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Music Reviews

Kurt/Popular Shapes [coll] – [On/On Switch]

Max Level   11/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Kurt eluded most of my attempts to find out about them, however I did come up with this: they’re a trio and seem to be from Germany. They serve up two pieces of good slashing guitar/vocals rock with lots of jagged edges. Definitely the better of the two sides here. Popular Shapes are a punkish Seattle quartet full of ‘relentless energy and spastic catchiness?, an apt description taken from a review I found online. Their two tracks are OK, but not particularly memorable. This SF label On/On Switch is new to me.

Dilloway/Cherry Point [coll] – [Troniks]

Max Level   11/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Michigan’s Aaron Dilloway and SoCal’s Cherry Point square off on this little slice of Killer Noise. On Side A, Dilloway piles layers of fuzzy crackling on top of a far-away-sounding background. Some variation and good moments. The Cherry Point’s Side B offering is pretty much pulverizing hell from start to finish. Note: Side A’s playing speed is different from Side B’s, not that I think anyone would notice if either side gets played at the wrong speed. Limited to 313 copies.

Graumahd – “S/T ” – [Hauruck]

Max Level   11/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

From Austria comes this trio of acoustic guitarists and their Black Forest brand of dark folk music. They have connections to other bands such as Der Blutharsch and Sturmpercht if that tells you anything. Graumahd’s guitar parts are simple, restrained, and effective, and that instrumentality is what catches my ear since everything is in German and I have no idea what the songs are about. In addition to the three guitars, there are a few percussion touches, and guests on flute and cello. Exotic sounds here, all quite nice.

Mustafa Ozkent ve Orkestrasi “Genclik Ili Elele” [Finders Keepers] (full length CD)

ArtCrimes   11/28/2006   CD, Format, International

It’s easy to see how this fell through the cracks of the Turkish pop scene in 1973, with the insane-chimp-in-studio cover photo and the 3-D type bursts proudly declaring “Rhythm’n’Soul”, “Blues’n’Jazz”, “Rock’n’Pop” and most charmingly, “Folc”…as if this recording easily fit all those genres. Strangely, it nearly does, and without a word ever being sung.

This instrumental combo, recorded without overdubs in what we can only assume were Spartan recording conditions, falls somewhere along the lines of Booker T & the MGs doing a student exchange program with Frank Zappa circa Hot Rats, with Hammond organ, extremely busy electric bass, and two drummers backing the ethnically psychedelic guitar work of Mustafa Ozkent and Cahit Oben. The album title translates as “Hand in Hand With Youth”, and so it’s got to have all the hip, new sounds of the era, with wah wah and other guitar effects, but it also draws heavily on traditional Turkish melodies, which utilize non-Western tunings and apparently additional guitar frets.

Master tape damage is apparent here and there, with some tape speed changes, but we’re lucky to have this at all, the liner notes suggest, due to the recycling of much Turkish vinyl during 70s oil shortages.

King Khan & BBQ Show, The “What’s For Dinner?” (In The Red) CD

ophelia necro   11/28/2006   A Library

The King Khan & BBQ Show are two guys out of Canada. One (BBQ aka Mark Sultan) plays the guitar while playing the snare, bass drum and tambourine with his bare feet and singing wildly. The other (King Khan aka A.A. Khan) plays guitar and howls like a madman. What does it all sound like? It sounds like more than 2 guys and these 2 guys know how to rock. This is ‘Real Rock n Roll’ with a definate nod to music of the 50s/60s era. Think 13th Floor Elevators, Ramones or even Sha Na Na! There are rock n roll numbers (3, 4, 6, 9, 11, etc.), punk rock (track 8 is 15 seconds) and doo-wop (tracks 2, 5, 7, & 10.) ! Songs are mostly about love gone wrong. This is really great stuff, not romantic nostalgia, it’s the real deal! Watch for language on track #3!
Death Cult Doo-Wop. ophelia digs it.

