Music Reviews

Valvola – “Teenagers Film Their Own Life ” – [S.H.A.D.O.]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   12-inch, A Library

Italian slow-mo espionage psych. The synths
have a squishy bloopiness, that you just
can’t digitize. So quit trying…goddammit..
…and enjoy this. Lyrics sung(and swallowed)
in English over friendly, familiar melodies.
Bathed in lava lamp electronics, reversible
drums, reverbed guitars. Not a lot of frenzy
coming out of Firenze, this is a relaxorama.
“End/Exploring the City of Ghosts” clearly
stands out with some fine pan craziness.

Known in Bakersfield – “Retinal Ma Should Win ” – [Ovenguard]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Wobbly Jon Leidecker and the slightly more
sturdy Tim Meany are Known (and perhaps
feared?) in Bakersfield. Playful post-music;
less power electronics than toy noise joy.
Ring modular rhythms might woo the odd
Autechre fan or hypochondriac housewife, but
it’s more a ~wave~ album than a beat one.
A gently demented mad scientist soundtrack
for the saga of a stick-figure superhero.
Murky blurbles and a paradoxically happy
ominous taste.

Product Music – “Hooray for Human Engineering ” – [Honest-Abe Disc!]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Ripening with age like a meatball way back
behind your refrigerator comes this mix of
tradeshowstoppers & industrial inspiration.
Aimed at weary Willy Loman’s, worrisome
wives, and their beloved customers. The
embarassment of a company talent show,
amplified by awkward drama dept energy, and
captured in lyrics that are as ridiculous
as I fear they were sincere. Inspirational
industrial music, you can never have enough!
Up with People crossed with Laugh In but…
more, so much more! Scratchy authenticity
just helps tracks like “Slurp It” (w/ a
circular breathing straw solo) and the epic
Chromlox seasonal song cycle shine.

Friends of Dean Martinez – “Atardecer ” – [Knitting Factory Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Bill Elm mans the helm for FoDM, and here
his lap steel is set on stun. Leaving behind
the tumbleweeds for nebulae, the sound he
gets is galactic. Some of the chord changes
may have that syrupy sweet Bachelor Pad
flavor, but they’re cut with this flaming
disto-razor space juice. Add in a Moog that
needs exorcism, vacuum pack and ship these
cowbots straight to the heart of the sun.
“Atardecer” no es “dusk” es una supernova.
-El Hombre del Hambre

Ass Baboons of Venus – “Go Go Telescope ” – [East West Japan]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Tantic tantrum dum-dum go-go music. As catchy
as your favorite STD. Fashion king husband
and helium queen wife dote over their child,
the drum machine. Unlike their Stingy Banana
releases, most lyrics here are in Japanese
but the titles tell the story pretty well.
Stupid, silly sexy with a banzai scream.
This is mangled musical manga. Cartoon tunes
that rawk! A great blend of punk and enka?’
Where’s the work-out video that ought to
accompany this? When will they star in the
remake of “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father?”
Don’t miss ’em live. Hunger-san

Mile Wide Grey, the – “Superior ” – [10 Gev Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Local SLACkers, slap happy apathy rock. Noise
pop from THE underground. The Mile Wide Grey
is guitar/vox and drums humming w/ plenty o’
reverb particles. Looking-down-a-staircase
guitar lines with plenty o’ tasty overdubs.
T-shirt and jeans vocals often bolstered by
treated background choruses (whispersville
on #5, answering machine style on #1,#3,#7)
#9 is sad like the HAL-9000 singing “Daisy”
#11 is a linear accelerator solo live-mic.
Quantum radio activity. -Aunt Bea Factory

Family Fodder – “Savoir Faire : the Best of ” – [Dark Beloved Cloud]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Lethally good retrospective of art-damaged pop
and art-brut instrumentation. A stunningly
diverse collection of tracks (#2 John Carpenter
vibe, #4 the happy nihilist’s anthem!!!, #7 a
Blondie cover that warps into a kiddie sing ‘n’
mumble, #9 dub-wise astral projection, #16
jaunty accordion love triangle) A mix of male
and female vox, I think the line-up was like
an ever-shifting commune. Overall as twisted
and as tasty as a box of licorice.
Family Fodder is the Motherlode!

