KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Cluster Lizard – “Prophecy” – [Prostir Records]

lexi glass   12/19/2018   A Library, CD

Cluster Lizard is the duo of Dmytro Fedorenko and Kateryna Zavoloka. Together, they run the outstanding Ukrainian electronic label Kvitnu, but issue their personal work, including this 2018 album, on their own outlet, Prostir. Fedorenko has described Kvitnu’s sound as “blasting experimental music… explosive, wild and rude, so as not to make it background music,” and that’s just what he and Zavoloka achieve on Prophecy, a maximalist, monstrous sci-fi space odyssey. Each of these six long-form tracks moves through moments of quiet beauty, building intensity, and massive surges of raw energy. The signature Kvitnu dark techno rhythms are here, but they are layered with deep, expansive drones, blistering solar-flare synths, and quaking beats. Beautiful, cosmic sounds at a scale that assures you of your total insignificance in the universe.

New Primals – “Wraith” – [Self-released]

atavist   12/18/2018   A Library, CD

 

This is mathy, angular, high-energy noise rock. Jangly guitar spars with a spazzed-out rhythm section. The vocals stay above the din by sort of shouting, but not screaming. The cd is comprised of six tracks, each coming in right around two minutes or less. It vaguely reminds me of things I was listening to in the early 2000s, like Drive Like Jehu, Decahedron, Dillinger Escape Plan (emphasis on vaguely). Vocals weirdly reminiscent of Polvo. A quick shot of adrenaline to liven up the set.

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – “Worst Utopia Ever” – [BUFMS]

atavist   12/18/2018   A Library, CD

 

This marks the 13th Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble addition to the KFJC library. The weirdness prevails unabated. Twittering, jittery samples. Shimmers, disassembled spoken audio. Coughing amidst an ambient room mic. Layers of spacey synths, tinny fuzz guitar. Track 2 leads off with “Red pubic hair”, so, that might be an FCC. Track 4 almost has a sort of gamelan element. Crashing percussion in upheaval. Irreverent, unstructured experimentalism abounds.

Sordahl, Shanna – “Radiate Don’t Fear The Quietus” – [Full Spectrum Records]

atavist   12/16/2018   A Library, Cassette

 

Oakland-based Shanna Sordahl blends cello with electronics to produce hypnotic soundscapes. Side 1 produces images of clouds moving at dawn, and the skitters and furtive scratches of cities below not yet awake. Sordahl builds her patterns patiently, coaxing a variety of resonances from the cello.  Each side of the cassette has two longer-format tracks with multiple layers and electronics and concludes with a shorter track in which Sordahl plays a solo cello composition. Side 2 begins with the track “Everyday”, and a more electronics-intensive approach. Articulated bumps and thumps tiptoe towards percussion, drones set the stage, and finally, a vocal element emerges. These are compositions for dreaming, but the dreamer may experience something between anxiety and calm, something restful yet on-edge, the liminal space between waking and sleeping.

Orcutt, Bill & Corsano, Chris – “Brace Up” – [Palilalia]

lexi glass   12/11/2018   12-inch, A Library

If you’ve ever listened to any of the work from these two titans of free music, then you already know to heed the title of this album. Drummer Chris Corsano and guitarist Bill Orcutt have been performing together as a duo for years (see here and here), but this 2018 LP is their first studio recording, and it’s just as explosive as you’d expect. Orcutt’s singular sound is on full display. His guitar bursts with in a frenzy of wild patterns, digs into tense repetitive grooves, or, in the album’s most powerful moments, soars in ecstatic anthems. Corsano’s rhythms are the thunder to Orcutt’s lightning. He gives the pieces a heavier rock sound, but without dragging them down – his sharp drumming drafts his counterpart at every hairpin turn. Two brilliant musicians with unreal chemistry – it doesn’t get any better than this.

