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DANIELE CIULLINI - GREAT EVENTS ARE COMING (CD by Standa) *
TWIST OF FATE - WHERE THE DUSK HAS NO END (CD by Standa) *
GIANLUCA BECUZZI - IN BETWEEN (2CD by Standa) *
HÜBSCH & MARTEL & ZOUBEK - IZE (CD by Insub Records) *
MARTIN PYNE - SPIRITS OF ABSENT DANCERS (CD by Discus Music) *
LUCAS BRODE - VAGUE SENSE OF VIRTUE (CD by Cacophonous Revival Recordings) *
TWINKLE 3 - MINOR PLANTS (CD by Marionette) *
THEME - SACRAL BLOOD WARNING (CD by Fourth Dimension) *
MESIAS MAIGUASHCA - OELDORF 8 (CD by Karlrecords) *
ANDREA LAUDANTE & DARIO CAPASSO - ACR0N (CD by Liburia Records) *
ANDREA LAUDANTE - BANAT BANAT BAN JAI (CDR by Krysakisound) *
BARTOSZ DZIADOSZ & TOMASZ MRENCA - BLACK LAKE (LP by Infraction Records) *
MOUCHOIR ETANCHE - UNE FILLE PETRIFIEE (LP by Cellule 75) *
ACCELERA DECK - CRYSTALLINE PRICKLE (12" by FGS) *
ACCELERA DECK - PERFECT NOSTALGIA BEACH RAVE (cassette by Vanguard Flowers Publishing) *
156 - AN ACCIDENTAL EXORCISM (CDR by No Part Of It) *
WAX FRUIT - DROWNED BY THE WORLD WE LIVE IN (CDR by No Part Of It) *
LIMBS BIN - UNRELENTING BARRAGE OF FLOWERS AND AMETHYST ENERGY (CDR by Follow Me Into The Laser Eye) *
CONJECTURE - ∫V (cassette by Amek Tapes) *
LEAVER - HANDS LIKE CAGES (cassette by Amek Tapes) *
FREE MAGIC SHOW - MOTOWN (cassette by Steep Gloss)
EZIO PIERMATTEI AND BEN PRESTO - THE BALSAMIC DOCTRINE (cassette by Steep Gloss) *
LUST ROLLERS - CASSETTE WITH COLLAGE (cassette by Steep Gloss) *
HOWARD STELZER AND STEFFAN DE TURCK - FOR CHARLIE MOPPS (cassette by Steep Gloss) *
HONKEYZONTAL PICNIC - FACING CHARGES AS A SPORT (cassette by Steep Gloss) *
SIGTRYGGUR BERG SIGMARSSON & BJ NILSEN - ZOMER 2020 (cassette by Some) *
BOB, CAROL, TED & ALICE - SENCO UNICO + TANTE ALIE SESSIES (cassette by Diggin' Demos) *
MOSCOW TOPS - THE SOUND OF YOUNG AMSTERDAM (cassette by Diggin' Demos) *
HET CHATEAU D'IF/EGO PRODUKTIES (cassette by Diggin' Demos) *
DANIELE CIULLINI - GREAT EVENTS ARE COMING (CD by Standa)
TWIST OF FATE - WHERE THE DUSK HAS NO END (CD by Standa)
GIANLUCA BECUZZI - IN BETWEEN (2CD by Standa)
From the dark world of Silentes we receive three messages, and they are quite different. First, there is Daniele Ciullini, who I believe was once attached to the great cassette label/network Trax. I must admit I was surprised to see that he is still playing music, while at the same time I also have to admit I don't know much of his solo work. All the pieces here are called 'Event' and a number, so what exactly are these 'great events'? Maybe that's open for the listener. Ciullini takes credit for toy keyboard, sampling & electronics, automatic voices and electronic noises. This I thought was a most enjoyable CD. Think Oval-esque electronics of slow skipping electronics and voices, with a fine poetic touch along the lines of AGF. There is something mechanical about the music and at the same time, it is also warm and cosy. This quite ambient, with fine stretched droney synthesizer parts, no doubt all laptop-based, but with the sampling of skipping sounds there is a plunderphonic edge to it, and as such it is a combination one doesn't hear all too often. Another point of reference would be 'Real Landscapes' by Nicolas Collins, should anyone remember that cassette. It all had a very direct, live feeling to it. That is something that made me enjoy this quite a bit; it was something familiar and yet also with a different edge to it, something unusual. Unusual, however, it was a combination that worked very well.
Something entirely different is the release by Giuseppe Verticchio and Daniele Gherardi, also known as Twist Of Fate. They play guitars, synthesizer, violin, guitar effects, e-bow and all is duly recorded onto the computer. Whereas the music by Daniele Ciullini was very playful, I believe that the music here is very serious. It looks away, into the dark of night; see also last week's release by Marcus Maeder; dusk and twilight are popular themes for musicians of the ambient music variety. Twist Of Fate is a duo that easily connects to the world of post-rock meeting ambient. I would be surprised if there are no loop devices used by these two. They play rather melodic guitar phrases and let them hang on in a web of loops, becoming drones, evolving slowly into an infinite web of sounds. Of course, I didn't hear come dusk time or twilight, but just plain 'during the afternoon', but on a cloudy day, so that part of the mood is taken care of. I thought of this as quite enjoyable music, even when I am not necessarily the biggest lover of this sort of guitar meets ambient music; perhaps, I am more the synthesizer/field recording lover, but I can easily hear that they know what they are doing, and they do a great job.
