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HALSTER - VIRTUOUS MONDAYS (5CD by Konvoj Records) *
STARE TASMY - KRYZYS CZYTELNICTWA (CD by Fourth Dimension) *
JAGATH - DEVALAYA (CD by Cold Spring) *
FRANK HALL - I REMEMBER YOU (CD by Cold Spring) *
THE RITA - SHARK AT KNIFE POINTE (CD by Troniks) *
SISSY SPACEK - HARM 2 (CD by Troniks/Helicopter) *
IAN DOUGLAS-MOORE & PÄR THÖRN - STORY DESTROYER (CD by Firework Edition Records) *
CHRISTER BOTHÉN - AMBROSIA (3CD by Thanathosis Produktion) *
FRED LONBERG-HOLM & LUIS LOPES & STALE LIAVIK SOLBERG – HULLABALOO (CD by Multikulti) *
TAKATSUKI TRIO QUARTETT – LIVE IN HESSEN (CD by Creative Sources Recordings) *
YEDO GIBSON & PAWEL DOSKOCZ & ANDREW LISLE & VASCO FURTADO (CD by Spontaneous Live Series) *
KG AUGENSTERN - CIRCLES AND CYCLES (CD by Gruenrekorder) *
DANIEL KÖTTER & HANNES SEIDL - STADT [LAND FLUSS] (CD by Gruenrekorder) *
E.M.I.R.S. - BLANKETS & PILLARS (CDR, private) *
PEACE LOVE JOY (CDR compilation by Zaftig Research)
RICH TEENAGER - SARDANAPALUS (cassette by 729 Industries) *
KAL SPELLETICH - THE BLESSING OF THE ZHENGKE ZGA37RG (cassette by Eh?) *
PAY DIRT - ERROR THEFT DISCO (cassette by Blue Screen) *
A FAIL ASSOCIATION - EAST V (cassette by Absurd Exposition) *
HALSTER - VIRTUOUS MONDAYS (5CD by Konvoj Records)
Because it can be done, is one of the better reasons for doing things. So if your group is around for ten years and almost every Monday get together to play music, you can celebrate that with the release of a 5CD set. I reviewed their previous release, 'Mindfulness', which musical content had nothing to do new agey bullshit, but was a fine statement of free-range guitar improvisation. Adam Persson, Anders Lindsjö and Matthias Nihlen are all at the six strings and 'Virtuous Mondays' is the title to celebrate their get-togethers. This is from the world of improvised music and as such, it is no surprise that they have lots of guests coming and going. This box collects recordings made in 2018 when they invited their friends for some studio recordings. We have here Henrik Olsson (electric guitar), Hakon Berre (drums), Ola Rubin (trombone), Herman Muntzing (keyboard, electronics), Martin Küchen (baritone saxophone), Martin Hol (drum machine), Raymond Strid (percussion), Jakob Riis (trombone, electronics), Par Thorn (electronics, objects), Anders Uddeskog (drums), Ola Paulsen (tenor saxophone, alto saxophone), Sture Ericson (alto saxophone), Nana Pi Aabo Larsen (tenor saxophone), and Jon Lipscomb (electric guitar). Some familiar names and some new ones. As I was thinking how to approach the amount of music, it occurred to me that I could approach it by a single disc per day and stretch it out over a few days or go hardcore, and do them all at once; one long session spanning an entire afternoon. I did the latter and at a point, it started to blur. There are intimate set-ups, with Halster and one friend or larger, as in two additional players. Only one disc contains six players. Most discs contain two pieces and the second disc had seven. Some of these pieces are wildly extended and some very intimate. The guitar sounds like a guitar, even when nothing is played in a very conventional way. Sometimes there is a slight preference for a more noise-rock approach and then, just as easily it goes into a wild. Chaotic free jazz improvisation, especially when wind instruments appear in the studio. Throughout, these pieces show a great variety in approaches here, which made these five or so hours fly. It is a lot of music, obviously, but just sit back, relax and let these improvisations do their work. Don't analyse too much, just take it all in and repeat the action. (FdW)
––– Address: https://konvojrecords.bandcamp.com/
STARE TASMY - KRYZYS CZYTELNICTWA (CD by Fourth Dimension)
Here, Fourth Dimension makes things a tad more difficult for me. Sure, I know the label loves their post-punk, old and new. Think Map71, Alternative TV or Hand & Leg, and they release the debut album by Stare Tasmy, which translates as 'old tapes' and of the four members, it is said that they "have an impressive background in punk, improv, experimental and even classical music", playing "bas, saksofon barytonowy, perkusja and glos i sample' (the latter by Marchin Barski, who had a solo LP by Reading Group, see Vital Weekly 1161), to quote from the cover, all in Polish. The title means 'Literacy Crisis', and obviously I couldn't figure out from the lyrics what the crisis is about. Musically this connects to the world of post-punk and jazz-punk. The saxophone plays an all-important