KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Architecture in Helsinki “Fingers Crossed” [Bar/None]

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

Pillow talk rock sung by perpetual prepubescents in their
Human League t-shirts. You get the feeling Burt Bacharach
would even smile when he gets that Helsinki feeling. Bass
lines bubble up with mirth, banks of toy pianos teletype
a rosy colored glass more than twice half-full. Yep this
is an album that is positively brimming, positively beaming.
If Mitch LeMay does not like this, then run for cover as
the end of the world is nigh. If you don’t like it, the
vocals are probably just too damn fluffy for you. Or
maybe it was the kazoo? Maybe you have a problem with
merry-go-rounds…that’s possibly the ideal setting for
sitting with these sounds spinning. The collective draws
from many global points, yet none of them in Finland. The
band however was born in Melbourne. Casio tones for the
plainfully together?

Ape Has Killed Ape “Another Fraudulent Hoax” [self]

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

Matt Stein is top banana in Ape Has Killed Ape. He also
is the erstwhile drummer for Leather Hyman. His talky
vocals with telephony squelch cannot help but recall
“Flash and the Pan” for me. First track has rock 101
appeal, second track is lazy three-chord, three-beer
acoustic ditty, third track is an instro interluude key
crawler, the fourth lays out tribal drums and tangled
effect-strafed guitar, the fifth’s an instro at a
bottling company with anthem lite guitar, the sixth
fills theremin trills in the space between a collapsed
relationship. Lastly Stein is joined by a rowdy Roddy
McDowell sample for “The Fall of Man.” This CD has
about as much evolution in it as a Georgia textbook.
Stein will keep working with his little four-track
until they pry it from his cold, dead fingers and
opposable thumbs.

Antarcticans, the “The New Black”

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

Mystical epics carved with glacial grace by this 5-piece from
Pasadena. Lengthy instro excursions climb through God Speed
clouds up and over the Holy Mountain. Excellent use of the
rise and fall of dynamics, as if the listener finds resting
caves along the way, only to catch a second and a third wind,
along with a second and third guitarist to boot. Track one
hits a pagan celebration about 10 minutes in, Io Pan indeed.
Track two begins bending an angular riff over a broken half
step at the temple to some two-headed god. Janus? The god
gets angry, then blissfully calm, then angry again. The band
seems to have a firm grasp on how long to ride a passage
before moving on to other territory. The last track finds
all five adrift on an iceberg with the mummified remains of
Florian Fricke. Nice harmonics tick up to a squall around
6:50 in…large auditorim reverb billowing on quick picked
guitar that mounts in fury till 11 minutes or so…then its
a very slow fade to white, which is the new black. Somewhere
between the 12- and 32-minute marks that song vanishes into
thin air.

O’Hara, Alexis “In Abulia” [Grenadine]

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

Wordy-gurdy, spinning songs in costume and in
character. Split personalities outnumber the
languages (French and English) featured here.
Breathy-bop and bleat-box on #7. A special
episode of COPS on #10, with nice imitation
helicopters overhead. #12 lays down a John
Carpenter bass for tension, then pushes
voices in your head and in the mouth of a
radio host…charming as an alien autopsy.
Robopoetry on #3. Operating room antics
with Dr. Kevorkian in drag on #4?’ Hostage
and relationship crisis on #6. Skits more
than songs, will draw parallels to Miranda
July. This actually has more in the musical
vein, but arteries are clogged with quirky
ideas and sound textures. This is one that
will grow fans over time like Miss July. An
odd audio pin-up, play-up girl.

Note #14 ends with 1:38, then silence then
at 1:09 has a weird bonus track that suggests
maybe Alexis’ ouvre started out as a series of
“Truth or Dare” challenges as a kid.

Shimada, Aiko “Like Hannah” [Bera Records]

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

Dark raindrops on deep lakes. The gentleness on this record is
like the embrace of an aunt to a beloved niece, or perhaps the
promise to an expectant daughter,(a child is due in May). Her
open guitar chords ripple and are blurred even further by
watercolor flugel horn from Dave Carter. Thus song structure
is not consistent, not thick but more like strands that slowly
wrap around themselves. Beautiful in a Joni Mitchell manner.
Similarly, Aiko’s voice runs deeper than most but uniquely is
never smokey. When her voice does tiptoe up the scale it grows
even more fragile. I kept thinking of jellyfish as emblematic.
As much as anyone, I think Evan Schiller is crucial here, as
these songs could just fall apart, but listen to “Loneliness”
or the title track and you can feel the subtle strength he
creates. Doubling or overlapping vocals often gird these
gossamer waterwings. If you can gather a rainy afternoon
together, the whole album has a nice flow.

