Music Reviews

Xantotol – “Thus Spake Zaratustra” – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

whngr   5/31/2023   12-inch, A Library


Minimalist, ugly and relatively short-lived low fidelity black/doom metal with woozy and morose synthesizer interludes.

Very early 2nd wave out of Poland with a genuine investment in Satanism. Formed by Mala (gtr,vox) and Jacek “Venom” Szczepańsk (drms) in 1991 who would go on to create the Fullmoon Collective, a resource for disseminating Satanic literature and philosophy throughout Poland by connecting to international Satanic groups including, Order Of Nine Angels (UK), and Luciferian Light Group (USA). Influenced by Swiss projects Hellhammer and Samael, Xantotol was perhaps the first Polish trvly black metal project, eschewing interest in Paganism, National Socialism, ancestral worship or indeed anything coming from Scandinavia at the time who Szczepansk believes were still primarily playing death metal at Xantotol’s inception .

Kutno, Poland – 1995


whngr   5/31/2023   A Library, Cassette

Two 31 minute tracks of highly repetitive minimalism that evoke a natal heartbeat, a clothes dryer with a sneaker in it, or perhaps war drums. In headphones, after about eight minutes, a feeling of disorientation may result, at thirteen minutes one may feel a distortion in equilibrium, and at twenty-seven minutes a disconnection with the ego as the lizard brain begins to take over. This cassette might be therapeutic for some or potentially tortuous to others; a relaxing ceremony or an incitement to spree killing depending on the listener’s consciousness/conscience or lack thereof.

A mysterious cassette with no origin or background though it does contain a phone number that this miserable volunteer is moderately afraid to dial. What kind of mad man is behind this recording? With a hand-typed jacket and non-existent url? There is something satisfying about the lack of information however; a true oddity that harkens back to a less informed time when a strange cassette was just that. Full stop.

Davachi, Sarah – “Two Sisters” – [Late Music]

whngr   5/31/2023   A Library, CD

Dulcet Lush Minimalism

Solemn sweeps of organ, pensive church bells and somber choral passages on this beautiful and haunting album by one:

Sarah Davachi originally from Alberta,Calgary. Composer and performer with education and a slew of credentials from the University of Calgary, Mills College (Oakland) and currently is pursuing a PhD in Musicology from UCLA. Educated and deeply considered her work emphasizes subtle variations in tones and tuning, textures and timbre that allows for exploration of temporal space and the word, electroaccoustic appears several times on her online CV.

Los Angeles, California – 2022

Divide and Dissolve “Gas Lit” [Invada Records]

atavist   5/28/2023   12-inch, A Library

This is the third LP from this Melbourne-based project made up of Takiaya Reed and Sylvie Nehill. It begins with Reed’s strangely lilting and looping saxophone harmonies, subsequently joined by a powerful fusillade of Reed’s massive guitar work and drums by Nehill. The second track further examines the dimensions of slow drums played hard and layers of blasted, droning guitar. The third track is a spoken-word piece featuring Minori Sanchiz-Feng with a minimal backing track. The fourth track closes out Side A with themes reminiscent of the first track. Side B drops in with a jolt of higher tempo, high-energy attack. Divide and Dissolve conjure some sublime and harrowing textures, exhibited in Side B’s second track, seeking out their own unique interpretation of the doom genre they are most readily (if somewhat uneasily) associated with. They are not necessarily about making the listener comfortable. Their sound is an expression of the weight of history they carry with them. They seek to rattle the injustice of the world out of the walls and crevices where it lurks and breeds. Turn it way up.

Rush, Loren – “Dans Le Sable” – [Recital]

humana   5/25/2023   12-inch, A Library

This is an exquisite album that is the most recent release from pianist, composer, and digital sound artist Rush. He was one of the co-founders of Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Side One showcases Rush’s piano, Charles Shere’s narration, and Renee Grant-Williams’ soprano. The chamber ensemble offers a lovely backdrop to all that is going on. Side Two features Song and Dance, commissioned by Seiji Ozawa and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and “Dance” especially features Rush’s cacophonous computer treatments of the music. This is a must-listen, especially if you’re fond of classical music.

Ky – “Power Is The Pharmacy” – [Constellation]

humana   5/25/2023   A Library, CD

Ky Brooks is the former vocalist/lyricist for Lungbutter and is dedicated to their drummer. On this release, Ky continues to set their poetry to music either through their spoken or sung vocals, and also plays synths, field recordings, and guitar. Many musician friends join them on different tracks, with the standout one for me being “All the Sad and Loving People.” Listen closely because this one is different from the Beatles’ song. Quirky, activist, melancholy and strange–it’s just up our alley.

