Music Reviews

Qbico U-Nite : Bruxelles III [coll] – [Qbico]

Max Level   6/27/2006   12-inch, A Library

Recorded live 2005 in Brussels. On Side A, Family Underground (Denmark) spend 18+ minutes droning, fuzzing, and making a modulating, whistling type of sound. On Side B, Family Underground join up with Rauhan Orkesteri (Finland) for what sounds to me like a more down-to-earth version of Side A. More distinct instrumentation on this 21-minute side, more bottom end, and, to my ears, an overall more rewarding undertaking for the listener. Typical of this label’s releases (previous LPs featured Faruq Z. Bey, Arthur Doyle, Vibracathedral Orchestra, Flaherty/Corsano, and many others), this LP is a super-limited-quantity release, pressed on oddly-colored vinyl.

Release The Bats [coll] – [Three.One.G]

anthony fremont   6/25/2006   12-inch, A Library

Touted as The Birthday Party covers as heard through the meat grinder of the Three One G label. A total of 18 bands give rousing renditions ranging from grindcore (Das Oath, Cattle Decapitation) to spazz rock (Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, Ex Models, Melt Banana, Some Girls) to the predominant no wave synth driven pop revival sound from the likes of T Cells, Year Future and Celebration. Over half the bands have past KFJC exposure but some worthy lesser knowns (Plot?, Ssion, Chinese Stars, Error, Daughters, Das Oath, Rah Bras) get first exposure here so give ’em a spin. If you’re looking for the closest Nick Cave incarnation check Daughters. Each track holds true to the dark and menacing spirit the BP possessed and most keep with the linear 80’s dark wave style and sparse production with muted staticy vocals. The album’s title takes its name from the BP’s single from ’82. ‘AFremont

Blanc, Michel – “Le Passage Eclair ” – [D’Autres Cordes]

Max Level   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

Fantastic work. In addition to being a solid, creative drummer in a jazz/rock/fusion style, Blanc proves to be a talented bandleader, composer, and arranger, seemingly willing to try anything that will add color, movement, and mood to his music. The basic lineup here is guitars, double bass, saxophones, and Blanc’s drums, with equal time given to other interesting sounds via percussion, electronics, field recordings, and studio manipulations. It’s a thrilling ride, starting with a wild, cranked-up, electric slide guitar workout and ending with peaceful water sounds. In between, we hear composed jazz, avant-garde tonalities, sound art, industrial flavors, could-be soundtracks, and more. I like every single thing here, but particularly enjoyed #3’s free-jazz soundscape (with inspired/demented vocals by Mederic Collignon), and the melancholy extravaganza of overdubbed percussion sounds on #9. A totally great CD, start to finish.

Auburn Lull – “Alone I Admire ” – [Darla Records]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

Quartet formed in Lansing, MI in 1994; this LP
originally released on Mar. 1999.
Produced by Andrew Prinz (MAHOGANY), who
did the honors for AUBURN LULL’s 7″ for
as well. Full-length debut for Jason Kolb (gtrs),
Sean Heenan (gtrs & vox), Jason Weisinger
(drums) + Eli Wekenman (bass, gtrs), this is a
masterpiece of breaking fog, mist, wet tires on
asphalt, scattered chorales, oiled rainbows –
a canvas-swept hydrofoil of shameless tears ;
all the ‘intrinsic onomatopoeic nature of music?
to be found in the intuitive subconscious. Much
external reverberation processing/sampling &
delay, creating ample beauty and a wordless
longing somewhere between symbolic dream +
universal desolation. More psychotropic than
psychedelic, a contrast medium of encephalogram
that finds us all as fellow bunker soldiers.

