Music Reviews

Ah Cama-Sotz – “I Believe” – [Hands]

cinder   2/9/2022   A Library, CD

An industrial-techno and dark ambient project by Belgian electronic music producer Herman Klapholz. Blending tribal, ethnic and dark elements with heavy dance floor beats. It takes a seat sometimes and lets the melancholy ambient drones wash over you as you cool down from your teeth grinding two step. It definitely has that basement industrial club vibe going too. Lots of bald heads, black eyeliner and leather pants happening here. Even includes a cover of the classic, Warm Leatherette!

My Cat Is an Alien – “Hypnotherapy” – [Lost Treasures of The Underworld]

cinder   2/9/2022   A Library, Cassette

A duo of Italian brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio, from the Torino area. Creating what kitty might be hearing in their head while staring at the wall, wide pupil’d at 3 in the morning. Spaced out strings, gurgling and churning electronics, pedal fx and whistful moaning put you into a stare-down daze. Side long tracks from a cassette, with side B (track 2) picking up right where the first left off. 

Nyoukis, Dylan / Glass, Seymour – “No One Cares About The Drama Queen’s Potassium Intake” – [Chocolate Monk / BUFMS]

cinder   2/9/2022   A Library, CD

Creeky, plunky, itchy, splunky, experimental compositions from Dylan (Blood Stereo, Decaer Pinga, Chocolate Monk) & Seymour (Bren’t Lewiis, Glands of External Secretion, Bananafish). Sounds like they went into an orchestra room, decided to tie one arm behind their back and pick and plunk at things with their nose. There’s all sorts of strings – some close up and some further back in the mix, random animal sounds (cow? bird? honey badger?), possible horn droneage, manipulated found sounds & field recordings, trickling electronics, twisting of things, shaking of other things, skittering and scampering. Maybe it’s just the house mice recording their jams in the middle of night. 

Faust, Maria – “Machina” – [Stunt Records]

Cousin Mary   2/6/2022   A Library, CD

Composer and alto sax player Maria Faust is a native of Estonia. This album suggests mechanical sounds and is said to be based on elements of water and the sea. Unusual instrumental combination of the alto and tenor saxophone, cello, piano and two basses. Jazz meets experimental meets contemporary classical. Compelling and poignant, highly recommended.

Orbit Service – “Door to The Sky, The” – [Cloud City Records]

humana   2/6/2022   12-inch, A Library

Listening to this album is a matter of immersing yourself in synth-laden atmospheres interspersed by the deep, wise vocals of Randall Frazier and the strings of Patrick Q. Wright (especially in “Three Knots”). Electronics are the name of the game, with percussive beats (especially in “How Do I Get Back Home?”) and aural effects that will have you spiritually ascending the ladder created by Elisa D. Canali-Frazier on the inside cover art to achieve the door in the sky. Let the music take you into orbit.

Cardinal Wyrm “Devotionals” [Self Release]

atavist   2/2/2022   A Library, Cassette

Absolutely killer cassette from this Bay Area trio with heavy experience in other projects, particularly due to the presence of Leila Abdul-Rauf (this is the first CW release added to KFJC to feature her). Released deep into pandemic year one (Dec. 2020), it asks, “Do we have another battle left in us?” Doom-laced, soaked in driving riffs, and peppered with a few straight-up guitar solos. And yet this sound is very distinct and unlike other stuff I’ve been reviewing lately. Unconventional vocal stylings: mostly clean, eccentric passages from drummer Pranjal Tiwari, like a possessed town crier reading from an occult scroll cut with ghoulish whispers. Abdul-Rauf brings a guitarist’s perspective to her bass guitar work. The sound is agile as it plays off Nathan Verrill’s guitar. All the pieces really start to fit on tracks like “Imposter”—great intro, building structures, ideal lyric content for the vocal stylings, vocal contrast from with an ethereal Abdul-Rauf addition, but most satisfying to my ears is the range of sounds Abdul-Rauf generates from the bass. In “Canticle” Abdul-Rauf provides vocals reminiscent of her work in both Vastum and Saros, like a compilation album jammed into a song. I’m probably going to play this thing to death on my show.

King Woman “Celestial Blues” [Relapse Records]

atavist   2/2/2022   A Library, CD

KFJC most recently encountered the work of Kristina Esfandiari on the brooding, electric Nghtcrwlr release “Let the Children Scream”. Here she returns to the guitar-driven King Woman, a project at times propulsive and furious, other times restrained and simmering, the sound of the loss that sinks and gathers in the pit of your stomach. The charisma in Esfandiari’s voice can lure you into the abyss and echo in your mind long after you remove the headphones. I suggest this could serve as the coronation Thurston Hunger hoped for when we acquired the Degrida/Sick Bed single in 2013. 

