KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Fursaxa – “Madrigals in Duos ” – [Time-Lag]

Daryl Licht   2/23/2004   12-inch, A Library

Fursaxa is the (mostly) solo project of Tara Burke, a Philadelphia resident
who has been intriguing us for years now with her efforts in a number of
groups, most notably, Un. On ‘Madrigals In Duos? , her third full-length
release, she displays all the required skills to earn her ‘acid folk? merit
badge. Some tracks are more straightforward, in a lo-fi folk-psych vein,
featuring mainly acoustic guitar and vocals. Other tracks shoot straight
for the heart of that 3AM vibe, combining cosmic organ drones with
ghostly, wailing vocals. Finally, there are a couple of noisier tracks, with
dissonant electric guitars and repetitive, driving, hand percussion.
Beautiful and otherworldly music. Mandatory for play on late night shows. DL

Trans Am – “Liberation ” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

Daryl Licht   2/23/2004   12-inch, A Library

‘Liberation?, the 7th full-length release from Washington D. C.’s, Trans Am, finds
the band continuing to feature a familar mix of sonic elements – Krautrock, 80’s
Synthpop, Electro-Ambience, Punk, and Post Rock. Despite its similarity to their
previous work, however, this album represents a new pinnacle of acheivement
for the band. On ‘Liberation?, which features a strong theme of opposition to the
policies of the Bush Administration, the band has a acheived a nearly perfect
synthesis of cover art, ‘lyrical? content, and music. The cuts on this album (most
of which track) flow almost seamlessly from synth-driven Krautrock grooves to
danceable synthpop to late-night, electro-ambient pieces and driving rockers.
The combination of political soundbites/synthesized vocals and ominous
analogue sounds works perfectly to convey their damning indictment of Bush’s
war in Iraq and evoke fear of Big Brother’s ever intrusive gaze/grasp. A beautiful
record – sonically diverse and conceptually complete. Highly recommended! DL

Parts & Labor “Groundswell” [JMZ Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/18/2004   A Library, CD, Format

Brooklyn trio tapping into that Lightning Bolt voltage.
Whip-ass drummer Jim Sykes (ultimately replaced by
Joel Saladino) and buzzneck bassist BJ Warshaw create
furious instro flurries. What helps these stand out from
other Bolt babies is keyboardist Dan Friel, he adds a
sense of *disobedient* electronics. Notes pitch-flip up
octaves at a time, wires get crossed, no glissando
all blitzando. Actually all members are credited with
electronics, so it could well be a group effort. The
key is that sense of abandon over both monolithic and
manic rhythm cores. Track #4 features something like
a theremin in desperate need of ritalin. This is their
debut from Feb 2003, since then they’ve evidently
braved vocals. It would be cool to hear them hook up
with a Alan Vega lyric-droner…or maybe lace some
NYC saxaholic in their melee.

NOTE: Last track ends at 3:32 (then a slow drone that
ultimately reprises #1’s short wash for “closure”)

Mahjongg “Machine Gong” [Cold Crush]

Thurston Hunger   2/11/2004   A Library, CD, Format

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, before teenravers
ruled the technomatic dancefloor in e-induced dehydration,
kids used to dance to rock music. This clumsy collection
of five freaks recall that time and stumble to the beat
on this dance rock set of songs. I dig the 8-bit eq on
the first three “songs” (track one is something like a
cassette recording of an airplane?). Most of the songs
feature some sort of choppiness to an instrument or
voice or Atari console in the mix… Yeah if Guided by
Voices had been raised on a strict diet of the Bush
Tetras then your Mom and Dad would never have met and
so forth. I think this band will prove to be more
wonderfully fucked up over time, allegedly they are
a tri-state affair from Chicago, Missouri and Oregon.
This release does not cover nearly as much territory.
Percussion percolated to your taste.

