Fundraiser 2018 — Donate now!

Music Reviews

Moshe, Ras – “Transcendence ” – [Kordova Milk Bar Records]

Max Level   3/31/2007   CD, Jazz

Ras Moshe (reeds, flute) and company represent the Brooklyn style of jazz (lots of sun and peace! he says) on this fine 2007 studio effort. He has his own style on tenor sax, tending to play with a relatively smooth, non-raspy tone, but he can definitely take it outside when the situation calls for it. Veteran drummer Rashid Bakr has played with many of jazz’s big names, and this group benefits greatly from his first-rate touch and timing. Bassist Shayna Dulberger is new to me, and, as young as she is, she handles her tasks admirably. Sometimes, though, I wish she was a bit higher in the mix; when all four members are playing together, it can be hard to hear her. Guitarist Dave Ross provides a wide variety of jazz and not-exactly-jazz sounds that are right at home in this outfit; he does a nice job with mellow jazz chords and gently chiming harmonics, and he also unleashes rippling Sharrock-like bursts that really light a fire under the band.
Standout tracks:
#1 is a sweet and swinging tune featuring Moshe’s tenor, with some wild guitar/bass/drums soloing in the middle.
#5 is a Charles Lloyd-like flute/percussion peace piece.
#8 is a blazing tenor sax/drums duet that threatens to tear the damned roof off.

Smith, Wadada Leo / Rudolph, Adam – “Compassion ” – [Meta]

Jawbone   3/30/2007   CD, Jazz

The cover may have the appearance of a Windham Hill release and the track titles may sound all new age syrupy (Sun Ray Colors and Rainbow Images), but this disc of free jazz improv duets by Wadada Leo Smith and Adam Rudolph is not for the faint of heart. This is quiet, but heady stuff. Recorded in concert in 2002 (audience edited out), released in 2006, it is at times ethereal, rocking, worldly, whispering, but always transforming and moving on. Smith makes his trumpet and flugelhorn chortle, choke, whisper, belt and sing and Rudolph does everything else, playing handrums and percussion and reeds from all over the world and even taking a stab at Tuvan-style throat singing alternating with scatting.

Following is a list of the track titles and what they should have been:

1. ???Beauty: Aquamarine Night??? (3:30)- Waiting for Godot
2. ???Sun Ray Colors and Rainbow Images??? (10:16)- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Mars
3. ???Fragrance of Light??? (3:11)- Yosemite Sam Spits in His Cartoon Spitoon
4. ???Love Rhythms, Heart Songs??? (13:06)- Maynard G. Krebs Goes to College
5. ???Song of Humanity??? (4:30)- Kung Fu Episode #151: Grasshopper Meets Rooster Cogburn
6. ???Silver Dream Circle??? (7:13)- Bell, Book and Candle
7. ???The Caller and the Called??? (4:49)- Floaty McBoaty Groove Juice


Circle – “”Tower” Featuring Verde ” – [Last Visible Dog Records]

Jawbone   3/30/2007   A Library, CD

The sun rises over a Finnish fjord and the ice of a calving glacier sparkles, splintering the light into a thousand dazzling rays that mesmerize the mind into a trance-like state. The electric piano and percussion of Circle???s new ???Tower??? release evoke such mesmerization. Gone are the electric guitars, guttural vocals, space funk and sound effects of past Circle releases. This is layer upon layer of echoey keyboards over jazzy, subdued drums and sparkling percussion. Like Can on a slow day or Cluster and Eno on an upbeat day, or if Terry Riley were to sit in for Joe Zawinul in an early version of Weather Report, the music is hypnotic, jazzy, spacey and all instrumental. Melodies are not important. They float in and out on the layers of this brilliant release. Rarely does an album come up with a sound that is so unique and yet so familiar and keep up the cohesiveness and the interest for its entirety.

Joining Circle on this release is longtime collaborator Verde (Mika Rintala), multi-instrumentalist and electronic instrument inventor, seen waving his hand over his UFOX air humidifier theremin on the back cover.

