Music Reviews

Soft Shoulder – “Formerly On Fluorescent Paper” – [Gilgongo Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/6/2022   12-inch, A Library

Rock has not been exterminated, and Mark E. Smith’s sneer lives on in many throats including here via James Fella. James is the fella behind the mighty Gilgongo label, for now he is the sole Shoulder carrying the load. Well, he’s got his trusty drum-machine along as a side-kick-snare. Voice often run through a distorted auctioneer’s megaphone via landline in the basement. We recently added his collab with Gabriella Isaac which is a ear/skin/soul noise-ball shredder. Quite a contrast to this song-strong lp with trace elements of punk country…okay definite accent on the former. I think it’s just how the strings slide around that feel like a lap-steel in trouble (or that kind of Spray Paint galloping guitar vibe). Something here makes me think about a Texas Funeral (viva Jon Wayne) even though it is closer to a sweltering swamp cooler (I think Fella’s a permanent Tempe type). Don’t sleep on his spiraling sax screeches
in “Child Not Listing” and “No Magic Dirt” and the hit single (in my ears at least) “Half Wall Bleed.” Or put on “PO Box 7455” and work your dance moves (it ain’t ESG but it’s got a groove). All tracks are short to really short, so unless it’s a Two-fer-Tuesday get something queued up pronto, bucko. Worse things could happen, really digging the punchiness of this record, hope James finds a band to flesh the songs out live. Maybe Deerhoof’s John Dieterich well lend a hand as he mastered them for the record.
-Thurston Hunger
PS Finally looked up where the name Gilgongo apparently came from, even more to love.

Mouchoir Etanche – “Une Fille Petrifiee” – [Cellule 75]

Thurston Hunger   4/6/2022   12-inch, A Library

On first overall listen organs in elegy resonated most; after reading some online notes those sounds felt tied to the loss of livelihood in general during the pandemic and in painful particular to the artist’s Mother dying. Marc Richter is Mouchoir Etanche, he is also familiar to KFJCers as Black to Comm and for running the stellar Dekorder label. The album announces itself with “Enter Mirror Hotel” and the obviousness of samples are present, tight loops of arias and orchestral mini-flourishes, human and yet not. As the album progresses there is more blur between sample and source sounds, like life during the pandemic one wonders what is real/unreal. On A4, is that a siren or a bagpipe strafing a stately locked organ slice. In looking at at titles like “Le Temps Isolee” and “Menschen Im Null-Raum” hard to not hear this as a quaranteen-aged release in any language. Still plenty of grace and even a sliver of hope on “Secheresse” (drought) which recalls jubilant and children frolicking in your speakers. The first two tracks do floor me, but I wonder if the title track was also considered as an opener, starburst organ grandeur. I may be wrongly accenting the Nurse with Wound tending your Covid bedside here; listening now to Black to Comm’s “Alphabet 1968” there were solemn organ drones and disembodied voices even there, so it might be a part of a more pervasive nostalgia for Richter (et moi).

FWIW the project name translates as “waterproof handkerchief” so maybe there is an element of immunity to sorrow built-in. Independent of the name and the times, a very deft and beautiful weaving/mix/making of sounds.
-Thurston Hunger

Pupillo, Massimo – “The Black Iron Prison” – [Subsound Records]

mickeyslim   4/6/2022   12-inch, A Library

Moistened tendrils tickle your oft-neglected meningeal spaces with lavish whispers. An entire planet’s worth of purring and droning spaced ever so meticulously over its surfaces. Acidic cirrostratus rain clouds swept above by a single, solemn current. Is it a storm brewing? Or is it the sounds of a supra- or trans-temporal constant?

Surrounded, once again, by the iron walls of a prison, no one inside aware of anything.

Renowned collaborator/experimentalist/bass-player Massimo Pupillo (of numerous projects, most notably, Zu) in what appears to be his second solo project. Recorded in complete solitude at Thighpaulsandra’s Aerial Studio in Wales, using heavily processed electric bass, synthesizers, and a sampler, this album takes inspiration from the relationship between Gnosticism, alchemy, and Philip K. Dick.