in the six pieces, effectively taking the role of the guitar. Much of this is lost of me; I couldn't say if this is very political, or rather not. But, you might say, 'you never care about lyrics, so there is nothing lost there', and you're right. The voice reminded me at times of The Ex (both of them) and the music is quite melodic. This is a well-rehearsed band and the music is quite good, even for someone who is not particularly fond of the saxophone. I liked it when things were up-tempo, full of energy, such as in the opening song 'Obce Jezyki'. The samples of a protest march (I think), audiences and other voices are a fine odd-ball to the music, making it a bit different from your regular post-punk band. I quite enjoyed this; I think it's not really Vital Weekly music and probably aimed at the domestic market. I might be wrong. (FdW)
––– Address: https://fourthdimensionrecords.bigcartel.com/products
JAGATH - DEVALAYA (CD by Cold Spring)
When you first start listening to ‘Devalaya’ by JAGATH, it’s hard to know what to make or it. Everything is laced in doom and despondency. There isn’t much that jumps out at you at first. It’s all an unrelenting fug of post-industrial ambient music. As you listen there aren’t many images that come to mind, other than it’s dark and cold. JAGATH say: “It is cold out here, in Russia, everything stays frozen for decades. Life is almost stopped, and this cannot be changed. So we have to do something so as not to freeze to death.” Then you listen some more.
After a few more plays you start to pick out, maybe no brighter points, but definitely less dark motifs. Poking through gloom. The title of the album is loosely translated as ‘The Temple’. When you find out that these five songs were recorded in disused industrial structures in the middle of a bitterly cold Russia, using only hand-crafted instruments and the group’s voices, it all starts to make sense. The music moves from being something abstract and negative to almost religious. These are songs of ritual and celebration. Kind of. The players have gathered in a specific place, at a specific time, to create music that recognises and acknowledges their surroundings. They are, in a way, honouring the people who constructed these industrial forms and glorify them.
‘Devalaya’ is an album that is all about tone. From the moment it starts you know that this isn’t going to be a fun listen. Swells of decaying sound echoes around us. Considering that the album was recorded in old industrial oil tanks in a cold environment, this should be surprising. But somehow it is. Throughout ‘Devalaya’ we are presented with the past, present and future of the industrial age. The past is that these huge structures were built. To either syphon of natural resources from the planet or stores/convert them into power. The present is that after all the resources were collected these structures, and the communities around them, were abandoned. Left to erode in the elements. The future is what to do with them now. Do we leave them as monuments of a post-industrial age? An age where the future had endless possibilities. Or should they stand as a remembrance to the resources that were taken? Most likely they will stand, as desolate markings on the horizon until they either collapse under the power of nature or until another valuable commodity is found so they can be reused for another purpose.
What is certain, however, is that ‘Devalaya’ is a remarkable piece of music that is filled with haunting sounds and guttural tones. It’s an album that reminds us that even in the bleakest environment’s music can, and should, be created. As JAGATH say: “We have to do something so as not to freeze to death”. Indeed. (NR)
––– Address: https://coldspring.co.uk/
FRANK HALL - I REMEMBER YOU (CD by Cold Spring)
There is a reason why ‘I Remember You’ sounds intense. The story goes that when Frank Hall was scoring Óskar Thór Axelsson’s horror film he was holed up in an old industrial area of Grandi in Reykjavík during the winter. The studio was empty with Hall working long hours making sinister and ominous music. There were many intense moments during the recording. When you start to think about it. One person in a semi-abandoned building watching scenes from a film about a detective trying to solve a murder case which might have supernatural elements to it, whilst trying to departmentalise the disappearance of his own son. It starts to sound like the plot to a horror film itself. Luckily everything ended well for Hall, and the resulting score is as exciting as it is terrifying.
