KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Anderson/Pepper/Tamura/Petit – “Closed Encounters of the 4 Minds” – [Public Eyesore]

Max Level   6/14/2021   A Library, CD

One long improvisation, divided into 8 sections. Electric guitar, Korg MS2000, violin, saxophone, electronics, turntable, and other miscellaneous sounds. Fiery and unpredictable. On the loud side. Grabs your brain and demands your attention. Really far out and I love it. Recorded in one take at Martin Bisi’s legendary BC Studio in Brooklyn. Brought to us by the relentlessly interesting local label Public Eyesore.

Kevin Blechdom – “I Heart Presets” – [Tigerbeat6]

Max Level   6/14/2021   A Library, CD

2002 EP release from the nutty pop half of Blectum From Blechdom. The title seems to refer to the music being created with only the preset sounds of whichever synth gizmo KB was working with at the time. So it seems to have been cranked out fairly quickly without much work put into developing the sounds. But who cares, this EP is a lot of fun and the songs are enjoyable for sure. The first 4 songs zip by–Track 2 is only 47 seconds long–but Track 5 stretches out a bit at nearly 5 minutes long. It’s a cover of Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer” which doesn’t necessarily sound like it would be a good idea but it actually works in a poppy synth/sincere vocals kind of way.

Vortex Empath Xen / Moira Scar – “Between Worlds” – [Bat Noise]

whngr   6/11/2021   12-inch, A Library

Wan glam/death rock outta Oakland. A melancholic, driven, inspired, mournful, pitch-bent glimpse into a glimmer-realm of nocturnal isolation.

Bass guitar, drum machine, electric guitar, horn, synthesizer, a wide variety of vocalizations and reverb from this unique two-piece. Pop structure with powerful hooks that buried themselves in my brain, though grotesque and strange enough to cause me to recoil momentarily before curiosity would suck me in again. Like a Gustav Klimt if gold were sadness. Their live sets bring an added level of theater that deepens my enthusiasm, employing elaborate costumes that bolsters the psycho-necrotic fantasy. They appear to love a good vamp and the album that you now hold amounts to a ticket to the Theater of Magic. Other comparisons to Hesse’s Steppenwolf apply; Vortex Empath Xen is a project truly on the fringe, they have no peers, no scene, they appear conspicuously secluded. No censors or filters, we are offered a beautiful/horrific glimpse into a pristine world of pure creative expression. Albeit one that revolves around the profoundly bizarre. It is difficult to imagine Moira Scar caring much about what their critics, nor world thinks of them, they seem totally unencumbered by any judgement from any perspective of any plane or planet, they couldn’t make the albums they do if their drive wasn’t entirely detached from the derision that must surely befall their sweepingly unconventional vision. One that isn’t constrained by vocals that are in any semblance of pitch or mixes that adhere to traditionally established sensibilities and thus, you… have been warned. But you may find, as I have, that once you surmount your initial revulsion that you will find yourself returning to the well repeatedly to bask in the perturbed glow of unrecognized genius and to confirm that there is nothing else, in this world or the next, that will satisfy your disturbed proclivities quite like, V.E.X. / Moira Scar.

Dollhouse – “First Day of Spring, The” – [Toxic State]

whngr   6/11/2021   7-inch, A Library

Truly unhinged rock from members of Mommy, Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, L.O.T.I.O.N., Cheena, Pharmakon, et alia.

A Mental health reverie in four parts with hardcore punk elements. Both catchy and repulsive, this is my favorite kind of artistic expression, once the membrane of our awareness is penetrated we are drawn in but the closer we get to the source the more we want to pull away. Though no longer am I repelled. Instead I am driven like a moth to the flame of these beautiful and uncomfortable sounds from N.Y.C. with perhaps dire consequences. I just might be falling in love.

Toxic State 2021

Friendship – “Undercurrent” – [Southern Lord Recordings]

whngr   6/11/2021   12-inch, A Library

Harsh and abrasive Grindcore/Power Violence Sludge/Doom from Chiba, Japan.

Up and down-tempo spurts of horrific misery. Double bass, riffage, guttural bellows, deep down-tuned bends, blast beats, cacophony, torment, coursing tirades of anger.

Unadulterated, maladapted disquiet, a clarion call for the disenfranchised and dispossessed. An interesting niche for this part of the world as the sounds of the Bay Area peninsula and Claremont California continue to echo and reverberate around the globe, we are offered a glimpse into what sounds, to my (admittedly aged) ear, to be slightly retrospective. This is not untilled soil… but it is black, fertile, and awash in a perspective that could only originate in the land of the rising sun. This four-piece slipped off the radar in 2020 after abandoning their U.K. tour do to unforeseen plague circumstances. Perhaps in the future they will see fit to make a pilgrimage to our part of the world where they can pay homage to the dark anti-gods of Power Violence. All hail Spazz! All hail… Man Is The Bastard a.k.a. Charred Remains!

Evans, Jessie -Heartwave – [Fantomette]

Thee Opinataur   6/9/2021   A Library, CD

Jessie Evans has a history in the Bay Area, where she was part of the synth goth band Subtonix in the early 2000s. After relocating to Berlin for a few years, she now calls Brazil home. Released in 2019, this is her third solo album. It’s reflective of her experience in her new life in San Paolo. Her lyrical verse is the star of this album, a deep, introspective, and heartfelt message to the world with an empathy for people around her, and authentic selflessness. 

