number 1201
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week 40
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MARC BARRECA - FROM THE GRAY AND THE GREEN (CD by Palace Of Lights) *
VOLKER HENNES - HOLY WATER WHISPER (CD by Entr’acte) *
K. MULHERN - SILT (CD by Entr’acte) *
OHAD FISHOF - ALBUM 1 (LP/CD by Entr’acte) *
LAWAAI - DENSITIES, FORCES, INTENSITIES (CD by Howard Records)
JIM MCAULEY & SCOT RAY - Second Earth (CD by Long Song Records) *
STEFAN ORINS & KARINE GOBERT & FRANCOIS TAILLEFER & PASCAL LOVERGNE – TEN
 WORLDS (CD by CJN Records)
MATT SARGENT - SEPARATION SONGS (CD by Cold Blue Music) *
ROBERT CARL - SPLECTRA (CD by Cold Blue Music) *
MICHAEL BYRON - BRIDGES OF PEARL AND DUST (CD by Cold Blue Music) *
SEBASTIEN ROUX – INEVITABLE MUSIC #5 (CD by Brocoli) *
VILHELM BROMANDER & FREDRIK RASTEN - ... FOR SOME REASON THAT ESCAPES US (LP
 by Differ Records)
THOMAS HAMILTON - PIECES FOR KOHN (LP by Mental Experience)
CARE OF THE COW - DOGS' EARS ARE STUPID (CD/LP by Mental Experience)
CHELIQUE SARABIA - REVOLUCION 'ELECTRONICA' EN MUSICA VENEZOLANA (CD/LP by
 Pharaway Sounds)
K-GROUP - ACCUEIL/OVER-FUTURE SHOP (7" by I Dischi Del Barone) *
DANIEL SPICER/PAUL KHIMASIA MORGAN (split lathe cut 7" by The Slightly Off Kilter Label)
9T ANTIOPE - GRIMACE (CDR by Eilean Records) *
YAN JUN - ADAPTOR (cassette by Anathema Archive)
YOL & LLOYD & POSSET/RNPNO.2 (split cassette by Hyster Tapes)
SEWNSHUT (cassette by Sluggish Tapes)
KANTOOR 2 (cassette by Staaltape/Petrichor)
STORMHAT - MIND MATTER (double cassette by Sensorisk Verden)
THE HORSE HEAD BED/LARMSCHUTZ (split cassette by Faux Amis Records)
LUKE HOLLAND – VIRTUES OF TORTURE (cassette by Trapdoor Tapes)
HAL HUTCHINSON – STEELWORK FABRICATORS (cassette by Trapdoor Tapes)
M.A.S.O.N.N.A./ CONTROLLED DEATH – SPLIT (cassette by Trapdoor Tapes)
HARRE – SPIRITUAL INTOXICATION PT 1 & 2 (cassette by Trapdoor Tapes)



MARC BARRECA - FROM THE GRAY AND THE GREEN (CD by Palace Of Lights)
 
The music on this new CD by Marc Barreca is inspired by the landscape he lives in, the foothills of
the Cascade Mountains, which are located in the west part of the USA, from somewhere in Canada
down to Northern California. Barreca made field recordings there, which are incorporated in this
new music. It is, however, not exclusively made from that, and he adds synthesizers, samples and
'processed vinyl'. Thus it comes pieces of music inspired by his surrounding; a bit like, so the label
notes, Brian Eno's 'On Land' or Robert Henke's 'Studies For Thunder'. I have been hearing music
by Barreca for quite some time and the man never disappoints me. It is too easy to call this ambient
music. It is surely a point of departure for Barreca when he starts composing music, to make it all
somehow, somewhere, somewhat all atmospheric, but it never becomes traditional ambient music.
In all of his pieces, and there are eleven of them here, ranging between four and seven minutes,
there is a lot more happening; for instance, quite a few times I was believing to hear guitar-like
sounds, even when I have no idea if he really uses a guitar. Field recordings are so much
transformed that one no longer recognizes them; not much water, frogs or birds here (perhaps
save for the last piece, 'Skookum Falls'). The synthesizers are dramatic, colourful, and melodic
or even a bit rhythmic, such as in 'Across The Dalles' (is that a beat in that song, I wondered?).
Certainly, there is also quite an orchestral sense to the music, with sampled strings playing an
important role. Barreca's pieces are built from many layers and never seem to be resting too long
in one place, without losing that fine sense of atmosphere. Nothing Barreca does sound in any
way rushed, yet it is never sparse or minimal. He rather seems to achieve a fuller sound; all like
a massive landscape. You look at all the trees, all the way up the mountain and you see an
endless mass of variations there, many shades of green, but if you look closer also so many
other colours. That sort of immersive experience is what Barreca is after and he succeeds very
well; again. (FdW)
––– Address: http://palaceoflights.com


 
VOLKER HENNES - HOLY WATER WHISPER (CD by Entr’acte)
K. MULHERN - SILT (CD by Entr’acte)
OHAD FISHOF - ALBUM 1 (LP/CD by Entr’acte)
 
