KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Van-anh Vanessa Vo – “Three-Mountain Pass” – [Innova Recordings]

Cousin Mary   5/9/2022   A Library, CD

Vo is a Vietnamese-American from the Bay Area who is a composer and multi-instrumentalist, specializing in instruments related to traditional Vietnamese music. This album is a treat, giving us a chance to hear such things as the đàn tranh (16-string zither) and the bamboo xylophone T’rung. Selections include Vo’s compositions, a familiar piece by Erik Satie played in an unfamiliar way, and track 4 where she plays with the ever inventive Kronos Quartet. Really lovely and listenable, highly recommended.

Carney, Jeff – “Live Electronic Music” – [Lion Productions]

cinder   5/5/2022   12-inch, A Library

Recorded live in 1989 without any overdubs. Long, ambient slow knob turning and sound shifting electronics. Very much in the vein of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis & Klaus Shulze. Extended notes that intertwine and weave through like stars in light speed. Slithering synths. Sci-Fi soundtracks of the past. Mastered for vinyl by Krautrock musician and sound engineer Eroc.

Kristoff K.Roll and Espitallier, Jean-Michel – “World Is A Blues” – [Mazeto Square]

SlartiBartfast   5/3/2022   A Library, CD

World Is A Blues

“World Is A Blues” is a musical poetic journey into the lives of refugees held in the Calais internment camps put out on Mazeto-Square. This double CD musical journey is guided by Kristoff K. Roll, the French musical duo of Carole Rieussec and J-Kristoff Camps, and poet Jean-Michel Espitallier. The music here ranges between, spoken word, dance, experimental, field recordings, post psyche rock?….As much a work of poetry as it is an experimental performative experience, this beautifully packaged release lives up to the idea behind the emotionally poetic music at it’s core. Featuring multiple guest artists, “World Is A Blues” elegantly coveys the power of the collective human spirit to overcome trauma through creative expression. This release is not to miss. A 100 page poetic musical eulogy that will lead you to a side road to escape the madness, or an avenue to entrer dans la folie…

Schwob, Danielle Eva – “Out of The Tunnel” – [Innova/American Composers]

Cousin Mary   5/2/2022   A Library, CD

Danielle Schwob is the composer, arranger and recording producer for this wonderful set of music. The ensembles vary – a string quartet, trios, duo, and solos. Very lovely sounds, good energy. I think some pieces were used for dance. Remarkable compositions played by virtuoso musicians. A new (to me) modern classical composer to watch.

PGM – Instrumentation noted on back of CD

De Gennaro, Matthew – “Chuang Tzu Motherfucker” – [Soft Abuse]

karma   5/1/2022   12-inch, A Library

Matthew De Gennaro creates mostly instrumental pieces that are complimented by ambient noise. This album, released in 2013, is no exception. On first listen, this is a light, classically inspired album full of major chords and deep symbolism. A few sprinkles of dissonance (what is a B-flat doing in my A major Shangaan Dance?) hint at the deep nature of this album.

This is probably not news to the erudite readers of the KFJC blog, but Chuang Tzu is a major Chinese philosophical work, and (or?) the philosopher who may or may not have created the work. The Chuang Tzu is full of parables, analogies, and stories that illustrate the formal logic, first principles, and teachings of Taoism. The work, similar to this album, is deceptively simple and hides deep, multilayered meaning.

The first track references a parable in the Chuang Tzu (work), where Chuang Tzu (philosopher) dreams he is a butterfly. In the dream, he was so sure that he was a butterfly, but then he woke up and realized he was Chuang Tzu dreaming he was a butterfly. Or is a butterfly dreaming it is Chuang Tzu? As the track starts, the violin feels like a butterfly floating from flower to flower. The harmonics and the drawn out lower (G) string add to the dreamlike, ephemeral qualities of the song. The high pitched violin towards the end and the pauses at the end of each musical phrase make you question: are you the dreamer or the dream?

