KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Breuker Kollektief, Willem “With Strings Attached” [bvhaast]

Thurston Hunger   10/26/2004   CD, Format, Jazz

To unfairly reduce the Kollektief, this is a group committed
to serious fun. The musicianship is top-notch, but the accent
probably falls on the fun. In selecting the six composers for
this collection, each one brought something unexpected if not
unaccepted to the concert hall. I think this attitude is the
key to Breuker, breaking the rules, breaking the walls down.
Typewriters turn up on at least two tracks, one of which you
have heard, even if you think not. George Gershwin shines in
the keys of Henk de Jonge, it seems so polished and stately
that it’s easy to forget his rebellious origins. Read the
liner notes for more info on that and the others here (as
well as the importance for lapsing copyrights). The one
composer still above ground is actually not just a composer
but a band member. Alfred Janson’s 20+ minute piece has some
sax daggers, trumpet wisteria that blossoms into fire, and
about 12:30 into it the strings fritter while Janson himself
straps on his accordion to carry out the vendetta with a
hint of a smoking scat-gun as well. Towards the end of that
piece, the players chase each other sonically (and probably
physically on stage to boot.) Tremendous, don’t miss the
return of the sinewy “Sensemaya” with snakey strings.
Hail to the Kollektief!

Volumen/No-Fi Soul Rebellion – “Lady Cop/Ch*rch” – [W?ntage Records] — 45 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   10/20/2004   7-inch, A Library

Two bands from Missoula, Montana release a split 7″ on a label based in Missoula, Montana. Coincidence? You decide.

Volumen take the A side with the song Lady Cop. It’s 3:42 of funky fun with fuzz guitar and synthesizer. For some reason I was reminded of Urge Overkill circa The Kids Are Insane. Let’s hope this isn’t the last we hear from Volumen for a while – according to their website one member just got married and another is expecting a baby. Let’s all hope for a long winter with lots of studio time.

No-Fi Soul Rebellion is essentially one guy, Mark Heimer, who wanted to perform in a band but didn’t want the hassle with bandmates. His solution? He invented the “Soul System,” a bass guitar with the strings removed and a mini-disc player embedded inside. On stage, his wife dances around wearing the Soul System while the husband karaokes to his own songs. They’re like a post-modern Partridge Family.

Anyway the B side, Ch*rch, is a more mechanical, synthesized funk than the A side. It’s the kind of music that Morris Day and Devo could have made if only they had put their petty jealousies aside. Oh, and NFSR lose points for rhyming “lurch” and “jerks” with “church.”

–Hunter Gatherer

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – “What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?” – [Daptone Records] — 45 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   10/20/2004   7-inch, Soul

Ms. Jones is not happy with the foreign and domestic policies of the current administration. So she rounded up the Dap Kings, house band for the Daptone label, and put her feelings into what she describes as an “anthem of discontent.”

The first song asks the musical question “What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?” It’s the sort of blistering retro-soul that we’ve come to expect from Ms. Jones & co. Sharon’s pissed, and as the song goes on you can feel the band absorbing her anger and reflecting it back to us as heat. Bush and Iraq aren’t mentioned explicitly, so this song will work just as well for the next country we invade.

The B side is a slow but impossibly funky version of the public domain song “This Land Is Your Land.” Woodie Guthrie is dancing in his grave somewhere. The song is great from the horn section’s sour Yankee Doodle opening to the fade out, but the highlight for me is the way the trumpet solo enters.

If you can listen to either song without shaking your ass you are probably Ralph Nader.

–Hunter Gatherer

Jolie Holland – “Catalpa” – [Anti- Records]

Hunter Gatherer   10/20/2004   A Library, CD

This is San Francisco-based Jolie Holland’s first solo release since co-founding and then leaving Be Good Tanyas, though it wasn’t originally intended to be. The tracks are mostly demo tapes that weren’t supposed to go “any further than my neighborhood” as she says. There is an unfinished feeling to many of the songs, and she coughs and laughs on some tracks. In another, you can hear an engineer dropping something (and he even gets a percussion credit). One song was recorded before it was finished, and Ms. Holland helpfully includes the extra lyrics of the finished version in her liner notes.

