KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Soothwag “S.B.T.W.” [Abiogenesis]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Should file a ballistic report rather than a review. Pounding
noise from 2001 and this Japanese signal processor/exploder.
Beats are detonated, with enough regularity to incite the
brave to dance. Sound is jammed in a bit, making this less
of a headphones-listen than an open-air assault. Blasts come
in sets of waves. Sections like the middle of “Gakai” when
persistent rhythms relax and we get the drift and draft of
static are very welcome, and could have been deployed more
often I feel. “Corrode” delivers a sort of swagger, with
slapping swatches of sound over a heavier noise-funk. The
fury-on-the-fritz of this project though is undeniable.
This is the first of at least two by Shunichi aka Soothwag.
It would be interesting to hear him collaborate with others
perhaps from less infernal realms of sound.

Smegma “Glamour Girl 1941 + Pigface Chant” [Japan Overseas]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Richard Meltzer in your mind, not in your toilet? I suspect
how much one likes/hates this will depend upon how serious
one thinks Meltzer and the Smegmen take themselves. This is
a regurging of the original full-length and ep for Meltzer
and his Pasadena-to-Portland posse, with some other chunks
coughed up just for this release. One of those ends the CD
with “uh, don’t come in here,” while there is a masturbatory
feel to much here, there’s a lot of flair as well. My guess
it’s all an allergic reaction to Meltzer’s listening to too
many records (he reviewed for Crawdaddy, the Village Voice
and such) and making too much money for Blue Oyster Cult
lyrics. The CD starts with some fairly open free jazz, but
there are tortured tantrums leaking in as well. Frustrated
poet. Well, just plain frustrated. An early use of loops is
evident. There’s a helluva lot of rare beauty in these rough
recordings (#8 and #5 say) By the time the EP breaks wind,
it’s vocal collision/collage where chants meets chance.

Slowblow “Noi Albinoi” [Kitchen Motors]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   CD, Format, Soundtrack

Dagur Kari wrote/directed the film from whence this music
floes. Even by Icelandic standards, this music is chilly.
The pump organ seems to have an arctic wind blowing through
it at times (especially on “Another Hole”). Hmmm, somehow
in writing a track title with caps, I feel I have betrayed
this release. This wants to be lower than lower case, well
with the exception of the faux muzak on “Morgun” which was
written/performed by Sigridur Nielsdottir, a 73-year old
outsider musician who has allegedly issued near 30 albums
of her casiotone-for-the-plainfully-happy. Check out her
work on “Komdu Litla Barnid” that is a sweet lullabye that
just suspends time. “Groove” thaws out the drum kit, and
drags some nice neanderthal knuckles along a rock riff.
Weird and welcome to hear that dirtbag rock amidst all
the pristine iciness. Less out of its element, though
different is the licensed Shostakovich “Elegy” as done
by the Rubio Quartet. Aside from the Nielsdottir, the
only other vox are at the end, with the other Slowblower
Orri Jonsson. Iced-aged.

Shrimp Boat “Something Grand” [Aum Fidelity]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   A Library, CD, Format

What a long, strange triptych it’s been. This collection of
all ne’er before released material was apparently what drove
Steven Joerg to create the fine Aum Fidelity imprint. Reading
the liner notes here reminded me of meeting a group of guys
at college who had all gone to high school together and thus
had their own history, mythologies and even hostilities. But
you like ’em all. The Boat floats to many sonic ports. There’s
definitely an element of riding the rails, banjo tweaking and
hobo vocals. A lot of thin, flecky Stratocaster guitars and
so you get lazy noodling in “The Light Between Your Knees”
but then that has this great odd dischordant progression.
Other times there’s dubwise motion and hell the saxes, the
saxes are the most charged and “Wonderful, Wonderful.” This
is Chicago, must be something in the spit valves there. Ollie
North goes south in “I Can’t Wait, I Cannot” which winds up
being for the birds…but helps to set the dates, ’87 – ’92.
What more can you ask of art students (especially ones with
sax smoking friends) other than to make more music. Perhaps
Joerg is shooting for a Nobel Prize and a new album, in the
meantime this snapshot good cop, Prekop, pre-post rock has
an active feel in composition/capture and out of time

Shalabi Effect “Pink Abyss” [Alien8]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   A Library, CD, Format

First a masterpiece, then a mess…and now this, a
messterpiece from these Montreal minstrels and their
namesake mastermind, Sam (or Osama) Shalabi. This is
another foray into the field of psychedelic poppies,
aside from a gorgeous ballad on #2 featuring guest
vocalist Elizabeth Anka Vajagic most of this teeters
on the fence between hippy jam and even less focused
sonic noodling. That being said, listened en toto
from end to end this album creates its own landscape
with tabla often as its touchstone. The short tonic
track after the aforementioned ballad serves as an
incredible shadow (with clarinet). The album is
bookended by less organic, more orgonic materials. The
initial cut is a flutey forest shredded by a sampler,
the last cut sort of orbits in space around the turf
that has been traversed earlier. While track #9 does
recall their earlier galactic garden processionals,
really all of this is enjoyable. It just tastes like
it was taken out of the oven a tad too soon. Better
that than too late…

