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Music Reviews

Purple Image – ?Purple Image? – [Radioactive Records]

Hunter Gatherer   1/30/2005   CD, Soul

Originally released on Map City Records in 1970, this is a 2004 re-release from Radioactive Records, an interesting label that specializes in reissuing innovative but rare music from the 60s and 70s.

Purple Image is from Cleveland, Ohio, and this album containing five tracks is the only one that they released. That’s a damn shame, too.

It kicks off with Livin’ In The Ghetto, a blistering amalgam of rock, soul, and funk that sets the tone for most of the rest of the album. There is also some slower, more R&B-style music in the middle with vocal harmonies reminiscent of The Persuasions. It ends with a 15 minute extended rock funk jam featuring flanged drums, space guitar, wah-wah guitar, face-melting guitar, and even a harmonica. Bass is mixed high throughout, which pleases me.

The lyrics are upbeat and positive as you might expect in songs with titles like We Got To Pull Together. Female and male vocals with the male vocals sometimes trading off a la The Temptations. Influences: Sly & The Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Parliament, and the bands mentioned above.
–Hunter Gatherer

Merzbow “Frog” your choice rpm [Misanthropic Agenda]

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

Croak and dagger noise from Masami Akita. Rolling out the
limited (1/1000) “frog-colored” vinyl smacks of crafty
merchandising, but the album smacks of pain that you would
hope for. The concept could be as simple as Merzbow himself
dialing the resistors just right to get a virtual frog
sample that belches forth on the A-side, but I prefer to
think the “Frog” monniker is to represent an amphibious
nature to this release. There are moments that this almost
leaps out to the dance floor, geiger click, hep repetition
and jackhammer isometrics create a sort of tadpole techno.
There’s some faux locked grooves, but grooves nonetheless.
But then we get a cathode-arcing bipolar blitz, sheer
shrieking audio assault. Side A takes a while for the hail
of electric fire to rain down, it ends with a sputtering
disintegration. Those merciless moments subside on the
B-side, not that it’s unnoise; it still annoys but the
presence of Rana rhythm over the dank clank of dungeons
provides for vivid sections. Seems like he’s tossing in
reversing sounds as well. Merzbow’s white noise is the
sum of a lot of colors.

Max Richter “The Blue Notebooks” [130701/FatCat]

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Trembling before beauty music; exudes grace, though shatters
nothing. Minimal steps in other’s footsteps, melodies climb
up a step, down a step, up a step. Tilda Swinton who has
collaborated with the departed Derek Jarman adds spoken
texts, but to my ears she was too often lost in the gauze,
there but not there. Is she Orlando, or just Tiresias?
Typewriter for effect with the words too. For the fattest
FatCat vibes, try #4 or #7, still that’s pretty svelte
for beat worshippers. If you dig “Shadown Journal” check
out some of Simon Fisher Turner’s stuff. There’s also
wounded piano thoughout, the ankle twisted and lingering
on the sustain pedal. My secret favorites were the two
organ numbers, great pools of sound with ripples of
Terry Riley…#5 and #9. If I lied and said this guy
was the big brother to the twin sisters of Mum would
you like him more? Like Mum, Richter can summon moments
of deafening quiet.

Volvox “Bad Earth” [Dual Plover]

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   A Library, CD, Format

This album poses a lot of questions. What would you do with
your life if you survived a three-story fall through a plate
glass window? And what if the stories were taller tales than
that? Where did the “Five Seconds of Marmots” go exactly?
Who is this “Lester Vat” (aka Anthony Riddell). His bellicose
bellowing is certainly what lingers in your ears. Still the
sonic crumpling, oscillating, and burstling that surrounds
these thought and tone poems is vital. Like there is something
really important going on in the next door apartment, and
they’ve got the radio sliding around the dial, and the TV is
on a polynesian soap opera… And what is that guy saying,
exactly? Evidently Riddell is born with a speech impediment
that he has turned into a speech instrument…stretching and
repeating words, he alternatively seems to be both delighted
and disturbed by the difficulty in communicating. And maybe
not just his, but everyone’s. The lyrics often do focus on
this phenomenon. Tracks are revived from original cassette
tapes, and at times, it sounds like the oxide itself is being
chewed and gargled and choked on. Outstanding early 90’s
Australian art-damaged, body-damaged experimusing.