Track titles are:

1. “Gerde” (6:40)
2. “Gatto” (4:25) tracks into>
3. “Gesterlund” (5:30)
4. “Geppanen” (13:00)
5. “Gaurilla” (5:24) tracks into>
6. “Gehtisalo” (9:08)

This is the New Wave of the ???New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal???.


Hay, Emily / Dutz, Brad / Peet, Wayne – “Emily Hay / Brad Dutz / Wayne Peet ” – [Pfmentum]

Thurston Hunger   3/30/2007   CD, Jazz

Nice concoctions from these three. KFJC has enjoyed earlier pfMentum
releases under each’s name in the past. Dutz’s “When Manatees Attack”
is still slaying away in our recent adds. Wayne Peet’s B3 had plenty of
outer and “Inner Funkdom.” Here Peet is often on piano and in numbers
like “Filthy Washer” he’s laying down contemplative netting for Hay’s
windy flute to gust through. And on “Metamorphafasize” he’s again slow
and subtle, questioning the notes while Hay this time is taking her
flute through enhanced sample and sustain modes. She is just great on
this, kind of like a Kali Fasteau muse…so creative, and an element
of persistent playfulness, she plays her own funny bone at times for
some rhytmic laughing. She even gets some Shelley Hirsch-like bubbling
up vocals on tracks like “A Lotta T’s” and “It Can Be Thick.” The
former has some theremin courtesy of Peet, and the latter features the
B3!! The tracks with Peet on that organ, really sink my battleship in
the best way, something about it pumps up the energy. All tracks really
are gorgeous, no one oversteps anyone, Hay seems to be on point, but
that may be just the fate of the flute and vocals, higher register grabs
more immediate notice. Dutz is probably the secret weapon here, cool
gongs, congas, steel drums! Again the B3 worked best for me, I think it
has a heaviness that contrasts better with the flighty flute. I do dig
some of the effects (electronic and “natural”) that Hay gets out of her
flute. A mighty mighty release. Double kudos to Peet for excellent
engineering on this as well.

-Thurston Hunger

English School of Funerary Violin, The [coll] – [Guild of Funerary Violinists]

Thurston Hunger   3/30/2007   A Library, CD

Tales from the cryptic crypt. Can something be a hoax, if there is more
truth in it than anything else? Does not death define life? A violinist
is ostensibly the most important member at a funeral. He stoicly serves
as graveside guide for those left behind to grieve; for those pushed
down (or is up or just away?) can the violinist somehow stir the soul
via the dormant ear with vibrations of bow and string…a few neurons
flash in an otherwise dead brain : “I remember it now……I was alive”
Even for us, the quick, upon hearing these grim crackly recordings from
composers, song so long gone they may have never existed…even now, we
hear the sweet bile of these funerary violins and think those same
thoughts. Remember…remember it now…listen hard to this, and you
can hear your own death. As you bow, so shall you weap.

-Thurston Hunger

See also :

Siege – “Drop Dead ” – [Deranged Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/30/2007   A Library, CD

1984 anti-Orwellian hardcore from this formidable Boston four piece. KFJC
has three of the tracks from back then on the “Cleanse the Bacteria”
comp, but everything here tears it up. Reissues have come and gone, but
Deranged evidently has contacted the members from this project that is
mythic but missing after this one official issue. Ripping bass, machine
gun drums and crushing guitar. Kevin Mahoney’s vocals are gripping, often
moving at cyclone speed. Once in a while he gets a pre-cookie monster
rasp going, but he shrieks fantastically and the quick-fire phrasing is
pretty remarkable. Lyrics are right-on-the-money too, glad that they
haven’t been completely swallowed/garbled as today they often are. He
chokes enough ire back to let the message still rise. “Starvation”
has plenty of food for thought, Life of Hate” I’m sure was shouted in
the blank eyes and ears of skinheads. “Sad But True” lines crosshairs
on a *peacekeeping* force. Often choruses are hammered in excellent
fashion…Rob Williams on drums is outstanding and note that he’s the
lyricist most of the time, probably too ticked off to even think about
singing his own songs…he turns that energy into a percussion pounding.
As ruling as the pissed-off punk is one the first eight tracks, the
epic closer “Grim Reaper” shows the lasting legacy of Siege. Mahoney
adds some reverbed sax contortions into the mix, a non-nihilist rage
against death! That track especially showcases the recording skill
of Lou Giordano on this. One nation, under “Siege.”

