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Music Reviews

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.

Gnaw Their Tongues – “Genocidal Majesty” – [ConSouling Sounds]

whngr   9/11/2019   12-inch, A Library

Horrifying wails buried in industrial dissonance. Solo project of one Murice “Morie” De Jong, maniacally prolific (Mystagogue, Black Mouth Of Spite, The Sombre, Golden Ashes, Obscuring Veil, Cloak of Altering, De Magia Veterum, Caput Mortem, et al, ad nauseum) Dutch musician and demagogue of disorder and decay, whose singular aspiration seems to be illustrating sonically the scope and breadth of human suffering. Drone, synthesizer, spite, choral guttural chanting, cudgels embedded in palates, shimmers, wrath, obscenely tight “tom” strikes, misery, white noise, horror, deranged booms, and anguish. A recoiling from all things benevolent and yet there is also a kind of grandeur present as well. Like a priest who was well trained in the language and practice of venerating God, who knew the price he payed when he chose to bathe in goats blood and spew heretical vitriolic blasphemy towards the kingdom of heaven and his holy Father. Rejecting the promise of eternal rewards in the afterlife to bask in the raging trash fire that is humanity. Noise elements abound and while at times quite harsh can offer an interesting and sometimes slightly soothing texture over one of the most notable aspects of this album; its “percussion”. Devastating blast beats, crushing snare drops (flams from heaven), plodding and lurching drum terror that reminds this wretched volunteer of the project The Body which is further reinforced by the guest vocals by one Chip King on track B1 “The Doctrine Of Paranoid Seraphims”.  A terrible feeling of personal reckoning is represented on this delightful L.P. wrapped in a fittingly colourless and appealing(appalling) jacket. 

La Danza Del Agua [coll] – [Discrepant]

Louie Caliente   9/10/2019   12-inch, A Library

A compiltion of modern experimental music from South America.

Artists from Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia & Venezuela build on tradition, using cumbia beats, folk flutes, and exotic latin rhythms. But the focus is purely modern, with synthy instrumentation, electronic beats, and soundscapes. Everything is very creative, playful and highly listenable.

These tracks were originally released on a larger compilation from the Argentinian Papaki records, which is available online in the Free Music Archive. The original album featured 38 artists across two volumes (both cassette). Discrepant out of the UK focused things down to just 12 tracks and released on vinyl.

A1. Space age synths and binaural Peruvian flute.

A2. Electro-cumbia. Dancy and hypnotic.

A3. Shimmering day-dreamy guitar. Heavy on the echo.

A4. Digital congas and saw-tooth slaps and lazer zaps.

A5. Hyper latin rhythms and surf guitar. Reverb-hour approved! Wish it was longer.

A6. Concret sound exploration. Blissful drones mix with crunchy loops and aquatic scraping sounds.

B1. Distorted pop debris. Distant, scratchy and beautiful.

B2. Solo percussion drips and drops. Rhythms appear, evolve, and return to emptyness.

B3. Folk drones for horns and percussion.

B4. Whistling flute and marching-band drum groove.

B5. Thumping bass-heavy electro beats with spanish spoken-word.

B6. Abstract digital cosmic soundscapes.

Cell Rot – “Violent Spirals” – [Vitriol Records]

atavist   9/8/2019   12-inch, A Library

Oakland’s Cell Rot released this deput LP just over a year ago, and now it’s time to bring it to the KFJC airwaves. Recommended for heavy rotation: this is well-built hardcore flecked with metal, completely enraged and death-obsessed. The album basically drops into full speed after the introductory track and doesn’t relent. Drop in, spit your pain and disgust, repeat. Tracks are short and to the point. The vocals are furious and consistent throughout, finding that balance between control and abandon. That description could apply to the instruments as well: the band is tight without sounding uptight; they hit their marks with enough confidence to allow reckless performance to inflect the outcome. The record is so consistent that any track will do (look out for a couple FCCs). Well, except for the intro, which really is an intro, consisting of just a vocal track and brooding, ominous guitar feedback, and leads immediately to the following track. Playing both “Intro” and “Born Into Pain” could be a nice choice, and that will still only take 2:29 to play. Tracks are typically threaded together with walls of feedback—in other words, there aren’t clean breaks between tracks and you’ll have to rev up to 33 quickly when cueing (plus cut away quickly to your next track at the end). The last track, “No Redemption”, is a great way to close out the record, and might be my early favorite.

