Jeppe Hasseriis is the composer and producer of this ultimate trip of an album (yes, Sal9000, this one’s for you!). Aptly referred to as darksynth, outer-spacey electro ambience, this release is perfect for creating a Dr. Who type of mood. “Escape” (track 6) is my go-to, but almost any of these will do the trick.
This is a treasure trove of folk rock inspired by Joni Mitchell’s 1970 album “Ladies of the Canyon,” so of course I love it. These ladies celebrated the rebirth of folk rock and hail from the canyons of California. Some have religious overtones because they were sung at church picnics; the first features a gorgeous voice of a 19-year-old and lasts for less than a minute; another (track 4) comes from singer who went on to perform in Disney films such as “Pocahontas”; all of them are unique tributes to a genre that will not be forgotten thanks to the researchers who curated this compilation. Great liner notes, too.
Crusty fucking Grindcore from San Jose, featuring drummer Chad Gailey (in between his tenures in Bruxers and Necrot, later also Vastum and Mortuous) and guitarist Colin Tarvin (Mortuous). This is balls-to-the-wall grind in the mold of early Earache releases, extremely well-recorded. The first two tracks are originals, and the next two are covers of Napalm Death and Repulsion, respectively, although the Repulsion cover (t.4, of ‘Eaten Alive’) is retitled as ‘Napalm Deceiver’; perhaps this is in reference to how Napalm Death stole the riff from Repulsion’s ‘Stench of Burning Death’ for their own ‘Deceiver’? Anyhow, the whole thing clocks in at six minutes which is just fine. Killer grind, recommended if you like having your head beaten against a brick wall.
Here is a winning surf music album from the beyond compare St. Petersburg, Russia band Messer Chups. “Gitaracula” Oleg plays with a complex, wet, surfy, energetic twang. The beautiful “Zombierella” Svetlana on bass and Eugene on drums are an outstanding rhythm section. Mostly original compositions but with a couple of soundtrack references (track 7 and 11) and even a quote of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp Minor (track 4). Outstanding!!
This is an homage to the great electric guitarists of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Represented are surf, blues, psych and exotica as played in fine Bill Frisell style. Purists might complain that the tracks are not like the originals while Frisell fans might find it a bit light weight, but I think it is just right.
The Releasing Eskimo was a Swedish noise label active out of Gothenburg from ’94-’98, specializing in low-budget releases. This triple-7” compilation from the label’s final year is an excellent sampler of the three most esteemed noise/industrial scenes: the USA, Europe, and Japan.
Disc I: The Europe Disc
Side A: Manchester, UK’s The Grey Wolves, a manifestation of the cultural terror network. This anti-establishment, left-wing duo whipped the hypocritical punks into a fine froth for more than a decade by pretending to be hardcore fascists. A foundational group in death industrial and one of the greatest industrial noise projects of all time. Their track is bleak and 2-dimensional, a maximum confrontation with the experience of death by sarin gas (for real, not like those falsified attacks in Syria). “The Future Belongs To Those Of Us Still Willing To Get Our Hands Dirty.”
Side B: Gothenburg’s own No Festival of Light. Satanist death industrial from the man who also brought you Demogorgon and P/D(B). One of the great unsung talents of Swedish industrial noise constructionism. His track is a maddening dialogue loop picking up atmospheric toilet static over time in a resonant crypt through some kind of effect. All together now, kids: *who* will control the entire world?
Disc II: The USA Disc
Side A: Macronympha. Pittsburgh, PA harsh noise innovators and annihilators. Perhaps more rhythmic than their usual fare. Many layers of pulsing bursts of migraine pain tones interspersed with glitchy stammering.
Side B: Hands To. Who is this? I suppose it’s Jeph Jerman, based these days in Tucson, AZ. Anyway this is the least interesting track on the compilation, slipping immediately out of one’s memory as soon as it ends. Low key petri dish bubbling; and yet I feel there may be a genius touch here that I am simply missing.
Disc III: The Japan Disc
Side A: Merzbow. The Tokyo harsh noise master should require no introduction. High pitched as fuck at the start, wheeking into synth/effect textures. He never disappoints with the range of sounds he is capable of producing with his e.b.t.-kitchen-sink approach.
