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Music Reviews

ElSaffar, Amir – “Crisis” – [Pi Recordings]

Cousin Mary   8/27/2015   CD, Jazz

ElSaffar performs trumpet, vocals and santur (Iranian hammered dulcimer) on this intersection of Middle Eastern and jazz. It is inspired by his experience as an eye witness to events in Lebanon and the Arab Spring. Gorgeous rich tones, fine musicianship, and the use of ethnic instruments like the oud (a type of lute) and the buzuq (long-necked lute) make this approachable yet original.

Grimace Federation – “Measure In Mixture, The” – [Rhymesayers Ent.]

niles   8/26/2015   12-inch, A Library

Philly psychsters Grimace Federation team up with Aesop Rock (of Hail Mary Malone and Rhymesayers) to rip bongs and blow minds on this clear 12″ LP (a debateable title, given that the whole shabang clocks in around 17 mins.) GF coaxes the spirit from your body with trancendental intrumentals on Side 1, both a nod to post-rockers and hip-hop heads alike. Peaks and troughs, mountains and valleys, ebbs and flows to create a sonic soundscape both dense and warm, like grandmas homemade bread when she forgot the yeast. Aesop takes over on Side 2 for some bass-heavy remixes. B1 is a remix of A2, chopping and screwing the melody almost past the edge, with nods to the early days of breakbeats in the rhytym. B2 provides another 808 driven, low-end dose of tripped out tenderness. 3WR: Psych Rap Mania

Bichkraft – “Mascot” – [Wharf Cat Records]

Morada   8/26/2015   A Library, CD

Various tracks include noisy rock with driving guitars, a fair amount of feedback, wah-wah, crunchy goodness, psyche, electronic clicking noises, the occasional stuck CD sound, and innocuous vocals (Track 8 not so innocuous), presumably in Ukrainian. What stood out for me was the drummer’s obsessive use of the ride cymbal, which at times felt relentless.

Negativland – “It’s All In Your Head” – [Seeland]

mouthbreather   8/26/2015   A Library, CD

It’s All In Your Head FM broadcasting warped sound collage into your brain thing. Offering a comparative religious studies course in a 2-disc set. Philosophy, fundamentalist extremism, intolerance, misinterpretation, hypocrisy, afterlife, evolution, science are all touched upon.
CD1 is hyper focuses on Christianity, ending with the shaving of a monkey (Wildlife Tonight). CD2 is weightier and Islam-centric, covering 9/11 (This Thing Is Not Good), a failed suicide bomber (Push The Button), and other fun.
Humorous, dark wit expressed in well timed samples. No FCC’s, safe for daytime
Best taken whole, with a BigGulp of Pepsi and the redacted Bible that’s provided. Go with peace, and the knowledge that everyone is wrong.

Pateras, Anthony – “Chasms” – [Sirr Records]

mouthbreather   8/26/2015   A Library, CD

Australian pianist and electroacoustic tinkerer gives us a scrambled instrumental performance with a prepared piano. Rapidly moving hands and sounds create a residue of acoustic skittering in the back, giving the foreground activity a field to play on. Marimba, cymbal, percussion, bell sounds all being emulated with Pateras’ piano. Creepy, stressful ghost music.
Last track fades off with two minutes left, very quiet.

Thomas Carnacki, Quattro, Jesse, Burson, Jesse, Brumit, Jon – “Far Voyage From a Placid Island” – [Alethiometer]

mouthbreather   8/26/2015   A Library, CD

Thomas Carnacki is a group of artists who collaborate under said name, and these other names may in fact be those offenders. Ambient sounds float, walk, slurp, boop, warble, click, splash, loop, skip, through an apocalyptic mental soundscape. Long tracks that ebb and flow, but are mostly nightmare fuel.
Singing at the end of track 1: Merle Haggard’s ‘He Walks with me (In the Garden).’
Oneiromantic Ambiguity Collective song used on track 4.
Hidden track of group singing ‘Swing Low.’

Los Cuchillos – “Isla Macabro” – [Green Cookie Records]

Cousin Mary   8/26/2015   A Library, CD

Excellent surf music from Costa Rica! Mostly in the horror genre, well played, some keyboard and electronic punk/heaviness thrown in. Some vocals and shouts and what sound like movie excerpts, mostly in Spanish, only track 4 has vocals through out. (Pronounce los coo-CHEE-yos, meaning “the knives”.)

