Music Reviews

Cold Heat: Heavy Funk Rarities 1968 – 1974, Volume 1 [coll] – [Now-Again Records] (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   7/24/2005   12-inch, Soul

All hail Egon (nee Eothen Alapatt) for compiling this collection of rare funk music from the late 60’s and early 70’s and putting it out through his offshoot of Stones Throw called Now-Again. This is the official follow up to The Funky 16 Corners collection (which we have in Soul/12″). He also put together the compilation Third Unheard – Connecticut Hip Hop ’79-’83 (which we have in Hip Hop/CD).

Sadly this double LP didn’t come with the 28-page booklet of liner notes promised on the web site. (I’ll steal one from Amoeba the next time I go there, since that’s where I got this copy.) For brief bios of the bands, you’ll have to go to http://www.stonesthrow.com/nowagain/artists.htm

The sound quality is excellent, which sets it apart from most other funk compilations. But more importantly, the tunes are all smokin’ and funky as you might expect. Check out in particular the mellow middle section of Free Your Mind by Amnesty (A2) and the cover of War‘s Slipping Into Darkness by the Dayton Sidewinders (B3), and the alternate extended jam take of Mr. Chicken by The Soul Seven (D1). Most of the tracks were recorded in that hotbed of Funk known as the Midwest (OH, IN, MI, NE, KY) and a few were recorded in AZ and TX. It’s always interesting to hear the different local sounds.

Judging from the rarity of these tracks, maybe we should send Egon to Iraq in search of WMDs.
–Hunter Gatherer

T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo ?The Kings of Benin: Urban Groove 1972-80? [Soundway Records] (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   7/24/2005   12-inch, International

This album is a compilation of songs from the prolific but obscure West African band T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo. They have been going strong for over 40 years putting out over 50 LPs and 100 45s, but this release focuses on the years 1972-1980. Some notes on their name(s): The T.P. stands for tout puissant, or all-powerful in English. You can find them filed under various suffixes as de Cotonou Benin (pronounced be-NIN or be-NEEN), de Cotonou Dahomey (the colonial name for Benin), or just de Cotonou (the capital of Benin).

The 13 tracks on this release cover a wide range of styles, combining Afro-beat with Latin, Soul, Psychedelic, and Funk influences. The rhythm (or rhythms) of most songs is complex but generally comes down on the 1, making the music instantly accessible. Once the band settles into a groove the horns punctuate it, guitars noodle and jam with it, and vocals (in French, I think) shout into it.

It’s music for when the air-conditioning in the Master studio is busted. Perfect for summer!

If you liked the Love’s A Real Thing collection (International/CD) added a few months ago (these guys did the title track), you will certainly like this album. Drop the needle anywhere and funk out.
–Hunter Gatherer

Gessyoku – “Psychedelic Kabuki ” – [God Mountain]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Hoppy Kamiyama scores as Kabookie Monster with
his madcap antics blown-up for orchestra like
some huge colorful inflatable parade doll. It’s
a jump-cut mish-mash, theatrical/prog passages,
occasional blasts of pure chaos, acapellatio,
tormented strings, Nordic oarsmen chants, gongs,
hyperactive marches, even dreaded sappy-sweet
jap-pop. Into the Gok Sound blender it goes,
and we wind up with something that sounds like
one of those peculiar Italian soundtracks, with
definite sonic winks from Hoppy. Lyrics by Osamu
Hashimoto don’t fit in my ear, but damn if I
ain’t curious. A sound larger than Giant Robot.

Job – “Party at Ilan’s ” – [Feast or Famine Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Imagine Donny and Marie singing,
“I’m a little bit improv”
“And I’m a little bit rock and roll”
Besides being a worthy creative exercise, this’ll
put you in the mood for what Job offers. Local
outfit ostensibly of kybd, guitar and drums with
a key additional ingredient of stuff. These three
guys own a lot of stuff and like to plug that
into the fray. On tracks like “Clear” said stuff
provides a great visceral roller-coaster effect.
That & “Humdinga” hint at a squishy sort of funk,
at other times it’s Dark Shadows meets Fantastic
Voyage, augmented by Young’s murky synthscapes–
check the last 3 tracks (around 10/11 listen for
a phrase that sounds like “Aum Mickey” as sung
by a Hindu Minnie?’) Schifferli’s guitar can
ramble rambunctiously like Ribot, but also check
out the sweet sustain that closes “Political
Intrigue.” More please! The big Lebofsky holds
it altogether as much by what he doesn’t play as
what he does. He LISTENS and adjust drums from
plink to pound. Also lots of chitchat here
(live Stork Clubbers?) Overall promising, hinges
on more 3-way sonic intuition and mastering their
“stuff”, not being mastered by it. It’s not just
a Job, it’s a fine sonic adventure.

