KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Machito And His Orchestra – “Afro-Cubop” – [Spotlight Records]

aarbor   10/9/2019   A Library

From 1979 this is an excellent example of the merger between New York’s jazz scene sound with an Afro-Cuban sound. Machito, who was born Frank Grillo in Tampa, FL in 1912 moved to Cuba in his youth, returning to the U.S. in 1937 and played with Xavier Cugat and Noro Morales. He founded his own band around 1939-40 which married Latin music and American music. Don’t miss Charlie Parker on tracks B1-3 (Mambo, Lament for the Conga, and Reminiscing at Twilight). Harry Belafonte appears on B6 (Lean on Me). AArbor 

JEANNEAU, LAURENT – Music of Southern and Northern Laos

aarbor   10/9/2019   A Library

This is Laotian music from the ethnic minorities of both the Northern and Southern parts of Laos. In the South the Molam tradition is central to the popular music (as it is in Cambodia). A mouth organ (Khene) accompanies the singing. The type of Molam varies by the geographic regions. Northern Laos is a mosaic of ethnic minorities and sounds. Check this out!  AArbor

Praed – “Doomsday Survival Kit” – [Akuphone]

aarbor   10/9/2019   A Library

Praed is Raed Yassin and Paed Conca of Lebanon. Their sounds is a mixture of Arabic popular music, free jazz and electronics. The Doomsday Survival Kit their latest release from 2018, is 4 relatively long tracks which are definitely worth playing. AArbor 

Cinedelic Sound: Music for Advertisements [coll.] – [Cinedelic Records]

aarbor   10/9/2019   A Library

Upbeat music for ads, TV, soundtracks A delightful 2 CD compilation of upbeat music which could be used for ads, TV, soundtracks …  You can definitely dance to a lot of these tracks especially on CD1. The sounds come from various parts of the world: Brazil, India, Italy – and various styles: rock, surf, funk, jazz, space age bachelor pad. Just enjoy – it is definitely great music to donate by.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

AArbor 

Hypnagogue – “Distant Light Receding” – [Self Released]

lexi glass   10/8/2019   A Library, Cassette

This 2019 cassette is the debut release from Hypnagogue, the solo project of Massachusetts-based artist James Rosato. On Distant Light Receding, Rosato uses guitar and magnetic tape to evoke the “harsh beauty of a coastal New England winter.” But to my ear, there’s no harshness at all to be found in these dreamlike drones, just a quiet warmth, like a lit candle on a snowy night. Five tracks over two sides that drift into one another in a continuous slow burn.

Smoke Below – “Isolation 3000” – [Ehse Records]

humana   10/6/2019   12-inch, A Library

This is a very pleasant sounding release from Smoke Bellow, whose primary members composed this music in a backyard shed after they traveled to Melbourne from Baltimore. Although they felt isolated (thus the name of the album), the electronic tunes on here are fairly upbeat, and the voices, though echoey at times, sound imbued with wisdom gained from being in isolation. They have since returned to Baltimore and added a band member. The final track is my favorite with its flute and horn sounds.

Zorn, John – “Music Romance Volume Two: Taboo and Exile” – [Tzadik]

Medusa of Troy   10/2/2019   A Library, CD

Taboo And Exile is part 2 of Zorn’s 3-part Music Romance series, released by his Tzadik label in 1999. For those new to Zorn’s wide swath of compositions, the album functions as an introduction and a sampler of Zorn’s many musical styles: jazz (Track 10), punk (2, 5), surf (9), Jewish music (3, 6, 8), experimental (7), exotica (1, 4, 11, 12). Track 10 (“The Possessed”), a free jazz tune full of skronky, screeching, screaming sax, is the only song where Zorn plays. Musicians on various tracks include: Marc Ribot, Fred Frith & Robert Quine [guitar], Bill Laswell & Greg Cohen [bass], Joey Baron, Dave Lombardo and Cyro Baptista [percussion], the Masada String Trio [strings] and vocalists Mike Patton and Miho Hatori. No apparent FCCs on the 2 vocal tracks. From grinding, fuzzy guitars to tribal rhythmic drums to lush, sweet strings, I love almost everything about this album – except the cover. I find the cover abhorrent. YMMV. But play this album.

