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Music Reviews

Beyond Captain Orca! – “Live 2018” – [Self Release]

Jay Omega   4/17/2022   A Library, CD

Beyond Captain Orca! are a purely improvisational band out of Seattle featuring the psychedelic guitar work of Jack Endino. The tracks ebb and flow as the musicians play off of each other on their meandering journeys. When one idea is played out, a new idea quickly emerges. There are three tracks on this release spanning two live performances. The third track also features Ganjas’ guitarist, Pablo Giadach, from Chile. At roughly 10, 20 and 30 minutes, there is a track length to fit your needs.

Somali Yacht Club – “The Sun +1” – [Robustfellow Prods.]

Jay Omega   4/17/2022   A Library, CD

This is the debut album of Somali Yacht Club, a Ukrainian band from Lviv Ukraine. This power trio moves between, and blends, Stoner rock, Psychedelic rock, Shoegaze, Post-metal, Post-rock, Dub, Doom, and Space rock, to create heavy prog-like journeys. Their ability to move about the musical universe is amazing. If I had to pick something to criticize, it would be that they do it just a little bit too well.

Moondog – “More Moondog/The Story of Moondog” – [Prestige/New Jazz]

aarbor   4/13/2022   CD, Jazz

Moondog is Louis Thomas Hardin b. 1916 in Marysville, KS. He grew up amidst Native Americans in Wyoming and began his career as a Manhattan street musician during World War II. He lost his sight at age 17 due to an accident with a dynamite cap. I first heard him as a preschooler in NY on a record I had. I later saw him on the street in NY and was fascinated by his Viking costume. I bravely walked up and told him that he was on a record I had. Some bits of the percussion from that record are found here and there on this release which includes 30 tracks of his 2nd and 3rd Prestige releases. This is sounds of NY: the tugboats, ocean liners, people on the streets, instruments real and invented, dances in different time signatures. I love it because it’s part of my childhood in sound and it’s Moondog’s world. AArbor

Jones, Boogaloo Joe – “Boogaloo Joe Jones” – [Prestige/New Jazz]

aarbor   4/13/2022   CD, Jazz

Ivan Joseph “Boogaloo Joe” Jones (b. 1940) is an American jazz guitarist. These recordings are from August 1969 and February 1970 re-released as part of the Legends of Acid Jazz series in 1996. These tracks are a part of early “acid jazz” which incorporated psychedelic elements into jazz in the form of percussion and electronic dance beats. Boogaloo adds a bit of funk and soul too. Track 4 quotes audibly from Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love”. Track 9 is wonderfully funky. Jones was a session musician for the Prestige label at the time of this recording. AArbor

Exek – “Advertise Here” – [Castle Face Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/12/2022   A Library, CD

Oz-balls. with Albert Wolski’s languid vox on top of awkward pop songs. The drums want to party, the rest of the band is fine just chill’ing in a post-Clean lighted synth space. The CD beings and ends with brief palette cleansing instros. Wolski steps to the mic and on toes on #2 with “You’re looking pregnant, are you pregnant?” If this album took a paternity test, it might indicate Cueniform and Flying Nun as label parents. Ben Hepworth’s bass is a stand-out, check him out as he boogies his was from “Sen Yen For 30 Min of Violin” on into “Beyond Currency.” Ben straight up pumps up the sonic tent for synth/piano to breathe and for the occasional guitar Fripp-flare or trumpet squoom. Is Valya YL Hooi the trumpeteer? She also guest sings briefly on “Unseasonable Warmth” – her 2021 “Untitled” album is a nice drifty, dizzy dream of an album btw. Back on the Exek summary, not sure what the title means (nor sure about a lot of Wolski’s words) but it’s a pretty smooth ride.
-Thurston Hunger

Genocide Pact “Genocide Pact” [Relapse Records]

atavist   4/9/2022   A Library, CD

Death metal oozes from an old-school vein in the seams of the nation’s capital. Medium-length tracks, straight/no chaser. Riffs land like the plodding gallop of a horse made of boulders, the blasting amplification a filthy dust that billows in the wake. Guitar reaches for the sky only to be pulled back into the befouled earth. The band have, in their words, watched friends die while the world around them crumbles, and this is an expression of where they found themselves in 2021. It is at once uncompromising in its pursuit while rigidly adhering to its adopted USDM traditions. A tension arises between abandon and restraint. Perhaps in such a disorienting time it reorients to pursue mastery within an established form. Drop in to be crushed.

Jugendwerkhof – “Urruin” – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   4/6/2022   A Library, CD

“Jugendwerkhof”… would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

Intracranial hemorrhage… prescient night-terror… autoerotic depersonalization… Limbic system failure… somnambular suicide… silica mastication… convulsive dementia… fever capitulation… involuntary dentistry… enforced dysentery… penetrative electrocution… matricidal malaise… or the concerted destruction of mankind’s propensity for comfort.. 

Named after the German post-war “youth workshops” installed in East Germany by the Soviets which were notorious for their miserably oppressive conditions lacking both privacy and physical contact in deserted castles, barracks, and monasteries which provided a insidious breeding ground for systemic physical and emotional abuse.

