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GIUGLO ALDINUCCI & MATTEO UGGERI - BUREAU (CD by ADN Records) *
STEPHEN FLINN - RED BELL (CD by Creative Sources Recordings) *
WESTERN & CREED & SPYBEY - W ANDS (CD by Cold Spring Records) *
LLYN Y CWN - DINORWIC (CD by Cold Spring Records) *
INTONARUMORI: IERI ED OGGI (CD by ReR/Diplodisc)
UNFOLK – FILE UNDER OBLIVION (2CDd by MP Records)
FRANCISCO LÓPEZ – UNTITLED (2019) (CD by esc.rec) *
VERTONEN - DROWNING MACHINES (double CDR by Ballast NVP) *
LUER - DOG DAYS (double 3"CDR by Ballast NVP) *
ERIC LUNDE - GHOST BY MOUTH (HAND MADE MOUTH EDITION) (7' lathe cut, private)
SICK DAYS (double CDR by Vacancy Recs) *
SICK DAYS - EAR BOA (CDR by Vacancy Recs) *
HEART STRUCTURE QUARTET - LIVE AT TONE DEAF 2019 (CDR by Vacancy Recs) *
HOMOGENIZED TERRESTRIALS - THE DEFENDING MAGICIAN (CDR by Terrestrial) *
HOMOGENIZED TERRESTRIALS - DISTRACTION HOLOGRAMS (CDR by Terrestrial) *
HOMOGENIZED TERRESTRIALS - E TISTULO NO. 2 (CDR by Terrestrial) *
THE BRITISH SPACE GROUP - THE LEY OF THE LAND (CDR by Wyrd Britain) *
ORCHESTRAMAXFIELDPARRISH - GUITAR IMPROVISATIONS I-VI (USB by Faith Strange) *
TRISTAN MAGNETIQUE - 3 (cassette by Muzan Editions) *
KAREN WILLEMS – BENTILLSE BERBER - 03 (cassette by esc.rec) *
SYLVAIN VAN INIITU/DAVID LEUTKART - THE MOON (split cassette by Grubenwehr Freiburg) *
HENNING LUNDKVIST - MUSIC AND NEIGHBOURS OF CH'IEN CHIEN (VOL I) (cassette by Sensorisk Verden) *
GIUGLO ALDINUCCI & MATTEO UGGERI - BUREAU (CD by ADN Records)
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had already registered the return of ADN Records, erstwhile a cassette label with some great releases (new 7th music, Amok, Pascal Comelade, Bourbonese Qualk etc) in the 80s. They were called (not by me) the Italian version of Recommended Records. They have come back, already some time ago and picked up on a generation of 'younger' musicians. Matteo Ugeri took hundreds of photos of his workplace in a '70s building and that became the inspiration for this work with Giulio Aldinucci. They both use field recordings, but Aldinucci melts the re-processed field recordings into drones and Uggeri into beats. These beats should not be understood as a bunch of big 4/4 rhythms, but minimalist drum patterns of a dark nature. It fits the ditto dark drones as produced by Aldinucci, that are sometimes pretty straight forward sustaining clouds of sound, but most of the time also add a small melodic touch to them. I have no idea where these field recordings were made, only recognizing the fanfare on the street in 'Chinese New Year' and some wind/rain/water sounds in other pieces, or vast empty parking space. Sometimes the beats produced by Uggeri seem almost absent, such as in 'Inceneritore', but maybe they are even more spaced out here. I think it is quite a clever move to work with field recordings in the way these gentlemen do; just treating them into big chunks of abstract ambient music has been done quite enough, but adding minimalist rhythms and re-shaping field recordings into lovely chunks of melodic ambient is also perhaps not unique, but it is not done to death yet (at least, not that I know) and as such, this is a great album. (FdW)
––– Address: http://adnrecords.com/
STEPHEN FLINN - RED BELL (CD by Creative Sources Recordings)
So far, three releases with the music by Stephen Flinn were reviewed in Vital Weekly and all three were with others, Lauren Nagaryu Rubin, Jason Mears, Steve Beresford and Dave Tucker. This is the first solo release I hear from him. He calls himself a "postmodern percussionist, composer, performer and improviser". Interestingly, he "trained as a fighter in an east-LA boxing gym, to working as a Dublin-based radio disc jockey and newsreader, to living as a Buddhist forest monk in Thailand", but now as a trainer to use rhythms to teach positive communication. On the six pieces here he uses a bow quite a bit to strike cymbals and gong, creating low and high notes, while sometimes he uses a small object, styrofoam or such, to produce very small sounds. The results are great. While it is easy to see this work as part of the whole wide world of improvised music, I would at the same time there a lot of concentrated, repeated effort went into this; practising to create this and thinking what works best. This is hardly your usual free improvisation drum disc. There are not hectic notes, not big moves, no rattling and shaking of cages, but Flinn rolls out some majestic sounds here. Slow, with those bows on the cymbals and edges of drums, a strike on the gong and it all unfolds in great slowness and also some darkness, I think. I was reminded of the good ol' Organum records, but then sans the effects and such studio trickery. I think Flinn played all of this live and that there has not been much in terms of overdubs. A solemn, earnest work, and it works very well. I'd say if you love Christian Wolfarth's music, then you should also hear Stephen Flinn.