Excellent album on smokey black and gray vinyl! Three bowls!

Thollem – “Obstacle Illusion” – [Astral Spirits]

Max Level   4/4/2022   A Library, CD

Thollem’s imagination continues to astound. Four lengthy pieces here: Tracks 1 and 4 are solo piano inventions that cover a lot of unpredictable ground; Tracks 2 and 3 are tumultuous electronic pieces performed on his trusty Korg Wavestate keyboard. As a master of every musical style on this planet and beyond, his technique is brilliant and seemingly effortless. Much respect for that. But the way he jumps from one idea to another, one musical voice to another, and somehow makes all the passages flow together like they belong together—that’s what puts him in a class of his own. He NEVER seems to be out of ideas. And I mean good ones. All material recorded live in Italy, late 2021. No overdubs.

Measures of Decay [coll] – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   3/30/2022   A Library, CD

Double-feature Horror Vignette

En Nihil begins the diptych: A marauding beast lurches through an electronic forest illuminated by an inverted crescent moon laced with briars, brambles, and dead leaves before tumbling into a clearing where a chaste maiden far too removed from her bedchamber, though dressed accordingly, turns her virtuous face toward us just as our view is ominously obscured by the hulking , terrible monstrosity. Her eyes alight, and in recognition of her grisly fate begin to shudder as her scream cleaves the night. An intimation of violence before the scene is swallowed by malevolent shadows.

No Visitors continues the morbid tale upon an isolated mountain peak. A wayward traveler claws his way over the frozen landscape amid howling winds. His fractured mind has continued to play tricks on him as the imminent storm approaches… but the voices urge him on. No longer aware of the blood caked to his frozen hands, he is utterly depleted. Exhausted, he pauses for breath and looks up to see the moon’s scowl as his legs tremble, the knees buckle, and he slides and then tumbles into the abyss. He lands hard upon the ice. He will not live, but he will have time to reflect on his miserable life between blessed lapses in consciousness… His ears are ringing. Body broken. But the journey has not ended… for he was a wicked man and the devil awaits their reunion.

A genuinely alarming release from a mysterious noise label from Austin, TX. Little can be gleaned from online sleuthing as bandcamp seems to hold the keys to Rural Isolation Project… and they’re not sharing. Nor are No Visitors. However, En Nihil is one Adam Fritz, a prolific creator of harsh sounds with releases stretching back to 1996.


Dream Shake – “Ride The Disease Vol. 34” – [Rescued From Life Records]

whngr   3/30/2022   12-inch, A Library

Classic Psychedelic Rock-n-Roll 

If you’re from the gutter, dug your heels into 1986-7, and like your trips on the soft and drippy side then this is your ice cream. Except these guys are wicked fast… and a little scary. But they do like some echo on the vox… so you know they’re on drugs. Well rehearsed (tight as fuck), high energy, and not too cheery… except the bass player who seemed to be really enjoying himself while everyone else wrung themselves out on their instruments… not that he didn’t, he just looked like he liked it… while the other lads were there for war. 

A1: shit – A5: asshole, fuckin’, shit – A6: shit – A12: fuck – fuckin’ – B14: asshole – B15: shit – B17: shit – B18: fuck – B20: fuckin’

Houston – 2021

Permanent Collection – “Nothing Good Is Normal” – [Strangeway Studios]

whngr   3/30/2022   12-inch, A Library

Dispassionate vocals drone methodically over detuned downstrokes, 90’s punk rock drums, insistent but slightly buried bass, and almost sickeningly woozy guitar solos. Effects abound on this once local project (currently residing in Seattle, fittingly enough).

