Music Reviews

Opponents – “Telepathic Times” – [Prison Tatt Records]

cinder   8/30/2013   12-inch, A Library

Darkness within the beat, from the Brooklyn area. Mentions of post-apocalyptic times and concrete walls were made to help you envision what they were going for with this. There’s a red light style dark wave synth, with monotone male vocals. Ghostly wordless singing on one track. A very dreary, danceable futuristic style sound. Industrial “light” with rumbling, lurking rhythms.

TALsounds / Greyghost [coll] – [Hausu Mountain]

cinder   8/30/2013   A Library, Cassette

Two 20ish minute tracks from two solo artists. TALsounds is Natalie Chami. She brings super dreamy, whimsical, airy looping and twisting ambience. Synths and voice roll over each other like grape vines. Dewey, misty and pretty. Greyghost is Brian Griffith. Radio frequencies shifting and fading. A plucked guitar loops and lapses in time. Thoughtful memories and mind racing meditations. Very soothing and relaxing cassette. Great for laying in a meadow on a warm summer afternoon.

Eleven Pond – “Assemblage” – [Dark Entries]

Thurston Hunger   8/30/2013   12-inch, A Library

Rochester NY, 1987…five piece ice-wave pop. This is their
sophomore effort which was cryogenically kept from the public
until Dark Entries pried the lid off it. I can see how these
gents could listen then to music at that time, and wonder why
they weren’t we getting strangelove from MTV? Peppy bass lines
prominent on tracks, like a New Order dance mix. Enough guitar
for those who were still saluting rawk (here we have even some
six string solos which most android analogs would forsake) but
the synth is definitely what drives the songs here. That appears
to be a main change from their debut “Bas Relief.” Synth here is
skillfully employed. Minimal Wave flags will fly on “Blood Ruins
Film” (as they did for “Watching Trees” which was on a comp
earlier and turns up here in demo form). On “Gold and Green”
the band and vocalist James Tabbi grab at the brass anthem ring
but the slick moves subside for a great broken down ending.
I preferred the “Kiss by the Hotel DeVille” track (a sonic take
on Robert Doisneau’s famous photo) and the harmonized vocals
over the swing beat of “The Stain.” The band evidently had a
programmed machine *plus* electronic drums at the time they
broke up, and I think Tim Masick is on “The Stain” hammering
a byte more insistence into that cut. Cool stuff, lyrics a
bonus and printed too. By the way, this is another example for
the eventual KFJC Mayhem Special showcasing US bands singing
with UK accents.

-Thurston Hunger

Thirteenth Assembly, The – “Station Direct” – [Important Records]

Thurston Hunger   8/30/2013   CD, Jazz

2011 release from this quartet. Mary Halvorson has been
plucking various KFJC ears as of late; a guitarist of notes,
clean but brambly notes. Her angular playing is a pretty
strong focus, through-out. Her work here and in the past
with violist Jessica Pavone is a nice contrast, as she
tends to have less ragged, more serene sweeps on her
strings. Check out the muted twists of Ho Bynum on
“Randall Clasper” more anguished there, but on “Station” he
really revs ’em up. At other times he’s usually doubled
up with one of the ladies. For me the best moments come
when drummer Tomas Fujiwara is allowed to wear his Bernard
Purdie shirt (on “Coming Up” and “Prosthetic Chorizo”) the
pressure cooker kicks in and this album makes a move for
the dance floor instead of the chess club. Don’t get me
wrong, all moves are appreciated…but this is a brainy
day dream for the most part. “Long Road” is indeed a windy
track, and ironically its best parts come with Fujiwara
in check, although he does close strong. But that has
nice solo and duo work between the others in a sort of
quiet exploration that could work for your more spacy
moments and spacier DJ’s.
-Thurston Hunger

Ramesh – “Ramesh” – [Pharaway Sounds]

