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Music Reviews

Fall, The – Fall Heads Roll – [Narnack Records]

Hunter Gatherer   10/31/2005   A Library, CD

Manchester, England’s The Fall is back with the latest in their uncountable number of releases. When I opened the CD I thought, ‘Wow, they really changed their line up.’ But don’t worry: Mark E. Smith and company have merely substituted pictures of themselves with pictures of Rwandans for some reason. However, since The Real New Fall LP there is a new bassist and drummer as well as someone named Dingo joining in on banjo and bass.

For 14 songs and almost an hour, Fall Heads Roll will keep you in thrall as it crashes, rumbles, and thunders. There are respites like Midnight Aspen (4) and its Reprise (6) that allow you to catch your breath, but for the most part this is straight forward aggressive rock and punk rock.

The band sounds great with its stomping chainsaw guitars and sawed off synths, but the real attraction is Mr. Smith twisting the language to get his point across. A lot of lines have the suffix ‘uh appended. As in I read the newspaper-uh. It made me unhappy-uh. and this blunt but effective line from the first track: You’re a nothing-uh. At times the lyrics drip with sarcasm and disdain. Other times he sounds like someone yelling incoherently as he is bring dragged out of a bar. Or maybe he sounds like a battle MC after having a stroke or after dental surgery. Which is to say it is so great.

Flip through the tracks, and you will find something you need to hear. I found that for a few hours after listening to this I had free access to the darker side of my personality. Such is the power of this release.

–Hunter Gatherer

Breakestra?Hit The Floor – [Ubiquity]

Hunter Gatherer   10/31/2005   CD, Soul

The world has waited four years for this release from L.A.’s live soul ensemble Breakestra. (2001’s The Live Mix, Part 2 is in Hip Hop/CD.) They appear to have moved from Stones Throw to Ubiquity.

Breakestra mastermind Miles Tackett and his inhumanly talented musician friends give us just over an hour’s worth of original funk/soul/hip hop/soul jazz compositions. They ask (and answer) the music question: Why go to all the trouble of sampling break beats and digging around in musty record stores when you have the DNA to soul music embedded in your head, heart, and butt?

The music is 2/3rds looking backward and paying homage to 70’s soul and funk masters like The Meters, The J.B.s, and countless others while the other third is looking forward to the unlimited possibilities that lie between genres.

Instrumentation: guitar, bass, drums, sax, trumpet, trombone, fender Rhodes, flute, bari sax, organ, upright [sic] cello. Vocals are provided by Mix Master Wolf and Music Man Miles with guest vocals by Darryl Jackson (14) and Chali 2na (of J5), Soup, DoubleK, & Darryl ‘Munyungo? Jackson (11).

This CD sounds good on every sound system in my house. How do they mix it to do that?

Instros: 4, 6, 10, 12
Language: 14: ‘Kiss my ass?
–Hunter Gatherer

New England Roses – “Face Time with Son” – [Doggpony Records] (CD)

lombard   10/26/2005   A Library, CD

New England Roses have a lo-fi, DIY, friends-hanging-out-having-fun sound on this release from 2005. Featuring JD Samson from Le Tigre, Sarah Shapiro on vocals, and Brendan Fowler, they have a sound that’s a cross between feminist punk pop and the unpracticed sounds of My Pal Foot Foot-era Shaggs. In “Kids in the City” they yell “We are the kids in the city, losing our virginity in Central Park” , making me think of the rebel kids of Larry Clarke’s films. They end with covers of songs by Dave Matthews, George Michael (“Faith”) and Tracy Chapman (“Revolution”).

-Cynthia Lombard

Danny & the Nightmares – “Freak Brain” – [Sympathy for the Record Industry] (CD)

lombard   10/26/2005   A Library, CD

Tormented musical genius Daniel Johnston is apparently in a good mental place right now after years of battling mental illness. He’s been releasing music for 25 years now, with his first cassette in 1980. I particularly enjoyed this 2005 album, where he’s joined by friends doing creepy, horror-movie themed rock. Haunted houses, Lucifer/Satan, death, Jesus and love are components of the overall story on this outing, which is great 4-track recorded lo-fi fun in time for Halloween.

-Cynthia Lombard

Whip – “Atheist Love Songs to God” – [Resonant] (CD)

lombard   10/26/2005   A Library, CD

Whip is the solo project of Jason Merritt (also of Timesbold) of Brooklyn, this being his 2nd release. It begins in a folky vein very akin to Will Oldham and ventures into country-inspired territory on “16th & Mission.” With his gravelly vocals Merritt sings about Kurt Cobain on one track and is inspired by Tom Rapp, Lou Reed, and Leadbelly on others. This is an enjoyable, introspective album.

