Music Reviews

Zu – “Way of the Animal Powers, the ” – [Xeng]

Thurston Hunger   9/22/2005   A Library, CD

Amazing how many bruises this album leaves on you after only
25+ minutes. Italian heavy hitters this time collaborate with
Fred Lonberg-Holm. The title is inspired by a Joseph Campbell
book; the myth explored here is that of the saxaphone snake
that slinked into the Garden of Rock, and convinced Adam and
Eve (that’s us listeners) to abandon our prejudice favoring
only the guitar as the chosen instrument. While they’ve
connected to Chicago before via Spaceways, Inc, this time
Lonberg-Holm followed the every road leading to Rome, and
brought with him a sizzling amplified cello. This band is
so heavy, so cohesive, so potent. Simply one of the best rock
bands going today bar none… Massimo delivers damaged yet
fortified bass at the same time, Luca Tomasso’s sax is the
flaming totem, but this time out is was Jacopo’s drums that
really caught my ear, and damn well tore it off. He even
offers exuberant vocals on the closing number. (There’s also
spoken words about Monte Cazzaza on the lead-off track.)

Zu Haiku Zu True
Zu Bruises Zu Zu Be Do
Zu Sax Drums Bass Zu

Rogers Sisters, the – “Les Fantaisies Sont Bien ” – [Troubleman Unlimited]

Thurston Hunger   9/22/2005   7-inch, A Library

Well this petit nombre was un hit fantastique back when they
sung in Uh-merican. It gets French kissed this time around
(although their still screaming in English). That same great
riff, the saxamoan swirl…the talky bits (albeit coated in
francaise sauce…).

On the flip, “45 Prayers” (like its Angli-kin also found on
the most recent “Three Fingers”), is served for strangers
in strange lands, this time Miyuki Furtado Japanslates
the number…though it retains its heavy breathing beat
texture as well.

The Rogers Sisters were born on turntables, (Daddy owned
a record store) long may they spin… I sure look forward
to their next record…

Haiku Review:
Fantasies are nice
Nicer still through french kissed lips
Foreign exchange fun

Oneida / Plastic Crime [coll] – [Brah]

Thurston Hunger   9/22/2005   12-inch, A Library

Oneida (and this is the first imprint of Oneidan Fat Bobby’s
label) get a rustic rhythm going up and over the levee
with tub-thump drum and dangling banjos…on top of it a
drifty falsetto riding the rails of this railroad car rock.
About two thirds of the way, all the strings pile into
the caboose and cut loose from the insistent percussion.
Modern minstrel mode, but Bobby sends a synth pulsar in the
stead of the heavy beat, every bit as hypnagogic.

Chicago’s Plastic Crimewave Sound’s “End of Cloud” may be
mistitled. As this number to me sounds far more terrestial,
like a pounding, probing tunnel to the center of the earth.
Relentess dum-drum thwack attack and magma-coated guitar
sparking along the sides drive this deeper and deeper. At
some time, a sort of chanting is “unearthed” are we going
to reaquaint ourselves with the Residents Molemen? Are we
going to find an alternate university with members of Gong
forever youthful?’ Or are we going to hear some scattered
and slow-slurred poesy? Ah, ya peeked…

Nortt / Xasthur [coll] – [Southern Lord Recordings]

Thurston Hunger   9/22/2005   A Library, CD

It’s the age-old story, monster meets girl, monster and girl
fall in love, girl realizes monster is indeed a monster, girl
tries to leave, monster writes love songs build on electric
piano dirge and shards of crackle guitar. That’s the first
three tracks of Nortt, the last track a more spacious synth
abyss float allows us time to ponder whether monster actually
ate girl. Meanwhile, Xasthur comes along with a sort of
Thin Lizzy guitar buried in the reverby grave of the Cocteau
Twins. “Blood from the Roots of the Forest” is the standout
with a lengthy hyperdramatic, standing-in-a-wind-tunnel intro
that gives away to more downed doom minor chord mope, but
then someone fires up the bass-drum pacemaker. On the closer
“Lurking in Silence” we see that Xasthur really wants to be
Mortiis sitting at a piano overlooking the cliffs. Good music
for a slasher cartoon. I hope KFJC’s Trix-ter is right and
these one-man metal bands unite into a true five-piece band,
there needs to be some serious in-fighting and friction added
to take this up a notch (or down a ring into the inferno).

