Music Reviews

Yevtushenko, Yevgeny – “In Readings From His New York and San Francisco Concerts” – [Columbia]

whngr   3/22/2021   12-inch, A Library

Readings in English and Russian by acclaimed poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko with friends on both American coasts ca. 1972.

Exploring themes like the Vietnam conflict and genocide, Yevtushenko was criticized by fellow Russian poets for working with the Communist Party.; allowed to travel extensively during the Cold War and often critical of the West, Yevtushenko was able to forge new ground, delivering passionate, compelling, and rousing performances while casting dispersion. Though the topics are well tread in 2021 and can feel a bit trite at times, they are nonetheless, valid criticisms of some of humanity’s darkest days. However, the performances by all parties are what makes this recording engaging. The meter, and projection is fierce, words as weapons with lashing tongues rolling ‘r’s like vitriolic peals of thunder… barring Allen Ginsberg who really seems to struggle with the emotional depth of the suffering conveyed by all the other performers… including the heckler on Babi Yar (B3) whom Yevgeny shuts down just prior to his performance, eliciting a round of applause from the audience, who I gather were communist sympathizers and anti-empirical yet far too soft and weakened by capitalism to survive in Mother Russia… besides their political radicalism was merely a phase and they probably became a bit complacent after profiting greatly through their early investment in Apple™.

Yevtushenko passed in April 2017 at the age of 83, a resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Rotting Sky – “Sedation” – [Black Horizons]

whngr   3/19/2021   12-inch, A Library

Fervent Obliteration Ritual

Devastating Harsh Noise/Black Metal. 

Abrasive yet ethereal. 

Sullen and fierce.

 Remote, impervious, and elusive though personal and uncomfortably intimate.

Throbbing. Peeling. Clawing. Bleeding. Crying. 

Cold and implacable.

Miserable yet divine.

A colorless crawl through a gauntlet of polar extremes.

It is likely that this is not for you. Put the record down and walk away.

Forget you crossed paths with this horrifying monument to pain.

That was close. A narrow escape. But you’ll carry on… for a while anyway.

Rotting Sky is one Tim Messing of Portland Oregon and guitarist of the now defunct Nux Vomica. 

Obscurae – “To Walk The Path of Shadows” – [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]

whngr   3/19/2021   A Library, Cassette

Created with GIMP

Grandiose Valorous Upheaval 

Crushing Black Metal with Atmospheric, haunting washes of synthesizer. Basically full-on annihilation ’til the final track, a somber organ wheezing into the night with gentle pulses of texture.
Obscurae is one Chad Davis (Hour of 13, Jenzeits, Subklinik) of Richmond, Virginia of with support from cohort Matt Davis (no relation).

weiss, ruth – “We Are Sparks In The Universe to Our Own Fire” – [Edgetone Records]

mickeyslim   3/17/2021   A Library, CD

Absolutely amazing record off Rent Romus’ Edgetone Record label released last year after the passing of word shaman and beat poet goddess ruth weiss. In the late 1940s Chicago, weiss was one of the first to recite her poetry to jazz music, a tradition she brought with her when she moved to San Francisco. This inspired the then-unknown “beat” generation writers to do the same. Although she was incredibly inspirational, she (quite sadly) never gained the notoriety she deserved (Ferlinghetti himself at one point even refused to publish her b/c she was a woman). Despite the discrimination she faced throughout her career, weiss’ dedication to her craft remained unwavering.

This release is 9 poems performed in two sets. The first with Doug Lynner on synth and Hal Davis on the wooden log, and the second with Rent Romus on saxes and flutes, Doug O’Conner on double bass, with Hal David returning on the wooden log. As natural as her voice sounds to the more traditional jazz music sounds, I am drawn to her voice contrasted with the electronic/log music, at least for this record. Because she was getting up there in age, her voice has a very jazzy/smoky quality that was very obviously her instrument, and her handle of it is pure art.

There will never be another poet quite like ruth weiss.

