Music Reviews

Akusmi – “Fleeting Future” – [Tonal Union]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2022   12-inch, A Library

J’accuse Akusmi as Pascal Bideau behind Big Ben with the candleabra. But the album has a whirlwind of world winds, Pascal plays a bunch of diverse instruments and enlists Berliner Ruth Velten to help share sax duties. Add in some trombone from Florian Juncker, and a dash of drums from Daniel Brandt, and the album feels like a larger group, in part due to the multi-work of Bideau. There are clues of Philip Glass on the minimalist beach here, maybe recorded in part in Indonesia, thought I tasted a bit of Brazil, German precision on the arpeggios. All instro, with piano and other percolating percussion. This LP slightly reminds me of Club Foot Orchestra meets Bang On A Can with Arnold Dreyblatt cracking the baton/whip. “Neo Tokyo” builds a cartoon cityscape before your eyes, really all tracks have that bustling urge. Hyper clean recording, this Future feels uplifting.
-Thurston Hunger

Sunfear – “Octopus” – [Dark Entries]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2022   12-inch, A Library

I was digging out behind the back of One Eyed Jacks looking for Laura Palmer’s real diary when I found this pristine 12″ record buried beneath the clumps of mud and whiskey-soaked weeds. Turns out “Sunfear” is Eylul Deniz, and this is one sweet soulache of bedroom fi beauty. Drenched in reverb and multitrack mystery, enjoy a girl and her best friend, her guitar. When things move smoothly, Slowdive vibes arise. When things are pretty but broken, Julee Cruise’s profile emerges on a full moon. This is a Dark Entries entree, but not one plucked from long ago, Deniz is a current poet/artist/singer/songwriter out of Istanbul. She may have a doppelganger DJ bumping beats in Berlin’s Boiler Room, I think I saw her there or maybe that was Maddie Ferguon? Anyways this album is slow-core supreme. I was almost shocked when a drum-machine stuck its tentacles into the title track. The leadoff instro dips your ears into the waters, which return later with vox punched in between waves. The lead track is called “Dokun” which apparently translates as “Touch” in Turkish and while that as a tactile found sound swirl, the
low-fi slow pop here is ethereal.
-Thurston Hunger

Niton – “Cemento 3D” – [Pulver Und Asche]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2022   A Library, CD

From musique concrete to prog cemento? Niton is a three piece (we have their “Tiresias” also at KFJC), in the center is Swiss cellist Zeno Gabaglio – his bow/scrape done on an electic instrument, joined by Italian soundscapers Luca Xelius Martegani and El Toxyque (who apparently performs and bathes in a beautiful blue and silver helmet). This is a remixing of their 2021 Cemento, re-poured through samples, filters and odd audio processors. In 3D! Gabaglio’s e-cello serves as fiber for each piece, “Asmant” & “Maas” have pulses added for percussion. I was trying to listen to some of the original Cemento and at times had both that and this playing (worked as a form of “Mixed Cemento”?). The recordings are atmospheric enough, but more active than drone. Kind of a Cluster booster. Electro-acoustic sound clashing too at times, I don’t think those are synthetic chains scraping sepulchral. Other samples and/or voices are spliced in as well. “Baylanis” holds a portal for our myriad metal-heads. The cello groans, electronics wince. Zeno’s conscience elevates this album, gorgeous sharp slices on “Shuini” w/ some astral vox and perhaps found flute. Track titles are not Magma-fied, but instead translate to cement through-out the world. This really grew on me, and comes with a clever flexi we will also add.
-Thurston Hunger

Niton – “Maas (flexi)” – [Pulver Und Asche]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2022   7-inch, A Library

Companion “record” to the excellent Cemento 3D cd. This has an excerpt of the audio sculpture “Maas” from Niton, a 3-piece electroacoustic project that straddles the Italo/Swiss boundaries and sonically straddles prog/industrial regions. Other pieces on the full length have more prominent electro-cello, this is more pulse/wave/squelch electronics. Really could serve as a stellar sci-fi soundtrack to alien animation. Well crafted sounds, and the clever craft continues in fabricating this medium. Sure, it is a flexi, but it has grooves on the see-through packaging, and the cardboard disk inside is just a decoy that you must take out to get the square outer record to spin round on the turntable. On the evil genius seismograph, that rates pretty soundly, glad we have the full length as hopefully this entices KFJC DJ’s to pour out more
Maas! The full length 3D is well worth a foray!
-Thurston Hunger