New Circle Five “Dreaming Wide Awake” [Deep Listening]

Thurston Hunger   2/4/2004   A Library, CD, Format

Wonder women Pauline Oliveros and Susie Ibarra create a
five-pointed circle rounded out with vocalista Kristin
Norderval, Rosi Hertlein on violin (some voice too) and
Monique Buzzarte on various deeper winds. Operatic scat
will leap out at your ears somewhat but Norderval and
Hertlein are grounded in the texts they are breathing
life into. Ibarra is subtle but strong, opening beaded
percussion doors into songs…high chimes, soft cymbals,
distant thundertom rumbles. Oliveros’ accordion sets
up plenty of sonic fields, droney vortices, but she is
also suprisingly nimble in other parts. This is on
Oliveros’ Deep Listening label (and way of life); true
to form the performers do listen deeply, the sound is
both light with space between players/singers and
heavy with tension from drones augmented by Buzzarte’s
clouds of thick trombone, and from Hertlein’s anxiety
violin attack. Polyglot sotto vices.

Clearlake – “Cedars ” – [Domino Records]

mitch   1/16/2004   A Library, CD

Bleak and despairing sophomore release from Sussex coast
quartet articulately explores a personal inventory of
madness, death, loss, self-loathing and resilient honor
arrived at via lacerating wit. A document of heartbreak
and the sensibilities of vulnerability amid drizzle-filled
days of assumed and inevitable failure and self-depreciation
(aided greatly by producer Simon Raymonde of COCTEAU TWINS) as
confessed by frontman Jason Pegg, who elicits beauty in melan-
choly and melancholy behind beauty from stalwart members Sam
Hewitt (keyboards), David Woodward (bass), and James Butcher
(drums)???..???The last thing you???re expecting when you???re
looking for a window / is to see it look so grey??????
[???Wonder if the Snow???] Strings drive tracks like ???The Mind is
Evil??? with a harmonic tension, while a simplistic basic piano
line fuels ???Keep Smiling???, giving to maleficent desire ???I???d Like
to Hurt You??? and a soul-searching mitigation ???Trees in the City???.
The juxtaposition of uplifting and wonderful arrangement with the
coal-colored sentiment places Pegg???s alto to a reverent self-drama,
competing with murals of feedback, keyboards and chanting
(especially ???Come into the Darkness???) in a see-saw battle of
greenery vs. metropolis (sample the inverted Golden Rule of selfish
motivation inside ???Treat Yourself with Kindness???,,,,??????Do unto
yourself as you might wish thy will be done by someone else??????)
Melodic and majestic to the drenching limit (with superb use of
minor keys throughout)and conceived by the band in France and
Brighton, the edge here is lyrical atop a bed of raw and evocative
sonics ??? gorgeous melodics in support of forensic observations.
MITCH January 2004

Bernard Parmegiani “a memoire des sons” [INA/GRM]

Thurston Hunger   12/17/2003   A Library, CD, Format

Another French pioneer in the realms of musique concrete
with Pierre’s Henri and Schaeffer. Parmegiani has worked
in TV/films as well, and the sounds here, whether from
his select memory…or aiming to trigger memories in
each listener…do seem to be more visual than some
other’s work. He’s got nice texture in these three long
tracks, constructed over a much longer time: 1967,
1987 and 2001. Despite those 34 years, standing aside
each other there is a flow (unlike say sci-fi movies
across a similar chronochasm). The first has more of
the explosive cut style (maybe from more primitive tape
handling). The second works loops more often, and has
voices and thus on a simple level, a more human feel
as well as time ticking in clocks and water drops. The
third and title cut is the most cinematic, including
soaring strings to underscore emotion. Add chimes
and crackling bramble, digeridoo and fanciful computer
flybys. Serve in slices, or complete.

Califone – “Heron King Blues ” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

mitch   12/16/2003   12-inch, A Library

Hot on the heels of 2003???s ???Quicksand / Cradlesnakes??? comes this concept LP
of recurring dream and Druid legend. A half-man, half-bird figure of legend
haunts these sprawling mirages of ancient battle and laconic, ethereal interim;
squalls of darkness patch themselves between melodic loam and numerological
tension alongside the mercy and revenge of elephant-horns, muted drums,
pump organ, slide guitar, treated piano, violin, fretless banjo and omnipresent
electronic looping. The vision belongs to vocalist Tim Rutili, along with bandmates
Ben Massarella (percussion), Jim Becker (guitars, keyboards) and Joe Adamik
(reeds, horns) and is brought to realization with producer Michael Krassner &
the usual Chicago all-star sessioneers : Wil Hendricks (bass), Fred Lonberg Holm
(cello), et. al. A product of extemporaneous creation in the studio and the
spectre of metaphysics outside of it, Rutili is a long long way from RED RED MEAT
days ??? though the riverbeds still swirl with enigma, it is the topography of semi-
coma that now presupposes symbolism, moving CALIFONE toward a more
compelling interpretation of an ancient future.
MITCH December 2003