Two new titles from the Belgian (formerly English) label Entr’acte, whose prolific output tends
toward Three new titles from the Belgian (formerly English) label Entr’acte, whose prolific output
tends toward underground electronic music with some sympathy for more academic/“classical”
composition. The label also often publishes albums by lesser-known producers, making it a great
place to randomly dip in to the voluminous catalog (243 releases at the time of this writing) and be
surprised. I hadn’t heard of any of these artists before listening to these album. Nice that someone
is digging around the underground and presenting work by folks who even I, a dedicated addict to
this sort of stuff, had no prior awareness of.
    Hennes’ latest album is his third for Entr’acte, following a CD released in 2015 and a tape from
2012. “Holy Water Whisper” was played (or so the liner notes tell me) entirely and exclusively using
a single patch on a Nord Modular G1 synth without any effects or overdubs, seemingly all live in
one take for each of the 9 tracks. I immediately worried that this would be like Aube, wringing too
many minutes out of a self-imposed limitation for no good reason, but thankfully Hennes is better
than that. His previous albums also were also built around an instrumental/conceptual restriction,
so this is an area he’s explored before. The titles give you a bit of an idea what you’re in for:
several versions each of “Fluid Noise”, “Cleaning”, and “Holy Whisper”. As the words imply, the
sound is wet and somewhat hushed… like splashing around in a shallow sink or a puddle. The
“Fluid Noise” tracks are more single-minded, though none are ‘noise’ in the assaultive sense and
certainly nothing on the album is harsh or abrasive. More like chaotic spinning of high-speed
bloops creating a bouncing random-seeming texture like what you might hear if you turned on a
small fan and stuck it into a bathtub, then dunked your head into the tub and listened from below
the threshold. The noisiest tracks are actually the ones called “Cleaning”, which are more-or-less
uniform density hiss and spit. Hennes’ concept doesn’t inhibit what he’s capable of; this album
held my attention from start to finish, surely aided by the pristine and detailed production that pulls
a listener in to admire all the glittering glassine surfaces.
     York multi-disciplinary artist K. Mulhern’s album, “Silt”, I must admit to a bias: I have a hard time
with poetry. Written or spoken, I just am not into it. Mulhern’s soundwork here is pretty solid
undulating drone and crumpling concrete shuffle. If all the album consisted of was half an hour of
her scissor-snip knife-sharpening strikes and gelatinous drones, I’d be into it. However, Mulhern is
a poet… and she speaks her words over and under this bed of innocuous sound. She sometimes
resembles a Hurtado brother, the whispering sibilance melding in with its sonic surrounding.
Unfortunately, when I can make out the content of the language, I’m taken right out of the music.
The album’s second half is more sound than words, and a pleasant (if not particularly compelling
or original) quarter hour of repetitive organ chords and bird songs.
    “Album 1” is a pretty good title for the first solo album by Israeli composer Ohad Fishof, though
he’s been active for years in soundtrack work, music for dance and theater, performance art and
(some time ago) post-punk. Theatricality remains a strong element of “Album 1”. Between electro-
acoustic abstractions for sampled clunks and bleeps are art-rock songs like “Edgeless Language”,
which reminds me of mid-80s Tuxedomoon with Fishof’s moody crooning recalling Winston Tong’s
melodrama… or the atmospheric “Walong Tudu”, which begins with a breathy ballad and dissipates
into sparse digital stammering. Other tracks are more aggressively strange, like the interlude “Solo”
which could be a cut-up donkey braying or perhaps a guitar… hard to tell for sure. There’s even a
traditionally lovely lullaby, “After Chorus”, which finds Fishof harmonizing with himself and steadily
adding more ghostly reverb to affect the piano accompaniment. The juxtaposition of beat-free
collage and recognizable songs implies some sort of narrative, but it’s never clearly spelled out
and I’m sure it’s not intended to. The album concludes with “The Last Cannibal”, another one
featuring Fishof’s singing with bleating saxophone and a strange almost-breakbeat, sending the
album out on a surprisingly energetic note. (HS)
––– Address: http://entracte.co.uk


HAND & LEG - LUST IN PEACE (CD by Fourth Dimension)

This album is a CD reissue of the Greek drums-and-bass duo’s most recent LP, and frankly it’s not
really the sort of thing that Vital Weekly reviews. We were sent it, I imagine, because we’re
generally sympathetic to the output of the Fourth Dimension label, which is beholden to no genre
and puts out whatever in hell it wants to. That’s an unambiguously good thing! If you are someone
who plunks down your bucks for whatever Fourth Dimension puts out, you can’t be sure what you’ll
hear. Sometimes it’ll be harsh noise or power electronics (like Limbs Bin or Ramleh) or industrial
rhythms (like JFK)… and sometimes, you’ll get rock by contemporary normal-adjacent bands like
Hand & Leg or Gad Whip. I imagine there are people who submit to Fourth Dimension’s wide
range of music interests and trust that, whatever the new thing will be, it will at least be worth
checking out. Such is the case here, but… Vital reviews mainly abstract “experimental” music,
and this is pretty plainly rock n’ roll. I’ll try to do the best I can: Hand & Leg is a bass-and-drums-
duo, but not quite like other virtuosic rhythm-section-only bands like Lightning Bolt or Ruins. “Lust
in Peace” is a set of mostly slow, bludgeoning songs that seem to draw from garage rock and post-
punk. The band can sound a bit like Swans (such as on the song “Spit In My Eye”), but then they do
a weird waltz (“Bahamas”) or sparse and catchy pop-minded songs (like “Shoplift”) or else they
sometimes augment the sparse instrumentation with electronic effects (like the PiL-ish “Peter
Pancake”). The singer’s adenoidal whine won’t be for everyone’s tastes, for sure. Like I said, this
is not really what VW tends to review, but I entirely support Fourth Dimension’s commitment to not
giving a damn about audience expectations. I hope they sell a million copies. (HS)
––– Address: http://www.fourthdimensionrecords.com



LAWAAI - DENSITIES, FORCES, INTENSITIES (CD by Howard Records)
 
´Lawaai´ is the Dutch word for ´noise´ and a first hint of what to expect here. The musicians involved
here are `against the systematic classification of sound into noise and music´. We are speaking
here of a Copenhagen-based trio with an international line up of Kamil Piotrowicz (piano), Stan
Callewaert (double bass) and Jeppe Høi Justesen (drums). Jeppe Høi Justesen finished his
studies at the Copenhagen Conservatory in 2017 and is active in the Danish scene of
experimental music Pianist Kamil Piotrowicz from Poland, also finished in studies in Copenhagen
that he started in Gdansk. He is awarded for several prizes for example for the album ‘Popular
Music’ with his Kamil Piotrowicz Sextet. Also, Belgian bassist Stan Callewaert is based in
Copenhagen where he like his companions finished his music studies. In Belgium, he was a
member of the Donder-trio that released several albums. Lawaai describes their mission as “a
statement against the systematic classification of sound into noise and music. Using intuitive
improvisation as a method, the trio pursues a music praxis free from expectations and intentions –
free from historical and stylistic approaches”, a project in search for a point zero to depart from. It
is an impossible mission in the end, but nothing wrong with this as an intention that may help to
discover new territories. They do their research with acoustic instruments only, and from the first
minutes, it becomes clear they use a minimalistic approach. The album has three tracks:
‘Densities’ (19:56), ‘Forces’ (4:09) and ‘Intensities’ (10:50). Their acoustic soundscapes are very
reduced and stripped, and the titles seem to suggest what they are about. Repetition is a motive
they work with. Like the short piano-pattern that is repeated in ‘Forces’. Also timbre and colour
are important aspects of their stretched-out textures. I guess they succeeded well in their intention
to abstract from conventions and to start from intuitive interplay, letting unfold what is happening
through their interplay. It is music? Is it just sound? You decide if it a question that matters for you.
Anyway, they play a game worth playing in my view! Recorded at Polish Radio Studios, Warsaw
on March 22th, 2018. (DM)
––– Address: https://www.howardrecords.com/


