KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Dreadnought “The Endless” [Profound Lore]

atavist   9/27/2022   A Library, CD

This Denver-based project has been honing their craft in relative obscurity for some years now. “The Endless” marks their fifth full-length release, and this second release on Profound Lore may create a larger audience for their ambitious blend of progressive structures and metal-inflected textures. Dreadnought partakes in contrasts: clean, melodic vocal harmonies versus rending cries that pierce the night, massive overdriven guitar and bass mixed with clarion keys and drums. Their fusion of seemingly disparate musical influences challenges new listeners. The musicianship and musicality is there. With this release they’re keeping the song structures a bit more succinct—earlier releases feature longer, sprawling tracks that I happen to enjoy, but I suspect these shorter tracks provide an easier introduction to the Dreadnought sound, an exploration of far-off lands discovered in dusty books, assailed by dark forces, with hope shuddering in the cold winds of time. Queue up a track and let the story unfold.

More Klementines – “Who Remembers Light”

carsonstreet   9/27/2022   12-inch, A Library

This Connecticut band plays extended jams that harken back to the gritty space rock sound of Guru Guru. Made up of Jon Schlesinger on guitar, lap steel and vocals, Steubs on mandolin, second guitar and bass and Michael Kiefer on drums, this group seems to improvise based more on atmosphere and vibes than anything else. They lock into a stoically cosmic mood and let it guide them into the stars. With howling guitar solos soaked in rippling, nightmarish effects, walls of fuzzy, crumbling distortion and slippery passages of ambient space, this record fits in well with the work of fellow astral travelers like The Cosmic Dead, Eternal Tapestry and Expo ’70. The one track with vocals, “Key of Caesar,” might at first appear to be a bit of a departure from the rest of the record. However, its pulsing layers of neon guitar and blurred harmonies coupled with its entrancing grooves keeps the tune in the same dreamy headspace as the rest of the record. Not in your face loud -just driving forward unrelentingly.

Manic Hispanic – “Back in Brown” – [Smelvis Records]

beastofbourbon   9/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

Vatos Locos Por Vida – RIP “Jefe” y “Hoakie”

Manic Hispanic is a Southern California based punk supergroup founded in 1992 by Mike “Gabby” Gaborno of rockabilly/punk band Cadillac Tramps and Steve Soto of Agent Orange and Adolescents. Lifting their name from a 90s hair dye (Manic Panic) and recruiting other Mexican American members of established punk bands they began writing parody and satirical lyrics referencing Chicano/Latino culture to accompany classic punk songs. They also dressed as East LA Cholos and took on stage names to round out their comedy infused gigs.

Back in Brown released on 9/16/21 (Mexican Independence Day) is the fifth studio album and the first after the deaths of Gabby (1965-2017) and Steve Soto (1963-2018). This album includes some of their last recordings. The band continued on at the request of the founding members, adding vocalist Efrem Martinez Schultz of Voodoo Glow Skulls. Retaining their satirical and humorous takes on Latino culture it also takes on serious issues that impacted the community during the Trump Era. The songs parodied range from 1970s Midwest punk anthems, 80s Horror Punk, Washington DC Emo, 90s Oi!/Street Punk, East Bay Ska Punk, and plenty of So Cal classics. The musicianship is impeccable and lyrics are clever and thought provoking at times. They may surpass the original recordings. Most of the originals can be found in the KFJC library so give both a spin and judge for yourself. 

Beast of Bourbon

Burial — “Antidawn” — [Hyperdub]

Ms. Conduct   9/26/2022   A Library

A virtual crepuscular landscape folds into new sonic domain-worlds. Liquid lyrics from the wormhole hyperreal. This album constructs a different relationship to time that is so ordered as to feel immersive.

Ambient synths, various sound effects, blank moments to open the channel. Cross-sections of ambient, game music and composition theory with sampling and field recording imports. A careful balance between natural and synthetic sounds constructs an afterlife inversion of this world. The melancholia feels suspended in a transparency heaven superimposed on common earthly tragedy.

Sándor Vály & Júlia Heéger — Sacred Songs — [Ektro Records]

Ms. Conduct   9/26/2022   A Library

A contemporary re-imagining of the medieval mystic & composer, Hildegard Von Bingen’s soaring monophonic monastic chants replete with heavy reverb feedback and layers of hard drone. Originally scored for an audio-visual artwork seeking to center sacred embodiment through dance, this is a saintly provocation earthbound in stone cloister chamber twisted in poisonous vines.

