Music Reviews

Krzisnik, Borut – “Stories From Magatrea ” – [Transparency]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   A Library, CD

Laibach guitarist Borut Krzisnik takes a fine
stab at modern symphonic composition. Stab is
the operative word, razor violins are plucked,
stuck and gouged. As much tension as a prison
break over a frozen river, and the ice cracks
with every step. Cinematic feel, Morricone
intensity and a Hitchcock twitchiness. Yet
there are moments that bring a dark chuckle,
or is it a maniacal cackle’Spare linear notes
offer a nod to Douglas Adams…this is music
that even Marvin the despondent robot would
find uplifting. Exhillirating!

Mask of the People [coll] – [World Serpent Dist.]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   A Library, CD

Ostensibly a charity effort on behalf of the
forests of Papua New Guinea…with rare, un-
released efforts from many artists found in
the dark side of the wood. Things start off
almost dub bubbly, Young Gods manic slow
motion. But after awhile the restlessness
abates. Black Rose as delicate as the veins
of a hemophiliac…icy piano/chilling voice.
Ozymandias adds some piano vampiring. There’s
even an odd bit of humour reflected on the
MoonRiver. An eavesdropper’s delight on #7.
Echoes of lumber’s deathly slumber.

Lindgren, Erik – “Scores! ” – [Sfz]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   A Library, CD

Lindgren shoots (some sort of video stuff
I couldn’t view on my unix computer) and
he scores…music which is pretty stately,
classical vignettes…lot’s of waiting room
at the hospital vibes…supplanted by moody
piano smoking a cigarrette. This has a
soundtrack feel, reminded me of the recent
Twilight Zone reissues…with touches of
Eno deliberation. The cover is odd as hell,
had me expecting hyper hijinx…when this
is the stuff of your Sunday best. It didn’t
bowl me over but was enjoyable…the most
skitterish the violin the better for me.
See what you hear.

Leonardson, Eric – “Radio Reverie in the Waiting.. ” – [Innocent Eyes and Lenses]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   A Library, CD

Electro-acoustic musings and music, a
sonic rendezvous of machines digital and
primitive. A decade’s worth of decadence
from Leonardson, out of Chicago (he’s
worked with Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang,
Fred Lonberg-Holm, Tatsu Aoki…names
of note) This is gizmo core and pretty
damn fine at that, eyes closed…you can
easily envision Rube Goldberg contraptions,
(usually with swirl-rounding vortices)
lot’s of squeak, slow-bowed scapes, hum
tunnels (the last track is quite a ride)
Barbara Bush is on here for a special
guest appearance.

Ass Baboons of Venus – “Phuket Ala Bum Bum ” – [Bulb Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   A Library, CD

Advanced Baboonophonics courtesy of Bob
Limp and Nonononononono. She’s a former
stand-up comedienne sensation out of Japan,
he’s a future one? They’re in love, they’re
raising kids and ruckuses together. They
own Venus, and Earth is next. Battleplan
involves a deathray of silly-sexy-squirty
non-stop energy and effects. Hula hillbilly
hiccup he-vox and hyperkinetic derelict
delicious she-vox. This baband will help
you unravel the cosmic joke of the universe.
Put this in heavy evolution.

Family of God – “Exiter ” – [Sugar Free Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   A Library, CD

Adam Peters & Chris Brick are the Family of God,
but aren’t we all. Imagine Genesis P. Orridge
without the police raids…or Underworld with
a hilarious haircut…now slap down some
disgustingly catchy disco retro-beats, add the
sort of humour that sneers (don’t forget the
British accent) now you’re getting it…at
the center….of the dull…smack dab in NY city.
To me the music is even funnier than the
lyrics (which are generally delivered in a
deadpan sermon-on-dexederine-on-the-mount style)
Like a mad messiah making tapes late at night,
Pet Chop Boys, anyone?

Lucas, Gary – “Improve the Shining Hour ” – [Knitting Factory Works]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   A Library, CD

Please revel in the joyful exuberant *PLAY*ing of
Gary Lucas. This wide-angle compilation is a great
portrait of Gary, from a photo with the Nixons to
the explication and explanation of Beefheart’s
“exploding note theory” to all these great guests
(Nick Cave, Peter Stampfel, DJ Spooky, even the
good Captain himself). These show so many projects
and styles, segued really well…broken down,
breaking fingers(#5) to drone-on Popol Vuh-doo(#18)
to stratocaster labyrinthine pop(#14) to Unabomber
ominous($15) to bubbling acoustic fingerpicking
goodness(#7) This is an [in]complete delight to
look at…learn from… and… listen to!

