KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Mirah “C’mon Miracle” [K Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/29/2004   A Library

Mirah, Mirah on the wall, whose Cat has the most Power of them
all? Acoustic guitar, triple espresso, librarian loosening up,
songcraft here won’t disappoint the K Recs kognoscenti. Mirah
is Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, she has spent time in the Microphones
and Phil Elvrum is on board here to engineer. Indeed “Look Up!”
gets the M’s squelchy drum trademark sound. Splatch splatch.
The percussion here is often painted pinpoint perfect to expand
the plaintiff songs at their centers. Other peculiar touches
are added (although nothing quite as cinematic results as the
lush treatment found on the recent “Cold, Cold Water 7”.) But
this is nowhere near overproduced, indeed great restraint is
used more often than not, “You’ve Gone Away Enough” has these
nice breathy verses a la Kate Bush’s illegitimate daughter.
Really this is more power folk, than pop…while the songs are
short they canter, never gallop. Horse Power? Even the album
title sounds like a shout to show at the sweeepstakes.

Kyriakides, Yannis “a conSPIracy cantata” [Unsounds]

Thurston Hunger   4/28/2004   A Library, CD, Format

The premise is promising to me at least, searching for a
connection between Conet style transmissions and the Delphic
Oracle. Something about a human voice, or in this case two,
that tends to make the more difficult music at KFJC a little
more readily received. The piano on here is sharp, and notes
are dropped on what feel like curves plotted algorithmically.
Static blurts and morse meanderings add signal strength to the
sparse “symphony.” Tracks #4 and #5 stood out for me. #6 adds
a Latin air to the proceedings. The two other compositions
feature a slow gyroscopic drone (#7) and the last track is a
new sort of insect killer, it lures them out onto a dancefloor
of sorts where they tiptoe between spiked heels and bopping
boots. Bravo Echo Bravo!

Motor “Freeze ” [Kuroneko]

Thurston Hunger   4/1/2004   A Library, CD, Format

I’ve always been one to prefer waves to beats, and this
album laps at your ears. It’s as if the tips of more
abrasive noises and rhythms were snipped off, and this
slides in under the barbed wire surrounding the dance
floor. At times, a liquid ebb and flow ala the tides
and timings of Basic Channel works its way in. Other
than that here you are placed in a desolate factory,
hearing the hum and whirr of machines behind closed
doors. One item of note, evidently the man behind the
wheels and knobs of Motor is working out of Moscow?’
Or maybe not, more mystery to add to the metal mist.

Magic is Kuntmaster “Night Songs for Ugly Children” [Nihilist Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/1/2004   A Library, CD, Format

Camilla Ha is the woman behind the Magic. Working out
of Chicago these days and coming in with a sound that
has sort of the reverb-drenched vocal stylings of the
Ventricle label blended with digital depth charges.
I think she plays a midi-bass with a maxipad. This CD
is sonically dense…although the instrumentation is
sparse. Her singing is more whispery muttering, like
Julee Cruise singing to you through pipes after being
abducted and kept in an underground reservoir. It’s not
as colorful as its packaging, more fashionably drab. I
dig this in an urban decay and dismay way. “Sea Squid”
and the “Lullaby” are made of less heavy mettle, more
bubbles in those. If you’ve heard of bands “Foamula”
and “My Name is Rar Rar” then you are already familiar
with Ms. Ha, so why are you reading this? Depress play.
Let the music be your Kuntmaster…

Verdure “Cross and Satellite Station” [Lexicon Devil]

Thurston Hunger   3/31/2004   A Library, CD, Format

Wordy-gurdy poem-ramble drift-rock. Second generation
hippy, Donovan Quinn is up Walnut Creek without a
sandalwood incense stick. Laconic, ironic vocals over
strumbly guitar gets to the heart of most of these songs.
Occasionally something spikes that heart, like electric
spiders that string out on #3 and #5! Track #7 adds
piano treacles and melodica trickles then ends with
heavy breathing accidental beatbox. On #9, guitar drops
some wah-wah while violin delay skitters and then those
spiders return with a vengeance! Kudos for unapologetic
use of falsetto on several songs. This is a rerelease
of his initial album. From what we find here and with
connections to the Jeweled Antler Collective (Quinn
is in the Skygreen Leopards), I’m curious where his
trajectory takes him. While lyrics arrange mirrors and
vultures, this is not necessarily music to watch your
own death by?

