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Music Reviews

Hedningarna – “Hippjokk” – [Northside]

Naysayer   12/3/2018   CD, International

Swedish and sometimes Finnish folk group, Hedningarna ( The Heathens), came onto the music scene in the mid 1980’s, playing with the songs and sounds of the early Norse, utilizing instruments of that time and building their own variations. Adding electronics for a contemporary twist, Hedningarna have always been able to sound otherwordly and unique but never quaint. There sound rocks, in an electronic old Scandinavian sort of way. “Hippjokk” has just the Swedish trio of musicians without the two female Finnish singers, in an attempt to “draw the connection between medieval Scandinavian dance music and the techno rave scene”. It is so not that to me, just a bajillion times better. It is one of the most unique sounds I’ve heard and I’ve been following them for quite awhile. There is this Arabic style influence and then cranky sounds that remind me of hurdy gurdies but not. Beyond toe tapping – full on body bumping. Skal.

Kucheida, Francoise – “De La Scarpe a La Seine” – [Saravah]

Naysayer   12/3/2018   CD, International

Francoise Kucheida is a French blues singer, whose strong vocal style reminds one of the past greats of French chanson but who adds her own richness to interpretation to classic French standards and newer songs. These are not just about love, but about struggle, the people struggling day to day, which can also be about love. Accompanied by accordion and guitar on many tracks, these songs are rich with emotion and beauty. Light that cigarette, pour yourself an aperitif, sit back and listen to the sounds of the Seine in the distance.

Mehndi, Daler – “Ho Jayegi Balle Balle” – [Magnasound Records]

Hemroid The Leader   11/28/2018   CD, International

Convicted human trafficker with a Coke endorsement deal. Second-place finish, Voice Of Asia! This dude has been to lots of places. “Another punjabi pop bhangra foot-tapping musical album which make people go gaga. The highlights of the albums are its real catchy lyrics and the loud enjoyable folk music.Surely be likeable by the punjabi pop lovers.Surely, check this out.” — Amazon reviewer TEENA

Kallidad – “Kallidad II” – [Self Produced]

mickeyslim   11/14/2018   CD, International

Self-proclaimed “thrash flamenco” from Sydney, Australia. This is three dudes, Jacinko and The Raven on classical guitar, and Senor Bang Bang on the hand drum /box thing. Influenced by thrash metal, classical, reggae, rock, etc. Amazing technical skills on guitar. Fun, enchanting, hypnotic. Kinda weird album, I’m not sure why I like this, and neither will you.

Prakash, Aditya Ensemble – “Mara” – [self]

humana   9/30/2018   CD, International


This is an aurally fascinating concept album about an individual attempting to navigate through the maze of mind (which is Mara, a demon) in order to transcend worldly pleasures and achieve the awakened state of the Buddha. The musicians on here meld Eastern and Western traditions in a fascinating way, and you can hear elements of Indian classical ragas infused with jazz, hip hop, and spoken word. Brother-sister duo Aditya and Mythili Prakash have produced this CD that will get you dancing and awake in the best possible way.

Cardoso, Elizete – “Elizethissima” – [Som Livre Ltda.]

humana   9/9/2018   CD, International


All hail A Divina (the Divine One), the great Brazilian singer/actress whose name became associated with samba and bossa nova. As soon as I heard the first notes of this CD, I knew I was in for a treat. Upbeat samba melodies along with ballads are rendered with equal beauty by this lovely singer. Hope you enjoy as much as I did. Songs 1 and 5 are my particular favorites.

Verequete & Group Uirapuru – “Dance Music From Para, Amazonia” – [Wergo]

Hemroid The Leader   9/5/2018   CD, International

Varequete began his career as a modernizer and finished a traditionalist. In the 1960s he made radio hits popularizing the carimbó, a rhythm that in 2014 was designated Brazilian Cultural Heritage by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute. You may recognize it as the lambada? Drums – sax, clarinet, and fiddle at times. Vocal sing alongs and Varequete chatting.

Raghu, Palghat / Subramanium, V.V. – “Bhavalu / Impressions” – [Nonesuch Records]

Phil Phactor   8/29/2018   12-inch, International

South Indian (Carnatic) instrumental music played by an ensemble featuring Palghat Raghu on mrindagam, the Indian barrel drum, and V.V. Subramaniam on violin. The violin was introduced to India in the late 1700s, and it’s fascinating to hear its sound was radically transformed through the use of ‘alternate’ tunings and modified techniques (including the use of oiled fingers to facilitate slides.) The mrindagam has a sharper and more powerful sound than the tabla, and it often takes the lead, for example on side A. The music of the north and south are both based on ragas, or modes, but in the south these are supplemented by composed, and often intricate, melodies upon which further improvisations are built. As a result, the music on this album requires a little bit of focus on the part of the listener, but it’s well worth it!