Synth-Pop beats are the dominant platform throughout most of this album, with Machines, Cello, flute, guitar subtly mixed in. Known by many for her Sax play, she is thoughtful and particular when and where to incorporate. When she does play it, it’s understated with a soulful, sexy, and dream-like affection. Her voice is a mature, vampy, sultry, smokey experience. It can be hypnotizing to get distracted at times listening to the addictive poppy beats, but do try and separate and just listen to the extraordinary straight to your heart and soul lyrics. 

The opening track ‘Chariot’ is a shimmering potent synth-pop frenzy with a catchy chorus, but listen closely to the lyrics ‘While your cities falling, your government is balling’ is just a taste of this prayer. 

I couldn’t help but smile listening to her love song duet with her little girl Elladina in ‘Hold Onto Me’ You can feel, hear and experience her deep affection for her with every word she sings. 

The more I paid attention to her heart, the more I fell in love with her. 

Thee Opinataur

Zimpala – Almaviva – [Lacerba]

Thee Opinataur   6/9/2021   A Library, CD

Released in 2001, Almaviva was the first album from the collective out of Bordeaux, France known as Zimpala. Directing and producing this group of DJs, electronic and acoustic musical artists, and vocalists is French DJ and producer DJ BNX. Is it downbeat, house minimal, broken beat, Nu Jazz, lounge electronic? Why yes, yes it is; all of that and then some others sprinkled in. This is a pretty interesting and cool collaboration mixing in acoustic as well as electric instruments with their house tunes.  

 Things kick off with ‘To the Bass’, it takes you to the beach with a chill, bossa lounge experience to start things off. However, from there, things pick up beat-wise for a while until ‘Come Back’ cools things down. From that point on it’s an exotic mix of world fusion dance, erotic soulful vocals, and chill club music with a perfect tune, ‘New Home‘ to close this album out. All in all a nice groovy lounge trip. 

Thee Opinataur

Lake Oliver,Tchicai John, Osgood Kresten, Westergaard Jonas -Lake | Tchicai | Osgood | Westergaard – [Passing Thru Records]

Thee Opinataur   6/9/2021   CD, Jazz

Oliver Lake [Black Artists Group, World Saxophone Quartet] has collaborated with many of the jazz greats of the past 4+ decades. Recorded in 2003 in Copenhagen, Oliver Lake, Alto Sax, completed a tour of Denmark with Danish tenor saxophonist John Tchicai, drummer Kresten Osgood and bassist Jonas Westergaard. They immediately went into the studio afterward, the product of which is this release on Lake’s Passin’ Thru record label. All four artists contributed compositions to this album. Heavily steeped in swing with a vast amount of improvisation, and a bit of poetry and chanting mixed in on tracks 5 & 7 respectively.

To the ears, this recording feels like you are actually situated in a small intimate live space, not a studio, which is a great treat for the listener. Lake and Tchicai take turns leading us on several journeys throughout with timely phrasing and great energy. The youngest of this group, Kresten Osgood to me is the unsung star, his understated timing, and control to keep this quartet loose, free, and yet playing together as one is a thing of beauty. 

This album is such an engaging and pleasant experience. Its warmth will tickle that sweet spot in your body and brain and yet not let you get too comfortable as it insists on opening your mind and spirit to new places not yet experienced. 

Thee Opinataur

Empool – "DOES Do Did Done" – [Feeding Tube Records]

aarbor   6/9/2021   12-inch, A Library

Empool is Ann Arbor’s Miller brothers: twins Laurence and Ben and older brother Roger (of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and Mission of Burma). Andre Cynkin plays guitar and farfisa on some tracks and Rick Scott plays acoustic piano on 1 track. These are recordings from 1977 and 1978 written by Laurence and released by Feeding Tube Records in 2018. The band improvised over pre-recorded background tapes which one of the brothers created using sound on sound analog recording equipment. Ben and Laurence evolved from Empool into members of Destroy All Monsters (another Ann Arbor band) in 1977. They have since recorded another album as Empool in recent years and are now looking for a label. Many thanks to Laurence Miller for donating this record to KFJC! AArbor

Meridian Brothers – "Salvadora Robot" – [Soundway Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/8/2021   CD, International

Yo por mi parte abrazo a nuestros señores robots. As long as Eblis Alvarez is involved in the not-so-artificial intel-y-gente. His crafty processed guitar feels like a Martian tickle to the ear. Weird enough for feet at the disco and in the mosh pit, splendid one-man mad scientist work, on several songs Eblis’ breaks into maniacal laughter in his Isaac Newton studio laboratory (a full band assembles for live gigs).

I like to pretend the first song is a reference to legendary SF band “The Residents” – it’s not, but both projects share a recognizable base masked behind strange sonic costumes. I think it’s his guitar mimicking a clarinet, but I don’t know. It’s all so lovingly tweaked. All songs have swift percolation, and party of percussion, while here Mr. Roboto es de Bogota, his tunes would put some carne on the skeleton bones in a Brazilian Carneval. The drums aren’t digital, but there are plenty of other synthetic waves at play. There’s more dancing arpeggios over staircases of sound than in an old Fred Astaire movie. There should be a full album cartoon video with Daffy Duck dance steps. Kinda wonder if Eblis’ Mom listened to
Raymond Scott during her pregnancy.

Enough reverb applied to make a surf fan weep, in Spanish. But they are tears of joy, this is one festive album and project. All tracks are fabuloso but “Un Príncipe Miserable y Malvado” wears the crown for me. Eblis is a master guitarist via computer wrangler, really look forward to seeing him play, maybe in KFJC’s pit in the future.

-Thurston Hunger

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