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Music Reviews

Uske Orchestra / Gorge Trio [coll] – [Ache Records]

Max Level   7/31/2007   7-inch, A Library

Ache???s series of split 7-inches continues, this time pitting Usk?? Orchestra (Belgium) against Gorge Trio (USA). A scattered sort of randomness is the common element between the two tracks; what they each do with it is completely different. Usk?? uses piano, guitar, wordless vocals, tuned percussion, and what seems to be a lot of production effects to make a collage-style piece. They find a beat about a minute and a half into the track, then misplace it after another 30 seconds or so. Gorge???s track is pretty straightforward, with two guitarists and a drummer taking a random, U.S. Maple kind of approach to song construction. Usk?????s side is more involved and complex, while the Gorge side has a more immediate, ???roll the tape and let???s go??? feel.

Red Voice Choir – “a Thousand Reflections ” – [Atakra Productions]

ophelia necro   7/26/2007   A Library, CD

Debut release from 2 members of Oakland’s “Black Ice” (Miss Kel on vox and keyboard with husband Kevin Brown on drums), Dawn Hillis on bass and Adam Beck of on vox and guitar. 6 songs, all under 5 minutes. Creepy lyrics written by Miss Kel and Adam. Miss Kel’s voice and style is reminiscent of Siouxsie. Also brings to mind Echo and the Bunnymen. Synth-punk with an orchestrated prog/art rock vibe. No bad language.

Artanker Convoy – “Cozy Endings ” – [The Social Registry]

loun   7/24/2007   A Library, CD

It all starts slowly. Very, very slowly…

I never noticed her approach. I don’t know how I could have missed it, but I did. She was just there, an anthropomorphization of a pink pair of panties, floating in the air in front of me. I knew exactly what to say.

“Uuuuuuh.”

“Hello!” She was unduly chipper. I wanted to sit on my bed, listening to this music. That’s all I wanted. I was doomed to more than that. “How are you today?”

“Ummmm… OK.” My wits kicked in. “Do I know you?”

“Don’t you remember me?” The panties bobbed in front of me, seemingly agitated. “Well, it has been a while…”

“Since?” This conversation was not going anywhere I wanted to be, if I actually wanted to be anywhere.

The band brings things together, but not closely, as if they were obsessed with protecting each other’s personal space.

“Well, I think the last time I saw you was that summer picnic so many years ago. You had grown so big!” I shrugged. It had been a long time since I stopped growing big and started growing fat. She gave me that sweet sideways smile again. “You remember your Uncle Joe?”

Uncle Joe was only whispered about anymore, and that rarely. I tried to remember what they’d say. “Uncle Joe…”

The band swells just a little, like during the openings of one of those stage rock megasongs that was maybe a grand composition, maybe just a way to chew up a side of vinyl.

She bobbed even more. “Well, the divorce was pretty messy, so I understand if you don’t want to talk about it.” She calmed a little, then raised herself up – errr… floated higher. “I was,” she dips a little, raises up again, “I am, your auntie!”

I stared. Not at her, not at the wall, not at anything. I just stared. “Auntie…”

“Yes!” She beamed, “Auntie Panty!”

A clarinet, sounding like 90’s squonk jazz, but lighter, breathy, wanders into the mix. The sound is still light, barely composed. It makes a nice background for our conversation.

“Auntie…,” I couldn’t get it all out. You’d think I would have remembered this. I can’t recall seeing her before, and now she won’t go away.

“So how have you been keeping yourself?” She swayed now, seemingly at ease. “How’s your love life been?”

I blanched. To discuss that… with… “Uhhhh…..”

She rose a little higher. “Oh, you don’t have to tell me… yet. I know it may take you a while to get used to me being around again. I’ll give you plenty of time!”

Plenty…?

She floated down a little at last, now below my eye level, and gave me that sideways smile again. “I’ll be going now. See you real soon!” With that, she floated out my bedroom door, and, somehow, closed it behind her.

Soon…

The band kept going for a long time, delicately keeping on without really going anywhere. Just like me.