Imaginational Anthem Volume Nine [coll] – [Tompkins Square]

lexi glass   10/1/2019   A Library, CD

Since 2005, local label Tompkins Square has brought us the Imaginational Anthem series, a showcase of guitarists playing in the American primitive style (Vol. 2 reviewed here). For this 2019 compilation, the ninth in the series, singer/songwriter Ryley Walker takes a broader interpretation of the project’s original theme, and curates a lineup of artists exploring both the traditional fingerpicking and more experimental – even electric! – styles. The works collected here bring strange, fresh sounds to the series, while still keeping its spirit. Listeners may recognize the work of Kendra Amalie (featured on our most recent Live from the Devil’s Triangle Vol. 22 compilation), her guitar accompanied a full band on the bold “Boat Ride” (T5), while Dida Pelled offers a silly, sweet cover of Norma Tanega’s “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” (T4). I’ve already made my obsessive love for Angel Marcloid’s Fire-Toolz project pretty clear here, so I see no reason to stop now: her offering “World of Objects” (T8) shuts down the argument that a guitar can’t sound modern – this spacey, proggy jam is from another galaxy, another age. My favorite track sprouts up at the end, as Dave Miller plugs in and gets heavy on “Seedlings” (T10). Something for everyone in this “deep-fried black hole” of a mix.

Drose – “boy man machine+” – [Computer Students]

atavist   10/1/2019   A Library, CD

Human—machine juxtaposition, taken very seriously. It’s a good use of its context, the Center for Automotive Research in Columbus, Ohio. Robots were building a race car during the recording. The building’s machinery has a compelling voice, and the recording captures this as well as its cavernous acoustics. Compositions are slow builds, with pounding percussion, to wailing guitar passages. I found the vocals hard to take in the early tracks—desperation shading into near whimpering. Over an hour and ten minutes of material is presented, and a bit of it feels like filler. Tracks 5, 6, 10, and 11 recommended. Track 12 is maybe the best, if you simply want a rock song. Track 13 is okay too. FCC on track 8 (fucking).

Bonnet, Francois & O’Malley, Stephen – “Cylene” – [Editions Mego]

atavist   10/1/2019   12-inch, A Library

Consistently beautiful, minimal compositions of guitar, awash in cavernous echoes. Stephen O’Malley of Sunn0))) provides guitar, and François Bonnet (who also works under the project name Kassel Jaeger) pursues studio manipulations of those sounds. The effect is tranquil but brooding, the slow unfolding of night shadows, wind howling on lonely mountaintops. The last track is distinct from the others due to its more assertive use of keyboard drones. Its title means “steps in the ashes”, and one can picture a film where a survivor steps out into the light of a ruin and considers a broken future. 

Ahti, Marja – “Vegetal Negatives” – [Hallow Ground]

lexi glass   9/24/2019   12-inch, A Library

Marja Ahti is a Swedish electroacoustic composer working in Turku, Finland. We’ve come across her work before, both from her solo project Tsembla (reviewed here and here) and from her collaborations with Kemialliset Ystävät. On this 2019 LP from Hallow Ground, the first release under her own name, Ahti draws inspiration from a quotation by the French surrealist writer Rene Daumal where he describes the inner workings of an animal – its structure, its metabolism, even its blood red color – as the inverse of that of a plant’s: the animal is the “vegetal negative.” Ahti explores these ideas – form, energy, color – with her palette of sounds. Tones made with analog synthesizers provide rhythmic patterns, field recordings of natural and manmade environments manifest energy, and carefully played bowl gongs and a harmonium exude warm washes of color. There’s also instances of inversion, as the synths imitate organs (T4), or as ocean recordings find their echoing alien counterpart (T1). Each of these four works rewards close listening, strengthening their pull on your awareness from the inside out.

Eleh – "Living Space" – [Touch]

Louie Caliente   9/24/2019   A Library, CD

Space-filling, mind-healing sound baths. Introspective and uplifting. Suitable for headphones and cathedrals alike.

Deep room-rattling hums. Microtonal tweaks and binaural bounces. Subsonic subconscious vibrations.

