KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Peterson, J. – ‘Refusal’ – [Wonderland Media]

Lord Gravestench   2/12/2020   A Library, Cassette

Sound artist Josh Peterson runs the Force Neurotic label. This 2019 cassette release consists of two very dark 20 minute pieces. Both are rambling and disquieting sound collages accompanied by the artist’s voice reading found texts from criminal cases. The A side piece deals with murders and the B side piece concerns unsolved disappearances. The compositions have a desolate attitude, combining melancholy and eeriness in a turn somewhat comparable to the films of David Lynch. Manipulated and damaged tapes of spelunking piano and other tuneless, toylike instruments, field recordings of public places, mournful clanking, desperate scrabbling.

Peterson intones, whispers, and declaims the dry facts of an uncertain number of these sad cases. Forensics. Autopsies. Surveillance footage. Traumatised family members trying to make sense of it all. The last few minutes of side A assume the aspect of Power Electronics, as piercing and squealing electronic tones back a more aggressive, urgent vocal delivery. Subtler side B ends with peaceful field recordings from a natural spot. Is it a hopeful epilogue… or is that what it sounds like where the poor girl’s body is buried?

The scrambled cut-up texts, intimately delivered, will remind some people of recent work by Sutcliffe Jugend and Consumer Electronics, and indeed Peterson has published a book with Philip Best’s Amphetamine Sulphate press. No FCCs but some edgy stuff (postmortem description of “anal injuries”) on side A.

Grim – “Psycho Sun” – [Steinklang Industries]

whngr   2/12/2020   12-inch, A Library

Semi-solo project of Japanese avant-noise artist Kunagawa Jun of White Hospital evokes feelings of touring a sanitorium and visiting with a variety of lunatics exhibiting an array of symptoms, ailments, and behaviors. Indecipherable, unhinged mantras informed by the traditional folk music of Tibet wind through the album, sprinkled with organ and elements of musique concrete. Tribal drums interlaced with arrhythmic scrap yard percussion, haunting terrestrial melodies (A6-Radio Wave Church), electronic abstraction and alien instrumentation at times both beautiful and sad (B2- Glorious Tower), elsewhere primal and frightening (B3-Dharma), the album closes with the title track which borrows (perhaps unintentionally) from Devo’s – Mongoloid, pierces it with buried squeals of feedback as Kunagawa unspools his depiction of a mad monk losing his way upon The Path of the bodhi.
Compelling and challenging, stark and complex. Psycho Sun is raw and extemporaneous while simultaneously appearing carefully cultivated and refined. Both ritualistic and improvised, reverent and profane with an emphasis on contrast very much in line with Kunagawa’s visual aesthetic; there is beauty within the horror and a lucidity beneath the madness.

Impiety- ‘Salve The Goat: Iblis Exelsi’ – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

Lord Gravestench   2/12/2020   12-inch, A Library

Formed in 1990, Singapore’s Impiety were one of the first extreme black/death metal bands from East Asia. They are still active to this day, and still revered within the international “war metal”/“goat metal” scene. This 2017 LP from NWN! is a collection of their earliest, rawest shit: 1993’s ’Salve the Goat’ 7” (A1-A2), 1992’s ‘Ceremonial NecroChrist Redesecration’ demo (A3-B3), and 1991’s rehearsal demo (B4-B7).

Fans of the rottenest blackdeath bestiality from Canada (Blasphemy), Brazil (Impurity), Finland (Beherit), and the USA (Nunslaughter) will be well at home here. It is excellent material like pretty much everything else from this project. Be advised that A3, B3, B4, and B7 are brief intro/outro-type synthstrumentals. Elsewhere caveman grunts and howls chase compressed and lumbering walls of bass, guitar, and cymbal noise as we lurch through cleverly composed yet Metal-Blade-proof devilworship rituals. Nasty.

Freedom Satellite – Soul Samba – [Vienna Scientists]

aarbor   2/12/2020   12-inch, A Library

Jurgen Drimal and Gernot Ebenlechner are Freedom Satellite. This is their first (electronica) release from 2000 which helped launch the Vienna Scientists label. The tracks on the A side: Soul Samba and Savor are 2 of their best known tracks and well worth a play (as are the 2 on the B side). – AArbor  

KUMASI TRIO – Fanti Guitar in West Africa 1928, Vol. 1 [coll.]

aarbor   2/12/2020   A Library

These rare recordings from 1928 are some of the first ever to feature African music played on Western guitars.  Kumasi is a city in Ghana which in 1928 had an open air market and one of the first British department stores in Africa. The trio is H.E. Biney and Jacob Sam (whose real name was Kwame Asare) on guitar, and Kwah Kanta on percussion. The trio were brought to London to record 36 double-sided records. This is considered the first recording of “highlife”. For reference – Amponsah is a standard highlife song.  AArbor

