Music Reviews

Greyhound – “A Storm Is Coming” – [Hands]

Mister S   8/3/2022   A Library, CD

German club music. Sturm and drang. Hard-hitting, relentless unforgiving rhythm’n’noise. A deep breath of darkness that comes with the 15-track-storm, a conclusion reached via the track titles.

Relentless beats from the low 100’s up to 150 plus. Most veer toward the high end. Dark and brooding with occasional barely discernible “vocals” can be heard in a few tracks. Rhythms at times evoke electroclash flavorings while others are more relentless, reminding this listener of 80’s electronic dance beats from Belgium and the UK.

Lots to work with. Play with the tempo and fine tune to your delight. Perhaps pepper with a spoken word track… 

released October 25, 2019

Deep Street Soul – “Deep Street Soul” – [Freestyle Records]

aarbor   8/3/2022   CD, Soul

Deep Street Soul are a soul/funk band from Melbourne, Australia. This is their first release from 2009. They are known for their delivery of hard-hitting gritty funk. Formed in 2006 as a Hammond-led instrumental four piece, they honed their sound in the Melbourne soul scene paying homage to their heroes from the late 60’s, in particular the sounds of the Meters and Booker T & the MGs. AArbor

Lightning Over the River [coll] – [Music Collection International Ltd.]

aarbor   8/3/2022   CD, International

This is a collection of Congolese Soukous Guitar style music. Soukous comes from the French word ‘secouer’ which means – to shake – as in shake your bootie.This is definitely music that makes you want to dance. Soukous came from the Cuban rumba – a creation of African slaves who mixed their own traditions into the music of their Spanish overlords. By the mid 20th century the rumba returned to Africa where various cultures used it to create colorful local varieties. Note that the opening passage can include a workout for the singer(s), and in the middle there is often and upbeat section called a sebene where the featured guitarist gets to show off their playing. Here are 10 tracks showcasing a variety of musicians and styles. Enjoy! AArbor

Intenta-Experimental & Electronic Music From Switzerland 1981-93 [coll] – [Les Disques Bongo Joe|]

Thee Opinataur   7/31/2022   A Library, CD

There are tunes here for the dance floor as well as plenty to chill to in the after-hours lounge. 

The compilation covers a period of transition: When synthesizers and samplers became DIY music-making. The beginning of a movement that slowly gave way to the embrace of acid-house, rave, and techno culture in Switzerland. This album mines the outer fringes of a scene yet to be. These artists, working in isolation before the time of the connected world were creating something all their own without the influences of social media. – Thee Opinataur

#Minimal wave|#synth-pop|#Experimental|#Proto-house|#Electronic|#Techno-pop

A Darker Shade of Grey [coll] – [Prank]

whngr   7/27/2022   A Library, CD

East Bay Crust Lords do battle with New Mexico Legends… everybody wins

Absolutely crushing Hardcore Punk / Thrash with Doom and Metal elements by two projects from New Mexico that were adapting exceptionally well to the changing sonic landscape. Grimple takes the slightly more conventional (at the time) approach with a blistering attack, mind shearing aggression, and shredded throats. Logical Nonsense unleashes a more technical offering with especially compelling (at the time) vocals that utilize the one shrieking, one bellowing mode made popular By Neurosis a few years prior with a bit of clean vocals and a single spoken word track (Track 16 “Untitled”) that provides an interesting though emphatically nihilistic palate cleanser after the barrage of suffering and malice unleashed by these two underground juggernauts.

