Archive for April 29, 2015

Greg Segal – “A Handful Of Ashes” (Phantom Airship 2015, Download)

I could go on at length about Greg Segal. In the 1980s he was the guitarist in the improvisational band Paper Bag who had four albums on the SST label. And in addition to numerous other bands he has recorded a stunning array of music across numerous solo albums. The body of work is HUGE. But the responsibilities of parenthood have dictated higher priorities so it’s pretty exciting for those of us who have been following Greg’s work to get a new album after what seems like some years. And to say it’s been worth the wait is an understatement.

Greg indulges his inner Proghead on the 21 minute title track. It starts off as powerful Prog infused song. Greg has an unmistakable voice and the vocal portion carries his trademark style, which makes for a distinctive and off the beaten path Progressive Rock style. The music has a potently orchestrated sound at first, but after the initial vocal section veers into a darker Avant-Prog/RIO segment, and from there is continually transitioning. I hear bits of Canterbury, symphony orchestra, Van der Graaf Generator, ripping acid guitar solos, chamber ensemble, Carl Stalling soundtrack, Psychedelic Phantom of the Opera, Mellotron encased Free-Jazz and more. If that sounds suspiciously all over the place, note that these elements are all incorporated into a compositionally intricate narrative flow that in classic Prog spirit transitions through a continually evolving thematic sequence. The 11+ minute The Hook And The Point is similar, kicking off with a spacey sci-fi synth melody before launching into a free-wheeling chamber music/Jazz blend jam. I like the multi-layered combination of horns, strings and dissonant tension. When the music transitions to a vocal number it brings to mind a cross between Robert Wyatt and Dagmar Krause with Henry Cow/Art Bears. This is singer-songwriter music for the Avant-Prog/RIO set, and again I hear elements of Canterbury and Jazz, plus The Residents, spacey Mellotron sounds, off-kilter percussion, and another head-spinning succession of musical themes. Greg’s body of work over three decades is enormous, making it difficult to single anything out, but I have to say these are two of the most remarkable pieces of music he has ever recorded.

Rounding out the set are three shorter tunes. Simple Answers is a fun, almost Country-ish acoustic guitar and vocal number that can’t resist taking the chaotically surreal dreamland detour. Laugh Gently is a Psychedelic Blues song that’s like a cross between Peter Hammill and late period Beatles. And At The End Of The Day is a peaceful piano and vocal song that closes the set. Damn, I hope there’s more coming sooner than later.

For more information visit the Greg Segal web site at: (There’s LOTS of history and information here)
Stream and download from the Greg Segal Bandcamp site:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Will Z. – “New Start” (Mega Dodo 2015, CD/LP/DL)

My first acquaintance with Belgian musician Will Z. was through his previous band, Cosmic Trip Machine, who played a 60s/70s influenced brand of heavy Prog-Psych. On his latest album, New Start, Will plays acoustic and electric guitars, sitar, bass, piano, keyboards, synths, Mellotron, percussion and vocals, with guests on percussion, flutes, oud, vocals, and the late great Daevid Allen contributes gliss guitar to one track.

Inspired by Jain philosophy, New Start is an almost non-stop exploration from start to finish. The set opens with the 13 minute Jain Devotion (Parts I-III). After a few minutes of freaky noodling effects, a lazily grooving and nicely melodic Psychedelic tune begins, with sparse tribal percussion, flute, and spacey keys. When the vocals kick in it’s got a beautiful trippy 60s feel, though it’s also embellished with strange soundscapes and staticy drones, as well punchy spaced out synth lines. This melts seamlessly into Namo, which quickly shifts to a more energetic pace, propelled by concert piano and bass and led by choral chanting and spoken word vocals. It’s darkly trippy and the searing sitar wave cuts through the proceedings like a mild acid burn. When the music bleeds into Evil Namo we find ourselves in a firestorm of orchestral madness, with anguished howls, crashing percussion, wind tunnel drones, and general fire and brimstone chaos. For the first time things actually come to a momentary halt and then Greek Loop starts fresh, starting off with a Psychedelic Oriental theme. But it quickly transitions to a chaotic spaced out effects melee that preps things for the rhythmic Nefle, which combines wildly wah’d fuzz licks, pulsating and totally tripped out alien synth waves and ghostly effects, and carried along by a hypnotically thrumming bass groove. Wrapping up the set is the 11 minute Jain Devotion (Parts IV-V), which returns to the seductively Psychedelic album opening theme, though we’re now far deeper in exploratory space, with the music tripping along into a Psychedelic dreamland that is part acoustic, part orchestral, and with an edgy acidic sear. It eventually settles into a jam that powerfully recalls early Amon Düül II at their most freeform and spaced out. VERY intense and my favorite track of the set.