Much like the film, Hall doesn’t use jumps to get his message across. Instead, he layers sounds to create a feeling of unease. You can hear the industrial isolation coming through the music. Brooding synths do much of the heavy lifting here. Creating broad brushstrokes that tell you immediately what is going on. Under this Hall uses delicate flourishes of the piano to really get at the emotion. ‘Benni’ for example. Starts with haunting tones before subtle piano cuts through it, like a torch in the fog, and tells us that this is a really heavy emotional moment in the film. It’s moments like this that really help to separate Hall’s work from his peers. Instead of going for the direct route, he takes his time and delivers something far more moving. His piano playing is sparse yet harrowing. Which is exactly what you want for a film like this. Near the end of the ‘Benni’ things get a bit psych, for want of a better word, with the sounds skittering and wavering. This is a nice touch. It keeps us on our toes and reminds up that nothing is taken for granted here. The album closes with ‘Móðir mín í kví kví (My Mother in The Sheep Pen)’, which is an old Icelandic folk song. ‘Móðir mín í kví kví (My Mother in The Sheep Pen)’ is about a mother who has a baby she cannot keep, so she leaves it in a rag in the cold to die. The baby becomes an ‘Útburður’, a type of ghost that comes back to annoy their mothers. In this story, the mother is in a sheep pen and bemoaning that she can’t go to a dance as she has no dress. The child whispers saying she could wear its rag to the dance. What makes this even more creepy, if that is even possible, is that it mirrors the plot about a lost child haunting people. It also ends the album on a bittersweet note. It’s the first time that vocals have been heard throughout the album. The way the vocals lilt and rise is incredible and the ethereal tones are one of the standout moments on the album. Everything about this song just works. The instrumentation is contemporary but doesn’t lose any of its traditional folk charms.
The mark of a great score is that it shouldn’t matter if you’ve seen the film or not to enjoy it and ‘I Remember You’ is a great score. The lack of jumps also means that it’s the idea to play while engaging in other activities, working, cooking, commuting, shopping, etc, etc as it offers you an escape from the mundanity of life while keeping you on your toes. Yes, parts of it don’t work as well without the visuals as others, but when it does work, oh boy, does it work! This is a score that you will definitely remember after hearing it a few times. (NR)
––– Address: https://coldspring.co.uk/
THE RITA - SHARK AT KNIFE POINTE (CD by Troniks)
SISSY SPACEK - HARM 2 (CD by Troniks/Helicopter)
Everyone who writes about noise knows that it’s impossible to follow Chris Sienko. If Sienko’s already wrote about a noise album, well… the most articulate description, most thoughtful and thorough evaluation has already been done. What a jerk, eh? And naturally, Troniks already recruited him to pen liner notes for their compilation CD of The Rita’s 7” singles. So I’ll tell you what I think of the album, but Chris’ essay sums it all up better than I can. Here’s my amateur-level take anyway.
The Rita’s Sam McKinley kick-started what we now call “harsh noise wall”, recording high-volume and apparently featureless noise that seems to be an unchanging block of loud sound. I’ve written previously (as has Chris, the bastard) about the relationship between The Rita’s sounds and 1970s sculptural minimalism, a compositional reduction that implies brute hyper-masculine force. On many of his full-length albums, McKinley’s minimalism takes the form of a monotonous din at uniform density/volume that continues for the duration of whatever medium he’s selected. That elongated roar seems as if it has no beginning and might go on indefinitely. With The Rita, structure is sublimated to a blistering volume that might expand to fill whatever space the sound is being played back into. That amorphous quality, integral to “harsh noise wall” (many artists following in McKinley’s footsteps have created lengthy multi-disc sets of continuous undynamic noise that lasts for several hours, essentially merging harsh noise with generative music), is what makes his 7” single output especially interesting. The format only allows around five minutes per side. The Rita’s solution to short-form works is to distil aspects of his music, boil some of it down to its essence… making it more manageable to casual listeners who might not find much reward in subjecting themselves to 70 minutes of unchanging blast.
"Knife at Shark Pointe" (a title that cleverly merges McKinley's frequent themes of Giallo movies, sharks and ballet) collects eight of his 7" singles onto one CD, arranged in chronological order. The first single appearing in this collection, “Milicent Patrick” from 2006, is the most normal-sounding of them all. It’s rather similar to The Rita’s longer noise works but cut into two small chunks. By 2009’s “Shark Knifing” and especially 2010’s “Predators” and afterwards, McKinley had a better idea: rather than use a 7” to present what might be a random excerpt of a longer album, he’d put one aspect of his sound under a microscope and just let us stare at it. "Shark Knifing" gives listeners a distorted crumble that resembles radio interference, or a tumbling breakdown that seems to have the cadence of human speech or bubbling water translated into electricity from within its blown-out sound. On later singles, audible evidence of source sounds taken from his subject matter remains legible, like on 2013’s “Dark Angled Eyebrow”. This material has a strange abstracted rhythm to it, with movie dialogue and some non-electronic source sound adding colour to the succinct, distorted blurt. On singles like these, The Rita is about texture and subtle details, not necessarily top-volume walls. “Shark at Knife Pointe” may be a collection of eight different 7” singles recorded over more than a decade, but it works very well as an album. It's also a fine introduction for new listeners who might want an overview of what The Rita is all about.
