KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Clogs “Lullabye for Sue” [Brass Land]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The sum of the parts is greater than the whole : violin +
guitar + bassoon + percussion. Rachael Elliott’s bassoon
sounds like an old man lost and wandering a strange city
at night. Bryce Dressner, who rocks fairly straightforwardly
with The National, gets a chance to be far more interesting
here. Look what happens 3 1/2 minutes into the title track?
Percussionist Thomas Kozumplik is precise in his quests for
tinkering trinkets, he builds some of his own instruments.
Lastly Padma Newsome is the chief composer and the one
who united these four Yalies. His whistling violin on
“Turtle Soup” is as key an ingredient as its crushed ABC
radiocast excerpts. Tasty! Actually the album peaked a
little earlier for me, right there after tracks #2 and
#3. Keeping Dressner amped up I think is a good idea, his
playing gives this album more of a clamour than a chamber
state, recalls the promise of Tom Cora locking bridges
with the Ex! Many of the pieces take lengthy rests in
them, be forewarned. More singing from the winsome
Newsome should be encouraged. His soft soprano voice on
“Gentler We” plays nicely off the ominous music beneath.

Christus and the Cosmonaughts “The Four Whore’s Men” [Beta-Lactam Ring]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   10-inch, A Library, Format

Gear-head driven pagan prog rock to play Dungeons and
Dragons to, except it goes by too quickly. Scot Solida
is the lead sorcerer here, transmuting some personal
tragedy into music, by way of Midi cables and some at
times “overly clever” punning in lyrics. Their heart is
in the right place, but their head is at the forefront
enmeshed in a lot of synthesizers and some guitar
chain mail. They lose some hit points for drum machines
and faux British accents, but given some more time and
more faith in acoustic instruments, C & the C’s could
lead a revival of the nearly extinct brand of prog
rock Americana! A flesh drummer really would help
overcome the bred-in-captivity traps of trap-less
percussion. Does anyone remember Pestilence?

China – The Sonic Avant Garde – coll [Post-Concrete]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

While prison workers are making Britney Spears dolls,
look what the sneakier thought-criminals have been up
to in China. Making beautiful noise! The first CD here
is almost flawless. The ISMU aka Intelligent Shanghai
Mono University tracks in particular are just bursting
with creativity that would be promising whether they
came from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico or the most
populous country on the planet. Check out the sounds
bounced off a bamboo squeak on 1-4, or how time is
running out for techno on 1-6. While track 1-1 fires
a static charge through your ears, not all tracks are
as wonderfully annoying. Yuhui Jiang’s pieces wrap
their broken glass in smooth silk. “Minibus Pimps”
are Chinese cabbies who’ve been hanging out with the
Fall’s Mark E. Smith, or so it sounds. Other “found”
sounds are also remarkable, please enjoy snake-meat
and accordion on 1-16. Pei Zhou gets wires through
thick and skin. Really a lot going on here.

WARNING 1-7 too gorgeous for FCC as a sexbot rebels

Cheval de Frise “Fresques sur les parois secretes du crane” [Ruminance/Frenetic]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Rare is the guitar hero who first chooses an acoustic
over an electric with a phalanx of effects, that is
but one unique aspect of Cheval de Frise and nylon
stringleader Thomas Bonvalet. His counterpart is
drummer Vincent Beysselance who blends so well with
the complex melodies and runs of Bonvalet that he
can almost become lost in the shuffle of snare, the
flurry of toms and subtle heartbeats of hi-hat. He’s
a very good drummer, just paired w/ a flash guitarist.
On two tracks, (#6’s second half and all of #8) they
are joined by Simon Queheillard on a self-made
instrument that sounds like a tambura made of ice.
It shears across the top of the duo’s dense interplay.
The horse you cannot see, cannot be corralled; and
this band cannot be easily put in one pasture. Enjoy
the wild freedom of this exceptional duo.

Carnival Jump-Up – coll [Delos]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   CD, Format, International

A donation from KFJC’s Austin Space after he played the
rousing rendition of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” from
this on his 2nd annual special for that song. For some,
this may have a cruise ship capability to repel (the
fine liner notes describe how my favorite band, SILVER
STARS, on this actually re-formed “when most of the
members returned home from Disney World.” All of the
recordings here were done in Trinidad and Tobago, tho’
at times the massiveness of the ranks of steel drums
overwhelms so much it seems these were recorded in
roller rinks. In addition to the densely charted
steel drums, each track has relentless shimmying of
other percussion hustling underneath it all. The
necessary imperfections in the tuning of the drums,
is a nice twist to the mechanical precision of the
strange arrangements to these party marches.

