KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Eight Bells – “Legacy of Ruin”

carsonstreet   5/31/2022   A Library, CD

Eight Bells is from Portland, Oregon. Legacy of Ruin is their third album. Beautiful vocals and melodies hanging over prog like fretwork. ’70s rock from Pink Floyd to Hawkwind are obvious influences. Pitchfork says: “Dual vocal lines emanate from some unseen place, sometimes braided together in a conjoined plea for connection… Heartbreakingly beautiful.” This is a combination of metal, experimental and prog rock. Hot off the presses released February 25, 2022.

Centre El Muusa – “Purple Stones”

carsonstreet   5/31/2022   12-inch, A Library

Centre El Muusa is an Estonian psychedelic rock quartet founded in 2018 (previously named Centre Electronique Muusa). The project, which started as an avant-garde electronic duo of Panfilov and Brodsky in 2015, developed into a rock band, when it was joined by Erdman and Semenihhin. Gradually, the band transformed their sound from uncompromising garage krautrock to more spacious psychedelia with noticeable elements of ambient and country-rock, while maintaining their signature lo-fi approach to recording and not avoiding risks. Another great release from Sulatron Records.The cover art is Peter Max and Yellow Submarine on an extra tab.

Brandsdal, Kjetil and Warland, Thore – “Stavanger 11/12.6.2021” – [Drid Machine Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

If you were to tag this as experimental trip hop I don’t think the genre police would pull you over. The turntable has been drinking, not I. Kjetil runs this fine label (and has committed Noxagt acts on KFJC in the past) pairs up with drummer Thore Warland (Staer and Golden Oriole) and they spin out two sides that sound the way the marbled grey vinyl looks. The material is taken from the debut performance in Norway of the duo working together and is part of a new lp  series/art packaging on Drid Machine. Danceable musique concrete floor on side A gives way to a sort of Sun Ra funk eclipse on a cold meteor on the flip. Definitely more spacey on Part 2. Both sides deliver an outsider turntablism tribe vibe, with Warland not simply pummeling away on percussion (and he adds his own odd electronics). Oddly chilled and refreshing, like napping on a mortuary slab. Recommend setting your life support here to 45 rpm, but you can turn the turntables on Kjetil and pitch it down or up as the sonic spirits move you.

-Thurston Hunger

Cthonica “Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction” [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]

atavist   5/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

So cold…vocals like an icy wind that pierces all coverings. Numbed and delirious, the listener stumbles to a barren earth of jagged stones as the freeze takes over. Lo-fi drums buried in the mix like an awareness of physical harm being done, but numbed senses can’t fully feel it. The first track is an epic length of disparate parts, weirdly put together. Nihilistic death metal with black inflections gives way to a menacing atmospheric interlude gives way to home-recorded-sounding doom passages. Generally there are a lot of great tones and textures within a palette of death and decay throughout the record. Within this desolate medium, Cthonica unearth their own unique derangements. Debut double LP from 2019 by this Venezuelan project.

Bethany Curve – “Murder!” – [Kitchen Whore Records]

puplaif   5/25/2022   A Library

Santa Cruz shoegaze awakened from its slumber. Formed in 1994, this is their first release since 2004. 

Richard Millang / Guitars, Vocals

David Mac Wha / Drums

Nathan Guevara / Guitars

Lisa Dewey / Vocals

Murder! delivers a dose of hypnotic narcotic guitars and distortion, transporting you to an ephemeral dream inspired landscape. Delicate cymbals and percussive sneaker waves bring dynamic shifts and changes in pace. Vocals drift below the water’s surface, delivering oracular messages across submarine peaks. 

Submerge yourself in this subconscious driven sonic atmosphere. 

Miller, Adam – “Gateway” – [Inner Magic]

Thurston Hunger   5/24/2022   A Library, CD

Clean gentle guitar instros that feel from a different planet than Miller’s work with The Chromatics. Volume pedal fades, some very chill reverb, and occasionally a ringing flanging. Lot’s of 1-5-9 sprawls and calm apreggios. You can taste the Fender endorsement in the sound before you read it in the liner notes.
Speaking of those liners, they also mention “Gateway was inspired by true events” which makes me think
Miller went through one of the most pure and pleasant alien abductions ever. And did his captors have a mellotron on board, ask “The Painted Boy.” Music to advance masked to? Quickly though, most tracks are short… a couple felt a little like “gateways” back to Kramer-era Low, sans the pleasure/pain of vox.
-Thurston Hunger

Bunuel – “Killers Like Us” – [Profound Lore]

Terra Incognita   5/21/2022   A Library, CD

This one’s a bruiser. You can see it coming at you in slow motion, but you hesitate anyway, stunned—and then you receive the energy of the impact. You feel the thudding in your head and hear an intermittent buzzing. The swelling begins, pounding and growing, turning an angry red. The red eventually cools to blue and yellowish green. A dull ache remains. You’re left feeling disconcerted, wondering, “What happens that a good man turns bad?”

