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Music Reviews

Diabate, Zani and Super Djata Band – “Super Djata De Bamako” – [Kindred Spirits]

humana   11/30/2014   12-inch, International

Zani Diabate formed the Super Djata Band, one of Mali’s premiere private orchestras. Called “Mali’s electric warriors,” they offer here five songs rich with historical folklore that is described in the liner notes. Zani’s mad guitar skills are nicely offset by vocals and other local instruments such as kamalen ngoni and djembe. The liveliness of the music takes you to the heart of the Bamako region of Mali and immerses you in the cultural feel of the area. Each musician is part of a rich musical lineage that continues even after his passage to another plane. As you listen, you feel like you’re rollicking on the back of a camel or walking across flatlands in a hypnotic trance. Bon voyage!

Li Xi – “Macro Gardens” – [20 Sided Records]

humana   11/30/2014   7-inch, A Library

Li Xi is one of those bands that make San Francisco a treat. This little red-vinyl disc effervesces through your consciousness in an upbeat, fuzzy, psychedelic way. Side A is a bit more lively than Side B, but both are quite pleasing, especially with the fetching feminine vocals. The songs themselves are rather short, perfect as aperitifs between the main courses of your sets.

Teupen, Jonny – “Love and Harp a La Latin” – [Sonorama Records]

humana   11/30/2014   12-inch, Jazz

When Abacus gave this one to me, he said it was “Jack Diamond-like,” and indeed it is. All you have to do is look at the classy, provocative cover with the bombshell and the harpist to know that the music contained on this jewel is like nectar for some of us. Jazz harp is the genre, latina rhythms such as the samba are the means, and romantic feel-good easy listening is the sedative. The original and current liner notes of this 1965 album call this “stunning Latin & vocal jazz…with brilliant arrangements to play over and over again, intelligent music for relaxation and ‘after-work, when we actually want to listen to nothing more.'” Try using this as an accompaniment to downloading photos from your phone to your computer–it is perfect for watching your life flash before your eyes.

Dawn of The Planet of Noise [coll] – [Norcal Noisefest]

mrpantsfancy   11/26/2014   A Library, CD

Colorful mixture of noise from the Norcal Noisefest 2014, in Sacramento. Ranging from Distorted Elephant drowning screams to ambient sci fi and even comical tracks. Can’t really go wrong with any of these. My personal favorite is….

Track 12 by Doel…..

I scratched this in my notepad while listening, “Arctic wasteland/time to eat my friends”

Mirbeau – “White Blues” – [Self Release?]

mickeyslim   11/26/2014   7-inch, A Library

Mirbeau is Sean Forlenza from Brooklyn’s Eidetic Seeing (who has played here at KFJC). Awesome four track release of solo improvised guitar sounds.

Hard to pinpoint exactly, it starts fast-paced and noisy, but eventually slows down, almost to a drone. Forlenza makes the guitar squeak and screech and squelch, but also makes these intense thunderous meanderings. A lot packed into this quaint 7″. Dig it.

Burwell, Carter – “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” – [Milan]

abacus   11/26/2014   CD, Soundtrack

terrible movie great soundtrack; composer Carter Burwell has done countless films: from most of the Coen brothers movies to In Bruges, Where the Wild Things Are and even Psycho III. this soundtrack stands out as a darker, more minimal accompaniment; ambient tribal beats with ambiguously produced sampling (musique concrete or mimicry?). snapping twigs, rustling leaves grinding stones: the opening track implies the obvious that doesn’t stand out as much in the delivery. stark soundscapes verging on electronica. wiccan ceremonies

Iron Lung – “Savagery” – [Iron Lung Records]

mickeyslim   11/26/2014   7-inch, A Library

Iron Lung is a sweet duo from Reno, NV who relocated to Seattle, WA. Their powerviolence/grindcore project is released on their own record label of the same name, which is modestly represented in our library.

What we have here is Jensen Ward and Jon Kortland at their finest: a twelve track 7″ 45rpm record that clocks in at about six and a half minutes of nasty, fast, powerviolence in every sense of the word. Each song is about 30 seconds long, so good luck trying to queue a specific track. I suggest just playing an entire side, your choice.

