KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Cex- “Being Ridden” – [Temporary Residence]

cadilliac margarita   4/23/2019   A Library, CD

From 2003, this was the 5th album from the prolific  musican-composer-record label founder (tigerbeat6) Rjyan kidwell, who uses the moniker CEX interchangeably to identify himself. A frequent collaborator of longtime friend and business partner kid 606, Cex is a talented wordsmith who hits hard with hip hop inspired rhymes over electronic beats. You can’t really pigeonhole this record into any one category. It’s electro hip hop with mixed with folk and fuzz guitar. There’s even some field recording-type ambiance. He was clearly dealing with one hell of a broken heart in early 2000s. and (not) hung up on his ex who may have been called Melanie? Or Katie? Or both? It’s fantastic, pain fueled, and dark, but delivered with a sense of humor that saves it from being a total sad bastard affair. Since 2003 he has recorded several more albums, and I have no doubt they’ve each been unique and that he’s continued to experiment and evolve.

Andy Bey and the Bey Sisters

cadilliac margarita   4/23/2019   A Library, CD, Jazz

Broad collection of standards from The Bey Siblings of Newark, NJ— recorded between 1964-1965. Their voices are deep and rich, and blend together like smooth cream. Andy is also a self-taught pianist, while his sisters Salome and Geraldine vocalize and harmonize. Together they pay homage to some of their greatest musical influences. Pop, Jazz, Blues, Gospel. They touch on several vocal styles…most are slow burners, but there are few upbeat bangers in the bunch.                                             <3!!! Caddy 

Eddie Russ – Fresh Out

cadilliac margarita   4/23/2019   A Library, CD, Jazz


Here is Eddie Russ on funky electric piano, accompanied by smooth sax, electric guitar, percussion, flute, and strings. He played with many jazz greats including Sarah Vaughn, Stan Getz, and Dizzy. Recorded in Detroit in March 1974, this has that cool 70s loungey jazz vibe in spades. Mellow grooves. Very pleasant.                                     <3!!! Caddy

JFK – “Weapon Design” – [Fourth Dimension Records]

Lord Gravestench   4/20/2019   12-inch, A Library

Ani DiFranco — er, sorry, ANTHONY DiFranco — is a current member of Ramleh and former member of Skullflower. You will also find a few albums in KFJC’s library that he recorded for the Freek label under the sobriquet AX. JFK is another solo project, working in a broadly Industrial mode. He seems to have first recorded under this name in the late 80s for Ramleh’s Broken Flag label, resuming operations a few years ago following a lengthy hiatus. The tracks on this 2018 LP could be lazily segregated into Industrial Techno and Death Industrial (although, despite having done a split with The Grey Wolves, I’m sure DiFranco would scoff at the latter designation). 

The tracks I’m arbitrarily dubbing (pun intended) the Techno tracks are vaguely similar to Hospital Productions artists such as Vatican Shadow and Ron Morelli, but with focus shifted from atmosphere to listener alienation. Perhaps Hands Records mainstay Winterkalte would be a better reference. Comprising A2, A3, A4, B1 and B3, the beats account for the majority of the material here. A2, B1 and B3 are built around stuttering, off-kilter drum machine rushes and sound not unlike Footwork made by zombies, while A3 flirts with Dub Techno. A4 unnervingly goes full four-on-the-floor, definitely danceable but also definitely soulless, like Daft Punk’s ‘Robot Rock’ following attack by a serotonin vampire. It would spin better in the control room of a CIA drone base than on the dancefloor of a nightclub.

A1, B2 and B4 are in more familiar (to me) Rhythmic Noise territory, rich in a sense of imminent doom. I was reminded of Deutsch Nepal and, specificially on B2, the fetishistic sequencer sound of Britain’s Iron Fist Of The Sun (a project actually not unknown to dip into Dub-inspired frequencies itself). The sonic pallette is consistently experimental across the whole album, though, and my rubric for thus partitioning it is largely tempo. It’s all dark shit, but it goes down fairly easily for all that. I suspect this one will have wide appeal among KFJC DJs.

