number 1112
week 52


Vital Weekly, the webcast: we offering a weekly webcast, freely to download. This can be regarded as the audio-supplement to Vital Weekly. Presented as a radioprogramm with excerpts of just some of the CDs (no vinyl or MP3) reviewed. It will remain on the site for a limited period (most likely 2-4 weeks). Download the file to your MP3 player and enjoy!
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B*TONG - THE LONG JOURNEY (CD by Reverse Alignment) *
B*TONG - MONASTIC (CD by Reverse Alignment) *
KARL BÖSMAN - UNTON (CD by E-Klageto) *
POLITICAL RITUAL (LP by Ambiances Magnetiques)
DRUNK ELK (7” by Il Dischi Del Barone)
DE FABRIEK — REMIXES VOL. 3 (CDR, private)  *
TEST CARD - REDIFFUSION (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
-OTRON - PRISM EXHILARATED (cassette, private) *
CONJECTURE - MY BODY, YOUR TEMPLE (cassette by Amek/Raumklang Music)
SLIT IN SLOT - BIRTHMARKS (cassette by Amek/Mahorka) *
APPROACH TO FEAR REGENERATION (double cassette by Karl Schmidt Verlag)


Here we have one of those names that I am never sure if I really know his work, and of course I don’t
mean Machinefabriek. His work I know pretty well, but Aaron Martin.... scratch... think. I am sure I
reviewed some of his work before, but forgot as the when and what. At the age of 17 he switched from
guitar and drums to the cello and recorded various solos albums, for Preservation and River Water
and Chautauqua and Experimedia (reviewed in Vital Weekly 719), along with working with people
like Jeremy Young (see Vital Weekly 986) Part Timer, Dawn Smithson (as Winter’s Day), Dag Rosenqvist
(as From the Mouth of the Sun), and Christoph Berg but also before with Rutger Zuydervelt, better
known as Machinefabriek. ‘Seeker’ was already recorded between July 2012 and February 2013, but
due to label problems it only found a home now, on Russia’s Dronarivm. This work, like much of what
Zuydervelt is involved in these days, deals with dance, again by Iván Pérez (see also Vital Weekly
1101). Having worked with Martin before Zuydervelt asked Marrtin to send recordings of his playing
the banjo, cello, organ, ukulele and vocals, to which Zuydervelt added electronics and editing and
processing them into the forty-five minute soundtrack we now have in our hands. The whole
choreographic element is something we don’t get; maybe on Youtube, so I was thinking, but then I
was enjoying the music very much ‘as is’, that I didn’t want to distract from that too much. The nine
pieces flow right into each other and show the best of the electronic work of Zuydervelt in combination
with the acoustic work of Martin. The cello lies deep down, and provides beautiful acoustic drones,
while banjo and ukulele as well as very sparse voice material provide a melodic input. Zuydervelt
treats these sometimes very sparsely, and adds his own brand of carefully placed static and crackles
to it, firing of in the world of loops to create more atmosphere. Sometimes very ‘experimental’, but I
guess that’s only half the thing. Just as easily one could say this is occasionally orchestral, Americana
or post rock (the end of ‘Wings In The Grass’; no drums though), then (again) as easily interrupted
by some radio noise or sine wave. This is an excellent release, highly varied in all of these approaches,
but it works out in very coherent manner. This is a very fine audio journey. (FdW)
––– Address:


When starting to write this review I double checked if I got it all right (and it’s something I don’t
always do, I know), but Bridge to Imla is really the name of the project, a duo f Hans-Dieter Schmidt
and Michael Brückner, who started this year, following a wide experience in the own rights and
playing around with the ambient group improvisations in Frankfurt. Before Schmidt, a keyboard
and flute players, was a member of Finnigan’s Wake and Feinbein from 1977 to 1984 and since 1986
he works as Imaginary Landscape, whereas Michael Brückner started in 1992 and has released a
whole string of albums with “Berlin school” sound, that true Tangerine Dream styled synth music.
Many of these were self-released but since a few years also by other labels. Here they have fifteen
pieces of straightforward ambient music of a very rich nature. The music started life in 2013 when
Brückner recorded a piece of music for a thematic compilation about the nuclear disaster in Fukushima,
Japan and ended up with a lot extra, unused work, which became the starting point for ‘The Radiant
Sea’, with Schmidt adding his instruments and ideas. And rich it is; not just some long form sustaining
synthesizers, but also blending in some real instruments. Here the tinkle of a piano, and over there a
bunch of strings. While the music is no doubt dark and the background grim (nuclear disasters, the
pollution of the pacific, radiation) I must admit that if one is not thinking of that, and take the music
out of any context (I am not sure if the musicians would allow or even be happy with such a thing of
course) this is some beautiful music. It could also be the soundtrack about the beautiful life below the
surface of the ocean. Maybe it is the time of the year that made me want to think more positively about
such things, but it also has to do with the fact that I very much believe that music works best without
any context and perhaps it is post-modern to think so but that everyone is free to think up their own
story when playing music. The tracks on this release flow right into each other but yet have different
titles, and not ‘The Radiant Sea part 1 to 15’. Why this is I am not sure about, but maybe this is indeed
something of more soundtrack like proportions, that moves from one scene to the next. Musicwise, in
terms of something new, this is in a very safe place; there is nothing in here that is radically new or
different, but who cares? It works wonderfully well. (FdW)
––– Address:


