KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Eagle Twin – “The Thundering Heard: Songs of Hoof and Horn” [Southern Lord Recordings]

Max Level   1/10/2021   A Library, CD

Stoner doom heaviness out of Utah, but actually coming from a more unusual place than that: Eagle Twin’s songs are about snakes and wolves and trees and buffalo and antlers and wings and crows and water and blood and fire… things considerably older and more profound than mere humanity. I mean what on this earth could possibly be bigger and heavier to write music about? Whew. Two guys are Eagle Twin–Gentry Densley brings thick layers of saturated guitar and sings in a deep rasp somewhere between Tom Waits and a Tuvan throat singer, and Tyler Smith’s drumming is pure punishment yet he is creative and never predictable. Give this huge-sounding record a listen and ponder the purity of spirit animals and the beautifully brutal forces of nature. From 2018.

Maximum Ernst – “Hallmark of a Crisis Period” – [Ever / Never]

lexi glass   1/6/2021   12-inch, A Library

This sick slab of “dada spew” is the first vinyl release from Maximum Ernst, the NYC duo of Josh Gordon and Erick Bradshaw (better known to WFMU listeners as Creamo Coyl of the Spin Age Blasters show). Two sidelong sound excursions, warming up with an easy hike into the depths of a strange noiseforest on “Un Menace Natural” until the darkness descends. The deepening dread carries over into the B side “Hallmark of a Crisis Period,” a collage of spoken word rants and ravings about science and schizophrenia reverberating alongside guitar feedback, synth attacks and harsh noise blasts. Released in Fall 2020 on NYC label ever/never.

Morwan – "Zola-Zemlya" – [Feel It Records]

Thurston Hunger   1/6/2021   12-inch, A Library

Morwan is Alex Ashtaui from Kiev. For a one-man band, this release is exceptionally full sounding. Ashtaui has great ear for a bassline, and some of those drums sound crisply live. He’s Slavic singing is often doubled, with a groan-drone reverb to the chanting style…but the chanting is more aligned with a holy man on an adrenaline binge. Guitar is thin and rattly, maybe a Soviet fender icing through a dark-wave of synth. Old Cure fans could easily re-dye their hair pitch black while listening to Волны. Ashtaui’s synth work often is cloudy with arrows of faux flute piercing it. That last track, Где-то там вдали almost has an Anatolian kind of vibe, just for reference I have no desire to start a holy war over its flavor. Apparently the combination of Arabic and Slavic, old folk and post-punk are the mesh that makes this quick five-track fix so mesmerizing. Perhaps, Alex merely worships rock, stylized rock as the cover image, looking like an asteroid hewn into the rough shape of an ancient saint or future visitor. Alien, familiar and inviting sounds here. The album title translates as “Ash-Earth” so maybe that is a self-portrait on the cover by this multi-talented artist (and professor?).

We got this imported by Feel It Records to the USA in 2020, but originally it was on an interesting Russian label Sierpien Records in 2019.

Marchetti, Walter – “La Caccia” – [Alga Marghen]

mickeyslim   1/5/2021   A Library, CD

Avante-garde noise art by Italian composer Walter Marchetti. La Caccia (meaning “the hunt”) is a 42-minute long masterpiece of forest/jungle music, chirps, birds, wisps, honks, horns, whistles, all spaced out between short silences. The first track is broken into two parts, indoor and open-air. From the liner notes: 

“open-air version

>the performers execute the sound actions with the use of birdcalls, whereas the non-sound actions make use of signals of a different nature: visual, touch, taste, olfactory, etc.

>each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a different, freely-chosen call. if the number of available birdcalls is fewer than the letters of the alphabet, a single call can be assigned to two or more letters.

>the rests, or silences, that follow each sound are produced by pacing off the number of steps – in any direction, from any starting point – which is scored as a figure of one, two three or four digits.”

“indoor version

>the sound actions are performed as above.

>the silences that follow each sound are produced by silently counting off numbers of one or two digits, slowly, quickly, or at any speed one likes; with figures of more than two digits, use is made of only the third or the last two.”

Make of that what you will….

The last two tracks are electronic drone pieces, the first being very literally that, a single drone sounding like a power saw from across the room. The second is a more harsh-noise-based wall of sound and has more depth to it than the first. The first track could very well be played simultaneously with either of the following tracks; the stark contrast between naturally- and electronically-made sounds is very apparent.

Another excellent release from Italian label Alga Marghen.

Quintron & Miss Pussycat – "Goblin Alert!" – [Goner Records]

humana   12/30/2020   A Library, CD

This is incredibly upbeat, catchy dance music with just the right amount of cheesiness added by the Hammond B3. The drum machine has been replaced by a drum kit, and it will all leave you wondering just how awful a baby must look to earn a comparison to a WMD (Stroller Pollution), and also chanting “Alchemy and accessories” (Weaver Wear) while you wear holes in your socks as you bop to the music. Personally, I’d love to hear a new Halloween soundtrack that included Goblin Alert as a featured song. Have fun with this one.

Left Outsides, The – "a Place to Hide" – [Feeding Tube Records]

humana   12/30/2020   12-inch, A Library

Some things that are left outside suffer from the experience, but this is definitely not the case with this London-based husband wife duo of Mark Nicholas and Alison Cotton, especially in the case of this folksy, heartening, yet often yearning release. Taken from a warmup to a live show in October of 2018, these songs feature drones, clear, lovely voices, violins, harmonium, and lyrics full of imagery that are the perfect accompaniment to a winter’s afternoon. You’ll want to play this to summon an idyllic atmosphere from another time.

Lee Hazlewood's Woodchucks – "Cruisin' For Surf Bunnies" – [Light in the Attic]

aarbor   12/30/2020   12-inch, A Library

Lee Hazlewood’s Woodchucks were one of Lee’s fake groups, a vehicle to release instrumentals, it’s just a pseudonym for Lee’s usual band: The Wrecking Crew. According to the record jacket, these tracks were recorded October 26, 1964. Light in the Attic released it in 2018, 11 years after his death. That explains the early ‘60’s surf sound. Hazlewood is best known as a producer and songwriter. also for his collaborations with Duane Eddy and Nancy Sinatra. His collaboration with Nancy Sinatra began when Frank Sinatra asked Lee to help boost his daughter’s career. When recording ‘These Boots are Made for Walkin’, Hazlewood is said to have made this suggestion to Nancy, “You can’t sing like Nancy Nice Lady any more. You have to sing for the truckers”. She later described him as “part Henry Higgins and part Sigmund Freud”. AArbor 

Toots and The Maytals – "True Love" – [V2]

aarbor   12/30/2020   CD, Reggae

From 2004, this is Toots and the Maytals along with some other well-known musicians, mostly playing Maytals hits. Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Terry Hall, Bootsy Collins, Bunny Wailer, Keith Richards and others are featured on different tracks. Enjoy! AArbor

Tangent 2002: Disco Nouveau [coll] – [Ghostly International]

cinder   12/21/2020   A Library, CD

A fantastic compilation from the early ’00s, around the time that electroclash became a huge thing. Robot dance type beats, minimal vox if any at all, and techno disko rhythms that would have Giorgio Moroder drooling like a kitten high on fresh catnip. I remember when this was in our listening station at work way back when… it’s a great introduction to a lot of these artists! A definite take on modern disco, on the minimal electronics edge.

Cleveland, Barry – “Stones of Precious Water” – [Morning Trip]

cinder   12/21/2020   12-inch, A Library

An album from the early to mid ’80s. Barry recorded these tracks mostly between ’81 & ’83, mostly by improvisation. It’s lovely, light and airy guitar passages, wafting close to new age territory, but then he’ll shift into dark haunting forests on the next track. Six of the ten tracks contain contributions from Kay Epple and her late husband Bob Stohl (Emerald Web), adding flute, synthesizers, and bells. Don’t be scared, it’s way more intriguing and meditatively KFJC than other cheesy artists you think of when you hear the scary word, new age. Ambient and drone filled.

Cyclist, The – “Weather Underground” – [100% Silk]

cinder   12/21/2020   A Library, Cassette

Fresh sounds from Andrew Morrison, known as The Cyclist. Rhythmic electronic beats rotate and churn like LED-lit wheel spokes. It’s a chill house sound with throbs of “industrial hypnosis, basement dub, and soul lament within his signature saturated “tape throb” palette”. A refreshing spin!