FCCs: Entwined (tr 6) and Ruse (tr 8)

God Is War – “World Music Volume 1” – [Phage Tapes]

whngr   1/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

Mid-weight Industrial/Power Electronics from Phage tapes delivers a holy war in your head.

Thematically dwelling on terrorism and violent insurgent groups from four disparate cultures we are strafed with sounds of religious fervor and upheaval with crunchy glitches, turbulent drone, and seditious samples including a PSA on obscuring ones data trail (B2) accompanied by contact mic abstractions and electronic fidgeting.
Uncomfortable, off-kilter, and appropriate for a global society that has evolved into a self-destructive parasite determined to bleed the host beyond reason. Beyond responsibility. Beyond recovery.

Santa Monica – 2021

Los Microwaves – “Birth of Techno, The” – [Hyperspace Communications]

cinder   1/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

A trio of David Javelosa (synth and vocals), Meg Brazill (bass and vocals) & Todd “Rosa” Rosencrans (drums). This plops you right down in the glorious new wave/minimal pop era of the early 1980s. The first half is studio, the second half are live tracks, some recorded in San Francisco at a venue called I-Beam. A little Gang of Four, with a splash of Blondie, and a good dousing of The Buggles. Most have vox, but there are a few instrumentals which would work great for electronic shows. I super love this! 

Dreihasenbild – “Visitation” – [Wet Barbed Wire]

cinder   1/26/2022   7-inch, A Library

Endearing, whimsical, delicate recordings of violin, mood, charms, and found sounds. It’s introspective and pondering, definitely has a foreign film score vibe. A soft beauty of sounds, either in enhanced vibrance or wafting droned ambient clouds. A project of Stefan Keydel from Austin. 

Calypso Rose – "Meets Mo Laudi (remixes), The" – [Because Music]

aarbor   1/26/2022   A Library

Calypso Rose or Linda McCartha Monica Sandy-Lewis is a Trinidadian calypsonian. She started writing songs at the age of 13 and has written more than 700 songs. She is now in her 80’s. She spent 17 years singing on cruise ships before playing on the legendary stages of the Apollo and Madison Square Garden with two of the greatest calypsonians, Lord Kitchener and Mighty Sparrow. A 2009 documentary Calypso Rose Lioness of the Jungle tells of the challenges of her early life. Mo Laudi is a DJ and producer from South Africa via London. What you have here are 2 tracks of remixed calypso tunes. AArbor

Indaba Is [coll.] – "" – [Brownswood Recordings]

aarbor   1/26/2022   A Library

This is contemporary South African Jazz on Giles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings label. It celebrates the alternative avant garde sound of some of Johannesburg’s jazz and post-rock leanings. The sensibility is like Shabaka Hutchings and the Ancestors recordings from the New London Jazz scene: jazz, with much homage to African ancestors (their culture, their struggles, their stylings). The work is the sacred act of recall, collecting memory — remembering; of referencing local jazz greats whose influence is perpetuated in contemporary music. This work is the bridge traversing past to present. The music is of today with a sense of memory. Don’t Miss! AArbor

FCC on track 2

Anditi, Olima, The – "Where Else Would I Be?, The" – [Mississippi Records]

aarbor   1/26/2022   A Library

Olima Anditi is a nomadic, blind guitarist who lives in Western Kenya. For 5 decades he has traveled the trucking routes around Lake Victoria, playing guitar for tired drivers and drunk farmers at late-night highway bars with bedrooms in the back. Lake Victoria is the the source of the Nile, the world’s largest tropical lake – an endless and mythic body of water choked with hyacinth. Olima puts creation stories about Lake Victoria to music. He sings about family, funerals, love, and Kenya’s tumultuous daily politics. He was 70 a few years ago and he continues to play. When someone remarked that he was still alive he responded “Where else would I be?” – hence the name of the album. The songs here are about people, specific people. Track 2 is a mourning song for a grandfather who died, Track 6 is vaguely political, the other songs have lots of peoples’ name in the them. Mississippi Records doing what they do best: showcase the unknowns. AArbor

Pancakes, The – “Mokele Goes to Town” – [Kerntonschall Records]

Max Level   1/24/2022   12-inch, A Library

This German trio has been around since the mid-90s, playing what founder/guitarist Rainer Neeff calls “krautsurf with grunge and 60s psychedelic garage music.” A lot going on there, but I must say it’s a pretty good description of their sound. The band claims influences as varied as The Seeds, Jefferson Airplane, Sonic Youth, Dick Dale, and Dead Moon, among others. Many flavors on this 2019 double LP release—we hear shorter tracks in a sort of surf/garage rock vein as well as longer trippy psychedelic excursions in the 13 to 14 minute range. The tracks that are somewhere in between are the ones that really caught my ear—long enough to go somewhere but not completely overboard. Neeff and his sister Daniela, who plays bass, do the vocals. If you dig FUZZTONES and WAH WAHS, this is for you.

