Music Reviews

Art Jerks – “Dysphemism Treadmill” – [BatHot Axe]

Max Level   12/22/2009   A Library, CD

A raw guitar/drums/sax no-wave type of trio backs songwriter/performance artist George Korein as he delivers a batch of pessimistic lyrics. There are some crazy and fun musical moments when the band gets something going, but I think I would like this better if Korein didn’t always sound so negative and apathetic. The lyrics just drag the whole thing down. When he says “I don’t like to like the things that you like…” and “I don’t want to care that I’m wrong…” it’s like he’s daring us to care, and well, I guess I don’t. I did like the jagged and noisy and unpredictable music, though. If you’re a fan of Korein and his skewed outlook, you’ll probably enjoy this a bit more than I did.

Peste Noire – “La Sanie Des Siecles – Panegyrique De La Degenerescence” – [Transcendental Creations]

Number 6   12/21/2009   A Library, CD

rerelease of debut album from one of France’s most influential black metal bands in the modern resurgence of the oft criticized, maligned and despised genre. if you missed the raw demos and the limited 2006 release, now’s your chance to hear what attracts and repulses so many. Pest Noire, Black Plague in French and aka Kommando Peste Noire, is all about atmosphere, mood, french nationalism and of course, satanism. what separates them from the ordinary is Famine’s melodic counterpoint to the medieval and poetic decay evident in the lo-fi din of torture and violence. waltz, classical and choral elements merge with wide-ranging guitar solos, blast beats and harsh gagged shrieks that honor the icon of low culture in France’s history. this laid the groundwork for the mentally ill conceived Folkfuck Folie, a masterpiece for some, a disaster for most.


Emergency String (X)tet, The – “Meridians” – [Setola Di Maiale]

humana   12/20/2009   CD, Jazz

Jazz: For this incarnation, the Emergency String (x)tet is a quintet, featuring Adria Otto and Angela Hsu on violins, Bob Marsh and Doug Carrol on cellos, and Tony Dryer on double bass. This is a live recording at San Francisco???s Meridian Gallery on May 19, 2009. Skittering and spare free improvisation without structure is the name of the game.

Espers – “III” – [Drag City]

humana   12/17/2009   A Library, CD

Sometimes classed as ???New Weird America,??? the psych folk contained on this fourth release from Philadelphia band Espers is is transcendent and certainly leads you to believe that the musicians possess the paranormal abilitles their name suggests (ESPers, or extrasensory perception practitioners). The gorgeous folk vocals of Meg Baird and Greg Weeks are set to amazing psych guitars, cello, violins, and percussion. The textures are mellow and each song has just the right amount of time to develop and run its course. True beauty.

McDaniels, Eugene – “Headless Heroes of The Apocalype & Outlaw” – [Atlantic]

Cousin Mary   12/15/2009   CD, Soul

This CD reissues two releases from 1970-71 that were withdrawn after an irate Spiro Agnew (VP under Nixon) complained to Atlantic Records. These protest songs seem tame and a little dated now, but the social and political problems vocalist/composer Eugene McDaniels raises are still true today. They feature 2 fine groups of instrumentalists and McDaniels is in great voice.

Eugene McDaniels is probably best known for having written the great Eddie Harris standard ???Compared to what???? and Roberta Flack???s hit ???Feel like makin??? love???.

Frith, Fred – “Impur II” – [ReR Usa]

Cousin Mary   12/15/2009   A Library, CD

Impur 2 was an unannounced performance — audience members had to happen upon it. This recording was made a little later by the same musicians, then was edited and re-mastered by Fred Frith for release.

It???s a wild combination of noise and music (at times sounding like rock, folk, minimalist classical or you name it) with occasional ranting in French. Oddly enjoyable.

PGM: Track names and timings are under the CD.

Throbbing Gristle – “Third Mind Movements, The” – [Industrial Records]

lombard   12/15/2009   A Library, CD

Around since the 1970s, long-time industrial band Throbbing Gristle brings us “The Third Mind Movements,” a CD release that was crafted in 2009 to coincide with their U.S. tour.

It begins with a twinkly piece with sort of a soundtrack feeling to it. It has a bright start, leading into some haunted processed voice. Throughout the release we hear repetitive electronics, with a tribal and mystical bent to them. Sometimes there are creepy voices or footsteps or repetitive claps. You might hear bells, buzz, stomp, clomping feet through a darkened muddy forest, or a messed up bit from a retro jazz record processed through a tin-can telephone (or was that a dying police siren?).

