KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Fursaxa “Trobairitz Are Here From Venus” [self released]

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

Did you know that troubadors only referred to males, a
woman would be a trobairitz? Me neither. Tara Burke is
female, she is “Fursaxa” and she might not be human. A
galactic gypsy coasting through nebulae of sound. Pump
organ bellows send solar winds breathing neath Burke’s
drone-vox. Stilled syllables don’t let the words pass,
emotions do float by. This seems like the home-game
version of Ligeti. One woman chorus mushrooms out of
the alignment of air in organs and lungs. That heavy
atmosphere contracts some on “Backwards Alchemy” as
guest sorcerers are summoned, and space is opened up.
In particular, the severed fire extinguisher bells
of Matt Shiley really shimmer. Track three also has
some guitar feedhowlback. This is an all-live CDR
work pre-dating the outstanding and more diverse
“Madrigals in Duos” we’ve recently added.

London, Frank “Scientist At Work [Tzadik]

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

Originally a limited self-release in 1999, now back after
some cosmopolitan surgery. Powerful overdubs added by
people like violinist Mark Feldman and vocalist Jennifer
Charles still retain that inherent crazy casbah (meets
caballah) sound. Many of the Shekhina Big Band are also
Hasidic New Wavers, but this release forsakes rock for
sand. Less chunky, more drifty. Horns and guitars are
blown about by wind, more seductive and shape-shifting.
“Alef” and its palindrome “Fela” are more bounce and
sunshine, I prefer the other darker tracks, especially
Feldman’s jagged violence in the shadows of #6. In
mixing middle eastern sounds and instruments with an
NYC jazz/rock duality, London has found his calling…
as have others, Matt Darriau’s work in this vein flies.
Is it time for “Nomad Wave New York”

Fortune, Sonny/Harper, Billy/Cowell, Stanley/Workman, Reggie and Hart, Bill “Great Friends” [Evidence]

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

Originally this came out on Black and Blue records back in
1986. The interplay of Sonny Fortune (alto) and Billy Harper
(tenor) is the magnet to this release. On “Cal Massey” and
“Thoughts” they double down on a strong melody to make it
unbreakable. On “Synapse” a hanging phrase is repeated over
and over by Harper to allow Fortune to mingle with it, and
solo over it. Reggie Workman is nimble fingered as showcased
on “East Harlem Nostalgia.” When this album cooks it is
thanks to Workman connecting with drummer Billy Hart. Hart
gets to launch “Insight” w/ a minute of iced roll and crash;
that track seems to be in a rush to complete. The album then
closes with “Awakening” which seems like it will be a lonely
soliloquy for Fortune, but after a beautifully desolate
minute and a half, he is joined by his “Great Friends.” In
a way I preferred the isolation even more.

Faun Fables “Family Album” [Drag City]

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

Little house on the scary prairie? Dawn (“the Faun”)
McCarthy and Nils Frykdahl are the yin and yang of the
Fables, a duo above and beyond the music. Dawn’s voice
is a hand that can caress, Nil’s edginess files the
nails of that hand with fine serrations. As such, this
album is never a fa-la-la folk album, there’s a dark
beauty to every song, like a raven perched on a nurse’s
shoulder. “Joshua” debuted on a KFJC comp several years
ago, a lovely song, surely he was a lovelier boy. With
the album and song titles, a familiar concept emerges,
especially as Dawn’s Mom appears in word and waves.
Nils’ tracks, #4 and #11, are howlingly hyperdramatic,
think the Thin White Duke doing stand-up?’ And Dawn
is no namby-pamby Bambi, the “Fear March” is a clanky
coronation, her voice can stretch to strident. On a
couple of pieces she’s like the illegitimate daughter
of Robert Plant. Hawaiian Five-O Techn-O on “Eternal,”
the I-am-Cassie-hear-me-roar wonder on “Nop of Time.”
Eerily gorgeous, fearless release!