An Anthology of Greek Experimental Music [coll] – [Sub Rosa]

Thurston Hunger   1/24/2022   12-inch, A Library

2017 collection covering artists’ pieces ranging from 1966 (Michalis Adamis) to 2017 (Ilan Manouach). Nearly all artists making their KFJC debut here, Iannis Xenakis (RIP 2001) is an exception having been spun hundreds of times at our station, from his drum-driven work to orchestral to electronics (like his “Voyage” here to lead off side D.) That is followed nicely by a blitzy electronic noise-fax from Marinos Koutsomichalis. There is definitely a sense of the curation in the *lp* track segues, even as the detailed liner notes discourage any sort of specific “flavour” to the works. Ending side C, the connection from an almost hiphop “BRUT” (and brut-al in its cutting up Billy Holiday to a Holocaust theme) followed by a gorgeous somber tonic from Panayiotis Veliantis – like a sonic canopic Grecian urn. Side A launches a long form with a chime-y vortex of oscillation by Anestis Logothetis and ends with an aptly titled “Sense” by Panayiotis Kokoras – where mere sound is used to mirror touch/taste/sight and a whiff of a nature walk. Side B covers much territory drumming a wind-up monkey on meth, through a guitar piece like a slow homage to old no-wave Theoretical Girls, over to Manouach and a sax-tet calliope before a scraping meeting of minds before ILIOS sends barking dogs into an electronic hive mind and Side B then closes with Michalis Adamis and what feels like EVP for ghost birds. Just a whole lot of diversity, even more if we include the MP3 download boni. Sub Rosa further uncovers the weirdness of the world!

-Thurston Hunger

Alma Maru – “Alma Maru” – [Daft Alliance]

Max Level   1/24/2022   A Library, CD

Tense, pulsating drones with jagged edges. Multi-layered repeating patterns and glitchy things consumed by feedback and dirty electronics. Not pleasant but not unpleasant. The nine tracks, ranging from about 2 minutes to about 7 minutes in length, have no beginnings or ends—each track barges in abruptly to take over from the previous. Alma Maru is Nathan Berlinguette and Ryan Unks.

Blackwater Holylight – “Silence/Motion” – [RidingEasy Records]

humana   1/24/2022   A Library, CD

The tracks on this one progress from a “blackwater” feel with the black metal-ish lyrics of “Delusional” to a “holylight” at the end of a tunnel by the time you reach the more inviting vocalizations of “Around You.” The words are dark and depressing, and the four band members from Portland, Oregon certainly create an atmosphere worthy of their name. The rhythms and vocals arise from the murk of the guitars to create a mood worthy of the time we live in–black at times tinged with light.

Yoshimura, Hiroshi – “Green” – [Light in the Attic]

humana   1/23/2022   A Library, CD

This re-release of Yoshimura’s 1986 vinyl album is electronic, dreamy, somnambulant. Harps and strings mix in with other ambient sounds to create relaxing, soothing music like the rhyming track titles that flow into each other. This listening experience makes you feel like you’re walking through a tranquil Japanese garden or spa where water drips gently down a wall fountain. From Japan with love.

Two Synths A Guitar (And) A Drum Machine [coll] – [Soul Jazz Records]

Thurston Hunger   1/23/2022   12-inch, A Library

Vibrant fun from Stuart Baker’s mighty Soul Jazz label. The album title spells out the formula for the songs, but how the artists titrate that formula is captivatingly diverse. This album will put KFJC’s Reject Girl on the Soul Patrol dancefloor, and happily so. I’ll be over in the corner watching Mills College wonder-weird woman Marina La Palma rant far from the maddening mirrorball (her band Ixna from the 80′ we have two of their old 7″ records). Spliff chilling in the melodica dub haze of Niagara. Nearly all the Sounds here are recently from the Universe. The leadoff side has the most driving guitar pieces, while that side also teams up Fab 5 Freddy with Vex Ruffin for a 2016 strive at positivity on “The Balance” – even more valiant mantra these days. Taiwan’s “Black Deer” sprinkle acoustic guitar on their beat-based entry. Maybe not them, but I suspect many of the artists here have an ESG record or two in their personal collections. Reviewing remotely I’m not sure if KFJC’s vinyl is colored “Neon Green” like the title of Tom ov England’s disco dub dish o’ porridge. All tracks tasty in any color.
-Thurston Hunger

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