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Music Reviews

Sky Does Not Care About Me, The – “Mysterious Place” – [None]

cinder   12/30/2010   A Library, CD

Released on April Fools Day, 2010. Scott Freeman is the dude behind this project. Industrial, electronic, semi-noisy and sometimes ambient. Track 2 brings on the church bells and machine belts, ending with a scratchy space-like emission. All tracks do have rhythm to them, it’s not just blasts of noise and sounds….far out beats at times. They paint a spacey picture, though it’s not always pretty. For example, track 4 sounds like you’ve entered the Monks from Hell train ride, while track 8 gives you an upbeat drum beat and an evil bass line, like an untraditional spy theme. Super trippy. Turn off the lights, and get your imagination running!

Montgomery, Gen Ken – “Birds + Machines 1980-1989” – [Pogus Productions]

cinder   12/30/2010   A Library, CD

First off, I love the story Gen Ken wrote on the inside, under the tray. Finding love for everyday sounds that people take for granted, realizing that music doesn’t have to be what everyone expects. For this release, he went back and reviewed some of his stuff from the 80s and released it here on Pogus. Blipping and bleeping, droned out cuts. Titled appropriately well as you can imagine the electronic birds and feathered machines in unison. Almost like relaxing at an industrial park where dozens of blackbirds have nested. Some are short, just enough to tease, while others take you on a trip. Buzzing hums, shaky violins, bells… all sorts of instruments along with electronics. A few tracks have some low-recorded vocals/words on them (not singing). Track 14 recorded live at WFMU in 1982!

Beak> – “Beak>” – [Ipecac Recordings]

cinder   12/30/2010   A Library, CD

Beak> (no, that’s not a typo) were formed in Bristol, early 2009, by 3 guys – Billy, Matt & Geoff. They liked to record their music live in one room with no overdubs or repair, using only edits to create arrangements. This band could be the cousins of Liars and Genders. Distinct basslines and drums, with odd far-away unspeakable echoed words. Repetition flows through, giving a Neu vibe on track 4. Float into track 5 for all you Mono/Godspeed fans. An easily accessible, optimistic release.

Kashmere Stage Band – “Out of Gas But Still Burning” – [Kram]

Sir Cumference   12/14/2010   12-inch, Soul

Between 1968 and 1977, Conrad Johnson lead varying groups of kids from a high school in the Houston area – known as Kashmere Gardens – into a wonderful musical world of jazz, funk and soul. During this time, the Kashmere Stage Band competed in forty-six contests, winning all but four of them. They had a sound comparable to many of the contemporary professionals bands – being compared to the likes of the JBs and the Bar-Kays. Since the band’s final year, they have been rediscovered by hip-hop artists who have sampled many of their tracks, and have caused a renewed appreciation – and rerelease of material – from this impressive ensemble.

“Out of Gas But Still Burning” is the class from 1974’s album. Contained within it’s tracks are notable covers – Rhapsody in Blue, When I Fall in Love, amongst others – plus a couple of original pieces – Kash Register (performed with Cold Fire) and The Zero Point (composed by Conrad Johnson himself). All the tracks, with the exception of Angel (which features the vocal talents of Afro Love) are instrumental. While half of the tracks also appear on the CD set Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974, this appears to be an original pressing

Thirty members of the band reunited in 2008 – at a time when their alma mater was considered to be a “dropout factory” and threatened with closure – to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the bands creation and pay tribute to Mr. Johnson. The story of the band, and the reunion concert are the subject of an award winning film called Thunder Soul

Japanese Rockin’ Psyche & Punk ’65-’71 [coll] – [Columbia Music Entertainment]

lombard   12/14/2010   A Library, CD

Released in 2005 on Columbia out of Japan, this is an incredible collection of Japanese psychedelia and garage rock from 1965 to 1971. It’s fun, garagy, funky and full of 1960s psychedelic energy. Think groovy go-go dancers, more so than the “punk” mentioned in the title. Plenty of keys, guitars, and lovely ladies doing vocals on several tracks. There’s even a little Beach Boys-ish harmonizing on a track by Five Candles. Artists include Jackie Yoshikawa and the Blue Comets, Amy Jackson, Jacks, and Flower Travellin’ Band (with apparently their first single).

Pumice – “Worldwide Gullet” – [Nyali Recordings]

humana   12/11/2010   A Library, CD

More creative sounds emanate from New Zealand and this musician who is also a comic cartoon artist. On this CD he plays all the instruments (guitar, percussion, etc.) and lends his voice (which has a faintly reminiscent Doors quality). The songs range from noisy fuzz to snappy rock to pscyhe journeys to mellow folk.

Royal Baths – “Litanies” – [Woodsist]

Thurston Hunger   12/11/2010   12-inch, A Library

Their 7″ (as just Baths) was tremendously tremulous. They still
languish in malificent malaise on this full length, the mournful
exhausted-with-life spirit thrives, but a lot of tracks have
these poppy background bop-bop-bop vox with the moony and effete
lead vocals. Still Royal Baths have the talky ghost harmonies
and/or overlapping voices that seem like ice skates going in opposite
directions. Great tension, heightened by guitar work that seems
to enjoy its fear of heights, leaning over the mack truck simple
drum prodding below. Lyrics often capture the feeling of a
fallen angel enjoying the view he had on the plummet down.
Self-reviling rivals revelry. In the studio, their guitar effects
are lacey and varied like cobwebs on corpses. “After Death” and
“I Detest” sparkle, as if Laugh-In were filmed in Hades. “Drudgery”
echoes the angst of “Be Afraid of Me” from the aforementioned Rad
Key 7″. Rapturous running with San Franscissors…

-Thurston Hunger

Baggetta, Mike – “Canto” – [Mabnotes]

Thurston Hunger   12/11/2010   A Library, CD

Prepared/disrepaired guitar solo spins from Massachuser Mike
Baggetta. Starts with a sort of slippery bridge leading to
loose flat buzz notes. Then comes an almost nyckleharp bowed
sweep that gets scrapier than a rapier. Third is the bendy
one with some rattle and twank. Then pick shaves steel, some
bouncing involved. Panic vamp and tussle on #5 whole chords
moving in half steps, followed by #6’s maze quest that has
these nice repeat vibrating pings at crucial moments. Next up
sort of Mazzacane blues with harmonics for the hurting. Then
more strong prepared feeling, and a sort of robot repetition
of steps with a few beer bottle slides. And lastly a piece
that sounds the most dilapidated. Not for easy ears, and
Baggetta admits this is experimental in the pure sense of
the word (and the wonderfully impure pursuit of melody,
however twisted). Tweaky technique but still a beauty, aided
by Jon Roseneberg’s engineering (I’d like to have JR do a
KFJC special going over some of his fave releases.)

-Thurston Hunger

Standard Tribesmen – “Waiting” – [Mt. St. Mtn.]

Thurston Hunger   12/11/2010   7-inch, A Library

At this point we are deep in the New Garage revival. This localish
project, connecting dots between Berkeley and Davis, features Justin
Elorduy and also Chris Woodhouse of Mayyors. Put the accent on Davis
as the Tribe definitly have connections to the DJ corps of sister
blister transmitter KDVS (already hallowed for SS Records connections).
Elorduy switches out from behind the drums to chugga chugga some guitar
and vox that have a hint of hillbilly heckle. The secret ingredient
is sax here, evidently supplied by DJ Boomer of KDVS. His sax is
initially kind of locked deep in the mix, but eventually erupting out
for more of a guitar solo placebo than a chance Contortion. Rock. Solid.

-Thurston Hunger

RST – “Sunset Limited, The” – [Utech Records]

Thurston Hunger   12/11/2010   A Library, CD

Prolific Andrew Moon as RST delivers drones that have a
soundtracky (if not solar) flair. Dark humming black holes at
the core, but slow shifting pulses at the fringes. Like some
sort of sonic diffraction. Recorded in a long white cloud
known as Aotearoa to some, and New Zealand to others. As this
is out on Utech, I assume it was a live gig, but the recording
has a studio’s nuanced attention to detail. All effects are
well controlled, like docking a huge galactic guitar. No
scrape of misaligned metal, no squeal of runaway feedback.
Slow draping of chords, heavy delay on higher notes, and
feedback exists but it lands as gracefully as a bird on water.
Stability built from steadfast simplicity, the first four
tracks find their desolate soul in a more pronounced manner,
the latter four drift more aimlessly.

-Thurston Hunger

Darkhorse – “EP” – [Self -released]

cinder   12/9/2010   A Library, CD

Darkhorse is Adam Bosse, out of Massachusetts. All tracks were recorded in 2007, on guitar, except for the second track, which also includes various instrumenalists. What you have are deep, lush, hypnotic sounds. Floating drones and whimsical tones. Very peaceful and tranquil….except for the occasional stab.

Diagram A – “Limited Guts” – [Self -released]

cinder   12/9/2010   A Library, CD

A guy named Dan Greenwood, making some squiggly noise. Half of this was recorded on CDR, the other part on cassette in 2004. Remastered for this visually grotesque release. Let’s just hope that’s fake hair… Electronic noise, “power” noise if you want to say. Tracks range from 5 minutes, to 15. Not for the faint of heart. Track 2 is almost like a collection of knob sound effects. Wall-E vs. R2D2 in vintage Atari fashion. Bleeps, white walls and zip zaps.

Barrett, T.L. & Youth For Christ Choir – “Like a Ship…(Without a Sail)” – [Light in the Attic]

Cousin Mary   12/8/2010   12-inch, Soul

This legendary gospel album from the South Side of Chicago was self-released in 1971 by pastor and activist T.L. Barrett and then sold at Church sponsored events. Professional quality musicians hold down the rhythm section and keyboards while the very inspiring but authentic soloists and chorus lead us in the words.

The Wave of the West is feeling the spirit. Can I get an amen?!

Afrocubism – “Afrocubism” – [World Circuit]

Cousin Mary   12/8/2010   CD, International

This collaboration between musicians from Mali and Cuba playing both tunes from Cuba and Africa puts a new light on the African roots of Cuban music. Delightful beats, singing, instrumentals and percussion.

The Africans on this recording had been slated to perform on the seminal release “Buena Vista Social Club”, but were unable to get to that recording. “??Cuando llegar???” (When will I arrive? (track 2)) Fortunate for us, the answer is “ahora” (now).

Manning, Marc – “Here’s a Breaking Sound” – [Amelia Records]

humana   12/4/2010   A Library, CD

Yes, drony shoegaze is a good way to describe this music. From the hand-drawn wolf on the CD sleeve to the eerie song titles, everything about this release is original, somewhat dark, and resonating. Sometimes you hear Manning???s voice amidst the haze. Kind of reminds me of my trip into the MRI machine, in a good way.

McDonas, Thollem – “Gone Beyond Reason to Find One” – [Edgetone Records]

humana   12/3/2010   A Library, CD

Three solo piano tour de forces by talented McDonas. The first accompanied the films of Martha Colburn at the Outsound New Music Summit in July 2010. The second was recorded in November 2009 at Mills College. The third was recorded in December 2009 at the Area Sismica Piano Festival in Meldola, Italy. Classically dramatic, poignant, and fitting for the song titles. Get your piano groove on!