KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Vortex Empath Xen / Moira Scar – “Between Worlds” – [Bat Noise]

whngr   6/11/2021   12-inch, A Library

Wan glam/death rock outta Oakland. A melancholic, driven, inspired, mournful, pitch-bent glimpse into a glimmer-realm of nocturnal isolation.

Bass guitar, drum machine, electric guitar, horn, synthesizer, a wide variety of vocalizations and reverb from this unique two-piece. Pop structures with powerful hooks that buried themselves in my brain though grotesque and strange enough to cause me to recoil momentarily before curiosity sucks me in again. Like a Gustav Klimt if gold were sadness. Their live sets bring an added level of theatrics that absolutely informs my enthusiasm, they appear to love a good vamp and the album that you now hold amounts to a ticket to the Theater of Magic. Other comparisons to Hesse’s Steppenwolf apply, V.E.X. is a project truly on the fringe, they have no peers, no scene, they appear conspicuously secluded. No censors or filters, we are offered a glimpse into a world of pure creative expression. It is difficult to imagine Moira Scar caring much about what the world thinks of them, they couldn’t make the albums they do if their drive wasn’t entirely detached from the derision that must surely befall their sweepingly unconventional vision, one that isn’t necessarily constrained by vocals that are in any semblance of pitch or mixes that adhere to traditionally established sensibilities and thus, you… have been warned. And you may find, as I have, that once you surmount your initial revulsion that you will find yourself returning to the well repeatedly as there is nothing else, in this world or the next, that will scratch the itch quite like Vortex Empath Xen / Moira Scar.

Dollhouse – “First Day of Spring, The” – [Toxic State]

whngr   6/11/2021   7-inch, A Library

Truly unhinged rock from members of Mommy, Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, L.O.T.I.O.N., Cheena, Pharmakon, et alia.

A Mental health reverie in four parts with hardcore punk elements. Both catchy and repulsive, this is my favorite kind of artistic expression, once the membrane of our awareness is penetrated we are drawn in but the closer we get to the source the more we want to pull away. Though no longer am I repelled. Instead I am driven like a moth to the flame of these beautiful and uncomfortable sounds from N.Y.C. with perhaps dire consequences. I just might be falling in love.

Toxic State 2021

Friendship – “Undercurrent” – [Southern Lord Recordings]

whngr   6/11/2021   12-inch, A Library

Harsh and abrasive Grindcore/Power Violence Sludge/Doom from Chiba, Japan.

Up and down-tempo spurts of horrific misery. Double bass, riffage, guttural bellows, deep down-tuned bends, blast beats, cacophony, torment, coursing tirades of anger.

Unadulterated, maladapted disquiet, a clarion call for the disenfranchised and dispossessed. An interesting niche for this part of the world as the sounds of the Bay Area peninsula and Claremont California continue to echo and reverberate around the globe, we are offered a glimpse into what sounds, to my (admittedly aged) ear, to be slightly retrospective. This is not untilled soil… but it is black, fertile, and awash in a perspective that could only originate in the land of the rising sun. This four-piece slipped off the radar in 2020 after abandoning their U.K. tour do to unforeseen plague circumstances. Perhaps in the future they will see fit to make a pilgrimage to our part of the world where they can pay homage to the dark anti-gods of Power Violence. All hail Spazz! All hail… Man Is The Bastard a.k.a. Charred Remains!

Evans, Jessie -Heartwave – [Fantomette]

Thee Opinataur   6/9/2021   A Library, CD

Jessie Evans has a history in the Bay Area, where she was part of the synth goth band Subtonix in the early 2000s. After relocating to Berlin for a few years, she now calls Brazil home. Released in 2019, this is her third solo album. It’s reflective of her experience in her new life in San Paolo. Her lyrical verse is the star of this album, a deep, introspective, and heartfelt message to the world with an empathy for people around her, and authentic selflessness. 

Synth-Pop beats are the dominant platform throughout most of this album, with Machines, Cello, flute, guitar subtly mixed in. Known by many for her Sax play, she is thoughtful and particular when and where to incorporate. When she does play it, it’s understated with a soulful, sexy, and dream-like affection. Her voice is a mature, vampy, sultry, smokey experience. It can be hypnotizing to get distracted at times listening to the addictive poppy beats, but do try and separate and just listen to the extraordinary straight to your heart and soul lyrics. 

The opening track ‘Chariot’ is a shimmering potent synth-pop frenzy with a catchy chorus, but listen closely to the lyrics ‘While your cities falling, your government is balling’ is just a taste of this prayer. 

I couldn’t help but smile listening to her love song duet with her little girl Elladina in ‘Hold Onto Me’ You can feel, hear and experience her deep affection for her with every word she sings. 

