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Prem's Faves for 1999
{no particular order}
KUSF San Francisco, 90.3 FM
Band/Artist Release Record Label Prem's Spew
Adult Rodeo The Kissyface Shimmydisc hyper-nerd hick Americana/rock interspersed with bingety boingey experimentalism and a heavy dose of zaniness; absurdity with a wink and a smile
Agness Love, Alice (Self-Released) creepy, murky, twisted tunes from this SF band envelop you in layer upon layer of dense fog; the depths of disembodiment
All Scars Introduction to Humanity Southern/Slowdime tweaky skronky noizjazz-infested rock that carves a path through jackhammer experimentalism and hard-core weirdness, dragging you along for the ride; constructive destruction
Aston 'Familyman' Barrett Cobra Style Heartbeat/Rounder collection of tracks spanning the career of this masterful reggae bassist and musical director of the Wailers, joined by a powerful team of allies; his deftly arranged basslines, sprinkled with syncopation and never redundant, add character to all of the 16 tracks included here--make sure to listen with some powerful woofers to fully appreciate Barrett's style
Beth Capper Complimentary Mood Enhancer Win Records a maelstrom of sound, with elements of rock, noise, beats, pop, and insanity--all of which threaten, at any moment, to thoroughly disintegrate one another yet somehow manage to maintain a restless balance; a dizzying ride in an industrial-strength clothes dryer [1998 release]
Necati Celik Yasemin {Classical Turkish Oud Music} 7/8 Music dynamic yet intricate compositions on the oud--a middle eastern lute; at some times stately and forceful while at others ominous or ghostly [1998 release]
Chicago Underground Trio Possible Cube Delmark reserved jazz with a touch of strangeness; the texture of the material included here fluctuates between density and sparseness while unusual elements such as organs and electronics appear briefly and then recede into the background to await further calls to attention
The Core Ensemble Bending the Light New World dark, lurking classical chamber music for piano, percussion, and cello featuring compositions by Ross Bauer, Peter Lieuwen, Marjorie Merryman, Judith Shatin, Marilyn Shrude, Dan Welcher; these pieces intersperse creeping eerieness with brisk interplay in a stylistically unusual manner--if you're looking for some nice pleasant classical music to play in the background while sipping tea and impressing your fair-weather friends with your latest worldly acquisitions, look somewhere else
Demi Semi Quaver Demi Semi Quaver Ten 23 ultra-frenetic rock bridling with elaborate smash'n'clang percussion, shock-wave electronics, and accordion attacks and featuring a mind-boggling vocalist who sings in a language that she and only she understands, though many have tried to decipher it; eccentric dementia [1998 release]
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band Buck Jump Mammoth funky, toe-tapping r&b/bebop-infused New Orleans jazz from a band that leaves many of its stodgier peers in the dust; one of the most amazing elements here is a sousaphonist from hell who literally blows away most anyone you've ever heard on this tuba-related instrument and lays a heavy yet intricate framework for the ample improvisation of the other band members, each of whom accepts his challenge with style
Iancu Dumitrescu, Ana Maria Avram, Chris Cutler, Tim Hodgkinson with the Hyperion Ensemble Musique '98 ReR/Recommended a tempestuous conflagration of jolting electronic music with unforgiving acoustic instrumentals, lying somewhere on the fringe of classical music; though Dumitrescu acts as conductor and the other musicians as an ensemble with soloists, don't be fooled--these performances will frighten small children into silence
Steve Eto Steve Eto Boogaloo electro-percussive experimentalism melds with cinematically obsessive pseudo-rock and a healthy dose of wry goofy mischief; freaky futuristic forays from the percussionist of Demi Semi Quaver (see above) and a number of other genre-bending bands [1998 release]
Guitar Wolf Jet Generation Matador raucous punk brings in elements of HR+garage for a mind-numbing kick in the pants (butt-numbing, maybe?); every track screams
Houses Death of the Celebrity (Self-Released LP) heavily distorted depraved concoctions in the context of rock; feigned whimsy collides with horror for a bizarre outcome
Huun-Huur-Tu Where Young Grass Grows Shanachie traditional Tuvan throat-singing including on-horseback renditions of age-old lyrical poetry and reservedly applied elements of modernism on occasion; Huun-Huur-Tu employs a full range of Tuvan percussive and stringed instruments, such as the bowed igil, xomuz mouth harp, and tungur bass drum
Hoppy Kamiyama and Bradford Reed The Bubbleman Horen a low-key overlapping of heavily percussive experimental weirdness with space-rock environments and science-fiction computer scapes; though on the surface it appears that everything will soon suddenly fly apart at the seams, each track develops a keen, unexpected sense of direction
