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Music Reviews

Viva Africando [coll] – [Sterns Music]

humana   9/30/2013   CD, International

I dare you to stay still while listening to this excellent sampling of Africando, which is a delightful blend of African and Latin American music. Even though you may not know the fundamentals of salsa and other exotic, lovely dances, your body will remember something primal as this music enters your ears. It is simply fantastic, refreshing, and energizing, with all its rhythms, percussion, horn, piano, and jaunty singing. Definitely a pick-me-up for any set.

Wong, Dustin – “Mediation of Ecstatic Energy” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

humana   9/28/2013   A Library, CD

Tres cool guitar intensity from Wong, whose music flows seamlessly from the first track to the last. Read the liner note story to see how the tracks get their titles. The energy is consistently ecstatic, from the noisiness of 1 right through to the loveliness of 14 (which features lyrics and vocals from Takako Minekawa). There is a feeling of Philip Glass on here as well. Beats on 4, 6, 10, and 13. A nice mediation for any set.

Blonde Afro – “Troubleshoot The Moon” – [No Label]

humana   9/28/2013   A Library, CD

This is really quirky, acoustic folk rock composed, performed, and sung by Rick McAlister. The lyrics are interesting (there’s a sample of the Honey Badger YouTube on 9), the music, though very simple, is varied, with violin, drums, Jew’s harp, horns. Really bizarre, fresh, and worth listening to.

Edith Bunker’s Demonized Vomit Insurance – “Volume One” – [Feeding Tube Records]

cinder   9/27/2013   12-inch, A Library

Tags on his page include tape manipulation baby jesus buttplug and tardcore. This is oddities at play. Random guitar playing, ugly mouth sounds, annoying singing, offense song titles, quirky attitude. One guy, Brent Field, seems to hate everything and everyone. Lonely and depraved music is what I also read. This guy is probably the kid that used to piss in the popcorn butter at movie theaters. There’s some more experimental tracks here and there, as well as some super quick clips like fake phone calls and computer voices. Swans cover on side A!

Body/Head – “Coming Apart” – [Matador]

Thurston Hunger   9/26/2013   A Library, CD

Grabbed this blind, put the dog on a leash, and headed out past
midnight…but before too long recognizied Kim Gordon’s voice in
the pitch blackness, even before she “woof’d” on “Last Mistress.”
But it took me all the way until the penultimate track, “Black”
before I was enlightened. On that, Gordon and he sonic cohort
here, Bill Nace, erupt on the old folk number, “Black Is the
Color of My True Love’s Hair.” So Gordon, channeling repetition
like Patty Waters wounded but not vulnerable, in love with the
ache that the song tears in her. Kool Things will dig it. Could
it be Nace conducting a six-string seance with Sonny Sharrock?
Weirdos are drawn to this song, I don’t think Cathy Berberian
and Luciano Berio influenced Body/Head, but I’d be stoked if they
did. The supreme Nina Simone covered it, and she gets resurrected
here as well on a broken mirror in “Aint.” No doubt Kim’s voice,
gasp passion and torn gown, is the dominant flavor here. Lyrically
running down dogs, desire, and maybe a very contemplative stripper,
but it’s Nace that gives Body/Head its legs. His broken blues on
“Abstract” or the firecracker caught in his pickups on “Everything
Left.” Gordon is on the guitar too, typically scratching out a
dissonant persistence, while Nace lasers, clanks and phaser banks
and occasionally offers some recognizable guitar. On a solid listen
through, it rewards but repeats, but dropping these tracks next to
others either on the order or chaos side of the freeway will lead
listeners over the centerline on both sides.
-Thurston Hunger

Taylor, Rod – “Where Is Your Love Mankind” – [Greensleeves Records Ltd.]

Thurston Hunger   9/26/2013   12-inch, A Library

Reissue of Rod Taylor’s sophomore release out in 1980 originally.
The title track hits the apex off the bat, Taylor’s sweet vocals
rising above the Roots Radics Band. Special respect to Steelie and
Ansel Collins, providing the organ work which on the entire first
side really carries the sound. And on the title track, they sort
of juggle around the melody, carried primarily by Gladstone
Anderson’s bluesy piano. This album finds its strength in a minor
key, but steadied by the bass of Errol Holt. There’s something
about reggae bass players that just speaks to devotion. They
are always going to be there, the guitars can flicker in, scratch
and wah a bit. The drums can dip in some reverb dub (not too
much here despite Scientist doing the mixing honors), but that
bass will always be there on the one. Lyrics hang on women a lot,
one moment Taylor wants Cheryl to “Give Me Your Love Forever” but
that is followed by a “Lazy Woman.” Other thoughts move between
ghetto pride and tenement tenacity. Soothing and soulful and
like the photo on the cover, dominated by the hues of blues.