Striations – “Collection 1” – [Oxen]

Lord Gravestench   4/19/2019   A Library, CD

Striations, active in the underground Noise scene for nearly a decade, is Oakland’s Mike Finklea. He has performed twice on KFJC, on one of those occasions hosted by yours truly. This 2019 CD on LA’s Oxen label compiles two cassette releases: 2018’s ‘Trauma Code,’ originally on the Gutter Bloat label, and ‘K.P.’ (‘Killer’s Party’) his 2017 effort for Oxen. In the liner notes, Finklea writes that these recordings are “of an exploratory nature,” significant because his usual M.O. involves obsessive control over the structured chaos of memorised compositons. This is indeed more free-form and improvisatory in sound than other works, conforming more to the Harsh Noise stylings of artists like Macronympha and K2. That said, these pieces are at least more Power Electronics than Harsh Noise in that they focus on sustained tension rather than sludgy textural fetishism. “None of this material is what I WANT Striations to sound like.” The liner also includes special thanks “to all hazmat and first responders.”

‘Trauma Code’ (t.s 1+2), mastered by Miscreant’s Sam Torres, is inspired by car accidents. Each 25-minute track passes through balanced phases of relative restraint and full-blown sonic assault. Baleful low-end drones, abject metal-scraping, earsplitting feedback. T.1 begins with synth piece possibly sampled from the score of a 70s or 80s film. Later there’s a sample of a medical examiner calling for the clearing of highway shoulders to reduce crash fatalities. It’s a public health problem, she says. I certainly found myself driving more carefully when playing this in my car. T.2 continues the exploration of scrap metal, hissing static and uncomfortably high frequencies. There is a ‘Red Asphalt’-like sample from a crash scene where it sounds like some girls are trapped in a burning car. In a possible pun on “auto fatality,” the second sample on this side is another medical examiner(?) discussing the most extreme/unusual suicide cases he’s encountered. “Someone who takes on a speeding locomotive at 70MPH is not one of those people you’d expect to be calling for help.“  According to the artist, second and third instalments in the ‘Trauma Code’ series are in the works.

‘K.P.’ (t.s 3+4), recorded by M. Chami (Crown of Cerberus, Koufar), concerns the death of Junko Furuta, whose 1989 murder at the hands of 4 Yakuza-connected classmates scandalized Japan. Imprisoned for 40 days, she was raped hundreds of times and tortured until unrecognisable before finally dying of her extensive injuries. Close to 100 people had knowledge of her imprisonment, but due either to complicity or fear of retribution, none reported it to police. Her body was eventually discovered encased in concrete. Although perhaps more synth-driven, both of these 15-minute pieces continue in an aesthetic vein similar to ‘Trauma Code’: nonlinear, screeching, throbbing electronic/concrete noise. Maybe some distorted vocals. No samples on these ones, but plenty of implicit violence all the same.

‘Collection 1’ is a ghoulish encounter with the biological truth of death, up close and personal. Hear, see, feel, smell, taste the end.

Cilia, Martin – “Espresso Martino” – [Bombora Creative]

Devlyn   4/17/2019   A Library, CD

Stripped down, Australian surf. All but one track features a lead guitar, a drum, and a quiet bass. Track 2 “The Rise and Fall of Flingle Bunt” adds an organ to the mix.

The album provides songs of every tempo: “Walking in Sand” is a spooky zombie shuffle. “Telstar” is a cowboy-movie-worthy ditty with horsey trotting drumbeats. “The Worm” is a brisk walk. “Mermaid Beach” features a dreamy melody worthy of luring sailors to their deaths. “Surfability” is all jangly freneticism.

Most of the songs (1,3,5,6,7,9) are originals. Tracks 4 and 8 are reworks of familiar instrumental hits from the early 60s. 

What makes this Australian surf rather than American surf? One-a name like “Flingle Bunt” rarely shows up in American surf and Two-the water goes down the drain backwards. 