Schumacher, Michael J. “Room Pieces” [Xi Records]

cujo   1/24/2005   A Library, CD

2 CDs’ worth of computer-controlled experimental noises with minimal organic sampling from NYC sound manipulator Michael Schumacher. Clear influences of La Monte Young, Robert Ashley, and Babbitt, not so clear philosophical influences of Cage (check out the line-up of pretentious liner notes, including some by “Blue” Gene Tyranny).
CD 1:
Room Piece XI (75:43): The 11th happening of his sound installation originally intended for a sound-proof room in his NYC gallery with 16-track full-surround sound. A quiet drone pervades. Random types of sounds/instruments interrupt at random sets of intervals based on a random assignment of the prime numbers 13, 17, 23, 29, 37, and 43. The interruptions can be extremely harsh and disturbing and sometimes they come into phase with each other for added pleasure.
CD 2:
Piece in 3 Parts (20:03): Sounds of regurgitated violin sampling, then sounds of regurgitated gong sampling, then back to sounds of violin.
Still (17:07): Quiet drone featuring some cello scrapings.
Untitled (18:13): Sine wave madness!! Loud and almost momentous, sounds unlike the rest of the offerings. For the easiest introduction to the music, start with this track.
Still (17:29): No sampling here, just straight computer clicks and clangs. Very sparse.
-Cujo in Jul 2004

Lutoslawski, Witold “Works for Orchestra, etc…” [EMI]

cujo   1/24/2005   A Library, CD

Fantastic 2-CD set of major and minor works from Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994, Vee-told Loo-toe-swov-ski). There’s the wicked and intense Preludes and Fugue for 13 strings (major work) for starters (play the Preludes by themselves if you have to, but not the Fugue by itself). Throw in his entire work for voice from the late 50s early 60s (the Michaux poemes, the 5 Songs for soprano, etc – minor works), and then the finish disc 2 with the awesome string quartet and the dazzling cello concerto. The concerto is the best work featuring cello since the Elgar concerto. This music is dark, very intense, and engaging. Witold practically defines ‘postwar?.
-Cujo in Nov 2004

Various – “Soloists Ensemble of the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra” [coll] – [Melodiya]

cujo   1/24/2005   A Library, CD

Pop quiz, hot shot: Name any Russian composer of the post-Shostakovich generation. KFJC gives you a small sampling of what happened. These 4 offerings are all written for the ‘Pierrot? ensemble popularized by Stravinsky: just 16ish different instruments.
Edison Denisov (dead 1996): SUN OF THE INCAS (20:04): 3 laments for soprano, each preceded by short energetic drum and bell-filled preludes. Exceedingly sad.
Alfred Schnittke (dead 2001): THREE MADRIGALS (7:44): Very subtle, unflashy Schnittke. Soprano sings modern German poetry in French, then German, then in English. Not as sad as the Denisov. Dag.
Sofia Gubaidulina (alive): CONCORDANZA (11:36): Sofia will likely emerge as 20th century’s greatest female composer. This is a rumbling and introspective instrumental.
Tigran Mansurian (alive): TOVEM (9:10): Armenian witchcraft. Some jazzy brass, much more upbeat.
-Cujo in Nov 2004

Gramme – ?Pre-release? – [Output Recordings]

Hunter Gatherer   1/23/2005   A Library, CD

This EP was recorded in 1997, not released until 1999, and then re-released in 2004. So the name ‘Pre-release? is supposed to be a joke, I guess. A previous 7″ and this EP appear to be the entire oeuvre of Gramme.

Gramme is Luke Hannam, who plays drums and bass, and Sam Lynham, who provides vocals – and also plays bass. After listening to this release several times, ‘I’m pretty sure that Sam is a woman. Output Recordings head Trevor Jackson also lent a hand.

This is some danceable, bass-heavy (natch), punk funk with a DIY, home-recorded feel. It reminds me a lot of the !!! that we added around the middle of 2004. Stand out tracks are 4 and 5. Enjoy and don’t hurt yourself while listening.

Instrumentals: 1,3

–Hunter Gatherer

Sixtoo – ?Body Ache Summer (EP)? – [Ninja Tune] – (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   1/23/2005   10-inch, A Library

Sixtoo is the prolific Canadian producer Robert Squire. We have a few of his many other releases filed under both Hip Hop and A Library. This is his third release on Ninja Tune.

This EP continues the dark, downtempo direction of his previous full-length Chewing On Glass and Other Miracle Cures sampling live musicians instead of records, laying down fat, slow beats, and permeating each track with a sense of dread.

Though only three tracks are listed on the back, there are six ‘songs? total.

A1: The first side is instrumental and made up of two main parts with a ‘bonus beat? coda that would be ideal to talk over on a quick break. The first part has a repeated theme, and the second part long string chords throb over the beat. This is somewhere between modern classical and hip hop.

B1: A quick song with loud drums and some synth sounds.

B2: Two songs from Chewing on Glass? separated by silence and remixed by Anticon artist alias featuring Sixtoo on the mic and some doodle-y harpsichord(!).

Language: B2 (Funny Sticks):?’shoved it up his ass? though it is unclear what is being shoved.

Rhetorical question: Why isn’t Michael Tilson Thomas working with new artists like Sixtoo who are putting out interesting music instead of Phil Lesh and Wynton Marsalis?

–Hunter Gatherer

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