KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Twin Trances – “Chains EP” – [Dirty Slacks]

Brian Damage   11/7/2022   10-inch, A Library

If there was ever a record that was destined to get blasted out of the rolled-down windows of a primer grey ’68 Chevelle, that record would be this one from Twin Trances, an Atlanta duo made up of two men both named Chris.

Chains is a 4-song 10″ EP of lo-fi, dirty scuzz-rock that gets in, does its business, and gets out. There’s distorted git, keys, drums, and vox, all recorded on a boom box in the next room. This is music to commit petty crimes by.

This is literally the soundtrack to mailbox baseball.

The killer track is “The Angel,” which sounds like a cover of a 70s Bad Company song, but I can’t place it. If it’s an original, then Twin Trances definitely are hiding some serious songwriting chops in the shed out back where they make the noise that sustains them.

Other than the absolute worst cover art that I have seen in decades, Chains has a lot to recommend it.

Coz The Shroom – “Bum Henry Adams and Craig Stewart’s Prince” – [SPASMS Cassettes / Emperor Jones]

Brian Damage   11/7/2022   12-inch, A Library

Coz the Shroom is the nom de tune of Shahrom Hawley, a singer/songwriter who was part of Austin’s Cassette Underground culture in the 1980s and early 90s. Owner of a microphone, an electric guitar, and a practice amp with its distortion knob permanently cranked to 10, Coz wrote, improvised, and recorded a seemingly endless stream of music in the mid- to late-80s.

He was a contemporary of Daniel Johnston – but Daniel skimmed the edge of the mainstream, and Coz didn’t. Local cassette labels SPASMS and Emperor Jones each issued several Coz releases in the 80s, but Coz seemed to be more prolific than these labels’ ability to get them out. Each release was put out on a C-90 tape (47 minutes per side) and Coz would fill the A side, and the B side was left blank for whatever the purchaser wanted to put on there.

This is a compilation on vinyl from six of Coz’s releases from 1987-89, supposedly cleaned up and mastered for this reissue. I say supposedly, because the quality is ultra lo-fi, likely never great to begin with, and degraded by time and duplication.

The music is classic 80s cassette underground weirdo – one listen, and either you will get it or you won’t. This being KFJC, this is very likely right up your alley. As far as individual tunes go, the titles give the content away — no obtuse titles here. If you choose “Destroy All Monsters,” that song is going to sound exactly like you think it would.

And the name? He wanted “a cool nickname like Captain Beefheart,” so he gave himself one.

A future KFJC Klassic.

Savage Republic – “1938 / Siam” – [Mobilization Records]

Brian Damage   11/7/2022   10-inch, A Library

If you don’t know Savage Republic, you should. True industrial pioneers, this LA band got their start in 1982 and have proceeded by fits and starts in the four decades since.

They issued the 1938 LP in 2007, and when on tour in 2019, stopped by Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studios to re-cut two of the tracks from that record. The result is a noticeably harder and even more impactful sound than on the previous LP.

Limited to an edition of 500, and pressed on a silver vinyl 10″, this seems tailor-made for KFJC deejays and listeners. Note the inscription in the runout groove on side A.

Recommended.

Endino, Jack – “Set Myself On Fire” – [Capacitor Records]

Jay Omega   11/7/2022   A Library, CD

The latest solo installment from Jack Endino of Seattle/Grunge fame. In Endino’s words, “It’s super crunchy rock”. Notice the term Grunge is not present. The backing band is his Earthworm band, plus Skin Yard/Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin. Contains elements of metal, punk, and psych, but these are rock songs for rockers, so rock on!

Zolder Ellipsis – “Entropy Override” – [Lizard Records]

Jay Omega   11/3/2022   A Library, CD

Genre blending music from Tom Aldrich. Prog, jazz, jazz fusion, psychedelic, space, avant-garde, metal, modern classical, atmospheric, free jazz, it’s all here. It was supposedly highly influenced by Frank Zappa’s “Civilization: Phaze III”. I can hear the Zappa influence, but this is not Frank Zappa. The longer tracks are more challenging and may require multiple listens to appreciate. The shorter tracks are generally more accessible, though tracks 3 and 5 are fairly avant-garde.

