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MEINRAD KNEER - VOCABULARIES (CD by Evil Rabbit Records) *
MARCO COLONNA - FILI (CD by Niafunken) *
ENTRE VIFS & L'ECLIPSE NUE – L'ECLIPSE VIVE (CD by Aussaat) *
HAARE – BRAIN (CD by Aussaat) *
CASIA - FEUER WASSER STURM (CD by Wrotycz Records) *
LE RNST (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques) *
O PARADIS - WEITER WEG (CD by Wrotycz Records) *
EVAPORI - DIA-LOGOS I+II/CONCLUSION (LP by Fragment Factory) *
AKKORD I ON (LP, private) *
MIGUEL A. RUIZ - CLIMATERY (LP by Abstrakce Records) *
DAME AREA - LA SOLUZIONE É UNA (LP by BFE Records) *
MECÁNICA CLÁSICA - FILTRACIONES DE LUZ (cassette by Abstrakce Records) *
ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION - POST FAX NATION EP (LP by Galloping Foxley Recordings) *
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - PISSING ON THE POPULIST (10" by Spalt-tung) *
GUINEA PIG - THE NEW NEIGHBORS (CDR by Edgetone Records) *
M-KAT ENSEMBLE - EIGHT DURATIONS (CDR by Edgetone) *
CHRISTOPHER LUNA-MEGA - AURAL SHORES (CDR by Edgetone) *
MATT ATKINS & MARTIN CLARKE - SIX DECISIONS (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
MAKE INCEST GREAT AGAIN (cassette compilation by Staaltape)
HANNYA WHITE - WHO PUT THE FLOWERS IN THE GARDEN (cassette by Staaltape)
MODELBAU/PIT HORSE DOOM ORCHESTRA (cassette by Grubenwehr Freiburg) *
MEINRAD KNEER - VOCABULARIES (CD by Evil Rabbit Records)
MARCO COLONNA - FILI (CD by Niafunken)
With these CDs I'm entering the world of Dolf Mulder as both of these CDs contain freely improvised music; what ties them together is that one player performs the music. The instrument of choice differs; in the case of Kneer, this is the double bass. He plays thirteen pieces, all freely improvised and there are "no edits, overdubs, preparations and technical effects". In his playing it is not difficult to recognize the bass; it is what it is. Kneer is not using objects on the snares or the body of the instrument, just the bow and the snares but in the thirteen pieces, ranging from one minute to just fewer than seven, he shows an excellent variety in approaches on this instrument. There are rhythmically inspired pieces, plucking the strings, such as in the various pieces called 'Short Stories', or heavily bowed strings, dark at times, but, perhaps oddly, not always that deep; Kneer has at times a vicious strong bow that works on the high end of the spectrum; almost like pure acoustic noise. Sometimes the mood is dark and heavy ('Music For Bumble Bees' for instance), but it can be joyous and light, such as the previously mentioned short stories. All of these together give the listener an excellent idea of what Kneer does and I guess that is the purpose of releasing such solo records of improvised music.
From Italy hails Marco Colonna, who plays "clarinets and loop station". Colonna is most active in jazz music and has played with a bunch of people (Evan Parker, Alberto Novello, Patrizia Oliva and others). I assume there are overdubs here (by their very nature loop stations equals overdubs, in real-time) and that already makes this is a different album than the one by Kneer. The loops produced by the bass clarinet as well as the clarinet adds a whole different and (dare I say it?) musical element to the music. The rhythmically played keys of the clarinet are sampled and make interesting little rhythms to which Colonna plays the instruments in a rather pleasant way. You could call this jazz, but, and I readily admit I am not much of connoisseur when it comes to jazz music, it would be a different kind of jazz. Sure, in 'Pietra', it all seems fairly normal, but in 'Sos Berbos' the playing is sparse and the samples of voice/mouth add an interesting dimension to the music. The music here is not as extreme as on the Kneer album, and one could say this is the more 'musical' one of the two. But just as the Kneer CD this too is an album in which a musician shows the quality of his playing, a business card to hand out and a display of many talents. While both isn’t part and parcel of my daily routine, most enjoyable for sure. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.evilrabbitrecords.de
––– Address: https://marcocolonna.bandcamp.com/album/fili
ENTRE VIFS & L'ECLIPSE NUE – L'ECLIPSE VIVE (CD by Aussaat)
HAARE – BRAIN (CD by Aussaat)
This first piece was made by the exchange of sound files between the two 'projects' - of Daniel Sine & Shirubee / Zorin. Entre Vifs is a duo who have been around it seems since the 80s using, and again I'm assuming, custom electronic instruments. Seven tracks alternating between Entre Vifs and L'Eclipse Nue. The opening from EV sounds which are difficult to describe, a mixture maybe of processed sound sources, of textures maybe field recordings and electronica manipulated and echoed, across the stereo field. EN's opening track begins a little 'rougher' processed speech, hum and chatter, punctuated microsounds. Both seem to be delicate sonic productions (certainly not noise) which at times resemble sleepy short wave broadcasts, drifting garbled maritime signals, shortwave sonics, Morse code and static textures which drift into