And we make another full turn, and we meet Gianluca Becuzzi. Before he worked as Kinetix and was a member of Kirlian Camera and Pankow. A man with many musical guises, and not all to my liking. I have some trouble with his new release. This work has something to do with the shaman, the witch and the artist, and they are "united by the desire for transcendence". There is quite a bit of text on the cover on how these are connected, ending with " The new witchcraft is the dissident voice, the unaligned gaze, the freedom that the experimenter can regain in another dimension that he creates himself, with his art". Becuzzi plays guitar, drums and sings. The music is pitch black, full of angst and despair. The drums are hit slow and heavy, the guitar is all on-distorted and the voice howls. It is an invocation to... well... I have no idea. What do people generally invoke? God? Devil? Something else? That part is a bit lost on me, but then, I am not the sort of man to invoke anything, just minding my own business. Two discs, something like ninety minutes of this stuff is way too much, as I found it hard to hear the difference among these nine pieces. In general, I liked the second disc better. It uses samples, so the cover says, from 'The Witch O.S.T.' by Mark Korven and in 'The Witch' the sound is spaced out; it is not full-on heavy lifting that is going on here, but it works as a film soundtrack by itself. My preference is with disc two, but I can imagine many would like the full-on blast of the first disc. (FdW)
––– Address: http://store.silentes.it/index.htm
HÜBSCH & MARTEL & ZOUBEK - IZE (CD by Insub Records)
There is not an easy way to say this, but yes, I fucked up. That happens. In Vital Weekly 1250, I reviewed what I believed to be a CD by Micheal Pisaro-Liu. Except it wasn't it. Just the other day I picked up that CD again, and I noticed, much to my horror, this was something entirely different. I had heard a CD by CarlLudwig Hübsch (tuba, objects), Pierre-Yves Martel (viola da gamba, harmonica, pitch pipes) and Philip Zoubek (piano, synthesizer). They have worked together; see my review of 'Somewhere' in Vital Weekly 1155, and they have recordings from a concert of November 11, 2018, at Loft in Cologne, that wonderful place for improvised music. What I before mistakenly heard as a bass clarinet is a tuba and I correctly heard the violin and throughout there is a silent, modern classical feel to the music. All three of them like to play longer, sustaining notes, creating a delicate web of sounds. The piano notes that Zoubek adds at points in time; a tap on the shoulder if you will, to mark the beginning or end of the events. As I wrote on what I thought was this CD "The overall mood is also contemplative and quiet, but most of the time not as quiet as perhaps you would think a release from Wandelweiser would sound like. I especially liked the slightly more experimental character of these pieces", and that is something I still stand by. This is quiet music for a quiet day. (FdW)
––– Address: https://insub.bandcamp.com/
MARTIN PYNE - SPIRITS OF ABSENT DANCERS (CD by Discus Music)
This is the first cd I came across referring to the COVID-experience we are now going through. For Pyne, it has the following background. As a musician and composer, he is often engaged in dance productions. But not now because of the virus. Because of this, he imagined "a lone musician in a deserted theatre, like a kind of medicine man, throwing sounds into space in an attempt to conjure up the ghosts of dancers no longer present", Pyne explains. Composer and improviser Pyne plays vibraphone, drums, percussion and electronics. Being influenced by jazz, improvisation, modern classical and experimental music he works for dance productions most of the time. Besides he had his own trio Busnoys with Trevor Davies (drums) and Jeff Spencer (bass), all based in the Bristol-scene, with music that incorporates jazz, ambient and neo-classical ingredients. This also counts for his new solo-album 'Spirits of Absent Dancers' that opens with a piece for Japanese temple bowls and toy piano, composed for a ballet production in 2019. Central is a very Satie-like melody. What follows are seven pieces varying on the same theme played on vibraphone. Near the end of the album on the track 'Enchantment,' the same theme pops up again. The other half of 19 miniatures on this release are mainly percussion works, played by Pyne sitting at a small drum kit. All 19 works vary between 1 and 5 minutes. Pyne builds his pieces from transparent and distinct patterns and motives what make it imaginable for me his music is very much suited for dance and ballet productions. The music is atmospheric, carefully and effectively performed and arranged by Pyne. Accessible and often playful music of a harmonic nature. (DM)
––– Address: https://discus-music.co.uk/
LUCAS BRODE - VAGUE SENSE OF VIRTUE (CD by Cacophonous Revival Recordings)
Guitarists that play in contexts of free improvised music, as well as ambient music, are rare to me. Belgian musician Dirk Serries is the obvious example of a guitarist who excels in both worlds. And Lucas Brode seems another example, although my overview of his work is very limited. I know of 'Indignants', a great improv album from 2018 that has Brode in the company of Julius Masri and Shayna Dulberger, two musicians we recently met on the 'Dromedaries II' release by Relative Pitch Records. Brode is a guitarist and composer from New York taking his influences from jazz, rock and African music. He is engaged mainly as an improviser in the scene of New York and Hudson Valley. But he also played math-rock with the band Hannibal Montana, and psych-rock with Perhaps. And collaborated with diverse musicians as Daniel Carter, Al Margolis, G.Calvin-Weston to name a few. His companion Kevin Shea is a jazz-drummer also operating in the NY-area, and worked with Daniel Carter, Rhys Chatham, etc. In their pastoral excursions the guitar of Brode is prominent and has the drumming by Shea in serving role, never making a contrast, but always consequently underlining the movements by Brode. This makes the music developing and continuing in the same flow, often with looped sounds in the background. Their music remembered me of the work of someone like Steve Tibbetts because of the spatial ambient like textures with dynamic outbursts from time to time. With their associative movements, the melodic lines played by Brode, their music sounds like an evocation of a dreamlike world. (DM)
––– Address: https://cacophonousrevivalrecordings.bandcamp.com/
TWINKLE 3 - MINOR PLANTS (CD by Marionette)
