Music Reviews

Chicken On a Raft – “Chicken On a Raft ” – [Antenna Farm]

Thurston Hunger   12/14/2006   A Library, CD

Thom Moore and Tommy Carns rustle up some quaint antiquity and polish it
to a shine. Halfway to a barbershop quartet, and twice the power of a
solo acapella fella, these two travel down dusty American (and British)
Folkways, but get scrubbed clean in studio stream of the 21st century.
The result is captivating, there’s no denying the air of history (punk
rock songs about horses are few and far between), but the lyrics and
themes are not as distant as a stodgy textbook. “Springfield Mountain”
is going to resonate anywhere to anyone, and it deals powerfully with
the question of mortality, while the playfulness of the 1926 jingle for
“Ice Cold Nugrape” is the perfect antidote. Try not to slap your hands
along to that one, might-tee refreshing. Maybe a key to this collection
is that Tommy is singing from his own heart *and* his mother’s knee. They
take her rendition of “Which Side Are You On?” and I think even Pete
Seeger would smile along. The two tinker with the harmonies, but never
to the point of dismantling the original melody, it might have been an
interesting experiment to release a double disc including the original
renditions, but the pure singing her by Thom and Tommy is so fine and
uplifting. A really nice unique piece of work, Chicken on a Raft may
be a terrifying site to see, but it sure was a pleasant trip down the
river of time for me. Oakland duo, so maybe we can get them to visit
KFJC, and coin a jingle for us as well.

-Thurston Hunger

Rickles, Don – “Don Rickles Speaks! ” – [Jewish Music Group]

Thurston Hunger   12/14/2006   CD, Comedy

Rapid-fire ire from a man who can still burn any celebrity roast. This
is basically an improv session, with Rickles rarely missing a beat;
well when someone pulls a rodeo out of thin air, Rickles isn’t able to
lasso anything too quickly… Sure much of this humor is based on pop
culture riffing from the day (this panel-prompted session was captured
in 1969) it may lose some people, but it’s almost like an askew angle
on history. (And an angle on Agnew history too). My wife on listening to
this thought Rickles wasn’t being as caustic as she remembers, of course
that could also be a product of shifting mores. Rickles was uniquely
scandalous at this time. Still his delivery and his tone can often carry
the laughter, you just don’t hear people like this any more. Indeed, what
is wrong with “The Tonight Show” (I assume it is as deplorable as it was
ten+ years ago) is its *lack* of reckless Rickles-ness. Weak punch-lines
that arrive two weeks too late; no improv; no risk and most importantly
insults that are built upon the stupidity of the insultee, as opposed to
the cleverness of the insulter. It’s as if someone thought it was just
funny to call another person a hockey puck, without skillfully slapping
them around first! Play this and congratulate your listeners who laugh
on being alive, like the Merchant of Venom himself!

-Thurston Hunger

Eye Contact – “War Rug ” – [Kordova Milk Bar Records]

Thurston Hunger   12/14/2006   CD, Jazz

Ever since the Eye Contact release on Utech, I’ve been telling everyone
I know with itchy ears to have ’em track down Matt Lavelle. Outstanding
player and this release showcases not just his stellar work but Ryan
Sawyer flaying the skins and Matthew Heyner driving some overload bass
(check out the title track and line it up next to your Lightning Bolt
and Flying Luttenbachers). But there are also pastoral bliss moments on
this too, like “The Forest Lord” and “The Chill and Then The Stupor.”
The latter has Heyner sketching spain on electric bass and Lavelle
musing in the shadows. Like the Utech “Embracing the Tide” release, this
allows Lavelle to bubble away on his bass clarinet in parts (the intro
to “Blackwood”) later in that pieces he pushes the upper registers
climbing around tree branches with Heyner, eventually climbing back down
for some lower blows. On some tracks Lavelle will tag team his horns,
like “Rhinecliff Hotel” trumpets to fly at the beginning, but by the
end the clarinet is rooting around. For trumpet exclusives, check out
“Back in New York” which has Lavelle sounding off like a fire siren on
parts… “An Actor on TV” allows Lavelle to bounce his trumpet/flugel
off effects, reverb dreaming over eruptions of periodic hardcore samba
breaks” “Slave Graves” is a high-voltage tribal augury ceremony, very
vital opener, but unique on this release. “Make Me Have a Baby” (weird
title) marries the electronics found on that lead-off cut with a more
typical trio over slithering bowed bass. All very good, here’s to more
aural Eye Contact and soon!!