This EP is retro in the wrong way, so thoroughly reminiscent of the grunge of my youth that it was utterly dismissible on first blush… but the hooks. Christ! I got a little mad at the music department (I thought you fucking knew me!?), had a little issue digitizing the recording and decided, it must be an ill-fated omen, it doesn’t even want to be in the library… so, I decided not to review it… and I walked away. However, it stayed with me. Those hooks were in. Still are. A powerful formula that my mind decided we were keeping, perhaps not entirely with my permission. I know this will be mostly panned by fellow volunteers and it has some bothersome issues (recording is way too polished for my taste and I am not enthused by the new direction the project has appeared to adopt) but this album is quite good and though admittedly it will likely remain a guilty pleasure, here it is… in the library of the illustrious and revered KFJC, ready for you to cue up to regale our listeners with our oblique and often absurd air sound. 

Permanent Collection is one Jason Hendarty (and cohorts) formerly of the San Francisco peninsula – 2020

Alternate African Reality [coll] – [Syrphe Records]

SlartiBartfast   3/29/2022   A Library, CD

Alternative African Reality – [Coll]

African rhythms meet an otherworldly electronic universe on this compilation curated by Cedrik Fermont of Syrphe Records. This double CD collection transcends musical expectations by defining it’s own African experimental and electronic soundscape. Alternative African Reality drifts between afro-techno tracks with beats to keep you awake at night and electronic glitches that haunt your nightly dreams. There is a healthy sprinkling of field recordings, spoken word, and tracks that seem recorded by cell phone on the local corner to add flavor to this musical stew. Highly recommended as an interesting and intriguing double CD that will shock your auditory cortex while providing delicious musical treats for all curious taste buds. 

Riley Geare/Time/Joker’s Chair

carsonstreet   3/27/2022   7-inch, A Library

Riley Geare is a Los Angeles singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. This 7″ is a mix of chill wave and jazz-laden funk. Geare’s sound blends soft-jazz and mid-tempo electronica. Riley is jazzy with a little lean toward progressive rock. Shoegaze, dream pop, ambient and electronica could all apply. Very pleasant and a nice way to segue between genres.

Dorotheo/Como Es

carsonstreet   3/27/2022   12-inch, A Library

Heavy doom meets colorful psychedelia meets swirly shoegaze on this release from Guadalajara group Dorotheo. Do we also detect Krautrock influences? Dorotheo was formed in 2011 in Guadalajara, Jalisco by Benjamín Zárate (guitar, vocals, synthesizers) and Otto Malgesto (drums, percussion, vocals). A veteran of the local scene including a stint in Antoine Reverb, Zárate shared some personal demos with Malgesto during a break from a musical outfit they both played in and they decided to launch the new project together.

Carlton Melton/Microwavelengths

carsonstreet   3/27/2022   12-inch, A Library

Carlton Melton (Andy Duvall, Rich Millman, and Clint Golden) are great friends of KFJC and we are great friends of theirs. Just drop the needle on this new EP and you will know why. Carlton Melton formed up along the Mendocino County coastline in Northern California in 2008. The idea to play live, loud, improvised, experimental, instrumental, psychedelic music in a geodesic dome had been discussed for many years prior to this date. The opportunity came to fruition after the Dome was completely rebuilt and the acoustic sounds inside were fully realized. This music is recorded live inside the Dome to analog and digital sources using carefully placed omni-directional microphones. All music is improvised. This EP was recorded before Mind Minerals and after their EP Hidden Lights both of which are in our library. This is a five-track excursion into free form psych, hazy drones, and all out fuzz freakouts. If you like this check out the other Carlton Melton albums in our library.

/A\ //A\

carsonstreet   3/27/2022   12-inch, A Library

/A\ is Emilie Zoé, Franz Treichler and Nicolas Pittet. The seven tracks in their debut album are the result of a series of jam sessions. From one track to the next a series of strange and perfect hybrids combine harmonically rich pop with driving rhythmic patterns. /A\ multiplies different energies and dynamics: the warmth of a migratory blues (Hotel Stellar), cat-like, undulating post rock (Grain Sand and Mud), low-tempo machine-like fury (We Travel the Light), a pale morning atmosphere (Count to Ten), mutant trip hop (The Leaves), an idle climb to Golgotha (Our Love is Growing). These trailblazing ideas follow each other with an incredible sense of naturalness. Released June 18, 2021.

