Mike Gibbons, Marigolds: The Bangkok Sessions. Despite a lack of melodic variation, Mike Gibbons' songs all sound rich. The title track hovers on a very simple chord progression, but with Yair Evnine's cello and Jay Montonn Jira's production techniques, it sounds as though Gibbons is singing with a full string section. Gibbons sings in a loud, folksy bellow, hitting some notes just a hair flat. (Gibbonmonster Music)
The Soft Moon, The Soft Moon. The Cure has a spectral presence in shoegaze outfit The Soft Moon — actually the solo project of singer and multi-instrumentalist Luis Vasquez, who puts together a band for his live shows. It's a spare, cold, dramatic album, on which drums grunt and stutter while guitars gnash their teeth. The Eighties influence is sharpest on opener "Breathe," in which Vasquez sings in a creepy, sibilant whisper over a guitar line that's really no more than a drone. (Captured Tracks)
Vijay Anderson, Hard-Boiled Wonderland. Chaos is a source of inexhaustible creativity for free-jazz drummer Vijay Anderson. He has assembled an incredible for quintet for this all-improvised album, which begins with a single drum roll, followed by sixteen minutes of blurred, meandering melodies. Even at their most contemplative moments, these musicians always favor antiphony. (Not Two)
At the Make-Out Room (3225 22nd St., San Francisco) on Monday, Feb. 7. 8 p.m., free.
John Santos, La Esperanza. Another masterpiece from John Santos, a Latin percussionist who divides his muse between a straight-ahead sextet and a coro folkórico. La Esperanza juxtaposes a six-voice choir with a nine-piece percussion section, often with no other instruments. "Obatalá" has the coro doing a call-and-response over a full orchestra of drums. A full rhythm section materializes for "Recuerda," with elegant piano comping by Elio Villafranca. (Machete)
At EastSide Cultural Center (2277 International Blvd., Oakland) on Sunday, Feb. 13. 3 p.m.
John Santos|Elio Villafranca|Ava Mendoza|Vijay Anderson|The Soft Moon|Machete Records|Not Two|Captured Tracks|Yair Evnine|Jay Montonn Jira|Mike Gibbons|Gibbonmonster Music
This week we review Mike Gibbons, The Soft Moon, Vijay Anderson, and John Santos.
By Rachel Swan
John Santos|Vijay Anderson
EastSide Cultural Center|The Make-Out Room