Sissy Spacek is John Wiese’s long-running grindcore/noisecore/whatever-the-band-wants-it-to-be group with Charlie Mumma (Unexamine), Jesse Jackson, Corydon Ronnau (Obstacle Corpse) and a rotating crew that frequently includes Phil Blankenship (The Cherry Point, LHD). “Harm 2” captures the five-piece live in 2011 with (as stated clearly in the sleeve) “no additional EQ or mastering”. It first came out as a one-sided LP in 2013 and now here it is on CD. “Harm 2” contains a complete live performance and yet the blinding blur lasts only around 20 minutes. The album consists of six ultra-crude bootleg-fidelity noise attacks laced with feedback and hoarse screaming. The furious drums are all but inaudible save for blown-out taps and cymbal crashes. But unlike Wiese’s intricate solo work or studio-built Sissy Spacek recordings, “Harm 2” goes for pure energy explosion over finely-honed details. The six songs run together into a cathartic flurry of limbs and audible sweat slathered in microphone overload. The frequencies may be squished into mud, but the rawness and full-throttle excitement are clear as can be. (HS)
––– Address: http://www.iheartnoise.com/
IAN DOUGLAS-MOORE & PÄR THÖRN - STORY DESTROYER (CD by Firework Edition Records)
There you go. I think I first properly encountered the name Pär Thörn last week, and this is the second time today I type his name (see also the Halster review elsewhere). I don't think I heard of US guitarist Ian Douglas-Moore before (and no doubt that will change next week). They have five pieces on their debut album, of which the first two were recorded live in Ausland, Berlin, already on November 21, 2014, and the other three composed between 2017 and 2019. Same as last week, I have not much idea of which instrument Thörn plays. Douglas-Moore's guitar is something I easily recognize here, wailing and droning away. My best guess is that Thörn plays some kind of modular synthesizer, electronics and is perhaps responsible for what seems to be field recordings. There is a bit of difference between the two live pieces and the three studio pieces. Live, it seems, they are more interested in some ongoing sounds, with some not-so-subtle high piercing tones and the guitar droning his part. The element of collage is however also part of this, as nothing stays too long in the same place, but in the studio pieces, this is worked out to finer detail. The guitar is now more abstract, and there is widespread use of samples and electronics. The field recordings are also at times clearer, just 'as is'. The somewhat brutal element of high piercing frequencies is not entirely gone, but now firmly embedded in whatever is also happening at the same time. It does not, however, mean that the duo softens their approach; far from it. This is, at times, as brutal as some music on the two live cuts. Some very interesting music indeed here and it made me curious to hear what the future will bring. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.fireworkeditionrecords.com/
CHRISTER BOTHÉN - AMBROSIA (3CD by Thanathosis Produktion)
A few days after I review the Halster 5CD set I am looking at the 3CD by Christian Bothén, born in 1941 in Gothenburg and player of the bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, donso n'goni and guimbri, the latter picked up in Mali in 1971-72. This set contains one disc with four works, all solo, one disc with a lengthy solo piece and one disc with a small ensemble, of which four people play the bass clarinet, and furthermore one on voice, grand piano, inside piano and double bass. After I played the first of the three, the one with the title piece, a solo one, I realized that unlike the 5CD set by Halster, this was not a box set to play all in one afternoon. This piece was too extreme for me and didn't let me consider doing straight away the next one. The extremeness of this, and that counts for all three discs lie not in the volume, though at times loud, as it is all recorded acoustically, but in the way, the bass clarinet is recorded and played. It is all very close by, in your face; we hear Bothén breathing in and out. The music is minimal, with short attacks at times and sustaining tones in other parts. Sometimes Bothén repeats certain phrases for a while, with minimal variations and sometimes it sounds a bit more improvised. The title piece is a very intense one, whereas a piece such as 'Nighttrain' is more introspective. Bothén has a fine balance between both ends. The ensemble piece, 'Zon', is about the explosion in Chernobyl and about 'Stalker', the film shot not far away from that location. The text is cut-ups "taken in part from the Swedish translation of 'A Prayer for Chernobyl by Svetlana Aleksijevitj and in part from the English subtexts to the film Stalker, along with a Swedish translation of a poem by W.G. Sebald" (I think the booklet means 'subtitles' instead of 'subtext'). This is quite an intense piece in which the grand piano has short Geiger counter-like attacks and the wind instruments imitate the sound of radiation. A very evocative piece of music, silent and intense. A pretty strong release, not easy to access, but some wonderful music. (FdW)
––– Address: http://thanatosis.bandcamp.com
FRED LONBERG-HOLM & LUIS LOPES & STALE LIAVIK SOLBERG – HULLABALOO (CD by Multikulti)
