Fundraiser 2018 — Donate now!

Music Reviews

Rohit – “Judge” – [Blud Auk Tapes]

abacus   4/30/2014   A Library, Cassette

Grimy noise obsessed crust-violence from this group of Portland pummelers. They’ve taken the most basic tropes of all different varieties of metal and punk and plummeted them to the deepest depths of aesthetic desolation. This single take recording (press limited to 50) showcases the raw, primal output of these beasts with episodes of epileptic feedback fits in between. While the title track brings creeping decrepitude other tracks explode into gnashing, gnarling nastiness, all narrated by a hoarse hawg howling that smells of some Gore-ish grunts. Sometimes the guitars fall over the ledge in swirling black cult invocations, other times you get some classic 1-2 punk punch, but all provide the very worst in nihilism and misanthropia. Let it be said that the only hardcore dancing you’ll be doing to this is dead on the floor.

Duboc, Benjamin – “St. James Infirmary” – [Improvising Beings]

abacus   4/30/2014   CD, Jazz

Two long solo concert bass meditations recorded in the Saint-Martin Church in France offer sparse, minimal, yet still abstractly opposing approaches to sonic experimentation. The title piece is his take on the traditional tune, a somber and introspective exploration of the different harmonic qualities of different intervals inlaid in the melody of the song. Very clear and precise tonal execution with each note standing prominently on its own as he takes a straightahead approach to the melody and then breaks it down piece by piece. The second track named after the church is more abstract, experimenting with timbre through extended bowing and percussive techniques. The sound sometimes appears electronically treated as he settles into a broad wavering drone of overtones but it remains all acoustic. The second piece is markedly more minimal with a lot of silence and both pieces might fare better in a mix, however I think they stand strong on their own, with silence acting as an appropriate contrast to the strings’ aesthetic purity.

Cline, Nels/ Corsano, Chris/ Giffoni, Carlos – “GRADUATION” – [FREE103POINT9]

mickeyslim   4/30/2014   12-inch, A Library


The first part of this album by noisicians Nels Cline, Chris Corsano and Carlos Giffoni (this time calling themselves the Graduation Trio) starts as an assaulting improv of guitar/drums/electronics and slowly winds down, with quirky guitar ramblings and quiet drum madness fizzling out, electronic tweaks and static crawl through the cracks the whole way through.

Then, once you’ve finished that.. you can enjoy it again, this time re-mixed by Carlos Giffoni, much noisier, more electronic, more glitchy, and doomier at parts, much more dynamic sounding if that’s what you’re going for. B-side takes on a personal feel, like Giffoni’s own project, in a sense.

I enjoyed the A-side more, for it’s earthier sounding noise (if that’s a thing).

Cloud Becomes You Hand – “Rock Or Cakes” – [Feeding Tube Records]

Naysayer   4/30/2014   12-inch, A Library

“Rocks Or Cakes” by the Brooklyn quintet Cloud Becomes Your Hand is one of the best things I have heard in a long time. Might I be influenced by the fact that it is released on Feeding Tube Records? I might. Might I be influenced by the fact that I can not quite figure it out? Most definitely. Listening to the sounds on this LP make me realize that sometimes things come about that are different yet familiar and that makes it all very good. Part prog rock but not, part psych but not, some Captain Beefheart maybe, child’s toys, art school stop and start playing, is that a calliope?, am I at a carnival?, wait it’s jazz or i don’t know, ohh xylophone, ummm 60’s movie soundtracks my favorite, old tweeky synthesizers, a violin stretched to the limits, underwater, marching drums and on and on and on.
Now this could come off as horribly pretentious but it is not. It could sound just too much or bad messy but it is not. The ten songs on this album, each with clever title, offer a well played series of songs that are challenging but not ripping your face off. They are enjoyable and might make you smile, gods forbid. A song may start with a simple rhythm or not, led by guitar or not and soon other instruments join in or don’t and the rhythm may get stuck in you head but then it changes pattern, timbre, instrumentation. A tambourine may lead with simple synthesizer lines and odd sound effects then an old wire is plucked, in comes the casio, etc, etc, etc, smoke a bud or eat some candy. The instrumentation and musicianship is tight. Stellar. The lyrics are like the music: odd and recognizable and comfortable and scratchy all at once. And yet it all sounds so familiar. How did they do it? I love it! Byron Coley loves it! Our listeners will love it! Love it!

