KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Howland, Amanda R. – “Spider, Milk, Batshit, Silence” – [No Rent Records]

lexi glass   8/6/2019   A Library, Cassette

Cleveland-based noise artist Amanda R. Howland weaves an elaborate web on this 2018 cassette from Philadelphia’s No Rent Records. On Side A, “Spider, Milk” opens with a bang and then settles, slowly extending silken strands that capture recordings of fluttering melodies or muffled voices, a slow build to a final violent struggle. On Side B, “Batshit, Silence” drops us back into the action, as hurried footsteps stride into a piercing feedback storm. Distorted signals howl through subarachnoid spaces before lurching into – as promised – a sudden silence.

Wiese, John – “Seven of Wands” – [Gilgongo]

whngr   8/2/2019   A Library

Three-Word-Review: Underwater mastication with migraine.
Two side-longs, a side with two tracks, and one with four of nearly subliminal and sporadically unsettling minimalist sound-sculpture by the prolific noise musician and composer John Wiese (long-e, hard-s) of Bastard Noise, Sissy Spacek, Smegma, et al.
Shimmers and chirps, drones and hums, empty space, crunching, abstract abrasions, amplified fidgeting, whirring, whetting, and worried cymbals. While there is evidence that this album was highly scrutinized, processed, and edited by its creator it can, at times, sound like a pocket dial from a torpid machine shop. Perhaps this is a singular perspective but for me this album conjures images of being submerged within a partially frozen lake, floating beneath the ice, and ultimately succumbing to hypothermia, hypoxia, and death.

Valise – “Fe N2” – [No Rent Records]

lexi glass   7/30/2019   A Library, Cassette

Valise is the solo project of Marilee Armstrong-Rial, a multimedia artist based in Providence and NYC. I’d heard good things about this cassette, sold out long ago on the website for Philadelphia’s excellent No Rent Records label, so when I spotted it on the shelf at a shop in New York I scooped it up. Within seconds of pressing play, I fell in love – it’s been awhile since I’ve heard a release with an opening act so arresting. An everyday scene – the sounds of a city crosswalk – dissolves into an anesthetic ambience; later, we reawaken to mechanical breathing, the distant singing of hymns and carols, and crystalline melodies. Side B features more rhythmic passages, with kinetic beats and heavy low-end pulses, paired with Armstrong-Rial’s warm vocals. Together it calls to mind a noisier, more abstract version of Valet‘s subdued psychedelia. I find myself returning to this tape again and again, completely under its strange spell.

Shumoto/Rambutan – “The Migration to Warm Rivers” [coll] – [Lost Forest]

atavist   7/30/2019   12-inch, A Library

A1, 9:41—To begin: acoustic guitar strings are struck and decay against gentle waves of vaguely ominous droney washes of sound. More well-formed guitar chords enter the scene and lay the ground work for the vocals, repeating “river is dry again”, among other things. Extremely subtle transition to A2—the tracks essentially run together. A2, 9:43 (time is approximate since it’s difficult to mark the beginning)—This track has more playful guitar fills and slightly more active vocal work. Some listeners will find the vocals a welcome addition to this rather sparse composition, but I’m not especially fond of it. Vocals can be polarizing depending on the listener. Here, they are forward enough in the mix as to be unavoidable—you’ll be into it, or maybe not so much. The vocal element with the guitar gives this Shumoto side a more folk feel than the psych-inflected Rambutan side. Shumoto is Jefferson Pitcher, a filmmaker as well as a veteran musician. He’s worked with a number of artists, including Fred Frith and Scott Amendola. The guitar work, coupled with the overlaid sounds, exhibits a satisfying amount of restraint and feeling. And in the end, the vocal element occupies only a small part of the run time.

B1, 4:05—From the onset, an electric sound much more psych-influenced than the Shumoto side. Rambutan is Chris Hardiman, and recently we’ve had his project Spiral Wave Nomads in heavy rotation. B2, 8:50—Electronic glitches, atmospheric sound samples played in reverse, echoing guitar gently flitting across the top. The intensity of the composition gradually builds over time. Guitar sounds like lonely wind chimes. B3, 6:55—More sparseness and low-level electronic sound patterns. Waves of delay-infused guitar build to a delicate oblivion. 

In summary, this 12″ provides five meandering and nicely executed tracks of spaced-out, moody, atmospheric, and at times minimal sonic explorations.