Onodera, Yui and Celer – “Generic City” – [Two Acorns]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2022   A Library, CD

Natural squonk to start, a flock of feathers lays down in a bed of synth drone. That is the recipe here a blend of found sounds and ambient tones, for this 2010 release. Celer these days is Will Long operating alone out of Tokyo, where collaborator Yui Onodera runs the Critical Path. They are joined on this by sounds and images echoes of Danielle Baquet-Long (once Celer dweller and partner of Will) who sadly died in 2009. The blend of who-provides-what is hard to separate, the generated sounds often a halcyon tonic to the samples (loose notion of air, from the opening flock to a Calgary boarding call for a jet?). Or maybe with the album’s name and Dani’s photo (city all in silhouette, the space surrounding emphasized over buildings and people) maybe that is a theme? Yui adds some excellent guitar sputter on #3, and don’t miss the chant (Shingon?) ascends towards the end of #4 before disappearing into a pure electronic drone.

-Thurston Hunger

Flowertown – “Half Yesterday” – [Mt.St.Mtn.]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2022   12-inch, A Library

SF duo, Karina Gill and Mike Ramos are Flowertown. If you dug their previous eponymous lp, (or Gill’s other project Cindy) this follows suit. The masks are off, the gloves still on, the guitar with sleep in its eyes. On some tracks the tambourine heart machine serves as pacemaker for gentle drums. The songs use two or four chords to keep the female/male vox aloft like Zoloft. Lofi bedframe bedroom blooms – tunes that might make your old Tascam recorder weep tears of joy if it were not sent to the local chop shop to be cannibalized into an e-bike that drove itself off the cliffs into the Sutro Baths. To be fair, at times the sun breaks into the Fog City Flowertown neighborhood, like on the title track and for “Beachwalkers” but the sonic weather overall is overcast. Note clear vinyl, if you want to look through these indie rock waltzes as life spins past.
-Thurston Hunger

Bauchklang – “Jamzero” – [Ecco.chamber]

aarbor   11/30/2022   A Library, CD

This is Bauchklang’s debut album from 2001 and it put them on the map. Bauchklang means belly sound. They’re an Austrian outfit whose sound mixes human beatboxing, mouth percussion and other kinds of vocal sounds. They cover a musical landscape stretching from Electro over Minimal, to Dub and Hip Hop, using only their voices. It’s kinda 21st century doo wop – very delightful, playful, experimentative. Vocals are in English (French lyrics on track 9). AArbor

Exaltation “Under Blind Reasoning” [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]

atavist   11/29/2022   12-inch, A Library

Grim death from New Zealand. Driving, staccato structures offset by open, ringing riffs. Blooded talons and wings black as night. Anguished cries of suffering and guttural bellows of disgust. The sound, expertly engineered, is rich and layered. Check the excellent bass tone, accentuated by drum hits, at the start of “Ascension” to get a sense of the massive foundation this monstrosity is built upon. Overall, “Ascension” is an early favorite. In most tracks you can hear some less conventional riff construction amidst the all-out barrages; “Blaspheme Mortality” provides a good example. Plenty of tone to entomb oneself in. The album closes with “Divider of Redemption”, and the two guitars ring together during the breakdowns like a baleful wail. Prepare yourself for the cold earth.

Blood Incantation “Timewave Zero” [Century Media]

atavist   11/29/2022   A Library, CD

Creepy deep space soundtrack styles. Beautiful synth washes build in ominous layers. Blood Incantation exhibited similar passages in their previous release “Hidden History of the Human Race”, but there the passages contrasted their blistering technical death metal attack. Here, it’s two long tracks of cold, dark expanse sprinkled with the light of distant stars and galaxies, with no death metal to disturb the tranquility. Heavy Moog obsession and liner notes that indicate without subtlety a clear celestial lineage back to Brian Eno. After a time, acoustic guitar, tambura, and other acoustic instruments join into the mix. Zone out into oblivion as you crest Timewave Zero.

