KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Terrorama – “Horrid Efface” – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

Lord Gravestench   9/30/2020   12-inch, A Library

Founded in 2001, Sweden’s Terrorama play a pretty even melange of black, death, and thrash metal. This superb 2004 LP was their first proper album. From the inimitably vicious opening riff of the first track to the head-bifurcating feedback drone that finishes off the closer, the project’s well-developed, expressive take on extreme metal shines darkly here, conveying an appreciable mixture of anxiety and murderous intent. 

Vocals are straight-up black metal hate-shrieks, while the instrumentals navigate between distinctly black-, death-, and thrash-influenced parts, often over the course of the same song. There’s a punky rawness to the material, but it never crosses over into sloppiness; indeed the fact that it’s actually very tightly played makes the loose vibe quite impressive. It’s definitely that great Nuclear War Now! sound you’ll hear on this album, but with enough eccentricity and zeal to handsomely distinguish Terrorama from the rest of the label’s gasmasked legion. Some aspects reminded this reviewer of Cadaver (the Norwegian one) and the mighty Aura Noir. B2 is a cover of 80s Los Angeles thrashers Holy Terror.

A solid disc. “I deserve it. I deserve it. I deserve it. I deserve all the pain.”

Mortuous – “Among The Lost/Mors Immortalis” – [Carbonized]

Lord Gravestench   9/30/2020   A Library, CD

These guys might be the best death metal band to come out of San Jose since Exhumed (or at least they’re tied with Plague Phalanx, although the two groups play such different styles it doesn’t seem fair to pit them against each another). 

Founded in 2009 as the solo project of guitarist Colin Tarvin (Bruxers, Deform, Disinhibition, recently joined Acephalix), Mortuous has since grown into a 4-piece that includes members and alumni of such Bay Area projects as Necrot, Augurs, Cartilage, Vastum, Atrament, Caffa, and the aforementioned Exhumed itself.

Mortuous’s excellent 2018 debut LP was highly regarded and widely heard, earning them a large following internationally. Prior to that point, this ridiculously hard-working band carved out a reputation as a cult act in Bay Area circles, opening a crazy number of shows and releasing two demo tapes. These demos have now been reissued on this 2020 compilation CD from the Carbonized Records imprint (run by their drummer Chad Gailey, who also happens to be a long-time KFJC ally and supporter).

Their 2012 demo tape (t.s 1-6 here) was originally added by KFJC back in 2014, but the material well deserves a second trip through Current. Especially noteable are its crushing guitar sound and absolutely insane drumming, the latter provided by long-time Exhumed bludgeoner Col Jones (no longer in Mortuous as of 2014).

The 2010 debut demo (t.s 7-10) was recorded by Tarvin pretty much on his own, although Derrel Houdashelt (another former Exhumed member) contributes lead guitar on t.8. These 4 cuts have a scratchier, lower-fi sound than the first 6. 

The two demos feature mostly the same collection of songs, but the playing and production differs so much you barely notice when listening through the whole CD. Even the vocalist is different. Both halves of this compilation are great and well worth your attention. 

“We exit from this world/Into the light we are led/Then could the reverse be true/For a dimension of the dead?”

Metal Preyers – "Metal Preyers" – [Nyege Nyege Tapes]

Thurston Hunger   9/29/2020   A Library, CD

Is AfroFuturism still defining itself, and is this part of that definition? Ritual and routers, digital electronics and digits on dry drums meet here in 15 tracks shaped by shamans Jesse Hackett (London) and Mariano Chavez (Texas to Chicago). Important in their electronic stew are the drums and beyond of Omutaba and Lawrence Okello along with the orations of Otim Alpha. The sounds that result are certainly of the ether but grounded in Uganda. The was released on the fine Nyege Nyege Tapes label similarly born within and without Kampala. More likely to paralyze than perculate a dancefloor, the pieces are short but not confining. “Slither Dripper” and “Night Walker” move in mysterious ways, and across boundaries as stealthily as the project itself aims to. Both of those tracks feature a tiny gully of silence in the middle to jump across, and intentional reset that for me is a pleasant jolt. Startled on-air DJ’s might disagree. Otim Alpha I believe sings/invokes on #2, #3, #6, #9 and #12. The title tracks, opening and closing, feast upon the illusion of beats with whistle/whirs of the electronic landscape. For quick pieces, a lot of shape-shifting at play.