MITCH March 2002

Auburn Lull – “North Territorial ” – [Zeal Records]

mitch   6/24/2006   7-inch, A Library

Lansing, MI quartet (Jason Kolb, gtrs/Eli Wekenman, gtrs/
Sean Heenan, vox + gtrs/ Jason Weisinger, drums) have
outlived a once-thriving Great Lakes space-rock scene,
soldiering on with their own filmic/pastoral/music for heliopads
approach, a trademark blend of surging, miasmic swells,
samples, looped guitar/vocals peaking in a slow-cresting
sonic euphoria of song/soundcraft. Produced by soul mate
Andrew Prinz (MAHOGANY) and mastered by Brooklyn NY’s
Jon Chaikin (who has done the duties for every Shelflife Records
release to date) at Nonstop Sound, this European release offers
the now-familiar elegant wash inside cartographic cockpit
somewhere between landscape and ozone. Like all
AUBURN LULL records, this should come with flight ring and
instructions for most listeners, particularly those of the Ptolemaic
Terrascope variety. Additional ethereal vocals from Amanda
Kolb & Jessica Fuller, a pair of visiting angels. Both sides in
Afterlife Technicolor, 360mm, eggbeater soft. Whirlybirds.

MITCH August 2002

Attic Ted – “Hemogoblin ” – [Pecan Crazy Records]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

Grady Roper leads his San Marcos TX merry men through
a fourth go-round of post-apocalyptic gothic carnival
twang designed to disorient/haunt/enervate/charm
fans of horror film-style keyboards/costume, lethal lead guitar
licks (courtesy Wade Driver, also of TACHYCARDIA and
the HICKOIDS), frantic drumming (Coby Cardosa) and
blazing sampler (Lance McMahon) action in service to a
Hammond organ-fueled muse of inebriated masquerade.

?’I’m swimming in a lake of fire
I didn’t wear the right attire
Flesh melting in my shoes
This time ‘I’m sure to lose?’

Members of ATTIC TED feature oversized freakish headgear
on stage, first pioneered at Halloween show 2002 & now a
band tradition. This LP features seven studio band tracks,
and four of Roper’s Tascam Porta-Studio manic creations.
Crazed & inspired, a wonderful release.

MITCH February 2006

Astral – “Orchids ” – [Melting Records]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

SF trio specializing in the varied art form production of
shoegaze / psychedelic nugget – while never shorting
the listener in the musicality [read : melodic] department.
Dave Han (vox, guitar), Amy Rosenoff (bass)
+ drummer Shawn Poh get a proper release here,
after self-producing the intriguing ‘Only Sometimes?
2002)?.ASTRAL are like diamond cutters, unafraid of
splitting gems [in more ascetic form] and soaring fadeouts
that the sky may be heavy with stars. Most winningly
immutable on # 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, + 10 as examples of far-distant
heavenly bodies in light-year ascendance, the vocals all but a
tour guide for narrating escape velocity and molecular decay
whilst the tribal percussion and ringing guitar swirls find the
quarter and half-lives of light and energy across infinite
expanses of indigo space?.out there. Fabulous vision and
envious restraint in abundant quantities – unstoppable throughout.
Ionospheric Duende.

MITCH April 2004

A-Sides, the – “Hello, Hello ” – [Prison Jazz]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

Philadelphia’s A-SIDES (and ace producers Brian McTear
& Amy Morrissey) successfully blend the studio-as-instrument
concept to a core quartet nucleus, resulting in much fun and
memorable power pop interludes. Recorded during a 14-day
period in August 2004 with the band in fine form, especially
vocalist[keys + gtr] Jon Barthmus & versatile lead guitarist
Chris Cosentino; with the songs/sounds styled along classic
pop-structure lines (# 1, 3, 8, 9) and/or psych-fueled
(# 11), the momentum is maintained across all eleven tracks.
Risibly immune to the supposition of trendy ‘scene?, this group
(much as the otherwise maverick roster of this fine Scranton
label) grasps the possibilities of pop as liberating fun – with
crisp riffage and inspired singing aimed toward a higher bliss.
Near mint/fine.

MITCH August 2005

Arovane – “Minth ” – [City Centre Offices]

mitch   6/24/2006   7-inch, A Library

Seemingly able to imbue a greater human presence to pop electronica than
many a peer, Berlin’s AROVANE (aka Uwe Zahn) blends piano chords, ambient
electronics and subtle beats into a refined, tasteful and minimalistic flow
is rich in emotional dimensions. Programmatic, painless and clear as bottled
water, AROVANE consistently achieves the evocative with his trademark pro-
duction sound, kissed always by menthol and melody. Zahn has collaborated
with PHONEM (Elliot Perkins), released nuanced electronica on records,
and remains a label favorite of Thaddeus Herrmann ,
who is issuing the second AROVANE LP, ‘Lilies? in June 2004 on this same
Hamburg imprint.