-Thurston Hunger

Nostalgia Del Buio [coll] – [Cochon Records]

Thurston Hunger   12/14/2006   A Library, CD

Into the latex bath, on with the eye shadow and out onto the dance floor
where you can squeal like the priapic pigbot or super sexy sow that you
are. Cochon has been a label to watch for awhile and this is one hell of
a pork rind grind. If you want to squeeze a theme out, it might be that
sex is confusion…and panic and humor and a dance with strobelights.
Or maybe this comp is the sound of the wings of youth beating against the
window of mortality…with synthesizer on top, robot drums on the bottom.
Speaking of drums/bottoms, this has a lot of that good ol’ electrospank.
Names familiar to the KFJC klub include Hanin Elias, Autonervous, Lost
Sounds, Black Ice, the Phantom Limbs, Glass Candy, Von Iva, Vanishing,
Rollerball and Nora Keyes. All of those folks nail you to the wall,
with the prize going to Hanin Elias for nailing you right through the
heart with a beat that’ll bust yer aorta. Nora Keyes is on here with her
majestic Nico-meets-a-laughing-penguin “Small Apart” (which KFJC has
elsewhere; there are about 10 such tracks, but this comp was originally
released in 2004). Even so as 2006 dies, there are 15 projects on here
that are making their KFJC debut (check the accordion hustle of Sansa
Asylum and the gutter-drip chanteuse of Garland Ray Project!) and there
are plenty whom we haven’t gotten to know well enough like Dada Swing,
Krmtx and Six Foot Sloth. An outstanding collection, with special props
for how the King Pig assembled the end of disk two…as graceful a
wind-down as your best teenage mixtape.

-Thurston Hunger

Uton – “Highway Nation ” – [Barl Fire Recordings]

loun   12/13/2006   A Library, CD

Finn Jani Hirvonen presents us with five tracks of hyperminimalist drone. All tracks are less than eleven minutes long, so you can get your drone on in manageable timeslots. The sounds have a nice texture. Beyond that, well, like I said, “hyperminimalist drone”.

NOTE: Tracks are mastered at very low volumes, so a significant increase in levels is needed.

Oliveros, Pauline – “Lion’s Tale ” – [Deep Listening]

loun   12/13/2006   A Library, CD

Bang a gong! Or something similar… Our Gamelan loving friends from Berkeley spend 45 minutes striking serenity into the hearts of men. This magnum opus wends its subtle way along, carrying you with it, until you find yourself pretty much back where you started – in other words, it’s great Gamelan music. The synthesizer blends in nicely, using Gamelan sounds, but sometimes at very quick tempos. Lion’s Tale sounds less traditional, but is still a nice piece. A pleasant soundtrack for meditative contemplation.

Messthetics #101 “Messthetics #101” (Hyped2Death) (CD)

ophelia necro   12/13/2006   A Library

D.I.Y. and independent post-punk from London and the Home Counties 1978-81. This is the first volume of the ongoing post-punk UK collections of Messthetics on the Hyped 2 Death label. Between 1977 and 1983 hundreds of bands in the UK put out their own records and cassettes. The Messthetics collections seek to document the stories of these bands, some great, some OK and many previously known only to a few. This volume contains 27 tracks, including some demos and some previously unreleased tracks. Highlights include: The Different I’s “This Week” which contains the world’s first ever duck call solo (track 3), The Rejects (track 5) who later became The Homosexuals (track 8) as well as George Harassment (aka Anton Hayman of the Homosexuals) on track 18, and Funboy Five (track 7) doing a song inspired by a tabloid story of a prisoner who ate his way through the bedding, lightbulbs, etc. when left alone in his cell . Other notable tracks are: 10,11,16, & 20-27 just to get started. The closing track by The Door and the Window “We’re Better Than…” is a who’s who of the popular music of 1983, a name-dropping extravaganza.
Included with this release (as with all of the Messthetics collections) are comprehensive and informative liner notes which give you the scoop on all of the bands on this volume.

Navies – “House Ties ” – [Lovitt Records]

Max Level   12/12/2006   7-inch, A Library

A couple of loud, angular guitar/bass/drums rockers. Side A has lyrics addressing our political leaders, their agendas, and our inability to get the truth from them. Side B is a 4-minute instrumental. Both sides are high energy, tightly-arranged post-punk mayhem, with muscular drumming and sharp, ringing guitars that keep me coming back for more.