N.R.A. – “N.R.A. ” – [FREE103POINT9]

Max Level   7/24/2007   A Library, CD

Percussion-based improv recorded live in 2004, with an unusual trio lineup: Tatsuya Nakatani brings his varied assortment of drums, cymbals, singing bowls, etc., Vic Rawlings is on amplified cello and electronics, and Ricardo Arias plays what he calls a bass-balloon kit, an assemblage of balloons on the large side that make low noises when he hits them; he gets other tones as well by bowing them and rubbing them with styrofoam, among other techniques. This is a recording of their entire 40-minute set, broken down into smaller pieces that all track together. Nakatani is subtle and creative as usual; his style is not about beats, it???s about color and texture. Rawlings plays his cello mostly like a percussion instrument, and also adds some high, grating electronic noises. I like many of the sounds and combinations of sounds here (particularly the low rumbling stuff) but can???t say that I have as much tolerance for the shrill electronic noises often heard in the mix.

Bratenstucke [coll] – [Dom Elchklang]

loun   7/24/2007   A Library, CD

Dom Elchklang offers up their 15th anniversary compilation, in which they ask, by way of almost their entire stable of artists (with the notable exception of Moose without a Sofa), why the bloody hell after 15 years we only have two of their titles in our library. Kinda like sonically jumping up and down on our heads wearing spike heels and screaming, “WHY NOT??!! WHY? WHY? WHY?”. Yeah, it’s like that, and we’re like total bitches for sonic spike heels, squirming with pleasure and muttering about how naughty we’ve been. Frankly, they have a point – we should give this label more respect.. The artists collectively have a definite Dom Elchklang sound, yet individually have excellent variety. Most importantly, it has Korea Soundblaster on it. You already love it, you just haven’t heard it yet.

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum – “In Glorious Times ” – [End Records, The]

cadilliac margarita   7/24/2007   A Library, CD

spooky, Theatrical , and Grand goth metal from this oakland based band that features 5 members that play such instruments as xylophone, toy piano, eletric pacreas, nyckelharpa, sledgehamer-dulcimer, and good old fashisoned guitar. Dedicated to the memory of founding member, Per “wa d C. picnic” Frykdahl, his influence is found in the artwork of the packaging to the funny phone messages he left that are included at various points throughout the disc. There are male and female vocals, that give added character to an already unique release. This is circus freak fun for the whole family!

Scheinman, Jenny – “12 Songs ” – [Cryptogramophone]

cadilliac margarita   7/24/2007   CD, Jazz

Instrumental Jazz Disc that goes from meloncholy sexiness to ill-advised jam band stuff to Dancey sounding. All in all not bad, but the jam band stuff isn???t my favorite. 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, and 11 were what I liked the most.

People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz – “Perpetuum Mobile ” – [Soleilmoon Recordings]

cadilliac margarita   7/24/2007   A Library, CD

Weird and wonderful release here. The two musicians, Ergo Phizmiz and People like us (aka Vicki Bennett) would send their recordings back and forth to one another and the result is so fantastically chaotic that they admit to forgetting who did what. There is so much randomness here, it’s hard to believe that it has cohesiveness or flow, but that is exactly what I felt when listening to the disc. It is the psyschotronix of cd’s, really. There are so many hidden treasures and odd moments. It is whimsical and kitschy, fun and frolicy. Some of the songs actually find the beat while others avoid it like the plague. Bird chirps, sound bites, kid voices, tin cans, percussive beats, Mozart samples, classic soundtracks, banjo picking, bells and whistles, accordions um pa pa’s, organ music, bossa nova, eartha kitt and singing in the rain. lounge music and total nonsense. Like a demented cinematic dream or Disneyland on acid. This must be heard to be believed!

Maps – “We Can Create ” – [Mute Records]

cadilliac margarita   7/24/2007   A Library, CD

Mellow yet energizing debut from the U.K???s James Chapman off mute records. This is very pleasant and easy to listen to electronic pop/ rock. Vocals are floaty and match the overall tone of the disc nicely. The lyrical content feels meditaional and so does the music at times. Breathe deeply and map out your course. Note language on track 6.