––– Address: http://www.creativesourcesrec.com
WESTERN & CREED & SPYBEY - W ANDS (CD by Cold Spring Records)
LLYN Y CWN - DINORWIC (CD by Cold Spring Records)
Despite the starkness of the music, there is an oddly warming feeling to ‘W ands’. Part of this is down to the affection in which it is was created. Jesse Creed and Mark Spybey put the album together after Phil Western’s passing. Another reason for this welcoming feeling is ‘W ands’ was largely created using vintage analogue synths. Western and Creed used these synths for the backbone of the songs while Spybey created his passages by using his homemade and ethnic instruments. This combination gives the album a simultaneously pleasant and stark feeling. ‘Two of Wands (New Partnership and Relationships)’ is the track on the ‘W ands’ that really sums this up. At times it is a barren beast. Everything about it exudes desolation and sadness, then these ornate motifs emerge from the gloaming give the music a new take.
As with ‘W ands’ ‘Dinorwic’ is an exercise in slow-moving textures and tones. Inspired by a slate quarry of the same name, where the field recordings were taken, ‘Dinorwic’ sounds as bleak as a real place. The site is just a 700-acre open wound on the Snowdonia landscape. Violence ripped the slate from the land and rendered the site an industrial wasteland. Musically this is picked up on. The tracks are named after different parts of the quarry. The track that really hammers home the feeling of desolation. Opening with atmospheric sounds, a just perceptible haunting melody lies just below the surface, and a vast feeling of emptiness ‘Braich’ meanders along for just under six minutes. Its aim isn’t to shock you with severe walls of noise or entertain you with captivating melodies. It delivers something between the two, that works far better than if it had bludgeoned you with a visceral attack. It makes you contemplate what ‘progress’ means. Was industrialisation really the winning formula that GCSE history has led us to believe and what is the everlasting cost of it? The answers to these aren’t found on ‘Dinorwic’, there is probably a YouTube video that answers this and more. But this isn’t the point of ‘Dinorwic’. It doesn’t give answers. That’s your job. Llyn Y Cwn presents you with a verité version of North Wales. Which is far more complex and challenging than the album first suggests. Ultimately the location of the album doesn’t matter. ‘Dinorwic’ could easily be named after dozens of sites across Dorset, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Yorkshire or anywhere that was once home to industry and now isn’t. It speaks more about the history and cultural identity than 100 punk albums.
Both of these albums obey the same rules and exist in the same space. They are filled with swaths of synths that evoke the sound of rain, the sea, gas escaping from a pipe in science class. It gives the albums a sense of movement and flux. This is all underpinned by delicate melodies that wash over you with glacial slowness. Here is the true power, and beauty, of the albums. ‘W ands’ and ‘Dinorwic’ don’t rush to make their point. They take their time. Each track could easily be used as the soundtrack to a documentary about how the tectonic plates moved or how the deep gorges were created in mountains. And in a way, this is what they’re about. Slow-moving monoliths grinding their way through your psyche until you have been totally altered by them. If you give ‘W ands’ and ‘Dinorwic’ a chance they have the power to excite whilst keeping you on the edge of your seat, like a slow-moving Nordic Noir. (NR)
––– Address: https://coldspring.co.uk/
INTONARUMORI: IERI ED OGGI (CD by ReR/Diplodisc)
UNFOLK – FILE UNDER OBLIVION (2CDd by MP Records)
Two very different releases that both have a strong input by Alessandro Monti from Venice and for that reason I discuss them both here. Let us start with the release that will appeal probably most strongly to Vital Weekly readers: ‘Intonarumori: “Ieri ed oggi’. The subtitle ‘New and old compositions for Luigi Russolo’s Intonarumori’, makes clear what to expect here. This is truly an exceptional project, initiated by Alessandro Monti from the Unfolk collective. Futurist painter Luigi Russolo constructed new acoustic instruments - the so-called Intonarumori - after publishing his manifesto ‘The Art of Noises’(1913). These noise-producing instruments were meant for composers open for integrating noise in their compositions. A few did (see below). In the second world war, his eye-catching instruments were destroyed. In 1977 for the Venice Biennale, instrument builder Piero Verardo was commissioned to rebuilt these instruments. And again many decades later Monti found out that Verardo and his reconstructions were still present in the same city where he