In summary, there’s a lot going on here. The album as a whole is quite a journey with all kinds of thematic twists and turns and really has to be heard in its entirety to be appreciated. The opening and closing Jain Devotion tracks hold their own as stand alones but the shorter tracks they bookend really need the strung together sum total to make sense.

For more information visit the Mega Dodo web site at:
Stream samples and purchase at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Vespero – “Fitful Slumber until 5A.M.” (R.A.I.G. 2015, CD/DL)

Vespero continue to evolve, and on their latest album, Fitful Slumber until 5A.M., they serve up one of their most compositionally and instrumentally sophisticated and exciting sets to date. The band describe the album as a “conceptual piece touching upon the theme of intricate functions of the human subconscious, dream-visions and music”.

The “intricate” and “dream-visions” descriptors certainly resonated with me throughout the set. Vespero are deep into complex Prog territory on this album, while incorporating all manner of Jazz, ethnic and Space Rock influences.

Vision 1: Ogni Fuoco consists of high energy Prog-Jazz-Space Rock. The bass and flute provide the jazzy feel, with an almost bouzouki sounding instrument injecting the ethnic vibe, and rocket propelled synths taking it all into space. The music is clearly composed and very tightly executed, but Vespero manage to maintain a loose knit feel, even drifting off into mellow soundscape segments. After that opening roller coaster ride we’ve got Vision 2: Outer Planting, which alternates between an Ambient-Prog take on traditional ethnic party music and dreamy deep space interludes, with excellent use of mandolin and a sci-fi ooo-wee-ooo keyboard melody. Vision 3: Kamzas Red Sands could be the cool grooving Space-Prog soundtrack to a sci-fi secret agent flick. Vision 4: 1507 mixes Dashes of Discipline-era King Crimson with the Jazz, ethnic and Space Rock influences that pervade throughout the album into a steadily and heavily rocking and rolling sprint to the finish line. Vision 5: Ezel blends bouncy jazzy ethnic Prog with dreamy soundscape excursions and blistering Space Rock. I like the whirling dervish ethnic vibe of Vision 6: Atil and its explosive heavy rocking spaced out Prog-Jazz that at times brings to mind a cosmically ethnic inflected Soft Machine. And Vision 7: Kidish Hail is a darkly reflective, oddly dissonant Space-Ambient-Jazz rocker that closes the set.

I’ve been an impressed follower of Vespero since their launch and have to say this is hands down their best album to date. The musicianship and compositional acrobatics are mind-blowing, but maintain a relaxed freeform feel so as to dispense with any overly flashy pretentions. This is complex Prog that rocks hard and takes chances. Fitful Slumber until 5A.M. will be a shoe-in for my Best of 2015 list. No shit, RECOMMENDED!

For more information visit the R.A.I.G. web site at:
Stream, download and purchase CDs at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Hal McGee’s Microcassette Odyssey

For over 30 years Hal McGee has been creating experimental audio recordings, both solo and in collaboration, as well as distributing his own and other artists’ work, first through his 1980s Cause and Effect label and most recently through his Haltapes and Kassette Kult Tapes labels. To call Hal prolific doesn’t begin to describe his output and the variety of projects he has captained, which come in a multitude of styles and release formats.

One of Hal’s recent passions is recording on microcassettes, or what he calls ‘Dictaphonia’. Hal chose to work with microcassettes for a number of reasons. One is the constraints of the medium. Hal not only recognizes but embraces the lo-fi limitations of the microcassette. They have a limited frequency response, which by design matches the range of the human voice, and in fact was originally intended for voice (dictation) rather than musical recording. They are monophonic. As Hal says, “It seems kind of fresh to me for this reason. It isn’t tainted by being an art object, like a standard-sized cassette.”

Hal’s first microcassette work was his 2007 The Man With The Tape Recorder, which he considers to be one of his best and favorite recordings. It’s trademark Hal, consisting of a non-stop stream of seemingly incongruous, dada/cut-up constructions. It’s a cavalcade of sounds and noise, some from instruments and much of it taken from day in the life sounds and conversations, including Hal’s stream of consciousness narrative injections, and all manipulated by Hal and the microcassette recorder as a creative tool.

Hal describes: “When I have a microcassette recorder in my hand or pocket I feel like everything is right in my world. I feel ‘connected’ (‘wired for sound’) to the world at large because I can reshape it and reconfigure it and to a great extent document my experiences with and in it. Also, I get to rearrange time by recording things in sequences out of order with their actual manifestations in ‘the real world’. It’s the whole William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin cut-up method.”