 
JIM MCAULEY & SCOT RAY - Second Earth (CD by Long Song Records)
 
This documents the first meeting of two improvising guitarists: Jim McAuley (classical, 6-string,
12-string, high-string dobro, prepared parlour guitar) and Scot Ray (lap steel slide guitar, effects).
Kind of a blind date: ”Nothing was planned or discussed in advance. The resulting tracks are
presented here chronologically, in order of recording and there are “no edits, nothing added or
deleted”, included information assures us. We hear it, as it was played. That is something that
cannot be said very often any more. For improvised music, however, it is, or should be part of the
game. Kansas-born guitarist Jim Mcauley is one of those veterans - starting near the end of the
60s - whose activity is sparsely documented. Near the end of the 60s, he started in a folk-rock band
and underwent subsequently influences of Fahey, Basho, micro-tonality. Later Rod Poole and
Nels Cline became important musical partners. It is only after the turn of the century that Mcauley
had his first release with his Acoustic Guitar Trio - including Rod Poole and Nels Cline - he
released A well-received album for Incus released in 2001. In 2005 he released his first solo
album: ‘Gongfarmer18’ for Nine Winds, playing acoustic guitar. Meanwhile the Italian Long Song
Records - a very profiled label dedicated to Italian and international jazz and improvised music –
released several albums that feature Mcauley, also the one we are now talking about. Scot Ray
used to play the trombone working with Brain Setzer, Nels Cline, Vinny Golia. In 2003 he switched
to a completely different non-fixed pitch instrument: slide guitar. With Alex Cline and Stewart Liebig
as regular musical partners. But let’s turn to ‘Second Earth’ now. Both players excel in some very
organic and sensible playing. Their intertwined and communicative playing, combining a picking
and a sliding style, opens a very musical universe that is pure joy. (DM)
––– Address: http://www.longsongrecords.com/en



STEFAN ORINS & KARINE GOBERT & FRANCOIS TAILLEFER & PASCAL LOVERGNE – TEN
 WORLDS (CD by CJN Records)
 
Several projects and involvements of Stefan Orins from Lille, France have been reviewed here
over the years (Stefan Orins Trio, Circum Grand Orchestra, Flu(o)). Most of this output is released
on Circum Disc. This new release is musically spoken a more conventional one seen from Vital
Weekly perspectives. This one is released on the also Lille-based CJN label that we know from
releases by Nandi and the Jesse Blondeel Quartet. In 2006 Stefan Orins released ‘Bonheur
Temporaire’. An album of instrumental music performed by his trio that included his brother Peter
Orins (drums) and Christophe Hache (bass). These compositions are presented here once again
but now with vocals by Karine Gobert who was invited to write lyrics to them. For this new as well
for the original recording counts that the music is inspired on ‘the Buddhist Concept of the Ten
Worlds. Buddhism identifies ten states or conditions of life that we experience within our lives,
moving from one to another at any moment according to our interactions with our environment
and those around us. The Ten Worlds are Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Humanity, Heaven,
Learning, Realisation, Bodhisattva and Buddhahood’. The compositions, using this as titles, are
performed this time by Stefan Orins (piano, backing vocal), Karine Gobert (vocals, lyrics), François
Taillefer (percussion, vocals) and Pascal Lovergne (acoustic bass guitar). Prominent are the
vocals of Karine Gobert a singer so far unknown to me. From what I read she feels equally at
home in the context of pop songs as well as contemporary music (Meredith Monk, etc.), and also
jazz as this release illustrates. She has a flexible voice and her special timbre. She gives an
inspired performance, but I didn’t immediately become a fan of her vocal style that ranges from
jazzy phrasing to Tibetan-like throat-singing in the opening of ‘Realisation’. The opening title
‘Heaven’ is a samba-flavoured piece. Following track ‘Animality’ has Indian-inspired percussion.
‘White Cadillac’ is a jazzy ballad if not strange percussion and bass lines give it another
character. Throughout it is especially the diverse percussion that adds a special twist to these
jazzy compositions, evoking the ten above mentioned inner states. (DM)
––– Address: https://stefanorins.jimdo.com/ten-worlds/


 
MATT SARGENT - SEPARATION SONGS (CD by Cold Blue Music)
ROBERT CARL - SPLECTRA (CD by Cold Blue Music)
MICHAEL BYRON - BRIDGES OF PEARL AND DUST (CD by Cold Blue Music)
 