Minimal pulsating drones that evolve on a human time-scale. Glacial, not geological.

Explorations in resonance and repetition, featuring synthesizers, piano, organ, bass and chimes.

Fiesel, Christian – “Astronauts Volume 1” – [Aural Films]

SAL9000   9/22/2019   A Library, CD

Thia album by German artist Christian Fiesel is volume 1 in a series of ambient space music being released on the label of Jack Hertz, Aural Films. This series commemorates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 1969.
Christian Fiesel has been inspired by science fiction and space travel since he was a kid and a fan of TV shows such as ‘Space 1999’ and Star Trek. This all-electronic album, Astronauts Vol. 1, is space gloom, yet represents an expansive new freedom, curiosity and the desire to explore new worlds.

Bill Baird – Owl

cadilliac margarita   9/20/2019   A Library, CD

1 of 8 in a series of Arthur King Presents records, The prolific Bill Baird brings us spacey mellow psychedelic eltctro krautrock. Mostly instrumental— guitars, bass, drums, and analog synth, and a few saturated vocals drop in here and there. This is  both light and dark, heavy and mellow. He was inspired by his son’s obsession with Owls. Neat-O!

Glasgow TIki Shakers – "Happy Halloween" – [Tip Top Records]

Cousin Mary   9/18/2019   A Library, CD

This surf/tiki trio from Los Angeles is here at their spookiest, zaniest best. Great instrumentals and arrangements with all the scary touches such a howling, chimes, birds, cats, whistling wind, horses neighing, gunshots, squealing tires, growling and moans. Good fun with the horror, but good music even without it.

BeauSoleil, Bobby – “Voodoo Shivaya” – [Ajna Offensive]

whngr   9/18/2019   12-inch, A Library

A brooding murderer’s long-form psychedelic foray into spooky spirituality on this, his less than poignant and most recent contribution to society. Sultry dated white-man blues/riff-rock in the key of Dad with the kind instrumentation you’d expect from someone who has spent the bulk of his life trying to conjure mentally the Santana concerts he would never be able to witness in person with a heavy emphasis on guitars, bass, synthesizer, simulated (counterfeit) traditional Indian music, and his own smokey convict voice. This double l.p. is dressed to kill in a fancy jacket to commemorate the end of any kind of shame or remorse one might hope to find from a former drug fueled sex-cult member serving a life sentence within the Californian and Oregon prison systems. Former Manson “family” member Bobby BeauSoleil was given the death sentence for stabbing his friend and fellow “family” associate Greg Hinman to death at which time, according to Manson, had initiated “Helter Skelter,” his borrowed title for his prophecy of an apocalyptic race-war in which his followers would survive (and ultimately reign over humanity) by finding a hidden golden city buried in the desert of Death Valley. However, that didn’t happen and the lot of them were collected, incarcerated, and after the media circus left town mostly ignored. What did happen was his sentence was commuted to life in prison and after getting stabbed a bit he would eventually sever ties with the “family.” Then, with the help of a small splattering of celebrity and a collaboration with outsider film-maker Kenneth Anger, he would be able to continue recording his own trippy brand of Jim Morrison inspired (though considerably less talented [at least towards the beginning of Morrison’s career] and inebriated. Say what you will about Morrison, J.M. had massive gobs of whatever B.BS. dreams of having]) brand of introspective grooves utilizing musicians hand-selected from a cadre of his fellow inmates with impunity and often the support of prison officials. But Bobby won’t ever give up on the dream maaan! Nothing was going to stop BeauSoleil from his destiny of attempting to slay some sweet riffs on his guitar and pontificating rather tastelessly on his pseudo-spiritual journey. While wanky, trite, self-absorbed, and certainly morally questionable, Voodoo Shivaya still has a few descent hooks, and some “killer”(coughs in hand) jams. It is also a kind of time-capsule, like if a spooky hippy-biker with nothing but time (and blood) on his hands recorded himself in the late seventies with modern mics, computers, and instrument modelling(?) but without originality, virtuosity, or much if any tact.