The following is an overview of 11 microcassette audio art albums recorded from 2014 through early 2015. From one album to the next my impressions may come across differently. The kind of experimental audio works that Hal and his fellow travelers create inspire varying reactions which impact my impressions of these listening experiences, and the experiences vary according to my mood and disposition at the time in ways that other kinds of music do not. And THAT is what makes them so much fun to get immersed in. It’s the wonder of the incidental and banal brought together in interesting ways. People are just so darned creative…

Many of the albums are splits, with one side by Hal and the other contributed by a fellow artist. Two are collaborations and one is Hal solo. In each case I’ve listed the link to the album in Hal’s online catalog.

Note that while Hal records on microcassette, he makes the recordings available in CDR and download formats. CLICK HERE to read Hal’s microcassette manifesto in which he explains his current opinion about physical vs. digital formats and his use of the microcassette.

Hal McGee & Michael Ridge – “Acrostics Meet”

Michael Ridge is a UK based multimedia artist who joins Hal on two 30 minute sound collages. Reading the list of sound sources used by each artist is a hoot, running the gamut from heavy rainfall in a courtyard garden, Tibetan Buddhist digital chant machine, children’s sound effects cassette, cell phone conversations, Steim Cracklebox, dog squeaky toys, and the lists go on, though there’s also Korg Monotron and synthesizers.

A trademark characteristic of Hal’s audio art is day-in-the-life conversations from work, phone and out and about on the town. I like the oddly rhythmic crackling pattern that sounds like rain pouring in the living room and lays the foundation for pretty much everything else that occurs for the first portion of the set. We have a mishmash of conversational ephemera, plus electronic tones, squalls and general playfulness. At times the electronics sound like a gaggle of chattering robots, and at others like a lo-fi Jazz jam. The juxtaposition of elements is always fun, like when an old saucy Blues song crackles on the turntable, sometimes slowed to a drag, while Hal engages in chitchat and an ensemble of percussion, sounds and voices engage in a raucously free-wheeling jam. A chanting Native American shaman accompanies a succession of voices, an electronic kazoo and other sundry sounds, before being replaced by first a somber keyboard melody and then what sounds like a toy piano, both of which keep company with a similar chain of audio events. I really dig the toy piano and squeaky toy jam. The incessant high pitched tone accompanied by choppy noise patterns and breathy horn is unsettling and intriguing. Overall a fun assemblage of audio parts and pieces.

Hal McGee vs. black beast of arrrghhh – “With Deconstructed Documentation”

black beast of arrrghhh (BBOA) is the moniker used by St. Petersburg, Florida based Zachary Short, who invited Hal to do a “versus” noise work which BBOA would release on CDR. Hal recorded an audio letter on microcassette, created a stereo mix of the audio letter, burned it onto a CDR and sent it to BBOA along with the audio letter tape. BBOA recorded a response on microcassette, mixed the two sides of his tape into one track and then combined his and Hal’s mixes. Fun, huh?

There are seven tracks on this 105 minute double CDR set. The first track is the final 15 minute Hal McGee vs. black beast of arrrghhh mix created by BBOA. We’ve got Hal and BBOA talking simultaneously, though the mix is interesting, turning the two men’s separate chatter into a steadily choppy rhythmic stroll. Along with this we have a variety of every day sounds, including a pleasant piano melody and other people’s voices, though it’s the mix and presentation of the talking and arrangement with the not overly busy sounds that is the star of the show.

The remaining tracks are the four sides of the two microcassette tapes and the sub mixes created by Hal and BBOA… Hence the “with deconstructed documentation” of the title. These tracks are a fun spin and should be of interest to all as they not only give us a feel for how these things come together, but for me the raw and sub mixed Hal audio letter is almost like another album. I’ve long been a fan of Hal’s diarist/dada/day-in-the-life verbalisms so I enjoyed these as a bonus.

Hal McGee – “Graphic Violence, Nudity & Pornography”

Graphic Violence, Nudity & Pornography is a Hal McGee solo recording, consisting of two 15 minute pieces of lo-fi electroacoustic collage. I dove into this recording eagerly after reading the album dedication to Wild Man Fischer, Charlie Patton, and Spike Jones. Hal’s stream of consciousness spoken word and conversations are spotlighted, which can be quite humorous at times (he wants to FART on you!). Plus he sings, reworking Heartbreak Hotel, Space Is The Place, doing a damaged Blues, and cranking out some fun yodel squawks. Stanley the dog has a few things to say too.

This is a sparse recording and the use of kazoo, slide whistle, cracklebox, diddley bow, ukulele, smartphone, consumer keyboards, Monotron analog synth and miscellaneous field recordings are for the most part treated singularly rather than glommed together. But remember that An Evening With Wild Man Fischer was mostly just old crazy Larry singing whatever was on his mind.