You can read the accompanying 'blurb' here -
zbigniew_karkowski_tetsuo_furudate_world_as_will.html, and it seems this is a mistaken recording
from 22 April 2008 at CSW -Zamek Ujazdowski/CCA in Warsaw. Reversed singing? at the start
slowly moves into a jumble then a collage of 'found sounds' heavily distorted, reversed, (organ?)
processed orchestra sounds and filtered from very low to high.... reminiscent of the early tape collages
of the late 1960s. Only this it seems was done using Pro Tools. Though the comparison to tape collages
is not surprising, Zbigniew Karkowski was a composer of electroacoustic music, who died in four years
ago, and had studied with Iannis Xenakis, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez and Georges Aperghis... On
this release not exactly working with but material from an earlier performance was re-processed by
Tetsuo Furudate. As a sound collage it stands on its own right as a work, though without knowing the
background to these collaborations and why some four years latter this was re-mixed and released
might have been useful to those not knowing the pedigree of these collaborations. The effect, though
using Pro Tools, is strangely nostalgic for this sort of electroacoustic work, one of a future, which never
occurred. (jliat)
––– Address:

B*TONG - THE LONG JOURNEY (CD by Reverse Alignment)
B8TONG - MONASTIC (CD by Reverse Alignment)

Perhaps it is because I am always a bit suspicious, but when I get two releases by the same artist I
suspect one of these is older and in need for some more promotion. This doesn’t seem to be the case
with these two B*Tong releases, which were both released on the same day in September. So why
release two at the same time? It is a question for which the label provides no answer, so perhaps it is
just ‘simply because it is possible to do so’. B*Tong is the musical project of Chris Sigdell from
Switzerland and he has been going for some time. I believe he has quite a bit more releases than
what we reviewed over the years, but I think I have some idea of what his interests are, which is to
play ambient music of a darker nature, highly atmospheric, a bit experimental and very much like
radioplay, especially by allowing voice material in ‘The Long Journey’ and some unexpected cut-up
sounds in ‘W95/Abyssus’ (from the same disc). On this release one he uses ‘voices, samples and
material of rather obscure origin’ as it says on the cover and the trip is indeed a long (well, fifty
minutes surely) trip through the heavenly constellation above us. It’s not pitch black, but a rather
vaguely romantic notion of many colourful planets that you see in a science fiction film of a more
upbeat nature. “We’ve found life in a black hole and it’s not all bad”.
    The other CD is all based on field recordings Sigdell made at Landbouwbelang in Maastricht
along with Benny Braaten and Betrand Gaude. Whatever you can record at Landbouwbelang
(agricultural interest?) is not entirely clear, I’d say, as whatever Sigdell does with his equipment, it
is all transformed a notch or two. With both of these releases I have no idea what it is that Sigdell
uses, but the best I can make of it is that it is all a mixture of analogue and digital equipment. No
words are used on ‘Monastic’, but there is plenty of reverb and sounds of water dripping, so I would
think it has a more cave like atmosphere. It also sounds a bit louder and grittier than ‘The Long
Journey’; it is more like being trapped in a machine hall, I’d think, than in a space ship. It’s the yin
to yang here, the noisier ‘Monastic’ versus the atmospheric journey of the other. I would think that’s
the reason for releasing these on separate discs; the different approaches require different discs. My
personal preference is for ‘The Long Journey’, but I see the fine quality of both. (FdW)
––– Address:


A few years ago, or at least I think it was a few years ago, mister Sigmarsson released a bunch of
cassettes, mostly on his Some label, which made into these pages but also, I learn now, on labels as
Hanson Records, who released this in 2013. In all of his solo work, and I heard quite a bit but not
all, some kind of drone is important. I have no idea how these drones are made, but I would think a
fair bit of computer processing is surely involved. At the start of that process Sigmarsson has a bunch
of field recordings. In both lengthy pieces on this beautiful digipack (white with gold block foil print
and embossed label logo) he uses field recordings, and I am not entirely sure where these were made.
Maybe a shopping mall? Or perhaps an otherwise cavernous, resonating space? I am not sure. In ‘The
Ultimate Sunday Afternoon’ these are treated, get more reverb and slowly built until it collapses and
he starts again, with shuffling about the house. Minor sound treatments are still used and gets intense
towards the end. A similar compositional approach he uses in ‘A Late-Night Programme’, which I
even liked better. In both pieces Sigmarsson uses voice material and I assume of his doing, which is
an unusual touch I guess for this kind of music, but it adds an excellent personal dimension to the
music. A voice of despair perhaps? I am not sure. In this second piece the massive drone is at the end
and it sounds like a church organ and makes a sorrowful ending to the piece. Both of these pieces
contain not much that you haven’t heard before from our man from Iceland, which someone might
think is a sad thing, but fans, and I surely rank myself among them, will like this. And perhaps the
best thing is that it is on a CD and no longer a cassette so all the more delicate sounds can now
properly be heard. Maybe Entr’acte should do a few more? (FdW)
––– Address:


Before pressing ‘start’ I checked if the volume was a notch of two down, as I expected some heavy
duty noise from Gary Mundy, who is also part of Ramleh, one of my favourites when it comes to 80s
power electronics. In recent years Fourth Dimension released some of Kleistwahr’s old and new
music (using the Broken Flag Records aesthetic of Mundy’s old label), and now it’s time for a re-issue
of very limited lathe cut record that came out earlier this year on Independent Woman, a label from
New Zealand. That was 10”, some thirteen minutes of music, so two bonus pieces are included here,
and now the total length is thirty-seven minutes (it would have made a lovely LP, but I guess evil
market forces are against that). Right in the beginning I turned the volume back up again as this
quickly turned out to be a different kind of Kleistwahr. The howl of the guitar soloing about in ‘Broken
And Beaten in 5/8 Part 1. Beaten’ is not unlike that of seventies krauty jamming, along the hammering
of a drum machine. In ‘Broken And Beaten in 5/8 Part 2. Broken’ the drum machine is switched off
and the guitar isn’t in solo mode but operates like a vacuum cleaning noise machine, along with a
voice howl and orchestral loop and reminded me of Ramleh. Another nod towards seventies kraut
music is the swirl of guitar feedback of ‘What’s It All For?’, the first of the two bonus pieces. It’s spooky
stuff, the stuff of nightmares I guess, or the soundtrack of a documentary of seventies tower blocks in
decay, which is also the case for ‘Mass Exodus (A Hymn)’, with its crumbled organ sound and heavily
processed choir sound. It is all quite psychedelic I guess and exactly the kind of thing I very much
enjoy, just because it doesn’t seem to be about the wonderful, colourful psychedelic, but a rather
more misanthropic version of it. The perfect soundtrack for these dark days. (FdW)
––– Address:


The good thing about getting old (perhaps the only good thing) is that it sometimes things return
and you only need to dip in the archive and voila, there’s your review. I guess it was the somewhat
unusual German word ‘Unton’ that made me think this was reviewed before in Vital Weekly, and
indeed in Vital Weekly 495, ‘Unton’ by Karl Bösmann was reviewed, adn I quote in full: “A while ago
I reviewed 'Das Kind In Der Küche' by Karl Bösman, a CDR release by Tosom, with atmospheric
sounds-capes, sound effects and electronics. Now he has released his first real CD on what seems
his own label, perhaps not. For reasons unclear the recordings on this CD were made in 1999, but
see the light of day now, six years later. Like before, Bösman works his way through a set of
atmospheric sounds, which in the first few tracks get the addition of layered guitar, but towards the
end, say the last three tracks, all seem to be more electronic. Here the rhythm element also returns.
It's nowhere similar to anything dance related, just a recurring bunch of repetitive sounds. The music
is not vaguely at all, it's very much the opposite: there is lots of dynamics explored here, giving the
material an almost modern classical approach, such as in 'Esplentorture', but it keeps leaning on the
darker edges of music. Quite forceful with ties in both ambient, modern classical music, musique
concrete all sauced with a touch of darker atmospherics.” Now it’s about twelve years later and E-
Klageto decided it was a good candidate for a re-issue, in another edition of 500 copies, which seems
to me a bit much these days. I still stand by the original review, and it was good to hear this again. It is
quite strange music and owes as much to the world of improvised music as to that of serious electronics
and/or industrial music. I am not sure if this is really the work that need a re-issue, but as easily admit
knowing very little about marketing forces. (FdW)
––– Address:

POLITICAL RITUAL (LP by Ambiances Magnetiques)

So far I assumed that Ambiances Magnetiques was mainly a label devoted to a wide variety of
improvised music, in all its guises. Perhaps Political Ritual is also along the lines of that, but it
sounds surely quite a bit different. It is a duo of Felix Antoine Morin and Maxime Corbeil-Perron
and they use ‘analogue modular and digital synthesis and incorporate invented wind instruments,
traditional Balinese percussion, field recordings and digital signal processing’, which still sounds
quite different than what is pressed on this LP. It is, quite frankly, a pretty noisy beast, this record.
It is very rich with electronic sound, pushing sonic boundaries, with minimalist beats, and yet also
it is not without harmony, such as the processed accordion on ‘Ceremonie’. It eventually gets all a bit
distorted here and the needle almost jumps off because of all the frequencies cut in these grooves,
but it goes well. The dynamic range of the music is enormous, I would think. From deep end bass to
high pitched frequencies, but I’d like to emphasize that, even under the heavy weight of some of this,
this is not a record about (improvised) noise. Political Ritual therefore has too many other interests
and tricks up their sleeves; be it drone, massive ambient or the Pan Sonic inspired single bass beat,
it all has a place in this music. No matter what it is, Political Ritual plays it with sheer intensity and
delivers a most powerful record. I must admit that invented wind instruments and/or Balinese
percussion seemed to instruments that I didn’t recognize in this music, and all seemed to find their
origins in electronics, be it analogue or digital. I am not sure what and if ‘political’ and/or ‘ritual’
mean in this context but if it has to do with creating something forceful they surely managed to do
so very well. This is not music you stick on for pure pleasure, but also to arrive at some agitated
state. I am sure if a riot needed a soundtrack this duo could play one. (FdW)
––– Address:


And add to that ‘with Camilla Padgitt-Coles’, I’s say. She plays a korg delta and singing bowls on two
pieces, whereas Baird plays live processed flute and voice and harmonium and Saint-Pelvyn guitars,
bass, Theremin and happy apple (which I am not sure is an organic bio free range or a laptop). First I
played this 12” at 33 rpm, liked what I heard and decided to sit down properly and think about a
review, which includes studying the press text and cover. I then noticed I was supposed to play this
record at 45 rpm. Oh, okay. Still sounds great actually. I don’t think I heard of any of these three
players before. Baird was a founding member of Spires That In The Sunset Rose (“psych-folk”) and
Saint-Pelvyn’s approach to the guitar has been compared to “Beefheart’s approach to clarinet” and
the four pieces on this 12”/LP were recorded in winter time, in Massachusetts, in 2016. It was all-live,
no overdubs and I would think that the words ‘psychedelic’, ‘folk’, ‘avant’ and ‘weird’ surely apply to
the four wild pieces on this record. It is surely drone inspired, but when the singing comes in, in
‘Year 2’ and ‘Year 3’ for instance, it sounds like Indian raga singing, wordless chanting (so it seems),
along with the repeated playing of strings, followed around with a fine deep bass sound. Or as in
‘Year’ 1’ or ‘Year 4’ very spacious flute playing that is all over the heavenly constellations. Very cosmic
music, recorded with a lot of space and atmosphere, with a beautiful warm, ‘live’ feeling, which makes
you feel as if it is all happening right in front of you, with you on the front row as it all happens, makes
this a record that is really great. One would almost reach for the same “beneficial spirits” that were
used in the recording of this album! (FdW)
––– Address:

DRUNK ELK (7” by Il Dischi Del Barone)

Dave Elk is the vocalist of Drunk Elk, with Ben Mason on guitar and Simon Krause on bass. They
recorded these two songs in Tasmania. Il Dischi Del Barone call them “arguably one of the best bands
on earth right now with a under-the-radar discography filled with genuine gems” and that this is
“avant-folk”, and while I enjoyed hearing these two songs, I must admit this is the kind of music that
I hardly ever play and/or review, so it is something that kind of eludes me. It surely sounds folky, and
yes, well, perhaps in a sort of way also avant-garde and it has a nice direct in your face recording
quality. But for me it is not easy to write something intelligent about this record, or the kind of
tradition it stands in or some such. It just seems to be too far away from my usual digest. I can see
why Il Dischi Del Barone wants to release this, and it fits their eclectic catalogue pretty well. (FdW)
––– Address:


Twelve weeks ago, in Vital Weekly 1100, we had ‘Peter Wullen in The Katja Institute’, now its ‘Katja
Institute vs Peter Wullen’. Two acts of drone music, from America and Belgium. Information on either
the cover or Bandcamp is sparse to extent it doesn’t exist, so it is not easy to tell the difference between
these collaborations/remixes or whatever else. I would think that somehow, somewhere they (both are
solo ventures, I believe) work on each other’s field recordings and treat them in some way. In the past,
especially for Katja Institute this resulted in some very abstract, digitally manipulated recordings and
here again this is pretty much the case, but not exclusively. This CDR open with a spoken word intro
taking from a scripture reading, which is quite different than from before, and in other instances we
hear footsteps and water sounds, almost as clearly as you would expect these things. In the end that
makes up a fair portion of the release, but the majority here is the ‘usual’ high-level abstract approach
to sound treatments. Both Katja and Wullen give the material a firm makeover so we no longer
recognize what it is all about. The other thing that is still present is the utter minimalist approach to
their treatments. I listened pretty closely (at least I would think so), but sometimes things don’t change
on end. It gets stuck in some treatment and it stays there, but once you skip towards the end of such a
lengthy fragment, I was inclined to think that it actually had changed. The how and why as to those
changes is very unclear. It happened and goes without much noticing but it surely happened. Strange
it surely is. As before the Bandcamp version is divided in smaller parts, on CDR it is one long piece of
uninterrupted dark ambient music; music we once would label as isolationist I guess, but these days
perhaps would call drone music. This is another excellent release. (FdW)
––– Address:


This is by far the best presentation Chalmers had so far; or at least the most professional one with
“gatefold vinyl style wallets with black vinyl effect cd. Comes with handmade paper and scavenged
individual negative film.” As before Chalmers works with cassette tapes, fx pedals, Tascam 4-track,
drum synth and something that is called “Swarmandal”. He works along the lines of improvisation
to do his music and before he releases anything he edits these pieces to fit a shorter form. Much of the
music I heard from him I enjoyed quite a lot, and some of it a bit less. The latter happens mostly when
he Chalmers uses a lot of loops to play around with, making minor changes within that material; say
how Reich did ‘Come Out’, but not as good. Chalmers’ power, for me at least, lies within making radio
play like sound pieces, using eroding cassettes, a bit of sound effects and stuck together to make an
auditory illusion; if you want (well, or the man himself) a fata morgana of sound. That is the kind of
stuff he does here on this new release. He has eight pieces and according to the cover ‘four pieces on
side A’ and four on the B-side, which shows, I guess, he would rather release a LP of this, which I can
imagine would be great indeed. His music is certainly good enough to be ‘upgraded’ to a LP, but
perhaps it is not yet commercially a viable option. Here Chalmers has shimmering melodies, a piano
for instance in ‘An Afternoon In Eternity’, with birds out in the garden (made me long for spring time
really), or far way schoolyard sounds in ‘Magnetic Tape Ghosts’ (maybe a nod to Bass Communion?),
music boxes in reverse or a slightly distorted synth sound in ‘Deja Reve’, with more ghostly voices
singing, albeit covered in dust. In all of these pieces Chalmers uses sound collage techniques, slowly
fading and abrupt cutting, to keep the listener’s full attention and there is an excellent variation in
approaches to be noted. From a more ambient sound approach to an almost rhythmic bleep, it still
sounds remarkable coherent. This I thought was an excellent release by mister Chalmers. (FdW)
––– Address:


Colin Potter (see also last week) is one of the main players in Nurse With Wound and the studio he
owns is used a lot for recording and mixing. That studio is called ICR and started thirty-five years ago,
when Potter also started to release his own music, back in 1981. ICR then stood for Integrated Circuit
Records and the very first release was a compilation LP (the thing to release for every new label back
then) was called ‘We Couldn’t Agree On A Title’ and included, besides Potter, Missing Persons, The
Instant Automatons, The Walking Floors, The Victims of Romance, Those Little Aliens and others. None
of these, again besides Potter, were invited to play the 35th anniversary event in London of which this
CDR is a little memory, sold on the night and the remainder on the website. On the roster we now find
six musicians, each with a track here. It’s people Potter works with in some capacity, save for Jonathan
Coleclough and Paul Bradley, I think. With Clodagh Simonds and Michael Begg he works with Fovea
Hex and with Andrew Liles in Nurse With Wound. Musically this is all in each other’s street, more or
less. Especially the drone-based sounds of Begg, Bradley and Coleclough are good but perhaps also
interchangeable. Potter, just like last week, explores the clang bang rhythm of proto techno music in
a very psychedelic piece, leading up to the plunderphonic finale of Andrew Liles, remixing some jazz
tune and porn flick. Odd one out, is the vulnerable song of Simonds, right in the middle of the disc. A
harmonium and a voice and nothing else; drone like and powerful but also different. It’s a pity I
missed the event, but luckily we still have this memory! (FdW)
––– Address:


Back on track, so it seems, are De Fabriek, with another addition to the ‘Remixes’ series. This are
released in a non-consecutive order, so following ‘Volume 7’ (Vital Weekly 1045) and ‘Volume 5’
(Vital Weekly 1035), it is now time for ‘Volume 3’. It follows the previous volumes, and perhaps the
modus operandi of De Fabriek ever since they started, which is Richard van Dellen and Klaas Mons
at the controls and other people freely sending in sound material to be used by the factory workers.
This time we find here M. Hohmann (who also did the cover, as well as the cover of the previous LP,
see Vital Weekly 1109), C. van Dellen, F. de Waard and R. Paes, and you might think, seeing that
line-up, I have some idea what is what, but I am not sure actually I recognize it all. I kept a copy of
the sources, but do not detect these as easily in the music here. The music is again electronic, quite
a bit heavy on the use of rhythm at times, but in a more krautrock like manner, motorik and minimal
and not oriented towards the dance floor in anyway. De Fabriek are a bunch of hippies let loose in
the electronic studio, using whatever electronic tools at hand to create their own raw version of
psychedelic music; not always the Technicolor dream images but it can as easily also be the nightmare
version of it. Eerily beautiful in the final track (not listed on the cover, or scratchy in ‘Tombcrushing’,
dark ambience in ‘Neos Pirgos’ or upbeat rhythmic in ‘Le Havre’, followed by the bend violin of
‘Swingend Voorstellingsvermogen’.  There is no doubt, at least not in my little book, that this is the
all classic De Fabriek sound as we have come to love it over years. It jumps around in a great way
and is not all about a pleasure trip, but also about good old-fashioned experiment. I love it! (FdW)
––– Address:


‘Quiet Ecology’ is the third album by Panoptique Electrical, the musical project by Jason Sweeny from
Australia, but the second I hear, following 'Disappearing Music For Face' (see Vital Weekly 1049). On
this new album he continues the ‘rusty piano’ sound of the previous album, with recordings of ‘pianos
in unusual places’. Here he is looking for ‘quiet’ spaces, to escape the everyday madness that surrounds
us. A most welcome album I’d say if you just return from the supermarket, crowded with Christmas
shoppers and their long list of ingredients for the menu they want to try out. But then on Christmas
morning (actually I am writing this the day before, but I already decided not to leave the house
anymore) you can play the six pieces on ‘Quiet Ecology’ and sit back and contemplate the past year.
Panoptique Electrical’s sound palette now includes more than the piano and electronics, and moves
away from Eno/Budd of before into a more chamber orchestral approach. There is a bit of violin and
cello in here, and I am not sure if they are sampled or played by Sweeny; especially ‘In A Vow Of
Silence’ made me think it was sampled, but I might be wrong of course. The music is slow and the
obviously point of reference would be Erik Satie (especially ‘Footfalls’) and those current piano
players like Nils Frahm and Max Richter, but I would think that Panoptique Electrical has a strong
voice of his own. This is beautiful music that simply fits the quiet, grey day of Christmas, but surely
goes down well throughout the entire wintertime.
    Something quite different and yet something quite ambient is the release by Test Card, also known
as Lee Nicholson from Vancouver, Canada. Originally he was from England where he was member of
Firmule One and Domestic4, releasing on Kooky, Fierce Panda, Liquefaction Empire. In Canada he first
worked as Electrohome, releasing some music and also a Future Peasants, a folktronic duo. ‘Rediffusion’
is his second album, following ‘Start Up Close Down’ and he plays here guitars, bass, synthesizer, drum
machines, field recordings and sound effects. His album is about as long as Panoptique Electrical before,
but here the pieces are a bit shorter, usually between three and five minutes. The opener
‘Remembering Rediffusion’ is almost like an ambient pop song, owing much to the world of folktronic
and pop glitch with its continious drum machine. Not all of these pieces have a similar pop sensibility,
as Test Card seems to be also about something that this is a bit more abstract, spacious and meandering
about. But it is never too abstract or unrecognizable. Before you know a slide guitar is dropped in, for
instance in ‘Old Enough To Drink Sherry’ or another sparse drum machine in ‘Be Home In Time For
Tea’. Sometimes the guitar playing reminded me of The Durutti Column, along with the sparse
electronic background (more ‘LC’ than ‘The Return’, if you know what I mean), but maybe everyone
has his or her own predecessors from the world of moody guitar music. This too is quite a lovely
release. (FdW)
––– Address:

-OTRON - PRISM EXHILARATED (cassette, private)

Here we have the follow-up to ‘Doze On’ (see Vital Weekly 1041) by UK’s -otron, about whom I know
next to nothing. I quite enjoyed their previous release, its trippy, electronic 90s sound. This new
cassette is made with Prysm technology, which if understood correctly, is all about making that each
of the 49 copies this cassette is unique. I also downloaded the cassette to be used in the podcast and
yeah there is some difference, but I was thinking there is always difference between a digital file and
cassette duplication. It depends, to start, with the machine used for playback. Again -otron treats us
to some electronic music, using quite a bit of voices from movies and documentaries, all about outer
space, aliens and planets, which adds to the somewhat Plunderphonic vibe of the release. There is
deep space synthesizer sounds, sequencers and dashes of rhythm, that have their origins in ambient
house/cosmic music as well as trip hop with those sampled drum kits in ‘Kilohm’ but there are also
two pieces that are absent of rhythm. One of these contains the saxophone of Pee Wee Ellis, which is
layred and sounds very fascinating in this dark piece of, full of melancholy. This, and ‘Xplorer’ are the
two pieces that break away from the beat material and while I like both as well as ‘the others’ I am
not entirely convinced it works that well with other, more electronic pieces, and maybe –otron should
think about doing a cassette with just moodier experimental pieces. Otherwise this was a most
enjoyable release. (FdW)
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CONJECTURE - MY BODY, YOUR TEMPLE (cassette by Amek/Raumklang Music)
SLIT IN SLOT - BIRTHMARKS (cassette by Amek/Mahorka)

Buglaria’s Amek is fond of releasing cassettes along with other labels; I surely can see some
advantages there. Here they have two new releases and both of them with another label on the side.
    First there is Conjecture, an “electronic project, hailing from Greece and mainly known for his
unique blend of rhythmic post-industrial, IDM and dark ambient music”. Vasilis Angelopoulos, the
man behind Conjecture, so I am told, has a slightly different path for this new cassette. Apparently
all of this is made on hardware setup and ’this significantly contributes to the EPs harsh and
claustrophobic ambiance’, so we’re informed. As I didn’t hear his music before that is not something
I can confirm or deny.  This EP has five songs, lasting in total some twenty-five minutes and they are
synth heavy indeed. These are dark and not without melodic touches. Conjecture uses quite a bit of
sound effects (delay and reverb) to create a sense of space and movement. Is it harsh and/or
claustrophobic? Maybe but I guess that’s how one feels towards this kind of music. It is cold and
distant, especially when a stronger rhythm is employed such as in ‘C’, and dark it is throughout. This
could be the soundtrack to a movie about space invaders, home invasion or the way robots take over
our lives; well, that sort dark science fiction flic and that is most enjoyable. I didn’t feel claustrophobic,
or perhaps not more than usual, but in a daily digest of mostly dark music anyway I’d say this doesn’t
stand out nor does it fail and lives up to its intentions.
    Also of Slit In Slot I never heard before and there is not much information. Some of the pieces are
in Cyrillic, which made me think this hails from Russia, but I might be wrong of course. Here the
keywords are “emotional, harsh and considered”, whatever the latter means. There is quite some use
of field recordings, along with the minimalist stabbing of ambient chords on a keyboard and none of
this too soft to be true ambient music but also not too loud to be noise music. There is throughout these
ten pieces a fine sense of experimentalism to be noted, making this not your typical anything sort of
release. Taking the best of out of various musical interests, the music is altogether very good. I have no
idea as to what kind of instruments are used, but me thinks a fair deal of digital processing is applied
here. Certainly as dark as Conjecture, but if that one is a bit more robot like, I’d say this one is a bit
more human-made (well, like Conjecture of course, but you get my drift in the finer differences, I
hope). Both releases are on similar moody and murky paths of ambient music; Conjecture’s path is
through post apocalyptic industrial wasteland and Slit In Slot through the woods. (FdW)
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APPROACH TO FEAR REGENERATION (double cassette by Karl Schmidt Verlag)

