A pretty cool time capsule here of mid-nineties math rock, reminiscent of Drive Like Jehu and Roadside Monument, though maybe a little more angular and weird. The recording is characterized by a lo-fi four-track-style quality. The vocals sound normal at 45rpm, but the instruments sound sped up during side A (“Attn: Span”) and the first part of side B (“Least”). Side B mellows out midway through before building intensity. It’s too bad about the F-bomb on this second track, as it has some nice dynamic shifts.
Orcutt, known to KFJC for his experimental/free guitar work and, more recently, his collaborations with Chris Corsano, explores two new electronic compositions on this album. Research leads to, among other things, a Github repo, as the sounds were created using “a web audio library that uses method chaining and CSS-style selectors to simplify creating, configuring and connecting audio nodes in the browser.” Side A is comprised of contemplative tones; patterns repeat meditatively, shifting over time. The computer sounds generated by Orcutt’s Cracked app have an organ-like quality on this piece. Side B, in contrast, is frenetic, bubbling computer tones. Patterns persist, replicate, evolve, adapt while maintaining an over-arching, consistent identity. Imagine a visualization of an ant colony or a traffic pattern, how the pixels might jostle around on the screen, and then you associated sounds with those myriad pixels—Side B might be what you’d hear.
Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt are still going strong after 25 years of partnership, and they’re celebrating the milestone with a new album. This work follows the blueprint of many previous Matmos releases: the duo choose a theme and a limited range of sounds, and build the album within those constraints, often finding creative and surprising solutions to the strict boundaries they’ve set for themselves. This time, they’ve crafted an album entirely from the sounds of plastic objects. Throughout Plastic Anniversary, there’s hints of past works – the latex squeaks from Supreme Balloon or the fleshy-tones of A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure – in the yelps from plastic tubing and squeals of synthetic fat and silicone breast implants. One element that sets this album apart for me is its powerful percussion. Members of a Montana high school drumline whale on trash bins in “Fanfare for Polyethylene Waste Containers” (T8) and solo on a “Thermoplastic Riot Shield” (T7, with added police state synths from Professor Cantaloupe). I outgrew my teenage crush on Deerhoof, but never my respect for their staggering drummer, Greg Saunier. Here, he contributes to several tracks, including the standout “The Collapse of the Fourth Kingdom” (T10), and the opener “Breaking Bread”(T1), where the trio plays the smashed fragments of old Bread LPs (a live performance of this track at the 2017 WFMU Record Fair caused a hilarious uproar from attendees). I could go on – the final track is synthetic soundscape of a teeming forest! (T11) – as this album overflows with unlikely sounds and ideas. Dead serious about their craft but never taking themselves too seriously, Matmos consistently rise far above the great garbage gyre that is the current musical landscape. Here’s to many more!
Track one is comprised of some basic beat machine grooves with stream-of-consciousness hip hop lyrics. Primitive 8-bit electronics round out the mix. We have a couple records by the artist, Subtitle, in the Hip Hop library. Next, John Wiese drops in with with a corrupted dissolution of sound, all jagged edges and jarring transitions. This artist should be well-known to some KFJC DJs at this point. On side B, Adlib provides abstract noise washes with a drum & bass element that staggers in and out of the composition. The end result makes for a fairly compelling track. The Cherry Point closes out the 7″ with a thick mass of machine noise reminiscent of an idling HVAC system in a parking garage. 1982 forever, indeed, but this track only lasts for a minute and a half.
Uniform is an industrial duo from New York City. Brooklyn hipster trashlord Ben Greenberg (of Archaeopteryx, Coca Leaf, Little Women, The Fugue, Zs, house engineer/producer for Sacred Bones Records, oh yeah and involved in some band called Bloody Panda…) and Michael Berdan (various cooler bands KFJC doesn’t have) collaborate on paranoiac central nervous system attacks with a debt to classics like Suicide and Iugula Thor, and perhaps specifically to The Guilt Of…, the industrial project of EyeHateGod’s Mike Williams. This 2014 45RPM EP was their first release. One track per side.
Greenberg’s insistent drum machines, shuddering synth textures, and fuzzed-out guitar merge with Berdon’s frantic, hardcore-inspired vocal delivery. Insanity-inducing New York despair. The rent may have gone up but the drugs have gotten more expensive too!