gentle drones. EV continues in a similar vein, noticeably similar, but more concerned with processing the stereo field. Micro textural, 'experimental/ambient' works... Haare's Brian has 5 tracks, Electric Buddha, Brain, Azathoth, Spirit Trip and Portal. And the inner sleeve purports “Destroy fascism, Love forever.” Having left the period of theory and entered, it seems, a new age of absolute ideology where words become fixed items without meaning that might be dynamic, causal, all we are left with is surface, beautiful and correct sensations. And this is then perfectly sensational, gentle floating sounds of electronica. The blog gives “a new psychedelic industrial monolith, a nightmarish trip of beauty and horror. Imagine a Broken Flag record from 1969 or a death industrial cosmic Krautrock album, and you are not far off. Far out, rather.” - maybe? For me, these tracks sound much more like 90s ambient psychedelia, more like The Orb and Future Sounds of London, though without the dub references, gentle swathes of psychedelia electronics... Yet, least my words eat me then I will imagine “Broken Flag record from 1969 or a death industrial cosmic Krautrock album”... (jliat)
––– Address: email@example.com
CASIA - FEUER WASSER STURM (CD by Wrotycz Records)
The man behind Casia is Stephan Spreer, who “is known for his work with Llovespell, Sunday Strain and Antlers Mulm", none of which meant something to me. Casia, I thought, what is that? The sister of Casio? The title of the release translates as 'fire, water, thunder', and Spreer gets credit for synthesizer, sampler and production. Ambient music is the result of these instruments and Spreer does a fine job. The label calls it "a personal sound" on the behalf of the composer, but that, I think, is not entirely the case. Casia plays ambient music, ten pieces, each about five minutes (average length) and uses heavily treated field recordings and works around with that. There is a noise element to the music, making it all a bit gritty and dirty, frayed edges on smooth tones. The sort of hiss that I like and you can find in those places where ambient, drones and lo-fi usually meet; a sort of shoegazing sound. As I don't like the very smooth end of ambient music, the pieces by Casia works very well. However, it is not, something entirely unheard or new. I gave up thinking that ambient music will see a radical make-over and everyone who is into recording ambient music (and please keep doing it!) should carve out a niche for their own. Casia's hissy textures, coupled with the occasional rhythm samples (in 'I Step Outside Myself'), sometimes leaning towards the noise, sometimes smooth and calm ('To The Sun', for instance, or 'In The Storm Of Roses', with its twinkle rhythm) make up for a pleasantly varied album. Light and dark alternate like day and night. I like both of Casia's sides of it. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.facebook.com/wrotycz.rec
LE RNST (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
This is one of those instances in which I started to listen, kept listening and thinking about a review whereas on a busier day I would have relegated this to our in house reviewer for all things improvisation music. Le Rnst is a quartet of which one half is based in Montreal, Pierre-Yves Martel (violin de gamba, harmonicas) and Eric Normand (electric bass, objects) and from Europe Xavier Charles (clarinet) and Matija Schellander (contrabass). They did a tour, which brought them to Canada, Switzerland, France and Austria and on June 6, 2019, they played at the L'eglise Saint-Merry in Paris and that is the recording we hear on this CD. This is improvised music for sure, and that is not something that I like most of the time, but this quartet of players does something quite interesting. Each player seems to have his routines in approaching their respective instruments, and I think each player has a combination of more regular playing as well as approaching the instrument as an object. This works out great, in which they shift from very quiet to reasonable loud, although it is never too quiet or too loud for very long. The object approach results in controlled bursts of an almost percussive nature, scratching, bumping and colliding. Then another instrument pipes up more regularly, the clarinet for instance, with some gentle blowing. There is quite a bit of plucking of strings, all in a slow and controlled manner and the clarinet in a more free role, playing around that. This all works very well for me, and I enjoyed it a lot. This is not easy music, but one that requires attention for one to discover the details, but very rewarding once everything is unlocked. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.actuellecd.com
O PARADIS - WEITER WEG (CD by Wrotycz Records)
Damian Recio has been a busy boy. Since 2001 he has released 26 albums and a slew of Eps and single as O Paradis. These releases have incorporated electronic, pop, rock, ambient, downtempo, experimental and abstract motifs to create music that is harrowing but inventive. He has now returned with a new album ‘Weiter Weg’. It feels like his most ambitious album in recent years.
