KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Rombix – “Butoh For A.A.” – [24919 Records]

lexi glass   9/24/2018   A Library, CD

Rombix is Roman Voronovskiy, a sound artist from Moscow and founder of the 24919 label that released this limited edition 2008 CD. Each track is a minimal collage made from layers of analog tape loops. Repeating patterns – of metallic rhythms, washes of static, soft chimes, echoing piano, angelic voices – ebb and flow into the mix. I should just give up on this review now, because nothing I could write would hold a candle to this, a poor English translation of a review I found on a Russian mail order website: “There is no genre. Do not noise and not ambient, do not guess. Experimental – this is not a genre… when you listen to ‘Butoh’, he just gently rustles. The main association is ice and mirrors. There are no synthesizers. The computer is also not. There are only rings from the film. In the spirit of ‘Butoh.’ It’s hip-hop that died. The drums fell, all the instruments melted, disappeared (rotted, crawled away), only the bare space of the tracks, soft fluffy itching from the speakers remained.”

Urine Analysis – “Yellow Album, The” – [Tombstone]

mickeyslim   9/21/2018   7-inch, A Library

Scuzz punk from Gresham, Oregon. Stevie Blunder on vox, Niko on drums, Vomit Master on guitar, and Ellis Dee (not KFJC’s Roland Blunt) on bass. Late ’80s punk, discernible vocals all on the theme of pee-pee. Whistle solo on “We’ve Come to Kill.” FCC clean, but definitely disgusting. Translucent yellow vinyl limited to 200 copies.

Beauty School – “Crust Immersed” – [Weird Ear]

Phil Phactor   9/19/2018   A Library, CD

A bashing, clattering, scraping mess from this trio of Bay Area weirdos,  namely Tom Djll on trumpet and electronics, Jacob Felix Heule on percussion and electronics and Matt Chandler on bass guitar (ex. Burmese). Group noise has the potential to sidestep the wank-factor inherent in solo noise, and this release is a good example. It’s difficult to tell who’s doing what, but you can hear that everyone’s listening, stretching their capabilities, and competing to deliver the most brutal blow. The result is chaotic, claustrophobic, and abrasive, not to mention a bit of an endurance test. The first track is 10 minutes, and they get longer from there. Originally released on cassette, Tom Djll made this CD-R just for us. Should be deeply satisfying for both free jazz-ers and noise freaks alike.

Alto! – “LP3” – [Trouble In Mind]

Phil Phactor   9/19/2018   12-inch, A Library

Pit veterans Alto! return with their third LP and they’re sticking with their track naming strategy, which means we start off with ‘Piece 14.’ Bells and hand percussion are soon joined by a chunky synth melody and then—woah, is that a whistle—we’re off into Señor Coconut territory. Do not miss the killer flute solo a little over halfway through. There’s the occasional sinister guitar stab, but combustion will have to wait, as this weirdo world groover stays the course. The next track, ‘Piece 12,’ opens with some late-night minor-key guitar noodles, and then BOOM, depress the pedal and it’s just non-stop doom riffage. Eventually the dust settles, and we’re back to our Tunisian opium den. A bongo player emerges out of the shadows, and it’s all over. Or is it? The flip is marked as two tracks, but they track together to form an extended percussion and synth workout in the vein of the opener. Has the torch of the mystics been passed?

Preening – “Nice Dice” – [Fine Concepts]

lexi glass   9/18/2018   7-inch, A Library

2018 7” EP from Oakland post punk trio of Max Nordile on sax, Alejandra Alcala on bass, and Sam Lefebvre on drums. Four energetic tracks of logical chaos, wacky vox, rhythmic contortions. There’s nothing new about this no wave, but that’s quite alright – you can hear they’re having fun and it’s hard not to laugh along with them. From new local label Fine Concepts.

Sickness – “Fuck Your Punk Rock” – [RRRecords]

Louie Caliente   9/18/2018   12-inch, A Library

Old school american power electronics. A relentless, fast-paced assault of scorched samples, blown circuits, and human misery. Not a continuous wall of noise, but still fairly impenetrable.

Machine gun static screeching blasts, pummeling and painful. Conjuring up images of car wrecks, difficult dental work, and close encounters with heavy machinery.

Sickness is Chris Goudreau, who’s been active in the noise industrial scene since the mid 80s. Despite being fairly prolific, “Fuck Your Punk Rock” (RRRecords 2004) is only the second full-length to enter the KFJC library.  There are apparently 7 tracks on this album, but it’s difficult to tell them apart, and the picture disk makes it impossible to cue anyways, so just drop the needle and let it ride.

FIRST AND LAST TRACKS ARE LOCKED GROOVES!

Skadne Krek – “Schjesslips” – [Skussmaal]

Louie Caliente   9/18/2018   12-inch, A Library

Heavy-duty bass-driven prog-rock grooves from these Norwegian Noxagt-Neighbors. Their name means “damaged jerk”, and this is their second album, released on guitarist Gaute Granli’s Skussmaal label.

Gut-blasting bass lines, pounding yet precise drumming, looping synths, and scraping vocals. Repetitive poly-rhythmic grooves being hammered into your skull.

Granli lends his avant-garde guitar skills to the mix, but the sound is meaner and more aggressive than what we’ve heard before, but also more diverse, featuring tweaked-out post-punk jabs, psychedelic wailing, and even some scorching metal riffs.

Adult – “Detroit House Guests” – [Mute Artists Ltd]

Naysayer   9/16/2018   A Library, CD

Adult is Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller and “Detroit House Guests” is the CD that came out of their project inviting six very distinct artists into their Detroit home at separate times, collaborating with that artist and creating work from that collaboration. It’s a fascinating concept that offers so many varying outcomes. Fortunately, each collaboration is unique and of superb quality. Adult tend to fall into an electronic art punk art damage sound, pulling from the 1980’s/90’s but definitely making it their own. The influences are sometimes obvious on this new CD, which makes it more fun, but you can figure them out for yourself. The 12 tracks are definitely filled with the style and sounds of each collaborator but in the end the songs are Adult. The list of artists is so unique, from big names to lesser known to the mainstream alternative but equally valued by those in the know. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe brings his electronic soundscapes, twisting and beating with frightening authenticity. Shannon Funchess of Light Asylum adds her powerful deep vocals, drums and electronic play to mix with the sound of Adult. Michael Gira (Swans) and Douglas J. McCarthy (Nitzer Ebb) do what they do best with their onslaught and push. The new people for me were Dorit Chrysler and Lun*na Menoh, Dorit Chrysler is an internationally known theremin player, cofounder of The New York Theremin Society and founder of America’s first school for theremin. She also has this amazing voice, very emotional and cerebral at the same time. Lun*na Menoh is an artist, performance artist (Les Sewing Sisters), musician (Seksu Roba), and conceptual clothing designer. With Adult she uses her interest in sewing machines, using them to establish beats and rhythm. Put these all together and you get 12 tracks of electronic beats, monotone vocalization, art performance, emotional distance. Exceptional quality.

Beaulieau, Emil – “That Velvet Touch” – [RRRecords]

lexi glass   9/10/2018   7-inch, A Library

Pretty cool find – 7″ EP released sometime in the 80s from America’s Greatest Noise Artist himself, Emil Beaulieau (the alterego of Rrron Lessard of legendary label RRRecords, but you knew that). Four short tracks with all the trappings of power-drill-to-the-forehead harsh noise, but the experience of listening to this disc isn’t quite like that. Maybe it’s because within the clipped blasts are mysterious drones (T1), whistling melodies (T2), distorted guitar and whimpered vocals (T4) – you know, that velvet touch. Emil hopes you like it, but if not, well…

Birchville Cat Motel – “Frog Prince, The” – [Anthem Records]

lexi glass   9/10/2018   7-inch, A Library

2007 7″ single from New Zealand experimental artist Campbell Kneale (see also Our Love Will Destroy the World and metal-influenced Black Boned Angel). One five minute track that tells a strange little tale, beginning with a noise collage of vibrating metallic sounds, like wire cables being wrapped, stretched and strained. But then the abstraction gives way to something more defined: a driving guitar and drum rhythm, a thick drone fog, and a monstrous swarm of chirping frogs. Together, the sounds paint a scene of headlights approaching in the dead of night.

Julian Fane – “Our New Quarters” – [Planet Mu]

Naysayer   9/9/2018   A Library, CD

“Our New Quarters” is Julian Fane’s 2007 release on Planet Mu. Ten tracks of lush, orchestral faux gaze (not quite nu-gaze) float the listener down an auditory river. At once slightly Sigur Ros or Damon & Naomi and then avant garde vocalizations and elongated strings mixed with electronics, Fane shifts sounds and tone like the differences one encounters when on that river. His lyrics are eloquent poems of desperation and sadness, observances of what will come (not good) and what is around (not good). The guitar work balances his tenor voice, often beautifully indecipherable, making you fill in the text based on your level of sadness. Fane once was a broker working the NASDAQ. He gave that up and went into music. We need more people to make choices like this. Wallow on in your ennui oh wayward son.

Henriksen, Arve – “Towards Language” – [Rune Grammofon]

humana   9/9/2018   A Library, CD


Such sparse loveliness coming from a trumpet can only come from a Norwegian musician. Compared to the sounds of a flute, Henriksen’s trumpet music tiptoes over your emotions, leaving you feeling sad and nostalgic, and the beauty of his high-pictched vocalizations (especially on 9) offers you just enough comfort to wish for more.

