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Music Reviews

Tokyo Flashback Vol.1- P.S.F. Psychadelic Sampler

MSTiZA   12/30/2007   A Library

Released in 1991, this collection starts off the invasion of the Japanese Psychadelic Rock tsunami. In it’s line up are the following psych gods: Keiji Haino(FUSHITSUSHA, ), Naohiro Yoshimoto(VERZERK), Jutok Kaneho (d.1/24/07, KOUSUKUYA), Ikuro Takahashi(KOUSUKUYA, HIGH-RISE, FUSHITSUsHA), Ken Matsutani(MARBLE SHEEP). From the bowels of avant garde emerged a raw and exciting scene from Japan. These recordings reflect a surrealist trajectory into the cosmic quotient. It is a timeless and priceless collection of this genre’s emergence head strong into the future of music, art, and space. Within the confines of cd technology we can fully explore and appreciate the processes that set Japan apart from the world and laid it’s carbon thumb print on the aural-sphere.

Behrens, Marc & Paulo Raposo – “Hades ” – [and/OAR]

Nozmo King   12/30/2007   A Library, CD

Collaborative field recordings recontextualized into a four part phonography travelogue spanning 2001???2005 realized in Spain and Portugal at the quays of Cais do Sodr?? and aboard ferry boats. Originally intending to record indepdently, but being fascinated with the same environmental and mechanical sounds, the pair redirected their efforts together, conceiving their travels as symbolic of crossing the mythic river Styx to enter Hades. Following several shifts in texture and dimension, this recording joins together delicate, quiet moments and an equally hypnotic stratum of carefully arranged dronechaos.
???Nozmo King

Kent, Julia – “Delay ” – [Important Records]

Max Level   12/30/2007   A Library, CD

Cello music for the emotionally weary traveler. Solo overdubbed pieces by Julia Kent, cellist with Antony & The Johnsons, ex-Rasputina and other collaborations. Downbeat music inspired by airports and that strange combination of anticipation and endless waiting air travelers are subjected to; the disorienting feeling of being in transition yet going nowhere. Delay. What is there but time to reflect and contemplate and question? Kent plays all of the parts herself on these lovely, melancholy, classically influenced compositions, displaying her talents as composer, arranger, and player. Short passages of found sound from airports around the world inhabit the spaces between some of the music tracks. Listen to this music and be alone with your thoughts.

Ultralyd – “Conditions For a Piece of Music ” – [Rune Grammofon]

Max Level   12/30/2007   A Library, CD

Not exactly a change in direction for this formidable Norwegian outfit, however this time out there is a definite drift toward a more spacious, ambient sound. We are reminded occasionally of the squealing sax, rampaging guitar, roaring bass, and power drumming that the band made its name with, but the focus here is more on atmospheric sounds that seem unrelated to instrumental prowess. Some tracks feature simple drum beats and repeating figures flavored with other elements (are those bowed strings? is that a spaced-out vibraphone?). Other tracks have little to do with music or rhythm and probably fit into the soundscape category. The whole thing is presented in a highly reverberative environment which helps tie it all together. The band’s advanced sense of abstract cohesiveness is evident throughout the record. A very rewarding listen. All Instrumental.

Seven Lies About Girls – “Shit to Kill: I Fuck Electric ” – [Teen Action]

cinder   12/19/2007   A Library, CD

Six different and challenging tracks, from 7LAG out of
Columbus Ohio. Ranging from muffled fire gun and
rifle shots, straight along drone outs, psycho dying
hip hop organs, beeping bent electronic heartbeats,
and pling plonging metal bars. It???s like the flea circus gone
evil and kitty likes it. Handmade felt covers for each

Diotte, Braden – “Six Recursions ” – [Self Release]

cinder   12/19/2007   A Library, CD

Bassist from Tarantula Hawk gets static-y on this solo
release, Six Recursions. Six different radio
frequencies, along with clips, loops and computers,
this was performed live in San Diego. Twisting it all
together, improvized style, he, along with the
audience, didn’t know what was to come next. Short
channels of metal, soul?, jazz?, leak through the
floating classical ambient tones, crunching fax
crashes, looped narrational voices, laptop smashes,
and mid-frequency buzzes. It’s like having 6
different KFJC shows on all that same time! All
tracks 6 minutes long, of course.