‘Weiter Weg’ opens with ‘No One’. Wonky synths, dark basslines and minimal beats wash over us creating a feeling of unease. It sets the album up as a dark electro affair where minimalism is the order of the day. ‘Abrigo’ follows this blueprint but add vocals for good measure. Their inclusion adds an extra layer of texture, but it switches from being a mood-based album and becomes a narrative based affair. While, on the surface, this doesn’t seem like much of a change it is immense. Fundamentally the album changes and ever really regains the momentum of the opener. While there is nothing wrong with the songs with lyrics, they just don’t have the same energy as the instrumentals. ‘Ein Zettel Unter Den Augenlidern’ is one of the standout tracks on the album full of saturated basslines and haunting beats.
The album closes with a cover of The Beatles ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. Which is a shame as the cover doesn’t work and comes off as slight, well, bizarre. Given how inventive and fun the previous nine songs have been the inclusion of this cover throws off the flow of the album. There isn’t anything wrong with it, per se, but at the same time, there isn’t much right. Given how powerful ‘Zu Hause’ is with its haunting piano and woozy synths it ends the album on a similar note to how it started. Captivating melodies that are dripping with an unsettling feeling of unease. But with the slightly poppy vibes of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ the album ends feeling confused. Throughout the previous half, an hour O Paradis had established what ‘Weiter Weg’ was about, dank soundscapes with harrowing melodies, but ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ slightly changes. Long after the album finishes you are left scratching your head like J.K. Simmons at the end of Burn After Reading thinking “What happened here?” (NS)
––– Address: https://www.facebook.com/wrotycz.rec
EVAPORI - DIA-LOGOS I+II/CONCLUSION (LP by Fragment Factory)
For one reason or another, I haven't heard Evapori's music in a long time. The last review of a work by Oliver Peters, the man behind Evapori, is about an LP, 'Fumes', and that was in Vital Weekly 604. The name pops up a few times later on, but mainly on the odd compilation or announcement for a concert. It is, therefore, not easy for me to paint a proper picture of the development of Evapori over the years, having missed out releases by Entr'acte and Evapori's imprint Antiinformation. This LP is said to be his fourth full-length album, besides all sorts of smaller releases over the years. Evapori receives help from various people; Marin Lau (voice), Peter Schlewnski (drums), Markus Wettstein (metal sheets) and Ditterich von Euler-Donnersperg (voice). He appears on the final pieces, 'Imitation', along with the voice of Peters. In not all the pieces were is says that voices are used I heard much of that, I must admit, especially the last one. The work of Evapori has had an interesting development I think, easily defying descriptions. I noted the use of field recordings, of electro-acoustic treatments of objects and various instruments, I assume played Evapori. Guitars played with bows, maybe, or a cello, and the same bows on those metal sheets, adding a fine, modern classical texture to the music, sometimes also veering towards the world of improvised music. The use of tape-manipulation is not forgotten with speeding up of sounds. At times, I could easily lead to believe there is a small ensemble bowing strings and sheets. I would think there is some extensive layering of sounds and instruments going on here and carefully mixed into some very dynamic music. The music by Evapori touches upon many fields (I noted 'Schimpfluch' when drawing up notes, basically for the of the voice improvisations in third piece 'Conclusion'; Zeitkrtzer also sprang to mind). Drones, field recordings, synthesizers, instruments, improvisation, composition, musique concrète, noise, laptop glitch it is all there and it all fits together. There is an elegant wildness about this music that at the same time also has a lot of control. The only thing I wondered about is why Peters still hangs on to using the name Evapori and why not establish as a proper (ahem) composer? Maybe that he will do one day? His work is all set for it. (FdW)