Nonlocal Forecast – “Bubble Universe!” – [Hausu Mountain]

lexi glass   9/17/2019   A Library, Cassette

Mention “vaporwave” in a lobbyful of KFJC DJs and you’ll likely hear a chorus of groans. So how is that this cassette from Nonlocal Forecast – which deals in many of the 90s-obsessed sounds associated with the particularly obnoxious millennial microgenre – totally rips? It’s because we’re in the capable hands of Angel Marcloid, the creative genius behind the blazingly great project Fire-Toolz.

Those upbeat smooth-jazz jams that played during the Weather Channel’s local forecast segments throughout the 90s to this day fill me with a strange and primal sense of comfort, and reading some other reviews of Bubble Universe!, it seems I’m not alone. For me, the corny tunes eased my fears during what seemed like the impending end of the world, the chipper soundtrack to a repeating SuperDoppler radar animation of a hurricane on a direct path towards my hometown. Marcloid’s intricate compositions completely capture the sound and feel of those songs: the tinny rhythms, the cheezy synths, and – most dated of all – the unabashed optimism. Just as you let down your guard and begin to get into the intricate grooves, she’ll lay down some seriously smooth guitar stylings (T1, T4). As the tape plays on, it concerns itself with more than atmospheric conditions, blasting off into the cosmos. It’s impossible not to get down during “Classical Information” (T7) and don’t miss the sparkling mind-blower “Triangular Format (Feat. Fire-Toolz)” (T5), but it’s all brilliant – hit it.

Unholy Crucifix – “Black Mass Metal” – [Yersinia Pestis Records]

atavist   9/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

Two to three minute bursts of lo-fi, Satan-worshipping black metal from Eureka, California (though originally from Norway). The record starts with an interesting, quiet intro, vaguely ominous, nearly pleasant. But everything after that charts a descent into the defiled pit. Wreathed in filthy guitar tone, a spectral distortion cleansed of its soul. Sometimes the drums come in really high in the mix—some tom strikes achieve a separation so as to be disembodied from the band. In this lineup they still had a bass player, and at best he adds a bit of thickness to the din. Super washed-out vocals are the right sound for this maelstrom. If side A isn’t suitably lo-fi, switch to side B, which is all rehearsal versions, including rehearsal versions of tracks found on side A. The guitar tone here is more of a common noisy variety and loses some of that “spectral” quality noted earlier. It’s clear that they just went through the set, playing each track in succession, so it’s a cool approximation of a live recording. The last track is the filthiest of all, like it was recorded by a single mic going into a Radio Shack tape recorder. The cymbal crashes just clip out completely. This is a heavy dose of sickness.

Various Artists (A Simple Procedure) [coll] – [Estuary Ltd.]

lexi glass   9/11/2019   A Library, CD

KFJC DJs are masters of the “superimposition,” Cy Thoth’s term for a live mix of multiple records at once. So here’s an advanced challenge:

Choose 42 records. Cue up eight at a time. For each record, using a chart inspired by the I Ching, determine whether to press play, press pause, change its playback volume, or switch it out for another record.

Follow this simple procedure, and you’ll have performed John Cage’s 1952 work Imaginary Landscape No. 5. For this 2015 release from Estuary Ltd., label founder Mark Cetilia (of Mem1, recently added to our library), commissioned fellow artists to create 42 original works to be used as source material for a new imagining of Cage’s piece, here spread over two CDs.

In contrast to the jazz records Cage used to create the original version, Cetilia’s source material is far more abstract. Overall, the tracks on CD1 have a subtler feel – icy drones (T5), ocean waves (T6), glacier caves (T15), electronic birds (T10) and insects (T14), treated piano and guitar, organ (T20), and some serious ASMR mouths sounds (T3) – while the tracks on CD2 are propelled by livelier rhythms, from dance beats to dogs’ barks to noise textures.

At the end of each CD is an instance of Imaginary Landscape No. 5. For the first, Cetilia uses the 42 tracks each pressed onto a 7″ record to create an analog version of the piece (CD1-T22). For the second, Cetilia used software to edit the original files to make a digital version (CD2-T22). Each landscape matches the material on its disc, with CD1’s analog version softened by a sea of surface noise, while CD2’s digital version cuts abruptly from one sonic idea to the next.

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