Music Reviews

Strike100 CD [coll] – [Shitkatapult]

humana   5/30/2009   A Library, CD

Electronic: This collection celebrates the 100th release in the Shitkatapult catalog. Most of the tracks on these 2 CDs are previously unreleased, and the overall feeling is one of gentle mellowness, even on the noise tracks. CD1 features an Apparat Remix of a Johnny Cash tune, ducks quacking in field recordings on 7, high-tension wire evanescence on Jan Jelinek???s song played by Frank Bretschneiden (13). CD2 has more melodic textures, with piano on 2 and 5, lullabies by Anders Ilar on 11, and beautiful vibes on the Ag Penthouse remix of 12. All in all a most relaxing, enjoyable experience.
PGM: CD 1: Vox on 6; CD2: Vox on 1, 5, 12. Look for all songs to end as early as :10.

Mazurek, Rob Quintet – “Sound Is” – [Delmark]

Cousin Mary   5/26/2009   CD, Jazz

The album ???Sound Is??? is aptly named because the tracks are not so much tunes but more a wash of sound. Cornet player, keyboardist, and composer Rob Mazurek now lives in Brazil, but was in his native Chicago to record with these excellent musician friends. I was especially impressed by Jason Adasiewicz???s vibraphone ??? he strikes me as a most interesting contemporary player of this instrument.

All cuts are instrumentals except the last short track — a child singing and banging on the piano.

Aggrovators, The – “@ King Tubby’s Studio” – [Attack]

Cousin Mary   5/26/2009   CD, Reggae

The Aggrovators were a very popular band in 1970???s Jamaica that was used by all the top producers at the time. This CD is a collection of their dub tracks that were recorded at King Tubby???s studio that were produced by Bunny Lee.

All instrumental, all easy-going, includes a cover of the Lou Rawls??? hit ???You???ll Never Find???.

Wilkes, Corey & Abstrakt Pulse – “Cries From Tha Ghetto” – [Pi Recordings]

Cousin Mary   5/26/2009   CD, Jazz

Wide variety of sounds from the exceptional young jazz trumpeter Corey Wilkes. This CD features new and original takes for everything from hard bop to straight ahead. Four very short tracks called Abstrakt feature members of the ensemble in free improvisation. Particularly fine work from guitarist Scott Hesse and Kevin Nabors on tenor sax.

I Got Two Wings [coll] – [Casequarter]

Cousin Mary   5/26/2009   Blues, CD

This CD was produced to accompany I Got Two Wings, Lynn Abbots???s book on the electric guitar playing evangelist Rev. Utah Smith who was an important figure in the mostly black Pentecostal Church of God in Christ. He performed wearing wings and the CD includes a number of versions of the title song. The album also includes Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sister Sarah James and others associated with the COGIC. Tracks are from the 1920???s through 1950???s.

Very fine gospel shouting and singing, great guitar playing.

Dada Et La Musique [coll] – [Muza]

Cousin Mary   5/26/2009   A Library, CD

This CD was created to accompany a Dada exhibit at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The Dada cultural movement (1916 to 1922) stressed its anti-war politics through anti-art works. Dadaism is not usually considered to have a musical component.

This album includes poetry and music that is either included for its Dadaist cacophony or because the composers in some way identified with the Dada movement.

Lovely spoken words and beautifully played music. Very unique addition to the KFJC library and highly recommended!

Castro, Nick and The Young Elders – “a Day Without Disaster” – [a Silent Place]

lombard   5/26/2009   10-inch, A Library

This is a beautiful little EP from 2007, full of folk songs by L.A.-based Nick Castro and the Young Elders. Nick Castro had his solo debut in 2004 and has had notable co-conspirators ever since, including Josephine Foster and members of the Espers, Cul de Sac and Current 93.

On this particular release, Wendy Watson’s gorgeous voice sails above “Great Divide,” while other tracks are more of a back and forth with Nick Castro’s voice. “Sirens,” in particular, is a standout track featuring vocals by both. Whistle, harmonium, saz (a type of lute), mandolin, guitar, banjo, contrabass and dobro round out the decidedly retro sound. Other players include Christof Certik (banjo, mandolin, guitar), Ryan Kirkpatrick (contrabass) and Jebediah Lipson (dobro).

Akritas – “First Drop of My Life, The/Pan” – [Anazitisi Records]

humana   5/26/2009   7-inch, A Library

Bundled with the “Akritas” 12″ comes this one and only 7″ 1973 single of “The First Drop of My Life’ and “Pan” from Greek band Akritas. Stavros Logarides does vocals, guitar, and bass, Giorgos Tsoupakis is on drums, and Aris Tasoulis is on organ for “First Drop” and piano for “Pan.” After a mellow and somewhat mournful beginning, “First Drop” picks up with a chorus and jazzy outro. “Pan” is my preferred track, with its quick-tempo piano and chorus at the beginning, and Logarides’ distinctive voice and guitar closing out the song. The lyrics may be in Greek, but the progressive rock on this offering has a universal appeal.