Recoil – “Liquid ” – [Mute]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   A Library, CD

Alan Wilder gets wilder still, outside the
pop cage confines of Depeche Mode (he was in
that band from ’82-95) but his Recoil project
is darkly well-assembled, abetted by powerful
women (Diamanda among them!!!) Rather than
synth-pop, Recoil recalls the cinematic flair
of Scott Walker’s “Tilt” but in a cybernetic
realm. That’s high praise…Wilder’s re-wiring
of “Jezebel” by the Golden Gate Jubilee 4tet
is an infernal inspiration. Maybe even a nod
to his fatal femme conspirators. “Supreme” is
a nice piece of hip-spoke-hop sociology.Nicole
Blackman, still on a Hashisheen high, scores
as well. Liquid is thick, like amber, and
bottled like an expensive liquer. Perhaps too
refined for some?

Lullaby Baxter Trio – “Capable Egg ” – [Atlantic]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   A Library, CD

Angelina Teresa Iapaolo is Lullaby Baxter.
A Canadian chanteuse on the loose, voice from
another decade, lyrics from another planet…
She came to the Bay Area and found a support
group of loons to add tunes to her crooning,
walking many quirky miles to get these great
quirky arrangements for her quirky lyrics.
She saunters through pop nuggets of unfair
fairytales…over banjo, cello, squeezebox
if you please-box! She’s the missing sister
of the Brothers Grimm with a smirk. -Hunger
Warning : Track 12 ends @ 2:53…then
Ding-A-Ling rings in again.

Wickham-Smith, Simon – “Giladji ” – [Giardia]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   12-inch, A Library

Temporarily cleaved from Richard Youngs,
Simon Wickham-Smith delivers two side long
ice drones for ice harmonica. Overtone nodes
fringe and add depth to the subtle stillness…
tension not unlike Morricone’s remarkable
soundtrack to The Thing remake. Vary the pitch
as you see fit, faster RPM’s tend toward a
more coherent sound, played at the speed of
light – undoubtedly we’d hear the Aum tone of
the universe. Keep it slow, and you can
enjoy the microtonal multiverses.

Album Leaf, the – “An Orchestrated Rise to Fall ” – [Music Fellowship]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   A Library, CD

Prominent electric piano. It almost
sounds like a grave medical condition
that should scare you. Scares me, often.
But this CD may cure that. Nearly all
instrumental, lush, drifters…show-
casing Jimmy LaValle’s(from Tristeza)
fine fingerisimo. Washes of synths,
certified indie style lo-fi ambience
of daily life, TV, cars, radio. Still
something about that almost painfully
pure, ringing el. piano sound adds an
sad funk to this. How can funk be sad?
I don’t know…descending riffs repeat.
I see slo-mo football highlights in
parts… Instant replay?

Dalaba, Leslie – “Timelines” – [Tzadik Records] (CD)

lombard   9/28/2005   A Library, CD

Released as part of Tzadik’s Oracle Series in October 2004, this is an amazing undertaking by trumpet player Lesli Dalaba. In an attempt to represent a history of the earth Dalaba did extensive research using geophysical and archeological data. She then plotted a timeline of the earth musically (see timesheet on CD and in the liner notes). Joined by Carla Kihlstedt (vioin), Zeena Parkins (harp), Ikue Mori (electronics) and Amy Denio (voice), Dalaba paints an intriguing portrait of the earth’s life, with sounds of water, buzzing, crackling, thunder, static, a march to symbolize human migration, and female voice.

-Cynthia Lombard

Arvo P?rt “Triodion” [Hyperion]

cujo   9/23/2005   A Library, CD

Arvo P’rt‘s choral works from between 1996 and 2002 exquisitely sung by choral group Polyphony on the budget classical label Hyperion. Well-presented liner notes. His ‘tintinnabulation? style is still dominant in these eight pieces in various languages: English, Russian, Latin… The highlights are tracks 2 and 6, which are stunningly beautiful, 5 and 8 are also recommended. Arvo continues to prove Schoenberg right: there is still plenty of good music to be written in the key of C.
1. Dopo la vittoria(10:00) – As dance-like as Arvo’s ever gonna get. Very Italian madrigal-like.
2. Nunc dimittis(7:33) ‘A setting of the Nunc Dimittis, it is naturally a partner piece to his Magnificat that we have in the library.
3. …which was the son of…(7:30) ? As funny as Arvo’s ever gonna get. A setting of one of those ‘X begat Y begat Z…’ bible texts.
4. I Am the True Vine (10:15) ? A series of notes repeated with rhythmic fluctuation, spread around the voices. Blah.
5. Littlemore Tractus (6:28) – A little help from the organ for this track.
6. Triodion (14:13) ? Sublime setting of three odes from the Orthodox prayer book.
7. My Heart’s in the Highland (9:11) – Setting of a Robert Burns poem, with organ and tenor soloist. Tenor rarely varies from his one note, very critically appreciated work but it drove me batty.
8. Salve Regina (12:13) – More help from the organ for this work that builds to a big climax.