Pip Proud was a singer-songwriter who seems to be part of the 1960s Australian counterculture, which I am now realizing had to have been a thing. Listening to Pip, I get Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd vibes with a decidedly Australian twist. Pip clearly touched De Gennaro, as the second track starts with upbeat, major guitar chords that grace your ear in the same way that your favorite drink envelops your taste buds. The spoken word part of this song seems to have been recorded in a particularly echoey high-school gymnasium. Other tracks that are tributes includes “Bells for Mompou” (with the chord sequences invented by Catalan composer Federico Mompou) and “Shangaan Dance” (a slowed down version of African dance music).

“Alley Violinist” references a poem by Robert Lax, also described as deceptively simple. The main theme of the poem is the question of whether one should sacrifice personal comfort for others’ happiness. The pausing, sometimes grating violin shows how De Gennaro grapples with finding an answer.

The next few tracks seem to take a break from the parables, but track 6 references the book of Amos in the Bible. Just as one can use a weighted string to determine if a building is level, one can also use their moral compass to stay on the straight and narrow. The low bass viol (I too thought it was a cello) symbolizes the introspection and grounded thinking that is needed when comparing your actions to your plumb line.

I expected to like this album, but not to love it this much. Like the Chuang Tzu, I will be coming back to this album many times to see what new meanings I can glean.

Permanenet Clear Light – “Cosmic Comics” – [Sulatron Records]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   A Library, CD

Permanent Clear Light is often referred to as Finland’s top psychedelic group. Permanent Clear Light released their debut album, Beyond These Things, in 2014 to critical acclaim. Although Permanent Clear Light’s musical roots lie in 60’s psychedelia their sound is strictly contemporary. The trio considers the recording studio their main instrument and their sound is characterized by multi-layered instrumental work and strong melodic vocals. After a creative break, Permanent Clear Light has released its second album, Cosmic Comics, which shows that the band has travelled a long way through the spheres since their debut.

Liquid Sound Comapany – “Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul” – [Liquid Sound Records]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   A Library, CD

Liquid Sound Company is from Arlington, Texas. Formed in 1996 by Solitude Aeturnus guitarist John Perez and Last Chapter drummer Jason Spradlin. The goal: create mind expanding psychedelic sounds for the head! With the nucleus of the band being John Perez & Jason Spradlin the band also includes current members Alan Wise, Mark Cook, and Ron McCain. With a new album in 2021 and live trips in the works, Liquid Sound Company is ready to fly!  Get out your lava lamp and light up the skies, with eastern nods, guitar freak outs and spacey chill out vibes.

Gnod – “La Mort du Sens” – [Rocket Recordings]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   A Library, CD

Gnod are a British rock band from Salford, Greater Manchester, England. Formed in 2006, the band was described in a review of its 2011 release Ingnodwetrust as “a collective from Manchester with an ever-rotating list of members. La Mort Du Sens translates to “The Death Of Meaning” and also reflects its creation. As Paddy Shine of Gnod notes: “I think the title sums it up well because this album was coming together at a time when confusion was king for us all – still is. I think we can all relate to that. This record is a really strange beast because of the big change that happened between mixing and recording”. Started in 2019 the pandemic got in the way and ended up helping form the end product. Paddy continues: “I think the title really does sum up the vibe of ‘What the Fuck’? Maybe we should have called it that!”

Gerycz / Powers / Rolin – “Lamplighter” – [American Dreams Records]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

On Lamplighter, the trio of Cloud Nothings drummer Jayson Gerycz, hammered dulcimer player Jen Powers, and guitarist Matthew J. Rolin come together to whip up a storm of mostly improvised jams that roil with joyful abandon. The group weaves together roots music, free jazz, rock, and drone to create mesmerizing, largely acoustic music that captivates, dazzles, and imparts wonder. Lamplighter is lightning in a bottle – the trio is firing on all cylinders, confident in their skillset and interplay, which makes the improvisational nature of the compositions even more impressive. A little psychy and a lot meditative. Relax and enjoy.