Being – “Hydrocracker” – [Oxen]

Lord Gravestench   12/7/2018   A Library, Cassette

Active since around 2006, Being is the Harsh Noise project of Dayton, Ohio’s Luke Tandy. The artist’s biblical namesake may have been the wimpiest evangelist, but like just about everything else on LA’s Oxen label, this is texturally rich centi-pedal aural destruction, excellently recorded and produced, and a head-splitter of the first order. Hyperabstractive audio sewage mixed with rusty sawblades in an old clawfoot tub; the radio, perched precariously at the edge, tuned between stations. This material explores a wide range of pitches, to put it mildly. Mr. Tandy likes to ‘hold his high notes,’ if you take my meaning (particularly on that A side track, gee whiz). The two impressive performances on this 2018 tape will satisfy noise fiends and probably confuse everybody else. They may even exceed the comfort level of some who think, based on this review, that they will be able to deal. Side A is live recording, side B is studio, but they sound vice-versa. An admirably singleminded exercise in sonic obscenity, mining the same deep vein as neighboring Pittsburgh’s genre-defining master musicians of Macronympha. There are other artists to whom I could compare the sound, but…

BTW, hydrocracking is apparently a part of the petroleum refining process, “by which the hydrocarbon molecules of petroleum are broken into simpler molecules, as of gasoline or kerosene, by the addition of hydrogen under high pressure and in the presence of a catalyst.” So now you know.

Bang On a Can – “Industry” – [Sony Classical]

humana   12/7/2018   A Library, CD

Cellos, marimbas, woodblocks, oh my! Composers who are classically trained and yet value uptown as well as downtown elements, minimal jazz within structures that allow for musical freedoms galore. This is what Bang On a Can is all about. Julia Wolfe, Louis Andriessen, David Lang, and Michael Gordon are the composers featured on this unique CD that offers the ultimate challenging listen.

Pentagruel – “Nympidia The Court of Faerie” – [Carpe Diem Records]

Naysayer   12/5/2018   A Library, CD

Are Pentagruel playing something that could be coined Doom Classical? If it exists, this is a great example. We are talking about the effects of the St.Barthomew Day’s Massacre of 1572 where tens of thousands were slaughtered. We are talking faeryes and queens, magyck and melancholy. Wait, this could be a new KFJC t-shirt slogan: Faeries and Queens, Magyck and Melancholy. Pantagruel us citterns, gitterns, lutes, flutes and voice to tell the tales of the time, some dark, some darker, always a bit mystical and questionable. There will be dragons. And as the pictures show, there will be tights and velvet. Teasing aside, gorgeous insturmentation and vocalization take the listener back to a time that feels familiar. Superb and one of my favorite suprprises from this year.

Smell & Quim – “Lavatory” – [Smell & Quim/Milovan Srdenovic Appreciation Society]

lexi glass   12/4/2018   A Library, CD

More filthy fun to wallow in on this 2011 CD from the decades-running Leeds, UK noise collective. Abusive rhythms, excruciating demonic screams, persistent ringing squeals, layers of echoed voices and, at the most unexpected times, snatches of hilarious pop music. The assaults are punctuated by quick intervals of ringing bells, dead air, coughs and phlegm, moans from a low-budget porno, and Hitchcock saying the word “cock” over and over again. Through the 11 tracks, S+Q reveal the depraved underworld of the UK – the sex cults (T9), school shooters (T3), and its most beloved serial killers, as on the T4 Sutcliffe tribute and the Hindley and Brady (very friendly) set piece on T5. The album gets stronger as the it tears on, with the heavy, horrifying dance track “In The Brown Girl’s Ring Piece” (T9), the looping insanity of “Fishy Flirting,” and final sneering onslaught “Sniff Your Fucking Pee Pee” (T11). Totally offensive, disgusting and hilarious, like some of KFJC’s best programming. Not appropriate for any time ever, but you might get away with a daytime play if it’s not T1 T2, T3, T5, T6, T9, T10, T11, all FCCs.

