KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Slow Poisoners, The – “Melodrama” [Rocktopus!]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

The Slow Poisoners are Andrew Poisoner and Rick ‘Foxx? Trott. These guys have a 4-track and they are not afraid to use it. Well, probably they have some digital recording equipment that sounds like a 4-track. Point being, the songs definitely do not suffer from overproduction. Andrew and Foxx play all instruments with the exception of some trumpet on track 4. The songs are simple, mostly uptempo, clean sounding pop with clever, easily understood lyrics. This is not art. This is entertainment (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Note – Tracks 2, 6, and 13 comprise a 3-act melodrama of the handle-bar-mustachioed-villain-ties-the-girl-to-the-train-tracks variety.
Favorites – 4 (Todo Es Mal!), 7, 8, 11 (a piano rag, instrumental), 14
16 is a cover of This Little Light of Mine.
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Einst?rzende Neubauten – “9-15-2000, Brussels” [Caroline]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

A live, 2 disk recording from Einst’zende Neubaten. The music ranges from seductive (in a German sort of way) to aggressive and noisy. The instrumentation is heavy, driving bass, captivating vocals that recall a more German Peter Gabriel, and some excellent use of auxiliary percussion, noisemakers, and electronics. The bass and the intense vocals (even when I don’t understand them) are in every track really hold the whole thing together. Lyrics vacillate between German and English. All clean as far as I know (since I don’t speak German). It expertly toes the line between being catchy/hooky and edgy/noisy). Not a bad track on here.
Favorites:
CD1 – 2 (seductive), 3, 5 (includes a funny ‘introducing the band? bit), 9 (electronica/dance sound)
CD2 – 2 (a long, slow build of intensity), 4, 6 (fantastic intense percussion, ends with ~1:40 of applause), 8, 9 (seductive)
Notes:
CD1 – 8 (1:00 spoken intro, funny)
CD2 – 1 (1:20 spoken intro in German), 3 (entire track is applause),
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John Berberian and the Rock East Ensemble – “Middle Eastern Rock” [Acid Symposium]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD, International

Middle-eastern acid rock led by oud player John Berberian (an oud is kind of a fat mandolin). The music incorporates Middle Eastern and Armenian instrumentation and rhythms with western jazz, soul, and funk. Track 3 has some Armenian vocals; other tracks are entirely instrumental. Very groovy, laid back stuff. Break out the hookah, pick any track, and enjoy!
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Big City Orchestra – “Just Where is That Sound Coming From?” [Big City Orchestra]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

Subtitled Exclusive Tracks for Radio Friends, and with the name of the group misspelled on the cover(!), Big City Orchestra has been so kind as to provide us with 14 tracks of experimental ambience. Imagine some old piece of Sci-fi where the heroes were adventuring through the body of some kind of giant organic robot-being; here are the sounds, including the heart (1), the blood stream (2), the cerebellum (3), the language center of the brain (6), the bladder (9), and the bowels (12). Subdued enough to be used as beds, but interesting enough to stand on their own. If you were looking for some good haunted house music, you need look no further.
The cover only shows 9 track titles, but I think they are just suggested titles for any of the tracks, rather than being linked to specific ones. I’ve made some decisions for Zookeeper purposes, but feel free to mix it up.
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The Faint – “Wet From Birth” [Saddle Creek]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

It turns out that catchy, hooky, 80’s-style electronic dance-pop didn’t die, it just moved to Omaha! Wet From Birth joins the 2 excellent The Faint CDs already in the library and provides 10 more tracks of music to listen to while wearing black lipstick, black fingernail polish, black boots, and black shirts with black designs. What Depeche Mode could have been if they weren’t so insufferable. My favorites are tracks 1, 2, 6, and 9, but you really can’t go wrong with any track. Play this!
There is ostensibly a video on here in MP4 format, but I couldn’t get it to play.
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Tracy and the Hindenburg Ground Crew – “Great Day” [Action Box Records]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