Love Is Love [coll] – [Mono Records]

shiroi   11/26/2006   12-inch, International

An odd and intriguing assortment of various pop and traditional music from Ethiopia, Siere Leone, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, Nairobi and Tanzania, with string and other instruments. “Toomus Meremereh Nor Good” may be my favorite. Others are more mellifluous in places. “S’modern” sounds very old. “Castle Beer” sounds very primitive and unproduced. “Uolayinda Kubota” has a cheerful rhythm. “Jumbe Nipelek Kwetu” makes me think of a cheerful Tom Waits. “Chemirocha” is actually cute. All songs have their charms. – Shiroi

Abrams, Muhal Richard / Lewis, George / Mitchell, Roscoe – “Streaming ” – [Pi Recordings]

Thurston Hunger   11/22/2006   CD, Jazz

Five healthy meals from three master jazz chefs. Thanksgiving indeed!
Dig the portions of percussion on “Soundhear” with Abrams clocking
in piano chord clusters while the clock-factory wakes up, cuckoo
clocks included as Lewis tosses in aviary samples. After 12 minutes
things start to spiral, the piano gallops a bit more, and these
great swirls of effects are tossed in…then we get some sterophonic
bullfrogging, this piece really feels like the product of one mind
as opposed to the improvisation of three. They are beyond the same
page and on the same fiber. “Bound” delivers a slice of jazz ambience
more active than you might catch on an old ECM release, the sounds
seem to just peek out behind each other…a gently blown sax, with
a flute darting between it and maybe Lewis on-the-fly re-processing
it all?’ 11 minutes of music becoming… “Dramaturns” has some wild
moments to it…kind of a sunny stoll in the park chasing a trombone
butterfly to start, after 8 minutes Lewis puts down his horn Abrams
rolls some piano spritzes through and Lewis returns a the Mac(intosh)
daddy. Channeling some choruses that could be lifted from the recent
Gerard Pape, it creates a very otherworldly tension. Think Gorecki
more than AACM, eventually Abrams transforms it to a more soothing
improv, but still Lewis has banks of vox humana eventually we come
back to earth and that garden. An outstanding release, and very cool
that superstars were brought into the studio and captured precisely
rather than a two-birds-with-one-stone live set at some festival.
Do not miss…

-Thurston Hunger

Sic Alps – “Pleasures and Treasures ” – [Animal Disguise]

Thurston Hunger   11/22/2006   A Library, CD

Stealth pop buried beneath shearing guitars, glass-crashing frozen sonic
phonics. Even a squelchy piano gets into the fray. When the drums hit,
they are trying to break skin. Never tiny, always tinny. Blues romp rock
noticeably in the mix on “I Know Where Madness Goes” and “Semi-Streets.”
This is from 2005, but between then and now they’ve lost members and a
lot of blood…but like Harrison Ford, they do their best work when they
are wounded. Mike Donovan (BIG TECHNO WEREWOLVES) remains standing mid
the Alps, Bianca Sparta (ERASE ERRATA) and Adam Stonehouse (HOSPITALS)
were lost in the avalanche of sound. Matthew Hartman rode a St. Bernard
in to help out. Excellent lo-fi kung fu mastering on the sound courtesy
Weasel Walter. Songs are 2 minutes and change tops…but wreak of urgency
and the good booze from the locked liquor cabinet. Woozy bluesy doozies.
A sweet harshness helps this slip into a police line-up with Brainbombs,
Deerhoof and Guided by Voices…yep, criminally good. They like those
big, slashing chords that make me think of wayback power pop/rock, but
then vocals are so drunk in reverb that the words dissolve, but again
to me this is pop! There are some great melodies trapped beneath ice and
hiss. Ruling song titles package cryptic lyrics. Very high on the secret
of life: the melding of chaos and order. Don’t miss.

-Thurston Hunger

Nervous Gender – “Live At The Hong Kong Cafe ” – [Self Release]

Thurston Hunger   11/22/2006   A Library, CD

This bootleg gives a swift kick in the rear of today’s legions of
synth-punkers, by returning to the source of self-proclaimed “techno
punk” and quirkier than queer, geekier than genius Nervous Gender.
This took place at a sit-down restaurant back in 1979?’ Still despite
the murky fidelity and the occasional crowd chatter, this squirms
solidly. Sure the machiney drums sound sorta buried alive in dirt,
if not in “Mommy’s Chest” but the rough sound seems to only amplify
the overdriven quality of the synths; plus the vocals shared by
everyone feel even “shoutier.” I don’t think it is possible for punk
to have the confrontation and shock that it did back then (recall
records being burned!!), and I wonder if it is possible for musicans
to live so leanly on the margins of society. But this is more than a
time-capsule study, the songs are exuberant in their irritation, and
well just infectious. Frankly speaking, Phranc sounds in fine form as
part of the confusing, but never confused, Gender here. Sheesh, I
read online a disparaging re-printed review of Phranc’s guitar on
“What Can I Do”…add 27 years and it sounds tremendous to me. Also
“Diptheria” which comes with some stage chatter connecting Katherine
Hepburn, Chuck Berry and Dr. Toni Grant…eventually becomes super
infective. The synths, the sins, the attitudes!

