KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Smog – “A River Ain’t Too Much to Love” – [Drag City] (CD)

lombard   5/14/2005   A Library, CD

The latest from Smog (aka Bill Callahan) recorded in Texas in November 2004 and released in 2005 harkens back to his days of great story-telling albums. Very simple instrumentation, mostly guitar, drum and Bill Callahan’s mesmerizing vocal style (more of a sneering conversation than singing) that always captivates me. Thematics on this release keep coming back to water, the river, brambles, family, and perhaps a journey into the country to contemplate all of that. There’s a folk/country vibe throughout and “In the Pines” is even a traditional train song. Jim White on drums and Joanna Newsom on piano on track 4. Excellent release! (added 5-14-2005)

Note: Language on “The Well”–“fuck all y’all!”

-Cynthia Lombard

VanFlower, Tara “My Little Fire-Filled Heart” [Silber]

Thurston Hunger   4/24/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Sophomore solo spin, from this lady of Lycia. Her heart pumps
with the same slow, dark (and echoplex’d) blood that flows
through the Ventricle label. But while Ventricle’s trickle
usually is icily lacking in oxygen, TARA VanFLOWER’s little
fire-filled heart does actually burn red with some hope and
that sort of faith you catch glimpses of in Jarboe and Steve
von Till. The language of lyrics — heaven, blessed, worship
and on drives the point through the symbolism like a rusted
nail through the wrist. “Conversation with Death” summons
the goth/spiritual nicely. Most tracks are draped with
subdued industrial clang, and the vocals enveloped in
effects. Rain drops on an eerie ice cream truck during the
lullabye “When” followed by a snippet of “You Are My
Sunshine” (a la an early Low album). You could live in hope
but you’ll not stray from the darkness w/ this night
blooming Flower. “Ethernal” indeed.

AK-Momo “Return to N.Y.” [Hidden Agenda]

Thurston Hunger   4/24/2005   A Library, CD, Format

A pretty damn skippy pop record. The boopsie, breathiness of
ANNA KARIN VON MALMBORG is worth the price of admission alone
But her partner in crime, MATTIAS OLSSON is the secret weapon.
The lush sonic beds that Anna cavorts in are feathered by his
fluffy samples, often with cute little percussion shuffles.
He also lays down some silky sheets of old analog synths, and
yes including mellotron!! (Well I think I hear it on #1, #3
maybe #10, or is that optigan?’) You can often hear the vinyl
pip and popping as part of a loop that he has captured, esp.
on the closing number…which takes a surprising darker twist
away from the shiny candy of its predecessors. “Boys & Girls”
Definite mellotron underneath a starless sky and Anna’s voice
doing a wavering “silent scream.” Her voice really has nice
elasticity…beating around the Kate Bush on #2, whistling
through the warzone on #8, purring like Eartha Kitt, flitting
about your brain-branches like the first crush you ever had.
Outstanding Swedish musical massage.

Mackrosoft, the – “The Dawning of the Aja Aquarius ” – [Mackrosoft Records]

Hunter Gatherer   4/23/2005   A Library, CD

This is the fourth CD in a trilogy [sic] by metamorphosizing jazz-funk supergroup The Mackrosoft. The group is led by conductor, producer, arranger Aja West, who also plays keyboards.

The music is somewhere in the space between 70s jazz/funk fusion and instrumental hip-top. Nine people are listed on the inner sleeve as having something to do with percussion, and this is a very percussion-heavy album. There is a lot of electric piano, organ, fuzzy guitar, and wah-wah guitar about. Mostly instrumentals, once the groove is established some interesting solos from guitar and sax (Bury the Mammoth), synth (Thank You All).

Middle Passage (6) is the only one with vocals, though a few of the other tracks have ‘ooh ooh? or ‘ahh ahh? backing vocals.
–Hunter Gatherer

Brill, Paul – “New Pagan Love Song ” – [Scarlet Shame]

Hunter Gatherer   4/23/2005   A Library, CD

This is peripatetic singer/songwriter Paul Brill‘s 3rd full-length release, released in October 2004. Locking himself in his studio with a few close friends through the long winter of 2003-4, Mr. Brill also acted as recording engineer and producer for this CD.