It has been quite a while since I last heard music by Twinkle 3 (with that '3' lifted a bit), a trio of Richard Scott (analogue synthesizers), David Ross (tremoloa, cosmic bow, drosscillator) and Clive Bell (shakuhachi, pi saw, khene). That was back then, with Vital Weekly 672, when I reviewed their 'Let's Make A Solar System' LP for the sadly missed ini.itu label from Brussels. Ross and Bell later did another album for that label (Vital Weekly 925). In between that first LP and this new release (also available on LP, it seems), there has been only one other release, so one can't accuse them of flooding the market. Apparently, this third one is also a sign that they end their work. I have no idea what all of their instruments suppose to be doing but I do understand that the group is interested in lots of things, primarily a combination of improvised music in combination with real-time manipulation; be it a computer or analogue machines. Sometimes this is worked in a fine, slightly chaotic gathering of sounds, maybe as one would expect with this kind of improvised music, but in a piece such as 'Ryugu 162173', everything is held together by the use of a rhythm machine/sequenced-based synthesizer, which adds a fine dub-like feeling to the music; something quite exotic maybe? It makes that the music bounces all over the place, but oddly enough I find it all quite coherent. Leaping from chaos into order and out of that again, from musique concrète to improvisation to techno (well, there's a word to be used lightly) and back again, but all of this with a lot of light-heartedness to it and all of this being short and to the point. The studio is used to full effect, and it all sounds very well-produced. If this is the end of Twinkle 3, then so be it, but it would be a great pity. (FdW)
––– Address: https://marionettelabel.bandcamp.com/
THEME - SACRAL BLOOD WARNING (CD by Fourth Dimension)
As, Theme, from the UK and Poland (so I believe). It seems that whenever something new is released, I recount how much I liked their first release (Vital Weekly 247) and also their second (Vital Weekly 527), and how I less fancied the releases after that. But there is more to repeat. 'Sacral Blood Warning' has been released before on a CDR (see Vital Weekly 1104), but it seems to be quite right to give this release another life. The fifty copies from last time weren't enough. I didn't read the old review but decided to listen afresh. I believe I liked this one! The duo of Richard Johnson (voice) and Stuart Carter (music, mix) go back to their musical roots, which lies beyond Theme. They have been both involved in what we can bluntly call 'guitar-based noise' since the mid-80s and as such we could see Theme as a continuation of such groups as Splintered but now with more electronic means. There is also the influence of what was once called 'power electronics', think Ramleh and Whitehouse, although primarily the first and with the use of faraway voices, pushed away in the mix, in favour of rhythm (which is something that sets them apart from the early industrialists and may connect to a more demented form of techno music) and noise, reminding me of Cabaret Voltaire. This is (still!) some very powerful music, psychedelic, creepy, intense and dark; this is not party music, that much is sure. I may never understand the whole 'sacral' and 'blood' sort-o thing that they feel the need to tie in; it would have worked equally powerful for me without any of that. (FdW)
––– Address: https://fourthdimensionrecords.bigcartel.com/products
MESIAS MAIGUASHCA - OELDORF 8 (CD by Karlrecords)
Born in Quito, Ecuador, Mesias Maigushca moved to Germany in the '60s and studied with Stockhausen, later on working with him. Later he worked at IRCAM and founded the Oeldorf Group of composers and performers, named after a small village near Cologne where they worked in a rented farmhouse. He composed 'Oeldorf 8' for the group, to be performed by clarinet, violin, cello, electric organ/synthesizer) and tape. In total ten short plays that may or may not be played without a break. It was released in 1976 on LP, later bootlegged by Creel Pone, but now officially re-issued on LP and CD; I have the latter so the piece is not interrupted. The piece starts with a spoken introduction by the composer and then slowly electronic sounds are added. It takes a while before we hear any acoustic instruments, which start elegant (though not in a romantic, classical notion), but throughout the various segments become nastier and meaner, and I began thinking that at this point there might have also been the addition of electronics. If so, it's hard to tell it is; the mix of both these ends works really, but of course, if they are really there. After thirty minutes tape and electronics are clearly present with quite the brutal drone interaction. The presence of the instruments is slowly torn down, and we end on an electronic note, with the instruments taking a slow retreat in the background. The music is not one case being this or that, but a subtle (well, musically speaking, not always that subtle) move between various ends of the electronic and the acoustic spectrum, which I enjoyed very much. (FdW)
––– Address: http://karlrecords.bandcamp.com
ANDREA LAUDANTE & DARIO CAPASSO - ACR0N (CD by Liburia Records)
ANDREA LAUDANTE - BANAT BANAT BAN JAI (CDR by Krysakisound)
The name of Andrea Laudante we first heard with a release by Degoya (Vital Weekly 1220), where he plays electronics and is responsible for the mixing. Here has a duo album with Dario Capasso, who plays electronics, sampling and guitar on one piece. Laudante plays piano prepared piano, Rhodes and sampling; I assume he does that on his solo release as well (as such is not mentioned on the cover).
The solo release Laudante calls to be a "diary of a journey through sound and listening, as a form of meditation" and that is certainly clear in the music. Laudante plays the piano with great care and style, melodic and meditative. It's what happens around this, that makes it different from your average Brian Eno adept. Here, Laudante adds electronics, samples of acoustic sounds, glitches and what I believe to be processed piano sounds. I couldn't say if these were real-time processes or perhaps something he created a bit later and added to his piano playing. That makes that this record moves out of the world of moody, new agey (oops), piano music and leaps neatly into the world of electro-acoustic music, with these processing sounds going, and at the same time it all stays melodic, friendly and intimate. There is also a touch of exoticness to this, in which the piano is prepared and sounds like gamelan (just as John Cage once intended), along with some field recording (such as in 'Pratah Smarami'). It's a weird yet wonderful combination of sounds that don't meet up easily and yet Laudante knows how to combine these into ten pieces of fine elegance.
