Music Reviews

Ihmettelenp???? Sanoi Kampela Jos Lahana On Pliisu [coll] – [267 Lattajjaa]

Thurston Hunger   7/29/2008   A Library, CD

Plenty of songs on here that will stick to your ears like
consonants and vowels stick together in Finnish. It’s not all
Lo-Fin, many other continents are squeezed into the 19 tracks
here. Our own Loachfillet provides an insect amusement park
of sorts, and South America’s Reynols wrapper Anla Couris
is part of a five-flush of droney communication with machines
set. The best of that lot is the opener, a “Noiseful Meditiation”
(great title) it sort of rises from a light clanking concrete
piece into a shimmering tower of electronica with this organic
whistle as the secret ingredient. Ville Moskiitto has an
accordion and muted guitar that seems to hint at “Peter Gunn”
Voice of the Seven Woods (from the UK) have a great meadow
gallop of an acoustic piece. Emerald Cloud Cobra (Emanuel
Cote from Montreal) has sympathetic strings dreaming of an
imaginary Taj Royale. A similar great KFJC debut from
United Bible Studies: largely acaplla ascension into the
depths of the human condition! A quilt of voices. More from
both of those two, please! Rene Kita’s “Saxtante” is a
welcome wacko here (and he’s a pretty cool painter too fwiw).
The track I didn’t mention is probably your favorite.
Hats off to Hannu Haahti! How ’bout a Lattahhaaloopa!

-Thurston Hunger

Gay Beast – “Disrobics ” – [Dnt Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/29/2008   12-inch, A Library

Confident panic from this Minneapolonian 3-piece. After their
stellar split with Twin, I was ready for *TEN* times “Two
Borgs For Every Borg.” This vinyl full-length has a lot of
that same surprisingly catchy sound, despite its absolute
awkwardness, maybe like watching giraffes have sex? Oh and I
guess homosexual sex at that, although the politics of the
body here surface in song titles, they often get scrambled out
in the tweaked frequencies of singer/keyboardist Dan Luedtke’s
raygun auctioneer vox processor. Kinda reminds me of early
Quintron; Bulb label fans will click on this band, no dobut.
Anyways the tension alone of his singing style surely guides the
intentions of the lyrics. Angela Gerend on drums is a maniac,
her style is akin to crossing a freeway moving past the limit.
Guitarist Isaac Rotto reminds me of how inventive Deerhoof
can be in a not-so-showy way. Rotto drops a potluck of Jackscon
Pollock swaths and six-string spatters. Again you come back to
these songs and hear how well they work. Luedtke’s keys made
me think happily of Get Hustle. Very promising band that if
their palette expands will rule some serious underground air.

-Thurston Hunger

Garland, Peter – “Matachin Dances ” – [Cold Blue]

Thurston Hunger   7/29/2008   10-inch, A Library

Live recording from 1981 up in San Francisco, that has aged
as well as these dances themselves. While it seems modern
matachin (or matachine) dances focus on shaker percussion
and steps to match, typically with large throngs of dancers,
here the sound is stripped down and isolated in sentiment.
Kicking around an emotion, rather than kicking up heels.
Garland himself on the gourd rattles here is the *background*
to the dualing violins. The strings move with elegance and
a hint of elegy. Except for the nimble closing sixth piece
and a little rush on #3, the pace is as stately as a
hand-maiden’s parlor. Garland’s compositions stir more sorrow
than dust. One violin will split off counter-harmonically to
the other and then rejoin. The piece dead-icated to John
Lennon is the most lachrymose, but it really has a lasting
beauty to it. The second dance two has a melody that sort of
falls down, and then the gourd lifts it back to its feet.
That was my favorite. All pieces are fairly short, with space
inside and between them that can lead a DJ into tracking them
which is not so bad, as they are all cut of roughly the same
cloth. Speaking of rough, I found an online recording that
had two more grizzled violins doing a matachine, quite
compelling. The dance allegedly may have colonizing roots,
so that online version might be the more indigenous weed
whereas Garland sort of recaptures and recolonizes the source.
Quite a lot to this spare 10″. -Thurston Hunger

Fun fact? One of the violinist has been concertmaster for
Joel Grey, Liberace, Dionne Warwick and Tony Bennett, so now
you’ve got to play it?

