KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Bunuel – “Killers Like Us” – [Profound Lore]

Terra Incognita   5/21/2022   A Library, CD

This one’s a bruiser. You can see it coming at you in slow motion, but you hesitate anyway, stunned—and then you receive the energy of the impact. You feel the thudding in your head and hear an intermittent buzzing. The swelling begins, pounding and growing, turning an angry red. The red eventually cools to blue and yellowish green. A dull ache remains. You’re left feeling disconcerted, wondering, “What happens that a good man turns bad?”

“Killers Like Us” is Bunuel’s third and most recent album (2022). This is bass-heavy noise rock. Of the 10 tracks, about half have a slow tempo and are heavy and minimal at times (Tracks 1, 5, 7, 9, 10); in these songs, the instrumentation often frames the lyrics. The other tracks are more upbeat, have a fast tempo, or turn into driving rock rampages (Tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 8).

The bass—a menacing, throbbing, dirty beast—is so heavy that it creates a strong gravitational force that the other elements might frantically struggle to escape but are always drawn back to. Bass notes are drawn out and fuzzy but can unexpectedly transform into melodic riffs. The guitar is manifested as fluttery buzzing and distorted scratchy noodling but also develops into melodic, driving riffs on the fast tracks and always with feedback and effects. There aren’t any standard guitar solos—well, maybe one. The drums are versatile: from slow, minimal beats to driving punk rock beats and even some funky beats. They’re heavy on the kick and the snare at times; the fills aren’t over-the-top but creative and nicely placed. Sometimes percussive sounds like tinkling and crumpling are added or simply replace the drums. The lyrics are mostly spoken-yelled, sometimes obstinately dragged out, sometimes half sung in an emotionally drunk tone, sometimes steeped in reverb and effects. The vocals range from despondent speaking to fantastic, guitar-matched screeching and many variations of vocal sound in between. The additional female vocals (Track 4) are melodic and haunting but forceful—an interesting opposition to the raw sound. The lyrics are composed of poetic vignettes, stark imagery, and existential meanderings (see liner notes; FCCs on Tracks 2, 6, 7). Although not mentioned in the liner notes, sounds of synth and possibly field recordings are interjected.

Bunuel, named after the Spanish Surrealist film writer and director of the 20th century, comprises the Italian musician and composer Xabier Iriondo on guitars (also in Afterhours et al.), the Italian jazz bassist and composer Andrea Lombardini (also in the Framers et al.), the Italian percussionist and composer Franz Valente (also in Il Teatro Degli Orrori et al.), and the Bay Area’s Eugene S. Robinson on vocals (also in Oxbow, Whipping Boy, et al.). Track 4 includes additional vocals by the Polish-Bay Area artist Kasia Meow, aka Kasia Robinson (also in Maneki Nekro). A trans-Atlantic collaboration, this album was recorded in San Francisco and Italy, mixed and mastered in Italy, and released by Profound Lore Records out of Canada.

Dogsflesh – “Never Give In” – [Queer Pills Records]

whngr   5/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

Anarcho D-beat Punk

A thumb in the eye socket of Magaret Thatcher, two fingers up the arse of the royals, and a long middle one to the system, these modern times, and yer mum.
Good ol’ rebellion in the vein of Antisect or Icons of Filth with a bit of echo on the vox and a tiny gob of wanking guitar. 

Incepted in 1982 by Rob Moore and sometimes known as UK82, Dogsflesh would tour with GBH, Broken Bones, and The Exploited before hanging it up in 1985… and reforming twenty years later with the bulk of the original line-up. They have gone on to release several more albums since but this one is composed of their early works (82-84).

Oi! This slab is radio friendly, ya cunt! (no FCC’s)

Staubitz and Waterhouse – “Common Metals” – [music is the Worst]

whngr   5/19/2022   A Library, CD

Gentle whirs, clicks, and bumps.

Do you hear what I hear? I hear a pocket call from someone working on the cnc at the machine shop. Quiet, minimal, and reflective, these recordings allow one to write their own story though online references have stated that these mostly unprocessed recordings were made during the pandemic and are meant to convey the monotonous sounds of isolation.

Mary Staubitz (aka Donna Parker on her solo work and has collaborated with Jessica Rylan in Secret Diary and Daniel Paul Boucher in Golden Shores among others. Collaborating with her partner, Russ Waterhouse (ex Blues Control) from their home in Rhode Island.

There Were Wires – “Somnambulists” – [Tor Johnson Records / Iodine Records]

whngr   5/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

A sprawling and intense epic that weaves through the impassioned rage and confusion of youth, around quiet passages that required patience from an audience that was expecting only vehemence, gravid swells, terse punctuation, and arriving finally at an oblique and unexpected shore, a pensive cover of an independent juggernaut. Sonic Youth’s, Tunic (Song For Karen) will surely attract the attention of many listeners as an oddity or a trifle but considerable effort has been put in to this album (both in 2003 and in 2021) that proves this was no novelty. That this polished re-release, the first on vinyl, is a commendable and worthwhile effort to mitigate the failings of a label in financial ruin and one where considerable pains have been taken to inject new life into a recording that feels modern and relevant after 20 years relegated to a shelf. 