Sexy Prison “Bury My Heart at Vladistovok” 33 rpm [toneVENDOR]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   7-inch, A Library, Format

While some will prefer the B-side to this single sided 7″,
the boys cooped up in Sacremento’s “Sexy Prison” probably
wouldn’t mind. Them boys would be vocalist John Pritchard and
de-bassist Robert Pickle, together they may have given birth
to the recently added “Babyhead” comp. Gotta love reproductive
technology these days. Pritchard’s reverby singing is like a
woman with too much mascara, you kinda wonder what it would
look/sound like without it…but you can’t stop staring at it
nonetheless. The second track has a sample at the root that
might be “Funky Cole Medina” or something, it gets briefly
excavated for a spell along with four bars of a Tiki calypso.
These two numbers are as subtle as a drag racing commercial,
fervent with left-over machines from the disco age rebuilt
with illegal parts and maximum squelch. The lyrics are so
warped, I thought they were singing about Boz Scaggs at one
time. Even if they weren’t this is still tremendous.

Selfish Cunt “Britain is Shit” 45 rpm [Horseglue]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   7-inch, A Library, Format

Possibly the best of use of a cheap drum machine ever. It
fires a machine gun stacatto attack during “Britain is Shit.”
It then has a series of spasms on “Fuck the Poor” that keep
that track off balance. Vocals are more leery on the latter,
which also has a tiny little pachinko synthesizer buried
somewhere in the grooves. “Britain is Shit’s” pressure-cooked
vocals are stringier, longer notes sung lifting up at the
end of each phrase, as if grabbed on the ears by an unstable
constable. Plus when everything drops out, that damned drum
machine gets a chance to just jackhammer away. Selfish Cunt
contains shouter Martin Tomlinson and beater Patrick Constable
within it. Working out of East London, these lads know there
subject matter, even though one of ’em is evidently and old
New Zealot. Both sides dirty as their titles.

Scholastic Deth “Killed by School” 33 rpm [625 Thrashcore]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   7-inch, A Library, Format

Razor sharp, whiplash rock from the now-defunct Scholastic
Deth rockers…though one of the band members evidently still
runs 625 Thrashcore. Songs hit escape velocity pretty quickly,
often leaving with dual feedback whines. But tracks jump on
quickly…so be prepared for life after a Deth track. It’s
just as well, the energy on one side alone can light up the
Central Valley. Songs come out swinging, and occasionally may
end up cold-cocking a friend or themselves. Speaking of
friends…the frenzy here connects back to Spazz per the 625
web site as well as to Capitalist Casualties. More often the
blows land where they are intended, and as all four of the
band are UC grads, it’s nice that they bite the hand that
fed Enron and other dodgy investment schemes. There may be
cursing in the lyric sheets, but sadly people who would be
offended by that, wouldn’t take the effort to stop and listen
to this rock solid 7″. Advanced degrees of ire via their
Evelyn Wood speed thrash edumacation. Repeat multiple times
for multiple credit. Core requirement.

At the Court of the Mwami – Ruanda [SWP Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   CD, Format, International

Back in 1999, Andy Moor of the Ex turned me on to this
label, we did an on-air special on it and interviewed
Michael Baird back in Holland…Michael was born in
Zambia, and through luck and labor had obtained access
to the International Library of African Music which was
founded and largely stocked by Hugh Tracey. Hugh traced
almost all of Africa and did so over 50 years ago, he
returned with recordings that are unbelievably pristine.
You can hear his voice on the throw-away first track,
then a dry flood of drums. Pretty amazing dropping in
and out of beat. Listen to #5, that’s no simple rhythm.
Vocal pieces are even more fulfilling for me, often
a chorus gets a wobbly drone to it (recall Tenores di
Bitti esp #19, one thought is that the Tutsi’s largely
featured here did come down from Ethiopia, hmmm?). Men
and women both are recorded by the way, though I’m not
sure if ever together. #15 has a musical bow, like the
berimbau or kalimboo or whatever the Gnawa Hawa play,
it jabs a song along so well! Drums return towards the
end, this time with Hutu’s doing the honor.

Rope “Widow’s First Dawn” [Family Vineyard]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   A Library, CD, Format

I know this is not for everyone, I just cannot
imagine why. A traditional rock triad at the
core, a hot molten core. Around that Rope has
built a whole planet. The first song tiptoes
like a Star Trek away team, uncertain whether
they can breathe the air. Detonating delay on
guitar and on guest vox Graczyna Auguseik’s
works well. This severs prog rock’s Achilles
tendon, as instead of having a vibe of “Hey,
I can play it backwards in 5/11 time” the
feeling here is that large stretches of these
songs leapt out in inspiration. Volume pedal
tension, slashing dischords, & a non-bloated
Allan Holdsworth ghost are all summoned by
Przemyslaw Chris Drazebca. Blood and spittle
vocals are squeezed out of bassist Robert
Iwomly. Michael Kendrick’s drums are
cymbal-laden and frantic/dormant as needed.
This album delivers the hurt and the solace
all at once.

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