[coll] Adbusters “Live Without Dead Time” #47

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

Companion to the magazine…send listeners to
adbusters.org…they’ll head there mad & grow more
irate. This may be the first they have ever issued
a CD in cahoots, and DJ Spooky aka Paul Miller
resurrects some saints in his Jihad against McWorld.
Martin Luther King, Marshall McLuhan, Malcom X…
Several selections features Spooky collaborating with
Saul Williams to deliver their payload with the
precision of the smartest bomb in the class. Sun Ra
reappears with his formula Nuclear War=MotherF*,
Chuck D.’s voice is a good a rallying cry as you’ll
ever find. J-Live’s lyrics are laced with an extra
portion of truth. Nice introduction to Honey Barbara.
Overall, truth against advertising is the order of
the day. It’s all riveted together tightly, but worth
breaking off a piece to get the conversation flowing.
Pledge Illegiance.

Quantic – ?Apricot Morning? – [Tru Thoughts Recordings] 33 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   1/5/2005   12-inch, A Library

Apricot Morning is the 2nd full-length release by Quantic, a.k.a. UK-based producer and musical busy-bee Will Holland. This LP was released in 2002, when Mr. Holland was 22. (We have his 3rd LP, Mishaps Happening, in A on 12″ vinyl.)

In math a ‘quantic? is an algebraic function containing two or more variables. This seems appropriate to me because this release combines elements such as Latin and Afro beats, rap, and soul to come up with a music that is fresh and full of life.

Long-time collaborator Alice Russell sings on what I think are two of the best tracks on the album (B1 and C2). Aspects, a hip hop crew from Bristol, appear on B3. EQ appears on the Latin-inflected A3. His sisters, Jill and Lucy even help out with sax and double bass.

You’re sure to find something to fit your mood, as long as you are in the mood for dancing around.

Instrumentals: A1, A2, B2, C3, D1

(Other Will Holland projects include: The Quantic Soul Orchestra, Quantic Live, and Limp Twins.)

–Hunter Gatherer

[coll] Night Gallery [Alchemy]

Thurston Hunger   1/3/2005   A Library

Five fingers of death from the hand of Jojo’s Alchemy label.
LSD-march provide a driven rain of rock with Fukuoka Rinji’s
violin slicing right through it on the first track, then go
down tempo for a ballad…and wind up with a very sparse,
morose number. The duet Doodles offers two appetizers for
the main course of their street-sweet-smart full length.
Miminokoto just are getting their ankles wet in the psyche
riff-improv rock of track #6 when they get potted out.
Their next two contributions are more gentle drift spaced
psych, mixed a little roughly. Chouzo haunts with their
spooky shizuka-y vibe…the general sense is lying on the
bottom of some liquid looking up. The Up-Tight work out
all the kinks, the jams, and any other hang-ups one may
have with solid, stand on the edge of the stage/abyss
rock and roll. Their “Sweet Sister” starts with a tribal
drum anticipation and reverbed vox that climbs up towards
an unavoidable guitar throttling.

Vanishing, the – “Still Lifes Are Falling” – [Gold Standard Labs]

Funkminsta Fulla   12/15/2004   A Library, CD

the vanishing – “still lifes are falling” – [gold standard labs]

high energy aesthetics coupled with lo-fi production yields danceable dark wave goth featuring distorted reverb-soaked female vox, programmed and live drums, a sax that haunts, fuzzed-out synths that taunt. clean lyrics (except as marked) decry various aspects of the current state of the human condition: “buried beneath the plastic sheen / is a world that’s painted violently”

mad hatter

Emotional Joystick – “Bellicose Pacific” – [Zod]

Funkminsta Fulla   12/15/2004   A Library, CD

emotional joystick – “bellicose pacific” – [zod records]

enjoy this man-up from Milwaukee, WI: bleeps, blips ‘n breaks galore are to be found on this full length release from emo::joy and all tracks take aim to please! soundscapes and synths accompany breaktech beats a la aphex twin-esque abrasion mixed with more chill ‘n chunky loops as well. simple video-game like melodic lines work well with the harmonic progressions that back them with a sometimes sparse, sometimes symphonic, ever schizophrenic feel.

note: tr13 = bonus round / hidden track after ~ 3:o3 of silence

mad hatter

The Tough & Lovely – “Born Of The Stars” – [Spoonful Records]

Hunter Gatherer   12/15/2004   A Library, CD

This is the first full-length release from a 5 member rock and roll band from Columbus, Ohio founded in 2002 by guitarist/songwriter Andrew Robertson. The CD was released 8/2004.

For lack of a better term, I would call this music ‘garage rock? though that wouldn’t give an indication of the years spent listening to and reverse engineering their rock and soul records, the excellent songwriting, the solid rhythm section that’s in no particular hurry, and – the first thing you will notice – Lara Yazvac’s tough and lovely singing.

