KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Pierson, Dax – “Live In Oakland” – [Ratskin Records]

atavist   2/5/2020   A Library, CD

Atmospheres, blips, klangs, noisewashes, vocal samples. Beats drop in like depth charges. Soaring melodic elements establish themselves and fade. Pitches shift up and down, reeling, forms disintegrate and reform. There’s an extraordinary variety exhibited from track to track, and even within tracks. “Krafteno” brings a more traditional sequencer sound, a blend of clean synths with dirtier, grimier electronic beats and textures. The overall vibe here is insistent, present. “Macrobid” establishes hiphop beats with a droning bass track, a canvas for a variety of samples to interlace and juxtapose each other. “Memory” is a majestic cathedral-like synth piece without a drum track. “Treading Water” starts out really quietly, establishes eerie atmospherics, and then overlays audio taken from a visit to the doctor’s office, a discussion of an evolving diagnosis, until the sample becomes manipulated, repeated, mangled…it picks up a theme eluded to in the beginning, in “A Snap of the Neck”. An tour van accident in 2005 left Pierson a quadriplegic; fortunately he continues to craft these works that speak to his experience. The final track starts with a minimal rhythm and progresses into exuberant trance/techno.

Dax Pierson is well-represented in the KFJC library, mainly by his participation in the projects Themselves, Subtle, and 13 & God, projects that dance the line between hip hop and unorthodox genre-bending experimentation. This is only his second entry in the library as a solo performer; Lexi Glass reviewed the 18th Annual SF Electronic Music Festival compilation, on which his track “Live @ Life Changing Ministry” appeared.

I:CUBE – “Disco Cubizm” – [Versatile]

aarbor   2/5/2020   A Library

This is I:Cube’s  (Nicholas Chaix) 2nd release from 1996. Disco Cubizm and Listen 2 The Bass are playful, bouncy fun tracks, with a sense of humor. The Daft Punk Remix on the B side is more sober.  – AArbor  

Music For the Gods – [coll.] – [Rykodisc]

aarbor   2/5/2020   A Library

Indonesian music is more than just Gamelan! This beautiful collection aptly demonstrates this by giving you not only beautiful gamelan music, but excellent examples of other interesting instruments and vocal stylings. On track [3] slit drums or tubular bells, jew’s harp [6], a harvest song [7]. Kecak [10] a famous [monkey] dance from Bali in which the male singers chant much like a gamelan  in 8 layers of chants and the dance is choreographed to the chanting. Track [13] is Mamaca – sung poetry. AArbor

Before The Revival – “O0” – [WV Sorcerer Productions]

lexi glass   2/4/2020   A Library, Cassette

Z.Y.Q. – a self-described “useless man” from Fuzhou, China – finds a use for the sounds from several genres of extreme music in his musical projects. As The Silent S, he explores lo-fi folk, dark ambient, and harsh noise, while his newest project Before the Revival alternates between pitch-black glitch techno and depressive black metal. On this 2019 debut cassette from BtR, the glitch sound is at the fore, with nine doses of bleak beats and low-end rumbles that together “describe a series of deep void and cruel universes inside his brain.” Once again, WV Sorcerer, the label headed by Chinese experimental artist ruò tán, delivers the desolation.

Filmmaker – “Unregulated” – [Opal Tapes]

lexi glass   2/4/2020   A Library, Cassette

Filmmaker is the alias of producer Faunes Efes of Medellín, Colombia. Unregulated, one of a slew of releases Efes issued in 2019, showcases his hypnotic take on dark electro. A slow, sludgy beat drives the killer lead track “Federal Bestiary” (T1). The pace quickens with the strobe light rhythms of “Unnatural Sciences” (T2) and the twisted synth stabs of “Inbred Indigo” (T3), and continues building with the driving “Dreamland Ops” (T4), and the high speed chase of “Bot Cells” (T5). The tape runs out too soon, fully dissociating into the hazy sunrise comedown of “Fading Life Drop” (T6). A 2019 release from Opal Tapes.