Van Goat – “Follow Me Under” – [Prize Fighter Records]

humana   12/2/2018   12-inch, A Library


To say this album breathed life back into me is an understatement. From the first song to the last, Van Goat is a band that makes you WANT to “follow them under.” The horns bring to mind the jaunty liveliness of a New Orleans funeral procession, the percussion sets up a heart beat beneath the catchy lyrics and fast-paced numbers that defy classification–is it jazz, punk, Americana? Only two slow down enough to be ballads, and they are “Nothing Matters” and “Saliva Monster,” both featuring the powerful female vocals of Lindsay Alexis. Aidan Ward offers lead vocals on the rest of these amazing songs. I LOVE THIS!!!

Whip – “Some Awful Men” – [Priapus]

humana   12/2/2018   7-inch, A Library


“Some Awful Men” is the dark folk tune that you’d expect from such a title. “Woody Guthrie” has a bit more thrashing emotion to it. The plaintive vocals of J. Merritt take you down a notch in a good way.

No Balls “Bergen 31.5.2014” [Drid Machine Records]

atavist   12/1/2018   A Library, Cassette

This is blistering noise rock made noisier with a raw live recording. Veteran Scandinavian noisers No Balls and related projects Brainbombs and Noxagt are well-represented in the KFJC library, and this entry adds fuel to the flames. Lo-fi and dripping with feedback. Reckless abandon and the pursuit of pummeling repetition. Almost entirely instrumental, bandsaw guitar tone, clipped out drum cymbals. Side B starts with a Brainbombs track and ends with a secret track.

Ping, Gao – “Chamber Music” – [Naxos]

Hemroid The Leader   11/28/2018   A Library, CD

Gao Ping b. 1970 – 20th C. High Culture seen in a 21st C. lens. Conservative. 1-6 inspired by pre-TV storytelling, european sextet Ensemble Pyramide. 7-9 gao @ piano. folk melody permutations. 10-14 gao@piano w/US cellist anita jehli. departs from a line of poetry. 5 movements of unified chi. 15-16** ping at piano focusing on unintentional sounds, vocalizations **high entertainment value** don’t sleep

Welch, Fritz – “a Desire to Push Forward Without Gaining Access to Anything” – [Radical Documents]

Max Level   11/28/2018   12-inch, A Library

Strange constructions built with Welch’s overdubbed vocals. The Glasgow-based artist talks and rambles and exclaims and makes just about every kind of vocal noise possible. Voices on top of voices on top of other voices side by side with other voices. Track A2 is a short piece name-checking some of the USA’s most famous prisons. Side B is one 17 minute track. If you are a fan of vocal magicians like Makigami Koichi and Jaap Blonk, you’ll want to check this out. Edition of 300 on super cool green vinyl.

Forn – “Rites of Despair” – [Gilead Media]

Lord Gravestench   11/27/2018   A Library, CD

The brand new CD from Boston’s Funeral Doom frontrunners, whose legendary show at the Sutro Baths in 2014 (alongside Akatharsia and Badr Vogu) won them many admirers around these parts.

There’s a LOT of shitty ‘Hipster Doom’ out there these days–I’m not going to name names– BUT Forn absolutely is the genuine article. Take it from someone who’s picky about his Sludge/Doom (as Encyclopedia Metallum so authoritatively describes them). I googled ‘Hipster Funeral Doom’ and the only thing that came up was a 4chan thread where the term was deployed against Ahab, a band I actually love, and not a bad touchstone in this case, really.

Given their city of origin I think everyone half-expects this band to start sounding like Grief at any second, but there’s truly not much Sludge to be found on this release (except maybe the incredible grooving riff on t.5, one of the best songs). The largely creeping pace, echoey psychedelic guitar work and profusion of delicate interludes impart a certain thoughtfulness to this forward-thinking champ of an album, and here the band have earned the right to be mentioned in the same sentence as American Funeral Doom saints like Asunder and Evoken.

Accomplishing so seamless a merger of tenderness and brutality is no easy task for any metal band, much less one formed a mere 6 years ago; having two guitarists is of course an integral part of their complex sound, as is their fondness for sudden shifts from soft to loud. Tasteful Death Metal touches, including quite surprising ones on t.s 6 + 11, do not detract from the sense that Forn are a Doom band first and foremost, in love with stupidly big, slow, heavy riffs. Growler Chris Pinto, who once came over for some reason to the house in Boston where I lived for a time, is a versatile extreme metal vocalist and his spirited performance is also integral to this band’s sound, much in the way that the Bay Area’s own Swamp Witch couldn’t exist without Jimmy’s distinctively guttural interjections.

