KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Konagaya, Jun – “Memento Mori” – [Steinklang]

lexi glass   11/19/2019   12-inch, A Library

Bleak midwinter carols, arriving just in time to make the season grim.

Jun Konagaya is the artist behind GRIM, the magnificent Japanese death industrial project active since the mid 1980s, just after the disbanding of Jun’s first group, the power electronics duo White Hospital. In the early 2010s, Jun began releasing work under his own name, bringing out more of the melodic and folk elements found in his earlier, noisier work. Memento Mori is his third release in this vein, with beautiful organ and piano melodies, mournful choruses, tribal rhythms, and peals from bell towers. Within the solemn beauty are unexpected touches: the unusual, nearly hip-hop beats and rhythmic warrior’s cries of “Run Deer” (T3), the blips and bobs of electronic chaos on “Time of Ruin” (T2), and the ecstatic trance of “White Nacht” (T7). It all comes together to make a completely original sound, and leaves no doubt in my mind that 30 years on, Jun is making some of the most compelling work of his career.

“…And The Loser Still Is…/Untitled” [coll] – Roedel Records

Lord Gravestench   11/19/2019   7-inch, A Library

Agathocles – Belgian crustgrind institution active since 1987. Body odour, dumb politics, and a respectable level of sonic brutality. Think Extreme Noise Terror or Phobia. Bellowed and gargled lyrics cannot be made out. First track has some voices speaking a European language, maybe Flemish, possibly newscasters. This side was originally titled simply ‘…And The Loser Is…’ (not ‘…Still Is…’) so I don’t know if this is a bootleg or a reissue or what.

MPG – Pomona CA grind/fastcore founded in 2004. High-pitched androgynous vocals a la Antichrist Demoncore. More samples than the Agathocles side, including Magic Johnson talking about his AIDS on the first track. Lyrics are once again unintelligible. 

Photo finish split on red seven inch vinyl, with Agathocles as the winner by a greasy hair. Originally released in 2015.

Barnson, Matthew – “Vanitas” – [Innova Recordings]

Cousin Mary   11/19/2019   A Library, CD

Three pieces composed by Matthew Barnson. The first one for orchestra is mysterious and based on grief – it reminds me a bit of George Crumb’s Black Angels. The other two compositions are for smaller ensembles and are provocative and at times whimsical. Fine examples of original takes on modern classical music.

Sutekh Hexen – ‘Sutekh Hexen’ – [Cyclic Law]

Lord Gravestench   11/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

A fixture of the Bay Area experimental scene, Sutekh Hexen has purveyed solid ‘black noise’ fare for close to a decade, typically compressing ragged metal riffs and murky ambience into challenging walls-of-sound. 2019 saw the release of their self-titled 4th full-length, brought to you by the German-based label that has recently functioned as the de facto foster home for Cold Meat Industry artists orphaned by that Swedish label’s sudden dissolution six years ago. I’m not sure that S.H. is the first American band to release on Cyclic Law, but nonetheless, this double LP constitutes a significant moment in the transatlantic partnership that has long defined the industrial noise scene. S.H. had displayed an affinity for the Euro milieu even before their collaboration with Sweden’s Trepaneringsritualen, which was performed live deep in the woodlands of the Pacific Northwest at 2013’s Stella Natura festival. The group’s fusion of black metal guitar stylings and nonlinear experimental soundscapes is very compatible with the aesthetic sensibilities of our friends on the old continent (MZ.412 and Paysage D’Hiver come to mind). 

On this magnum opus, for which recording first commenced way back in 2012, S.H. seem to have both tightened up their compositions and broadened their palette, perhaps owing to a new and expanded lineup. For whatever reason, longtime member A.C. Way (AKA Thoabath) is no longer involved; here core members Demian Johnston (Great Falls, solo as BLSPHM) and Kevin Gan Yuen (Circle of Eyes, Disgust) collected contributions from Nathaniel Ritter (Burial Hex), Bay Area art-drone luminary Jim Haynes, Jim Kaiser (AKA Petit Mal, and sadly R.I.P. as of 2017), Mackenzie Chami (Terror Cell Unit, Disgust, solo as Koufar and Crown of Cerberus), Jason ‘VENIEN’ Ventura (founder of seminal Bay Area black metal group Von), Ryan Jobes (Grave Babies), James Martinez (provenance unknown), and Vial Magazine editor Patricia Cram. There will be a quiz after this review, so try and keep up.

A Frankensteinian agglomeration of black metal, dark ambient, deep drone, harsh noise, death industrial, electroacoustic, field recordings, and ritual music, ‘Sutekh Hexen’ is a vicious beast indeed, reflecting its diverse contributors’ varied approach to soundcraft. At times brooding and at times extremely violent, it impressively realises the promise of earlier releases and brings the project to a new artistic peak, one with perhaps a wider appeal. Be ye headbanger, noise junkie, Mills College avant-gardist, or dark ambient creeper, Lord Gravestench advises that you drink deeply of this silver-hued nightmare.

Eldanka – “Rusty Treasures” – [Self Release]

Cousin Mary   11/13/2019   A Library, CD

Excellent instrumental work from this 4-piece ensemble from Toholampi, Finland (about 500 kilometers north of Helsinki). All original compositions by lead guitarist Mika Jamsa. Twang, surf, jazz influences with some extra instruments and electronics that add interesting touches to the guitars, bass and drums. Something a little different to play in your surf set.

Troller – “Graphic” – [HoloDeck]

lexi glass   11/13/2019   12-inch, A Library

Troller is the Austin, TX darkwave trio of Adam Jones, Justin Star-Goers and Amber Star-Goers; this 2016 release on HoloDeck (Jones’ label) is their second album. While not quite the pain factory that the album’s art might suggest, Graphic aches with dark, synth-laden pop made for a dungeon dancefloor – from the bleak title track (T2), to the forlorn ballad “Not Here” (T3), the grind of “Nothing” (T7), the heavier “Sundowner” (T9), and the final sinister slowjam “Torch” (T10) – all driven by Amber Star-Goers’ powerful, agonized vocals. Between the beats are shorter instrumental interludes (T1, T4, T7, T8), and the Lynchian dream pop of “Storm Maker” (T5). All tracks can easily writhe their way into a set alongside recent additions like Boy Harsher, Kaelan Mikla, Lebanon Hanover, and other dealers in beautiful misery.

GRANDEGGIO! TEMA DAL FILOM GILI 45 ANCORA UNA VOLTA

aarbor   11/13/2019   A Library

This is the soundtrack from the 2007 film Gili 45 ancora una volta (Gillian who is 45 once again). In fact this soundtrack is a compilation of other (mostly Italian) soundtracks. There’s something everyone can enjoy here. AArbor

LOS GUAPOS SENSIBLES – Bigaton/Decimas Del Desamor

aarbor   11/13/2019   A Library

On delicately pink vinyl, this is the 3rd release from Los Guapos Sensibles which came out last Valentines Day. A side: Bigoton was written by Alfredo Varela which features some vocoder vocals. On the B side: Decimas del Desamor (tenths of Heartbreak) was written by Ryan Drury (who is also part of Los Discos Duro and Los Jalogüines) and M. Juarez. This is danceable Cumbia music. AArbor

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