Negativland – “World Will Decide, The” – [Seeland]

cinder   12/17/2020   A Library, CD

Another fantastic quirky sound collage cut-up from the Neggies. This time around the main theme is about computer data mining, content, Alexa, and the whole idea that we’re definitely being consumed by the faux glamorous life of the world wide web. This album ‘depicts a world where the technologies we use to live our lives have become difficult to tell apart from those things we recognize as being alive.’ An idea too familiar in Silicon Valley, as we see self driving robot buggies delivering meals to your house as you sit on your blubber, building pretend islands in the abyss. (not knocking any one who does, I’m a victim of Candy Crush myself)… just remember to get some fresh air once in awhile, put the phone away and watch the clouds. Great vox from Weatherman, as well as many others, and bizarre experimental sounds!

X.Y.R. – “Pilgrimage” – [Not Not Fun Records]

cinder   12/16/2020   12-inch, A Library

Solo synth designs from Soviet, Vladimir Karpov. Two 20 minute long explorations into dense, desolate, dystopian forests. Dreamy, lush and relaxing as hell. The A-side sets you right in the middle of a crystal marsh, complete with ghostly cooing birds and a soft fog that tickles your inner ears. Side B gives more of a mythical desert scene (despite side A having dunes in the title), with synth that resemble wind instruments, and gurgly critters. Drift… 

Powerplant – ” Spine / Evidence” – [Static Shock]

whngr   12/15/2020   A Library, Cassette

 Synth-Punk-Rock “Pop op”. 

Ukraine / London oddity unleashes five tracks that are, to my ear, more profoundly dissimilar to one another, more dynamic, and take more risks than any rock outfit I’ve heard in recent memory a fact perhaps made even more exceptional when one notes that it was made by a single person, one Theo Zhykharyev. Bouncy, up-beat, danceable, and a bit dreary as well. Top-shelf good times.

Occelensbrigg – “Frostbitten Cleansing” – [Harvest of Death]

whngr   12/15/2020   A Library, Cassette

Murky, blown out Black Metal by this lone soul hailing from Portugal. Part of the  Aldebaran Circle, a clandestine group of projects that include:  Aldebaran, Degredo, Espírito, Ginnungagap, Mallitiae, Nox Insultum, Ordem Satânica, Trono Além Morte, and Voëmmr.  Cold, grim, ugly, and culminating in a brief passage of perverse valiance, these five tracks are like a plunge into a frozen lake occupied by a legion of medieval corpses. Drifting through the icy water, their hollow stares intermittently falling upon your empty soul while casting scowling aspersion before lolling on through the icy void.

Diotte, Braden – “General Manifest” – [East Imperial Noise]

whngr   12/15/2020   A Library, CD

Bass player of Tarantula Hawk explores the enormity of empty space employing field recordings and layers of sparse ambient noise/drone with all three compositions tied together by the hypnotizing rhythm of moving trains. There is something very captivating about these sounds that were informed by Diotte’s time riding the rails (I presume without a ticket) and in some ways I believe it detracts from the power of these pieces and the journey by attempting to describe them. Like fine cinema it is often best to go in knowing as little as possible… However, one brief caveat: this album begins at a glacial pace and the long/soft/slow signal may rattle the stones of even the most stalwart volunteer.

Thayer, Lloyd & Deupree, Jerome – “Duets” – [Feeding Tube Records]

mickeyslim   12/9/2020   12-inch, A Library

Absolutely fantastic release from Feeding Tube Records. This is improvisations by multi-instrumentalist Lloyd Thayer (who performed at the 1000 Incarnation of the Rose Fest) on the Chaturangui (an Indian 12-string instrument) and Weissenborn lap steel, alongside Jerome Deupree on percussion.

This is bluesey, psychey, indian-infused jams. Heady, ethereal and colorful. Swirling strings, easy brush-string beats. Whirling smoke dreams of Junior Kimbrough and Ravi Shankar’s love-child.

Lipscomb, Mance – “Mance Lipscomb Volume 4” – [Arhoolie Records Inc.]

mickeyslim   12/9/2020   12-inch, Blues

Navasota, Texas songster Mance Lipscomb recording once again for Arhoolie Records in Berkely. Discovered in 1960 during the blues roots discovery boom of the ’60s, Lispcomb, unlike most, had no earlier recordings. This is his fifth full-length, fourth in a series for Arhoolie. Most of his recordings, including the A-side on this release, were “live recordings” done in one session, in a single take. Extensive liner notes detail the unusual plight of Lipscomb, including his rise to fame as an important figure in the folk music revival period.

Excellent stories, raw gritty vocals. This is some top-notch, front-porch shit. Enjoy!

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