A trio work by Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Luis Lopes (guitar) and Ståle Liavik Solberg (drums & percussion). Chicago-based Lonberg-Holm needs no further introduction here. Solberg is part of the improv scene in Oslo where he studied improvisation at the Norwegian Music Academy. Together with Paal Nilssen-Love he is the organizer of the Blow Out festival in Oslo. Guitarist Lopes grew up with rock and punk and studied jazz at Hot Club Portugal School, supplemented by studies at Escola de Jazz do Barreiro in Lisbon. He developed into a musician and composer in the context of experimental and improvised music often concerning jazz. Lonberg-Holm and Solberg played together already in a quartet with Stine Janvin Motland and Frode Gjerstad, and in a trio with Jamie Branch. Also, Lonberg-Holm played earlier with Lopes and recorded a duo set in 2016 for Creative Sources (‘The Pineapple’). ‘Hullabaloo’ is their first collaboration as a trio. They turn out to be a dangerous combination producing some very brisant – smash in your face – improvisations. The opening track ‘Jubilee’ starts with very noisy and aggressive almost hurting, harsh sounds from the cello, before it becomes more ‘friendly’ with drums and guitar joining in. Up-tempo ‘Shindig’ has a dominant role for Solberg with great guitar movements in the middle section by Lopes. Several of the improvisations seem to depart from rock music aesthetic, whereas with improvisations like ‘Hoopla’ and ‘Winding’ they enter more abstract improvisation territories. Their interaction is very sharp and to the point, using lots of extended techniques. With a great many gestures and responses to their disposal, they play from a punk rock attitude with both feet in the dirt, using noise and distortion. All this leads up to tumultuous and anarchic atmospheres. Throughout they keep things intense and emotional. They don’t spoil their energy but channel it in over the top manoeuvres during their dangerous mission. For sure, they know what mission they are on. (DM)
––– Address: https://nowy.multikulti.com/pl/
TAKATSUKI TRIO QUARTETT – LIVE IN HESSEN (CD by Creative Sources Recordings)
Berlin-based Takatsuki Trio Quartett is a trio performing only with a fourth musician as a guest player. The trio started their activities in 2018 and consists of Rieko Okuda (piano, viola, voice), Antti Virtaranta (double bass) and Joshua Weitzel (guitar, shamisen). The shamisen is a traditional Japanese string instrument. Rieko Okuda is a classically trained pianist and composer from Japan. She first moved to the US to go deeper into jazz, and finally moved to Berlin when her interest moved towards free jazz and improvisation. Antti Virtaranta, is a bassist and composer from Finland. He also went to the US studying jazz and currently has Berlin as his base, engaging himself on many projects of improvised music. In their collaboration they seem to prefer improvisations of a long period as on their debut-recording they present two lengthy improvisations of respectively 28 and 33 minutes. The first one is a live recording from Kassel with Matthias Schubert on tenor sax. The second one a live recording from Wiesbaden with Dirk Marwedel on extended saxophone. They named themselves after the Japanese city Takatsuki that is situated between Kyoto and Osaka, functioning as an in-between these two large cities. ‘In-between’ is also where these musicians situate their project. Because of their length, the improvisations go through many phases. The first improvisation starts from quiet rumblings with equal participation of all four playing short motives and gestures. Gradually their movements grow in power and their interaction becomes more dynamic. After a long intro-phase with a drone-like bass in the background, it is Weitzel and especially Schubert who start with a more profiled solo line. Weitzel then switches to shamisen. And it is only half-way that the collective improvisation starts to sparkle. The second improvisation has more tension from the start built from the sparse piano in interaction with Marwedel, with again a rumbling atmosphere in the background by Weitzel and Virtaranta on Shamisen and double bass. What follows is a section where the improvisation continues in a quiet mode with Weitzel making his marks in a drone-like sound textures. Both improvisations had their strong moments. At other moments, however, communication and focus were too unpronounced for my tastes. (DM)
––– Address: https://creativesourcesrec.com/
YEDO GIBSON & PAWEL DOSKOCZ & ANDREW LISLE & VASCO FURTADO (CD by Spontaneous Live Series)
Spontaneous Music Series is a series of live recordings of improvised music, named after the blog of Andrew Nowak who is associated with the Multikulti label. Several recording in this series already saw the light like the one by Tonus, I spoke of earlier. Now we set spotlights on number four. This release covers two live sessions. One of Yedo Gibson (soprano sax) and Pawl Doskocz (electric guitar) with Andrew Lisle, and another one with Vasco Furtado. Both guests are drummers. Both sessions were recorded at the Dragon Social Club in Poznan. Gibson is a saxophonist from Brazil, based in Lisbon. Doskocz is a guitarist from Poznan. He did a duo work with Vasco Trilla that was released last year, containing a live recording from the Dragon Social Club. Earlier he was a member of diverse Polish experimental groups like Bachorze, Stretwa and Sumf. Lisle we know from his collaborations with Dirk Serries and Colin Webster. Gibson and Furtada know one other from their collaboration Multiverse, a trio with Portuguese bassist Gonçalo Almeida, released in 2018 on Multikulti. You have to be a fan of Gibson’s playing to enjoy this one. He plays a prominent role in the improvisations and plays with much enthusiasm and has a nice sound. However, the motives he chooses, the way he builds up things and interacts didn’t attract me how dynamic his performance may be. A matter of taste for sure. Doskocz prefers a distorted, noisy sound I would like to hear more of in other contexts. (DM)
––– Address: https://paweldoskocz.bandcamp.com/
KG AUGENSTERN - CIRCLES AND CYCLES (CD by Gruenrekorder)
DANIEL KÖTTER & HANNES SEIDL - STADT [LAND FLUSS] (CD by Gruenrekorder)
First, let me say something about the package. I know I usually don't, but in this case: great stuff. The first comes with a square 18x18 cm book with lots of photos and the other on a sturdy piece of carton and separate leaflet. Both packages detailing what we hear.