Hal McGee & Friends – “Implemental Music”

Implemental Music is #24 in Hal’s long running Apartment Music series of concerts of experimental, improvisation, electronic and noise music at his apartment. We Feel A Little Weird is the first of two 15 minute tracks and consists of conversational extracts and snippets before and during the show plus bang ‘n’ clatter preparation for the Pots N Pans Orchestra jam. These people are clearly having fun and the fly on the wall, voyeuristic view of it all is just like being there. Damn, I’ll bet getting stung on the temple by a wasp would really suck.

Revolt in the Household Goods Department features Hal McGee, Mark McGee, Andrew Chadwick, Hal Harmon, A.J. Herring, Steve Ladensack, Zach Lovitch, Trevor Luke, Jay Peele, Rosemarie Romero, and Stanley the dog performing as the Pots N Pans Orchestra, and they ain’t called the Pots N Pans Orchestra fer nuthin’. Hot DAMN this is fun stuff, and I double Stanley dog dare anyone to tell me that they’re not laying down a nice steady rhythmic groove and creating some inspirational rug cutting cacophony. Seriously, they may be improvising but the clatter really flows.

Rafael Gonzalez & Hal McGee – Microcassette Split

Rafael Gonzalez is a Spanish audio artist who for his side of this split album molds and shapes classical music radio broadcasts, field recordings, Korg Monotron Delay, cassettes and CDs. It’s a bumpity bump excursion of creatively abrupt switcheroos, continually transitioning through a series of short sharp shock blasts of sound. The microcassette manipulation is the fun part, with the screeching starts, stops, speeding up and slowing down coming across like a parade of subliminal audio messages. 16 minutes that really keeps us listeners on our toes.

Hal’s side is stitched together in a similar spirit as he bombards us with an ever changing array of sounds, in this case produced by shortwave radio, cigar box diddley bow and, of course, microcassette manipulation. Hal makes fun use of the shortwave, both broadcasts and dial surfing sounds. Some of the best parts sound like lo-fi and totally brain scrambled sci-fi soundtrack effects. The broadcasts that he finds are goldmines of craziness that are ideal fodder for mixing with sounds, noise and effects. I Googled cigar box diddley bow and was surprised to see it’s a kind of homemade guitar. And sure enough, near the end Hal jams away on it like a blind drunk rocker.

Per-Arne Hognert & Hal McGee – Microcassette Split

For his side of this split, Swedish audio artist Per-Arne Hognert’s arsenal of sounds and sources includes Casio SA-77, making noise with a bunch of firewood, some metal thingy (his words), Atari Punk Console noise, grinding a handful of gravel, Korg Monotribe synthesizer, throwing pinecones in a pool of water, and much much more. We’ve got a Casio melody that sounds like a cross between beer hall accordion and Phantom of the Opera, rhythmic clatter, radiophonic tone diddling, melodic synth noodling, out and about field sounds, noise, all manner of electronic fun and spaced out sci-fi weirdness. Rather than a rapid fire succession of sound events, Hognert spends at least some minimal time with each piece of his audio collage, making for 16 minutes of on-going reflection.

Hal travels a similar path, with sources including rain on umbrella, shortwave radio, kazoo, cigar box diddley bow, life monitor signal, and various conversations and street recordings. Oh, and Stanley the dog. There’s a cool diddley bow and barking Stanley duet that I enjoyed and frowned when Hal told Stanley to stop. I don’t think he realized the leg up on the doggy Jingle Bells he had going there. There’s plenty of Hal spoken word, interactions with others and general day in the life activity that I always enjoy. I especially liked Hal’s coyote interpretation of Home On The Range. I keep using the term “rhythmic clatter” in my descriptions of these albums but damned if there’s not a lot of really interesting and surprisingly measured bang ‘n’ clang pandemonium going on.

Per-Arne Hognert & Hal McGee – “A Compulsion to Record”

Following from their split album, A Compulsion to Record is a collaboration between Hal and Hognert. I like the layers of voices, both everyday conversational and whacky whimsical amidst the noise and clatter of walking about, housework and whatever else might be occurring. It’s the mundane sounds of daily life juxtaposed with wildly mixed old video games, sirens, and other amusing effects.

It’s interesting how distinctively each piece can be picked out in this lo-fi microcassette setting. Rather than being densely glommed together, each slice of the pie occurs in tandem, in parallel, and simultaneously yet distinctly. It’s a morphing and mixing of real life and the surreal. And, as I keep increasingly noting as I listen to these albums back to back, they create an odd, off-kilter, yet peculiarly rhythmic flow.