The album is both comforting and foreboding, advanced and ancient, a bush of laptops, an e-cafe of ghosts.

Thurston Hunger

Black Taffy – "Opal Wand" – [Leaving Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/29/2020   A Library, Cassette

Black Taffy all over your teeth and ears. Donovan Jones is pulling the sounds here, sea-salt gritty in the sampled grooves is a key element, I imagine Black Taffy and The Caretaker share the same dirty needles and addiction to ancient vinyl. Jones adds crisp synthetic snares broken starkly over the top, and muscle car bass beats beneath all that, and one more ingredient to find some weird harmony of the elements, the album has more harp than a pixie princess hen party. It’s a unique and compelling
combination and one that Black Taffy keeps consistent on this release. The angels occasionally trade their traditional harps for guzhengs, there are other instruments that drift in at times, toy piano tinkles, and sampled horns offer some sad prana breathing. The slow pace of the beats heightens the elegiac feeling. There is a flair of triumph in “And They Saw” and quick ripples percolating “Ocarina” but overall this cassette is for music box ballerinas who’ve run away to dance for themselves atop abandoned Dallas warehouses.


-Thurston Hunger

Clock of Time – “Pestilent Planet” – [Static Shock]

whngr   9/26/2020   12-inch, A Library

Berlin Garage Death Rock.

Downstrokes, chorus, reverb. Nihilistic doom rock for the tail end of “Civilization” propelled apathetically in an English accent. You can hear the sneers and feel tears. Drape yourself over a wrought-iron fence of hopelessness and weep for humanity. Or just play this between Christian Death and Joy Division. Whatevah.

Geld – “Beyond The Floor” – [Static Shock]

whngr   9/26/2020   12-inch, A Library

Australia’s Geld is a blistering  hardcore band with metal leanings. They call themselves Psychedelic Hardcore but… though there is a little flange on the guitars, I wouldn’t drop a tab and listen to this. Too negative. Too miserable. Too much rage for lysergic and too much cynicism for psilo but that’s just me. Knock yerself out… with a impact driver to the temple.

Blazing Eye – “Ways to Die” – [Static Shock]

whngr   9/25/2020   7-inch, A Library

Four unsheathed slashers from this four piece out of the city of angels. Growling, smoking fretboards, note intensive bass-lines, hammering the snare, crushing the cymbals, necro-centric hardcore punkrock led by Austin Delgadillo (Deathly) inciting fury, contempt, and violence. Tracks are short with short pauses, stay alert and have some Christ On Parade cued up.

Fossil Aerosol Mining Project – "Scaath Catfish" – [Afterdays Media]

cinder   9/23/2020   A Library, CD

A densely fog covered trip down the rivers of an ancient faux bayou. This is Fossil’s ode to the water, mud, muck and scum of the twisted veins of aqua throughout the lands. Post-industrial sound design, field recordings, found sounds, static tones, distant birds chirping….a collage of ambient distortions and harmonic strings. Alien creature sightings and fluttering drones.

Nghtcrwlr – "Let The Children Scream" – [Dero Arcade]

cinder   9/23/2020   12-inch, A Library

Solo project of Iranian chick Kris Esfandiari, who was the front woman for metal band King Woman for over 10 years. This is definitely nothing like that though! It’s got industrial beats, noise elements, 808s, sound clips, and a tough edge. She sings/screams/deadpans vox, which have a sometimes have distorted or echoed ghostly manner. She opened for Boy Harsher in 2019, and finally has made her music available on physical format. It’s haunting, sinister, twisted and nefarious… but slightly sweet. ‘Firestarter’ is a Prodigy cover (wooooo, ’90s!)

Irmert, Jana – “Flood” – [Fabrique]

lexi glass   9/23/2020   A Library, Cassette

Jana Irmert is a composer from Berlin who has collaborated with Jóhann Jóhannsson, Christopher Chaplin and other artists that blend music with film and visual media. While this 2017 release is a stand-alone album, Flood surely summons rich imagery with its mix of field recordings and electronic sounds: a vision of massive walls of ice meeting a slow thaw. We hear the ice breaking and cracking, its melt flowing into the oceans. The catastrophic process is overseen by an outside consciousness that pulses from above, as if to sound a warning. It unfolds in three parts: a 22 minute track, a shorter interlude, and a final long form piece. Though quiet and slow moving, there’s movement and detail that keep Flood consistently engaging throughout, an impressive feat. Our first release from the Vienna experimental label Fabrique.

