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Music Reviews

Gnod – “Infinity Machines” – [Rocket Recordings]

abacus   3/30/2016   A Library, CD

big players in the euro psychedelic scene, playing Eindhoven in june and have in the past as well. their catalog spans a universe of sound and this release packs surprises for sure. i expected heavy psych, though was pleasantly mistaken: most of this massive album simmers in leftfield electronics riding astral planes into realms of cosmic jazz and tribal psychedelia; deep dank beats set in around Collateral, whisking the fragrant smoke around the ether. your vision narrows, dilating in the off color light that pops and pulsats in the acid techno wash, churning bass heavy cogs stacking into a slow building dronescape of Downtime, beckoning you to the next disc. finally the mammoth psych juggernauts deliver with White Privileged Wank marching to the front line electrocution squad, Spinal Fluid goes all spacey again before Breaking the Hex really blasts off (the only true heavy psych track in the mix), a quick burst before the title track returns to mellow grooves, a long reggae trip that slowly stumbles off the deep end. excellent psychedelic music that brings 70s tripouts into modern electronics. a long drawn out comeup with only a brief peak before the comedown. sssiiiiccckkk

Isbin, Gilbert & Walton, Scott – “Recall” – [Pfmentum]

billiejoe   3/30/2016   CD, Jazz

Recorded in Sebastopol. Walton on piano and Isbin on guitar. Short stringy songs featuring an eight course lute. It gets freer towards the end of the album such as the grabby screechy bass on track 7. One track is named Terpsichore which is the muse of dance from Greek mythology. Some of it is rather classical and chambery.
— Billie Joe Tolliver

Koloff, Janet – “Yoga: Exercise In Living” – [Capitol Records]

billiejoe   3/30/2016   12-inch, A Library

Two side longs of yoga instruction from 1970 with illustrative booklet. Dry vocals leading the listener through poses and quasi-meditations with midwestern accented sanskrit. (Makes me wonder how my California accented sanskrit sounds.) Janet is from Chicago, is a singer, and taught yoga in Mill Valley for years.
Refreshing to hear a teacher say that “perfection in postures” isn’t important in old school yoga. Side 1 and 3 are on one disc and 2 and 4 are on the other. Gems: “Peace is your birthright” and chanting of om nama shivaya which means “I honor your/my/the inner light.”
— Billie Joe Tolliver

Gel Set – “Human Salad” – [Moniker Records]

Kai Sync   3/30/2016   12-inch, A Library


Gel Set, released 2015, is a one-woman band by Laura Callier ((currently residing in Chicago), a quirky electronica artist specializing in airy seduction vocals, hazy synths, lo-fi drum machines and unconventional pop lyrics. Human Salad is her debut album and the music has unexpected dub ambiance across various electronica styles, from minimal and industrial techno to lo-fi electro-clash house music to ambient experimentation. The vocals are sometimes seductive hissing or spooky performance art with clever simpleton lyrics. It sounds like a debut album with the style not yet fully developed, even so, a naive approach to developing tracks makes it interesting listening as well as gives the album production an eccentric and gritty flavor. Oddly enough many of these tracks could even be used in a DJ show, like a 4am in the morning surprise track.

Frost, Ben – “Variant” – [bedroom community]

Kai Sync   3/30/2016   12-inch, A Library


Ben Frost is an Australian composer/producer that currently resides in Iceland. His works are minimalistic and experimental tracks with influences from classical minimalism all the way to punk and black metal. This EP is a set of remixes for the Bedroom Community label done by other producers based on his material from the 2014 Aurora album. The Evian Christ remix of Venter is experimental and melodic dubstep, Dutch E Germ’s remix of the same track is more industrial film music with unexpected dynamic changes. The HTRK remix of Venter has a minimalistic slow techno flavor similar to Vatican Shadow. Kangding Ray’s remix of No Sorrowing is a German style techno remix. Finally Nolan mixed by Regis has an industrial doomsday techno flavor. Each track has a very unique style which shows the strength of using producers with different backgrounds to remix the original material.

