Music Reviews

Berrocal, Jacques – “Catalogue ” – [Alga Marghen]

Thurston Hunger   2/17/2006   A Library, CD

You get the feeling that a microphone comes on mysteriously
at points in Berrocal’s life. Whether he’s playing his music,
directing hodge-podge big bands, or at times the case here,
making involuntary sounds with his mouth (wheezing, gargling
coughing, vomiting, laughing, moaning). If anything connects
this excellent array of variety, it is a handful of vocal
(and nasal? gastric?) eruptions? Check out #6, #12 and #14
for three amazing exmaples of these. Love the subway pocket
trumpet ride on #20, which reminded me of “Vivants” from
Chazam & Monsieur Gadou! On other spots, it sounds like just
the sound of a subway itself is being surveild with monotone
paging voice of the god of civil service? CD takes another
turn through the turnstiles on #25, with some slithery 666
sorcery. This amazing auditory found sound adventure leaves
me at a loss for words… -Thurston Hunger

Colley, Joe – “No ” – [Cip]

Thurston Hunger   2/17/2006   7-inch, A Library

Sound unit crawler installer, Joe Colley gets a gig at a tony
junior college in San Luis Obispo. That’s almost as cool as
the work he created… This release is brought to you by the
letter N and the letter O, and as a parent I’ve learned that
N. O. means a whole lot more than NO. What seems like a one
track mind, is really a two track tape configuration, slap
them together and what do you get. A key here is the sound
of the whistling gears driving the tapes around, they
wheeze easily in and speak to you as much as the accidental
English. About half-way through I remember thinking this
should have a locked groove, and of course Colley’s too
cool for school and has that covered. Try pitch-shifting
that little loop o’ infinity around and see if you can
squeeze some EVP out of it. I got “Dude a la Food” one night
around 2 am and 53 rpm. Your results may vary. Viva Colley
and odd ball installations at Junior Colleges, municipal
libraries and hotel lobbies all across this art-hungry
country! PS Check out the photo from the exhibit as well,
included with this one-sided 7″. -Jon Anderson/Steve Howe

Panda Bear – “I’m not ” – [Uunited Acoustic Record C]

Thurston Hunger   2/17/2006   7-inch, A Library

Gregorian Maori mix in glass pipette organ on the A-side.
Bleached Beach Boy slow motion cheerleading session chases
a handclap metronome into outer space on the flip? Look out
for the drone at the end of single, a frog humming in a piano?
Part of the equation here may be vox humana = pax humana?’ If
this ain’t cloud-watching music, then I don’t know what is.
Love the bouncing forward/backward echo before that drone
on “Comfy in Nautica”. This is pretty heavenly, washed up
in Atlantis on sunny day. And for those keeping score, the
label’s yet to miss! -Thurston Hunger

Mammal – “Let Me Die ” – [Animal Disguise]

Thurston Hunger   2/17/2006   12-inch, A Library

Bass transmissions jammed, overloading the undertones and
overmatching a wind-up drum machine. This delivers noise that
burroughs and kicks scratchy signals out while it does so,
emitting more pulses than beats. Maybe even some EMR going
on here as well, crazy electronics have a way of come up
through the fissures of Detroit. At times listening to this
felt like being in an electric oven, I felt I could hear the
coils charged up, the iron popping atom by atom, and I could
taste the thick heat. The last track thins it out a bit, but
overall little deviation from the dungeon here. Maybe adjust
the rpms to take your own spin out of this din’ Not sure
where the gripping title Gary Beauvais chose, comes from?
Is it a plea from the torturer, or the torturee? -Hunger

Casiotone for the Painfully.. – “Twinkle Echo ” – [Tomlab]

Max Level   2/14/2006   12-inch, A Library

CFTPA is Owen Ashworth, a twenty-something singer/songwriter who brings us “tiny, honest tragedies in the lives of fairly average young people” (his words). He accompanies himself with electronic keyboards, distorted tones, and Casio beats. Super-simple, solid, chord structures. When all is said and done, it’s Ashworth’s lyrics that stay with me. They’re small in scope, possibly a bit nerdy, and among the most romantic I’ve ever come across. He’s listless but hopeful as he sings about lovers, dreamers, and loners. It’s all so sad but true. Outstanding, distinctive songwriting.