Since a couple of years, Cold Blue Music releases CD singles, up to twenty minutes of music.
However the first of their new releases is also a single CD, one-piece, spanning however some
seventy-three minutes. It is 'Separation Songs' by Matt Sargent, of whom I had not heard before,
he is a composer, guitarist, music technologist and audio engineer and in his work, spaces play
an important role, either in a concert of installation work. 'Separation Songs; "juxtaposes and
weaves together an array of 18th-century composer William Billings' hymn tunes, gradually
altering them as the piece unfolds". It is a work for two string quartets, even when only one
quartet plays both parts here, the Eclipse Quartet. I hope I am excused for not having any idea
who Billings was, nor never hearing his music. I can imagine a bit of what it is like, based on what
I hear. It is slow, mournful music, spun out ad infinitum (well, almost). I think this is a beautiful piece
of music and I am not sure why. I like the slowness of the development, the melodic touch and the
general minimalism. If anything, I am reminded of the work of Gavin Bryars, his Obscure Records,
and then both sides, but less any talking and water sounds. Forty years ago, Brian Eno could have
picked this record as well for inclusion on the great Obscure Records series. A long and excellent
piece of music that brought some much needed calm to my place.
           Also, I don't think I heard of Robert Carl before. He is called a composer, a performer and an
author books and articles on new music. His pieces are called "eclectic, often serene compositions
- rooted in the spirit of transcendentalism and experiment - usually explore a harmonic language
based on the overtone series". 'Splectra' is a work for harp and digital processing, which in this
case is Max/MSP. Alison Bjorkedal plays the harp. Two short pieces on this CD, in total fifteen
minutes of music. There is indeed some serenity in the two parts of 'Splectra', but there is, oddly
enough perhaps, also a slightly harsher tone to be noted in these pieces. A metallic resonating
sound if you will, a sharp tone if you will; maybe of heavy amplifying the harp, which contrasts
nicely with the more melodic content of the 'real' harp here. Sometimes this seems like a duet
between a piano and harp; I even had to check the cover again if that wasn't the case here. It
wasn't. An excellent, and sadly however an all-too-short work.
           Like with the previous batch of releases, there is now another CDEP by Michael Byron (see
also Vital Weekly 1167). It is a work for four vibraphones and Ben Phelps performs all of them.
There is some mild distortion in the music, which I am not sure if this is my equipment acting up,
or if it is part of the music, but it works very well. The gentle sounds of the vibraphone versus the
layering causing that very mild distortion is something that Byron plays around with. The various
rhythms working at the same time provide a fine sound colour. It is very layered so none of the
rhythms can be called a 'beat', but occasionally a note slips out, like at the end of a phrase. The
whole piece lasts sixteen minutes and that is, I think, also way too short. I would not have minded
this twice as long, spacing out the piece a bit more, letting vibraphone tones escape and keep it
under mild pressure. This is lovely work! (FdW)
––– Address: http://coldbluemusic.com


 
SEBASTIEN ROUX – INEVITABLE MUSIC #5 (CD by Brocoli)
 
In 2016 Sébastien Roux started a series collecting pieces based on the works of American artist
Sol LeWitt, which the composer calls Inevitable Music. Brocoli now releases the fifth instalment on
CD. Within the minimal aesthetic and hard-edged, straight-angled cleanliness of LeWitt and Roux'
work for instruments, there is something strangely off-kilter about his concept. For Roux asserts the
pieces are sonic translations of for example one of LeWitt's wall drawings or the artist's instructions
therefor. Thus: the piece or the 'manual' on how to make the piece can function and/or ís the score
which the contemporary music ensemble Dedalus plays, one assumes.
           Not quite, as Roux also presents himself as the composer (maybe translator?) of these
pieces, which were written during a residency at the Villa Medici in 2016 – composed per se for
guitar, bassoon, clarinet, trumpet, violin, cello, viola and voice. So which is it?
           In the clear-cut artistic world of LeWitt having two captains on one ship is unheard of. That
cannot be. LeWitt conceptualized and it was up to other people to fabricate or draw or paint the
work within his set instructions.
           LeWitt himself asserts, in his famous Sentences on Conceptual Art: “For each work of art that
becomes physical there are many variations that do not. A work of art may be understood as a
conductor from the artist's mind to the viewer's. But it may never reach the viewer, or it may never
leave the artist's mind.”
           But still: LeWitt was the artist. His was the nucleus. And no two captains on this one ship. I
cannot see or hear where Roux comes into play here. Dedalus must be considered to be able
enough to perform a drawing or sculpture by LeWitt or one of his instructions. Where does Roux
enter into the picture then? How does he add to the graphic score for which LeWitt's works might
be taken? And – above all – why would he be needed in the first place as an intermediate or
mediator? And also: why bloody why add the explanatory voice in between the works? That kind
of does away with any personal interpretation and makes this cd very school-master like instructive.
A bit like with the concept for this series: it clutters. And it is extremely tedious and annoying.
           LeWitt exudes space and open-endedness and incompleteness and myriad possibilities.
Roux seems to 'limit' the ensemble into playing LeWitt's work(s) to his composition only. This feels
confining. As does the commentary – very much so even.
           Don't get me wrong: I'd encourage contemporary ensembles to perform post-war works of
visual art as graphic scores any day. I'd love to hear Judd, Serra, Polke or Richter performed with
the work(s). However: this album feels a bit too convoluted – too much explanation, too much
mediation between work and listener. And at long last: much less inevitability, which need not be
because LeWitt can perfectly be 'played' as Roland Dahinden, for example, has shown before.
And again: don't get me wrong... Roux knows how to compose compelling works that work best when
these touch on long lines reminiscent of an avant-garde future projection of a combination between
repetition as known from Reich and static drone in the Niblock-vein. But when working with LeWitt
adding to the process just feel odd and wrong. Less, much much less would have been so much
more. (SSK)
––– Address: http://www.brocoli.org/release/sebastien-roux-inevitable-music-5


 
VILHELM BROMANDER & FREDRIK RASTEN - ... FOR SOME REASON THAT ESCAPES US (LP
  by Differ Records)
 
This is the third release in a short time that includes the work of Frederik Rasten (see also Vital
Weekly 1183 and 1196), this time with one Vilhelm Bromander. He plays double bass and voice,
whereas Rasten is on bowed, plucked and e-bowed guitar and voice. Whatever that voice is, I
don't know. I heard not many if any at all. The music was recorded over two days in August 2018
and mixed later on. There are six pieces on this album, which surprised me, as it means they are
a bit shorter than I am used to. Especially given the nature of their work, the longer time frame of
the pieces is perhaps something that works better? I am not sure. The two musicians are interested
in just intonation ("or pure intonation is the tuning of musical intervals as (small) whole number
ratios of frequencies. Any interval tuned in this way is called a just interval") within the realm of
both improvised and composed music. What they come up, is quite interesting, as it moves
beyond the 'pure drone' approach that one would perhaps expect. In 'Onward', the third piece on
the second side, Bromander plays a low thump of rhythm, while the guitar is being plucked very
occasionally. There is also a fine resonant frequency lingering on, which works quite well in
shaping the mood of this piece. In 'A Glimpse Of A Thousand Examples', the drone elevate just a
little bit, while bows make the instruments sing in a very loose way; it is also the piece in which
we hear voices humming along with the drones (perhaps by both of them?). There are also some
more formal drone approaches, such as in the shorter 'Harmony For Two Or More Voices 1', which
is almost like a small orchestral piece. Both instruments have a great acoustic sound to it, recorded
very direct and without much additional colouring and there is quite some variation in approaches
here. Light meets dark, strict playing versus open-ended and composed and improvised. It is this
variety that makes this a great album. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.differrecords.bandcamp.com


