Music Reviews

Savana Funk – “Ghibli” – [Garrincha Gogo]

aarbor   1/25/2023   A Library, CD

Savana Funk is Aldo from Italy, Blake from the UK, and Youssef from Morocco. They met Italy in 2015. By 2018 they were Savana Funk. A mixture of African music, funk, blues, psychedelic rock and jazz influences run throughout their music. My favorite tracks are: 3,4,6,8,1,7,9 AArbor

Worm “Bluenothing” [20 Buck Spin]

atavist   1/22/2023   A Library

Florida’s Worm return, dedicated to their deathed-up doom while grafting on elements of symphonic black metal key noodlings. Breathless cascading riffs and screaming thrash—particularly in that final track, Shadowside Kingdom—that endeavors to out-eighties the eighties. Does it exceed the speed of light and thereby reach its goal? Perhaps not, but I enjoy drinking heavily of this draught. Crushing boulders for days leavened by soaring guitars with a classic eighties ring and… those keys. I’m not especially sympathetic to overtly symphonic metal, and yet this doesn’t annoy me. Juxtaposed against the crushing hopelessness, it lends some sort of horror movie imagery that nudges the album on a slightly altered trajectory from their earlier release, Foreverglade.

Orthodox “Axis” [Alone Records]

atavist   1/22/2023   A Library

A quintessential release from these old Spanish doom masters, conjured in 2015. It has a bit of many elements that I think of when I think of the Orthodox sound. There are the horns that open Cara A—minimalist, distilled structures, their shadows dancing in the beam of a flashlight. This passage leads to Crown for a Mole, a straight-ahead drum+bass pummeling with Marco Serrato’s signature vocal style, always run through a vibrato-like effects pedal. The bass starts riffing around, almost improvisationally while the drums whirl; what could possibly go wrong? (Don’t answer that question.) Usually a power trio, this album was captured during a four-year period without their main guitarist, leaving a rhythm section with extensive experience in free improvisation and extreme jazz variants collaborating with a cast of reed, horn, and percussion players. It’s interesting that a 2017 release of theirs, Supreme, actually got filed in our Jazz Library. I think the doom metal elements in Axis tip it firmly into A Library territory, though the weirded out jazz influence persists. Once you’ve entered the halls of Medea, traipse through its dusty colonnades, feel the earth quaking below. There are simply gorgeous textures here, provided by Carlos Pérez’s guitar work. Orthodox are known to explore themes rooted in Mediterranean folklore in their lyrics. Contrast the European martial lilt in Axis/Equinox to the double bass drifting down a river through the forest in ¡Io, Sabacio, Io, Io!, with folk vocal stylings of Xavier Castroviejo. Canícula blasts out the speakers one last time before the final track acts as a sort of reprise, a return to the theme that launched the journey, turning on its axis. 


McCowen, John – “Models of Duration” – [Astral Spirits]

karma   1/11/2023   12-inch, A Library

“Time is the essential part of interpretation.” – Lydia Tár, the (fictional) conductor at the heart of the film Tár.

Recorded in fall 2020, when most markers of the passage of time weren’t, Models of Duration is an exploration of how instruments model time and create sonic space. There are four 10-12 minute tracks of contrabass clarinet drone, with no electronic manipulation. It’s remarkable what McCowen can do; the harmonics on track A2 sound don’t sound like they came from a human playing an instrument.

This album is best listened to on vinyl, on a good sound system. There is a physical element to this album, I felt the deep bass of the clarinet absorb in my bones.

As a DJ, this album begs for some kind of experimentation. Try playing it at different speeds. Mess with the pitch. Control time.

Q-Burns Abstract Message – “Feng Shui” – [Astralwerks]

karma   1/11/2023   12-inch, A Library

1998 downtempo house double album by Q-BAM, aka Michael Donaldson, a DJ from Orlando. This was his first release. The BPMs are low, and the album seems to bridge the gap between ambient house and indie pop (especially “Jennifer,” which features vocals from Icelandic pop collective GusGus. That song could have been on The Royal Tenenbaums). There are also influences of rap (He’s a Skull), soul (Kinda Picky), and world music (New Patterns).

It’s interesting placing this album in the context of Donaldson’s career 25 years later. Through the late 90s and early aughts, Q-BAM was a sought after DJ and traveled the world. After the Great Recession, he seemed to shift towards music production and his record label. During the pandemic, he pursued writing, and currently writes for his digital zine. These days, he is involved with producing podcasts and serves as a consultant to aspiring musicians and producers. In interviews, he states that his philosophy is to pursue the innovative and promote artists that are pushing the medium forward. Quite similar to the ethos of KFJC.

