KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Hippopotamus – “Attn: Span” – [Compared to What Records]

atavist   3/20/2019   7-inch, A Library

A pretty cool time capsule here of mid-nineties math rock, reminiscent of Drive Like Jehu and Roadside Monument, though maybe a little more angular and weird. The recording is characterized by a lo-fi four-track-style quality. The vocals sound normal at 45rpm, but the instruments sound sped up during side A (“Attn: Span”) and the first part of side B (“Least”). Side B mellows out midway through before building intensity. It’s too bad about the F-bomb on this second track, as it has some nice dynamic shifts.

Orcutt, Bill – “Neu Bros / OK Phone / Rural Beatles” – [Fake Estates]

atavist   3/20/2019   12-inch, A Library

Orcutt, known to KFJC for his experimental/free guitar work and, more recently, his collaborations with Chris Corsano, explores two new electronic compositions on this album. Research leads to, among other things, a Github repo, as the sounds were created using “a web audio library that uses method chaining and CSS-style selectors to simplify creating, configuring and connecting audio nodes in the browser.” Side A is comprised of contemplative tones; patterns repeat meditatively, shifting over time. The computer sounds generated by Orcutt’s Cracked app have an organ-like quality on this piece. Side B, in contrast, is frenetic, bubbling computer tones. Patterns persist, replicate, evolve, adapt while maintaining an over-arching, consistent identity. Imagine a visualization of an ant colony or a traffic pattern, how the pixels might jostle around on the screen, and then you associated sounds with those myriad pixels—Side B might be what you’d hear.

Matmos – “Plastic Anniversary” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

lexi glass   3/19/2019   A Library, CD

Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt are still going strong after 25 years of partnership, and they’re celebrating the milestone with a new album. This work follows the blueprint of many previous Matmos releases: the duo choose a theme and a limited range of sounds, and build the album within those constraints, often finding creative and surprising solutions to the strict boundaries they’ve set for themselves. This time, they’ve crafted an album entirely from the sounds of plastic objects. Throughout Plastic Anniversary, there’s hints of past works – the latex squeaks from Supreme Balloon or the fleshy-tones of A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure – in the yelps from plastic tubing and squeals of synthetic fat and silicone breast implants. One element that sets this album apart for me is its powerful percussion. Members of a Montana high school drumline whale on trash bins in “Fanfare for Polyethylene Waste Containers” (T8) and solo on a “Thermoplastic Riot Shield” (T7, with added police state synths from Professor Cantaloupe). I outgrew my teenage crush on Deerhoof, but never my respect for their staggering drummer, Greg Saunier. Here, he contributes to several tracks, including the standout “The Collapse of the Fourth Kingdom” (T10), and the opener “Breaking Bread”(T1), where the trio plays the smashed fragments of old Bread LPs (a live performance of this track at the 2017 WFMU Record Fair caused a hilarious uproar from attendees). I could go on – the final track is synthetic soundscape of a teeming forest! (T11) – as this album overflows with unlikely sounds and ideas. Dead serious about their craft but never taking themselves too seriously, Matmos consistently rise far above the great garbage gyre that is the current musical landscape. Here’s to many more!

Subtitle / John Wiese / Adlib / The Cherry Point [coll] – [Troniks]

atavist   3/19/2019   7-inch, A Library

Track one is comprised of some basic beat machine grooves with stream-of-consciousness hip hop lyrics. Primitive 8-bit electronics round out the mix. We have a couple records by the artist, Subtitle, in the Hip Hop library. Next, John Wiese drops in with with a corrupted dissolution of sound, all jagged edges and jarring transitions. This artist should be well-known to some KFJC DJs at this point. On side B, Adlib provides abstract noise washes with a drum & bass element that staggers in and out of the composition. The end result makes for a fairly compelling track. The Cherry Point closes out the 7″ with a thick mass of machine noise reminiscent of an idling HVAC system in a parking garage. 1982 forever, indeed, but this track only lasts for a minute and a half.

Uniform – “Uniform” – [Beggars Tomb]

Lord Gravestench   3/15/2019   12-inch, A Library

Uniform is an industrial duo from New York City. Brooklyn hipster trashlord Ben Greenberg (of Archaeopteryx, Coca Leaf, Little Women, The Fugue, Zs, house engineer/producer for Sacred Bones Records, oh yeah and involved in some band called Bloody Panda…) and Michael Berdan (various cooler bands KFJC doesn’t have) collaborate on paranoiac central nervous system attacks with a debt to classics like Suicide and Iugula Thor, and perhaps specifically to The Guilt Of…, the industrial project of EyeHateGod’s Mike Williams. This 2014 45RPM EP was their first release. One track per side.

