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Music Reviews

Fox, Larnie – “In The Cathedral of Airplanes” – [eh?]

lexi glass   10/30/2016   A Library, CD

Larnie Fox is a Bay Area painter, sculptor, and noisemaker who is involved in several local art and musical organizations; most recently, he served as director of Arts Benicia until his retirement in 2015. Fox is known for his installations – intricate kinetic sculptures constructed from recycled or natural materials that make sounds – such as a working bamboo airplane that flew across the Burning Man playa. This CD, inspired by two powerful dreams, is Fox’s first recording project, released in 2004 for free on his website and on eh? The tracks blend choral sounds with field recordings from Fox’s everyday life: falling water from his leaking roof (T2), the family dogs barking (T1), airplanes taking off from of the San Mateo airport (T7), the din of SF traffic (T5), dial tones and operator messages from an actual landline telephone (T6, a live piece with the SF Sinfonietta). Scot Jenerik and Aaron Ximm assisted with the recording. This work has a subtle way of drawing (but not demanding) your focus, to luring you into noticing the sounds as they come.

Sleep Chamber – “Sirkle Zero” – [Musica Maxima Magnetica]

lexi glass   10/30/2016   A Library

John Zewizz (nee McSweeney, heh) and his many collaborators are Sleep Chamber. Formed in the early 80s, they became the center of an American outpost of England’s hidden reverse based in, of all places, Boston. Over the decades, they developed a reputation for their use of extreme imagery and drug-fueled live performances. But like a lot of stuff from this era, when you peel away the leatherette, the music itself is surprisingly tame. On this 1990 record, there’s disturbed strings (T1, T12), thighbone horn and flute, satanic spellcasting vocals (T2, T5, T7, T8), plodding industrial beats (T3, T5, T6, T8, T11), and foggy atmospherics hanging over every track. This is more of an ambient sounding project than the band’s other releases, like the background music for a dungeon party. Thankfully nothing here is as cringey as, say, Catwoman. Take a look at Zewizz’s online presence, like his entertaining blog or the triumphant responses to each of his haters’ comments on his various Discogs pages, and maybe you’ll become convinced as I did that he possesses the exact strain of damaged madness that KFJC needs to protect, preserve, and champion.

Les Agamemnonz – “De a a Z” – [Green Cookie Records]

Cousin Mary   10/29/2016   A Library, CD

French 4-piece surf band that performs in togas with a nod to their namesake Agamemnon, known in Greek mythology as the commander of the united Greek army in the Trojan War. Excellent playing and composing includes spaghetti western, French pop, reggae, and twang. Of special interest is track 6, a cover of a French Renaissance piece by Lully: Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, LWV 43 – Marche Pour La Ceremonie Des Turcs.

First, David – “Same Animal, Different Cages: Etudes For Acoustic Guitar” – [Fabrica Records]

Cousin Mary   10/27/2016   12-inch, A Library

Solo guitar from David First known for his work with jazz pianist Cecil Taylor and the psych punk band Notekillers. Non-melodic, minimal, repetitious drones. Nothing fancy or virtuoso. Are they called etudes because they are a study for the bit that is being repeated? Reminiscent of Bill Orcutt in that it starts by sounding weird but quickly becomes endearing.

Bagman/Striations [coll] – [412 Recordings]

Rat King   10/26/2016   A Library, CD

Bagman is recognisably British, seemingly with a very traditionalist approach, and it’s not just the BBC samples. The first track is where this is most audible, and it is also apparent in his choice of subjects, who are all from the UK. Bagman’s vocal delivery is sometimes rather calm yet still impossible to understand, which is not something you hear much these days. He also employs the screechy ‘what did Mummy say?!’ falsetto at times. I do love a good traditional piece. The electronics range from buzzing to screeching to zaps. Sutcliffe Jugend, Whitehouse, etc.. ‘Derrick Bird’ in particular is really delightful. Pip pip.

Striations (Oakland) presents his first release, which has a stronger focus on sexuality and a particular emphasis on subjects who targeted women. Striations’ style is characterised by a sense of restraint (in its execution) and control, though it is not minimalistic. Those tracks which reference specific killers explore Jerome Brudos, a clothing fetishist obsessed with womens’ shoes and underwear, and Dennis Rader, loving father of two and the BTK Killer (that’d be ‘Bind, Torture, Kill’, kids). Rader’s track features his infamously familiar testimony, in which he calls his primary victims by their first names and describes their encounters with strikingly delicate language, while Brudos’ is a laundry list of acts and victims read by a woman. Electronics slither, rotate, screech and whine. Sometimes they sound distressed and suffering, at other times they approach music like an orchestra tuning. Always wait until after the deed is done.

Id The Poet – “We Work Epic” – [Tidepool Music]

Arcanum   10/26/2016   CD, Hip Hop

ID the Poet is a Hip Hop artist raised in LA who now lives in San Diego. iD does most of his own production using Ableton, Protools, and live instrumentation on a Macbook. This is the first of two EP’s. Tracks 4 and 5 were my stand out favorites with the last 30 seconds of track 5 going into a nice switch to take it out. Language on track 2 FCC warning BULLSH*T.

