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Music Reviews

WLISPS – “Plurals” – [Impko Records]

Naysayer   3/31/2014   A Library, CD

WLISPS is, as far as I can find, a one person project of sounds and video imagery, that person being Malaki Stahl. Out on the ever elusive IMPKO records from Seattle, WLISPS’ release, “Plurals” is a nine track exploration of many things experimental electronic. Soundscapes for sure and each track is surprisingly different yet comfortingly familiar. Do not be mistaken and think this is easy listening. No it is not, yet it is not noise either. Thoughtful, thought out deconstructions of sound, synthesized and digitally manipulated playing on chance outcome. Some tracks have beats with sounds floating around, up front and behind. Others are filled with drone and rhythm together. Stretched out coils, crunchy buzziness, distorted radio signals or not, machinery or was that nature. You think you know what it is then it is gone or twisted. “Plurals” is a generous helping of electronic fun.

Dhow – “Amara” – [Inam Records]

humana   3/30/2014   A Library, CD

Ryan Huber of Sujo and Olekranon appears on this second full length solo project as the creator of what he calls “dronegaze.” He uses guitars, drums, and a variety of noisy sounds including popping and scraping to offer an array of tracks that range from harsher drone to more soothing gaze. It’s all fairly enjoyable and well worth listening to.

Weiss, Dan – “Fourteen” – [Pi Recordings]

humana   3/30/2014   CD, Jazz

Weiss’s virtuosity as a jazz drummer and composer is in evidence here on this amazing release that took him at least two years to compose. Along with his usual trio mates Jacob Sacks on piano and Thomas Morgan on acoustic bass, there are numerous other musicians adding voice, sax, trombone, tuba, harp, glockenspiel, organ, electric and classical guitar. The result is a thoroughly pleasurable experience of jazz smooth enough to be accessible but edgy enough to accommodate improvisational tastes. Just when you think it’s going to be quiet, the rhythms change and get your blood moving in the best way possible.

LHD – “Limbs of The Fawn” – [Misanthropic Agenda]

abacus   3/30/2014   A Library, CD

One massive wreck of audio-erosion from noise-sadist Sissy John Wiese and the Cherry on top Phil Blankenship. Unremitting destruction of feedback walls en masse spewing clouds of static so opaque the tempestuous swirls of motion become near invisible. Forced-entry stimulus so pervasive screaming voices, pounding drums, warped radio signals all manifest either in the imagination or inaudibly. A mountainous implosion of distortion that will likely cause severe damage if endured in its longevity. Listen at your own risk.

Koo Koo Kanga Roo – Whoopty Whoop [Asian Man/Fun Fun]

thewindow   3/30/2014   A Library

Go to Whether or not you find that site amusing or obnoxious should determine whether or not you’ll like this album. This is children’s music for adults that watch Yo! Gabba! Gabba! or Adventure Time in various states of inebriation. This is Tim Hiedecker directing Sesame Street*. Whoopty whoop is the stupid-catchy major key pop hooks from the last 5 years of top 40 music conjoining with the ??stupid-catchy major key indie punk hooks that I stereotypically associate with Asian Man infantilized into some paradigm between the music from Adventure Time and Wesley Willis-esque post-ironic-pop-dada. “All I Eat is Pizza” revamps the stark junkie storytelling of The Velvet Underground for the Nick Jr. demographic. “Pogo” is for people that secretly enjoyed ??that Icona Pop song from last year (“I don’t care…I love it”) but would rather play a song about riding a pogo stick off a diving board. “Shake it Well” sounds kinda like Das Racist and is about orange juice. In general, every song plays out approximately like one could infer from the song titles, so have fun. I suggest playing this song between harsh noise or grindcore cuts for maximum discomfort.

*while still keeping it kid friendly

2:3 – Oswald Wiener Zum 65. Geburtstag [coll] – [Suppose]

thewindow   3/30/2014   A Library, CD

This collection is a tribute to Oswald Wiener, a post WW2 Austrian Writer/Musician who was one of the pioneers of concrete poetry aka poetry where words and dialects are used to evoke sounds and shapes more so than meaning (think a verbal analogue of musique concrete*). Most of these cuts are concrete poems in Austrian German with varying degrees of acoustic instrumental accompaniment or glitchy electronic manipulation. If you listen to these tracks more as acapella noise music then the result is some solid deep-listening/meditation music. Taken on their own, I would consider most of these cuts to be too abstract to fully engage the average schmuck during their evening commute. I would recommend instead mixing them with something hella atmospheric like Lustmord or Julianna Barwick.