 
THOMAS HAMILTON - PIECES FOR KOHN (LP by Mental Experience)
CARE OF THE COW - DOGS' EARS ARE STUPID (CD/LP by Mental Experience)
CHELIQUE SARABIA - REVOLUCION 'ELECTRONICA' EN MUSICA VENEZOLANA (CD/LP by
 Pharaway Sounds)
 
It has been a while since I last heard music by Tom Hamilton. Yet the sticker on the front of 'Pieces
For Kohn', says I called his music 'some great, free electronic music'. In my not so great functioning
archive I couldn't find when I said that. The last time I may have heard music by Hamilton was a trio
disc with ID M Theft Able and Al Margolis, back in Vital Weekly 812. I certainly didn't use those
words to describe 'Pieces For Kohn' when it first came out, back in 1976. I was not yet into limited
pressed vinyl from electronic composers. Now there is a re-issue of this LP. Hamilton got into
electronic music in the mid-'60s after attending a lecture by the legendary Vladimir Ussachevsky
and following that, Hamilton started to build his audio circuits and battery-operated boxes. Later
on, he built a studio in St. Louis and met up with Bill Kohn, who was a painter and his interests to
"fulfil 3-D geometric and architectural compositions in paintings, prints and watercolours". Hamilton
was a fan of his work and the music is inspired by the paintings. The album was recorded at the
Washington University Electronic Music/Recording Studio. Via some sort of sort-up that is beyond
my understanding, Hamilton recorded the music and I would think it is very much in a similar
geometric constellation as the paintings (one is on the cover). The music is very much what one
would call 'early electronic music' (think Subotnik, Luening/Ussachevsky, Dockstader,
Stockhausen) and I am not the person to say if it 'works' well, composition-wise. However, listening
to this LP made me realize that this is of course much like the current trend of modular electronics,
and all sundry should take notice of a record like this, simply because this shows what one can do
when one starts to work with various layers of sound and then mixing the music into a complex
total. Whereas many of the current modular musicians rather stay in the moment, resulting in a hit
and miss a thing, Hamilton shows how to do these things properly. The four pieces show multi-
layered and multi-coloured aspects that I seem to miss in the current work by others (without
wanting to sound like an old grump who says that in the past everything was better). I wouldn't
say the music is that 'free', as I declare on the sticker, as Hamilton structures his music quite well,
and it is less free than some of the music he produced later on.
           I understand that Mental Experience is part of a bigger label, Guerssen, and they are doing
some re-issues here. Care Of The Cow started in 1974, released a 10" in 1975 and an LP in 1981.
In 1983 they worked with drum machines and released 'Dogs' Ears Are Stupid' on a limited
cassette, which is now released on CD and LP. I never heard of them in the 80's days. I see on
Discogs the band were never on compilations, so perhaps that explains I never of them. The four-
piece band consists of Christine Baczewska, Kevin Clark, Sher Doruff and Victor Sanders; I hear
synthesizers, female vocals, a drum machine and the label describes them as a mix of psychedelic
folk-rock, art rock, DIY/post-punk ("think Beatles, Fripp, Eno, Joni Mitchell, Carla Bley, Pauline
Oliveros, Eric Dolphy"). Indeed quite art rocky and psychedelic mixed up with some new wave
influences. They seem very capable musicians. Their music, however, left me quite cold. Had I
picked this up in the '80s and playing this to death ever since I might have thought otherwise. But I
didn't and since then I heard so much music, that I find this sort of art-rock pretentious and overly
intellectual. It misses that rawness of post-punk, that edgy experiment to make it a bit different to
stand out of the rest. No drum machine may help there. Perhaps this is not my cup.
           Another division of Guerssen is Pharaway Sounds and they also have a re-issue, by
Chelique Sarabia, with his album 'Revolucion 'Electronica' en Musica Venezolana'. Sarabia takes
some traditional and folkloristic songs from Venezuela, but then played on the Moog, along with
some musicians. I am no expert in this field and the one reviewer we had for this kind of music, left
VW along time ago (The Square Root Of Sub) to pursue other interests. I doubt if he still into the
lounge music, space-age exotica, Joe Meek, B-movie porn soundtracks. I have no idea about the
original tunes, nor about the way they are now played. It is entertaining music for sure; but not my
cup of tea, again. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.guerssen.com



K-GROUP - ACCUEIL/OVER-FUTURE SHOP (7" by I Dischi Del Barone)
 
Surely I noted this before; I was very much into the New Zealand noise, drone, guitar and
electronics thing for quite some time, but not so much in recent years. I am not sure why that interest
shifted. I can still play Surface Of The Earth or, say, Sandoz Lab Technicians and like it. K-Group? It
is more a name now than what I remember music-wise. Paul Toohay is the man behind K-Group,
and as such probably not a group. He's still active in recording music, as the two pieces here were
recorded in 2018 and 2019. It is the first physical release since 2003, so I am told. Both pieces work
as a time machine for me. The rough-edged rock/drone guitar sound that the New Zealand scene
had back in the day is still something that K-Group cherishes and plays out in full force; not to be
mistaken, of course, for a full-on noise approach. These pieces weigh a lot and are surely quite
dark, but are not about some mindless noise game. Also worthy of notice is that it doesn't sound
that lo-fi anymore. Whereas in the old days one could easily think that the music was captured via
the lowest of lowest means, this seems not to be the case here. Both pieces sound excellent, from
a production point of view. Much depth and likewise eye for detail of the sound; no murky hiss but
crispy clear. 'Over-Future Shop' has a fine rolling cascade like sound, whereas 'Accueil' is a drone-
based sustaining guitar ring. Two pieces, at 45rpm, equals about ten minutes of music and that is
the saddest thing of all; I was all geared up to hear lots more. Time to dig out the CD K-Group did
in the 90's or the split LP with Omit and blast some dirtier guitar drones. (FdW)
––– Address: http://iddb.se/



DANIEL SPICER/PAUL KHIMASIA MORGAN (split lathe cut 7" by The Slightly Off Kilter Label)
 