L’Infonie “Vol 333” [Mucho Gusto]

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The intersection of the lines of madness and lines of genius
may not be one point, but two coincident lines. Timeline here
is 1972, behold the third release from Montreal’s ensemble
L’Infonie. Apparently this galaxy of musicians revolved round
a twin-star center of Walter Boudreau and Raoul Duguay, each
respectively contributing it would seem order and disorder.
The first disc can be sliced at different points to produce
Sun Ra keyboard spirals, bluesy swagger, halleluiah chori,
sputtering gibberish, pure prog rock, freeform jazz. Several
themes recur, I love the way it gathers itself: horns shoot
up out of sprawling piano, drum swatches and an anxious bass.
I think the bass really holds a lot of this together, often
it leads the themes. The second disk starts off with back to
Bach numbers. Then in the midst of the “Prelude,” a garagey
number with flute and outta tune vox sneaks in, then things
get mighty howly and big bopping. “Ubiquital” has a knocked
round glockenspiel feel with zithery strings in that modern
classical tension-for-tension’s sake. “La tonne platte”
starts with sideways jazz, gives way to what sounds like a
Butoh race through the audience which returns on an awkrward
cut back to the sideways jazz. Vive le strange.

Long Live Death “To Do More Than God…To Die” [SecretEye]

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Delivered to us by labelmates Black Forest/Black Sea,
this Baltimoric coven including Oxes’ Nat Fowler and
Chris Freeland. They sacrifice somber minor-key mantras.
Cello drifts thru like incense, and ye’ ol’ singing saw
is summoned upon occasion as well. Despondent without
being desperate. Lyrics flicker in the shadows of
fallen gods and lapsed rockers. Have faith, but do a
sound check.

John Lindberg Quartet “Ruminations Upong Ives and Gottschalk” Between-the-Lines

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Between the lines of composition lies room for fantastic
improvisation. Lindberg’s quartet this time is in a mostly
mellow mood. Even the more fiery moments have a tranquility
to them. Witness the hopping cookers that match melodies
and start/close the album, each spiked with Susie Ibarra’s
quick crash Chinese gongs and seesaw seasoned by Lindberg’s
bowed bass. Also check the kooky kinetics of “Generations”
rattled by Ibarra and slapped by Lindberg to get it rolling.
Now that’s marching to a *difficult* drummer, twice it stops
to let Baikida Carrol chase a hummingbird. Steve Gorn is
here with a variety of winds, elegantly on “Implications”
which is all him halfway till a timpani roll and then a
kinda disharmonious join by Carrol. Weird. That and the
Gottschalk-inspired “Great Spirit…” missed me, but all
else here is meticulously mapped. I really dig Lindberg’s
composition, and Carrol does spend a lot of time with
the mute en tote. That gives the trumpet a little more
grimace to its glide. Ibarra is always a treat, her
kulingtang on “Beau Theme” is heavy on the kul, light
on the tang. “Yatan-Na” is part paean to a pagoda but
then its got this crime jazz alley at the center. Gorn’s
bansuri is strong on both cases. Another outstanding
outing on this label run by Franz Koglmann.