Yoshimi & Yuka “Flower with No Color” [Ipecac]

Thurston Hunger   10/29/2003   A Library, CD, Format

Avant-exotica? Much in the vein of Yoshimi’s
earlier picture disk. The other reason “Y”
is Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto, who adds a lot
of tinkling key work. Yoshimi also brings
the trumpet more to the front at times,
it has appeared a little bit in her OOIOO
project. Nuns on mescaline singing/keening
in parts…and lot’s o’ fauna doing backup
vox (birds, dogs and insects). As legend,
or perhaps just marketing, has it…this
CD was created at a temple atop Mt. Ikoma
after hiking all of the instruments up
there. (So I guess that’s an electric
piano on much of the album ;>) I prefer
the tracks where the “bamboo” percussion
makes an early entrance. En trance in
trance tranq quill trance end.

Aichinger, Oskar “Synapsis” [Between-the-Lines]

Thurston Hunger   10/27/2003   A Library, CD, Format

Vienna-based pianist delivers a precise and poetic
release. His quartet here includes Stefan Nemeth on
synthesizer, their interplay is like a dog and a cat
that get along…somewhat surprising and all the more
enjoyable to observe because of that. Territories are
not marked strictly, and at times prepared treatment
for Oskar blurs the line where the piano stops. Much
of the work here has a crystalline beauty; precise
stops in phrases (like question marks hanging), quick
but bright clusters, and lighter than air work on the
upper 44 keys. Deep sea bass work by Achim Tang (with
some scrubbing/bowing) and percussive punctuation by
Paul Skrepek add significantly. The invisible fifth
member of the quartet is Christoph Amman, who captured
this in a gorgeous recording, don’t miss it.

Matmos “The Civil War” [Matador]

Thurston Hunger   10/21/2003   A Library, CD, Format

Hard to separate the irony from the gold, hard to
filter the sample from the directly generated (or
should I say degenerated) sound. Perhaps that is the
split in this war? Or could it be that Drew Daniel
and M.C. Schmidt find themselves at each other’s
throats after jetsetting about as Bjork-End BoyToys?
Well if they are each others throats, it is only to
record the sound of blood in the carotid artery
(that and music made from rabbit pelt are purportedly
among the sonic inputs at work here). Listen to their
rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever” these guys
may be too clever for their own good. But this is
the future, sampling not as a mode of deconstruction
but rather Reconstruction. And perhaps that would
have been a more fitting title to this album of
mechano-server marches and madness? Having seen
them with her Bjorkness, I hope beyond innovation
and technique, they will help lead a rallying of
performance and presentation, a point where power
electronics is often all mouse, no man.

Kaito – “Band Red” – [Spinart]

Thurston Hunger   8/6/2003   A Library, CD

Noise pop deluxe. Tangled hair and broken guitar
strings…pull ’em out the skin and let the lady
scream/sing. That ain’t no lady, it’s Nikki Colk.
Punky and profficient. And pile on petulant as
well. Her vocals would make a snail panic. Her
voice flails, often over a raucous chorus. Those
choruses sound like chipmunks at kung fu class.
At times Colk’s lead voice has the fideliy of
a fast-food drive-up-window. Sophomore release
from these Brighton’d whites thrills with shrill.
But it delivers….rarely relaxing the pace.
“Nothin New” is kinda dainty, “Moi” is a cuckoo
clock in a cowboy hat. “3am” is the comedown,
passed out in a grandfather clock. Lyrics read
as though lifted from diaries before sobering up.
Guitar goes 90 mph the wrong way on the xpressway
to yer skull. Don’t forget to rock?