The most noticeable thing about this release is the use of electronics for sound processing and synthesized beats. There is just enough to let you know that this was recorded in this century without overpowering the beautiful melodies and excellent songwriting.

The recording is clean and three dimensional, which allows the pop-influenced arrangements to shine; every instrument can be heard clearly. By contrast the meaning of the lyrics is usually obscured and interpretations are left deliberately open. After repeated listens to Powerlines, ‘I’m still not sure what it’s about. If you liked the Hood that we added earlier this year, you will like this.

Standout tracks: 6: Powerlines (in interviews, Mr. Brill said that this song indicates the direction of his future music, which bodes well for his next release); 5: Lay Down Your Weary Head (esp. the violin work by Jenny Scheinman); 7: a meditative cover of The Doors song, Indian Summer,

Language: ‘shit? on 2

–Hunter Gatherer

Skygreen Leopards – Life & Love in Sparrows Meadow [Jagjaguwar]

outlier   4/21/2005   12-inch, A Library

Great granola pop of Donovan Quinn+Glenn Donaldson.
Distinctive jagjaguwar sound occasionally wandering into Barrett/Guild of Temporal Adventurers/Kendra Smith zone. Ranging from bright and upbeat to lush and contemplative, the songs breathe of simple but deep emotion like the clarity of childlike wisdom. Short, acoustic pieces with vocal duets offer temptations to intimately interpret these deceptively simple songs.
3w: Granola Folk/Psych Pop
-Outlier

Aaron Dilloway – Boggs Vol Two [Hanson]

outlier   4/21/2005   A Library, CD

Wolf Eyes member releases two obscure CDRs long out of
Print (Seizure,Appalling & Alive). Electronic soundscapes stripped down to reveal the rough edges. 4 pieces that get harsher throughout. Seizure1-noise for co’nnoisse’urs. Buzz, hum and pulse set you up for a noise poem of motorcycle sounds and locust rhythms. Seizure2 offers destroyed loop fragments ground into forms less probable than before, thus human progress is achieved. Live at c-pop is more locust rhythm action that lauches to a crescendo. (4) is industrial sounds that rip thru the fabric of time and space.
3w: Noise for Co’nnoisse’urs !
-Outlier

Mouthus – Loam [Ecstatic Peace]

outlier   4/21/2005   12-inch, A Library

Simple structures of gtr, loops and drums reverberate and resonate into monstrous ultra-drone maelstroms. Guitar overtones with soft hum feedback, loops and Sleep-like drum phrase timing emit sonic turbulence that gives the feeling of your world shaking at the foundations. Like early Gate (Julian Dashper w/more feedback and space or maybe an angier, more articulate Thela). It could be a group fronted by Morley’s bastard son.
3w: Jaw Dropping Shit
– Outlier

Gayle,Charles/Parker/Ali?”Touchin on Trane” [Free Music Production]

outlier   4/21/2005   A Library, CD, Jazz

STRONG evidence for status as present day tenor sax #1! William Parker and Rashied Ali give Gayle a moving target rhythm that allows him to soar into jet stream polyphonics or settle into modern interpretations of Trane voicings without losing momentum in the trio’s center of sonic gravity. Gayle controls notes unintended for the tenor sax with agile mastery and power where others sound as though sphincter blowout were imminent.
3w: Power Jazz Mastery
– Outlier

KK Null/John Wiese – “arc seconds”

outlier   4/21/2005   A Library

Arc Seconds (Helicopter)
Soundtrack for the Apocalypse. Scorching screed unloaded at mass volume specially engineered to induce a state ofmental peristalsis. Corporate jingles, Muzak buy messages and all other ‘productive? signals are culture jammed by this massive sonic onslaught, Deprogram Now ! It may not be too late. This short piece is antidote to all that comercially clogs your existence. Very Industrial sounds that remind of early Merzbow work.
3w: Anihilation Armegeddon Soundtrack
-Outlier