Sharkiface – Climax in a Process

majesty   5/24/2023   A Library

A 1999 Bay Area transplant, this “sampling siren and static witch” received her MFA in Electronic Music from Mills College. Layering live samples, tape delays, custom devices, textures and rhythms, Angela Edwards often uses an extremely rare and tactile synth, sampler, and manipulated voice to “coax oceans of glass from tiny metal boxes.” This debut solo album elucidates “what happens when a moveable feast meets a gobbleable object? An ocean of gray rises, the music growing ever darker, richer, deeper, pouring toward you ever swifter.” CIAP explores “not only the metaphorical values of a full moon, but also the loss of loved ones.” She can be found here using the musical value of a birthdate to create arrangements, altogether developing a narrative either sonically, symbolically, or spiritually; the themes of “memories, shadow work, incantations, processing trauma, and redemption. Noord, tranoe, and larynx trace the anchorline beneath it all to sunless depths where an unblinking hunger hunts all, without rest. As her waveforms roil about your mind, you begin to realize that if you can hear desire, desire can hear you.” 

Bessel, Eric Angelo – “Visitation” – [Lore City]

humana   5/24/2023   12-inch, A Library

The liner notes written by Bessel himself are a perfect description of how this ambient music sounds: as if you are looking up through the depths of the ocean, watching the sun’s rays filtering dreamily through the water. Bessel composed and arranged these songs and played the mellotron that on some tracks (especially on Side B) make you feel as though you are present in some church or space where reverence is as natural as the sounds sifting through your ears. Dream on.

Dragon Disc 2 [coll] – [Worm Interface]

aarbor   5/24/2023   12-inch, A Library

An early Worm Interface release that Goodwrench undoubtedly found in an obscure place. Tom Jekinson (Squarepusher) offers 2 memorable track here along with two from “Dunderhead” (Nigel Smith) – his debut as it turns out. Jenkinson is better known – perhaps deservedly. AArbor

No Visitors – “100,00 Years” – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   5/17/2023   A Library, CD

Amplified Vestibular Neuronitis

More Like a hundred thousand ears… bleeding collectively into a haunted missile silo. Many varied sounds, abstract and without meter; layered perversely that growl, pierce, screech, thump, whine and drone. Weaving between moderately uncomfortable to thoroughly unnerving and intermittently is absolutely appalling; the latest release from No Visitors is a solid candidate for album of the year in the weaponized sound category. Leaning into the suffering, however, has elicited a mild psychedelic response for this miserable volunteer.

No Visitors is one Matthew Turner, the driven entity behind Rural Isolation Project and currently is avoiding whngr’s attempts to explain his aberrant behavior and motivations in a Mayhem special. Why won’t anyone fucking talk to me?!

Austin, TX – 2022

Panfilov, Misha – “The Sea Will Outlive Us All” – [Miraaz Records]

Albion Moonlight   5/17/2023   12-inch, A Library

This album may be best described as underwater space music. Consisting of 9 sea-themed instrumental tracks, Estonian multi-instrumentalist and composer Misha Panfilov and his small cohort delve into the nexus of electric lounge, psych jazz, ambient, and a little bit of surf. Ranges from soothing and dreamy to more defined grooves. Nice touches with the Mellotron and Wurlitzer. Maybe we are skating at an underwater roller rink?

The subtitle of the album says ‘Musical patterns by…’ , and Panilov incorporates patterns heavily into his music. A couple of the tracks sound like there is a human voice but it may just be the sounds of sirens beckoning you to a watery demise. Stay a while, dip in your toes. Favorite tracks: #2 (dreamy) #3 (groove) #5 (dreamy) #6 (surf) #8 (catchy) #9 (most orchestrated – wurlitzer?).