-Thurston Hunger

Morton, John – “Solo Traveler ” – [Innova/American Composers]

Thurston Hunger   3/30/2007   A Library, CD

Lullaby gamelan? Morton deconstructs music boxes and constructs music
back with them. The first track tacks on mbira and we get quick swipes
of the combs, full of tiny majesty and more recognizable music box
action. Track two, the title piece, features voices more prominently
in a swirl, nearing rounds at times circling perhaps to approximate
the path of the dragonfly of which they sing. “Ta-Wee” is a music
box in space, feels like satellites eavesdropping at the beginning
winds up in a computer whorl. Similarly, the music box pattern on
“Through the Wall” sounds like a gyroscope oscilloscope gradually
overlays it…less mindfully mingled than on “Ta-Wee.” Maybe that is
intentional. Then the piece de resistance, “Amazing Grace Variations”
at 16 1/2 minutes, it is no less than amazing, from its plaintiff
beginnings which quickly get corrupted and triple-lapped, then in
comes an injection of electronic fervor. Quite a jolt, the music
boxes then ricochet through loops and and deep listening phases where
you can almost feel the music box clicking through…these get dampened
in wave and in moisture it seems, heavy processing for a phase, if
the listeners once was lost, now that listener is lost squared. More
electronic reign…leading to icy drones that sound like bagpipes made
out of ice…then when all hope is almost gone, very mangled remnants
of the melody slowly clink out, there’s almost a bachelor pad phase
that comes up after that until finally at last we return to our
original state of “Grace.” Pretty weird in a good way, the album overall
avoids being a one-trick pony by way of Morton’s e-processing.

-Thurston Hunger

Valencia, Cant D’estil – Singing Contests [coll] – [Ocora | Radio France]

ArtCrimes   3/28/2007   CD, International

It???s ???American Idol??? as they do it in Valencia, Spain…competitive singing, done in the streets, with small backing groups. You can be overweight and plus-50 and still have a chance to win big time, as long as you can warble like a Valencian thrush. Men (Xiquet del Carme is a dude) and women both compete, and some tracks here are duets. The repertoire is limited to about 6 different backing themes (note the repetition of song titles), but the singing is mostly improvised, with lyrics made up by each performer about subjects ranging from what their nickname is, or how awful the parking is in Valencia, or ???let???s parteeeee???. The singing style is very florid and demanding, and there???s some jaw dropping moments here. The backing group, using guitar strums and brass instruments, hangs on tight, as each singer determines when the chords should change and when the song is over. (Track #13 is an instrumental interlude.)

American Primitive Vol. 2 [coll] – [Revenant Records]

ArtCrimes   3/28/2007   Blues, CD

50 great moments in recording history, ranging from blues, gospel, country, & jazz, to the just-plain-indescribable (one man band Tommy Settlers, for instance). Most folks here get 2-3 tracks each, and in some cases you can barely believe it???s the same artist. In collections like this, it???s always hard to pick the highlights, since many of these artists may not have recorded much more than what???s included here, but for immediate goose flesh, I direct you to The NuGrape Twins, Geeshie Wiley, Blues Birdhead & Mattie May Thomas. As in all Revenant products, this collection of Pre-War recordings is more than just old songs on CDs…the nicely-designed booklet not only has plentiful track info but also extensive historical and philosophical background into the project, and some great John Fahey anecdotes. For instance … John Fahey was obsessed with the past, to the extreme of releasing some of his recordings on 78s and then sticking copies into stacks of old records in thrift stores, sort of negative-shoplifting, in hopes of … well, we aren???t sure.

