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Music Reviews

West Hill Blast Quartet – “Blast #2” – [Foolproof Projects]

mickeyslim   2/25/2015   CD, Jazz

Out on Foolproof Projects, Ron Caines of East of Eden and Daniel Spicer provide the noisey aspects of this release, while Gus Garside lays down the broken-beat double-bass, and Andy Pyne of numerous Foolproof projects slams away on the drums.

All the weird instruments give the songs a certain depth, making it free-er than free-jazz. It’s fun, spacey, and loungey in acid-freakout kinda way.

Alto, tenor, soprano, and bamboo saxophones, melodica, whistles, shenai (double-reed oboe), melody harp, and more.

D/U\a/l F\o/R\m [coll] – [Leaving Records]

Naysayer   2/25/2015   A Library, CD

wow. Wow WOW Loving this much. Matthewdavid and Jesselisa Moretti founded the label Leaving Records. “Dual Form” is their collaboration with the label Stones Throw. Originally a double cassette, now sold out, this was rereleased as a CD. This project is a wonderful introduction into the twisted heads of the two founders. Great tastes for sure with nothing sounding like the other yet all of the 19 pieces being similar and united. What do they have in common? Scratchiness. Fuzzy distortion, as if recorded through an AM transmitter. Cut up beats that make the head wobble and get the listener dizzy. Repetition. Loops. Samples. Brief samples of field recordings. Experimental hip hop. Electronics. Vocals cut up and used as beats. Unclear sounds. A uniqueness that makes it difficult to classify and describe. It’s not so hard sounding. In fact the beats and electronics come off as familiar. This is not the case. Listen close. Something will bang or pop or crash. You are going to start wondering what is going on. Subtlety in strangeness. 19 weirdos doing their best to push it. Wonderful.

Nippon Girls 2 [coll] – [Ace Records Ltd./Virgin]

Naysayer   2/25/2015   12-inch, International

I mean come on, really? Do I actually need to review this? Japanese! Girls! 1960’s! Groups Sounds Boom! Go-go pop! Beat girls!
Mini Mini skirts!
This is Nippon Girls 2 ( as in, “Where is Number 1? I need it! And there is a Number 3! I need it!). This collection of 12 hits from 1966 to 1970 is superb fun. As the cover says “Japanese Pop, Beat & Rock ‘N’ Roll”. That’s “N”. All female led. Surf guitar influences abound. Simple four four time. Twangy guitars sometimes playing on Japanese traditional music themes. Big British and American influence. Lots of cymbal. Slow. Fast. FRUG!!!!!!!!!
Read the amazing liner notes. Play this to death. If you don’t get it, don’t talk to me.

Shutter Island [coll] – [Rhino Records Inc.]

Cousin Mary   2/25/2015   CD, Soundtrack

The composers on this soundtrack are a who’s who of modern classical composers – very intriguing selections that provide a variety of ominous, contemplative, experimental sounds. A few tracks (Cry, Wheel of Fortune, Tomrorow Night) are popular tunes from the late 40’s and early 50’s. The last track combines the two – a mix of Dinah Washington and Max Richter – that is gorgeous and moving. Highest recommendation!

Gebbia, Gianni; Smith, Damon; and Powell, Garth – “People In Motion” – [Rastascan Records]

Naysayer   2/25/2015   CD, Jazz

“People in Motion”, the 1999 release from Gianni Gebbia (alto saxophone), Damon Smith (contra bass) and Garth Powell (percussion) is ten pieces of improvisation which covers a spectrum of sound. This is not just onslaught improvisation. This is improvisation with subtlety and breathing room as well as larger groupings of sounds. The players obviously respect each other’s playing and intuition for each is given the time and space to experiment and explore with their musical ideas. Some parts of the pieces are downright harsh but others are thought provoking and humorous. Not that harsh is never thought provoking. It is simply the mix which makes the project more enjoyable. Seriousness and humor are shown right up front with the front and back cover art. This prepares us for the opposites that will be within the music. Track 1, “All Across the Nation” starts out with mallard calls and reed blowing sounding like duck calls. An interesting way to catch our attention. By track three, “A New Explanation”, the trio is playing over and around a recording of a gamelan orchestra. The following tracks are interplays with the three musicians, sometimes falling into straight ahead jazz soundtracks (for moments) and then exploding into a more free form experience. All tracks are worthy of our listening attention.