Gum – Vinyl Anthology [23five]

outlier   4/21/2005   A Library, CD

Waves of lo-fi analog dissonance ranging from disorienting cacophony of close-up raw noise emissions(D1) to more distant, ambient droning noisescapes(D2). Complete releases
from 1987-90, this documents the lo-fi noise experiments of Philip Samartzis and Andrew Curtis. Locked grooves, multi-track decks and effects boxes are the artifacts of Frankenstein recombination of collapsed sounds from vinyl destruction. Carnivalistic sex and violence themes give a tactile appearance to the pieces while the countercurrent of manipulated surface noise goes to work on your distracted subconscious. You are no match for the forces of dysfunction herein.
D2:trk1-fuck,cock,pussy/trk5-very quiet 10:40->9:40/
trk7-blank from 3:02->1:07
3w: Errors? Hidden Intentions
– Outlier

The Brunos – Bloody Knuckles [Skunkman]

outlier   4/21/2005   A Library, CD

Flute, mandolin, violin, accordion and drums color the modern authentic renditions of Irish traditional music. These next gen Chieftains do the homeland proud with tunes ranging from uplifting ‘top o the mornin’ stuff to slower thoughtful traditional
dance tunes. The title belies the moods of the songs. Lyrical instruments sound like a chorus of voices at times. Vocals on two tracks (7,13). 1-6 are light and upbeat, 7-14 are more serious in tone and the last 3 do the serious trad dance thing. Trk 16 is a medley of 4 songs so don’t let the false ends get ya’. The musicianship and tone of the songs are bleeding orange and
green for ya’, so here’s spittin’ in the Queen’s eye !
3w: have another pinty
– Outlier

Residents – ?Animal Lover? [Mute]

outlier   4/21/2005   A Library, CD

Marvelous timing, metered (mostly female) vocals and gamelan percussion accents filtered thru the Residents? archaeological musical perspective with rhythm tracks based entirely on animal mating noises (cicadas and frogs, whales and humans for longer wave stuff). Some psychedelic electro march but mostly very beautiful, dreamy songs with delicate childlike hymnal vocals. They escape their signature sound to embrace conventional song
forms with a subtle, simple yet powerful sense of composition and arrangement. If the Residents aren’t on your short list of great American composers, this release will help you get your shit together.
3w:Western Culture Sainthood
– Outlier

Dredd Foole?A Long Lost Battle With Eloquence and Intimance [ecstatic yod](33rpm)

outlier   4/21/2005   12-inch, A Library

Soul searching songs of lost love, second-guessed lifestyle and reflections on mid-life memories in an acoustic guitar and voice setting. An honest and fallible sound that is both haunting and cleansing. If its been awhile since you’ve examined your life, sit back and let this troubador of emotional journeys relate his undefined, incomplete wisdom with you. It’s not about hitting the right notes, its about striking the right chord of emotions and
Dredd Foole does with unashamed, intimate openness. Strength comes from confronting weakness and here is a performer that is willing to do the heavy lifting for you, open up and live.
3w: Foole for love
– Outlier

Boris- ?dronevil? [Misanthropic Agenda]

outlier   4/21/2005   12-inch, A Library

Guitar-driven evil and dark, resonant drone are the two sides of Boris. The drone disc is a 21st century take on Tony Conrad’s minimalist works: 1 is a hollow, cavernous, reverberating, eternal gong vibration thing, 2 is dark, ringing siren sounds. The evil disc is an exercise in hypothermal headbanging; 1 is a Skullflower at 16rpm start, then a kind of ambient interlude finishing with a headbanger in full rage at 16rpm. 2 is a 4-note descending sequence drenched in feedback and hum. Like a hovering spacecraft beaming extra-sensory information directly to your central nervous system with sonic sorcery,
inducing a slow-motion whiplash of endorphine releasing motion.
3w: Hypothermal Hypnotic Headbanger
– Outlier

Br. Danielson – Brother is to Son – [Secretly Canadian]