Speaking of the Bay Area, look for KFJC pit veteran Jessica Way (Worm Ouroborous, Barren Harvest) delivering an emotive, Current-93-esque performance on t.10, in what seems to herald the emotional climax of the album. This track, along with t.s 1, 4 + 7, is among the aforementioned delicate interludes and may appeal to non-metalheads also.

No track listing or lyrics included with the sleeve, but it’s safe to say ‘Rites of Despair’ is not coming from a happy place. Oh yeah, and Forn is Old Norse/Icelandic (same thing lol) for ‘sacrifice.’

Renoir – “Broken Tongue” – [Endangered Species]

Lord Gravestench   11/26/2018   7-inch, A Library

On this 2014 EP, their sole release, the Industrial Noize duo are trying to act like they don’t smoke pot– but we all know that they do. Side A has decaying monks like you might find in the ossuaries of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome, not far from the Via Veneto, where ‘La Dolce Vita’ was filmed all those years ago: monks trying to sing hymns as their throats crumble to dust. Seriously a lot of monks: hardcore Industrial fans already knew what I was talking about. OK it might just be A2 but it feels like both tracks. Side B is definitely more acoustic and less ‘ugh, I put my hand in something foul’; also, fewer (no?) monks: The Death Industrial Kraf-Twerk machine beat shows no sign of tiring its slow and dreadful progress as tortured sound sources are pushed to a climax. Mastered by Kris Lapke of Alberich and Furisubi. Plays at 33.

Sophia – “This Year Give a Share to Sophia” – [Lichterklang]

Lord Gravestench   11/26/2018   7-inch, A Library

Just in time for the holydaze, here is the 2017 Christless single from Sweden’s masters of hopeless, gothic Martial Industrial. Bring it back again for this year’s meretricious airwave revelries. Hit the killswitch and be better than human as you learn to fail with members of Cold Meat Industry superstars Arcana, who bring you two hammering battlefield ballads of holiday blues resignation and distinctly Scandinavian moroseness. This material is more song-based than some of their earlier work, and perhaps even more so than the lyrically-driven compositions on 2016’s devastating ‘Unclean’ album. Peter Bjargo, the head Sophian, is also married to Arcana/Sophia siren Cecilia Bjargo. Continuing the 50s theme, hear Him on side A and Her on side B, both in full bah-humbug mode. More of an elegant Martial Pop sound on side A that gets into Allerseelen territory. Side B is the lurching, too-drunk-at-the-Christmas-party spiteful (Lina?) Barbie doll. Both sides are genius because this band can do no wrong. Plays at 45.

Pulse Emitter – “Xenharmonic Passages” – [Expansive]

SAL9000   11/19/2018   A Library

Pulse Emitter is the project of Daryl Groetsch from Portland, Oregon. Xenharmonic Passages is the perfect synth atmosphere for meditation or zoning out late at night. All tracks flow as if they were all one, setting in motion a voyage to icy caves in outer space. It is super spacey, atmospheric microtonal ambience with frosty swirls and faint drums.

Albert, Marco / Day, Bryan / Kreimer, Jay – “Mutation 1-6” – [Public Eyesore]

mickeyslim   11/14/2018   A Library, CD

Marco Albert on vocals and electronix, Jay Kreimer and Bryan Day on invented instruments. These three met at the 2017 Festival Internacional de Improvisacion y Musica Extrema in Mexico. Recorded in Oaxaca, Lincoln NE, and San Francisco. Kreimer plays an “amplified hammered dulcimer-esque instrument on a tripod” and Day has “an entire table of his creations including antennas, effects processors, a wooden trapezoid, and an instrument that uses five tape measures each extended to a different length.”

The pieces are wrought and tense. It is surreal and abstract. The voices in both Italian and English float almost unnoticeably under dark scratchy movements.

Thick, scraping mutations.

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