-Cynthia Lombard

Xxl – “!Ciautistico! ” – [Important Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/2005   A Library, CD

Cross-cultural collaboration of local yokel Jamie Stewart
having Xiu Xiu shooed over into the Italian ointment that
Larsen oozes. Stewarts vocals last seen by me swapping song
sheets with the sadly deceased Bunkbed, are recognizable a
continent away. They are not harrowing but HARROWED. I always
envision his hair going shock white everytime he sings. On
this release that only happens three times (#1,4,7). Lyrics
seem to be trying to steady the uneasy singer with lines

“Don’t worry boy, I’ll be there for you”

“Where did this courage come from”

“Ridicule is nothing to be scared of”

The latter coming from potential paisano Marco Pirroni aka
Adam Ant’s “Prince Charming.” Much of the album has a blurry
soundtrack style from Larsen, soft brushing rhythms and guitar
getting mandolinotinted, breathy accordian and hummy synth.
The music ends up being surprisingly comforting in ways
that words, and starter pistols, fail.

Tujiko, Noriko – “Blurred in My Mirror ” – [Room 40]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/2005   A Library, CD

Hey there’s a whole other wing to this bedroom-fi music, over
there under the crazy canopy in the corner, floating in a
light trip-hoppy other-planet-poppy breeze. It’s toenail-gaze,
cause the shoes are off, she sounds like she’s singing to her
blog. We are spoiled on the first track, which is this side
of introspective heaven, and complete with some great naked
English lyrics. Really it is tremendous, with its shuffle and
its poetic malapropisms propping up a vaguely romantic yet
dream-going-nightmare vibe. On the rest, I’m lost without
translation… There’s plenty of English on here after that
initial flash of genius, but not in the singing…instead its
in the dabbling cabling of modulars and oscillators of one
Lawrence English. The two make a nice patch, formulating
their own sort of Digital Intervention. But Noriko’s voice
is not overly seductive, nor stylized, its charm is in its
gentle understatement. Like walking in the dark in a room
that you are unfamilar with. On the last track they slip
butterfly kisses in your ears, then an overlapping array of
humming and murmuring before a knowing laugh.

Cutler, Ivor – “Dandruff ” – [Virgin Records Ltd.]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/2005   A Library, CD

Something about this, above the fact that John Peel (RIP)
championed this man. Something to the left of the rumour that
Ivor may be Chris Cutler’s father? Something about Mr Buster
Bloodvessl in “Magical Mystery Tour.” Something about how
Mr. Cutler’s voice can sound like the bottom of a pint. Or
maybe sounds better after hitting that bottom. Something
about his skittish Scottish quick sketches, with sloppy
precision in words. There’s that unshakeable feeling that
you’ve entered the home of a friend, and there’s his
strange uncle making these stories/recordings off the hall
in a side room. Or when he’s singing over his harmonium, it
seems it could be someone mockalizing over a church hymn
and coming up with peculiar tales regarding lemon-faced
friends, and the love of mice and belief in bugs. To me,
he’s just kept the connection open to his inner kid, with
a self-satisfied silliness in singing to “the hole in my
toe.” Evidently he has done children’s books! After awhile
his dead-steady delivery and syrupy accent make the most
peculiar nonsequitirs, sit up and sequit. I guess this
“Dandruff” just came from him scratching his head and
seeing what thoughts fell out. We need the full scalp
massage… Phyllis King pops in like a sparrow here too.

As Mercenarias – “4 Demos / Bonus Single ” – [Soul Jazz Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/2005   7-inch, A Library

Bonus single of early demos for this Sao Paolo gang of wow,
hyping the rock solid full length comp. This was recorded
back around the early 80’s and evidently poised for a
regrouping now. The original group offered jittery power,
trashy guitar snarls, a raw-throated diatribing from Rosalia
Munhoz on vocals. Each of these four songs are little
shredders. Gone in a flash, but power kegs of angst rock. The
lurching stop/star of “Oh Oh” is nicely mated with some
alien fembot background vocals. “Honra” allegedly has the line
“the honor of a man is in his ass.”
Which could be flipping the sexism mirror, or just dealing
with more macho shit. Or hell, maybe they’re talking about
burros?’ Even without a translation, you can taste the
irritation and exuberation here, feminist more in its own
celebration, than in battling off the threat of us cursed
Y-chomosome zombies. This doesn’t pull a punch, and connects
repeatedly. This. Is. Rock. Every bit as immediate now as
it was 25 years ago!