lives: Venice! Monti made recordings with several of these instruments and supplied them to three drummers/composers he invited to create new work. All three composed some daring and engaging works. First Polish drummer and composer Andrzej Karpinski, known from his work with Reportaz. Secondly drummer and instrument builder Nick Sudnick from the Russian experimental band ZGA. And thirdly Chris Cutler. There is a connection between the three: Cutler released work of both East-European musicians on his ReR label. Karpinski constructed eight miniatures using acoustic-electronic, hybrid drum set and electronically processed voice, he integrated and embedded the sounds in abstract musical constructions. Cutler composed one long track using diverse sounds from the Intonarumori and a very diverse set of percussive instruments and objects. All of the acoustic sources, they accommodate naturally with the Intonarumori. Very rich piece. The piece by Nick Sudnick starts very noisy and has Sudnick playing his self-built zgamoniums. In a way, this work sounded ‘orchestral’ to me, in a similar vein as work by drummer and composer Matt Weston. The work starts very loud and dynamic, but gradually the sounds become more subtle and nuanced. Listening to their works one starts to identify the different noises from the Intonarumori, and I wished isolated examples of these sounds were added. The cd offers also two rare recordings of two compositions - ‘L'angoscia Delle Macchine’ (1926) and ‘Il mercante di cuori’(1927) - composed respectively by futurist composers Silvio Mix and Franco Casavola. Both performed here by Orchestra I Pomeriggi in 2009. It is hard to call these works radical, but from a historical point of view they maybe were. Both are orchestral works with a minimal role for the Intonarumori. Monti closes this cd with the composition ‘Simultaneita Futurista’. After a dynamic start, he brings the noise in dialogue with silence, delivering a peaceful coda to this hectic journey.
Turning to ‘File under Oblivion’ by Unfolk we enter a completely different musical world. From experimental music, we now turn to a double cd filled with music moving between ambient and song-format. Produced by the Unfolk, a collective of musicians from the Venice-area: Roberto Noè, Claudio Valente, Daniele Principato, Alex Masi, Elisabetta Montino, Riccardo De Zorzi, Franco Moruzzi, David Mora, Matteo Lucchesi, Tullio Tombolani, Bebo Baldan, Andrea Marutti, Alessandro Monti. Last one, Alesandro Monti is a key member of this collective who also released a solo album under the moniker of Unfolk. The collective surprised a few years ago with the ambitious project ‘The Venetian Book Of The Dead’, featuring Kevin Hewick as lead singer. Truly an underrated and very worthwhile release. With ‘File under Oblivion’ they make their final statement and again it is a very well-crafted work, completed with following guests: Tim Bowness, Mauro Martello (Opus Avantra) and a rare remix by house music legend Visnadi. It is their last album they state without explaining. But the title ‘File under Oblivion’ may give a hint. In the opening track, an artificial voice articulates a platonic viewpoint: the music is already out there. The artist is only the one who can pick this up, decoding it as it where. So the artist is not that important and oblivion, not a black hole. What follows a beautiful ambient track. The music starts as a small stream, rapidly fanning out into a broad river. ‘Guides to oblivion’ is a great song with fine vocals by Tim Bowness and especially Elisabetta Montino. ‘Mr Vuh returns’ is an obvious knot to Popol Vuh with a clever reworking of Popol Vuh-themes. All songs continue in a lush and mellow mood. Often featuring Monti’s characteristic bass-sound accompanied by keyboards, guitars, etc., in fine arrangements. The second cd is an up-tempo affair of dance(able) music. ‘Dance in Opposition’ criticizes the contemporary music ‘consumer’. Relevant text: ‘Nobody seems to care, downloading all for free, you take it all for granted’, but why in three different versions? Is this some kind of statement too?? Anyway, the Unfolk-chapter seems to be closed now. Leaving behind a few albums that are worth investigating! (DM)
––– Address: http://www.rermegacorp.com/
––– Address: https://www.mprecords.it/
FRANCISCO LÓPEZ – UNTITLED (2019) (CD by esc.rec)
