Music Reviews

Leite, Gabriele – “Territorios” – [Rocinante]

aarbor   11/29/2023   A Library, CD

Gabriele Leite is from Brazil, now based in NY. She is an amazingly good classical guitarist, and is now pursuing a doctorate in music. Her playing sounds effortless although what she’s playing is clearly very challenging music. Here on her first album she tackles William Walton’s 5 Bagatelles, Edino Krieger’s Ritmata, Sergio Assad’s Sonata and Hector Villa-Lobos’ Melodia Sentimental. Listening to Gabriele play is awe inspiring. AArbor

Butcher Brown – “Solar Music” – [Concord Jazz]

aarbor   11/29/2023   CD, Soul

Butcher Brown is an outfit from Richmond, VA. This is their brand new (10th) release which consists of 2 CDs. The first is clean and the 2nd has all “explicit” tracks. Solar Music explores a variety of genres including Jazz, Hip-Hop, and R&B/Soul. The tracks are tuneful and the featured guests (usually vocalists) add interest and attitude. ‘Eye Never Knew’ features Keyon Harrold creating West Coast cosmic jazz; ‘Espionage’ showcases Charlie Hunter’s Hendrix wig-outs to summon the spectre of P-funk; and ‘MOVE (RIDE)’ introduces Londoner Jay Prince for some hipster East End disco. AArbor

Darts, The – “Snake Oil” – [Alternative Tentacles]

Dr Doug   11/27/2023   12-inch, A Library

The first thing that caught me about the Darts is the atmosphere of the music is on the darker side, like a film noir movie. If you take the attitude of a smokey, late night jazz club and cross it with a garage band, you’d get the Darts. This, their latest release is on the Alternative Tentacles label and has Jello’s fingerprints all over it. It is much more tightly produced than are their previous releases. I like it, I think it gives them more depth. However in doing that, they sacrifice some of the raw, which I loved! Costing them. But I’m a sucker for female vocals. Additionally, I love garage bands in general, as well as the Darts’ attitude. A total female slant on in your face. I love this music. I give this an 8 – If you find it used, buy it even if money is tight.

Travesura – “Messenger Pigeon” – [Nudie Records]

karma   11/23/2023   12-inch, A Library

Travesura is a project of professional skateboarder Leo Romero. This album transcends genre – there are elements of folk, alternative, rock, and alt-country. The lyrics are mostly about the dark side of love. While listening to this album, one is transported into a world where youthful mischief catches up and reality sets in. The songs vary in tempo and temperament, and the album is pensive without being wallowing or kitschy.

Nine Dog Dick – “Nine Dog Dick” – [Golden Slipper Records]

karma   11/23/2023   12-inch, A Library

Nine Dog Dick is a free jazz/rock supergroup comprised of friends of the station. Members include Matt Chandler on bass (Burmese), Doug Katelus on organ (Solo Organ), Jay Korber on drums (Ettrick), and Tom Weeks on saxophone (Murray/Sato/Weeks). This is mind-melting noise that KFJC is known for. The Hammond B3 adds a nice touch. Listen and see where the music takes you.

Ruppenthal, Stephen – “Flamethrower” – [Ravello Records]

Preston Peace   11/22/2023   A Library, CD

Bay Area trumpeter Stephen Ruppenthal, spurred on by the late Allen Strange, enlisted the help of four composer friends (including Strange) to create these five pieces for trumpet and computer, dating from 2004-2016. What they delivered vary in style, from soloing with oneself (#1), bizarre mouth sounds (#2), and whispered paranoia and bells (#3), to echoing ambiance (#4) and a three-part suite of clouds of trumpet grains (#5-7).

The first couple pieces felt overlong and grating, especially “Velocity Studies V: NGate”, with its five (six? eight??) trumpet lines all occupying the upper register of the instrument. “A Sphere of Air is Bound” involves not just buzzing vibrato trumpet, but also strange flapping mouth noises and vocalizations that evoked some of Mike Patton’s more gibbering performances.

“November Twilight” begins in a more muted – literally – vein, with muted trumpet and paranoid whispers trading space with twinkling crotales and fluttering electroacoustic elements, as full-bore trumpet phrases irregularly erupt. By the time “Misty Magic Land” comes around, its shimmering ambiance, electronic drones and gentler trumpet playing are a welcome respite from the horn onslaught. The finale “System of Shadows” also breaks up the traditional trumpet sound with granular (re)synthesis techniques, smearing the trumpet’s notes into cascades of new shapes.

