KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Preening – “Gang Laughter” – [Digital Regress]

Thurston Hunger   8/21/2019   12-inch, A Library

Back on the Nordile track, Max Nordile that is (see Uzi Rash and The Trashies among other Oaklandish output in KFJC’s library). Max provides vocals and sax here, the sax he adds is nicely all over the place, skronky, slippery, sweet and multi-tracked as on “Red Tape.” He’s joined by Sam Lefevbre (Warm Soda) on drums and Alejandra Alcala on bass and also vox. In a slight way, their sound reminds me of Iconoclast as a sort of obtuse spin on the many angles of old school New York No Wave. But with Max on board, there’s a spazzy punky rant to the vocals. His voice is elastic; do muppets get drunk? Or do they hang out with Bobcat Goldthwait? Anywho I dig his “singing” but definitely it helps when Alejandra adds in some voice too. Her more tranquil spoken and sane approach helps to accentuate the wacky packages o’ lyrics. For example

“Just a nostril away” or

“Grandfather of the year very clean.”

Or on track 9 where Max and Alejandra repeatedly sing “Water Closet” back and forth to each other. And it might just be me, but my fave song “Flotilla” makes plenty of sense to me, and I’m not even a grandfather….as far as I know? Lefevbre’s drums keep the energy taught. Songs are short, fly by at 45 rpm. At times, like the instro title track, other sounds are dropped in like a plinky toy piano and trumpet, but it is really that odd take on a power trio plus the crazed cartoon vibe that make Preening keen!

     -Thurston Hunger

Christensen, Stefan – “Shake Off The Village” – [C/Site]

Thurston Hunger   8/21/2019   12-inch, A Library

The Connecticut connection that brought us the Reptile Ranch reissue has got his own modern thing going on.  Apparently this came out in 2017, before that Stefan was in and on The Estrogen Highs (KFJC has a 7″). Those pop drop days though ran into more heavy weather it seems. His “solo” outing  (some friends help out) has searing guitars, some brittle drums (David Shapiro) and a dour kind of aire that puts me in mind of New Zealand raw/rawk.  (And I typed that *before* reading online that Stefan is indeed a big fan of the mighty Alastair Galbraith.) This whole album would sit and sound quite nicely by Galbraith’s “Mirrorwork.” Check how “Christfire” here bursts electric out of its ramshackle acoustic beginning, and perishes in raging feedback. At “8AM Sharp” we get a military firing line snare drum, with a two-chord teeter-totter guitar under a deadpan dreary diary reading. Donuts and no-quarter on the rising noose of the local news. Potential soundtrack if there’s ever a sequel to “The Execution of Private Eddie Slovik.” “Mr Marquis” shows up next, this is about as peppy/poppy as Stefan’s going to get in the Village. A big strum of acoustic guitar, with a Clean guitar line guiding his voice. Might be an ode to an old high school teacher, definitely had a different shine than most of the album. The closer “Off Minor” clocks in at nearly 9 minutes of Stefan and friends slugging out a fuzzy fury with an overcast sky, sliding a rock ballad through a Vertical Slit, at 6.5 minutes it morphs from studio to stage to jam its way down an amplifier’s throat. I dug “Christfire” and “Over Scrawl” (with some of that kinda AG backwards sounding guitar/ebow/wft beauty). That “Scrawl” bleeds on into “Silverware” so be careful….or don’t and just enjoy the ride.

Black Children Sledge Funk Co.- Band – “Vol. 3 – Aviation Grand Father” – [PMG Audio.CD]

Medusa of Troy   8/21/2019   CD, Soul

Nigerian psych rock. Re-issue of 1979 album. This was the band’s third album, Vol. 3: Aviation Grand Father, is soul, funk, jazz and a little bit of early synth. In the mid-sevens Nigeria, everybody loved the Black Children Sledge Funk Co. Band. Blasting out of the bustling river port of Onitsha, their infectious, feel-good grooves were the perfect antidote to the dark economic clouds gathering over the country. Everyone in the band changed their last name to Black. Last track is an instrumental. – Reviewed by Carson Street, January 31, 2018.