Cerebral Rot “Excretion of Mortality” [20 Buck Spin]

atavist   5/15/2023   A Library, CD

You might be wondering what is going on in that first track. Some sort of slasher film-style narration? The repeating crawling-spider motif will burst forth with riffs like a full arachnid assault; the walls and floor pulsate with the horde. Death has many faces, and here it is really filthy, leering as you squirm. I do appreciate that weird chorus-like effect on the guitars, particularly on “Spewing Purulence”. “Bowels of Decrepitude” gets the guitars lined up in formation while the drummer throws in an unexpected snare hit on occasion. If it’s crooked and nasty, just keep it in there. Weird guitar effects, perhaps some keys (though no one on the album is credited for it). So much rot. This band is really after that one thing. Their relentless pursuit of putrefaction has led them to innovate, or in other words, engage in some bizarre behavior, while straining to maintain the colossal mass that modern death metal extracts from its subjects. Satan be praised, this release upholds the mass ritual; see “Drowned in Malodor” and “Retching Innards” for further details. They close out with an eleven-minute epic, complete with a strange intro, in which they throw in a bit of everything in the arsenal.

Sightless Pit “Lockstep Bloodwar” [Thrill Jockey Records]

atavist   5/14/2023   A Library, CD

A crackling, twitchy descent into a maze of subterranean passages reveals thrumming beats and gentle washes of abrasive noise, ringing voices and hard words. A collaboration of Lee Buford (The Body) and Dylan Walker (Full of Hell), Sightless Pit’s antecedents are well-represented in the KFJC library. But much like recent additions by The Body & OAA and The Body & Thou (there’s even a Full of Hell/Merzbow in there), the motor for most tracks on “Lockstep Bloodwar” is the collabs and guest appearances. Midwife adds ethereal, reverb-drenched dulcet vocals that set the weighted words spinning. This sets up YoshimiO, a Japanese multi-instrumentalist, and Gangsta Boo, a Memphis-based rapper who sadly passed away earlier this year. This might be the last thing Gangsta Boo put on tape—she completely slays it, and it’s worth as much heavy rotation as safe harbor will allow. Staff might recognize Lane Shi Otayonii from the Nadja CD added late last year; here she contributes to another great track with an FCC to be mindful of. The title track is a lighter interlude with legit dance floor beats forming a respite between two massive trios of collab tracks. The Frukwan & Industrial Hazard track has a definite machine-chiseled vibe going, like hip hop falling apart and reassembling itself from scrap metal; halfway through it really locks in, and Frukwan’s vocal stylings ratchets things up a level. The Claire Rousay track “False Epiphany” is so “Mezzanine”-era Massive Attack until the vocal track snaps us into the present. By the time the death-doom vocal track floats in on an uneasy summer evening breeze, Atavist has discovered his favorite track on the album. Excellent lyrical delivery from Crownovhornz on “Shiv”. The harshest approach from Buford and Walker is reserved for “Morning of a Thousand Lights”. “Futilities” brings it down, with black metal vocals drifting through and entwining with the ghostly vocals of San Francisco’s Foie Gras. FCCs tracks 2, 3, 7.

Negativland – “Speech Free: Recorded Music For Film, Radio, Internet and Te” – [Seeland]

karma   5/10/2023   A Library, CD

Negativland is very popular in the KFJC library. They are a Bay Area based experimental music collective that is known to sample a lot of vocals. Their latest release is their two previous albums – with all vocals removed. The speech-free album is seamless. You wouldn’t know there were supposed to be vocals unless you’re a Negativland fan (as you should be) or I just told you. The tracks vary in length and tone. Very fun album that will fit into pretty much any program here.

Underground River – “Life Cycle, Delicate Song” – [Nudie Records]

karma   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Solo project of upstate NY-based Hunter Davidsohn. This album fuses the best of pop and psychedelia. The tracks are short for KFJC standards, but they are deep, rich, and full of baroque chord structures. Innovative left-field recording techniques and psychedelic sounds give the album a sound that somehow is firmly both in the 60s tradition and contemporary interest.

Frajerman, Denis – “Tiphaine” – [Klang Galerie]

Albion Moonlight   5/10/2023   A Library, CD

Frajerman is originally a member of the French experimental group Palo Alto.

‘Tiphaine’ was composed for Frajerman’s wife’s 50th birthday using Arabic and Balkan rhythms and melodies as well as motifs from English and American minimalist music.

This CD is moody, haunting, and plaintive. The cello playing is particularly nice throughout the CD. The somewhat unfamiliar rhythms (to me anyway) provide a counterpoint that creates tension and gravitas.

Carole Deville : cello Denis Frajerman : percussion, bass, Rbox Hélène Frissung : violin

Favorite tracks #3, 4 & 5.


