Music Reviews

Sundur – “Somewhere There’s Music” – [Needle To the Groove]

MSTiZA   3/7/2023   A Library, CD

Remember trip hop? If you want to be revisited by the ghost of DJ Shadow, Healamonster & Tarsier, and Portishead, but need an update to the mix? This is for you. Somewhere There’s Music(2021) was recorded remotely during the pandemic. Sundur is a collaboration with vocalist Savannah Lancaster(LA) and DJ Platurn(Oakland) handling production. The album was received well by a few KCRW hosts which landed it in some top of 2021 playlists. It is still on mine. Like the label it’s released on, San Jose’s very own Needle to the Groove, this album is a sleeper, still falling under the radar yet deserving the attention of KFJC & beyond. The songs are filled with trip hop nostalgia. Lancaster‘s vocals introduce the album dripping a melodic syrupy lullaby[1], while her writing is personal, thoughtful, and sentimental throughout. Adam Theis, leader & founder of Jazz Mafia(Bay Area), contributes on horns on Heart of Stone[2], with broody vox a la Beth Gibbons(Portishead)[2,4].The title track- Somewhere There’s Music-sizzles with soft bop drums and breathy vocals that fill the air with enchantments of Billie Holiday and Max Roach. You can credit Max McVeety, of Crown City Rockers, on drums & Kicker Dixon on keys. Heady[4] drops a blues funk bassline nodding to Shuggie Otis’ Inspiration Information and we’re cruising down the El Camino in a 70’s Cadillac. Platurn, is a member of the Oakland Faders DJ crew. Platurn consistently delivers textured beats. Platurns ability to layer sounds with precision to create mystery and ambiance show his knowledge of the genre and his years in the music industry. Platurn understands when less is more, allowing the music to shift and breathe (Aging Soul, TIme is Now, Let Me Back In). Time is Now[7] is the one track that anchors itself in our times, speaking to the social climate of BLM that we faced in the early pandemic. Let Me Back In[10], featuring bassist Max Juarez, returns to the spooky and melancholic vibes. To the Top[11] slides in the whispery cries of strings courtesy of Max Juarez. The tracks are smartly arranged to create a complete listening experience when listened to in order while the individuality and intensity of each track stand on their own.

Instrumental: 6,11

FCC: 7,8

Seah – “Conduits of the Hydrosphere” – [Sominage Corporation]

kittywompus   3/7/2023   A Library

Dark ambient sound by artist Seah assembled from field recordings of worn hydrophones and cameras interacting with different bodies of water and instruments made by Tim Kaiser. Created as part of a 10 year Critical Feminist Posthumanist research project on “what it means to be a human, part of the hydrosphere, and a water body simultaneously.” (Bandcamp). The 5 track album contains 4 tracks ranging between 5 minute and 9 minute long noise and ambience, while the last track (and my favorite) Dinosaur piss runs through our veins runs almost 19 minutes. The perfect companion to your Thalassophobia, the soundtrack to your Devonian fantasies; let yourself drown in these ominous but undeniably magnetic sounds.

Movements Vol.8 [coll.] – [Tramp Records]

kittywompus   3/7/2023   A Library

This 8th volume collection of once rare and lesser known privately produced American Jazz, Funk, and Soul comes from German owned Tramp Records. Artists such as Papa Albert French, The Noteables, Ulysses Crockett, and Kay Dennis all make an appearance on this CD, with most tracks running 2-3 minutes. Perfect for Soul Patrol, or whenever really. Check Out: Funky Frog [T9] , Top Going Up, Bottom Going Down [T15] , Bony Bony [T3]

Yano, Akiko – “Ai Ga Nakucha Ne” – [Midi]

aarbor   3/7/2023   CD, International

This is the 2021 re-release of Akiko Yano’s 1982 album. She’s been recording since 1976 when her debut album Japanese Girl was a breakthrough hit. Her style was considered original and different because she was mischievous and could sing and improvise on keyboards at the same time. She married the producer of Japanese Girl, and later married Ryuichi Sakamoto. She toured with the Yellow Magic Orchestra, and also recorded with the UK rock band Japan. After separating from Sakamoto, she moved to New York in the ’90s, where she now gigs regularly and records with a range of musicians, mostly in the jazz field. Her sound on this album fuses rock and traditional Japanese folk, with some added synths. She and Sakamoto co-produced the album and both played synthesizers throughout. Akiko wrote the words and music for most of the songs. AArbor

Diode – “Diode” – [Under The Gun]