Culto al Qondor – “Tannhauser Tor” – [Worst Bassist Records]

carsonstreet   11/28/2022   12-inch, A Library

In early 2003, four friends from Lima, Peru, formed Qondor to jam some tunes under a heavy influence of bands like Ash Ra Tempel, Neu! and Hawkwind. They never took it too seriously, but then a couple of local labels asked them to be part of some compilations. And with that came the opportunity to play live. They then they split to focus on their main bands (La Ira de Dios and Serpentina Satelite, two of the more popular and celebrated psych bands from Lima). In January 2017 Necio Records asked them for a reunion show at a festival (Undercaos Festival) in Lima. This time as a trio with a name change to Culto al Qondor. They started to jam again and the chemistry was still there, so they decided to record for real this time. On September 2nd they set up everything at the bass player’s bar and recorded the album. It’s raw, it’s cosmic and it’s dark… as Space.Culto al Qondor is Dolmo on guitars and delays, Aldo Castillejos on drums and loops (both from Serpentina Satelite) and Chino Burga on bass and drones (La Ira de Dios and 3AM). Peru has a long tradition in psychedelic music (since the 60’s) and this is a clear example of the Peruvian psychedelic sound of the new millenium. More delay, more rock! Drone on!!!

Century Plants – “Transmissions from the Outer Sun” – [Carbon Records]

carsonstreet   11/28/2022   A Library, CD

Century Plants is a shape-shifting drone and free improv duo featuring Ray Hare and Eric Hardiman. On the first track, recorded in 2011 in Albany NY, they are joined by Matt Weston on drums, and explore the free-improv corners of their sonic world with a combination of guitars, electronics, voice, and sparse percussion. The second track, recorded in 2022 in Troy NY, sees the duo expanding into a quartet with Mike Griffin on bass and Phil Donnelly on drums. This track builds into a mid-tempo psych-guitar-drenched epic with Ray’s echoing vocal wails. Albany’s (NY) Century Plants has deep roots in the noise, psych, improv, and hardcore scenes. The core group is Ray Hare (Deadline, Fossils from the Sun, Burnt Hills) and Eric Hardiman (Rambutan, Sky Furrows, Spiral Wave Nomads, Burnt Hills). The duo’s twin guitars + vocals are often augmented by a larger “sound system” of like-minded players for live actions, resulting in an intense mixture of noise, drone, dub, musique concrete, and blistering psych rock. If you need referents, recent gigs have conjured the ghosts of Hawkwind, Discharge and Suicide, all filtered through a unique prism. Hardiman and Hare have played together for over a decade as Century Plants and continue to play in Albany’s legendary psych rock unit Burnt Hills. 

Cindy – “1:2” – [Beautamous Loaf International]

carsonstreet   11/28/2022   12-inch, A Library

Cindy is a band built around the singing and guitar playing of Karina Gill. She became a musician only recently, having sat on the sidelines while ex-partners and friends made music. Gill describes a chance encounter with an abandoned Squire Strat left in the basement by a previous tenant, “mummified in electrical tape with the remnants of a burrito on the head stock”, that led her to begin carefully strumming her way through simple chords and making her own songs.
1:2 is Cindy’s third LP. Quietly devastating 1:2. features Jesse Jackson on bass, Simon Phillips on drums and Aaron Diko on keyboards as they weave a perfectly thin web behind Gill’s slow velvety strums and murmured melodies. “Sometimes you say you’re feeling small/You plan all day for your own funeral”, she intones in Party Store. I’d call it dream-pop with a slightly dark edge.

Villain, Carmen – “Only Love From Now On” – [Smalltown Supersound]

karma   11/27/2022   12-inch, A Library

Carmen Villian is a Norwegian-Mexican artist. Her work is a combination of field recordings, electronic music, and instrumentals. Her inspirations include Brian Eno, and her music has a similar feeling of enveloping ambience. My favorite track is “Gestures” (the first one), a soothing collaboration with jazz trumpeter Arne Henriksen. All of the tracks in the album feature soft field recordings and sparse instrumentation. The somehow spare yet dense music engenders positivity. With all the discontent in the world, there should only be love from now on.

Trouble Seekers, The – “The Trouble Seekers” – [Ruined Records]

Brian Damage   11/20/2022   12-inch, A Library

The Trouble Seekers is a brand-new collaboration between Kevin McGovern (The Prostitutes) and Hillary Burton (The Pandoras), and it’s every bit as raucous and noisy as a rock ‘n roll record should be.