Brutzelt wie Kinderblut auf einer glühenden Pfanne und brennt wie Glasscherben in der Harnröhre.

Berlin – 2022

Trovesi, Gianluigi and Coscia, Gianni – “In Cerca di Cibo” – [ECM Records GmbH]

aarbor   4/6/2022   CD, International

The unlikely ensemble of clarinet and accordion is what you have here. Gianluigi Trovesi plays clarinets of all sizes and Gianni Coscia plays accordion. It’s kind of a union of jazz and folk music – jazzed up versions of well-known Italian folk melodies. Umberto Eco, who wrote the liner notes, an essay called “Devils in Music”, says “Coscia and Trovesi know how to contaminate a piece without damaging its unity and without sacrificing the listener’s chances of recognizing the [original].” I don’t get all the musical references but you can enjoy the music without getting them. btw In Cerca di Cibo means looking for food. AArbor

Humeniuk, Pawlo – “King of The Ukrainian Fiddlers” – [Arhoolie Productions]

aarbor   4/6/2022   CD, International

Pawlo Humeniuk was born in Western Ukraine but emigrated to the U.S. around 1902 when he was about 18. He was a terrific fiddler and in demand to play at Ukrainian social events especially weddings. He made at least 250 recordings. These recordings were made in New York from 1925-1927 and feature quite a bit of wedding-related music. Arhoolie have done a great job of documenting what each piece is called and how it fits into the context of the event. Track 13 is one of Humeniuk’s most celebrated recordings. Track 21 is a very well-loved melody in the Ukraine. Different groupings of instruments both traditional Ukrainian and orchestral, can be heard on each track. AArbor

Shner, Idit and Mhondoro – “Heat Wave” – [OA2 Records]

aarbor   4/6/2022   CD, Jazz

Idit Shner is sax player from Israel, John Mambira is a traditional musician from Zimbabwe, the rest of the crew are all from Oregon (where they live today). From backyard jams and living room recording sessions during the pandemic came the song Fingerprints [7] and then the other 6 tracks of this release. Mhondoro means “the lion spirit’ in Shona (a Zimbabwe language). A band and release born of the pandemic Shner and Mambira were in a “parent pod” (their children attended online school together). It’s global and hyper-local jazz – how American. AArbor

Guinea Pig – “The New Neighbors” – [Edgetone Records]

Max Level   4/4/2022   CD, Jazz

Guinea Pig is a jazz quartet that formed in 1995 and has finally released their second album. Recorded live in 2019 at the SF Musicians Union Hall. The lineup is Timothy Orr–drums/percussion, Rent Romus–saxophones, Robert Kuhlmann–electric bass, and Tony Passarell–saxophone and cornet. Six pieces of solid outside jazz, ranging from around 4 to 7 minutes in length. Check out the cool blowing-two-saxes-at-once action. Orr on drums really propels this group. Nothing I don’t dig about this.

Thollem – “Obstacle Illusion” – [Astral Spirits]

Max Level   4/4/2022   A Library, CD

Thollem’s imagination continues to astound. Four lengthy pieces here: Tracks 1 and 4 are solo piano inventions that cover a lot of unpredictable ground; Tracks 2 and 3 are tumultuous electronic pieces performed on his trusty Korg Wavestate keyboard. As a master of every musical style on this planet and beyond, his technique is brilliant and seemingly effortless. Much respect for that. But the way he jumps from one idea to another, one musical voice to another, and somehow makes all the passages flow together like they belong together—that’s what puts him in a class of his own. He NEVER seems to be out of ideas. And I mean good ones. All material recorded live in Italy, late 2021. No overdubs.

Measures of Decay [coll] – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   3/30/2022   A Library, CD

Double-feature Horror Vignette

En Nihil begins the diptych: A marauding beast lurches through an electronic forest illuminated by an inverted crescent moon laced with briars, brambles, and dead leaves before tumbling into a clearing where a chaste maiden far too removed from her bedchamber, though dressed accordingly, turns her virtuous face toward us just as our view is ominously obscured by the hulking , terrible monstrosity. Her eyes alight, and in recognition of her grisly fate begin to shudder as her scream cleaves the night. An intimation of violence before the scene is swallowed by malevolent shadows.

No Visitors continues the morbid tale upon an isolated mountain peak. A wayward traveler claws his way over the frozen landscape amid howling winds. His fractured mind has continued to play tricks on him as the imminent storm approaches… but the voices urge him on. No longer aware of the blood caked to his frozen hands, he is utterly depleted. Exhausted, he pauses for breath and looks up to see the moon’s scowl as his legs tremble, the knees buckle, and he slides and then tumbles into the abyss. He lands hard upon the ice. He will not live, but he will have time to reflect on his miserable life between blessed lapses in consciousness… His ears are ringing. Body broken. But the journey has not ended… for he was a wicked man and the devil awaits their reunion.

