KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Headboggle – “Polyphonic Demo” – [Ratskin Records]

lexi glass   1/15/2020   A Library, CD

Headboggle, aka local experimental synth wizard Derek Gedalecia, is no stranger to the station – a small slice of his sizable discography lives in our library, and he recorded a session in The Pit back in 2009 – but for the unfamiliar, this 2019 Ratskin Records release provides a full immersion in the bizarre, beautiful Headboggle universe. Polyphonic Demo holds 44 one-minute tracks, each a tiny, wonderous world of electronic sound. Put the disc on shuffle – maybe you’ll land in the rough, bluesy groove of “Sister Synth” (T44), the mechanical march of “Stomp Ya Down” (T14), the ragtime piano and squishy beats of “Piano and Polyphonics” (T22), the minor key fanfare upon entering the “Buchla Club” (T26), or the slo-mo surge across the finish line in “Marathon Man Dance” (T7) – and catch a different glimpse of a facet of this strange gem of a record.

Father Befouled – “Holy Rotten Blood” – [Dark Descent Records]

atavist   1/14/2020   A Library, CD

Death metal with a satisfying amount of doom thrown in. Crushing, a bit atmospheric, unrelenting. Vocals are way down in the mix, but present, and it works. It’s all about those filthy guitars. The drums provide a pummeling barrage but aren’t the focus.

4:42 Full gallop of the apocalypse horse leads to a staggering breakdown.2:04 This song is more like an interlude, or an idea for a song that didn’t become a fully-fledged piece. Instrumental. 3:47 Intensity picks back up with this track. Funereal doom-reminiscent breakdown before a crashing end.4:16 Moderately fast-paced death leads to a trudging middle section before resuming the onslaught.3:42 Starts out relatively mellow. There’s a somewhat unhinged guitar solo in there.4:58 Features the heaviest, chuggiest riff on the CD.

Laddio Bolocko – “Live & Unreleased 1997-2000” – [No Quarter]

atavist   1/14/2020   12-inch, A Library

3LP box set release from 2015 offers six sides to explore full of psych skronk ecstatic noise rock improvisation. Not sure where to drop in? Select Side D. (A breakdown of each side follows below.) On the whole, it’s fun to listen to this genre of music getting made in real time, and with a frenetic, jangled, anxious energy as opposed to happier, tranquil, figure-it-out-eventually, meandering psych jam sessions. Laddio Bolocko go full out on many tracks, exhibiting notable stamina as they work through ideas while keeping their collective foot pegged to the floorboard, tempo- and intensity-wise. They also exhibit a chameleon-like interest in trying out different genres and textures. The best stuff on this collection is more raw and unhinged than the band’s studio releases, and points to the next evolutionary step, notably the Psychic Paramount, the reckless experimental outfit that absorbed half of Laddio Bolocko after its dissolution. Be sure to check out the liner notes printed on each disc sleeve if you’re interested in learning how the musicians lived in New York (both in Brooklyn and upstate), toured, and made these recordings along the way.

Side A: a side-long excerpt from an extended jam made shortly before the saxophone player joined the band. The keyboards featured prominently over a driving drum line give this track the most conventional psych jam feel in the collection. That is, until the end, when the jam devolves into some Casio-keyboard mayhem. Made in the band’s living/rehearsal space in Brooklyn.

Side B: recorded at a house in the Catskills where the band lived for a while, during the same year Laddio Bolocko appeared in the KFJC Pit. B1: an assemblage of multiple sessions/ideas. amorphous noises and drones rise and fall. piano and determined munching of potato chips or similar snack gives way to some strange western saloon crossed with a science experiment. eerie scifi vibes. B2: noodlings and wanderings, particularly on sax. B3: percussion-driven composition with other noisy and sax-induced parts.

Side C: more from the Catskills sessions. C1: a bit more smoothed-out sibling to B3, driving percussion with minimalist keyboard element. C2: starts out mellow; drums, bass, and sax. it’s mellow but there’s always some tension brooding under the surface. C3: recorded audio detritus lends some interesting sonic textures. C4: the elusive guitar resurfaces in this amalgamation of attempts and explorations. bass and drums tend to keep things held down while other sounds flit about. C5: sharp, high-pitched machine whine with some sort of drum machine going in the background. C6: ritualistic drums, twisted carnival organ, redlining sax squawk.

Side D: return to Brooklyn. D1: brief, cool-sounding bass line with drums and sax. D2: probably the standout track on the collection. The guitar establishes a driving rhythm and the band begins to build structures around it. The drummer, bassist, and sax player had heard the guitar part for a few minutes before laying this track down, so the spontaneous ignition happening here is pretty amazing. Mesmerizing result. D3: Part B to the previous track’s Part A. Adds synth to the mix, guitar soars, and plays like a sinister doppelgänger to the pt. A’s beauty. Super rad, down to the moody dissolution to close it out.