GENTLE PEOPLE, THE – Journey

aarbor   2/12/2020   A Library

The Gentle People are a combination of 1990’s club culture (Electronica) and 1950s cocktails and tiki kitch (Lounge). Think sugar coated/easy listening with vocals and nostalgic cheeseballness. Their names are Dougee Dimensional, Honeymink, Laurie Lemans, and Valentine Carnelian.This is their single Journey remixed by the likes of Aphex Twin (whose Rephlex label they record on) and Hazchem. I especially recommend the remixes. AArbor

Boni, Raymond/Gilles Dalbis – Selenites: One Kenichi Dream – [Mazeto Square]

Max Level   2/11/2020   A Library, CD

Two French guys playing the soundtrack to what seems to be a dream story. Boni on guitar and harmonica, Dalbis on drums. All instrumental, very abstract, quiet and loud places, hard to tell what they are getting at sometimes. The 15-minute Track 1 starts with 3 minutes of solo drumming. Dalbis has a nice touch with the brushes. Boni’s guitar comes in gently and… eventually all hell breaks loose like you suspected it would. There are shades of Derek Bailey in Boni’s playing and he adds to that a lot of processed guitar sounds and some overdubs. He plays harmonica on Tracks 2 and 5; he has an unusual approach, that’s for sure. It sounds to me more like an accordion in a style reminiscent of Pauline Oliveros maybe? Track 3 features some flying-fingers abstract blues guitar and it’s pretty nice. Dalbis adds surprising percussive touches throughout the record. I don’t really understand the dream story–something about HG Wells and an alien civilization living inside Earth’s moon, and at some point a modern manga character shows up and does something or other. Perfect music for an oddball dream like that.

Brovold, Bill – “Stone Soup, The Michael Goldberg Variations” – [Public Eyesore]

Louie Caliente   2/11/2020   A Library, CD

All the tracks in this soup are made from the same stone: four sparse notes plucked on a clattering, slightly detuned acoustic guitar. The recording of these scattered notes was given to 12 different musicians who each add to the sound in their own way.

Brovold’s minimalist guitar work maintains center-stage through all the tracks, and most retain the drony spacey feel of the original, though all have a unique perspective. Rhys Chatham (T3) augments the guitar with meditative chants and whistles. Fred Lonberg-Holm (T4) turns it it into a kinetic blissful sun salutation. Franz Shultz (T7) adds twangy steel guitar. Karen Haglof (T10) creates soothing psychedelic explorations. Probably the most unique of the bunch is the pairing of guitar with punchy beats and percussive grinds from Leonardo ProtoPeople (T5)

The album is inspired by Bach’s Goldberg Variations (composed of an aria and 30 variations), and a folk tale wherein an entire village contributes small ingredients each to a pot that originally contained nothing but a stone, yielding a delicious soup.

The album is hand-printed and colored by Brovold.

NOISE: In Theory and Practice [coll] – [Norcal Noisefest]

lexi glass   2/11/2020   A Library, CD

This limited-run 2019 compilation was released at the 23rd Norcal Noisefest, the annual celebration of crazed cacophony that’s terrorized Sacramento every fall since 1995. Curated by noisefest mainstay Instagon, the comp features new works from the artists that performed at the 2019 event. So, of course, you’ll find strange sounds of all stripes: the layered womens’ vocals of Mourning Dove (T1), the binaural buzz of Chopstick (T3), the bright blips of Thirteen Hurts (T6), Mini Mutations‘ spoken word stream of consciousness (T7). Novacain sickens with sax, piano and a deadbeat drumbeat (T10), Seattle’s rEEk delivers strikes supplanted by silence (T13), SF’s Filthmilk has a metal breakdown (T16), Crank Sturgeon‘s trapped in a tangle of live cables (T19), while Crank Static offers some unique Valentine’s ideas for you and Your Baby (T20 – FCCs). The comp rounds out with the toasty crunch of a bowlful of Microwave Windows (T24), an easy listening FM radio station possessed by demons courtesy of Xdugef (T26); finally, Infinexhuma abandons us in the void (T27).

Vastum – “Orificial Purge” – [20 Buck Spin]

atavist   2/10/2020   12-inch, A Library

The Bay Area’s Vastum have unleashed their latest release, and it continues in the vein of their previous works, including “Hole Below” from 2015. This is considered old school death metal, and the band is frequently compared to Bolt Thrower, a band active from the mid-80s to the early 2000s. The old-school element comes from the riffs that are heavy and at times complex, but played at medium tempos that are seldom mind-bendingly fast or glacially slow. Two vocalists work well off each other: Daniel Butler and guitarist Leila Abdul-Rauf, whose distinctive vocal style can be found in other projects known to KFJC, like Saros and Hammers of Misfortune. An early favorite is Abscess Inside Us (A3). An off-kilter time signature teeters on a razor wire edge before dissolution swallows the end of the track. On its heels, the title track has a great intro, dripping with ghastly atmosphere. Generally, this record rewards a close listen, and each track has its merits. Borderline mathy/proggy structures are woven to support the overarching goal: to paint a bleak picture of shame, pain, and anguish from violence, including sexual violence. Riffs are held in check, so that the ultimate release covers the sky in darkness. To be sure, Vastum flashes the blades of previous recordings, but the cuts here are new, fresh, and deep. The haunting guitar solo in the final track crushes.