KG Augenstern is not the name of one person. It is a duo from Berlin, Christiane Prehn and Wolfgang Meyer and explores sites with what they call “Tentacles", "extendable fibreglass canes that allow them to touch and extract the sounds of the places they are travelling through". I'd say, watch a YouTube from them and things will become clearer. In the autumn of 2019, they went to abandoned places in Sicily and explored these. The eleven pieces are named after the places they explore and in the book, there are photos and descriptions of these places, which makes a nice chance for once. Normally there is something to guess in that respect but here's all laid out. It makes all the scratching all the more understandable, I'd say and had there not been this amount of information I would have that somebody was trying to rake a concrete floor. Which, of course, as a sound event can be nice too. There is not always a lot of difference between the pieces, the tentacles sound upon a furniture store, brick factory, paper mill, a forwarding company and so on, sound pretty similar and sometimes the difference is made from the point of recording; starting outside we hear birds, far away some voices but once inside it is pretty similar, but, then, such is the nature when you go for an all conceptual approach and as such, I found this most enjoyable, mainly because, I must admit, there was quite a bit to watch and read.
The other release is a radio play by composer Hannes Seidl and media artist Daniel Kötter and it's about 'the city', "What does, what could the city of the future sound like?" To that end, there are texts, music, interviews and an installation/music theatre piece. Some text is in German and some in English, but much just went by me (me and texts; that's common to happen). The text is also available in an English translation in the booklet. The music is by Sebastian Berweck, Martin Lorenz, and Andrea Neumann, while Christina Kubisch provided electromagnetic sounds. If I'm honest (and I should be) I quite enjoyed this what it is probably not; or, perhaps, not intended as such, and that is a piece of music. The text I took for granted and the music is quite nice in a sort of electro-acoustic mix of three people improvising their material. With the field recordings used, sounds from the city being re-shaped, children playing or harbour sounds, there is indeed that city-like feeling. Of course, there are many more layers to this piece, which sort of eluded me. I'm sure one day I will get it. For now, I thought this was quite a lovely radiophonic work. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.gruenrekorder.de/
E.M.I.R.S. - BLANKETS & PILLARS (CDR, private)
Mister Belch, also known as Quinten Dierick, better known, maybe as E.M.I.R.S. goes against everything that is 'common', and releases another CDR; not a cassette, not a piece of vinyl. He released quite a few so far, and maybe we should see these as diaries of what he does, and as such his interest moves about. The five pieces are linked together in some way, that they deal with the space E.M.I.R.S. uses, sharing it with bands who use it as a rehearsal space, close by a forest, and so we have here field recordings and jam sessions. The latter, of course, all electronic, on a bunch of Korg machines (Monologue, Prologue and Electribe) and recordings were on cassette. Cutting and editing is also a prominent feature on these recordings. 'Tune 2' is such a piece, using various recordings from Walkman machines in the bunker that is his space, and some reverbs of the piece can be found in there. The first part of the title piece, which is effectively field recordings of bands rehearsing (ska, grunge, funk rock and jazz), but none of that is easily recognized as E.M.I.R.S. use a lot of tape manipulation, dragging out his reel-to-reel machines for some altering of direction, speed and cuts. 'Mesh 3' is a solo synth piece, interacting with the room it is played in, picking its own sound up via the microphone. For E.M.I.R.S. quite an introspective piece. The last two pieces are the longest and jam sessions with synthesizers, recorded on cassettes, which are then used as backing tapes for new improvisations. I enjoyed both of these, as they showed us a bit different styled E.M.I.R.S., doing something unusual and at times quite bold, even when in both of these lengthy exercises, things spin out of control and leap a bit too much into silliness. There are has been a lot of editing, sayeth E.M.I.R.S., but these two could have been a bit tighter, I think, but so be it. It is all part of an ongoing process, and as such, this is another remarkable step. Upward and onward. (FdW)
––– Address: https://belchsingersonggrinder.bandcamp.com/
PEACE LOVE JOY (CDR compilation by Zaftig Research)