Eskelin, Ellery – “Quiet Music ” – [prime source]

Max Level   12/12/2006   CD, Jazz

Eskelin is a NY saxophonist whose music seems to be coming from some weird netherworld intersection of jazz and improvisation. His longish compositions are ever-changing and unpredictable, with a surprise always around the next corner. He has used the same basic trio lineup (with Andrea Parkins on accordion/keyboards/sampler, and Jim Black on drums/percussion) as his main vehicle for about a decade now. Although Eskelin is the composer/bandleader, all three members have a lot of say in what happens. Black’s off-balance syncopations and Parkins’ unusual chord voicings push the music this way and that, giving Eskelin a robust, though nearly always odd, foundation for his tenor sax flights. On this CD, a fourth musician, vocalist Jessica Constable, is heavily featured, providing some of the most compelling aspects of the ensemble sound. She uses jazz inflections and flirts with strange vocal sounds, while delivering things that could be lyrics but really aren’t; it’s wordless ‘sound-language’ vocal improv and let me tell you it’s far out. She does sing actual lyrics in French on CD2 track 6. Another guest, Phillipe Gelda, also sings in French there and adds keyboards to a handful of the tracks. There are tons of interesting ideas here, and Eskelin should definitely be included in any list of today’s first-rate avant-jazz composer/bandleaders.

Channels 3 and 4 “Channels 3 and 4″ (Summer Lovers Unlimited) (33rpm, 12”)

ophelia necro   12/12/2006   A Library

(Pronounced Channels Trois et Quatre) Threesome of synthesizer/vocals/drums, out of Vancouver BC. Nine track EP produced by Johnny Jewel. Sarah does vox, Jesse Willey on keyboards/back-up vox and the drummer is Nick ?. Noisey Synth-punk rock and roll, spilled beer and broken equipment, a drunken dance fit. They site the Fall, Black Flag and The Circle Jerks as some of their influences, they don’t sound like any of them. 3 versions of song ‘The Queen’, 2 versions of ‘Plastic’ and 2 versions of ‘Boys’ makes this release a bit monotonous, the nine tracks feel more like 5. They recently toured in London. They were also on the Zum Audio Volume 3 comp. that we added in June.

A quote from the band “We deny rumours of drug abuse, super punk and fucked up. No decision is clear. Expect broken equipment and broken smiles. Sarah is the new patti smith. Here comes the rain apologies to no one. Countless tours of pleasure. No groupies ever. Too ugly. William S. Burroughs and a joint. Shared with friends. Pills never seemed so glamorous. We are the new Freelance Society. Christian sex and wrists cut like its your birthday. Fly the ocean for a thousand days. I love you. Krosses.”

The Tunnel “The Tunnel” (Self-released) EP (CD)

ophelia necro   12/12/2006   A Library

“The Tunnel” is a reworking of material from Jeff Wagner’s “The Tunnel of Love” releases. 5 track EP, 2 songs from “Underneath Are Phantoms” ( tracks 4 & 5) and 2 from “Fury Town” (tracks 1 & 3), with one track that was previously unreleased (track 2). Stripped down versions with Jeff on guitar and vocals, joined by Peter Crawford on drums. Haunted rock and roll tearjerkers. Less of a carney feel to this one. His voice resonates with creepy suaveness. Recorded in San Francisco by Patrick’s little brother.

Hot Loins “Buzzkill” (The Broadway To Boundary) (45rpm, 7″)

ophelia necro   12/12/2006   A Library

Three friends from Vancouver, BC (Donruss- Guitar/Vocals, Fleer- Keyboards & O Pee Chee- Drums) with an affinity for loud, strange music. This is the first release for Hot Loins, it was recorded at The Hive Creative Labs by Pietro Sammarco of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? with help from Hive helmsman Colin Stewart. Released on Vancouver BC label The Broadway To Boundary. 2 tracks, A side is “Buzzkill” a cacophonous blast of dissonant angular punk and chaotic noise. Side B “Reminiscent of the Admiration of a Graceful Lady” continues with static-cato guitar, pulsing bursts of synth gone mad, unintelligible screaming and a mad rush of fills signalling the demise of yet another drum kit. Limited pressing of 320 hand-numbered copies, ours is P13/300 (?). Both songs are exclusive to this 7″. Full color sleeve art designed by poster artist Cam Reed.