Trivalve – “Leona Sessions, The” – [Trivalve]

Cousin Mary   4/30/2014   A Library, CD

Second CD release from this excellent Oakland, CA surf power trio. Fine work on guitar, bass, and drums on these original compositions that are created collaboratively. Definitely a surf sound, but with a difference – do I hear a little funk and jazz now and then?

Grandma Sparrow & His Piddletractor Orchestra – “Grandma Sparrow & His Piddletractor Orchestra” – [Spacebomb]

Cousin Mary   4/30/2014   A Library, CD

Grandma Sparrow is the alter-ego of composer/improviser/vocalist/percussionist Joe Westerlund. Here he has assembled a darn good band and performs a rather warped set of “children’s” tunes, designed to both delight and disturb. A title like “The Pigmilk Candycane” gives you a good idea of what to expect. Modern classical fans might enjoy track 13, a twelve-tone lullaby.

Gloria Diaboli – “Libation Unto He Who Dwelleth In The Depths” – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

billiejoe   4/30/2014   10-inch, A Library

Canadian Black Metal with indecipherable cookie monster vocals over cymbal heavy drums and choppy/repetitive guitar.
Previously known as Crypt, this group is made up of Narcoterrorist, Funeral, and Mal. They are associated with Havoc, Miasma, AMSG, and Godless North.
Second side is called “sheol” which is the Old Testament or Hebrew word underworld.
Satan-worshiping fun for the whole family. I dig it.

Higuchi, Keiko / Cris X – “Melt” – [Musik Atlach]

billiejoe   4/30/2014   A Library, CD

Five track CD from 2010. Two experimental artists join sonic forces with piano, vocals, and various other sounds including some looping and samples. It moves slowly but powerfully. Haunting and pleasant at the same time. The second track, “Sister/you left me so insane” will give you goosebumps.
Cris X is a prolific sound and visual artist from Italy. He’s worked with Merzbow/Masami Akita, KK Null/Kazuyuki Kishino, MB/Maurizio Bianchi, Sachiko, Michiko Hirayama, Hamayoko/Yoko Higashi, Gene Coleman, Eugene Chadbourne, Luca Miti, Tiziana Loconte, Ben Watson, Splinter vs Stalin, Torturing nurse and others.
Keiko Higuchi is a writer and performer. She is also a member of the band 0.03 and has collaborated with Maki Hachiya, Kidonatsuki, Sachiko (Overhang party) and K.mical (no neck blues band), Masami Kawaguchi and many others.

Mitchell’s, Nicole Black Earth Ensemble – “Intergalactic Beings” – [FPE Records]

billiejoe   4/30/2014   CD, Jazz

Nine track CD recorded live in 2010 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (released in 2014). Scratchy screeching strings and wailing horns. Tight and loose at the same time. This free jazz is energetically relaxed. Melodic and organized as well as improvised and scattered. Seems like it’s searching for something it never finds but is fun none the less. It’s all about the process, man.
Flute, horns, and strings with some scaling vocals in the mix. All tracks blend together.
Mitchell is a flautist from NY state and Southern Cal. She’s worked with the ensemble Samana as well as David Boykin (who is on this album), Hamid Drake, Savoir Faire, Edith Yokley, Darius Savage, and Avreeayl Ra (on this album).

Tralala Blip – “Aussie Dream” – [Disembraining]

humana   4/30/2014   12-inch, A Library

Remember the cute sounds on “Muskrat Love”? These electronics beat those sounds, in a great way. “Soccer in Space” just sounds so mellow and adorable, and the other songs follow its lead. Spacy, gentle beats, and hazy lyrics combine to create an effect so utterly calming and pleasant that you want to just curl up and let your brain fall asleep. I know I lost most of you with the Captain and Tenille reference, but if not, give this a try.