This is presumably the same band as Ace T and the Hindenburg Ground Crew (for whom we have a 7″ 33), but while that disc is pretty much a novelty, this album is a bit more substantial.
Quirky pop that’s not really hi-fi or lo-fi, but somewhere in between (medium-fi?). Some elements of The Residents, but probably a little more of They Might Be Giants. Songs are by turns thoughtful (2, 8, 10, 13), funny (3, 6, 9, 12), or just kind of strange (1, 4, 7, 8). If there is a space for pop on your show, you should find something to like here.
Language: 12
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Adams, John – “Road Movies” [Nonesuch Records]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Neo-classical post-minimalism from composer, San Francisco Conservatory of Music mainstay, and 2003 Pulitzer Prize winner John Adams. This CD contains new recordings of several Adams works. Road Movies uses piano and violin, while the others have only piano (2 pianos on Halleluiah Junction).
The music is consonant, beautiful, and warm. It is simple without crossing the line into banality that would classify it as ‘new age.’ My favorites tracks are the slightly more strident ones (1, 3, 6, 8).
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People Like Us & Kenny G – “Nothing Special” [Soleil Moon]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

High weirdness from WFMU DJ Kenny G and People Like Us (Vikki Bennett). Arrhythmic sound collages pieced together from a number of sources. Tracks involve cutting together one or more 40’s-60’s ballads with audio samples from movie/tv/other. It transcends the ironic or satirical into the realm of weirdness for the sake of weirdness. Sometimes tracks track together. My favorites are tracks 1 (Language!), 6, and 12, but really you can choose any track if you feel a need to inject some bizarreness into your show.
Language: 1, 11 (both contain the spoken word ‘vagina? repeatedly and clearly).
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Roots of Orchis – “Cracked Ceilings” [Slowdance]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

A 2 disk set from Roots of Orchis. Disk 1 is their originals. Disk 2 is remixes of old Roots of Orchis tunes.
Disk 1 is beautiful, mellow, instrumental psych-trance created using bass, percussion, keyboards, and occasionally some very minimal guitar.
The Disk 2 remixes are still mellow, but most have a more glitchy feel. Exceptions are track 4, which has an indie-pop feel, track 7, which is more guitar driven, and track 8 (language), which is hip-hoppy.
LANGUAGE: Disk 2, Track 8. Also, this track has a 20 second ‘false start?.

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[coll] WFMU Radio Archival Oddities Vol. II

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

A 2 CD set put out by the folks at WFMU. Disk 1 is made up of non-WFMU radio moments that The Professor found ‘compelling, funny, or just plain odd?. Disk 2 is a collection of moments from WFMU broadcasts. The booklet provides an excellent overview of the clips. My favorites are:
1: 7 – The Black Pope; a Texas/Louisiana radio personality who sounds like a less grounded George Clinton (1979). Insane.
1: 14 – It’s Friday! An unknown DJ on an unknown station with a semi-orgiastic paean to Fridays. Awsome.
1: 15 and 16 – Neil Rogers and Bob Lassiter, respectively, taking apart ignorant callers.
1: 20 and 21 – John Lennon schilling for Tower Records and alarm clocks, respectively.
1: 23 – 8/18/1998 Tampa station WFLA manages to get in touch with a man who had shot a cop and was currently holding a hostage in a gas station. Chilling.
1: 24 – 9/11/2001 The first tower falls.
2: 4 (LANGUAGE!) ? WFMU DJ Vanilla Bean calls a phone sex service.
2:22 Call to Henny Youngman during a fundraiser. Hilarious
Language: Disk 1 – 19 Disk 2: 4, 10, 15, 26
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The Advantage – “The Advantage”

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

The Advantage is a Canadian 4 piece band that plays covers of music from Nintendo (ORIGINAL NES) games. Is it a gimmick? Sure! But it’s still fun! The band is made up of 2 guitars, bass, and drums. Interesting to hear this synthesizer music played without a keyboard. Tracks are very short (none over 3 minutes, many under 1 minute). Tracks from the same game usually track together.

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Anonymous 4 – “American Angels” [Harmonia Mundi]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

4 woman a cappella versions of American sacred songs of the 18th and 19th century. The voices are good but not spectacular. The arrangements are intentionally very simple, attempting to recreate these songs as they actually would have been sung. The production is probably a bit heavy on reverb, but it makes them sound like they are being sung in a church, which is certainly appropriate. It’s all pretty, simple, and sincere.
Tracks that stand out to me are 1, 7 (Amazing Grace), 10, 13, and 20.

