Philadelphia trio with KFJC ally Greg Weeks and two
lasses at his side, Meg Baird and Brooke Sietinsons.
Psych-folk here, with an emphasis on the folk. Analogous
to Low in that their pace is never rushed, while their
lyrics belie a darkness neath the beauty of the music.
Oh, and their singing is gorgeous, really a cut above!
Both in the actual melodies and male/female harmonious
interplay. With lute and flute “fragrances” accompanying
those vox we receive an unearthly blessing, this music
has a timelessness that propels it towards future DJ’s
discovery. Chamber shimmering added by autoangel on
autoharp in excelsis. With the synth pop revival these
days, powdered noses may be more in retro-vogue, but
this powdered my wig! Psycha-delicate!
Philadelphia trio with KFJC ally Greg Weeks and two
Panic rock in extremis. At the core of math
rock behold the busy bassist…more talented
than the average lead guitarist…able to
dream in differential equations. This local
project keeps your brain in a percolator, the
rhythms remain caffiendish. Imagine a speed
freak leading an aerobics class…that is the
energy that propels this release. Adding
trumpet spray is a nice touch…lyrics may
actually be more angular than the music,
though at some times the guitars with teeth
chomp up the vocals.
The initial release (we already have V2) for this series
and for this label run by Nemo Bidstrup in Maine. Lovers
of lexicon note that ENTOPTIC as you might guess refers
to objects situated within the eye; esp. relating to the
perception of objects in one’s own eye. On this “loose”
tribute to Popol Vuh, Drona Parva (aka label captain
Nemo) offers a solitary mote…stationary drone made
warm by the Hammond organ. On the flip side, Texas’
Ultrasound beams with two pieces, the first a true
Popol Vuh cover. Shimmering yet very simple piano (is
lingering pedal and sustain the key to the late
Florian Fricke’s success?) The second maintains that
spell-binding dignity, but again I’m a bit pressed
to figure out its source. A melody is repeated with
a lot of space and very subtle variation from point
to point. There again does seem to be a halo around
the sound (harmonium?). At least Ultrasound gives
the Popol what they want.
Hey James Angelos chose the stage name of Burd Early,
so any puns forthcoming are *his* fault. I think the
flock of Bonnie Prince Billy devotees will likely enjoy
this. Vocals multitracked and murmured into requisite
beard. James aka Burd tends towards abstact ideas and
images in his lyrics, than the more toothy, tactile
realm of Will Oldham. The guitars are similarly soft
and slinky…somewhere in the greatly misnamed plains
of No Depression alt-country rock (and yet this was
spawned in New York City, more America’s spleenland
than heartland.) Nice duet vocalette on “Undoing…”
she captures the rocking-chair phrasing that unites
Early to his earlier counterparts, Palace, Ohia
and so forth. Fanning this one with dainty praise,
but I’m interested in hearing more before and after
The succinct liner notes describe this collaboration
with Asmus Tietchens, and deny it. Tietchens is really
heard only on track #3. Duncan has been a prolific and
either profound or perverse, (likely both) artist over
the years. Often he dabbles in discomfort, (necrophilia
in Blind Date, an attack dog in Threat and so forth),
this album then is surprisingly comforting…in its
coldness. Well the lead-off mutation does bring a
hellicopter snare out of the original, but with lot’s
of silence between rounds. The second piece is a
vortex, as if you could hear the blood in someone
else’s ears…or maybe a galactic redshift of the
original offering. The fourth and final 30 minute
drone is so gossamer it is almost gone during both
its parabolic ascent and descent. The theory here
may overpower the results…but nonetheless an
artist to watch, and to listen to…
All’s fair in Louvel and data warfare. Olivia Louvel is the
seductress here, working like an avatar in your dreams. While
she caresses your ears with whispers and spoken French kisses,
Paul Kendall surreptitiously jacks in via a wet-ware cable
into the back of your skull. The electronic routing of hums,
pulses, switches and aural envelopes from Kendall is every
byte as intoxicating as the beckonings of Louvel. Nothing
here for the dance floor, instead it is all to be draped
over a divan…and ravaged. Pleasure and pain mingle, tease
each other. Ambient aphrodesiactivity putting the aether in
the ethernet. By the end, as Louvel purrs that she is “really
tired” you’ll be eager for more still. This is what the orb
in Sleeper must have felt like to Woody Allen.