Sides E and F were recorded live in Slovenia. These are driving, straight-ahead, full-throttled tracks that should fit in a variety of sets. A couple tracks are live versions of tracks found on the studio album “As If In Real Time”. E2 is a quick shot of adrenaline. E3 provides a glimpse into the band’s ability to play with dynamic range and respond to each other in a live context. Tension built and released. F1: another version of the track included in the Live From the Devil’s Triangle v1 compilation. The end of this track bleeds right into the F2, where they get into a live jam. F3 closes out the collection with a melding of the eccentricity of the Catskills jams and the intensity of their live improvisations. Breakdowns amidst the freakouts allow the sound of the audience to come through.

Rusalka – “Base Waters” – [Absurd Exposition]

lexi glass   1/8/2020   12-inch, A Library

Rusalka is the project of Vancouver noise artist Kate Rissek. Her work over the past decade includes several solo cassettes and split releases (with MK9 and The Rita, among others), and now in 2019 her first full-length LP washes onto KFJC shores. On Base Waters, Rusalka uses a theremin and electronic effects to harness the power of the seas on two sidelong pieces. A sunken ship ascends back to the ocean surface on “Sinking Blood Deep” (T1). The vessel’s weathered hull – massive walls of corroded noise – rises from the depths; its horns sound, lights flare, and engines roar once again. On “Reflection Underneath Waves” (T2), field recordings of waves transform into massive columns of noise standing amid powerful swells of sound, a raw expression of the creative and destructive forces of the sea. Beautiful, compelling work, released on Montreal label Absurd Exposition.

Maisha – There Is a Place – [Brownswood Recordings]

aarbor   1/8/2020   A Library, CD

Maisha is a 6-piece outfit lead by drummer Jake Long who are a part of the up and coming London Jazz undergound. Others in the band: Nubya Garcia (sax/flute), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), Amane Suganami (piano/Wurlitzer), Twm Dylan (double bass) Tim Doyle (percussion and Yahael Camara Onono (percussion). Most of the tracks are 8 minutes or longer. AArbor

LES FILLES DE ILLIGHADAD – Fatou Seidi Ghali & Alamnou Akrouni – [Sahel Sounds]

aarbor   1/8/2020   A Library

Fatou Seidi Ghali and Alamnou Akrouni are Les Filles de Illighadad: the first women’s Tuareg band. They are cousins. Their band includes 2-3 other women.Tuareg women don’t play the guitar they play a style of music called tende which is centered on a drum made with mortar and pestles. It’s a style that influenced Tuareg guitar playing but isn’t generally part of the music played by Tuareg men. This is an example of traditional women innovativating beyond what has been acceptable in their culture. This is their first record (from 2016), it’s lovely! The A side is 5 tracks which are not separated, the B side is one long track called ‘Tende’. – AArbor

SYRUP – Different Flavors

aarbor   1/8/2020   A Library

German funk group which is the alias of the Poets of Rhythm.  Compost label boss Michael Reinboth wanted a disco funk release and this moniker was created for that project. This is their only full length release. It’s funky in a delightful (not sticky sweet) way. Drop the needle! AArbor

Nerija – Nerija EP – [Domino Recording Co Ltd]

aarbor   1/8/2020   A Library, CD

Nerija are a collective of London-based musicians: Nubya Garcia (tenor sax), Steve Reid,  Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet), Cassie Kinoshi (alto sax), Rosie Turton (trombone), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), Lizzie Exell (drums), and Rio Kai (bass). Their music is original and inspired by: jazz, hip hop, Afrobeat and South African Township styles. Each track was written by a woman who plays on the recording.  AArbor

Silver Summit – "Silver Summit" – [Language of Stone]

humana   1/4/2020   12-inch, A Library

This is freak folk with beautiful vocals and instrumentation. Think Marissa Nadler but with vocals that are distinct and lovely in their own way. Sondra Sun-Odeon’s voice delivers some thought-provoking lyrics that paint haunting pictures, some of which were inspired by the band’s love of Acadia National Park in Maine (“Acadia” on Side B). David Shawn Bosler wrote the songs along with Sun-Odeon, and he does some of the backing vocals. There are Tibetan water bowls, guitars, cellos, and other musical instruments that set the other worldly tone. Quite pretty and fanciful.

