KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Bunuel – “Killers Like Us” – [Profound Lore]

Terra Incognita   5/21/2022   A Library, CD

This one’s a bruiser. You can see it coming at you in slow motion, but you hesitate anyway, stunned—and then you receive the energy of the impact. You feel the thudding in your head and hear an intermittent buzzing. The swelling begins, pounding and growing, turning an angry red. The red eventually cools to blue and yellowish green. A dull ache remains. You’re left feeling disconcerted, wondering, “What happens that a good man turns bad?”

“Killers Like Us” is Bunuel’s third and most recent album (2022). This is bass-heavy noise rock. Of the 10 tracks, about half have a slow tempo and are heavy and minimal at times (Tracks 1, 5, 7, 9, 10); in these songs, the instrumentation often frames the lyrics. The other tracks are more upbeat, have a fast tempo, or turn into driving rock rampages (Tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 8).

The bass—a menacing, throbbing, dirty beast—is so heavy that it creates a strong gravitational force that the other elements might frantically struggle to escape but are always drawn back to. Bass notes are drawn out and fuzzy but can unexpectedly transform into melodic riffs. The guitar is manifested as fluttery buzzing and distorted scratchy noodling but also develops into melodic, driving riffs on the fast tracks and always with feedback and effects. There aren’t any standard guitar solos—well, maybe one. The drums are versatile: from slow, minimal beats to driving punk rock beats and even some funky beats. They’re heavy on the kick and the snare at times; the fills aren’t over-the-top but creative and nicely placed. Sometimes percussive sounds like tinkling and crumpling are added or simply replace the drums. The lyrics are mostly spoken-yelled, sometimes obstinately dragged out, sometimes half sung in an emotionally drunk tone, sometimes steeped in reverb and effects. The vocals range from despondent speaking to fantastic, guitar-matched screeching and many variations of vocal sound in between. The additional female vocals (Track 4) are melodic and haunting but forceful—an interesting opposition to the raw sound. The lyrics are composed of poetic vignettes, stark imagery, and existential meanderings (see liner notes; FCCs on Tracks 2, 6, 7). Although not mentioned in the liner notes, sounds of synth and possibly field recordings are interjected.

Bunuel, named after the Spanish Surrealist film writer and director of the 20th century, comprises the Italian musician and composer Xabier Iriondo on guitars (also in Afterhours et al.), the Italian jazz bassist and composer Andrea Lombardini (also in the Framers et al.), the Italian percussionist and composer Franz Valente (also in Il Teatro Degli Orrori et al.), and the Bay Area’s Eugene S. Robinson on vocals (also in Oxbow, Whipping Boy, et al.). Track 4 includes additional vocals by the Polish-Bay Area artist Kasia Meow, aka Kasia Robinson (also in Maneki Nekro). A trans-Atlantic collaboration, this album was recorded in San Francisco and Italy, mixed and mastered in Italy, and released by Profound Lore Records out of Canada.

Dogsflesh – “Never Give In” – [Queer Pills Records]

whngr   5/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

Anarcho D-beat Punk

A thumb in the eye socket of Magaret Thatcher, two fingers up the arse of the royals, and a long middle one to the system, these modern times, and yer mum.
Good ol’ rebellion in the vein of Antisect or Icons of Filth with a bit of echo on the vox and a tiny gob of wanking guitar. 

Incepted in 1982 by Rob Moore and sometimes known as UK82, Dogsflesh would tour with GBH, Broken Bones, and The Exploited before hanging it up in 1985… and reforming twenty years later with the bulk of the original line-up. They have gone on to release several more albums since but this one is composed of their early works (82-84).

Oi! This slab is radio friendly, ya cunt! (no FCC’s)

Staubitz and Waterhouse – “Common Metals” – [music is the Worst]

whngr   5/19/2022   A Library, CD

Gentle whirs, clicks, and bumps.

Do you hear what I hear? I hear a pocket call from someone working on the cnc at the machine shop. Quiet, minimal, and reflective, these recordings allow one to write their own story though online references have stated that these mostly unprocessed recordings were made during the pandemic and are meant to convey the monotonous sounds of isolation.

Mary Staubitz (aka Donna Parker on her solo work and has collaborated with Jessica Rylan in Secret Diary and Daniel Paul Boucher in Golden Shores among others. Collaborating with her partner, Russ Waterhouse (ex Blues Control) from their home in Rhode Island.