Carletti, Juan Pablo / Tony Malaby / Christopher Hoffman – “Nino / Brujo” – [Nobusiness Records]

Naysayer   2/24/2015   12-inch, Jazz

Nobusiness, the superb music label out of Lithuania, has done a remarkable job with this project by drummer Juan Pablo Carletti, cellist Christopher Hoffman, and tenor sax player Tony Malaby. Carletti, from Bueno Aires and now stationed in New York City, has created seven pieces of lush beauty and sophistication which never feel static or produced. The exceptional teamwork of this trio, all who have earned their chops with numerous groups and projects of quality and respect, play off of each other in improvisational stylings that are never blurting or squonky. There is a gorgeous flow to each piece, some subtle and quiet, others almost ready to explode, yet all of which are easy on the ear. So much improvised music can start to sound like a bunch of duck calls all going off at once (and don’t get me wrong for that is a sound i love). Such is not the case with “Nino/Brujo”.
There is a respectful interplay between the sax, drums and cello. Space and time are allowed, giving the listener’s ear a chance
to take in the sounds. Malaby’s sax is smooth and lush, not tinny. Hoffman plucks and pulls the strings as well as bows, exploring the tonal qualities of the cello. Carletti, influenced by the current New York scene, as well as his own skill, uses hands, mallets and other implements, besides the sticks, to drum. An exquisite addition to the library.

Sediment Club – “30 Seconds Too Late” – [NNA]

abacus   2/18/2015   A Library, Cassette

in the slashed and oozing vein of no wave, these panicked punkers ambiguously sprouting from the dismal abysmal streets along the eastern seaboard are raging through the know nothing scenes of warehouses, back alleys and squats. lopsided stumbling too drunk to stand but ferocious nonetheless; jagged assaults of angular rock with vocals fuming and foaming, guitar gutting gone woozy on the whammy, and a drummer glazed and lost in his own frenzy. ugliness making one hesitant to call it ‘art’ rock per se, but i guess that’s post-modernism isn’t it…

Sapat – “A Posthuman Guide to The Advent Calendar Origins of The Peep Show” – [Sophomore Lounge]

Thurston Hunger   2/16/2015   12-inch, A Library

If Captain Beefheart joined God Speed You Black Emperor
and said “Maybe we can mope less and squeeze in an
orgy of horns?” Nah that’s not it. And how do you explain
the intro with Dane Waters vocals going from epileptic
jujitsu into a soaring sort of Catherine Ribeiro
ionosphere. What if Cerberus Shoal were still in one
house and one one band and replaced their hands with
Irving Klaws? Nah. Or what if Geoffrey Holder’s
recently freed up spirit took over Werner Herzog’s
body and recorded some thoughts on a cassette, would
that be Kapt. Molasses contribution here? Louisville
Kentucky Kollectiev, part of me wants to listen to this
19 times in a row to listen for each of the 19
creative contributors. I’ll give props to the drummers
Dominic Cipolla and Jeff Komara who often through
the peculiar pastiches hold the craziness together
with heavy precision, and no shortage of swing. The
music mixes sinew and silk, guitar tasteful and twisted,
horn chart heart attacks, piano with a slight regal
flair, and voices in all the colors of the stangebow!
A litmus test of sorts is the typewriter ransom notes
fountain of truth and tricks on the album artwork,
if you are down with that brain bristling epistling,
the music herein will pinwheel your pineal ear gland.
Shape shifting mini-epics that make me wonder why a
million people won’t get in line for Sapat, but at
least we can make sure the 10,000 people who will
dig this as I do, hear about it via KFJC’s art rock
purveyors and polishers. Words can’t catch this kind
of album, do not let your ears miss!
-Thurston Hunger

3/2/2015 Fixed a miss-take, here is Dane Waters

in further glory…. Again this Sapat album is a gem!