Araujo, Vitor – "Levaguia Tere" – [Nutriot Recordings]

humana   7/28/2019   12-inch, A Library

Araujo is a Brazilian composer and musician whose third album feels like the soundtrack to a sometimes eerie, sometimes suspenseful, but always romantic film that could sweep you away. The final song on each side is climactic, fast-paced, and exciting. Araujo’s piano and soothing vocals (never words, but melodic and expressive nonetheless) flow in and out of each piece, either on their own or joined by vibraphone, strings, thrumming drums, guitar, or flugelhorn, among other orchestral instruments. The effect is stunning. I particularly enjoyed the denouement feeling of the first two songs of Side D that are followed by a third song that picks up the momentum and surprises you like the crescendo at the end of a fireworks display.

Blood of Chhinnamastika – “Promise of Delusion” – [Fusty Cunt]

Lord Gravestench   7/28/2019   A Library, Cassette

No-brakes Power Electronics from San Jose’s Dario Puga, who also runs the noise label The Pet Goat. 

In some senses Blood of Chhinnamastika is a continuation of Dario’s previous work as Botched Facelift, but upon that foundation he has built a distinctive new edifice of damaged sound, as cartoonish as it is bleak. Dario is also a free jazz musician (check out his old band A Fashionable Disease for proof), and brings a touch of jazz-like complexity and spontaneity to his industrial noise work. On this 2018 tape, his first release on the delightful Fusty Cunt label, he assaults the listener head-on with constantly metamorphosing juggernauts of spastic and stuttering synth severity, tethered lightning bolts of feedback, diabolically sliced-up samples, and scornful outbursts of Black-Metal-influenced shrieking. Frequent and violent terraformations occur, the artist’s supply of psychotic tones seemingly inexhaustible.

Botched Facelift was a terrific project, but the B.O.C. “makeover” (to quote Lexi Glass) really came into its own on this release, picking up the Power Electronics genre where the experiments of people like Slogun, Con-Dom and Sutcliffe Jugend left it and carrying it forward into even stranger nightmares. His performance in the KFJC pit (5/28/2019, alongside Microwave Windows) really drove home just how much precision and effort goes into maintaining control of his sound. Afterwards he told me he considers noise the easiest genre to fuck up. Whether or not that is the case, B.O.C. definitely does NOT fuck it up here. A scorcher.

SOOT – “A General Theory of Tears” – [Obsolete Units]

Lord Gravestench   7/27/2019   A Library, Cassette

SOOT (stylised in all-caps) is the experimental project of Oakland, CA’s James Livingston, who has enjoyed a long working relationship with KFJC as proprietor of the eclectic Black Horizons label, on behalf of which he has brought numerous exotic bands into our live pit. SOOT is a fairly new act, seeming to have debuted on a 2017 split with Thoabath, and although he has played in various bands previously, this is also a new direction for James’s personal musical endeavors— although by no means outside the aesthetic turf of his label. Keywords for this 2018 debut album could be Death Industrial, Musique Concrète, Dark Ambient, or Sound Installation. Influences might  include Brighter Death Now and Stratvm Terror, but not only these.

Power Electronics methodology but with a Dub-inspired low end preoccupation, generally eschewing harshness in favour of murk. Deep drones just above subsonic ranges, moaning cavern draughts, fidgety clanking of metal, and anguished vocals pitch-shifted down to inhuman levels, all creating an impression of some demonic creature shackled miles underground to bellow eternally for its revenge. Percussive but not rhythmic. Abstract but purposeful. Often quite minimal. Vocals on every track but A1, ranging in delivery from flat recitation to crazed scolding. “No more masks“ on the devastating finale, where he drops the heavy voice effects, then proves he doesn’t need them to make an impact, delivering a fiery and affecting sermon that smacks of genuine hurt.

As the title suggests, the album’s themes are dark and personal, but they are never presented overbearingly. Lyrics on several tracks are drawn from the writings of pessimistic philosopher Emil Cioran, and on A5 from tragic Austrian poet George Trakl. SOOT is not without a sense of humour, however — on t.7 (B2) he is joined by Echo Beds for a sonically perverse interpretation of a Ranking Dread song! Speaking of reggae, SOOT (in a double bill with Obsolete Units founder Rust Worship) played the KFJC pit on 4/20/2019 at exactly 4:20 PM.

Haters, The – “Forti” – [Influencing Machine]

lexi glass   7/23/2019   10-inch, A Library

This double 10″ release commemorates the 40th anniversary of The Haters, one of the earliest and loudest progenitors of noise in the United States. Formed by G.X. Jupitter-Larsen in 1979, The Haters is a performance art project exploring physical and sonic destruction in endless forms. On Forti, Jupitter-Larsen pulls previously unheard material from performances throughout the project’s history and reworks the sounds into new compositions.