No title. Francisco López has amassed a body of published works without the need for an accompanying title totalling now more than #378 with this release, itself – again – untitled, and counting, we presume. The grandmaster of massive, engrossing works of delicate yet wholly inescapable crescendos between almost not-there fragility in near-silence and thundering sound masses of tumbling boulder-like scale here presents a variety of pieces, all created in the year 2019, all composed of different source materials, pieces, origins. And although these pieces, all eight of them, are of isolated, idiosyncratic, individual nature, each one a world of dense detail and tactile textures to behold, the album form and format, the juxtaposing and setlist-ish build-up of the collection (strangely this record has a live feel to it), invokes a Franz Kline-like broad stroke power move, intended to underscore the maturest of masterful practices in aural art – the Olympian heights López has reached. Over almost forty years now López has crafted his universe of and in sound with elegant touches and brutal resolve. His is a world as much of telegraph bleeps as it is one of the wind-strewn deserted snow plains or deep dark silver grotto-ambiences. A López experience, however, above all, is one of perception and listening pushed to its limits – offering transcendent immersion and blissful expansion of the senses (plus, maybe, if you are so inclined, the soul too). Untitled (2019) marks a true highlight in the maestros wide and deep catalogue: (a) magnum opus recreation (no remix!) of sound matter – the basics of his craft and trade – refined, purified to the very essence: "like getting hit in the face with a baseball bat. Or better, like getting hit in the back of the neck. You never see it coming; it just knocks you down” (to quote American artist Bruce Nauman commenting on his intention with his works). (SSK)
––– Address: https://escrec.bandcamp.com/album/untitled-2019
VERTONEN - DROWNING MACHINES (double CDR by Ballast NVP)
LUER - DOG DAYS (double 3"CDR by Ballast NVP)
ERIC LUNDE - GHOST BY MOUTH (HAND MADE MOUTH EDITION) (7' lathe cut, private)
Ballast NVP is a small label doing great things. And with small, I mean that many of the releases are in a limited edition, usually between 20 and 40 copies. That means there is a lot of attention for the package and it looks professionally printed and also is a bit handmade with stamps and all that. Vertonen takes a prominent role in the catalogue of the label, which is hardly a surprise as Blake Edwards, the man behind Vertonen is also the boss of the label. His musical work can very drone-based, but also be about turntablism and noise. In more recent years, so it seems to me, the drone end prevails. I have no idea what 'Drowning Machines' is about. I read the short texts in this book, which seems like diary entries about hospitals. I might be wrong of course, but the two parts of the first piece are called 'Initial cardiac Arrhythmia' and 'Secondary Cardiac Arrhythmia', while the second CDR is called 'Drowning Machines 2: medical and biological'. The two pieces, altogether over 100 minutes, are drone-based but at the same time also a not your usual drones. Starting with a low-thump, steadily growing in intensity until in the second part it slows and tones down. Around that big drone-based mass of sound. Adding reverb to several parts gives this an additional atmospheric layer as if you are in a hospital. There are more small changes; the second part of the second part sounds like Vertonen uses computer processing, and has almost a melodic edge to it, which is not something one hears a lot in the work of Vertonen. It's little changes like this that makes me enjoy the work of Vertonen a lot. Within that whole big space of drone music, it is the small changes that make the difference and Blake Edwards is very good at that.
I had not yet heard of Luer, the musical project of Matt Taggart, who also works as 1090 Club, 40 Watt Womb, PCRV Quartet, and Pop Culture Rape Victim, all of which seem also new to me. As Luer there have been four previous releases by Fluxus Montana and Flag Day Recordings. The credit on the over is brief: 'electronics'. I would think these are of the modular variety, judging by the sounds they produce. As Luer, Taggart seems to enjoy the wilder end of drone music on the second disc and the first one options for a more broken-up sound, but that too is quite forceful at times. Not necessarily 'loud', I would think, but 'heavy' in approach. The addition of reverb on both pieces helps quite a bit in the department of 'heavy atmospherics'. Disc one, 'With Movement Comes Failure' Luer sets his broken electronics against bits of silence and creates a fine dramatic piece, whereas on disc two, 'Future Problems', he tells us the tale of heavy space trips going wrong and the soundtrack resembles the malfunction of motors of these spaceships. I was reminded here of the Korg Monotron, of which I wouldn't be surprised Luer has a couple, in combination with some pedals. It is easy to see why these two pieces are on two different discs, as they occupy different musical territories, and yet it is easy to see as always that the come from the same composer.