After hearing the solo disc first, the duo disc is not a surprise, but more an extension of the solo one. The keyboards and electronic double up, so there is a more synthesized to be noticed in these pieces and that creates a spacious character within the music, but at the same time, the elements of electro-acoustic music remain part of this, as well as Laudante's piano playing. It is more of the same but also just 'more', which is fine. It's good to see what Laudante does in his solo capacity also works in combination with somebody else. I have no idea if this is the work of improvisation, a spontaneous recording with editing afterwards, or a more meticulous, planned way of composing. I would think the first, but maybe that is just because that's the way these things are normally made. From what I hear it could be either way. Occasionally there is a rhythm used, more expansion I'd say, such as in 'Impr~Piano' (which titles suggest improvisation). It doesn't become dance music but places a different accent to the music, which works quite well. Playing these two discs in one go, wasn't more of the same but a continuation of interests. (FdW)
––– Address: http://liburiarecords.bandcamp.com
BARTOSZ DZIADOSZ & TOMASZ MRENCA - BLACK LAKE (LP by Infraction Records)
The first musician we know as Pleq, even when we haven't seen many new releases in recent years. He was also a founding member of The Frozen Vaults, "the international ambient/modern classical ensemble" and has worked with offthesky, Segue, Giulio Aldinucci and Hakobune, among others. Tomasz Mreńca is also a member of The Frozen Vaults, and plays the violin. Together with Dziadosz he released a 3"CDR for Taalem before (see Vital Weekly 1098). I assume he plays the violin on this release as well, but it is reworked to such as extent that we don't hear it most of the time (it is surely not absent as proven in 'Borderline'; or, perhaps, it's all about the use of synthesizers and electronics. This LP was previously released on CD, in 2017, by Requiem Records, but that one never reached these shores. Now it is available on LP, in a thick sleeve, in an edition of 200 copies. Like the title suggests, this is a record of darkness, of slow shifting tones, of sitting by the lake and listening to the silent night, which, of course, is never silent. The two go out for a slightly more orchestral feel to it, be it the violin layered extensively or string settings on the synthesizers. It is gentle music, but also spooky. Some of this can be latched one on one on a dramatic film, rather than a horror flick. With the turning of seasons slowly beginning to notice, well, here at least, this is the perfect grey day record of mood music that transports you, from the street you live, into the forest, with the cold October mist rising above the black lake (and, come to think of it, a quick Google learns there is a TV series with the same, but I am thinking of the small lake near the place in Austria where we went on holiday in my early years; if I could go back, I'd surely take this music and play it on the shore of this small forest lake). (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.infractionrecords.com/
MOUCHOIR ETANCHE - UNE FILLE PETRIFIEE (LP by Cellule 75)
The name Marc Richter is, for me, more connected to his Dekorder label and not, unlike many others, to his Black To Comm music project. He acquired some fame with that, with releases on Thrill Jockey, Type and Dekorder, many of which didn't make to these pages. I have no idea how Black To Comm developed and the last time I heard the music, was a great number of years ago. I do remember a particularly loud concert, but that too seems like a long time ago. Richter's new 'related to Black To Comm' project is Mouchoir Etanche, and I am not sure in which this differs from the mothership, for the aforementioned reasons. I vaguely do remember Black To Comm being all about atmospheric music, perhaps drone-based but not exclusively just that. As Mouchoir Etanche he does something atmospherically inclined but expands on it further. Collaging sounds together seems to be the keyword here. There is quite a bit of voice material, quite opera-like, church organs, field recordings and with twelve tracks there is quite some speed among these pieces. As I sat back listening to this, I didn't have the impression of this being a bunch of individual pieces but with all the layering ging and sometimes abrupt endings (and also some abrupt way pieces start) it sounded like two long pieces, one per side of the record. The influence of musique concrète seems obvious here; the studio as an instrument to paint sonic pictures. Some church organs here reminded me of Nurse With Wound's 'Spiral Insana', regarded by some as their masterpiece (especially in the title piece). In the way, Richter plays around with his sound material, owes quite a bit to that, but is also something that has a lot of his signature on it. It's moody and playful, it's mysterious (what's with all the religious stuff?) and dreamy. It is like a beautiful nightmare, just as the surrealists would have loved it. Many images apply! (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.cellule75.org
ACCELERA DECK - CRYSTALLINE PRICKLE (12" by FGS)
ACCELERA DECK - PERFECT NOSTALGIA BEACH RAVE (cassette by Vanguard Flowers Publishing)
When I started to receive material from Llarks, the latest of musical projects from Chris Jeely I assumed, not with much evidence, that all the other projects stopped, including the one he is best known for, Accelera Deck. That turns not to be true. In 2017, he released an EP, 'Tumult' and now there is 'Crystalline Prickle', with brand-new pieces and there is a cassette of archive material. Jeely is back to the world of rhythmic music! I must admit I quite enjoyed this stuff some twenty years ago when I was more interested in the world of rhythmic music. The three new tracks are fine reminders of the original sound of Acelera Deck. The music is jumpy, bouncing around in what seems to be broken up rhythms and perhaps it is not always something one can dance too, but at the same time, it is also so utterly groove. 'Turn Up For Joy' has a shaky basis, stuttering melodic lines and beats, seems very minimal, but yet it is true out very captivating. The title track, on the other hand, has a pretty straight forward beat and some pleasant melodic punches, while 'Summerswelll [sic] Harbor' has some very retro beats and here the synthesizers are nasty and take over until the beat has disappeared. It is an excellent return to form.