Deathprod – “Occulting Disk” – [Smalltown Supersound]

atavist   12/30/2019   12-inch, A Library

There’s something quite compelling and rich in the sounds presented here. They tower above our heads like spectral skyscrapers rusting in place, stone monoliths clothed in frost, rivers of ice excavating trench graves. Deathprod, the project of Helge Sten, has been piquing the interest of KFJC DJs for some years now, as evidenced in reviews by Cinderaura, Muad’Dib, and Louis Caliente. At times the sounds are punctuated by pauses, or rise and fall in waves, or maintain a near-steady state of presence. Landscapes of cold, bare earth, toxins carried on currents. Nothing on the previous three sides really prepares you for the massive, overdriven “Black Transit of Jupiter’s Third Satellite”. It arrives fully formed, a behemoth. Thunders, temblors, acrid scourings, wave after wave in slow evolution, shaping the new normal. Or rather, those three sides of electronic exploration have perfectly prepared you for the arrival of “Jupiter”. Intercepted messages sent from the future.

Merzbow – Scumtron [coll] – [Mute]

atavist   12/30/2019   A Library, CD

This compilation CD captures remixed and original Merzbow compositions from 23 years ago. The seven tracks you can actually hear (more on this at the end of the review) provide a fairly eclectic spectrum from techno to unrelenting noise. The opening Jim O’Rourke track is a little sleepy, but Merzbow’s track 2 goes off like a rocket engine. Panasonic’s remix on track 3 brings some rhythm discipline to the noisewash, positively toe-tapping after the track 2 sandblaster. The juxtaposition of minimalist house beats and high-RPM machine noise is mesmerizing. Rehberg/Bauer reformulate ear-piercingly high pitches; this track is built for pain. Russell Haswell’s remix “Micromedley” is indeed a bit of a grab bag, with an extraordinary variety of sounds and textures, some found, some synthesized, that never stays in the same place for very long. Autechre’s contribution is decidedly in the vein of Autechre—a reliably late 90s exploration of programmed percussion and bouncing tones. It will lull you into a relaxed state just in time for Merzbow to vaporize you with more blast furnace heat. The closing track by Bernhard Günter is either 14+ minutes of silence, or it’s mixed so quietly as to be essentially unusable on the air.

Blood Incantation – “Hidden History of The Human Race” – [Dark Descent Records]

atavist   12/30/2019   A Library, CD

Descriptions of death metal with ambitions to take on more, in terms of technical complexity, composition, nerdy science fiction novel themes, and face-melting riff architectures serve as a warning for some listeners. The genre simply isn’t for everyone, and can be polarizing amongst metal adherents. That being said, if you’re up for this kind of thing, Blood Incantation delivers. I’m freaking out over this recording (captured on 2″ magnetic tape, as it turns out).

Track 1 is death metal that bursts from the gates at full throttle, spliced with passages that flash some progressive leanings, as soaring riffs occasionally rise from the onslaught. This track, it seems, is intended to lay a solid foundation of razor-sharp brutality; the proggy quotient will gradually increase as the record progresses.

Track 2 continues where track 1 leaves off—for the most part, it starts out brutal and technical. Two minutes in, they break into a Middle Eastern-referencing, ancient Egypt spacecraft-invoking passage that reminded me of “In Their Darkened Shrines” by Nile—but only obliquely. Though resolutely technical, Blood Incantation never indulge a sometimes detrimental laser focus on technical prowess that made sections of “In Their Darkened Shrines” overstay their welcome. This slower-tempo passage continues up to minute 6, when the pace and intensity begins to rebuild.

Track 3 is an early favorite of mine, as it’s so easily distinguished from the other tracks. Almost (but not quite) exclusively instrumental, a quiet, fever dream introduction leads to beautiful, hypnotically interwoven guitar parts that build like a storm. Such beauty is then released and a satisfyingly odd time-signatured pummeling takes over, only to close with a return of the hypnotic riff.

Track 4 is an eighteen-minute, three-part sprawling opus (with a sprawling track title to match) that exhibits the full range of textures, time signatures, riffs, and mayhem the band is capable of producing. An ambient breakdown at minute six provides a mind-altering rest complete with a Pink Floyd “On the Run”-style synthesizer part. Just before they go too far into Floydish diversions, they return with headbang-inducing fury. There’s a lot here to unpack, many interwoven themes that I can’t always trace together. By the 14th minute, I don’t remember how the thing started, but it doesn’t really matter, because this particular part of the track is so beautiful. It’s a long journey but every passage has its own rewards. I’m looking forward to playing the track in its entirety where the break clock can accommodate it.