-Cujo, Sept. 2005

Uri Caine “Dark Flame” [Winter & Winter]

cujo   9/23/2005   A Library, CD

Who is the greater genius? Uri Caine for adapting Mahler’s lieder music into these unusual arrangements, or Mahler for writing such universal music. As a devout Mahler fan, I approached this album with trepidation, and I still am trepidated. Notables violinist Mark Feldman and bassist Michael Formanek guest star. If you enjoy this, we also have the later album where Uri appropriates Schumann lieder, and we don’t have an earlier, different Caine/Mahler effort (Primal Light) focusing on the symphonies. My preferred tracks were 2, 5, 10, and 13, but I have the feeling you may have an entirely different set of favorites and may even consider this a five-star album.
mahler-jazz fusion jam with piano, violin, trumpet, drums, and spoken word (track 1), woman singing gospel (2), cabaret (3), cabaret funeral waltz turns into caine original jazz turns into a narrated letter (4), an instrumental attempt at a funeral march and trio, with fireworks (5), chinese recitation and instrumentation (6), male German preaching over crazy guitar riff and pounding drums alternates with a motherly voice reciting English poetry over a piano-x duets (7), a man laments while the cabaret ensemble and mild electronics accompany (8), spoken word over the cabaret ensemble, still not too sure what he’s talking about after repeated listens. last words are ‘what was there to do… but die?’ (9), chinese instrumental (10), pleasant cabaret waltz with male vocal(11), short German spoken word over toy-pianoesque accompanist(12), lively instrumental cabaret arrangement. my favorite track, probably because it sounds most like the original Mahler (13), another version of track 2, but purely instrumental (14)
-Cujo, Sept. 2005

David Coulter/Michael Gira/Jean Marie Mathoul/Charlemagne Palestine “Gantse Mishpuchah: Music in 3 Parts” [Fringes]

cujo   9/23/2005   A Library, CD

Holy crap, this is intense. Three dense electro-acoustic drones that never let up and chill your bones. An album apparently recorded by correspondence between main players David Coulter, Michael Gira, Jean Marie Mathoul, and Charlemagne Palestine (all of whom except Mathoul are found elsewhere in our library). I have no idea what Gantse Mishpuchah means (is it Yiddish? Whole Shebang? Apr 2006: I have been alerted it means Whole Family), but one thing is clear: the apocalypse is upon us, and it is a drone.
Part # one (22:17): Sounds as if inspired by an L.A. traffic jam. Makes the floor shake. Some bells/gongs/pianos are chimed along the way, and towards the end somebody is actually strumming a guitar.
Part # two (15:35): Sounds as if the sounds of your Louisiana back porch was partially interpreted as a drone. Things that sound like frogs, owls, and creepy-crawlies interrupt the grasshopper-like drone. A thumping Afro-cuban beat melts in and out, as do some vocal and/or radio samples.
Part # three (15:47): Sounds as if inspired by an orchestra of one-stringed cellos and basses tuning up before a concert. Unyielding organ. Faint clips of people talking – possibly an urban street scene, looping of said voices. It ends abruptly then is followed by a few seconds of sounds of wind.
-Cujo, KFJC, September 2005

Charles Ives “Holidays Symphony/Unsanswered Question (rev.)/Central Park in the Dark/Unanswered Question (orig.)” [Sony Classical]

cujo   9/23/2005   A Library, CD

Washington’s Birthday (10:27): A wintry soundscape is difficult to break open. A vast simultaneous pop tune medley led by a jew’s harp livens the mood for a few minutes, until the cold sets in again. A solo violin tries to interrupt and keep the mood up, but ultimately fails.
Decoration Day (9:57): What we would call Memorial Day. Quiet contemplation leads off the piece. The Dies irae is hinted at here and there. A trumpet plays Taps over tremolo strings, and then a brilliant march erupts as you head back into town. When asked to name a masterpiece, Stravinsky named this piece.
The Fourth of July(6:04): Begins with a warped take on the Marseilles (the French national anthem!) Finishes with orchestral fireworks.
Thanksgiving and Forefathers? Day (14:57): A calm giving of thanks gives way to a huge celebration around the dinner table. Strings and celesta then lead a phenomenal austere and pastoral interlude. Catharsis is reached when the chorus enters singing Duke Street – an incredible moment.
The Unanswered Question (revised version) (7:13): over a slowly shifting bed of strictly diatonic strings, a trumpet asks a 5-note question, and a woodwind quartet answers. Repeat 5 times, woodwinds getting more and more atonal and crazed. Existential burning consumes you.
Central Park in the Dark (7:26): You’re sitting in the park around 1900. It’s pretty quiet. As you begin to listen to your surroundings, all sorts of distant sounds and music become apparent. Before you know it, there’s music everywhere, and someone’s singing ‘Hello, my darling!? Then you come to your senses and it’s quiet again.
The Unanswered Question (original version) (7:01): see above, but slightly more complex. I prefer the revised, but only because I heard it first…

For fans of chaos, puritanism, yankee doodling, American music, bombast, rhythmic complexity, and for those unfamiliar with Ives. He is America’s greatest composer yet. This CD is quite possibly the desert island Ives CD.