Birmingham Sunlights – “For Old Time’s Sake” – [Flying Fish]

Medusa of Troy   8/21/2019   CD, Soul

The Sunlights are a dynamic young a cappella gospel group. They hail from Jefferson County, Alabama, where gospel music has flourished since the turn of the century. The Sunlights have received priceless instruction from groups like the Four Eagles and the Sterling Jubilees, and have taken that technical know-how and combined it with unusual syncopation for a fresh sound. This is lively, fervent, joyous stuff. Please enjoy.

P.S. Note there are 5 singers in this quartet — a fifth voice was added so the lead singer can “step out front” for long solo passages without sacrificing the groups 4-part harmony. – Reviewed by Peggy O, August 26, 1992

Biggs, Travis – “Challenge” – [Universal Sound]

Medusa of Troy   8/21/2019   CD, Soul

Multi-instrumentalist, martial artist, and magician Travis Biggs recorded and self-released this debut album in the mid-70s, then went on to work with higher-profile artists including The Supremes and Isaac Hayes. The current reissue comes to us in conjunction with Soul Jazz’s NEW THING! compilation, which featured the very best track here, “Tibetan Serenity.” While Travis plays several instruments on the album, his most obvious (and unique) contributions are the acoustic and electric violins, which make him sound like a funkier version of Jean-Luc Ponty. Check his Stevie Wonder cover, “I Wish,” or the instrumental track “Solar Funk for more highlights. – Reviewed by Rococo, January 11, 2006.

Del Novas, The – “A Surf Odyssey” – [Aural Films]

Cousin Mary   8/21/2019   A Library, CD

This four-piece band is from Sonoma County. Although they have traditional surf music influences such as spy, space, and Tiki, their jazz influence is especially interesting. For example “Surfin’ Wes” is referring to jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. Some nice dreamy stuff, well played with a delightful difference.

clipping. – “Splendor and Misery” – [Deathbomb Arc]

lexi glass   8/20/2019   12-inch, Hip Hop

This 2016 sci-fi concept album is the defining work from LA experimental hip-hop group clipping. Over the ten years of its existence, the harsh noise-meets-hip-hop trio has found unlikely fame, thanks in part to the success of frontman Daveed Diggs, who rose to international superstardom as a member of the original cast of Hamilton. His aggressive rapping is supported by the extreme noise-inspired beats of producers Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson.

Splendor and Misery (named for an unfinished Samuel Delaney novel) tells the story of an uprising on a space-slaveship that leaves behind a single survivor, Cargo 2331. With nowhere to navigate, he hurtles through the universe alone, saved from complete madness by half-remembered rap verses, old spirituals, and his relationship with the ship’s onboard A.I. Highlights from the space odyssey include the gospel hymns “Long Way Away” (A6) and “Story 5” (B5), the stunning reworking of a traditional slave song on “True Believer” (A8), and the violent climax “Baby Don’t Sleep” (B6). Blasts of noise, stirring spirituals, secret ciphers, hidden codes, modern references, and ancient myths are all threads in the tragic story, a struggle for freedom that transcends genre, time, and space.

FCCs: B2 B4 B6 B7

Shoup, Wally / Bill Horist / Paul Kikuchi – “Chemical Language” – [New Atlantis Records]

abacus   8/16/2019   CD, Jazz

free and expressive rock more than anything, heavy on both on creative on sonic levels, this seattle jazz improv power trio rips throughout. wally is the ultimate party man, rip roaring with jazz heads for decades, bill’s precise preparations and explorations redefine what guitars are meant to do, and kikuchi flows freely within the intuitive improv these heads carry (and with a wealth of technical and extended techniques to boot). the album title basically lays it out for you, cuz i guess sound is psychoactive on a chemical level or something?