Camberwell Now – 22All27s Well 22 – 5BRec Rec Music5D

Thurston Hunger   9/22/2005   A Library, CD

After This Heat flamed out, drummer/vocalist Charles Hayward recorded with Trefor Goronwy (bass, vox and more) and Stephen Rickard (mucking about with tapes) as Camberwell Now. This CD compiles all of the odd art-damaged and deliberate work from that project during its lifespan (1982-86). Much of the work has a morose charm (although the snake-tape handling on “Spirit of Dunkirk” moves more spritely.) Haywards taut
drumming is surpassed only by his interesting lyrical tangents.We wind up with tales of setting sail, of working class weariness. His poetic voice has a nice prophetic thickness to it, and while the songs aren’t easily loaded into memory, once in there they are not easily extracted. Singing styles
are also elasticated into characters, something not enough bands are brave enough to do. I loved this album well before I hit track 10 (another more upbeat number) and found myself singing along to the mantra of my favorite DC hero,

“In brightest day, in blackest night…”
” No evil shall escape my sight…”

Holy Hal Jordan!! Fortunately this didn’t escape the ear of the sonic crusaders at Recommended Records!!

Haiku Review:

This Heat afterburn
Bright sun shines in lyric mind
Dark drums beat below

Mccombs, Cass – “Prefection ” – [Monitor]

mitch   9/16/2005   12-inch, A Library

Juggling fact and fiction via the arching use of
slowcore-inspired organ/keyboard/guitar textures
of repetition, CASS is back ??? good news for fans
who favor rough-edged yet pretty pop???.???Equinox???
opens things with a ringing guitar pattern/swelling
keyboards/syncopated bass notes, each given a
turn at carrying the melody???

???Of all the creatures in the wood /
one law is perfectly understood /
Deep in the heart of Fountainbleau /
The marriage of a whore and a Jew /
the bride???s true dowry black rocks??????

???Subtraction??? builds on a frenetic drum line & one-note
bass???.extra clean guitar work on ???Sacred Heart??? lights
dark lyrical corner with bright musical fa???ade???.???Cuckoo???
is a sulking slouch of perverse moodiness, grey with
foreboding?????????Tourist Woman??? finds MCCOMBS calling
the kettle black with ???.???Romantics are doomed / and
that???s a good thing???.??? Elusive, allusive, high concept
and obscurantist, CASS MCCOMBS (best on # 1, 2, 5,
6, + 9) continues to produce high-quality indie pop.
MITCH September 2005

PDX Pop Now! 2005 [coll] – [PDX Pop Now] (CD)

lombard   9/14/2005   A Library, CD

Non-Profit PDX Pop Now! has as its mission to evangelize music from Portland, Oregon via festivals and compilation CDs. In advance of their August 2005 festival (free and all-ages) they released this collection of Portland artists. It includes heavyweights like Sleater-Kinney and Decembrists (with a previously unreleased demo) along with a variety of pop, rock, electronic, and miscellaneous genred artists. There’s a nice 4-track recording from Mirah, a fun electronic piece from Glass Candy, upbeat girl rock from the Gossip, and a European-feeling gypsy-ish track from Shicky Gnarowitz.

Portland promoters
Pop Rock Electronic Odes
Lovely Ladies too

(added 9-14-2005)
-Cynthia Lombard

A Second Tribute to Jandek: Down in a Mirror [coll] – [Summersteps] (CD)

lombard   9/14/2005   A Library, CD

Reclusive artist Jandek played his first live concert ever in fall 2004 and his first show in the U.S. in August 2005 and played a few more in September, including a NY show. This tribute to him, released in summer 2005 comes out just in time to celebrate his emergence from obscurity. Acoustic, folky, weird spoken word, psychedelic are terms to describe the folks covering Jandek on this release. George Parsons (#10) has the weird spoken piece, Marshmallow Staircase (#8) takes the psych route, and KFJC faves Six Organs of Admittance, Mountain Goats, Okkervil River and Kawabata Makoto round it out. Lots of lo-fi stuff to inspire.

Haiku Review:

Jandek fans rejoice
Folk psychedelic sojourns
Lo-fi beauty nice

(added 9-14-05)
-Cynthia Lombard

Eau Claire – “Eau Claire Ep, the” – [Clairecords]

lombard   9/14/2005   A Library, CD

Released in May 2005 this is an ethereal EP featuring Jessica Bailiff and Rachel Staggs. Bailiff lives in Toledo and released her first album in 1998. Staggs lives in Austin, Texas and was in Austin bands Swells and Experimental Aircraft. Recorded and produced by Low’s Alan Sparhawk (an old friend of Bailiff’s), Eau Claire’s EP is misty, spacy, and fuzzy with buried female vocals. It’s reminiscent of shoe gaze, space rock, with nods to bands like My Bloody Valentine and the mellow side of Lush. Nice beauty. (added 9-14-2005)

-Cynthia Lombard

Fog “10th Avenue Freakout” [Lex]

Hunter Gatherer   9/5/2005   A Library, CD

Fog is Minneapolis, MN native Andrew Broder, and this is his 4th release and 1st one on Lex. Previously he was with Ninja Tune.