Mylab s/t [Terminus Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/24/2004   CD, Format, Jazz

Keyboardist Wayne Horvitz went Snake Pliskin from NYC
some time ago and has helped spark a remarkable scene
in Seattle. Tucker Martine is one of the less covert
masters of the intangible, his production skills
glisten on every track here. While the album starts
out with some deep-fried rhythm and blues (not mere
watered down R&B) by the end of the album we’re no
longer in Kansas…nor New York nor Seattle. Cameo
creme from folks like gypsy Eyvind Kang (#6!!),
recent KFJC visitor Skerik, former Ponga pal Bobby
Previte, Bill Frisell fret fritters. Briggan Krauss
flamethrows on the noisiest track here (#11-my fave).
Even the banjo and dobro of Danny Barnes somehow fit
into the Mylab sink. The expansive palette and crew of
cameos may prevent Mylab from reaching any consistent
orbit (soundtracks sure would be a nice experiment.)
Trust in Tucker for the touch-ups.

Pastels, the “The Last Great Wilderness” [Geographic]

Thurston Hunger   3/24/2004   CD, Format, Soundtrack

Scottish pop band led by Stephen Pastel release this
sdtk on his own label. The film, a Scottish independent
as well, gets a lot of comparisons to “The Wicker Man.”
It would be nice to see it (because of that reference &
to see how well things work here.) The cover of Sly and
the Family Stone’s “Everybody is a Star” leaves little
discernible buzz. Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker croons on the
last track. Going with the non vocal tracks I think
is the best bet here. “Flora’s Theme” gets briefly
haunted by “Tubular Bells” and “Dark Vincente” has a
sort of Harold Budd chill to it. Basically any time
the ghost of glockenspiel shows up, we get pretty
waiting-for-trouble music. Katrina Mitchell’s non
lyric vocalizing I should say are most welcome on
various tracks, and maybe that account for elements
of Wickery, but really this is a clean and curvy
soundtrack to an upscale bar with John McEntire mixing
drinks and sound. S’alright.

Boris “Akuma No Uta” [Fangs Anal Satan]

Daryl Licht   3/6/2004   A Library

Although they are not as well known as such Japanese underground
heavyweights as Fushitsusha or High Rise, Boris (yes, the name was
inspired by the Melvins? song) have been producing high quality heavy
psych/rock/doom/drone for more than a decade. The highlights of the
album are the lengthy tracks that begin each side. ‘Introduction? (on
the A-side, naturally) is an incredible, heavy feedback drenched, doom
droner. The B-side’s, ‘Naki Kyoku? is a heavy psych epic that features
some awesome guitarwork. The remaining four, shorter tracks are all
heavy rockers, with some being in the slow grind vein and others
being more punkish, up tempo scorchers. Stylistically, this is certainly
their most varied release to date and, perhaps, their best, as well. Play!
DL

Fursaxa – “Madrigals in Duos ” – [Time-Lag]

Daryl Licht   2/23/2004   12-inch, A Library

Fursaxa is the (mostly) solo project of Tara Burke, a Philadelphia resident
who has been intriguing us for years now with her efforts in a number of
groups, most notably, Un. On ‘Madrigals In Duos? , her third full-length
release, she displays all the required skills to earn her ‘acid folk? merit
badge. Some tracks are more straightforward, in a lo-fi folk-psych vein,
featuring mainly acoustic guitar and vocals. Other tracks shoot straight
for the heart of that 3AM vibe, combining cosmic organ drones with
ghostly, wailing vocals. Finally, there are a couple of noisier tracks, with
dissonant electric guitars and repetitive, driving, hand percussion.
Beautiful and otherworldly music. Mandatory for play on late night shows. DL

Trans Am – “Liberation ” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

Daryl Licht   2/23/2004   12-inch, A Library

‘Liberation?, the 7th full-length release from Washington D. C.’s, Trans Am, finds
the band continuing to feature a familar mix of sonic elements – Krautrock, 80’s
Synthpop, Electro-Ambience, Punk, and Post Rock. Despite its similarity to their
previous work, however, this album represents a new pinnacle of acheivement
for the band. On ‘Liberation?, which features a strong theme of opposition to the
policies of the Bush Administration, the band has a acheived a nearly perfect
synthesis of cover art, ‘lyrical? content, and music. The cuts on this album (most
of which track) flow almost seamlessly from synth-driven Krautrock grooves to
danceable synthpop to late-night, electro-ambient pieces and driving rockers.
The combination of political soundbites/synthesized vocals and ominous
analogue sounds works perfectly to convey their damning indictment of Bush’s
war in Iraq and evoke fear of Big Brother’s ever intrusive gaze/grasp. A beautiful
record – sonically diverse and conceptually complete. Highly recommended! DL

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