And if you wonder what that form was, go to the Bandcamp page listed here and check out some of his other stuff. 'Perfect Nostalgia Beach Rave' is an imaginary beach rave party where Jeely spins his own historical material. A long cassette, the equivalent of two albums, of stuff he recorded on a 4 track machine in 1995/1996 and without a computer in sight. Just a drum computer, some synthesizer, some sequencer. We hear the influence of drum 'n bass, techno, intelligent dance music, industrial music; some of this minimally banging on, there is much naivety in the music, but that is the beauty of it. It is raining outside, so no beach rave today for me, and I could say that the music is a fine alternative; maybe it is but it is also quite long and more difficult to enjoy when 'just' sitting back and listening. A younger me want to get out, crack open a beer and see some sweaty friends doing dance moves. This is a cassette to return to in the evening while enjoying this or that to help elevate the mood; or perhaps the music that does that? (FdW)
––– Address: https://accelera.bandcamp.com/
156 - AN ACCIDENTAL EXORCISM (CDR by No Part Of It)
Behind 156 is Adel Souto, born inCuba, now living in Florida, who had a bunch of releases so far on such labels as Chondritic Sound, Goat Eater Arts, Humanhood Recordings and Feast Of Hate And Fear, but 'An Accidental Exorcism' is my first encounter with his work. Besides music, he is also active in translating Spanish poetry, writing for magazines and photography. Both the Bandcamp page and Discogs list that his work is "in the spirit of early Einstürzende Neubauten, Test Dept, Crash Worship, and Z'EV", using material from the junkyard as instruments and adds a bit of synthesizer. I also understand he takes sound samples on board from friends. The inspiration for this new release are horror films and I think that shows in the titles of his pieces. If the references given may lead you to think that this is some rhythmic banging on oil drums and sheets of metal, then you are wrong. Just as well as I was, I must admit. The music by 156 (I am not sure what the name means) is the exploration of metallic sounds in a more atmospheric context. I would think he samples his rubbing, scratching, and hitting of metal and puts a bunch of these together in what becomes the composition. He adds the shrieks of a metallic violin In 'Ode To Pazuzu' or a very deep shaking synth in 'Wirling', with some disparate clanking on metal, which is quite the rhythm piece; here, I'd say it is all play live. The music from 156 harks back to the early days of industrial music, mostly Neubauten but without any vocals and more production value when it comes to the use of 'other' sounds. It deepens the original industrial sound and creates a richer and darker atmosphere with it. This is not some tribal oil drumming but the sound of the industry in decay. The soundtrack for the post-industrail society, which we may have left behind us, but then this music is wel-suited for film about that time. Excellent stuff! (FdW)
––– Address: https://nopartofit.bandcamp.com/
WAX FRUIT - DROWNED BY THE WORLD WE LIVE IN (CDR by No Part Of It)
While large parts of the catalogue of the US label No Part Of It are used to unleash the noise beast, there is also room for something else, such as the music by Wax Fruit. They are a duo from St. Louis, Michaella and Dom, the first singing and the second on synthesizers and drum machines. As with many projects such as these, the inspiration is drawn from the 1980's minimal synth scene. Not that it was called that in those years (in fact, I have no idea since when we are using the word 'minimal synth'). I always think 'minimal synth' means 'one synth, one drum machine, one voice', but no doubt that is something romantical notion of this kind of music. Especially on the synth front, there might be more than just one synth. Wax Fruit does a great job by sounding very retro. It is stripped down from most productional values, just the rhythm machine ticking away time, the synths in mild overdrive version, bare melodies and the voices buried in the mix (which is a good place to hide if one is that proficient at singing). I heard quite a bit of this minimal synth back in the day, but, actually, more of that in the last ten years. I quite enjoy that kind of music, as I love the sort of naivety when it comes to production and yet still it manages to sound 'pop'; well, in a sort of odd way of course. It is not the kind of pop music that will reach the masses, but one that could well on a night that is promoted as 'darkwave'. As always, I have no idea what these lyrics are about, as I never pay much attention to them, but maybe titles as 'Synthetic Reality' or 'Nightmares (Become Real)' says it all? The '80s, the height of the Cold War, were no fun, but is the world better off, right now? I doubt it, and even if this 'Done Before' (as one of the titles go), we get an updated soundtrack for grim times. (FdW)
––– Address: https://nopartofit.bandcamp.com/
LIMBS BIN - UNRELENTING BARRAGE OF FLOWERS AND AMETHYST ENERGY (CDR by Follow Me Into The Laser Eye)
It’s looking like live gigs are a thing of the past. Or at least a thing of the past for now. Any look through local venues online sees a seemingly unending dance of cancelled-rescheduled-cancelled shows. I’m even resorting to digging out live albums I don’t really enjoy to try and recreate that live experience. One act who wants to try and remind us about how exciting, and fun, live music can be is Limbs Bin.
His new album ‘Unrelenting Barrage of Flowers and Amethyst Energy’ consist of two slabs of live performances. The first track, ‘Dayton Noise Symposium II, Joga Somatic Arts, Kettering, OH 5/11/19’ took place in a yoga studio that has been taken over for a noise fest. Then set opens with impassioned spoken word samples before short, abrasive sonic explosions, with almost indecipherable lyrics, blow your speakers. Musically its what we’ve come to expect from Limbs Bin. This pure Grind Violence. The second track ‘Mass Grind Violence Vol. 2, AS220, Providence, RI 8/31/19’. The crowd is in fine form interacting with the hilarious links “This one called black jacket”, “I have one of those” an audience member barks back. “This is for you. The only person here in a black jacket so this is dedicated to you” and “How many grind themed restaurants do you know?” he is asked “Well, there’s grindcore house in Philly… That’s it” “Too many” someone yells back.
What makes ‘Unrelenting Barrage of Flowers and Amethyst Energy’ is that it tries, fairly successfully in places, to recreate the experience of a live show. Usually, others have tried to record straight from the mixing desk with the audience levels lowered not to detract from the music. But here Limbs Bin wants the crowd to be as important as the music itself. It reminds us of how great it is to see a band you like and have a brief back and forth with them. How being singled out in the crowd either for ridicule or praise is sometimes better than the music itself.