Forward Energy Trio – “FE3 Oakland ” – [Edgetone Records]

cujo   3/27/2007   CD, Jazz

This is the followup to their Where Are They? CD, except ‘they’ don’t include the guests from the earlier effort, and this is an all-instrumental all-improvized affair. Stephen Flinn on drums, Scott Looney inside and outside the piano, and Jim Ryan on winds. Most of this album has a pretty fantastic manic energy to it. Imagine it being the soundtrack to the ever-bustling basement Acme mailroom, with those cool pneumatic tubes and whatnot. The resulting music approaches mechanical motion – Looney’s tinkering and Flinn’s drums combined approach a fascinating Nancarrow-ian effect. I know it’s difficult to play that way on the piano, much less improvise it (much less on the drums or sax). The prime example is on track 9 of 10, Meatloaf. Unfortunately, Ryan’s flute that appears on a few tracks is really flat and energy-draining and retracts from my fullest endorsement of the album. Nevertheless – you try and keep up this energy and precision for 60 minutes.

Mush Mush! Forward Energy!

-Cujo, KFJC, March 2007

Weber, Reinhold – “Elektronische Musik ” – [Red Lounge Records]

Max Level   3/27/2007   A Library, CD

Two long compositions from the late 1960s, by this German pioneer of electronic music, influenced early on by the work of Stockhausen, among others. Pre-packaged synthesizers didn???t exist yet, so Weber made his sounds with hand-made combinations of oscillators, filters, modulators, tone generators, tape effects, and the like. Track 1, ???Sch??pfung???, alternates short, seemingly random sections of abstract electronica with deadpan German narration by actor Kurt M??ller-Graf. It would be interesting to know what he???s saying; does it relate to the electronic sounds, or is it a bunch of random thoughts? I much prefer the second track, ???Musica Mundana 1969???, which uses the same types of sounds as in the first track, but takes the time to develop them into a coherent composition, and it all hangs together pretty well. The material on this CD does seem a bit primitive by today???s sonic standards, but we have to remember these sounds were made 40 years ago and were pretty radical at the time.

Ignatz – “Ignatz II ” – [(K-RAA-K)3]

Thurston Hunger   3/22/2007   12-inch, A Library

A solid candidate for record of the year. Alien abduction blues! Trips
into the apocalypse! Finger-puckering brain-picking pluck, lightning
in a bong with a young man’s old toothless moan-a-long. Moody as
twilight, and tasting like lemon on your cut lips…this has a sting
that keeps bringing you back for more. Bram Devens is one krazy kat,
this meditations give me goosebumps and will raise more than a few
bluesmen from their graves so they can holler, “Now that’s what I
was talking ’bout, gawdammit!” There is one beautiful bliss-out
away from the stark sparks of the other tracks, “Hurling Incense” is
a sort of cycling cathedral of keyboards that rises in the sky to
clouds forming in the image of Terry Riley. But then its back into
the burn and churn with maybe the most raw of the cuts. I try to
follow his words at times, but the molten emotion just blots them
out before I can hold on to them. This is an album that will indeed
shake ’em all down… Behold the holiness of the big hurt.

-Thurston Hunger

Bey, Faruq Z. W/ Northwoods Improvisers – “Infa ‘a ” – [Qbico]

Thurston Hunger   3/22/2007   12-inch, Jazz

Qbico often has cool color-swirled vinyl, but this time it seems like
it’s mood-vinyl, a soothing and fervent green spins around the turntable
almost as an entrancing as this release itself. There are minor flashes
of red and blue and white…but the green is elemental and rich. This
supports the garden of sound cultivated here, Bey’s sax takes deep
roots, often shadowed and wrapped with brotherly vines from fellow
saxmen Mike Carey and Skeeter Shelton. Nick Ashton’s drums drop dewdrops
on all the players, moist with cymbals plenty. Mike Gilmore’s vibes
are what make this so green…so alive…hell they even make a track
called “Ethiopia” sound lush. That has a nice mystic run to it, and
in the latter half bassist Mike Johnston and Ashton get one of those
infinite grooves ala Parker and Drake going, magic carpet rise! Again
Gilmore is the sonic photosynthesis here..listen to him wrap up that
“Ethiopia” number. On the flipside we explore life on “After Death”
with Mike Carey communicating via kalimba and Bey slowly stirring
the song along. Again an almost Egyptian flare rises from the ashes,
if anyone stumbles on this review by way or searching jazz and Gilmore,
as Sun Ra built an Arkestra that took to the skies, in Detroit Faruq
Z. Bey and his Northwoods are in full bloom. Pristine earth soul jazz.