There Were Wires – “Somnambulists” – [Tor Johnson Records / Iodine Records]

whngr   5/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

A sprawling and intense epic that weaves through the impassioned rage and confusion of youth, around quiet passages that required patience from an audience that was expecting only vehemence, gravid swells, terse punctuation, and arriving finally at an oblique and unexpected shore, a pensive cover of an independent juggernaut. Sonic Youth’s, Tunic (Song For Karen) will surely attract the attention of many listeners as an oddity or a trifle but considerable effort has been put in to this album (both in 2003 and in 2021) that proves this was no novelty. That this polished re-release, the first on vinyl, is a commendable and worthwhile effort to mitigate the failings of a label in financial ruin and one where considerable pains have been taken to inject new life into a recording that feels modern and relevant after 20 years relegated to a shelf. 

There are many paragraphs written and interviews available that explore the band, this release, Iodine’s role in its lack of promotion, and the thoughts and feelings surrounding them for those interested in the history of this primarily unsung project, but let it be said here, in this miserable volunteer’s review, that I might not have given this album a chance in 2003 if I had heard it. I might have said something like, “This new brand of hardcore is too high-minded and erudite for me, I appreciate passion and vision over virtuosity… etcetera”. But I was interested after two songs and hooked by the end of the album… after a single listen. No small feat, being as jaded as I am.

Many of the current DJs may pan side A, favoring the meandering and (slightly) more gentle B side but this is a fully realized album, slightly disparate from the projects of their ilk, with an ebb and flow, passages, and chapters that all work together to create a cohesive tale. A sonic novella and a beautiful, if somewhat dark, snapshot of a bygone era by four young men in their prime and the label that would not let their past transgressions lie.

Karloff, Boris – “Reading Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories and Other Tales” – [Caedmon]

aarbor   5/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

Boris Karloff (whose real name was William Henry Pratt b. 1887), best known for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in the various early Frankenstein movies. Here he is the kindly British story reader of Rudyard Kipling’s well-known JUST SO STORIES. The Kipling stories here are How the Whale Got His Throat, How the Camel Got His Hump and How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin. The B side is an abridged version of Mowgli’s Brothers from THE JUNGLE BOOK. AArbor

Fila Brazillia – “Black Market Gardening” – [Pork Recordings]

aarbor   5/11/2022   A Library, CD

Fila Brazillia is the duo of Dave “Man” Mc Sherry and Steve Cobby based in Kingston Upon Hull, Yorkshire, UK who started recording together in 1990. This album is from 1996 and is among their earliest recordings on the Pork label (also based in Hull). They later started their own label called Twentythree Records. This is classic downtempo from the mid 1990’s. “Snake Ranger”[2] is wavering synths and a chorus of flutes, “Little Dipper”[3] starts off with an old-time piano sample before shifting into something more funky. “Wigs, Bifocals and Nurishment”[6] heads into disco territory. “Xique-Xique”[7] is smooth and sweet. AArbor

Bischoff, John – “Bitplicity” – [Artifact Recordings]

Max Level   5/9/2022   A Library, CD

Electronic composer Bischoff has a sound and approach all his own: It’s all about events—-‘sound’ events disrupting the silence, and ‘silence’ events disrupting the sounds. Random and non-random events occurring. There is often quite a bit of negative space in his compositions, as the performer and his gear decide in real time what moves to make next. Much interaction between man and machine takes place during live performance. Whenever I listen to Bischoff’s work, which I have spent a great deal of time doing over the past 20 years, the feeling I get is controlled unpredictability. This excellent CD contains performances recorded at Mills College in 2020-21, live with no overdubs.

Van-anh Vanessa Vo – “Three-Mountain Pass” – [Innova Recordings]

Cousin Mary   5/9/2022   A Library, CD

Vo is a Vietnamese-American from the Bay Area who is a composer and multi-instrumentalist, specializing in instruments related to traditional Vietnamese music. This album is a treat, giving us a chance to hear such things as the đàn tranh (16-string zither) and the bamboo xylophone T’rung. Selections include Vo’s compositions, a familiar piece by Erik Satie played in an unfamiliar way, and track 4 where she plays with the ever inventive Kronos Quartet. Really lovely and listenable, highly recommended.

Carney, Jeff – “Live Electronic Music” – [Lion Productions]

cinder   5/5/2022   12-inch, A Library

Recorded live in 1989 without any overdubs. Long, ambient slow knob turning and sound shifting electronics. Very much in the vein of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis & Klaus Shulze. Extended notes that intertwine and weave through like stars in light speed. Slithering synths. Sci-Fi soundtracks of the past. Mastered for vinyl by Krautrock musician and sound engineer Eroc.