Tin Hat Trio – “Memory Is An Elephant ” – [Angel/Emi Classics]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Local trio with an intriguing combination of
violin, accordian and acoustic guitar. Carla
Kihlstedt has a musical midas touch for me,
any project she is in is solid; often w/ her
solos as the highlight. Lightning heartbreak
and pizzicato pensiveness on violin…emotive
w/o ever being sappy. Rob Berger on accordion
provides dizzy doppler runs. Mark Orton rounds
out the Hat-trick, his slappy, bouncy guitar
took me a while to warm to…but effectively
he’s covering both melody and percussion.
There’s a hint of an art-cafe soundtrack vibe
here, but generally Kihlstedt’s darker edge
slices that up. Last piece has an interesting
denouement, a sort of music box melody reprise,
some silence and this overpowering operatic
vocal ominence. A unique release.

Big Breakfast – “Why Do You Touch Things That.. ” – [Shrimper]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Sassiness-on-a-stick pop out of the Inland
Empire. Smart-ass lyrics and big-ass hooks add
up for some brain-crackin’ mock ‘n’ roll. I
almost think this was written w/ the TV on, as
Ricki Lake, Cornholio, Little House on the
Prairie and the phrase “now you’re working
you’re working your quads…all right!” pop
up in various songs. Boy meets girl vox (like
High School Yearbook Editors mocking the Pep
Squad) over jangle-quirk guitars, happy drums
and some simple synth. Cut first period, so
you don’t skip your Big Breakfast.

Monaural – “Monitor Interference ” – [Ba Da Bing]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Electronic stony drifters, from wind-swept
loping-camel beats, through dubwise Chain
Reaction slo-mo rides, aroung the horns of
Scorn and winding up in an open hovering
space, at the gates of alt.heaven. Yet again
connections to post-rock Tortoise territory.
Ironically titled band (plenty of stereo
headphonery here) with not a lot of info
on them, I believe Scott Zacharias is a
Detroit DJ. Most cuts come with their own
built-in cross-fade tracking from one to
the next, so count on a slow pot-down. All
instro w/ some sampled voices at times. Nice
reply to their amazing “Harmonic”

Black Tape for a Blue Girl – “As 1 Aflame Laid Bare By Desir ” – [Projekt Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

The flagship band for the Projekt label, each
guided by Sam Rosenthal. Drippingly lush
production, like wax on an antique candleabra
Stately paced pieces featuring resonant male
and female voices. Some sweet stinging
strings on pieces, flute whispers here and
there as well. Gossamer use of synth helps
keep this pretty and pure, often it’s just a
deep dark rumble. Vocals (Sam, Oscar Herrera
and Julianna Towns of Skinner Box) are very
dramatic, lyrics inspired by Marcel Duchamp
range from opium-eyed romance to dead-eyed
desolation. The last track is a lengthy soul
abandoning the body drone.

Hooker, William – “Distance Between Us, the ” – [Knitting Factory Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

An exercise in parallel construction, or a
reverse hurricane…the center of this album
is anything but calm. Track four is nearly
19 minutes of swirling frenzy: dizzy horn
harmonies at first dissolve into a pretty
dense free soup of solos, piano gusts and
Wiiliam’s kinetic aesthetics. A definite
E-ticket ride, moving out from there track
5 swings more, a piano pouncing romp. Still
pretty wild. Rock-or-rollers note #3 and #6
dueling versions of Patti Smith run through
a Sonic Youth accelerator and rebuilt here.
I prefer the latter, but look out for many
a false end there. Track 2 is a rhapsodic,
piano + drums spritzer. The book-end pieces
are William solo, the first a hum-and-drum
mantra; on the closer he let’s the drums
speak for themselves.

Stru Tural – “Triumphant Return of Amsted… ” – [Ixchel]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Living Kennedy’s (brothers Dan & Pat) are at
the center of this SF band w/ solid singing,
favoring harmonies over histrionics. Plenty
of rough riffage, and well-roasted production
Flavorful peppy poppy rock that’d make pappy
proud(& maybe make Helen Keller Plaid?) The
limelight could blanch these guys, here’s
hoping their idiosyncracies can mushroom in
the dark with KFJC for awhile longer, and
not get cleaved off by some suit w/ a degree
in Rock 101. I recall ’em as pretty scrappy
last year live on Beyond Room 222. Last
track stops at -3:00 minutes, then there’s
a bonus drifty ditty at -1:41

Rebound Volume I I I [coll] – [Secretly Canadian]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   7-inch, A Library

Six-shooter e.p. 5 parts pop, one part beats
1) swearing at motorists – sounding nearly as
good as the band they did sound for.
See track 3 below. NOTE : false ending.
2) Marmoset – geeky with a faint hint of dub?
3) Guided By Voices – from the vaults straight
to the top of the charts. Why isn’t GbV
bigger than the Who. Why? InstAnthem.
4) To Rococo Rot – For me this sounds like
the sound bed for a Devo cover of Gloria
5) Bill Ding – A lanky number with acoustic
guitar harmonics for the self-doubter in
us all. Too bad Bill Ding collapsed.
6) Hood – More rain-streaked bleak too-weak-
-to-speak sad pop. A gem, complete with
the sound of the singer’s girlfriend’s
train pulling away as she leaves him
All ready for plenty of plays