Some exceptions would include the Mouse on Mars cut, which bridges the gap between Musique Concrete and spastic IDM a la Venetian Snares. Another exception would be the Nihlist Spasm Band jam which sounds like some 20th century avant-improv dude like Derek Bailey half-heartedly trying to make something Anarcho-Punks would like. The Wolfgang Muller selections sound like fucked up children’s music** with super off-kilter rhythmic phrasing.

Track six is the only concrete poem in English and is the audio equivalent of watching PBS shows that you don’t understand because they look cool.

*Wiener and associates however were unaware of what Parisian comrades like Pierre Henri were doing at the time

**fucked up in sound, not content.

Three Thirds – “Buffalo Skinner: a Tribute to Woody Guthrie” – [Self Released]

Thurston Hunger   3/27/2014   CD, Country

Sweet harmonies, sour tales…four people make up Three Thirds, living
in the Woody Guthrie songbook and working in Southern California.
Cowboys and outlaws dot the landscape, along with the bleached bones
of a crooked drover. The chamber saloon approach works exceptionally
here, Alex Wand while at the forefront with guitar and his innocent
man’s vocals in a guilty world, truly needs his accomplices. Claire
Chenette may be the secret weapon with oboe and english horn, one
can sputter with blood, the other shine like an angel’s halo.
Similarly, Heather Lockie’s viola can careen like a getaway car
on “Pretty Boy Floyd” or skip blythely through the willows to
her jilted lover’s grave. Both ladies pitch in singing with campfire
purity. Jake Rosenzweig is forbidden from singing on this, but
gets some whooping in and his bass is a backbone that brooks no
shivers. Listen to him bow open “Ranger’s Command.” The title
track will given Cormac McCarthy night terrors, it’s a hauntingly
beautiful cautionary tale. Thoroughly enjoyable listen, and best
of all it artfully illuminates Woody Guthrie’s genius. High
praises at noon, or anytime. This band is your band.

-Thurston Hunger

Bozulich, Carla – “Boy” – [Constellation]

Thurston Hunger   3/27/2014   A Library, CD

Most of the songs here are as slow as an executed man’s steps up
to the gallows, and just as full of dark thoughts. Carla’s voice
as always commands attention, especially in these ten cuts often
anchored by nothing more than a trenchant bass line and some art
trash percussion. Is she a drunk ghost missing her former life
as a Delta bluesman? Is she M. Gira’s guardian angel? Don’t know
but she’s one of the most consistently creative singer/songsters
going for my blood money these days. Dig the tranquilized madman
harmonies to her voice on “Don’t Follow Me” with the silhouette
of a Hammond B3. Great use of dappled guitar, fritzy electronics
and other odds and ends to splash a little color in these often
stark numbers. She’ll stick a phrase in and turn it like a blade
“Yes, the hole is deeper than the well” or spit out gems like
“the part-time tarantula” or “I just want to feel your skin (with)
that smoothest part of my shy heart.” She sings songs with near
religious fervor, but baptised in a strip club “Danceland” or
in the serial killer’s diary “Gonna Stop Killing”. Gaelic hymn
twirl to “Drowned to the Light.” With her malleable voice, she
may not be every woman, but she’s plenty and more than a few men.

-Thurston Hunger

Lama – “Oneiros” – [Clean Feed]

Thurston Hunger   3/27/2014   CD, Jazz

One of my favorites of a purchase from the fantastic Clean Feed
label that got lost in the KFJC shuffle for a spell.(Yes, still
hoping the Cleaners will Feed us future promo.) This is a killer
release. A three piece led by Susana Santos Silva, her use of
electronics in addition to her trumpet work is just about pitch
perfect. Somewhat reminscent of the Chicago Underground work of
Mazurek/Taylor+, Lama add perfect amounts of digital spice and
analog grit to their pieces. Double bassist Goncalo Almeida also
brings some circuit bending to the mix, and I can really see a
lot of the eclectic electronic DJ’s using these pieces to mix
things up. “Alguidar” starts off with crackle and glitch, like
old vinyl or new Raster Norton. Pieces like “Overture for
Penguins” start out dark, but work through to effervescence.
Silva darting in high, but then get low and wild like a
digeridoo as Almeida rebuilds the cycle of a bassline.
“Tarantino” is a dark sort of FSOL flavored ambient jazztronic
landscape. Greg Smith is the percussionist here, he can be a
cool rider on the cymbals and hi-hat, as on “Dr. No” which has
some mighty mute from Silva. On the title track, Smith pretty
much melodically rolls the piece all the way through, with
perfect bass sync from Almeida and Silva arcs a melody atop it
all. Very minimal electronics on that, but perfectly placed.
Like Toshinori Kondo’s work, there’s a spark to this that’s
going to light up a lot of ears. Do not miss.