Last week we had Christmas release, this is the one for this week and next week also one. Maybe up until Christmas? Zaftig Research has some tradition of doing Christmas releases, although it's been a while since I got one (see also Vital Weekly 505, 560, 607 and 660), but here's one, in "a festive, holiday card hand-inscribed" to me personally. Lots of names I haven't heard, or perhaps don't always remember, such as Goose, Corvx De Timor, Praying For Oblivion, Foot And Mouth Disease, Stolen Light, This Is What I Hear When You Talk, Narisjkeyt, Orange, Miguel A. Garcia & Garazi Gorostiaga, Larmschutz, Humanfobia, Conure, Nava Spatiala and C/A/T. The latter opens up here with a sample-heavy take on a Christmas song with people talking about Covi-19; no doubt everybody will write their yearly reports saying 'how strange this year was' and hopefully somebody will note how quickly the whole 'stay healthy, stay strong' ending to a message wore off (I don't get why anyone would still use it, but I'm a grumpy old bastard). The music veers between ambient, noise, improvisation, and surprising few really Christmas inspired songs; or at least not that I could notice as such. A fine introduction to a bunch of new names and some old friends who are always at this game. That's what we like about compilations, all year round, but a Christmas card looks good on the mantelpiece. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.zaftigresearch.com/
RICH TEENAGER - SARDANAPALUS (cassette by 729 Industries)
"Rich Teenager is Rich Teenager", says the cover, which suggests that either the man is really called Rich Teenager, as in short for Richard Teenager, or just confirms that he is a rich teenager doing music. On the cover, we read "Rich Teenager's field recording methodology is well known, and these recordings do not disappoint. From the ball pit of a tech startup in California to a West London hedge fund via a St. Petersburg troll farm, this is the essential ethnomusicological primer for understanding wealth in a truly international context", but I add that this is his first release, so to whom is his methodology well-known? I assume pinches of salt are needed when I read this "Optimized for stereo playback on the Gulfstream G650 and Dassault Falcon 7X, this is the ASMR recording that our most valued investors have been demanding. So relax and enjoy that prickling sensation, it's the frisson that comes with being a high-net-worth individual." Unless of course, well, he is a Rich Teenager. The cassette opens with a short synthesizer ditty, followed by the 18-minute-long title piece, which, sure, can be some form of ASMR music. You could also say this is ambient music; it is very hissy, slow-moving, the subtle addition of a synth here and there. On the other side, there are four pieces, adding further confusion and diversity to the tape. 'E.E.O' is a tape-cut-up along the lines of the first Halfer Trio record, which sort of continues in the next pieces, to which rudimentary drum machine is added and a bit of synth. 'Tushy&' is an obscure cut-up collage of hiss, Dictaphone abuse and sound effects and it closes with 'This Eminence Of Guilt', which is a drum machine, lots of delay and some voices. So, in conclusion, we have here five quite different pieces of music, some pleasantly confusing liner notes and a big question mark over my clouded head. I guess that's a fine way to end a day of listening and thinking about music; none the wiser. (FdW)
––– Address: https://richteenager.bandcamp.com/releases
KAL SPELLETICH - THE BLESSING OF THE ZHENGKE ZGA37RG (cassette by Eh?)
PAY DIRT - ERROR THEFT DISCO (cassette by Blue Screen)
This is my introduction to the work of Kal Spelletich. I may have heard his previous band, Seemen, in the cassette era, but I forgot what that was about. The information here says it an "interactive machine art performance collective". He also worked with Survival Research Laboratories, and he works with "exploring the interface of humans and robots". For the twelve pieces on this curiously titled cassette, he says that "all of the sounds heard on this recording are from custom-made machine/robot instruments. None of the sounds on this recording come from store bought instruments, samples, albums nor field recordings. The sounds come from sound machines I made. Let’s just call me a purist." And, also, that "These are compositions not so much songs. They are arranged sounds." That's good to know. Without the images, it is not easy to say what Spelletich does. One would all too easily go back to what one already knows and that results into trying to describe using such words as 'synthesizers', 'musique concrète', 'drones' and 'electronics', which is all the sort of things that come to mind when hearing this music. Surely, there are mechanical sounds in the music, of 'something' banging against 'something'; object upon an object, perhaps, sometimes arriving in shortcut loops or with the use of electronics (or not?) stretched and sustaining a bit. Also, 'something' with strings is a strong contender for some sounds in here. Spelletich, whatever it is he does, brings life out of his material and in his pieces, he shows quite a bit of variation. From the rattles in 'My Own Fibonacci System' to the vacuum cleaner sounds of '8 Tracks of Machine Tool Motors' (well, or different machine tools), from massive blocks of sound to more introspective object abuse. It is quite industrial music, pretty much all of this, but without going towards a more regular noise album, and that's great news.