––– Address: https://fragmentfactory.bandcamp.com/
AKKORD I ON (LP, private)
When I first reviewed music by Akkord I On, I wrote: "Slowly Vital Weekly conquers the world - or rather the world conquers Vital Weekly. Akkord I On are from Almaty, Kazakhstan - the very first time I receive something from that part of the world, of which I know nothing (but I never go the cinema either)", and I think it was also the last time I reviewed music from that country. Back then (Vital Weekly 608) it was the first release by this duo, and today it is their last one; Roman Bliznetsov who plays Accordion, Flutes, and Physical Sounds died on May 8, 2018, at the age of 33. The other member is Konstantin Timoshenko who "operates Computers, Field Recordings". I noted back then that there was a merging of the music of their country with electronics, techno in the case of Akkord I On. In retrospect, I have no idea why I thought it has to with the music from Kazakhstan, not being knowledgeable on the subject at all. This new album has four tracks, all about nine minutes and the accordion is not a dominant instrument here, but the electronics are. I don't recall the previous release (the Bandcamp only lists this new record) but the element of techno music turned towards a more ambient house/dub sound. These are well-made, have a fine relaxed groove and there is quite a bit of spacious synthesizer used for good measure. The accordion is a similar free role as the synthesizers bubbling and oscillating; flowing in and out of the mix and of course, it's an oddball instrument in the context of groovy, laid back dubby ambient dance music, but I think it fits well. It gives that unique character to the music; an exotic touch (even when that might be the wrong word to use) perhaps. The music is spacious and relaxing; like riding out over a desert, almost like tripping on acid. I think. I have no idea but I love this record. It's a pity it's all over. (FdW)
––– Address: https://akkordionofficial.bandcamp.com/releases
MIGUEL A. RUIZ - CLIMATERY (LP by Abstrakce Records)
DAME AREA - LA SOLUZIONE É UNA (LP by BFE Records)
MECÁNICA CLÁSICA - FILTRACIONES DE LUZ (cassette by Abstrakce Records)
It seems ages ago that I heard any music from Miguel A. Ruiz, and I mean a proper solo album (in Vital Weekly 550 I reviewed work from him in collaboration with Heike Boehm and Siegmar Fricke. In Vital Weekly 592 it was work as Orfeon Gagarin and in Vital Weekly 513, a retrospective CD of older music. Ruiz was mostly active in the '80s, as Técnica Material, Orfeón Gargarín, Codachrom, Dekatron II, Michel Des Airlines, and Funeral Souvenir. Asmus Tietchens released a solo LP from him on a short-lived record label he did. Ruiz' older music owed quite a bit to Tietchens, I thought and perhaps made me conclude that much was like that. 'Climatery' proofs me wrong. This work is from 1986 and was first released by the Madrid label Proceso Uvegraf and re-issued by Esplendor´s Geométrico label. I am pretty sure I didn't hear it the '80s, and I am not sure whatever else I heard from him, but the music is quite a surprise. Ruiz plays ambient music that is not too far off from what we heard in those years from O Yuki Conjugate (label mates here!) or Jon Hassell. According to the information he uses a Korg Polysix synthesizer and loops he did with a sampler. The six pieces are all minimal and without much variation. The loops are mainly rhythm bits that repeat over and over, and which don't seem to have many grooves. There is vaguely some sort of ethnic quality to the music. I would think Ruiz uses quite a bit of bamboo, hand drums and marimba's in his sampling. The synthesizer end of it are drones and repeating phrases, intertwined and that makes in each of these pieces the variations within the music. There is something mechanical about the music, and I am not entirely sure what that is. The ambient music of Ruiz is not very traditional in that way; it seems to be lacking a human touch, but for a chance that is quite nice.