The more I paid attention to her heart, the more I fell in love with her. 

Thee Opinataur

Zimpala – Almaviva – [Lacerba]

Thee Opinataur   6/9/2021   A Library, CD

Released in 2001, Almaviva was the first album from the collective out of Bordeaux, France known as Zimpala. Directing and producing this group of DJs, electronic and acoustic musical artists, and vocalists is French DJ and producer DJ BNX. Is it downbeat, house minimal, broken beat, Nu Jazz, lounge electronic? Why yes, yes it is; all of that and then some others sprinkled in. This is a pretty interesting and cool collaboration mixing in acoustic as well as electric instruments with their house tunes.  

 Things kick off with ‘To the Bass’, it takes you to the beach with a chill, bossa lounge experience to start things off. However, from there, things pick up beat-wise for a while until ‘Come Back’ cools things down. From that point on it’s an exotic mix of world fusion dance, erotic soulful vocals, and chill club music with a perfect tune, ‘New Home‘ to close this album out. All in all a nice groovy lounge trip. 

Thee Opinataur

Empool – "DOES Do Did Done" – [Feeding Tube Records]

aarbor   6/9/2021   12-inch, A Library

Empool is Ann Arbor’s Miller brothers: twins Laurence and Ben and older brother Roger (of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and Mission of Burma). Andre Cynkin plays guitar and farfisa on some tracks and Rick Scott plays acoustic piano on 1 track. These are recordings from 1977 and 1978 written by Laurence and released by Feeding Tube Records in 2018. The band improvised over pre-recorded background tapes which one of the brothers created using sound on sound analog recording equipment. Ben and Laurence evolved from Empool into members of Destroy All Monsters (another Ann Arbor band) in 1977. They have since recorded another album as Empool in recent years and are now looking for a label. Many thanks to Laurence Miller for donating this record to KFJC! AArbor

Lingua Ignota – "Caligula" – [Profound Lore Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/8/2021   12-inch, A Library

For a while, this album felt thematically like a love song between God and Satan, the world’s oldest co-dependent lovers. But then I read an interview song-by-song breakdown at
https://www.loudersound.com/features/lingua-ignotas-track-by-track-guide-to-new-album-caligula
which shot that theory down in flames. But what pretty flames, whether they burn in hell or just the throat/heart/soul of Kristin Hayter. Hayter’s
voice often multitracked, can assume the shape of some Sardinian shepherds or a choir of Huun-Hurt-Too monks. She invokes the divine torment of Diamanda or Jarboe, and her musical accompaniment is often just as harrowing. Slow and heavy, like the steps of an executioneer plodding across the gallows. Other sounds add to the theatrics of Hayter’s featured voice like forlorn horns (synth’d?), percussion rattles (chained prisoners?), timpani storms and who knew Satan had a piano bar down on the 9th ring. Plus he trimmed his fingernails for this recording. Sonic disintegration is well used here (see “May Your Failure”) which invokes our greatest fallen Pope – Distortus Maximus II. The recording is a study in dynamics, the mix of voices, chorale and tortured to scream – the thickening and thinning of sound, the repetition and prayer/poem cataloging. A very captivating release. And it seems Aileen Wuonos is still her co-pilot (#6) for me a strange patron/matron saint, but viva equal rights in wrongs I guess. Will she paint herself into a pentagram corner, I don’t think so, I expect this Hayter to proper, and continue to bloom like an asphodel.
-Thurston Hunger
I flinch every damn time on the broken glass on “Sorrow!” and then
laugh later on the Lars Ulrich sample sandwiched in

BURNPILOT – “Infinitism” – [Pink Tank Records]

SlartiBartfast   6/6/2021   12-inch, A Library

Self described Psychedelic Punk designed to destroy? Since 2005? Where have you been Burnpilot? This is an early 2020 release of the German psyche rock trio Burnpilot out of Bielefeld, Germany. Burnpilot was originally founded in 2005 by brothers Joel and Sidney Jaffe on bass and drums. They soon after recruited Jonas Hehemann on guitar and Burnpilot was the result. This pre-pandemic release provides a perfect musical escape from the everyday doldrums, and an excellent planetary road stop for a psychedelic daydream. 

Obsessions – “Obsessions” – [Static Blooms]

SlartiBartfast   6/6/2021   7-inch, A Library

Loud, in your face, post apocalyptic garage punk from Obsessions. This 7” release out on Static Blooms Records will leave you killing time and escaping the dystopian dream of living through a final solution nightmare. The A side “Killing Time” is an anthem to the age old quest to escape from an absurdly stifling daily existence, The flip side track “Final Solution” is a visceral shout out to surviving the world’s insanity when you feel at ropes end. Drop the needle and punk on!