This is a very limited lathe cut 7", bringing two short pieces from people you may have heard of in
connection with this label. On one side we find Daniel Spicer, who is a "writer, broadcaster,
improviser and poet from Brighton" and that's surely something we hear on his piece. He recites
his poem 'Hazeblaze' while playing the percussion along with, and Ron Caines plays the alto
saxophone. The text we find on the inside of the cover. It is a bit too free jazzy for me, but not bad
at all. Paul Khimasia Morgan plays around with an "amplified guitar body and feedback system".
His piece lasts only four minutes but it is filled with some excellent controlled feedback music that
still sounds quite improvised with small gentle gestures to slightly alter the sound. I would not
have minded hearing a bit more of this. Maybe next time, on a CDR? (FdW)
––– Address: https://slightlyoffkilterlabel.blogspot.com/


 
9T ANTIOPE - GRIMACE (CDR by Eilean Records)
 
This might very well be (I am not sure), the first release by Eilean Records that comes with a lyric
sheet. 9T Antiope is from Iran, of all places, and a duo of Nima Aghiani for all things musical and
Sara Bigdeli Shamloo for all things lyrical and vocal. I compare it with their second release (the
first I heard; Vital Weekly 1075) the voice with that of Beth Gibbons of Portishead and the music
was quite experimental. Some things have indeed changed since then. Shamloo's voice seems
to have changed and now resembles a combination of Gibbons and Björk, but with the more
orchestral backing of Aghiani, the music is less experimental and expands into something bigger.
It is no longer some sort of intimate ambient with vocals it was before, but powerful, almost pop-like
songs. Gone are the long-form compositions and in are the short pieces. At five songs in twenty-
five minutes, this is more an extended play, rather than a full-length album, but the sound of 9T
Antiope makes a major leap here. Aghiani plunders freely the box of orchestral (lots of violins,
wind instruments) in combination with some weirder, electronic sounds to create a mighty
landscape for Shamloo's voice to excel in. In the final song, 'Mise En Abyme', it is at it's most
experimental, but in the other four, they have a fine cinema-like feeling to it. Film noir of course,
 and the whole sound has also a 4AD like approach; a bit This Mortal Coil. I wouldn't be surprised
at all if 9T Antiope would soon be discovered by a major label (or a minor major) and move to a
wider audience. Their music is very well suited to be performed by this duo with the help of a
small orchestra. Now is the time for it to make the next transition. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.eilean-records.com/



YAN JUN - ADAPTOR (cassette by Anathema Archive)
 
Quite a few musicians reviewed in these pages work with concepts; Yan Jun from China might be
as hardcore as it gets. On the cover of 'Adaptor', you find this text: "audio adaptors connecting and
disconnecting without monitoring. All tracks have been compressed and slightly edited. B1 and B2
also have been de-noised". The four pieces are called 'Dry', 'Super Dry', 'Wet' and 'Super Wet'. The
Bandcamp page also has this e-mail excerpt from Yan Jun to Anathema Archive: "i don't know if it
fits your taste. i like it very much. it's something i started 9 years ago but abandoned for long time.
it's about body extend within electricity. but maybe people will say this guy is crazy. i don't know.
some would certainly like it. but some must hate it." I read that statement and the liner notes
carefully and I am still not sure why you would be bothered thinking about if other people would
hate it or not, but, perhaps more importantly, I have no idea what that audio adaptors connecting
and disconnecting sound like, even when I dabble from time to time with audio connectors. I guess
(!) it all has to with unwanted sound phenomena part of the recording process. You unplug
something, it buzzes and crackles and it's gone. Unless your name is Yan Jun and like these
sounds to work with; you just repeat the buzzes all the time and find little variations in these
crackles, buzzes and pops. Yan Jun doesn't set out to create harsh noise music, far from it,
actually, as it can sometimes be very quiet. I am not sure what the difference is between 'dry' and
'wet' here, but maybe in the 'dry' pieces it is all about short, abrupt sounds and in 'wet' about
sustaining faulty electrical connections that he plays. No further processing is used, so it is, all in
all a pretty radical release in terms of pure aural pleasure. Love it, hate it: it won't leave you
indifferent. (FdW)
––– Address: https://anathemarchive.bandcamp.com/


 
YOL & LLOYD & POSSET/RNPNO.2 (split cassette by Hyster Tapes)
 
Here we have split tape with on the first a trio recording made earlier this year in Glasgow. It
features Yol (vocals and metal objects), Lloyd (Dictaphone and vocals) and Posset (Dictaphone
and vocals). This is music meeting performance art meeting poetry, in a very personal purge of
sounds, captured on tape, voices, vocals, mouth sounds and occasional stumble upon metallic
objects. Maybe Yol is reading from a manual, maybe it is something very private, but I could not
quite grasp the meaning of it all. I was reminded of Sindre Bjerga's solo work here, perhaps more
abstract, but with a similar approach to Dictaphones and small sounds. I wasn't blown away by it,
and wondered what made it special enough to release. I am not sure.
           On the other side, we have three pieces by RNPno. 2, which were called RNPn.02 before
(Vital Weekly 1152) and about whom I still know nothing. They open up with a fairly long piece of
moody drones; it could have been made on a modular synthesizer, but for all I know it could also
have been a bit of feedback that is looped around in a sort of neat ambient way. Before it was said
they used "assorted electronics, instruments & percussions lying in a mildly intoxicated basement",
but also in the other two pieces I would think it is no longer a bundle of instruments and
percussions, but surely lots of electronics and field recordings, certainly for the two shorter pieces.
The moodiness here forms a fine contrast with a rough tumble on the other side of the cassette.
RNPno.2 seems have made some progress from lo-fi rock improvisations of the first time I heard
their music. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.pcuf.fi/~plaa/hyster.html


 
SEWNSHUT (cassette by Sluggish Tapes)
 