On the mothership label, BFE Records, we find the second record by Dame area, a duo from Barcelona. I reviewed their first record, 'Centro Di Gravita' in Vital Weekly 1145. On vocals, organ, synths and percussion we have here Silvia Konstance, while Viktor L.Crux handles more electronics, rhythm machine and occasional voice. I quite enjoyed their first record, which I thought was a wonderful combination of much of the music from my younger years. I certainly heard Liaisons Dangerouses in there, but also Suicide, and this continues on this new record, with label mentioning also Throbbing Gristle, Diseño Corbusier, Chris and Cosey, Einstürzende Neubauten, Soft Moon, Cabaret Voltaire, Essaie Pas, and DAF, all of which I can trace of in the music of Dame Area. I have no idea what the Spanish lyrics are about, but it is delivered with quite some fury. Meanwhile, the musical accompaniment is minimal; a set of strong beats, minimal blasts mostly, with a bit of arpeggio on the synths and ditto minimal melodies. Quite a lovely set of industrial music inspired beat stuff. I can imagine this music would very well in concert, so when are we going to see that?
The last one is a cassette release by Mecánica Clásica, a group from Valencia. Following the fury, as presented by Dame Area, this is a most welcome sleeping pill. Here too we have ambient music, just as we had with Miguel A. Ruiz, but now with a human touch. Maybe it's the modern machines that do the trick? Mecánica Clásica takes their inspiration from the old german music scene. Their use of organ-like sounds reminded me of Cluster, and they play some very nice tunes on their keyboards. In the background, the rhythm machine ticks away time in mostly a gentle manner, but it can also be a bit harsher, such as in 'Síndrome de la mano extraña'. I must admit I enjoyed the mellow end a bit more than the louder bits; luckily mellowness prevails here. This is all most pleasant electronic music; not too ambient, but with just the right amount of arpeggio, sequencer and rhythm to keep you wide awake and enjoy it all the more. (FdW)
––– Address: https://abstrakce.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://bferecords.bandcamp.com/
ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION - POST FAX NATION EP (LP by Galloping Foxley Recordings)
In the press text, the names Matthew Amundsen and Surface Hoar are highlighted. I guess this to inform me that I know Surface Hoar and hitherto Amundsen. I guess that's the reason why I received this record. Eight pieces on a 12" that spins at 45 rpm. There are not a lot of those around any more. A true mini-album, which the shortest song being 1:27 and the longest 3:13. I am not sure if this is the sort of thing for Vital Weekly. There is music sent here that we really can't relate to, and we can't write about, but there is also music that we like, and yet still don't feel too sure about reviewing, simply because we don't know much about it. Atomic Energy Commission is such a band; Amundsen drums and sings, Tom Parsons on bass and vocals and David Foley on guitar. They have been described as "both funky abstract expressionism and feral post-punk". Post-punk is something I grew up with, well, for a while at least and returned too when I got older, and I can see some post-punk roots in this trio, but they also operate on a wilder level, taking cues from improvised music or free jazz. The rhythms aren't funky or groovy, but angular. The voices are drenched in a bath of reverb, which for all I know shouldn't have been necessary. I guess it has to sound menacing or such, but they could have dispensed with it. The instruments have a refreshing dryness, which they could have used on the vocals too. I quite enjoyed this mini-album, and wouldn't have minded a longer one actually, but the music is a bit too far outside the usual scope of Vital Weekly. However, should you have a wide taste in music (and you should of course) and diversify your drones, noise and improvisations, and you are can be bothered with playing new forms of post-punk (you heard those oldies too much anyway) then check out Atomic Energy Commission, get the record and play it loud. (FdW)
––– Address: https://atomicenergycommission.bandcamp.com/releases
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - PISSING ON THE POPULIST (10" by Spalt-tung)
In a continuing theme from two weeks, the Docs this week piss on the populist and I hope on all of them, right and left. I read on the insert this new record is recorded in 2018, "from the 'Progressive Punk' sessions". For a moment I thought I missed out on something (which, given the speed of light release schedule is very well possible), but a quick look on their website I learned there is a bunch of unreleased stuff, so this being DWM release #161, there is much more to come. Don't be distracted by the word punk here, as the music has very little to do with punk music; in spirit, of course, it does, but that goes pretty much everything you read about in Vital Weekly. This is another saxophone-free album (the recent batch had a lot of that) and more electronic than many of the recent releases. Doc Wör Mirran stays away from the world of ambient music this time and offers three pieces here of electronic music, with rhythm, voices and synthesizers on 'Reflections Of Ourselves' and the title piece, while the side-long 'Don't Worry About The Rain' has a bit of cosmic guitar doodling for some time and a set of synthesizers guiding through the vast space, but after a while we get a bit of rhythm too here, adding to the psychedelic edges this piece has. Despite the punky title, I would think the music is quite mellow and spacious, even on the more techno-ish take of Reflections Of Ourselves'. This is a fine reminder of the world of ambient house; a ray light in times of darkness! This is a very limited lathe cut record, very thin and fragile but sounding great. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.licht-ung.de
GUINEA PIG - THE NEW NEIGHBORS (CDR by Edgetone Records)
Guinea Pig fans are a patient bunch. The DIY free jazz group released their debut album ‘Out of Time’ in 2004. Originally the group was specifically formed for a performance presented at the former Dark Circle Lounge Series and the recordings used for that album came from that performance. Fast forward about 15 years and they have released their follow up ‘The New Neighbors’. As with the first the recordings were culled from a live performance at SIMM series at the San Francisco’s Local 6 Union Hall. As with the original, these performances are free and incredibly listenable.
