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Music Reviews

Figiel, Piotr – “Organy Hammonda” – [Bureau B.]

Cousin Mary   5/29/2010   12-inch, Jazz

Originally recorded in Poland in 1971, this was the first organ release by pianist and film music composer Piotr Figiel. Including jazz, funk, latin and even featuring a Chopin Prelude (maybe that is required for a Polish musician?) – great fun with a heavy Hammond organ sound. Other soloists include Tomasz Stanko (trumpet), Janusz Muniak (flute and tenor sax) and Janusz Stefanski. Although it occasionally sounds a bit dated, thanks are in order for Bureau B. for reissuing this treasure.

PGM: First track on side A begins with the sound of walking in.?? Last track on side B ends with the sound of walking away.

Youngs, Richard – “Like A Neuron” – [Dekorder]

cinder   5/27/2010   12-inch, A Library

One reviewer said “volatile psychedelia and zen electronics”, which sums it up. Richard Youngs is a 40-something year old British musician, living in Glasgow. With cover art like a new Black Dice record, the music could be its softer cousin. Interesting repeating patterns, and lush sounding un-danceable beats. A mesh of battling keyboards, shooting psychedelic comets, muffled low bass, and shimmering daydreams… really pretty & mellow; easily accessible.

Thelema Trio – “Neither From Nor Towards” – [Innova/American Composers]

Cousin Mary   5/26/2010   A Library, CD

The members of the trio met at Belgium???s Royal Conservatoire of Music and became interested in playing in and encouraging compositions for the very unique combination of piano, clarinet, and saxophone. This CD features composers from Peru, Argentina and the United States – there is a variety of sounds but overall it is elegant and graceful, at times ominous or melancholy, and often playful. The very skilled playing has vibrant tone, both for the reeds and the piano.

Thelema Trio’s website has lots of information, including LINKS to composers’ websites.

PGM: HyeKyung Lee is female, the other composers are male.

Holly Martins, The – “No. No. Yes. No.” – [Edgetone Records]

Cousin Mary   5/24/2010   CD, Jazz

Kasey Knudsen on sax, Eric Vogler on guitar form this jazz trio with the very unique vocalist, Lorin Benedict whose scat features a somewhat German sounding made-up language. Without a rhythm section, each must handle both the role of soloist and sideman. Highly improvised, most cuts are composed by trio members with exceptions of one track each for Irving Berlin and George & Ira Gershwin.

Holly Martins (played by Joseph Cotton) is the main character in the classic film “The Third Man”.

The vocals are totally original, all cuts are greatly enjoyable.

Golia, Vinnie & Kowald, Peter – “Mythology” – [Kadima Collective Recordings]

Cousin Mary   5/24/2010   CD, Jazz

Liner notes tell of Vinnie Golia’s longtime admiration of bassist Peter Kowald, their opportunity to record these tracks together, and then Golia’s desire to release them after Kowald’s death.

By turns fluttering, squawking, groaning like a didgeridoo in these improvisations, Golia plays a wide range of woodwinds that contrasts and nestles nicely against Kowald’s bass. It appears that the terms Pizz (pizzacato: plucking) and Arco (Italian for bow) refer to the technique used for the particular track on the bass.

Thompson, Chester – “Powerhouse” – [Black Jazz]

Cousin Mary   5/24/2010   CD, Jazz

Hammond B-3 organist Chester Thompson recorded these tracks for Oakland’s now legendary Black Jazz label in 1971. He went on to play with Tower of Power and Santana.

A departure from the usual B-3 jazz combo, this group is organ-sax-trombone-drums, with the trombone adding a very special touch. Great jazz funk, separation of bass and treble on the organ makes for a rich sound.

Music From The Film – “Bit B/w Crushface” – [Self -released]

humana   5/21/2010   7-inch, A Library

Weird sounds abound on these two songs recorded by Maryland musician Gary Young to be broadcast on a UK radio program. There’s everything from banjo to glockenspiel to rain stick to theremin (played by Arthur Harrison) to wind-up toys, all designed to create playful noise. Side A is more melodic, while Side B is more crunchy, but each is delightful in its own cacophonous way. There’s even a cardboard adaptor to play at “warp mix” speed. Enjoy!

Scott-Heron, Gil – “Me and The Devil” – [XL Recordings]

humana   5/21/2010   7-inch, A Library

This is the first single release from Scott-Heron’s “I’m New Here” album (released in February). Sides A and B both highlight the singer’s bluesy voice, but B has an orchestral setting that is a bit less dark than A. Catchy tune, no matter which side you pick–makes you glad that Scott-Heron holds onto his musicianship despite whatever else happens to him.

McDonas, Thollem and John Dieterich – “All For Now” – [Dromos Records]

humana   5/21/2010   A Library, CD

How fitting that these two musicians should come together for their first collaboration at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art! McDonas on piano and voice, and Dieterich (from Deerhoof) on guitar here present lovely, spare, sometimes jarring, sometimes gentle compositions that are thoroughly modernistic works of art in their own right. You’ll feel like a connoisseur as you listen to these artists and enjoy the cover work of visual artist Martha Colburn.

Kirchen, Bill – “Word to The Wise” – [Proper American]

ArtCrimes   5/20/2010   CD, Country

Seems like every artist gets to a point in the career when they think, “Why don’t I invite all my friends to guest on my new album?” This is usually followed by the sound of a thousand phone calls from lawyers, resulting in historic mismatches such as R.L.Burnside with Kid Rock, Alison Moorer with Kid Rock, and probably an inevitable exhumation of Ray Charles’s corpse to appear with Kid Rock. Fear not, Bill Kirchen not only ignored Kid Rock’s poke on Facebook but instead did duets with people he actually knows, respects, and has played with before. It does make for some stylistic leaps here and there, but the default setting is classic country weepers and honky tonk with side trips to swing, blues, and whatever it is that Elvis Costello does. (“Man In The Bottom of The Well” is a nice throwback to Elvis’ “angry young man” sound, and Kirchen gets to do some biting guitar heroics). Some original tunes are made to order for the guests, and suit them fine, and the cover tunes are thankfully so obscure you won’t immediately think, “Oh, this was much better done by Merle.” Among Kirchen’s own numbers here, “Time Will Tell the Story” is a swampy country-soul number (and may be my favorite here), “I Don’t Work that Cheap” is a goofy, mid-60s-era Dylan pastiche, and “Valley of the Moon” apparently features Norton Buffalo’s last recording session. (( crimes ))

Courtis/Russell/Prevost/Mattin – “Sakada Sessions, The” – [Azul Discografica]

cinder   5/20/2010   12-inch, A Library

Two side-longs with slightly different players. Side A was a performance/exhibition exploring sound as a weapon. Courtis on guitar/electronics, Prevost on percussion, and Mattin on computer feedback, recorded in 2006. Starts out very minimal, banging on a can style. Whining guitar and whimpering strings, and what sounds like a moist hand sliding on metal (cringe). Sounds take turns, and eventually come all together in a tardis-like drone. Side B replaces Courtis for Russell on synth. This side is more of a power saw infested drone. Some high pitched frequencies, and warbling electronics. Has a science fiction feel almost, in an experimental sound way.

World’s Lousy With Ideas Vol. 8, The [coll] – [Almost Ready Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/18/2010   12-inch, A Library

Guilty as charged. Pretty much all of these bands except Blank Dogs have had solid success on KFJC already. So I guess this is a popular collection of the unpopular. Vivian Girls unmask themselves as Lush fans. Newcomers (to me) Blank Dogs sound like they are sneaking into the Cassettencombinat. Times New Viking excites cheerleaders for backing vox. Intelligence gets messy on the Mersey. Guinea Worms have filthy fun with “Soiled Sender.” Sic Alps nails a song before it actually becomes a song. Thee Oh Sees continue to mine the solid gold secret garage beneath the garage. That mic they record with should be counted as part of the band! Tyvek to me are the answer for a nation pitying Detroit, they do some heavy riff drilling, mad Michigan pride. Pink Reason concludes things with a feedback shanty accompanied by drum tumult. The bass is up on these tracks, the vox are squelched and the reverb is omnipresent. Dingy and ringy sonic clingies. Kudos to Almost Ready for this time capsule, and for the previous seven 7″‘s in the World’s Lousy series.

Feeling of Love, The – “OK Judge Revival” – [kill shaman]

Thurston Hunger   5/18/2010   12-inch, A Library

Listen now to tomorrow’s Messthetiques? Franco-frantic panic rock. Sacre rhythm and bleus? All for one and one-four-five. Aiming for le roast beef and us hamburgers, singing in English and swinging with the fine Californian label Kill Shaman. Hell bandleader Guillaume Marietta even saves American mouths from le butchery by just going by his first initial. The album seems to be swimming with moustaches and cops, it might be a sting. The keyboards
escaped from the circus (and at times miss their mother the calliope). The guitar is mixing absinthe and Budweiser. Most of the numbers achieve a Brian Jonestown Massacre haze, pulling enough redundant riffage from the rock ‘n’ roll closet but messing it about with frayed wires and dirty vocals to give it all that 1:30 am and the club vibe. A couple of odd balls, “God Willing” is a suicide watch for a Velvet Underground fan and then “(Am I) Fading Out” rides a sped up gamelan into foreign territory. Play this lp for go-go dancers about to pass out and spy guitarists who lost their passports.