21.PERON – “Anlatamiyorum ” – [Arkaplan]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/2005   7-inch, A Library

Turkish troupe from the 70’s, adding this as a teaser to a
more sweeping full-length to be added to KFJC’s arsenal soon.
Here’s we’ve got a pretty straight forward peppy pop tune
on the first side, followed by violin leading a bass line
though a forest of synthesized mushrooms sprouting up. The
violin gives it a bit of a bumpkin feel, but the synth is
prog rock do its very squishy Keith Emerson soul. Then in
races the little competing fuzzed out guitar line in
contra-melody to the violin. Never quite breaks the
atmosphere to galactic crossings, but has a nice ride in
the stratosphere side to it. I found the full-length more
compelling, even more Byzantine one could say, and for that
we now go to our reporter, Pete Dixon…

Jahcoozi – “Black Barbie ” – [Kitty Yo]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/2005   12-inch, A Library

Man this is THUMPING music, maximus. Bound to provoke
involuntary muscle twitch, with an aroma of aphrodesia,
and occasional laughgasms. Something about this is just as
funny as it is sexy…and well super stupid. It’s not just
the work of vocal lolita Sasha Perera. The bass lines are
wide for the ride, the drum machines get giddy (especially
on “Tourist Guide”) On “Black Barbie” there’s this great war
whooping along with popping bubbles of champagne carbonated
with cartoon bullets bouncing around. The photo of this fine
picture disc is worth 1000 words and a couple of grams out
in the alley. This thing reaks of a party, that musty sweat
and stale beer scent, along with a general dizziness. In the
haze, you almost think you hear Santana getting copped on
the second version of “Black Barbie.” Look out towards the
end of that track (A2) it boops over to blooperville including
a fun and big ol’ “FUCK” that launches into a rapid fire set
of rhymes that takes the faux studio audience on a roller
coaster. Even more risky, if you play this at 33 instead of
45 RPM, you’re going to give Sasha a sexchange.

Necks, the – “Photosynthetic ” – [Long Arms]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/2005   A Library, CD

The dew point of focus, the combination of concentration of
thought and concentrations of water. This album hangs on
the precipice of precipitation. One lengthy 42 minute track
builds like a storm, and again showcases the Necks strength
in heavily repeated passages with subtle variation as a form
of audio hypnosis. The piece begins with Chris Abrahams’
contemplative piano fluttering, Lloyd Swanton sinks a primal
bass anchor note into the mix…and Tony Buck gently makes
his entrance brushfully jumping from cymbal to cymbal, like a
tiny frog going slowly from lillipad to lillipad. A key with
the Necks is their pacing…even though the piano flurries
whip around, they move as a unit in such a relaxed manner
it is the perfect tonic for freeway deathrace automatic
instantaneous technopolis that blankets much of the earth.
As the piece goes on, Swanton in particular gets to get a
little gutter-nutter, and he sort for chases away Abrahams
fluttering. The rain never pours down, but it does sort of
get sprayed about on this before the sound all just finally
dries up. Another solid release in the Necks tradition,
the more you put into it the more you gain, as the hyper
attentive Russian audience learned at DOM (an anagram for
home in Russian). This CD’s a reign-maker if you will.

Invisible Pyramid [coll] – [Last Visible Dog Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/15/2005   A Library, CD

Lawdy this is massssssssssiiiiiivvvvvveee!
Each disk alone is more than a meal, the calvacade of artists
would be a festival to end all festivals. Free rock mining
yields a motherloding mind-rush. Somewhere in the psych melee
that is Bardo Pond’s “Bufo Periglenes” my heart stopped cold,
I died, I disappeared. Only to rematerialize in an acoustic
rebirth at that song’s end. Fun with Fonal friends, and I
remain convinced that Steven R. Smith has dialed my psychic
connection line, nice metamorphosis in his moth’s middle.
Breathing exercises with fair Fursaxa, the long tooth of
Wolfmangler, static triangulation via Ashtray Naviations,
A loony parade from Avarus, dodo-a-gogo? Or a-gone, aghast.
The cuts share that LVD appreciation for sonic vortices
with artists given ample time to explore phase shifting.
Meanwhile titularly the pieces tribute those gone before
us. The sound lives on past their extinction…the story of
the Huia alone is lamentable. And what of the Drunken Fish
its legacy lives on etched in vinyl as surely as this CD
six-pack will leave its rings around for future fossil
finders. High accolades to Chris for shooting the Moon,
and praise be to Dog!