Although not on Ballast NVP, it is easy to drag this new Eric Lunde release into this. Lunde works with Vertonen's Blake Edwards as Dead Edits and when it comes to creating a unique package, Lunde knows how to do that. I understand this is a release to accompany a CD by E-Klageto, 'Ghost By Mouth', which I haven't heard yet. This limited edition comes in a silk-screened oversized folder, printed inserts, a 56-page book and a square lathe-cut record. It could have been a release by Ballast NVP. As much as I would love to write something sensible about the book, I have not much of a clue what it is all about. I hope to know a little about music, and I do know not to know anything about poetry and lack the skills to pretend I know. The music on the record is very low in volume and sounds like machine hum of some kind. It doesn't sound like Lunde's usual reading texts and re-recording ad infinitum his readings, but this all sounds more like a contemplative piece of music. At least that's how I perceive this, and as always, I might be completely wrong. I am not sure if this wasn't Eric Lunde but somebody of whom I never heard and how I would have perceived this then, but now, because it is Lunde, I am thinking some more about it and I don't mind being left behind somewhat clueless. Such, I guess, are the ways of great art; leaving someone confused behind. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ballastnvp.blogspot.com/
––– Address: https://ghsthseaudio.bigcartel.com/
SICK DAYS (double CDR by Vacancy Recs)
SICK DAYS - EAR BOA (CDR by Vacancy Recs)
HEART STRUCTURE QUARTET - LIVE AT TONE DEAF 2019 (CDR by Vacancy Recs)
As I wanted to check something about this label from Niagara, Canada on Discogs, I noted that there isn't much about them to be found there. I am not sure if the label doesn't want their releases to be on there, or if there is perhaps another reason. The label is known to me as people who love recycling, using old and somewhat shattered CD boxes and old library cassettes. Information is usually typed with an old typewriter and releases are limited to a handful. Sick Days is the musical project that runs the label and it is Jeffrey Sinibaldi. The first release here was already released digitally in January and in June in an edition of 9 copies on two CDRs. It is a wild collection of ideas, sketches, collaborations, live recordings and recorded between 1993 and 2019. While I heard the two previous releases and I enjoyed them in their rough approach towards drone music, electro-acoustics and improvisation, mainly through long-form pieces. Here we have a bunch of shorter pieces, which essentially explores the same musical territory as before, but now in a more diverse range of musical pieces, adding noise to the list. There is great diversity in approaches here, but of note is the repetitive element of the music, giving it all a slightly more percussive feel. The element of drone lingers through most of these pieces, be it almost sweet and gentle, or gritty and noisy, but throughout it works well. Sick Days creates loops of acoustic object abuse and plays on top of that some more, creating dense patterns. A great introduction.
The other new Sick Days release is a print on demand CDR in a Ziploc bag and recorded this spring, during the COVID winter, as Sick days calls it in a 'still brisk garage', in which he assembled a bunch of old gear and starts playing around with that. The noise aspect is further explored here, with crude loops of machine sounds, no doubt part of the garage, which reminded me of good ol' Vivenza, but there are also delicate sounds explored here. The Bandcamp page for this release mentions a bunch sound devices, effects and various carriers of sound, which makes it all the more interesting when you play this, as sometimes it seems it all one sound source being explored. The rhythmical element is still there and there are also some film quotes thrown in. Typically, a piece is between three and eight minutes and one never stays in the same place for too long, but also not too briefly. It is all just right; this was a wild afternoon with Sick Days!
Sinibaldi is also part of Heart Structure Quartet, where he plays the cymbal, contact mics, tapes, percussion, fx. The other members are Del Stephen (keyboards, sampler, drum machine, percussion), David Parker (guitar, voice), Bree Rappaport (clarinet, live visuals, voice). The three pieces here were recorded during the Tone Deaf 2019 festival in Kingston, Ontario. This new work continues what I heard previously from them (Vital Weekly 1203); slow meandering free improvisation, picked up with a microphone from space, adding a special quality to the music. Before I compared this to free folk music, which is still present in this recording, even when there is also a rockier element added to the music. I compared it with This Heat, which is also something I can hear in this, especially in the long opening piece, 'Freely Associated Movements 1 & 2'. But Heart Structure Quartet is more primitive in their technical approach, more lo-fi if you will and that is great. There is some fine elegance in this music, meandering about, which works well on a heat-day such as the one I am experiencing when writing this. It's not too weird or abstract, yet also far from conventional. It is just what I needed today, after dragging and sweating around all day. (FdW)
––– Address: https://vacancyniagara.bandcamp.com/music
HOMOGENIZED TERRESTRIALS - THE DEFENDING MAGICIAN (CDR by Terrestrial)
HOMOGENIZED TERRESTRIALS - DISTRACTION HOLOGRAMS (CDR by Terrestrial)
HOMOGENIZED TERRESTRIALS - E TISTULO NO. 2 (CDR by Terrestrial)
Whenever a parcel arrives from Phillip Klampe, also known as Homogenized Terrestrials, I look forward to playing whatever is inside. I know his musical project for close to twenty years now, I am not mistaken, and his releases may take some time before seeing the light, so every few years one arrives. Well, or three in the case of this round. One is a new release and the other two are re-issues. I started with the new one, which I assume covers his most recent recordings. In the soundworld of Homogenized Terrestrials there is room for lots of things, stretching out to ambient, musique concrète and a bit of noise, though not that extreme. After all these years, and I am not sure how many releases I heard (surely six, but there might be more), I still don't have much idea as to what it is that Homogenized Terrestrials do to create their sound. The sparse pictures online show keyboards, sound effects and such like and that is perhaps also something I would have guessed if asked. Samples might be derived from acoustic objects, but they are treated around, stretched and twisted and loaded with echo, reverb and such like. I compared it in the past with Zociet*France, Muslimgauze and Mirror, which I think is still a pretty good company, but, and I might be wrong here, this new bunch seems to be a bit more electronic in approach, less organic than Zoviet*France or Mirror and less rhythmic than Muslimgauze. Overall, the tone is dark and atmospheric, almost like a film soundtrack at times of a more scary nature. In the pieces, Homogenized Terrestrials can easily shift back and forth between sounds and images, changing the tune completely. Hence, it is better to listen to the album as a whole and be transported over different plains.