MITCH June 2004

Arcana – “Body of Sin ” – [Cold Meat Industry]

mitch   6/24/2006   7-inch, A Library

The occasional project of Sweden’s Peter Pettersson, this finds
ARCANA in between ‘The Last Embrace? (2000) and ‘Inner Pale
Sun? (2003, which featured the A-side, ‘We Rise Above?), marking
a return of sorts to earlier formulations of romantic/ethereal dark-
wave fringe. Dulcimer riffage trapped in electro-symphonic melodia,
kettledrums primordial, liturgical Latin – the female voice this time
out is Ann-Mari Thim – Pettersson plows the majestic and medieval
to fine effect with ARCANA, channeling his more emphatic overtones
for sister project SOPHIA, a more symphonic & progressive foray into
grandeur. Also featured in a duo project with Thomas Ordo Equilibrio
(VICTORIA), Pettersson is a world-class creator of the fantastic and
enormous in the media of music.

MITCH October 2004

Apparat Organ Quartet – “Romantika ” – [Duphonic Super 45S’]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

‘Machine rock and roll? from Reykjavik, Iceland from a drummer
(Arnar Geir Omarsson,ex-HAM) and four organists (Musikvatur,
collaborator with MUM; Horour Bragason, the church organist for
Iceland’s largest congregation & member of HR.ING.R; Ulfur Eldjarn,
member of KANADA and TRABANT; and Johann Johannsson, founding member
of ). Frigid, rhapsodic, austere, mechanical,
mysterious and utterly beautiful, this brief glimpse inside a trio of
remixes is the follow-up to 2002’s ‘Stereo Rock ‘n Roll? LP on <13 Amp>,
and offers the same highly customized electric music machinery, a raft of
cheap home organs, Farfisas and old Russian synthesizers in the service of
futuristika musika. Johannsson, who has produced MARC ALMOND, HAFLER TRIO,
PAN SONIC, etc.,keeps it all driving somehow with an assiduous sterility,
incorporating musical flourishes within set parameters of a musical Metropolis.
Heady and rock-based (as opposed to strictly technocratic), this ain’t no
man. Also recommended – the APPARAT ORGAN QUARTET’S pairing with visual
Ingi Rafn (wherein a trio of shortwave radio geeks pit analog receivers, morse
code transmissions & other outdated communications technologies against the
QUARTET’S assembly line of sound) on ‘Motorlab 2?
Touches herein of Hermann Nitsch, Stockhausen, Reich, Mahler, etc.

MITCH January 2004

Aphrodesia – “Shackrobeat Vol. 1 ” – [Flatbed Lamborgini]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

Recorded in 16-track analog by Myles Boisen @ Guerrilla Studios
in Oakland, this is the ‘Super Afro-Beat? of the 11-piece SF musical
orchestra known as APHRODESIA, who specialize in polishing &
electrifying traditional songs from Africa, Cuba and Brazil with a
funky roar of backbeats, bustling horns, floating sax, walloping
grooves, sidewinding guitars & shimmering rhythms behind singer
Lara Maykovich, who effortlessly segues from mbira to cosmo funk
with a toss of her head and a grind of hips. APHRODESIA employs
and ANTIBALAS. Opening with some motoring Afro-Cuban sounds
( # 1), moving to a FUNKY FLAMES meets Brazil ( # 2) vibe, boards
the bus between Lagos and Detroit ( # 3), touches the billowing scape
of Zimbabwean Shona lullaby ( # 5), charges forth with Ethiopean 6/4
groove barrels blazing ( # 6), interlocks guitars + a three-note bass
riff in tribute to Ghanaian Highlife ( # 7), and finally achieves trance
in the rhythms of Mahororo ( # 8), which gets an intriguing re-workout
in Jamaican dub-style ( # 9). Immediate, startling & all-encompassing.

