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Music Reviews

King Kong Compilation, The [coll] – [Mango / Island Records]

ArtCrimes   4/29/2008   12-inch, Reggae

A 1981 Mango LP with selections from Leslie Kong’s Beverly’s label, produced in Jamaica from the late 60s up until 1971, when Kong died of heart failure (some say due to a curse placed by Peter Tosh over some bad business with Kong early in the Wailer’s career). These are tracks from the dawn of reggae (“Israelites” being among the first US/UK reggae hits), with little of the Rasta ethics that we would be hearing later, although there’s some talk of social movements. Mostly, driving beats are the business of the day here, with less of the overt American R&B influence heard in the earlier Rock Steady style. Some of these tracks have been over-anthologized (the 2 Desmond Decker tracks, The Melodians’ “Rivers of Babylon”) but there are enough less-heard hits here like The Maytals’ “Peeping Tom” and Ken Boothe’s “Freedom Street” to justify this addition to KFJC’s bulging reggae stacks. And a couple of tracks were issued for the first time on this collection, including an instrumental from session pianist Ansell Collins, best known in the US for his 1971 hit “Double Barrel” when he was part of the duo, Dave & Ansell Collins.

Portland Bike Ensemble – “s/t ” – [Self-Released]

Max Level   4/28/2008   A Library, CD

A homemade-looking release, packaged in a plain, folded-up piece of red construction paper. PBE are guys who amplify their bicycles and play the metal frames, spokes, chains, wheels, handlebars, brakes, etc. as instruments. Here we have them performing one long 26-minute piece, recorded live, divided into two untitled sections (16 mins and 10 mins) with applause in between. Creative sounds from PBE, and mostly not bike-like at all. For example, more than once I thought I was hearing jungle noises, with a wide variety of creatures grunting, squeaking, and roaring, all at the same time. Overall, this is quite a trip and well worth exploring. Note: at around 2:30 on the first piece, somebody says “here it comes!” on the mic for some reason, and while that intrusion briefly sidetracks the momentum, it is soon forgotten. I couldn’t say whether or not this CD/R is actually available to anyone, but PBE sent it to us and we’re adding it. If you want one of these CD/Rs for yourself, try writing to PBE. Maybe they’ll wrap one up in red construction paper just for you.

Winters In Osaka – “Orchids ” – [One Sock]

cinder   4/25/2008   A Library, CD

This band comprised of Adam Jennings & Erik Stanis
hail from Chicago. Some of their past collaborations
have included Cock ESP & Weasel Walter. Pedals, tape
manipulation, mandolins, guitars, keyboards, drum
machines… pushes you to the limit with electronic
thumps and scratches. It’s like you’re leaning over
the edge on one foot, but you don’t fall. Anxious and
itchy. Harsh and noisy. Experimental thrash, at
harshest times: Merzbow-like. Slower times it feels
like field recordings of shit being plugged in and
tested. Excellent!

Retolt Mandala – “SF Munou Kokyobutsu ” – [Dolor Del Estamago]

cinder   4/25/2008   A Library, CD

First album from this “Tokyo avant chaotic art band”.
Nobu Kasahara seems to be the leader, with a few
others making it happen. Loose, skittering, abstract
types of psych-improv. Vocals every now and then, but
more behind the music. Apparently a few tracks are
live, track 6 being a pretty bad recording, ha!
Guitars, drums, cymbal crashes, electronics. Lots of
scrwarbling noisy electronics going on.

Un Festin Sagital – “Epitafio a La Permanencia ” – [Beta-lactum Ring Records]

cinder   4/25/2008   A Library, CD

A unique and interesting band out of Santiago, Chile.
Mixing drifty guitars, distorted rumbles,
electro-acoustic sounds, some prog rock elements,
spaced out organs, random quarbled (Ruins style)
vocals, dark singing, light proggy singing, and
traditional music (warped circus sounds to acoustic
guitars). Even some flute, didgeridoo and sax! Feels
like Pink Floyd of South America mixed with a dash of
The Legendary Pink Dots and a sprinkle of every
circuit bending artist out there at times with the
long floating random shifting tracks. Really cool
shit. Each track is super unique from the other.