Bishop, Alan (Alvarius B) – “Blood Operatives of the Barium ” – [Abduction]

Thurston Hunger   10/15/2005   12-inch, A Library

The best bluesmen, they always had flies on their tongues,
and the best drinkers, well they swallowed the blood of their
young…childish gods among men. They spoke in riddles, and
choked metaphors in their beds till they lost their heads and
wound up like synecdoches running around like all hands on
deck. Alavarius B might be Alan Bishop of the Sun City Girls,
he also might be the cloaked figure prying open your bedroom
window to slip in beside your dreams…astride the corpses
there piling up like the murder ballads Johnny Cash is singing
in heaven before being resurrected as the very acoustic guitar
now crumbling in the hands of Alavarius B. Aurora ourorboro
Alice could have done so well to have fallen through a hole
into this wonderland of song and strummage. One foot in
courage, one foot in confrontation. Heads are gonna rock and
heads are gonna roll here. There are some bad words, there
are some worse people…they all show up here to look at you
in the mirror. This is Herman Melville’s favorite album,
and mine too right now.

Horton, Robert – “Just Before…Setting the Sky ” – [Barl Fire Recordings]

Thurston Hunger   10/15/2005   A Library, CD

Holy ping-pong, local artist Robert Horton bounces his music
across the pond to Barl Fire-brand Simon Allen, who releases
it and sends us a copy of this slice of psycho-active sound.
Horton covers his sonic tracks in an array of odd acoustic
and electric instruments (evidently including “sheep’s toes”)
the listener is never quite sure what exactly their ears are
floating in. Dan Plonsey is in the mix as well for some bean
and brain bending. Some acoustic scrape and drone-groan of
strings are evident in the earlier pieces, they never hit a
sort of Alastair Galbreath or Steven R. Smith emotional
critical mass, instead most pieces seem content to dwell in
suspended soundlight and live electronics. Pieces here often
play with the space that Pelt likes, the moment *before* the
event happens, for some this can provoke anxiety and in
extreme cases an odd outburst (check out track #13). The last
track dices up that moment into discrete blips.

Kervorkian – “Who Is Who ” – [Day After Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/15/2005   7-inch, A Library

Czech mating of eastern european ire and english lyrics. A
loud and proud “FUCKING” is going to save the best track for
the DJ’s of the night. That track “Pink Panther” opens the
B-side with a whispering witch’s brew of incantation and bass
before the drums start to whip the piece towards the edge of
a cliff, guitar scraping along the way. Excellent stop/start
dynamics and very precise percussion keep this one on edge.
A quick breather and then a short slugfest with lyrics that
get lost in the mirrors of mind. On the A-side, “Who is Who”
takes a nice crooked drum solo into a bridge out of a pretty
straight-forward straight-edge number. “The Magic Box” has a
Detroit, Rock City kinda swagger. Not a lethal injection, but
a good enough reason to live… Which I’m not sure this band
did, this came out back in 1999 and I haven’t found much
further evidence of survival.

Blackshaw, James – “Celeste ” – [Barl Fire Recordings]

Thurston Hunger   10/15/2005   A Library, CD

Sometimes a simple acoustic guitar becomes much more than a
guitar, it opens up like a church, with its nave disappearing
through the heavens. Or maybe its wood somehow recollects an
earlier existence in an isolated idyllic forest? Blackshaw’s
12-strings resonate with a single mindedness here, especially
on the initial slice of “Celeste.” That shines with the same
dark power and glory that often Six Organs emit. There are
several passages where it sort of finds a cycle to rest and
revitalize in before launching forth again, it just breathes
so perfectly. Also with the open tuning, you get the shimmer
of harmonics cast atop the piece at times. Evidently young
Mr. Blackshaw (in his early 20’s ?’? but definitely offering
sonic timelessness) went wandering about New Zealand (which
recalls another tale of intro guitar travel-revelry from
Roy Montgomery). The open C surrounds these two tracks,
moving from the moody minor through a fog of farfisa and
drifts of delay and winding up in the sunshine spiral and
-uick major key trills of the closing piece. More please…

Camille Sauvage “Fantasmagories” [Zippy]

cujo   10/14/2005   A Library, CD

Many listens later, I still have no clue what’s going on. I definitely have no idea who Camille Sauvage is. Pseudonym for a French percussionist? Is this a soundtrack? A concept album? Is it Jazz? If you know, please let us (ahem, me) know here in the comments section!