Yannis Kyriakides / Andy Moor “Red v Green” [Unsounds]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library

The ultimate battle, pitching the red wires of electronics
versus the green strings of guitar… In this corner, Yannis
Kyriakides ticking, clicking, and flipping the world on the
fritz. In that corner, Andy Moor of the might Ex, tapping,
slapping and scrapping his way up and down the fretboard
and beyond. The resulting rounds are quite a shadowy box
of sounds. There’s an overall suspicious feeling, like a
convict re-entering the work force as a security guard.
Or a boxing glove, loaded up with a few bars of iron?
“Time Flies” is a guitar heavy track wherein Moor snaps
off harmonics at odd angles, but the hover and blink that
Kyriakides applies below and above the guitar is vital. As
on “a conSPIracy cantata” Kyriakides establishes himself
as a true collaborator on electronics, he’s actually on the
same plane and planet as his more organic partners. We win
with a solid improvisational knock-out that is nearly as
stunning as the photos by Isabelle Vigier within.

Krystian Shek “Eisblumen” [Fax Records]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library, CD, Format

I love how this album begins, like a nighttime strafing of an
army of flying saucers. After that we get a good headphonic
mix of stark darkbeat. Shek evidently is a Russian, and this
is his sonic snapshot of a trip from Moscow to St. Petersberg.
From the sounds of it, he travelled during winter, strapped
naked to the top of a train. Gulag rave? Certainly has plenty
of danceable moments, as the steel wheels find a rhythm on
the rails. I prefer the more ambient textures of coal smoke
that blow through now and then. Some processed vox (as if
lifted from a station’s loudspeaker or a police bullhorn) are
mixed into the murk and add to the mystery. Good rubbery
tone in part and lots of friction percussion also help
this to stand out.

Peter Kowald, Miya Masaoka & Gino Robair “Illuminations” [Rastascan]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Liquid strings and bowed drums, these are the dreams
this trio spins. For me the album found its voice when
Kowald used his (Tuvan style on #5). After that point,
I was hooked…(well aside from grunting byproducts
on other tracks) The first two tracks have a muscular
maelstrom approach…if you want something with all
three off to the races. On the third Masaoka’s koto is
flinging shadows over Kowald careening between two
bowed notes. Track four has Robair’s drums upfront and
ominous and the koto keeping closer to its nature.
Then that vocal breather (Kowald has sung this way
before and worked with Sainkho Namchylat so he may
have picked up a tonsil trick or two.) After that it
was all gold to me, Masaoka sounding more harp-like
on #8 (like on her Monk tribute), Kowald slaps fat
rattling lines on #10, it’s hard to see but track 11
might be Robair bowing styrofoam, and track 12 maybe
he’s got the e-bow on the snare? He’s inventive so
it could be a brand new maneuver… This is also on
his label (glad to see its still going). Applaud the
discrete efforts, as much fevered inspiration as in
a 60 minute single session but with more scope and
better prospects to hop into a KFJC playlist.

Guy Klucevsek/Phillip Johnston “Tales from the Cryptic” [Winter & Winter]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library, CD, Format

FWIW, we’ve never met but I’ve always heard Guy’s name
pronounced clue-SEHV-ick. Including by his understudy
Miss Murgatroid! Klucevsek’s accordion is not as
crazy here as her free-based version, or even some of
Guy’s earlier work. Johnston’s alto/soprano sax seems
to pull higher, clearer, cleaner tiny notes out of the
bellows. This is feathery, but with melodies that are
just gorgeous. The Satie tribute (#7) is a start for
that. As is “The Gift” (#4), the slipperiness of “The
Needless Kiss” (#14), gypsy twists in “No More Mr.
Nice Guy” (#9 but sadly *not* an Alice Cooper cover,
would not have surprised me if Klucevsek had done so).
Instead that has a nice Balkan bounce to it. This album
does not rely on shock and gimmicks. The interplay of
Klucevsek’s right hand parrying with Johnston, while he
pumps the accompaniment is no mean feat. Tastes like
European jazz in parts, rising notes, hyperclean sound.
Yet circus flavors waft too.

