KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Deadbeat and Camara – Trinity Thirty – [Constellation]

Louie Caliente   4/16/2019   A Library, CD

Deadbeat (Scott Monteith) and Fatima Camara are Canadian electronic musicians now living in Berlin. Here, the duo have taken on the almost scarily ambitious project of re-envisioning one of the most iconic albums of all time: Cowboy Junkies The Trinity Sessions.

2 years in the making, and released 30 years after the original, Trinity Thirty strips down the already-sparse sound to the bare bones, and the song’s tempos are slowed almost to the breaking point. Wistful ethereal vocals hover over minimal dubby beats and tranquilizing synth drones. The mood is somber and even haunting at times.

The Trinity Sessions was famously recorded around a single microphone in inside Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity, which gave the album a unique sense of space and acoustics. Trinity Thirty, recorded at Berlin’s Studio Chez Cherie, similarly emphasizes wide open spaces, solitude, and emptiness, moods further enhanced by the mastering work of Stefan Betke (aka Pole).

Sissy Spacek – “Pitched Intervention” – [Helicopter]

lexi glass   4/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

For 20 years, Sissy Spacek, the LA duo of Charlie Mumma and John Wiese, have churned out excellent noise that runs the gamut from gut-wrenching drums/guitar/growl grindcore to harsh electronic assaults to abstract concrète. The sounds on this 2019 LP fall on the latter end of this spectrum, with recordings of three recent live performances of tape music in collaboration with some heavy hitters from the LA experimental scene. On “Puzzle Performance” (A1), they’re joined by Don Bolles (of The Germs) on turntables and Mitchell Brown (aka Professor Cantaloupe) on synths and tape machine. A glowing sea of sound, with recorded snippets bobbing up to the surface – broadcasts from radio shows from the past or croaked alien language from transmissions from the future – and rough static eroding the edges. “Council-Manager” (A3), with assistance from Brown and LAFMS’s Joseph Hammer working the tapes, begins with quiet rustling; soon smooth jazz and feel-good folk are whipped into a nauseating nightmare. The B side is a sidelong track called “Glossolalia” (B1), named for Bolles’ excellent Monday night radio program on KXLU, one of the few you’ll be forgiven for cheating on KFJC to tune into. The demolition crew – including Brown and Bolles – gets to work, with crashing metal, concrete and glass. Strange melodies from a processed piano rise from the ruins; later, the familiar sounds of Wiese’s growling vocals and Mumma’s drumming that rolls to a boil, set the stage for the clipped classic rock finale.

Houser, Dylan – Dismal King / Dreary – [Self-released]

Louie Caliente   4/15/2019   A Library, CD

Guitar and found-sound oddness from Floridian Dylan Houser. It’s a two-EPs-in-one-CD kinda thing, combining recordings from late 2018 and 2019, all recorded and released directly by the artist.

Dismal King is spontaneous solo guitar compositions, looped and layered. Lo-fi but not too soupy, and with just enough distortion to take the edge off. A wide range of styles and moods on display, starting with the introspective and melancholy “Spring Vein” (T1). Things quickly ramp up to the propulsive “Dismal King” (T2) and the positively shredding “Locust Driver” (T3). We mellow out a bit (just a bit) with the psychedelic “Molting Riviera” (T4) and wrap up with an extended crunchy synth noise jam on “Tinker Galute” (T5), the only non-guitar piece on the EP.

Dreary is harder to categorize. It begins with “Lungform Deth Radio” (T6) a schizophrenic field recording collage featuring spoken word and the sounds of proper dental hygiene. The following track “Sarcophagus in Orbit” (T7) is more spaced-out improvised guitar work. The last three songs are rich synth drones with varying amounts of noise (T8, T10) and cheese (T9).

Joni Void – "Mise En Abyme" – [Constellation]

humana   4/11/2019   A Library, CD

Joni Void (aka Jean Cousin) has served up a gem here, which he refers to as “a time travel experiment, emotional processing, abstracted narrative, for voice, tone & beats.” Samples (Boards of Canada on 12), vocals, phone sounds (6), camera sounds that create beats (8), and even snippets from his parents’ wedding reception (1) all create the sense of infinity implied by the album title: “a copy of an image within itself, a story within a story; without beginning or end.” Enjoy.

Morgen Wurde – "Assassinous Act" – [Time Released Sound]

humana   4/10/2019   A Library, CD

The CD cover calls this release “a soundtrack for a fictitious crime film.” True to its word, everything, from the track titles to the music to the cover design with fingerprints and mug shots, is in keeping with the crime theme. Most of the tracks, especially the first half, contain instrumental electronic ambience that is sinister and unsettling, just as you’d expect the soundtrack to an assassinous act to be. Joining the violins toward the end are ethereal vocalizations, especially on 11, and 12 has voices that sound like they’re taken from a trial. This is unique and haunting. Try it.

Frost, Robert- “Reads His Poetry” – [Caedmon]

mickeyslim   4/10/2019   12-inch, A Library

This Caedmon Records release of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, Robert Frost (1874-1963), was made in 1956 “at Robert Frost’s home in Cambridge, where ebullient spirits, rural quiet and a feeling that this was to be the definitive Frost recording influenced the fine vitality of this reading.”

Some of his finest work, “The Road Not Taken,” “Death of a Hired Man,” and “After Apple-Picking,” among many others. Lay it down.

Wallace, Eli – “Barriers” – [Eschatology Records]

mickeyslim   4/10/2019   A Library, CD

“Barriers” is the moment you tip into sleep,
a thumbtack fallen pin-side-down
onto the hardwood floor,
a soft tap into a shallow
murky
puddle.

Recorded live in 2018, Eli Wallace’s solo piano work finds the cracks in the piano you didn’t know were there. Thunderous wisps and lukewarm fogs. Where to begin?

Mercure, Michele – “Eye Chant” – [Freedom to Spend]

lexi glass   4/9/2019   12-inch, A Library

Composer and synth musician Michele Mercure developed her sound through the 1980s in Pennsylvania, releasing the results on a handful of traded cassettes (under her married name Michele Musser) and on this sole 1986 LP, recently rereleased in 2017 by the RVNG sub-label Freedom to Spend. At first, Eye Chant seems deceptively accessible – with “Tour de France (Day 2)” (T1), that sounds like an extra stage of the Kraftwerk single, and the new-agey “In the Air” (T2) – but then, the album dives into the murky depths. A meditative mood – of drumming, flute, birds’ calls and wolves’ howls – is suddenly, violently shattered in “The Intruder” (T3). That shock launches directly into “100% Bridal Illusion” (T4), a nightmarish synth piece collaged with fragments of uncomfortable conversations with your relatives and the screams of their whining kids, that is altogether a hilariously accurate expression of all of the anxieties I have about marriage. Mercure’s processed vocals are layered to build “Eye Chant” (T5), and “Dream Clock” (T6) ticks over unusual melodies before arriving at the truly bizarre “Proteus and the Marlin” (T7), a tale of a woman who develops a lifelong psychosexual bond with a stuffed fish after her boyfriend jumps off the Golden Gate bridge. “Too Much” (T7) returns us to the surface with spare funk guitar riffs and downbeat dance rhythms.

Morher – “Rabbit Holes (and Other Exits)”- [Self-released]

atavist   4/3/2019   A Library, Cassette

Some of the KFJC staff will remember Morher from last summer, when “Sympathy for the Creator” was in current. This album was released one year later after “Sympathy…”, and offers the listener six tracks of rich, haunting, atmospheric tones, punctuated at times by echoing percussive elements, and anchored by ethereal vocals that rise and fall in volume from the surrounding soundscape, or are sampled and reassembled in new configurations. Each track is in the range of ten minutes, whereas the tracks on “Sympathy…” were generally longer. The tone is a bit darker than the previous effort. A current of anxiety and foreboding runs through the piece, and the sounds are produced with a compelling mix of clarity and distortion/obscurity.

Ero Guro – “Ero Guro” – [Wolfsblood Records]

lexi glass   4/3/2019   A Library, CD

One moment stands out from the first time I saw Tom Weeks perform: halfway through the set, he lifted his saxophone away from his lips, flipped it over, buried his face and tongue into the bell’s opening, and played it from the inside out. While I’m not sure he uses this exact technique, that same raw, physical energy is in full force on this 2015 self-titled release from Weeks’ ensemble Ero Guro. Named for the Japanese art movement of the erotic and the grotesque, the quartet features Weeks on alto sax, Mike Srouji on electric bass, and two drummers, Robbie Pruett and Patrick Talesfore. Over four wild compositions, they stagger from free jazz freakouts to rock grooves to doom metal depths to funky breakdowns – sometimes all over the course of a single track, as in the sprawling “Tentacle Apocalypse” (T2). Soaring themes descend a spiral staircase bassline into total chaos (T4), rhythmic intensity builds over quick sax/bass triplets (T5). Between the movements is a dreamy “Interlude” (T3), a hentai deathfuck fantasy. Ero Guro (and their follow-up 2017 cassette Blood of the Wolf we recently added) offers nonstop, killer extreme music, so dive in face-first.

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