Side A features a recording of a 1989 performance in Denver, where a calculator installed with amplifiers was repeatedly drawn over sandpaper, creating persistent pulses both vicious and vibrant. On Side B, from a 1999 San Francisco performance, we hear Jupitter-Larsen’s original instrument the Untitled Title Belt – a wrestling championship belt fitted with microphones, distortion pedals, and noise generators – belting out pure buzzsaw bliss. Side C draws from the 2009 work “Audiothecary,” where noise emanates from a balancing scale fitted with amplifiers. From this seemingly simple setup comes a massive sound: screams and strings, a full orchestra of horror. Side D comes from a 2019 performance featuring another original analog instrument, the Totimorphous Ubiety Guide, a contraption made of springs and rods played by two musicians; a divining rod leading through a dark mine to metallic drones. This excellent retrospective arrives in advance The Haters upcoming 40th anniversary show in Oakland next month.

Rogue Squares – “Rogue Squares” – [Obsolete Units]

lexi glass   7/23/2019   A Library, Cassette

Rogue Squares are noise artist Carlos Giffoni and Elaine Carey of the LA experimental group Telecaves. This 2018 cassette, the duo’s first release, contains six concentrated doses of drone crafted from modular synths and treated guitar. Lodged in the core of these tracks are ambient soundwaves with the contrast cranked way up. Soft contours sharpen into hard edges, then, into defined shapes, that serve as the patterned surface for synthworms for writhe, wriggle, and wreak destruction, reaching peak infestation on T5. Released on Paul Haney’s (Rust Worship) label Obsolete Units.

Mommy – “Mommy EP” – [Toxic State Records]

whngr   7/18/2019   7-inch, A Library, Music Reviews

Hideously ugly, driving rock outta Queens that seems to revel in mental illness and the hopelessness of being young and damaged with little hope for the future. Noisy, fierce, and unrelenting these young men are thematically drawn to suicide, the morass of modern adolescence, self-harm, and psychiatric evaluation.
Lo-fi, feedback, sickening drum abuse, over-driven bass, samples and shredded vocal-chords. A soothing panacea for the deeply depraved inner child kept locked away in many a “well-adjusted” college-radio disc jockey.

Tanya Tagaq “Retribution” -[Six Shooter Records]

Devlyn   7/16/2019   A Library, CD

Oct. 21, 2016   Label: Six Shooter Records Inc.

Tanya Tagaq is an Inuk (Inuit) throat singer who has become a bit of a pop star by taking the techniques commonly used in her genre of native American music and extending it to new genres.

Tagaq honed her throat singing chops as a young woman by participating in throat battles with other woman in the remote Arctic villages she grew up in. These involved 2 women standing nose to nose making ridiculous sounds trying to gross out or break each other up.

1. The fist song , (Ajaaja 2:55) is the only sorta traditional Native American song on the album. Here Tagaq has written a simple call and response between a male and female singers behind a simple Inuk drum beat rather than the complex instrumentals and voicing found in the rest of the album. If you are into indigenous music go for it. If you are looking to see how how throat techniques could be used in Experimental, Ambient, Noise, Metal, Hip Hop or Pop music dive into other tracks.

2. For example, the 2nd song (Retribution 7:57) is perfect for Lauri Anderson fans (Oh Superman) on speed. It starts with Tagaq screeching, quickly moving on to her a recital of her poem about money and God. Meanwhile the underbed of rhythmical background chants and buzzes get more and more frenetic till she sounds like the little possessed girl from the Exorcist. As with most tracks, this one features 2 or 3 other throat singers along with Tagaq.

3. (Nacreous 4:01) comes off as a noise piece that starts and ends with a male throat singer doing that thing where he sings both a high note and low note at the same time with the same set of vocal chords. Then it layers in multiple voices, chanting and screeching into an inter-weaved hypnotic trance.

4. Tagaq screeches like an Eagle at the beginning of (Aorta 3:37) over a heavy metal-worthy drum beat & deranged gnashed-teeth voicings.  “Kill or Die”

5. (Centre 3:51) Features Shad’s hip hop and Tagaq’s breathy singing.

6. (Summoning 8:57) starts with Tagaq’s breathy singing over violin, with a whole Greek chorus of 50 voices for a background.  The song gets louder and louder and more frenetic as it goes on. This one is lovely experimental music. It would feel right at home in a Lexi Glass show.

7. (Cold 6:53) is a favorite. Another Lauri Anderson-worthy poem-song. Here the poem is about the unique physics of ice and the effects of global warming. Strings saw in the background and a steady rock drumbeat and male voiced drones drive the song steadily forward.

8. (Sivulivinivut 1:49) Is one of of the pretty free-form improvisations Tagaq and her trio of voice, violin and drum like to perform on the road. Short sibilant singing and spare violin. 

9 (Sulpher 3:00) Eeery ambient noise. Monks moan, Tagaq nashes and wails, violins saw.