Dicksson, G. / Blodvite [coll] – [Jartecknet]

abacus   3/29/2016   12-inch, A Library

split LP from the very excellent Jartecknet label out of Sweden, more minimalist grainy grit of different textures: Gustaf Dicksson (aka Blod) layers tape scrambled Swedish archive recordings into various shapes-competing informational confusion concluded by a children’s nursery rhyme, the second piece a layered folk song for solo voice cut-collaged into an entrancing jumble. Blodvite (aka Viktor Ottosson) executes a delicate/desolate drone dirge, a ghostly buzz and ring in the back of your ear that subsides into nautical hypnosis that shifts, sways, and falters to the end of the sea. limited to 120 copies this label doesn’t get out much with their distribution, but is well worth the search.

Neon Twin – “Neon Twin” – [Zesde Kolonne]

Max Level   3/29/2016   12-inch, A Library

Appealing noisy pop quartet from the Netherlands. Nothing fancy here; pretty much your basic two guitars/bass/drums/vocals lineup. Occasional extra coloration in the form of keyboards, vibes, and violin. The first track is reminiscent of classic shoegaze–mid-tempo and dense throughout, with floaty vocals semi-buried in the mix. It’s probably my favorite track. The other tracks feature dynamic arrangements with some twists and turns to keep things interesting. And overall the songs are pleasantly melodic. You really can’t go wrong with any of the tracks.

Mud Pie Sun – “New Swing Mood Things/ Two At Noon” – [Revolving Bell]

humana   3/27/2016   A Library, CD

This is a re-release of a 1992 cassette from these two Philadelphia friends who teamed up for some DIY bedroom music inspired by the success of the New Zealand DIY scene. They wrote the music together and Pitchrella wrote the lyrics, which are clearly printed on the insert. The music itself features guitars from both musicians, along with deep vocals. It’s like a blend of folk pop rock. The band went on hiatus when Quinn moved to San Francisco, but he returned and they picked up where they left off. Sometimes this sometimes sounds like an old western soundtrack, and at other times it just sounds rather melancholy and brooding.

Inflatable Best Friend – “Ectoplasmic Puke Wizard” – [Feeding Tube Records]

humana   3/27/2016   A Library, CD

I almost declined this one based on the album title, which would have been a huge mistake. The cover, which is actually kind of fascinating, shows the puke wizard. The music, with lyrics printed on the insert, is rather fascinating. It’s a mix of punk, metal, and a bit of psych. It’s accessible in a way. The lyrics are interesting to contemplate. This Kalamazoo band ain’t bad.

N. Lannon – “Failing Inside” – [Badman Recording Co.]

humana   3/27/2016   A Library, CD

Out of the doldrums of the land of the sick I am pulled by this remarkable third solo release of Lannon, which is full of upbeat, often rollicking electronics accompanied by Lannon’s echoey vocals. This is somewhat folksy pop electronics, all written and performed by Lannon himself. The lyrics are engaging, as are the bubbly rhythms. Think Apartment Life with Mith Lemay. It’s a slice of heaven as far as I’m concerned.

Billy Bao – “Lagos Sessions” – [Munster Records]

Louie Caliente   3/27/2016   12-inch, A Library

Recorded in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, this album attempts to capture the sights, sounds, and smells of the most populous city in Africa. From the writhing mass of humans and metal and concrete and heat comes a unique experience, known as “Lagos Wall of Sound”. Through four different “chapters”, each 15 minutes long, visitors are exposed to different aspects of this complex city.

Crunchy blasts of broken beats and fuzzed out bass mix with field recordings of malls, tribal chants, and traffic jams. Industrial soundscapes, spoken word poems, reverb-drenched head-slamming punk, a socio-political history of the city, and soulful Afro-Jazz, all processed and tweaked with varying levels of electronic fuckery.

Side A is the most varied and the most noisy, like a sightseeing bus tour crashing through the center of the city.

Side B starts with heavy punk rock featuring vocals by Nigerian artist Mendo. This is followed by a spoken word history of Lagos, and finally by a jazzy electronic piece with English lyrics from Russo-Nigerian singer Diana Bada.

Side C has the beautiful bass-heavy Afro-Jazz which trails off into peaceful electronics and a local news broadcast.

Side D contains glitchy hip-hop beats alongside the freestyle rap of Nigerian artist Ambido before sliding back into some more garage sludge punk.

The album includes some great visual imagery of the city, as well as extensive liner notes. The notes include descriptions of the sounds and artists heard in each chapter, a detailed history of the city, and a review of the album from Sola Olorunyomi, a musician and professor University of Ibadan, which puts this review to shame.

