Atonal rock from this New York trio: Merc on guitar/ vox/beats, Kentaro on bass, and Mary on keyboards. The material is good and loud, slow-to-mid-tempo, with thick layers of keyboards washing over everything else. Everything else is: programmed drum beats, solid bass lines, and guitar that seems to be mostly fuzz-noise. I can’t make out any of the lyrics, but whatever they are Merc sings every song exactly the same way, soft and dreamy. The band calls its music ‘somewhat disorienting?, and I would not disagree with that. For example, the chord changes make no sense at all that I can determine. It all adds up to a nightmarish (but catchy in a weird way) experience. An aptly titled CD. It will gently destroy you.
aek 12/20/2005 A Library
The classic Archon Satani album – out of print for over a decade – remastered and repackaged! Archon Satani are one of the founding voices of Death Industrial, with their unique style being emulated to this day. The Swedish duo of Mikael Strav’strand (Inanna, Mitek) and Tomas Petersson (Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio) create claustrophobic, ritualistic, menacing anthems – now unleashed onto a new generation.
Th’ Faith Healers are a four piece group from Hamstead, England. They released their first single on the Too Pure label in 1990 and broke up in 1994. During their time together, they recorded five sessions for John Peel. This CD was released Nov 2005.
This CD contains the four Peel sessions that haven’t been released yet. (We have the one that is already released on a collection in A/CD called Too Pure – The Peel Sessions, which also contains Stereolab and PJ Harvey.)
Th’ Faith Healers have a great sound, playing rock that has come down with a bad case of punk. The fabled intensity of their performances comes through in these recordings.
Tom Cullinan, the songwriter and guitarist slashes and burns his way through some tracks, while on others he has more of a ‘solid wall? type of sound. The singer, Roxanne Stephen, is everything a frontwoman needs to be, funny, smart, sarcastic, and loud. The rhythm section have my respect just for keeping everything from falling apart.
My favorite track is (14) Curly Lips in which Ms. Stephen promises/threatens, ‘one day I’ll fly through your window bringing the sky to your world.’ Put on this CD and take her up on her offer.
Covers: 4 (Abba),16 (Nilsson?)
Saws is a group of four experimental rock musicians. As far I can tell, this is their only release so far. It was released in 2005 by In Tone records, which is a label owned by the bassist Rick Frystak.
Of the four, Rick Potts is probably the most responsible for their experimental and eclectic sound. In addition to being a musical improviser he invents instruments like a hinge-neck electric guitar and a fake screaming rat.
Mr. Potts and Mr. Guttmacher both play the musical saw (hence the title) on these tracks in a variety of ways: miking it sawing through wood, bowing it, and striking it. These sounds and others are electronically processed. These sounds are anchored somewhat by the bassist and drummers, who are backing them up with varying time signatures and varying degrees of intensity. The production is very clean; these guys want you to hear every altered sound clearly.
The result is an unearthly sound with a futuristic feel, like music you’d hear in a mall on Mars with solar radiation interfering with the sound system.
All tracks are instrumental, though (4) has some buried vocals.
The Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra is a band from Brooklyn with about 15 members, politics slightly to the left of left, and a sound from Fela Kuti‘s Africa. This is a limited release EP (available only on their web site and at shows) that came out mid-2005.
4 of the 5 tracks on this CD are new. Track 4 is a re-release of Che Che Cole (Makossa) sung by Mayra Vega and originally released as a 12″ single on Daptone Records. In this track, African, Cuban, latin styles, call and response, waka-waka guitar, etc. are spun together. Willie Colon originally did this track.
Title track (2) has a more traditional Afrobeat sound and length (10 minutes). In the lyrics the American government is cast as a sort of a trickster god who can perform magic like make your coins disappear and make you see things that aren’t there. Not quite as incendiary as the tracks on Who Is This America?, but it gets its point across nicely.
Track 5 is a dub version of the first track. Get your ‘and now the dub version? stingers ready.
Their trombone player, Aaron Johnson, plays some very tasty solos on this release.