The music is very well described as the unholy love-child of Henry Mancini, those West Side Story drum outbursts, and a circus funhouse. Indeed, after the first few minutes I was reminded of Fantomas? Delirium Cordia release, but it veers away from such heaviness quickly. It seems as if it’s played by a traditional jazz band. Half the tracks are a bit ambient (especially 7,8, 12) and tend towards the background, the other half demand some attention. Very heavy on the drums (especially tracks 4 and 9) and random percussion instruments (especially track 10), including vibes (especially 3, 11) and an occassional jew’s harp appearance (6). Those hungry for some human presence will not find much; some finger snapping on track 6 and the briefest of appearance of a female voice (maybe) on the quiet track 11. Many of the earlier tracks end in a short burst of activity. All the crazy titles make the album out to be creepier than it actually is; nevertheless, added just in time for Halloween!

-Cujo, October 2005

Krzysztof Penderecki “Musica da Camera” [Wergo]

cujo   10/14/2005   A Library, CD

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Gosh-darn, I want to play some chamber music soooo bad. But I don’t want any of that namby-pamby Beethoven stuff, not even the late quartets, not even the Grosse Fugue! I need angry Polish people beating their instruments, scraping their cellos? private parts, extruding sounds from their fingerboard. Maybe instead I want newer, calmer music that can soothe and sound good, plagal cadences be damned!. Heck, I’ll even stoop so low as to settle for a clarinet, ‘I’m this hungry. And I only have 10 minutes til my next air break!?
Well, have I got the answer for you. Praise the heavens for this Wergo release of (most of) KP’s chamber music, all short pieces perfectly suited for our break clock. KP is mostly known for his larger-scale works, but these small works prove that KP is the real deal, the total package, a genius large and small. The 1950s student-era works are have the most classical bent to them (especially the Sonata), dig the Webernian atmosphere in the 3 violin miniatures. The 3 works from the 1960s have the most adrenaline and percussiveness to offer; the two quartets are just crazy (remember #2? I think it’s the bed over which Linda Blair throws up…) and the Capriccio is a solo cello showpiece. The 1970s? Apparently quite forgettable. The 1980s pieces all are much calmer, the Gedanke is almost saccharine, the viola Cadenza rivals Berio’s sequenzae, and Per Slava, while it has the name-drop going for it, turns out to be the least engaging piece on the disc – blame the not-Slava cellist? I was taken by pleasant surprise by the two clarinet pieces, the Prelude especially. And the longest piece at 13:35 is the 1991 String Trio, a virtuosic whopper, a return to a more visceral and threatening style: fierce repeated chords heralding solo meditations, finishing with a frenzied fugue. -Cujo, October 2005

Moncur Grachan III _”Aco Dei De Madrugada” [BYG Records (in collaboration with) Get Back] (33 rpm)

scrub   10/13/2005   12-inch, Jazz

(Out of sight) Jazz Lp
‘One morning I waked up very early[?]?
The architecture of the compositions feel cosmological, as if it were an ancient worldview, and as if in a place like hawaii where you can see the sun rise so much earlier, the title which translates as I quoted (and is on the cover), and which the adjacent front cover picture expresses quite well, that it seems the music was made, as the sun refreshes the sleep deprived when they are at their most fatigued, earlier than ever waking up for, and later than stay awake for, which seems to bind into certainly the motif of the starter track, also the title track, but also in the variations of that motif, in each following track. Of course the album is not as saddingly catchy as that first motif, and real as it is, with that folk, being old kind of sadness, that dependency in a melody, the sort of plaintive whistle of overwork and depressing relationships, the rest of the album is really great, phase developing, jazz. The piano, by Fernando Martins, who recorded this year, 05, under the Fernando Martins Trio, a self titled work, released on the DeLira Musica label based in Brasil ( , goto catalogo, which is the catalog of their releases simply enough, which is alphabetical, by first name of the band leader, which has two poor quality samples), has quite a Matthew Shipp “Pastoral Composure” (Matthew Shipp Trio, ’00, Thirsty Ear release), first impression (especially Ponte lo), but certainly the intent behind the repetition similarities, for example, are different, Nelson Serra de Castro (Drums) plays like he knows Martins does not want an over interpretation of his lines, although the piece does phase, and alter significantly, and although the pieces may be more preconceived prior to this record of the work as released. This is not difficult, but it is not predictable either. There is a strong groove to all four partitions. As to Moncur, this is certainly a place apart from (Moncur, Grachan – “Evolution” [Jazz][379010]) and “Echoes of Prayer”. This central divergence would have me recommend this as essential listening for a tour of Moncur’s output (you might want to check out this discography, ,but i don’t vouch for it). The title track I can not live without, but what melodies are personally strong for me, might not work for you.