From 2003, this is Ellen Allien’s second release on her own BPitch Control label. Berlin techno parties must have been a blast with sounds like this playing into the early morning. Here we have Allien’s charismatic voice singing over an eclectic mix of techno beats mixed in with glitch, tweak and odd computer modulated vocals and sounds. Each track is pretty unique, standing on it’s own as well as fitting together in the whole work. I’m finding this early work almost more experimental, more quirky than her later work. These pieces are not afraid of challenging the listener and of taking a chance. With beats. Always. One of my favorite finds over the last year.
This 2002 release marked a return, of sorts. of the wonderful Scroggins family and their infectious stripped down funk sound. This time around, daughters have joined in and the beat is still pumping. Remember, ESG is all about the bass, and man is there bass. Simple bass lines repeated over and over almost take on the power of a vocalist. Without the bass, there is no ESG. Minimalism is the word for this funk post punk project. Some songs just have Renee Scroggins simmering vocals accompanied by bass. Others have that oh so familiar drum beat, a little guitar, some tambourine or other percussion thrown in. That’s it, but what an “IT”. A real joy to continue to hear them. Some of these tracks are even more stripped down then songs of the past, and a bit slower, but the sound, the beat, the thump thump thump is so infectious. Your head will bop and booty will shake.
Feixs Da Housecat, electronic pop/house music king supreme, plays it up with this 2009 release. Twelve tunes of bubble gum electro house catchiness, most with vocals by breathy, squeeky or monotone female vocalists which add an edge of naughty. (Think of his work with Miss Kitten). Songs about Prince,living in a platic world and machines are all just edgey enough to make you question. The electonic beats are a variety of riffs on old gaming system soundtracks (Elvi$), low rider street bass (Kickdrum, which will blow out the speakers) and of course early house. The lyrics are suggestive sometimes but fun. This is just fun. Felix knows his style and works it to the end. Dance happy.
Electric Machine Gun Tits are Naoko Nozawa (vocals and synth) and Tora Fujimoto (vocal and guitar). Several years in the bay area, from Japan, singing in English and Japanese. Power, power, power. Hard drum machine pounding, raucous rhythm guitar, screamed repeated phrases for lyrics about pineapple junkies, fake fur, monkey brain and sushi. Cheap electronic toy noises from Naoko who yells and laughs insanely while wearing a rainbow unicorn plushy. Intense rideculous fun. You will be covered in cooked ramen. Fox and I have seen them twice, opening for Bob Log and Shonen Knife and both times they kind of stole the show. Like riding a roller coaster going 0 to 100 in 2 seconds flat.
Psudoko (formerly Parlamentarisk Sodomi) is Steinar Kittilsen, a one-man time-travelling prog-grind-math-core band from Trondheim Norway. This cassette was released in 2014 on Drid Machine, but recorded much later.
The sound is an adrenaline-heavy mix of prog-rock, math-rock, punk-rock, and butt-rock. Impossibly fast, impossibly intricate, and impossibly powerful. Highly controlled chaos.
Thumping bass lines and break-neck blast-beats. Fast, angular riffs that turn on a dime. Guitars that scream, scribble, and shred. What really sets this album apart is the meticulous arrangement and orchestration found in each track. Brief and beautiful piano interludes balance out blistering guitar solos. Violins sing and bells chime with perfect clarity alongside distorted strings and fuzz.
The future is here, and it is fast.
Ten years worth of offbeat pop stylings from the versatile Ms. Nowottny, sharing the billing here with her All American Band. She sings and plays keyboards and a few other things, and the band adds guitar, bass, banjo, piano, melodica, and more. A wide range of music on this CD, including stately torch songs with piano, some trip-hoppy moments, country-flavored tunes, and some twisted concoctions that could be Kate Bush with a Casio out in the garage. My two least favorite tracks are the cover tunes: “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ is a downer–it sounds like a version the house band on Twin Peaks might have done, and “Danny’s Song” (by Kenny Loggins) is done pretty much straight ahead and is no more interesting than the original version. Track 5 is a snazzy instrumental.