MITCH November 2003

Ants, the – “Victory Side ” – [Sickroom Recordings, Ltd.]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

Sidestepping repetition of lyric or melody, this
Kansas 7-piece molds musical structure atop
the ‘experimental narrative music? of songwriter
Chad Bryan, whose locomotive thought train seems
to tow a string of club cars in image oblique,
clattering past in maladjusted time signatures &
tones of sepia hue. Bassist + mandolin man Brad
Nichols & vocalist Sue Phillips rise to the fore
on this second release, which
follows ‘Sparkling Disaster Strategies?[2002];
coming up is a split 12″ with OLE MOSSY FACE
an d a live appearance @ KFJC 06-13-05, a sort
of homecoming for Bryan, who began THE ANTS
in Redwood City, circa 2000 before relocating to
Lawrence, KS. Impossible to place in generalities,
THE ANTS take a holistic pleasure in sounding

MITCH May 2005

Barbeau, Anton & Bevis Frond – “King of Missouri ” – [Bongo Beat Records]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

Released 2003 in the UK on Nick Saloman’s
imprint, this 2005 Canadian version features a wholly
different design, remastering, & lyric + liner note overhaul.
Sacramento’s BARBEAU is a force of nature, equal parts
brilliant lyricist/superb showman/eccentric original/ irreverent
pop genius/unique melodicist/grand traditionalist/compelling
stylist of contemporary power pop. A frequent SCOTT MILLER
collaborator, BARBEAU here pairs with freak beat specialists
BEVIS FROND in a batch of recordings rendered to tape in
Bromley UK; earlier demo versions can be found on ‘Will Ant
For Frond? (2002). Hook-filled amidst crystalline guitar play
(Saloman on lead), solid rhythm of bass (Adrian Shaw), drums
(Andy Ward) & the perfectly poised/romantically bruised vocal
hues of ANTON straight up, as Exhibit A in sonic enthusiasm.
Tough, telling and a listening joy.

MITCH June 2005

Anomoanon – “Envoi Villon ” – [Galaxia]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

Eldest Oldham brother Ned indulges his literary
fancy once again (after musical versions of ‘Mother
Goose? & ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses?), this time a
quartet of translations from 13th century French poet
Francois Villon. A rogue & balladeer of his day, Villon
(1431-1465?) had many adventures, including theft,
royal pardon, murder, & the thousand-and-one tales
of a road weary troubadour whose Le Grand Testament
was a mock will of bequests in lyric verse. Paraphrasing
freely, Ned Oldham (who co-produced with brother Paul)
supplies guitars, bass, drums & voice to these tales of
gallows humor + regret, joined in part by bassist Willy
MacClean/ keyboardist Jason Stith/ electric guitarist Aram
Stith and drummer Tony Bailey, all of whom have backed
WILL OLDHAM and / or PALACE at some point. Minimal
and unadorned with Everyman vocals & acoustic splendor,
Oldham is up to the task; fully in the spirit of the source muse
himself?. ‘As long as the earth still turns, as long as the light is clear.
Lord, grant to everyone – that which they lack.
To the wise grant a sound mind – for the coward
procure a horse.
Give money to the contented, and please don’t forget about
– The Prayer of Francois Villon : Bulat Okudzhava
MITCH June 2002

Animal Collective – “Sung Tongs ” – [Fat Cat]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

Downsized to the original duo of Panda Bear &
Avey Tare for these Fall 2003 recordings, ANIMAL
COLLECTIVE leaves behind the more outr? experi-
mental electronics for a less ostentatious foray
into a recreational nature pop of field recordings,
incidental noises and acclimated adolescence.
Boasting a single ( # 2) and erstwhile psychedelia
( # 4, 8), atmospheric drone ( # 7), incantation ( # 5)
and delicate acoustic pop ( # 3) and a feeling of
freedom like the last night at camp (with memories
as collage ) that is as much in touch with the pair’s
inner child as the mysteries of creation – never to
pause and analyze or build self-conscious roadblocks,
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE are indie pop exemplars for the
teachings of Maria Montessori :
‘If this is what we learn from society,
how great should be the results among
little children’if the organization of
their work is complete, and their freedom
absolute? It is for this reason that to us they
seem so good, like heralds of hope and of