Which is the evil twin’ This or its doppleganger “Defixiones”
released at the same time? On this Diamanda continues her
cadaverous cabaret. Rhythm and blues in blood red hues. Deep
fistfuls of piano thump, while her voice crawls up and down
the octaves. Choking whispers, spewing flame, nasally
drawling every word split into a trillion trilling notes.
If Chaka Khan is every woman, then Diamanda is every succubus,
possibly including Mariah Carey and Cher. Yes this is that
scary in parts. At times her fiery flagrant vocalizations
border on self-parody. There seems to be no limit to the
tops for her to go over. It’s mostly just Diamanda and her
piano, with a bit of delay on her voice here (harrowingly so
on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”), some weird trembly ghost
treatment of piano there (notably on “Dancing in the Dark”
and “My World Is Empty Without You”). This is one live album
obsessed by death. The snake sings cause it can shed its skin
and survive, not so true with our mortal coils.
A minstrel’s ministrations. The second “full” length release
(16 more songs were held back for a release later this year)
from this vagabond troubadour. His warped and wavery delivery
channel Tiny Tim and Al Jolson as much as Syd Barret. On a
few tracks he’s augmented by assistance, but it is mostly
his bubbly nylon-string guitar and his breath-taken voice.
Recorded somewhere behind his teeth, you can hear his lips’
soft smack and his tongue coiling around his brainstem. The
move from four-track to Jimmy Johnson’s home studio cost
no intimacy, which is Banhart’s calling card. Pop quiz,
who has heard of Vashti Bunyan? Not only did this UK pop
singer have an effect on Devendra growing up, he had the
grace to invite her to join him on the title track. Her
path, thorny ejections from art school and the celebrity
machine likely serve as inspiration to Banhart to stick
with the path he knows so well. Past the cornfields and
the grooves of citrus fruit that dot the landscape here,
not looking at photos or mirrors, but probing his body
and mind with his own grubby fingers. #9 instro, #12 has
a false start. A jagged, jangly jongleur.
So there was this killer party, a decade or two ago…but
the Kit, in their Detached manner are only just now showing
up, more than fashionably late, still more fashionable than
the bulging-eyed zombies who are still at the actual party.
There are some tricks here that help to set up the canonized
noise pop. Opening trick played is of the “High Llama” suit
then a second or two of electrowash right into a bloody,
pumping heart, the towering trump rock the Kit shoots the
moon for most of the time. With its pretty screaming of
“No, You’ll Never Die” you know the kids are still alright,
and still feeling immortal. They still have old Beatle lps
too, a harmony chorus on “Pill Cake” shouts twistedly. “The
Race” alternates from anthem aims to less pressurized feel
with guitar nebulae. Over the entire album, the guitarplay
generally scores plenty of body blows. “Ice Queen” spades
some dirt gracefully upon a casket and the solemn, somnolent
acoustic guitar of “Spider” ends this album.
The queen of modern antiquity returns, her
breath smelling of formaldehyde and absinthe,
to KFJC’s airwaves to revive the undead air.
Her banjo strung with her own hair. Here lie
short ballads of yore and gore, but wrapped in
such pretty petticoats (lots of xylophone,
autoharp and of course singing saw). If you
ever wondered what silent movie stars sound
like when they sing, here you have it.
Covers are disinterred (“Oh Death”, “Psycho”
and “House of the Rising Sun”). “Grandma’s
Feather Bed” makes one think that this
damned Dame was born unto her art, her Dad
appears on that and other pieces as well.
Ramshackles and chains around your heart.