OurTown — “Here we are” — [Gumbo Studio]

Ms. Conduct   9/26/2022   A Library

This is the kind of art-folk rock music that brings together the wise wonder of the NY Downtown scene with rural New Mexican sensibilities into a post-hallucinogenic dayglow gratitude journal. Both yoga-mat and cigarette-smoke free, this album avoids most cliches that one would expect to find of this kind, but still manages to relish in its idiosyncrasies shamelessly. There is a perennial-perfect-afternoon-mixed-with-life’s-laments-feel to this album for those that can appreciate undressed music which weds desert colors to the urban mundane.

Lattimore, Mary & Growing – “Gainer” – [Silver Current]

cinder   9/23/2022   12-inch, A Library

Mary’s a harpist who resides in Los Angeles, while Growing is an ambient drone band that’s been around for years, originally from Olympia, now in Brooklyn. Unsure how this collaboration came about, but it’s fantastic. Floating in the heavenly golden trimmed clouds, with lush waves of undertones and glorious droned harmonies. Side A wafts in such a comforting way, it sounds like the track itself is breathing. Goosebumps and butterflies. Side B showcases Mary’s harp playing beautifully.

Sigh – “Scorn Defeat” – [Peaceville Records]

whngr   9/21/2022   12-inch, A Library

Early Black / Avant-garde / Doom Metal / Thrash with Dungeon Synth, Classical Piano, Harpsichord (?), flute (?), and other enigmatic behavior adjacent to Death Metal from this Japanese three-piece.

This album predates the well beaten tropes of Black Metal and would fail to slide easily into any categorization in any decade. Originally put out on cd by Deathlike Silence (this release wears a dedication to Euronymous on its back cover), it has been pressed and repressed in dozens of iterations over the last nigh on thirty years while remaining relatively cvlt. The influences are apparent, Venom, Celtic Frost, Mozart, Mayhem or Gore perhaps, but this album veers aggressively into and through so many different genres it is likely to be ignored or dismissed by both the purist and the poseur. Many varied compositions with even more varied instrumentation, it isn’t blindingly fast or technical (except the dizzying piano passages), nor is it sludge, it isn’t “lo-fi”, it isn’t satanic (it does, however, allude to the wrathful side of the Buddhist pantheon), and it isn’t even in Japanese (all tracks are in a relatively well pronounced [but not “clean”] English [no FCC’s]). Though it might be “cold” and “grim” at times, it can be flowery, delicate, and atmospheric as well. It also benefits from a slightly quaint quality, so young and fresh of corpse-paint laden face were they, and though Sigh would go on to much more flamboyant and progressive albums, this one (their first full-length), is stretching to find its voice, fingers curling around an identity, in an effort to establish itself with wildly different tones and moods while somehow remaining at its foundation, Black Metal.

Sigh is helmed by Mirai Kawashima (bass, keyboards, vocals) which began as Ultra Death in 1989. “Scorn Defeat” was recorded with two of his cohorts, Shinichi Ichikawa (guitar) and Satoshi Fujinami (drums, percussion) and would make up the core of the band, though Fujinami would abandon the drum throne in 2001 and take over bass duties. Also of note is the early photograph (inner sleeve) of “Shinichi” in full Black Metal regalia by some unknown lake, in broad daylight, nestled in some little park somewhere near or within the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, with a flaming glove held aloft while wielding a katana, harkening back to a fledgling, far more underground, and perhaps more innocent BXM scene. 

Tokyo – 1993

Cold Storage – “Fractures” – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   9/21/2022   A Library, CD

Slow Miserable Avalanche

If Br’er Fox chased  Br’er Rabbit into the briar patch and couldn’t get out for twenty-three minutes and twenty-nine seconds and affixed to the thorns of the briar patch were contact mics, his blood was white-noise generators, and if poor Br’er Fox were strapped to a broken modem (on battery power) from 1997 you might be approximating “Fractures” by Cold Storage. Not the harshest noise but not at all comfortable either. Put it on at the end of your set to avoid spreading any residual strains of plague that might have collected in your reeking facemask and delight in the discomfort of the next volunteer and/or listeners that stumble upon the charred remains of your normally delightful and eclectic sets.