Styrofoam Sanchez – “Empire Underwater” – [Ratskin Records]

abacus   11/26/2014   12-inch, A Library

torchbearers of the Oakland scourge, post-dystopic digital desecrations of the holiest of all packing materials. deconstructed beats for disassembled tropes with vocals so malicious to be spiritually damaging and arrhythmic respiratory pulsations to precipitate palpitations. reflections of evil, invocations of madness, celebrations of drowning collapse; let the skies cloud black with styrofoam smoke because a world without ice is a world underwater.

Frith, Fred & Butcher, John – “Natural Order, The” – [Northern Spy]

billiejoe   11/26/2014   CD, Jazz

These two Englishmen bring us skronky screechy sounds with their sax with guitar. Some melody so it does not get too nuts. Fun though. Frith on guitar is a founding member of English avant-rock group Henry Cow. Butcher on Sax has worked with Elton Dean, Chris Burn, and Jon Corbett. We have a bunch of stuff from both of these artists in our library.

Thirakwa, Ustad Ahmed Jan and Ustad Amir Hussain Khan – “Rhythms of India (Tabla Recital)” – [EMI (India)]

selector   11/26/2014   12-inch, International

This is your brain, on Tablas. Two veteran Indian percussionists. Rapid-fire tabla drumming. A must for those with an interest in rhythms and drumming. And don’t miss one of the better features, the cool bass sounds of the (usually) left-hand tabla (or dagga?).

I preferred Thirakwa’s A-Side tracks 1 & 2, Teen Tala & Ek Tala over Khan. Oddly, a number of reviews I read indicate that Thairakwa was showing his age with uneven speed and power. Forget that! It’s all amazing drumming!

–Selector

Isomer – “Face Toward The Sun” – [Tesco Organisation]

Rat King   11/26/2014   A Library, CD

This 2009 release, from Australia-based Isomer, is sometimes ambient, sometimes harsh, and always noisy and dark. Isomer works mainly (possibly exclusively) with electronics and samples, ranging from more soundscape-type tracks to power electronics (track 10 in particular) and vaguely martial sounds (tracks 3, 5, and 9). While electronics are at the forefront, there are occasional, disturbing glimpses of life in the form of unintelligible chanting crowds (track 2), distorted speech (tracks 3 and 5), and creepily out-of-place cheerful music (tracks 4 (sounds like it??imightibe a distorted “Mack the Knife”), 6, 7, 11), and what sounds like jungle animals (track 5). The title track (8) really stands out for its much calmer, more traditional beauty. It sounds like it should be accompanying a slow panning shot over a desolate landscape, perhaps a battlefield or another planet. Track 11 has some of this as well, but all its gentle guitar strumming just makes it more uncomfortable.

Face Toward The Sunibrings to mind a shadow world, one where great hulking machine-monsters tower over decaying cities as they wander slowly on stilt legs, blocking out the sun and raining ash down into the empty courtyards and squares. It’s creepy, brooding, atmospheric, and industrial is what I’m saying.

Shitfucker – “Suck Cocks In Hell” – [Hells Headbangers Records]

Rat King   11/26/2014   A Library, CD

Shitfucker are Daemonbitch (B-assfucker, SSatanic SSemitic SSemen SSummons (bass, vox)), Zyklon-T (Guitarrrgghh!, Necrotic Erotica and Sex Organ (guitar), known in most of his other work as Shagrat), and Styx Chizzler (Deranged Drum Damager, Serial Cymbal Abuser (drums), more commonly called “Motor City” Chaz). They describe themselves as “MANIAC BLACK METAL-PUNK FROM THE MOTOR CITY” (capitalization theirs). These guys areifun. Lyrics cover all forms of depravity, from devil worship to deviant sex to serial killers to telling off your neighbours/landlady/family/friends when they complain that you’re rocking too hard. The original cover design was banned in Germany (and probably France) for what they call a shiswastifa (you’ll know it when you see it). They recommend listening toiSuck Cocks In Helliwhile you perform an auto-erotic asphyxiation/disembowelment suicide. Their fans are called the Shit SS. It’s that kind of show.