“Killers Like Us” is Bunuel’s third and most recent album (2022). This is bass-heavy noise rock. Of the 10 tracks, about half have a slow tempo and are heavy and minimal at times (Tracks 1, 5, 7, 9, 10); in these songs, the instrumentation often frames the lyrics. The other tracks are more upbeat, have a fast tempo, or turn into driving rock rampages (Tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 8).

The bass—a menacing, throbbing, dirty beast—is so heavy that it creates a strong gravitational force that the other elements might frantically struggle to escape but are always drawn back to. Bass notes are drawn out and fuzzy but can unexpectedly transform into melodic riffs. The guitar is manifested as fluttery buzzing and distorted scratchy noodling but also develops into melodic, driving riffs on the fast tracks and always with feedback and effects. There aren’t any standard guitar solos—well, maybe one. The drums are versatile: from slow, minimal beats to driving punk rock beats and even some funky beats. They’re heavy on the kick and the snare at times; the fills aren’t over-the-top but creative and nicely placed. Sometimes percussive sounds like tinkling and crumpling are added or simply replace the drums. The lyrics are mostly spoken-yelled, sometimes obstinately dragged out, sometimes half sung in an emotionally drunk tone, sometimes steeped in reverb and effects. The vocals range from despondent speaking to fantastic, guitar-matched screeching and many variations of vocal sound in between. The additional female vocals (Track 4) are melodic and haunting but forceful—an interesting opposition to the raw sound. The lyrics are composed of poetic vignettes, stark imagery, and existential meanderings (see liner notes; FCCs on Tracks 2, 6, 7). Although not mentioned in the liner notes, sounds of synth and possibly field recordings are interjected.

Bunuel, named after the Spanish Surrealist film writer and director of the 20th century, comprises the Italian musician and composer Xabier Iriondo on guitars (also in Afterhours et al.), the Italian jazz bassist and composer Andrea Lombardini (also in the Framers et al.), the Italian percussionist and composer Franz Valente (also in Il Teatro Degli Orrori et al.), and the Bay Area’s Eugene S. Robinson on vocals (also in Oxbow, Whipping Boy, et al.). Track 4 includes additional vocals by the Polish-Bay Area artist Kasia Meow, aka Kasia Robinson (also in Maneki Nekro). A trans-Atlantic collaboration, this album was recorded in San Francisco and Italy, mixed and mastered in Italy, and released by Profound Lore Records out of Canada.

Dogsflesh – “Never Give In” – [Queer Pills Records]

whngr   5/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

Anarcho D-beat Punk

A thumb in the eye socket of Magaret Thatcher, two fingers up the arse of the royals, and a long middle one to the system, these modern times, and yer mum.
Good ol’ rebellion in the vein of Antisect or Icons of Filth with a bit of echo on the vox and a tiny gob of wanking guitar. 

Incepted in 1982 by Rob Moore and sometimes known as UK82, Dogsflesh would tour with GBH, Broken Bones, and The Exploited before hanging it up in 1985… and reforming twenty years later with the bulk of the original line-up. They have gone on to release several more albums since but this one is composed of their early works (82-84).

Oi! This slab is radio friendly, ya cunt! (no FCC’s)

Staubitz and Waterhouse – “Common Metals” – [music is the Worst]

whngr   5/19/2022   A Library, CD

Gentle whirs, clicks, and bumps.

Do you hear what I hear? I hear a pocket call from someone working on the cnc at the machine shop. Quiet, minimal, and reflective, these recordings allow one to write their own story though online references have stated that these mostly unprocessed recordings were made during the pandemic and are meant to convey the monotonous sounds of isolation.

Mary Staubitz (aka Donna Parker on her solo work and has collaborated with Jessica Rylan in Secret Diary and Daniel Paul Boucher in Golden Shores among others. Collaborating with her partner, Russ Waterhouse (ex Blues Control) from their home in Rhode Island.

