Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Prem Lall

Prem Lall's CD Reviews
Date of Interview/Article:10/21/2001
The following CD reviews were submitted by Prem Lall. Prem hosts a weekly radio show which can be heard on KUSF San Francisco, 90.3 FM, every Monday 6:00-9:00 AM PST. This multi-genre show features interesting music from around the globe. For more information, visit Prem's web site

Nels Cline: The Inkling (Cryptogramophone label)
a sonic menagerie focused upon Cline's guitar expressionism as a reflection upon the backing tapestry of Mark Dresser's aggressive yet fluid contrabass, Zeena Parkins' pensively eerie harps, and Billy Mintz's counterintuitive drumming; each track glides through phases of both chaos and confluence, blurring distinctions between them.

The Double U: Falling Lanterns (Emperor Jones label)
minimalistic strangeness rock with quiet croaking and/or squeaking vocals plus unexpected tinges of old Yiddish/klezmer music as well as a host of other subtle folk influences; fresh yet murky like a jig in a bog.

Zusaan Kali Fasteau & Donald Rafael Garrett: Memoirs of a Dream (Flying Note label)
two performances of multi-ethnic music by this multi-instrumentalist duo--the first disc, studio recordings from 1975 in Holland on which Fasteau & Garrett recorded stirring free-improv. duets then overdubbed further improv. while listening to the tape they had just created, and the second disc a live performance from 1977 in Turkey; while traveling for fourteen years through a great number of nations (India, Nepal, Morocco, Congo, Switzerland, Haiti, Greece, and Yugoslavia, to name just a few) Fasteau and Garrett studied a myriad of musical forms and instruments and incorporated elements of each into these multifaceted performances

Sonny Simmons: Manhattan Egos (Arhoolie label)
edgy free jazz focused upon Simmons' alto sax (or his English horn, which he employs on one track to replicate the sounds of a middle eastern double-reed horn) inspired in part by Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, and a likely influence upon many up-and-coming free jazz/experimental artists; included are bonus cuts from an unreleased session recorded several months after the original release of this album on which Simmons is joined in tight, fascinating improv. by avant jazz violinist Michael White and a powerful rhythm session, and these four tracks could alone provide the impetus to check out this offering [1969 re-issue w/bonus material from 1970]

Vacuum Tree Head: Coal Vig (Pest Colors label)
pleasantly jarring concoctions of influences from noizart to klezmer to fringe jazz and beyond; on these mid-1990s recordings, as in its live performances, the band leans heavily on jabbering woodwinds (saxophone, bassoon, clarinet, et al) to create shifty foundations for further elaboration by electric guitar, bass, violin, drums, percussion, piccolo, samplers, and vocals--textures which regularly and unexpectedly turn on a dime while bombarding you with slew after slew of choppy improvisation, tossing you back and forth between bewilderment and wonder

Scott Fields Ensemble: Mamet (Delmark label)
eerie improvisation for guitar, bass, and drums; Fields maintains a tranquil though jittery pace on his guitar, never pushing the envelope too far beyond set parameters, while Michael Formanek (bass) and Michael Zerang (drums) provide an ever-shifting background of clangs, plucks, groans, and rattles to offset the otherwise pensive guitar

Mark Growden's Electric PiƱata: Inside Beneath Behind (Wiggle Biscuit label)
bizarre and at times decidedly goofy though malevolently mischievous rock oriented around an unconventional accordionist and his co-conspirators; delusional psychosis intermingles with elements of folk and avant garde for a continually unpredictable listening experience