––– Address: https://limbsbin.bandcamp.com/#_=_
CONJECTURE - ∫V (cassette by Amek Tapes)
LEAVER - HANDS LIKE CAGES (cassette by Amek Tapes)
Back in Vital Weekly 1185 I reviewed 'V', the first LP release by Amek Tapes and by Conjecture, the musical project of Vasilis Angelopoulos. This new cassette is to be understood as a companion EP, of three further songs and three remixes. "In mathematical language the "∫" means "complete" and so the record contains previously unheard music, written during the recording sessions of "V"". So you know. I noted of the LP that Greece wasn't always the sunniest place on Earth, as Conjecture manages to play deep, nasty and grim music. New was the element of rhythm in his music, and that he explores further in the three new pieces. It is still dark and still grim music, but heavily reliant on the use of rhythm, now even more pounding hard and heavy, like the jackhammer of the industrial music. Is this dance music? I have no idea, I don't dance. I doubt that many do, but people are known to do strange things. The three remixes are by Late, Antechamber and Талос and explore exactly the same territory as the mothership does. Is that good or bad? I don't know. From the point of view that it creates a unified (mini-) album it surely is the right thing. In terms of finding a new audience, it perhaps isn't; it is, however, a powerful statement. (FdW)
The best albums are the ones that don’t click straight away. If you have to work, and fight, for them the pay off is always greater. I remember getting a copy of The New Jazz Orchestra’s seminal album ‘Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe’ as a teenager and just not getting on with it. A few weeks before I’d got Miles Davis and Stand Getz album ‘Conception’ and liked it immediately, but with ‘Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe’ nothing clicked. I listened to it intently and it did my head in. I listened to it while doing my homework and I couldn’t concentrate so I gave up on it. Then one day, while walking home from school the tape I was listening to ended and I reached into my pocket and pulled out the other tape I had. Weirdly it was The New Jazz Orchestra. While walking home that afternoon things started to click a bit. Every day that week I listened to it and by that Friday I was into it. The same is true of ‘Hands Like Cages’. The new album by Leaver.
At first, I wasn’t that into ‘Hands Like Cages’. There wasn’t enough variation in each song and the vocals didn’t seem to add anything. In fact, in places, they detracted from the music. But I persevered. I decided to stop concentrating on it and just let it play in the background for a while and see what started to jump out at me. At first, nothing did, and my original assessment was correct. However, after a few more rotations I started to get drawn into the guitars. There is something compelling about how static they are. Once the riff starts there is little change until it stops. Which each repetition the emotional content is hammered home thanks in part to how the backing track builds and swells. The title track is a prime example of this. As ‘Hands Like Cages’ enters it’s fifth minute the guitars are an all-consuming wall of droney feedback and captivating simplicity. And this is the power of the album. Leaver isn’t doing anything fancy. They aren’t playing solos behind their head with their eyes closed. They are delivering solid atmospherics and ambience that conjure up the terror of a David Lynch film or a Cocteau Twins cover.
The album opens with ‘Unfired’ and a slowly strummed guitar. This carries on for a few minutes. Very little changes. The riff is expanded slightly, but it remains mostly the same. As the guitar ploughs on, synths slowly start to emerge and fill in the gaps left by the open guitar work. Just after three and a half minutes the lyrics “Loud thoughts, held back. Can’t speak, the voices wither. Numb hands, dry eyes. The mind’s asleep. The fingers trembling” are sung/spoken. The next verse follows quickly “Harsh words, reason the silence. Choking on clouds of heavy burdens”. Then it's back to the simplistic guitar exploration and billowing synths. On one hand, it is a bit of a dirge that doesn’t go anywhere or do anything dynamic, but on the other, the lack of real progression and constant repetition is a brilliant masterstroke. Through not diverting from the opening passages, save for the undulating backing track, you are forced to confront the music head-on and build your own connection to it. There is a depressive/despondent quality to the music that makes it enjoyable to listen to, in the same way, that we like wallowing in self-pity long after the need for it, but there is something enjoyable about listening to the ‘Unfired’. After the lyrics finish the song really comes into its own. Instead of taking things up, which is what you expect, it stays at the same level. Slowly repeating over and over. Each repetition feels like the last, but it isn’t. Until it is then you immediately crave it again. The rest of the album follows this pattern but never quite reaches the same highs as ‘Unfired’.
‘Hands Like Cages’ is an album that you might need to give time. Sadly, time isn’t always something that we are willing to give music in age if instant gratification and unlimited playlists. But it should be. Albums like this should be praised to not going for the quick win or cheap pop, to quote a wrestling phrase where performers say the towns name to go over with the crowd. Instead ‘Hands Like Cages’ makes you do the hard work and try and decipher what it is about. After listening to the album at least a dozen times I still have no real idea what it is about, but I know that if I play it one more time, I might just crack it. Perhaps you will too. (NR)
––– Address: https://amekcollective.bandcamp.com/
FREE MAGIC SHOW - MOTOWN (cassette by Steep Gloss)
EZIO PIERMATTEI AND BEN PRESTO - THE BALSAMIC DOCTRINE (cassette by Steep Gloss)
LUST ROLLERS - CASSETTE WITH COLLAGE (cassette by Steep Gloss)
HOWARD STELZER AND STEFFAN DE TURCK - FOR CHARLIE MOPPS (cassette by Steep Gloss)
HONKEYZONTAL PICNIC - FACING CHARGES AS A SPORT (cassette by Steep Gloss)
‘Motown’ is a delightfully disjointed half hour. Each side works in the same way. Samples of lurid voices, pots, pans, pianos and tape loops are all layered together to create wonderfully irrationally soundscapes. At first, it’s hard to get a handle on the chaotic cacophony, but after a few moments, it all starts to slot into place. The second side is the noisier of the two. We aren’t talking a wall of white noise that will melt your face off like Ronald Lacey at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, oh no, but it's just slightly lairier than the first. What makes the second side such a joy is that despite it being louder the delicate loops underneath aren’t lost in the mix. Free Magic Show are definitely ones to watch and this is one of the finest things Steep Goss has released all year.