Minks, Thee “Plaything” (Steel Cage Records) (45 rpm, 7″)

ophelia necro   12/12/2006   A Library

Thee Minks sophomore EP release satisfies your rock and roll cravings with 3 trashed out tunes. Side A features an ode to the band’s own drummer, “Plaything”; Side B features a fuzzed out song about sugar buzz love, “Candy” and a pounding version of The Ramones’ “Mama’s Boy.” Hope Diamond- Guitar/Vox, Plaything- Drums & Animal Noises & Liz Lixx- Bass/Vox
Out of Buffalo, NY (I think).

TRACK LISTING: Plaything * Candy * Mama’s Boy – NO LANGUAGE

Moe! Staiano & his Moe!kestra “An Inescapable Siren Within Earshot Distance Therein and Other Whereabouts” [Rastascan]

cujo   12/11/2006   A Library, CD

Overture (track 1): Nearly 2 minutes of nearly silence opens to give you time to find your seat in the theater.
Scene 1 (track 1): At a seaside military airfield, lovers and seagulls give their goodbyes to the battalion as they prepare for a sortie
Scene 2 (track 2): As the planes get a final tune-up, a saboteur enters the hanger and pierces the fuel lines
Scene 3 (track 3): The big set piece: a Riefenstahlian glorification of our heroes as they fly a squadron of B-52s
Scene 4 (track 4, 5): Disaster strikes! The planes crash into the jungle! Our heroes must deal with the immediate perils of the undergrowth, which include 15-foot robotic ostriches.
Scene 5 (track 6): Fortunately, one of the surviving pilots is a drummer. An emerging leader, he (played by Kirk Douglas) fashions some drums and leads the survivors on a death march to escape the jungle. It isn’t long before the pace becomes frantic, and it’s even sooner that they break out in a dead run for their life. They burst out of the jungle—only to be presented with a more terrifying landscape before the curtain drops…

Tune in for more conducted improvisations next week!

-Cujo, KFJC, December 2006

Tunnel of Love, The “Fury Town” (Glorious Alchemical Co.) CD

ophelia necro   12/11/2006   A Library

Jeff Wagner is “The Tunnel of Love”, a one man project. The music is a mixture of sleazy, gothic burlesque, dark circus sideshow and slinky carnival tent tunes. Fans of Nick Cave or Tom Waits might be drawn to this as I was. Enticing lyrics on 8 of the 17 tracks. Tracks 4, 9 & 11 were part of Karen Penley’s “Not The More Lovely: A Circus Sideshow” which was staged in San Francisco in Sept. of 2005. All music and artwork on “Fury Town” was done by Jeff. Lyrics are included. Recently Jeff has started a project with Patrick Crawford, they are reworking the material from this album with more stripped down versions of the haunted rock and roll tearjerkers, the new project is called simply “The Tunnel.”

West Africa Unwired [coll] – [World Music Network]

loun   12/9/2006   CD, International

A compelling case could be made that West African music has been the world’s most influential musical style, pushing not only northward into Europe via the Moors, but also across the Atlantic with the slaves to become the foundation for gospel music, jazz, the blues, and, eventually, rock & roll. Yet this music remains largely unheard in its original form. This disc contains a collection of what is known as griot music, the traditional generational music of the region, which embodies the wisdom of the ancestors. The music is rich, deep, and pleasing, and contains a musical maturity rarely found anywhere, courtesy of countless generations of refinement. The sound is consistent, but there is plenty of variety. All tracks are excellent. An unassailable choice wherever a blues track would fit.

Silber Sounds Of Christmas [coll] – [Silber Records]

Max Level   12/9/2006   A Library, CD

A wonderful collection (27 artists) that for all its unusual material still sounds to me about as sentimental as music gets. This 2006 installment in Silber’s series of Christmas comps invokes the religious/wintery aspects of the season, and, not surprisingly, given the label, an ambient/drone aesthetic looms over the collection. The tracks have a cold, somewhat bleak feel, whether they’re ambient, noise, fast or slow pop, solo improv, or, well, Christmas Music. Brian John Mitchell checks in with his always-intriguing Small Life Form and Remora projects, and ‘I’m glad excellent guitarist Peter Aldrich is still in the fold; however many of my other favorite Silber artists from years gone by are absent this time out. Not to worry, though, as there is plenty of good material from a newer crop of Silberfriends such as Immune, Electric Bird Noise, Plumerai, Bokor, Mars Field, Blessed Child Opera, The Wades, and many more. Too many good tracks to name, but standouts for me include the tweaked a cappella of ‘The Christmas Song’ by Shiny Around The Edges, the blurry rocker by South West Airline, the lovely solo piano piece by Duane Pitre, and the seriously noise-corrupted versions of ‘What Child is This?’ and ‘Hark, the Herald Angels Sing’. Happy Holidays, musical explorers!

