Friday, August 5th, 2008
... 6:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
(Return to playlists.)
Sub for Alma Mahler on her "Streams, Highways, and Electrical Grids"
show, which normally features a nicely eclectic mix that does
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.
Jazz Contemporaries -- "Reasons in Tonality" -- Reasons in Tonality (Strata-East, 1972)
* Satoko Fujii Trio -- "Take Right" -- Trace a River (Libra, 2008)
Piano-led free jazz, sparkling stuff with a gripping intensity. It's
accessible and often pretty, but with vicious solos and occasional crashing
interludes. Fujii, on piano, is rejoined by
Mark Dresser (bass) and
Jim Black (drums), two big
names on the New York scene. Dresser providers a great, rich sound and some
compelling solos. Black eschews traditional jazz drums for his harder, crazier
dynamics taken from rock and world influences; he's always great to hear.
* James Brown -- "There Was a Time (Kenny Dope Remix)" -- Verve Remixed 4 (Verve, 2008)
As with Myra Melford,
you'll find plenty of accessible sounds here and an unquestionably jazz-driven
I don't normally like the plasticity of hip dance remixes of old
jazz/R&B; it's like making slushee out of steak. But this one's not bad and
retains the funky spirit of James Brown, albeit in a polished, overly
commercial, electronica-muzak way.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk -- "Volunteered Slavery" -- Does Your House Have Lions (Rhino, 1993; recorded 1969)
The Pastels -- "Unfair Kind of Fame" -- Illumination (Up, 1997)
One of a few ideas I got from peeking at Alma Mahler's old
playlists. The Pastels are a longtime Scottish rock band with a
sound that, just because it's Scottish female voices, reminds me of
Cocteau Twins. The Pastels rock out more, though, from what little
* Angel Band -- "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep" -- With Roots and Wings (Appleseed, 2008)
Old-style country/folk, something a bit twangier than Alma Mahler
usually plays, but it kind of fit what I wanted to do with this set.
* Sigur Ros -- "Godan Daginn" -- Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (XL, 2008)
Sigur Ros puts on a stunning live show, with eerie film loops
complementing their foreboding, echoing sound. I have more trouble
dealing with them on records, where their pretentiousness, that
tinnitus-triggering falsetto, and the general annoyance of knowing they're
singing in a made-up language all catch up to me.
* Negativland -- "Influential You" -- Thigmotatic (Seeland, 2008)
But for this album, they've taken a strikingly acoustic path. The music
might be more bland and earthbound, to Sigur Ros fans' ears, but it's
got a charm that's otherwise overwhelmed by the post-'Floyd atmosphere
of their usual sound. I like it, but I don't know if I'd want to see it
live. Sorry, Sigur Ros, you just can't win with me.
The latest from our favorite local smart-alecks. This one's a more
song-oriented album, versus the sampling art that's dominated their recent
work, but the sampling's still there. This one, an amusing quasi-breakup
song, is backed by a country guitar loop that doesn't quite meet up,
which lets you know you're hearing a sample (and, if you think too hard,
drives you insane).
Of particular note, though, is the opening track, "Richard Nixon
Died Today." It's a big-sound pop song with lots of Nixon samples. It runs
at a slow anthemic pace but it's quite ear-catching.
* Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog -- "For Malena" -- Party Intellectuals (Pi Recordings, 2008)
* Adrian Orange and Her Band -- "You're My Home" -- Adrian Orange and Her Band (K, 2007)
Tropical indie rock, maybe? With a touch of '60s/70s soul. Male vocals
and a kind of West African/Caribbean band with horns, generous percussion, and
girly backup singers. Tempos are upbeat but the songs feel downcast --
protest-minded lyrics matched to forget-your-troubles beats. An unpolished
sound, like it's truly a band of the streets, with horns nicely
out of step sometimes.
Vocals are raw and shaky, which adds some nice texture, but on a couple tracks
it gets just unbearable.
* Revolutionary Snake Ensemble -- "Minor Vee" -- Forked Tongue (Cuneiform, 2008)
Adrian Orange is male, by the way. The phrase "Her Band" is just there to mess with us, I guess.
* Spiritualized -- "Soul on Fire" -- Songs in A & E (Sanctuary, 2008)
* My Brightest Diamond -- "Apples" -- A Thousand Shark's Teeth (Asthmatic Kitty, 2006)
Shara Worden's epic, exotic pop project returns for what I think is her
second "real" full-length album (not counting remixes or rarity compilations).
Her singing, with its trace
of accent, is like a melancholy Bjork, piling on the drama.
The backing band
includes all manner of symphonic instruments; strings are on every track, and certain
songs give starring roles to bassoon, harp, french horn, bass clarinet, or
harp. Production is expensive and heavy, creating lush and serious
backdrops. Very well done, but you need to be in the mood for this album's
expanse of sounds and the self-serious mindset. Otherwise, you'll be rolling
your eyes every couple of minutes. Two exceptions are this track ("Apples,")
which has a pleasant, quirky, and direct sound not found elsewhere here -- and
"The Diamond," which comes across as a slow and straightforward rock track.
Yes, Worden comes from the Sufjan Stevens crowd, which makes everything
I just said self-explanatory. Still, this album is quite an accomplishment,
with its own mood and texture.