Kitten On the Keys – “Pretty Princess Day” [Rug Burn Records]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

Kitten on the Keys Is Suzanne Ramsey, a San Francisco based one woman burlesque show. Live she performs on a piano. On this album she uses piano, toy piano, Wurlitzer, and Ukulele. Her voice is a bit ‘cute little girl? that belies the bawdy nature of her lyrics.
Tracks 3, 6, 8, 16, and 18: Covers of 30’s-40’s style standards.
Track 11: Cover of an anonymous 1929 song called ‘My Girl’s Pussy?. The meaning of ‘pussy? here is, of course, intentionally vague.
Track 4: Cover of some new-agey ballad. I’d skip this one.
Track 1: A brief cover of ‘Anarchy in the UK?, Betty Boop style.
Everything Else: Originals. The lyrics are very burlesque style, often filled with double entendres (and quite a few single entendres). They mostly deal with various and sundry fetishes, such as furries (5 and 14), nurses (12), feet (2) and panty sniffing (17). A lot of funny stuff! Play it!
Language: The only unequivocal bad word is ‘shitty? on Track 7. However, the following tracks contain pretty graphic descriptions of genitalia and/or sex, even if they don’t have swearing, per se: 2, 5, 9, 14, 15, 17.

Tanakh – “Dieu Deuil” [Alien8]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Laid back psyche-folk. Pretty ballads with mournful gypsy-style fiddle, guitar, and the strong, clear, calm vocals of Jesse Poe. My favorites:
1 – Features some nice female backing vocals)
2 – A slow build of shimmery intensity using military-style snare drum, flameco-style guitar, and soaring vocals.
7 – Instrumental that showcases a very sad ‘gypsy? fiddle sound over a host of percussion that sounds like it includes a number of ‘found? instruments (i.e. banging on pieces of metal, wind chimes, etc). Despite it’s more percussive feel, it is still very mellow.
8 – Ballad featuring an interplay of Poe’s voice, a very sad and mournful slide guitar, and later in the track, the gypsy fiddle. This track makes me tear up if I attend to it fully.
Tracks 3, 5, and 7 are instrumentals.
Track 6 ends with ~40 seconds of near-silence.

Hypnotech 3 – “Prescription Electronics” [Futursonic]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Mellow, tripped out electronica from Canada. All instrumental, with the exception of some spoken vocal samples on track 1. Tracks 2, 4, and 7 are more ambient, while the others have a bit of a dance beat to them. All very mellow and relaxing, just the thing to listen to during ‘coming down? part of your rave while the light-sticks are fading out and you are eating the candy necklaces.

Branca, Glenn – “Lesson No. 1” [Acute Records]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

A re-issue of three Glenn Branca pieces.
Track 1 (‘Lesson #1 for Electric Guitar?) is a shimmery, ambient piece of minimalist guitar music.
Track 2 (‘Dissonance?) features multiple tempo changes and some frenetic and chaotic percussion (including sledgehammer). Listening to it gives me a palpable feel of dread, probably a result of the cognitive dissonance of listening to these ‘rock? instruments creating what is clearly a neo-classical composition.
Track 3 (‘Bad Smells?) is a neo-classical guitar piece in several movements. It starts out with a kind of up-tempo prog-rock beat, then dissolves into chaos; after surfacing briefly as a funk-informed drum-and-bass jam, it then tumbles over the cliff of chaotic guitar chords over a bed of pretty synthesizer chords.
There’s also a quicktime video on here of ‘Symphony No. 5?, a guitar/drum/bass drone. The sound quality is pretty terrible on this (I can see the drummer, but I can barely make out any drumming), but it is amusing to see Branca ‘conduct? by leaping and convulsing about the stage like David Byrne on PCP.
‘Lesson #1 For Electric Guitar? and ‘Dissonance? were originally released as the two sides of a 12″ single in 1980. ‘Bad Smells? was originally released in 1982.