-Thurston Hunger

Smog – “Accumulation: None” – [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   4/3/2003   12-inch, A Library

Flotsam and sinksam from Bill Callahan. Well
captured in oft rough recordings. We’ve got
vapor-lock blues, anti-rock star heroics
(“It’s Not Gonna Be a Hit”) and the ol’
Smog favorite, collapsible relationships.
He seems like a guy who’s counting on the
big nasty breakup even in the honeymoon
phase of a relationship. (“I Break Horses”)
There’s a flare somehow in the flatness of
Callahan’s voice, and as well as anyone
he can make the lurid, alluring. I like
the fact that many Smog songs, when they hit
the spot where the bridge should come they
almost go flatline. Hell, the songs start
off with pretty economical lyrics and guitar
playing and then they lose their shirt and
their way for awhile….till the next verse
comes along and gives ’em a ride back to
tune. On the lighter side, Callahan does
quote “Baby’s Got Back” on the tail end
(where else) of “Real Live Dress”
-Thurston Hunger

Smog – “Supper” – [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   4/3/2003   A Library, CD

A new release going up at the same time as
his Accumulation time capsule. Bill Callahan
has the detached disdain handed down through
various undergrounds, Velvet and otherwise.
The sharpness of his lyrics, and his acerbic
stage persona always command my attention.
The songs here are less dilapidated as he’s
got a real live band behind him, and his
fondness/fiendishness with the femme fatales
has been displaced by a love of conundrums.
There’s some solid cognitive dissonance he’s
dishing out…and “Truth Serum” and “Guiding
Light” are just well crafted.
-Thurston Hunger

Jackie-O Motherfucker – “Change” – [Textile Records]

Daryl Licht   3/22/2003   12-inch, A Library

Jackie-O Mofo checks in with this field report as they continue on their journey
down the path of musical exploration and cut-out bin obscurity. Always a fairly
‘free? unit, Jackie-O has toned down the louder, more raucous elements of
their earlier releases in favor of a more textured, organic approach. The
opening track, ‘Everyday?, sets the standard for that new (sub)genre that all
the alleged ‘Americana? experts have completely missed: late-night, downcast,
‘free country?. ‘Sun Ray Harvester? is an eastern-tinged piece of atmospheric,
bang and clatter, basement improv/psych. ‘7″ is a 47 second waste of vinyl.
‘777 (Tombstone Massive)? mines a similar vein as ‘Sun Ray Harvester? ,
except the eastern influences are replaced by more jazzy elements and the
track is way more chaotic, in general, due to the abrupt changes that occur as
a result of the track’s ‘cut and paste? editing.The album’s final track, ‘Fantasy
Hay Co-Op? is another tense, late-night offering that centers around a couple
of repetitive figures and is, as a result, more focused and satisfying (IMHO) than
‘777 (Tombstone Massive)? . Overall, this is quite an interesting and enjoyable
release. Play! DL

Kinski – “Airs Above Your Station ” – [Subpop]

Daryl Licht   3/17/2003   12-inch, A Library

After 30+ years of psych/spacerock, it takes something pretty special to really make an
impact on me. Unfortunately, this latest full-length from Seattle’s Kinski (their third) is
not such an album. It is, however, an enjoyable record of (mostly) instrumental contemporary psych/spacerock, filled with the standard elements of the (sub)genre: analogue synth tones and drones, Krautrock rhythms, and thick, shoegaze, distorto-haze, applied in different combinations and intensities on various tracks to create music that is at some times spare, delicate, and melodic and other times is propulsive and soaring. ‘Semaphore? (which should already be familar to you, as a live version of it was included, under a different title, on KFJC’s, ?…Devil’s Triangle, Vol. 4? compilation) and ‘Rhode Island Feakout? are the most straight-up rockers on the album. Both versions of ‘I Think I Blew It? are blissed out, ambient solo pieces by leader Chris (Ampbuzz) Martin. I find ‘Your Lights Are (Out Or) Burning Badly? to be reminiscent of GYBE, but in a shorter and way stripped down form. ‘Schedule For Using Pillows And Beanbags? is the album’s epic centerpiece. As I said, certainly nothing groundbreaking, but still an enjoyable listening experience. DL