-Thurston Hunger

Painted Faces – “Alone In My Head – A Painted Faces Primer 2009 – 2013” – [Gulcher Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/26/2013   A Library, CD

David Drucker doing his own thing between Miami and Brooklyn.
Man, I had to check the dates on this collection as it just
feels more like 1990’s lo-fi ramshackle action. His voice
splits time in two places as well, a high nasally ghost
region and a lower, kind of Robert Pollard as a gameshow
host baritone. Like GBV, Drucker and friends bury their pop
catchiness in twisted sounds and trampled tape. Take the
“Cathedral of Farts” (*please* take the title and the butthole
solo squirts that pop out 4 mins in). Followed by “Orthodontist
Waiting Room Music” with its rickety cheesey piano giving way
to sped-up, slow-down vocals and other muckery. The track after
that trades a slippery Kate Bush sample for a trebly bird in the
guitarist’s hand with retro-riff descending. Sloppiness is
paramount through out and typically it adds to the songs, while
reinforcing the overall don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. To wit:
“Fuck you, I’m not above personal jabs in my own songs”
from “Song for America” and “Perfect Song” too feels like its
more failed therapy and accepting the fact that this won’t be
a vinyl release, to add in 15 minutes of rambling work that is
not without its appeal, just without much mass appeal, even
for the good folks at Drag City. Still those two sprawling
numbers have nice moments. But the earlier tracks won me over
with thrift store keyboards, percussion stolen from slow-mo
drum machines, and bedroom guitar.
-Thurston Hunger

De Dionyso, Arrington’s Malaikat Dan Singa – “Open The Crown” – [K Records]

abacus   9/25/2013   12-inch, A Library

Olympian witch doctor Arrington de Dionyso and his horde of sprites deliver us yet again from our shackles of complacency and material illusion. Tribal trance-punk that invades your psyche and drives you towards quotidian disruption, reveling in the liberatory ritual of ancient simplicity. Arrington’s fiery incantations and frantic conjuring lead the liturgy, throwing his thorny throat through lucid hallucinations and existential discovery, urgently inciting spiritual awakening. He sings primarily in English as opposed to his exploration of Indonesian tongues previously, but the influence still smells strong of cloves and burnt banana leaves. Repetitive grooves that the drums push to follow, with Nehemiah lurking in the low shadows and the guitar sounding like it was recorded in a distant era, subtly downtuned and echoing in the forefront. The nebulous keyboard clouds swirl about fueling the sensation of cosmic transcendence. Join the fire circle and dance away to the order in chaos, the form in the formless.

Ignatz – “Can I Go Home Now?” – [Fonal Records]

mickeyslim   9/25/2013   12-inch, A Library

Proof that Finnish label Fonal Records isn’t exclusive to Finnish artists: Ignatz, psuedonym of Bram Devens, releases his fourth full studio album and his first with Fonal Records.

Dreamy, spaced-out blues folk comes alive through your speakers, shrill moans and driven rhythms, acoustic guitar noodlings looped behind riffs only found on the plantations of Neptune. Some fiddlework on a couple tracks, another few upbeat jumpy numbers, but the slow winding guitar wanderings keep this album interesting. The electronic manipulations in the background send you out past the stratosphere of imagination and leave you numb to it’s invasive intentions, but the familiarity of the blues at the core of the foreground gets your imagination moving.

Self-contemplative, like waiting at the train station at dusk as you listen to a distant guitar and the sound of a steady wind beat against the walls of your psyche.

Pins of Light – “II” – [Alternative Tentacles]

honeybear   9/25/2013   A Library, CD

Aggressive, grinding, in your face punk-thrash. Chunky bass driving a million miles like Lemmy hitting the gas. Cut throat guitars wash over brain crushing drums and whiskey soaked vocals to bring you a adrenaline rush that will explode your heart. If you like Motorhead, Turbonegro, or just anything that’s all fuck you, Then look no further.