What's particularly nice to know is that for all the heavyhandedness of
Shark's Teeth, Worden is adaptable to smaller, eccentric formats.
Check out the simple trio playing "Disappear" on this video. I especially
love the prepared guitar, and the fact that Worden seems to be
having so much fun with this song.
* Industrial Jazz Group -- "Big Ass Truck" -- Leef (Evander, 2007)
Linda Dachtyl -- Turn Blue" -- For Hep Cats (Chicken Coup, 2008)
The phrase "hep cats" is usually a guarantee of something "unhep," but
Dachtyl -- technically Linda Dauwalder-Dachtyl -- turns out a decent
blues/jazz organ album. Straightahead stuff, no real surprises.
* Elvis Costello and the Imposters -- "Pardon Me, Madam, My Name is Eve" -- Momofuku (UMG, 2008)
A rawer sound, more gritty and rootsy, but definitely Costello rock/pop. To front the band, he's doing some good old fashioned
guitar bashing, just as you'd expect a 50- or 60-year-old rocker freed
from having to care about fashion pretenses.
? Sparks -- "Lighten Up, Morrissey" -- Exotic Creatures of the Deep (Li'l Beethoven, 2008)
Tindersticks -- "Whiskey and Water" -- Tindersticks (Bar/None, 1994)
A deep-pulsed, dark song that kicks into a melodic chorus that's got a
very '90s rock vein to it. A kind of menacing lounginess, a bar-band
sensibility that's not carelessly fun and not a dancin' good time.
-- 8:00 a.m. --
* Robert Pollard -- "Nicely Now" -- Coast to Coast Carpet of Love (Merge, 2007)
An album released simultaneously with Standard Gargoyle Decisions, and radio stations were given both in a nicely packaged 2-CD set. Pollard is releasing stuff faster than we can keep up.
Thelonious Monk -- "Monk's Dream" -- Thelonious Monk Trio (Prestige)
CD reissue from, I think, 1963 (going by memory here; I can check
the CD later). With Max Roach on drums, IIRC.
* High Places -- "Freaked Flight (Alternate Version)" -- 03/07-09/07 (Thrill Jockey, 2008)
A collection taken from the band's 7-inches; it's precursor to a debut
album that should be out sometime this year, if it's not there already.
Lo-fi female pop band with some experimental touches.
? 2 Foot Yard -- "Octopus" -- Borrowed Arms (Yard Work, 2008)
The trio from Carla Kihlstedt's
debut solo album has become a band, with
Marika Hughes (cello; of
Charming Hostess) and
(drums; also from Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog, above) contributing
singing and songwriting of their own. Their sound borrows from cabaret,
jazz, klezmer, and whatever you wanted to call
Kihlstedt's first album.
I'd like to do a more detailed review later. For now, suffice to say that
"Octopus" is a lovely and sad song, with each verse starting with
"I have three hearts..." One's for "you," one for "me," and one
"condemned." Wonderful lyrics.
* Jeff Gauthier Goatette -- "I.O.A." -- House of Return (Cryptogramophone, 2008)
Violin-led band, melodic stuff. Gentle -- yes that is Nels Cline you see on the band roster -- with some spiky, aggressive composing but a pleasant feel overall. Electric piano adds some spacey, fusiony goodness on some tracks. Like an ECM recording but with more warmth; Gauthier isn't afraid of experimenting (see track 5), but his style is accessible overall.
* Lulu Rouge -- "Ninna Nanna" -- Bless You (Music for Dreams, 2008)
I like Gauthier's music -- and I'm particularly grateful to him for running Cryptogramophone, which has produced
jazz we've received at the station in recent years. Their Web catalogue
is pretty snazzy too; check it
out. And thanks, Jeff.
A bit of Danish dance music, with a song based on a traditional
ballad, so it's not too Euro-disco.
* Ry Cooder -- "My Dwarf Is Getting Tired" -- I, Flathead (Nonesuch, 2008)
* H.E.R. -- "The Office" -- Songs About the Mysteries of Housework and Nature (Persian Cardinal, 2008)
Tales of domestic modern life -- they're not kidding with that
album title -- sung by a female voice backed with horns led by
trombonist in Phill Niblock's band. (More on Phill
here; H.E.R. has nothing
in common with his drone work.) Nicely atmospheric, low-key pop.
If I like an album, I'll go out of my way to give it one
last spin on the week it's due to leave rotation. That week came for
all three of these albums, which I wanted to promote ... but I was
going to be out of town for my regular Friday show. So, I cheated
and stuck them here.
* Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble -- "Wonder" -- Xenogenesis Suite (Firehouse 12, 2008)
* Jim Ryan -- Track 1, Untitled (recorded at the Black Dog Cafe, St. Paul.) -- The Ghost Dog Tour Compilation (Edgetone, 2008)
* Fieldwork -- "Balanced" -- Door (Pi Recordings, 2008)
* Steve Lacy -- "Forest" -- The Forest and the Zoo (ESP-Disk, 2008; orig. released 1966)
* = Item in KZSU rotation
? = Item not in KZSU library
-- Go back to Memory Select playlists.
-- Bay Area free/improv music calendar: http://www.bayimproviser.com.