-Thurston Hunger

Sacred Product – “Wastex” – [Quemada Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/27/2014   7-inch, A Library

Dude, head choogling boogie rock and in a 2X7″ format (which
online promo sapiens refer to as an “unfairly maligned” format).
What?!?! Man someone needs to malign their own business, 2X7 is
this side of KFJC heaven. Sacred Product is Australian Lynton Denovan
and he is a guitarist who finds a killer riff and then rides
it on the rails from station to station. Each song here I
think is like 49 minutes which is pretty good for a 7″ record.
Lynton does it all here, which for the vocals ends up being
a double effort, as he has that spoken, multi-tracked indie
insistent catchy sneer. I assume that’s him on the drums as
well, just about busting a live not hip-hop sampled groove on
“Tram and Train” and even more so on the killer “Ride Back.”
Hmmmm, maybe there is a theme of taking public transportation
on ping-pong rides (with these songs driving, the mileage
is good). Really solid no frills rock here, in fact it is
maybe anti-frills. Bitter lyrics taken from window seat
watching the garbage truck and ornamental churches blur by.
Lynton does it all, including the cover art apparently,
maybe a self portrait with Ron Jeremy tendencies?

-Thurston Hunger

Ending/Returning [coll] – [Immune Recordings]

Thurston Hunger   3/27/2014   12-inch, A Library

By my ears, Steven R. Smith is one of the most intense emotional
conjurers within the confines of KFJC’s library. He should be
scoring major motion pictures, not just the minor post-midnight
moments in our ceiling-staring lives. This release provides a
Bruce Wayne/Batman view of Steven and his Ulaan Khol project.
Two black vinyl records constitute a mirror world for seven
sound-Smith’d songs. I almost wonder if the Ulaan Khol were
born first. They bristle with electric rage, thickened by
a mix of distortion and perservering hope. That is the blood
essence of Ulaan Khol. Scaling craggy instrumental peaks
held in place by six mere strings and a humbucking drive.
Even in that more electric territory, Steven always has a
pastoral air to his playing. This time around a few gusts
of Kraut Rock blow through his fractal branches of chords.
Even without the pedals blazing, on the Steven R. Smith
A/B sides, there’s a manifest sense of the Old West. Where
the Ulaan Kolh is more raw and immediate, the multiple
layers on the Smith sides deliver a fuller and more pensive
sound. Is that clarinet in the mix, or a more gently
processed guitar (ebow to the soul?). Piano does drop
some watery notes into these versions. But still there is
a desolation of the desert, a half hour before sun stroke.
A horse has thrown its rider in each of these records,
the tracks are the same on each, but on the first, we
see the vantage of the rider, dusted and eyes skyward
while on the second record, we are the horse, racing
worstward towards the sun.

-Thurston Hunger

Mattin – “Songbook 5” – [Disembraining]

Thurston Hunger   3/27/2014   12-inch, A Library

Fives are wild. I’m surprised Mattin didn’t change his
name to Matin for this. Five musicians, five songs,
five minutes each, recorded in the fifth month of
last year. As with the excellent Billy Bao “Building
from Bilbao” a Fun House fritz out, the “blender” here
is hugely important. Separate ingredients from Mattin,
Joel Stern, Andrew McLellan, Alex Cuffe and Dean Roberts
(the last gent we have in our library under his own
name as well as White Winged Moth and Thela). It
sounds like their sources, as well as some found
recordings (or forced ones, not sure where the couple
on the concluding track were nabbed from). Inputs
extracted in response to song titles (please note
they are all five words for bonus points on this
assignment). At least that is the alleged plan, but
with Mattin anything is possible and all truths can be
better lies. The lyrics push a thesis of self-renunciation
is self-exploration, and “a free spirit needs to be
captured” (sung/slurred in inimitable Mattin fashion!).
Hamster wheels spin, and we are trapped inside/outside
John Cage’s world. Plenty of guitars, careening off
the mixing blender’s blades, a analog bop of “Love
Will Keep Us Together” comes apart inside the first track
maybe? A sense of collision overrides collaboration.
That last track is the most stark, are we in a
college laundromat or a philosophy club? Is there a
difference? Deconstruction is done, and construction
is king. More punk than any punk record going these
days. Interesting label, and a name for a label with
a release like this which pits physical clashing with
metaphysical hash. Long five Matin.