Cosmic Debris Volume II [coll] – [a Silent Place]

humana   7/28/2008   A Library, CD

Cosmic Debris Volume II – Coll.: CD (2007) A Silent Place
Avant garde/experimental/improv: Steve Roden delivers the first two tracks, and My Cat Is An Alien (MCIAA) provides the third and last track. Maurizio and Roberto Opalio from Torino, Italy (MCIAA) give us 19:38 of “multilayered echoes of voice, toy piano, space drones” along with a tumult of Japanese bells played by Ramona Ponzini. Steve Roden, a visual and sound artist from California, opens the CD with a 13:08 piece using objects and field recordings to create a starry soundscape that summons images of spaceships during graveyard shifts. His second track is melodic, upbeat, and pleasant, featuring Roden on electric guitar. This simple song lasts 6:52. Tracks 1 and 2 start quietly and end early at 0:13 and 0:08, respectively. Track 3 ends with sounds of MCIAA packing up and leaving stage, with footsteps walking away underneath the sound of the Japanese bells.

Carter Tutti – “Feral Vapours of The Silver Ether ” – [Divine Frequency]

humana   7/28/2008   A Library, CD

Carter Tutti: Feral Vapours of the Silver Ether CD (2007) Divine Frequency
Ambient electronica: Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti turn out a shimmering release of utterly relaxing, trippy ambience that takes you ???into the sunset sky and a misty door??? (as the lyrics in Track 2 say). Every song on here is a gem in its own way, but if you???re looking for instrumental ambience, try 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 11. The other tracks feature Cosey???s clear, sometimes sultry voice (see 6 especially) delivering lovely lyrics. Track 4 sounds like she???s chanting a high mass, whereas 9 is like a requiem where you let go of life (???breathe life???s fire and shine…now all past glories rest???). 5, 7, and 8 are my favorites, but try them all for yourself to see which psychic beats emerge from the primordial ether to speak to your unconscious. PGM: All end as early as 0:10.

Tuma, Scott – “Not For Nobody ” – [Digitalis Industries]

humana   7/26/2008   A Library, CD

Americana: This second album from Chicagoan Scott Tuma is so lovely it???s heartbreaking. Only for the sentimental, these mostly instrumental pieces feature guitar, banjo, and occasional bells. Only the first and last tracks have vocals, a female making strange, haunting, child-like utterances. Tuma???s strength is in his ambient mellowness and lovely guitar work that floats in and out like a lullabye, a nostalgic one at that. PGM: Tracks 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 end a bit early, and 11 starts quiet. Field sounds (wind, bird chirping, chalk on board?) on 1, 8, and 12. Picks: 2, 4, 10. Ambient peace: 5, 6, 9, 11.

Geese – “Geese ” – [Vanity Case]

humana   7/25/2008   7-inch, A Library

Experimental/Psychedelic/Pop: The UK group of David Lazonby and Graham Bailey call their white vinyl an ???apocalyptic torch song??? in two parts (sides A and B, each of which is about 3:25). Side A is the calmer, more organized side, with clean-sounding guitars and drums, but it ends with an air siren that Side B picks up and takes off with into a more chaotic psyche reprise of the chorus ???The Plane???s Gone Dad.??? The m??l??e of sounds is due partly to additional voices, partly to the full-throttle guitar . The instruments fade first, then the voices, and finally you???re left with blips and bleeps and voices hitting notes, and at last you hear only a field recording. Very interesting and definitely something you???d hear on ???Apartment Life.???