Side B: C.C.C.C., AKA Cosmic Coincidence Control Center, from Yokohama. This was the duo of Hiroshi Hasegawa and his now ex-wife, former bondage porn star Mayuko Hino; perhaps assisted by others. The group is still active nowadays, roster different with the exception of Hasegawa. Divorce hurts noise projects. This vintage gold is solid, wall-thick cosmic power drone that will blow your grandmother right out the fucking window, you stupid idiot.
Comes packaged in a plastic bag with individual sleeves for each 7”. They look like Hitler Youth on the cover but I think they might actually just be Boy Scouts. Go figure.
Irma Thomas, a Grammy-Award winning contemporary of Aretha Franklin and Etta James who never experienced their level of commercial success, teamed up with Dan Penn, one of the great Southern soul songwriters for this album. And so, I was excited to listen to it. Unfortunately, although her vocals are certainly great, Thomas just doesn’t seem to connect to many of the songs on this album. I felt like I had walked into the lobby bar of a really nice hotel and was listening to the house band and singer. There’s a laid-back modern soul feel that gets too relaxed at times and not fiery often enough. My favorite track is #4, “If You Want It, Come and Get It”, although many others are solid. Overall good, just not as big or great in this effort from 2000 as her prior and later work.
Judy Henske is a singer of blues, folk, country and jazz. Her career was full of connections with big names: she opened for Lenny Bruce, was a regular on tv’s Hootenanny, performed on the Judy Garland show but turned down a chance to be a regular, shared the stage with Woody Allen and is the original influence for Annie Hall, oh and so much more. These two albums from 1963 and 1964 capture a highlight of her career when she tore up the nightclub and coffee house scene coast to coast. She has a brash, boisterous, powerful voice which really work the lyrics and create a tone for the selections of blues and murder ballads. She never holds back with her emotion. Powerful stuff. What is really exciting, though, is her chat before the songs. These are recorded live and the audience loves her audacious, snarky, suggestive intros to the songs. Henske is like a Lenny Bruce crooner, irreverent and stunning, not afraid to go there. A brilliant collection of an amazing singer songwriter. All Hail the other Judy.
The fourth Mattin addition to the KFJC library, and the third Songbook (we’ve also acquired nos. 4 & 5). Songbook 6 is comprised of 6 6 minute songs, so that’s promising. Oh nice, and recorded on June 6, 2016—I appreciate the attention to detail. Thurston Hunger and Lexi Glass wrote great reviews on the previous songbooks, so seek those out as well. Like previous songbooks, Mattin writes lyrics, which then become the basis for the composition. As he writes in the liner notes: “For making this record the lyrics were used as score; before recording each track, we discussed together how to interpret them.” Which is an interesting idea, given how disjointed the end result is. The consensus of the musicians clearly orients around compositional anarchy.
The record begins with slightly disorienting synths repeating like a malfunction, adding oddly auto-detuned vocals (all lyrics are in German), and then a variety of other sounds and instrumentation come in at various points. Track two: Mattin yells in German, drums keep time intermittently, and a guitar chimes in. Track three: quiet and minimal with the occasional loud moment. Then, spazzy synths, delirious vocals.
Side two has some sounds that are more “songish” than side one, but of course that’s not saying much. Track four launches with a jazzy feel. Psych-ish drums thrum along, and concludes with a hyperspace synth freakout and whispering. Probably my favorite track on the record. Track five has some driving drums. Some cool sub-bass tones are thrown in to track 6, but honestly I was starting to check out at this point. The weirdness here will reward some repeat listening, just be ready for confrontational discohesion.
There are times when we luckily come upon something new. It may have been there for awhile but it is new to us. Such is the case of Nick Demopoulos’ project “Smomid”. Standing for String Modeling Midi Device, Nick, initially a guitarist, created smomid as a way for a guitar to interface with a computer. The smomid, along with his pyramidi, a midi device, are homemade instruments that transform sounds in a new way. And they look great. Lights, lights, lights. The smomid looks sort of like a combination of a guitar and one of those synthesizers from the 1980’s that also looks like a guitar. It is a guitar midi controller with all the knobs and buttons necessary to create a multitude of sounds, allowing for samples of tuvan singers and gamelan to blips and bleeps ala the best IDM to what may sound like sitar or stretched out guitar. Add the pyramidi midi devices that go along with it and wow. Talk about psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop. Don’t forget to add the lights, synchronized to send out coded messages to viewers, flashing to the beat of the smomid. Be ready.
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