Lena Platonos’ career in electronic music stretches back to the 1980s, but it’s only now that audiences outside of her native Greece are discovering her stellar work. For that we have to once again thank Dark Entries, that put out vinyl re-releases of her first three albums, 1984’s Sun Masks (added to our library a couple years back), 1985’s Gallop, and this LP from 1986.
Lepidoptera is the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths that undergo metamorphosis during development. The lyrics (included in the liner notes in the original Greek with an accompanying English translation) examine this theme of transformation. Platonos reflects on a young child at play (T4) and a notebook found in the street filled with the handwritten fragments of a schoolgirl’s life (T8), or paints more abstract scenes with her poetry. Her expressive voice – in verses sung or whispered, and filtered through electronic prisms – and piano playing contrast with offbeat electronics sounds – synths, drum machines, weird sound effects – to create moods from mysterious (T1, T4, T7) to dramatic (T6, T9), inquisitive (T2, T3) and joyful (T5). Bizarre, beautiful, a fascinating specimen of an album.
Modorra (Spanish for ‘Drowsiness’) is a Death Metal project from the Islamic Republic of Sweden, boasting strong patinae of grindcore and punk. Coming from Gothenberg, they have a very particular sound looming over them in a historical sense, but this is absolutely not melodic DM: the closest they get to Entombed is in occasionally sounding like Nihilist– and is that not just the recording quality? I might as well say they sound like Hellhammer in that case (they kind of do).
Ultra-low-fi, scratchy, crackly shit pressed to 300 copies of 45rpm 12″ made from harvested gender-neutral cartilage instead of vinyl. Decked with D-beats and splattery grind blasts. The mad and jaundiced rickety rush for the end is in line with the kangpunk bands for which Sweden is also known, e.g. Mob 47. Thankfully no politics here, just decay and violence. Singer sounds like he’s about to throw up throughout. Lyrics are actually semi-intelligible. Have seen them described as Grindcore, but this is encrusted old-school DEATH worship appealing to KFJC’s extensive collection of Necrot, Abscess, and Repulsion releases. I think this was recorded drunk. I hope so.
Portland Oregon four piece deliver the first full
length, picking up where their “Borrowed Floors” EP
left off. Angular anger, packed in little brittle
post-punk cuts. A weird blend of panic and calm,
especially in the husky numeric singing of Aubrey
Hornor. Her guitar combined with Mason Crumley’s
spark up a kind of minimal take on Television.
Mostly barre-chord-free, “Still Forms” has a sleazy
breeze to it, half chords on the half shell. Is it
their accidental take on reggae? “Boyce” closes side
A with a sort of slow police siren guitar interplay.
“Cheryl” is a steady song of unsteadiness, sounds
as if Aubrey’s singing “I’m not sure…I’m not sure.”
Vocal repetition and tight riffs chase themselves a lot.
Most of the album though builds energy when bassist
Bob Desaulniers can get a little more involved, and
drummer Wiley Hickson can pick up the pace. Songs
like “Edible Door” (!!) and “Excuse Generator” hit
like tiny TIA’s. With lyrics that saw your corpus callosum
in half, they feel like they are left over from a redacted
diary. But your knees are still working…old punk
dancing guy. That last track has a nice bizarro break,
beat poet with noisy improv.
Top-notch lo-fi, cherubic acoustic folk numbers
that pick up grit in lyrics and feedback on some
of the numbers. Eardrumheadrupture percussion
on #10. DIY worn on the literal CD sleeve, in
“No Compression/No Masters. Cut around the
ides of March 2015, I imagine the sting in
these songs remains for Jones. The lead off
number is a searing noisey joy, tooth in ear
material that doesn’t really return. The
pain afterwards is mostly conveyed vocally
and lyrically. Her voice keens and slices
corners through the flatness of a field
recorder. Like the long lost little sister
of the Mountain Goats. A little banjo on
the knee in #6, plenty of scrapes and bruises
on the knee elsewhere. That intersection of
raw and sweet makes for a Happy Meal for
Mikey and me, hopefully you too.