WMF is a mysterious trio consisting of Dave Mazza, John Dalton, and Lou Per. In the spring of 2005 they recorded this CD from ‘Live Improvisations with No Overdubs.’ But don’t let the Germanic capitalization fool you. This is a CD with 13 spacey, but driving, psych-rock instrumentals.
It’s hard to believe that just three people (guitar, bass, and drums) can open up this large a psycho-acoustic space. At times the drumming and guitar work get complicated and then you have to concentrate on it, but usually you can just ride along with the music and let it invoke alpha waves.
In particular I like tracks 1 (Tears of Rage) and 3 (Lullaby for a Dime Bag). They are as good a place to start as any. All instrumental.
Doormouse is Dan ”Doormouse’ Martin, who has been creating seriously messed up breakcore beats since 1994. He is also the head of the label Addict Records, which he started in 1997. Released in April 2005 this is clearly the less introspective of the two releases out this year. (The other, Major Changes, explores the effects having a daughter, Kaya, and moving his family to Miami from Milwaukee.)
I am told that he is the nephew of Motorhead‘s Lemmy though I have no way of verifying this.
This CD is incapable of disappointing any listener due to its dizzying jumble of obscure samples and twisting time signatures. Hardcore techno or breakcore – ‘I’m not quite sure what to call it, so call it what you like. Samples zoom in from country, jazz, funk, rock, and places unknown. (I noticed a Sharon Jones sample on Swimming With The Fishes, which pleased me greatly.) Joshua Anonymous helps out on drums, and the aforementioned Kaya can be heard briefly.
If you doubt that cut-and-paste can be an artform, check out the sheer mastery of One Man David Lee Roth Cover Band and especially Dizzay. If you liked the Venetian Snares that we added earlier this year, you will certainly like this.
Bonus track: 12
Language: 11 ‘Turn that shit up?, 12 ‘fucking,? ‘fuck you,? ‘stupid fucking asshole,? etc.
Released in 2002, this is the second release by Les Biberons B’tis (The Baby Bottles in English), who is really Bruno Tanguay, who also goes by the name Satan Belanger. He owns a record store in Montreal.
This is a goofy jumble of electronic music, featuring analog synthesizers, sampled beats, a guitar, bass, and a vocoder. I heard a sitar on one track as well. It’s all put in a blender and poured onto a CD. There are elements of disco and dub at various points.
Lyrics are in French and usually put through a vocoder, but ‘I’m willing to bet that an understanding of French wouldn’t make much difference.
Some of it works quite well (check out Elastic Dubstar, Stress Controle, and Je N’irai Pas Joner Live) though a few of the tracks were lost on me.
Language: no violations in English, anyway
An adrenaline rush of a noisercoaster, a heady combination
of amusement and confusement…and like all such rides,
it is over much too quickly. Gerritt (Wittmer) is the man
behind the Misanthropic Agenda (label that is), a key to
his release is the amount of space and swirl he inserts
between the raw explosions of sound. There’s a nice sense
of tension mounting, before you feel a full audio overload.
And his use of effects is stellar, there’s a reverb tunnel
that #4 goes through which gets tighter and tighter until
it squeezes out into a waterfall of noise, reducing down
eventually to a rhythm of drops, or pulses really…and
then in the end we get a slow fade of white noise. All
of the tracks make nice use of panning, and stereo straying
(check the pinballing left/right early in #5, which by the
end of that piece has changed entirely into something like
a game show with electrodes and jackhammers hooked up to
contestants. But despite that, this is no Fear Factor
of a release; the sheer noise is volcanic, but very
well sculpted and honestly pretty damn fun. Two (#1, #6) of
the tracks feature human whoops of sheer exhilliration.
All cuts go through a variety of passages and make this
an exceptional release of extreme electronics. E-ticket
all the way…
Excellent CD of music by the highly esteemed Philadelphia-based composer George Crumb (b. 1929).