Kihlstedt/Robair/Sperry – “Sonarchy 1998 ” – [Majmua Music]

Thurston Hunger   7/22/2008   CD, Jazz

Haire-raising sounds from a long-running KEXP program, dating
back as the title suggests to 1998. That year bassist Matthew
Sperry was selected as an assisted artist by the folks at
www.jackstraw.org (Tucker Martine notably was on the list as
well). Sperry is well-paired with violinista fatale Carla
Kihlstedt, kindred string spirits…there is a section deep
into the first piece with about 3-4 minutes left, where they
slither perfectly parallel…very nice! All improvised sounds,
with a whole lotta space going on. The first encounter has an
askew classical vibe, abetted by the man with the Rastascan
plan, Gino Robair on piano, of course lots of under-the-hood
plunking and spelunking, but actual notes too. The closing
section has a kind of oriental gypsy vibe to my ears, very
pretty but invites headphones for ye olde deep listening.
The second track is the “radio single,” the track with the
most impact. One hightlight is Robair on those rototoms (?),
you know the watery, pitch-rising drums on Curtis Mayfield’s
“Superfly” there’s some more Kihlsted/Sperry string alignment
later on that piece. -Thurston Hunger
RIP 11/6/1968 – 6/5/2003 http://matthewsperry.org/

Spider Trio – “Rendezvous ” – [Assophon]

Thurston Hunger   7/22/2008   12-inch, Jazz

Re-issue of a live blistering at Seattle’s Rendezvous/Jewelbox
Theater. Sax attacker WALLY SHOUP becomes a Climax Golden
triplet for this, joining guitarist JEFFERY TAYLOR and DAVE
ABRAMSON who “steels” the show on drums. Abramson puts the
wince in twins, unrelenting rolls and firecracker pop on
display thoughout. Here’s my breakdown…

A1 has some levee breaking heaviness for a section beneath
the free ack-ack. A2 rolls dark electronic clouds for a spell
at the outset, nice bendomatic guitar from Taylor, that piece
builds and builds…eventually getting sparks off Taylor’s
strings, and then comes to a heart-attack end. B1 starts off
with metal shop meditation, Abramson revving up the engine
solo…Shoup eventually laces furious spirals on top, Taylor
later gets six-string hiccoughs; things get spread out half
way through, momentum gets held in check before rocketing
back but less connected then other pieces on this release.
Kind of enters a fury for fury’s sake mode, but at the end
there’s this great stark landscape waiting, with a gallow’s
humidity. B2 The best Shoup-Taylor duel so far, with a
wailing Wally over guitars from a police state, sirens and
barbed distortion. The bass drum on this piece has nearly
a seismic, electronic thump. -Thurston Hunger

David, Shana – “Terminally Bourgeois ” – [Shrug]

Thurston Hunger   7/22/2008   7-inch, A Library

This 7″ is proud of its squareness and its square-wave. All
music generated by an old Radio Shack late-seventies MG1,
the sound is kinda thin, and happily so. Like an 8-bit game
only firing on 6-bits? Ms. Shana’s voice is a perfect match
for this, part talent-show trying to be earnest and ironic
and the same time. The result, well possibly the dorkiest
record in quite some time. This record is fun at times, but
not as clever or as cute as it might think it is? Serving
up Peanut Butter and Jealousy on “Bad Sandwich” is tasty,
but there’s not much on that plate. Similarly the “I Fucked
Up” has a lot of promise for superb self-denigration but
never quite twists the eyebrows, instead settles for the
finger twisting in the cheek. A cover of Nilsson’s “One”
(even if you are young, you’ve probably heard it) strains
the voice of Ms. David…but then she’s not really here to
take on Goliath. Home-spun innocence that may resonate
more with others, surely the 8-bit operators will find this
warrants a spin. -Thurston Hunger

Collections of Colonies of Bees – “Six Guitars ” – [Table of the Elements]

Thurston Hunger   7/22/2008   12-inch, A Library

The hive is alive with the sound of drone. Beeswackers are
Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Dan Spack, Jim Schoenecker, and
Thomas Wincek. A single hear-thru piece on this single-sided
see-thru vinyl, the piece blends in gently from nothingness
and returns to the same. For a product of bees, this has
very little sting or fuzzy buzzing, a very pure tonal drone
resulting from worship of the perfect fifth. There are very
controlled minimal waves of sound, almost too transparent
to be hypnotic. There may be higher math involved here, and
five in the hive, but this has an extremely simple sound
and effect. A testament to five fingers on one hand, and
five musicians on one drone. Should be bliss for chill-out
children. The Savage Pencil etching is more complicated,
I honestly could not make it out on the vinyl, but online
the image appears to be a rat from the Chinese calendar.
Part of the revived Guitar Series from the Table of the
Elements folks. -Thurston Hunger