Cheveu – “My Answer Is Yes! “But What’s The Question?”” – [Rob’s House]

Max Level   5/26/2009   7-inch, A Library

Straight ahead, catchy rock from this lo-fi trio. Side A has incomprehensible vocals and the sound is, shall we say, fidelity-challenged–actually it sounds like it was recorded in a clothes hamper full of dirty laundry–but the relentless garage-a-billy beat is fun. Side B attempts a funky uptempo groove and is much better soundwise; we can sort of make out the words on this side even though the singer tends to mumble. Both sides add a touch of keyboards and tambourine to the basic guitar/bass/drums lineup. Either side is a fine use of three minutes of your time. Language (motherfucker) on Side B.

Balky Mule, The – “Length of The Rail, The” – [Fatcat Records]

humana   5/24/2009   A Library, CD

Folk Rock: Sam Jones is the Balky Mule, and in this CD he offers upliftingly simple, quirky folk with refreshing lyrics. Music was recorded in Bristol, UK, and singing in Melbourne, Australia, and mixed by Jones on his VF160 multi-track recorder. Gentle sounds of guitar, percussion, voice (compared to the Kinks??? Ray Davies), and some electronics combine to make this a down-home production that will appeal to many.
Picks: 4, 2, 3, 6, 9.
PGM: 6 and 12 are instrumentals. Look for songs to end as early as :06.

Starving Weirdos – “Blue Herons” – [Olde English Spelling Bee]

cinder   5/20/2009   12-inch, A Library

Starving Weirdos come out of Humboldt County. Have been described as “free drift”. Two side long tracks of improvised sounds. Creaks like a rotten ship at sea. Ghostly winds reverbing off drum heads. Droned out guitars. Clanking percussions. Honking saxes (Heron mating call?) Silk screened cover art by Nate Nelson (Mouthus/Religious Knives/Crazy Dreams Band)! -cinderaura

PS – Blue Herons are the largest of the marsh birds, with giant wingspans and huge necks. Serious eyes & large black plumes.

Chopstick – “Forgiveness Please” – [Loveearth Music]

cinder   5/20/2009   A Library, CD

Starts off like a crocodiles worst nightmare…the ticking of 20 clocks. All in a slightly different setting, overlapping and unifying for a split second. About 3 minutes, and big CLANG that made me scream (warning, don’t listen to loudly on headphones). Followed by a pee break, that slowly evolves into a flowing stream. Rumbles and warped up kid records ensue…I won’t give it all away, play the whole thing or drop in at any point! Super fun 35 minute track! Chopstick is Andrew Wayne from Sacramento, also plays theremin in Night Nurse.

Zappa, Frank – “You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol.3” – [Rykodisc]

ArtCrimes   5/18/2009   B Library, CD

Volume 3 of the 6 part “You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore” series focuses primarily on FZ’s mid-80s touring bands, playing mainly material from “Sheik Yerbouti,” “The or Us,” “You Are What You Is,” “Ship Arriving Too Late…,” and other vocal-oriented albums that may not be everyone’s favorites. However, these groups were all highly skilled and received ample solo opportunities, especially on the instrumentals: “Zoot Allures,” most of “Drowning Witch,” and a very lengthy “King Kong” that is a composite of completely different bands performing the same song, much as “Hands With a Hammer” is a composite of Terry Bozzio’s drum solos. A reggae-inflected “Sharleena” features Dweezil Zappa, making his stage debut with his father; he shreds with dignity (if perhaps relying too much on the Floyd Rose tremelo). There are also many highly amusing vocal ad libs throughout, some of which are explained in the booklet, and many that are not necessarily appropriate for tea-time. (crimes)

Zappa, Frank – “Imaginary Diseases” – [Zappa]

ArtCrimes   5/18/2009   B Library, CD

Zappa’s Grand Wazoo & Waka Jawaka LPs were made with a huge ensemble that was clearly too unwieldy for much road work (a short summer tour of just a few dates was staged), so the subsequent touring band for the Fall 1972 tour was smaller: the “Petite Wazoo.” Heavily armed with winds and brass, they played primarily instrumental music that included new Zappa compositions that would rarely be performed again. Some of the tracks are actually one-time-only jams from specific cities, hence the titles, while bits of “Rollo” and “Farther O’Blivion” were eventually recycled into the “Yellow Snow” suite on “Apostrophe.” It’s interesting to hear FZ perform these large scale works and also deploy some of his typical spontaneous improv techniques with a group nearly twice the size of the previous edition of Mothers. None of this tour was ever available in any form until this release, not even on the 12 CDs comprising “You Can’t Do That on Stage…” so this captures a unique period in FZ’s career, a brief spell of mostly-serious music with nary a mudshark or poncho in view. -crimes-

Lennon, John – “Sometime In New York City” – [Emi Records Ltd.]