The result is that listening to this CD feels like crouching outside her window and eavesdropping as she sings her mysterious songs of loneliness and restlessness. She’s accompanied by her guitar and little else. At times it sounds a little like a field recording of old Appalachian folk (due to the way she sings and her picking style, I think) until you listen to the lyrics, consider the whole thing, and feel the influence of Woody Guthrie and Syd Barrett. The latter even gets a co-writing credit on The Littlest Birds.

There is something deeply American about the rootless feel of this release.

–Hunter Gatherer

Crimea, the – “Lottery Winners on Acid ” – [Double Dragon]

mitch   10/16/2004   A Library, CD

Staggering from the ashes of the CROCKETTS, Davey MacManus
(vocals/lyrics/guitar) and drummer Owen Hopkin re-invented
their music selves as THE CRIMEA in late 2002, tempering a bit
of their own chaos in and around Plaistow (which might be old
London???s answer to Hamburger Hill) & enlisting keyboardist
Andrew Stafford (dig the Roland VK-8 + XV-88) , bassist Joseph
Udwin & lead guitarist Andrew Norton (ex-DENZEL). MacManus,
a native of Dublin, plays occasional solo sets as KERNEL KROK;
his biopictorial lyrics read vivid in either setting, shambling to
a place called truth in a style somewhere between MUNGO JERRY
and the DEPARTURE LOUNGE. First three tracks here were all UK
singles ??? and they are terrific ??? rustic in all the right places and
seemingly fueled by sufficient libations???.last two tracks equally
good as drunken anthems/internal commentary/emotional palmistry
??????..Most excellent****
MITCH October 2004

Contrast, the – “Fade Back in ” – [Rainbow Quartz]

mitch   10/16/2004   A Library, CD

Peterborough UK (East Midlands) quartet lets a
third LP loose, featuring production by Andy
Hawkins & enhanced vocals from mainman
David Reid, whose mastery of the Rickenbacker
and various retro psychedelia steers a remarkably
consistent resonating sonic experience through a
swelling, driving journey of great highs ( # 1, 3, 4 +
12) and poignant lows ( # 8). Reid is a polished
storyteller in song, whether relating a post-alterca-
tion friendship ( # 2), warning of doom ( # 5),
belittling fickle fame ( # 6) or letting savvy harmony
convey self-depreciation ( # 10). Reid himself says of this
material that it is???.???the most focused & direct stuff
we have done. Sounds the most consistently like
the CONTRAST?????? Bass = Richard Mackman; rhythm
guitar/backing vox = Spencer Hart; drums = James
Crossley; keys = Hawkins ??? rock-solid powah pop.
MITCH October 2004

Coastal – “Halfway to You ” – [Words on Music]

mitch   10/16/2004   A Library, CD

Somber, sparse slowcore dreampop from Jason
& Luisa Gough that shimmers, beguiles and lays
claim to a particular signature serenity on this
2nd LP. Missing regular drummer Jim Harker on
this recording, Jason G. did the percussion honors
himself, laying close by the bass of Josh Callaway
and a host of buried samples. Melody, drone,
lyrics of longing, a pursuit perhaps of melancholy
in the service of stately dirge (Luisa G.???s keyboards
a vital sonic element), COASTAL is all dual-harmony
and mesmerizing alchemy; strings/bells/guitars/magic
???..Faraway vox + spoken word beauty plus Megan
Lloyd violin ( # 2) lone yet intriguing instro ( # 8)
heartrending cello bridges ( #1) epic haze via wistful
viola by Helen Maltby ( # 9) languid memories ( #4)
???.. Out of Provo, UT ??? most pleasing and sophisticated
masterwork
MITCH October 2004

PacificUV s/t [WARM]

Thurston Hunger   10/15/2004   A Library, CD, Format

Five-piece out of Georgia, aided and abetted
by various folks (including Heather McIntosh
from the Instruments!!). Adding female vox
on some tracks helps to underscore that always
crucial Slowdive connection. Fine floatation,
nothing earth-shattering, nor earth-smothering.
Pillowy layers of guitar, songs buried in
feather beds can still breathe and walk among
us as tunes. Upon headphone inspection you
realize how much went into realizing these
fluffy drifts of shoegaze. The pedal steel,
the vibes, the electroprocessing, a touch
of God Speed swirled/massed guitar, the
cello-enforced roots, the noisette party
favors…and undoubtedly the pharmaceuticals.
Cuts #3 and #7 bubbled to the top of the pop
for me…while #8 seems to fog a different
window altogether.

Born Heller – “S/T” – [Locust Music]

lombard   10/5/2004   A Library, CD

A very cool release with female vocals from Josephine Foster–similar in sound to Mia Doi Todd..which at times are nearly operatic. The instrumentation (harp, mandolin, bass) gives it an extra experimental kick, especially on the early tracks. You’ll notice that one of the Oldham’s (Paul) recorded a number of tracks..and the final song has more of a Palace/folk feel to it and also features male vocals (Jason Ajemian-who also provides bass throughout). (added 10-5-2004)
-Cynthia Lombard

Little Wings- “Magic Wand” – [K Records] (CD)

lombard   10/5/2004   A Library, CD

Spare, folky acoustic music with male vocals by Kyle Field. This is their 6th release and on it they work with Calvin Johnson along with a bunch of other guests. Kyle Field is also working on visual arts, with the cover art his handiwork. (added 10-5-2004)

-Cynthia Lombard

Mono – “Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky ” – [Virgin Records Limited]

Daryl Licht   10/4/2004   12-inch, A Library

Japan’s Mono returns for their third full-length release with only slight
refinements in their sound . Most tracks feature Mono’s characteristic song
structure: slowly building lengthy tracks, with delicate, icy guitar figures riding
layers of droning strings and thick distortion that increase in waves of intensity
and volume, until they explode in soaring crescendos of transcendent noise.
Their sound on this outing, however, is a little more lush, with a greater emphasis on
strings and more orchestral arrangements than previous recordings. There’s also a
couple of shorter, quieter, less dynamic tracks that failed to impress this listener.
For the most part, however, this is dynamic, almost sweepingly cinematic music,
that achieves Mono’s stated goal of evoking feelings and emotions via music that are difficult to capture and describe in mere words. Play! DL

Comets on Fire – “Blue Cathedral ” – [Sub Pop Records]

Daryl Licht   10/4/2004   12-inch, A Library

Bay Area-based, KFJC favorites, Comets On Fire, return with
their third studio full-length release. The material on this LP
represents the next logical step in the continuing development
of the group’s sound. It is very similar to their previous efforts,
however, the songs are a little more structured and the keyboards
play an increasing role in their sonic attack. Nevertheless, from the
ripping, heavy, psychosludge of the opening track, to the
early-70’s Floydian prog-psych of “Brotherhood Of The Harvest”,
to the Chasney fueled acid folk of “Wild Whiskey”, this LP is an
outstanding soundtrack for substance abuse. A little more subtle
and refined, perhaps, but these guys are still just about the coolest
stoners west of Dead Meadow. Highly recommended! DL

Electric Masada – “John Zorn 50TH Birthday Celabr ” – [Tzadik]

Daryl Licht   10/2/2004   CD, Jazz

Electric Masada is a new variant of Zorn’s long running and
multi-facted Masada project. The group, which may be Zorn’s
most exciting and creative project ever, features many of the
top players in the Downtown NYC scene such as, Marc Ribot
(the big star of this CD, IMHO) and Ikue Mori. On this disc,
they are captured live in September 2003 as part of Zorn’s
incredible month long series of concerts at Tonic (NYC) to
celebrate his 50th birthday. Rocking riffs, free jazz skronk,
hard swinging grooves, and atmospheric electronic exoctica
are all blended together to create the unique and incredible
Electric Masada sonic attack. Powerful, yet lyrical; this is
improvisational music at its finest. Genre blurring; this casts
a light down the path of the future of music and beautifully
represents the forward thinking aesthetic of KFJC. One of
the top releases this year – don’t miss out! DL

