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Music Reviews

New Weather – “New Weather” – [Butterscotch Records]

incognito   10/30/2013   A Library, CD

New Weather are a trio making surrealist, visual electronica. Composed of two musicians and a visual artist, New Weather makes dreamy, psychedlic, synth and beat driven electronica. They have the warm, analog synth sound of 90’s Air and a simplistic, minimal aesthetic. Groovy, psychedelic, warm synths with straightforward beats.

Ultra Bide – “DNA Vs DNA – C” – [Alternative Tentacles]

mickeyslim   10/30/2013   A Library, CD

Back from an over 10-year hiatus, these NYC Japanese vets lay down their style of Lower East Side hardcore punk for Alternative Tentacles. Dual bassists and drummer action, led by bassist/vocalists Hide, this album is pretty psychey at the same time. Raw and energized obliteration.
“Like a monster that pounds you ever so thick and creamy, into a custard donut cooked by Satan.”

Perturbed raging lyrics, note the few FCCs. Check out all their gear pictured on the back!

VNDL – “Gahrena: Paysages Electriques” – [Hymen]

incognito   10/30/2013   A Library, CD

From Hymen records, this is Philipe Vandal, aka VNDL from Montreal, Canada. This 2012 release uses processed electric guitars, field recordings and electronic devices to produce a work that is IDM in the classic sense. It has elements of ambient, experimental, noise and glitch. A lot of the tracks here are more toward the experimental ambient side, but there are a few beat driven tracks with complex drum patterns and deep bass. This is interesting, deep introspective music.

Artificial Memory Trace – “Vol 9. Distori (noah)” – [Sonoris]

incognito   10/30/2013   A Library, CD


Created, collected and recorded between 1995 and 1997, this is Slavek Kwis 1998 recording as Artficial Memory Trace. This is minimal, ambient experimental and sound collage work. It moves from minimal tone to digital noise, samples and power electronics. Mostly subdued, there are a few tracks that get into power electronics, like Monokrom II, and others that delve into experimental and glitch.

Mad Dukez + Fresh Kils – “Gettin’ Gatsby” – [Deep Thinka Records]

Dianthus   10/30/2013   CD, Hip Hop

Crossing over borders by way of musical hip-hop forces are the duo Fresh Kils and Mad Dukez. On Gettin’ Gatsby , Buffalo based rapper Mad Dukez explores some of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel by way of free-flowing lyrics about sacrifice, success , money and excess. His vocal style and charismatic flow shines on tracks like “Decadent Dilemma” and “Brother Bookie”. The album could not be complete without Toronto’s Fresh Kils operating the decks and setting the scene with fresh beats & well placed production to compliment Mad Dukez freestylin’ gab. Try and stand still while the funky drums set the stage for “Bootleg Bartender” but be ready to listen to this cd more than once to really start to like it.

Rh – “New Bedford Squall” – [Inam Records]

abacus   10/30/2013   A Library, CD

From the mysterious Inam Records, ominous other-earthly drones drifting through a murky ether. Seems to be guitar is the primary tool here again, but we don’t have as much of the drum machine or doom-bass that we get on projects like Sujo and Olekranon. Still plenty of food for the bottom feeders, though, rumbling clouds of low-end looming above blissless landscapes full of seismic fissures of fuzz and crackle of cracked tones. Ewmbayed introduces the rattle and clang of factory machinery setting a vague rhythmic background while later tracks lift the heavy burden somewhat. The sinister dread is still present, just somewhat more distant, like a ghost ship floating through icy fog. Lazaret does use some subtle drum machine and feels like a darkwave track slowed way down to give it a more ancient and gothic feel. Another project by supposedly the same person behind the label runs along the same vein but provides a different face. A perfect soundtrack for the dark and cold months to come.

Quttinirpaaq – “Let’s Hang Out” – [Rural Isolation Project]

honeybear   10/29/2013   12-inch, A Library

BRILLIANT! Thick as syrup bass licks running a muck. Fuzzed out space noises being cut with messy scratching and screeching effects. All being rounded off by the bash your brains in pounding of the drums. This is ugly, painful, and single handily the most whacked out bass sludge ever. Low vocals fade in and out. Some crazy “Industrial” esque filth end both sides. So much grit and so much grim!