MITCH August 2004

Coleman, Andrew – “Everything Was Beautiful, and ” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

A co-founder of
WHEELS mastermind) lives & records on a boat, and
reached a creative fork in the road with this release.
What started as a tangent from his ANIMALS ON
WHEELS material became instead a conclusion of his
first two albums. Beyond the novelty of ‘new? sounds
& sequencer techniques in electronic music, COLEMAN
seeks here to include unfashionable beauty/subtlety to
gain a more organic whole. Rather than wild beats con-
tradicting melodies, there is a noisy production style of
rough, lo-fi sounds (utilizing cheap sound cards) that
contrast with a more amplified quietude. ‘The creative
process, he says, is just as much about getting things
wrong as it is about getting them right.’ Hence, this
is ANIMALS ON WHEELS over new and uncharted
August 2001 MITCH

Popp, Andre – “Presenting Popp! ” – [Columbia]

mitch   6/24/2006   12-inch, A Library

1960 LP features marvelously comic and ingenious
arrangements from ANDRE POPP; less experimental
than ELSA POPPING, yet the new instrumentation
touches to these conventional melodies indicate an
acquired playfulness somewhere between FRANCK
wrote international hits (‘Portugese Washerwoman?,
‘Tom Pillibi?, ‘Love is Blue?, etc.) & television/film
music (‘Tintin & Mystery of the Golden Fleece?,
‘Piccolo & Saxo?, etc.), seemed to gain a musical
conventionality as he grew older, sobering his sym-
phonics in a distinguished & formal approach of
light classical / easy listening?.. which makes the
aberration of a recording like this an odd item, even
in POPP’s own discography. An early creative flash
he later regretted? Then it is back to haunt him, pecking
at J. STRAUSS here, battering MANTOVANI there ?
smiling through teary eyes in a post-war abandon of
musical black comedy.
MITCH June 2002

Amber Smith, the – “From Upper Lip to Lower Hip ” – [Version City]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

Born too late to be a RASPBERRY, Lawrence Kim
did manage to latch on with the BMX BANDITS,
long enough to appear on their final LP, ‘Theme Park?,
before returning to his native NY. Kim, an erstwhile
filmmaker, formed THE AMBER SMITH along with
fellow guitarist Oliver Sharpe + drummer David Silva
back in 2002. After a self-released EP, the group added
bassist Josh Leeman (THE AFFAIR) to create the current
lineup. This Brooklyn quartet plays jangle pop with a
calibrated buoyancy, a power pop for lovers that is as rich
in melodics as it is pitch-perfect in vocal bliss. Playing the
NYC Luna Lounge-Galapagos-Sin-E circuit with regularity,
THE AMBER SMITH (not to be confused with the Budapest
band of the same name) share the love with finesse & flair.
MITCH May 2004

Amalgamated Sons of Rest – “Amalgamated Sons of Rest ” – [Galaxia]

mitch   6/24/2006   A Library, CD

Featuring the all-star melancholic trio of Jason Molina
(SONGS:OHIA), Alasdair Roberts (APPENDIX OUT)
and the redoubtable Will Oldham (BONNIE PRINCE
PALACE, et. al.), these card-carrying dejectables mine
the traditional with wake-observances of their own in
A surprisingly-routine outing. Oldham’s ‘Major March?
(# 5) is a standout of stark phrasing?.’I have grown my
hair out longer / I have grown my beard out, too / My
skin is failing / But you’d still know me, wouldn’t you?’
Stripped-down and despairing, with recording done by
PAUL OLDHAM, herewith are themes of longing,
whaling and death set to philosophical instrumentation
and 19th century threnody. Down-to-the-sea-in-ships of
infinite sadness where the depths claim her own, these
toilers suspend the poignant present for the harpy songs
of past, when the globe was a flattened parchment of
evil winds and heinous leviathans, magic passed for morals
and sailors were damned all the same. Billy Budd.
MITCH Dec 2002