If your sketchy second cousins (you remember them, right? the chain-smokers from Ohio who drive a beat-up Buick Wildcat and will eventually end up featured on America’s Most Wanted?) show up uninvited and unannounced at Thanksgiving dinner with a half-empty handle of Gilbey’s to offer, claim that they have a band, and proceed to dig a battered C90 out of the back seat to prove it – The Trouble Seekers is that record.

Heavy doses of early rock ‘n roll, first-wave synth punk, and post-punk noise combine to make a relentless sonic assault. There are no slow songs here. There are no slow moments here. The beatings begin within a few seconds of the opening song, “Cool Liar” and don’t let up in the ensuing 37 minutes. The real surprise is that these are actual songs with structure, melody, and hooks. There are two touchstones buried in here to allow you to gasp for breath: covers of Cheap Trick‘s “He’s A Whore” and Madonna‘s “Borderline,” both of which make convenient points of entry for the uninitiated.

This is a pop record buried in a barrel of rattlesnakes and razor blades.

HIGHLY recommended.

Jenkins, Cassandra – “Ramble (Morning & Night, 2021), The” – [Ba Da Bing!]

cinder   11/17/2022   12-inch, A Library

Cassandra expands on a track from her release ‘An Overview On Phenomenal Nature’ and creates two side-long ambient pieces, full of wonder and magic. She’s a sax player, so there’s gentleness that flows in and out from the brass. Twittering birds, that when wearing headphones really makes you feel like they’re right next to you, goosebumps! Trickling piano. Field recordings from Central Park (nyc) and the woods in upstate NY. Side B is more tranquility, this time in the comfort of crickets.

Tutti, Cosey Fanni – “Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and The Legendary Tapes” – [Conspiracy International]

cinder   11/17/2022   12-inch, A Library

Delia Derbyshire: The Myths & The Legendary Tapes is a ‘conceptual and atmospheric journey into the legacy and character of electronic music composer/sound pioneer Delia Derbyshire’. The film was written and directed by Caroline Catz, who also stars in the film. Soundtrack from the great Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle, Chris & Cosey). Music is performed by Cosey, as well as Delia’s own creations which were constructed from samples chosen from Delia’s posthumously discovered “Attic Tapes”. It’s pure science fiction bliss. Synths and tape manipulations and knobs and twiddles. She was the composer of the excellent Dr. Who theme, and did extensive work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and those intergalactic sounds follow through on this. More exploratory than song in nature, you might accidentally dial an alien spaceship while playing this on the airwaves.

Meat Wave – “Malign Hex” – [Swami]

whngr   11/16/2022   12-inch, A Library

Seething dark post-punk

Mid to up-tempo rock and roll with a proliferation of very catchy downstroked riffs and a pessimistic if not confrontational stance. I hear Hot Snakes, The Fall, perhaps a slightly darker Franz Ferdinand or a more aggressive, less apathetic The Strokes. A full sounding three-piece with huge hooks.Engaging and energetic with some gentler passages (B2 “Waveless”) that add contrast and depth as well as the near title track “Malign” (B5) which is a beautiful down-tempo and subtle ear-worm that works nicely for us though “Jim’s Teeth” (B4) is perhaps the strongest offering lyrically, compositionally, and in delivery. A tight and focused album, Malign Hex gains favor and builds resonance from repeated listens.

Three-piece from Michigan, Chris Sutter (guitar, vocals), Joe Gac (bass), and Ryan Wizniak (drums).

Chicago – 2022

Body, The & Big|Brave – “Leaving None But Small Birds” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

whngr   11/16/2022   A Library, CD

Post American Traditional

Thoughtful and pensive folk with a powerful and passionate delivery, especially by vocalist Robin Wattie of Big|Brave, with sparing electric and amplified elements that tend to build gently as the album progresses. Beautiful, tortured, and often unconventional vocals rise above somber violin and acoustic guitar, hypnotic minimalist percussion, piano, mandolin, vocal harmonies, feedback, crumbling frequencies reminiscent of life’s inevitable result, and the deep sorrow of love forever lost. 