Tomhet – “Eklipsens Hord Och Karavan Demo 2005 / Apokalypsimz Legend Demo 2009” – [Goatowarex]

whngr   9/5/2019   A Library

Cold and bleak black metal from Mora, Sweden. A Chinese (Beijing) release of  demos from 2005 and 2009 with a potentially deliberate ham-fisted production (left a cough in, etc.), simple/crude structure and technique that can sound derivative of the music scene that was exploding around them but with a smattering of notable departures. It might sound like I am slagging it but this is in fact how I like my BXM. I like it raw, I like it grim, and I like it Nordic. In 2019 we are awash with bands similar to Tomhet but that is because the  formula is good or at least it is one that speaks to the (aging) youth. Miserable, misunderstood, and fundamentally aware of their (our) inevitable demise but this project came to being in 1999 in an idyllic mountain resort about equidistant between Stockholm and Oslo so its got some provenance and if the art wasn’t so fucking crude I would probably champion them more steadfastly. Bonus points for wind sounds, general weirdness especially in the vocs, and for being a Swedish band released by a Chinese label with ties to Australia (wtf 2019).

Golden Braid – “Golden Braid” – [Bluesanct/Red Frost Industries]

whngr   9/5/2019   A Library

A glorious ambient/industrial sidelong single with shimmering drones, whirs, thumps, pulses, and dreamy abstractions culled from tapes sourced from six (6) noisicians in real time by Michael Anderson (aka. Mkl Anderson, Mkl Drekka). Primarily sedate layers of narcolepsy inducing sounds that could be a Vicodin holiday or a fever dream depending on the listeners perspective going in to this drier-lint lined cocoon of an album. A limited colaborative release (300 copies) from Anderson’s own Bluesanct label and Red Frost Industries. B side is side A in reverse and vice versa.Aserv eciv dna eserver ni A edis si edis B.

St Hugh, William – “The Luciferian” – [self released]

whngr   9/5/2019   A Library, CD, Music Reviews

Lovely and somber orchestral movements from this mysterious project out of Fairhaven Massachusetts. Primarily string compositions with sparse accompaniment from timpani, cymbal, and flute (I suspect all instruments are synthesized) that evoke a lonely and perhaps haunted soul’s journey towards damnation. This release is so new and possibly cvlt that as of this writing it had only a singular presence on the internet (bandcamp) and thus prompted me to submit my first ever addition to discogs. Though nothing about this album is exceptional or ground breaking it does feel very personal and it is easy to imagine the artist pouring him/herself into this release with abandon. Slightly lacking in emotion it  can feel cold and intellectual or perhaps dead inside, not unlike a sociopath trying to connect with the strange emotive world they sometimes encounter at the cemetery where they often go to reflect. 

MZ.412 – “Svartmyrkr” – [Cold Spring Records UK]

lexi glass   9/4/2019   12-inch, A Library

MZ.412, the Swedish black industrial project fronted by Henrik “Nordvargr” Björkk, commemorates “30 years of death” with this 2018 album. Nordvargr is by now a towering figure in extreme music, having built his reputation over the decades with his countless projects – Folkstorm, Toroidh, Anima Nostra, among many others – and as one of the flagship artists of the legendary Cold Meat Industry label. With MZ.412, Nordvargr and his collaborators, here Drakh (Jonas Aneheim of Beyond Sensory Experience) and Ulvtharm (Jouni Ollila), work with elements black metal, martial industrial, and noise to forge a new form of dark magic. On Svartmykr, the first MZ.412 release in 12 years, the trio conjures Helheim, the Old Norse realm of the dead, and its master, the goddess Hel. The gateway to the underworld opens with soaring choruses, thundering drums, sweeps of strings, fearsome vocals, the wrath of Hel herself; a vision so vast that it loses definition, dissolving into blackened noise. Hidden within the darkness is a spirit’s wolven voice on “Helblar” (T5), a treacherous sea of icy waves that rise and fall on “Ulvens Bleka Syster” (T6), and, when the waters recede, the beautiful, despairing guitars of “Burn Your Temples, True Change” (T7). The last three tracks return to the massive sounds: the violent upheaval of “She Who Offers Sorrow” (T8), the powerful declaration “We Are Eternal” (T9), and the blazing light of stars in the album’s final moments (T10).

