KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

El-P/Blue Series Continuum “Sunrise Over Bklyn” [Thirsty Ear]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

El-P, aka Jamie Meline, brings this one-sided 10″
as a tease for an upcoming Blue Series full-lenght.
This piece sets up two-chords as antipodes and let’s
an all-star cast of musicians fly between them like
a flock of exotic birds. The early call is issued
by Ray Campbell on delayed trumpet…from then on
Matthew Shipp carries the lead on piano, revising
a simple melody so quick and often it develops depth.
At times the piano masses momentum, and then finding
an alley to relax and recapture strength. Like a
hero on the run. It’s a lengthy piece and about
3/4 through…it seems to lose focus…but pulls it
together by the finish line. It sounds like some
very subtle if any post-production was mixed in…
Hey if this is a magnet that pulls more folks to
the Series and these musicians, that’s alright.

Burd Early “Mind and Mother” [Western Vinyl]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Hey James Angelos chose the stage name of Burd Early,
so any puns forthcoming are *his* fault. I think the
flock of Bonnie Prince Billy devotees will likely enjoy
this. Vocals multitracked and murmured into requisite
beard. James aka Burd tends towards abstact ideas and
images in his lyrics, than the more toothy, tactile
realm of Will Oldham. The guitars are similarly soft
and slinky…somewhere in the greatly misnamed plains
of No Depression alt-country rock (and yet this was
spawned in New York City, more America’s spleenland
than heartland.) Nice duet vocalette on “Undoing…”
she captures the rocking-chair phrasing that unites
Early to his earlier counterparts, Palace, Ohia
and so forth. Fanning this one with dainty praise,
but I’m interested in hearing more before and after
work.

John Duncan “Da sich die Machtgier” [Die Stadt]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The succinct liner notes describe this collaboration
with Asmus Tietchens, and deny it. Tietchens is really
heard only on track #3. Duncan has been a prolific and
either profound or perverse, (likely both) artist over
the years. Often he dabbles in discomfort, (necrophilia
in Blind Date, an attack dog in Threat and so forth),
this album then is surprisingly comforting…in its
coldness. Well the lead-off mutation does bring a
hellicopter snare out of the original, but with lot’s
of silence between rounds. The second piece is a
vortex, as if you could hear the blood in someone
else’s ears…or maybe a galactic redshift of the
original offering. The fourth and final 30 minute
drone is so gossamer it is almost gone during both
its parabolic ascent and descent. The theory here
may overpower the results…but nonetheless an
artist to watch, and to listen to…

Digital Intervention, the “capture” [0101-music]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

All’s fair in Louvel and data warfare. Olivia Louvel is the
seductress here, working like an avatar in your dreams. While
she caresses your ears with whispers and spoken French kisses,
Paul Kendall surreptitiously jacks in via a wet-ware cable
into the back of your skull. The electronic routing of hums,
pulses, switches and aural envelopes from Kendall is every
byte as intoxicating as the beckonings of Louvel. Nothing
here for the dance floor, instead it is all to be draped
over a divan…and ravaged. Pleasure and pain mingle, tease
each other. Ambient aphrodesiactivity putting the aether in
the ethernet. By the end, as Louvel purrs that she is “really
tired” you’ll be eager for more still. This is what the orb
in Sleeper must have felt like to Woody Allen.

Diamanda Galas “La Serpenta Canta” [Mute]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Which is the evil twin’ This or its doppleganger “Defixiones”
released at the same time? On this Diamanda continues her
cadaverous cabaret. Rhythm and blues in blood red hues. Deep
fistfuls of piano thump, while her voice crawls up and down
the octaves. Choking whispers, spewing flame, nasally
drawling every word split into a trillion trilling notes.
If Chaka Khan is every woman, then Diamanda is every succubus,
possibly including Mariah Carey and Cher. Yes this is that
scary in parts. At times her fiery flagrant vocalizations
border on self-parody. There seems to be no limit to the
tops for her to go over. It’s mostly just Diamanda and her
piano, with a bit of delay on her voice here (harrowingly so
on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”), some weird trembly ghost
treatment of piano there (notably on “Dancing in the Dark”
and “My World Is Empty Without You”). This is one live album
obsessed by death. The snake sings cause it can shed its skin
and survive, not so true with our mortal coils.