Dara – “S/T ” – [Ecstatic Peace]

Daryl Licht   10/1/2004   12-inch, A Library

Dara has been a multi-media underground artist for a
number of years (including, most notably, a stint in His
Name Is Alive), operating in both the Ann Arbor/Detroit
and NYC areas. This one-sided 12″ is her debut solo
release and she’s responsible for all sounds contained
withiin. Organs, synths, guitars, and assorted electronic
noisemakers generate white noise drones and electro
beats to create little lo-fi pop gems and instrumentals.
Vocals, when present, are almost spoken, not sung,
and are delivered in a little girl voice that reminded me
of Cynthia Dahl. Nothing here is gonna change your
world, but a quick hit of her outsider electro-noise pop
will surely leave a smile on your face. DL

Masada – “John Zorn 50TH Birthday Celebr ” – [Tzadik]

Daryl Licht   9/28/2004   A Library, CD

Masada is one of Zorn’s longest running and most popular
projects. For those who may be unfamilar with Masada,
the project represents Zorn’s attempt to create a new form
of Jewish music, one that celebrates and preserves Jewish
musical traditions while integrating elements of modern
music, as well. Elements of klezmer, Eastern and Middle
Eastern music, jazz, avant-garde, and classical are integrated
to create the unique Masada sound. On this disc, they are
captured live in September 2003 as part of Zorn’s incredible
month long series of concerts at Tonic (NYC) to celebrate
his 50th birthday. The quartet is in top form, with Zorn
and Douglas weaving complex lines around each other
(especially on tracks 4 and 7 – yow!) over the solid rhythm
section of Cohen and (the great) Joey Baron. Whether they’re
executing ensemble passages with cool precision or blowing freely ,
for the most part, this is improvisation at its finest. Inspiring! DL

Nadler, Marissa – “Ballads of Living and Dying ” – [Eclipse Records]

Daryl Licht   9/26/2004   12-inch, A Library

NYC-based musician and artist, Marissa Nadler,
throws her hat into the ring of the, currently hot,
solo femme acid folk scene with her debut release,
‘Ballads of Living and Dying?. Nadler’s obviously
been exposed to a diverse array of influences from
old-timey americana folk to modern avant acoustic
guitarists, such as Fahey, etc., to psychedelia and
beyond. The tracks on this LP range from pretty
straightforward solo folk to atmospheric, late night
folk-psych. As the title suggests, the lyrical content
explores dark themes (death/suicide, ill-fated loves, etc.),
all delivered in Nadler’s sweet, ethereal vocal style.
Nadler also appears to be a fairly accomplished musician
and performs on a variety of stringed instruments (six
and twelve string acoustic guitar, banjo, ukelele, and
autopharp), as well as organ, to weave her tapesry
of sound. Personal favorites include ‘Fifty Five Falls?,
‘Mayflower May?, and her haunting treatment of Poe’s
‘Annabelle Lee?. An interesting and excellent release
from this promising new artist. Recommended! DL

Zdrastvootie “” 33 rpm [self]

Thurston Hunger   9/7/2004   7-inch, A Library, Format

Hauling sprawl free-rock from four Santa Cruzers nourished on
Beefhearts. A-side has a definite Lucas film on the fingers
of the guitar. Songs sort of explore, bump in the dark. Like
stairs built by hallucinating carpenters. A-side after its
Lucas leap settles into a walking rhythm then drops through
some trapdoor chords before striking the anthem ore for a
few measures then drizzles out softly to black inner groove.
B-side explodes out of the gate, drums alternating between
pacemaker ticks and heart attack thwacks. Then song comes
to a twang bar in the middle of the road, up the fretboard
go fretting fingers things get chittery for awhile, then
in comes the secret stair mantra. Whenever a rare chord is
struck, it’s heavy with ninths, flats, sharps, and other
accouterments. Quiet comes in (like a second track) and
it’s a race up a mountain to the finish (where it almost
sounds like a live gig). Flustery…in a good way. -Hunger
PS name is hello in russian, “zzz-draw-stvee-cheh”

