Fundraiser 2018 — Donate now!

Music Reviews

Great Falls & Kenji Siratori – “Great Falls & Kenji Siratori” – [Debacle Records]

cinder   5/31/2012   A Library, CD

Collaboration between Kenji and Great Falls (Seattle I think). Noisy experimentalism with stern Japanese spoken word. Various effects make Kenji either delay, distort or straight up sound like he’s right in your ear. Guitar feedbacks and cranky drones. Some tracks give a more horror movie feel to them, child like voices echoing in the chaos, while others give a ‘Dead Man’ desert feel. Some while just annihilate your head. Super neat noise!

Father You See Queen – “47” – [Flingco Sound System]

cinder   5/31/2012   A Library, CD

A duo of Mona and Makr, from Minneapolis. Surreal, dreamy and ethereal with a slight edge. Electronics and acoustic drums play with a whimsical fairy voice singing tales, almost medieval in cadence. Some float on more pop melodies, a sugar sweetness I’m not used to. Dare I say this would appeal to Bjork lovers? Not as quirky, but in the same dream state.

White Suns – “Sinews” – [Load Records]

abacus   5/30/2012   A Library, CD

With their first release out on ugEXPLODE and this one on Load Records you know this has to have some power and unpredictability and yes, another full-assault, iron blitzkrieg from this blistering Brooklyn trio. An overwhelming leviathan of scraping guitars and ceaselessly pounding drums interrupted by sudden, nerve-wracking drops and builds that threaten to tear apart but never give you the privilege of release. Fire Sermon especially tests your patience with minutes of a tense, monotone buzz that teases you with burgeoning drums and rivulets of feedback seeping through the seams of this destructive monster inflating beyond its means. They constantly hold you just over the precipice, at times curbing the onslaught as on ??Flesh Vault,??so that they can recite to you their desperately painful and powerful poetry, revealing the bleak vastness of their wreckage. Oath??closes with an apocalyptic anthem that tortures your senses with expectations all the way to the very sudden, cold conclusion.

Americans In France – “Crawling” – [Odessa Records]

mickeyslim   5/30/2012   A Library, CD

Toe-tapping post punk from Florida natives Casey Cook, Josh Lajoie and Kent Howard, who’ve added some intense flavor of metal, kind of, maybe it’s just the heavy, grinding sounds that seems to teem from Florida. Some call this band garagey, but I’d say it sounds too produced, and it’s not as hard hitting.

The whole thing has a disconnected quality to it; the music and lyrics seem to go hand in hand, but they sound like they are really far away from each other.. not sure how to explain that one. I feel bad for whoever “sylvia!” is on track 10, and her crooked teeth. Track 4 begs you to “breastfeed yourself!” Stay away from track 8 and 7 is the best/strangest song on the album (watch for FCC.) This album is distorted and fuzzy, we got male/female vocals, haunting basslines, and awesome riffage. As a beer, this album would be a hefty Blonde Bock…

Rothenberg, Ned – “Inner Diaspora” – [Tzadik]

Art Crimes   5/30/2012   CD, Jazz

Beautifully arranged (and engineered) music for reeds, guitar, strings, and tabla. Leaning toward harmony and texture rather than some of the skronkier Tzadik releases, this could have snuck out on ECM had Zorn been too busy. Rothenberg wrote all the pieces here, but there’s plenty of room for all the players to make themselves heard. This breaks out of the klezmer ghetto in a big way, and into the wide open spaces with the tabla especially adding some propulsion to what could have been a little too laid back otherwise. ((( crimes )))

Fraction & Fresh Kils – “Extra Science” – [Kilzone Productions]

surferrosa   5/30/2012   CD, Hip Hop

Tornoto emcee Fraction teams up with Ontario producer Fresh Kils to form the two’s first collaboration. The beats flow with an itch and a scratch. The rhymes are tight, delivering tales, philosophies and prophecies. Samplage is heavy, with a hats off to that old soul library, amongst others. The art of cut and paste still lives! The production here is artful, clever, never dull and always original. FCC on tracks 2, 3 and 8. -Surfer Rosa

Gudnadottir, Hildur – “Leyfdu Ljosinu” – [Touch]

Cousin Mary   5/30/2012   A Library, CD

Hildur Gudnadottir is a classically trained Icelandic cellist. “Leyfdu Ljisunu” is Icelandic for “Allow the light”. This recording was a live performance (with no audience) for cello, voice and electronics. Very lovely, ethereal, and moving. At times, it has a big almost symphonic sounds, at others it is understated and minimal.