10 (Rape Me 4:46) The one song on this album Tagaq did not write. This one is a Nirvana cover she can relate to given her deep activism trying to help women living in the Arctic deal with sexual assault. No words the FCC might object to, but it does repeat the words Rape me over and over again in Tagaq’s soft breathy singing voice

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Agathocles/Existench [coll] – [Mullet Death]

atavist   7/16/2019   7-inch, A Library

Split 7″ of Belgian (Agathocles) and Canadian (Existench) grindcore. There’s no time like the present to spray it, not say it. The Agathocles side is a simply filthy recording. The guitar has a weirdly hollow sound. The vocalist has a sort of “normal dude” style, akin to shouting “hey, move your car, dickhead!” So it’s raw and immediate and all those good things true grindcore should be. Existench bring a full-on chainsaw guitar sound with borderline comical put-the-microphone-in-the-back-of-your-throat vocal sound, but it works, once they lock in and get established. Longest track: 1:37; shortest 0:11. FCCs on Existench tracks 5 and 6; the latter is a clip of Trump talking about making America great (hate) again, followed by FUCK YOU! That’s the 11 second track. Less is more.

Organized Grime – “Organized Grime” – [Phat ‘n’ Phunky]

atavist   7/16/2019   7-inch, A Library

Pretty straight-up hardcore, a little bit emo-y, but not annoying. Comes right out of the gate with some super tight riffs. Two vocalists harmonize on the first track and the effect is a little weird, but not in a bad way. These are fast, high-energy tracks. “Boner of a Lonely Fart” is more melodic and poppy (pop-ish) and has some nice melodic chords, plus it takes its time, clocking in at 2:49. All five tracks are pretty fun, but…

only track 1 is FCC-free.

Esplendor Geometrico – “Selected Tracks 2, 1995-1998” – [Geometrik Records]

atavist   7/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

This double LP contains a number of tracks not found on the other records in the KFJC library by Spanish industrial pioneers Esplendor Geométrico. As industrial music goes, these are mild sounds that skirt the boundaries of electronic dance music, but seldom cross over to that genre. I found the record has, at times, a hypnotic quality ideal for working. The audacity of many of these tracks is their refusal to add anything else above a seemingly spare structure of beats and vocal samples—as if that should be enough. And typically it is enough. ES establish a script and stick to it. The record is extremely consistent throughout, almost to a fault. There are no high highs and low lows. Some tracks have more industrial textures and metallic sounds happening, while others are a bit more organic and borderline danceable. Highlights: track B1 is a bit more insistent and high-energy, like Kraftwerk with their hair on fire; B2 has a cool ethereal looped sample over a mechanistic beat; C1 has some intensity and a broader range of sampled sounds and clanging rhythms; C3 brings something vaguely drum corps and primal, adding just a few sounds along the way, like a buzzing cricket sound; and D3 kind of sticks out for the more playful sounds employed and the use of what could be the chanting of Tibetan monks—less industrial and much more EDM.

Par Avion – "Surf The Friendly Skies/Nashville Surfline" – [Self Released]

Cousin Mary   7/13/2019   A Library, CD

Three piece surf music band from Southern California headed up by guitarist Bernard Yin (who has been in many bands including Brazil 2001), his wife bassist Rebecca Ramirez, and Derek O’Brien on drums (Social Distortion, Agent Orange). Excellent playing on these tracks, with some Latin, spaghetti Western and country tinges. Good twang and reverb and I hear that these guys actually surf!

Young Barons, The – "Bitchin'" – [Self Released]

Cousin Mary   7/13/2019   A Library, CD

The Young Barons are aptly named – a teenage surf music trio from Rockaway Beach (Pacifica). These covers of surf classics are well played and arranged, great energy overall. Authentic and yes, indeed, bitchin’!!

Pengo – “File Under WTF???”

carsonstreet   7/12/2019   A Library, CD

The album title says it all. Different genres and parts of genres on every track. Pengo has been around for over ten years and used to be known as “heavy psychedelic” but now can’t be categorized. On File Under WTF Pengo has created its own strange time-space universe. First two tracks noisy, scratchy and spacey. Best tracks 4, 6 & 7. Worst track 5 – long spoken orgasm about a train engine – zzzzzz.

Alias – “Fever Dream” – [Anticon]

Dangerous Dan   7/10/2019   A Library, CD

Brendon Whitney, also known as Alias, is one of the founders of the Anticon Label. Fever Dream is 42 minutes of mostly instrumental electronic hip hop beats. Atmospheric landscapes that are tripped out and lush. More on the side of indie electronic music but rooted in early hip hop. A dash of R and B and psychedelia for good measure.

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