When walking along the beach you sometimes come across sea foam all washed up and spumy. It is a solid, yet it if you poke it with a stick it is soft and pliable. This is how Ezio Piermattei and Ben Presto’s ‘The Balsamic Doctrine’ feels to me. The music of Piermattei and Presto is full of creaking sounds and bubbling motifs. The music is firm but you also get the impression that if you pressed hard enough you could push your way easily through it. Two-thirds of the way through the first side a subtle melody emerges. It is jaunty and playful with a Close Encounter feel to it. It works both as a palate cleanser through the sounds of audible decay and as a reminder that Piermattei and Presto are capable of throwing some curveballs when you least expect it. ‘The Balsamic Doctrine’ is a mesmeric album that is filled with rich layered samples that demand regular plays.
Improvised music has a reputation of being slightly impenetrable or difficult to listen to at times, but there is something undeniably joyful about ‘Cassette with Collage’. The opening gambit of ‘Unparalleled Furniture Diversions’ has a devastatingly playing vibe to that it almost takes you back. “Isn’t this meant to be a serious, challenging release?” you almost catch yourself thinking. And this is what Lust Rollers want you to think. They want to you second guess it so when they pull out the heavy guns, or horns, you are slightly taken aback but the sheer scope of the sonics. Musically ‘Cassette with Collage’ is a brave and fearless released will of horn squeaks, radio static, the sound of dilapidated percussion giving it a go before it degenerates before our ears and guitar fuzz. “But what about the collage that the title speaks of?” I can hear you bellow. I’m glad you asked. The collage is as abstract and beautiful as the music it contains. The collage consists of an old black and white photo of a woman’s face in profile. On top of this is a section of either a leaf or an abdomen of a grasshopper. When you look at the picture you are immediately drawn to her eye. It is stark and piercing, like Bruce’s in Jaws, but there are tinges of warmth to it. Yes, it is slightly world-weary and tired, but it hasn’t given up. The same could be said for the music. Lust Rollers have delivered something made from the detritus of life that is filled with as much hope and love as anything else you’ll hear this year.
As the story and song go, “A long time ago, way back in history, When all there was to drink was nothin but cups of tea. Along came a man by the name of Charlie Mops, And he invented a wonderful drink and he made it out of hops.” Yes, this is a song about beer, its creator and how it makes us feel. The new album by Howard Stelzer and Steffan de Turck is about this too but is made from samples from the act of drinking. Beer bottles are chinked, opened, poured into glasses, and drank. It is a very abstract album where the sounds of Stelzer and de Turck consuming beer are made into pieces of sound art. ‘Bish Bash Bosh’ and ‘Caractère Rouge’ both feature a recurring drone that on each cycle becomes more and more captivating and abrasive while ‘Discarded Heinekens in Gameren’ sounds like it was recorded in a recycling plant. The juxtaposition between the two types of tracks is striking and is where the real dynamics of the album comes from. The field recordings ground the album in reality. We all have some experience with beer. Either drinking it ourselves or being around people who are. The sounds of popping a cap, or opening a can, are as familiar to us as the sun on faces or rain on shoes. When the sounds are manipulated to create drones and sound collages. While listening, there is a mental connection between the sounds and the memory of drinking, I experienced a whiff of hops, and foam, most notably through ‘Fernwirkung’. This is an inventive album that demonstrates why Stelzer and de Turck are revered and their work is praised. After multiple repeated listens, however, I’m not sure how well ‘For Charlie Mopps’ will stand up, but after listening to it a few times I’ll raise a glass and toast Stelzer, de Turck and Mopps for creating something so simple yet so enjoyable.
Luke Poot and Darren Adcock have returned with another Honkeyzontal Picnic album tucked under their arm. It builds from their impressive debut but totally ramps up the surrealism to unexpected levels whilst asking the important questions of the day. During the opening of Side A, they discuss what Walt Disney cryogenically freezing his head raises the question “What the fuck was he thinking? Is he going to put it on a robot with a six-pack?” Indeed. Musically Poot and Adcock craft rickety lo-fi symphonies that feel like they’re about to collapse on their jittering lolly pop legs. But this is part of the charm. We didn’t come here for pristine melodies and killer rhythms. No, we wanted to be entertained while being slightly perplexed. And perplexed we are. There is a section near the end of the first side when Honkeyzontal Picnic sound like if Salad Fingers was a Soundcloud rapper. ‘Facing Charges as a Sport’ is a fascinating album that demands relistens. After each listens, I think I have a better handle on it, but when I try and explain it all my conclusions fall from my mind like sand through an egg timer. One thing is clear. Honkeyzontal Picnic is a visionary act who need to be left alone to create ingenious and quixotic albums like this. Their world is a skewed and terrifying place that obeys a lot of our rules but doesn’t care about the rest. To quote the band “Oh fucking dear. Bamboozled. Flabbergasted. Put the shits up me. Horrifyingly overjoyed.” (NR)
––– Address: https://steepgloss.bandcamp.com/
SIGTRYGGUR BERG SIGMARSSON & BJ NILSEN - ZOMER 2020 (cassette by Some)