Baird Sisters, The – “At Home January 25 & 26, 2003 ” – [Laura and Meg Baird]

ArtCrimes   7/21/2008   CD, Country

You know Meg Baird from her solo release last year, and her work with Espers. But the Baird Sisters have been performing off and on for as long as Espers, probably even longer, and they are still gigging now and then. Meg & Laura Bairds’ home-made release is a casual session recorded by Dad. Despite the humble production, the sound is nice and clear as they run through a program of traditional favorites and a few of Laura’s originals. Although traditional songs are always welcomed by this reviewer, these performances don’t all capture the darker side of the story (and there always seems to be a darker side), with “Willie Moore” sounding so cheerful despite its tragic tale. But since the Bairds sing with that wonderful blend one finds with siblings, the result is undeniably a lovely thing. They accompany themselves on guitar, banjo, and cello.

First Communion Afterparty – “Ever Last Sting Live ” – [Mpls]

humana   7/18/2008   12-inch, A Library

Psychedelic Rock: First Communion Afterparty (FCAP) is a young band with high ideals in every sense of the word ???high.??? They are ???committed to an entrancing psychedelic layer-cake of sound,??? and they create this with guitars, keyboards, tambourine, and drums. The vocals are hazy and peripheral, although strong at times. FCAP see themselves as a family that likes to make music together, and this album supposedly cemeted their bond and helped them grow. Their sound is reminiscent of ???Go Ask Alice.??? See for yourself. Tracks 5, 4, and 6 are my favorites, and 6 may contain ???fucking??? but I just can???t tell so it shouldn???t be a problem with the FCC. Side A has 7 songs that follow close upon each other???s heels, with cheers and claps often the only indication of separation. Side B is blank, so skip it.
PGM: Track 6 flows pretty smoothly into 7 so you may want to just play both.
3-Word Review: Psyche-Rockers Escape Minnesota

Snellings, Beth and Yehudit – “Different Strokes ” – [Edgetone Records]

humana   7/17/2008   A Library, CD

Jazz Duo: Different Strokes is Yehudit on five-string electric violin and Beth Snellings on cello. Together they offer up 10 tracks (7 of them from a 2004 concert in San Francisco) of standards mixed with original compositions, with nary a bad one in the bunch. The liner notes are a must-read, and on them you can follow the smiles to my favorites. Particularly noteworthy is the way each musician takes turns playing solos, so eventually the violin and cello seem almost interchangeable and seamless (2, 8, 5). Clearly these women are secure in their musicianship and have no trouble sharing the spotlight. This is a CD that swings, and many will enjoy dropping it into their sets for a snazzy energy boost.
PGM: Each song ends as early as 0:09.
3-Word Review: Positively Primo Pizzicato

Nigeria Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro-Rock & Fuzz Funk… [coll] – [Soundway Records]

ArtCrimes   7/16/2008   12-inch, International

Another well-packaged Soundway collection of 70s tracks from Nigerian LPs and singles, this time with the bulk of them in English and clearly under the influence of American and UK rock styles. The Ginger Baker collaboration with Fela in the 70s had some impact on Nigerian bands, with some of the players featured here having worked with Baker in his post-Cream band “Salt”, during a period when he was living in Nigeria. In general, electric guitars are brought to the foreground on these tracks, rather than the horns and dance rhythms featured on the Soundway “Disco Funk Special”. The Funkees and Mono Mono both have been featured on other Soundway collections with their more pop-oriented rock sound, while BLO and Ofo are hipper bands with social comment on their minds, not so much dancefloor. As for psychedelia, Nigerian tracks titled “Acid Rock” and “Freaking Out” were maybe trying too hard to catch up with the popular culture of the time, but by adding their own local rhythms and vocal styles, they ended up with something distinctive and still interesting 30 years later.