Ronny Waernes & Hal Mcgee – Microcassette Split

Norwegian audio artist Ronny Waernes keeps things creatively simple on his side of this split, utilizing field recordings and distorted sounds from the microcassette player. The results are stripped down but intriguing. I hear airplanes overheard, wind, automobiles, voices, and all kinds of noisy subtleties that the recorder picks up. Waernes must just be walking around somewhere (in Bodo, Norway) but it’s vague enough to leave the details to the imagination.

For his side, Hal too is out and about with his microcassette recorder at work, Ventura Apartments, and the Haile Plantation Homestead historical site (the Homestead web site calls out its “Talking Walls”: The Haile family wrote on the walls of their home – over 12,500 words in almost every room and closet). Unlike Waernes, who only provides distant voices, Hal characteristically focuses on whatever is going on in his immediately proximity. We follow Hal on the Homestead tour, with his own commentary and spoken word mixed in, as well as a lunch diversion, work and other activities.

I love the coloring book cover to this album which encourages, presumably a child, to “Make up an exciting story about what you would do if you met an octopus when you were swimming”.

Vasectomy Party & Hal McGee – “What If Tomorrow Never Comes”

Vasectomy Party is Hal Harmon, another Floridian audio artist who for his side of this split employs a variety of electronic gear, including delays, noise generators, distortion, flanger, and more. This is a high intensity Space-Noise excursion that’s equal parts abrasive interstellar luge competition and spacecraft engine room activity. One moment we’re jettisoned through supersonic waves of noise debris, and the next we’re in a gaggle of bleeps, blurps, pulsations and static. It’s totally spaced out but in a sand blaster sort of way.

Hal too explores experimental electronic space, creating Space-Industrial electronica with Arturia MicroBrute analog synthesizer and Moog MF-104 Analog Delay. I like the rapid-fire pulsations alongside raging cosmic buzzsaw, which together create a harrowing headphones experience. 15 minutes of white knuckled, nail biting intensity that is, nonetheless, disturbingly hypnotic.

Anton Mobin & Hal McGee – Microcassette Split

French audio artist Anton Mobin’s side of this split is an audio journal recorded in Paris, Athens and Thessaloniki, featuring collage mixed and microcassette manipulated day in the life parts and pieces. Urban sounds, sundry street occurrences, crowd noise, background music ranging from traditional Greek to New Orleans Jazz, even the simple sound of walking. None of the voices are at the forefront, making this an avant-garde pastiche of the more subtle portions of everyday life.

Hal, on the other hand, nearly always puts his thoughts and conversations with others in the spotlight, mixing spoken word with exchanges between himself and co-workers and anyone else he encounters on his travels. Hal records his own audio journal, in this case visiting Dudley Farm in Newberry, Florida. He talks to others, either fellow visitors or tour guides, reads some of the explanatory signs in his own inimitable style, and among other spots on the tour we visit the chickens, and damned if one didn’t just lay an egg. They sound like cute little buggers. Audio journals are on a certain level simplistic, yet the interest lies in placing yourself in the artist’s shoes and feeling like you’re along for the ride, which is all the more fun given the clickity clackity cut up stitch and mix nature of the recording.

Alphastare & Hal McGee – Microcasette Split

For his side of this split, San Francisco based audio artist Alphastare assembled a variety of incidental sounds and provides some fun descriptions of those sounds, including… I got a kick out of this one… “happened to be walking by a club on my way to the studio and heard this Filipino band soundchecking doing a Simon and Garfunkel cover”. Another interesting lo-fi assemblage of day in the life ephemera, much of it pretty cool musical bits that I assume is in the studio Alphastare was on his way to. I especially like the spacey UFO synth workout accompanying a simple repetitive melodic riff.

Hal picks up on the humor of Alphastare’s descriptions by listing his collage toolkit as “The usual stuff”, including Best Buy dumbfuck, I float the recorder in the toilet water, save the ta-tas… fun stuff indeed, and sure enough this is trademark Hal, who I’ll wind down this article by saying is in my opinion the master of the diarist audio collage. Hal goes about life in the ho hum way that most of us do, but manages to offer slices of his life, via audio art recordings, in ways that are both interesting and fun.

One of the standout aspects is Hal’s voice, which is very distinct. But he also interacts comfortably with others, and the exchanges, which range from banal to interesting, are often downright hilarious. Having heard a large number of these over the years, my favorite recurring conversations are those he has with a particular female co-worker, which can be hysterically funny. But at the end of the day it’s the characteristically Hal way it’s all stitched together that makes these the audio artifacts that they are.