Durette, Liz – "Delight" – [Feeding Tube Records]

Cousin Mary   1/30/2020   12-inch, A Library

This is solo keyboard improvisation by Baltimore musician Liz Durette. Quite unique, sounding at times like a calliope, horns, accordion, piano, guitar and more. The cricket pieces are certainly insect like. Playful but not cute, often dissonant and weird. Very original and thought provoking. (Sounds pretty good at 45rpm, but determined it is 33rpm by matching track times printed on the album cover.)

Quintron – Erotomania

cadilliac margarita   1/30/2020   A Library

Recorded at his own Spellcaster Lodge in New Orleans, Mr Quintron is king of the mellotron, hammond, chamberlin, vibraphone, and his own invention, the drum buddy. Hipster exotica with forays into Dixieland and swampy blues, this is perfect mood music for a dimly lit hangout. His music always has the ability to go from whiskey on ice to all out sweaty dance jam with one deft flick of the keys. This is all instrumental —perhaps improvised—but some of his genius lies in always keeping the listener guessing. I love this freak!!

Wulkanaz – “Wulkanaz” – [Helter Skelter (Sweden)]

whngr   1/30/2020   A Library, Cassette

A barrage of 14 crushing Scandinavian rock-falls from Wagner Odegard aka Kumulonimbus of Tomhet and 1 dark ambient soundscape.

These short and not so sweet offerings are a concise distillation of black metal with ugly rock hooks. All the fat has been trimmed, excising the often monotonous drone of double kicks and buried, over-driven trem picked guitars in favor of a variety of tempos, melodies, and tonal pallets that coalesce in to a furious volley of catchy cvlt black metal-literate rock. It feels like a gauntlet being hurled down by Odegard, as if to say, I have more scope and breadth than our progenitors, more talent than the commercial black metal behemoths, more vision than the throngs of mimics and emulators, more fury than a Valkyrie during Ragnarök, and potentially much more fuel in the fire. A vehement onslaught of short-form black metal but there is so much more to Wulkanaz; finger picking, strumming, galloping palm-mutes, growling and rending guitars, spoken word, shrieking, slaughter, battering and pummeling. In tight, short succession and very little repetition. Almost as soon as a theme is established it is resolved, leaving us gasping for breath and begging for more. And there is plenty to go ’round as the replay value is concertedly high. Though the compositions and performances stand out on this album the recording and mixing are excellent as well. And the drums… Odegard’ employs the drumming of Daniel Rockmyr to glorious effect, allowing him the space to rule on his throne, unleashing a fusillade of percussive devastation. This album is an axiom of power and, in the opinion of this miserable volunteer, a new apogee in the genre as it continues to fracture, expand, and evolve.

Wang, Zijian – “Love Songs In Disillusion” – [WV Sorcerer Productions]

lexi glass   1/30/2020   A Library, Cassette

Written and recorded in the industrial zones near North China’s Bohai Bay, Love Songs in Disillusion is the debut cassette from experimental singer/songwriter Wang Zijian. A deep longing lies within these eight twisted love songs, composed of guitar and synth melodies, despondent vocals, spoken word poetry, and heavy industrial rhythms that might spring from the wasted oil fields where Wang lives and works. The heavy mood gently lifts at the tape’s end, with a dreamlike serenade (T7) and the cosmic visions of the epilogue (T8). Released in the Summer of 2019 on the French/Chinese experimental label WV Sorcerer Productions.

Hound Dog Taylor's Hand – "Hound Dog Taylor's Hand" – [Planned Obsolescence]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2020   12-inch, A Library

Seattle project, contrabass leads the 4tet not strictly to rock, nor jazz. On the lead-off John Seman’s work is reminiscent of the guimbri styles of Joshua Abram’s work. Seman’s bass is a heavy anchor thoughout here. On “The Immensity of the Problem” he bum-bum-bum-BUMPS plus Mark Ostrowski on the drums to set up extended solos from guitarist Jeffery Taylor and then Greg Kelley on trumpet. Greg gets more muscle into his hustle here, as opposed to the intriguing but subtle Nmperign. Ah, Taylor is a Climax Golden Twin, he punks up “The Vulgar Ideal” (my fave track here – a ripper!). Things get a little sludgy on “Hostile Architecture” but like a lot of these songs, that serves as a launch-pad for solo ballistics. “Retrieval Technicians” finds a shade of moodiness, that nicely sets up when things come down to the WIRE on the closing track. Ending with “You Can’t Leave Now” is both funny and edgy (listen to Seman saw away on his contrabass). As a side note, KFJC has plenty of the six-fingered six-string slinger Hound Dog from whom the band takes its name.
-Thurston Hunger