Drumwerx – "Drumwerx" – [Nosecandy]

humana   2/9/2020   A Library, CD

I know nothing about this CD except what it sounds like, and it sounds like its title. Lots of short tracks with some longer ones sprinkled in that put you in mind of being inside of a video game. A drum machine is likely the source of the frenetic, upbeat, ricocheting sounds that reverberate through your brain long after the CD is through playing. It’s always Playtime, after all! (Oh, yeah, and the band may be from Oxnard, CA.)

Allred, Joseph – "Traveler" – [Feeding Tube Records]

humana   2/9/2020   12-inch, A Library

These amazingly mellow and pretty folk tunes come to us from Joseph Allred in Boston. Allred is a master at guitar and banjo, enveloping the listener in layers of comforting acoustic notes and occasionally adding his voice to sing along. The cute illustrations of the tracks and the clever album design are in keeping with the homey feel of these tracks. Definitely in my sweet spot.

Million Brazilians – "Urban Fossickated Octave" – [Feeding Tube Records]

humana   2/9/2020   12-inch, A Library

Million Brazilians have moved to Maine where Caleb Mulkerin of Big Blood is. He did the tape loops and treatments on this album, as well as the engineering, recording, mixing, and mastering. Suzanne Stone’s alto sax is pretty great in the way it keeps the jazz feeling going amidst all the weird wonderfulness that makes this band hard to pinpoint. Grant Corum is of course on board, bringing especially interesting vocal directions to “Ectoplasm Programmed Dream (with Guide),” and Tom Kovacevic adds piano and synth at the end of Side 1. This is an almost droning, building aural experience and just right for the KFJC library.

Play The Astronauts & More, The [coll] – [Surfer Joe Music]

Cousin Mary   2/8/2020   12-inch, A Library

The Astronauts were a band from Colorado who were active in the 1960’s. Their records sold especially well in Japan and their version of Baja and other Lee Hazelwood tunes are legendary. Surf bands today still cover their music and greatly respect their musicianship. This album is an homage from two European surf bands – the Kilaueas from Germany and Surfer Joe from Italy. The tunes are faithfully rendered but with a modern European twist. Very fine playing and arrangements, this LP is very, very special.

Armagedda – “Only True Believers” – [Drakkar Productions]

whngr   2/5/2020   A Library, CD

TWR: Straight-ahead Scandinavian metal.

Pvre, hermitic Swedish black metal without frills. Cold, grim, and cvlt, all the elements of trve Nordic metal are present with notable exception being the samples culled from final episode of Twin Peaks (original series) pinned to the opening and closing of this album from 2003 and a few fleeting death and doom metal aspects (tempo changes and solos). A bonus track was tacked to the end of this release of wind howling through the trees with a meandering spooky synth. This was the second full-length release by reclusive two-man black metal outfit Armagedda which was comprised of Andreas Petterson and Stefan Sandström (A. and Graav) who haled from the secluded forests of Lapland, the northernmost county of Norrland, itself the northernmost region of Sweden; cold, desolate, unforgiving, dark for half the year. Salient as these young men were so isolated and resolute in their worship of nature that they would ultimately abandon the project and the world of men… barring the inception of Nordvis Produktion 2005, the label run by Petterson which according to interviews is considered to be more of a commune of like-minded spirits, especially their collective reverence of nature and humanity’s insignificance when compared to her power and immensity. The word that A. employs is, vast which adds a desirable element in my opinion. Although Armagedda’s sound is concertedly informed by the Norwegian forefathers of 2nd wave black metal, Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, et al. there is an element of isolation that pervades their releases. Here Andreas describes a German tour that the band left before its end:
“We were young and lived in a world which consumed us, and the other way around. As the tour progressed, I remember a mounting distance between us and the remaining bands. Another memory forever etched in my head is an evening when we found a secluded forest area where we sat down by ourselves with an old tape-recorder, just enjoying the sound of something other than people speaking German. A great relief at the time, to be sure.” – A. Petterson
With Graav retiring from music and A. distancing himself from the black metal genre this album is widely considered to be the apex of Armagedda’s form and, in the opinion of this miserable volunteer, an excellent example of devastating sonic misanthropy.