It all makes for an intriguing listen.

Keszler, Eli – “Tilt” – [REL Records]

lombard   12/15/2009   A Library, CD

Providence, Rhode Island-based Eli Keszler creates some challenging sounds on this live recording of acoustic percussion. Tilt, originally released as a CD-R, this lovingly crafted re-issue is limited to 300 numbered copies and features artwork by Eli Keszler. The sounds on here were creating using crotales, metal, snares, and double bowed cymbal sticks. My favorite piece is the first, which beautifully incorporates clanking, glass-like noises, bells, and what sounds like small metal objects getting dropped and shook. Other pieces buzz and shriek, with the sounds of bowed metal and shrill high frequencies. It can get a bit ominous, so you might not want to listen to this alone.

Doronco Gumo – “Old Punks” – [Dilettante Music Publishing]

lombard   12/15/2009   A Library, CD

Tokyo-based Doronco Gumo has an impressive pedigree, with Doronco lending his bass playing chops to Les Rallizes Denudes (as well as Suishou no Fune and DAS). On this 2008 Japanese release, “Old Punks,” he’s joined by members of Maher Shalal Hash Baz for some interesting Japanese rock. Hints of psych, surf rock, art rock, and a bit of the late 70s creep in to the songs; many with a talk-sing approach and some with female vocals. It’s slow and plodding and is accented by minimalistic bassoon, trumpet, and piano. It ends with Mirai No Hitomi, a piece with a ghostly Joy Division presence embedded in it.

An LP version of this was recently released in the U.S. (with an additional track) on Holy Mountain.

Sanders, Pharoah – “Finest” – [Dopeness Galore]

Cousin Mary   12/15/2009   12-inch, Jazz

Dutch label ???Dopeness Galore??? re-release of Pharoah Sanders??? 1987-90 recordings made for the Timeless label, also Netherlands based. Lots of variety from funky and Latin, dreamy versions of standards, and a standout sax solo on the track ???The Bird Song???.

Glorious, graceful, recommended!

Collectables Jazz Classics [coll] – [Collectables Records]

humana   12/12/2009   CD, Jazz

This is smooth and well-produced and absolutely accessible jazz. Tracks 1-10 feature the lovely jazz harp of Dorothy Ashby, accompanied by bass and horns. As one of the great jazz harpists and composers, Ashby forged ground in many ways. Tracks 11-14 were recorded live at the Top of the Gate in 1968 and treat us to the jazz piano of Junior Mance, whose illustrious career is ongoing. He is joined by David Newman on sax (13) and flute (14). Track 12 is a bluesy gem. You can???t go wrong with anything on this CD–it???s all swinging and meant for background music to good, upbeat times.

Eyes Like Saucers – “Parmallee, Tribute to a Dog” – [Ruralfaune Records]

humana   12/11/2009   A Library, CD

Jeffrey Knoch is Eyes Like Saucers, and he loved his dog, Parmalee, to whom this CD is dedicated. Knoch, once the Farfisa organist for Urdog, now specializes in modified Indian pedal harmonium (think pump organ), glockenspiel, toy piano, and other instruments (marimba?). These songs are quite lovely, all instrumental except the last song, a lilting, heartwrenching tune in which Knoch???s rich voice speaks and sings praises to his best friend, soulmate, and advisor.

Kid Acne – Romance Ain’t Dead – Lex Records (2007)

MSTiZA   12/9/2009   CD, Hip Hop

UK rapper/graffiti artist Kid Acne grabs the mic, dissing, pissing, ripping, and reminiscing. Req One claims to have “taken old-fashioned records and programmed them in to Fruity Loops”, but don’t write it off. These tracks may be laden with samples in landslides, but they are sequenced with emphasis. Don’t be discouraged by the samples, they are used in creative mentages, sometimes assaulting and other times simple in the breakdowns. I suggest you read the liner notes for the details on them. Vocals are humorous and clever; reminiscent of Kool Keith and his tenure in the UMCs, Beastie Boys, or Audio Two. On Track 5 you will find some of the smoothness of Slick Rick and LL Cool J. Lyrics are aggressive, entertaining, and follow the storytelling styles of the MCs mentioned. The release is consistently held together, intentionally?, by this throwback to the new jack sound of the late 80s early 90s in rap music.