-Thurston Hunger

Crumb2C George – 22Black Angels3B Makrokosmos III 22 – 5BMode Records5D

Thurston Hunger   11/22/2006   A Library, CD

Two pieces working from varying degrees of darkness. The disc opens with
an homage to Bela Bartok, “Makrokosmos” mirroring Bartok’s “Mikrokosmos”
books of piano works. Piano here is augmented with whistling (almost
sounds otherworldy on the “Wanderer-Fantasy” section…which has some
extremely quiet moments). Gong clashes come in, with room to resonate
on “The Advent.” “Myth” seemed to me the most amazing section, must
have been a pretty busy summer evening, as we’ve got squiggly mbiras,
some shouting (it leads off with a pair of paroxysms) and plenty of
striking percussion. Lot’s of silence too, that’s the darkness in the
night sky I presume, the conclusion of this suite in track 5 has sort
of twinkly piano chords, bass clusters with lots of sustain, and then
a trickling of notes that again leads to a stark silence in phases.
More shining chimey percussion on that, the longest track on this CD.
“Black Angels” starts with an attack of flying snakes on violins, I
guess they are insects per the title…but after the very quiet end
of the first piece, this pluck the hairs up and out of my head. The
liner notes talk about compositional form, I sort of found these very
short movements loosely connected, again a sense of darkness to match
the night-space-void of the first suite. Strings w/ contact mics give
this an electric vibrancy, and though dark, this is never malevolent.
It has a sort Harry Partch/Lou Harrison playfulness likely coming from
Juan Pablo Izquierdo’s arrangement and conduction. I like the see-saw
melody used at times in this piece, kind of dizzy, kind of exotic.
“Ancient Voices” also creates that feeling with pinched notes on the
strings… Definitely leaves me wanting more, longer passages.

-Thurston Hunger

Jamal, Khan Creative Arts Ensemble, The – “Drumdance to The Motherland ” – [Eremite]

Max Level   11/19/2006   CD, Jazz

Re-issue of a 1972 LP, originally released on 300 long gone copies, and since then highly sought after by jazz freaks. Vibes, marimba, guitar, bass, two drummers, and occasional clarinets are playing spacey jazz, live at a basement club in Philadelphia. The special effects (dub-style mixing with echo and reverb) were added by the sound engineer during the performance. #1 is a soundscape full of echoing drums and wind chimes. #2 starts with raw, flailing clarinets, then drops into a cool marimba workout, backed by killer rhythm throughout. #3 has gently grooving bass and guitar lines holding it down while clarinets and percussion sounds hover and dart nearby; I love the way the vibes slide in and the drums pick up steam about halfway through. #4 sort of comes and goes in a pleasantly meandering way. This music reminds me of some of the things Arthur Doyle has been up to with his Electro-Acoustic Ensemble in recent years. If you’re into Head Jazz, here’s a historic document for you.

Goslings, The – “Grandeur of Hair ” – [Archive]

Anthony Fremont   11/19/2006   A Library, CD

Succumb to the acid wash female vocals coated in a sticky static ectoplasm of numbing amphetamine psychedelic noise overdrive with an underlying pop element deeply embedded in melody that lodges and lingers in the mind long after it fades from the ear.’ Essentially the duo of Floridian couple Max Soren (guitars) and Leslie Soren (vocals) and a host of percussionists Brendan Grubb (trks 1 & 3), Paul Leroy (trk 2) and Adel Souto (trks 4-8) with additional guitar by Neddal Ayad (trks 5 & 7). ‘Produced by James Plotkin. -AFremont? ?

Chris Brown “Master Switch” [Insignificant Records] (33RPM)

nic   11/18/2006   12-inch, A Library

Chris Brown- Master Switch

Chris Brown, Tom Nunn and David Poyourow improvise on home made instruments. Soft ambient percussive and strings intertwine and reproduce.

Wavicle Board- plywood sheets wit steel rods, bronze brazing rods, nails and strings.
Crustacean- balloon mounted rodded metal 32? disk sound radiator.
Wasservina- resonators mounted on stainless steel, water filled bowls and string.