A genuinely alarming release from a mysterious noise label from Austin, TX. Little can be gleaned from online sleuthing as bandcamp seems to hold the keys to Rural Isolation Project… and they’re not sharing. Nor are No Visitors. However, En Nihil is one Adam Fritz, a prolific creator of harsh sounds with releases stretching back to 1996.

2022

Alternate African Reality [coll] – [Syrphe Records]

SlartiBartfast   3/29/2022   A Library, CD

Alternative African Reality – [Coll]

African rhythms meet an otherworldly electronic universe on this compilation curated by Cedrik Fermont of Syrphe Records. This double CD collection transcends musical expectations by defining it’s own African experimental and electronic soundscape. Alternative African Reality drifts between afro-techno tracks with beats to keep you awake at night and electronic glitches that haunt your nightly dreams. There is a healthy sprinkling of field recordings, spoken word, and tracks that seem recorded by cell phone on the local corner to add flavor to this musical stew. Highly recommended as an interesting and intriguing double CD that will shock your auditory cortex while providing delicious musical treats for all curious taste buds. 

Tri Atma/Tri Atma

carsonstreet   3/27/2022   CD, International

Tri Atma was founded in 1977 by German guitarist Jens Fischer and Indian tabla player Asim Saha, Tri Atma fuses Eastern musical elements with Western electronic pop and psychedelia. Jens Fischer: “Tri Atma was founded around 1976, initially we were 3 people, the tabla player Asim (pronounced Oshim), a saxophone player Herbert Koschmieder and a sitar player, Manfred Flathe”. In 1982, the duo met Klaus Netzle, a veteran German record and television producer who brought the space-age sounds of the Fairlight and Synclavier computer synthesizers to their music. This is their first album and was recorded in 1979. Jens Fischer: ” We were inspired by everything from everywhere. I was very much into jazz, Miles Davis especially, Indian music, blues, reggae. Actually when you listen to the first album you will notice that all the bass lines were just reggae riffs. And we weren’t using a regular bass guitar but an acoustic one

Wilson, Cassandra – “Thunderbird” – [Blue Note]

aarbor   3/23/2022   CD, Jazz

Cassandra Wilson was born in Mississippi. After college she lived in New Orleans briefly and then moved to New York. There she was a part of the M-Base collective with Steve Coleman, Greg Osby and Geri Allen in the 1980s and then pursued a solo career. This release, one of many on Blue Note, is from 2006. One reviewer called it “a contemporary-sounding bluesy roots album that people under the age of 40 might want to hear”. Some songs are traditional [tracks 3, 5], track 7 is a Willie Dixon song, and Wilson herself contributed to writing tracks 1,4,6,10. AArbor

Disorientalists, The – “Who Was Essad Bey?” – [Oriente Musik]

aarbor   3/23/2022   CD, International

The only release by “The Disorientalists” who are Daniel Kahn, Yuriy Gurzhy and Marina Frenk. Kahn is from Detroit (and a U of Michigan alum) musician, actor and theatre director who lives in Germany these days. Kahn is also the founder of The Painted Bird an outfit whose music is described as “a mixture of Klezmer, radical Yiddish song, political cabaret, and folk punk”. It has been compared to the music of Tom Waits and Woody Guthrie. This release is in the same musical vein. It focuses on the story of Essad Bey, the pseudonym of Lev Nussimbaum a colorful Russian Jew who claimed to have converted to Islam and to have written quite a few books, then died at the age of 36. I suspect that this is the recording of a theatre piece which was produced at Maxim Gorski Theater’s STUDIO R. Klezmer meets folk and punk. AArbor

Wheeler, Mike – “Self Made Man” – [Delmark]

aarbor   3/23/2022   Blues, CD

Smokin’ blues from Chicago’s Mike Wheeler. This was his 1st release on his own from 2012 when he was about 50. Today the band is called The Mike Wheeler Band and Mike has written songs for a number of Chicago blues artists. Before this release, the band put out a self-released disk in 2003 – while Wheeler was playing with Big James Montgomery and his Chicago Playboys. His voice has been compared to Sam Cooke’s, he’s played with many well-known bluesmen and his years of experience are audible in the playing. Rootsy 12-bar Chicago-style blues. Enjoy! AArbor

Sete, Bola – “Samba In Seattle: Live At The Penthouse (1966-1968)” – [Tompkins Square]

aarbor   3/16/2022   CD, Jazz

Bola Sete (born Djalma de Andrade) was from Brazil. He left in 1959, at age 36 and never returned. He played at various hotels around the U.S. ultimately settling in the SF Bay Area These 3 CDs are from 6 live concerts, 2 each in 1966, 1967 and 1968, at Seattle’s venue the Penthouse. The music is mostly by Brazilian composers (including a couple of his own compositions), although J.S. Bach, Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn and Johnny Mandel are also represented. Sete is a virtuoso guitar player. It’s always a pleasure to listen to such mastery. The liner notes by various heavy hitters, pay tribute to him including an article written by John Fahey for Guitar Player Magazine. AArbor

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