Most of these were also performed live (albeit not on these recordings), allowing the trumpeter to interact and direct the computer systems in real time. Detailed liner notes from both Ruppenthal and the composers describe the composition of and inspiration for each piece, and list performances.

Fav: #4, #6

Gulch – “Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress” – [Closed Casket Activities]

Nitwit   11/22/2023   12-inch, A Library

Gulch made a name for themselves with wildly energetic shows and a savage style of metal-infused hardcore punk. Their music embraces the fiercest elements of hardcore, metal, powerviolence, crust, and whatever aggression they discovered in their playlists. A local band from Santa Cruz that represented the San Jose scene, Gulch is emblematic of the 2020s hardcore sound that is both familiar and unfamiliar, and very heavy. Even though they broke up recently, some consider them the most exciting hardcore band in years.

After a few demos and splits, Gulch released their only full-length album, Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress—eight songs of unrelenting brutal hardcore, clocking in at under 16 minutes. The tempos often shift mid-song, transitioning from heavy stomp breakdowns to grind explosions. Choppy screaming vocals keep the energy up, and everything seems coordinated to maximize the live show for both the band and the crowd.

The album kicks off with the relentless galloping first two tracks with screaming sing-alongs, then into the plodding doom of “Self-Inflicted Mental Terror” that’s interspersed with short bursts of chaos. The album finishes with a kick-you-in-the-teeth cover of a Siouxsie and the Banshees song. Hardcore lives ⚒️

Sabres of Paradise, The – “Sabresonic II” – [Warp Records Ltd]

cinder   11/20/2023   A Library, CD

Dub-influenced leftfield electronic trio comprising Andrew Weatherall, Gary Burns, and Jagz Kooner, created in the early ’90s. They took on a lot of remixing of others under various versions of the Sabres of Paradise name, eventually disbanding in 1995 after only having 3 releases of their own. Weatherall went on to form another excellent project, Two Lone Swordsmen. This is one of my favorites early-mid ’90s type of techno sound. Rolling rhythms, computer percussions, fun effects… Meat Beat Manifesto, Nightmares on Wax, The Orb, Orbital all fall into this same sort of funnel for me. Track 7 starts with a little John Carpenter vibes.

Higher Intelligence Agency, The & Biosphere – “Polar Sequences” – [Beyond]

cinder   11/20/2023   A Library, CD

Created in October of 1995, as part of the annual Polar Music Festival. Geir Jenssen of Biosphere and Bobby Bird of The Higher Intelligence Agency, were commissioned by Nor Concerts to
collaborate together on a musical project to take place in Geir’s home town of Tromso, Norway. They were told to create sounds with the machinery of the local mountain: cable lift, the snow, the ice and such. What you have is very gloomy but beautiful icy textured electronics and ambient drones that summon the feel of soft snowflakes on your nose.

Leif Elggren – “Arranging For An Opening Of A Teleport To Shangri-La” – [NO PART OF IT]

Nitwit   11/15/2023   A Library, CD

Active since the late 1970s, Swedish conceptual artist Leif Elggren’s work in Minimalism spans performance and installation. His music often serves as a soundtrack to carefully selected source media that is stretched to ridiculous lengths.

In his 1998 piece, Arranging For An Opening Of A Teleport To Shangri-La, Elggren takes a two-second clip from the Frank Capra film Lost Horizon and stretches it to 42 minutes. In this particular moment, the characters cross the frigid mountains of Tibet into the calm warmth of Shangri-La—a scene that resonated with the young artist during his unsettled childhood. He wanted to capture this moment of transformation and extend it for as long as possible.

As a listening experience, it’s what you might expect if you used a reel-to-reel tape recorder to stretch two seconds of sound into one 42 minute track. A subdued murmur of doom, accompanied by dark, rumbly tape noise, is almost inaudible at times (for the first 10 minutes, I had to check my speakers). There are occasional mechanical noises and clicks from the reel-to-reel machine throughout. I can’t say that it picks up, but here are some highlights: At 23 minutes, there is a metallic dragging sound; you can kinda hear a faint beeping at the 26-minute mark; maybe a few tones 29 minutes in, and the slow, growly vocals at 37 minutes really brings everything together.

Good luck with this dark, droney art project.

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