Makrokosmos Book I – Twelve Fantasy-Pieces after the Zodiac for Amplified Piano (1972)
A landmark piece in exploring sonic opportunities available to a pianist, upstaging Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes and blowing anything Cowell wrote out of the cosmos. The title undoubtedly refers to the Bartok piano masterpiece Mikrokosmos, but resembles it only in scope and ambition. Crumb’s labyrinthian score (a work of art unto itself) requires the pianist to play, plink, plunk, prepare, whistle, wail, and amplify (and at one point pour glass marbles into it). The performance grows out of a gloomy primordial ooze and turns into a deeply spiritual cosmic meditation for listener, with frequent allusions to Messiaen and a few other familiar sounds. A tremendous recording by Andrew Russo of the first of the four Makrokosmos books. DJs, be careful with your levels, there are frightening leaps of volume.
For a glimpse of the gorgeous score to part 12, Spiral Galaxy [Symbol] – Aquarius, visit:
A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979 for piano (1980)
With its nativity theme and Rugglesian insistence on particular chord clusters and their colors, Messiaen is again brought to mind, especially in the opening and closing movements (refer to the Vingt Regards). This piece is played almost entirely on the keyboard (exception made for the hanging, frozen-in-time Canticle), but this gives Andrew Russo more opportunity to show off a wider range of his pianism, notably the wooden sound he achieves in the Nativity Dance.
Vox Balaenae (1971) (‘Voice of the Whale?)
In 1969, Crumb was inspired to write this piece after hearing a recording of whale songs. He doesn’t attempt to just represent them onomatopoeically, but instead transports you to their realm. You are immersed in the icy waters, at unsupportable pressures, and serenaded by amplified flute, cello, and piano. There is a visual aspect to any performance that can’t be registered on CD: the performers are wearing black masks and the stage is bathed in deep blue light. Conchord (the performing trio) probably didn’t bother for this recording. The piece opens on a whalesong flute cadenza, where the flutist sings while playing (is there a word for this technique yet? kirkifies?). For the middle section (apparently a theme and variations), time flies by as you sit entranced, listening to harmonic glissandos and aeolian strums and breathy fluting. You don’t even notice time has passed until the majestic finale ‘Sea Nocturne (…for the end of time)? begins, in a sudden wash of B-major tonality. The effect is enhanced by the cello’s B-F#-D#-A scordatura, and when they begin to play the crotales as well, you are launched to whale heaven in music that recalls Takemitsu and the finale of Gubaidulina’s ‘Canticle of the Sun?. Compare to the old Columbia recording on vinyl that we have!
A website with details on preparation and performance of Vox Balaenae:
For more music inspired by whales, see also:
Laurie Anderson’s ‘Songs and Stories from Moby Dick?
Alan Hovhaness? ‘And God Created Great Whales?
Ludmilla Ulehla’s “Elegy for a Whale” (1975)
John Cage’s “Litany for the Whale” (1980) — maybe?
Got more? Add them to the comments section!
-Cujo, KFJC, November 2005
Domenico Guaccero “Da Cantare: Opere Vocali 1951-1983 (To Sing: Vocal Works 1951-1983)” [die Schachtel]
cujo 12/15/2005 A Library
Domenico Guaccero (1927-1984) was a major player in the Italian avant-garde scene who has most unfortunately fallen into obscurity. He rubbed elbows with just about everybody including Nono, Curran (who lived in Rome for a while), Rweszki, and Morricone, Cage and the Darmstadt crowd, and founding seemingly dozens of electronic/computer/tape music studios and performing ensembles (e.g., Musica Ex Machina). His compositions derive mostly from aleatory, electronic, spatial, and improvisational techniques, you will find nothing conventional about his scores. Care for an example? See the album’s front cover (printed with nice silver leaf on white cardboard) for an excerpt.
CD 1 contains the choral works, and CD 2 contains the works for soloists, and the singers sing outstandingly. Most of these performances are live recordings from 3 Roman new music festivals and from his 60th anniversary concert, all in the 1980s. Coughs and shuffling permeate the recording, but still, the audiences are super well-behaved: ‘I’m telling you, Europeans are so much more open to new music. Glossa, Tre Melodie, and Casa Dell’Armonia are recommended for beginners. This 2-CD set is one of 500 etchings from the Milan electro-acoustic enthusiasts Die Schachtel (‘the box?) – check out recent Schachtel KFJC adds from Grossi, Sacchi, Zuccheri, and Insieme Musica Diversa.