There Were Wires – “Somnambulists” – [Tor Johnson Records / Iodine Records]

whngr   5/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

A sprawling and intense epic that weaves through the impassioned rage and confusion of youth, around quiet passages that required patience from an audience that was expecting only vehemence, gravid swells, terse punctuation, and arriving finally at an oblique and unexpected shore, a pensive cover of an independent juggernaut. Sonic Youth’s, Tunic (Song For Karen) will surely attract the attention of many listeners as an oddity or a trifle but considerable effort has been put in to this album (both in 2003 and in 2021) that proves this was no novelty. That this polished re-release, the first on vinyl, is a commendable and worthwhile effort to mitigate the failings of a label in financial ruin and one where considerable pains have been taken to inject new life into a recording that feels modern and relevant after 20 years relegated to a shelf. 

There are many paragraphs written and interviews available that explore the band, this release, Iodine’s role in its lack of promotion, and the thoughts and feelings surrounding them for those interested in the history of this primarily unsung project, but let it be said here, in this miserable volunteer’s review, that I might not have given this album a chance in 2003 if I had heard it. I might have said something like, “This new brand of hardcore is too high-minded and erudite for me, I appreciate passion and vision over virtuosity… etcetera”. But I was interested after two songs and hooked by the end of the album… after a single listen. No small feat, being as jaded as I am.

Many of the current DJs may pan side A, favoring the meandering and (slightly) more gentle B side but this is a fully realized album, slightly disparate from the projects of their ilk, with an ebb and flow, passages, and chapters that all work together to create a cohesive tale. A sonic novella and a beautiful, if somewhat dark, snapshot of a bygone era by four young men in their prime and the label that would not let their past transgressions lie.

Karloff, Boris – “Reading Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories and Other Tales” – [Caedmon]

aarbor   5/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

Boris Karloff (whose real name was William Henry Pratt b. 1887), best known for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in the various early Frankenstein movies. Here he is the kindly British story reader of Rudyard Kipling’s well-known JUST SO STORIES. The Kipling stories here are How the Whale Got His Throat, How the Camel Got His Hump and How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin. The B side is an abridged version of Mowgli’s Brothers from THE JUNGLE BOOK. AArbor

Fila Brazillia – “Black Market Gardening” – [Pork Recordings]

aarbor   5/11/2022   A Library, CD

Fila Brazillia is the duo of Dave “Man” Mc Sherry and Steve Cobby based in Kingston Upon Hull, Yorkshire, UK who started recording together in 1990. This album is from 1996 and is among their earliest recordings on the Pork label (also based in Hull). They later started their own label called Twentythree Records. This is classic downtempo from the mid 1990’s. “Snake Ranger”[2] is wavering synths and a chorus of flutes, “Little Dipper”[3] starts off with an old-time piano sample before shifting into something more funky. “Wigs, Bifocals and Nurishment”[6] heads into disco territory. “Xique-Xique”[7] is smooth and sweet. AArbor

Bischoff, John – “Bitplicity” – [Artifact Recordings]

Max Level   5/9/2022   A Library, CD

Electronic composer Bischoff has a sound and approach all his own: It’s all about events—-‘sound’ events disrupting the silence, and ‘silence’ events disrupting the sounds. Random and non-random events occurring. There is often quite a bit of negative space in his compositions, as the performer and his gear decide in real time what moves to make next. Much interaction between man and machine takes place during live performance. Whenever I listen to Bischoff’s work, which I have spent a great deal of time doing over the past 20 years, the feeling I get is controlled unpredictability. This excellent CD contains performances recorded at Mills College in 2020-21, live with no overdubs.

Van-anh Vanessa Vo – “Three-Mountain Pass” – [Innova Recordings]

Cousin Mary   5/9/2022   A Library, CD

Vo is a Vietnamese-American from the Bay Area who is a composer and multi-instrumentalist, specializing in instruments related to traditional Vietnamese music. This album is a treat, giving us a chance to hear such things as the đàn tranh (16-string zither) and the bamboo xylophone T’rung. Selections include Vo’s compositions, a familiar piece by Erik Satie played in an unfamiliar way, and track 4 where she plays with the ever inventive Kronos Quartet. Really lovely and listenable, highly recommended.

Carney, Jeff – “Live Electronic Music” – [Lion Productions]

cinder   5/5/2022   12-inch, A Library

Recorded live in 1989 without any overdubs. Long, ambient slow knob turning and sound shifting electronics. Very much in the vein of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis & Klaus Shulze. Extended notes that intertwine and weave through like stars in light speed. Slithering synths. Sci-Fi soundtracks of the past. Mastered for vinyl by Krautrock musician and sound engineer Eroc.