For more information visit the Hal McGee web site at:
This is an information and history packed web site, covering 1982-present (plus other goodies… spend some time there)
Stream and download at Hal’s Bandcamp site:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Kanoi – “Genstone Sunrise EP” (self-released 2015, Download)

Kanoi is the project of Austrian musician Benjamin Kantschieder. He’s released several albums and singles as Kanoi, some as a one man band and some with other musicians, though last year’s From The City To The Stars was my introduction to his music. Gemstone Sunrise is the latest, a 5 track digital only EP that Kantschieder is promoting as a teaser for his next full-length which will be released on vinyl by Clostridium Records later this year (Closrtridium also released From The City To The Stars).

Naeco I is a short, spacey, rhythmic rocking introductory piece that leads into the funky Psych rocking Buru Haze. It’s basic Hard Psych, with a slow but assertive groove, a brash dirty edge to the rhythm guitar and tasty Hendrix inspired leads. Kantschieder is faithful to the spaced out spirit of Pink Floyd with his cover of Embryo. By The Sunrise is a beautiful song with strumming acoustic guitar and vocals at the core, and augmented with a slow, drugged beat, scrumptious Blues-Psych guitar leads, ethereal soundscapes and swirly electronics. VERY nice. Finally, Terry is dedicated to Terry Pratchett, the great Discworld author who passed away in March. I love the lazy celestial Space-Prog aura, and this too has a Pink Floyd vibe, including Bluesy Gilmour-esque guitar licks. This and By The Sunrise are my favorites.

Gemstone Sunrise is available as a free download from the Kanoi Bandcamp site:
There’s LOTS of Kanoi music to check out while you’re there

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Client/Server – s/t (self-released 2015, CD/DL)

Client/Server is the husband and wife duo of Tom and Jennifer who formed in 1999, having been influenced by Flying Saucer Attack, Windy & Carl and Bardo Pond. They recorded a couple albums over the next few years and then went into hibernation for nearly a decade before reviving the project in 2012. Tom and Jennifer are originally from Boston but relocated to Tokyo in 2008 where they reside to this day.

Their new self-titled release may be their first studio album since 2001, but I must mention the Client Bloody Server EP that preceded it, which features 4 lovingly noise-dronecore desecrated covers of Black Sabbath songs. If you liked the Residents’ take on the Stones’ Satisfaction you’ll surely dig Client Bloody Server, and it’s available to stream at the band’s web site.

Anyway, the new album consists of 4 tracks and clocks in at about 30 minutes. I like Tom and Jennifer’s description of their music as “Tokyo Dronecore”, which I think pretty much nails it. Older Ways is noisily ambient and jaggedly drifting, the music straddling the razors edge axis between harsh aggression and flowing calm. Lungs has a similar effect but rocks out more and has a bit of a Goth flavor. I like how the guitars create a wall of crashing but steadily flowing cosmic noise. But amidst the aggression there are simple but seductively melodic and nicely dissonant guitar solos that combine with the dronecore guitars which seem to pour like thick goopy yet acid corrosive syrup. I.B.4 Bot is another noisy rocker that’s embellished with freaky alien effects. Hell, you could dance to this one if you wanted. It’s like early 80s Post-Punk enveloped in a spaced out noise-drone wrapper. Wrapping up the set is Five is Go-Fun, which is probably the harshest and surely the most apocalyptic of the four tracks.

In summary, Client/Server would appeal to fans of melodic dronecore, noisy Post-Punk, and anyone into Ambient music but with a taste for a bit of the ultraviolence.

For more information visit the Client/Server web site at:
Stream, download and purchase the CD at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Chester Hawkins – “Apostasy Suite” (Intangible Arts 2015, CD)

After 28 years of recording as Blue Sausage Infant, Washington, DC based musician Chester Hawkins released Semisolids in 2014, a set of drones, Kosmiche excursions, spaced out rhythmic electronics, Italian horror inspired soundtracks, soundscapes, noise and more, that was the first album under his own name.

Hawkins’ new album, Apostasy Suite, is what he describes as “The result of a long fascination with the idea of purification by burning: of stripping away all value systems imposed by the outside, to excavate a core of pure self”. Hawkins communicates his themes through six live recordings, starting and ending with “corruptions of the catholic mass”, and with heavy trance tracks in between. I like the promo sheet’s general description of Hawkins’ music: “The goal remains the creation of deep and elegant trance states with a glaze of paranoid tension”. The man is on a righteous path. My curiosity was further aroused by a hand written note stuck to the CD cover saying, “This one may alienate some fans”. Interesting… I wonder what feats of sonic derring-do Hawkins is attempting here?

