KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Vassalotti, David – "Guitar Dream" – [Wharf Cat Records]

humana   2/10/2019   A Library, CD

Some of these songs written and performed by Vassalotti are down-tempo and ballad-like, while others are more upbeat. Throughout, Vassalotti’s guitar weaves his stories together while his echoey voice delivers the lyrics. My favorite track is “The Other Light.” The lyrics are thoughtfully included inside the CD cover, so pull out your magnifying glass and contemplate what this musician is communicating to you.

Howl In The Typewriter – Manifesto – [Pumf Records]

mickeyslim   2/6/2019   A Library, CD

This is a 64-minute long mindfuck shitshow by Godspink Collection veterans. Apparently they’ve been making music since the 80s, but nothing has passed through KFJC. This is a total antiestablishment, anti-capitalist, anti-advertising manifesto. Elements of punk, noise, soul, electronic music, and much much more.

“We don’t fucking want what your trying to fucking sell, shove it up your fucking arse, then fuck off and go to hell.”

Bloom Offering – “Episodes” – [Helen Scarsdale Agency]

lexi glass   2/5/2019   12-inch, A Library

A darkwave feminist revenge fantasy unfolds on this first full-length LP from Bloom Offering, the project of Seattle-based electronic artist Nicole Carr. Cold synths and calculating beats set the scene for Carr’s deadened vocal delivery, seething with equal parts rage and hopelessness. Out of all the tracks, I fell for the album’s “hit,” the defiant “venus shrugged” (T4), but was also drawn to the twisted samples of advice on how to catch and keep a man on “imperfect absence” (T7), the dismal dance beats on “swallow me whole” (T1), and the heartsick arithmetic of “simple math” (T6). Released by Jim Haynes’ label Helen Scarsdale Agency.

D.J. Sparr – Electric Bands – [Innova/American Composers]

Naysayer   2/5/2019   A Library, CD

D.J. Sparr is an American contemporary composer from Lubbock, Texas. “Electric Bands” is selection of four of his works that showcases his unique style full of rich sound that must be influenced by Charles Ives. “I Can Hear Her…” is a five part song cycle wtih Sparr on his electric guitar and the stunning soprano, Kristina Bachrach, singing the poetry of Patrick Phillips. “Meta444” uses Sparr’s guitar work along with percussive instruments, acoustic violin and piano to create a rich mood piece and study of the interplay of these instruments. “String Quarter: Avaloch” is Sparr’s string quartet ,the Momenta Quartet, performing a piece created at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute. It includes the performers triggering pre-recorded music on their own personal phones. The five parts of “Earthcaster Suite” include guitars, Hammond organ, viola, double bass, mandolin and banjo. This is all a new vision of contemporary classical music, pushing into new territory while holding on to familiar styles. Intriguing, stunning and so beautiful. Such a hopeful work.

Maioli, Walter / Gales, Fred / Piccinelli, Pit – Amazonia 6891- [Black Sweat Records]

Louie Caliente   2/4/2019   A Library, CD

Semi-synthetic fantasy field recordings from the heart of the Amazonian rain-forest. Accurate, intricate, and immersive.

Recordings of real Amazonian animals and artifacts mix with electronics, drums, and reeds — all faithfully mimicking a dense jungle. Birds chirp, cackle, and caw. Insects hummm. Rain drops puddle and splash. Distant tribes sing and dance, engaged in a mysterious ritual.

Amazonia 6891 was recorded in 1985, after Italian artist and composer Walter Maioli crossed paths with ethnographer Pit Piccinelli and his collection of South American artifacts. Maioli recorded their sounds and later shared them with anthropologist and electronic musician Fred Gales. The two musicians performed a 30-minute live mix of jungle and electronic sounds, a work that was then released on cassette via Sound Reporters records. This new 2016 CD edition is from Italy’s Black Sweat label.

Track 1 is the main event: a 30-minute visceral Amazonian jungle experience. Overwhelming growth. Overwhelming fornication.

Track 2 contains all the raw recordings that were used as material for the first piece. A listing of the exact sounds and their sources can be found inside. Although it is less “composed” than Track 1, it still manages to flow nicely, and is a compelling and interesting listen the whole way through.