Greenberg’s insistent drum machines, shuddering synth textures, and fuzzed-out guitar merge with Berdon’s frantic, hardcore-inspired vocal delivery. Insanity-inducing New York despair. The rent may have gone up but the drugs have gotten more expensive too!

Bone Awl – “Almost Dead Man” – [Klaxon Records]

Lord Gravestench   3/13/2019   12-inch, A Library

Active since 2002, KFJC live mic vets Bone Awl are definitely one of the best Black Metal groups to come out of California. The duo of He Who Crushes Teeth (briefly in Morbosidad) and He Who Gnashes Teeth (see my review of his solo project Amofas from our add last year) derive their names from possible English translations of Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr, the appellations of the goats who drive the chariot of my lord and master Odin. These guys create killer raw BM in the tradition of Ildjarn, adding a distinctive touch of broken-sounding D-Beat punk to the proceedings, not unlike Hellhammer.

This 2018 45RPM 12” is a reissue of a 2007 single-sided demo cassette. Klaxon Records, which released both versions, is run by one of the two Bone Awl dudes. Ultra-primitive, dirty, necro shit. Short songs except for A1 which is a repetitive but oddly hypnotic instrumental. B-side amps up the aggression somewhat. Fuck yeah is all else I have to say.

Limbs Bin – “Compassion and Vision” – [Fourth Dimension Records]

lexi glass   3/12/2019   A Library, CD

Raw, brutal “war jazz for the emotionally underdeveloped” (if you’re reading this, that’s you!) courtesy of Limbs Bin, the Western Mass.-based project of Josh Landes. Here, he’s joined by drummers Erik Brown and David Russell and Wyatt Howland (aka Skin Graft) on electronics. Two ~10 minute tracks recorded at a black site in Cleveland. Heavy darkness rings with a mechanical din and the vibrations of wires from electrodes applied to the skin. A cue – rapid clicks of drumsticks – signals the delivery of high-voltage shock. It hits in a blinding surge of skullbashing drums and howling screams, before dying out. The treatment repeats, over and over again, until everything is obliterated. What a glorious time to be free!

Social Stomach, The – “KY’TN” – [Self Release]

mickeyslim   3/6/2019   A Library, Cassette

These two (Diana Oropeza: Voice/Words and TJ Thompson: Drums/FX/Electronics) are my new favorite band. I had the pleasure to see them touring with Surfer Rosa’s project Sea Moss when they came through town. Diana lays down slick poetics, echoed and eerie, while TJ keeps the beat and layers in sounds. It is a raw admonishment to the world, the system, and everyone.

FCCs tracks: 1, 5

Ruiz, Cesar – “For Music Lovers” – [Phat n’ Phunky]

mickeyslim   3/6/2019   A Library, Cassette

This is the soundtrack to post-apocalyptic hipster utopia. This is a mustache on a motorcycle. The cowboy hat from Flagstaff, AZ. “For Music Lovers” is cool, fun, atmospheric pop, it gets stuck in your head like a loose screw. Cesar came through the Pit in 2016, maybe. Weird enough for the weirdos, accessible enough for everyone else. Music here for everyone, turn it up.

A: Pfeffer Kwitter – “Peller” – [Feeding Tube Records]

atavist   3/6/2019   12-inch, A Library

Recorded using instruments built/modified by the artists in a variety of spaces, including a 2-million gallon cistern with 45 seconds of natural reverb. The artists also integrate found sounds and field recordings from a cross-country road trip. Side A is comprised of one track, “Imp”, which starts with scratchy, trebly, trembling noisescapes, anxious, fretting, at times voluminous. As the track progresses, it transitions to quiet, almost contemplative spaces. Side B, comprised solely of “Prop”, seems to pick up where “Imp” left off, but adds new skittery electronics, noises, static, hisses. The feeling on this track is particularly quiet, eerie, and awash in echoes.

Cruel Diagonals – “Pulse of Indignation” – [Drawing Room]

mickeyslim   3/6/2019   A Library, Cassette

Cruel Diagonals is LA based vocalist Megan Mitchell. A field recordist by profession, Mitchell wrote and released this as a follow up to “Disambiguation,” which we just added to our library October 2018. While “Disambiguation was about sense-making and uncovering some of the traumas surrounding Mitchell’s early musical career as an adolescent and young adult, Pulse of Indignation is about recognizing the exploitation, grooming, and pain that she was subjected to as a young woman under the watchful eye of men with power in the music industry.”

