Music Reviews

French Radio ‎– “Abandoned Children” – [Petit Mal Music]

whngr   7/8/2019   A Library

Slightly spooky, mellow, and sparse with some noisy elements. Long tracks for snacks, graves, and small seizures.

Ingrid is confused and upset
chirps and spectral swells
tape player in need of repair or being repaired
electronic drones and singing bowls
strings made blessed/cursed cat-gut

carousel is fueled by the dreams of imprisoned children
rusty bridges bowed by coast-giants
white noise, organ, and pulses of static

bells are distant or hallucinatory
melancholy guitar picking
echos abound
monumental sub-oceanic ancient gears in their final movements.
sizzle-zaps and zings
alien wind-chimes
rumbles and sounds of industry from a subterranean demi-god foundry

Very little information on this local project though member A.C. Way has been active in several projects in the Bay Area including Sutekh Hexen and most recently as Thoabath both of which are represented heavily in our library. Bruce Anderson performed guitars and other [etc.], and James Kaiser handled tape and other [etc.] as well as running the label Petit Mal Music (which this cdr was released on), before ultimately passing from this realm in 2017 at the age of 46.

Dang, Ami – “Hukam” – [Ehse Records]

Medusa of Troy   7/3/2019   A Library

Amrita Kaur Dang, who goes by Ami Dang, integrated noise, pop, Northern Indian classical and EDM into her debut album, Hukam. A sitar player since her early teens, this album was made back in 2010, when she was “stuck” getting a music degree at Oberlin College. There are songs in English and an Indian language (Hindi? unsure). Lots of wailing and vocal arpeggios but with a voice a little rougher than the sweet high tones one hears in traditional Indian music. Cacophonous and droning tracks are punctuated with sitar loops. Is rhythmic noise a contradiction? Because it happens here. Strong drumwork organizes the sounds into danceable beats “Treasure” – could be a traditional song from some part of northern India, but the staccato looping makes it feel more western. “A Strange Community” is perhaps my fave – tabla drum beats and sitar accents add to wailing chats and circular electronic riffs.

Some tracks stop abruptly and the subsequent songs will continue the old beat for a while.(1/2, 6/7). A noise fan might not consider this real noise, but if this were filed accidentally in the International section of a record (Ami is Indian-American from Baltimore), it would cause a ruckus.

Darts, The – “I Like You But Not Like That” – [Alternative Tentacles]

Buddy Love   7/3/2019   12-inch, A Library

Frontwoman Nicole Laurenne claims that this album marks the first time the band has actually recorded in the same room together, previous records done via e-mailing tracks back and forth. Whether she’s having us on, the album does have a certain tightness and subtlety that supports her claim. 12 uptempo tracks that only disappoint when they’re over. The sound of the album is well though out, heavy on the fuzz, with strong psychedelic elements. Though The Darts sound is often referred to as garage punk, to me it’s more reminiscent of the early Yardbirds, with strong bass-doubling riffs, a good example being the title track (possibly my favorite). Love U 2 Death (my other favorite) takes the concept even further, at time doubling between bass and vocals; bass and guitar; guitar and vocals; tripling bass, guitar and vocals.

A heavy, heavy sound, strengthened by the fact that the band members don’t appear to take themselves too seriously, and are just having fun. The songs all seem to center about relationships (but then again, don’t they all?), with quick solos popping up here and there (organ, bass, guitar). The songs range from 2:03 (Japan) to 4:37 (Love U 2 Death) and are economically arranged. Short enough to make their way onto any playlist. Many of the tracks have interesting endings (e.g. Where’s the Rain, with a 50-second fade into feedback and rain), so you may want to do a quick scan of the endings to figure out how best to connect with your next song.

No FCCs.

Mermen, The – "a Murmurous Sirenic Delirium" – [Kelptone Records]

Cousin Mary   7/3/2019   A Library, CD

The Mermen from Santa Cruz call their work “psychedelic instrumental ocean music”. Embraced by surf music fans as well as others. Fine playing from Jim Thomas on guitar, Martyn Jones on drums and Jennifer Burnes on bass. Good energy on some tracks like (1), others are more easy going and relaxed. An especially good album from a long excellent band – all killer, no filler.

Antonyms 1 – "Established Mode of Speech" – [Sub Rosa]

Cousin Mary   7/2/2019   CD, Jazz

These four tracks by a saxophone quartet (Steve Lacy on soprano, Ned Rothenberg on alto, Roy Nathanson on tenor and Eric Sleichim on baritone) are from a live performance. Breathy and honky but it never gets monotonous. Very pleasant in an abstract way. The enthusiastic audience response make me think it would have been fun to see and hear this live.

Reptile Ranch – "Reptile Ranch" – [C/Site]

Thurston Hunger   6/28/2019   12-inch, A Library

Well-preserved Welsh jams from the late 70’s. So stoked to see this reissue after having a taste courtesy of a couple of songs off Messthetic collections. Reptile Ranch were tied to a Cardiff scene that included the Young Marble Giants, booklet includes their manifesto for busting out Z Block Records. Songs are poppy catchy in a certain light, but with a twitchiness that distinguishes them over the decades. “Waterhole” has a warped entrance, some orchestral moves in the dork, before a peppy bassline locks in, with those shimmery seventies keyboards sounding like a siren. Many tracks work in those sensible but simple synths from Simon Smith, who also sings and adds some guitar. Spike aka Alun Mark Williams, provides the snakey guitar work that cuts nicely. Phil John apparently was both halves of the rhythm section, bass and percussion. The LP includes some raw live club cuts on side A, for those who want the “you were there vibe” but the studio sounds bristle with youthful thistles. “W.T.B” (White Tyger Burning) marches and the guitars burble, “Lifeguard” has a tiny splash of early Roxy as the keyboards push and pull the track in little circles; similar keys on “Saying Goodbye” the album closer. “Lifeguard” even floats in some wood flute. Powered by dour outlooks (hello “Young Executives”) quite a nice bit all these years later, kudos to Stefan Christensen and however he made a Connecticut connection to the Ranch hands.

Hey, lookin’ up Chuck Warner (Messthetics/etc) old site, found this

-Thurston Hunger

Surplus 1980 Collectiv Ensemble With G.W. Sok – "Forget All This" – [Music a La Coque]

Thurston Hunger   6/28/2019   A Library, CD

Kinetic tick-tick-tock attack chock-block full o’ G.W.
Sok-talked vox. Lengthy pieces not just propelled but perforated by percussion. Sok, an ex-Ex type takes the marching music orders from the mighty Moe Staiano (surely an Ex fan, hell his Emeryville studio is named
Ex’pression!), anyways G.W. plucks lyrics from a deep stream of consciousness, that affords a fjord between Elvis in Wonderland and Alice Presley. A touch of Jefferson ErrorKlang too, though I feel Moe owes more to Arnold Dreyblatt and Glenn Branca. There are “only” four guitarists here (including John Shiurba!). Apparently this is the superset of all Surpluses past and present. 12 local Metro-gnomes + Sok as Jesus or Judas, your choice! Moe is nothing if not magnetic, and a charming host. At times the machinery of the music is a bit much, so when you hit a whistle break like in “Gutter” or the oboe/upright bass weaving on “Flim Flam” it does help to blow off steam. Mostly the trains are rapidly running on time here.
All aboard…..
-Thurston Hunger

If you are offended by either a blowjob or a snowjob, then be wary of #4. Personally I HATE snowjobs…

Frank Hurricane and The Hurricanes of Love – "Life Is Spiritual" – [Feeding Tube Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/28/2019   12-inch, A Library

Frank looks so much like KFJC’s luvvable Honey Bear, it makes it hard not to smile while just looking at the cover. Similarly for listening to these breezy, bluesy acoustic hippie jams. Puts a bandaid on your soul and
a banjo on your need. Twelve-string rings throughout some tracks. Frank cranks up the falsetto at times to let it soar through the valleys, dig “On a Hill” and “Johnson City Blues.” While there’s a lyrical (lysergical?) thread of going on a spiritual trip and his songs map out various destinations for tour buses and bussing, Frank is not above the cosmic joke. Dishing on Dylan, he gets “tangled up in pubes” and sees Shrymps as often as Burroughs saw Mugwumps. Well, the Shrymp’s seem more benevolent, though I’m not steeped in Hurricane lingo + lore. Watch out for the Tennessee Pigeon River Ghoul, he might trap Frank and you in a pool hall for eternity. Nah, you both can find yer way home via “Mooneye Travelin
Blues.” Me? I got stuck in a “Holy Mountaintop Rainstorm” digging a bit of brass and looking around for Jodorowsky and Rubin Carter.
-Thurston Hunger

Kiki Gyan- Feeling So Good

cadilliac margarita   6/26/2019   CD, International

Originally recorded in 1979 (a rare and valuable LP), reissued in 2018. Kiki was born in Takoradi, Ghana in 1957. He began playing music at 5, and was quickly discovered to be a keyboard prodigy, turning pro at 12. By 15, he was touring as the Keyboardist for Osibisa, after joining them in London. After playing with them for 7 years, and gaining notoriety for his skills, he went solo with this record, blending afro beat with disco, reggae, and synth heavy electronics. This record is so good, so bright an upbeat; Long grooves that just cook. Even Black Afro Punk, which is a mellowish reggae dub, got me tapping toes. The keyboards are of course the main star, since he was a genius with that instrument. After this album, and a brief marriage to the daughter of Fela Kuti, Gyan went pretty much MIA due to a tragic and debilitating drug addiction.  He died from AIDS related complications in 2004.

The Best of Baby Washington

cadilliac margarita   6/26/2019   CD, Soul

Born in South Carolina in 1940, and Raised in Harlem, Jeanette “Baby” Washington joined vocal group The Hearts at 16 years old in 1956. The following year, she began recording solo tracks. Her voice is so rich and emotive,  and these tracks are dripping with love, heartbreak and melancholy. The production is classic northern soul and very well done, with lots of strings, percussion, and horns. Dusty Springfield (who stated several times that Washington was her favorite singer) was clearly influenced, and that may explain why she isn’t better known. But hot damn!! Now’s your chance! Like a lot of 60s soul performers, disco took its toll, and she hasn’t recorded much since the late 70s.  She’s now 78 years old and still actively performing mostly in Europe.

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