I could find absolutely nothing on this project other than it may have been recorded in Texas, just the way I like my abstract and unsettling artists…. invisible and mysterious.

West Texas – 2022

Mori, Ikue – “Tracing the Magic” – [Tzadik]

aarbor   9/21/2022   A Library, CD

Ikue Mori was born and raised in Japan. She says she had little interest in music before hearing punk rock. In 1977, she went to New York, initially for a visit, but she became involved in the music scene, and stayed. Her first musical experience was as the drummer for the no wave band DNA. Though she had little prior musical experience (and had never played drums), Mori quickly developed a distinctive style: One critic describes her as “a tireless master of shifting asymmetrical rhythm”. This is her latest release on the Tzadik label. There are 7 tracks, each paying tribute to a woman who has inspired her. Mori’s notes give you a sense of each woman. Each track is quite different with somewhat different instrumentation although all include digital electronics. Of note are: track 2 which includes traditional Japanese instruments and sounds as well as prepared piano, and track 7 which includes bagpipes. AArbor

Big’n – “DTS25” – [Computer Students]

Max Level   9/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

This Illinois hardcore-math-punk band was around throughout most of the 1990’s, unbeknownst to me. Here is the 25th anniversary deluxe 2-LP reissue of their ‘Discipline Through Sound’ album and it’s surprisingly great. Record 1 is the original LP, recorded by Steve Albini so you know it’s going to be satisfyingly loud and sharp. Record 2 contains demos of the songs and some outtakes, and tracks from a split EP they did with Oxes. Solid playing throughout. One of my first impressions was that Big’n sounded a bit like US Maple would sound if you owed them money and they came to your house and slapped you around. Then I found out the guitarist is USM vocalist Al Johnson’s brother. So there’s that. Speaking of vocalists, the singer in this band is the epitome of full-tilt throat-wrecking mayhem. These are love songs about doubt and torment and misdirected passion. Add to that some precise, angular guitar, bass, and drums and… man… this thing rocks hard. Super hard. Turn it up!

Mortuous “Upon Desolation” [Carbonized]

atavist   9/19/2022   A Library, CD

The latest full-length release from this legendary Bay Area death metal collaboration, and their first full-length in four years. Relentless pursuit of concussive obliteration. Sudden tempo changes, super-tight and cacophonous. It’s hard to predict where they’ll go from one passage to the next within one song. “Nothing” has a great breakdown in the middle of the track with a violin part deftly mixed into a brief period of relative respite and calm. They want to explore all the sounds of death, like the unhinged high-register guitar solos in “Metamorphosis”. Clear the path for “Days of Grey”, a more straight-ahead driving maelstrom that devolves into a dirge befitting the title. It has a cohesion some of the other tracks don’t have, though the discohesion of those tracks is part of their allure. Blastbeats welcome us to “Defiled by Fire”, while the violin returns to take us out. Soaring guitars amidst the churning murk of “Burning Still…”.  Most tracks clock in around 4 to 5 minutes and all are worthy, each skillfully presenting a variety of delirious and devastating sounds with dizzying technical precision and, most importantly, unchecked fury.

Ulthar – “Providence” – [20 Buck Spin]

whngr   9/14/2022   12-inch, A Library

Lovecraftian themed technical Death Metal three-piece execute their demented crawl through a deranged gauntlet of sonic malevolence with considerably complex arrangements and deranged psychedelic and doom elements. Frenzied and precise, many of the medium length compositions plough through more notes than centuries Cthulhu has slept. Do colors exist at hyper speed or do they melt like the mind of a lunatic in the presence of the Old Ones? Does the syrup fail to drip as winter descends on New England?

Members of Pandiscordian Necrogenesis, Vale, and Vastum among others.

I was initially drawn to this release by the cover art by one Ian Miller who captured my youthful but critically scarred heart when I fell under the spell of the table-top strategy war games of Games Workshop in the late 80’s and inspired and corrupted me further into the decrepit realm of the Chaos Legions. He was an incredible influence on my developing brain and an excellent match for this album, which in my opinion, would be more than suitable aural backdrop for a hardcore miniature painting session. 

