KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

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?).
Stingray

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.

Stingray

10 + 2: American Text Sound Pieces [coll] – [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.

Birdbrain “I Fly” [Persian Cardinal]

Thurston Hunger   1/9/2005   A Library, CD

Beak-tweaking pop from this Brooklyn Quartet. Yvette Perez’s
queerly cheering vocals and kewpie paroxysms ride on top of
a great trio of horns. Betty Boop over bop? Actually the horns
(two saxes and a trombone) sound like marching band refugees
trying to capture Albert Ayler in minimalism? The songs are
quick to flight, the album breezes by in a feather over 20
minutes. Perez’s vocals are stacked in teasing layers, they
definitely add to the braininess. The birdiness comes from
some of the horn’s tooty tweeting, and staccato woodpecker
sections. There are a few avian persuasion lyrics and a fowl
sample or two, but this stays fair and delivers a homerun
for fans of herky-quirky.
O Superband!

The BellRays — “The Red, White, & Black” — [Alternative Tentacles]

Hunter Gatherer   1/9/2005   A Library, CD

This is the 4th full length release by the BellRays, originally released in 2003 by Poptones. It’s being re-released on Alternative Tentacles and won’t be available until later this month (1/2005)

The music on this CD is “Rock & Soul,” fuled by the power of singer Lisa Kekaula’s soulful and expressive voice and Tony Fate’s driving and equally expressive guitar work. The band is from Riverside, but their sound is from Detroit.

The quality of the tracks is pretty uneven, both in the songwriting and the playing. And there is a self-seriousness in the music and liner notes that is off-putting. But on the tracks where everything clicks (especially 5,7,8,12 in my humble opinion) all is forgiven.

After listening to this CD you’ll no longer wonder what Aretha’s albums would have sounded like if Steve Cropper was replaced with Tony Iommi.

Language: Fuck on 3

Use the track listings on the inside of the liner notes. The back cover doesn’t contain the full track listing.

–Hunter Gatherer

Nightime Recordins From Bali [coll] – [Sublime Frequencies]

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

Alan Bishop (nee Lomax?) of the Sun City Girls
undertakes an underground and afterhours look
at international music with his strongly
self-run Sublime label. Ears in armchairs
get a whiff of the enchantment, as well as
smoldering flesh at funeral pyres. Some of
these recordings are truly in the *field*,
with Balinese flora and fauna. A good number
are “fast food gamelan,” quick glimpses into
lengthy performances. These sections have
more agressive flourishes, like a dog tearing
at something: violent shakes of sound. Then
diamond dogs do drop in on #14, I wound up
wondering about the stories behind that and
other tracks, (at the end of #17 we overhear
“I thought he was the police”). Hopefully we
can get Alan on for an interview. “Rubber
Television” mixes raindrops and teardrops
for a radio soap opera.

Henriksen, Arve “Chiaroscuro” [Rune Grammafon]

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

Supersmeared trumpet from Supersilent’s Henriksen. With a
no-hassle, yes-Hassel vibe the palate here is warmer than
the first six slices of Supersilent. And pieces are shorter
sketches of sound. Here Henriksen’s tiny voice, which often
stands in striking contrast to the monumental Deathprod’d
musical monoliths, instead helps bring us down through a
microscope into a smaller world. Nano-whales spout muted
streams; percussion from Audun Kleive is like subcellular
flagellae, gently whipping at beats. The straining of
Hernriksen’s trumpet (it pines like a shakuachi on #7)
can give this a mistakenly elegiac aire, but I think it
is really an album that is at peace with its smaller
and more subtle nature.

Russell, Arthur “Calling Out of Context” [Audika Records]

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

RIP Charles Arthur Russell II – April 4th, 1992. Arthur
might still be championed as a lost visionary even if
his life were not lost to AIDS. He helped stage shows
at the avant-kookery known as the Kitchen in NYC but
he also had a predilection for disco (releasing a
dance discs under names like Loose Joints, Dinosaur L
and Indian Ocean). This posthumous pop release reissues
an album “Corn” along with other kernels. I have to
confess, “The Platform on the Ocean” is nearly perfect
for me. His loose-lipped, note-cloud singing I enjoy,
especially when dipped in quick reverb as he does. His
cello flies in askance and belies his brief tenure at
Ali Akbar Khan’s Marin college. Gotta find that lp of
his solo cello work. Certainly his boogie nights see
the light of day on this, drum machines skip and prance
to prod tracks. His vocalizations may steer some clear,
but I’ll take them time and again over Jennifer Warnes
(on #6). His vox are the ghost in the dance machine!
It’s a tragedy that his life will be defined by the
success others he shared time and rehearsal space w/
went on to, instead of his own.

Artanker Convoy “Ocean Parkway EP” 33rpm [Social Registry]

Thurston Hunger   1/9/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

It’s a pretty big blender to swirl here. An easy drifting
mosaic of music. The rhythms ride strong, so many people can
hop on board from dance stop to dance stop, but the bus is
crowded with Frippy guitar and a fuzzier frappe as well. At
times electropianopuree (“Carb”) and horncrush (“Crown Vic”)
give this light jazz flavors, but psych washes on “Backfires”
could as easily launch you right into rock central. Descending
wooshy waaahs and revving up beat on “Crown Vic” are about as
high as the energy gets, by the way, are those roto-toms?’ On
all cuts prominent basslines unite and push all wallflowers
into the spinning disco mirror light. Secret ingredient is
the crunchy guitar riffs dropped into the various groove
valleys. The remix by Sasha Crnobrnja tries for an aquatic
dub, but spends a little too much time in the bathtub, and
left me pruney. Even infrequent muttered vocals could not
rescue that track from decrepetition.

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.

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

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

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