This split was integral to my experience of life in the South Bay circa 1994. It is impossible to separate these tracks from my experience on this planet. So strong is the link of sound to memory, I am unable to stop from being propelled back in time. Just out of high school and overwhelmed with the gravity of adulthood, the miserable economy, lack of opportunities, and the ferocity of the music in “my scene”. I had taken 8 hits of liquid the summer of Junior year and my brain was absolutely fried. I had to abandon the drugs that had been my primary motivation for the few years prior and find whatever solace I could in the music that seemed to speak for me. In 1994 we were just post “Souls At Zero” which simply decimated the sonic landscape. Stripping bare our skeletal frames, our flesh turning to dust in a blast furnace of aural, and perhaps, cultural cataclysm. It was readily apparent that the future could never be the same and many of the musicians, bands, and artists felt that this was a changing of the guard and that intensity was the currency that provided salience. The gauntlet was at our feet and you either sat the fuck down and enjoyed the show, or your dug deep and stepped up to toe the line. I believe this album is an important response to a transformation happening in the scene, with both Grimple and Logical Nonsense answering the call to arms with their respective take on Crust/Hardcore Punk which, coincidentally, was something that Neurosis was moving away from. But we still wanted it. Christ, we needed that link to the past that was being torn asunder. Anarcho/Peace/Crust or whatever (Crass, Discharge, Rudimentary Peni, Extreme Noise Terror, Nausea, Amebix…) was a language we knew and trusted.. and we were not letting go… not yet anyway. Reveling in the visceral and evocative pushing of air and the dissemination of beliefs that were at merciless odds with the status quo and the “System” and musicians simply dripping with technical prowess. We worshipped at this altar. And however bleak the world was, however hopeless our lives were, no matter how far we might fall into this life devoid of meaning and filled with iniquity, crushed by a society that had no place for us, and doomed to fail in a ruthless game where the cards were stacked so high against us… we could put on A Darker Shade of Grey and feel just a little less alone. And we did. Over, and over, and over again. We would also see them when they rolled through or in Grimple’s case on the rare occasion when they would cross the bridge (so feverish was their East Bay pride and their Hispanic heritage) at a time when Oakland offered a very clear and present danger to punks, but they would cross the bridge on occasion, and they would slay… along with Logical Nonsense who were/are also of indigenous ancestry, contributing to the legitimacy of a message of oppression and of suffering. Something that was deeply respected in a scene built on woe. I didn’t intentionally stop listening to these bands but I had wallowed in these kind of sounds for years, neglecting compelling and incredible facets of a diverse sonic tapestry that I needed to explore… (curiosity killed the crust-punk) and contributed (unintentionally) to becoming a slightly more balanced human being, less bitter, cynical, and hopeless. Besides, I was thoroughly steeped in misery… absolutely fluent… and besides, this album was in my marrow.

Oakland / Santa Fe -1994


Track 1: fuckin’

Track 3: fucker, fuck, fuckin’, shit, bitch’

Track 4: fuckin’, fucking

Track 6: fuckin’, fuck

Track 7: fuckin’

Track 9: fuck, fuckin’

Track 10: fuckin’

Track 14: fuckin’, fuck

Track 15: fuck you (pig), fuckin’ (swine)

Nordvargr – “Pyrrhula” – [Cold Spring Records]

whngr   7/27/2022   A Library, CD

Haunting Dark Ambience

Medium to short length foreboding drones, creepy minimalism, and spooky abstractions from one Henrik Lennart Nordvargr Björk, who’s prodigious output under various titles (Pouppée Fabrikk, MZ. 412, All Hail the Transcendent Ghost, et al.) and genres has spanned more than three decades. Björk explores many different themes but appears to gravitate towards the turmoil of Europe in the 20th century and does so through myriad stylistic tributaries often employing electronic and synthesized sounds though he has stated that he prefers to record more traditionally, being drawn to the sounds of pedals and instruments over computer rendered audio. All tracks are heavy, deep, and quiet but if you’re not in the mood for stabbing into the darkness, might I suggest track 7, “Aryana of the Open Wound”.

Sweden – 2008

DJ Female Convict Scorpion – “A Taze Against Rhyme” – [Self Released]

whngr   7/27/2022   A Library, CD

Sound collage for the adventurous, dosed, and adventurously dosed. Colorful and composed.