Fuse Ensemble – "Nimbus" – [Neuma]

aarbor   3/17/2021   A Library, CD

The Fuse Ensemble is a concept-based new music/new media performing ensemble. Each season a concept is presented, giving voice to new music composers and creating musical happenings with visual elements of live, interactive video and/or kinetic installations. Nimbus is a collaboration between composer Gina Biver and poet Colette Inez. It is a set of 7 miniatures for electro-acoustic chamber ensemble, spoken word and soprano. Colette was the lovechild of a Roman atholic priest and a young French scholar assigned to assist him. Colette was abandoned by her parents and here she contemplates her parents’ hidden affair: forbidden sex, lust and religion shared in unapologetic poems, with music and ambient sounds. Arbor

Berk, Ernest – "Electronic Music For Two Ballets" – [Trunk Records]

aarbor   3/17/2021   12-inch, A Library

Ernest Berk was born in Cologne, Germany. He was known as a pioneering ballet dancer, teacher and electronic music artist. He went to England and started a dance company there. This album is consists of the scores for 2 of his ballets: Initiation and Gemini. Initiation is about “modern youth’ and its ritualistic behavior, being “initiated” in order to belong. Gemini is about a young man falling in love with identical twin sisters. Forget that these are ballets. This music can be used for many other purposes and will appeal to a broad audience. Berk created an electronic sound suited to his experimental dance style – it is abstract and great listening. Towards the end of his life Berk gifted his entire collection of work to the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne – most of which was destroyed during the construction of an underground railway. These 2 recordings come from an original which the family had. AArbor

William St. Hugh – “Luciferian, The” – [Self Released]

whngr   3/16/2021   A Library, CD

Lovely and somber orchestral movements from this mysterious project out of Fairhaven Massachusetts. Primarily string compositions with sparse accompaniment from timpani, cymbal, and flute (I suspect all instruments are synthesized) that evoke a lonely and perhaps haunted soul’s journey towards damnation.

Though this album is neither exceptional nor ground breaking it does feel very personal and it is easy to imagine the artist pouring themselves into this release with zealous abandon. Though slightly lacking in emotion, it can feel rather cold and intellectual at times or perhaps even dead inside, not unlike a sociopath trying to connect with the strange emotive interactions they sometimes encounter so they might mimic, mirror, and emulate to gain their deepest of desires; the imagined power over others.

William St. Hugh – “Terra Former” – [Self Release]

lexi glass   3/16/2021   A Library, CD

William St. Hugh is the experimental classical project of a mysterious composer from Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Several of his previous releases, including Saturnus and The Luciferian can be found in our library. Terra Former continues in the vein of these albums, creating dark, dreamlike atmospheres with synthetic orchestral arrangements and electronic sounds, from the rush of sweeping strings on “Cascade” (T2), the abstract skittering rhythms on “Blinking Drops” (T3), the ethereal ambience of “Transformed” (T6), and the early spring shadows of “Flowers Fall” (T10). The album concludes with the ominous drone of “Dust Queen” (T13). Self-released by the artist in 2020.

Sula Bassana – “Shipwrecked” – [Sulatron Records]

SlartiBartfast   3/15/2021   12-inch, A Library

Psychedelic, electronic, krautrock from Germany’s own Dave Schmidt (AKA Sula Bassana). From uptempo, hard diving compositions to more mellow ambient tunes this 2016 solo release “Shipwrecked” is sure to please your ear drums and your mind. Recorded using vintage synthesizers,  organs, drum boxes, and guitar in Sula’s “Amoebeklangraum”, or little sound room as Clemens Mitscher describes it, this Sulatron Records release will keep your head bobbing and your mind throbbing with pleasure as you enjoy some thoroughly out of this world kosmische musik. 

Max de Wardener – “Music For Detuned Pianos” – [Village Green]

Max Level   3/14/2021   12-inch, A Library

Composer de Wardener’s pieces written for pianos modified with various ‘non-standard’ tuning systems. If you enjoy the unusual instrument tuning concepts of composers such as Harry Partch and LaMonte Young, then you will no doubt appreciate what’s going on here. I’m just a dumb bass player so I can’t tell you much about tunings such as “seven-limit just intonation” or “overtones from three interlocking harmonic series” but I can say the music they produce is pleasantly otherworldly. I do wonder why four pieces played in standard piano tuning are included–the liner notes say it’s “to provide a familiar perspective” but one track like that would have been plenty. I’m here for the modified tuning stuff. Pieces performed by pianist Kit Downes.