Kristoff K.Roll and Espitallier, Jean-Michel – “World Is A Blues” – [Mazeto Square]

SlartiBartfast   5/3/2022   A Library, CD

World Is A Blues

“World Is A Blues” is a musical poetic journey into the lives of refugees held in the Calais internment camps put out on Mazeto-Square. This double CD musical journey is guided by Kristoff K. Roll, the French musical duo of Carole Rieussec and J-Kristoff Camps, and poet Jean-Michel Espitallier. The music here ranges between, spoken word, dance, experimental, field recordings, post psyche rock?….As much a work of poetry as it is an experimental performative experience, this beautifully packaged release lives up to the idea behind the emotionally poetic music at it’s core. Featuring multiple guest artists, “World Is A Blues” elegantly coveys the power of the collective human spirit to overcome trauma through creative expression. This release is not to miss. A 100 page poetic musical eulogy that will lead you to a side road to escape the madness, or an avenue to entrer dans la folie…

Schwob, Danielle Eva – “Out of The Tunnel” – [Innova/American Composers]

Cousin Mary   5/2/2022   A Library, CD

Danielle Schwob is the composer, arranger and recording producer for this wonderful set of music. The ensembles vary – a string quartet, trios, duo, and solos. Very lovely sounds, good energy. I think some pieces were used for dance. Remarkable compositions played by virtuoso musicians. A new (to me) modern classical composer to watch.

PGM – Instrumentation noted on back of CD

De Gennaro, Matthew – “Chuang Tzu Motherfucker” – [Soft Abuse]

karma   5/1/2022   12-inch, A Library

Matthew De Gennaro creates mostly instrumental pieces that are complimented by ambient noise. This album, released in 2013, is no exception. On first listen, this is a light, classically inspired album full of major chords and deep symbolism. A few sprinkles of dissonance (what is a B-flat doing in my A major Shangaan Dance?) hint at the deep nature of this album.

This is probably not news to the erudite readers of the KFJC blog, but Chuang Tzu is a major Chinese philosophical work, and (or?) the philosopher who may or may not have created the work. The Chuang Tzu is full of parables, analogies, and stories that illustrate the formal logic, first principles, and teachings of Taoism. The work, similar to this album, is deceptively simple and hides deep, multilayered meaning.

The first track references a parable in the Chuang Tzu (work), where Chuang Tzu (philosopher) dreams he is a butterfly. In the dream, he was so sure that he was a butterfly, but then he woke up and realized he was Chuang Tzu dreaming he was a butterfly. Or is a butterfly dreaming it is Chuang Tzu? As the track starts, the violin feels like a butterfly floating from flower to flower. The harmonics and the drawn out lower (G) string add to the dreamlike, ephemeral qualities of the song. The high pitched violin towards the end and the pauses at the end of each musical phrase make you question: are you the dreamer or the dream?

Pip Proud was a singer-songwriter who seems to be part of the 1960s Australian counterculture, which I am now realizing had to have been a thing. Listening to Pip, I get Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd vibes with a decidedly Australian twist. Pip clearly touched De Gennaro, as the second track starts with upbeat, major guitar chords that grace your ear in the same way that your favorite drink envelops your taste buds. The spoken word part of this song seems to have been recorded in a particularly echoey high-school gymnasium. Other tracks that are tributes includes “Bells for Mompou” (with the chord sequences invented by Catalan composer Federico Mompou) and “Shangaan Dance” (a slowed down version of African dance music).

“Alley Violinist” references a poem by Robert Lax, also described as deceptively simple. The main theme of the poem is the question of whether one should sacrifice personal comfort for others’ happiness. The pausing, sometimes grating violin shows how De Gennaro grapples with finding an answer.

The next few tracks seem to take a break from the parables, but track 6 references the book of Amos in the Bible. Just as one can use a weighted string to determine if a building is level, one can also use their moral compass to stay on the straight and narrow. The low bass viol (I too thought it was a cello) symbolizes the introspection and grounded thinking that is needed when comparing your actions to your plumb line.

I expected to like this album, but not to love it this much. Like the Chuang Tzu, I will be coming back to this album many times to see what new meanings I can glean.

Permanenet Clear Light – “Cosmic Comics” – [Sulatron Records]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   A Library, CD

Permanent Clear Light is often referred to as Finland’s top psychedelic group. Permanent Clear Light released their debut album, Beyond These Things, in 2014 to critical acclaim. Although Permanent Clear Light’s musical roots lie in 60’s psychedelia their sound is strictly contemporary. The trio considers the recording studio their main instrument and their sound is characterized by multi-layered instrumental work and strong melodic vocals. After a creative break, Permanent Clear Light has released its second album, Cosmic Comics, which shows that the band has travelled a long way through the spheres since their debut.

Liquid Sound Comapany – “Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul” – [Liquid Sound Records]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   A Library, CD

Liquid Sound Company is from Arlington, Texas. Formed in 1996 by Solitude Aeturnus guitarist John Perez and Last Chapter drummer Jason Spradlin. The goal: create mind expanding psychedelic sounds for the head! With the nucleus of the band being John Perez & Jason Spradlin the band also includes current members Alan Wise, Mark Cook, and Ron McCain. With a new album in 2021 and live trips in the works, Liquid Sound Company is ready to fly!  Get out your lava lamp and light up the skies, with eastern nods, guitar freak outs and spacey chill out vibes.

Gnod – “La Mort du Sens” – [Rocket Recordings]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   A Library, CD

Gnod are a British rock band from Salford, Greater Manchester, England. Formed in 2006, the band was described in a review of its 2011 release Ingnodwetrust as “a collective from Manchester with an ever-rotating list of members. La Mort Du Sens translates to “The Death Of Meaning” and also reflects its creation. As Paddy Shine of Gnod notes: “I think the title sums it up well because this album was coming together at a time when confusion was king for us all – still is. I think we can all relate to that. This record is a really strange beast because of the big change that happened between mixing and recording”. Started in 2019 the pandemic got in the way and ended up helping form the end product. Paddy continues: “I think the title really does sum up the vibe of ‘What the Fuck’? Maybe we should have called it that!”

Gerycz / Powers / Rolin – “Lamplighter” – [American Dreams Records]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

On Lamplighter, the trio of Cloud Nothings drummer Jayson Gerycz, hammered dulcimer player Jen Powers, and guitarist Matthew J. Rolin come together to whip up a storm of mostly improvised jams that roil with joyful abandon. The group weaves together roots music, free jazz, rock, and drone to create mesmerizing, largely acoustic music that captivates, dazzles, and imparts wonder. Lamplighter is lightning in a bottle – the trio is firing on all cylinders, confident in their skillset and interplay, which makes the improvisational nature of the compositions even more impressive. A little psychy and a lot meditative. Relax and enjoy.

White Manna – “First Welcome” – [Cardinal Fuzz]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

White Manna is a psychedelic/space rock band from California. Fueled by mystic forces hidden behind California’s Redwood Curtain, White Manna has been feeding heads a steady diet of transcendent jams for quite some time. White Manna’s longevity as one of the leaders of the modern psychedelic movement can be attributed to their willingness to introduce new elements to their sonic repertoire. Initially, these moves were subtle, but as the band has moved on through the years, these moves have become much more pronounced. So, here we are with First Welcome, an album that features warbled country leanings, airy blooms of ambience, and occasional hints of a German yesteryear, all implemented into the band’s signature hazy and spacey sound. First Welcome is the eighth full length album from this ever-evolving band. First Welcome is a product of the COVID era, with much of the recording happening in quarantine or while socially distanced. The band’s process relied on communicating via email and sending music files back and forth.

Wet Leg – “Wet Leg” – [Domino]

Sir Cumference   4/24/2022   A Library, CD

Wet Leg are Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, from the Isle of Wight. Last summer they released their first single – Chaise Longue – was a catchy ditty that had me wanting more. The songs deal with all the usual things that 20-somethings deal with: Love, sex, the futility of existence, and the disappointment of adulthood. The whole album is a joy to listen to, but if I had to pick a favorite moment it’s near the end of Ur Mum – you’ll hear what I mean (I don’t want to spoil the surprise) also, there’s a nod to Man Who Sold the World on I Don’t Wanna Go Out.

[COLL] Godspunk Volume Twenty-Three

karma   4/20/2022   A Library

Godspunk is a creation of Pumf records in Blackpool, England. Most of the artists on this 52-track album are from the UK, but there are a few from America and France. This is a delightful album that immerses you in its universe. It starts with a few outlandish tracks. The title track talks about how the Teletubbies never existed. A few songs later, Breathilizor spins a tale about “bean burrito toilet sludge miasma.” The album then features a few songs by UNIT that seem to feature right-wing talking points. Is it punk to watch Fox News? Poe’s Law got to me and I didn’t realize that they were satirizing conservatives by singing about their views in beautiful four-part harmony. 


There is a lot of instrumental music on this album. Much is with traditional instruments, but a lot of songs feature ambient noise such as birds, dogs, and doors. Most of the songs, especially the instrumentals by UNIT, are excellent. However, some of the songs seem to feature mainly distorted speaker feedback. “Memoir of a Horny Abortionist” is so unsettling that Ruth Bader Ginsburg would become pro-life. 


The second CD turns more introspective. The tracks explore issues such as anger, loneliness, and the meaning of life. However, these deep tracks are interspersed by weird instrumentals with titles like “Toxic Cock Syndrome” or a spoken word song about getting spanked by Tom Hanks. There is something on this album for everyone! 

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