-Thrst Hungr

Due Process – “Combine XXIII-XXXV” – [Phage Tapes]

Thurston Hunger   3/27/2014   12-inch, A Library

Might as well call this OverDue Process, potentially the third
or later installment but the first to make it to KFJC, and in a
way make it from KFJC. Some of the source sounds here were shot
out on KFJC’s signal back on Dec 10th, 2005 when Emil Beaulieu
(nee RRRon Lessard) swung by our station, surely with KFJC
ally Thomas Dimuzio at his side. Those two gents, along with
John Wiggins constitue the Due Process-ors, who for 20
years have ping-ponged sound through the mail, the internet
and their sonic intestines. Of some note, especially on
side B, Zanstones wheeze-weaves some Kentucky squeeze box
into the mix. Quite nice as the processing here often as
a sort of inhaling kind of rhythm/wave to it. The first
side has insects bouncing off tiny springs or so it sounds
to me, some underwater reverb too. I think Wiggins brings
plenty of percussion into his mixes. Felt like lingering
organ to was involved, but it is all probably switches,
pedals and synth in various guises. The last three
tracks on side B are apparently the source material,
the very last being the most mellow, but far from a
drone. Burstiness seemed to be a recurring motif, and
maybe more humor than one might expect. Although online
I found their “Future Flashback” which was a cool
audio cartoon crowded with folks. This is more
subdued with industrial shades, but again a light
almost humorous touch. Noise plays, not slays.

-Thurston Hunger

Brotman & Short – “Distance Unknown” – [Chondritic Sound]

Thurston Hunger   3/27/2014   12-inch, A Library

On the Max & Mara project, Max Brotman showcased a florid
and varied approach of synths (with help from Mara of
course). Here we’ve got some monomaniacal mad scientist
keyboard work, old skull equipment, pitch wheel dementia,
gritty buzz waves sawing at the ears, in short a raw,
authentic recall of synth punk. Drum machines smack songs
along, and those songs like to work with inverting riffs or
half-step melody slides. Vocals are deader than dead pan,
with a slight hint of anger and disgust. What I expect
will be the first emotion a robot will feel. If you don’t
like the singing, your loss but there are four factory
tested instrumentals (oddly labeled with Roman Numerals
instead of SCCS versions). From those I and II have a
nifty pong-gone-wrong break out beat. The title track
may multiply your Joy Division sensors. I’m actually not
sure where Brotman leaves off and Jesse Short starts,
so that’s the sign of a pretty aligned pairing. My
kids are into the video game “Portal 2” to me this
album captures how it might really feel to be in such
a world. Anthems for the digital dystopia.

-Thurston Hunger

Wormsblood – Mastery of Creation Demos – [Barbarian Records]

mrpantsfancy   3/26/2014   A Library

This 3 in one album split my face into 3 parts. The first part (Bad Beaten Demos 2008) being badass and tantric. the second (Odal Demos 2006) being garage like and creepy. the third (The Grave Kill Demos) being hilarious and terrifying. I started this record on the wrong side by accident! It came faced the wrong way in the album. Did the band pack it this way? Did someone else? Writing this review now…I feel terrified by the trickery. This began my terrifying journey into this albums heart.

Regardless, each album had recurring themes/instruments/sounds. My favorite being a crazed witche scream. This scream haunts me as I write this. I swear a REAL WITCH is screaming into this microphone. I have no doubts. I also heard a dog barking several times in each record. That dog had to have done that by accident! They must have just kept his barking. The dog was yelling at the ancient witch spirits.

The beginning of the newest sect of the album (the front side) was comical at first. Cheesy harmonized guitars like some sort of BRO showdown. I started to get depressed when the last part of the side redeems itself hard! The end really makes you feel like you’re dying. But its the kind of death that gives you resolve.