There are many paragraphs written and interviews available that explore the band, this release, Iodine’s role in its lack of promotion, and the thoughts and feelings surrounding them for those interested in the history of this primarily unsung project, but let it be said here, in this miserable volunteer’s review, that I might not have given this album a chance in 2003 if I had heard it. I might have said something like, “This new brand of hardcore is too high-minded and erudite for me, I appreciate passion and vision over virtuosity… etcetera”. But I was interested after two songs and hooked by the end of the album… after a single listen. No small feat, being as jaded as I am.

Many of the current DJs may pan side A, favoring the meandering and (slightly) more gentle B side but this is a fully realized album, slightly disparate from the projects of their ilk, with an ebb and flow, passages, and chapters that all work together to create a cohesive tale. A sonic novella and a beautiful, if somewhat dark, snapshot of a bygone era by four young men in their prime and the label that would not let their past transgressions lie.

Talbot Brothers of Bermuda, The – “Talbot Brothers of Bermuda, The” – [Maaula Records]

aarbor   5/18/2022   12-inch, International

The Talbot Brothers of Bermuda were a musical group based in Bermuda that were among the most popular calypso performers of the 1950s. The band was composed of brothers Archie (lead singer, acoustic guitar, harmonica), Austin (acoustic guitar, harmonica), Bryan, a.k.a. “Dick” (tipple, a large, 10-stringed ukulele), Ross, a.k.a. “Blackie” (electric guitar) and Roy Talbot (bass), and their cousin Cromwell “Mandy” Mandres (accordion). Their sound is a variation of Trinidadian calypso in a smooth melodic style influenced by popular music. They performed and recorded cover versions of calypso classics in addition to their own originals, and were a popular attraction in local hotels. This record was originally released in 1958. AArbor

Spence, Joseph – “Encore: Unheard Recordings of Bahamian Guitar and Singing” – [Smithsonian Folkways]

aarbor   5/18/2022   12-inch, International

Joseph Spence, who died in 1984, was a Bahamian guitarist and singer. He is well known for his vocalizations and humming while playing the guitar. A number of musicians, including Taj Mahal, the Grateful Dead, Ry Cooder, and Olu Dara,were influenced by and have recorded variations of his arrangements of gospel and Bahamian songs. Spence played calypso, blues, folk music and sacred songs. He played a steel-string acoustic guitar. Nearly all of his recorded songs have a guitar accompaniment in a drop D tuning. You’ll hear his magnificent voice (singing and kind of scat singing) moving bass lines, interior voices and a driving beat that he emphasized with foot tapping. He adds blues coloration and calypso rhythms to achieve a unique and easily identifiable sound. This album from 2021 is the latest recording to be released of his work, making a total of 4 released after his death. His sister Edith Pinder and her family also sing on some of the songs here. The recordings are from 1965 (the peak of his career) his only New York concert, at his cottage in Nassau, Bahamas, and at Peter Siegel’s (producer/recording engineer) apartment in Manhattan. AArbor

Karloff, Boris – “Reading Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories and Other Tales” – [Caedmon]

aarbor   5/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

Boris Karloff (whose real name was William Henry Pratt b. 1887), best known for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in the various early Frankenstein movies. Here he is the kindly British story reader of Rudyard Kipling’s well-known JUST SO STORIES. The Kipling stories here are How the Whale Got His Throat, How the Camel Got His Hump and How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin. The B side is an abridged version of Mowgli’s Brothers from THE JUNGLE BOOK. AArbor

Sumrra – “7 Visions” – [Clermont Music]

Cousin Mary   5/15/2022   12-inch, Jazz

This fine piano trio from Santiago de Campostela in Spain looks at stellar time from different viewpoints in this album. Very accessible but unusual. The piano lead sometimes seems more in line with classical etudes than jazz riffs. I was curious about the language on the cover, it appears to be Galician rather than Spanish or Portuguese. Manuel Gutierrez on piano, Xacobe Martinez Antelo on double bass, Lar Legido on drums.

Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra – “Night of The Purple Moon, The” – [Saturn Research]

Cousin Mary   5/15/2022   12-inch, Jazz

1970 recording where the Arkestra is down to no more than 4 members, with some solo keyboard pieces. The first track on each side is a bit more accessible than most Sun Ra, while the remaining tracks soon launch into outer space. Sun Ra plays the Moog synth and also the Rocksichord electric harpsichord. Just when I thought the KFJC library did not need another Sun Ra album, this comes along to prove me wrong. With John Gilmore, Danny Davis and Stafford James.

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