'Distraction Holograms' was first released on a "short-run cassette" by Analog Minimum, and I had not heard that one. This was released in 2017 and a bit shorter than 'The Defending Magician', but basically in the similar musical territory. With everything locked because of the intense heat these days and strapped down to a chair and a ventilator, not moving, reading and listening is the best one can do (it is, to be honest, the best I can do give any meteorological circumstances), I don't mind sitting through three albums (spoiler!) by the same project and play each album twice. It is summer after all, and overall a bit of a slow down, so why not? Of course, I have to get up, stumble over to the computer (move ventilator) and type a few words. Which reminds me, the last time I reviewed a release by Homogenized Terrestrials (Vital Weekly 1110), I wrote: "The music is throughout atmospheric, but not pitch black, more various shades of grey (no number specified by me) and fits perfectly the cold and dark December afternoon when I have the pleasure of hearing this.". An opposite condition compared to today. I do enjoy this is today as much as I would do this on that dark, but taking it all in at a slower rate, I guess.
The second re-issue is 'E Tistulo No. 2', which was released on a cassette before by Aubjects and which was reviewed in Vital Weekly 1057. I hate re-running these things, but the weather... you know and all that... "The third new release by Aubjects is Phil Klampe's project Homogenized Terrestrials, of whom we reviewed quite a few works before. He's been active since the 80s, being part of the then very active cassette scene, working with Charles Rice Goff III, Hal Mcgee and Brian Noring, and he kept on going playing his brand of electronic mood music, which may or may not involve a bunch of synthesizers, samplers and electronics. In his music much is possible; while for the most of it, it contains moody synthesizers, mild sequences, a bit of arpeggio on the keyboards, he also allows, if only occasionally, for a rhythm that borrows from the world of techno music, such as in 'Eat Your Soup, We Need Healthy Warriors' or a more exotic, stranger rhythm in 'Flimal 5'. But most of the time it is all about moods and textures, and those are quite dark and a bit unsettling. There is a lot of use of regular equipment and not so much the processing of sounds through software. Whether these are real synthesizers or software versions, I don't know, and also don't care about. The result is what counts and the results are great. All of these thirteen pieces are concise and to the point and not a formless mass of drone-based sounds but rather full-formed compositions, heads and tails and all. This is another confirmation that the Homogenized Terrestrials is a great project and living for far too long under the radar. Only a few handfuls of this have been made, while it deserves, I think, a much wider distribution." There you go, someone heard me. (FdW)
––– Address: http://aubjects.org/
THE BRITISH SPACE GROUP - THE LEY OF THE LAND (CDR by Wyrd Britain)
It has been a while since I last heard from Ian Holloway; Vital Weekly 899, I think. As I wrote before, I gave up thinking about reasons for longer periods of silence. In the case of Ian Holloway, it might be explained that he now has a website called Wyrd Britain, a blog with stories, book reviews, film reviews and so on, "that explore a Britain other than the one we think we know. A Britain where the ghosts are unquiet, where the woods are alive and where distinctions between the present, the future and the past are permeable" (http://www.wyrdbritain.co.uk/). As a lover of that kind of stuff, I spend immediately some time reading entries and having the music on repeat. The label we should see as something that "also told stories, music with a narrative and a sense of the mysterious that would be at home within the occult territories of a stranger Britain". On the cover we see only "copyright Ian Holloway", but Bandcamp says it's by The British Space Group, which is the recent name by Holloway. It is music for late at night, so now, 15:55 on a bright and hot day, might not be the right moment? It is, however, music that continues what we heard in the past, I don't know, 15 to 20 years from Holloway. Knowing Holloway, it is very drone-like, maybe derived from stretching out tones on the computer, resulting in a slow meandering, minimally changing tone poem. Somewhere in the back, there are voices (in the first ten or so minutes) and spacious bird-like synth tones at the end, with in the middle part just these tones and a faint trace of a melody. This is some spooky music, which I would not dare to play walking around a forest at night, not here, nor in Britain (or, heck, anywhere). You suspect something might happen something terrible, but you also know it is just imagination. I think this is a great release and a smart move connecting this to the world of the supernatural and having a website for the literary end of that. (FdW)