Is it that Crescent?’ The answer lies in the first note
on “Fountains” – a resounding yes! An organ that shrieks
will be well-recalled, or now discovered, by many. With
no release since 1999, many thought Crescent were Snake
Pliskin…but their squatter-in-winter undub resurrects
to be heard through a dilapidated tenement with broken
windows. Not dead, just dormant..and storing up their
mesmerizing power. These Bristol-whippers have a bead
on krautrock trance but when ice reeds whistle in and
metal wolf-traps clang and steel strings snap in the
background, the end result is quite distinct. Brothers
Matt Jones (Amp) and Sam Jones (Flying Saucer Attack)
along w/ Rachel Brook are all also in Movietone, which
has a more familiar, tho’ still overcast-skies, brand
of pop. This is here is further afield, it follows the
rivers out of town…up north…into an imaginary
village. We are a part of the Hiber Nation.
his album grew on me like fingernails on a corpse. To
say they are taken with the macabre is an understatement,
hell they are undertaken. Dying is their raison d’etre.
Their spectral folk sound is built upon acoustic guitar,
accordian, wounded theremin, singing saw, glass goblets
and an item they refer to as the “Poor Lady’s Gamelan.”
Apparently they are a 3 or 4 piece (depending on human
boomerang, Wei who comes and goes). Perhaps scariest of
all, they’re disinterred from the cultural graveyard
known as Santa Clara. Vocals will improve as liquour &
confidence are titrated into the mix. Either for the
singer Avery Burke or perhaps the listener. Hic?’ The
“16-line Love Song” is well haunted by Wei’s harmonies.
Dax’s vocals are frothier on “Alice” but the “singing”
of Avery’s hands steals the show on that via theremin.
Lyrics are well-laced. This Corpus Callosum is bigger
on the left hemisphere, and thick with promise. A very
bright darkness emanates.
The sum of the parts is greater than the whole : violin +
guitar + bassoon + percussion. Rachael Elliott’s bassoon
sounds like an old man lost and wandering a strange city
at night. Bryce Dressner, who rocks fairly straightforwardly
with The National, gets a chance to be far more interesting
here. Look what happens 3 1/2 minutes into the title track?
Percussionist Thomas Kozumplik is precise in his quests for
tinkering trinkets, he builds some of his own instruments.
Lastly Padma Newsome is the chief composer and the one
who united these four Yalies. His whistling violin on
“Turtle Soup” is as key an ingredient as its crushed ABC
radiocast excerpts. Tasty! Actually the album peaked a
little earlier for me, right there after tracks #2 and
#3. Keeping Dressner amped up I think is a good idea, his
playing gives this album more of a clamour than a chamber
state, recalls the promise of Tom Cora locking bridges
with the Ex! Many of the pieces take lengthy rests in
them, be forewarned. More singing from the winsome
Newsome should be encouraged. His soft soprano voice on
“Gentler We” plays nicely off the ominous music beneath.
Gear-head driven pagan prog rock to play Dungeons and
Dragons to, except it goes by too quickly. Scot Solida
is the lead sorcerer here, transmuting some personal
tragedy into music, by way of Midi cables and some at
times “overly clever” punning in lyrics. Their heart is
in the right place, but their head is at the forefront
enmeshed in a lot of synthesizers and some guitar
chain mail. They lose some hit points for drum machines
and faux British accents, but given some more time and
more faith in acoustic instruments, C & the C’s could
lead a revival of the nearly extinct brand of prog
rock Americana! A flesh drummer really would help
overcome the bred-in-captivity traps of trap-less
percussion. Does anyone remember Pestilence?
While prison workers are making Britney Spears dolls,
look what the sneakier thought-criminals have been up
to in China. Making beautiful noise! The first CD here
is almost flawless. The ISMU aka Intelligent Shanghai
Mono University tracks in particular are just bursting
with creativity that would be promising whether they
came from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico or the most
populous country on the planet. Check out the sounds
bounced off a bamboo squeak on 1-4, or how time is
running out for techno on 1-6. While track 1-1 fires
a static charge through your ears, not all tracks are
as wonderfully annoying. Yuhui Jiang’s pieces wrap
their broken glass in smooth silk. “Minibus Pimps”
are Chinese cabbies who’ve been hanging out with the
Fall’s Mark E. Smith, or so it sounds. Other “found”
sounds are also remarkable, please enjoy snake-meat
and accordion on 1-16. Pei Zhou gets wires through
thick and skin. Really a lot going on here.