 Oakland, CA / Alexandria, VA – 2020

Nightfell “A Sanity Deranged” [Parasitic]

atavist   9/14/2022   A Library, Cassette

Massive layers of drums, bass, guitar, and vocals rendered by two Portland-based doomslingers in teeth-buzzing clarity by the evil wizard Greg Wilkinson. This is death metal shot through with sorrow and regret, to the extent that their slower passages, like the beginning of the track “To The Flame” moves into funeral doom territory, complete with a clean, lamenting choral element in the background. “Holiness Digested” is a short segue track before the epic title track is unleashed. Hear the darkness that has collapsed upon the self to torture that which would seek the light, only to find a prison of its own making, circling paths of infinity…

Melt Yourself Down – “100% Yes” – [Decca]

puplaif   9/14/2022   A Library, CD

Melt Yourself Down (MYD) is a London-based band led by saxophonist Pete Wareham and vocalist Kush Gaya. 100% Yes is their third full-length album. Driven by a desire to create new sonic pathways, the band’s jazz foundation is infused with Afrobeat, pop, and punk influences. The musicians here feed off one another, fueled by a heavy dose of adrenaline that makes for a very energetic and attention grabbing album. Beefy drums, rhythmic sax, groovy bass, and in your face vocals spew social and political commentary, and an invitation to move your body and come along for the ride. 

Bento Box – “EP” – [Parallel Recordings, Ltd.]

karma   9/14/2022   A Library

1999 release by three ambient house DJs: Jonah Sharp (Spacetime Continuum), Kevin Burtt (Me-Sheen), and Jason Williams (Velocette). Spacetime Continuum popularized the ambient house genre, music for the club scene that should encourage socialization. While this album is the perfect soundtrack to turning on your dial-up modem to boot up Netscape Navigator and AIM, it isn’t dated. It harkens back to a simpler time in house music’s second decade, the 90s, when house music – and life – didn’t seem so heavy.

 Mess, Kristin / Birds of California [coll] – [555 recordings]

kittywompus   9/14/2022   A Library

Released 2009

Side A is a mellow and dreamy indie rock album with just enough casual strumming and echoey vocals to make this the perfect backdrop to any quirky 2010 indie love story. The second (Paul Is Dead) and third track (Brief Addendum) bleed into one another creating a psychedelic whirl down the spiraling emotions of the bittersweetness and resentment of heartbreak, a unifying thread between both sides. Kristin mess’ sleepy voice leads side B with acoustic guitar through reflections on past love, youth and sadness, tear-stained cheeks and all. Touching on lost friendships once thought undying, “Eleanor” harkens to a time when we all asked our childhood bestie “We’ll be best friends forever right?”.

FCC: track 2 “Paul is Dead”(Fuck)

Nortfalke – “Seefonkjuenderee” – [Dunkelheit Produktionen]

whngr   9/7/2022   A Library, CD

Frisian Dungeon Synth

Cold air curls off the northern coast of Holland and seeps into the weeping stone foundations of citadel Nortfalke. Slightly eerie ambient swells amid rising plumes of sound. Often having a gentle and lilting foreground with booming thumps below that add an element of percussion to the longform synthesizer forays through drafty catacombs occasionally illuminated by the glow of the moon. Minimal and lush these three tracks explore slightly different moods that are not necessarily dark, the compositions and mood feel more contemplative than emotional. More cerebral than visceral, a philosophical expression of a mage as he plots his next maneuvers toward mastery of the occult.

Nortfalke (Northern Falcon) moniker of Swerc (aka Maarten), co-owner of Aratron Productions, mastermind and contributor to numerous Black Metal projects including Afvallige, Asregen, Gheestenland, Standavast, et al.

Northern Netherlands – 2021

Watkins / Peacock – “Acid Escape Vol. 3” – [Freaks]

cinder   9/7/2022   12-inch, A Library

Jolly-ful playful rhythms layered over a locked beat. Synth kittens on the keys and head knodding knob twiddling squirrels. Psychedelic electronica trips. Flickering MIDI sequencers. An improv duo, usually recorded all live in studio, no dubs. Zachary James Watkins (Black Spirituals) & Ross Peacock, who met in Oakland and started recording together. Excellent!

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