Amanaz – “Africa” – [Normal Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/18/2010   CD, International

Just the fact that a record from Zambia circa 1975 survived is pretty cool (sadly three of the original members did not). I’m curious about the band members, it seems they had pretty significant exposure to Western rock (and one tasty fuzzbox). I’m curious if the decree that music on the state radio station be homegrown came with any kind of funding for artists? This album almost seems like some early rough tapes (so that will add to the appeal for some) as the band was hashing out numbers? Did they tour much? There are two instros, the unassuming opener and “Green Apple.” These could have been from anywhere, their rock approach is solid and studied. On many other numbers, the band sings in English, and it seems they are even thinking in English. The title track marries a nice call and response in Bemba (I’m guessing) and proud surging choruses, then it bottoms out for a nervous woodpecker and wah minute (way down in the mix, but beautiful). “Nsunka Lwendo” (another Bemba? bomber!) blends light High Life and Heavy Metal then ultimately goes for the Michael Schenker. “Making the Scene” has that disjointed swagger that rules wherever it comes from. They close the album with the du rigeur, albeit pretty, slow-dance make-out ballad of the
era; cool swaying falsetto back-ups. Then one of those cool voice-overs, back in Bemba(?). At times such great students of “rock” their more fervent independent sound is sadly downplayed. No silimba, no thumb piano (a la Konono), no kalimbu. Very nice liner notes…

Kyriakides, Yannis / Moor, Andy – “Rebetika” – [Unsounds]

humana   5/16/2010   A Library, CD

This is Andy Moor on guitar and Yannis Kyriakides on computer offering their rendition of Greek folk music dating from before WWII. There is singing on 1, but for the most part these represent the creative talents of two musicians who infuse traditional sounds from Greece with unique manipulations, rainstick vibrations, and strummings.

Holy Ghost Reception Committee #9, The – “Songs For Liturgical Worship” – [Void Records]

Max Level   5/16/2010   12-inch, A Library

Surprisingly cool re-issue of 1960’s Christian folk-pop-rock by a group of New York high school students. It’s cool because the expected lyrics about faith, truth, and salvation contain unexpected references to Vietnam, racism, civil rights, and other 60’s-era folk-protest subjects. LSD, napalm, and the KKK are mentioned. Some of the songs rock out and others have a more introspective sound. Electric guitars and bass lead the way, with a touch of keyboards and percussion. As the liner notes say: “The words were loud and clear. The beat made sense.” Supposedly these kids tried drugs and loved the Beatles and stuff, and I sort of believe it: a Christian song titled “The Magic Ice Cube” with lyrics such as “as you step into the sunlight, please remember that it’s non-existent”… well, that doesn’t come along every day. Even the cover art is super trippy. Those who enjoy nearly psychedelic folk-rock should be all over this.

McGuire, Mark – “Tidings/Amethyst Waves” – [Weird Forest Records]

humana   5/15/2010   A Library, CD

Emeralds??? band member Mark McGuire offers an intense atmospheric trip through ambient soundscapes on this dual solo release. Four epic passages characterized by electric guitars and synth repetitiveness that create a lovely trance. 1 begins with a sample from TV show Northern Exposure. 2 is my favorite with its dreamy drift calling up images of sun slanting lazily through the waters Along the Coral Reef (it even has cricket song). 2 and 4 are great in their own way, as well. Turn it on and space out.

Beaches – “Beaches” – [Mistletone]

humana   5/15/2010   A Library, CD

Well, I wanted more from this group, so we went back in time to get it. These 12 songs from the five-women Melbourne band are delectably intense–great guitar work and drums, hazy layers of vocals bringing you psyche, surf, gaze, and rock. 1, 7, 9, 11 are instrumentals. 5 is a standout track with cool bass and beach sounds at the end. 12 has a remarkable overlaying of different voices saying poetic words printed on the insert. Enjoy.

Mudboy/Auk Theatre – “Mudboy/Auk Theatre” – [Dnt Records]

cinder   5/14/2010   A Library, CD

Mudboy is an experimental artist from Providence Rhode Island, while Auk Theatre was created by Irene Moon, currently in Florida. I think this was recorded in 2006?, originally on cassette (the tracks have that lovely hissssssing in the background).
Track one begins with a clarinet and a keyboard, almost sounding like they’re practicing scales. Then Auk comes in with some spoken words. It trips out for a bit, then slides into a vintage relaxing beachside Hawaiian cocktail tune, complete with warpage, ticking clocks and bells. Even a treat from Rod Serling? Oh yes. Track goes all over the place!
Track two gives more mellow vibes. Snaps and mumbles. Ocean waves and black birds chirping. A hypnotic beat in the background. This track is better for those who like the more melodic, rhythmic types of experimental sounds.