Dreckig – “Digital Exposure” – [Broken Clover Records]

aarbor   12/30/2022   12-inch, A Library

Dreckig is Portland-based husband and wife duo David “Papi” Fimbres and Shana “Azucar” Lindbeck. This is their 3rd album. Their music filters Latin dance rhythms through a base of Krautrock and electronic club music. Then they layer drum machines, synthesizers, percussion and vocals in Spanish, English and German. Here they also add a chirpy flute. It is more psych than “international”. AArbor

Flaccid Mojo – “Flaccid Mojo” – [Castle Face Records]

cinder   12/27/2022   12-inch, A Library

Duo of Black Dice members Aaron Warren and Bjorn Copeland, sticking it out in Los Angeles. They definitely channel out some of the quirky, choppy, dirty robot beats and electronics that Black Dice brought, but also incorporate sound clips, muffled words and random samples in a semi-Negativland type way – but more broken and skewed. Greatly sizzled and fried with deep looped rhythms.   

Georis, Nico – “A Rainbow In Curved Air” – [Spiritual Pajamas]

cinder   12/27/2022   12-inch, A Library

Glorious, beautiful, stunning synth sounds from Nico Georis. His interpretation of Terry Riley’s Rainbow In Curved Air is lovely – trickling rainbow icicles floating on candy clouds. The other 3 tracks are originals – Vapor is a “plant music duet” that features Nico playing along with the plaintive washes of sound produced by a cannabis plant connected to a Plant Wave device. Turns out cannabis is floating high in musical talents as well. He had spontaneously played it over his Big Sur based pirate channel, Milky Way Radio. The final 2 tracks are based off slot machine samples. Twinkling electronics and magical game bubbles to the max. This might have been channeled directly from my brain that one time I was on Ecstasy in Vegas…

Black Cilice – “Banished From Time” – [Iron Bonehead Productions]

whngr   12/22/2022   A Library, Cassette

Cavernous screeches peel through the mists of an eternal nocturne.

Portugal’s misanthropic black anchorite low fidelity murk metal project returns to our library, this time on cassette. Five spectral black metal offerings with a thick mist of noise/drone. A total absence of life this recording feels like an extrasensory foray beyond the veil. Thin, dark, miserable; these are the sounds of the recluse who has dispensed with society.

Black Cilice is credited to the atirst “none” on Encyclopedia Metallum

Portugal – 2017

Xibalba Itzaes – “Ah Dzam Poop Ek” – [Guttural Records]

whngr   12/22/2022   A Library, CD

Mayan Black Massacre

Raw Seminal first LP from early black metal project Xibalba Itzaes (now just Xibalba) out of Mexico (not to be mistaken for the California hardcore/beatdown group of the same name and slightly similar logo). A two-piece, low-fidelity expulsion of rage, terror, and malice with themes around the brutality of the Mayan pantheon and exploration of a culture rife with human sacrifice. Xibalba roughly translates to “Place of fear” and represents the name of Mayan the underworld. Includes traditional indigenous instrumentation like rattles and flutes like, “Garchah” (Disc 1 – track 4), “Sac Ibteeloob Cab” (Disk 2 – track (5), and “Bolontiku Vahoom (Disc 1 – track 7)” which also has some ambient avian sounds. Cvlt, cold, and grim, these lads were on the crest of the 2nd wave from the New World and are perhaps the first trve black metal projects to come from south of the border.

Xibalba are brothers, Marco Ek Balam (vox, guitars, lyrics, songwriting) and Jorge Ah Ektenel (drums, lyrics, songwriting) who have both continued the tribal war malignance until the present day (despite a few hiatuses) though they have had a bass player (also their brother) since 1992, he is not credited on this re-release, however, he most likely did perform on the second disc,”Live from Delorean Sanctuary” which was recorded in 2017 and is extra muddy and gross.

Mexico City -1994

Ignivomous – “Hieroglossia” – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

whngr   12/22/2022   12-inch, A Library

Aussie Tech-Death Doom

Heavy/fast – heavy/slow detuned death metal from the land of reversal. As above, so below. Frenetic fretting, double bass, blast beats, relatively sparse pinch harmonics, trem dives, and other guitar trickery, guttural bellows with compelling and even beautiful perhaps cover art by one Stéfan Thanneur of Ocre and illustrator to many delicious music related outings including Oakland’s Succumb. Ignivomous is Latin for “Vomiting Fire” and the themes include philosophic pessimism and gnostic ideology around the “… hostile nature of the material world”.