-Thurston Hunger

Malcolm, Greg – “Swimming In It ” – [(K-RAA-K)3]

Thurston Hunger   3/22/2007   12-inch, A Library

Malcolm Axes! His two previous albums on Corpus Hermeticum were supreme
and this one is pure enchantment. He covers a lot with texture this time
out, and a one-man band-style arsenal (i.e. he’s a guitarist who needs
his feet and this features at times a “floor guitar”). Malcolm delivers
a Popol Vuh style shimmer on much of this. The liner notes detail the
prepared nature of his adapted guitars (and a nice nod to luthier Peter
Stephens for his helping handicraft.) One of the first things that
stood out to me on the ‘Homesick for Nowhere’ release was his amazing
sustain, check out “Staring at the Sun” on this lp. Another thing early
on was his incrediball cover of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman”; he
returns here with another hornless Ornette number “Mob Job”. That gets
a sort of shanty side-step with occasional blare-beeps. In addition to
Ornette, Malcolm treats Greek, Armenian and Vietnamese melodies…a
sonic connoisseur in action, mingling ancient and modern alchemy. On
the liner notes, Malcolm proudly states no overdubs were used, but
still his real-time adaptations (of song and of instrument) do leave
a sense of shroud, a fantastic shroud. Axe-plore…

-Thurston Hunger

Back, Sven-Erik – “Electronic Music ” – [Fylkingen Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/22/2007   12-inch, A Library

Sven-Erik Back died in 1994 at the age of 75. This reissue revives some
of his work from the 1970’s. Sterling electronic constructions, at times
accompanied by spoken phrases…and even some tape samples peppered
in as well. Check out the “Hommage” track it seems like a sense of
whimsy is whisked into the synth vortex, and its title seems to be
aimed at the “grands faux-penseurs.” So while a lot of this music has
a sort of dark flavor to it, there may be lighter injections as well
that are slipping past us. Maybe that it what makes it so interesting to
me, there’s a deliberate effort to generate the sounds precisely, but a
playfulness is entwined with it. Kind of like a scientist in the lab,
NOT having to answer to his research sponsor. The sonic suite on side A
sounds like T.S. Eliot riffing on “time present and time past” caught
in the undertow of vox populi apoplectic (especially in “Parken”).
Reverbed emanations create pacifist percussion, not striking or harsh
but almost like a foreshadow to techno. Fans of Oskar Sala and Hans
Edler I think will like this…or if you are looking for something to
play while watching the old “Planet of the Apes” movies. “Murar” is
very gorgeous, has some deep canon thumps…dry diggling sounds, quick
shrill static bleeps and a wavery sine gluing it all together that
rises eventually we get more isolated sounds, the canon charges are
cloaked in squelch and drop into echo caverns building back to more
bleep crescendoing. “Orgelfjail” is a series of bionic chimes, square
wave harmonic scintillating…probably there is a puzzle to their
pattern. Outstanding reissue, from a label/organization that itself is
nearing 75 years young…reborn each year with experimentation and
creativity. Swedish sweetness!

-Thurston Hunger

Kuupuu – “Unilintu ” – [Dekorder]

Thurston Hunger   3/22/2007   12-inch, A Library

Strange electronic birds nesting in my ears. I’m cuckoo for Kuupuu.
Jonna Karanka’s voice is the feather bedding, it gets multi-tracked,
criss-crossed and stitched into the nest-ness. A decidedly lo-fi
fluffiness helps hoist the intimacy aloft. This feels like one of
the elements at time, a sweet mix of rain and sunshine with a breeziness
that makes these tunes feel more like sketches…or dreams even. They
are something sill in the process of becoming. This is the charm of
Kuupuu, she presents child-as-magi music built from simple instruments
and simple and pure melodies. All of the work here is culled from
other releases, insanely exclusive ones at that; but assembled together
a consistent flow appears and fills this vinyl. Bells ring in the
stream of these songs, brooks babble and Kuupuu’s voice babbles along
with it, guitars glide and everything floats. On “Taivaankotiin” her
river rises highest and hits the paramount, but the watermarks are
way up on all of this start to Finnish.