Paxta-Core: Underground Uzbekistan [coll] – [Tian an Mien]

Thurston Hunger   12/7/2006   12-inch, A Library

Rock solid dynamite blast sounds from the Uzbeki underground. Passion
pushes this music around the world even if it has to go against the
rotation of the planet… Man the gypsy rambler energy of Skisserz’
“Poprygunya Strekoza” is worth the admission price alone. So powerful
it almost overwhelms the recording equipment, which starts to have a
static seizure a couple of times…electronic heart attack. Brogen
Bogen delivers hardcore choruses versus ska-flecked verses. Slezny
Solntsa (“Tears of the Sun”) have a sort of Siouxie style, even when
they cut a couple of commercial corners it is still a good ride. Suchiy
Potrokh have that sort of stretchy slavic vocal style over a sort of
dirty glam glaze with some rapid fire ranting too. “Capitulation” is
the welcome oddball included here, ping-pong electronics and a drum
machine’s snippy snare perculate beneath dry-as-a-dead-bed-pan vocals.
Red-Aktsiya have one folky strumble number, “Victory” (don’t know it
could be a take on some agit-prop pop, could be sincere, my Russian
is lucky to spot a Babushka here and cectra rhymed with bcegda there).
The other three Red-Aktsiya (a play on redaction, editing, censoring?)
are more lofi garage chunkers. Hardcore Opa grinds fine. Raw, rough
and real throughout… Cyrillic thrills!

-Thurston Hunger

Belastungsprobe – “Platzdruck 90 ATU ” – [Play Loud]

Thurston Hunger   12/7/2006   7-inch, A Library

Another slice of magic madness from this unknown German no-wave godlike
project. At times you get fuzz-grind guitars, oblique synthi, reverb
tripped out vocals…and then there’s the oompah country number replete
with yee-hoos on “Politikertanz.” Most bands don’t pump out this much
variety in a decade, much less in a 7″ record! Sorta roadhouse punk
meets arthouse new wave? Avant garage indeed, with your garage parked
in 1981. Robot hypnosis on “Randerscheinung” is still ahead of the hit
curve, but really everything on here is top-notch…seems like a classic
example of the power of a band focused on making things interesting for
themselves and thus coming up with something enchanting. Great use of
angular melodies, has that Messthetics knack for sneaky syncopation
where you wouldn’t expect things to be kinda catchy. Fred is Dead?
…man, Fred Wasn’t Even Born… This is a release that deftly defies
categorization…and time…and those who won’t play it. Superb!

-Thurston Hunger

Fankbonner, Loy – “El Pabellon ” – [Azul Discografica]

Thurston Hunger   12/7/2006   A Library, CD

Hermits in NYC? Hermetically sealed sounds trapped in his apartment and
then dissected and resurrected and injected via computer processing.
His apartment thus opens up like another world…this is a tidy form of
“noise”, often focused like a laser. Even the “whiter” shades of noise
end up feeling more gentle, as the title track sort of blows over and
through you. “Atardescer” leads off the album with some similar sound
pressure that then resolves into a tiny, tinny chop-bleep, before then
moving into a dizzy memory of your kitchen and silverware singing to
you watch out for the big return rush of white noise at the end. Next
up “Jornada” journeys through a box of cereal to get the free toy
(evidently a contact mic) out…that’s only for a bit, then some clean
ringing tones try and communicate, dealing out sort of Close Encounter
chords. “Vecindario” might be a basketball knocking at the door, either
way it is the closest you’ll come to a “dance remix” track here ;>
Sirens are set off, and some how the ball sets off a razor right by
your ear…like an old-school barber. “Noche de Primavera” is my
favorite piece, with a spring ringing to clean up your consciousness.
Again, the noise Fankbonner constructs is very precise. High pitched
circles, that get telescoped by deeper sounds…a chorus is summoned
from a stereo somewhere. Sounds like Pan Sonic and Arvo Part swapped
pants on this cut…very nice. Out on a new label partially run by
Fankbonner as I understand it. Pretty cool noise/soundscupltures
that evolve while never calling on the onslaught destroyo beam.

-Thurston Hunger