Froys, The “Seaweed/Under a Tie Dye Sky” – [Static Blooms]

SlartiBartfast   6/6/2021   12-inch, A Library

Garage punk? Stoner, psyche rock from a three piece out of Mexico City? This split 12” LP is a re-release of two earlier EP’s “Under a Tie Dyed Sky” and “Seaweed” and delivers on all cylinders. Oscillating between an in your face, high tempo post punk to more sonic musical trips, The Froys bring it with this fantastically energetic double EP release. It’s a trip filled with a little metal, post punk, and fuzzed out psyche guitars with that perfect amount of surf feel. Combined with powerful lyrics and just the right amount of rage and you find The Froys tapping into their chemistry to produce some of the best channeled craziness a trio can produce. Time to break out the tie-dyes and find the path The Froys have left your senses to follow.

Miralia / Stranahan Duo – "S/t" – [Self Release]

humana   6/6/2021   A Library, CD

These are three long forays that will take you through aural images of whale song and have you experiencing exactly what the terms “crescendo” and “decrescendo” mean. Percussionist Paul Stranahan and electro-acoustic artist Lisa Miralia have composed a sound on this release that ranges from the first metallic sounding cries (that must be one agonized whale!) through delightful atmospheres created by bells, Tibetan singing bowls, and gongs to an cacophonous freak-out of sound that gradually and soothingly diminishes into a dream of wind chimes. Perfecto!

Sagan – "Anti-Ark" – [Seeland Records]

cinder   6/5/2021   A Library, CD

A beautiful, cosmic space trip from collaborators Wobbly, J Lesser and Blevin Blectum! Three weirdos from the bay area, Wobbly’s been a part of Negativland for bit as well as his own projects and other collabs, Blevin Blectum has Blectum From Blechdom, and J Lesser has toured with Matmos as well as his own stuff. It’s their second release together as Sagan, and it’s ‘a recursive love letter to the early decades of space travel and the High Frontier, when the lines between hard scientific research and emotional wanderlust melted away to reveal an optimistic vision for mankind’s shared future.’ It’s got those twitchy itchy Wobbly beats, along with lots of zips and zaps, quirks and wiggles, squiggles and programmed electronic spastic schitzo.

Wet Labia – “Wet Labia” – [Kitty Play Records]

whngr   6/4/2021   A Library, Cassette

A chaotic din of snotty grrrage punk dripping in low fidelity. Rafter shakin’, vulva vibratin’, rock n’ roll for the unwashed and uninhibited.

Pounding, emphatic, and raw. Right in your face, rub it around, you’re a disgrace rock ‘n roll. Nice n’ southern with just a hint of morbid curiosity with nods to to low brow science-fiction and horror. A little t(w)angy, hot, sticky mess that just feels so fuckin’ good.

Frenetic female fronted three piece from Memphis TN, the “Labes”  wrote rousing and evocative numbers with memorable titles like, “Just A Whore” and “I Died This Way” while imploring us to, “… do the Zombie”, something I would gladly do if only I could return to the halcyon days of 2002. 

A-side was recorded by Alicja Trout (Lost Sounds) and Jay Reatard (Lost Sounds, Reatards) at the People’s Temple in Memphis.

B-side is a bedroom recording live to 4 track.

FCC’s: “What the fuck!?” in the first second of “Gone Away” on B3 (track 8 on the cd) and copious “Fuck”-‘s slathered all through “Fuck If I Know” B6 (track 11).

MK9 – “Discography and Video 2001-2006” – [Neural Operations]

lexi glass   6/2/2021   A Library, CD

This CDR collects mid-career tracks from the discography of Michael Nine, formerly a fixture of the Bay Area noise underground and now based in Vancouver. This period from the early 2000s falls between his first incarnation as Death Squad, that terrorized audiences throughout the 1990s, and his more recent project MK9, whose live actions combine extreme audiovisual compositions and spoken word. The retrospective begins with 2002’s Self Medicated (T1-T5), with five tracks that oscillate between high pitched feedback and rumbling low end pulses, screaming pain and dull numbness, a sound palette that recurs through the later releases. Two tracks from the 2002 7HZ compilation (T6, T7, from the storied SF experimental venue/art space of that name, a collaboration with Randy H.Y. Yau and Scott Arford/Radiosonde), brings disembodied, ghostly voices into the fray. On 2002’s Why (T8-T10) the vocals become discernible, a direct patch into the darkest corners of the subconscious. The Empathy/Apathy 7” from 2003 foregrounds a disturbing phone message recording and a visceral spoken word imagery (T11-T12). The disc concludes with early works from the MK9 project, 2005’s excellent Resist (T13-T18) and three additional tracks of obscure or unreleased material (T18-20) Released on the artist’s label Neural Operations.

