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Music Reviews

Niles, John Jacob – “My Precarious Life In The Public Domain ” – [Rev-ola]

ArtCrimes   1/30/2008   CD, Country

John Jacob Niles ???My Precarious Life in the Public Domain???

A collection of traditional songs performed by American eccentric folklorist, John Jacob Niles, this time looking at his recordings for RCA from 1939 to 1943. These songs are selected from the ballads documented in the late 1800s by Harvard song collector Francis S. Child, who traced the path of traditional songs from the British Isles to the Appalachians, where the Scots-Irish had brought them when they had first settled in the US. The American versions of these ballads in some cases retained more of their original character than the contemporaneous British versions, subject to constant revision over many years, while Americans had unwittingly preserved the ballads in isolated rural areas, safe from the influence of the world at large. The Child ballads reference a lost world of kings, great battles, and faeries, quite different from the Kentucky hills where Niles first heard these songs, and he responded enthusiastically to them, with the unorthodox singing and dulcimer playing that cannot be mistaken for any other folk singer, past or present. These songs may have been performed more faithfully to their traditional past elsewhere, but Niles was more intent on making the songs live again, not as mere museum pieces, but as vehicles for his own dramatic vision.

Evil Moisture Hanatarash – “Fatanarchy On Airtube ” – [Harbinger Sounds]

cinder   1/24/2008   A Library, CD

A collaborative effort from Boredoms leader Eye
Yamantaka’s noise project Hanatarash, and UK noise
artist Evil Moisture, aka Andy Bolus. 35 tracks,
almost all under one minute each. Random sound clips,
sound clashing distorted microphone abuse, cartoon
claps, electronic noises, drills, silly spoken words.
Easy to toss in a few between tracks as a distraction.
Includes a twisted take of Survivor’s “Eye of the
Tiger”! Limited to 500 copies.

Sunburned Circle – “Blaze Game, The ” – [Conspiracy Records]

cinder   1/24/2008   A Library, CD

Collaboration between Sunburned Hand Of The Man (US) &
Circle (Finland). Recorded in 2006 the two bands met
together and created experimantal “folk, psych,
improv, spaced-out hippie jam & noisy-rock
bizareness”. You can hear each distinct band, and
together they blend perfectly. The first three tracks
blend together, so play as one or fade out! Track 4
gets a little jazzy near the mid-end, but confuses you
by throwing in some solo guitar wanking. At times it
gets a little Krauty. A little space alienish on
track 6. Of course the weird “ooooOOOooOhH AAHHhhhH
EEEeeEEooOO” vocals tossed around here and there.
Killer release.

Lambsbread – “King of The Crop ” – [Skulltones]

cinder   1/24/2008   7-inch, A Library

Couple of guys out of Columbus Ohio that apparently
live in a barn. Two super short bursts on the first
side. The start of the second track sounding like the
ending of the first track, so incase you miss the cut
off, it sounds like you meant to do it. Fast guitars,
drums, bass = CHAOS. Side B still full of the same
hardcore basement blow out, but a little sludgier in
the middle of the track. No vocals.

Necks, The – “Townsville ” – [Rer Megacorp]

Thurston Hunger   1/20/2008   A Library, CD

In a world of audio action-painting, it is nice to have the
Necks around creating these detailed landscapes. Like their
essential “Hanging Garden” release, and indeed much of their
work, this CD is one long, uninterrupted and unhurried piece.
As with other such performances by the Necks, this piece has
a holographic aspect, you take any slice and you can still
reconstitute the whole of it, but it never feels repetitive
to me. “Townsville” was recorded live in Thuringowa in the
Necks’ native Australia. It appears there might be some
discordant 1918 history to connect those two sites, meanwhile
the sounds are as harmonically meditative as always. Chris
Abrahams’ piano has rollicking element to it, very sea-going
and as the piece progresses it seems maybe he samples himself
or adds some sort of prepared nature ala the old Thymme Jones
track “Taken.” While on other Necks releases, Abrahams will
include synthesizers and organs, here he confines himself to
the acoustic piano. Lloyd Swanton’s bass work is subtle from
the isolated basic bolero beginning through its glide to bowed
“sea-sawing” around 17 minutes in. Tony Buck, superb drummer,
is relegated mostly to cymbal waves crashing on rocks, and
less of his banks of clanking…he’s going with the piano-
flourished flow. Which in this case is tidal, deceptively
simple and strong. Enjoy…but again do not miss their
“Hanging Garden” release.

