Music Reviews

Left Coast Improv Group [coll] – [Edgetone Records]

humana   6/30/2009   CD, Jazz

Jim Ryan founded the Left Coast Improv Group in 2001, and the one uniting theme is that the group creates together without an agenda. Cooke Co. Wind & Brass, RDT3, and other LCIG related projects are represented here. The songs can be seen as happy accidents, or as orchestrated miracles that come into existence by virtue of the musicians. LCIG is performing at the Outsound New Music Summit on July 25, 2009 at the Community Music Center in San Francisco. Whet your appetite!

Swift Machine – “Swift Machine” – [Creative Sources Recording]

Max Level   6/29/2009   A Library, CD

Texture’s the thing here. Breathy sax sounds from Antoine Chessex, plinking and wobbling guitar by Torsten Papenheim, and hissing, crackling ambience from Gilles Aubry’s laptop computer are the ingredients in this simmering sonic soup. Aubry’s varied contributions seem to wield the most influence over where the eight pieces go. I’m falling in love with this quietly artful label.

DJ Female Convict Scorpion – “Clash-Ups” – [Self -released]

humana   6/28/2009   A Library, CD

Twelve ???remixes??? of as many artists, by the San Francisco-based DJ Female Convict Scorpion, master of creating psychedelia out of turntables, sampler, theremin, whistles, and vocals. Ornette Coleman is on here (9), as are the Swell Maps (1), John Lee Hooker (5), among others. Creepy and skittery and spacey, but uniquely funky on 12 with the lyrics of ???Sloop John B??? echoing eerily in the background.

Mingus, Charles – “Mingus Ah Um (Legacy Edition)” – [Columbia Records (Jazz)]

Cousin Mary   6/27/2009   CD, Jazz

Re-issue of Mingus??? landmark 1959 recordings that were produced by Teo Macero at Columbia.

– The title of Mingus Ah Um is a riff on a Latin adjective study form: masculine nominative singular form (usually ending in “-us”), then the feminine nominative singular ending (“-a”), and finally the neuter nominative singular ending (“-um”).
– ???Pork Pie Hat??? was sax great Lester Young who had died recently (March 1959).
– ???Fables of Faubus??? (originally without lyrics) about Arkansas Governor Faubus whose 1957 stand against integration of Little Rock Schools caused Eisenhower to send in the National Guard.
– Pianist Horace Parlan had polio as a child ??? the crippling of his right hand led to his strong left hand sound.

Fine work from all, Ervin, Handy, and Hadi on sax, Dennis and Knepper on trombone, Parlan on piano – and does a rhythm section get any better than Mingus on bass and Dannie Richmond on drums?

Watts Ensemble – “Crime & Time” – [kill shaman]

Cousin Mary   6/27/2009   CD, Jazz

Brian Watson (Watts), despite being a drummer in punk bands with little musical education, challenged himself to compose for and assemble a 17-piece jazz orchestra. This resulting album is a modern jazz big band, sometimes sounding like incidental music for film. Very listenable yet very original, tracks stand on their own or could be played as whole suites.

AEthenor – “Faking Gold & Murder” – [Vhf]

cinder   6/24/2009   A Library, CD

A sort of “super group” featuring Vincent De Roguin, Stephen O’Malley and Daniel O’Sullivan. Also joined by Nicolas Field, Alex Babel, Alexander Tucker and David Tibet. Electronics, guitar, Rhodes, and organ create floating drones under twittering bells and percussion. David Tibet does his mystical poetic singing. Almost has a magical feeling at times, like a toy music box.

Zola Jesus – “Tsar Bomba” – [Troubleman Unlimited]

Thurston Hunger   6/23/2009   12-inch, A Library

Madison madwoman Nika Danilova is Jesus, Zola Jesus. This 20-year old artist delivers us unto a 45 rpm record with key clutterboards and machined clusterdrums thick under warped vocals. Sound swelters welts in your ears. Zola’s post-nuclear, post-Siouxsie vocals wail in the haze. If earthquakes dream, then this is the dirty dirge-pop that serves as their theme music. Trace elements of Mauve Sideshow or Cocteau Twins appear when Zola cuts the effects on her vox. Check out the drifty aria at the end of “Rester” where Zola’s soul, and years of operatic training, are revealed. Dirty whirlwinds of distoria almost hide some downright hummable melodies. While this is a one-woman Jesus in the studio, when she performs live she’s joined at the Sacred Bones by Dead Luke on those synthetic clutterboards. The last two or three cuts track, I think the way of the “Flesh” survives a near death noise explosion and then goes “Past the Blue Brick Stone” for brimstone sonics? I can see some of the persistent pain (delicious as it is) lifting and letting more of her soaring voice beam in going forward. Accenting both the Sweet *and* Sour Jesus.