Craig Gets ReanimatedProg-Jazz-Fusion. The music is like a cubist painting, switching from one view to another of an underlying musical theme. Challenging, but worth the effort.Zap GunProg-metal. A fun track that you can tap your toe to from start to finish. Short (1:33), but long enough to be fulfilling. Play if you want to sample the fringe of the metal domain without summoning any demons. Very accessible.Q+AAvant-garde. Zappa-esque. Drum and keyboard vignette.Imperial EnlightenmentProg-Free Jazz-Modern classical. Fairly abstract. Again, challenging but worth the effort.Magnetic ObjectsAvant-garde. Short vignette with Keyboard and vocalizations.Android Coronation BallProg-jazz fusion. Starts, Ends, and revisits the same ponderous depressing movement. Attempts are made to transcend through a cacophonous maelstrom into upbeat, or even funky grooves, only to plunge back into the dark chaos. Challenging, but worth the effort.The Antidote GameAgain, multi-faceted. Atmospheric, avant-garde, Psychedelic, free-jazz, fusion, space. There’s even, in my opinion, an homage to Mahavishnu Orchestra.In The HoleIt’s the savasana yoga track that will restore your mind after completing the technical challenges of this album. If none of the other tracks float your boat, then this track is for you.

Hauras – “Chant For A Broken Chalice” – [DECAYCAST RECORDS]

whngr   11/3/2022   A Library, CD

Roiling atmospheric compositions exploring the human mind at the end of civilization.. 

Inverted electronics, droning guitars, inebriated pulses, hesitant keys, quiet pitch shifted voices, sparing minimal percussive passages, delay, and an array of effects impart a slightly lonely feeling of contemplation. Disparate track lengths and oblique tangents feel like chapters in a story. Like an old man puttering around his apartment looking for reminders of what he was doing, repeatedly checking if he had locked the door, and refilling the cat’s water dish… His best years are long behind him but the dementia keeps him occupied. He’s never bored, there’s always something he forgot… and something to remember. Sure, he’s slowed down a bit over the years, but it seems like he’s just adjusted to the natural flow of time. He barely remembers when he had to fight against it, now he just leans back and lets time carry him to tomorrow… and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that… it’s easy.

Palette is Grey, Eggshell, and dilute Prussian Blue.

Hauras is one Howard Ryan whose alias translates to “fragile” in Finnish and hails from…

Oakland/San Francisco- 2021

Ekin Fil – “Dora Agora” – [Helen Scarsdale Agency]

whngr   11/3/2022   12-inch, A Library

Quiet, drifting, chords sustain a somber rhythm, distant and personal… with echoes. 

Floating on gentle waves, veins filled with opium, every note a caress of the eardrum, a whisper on the neck, every change soft and welcome. A siren song for the sleeping hero. The album begins with an instrumental track, stabbing sadly at single notes on her keyboard before the first dulcet chord swells into being. On the next track meandering keys bloom as gentle, non-lexical vocalizations begin to weave like a spirit through a somber afternoon in the living room overlooking a windswept beach before the more structured and haunting lullabies coalesce (track 3 “ghost boy”) Simple repetitive strums of acoustic guitar provide structure as lilting atmospheric textures sail by… Heavy eyelids fall, we abandon consciousness, and slip into a purring netherworld of beautiful loss.

Ekin Fil returns to the acoustic guitar of her debut album on a soaring journey through the billowing dreams of slumbering giants. At times a distant memory might float into our awareness or perhaps a forgotten song from childhood… Do I know this song… why don’t I remember the chorus? Do I know this language? Does it matter? Does anything matter? I hear stripped down Beach House, Grouper with vaporous hooks. Mother whispers her vow of unconditional love as doctor takes the pain away.