In a good portion of the lyrics people are breaking hearts, getting their hearts broken, holding on, letting go, doing a lot of crying. (I don’t remember life in Ohio as being that dramatic.) Written down they would probably look silly, but with Ms. Yazvac’s voice and the band backing her up it works.

Here is a partial list of influences that I was scribbling down as I was listening: Kinks, Pretenders, Del Shannon, Shangri-Las, The Capitols (Cool Jerk), X Ray Spex, Lowell Fulson (Tramp), the entire Atlantic Rhythm and Blues box set.

Every convertible sold should come with a copy of this CD.

–Hunter Gatherer

Nomo – ?Nomo? – [Ypsilanti Records]

Hunter Gatherer   12/1/2004   A Library, CD

Nomo is a 17-piece band from Ann Arbor, Michigan led by composer/arranger/saxophonist/etc. Elliot Bergman. This is their first full-length release, released in May, 2004. And it was produced by Warn Defever of His Name Is Alive. Nomo has also released an EP previously, 2 songs of which are on this release.

From the tight horn section opening to the woman singing ‘la la la? fade out, this CD is great all the way through. It is Afrobeat/Afropop that leans variously towards jazz, reggae, space rock, and other genres. Fela Kuti is the spiritual godfather of this band. Think of them as a jazzier Antibalas that doesn’t want to execute Bush’s cabinet.

It’s amazing that this many musicians (4 percussionists, 6 horns, several guitarists) trying to meld this many styles is anything other than a big mess of ‘world music.’ Instead they are tight, keeping a steady beat and theme going while different instruments (sax, fuzz guitar, Fender Rhodes) solo over the top.

All tracks except for 4 and 10 are instrumentals.

–Hunter Gatherer

[coll] Relics: A Transmat Compilation – [Buzz] – 33 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   12/1/2004   12-inch, A Library

‘From Belgium to Detroit – with respect? it says on this LP, a re-release by Belgium’s Buzz Records of this compilation of early Detroit techno music.

It was originally released in 1992 on Derrick May’s Transmat label, and it covers Detroit techno from 1986 to 1990 with tracks from Carl Craig (Psyche, BFC), Juan Atkins (Model 500), and mostly Derrick ‘Mayday? May (Rhythim [sic] is Rhythim [sic]) who has over half the tracks on this album.

Some of Mr. May’s tracks hadn’t been released before or even been given titles. They show up titled as ‘A Relic? or ‘Another Relic.’ In between each track is a weird little ‘interval? less than a minute in length performed by Messrs. May and Craig.

The artists on this album were influenced by Alvin Toffler, and in Detroit in the late 80s the decline of the Second Wave was more than a abstract concept. Amid the decay they created a musicical version of the Third Wave, in which man and machine (in this case a Roland synthesizer) would merge and form something far funkier than the sum of its parts. The use of the word techno to describe the music was lifted from the techno rebels in Toffler’s book Future Shock.

All tracks are instrumental and entirely synth-generated. The beats are relentless, and everything else – melody, synth-strings, chords – are merely there to support the beat.

–Hunter Gatherer

Triosk – “Moment Returns” – [Leaf Label Ltd]

Funkminsta Fulla   11/30/2004   A Library, CD

triosk – “moment returns” – [leaf label]

triosk administers measured yet delicate doses of minimalist meanderings and moody muses to create an aural tonic that is smooth, sensitive and sophisticated… no bitters here. “moment returns” mixes well with both psychoacoustic sound clash and downtempo acid jazz with equal ease. sparse sound samples form an interactive organic environment which complements this contemplative piano trio nicely.

mad hatter

Theramin “We Were Gladiators” [Psychotica Records]

Thurston Hunger   11/23/2004   A Library, CD, Format

Solid battering-ram rock from Italy’s Theramin targetting our
shores with english lyrics… and “talks” too, as featured
on “Near by the Saint Leonard river” which wisely tells us not
to think too much. Drummer Sacha Tilotta offers said talks,
and when he’s not a ponderer, he’s a pounder. Drums on this
album sound great and fight for life. Tracks often go through
stark passages where either Sacha’s drums or Stefano Garaffa
Botta’s guitar drop out for a few bars before dynamics damn the
torpedoes and full boar ahead. Good yelping female guest vox
by Giovanna Cacciola on “In My Place.” String suite sweetens
“To Be Away” which like much of the album features prominent
and vital basswork by Michael Herman, a key to heavy-hitting
rock. And this here is some kinda Italian Kung Fu which lands
every punch.