Migrantes – “Monsoon Moods ” – [Eclipse Records]

Daryl Licht   2/19/2003   12-inch, A Library

This is the second full-length release from the Arizona Duo, Migrantes.
Two tracks (A2 and B2) are actual songs in a folk psych vein. The
remaining four tracks are more ‘otherworldly?, Featuring mainly droning
organ and Caroline’s ethereal, effected vocals. ‘Gesture?, which
features Jason on electric guitar, is the most loud/aggressive of these
tracks, while ‘Baboquivari?, offers the most pure drone bliss. A nice
soundtrack for rainy days and late nights. For those about to float…DL

Davis Redford Triad – “Code Orange ” – [Holy Mountain]

Daryl Licht   2/5/2003   A Library, CD

Hot on the heels of their recent stunning live performances (one at the Hemlock and one here
at KFJC), comes this new disc from the Davis Redford Triad. ‘Code Orange? is a live collage of
performances from their Spring 2002 tour. It includes material from their prvious releases, as
well as rocked-out, electric versions of material from leader Steven Wray Lobdell’s excellent solo
album, ‘Automatic Writing By The Moon?. In addition, there are three new pieces, which will
appear onthe next DRT studio album. All the tracks are instrumental psych jams, some more
Krautrock influenced, others more middle-eastern tinged, but all driven by the unique,
effects-laden, colorful sonic attack of Lobdell and his old ES335. Overall, this certainly is worth a
spin or two, but I can’t deny that it seems a little pale in comparison to the scorching brilliance of
their recent shows. More proof that Dolphy was right. DL

Mus /Coti Split Single [coll] – [Pop Art Records]

mitch   7/16/2002   A Library, CD

COTI is famed producer/sound engineer on the Greek electronic
indie scene; he has 2 LPs out on of mostly ambient
electro melodics, and one more recent on that veers
toward a deep listening, gentle Moor Music / harmonious landscape.
???Crab Promenade??? is an outtake for those sessions, using a seaside
melody as backdrop, it skips along over ascetic rocks & sensual
whirlpools in an unflagging example of clean + sedate parallel melo-
harmonics/percussive electronica. Much the left-brain at the beach
to this, the left side, that is. The MUS track previously appeared on
???Little Darla Has a Treat For You V. 18???, and strolls the fashion
runway with a definite andalusian couture; subtle, stylish & serene ???
small jacket, flared skirt over layers of lace and tulle, detailed perhaps
with beaded frills and a bliss-out of pristine dimensions. Delectable,
of elaborate embroidery, as if finding a slow moment in this messy
world, ???Dexase Apagar??? is a pause of serenity in a swelter of frivolity.
Sanguine sounds from Greece and Spain.
MITCH July 2002

Carissa’s Wierd – “You Should Be at Home Here ” – [Brown Records]

mitch   7/16/2002   A Library, CD

Improving on debut, ???Ugly But Honest???, producer Chris Walla
delivers a recording of immediate/emotional power within a
carefully balanced parameter of acoustic string instruments,
resonant lo-fi percussion and songs that are like secrets,
veiled in violin & whispered in sleeping beauteous emulsion.
CARISSA???S WEIRD founders Mat Brooke + Jean Ghetto
front this 5-piece, which also includes accordionist Jeff Hellis,
Sarah Standard on violin & drummer Ben Bridwell; having
emigrated from Tucson AZ to Seattle with dreams of wistful
contemplation (note somber tones + musical shades of grey)
and a not-to-be-outdone riffing that adds a nice low-end punch
to the material. Picks???.???Brooke Daniel???s Tiny Broken Fingers???
???I did not think those screams were for real???.??? Opening with a
woeful violin line, it arrives finally with a medical solution???.the
haunted ???The Color That Your Eyes Changed??? is a sad, blurred
waltz of elegant harmony & displacement???..???Blessed Arms That
Hold You Tight??? is Ghetto???s finest moment???.??????it???s all long good-
byes???..??? sung with such an ephemeral nondeliberation of beauty
that it becomes clear why the band scribbled out their lyrics in the
accompanying booklet???.no point in overstating the obvious.
MITCH July 2002

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