––– Address: https://wyrdbritain.bandcamp.com/releases
ORCHESTRAMAXFIELDPARRISH - GUITAR IMPROVISATIONS I-VI (USB by Faith Strange)
Mike Fazio, the man behind Orchestramaxfieldparrish (and also the Faith Strange label and a host of other monikers), loves to present his work quite lavishly. This USB comes in a small paper bag, attached to a finely printed, 32 pages 7" sized booklet with full-colour photographs and text. 'Volumes', as mentioned in the title, is something we have to take literally. On the USB device, there are six folders, volumes, each a bunch of pieces, ranging from one to six. In total, this is more than three hours worth of music. As this is (hopefully!) the last day of the local heatwave (and I will shut up about it also) with hardly any sunshine and loads of clouds, waiting for the thunder to end it all, I sunk back, once more, in my chair with a big book ('These Truths, A History of The United States' by Jill Lepore, if you must know) and continued reading while in the background, Fazio plays his guitar, "spontaneously and manipulated, treated and looped and mixed in real-time to stereo" and there have been very few overdubs, except for some field recordings here and there and some extra layers of guitars on a few others. All of this was recorded during what Fazio calls the cold spring of 2020, and that is not just a temperature thing. It all has to do with the pandemic thing; isolation and death. As such the somewhat grey day helps me to enjoy what I hear. I found it hard to say, once the music was over, which track stood out, and which not. Fazio uses a lot of sustaining sounds, probably sampling his e-bow on the strings, and creates extended fields of drone music made with a guitar. As such, each piece is the same, maybe, or each one is a different colour variation of the same thing? I know when I write that you might think 'oh, all the same for three hours', but that it is not. There is quite some variation in here. Sometimes Fazio adds some shorter strumming notes to the menu (in 'Muladhara - The Dance Of Kundalini'), or some more dissonance (in 'Vishudda - Sounds Beyond Ears', at almost three minutes the shortest piece here). It is music to sit by and watch it happen, flow along. It might not be that different from say what Dirk Serries did with his Microphonics projects and many other guitar slingers before and after that, but I thought this was all a wonderful trip. (FdW)
––– Address: https://faithstrange.bandcamp.com/
TRISTAN MAGNETIQUE - 3 (cassette by Muzan Editions)
For his more experimental work, Günter Schlienz uses the name Tristan Magnetique; come to think of, that name also has a slightly romantic touch. His third release is called '3', following '1' (Vital Weekly 1143) and '2' (Vital Weekly 1230). According to the cover he still uses his Casio CZ101, and a few pedals, plus some field recordings captured on a Dictaphone, in different places in Stuttgart. I very much enjoyed his previous releases, as well as his other work. Whereas the works he releases under his name is a bit too smooth for me, verging towards new-age perhaps, I like the Tristan Magnetique music for its gentle roughness. The music breezes, spaces, and yet there is that rough edge of something not going according to plan, a mild distortion here and there that has not been edited out, or tape-speed changing a bit, such as we tumble into this release and the way we leave it. It all has a very organic feel as if Tristan Magnetiques plays live; maybe he does, come to think of it, with windows open, and we hear some voices from outside (or is that my outside? I sometimes get confused with these things). The tape is short, thirty-two minutes and consists of various, distinctly different parts but it works well as one long flow; tracks have, as always, no titles and can be short and doodle-like, or longer and worked out. I used auto-reverse for quite some time on this lazy afternoon. (FdW)
––– Address: https://muzaneditions.bandcamp.com/
KAREN WILLEMS – BENTILLSE BERBER - 03 (cassette by esc.rec)
Around a year ago Claire Rousay presented her Aerophobia release: a staggering work of ingenious percussion in free form, with an exploratory curiosity, almost inquisitive into aural realms untouched and unheard, like a sonic explorer and a recorder too of the very act of these explorations itself. Aerophobia just had to be one of my personal Top 10 releases of the year. Bentillse Berber - 03 marks yet another exquisite highlight in the field of poetic percussion music and further excursions into the free fields of musical expressions. Karen Willems – drummer and percussionist from Belgium – has earned quite a track record in rock and pop acts like Zita Swoon, Mauro and Novastar. With Kreng, Aidan Baker and Eric Thielemans – to name just a few – she developed her more experimental works. Works of great personal involvement and investment; genuine oneness between sound and