Sun Ra – “Live In Rome” – [Transparency]

honeybear   9/25/2013   CD, Jazz

Spaced out Jazz Jams by extraterrestrial composer/pianist. This was recorded on March 28th, 1980. Freak out saxophones, dueling drums, and out of this world pianos swirl into a cosmic black hole of intergalactic wonder.

Primitive Man – “Scorn” – [Relapse Records]

abacus   9/25/2013   12-inch, A Library

Disintegrate in this blast furnace of fury from Denver, CO project of dystopian doom blackened with dried blood. Anger expressed in its most raw, filthy and primal form, no frills or technical swagger to detract from the outlash of hate and, well, scorn. Sparse musicianship overblown to a crumbling peak with atonal harmonies and viscous drum sludge that all reek of decay bathing in claustrophobic clouds of noise and feedback. Occasionally they will boil over in fits of thrash outbreaks only to tumble back into the seismic fissures of contemplative anguish. Tortured industrial ambiance intersect (tracks 3, 5) to let you catch your breath before your thoughts catch up. Antietam lets the hoarse, raspy cackles take front stage before exploding and along Scorn, go through several conniptions before they devolve and self-destruct. Pure snarling catharsis, unleash and stomp away.

Surfer’s Mood (Vol. III) [coll] – [Romulan]

Cousin Mary   9/25/2013   12-inch, A Library

A sterling collection from instrumental surf singles issued in the early 1960’s. For many bands this is their first appearance in the KFJC library. There are lots of first wave sounds including sax, horns and a nod to exotica on some tracks. The range of recording quality varies from rather good to lo-fi, good fun and some beautiful sounds.

Tuff Lion – “Ten Strings” – [I Grade Records]

Naysayer   9/25/2013   CD, Reggae

Tuff Lion is a reggae guitarist of supreme order who has played on numerous albums with numerous groups. His album “Ten Strings” is a full instrumental album with guitar as the lead, taking the place of vocals. A solid reggae rhythm section starts off and carries through all the tracks while Tuff Lion plays both electric and acoustic guitar. At first I thought it sounded like jazz guitar similar to George Benson. There is a strong jazz guitar influence in the playing, that is for sure. Very smooth and laid back. And that describes the whole album. Very smooth and laid back. Really clean. Easy listening. It’s sort of odd for my untrained ear to hear this music with the complicated guitar lines flowing through the sound. Youtube has an interesting post of Tuff Lion explaining how to play reggae guitar with its stops and starts, downstroke power, rhythm guidance. That I was familiar with. Yet this album is so different. It feels like music you would hear at a spa, lying back waiting your turn for the masseuse. The beginning tracks are the strongest and will make for a nice change of pace in a set or for a bed. Great for a music bed. Stay away from the last five tracks, otherwise enjoy.

Brown, James – “Next Step, The” – [FOME Records]

Naysayer   9/25/2013   CD, Soul

There is a scene in Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s notorious film “Salo” where the fascist guards force the naked teen innocents to eat from a boiling pot of human feces. Listening to “The Next Step” is the auditory equivalent of watching that scene. And like trying to watch the movie, I had the experience, when listening to this, of cringing in shock but still wanting to hear it all the way through to it’s phenomenally excessive conclusion. Could it really get more superbly excruciating? Yes and I love it for that. I like James Brown, or maybe I like the idea of James Brown 40 or more years ago. The problem with “The Next Step” is that he is still trying to use the old signature style and mix it with contemporary 2002 sounds. Even though the album sounds more like 1985.
For ten songs, Brown is up to his old tricks, groaning and hollering and screaming his way through. But like the reminiscing uncle who everyone stays away from at the family party, Brown just can’t stop going back…. and forcing us to listen.
But hold on….don’t think I can’t stand this album. No way. On the contrary, I LOVE IT!! Sincerely! And I will be playing the hell out of it. From the Bell Biv DeVoe sounding opening track of “Automatic” to the testimony to youth of “Killing is Out, School is In” (pull that gun out of your pants), Brown goes whole hog. And if things ever get a little slow throughout he’ll be sure to throw in a “Get Funky”. There are so many stand out moments. Every track has something to offer. On “Why Did This Happen To Me” he laments as to why his woman left him, because well, he’s the best thing she is every going to have and go ahead and leave because he doesn’t need her anyway and she is going to be sorry but why couldn’t she see this. On “Good and Natural” he talks about many different kinds of food, possibly with innuendo, but also because he really likes the food. Listening to “Baby, You’ve Got What It Takes”, I seriously did a double take when the uncredited female vocalist says out loud and clear “Don’t hit me.” What? No, you didn’t. He’d already been arrested several times for abuse and battery and a few more would follow, but really? That is bold.
The uncredited “musicians” and drum machine programmer go uncredited as does the female vocalist who sings on several tracks and solo on track 7. No Jimmy. This was supposedly his last album. What a way to go.