Here is a small mystery. The cover of this cassette mentions the name of the band (?) and the eight
titles of the songs. No label, no website or such are mentioned, but I learned from Discogs that this
is the first release by Sluggish Tapes. No Bandcamp or website over there either. So that's the
extent of what I know here. Nothing. Judging by the music I would think this a one-person project
armed with a synth or two, a drum machines (maybe additional percussion here or there, for
instance in 'Diminutive Mute'); perhaps the software versions of such synths. It is not for me to say
what they are. I could think something is a bit lost in translating the music when duplicating the
cassettes, but perhaps there also has been something naive in the process of recording. The all-
electronic music is rhythmic, yet not danceable. It is all more moody tunes with a fine touch of 80's
melancholia (either spleen of a general nature or a longing for that decade). I was reminded of
Mittland Och Leo, but then perhaps less complex and at times also less cheery. Sewnshut keeps
his material close together, within a limited dynamic range and with minimal development. I
thought that worked quite well. Maybe on a CDR and some additional mastering, it would have
been a bit brighter, shinier, but now it has exactly that shady quality that fits the music as well as
the format. Mysterious as to who made the music and what it is all about. There is more to discover
but not just yet. Next time please reveal a bit more! (FdW)
––– Address: none



KANTOOR 2 (cassette by Staaltape/Petrichor)
 
Following the first instalment of 'Kantoor', there is now a new one, with found sound and a booklet
of text, both new and found as well as found images. Still, I am not sure why this is called 'office', in
Dutch "Kantoor". The four people who supplied material are all collectors of old tapes, preferable
from flea markets and thrift stores and preferable those that look like they have home recordings. In
the booklet, some of this is explained, but not as extensively as with the previous (Vital Weekly
1171) one. Which means that I am not entirely sure who supplied what here. I could assume that
each of the four participants has about twenty-two minutes at their disposal and they are filled with
the most obscure sounds. There are cows, people talking private conversations, a parade, some
music, sounds from shops and such like, all in a more or less endless stream; nothing lasts ever
very long and the narrative is a bit lost here; unlike the pieces by Ben Roberts from the last time
which was a clear documentary piece. Now, I think we should enjoy it more like a radio receiver,
picking up sounds from all around the world. It is still a fascinating experience here. Because it
seems to consist of many shortish fragments the speed is quite high. There is not always a lot of
music, which one could consider to be a pity, but I thought it all worked fine. It is still the
documentary form of the first volume, but now it is not very clear what is documented. It contains
written contributions by Rinus van Alebeek and Giada Dalla Bonta and music and words by Marcin
Barski, Kristoffer Raasted, Roman Voronovsky and Mark Vernon. Some of these names you may
recognize from Vital Weekly and their work with radio art, of which this is another extension. It is all
very obscure but that's where the power of this lies. (FdW)
––– Address: http://staaltape.com/


 
STORMHAT - MIND MATTER (double cassette by Sensorisk Verden)
 
Things have been quiet for a great number of years for Stormhat, also known as Peter Bach
Nicolaisen. The last time I may have read something about him was 'Kabine', back in Vital Weekly
750. I have no idea what the recent was for a long period of silence. I had not heard his music as I
didn't write the previous reviews. From the Bandcamp page, I understand this about the new
double cassette: "These sounds are only sounds, nothing else. They tell nothing, they mean
nothing. They are produced on primitive hand-built synths + mixed with recordings of more or
less random incidents in reality and then further processed with various software. They are not
indifferent, even if they mean nothing." And more along the lines of things being transformed all
the time, so nothing can be recognized. One tape is called 'Mind', the other 'Matter'. It all sounds
like Stormhat wanted to clear the shelves, maybe as to announce he's ready for a fresh start. I am
not sure. The sources are a varied bunch here. Some pieces sound like very strict modular
synthesizer pieces, but there are also crumbled field recordings of water pipes running, monks
chanting and such like. Sometimes these two ends are combined but it doesn't happen a lot
unless of course I am grossly mistaken. I am not sure about this collection, to be honest. Some of
these pieces are at best not bad with a sort of interesting combination of electronics and/or field
recordings being mangled together, but more often it sort of stays too much in a non-composed
rough sound stadium, before any sculpting has been done to the music, and then in an all too
noisy way, which I do not always find attractive. Maybe it is also the duration of two tapes with this
that struck as a bit much. Maybe re-composing by the listener is encouraged, by playing both tapes
at the same time and thus generate a third, new mix? I am not sure if that is the idea, but, hey, why
not? (FdW)
––– Address: https://sensoriskverden.bandcamp.com/



THE HORSE HEAD BED/LARMSCHUTZ (split cassette by Faux Amis Records)
 
September is over, but this is the September split cassette by Lärmschutz and now their guests are
The Horse Head Bed. They are called "minimal rock jazz" group, and it is a trio of Eric Thielemans
(drums), Elko Blijweert (guitar) and Rudy Trouvé ("uses piano", as it says on the cover). I had not
heard of them before. They have four pieces here, of which one is two minutes and twenty-one-
seconds and one is over twelve minutes. Their music is pretty good, even when the words 'jazz'
and 'rock' usually don't signal my interest. The word 'minimal' however is of equal importance here,
as the music is indeed mostly minimal in approach, especially within the rhythm section (including
the piano) really, providing a somewhat complex myriad of jazzy rhythms and the guitar is allowed
to play repeating patterns but also to change it. That is perhaps the jazz aspect of the music? The
guitar in the role of the instrument playing the solos. There is something nicely naive about the
music that I enjoy, even when in general this is not my sort of thing.
           On the other side, Lärmschutz is a duo of Stef Brans (guitar) and Rutger van Driel (bass) and
two old friends as guests playing along, Spelonk (violin) and Serpentine (Shruti box). The first half
of their piece is a pretty mellow but spaced out improvisation, in which the violin plays a neat
soaring melody on top of the shaking of the earth. I thought it is indeed a fine response to the
music on the other side. The second half of the piece sees Lärmschutz moving towards their more
familiar territory of chaotic improvisation. The foundations are still shaking and the Shruti and violin
are now in serious distress; it is a particular grim piece of music; even for the likes of Lärmschutz, I
would think. (FdW)
––– Address: https://fauxamisrecords.bandcamp.com/



LUKE HOLLAND – VIRTUES OF TORTURE (cassette by Trapdoor Tapes)
HAL HUTCHINSON – STEELWORK FABRICATORS (cassette by Trapdoor Tapes)
M.A.S.O.N.N.A./ CONTROLLED DEATH – SPLIT (cassette by Trapdoor Tapes)
HARRE – SPIRITUAL INTOXICATION PT 1 & 2 (cassette by Trapdoor Tapes)
 