Strafe F.R. – "Shadow Position" – [Touch]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2020   12-inch, A Library

2019 release from this duo (Bernd Kastner and Siegfried Michail Syniuga are Strafe Fur Rebellion – aka Punishment for Rebellion). Electronic music tiling much more towards the factory than the dance floor here, the project has been putting out music since 1984. “Nachtmaschine” offers a few ghost vox in the machine (danke to Anna Nettra), amidst bubbling lava lamp gears and sci-fi fly-bys. Digital rain rattles – a pretty mellow trip. “Every Day XXL” has a loping beat, punctuated by burts of sound…some with voices, singing or EVP-esque. That “XXL” marked my spot! “Shadow Position” moves army boots to the club, a thumper strong enough to knock a toupee or three off, the title cut goes through some tune tunnels to ease up on the heavy breaks. “Isabella B” concludes the record, possible piano, prepared and otherwise also embedded in the electronics. Frau Nettra again adds a spectral hint of humanity between the sonic punishment. Not noise, but not merciful either. Short but covers a lot of territory, this Dusseldorf duo are not of the rinse-rhythm-repeat persuasion.
-Thurston Hunger

Black Cilice – “Transfixion of Spirits” – [Iron Bonehead Productions]

whngr   1/23/2020   12-inch, A Library

Murky Depressive Black-metal

One might choose to describe this album as grey metal though that moniker has already been attributed to another. Perhaps trve grey metal is more apt. This is lo-fi one man black metal, simple and barren. Flat, dead. dreary and bleak. But not because of poor recording but of purposely burying everything in the mix. Like the microphone was hung from the mouth of a cave while Black Cilice performed deep within the bowels of this earthen grotte. Heavily distorted, repetitive, and simple trem-picked guitar, blast beats, frozen vapor enveloping a crypt, affected wails, all the elements are in place but they are obfuscated by distance or perhaps the walls of cthonic chambers. Much like the depiction on the cover of Transfixion of Spirits, a diaphanous shroud of fog conceals the scowling spectre whose malevolent intentions can only be speculated. And fittingly, little is known of this esoteric project’s curriculum vitae, though said to be the creation of a single soul from an undisclosed location in Portugal. Beautifully packaged by German label, Iron Bonehead, on grey vinyl. An excellent accompaniment to any afternoon spent alone drawing skulls, or casting spells but especially as the heavens weep ceaseless tears.

Sixx – “Sister Devil” – [Nuclear War Now!]

whngr   1/23/2020   12-inch, A Library

Stripped down sad boy rock in the vein of Bauhaus, early Christian Death, and Sisters Of Mercy composed and performed by local heavy metallers, Von (Goat, Kill, and Snake) who would, in time, establish themselves as one of the most cvlt black metal projects of their era.
Originally released as a demo in 1991 on 500 cassettes and then pushed into the craggy depths of obscurity, this recording is a slightly low fidelity but reasonably well recorded and rehearsed chorus drenched guitar adulation of the macabre. Some might venture, to a level absurdity. But not I. I adore this kind of thing, and as it came from members of a band that had such power, speed, and vision adds a layer of context. Another level of morbidity. Repetitive, unpolished, atmospheric, brooding… it is an excellent snapshot of a time and a place, that many of us would be unaware was happening in the inky shadows just up the peninsula. I can’t say if I would have totally appreciated Sixx in 1991, but I would have loved Von had I been aware of their existence. Their history is mysterious and contentious among black metal mavens but this recording puts the a final nail in the coffin of any debate as to their talent, range, and foresight. This L.P. is beautifully packaged by Nuclear War Now! which is, in the opinion of this miserable volunteer, a fitting label to introduce this stunning project to 2020.