Ariel Pink – “Thrash and Burn” – [Human Ear Music]

abacus   10/29/2013   A Library, CD

In recent years Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti has exploded on the indie scene, with records on big labels Paw Tracks and 4AD and even playing live on Jimmy Fallon. This is not that Ariel Pink; no Rolling Stone chart toppers here, Pitchfork barely mentions this album. This is Ariel Rosenberg of 1998. Bedroom tape-deck experimentation of lo-fi ghost pop with him screwing around on guitars, keyboards, drum machine and a whole mess of effects pedals and such. Beautifully broken glimpses into his disparate influences, spontaneous ideas and blurry attempts to bring them all to fruition. Meek hints at the musical evolution his career was to have contained in these distant, incomplete melodies and even further off vocals thoughtlessly floating along and all haphazardly thrown together. Some tracks lean on the pop side, like the angsty anthems of White Rain or the gothy coldwave on I Won’t See You Again. Others on the more abstract end, like the cosmological contemplation on Starry Eyes rising out of 6 feet of moaning reverb from Cemetary Suite and tape warped deulsions and fantasies that won’t leave you alone on the 12 Minute Overture. Also plenty of left turns to throw you off like the video game show theme of Double Jeopardy and countryslide blues of Andalusian. The many faces of Ariel Rosenberg laid naked and bare. A diary of sorts that carries the disheveled character the album title suggests; these tracks don’t last long before falling apart.

Gary Wrong Group – “Knights of Misery” – [Jeth-Row/Total Punk]

abacus   10/29/2013   12-inch, A Library

Creeping out the mud of Mobile River, Alabama… squirrely burly synth-punk nastiness to leave a bitter taste in the back of your throat. Not particularly hard hitting, just not particularly giving a fuck; basic grit riffage and grimy grimacing vocals from frontman Gary Wrong aka Captain Beyonce with extraterrestrial electronics on whirligig synth from Steve Kenney of Pterodactyls, and none other than Mr Quintron himself supplying organ and trading drums with Mortal Combat metalhead Benny Divine who also plays casio. Everyone’s tapping some sort of keys, especially on Saint Theo, packing on piles of organ soullessness and loopy droopy keyboard tones. The tracks mostly just plod along in nihilistic contentment. A lot of moonshine and ditch weed fueling this jalopy. As they say, “Whatever it is, I’m against it.” No goats were molested in the making of this record…

El Saffar, Amir – “Alchemy” – [Pi Recordings]

Naysayer   10/28/2013   CD, Jazz

Amir ElSaffar is a jazz trumpeter working with his quintet on this Pi Recordings album, “Alchemy”. Though ElSaffar is heavily influenced in Middle Eastern musical traditions – ElSaffar plays the santur, is a performer of the classical Iraqi maqam tradition, performs with his maqam Iraqi group, books weekly concerts at Alwan For the Arts, a Middle Eastern arts and culture center in New York City – his musical focus on this album is in the standard jazz vein. He uses microtonality and the maqam style and blends it with standard western notations to come up with his own harmonic structure. Explanations of the differences and blending of the styles were much too complicated for my limited music playing knowledge, so I relied on my ear and my gut. What I hear when listening is rich, beautiful and solid jazz musicianship. The interaction between ElSaffar’s trumpet with the other musicians (tenor saxophone, piano, bass and drums) is a lush interplay of sounds and color. Not one instrument dominates. They work together holding the tight rhythms in place. This is so smooth and clear and gorgeous. There are 10 tracks of which the first three are his Ishtarum Suite, and 4 to 10 are selections from the Alchemy Suite. The last three selections begin to hint at Middle Eastern influences making me wish I could hear the Suite in its entirety. This is a superb work that will please many.

Robot By The River – “Birdsong Sayonara” – [Self-released]

humana   10/28/2013   A Library, CD

Cory Gehrich wrote and performed the songs here, and his mellow voice is reminiscent of Devendra Banhart. Most of these are rather ballad-like, with banjo and righteous guitar crashing in on 1 (which makes it the standout, in my opinion). 4 has a psych feeling, while 2 has a twangy country tinge. The name of this outfit is taken from lyrics to Bill Callahan’s song “Ex-Con.”

Lady Lazarus – “All My Love In Half Light” – [Self-released]

humana   10/28/2013   A Library, CD

These are rather somber songs set to piano (with accordion sound on 1) that is pretty in and of itself (if repetitive and intense), but the vocals of Melissa Ann Sweat can alternate from droning to folky to lovely (as in 6, which goes with the image of the merchant ship she sings about). Perhaps this is to be expected from someone taking her name from a Sylvia Plath poem. This is the second full-length from the San Jose-sprung musician who taught herself when she acquired a keyboard. The vibe is haunting and echoey more than dream pop, for sure. Very pretty piano in 8 and 9.

Bluiett, Hamiet Sextet – “Young Warrior, Old Warrior” – [Mapleshade]

humana   10/28/2013   CD, Jazz

Musicians gathering for a session with their own music written to bring out the best in each member of the sextet…truly a team who converse with each other musically and otherwise, as is evident in the amazingly mellifluous flow of the conversation. The liner notes tell the delightful tale of how the particular musicians in this sextet got together for this session recording. The jazz is lovely and accessible. Enjoy!