Active since 2006, this five-piece has had a couple of line-up adjustments but have retained the core of the founding members for their sixteen year existence.

Melbourne – 2019

Organisation – “Tone Float” – [Inner Space]

carsonstreet   12/19/2022   A Library, CD

Tone Float is the only LP by the German band Organisation was a predecessor to Kraftwerk, which was formed by two members of the band (Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleben) after the album’s release. Of the album’s recording Hütter would later say: “The studio was in the middle of an oil refinery. When we came out of the door we could hear the sound of those big flames burning off the fumes – all kinds of industrial noises.” Sales were poor and RCA opted to drop the band, which then dissolved.  This CD includes a bonus track titled “Vor dem blauen Bock” which in fact is an instrumental track recorded at a May 1971 performance by Kraftwerk on the Bremen Beat-Club TV show. This song features the short-lived line-up of Florian Schneider, Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger (Ralf Hütter had left the group during this period to study architecture). Rother and Dinger left Kraftwerk shortly afterwards to form Neu!.  

Spiral Wave Nomads – “Magnetic Sky” – [Twin Lakes Records]

carsonstreet   12/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

This is the third LP by the New York/Connecticut duo, Spiral Wave Nomads. Magnetic Sky is a set of expanding improvisations. Employing the strings of Albany’s Eric Hardiman (Sky Furrows/Burnt Hills/Rambutan/Century Plants) and the drums of New Haven’s Michael Kiefer (More Klementines/Rivener/Drifting North), along with electronic tones generated by the both of them.
The duo creates massive sonic width and depth by piling up instrumental passages in layers. This allows the music to peel itself like a psychedelic onion spinning crazily in a forgotten pocket of deep space. Eric’s electric guitar parts are assembled to make him sound like a small orchestra at times, quietly blowing the lid off the notion that there are only two players creating these ceaseless swirls. Multiplied by tape (or the digital equivalent thereof), the strings, the drums and the keys refract everything like dark tone mirrors in a freaked out carnival funhouse.

Living Sky, The – “Enter the Sky” – [Home & Garden Music]

carsonstreet   12/19/2022   A Library, Cassette

Jason Millard and Matthew Himes explore the outer regions of psychedelic rock, ambient and drones on Enter the Sky. If you ever wondered what Pink Floyd might have sounded like if Syd Barrett had not lost his marbles, these two veterans from the Minneapolis may have finally answered that question. There is folk lurking in the background hiding from the howling guitar as if Jorma Kaukonen has joined The Velvet Underground. Lo-fi fans will love this. Swirling guitar with feedback and echo. Garage psych at it’s best.

Midnight Dunes – “Midnight Dunes” – [Self Released]

karma   12/17/2022   A Library, CD

“I like to pull from a bunch of different styles to create a unique vibe for the listener. Keep ‘em guessing by doing away with traditional arrangements and textures. Hop on a cosmic dingy and enjoy the ride.”

-Robert Fosco, aka Midnight Dunes. He makes his fantastic beats out of Neptune, NJ. The base is excellent lo-fi hip-hop, featuring sonic toppings from the lady who tells you to enter your voicemail password on your phone, Cold War nuclear films, and what sounds like fingerpicked guitar. This is a fun album that pairs well with a lot of different genres and types of sets.

Black Ox Orkestar – “Everything Returns” – [Self-release]

Brian Damage   12/15/2022   A Library, CD

As much as this radio station seems to hate getting the band back together, here’s one that works just as well as before, and perhaps more so.

Black Ox Orkestar is a Montreal-based quartet who perform a modern spin on Jewish diasporic music utilizing traditional acoustic instruments. All are members of other bands, or are solo artists in their own right (Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Land of Kush, Sackville, etc.) and formed in 2000 to play what was essentially their spin on their grandparent’s music. Disbanding in 2006 after two albums, they recently reconvened and recorded this magnificent record, recorded with vocals in Yiddish and English. Themes are timely and politically charged: nationalism, fascism, refugees, anarchism, despair, optimism, community, tradition, innovation. It simultaneously despairs and uplifts. It’s dark, but it’s looking for the light.