Cox, Doug & Salil Bhatt W/ Ramkumar Mishra – “Slide to Freedom ” – [Northern Blues Music]

Jawbone   12/19/2007   A Library, CD

Recorded in the hayloft of a barn on the Canadian prairie on a summer’s day by three Indian musicians and a Canadian dobro player, “Slide to Freedom” is an odd mix of Indian classical music and Mississippi delta blues. Three tracks (1, 4 & 7) include vocals (two being Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Willie Johnson standards and one Doug Cox original), five tracks are instrumentals in the Indian classical vein.

Doug Cox plays slide resophonic guitar on this release. Salil Bhatt and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt play satvik veena and mohan veena, respectively. These instruments were invented by their players, but have become established enough to be added to the list of Indian classical instruments. Each resembles an archtop hollow bodied guitar with f-holes, but have 19 strings total (3 melody, 4 drone and 12 sympathetic, give or take).

Just like the breeze on the summer day when it was created, the music floats light as air, waving by like the amber wheat on the wind. The playing is excellent. The Bhatts (father and son) are stunning musicians and Cox does his best to keep up. They’re backed tastefully by Ramkumar Mishra on tabla.


Niles, John Jacob – “I Wonder As I Wander ” – [Tradition]

ArtCrimes   12/19/2007   CD, Country

John Jacob Niles ???I Wonder as I Wander: Carols and Love Songs???

Niles had a long career, some 30 years or more, devoted to the discovery and transformation of traditional song, mostly from the Appalachians, but also drawing on British and French sources. Using his eerie, wailing voice and his homemade mountain dulcimer, he ends up sounding very little like the plain folk that he learned some of these songs from, and more like something he???d invented all on his own ??? something a bit like what Tim Buckley would be doing much later, with his expressive, jazzlike phrasing. The highly stylized vocals make it difficult to tell a traditional song from one of his own compositions, and in some cases they are hybrids, with new verses written to expand a fragment of traditional verse. This would prove to be influential for folk artists to come, including Bob Dylan, who often used traditional song as raw material for his own inventions.

Roche, Brisa “Takes” (Discograph) CD

ophelia necro   12/18/2007   A Library

The second release from American/Parisian beauty Brisa Roche. 15 tracks, all in English (the debut had both French and English). Band Members are:Brisa Roche, Jeff Hallam, Pierre Fruchard, Fred Fortuny, Franck M’Boueke, Nick Zinner, Philippe Rigal and Sebastian Buffet. A lot of instrumentation here…ocarina, harmonica, tambourine, electric, acoustic and bowed bass, wurlizter, rhodes, hammond L100, melotron, piano, electric and acoustic guitar, drums, vibraphone, etc. Brisa describes the album as ” Druggy-NY-meets-folky-Westcoast-pop-with-psychedelia-and-Brittish theatrics” with a bit of a 60s/70s SF feel to it (cue tambourine, hand clapping, etc). Her voice is very dreamy, the music is mellow and floaty, incorporating layers of harmony. There is a lot more arranging and composing going on with this release (than in the debut CD) and the variety of instrumentation is really impressive. All songs were written by Brisa. The artwork inside the package are self-portraits done by Brisa as well. What can’t this woman do? Her band is currently touring in France, the live band members are: Brisa, Pirzo on drums, Lena Deluxe on keys, Jay in Space on guitar and Richard Horon on bass.

Brass Kings, The – “Brass Kings, The ” – [Dream Horse Records]

Jawbone   12/17/2007   CD, Country

Steve Kaul & the Brass Kings are a Country Blues Americana minimalist trio, featuring resonator guitar, washboard and washtub bass. All that???s missing is the laundry soap. Seriously though, released in 2006, this is first full length from the Minneapolis, Minnesota trio. It starts out with a serviceable version of ???Muleskinner Blues??? that picks up steam as it goes. Luckily, Kaul doesn???t attempt a yodel with his dark, growling voice.

