KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Gregorio, Guillermo “Otra Musica” Atavistic

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2005   A Library, CD, Format, Jazz

John Corbett’s gotta feel proud about unearthing this sonic
document for his Unheard Series. Check out the release notes
that trace Guillermo back to his Argentinian beginings, very
informative. The album itself is wild and wooly, with the
latter third a foray into the familiar unfamiliarities of
free jazz…including two splendid multitrack excursions
(#15 – the sax piece seems to fight against itself, while
#14 – the clarinet seems to be one mind with many mouths)
The first third of the CD showcases a gritty Pierre Schaeffer
in-flux-uence. Scrapey and tink-plinky under-the-hood
piano on #1, tape time travel of bells on #2, on #4/#5 the
star is not the clarinet or voice so much as the sounds of
40-year-old tape, and the slipperiness of its sound. The
middle third is my favorite, as we get various eclectic
ensembles making music in micromoments. #6 verges on non-
existence, but #7 after a raspy start gets into hiccuping
percussion and then drunk strings, then some hummingbird
sax. #8 is a spooky spine-tingler, #9 is muy guapo with a
probable cello-player and haunting vibes/accordion action.
#10 fits between musique concrete, Albert Ayler & Caroliner.
Music from the planet of Outer Otra.

Bijma, Greetje “Sit Down, Listen…” [Bvhaast]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2005   A Library

You’ll think this Dutch doll had more than one mouth after
listening to this series of solo renditions of songs/poems.
A couple of covers that are definitely her own, including
the Joan Baez number at the end that makes this a really
personal release; a lullabye for the exhausted mother. Plus
a cover of Abbey Lincoln is always going to be a winner. On
other tracks she tweaks her tonsil like a koto (#4) or gets
breathy whispers like a bansuri flute (#5) or brraps like
a muted trombone (#9). A vocal master of impersonation.
Things get a touch Tuvan at parts, and well a touch touched
at times too…but NEVER touched up. As far as I can tell
somehow Barend Minks dropped some mics down into the
acoustic caverns in Greetje’s soul…whole lotta room, and
a whole lotta reverb down there. Get in, shut up, sit down
and listen…

Get Hustle “Live at the Little Fawn” [self released]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2005   A Library, CD, Format

our-only CDR for this Los Angeles three piece/no peace. They
whip up relentess rock led by Mac Mann’s electric piano which
undergoes cardiac arrest. Ron Avila (Holy Molar, Chromatics)
whips up a percussion slugfest. And there’s blood spattered
all over the sneering tough-enough-for-one-g girl singer (as
in one who singes) Valentine Falcon (nee Husar?). She’s got
a sort of drooly swagger kinda 70’s dirtbag rock. Apparently
they have frightened off all guitarists who normally pine for
such rock, well that’s a good thing..but Get Hustle might pay
too high a premium for authenticity, sacrificing any semblance
of polish. The songs here are sweaty, exhorting, gamey and a
bit samey. They are all live, which can attribute to that. My
favorite section on each tends to be the opening where they
let the stormclouds brew, Mann’s piano gusting some reverb
feedback, and sort of hovering before the huffing-and-puffing
kicks in and they kick out the family jams and jewels.

Giant Haystacks “We Are Being Observed” [Smart Guy Records]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Named after a famous British wrestler, this Oakland trio is
decidedly leaner. Spry guitar sparked rock. The album’s
initial three songs are brilliant, and create a momentum
that is hard to sustain. Seriously, every time I listen to
those first three I think this is going to be one of the
greatest albums of all time. They have a nice device of the
next song often leaping in on the tail of its predecessor.
Watch your segues. And pull your old Ex records. Speaking of
the Ex, these guys are best off when they likewise lyrically
vote their songbook. Less looking through a child’s eyes…
The busier the bassline, the better as well. Brittle guitar.
Vocals are drawn and flat at times, but then again the band’s
charm is built upon its complete lack of pretension. So that
tends to work better with talkshout vox. Goddamn it, I gotta
listen to those first three songs again. Plenty of pins and
needles in these Giant Haystacks.

Glass Candy “Bicicleta Emociona” [Troubleman Unlimited]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2005   7-inch, A Library, Format

Ida No yelps and screams with the best of
them. Glam slammed rock…she’s traded in
her Bowie bent this time for a Bryan Ferry
fix. Her voice still has a unique frenzied
whorl to it. Johnny Jewel’s guitar is a
leather clad shark swimming around the
tank. More anachronism than anarchy…but
pure fun nonethelees. The Roxy Music cover
slips down through some tar pits to a drum
solo finish. Retro and active.

M83 – “Before The Dawn Heals Us” – [Goom, Labels]

Tyke   1/26/2005   A Library, CD

Taking their name from a distant galaxy, the duo of
Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau (pronounced
From-a-zho) from Antibes, France, make beautiful,
otherworldly music that sounds like it could have been
lifted from a sci-fi movie. These two have traded in
their guitars and punk aesthetic for a supremely
lush, melodic sound that sometimes has that weightless,
floating aura that hasSigur Ros stamped all over it, and
at others has the driving fuzz blast of the My Bloody
Valentine shoegazer set, both of which mark them out
as absolute winners in my book. It’s a mix of vocal and
instrumental tracks, with the 10-minute finale being the
icing on a delicious cake that will have you ditching that
diet you’ve been hating and coming back for much more.