Mass/Easter opens with a slow church organ melody underscored by a droning organ line. Frantically racing electronics soon overpower the organ and now we’re jettisoned into space where the spacecraft is tooling along with pulsating waves and other miscellaneous effects, though there’s also a keyboard drone which hints that we may not have completely escaped the pew. Equinox is next and combines freaky alien effects with minimal drone waves that are hypnotically intense. Hawkins soon develops multiple parallel lines of drones, soundscapes and electronic patterns, creating a tension-laden ambience. Later a robotically bouncy sequenced pattern takes the lead, surrounded by a darkly somber, spaced out orchestral soundscape atmosphere with lots of fun alien effects thrown into the mix. Intifada starts off cosmically meditative. But then a pounding and somewhat threatening rhythmic pulse comes crashing in, bashing along assertively like it’s trying to develop a dance groove. It’s soon aided by a more comfortably rhythmic and melodic sequenced groove that makes it all sound a bit more musical, though the focal point is on upping the rhythmic intensity. Ultimately things calm down for the finale with a cool combination of heavenly soundscapes and dark moodiness. No Body further demonstrates Hawkins’ flair for contrasting sensations of spaced out meditative bliss and strained tension. Exterminator Pump takes us into the spacecraft with all the surrounding bleeps, blurps, and engine pulsations, making for what soon becomes a dizzying symphony of experimental space electronics. But with Mass/Dissolution we’re back to more desecration of the mass (or mass desecration if you prefer). It’s a 20 minute epic finale to the set, recorded live last year at the Sonic Circuit Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland. We start with a multi-drone chorus of various pitches and tones, one of which has a trippy electronic didgeridoo sound. Eventually we settle into a minimal electronic Berlin School meets Industrial hybrid at a futuristic World of Tomorrow exhibit. Lots happening here. One of my favorite segments is when the cosmic mower is trimming the barren surface of a dead planet while a fleet of space pods hover overhead impatiently waiting for the lawn service to finish so they can land. I’ll bet it was a blast hearing Hawkins perform this live.

For more information visit the Chester Hawkins web site at:
Order Apostasy Suite and other Chester Hawkins and Blue Sausage Infant music at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

The Atomic Sherpas – “Wish Granter” (Wish Granters Records 2014, CD)

The Atomic Sherpas are a Los Angeles based guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, trombone, sax, flute, harmonica and vocals sextet who play… well… is Big Band Prog a genre? No? Well I’m making it up then. The music is like a mixture of Zappa, Chicago, Dr Nerve styled RIO Prog, good time swingin’ Blues and tightly structured Free-Jazz. These guys are ADHD antsy and completely unable to stay in one spot for very long, which results in a non-stop stream of compositional twists and turns and a harrowing stylistic roller coast ride.

I really dig songs like Doc Shock, which showcase big band heavy rock with an injection of Soul and a twisted Zappa styled Prog edge. I love the aggressive rock guitar and horns combination which I used to enjoy so much on the old Dr Nerve albums. Ultra-saucy swinging horns and slickly dirty Blues guitar are characteristic throughout. Sco’s Coven reminds me of early Chicago when they were a really hot smokin’ band. But the Sherpas are much more intense, the horns functioning like a guitar arsenal, and when the guitar joins in its freakin’ molten. But the music keeps shifting gears, flitting about like we’re at a compositional gymnastics meet. Painful Therapeutic Process is similar but with an RIO-Prog injection and a dose of fiery Jazz-Fusion. Get Gettin’ Down Down features heavy rocking and good time swinging big band Blues with fun scat vocals. Bronto Awakes rocks and swings hard and includes lots of great ripping guitar, wailing horn and spacey Jazz keyboard solos. And I like the horns, guitar and old time organ combination on the soulfully swinging Alligator Staircase.

Finally, the set is rounded out with two cool covers. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard Black Sabbath given the kind of treatment the Sherpas give War Pigs. Just re-read all my previous descriptions and you’ll get the idea. It’s clever, good humored, well executed and kicks swingin’ ass. AND it includes a pinch of Gilligan’s Island (HUH, you say? Trust me, ya gotta hear it). And their rendition of Johnny Winter’s Mean Town Blues retains the spirit of Johnny but blasts it into hyper-kinetic big band heaven. This is a seriously fun album. I’ll bet these guys blow the roof off of anywhere they play live.

Hear lots of Atomic Sherpas songs from Wish Granter and more online at:
To order the Wish Granter CD, email Vince Meghrouni at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Blue Lily Commission – “Undrugged” (MusicZeit 2015, CDR/DL)

Mooch ship commander Steve Palmer created Blue Lily Commission years ago as a vehicle for his more ethnic oriented interests. His latest album, Undrugged, is different from its predecessors, though veteran Palmer fans will be well accustomed to Steve defying any expectations. Undrugged was created with all acoustic instruments… over 100 of them… and just for fun I’ve included the list below.