A genuinely inscrutable sound buffet that defies all categorization though a tenuous thread of “jazz” seems to tie these heterogeneous tracks together. Soft trains, choral elements, film score, whimsical electronic musing, pitch shifting, sad smoky horns, echoes, swells, jabbing stoner bass, psych guitar, gentle latin jazz percussion, simulated (?) sitar, sad and subdued blues guitar, sullen violin, Nico (?),  and on, and on… Volunteers who enjoy eclecticism and the perversely atypical will revel in these profoundly odd but also seemingly refined tracks. Drugs? No drugs? The choice is yours, dear listener, but if or how one chooses to modulate their biochemistry they will find themselves on an unusual and fascinating journey. It is one with abstract twists and acute turns but there isn’t even a hint of sadism from Josh Pollock (3 Leafs, Daevid Allen’s University Of Errors). Like a coyote during a peyote voyage he will guide you through strange realms but offer no cruelty, not a hint of sadistic sentiment will be felt… until the final track (Jazz Losin’ It) when we are struck by a massive detuned threnody for fourteen seconds of doom before pitching us abruptly into some ragtime shuffle bits, overblown horns, more obtuse angles and aural genuflection.

San Francisco – 2021

K2 – “Demokratika Spastika” – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   7/27/2022   A Library, CD

Diverse Electronic Disorder

A wide variety of unsettling abstractions that feel like the dreams of a spiny lobster soaking in ice water in its final moments of life. Jarring yet psychedelic. A sense of foreboding, an eagerness for it to end, and a masochistic urge to hear what might happen next.

K2 is one Kusafuka Kimihide aka Gewaltische Anus and Sakishima-no-Labia has been active since the early 80’s, has over 200 releases credited to him, and currently resides in:

Shizuoka, Japan – 2022

Books, The – “Way Out, The” – [Temporary Residence Ltd.]

cinder   7/27/2022   A Library, CD

A humorous blend of electronics, strings, rhythm & cut up sounds. Duo of Paul de Jong and Nick Zammuto, out of New York. The story is that they’d scout out old home recordings, vhs and cassettes from estates, thrifts and sales to use as their samples. It creates a fun listen akin to People Like Us, Negativland & Bran Flakes with a dash of electronic quirk of Matmos. A few have some singing, on the indie tip. Laptop pop, with a twist!  

Taha, Rachid – “Diwan 2” – [Wrasse Records]

aarbor   7/27/2022   CD, International

Rachid Taha’s work has been in our library for 30 years. Diwan 2 from 2006 has Taha singing with an all-star lineup of musicians. The song lyrics are in French or in Arabic. He’s Algerian and grew up in France. His musical style has been called “Rock and Rai”. He wanted to sing the songs that influenced him and pay homage to his culture. On Diwan 2 the first two songs are from Blaoui Houari [2], a major star in Algeria in the 1950s, and Mohamed Mazouni [1], whose Ecoute Moi Camarade was discovered by Taha in his parents’ attic. They are updated with classy, rhythmic production work from Steve Hillage, making use of anything from hand drums to sweeping strings. Taha proves that he can handle slinky, declamatory songs and ballads. The best tracks are the two written by him and Hillage, [5,7] with the reed flute and percussion driving on his urgent vocals. AArbor

Morgan, Sally Anne – “Cups” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

aarbor   7/27/2022   A Library, CD

North Carolina multi-instrumentalist Sally Anne Morgan tills the soil of old timey music, folk practices old and new, and psychedelia to create music that reaches out beyond its roots. Cups dives headfirst into the waters of the Morgan’s unconscious mind and plumbs those depths for swells of fertile brilliance and awe. Cups includes both improvised and composed pieces. There’s pensive, looped fiddle, tiptoed banjo, sunny parlor guitar arpeggios, droning dulcimer and percussive ripples.
The pieces push outside the rigid bounds of the fiddle tunes that Morgan was raised on, and embrace the inspiration of a moment. Morgan’s composing and recording process was less centered on capturing the perfect take but on finding unique moments and combinations of sounds that reflect back distinct parts of herself. The steady strums of banjo and flutters of fiddle on “Prune” [2} were initially laid atop tambura which was subsequently removed from the piece to give a stronger sense of space and slower pace. Scattered glockenspiels speckle “Night Window” [1] as fiddle loops compound and the evening air spills through open cabin windows. “Through the Threshold” [6] recalls the fiddle tune “Sugar in the Gourd”. Cups, which is named for the tarot card of the same name, is a set of casual yet graceful pieces – devotionals to the mundane and everyday. Simple pleasures like home cooked soup after time spent away which becomes a joyful, sprawling dance of melodies [7]. Pythagoras [4] is about the dilemmas of pastoral life and the impending slaughter of her first ram. “Everything about these songs is deeply intuitive, from the gut, trying to not think about it with my conscious mind,” she says. “In many ways my path as a musician has been a slow lesson of turning off my thinking rational mind and learning to trust my body and subconscious.” AArbor,