Terry Tyke

Kagel, Mauricio “Alexandre Tharaud” [aeon]

cujo   1/26/2005   A Library, CD

Indeed, Kagel’s humor is not the kind that makes you laugh. Pianist Tharaud & friends present 5 of the composer’s mid-career works. An underlying theme to these works is the re-presentation of “classical” ideas in a Darmstadtian vein (Beethoven, Liszt, & Chopin for the very discerning ear). Another theme would be general melancholical humor. “MM51” and “Rrrrr…” can also be found elsewhere in our library. The real gems are the ensemble piece “Ludwig Van”, an homage to Beethoven replete with whisperings, gurglings, and “Freude!”s, and “MM51”, a piece for piano & metronome which plays like The Tell-Tale Arhythmic Heart – replete with finishing maniacal laughter – be sure to play this track to the bitter end.

-Cujo in April 2004

Fucked Up “Baiting the Public” [Deganged]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   7-inch, A Library, Format

Breakneck, breakface punk rock out of Toronto and a group
that was allegedly started as a joke, but a clever one at
that. Realizing that all bands ultimately lead towards
horrible fights, the idea here was to put a bunch of people
together who were already primed to go at each other. By
the sound of this, it was a complete success. Aggravation
fuels this 7″, with quick fisty drums, and good sawing
guitar. Basically we get a siamese twin of a song split into
two with different lyrics, but a shared chomping whole lotta
riff. The lyrics are punctuated by spittle, for “The Public”
the band meanders into some clarinet and sax spirals. All
in all a damn fine outing, as much fun if not more than the
photo inside. Double dirty ditties, take a grave shift just
so you can play this!

Fursaxa “Trobairitz Are Here From Venus” [self released]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Did you know that troubadors only referred to males, a
woman would be a trobairitz? Me neither. Tara Burke is
female, she is “Fursaxa” and she might not be human. A
galactic gypsy coasting through nebulae of sound. Pump
organ bellows send solar winds breathing neath Burke’s
drone-vox. Stilled syllables don’t let the words pass,
emotions do float by. This seems like the home-game
version of Ligeti. One woman chorus mushrooms out of
the alignment of air in organs and lungs. That heavy
atmosphere contracts some on “Backwards Alchemy” as
guest sorcerers are summoned, and space is opened up.
In particular, the severed fire extinguisher bells
of Matt Shiley really shimmer. Track three also has
some guitar feedhowlback. This is an all-live CDR
work pre-dating the outstanding and more diverse
“Madrigals in Duos” we’ve recently added.

Faun Fables “Family Album” [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Little house on the scary prairie? Dawn (“the Faun”)
McCarthy and Nils Frykdahl are the yin and yang of the
Fables, a duo above and beyond the music. Dawn’s voice
is a hand that can caress, Nil’s edginess files the
nails of that hand with fine serrations. As such, this
album is never a fa-la-la folk album, there’s a dark
beauty to every song, like a raven perched on a nurse’s
shoulder. “Joshua” debuted on a KFJC comp several years
ago, a lovely song, surely he was a lovelier boy. With
the album and song titles, a familiar concept emerges,
especially as Dawn’s Mom appears in word and waves.
Nils’ tracks, #4 and #11, are howlingly hyperdramatic,
think the Thin White Duke doing stand-up?’ And Dawn
is no namby-pamby Bambi, the “Fear March” is a clanky
coronation, her voice can stretch to strident. On a
couple of pieces she’s like the illegitimate daughter
of Robert Plant. Hawaiian Five-O Techn-O on “Eternal,”
the I-am-Cassie-hear-me-roar wonder on “Nop of Time.”
Eerily gorgeous, fearless release!

Eyvind Kang “Virginal Co-ordinates” Ipecac

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Steady beauty abounds on this album…from the twin pools at
the start blending tambura drone and slow Gavin Bryars-style
frozen strings and never stalling. Himalayan melodies waft in
and out of pieces, power drones fill in spaces, chamber ache
and faint gypsy joy comingle. All however do so in utmost
subtlety. Mike Patton’s voice treatments are most sublime.
The Yamantanka-tantra chant that breaks through the pizzicato
popcorn on “Doorway to the Sun” could have been overheard on
an astral plane between Terry Riley and Sun Ra. Turn that track
up to the heavens. A lot of movements use a simple repeating
note or two from various instruments to add to the overall
hypnotic halo. Some pieces track, and indeed all were recorded
live in 2000 at the Angelica Festival in Bologna, Italy. The
crowd was rendered speechless and immobile, unable to clap or
cough or do anything to break the spell of this fantastic
performance. You could call this modern classical, but it
might just be ancient folk.

Espers “s/t” [Locust]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

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!

Erase Errata “At Crystal Palace” [Troubleman]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

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.

Songs From the Entoptic Garden Vol. 1 – coll [Time Lag]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

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.

Burd Early “Mind and Mother” [Western Vinyl]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

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
work.

John Duncan “Da sich die Machtgier” [Die Stadt]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

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…

Digital Intervention, the “capture” [0101-music]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

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.

Diamanda Galas “La Serpenta Canta” [Mute]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

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.

Devendra Banhard “Rejoice in the Hands” [Young God]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

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.

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