El-P – “Sunrise Over Brooklyn” – [Definitive Jux]

mickeyslim   9/24/2013   10-inch, A Library

Looks like some avant-garde jazz dudes get a place in KFJC’s Hip-Hop library! Matthew Shipp, William Parker,, and the rest of the Blue Series Continuum team up with producer El-P on this one-sided 10″ single. Released in 2003 around the same time these jazzists worked on another hip-hop album with Antipop Consortium.

Ten minutes of driven beats a la Guillermo Brown with waves of dark synth sneaking in to stir up the madness and compliment the melodic brass section (Roy Campbell, trumpet; Daniel Carter, reeds; Steve Swell, trombone.) Skronky at times, but mostly driving the beat and synth warbles along through twisted feelings. Mellows out toward the end for a loud finale. Groove on.

Ezramo / Robair, Gino / Fenech, David / Buchler, Wendelin / – “PopeWAFFEN” – [Corvo Records]

abacus   9/23/2013   12-inch, Jazz

Avant trash free association noodling between these multi-national weirdos. Ezramo (Alessandra Eramo) is a Italian sound artist, Robair the prolific Bay Area freakophile, Fenech a French composer/guitarist, Buchler a German guitarist who runs Corvo Records, and Argo Ulva (Liz Allbee) another Bay Area transplant played in groups like Le Flange Du Mal and Neung Phak. Live recording at the ausland venue in Berlin captures the raw playful energy of this collaboration of oddlings and bizarrities. Tingling zither demons dancing aboard a zeppelin raid, spaghetti standoff at a nautical traffic stop between sewer slob and nervous neddy, bloated sumorai showdown on a squishy winter night, goomprov drone and sharpie shredding amidst goofsayer chants. On side B we have a shaman jazz freekout, goblin baby lullaby and mutant chicken plays funerary violin singing along with village preschool meditations. A truly perplexing experience, delicious.

Romus’, Rent Life’s Blood – “Truth Teller” – [Edgetone Records]

abacus   9/23/2013   CD, Jazz

Fresh innovative jazz from local hepcat legend Romus and his team of Edgewalkers. Free not as in unrestrained, but untethered indeed. Restraint is the name of the game here with Rent’s soulful sax soothsaying playing with melody but never getting tied down, jumping playfully about at the slightest suggestion of repetition. There’s definitely a couple scorchers here, though, on the title track and Luggage Store Breakdown, but Rent never resorts to pure shrieking rage. The expression is emotional but eloquent, smooth yet cerebral. Orr’s versatility on drums is deftly demonstrated by the blazing solo opening the title track and then complemented by the subtle assortment of bells and chimes on Snow Ghost. The bassists trade between tracks but the conversation between the two of them on Infinitism is not to be missed. Even Thollem jumps in on Rhodes for some swelling spirit jazz on Universal Message. Add all that to the heavy swing on 7 and the closing folk song and you get all sorts of flavors provided.

Opposite Sex – “Opposite Sex” – [Fishrider Records]

humana   9/23/2013   12-inch, A Library

From New Zealand we are gifted with lilting, creepy sweet, childlike bubblegum vocals from Lucy Hunter (who also plays a mean bass that undergirds all of the music), drums, vocals, and keys from Tim Player, and guitar from Fergus Taylor. There are some awesome time change-ups (especially on B1), and throughout the album there is a rollicking undercurrent that is more brooding than the high-pitched vocals that accompany it. There is a frenetic, good energy to all of the songs, and this is a great release.