Thurston Hunger   8/30/2013   CD, International

Right from the opening Quinn/Martin style music, your ears
feel the 70’s clinging to them like a pair of bell-bottomed
jeans. But wait for the voice and voila you are in Iran,
and the music moves eastward as the tracks move on. Dig
the dual harmonies on “Mondanam Az Bodanet” where Ramesh
(aka Azar Mohebbi) easily holds her own with Fereyddon
Farrokhzad, you don’t have to watch “A Separation” to
respect the strengths of an Iranian woman! Funk and
early synthesizer soundsploits pull at the listener’s
attention, and the production on this looked to the
West for more help than the Shah. The liners make mention
of Googoosh who is in the KFJC library (and I recall
from SoCal TV ads aimed at Persian expats), evidently
Ramesh was the more serious counterpart to Googoosh,
the latter still touring today while Ramesh is lost
to silence and speculation. Hopefully her fate did
not match that of her duet partner’s Farrokhzad. I
prefer to think of her alive and yet almost amazed
at this brief time of pop stardom as if it were a
cherished story as opposed to an actual memory, viewed
from a gate she can never cross again. Back to the
songs, boy I sure like when the production parts
and she just gets to sing her ravaan out. Like “Sharm-e
Boos-e” and “Afsoos” although music-wise the harmonica
and soul sweat-box number that closes the album is a killer.

-Thurston Hunger

Al-Shayeb, Shayma – “Singing Songs of Umm Kulthum” – [Unknown]

Thurston Hunger   8/30/2013   CD, International

A score by Surfer Rosa traveling to Jerusalem, where a
shopkeeper offered her this collection featuring a young
Tunisian girl covering some of Umm Kulthum’s signature songs.
Like the mighty Umm, Shayma was the daughter of musically
inclined parents, but Shayma unlike Umm has not gone on
to be heralded as the supreme queen of Arabic music. In
fact it seems as if her second release garnered so little
response, that Shayma may have walked away from her musical
pursuits. I hope not, her singing on here (possibly
recorded in 2001 when she was 15) is stirring. The lead off
track is a take on the incredible “Enta Omri” or “You Are
My Life.” While Shayma may not explore it for over an hour
as Umm would to riveted audiences, she does capture the
surges, breakdowns and rebuilding moments. I don’t even
no what “Ili shuftu” means, but as Shaima stops and repeats
it, it feels like an indictment. Check out the isolation
of just her voice at 16 min. Throughout this CD, the musicians
cover much territory, the stark oud to begin, contrasts with
moments like the beginning of #3 that feels like Rhythm
Heritage and USA 80’s radio. But then there are moments
of feathery ck??n??on (dulcimer) or some ragged strings cut
through the glossier charted sounds. And the compositions
have a lot of great moments that halt and turn in a
different direction, or uncover a lost earlier melody.
Check #4 for a short example of that. Also I dig how the
longer pop songs take their time to introduce the music
before the singer finally shines forth. Shayma’s voice
I suspect was often singing an octave higher than where
Umm once ranged in her latter years, the spryness of
her voice through belies the torture and passion of these
songs, and somehow she captures that. The heart is first
built on innocence, but breaks over and over on these
sublime songs.

-Thurston Hunger

Pitsiokos / Walter / Anderson – “Maximalism” – [Eleatic Records]

abacus   8/28/2013   CD, Jazz

Some more spazz jazz from the dirty Weasel and fellow Brooklyn grimesters. Three studio tracks and a live recording from earlier this year at the local Freedom Garden. Free and unrestrained to an uncontrollable level but not the fuck-off firestorm of pounding and shrieking you might expect from the Weasel of yore. This is more on the frantic jittery end with young sax demon Pitsiokos (Bob Crusoe) doubling on synth to provide a splattering of sputtering and established guitar gutter Ron Anderson (PAK, Ronruins) gluing the group together. If you’re looking for more of a punch in the face, then track 5 might be to your liking, or if you want more subdued nervousness, dip into track 2. The longer tracks (1,3,7) go through all levels of dynamics and space, with Pitsiokos hopping on synth for full-fledged cyborg meltdown. Anderson really shines in the live performance (3 especially), digging in and tearing apart those strings in frayed fingering and shredding. If manic is your mood and hysteria is your hype, this drugs for you.