Fielding, Jamie – “Extinkt ” – [Dr Jim’s Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Graduate student in improvisation from Australia’s
Victorian College of the Arts gets his fill of
order and theory and goes off to find his noise.
Plenty of scintillating synthesizer sinning,
bleeps and worgles. The live tracks sound like a
party in cellblock 5, feedback frenzy and
screaming. Standouts for me were 5’s low-fi
sci-fi suspiciousness, 3’s trombone’s in heat,
track 8 brought to mind a short version of “The
Fly” ( a young girl screams the title “Kill It”,
electro-wings beat and trombones buzz), and 11
which had a nice foggy espionage feel at the
start but then goes on to tip-toe through a
Twilight Zone. Sadly the title of this collection
matches the composer’s current state.

Cage, John – “Variations I V ” – [Legacy International]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Both Cage, and his frequent collaborator David Tudor
are gone now, but their legacy echoes in much of the
music KFJC adds, as well as in the sounds you hear
when walking down the street. Or better yet, in how
you hear them. Cage was adept at composition qua
composition, but was a man who thought as much or
more than he played. His curiousity and penchant for
experimentation were contagious, and would spread
like mushrooms wherever he went. This piece (listen
/play the track 1 1950’s educational-film-style intro
for specifics) was orchestrated by dancers tripping
diodes. Maybe even tripping dancers, who knows…
Two rooms (stereo separated here?) with mics and
record players and tape machines (THE post-modern
musical instrument…with the sampler evolving from
it). An eavesdropper’s delight of juxtaposed sounds
that melt in your mind/not your ears. The highlights
of a magical evening condensed into tracks here for
you. A woman describes her failed marriage while a
diva wails, typewriters and bombs provide percussion
to marches, a doctor talking about fatigue leads
into a horror soundtrack scream, that famous fuse
piece burns through the Nutcracker. It’s like a
vulcan mind-meld with one of the century’s most
significant artist.

Formanek, Michael – “Am I Bothering You? ” – [Screwgun]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   CD, Jazz

A bass player with some pretty “Wide Open Spaces”
in his mind cuts loose with an album that would
be wrong to call “just” acoustic bass. He explores
a variety of sounds, from scrapescapes to plunky
funkettes to slack-string rattlings to see-saw
dizziness to tapping and shuffling all around
the body of the bass behemoth. He even winds
things up in some Muddy Waters. All on his
lonesome, no overdubs or preservatives added.
I bet he had a blast being out of the rhythm
anchor section, in more of the sonic spotlight.
Maybe next he’ll tackle some duo projects
a la Peter Kowald…or at least hopefully he
won’t wait 20 years for the next solo album.
Formidable and Formanek-able.

Ribot, Marc – “Y Los Cubanos Postizos ” – [Atlantic]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

A romping tribute to the late tres guitarist and composer
Arsenio Rodriguez, captained by Ribot with folks like
Anthony Coleman, Brad Jones and the brothers Rodriguez
(no relation I think) aboard. Just a beautiful album,
soulful evocative playing from Ribot, still he has his
unique broken-down style in places, but this is a lot
more fluid…fluid but fiery. Smoky percussion snakes
through, add in some vocals phoned in from some Community
College where Ribot is taking Spanish II. Momentum
and mood mount in each song. There’s a paradoxical
sense of tension and joy here.
More fun than a whole ocean of pigs….El Hombre del Hambre

Kable – “Tardy All the Time ” – [Fleece Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   A Library, CD

Another golden Fleece record, the label that
provides a Who’s Hou in Houston. Kable is
Kay Bonya…this is her 2nd full lp (she had
a treat on the Succour collection also).
Basement wonderment…accordions, whistling,
bouncy banjo, mantra moments, mandolins on
Doppler reverb trains, Mission Impossible
snare flourishes and MANY layers of guitar
and vocals. Comfortable without being
comforting. Sorta sordid DIY country psyche.
You can hear the cute little stickers on her
four track. A tapestry of tape.

Ondekoza, the – “Ondekoza, the ” – [Jvc Musical Industries]

Thurston Hunger   7/23/2005   CD, International

So I used to think that the world would end in a war between
Pepsi and Coke, but now I think it’s going to be two different
multi-national corpse (sic): Sony versus JVC. The actual warriors
waging battle will be Za Ondekoza versus Kodo. Fuck the Yakuza,
these people run marathons and then beat their souls out on
gargantuan drums…while wearing diapers. The fluid synchronicity of
the drumming is beyond tight, you know that sound of a quarter
wobbling and settling down…well imagine a quarter the size
of Taiwan. Sonic thunderheads have been forming for centuries.
This album also showcases shamanic shamisen’s death rattle and
dervish (#3,#2), rattle-snake shakuhachi poison darts (#5,#1,#2),

I’m ready to enlist in Za Ondekoza Nostra.

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