Split In Half [coll] – [Unholy Rub]

whngr   3/24/2022   10-inch, A Library

Astral Butcher (Oakland) swaps split with Goat Rhythm (Ventura).

The former engaging in Speed/Death metal with occasional hardcore cum power-violence leanings; ugly, raw, and disturbed. This furious three-piece unleash hell from a slightly vintage (adjacent) stance. A wry grin and a nod to the forefathers while still sounding unique and of our time to this miserable volunteer’s tattered senses.

The latter, while less down the middle of my lane shares some similar attributes while producing an entirely different sound. Metal from the old-school: riffs, gallops, (protracted) solos, and slightly sardonic samples (Return of the Living Dead), this trio seasons its Maiden with a bit of Purple (sans organ), clean vocs / dirty backing. While a little more gregarious and fun-loving than I (tend to appreciate), these two tracks did grow upon me.

Nor/So CA – 2022

FCC on A2 – Fuckin’, fuck, fuck, and fuckin’ (opening sample only)

Russell, Bruce & Wood, Luke – “Visceral Realists” – [VHF Records]

cinder   3/23/2022   12-inch, A Library

Wailing, droning, efx’d and processed guitars and electronics layered over old, scratched records that have been spinning endlessly on the last edge. Sounds like the vinyl side ended, and they used that itchy looping rhythmic pulse as their underlaying beat. Pretty short, each track around 3 minutes long. You can find more Bruce Russell sounds from the band Dead C, and Luke Wood founded Ilam Press Records, both dudes hailing from New Zealand.

L’Honneur De Poetes (Four French Resistance Writers) [coll] – [Folkways Records and Service Corp.]

whngr   3/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

A quadrumvirate of French poets wax theoretic in a bid to entice fellow revolutionaries into the fray against their occupied oppressive Nazi regime.

Recordings from the 1940’s replete with patriotism, fervor, cadence, and perhaps ennui… that retains a vintage sound quality, or lack thereof. Amid the hiss, pops, and thick miasma of cigarette smoke that undoubtedly hung in the cafés sympathetic to the underground there is a sense of pride and entitlement, perhaps cognizant that their words would fall on the sympathetic side of history.

Not exactly my sweet spot for sound as my francais is just this side of non-existent. It would have been easy to employ antiquated pejoratives for the French to describe their nasal and haughty delivery reinforcing bygone tropes. However, intermittently there is a genuine allure to the meter, tone, and deep-seeded emphatic dissidence that appeals to this miserable volunteer… And I share Mickey Slim’s (the instigator of this LP’s add) enthusiasm for the human voice and sometimes non-accompanied recitation. Though in hindsight I might have done well to hand this LP over to a more qualified reviewer, on a disk that provided considerable reticence to be smoothly added to our library based on myriad and pervasive issues in the recordings and cataloguing (also I attempted to find a transcription of these poems online before discovering the six page insert. Ah, ma folie.) which would take an age for me to accomplish. One I have surmounted prior to Slim’s imminent return to his new/old home overseas and spurring my decision to complete our transaction as, the gauntlet had been thrown down… and I am not one to shy from a challenge.

