pair of sound manipulators. RIP.

Ames Sanglantes – “Chindia Tower Impalements” – [Hospital Productions]

Lord Gravestench   8/13/2018   A Library, CD

Quebecois Pierre-Marc Tremblay is internationally recognised as half of the Black Metal project Akitsa, founded in the late ’90s. What perhaps fewer fans may know is that he has been equally renowned in Noise circles for about the same span of time under the name Ames Sanglantes, trans. Bloody Souls. A.S., long a member of the Hospital Productions inner circle alongside like minds such as Prurient and Alberich, is genuinely one of the harshest and most difficult Power Electronics/Noise projects your reviewer has ever encountered.

The project’s releases often seem to be intended as abstract representations of physical violence – in KFJC’s library already are albums called ‘Street Violence’ and ‘Le Cri du Pendu’ (‘The Hangman’s Cry’). This 2018 reissue of a 2015 cassette release is in a similar vein, as it were…

Inspired by European folk hero, whoops I mean infamous sadist and tyrant Vlad The Impaler, this is Slow Execution Electronics, or as the artist would have it, “Ancient Blood Soaked Architectural Column Noise,” a nod to Vlad’s starkly fortified Chindia Tower, which stands to this day. Each of the 3 CDs in this attractive edition houses two basically endless Harsh Noise tracks reminiscent of Vomir, Richard Ramirez, Maurizio Bianchi, and Whorebutcher among others.

What’s so fascinating about this album is how it manages to create the impression of a continuous, crushing wall of noise, when in fact it has many changes happening all the time, just not obviously. To a casual listener it may create the impression of Harsh Noise Wall, but up close, the very gradual variations in the pulsing electronic tones, buried samples and crumbling distortion create an incredible sense of slow, agonizing progress, rather akin to an iron stake gradually working its way up along the spine.

Play this if Brighter Death Now’s ‘May All Be Dead’ or Will Over Matter’s ‘Power Dances’ had just a little too much going on for you. Layers upon layers of ravaged electronics create maniacal nightscapes where you’ll encounter screams and sadistic laughter (1.1), night birds ousting day birds (1.2), thunderstorms (2.1), hissing dungeons (2.2), wolves, some of which may be human (3.1), and full-on burning, twisting synth impalement (3.2). Each track is a mystifying gem of the deepest blood red. Most will drive a certain kind of KFJC listener absolutely nuts; if you’re dumb enough to pick up the studio phone please remind them that they are not actually being impaled on an iron spike and that it’ll be OK. Also recite the following: “Hail Dracul! Hail Wallachia! Hail the Underground! Hail Darkness and Oppression!”

Each track is about 30 minutes long, but you can always play part of one.

Big Chief Ellis – “Big Chief Ellis” – [Trix Records]

humana   8/9/2018   Blues, CD


This is a slice of blues history (first released in 1976) that is a great addition to our library. All compositions created, played on piano, and sung by Big Chief Ellis, with Tarheel Slim, Brownie McGhee, and John Cephas on guitar. Be sure to read the liner notes that describe how Wilbert Ellis, despite his religious parents’ mandate that forbade music in the house, got his aunt to let him play her piano by mowing her lawn. His clear, strong voice, and his sure-fingered piano work make this a must-play for any blues show.

Kilgour, Hamish – “Finklestein” – [Badabing Records]

humana   8/9/2018   A Library, CD


Hamish Kilgour (of The Clean) composed these songs about the kingdom of Finkelstein for his son, Taran. They were intended to be the soundtrack to a story, and that is still the intention. I’d say that, given the story contained in the songs themselves, and the cheery way they spark your imagination, the story has almost written itself. The CD art is reminiscent of that for the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” and you’ll just have to try this out to see how the whole experience works for you.

Asteroid No. 4, The – “Collide” – [13 O’Clock Records]

humana   8/9/2018   A Library, CD


This psych/shoegaze music sounds as cool as the art on the CD sleeve looks. Celebrating their 20th anniversary, Asteroid No. 4 brings you this release of extra-aural pleasure that is sometimes mellow, sometimes intense, with bird sounds introducing “Weeping Willow” (which is graced by a lovely female voice). The rest of the vocals are male, hazy, and worth listening to. “Sagamore…bring the village to the shore…” Are they talking about the bridge to Cape Cod, or something else? Enjoy.

Crash Syndrom – ‘Postmortem Solutions to Mundane Issues’ – [Obliteration Records]

Lord Gravestench   8/7/2018   A Library, CD

C.R.A.S.H. Syndrome (AKA M.A.S.A. syndrome) is a rare X-chromosome-linked recessive neurological disorder, characterized by Corpus callosum hypoplasia, Retardation, Adducted thumbs, Spastic paraplegia, and Hydrocephalus. To the lay-observer, the condition would likely seem a case merely of R., and that’s what they call a synecdoche.

Crash Syndrom, meanwhile, is a Japanese Grindcore band with two members (I hear they recently added a chick bassist, but anyhow it’s just two guys on this CD). Their drummer is Japanese and their vocalist/guitarist seems to be an immigrant of Ukrainian origin. Together they make beautiful traditional music. Bitch-mutilation and whore-embalming are the general themes encrypted in the bloody gargles. The guitars are surprisingly ‘wanky’ at times, but a little flourish can go a long way in this kind of thing. A nice balance of brutality and panache on this 2018 CD, their first album, with traces of the guts of Repulsion, Exhumed, Wormrot smeared here and there. The duo display tight synchrony, but not in a gay way. Deadpan nurse sampled inscrutably on t.14, which, at 3m27s, is about a minute longer than the second-longest song.

T.s 1 and 15 are proggy guitar instrumentals. T.17 is an a capella cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Should’ve Said No’ sung by a young female wearing loud headphones. An older brotherly clandestine recording prank perhaps? Regardless, it may be the most blood-curdling thing on here.

Inutili /Hallelujah! [split] – [Aagoo Records]

Max Level   8/7/2018   A Library, CD


Scum rock. Hallelujah! is an Italian trio and I think Inutili may also be an Italian trio. Blasting guitars and pounding drums giving us energetically repetitive sludge. The vocals tend to be buried in the mix and the lyrics are generally hard to decipher, although there are several clear FUCKS on Track 4. And on Track 1, the lyrics mostly go like this: “MICE MICE MICE MICE MICE MICE.” Track 2 is around 7 minutes long and goes through a few sections with different dynamics, heavy on guitar. The tracks are all pretty rockin’. I can’t say that most of them offer much in the way of redeeming social value, and I suspect that’s pretty much what the bands had in mind.