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Music Reviews

Detective Instinct Presents Mike Watt – [Sick Room]

lombard   5/31/2011   7-inch, A Library

As part of his limited edition 7″ series (KFJC’s Ophelia Necro previously reviewed his collaboration with Champagne), Detective Instinct (aka Englishman Oli Heffernan) collaborated with various artists. On this release from 2008, he worked with Mike Watt. Watt provides the spooky poetic vocals over Heffernan’s loops and field recordings that are both intense and twinkling. Watt’s low, suave voice recites the poetic lyrics on this short, but deep journey.

Frazer, Paula and Tarnation – “Now It’s Time” – [Birdman Recording Group]

lombard   5/31/2011   12-inch, Country

This March 2007 release, “Now It’s Time,” from Paula Frazer and Tarnation takes me back to the early 1990s in San Francisco, when Frazer was the toast of the town with her unique take on country-ish music (she started Tarnation in 1991). It always impressed me that with her genre-spanning musical history (from church choirs to jazz groups to the punk band Frightwig) she was able to turn goths and romantics on to a country-tinged project. This release from 2007 continues in that tradition. Frazer’s wavering vocals might remind you more of her former 4AD labelmates from back in the day (think Cocteau Twins and Throwing Muses) than of a traditional country singer. It’s a subtle, gorgeous sound, accented with pedal steel, violin, viola, cello. slide guitar, auto harp, banjo, hammer dulcimer, pump organ, etc. She’s working on new material, so this LP from a few years back is a lovely taste of more to come.

Megaphonic Thrift, The – “Decay Decoy” – [Sonic Unyon]

lombard   5/31/2011   A Library, CD

Released in March 2011, this debut full length from Norwegian band Megaphonic Thrift definitely calls to mind the hectic beauty of bands like Sonic Youth. The Bergen-based outfit (which began in 2007) utilizes heavy percussion at time, lots of fuzz, and male and female vocals. It ranges from pretty and toe-tapping to noisier with feedback and layered sounds.

Roberts, Matana – “Coin Coin Chapter One: Les Gens De Couleur Libres” – [Constellation]

lombard   5/24/2011   CD, Jazz

Recorded live in Montreal in 2010, this new 2011 release “Coin Coin…” by Matana Roberts will take you on an intense journey back to the closing days of slavery, when the narrator had to “hustle to survive.” It starts out as clearly a jazz album (albeit, a challenging jazz album with hectic instrumentation), but quickly morphs into something all together different, as Matana’s voice (which at times mirrors her sax, as it wails) and storytelling shine through. Blending jazz, folk, blues, spoken word, and acapella singing; it’s a deep ride through a painful past full of challenges (“I watched my parents die of yellow fever”) and triumphs (“I bought back all my children…and we worked that land…I now own 12,000 acres of land…I hustle to survive”). Often there are buried voices in the distance, perhaps ghosts of the past battling to be heard as their utter incantations in a foreign tongue (French? Creole?).

Hatakeyama, Chihei – “The River” – [Hibernate]

HackersMuse   5/17/2011   A Library, CD

Chihei Hatakeyama immerses us in liquid ambience with The River — an evocative collection of soothing sounds. Track titles merely skim the surface of the lush depths as Hatakeyama fluidly shifts between revitalizing, curious, and relaxed droning. Channel the musical currents to sail through the challenges of your day, or allow free-floating with a meditative listen as you drift off to sleep. A Temple in the Past, Under the Sun, Jade Green Water — sink in and savor the sound waves.