Novy Svet – “Doce” [Kill Shaman]

thewindow   3/26/2014   12-inch, A Library, Format

Do you think that sometimes sitting around being sad can sometimes be a lot of fun? The songs on this retrospective from Viennese band Novy Svet are vaguely Industrial/Folk jams that are gloomy sounding but also a good time. While I would initially recommend this album to the livelier fans of Angels of Light or Current 93???s ???Black Ships Ate the Sky??? album, the album is actually a far more eclectic pastiche where instruments genres and influences are pulled from all corners of the galaxy. My vibe is that of Brian Wilson scoring a Major Hollywood film where most people die and a few people go crazy. Even the industrial and drone elements are integrated into suave acoustic jams with a nonchalant????grace that you wouldn???t question if it used the employees-only bathroom. ???Punished with Longing??? if you like salvation army bands, ???Esperando De Luna??? for fans of Serge Gainsbourg, ???Titan??? for happy-go-lucky descent into madness and ???Fin Finito Infinio??? for sci-fi alien abduction jams.

Hampson, Robert – “Signaux” – [Editions Mego]

Roland Blunt   3/26/2014   12-inch, A Library

2012 Editions Mego Records release featuring two sidelong aural explorations generated from Analogue Electronics Systems Recordings by Robert Hampson (Loop, Main, Godflesh). After relocating to Paris from his native London, he fell into the influence of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM), which was originally formed in 1958 by musique concrete pioneer Pierre Schaeffer. There he followed the paths of such revolutionaries as Pierre Henry, Luc Ferrari, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Bernard Parmegiani, and, especially, Francois Bayle. It was Bayle’s concept of “acousmatics” (“anything can be musical, that absolutely anything can have a musical tonality about it, and about how sound can be abstracted and changed”) that inspired his recent focus on processed electronic music compositions performed through multi-channel live sound diffusion installations.

Signaux 1 (17:56) is a 2 channel mix of an 8 channel diffusion commissioned by Planetarium ECM Mendes Poitiers, France. A neoteric approach to classic electronic music…tones, bleeps, blips, skips, chirps, buzzes, hums, gurgles, squeaks, squiggles….as if a vast web of machine intelligence is gradually awakening, and stimulating an electronic forest of insects and primordial creatures.

Signaux 2 (18:02) is a new studio composition that shares some aesthetic similarities to Signaux 1, yet generates more of a vigorous droning noise floor amongst the itinerant hiss, sweep, crackle and glurp of the disparate sonic artifacts.


Gog – “Ironworks” – [Utech Records]

Roland Blunt   3/26/2014   12-inch, A Library

2012 Utech Records release from Arizona native Michael Bjella (Wellington, Unrah, Black Hell) aka Gog. This album, Ironworks, was inspired by a blacksmith shop with origins that date back to the late 19th Century, a place where some of his ancestors once slogged away. Bjella utilizes manipulated samples of blacksmith and machinery recordings mixed with guitar, keyboards, and voice to forge six tracks of neo-industrial music with shreds of dark ambience, noise, doom and black metal. Track 1…soaring feedback washes over submerged blast beat with licks of piano. Track 2…cyclical noise drone with clashes of guitar and drudgery. Track 3…rising strains that are enveloped by a drone storm. Track 4…feedback grime disintegrating a rapt piano. Track 5…spasmodic mindscrape of exploited toils. Track 6…smithy upsets a untried nebulae.


Noise Nomads – “Ernest Thrasher” – [Feeding Tube Records]

abacus   3/24/2014   12-inch, A Library

Newest bit of vapid voyeurism from vagabond diva Jeff Hartford. Squirkle squirting wanker warbling and screaching rhythmic monotony of the serraded variety. Leakblower slapback and powerdrill percussion that goes all artcade apocalypse. Side B picks up the pandemonium with peanut prickle pops and poops and pickled pornographic uproar. Thizzle sizzle listener losing ear ant-agonizing audio annoyance.

Sec_ – “Outflow” – [Den Records]

abacus   3/23/2014   A Library, CD

Solo project of Neopolitan electro-acoustician Mimmo Napolitano and his Revox tape recorder with feedback electronics. Opening track Sends tonal disruption and static eruptions to unlock dusty corridors of the mind’s ear, clearing the path for the erratic sonic Dispersal that ensues. Frayed and scattered circuitry that shatter and break far beyond audible Boundaries with found-sound coin flips, vinyl rips and spoken clips. On our Return to rhythmic rectification the shutter doors open and close in morse codefied sensory retrieval only to Evacuate all signal and space for the light deprived silent leak of black holes Outflowing. A crackling dissection invokes the ruptured Interruption, interjecting then droning gradually to a gliding halt. Trespassing borders of composition and improvisation, analog and digital, manipulation and feedback.