Dakim – "Youdecide" – [Leaving Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/23/2020   12-inch, A Library

Dirty pure swirl of vinyl and sound, green and purple growing and oozing from LA by way of Detroit and spilling all over the kitchen sync of so many samples. Oakland instincts in the sink too? There’s deep automotive bass lines, quick honks and a few karate cartoon chops a la MF Doom. All instro though, well kinda…. I mean on “shineversince” there’s this groggy voice muttering while an uplifting R&B clap-along sample gets phased. The track “rap” also has some minimal voice samples maximized, but Dakim does NOT get stuck on the sticky talkie stuff, and his attention spans crates upon crates of records. This was assembled in 2010 apparently by Dakim, waxed more recently and dedicated to Ras G (RIP July 2019) and it has that Oooooh Ras spirit (without the airhorn, but definitely some abrupt cuts). Anyways this is every bit an experimental record, drop it with your Christian Marclay art party and dance a little to “setside” and don’t fret the differences. “setside” really covers a lot of turf with a sorta sonic theme like kelp swaying in the ocean. Dakim does that well, maybe even adding some of his own keys on tracking, connecting dots on musical staphs that feel like a rough mix at first, but upon repeated listen they are just right. Notion : if Tom Waits wants to start his rap career, Dakim’s got him covered on the beats.

-Thurston Hunger

Toned – “Private Sector” – [Shhpuma]

Max Level   9/22/2020   A Library, CD

Abstract pieces by this electroacoustic trio featuring alto sax, electronics, and drum set. Often crazy, jagged, blurting, and in your face, other times more restrained and seemingly thoughtful. I especially enjoy it when Tom Weeks uses his sax to make unusual sounds—squeaks and pops and flutters. Track 5 has a different flavor than the rest— it starts quietly with what could be water sounds but may be electronics; about 2/3 of the way into the track things get louder with something that sounds like train noises but who knows what it actually is, and then it ends quietly. There are a couple of tracks with snippets of conversations added, and those don’t do a whole lot for me. I like this release because it’s weird and messed up, but I hear it as mostly coherent sound—which is good—rather than random stuff thrown in just to be weird and messed up.

Hollander, Celia – "Recent Futures" – [Leaving Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/22/2020   12-inch, A Library

So Leaving Records gets a socially distant (350 miles) virtual slap on the socially distant back for being a pretty amazing and diverse label. Here we find Celia Hollander’s debut, Hollander an LA musician and erstwhile Dublab DJ. The lead off track uses a stringed sample for effleurage up and down your spine, short and sweet. More digital processing on the second piece with a hovering pulse, but then maybe she’s tapping on a piano keylid after awhile for percussion. Those manual beats question a twitchy drum machine and other tones. “Surround Sound Me” follows with a kind of gamelan waterfall, not gamelan per se but a soothing cascade of soft metal into a brief softer storm. The sound of ball bearings going to heaven? The piece that called me is “Big Talk/Small Talk” voice chat chopped so fine you cannot pull any words out, so it has the aura of Robert Ashley, but recalls Alessandro Bosetti’s talk-cussion or some art installation on the joy of information overload. I’m not a synaesthete, but this pushes those sort of buttons for me. This record exists in a space between drone and beats, which “Spared Time” illustrates very well. The concluding piece is my second favorite, elegance and elegy….simple piano wandering in between the magnetic fields. A stimulating release, I suspect there are detailed stories behind each pieces. A glistening electroacoustic listen.

-Thurston Hunger

Pantha Du Prince – "Black Noise" – [Rough Trade]

cinder   9/18/2020   A Library, CD

Gorgeous third release from this German producer. Said to be born out of a period of musical exploration in the Swiss Alps, his sounds are often labeled as minimal techno. This is so full of sound though, very earthy and rich. Lush electronics, intriguing dance-able beats, organic instruments, field recordings, bells, tropical flairs. All instrumentals except track 4 which features vocals by Panda Bear (Noah Lennox of Animal Collective), and track 7 also has vocals but I’m not sure who, himself perhaps? It’s optimistic and beautiful!    