Morozov, Yury – “Cherry Garden of Jimi Hendrix” – [Shadoks]

Thurston Hunger   2/16/2015   A Library, CD

Rare Russian re-release, 11 tracks from 1973 with ten bonus
beauties dropped in from ’74-75! PSoviet Psych?!? Definitely a
homegrown studio of mechanical mushroom vibe, lots of guitar
acoustic and electric, but plenty of tape trickery and a
hint of some of his more experimental electonic work to
come. (By the way Yuri died in 2006 at the young age of 57).
My first take on this was a kind of Syd Barrett, Yury clearly
embraces the outside aesthetic (check his quote about the
“narrow corridors” of the temple of music in the nice liners
along with some great shots of his wild-eyed ways. While doing
this on his own, with rough equipment, he found a job at the
big Melodiya studios, which likely affirmed his desire to
make music with rougher and truer edges. Lot’s of singing
styles on here, Yury can sing sweetly or howl and yelp
ya-ya-ya with distortion. Choirs are built perhaps just from
Yury and his wife Nina’s voices at time, on #9 and #17 for
example, the latter a soviet synth to boot. While maybe
poor in instruments (toy piano tinkering, simple flutes are
also sprinkled in) his short songs are often rich with
ideas. Often before they get too catchy, he’ll turn things
off in another direction. There are flavors of the west
(the title refs a Chekhov play with a US guitarist folks
might have heard of). #18 has a hint of “All Along the
Watchtower” but whistling, and gently warped into
something all together differnt. Kak zhal that Yury is
gone, didn’t the Soviet isolation help him flourish in
his independence or put walls up holding him back.
Hell if I know, but this is an excellent discovery.

-Thurston Hungerovich

Damaged Bug – “Hubba Bubba” – [Castle Face Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/16/2015   12-inch, A Library

Used to be you’d go to a bar and find at least two
galactic travelers – you know an Ultraman enemy and one
of JT Kirk’s exes. They’d bypass the adult beverages
and just get drunk on the light organ. They’d ask you
if you could take them to Brian Eno, and laugh with
high shrilling bi-tones when you said no. Not sure when,
but they all left, everyone of them fled the planet like
a dead celebrity party. Maybe this record will bring ’em
back. John Dwyer and Thee Oh Sees microphone decided
they needed some time apart, so Dwyer built a rocket ship
studio out of old analog synths (mellotron on board!),
some tin foil, grumpy drum machines and all the red lights
ever used in Sci Fi films before Star Wars. Guess what,
his ship launched better than that Orbital Sciences dealy.
Damaged Bug has a mix of gravity and levity that keep it
in steady pop orbit. It’s a fine, mechanical toe-tapper
of an album guaranteed to give your robot hiccups.
I thought I sensed some Silver Apples baked into that
tasty “Sic Bay Surprise.” “Metal Hand” has vocoder lips.
Some of the drums on the album are played by primates!
“SS Cassidiner” is an experimental lunar noodler doodler,
“1/2 An Airplane” also shuts off the communication
device. But Dwyer’s deadpan delivery and lively lyrics
(“Hubba Bubba” is in part about that gum you used to
like, coming back in style maybe?). We got a plain
black vinyl copy, but I assume somewhere there’s a 12″
pressed out of fossilized Tang crystals.
-Thurston Hunger

Mimmo, Gianni and Blunt, Alison – “Lasting Ephemerals” – [Amirani Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/16/2015   12-inch, Jazz