White Manna – “First Welcome” – [Cardinal Fuzz]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

White Manna is a psychedelic/space rock band from California. Fueled by mystic forces hidden behind California’s Redwood Curtain, White Manna has been feeding heads a steady diet of transcendent jams for quite some time. White Manna’s longevity as one of the leaders of the modern psychedelic movement can be attributed to their willingness to introduce new elements to their sonic repertoire. Initially, these moves were subtle, but as the band has moved on through the years, these moves have become much more pronounced. So, here we are with First Welcome, an album that features warbled country leanings, airy blooms of ambience, and occasional hints of a German yesteryear, all implemented into the band’s signature hazy and spacey sound. First Welcome is the eighth full length album from this ever-evolving band. First Welcome is a product of the COVID era, with much of the recording happening in quarantine or while socially distanced. The band’s process relied on communicating via email and sending music files back and forth.

Wet Leg – “Wet Leg” – [Domino]

Sir Cumference   4/24/2022   A Library, CD

Wet Leg are Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, from the Isle of Wight. Last summer they released their first single – Chaise Longue – was a catchy ditty that had me wanting more. The songs deal with all the usual things that 20-somethings deal with: Love, sex, the futility of existence, and the disappointment of adulthood. The whole album is a joy to listen to, but if I had to pick a favorite moment it’s near the end of Ur Mum – you’ll hear what I mean (I don’t want to spoil the surprise) also, there’s a nod to Man Who Sold the World on I Don’t Wanna Go Out.

[COLL] Godspunk Volume Twenty-Three

karma   4/20/2022   A Library

Godspunk is a creation of Pumf records in Blackpool, England. Most of the artists on this 52-track album are from the UK, but there are a few from America and France. This is a delightful album that immerses you in its universe. It starts with a few outlandish tracks. The title track talks about how the Teletubbies never existed. A few songs later, Breathilizor spins a tale about “bean burrito toilet sludge miasma.” The album then features a few songs by UNIT that seem to feature right-wing talking points. Is it punk to watch Fox News? Poe’s Law got to me and I didn’t realize that they were satirizing conservatives by singing about their views in beautiful four-part harmony. 


There is a lot of instrumental music on this album. Much is with traditional instruments, but a lot of songs feature ambient noise such as birds, dogs, and doors. Most of the songs, especially the instrumentals by UNIT, are excellent. However, some of the songs seem to feature mainly distorted speaker feedback. “Memoir of a Horny Abortionist” is so unsettling that Ruth Bader Ginsburg would become pro-life. 


The second CD turns more introspective. The tracks explore issues such as anger, loneliness, and the meaning of life. However, these deep tracks are interspersed by weird instrumentals with titles like “Toxic Cock Syndrome” or a spoken word song about getting spanked by Tom Hanks. There is something on this album for everyone! 

Worm “Foreverglade” [20 Buck Spin]

atavist   4/19/2022   A Library, CD

Thankfully projects continue to till the decomposing detritus found at the intersection of death metal and funeral doom. Why not when more filth piles up every day? Transposing the clear chimes of echoing, chorus-y guitar with utterly filthy doom chugs and deranged squeals. Vox steeped in the rotting vapors of a Floridian swamp. The session drums, especially the double kick, are well-captured in the recording and properly assertive. The second track adds some churchy monk vocals and has an epic soaring riff, and lo, I detect keyboards. Seriously old-school solos that would have found a home in the late 80s. “Empire of the Necromancers” has grand, melodic passages, setting up “Subaqueous Funeral”, which, vokills aside, is so… pretty. Which is fine for this soft-hearted reviewer, if surprising and unsettling. Worm closes this out with a return to the doomed sounds, circling back to where it began, as the cycle of despair must be renewed endlessly.

Soyuz Bear “MMXV” [Zanjeer Zani Productions]

atavist   4/19/2022   A Library, Cassette

This limited edition cassette from 2015 captures a crusty slab of French doom from a project that has since disbanded. Side A has three more polished studio tracks, and side B has three rehearsal tracks engineered by the band. Side A checks the boxes for the bongrip soundtrack though the riffs aren’t super original. Side B, being a rehearsal, captures a little air and space and basically squashes the vocals in the mix. And though I usually don’t advocate for the live stuff, track 5 “GHB Uber Alles” might be the most vital track on the release. Where the studio stuff walks the path, the rehearsals capture a band imbibing and going for it, and it works in their favor. This is followed by the closer “In the Abyss”, with some groove-laden riffs to get stoned heads nodding in unison. Possible FCC in track 1; in this genre it can be hard to make them out, but steer this one into safe harbor.