Jeanrenaud, Joan – "Metamorphosis" – [New Albion Records, Inc]

humana   3/14/2021   A Library, CD

Cello lovers are in for a genuine treat with this first release of music played by Jeanrenaud after gracing Kronos Quartet for 20 years with her cello. Called “metamorphosis” to symbolize the change of path in her career, the pieces are contemporary pleasures mixed with that ineffable quality that only a cello can bring to music. So, whether you are listening to the comfortingly familiar-sounding Metamorphosis Four by Philip Glass (which was written as soundtrack for a play based on a story by Kafka) or the Jeanrenaud composition Altar Piece that contains the rather unsettling sound that goes right along with viewing Day of the Dead altars that inspired Jeanrenaud, you will see how successfully she is in transitioning to a solo path. The loops of herself on cello layer the music, enriching it with her estimable experiences.

Bipolar Explorer/Of Love and Loss

carsonstreet   3/11/2021   A Library, CD

NYC based dreampop trio of Summer Serafin, Michael Serafin-Wells & Sylvia Solanas.  Of Love and Loss is both a testament and tribute to their fallen bandmate Summer Serafin who died tragically after an accidental fall. “Great, beautiful, drifty-pop filled with sadness & wonder” – WFMU. “Epic & affecting” – Surface Noise.” “The most significantly stirring & addictive musical accomplishment we’ve come across in some time. Altogether haunting” – Ground Control”. The lyrics are very moving and the music just keeps running through your mind.

Glenn Jones/The Giant Who Ate Himself and Other New Works for 6 & 12 String Guitar

carsonstreet   3/11/2021   A Library, CD

Former Cul de Sac leader Glenn Jones gives us ten American Primitive originals on The Giant Who Ate Himself and Other New Works for 6 & 12 String Guitar. KFJC broadcast the Thousand Incarnations of the Rose Festival of American Primitive Guitar which mostly featured finger picking solo guitarists performing their own incarnations of a sound pioneered by John Fahey more than five decades ago. Glenn played at the festival. When Glenn plays twelve-string guitar it is actually a ten-string guitar as Jones removes two thin strings.

Cobra Thief /Animal Oxygen

carsonstreet   3/11/2021   12-inch, A Library

Cobra Thief/Animal Oxygen

Cobra Thief says of themselves on bandcamp: Cobra Thief is a perfect mix of Kyuss, Soundgarden and Mountain. Deep, spaced out Rock’N’Roll since 2017. They are often described as Desert Rock. Their sound floats along the dividing line between heavy psych and stoner rock in a way that is unique. Very cool stuff.

Thoabath – “Drown” – [Neural Operations]

lexi glass   3/10/2021   A Library, CD

Thoabath is the solo project of Oakland’s A.C. Way (of several Bay Area groups, including Sutekh Hexen, Maleficia, Carrion and French Radio). Over the past five years, his work under this name has grown into a truly strange beast, a singular synthesis of death industrial rhythms, occult incantations, black metal, and blistering noise (see his 2018 cassette here). Created and recorded during the 2020 lockdown, his ninth release Drown magnifies these sounds over four massive tracks that together feel like a pure distillation of the inescapable dread that defined this miserable year. Anxious high pitched blasts, decayed noise, blaring emergency alarms, and howling voices all seethe within the dense rush of sound. In the third track, a lone synth figure meanders beneath the crushing storm, an image of isolation amid the chaos. Revisit this record to remember how it all felt, to sink to unthinkable depths, to struggle for a breath of air. Released on MK9’s label Neural Operations, with beautiful illustrations by local artist Bryan Proteau.

Afrirampo – “A'” – [Very Friendly]

mickeyslim   3/9/2021   A Library, CD

I don’t even know where to begin with this. If girls just want to have fun, these ones just want to as they watch the world burn. Afrirampo is Oni on guitar and Pikachu on drums, both of them providing screeching, yelping vocals. This is japanoisepunkpsychelectronic at its absolute finest. This will make you want to move. And whether that means dancing wildly, solo-moshing, head banging, taking shots and breaking bricks, or pillow fighting, you will inevitably find yourself at your wits end, beat and broken, asking for more. 

Happy trails!

Moran, Robert – “Buddha Goes to Bayreuth” – [Neuma]

whngr   3/8/2021   A Library, CD

Demi-Sepharic Surrealist Ambiance

Sullen soprano, worrying strings, pensive operatic choral harmonies, and quiet pensive passages. Part I being the slightly more varied, powerful, and sanguine while Part II is a brooding and potentially heretical longform operatic elegy allowing the listener to float in a tepid bath of ruminative despair amid beautiful swells of cello. However, these are not single faceted affairs, many moods and emotions are conveyed on both tracks and probably have deeply considered narrative though the language being used is not one that this miserable volunteer recognizes.