Sjunde Inseglet – “Kalontas Auton Pou Onomazetai Satanas Kai Diavolos” – [Ajna Records]

karma   7/26/2022   A Library, CD

2018 release by Sjunde Inseglet (lit. “The Seventh Seal”), occult/left-hand path project out of Sweden. Two tantric 20 and 24 minute tracks. The tracks feature tribal bells, drums, and gongs – but the nature sounds (e.g. ocean, volcano) on the tracks give the album an etheral, elemental quality. The cyclical beat gives a ritualistic feeling; the album name translates to “A Calling of the One Called Satan or the Devil.” Regardless of creed, anyone who likes dark instrumental music will enjoy the album. I’ll carry these tracks in my mind like they are a bowl brimming with fresh milk. The music could be simpler, or more complicated – but they’re enough for me.

PTRKLLR – “Live in Earth” – [Self-release]

Max Level   7/25/2022   A Library, CD

PTRKLLR = Peter Keller who is doing improvised situational performances on this 2020 release, using whatever materials/objects are at hand. Anything can produce a sound; the trick is to hear it for what it is and use it. Celebrate it. A creaking wooden floor, a baseboard heater, a plastic water bottle, a discarded cardboard cutout of ABBA, leaves and grass… those are just a few of the sound sources used here. The artist uses terms such as “acoustic noise textures” and “gestural field recordings” to describe his work, and that should give you a pretty good idea of what’s going on here. lowercase noise with a capital lowercase L. Fantastic.

Basinski, William – “Silent Night” – [2062]

whngr   7/22/2022   A Library, CD

Synthesized Solstice Somnolence

Dulcet electronic hymns and loops that bathe the listener in angelic washes of sound that float and fade… but will leave you as unstained as the Virgin Mary’s britches…   and taper off entirely at 40 min 50 seconds giving us space and time (about 20 Minutes) to reflect on the remote sound of chirping insects, providing a kind of asymmetric cadence to the lilting and tranquil drones.

This “meditation on the birth of Jesus” is entirely composed on a Voyetra 8 synthesizer which apparently includes the (very convincing) mating sounds of insects. Which, unlike Mary, are able to exercise free will, allowing them to attempt to satiate their primal urges and conceive without divine intervention. This album could be subtitled: The Cricket Christ.

Slightly spooky cover art by James Elaine.

Texas – 2004(?) – 2014(?) – 2018(?)

May, Ego Ella – “So Far” – [Tru Thoughts]

puplaif   7/20/2022   CD, Soul

Ego (pronounced eh-go) Ella May is a South London based singer and songwriter. She started writing in her early adolescence and got more serious with singing, guitar playing, and producing by her late teenage years. ‘So Far’  is an anthology of her recorded songs, compiled and re-released on Tru Thoughts in 2019. She considers the album to be a final farewell and shedding of her old self. Despite this departure, the tracks here represent an important passage in her evolution as an artist. Her balmy, incandescent vocals meld with compositions and beats cooked up by a number of contributing producers. Together they create a delectable fusion of neo soul, jazz, and alternative hip hop flavors. Her lyrics give you a little peak into what’s going on inside her head as she tells stories about love, music…the things that make the world go round.