Munition – “Gaze/Gauze” – [Absurd Exposition]

lexi glass   1/22/2020   A Library, Cassette

Munition is the alias of Dexter Outhit, a noise artist from Toronto. This cassette is his second release, and KFJC’s second library addition from Montreal-based label Absurd Exposition. Gaze/Gauze would stand well alongside the first Absurd Exposition release that we recently added, the excellent Base Waters LP by Rusalka; both works draw the sound of ocean waves into enveloping expanses of composed noise. This Munition version has an anxious, suspenseful feel, as deep pulses surface and mobilize into martial rhythms. The marching beats summon visions of ancient voyages, hunts on the high seas, naval warfare. One ~15 minute piece that repeats on Side B of the tape.

Barriga, Rodrigo – Silere/Continuo

Louie Caliente   1/21/2020   A Library, CD

Rodrigo Barriga is a Mexican composer who studied at Mills College. His work focuses on improvisation, communication, and openness. Silere/Continuo contains three new performances of his early works. The mood is seriously avant-garde, but playful and rooted equally in rock, jazz, and classical.

Continuo (T1) is a piece for voice trio, exploring harmony and resonance. Soaring acrobatics, shifting pitches, sustained gurgles, and raspberry trills.

Silere (T2-T5) features Barriga on electric bass alongside with electric guitar and drums. These pieces have lots of space in them and can take a while to warm up (many start with near silence), but they are well worth the wait. Quiet, accidental sounds flutter, slowly gathering momentum Cohesive grooves emerge abruptly out of thin air, but somehow remain intangible, and melt away before your ears.

Continuo (T6) again features Barriga on electric bass, this time paired with a trio of electric guitars. Collective concret noodling. Psychedelic time warps.

Alleyes Manifest – James Wavey Roses

cadilliac margarita   1/17/2020   12-inch, A Library, Hip Hop

Hip hop out of Oakland from James Wavey aka Alleyes Manifest aka Michael Bridgmon. This is trippy experimental psych- jazz- stoner funk- poetry. Chill, smart, & topical, with cleverly layered mixes, and intelligent word play. Lots of FCCs. All marked.

Dagger Lust – “Siege Bondage Adverse to The Godhead”-[Vrasubatlat]

whngr   1/16/2020   12-inch, A Library

Horrific Aggro-tronic Assault

Aggressive power-eletronics with grindcore drumming (sounds like a kit to my ear/not programmed), sludge elements, and power-violence vocals (guttural bellows and shredded screams/yells) out of Portland OR. At times plodding and lumbering, elsewhere blistering and cacophonous but almost always crushingly heavy with only track A4 (Perverse Divine) offering a brief, dark, reverbed out bass interlude between the barrages of doom, hate, and despair. Members of Ash Borer, Torture Rack,  Disgust, Pissblood, et alia, engage in a blinding attack of unhinged rage and semi-consensual tympanic membrane violation. Perfect for alienating listeners, an evening of self-harm, or a soundtrack to shooting the hostages. All cuts track, no discernible F.C.C.’s, no fun, and no remorse.

Headboggle – “Polyphonic Demo” – [Ratskin Records]

lexi glass   1/15/2020   A Library, CD

Headboggle, aka local experimental synth wizard Derek Gedalecia, is no stranger to the station – a small slice of his sizable discography lives in our library, and he recorded a session in The Pit back in 2009 – but for the unfamiliar, this 2019 Ratskin Records release provides a full immersion in the bizarre, beautiful Headboggle universe. Polyphonic Demo holds 44 one-minute tracks, each a tiny, wonderous world of electronic sound. Put the disc on shuffle – maybe you’ll land in the rough, bluesy groove of “Sister Synth” (T44), the mechanical march of “Stomp Ya Down” (T14), the ragtime piano and squishy beats of “Piano and Polyphonics” (T22), the minor key fanfare upon entering the “Buchla Club” (T26), or the slo-mo surge across the finish line in “Marathon Man Dance” (T7) – and catch a different glimpse of a facet of this strange gem of a record.

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