Dalao, Kane / Nongthong, Wichian [coll] – [ZudRangMa Records]

Thurston Hunger   8/8/2018   7-inch, International

Something about the khene, that tall bamboo/harmonica
whatever you want to call it killer Thai instrument.
When I hear it it feels like a summons, and then the
chanting/singing that goes with it comes on like
an insistent invocation. If you squint your western
ears on this, you can hear a tropical foreshadowing
of Alan Vega with Suicide maybe? The slight reverb
on the male voice, side A is stately goes on long
enough to make me really wonder what they are saying.
I like it when Kane Dalao (internet says he’s a
National Artist for Molam style as recently as 2017)
I’m not sure when this 7″ is from. On the flipside
Wichian Nongthong, has a musical name and delivers
a peppier take, but still stripped down to the
power of voice and khene. The controlled wavering
of the voice, so skillful and compelling. This is
*not* on ZuDrangMa’s label but was found in their
store, I really should have got more information
(or found someone at work from Thailand) but hell
the music stands on its own just fine. Makes
we want to slap a speaker on my car and drive
around the Bay Area belting this out.
-Thurston Hunger

Tinh Co Gai Hue (Calculate The Girl Hue) [coll] – [Trung Tam Du Huong]

Naysayer   7/29/2018   CD, International

My understanding of this is limited due to language barriers but I think I have pieced together a general understanding of what this double CD is about. “Tinh co gai Hue”, roughly translated as “Calculate the Girl Hue”, is a Vietnamese TV show from Saigon, 1975. I think. Or it takes place in 1975. This is the soundtrack to part of the show. What I found on the computer was over 2 hours long. It is in the style of Cai Luong which is modern Vietnamese folk opera blending South Vietnamese folk songs, classical music using traditional instruments, hat tuong or classical Vietnamese opera or theater based on Chinese opera and modern spoken drama. Basically it’s a 1975 modern day soap opera with music, dialogue, interludes, etc. Just listening and not understanding is a bit disconcerting because you never know where you are, what’s happening, why the music is coming in, why they are singing. It’s a lot. Which is wonderful
A bit of history is that after the Vietnam War, the North, then in charge, used this style of theater for television as a means to bring the South Vietnamese back to a way of life they led before. It was popular in the South starting around the 1930’s but the tradition of Cai Luong as a nostalgia for the past as well as a way of showing old style morals, proper relationships, love stories, etc. was a way of trying to get control over the people of the South. This version we have is also Hai Huoc which roughly translates as comedy and burlesque.
Perfect for mixing. Or play it straight to throw the listeners off. A really unique piece of sound recording, of which there are hundreds.

Invenciones [coll] – [Munster Records]

lexi glass   7/9/2018   CD, International

Two CD compilation of experimental sounds from Latin America from 1976-1988, selected by Luis Alvarado of the Lima-based label Buh Records. The artists here incorporate the new sounds of punk, electronic, and free improvisation with traditional music of their home countries, all against the backdrop of political upheaval and cultural repression throughout the region. Dark electronic sounds (A1, A6, B2), avant-garde collages (A2, A7, B3, B4, B6), free jazz (A5, B1), and even some Mexican proto-Industrial from ’77 (B5). Highlights for me were Miguel Flores’ fantastic guitar piece “Pachacuti” (A3), where feedback-drenched free improvisation meets traditional Peruvian folk, “Variaciones de Amauta” (A4), from Amauta, a group of Chilean musicians that fled Pinochet for Ecuador, with a beautiful flute dance that twists into something weird and proggy, and the psychotropical tribute to folk singer Victor Jara from the Chilean band Malache (A6). Alvarado provides great detailed liner notes in Spanish and English with more information about each project.

Oku Shareh – “Oku Shareh Turtle Dance Songs of San Juan Pueblo” – [New World Records]

humana   7/8/2018   CD, International


These four songs are rather long and give you time to get caught in the trance of the percussive (drums, bells, shakers, and more) beat that accompanies the deep, clear vocals of the Tewa speaking Native American inhabitants of the Pueblo of San Juan, which is found in New Mexico. It is whimsical and magical to imagine turtles dancing, and these songs incorporate that whimsy and magic.

Kitka / Varimezova, Tzvetanka – “Sanctuary a Cathedral Concert” – [Diaphonica]

humana   7/8/2018   CD, International


What a soothing CD this is! This music was recorded in St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere, CA “with the intention of creating a sonic sanctuary, a place of refuge where the spirit can soar.” The heartening voice of Tzvetanka Varimezova, Bulgarian folkloric soprano and coach of Kitka, resonates throughout these songs. Kitka formed as a grassroots vocal ensemble that sought to share the “resonant strength of Eastern European women’s vocal traditions.” Under Varimezova’s guidance, they do just that.

Kallidad – “Kallidad” – [Self Produced]

Hemroid The Leader   6/8/2018   CD, International

Sydney band’s 2nd self-released full-length. Wierdly enjoyable Australian Mexican metalheads mariachi muertos flamenco with hand drums and facepaint. Forays into psych, metal, even soccer (#3 “Golden Goal”).