Track Listing: 

Return of the Surf Guitar 2:29The Rise & Fall of Flingle Bunt (featuring Mental As Anything) 2:38Surfabilly 2:32Sleep Walk 4:17The Worm 3:16Walking in Sand 3:43Makua Beach 4:10Telstar 3:03Albatross 3:14Mermaid Beach 2:08

Headroom – “Head In The Clouds” – [Trouble In Mind]

atavist   4/17/2019   12-inch, A Library

Five beautiful psych jams are provided here as your spaced-out bliss soundtrack. There’s nothing too complex or fussy here to interrupt the vibe. Track one, “How to Grow Evil Flowers”, establishes a hypnotic bass line and superimposes a guitar out on a journey. One can imagine a walk in the clouds. T2, “Millers Pond”, adds some very washed-out vocals. T3, “The Second Blazing Star”, returns to an instrumental format, and again, the rhythm section establishes a structure that allows the guitar to take a ramble in the woods. T4, the title track, gets into some synthy territory, with sustained synth drones and maxed-out guitar textures. T5, “Flower of Light”, closes the record out like a wistful, sun-drenched afternoon. This record will feel at home on playlists steeped in Carlton Melton and Bardo Pond, but you might as well play it up and down the schedule.

Deadbeat and Camara – “Trinity Thirty” – [Constellation]

Louie Caliente   4/16/2019   A Library, CD

Deadbeat (Scott Monteith) and Fatima Camara are Canadian electronic musicians now living in Berlin. Here, the duo have taken on the almost scarily ambitious project of re-envisioning one of the most iconic albums of all time: Cowboy Junkies The Trinity Sessions.

2 years in the making, and released 30 years after the original, Trinity Thirty strips down the already-sparse sound to the bare bones, and the song’s tempos are slowed almost to the breaking point. Wistful ethereal vocals hover over minimal dubby beats and tranquilizing synth drones. The mood is somber and even haunting at times.

The Trinity Sessions was famously recorded around a single microphone in inside Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity, which gave the album a unique sense of space and acoustics. Trinity Thirty, recorded at Berlin’s Studio Chez Cherie, similarly emphasizes wide open spaces, solitude, and emptiness, moods further enhanced by the mastering work of Stefan Betke (aka Pole).

Sissy Spacek – “Pitched Intervention” – [Helicopter]

lexi glass   4/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

For 20 years, Sissy Spacek, the LA duo of Charlie Mumma and John Wiese, have churned out excellent noise that runs the gamut from gut-wrenching drums/guitar/growl grindcore to harsh electronic assaults to abstract concrète. The sounds on this 2019 LP fall on the latter end of this spectrum, with recordings of three recent live performances of tape music in collaboration with some heavy hitters from the LA experimental scene. On “Puzzle Performance” (A1), they’re joined by Don Bolles (of The Germs) on turntables and Mitchell Brown (aka Professor Cantaloupe) on synths and tape machine. A glowing sea of sound, with recorded snippets bobbing up to the surface – broadcasts from radio shows from the past or croaked alien language from transmissions from the future – and rough static eroding the edges. “Council-Manager” (A3), with assistance from Brown and LAFMS’s Joseph Hammer working the tapes, begins with quiet rustling; soon smooth jazz and feel-good folk are whipped into a nauseating nightmare. The B side is a sidelong track called “Glossolalia” (B1), named for Bolles’ excellent Monday night radio program on KXLU, one of the few you’ll be forgiven for cheating on KFJC to tune into. The demolition crew – including Brown and Bolles – gets to work, with crashing metal, concrete and glass. Strange melodies from a processed piano rise from the ruins; later, the familiar sounds of Wiese’s growling vocals and Mumma’s drumming that rolls to a boil, set the stage for the clipped classic rock finale.

Houser, Dylan – “Dismal King / Dreary” – [Self-released]

Louie Caliente   4/15/2019   A Library, CD

Guitar and found-sound oddness from Floridian Dylan Houser. It’s a two-EPs-in-one-CD kinda thing, combining recordings from late 2018 and 2019, all recorded and released directly by the artist.