Kind of like a cross between Motorhead and Abigail with some Sabbat and Venom mixed in. The fidelity is pretty low on this, which only adds to its diseased, effluvial charm. It has plenty of the heavy metal guitar work you would expect, with no noodly solos. Vocals are largely growly, although there is also plenty of shrieking and some cleaner singing (“Sex Dungeon” even has some high-pitched “oo-ooh” back-up). Drums are fairly simple, with blast-beats being a common feature. The bass is good, but not featured as heavily as guitar (although it does get some attention on “Go To Hell”). My personal favorite has to be “Acid Bath” because I’m a bit of a Dahmer fan, but “Go To Hell” and “I Am Of The Devil” are also contenders. “Satantisanity” is an instrumental, and “Yinastinatas” is the same instrumental in reverse. They’re both kinda pretty.

Miscreant – “Kill Their Babies” – [Rouge Label]

Rat King   11/26/2014   A Library, Cassette

Miscreant is a San Jose power electronics duo whose members are known as LDML and SNT. Anger with a target- Kill Their Babiesiis part warning and part taunt to those in power in America, as stated on the back cover through a quote from Obadiah 1:3: “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?”. Political corruption, xenophobia, blind patriotic zealotry, power-mad cops, the horrors of war, and religious fanaticism are all covered… maybe. While the aggression, frustration, and dissatisfaction come through loud and clear, the exact causes behind them are left open to interpretation.

Although there are samples of speech, one can only catch snippets of what’s being said- an official’s address to the public, something about Mexico and “get your own country”, statements of “God bless America” (side I). Behind that there is the ominous electronic noise which builds, dissipates, shrieks, grinds, and barks over desperate cries and the bravado of government officials, as well as occasional distorted shouted vocals from Miscreant themselves. Although both sides of the tape are similar in style, they are still two distinct tracks, with side one I slightly more organized and harsh, whereas side II has more despair to it, such as a distorted “help me, God, I think I’m gonna die” followed immediately by fervent talk of redemption as those whose God has failed them are quickly forgotten. Let us consider, now, another quote: “How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!” (2 Samuel 1:27)- a lament for some, a victory cry for others.

Gilson, Jef – “Gilson Et Malagasy” – [Jazzman]

humana   11/24/2014   CD, Jazz

This is a most wonderful holiday add. Jazz pianist, composer, arranger, leader extraordinaire Jef Gilson made many a trip in the late 60s to Madagascar to soak in the culture and music. These four CDs represent many of the collaborations and concerts Gilson performed with Malagasy musicians. The sound has elements of big band and I love it. It’s like the jazz I grew up with, but with a Malagasy twist. Read the liner notes to learn how Gilson encouraged the musicians to create their own brand of jazz–MadaJazzcar. Flute, harp, horns, strings, percussion. It’s all fabulous.

Szajner, Bernard – “Visions of Dune” – [InFine]

Thurston Hunger   11/24/2014   A Library, CD

Should post a review of some Bene Gesserit hand-jive vine
videon instead, but here’s the wormy words.

1979 work from Frenchman Bernard Szajner who also goes
by “Z” (Zed). Upon first listen the retro synth moves,
Escher-esque climbing loops of block waves, all too
perfect intervals, and the squishy envelope of the
synths as dials are spun made me think of Jean Maurice
Jarre. Apparently the laser harp that Jarre would ripple
was first tripped with by Szajner (built by Denis Carnus?).
Anyways you might find trace elements of Oxygene on the
planet Arrakis as constructed/imagined by Zed. Suprisingly
few wooshing winds on this, but synthy voices do blow into
the mix, including on both bonus numbers, “The Duke” and
“Spice”, a slightly harrowing operaesque cry wafts about.
Other garbled speak runs in and out from the outro of the
leadoff “Dune” into “Bashur” where some tight drumming
courtesy of Clement Bailly kicks in. Please note that pieces
1-6 and 8-13 all track as intended. (5/6, 9/10, 12/13 break
somewhat cleanly). “Shaa Halud” starts with a clicky galactic
gyroscope. Zed bringing in friends (guitars/voice/drums)
helped keep this from suffocating in the technology of its
age. It still feels like a time capsule. What was side A
on vinyl, being the more Spice high drift, and side B
connecting to Can/Magma moves. Anannka Raghel’s mind and
larynx altered non-words sound great. I’m guessing there’ll
be “Dune” reinterpretations every 25 years until the actual
planet Arrakis is found.

