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Music Reviews

Carnival Jump-Up – coll [Delos]

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

A donation from KFJC’s Austin Space after he played the
rousing rendition of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” from
this on his 2nd annual special for that song. For some,
this may have a cruise ship capability to repel (the
fine liner notes describe how my favorite band, SILVER
STARS, on this actually re-formed “when most of the
members returned home from Disney World.” All of the
recordings here were done in Trinidad and Tobago, tho’
at times the massiveness of the ranks of steel drums
overwhelms so much it seems these were recorded in
roller rinks. In addition to the densely charted
steel drums, each track has relentless shimmying of
other percussion hustling underneath it all. The
necessary imperfections in the tuning of the drums,
is a nice twist to the mechanical precision of the
strange arrangements to these party marches.

Schumacher, Michael J. “Room Pieces” [Xi Records]

cujo   1/24/2005   A Library, CD

2 CDs’ worth of computer-controlled experimental noises with minimal organic sampling from NYC sound manipulator Michael Schumacher. Clear influences of La Monte Young, Robert Ashley, and Babbitt, not so clear philosophical influences of Cage (check out the line-up of pretentious liner notes, including some by “Blue” Gene Tyranny).
CD 1:
Room Piece XI (75:43): The 11th happening of his sound installation originally intended for a sound-proof room in his NYC gallery with 16-track full-surround sound. A quiet drone pervades. Random types of sounds/instruments interrupt at random sets of intervals based on a random assignment of the prime numbers 13, 17, 23, 29, 37, and 43. The interruptions can be extremely harsh and disturbing and sometimes they come into phase with each other for added pleasure.
CD 2:
Piece in 3 Parts (20:03): Sounds of regurgitated violin sampling, then sounds of regurgitated gong sampling, then back to sounds of violin.
Still (17:07): Quiet drone featuring some cello scrapings.
Untitled (18:13): Sine wave madness!! Loud and almost momentous, sounds unlike the rest of the offerings. For the easiest introduction to the music, start with this track.
Still (17:29): No sampling here, just straight computer clicks and clangs. Very sparse.
-Cujo in Jul 2004

Lutoslawski, Witold “Works for Orchestra, etc…” [EMI]

cujo   1/24/2005   A Library, CD

Fantastic 2-CD set of major and minor works from Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994, Vee-told Loo-toe-swov-ski). There’s the wicked and intense Preludes and Fugue for 13 strings (major work) for starters (play the Preludes by themselves if you have to, but not the Fugue by itself). Throw in his entire work for voice from the late 50s early 60s (the Michaux poemes, the 5 Songs for soprano, etc – minor works), and then the finish disc 2 with the awesome string quartet and the dazzling cello concerto. The concerto is the best work featuring cello since the Elgar concerto. This music is dark, very intense, and engaging. Witold practically defines ‘postwar?.
-Cujo in Nov 2004

Various – “Soloists Ensemble of the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra” [coll] – [Melodiya]

cujo   1/24/2005   A Library, CD

Pop quiz, hot shot: Name any Russian composer of the post-Shostakovich generation. KFJC gives you a small sampling of what happened. These 4 offerings are all written for the ‘Pierrot? ensemble popularized by Stravinsky: just 16ish different instruments.
Edison Denisov (dead 1996): SUN OF THE INCAS (20:04): 3 laments for soprano, each preceded by short energetic drum and bell-filled preludes. Exceedingly sad.
Alfred Schnittke (dead 2001): THREE MADRIGALS (7:44): Very subtle, unflashy Schnittke. Soprano sings modern German poetry in French, then German, then in English. Not as sad as the Denisov. Dag.
Sofia Gubaidulina (alive): CONCORDANZA (11:36): Sofia will likely emerge as 20th century’s greatest female composer. This is a rumbling and introspective instrumental.
Tigran Mansurian (alive): TOVEM (9:10): Armenian witchcraft. Some jazzy brass, much more upbeat.
-Cujo in Nov 2004

Gramme – ?Pre-release? – [Output Recordings]

Hunter Gatherer   1/23/2005   A Library, CD

This EP was recorded in 1997, not released until 1999, and then re-released in 2004. So the name ‘Pre-release? is supposed to be a joke, I guess. A previous 7″ and this EP appear to be the entire oeuvre of Gramme.

Gramme is Luke Hannam, who plays drums and bass, and Sam Lynham, who provides vocals – and also plays bass. After listening to this release several times, ‘I’m pretty sure that Sam is a woman. Output Recordings head Trevor Jackson also lent a hand.

This is some danceable, bass-heavy (natch), punk funk with a DIY, home-recorded feel. It reminds me a lot of the !!! that we added around the middle of 2004. Stand out tracks are 4 and 5. Enjoy and don’t hurt yourself while listening.

Instrumentals: 1,3

–Hunter Gatherer

Sixtoo – ?Body Ache Summer (EP)? – [Ninja Tune] – (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   1/23/2005   10-inch, A Library

Sixtoo is the prolific Canadian producer Robert Squire. We have a few of his many other releases filed under both Hip Hop and A Library. This is his third release on Ninja Tune.

This EP continues the dark, downtempo direction of his previous full-length Chewing On Glass and Other Miracle Cures sampling live musicians instead of records, laying down fat, slow beats, and permeating each track with a sense of dread.