Japanese Koto Orchestra – “Five Kotos, Hoteki, Shamisen and Shakuhachu” – [Lyrichord Discs, Inc]

surferrosa   5/30/2012   12-inch, International

The Koto is an ancient classical Japanese instrument which dates back to possibly before the 8th century, though koto music became well established around the 16th century. Playing the Koto well is a respectable accomplishment that enhances the marital prospects of well-bred Japanese girls (that is a quote! read the liner notes) This instrument typically has 13 strings, sometimes 17 or 18 and is usually 6 feet or longer. The Koto is plucked. It sounds almost like a cross between some sort of lute and harp. Other instruments featured here are the Shamisen, a bowed string instrument elemental to the kabuki music sound, and the Shakuhachi, a bamboo flute which doubled as a weapon for masterless samurai who were forbidden to carry weapons. The musicianship here echoes of mastery. Stunning melodies and counter-melodies of plucked and bowed strings, intertwining with one another and forming a daydream of the Japanese countryside. The nimble fingers of these musicians produce the tremolo pick and haunting yet delicate tones. Sounds of the orient intrigue your ears with the non western sense of rhythm and scale. Side A is one long piece which goes through many movements, heavy dynamics and variations in intensity. Like an old folk tale never meant for words. Side B contains two shorter pieces with stringwork to set you besides yourself. Quite stunning. -Surfer Rosa

Stilluppsteypa – “Reduce By Reducing” – [Fire Inc/Some]

The Mole   5/30/2012   A Library, CD

Having no previous knowledge of Stilluppsteypa, I dug myself in for some serious research. What I discovered about this Icelandic endeavor into electroglitch, was a lesson in Sonology. Founding member Heimer Bjorgulfsson studied this sound theory in 1997 at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague, and the technology is used in medical diagnosis, the Sonogram. The use of his studies brought out this 1998 release on Fire Inc., Reduce by Reducing ,with Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson and Helgi Thorsson, this five track CD, will take you to various levels of audio awareness. Not as playful as other works, which include collaborative efforts
from Halfer Trio, and Melt Banana, Heirmir delivers a wide range of brain twists and turns. Track one starts off around a sludge pond in a dark swamp, a single frog croaks, the substance that he feasts on are illuminated fragments of gray matter. Track 2, low tone drones, short and sweet. Track 3, a distorted message from the abyss, warns of a menacing bacterial crawly thing, that with a pounding air gun, proceeds to disconnect brain cells with each forceful hit. Track 4 takes you up and beyond space and time, a Gort-like figure beckons you to follow, then sudden panic, and all is lost in the void, and Track 5 finds you in a diving bell fathoms below the surface waiting for the air to be sucked out and your head to collapse. Heirmir left Stilluppsteypa in 2002, and is now internationally know as an abstract painter and artist, with exhibits around the world. This is by far the best usage of Sonology, and by the way…#4 is a remix by Ryoji Ikeda. This eats brain matter and you’ll love it.

Gustafsson, Mats – “Bengt” – [Utech Records]

mickeyslim   5/29/2012   12-inch, A Library

Yet another mind-melding album from Mats Gustafsson on Utech Records, this time it’s his solo work on Grafton alto saxophone, paying homage to Bengt Nordstrom (1936-2000). Bengt was a musician who played the Grafton, and who’s music is explained in the liner notes as “simple songs and sounds, as well as mistakes were part of his atonal way of playing, adding new explorations to his experience.” Cool. Gustafsson utilizes all the sounds a sax can make, plus some mouth sounds for good taste. The instant compositions are fragile and mystical, intense and sometimes awkward. The notes are relentless and keep hitting you hard, but its relaxing somehow.

A-side is a casual stroll the park, but only if the park was from a David Lynch movie. Spare and anxious; playful, but like in a “I’m about to play an awful prank on you” sort of way. The first half of the B-side starts off slow and quiet before going into broken blue jazz, almost sounding like a love song. Then take a ride on a psychotic train where the horn doesn’t stop blowing, and only stopping at stations to pick up confused listeners. 18 and 20 minutes of fun! Mix and match!

Simmons, Desmond – “Alone On Penguin Island” – [Wmo]

Max Level   5/28/2012   A Library, CD

Punk-damaged British art rock circa 1979-81. The music is minimal and repetitive with vocalist/guitarist Simmons sort of chant-singing. He’s not doing anything groundbreaking here, but if you liked Wire’s (and Colin Newman’s) early work as I did, you will no doubt find this worth a few spins. The Wire connection is too big to overlook–Newman and his fellow conductors Robert Gotobed, Bruce Gilbert, and Graham Lewis were collaborators, though not all at the same time. Most of the tracks are 1981 studio recordings supervised by Gilbert and Lewis, and I’m not clear on who the players are–unless I’m missing something, no musicians are listed. The drumming on a few tracks sounds Gotobed-ish (yay, a new word!) so I’m guessing it’s him; it could be Simmons playing everything else or maybe Gilbert and Lewis lent a hand. Toward the end of the CD there are several previously unreleased live tracks by three different groups he was involved with, and the musicians are credited on those. The title track is an eerie instrumental.

Bebey, Francis – “African Electronic Music 1975-1982” – [Born Bad]

humana   5/27/2012   12-inch, International

The exuberant creativity of this Cameroonian musician is evident on all four sides of these two discs. Upbeat rhythms predominate as we witness what Bebey’s daughter describes as the artist’s fascination with creating sound textures from the family’s new electronic organ. Mallets, gourds, spoons on soda bottles, English, French, and Duala lyrics all contribute to the greatness found in this musical landscape that summons Sahel, deserts, tropical flowers, bananas, water, and walking a new track of freedom. Sides C and D are the more electronic sounding, while Sides A and B feel more traditional and laidback. Enjoy a master in his element.