If you really enjoy the music on the disk, you should also check out Ives’ similar works “Three Places in New England” and his “2nd Orchestral Set – From Hanover Square North The Voice of the People Again Rose…” (or something like that).

‘Cujo, Sept. 2005

Present Music “Haunted America” [Innova]

cujo   9/23/2005   A Library, CD

Music commissioned and performed by Milwaukee’s Present Music chamber ensemble for their 2001-02 season. The Innova label was new to me, but I now dig it.
Jerome Kitzke – HAUNTED AMERICA – (18:22): This 9/11 response piece is the highlight of the disc. The composer leads the percussion & chamber ensemble reciting snippets of Allen Ginsberg: ‘Hey America – What Haunts You?’. This wild and potentially emotional ride has an arresting bells-and-whistles start and on the way you will hear strains of native american, pop, and klezmer music. I even heard strains of China and Bobby McFerrin. And it ends with the always welcome outburst of laughter.
Michael Torke – SONG OF ISAIAH – (13:45): Yuck. A woman interminably sings the Song of Isaiah over some indistinguishable circle-of-5ths and rhythmic structures.
Kimmo Hakola – CHAMBER CONCERTO – (31:55 total): Yet another example of Finland exporting fantastic new music. Here is a 5-part suite with fun-to-pronounce Italian subtitles. I give permission to play individual movements by themselves. Very dramatic overall work with moods ranging from the angry (Sono furioso!) to the lyric (Sono amoroso!).
— Cujo, Sept. 2005

Boduf Songs – “Boduf Songs ” – [Kranky]

Thurston Hunger   9/22/2005   A Library, CD

Mat Sweet (nope not that one) comes from Southampton in the
UK, a place where evidently the sun rarely shines through.
Possibly eclipsed by the “Pitch Black Rainbow” Sweet pukes up
on the leadoff track? Sweet’s narcoleptic vocals and laconic
acoustic guitar still can’t dispel the sense that this album
(and life itself) are fleeting. Cryptic lyrics toy with the
flesh a la Devendra Banhart, and Sweet likewise enjoys the
thickness of thin vocals double-tracked. All turns sour in
Sweet’s world: wells are poisoned, steps are counted towards
oblivion, the sun is blackened, and Sweet tells us that we
are “sick of it down to our hearts…our souls…our bones”
As much as I’m a melancholic-oholic, I found myself yearning
for a bit more pep, some of which leaks into “Lost in Forests”
and “Claimant Reclaimed” by way of a fractured Gastr del Sol
feel. Evidently Sweet is involved with a half dozen other
projects which span a variety of genres but tend to share a
slowness. His work with sonic accoutrements is the highlight
here, backwards guitar on #1, #8 (panned nicely on the latter)
bowed songs and maybe bowed birds (is that their death-chirp
rattling?). The two instrumentals (#3, #7) are gorgeous and shimmering. I could see a cross-the-Atlantica collabortation
with Steven R. Smith in the offing.

Ferrari, Luc – “Anecdotals, the ” – [Sub Rosa]

Thurston Hunger   9/22/2005   A Library, CD

I bought this and another Ferrari shortly before his passing
(8/25/2005). Quelle drag… This album is a great set of
splicing decisions with sound recordings he made from world
travels. Much of the sounds from *after* the year 2000, so
though he was 76, we still feel cheated…he still sounds
playful. Americans might jump to #10, but the polyglot power
of the other tracks cannot be ignored. The “Numero Quatro”
rhythm of the lead-off track is so insistently infectious,
it even spreads to the mad cow madness of #9. In Ferrari’s
hands and our ears, the world becomes a smaller, yet more
wonderful place…

In reading online, I see this quote from Ferrari that may
fit the recording/restructurings we find here…

“…radio was something completely new. I was a kid
during the Second World War and even before that my
parents had one of the first radio sets, and there was
Radio London. I can still remember those four timpani
strokes, and then that mishmash of voices scrambled by
electronic devices, through which you could hear those surrealistic messages, like cadavres exquis!

Though he’s an exquisite corpse now, he was better alive
…and is surely, sorely missed.

Haiku review times two:

Eaves dropping delight
Anecdotal evidence
Of Ferrari’s dreams

Sound invigorates
Decomposing composer
Concrete comes alive…

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