-Thurston Hunger

Master Musicians of Bukkake – “Totem One” – [Conspiracy Records]

Rarus Avis   6/23/2009   A Library, CD

MMOB is a mixed group of folks from the Seattle area, and includes members of Sun City Girl (and Earth, Burning Witch and Diminished Men), and this music was released on Conspiracy Records label. Like their other disk, their music is filled with psychodelic hymns and ritualistic dances that move from spacious guitars to death chants, having narcotic effects on the listener. Yet, the music has many opposites where prog rock guitar riffs are followed by complex drumming, Eastern influenced strings, and chanting evoking, if one were prepared for it, psychotic transe events.

Instrumentation has amazing variety from guitars and drums, to Mellotron, gamelan, saz and tanpura (a terrific drone instrument).

Trks 1-3 can be played as one track.

~Rarus Avis

Ecstatic Jazz Duos [coll] – [Thor’s Rubber Hammer Productions]

humana   6/23/2009   12-inch, A Library

This split features two experimental duos. Side A features I Heart Lung, with Chris Schlarb on electric guitar and electronics, and Tom Steck on drums. The sounds are definitely ecstatic, with 2 being my favorite track. Side B is DWMTG, with Dale W. Miller on drums, cymbals, and electric toothbrush, and Tony Gordon on bass. 10 short tracks (times are on inside sleeve) show how these two romp together playfully. The first track sounds like a dog???s squeaky toy. Enjoy.

Zentner, Si – “Plays Music From “Warning Shot”” – [Liberty Records]

humana   6/23/2009   12-inch, Soundtrack

Soundtrack: Big band is the name of the game, and Si Zentner is the man and trombonist to lead the band executing Jerry Goldsmith???s compositions. Side 1 features music from ???Warning Shot,??? most of which is fast-paced and suspenseful, save for 4 and 5, which have a slower pace. It???s easy to get caught up in the big band exclamations. Side 2 is a sampling from Goldsmith???s other film/TV scores, with ???Von Ryan March??? and ???Mona Lisa??? standing out, and the ???Theme from ???The Man from U.N.C.L.E.?????? taking you down memory lane.

Fields, Wally – “Kotoscape” – [Self Produced]

SAL9000   6/21/2009   A Library, CD

Kotoscape, composed by Wally Fields, is an experimental approach to Koto music. Wally recently acquired a Koto just this year, in February 2009. Kotoscape is an electroacoustical improvisation, and layered with electronic loops. Microphones were used to create some effect to echo the sound. To get the full experimental sound, the Koto is slightly out of tune. An excellent work created on the fly.

Israel M – “Nareah” – [Aagoo]

SAL9000   6/21/2009   A Library, CD

Isreal M, a.k.a, Isreal Martinez, an electroacoustic and experimental sound artist based in Mexico. Nareah, his first solo album has a theatrical feel to it. It has six tracks, segued, one flowing into the next. It is ambient and ambient noise and field recordings, but, with a sense of humor. Israel likes to surprize you with things you won’t expect, such as ducks quacking, swimming around and splashing in the water. Chuckle time!

Sonic Youth – “Eternal, The” – [Matador Records]

humana   6/20/2009   A Library, CD

On their 16th album, Sonic Youth sounds simply phenomenal. From the catchy opener to the slightly creepy closing track (in which Kim Gordon begs someone to suck her neck), these songs are unanimously fabulous in their masterful guitar work, drums, and bass. Each and every one rocks in its own way, and elements of psyche can be found throughout. This is just my cup of tea.

Steel An’ Skin – “Steel An’ Skin” – [Honest Jon’s]

humana   6/20/2009   12-inch, Reggae

Steel drum lovers rejoice! This reissue from the late 70s group Steel an??? Skin is fast-paced and upbeat. Side A is ???Afro Punk Reggae Dub,??? a chance for the flavors of Ghana, Nigeria, St. Kitts, Trinidad, and the U.K. (the birthplaces of the musicians) to mix and mingle in a wonderful dub. Side B opens with a :39 ???Gadzo Drumming,??? followed by ???Reggae Is Here Once Again,??? a happy, disco-like beat that features vocals and lasts 4:29. A sweet step back in time.