39 Clocks – “Subnarcotic” – [Luxury Products]

Thurston Hunger   8/23/2015   12-inch, A Library

Killer 1982 desolate rock out of Germany, two guys Christian
Henjes and Jurgen Gleue at the dark, bleak core but with
mellotron, damp drump machines, some drunk chamber musicians
(on “Rainy Night Insanities”) and melodica and just a great
overall vibe. They out-Lou Reed on parts…that deadpan
delivery, and they even drop a “Louie Louie” psych bomb
in the mix. We have that on a Louie collection and many
other tracks on the De Stijl CD reissue, but this is vinyl
and just tremendous. Call it proto-punk, although it
came after the official break, it has a deeper rancxd
garage depth to it. On “Dom” they strike a minimal wave
pose and guitars slash on through, as the lyrics keep
pushing things to an edge. Kind of hypno ragna vibe
to the songs, repetition is no stranger to Louie fans
but this offers so much more. And even in the songs about
rot and insanities, they often find a kind pep, maybe
craziness a la Clockwork Orange-flavored Tang? Check out
the “Virtuous Girl” (with its mellotron swirls, and
happy to be hated by said V. Girl). This is one sharp
black leather jacket of a record…wear it out folks!
-Thurston Hunger
PS Jurgen evidently connects to the recent Cocoon reish
we had as well, but this towers over that.

Krog, Karin – “Don’t Just Sing : an Anthology 1963-1999” – [Light in the Attic]

Thurston Hunger   8/23/2015   12-inch, Jazz

Norweigian vocallete chameleon, filing this under jazz in part
because of the company she keeps, not just her husband John
Surman and Dexter Gordon (both showcased on tracks here)
but KFJC to date has Karin only on a couple comps, including
a duet with the amazing Archie Shepp. She closes this gorgeous
gatefold with a take on John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”
vocals way out front, pleading spiritually and a lurking
liturgical keyboard beneath it. Her voice on that both
strong and searching, almost an Abbey Lincoln delivery.
Contrast that with her Karin Carpenter-esque pleasance on
“Break of Day in Molde” or the experimental chop and drop
lead-off “As a Wife Has a Cow” (tying her roots to Arne
Nordheim.) In a way this album reminds me a little of
Susanna Wallumrod and her confusing (to me at least)
Rune Grammofon albums. When I think I know where the album
is going it usually tricks me, so even when I don’t connect
with a choice, I respect it. It is a very pristinely recorded
album, although not without its weird ways. The aforementioned
“Wife/Cow” (a Getrude Stein poem Karin wanted to tackle and
spackle with samples) also two with Surnam “Images in Glass”
and “Cloud Line Blue” (where at the end his soprano sax
solo spirals off at the end when it had been flying between
Karin’s slow softly song notes and a kind of parade of
Terry Riley keyboard ripples). Her taste in covers is
pretty righteous the Coltrane, Carla Bley, Herbie Hancock,
a pretty straight take on “Ode to Billie Joe” and a very
re-phrased Joni Mitchell’s “All I Want.” An interesting
blend of ECM meets Impulse with a hint of Actuel-ization!
-Thurston Hunger

Insect Ark – “Portal/Well” – [Autumnsongs Records]

humana   8/19/2015   A Library, CD

Dana Schechter (from Brooklyn, NY) is Insect Ark on this release. Self-described as experimental/doom/drone, Insect Ark’s sound is created by Schecter’s bass and other instruments. It sounds intense, and I believe Cy Thoth would give it his approval.

Gnom I Snegovik – “Last Snowman” – [Cubby Control]

humana   8/19/2015   A Library, CD

This release from the St. Petersburg band is even more experimental than usual–all except the last song reflects a compilation of tracks recorded by each band member individually. Then the tracks were mixed together, and the result is quite bizarre, especially the vocalizations at the beginnings of the songs. Drones, noise, strangeness. Right up KFJC’s alley.

Vorontsova, Julia – “Over” – [Self-release]

humana   8/19/2015   A Library, CD

This self-released album from St. Petersburg born and Los Angeles based Vorontsova is simply lovely. The music has a distinctly world folk flavor, as well as rock, and it’s not just because she sings the lyrics in such beautiful Russian. The instrumentation is wonderful, including guitar, strings, kalimba, and ocarina. Enjoy your sonic travels on this one.

Frahm, Nils – “Solo” – [Erased Tapes Records]

mouthbreather   8/19/2015   A Library, CD

Instrumental piano, contemplative, soothing, pounding keys, lush reverberation swirling around your head. Hours of meditative improvisation, pared down to these selections. Made on the Klavins M370, a GIANT piano.

Relaxing wake up or sleeping pill.

Nils’ breath can be heard throughout!

Santomieri-Farhadian Duo – “Red Blue” – [Self Release]

mouthbreather   8/19/2015   A Library, CD

A disjointed violin / guitar improv fight. Instrumental. Patterns present themselves through guitar while the violin strolls along. Free Jazzy. Jarring, but not terribly unpleasant by KFJC standards. Suitable for standalone play or layering, though tracks 2, 3, 7, and 8 begin with a beat structure. All tracks end smoothly, pausing for space. Sizzle string scratches, wavy wandering wonderment, doofy dumb doodling.