-Thurston Hunger

Smith/Quintus/Quintus/Tadic/Nauseef – “Snakish ” – [Leo Records]

Thurston Hunger   1/20/2008   CD, Jazz

Something about this 2005 CD evokes the idea of cities beneath
cities. The live processing and prominent placement of Walter
Quintus’ computer generated sound fills this with a feeling
of future ruin. Wadada’s wandering trumpet oft discovers the
landscapes on each short track, weaving through tunnels and
beneath shadows of gongs and other synthesized percussion.
His skill is so profound, that the more muted Wadada plays,
the more expressive he is. Miroslav Tadic’s guitars blow
through…chords fall off trees…strings get rattled and
tapped. Around some corners, the beckoning or forewarning
voice of Katya Quintus calls. In German, in English, in
an effect-laden fog…words seem to be touchstones to
items maybe now lost in the world? Items now replaced by
generated sounds? She whispers of bells, swans and such.
In addition to live processing here, Mark Nauseef drops
in dapplings of percussion. This world has no beat to it,
but plenty of drumming. All five of the musicians here
were connected as Cal Arts staff at the time. The magic
touch of Wadada continues in its myriad ways, this album
could make a Coil fan as happy, as one who lionizes the
Leo label! Cities shed their skins, snakishly!

-Thurston Hunger

horn_bill [coll] – [Matchless]

Thurston Hunger   1/20/2008   CD, Jazz

Sonic document of a UK six way solo concert from Jan 2005 at
291 Gallery featuring five Anglo saxmen and eine clarinetter
Berliner. Two of the guys featured here blow their own horns
(indeed, they give themselves the first two tracks, or see
them as the opening artists perhaps). Nathaniel Catchpole
delivers a muscular bucking number, great straining noisy
sax, cylcing up like Speed Racer in parts. Then Seymour
Wright comes on, and is he playing with his eyelashes? What
was undoubtedly an engaging live, visual performance is a
bit hard to track by ear here. Evidently he’s doing some
very non-standard blowing, tapping, but not in a Mats
Gustafsson batten-down-the-hatches kind of way. Lou Gare
comes in with a sweet, swinging subway number. It’s the
token toe-tapper. German Kai Fagaschinski has two pieces
to start the second disc, he elongates droney notes over
bridges of soft fluttering, or even silence. The first
piece has a chirpy, squirky section about halfway in,
tea kettle sharp…and then some real nice almost backward
inhaling sounds at the end. The second relies on emptiness
more and might be tricky for radio (as with the Wright
piece). John Butcher launches with a brilliant valvy
fusillade gets sizzling for awhile, foghorn alarms, some
serious circular mantra breathing and the piece isn’t
even half over! His is an insane showcase of solo sax
glory! Something new every listen. Evan Parker rounds
things out with his cycling homage to instrument inventor
(and one time assistant to Stockhausen) Hugh Davies!

-Thurston Hunger

Cage, John – “Bird Cage ” – [Emf – Electronic Music Fo]

cinder   1/17/2008   A Library, CD

Recorded in 1972, John was inspired by a beer coaster
from a bar called The Bird Cage in Philadelphia. This
project was constructed from a number of source tapes
from three catagories: bird sounds Cage had collected
from the few previous weeks, John singing his work
Mureau (which is based on the writings of Henry David
Thoreau), and random found sounds including teeth
brushing, running water, nose blowing, etc. Of course
the birds are what stand out. Everything from
sparrows, to owls, to geese to little chirpers.
Listening through headphones is key to hearing the
multiple layers of birds. Some slowed down and
tweaked effects on the vocals make this feel like
you’re talking to the birds in your own language on
slow motion in your head. The last 2 tracks are
interviews, no music. Excellent!
-cinderaura

7 Hertz – “Tender Almost Vulgar ” – [Birdwar Records]

Max Level   1/15/2008   A Library, CD

Debut release featuring original compositions by this mostly instrumental quintet, and what interesting compositions they are! Wonderful, well-played hybrids of classical, jazz, blues, improv, and traditional European musics. No doubt the group would hesitate to pigeonhole its style even that loosely, though, as they claim influences as varied as Satie, Prokofiev, Taraf de Haidouks, Mingus, Threadgill, Rachel’s, Masada, Billie Holiday, Tom Waits, etc… all of which I think I can hear here. Quite a colorful palette of sounds on this CD: the basic lineup of violins, clarinets, and double bass blossoms with the help of a few guests to include instruments such as mandolin, accordion, trombone, trumpet, guitar, cello, and bassoon. The music is contemporary-sounding but rooted firmly in various musical traditions. Many moods are touched upon; for example the droning last track, featuring bass, violin, and cello, sounds to me like a hopeful dawn after a tragic night. This music is deep like that. Blues-flavored vocals on tracks 8 & 11.

Dirty Projectors, The – “Rise Above ” – [Dead Oceans]

Jawbone   1/14/2008   A Library, CD

You know that little piece of lint that goes flit, flit, flit in the corner of the screen as the frames roll by? Annoying, yet intriguing. Impossible to look away (or in this case, stop listening). Welcome to the world of the Dirty Projectors.