Skank – “radiola” – [Sony Music Distribution]

aarbor   7/20/2022   CD, International

Skank are white boys from Belo Horizonte, Brazil who’ve been recording and playing together since the early 1990’s. Radiola from 2004 was their first compilation album. It includes only four new songs, including the Gilberto Gil cover “Vamos Fugir”. There’s also a Bob Dylan cover “I Want You”. The cover artwork is a painting by the Los Angeles artists the Clayton Brothers. Skank started out intending to mix dancehall with traditional Brazilian styles, but what you’ll hear on this release is closer to Britpop and the local style called Clube da Esquina. AArbor

Camelspotting [coll] – [EMI Hemisphere]

aarbor   7/20/2022   CD, International

A lovely collection of music from all over the Middle East: Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen… all tracks have vocals. The music is by newer artists in a traditional style. Very danceable – you’ll find this album in my playlists for the bellydance segment of my show for the last 20 years. AArbor

Shipp, Matthew and Gauci, Stephen – “Pandemic Duets” – [Gauci Music]

Max Level   7/19/2022   CD, Jazz

Gauci’s tenor sax teams up with Shipp’s piano, bringing us eight active conversations in which the two players weave around each other, suggesting things, following each other’s lead, staying fully engaged throughout. Creative improvisation at its best. This is one of nineteen improvised sessions in Gauci’s “Pandemic Duets” series, recorded in Brooklyn NY in the summer of 2020 when the Covid pandemic had brought activity in the NY music community to a standstill. Gauci resolved to give players in the local avant-jazz scene an outlet to express what they were feeling in those challenging times by inviting them to perform duets with him and recording the sessions. This release is solid and I don’t doubt the others in the series are as well.

Ufomammut “Fenice” [Neurot Recordings]

atavist   7/19/2022   A Library, CD

Ufomammut have demonstrated a willingness to take on conceptual material in the past, but they’ve upped their game on “Fenice” (pronounced Feh-NEE-chay, I reckon, the Italian translating to “Phoenix”). A sci-fi intro that glimmers like readouts in the darkened cabin of a well-worn spacecraft until the band kicks in. When they do, I hear a different vibe happening compared to earlier stuff I’ve heard from them. I wouldn’t say it’s upbeat—maybe manic. Until the crushing breakdown, which is pure Ufomammut, and yet a bit more immediate, more visceral. They’re balancing the frenetic and the long structures simultaneously. The gravitational lensing of space time is heavy enough to land it in some of our more psychedelic programs. That brief guitar solo in track 3, Psychostasia, with the massive bass below is killer. Given the translation of the album title, this reviewer anticipated track 4, Metamorphoenix, as a possible title track, and as such, might serve as a microcosm for the larger macrocosmos of the album. But no, gentle textures give way, so gradually, to a building riff, but it’s quite symbiotically joined to track 5, Pyramind, much as track 2, Kheperer, is a natural dissolution/extension of track 1, Duat. With Pyramind the hammering riff is thrown down until all is left a shambles. Where some past Ufomammut compositions have driven ideas nearly into the ground, on “Fenice” they never stay in one place for too long. The final track, Empyros, is a relatively short and driving closer to drop a little adrenaline into a set. Atavist is pleased.

Jones, Glenn – “Vade Mecum” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

karma   7/18/2022   A Library, CD

va·de me·cum

/ˌvādē ˈmēkəm,vädē ˈmākəm/


a handbook or guide that is kept constantly at hand for consultation.

Origin: early 17th century: modern Latin, literally ‘go with me’.

Go with Glenn Jones, veteran guitarist who has been playing since Mrs. Robinson learned to help herself. Open this guide and find the red rose pressed within. Through American primitive guitar that is sophisticated in all but genre name, the lead of experimental rock band Cul De Sac bronzes admiration for those buzzing in his mind. Inspired by the playing style and avant-garde tuning of genre-bending artists like John Fahey and Robbie Basho, Jones takes you on a sonic tour of his life. Within the first few notes of the title track, you are transported to Glenn’s world. Just as Fred Eaglesmith takes you straight to the interstate and John Prine halfway to heaven, Glenn Jones invokes the bliss of late-night conversation with good friends, good music, and good drink. 

The tracks meld into themselves and one another, with a few seemingly false starts and endings. Oftentimes, the ideas and themes are only visible well after the tracks are over. It’s hard to characterize the songs as happy or sad, major or minor, bitter or sweet. 

Can’t you say the same about life? 

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