Action Beat + G.W. Sok – “A Remarkable Machine” – [Ernest Jenning Record Co.]

abacus   8/16/2019   10-inch, A Library

aka the noise band from Bletchley, UK trance punks? or maybe the call to action undoing the trance? that minimalist repetition of grit and discontent definitely induces reflection, as do the relentlessly nihilistic poems ranting militant contentment to extinction. this is the first album they did with GW Sok, former frontman of The Ex, and i definitely feel the political connection. the somewhat title track seems to give a fishbowl narration of our modern end times and with the meticulous carelessness of their musical delivery you can’t help but feel fine, cuz the world is fucked anyway. pity this busy monster, manunkind, not. Progress is a comfortable disease (ee cummings)

Life Fucker – “Z” – [Static Shock(Age)]

whngr   8/15/2019   12-inch, A Library

This 45 is a fucking battery of hideous, in-the-red, filthy, low-fidelity rock, little to no fucking roll and a bad fucking attitude. Germany’s Life Fucker are as mysterious as they are resonate to this poor volunteer’s wretched, black heart. Drums sound like trashcans, check. Guitars howling feedback like possessed banshees, check. Buried, mostly indecipherable vocals shrieking away at unseen tormentors, check. Slightly shit art with skulls and chains, check. Bonuses include a song about being surrounded by rats and a German band being released on a Japanese label in English that has d- beat/hardcore (non)sensibilities and no fucks clearly given. One potential drawback may be that the drummer is a little too talented, If I were a god, I would kick him in his left knee and stomp on one of his hands so they sounded just a bit more desperate and ugly. Everything else is fucking perfect. Play this record and fucking lose control!Querulously there are no discernible FCC’s, what the fuck?

Kale, Karsh – “Up” – [Six Degrees Records]

Medusa of Troy   8/14/2019   CD, International

UP is …

… the title of this album distributed by Six Degree Records, with vocals in English & Hindi, with no obvious FCCs.

… the beats by Karsh Kale (pronounced “Kursh Kah-lay“), a British-Indian New York resident who plays drums, guitar, piano.

… the tempo of most of the songs on this release, which mixes Indian and Western instruments: traditional tabla & drum machines, guitar & sitar, flute & strings & piano.

… the unspoken command to rise up and dance to these tunes. Faves are 4 & 7, the rhythms going beyond energetic to nearly ecstatic.

Situational Plays [coll] – [No Rent Records]

lexi glass   8/13/2019   A Library, Cassette

Two contrasting noise situations on this 2019 split cassette from Nadia (Ashley Bennett of Portland, ME) and Apologist (Rose Actor-Engel of Philadelphia, who runs No Rent Records with partner Jason Crumer). On Side A, Nadia leads off with two tracks of concentrated rhythmic energy. Somewhere within “Predictions” (A1) lurks a dark, rustling beauty, but it’s impossible to grasp: a high-pitched tone sharpens into an icepick point, bores into the brain, and demands our total attention. Through “Absolute Zero” (A2), resonant waves furiously collapse into a single, massive point source. After the intensity of the A side, Apologist offers a measure of peace. “Carte Blanche” (B1) emits warm melodies, treated vocals – both solo and in chorus – and ringing bells, while “Concession” (B2) concludes with a quiet meditation of organ, chimes, and forest field recordings.

Cavity A.D. – “Wraith” – [Valley King Records]

atavist   8/12/2019   12-inch, A Library

The A.D. in the band’s name derives from the fact that the band returned from a 14-year hiatus with the release of the album “After Death”. Now, with this release, the band is referring to themselves as Cavity A.D. KFJC has some comps and 7”s that comprise a portion of Cavity’s output from the 1990s. Internet research reveals this band was an important institution for the South Florida scene, collaborating with folks who would go on to other projects like Torche and Black Cobra. As Cavity AD, they are permitting themselves to diverge from their earlier sound and experiment with new instrumentation and textures.

A1: Long intro consisting of a Mad Max-style primitive drumbeat that gives way to fuzzy guitar riffing and semi-feral vocals that are yelled more than screamed or growled. A2 Reinforces the long drive across the desert vibe the first track flirted with. The primitive beat is established, and as the drive progresses, sparkling guitar washes over the heavier riff. They really want to explore this feeling—it’s a long passage across the desert. B1 Very industrial vibe driven by the percussion. B2 They save the doomiest for last. Unlike the previous tracks, the drum machine feels out of place here. That riff needs the accompaniment of some old-fashioned slow-motion drum-bashing, with big cymbal crashes decaying into the mix. Maybe that’s too mid-90s to be A.D…

Fennesz – “Plays” – [Editions Mego]

atavist   8/12/2019   7-inch, A Library

Reading up on this on Bandcamp, this is the 7” released in 1998. (It has subsequently been re-released as both a CD and a 10”.) It is considered a bridge between early abstract electronic explorations, like “Instrument”, and later guitar-based works, like “Endless Summer”. (Both of these 12”s are in the KFJC library, among others.) Indeed, the compositions are comprised of a blend of electronics and minimally processed guitar sounds. These two tracks had origins as covers, but you’ll be hard-pressed to hear anything remotely reminiscent of the Rolling Stones or Beach Boys in this material. Minimal, languid, and not even particularly long (3:31 and 4:05), these tracks demand the listener invest their full attention if they are to yield the intended experience.