Soft Issues – “Soft Issues” – [Opal Tapes]

whngr   12/19/2019   12-inch, A Library

Fairly aggressive electronic noise with pissed off vocals and some slightly down tempo near-drone tracks to temper the fury. This debut album comes to us from Leeds, U.K. that is “… influenced primarily by noise artists and hardcore punk as well drawing inspiration from the tedium of office work, social isolation and familial issues.” Abrasive, ugly, and harsh, you may need a few dry tissues after dropping the needle on Soft Issues… not for your tears but to soak up the blood draining from your ears. However, not all tracks are discordant and anxiety inducing. The B-side of this L.P. dips into some shallow pools of almost mellow drones. Though somber and unsettling, they provide a brief respite from the cacophonous onslaught of distorted pulses, whitenoise, and aural fibrillation. Even , at times, employing a pounding rhythm above the squeals of modulated feedback and guttural screams like a corruption of hard techno or industrial while evoking a kind of (anti-)ethos culled from hardcore-punk as stated on their bandcamp page. Not recomended for volunteers suffering from migraines or for family gatherings which is why I wanted to get this into the library before the Holidays. Seasons Grievings my whingelings.

Dokuro – “Avalon” – [Monotype]

Medusa of Troy   12/18/2019   A Library, CD

Dukuro is a duo of Agnes Szelag (cello, electronics, voice) and The Norman Conquest (formerly based on Oakland (synthesizer, electronics). The tracks on their 4th album tend towards ambient, droney mixes of ethereal vocalizations and grinding electronics, moored by groaning, mournful cello. Some of the songs are peaceful; all are somewhat unsettling. Track 2 (“Land of Silence and Darkness”) is a little louder than the rest. Overall, the album feels like a soundtrack to a sci-fi film – not a Marvel blockbuster, but something weirder, sadder and more dangerous, like The Arrival or High Life.

Ebony Pendant – “Sempiternal Passage Through Realms of Suffering and Hatred” -[Forbidden Sonority]

whngr   12/18/2019   A Library, Cassette

Repetitive and slightly basic one man blck mtl from Seattle. Straight ahead, cold, bleak and solitary. No thresholds were broken on this tape, no limits tested, no souls were rend, or minds blown but fairly enjoyable none the less. However, The B-side is not , in the opinion of this miserable volunteer, listenable. Employing the same chords as Aqua’s, “Barbie Girl” I began to wonder if this wasn’t a hoax, or a test, that perhaps S.C. (the sole credit on this album that is dedicated to “no one”) was foisting upon the world, an insidious and bizarre sonic trolling. But I do not now believe this is the case as any black metaller worth his salt would never have listened to much less been aware of Aqua, Barbie, or anything that wasn’t cold, grim, low fidelity, or soaked in the frozen blood of their enemies.

Battles – “Juice B Crypts” – [Warp Records Ltd]

Medusa of Troy   12/18/2019   A Library, CD

The experiment rock band is now down from 4 members to 2 on this 2019 album. The tracks are energetic, danceable rock with lots of 8-bit weirdness. Beneath the video-game-sounding instrumentation are solid, ambitious songs. Different guest artists add their own subtleties to their endeavors so nothing sounds too repetitive. Five of the 10 tracks have some sort of vocals, no FCCs. Several stand-out tracks: “They Played It Twice,” with Xenia Rubinos; “Sugar Foot,” featuring Jon Anderson of Yes; and, IZM, with the Seattle hip hop duo Shabazz Palaces. Happy Happy Joy Joy music (hello, Ren & Stimpy fans) with complexity.

SANDBENDERS – Rock ‘n Roll

aarbor   12/18/2019   A Library

Bodo Eisel and Martin Maischein are the Sandbenders. This record from 1998 is their only release on Craft Records. Even though it’s called Rock ‘n Roll this is not guitars and drums, it’s keyboards and beats. AArbor

MUSIC OF INDONESIA [coll.]

aarbor   12/18/2019   A Library

Indonesian music and culture was influenced by the people who invaded them: Mongolians, Hindus, Buddhists (7th and 12th centuries), Moslems (13th century) and Christians (in the 16th Century). The indonesian people include many cultural and linguistic groups – from the relatively primtive Dayks in Central Borneo and the Temiar people of Malay to the more sophisticated Javanese and Balinese. Many Western people are familiar with the shadow puppet plays and Gamelan orchestra music. This limited edition remastered release of recordings done in 1949 offers a listeners additional Indonesian musics: dance music, children’s music, shaman songs, even opera – as well as other instruments. AArbor

DEF BEAT REMIXES VOL. 4 DJ KRUSH [coll.]

aarbor   12/18/2019   A Library

Hideaki Ishi is DJ Krush who dropped out of school, joined a gang and then the Yakuza. call these tracks “downtempo”. He says that the movie Wild Style inspired him to become a DJ. He is considered one of the pioneers of Japanese hip hop and considers his music to be “underground” rather than “mainstream” hip hop. Here he is heard with others: Coldcut, Jazzanova, Kodo, DJ Shadow and remixing others. FCC on Side C track 1. Some standout tracks: A1 and 3, B1 and D1. AArbor

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