Both Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave would be equally proud of Black Ox Orkestar.

Damage gives this a big yes.

Dangerous Chairs – “Introducing Dangerous Chairs” – [Self-release]

Brian Damage   12/15/2022   A Library, CD

Chicago’s Dangerous Chairs describe themselves as “dark rock with exposed punk roots.” One listen to the quintet’s ragged guitars tells you that they’re from Chicago. But they’re slippery – one minute, I hear Bob Mould influences, the next minute it’s ALL; hey, is that an echo of Slint that just flew past?

Definitely an act honed and focused on live gigs, the songs and performances mostly hit the mark. Solid songwriting and arrangement, fine musicianship, and a varied approach to rocking like a hurricane lead to high points like “Jeweler’s Lens” and “Rooftops.” Lows are limited to the songs “Plenty of Room,” which seems to be written and recorded by another band entirely, the I-think-it’s-supposed-to-be-positive-and-inspirational “Follow My Lantern”, and the majority of the backing vocals, which seem well-intentioned enough, but Dangerous Chairs are not the Beach Boys, and they should stay out of that sandbox.

Introducing Dangerous Chairs would work better as a ten-song record, but it’s a solid and rocking first effort, and well worth a listen.

Akitsa – “Sang Nordique” – [Hospital Productions]

whngr   12/15/2022   12-inch, A Library

Nordic BM from the New World

Primitive and coarse, Sang Nordique is a plodding march into Canadian black metal with a macabre garage rock sound and deep roots in the noise scene. More morose and minimal than furious, with ugly guitar tones and simple repetitive compositions slightly reminiscent of Les Légions Noires, admittedly, in part, due to the French lyrics which are thoughtful and morose. This album was re-recorded in 2008 with Eric Syre on drums and re-pressed in 2019 by Hospital Productions due to a longtime friendship between Tremblay and label owner Dominic Fernow of Prurient which includes rehearsals (side D) from 2002. Vocals are gravelly, guttural, forlorn, hollow, screechy and on “La Nature De Mon Pays” (B7), melodic and slightly evocative of a wintery dissonant sadness.

Akitsa is a two-piece from  Montréal, “O.T.” (Outre-Tombe/Pierre-Marc Tremblay) liege of Tour de Garde Records and “Néant” of Uno Acto, both of whom perform all instruments.

Quebec – 2002

Ctenizidae – “…Of Rotting Soil And Spine” – [Nebular Carcoma]

whngr   12/15/2022   10-inch, A Library

There is something very small on this landscape… and it is you! 

A tiny man in a field of unspeakable horrors, fearsome giant spiders are prowlling for flesh and now that you are the size of an almond, you make a hopelessly soft target and must battle for your life like a lost Frazzeta painting. And these six short tracks are the soundtrack to your terrifying, if brief, tale of woe in the spiny clutches of ruthless arachnoids. 

High intensity USBM and harsh, slightly insectoid electronic textures by one, The Abyssal Rot of All Creation of which no information is available. Cteniizidae is an order of spider that hunts uses a trapdoor to hunt and hide… Creepy.

Location unknown – 2021

Whoredom Rife – “Whoredom Rife” – [Terratur Possessions]

whngr   12/15/2022   12-inch, A Library

Modern high production black metal from Norway.

I acquired this because I want to say “Whoredom Rife” as much as possible in my life and I appreciate their aesthetic. Shields and skulls, check, NWN! was having a sale, yup. The tracks are alright too, I guess. I mean, it’s all there; Norwegian, brutal, furious, grim, cvlt, fits into christless… just a little too technically proficient and exhibiting more virtuosity than I generally prefer. Call me what you will, but I want my metal bleak, crusty, and mysterious… Give it to me rrraaawwww… slip back into the shadows and scheme.

W.R. are “K.R.” (Kjell Rambech), vox and “V. Einride” (Vegar Ytterdel Larsen), everything else. Larsen has been active as a session and live drummer in the current century including working the kit for Gorgoroth. Prior to that, and until recently, he was in an absolute shit project called, Keep of Kalessin. Cringey videos exist, try to avoid seeking them out. He is far better on all instruments in Whoredom Rife than any of his previous cohorts are on theirs.

I am drawn to the packaging on this EP though it has a few qualities that are irritating and counterintuitive for service in a radio station. Gate-fold slipcover? Okay, if you say so… fuckin’ flashy pants… but pretty rad at the same time. ;P

Trondheim – 2016

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