???Rural Methlab Blues??? (track 2) brings an interesting perspective to cooking crank. An educated loser and his aimless girlfriend catch word that the law is on its way to their little hideaway, so they decide to blow the shack sky high on their way out.

There???s a couple of nice instrumentals (tracks 4 & 13) and a lot of dark, brooding songs about the American experience. The sound is akin to Kevin Welch and the stories are along the lines of James McMurtry???s, but Kaul doesn???t quite have the talent of those two gentlemen. He does, however, add some Middle Eastern flourishes to the music, which gives the trio a unique sound. Not to mention that washtub bass, washboard and resonator guitar is not a very common lineup these days, either.


Hwang, Jason Kao/ Park, Sang Won – “Local Lingo ” – [Flying Panda Records]

Jawbone   12/17/2007   CD, International

Violinist, composer and educator Jason Kao Hwang, has recently written a chamber opera, ???The Floating Box- A Story In Chinatown???. He is the former front man of the Far East Side Band and has worked with Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Butch Morris, Reggie Workman and William Parker. He was born in Waukegan, Illinois.

Korean Sang-Won Park plays the kayagum and ajeng (two types of Korean zither: one bowed, one plucked) and sings. He has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Henry Kaiser, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Bill Laswell. He makes his living by operating two flower shops in New York City.

The unfortunately titled ???Local Lingo??? brings the two of them together to forge an interesting sound that at times reminds me of a tuxedoed concert violinist being mocked by a Neanderthal playing a cello with a club. Other times, the sound is much more sophisticated and Eastern. The difference is the kayagum, a 12-stringed plucked zither and the ajeng, a 6-stringed zither bowed with a resined stick. The sound of the bowed zither is like fingernails on a chalkboard. The stick, instead of sliding smoothly like a conventional horsehair bow, drags and skips across the strings. At times it sounds humorous, other times annoying, so needless to say I prefer the plucked zither tunes, which are tracks 2 & 3. Track 3, ???Grassy Hills???, the longest track at 15:07, is the best and well worth a listen.


Chaurasia, Hariprasad – “Maestro of The Indian Flute ” – [Times Square Records]

Jawbone   12/16/2007   CD, International

Hariprasad Chaurasia (Ha-RIP-ra-sod Char-AYSH-ya) is a master of the bansuri, or North Indian bamboo flute. His predecessor, Pannalal Ghosh raised the instrument from the folk level to the classical repertoire. Chaurasia perfected the performance of the instrument in the classical realm, then began to explore outward, encompassing other genres. Eventually, he settled back into the tradition of Indian classical raga form.

This collection spans the years 1967-1995 and includes both traditional and nontraditional works. The first disc includes the ???Innovations??? or explorations into other genres and features some western instrumentation, like guitar. Track 2 includes guitar and some sort of bass-like instrument, and is the only track that sounds a little cheesy for my taste. The other tracks of the two discs are all excellent. Disc two contains all ???Traditional??? or classical pieces. It???s great to hear an instrument not familiarly heard in Indian music. And it???s played with such dexterity and finesse. Chaurasia truly is a phenomenal musician and he knows when to take a back seat and let other musicians shine, too. A great collection, with tracks running from 5 to 30 minutes.


D’silva, Amancio – “Konkan Dance ” – [Qbico]

ArtCrimes   12/16/2007   12-inch, Jazz

Amancio D???Silva ???Konkan Dance???

Amancio D???Silva was born in India, learning guitar by listening to American jazz greats on Voice of America. He moved to London in 1967. The recordings here, recorded in 1972 but not released at that time, were from his last sessions with producer Denis Preston, who assembled some of Britain???s best regarded jazz players (such as Stan Tracey) to work with D???Silva. Although there is some use of Indian instruments here, the overall sound is what we would come to call (with some apprehension) fusion, with rock, jazz, and Indian flavors stirred together. There???s a lot of sax and flute, solid and sometimes funky keyboards, and plenty of D???Silva???s guitar work on electric and acoustic, sounding a bit like Jamaican Ernest Ranglin. There are 4 lengthy tracks here, each one quite distinct from the others, with the last adding some rockish distortion.

