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Music Reviews

melt-banana / big d and the kids table split 7″ – [fork in hand]

Funkminsta Fulla   11/3/2004   7-inch

melt-banana / big d and the kids table split 7″ (33rpm) – [fork in hand records]

melt-banana – high octane Japanese noise-core cover of Toots and the Maytals’ “Monkey Man” complete with aye-yae-yae’s and yo-yo guitars segues to “Operation 3rd Attack”: wildlife noises then mad scratchin’ and finally full-on noise + feedback + drum bludgeoning, albeit brief.

big d et al. – this is ska-core from Boston, Mass. hard-core riffin’ w/ skankin’ horns. first track is a rockin’ cover of Ministry’s “Thieves” (despite the label’s reversed track ordering), tr2 is original “Apologies” – solid youthful angst w/ decidedly DC sensibility coupled with great primal tom playing finally capitulates w/ almost Morphine-esque closure.

mad hatter

[coll:] Voices In The Wilderness – [Tzadik]

Hunter Gatherer   11/2/2004   CD, Jazz

This double CD is part of 2003’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of Masada, the jazz quartet that John Zorn leads. Masada doesn’t play on this CD. Instead 24 songs from their song book are performed and produced by about 80 of Mr. Zorn’s musician friends.

The Masada Book is a collection of more than 200 songs written by Zorn with melodies and harmonies in an attempt to create a new type of Jewish music that is more than the traditional music with new arrangements. He wanted ‘a combination of Ornette Coleman and the Jewish scales.’ (As near as I can tell the Jewish’also called Spanish’scale is the same as a harmonic minor scale begining on the 5th tone.) The scale that the music is based on has that minor-third leap surrounded by half tones that gives the songs a definite ‘Middle east? or at least ‘non-Western? sound.

The arrangements and interpretations of the music are as varied as the musicians who perform on this release, ranging from straight forward acoustic jazz to rock-jazz fusion. The overall feeling is one of joyfulness and optimism. I felt that the vocals on some of the tracks didn’t really add anything to the songs, so I would recommend sticking to the instrumentals.
This release is a lot to absorb. Frankly, you’ll have to explore it for yourself. Here are a few suggestions to get started: CD1: 2-Kisofim, 8-Nevelah, 10-Tirzah; CD2: 4-Tannaim, 11-Tiferet, 12-Kedem.

–Hunter Gatherer

Existensminimum – “The On and On” – [Flora and Fauna]

Hunter Gatherer   11/2/2004   A Library, CD

The mastermind behind Existensminimum is Magnus Henriksson of Sweden. The word Existensminimum, literally subsistence level, is a Swedish social services term for the minimum amount of food or money necessary for a person or family.

But there is nothing minimal about the sound on this EP. Mr. Henriksson wrote and played most instruments on this CD with the help of a few musicians. But when playing live, 10 musicians are required to reproduce the sound.

Every song is so different from the others that I must describe them separately:

1. (5:01) – An uptempo, James Bond-y number in 5/4. It has a square 60’s lounge feel, and the singing is just short of over the top at times.

2. (3:59) – A great song with a driving synth groove and processed vocals.

3. (5:06) – Orchestral opening gives way to electronic drums. Sounds like Air or Zero 7 with much harder drums. Instrumental

4. (1:45) – Acoustic guitar soaking in reverb with vocals that start in falsetto.

5. (3:14) – A U2 parody? This is a big stadium rock-sounding thing featuring synthesizers.

–Hunter Gatherer

Odd Toot – “Mental Money” – [Hydrogen Dukebox Records]

Hunter Gatherer   10/27/2004   A Library, CD

Odd Toot – or The Odd Toot, he will respond to either – is Simon Smith from Edinburgh, Scottland. This CD, released in April 2000, is his second full-length effort.

The music on this CD calls on different styles and genres much like Aquaman calls on his various sea creature friends. There is D&B, funk bass, jazz chords, flute and trumpet solos, processed vocals, samples from scratchy old recordings. There are even samples of Chevy Chase in Caddyshack and one that I believe is from Sing Along With Mitch.

Mr. Smith is a producer, engineer, and session musician. This shows in the immaculately produced tracks on this CD.

This CD could be worked easily into sets containing all kinds of music, except possibly country and polka. It just goes to show what can be had at Amoeba Records for $1.99.

–Hunter Gatherer

Dosh – “Pure Trash” – [Anticon Records]

Hunter Gatherer   10/27/2004   A Library, CD

Dosh is Minneapolis-based drummer and keyboardist Martin Dosh. He is also associated with the bands Fog and Lateduster. This is his second full-length release. In his spare time he gives drumming lessons to kids.

This second full-length release is sort of a family affair. Most of the album was recorded and mixed while his wife was pregnant or had just given birth to a son Naoise (pronounced nee-sha). His wife and another son, Tadhg (pronounced tiger, without the er) can be heard speaking or singing on some of the tracks. The CD insert contains an illustration from Mrs. Dosh explaining each song.

For such an experimental CD it’s easy to listen to, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Although the drums sound very dirty or dusty the melodies and chords are beautiful and consonant, featuring his Fender Rhodes piano, an acoustic guitar, a saxophone, and what sound like sampled kids toys.

The songs have a layered feel. The first layer usually comes from his Akai Headrush pedal that has a 12-second sample memory. On top of that stacked up like spinning plates is any number of layers that could contain drumming, sounds from the innards of an open-faced Rhodes being played directly, samples, voices, etc. When it seems like it might all come crashing down, Dosh heads off in another direction.

–Hunter Gatherer

Breuker Kollektief, Willem “With Strings Attached” [bvhaast]

Thurston Hunger   10/26/2004   CD, Format, Jazz

To unfairly reduce the Kollektief, this is a group committed
to serious fun. The musicianship is top-notch, but the accent
probably falls on the fun. In selecting the six composers for
this collection, each one brought something unexpected if not
unaccepted to the concert hall. I think this attitude is the
key to Breuker, breaking the rules, breaking the walls down.
Typewriters turn up on at least two tracks, one of which you
have heard, even if you think not. George Gershwin shines in
the keys of Henk de Jonge, it seems so polished and stately
that it’s easy to forget his rebellious origins. Read the
liner notes for more info on that and the others here (as
well as the importance for lapsing copyrights). The one
composer still above ground is actually not just a composer
but a band member. Alfred Janson’s 20+ minute piece has some
sax daggers, trumpet wisteria that blossoms into fire, and
about 12:30 into it the strings fritter while Janson himself
straps on his accordion to carry out the vendetta with a
hint of a smoking scat-gun as well. Towards the end of that
piece, the players chase each other sonically (and probably
physically on stage to boot.) Tremendous, don’t miss the
return of the sinewy “Sensemaya” with snakey strings.
Hail to the Kollektief!

Volumen/No-Fi Soul Rebellion – “Lady Cop/Ch*rch” – [W?ntage Records] — 45 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   10/20/2004   7-inch, A Library

Two bands from Missoula, Montana release a split 7″ on a label based in Missoula, Montana. Coincidence? You decide.

Volumen take the A side with the song Lady Cop. It’s 3:42 of funky fun with fuzz guitar and synthesizer. For some reason I was reminded of Urge Overkill circa The Kids Are Insane. Let’s hope this isn’t the last we hear from Volumen for a while – according to their website one member just got married and another is expecting a baby. Let’s all hope for a long winter with lots of studio time.

No-Fi Soul Rebellion is essentially one guy, Mark Heimer, who wanted to perform in a band but didn’t want the hassle with bandmates. His solution? He invented the “Soul System,” a bass guitar with the strings removed and a mini-disc player embedded inside. On stage, his wife dances around wearing the Soul System while the husband karaokes to his own songs. They’re like a post-modern Partridge Family.

Anyway the B side, Ch*rch, is a more mechanical, synthesized funk than the A side. It’s the kind of music that Morris Day and Devo could have made if only they had put their petty jealousies aside. Oh, and NFSR lose points for rhyming “lurch” and “jerks” with “church.”

–Hunter Gatherer

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – “What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?” – [Daptone Records] — 45 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   10/20/2004   7-inch, Soul

Ms. Jones is not happy with the foreign and domestic policies of the current administration. So she rounded up the Dap Kings, house band for the Daptone label, and put her feelings into what she describes as an “anthem of discontent.”

The first song asks the musical question “What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?” It’s the sort of blistering retro-soul that we’ve come to expect from Ms. Jones & co. Sharon’s pissed, and as the song goes on you can feel the band absorbing her anger and reflecting it back to us as heat. Bush and Iraq aren’t mentioned explicitly, so this song will work just as well for the next country we invade.

The B side is a slow but impossibly funky version of the public domain song “This Land Is Your Land.” Woodie Guthrie is dancing in his grave somewhere. The song is great from the horn section’s sour Yankee Doodle opening to the fade out, but the highlight for me is the way the trumpet solo enters.

If you can listen to either song without shaking your ass you are probably Ralph Nader.

–Hunter Gatherer

Jolie Holland – “Catalpa” – [Anti- Records]

Hunter Gatherer   10/20/2004   A Library, CD

This is San Francisco-based Jolie Holland’s first solo release since co-founding and then leaving Be Good Tanyas, though it wasn’t originally intended to be. The tracks are mostly demo tapes that weren’t supposed to go “any further than my neighborhood” as she says. There is an unfinished feeling to many of the songs, and she coughs and laughs on some tracks. In another, you can hear an engineer dropping something (and he even gets a percussion credit). One song was recorded before it was finished, and Ms. Holland helpfully includes the extra lyrics of the finished version in her liner notes.

The result is that listening to this CD feels like crouching outside her window and eavesdropping as she sings her mysterious songs of loneliness and restlessness. She’s accompanied by her guitar and little else. At times it sounds a little like a field recording of old Appalachian folk (due to the way she sings and her picking style, I think) until you listen to the lyrics, consider the whole thing, and feel the influence of Woody Guthrie and Syd Barrett. The latter even gets a co-writing credit on The Littlest Birds.

There is something deeply American about the rootless feel of this release.

–Hunter Gatherer

Crimea, the – “Lottery Winners on Acid ” – [Double Dragon]

mitch   10/16/2004   A Library, CD

Staggering from the ashes of the CROCKETTS, Davey MacManus
(vocals/lyrics/guitar) and drummer Owen Hopkin re-invented
their music selves as THE CRIMEA in late 2002, tempering a bit
of their own chaos in and around Plaistow (which might be old
London???s answer to Hamburger Hill) & enlisting keyboardist
Andrew Stafford (dig the Roland VK-8 + XV-88) , bassist Joseph
Udwin & lead guitarist Andrew Norton (ex-DENZEL). MacManus,
a native of Dublin, plays occasional solo sets as KERNEL KROK;
his biopictorial lyrics read vivid in either setting, shambling to
a place called truth in a style somewhere between MUNGO JERRY
and the DEPARTURE LOUNGE. First three tracks here were all UK
singles ??? and they are terrific ??? rustic in all the right places and
seemingly fueled by sufficient libations???.last two tracks equally
good as drunken anthems/internal commentary/emotional palmistry
??????..Most excellent****
MITCH October 2004

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