Thompson, Linval – “Negrea Love Dub” – [Trojan Records]

surferrosa   8/28/2013   12-inch, Reggae

Echoey, reverby, stuttery dub..produced and written by our good friend Linval Thompson. Pressed in England, 1978. My favorite part about this is the use of what sounds like a church organ, it particularity shines on A1 and A4…..Percussion keeps the rhythm flowing, courtesy of Hoss Mouth and Sly Dunbar, hand drums, drum set and a snare that is being smacked in the back of a deep, resonant cave. Also in the mix are the occasional electronic pop-corn sounds, skankin guitar licks, tight like glue bass lines, ska-ish horn bits and doubled back vocal samplage… This is some kick back lazy island sway, making love and lighting up sort of dub. Real spliffy. -Surfer Rosa

Turner, Ed & The Danilof Center – “Shefel” – [Uganda]

surferrosa   8/28/2013   A Library, CD

Jerusalem locals playing post-punk, almost shoegaze noisy rock…courtesy of the great Uganda Records- a label out of Israel putting out alternative Israeli music from local artists. These guys are pretty straight forward with their sound, nothing profoundly fancy going on here, and it basques in its simplicity.. saturated with energetic overdrive and riffage a-plenty. Vocals are hollered in Hebrew.. singing songs about how only the sewer flows. Track 9 kicks off with naked spoken word.. clear as a bell, perhaps some Israeli person on the receiving end will be super pleased to hear their ancient language blasting through our airwaves. This is to be listened to in a room that’s too small, too crowed, hot boxed with cigarette smoke and human sweat. Loud and infectious. -Surfer Rosa

Bikoff, Don – “Composia For 6-String Guitar” – [Tompkins Square]

humana   8/28/2013   A Library, CD

Josh Rosenthal produced and re-released this 1968 debut studio release from Bikoff after hearing the musician interviewed on WFMU. The liner notes give sparkling snippets of insight into each track, perfect accompaniment for the lovely flow of his guitar as it interprets both his music and his philosophy, which are one and the same. Listen to the 6 strings as they spin images of the River Styx, old, peeling park benches, an Earth of Love, and comparisons of stars to humans. All this just through the instrumentation. The last track has a simple addition of bells that somehow transform the song into the cosmic statement it is.

Sole – No Wising Up, No Settling Down [Self Release]

fox   8/28/2013   CD, Hip Hop

If you were to roll by in a pimped-up ride with this album blaring, I would respect you for that. To quote track 5, these are “dense, abstract critiques about modern civilization”. Instrumentals are complex, varied and engaging in themselves. Powerful orchestral backing in track 6. Did you know Emma Goldman was a punk-ass anarchist from 100 years ago? Strong language warning on most tracks.

Emit – “a Sword of Death For The Prince” – [Total Holocaust Records]

abacus   8/27/2013   12-inch, A Library

Challenge your mental stability with Emit’s 2005 debut of debilitating black metal noise torture out of Somerset, England. The album opens with terrifying explosions of fury and anguish before subsiding into tweaked guitar drone of feedback flagellation. Still tormented by snarling spiteful voices in the back of your head, the pain and illusion become almost too much to bear. The guitar abominations flay the skin off your back and drag down your wrist, setting a perfect backdrop for the misanthropic exhortations and sinister sermons of sorrow and suffering. Agonizing incantations that range from deranged snickering to maniacal shrieking all submerged in the sonic obliteration. Sometimes a melody peaks through, but always torn down and pissed on, nothing beautiful survives. There are moments of haunting dark ambiance, with chilling organ drones and windy sweeps, even a soothing lullaby to lurk in your nightmares amidst the bonus tracks on side D. You will find no hope hear though. There is only misery. Try not to kill yourself, but do what you must.