Harmonia – “Live 1974 ” – [Water]

cinder   4/18/2008   A Library, CD

A short lived (1973-76), but amazing band comprised of
Micheal Rother, Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim
Roedelius (Kraftwerk, Cluster, Neu! mixed together!)
This was performed at a small club, formerly a railway
station, in Germany to a crowd of about 50 people.
Luckily there’s no annoying applause to kill your high
during this 58 minute ambient electronic outer space
performance. Rother believes everyone was stoned,
which is how this makes you feel – very relaxed and
non-existent. Looping repetativeness, krauty beats,
synths, organs, pianos, tripped out guitar. Check out
the liner notes and photos for all their gear!

Wizard Prison:

MSTiZA   4/16/2008   A Library

This is the debut from Ben McAllister(Degenerate Art Ensemble, Listen Faster, composer)??- magic brain, Scott Colburn(Producer worked with Cerebrus Shoal, Animal Collective,??others)??- magic mind, and John Vallier(?) – magic thought. Samples, synthesizer(?), drums, guitar, bass, and layers of melodic and heavy stop/starts(track 2)??weave the magic here. The concept of this disc is centered around a mythical future leader named Gogon, who has a vision to lead his people. Where? and to what? Well, let the music take you there.

Robin Williams On Fire: Jungle Gym of Crucifixes 7″

MSTiZA   4/16/2008   A Library

They’re a quartet of boys claiming to hail from Thizzlam, CA. This 7″ was??Mastered by Weasel Walter of the Flying Lutenbachers. These guys were apparently trying to get on the Fall Out Boy ticket a year ago, maybe to destroy the sellout scene.??The??are poised to??erupt??with jolting changes from rough guitar shards flying through the air of hot and angry screams. There is no dampening or any thing watered down. This is thrashing and angular in all the right places,??from that spot you can’t get to??in your shoulders to that kink in your neck. The track list was not??easy to come??by. I recognized two tracks from their myspace page. They are also in the follwong bands:??sich shifter, turd sorcerer, destroy tokyo, cobra bubbles (tape on Teenage Whore Tapes available), and jenkem.

Poetics, The – “Critical Inquiry In Green ” – [Compound Annex]

cinder   4/10/2008   A Library, CD

Mike Kelley (Destroy All Monsters) and Tony Oursler
reunited in 1997 to make this recording to coincide
with the opening of the Poetics Project installation
at Document X. Creepy minimal dark Throbbing
Gristle-ish music with dead-pan spoken human vocals.
Computerized vox (think Stephen Hawking) comes in on
select tracks. I imagine a Crispin Glover type fellow
doing a drug-induced spoken word night in a dark
red-lit dungeon, smoke filled and raining of course.
Sounds like a bad acid trip. Really awesome!

Axolotl/Inca Ore [coll] – [Arbor]

cinder   4/10/2008   7-inch, A Library

Axolotl’s two tracks are electronic loopy drone-outs.
Very short, if you don’t catch the break it sounds
good as one piece. I think there’s violin in there
also.
Inca Ore sounds like a creepy little girl telling a
whispering ghost story in the land of OZ. Harp
included. Both sides excellent!

Growing – “Disconfirm ” – [The Social Registry]

cinder   4/10/2008   7-inch, A Library

8th edition of Social Registry’s ongoing singles
collection. Limited to 750 copies. Growing hails
from Brooklyn, NY. Side A is a rusty electronic
looping sunflare, with squiggly solar sperm squiggles.
Side B on the other hand sounds like my intestines
after a long day of eating beans, tofu and beer.
Gurgles to the max! Both sides around 3 minutes.

Bloodysnowman – “Bloody Buddies ” – [Daly City Records]

Max Level   4/5/2008   A Library, CD

Those interested in techno-beat and glitch-tronica will want to check this CD out.???????? Local artist Shawn Porter (aka Bloodysnowman) invited a handful of friends to rethink/remix some of his previous material, and he worked up a few new tracks as well. It???s all here: catchy uptempo beats, weird pulsing concoctions, energetic jungle-style craziness, abstract tracks that approach soundscape territory, and some heavier industrial-flavored sounds too. Among the artists pitching in with creative mixing: Mochipet, Xiu Xiu, and Yoko Solo. I liked this thing pretty much from start to finish.