Master Switch (21’18?)- soft percussive, wood on metal, soothing to spooky
Sonar Vacation (3’20?)- vocals (Devo on acid?) over layered, cannibalized piano parts
Insect Love (8’32?)- clicks and buzzing: insectoid poetry?
Summer Jam (7’18?)- liquid percussion in slow motion

Black Ox Orkestar – “Nisht Azoy ” – [Constellation]

cinder   11/17/2006   12-inch, A Library

From Montreal, Black Ox Orckestar contains members of Godspeed You Black Emperor/A Silver Mt. Zion and
Sackville. This sounds nothing like those bands
though! Original re-interpritations of Jewish music
traditions, acoustic instrumentation, Yiddish
singing… this record is beautiful! The record’s
name translates into “Not Like This”. They Listened to
pre-war recordings of Jewish and non-Jewish music from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and wanted to capture the rawness and emotional intensity they heard there. I definantly feel it, and think this is slowly
becoming my new favorite type of foreign sound, so

Kaada – “Music For Moviebikers ” – [Ipecac Recordings]

cinder   11/17/2006   A Library, CD

Norwegian sound artist Kaada makes beautiful
simplistic music that makes you feel as if you’re a
little french girl playing with her doll house on top
of a shady grass hill. Kaada and 22 other musicians
from all over Europe created this album, which is
inspired by an imaginary film, in a short amount of
time. He’s even made some of the instruments himself, out of springs and piano strings. This would fit
right in with your Godspeed YBE and Yann Tiersen
collection. Kaada also plays in Cloroform, and has
also toured as the Kaada/Patton band.

Shogun Kunitoki – “Tasankokaiku ” – [Fonal Records]

cinder   11/17/2006   A Library, CD

Finnish four piece who have released their debut album
6 years after getting together. Sounding somewhat
classical (think laptop Baroque), this
electronic/slightly rock album is beautiful and full
of butterflies and rainbows. Each track has a steady
looped synthetic sound, while added layers of sound
swoosh in and out, creating a feeling of inspirational
happiness. At times, it feels like I’m watching
Koyaanisqatsi or any film featuring long flying shots
over rolling grassy hills and sandy beaches.

Big City Orchestra – “Comp Traz Ju05-Fe06 ” – [Ubuibi.Org]

cinder   11/17/2006   A Library, CD

From an angry ant frantically pounding his electric
typewriter to endless minutes of floating electronic
drone and a dead sounding zombie to a slightly
Negativlandish style George Bush spoken word (ummm
uhhhhh) and an angry lady tired of the idiocy of the
government, this cd is mind zoning and at times scary
(track 8 = perfect for telling a ghost story over).
Lots of electronic glitchy noises to numb your brain.

Track 9 is the same as 3, just with no bed. Play
over your own!

Dublab Presents : In The Loop 4 [coll] – [Plug Research]

cinder   11/17/2006   12-inch, A Library

Pretty mellow and nice release from Plug. indie
guitars, floaty vocals and sprinkly cupcakes!

A1 – A steady kick drumbeat (almost a heartbeat sound)
along with Becky Stark’s sweet voice bring tears to my
A2 – Daedelus & wife duo! Sounds slightly
A3 – Excellent track from AC’s first release. Boiling
fantasy smashing into the cymbals. Nice.

B1 – Devendra Banhart & Hairy Fairy make a nice
acoustic campfire marshmallow roasting tune.
B2 – Join in with the handclaps, acoustic guitar and
hum’s as the glitches make you itch.
B3 – cute jingle jangle that makes me think of an
upbeat Neil Young.

Selda – “Selda ” – [finders keepers]

Thurston Hunger   11/17/2006   A Library, CD

Worshippers of Erkin Koray, and we know you are legion,
should not miss out on this on this Turkish delight from the
mid 1970’s. Less blown-out fuzz solo brain-bake, but plenty
o’ strong voice over rarefied psych-fired melodies. Just as
on Saint Patrick’s Day in America, everyone is Irish, when
this plays everyone is Turkish (well except the authorities
at the time who tried to silence her often protest-related
themes.) Such radical themes as brotherhood, peace and …
well… “Youth cannot be shot, one day the tyrant will be
scrutinized.” Selda Bagcan’s voice has that pride that can
uplift the downtrodden, with great rococo lilting to help
underscore the ache. Vinyl crackle is speckled on here,
more noticeable in some spots ( #6 and #16 e.g.) On the
former, I’m sorry but I feel it does not add the mystical
charm one might think, instead it detracts from the power
of that stark ballad…although it does help to summon a
vision of a turntable spinning in the sand. That track,
“Gine Haber Gelmis” is an example of the pre- and post-
echo used to help her voice sound like it is bouncing
around some craggy cliffs, rising towards the sun. Some
songs just come with killer sonic deja vu, like “Gitme”
is this a Koray cover?!? Man, it gets downright genetic
for me. Really a masterpiece that stands the tests, winds,
sands and misguided leaders of time.

-Thurston Hunger