Kristoff K.Roll and Espitallier, Jean-Michel – “World Is A Blues” – [Mazeto Square]

SlartiBartfast   5/3/2022   A Library, CD

World Is A Blues

“World Is A Blues” is a musical poetic journey into the lives of refugees held in the Calais internment camps put out on Mazeto-Square. This double CD musical journey is guided by Kristoff K. Roll, the French musical duo of Carole Rieussec and J-Kristoff Camps, and poet Jean-Michel Espitallier. The music here ranges between, spoken word, dance, experimental, field recordings, post psyche rock?….As much a work of poetry as it is an experimental performative experience, this beautifully packaged release lives up to the idea behind the emotionally poetic music at it’s core. Featuring multiple guest artists, “World Is A Blues” elegantly coveys the power of the collective human spirit to overcome trauma through creative expression. This release is not to miss. A 100 page poetic musical eulogy that will lead you to a side road to escape the madness, or an avenue to entrer dans la folie…

Schwob, Danielle Eva – “Out of The Tunnel” – [Innova/American Composers]

Cousin Mary   5/2/2022   A Library, CD

Danielle Schwob is the composer, arranger and recording producer for this wonderful set of music. The ensembles vary – a string quartet, trios, duo, and solos. Very lovely sounds, good energy. I think some pieces were used for dance. Remarkable compositions played by virtuoso musicians. A new (to me) modern classical composer to watch.

PGM – Instrumentation noted on back of CD

De Gennaro, Matthew – “Chuang Tzu Motherfucker” – [Soft Abuse]

karma   5/1/2022   12-inch, A Library

Matthew De Gennaro creates mostly instrumental pieces that are complimented by ambient noise. This album, released in 2013, is no exception. On first listen, this is a light, classically inspired album full of major chords and deep symbolism. A few sprinkles of dissonance (what is a B-flat doing in my A major Shangaan Dance?) hint at the deep nature of this album.

This is probably not news to the erudite readers of the KFJC blog, but Chuang Tzu is a major Chinese philosophical work, and (or?) the philosopher who may or may not have created the work. The Chuang Tzu is full of parables, analogies, and stories that illustrate the formal logic, first principles, and teachings of Taoism. The work, similar to this album, is deceptively simple and hides deep, multilayered meaning.

The first track references a parable in the Chuang Tzu (work), where Chuang Tzu (philosopher) dreams he is a butterfly. In the dream, he was so sure that he was a butterfly, but then he woke up and realized he was Chuang Tzu dreaming he was a butterfly. Or is a butterfly dreaming it is Chuang Tzu? As the track starts, the violin feels like a butterfly floating from flower to flower. The harmonics and the drawn out lower (G) string add to the dreamlike, ephemeral qualities of the song. The high pitched violin towards the end and the pauses at the end of each musical phrase make you question: are you the dreamer or the dream?

Pip Proud was a singer-songwriter who seems to be part of the 1960s Australian counterculture, which I am now realizing had to have been a thing. Listening to Pip, I get Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd vibes with a decidedly Australian twist. Pip clearly touched De Gennaro, as the second track starts with upbeat, major guitar chords that grace your ear in the same way that your favorite drink envelops your taste buds. The spoken word part of this song seems to have been recorded in a particularly echoey high-school gymnasium. Other tracks that are tributes includes “Bells for Mompou” (with the chord sequences invented by Catalan composer Federico Mompou) and “Shangaan Dance” (a slowed down version of African dance music).

“Alley Violinist” references a poem by Robert Lax, also described as deceptively simple. The main theme of the poem is the question of whether one should sacrifice personal comfort for others’ happiness. The pausing, sometimes grating violin shows how De Gennaro grapples with finding an answer.

The next few tracks seem to take a break from the parables, but track 6 references the book of Amos in the Bible. Just as one can use a weighted string to determine if a building is level, one can also use their moral compass to stay on the straight and narrow. The low bass viol (I too thought it was a cello) symbolizes the introspection and grounded thinking that is needed when comparing your actions to your plumb line.

I expected to like this album, but not to love it this much. Like the Chuang Tzu, I will be coming back to this album many times to see what new meanings I can glean.

Permanenet Clear Light – “Cosmic Comics” – [Sulatron Records]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   A Library, CD

Permanent Clear Light is often referred to as Finland’s top psychedelic group. Permanent Clear Light released their debut album, Beyond These Things, in 2014 to critical acclaim. Although Permanent Clear Light’s musical roots lie in 60’s psychedelia their sound is strictly contemporary. The trio considers the recording studio their main instrument and their sound is characterized by multi-layered instrumental work and strong melodic vocals. After a creative break, Permanent Clear Light has released its second album, Cosmic Comics, which shows that the band has travelled a long way through the spheres since their debut.

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