This double cassette release is almost impossible to give a review that doesn't turn into a book length
work given the list of artists, even listing them all would produce a larger than normal Vital length
review – 69 in all. Navigating, it appears there is an 80 page book 'of xtra info', which consisted of
mostly images and a final text, Tom Smith (whose label this is) "curated edited sequenced and
mastered" this throughout most of 2017. From a poster sized sheet which came with the cassette it
seems Smith visited an exhibition in the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, “In the cage of freedom”, an
exhibition of ten visual artists including the very (in)famous Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. Smith
though finding the exhibits interesting (“enough”) he found a malfunctioning smoke detector was
much more interesting, which led Smith to thinking of Alexis Hunter, and this release "an homage,
fuelled by loathing (consider the day), seeded in magnific din." 'Approach to Fear' being a work of
Alexis Hunter (died 2014) who was a feminist visual artist, photographer. I've met Hunter, but must
be careful with my words, but for me strangely and part of her notoriety (I’m avoiding 'fame') are
some homo erotic photographs taken in New York in the 70s which you can see on her wiki page. She
was a member of the stuckist group, a group formed in the UK by amongst others Billy Childish, Tracy
Emin's former partner? lover? A group opposed to the YBAs, (of which Emin is / was a member!)
Charles Saatchi, the Turner Prize and what is now called 'conceptual art' - though it's actually quite
empty of thought, more mere sensation. From this I'm concluding, though by no means without
ambiguity, that Smith didn't like the show. (how crass am i) And that this double cassette was a
reaction to it. Of course I could be wrong, contemporary art thrives, it seems, on ambiguity. And my
seeking to be clear gets me into all kinds of trouble. Childish, apt name, still seeks fame, though
attacking those from whom it arises in the arts. As a tangent, he has formed a 'back to original gear'
pop band, which failed, and even a gardening article for a UK Sunday paper, in which he demonstrated
that he had nothing like a garden. I keep this in mind in all the bitching in the arts. As Hirst has said, “I
can't wait to get into a position to make really bad art and get away with it”. Anyway the opening track
is a recording of the malfunctioning smoke detector, by Smith, followed by Charles Haywood's These
vaporous ghosts, a short work divided in two the latter the reverse of the former, a menacing droney
work. Blood Quartet's 'Dark Light' is a very badly recorded piece of jazz? Clipped to distortion, Wolf
Eyes follows with 3 minutes of pulse drumming and muddy vocal, again monstrously clipped with
little treble or bass. Each piece is around 3 minutes, and i'm looking at this in Goldwave and you can
see the clipping of the signal. Tara Pattenden, very distorted noise/guitar, The Mores, acoustic noise
again clipped, Three Legged Race, space noise, clipped, Gregory Jacobsen, spoken word... and tracks
continue through variations of pure noise to deliberately incompetent 'rock'? The single most occurring
feature is the cut at -3 db. For example Heli & Kevin Dunn - The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood - #23 a
supposed lilting folk song so badly recorded it must have been deliberate. Why? This track would
standout amongst the various noise works, but doesn't because of the muddy recording. Some, like
Aaron Dilloway's pulses remain below the threshold for the most part, but still have a general
muddiness about them. And then for no apparent reason some like Arvo Zylo's Upheaval 90 somehow
avoids the cut and is a full on sonic wall of noise unlike poor Lasse Marhaug whose noise is cut to
sound like it was recorded over a telephone. For convenience and analysis i've been listening to the
mp3 tracks downloaded from the site, so I can see as well as hear the recordings. I remain puzzled
by this work, but can confirm the recordings on cassette are no different. There is only one factor
which I can think which unifies this compilation. Compilations are notoriously difficult as a variety
introduces a lack of coherence, and here the variety is large, and 69 tracks!, of very different content.
However the unifying factor could be poor recording quality, aggressive limiting, which unifies this,
maybe like the original malfunctioning smoke detector, it is the very unifying idea. “Seeded in magnific
din” perhaps? So maybe we should ignore, or 'background' the content, like in the art exhibition, for
the accidental or deliberate failure at any un polluted exposition? But then how this relates to the
feminist photographs of Alexis Hunter I really do not know. Add to this the stuckist idea of anti-anti-art,
how the contributors might feel regarding the “poor” production, maybe “in on it”, a gesture of
“loathing” of all or some art, again, I really do not know. Maybe that doesn't matter. If so then IMO
that makes for a crisis, one in which left wing dissent and extreme capitalism merge. (jliat)
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