3WR: Neo New Jack

FCC: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10,

Wainwright, Loudon III – “High Wide & Handsome” – [2nd Story Sound Records]

ArtCrimes   12/8/2009   CD, Country

Loudon Wainwright III is not someone we usually associate with the performance of other people’s songs, but he’s long admired the songs of old-time banjo picker Charlie Poole’s catalog, which serve as the starting point for this collection of new and old songs, all songs either performed by Poole during his short (but at points, hugely successful) career in the 30s, or newly-composed songs by Wainwright and producer Dick Connette (who also sings & plays here) which are informed by Poole’s colorful, tragic life. Joining Wainwright are various singing members of his extended family (a sibling, three children, two ex-wives, and numerous ex-sisters-in-law) as well as session players from the folk, jazz, & bluegrass world. The new material here often comments on songs Poole himself did, or provides a narrative to incidents in his life. This is not so much a traditional music album as it is a soundtrack for a never-made docudrama about Poole’s life, with enough bumps and turns for a mini-series or two (and Wainwright confesses to having envisioned a screenplay for a film about Poole many years ago, in which he would take the lead role). ((( crimes )))

PGM: CD2 #6 instrumental

Mapfumo, Thomas & The Acid Band – “Hokoyo!” – [Water]

ArtCrimes   12/7/2009   CD, International

Thomas Mapfumo has long been associated with a type of music called “Chimurenga,” the Shona word for “struggle” or “uprising,” which gained prominence as colonial Rhodesia’s white minority rule began to crumble, leading to an independent Zimbabwe. The Chimurenga style bases its guitar parts on the sound of the mbira (thumb piano), and uses the Shona language. Although the name “Acid Band” might suggest some psychedelic aspects, this is in fact nothing of the sort… the music is upbeat in tempo (the drummer rides the high hat pretty relentlessly throughout), sometimes influenced by Western R&B and soul styles of the late 70s (particularly track 1) but mostly more obviously African with interlocking vocals and percussive guitar similar to the Jit and Zouk styles. The acid side of the story perhaps is in the corrosive spirit of the lyrics, which recast the struggle for independence in mythical terms, drawing from Shona legends. This music spoke directly to the Shona people while not seeming so obviously subversive to the ruling class. Mapfumo went on to become more radical with his later work, a sort of Zimbabwean Bob Marley. ((( crimes )))

Group Bombino – “Guitars From Agadez Vol. 2” – [Sublime Frequencies]

ArtCrimes   12/7/2009   CD, International

Volume 2 of Sublime Frequencies “Agadez” series focuses on a single group, Group Bombino, working in the Toureg style played by desert nomads. This music is guitar based and tied to the Toureg’s struggle for self-determination, with tempos matching the gait of the camel (in fact, a camel is one of the first things we hear on track 1). Bombino himself does most lead vocals. The first 4 tracks are studio tracks, played on acoustics with handclaps and sparse percussion, Tracks 5-9 are electric live performances recorded (with adequate-to-good sonic quality) in Agadez with full drum kit and the spiky electric guitar interplay we associate with groups like Terakaft. These latter tracks are far more Western sounding, although sung in the local language. Although somewhat intended as a call to action for Toureg independence, this is also potentially some party-down stuff, especially track 9.

PGM: Track 2 has a spoken intro to start. Tracks 3-4 segue with ambient desert sounds. (((( crimes )))))

Local Shakedown, The – Compilation Number Three [coll] – [Wax Trax]

humana   12/5/2009   A Library, CD

This is a treasure trove of eclectic selections in a 2-CD package compiled by KVCU Boulder, Radio 1190, the student-run radio station of University of Colorado, Boulder. Rock, electronica, folk, country–lots of genres that allow you to ???sit back and enjoy some of the best music Colorado has to offer??? (Disc One, 1). There???s something for everyone here. See inside for breakdown of songs by genre.

Pocahaunted – “Passage” – [Troubleman Unlimited]

humana   12/4/2009   12-inch, A Library

This is intensely relaxing music, the kind you expect to hear when you???re getting a massage. It whisks you to tribal visions and rhythms with gentle guitar and percussive drone, male chanting that summons images of chieftains dancing purposefully around a fire, and an earthy reverence. Amanda Brown and Bethany Cosentino are joined by Bobb Bruno and Cameron Stallones in this creation of ambient goodness. Side A is more tribal; Side B is more drone/trance. B2 is the most psychedelic.