Brooks, Roy & The Artistic Truth – “Black Survival” – [Soul Jazz Records]

humana   5/27/2012   12-inch, Jazz

This album is a recording of The Sahel Concert performed at Town Hall in New York City on Dec. 31, 1973, originally released by Im-Hotep in 1974. It contains some fine jazz by drummer Roy Brooks (with piano by Joe Bonner and bass by Reggie Workman on “Relief”), but it also features standout spoken word by Afrikan Repertory Theater members. The Black Survival album was intended by Universal Afrikan Relief as a medium to educate the public about the crisis in Sahel, and as such is “a unique expression of music and prose that is educational, entertaining and inspiring.” (Read the great sleeve notes.) Since this is a concert, all the songs track, but my best time guesses are marked on the inside cover.

Vialka – “Curiosities of Popular Customs” – [Self-release]

humana   5/27/2012   A Library, CD

Eric Boros on guitar and Marylise Frechville on drums constitute Vialka, and they both contribute their quirky voices to these songs sung in French (their home tongue) and in English. These are fun jams with elements of punk, folk, prog, Old-World, fast-paced energy punctuated by “yelps and howls” that are just what the doctor ordered to spice up a lethargic set.

Janel & Anthony – “Where Is Home” – [Cuneiform Records]

humana   5/25/2012   A Library, CD

Janel Leppin is a cellist, and Anthony Pirog is a guitarist, and together they write and create “bucolic acoustic numbers and immersive dronescapes.” Most of these songs are instrumental, although Janel can be heard humming on 11. Harpsichord, music boxes, loops, harp, and accordion can be heard as layers atop the ever-present cello and guitar. The effects are pleasing. 3 is my favorite, with 12 a close second. Most of the songs rack, and the shorter tracks serve as interludes that are really refreshing and pretty.

American Cloud Songs – “Aum” – [Dais]

humana   5/24/2012   12-inch, A Library

Robert Ryan is the creative force behind this outfit. His stunning artistry on the album cover gives you an inkling of what he’s capable of depicting with tattoos, while the mesmerizing songs he’s written tap into his connection to spirituality. A3 is a Hindu mantra (lyrics printed on insert). Much of this is drone, gentle and lovely, characterized by guitar, dulcimer, flute, strings, horns, and percussion. A4 is flowingly pretty. Daniel Carter is among the talented crew joining Ryan in his folk artistry.

Lothars, The – “Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas” – [Wobbly Music]

abacus   5/23/2012   A Library, CD

2nd full length album from these trailblazing trippers the Lothars. While their first album featured 3 theremins and guitar, here we have 4 theremins, all with specific roles (bass/ lead/ambient/other) along with some percussion and sampling and the guitarist doubles on violin for a couple tracks. While this sounds like the makings of some cheesy novelty exploitation, it actually comes at you like a mesmerizing tapestry looming over the horizon, with otherworldly and subterranean excursions alike. ??The first “Sonata” especially sets the tone, like dark clouds rising out of the East with raga-esque scents abounding. There’s humor here too, evident in the tracks Banjolin, which sounds like its called, and Bleep-Bloop, a bumbling techno attempt (not to mention the album cover spoof of an old Benny Goodman record). Things get spooky too, with the third “Sonata” echoing an operetta drifting out of the Phantom’s shadowy caverns, and especially the epic 19 min doom-tastic drone that rises out of the murky depths like a swamp monster to close the album. All taken from two days of recording, these haunting lullabies arise from somewhere between 50s sci-fi/horror films and acid-infused psychedelia. Drop one and fly away!

Golgotha Communications LTD. – “Diet’a z dobrej rodiny” – [Scotch Tapes]

Roland Blunt   5/23/2012   A Library, Cassette

Circa 2009 cassette issue by Philadelphia, PA trio…Josef K, Greco-Norwegian, and Penny Petticoat…recording as Golgotha Communications LTD. An enthralling necromantic synthesis of dark ambience, mangled voices, samples, noise, electronics, effects, tape manipulation…neoteric in their exploitation of silence, repetition, pattern, inversion, accumulation, and the gross amalgamation of sound incidents from track to track…mellifluous, disturbed, solemn, introverted, peaked…slanted more so toward classical musique concrete than modern industrial wanderings. Hypnotic disseminations from a tenebrous cabal that sagaciously crack your attention. Decant this potion into your earhole, forthwith. Side A/Side B both approximately 22 minutes. “Diet’a z dobrej rodiny” means “Child From a Good Family” in slovak…and he’s apparently concerned with the problem of sex…

Threesome – “Adriatica” – [Double Crown Records]

Cousin Mary   5/23/2012   A Library, CD

Threesome is a surf trio from Serbia – with organ added to a couple of tracks. Dark, dramatic, high energy and very well played. Track 12 might appeal to the psych lovers. Surf fans will enjoy any of the tracks, but might start with 9 or 10. Big, big sound!