Four Regis-sides offer eight different remixes. Karl O’Connor
is Regis, this collection processes a variety of artists, but
pummelled and polished into bleakest ever bleak glory by Regis.
O’Connor is also part of Cub and was Family Sex when he was
younger (which sounds nastier than it should.) Anyways this
collection holds together well, and if you are in for one
spin, you are likely in for all. It starts with a killer take
on Ike Yard’s “Loss” retaining the chopped up vocals (sounding
like a police radio scrambled) but adds low-end synth helicopter
that helps the voices to grate. Things get even murkier after
that for Dalhous’ “He Was Human and Belonged with Humans”
the voices here are not chopped but dropped into a vortex of
sound. The Regis recipe involves a deep bass, with a
relatively minimal but maximally brutal approach. Slices
of industrial sounds are burnished in with the beats, lots
of times I find the end of a remix (like “Blood Witness”
and “This Foundry” perk my ears up as the suffocating
darkness separates for a moment). But then again the label
is Blackest Ever Black. The closing remix of “Plant Lilies
at My Head” is the least driven, flowery by comparison
to the others. Heavy hitting otherwise, especially that
opening duo. Get Beat Up. -Thurston Hunger
2017 release. possibly part of a “garment” series
(“11 Buttons” was another release paired with this).
This is comfy ambience, steady clank of sampled and
digital percussion, more like a mechanical heartbeat
than a rhythm. Soothing waves of synth, topped off
by samples of oceanology and ornitholgy, perhaps
striving for a natural relaxation. A Tokyo storm
shelter sound seeker, well I’m not even sure he’s
out of Tokyo, but I envision a guy trying to look
out past the skyscrapers and earscrapers. The album
has a uniform feel, you can easily soak into one
track and find yourself floating three tracks down.
Tokunaga’s segues are frequently seamless, dipping
for a gentle cross fade. Some repetive samples move
at a faster rate than the steady click/clank/pulses of
percussion. Check out “slab” as a masterful stitching
of such squiggling sounds, it also has volume-pedal
breathing of white wave noise. When this album both
soothes and unsettles it is at its most striking.
“slab” and “Diagonal” provide such frayed threads
in this overall sleek suit.
Motorcycle girl without a helmet pulls up beside you on the
freeway, never looks once at you, while you gaze at her. Casually,
she flips you off and then speeds off as her exhaust fills your
stupid sensible sedan. The exhaust tastes like this…
From the first thick bass synth notes, pitch shifted for your
discomfort, to the husky croak of Jae Matthews’ voice and
the well-tuned old school synths and drum machines, this
2014 cassette ep re-released on black vinyl spins a disco
dirge might beckon KFJC’s Belladonna back onto the dance
floor. Or the killing floor.
Agent Augustus Muller is Matthews’ partner in crime, the two
concoct a dark wave that is just about pitch wheel perfect,
his musical ambience and her vocal and pineal ache. If David
Lynch brings back his music show Twin Peaks for a third run,
and lets the still not-dead John Carpenter curate an episode,
expect this duo to wind up at the Roadhouse.
Coming out of Northampton (black?) Mass these days, but
spawned in Savannah, the same soil that Jarboe crawled
out of. Southern synth Goth at its most damned divine.
Side A slays, “Love” on side B is quite dizzying.
Fuzz from Ozzz. 2014 release from his hard-working septet from Melbourne. They roll with two drummers in case one of them has to go to the bathroom or have a heart attack, right when a guitarist is hitting his groove. Side A pretty much tracks straight on through, some kind of funky tape edits and manipulation at times, but the jams aren’t going to kick themselves out. How much do they love their 1-4-5 drive to stay alive on this release, they pay a guy to play harmonica. Paying their rhythm and dues! Stu Mackenzie is the guiding force, on this album he’s got the boys on a journey to the center of the pysch earth. He pens some killer hooks and is not afraid to bust out the flute when needed. Other albums (they release 3 every
15 days or somesuch) go for more prog moves, or more chipper pop (at other times his voice and songs remind me of Game Theory).