Trou – “Grjóthaugr” – [No Part of It]

whngr   9/17/2020   A Library, CD

“Trou” (pronounced trū ), french for “void” is the mysterious and prolific  rhythmic noise, harsh industrial project from France ca. 2012 to present. Three gloomy tracks of mind wipingly repetitive dark ambient/industrial fare suitable for the final round of stripping your captive of their ego. Apply liberally to the feeble minded in order to gain control and begin supplanting capitulation for autonomy as you guide them towards self destruction and they bend to your terrible will. Originally self-released on cassette in 2017 this outing is another delectable/detestable disc from Chicago label No Part Of It.

Maximin, Bérangère – “Land of Waves” – [Karlrecords]

lexi glass   9/17/2020   12-inch, A Library

French sound artist Bérangère Maximin transforms an assortment of instruments – percussion, small objects, synths, guitar, and voice – into the Land of Waves on her sixth album. Over two LPs, we visit the imagined corners of this strange land, starting with its terrain: the underground drones and gemlike synths on “Day 41” (A1), idiophonic melodies emanating from deep caverns on “Kalimba Rough” (A2), the swarm of tremors on “The Broken Shoe” (A3). The B side sets out on a night time walk through an unusual wilderness, its sounds of glowing insects, wind-up birds, leaping fish, calls of owls and other unidentified creatures beaming through the darkness. “L’Echappee” (C1) begins at the edge of a dock before unmooring, drifting into a shadowy sidelong journey. The final D side holds some of the most exciting and varied tracks: “Walking Barefoot: Imaginary Quintet” (D1, a collaboration with Fred Frith on guitar and the Swibeckico Quartet on electronics) an eerily beautiful techno piece, “Des Tigres Multicolores” (D2) with its jeweled tones, purrs and growls, and closer “The Thread” (D3) where the most familiar of sounds, like a cell phone notification chime, are absorbed into Maximin’s dreamworld. More of her previous work can be found in our library, here and here.

Nital Etch – “Simalacrum” – [No Part of It]

whngr   9/17/2020   A Library, CD

Eerie Cinematic Vignettes.

Haunting, serene, and at times unnerving like dreams of lovers long passed, entropy, and the death of hope. A collection of modulated strings, samples, and ambient sound collage by Washington state’s Kevin Lewis culled from unreleased selections by this magnificent composer, released August 2020 by the label No Part Of It  (Chicago). In a word, perfect.

Mogerman, Sol – “Wishbone Bridge” – [Self Release]

mickeyslim   9/13/2020   A Library, CD

I’ve been sitting on this doulbe CD release for something like 6 years. I don’t know why I never opened it. I don’t know where it sat all these years, but after I found it when I moved back to the Bay, it STILL sat, unlistened, for two years. So sorry, folks…. Simply put, this is amazing. Amazing music from an amazing musician with an amazing story.

This album was recorded well before Mogerman moved from California to British Colombia in 1985, when he ended up having a stroke due to a terrible car accident that made him unable to play guitar for twenty years, making this possibly the only recording/release of music before his accident. He has gone on to become a clinical counsellor, specializing in restoration of self-image after brain injury and trauma. Aside from being a musician, he is also an accomplished author and artist

Half of these 20 tracks are quick, fast-paced acoustic guitar songs with witty lyrics taken from on his wife, Gundula’s, poetry. The other half are improvised, jazz-ic, acoustic, living-room jams. Even the composed tracks have a freeform feel. Enjoy!

Floral – “Floral LP” – [Choke Artist]

mickeyslim   9/13/2020   A Library, CD

a washed out daydream
just beyond the greying clouds
find its way out of the rain.

a hurried pitter patter on
eaves, beating as if a
morse code from the heavens
is finally saying,
“… maybe not one day.”

a knock at the door,

a bird finding sanctuary
underneath your windowsill,

nighttime arrives
and, now, rain
drifting off,
the moonlight glistens
off the puddles
from
the cracks
in the sidewalk.

Mountain View math-rock duo. Beautifully melodic syncopation from Nate Sherman on guitar and Ty Mayer on drums. Delicate, masterful, stunning.

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