Watery, whooshing drones; ambient, reverby vocals; and soft, subtle noise amalgamate into this wonderful collection of seemingly disjointed sounds. Comforting, and yet, unnerving. This album is already gaining some traction, so dig it before it’s too late.

Praying – “Bastard Gas” – [Self Release]

mickeyslim   3/6/2019   A Library, Cassette

Oakland based project. 7 tracks of what the band calls experimental doom. It doesn’t quite feel like metal to me, though. It’s noisier, raunchier, and more in yo’ face. There are definitely metal elements, and a punk/noise ideology.

Track 1 is a cover of an excerpt of a Thou song called “Monstrance.” Cy Thoth would approve.

Two bowls!

Consolat – “II” – [Madriguera]

mickeyslim   3/6/2019   A Library, Cassette

I can’t seem to find much out about this project. What I can tell you is that this is their second of only two releases (according to Discogs), both on the Madriguera label, and that Consolat is from Puerto Rico. Their first album, “S/T”, is the first release on the label, so I imagine there is a close connection between them.

What we have is four tracks of transcendental electronic noise. Sometimes lead by a beat, other times searching for something just beyond reach. It squibbles and squabbles, creaks and crunches, blasts and booms. “This release furthers the machinic faults, exhaustive rhythms, and accident-prone craftsmanship that comprised its debut tape. A personal, coarse, and rudimentary account on the island’s political landscape.”

Drop it.

Cold Beat – “A Simple Reflection” – [Dark Entries]

Phil Phactor   3/6/2019   12-inch, A Library

Yep, it’s another synth-pop album from Dark Entries. This time it’s HANNAH LEW (ex-Grass Widow) and her band Cold Beat doing an album of EURYTHMICS covers, and–let me tell you–it’s a real stunner that gets deeper with every listen. Lew’s vocals are at the core here, pitch-perfect, exquisitely phrased, and–of course–drenched in reverb and wrapped up in a cocoon of lush synths. You can safely drop the needle anywhere, but some highlights include She’s Invisible Now (A3), which hints at that Widow feel with its slightly warped synths, cold vocals, and motorik beat. Guitars come to the fore on Never Gonna Cry Again (B2), a nifty little minor-key groover that could almost sneak into a late 70s classic rock album. And if it’s that 80s synth(-etic) bliss you’re after, check out Invisible Hands (B3). (P.S. – Plenty of Eurythmics in B Library… *ducks*)

Trepaneringsritualen – “Septentrional” – [Hanson Records]

Lord Gravestench   3/5/2019   A Library, Cassette

Trepaneringsritualen (which presumably means something to do with drilling a hole in one’s head) is Tomas Ekelund from Sweden. Since 2008 Ekelund has prolifically practised his highly theatrical (or ritual, if you prefer) school of traditional Swedish death industrial. Despite his intense image, he spent the decade previous to founding TxRxPx in the highly emotive (but, as he would hasten to point out, equally gloom-ridden) dark ambient project Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words. It is interesting that Ekelund’s body of work inverts the traditional industrial musician’s paradigm of going from ‘confrontational and ugly’ early on to ‘contemplative and pretty’ later in the career (see Genesis P-Orridge, Michael Gira, etc.)— this is heavy and not at all friendly stuff.

This 2010 cassette on Aaron Dilloway’s Hanson Records captures the raw early stages of the project. Heavily inspired by fellow Swedes Brighter Death Now and Nordvargr (and others on the Cold Meat Industry label), this is pulsing, sinister industrial noise with overtones of dark Norse spirituality (‘Septentrional’ means ‘Of the North’). There is a repetitive and simplistic approach to these tracks, but with an artfully organic presence that evokes a bleak environment of cursed machines rather than an impression of mere lazy looping and layering. There are three tracks on each side. A1 and B3 are creepers with unhealthy-sounding and unintelligible vocals. A2 and B2 are exemplary rhythmic noise pieces in the vein of early Genocide Organ. B1 is a more minimal dirge stalker with frightening serpent-speech somewhere between black metal and Bob from Twin Peaks. A3 is a spacier piece with a muted sample that may be Aleister Crowley. All tracks are good, so take the black pill, don your exit bag, and turn it up.