-Thurston Hunger

Los Llamarada – “Exploding Now, The ” – [S-S Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/22/2007   12-inch, A Library

Rant and roll from Mexico! That giant sucking sound ain’t NAFTA, it’s
the charged-up amplifiers creating a vacuum pushing this dense and driven
music out. The various flavors of lo-fi are on display here, from the
recorded-in-the-stomach-of-a-giant-that-ate-the-band-fi on “The Discovery”
to the mind-if-we-practice-in-your-mortuary-fi on “Je Sois.” Vocals
are often handled by “Estrella” and she is indeed a star rising, from
cooing to cuckoo to caterwauling. Sagan is mas macho, anguished vocals
when he’s at the microphone helm…swimming upstream against a torrent
of sound. He also brings gamma ray keyboards to a number of tracks!
The drummer, Danyhell, has issues…let’s hope he never works them
out…and instead continues to pursue fist therapy. Finally Johnny Noise
completes the squad with gooey, chewing guitar. The din of Los Llamarada
put a grin on this gringo. White vinyl never sounded so dirty.

-El Hombre del Hambre

Hop-Frog’s Drum Jester Devotional – “Bets Ov, Vol. 1 ” – [Urckarm Recordings]

Thurston Hunger   3/22/2007   A Library, CD

MIDI-Eastern music is a nice catch-phrase for this. Some of the samples
I recognized, the dance patterns too, I guess I’d call these three wise
men (and/or wise guys) from the burgeoning LA Hop-Frog Kollektiv proper
Born Djinn Again. Very infectious…Bryn Jones of Muslimgauze has had
an amazing (sadly post-mortem) career…but I think the promise of the
Hop-Froggers is to mix source/sample material with organic live
improvisations, and toss in an intriguing stage show, sprinkle in politics
as needed. Or maybe avoid if possible, dodging the exploit versus worship
fires, the sounds here are uplifting, even when the titles are maybe
more discouraged. Kind of a Genesis P. Orridge stirring of the pot.
Personally I LOVE those shrill bagpipes which are air-lifted into several
tracks. And who can’t agree with a battle cry of “Cherries (Bananas not
Bombs)…” is that an attempt to link the Runaways to Islam? The fruits
of these labors are tasty to my ears, and their beats put a postive slam
into Islam. The Urckarms race is coming to KFJC at the end of this month
for a visit, hopefully they’ll bring a large and varied entourage.

-Bob Hopefrog

Songs For Nao [coll] – [Chapter Music]

shiroi   3/22/2007   A Library, CD

Super cool collection of various low-fi-but-often-lots-going-on indie Japanese bands. Often with horns, acoustic guitars, tender female vocals and quirky male vocals. AMong my favorites are the lovely folk of “Swan” (#4), campfire style singalong if they invited a horn to go blat blat, which is “Lilac” (#6), male folk pop of “Stars” (#7), little girl style of ‘Summer Days” (#8), Shaggs meet grunge style of “Kilimanjaro” (#9), slow Bjork-ish folk of “Temperature of Windowside” (#10), female harmonica folk of “Good Night” (#11). These are all referring to song titles. #1 is not a Shaggs cover. Just Shaggs inc=fluenced. My Pal Foot Foot is the name of the band. Subarashii-no ongaku, sugoi! -Shiroi

Wilderness Pangs – “Indivisible Squalor of Wilderness Pangs, The ” – [Apocalypse The Apocalypse]

sailordave   3/22/2007   A Library, CD

Wilderness Pangs offer 11 songs that take a peek into several musical genres.
Hailing from Louisiana these four take some time but eventually get there.
MAGIC BULET is 24 seconds long so be aware playing track one.
A SUITCASE THEIF takes off and jams.
I SHOT MY FAVORITE HORSE has a country flair
Tracks 8 and 9 are shorter and differ from the prior three tracks
MOUNTAIN BOMB is short and dark.
STOLEN LOGIC has almost a hip hop sound
My favorite track and the one I would highly recommend is
track 10 MS. SMITH.. it starts with what sounds like a bong hit and ends with a full court press into your ear canal.
LISTEN and you too will feel the WILDERNESS PANGS..