Detroit, Eddy – “Shock-a-lock-a-lickum” – [Assophon]

Louie Caliente   3/27/2016   12-inch, A Library

Eddy Detroit is a acid-fried satanist biker punk turned free-love hippy bongo player extraordinaire.

Originally from (you guessed it) Detroit, Eddy was on the periphery of the MC5/White Panther scene before moving to Los Angeles in the 70s and getting caught up in the avant-garde punk movement there. In the 80s he moved to Phoenix, where he playing with local bands like the Meat Puppets and becoming an unofficial member of the Sun City Girls.

Recorded between 1979 and 2010, “Shock-A-Lock-A-Lickum” has a more refined sound than the hyper-psychedelic free-folk “Immortal Gods”. The songs are a bit more relaxed and the recording quality is improved. It sounds less like a drug-fueled satanic orgy, and more like a drug-fueled satanic backyard picnic jamboree.

The lyrics are front-and-center in most tracks, almost ballad-like, telling stories of hobos and tramps, and their filthy affairs with the occult, drugs, and general rough-housing. Eddy’s vocals and bongos are accompanied by a wide array of artists playing an equally wide variety of instruments, including mandolin, violin, cello, auto harp, and saw (which I thought was a theremin till I read the credits). The folksy arrangements and sinister lyrics are an unlikely pair, leaving you cheerful and comfortable with the fact that you’ll be spending eternity in hell, where there will be no butter.

Arohi Ensemble – “Ahimsa, Love Is The Weapon of The Brave” – [Innova Recordings]

billiejoe   3/23/2016   CD, International

World music with a yogic message. Musicians from India, Venezuela, and Los Angeles. Arohi means ascending melody. Ahimsa is a sanskrit word meaning non-violence and is in many ancient yogic texts. It is meant to be a philosophy for how to live your life, not just describe an isolated instance. It’s also intended to apply to oneself, meaning don’t do harm to yourself, or, love yourself. There are vocals, sitar, and rad fast drumming. Really lovely groovy dance music.
— Billie Joe Tolliver

Freeman, James – “Echoes of Nature” – [Edgetone Records]

billiejoe   3/23/2016   A Library, CD

San Francisco artist with pop and classical training makes ambient soundscapes. This sound is really pleasant. Crickets and strings and synth and winds and birds and outer space. The last very long track features crashing waves which gives it a melancholy but pleasant vibe.
— Billie Joe Tolliver

Flanigan, Lesley – “Hedera” – [Physical Editions]

billiejoe   3/23/2016   A Library, CD

New York based experimental sound artist. She alters her equipment to make new instruments from speakers and mics and wires. To me this makes her work both physical and sonic. Her art has been exhibited in fine art museums around the world. Sounds like mellow spacey beats.
— Billie Joe Tolliver

Helm – “Olympic Mess” – [Pan]

billiejoe   3/23/2016   A Library, CD

Luke Younger from London founder of the label Alter. Very prolific artist and has done a ton of collaborations. He was also in Birds of Delay and Alien Zoner Ape. It sounds like ambient industrial noise. Strawberry chapstick has an eerie monologue about his history with music.
— Billie Joe Tolliver

Freeman, James – “Echoes of Nature II” – [Edgetone Records]

Hemroid The Leader   3/23/2016   A Library, CD

Improvisers on strings, reeds, and synth-percussion paint an abstract foreground over naturalistic sound beds. “Frog Pond” “Owls” “Stream” and “Jungle Flute” are 4 impressionistic tracks between 9 and twenty minutes.
Recalls field recordings, Lou Harrison, Loop 2.3.4, Cut Hands.

Murray, Kevin Quartet – “Primary Sound” – [Subruckus Collective]

Hemroid The Leader   3/23/2016   CD, Jazz

Four tunes recorded straight to tape from local quartet. Led by 16-year old drummer and Subruckus Collective label head Kevin Murray. It’s 1 of 40 copies.
Opening tune by Murray, 2 & 4 are improvisations, 3 is an Ayler tune.
The recording is straight-to-tape, very casual in feel, like a jam session or live set. Murray played with William Parker at school and it inspired him. The band feels for a way out but never gets too far gone or even particularly skronky, rhythm keeps it moving. Very enjoyable.