What we’ve got here are three acts in one. There’s the wailing folksinger, off in one room, caterwauling like a crucified Tim Buckley with a dagger in his side. In another room, there’s two women coming up with harmonies tighter than identical twins. In fact, they sound like two heads coming off the same body, with strange melodies, like a made up language. Then there’s the band, playing Caribbean rhythms all herky jerky, like Capt. Beefheart’s Magic Band on vacation in St. Kitts. Throw them all in the same room and count 1, 2, 3… Ladies and Gentlemen, the Dirty Projectors.

Brooklyn based David Longstreth, and his current cast of rotating characters, chose to rework Black Flag’s 1981 “Damaged” on “Rise Above”, with the lyrics as a jumping off point. The music bears no resemblance to the original, or anything else you’ve probably ever heard, for that matter.

Their 2005 “The Getty Address” was a concept album (using the lyrics of “Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. 1”) about Don Henley contemplating suicide and looking for the “shape” of love. Huh? Go figure.

LANGUAGE: “FUCK” on 3. “Depression” & 6. “Police Story”.

–Jawbone

Jones, Glenn – “Against Which The Sea Continually Beats ” – [Strange Attractors Audio]

Jawbone   1/13/2008   CD, Country

Acoustic steel-string fingerstyle folk, American Primitive Guitar, Takoma School, whatever you want to call it, John Fahey, first in the 50???s, Robbie Basho in the 60???s and Peter Lang & Leo Kottke in the 70???s, forged a style of solo instrumental guitar playing that has been mimicked by many and taken to many different levels. Michael Hedges took it into outer space. William Ackerman took it to the bank. Sir Richard Bishop, James Blackshaw, Ben Chasny have dabbled in it and served it well, but Cul de Sac???s Glenn Jones with ???Against Which the Sea Continually Beats??? distills it to its very essence. Honoring his predecessors and fallen friends (Jones befriended both Fahey and Basho before their premature deaths), he nails it on the head and drives it home. A perfect balance of light and dark, fast and slow, short and long, slidin??? old-timey and hypnotic raga style, wedding songs and requiems, it???s all here. Jones takes 30 years of practice and refinement and delivers it where needed.

This is Jones??? second release of solo 6 & 12 string guitar music, the first being 2004???s darker ???This Is the Wind That Blows It Out???. He could just stop right here, because it???s hard to imagine a better one. Let???s get one thing straight, though, Jones is a capo man, and proud of it. Not just any capos. He hacksaws ???em, making his own custom 1/2 and 2/3 size capos, leaving some strings open (he sands them while watching old episodes of Sgt. Bilko). This allows him to come up with all kinds of unusual tunings that he incorporates on ???Against Which the Sea Continually Beats??? with welcome results.

Jones delivers as fine an example of (insert genre here) as you???ll likely find. Try it today. It???s fingerpickin’ good!

–Jawbone

Core of The Coalman – “Anxiety ” – [Resipiscent]

cinder   1/10/2008   A Library, CD

Jorge Boehringer from Oakland (now Prague) is Core of
the Coal Man. Self decribed as feedback driven yodel
triggers/carnastic arrays. Super migrane music.
Don’t play this if you’re prone to flu breakouts, your
body will collapse. He’s been a main fixture in a lot
of the bay area experimental & noise scenes,
collaborating with the likes of D Yellow Swans,
Grouper, XBXRX, 16 Bitch Pile Up, Liz Albee…the list
goes on! LOTS of “not quite on the dial” feedbacking
noise, angry violins, bleeping tones, blipping toys,
and wavering frequencies! Track 3 to annoy your
neighbors.

LSD March – “Nikutai No Tubomi ” – [Beta-Lactam Ring Records]

cinder   1/10/2008   A Library, CD

LSD March is a Japanese psychedelic-experimental
outfit led by singer and guitarist Shinsuke Michishita
and is named after a track by Kraut rock act Guru
Guru.

CD 1 is a 40 minute pysch trip out! Slow building
droning guitars and improvised drums. Singing comes in
around 20 minutes and eventually fuzzes out. Nice!

CD 2 is more experimental in sound. Ranging from
rusty saw-like violins & toy pianos, clarinets,
harmonicas, gentle whispering words to steady bongo
drums and twinkling wind chimes. Sounds like a day in
the Japan countryside. Only 500 copies produced!