Rozenhall – Rozenhall – [Fylkingen Records]

Rarus Avis   6/20/2009   A Library, CD

A re-mastering and repackaging of two previously released LP???s (2001 & 2003), this CD is a collection of 5 quite different pieces. All are mixed-moving-surrounding sounds and natural and manipulated noise – some can be considered as drone though they aren???t at all. No name for Rozenhall’s style. Very intense. As the CD liner notes say, “Play loud!”

Trk 1: “A Plumage…” – Early 60???s satellite type mixed sounds going round and round the Earth, then they come at you. Grabs your ears with claws. Short piece but seems longer and moves through many uncomfortable spaces. Trk 2: “Eyeland Part 1” – Beginning of track has air movement sounds from what I can only imagine being inside the bellows of a large pipe organ – and descends into places you don???t like to look at from there. Trk 3: “Eyeland Part 2” – Total directed road-trip of ear-candy/pain. 26s of silence at end of track. Trk 4: “Grig-ailment” – Totally electronic and is like a lost child wandering in fear. Trk 5: “Sinister Laburnum” – long tones experimenting with micro-tonal collisions and distortions. Works well.

~~Rarus Avis

Sebastian – Original Soundtrack [coll] – [Harkit Records]

humana   6/19/2009   CD, Soundtrack

Soundtrack: This is a period piece for the sixties if there ever was one, full of suspense and intrigue appropriate to a movie about counter-espionage with a bevy of beauties in the wings. Be sure to read the liner notes. Tracks 12-23 are bonus tracks by father of electronic music Tristram Cary (and form component elements for Track 9). Enjoy.

Chopin, Henri – “Le Courpsbis & Co” – [nepless]

cinder   6/19/2009   A Library, CD

“This French avant-garde sound poet worked on the fringes of art and experimental music from the ’60s through to the ’80s. Utilizing his voice as a primary sound source, he constructed collages of distortions of the human voice, using analog tape machines to create loops and pitch shifts, resulting in bizarre collages of concrete noise and physicality.” -answers.com (haha). These tracks were all recorded between 1983 and 1992. It’s amazing that they’re all loops and manipulations of mouth sounds. Typewriting chitter chatting fast. Breathes in slow motion that send tingles down your neck. So many different takes on what the mouth can do, from clicks, licks, smacks, squishes & swallows. Amazing what one person can do with something that seems so granted. Love it!

Untitled [coll] – [Die Stadt]

cinder   6/19/2009   7-inch, A Library

Recorded live from a performance of theirs on May 9, 2003 in Bremen. Limited and no longer available. The Hafler Trio side is a weird distorted spoken word thing. Like someone was talking into an old microphone through a glass in the other room. No music, would be good to layer over another piece. The second side is a swirling tornado of icy electronics. Wavering up and cascading down in shimmery tones.

Wild Gunmen – “End Ov The World” – [Mad Monk]

cinder   6/19/2009   A Library, CD

I think this group is outta Cincinatti, Ohio. “Chaotic wastoid jams, cacaphonous raging, and crude acoustic punk ditties”. That sums it up pretty well. Male and female vocals, from dead-pan delivery to forced screams. Even a banjo and train whistle tossed in for good measure. Some sound like random live recordings, or they just decided to go with one take no matter how much they fucked up. Lots of low feedbacks that make your eardrums rattle. It’s like they all took a bunch of drugs and thought that they were making beautiful music together, but they’re really all in their own world…. forgetting to turn on their mics, not tuned, plugging in their amps at random times, zombie singing, ha!

Pink Noise, The – “Dream Code” – [Sacred Bones Records]

ophelia necro   6/19/2009   12-inch, A Library

This record is the first full length release from this French Canadian (Toronto) duo and was released in 2008. Most of the tracks off ‘Dream Code’ were from a CDR called ‘Odessa’ that was sent to Blank Dogs and Sacred Bones. Drum machines, pop-hooks, processed guitars and?? distorted vocals. They use a sampler, drum machine, guitar, cassette recorders, bass, synthesizers and a drum kit. Language on “Animals”.
Psychedelic kiddie pop that is spaced-out and spooky.