FCCS: T10, T11, T12, T16, T18

Surrogate Activity – Old Growth [Imploding Sounds]

Number 6   5/30/2021   A Library

unknown entity from Dublin who applies an ecological perspective from the rapidly disappearing old growth of ancient woodland, the loss of which no doubt is expressed in the multilayered three part saga of two possibilities: 1. the sound of the invader’s attack on its own sustenance over thousands of years ℅ virulent homo sapiens, in less than an hour or 2. the cries of indigenous deciduous oak over the same period of time compressed into less than an hour.  we hope that all three parts capture the struggle between them until the end of our time here on earth.  the first track, named after the last surviving fragment of the great Oak Woods of Tinahely, serves as a harsh noise introductory wall that doesn’t give you a chance to pretend you are interested in your wake of destruction but assimilates your city bred ennui with a jolt of forest spite that sprays its interlopers with a fog of genocidal repellant that will only exist in dreams while disembodied voices of the dying human species is relished and celebrated with the only kind of joy that a hate forest can feel moving to the second track named after a formerly predominant wooded area that is nearly extinct with the exception of a few restoration projects such as the namesake of the thrid track, Abbyleix, where the midlands bog locals defiantly stopped the municipal excavation assault. one can now feel the roars of minor victory from this eternal conflict for mastery or perhaps an eventual leveling off into inaudible commensal equilibrium

Ovskum – “Atto I – Atto II” – [Insikt]

whngr   5/28/2021   A Library, Cassette

Low fidelity depressive Black Metal from Italy circa 2006.

A dream of profound sadness and loss in four dismal parts. 

Buried electric guitar, buried drums (could be a sack filled with coins?), buried voices, buried ambient drone, buried lute (could be a zither)?, buried feedback, buried acoustic guitar, buried animal sounds (vulture?).

Murk, gloom, sorrow and doom tie these tracks together on a cassette that may or may not be the legitimate release (it does not match up with online information) from Insikt Records. Neither harsh nor intense this is like a diary entry written in tears, grieving the loss of one’s innocence or a profound loneliness that cannot be quelled in life… fortunately death is an inevitability, unlike love and hope.

Sophia – “Sigillum Militum” – [Cold Meat Industry]

whngr   5/28/2021   A Library, CD

Ambient Death Drone with allusions to arcane pagan rituals and perhaps a few nods to fascistic sabre rattling and one long uncomfortable pause/secret track (here’s a hint: it’s an outlier). 

Distant bells, frozen fog, hypnotic repetition, impending war, drunken trolls, chanting, antler helm, crescendos, rolling thunder, echoes, emphatic snare, possession, contemplative piano, winter, valorous horns, electronics, abstractive samples, rumbling synthesizers, triumph.

Swedish Ambient Industrial (once) side project of (hard drinking) Peter Bjärgö of Arcana (currently dissolved). Released in 2000 on Cold Meat Industry.

Agonanist – “Cynicism of Solitude, The” – [Transylvanian Tapes]

whngr   5/28/2021   A Library, Cassette

Dreary Esoteric USBM

Dissonant guitars bend and shudder, esophageal wails expressing the horrors of life amid peels of poly rhythmic drums that intermittently pound, crash, and sprint towards the Suicide Cliffs. Rain spatters the ground, the tears are left hidden by the the torrent but the anguish has left deep scars that ache.

Deeply cloaked in mystery, it is only known that they hail from San Francisco though nothing more could be gleaned from any source on the author of this vertigo inducing Black Metal. Transylvanian Tapes 2020.

Up, Bustle and Out – "City Breakers" – [Routes Music]

aarbor   5/26/2021   12-inch, A Library

An unusual album from Up, Bustle and Out in that it focuses on Reggae, Dub with some Hip Hop as well. In addition to the usual Up, Bustle and Out beats, cuts, scratches and keyboards, the sound is musically even more diverse: flamenco guitar, a Jamaican DJ, trumpets, darbukas, even a Talkin’ Tabla dub featuring Nitin Sawhney. The lyrics are rife with revolution and dissent. Enjoy! AArbor

De Crecy, Etienne – "Tempovision" – [Disques Solid]

aarbor   5/26/2021   A Library, CD

Etienne De Crecy also known as Superdiscount, EDC, Minos Pour Main Basse and Mooloodjee, is a French DJ and producer who composes electronic music, primarily house. He is the co-founder of Disques Solid with Air and Alex Gopher. His first release Super Discount (1996) was a big hit. Tempovision his second release from 2000, is a reflection on the electronic music of the late 1990s. In Étienne de Crécy’s opinion it is a blues album, differing from some of his earlier and more recent work. AArbor

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