Artificial Brain – “Infared Horizon” – [Profound Lore]

Lord Gravestench   9/8/2018   A Library, CD

Artifical Brain, Technical Death Metal from The Big Bagel. Some members are also involved in the post-Hardcore scene out there.

Now I’m reading about Tech-Death online and I guess I don’t really know shit about it. I do like early Nile quite a bit (bite me!) but this doesn’t really sound like early Nile, at all. Portal meets Krallice might be a better reference point— and as we will see, I mean this as a compliment!

If I say I’m picky about Tech-Death I mostly just mean that I don’t like Gorguts all that much. My eternal Prog-metal nemesis Colin Marston, who plays in Gorguts (and Krallice), actually co-produced (with the band) this 2017 sophomore effort, as well as recording and engineering. It isn’t really a surprise because Marston is all over the NYC metal scene. I like to give the gentleman shit in my reviews here, but his touch on ‘Infrared Horizon’ probably did have a positive impact (as it did on Mastery’s ‘Valis’ BTW).

Artificial Brain’s sound is Tech-Death drawing somewhat on old Atrocity, with a bit of Black Metal melody and a dash of Isis-like Girlfriend Metal lipgloss. And the thing is, it all works amazingly well. Perhaps the fact that the band prefer sci fi horror themes (think ‘Alien’) for their lyrics (like Nocturnus, but, y’know, not totally boring) helps to make the forward-thinking/progressive/possibly overproduced sound so appropriate. Even the title track’s appearance by arch-tool Trevor Strnad, of contemptible posers Black Dahlia Murder, passes completely unnoticed. Paulo Paguntalan of Encenethrakh, another Marston project, appears on three tracks also. Main vocalist W.S. (see also: grindcore band Buckshot Facelift) keeps things gritty with a versatile mix of pigsqueals, growls and blackened shrieks.

All the music is composed by their guitarist. Dense, layered, psychotic, claustrophobic, but also kind of glittery and robotic. What sounds like utter chaos soon reveals itself to be well-structured and in some cases almost catchy Death Metal.

I think this is a rare case of a popular Death Metal band that doesn’t suck, but I haven’t seen them live yet so maybe I’ll end up eating crow. Good sound on the CD, anyway… In all seriousness, I’ve been a supporter of Artifical Brain since their first album and I’m happy for them. And the album art doesn’t remind me of the movie ‘Wall-E’ at all.

Mason – “Concrete Mirror” – [Oxen]

Lord Gravestench   9/7/2018   A Library, Cassette

Yet another deprogramming session from LA’s Harsh Noise dealers at Oxen, the label run by Unsustainable Social Condition and Leah P. This time our contestant is Abe Mason from N. Carolina., his mouth full of dust and tape. There are two tracks on side A and 3 on side B of this 2018 scorcher, and both ten-minute sides track together (wink). Side A is skittery and explosive, like coming down from methamphetamine (I’m told). Small movements in dim corners of abandoned factories. Suddenly the broken machinery springs to life; splats, tearing. Side B grinding rattling creaking, electronics and metal and a continuation of the general ‘cut-up’ theme also explored recently by Japan’s Scum on this same label.

It all seems to be pretty intricate sound design work even by the standard Oxen enforces. Very much in stereo, and kind of like a child “with ADHD” (cough) it can’t settle on any noise texture for more than about half a second. I dunno if it’s improvised or composed or waddaya waddaya, but I declare it truly impressive noise. Apparently Mason has also released quite a bit under the name Thirteen Fingers.

Pure electronic harsh noise devastation chopped into breathless adrenalin bursts. The only recognisable human sound anywhere is a brief sample of maybe a standup comic on the final track who pops in to say “It’s all just a waste of time… doesn’t matter.” Indeed.

Gibson, Robert – “Flux and Fire” – [Innova/American Composers]

Hemroid The Leader   9/5/2018   A Library, CD

Images in transition, transforming in time, like indiscreet undulations of the desert, or lines of poetry are the basis for “12 Poems,” short (2:21 max) for violin and piano. “I want to drink from the storm,” says composer Robert Gibson.
“Soundings” double-bass quartet a conversation in deeper voices. Gibson played bass for Mose Allison, Bob Berg, and Barney Kessel in the 80s. Sounding is the nautical term for depth measurement.
Night Music solo pieces ready for grave listening.