Noise music is on the cassette by Pay Dirt, a duo of Bryan Day and Victoria Shen. The latter is from San Francisco and works with analogue modular synthesizers, amplified objects and invented instruments and Day is the man behind Eh? Records and well-known for his instrument building out of junk material. Their noise is one of distortion, of chaos and destruction but it is not the sort of noise that stays on end in the same place. Things scratch and tick, burst and crack all the time, and I was reminded me of a nervous shaking Merzbow with a lot of objects, say towards the end of the '80s. I don't think I heard much other work by Victoria Shen, but I did from Day and this is certainly something different for him. At least, I don't recall much noise from him and as such, this is a fine break from the more carefully planned music I know him for. It's four tracks, forty minutes in total and quite a beast. What can I say? Play it as loud as you can. (FdW)
––– Address: https://publiceyesore.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://bluescreen1.bandcamp.com/
A FAIL ASSOCIATION - EAST V (cassette by Absurd Exposition)
Two short tracks, Zero Fucks 04:57, Rule No. 4 04:55 on cassette by A Fail Association AKA Gregory Babbitt. Here my knowledge runs out. But these are excellent tracks! And now I should explain what I mean by "Excellent". History. The history of noise like all histories is both simple and complex. The influences which direct histories are likewise. Noise, as in harsh noise and the ultimate harsh noise wall is traced via Power Electronics to Industrial. Here it gets complex, with such things as Metal Machine Music and the Futurists. However, the links to Dada in noise's origins are clear. Such an Art is 'Modern' in that it holds the notion of progress, newness and originality as hallmarks of excellence. However, even back when GPO and the like made Dada / Fluxus 'popular' these movements were old and static. The tropes of Bennett in 'exploiting' conventional taboos, sex, fascism, serial killings struck chords as well as creating upset. Though the escape from direct confrontation was avoided by recourse to irony, Bennett was familiar with the Chapmans. Intellectualism in both popular and high art was dumped for irony and mere sensation. Like the 'tiredness' which in ancient Rome prompted ever more need for sensation in a collapsing civilization. Check out the difference between Corinthian and Doric Architecture. After any renaissance, like that of the 1960s, comes decadence, however, there was another more serious route historically in the 'Baroque'. Whilst Baroque art was often over decorative to the point of kitsch the music of Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Monteverdi, Scarlatti, Purcell, Telemann... was not, was an original great work. So when in the late 60s / 70s painting achieved its 'ultimate' in the work of Reinhardt and Ryman, serious painters had a problem, many turned to minimal objects, Judd et al. but others, notably Frank Stella, persisted in using paint but these paintings were anything but minimal, they were 'Baroque' works, seriously engaging in the medium. So too in noise the 'ultimate' of HNW is an end, and once again irony and sensation offer exit routes, 'shit folk' etc. Though for me at least this can never be 'excellent' as it delights in a certain carelessness, 'who gives a fuck' attitude. East V is excellent because it takes the mechanisms of noise to not push any envelope but in what must be 'Baroque Noise' creates a seriously listenable, in its own right, sound work and so does much the same as what occurred in 17th C music. You can hear this yourself at the address below. And BTW if you are feeling this is all a sign of social collapse, it might well be, as occurred at the end of the Roman Empire, into barbarism. It should have occurred at the end of the Baroque, and almost did in Romanticism and the Terror. Civilization (for bad or good) didn't collapse because of the Industrial Revolution which brought the slave trade, world wars and a universalizing of culture. That this now is in crisis is obvious, that it might end in barbarism, to the likes of some, might not occur due to a new revolution, from what? From AI. And what has East V to do with this, like all great art (see Jacques Attali) it is a portent. (jliat)
––– Address: https://absurdexposition.bandcamp.com/
Vital - The Complete Collection 1987-1995
Before Vital Weekly there was Vital, a Xeroxed fanzine covering experimental, electronic andelectro-acoustic music; interviews, reviews, in-depth discussion articles, background. All 44 issues in one hardcover book; 580 pages. More information: http://kormplastics.nl/vtcc.html