Rot: Apparently the masterwork here, but probably because it’s the only Guaccero work to ever have been released (30 years ago on vinyl). The only track here with electronics. An entirely precomposed/recorded work, this a live recording of its 2nd ever performance, where they resurrected the tape (with electronics that Alvin Curran helped to record) and added singers to interpret the score. I think there’s also a theatrical/visual aspect to this piece that we can’t hear.
Kardia: A seemingly straightforward choral work for 8 mixed voices. While still unintelligible, there’s a lot more semblance of a text than in Casa Dell’armonia.
Casa Dell’armonia: 24 women singing an actual text (or so indicates the liner notes), but you could have fooled me. Moaning, wailing, whooping, sailing, shushing, solo tirades, in and out of unison, almost entirely vowel sounds.
Il Sole E l’Altre Stelle: A bass drum quietly beats out a slow heartbeat. A female soloist and female chorus sing a collage of Bibbia, Pinnochio, and the Divine Comedy.
Cinque Canti Da Tasso: Five songs for soprano and piano. The singer leads, and the piano seems to answer. Most challenging writing for the soprano is on these tracks.
Un Hombre: Not quite vicious but certainly not a complacent thunderstorm for soprano and prepared piano. The meteorological imagery brought to mind might be the result of this CD’s most emotional interpretation of his pictographic scores. Now doesn’t that sound academic.
Tre Liriche Di Montale: An excellent example of how atonal, experimental songs (these 3 for soprano and piano) can sound very lyrical, almost post-Romantic. Perhaps it is not surprising that this an earlier (1951) work, before most of his late-50s Darmstadt education.
Glossa: After an extended prelude, a woman launches a scathing sarcastic whooping spoken-singing-guttural English text by Sonia Sanchez ‘praising? American virtues (the only intelligible track here, unless you speak avant-Italian or latin). A surprising track and perfect for those feeling disenfranchised by our government.
Tre Invenzioni: The densest orchestration presented here: soprano, piano, and horn. 3 short pieces, the pianist heads inside the piano for some of his interpretations.
Da Cantare: The audience favorite, solo baritone with an excellent voice sings two solo songs.
Tre Melodie: An intriguing, exciting combination of soprano and timpani. 3 leaping, rumbling pieces.
Website for the Guaccero archive for further information on the man: www.guaccero.it
-Cujo, December 2005
Could this Jon Rose project smell as sweet by any other kryogenic name? Rose formed this trio of string players in 2000 in Berlin and recorded this totally improvised, thermally-challenged album on a septet of instruments. In the middle is bassist Matthias Bauer. On stereo left is Aleks Kolkowski and on stereo right is Rose, both playing an array of instruments from the violin family, including the historical footnotes the Stroh violin (Are we witnessing a renaissance for this violin designed for the earliest, non-electric days of recording? It has also grated its way into recent Tom Waits records), the one-stringed Stroh, the tenor violin, and the violinof’n (see liner notes for brief descriptions).
The result is some hardcore stringstrumental free music making, very intimate and nowhere near the kind of theatrics of the Rose we already have in the library. With such an unusual line-up, an emphasis on effects might be expected, and great examples are found on tracks 4 (extreme scraping that verges on string skronk) and 8 (stroharmonics). Upon careful listening, though, they transcend ‘mere? exploration at times, notably the sense of desperation achieved on track 7.
3 Word Review: Freezer-burned catgut
Could any staffers/listeners chime in to let me know where else to find the Stroh in our library?
-Cujo, December 2005
The artist is actually one Swede named Thomas Ekelund (found oh-so-briefly in our library on an iDEAL sampler collection). This is a carefully crafted album of bleak metallic, mechanical recorded sounds thoroughly processed and looped through his computer, with the slightest touch of Eno-ish musical tones. The result is a shining example of the ambient/electronic ?lowercase? genre (I think), where emphasis is placed on empty spaces, quiet sounds, and introspective moods. The found sounds are heavily processed so as to sound a bit muffled, distant, fuzzy, or covered in felt. When I mention submarine engine sounds below, it’s as if they’re heard from an enemy submarine trailing 500 yards behind. Try not to get stuck deconstructing the all looping, sampling, processing, and the stereo effects, and just let the album wash over you. All tracks are distinct but may track together. This is definitely rainy day music.