Mac   4/16/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Br. Danielson
Brother is to Son
[Secretly Canadian]
Here we have the 6th full-length Danielson Famile release, and you’re
in for another romp through indie folk pop. This is Daniel Smith’s
(aka Brother Danielson) personal project but stays in the Famile mold
of lo-fi unconventional spiritual exploration. The term Christian
rock DOESN’T apply here. The nonsecular messages often don’t require
a religious context, and the music is a real treat.
The album has two halves – songs 1-5 are upbeat rockin’ jamborees
featuring Daniel’s acoustic guitar and distinct falsetto vocals
/yelps. The family backs up (and I mean family, the Danielson clan is
a modern Partridge family, hear track 10’s chorus: “Sisters and
daughters and brothers and sons are we.”). Backing up are heavy doses
of chorus singing (bordering on screaming) and a spattering of
instruments including classics: piano/electric guitar and down-home
goodness: banjo, jaw harp, and tambourines. The arrangements are
more complex than previous Famile releases and the result is
captivating. They sound like a country lo-fi version of the Shins.
Each song has a different raw sound, so don’t dismiss the album based
on one song.
Track 6 represents a transition to the second half of the half, where
Daniel tones it down and pours his emotion into slow, vulnerable tales
of spirituality. Of the three following songs, track 9 was my fav.
Track 10 brings it all back together with a solid upbeat finale of
family chorus.
Overall I’d call it the best Danielson Famile release to date.
– Brother Mac

Tsurubami – “Shohjohkisshotan” (C3R)

outlier   4/10/2005   A Library, CD

More wall of sound at the event horizon stuff. Streaming, screaming, flashing beams of sonic iridescence shimmer in the complex polyrhythmic density laid down by Nobuko-dr and Hiroshi-bs. Kawabata-gtr orbits the rhythmic nebula with an interstellar cosmonaut’s awareness and vision. Like an Abstract Expressionist piece, density can be mistaken for congestion and distortion when infact the complexity is necessary to capture the ultra-physical (read extra-tonal) qualities of the subject. This is the audio companion for the Leave No Tripper Behind program.
3w: Immaculate Interstellar Iridescence
– Outlier

Gang Wizard – “Jeckyll Loves Hyde” (Ecstatic Peace)

outlier   4/10/2005   12-inch, A Library

Filthy, destroyed, early Sonic Youth influenced NY gtr sound. A tight unit that thrives on a bent rhythm playing off the higher frequency guitar attacks with momentum building convergence and space creating divergence. While they cast their shadow on the lo-fi, igno-rock sound, GW smartly explore percussive possibilities within the hard-driving outside rock sound. Clashing, driving, pounding structures ride the waves with an aggressive, instinctive posture that the ultra-meter drumming makes wholly fucked (in a good way !).
3w: Filthy Destroyed Frequencies
– Outlier

Milton, Anthony – “Sirens” (Last Visible Dog)

outlier   4/10/2005   A Library, CD

New Zealand acoustic psych folk with an air and wood sound, occasional guitar in distress strumming and solos. Slightly angered, spacey Direen and Morley influenced songs with a serious folk mentality. Occasional early Dead C blownout acoustic sound with clever lo-fi drums that give the vocals an edge of tension accented by steady, sometimes furious strum. Traveling rhythms that have phasing qualities and evolving structures but the center of gravity is on a steady path to psych folk truth.
3w: NZ PSYCH FOLK
– Outlier

Sandoz Lab Technicians – “Live at MacDougal Art Gallery” (C.PSI.P)

outlier   4/10/2005   A Library, CD

Tim Cornelius, James Kirk, and Nathan Thompson ascend to the heights of drone with a 45m free music piece that ranges from a subway station fuge to flowing rivers of strings and winds in electrified vapor. Sounds billow outward like clouds, surging in a collective waveform flux. Dense textures that move up to cacophony’s edge, stepping back to sense the void of where the sounds have vacated. Similar to Sakada or Organum, always exploring the essence of music in the NOW.
3w: Free Music Installation
– Outlier

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