It is not really difficult to translate this title, I should hope, as 'Summer 2020', and it has been a crazy summer, well, at least, in the perception of many. I was inside, minding my own business and continuing the ever-expanding Vital Weekly. I am not sure if BJ Nilsen (holed up in Amsterdam) and Sigmarsson (Hannover) did meet over the summertime to record this cassette or if they were safely at home sending back and forth sound files. As with many of their releases (and by now, there are surely a lot of works by the two of them), you can never be certain who does what here. I always assume there is a pool of sounds from both gentlemen and they take turns in mixing this material together. I quite enjoyed their 'Call It Philips, Eindhoven' (see Vital Weekly 1231), which I found quite spacious in all of its collage-like approach, which is not the approach they take here. 'Zomer 2020' is an entirely different thing with not so much collage material unless you see the extensive layering of sound that is going on here as another of collage. I would think they have been raiding many media sources this sources, as there seems to be quite a bit of voice material leaking through the drones of their heavily processed field recordings. Things start, stop, disrupt and dislocate, and perhaps these are the outside sounds these men are missing, locked down during the summer. Without being harsh noise, this is quite a noisy release for these guys; some brutal take on the field recordings, bass-heavy on the low end, and yet, sometimes, the gentler approach we also know from them. Throughout I kept thinking that much of this would have been labelled as 'ambient industrial' so many years ago; the low-resolution looping of sounds sounded like they dusted off the Casio SK-1 sampler, topped with some primitive delay and reverb machines. For me, that was the most pleasant reminder of days past. This one is different from the previous, but certainly another damn fine work. (FdW)
––– Address: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
BOB, CAROL, TED & ALICE - SENCO UNICO + TANTE ALIE SESSIES (cassette by Diggin' Demos)
MOSCOW TOPS - THE SOUND OF YOUNG AMSTERDAM (cassette by Diggin' Demos)
HET CHATEAU D'IF/EGO PRODUKTIES (cassette by Diggin' Demos)
When I became interested in the world of cassettes, say 1981, I quickly discovered that there two different sorts of cassette releases. On one hand, there was the world of people interested in being an independent record label but then releasing just cassettes and bands (mostly) who released their music on cassette with the main purpose of getting a gig or record deal. That was the world of demo cassettes and I largely ignored that world, partly because I wasn't interested in pop/rock music. Of course, there was a grey area between both ends of the cassette releases. Marco van Dalfsen is a man from up North in The Netherlands and years ago he found (!) 2500 demo cassettes and ever since he's busy with catalogizing these, putting them on his website/Facebook and YouTube, asking questions and collecting stories. Some bands are impossible to locate, and others quite easily. Then he had a new idea, to start a cassette label and re-issue some of the more obscure pop and rock music from The Netherlands, as that's his primary concern. Each of these three comes with a small (A6; lovely) booklet called 'De Demograaf' (the wordplay is lost in English I guess) in which he recounts the story of the band(s) via interviews he did. The design of this I enjoyed very much; it looks like an old fanzine. Of two of these I had not heard before and one I sure did. It is perhaps also not really the sort of music I deal with these days (ever the snob, I guess).
Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice were, despite their name, a trio and the booklet recounts the story of their one-off demo, 'Senso Unico', and with hard to find pseudonyms, but it turns out this band was the predecessor Scram C Baby, which, apparently, still exist to this day, still recording music. Their music is guitar-based, and, according to the information, it sounds like The Libertines, The fall, Bogshed or Eton Crop and has that direct feeling being in their rehearsal space where they recorded this demo on a four-track cassette. While not something I hear a lot, I quite enjoyed the raw energy of this music and their often wacky sense of humour, such as in 'Rock The Buick'.
Something entirely different is Moscow Tops, a band from Amsterdam, with one Jerry Turner leading. The fanzine that comes with this one is the biggest of the three, but then, Jerry had quite a career in music, starting in the sixties and going through a heap of bands. Much of this is on-demand what the audience wants, be it rock, punk, disco, or barrel organ disco. A man who lives of doing music, but also with new ideas and a willingness to try out different things. Moscow Tops is his early 80s band, inspired by Joy Division, Japan and New Order, with a saxophone, so a bit of Roxy Music as well. I must admit, being well-versed in New Joy Japan, it is not always that audible for me as an influence (maybe the very early Japan perhaps), but, perhaps, that is a good thing. There is certainly that new wave sound that was hip in those days, a bit of synthesizer (sadly mixed towards the back of the music). Their cassette was, according to Jerry, the first independent released one in the Netherlands, which claim I would not back-up. Being part of the commercial music scene he might believe so, but it's ain't so. I quite enjoyed this polished new pop from the '80s; another reminder of the old days!
And the last one most certainly is a reminder, as I had the original tape back in the day. Well, more or less. Het Chateau D'If was a side project for Bob Timroff, who was also a member of Final Unit, a band from the Dutch village of Wassenaar, best known for also bringing us Störung and Ensemble Pittoresque. These two bands had their fair share of re-issues in recent years, but not so Final Unit or the even more Chateau D'if. This tape contains also the release that came before, by Ego Produkties, both released by Final Records; this where the demo world crossed over into 'my' world. The music, thirty songs, one hundred minutes of music, is electronic, recorded with a bunch of synthesizers and drum machine on the kitchen table/living room, and the lyrics alternate between Dutch and English. The Dutch ones connect with then (1981/82) interest in serious Dutch language pop music. There is also a bass guitar and electric guitar sometimes. None of this is really minimal electronic as we know it, nor synth punk, but rather naive yet lovely living room pop songs. Technically there is much room for improvement, with the voice often having a much too dominant place in the mix. I very much enjoyed this one for all its simplicity and swings and turns at pop songs but also towards more experimental pieces; the latter more to be found with Ego Produkties and lesser with Chateau D'If, which is more the pop end. However, within these two positions shift as well. Both ends do both things. At one hundred minutes quite the lengthy trip, but well worth it. This is the sort of old stuff that would not easily make it to LP. (FdW)
––– Address: https://diggindemos.bandcamp.com/music
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