Anti-Ear – “John Stamos” – [Planetary Magnetics Cooperation]

lexi glass   3/5/2019   A Library, Cassette

Anti-Ear is the appendage of noisician Tyler Harwood, formerly local but recently relocated to New Orleans. This 2018 cassette, released by Harwood’s NOLA-based music/graphic design imprint Planetary Magnetics Corporation, holds a 20-minute noise trip on each side. These aren’t complex collages that crush you with detail and density. Side A feels more like a comic strip, full of bold, broad strokes, graphic dots, and sudden zingers, like the oscillating electronics that warble until they succeed in shattering glass. Side B is still stark but more dark, with oozing synths, heavy pulses, and the quiet growls of Uncle Jesse on a meth binge, breathing down your neck. Have mercy!

Circuit Wound – “Symbiotic Cannibalism” -[Oxen]

Lord Gravestench   3/4/2019   A Library, Cassette

Circuit Wound is the solo noise project of LA’s Jay Howard, who also records as part of the groups Bacteria Cult and Wire Werewolves, and with Bob Bellerue in a duo called Redwound. Howard has been causing headaches with Circuit Wound since at least 2001.

I think he is one of the more reliable LA harsh noisers, because his pieces tend to be very dynamic, i.e. they very much retain the impression of whatever constant effects manipulation was necessary to keep the sonic fracas flying. 

On his 2018 effort for Oxen, this peddle-torquing Torquemada gives no quarter; the Angeleno sonic torture progresses from side A to side B leaving only skidmarks and tangled ruins. There are many layers of excellently recorded chaos to explore and it definitely doesn’t sound anything like radio static or any of the other tropes employed by harsh noise detractors. I’m not going to sugar-coat this: it sounds like R2-D2 being tortured at a Disney black site. The A side starts off a little more slowly and the B side gets right to it. Ten minutes each. Enjoy.

Unaussprechlichen Kulten -“Sign The Book of Death” -[Apocalyptic Productions]

Lord Gravestench   3/4/2019   A Library, CD

Unaussprechlichen Kulten were one of the sickest bands featured on KFJC’s live broadcast of Nuclear War Now! and Iron Bonehead’s Never Surrender Festival in Berlin last year. The name of the Chilean death metal group is German for ‘Unspeakable Cults,’ and also happens to be the title of a fictional black magic text featured in the works of both Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. U.K. refer to their music as ‘occult death metal’ and it appears to be heavily inspired by Lovecraft’s mythos.

This 2018 CD compilation from a Chilean label contains a limited selection of tracks from U.K.’s 4th album ‘Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X)’ (2017) (t.s 1-3), their 3rd album ‘Baphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath’ (2014) (t.s 4-6), their 2013 EP ‘Lucifer Poseiden Cthulhu’ (t.s 7-8; frustratingly, the compilation leaves off only one song from this) and their 2012 split with the American band After Death (t.s 9+10). The remaining 8 tracks are live material; for most of the live songs a studio version can be found earlier on the CD, although not t.s 14-17.

This is monstrously heavy death metal, akin to a thick black smoke clogging your accursed speakers. Fire follows smoke in touches of strong melody wrought by the dual guitar interplay of ‘Herbert West’ and ‘Joseph Curwen,’ but always with a demented, demon-summoning twist. Many songs begin by grooving around a deceptively simple phrase before revealing the fuller tentacled complexity of their nameless horrors. The grindcore-inspired drumming and Curwen’s deranged Spanish death-gurgles round out this insanely suspenseful take on death metal. U.K.’s gloom-ridden riffs and unforgiving song structure, owing something to both Immolation and Autopsy, make for a style that goes well with Nuclear War Now!’s roster of sulphur-seared diabolical DM artists (e.g. Ignivomous or Dead Congregation)— although these guys have been playing this style for 20 years, which is quite impressive. All Hail true Chilean death metal.

Dynatron – "Aeternus" – [Blood Music]

humana   3/3/2019   A Library, CD

Jeppe Hasseriis is the composer and producer of this ultimate trip of an album (yes, Sal9000, this one’s for you!). Aptly referred to as darksynth, outer-spacey electro ambience, this release is perfect for creating a Dr. Who type of mood. “Escape” (track 6) is my go-to, but almost any of these will do the trick.

Wayfaring Strangers: Ladies From The Canyon [coll] – [Numero Group]

humana   3/3/2019   A Library, CD

This is a treasure trove of folk rock inspired by Joni Mitchell’s 1970 album “Ladies of the Canyon,” so of course I love it. These ladies celebrated the rebirth of folk rock and hail from the canyons of California. Some have religious overtones because they were sung at church picnics; the first features a gorgeous voice of a 19-year-old and lasts for less than a minute; another (track 4) comes from singer who went on to perform in Disney films such as “Pocahontas”; all of them are unique tributes to a genre that will not be forgotten thanks to the researchers who curated this compilation. Great liner notes, too.

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