ArtCrimes   5/18/2009   B Library, CD

Lennon’s New York residency found him recording with Elephant’s Memory, an already established band, and continuing with Phil Spector as producer, guaranteeing a big sound, although not necessarily Lennon’s best batch of songs. For the most part, these are topical rants about this and that (the unjust persecution of activists John Sinclair and Angela Davis, the riot at Attica State prison, the Irish troubles, etc.) and clearly not continuing the utopian ideals heard on his previous hit, “Imagine”. Yoko is fairly integrated here, turning in concise songs that mostly follow conventional structures, rather than sprawling vocal experiments. No hits here, although “Woman is the Nigger…” was out as a single and probably got a few plays in more-enlightened regions. To be fair, a lot of these songs have spontaneous sounding, Dylan-esque arrangements that were probably a lot more fun for Lennon than the endless sessions with studio musicians that was the case on “Imagine.” The second disc pairs two live gigs, one in London in 1968 with a cast of thousands that is mostly devoted to Yoko’s squeals over a static blues groove, and the other side joining Zappa & Mothers at the Fillmore East in 1971, with the blues track “Well” being the standout and the balance being Zappa-conducted improvs with snippets of “King Kong.” Some years later Zappa released much of this material with a different mix and titles, the last track referred to as “A Small Eternity With Yoko Ono.” -crimes-

Foot Village – “Fuck The Future II” – [Gilgongo Records]

humana   5/17/2009   A Library, CD

Out of Hollywood come the organic, primal sounds of drums, screams, and sometimes dramatic poetry. Foot Village is the citizenry of ???the first nation built after the foreseeable apocalypse.??? The only electric sound comes on the last three remix tracks (12, 13, 14). There is laughable acting and spoken word on 2, 4, 9, 10. On most there are screaming and yelling over often proficient percussion. I prefer the guy???s voice to the banshee screeching of the female, but you decide. Get out your Advil, because the future is headache-inducing.
FCC: 2, 11.
PGM: 7 ends at :14.

Toots & The Maytals – “Pass The Pipe” – [Mango / Island Records]

humana   5/12/2009   12-inch, Reggae

Reggae: This is feel-good music that you???d expect to hear coming out of a transistor perched on the sand next to a beach towel, the mellow, upbeat rhythms and the honey voice of Toots Hibbert adding to the overall warmth of a perfect summer day. Elements of gospel, ska, soul, reggae, and rock imbue these tunes and make you ???Feel Free??? for sure. Listen and hear why this group is credited for originating the term ???reggay???.
Picks: I like it ALL, but have a slight preference for Side A.
PGM: The last song on Side B fades out and then fades back in again, so don???t think it???s over till it really is!

Gamelan Sekar Jaya – “Kali Yuga: The Age of Chaos” – [Self -released]

humana   5/10/2009   CD, International

International: This 30-year-old Bay Area ensemble (recognized as the premiere Balinese gamelan ensemble outside of Indonesia) here offers music composed for a dramatic dance work dedicated to the victims of the 2002 and 2005 bombings in Bali. Thirty musicians evoke a variety of moods from the bronze gamelan orchestra, ranging from chaos to hopeful prayer. Take a listen to this group that, with the help of guest Balinese musicians and artists, keeps the traditional music of Bali alive and perpetuates it with new compositions.
PGM: All songs end at about :08 except 1, which ends at :15.
Picks: 2, 6.

Elfin Saddle – “Ringing For The Begin Again” – [Constellation]

humana   5/8/2009   A Library, CD

Folk/Experimental: Together Emi Honda from Japan and Jordan McKenzie from Canada create some beautiful music, much of it classical sounding (9 mimics the breaking of waves), although 4 sounds distinctly Japanese, while 7 sounds almost Yiddish. Accordion, ukulele, excellent percussion, saw, banjo, xylophones, and guitar (which sounds great on 3, my favorite) conspire along with the pretty voices of Honda (who sings in Japanese) and McKenzie to spin tales of blossoms (4), powerful sunrises (6), and even parades (5). Nathan Gage on contrabass and tuba, along with Jessica Moss on violin and Nick Scribner on trumpet, fill out the musical palette of this fine offering by Elfin Saddle.
PGM: See inside envelope for track lengths and early ending times.

Black Ice – “Block Ice EP” – [Mungaso]

ophelia necro   5/6/2009   A Library, CD

The return of Black Ice after a 2 year hiatus during which some of the band has been busy reproducing (as in little black ice’s)…This release does not disappoint except maybe one could say it isn’t long enough, the entire ep runs 26 minutes. Female vocals, drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and various effects. “Sooner or Later” is the first track and runs 4 minutes 24 seconds and sounds a lot like the Black Ice we know and love, dark and mysterious, Miss Kel’s lyrics entrancing us while warning us at the same time. Track two “A Call To Arms” is a bit shorter at 3 minutes 34 seconds and a bit more upbeat musically. “The case” runs 6 minutes and 10 seconds offering more dark and creepy synth punk with female vocals. This release incorporates more experimental sounds into the mix especially with track four “Block Ice Machine (Parts 1 & 2)” an instrumental which is the longest track on the e.p. at 11 minutes and 54 seconds and could serve as the newest soundtrack to Metropolis.
Well worth the wait. They are playing a show this month in SF and then will most likely be taking another break to propagate the species even further.