France – 1944

Diaz-Infante, Ernesto – “Saca Los Cuernos Al Sol” – [Headlights Recordings]

Ms. Conduct   3/15/2022   A Library, CD

In this album by San Francisco experimentalist composer Ernesto Diaz-Infante, atonal canticles of the sun’s calendrical signatures brood out through electric guitar post-production and subdued improvised noise. The radiation waves ride through each track arcing at solar speed as the album progresses. At noon’s crest the heat energy and silver strummed guitar glints towards infinity blue. Two notable departures from the atonalist appear on tracks VI and IX. This album is slow cinema for atmospheres witness to human endeavors. A dreamlike ambulation advances the momentum. The ending is pure romance of heaven. A horizonal transference between earthbound bodies and the transcendent celestial order lights up the twilight with evening color gods.  Let us remain here forever. —Ms. Conduct

J.R.C.G. – “Ajo Sunshine” – [Castle Face Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/15/2022   A Library, CD

Justin R. Cruz Gallego (seen elsewhere in KFJC’s library in Dreamdecay where he is one of two drummers and a howler of a lead vocalist) works under his own initials here and mostly by himself. A few guests including the face of the Castle Face, John Dwyer, help out but while Dreamdecay provides storm clouds of septet sound, those thick jammy clouds part on “Ajo Sunshine.” (Prounced Ahh-Ho, maybe “garlic” en Espanol, or maybe just a feeling?) This album has a little bit of a Bowie-in-Berlin soundtracky feel for me especially the opening/closing and other tracks like “Holy Hope” which feature Gallego’s Dad’s field recordings from cemetery announcements I think). But there’s also plenty of percussion, not always from Gallego’s drums, sometimes the synths provide it, sometimes the samples are chopped up for a form of beat-speak on “De La Frontera” and “Brother Was a Bull Rider”. Something about the keyboard chords can give a hint of the walls closing in, augmented notes keep stacking on top of notes. Hard to pin down a simple genre for this, at times the album feels like cold wave and prog rock had an affair. Nah, that’s not right, and it ain’t Tortoise meets The Faint either…those solar flares of guitar on the title track obliterate that. The title track starts the most Castle-Facey (with imitation mellotron?), but it explodes with a drum and siren breakdown/jam-out to finish. That song and the album are a nice, but warped, ride!

-Thurston Hunger

Insect Factory and Rambutan – “Radio Frequencies” – [Tape Drift Records]

Max Level   3/15/2022   A Library, CD

Long, involved constructions of drone and sound and noise and sometimes melody. Not quite like anything I have heard before—they seem to be speaking a musical language all their own. The first track is a mind-bending 33-minute journey that is difficult to describe, both pleasing and challenging to the ear as things evolve into other things and then into other things. The other two tracks aren’t nearly as long but their gestures are similar. All three are trips well worth taking.

Made to Measure – Volume 1 [coll] – [Crammed Discs]

Max Level   3/15/2022   A Library, CD

A remastered 2021 collection of mid-1980s recordings by four artists/bands (Minimal Compact, Benjamin Lew, Aksak Maboul, and Tuxedomoon) that were used as soundtracks to various films, plays, dance performances, and fashion exhibitions back in the day. A few of the tracks have a decidedly 1980s flavor and there’s nothing wrong with that. The material is pleasantly moody throughout and a lovely listen. Vocals on Tracks 2 and 3—–all other tracks are instrumental. Tracks 8 through 11 are short solo piano vignettes and they sound very nice played together as a suite.

Scowl – “How Flowers Grow” – [Flatspot Records]

beastofbourbon   3/14/2022   A Library, CD

Scowl emerged in 2019 from the Santa Cruz/San Jose punk scene, aka “40831”. Scowl, along with Drain, Gulch, Sunami and other bands are putting the South Bay/Santa Cruz back on the musical map. 

    “How the Flowers Grow” LP is the third release (October 2021) (1 EP, 1 demo cassette both in 2019), from this female-fronted hardcore band. Don’t let the pretty flower fool you, the music on this album is aggressive and the lyrics and vocals are brutal. It is reminiscent of 80’s and 90’s NYHC, but with a modern Bay Area spin. Amongst the 15 minutes of intense music is a song that shows that vocalist Kat Moss can sing in a more traditional manner, backed by a sweet mid tempo song featuring a saxophone (track 5 “Seeds to Sow’). The “40831” scene is promising.

Beast of Bourbon

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