Devendra Banhard “Rejoice in the Hands” [Young God]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

A minstrel’s ministrations. The second “full” length release
(16 more songs were held back for a release later this year)
from this vagabond troubadour. His warped and wavery delivery
channel Tiny Tim and Al Jolson as much as Syd Barret. On a
few tracks he’s augmented by assistance, but it is mostly
his bubbly nylon-string guitar and his breath-taken voice.
Recorded somewhere behind his teeth, you can hear his lips’
soft smack and his tongue coiling around his brainstem. The
move from four-track to Jimmy Johnson’s home studio cost
no intimacy, which is Banhart’s calling card. Pop quiz,
who has heard of Vashti Bunyan? Not only did this UK pop
singer have an effect on Devendra growing up, he had the
grace to invite her to join him on the title track. Her
path, thorny ejections from art school and the celebrity
machine likely serve as inspiration to Banhart to stick
with the path he knows so well. Past the cornfields and
the grooves of citrus fruit that dot the landscape here,
not looking at photos or mirrors, but probing his body
and mind with his own grubby fingers. #9 instro, #12 has
a false start. A jagged, jangly jongleur.

Detachment Kit “Of This Blood” [French Kiss]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

So there was this killer party, a decade or two ago…but
the Kit, in their Detached manner are only just now showing
up, more than fashionably late, still more fashionable than
the bulging-eyed zombies who are still at the actual party.
There are some tricks here that help to set up the canonized
noise pop. Opening trick played is of the “High Llama” suit
then a second or two of electrowash right into a bloody,
pumping heart, the towering trump rock the Kit shoots the
moon for most of the time. With its pretty screaming of
“No, You’ll Never Die” you know the kids are still alright,
and still feeling immortal. They still have old Beatle lps
too, a harmony chorus on “Pill Cake” shouts twistedly. “The
Race” alternates from anthem aims to less pressurized feel
with guitar nebulae. Over the entire album, the guitarplay
generally scores plenty of body blows. “Ice Queen” spades
some dirt gracefully upon a casket and the solemn, somnolent
acoustic guitar of “Spider” ends this album.

Denman Maroney “Fluxations” [New World Records]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Provocative release with somewhat arbitrary slicing
(several “parts” have quite a bit of change in them,
and there is no deadtime between ’em). Often the music
here feels like there are two clocks not quite ticking
at the same second. Maroney’s “hyperpiano” is prepared
piano, often the damping of strings by objects (or
Maroney’s hands) induces a not unpleasant harpsichord
hangover. I think he’s sliding some metallic objects in
parts…for a nice wobble to some otherwise mechanical
movements. But the composition is more peculiar than the
monkeying of keys. Even when not in hyperpiano mode,
Maroney leaps pretty odd Conlon Nancarrow-y intervals.
Chords are struck with a very precise “mistiming”,
unravelling in a disheveled manner. It grew upon me.
When Dresser’s bass moves to the front, the “fluxations”
are most accessible…by track four an almost minimalist
momentum is built but it gets properly unhinged before
long. Ned Rothenberg tosses in a solo on #5 that fits
with the bi-clock beneath, while connecting to a Village
Vanguard vibe. While soul jazz pumps involuntary muscles,
this twitches very voluntarily to mindmath.

David S. Ware String Ensemble “Threads” Thirsty Ear

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Liner notes present the confession of a former
flame thrower falling in love with a fountain.
Cooler composing heads prevail, at least for
now; however this certainly has flashes of
Ware’s scintillating solos (the “Weave” cuts)
Overall, there’s a quasi illbient undervibe.
Fans of the recent El-P should enjoy the
“Sufic Passages” with its bass and cymbal
smooth ride. That’s an easy entry. I dug the
opening track, very tense, very “Angel Heart”
with all players getting limber. The twin
strings of Daniel Bernard Roumain and Mat
Maneri are thickened further by Matthew
Shipp’s banks of synth strings. Especially
on the title track, which will either be
beautiful or bogged down for listeners. I
think this is a nice first step towards a
balance between blast and ballad…chops and
comps…purists can still return and burn
with older Wares.

Dame Darcy “Greatest Hits” [Bop Tart]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The queen of modern antiquity returns, her
breath smelling of formaldehyde and absinthe,
to KFJC’s airwaves to revive the undead air.
Her banjo strung with her own hair. Here lie
short ballads of yore and gore, but wrapped in
such pretty petticoats (lots of xylophone,
autoharp and of course singing saw). If you
ever wondered what silent movie stars sound
like when they sing, here you have it.
Covers are disinterred (“Oh Death”, “Psycho”
and “House of the Rising Sun”). “Grandma’s
Feather Bed” makes one think that this
damned Dame was born unto her art, her Dad
appears on that and other pieces as well.
Ramshackles and chains around your heart.

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