Xuxa Santamaria – Chancletas D’Oro

cadilliac margarita   2/5/2020   12-inch, A Library

Xuxa Santamaria – Sofia Cordova (born in Puerto Rico) and Matt Gonzalez Kirkland (Born in Brooklyn to a Cuban mom) met in Massachusetts during college. They have since relocated to Oakland, and this 2019 release is full of songs about revolution, colonization, feminism, climate change, politics, etc.  All over catchy, dark, mystical, shimmery beats, With Lyrics predominately in Spanish.  This has both dancefloor jams and trippy floaters.  Both Cordova & Kirkland are multidisciplinary artists, so they are responsible for all aspects from music, to lyrics, and album art. This is excellent!

Teitanblood – “Baneful Choir, The” – [Norma Evangelium Diaboli]

atavist   2/5/2020   A Library, CD

Teitanblood has been known to KFJC dating back to the Firebunker era, and their new release needed to be sought out, post-haste. This will be the third Teitanblood release to stain the library with punishing, blackened death metal. Most tracks are blistering fast and brutal, with a few cinematic interludes/intros/outros. A track breakdown follows.

1. Ominous intro, washes of sound, minimal hums and atmospheres
2. Grim, crushing heaviness starts out slowly and builds momentum
3. High speed insanity, guitars spiraling out of control, blast beat mayhem, dripping with evil
4. More mayhem, unrelenting, continuing the tradition of the spiraling, unhinged guitar solo
5. Battering ram assault
6. A segue track, or intermission; the tolling of bells in a forsaken landscape of char and ash, with electrically distorted voices and intonations
7. Continues track 6, with mad men introduced. a light touch of malevolence
8. Tracks 6,7,8 are designed to basically run together to form a piece with a total run time of 11:43. From the charred landscape, the baneful choir rises, triumphant in its purely malevolent glory. You will submit; you have been bested. Track 8 unspools in a long, deliberate, extraordinary build to an enveloping din, and fades out with keyboards and churchy sounds.
9. Enough concept, let’s pulverize!
10. Opens with a big, crushing riff. The drums are a bit less diabolically fast and the thick, filthy guitars fill the space. By the end the tempo is cranked up to full insanity once again.
11. Starts out quietly; the calm descends on glowing embers cooling into a cold, deepening darkness. Demented, a baneful choir of spectres rises.

Pierson, Dax – “Live In Oakland” – [Ratskin Records]

atavist   2/5/2020   A Library, CD

Atmospheres, blips, klangs, noisewashes, vocal samples. Beats drop in like depth charges. Soaring melodic elements establish themselves and fade. Pitches shift up and down, reeling, forms disintegrate and reform. There’s an extraordinary variety exhibited from track to track, and even within tracks. “Krafteno” brings a more traditional sequencer sound, a blend of clean synths with dirtier, grimier electronic beats and textures. The overall vibe here is insistent, present. “Macrobid” establishes hiphop beats with a droning bass track, a canvas for a variety of samples to interlace and juxtapose each other. “Memory” is a majestic cathedral-like synth piece without a drum track. “Treading Water” starts out really quietly, establishes eerie atmospherics, and then overlays audio taken from a visit to the doctor’s office, a discussion of an evolving diagnosis, until the sample becomes manipulated, repeated, mangled…it picks up a theme eluded to in the beginning, in “A Snap of the Neck”. An tour van accident in 2005 left Pierson a quadriplegic; fortunately he continues to craft these works that speak to his experience. The final track starts with a minimal rhythm and progresses into exuberant trance/techno.

Dax Pierson is well-represented in the KFJC library, mainly by his participation in the projects Themselves, Subtle, and 13 & God, projects that dance the line between hip hop and unorthodox genre-bending experimentation. This is only his second entry in the library as a solo performer; Lexi Glass reviewed the 18th Annual SF Electronic Music Festival compilation, on which his track “Live @ Life Changing Ministry” appeared.

I:CUBE – “Disco Cubizm” – [Versatile]

aarbor   2/5/2020   A Library

This is I:Cube’s  (Nicholas Chaix) 2nd release from 1996. Disco Cubizm and Listen 2 The Bass are playful, bouncy fun tracks, with a sense of humor. The Daft Punk Remix on the B side is more sober.  – AArbor  

Music For the Gods – [coll.] – [Rykodisc]

aarbor   2/5/2020   A Library

Indonesian music is more than just Gamelan! This beautiful collection aptly demonstrates this by giving you not only beautiful gamelan music, but excellent examples of other interesting instruments and vocal stylings. On track [3] slit drums or tubular bells, jew’s harp [6], a harvest song [7]. Kecak [10] a famous [monkey] dance from Bali in which the male singers chant much like a gamelan  in 8 layers of chants and the dance is choreographed to the chanting. Track [13] is Mamaca – sung poetry. AArbor

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