Fictional Colours – “Love Song Generation” – [Self Release]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Dual-tracked vox with forked-tongue lyrics over hegrooving little rock and rollerblading numbers. Fresh (2020?) from the Oakland pavement. Ben Griggs strings and sings, Eric Faggin on jdrums, and some bass and he even sings on “Earthquake Kid.” You know you could capitalize that P in Pavement as this feels like a lost gem from when indie wasn’t necessarily mandatory (along those lines, pretty sure this vinyl is a sweet self-release. Unless the Squealer label wants to make a comeback?). Lyrics jump across history, we’ve got Watergate Babies, Governor Moonbeam and dishes stacked up in the sixties, look ma all hands, no washing machine. I dig the sprawl/jangle guitars, and Eric’s drumming is a trip (check “Civil War Surfing Buff”), but ultimately the lyrics filled my brain stein to the brim, mixing inside rhymes with outdoor crimes (falling from a plow and a bridge, sterilized lips, Earthquake Kid comes with multiple trips to the ER, California is on fire). “Tomorrow Tijuana” comes with a full tank and Ami Robbins’ trumper riding shotgun. Smooth ride, not a pothole for miles.

-Thurston Hunger

Iko – “’83 & Extra Studio Works” – [Le Backstore / On The Roof]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Reissue of Montreal trio, with a love of synth and lyrics often citing movement (elevators, escalators, subways) make it hard not to hop on the Autobahn. Gatefold liner notes connect the KfrafTwerk motorvation while spelling out the IKO recipe – aka “Intelligence Knowledge Orgasm” Some of the songs seem to have that old nerdy need for non-automaton relations. Digital pheromones for the luteinizing hormones? The sound is heavily sequenced keyboard programming with those little key shift move up, move down moments. Quaint quasi-robotic singing and happy little handclaps, there’s a kind of retro-techno cosmopolitan optimism that would make chatbots of today smile. The first record is a reissue of their debut (and only official album from ’83) it’s very clean and percolating. I dig the bonus material unearthed on the second record (at 45 rpm!!!) – a little murkier and hypnotic. “Surrender to the Dream” what a nice way to go.

-Thurston Hunger

Dark Canyon – “Dark Canyon” – [Nudie Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Once Upon a Time in the Midwest. Dark Canyon comes riding out of the long cinematic shadows of Chicago. We get The Good, the Bad and the Very-Well-Produced in this devoted homage from Mike Novak to guitar-inflected Westerns a la Morricone and Leone. For the imaginary soundtrack flair, there is a lot of tumbleweed acoustic guitar work, along with that sort of clean/dirty distorted/reverb electric guitar on top. Gleaming trumpets recorded atop mesas shine high, subtle and steady drum work here and there, a flute wanders in like a child through a gun fight. the Grosby choir soars whenever they appear, a jaw harp slithers in, a mellotron circles the wagon. The instros oscillate between lonely fugitive fugues and heroic crescendos. A couple of pieces feature vocals, “Through The Badlands” and “Old Blood Runs Thick” and “Pray for Rain” along with the familiar cover “A Taste of Honey” to close. Does the album have whistling on it? You bet, not just the last track but do not miss the towering “Bullets” as well. The album clearly is a labor of love, including the packaging with a gatefold full of the bandidas and bandidos who worked with Novak on this lp. In a way Novak here reminded me of Adrian Younge, modern studio sorcerers able to polish up every cranny and crag of sound that hearkens back while shining now. Dark Canyons in vinyl grooves well worth exploring. I’ll be curious to see if Novak pines for his own gold or becomes in demand by other audio pioneers.

-Thurston Hunger

Earth Room – “Earth Room” – [Related States]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Brooklyn trio led by Robbie Lee on woodwinds, creating improv instros that feel like electro-organic music. Electronic effect and synthesizers swaddle tracks, at times a drone-esque chill but definitely active. I think the fact that the drummer+ John Thayer engineered the recording was key. I dig how he pushes songs thru transitions (embrace the “Empty Way/Full Way”) Thayer adds a lot of electronics and even some fender rhodes to the albums more shimmering moments. Ezra Feinberg completes the trio on various strings including electric ukulele. All of side A, but especially the opening “Bridge of Waves” feels like the perfect early dawn greeting. The “Sound on Sound” is Lee tracking multi-rivers of bass clarinet. Side B starts with the most jazz-inflected playing but paired with a sorta John Carpenter foreboding vibe. “Owl Light” vibrates with both wind-blown squalls & sweeping synth ambience. In all, a sense of relaxed concentration.

-Thurston Hunger

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