Music Reviews

Shamaeezadeh, Hassan – “Parastesh” – [Caltex Records]

aarbor   10/4/2023   CD, International

Hassan Shamaeezadeh is an Iranian pop singer, composer, arranger, saxophonist and pianist. At the age of 13, he was already playing in a theater orchestra. He then played on Radio and TV programs in Tehran. He is known for playing Persian music with quarter tones on the saxophone, which is a rare skill. In the 1960’s, he was one of the first members of the popular Persian band Black Cats in which he played saxophone. This album Parastesh (which means Adoration) is from 1998. He’s now 80 and still playing music. The sound: Middle Eastern pop. AArbor

La Materia Verbal / Antologia de la Poesia Sonora Peruana [coll] – [Buh Records]

aarbor   10/4/2023   12-inch, International

An amazing collection of 22 Peruvian sound poems from 1972-2021. Sound poetry is a way to bring the sounds of speech, the poet’s own voice, music and technology together. There are poems that use montage techniques, either because they explore simultaneity or juxtaposition, [A1, B2, A9, B1, A10, B3, B7, B6, B8, A8, B11, and B12]. Others emphasize vocal performance: like the phonetic poems [A4 and A5], the concrete conceptual poems [B10, B9, B5], and the oral/guttural poem [A6]. There are also poems which start with the creation of a computational parameter or algorithm [A2 and A7], eventually using Artificial Intelligence like the poems A3 and B4. AArbor

Story of Arabic Song, The [coll] – [EMI Hemisphere]

aarbor   10/4/2023   CD, International

An excellent collection of important Arabic musicians. Famous singers: Oum Kolsoum, Fairuz, and Abdel Halim Hafez (“The Dusky Nightingale”) and Wadih El Safi. Layla Murad star of many Egyptian musical films. Oud-playing composer Farid El Atrache wrote and recorded nearly 500 songs and orchestral pieces. Mohamed Abdel Wahab and Talal El Madaah were both singers and composers. The sound: lush full orchestras, vibrant Eastern rhythms, singers spinning out emotional vocal ornamentation and texts about unrequited love. AArbor

Boris – “Heavy Rocks (2022)” – [Relapse Records]

Brian Damage   10/4/2023   A Library, CD

Every ten years, Boris likes to let their inner teenager out with an album called Heavy Rocks. 2022 was no different.

If you spent your teenage years listening to bands like Fastway, Diamond Head, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Venom, Thin Lizzy, and the like, guess what? Boris did, too.

All originals that sound like insane escapees from the golden age of pre-makeup metal (’75-’85), Heavy Rocks 2022 lets your inner headbanger out. Sung in a heavily-reverbed combination of Japanese and English, there are no FCCs that I can discern.

It’s probably going to take a certain type of KFJC DJ to play this one. I’m one of them.

Elms, Ian – “Good Night” – [Dark Entries]

cinder   9/29/2023   12-inch, A Library

“Originally released in 1982, Good Night blends Berlin school minimalism and BBC Radiophonic weirdness with the aesthetics of then-nascent DIY punk electronics throughout its fifteen short tracks.” A delightful release that bounces between no wave-esque sounding vocals with bouncy drum machines, to explorative space-time expansion dreamy synth tracks. Ian has a lovely English accent, and his voice is almost melancholy in his delivery, as is the music. Almost feels like there’s a gray cloud hanging over each track, whether in the forefront or hidden in the distance. Subtle sadness, but it’s pretty.

Interiors [coll] – [Invisible]

cinder   9/29/2023   A Library, CD

A darker side of electronics. A collection featuring members of Coil, Scorn, Tactile, Eyeless in Gaza, Mika Vainio, Pan Sonic & Annie Anxiety in various solo and/or other project forms. Drum and bass, to dark sinister drones, to industrial experimentation, and even some downtempo. Loads of rumbles, churns, hums and growling wires. I expected to have an Alien hovering over my shoulder, dripping drool down onto my back while listening, it’s got that xenomorph type of vibe.

Chancha Via Circuito – “La Estrella” – [Wonderwheel]

aarbor   9/27/2023   12-inch, International

Chancha Via Circuito is Pedro Canale from Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is his most recent release (and his 5th full length) from 2022. He’s been making music as Chancha Via Circuito since 2005. He is known for cumbia-inspired electronic music that takes cues from environmental sounds and South American folkloric traditions. The sound here is texturally rich and highly emotive but more environmental and folkloric than cumbia. The 11 songs meander between lush instrumental soundscapes and upbeat vocal numbers, all tied together by Chancha’s signature production style. A number of vocalists appear most notably the Meridian Brothers. Although much Latin music is “hot” in intensity, this is definitely “cool” in intensity. AArbor