[various] The Last Famous International Gluttons Snow-donia piquant absurdities from various locations around the globe, all concerning food--included with this compilation is a cook book in which each band presents its own unique recipe, presumably upon which its song focuses; bands such as Diledadafish, Doctor Nerve, The Rudy Schwartz Project, Phnonpenh Model, Fat Elvis and others appear while nonsense and intellectualism converge
Melvins The Bootlicker Ipecac spooky, whispery hard rock with a low-key attitude, unusual song structures and a hint of the seventies; invokes premonitions of impending doom
[various] Miniatures Concretes Empreintes Digitales brief electronic pieces that inspire severe dyslexia; since each of these 20+ tracks is limited to three minutes in length, each respective composer must concentrate his or her ideas which might otherwise have been afforded a broader palette--the music develops turbulently yet retains its consistency [1998 release]
Robert Normandeau Figures Empreintes Digitales complex electronic compositions with an air of spontaneity, bringing into play pianos, synthesized sound motifs, freaked-out vocal tweakage, creaks 'n' groans of all kinds, and a plethora of other sounds; scholarly disturbances of the tonal spectrum
Pamberi Steel Orchestra Classics in Steel Rituals a huge ensemble of steel drummers from Trinidad churns out startling renditions of such unlikely compositions as Rossini's William Tell Overture and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, as well as a handful of calypso pieces to please those who seek something just a bit more traditional; a very unusual employment of this type of band which still puts a smile on your face even as you appreciate its complexity
Pinback Pinback Ace Fu eerie meandering poppish rock strangitude; Rob Crow, formerly of Heavy Vegetable, teams up with a former member of Three Mile Pilot to create unimposing tunes that gurgle along quietly yet hold your attention with odd harmonic and melodic developments as well as Crow's characteristically peculiar vocals
Pineal Ventana Malpractice Unit Circle Rekkids snarling rock marked by growling vocals, malevolent saxophone, driving drums, and bass/guitar shrapnel; taking a new direction on this release, the band also adds dark electronic backgrounds and effects to supplement an already brooding atmosphere
[various] Point of Yucca Volume Two Yucca Tree looney-toons experimental pop/rock/etc. from bands such as Pop Dell 'Arte, Schrodinger's Cat, Noble Gas, In Between Noise, and others which delves deeply into the absurd and throws together ideas in a manner approximating dorky chaos; many of the artists here pretend to be idiots savants, but after a few listenings you'll see through the veneer--this stuff is crazy, but not stupid [1996 release]
Pop-Off Tuesday Pop-Off Tuesday Pickled Egg twerpy rock that continually distorts your perception of reality versus illusion; seemingly incoherent sounds and ideas quietly glide into and out of the background of each piece, making for innocent songs that relate a distinct sense of uneasiness yet maintain an air of naivety [1998 release]
Ned Sublette and Lawrence Weiner Monsters from the Deep Excellent/Qbadisc peculiar easy-going tunes that incorporate influences from Latin jazz to acappella to folk to R&B to cabaret and beyond, all with a wry, hokey sense of humor; a number of other musicians, including The Persuasions and Kim Weston, join Sublette and Weiner to lend subtly distinct personalities to each track, though a musically laid-back nature pervades all of them [1998 release]
L. Subramaniam Global Fusion Warner Classics/Erato classical Indian music interpreted on the violin, joined in interactive duets by instruments from other cultures such as the Koto (Japan), Erhu (China), and Flamenco guitar (Gypsy), among others; however, this is not simply a collage of cultures but an integration, since Subramaniam and his peers (including localite Miya Masaoka) not only present their own musical heritage but also interpret and mimic each others' styles to create hybrid pieces which envelop a variety of perspectives in a single vision
U.S. Maple Talker Drag City slithery, seemingly dishevelled rock in which musical concepts continually coalesce and disperse in a manner that seems arbitrary, but isn't; quietly gutteral vocals and unstructured drumming lend themselves to the mood of all the tracks here, whether ballistic or reserved
Uz Jsme Doma Uprostred Slov {In the Middle of Words} Skoda re-release of this band's first full-length release from 1990, along with a bonus disc of live material from more recent performances; nippy saxophone joins jabbery rock for a delivery that's both edgy and poised at the same time [1998 release]
Who Killed Teacher? Zelie (Self-Released CD-R) murky, looming rock sometimes tending towards metal and incorporating unexpected elements such as a southern jamboree which appears on one of the tracks; eerie to harsh
Yat-Kha Dalai Beldiri Wicklow Tuvan throat-singing augmented with other nontraditional influences, sometimes even approaching metal; not for philosophical discussion
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