WARNING 1-7 too gorgeous for FCC as a sexbot rebels
Rare is the guitar hero who first chooses an acoustic
over an electric with a phalanx of effects, that is
but one unique aspect of Cheval de Frise and nylon
stringleader Thomas Bonvalet. His counterpart is
drummer Vincent Beysselance who blends so well with
the complex melodies and runs of Bonvalet that he
can almost become lost in the shuffle of snare, the
flurry of toms and subtle heartbeats of hi-hat. He’s
a very good drummer, just paired w/ a flash guitarist.
On two tracks, (#6’s second half and all of #8) they
are joined by Simon Queheillard on a self-made
instrument that sounds like a tambura made of ice.
It shears across the top of the duo’s dense interplay.
The horse you cannot see, cannot be corralled; and
this band cannot be easily put in one pasture. Enjoy
the wild freedom of this exceptional duo.
2 CDs’ worth of computer-controlled experimental noises with minimal organic sampling from NYC sound manipulator Michael Schumacher. Clear influences of La Monte Young, Robert Ashley, and Babbitt, not so clear philosophical influences of Cage (check out the line-up of pretentious liner notes, including some by “Blue” Gene Tyranny).
Room Piece XI (75:43): The 11th happening of his sound installation originally intended for a sound-proof room in his NYC gallery with 16-track full-surround sound. A quiet drone pervades. Random types of sounds/instruments interrupt at random sets of intervals based on a random assignment of the prime numbers 13, 17, 23, 29, 37, and 43. The interruptions can be extremely harsh and disturbing and sometimes they come into phase with each other for added pleasure.
Piece in 3 Parts (20:03): Sounds of regurgitated violin sampling, then sounds of regurgitated gong sampling, then back to sounds of violin.
Still (17:07): Quiet drone featuring some cello scrapings.
Untitled (18:13): Sine wave madness!! Loud and almost momentous, sounds unlike the rest of the offerings. For the easiest introduction to the music, start with this track.
Still (17:29): No sampling here, just straight computer clicks and clangs. Very sparse.
-Cujo in Jul 2004
Fantastic 2-CD set of major and minor works from Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994, Vee-told Loo-toe-swov-ski). There’s the wicked and intense Preludes and Fugue for 13 strings (major work) for starters (play the Preludes by themselves if you have to, but not the Fugue by itself). Throw in his entire work for voice from the late 50s early 60s (the Michaux poemes, the 5 Songs for soprano, etc – minor works), and then the finish disc 2 with the awesome string quartet and the dazzling cello concerto. The concerto is the best work featuring cello since the Elgar concerto. This music is dark, very intense, and engaging. Witold practically defines ‘postwar?.
-Cujo in Nov 2004
Pop quiz, hot shot: Name any Russian composer of the post-Shostakovich generation. KFJC gives you a small sampling of what happened. These 4 offerings are all written for the ‘Pierrot? ensemble popularized by Stravinsky: just 16ish different instruments.
Edison Denisov (dead 1996): SUN OF THE INCAS (20:04): 3 laments for soprano, each preceded by short energetic drum and bell-filled preludes. Exceedingly sad.
Alfred Schnittke (dead 2001): THREE MADRIGALS (7:44): Very subtle, unflashy Schnittke. Soprano sings modern German poetry in French, then German, then in English. Not as sad as the Denisov. Dag.
Sofia Gubaidulina (alive): CONCORDANZA (11:36): Sofia will likely emerge as 20th century’s greatest female composer. This is a rumbling and introspective instrumental.
Tigran Mansurian (alive): TOVEM (9:10): Armenian witchcraft. Some jazzy brass, much more upbeat.
-Cujo in Nov 2004
This EP was recorded in 1997, not released until 1999, and then re-released in 2004. So the name ‘Pre-release? is supposed to be a joke, I guess. A previous 7″ and this EP appear to be the entire oeuvre of Gramme.
Gramme is Luke Hannam, who plays drums and bass, and Sam Lynham, who provides vocals – and also plays bass. After listening to this release several times, ‘I’m pretty sure that Sam is a woman. Output Recordings head Trevor Jackson also lent a hand.
This is some danceable, bass-heavy (natch), punk funk with a DIY, home-recorded feel. It reminds me a lot of the !!! that we added around the middle of 2004. Stand out tracks are 4 and 5. Enjoy and don’t hurt yourself while listening.
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