Free-soaring duet with Mimmo on soprano sax and Blunt on violin.
The title cut drops an oxymoron and a side long improvisational
piece that at the outset feels like Mimmo and Blunt are flying
independent of each other, even at times it feels like a more
aggressive competition. The cavernous beauty of the London church
where this was recorded almost tricks the ear into relaxing,
the sharpest quick-stop attack note falling away into soothing
decay. If it’s a cliche to make a duo, a trio by referencing
the environs as a player, I stil think it’s apt. (And credit
due to Matt Saunders for capturing that to tape and vinyl
on Mimmo’s own label. If the angles and invention of the title
track are tack too much, perhaps try “Scherzo” the shortest
piece on here, launching with almost a bop vibe, but the iciest
bop that’ll ever drop. “Elliptical Birds” was my favorite with
an almost crystalline beauty and more cooperation, if not
exactly harmonizing between Mimmo and Blunt. Pretty much any
stretch of music here will turn your life into a Bergman film.
The black and white streamlined clothing of the cover doves
with that idea. Both players employ extended techniques,
the sputter, the scrape, the tunnel of the soprano, the
spider of the violin, the results are an abstract art that
will not reassure many, but will entice some of us with the
quick and not necessarily easy improvisations.

-Thurston Hunger

Invisible Hands, The – “Teslam” – [Abduction]

Thurston Hunger   2/16/2015   12-inch, A Library

Latest installment from Alan Bishop *and* band. Riding a
white and a dark horse, covering tracks near cemeteries,
Bishop always one to point out the unmarkedgraves. The
rotten flavor of totalitarianism never sounded so sweet
when indicted by the shape-shifting character of Alan’s
voice and the sweet, bright-eyed harmonizing of Aya
Hemeda. Their interplay on many of the songs is
exhilirating, as is the varied guitar approaches from
Cherif El Masr, he and Aya were in a band Eskenderella
in Egypt where Bishop has sprung up the past few years.
Yet this is no milk-whitened coffee world music bleating
retreat, it’s an AOR album, unique in this day and age,
but likely hearkening back to Bishop’s FM rock blasting
youth before enlisting in Jodie Foster’s Army. Sure the
lyrics carry the venom of Sun-dried City griot Girls,
and hit on political pitfalls that date back a milennium
or two, but I could have owned this on 8-track back in
the day! So great to hear choruses that rise to the challenge
of a song, or a break that instrumentally articulates as
well as the biting bitter lyrices. Is that Eleanor Rigby
hanging out with “Priests and Poets?” Eyvind Kang guests,
his violin on “Eyes in the Back of Your Head” is vital as
El Masr’s guitar slithers alongside. How about the lenghty
instrumental meditation walking up to the “Slaughterhouse.”
That’s an old school rock move of anticipation. Great organ
touches to the tunes from Adham Zidan add to the mix, listen
to his cheery reverbed death march into “Places” unamed where
acts unseen take place! Bishop’s voice changes costume
frequently and interestingly from song to song, “Over Easy”
summons the slippery sardonic spittle and dry heave disgust
of Uncle Jim, and his amped-up jingoistic dingo delivery on
“Weasel Down” could fill a whole mall where a secret cordoned-off
military outpost hides between huts, pizza and sunglasses. I’m
almost tempted to call this a drone album, not for its mix of
music which ranges from operating ballads and surging rock,
but there’s at least a couple of references to those metallic
angels of death and spying, hovering over distant deserts and
America’s inner cities. The lp is a catchy concoction, especially
with Hemeda’s voice sounding like a lost member of Lush, sweeting
the bitter underlying flavors. At least one definition of Teslam,
the album’s title, refers to a notion of “may you be safe”

Thurston Hunger

Folk Music of The Sahel Vol 1: Niger [coll] – [Sublime Frequencies]