Body Void – “I Live Inside A Burning House” – [Seeing Red Records]

whngr   9/22/2023   A Library, CD


… of doom. Slower than Sleep, darker than Sabbath, and louder than SunnO)))… the eternal quest for heaviness continues with local sludge merchants, Body Void on this release from Seeing Red records out of Cleveland, Ohio. Enormous detuned guitars ring out over crushing drums and the demonic guttural howls of despair and loss. Mostly plodding and chugging away at the pace of syrup over northern snow, there are two brief but emphatic up-tempo passages (Track 2 “Haunted” and track 3 “Trauma Creature”) crushed between behemoths of sorrow and rage and even more sparingly there are two seductive and sonorous moments on the first and last tracks respectively. This sound was my holy grail in high school with a compulsion towards Floor, Cavity, Eyehategod, Noothgrush, et al… until soon it was veritably everywhere and I got bored. Thirty years later I am trying to reconcile with my far simpler fledgling self and acknowledge that this sound still has a place in my shriveled, black and decrepit heart.

Body Void is radically left-of-center with focus on topics like gender dysphoria, oppressive legislation from the conservative right, and climate collapse at the fore. Ryan is herself non-binary/transitioning and as primary lyricist and emotional conduit for the band, is vocal about her struggles within the current gender identity paradigm and the symptoms of mental illness associated with not being at home within one’s own flesh hence the title of the album.

Once a two-piece from Vermont but now stationed in San Francisco with core members Willow Ryan (vox, guitar) and Edward Holgerson (drums) recently adding Janys-Iren Faughn on bass, touring extensively and adding full-length albums to their repertoire regularly since 2016.

San Francisco, CA – 2018 

Sutekh Hexen & Funerary Call – “P:R:I:S:M” – [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]

whngr   9/22/2023   12-inch, A Library


… to an unmade horror film. So fitting in this, our season of soot and smoke, with trees beginning to alight with the colors of fire and the donning of fearsome masks. When long shadows are cast into the depths of our primal awareness and spirits dance beneath the harvest moon, an LP/EP coalesces with sinister intentions. Rasping demonic whispers, manipulated field recordings, dark ambient drone with sparing power electronics, washes of demented synthesizer, and many other disparate sounds from impossible to decipher sources, alluring and plaintive sounds suffuse and reverberate on this haunting collaboration between two aural cognoscenti. I see disembodied faces materialize within the shadows just beyond recognition, of sultry winds that slither ominously over my face, and of the subtle bouquet of rot which sends my mind adrift… among memories that are not my own.

It bears mentioning that the feel of the work is meant to be, and is fearsome but to my ear it is as seductive and alluring as a lullaby to a swaddling babe. I am fairly confident there is something wrong with me, perhaps with you as well, as you appear to still be reading. Why is it, when the veil is at its most thin, that we feel like we most belong? Why does the promise of eternal sleep beckon so sweetly, bathed in the glow of autumn’s dying light.

Pay close attention to the indicated rpms as they are different on each side, A: 33.3, B: 45, C: 33.3, and D: 45… then dismiss the diminutive instruction entirely as the performers/composers express disdain for strict adherence to pitch and speed in an effort to encourage experimentation and manipulation of their frightful sonic entity.

Funerary Call is one Harlow MacFarlane of Vancouver, B.C. Active since the mid-nineties, extant in our library and currently exploring the art of scoring film, most recently with the outing, The Unseen (2023).

Sutekh Hexen is (for this release) Kevin Gan Yuen who is credited for design and art direction with the shared writing, composing, and producing credits along with Funerary Call. Based in Oakland, CA, Sutekh Hexen continues to evolve desirably (to my miserable ear) with an apparent focus on collaboration with many various and often macabre sources.

West Coast – 2023

Yamila – “Visions” – [Umor Rex]

Nitwit   9/20/2023   12-inch, A Library

Yamila (Ríos) is an experimental composer who blends electronics with traditional instruments and sound explorations. She began her cello studies in Spain at age seven and continued her education at the Royal Conservatory in the Netherlands, where she rebelled against institutional constraints to create her first noise pieces. Eventually, she returned to classical inspiration with a transformed perspective:

“The cello I have is mine and I can do with it whatever I want, play it however I want: tune it, play it out of tune, play it ugly or beautiful, play classical, noise, or … remain silent. The important thing is to feel myself when I play.”

Yamila’s second album, Visions, is inspired by mystic women in the Middle Ages and explores the body’s capacity to feel. It draws on Western liturgical music, Spanish flamenco, ambient electronic, and sample manipulation.

The album opens with a Baroque choral hymn that introduces Yamila’s ethereal voice before melodic electronic elements drive the song into a dramatic ambient wash. The second track continues the otherworldly sounds before succumbing to a danceable electronic groove. The third track is practically a cappella, while the fourth pairs the vocals with synth, flamenco guitar, and samples that evoke a Renaissance Faire. The fifth track returns to undulating melodic sequences with a danceable beat and climactic breakdown. The album closes with granular drones and sample manipulation, followed by more ambient tones where the cello dominates.

Melancholy medieval church music for a night out at the goth club.


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