These bands are both sort of metal adjacent acts that hold their own with the heaviest and loudest projects on the planet with parallels being drawn to Sunn O))), not unsurprisingly as Big|Brave is signed to Southern Lord, who is owned by founding members of the vomit inducing juggernaut (Wattie has also collaborated with Greg Anderson on the digital release Needle Cast) but this collaboration is considerably quieter and employs more traditional instrumentation than either of these two projects’ previous outings. And unlike both of their previous work, there is a paucity of drones. Instead of the dense waves of atrial fibrillation inducing low-end now they are layered delicately like jeweled globes of dew clinging to the gossamer thread of a spider’s web abandoned by its weaver. Big|Brave has been noted for not being immediately accessible but having a tendency to grow on the listener over time; sometimes being a bit of a challenge. This was not the case for me and was even less true with The Body, which I adored from the first listen, but for some reason their collaboration was a bit difficult for me. Not as noisy or as thick as I was expecting, indeed I struggle to hear much, if any, of The Body as I have come to know them on “Leaving None But Small Birds” but once I settled in I found it both beautiful and haunting… though not in a spooky way, more like urging me to feel again… or maybe to be whole… things that will not come easy.

Big|Brave is Robin Wattie (guitar, vocals), Matthieu Bernard Ball (guitar) both of whom are strong visual artists in their own right, and multi-instrumentalist Tasy Hudson (drums) from Montreal, Québec. The Body are Chip King (guitar) and Lee Beuford (drums) and would be from Portland, Oregon… if they could sit still long enough to be from anywhere.

Canada and Everywhere – 2021

Off! – “Free LSD” – [Fat Possum Records]

whngr   11/16/2022   12-inch, A Library

Angry hippy loses control of his hardcore punk band (and perhaps his sanity) while continuing a life-long insurrection against oppressive capatilist war-mongering regimes and on this first release in eight years, extraterrestrials… and it fucking works. 

A strong pivot from this new release from OFF! that while employing several new elements, themes, and instrumentation while retaining a hardcore punk ethos and structure. Sounds a little like Circle Jerks colluding with a swollen, up-tempo Godspeed You Black Emperor with trem-picked heavily effect laden guitar in short form psychedelic fueled declarations against quietude. 

OFF! is Keith Morris/vox (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Flag), Dimitri Coats/guitar & electronics (ex-Burning Brides), Autry Fulbright II/bass(…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead), drummer Justin Brown (Thundercat, Herbie Hancock), John Wahl-saxophone (Claw Hammer). Long-time punk rock art icon, Raymond Pettibon contributes the art as per usual but in a shocking twist, employs a spray of soft color; a thumbing of the nose at well heeled conventions that mirror and complement the songs on this recording that explores metal, psychedelia, and jazz in, and around, the hardcore punk template. The packaging is just as far afield from what was called “hardcore punk” at one time, eschewing DIY ethos and aesthetic to embrace rock and roll excess and deserves a little attention, what is going on with the strange tactile printing on the interior of the gatefold? Does it glow? What happens if you lick it? Will the alien robot take over your mind? How much did this gatefold cost to print?! And lastly, the liner notes are printed on perforated white blotter paper that actually gave us a physical rush when we pulled it out, reminding us of our former days when we might have explored synaptic distortion with a lysergic irrigation of the cerebellum as we fell deep… into our developing degenerate punk rock minds. I like it though, unconventional and acerbic with a salient theme that is carried throughout the LP. The language of the genre continues to evolve, absorbing new vocabulary and phrasing while being inextricably tied to one of the last surviving roots of 20th century Southern California hardcore punk.

Los Angeles – October 2022

Rider / Horse – “Feed ‘Em Salt” – [Ever / Never]

whngr   11/16/2022   12-inch, A Library

Woozy Post Gloom

Driving-droning rock that disturbs the equilibrium with meandering, slightly off-kilter lap steel, ethereal electronics, rock n’ roll drums, insistent bass lines, and mildly rabid, often reverberating death rock vocals from this two-piece from upstate New York. Rider/Horse deliver a fairly unique and often dissonant sound that includes many disparate layers with relatively traditional structure and drumming but almost every other aspect sounds alien and mildly uncomfortable. Strange but not alarming, “Feed ‘Em Salt” is the second full length from the duo of:

Cory Plump, guitar/vox (Spray Paint, Protomartyr) and Chris Turco, drums (Assembly Of Devices, Geezer) out of:

Kingston, NY – 2022

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