Thurston Hunger   2/16/2015   12-inch, International

What a devoted collection in all forms, written, visually (the
amazing photographs make a poor country look resplendent)
and of course the sound. Sometimes songs for a God are the
most beautiful aspects of mankind, and while not all the cuts
are celebrations of Islam, they are glorious. The liner notes are
a must read, as the threats on musicians from various sides
I think underscore Hisham Mayet’s appreciation for and curation
of what hopefully are not vanishing arts and artists. We’ve been
lucky to have Tuareg musicians not just find their way into our
library, but actually live into our studio. Sounds from them and
the Fulani, men singing deep in their throats, women soaring in
choirs of chants and one amazing piece of kids singing (do
not miss “Young Girl Night Village Dance”). Lots of strings,
dry as banjos or splashing with electric psych on the last
side with guitars, power drone horns, fleeting flutes. Rapturous
and all recorded in the past 10 years.
-Thurston Hunger

Dead Gum – “Gainer” – [Phase! Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/16/2015   12-inch, A Library

This 2014 lp almost had the dark, dirgy kind of vibe of 90’s
New Zealand, but the master masticator behind Dead Gum
is Panagiotis Spoulos (he also runs this label in Greece)
The guitar is often desolate, gritty and grimy but he works
in some drum/machines at times. Sounded like a solid band,
for a one-man concoction. On “Regain” his simple drums sound
like an abandoned warehouse, and a warning synth rides in to
blanket the track. His vocals are of the spoken, broken sort.
As he ekes out bleak thoughts. Even when he’s singing about
“loving you ever after” as he does on “Thread” it’s not hearts
and flowers, more about getting you into the ever-after state.
Often buzz and sparks fly as guitar and synth grind. He closes
with a drum machine set on renegade death dance, and again that
great guitar that sort of saws at your ears. Enjoy the waves
of pulsing bass on “Afraid of Heights” Good stuff, seems
Spoulos relaxes in songs where other bands would panic, maybe
that’s the new Grecian formula?

-Thurston Hunger

Talibam! – “Puff Up The Volume” – [Critical Heights]

humana   2/13/2015   12-inch, Hip Hop

Hip hop from Talibam! The lyrics are printed up on an insert if you want to follow along as these two fellows come up with an impressive array of rhymes. Impressive in that there are so many; not so impressive in content. The music itself is fairly upbeat and the voices are rather funny (especially the Donald Duck voice on A8), but all the sex talk makes me feel like I must be turning into a prude. The interludes are amusing (probably because the voices are supposed to be those of aging geezers), although the album ends with ambulance sirens as part of the “Golden-Ager Croak.”

Pop Ambient 2015 [coll] – [Kompakt Schallplatten]

humana   2/13/2015   A Library, CD

The lovely orchid on the CD cover is a hint to the beauty found on this year’s pop ambient songs. Never too much, but always just right, the electronics and synth instrumentation wash over and envelope listeners so all they have to do is let go and let the music bolster them. Pulses fade in and out, growing more intense and then receding, and it is like having your ears aurally massaged–utterly decadent.

Atkinson, Wendy – “Last Fret, The” – [Smarten Up! Records]

humana   2/12/2015   A Library, CD

What Wendy Atkinson does with a double bass, spoken word vocals, field recordings (including one song that is only a bucket and water-11-one that has paper-15-one that sounds like the seashore-5), and an ebow and toy piano is create a lovely sound collage. David Lester of Mecca Normal adds guitar on a few songs (4, 12, 15). There is an honesty and freshness to this music that is well worth a focused listen. This is Atkinson’s third solo bass album.

Stravinsky, Igor – “Essential Igor Stravinsky, The” – [Sony Classical]

humana   2/12/2015   A Library, CD

This 2-CD magnum opus is a fitting musical portrait of the works of Stravinsky, the Russian composer and conductor whose life and works influenced many musicians, including the guitarist of Phish who added to the excellent liner notes contained within this release. The Russian expatriate thought outside the box and exercised a lot of musical freedom, which is reflected in these compositions, which range from pieces requiring large orchestral backing to smaller arrangements to ragtime to a simple musical setting of “The Owl and the Pussycat” for his wife. Everyone can find something on here to please. Dip in and taste a piece of classical music history.