Air Traffic Controllers – “Assistant to the Assistant ” – [Parallelism]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

New York duo’s 3rd self-issued release
starts off by hawking a loogie in the face of
corporate first-track loading, with a silent
first song. Shortly thereafter the silence
is shattered…again and again. Guitarist
Gerard Cosloy, from the no pain, no sustain,
no gain school crosses Major Stars with minor
riffs…that lock in and repeat like hornets’
nests. Lots of overdubbing about the head
and ears. New Zealand/Yorker Claire Pannell’s
random drumming seems over-matched much of
the time…perhaps if it were mic’d a little
better, it would seem more emotive and less,
uh, limp. But Cosloy’s the focus here, his
feedfreak-backout guitar and sonar-sweep
effects guarantee an unsafe flight.

Victor Dimisich Band – “My Name Is K ” – [Medication]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Okay so Victor Dimisich is not a guy, well at
least not a guy in this band…he might be a
postman or Native Waiter down in New Zealand.
This is archival music sharing a family tree
with The Terminals and Scorched Earth Policy.
Like the latter, this is released on drummer
Peter Stapleton’s own label. Though dour and
often downbeat, these songs are remarkably
infectious…with quavering deep anthemic vox,
marching drums and scratchy guitar chords(like
a rifle loading with a click). There is an air
of insurrection here that recalls the 60’s a
helluva lot more than the 80’s when it was
recorded. The first 5 cuts were originally an
EP on Flying Nun, the rest were recorded live
by a walkman in a pitcher of ale for lo-fi
enthusiasts. Still a raw insurency bleeds thru
..thanks to deft use of the speed-up/slow-down
dynamic rock maneuver.

Long Hind Legs – “Feb 4TH – 14TH 1998 ” – [Kill Rock Stars]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Behold the Ghost of New Wave past. Preset
sins of the synthesizer, rattling guitar
chains and tortured vox wrapped around
tortured lyrics. You know, oblique lines
like “there’s no ceiling on the aquiline”
…lyrics just twisted enough to make you
think *maybe* they were cribbed from
Mallarme or some other French poet. Well,
maybe not. Actually two tracks are instros
#1- horror-at-the-skating-rink organ
#4- haunted saloon piano
This Christmas give the Cratchet child some
blue eyeshadow, Kevin O’Dante’s crusty Echo
and the Bunnymen t-shirt and this E.P.
-Thurston Humbug

Cline, Nels & Sarno, Devin – “Edible Flowers ” – [W.I.N.]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Devin Sarno, a bass drone cronie gets another rise
out of Nels Cline-guitar hero! Nels shimmerscrapes,
spelunks, incinerates, claws through his pickups,
even six-string sings to Godzilla (“Forgive” early).
Glacier fracture guitar and effects. Except for an
icy sci-fi riff in “The Moon is Your Moon”, and a
kimono-floating-on-the-water melody midway through
“Forgive” this is brashly beautiful though tuneless
turbulence. Instro brainwave harmonics — distilled
essence of rock and roll, formula free, 190 proof
guitar. A winner for Devin’s own label, check his
solo work as Crib.
Here though, it’s Nels in Excelsius!

Eno, Roger – “Flatlands, the ” – [Thirsty Ear Recordings]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Organic ambience, piano notes ripple through
waves of cello and violin. Chilled chamber
configuration. Short instro pieces that
all float connected by a rather large grey
cloud. Somber and stately, perhaps a bit
melodramatic for some. Resignation with
resonance. Like the glorious “Apollo” release
with brother Brian, here each sonic syllable
lives a nice long lingering life, no rushing
to the next bar here. No crowding chords.

Chazam & Monsieur Gadou – “Vivants ” – [Cip/Audio]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Shoot from the hip roadtrip “trios” featuring
#1 Chazam on rubbertube trombone et voice
#2 Gadou on learned and unlearned guitar
#3 the surprise partner…the sounds of
their chosen remote location!
Check the booklet, see the photos, the deter-
mined silliness, the matching coats, the loony
liner notes. It will make you love the tracks
and this project even more! The guitar is
quite varied. Chazam’s spasm-vox and trombone-
jour cover some pretty unreal estate, but the
key here is location, location, location!
This album is on the move! -Le Hunger

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