Active since 2002, KFJC live mic vets Bone Awl are definitely one of the best Black Metal groups to come out of California. The duo of He Who Crushes Teeth (briefly in Morbosidad) and He Who Gnashes Teeth (see my review of his solo project Amofas from our add last year) derive their names from possible English translations of Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr, the appellations of the goats who drive the chariot of my lord and master Odin. These guys create killer raw BM in the tradition of Ildjarn, adding a distinctive touch of broken-sounding D-Beat punk to the proceedings, not unlike Hellhammer.
This 2018 45RPM 12” is a reissue of a 2007 single-sided demo cassette. Klaxon Records, which released both versions, is run by one of the two Bone Awl dudes. Ultra-primitive, dirty, necro shit. Short songs except for A1 which is a repetitive but oddly hypnotic instrumental. B-side amps up the aggression somewhat. Fuck yeah is all else I have to say.
Razavi Sarvestani was a master singer and interpreter of Iranian music. Darioush Talaei (more commonly spelled Dariush Talai) is an Iranian tar player of international status. This recording of vocal radifs of Iranian music is volume one of an extensive survey of radifs. From my research I have found 18 volumes on this label. A radif “is a collection of many old melodic figures preserved through many generations by oral tradition. It organizes the melodies in a number of different tonal spaces called Dastgah. The traditional music of Iran is based on the radif, which is a collection of old melodies that have been handed down by the masters to the students through the generations. Over time, each master’s own interpretation has shaped and added new melodies to this collection, which may bear the master’s name. The preservation of these melodies greatly depended on each successive generation’s memory and mastery, since the interpretive origin of this music was expressed only through the oral tradition. To truly learn and absorb the essence of the radif, many years of repetition and practice are required. A master of the Radif must internalize the Radif so completely to be able to perform any part of it at any given time.” And that’s just the beginning of the explanation. The radifs are so culturally important that UNESCO has declared them part of the UNESCO Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. This recording of 22 radifs, possibly in a specific order, start off with a spoken word, possibly the title of the radif, and then the interpretation. It is just Sarvestani singing and Talai playing the tar. I have limited knowledge with this type of music but what I hear is thrilling, mesmerizing and wonderful. The interplay between the two is flawless, each complimenting and guiding the other. I am taken by this so much, especially with my beginners knowledge of it’s significance. We can always learn.
Raw, brutal “war jazz for the emotionally underdeveloped” (if you’re reading this, that’s you!) courtesy of Limbs Bin, the Western Mass.-based project of Josh Landes. Here, he’s joined by drummers Erik Brown and David Russell and Wyatt Howland (aka Skin Graft) on electronics. Two ~10 minute tracks recorded at a black site in Cleveland. Heavy darkness rings with a mechanical din and the vibrations of wires from electrodes applied to the skin. A cue – rapid clicks of drumsticks – signals the delivery of high-voltage shock. It hits in a blinding surge of skullbashing drums and howling screams, before dying out. The treatment repeats, over and over again, until everything is obliterated. What a glorious time to be free!
RP Boo (Kavain Space) is one of the founders of Chicago footwork, an amazing musical style that is as interesting to watch as it is to listen to. “I’ll Tell You What” is RP Boo’s third official album. It is an intense, ear shatteringly jarring exploration of sound and vocal samples broken up and down into their most basic parts, repeated continuously to proceed with the footwork exploration of rhythm anti-rhythm. If you could take sound, beats and vocals and throw them against glass then watch them all shatter, then listen to what was left…this might begin to give an idea of what is happening. Limited vocal samples tell the stories of cultural war, antagonism, belonging, love, success. It seems simple but could be missed if not listened to. The beats start and stop, propel, crunch, echo, bounce… all within seconds at times. Then there is space, emptiness while one minimal beat or vocal phrase is repeated. And repeated. And repeated. This is such a unique, challenging sound, and it’s been around for over 20 years. Experimental hip hop? Avant garde electronic dance music? It’s much more than all of that. Thank the spirits there are RP Boo’s in this world.
These two (Diana Oropeza: Voice/Words and TJ Thompson: Drums/FX/Electronics) are my new favorite band. I had the pleasure to see them touring with Surfer Rosa’s project Sea Moss when they came through town. Diana lays down slick poetics, echoed and eerie, while TJ keeps the beat and layers in sounds. It is a raw admonishment to the world, the system, and everyone.
FCCs tracks: 1, 5
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