Shep and Me – “Nasturtium Inertia” – [Dear Skull Records]

Phil Phactor   9/5/2018   12-inch, A Library

Vinyl re-issue of a 2009 cassette and our first release from the (now-defunct?) Dear Skull label. This is dark, drony music for the nighttime. More specifically, this feels like Loren Mazzacane Connors meets The Microphones, as plaintive melodies rise up from the murk of lonely guitar lines and scratchy field recordings. Gets deeper with every listen. A project of Matthew Himes, who also records as Mole Hole and runs the Lighten Up Sounds label, which appears to still be going.

Djll, Tom – “Serge Works” – [Other Minds, Inc.]

lexi glass   8/28/2018   A Library, CD

Tom Djll is a local experimental musician whose work throughout his decades-long career is well-represented in our library, from his solo work to his ensemble projects Grosse Abfahrt, Tender Buttons, and many others. This release, part of Other Minds‘ 2018 Modern Hits series, collects recordings from the early period of Djll’s career in the 1980s, as he was just beginning to assemble his own Serge Modular synthesizers and use the instrument to accompany, or process, the sounds of his trumpet.

In these seven works, trumpet tones bend and stretch into space age sine waves, periodic pulses, blasts of noise, and other surprising sounds. But they’re arranged in different ways: in “popcorn music” (T3), “Pair Time,” (T5) and the understated “Francine” (T6), as a evolving improvised sound collage (those last two, featuring percussionist Ross Rabin, especially call to mind Tender Buttons), in “schitzo-analysis” (T2) or the centerpiece “FAT” (T4, an excerpt of an hour long piece), as intense, luminous drones, and in “Tombo” (T1) and “Seattle 1988” (T7), while Djll claims he was inspired by punk and noise, I hear them as a warped, funhouse mirror reflections of free jazz. More information about the recordings and some nerding out over Serge modules in the disc’s liner notes.

Monkey Power Trio – “The Ballad of Christian Wolfcock” – [Pocahontas Swamp Machine Recordings]

Max Level   8/28/2018   10-inch, A Library

MPT have their way with the expanded 10″ format this time. The five-member trio is back with recordings they laid down in 2014 and 2015 –OK, so things don’t move terribly swiftly in The Land of MPT– and it is one of their best releases in a while. If “Left Behind” was MPT’s “Exile on Main Street”, and I think we can all agree that it was, then this new one is their “Let it Bleed.” One surprising song style after another, yet it all hangs together somehow. Highlights for me: “Gordon Muir, Time Traveler” must be heard to be believed. Remember “Kraken” from a few years ago, with its grinding guitars and weird falsetto vox? Well, this is its geeky cousin. “Deadhand Button” is an uptempo, knee-slappin’ little ditty about nuclear holocaust. The drugged-out funk of “Black Wig” moves nicely into “Under the River”, a country-ish strum-along reminiscent of the Glimmer Twins after several too many bottles of wine. “Hello Cleveland” ends the record and this song is so pretty it would have been at home on “eMPTy”, the band’s prettiest record to date. Even the weird (w)rapping toward the end can’t derail this one. We never do find out who Christian Wolfcock is, by the way. I give this record four and a half fingers, maybe five.

Takada, Midori & Satoh, Masahiko – “Lunar Cruise” – [Epic Records]

Naysayer   8/22/2018   A Library, CD

This rerelease of Midori Takada and Masahiko Satoh’s 1990 “Lunar Cruise” is a beautiful, unique album, rich in diversity of sound. Recorded after the two of them performed in countries in Africa, Europe and Asia, this album is full of the musical traditions from these parts of the world. All instrumentals, each track stands on it’s own. The diverse instrumentation flows from synth beats to minimalist marimba, middle eastern jazz to gongs and electronic drones. Satoh plays a variety of synthesizers and Midori plays percussion. Their interaction is thrilling to listen to because of the ease with which they play together and the comfort displayed in the diversity of sounds.

Hollow+Sunshine+-+%22Cold+Truth%2FI+Wandered%22+-+%5BNostalgium+Directive%5D

Thurston Hunger   8/22/2018   7-inch, A Library


Hollow Sunshine “Cold Truth b/w I Wandered ” 45
2014 single from this Seattle duo that listen to their elders. Slow and
thick (not Earth slow but slow) more shoegaze that sludge. Anvil anthems,
Reuben Sawyer is drummasaurus and guitarist and all non-mouth things.
Bass vertabrae support that kind of Projekt fuzzed guitar. Morgan Enos
sings steady above the thrum. His phrasing on “I Wandered” leans over
the edge of the riffs nicely. Even better when Nina Chase chimes in
some harmony vocals about halfway through. Could see that cut being a
chest-rattler live. Lean to the pop and you could connect these guys
to Charles Brown Superstar, step to the heavy and you might find Thou.
And apparently we can thank Thou for delivering us this slab of
Hollow Sunshine. -Thurston Hunger