Dismal King is spontaneous solo guitar compositions, looped and layered. Lo-fi but not too soupy, and with just enough distortion to take the edge off. A wide range of styles and moods on display, starting with the introspective and melancholy “Spring Vein” (T1). Things quickly ramp up to the propulsive “Dismal King” (T2) and the positively shredding “Locust Driver” (T3). We mellow out a bit (just a bit) with the psychedelic “Molting Riviera” (T4) and wrap up with an extended crunchy synth noise jam on “Tinker Galute” (T5), the only non-guitar piece on the EP.

Dreary is harder to categorize. It begins with “Lungform Deth Radio” (T6) a schizophrenic field recording collage featuring spoken word and the sounds of proper dental hygiene. The following track “Sarcophagus in Orbit” (T7) is more spaced-out improvised guitar work. The last three songs are rich synth drones with varying amounts of noise (T8, T10) and cheese (T9).

Joni Void – "Mise En Abyme" – [Constellation]

humana   4/11/2019   A Library, CD

Joni Void (aka Jean Cousin) has served up a gem here, which he refers to as “a time travel experiment, emotional processing, abstracted narrative, for voice, tone & beats.” Samples (Boards of Canada on 12), vocals, phone sounds (6), camera sounds that create beats (8), and even snippets from his parents’ wedding reception (1) all create the sense of infinity implied by the album title: “a copy of an image within itself, a story within a story; without beginning or end.” Enjoy.

Morgen Wurde – "Assassinous Act" – [Time Released Sound]

humana   4/10/2019   A Library, CD

The CD cover calls this release “a soundtrack for a fictitious crime film.” True to its word, everything, from the track titles to the music to the cover design with fingerprints and mug shots, is in keeping with the crime theme. Most of the tracks, especially the first half, contain instrumental electronic ambience that is sinister and unsettling, just as you’d expect the soundtrack to an assassinous act to be. Joining the violins toward the end are ethereal vocalizations, especially on 11, and 12 has voices that sound like they’re taken from a trial. This is unique and haunting. Try it.

Frost, Robert- “Reads His Poetry” – [Caedmon]

mickeyslim   4/10/2019   12-inch, A Library

This Caedmon Records release of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, Robert Frost (1874-1963), was made in 1956 “at Robert Frost’s home in Cambridge, where ebullient spirits, rural quiet and a feeling that this was to be the definitive Frost recording influenced the fine vitality of this reading.”

Some of his finest work, “The Road Not Taken,” “Death of a Hired Man,” and “After Apple-Picking,” among many others. Lay it down.

Wallace, Eli – “Barriers” – [Eschatology Records]

mickeyslim   4/10/2019   A Library, CD

“Barriers” is the moment you tip into sleep,
a thumbtack fallen pin-side-down
onto the hardwood floor,
a soft tap into a shallow
murky
puddle.

Recorded live in 2018, Eli Wallace’s solo piano work finds the cracks in the piano you didn’t know were there. Thunderous wisps and lukewarm fogs. Where to begin?

Mercure, Michele – “Eye Chant” – [Freedom to Spend]

lexi glass   4/9/2019   12-inch, A Library

Composer and synth musician Michele Mercure developed her sound through the 1980s in Pennsylvania, releasing the results on a handful of traded cassettes (under her married name Michele Musser) and on this sole 1986 LP, recently rereleased in 2017 by the RVNG sub-label Freedom to Spend. At first, Eye Chant seems deceptively accessible – with “Tour de France (Day 2)” (T1), that sounds like an extra stage of the Kraftwerk single, and the new-agey “In the Air” (T2) – but then, the album dives into the murky depths. A meditative mood – of drumming, flute, birds’ calls and wolves’ howls – is suddenly, violently shattered in “The Intruder” (T3). That shock launches directly into “100% Bridal Illusion” (T4), a nightmarish synth piece collaged with fragments of uncomfortable conversations with your relatives and the screams of their whining kids, that is altogether a hilariously accurate expression of all of the anxieties I have about marriage. Mercure’s processed vocals are layered to build “Eye Chant” (T5), and “Dream Clock” (T6) ticks over unusual melodies before arriving at the truly bizarre “Proteus and the Marlin” (T7), a tale of a woman who develops a lifelong psychosexual bond with a stuffed fish after her boyfriend jumps off the Golden Gate bridge. “Too Much” (T7) returns us to the surface with spare funk guitar riffs and downbeat dance rhythms.