Opening track ‘Comin’ Down the Street’ kicks off the album with stuttering percussion and squawking horns. As this settles down delirious saxophone melodies spring up. They wrap themselves around us in ever constricting loops. ‘Unpacking the Skeletons’ sounds like a more abrasive and determined Onyx Collective. It’s all over the shop. Saxophones wail. The percussion has a mind of its own and the drummer Timothy Orr is firing off scattershot patterns a will and the basslines appear to be acting independently of everything else. In short, it’s a glorious cacophony and when it ends you immediately want to play it again.
Throughout ‘The New Neighbors’ Guinea Pig seems to be having a blast. The songs have a complexity to them, but there is also a playfulness to their density. Light and airy rhythms are counterbalanced by jarring sounds and tones. This helps to create a feeling a conflict, but instead of being an aggressive affair, its more of siblings blowing off steam for a few minutes before resuming their usual friendly behaviour. What is remarkable about ‘The New Neighbors’ is how fluid everything is. It sounds like a well-oiled machine, with players that are used to playing with each other regularly. (SR)
––– Address: https://edgetonerecords.bandcamp.com/
M-KAT ENSEMBLE - EIGHT DURATIONS (CDR by Edgetone)
While listening to this album my mind starts to go on its journey. Thoughts about The Rita, Miles Davis interviews from the 1970s, Le Monte Young, films abrasively rescored live in the back rooms of pubs, being on a stag do in Prague and hearing some freak jazz being played and dragging the party in to watch for a drink only for them neck their pints and wait outside petulantly mumbling when it was my turn to pick the next bar, having to sit in the hallway of an arts centre during an all-dayer of experimental music as what was being played was too loud and complex for me to get my head around on a rainy Saturday night and a dozen other fragmented memories come to me only to be gone in a second. Effectively ‘Eight Durations’ is the kind of album that allows you to get all internal whilst getting lost in its rich melodies and tones.
The beauty of ‘Eight Durations’ is how the songs are constructed I real-time. There were no preconceived structures or patterns. They just started playing and this is what M-KAT came up with. ‘Duration 3’ is either build around the Kersti Abrams’ ponderous saxophone lines or Mark Pino’s drumming. I can’t work it out. Either way, it doesn’t matter as they both give the other musicians something tangible to work around. Instead of playing call and response motifs or trying to mimic the others playing on their respective instruments they just appear to be going for it. ‘Duration 4’ feels like the most abrasive, and adventurous, track on the album. There is a horrific vibe to it that just gets gut-wrenchingly worse as the song progresses. The basslines feel like they are being ripped from the bass, rather than being played by one. The percussion sounds like it was made up of anything at hand and the levels of distortion are fantastic. When the flute kicks in at the halfway point the songs go up a notch.