Jansch, Bert – “Bert Jansch ” – [Earmark]

ArtCrimes   7/16/2008   12-inch, International

A reissue on vinyl of Scottish songwriter & guitarist Bert Jansch’s first LP, originally out in the UK on Transatlantic in 1965. The audio verite production by folk specialist Bill Leader, with the session taking place in Leader’s Camden home, provides a snapshot of Jansch when he was starting to take his career more seriously, after having been a busker and a folk club regular for a few years, greatly influenced by the pioneering acoustic guitarist Davey Graham (who had introduced some middle eastern sensibilities into his playing after his travels to Morocco), American jazz (Nat Adderly and Jimmy Guiffre are covered here), and American blues. Jansch would later develop a greater interest in traditional British folk songs, but here he writes almost all of the tunes himself, with “Needle of Death” to become perhaps the best known of his originals. “Do You Hear Me Now” would later be covered rather successfully by Donovan on one of his early UK releases. There are a few instrumentals here as well. The British folk scene was full of distinctive guitarists in the 60s, but Jansch has remained one of the best regarded, both for his complex guitar work and his vocal style which (although an acquired taste) remains unmistakable for anyone else.

Fabulous Diamonds – “Fabulous Diamonds ” – [Siltbreeze Records]

humana   7/14/2008   12-inch, A Library

Experimental/Trance: Seven relatively short songs from this Australian duo with an international flavor that would definitely go well on Ann Arbor???s show. Impressive percussive beats from Nisa Venerosa, intriguing lyrics that often sound like chanting, and organ and sax overdubs from Jarrod Zlatic characterize this release. Tracks 1 and 7 bookend the songs with their lively rhythms that get your heart beating. Track 6 stands out for its sax and percussion which build momentum nicely. – Pax Humana

Where’s the Beat? Live in the WFMU Studios [coll] – [Wfmu]

humana   7/13/2008   A Library, CD

Compilation: This special premium for WFMU???s 2008 fundraiser has something for everyone–it begins with Lau Nau???s unique brand of Finnish folk (CD1, 1) and ends with Marissa Nadler???s high-pitched folk crooning (CD2, 13), with a variety of genres sandwiched between. There???s an abundance of rock, with standouts from Sloan (CD2, 9) Kelley Stoltz (CD1, 6), and Armitage Shanks (CD2, 11). There are fine electronics from Antiguo Automata Mexicano (CD1, 9); some cool jazz from Slow Six (CD2, 4); and some stellar international conga and island flavor from the Budos Band (CD2, 5) and Extra Golden (CD2, 12). Give it a try–you won???t be disappointed. PGM: CD2, 4 gets very quiet at 0:20, and CD2, 10 basically ends at 0:17 with irrelevant talking.


Dj Frane – “Journey to The Planet of Birds ” – [None]

cinder   7/11/2008   CD, Hip Hop

DJ Frane, self-described as a “mellow, stoned-out version of the Bomb Squad or late 80’s Dr. Dre, or maybe Prince Paul meets Pink Floyd.” A super relaxing, chill sampled-up hip hop release. It’s the final installment for his trilogy “Beats to Blaze To” series. Cool fact – the piano used on this album was inherited from his 101 year old grandmother! DJ Frane uses all sorts of samples from spacey lounge sounds, jazz piano, electro funk, asian instrumentation, vocal clips of all sorts (jazz singer, robot, beat poet) and of course – bird sounds! If you dig DJ Shadow, DJ Krush or Nightmares on Wax, this will have you head knodding like no tomorrow. The whole thing flows together, really nicely, so fade outs should be used!

Kohoutek – “Expansive Headache ” – [Music Fellowship]

cinder   7/11/2008   A Library, CD

First official release from this Washington DC group. Sounds of experimental stoney sludge improvisational Japanese-psychedlic jam-outs. Three longer tracks and one 3 minuter. Influenced by bands such as Can, Bardo Pond, Ghost, early Floyd & Ash Ra Tempel. These guys blend in right along with them! All instrumental. Get ripped, lay in the sunshined grass meadows and trip the fuck out, stoney!

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