Kill Yourself “Soft Touch of Man EP” [Gringo Records]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Three piece from Leeds, heavy with middle names, but lean
with lancing guitar rock. James Richard Islip fights the
drums, roundhouse cymbal crashing and below-the-belt toms.
Lurching along with punch-drunk guitar staggers from Giles
Edmund Joseph Bailey, those drums get KY’s dukes up like
early Don Caballero. Meanwhile bassist Andrew Derek Ross
Abbott is impervious to any of this, steadfast and stolid
he keeps each song on its legs. Thick unflappable songs
that have no problem supporting a ragged, jarring guitar.
Each cut leaves a similar metallic taste in your mouth,
this gang of three seems to have plenty of bite. 80’s
scrape with those always-welcome angry Anglonized vocals
from Bailey. Remember sneering started in Britain. Meat
and potatoes, cooked over an open fire on barbed wire.

Kazumoto Endo “While You Were Out” [Box Media]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Singles collection from Kazumoto Endo released in 1999.
I know KFJC’s own Nancy Reagan proclaims noise will be
at the top of the pop charts in 100 years…but why
wait? This is an album that is bursting with sound,
from the first track that has a throbbing pulse under
the metallic screech of train wheels grinding sparks
out on tracks. A lot of the noise on this has that
almost Godzilla like quality of shearing metal, and
lest you think noise is just random sound, try to
create such gorgeous tortured structures yourself.
In noise, I’m a big fan of the chasm…the space
between the sputtering…and Endo uses that well on
this. Sometimes slipping some J-pop or disco ditty
into those spaces, as if to contrast their week
meekness with his arcing cathodes of sound. Those
moments also hint of digital hardcore, but make no
mistake, this is noise at its most extreme, most
powerful and most glorious. Each time I’ve listened
to this I am struck by the diversity of the din that
Endo commands.

Kalaparush and the Light “The Moment” [Entropy Stereo]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Grant Kalaparush his new name, Maurice McIntyre
must seem like another man, a lifetime ago.
In his lengthy absences, one assumes lesser
musicians would have vaporized into myth. But
this CD proves he’s very much alive, indeed
these are all live recordings. Thus fidelity
is okay, but the fluidity is assured. Even
at his speedier cycles, Kalaparush has an
unshakeable lyricism. Thus as he near 70 years
of age, his playing here is fresh, driving. He
is rarely resting now once he’s going, this
makes a nice workout for young tuba player,
Jesse Dulman. Dulman huffs and puffs, and
gets whoops of encouragement from Kalaparush
at times. This release seems to ride on
Dulman’s back…when he’s on the album
succeeds (check the end of #5) but when he
gets soggy, it slogs.

Jucifer “Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip” [Capricorn]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library, CD, Format

NOTE: This is their debut release and it came out back
in 1998, but aside from jabs at Tabs (Tabitha Soren on
“Hero Worship”) the shelf life on this is still active.
A peachy pair of Georgians, when her ire is up vocalist
Amber Valentine’s sounds a little like fellow hellish
belle Jarboe. Her partner in sound and crime is drummer
Ed Livengood, who provides a lot of colosseum whack to
their attack (he sneaks in some scratching as well
here.) Amber also pedal-pushes guitar distortion we
get something like pop metal with an aroma of glamour.
Amber’s voice can shapeshift nicely: whispery coquette,
hoarse hellion, “rock star” (allegedly the words
tatooed across her knuckles.) This album is prettily
produced, a lot of overdubs…especially with vocals.
I’m not sure how that will translate to their leaner
live set. To their credit, this album gets weirder
as it goes along, and they’ve escaped $ucce$$ so far.
Anthemic anathema from Athens.

Josephine Foster and the Supposed “All the Leaves Are Gone” [Locust]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library, CD, Format

These songs embrace their pain. Well really more than that
they admit the pain…and tower above it. Foster’s pipes have
the warbling ache of a silent movie actress speaking after so
many years voiceless. The leaves are gone like Garbo. While
Josephine may also be a “Born Hell(rais?)er” her stylized
soprano is stirringly at home guiding cautionary folk with
scattery treble guitar. I suppose that the Supposed may turn
some people off, notably Goodman’s noodling may seem thin
and tweaky to some, but I *really* like its chaos clashing
into these simple strum-along songs. And the percussion that
Rusty Peterson contributes is what gives this album its
unbreakable backbone. Evidently this was originally created
as a rock musical but the songs stand firmly alone, alone
without a lover, alone without forebears (as the poignant
“Deathknell” decries), but powerfully alone.