Sutekh Hexen – “Trinity” – [Dead Section Records]

whngr   8/9/2019   7-inch, A Library

Unholy Black-Noise. Shrill tortured screeching, rasping electronic noise, buried guitars trem-picked mercilessly, and conspicuously absent drums on all three seven inches. Having one hoof deeply buried in the Black Metal trench and the other hovering over the nexus between noise and drone you may find the hairs on your neck bristling with anxiety at the peals of harsh white noise or perhaps, as I was after repeated listens, you’ll be lulled into a kind of uneasy tranquility like a dire wolf sinking into one of the tar pits at La Brea. After thrashing and struggling against your eventual demise, your throat so coated in viscous black sludge that you can no longer gnash your wolf teeth or cry your wolf death-song. There is only your ending. Only surrender and defeat and a kind of solace in the certainty of your wretched wolf fate. Cerebral, conceptual, and cvlt, Oakland’s Sutexh.Hexen. has tapped into something and these fledgling efforts seem to set a precedent for the horrible majesty that awaits them. These tracks were originally released on three cassettes in 2010 and this re-release appear to be, if just, on the wrong side of bootleg status as they appear to have been authorized by a single defunct member of S.H. Excellent sounds in lack-luster packaging but the tapes are so rare and sought after this will sate the ardent blackened-harsh noise completists.

Naxatras – Live Rituals At Gagarin 205

carsonstreet   8/8/2019   A Library, CD

Naxatras/ Live Rituals at Gagarin 205

Naxatras is a psychedelic rock band from Greece. This is their first live album. Recorded at the release show for their album “III” in Athens. The band continues to expand stylistically towards progressive rock, jazz and acid-rock. Naxatras is John Delias on guitar, John Vagenas on bass and vocals and Kostas Harizanis on drums. The band says: “Naxatras comes from the word “Nakshatras” that refers to the various phases of the moon in Hindu astrology. It sounded cool and fitting with our music, maybe because of the connections that Hinduism has to psychedelia and spirituality, but we spell it differently because it looks better with an “X”!”.

Bell, William – “Soul of a Bell, The” – [Atlantic]

Medusa of Troy   8/7/2019   CD, Soul

William Bell was the best-kept secret on the entire Stax/Volt roster. He was there from the very beginning, and continued recording with the label ’till the end. A versatile musician, he was both a writer and a singer. As a singer, he could hang with anybody – as his gutsy cover of Otis’ “Loving You Too Long” attests – and he possessed a sweet, understated voice. The first half of this is ballads, the other half more up. Both are sublime. Do yourself and your listeners a favor and play this … a lot (especially the ballads). – Reviewed by Johnny P., October 9, 1991.

Basehead – “Play with Toys” – [Emigre]

Medusa of Troy   8/7/2019   CD, Soul

Inventive Washington D.C. duo that uses mostly live instrumentation mixed with imaginative samples. Languid, clever stories of a lovelorn individual over slow non-cliche mixes. A whole new approach here: had a good one. – Reviewed by Lucifer, January 29, 1992.

Basehead – “Not In Kansas Anymore (Unedited)” – [Imago Recording Company]

Medusa of Troy   8/7/2019   CD, Soul

Follows in the style of their “Plays With Toys” CD. Michael Ivey’s voice is predominant, as is his attitude – he’s definitely pissed off with social and criminal justice – racism – police treatment. Humor on some tracks – but not as enlightened as on “Play With Toys.” Some tracks deal with the pleasure of smoke (try playing together with Ring Tee.) Overall, a step down from “Toys”. Reviewed by Ned Walker, February 24, 1993. [N.B – lots of FCCs]

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