Music Reviews

Bullwackies All Stars -Dub Unlimited – [BCP]

Thee Opinataur   12/31/2021   12-inch, Reggae

These dubs are from some of Lloyd ‘Bullwackie’ Barnes’s earliest recording years at the original White Plains Road studio in NY. Most of them reworked singles from various labels with the core rhythm tracks straight from Jamaica. The sound quality on all of these is good, clean, solid sound. But I sense they may also have lost some of the original grittiness in the digital transfer. Good track diversity, with soothing, relaxed dubs and hypnotic rhythms to fat & funky chill-out beats. Two to four-minute dubs to mellow out and lay back to.

Originally released in 1976 on his Senrab label (Barnes spelled backward) Re-released in 2006 by Berlin duo Moritz Von Oswald & Mark Ernestus via Basic Channel.
Barnes was a protege of Prince Buster while in Jamaica and played his engineering roots at Treasure Isle studios before moving to New York. Wackies was one of the first Reggae labels based in the US and is still going strong today.- Thee Opinataur

Kasai, Toshi – “Plan D NE” – [Joyful Noise Recordings]

whngr   12/16/2021   12-inch, A Library

Percussive Analog Synth from the industrious visionary Toshi Kasai of Big Business, Altamont, Deaf Nephews, engineer, producer, and collaborator of and with innumerable projects from Melvins, Totimoshi, Helmut, to Tool, et.alia, explores an anachronistic fantasy world evoking drug-addled dragons, alien psy-ops, aquatic sleep paralysis, and more artifice of one’s subconscious mind in a universe of seemingly unconstrained creativity that despite often feeling improvisational still flirts with the obsessive mad artist trope that I tend to enjoy.

A kind of sound engineer’s sandbox, Kasai employs several drummers from his esteemed (and varied) circle to ensconce themselves in his sonic throne festooned with MIDI triggers while he fondles his copious collection of analog synthesizers that can resolve to a sort of svelte prog. Only two instruments but with layers and complexity that may send some of you back to that Love In back in ’72 when you mixed your opium with your acid, felt your mind dissolve as the oil-lamps churned… and sound became your savior or perhaps more currently, a Nyquil overdose filled with aural hallucinations and irregular heartbeats.

You’ll probably dig this album in headphones. There are some spatial aspects that bend the mind and while the mixing feels carefully considered, the performances are at times chaotic and frenzied, while the element of improvisation (ostensibly) lends a note of immediacy existing simultaneously under a highly buffed post-production polish. There is courage and honesty in the arrangements and a sense that giving yourself up to the moment will yield otherwise unattainable results. Is it art or an exercise, an installation or a happening? Whatever it is, it isn’t easy… benefits from multiple listens, may be unrepeatable, and has no rival… excepting the other three three slabs from the four EP set, coming soon.

Los Angeles – 2021

Computer – “American Digital Prayer” – [Skrot Up]

whngr   12/15/2021   12-inch, A Library

A buffet of mostly palatable sound collage with a sprawling variety of sonic ingredients dumped on our plates and swirled with a wry wink, a nod, and perhaps even a résumé. 

Possibly the most diverse (neuro-divergant?) collection of sounds this volunteer has attempted to review on two side-long tracks. Profoundly bizarre, slightly humorous, abstract, and oblique sounds that tend to be unnerving but rarely dissonant and even more infrequently harsh. I, for one, found the country western vocal with guitar accompaniment portion on side A to be the most unsettling (about 25 seconds worth all told), but you may find the chicken clucks, soliloquy, monolog, lecture, and dialog between, intellectuals, lunatics, distressed townies, and artificial intelligences to be more disturbing. A leaning tower of previously unrelated sounds are sewn together with a thread of digitally generated abstractions including hip-hop, clip-clop, samples, and simple pimple problem goblins, dog barks, drowning sharks, sinking arks, and shimmering digital trouble bubbles. Side B is moderately less disjointed and a skosh more serene but contains many of the same elements and may still test the aurally thin skinned among us.

Computer is Kyle Borodkin (marketing/front-end developer, game designer, with (a) “demonstrated history of working in the airlines/aviation & GIS [Graphic Information Systems] industries”) of Seattle (now living in the Bay Area) and cohorts, James Vail, John Laux. Self ascribed on Discogs as:

Experimental, Abstract, Donk, Ghettotech, Happy Hardcore, Footwork, Gabber, Halftime, Rhythmic Noise, Musique Concrète, Vaporwave, Sound Collage, Psy-Trance, Leftfield, Skweee, Ambient, Dialogue, Comedy, Experimental, Sound Art, Field Recording, Ghettotech, Noise, Therapy, Special Effects, Sermon, Religious, Rhythmic Noise, Public Service Announcement

Originally released on cassette on April 1, 2020, this LP comes to us in late 2021 (about a year after we received the cassette) on Skrot Up and gives “special thanks” Stephen Spielberg’s 1971 action-thriller “Duel” on their bandcamp.