I really like the packaging for this CD. It contains step-by-step illustrations showing hunter gatherers killing a mammoth, and there are drawings of different types of spears on the back. I also like the integral symbols that break up the lyrics. Very cool.

Mr. Broder is a strange hybrid turntablist/singer-songwriter/sound-collagist and he lets it all hang out on this CD. The music is a great mixture of natural instruments, samples, and found sounds. I am less fond of the lyrics and vocals, which appear to always be hiding behind something, whether it’s obscure imagery (I’d puncture the lucky planet/And suck out all the magma) or a deliberately flat delivery. By the second song he’s name checking Jesus, the President, and American Idol. He could benefit from some editing.

The music is along the lines of The Books or maybe the Paul Brill we added earlier this year. Martin Dosh helps out on percussion and brightens up the tracks that he’s on. A Murder (track 12) and The Rabbit (track 4) are the strongest tracks in my opinion.

Language: track 6 ‘shitty?

–Hunter Gatherer

Bohren & Der Club Of Gore “Geisterfaust” [Wonder Records]

Hunter Gatherer   9/5/2005   A Library, CD

This is Cologne, Germany-based Bohren & Der Club Of Gore‘s 4th studio album, though they have been playing together since 1988. It was released in 2005. The album title translates as Spirit Hand, and each of the five songs are named after a finger.

Think of silence as an instrument and you are a long way to understanding what this music sounds like. It takes a whole band to play the “slience.” It is spare. It is slo-o-o-w. Like when Bugs Bunny is being chased by Elmer Fudd after they both accidentally get dosed with ether.

It’s bass-heavy with an 8-string bass, contrabass, tubas (plural), and bass trombone. Some people refer to the music as ‘horror jazz? whatever the hell that means.

It’s also very beautiful – light and heavy at the same time. I found it hard to listen to all the way through, apparently because my mind lacks the necessary stillness to follow one of the songs through to the end.

–Hunter Gatherer

Susumu Yokota “Symbol” [Lo Recordings]

Hunter Gatherer   9/5/2005   A Library, CD

Susumu Yokota is in ambient, electronica mode more than house mode in this 4/2005 release called Symbol, his 25th.

In this vibrant and beautiful album, he is creating electronic music and using the entire field of classical music as a sort of music whole cloth to cut from and stitch into his compositions. Sometimes the themes are buried in the music; other times it is holding the piece together.

‘I’m sure I missed at least half of the themes, but I was able to pick out Saint Saens, Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Debussy. This filled me with anxiety because it reminded me of a music appreciation class that was my first ‘B? in college. Stupid, damn electives.

The beautiful female voice heard on some tracks in Meredith Monk. I had to find this out on the web. It wasn’t on the CD packaging.

This is the kind of music that you put on in the background, and when the CD has ended you’ve forgotten what you were doing and you’re sitting down transfixed.
–Hunter Gatherer

Xu Xu Fang – “L.A. During the Winter of ’99 ” – [Cowboy’s Small Sound Ranc]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Rainy radio drama with old time and a main
character named Boone…seconds on Minutemen?
Rumours of some sort of Mike Watt-age here,
so who knows? This is a mysterious package,
like a pair of high heels with blood on their
spikes….and ticking like a bomb. Occasional
road-house rock riffage, and a definite
Chinatown vibe, the project is pronounced
“Shu Shu Fang” if you trust the Tom Arnold
impersonator who appears on here. Fuckin’
ay, KFJC needs to knock out some projects
like this. Gumshoes with gumption.