Stromboli – “Stromboli” – [Maple Death]

billiejoe   10/26/2016   A Library, Cassette

It’s not your grandma’s cooking. It’s Nico Pasquini from Italy. Lap steel guitar and analog organ. Sounds like electro industrial noise. Nice crunch with a side of beats. It’s really quiet so turn it up!
— Billie Joe Tolliver

Scum – “Upside Down” – [Oxen]

billiejoe   10/26/2016   A Library, Cassette

Scum (sou inomoto) is from Tokyo. It sounds like harsh noise and is a self-described cut up noise project. Scum has been making these audio assaults since 2010. “Unconscious disharmonic malfunction.” Side a is a healthy 17:15 and b is a decent 10:00 or so.
– Billie Joe Tolliver

Magill, Rob – “Owl and The Pussycat, The” – [Sun Ark]

Hemroid The Leader   10/25/2016   12-inch, Jazz

Out on Sun Ark, this is an old-fashioned jazz trip, two sidelong freakout dirges, spoken words, poetic transmission. With 50 releases out on his own Weird Cry, Rob Magill is a multi-instrumentalist, poet and painter living in Southern California.

Finished – “Cum Inside Me Bro” – [Load Records]

mouthbreather   10/25/2016   12-inch, A Library

Providence, RI sCUM suckers jamming blunt objects into your sensitive orifices. noise sounds: distorted, squeely vox, spastic guitar, solid rock-n-roll-around-in-the-sack drums.

sometimes punk rock, all times energetic sloppy mess. kind of like a punk tape playing in the wreckage of a flipped and totaled pickup truck driven by a twaked out dirtbag who may have hit a school bus…

Pets – “Get Turned On” – [Sacramento Records]

Naysayer   10/24/2016   12-inch, A Library

Life is good sometimes. Simple things: good cheese, the car starting right up, Pets. “Get Turned On” by Sacreamento’s Pets is a fuzzed out, pounding rock pleasure that even my partner likes, and she hates most music. Allison on vocals and guitars and Derek on vocals and bass have been doing this since 2003. This album has Lucy Giles (Dog Party) and Kepi Ghoulie joining in on drums on all the songs. Sorry for the comparisons but when I first heard this I thought, “oh my goodness, Jesus and Mary Chain and The Vaselines”. Wahoo! Fuzzy fuzzy guitars. Big guitars. Bass sometimes strummed. Echoey drums. Boom boom boom boom. Sometimes monotone vocals which switch back and forth between gal and guy. Lyrics about many things, often dark, but good, you know, like: I’m dead, You bow to my orders, You think it’s love but it’s hate under green eyes. Not so simple. A reference was made to them sounding like they came out of the Brill Building. I hear that. Dark pop rock you can trust. Soooo good.

Nice As Fuck – “Nice As Fuck” – [Loves Way]

humana   10/23/2016   12-inch, A Library

Too sweet? Maybe. But don’t we need a little sweetness? The hot pink vinyl is in sync with the mellow rock tunes written and sung by the all-girl band. Yes, they may be nice as fuck, and what of it? Doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile musicians. There’s bound to be something on here that will brighten up your sets. Proving yet again that you don’t have to be bitchy to get your point across. They had their debut at one of Bernie Sanders’ rallies, so they have that going for them, too.

Le Butcherettes – “A Raw Youth” – [Ipecac Recordings]

humana   10/23/2016   12-inch, A Library

This is the third album by this Mexican rock trio led by Teri Gender Bender, whose voice delivers the lyrics in an alternately mesmerizing and angry way, which is fitting for the subject of the songs. The inner sleeve has a printout of the lyrics, which cover somber topics such as selling girls into prostitution (among many others–read them)–all written by Teri. The music itself is fast-paced and catchy, enticing you into the song and then the lyrics shock you into awareness. Side A is a lot more upbeat musically, or maybe it’s just that it took me until Side B to realize the seriousness of the lyrics. Definitely worth listening to.

Chatham, Rhys – “Harmonie Du Soir” – [Northern Spy Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/20/2016   12-inch, A Library

2013 release from seminal No Wave string-thinker.
Like his contemporary Glenn Branca, Chatham was drawn
to the concert hall thrill and thrall of an orchestra
pit packed with electric guitarists. Minimalist music
for maximum force. We have many of his older releases.
He has evolved as a modern composer (trumpet apparently
was his primary calling card) but we find him here still
with that kind of post-rock, or punk-driven-drone vibe.

#1 The title piece launches with a minimal tick tock ear
sweep, one note electric pinging on a Dreyblatt-itude. Six
guitars, so his roots music doubling down on his early
Guitar Trio action. This song often feels like a post-rock
precision boogie suite but it finds its power 7:40 in with
definite No Wave homage crescendo chord strikes spaced out
then accelerating then bass beats alive and angling guitar
swipe-by’s create a nice Interference pattern.

#2 Almost feels like a bagpipe early, the alignment of player
(nearly 70 on this piece, an apparent soundtraco to a French
mountain town – Rhonabwy ) a dinosaur heavy stride follows for
nearly 12 minutes, then we encounter these arabesque woodwind
flourishes. They blow in with a hint of dilithium crystal method.
Add in minimalist call and response over orchestral drone, the
orchestra swells and rises while percussion marches back in. We
wind up in a shimmery pool of sustained sound. Helluva town.

#3 Bonus piece, a mere 10 minutes. Noisier and less stately than
the two vinyl cuts. Crushing blender of guitars like the original
version of “Drastic Classicism” updated with dizzy blurts of Chatham’s
trumpets sprinting through the center. Drummer Ryan Sawyer doesn’t
just keep time, he kicks it in the gut. Noise surf.

Hey he’s coming to town to cut it up with Bill Orcutt

-Thurston Hunger