Noxagt – “Kill Yr. Ego, Oslo 13.08.03” – [Drid Machine]

abacus   8/27/2013   A Library, Cassette

Live performance from the noxious Nords, the lords of LOUD, ear-rupturing Noxagt. They’re joined by local legend Billy Anderson, record producer, recording engineer and musician who has worked with hundreds of bands like Eyehategod, Fantomas, Mr Bungle and many many many others. Definitely no turning down here, this shit is brutally overdriven and face-smashing as their concerts should be. The first track is just some banter from Billy while they wait for Lauritzen to get to his drums (some good Metallica references though). The rest is incessantly pounding noise rock with Billy screaming some deep throaty vocals that just sing ego death. They never let up, except for a briefly beautiful folksy viola solo from Erga to start off Blast From The Past, fitting indeed (and some Hey Mickeys thrown in for good measure). Instrumentals on 4 and 6 make you maybe miss Billy’s sweet voice, but they’re just too fucking good. Bring that volume up and let it all just crumble down. Everything breaks.

Streets, The – “Original Pirate Material” – [Vice Records]

incognito   8/27/2013   A Library, CD

Mike Skinner’s 2002 debut album “Original Pirate Material” was really a unique recording when it was released, and achieved a great deal of success. Skinner came from the UK garage and jungle scene of the 90s, and the album is a reflection of, and unique take on garage and 2step mixed with his own style of mc-ing. Although heavily influenced by Wu Tang Clan and Nas, Skinner’s take on rhyming was more focused on everyday life. Fighting, drinking, drugs, potential and lost love, nostalgia of the innocence of early rave experiences in London… I wish I had paid more attention to this when it came out, but I was too involved in jungle to recognize anything under 170 BPM. “Original Pirate Material” is a fantastic album, deeply emotional and charged with the impetuousness of youth. Just wonderful.

Olekranon – “{danaus}” – [Inam Records]

incognito   8/27/2013   A Library, CD

Electronic/noise/drone project of Sujo, along with several others under the Olekranon moniker. This is a very diverse and interesting collection of music, moving from minimal beat oriented electronica to power noise to drone and ambient, at times touching on shoegaze. With the exception of the particularly noisy/power tracks like “Below” and “Crooked Wheel” this is a very accessible album (as far as drone and noise is concerned) with some outstanding beats that reminded me of early 90s industrial. At times Olerkanon is distorted and heavy with thick, layered textures with feedback and static, yet almost hypnotic, trance inducing and psychedelic, sending the listener on a journey through a dark night on a deserted highway. Really great album all the way through.

Vomit Arsonist – “an Occasion For Death” – [Malignant Records]

incognito   8/27/2013   A Library, CD

New release from Rhode Island’s Andrew Grant, AKA the Vomit Arsonist out on Malignant Records. Grant is quite prolific in the death industrial and power electronics scenes, with this being the 13th full length release since 2004. Dark and droned out doom, distorted vocals, filtered loops and heavy synths on an album with themes of independence from metaphysics and the overwhelming saturation of existence. “At the edge of life, everything is an occasion for death.” Heavy, intense droning noise with black metal influences and subdued power electronics, tormented words punching through the layers of pulsing, grinding synths to deliver messages of emptiness and hopelessness. Good fun for the entire family.

Tubman, Ron / Sugarm [coll] – [Hausu Mountain]

surferrosa   8/23/2013   A Library, Cassette

Vol. 3 of the Mugen Series – a cassette collection featuring live, single take performances of spacious and psyched pieces by eight artists in total. This volume presents three pieces by two artists taking a jaunt through acoustic-electric fields. Ron Tubman draws a floating, phased out dream-land hovering over an island of TV static. Finger picked guitar wanderings meditate over an ocean of synthy squaggles and gritty ripples. Sugarm builds a soundscape of shifting tones and wobbling oscillations. Minimal and feeding back, riddled with tip toe alterations.. delicate noise tilting in and out of pricklier phases. -Surfer Rosa


Air – “Air Song” – [Candid]

Cousin Mary   8/23/2013   CD, Jazz

“Free jazz” trio Air recorded these tracks in Chicago in 1975. Free jazz in this context is challenging but not grating. Tracks are all over 10 minutes long, but never long enough. Each musician has lengthy solos that are pure pleasure and mind blowing – I kept changing my mind about which one was the lead or for that matter, my favorite.

Notice that Threadgill plays a different instrument on each track. One example is track 4, a must listen for flute fans.