Nyctalllz and Agdistiz – “Kozmik Noise” – [Syrphe]

Mister S   4/19/2022   A Library, CD

Dark ambient sounds derived from electronic processing in the vein of Zoviet France, SPK and F/i with a bit more of a rhythmic sense in the realm of Faust. Conjures mental images of grainy, anxiety inducing black and white films like Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse and Darren Aronovsky’s Pi. Do not listen during commute traffic. Great late night traffic free driving music or indulging on 4/20.

“Nyctalllz is a noise, experimental and dark ambient music project formed in 2007 by Morego Dimmer (aka Xerxes The Dark/ Morego) in Tehran, Iran. Agdistiz is a noise and experimental music project from Romania. Both artists exchanged audio files through the internet, Kozmik Noize was born.”

Qrixkuor “Poison Palinopsia” [Dark Descent Records]

atavist   4/18/2022   A Library, CD

From an upwelling of cinematic horror emerges a relentless armada poised to break the mountain with a downstroke of contempt. Ridiculously complicated, monstrous track lengths—both clocking in over 24 min. Doom riffs and filth setting up a blastbeat passage that happens until, well, another complicated thing is happening. There is no wavering in their intent—Qrixkuor are in a feverish madness stringing this together. Halfway through the first track, “Serpertine Susurrus – Mothers Abomination”, the cinematic horror intro returns and resets the chess board. A new build, seemingly more resigned, or perhaps just steeled for what’s to come. When the onslaught returns, it hews to a narrower line. Careening guitar solos round out the proceedings. The wildest, proggiest blastbeat section closes the track in hyperventilating abandon. One heretical opinion, a sneaky DJ could opt to play the first half of the track or the second half, treating them as parts one/two and fading in/out on the orchestral middle section (I myself am inclined to stretch the break clock just enough to play the monstrosity in its entirety). In “Recrudescent Malevolence – Mother’s Illumination” we have reached a desolate promontory, we can see a vast reek stretching below us. A film reel of horror. Guitars moan in agony. The barrage commences. After a nearly seven-minute slow build, things are coalescing a bit, but the approach remains more restrained than the previous track. For those who crave speed, this track doesn’t fully launch until about ten minutes in. Corpse vocals wreathed in echoes, maelstrom of drums. And similar to the previous track, disconcerting horror movie music thrown into the middle of the track, setting up the second half. Like both tracks on the album needed an intermission, so heavily laden are they. Bombastic, perhaps, but it’s interesting to hear death metal obsession magnified to this almost unbearable level.

Years – “Rats” – [Self-release]

Max Level   4/17/2022   12-inch, A Library

Noisy rock out of Oakland, with bluesy, folky, and country touches. Singer-songwriter Kyle Ranson fronts an honest-sounding, solid-but-not-overly-polished band that gets the point across. Slide guitar all over the place. Some harmonica. Reminds me of American Music Club but friendlier. Songs are around 2 to 4 minutes in length. Totally enjoyable.

Nihil Communication – “Live: The Lab In San Francisco 12 Nov 2011” – [Danvers State Recordings]

Max Level   4/17/2022   A Library, Cassette

One 22-minute track of atmospheric sound-noise-scape. For this live 2011 performance, Andre Custodio’s solo project Nihil Communication expanded into a quartet lineup including members of other projects such as Conure, Sutekh Hexen, and Neurosis. I hear laptops, microphones, and instruments such as flute and guitar in the mix. The dynamics vary from medium quiet to medium noisy. Nothing harsh or scary, though—just intriguing caverns of sound created by people who know how to do this stuff.

Beyond Captain Orca! – “Live 2018” – [Self Release]

Jay Omega   4/17/2022   A Library, CD

Beyond Captain Orca! are a purely improvisational band out of Seattle featuring the psychedelic guitar work of Jack Endino. The tracks ebb and flow as the musicians play off of each other on their meandering journeys. When one idea is played out, a new idea quickly emerges. There are three tracks on this release spanning two live performances. The third track also features Ganjas’ guitarist, Pablo Giadach, from Chile. At roughly 10, 20 and 30 minutes, there is a track length to fit your needs.

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