Melodii Tuvi: Throat Songs and Folk Tunes From Tuva [coll] – [Dust-To-Digital]

ArtCrimes   12/16/2007   CD, International

Melodii Tuvi: Throat Songs and Folk Tunes From Tuva

16 tracks recorded in 1969 for release in the USSR demonstrating a variety of throat singing styles and folk songs from Tuva, a mountainous area which was annexed into the USSR in 1944. The Tuvan lifestyle is largely nomadic and the songs are often sung by herders, intended to calm their livestock. The result suggests Cowboy music for the Tuvan prairies, with that wide open lonesome sound. Throat singing is also heard in Mongolia and Tibet, but the Tuvans are known worldwide for their singing styles, with festivals and institutes dedicated to this tradition. Some tracks are vocals only, some have instrumental backing, and several tracks near the end are instrumental ensemble pieces. The booklet has history on the styles and best-known performers.

Higuchi, Hisato – “Butterfly Horse Street ” – [Family Vineyard]

Jawbone   12/12/2007   A Library, CD

At times a haunted hush; other times feedback frenzy, Hisato Higuchi delivers an album of solo electric guitar with occasional voice. ???Butterfly Horse Street??? is the former puppeteer???s fourth release (second to the station). Tokyo based Higuchi comes off as a sedate Grant Green stroking slow jazz chords, then breaks into Hendrix-like feedback when you least expect it. His voice, a high whisper shows up occasionally humming along. Nice for beds, for layering and as a main course.


Connors, Loren – “As Roses Bow: Collected Airs 1992-2002 ” – [Family Vineyard]

Jawbone   12/11/2007   A Library, CD

Loren MazzaCane Connors, guitar improviser: purveyor of avant-garde blues, experimental jazz, noise, drone, folk, and on this collection, Irish airs. Inspired by blind 18th century harpist O???Carolan and released in 2007, ???As Roses Bow??? is a 2 CD set of melodic miniatures culled from 10 albums, recorded between 1992 and 2002. These pieces flowed forth from Connors, ???I never had to labor over their completion. They seemed to just be there in me???, he has said. They are simple, pure and achingly beautiful.

Connors??? wife Suzanne Langille provides vocals on four selections (A2, A4, A8 & A17), the rest are instrumental electric guitar.

Over his lengthy career he has recorded under numerous names: Loren MazzaCane, Loren Mattei and Guitar Roberts and has released over 50 records. Connors was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1992 and is still performing and recording in 2007.

Standouts: A3,10,14,16,18,B3,9,13,18,19,20.


Hrsta – “Ghosts Will Come and Kiss Our Eyes ” – [Constellation]

lombard   12/4/2007   A Library, CD

This is a gorgeous release from HRSTA (pronounced HER-SHTA), who’ve been around since 2000 with various musicians-notably founder Mike Moya of Godspeed You Black Emperor and Set Fire to Flames. This fall 2007 release is spooky and drifty with prominent organ for a very atmospheric and haunted, dirgy feel to many tracks. Mike Moya’s vocals have a similar feel and intensity to Kendra Smith and Marianne Nowottny. There’s a nice cover of the early Bee Gees psychedelic song “Holiday.”

-Cynthia Lombard

Story of Modern Farming, The – “Someone New ” – [D’Autres Cordes]

Max Level   12/4/2007   A Library, CD

Strangely beautiful material from this European duo. Jessica Sligter (Netherlands) writes and sings the lyrics, also playing keyboards, electronics, and a bit of guitar. Louise Eckardt Jensen (Denmark) is on alto sax and xylophone. Sligter’s lyrics are quite personal, but sort of scattered and unfinished-sounding. They hit the mark in that some things are revealed to us and some are not, and, really, isn’t that the way life is? Her vocal style is jazz-influenced and I like the way her voice is often multitracked, creating the impression of an inner conversation being overheard. The music provides an interesting setting for the lyrics; it too seems somewhat scattered and occasionally unfinished- sounding, and often seems to be commenting on the proceedings, rather than actually stating anything by itself. #6 is an exception: a wonderful soundscape type of piece full of dense electronic noises and blazing sax lines. Another fine, unsettling release from D’Autres Cordes.