Rough Bunnies, The – “Mit Weisse Westen Dreck Am Stecken ” – [Ypsilanti Records]

cadilliac margarita   1/10/2008   12-inch, A Library

This is great fun from female- Swedish- cousin duo, Anna and Frida aka Rough Bunnies. They have an sweet and innocent tone to their vocals, much like Deerhoof, but don’t be fooled, these girls are quite sexual and don’t take any bullshit from the boys. The album is a nice mix of folk, pop, hip-hop, and electronics, and broken English and Swedish vocals with a punk attitude that is contagious. The one-take, recorded in their bedroom feel of the record is charming, and that combined with the front cover artwork reminds me of daniel johnston in a way. There were only 200 copies of this one made, so treat it with care even though the artists like it rough.
-cadillac margarita

Mika Miko, “666” (PPM Records) CD

ophelia necro   1/9/2008   A Library

5 piece from Los Angeles. This Cd includes the “666” EP (tracks 1-8), the first 7″(9 and 10) and bonus tracks (10-13). 13???? short and sweet blasts of punk rock (the longest of which runs 2 minutes) with female vox, bass, drums, guitar, keys and sometimes sax. Language on “Frisco Dyke”.

factums (pollymagoo records) “7”

ophelia necro   1/8/2008   A Library

33rpm 7″, limited editon of 300 copies. Chicago/Seattle 3 piece. Factums is a project of Matthew Ford  (the Intelligence) on drums,  Dan Strack (the Fruitbats) on guitars, keyboards and effects and Jessie P. Miller on bass, guitar, keyboards and effects. Distorted punk/math rock. Side A: “See Inside” sounds like the vocalist is underwater amidst the layering of effects with bass, guitar, drums and keyboards. “Inside Out” is a bit slower, plodding but happy in a way. B-side begins with “Anenome” which starts with some buzzing and computer-like tones and fades to silence for about 2 seconds, then the threesome start to rock out. You can really move around to this track. “Bomber” starts with lots of reverb and effects on the vocals, then once again the three get to rockin, then it goes back to weird effects and noise. This band is kind of confusing, but I like them.

Made In Mexico, “Zodiac Zoo” (Skin Graft Records) LP

ophelia necro   1/8/2008   A Library

LINE UP:
——————————-
Rebecca Mitchell: vocals
Jon Loper: bass
Dare Matheson: drums
Jeff Schneider: guitar
——————————-

A quartet from Providence, Rhode Island. Female vocals with bass, guitar and drums. Ex-members of Arab On Radar, La Machine, and Bossman. This is their debut LP and it rocks. Chaotic & pulsating rhythms, vocals moaned/shrieked in bursts, No-Wave. Influenced by Television, Modern Lovers, Suicide, Cock ESP, etc. Lyrics on back of record. Great gatefold pic of band. 12 tracks, no language. “Face Of The Earth” is a MX-80 cover.

Country Girls! 1927-1935, The [coll] – [Origin Jazz Library]

ArtCrimes   1/8/2008   12-inch, Blues

The Country Girls! 1927-1935: 16 Rare Blues and Ballads with Guitar

10 female country blues artists from 1927-1934. Some overlap here with other more modern day collections in KFJC’s holdings (Geeshie Wiley, Lucille Bogan, Memphis Minnie), but a few welcome obscurities like Rose Mae Moore and Lillian Miller. Many of these tracks are voice accompanied by one or two guitars, with a few having additional players and a couple of male visitors interjecting comments or cackling. Always amazing to hear the sound of untrained voices, telling it like it was, and the guitar playing here is often fascinating as well.

Weldon, Casey Bill – “1935-1937 Remaining Titles & Alternate Takes ” – [Document Records]

ArtCrimes   1/8/2008   12-inch, Blues

Casey Bill Weldon:
1935-1937 Remaining Titles & Alternate Takes

The final volume of Document???s trawl through Casey Bill???s extensive recordings, presenting a wide range of settings for his really exceptional guitar playing and vocals. All recordings made in Chicago, the topics here including street walkers and race horses, as well as some supernatural business. The Washboard Rhythm King tracks (side 1, tracks 5-8) are a hokum band with clarinet, kazoo, and washboard. The last three tracks here feature ???His Orchestra???, with one-time Washboard Rhythm King Arnett Nelson on clarinet along with several unknown players delivering a surprisingly full sound. As is often the case with Chicago sessions of the time, Tampa Red, Bill Broonzy and Peetie Wheatstraw make appearances.

Jones, Maggie – “Vol. 1 1923-1924 ” – [Wolf Records]

ArtCrimes   1/8/2008   12-inch, Blues

Maggie Jones:
Vol. 1 1923-1924 Complete Recordings in Chronological Order

Somewhat in the ???Blues Empress??? fashion of Bessie Smith, Maggie Jones recorded in NYC with some of the top-flight jazz players of the day, including Fletcher Henderson, Louis Armstrong, and Don Redman. But there???s also a few very stark tracks with her backed by only a banjo, where she uses her voice in a very different way in order to not overwhelm her accompanist (side 1, tracks 5-8). ???Anybody Here Want to Try My Cabbage??? is probably her best known track, and it???s typical of the saucy innuendo that lurks here. As with these ???complete??? collections, there???s a few alternate takes that may not vary too much, and a couple of tracks were mastered with skips!