Ekin Fil is one Ekin Üzeltüzenci, a Turkish multi-instrumentalist who performed vocals and keyboards in the post/-/punk synth/-/rock project Proudpilot (probably defunct but soon to be entering our library). Üzeltüzenci scored the 2017 films Kaygi (Inflame) and Körfez (Gulf), as well as Hayaletler (Ghost) in 2020, is one of my favorite discoveries as yet through kfjc, and is otherwise cloaked in mystery.

Istanbul – October 7, 2022

Merciless Savagery – “Demo 2020” – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

whngr   11/3/2022   12-inch, A Library

Ugly tirades of brutality from this wicked female USBM two-piece with morose synth bookends on both sides. 

Raw Black Metal in the vein of the old school (Bathory, Witchcraft [Fin], and Sodom) with both sides unleashing the same viscera dumping material, with the exception the closing track of side A “Imperator’s Sceptre” which is not present on the B side (but will still evacuate your organs), which is comprised of recordings from rehearsal that sound equally as polished, effective, and vicious as the A side. Though this LP lacks attention to recording quality it excels in the delivery of tight as fuck, carnal ferocity from both members, like a decapitated head of man held aloft in triumph, rivulets of blood coursing down the heathen arms of the victorious, eyes ablaze in fury.

Merciless Savagery is C.C. Bone Crusher (drums) and Hellbitch Kommando (guitar, vox) who was also responsible for much of the artwork for the band. I am particularly fond of the cover art for the original digital release which shown below and on Encyclopedia Metallum.

Houston, TX – 2022

Fri Som En Fagel / Filthy Christians [coll] – [Armageddon]

whngr   11/3/2022   7-inch, A Library

Swedish Hardcore punks negotiate ferocity, blast beats, the disenfranchisement of youth, and a spray of cynical humor with alacrity and aplomb.

Fri Som En Fågel… translates to “Free as a Bird” which is surely an allusion to the avian imagery that G-anx would employ in their cover art and the stark, slightly sinister, and dichotomistic aspects of this 7″ is part of what drew me in to this release. The ferocity, innovation, and humor is why I shall return. 

G-Anx were a fucking great four-piece of long-hair punks with grindcore leanings from Jönköping and Huskvarna that packed it up in ’92. Raw and visceral, this is the real deal for this miserable volunteer.

Filthy Christians were a five-piece crossover project from Falun with a predilection for denim that also had a couple long-hairs in their group. Check out “Vaktmästar Jazz (Olle P)” (“Janitor Jazz [Olle P]” [B3]) for the album’s oddity which features  a couple of catchy jangly guitar interludes reminiscent of pop from the 60’s or the very short “Skate And Die” (B6), a nihilist ode to my preferred rolling toy of doom, destruction, and delight. Of special note is the track “Another Metal Band” (B5) which relates (via the thorough liner notes evocative of the era) a tale of a Hardcore band that rejects their roots to explore the often absurd Satanic fantasy realms of Death Metal… which is exactly what Filthy Christians would do not long after this release. What a bunch of fucking clowns… I love it!

Sweden – 1988 

Suzi Moon – “Animal” – [Pirates Press Records]

Terra Incognita   11/2/2022   12-inch, A Library

The Los Angeles punk scene has been Suzi Moon’s creative playground for some twenty years, and this album reflects that. Suzi Moon’s Animal is straight-up L.A. punk rock, with the sheen of cover up, the smell of perfume, and the glitz of sequined leopard print. It is familiar and catchy, high-energy rock ‘n’ roll.

Suzi Moon, aka Suzi Homewrecker, who relocated to Washington D.C., has played in the all-girl punk bands Civet (guitar, vocals) and L.A. Machina (bass) and fronted the power trio Turbulent Hearts (vocals, guitar). When the pandemic hit, she decided to funnel her energy into a solo project. Animal is the second of two EPs, followed by a more recent full LP, she has since released as Suzi Moon (released by Pirates Press Records in April 2022).