Cold Wave [coll] – [Soul Jazz Records]

cinder   12/15/2021   12-inch, A Library

Another killer compilation from Soul Jazz. This features current electronic acts that have all been influenced in sound by the early European cold wave artists of the late 70s and early 80s. Drum machines, lo-fi recording techniques, no wave post punk faux dance beats. Mostly instrumentals, some with vox. Cited influences call to Suicide, Patrick Cowley, The Normal, Martin Hannett, Laurie Anderson & Public Image. Soul Jazz always providing the best!

CIA Debutante – "Music For Small Rooms" – [Ever / Never]

cinder   12/15/2021   12-inch, A Library

Duo of Nathan Roche & Paul Bonnet out of France. It’s murky, lurky, stalker-like electronics with deadpan blase vocals. Ooooey gooey textures and gurgley synths with hints of The Shadow Ring & Cabaret Voltaire. Listen with one eye open, as they might be crouching in the darkness behind you.

Headboggle – "Digital Digital Analog" – [Ratskin Records]

cinder   12/15/2021   12-inch, A Library

Local San Franciscan, Derek Gedalecia creates modern day “library music”! But seriously, it’s magical, quirky, bouncy, soundtrack-esque, synth lounge electronics. MIDI and digital synths as well as a Steinway grand piano create the sounds behind the title “digital digital analog”, as well as it being recorded and processed digitally, and pressed onto vinyl – analog. Shorter tracks, mostly under a minute each, of zippity zappaty rhythmical excursions. It’s adorable, cheerful and delightful – a rainbow lit floating carousel of smiles in the sky! 

Estrada Orchestra – “Playground” – [Sulatron Records]

SlartiBartfast   12/13/2021   12-inch, A Library


Tallinn, Estonia’s own ESTRADA ORCHESTRA bings you a set of live improvised music that will capture your consciousness and send it to new aural galaxies. Playground was recorded live at the Ganna and Sophia Playground in Tallinn, Estonia November 2020. An open, almost hallow like sound emanates from the field mics in the Playground’s cavernous void while Misha Panfilov, Volodja Brodsky, et al create an improvised Jazz?, Prog?, Space jam?, Ambient?, Drone?, soundscape? All of this and more.  Let the “Playground” bring the spontaneity back into your day dreams while leaving you to ponder where the remnants or your grey matter might be currently floating around in the musical universe.

Galactapus – “You Better Not Cry” – [Self Released]

SlartiBartfast   12/13/2021   A Library, CD

Galactapus – “You Better Not Cry”

Just in time for those of you who suffer through the box store, holiday, elevator, Santa sludge comes Galactapus to the rescue. While this “X-mas EP” may have tenuous ties to your sugar plum fairy dreams, the psychotic Gingerbread People will haunt you soon enough. This anonymous by choice collective out or Minneapolis brings it with this chaotic anti-x-mass reconstruction. The tracks on the EP will start you off in your childhood dreamland and leave you in a puddled mass of Yule Tide putty wondering why Santa doesn’t love you anymore. Well…You could have been nicer….

Guedra Guedra – "Vexillology" – [On the Corner]

aarbor   12/8/2021   CD, International

Guedra Guedra is the DJ name of Abdellah M. Hassak from Morocco who plays with the spiritual polyrhythms of gnawa, the looping vocalisations of Sufism and the percussive tessellations of Berber folk. The sounds of the North African cultures meet in the music of Morocco. These rhythms are the core of his work. The name Guedra Guedra comes from the Berber dance music performed on the guedra drum. Vexillology, his debut full length is 13 complex (and wonderful) tracks. Seven Poets samples a group chant over birdsong and snappy hi-hats that evoke footwork’s stacked rhythms – bringing together the dancefloors of Chicago and the desert-scape of Berber song. The Chicago sound also leaves its mark on the bouncy Stampede Step with its shrill flute melody and growling bassline, and Aura samples the chants of the Zayane mountain community: chopping their circular incantations over rumbling sub-bass, the effect renders them as verse with a kind of crowd sound. Instead of simply pasting decontextualised field recordings over bright electronics, Hassak integrates these folk elements into the mix and allows them to breathe. He incorporates the clatter of the bendir drum on the rollicking Aura, a smattering of hand claps over the house piano of Cercococcyx, and the shrill arpeggios of the taghanimt flute on the drum machine-heavy 40’ Feet. Not to be missed! AArbor

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