Bernard’s got an interesting back story at
http://www.infine-music.com/artist/36/z-aka-szajner

-Thurston Hunger

Eleven Twenty-Nine – “A Tithe to Hell” – [Drawing Room]

Thurston Hunger   11/24/2014   12-inch, A Library

Eleven (months) and Twenty-nine (days) is apparently the minimum
sentence for a felony. I’m not sure what crime avant guitardists
Tom Carter (Charalambides) and Marc Orleans (Sunburned Hand
of the Man) committed, but perhaps they killed every bassist who
came within ten feet of them? The two trade licks and looks here
with veteran drummer Michael Evans called in to assist and bring
his theremin. Side A starts with acid casualty action, well that’s not
quite fair, the track “Dirtbag Lazarus” has at times a Flying Saucer
Attack alignment. Hopefully it’s not about Carter’s overseas battle
with pnuemonia and related heart troubles, but that apparently is
well in the past, as his guitar still sizes fine. That’s the most driving
number before moving Orleans to dobro for a kind of cross fury with
country tinge on “The Projectionst” leading into more control, closer
to the campfire blankets than the actual fire on the short dobro
durable “41 Years With a Ball and Stripes.” Flip it over for a side
long explungation, that has Evans clicking in some martial drumming
and the piece hits active drone status at times. Not drone in terms of
long waves of short notes, but needle stuck on guitar red line or laced
and relaced notes. The interplay of Carter and Orleans, seems more
combative than on the first side, half-step riff repeating up and up feels
like an argument to Orleans work on the other side. Especially towards
the end as an aggravated arpeggiated tension rises before a brief
cool down period.

-Thurston Hunger

Dunkelpek – “Live At Luggage Store Gallery” – [Self-release]

abacus   11/19/2014   A Library, CD

improvisational duo of Nava Dunkelman (percussion) and Jacob Pek (guitar, miscellany) concoct a bizarre elixir of musical influences: from gamelan to kabuki, bebop jazz to rock n roll. a minimalist calamity of crumbling clutter and clatter. from factory junkyard debris to lingering fog on mountain slopes. blending the contemporary and the primordial, these outsound outsiders have a sound truly their own.

Unmanned – “Ageism” – [Idiopathic Records]

abacus   11/19/2014   A Library, Cassette

jagged ambient deformities and torn, tattered soundscrapes; a thick smoke of delicate dysrhymia dematerialized to the point of absence: decrepit sonic voidism echoing in hollow concrete chambers of steel and ash; distant clambering about subconscious, evoking forgotten fears and lost dreams. troubled tranquility

Stranger, The – “Watching Dead Empires In Decay” – [Modern Love]

abacus   11/19/2014   A Library, CD

omnificent, omnipotent, ominous: this project of Leyland Kirby carries the dark musique-concrete tradition of his other projects with a more techno-dystopic theme; reflections on the monolithic beauty inherent in the decay and destruction of modern civilization. post-industrial ritualism stripped down and stretched out, machine-line dub rhythms and broken disjointed trip-hop vibrations chattering. the instrumentation is vague and ambiguous, circuit switched electronics, lingering field recordings, glitched drum machines. stark, haunted by the ghosts of our psyche dead behind our eyes. dizzy, dazed by the sheer force of delusion. devolved, incapacitated by our own progression.

Music On The Desert Road: a Sound Travelogue [coll] – [Angel Records]

abacus   11/19/2014   12-inch, International

like a collection of old photographs, lost moments of forgotten traditions immortalized here by Bengali ethnomusicologist Deben Bhattacharya, recordings captured during his overland voyage to India from 1955-1956. at the start of each side we set out by road or rail traversing the great desert from Anatolia descending into the Levant and across the Fertile Crescent into Persia and finally India. religious rituals, domestic rituals, nomadic rituals; ancient modes and harmonies spread across a vast geographic space along the Silk Road and through Bedouin drifting and Vedic-Aryan migration. a timeless document of historical significance documenting musical practices that carry meaning today.