His Name Is Alive – “Firefly Dragonfly EP ” – [Acuarela Discos]

Thurston Hunger   4/1/2008   A Library, CD

His Name Is Alive, but her voice is ethereal. For this EP,
Warren Defever has Andrea Francesca Morici (aka Andy FM)
on vocals for the first three tracks. Her super subdued
singing on the first three lingers like the breeze on the
fourth and final opus, even in her absence. The music here
was written by wind chimes (well and Sufjan Stevens for the
initial cover), a swaying easiness emanates. Defever also
gathered some garden gnomes, including Jessica Bailiff to
help construct a lush, live-to-tape vibe in DeFever’s living
room, in Michigan in January 2007, still there’s a warmth
here that is undeniable. Chilali on the harp also helps
with the earth ascending aura. The album ends with a piano
vibrating like a single blade of grass atop a hill in the
spring and then faint wood block rustling. Andy’s vocals
are often gently doubled, either with dubs or distant
background vox…not sure what the color of reassurance
is, but this album is bathed in its hues. Acoustic guitar
hangs like vines on the first three tracks, the album
also features bowed bass or “shruit box” or some device
that is hummmming the universal frequency like a holy
harmonium.

-Thurston Hunger

Courtis, Alan – “Unstringed Guitar & Cymbals ” – [Blossoming Noise]

Thurston Hunger   4/1/2008   A Library, CD

What may have begun as a zen koan, “What is the sound of a
guitar with no strings” or a drunken dare, “I’ll show you
some friggin’ air guitar” ends as some searing Blossoming
Noise. Three attack tracks for Reynols renegade Alan Courtis,
largely feedback driven, if not overdriven. There are times
you can almost feel a more tactile approach, tapping and
spelunking the hollow-body electric, but in general these
12-16 minute numbing numbers spend a lot of time in shrill
vortices. The beginning of track 2 almost feels like a marble
trapped in a labyrinth for two minutes, then we get a sort
of ringing chain starting (could be a bowed cymbal?) that
moves up to ear-splitting power, then a sad calliope effect?
That was my favorite, as opposed to the track 3’s eternal
escalators…and track 1 which rises from an ominent hum to
veering feedback eruptions that don’t track well for my ears.
After a while the cymbal sounds often linger in a loop that
approximates tinnitus, I tend to lose interest in that before
the cool hum returns, like a tibetan bell dreaming of a gong.
If the promise of the title intrigues you, as it will many
KFJC’ers, then this release is for you.

-Thurston Hunger
PS Alan == Anla (Miguel Tomasin-ifed spelling of his name)

oper’azione nafta – “cavuru ” – [Siltbreeze]

Thurston Hunger   4/1/2008   12-inch, A Library

A slice of Sicilian smart silliness? Although they may flirt
with flutters of Fluxus, and give (mala)props to Luigi Rossolo,
this Italian three-piece blows with the force of a Charles Gayle
release. Urgent drumming helps to keep the din furious yet
compelling, sax and clarinet screech and strafe, more to leave
a trail than a melody at times. Tape manipulated sections are
the most straightforward ones it seems, there’s guitar sputter
that Starfucker fans might dig. As side B progresses, said
guitar is really ready to rock, but adrift under a shifting
bed of sound. Then there is a freeway jam of reeds without any
drums, that hypnotizes for awhile and gets demagnetized by
electronics before the drums decide to enter and erupt. Grunting,
sacred or heretical…probably both, turns up on some tracks.
The brothers Calandrino and their pal, Pietro La Rocca (now
there’s a name to build a musical church upon) keep the
frenzy up with no problem…and no resolution. If you dig
such freeform “becoming” music, this will get your freak flag
blowing in that fine Gayle. This blitzes my sensors enough to
wonder about an eventual destination for this project. No
safety net, no script…no problem.

-Thurston Hunger