1. Tell Laura I Love Her. (5:12): pulsing electronic hum.
2. Realign, then fall (2:10): a teacher grades math exams. paper shuffling and pencil scribbling, looped by a very keen ear.
3. A list of things (1:05): light metallic beating. someone watches you from a creaky rocking chair.
4. The hills are alive (6:10): metallic blocks of filtered found sounds delivered in stereo, almost melodious.
5. Settling dust (4:54): tinkering in the tool shed, metal strings get pulled taut. background activity is heard through covered ears.
6. Motions of inanimate objects (3:57): more tool shed tinkering, this time the foreground has a more pneumatic emphasis, or maybe it’s scraping.
7. Wires of Oh Dots (7:29):subterranean
8. Bird, Broken (2:34): someone in the next room has labored breathing. in the other room someone is trying to pick out a melody on the piano.
9. Dread (7:20): metallic washboard foreground, submarine engine whirring background
10. Last Words Anywhere (2:24): busiest track. stereoactive chorus of jackhammers.
11. Dead Letters Spell Out Alive (6:55): peaceful closing track, lethargic waves of slightly screechy metallic fuzz.
-Cujo, December 2005
Before he was killed in a hit-and-run in 1981, Cornelius Cardew was an English Maoist composer creating his own cultural revolution and writing entirely utilitarian, approachable music (see his ‘We Sing For The Future? CD in our library, and the assorted political compositions spread in collections). Before that little red book rocked his world (c. 1970), he was known as a powerful experimenter and improviser, and a favorite Cologne student of Stockhausen. Cardew, in full-on Cageian mode, seriously seriously blurs the line between composer and improviser. You may also know Cardew from his creations the Scratch Orchestra and AMM.
This 1 CD in a simple cardboard sleeve from Hat Hut has 5 tracks:
1. Autumn 60
2. Treatise (pages 21 and 22)
3. Memories of You
5. Octet ’61 for Jasper Johns
The performers take their sweet time interpreting these exquisite graphical scores (I taped a too-small example to the case). Treatise is essentially an intricate 200-page picture book, an acknowledged masterpiece by those in the know. We are treated to an interpretation of pages 21 and 22. Performances of all 5 pieces are very distanced and spaced out, with never more than a three instruments playing at a time. Low volumes throughout. Very out there. Gravedigger material for sure. Nearly featureless throughout (slight exceptions made after multiple listens for the human reading on Treatise, the piece of paper getting waved on Memories of You, and the hearing-test frequency sine waves on the Octet).
-Cujo, December 2005
Bostonian Jessica Rylan is the one who “Can’t”. This album
feels like a study in sonic nodal interference. All but one
of the tracks prominently feature choppiness, she is only
coming through in waves, her lips move…erp, sorry about
that. You *can* hear what she is saying, but the vocal
diffraction distraction forces you focus more to pick up
the thread of thought. First track features pillow talk over
a faulty pilot light, a lullabye pyre? Between the flickering
flames she exhorts “Don’t be the one to tell the Secret.” On
“Wishing Well” her voice is further tortured, this time by
squelch and feedback, in the middle the chaos subsides and
we get two couplets before more blissful bristle, eventually
she dives into the well. “Driving in the Rain” is a flutey
sorbet to cleanse the palate with a little-engine-that-could
plucky melody. On “The Way Home” we actually hear the sheets
of static rain that thicken at times getting windshield-wiped
away for more distorto-whispers. Her approach reminds me of
Jesse Quattro except Rylan’s underlying human content is
sweeter, only the electronics instill the aggression. The
closer, “Casting a Spell” starts with a rhythm akin to an
old Ford Fairlane I use to have… this one goes the distance,
again scrambled intentions diffracted to hide the deeply
personal right out there in the noisy open. Extra credit
No payback for the playback singers, this collection of the
world’s most supreme pop music comes via Stomach Ache with
bootleggy flare, without a clue to any of the artists or
tracks. On the initial piece, at nearly the end we get some
potentiometer plundering, doppler dropouts which then are
resumed on track #3 after a more sedate interlude. It’s a
“Happy Birthday” surprise (forget the Time Warner copyright
and sing this number at your next b-day). Is the sweet
trilling on #4 Lata Mangeshkar, well is this really stuff
from Pakistan?!? Then I guess that’s not a whole lotta Lata,
but whoever is singing she nails a nice boopsiness to the
choruses. Now #8, that sounds like Pakistani to my still
learning ears. Hallowed qawwali hovering over harmonium.