On this album Suzi Moon sings and plays guitar, with Drew Champion on lead guitar, Patti Bo on bass, and Sean Peterson on drums. Each of the three tracks has a different feel, and Suzi Moon adjusts her vocal style to the material. The first two tracks (“Sonic Attraction” and “Animal”) have variation and drive, with rockin’ guitar riffs flavored with feedback and melodic leads contrasted against low-end floor tom action and bass. The vocals are infused with sultriness and edged with a subtle Joan Jett gruffness. The title track, “Animal,” showcases Suzi Moon’s ferocity, playfulness, and versatility. It is perhaps the least commercial sounding of the songs and also the only one with FCCs. “Gold Record Autograph” is straightforward pop punk with clean, sugar-coated vocals and harmonized backup vocals.

Personally, I’d like to hear more of that rawness that Suzi Moon unleashes live on stage, but she tends toward the controlled, well-produced, warm, power-pop sound. This neon yellow 12” EP provides a decent picture of the band’s fluorescence and potential.

Helm “Axis” [Dais]

atavist   11/1/2022   A Library

Glitchy electronics and sampled acoustic sounds, twittering, quivering. Lots of smoky gauzy echoing sounds adrift in the mist, offset by start/stop drumbeats. Dreamy, atmospheric passages, as in track 3, “Crash”. Half-drowsy, half-anxious loops. Clangy percussive elements appear, borderline industrial, but never overwhelm the mix, maintaining the uneasy sleep. The last two tracks are a bit longer and ratchet the uneasiness, just so. Helm is Luke Younger, who grew up in East London listening to pirate radio, recording sounds of all kinds with a basic tape recorder, and gravitating towards electronic music. He’s been fairly prolific since ~2008, and this is the fifth Helm addition to the library.

LEMAT – “Ensemble of Organic Amazement Vol 1 and 2” – [Half Shell Records]

sam   10/31/2022   A Library, CD

LEMAT is a loose collection of artists wandering around the world as the whim strikes.  As they traipsed through Mexico, Germany and the US, they recorded the tracks found on this album.  Originally released as two EPs, both releases are collected on this CD.

15 artists are listed as contributing to the project, but the core seems to be drums, one or two guitars, and “vocals”, with other instruments contributing on an occasional basis on certain tracks.  Described as a “multi-ensemble project of psychedelic rock, freak folk and experimental music”, LEMAT tries to be several things at various times.

Swirly poppy chords with a torrent of various vowels at various pitches would be the best description I could come up with.

Track 9, “Rednaw”, is basically Track 1, “Wander”, backwards.

Messer Chups – “Visiting The Skeleton In The Closet” – [Guitaracula Records]

carsonstreet   10/31/2022   A Library, CD

Messer Chups is a surf rock band from Saint Petersburg, Russia. They have also been described as an experiment band. The group was formed in 1998 by composer and guitarist Oleg Fomchenkov. Visiting the Skeleton in the Closet was released March 15, 2022. Surf twang, spooky themes and just plain great surf music. Some vocals but mostly instrumental.

Sula Bassana – “Nostalgia” – [Sulatron Records]

carsonstreet   10/31/2022   A Library, CD

In the 20th year of Sula Bassana’s career he has released Nostalgia. Nostalgia is songs composed and recorded from 2013 to 2018 but finished during the last few years. The last overdubs and vocals recorded in 2019 to 2021. After some more electronic orientated albums, this one is more in the style of the rock orientated albums like Dreamer, The Night, Dark Days or Live At Roadburn 2014. The first two tracks include vocals which is rare on Sula Bassana albums. The title track features Mellotron, pure fuzz and has a jazzy side. All psych all the time.

Wo Fat – “The Singularity” – [Ripple Music]

carsonstreet   10/31/2022   A Library, CD

Texas-sized psychedelic blues doom. They describe their music as “swampadelic visionquest of overdriven, fuzz-laden riffage and jazz-minded jam explorations”. Wo Fat has gained a reputation as one of the premier US Stoner Metal bands. Starting with The Gathering Dark in 2006, they have stayed true to the deep, dark blues that wails from within. During the last few years, Wo Fat have made appearances a number of iconic festivals in Europe and the US, including Roadburn Festival, Freak Valley Festival, Psycho California Festival, Sylak Open Air Festival, Desertfest Berlin, Desertfest London, Maryland Doomfest and Stoned Meadow of Doom. In summary – heavy and fuzzy.