Larry Stabbins “Monadic” [Emanem]

Thurston Hunger   9/1/2004   CD, Format, Jazz

Solo saxaphone from UK soprano and tenor-drizer Stabbins.
For erudite enlightenment, seek the liner notes. I can tell
you that this album starts off with a buzzy, windy blower
that then tracks into a spiraling number. Not super cyclone
circular breathing, but spin and hold style. #2 then tracks
into a fuzzier, sputtering piece. About 1/2 way through #3
we move to a drier, tighter dart-like sound. Not harsh in
a Gustaffson style, but more bird like. The soprano takes
over and we get a sort of splintered take on the theme to
Close Encounters. Indeed, Stabbins often has encounters of
his own that drift very near melody. This solo outing has
many down-right hummable parts to go with the other more
peculiar saxy pyrotechnics. But plenty of squiggliness
and nasally wailing like on #5 half-way through. Back on
the tenor train certainly by 12 minutes into #7. That
piece starts with perhaps the most memorable melody on
the album but it gets well and nicely frayed over its
17 minutes. A surprisingly nasty almost R&B smoky start
on the last track before a very abrupt end to the album.
Word on the sleeve is that Stabbins has been a long-time
collaborator on the UK free scene, but this shows he can
stand alone just fine. Mind the tracking…

Trio X 3 “New Jazz Meeting – Baden Baden 2002 ” [Hat Hut]

Thurston Hunger   9/1/2004   CD, Format, Jazz

Catchy like an abstract painting…dualing splatter platters
of trios cubed. This New Jazz Meeting features a trick that
is older than it sounds: splicing electronics w/ improv. On
the fly and in situ sounds are sliced & diced by top-notch
twiddlers: Philip Jeck, Bernhard Lang and Christof Kurzmann.
The first disc is all live, while the second (my slight fave)
was a studio effort. Electronics came in originally often
via percussion, and here that is a primary tactic. But also
treated textures hover at the edges of pieces, especially on
the studio disk. The use of lighter horns: Philippe Racine’s
flute, Marcus Weiss’s saxes and a very vital Steve Lacy are
open enough that they never obliterate whatever more subtle
programming is going on. NOTE : contrary to the “band-name”
never do we catch the starting 9 on the field all at once.
Tracks 1-2, 1-4, 1-6 have a few hectic (rewarding) moments,
occasional chainsaw cut-up, wail-out. The rest is much more
nuanced, deep but never engulfing. The liner notes deliver
the recipe in greater detail, and emphasize the secret
rhythms of Lang. 1-1 gets things started tunefully with
a weird waft of brain-funk. 2-6 showcases Lang on “flute”
(sampling Erik Dresher!). Great striking drones on 2-5. Of
the two epics, 2-7 is a winding tunnel that sustains
ominence. RIP Lacy, viva improv.

Orinoka Crash Suite “Two” [Narnack]

Thurston Hunger   9/1/2004   A Library, CD, Format

OCS is John Dwyer…or at least one of an army of John Dwyers
as seen in the Coachwhips, Pink and Brown, Zeigenbock Kopf
and grandma’s fave, “Dig That Body Up It’s Alive.” Prolific
is too weak a word. On Sesame Street, this is the album that
is not like the others…acoustic, subdued, tape-hissed,
vocally-hushed numbers. “Killed Yourself” sounds like the
singer drowned himself in a cute little aquarium, with one
of those fancy tiny castles. Guided by Voices managed to
get just the right type of poor recording on their earlier
stuff, I’d venture that here Dwyer has done as good a job.
The splotchy reverb and warble of the recordings just adds
stacks of unassuming ambience to these strumbly numbers.
The ending number drives home the point, it’s a true “home”
recording, old-school style…a child recounting Goldylox
and the three “beers?” “Intermission” serves up a fit of
fury… Usually it is the sounds, voices, tweaky guitar
on top of the acoustic underbelly that make these songlets
compelling. I find this a lot more bluesy than the most
recent Clarence Gatemouth Brown album. Half-cooked and
home-cocked. Don’t miss the Bisbees.

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