NOXAGT – “The Iron Point” [Load Records]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Heavy minimalist instrumental rock out of Norway. The bass and drums lay down heavy, thudding grooves and guitar and violin/viola screech over the top. This is music designed to be played loud enough to peel paint. A couple more dark/ambient pieces as well, if heavy thuddery doesn’t do it for you.
Tracks grouped by type:
1, 3, 6 – Slow and heavy.
2, 4 – Upbeat and heavy.
5 – Speed-metal fast and heavy
8 – Starts off speed-metal fast, transitions to mid-tempo, and then ends with about 1:30 of industrial ambient drone/whine.
7 – Synth-organ chords with and old man (the Violist’s grandfather). Singing in Norwegian. Darkly pretty and more than a little creepy.
10 – Industrial drone with a sparse drum beat. Piano chords start showing up about halfway through.
Liner notes are bizarre. To read them, it sounds like they are a country band recording in Nashville (‘plain, honest, down-home music?).
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Beck, Thavius – “Decomposition” [Mush Records]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

While Mush Records is a hip-hop label, this doesn’t sound like hip-hop to me. I would call it pseudo-industrial trip-hop, if I had to call it anything. Mostly what I would call it is dark and heavy. It’s the sort of music that makes me want to go to Ocean Beach on the grayest day of the year and stare out over the waves and contemplate my own insignificance.
What impresses me about this release is that he manages to keep up this consistency of tone while changing beats and tempos like mad. Beats include Industrial (2, 6, 7, 10), Trip-hop (4, 5), pseudo-Drum and Bass (3, 8, 12), Electronica/Glitch (9), and Mellow/Ambient (1, 11, 13).
Track 1 features eerie spoken vocals. Tracks 2, 7, and 13 feature deeply voiced rapping. Track 10 has vocals (the lyrics are in the book), but they are mixed so low as to be incomprehensible.
All tracks clean.

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[coll] 10 + 2: American Text Sound Pieces [Other Minds]

stingray   1/13/2005   A Library, CD

What it is: Vocal (but-non-singing) works of American avant garde composers.
What it sounds like:
1. The words ‘Rainbow? ‘Chug?, ‘Bandit? and ‘Bomb? sampled and looped.
2. A somewhat cut up speech about modern music that references track 1.
3. A cut up speech that talks about John Cage.
4. Vocal screeches, hisses and groans. Somehow based on the name ‘Merce Cunningham?
5. A woman reading a recipe and a fantasy novel edited together with a warbley echo. FUCK.
6. The word ‘bang? over and over again. Originally a locked groove.
7 and 8. Originally a single track. A synthesized voice repeating the same words with pitch shifting.
9. Quickly spoken words that are hard to make out over a background of electronic noodling.
10. The composer makes vocal noises (‘eh eh eh ah ah ih?) in the background while her mother speaks about her in the foreground.
11. A poem being read one word at a time while being written on a chalkboard.
12. Several conversations with telephone operators that overlap.
13. The word ‘crickets? over and over. Originally a locked groove.
About the recording: Rerelease of 1975 LP on the Arch label. Biographies included in the liner notes are c. 1975.

Fontaine, Brigitte “Brigitte Fontaine” [Saravah]

Thurston Hunger   1/9/2005   A Library, CD, Format

1972 a completely fascinating audio enchantment. Fontaine
sounds strong but soft, subtle yet striking. She’s always the
focal vocal point accompanied by sparse backing and sometimes
just naked by herself (or herselves as several tracks feature
great moments of Brigitte multitracked like the beginning of
#2, #6 & #8 which features gaspy sobs as well!) At other
times she’s pitched up against a more gravelly male voice
(Areski I believe who she would record more with). It starts
with a breezy folk-pop smile of a song but boom #2 kicks off
with a piercing shriek. On track #3 we have a few seconds of
audie realite babysitting, then #4 a ponderous chamber ditty
that recalls Nico. Before this scant 30 minutes is up you
will have heard incorporated a cuckoo clock approach, a
harmonium harmonizing with Brigitte and then protest shouts,
sad pining with an Arabic lilt (Areski’s influence?), other
moments that feel like hymns and it ends up with a kind of
proggy number. Lady Fontaine is a champion chameleon, an
artful performer and in my estimation an absolute and
essential genius. French and twisted! Worship her.

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