Though only three tracks are listed on the back, there are six ‘songs? total.

A1: The first side is instrumental and made up of two main parts with a ‘bonus beat? coda that would be ideal to talk over on a quick break. The first part has a repeated theme, and the second part long string chords throb over the beat. This is somewhere between modern classical and hip hop.

B1: A quick song with loud drums and some synth sounds.

B2: Two songs from Chewing on Glass? separated by silence and remixed by Anticon artist alias featuring Sixtoo on the mic and some doodle-y harpsichord(!).

Language: B2 (Funny Sticks):?’shoved it up his ass? though it is unclear what is being shoved.

Rhetorical question: Why isn’t Michael Tilson Thomas working with new artists like Sixtoo who are putting out interesting music instead of Phil Lesh and Wynton Marsalis?

–Hunter Gatherer

Asa-Chang & Junray??Jun Ray Song Chang??[The Leaf Label]

Hunter Gatherer   1/23/2005   A Library, CD

This music was found in the CD player of the flying saucer that crashed in 1947 near Roswell, New Mexico. Due to the Freedom of Information Act people outside of Area 51 can finally hear what extraterrestrial Top 40 radio sounds like.

It took me two weeks to play this CD past the first track, Hana, because I kept repeating the song when it would end. Fractured voice samples bubble out of slowly repeating chords one syllable at a time each one punctuated by a hit on a tabla. It sounds like it might be a requiem for a space alien.

Asa-Chang & Junray are three people: Asa-Chang, session percussionist who favors the tabla and bongo and plays trumpet on a few tracks, U-Zhaan, formally trained tabla master, and Hidehiko Urayama, guitarist and programmer of their sound system, which is called ‘Junreitronics.’
This release compiles all of their Japanese releases to date. (It was released in 6/2002.) We have their follow up EP, Tsu Gi Ne Pu, in the A library.

On this CD, you will hear trumpet, heavily distorted vocals, Casio keyboards, tabla, electric guitar, drum machines, harmonica (I think), sitar, and more. All elements – voice, percussion, and timbre – are isolated and presented out of context so that even the familiar sounds unfamiliar. Every sound on the album feels intentional and precise.

–Hunter Gatherer

Sound Tribe Sector Nine – ?Artifact? – [1320 Records]

Hunter Gatherer   1/23/2005   A Library, CD

This is the 4th studio album by STS9, and it was more than two years in the making. It will be released on February 7, 2005.

STS9 was formed in Atlanta and is based in Northern California now. The ‘Sector 9? in their name is an oblique reference to ‘Baktun 9,? a period (435-830A.D.) when the Mayan civilization was at its artistic peak and its most communal. ‘Sound tribe? refers to their vision of a collective artistic movement.

This album combines the improvisational style of a jam band with the possibilities of electronic music. Jam-tronica? The jazzy and soulful influences are deep but the music is always looking forward.

This music was not created to challenge you. It is there to help you. Imagine Blade Runner if the replicants were created to feed the poor and help the homeless.

Instrumentals: 3,4,5-7,9-15,19;Soulful female vocals: 2,8,17,18,20

Favorites: 1,4,8,17

–Hunter Gatherer

CKW Trio “The Is” [Black Hat]

Thurston Hunger   1/22/2005   A Library, CD, Format, Jazz

There’s a lot of doors into this fine release from this local
trio (and once and future veterans of KFJC’s pit). #4 offers
an acid-folk tablet of tabla, flute and bouzouki, as welcome
as it is unique on this CD. “Mondrian en Amerique” has more
complicated lines and colors than its title’s inspiration,
it’s kinda of Clusone-y in its sawing cello and giddy spurts
and stalls. On “4+#11m6m7” (known as track 7 to its friends)
a bassoon goes hunting in a forest of trinkling percussion,
bowed cello grows like shadows on the trees. “R’izhii” is a
hobo’s waltz with dixie DT’s and Klezmer shakes. “Augmented”
was my fave, very fluid, high register intertwined sax and
cello. “Iram” pumps a spastic, avant funk nicely. On #8 Alex
Kelly’s slithery cello (sounding like some analog electronics
oscillating wondrously) connects a more fiery beginning to
passages with chinese gong and sweeter pondering’s from band
and label leader, Michael Cooke. While Cooke is the obvious
sonic focal point, Kelly’s wildcard nature is what I think
elevates this band. The letter W and assorted batterie are
provided by Andrew Wilshusen, his talent is as an empath
between the other two gents. I could see him adding touches
of electronics to the mix as well. This ain’t “Was” jazz,
enjoy the evolving “Is.”

Lazzara, Marina – “Wind on the Firecracker of the Building Next Door, the songs” – [Pax Recordings]

lombard   1/19/2005   A Library, CD

San Francisco musician and poet (she’s even credentialed with a Master’s degree in Poetics) Marina Lazzara puts out a nice debut. It’s just her voice and guitar, laid down in one day on 4-track by Ernesto Diaz-Infante. It ranges from jangly to fuzzy and pissed off, with underlying break-up and bad-world-events part of her thematic inspiration. Some songs were composed before the recording session, whereas others were improvised, although you’d be hard-pressed to figure out which is which. Very nice emotional release.
-Cynthia Lombard

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