Mouthus and Axolotl – “12/25/04 ” – [Olde English Spelling Bee]

Max Level   2/14/2006   12-inch, A Library

Yep, recorded on Christmas Day? East-coasters Brian and Nate of Mouthus have collaborated before with West-coaster Karl of Axolotl, and here they are hooking up again for two crazy, side-long, abstract raga-like excursions. A good guess would be that it’s mostly guitars used here, but with some of the sounds it’s hard to tell what is doing what. The yellow side, at 19 minutes, leans more toward laid-back and quiet, though it does have moments of tension. The green side, at 20 minutes, seems more agitated, heavy on what sounds like fuzz bass. If you enjoy ringing, fuzzy, reverberated loops, you’ll get your money’s worth here. I liked both sides equally for deep listening, but found the green side’s energy better for running around doing housecleaning.

Instant Automatons, the – “Another Wasted Sunday… ” – [Messthetics]

Max Level   2/14/2006   A Library, CD

A collection of catchy but strange 1978-82 material from this underground UK avant-blues-pop-rock band, presented by Automatons frontman Mark Lancaster. Their specialty was lo-fi, DIY social commentary, originally released mostly on cassette, sometimes on 7″. Lancaster talk/sings, backed by distorted guitar, bass, and the world’s cheapest drum machine. Many of the tracks rock out in a nice low-budget way, while others lean more toward weird echo and dub effects. Some unreleased recordings here amongst the selections culled from the band’s releases and compilation appearances. Track 20 was written back in the day but never recorded, so Lancaster plays and sings it now, doing all instruments himself. The liner notes are informative and amusing.

Redressers, the – “To Each According… ” – [Free Porcupine Society]

Max Level   2/14/2006   CD, Jazz

Local acoustic chamber-jazz quartet features an unusual combination of instruments and an all-star lineup: Devin Hoff plays upright bass superbly and wrote all of the material; his Good For Cows bandmate Ches Smith provides his usual (or unusual?) light-handed drumming; Carla Kihlstedt, evidently able to play the pants off any style of music that crosses her path, is on violin; and Marika Hughes’ cello carves out a nice space between the bass and violin. The all-instrumental compositions are intricate and demanding, yet fun to listen to. In addition to the great musicianship of all concerned, what’s obvious here is that, as a composer, Devin Hoff is a talent to watch. The up and coming Free Porcupine Society label scores again with another interesting, offbeat project.

Doyle Electro-Acoustic Ens. – “Conspiracy Nation ” – [Qbico]

Max Level   2/14/2006   12-inch, Jazz

Brilliant jazz, but in the weirdest sort of way. Arthur Doyle plays sax and flute, and throws in some nonsense vocals from time to time. The sound of the Ensemble is in constant flux; it’s a crazy stew full of abstract bebop, loose improv, and electronic washes. Doyle calls it “free jazz soul music”, and that about covers it, if such a thing includes Sun Ra-style spaciness and samples crackling along in the background. There are several places where Doyle lets the band do their thing and he doesn’t play at all, the sign of a savvy bandleader in my book. Recorded live at two clubs in upstate NY. The sound is muffled and distant, though; from what I have heard, he records his performances with a portable cassette recorder. Doyle’s a true original. You gotta check this out.

Masakatsu, Takagi – “Eating 2 ” – [Karaoke Kalk]

Max Level   2/14/2006   12-inch, A Library

A really cool one-man recording project by video/sound artist Masakatsu, who is new to me. These short-ish, all-instrumental pieces are pleasant, colorful, and on the funky side. Addictive. Masakatsu plays a lot of keyboards and percussion, and I think I hear vibes, horns, and some other instruments. Or it might be that he’s giving us well-done keyboard equivalents of those. Imagine French Paddleboat gone jazzy. Probably the easiest review I’ve done for KFJC. I mean, what’s not to like?

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