‘Eight Durations’ is cavernous and cacophonous. The final throws of ‘Duration 8’ are glorious in their organised disarray. Pino is just going at it on drums. Abrams is delivering measured saxophone line after line. The bass is consistent but vanishes due to the bedlam all around and Andrew Joron’s theremin appears to be missing in action. I don’t doubt it’s there but it is hard to pick out once the machine is up and running. This album is a dream. A very wonky and tumultuous dream, but a dream none the less. (SR
––– Address: https://edgetonerecords.bandcamp.com/
CHRISTOPHER LUNA-MEGA - AURAL SHORES (CDR by Edgetone)
This is a release that has been on rotation in the last week or so, ever since it arrived. It is one of those things that I don't seem to get my head around to. What is it? The music is composed by Christopher Luna-Mega, who someone who composes on paper, notated music, but who also has an interest in field recordings and on the seven pieces on this release he combines this. This is the result of "a decade of research on environmental acoustics and their translation into instrumental music and electronics. At the heart of this exploration is the purpose of tuning with and learning from nature’s sounds, from its warm harmonies to its powerful cacophonies." So, if I understand this correctly the field recordings are translated into notated music that some follows the flow, mayhem or otherwise of biological events. It is not that we have a bunch of field recordings mixed with instruments, even when I occasionally had that idea. The seven pieces, performed by Jack Quartet, Splinter Reeds, The William Winant Percussion Group, the Arditti String Quartet, Mills College Signal Flow Ensemble, New Thread Quartet and Seung-Hye Kim (in what seems to be the only piece by a solo performer; the piano here is multi-tracked), are all affairs of modern classical music. Of course, I have been thinking about the fact that I know what I am supposed to hear (modern classical music inspired by translated field recordings) and had I not known this, is that something I could hear? An impossible question, I realize that. In some of these pieces, perhaps; for others, surely not. But reading the booklet while hearing the music sheds some light on it; it all becomes a lot clearer. Especially in 'Jatyantara-Parinamah', the longest piece here and played by the largest ensemble, I think there is that field recording quality of muffled tones, far away, close by, loud, quiet and/or disturbing. The sources are from around the house, the street and the woods and that diversity is certainly something I recognize in the music. All in all, this is a pretty interesting release with some very fine results. (FdW)
––– Address: http://edgetonerecords.com/
MATT ATKINS & MARTIN CLARKE - SIX DECISIONS (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)
In recent years I reviewed quite a bit of music by Matt Atkins (mostly when he called himself Matthew) and a lot of it has to do with small objects he plays; sometimes along with the use of percussion. He is also a drummer. Much of what he does might be improvised music but somehow doesn't sound like that at all. That is all different on this new work, six pieces he recorded with Martin Clarke. He gets credit for 'saxophones', and I don't know if he plays them simultaneously or if he uses soprano and alto and such like. Atkins is on drums, percussion, objects and tapes. The way Clarke plays his horns is very traditional free-jazz music. Short and brittle tones, moving around freely. There is no manipulation, there are no extended techniques, nor electronics. Just a mouth and a saxophone and lots of movement; quick, slow, everything in between. Atkins plays his kit in a similar freestyle, rattling the cages and shaking the tubes. This time his tapes are moved to the background of the music and this becomes very much a free-jazz drum and saxophone duo, with the odd little excursion into when objects or tapes are involved. Perhaps this is something that would be better off in the more capable hands of our in-house free-jazz reviewer, but too late of course. I heard it, liked it and reviewed it, even when it is not my daily tea to drink. (FdW)
––– Address: https://mrmrecordings.bandcamp.com/
MAKE INCEST GREAT AGAIN (cassette compilation by Staaltape)
HANNYA WHITE - WHO PUT THE FLOWERS IN THE GARDEN (cassette by Staaltape)
As I noted before, in Vital Weekly 1167, I have a somewhat 'odd' relationship with Staaltape, the label that was once tied to Staalplaat, but what the heck to do I know? Maybe it still. I received these two new releases along with a note that "maybe the view outside your window is a fine addition to the sounds on these tapes". I have no idea what that is supposed to mean, but there is more that I failed to understand. Let me quote the entire text that goes with 'Make Incest Great Again'; The woman in the picture is Ivanka Trump. The idea for this release has nothing to do with conspiracy. Not only political leaders, but every human being should inspire and stimulate others to do something good. Authoritarian leaders create agitation. An agitated mass of people is easy to manipulate. Once a mass of people dominates the world we are living in, qualities such as listening and patience disappear. Dialogue will disappear. Reason will disappear. Even time, as a slowly evolving part of our life will disappear. With authoritarian regimes and leaders a lot depends on image. To me, authoritarian regimes and leaders inspire repulsion. When I first created the collage of picture and slogan I couldn’t look at it for a couple of days without a feeling of physical disgust.