Thurston Hunger   3/5/2023   12-inch, A Library

This is Diode that sure gets current flowing quickly. A ’22 reissue of a 2020 release from an LA (well somewhere near Santa Clarita and Lancaster) band. Dig this 45 rpm record 12″ that burns up all resistors. Lead vox from Kiana obliquely tweaked my Su Tissue sensors. Her voice can pogo from a husky hurry to a fierce angular quick scream especially as she ends a word. Another key element is Theo’s fantastically filthy synth. Please enjoy that beautiful end of “Ugly.” Anyways your ears get pierced by Kiana, and then fuzzy encrusted by Theo, next Bill on guitar has martian-stacked guitar processed to wobble your earlobe around, and Vinny completes the force-piece, his sticks to your eardrums. Lyrics come and go (quick turn review on this from the web from hopefully the record has a sleeve with words and Kiana’s art work). “Eye Pop” is pretty loud and clear gouge to the male gaze, “If you see me walking around You best keep your eye on the ground, turn around and walk away” even when I’m not sure about the words “With my pelican (?!?), in my hand…I’m a man” there’s no mistaking the energy and ire. Feels like KFJC (and the country at large) needs a punk refresher these days. There are not enough asses in the world for this band to kick!
-Thurston Hunger

Visualize her voice via her art at : http://www.voodoovinylrecords.com/featured-artist.html

Nighttime – “Keeper Is The Heart” – [Ba Da Bing!]

Thurston Hunger   3/5/2023   A Library, CD

“Keeper of the Heart” offers swirling ballads. Despite some of the blustery scenarios and lyrics, there is warmth in this Nighttime. That flows from Eva Louise Goodman, her voice frequently multitracked. She is Nighttime, in song and various instrumentation, but a constellation of other musicians clusters around her. Notably Adam Lytle adds a very deft mellotron touch. Acoustic guitar anchors the songs, but light psych flute dapples certain tracks. Strings on “Spring” add that ol’ timey ache. Certain chord progressions are familiar, with a gentle righteous (non-denominational) resolve to them. In particular I’m thinking of “The Fool” and “The Sea.” On first listen, it was hard to shake the Nico from my headphones. That said she’s an Amercan gal (Hudson Valley, NY) raised on UK 60’s folk promises. For more recent references, I could hear this album woven in a set with Josephine Foster and Weyes Blood even some Paula Frazer (“Ring of Fire” offers a ghost western smoke lament). Almost an invocation to summon Espers’ “Dead Queen” but Goodman’s voice is more tied to the seasons and soil, less ethereal; Nighttime’s sound more burnished, less lysergic. Still a charm of a sonic locket.

-Thurston Hunger

Johnson, Max – “Hermit Music” – [Unbroken Sounds]

davidjames   3/5/2023   A Library

A most unusual recording. Hermit Music is virtuosic, expressive solo contrabass.   

Five contrasting rhythmic/harmonic schemes — both pizzicato and arco — reveal a highly malleable and wide-open creative space.  These are pensive, reflective moments; the master composer effectively draws us into a very personal world.  From the album notes, “This album represents who I am right now, and I am proud to share it with you”.  All of the tracks are of excellent quality. 

~David James

Oh Sees – “The Chapel SF 10.2.19” – [Silver Current]

carsonstreet   3/3/2023   12-inch, A Library

This is the Oh Sees at the peak of their prog obsession, super jammed out and totally dominating. “The Chapel, SF 10.2.19” is a 53 minute, beautifully recorded, hi-fidelity live explosion of kraut-gone-punk rock. There are two twelve inch vinyl discs but only three sides have music on them.

Psych-punk psychic warrior John Dwyer’s group Oh Sees (aka Thee Oh Sees, OCS, The Oh Sees, etc) have transformed from hushed druggy folk to groovy demonic pop chants to science fictional krautrock expanse and beyond. The Oh Sees have released twenty-six studio albums and two live albums. We have many Thee Oh Sees CDs & LPs in our library so check under “T” as well as “O” if you like this one.

James, Early – “Strange Time” – [Easy Eye Sound]

carsonstreet   3/3/2023   Blues, CD

Early James is a folk/blues musician based in Birmingham, Alabama. He attempts to spin what perhaps has not been spun before; a “fresh” take on folk, blues, jazz and country with dark, rusty, crooner stylings. Sometimes he sounds like he is channeling Bob Dylan but with a better voice than what is left of Dylan’s. We got a girl singer (Sierra Ferrell) popping in on track 6 (“Real Low Down Lonesome”) and she is very good. As Early points out it is a Strange Time To Be Alive.   

Himes, Matthew – “Hold Tight b/w My Ride” – [Home & Garden Music]

carsonstreet   3/3/2023   7-inch, A Library

Experimental loner folk from this mysterious Minnesotan, who writes intimate and melancholic tunes, that are nearly tone poems. Sometimes he trickles into expansive psychedelia. The lead single “Hold Tight” is a comforting promise of better times to come, one day at a time, while the flip side “My Ride” is a sort of pre-post mortem, speaking to lost friends and ashes unspread. Square record cut in MONO to clear polycarbonate with printed labels featuring hand-stamped pink ink detail. Made in a limited hand-numbered edition of 16 copies.

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