Jojo s/t [Alchemy]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Fuzz bluster rock from the master magician of Alchemy. This
album launches from zero-to-90 mph with the first freeway
rocker, a two-chord lane changer that even hits a classic
Hijo-hijacked searing solo. On #2 the rust still doesn’t
sleep…don’t miss the great ggggaarrrr screams. #3 stops for
air and a twinkling delay number. Next up a surprisingly pure
garagey power pop. #5 has a tense sort of glam rock build up
into a power-sludge of divine distortion. #6 a cool feedback
statue is carved, with dry patting drums at its base. Only to
be followed by a trip to janglesville. #8 provides bursting
psych with gut-punched oomph vocals… #9 has a nice bouncing
bassline over a little slice o’ bliss. #10 leaves us wanting
more with sticky, staticky eruptions of effect-ladenn guitar
with Jojo howling what sounds like “More my brothers…more
my brothers.” You’ll be screaming for more too!

Rose, Jack “Apocalyps. X.” [Eclipse]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

Rose continues his path from Pelt straight to the heart of
a twelve-string soul. The A-side featues a darker current,
thick ropes of vibration…bubbling up the neck of the
guitar on the lower deep end strings. Near flamenco finger
flicking starts “black pearls from the river.” On “tower of
babel” the frenzied fingers give way to bouncy swipes at
the end of that track. On the B-side, it seems like a Rose
made a conscious effort to work the upper strings more, the
sound is brighter, but still brass rattling. With the higher
notes, we can hear the sympathetic halo of echo shining
through easy. As the record spins towards its end, Rose
chose to slow down his playing…the earlier fast ripples of
arpeggios now separate into more distinct drops of guitar
rain, beads of sound. Thornless and acoustic black.

Illoin “Pinafore” [Notenuf/CollisionCollider]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   A Library

Pronounced “ILL Owen” but the guy’s name ain’t Owen it’s
Andrew Ryan from a chilly part of Philadelphia. Most
cuts have quick-click ticking percussion in them, which
contrasts the slower pulling of chords from synth and
accordion. I actually like it when the bullet-train
metronome ticking cuts out…usually at song’s end. But
then on the title cut, we just have the electric piano
sans *any* beats, and that was far worse. It plods
towards prehistoric New Age. My favorite was “Ask the
Dust” (possible John Fante tribute?’), it was the most
upbeat of these otherwise beat-up and iced-down pieces.
It and the initial track only have vocals. “I Am Never”
replaces the clicks with cricket samples, and a gentle
guitar instead of keys. “Starmaps” has a Raymond Scott
twinkle to it, overall the latter half of this CD works
best. While I enjoy “bleakbeat” music, it’s a simple
pleasure. By the time an album passes, I want to go out
and hug a drummer.

I Remember Syria

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   CD, Format, International

More sublime slide shows of sound, this time with some aid
coming from Porest’s Erik Gergis. Besides dizzying cultural
doppler effects, this release is strengthened by some man in
the street recordings. Bizarre bazaars, popular politics
and mucho mujahadeen. On the road to Damascus we get what
almost sounds like a rap over machine gunned beats; sirens,
cellphones and other forms of prayer; transactions and
transglobal underground conversations and middle-eastern
sonic youth radio. The excerpts of young boys singing are
just tough and vibrant. The deeper in, the Greater Syria
you get. Outstanding pop pieces, outspoken Arab Women in
Focus and a not-so-out aleppo sitting in cinema. Radaio
Tartus sounding like a cross-over point between worlds
and frequencies created naturally. There’s more unnatural
doctoring on some of the tracks, but scintillating…
Ali Dada.