Emperor X – “Central Hug / Friendarmy / Fractaldunes (and the Dreams…) ” – [Discos Mariscos]

loun   7/23/2007   A Library, CD

Emperor X, the stage name for Chad Matheny (and sometimes some of his friends) , emerges from his bedroom with a broken Tascam 388 and eleven musically unsophisticated tracks infused with the pungency of simple honesty. The Emperor pushes most of his equipment, already hovering on the verge of death, and himself to the brink, then sings and dances for a while before heaving the equipment over the brink to keep himself from falling in. Your favorites may not be the same as mine, but you’re bound to have at least one. Lose yourself for two to five minutes at a time.

Melnyk, Lubormyr – “KMH ” – [Unseen Worlds]

loun   7/23/2007   A Library, CD

Lubomyr (don’t call him “Bud”) Melnyk is one of those brilliant-to-the-point-of-insanity types that always makes us happy, should they choose a career in music. Lubomyr is obsessed with the role of the audience, assigning us a role as important as the musician or the instrument. It is only due to his then-burgeoning curiosity in the use of recording equipment (the utility of which he originally vehemently denied) that this recording (which, oddly, does not appear on his official website) was ever made. This is Continuous Mode Piano, which is simple arpeggio repition, or, if you have the ears to hear it, a brilliant and subtle interplay of overtones. Even the critics disagreee, and it is noteworthy (and brutally ironic) that the man who maintained that modern recording techniques could lose the spirit of a piece is dogged by critics who apparently can’t find the spirit in his work. Can you find it? Even if you can’t, it’s worth a listen.

Knell – “Last Ten Meters ” – [Utech]

loun   7/23/2007   A Library, CD

The soundtrack for glacial drift. Days, or years (centuries?) pass by with each pensive strum of the guitar strings, while found sounds embody the slow, overwhelming stress of ice on ice. Excellent for deep in the night or to bring the tempo way, waaaay down. Frenchman Johannes Buff debuts in fine style with two long lovely tracks with which to while away a pleasant hour, or to burn through a black rage – this is surprisingly apropos for both.

Saints – “Saints ” – [Self Released]

cinder   7/20/2007   A Library, CD

Jason and Sean make intense crunchy electronic mass destruction in Goleta, California. Four songs recorded live in 20 minutes, ranging from quick and easy to
long and torturous…in a good way. Hidden distorted vocals, pulsing waves, throbbing death marches, brain scans gone wrong. If you listened to a uterus each month, you’d hear Saints rippin’ it up. Ha! Painful and beautiful “power electronics” for sure!
-cinderaura

Vladimir Cosma – ???Insolite and Co.??? – [Musique pour L’image]

Chesus   7/20/2007   A Library

Take a journey through a deserted ghost town previously inhabited by moody tropical islanders while riding on whispy xylophones and being chased by re-animated flute players. Become part of the evil that destroyed this town by floating through its streets and seeking out its treasures hidden amongst the dusty sidewalks and worn out street signs. Be careful not to fall under the lazy spirits influence or you may just become one.

Accomplished french movie score composer Vladimir Cosma creates the feel of lament for necessary evils with almost every piece on this release. Not a very busy or structured release. Indigestible, haunty, jazzy, & tropical, the tracks feel like they would be right at home in an independent movie about abused aliens.

tracks 6, 10 jazzy
track 8 haunted music box
last track (12) dismal funeral sound
as for the rest of the tracks.. see above

Brothers (Soderqvist, Johan) – “Brothers ” – [Milan Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/19/2007   CD, Soundtrack