Gibbs, Philip – “Box Canyon Blues” – [Self Release]

humana   4/29/2014   Blues, CD

This is a guy and his guitar, except for the last song, which includes other instruments. Gibbs wrote most of the songs on here, and he sings them and plays them with a simplicity and beauty that are rare and true. It’s blues, country, human, and just plain great. Every one is a pleasure to listen to, and I can’t wait to fill in again so I can play me some of these. They are short, sweet, and to the point.

Woods – With Light And With Love [Woodsist Records]

thewindow   4/29/2014   A Library

This album reminds me of getting stoned in high school: a cafe-free voyage into the unseen realms of consciousness-in actuality, getting pizza and sitting in a parking lot for two hours. This is an album of psych-pop with glowing freakinoutman sheen on the production/recording. There are feel-good melodic hooks everywhere. The lyrics are that vague, indie, hella-deep-bro shit that talks about love and light but doesn’t really say anything. A fat organ is usually present.
Overall it’s pretty and fun but don’t think too much about it. I would sandwich these cuts between more challenging material. I do appreciate cheap happiness.

Brown, James – “Singles Volume 9: 1973 – 1975, The” – [Polydor]

Naysayer   4/26/2014   CD, Soul

Yep, it’s James Brown. What else can be said about the Godfather of Soul? We all know it. Yet there always seems to be another piece of the puzzle found somewhere. This singles series, of which this is volume 9, really probes deep into the Brown archives, focusing on the singles from 1973 to 1975. By this time, Brown had already established himself as a force in music. He had hits. He had the 1962 and 1968 “Live at the Apollo” albums which established himself as a superstar. But then the ’70’s hit, psychedelic instrumentation had pushed into soul, funk was becoming the lead style on the r&b soul charts, disco was around the corner, women’s liberation and the sexual revolution hit hard: Brown had to keep up with the times even though he was getting older. He had clout at Polydor Records and could do just about anything with them, so one of the things was to release singles he had recorded and had been sitting on the shelf as well as pulling the select single from recording sessions. He released 5 albums between 1973 and 1975, therefore there was a wealth of material, including remakes of previous hits. The booklet that comes with this collection is full of in depth information that follows this period.
Musically, this is classic funky James Brown, holding on to all the old tricks while attempting to change with the times, often with success. Many songs have the wonderful banter between Brown and his team. There are the introductions of Brown. The funk is kicked up. A number of songs are the parts 1 and 2 of the singles. Hear them without even flipping them over, though this makes me wish we could hear them without the pause and just listen straight through to get the full effect. I must say, the few numbers without Brown singing are the most interesting to me. It gives us a chance to hear the superb musicians and back up singers that made up Brown’s musical family, that were the backbone of his style.
Listen, enjoy, learn, dance.

Foiled – In Denial [Hash Crimes]

thewindow   4/25/2014   A Library

East Bay Noise Grind for losing your fucking mind. This tape is probably what it feels like being in solitary confinement for a year. These sounds are what???s going through an ant???s head as it is being fryed by a magnifying glass. Foiled are a Power-Violence frenzy helplessly entangled in Harsh Noise. Like a good horror movie, the pure Nihlist hearing damage mangles and muffles the deranged rawk entropy leaving more to simmer in the imagination. My only complaint is the plethora of unnecessary 1-off samples. I can???t tell when one song begins and another song ends, but somehow I doubt that the members of Foiled give a shit. Play whole sides when you want people to don their skin suits.