Krakauer, Live In Krakow Indigo Label Bleu

Naysayer   2/3/2019   A Library, CD

David Krakauer is a master of the clarinet and is influential in bringing klezmer music to modern audiences. His approach is to recreate the sound with new musical styles so as to make klezmer something organic and ever changing, not just stuck in a historic past. Associated with the Klezmatics and John Zorn, Krakauer got his experience in many right places. This live recording in Krakow features a paired down version of his group Klezmer Madness! including accordion, bass, drums and guitar (check out the wah wah!) plus the Canadian DJ Socalled who adds his turntable stylings with an excellent array of samples. Socalled really mixes the sound, giving it a new level of excitement and surprise. “Turntable Pounding” is this excellent track of male chorus and female singing samples mixed with the exceptional drum pounding out the beats. Krakauer’s clarinet skills float in, over and around the mix of sounds, leaving the listener breathless. His skill is heard on each track. This is one of those rare fusion type albums which actually sounds better than the individual parts. This is definitely a new sound. Trying to figure out how to categorize it – international, jazz, country, folk – better demonstrates its uniqueness. Just enjoy.

Rita Mitsouko; Rita Mitsouko Virgin Records

Naysayer   2/3/2019   A Library, CD

First off: Rita Mitsouko ARE great, so back off. Second, Rita Mitsouko is not the name of the artist, it’s the name of the duo who are Catherine Ringer (singer) and Fred Chichin (guitarist), so those KFJC reviews from the past who list it as Mitsouko, Rita….sorry, not so. This confusion was international which led Catherine and Fred to switch their group name to Les Rita Mitsouko to hopefully stave off confusion. This album, “Rita Mitsouko” was Rita Mitsouko’s first full recordings. Hailing from the underground factory club scene of Paris, Rita hit it with their perfect blend of punk, altenative pop (when that was a good thing), French chanson and dance power, mixed with their sense of fashion and fashionista references. Their style is this infectious alter pop. None of my normal friends could ever get it but the cool folk, the clubsters, the punks…they would loose it when this stuff hit the sound system. “Marcia Baila” was the dance hit, an homage to Argentine choreographer Marcia Moreto, who Ringer studied with. There is also a song about Oum Khalsoum, the amazing internationally renowned Egyptian singer. The style is like Stereo Total and Sparks (whom they played with). Ringer’s vocals are this crazy warble from low to high registers, affected in a good way that growls and coos along to the beat. She sometimes sings around the beat, making for interesting interpretations. Chichin keeps his guitar steady with this great New Wave punk sound that has a bit of sarcasm in it, making it that much more enjoyable. The synth beats add to the frenzy. It’s pure pop snobbery and charm that still holds up. Club kids will party.

Wai Fat, Chan – Foo Cup Kwan Nan (Hardly Breathing) – [Fatsound]

Louie Caliente   1/29/2019   A Library, CD

Chan Wai Fat is a self-taught musician and composer from Hong Kong. He’s been active since the late 80s, playing in a number of noise-rock bands before later focusing on totally free improvisation. He is the founder of CIMG (Collective Improvisational Music Group), and has performed with John Zorn, Yamatsuka Eye, Fred Frith, and many others.

Foo Cup Kwan Nan (Hardly Breathing) is Wai Fat’s debut solo recording, released in 1996. Here he plays a variety of stringed instruments, including prepared guitar, Hawaiian steel guitar, octavilla (a 14-string Spanish instrument), and a damaged cello. All tracks are completely improvised and recorded direct to DAT, with “no overdub, remix, synthesizers, or pre-recorded samples.”

The center-piece of the album is the “12 Pieces for Prepared Acoustic Guitar” (T5-T16) which feature beautifully sparse and delicate guitar strumming and tinkering, as well as a few more “accidental” sounds. Wai Fat evokes similar peaceful moods with his pentatonic plucking on the Hawaiian steel guitar (T2) as well as on the octavilla (T20). There are some nice drones here as well — “Miles Away” (T3) is probably my favorite on the whole album. The final (listed) track “Songbird: Variation on a Theme by Kenny G” (T21) features the most energetic — often frenetic — noodling (again on the octavilla) with no discernible sign of Kenny G.

DJs TAKE NOTE:
1) The first track ends with the sounds of a skipping CD player. Do not panic, the CD is fine. I actually really recommend this one.
2) The final track (T22) is not listed in the liner notes, and is almost completely SILENT, except for the sound of the tape recorder, very distant birds, and an occasional footstep.

Liebman, Dave / Nakatani, Tatsuya / Rudolph, Adam – Unknowable, The – [Rare Noise Records]

lexi glass   1/29/2019   A Library, CD

Three generations of improvisors come together to forge “beautiful alchemy,” and the gold is captured on this 2018 studio recording from London’s Rare Noise. Dave Liebman is a jazz saxophonist who was mentored by Elvin Jones and Miles Davis in NYC in the 70s before going on to perform in many other groups, including his own ensemble. Adam Rudolph is a prolific percussionist (see his collaborations with Yusef Lateef and the group Hu Vibrational), specializing in jazz and African drumming styles. Tatsuya Nakatani, another percussion wizard, tours like crazy across the US, performing solo, with collaborators, and with his own Nakatani Gong Orchestra.

The Unknowable showcases each of the artists’ strengths over 13 concise tracks. Rudolph’s lively hand drumming lends a natural, organic quality, while Liebman’s warm saxophone and flute melodies match the others’ quick rhythms, or lengthen in broad tones to add contrast. Nakatani’s textures – metallic, electronic, dark, untamed – make the more traditional elements feel modern. Some pieces find the artists experimenting with unusual instrumentation – Liebman plays the Fender Rhodes on “Iconograph” (T10), and transforms his saxophone with spectral electronic effects on the title track (T4), and Rudolph plucks the keys of a thumb piano on the peaceful “Distant Twilight” (T9). This is challenging – but never difficult – material, and altogether a genre-less, generous, and enjoyable album.


Klangwelt Station – Music Exhibition, The – [Listermusic]

Phil Phactor   1/27/2019   A Library, CD

Klangwelt (World of Sound) Station is a European trio composed of Meinrad Kneer on double bass, Dick Toering on guitars, and Johanna Varner on cello. While this is their first outing as a trio, Toering and Varner have collaborated previously, developing what they call “a new approach in improvising, based on classical and minimal music, and world music.” This disc is a set of 13 fully-improvised tracks, most of which clock in at 3-5 minutes. The variety of plucked and bowed strings on offer can fuse together to become one long string (à la Ellen Fullman) or fracture into something resembling a Bartók folk dance. The acoustics of the Church of Oostum in the Netherlands, where this was recorded, bathe everything in a beautiful resonance. Unique and very special stuff. Bassist Kneer also runs the Evil Rabbit record label.

Tender Age – “Becoming Real Forever” – [Sinis Records]

mickeyslim   1/23/2019   A Library, CD

Tender Age is Tauna Leonardo (Guitar/Vocals), Bryan Robertson (Bass), Elaina Tardif (Guitar/Vocals), Christopher Klarer (Guitar), and Olives (Drums). Recorded on a 16 track tape machine in a cabin on the Oregon coast in the summer of 2017.

Is it just me, or has music since 2016 gotten a little more somber? Probably just me… Tender Age plays somber, atmospheric, slo-fi pop. A space-aged teenage wasteland wet dream explosion. Angsty fuzzed out waves in a warehouse. Two black birds’ feathers rustling. A perfect cozy blanket of sound.

Mimmo, Gianni / Corda, Silvia / Orru, Adriano – “Clairvoyance” – [Amirani Records/Amirani Contemporary]

mickeyslim   1/23/2019   A Library, CD

“To be clairvoyant is to claim to see beyond the apparent, to intuit something over and above the brute facts given to ordinary senses.”

Here Gianni Mimmo (soprano sax), Silvia Corda (piano), and Adriano Orru (double bass) take improvisations to new heights. Abstract jazzic meanderings, floating among cosmos drawn tight by invisible strings, absconding to depths unseen. Bright-sounding dark tones. Recorded in Orru’s hometown of Cagliari, Sardinia.

Monti, Maria – “Il Bestiario” – [Unseen Worlds]

lexi glass   1/23/2019   12-inch, A Library


Italian singer and actress Maria Monti began her career singing traditional ballads in the cabarets of Milan in the 50s, and later appeared in several popular films in the 60s. But in the 70s, her musical work veered off into strange new directions that are on full display on this lost 1974 record, a jewel unearthed and reiussed in 2012 by Unseen Worlds. On these ten tracks, arranged by avant-garde composer Alvin Curran, Monti brings to life the lyrics penned by poet Aldo Braibanti, accompanied by Curran’s synths and Steve Lacy’s free jazz saxophone. Il Bestiario has as many wildly varied styles as creatures in a zoo, from the intimate jazz of “Dove” (T2), the rollicking chanson “No no no no” (T3), the smoldering piano ballad “Il Serpente Innamorato,” the wistful folk and birdsong of “L’Uomo” (T6), and the midwinter’s meditation “Il Letargo” (T9), but all are connected by Braibanti’s lyrics that evoke surreal images of animals. The one exception to this theme is the album’s finale, an expressive, borderline-New Age reflection on the four elements, “Aria Terra Acqua e Fuoco” (T10). Like the recently reissued albums of Brigitte Fontaine and Lena Platanos, this is another instance of work from an adventurous female artist finally getting the wide release it deserves.

Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock / The Beast People [coll] – [Spite]

Louie Caliente   1/23/2019   12-inch, A Library

Split 12″ released in 2005, but featuring early works from both artists recorded a decade earlier.

Runzelstirn & Gurgelstøck is Rudolph Eb.er, Swiss experimentalist now living in Osaka, and founder of Schimpfluch-Gruppe.

Holy hell! Demonic moans and primal screams. Repeated punches to the face. Emergency whistles. Long periods of silence that only increase the tension before the sheer terror and panic kicks back in. Will leave you nauseated and sweaty.

The Beast People are old-school Michigan noise-makers Aaron Dilloway (Wolf Eyes, Universal Indians, Hanson Records…), Twig Harper (Nautical Almanac), and Nate Young (Wolf Eyes, Moon Pool & Dead Ban, Stare Case…). Their side of this split contains a series of pieces pulled from early (unreleased?) tapes.

Sputtering machinery. Groans and grunts. Warbling tape noise. Leaky valves. Glottal and esophageal scribblings. Abstract and disorienting.

 

Fossil Aerosol Mining Project – “Recounting of Night Time, The” – [Afterdays Media]

atavist   1/23/2019   A Library, CD

This is the fourth Fossil Aerosol Mining Project album to be added to the KFJC library. This installment picks up where their previous releases left off—beautiful, haunting collages of ambient sound with an edge of unease, and capable of carrying gauzy narratives. It’s not beauty for beauty’s sake—these are transmissions from the future, reporting on the impending decay of our civilization’s artifacts. Active since the 80s, FAMP uses found audio and field recordings run through processors and a mixing board. The results are like memories nearly recovered but then lost, thoughts drifting like sand across an empty plain, faded sunlight and dust on long-vacated structures.

Broken Bells Vs 伝助 (Den-Suke) – “Broken Bells Breaks Vol. 1” – [Shi-Ra-Nui]

Louie Caliente   1/22/2019   A Library, CD

Jazzy downtempo hip-hop beats and from Japan. Heavy (upright) bass licks, scribbly-scratchy turntables, out-of-place found sounds, and open-faced piano tinkering.

Some of the tracks bust out the beats pretty early on (T3, T5, T10, T11), others patiently allow the beat to arise out of thick abstract musique-concret murkiness (T1, T4, T6), but when it hits, man does it hit. The remaining tracks will absorb you so deep in the electro-orchestral opium soup that you won’t even care that there is no beat (T2, T7, T8, T9).

There’s not a lot of info out there about this release, at least not in English. From what I gather, this is a collaboration between two DJs: Broken Bells Beats (sometimes credited as B.B.B.) and Den-Suke. No idea who B.B.B. is (maybe a reader can help fill in the details). Den-Suke is Keiji Yamabe, owner of Tokyo’s ¿Los Apson? record store. This was released on the Shi-Ra-Nui, active since 1996, but completely unrepresented in the KFJC library (until today).

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