Percussion, flutes and strings dominate, and there is a lot of experimentalism in the form of percussion and ethnic stringed instruments cranking out steady clatter jams to the tune of inspirational flutes. At times the music has an orchestral feel, like we’re attending an ethnic flavored Psychedelic theater performance with an avant-garde twist. A good example is Inside The Temple, which features lightly rattling percussion, tense soundscapes, spectral vocalizations, and dreamy horns and drums.

There are spacey excursions as well, like Melancholy, which uses I don’t know what from the list of instruments to create synth-like soundscapes while cosmic flute wails and a Spanish flavored guitar lightly plays. And Afrotubes, with its clattery and somewhat toy instrument sounding yet steadily rhythmic percussion, and noisy yet pleasantly hypnotic kazoo like melody, distant zen flute, and dreamy atmospherics. I like the rushing cosmic wind and horn instrument tension of Gyptian. We’ve also got meditative drone pieces, with lightly strumming strings, flutes, chanting vocals, and rumbling atmospherics. Steve Dinsdale from Radio Massacre International guests on a couple tracks, as does the voice of Karen Anderson, which is especially lovely on Tubular.

Some of the music reminds me of the soundtrack to the 2013 Jim Jarmusch movie Only Lovers Left Alive, which had some of the most mesmerizing and strikingly different Eastern flavored Psychedelic music I’ve heard. But I’m also at times reminded of the The Residents, an analogy I never dreamed I’d ever employ with Steve Palmer music. Charango could, and NOT because of its length, be one of the off-the-wall ditties from The Residents’ Commercial Album set of 60 second tunes. But mostly it’s the ethereal tribalism of The Residents’ Eskimo album that comes to mind at times.

My favorite track of the set is the album opener, the 13 minute Indogroove. Strumming acoustic and shimmering acoustic slide guitar ride the crest of a flowing drone wave. The guitars jam away like we’re sitting around the Burning Man campfire as the drone continues its slow crawl. Soon a pair of flutes join in with enchanting leads, and when the Blues guitar switches to playing lead a harmonica joins in. The music, like so much of this album, has a minimal quality, but there are lots of pleasant melodies and an overall sense of free-wheeling tribalism and atmospheric drift throughout.

In summary, this is one of Steve Palmer’s more experimental works, but don’t let the ‘E’ word frighten you. It’s a challenging yet accessible set, and the kind of music that rewards multiple attentive listens.

For more information visit the Music Zeit web site at:
CLICK HERE to go directly to the Undrugged album
If interested, Steve Palmer will make you a hand-made, hand-printed CDR with recycled card cover. Email him directly at

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Lamp Of The Universe – “The Inner Light Of Revelation” (Astral Projection/Clostridium Records 2015, CD/DL/LP)

Since 2001, New Zealand based multi-instrumentalist Craig Williamson has been recording totally trippy, mind-bendingly lovely, psychedelically spaced out music as Lamp Of the Universe. And he continues to do so on his new album, The Inner Light Of Revelation.

I love the combination of droning sitar, lazily strumming acoustic guitar, hypnotic synth wave and Craig’s shamanic vocals on the opener, Trance Of The Pharaohs, with tasty blasts of intensity provided by intermittent majestic percussion crescendos. If we’ve been entranced by the Pharaohs then they have been benevolent masters, as God Of One makes me feel like I’m in a harem cum opium den in space, drifting in a hypnotic swirl of alien belly dancers. We’ve got a steady rhythmic pulse and a spaced out Eastern slathered, acidic, stoned Psychedelic rocking groove. Craig excels at laying down a core of trippy Eastern influenced Psychedelia and then injecting a stoner vibe, healthy doses of acidic burn, trippy guitar and sitar, and mellotronic grandiosity, as further evidenced on Levitation. Craig also has a flair for being both hypnotically alluring and darkly droning, a good example being Utopian Seed, which is extra fun due to the freaky alien synths fluttering playfully and bubbling like cauldrons throughout. Dig that Proggy mellotron too. Ancient Path has one of the more traditional sounding sitars, though the underlying drone serves as a foundation and it’s all carried along by grooving raga rhythms. Celestial Forms is both lysergic and heavenly with its spaced out sitar and ragas and orchestral feel. The Guiding Light and Beyond The Horizon are both short acoustic and ethnic percussion dominated songs, the former being a melodic tune with an almost Bluesy guitar solo, and Beyond The Horizon being an enticing call-to-prayer with a marching drive.

There’s a lot going on here and it always blows my mind with Lamp albums to think that Craig is doing it all himself. Another set of pure mystical magic.

Stream, download and purchase the CD at:
The LP is available from Clostridium Records at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz