KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Cluster Lizard – “Prophecy” – [Prostir Records]

lexi glass   12/19/2018   A Library, CD

Cluster Lizard is the duo of Dmytro Fedorenko and Kateryna Zavoloka. Together, they run the outstanding Ukrainian electronic label Kvitnu, but issue their personal work, including this 2018 album, on their own outlet, Prostir. Fedorenko has described Kvitnu’s sound as “blasting experimental music… explosive, wild and rude, so as not to make it background music,” and that’s just what he and Zavoloka achieve on Prophecy, a maximalist, monstrous sci-fi space odyssey. Each of these six long-form tracks moves through moments of quiet beauty, building intensity, and massive surges of raw energy. The signature Kvitnu dark techno rhythms are here, but they are layered with deep, expansive drones, blistering solar-flare synths, and quaking beats. Beautiful, cosmic sounds at a scale that assures you of your total insignificance in the universe.

New Primals – “Wraith” – [Self-released]

atavist   12/18/2018   A Library, CD

This is mathy, angular, high-energy noise rock. Jangly guitar spars with a spazzed-out rhythm section. The vocals stay above the din by sort of shouting, but not screaming. The cd is comprised of six tracks, each coming in right around two minutes or less. It vaguely reminds me of things I was listening to in the early 2000s, like Drive Like Jehu, Decahedron, Dillinger Escape Plan (emphasis on vaguely). Vocals weirdly reminiscent of Polvo. A quick shot of adrenaline to liven up the set.

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – “Worst Utopia Ever” – [BUFMS]

atavist   12/18/2018   A Library, CD

This marks the 13th Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble addition to the KFJC library. The weirdness prevails unabated. Twittering, jittery samples. Shimmers, disassembled spoken audio. Coughing amidst an ambient room mic. Layers of spacey synths, tinny fuzz guitar. Track 2 leads off with “Red pubic hair”, so, that might be an FCC. Track 4 almost has a sort of gamelan element. Crashing percussion in upheaval. Irreverent, unstructured experimentalism abounds.

Sordahl, Shanna – “Radiate Don’t Fear The Quietus” – [Full Spectrum Records]

atavist   12/16/2018   A Library, Cassette

Oakland-based Shanna Sordahl blends cello with electronics to produce hypnotic soundscapes. Side 1 produces images of clouds moving at dawn, and the skitters and furtive scratches of cities below not yet awake. Sordahl builds her patterns patiently, coaxing a variety of resonances from the cello.  Each side of the cassette has two longer-format tracks with multiple layers and electronics and concludes with a shorter track in which Sordahl plays a solo cello composition. Side 2 begins with the track “Everyday”, and a more electronics-intensive approach. Articulated bumps and thumps tiptoe towards percussion, drones set the stage, and finally, a vocal element emerges. These are compositions for dreaming, but the dreamer may experience something between anxiety and calm, something restful yet on-edge, the liminal space between waking and sleeping.

Orcutt, Bill & Corsano, Chris – “Brace Up” – [Palilalia]

lexi glass   12/11/2018   12-inch, A Library

If you’ve ever listened to any of the work from these two titans of free music, then you already know to heed the title of this album. Drummer Chris Corsano and guitarist Bill Orcutt have been performing together as a duo for years (see here and here), but this 2018 LP is their first studio recording, and it’s just as explosive as you’d expect. Orcutt’s singular sound is on full display. His guitar bursts with in a frenzy of wild patterns, digs into tense repetitive grooves, or, in the album’s most powerful moments, soars in ecstatic anthems. Corsano’s rhythms are the thunder to Orcutt’s lightning. He gives the pieces a heavier rock sound, but without dragging them down – his sharp drumming drafts his counterpart at every hairpin turn. Two brilliant musicians with unreal chemistry – it doesn’t get any better than this.

Being – “Hydrocracker” – [Oxen]

Lord Gravestench   12/7/2018   A Library, Cassette

Active since around 2006, Being is the Harsh Noise project of Dayton, Ohio’s Luke Tandy. The artist’s biblical namesake may have been the wimpiest evangelist, but like just about everything else on LA’s Oxen label, this is texturally rich centi-pedal aural destruction, excellently recorded and produced, and a head-splitter of the first order. Hyperabstractive audio sewage mixed with rusty sawblades in an old clawfoot tub; the radio, perched precariously at the edge, tuned between stations. This material explores a wide range of pitches, to put it mildly. Mr. Tandy likes to ‘hold his high notes,’ if you take my meaning (particularly on that A side track, gee whiz). The two impressive performances on this 2018 tape will satisfy noise fiends and probably confuse everybody else. They may even exceed the comfort level of some who think, based on this review, that they will be able to deal. Side A is live recording, side B is studio, but they sound vice-versa. An admirably singleminded exercise in sonic obscenity, mining the same deep vein as neighboring Pittsburgh’s genre-defining master musicians of Macronympha. There are other artists to whom I could compare the sound, but…

BTW, hydrocracking is apparently a part of the petroleum refining process, “by which the hydrocarbon molecules of petroleum are broken into simpler molecules, as of gasoline or kerosene, by the addition of hydrogen under high pressure and in the presence of a catalyst.” So now you know.

Bang On a Can – “Industry” – [Sony Classical]

humana   12/7/2018   A Library, CD

Cellos, marimbas, woodblocks, oh my! Composers who are classically trained and yet value uptown as well as downtown elements, minimal jazz within structures that allow for musical freedoms galore. This is what Bang On a Can is all about. Julia Wolfe, Louis Andriessen, David Lang, and Michael Gordon are the composers featured on this unique CD that offers the ultimate challenging listen.

Pentagruel – “Nympidia The Court of Faerie” – [Carpe Diem Records]

Naysayer   12/5/2018   A Library, CD

Are Pentagruel playing something that could be coined Doom Classical? If it exists, this is a great example. We are talking about the effects of the St.Barthomew Day’s Massacre of 1572 where tens of thousands were slaughtered. We are talking faeryes and queens, magyck and melancholy. Wait, this could be a new KFJC t-shirt slogan: Faeries and Queens, Magyck and Melancholy. Pantagruel us citterns, gitterns, lutes, flutes and voice to tell the tales of the time, some dark, some darker, always a bit mystical and questionable. There will be dragons. And as the pictures show, there will be tights and velvet. Teasing aside, gorgeous insturmentation and vocalization take the listener back to a time that feels familiar. Superb and one of my favorite suprprises from this year.

Lester, Julius – “Dressed Like Freedom” – [BGP Records Ltd.]

Naysayer   12/5/2018   Blues, CD

Activist, poet, revolutionary blues singer, musicologist, friend of Fidel Castro, reporter of North Vietnam and so much more. Coming out of the coffee house folk scene of the late 1950’s, Lester’s trajectory followed that of the civil rights movements of many places during this time. Here is a selection of songs from the two albums he recorde. Just him and his guitar. A stunner of a vocalist with lyrics that do not hold back… these are in your face commentaries about the injustices of social conditions directed primarily toward African Americans. Songs of police attacks and profiling, economic disparity, work inequality… it could be today as much as the 1960’s and 70’s. Things don’t always change. Powerful and strong. “Stagolee” is a 13 minute epic equal in quality to Dylan'” and Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant”. Brilliant, sad, depressing stuff.

If the “N” word is considered an FCC then FCC on tracks 7,11,13 and 14.

Sheridan, Eric Shoutin’ & The Uptown Rhythm Kings – “Live Show” – [Big Mo Records]

Naysayer   12/5/2018   Blues, CD

Yowsa. Eric Shoutin’ Sheridan & The Uptown Rhythm Kings are recreating a type of blues band called Honkers or Shouters that came out of the 1940’s. Horn driven, big vocals, hep cat jive stylin’ but done without kitsch. This is serious fun, recorde live at Fleetwood. Sheridan’s vocals take hold and lead the audience into rhythm frenzy with songs about dumping the wife and opening up the back door, if you know what I mean. The band is tight, with horns taking charge. A blast of fun that I could hear on any number of shows. Have fun.