Morher – “Rabbit Holes (and Other Exits)”- [Self-released]

atavist   4/3/2019   A Library, Cassette

Some of the KFJC staff will remember Morher from last summer, when “Sympathy for the Creator” was in current. This album was released one year later after “Sympathy…”, and offers the listener six tracks of rich, haunting, atmospheric tones, punctuated at times by echoing percussive elements, and anchored by ethereal vocals that rise and fall in volume from the surrounding soundscape, or are sampled and reassembled in new configurations. Each track is in the range of ten minutes, whereas the tracks on “Sympathy…” were generally longer. The tone is a bit darker than the previous effort. A current of anxiety and foreboding runs through the piece, and the sounds are produced with a compelling mix of clarity and distortion/obscurity.

Ero Guro – “Ero Guro” – [Wolfsblood Records]

lexi glass   4/3/2019   A Library, CD

One moment stands out from the first time I saw Tom Weeks perform: halfway through the set, he lifted his saxophone away from his lips, flipped it over, buried his face and tongue into the bell’s opening, and played it from the inside out. While I’m not sure he uses this exact technique, that same raw, physical energy is in full force on this 2015 self-titled release from Weeks’ ensemble Ero Guro. Named for the Japanese art movement of the erotic and the grotesque, the quartet features Weeks on alto sax, Mike Srouji on electric bass, and two drummers, Robbie Pruett and Patrick Talesfore. Over four wild compositions, they stagger from free jazz freakouts to rock grooves to doom metal depths to funky breakdowns – sometimes all over the course of a single track, as in the sprawling “Tentacle Apocalypse” (T2). Soaring themes descend a spiral staircase bassline into total chaos (T4), rhythmic intensity builds over quick sax/bass triplets (T5). Between the movements is a dreamy “Interlude” (T3), a hentai deathfuck fantasy. Ero Guro (and their follow-up 2017 cassette Blood of the Wolf we recently added) offers nonstop, killer extreme music, so dive in face-first.

Tsembla – “The Hole In The Landscape” – [NNA]

Phil Phactor   4/3/2019   12-inch, A Library

Tsembla is one Marja Ahti, a Swedish Finn (or Finnish Swede). She makes the synthetic sound real and the real sound surreal. On the opener Gravitating Bones, moody subterranean drones suddenly give way to bright, emotive chords, and that’s only the first of about 237 curveballs coming your way on this album. Once you get over your fear of getting lost, you’ll be able to enjoy the ride. The warped post-dub of Splash Erosion (A2) evokes the sound of several alarm clocks going off at once, but in a good way. Penumbra (A3) explores some questionable traditions before moving into a Broadcast vibe (there’s them curveballs again). On the flip, Instant Granite (B1) gives me some severe Mouse on Mars flashbacks, with its slippery, squiggly percussion. Closer Desert Lake starts with a choir of meowing cats and disintegrates from there. Always melancholy and yet strangely soothing, this is the rainy day album of an alien civilization.

Davis / Frith / Greenlief – “Lantskap Logic” – [Clean Feed]

Phil Phactor   3/27/2019   A Library, CD

Two telepathic long-form improvisations courtesy of Evelyn Davis on pipe organ, Fred Frith on electric guitar, and Phillip Greenlief on alto and tenor saxophones. Davis previously played organ as part of the tragically short-lived Drone Church, alongside Crystal Pascucci and Kimberly Sutton on amplified cellos. There are drones here too, but rather than stasis, the feeling is one of constant struggle, between the tethers of tonality and the dark depths beyond. Recorded in the Mills College chapel, this is a beautiful record, but not an easy one. Deep, deep listening.

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