Cutler, Chris/Dimuzio, Thomas – “Quake ” – [Rer Megacorp]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Two back-to-back stops from their ’99 tour.
Tectonic textured sonics that track. Dimuzio,
a frequent frier on Radio Free Hatred here at
KFJC has always has a nice touch of giving
power electronics a more open, *organic* feel.
Adding Cutler’s perculiar percussion and
recording these live w/ occasional ambient
sounds drifting in, underscores that organic
feel. Don’t fret, there’s still plenty of
electronic netherworld flavor…but it’s the
human melded with the inhuman that elevates
this. -Al Loy

Yoshihide, Otomo/Ostertag, Bob – “Twins ” – [Creativeman Disc]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

1996 musical meiosis from Otomo and Ostertag.
Three originals from Herb Robertson (#1 super
squiggly plunger trumpet), Chris Cutler (#3 a
great flanged percussion meets shortwave piece)
and Yagi Michiyo (17-string blues koto style).
Ostertag’s style is sampler as mutater, heavily
processed layers create momentum-mounting
monoliths. Original input is more disguised or
destroyed. Check #8 – a trumpet train tunnel to
2001.Meanwhile Otomo is more juxtaposer-composer
outside samples (TV, movies) are added. Like
his outstanding Ground Zero work (“Null & Void”),
the results can be humorous. #2 and #6 kick out
some martial sampling arts.
-Thurston Hunger’s Evil Twin

An Ear for a Leg [coll] – [Heartpunch]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Doug Henderson + Guy Yarden rescue some music from
the shadows of forget, okay some of it’s theirs
but 5 other composers are included on this 2-CD set
of pieces for terpsichore. River Dance this is NOT,
mercifully…the 1st CD leans towards slow-motion,
though-dance while the 2nd adds momentum via a
little more propulsive percussion power. Definitely
in post-music territory, imagine dances moving
through multiple gravity. Steps of determination
and even twisting torment at times. Zeena Parkins
is the biggest name, w/ her family and Mark Stewart
she delivers some of the more abrasive/interesting
pieces. (Plus zOar is Elliot Sharp’s label) From
Gamelan junkyard clang to hive morse code to icy
techno embryos to guitar cathedral sweeps to alien
siren whoosh. Trip the sound fantastic.

Sonic Youth (And Friends) – “Goodbye 20TH Century ” – [Syr]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Sonic Youth’s “farewell” will likely be an
introduction for many to modern classical.
I’d almost call this “free classical”, it’s
a far cry from their beginnings in Branca’s
guitar orchestras. Still guitars are a main
focus, bucking, howling, feedbuzzing…like
a break in a SY song expanded and exploded
to life. Aided by other musicians, notably
William Winant (tune/timeful percussion)and
Jim O’Rourke (violin, electronics,?’?) even
joined at times by the composers. It’s hard
to judge these without seeing/knowing the
scores…as classical notation goes out the
window, so goes classical music. I follow.
Coco covers Yoko is a scream/joke and the
Maciunas too is funny *and* compelling as
crucifying a piano w/ hammers should be.
Marclay’s only on one cut,tho’ someone does
a good Christian turn during the 30min Cage
rendition. I hope for a follow-up covering
Ligeti, Part, Gorecki, Riley & Gubaidulina.
‘No/Know the Score?

Wisteria Losenge – “My Life the Chinese Box ” – [Diskatopia]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Macabre cabaret, gothadelic. Twisted/filtered
vox which adopts various characters (I sure
would be interested to see costume changes
accompany the singing changes). Squishy
keyboards, playful industrial style. Maniacal
music boxes rewired. Add in lonely pianos on
deserted oceanliners. The odd histrionic
singing is what will make/break this album
for you. Yodeling ghosts in too much make-up?
Eraserhead covers of Erasure tunes? Jeff
Konrad (former MD for WAUG) aids and abets
but this I think is mostly Eric Honse-sense!

Uberhund – “Inexpensively Embalmed ” – [Cream Cloud]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Guitar guided noise pop. Loose ringing strings,
open tunings (like Polvo or old Sonic Youth)
and whammy bar kings. Male vocals with that
cool physics grad student sneer (you know
sort of an honorary doctor-ed Lou Reed). I’m
dammning this with faint praise but honestly
this rocked my jaded world. Very catchy, those
guitars keep coming at you. Branca busters!
As an album/ep the sound is a little samey,
(or should I say it is consistently good?’)
Last track is a monolithic mantra. Local
label and I believe local band.
This dog will hunt….and rawk.

Belgum, Erik – “Blodder ” – [Innova/American Composers]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Bad marriage mantra counselor Belgum moves on
to some car collision koans and inconvenient
store specials on alley three. Jump-cut
eavesdropping produces non-linear narrations.
Thoughts are blindsided at the intersection
or words, mouths and ears. Overlapping voices
recurring phrases and odd juxtapositions of
voices/concepts really do force you to listen
in a very different manner. Underneath it all
missing testicles, cars driven by dead cops,
and methane suburbs assure the topics are as
peculiar as the manner they are discussed.
Broken Word -Thunger Hurston

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