HVAC – “Mentality” – [Self Produced]

lexi glass   9/4/2019   A Library, Cassette

2017 demo tape from this hardcore punk band from NYC. Seven short bursts of fury driven by absolutely vicious, bloodcurdling vox. Sarah, Tess, Carlos, and Anjelica threaten to melt the flesh of any capitalists, social climbers, rotten hypocrites, and cop callers in the vicinity, so get out of their fuckin way!

FCCs: T2, T3, T4, T6

Ramleh – ” The Great Unlearning” – [Nashazphone]

atavist   9/3/2019   12-inch, A Library

Ramleh have been honing their craft, off and on, for 37 years. When the band reformed in 2009, they set out to work in both the power electronics sound typical of their early days and with a more straight-up bass-guitar-drums rock sound. With this double LP we hear a variety of sounds: droney electronics, straight-up noise rock, indignant vocals with understandable lyrics, fuzzed out drum machines, and meandering guitars. Despite this eclecticism, Ramleh manage to carry a sonic theme throughout. (The lyric themes and the track titles—Futureworld, No Music For These Times, Your Village Has Been Erased—are easy enough to thread together.) The sound trends dark but isn’t unrelentingly dark. Favorite tracks: D3, D1, A1

A1. Big, oceanic synth sounds and textures. Brooding bass portends doom. Drums provide a light touch. Instrumental. Towards the middle of the track, things start to pick up. Tempo, guitar complexity. This long track is somewhat different from the rest of the album, but again, there are sonic themes, a mood in the sound, that can be traced throughout.

B1. Driving drums and bass. Vocal element. “Virus synths”. They take a theme and ride it hard, which is perhaps another way of saying it’s borderline repetitive. Towards the ends there’s a bit of a freak-out noise break-down.

B2. Thick ascending/descending synth part reminiscent of Recognizers. Digital big brother perhaps? Guitar wanders in and out, but the synth drone is predominant, especially in the beginning. Instrumental.

C1. Pretty conventional-sounding rock song, complete with cowbell. (!)

C2. Ominous synths with barked vocals, a soundtrack for civil disorder and the unravelling of society. The shortest track on the album by a long-shot.

C3. They kind of jam this one out a little harder. Instrumental. Very rock and roll with dash of noise; has some psychedelic leanings, though to be sure, this is a borderline bad trip.

D1. Doomy beginning, heavy. Vaguely like early Swans. Contains the one FCC on the album (shit). After a solo vocal phrase, there’s a rousing finish. Probably my favorite track on the record.

D2. Synths and drum machines return. Spare at points. A pretty guitar sound swoops in and comes as a bit of a surprise given the pervasive atmosphere of the album.

D3. A heavy rocking piece to close this out. Thick, overdriven bass, layers of delicate guitar work. Epic, suffused with feeling, such disappointment at the way things have gone. Ultimately the song exhorts us to change course; “it’s never too late”.

Malignant – “Purity Through Putrefaction” – [Maggot Stomp]

atavist   8/31/2019   A Library, CD

Malignant are a Southern California-based band delighting in the sonic terrorization of late 80s/early 90s death metal. They don’t stray far from the genre, and why should they? Pummeling drums, crushing guitar, raw-edged bass, and you can just make out the lyrics of abomination, torture, torment, and blasphemy.

The first track is completely unlike the rest. It starts out with some pretty basic synths—a simple bass synth pattern with higher dee-yoo sounds (like something falling to the ground in a video game). Then a cinematic, orchestral swell comes in that’s quite beautiful and had me wondering where it came from. Are they sampling something from a soundtrack? No one in the band takes credit for playing keyboards, and certainly not for arranging an orchestra (or sampling a horror movie score), so it remains a mystery until the internet reveals otherwise.