But this 12″ released in conjunction with Thee Oh Sees’ label is a solid modern hippy trip (they even borrow John Dwyer’s Boss effect that gives guitars and vocal yelps electronic quick hiccups).
B side offers a more mellow shade of fuzz. Fans of the Liverpool Psych fests, should enjoy the riff wrath.
This album starts with what sounds like being in the fiery cockpit of a 747 crashing though the San Francisco fog. Suddenly the left wing rips off, instruments are malfunctioning. You can almost hear the sound of screaming passengers in the background. The plane quickly loses altitude and it seems the plane may crash into the water, extinguishing the flames. Everything gets real quiet. Where is your flotation device? Not all hope is lost… then it fucking explodes, fucking flames everywhere, faces melting off, no more hope. And that’s just the A-side…
This jet fuel melts steel beams!
Two killer musicians featured here, Tom Weeks on alto saxophone and Camille Emaille on percussion sounds. Recorded in Oakland 2016, what we get is what I’m calling surreal jazz. Certainly skronky, certainly noisey, and possibly jazz, but without leaning toward one or the other. Waspy wisps of wings around the corner, fluttering brushes, clips and clops, the bowing of a saw, perhaps, and what I’m sure is a goose having on orgasm high on acid.
Hazy, smooth, and rhythmic lo-fi electro-acoustic compositions from Moody Alien, an anonymous artist from Thessaloniki Greece and proprietor or the Thirsty Leaves Music micro-label which put this cassette out (edition of only 50).
Warm samples of acoustic instruments are layered, blended, and tweaked. Recordings of scattered chords, echoey drones, and flowing melodic patterns mix with field recordings and sparse, distant vocals. The layers are deep, but not dense. The result an enveloping, dream-like feeling of mysterious familiarity. The pieces each build carefully and in their own way, some juust baarely venturing into heavy free-folk proto-grooves before retreating back to the comfort of a nice drone.
A rich variety of instruments are on display here. Moody Alien plays classical guitar, 2 harmonicas, trumpet, cello, double-bass, glockenspiel, toy piano, numerous household objects and “a few body parts”. The credits call out several other musicians who lend their unique sound on different tracks: electric guitar on T1, bouzouki on T2, trumpet on T4, dulcimer on T4 and T5, and more!
Beautiful, rich, and heavy sounds.
This 2018 LP is the fourth release from Hogg, a Chicago duo known for their writhing, raging electronic punk. Each track staggers between stark contrasts: vocals that range from spoken word chants to black metal screams, rhythms that shift from plodding bass thumps to propulsive minimal beats, guitars that growl with noisy feedback or launch into sharp rhythmic attacks. This tension is reflected in the lyrics, that express the strain of being pulled in opposite directions – between self-confidence and self-doubt, between determination and exhaustion, between the longing to draw people near and the urge to stab them in the face. At times I’m reminded of bands from our own local scene (Stillsuit or especially Jeweled Snakes), and after spending a week letting this record worm into my brain, I really hope Hogg come out here and join them for a show sometime. Released by Alex Barnett’s (in our library) new label Scrapes.
This group is otherwise known as Mercury Rev, and consists of likely suspects Jonathan, Grasshopper, Nels Cline, Steve Shelley, Jesse Chandler, and Martin Keith. Woodstock-based guitarist Peter Walker joins this amazing band, and it is he who brings to mind Ravi Shankar’s sitar, seeing as he studied with Shankar. The music on this CD is pure psychedelic bliss, and the songs themselves take their time as they exemplify the Greek fates: past (lachesis), present (clotho), and atropos (future). Enjoy every minute.