Zu “Igneo” [Amanita]

Thurston Hunger   11/21/2004   A Library

Igeno ain’t bliss, but it is burnished and blistering rock
done as if by magic without a lead guitar. Black magic indeed
with smoke coming out of Luca Tommaso Mai’s saxes, on two
tracks Ken Vandermark doubles that damage. Additionally two
other Chicago Brotzworkers join in the fiery festivities,
but Zu really needs no assistance. The rhythm section of
Massimo Pupillo on bass and drummer Jacopo Battaglia, they’re
sort of an Italian answer to the Ruins. They provide an
infernal (lower-case m) magma of sound. Pupillo’s basswork
is active, with chord flashes and quick fingerwork to make
one almost swear that guitar is present. Or maybe that’s the
contribution of live soundman Alberto Mattaroccia. Crunch
and feedback whinny fit so well with the angry horn work.
A powerhouse release, with unquenchability.

Panicsville “Imperfections of the Organism” 33 [Nihilist]

Thurston Hunger   11/17/2004   A Library

Panicsville “Imperfections of the Organism” 33
————————————————————-
Transmission jamming frequencies emanating from Chicago, with
Andy Ortmann the main dialer/dealer of this sordid sound.
Wet whispers, geiger ticking, round bouncing waves supplying
secret rhythms. Pseudo-stuck scratches, laboratory alarms,
turntable twists, faulty ignition sequences, all systems
are gone, way gone. Atari games to the death? Robovox gets
passive aggressive in the middle of the socket stew of “Radio
Wizard” leading up to warped discharge on women’s periods at
the end. Chaotic but never a cacophony…really a diverse
delight for tired ears. Occasional human yelps, duck calls(?)
and other swiped sounds, but ultimately the hero of this story
is electronic equipment, with its own many flavors of stunning
imperfections. The band name is taken from Patty Duke’s
exclamations (where does her empire of influence end?). Aside
from the split 7″ with John Wiese, this ought to really put
Panicsville indelibly on KFJC’s map. Visit often. -Hunger

Chris Joss – “You?ve Been Spiked” – [ESL Music]

Hunter Gatherer   11/10/2004   A Library, CD

ESL Music has re-released sound engineer and Frenchman Chris Joss’s 3rd album and added two tracks from his 1st album The Man With A Suitcase and a Flash video of the single Discotheque Dancing.

This album is paying homage to the 70’s with its waka-waka guitar, disco beats, and Hammond organ while at the same time the clear production, occasional sample or scratch keeps it sounding fresh and new.

The tracks sound like the theme song of a cop show I wish I could have seen or a porno ‘I’m glad that I didn’t. You can’t go wrong playing one of these instrumentals.

If you ever find yourself evading the police in a stolen Ford Torino make sure to pop in this CD.

–Hunter Gatherer

Zoomers “Exist” [hyped2death]

Thurston Hunger   11/9/2004   A Library, CD, Format

Another fine reissue/revival from Chuck Warner’s Hyped2Death
efforts (aka Homework #204 on that label). Check the liner
notes. While this has one sort of ambling jam (“Freak at the
Greek”), most of the tracks are short tightrope walks over
inner anxieties and damp, cramped tape e.q. It sounds pretty
swank for 1981 cassette culture, though every once in a
while a track sorta goes through a tunnel of sound, some of
that those is a result of flanger fanaticism. Lyrics are
delivered in bursts, that sort of romance vs. robot approach.
The vocals often accentuated by a gasp or a whisper and oft
times both, they are nicely up front in the mix. Drums keep
time, squeeze in some rat-a-tight snare fills, occasionally
get completely lost. It’s the odder guitar fills (and sax,
piano and especially synthesizer with well-detuned delivery)
that augment the angst and make this a Louisiana winner. “All
We Need” is just too strange and estranging to simply file as
“rock” but this album (even that track) has moments that rock
solidly and artfully. There are some really wrong notes at
exactly the right moments on this!

Existensminimum – “The On and On” – [Flora and Fauna]

Hunter Gatherer   11/2/2004   A Library, CD

The mastermind behind Existensminimum is Magnus Henriksson of Sweden. The word Existensminimum, literally subsistence level, is a Swedish social services term for the minimum amount of food or money necessary for a person or family.

But there is nothing minimal about the sound on this EP. Mr. Henriksson wrote and played most instruments on this CD with the help of a few musicians. But when playing live, 10 musicians are required to reproduce the sound.

Every song is so different from the others that I must describe them separately:

1. (5:01) – An uptempo, James Bond-y number in 5/4. It has a square 60’s lounge feel, and the singing is just short of over the top at times.

2. (3:59) – A great song with a driving synth groove and processed vocals.

3. (5:06) – Orchestral opening gives way to electronic drums. Sounds like Air or Zero 7 with much harder drums. Instrumental

4. (1:45) – Acoustic guitar soaking in reverb with vocals that start in falsetto.

5. (3:14) – A U2 parody? This is a big stadium rock-sounding thing featuring synthesizers.

–Hunter Gatherer

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