person; an intimacy and purity which Willems further explores on Bentillse Berber - 03, a reflection of the days in quarantine. The cassette, packaged in simple yet innovative and deeply moving Leporello sleeve with art by Dominiek Claeys, features two tracks of some fifteen minutes each, featuring Willems playing objects and instruments (think: Robyn Schulkowsky or Joey Barron) and her voice – featuring the listener almost as a voyeur, with a feeling of intruding upon a deeply personal action or lack thereof at times. A reverberating petite silence, so fragile it can break any second – a droning breathlessness evaporating to the point of dying like a candle's flame in the dead of night. On the sleeve, these words, as a chard from a poem, are printed in quite bold letters: “tot aarde verworden geroezemoes onder de nagels”. And at this very moment, while hearing the sound worlds evokes by Willems on this tape, it is not about translating these words. Or about what is lost in translation. Now it is all about translating that which is lost. And it is exactly this sense, fleeting as it may be, Willems manages to capture and transform into two unforgettably soul-stirring works. Surely a release for 2020's year-list! (SSK)
––– Address: https://escrec.bandcamp.com/album/bentillse-berber-03
SYLVAIN VAN INIITU/DAVID LEUTKART - THE MOON (split cassette by Grubenwehr Freiburg)
You may remember Ini.Itu, a fine label out Brussels, releasing vinyl with music by musicians, all one way or another inspired by Indonesia? If the answer is 'no', then educate yourself and check them out. It is a great catalogue of nineteen titles, and many easily available, as the label, sadly, never became collectable. It was run by Sylvain van Iniitu (not his real name), who, as many label owners before him, made the move to becoming a musician. I knew this already, as I saw some clips on social media where he experiments with lo-fi electronics, acoustic objects and such like, but the twenty minutes on this split tape is the first I hear from him. The subtitle of this tape is 'ambiences and drones' and in the case of Van Iniitu this is worked variously. While certainly some elegant drones passages are used here, he is not shy of using noise, such as in the opening minutes of 'The Moon'. Van Iniitu uses a variety of sound sources, acoustic bells, toy piano's as well circuit bend toys (I think), which he loops around and sometimes they loop around a bit too long, such as in the noise passage of 'The Moon' but in 'Rosencrantz', he applies cut and paste methods and in doing so, he creates a fine piece of montage/musique concrete. It made me curious to hear some more from him!
On the other side, we find the label boss in charge of this release, David Leutkart. He has one piece on his side of the cassette. I don't think I heard his music before, either. His piece is a densely woven piece of a variety of drone sounds, which I would think he found outside, taping spaces, train, windpipes and such and in his piece he offers them in various shades and shapes, moving around with some elegant speed. He never stays too long in one place, but keenly changes frequencies and moves on to the next set of drones. Along with this, there is a bit of voice material, train announcement, spied conversations in a tunnel and such which add a fine additional atmosphere to the music. Forty minutes of ambiences and drones, in a variety of forms; it delivers what it promises on the box. (FdW)
––– Address: https://grubenwehrfreiburg.bandcamp.com/
HENNING LUNDKVIST - MUSIC AND NEIGHBOURS OF CH'IEN CHIEN (VOL I) (cassette by Sensorisk Verden)
"We are happy to release Henning Lundkvist's sound piece "Music and Neighbours of Ch'ien Chien”. A document of noises from his home in Copenhagen. The mind can wander when listening to these sounds. A record plays in the background. Voices seep through the walls. An old armchair squeaking. Footsteps. Whistling. Curses and blessings of the city domicile. Henning Lundkvist is an artist and writer. He performs, exhibits and runs the art institution Ch'ien Chien in his living room." That is what I know about this release because I copied it from the label's Bandcamp. Two pieces, exactly ten minutes each of what I perceive to be 'empty room recordings'. Stick a microphone in the air, leave the room and see what you can capture; neighbours, street sounds. Lundkvist boosted his recordings quite a bit, so there is quite a bit of hiss, but that we can see as a fine additional layer of sound. On the a-side, there is not much happening and it is all just ambience, but on the b-side, someone rehearsing a flute/harmonium/organ made it to the tape and that gives it all a strange melodic touch. But why ten minutes, why not ninety (and maybe I would say when it was ninety, 'why not ten?'), I wondered. It is all pretty much a form of conceptual art, but I thought it also worked quite well in terms of 'just' music. (FdW)
––– Address: https://sensoriskverden.bandcamp.com/