I asked for an advice and got the right answer. Now I think, let repulsion be a tool, and use it to create a work of art, that helps to change the image of the authoritarian leaders. Theories." The man who runs Staaltape these days, Rinus van Alebeek, is/was also an author of books, so maybe that's where I fail to understand any of it. Of more help (?) was this: "This is the third release in the series of remixes. Previous releases were The Kylie Golden Remix Tape Volumes 1&2 and Dear Concerned Employees. The New Plastic People, Kylie Minogue, Sean Jason, Mrs Mangle, El Tonto Bing Bang, George George, kp and Kim Wild 93 made a remix of this collage and the text". I did review that 'Dear Concerned Employees" in the aforementioned issue of Vital Weekly. I don't like reviewing compilations, as any avid reader of Vital Weekly knows, and maybe Staaltape is among those avid readers, as I do mention occasionally I like to stare out of windows when reviewing. Not for this lot. For no particular reason I expected this be more noise-based, but it turned out it wasn't. This is a fine selection of musical pieces with tape-loops, electronics and turntable manipulation, including towards the end something in which I heard the name Trump (not again), and besides that, I found it all enjoyable. I didn't see any relationship with the title or the text, which of which I didn't understand, but hey, I ain't no writer.
No information, not even of the cryptical variety, for Hannya White, and Discogs tells me this is her first release. The overall technical quality of the songs is quite different. The five pieces on the first side are much lower in volume and also in the use of sound sources than the three on the B-side. That's a pity because the stronger songs/pieces (don't know what she prefers) are on the second side. White uses a drum machine, electronics and perhaps a bass guitar, some percussive bits and bobs and sings. The latter mixed a bit to the background, which is also a pity. The five pieces on the first side seem to me either sketches or try-out and are rather uninformed. The other side has music that is worked out, louder and more together. The drum machine is upfront, there are some samples and the voice is still in the background. And there is a lot of hisses, but let's say that adds to the fun of the music. Somehow, somewhere I was thinking of '80s underground post-punk experiments here; a bit dark, a bit weird, a bit vague and still a bit post-punky. It is not that experimental or abstract. Especially the last track was quite a beauty (don't go looking for it on Bandcamp; Staaltape only shares excerpts) and I can see quite a bit of possibility for this in the future. What Hannya White does on this side of the cassette is surely most promising. Unless it is all a deliberate ploy to keep all the hiss in, I would say there is much room for technical improvement.
––– Address: http://staaltape.com/
MODELBAU/PIT HORSE DOOM ORCHESTRA (cassette by Grubenwehr Freiburg)
A rather lengthy split cassette by Modelbau (aka Vital’s own Frans de Waard) and someone called Pit Horse Doom Orchestra, which is a new name to me. The Modelbau side is a forty-minute slow-motion hummmmmm called “Unruhe”, which is in a similar sonic world as de Waard’s “The Lateness of the Hour” or “Night Call”. “Unruhe” is fuzzy and static, with several patient sections that shift at molasses-speed without calling much attention to their internal movements. On first listen, this could be mistaken for a drone… but it isn’t, really. There’s action here, constantly churning and burbling, revealed upon deep listens. But that title translates to the English word “unrest”, surely something the entire world is experiencing right now. Why name this restful-seeming piece “Unruhe”? That subtle tension grows unmistakable after about half an hour… not to an explosion, but an unsettling climax of sorts. Finally, a coda of feedback and drift returns the music to a somewhat (though not entirely) resolved state.
Pit Horse Doom Orchestra seems to be neither an orchestra nor particularly “doom” sounding. Rather, their side contains ten brief tracks of downbeat power-electronics of the MB or Atrox Morgue variety; depressing synthesizer crawl with smeared vocals moaning beneath a grey film as you might find atop a torpid pond. It’s not an assault of noise; it’s a swamp. Songs like “Hatz” or “Aschewuste” seem to play at half-speed, loping along like a slime mould out for a jog. Voices, when they appear, are universally fractured through vocoders and/or smothered in radio static, like a surreptitiously intercepted late-night interstellar transmission. Neat stuff, and a nice compliment to the Modelbau side. (HS)
––– Address: https://grubenwehrfreiburg.bandcamp.com/
Vital - The Complete Collection 1987-1995
Before Vital Weekly there was Vital, a Xeroxed fanzine covering experimental, electronic andelectro-acoustic music; interviews, reviews, in-depth discussion articles, background. All 44 issues in one hardcover book; 580 pages. More information: http://kormplastics.nl/vtcc.html