Ensemble Pearl [Drag City]

thewindow   4/25/2014   A Library

Sensual Drone-Pop Jams for the damned; Ensemble Pearl comprises Stephen O??? Malley (Sunn0))), Michio Kurihara, Atsuo (Boris), Eyvind Kang, Timba Harris (Secret Chiefs 3), and Bill Herzog. The music was written for a theatrical production by Gisele Vienne titled ???This is How You Disappear,??? about three characters seeking spiritual transcendence in a forest that mutates along with them. The theme of the play is the juxtaposition of beauty sought through order and perfection with beauty sought through chaos and destruction. Ensemble Pearl perfectly evoke this contrast with noise, drones, extended technique and a surprising amount of melodic hooks. Tracks 1-3 are shorter.

sPace moNKey [Hubro Records]

thewindow   4/25/2014   A Library

Norwiegian cosmic semi-electronic acid noise jazz featuring the pianist from Jaga Jazzist. It is largely a melancholy album for what it is. If you???ve reconciled with the fact that no one will truly understand you; if you are content to chill forever in your radical space hammock as you watch the tribulations of the world and your own sense of self drift away into an infinite haze: you need this album. Track 1 for the Jazz collective. Track 3 for a noise show.

Kirkegaard, Jacob – “4 Rooms” – [Touch]

abacus   4/25/2014   A Library, CD

A document of silence in the still catastrophic aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. Kirkegaard traveled to villages surrounding and visited 4 locations once centers of social gathering and recorded the sound of the rooms, attempting to capture the sonic phantoms of human energy embedded in those spaces. Then, in the tradition of Alvin Lucier’s “I Am Sitting In a Room,” he played the recordings back into those rooms up to ten times and recorded the effects. The physical space of each room is palpable within the audible depth of the pieces. From Church the sonic space is haunting yet magisterial and as on Auditorium the colliding harmonics of tone coalesce into a singular undulating drone. The aesthetics seem to match each locale, Swimming Pool taking on an almost aqueous timbre despite the fact that only a shallow layer of water remained and Gymnasium provides a solid surface slapback that solidifies into a tense ring of boxed tonality. The memories of human activity in each room seem to be embodied in the buildings or in the mere empty space. Aural ghosts of times past.

Yowie – “Damning With Faint Praise” – [Skin Graft Records]

abacus   4/25/2014   A Library, CD

Another southern twang speedball from Missouri math rock monsters Yowie. 8 years of hibernation and the beast has tempered; still the erratic, disjointed rhythms and angry, atonal guitar, but all spaced out a bit. Thoughtful amelodic exploration between the skreeling finger-bent guitarists also allowing each other room to breathe, even as they pile on the pandemonium. And slowly but surly Defenestrator’s restrained breakdowns punctuate perfectly the still spastic interplay, seizing and fidgeting into something concrete, but fleeting in the inevitable and eternal collapse. Deceptively impulsive but in reality rigidly composed by these crackhead savants. A solid whippersnapper of a release that I could care less about.

Demonbrother – “Beyond The Veil” – [Iron Lung Records]

abacus   4/24/2014   12-inch, A Library

Brooding murky powerviolence from Will Killingsworth (Vaccine) and Andrew Jackmauh (Confines), a duo of bass and drums that carries all the bulk and brutality that the genre demands without the relentless riffage and blastbeats that the metal leanings imply. Viscous pounding of bass permeates the mongoloid march of drums, driving the sludge burdened introspection on mental illness and stigma. Delusions of layered guitar feedback build to an almost symphonic precipice and torment the listener from the outside, inducing paranoid visions of anxiety and hallucination. The spoken word sampling on Schrei exposes the themes of social compartmentalization and definitions of insanity. We’re all fucking crazy, embrace it.

Black Thread – “Fragrant Hoof Carvings” – [Turmeric Magnitudes]

abacus   4/24/2014   A Library, Cassette

Ambient tape minimalism from label leader Greg Gorlen out of San Francisco. Lo-fi drone loops swaying in windy hiss, the title track seemingly heat warped, spliced and bloated, broken yet serene. The A-side track is thick and inky indeed, but with lights playing tricks in the shadows, like rowing out to solitary sea on a crescent moonlit night or lost in a labyrinth of tall grass on the edge of town. On the closing lullaby we’re back in our rowboat at rainy twilight counting stars as we drift in and out of consciousness. Small sounds, fuzzy sounds, contemplative sounds.