Voices are squeezed tight with longing, like the hug
of a forbidden screen kiss. Many tracks have what must be
more than 101 strings tugging at your heart all at once.
Much of this has a rough swiped-from-the-radio or copped-
off-DVD’s-kinda vibe, there may be an element of Gruxery
here. But ultimately who cares? This music rules the day,
and this is just a fantastic collection of bewitching
sublime subcontintent sounds. Where’s my guru?
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the existence of such a thing as Funkst’rung, they have released a double vinyl album containing 12 tracks some time in June 2005. Funkst’rung is a duo consisting of Michael Fakesch and Chris De Luca of Munich who create experimental electronic music. One interesting note about this album: it will only be released on vinyl and iTunes – no CD release.
The inspiration for this album came when they found some old tapes and vinyl around the time of their first releases in 1995 on the Acid Planet label. Without the original equipment to work with, they just ripped it to their hard drive and worked with the material that way.
The result is some great techno with bass synthesizers and acidy sounds that totally grooves and is mixed with a lot of wit and humor. Enjoy the familiar sounds of the Roland TB-303 and TR-808.
Particular favorites are Punk Motherfucker (watch the video on their web site) and Wearing Old Armani, which is undoubtedly a reference to Robert Armani, not the suit guy). AP1105 puts one in the mind of Venetian Snares. The Commodore C128D gets a name check.
By the way, the C-128D reference is an elaborate joke that might take too long to explain in a break: The Commodore C128D was banned because it caused too much RF interference. And interference in German is funkst’rung. And it also happens to be the first computer Mr. Fakesch used.
You don’t listen to this music so much as compute its Fourier transform.
7″ single split between Deerhoof and Sicbay containing three songs, released in Sept 2004. Even the label is split because it’s a co-release of Modern Radio Record Label and Sawtooth (Nick Sakes from Sicbay‘s label). The first 600 have this fancy handscreened cover designed by Amy Jo Hendrickson.
Deerhoof, San Francisco’s musical darling geniuses, take the A-side with two songs not available anywhere else:
A1: Insist – Instrumental. It starts off with some bass noodling, then some noisy stabs, then groups of noisy stabs, then pandemonium breaks loose. Excellent.
A2: United He-Ho Brothers – Singer/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki sings words that aren’t quite words. Something like ‘He-ho! He-ho! Na-na-na.’ There is a false stop, then driving guitars and drums.
Sicbay, a power noise pop trio from Minneapolis with a very clever name, fill up their whole B side with one song.
B1: The Rise Of Phantom White – Described on their own website as one of their few ‘deliberate pop songs,? it’s somewhere between The Monkees and Sebadoh. I am told that it is about the approach of winter, something every Minnesotan must dread, but the only lyrics I could make out were fits like a blanket and ten feet off the turnpike.
Chaos Butterfly (Dina Emerson doing vocals, wineglasses, harmonica & computer AND Jonathan Segel on guitar, violin & computer) collaborates with the sax, flute, and vocal skills of Biggi Vinkeloe in this live recording from Sweden circa March 2005. The female vocals are usually wordless utterances, getting crazier on track 3–on which track the sax is particularly hectic too. Clicks and scrapes and beeps make for an intriguing experimental release with improv jazz moments.
Matthew Houck is the guy behind Phosphorescent and this is their 3rd release. He has a pleasant, cracking vocal style and the music has a slow, somber feel to it, with the nice addition of horns, pump organ, piano, pedal steel, and accordian. Aspects of this also have the emotional grandeur of Neutral Milk Hotel, while still retaining the folky core that is Phosphorescent.
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
Public Inspection File