Curling plumes of censure smoke before a backdrop of scorched earth. Framed by angelic minstrels with blood dripping from their sullen eyes, the Christ-child loosely wrapped in soot colored swaddling clothes yawns lethargically, unmoved by the suffering of humanity. 

Robert Moran is a prolific composer of opera, ballet, and accompaniments to theater. Based in Philadelphia, he has worked previously with many notable composers including P. Glass and has stated in interviews that he sometimes aims to offend, once writing an opera that contained a scene where Richard Wagner would be sodomized by a heaving pantheon of Hindu gods and even expressed glee in imagining his cohort’s discomfort and hesitancy in moving forward. Though not shying from controversy, he clearly takes his music very seriously, producing finely crafted compositions that seem to improve with repeated listens. “Buddha goes to Bayreuth” sounds full and complete however, it also pairs well with other minimalistic audio and is, dare I say, rife for superimposition.

Boy Dirt Car – “Familia”- [After Music Recordings]

whngr   3/8/2021   12-inch, A Library

 Fractured Dada with Resonance.
Mid weight noise, subverted rock, confrontational tirade, drone, monkey screeches, feedback and malevolent psychedelia. Defies description but could potentially be an aural analog of the brown acid of upstate New York circa 1969.
While preparing this album for our MP3 database I found that I was having a hell of a time finding any delineation between tracks, listening repeatedly until I felt a lurch and madness began to creep through my mind in the shape of a fractal of oxidizing steel leaning in to the sky on a cold winter’s afternoon. Exploring the hive mind I discovered track lengths from multiple sources, none of which corresponded with my increasingly worrisome recording. I searched harder and decided the speed must have been wrong on my turntable so cutting corners I began to stretch the track lengths warping the sound but it still wasn’t quite matching up with Spitify. I decided to pan my recording all the way to the left and listen to it on brandcamp to see where they diverged but still they only seemed to be in sync momentarily before I became lost in the echoing swarm of voices and irregular percussion. I panned all the way to the right but the only thing I could truly discern was that I was no longer tethered to my faculties as I felt reality become diaphanous and I slipped further into my confusion. I began to hear something or someone breaking into our house or perhaps raccoons had penetrated the walls… I threw down the headphones. What was that sound? I descended the stairs while surrounded by an unfamiliar noise, lunacy, and an unremitting need to discover the source. I threw open the front door and was met by an impromptu storm; huge globs of water striking the earth and the awnings accompanied by moderate wind and the return to my senses. Back in my room I decided to take a new tack. What could the record tell me visually? I found that where I had intuited the end of the tracks and the beginning of the next were totally in line with a minor interruption in the grooves and that the track titles did not correspond with the streaming sites online; this album was not the same as the one online. Clarity and insight followed, I had something analog and different from what was readily available to the masses and it was a puzzle, one that had pushed me into the gaping maw of madness before being solved partly due to an atmospheric shift and a seemingly random coincidence of procyonic sounding reverberations and upon reflection; this was an appropriate introduction to Boy Dirt Car, one the group I’m sure, would appreciate.
Formed in Chicago in 1981 by Darren Brown and Eric Lunde. They were soon joined by Keith Brammer and Dan Kubinski of Die Kreuzen,  building an avid and devoted following before crumbling in 1989. They were rebuilt sans E. Lunde in 2001.

Hissing – “Permanent Destitution” – [Profound Lore Records]

whngr   3/8/2021   12-inch, A Library

Frantic, demented Death Metal from Seattle Washington.

Grinding gloom with sparse, uncomfortable, perverse mathematics. 

Anger, hurt, toil, apathy.

 Furious guitar, drums, and bass with guttural bellows and sparse noisy abstraction.

Numbness, intellect, drudgery, despair.

Not quite lo-fi with attack, vision, and a deranged masochistic bent.

“The miasma of the human hive in the city we live in. Rather than active human malice and cruelty, I think we’re more interested in the dull violence of tedium, the slow corrosive way that modern life saps your passion and vitality day by day and we let it happen.” -Z. Wise of Hissig

Copyright © 2021 KFJC 89.7 FM
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
Public Inspection File