The table is set for a death metal onslaught. Tracks 2 through 5 are pretty consistent, but 2 and 5 in particular stand out. Track 2 drops with pure ferocity and a satisfying groove before embarking on the fast-tempo assault. Track 5 brings the evil up a notch. To echo my comment about consistency, tracks 3 and 4 are certainly worthy specimens as well. If I have a nitpicky comment, the bass sound is quite good in the mix, but the moments where everyone except the bassist stops playing while the bass continues solo aren’t sharp enough and interrupt the flow of the tracks. However, overall the instrumentation is tight, and Malignant maintain a high level of fidelity to their chosen genre. You will want to spit your disgust at the world. Death Metal cannot die.

Paysage d’Hiver – “Kerker” – [Kunsthall Produktionen]

atavist   8/31/2019   12-inch, A Library

The genre of Paysage d’Hiver according to The Metal Archives: Black Metal, Ambient. Paysage d’Hiver is Winter Landscape in French, and as the project is based in Switzerland, the album title, track titles, and lyrics are in German. This release, Kerker, or Prison, was originally released in 1999, and Kunsthall Produktionen has re-released it 20 years later on vinyl with fine packaging. This recording warrants a 20th anniversary. Painted with a seemingly limited palette, the arrangement of these spare elements combine to suggest a story over the course of four tracks. Elements contrast each other and occupy different sonic regions so that they are clearly discernible. It’s at once despairing and beautiful, primarily a richly textured dark ambient piece, with the last track being the closest to conventional black metal; even so, the sounds throughout are much rounder than the grit and abrasion of the most caustic black metal recordings.

A1. “Depth”. In the rumblings, the stirrings of monolithic subterranean beasts who walk in the endless night, disturbing slumbering caverns. Finally, guitar sounds resolve. Is this a ray of light in this dread catacomb? When it falls into naught, the beasts prowl undaunted. This first track blends into the second…
A2. “Steps” …which starts with a new percussive element. Their dark works accelerate unimpeded. Synths build. Glimmers of light, ephemeral, beauty has returned to do battle with the dark beasts. Guitar returns to cry into the darkness, mournful, all is lost. But the rhythmic machine passes. The beasts and the light, flickering, remain. At the conclusion, a voice emerges, confused? Tormented? Rumblings like wind, an ether, a permeating medium through which souls pass. A slow fade to oblivion leads to an abrupt end.
B1. “Shadow”. The rumblings return. Here, little alters this minimal landscape for some time, and new patterns emerge only gradually. Pulses punctuate the rumbles. Ethereal light glimmers in the unrelenting dark. That voice returns, to be overwhelmed by a new malevolence…
B2. “(Passage/Course)” …a master of darkness. In this concluding track, a driving drum machine is buried in the din of the guitar. Still the glimmering light of the synth flitters across the surface while the beastly voice prowls the sonic depths. Guitar and drums cut through the middle. It’s like the beast and the light are in the room with you an the guitar and drums are heard through a wall. The lyrics might mean, “Is this the life course? Immersed in my inner self, I am bound in the time of the universe, I go the slender course about the knowledge of the shadows”. A satisfying dissolution provides a conclusion.

Peals – “Walking Field” – [Thrill Jockey]

Dangerous Dan   8/28/2019   A Library

Cerebral and shimmering instrumental music from William Cashion (Future Islands) and Bruce Willen (Double Daggers). Accented by toy pianos, keyboards, tambourines. No base or drums. All of the percussive sounds were created by microphones and guitars. This is a throwback to 1970’s German ambient scene.

Black Dog/Goddess Aphonic [coll] – [Monastic Discharge]

atavist   8/27/2019   A Library, Cassette

Black Dog: Filthy vocals, bass buzzes like malevolent electrical wire. Lo-fi production boosts the raw subversion. The mix favors the vocals over the instruments, so turn it up and have Gollum screaming in your ear.

Goddess Aphonic: the quest to meld heavy with saxophone continues. Driving, insistent rhythm section. Snarling bass. The sax carries the main melody with descents into the skronks and shrieks common when a sax is pushed into the red. The sax is maxed out in a way that you can feel the air rattling around the inside the brass. Occasionally, some strangled vocals are forced through the chamber.

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