This CD version of the soundtrack prominently features the
so-so song “”When I’m Coming Home” which in fact just wraps
up the film. But the score itself is what I found compelling,
whereas a song tries to put too pat a package on complexity.
The film itself is a searing study of sibling love and
sibling distrust, involving heavy collateral damage coming
out of war. Thus the emotional tone of the film is often
raging and blaring, and this soundtrack composed by Johan
Soderqvist was needed to reign in, rather than heighten the
impact of some of those moments. It does so sublimely, where
the film battles, Soderqvist wages a sonic peace between icy
Danish resolve and wafting Afghani aromas. Check out the
theme used in “Brothers”, “Afghanistan” and “The Letter”, a
galloping melody that could be nyckleharp, but also takes a
turn on Ahmet Tekbilek’s oud. Many other moments feature
sweetly sulking, floating guitar not far from Loren Mazzacane
but blurred in blue hues. Check the “Sarah & Micheal” cuts.
Again, Sodervist provides a calming vibe to assuage the
agitation that rises in the film. The pizzicato plucking of
nylon guitar and/or harp throughout is another soft promise
of perhaps some hope, even when the film soldiers on past
points of no return. The film and the soundtrack are both
excellent, albeit quite different like the Brothers featured!
Outstanding on both accounts…

-Thurston Hunger

Sudden Infant – “Invocation of The Aural Slave Gods ” – [Blossoming Noise]

Thurston Hunger   7/19/2007   A Library, CD

Everything about this release seems to slap me silly with a
symbolic rubber chicken. The Cosmic Joke holds forth, I look
for well over a year for Sudden Infant releases in reputable
(and preferrably disreputable) record stores, find nothing…
so I contact Senor Sudden Infant who puts me in touch with
the chief gardener at Blossoming Noise who dropped two CDs
at KFJC weeks before in the mitts of the Dominic Trix-ter.
In holding this release, I have the epiphany that the band
name carries with it an implied Death Syndrome (keeping
in merciless murderous manner of too many noise bands) but
then I learn I am wrong as can be, it deals with the man
behind the mixer being dealt a parent card much earlier on.
Sudden Infant bringing a sea-change in his proto punk
career. And toss in Aleister Crowley artwork (oh man
that brings back a weak Page in the old Zep attic).

But the hell with all of that, the Joke Lanz is upon me,
and this is a fantastic noise release that is not by the
numbers in any way, shape or deform. The cuts that feature
Annie Stubbs’ voice are stellar, something about her sonic
presence complements Lanz so well. The initial track a
hypnotic beckoning into the audio inferno is shattering.
“Angelic Agony” burns first and then is a backwardsy and
beautiful spin on the power of a canine golden shower? A
dog of another sort (Cerberus?) turns up panting on “In
The Palm of Darkness.” Annie gets some white-knuckle
screaming going on “Putrified Puppet Master” and “Tandoori
Chicken Scooter II,” on the latter Joke provides a beat
that sounds like someone punching a pumping heart. “Nag
Nag Nag” could be the best punk song ever if it wanted to.
“Sonic Claustrophobia” is a nice showcase of Joke’s sense
of headphone headfun. “The Serpent and the Rainbow” is a
soft zombie wading in water, “Monks of Venus” shows that
transcendental meditation can also *cause* violence. If
Roxy Music fans make it to the end, they’ll be pleased by
the closing cover but only if they go through and enjoy
the variation of this entire album. There’s a lot of
breadth and breaths here…I’m hard-pressed to pin down
why this strikes me as a work of genius, but it sure as
hell does strike me. Again and again…please.

Don’t make me beg…

Okay…I’ll beg.

As tremendous as this is, something tells me babysitting
the Sudden Infant for *live* performance tops it all!

-Thurston Hunger

Inca Ore With Lemon Bear’s Orchestra – “Birds In The Bushes, The ” – [5RC]