Gjerstad-Skaset-Tafjord-Molstad-Moe – “Deichman” – [Conrad Sound]

humana   10/28/2013   CD, Jazz

Out of Norway come these spare sounds, quiet squeaks and squawks of clarinet, rumblings of tuba, pluckings of double bass and guitar, and gentle ululations of French horn. Very silent spaces in 1 and 3, anticlimactic endings, purrings, sounds like fluttering of paper. Sound structures that in their emptiness are deceptive because there is really always something going on. Improvisational jazz at its most unassuming. Very KFJC.

Bird of Omen – “What Was Once There Is Now Gone” – [Hand Hewn Timbre]

Naysayer   10/27/2013   A Library, CD

This is Bird of Omen’s second release on label Hand Hewn Timbre (HHT). Bird of Omen is a project from the man who is Monument of Urns, a dark metal band that has achieved a sort of cult status, if not for it’s/his recordings than for the packaging from his own HHT label. “What Was Once There Is Now Gone” continues on his sparse but very rich funeral doom path established by the first recording, “Eulogy”. Now I keep on saying “he” instead of a name because reviews do not list who “he” is. They just state that “he” is elusive and mysterious. Well that fits considering the style of the music: space, field recordings, indecipherable voices murmuring, single notes on the piano held for long time periods, haranguing guitar, pounding drums. All tracks are most often played at a dirge like pace but there is variation to make it interesting and all the more gloomily beautiful. Three lush tracks on a mini cd, a format “he” seems to enjoy. Plus the gorgeous packaging. Highly collectible. Lovely to listen to.

SKOZEY FETISCH / HORSEFLESH [coll] – [Ratskin Records]

cinder   10/27/2013   A Library, Cassette

Super short cassette! Over before you blink, with both tracks at 2:30 each. Skozey Fetish’s track is the beginning of your neural mind operation. Setting you down, tape manipulations with zipping and zapping, subliminal words…. your eyes are getting heavy as the doctors fine tune their instruments. Horseflesh is the full on mind wipe. Plugged straight in, electronics are flowing statically right into your brain. Rolling, grumbling, riding wire taps and electrode maps.

Murcof & Petit, Philippe – “First Chapter” – [Aagoo]

cinder   10/27/2013   A Library, CD

Dreamy, ethereal cosmic ambient bliss. Has a very old world gothic feel to it, especially when Sarah Jouffroy comes in with her ghostly singing on the first track. This summons the spirits of times past. No joke – when I was listening to this, the light in the room died a slow fading death, leaving me in darkness. Chillingly fitting to the beautiful electronics, and piano that drifted from the speakers. Slowly floating, in an empty gray cloud with soft and loud percussion that sting and intertwine throughout. Bells and strings, whether their programmed or real, ring and echo. The second track has an ethnic flair to it, while the third track combines elements from the first two, along with a skipping record effect… the most experimental of the 3 tracks.

Bulbs / Wobbly [coll] – [Ache Records]

abacus   10/23/2013   7-inch, A Library

Two groups out of the San Francisco freak fancy fanclub bring us some giddy goofy tunes of weirdo pleasantries. Bulbs is a duo of folks formerly of Axolotl and other projects doing a track of live processed guitar/drums (though you wouldn’t be able to tell). A delicate folky whistle-along gently shredded into shrapnel and sprinkled into a fishtank to sink and waver into some glitched radio static frequency invasion. Wobbly is a freaky philanderer that’s worked with just about everyone in the Bay Area experimental scene. Bulbs on guitar/drums for this track with Kevin Blechdom doing vocals; a surreal storytime pop song of bouncy cartoonish character, with some Eastern flavor thrown in for spice. Too slippery to be pinned to any box as it features a dense layering of overlapped wacko sampling. Both tracks are strange enough to make listeners wince but accessible enough to keep em dialed in. Lap it up and lose it.

Onyeabor, William – “Who Is William Onyeabor?” – [Luaka Bop]

mickeyslim   10/23/2013   CD, International

Funky international synth sounds from Nigeria. William Onyeabor allegedly studied cinematography in the Soviet Union, but returned to Nigeria to start his own record label. The Luaka Bop label claims he released 8 records from in the ’70s and ’80 before becoming a born-again Christian and refusing to speak about his music ever agian. There are claims he lives as a businessman in Enugu, Nigeria.

Synthed out funk waves, fun chant-y lyrics, playful, hoppy. “Atomic Bomb” was apparently the “hit” back in the day. There’s a fun horn section, handdrum and drum set action, and a sharp killer guitar.

CD1 has fat tracks, whereas CD2 has the edits (shorter tracks). Throw it in to kick some funky Nigerian jams!