Tex and Foley – “Slythoar and Pierre” – [TacoRatSATX]

karma   10/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

Just in time for spooky season, a journey through a haunted house! Foley draws from his experience in radio drama and immersive theatre (Sleep No More) to create this immersive album. This is a blursed combination of Five Nights at Freddy’s and A Prairie Home Companion. Fun for anyone who misses the good old days of radio drama!

Parashi – “Vinegar Baths” – [Carbon Records]

karma   10/26/2022   A Library, CD

Parashi is Mike Griffin. He has performed in a few bands, including Sky Furrows, whose self-titled album enjoyed recent glory on the KFJC hit list (Foreign Cities is my anthem). Vinegar Baths is based on improvisations with the 6-string bass and tape manipulation – the (unintelligible but powerful) vocals and guitar were added later. Unlike the lyrically dense and frenetic Sky Furrows, this album is a subdued soundscape that transports you to an open field somewhere in upstate New York. My favorite track is “Winding Song,” where Griffin lets his guitar technique and skilled vocals lead.

XEREX – “XEREX Meets Dracula” – [No Part of It]

puplaif   10/26/2022   A Library, CD

Who is Xerex? They’re described as “an anonymous musical project by brothers Karl & Jan from rural Jesse Germany. They’re conjoined twins who also happened to have been grown in a petri dish as elderly mathematicians in 1972.” This album is their first “invisible story” in the spirit of choose-your-own-adventure-style novels. Here is the adventure I chose: 

It all starts with a bidding welcome from Dracula. From there, I enter the cathedral to the sound of the echoing pipe organ. Church bells begin to ring, summoning others to join the trance inducing ambiance. Tracks fade with a breath of silence between them. Along the way I encounter electronic whirrs, insect like chirps, and what sounds like a small boat’s motor sputtering as it churns towards port. The adventure is at times pulsating, in other moments it meanders. I let it wash over me like a warm embrace. 

Dorji, Tashi & Ibarra, Susie – “Master of Time” – [Astral Spirits]

Max Level   10/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

Two intensely focused side-long duo pieces recorded live at an art museum at Skidmore College in 2019. Tashi Dorji plays electric guitar in a constantly interesting percussive (as opposed to melodic) style, using various unorthodox techniques. Drummer/percussionist/bandleader Susie Ibarra is in top form, sometimes adding colorful percussive accents to the guitar sounds, at other times taking the lead and giving Dorji a solid rhythmic bed to explore. Wonderful musical dialogs going on here. These two were meant to play together.

Plus Instruments – “Februari – April 81′” – [Domani Sounds]

Thurston Hunger   10/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

Truus de Groot is Plus Instruments, still to this day and she was back in 1981 when this was issued by the
Kremlin (label). Rising today from the Netherlands on a Domani (!!) reissue. Superb art-damaged keyboard kookie cuts, it’s mostly a one-woman project, but a Sonic elder back in his Youth helps out here and there, you can hear Lee Ranaldo’s staccato vox on “Between the Wars” adding Ace Frehley rock riffs, while de Groot’s synth bubbles up over a frisky drum beat. He’s also rant-grunting on the track after that, with an old rap beat and recorded beneath a NYC manhole cover. But the album excels with Truus at the mic, is the first song a take on the “Profumo” affair? For me it is. Is “Rush Hour” an instro-homage to Neu? For me it is. “Things” has toy piano over dingey synthy beats, moments later that sweetness dissolves into the sweaty panic of “Freundschaft.” “Cannot” comes with no safe word, great whacks and bursts of sound as TdG wails her words on top. There are some songs about war on this, but I declare Truus the victor. Indeed she’s still waging weird work to this day. Like this album, aging very well!
-Thurston Hunger

PS Looks like she’s long since transplanted from Eindhoven to San Diego, it would be nice to have her come up the freakway to perform live on air soon. Stir in some Bosko too!

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