Thurston Hunger   7/19/2007   A Library, CD

Deranged do-dos with rattling ray-rays and screaming mi-mis
over jumping fa-fa beans for a much more than so-so soiree
with plenty of la-la-ti-ti-dah. Recorded in Oregon at the house
featured in the artwork (tinted to make it look like it is
built of assorted scrap metals?) This album does have a lot
of clang und sturm, and Cape Meares in Oregon does look like
a place that is jutting out at the elements, taunting them.
Those elements here come through with gusty flute, percussion
that sounds like the wind blowing metallic shingles off the
house, and the scream-singing could be a response to the howl
coming off the less-than-Pacific ocean. Inca Ore (Eva Saelens)
and her trusty/tasty sidekick Lemon Bear are the orchestra
with four guest ghosts slipping in between the cracks. Their
jalopy-fi that should appeal to freakier side of the freak folk
following, or for Sun City Girl lovers sadly eclipsed by the
death of the mighty Charles Gocher. Definitely a kitchen-sink
tinkering release, “1950’s Beatnik Poetry” has a music box
battling mattress springs, with spiral guitar strafing. Inca’s
shriek adds to the mystique, Lemon Bear tends to be the gruffer
billy goat, goading the listener on “I Will Kill You.” “Metal
Storm” pits angry fog horn versus the aforementioned swinging
shingles…sounds like some hit a buzzsaw pachinko. Piano
shows up in spots, off its medication and in a forlorn funk.
Noisy fun, but safety goggles may help some.

-Thurston Hunger

Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet & Ne Zhdali – “Pollo d’Oro ” – [No Man’s Land]

Thurston Hunger   7/19/2007   A Library, CD

1998 release following a meeting of the musical minds, a
Seattle slew of saxistas join Estonian tone stoners led by
Leonid Soybelman. KFJC’ers might recognize Soybelman from
his Kletka Red releases, with his great flat-tire guitar
which shows up here striving to bend brittly around corners.
The corners from the quartet though are mostly smooth, and
well-rounded. At times they meet for a sort of European
clown dance jazz, but when people sing (or better just
cavort), things take on a more maniacal beauty. Something
about the air of “Kansas” captures that kraziness at its
best. When the Tiptonians taunt the bassist with faux wah
wah’s before Leonid gets his chicken pecking guitar out,
while I could see some people disliking it, I dig it every
time. For similar reasons, “Argonauts” with its chicken
adulation and checkered sonics also pleased my palate.
Vadim Veeremaa and superhero Amy Denio soar on that track.
“Wheel of Fortune” teaches some exotic bird (Denio?) to surf.
Soybelman really is a great guitarist, as a singer he sounds
kinda like a talking cigarette (see “Uke” and “No Moon, No
Sun” here…both nice). Tracks 7 and 8 are just sketches
and #11 is an outtake, actually two that have a lot silence
in it…so beware. Evidently this was a hasty meeting brought
about by a grant; their energies are well-matched…and they
deserved a second date. KFJC needs to score more Ne Zhdali;
a killer rhythm section of bassist Oleg Davidovitch/drummer
Vitaly Redchits perk up a lot of the tracks.

-Thurston Hunger

Project Bicycle [coll] – [Ache Records]

loun   7/18/2007   A Library, CD

What happens when you take a short track of sounds recorded from a bicycle and pass it around a group of sample freaks? Good things, man, good things. The inside of the “booklet” (really a poster) contains lots of pro-cycling chatter, and the packaging ain’t green by coincidence, but it’s really about the musical qualities of the bike, and the wild things these DJs turn it into. It’s crunchy, textured beat beat tastiness with plenty of track to track variety. The final track is the original sample that every other track (except, as clearly noted, track 12) was composed entirely from, so you can make your own track, should you so choose. Drop it in and turn the samplitude to 11!

Horton, Robert – “Winter Suite ” – [New American Folk Hero Recordings]

loun   7/17/2007   A Library, CD

If I ever find myself in Belize, I hope I have this disc with me… and a waterproof CD player. These are the sounds I want in my ears when I dive the Blue Hole – a deep, mysterious, all-too-brief soundtrack for a deep, mysterious, all-too-brief dive. Robert’s music floats lazily over the chasm of noise, contained by reefs (riffs) of structured music with an incongrously geometric aspect.

OK, I’ve beaten that metaphor to death. Hell, it deserved it. This disc deserves listening. Much, much listening. You can try to burn it into your brain, but it will slip away, floating into the depths… Aaaah! Zombie metaphor! Take that! Die! Die! Die! . OK, I think I’m

*SKLORTCH*