Skeuomorphism: Once upon a time making vinyl LPs was expensive, and still is, CDs were more
so, but now with CDR, these are cheap, professional short runs @ around a pound a throw with full
colour and card sleeve. Cassettes were once the only viable DIY alternative, and that last word is
important. Printing via photocopy machines was only black and white, and if images were used
often lacking in detail and gradation. The result was that DIY cassette releases using collage cut-
ups on colour paper were the only route for small run low cost 'indie', experimental, industrial and
power electronics. And at this time -before the Internet – there was 'real' censorship by “The
Establishment” of pornography, especially involving Sadomasochism. Such images and those of
mutilation, horror, fascist atrocities, pagan rituals and deformities were the recourse to those
wanting to shock the establishment by producing DIY cassette releases. (And often practising
these actualities)
           The releases hereunder review are though from 2019, and to give you a feeling of the
images as well as sounds, here is my cutup from texts relating to their producers... “Hellbent for
depravity, Corpse Befouler, Existence Is Decay, Vermin Species, Word Of Life Church SS
Variations, Extreme Penetrations, Mutilated Slut, Zyklon SS, Execution Support Act, Nihilist
Hatefuck, Symphony For The Black Murder, Golden Vomit, Kosmische Horror, Morbid Organ...”
You can now look up Skeuomorphism, or drag this review to the waste bin. :-) If you did look up
you will see I'm not being pejorative, or am I, as maybe I once did relate this activity to the likes of
Jeff Koons or the Chapmans. Those like Mark Fisher see this as a bad thing (I'm being very brief)
others, such as Don Norman “describes this process as a form of cultural heritage”. Which I'd push
to say ' a nostalgia for “progress”' where the aesthetic has had to be removed from the ethic. The
images, like the sounds, are no longer good or bad. Thus these two phrases are now compatible,
“Destroy Fascism, Love Forever! “ - “Zyklon SS supports the war against moral remediation”, by
which I do not mean 'can be', but are. They must be devoid of morality, yet no longer amoral. Luke
Holland's, who runs the label, “Virtues of Torture” is a 'soundscape' of dystopia, deep bass, and
bass thumps and throbs like some infernal machine, all of which lies under the effect of
oversaturated tape. No recognisable structures in the murk, some mutation, shifts, noisy pulses, a
slow wailing synth... all in a fog of dark sound... with little or no bandwidth. The terms 'industrial'
and 'power electronics' relate to a period described above, these terms about a more harsh sound
whose history is often seen as the part progenitor of noise (music), along with genres such as
Doom/Death... Metals and the Goth trends of the early 1980s, all can be typified as having a strong
psychological, expressive, emotional and violent programme which was a dark and negative
reaction to what was seen as “The Establishment” with its morals, structures and ideas of what
good music should be. A natural evolution of the anti-establishmentism of punk. Forty years on
and in its murk works such as “Virtues of Torture” have, rightly, a very different aesthetic.
           Hal Hutchinson's work often employs metal objects, chains, scrap metal etc. and this tape is
no exception. There is a deep rumble, the sound of a metal windlass, and various other metallic
scraping sounds, an occasional deep boom. Again the effect is 'slow', almost stopping at times,
which gives the sound an almost 'natural' ambience. This sound texture prevails on both sides,
what might be the B side more staccato and even slower.
           The M.A.S.O.N.N.A./ Controlled Death split is confusing for me as Controlled Death is
Masonna AKA. And the inlay, which features Victorian Gothic churches, monks and gravestones in
the lowest of lo-fi printing, gives, “MA.S.O.N.N.A. Mystic Another Selection Of Nurse's Naked
Anthology = MASONNA!(A) The Second Coming, Controlled Death (B) Prayer for a holy death, All
recorded by Maso Yamakzki at Death Control Studio in 2018. The first track is distinguished by a
constant heavy echo of about 30 seconds of all the noise made from electronica with so much
reverb and saturation the sources rendered opaque. This would be noise except the reverb and
echo give it an almost sci-fi feel if it wasn't so distorted and before the end this noise 'thins'... The
B side begins with a heavy chordal drone, sans echo and less reverb, but still the distortion hiss
of over recording levels. Notes within the chord change is a tonality which gives the piece a
musicality, that of say badly recorded church bells. After a few minutes, this seems to slow,
reducing the pitch, into which more tones are added, though this is still a drone, a slow 'pulse'
develops, and organ-like, distorted chord sequences, and more tonal electronica which brings
this to an end. That it is not like the A-side is only down to the lack of repetitive echo, the sonic
murk and pitch unifying both as well as the other tapes in this series.
           Harre is Ilkka Vekka, “Power industrial noise project from Finland” and Harre here can be
heard (facepalm) a sound texture less organ and more didgeridoo, single tone which obviously
has reverb as a series of clicks appears every few seconds, a deliberate or not glitch, in which
case this appears to be a loop. Lower pitches appear with more clicks, the same loop slowed?
The texture thickens with distortions...and other slow looped bass drones at a regular slow fall of 
5-10 seconds and distortions, lengthening through the piece, given that, and the clicks I suspect its
maybe an actual series of tape loops, slowed and processed, but these clicks do not add anything
to the drone, other than indicate how it was constructed, and that gives the 'noise' lo-fi epithet, and
justification, not that one is needed. The B side is in much the same vein except the drones waver
and loop, the reverb clicks are not apparent, and there is divergence across the stereo field. Again
like all these releases the slowness differentiates the works from the more archetypal noise, in
particular, this piece, clean from any recording artefacts (save for the very end), its use of the
stereo field and a progressive building and layering of sound and finale as a descent into deep
bass pushes moves it more towards psychedelic rock. It is the least noisy, least industrial, PE
track. Many years ago Industrial, PE challenged aesthetics and ethics, of what was good or bad,
acceptable or not, now, here, the removal of any ethic, of any 'ought', even of the idea that art
ought to be about nothing but art has the effect of making such work pointless, but only as the
decorative pointlessness of Skeuomorphism. This must now be a nostalgia which pertains to
everything including the present, like repeating a familiar word over and over until it loses its
meaning, it becomes a mantra for a continued and un-engaged existence capable of
overcoming dukkha, and at the same time opium for and of the individual. (jliat)
––– Address: trapdoortapes@hotmail.com

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