Eyvind Kang “Virginal Co-ordinates” Ipecac

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

Steady beauty abounds on this album…from the twin pools at
the start blending tambura drone and slow Gavin Bryars-style
frozen strings and never stalling. Himalayan melodies waft in
and out of pieces, power drones fill in spaces, chamber ache
and faint gypsy joy comingle. All however do so in utmost
subtlety. Mike Patton’s voice treatments are most sublime.
The Yamantanka-tantra chant that breaks through the pizzicato
popcorn on “Doorway to the Sun” could have been overheard on
an astral plane between Terry Riley and Sun Ra. Turn that track
up to the heavens. A lot of movements use a simple repeating
note or two from various instruments to add to the overall
hypnotic halo. Some pieces track, and indeed all were recorded
live in 2000 at the Angelica Festival in Bologna, Italy. The
crowd was rendered speechless and immobile, unable to clap or
cough or do anything to break the spell of this fantastic
performance. You could call this modern classical, but it
might just be ancient folk.

Ethiopian Modern Instrumental Songs – coll [Buda Musique]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   12-inch, Format, International

Another intoxicating reissue of Addis abadass
Ababa sounds. We get more music-to-slink-to
this time cut off from the vocal gyrations
that the other Ethiopique collections carried.
The rhythms have quick ebb-and-flow feelings,
the scales used seem to always push the
listener towards a resolution while at the
same time away from that tonic note. The
second side here moves out of the shadows
into a more jovial, or more plain ol’ R&B
area of import/export. We have many of
these renditions in alternate (somewhat
more powerful if you like those wailing
vox) versons. Still this is a quick exotic
trip. Eat it with your fingers and ears.

Espers “s/t” [Locust]

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

Philadelphia trio with KFJC ally Greg Weeks and two
lasses at his side, Meg Baird and Brooke Sietinsons.
Psych-folk here, with an emphasis on the folk. Analogous
to Low in that their pace is never rushed, while their
lyrics belie a darkness neath the beauty of the music.
Oh, and their singing is gorgeous, really a cut above!
Both in the actual melodies and male/female harmonious
interplay. With lute and flute “fragrances” accompanying
those vox we receive an unearthly blessing, this music
has a timelessness that propels it towards future DJ’s
discovery. Chamber shimmering added by autoangel on
autoharp in excelsis. With the synth pop revival these
days, powdered noses may be more in retro-vogue, but
this powdered my wig! Psycha-delicate!

Erase Errata “At Crystal Palace” [Troubleman]

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

Panic rock in extremis. At the core of math
rock behold the busy bassist…more talented
than the average lead guitarist…able to
dream in differential equations. This local
project keeps your brain in a percolator, the
rhythms remain caffiendish. Imagine a speed
freak leading an aerobics class…that is the
energy that propels this release. Adding
trumpet spray is a nice touch…lyrics may
actually be more angular than the music,
though at some times the guitars with teeth
chomp up the vocals.

Songs From the Entoptic Garden Vol. 1 – coll [Time Lag]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   12-inch, A Library, Format

The initial release (we already have V2) for this series
and for this label run by Nemo Bidstrup in Maine. Lovers
of lexicon note that ENTOPTIC as you might guess refers
to objects situated within the eye; esp. relating to the
perception of objects in one’s own eye. On this “loose”
tribute to Popol Vuh, Drona Parva (aka label captain
Nemo) offers a solitary mote…stationary drone made
warm by the Hammond organ. On the flip side, Texas’
Ultrasound beams with two pieces, the first a true
Popol Vuh cover. Shimmering yet very simple piano (is
lingering pedal and sustain the key to the late
Florian Fricke’s success?) The second maintains that
spell-binding dignity, but again I’m a bit pressed
to figure out its source. A melody is repeated with
a lot of space and very subtle variation from point
to point. There again does seem to be a halo around
the sound (harmonium?). At least Ultrasound gives
the Popol what they want.

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