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JAAP BLONK & LOU MALLOZZI &KEN VANDERMARK - IMPROVISERS (CD by Kontrans) *
HOWARD STELZER - INVARIABLY FALLING FORWARD, INTO THE THICKETS OF CLOSURE (3CD by No Rent) *
COUNTER)INDUCTION - AGAINST METHOD (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
SIMON WHETHAM - FORCED TO REPEAT MYSELF (CD by Misanthropic Agenda) *
ớt/SIMON WHETHAM (cassette by Alcôve)
ZIV TAUBENFELD’S FULL SUN (CD by Multikulti Records) *
HIDDEN ORCHESTRA – CREAKS (CD by Minority Records) *
FRANÇOIS LANA TRIO – CATHÉDRALE (CD by Leo Records) *
BARAKA[H] - ILLUNINESCENCE (SONGLINES AND YEARINGS) (mini CD by Taalem) *
ANTICHILDLEAGUE - ENTRENCHED EXTREME (CD by Obsessive Fundamental Realism, Phosgen Records) *
7x7 VOL. 1 (double 7" by Spleen Coffin)
C_G (cassette by Edelfaust Recordings) *
A ∩ D - TWO LIVES (cassette, private) *
GREY PARK - PALM OF SADDAM (cassette, private) *
CLAUS POULSEN & STUART CHALMERS - BLUE THIRTY-SIX (cassette by Blue Tapes) *
ATRX - PHASE TWO (cassette by Nausea.) *
JAAP BLONK & LOU MALLOZZI &KEN VANDERMARK - IMPROVISERS (CD by Kontrans)
As I am listening to this new work, the word 'improvisation' isn’t far away from my mind, as all three of them have quite a history in that field of music. Of these three, Lou Mallozzi is the somewhat unknown party here (but I reviewed a previous work with him in Vital Weekly 839), but what he plays is quite interestingly turntables, CDs, mixer, microphones and organ pipes. Blonk obviously occupies the 'voice and electronics' and Ken Vandermark on 'clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone and barritone [sic] saxophone'. This is a live recording from little over a year ago, in Chicago and there is some excellent music to heard here. You never know to what extent there have been edits but somehow I think what we hear is what was played (which, again, made think about the whole credits thing, but I leave that out of this) and there is some great intense music here. The parts by Blonk and Mallozzi are quite abstract, especially when Blonk's treats his voice with electronics, but in the way he uses his throat (and whatever else is needed to do what he does), he can imitate electronic sounds pretty well. Vandermark knows how to adjust this electronic mayhem as well as he knows how to divert from what is going. In those instances, his wind instruments go all out in the world of free jazz, and it makes a wonderfully strange addition to the other two. Mallozzi has quite a few different tricks under his belt that offer a wide variety of possibilities, sometimes adding voices to the mix to which Blonk subsequently responds, reacts and goes along with. The music is pretty wild most of the time, quite the chaotic energy it must have been that night in November 2019. That level of energy translates well in this recording, jumping around from one top to the next, taking some quieter turns when necessary and all of that make this a remarkable release. (FdW)
––– Address: https://jaapblonkkontrans.bandcamp.com/
HOWARD STELZER - INVARIABLY FALLING FORWARD, INTO THE THICKETS OF CLOSURE (3CD by No Rent)
Howard Stelzer is one of the most remarkable musicians working today. His latest album, ‘Invariably Falling Forward, Into the Thickets of Closure’, one of his strongest in recent years. One of the things that set it apart from his other work is its scope. Lasting a whopping two-and-a-half-hours ‘Invariably Falling Forward, Into the Thickets of Closure’ is a long listen, but it can be rewarding in places.
The album starts with ‘Teal’. This is a massive motorik banger. The pace is frenetic, Peter Hope’s vocals are punchy, the bassline is one of the best I’ve heard all year and it has an incredible amount of energy to it. It reminds me of when I feel restless but doesn’t know what to do, so I start doing something randomly just to get moving. When it ends you expect more of the same, but ‘Blue’ is a 13-minute glacial soundscape. Everything sounds stark. Antony Milton’s vocals are slightly indecipherable but moving. ‘Cyan’ is another ethereal soundscape. ‘Red’ is the most abstract song on the album yet. It’s hard to get a handle on what is going on. Bubbling noises are interspersed with tweaked out vocals and the occasional drumbeat. What these opening tracks tell us is to expect the unexpected. Just because the album goes one way, it doesn’t mean it will continue on that path. It’s slightly confusing and, in all fairness, I would have enjoyed another couple motorik sounding tracks that segued into more drone-based soundscapes.
At just shy of two-and-a-half-hours ‘Invariably Falling Forward, Into the Thickets of Closure’ is a long listen, but an enjoyable listen. Stelzer has really crafted some exquisite drones throughout. His use of field recordings really helps to ground what you are hearing in the real world. However, despite how enjoyable the album is, overall though parts could be trimmed or streamlined. The exception to this is the final track ‘Maroon’. At 46-minutes it is the longest track on the album and possibly its most complete. Here Stelzer takes his time to set the scene. Once he established himself, and the rules of this piece, he gradually starts to change the tone. Tinkling bells replace the noise of livestock, while airy synths billow underneath giving a feeling of movement. This flux makes the bells change from, well, bells into more of a windchime. The opening conjures up images of a tranquil farmstead. The animals' bleat while the feed. A wind starts to whip up, the animals vanish and the chimes outside the farmhouse’s backdoor start to tinkle more aggressively. As the wind picks up, as do the synths askew cycles. A third of the way in things are more menacing. The winds have died down, the bells have ceased. and we are left with a deep drone. It suddenly dawns on you that you have no idea how this happened. The last time you realised a change has happened was when the bells were gently peeling away. Now everything feels much more momentous. As the intensity builds you realise there is still 25-minutes left. Where can this possibly go? What is left to come? Your heart rate starts to increase. It’s getting serious now! From this point on ‘Maroon’ is reminiscent of Lou Reed’s ‘Metal Machine Music’. Stelzer is crafting these exquisite melodies, and rhythms, that have an experimental, or noisy, quality. Rather than bombarding us with a wall of noise that has some drones rumbling about underneath.
‘Invariably Falling Forward, Into the Thickets of Closure’ is a captivating album that never actually reveals what Stelzer is thinking about but gives some subtle hints. It’s an enjoyable album, but due to its length, it sometimes loses a sense of what its about for elongating a single theme. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Too many albums rush to get to the point, so it’s nice to see one that doesn’t. However, sometimes it can be at the detriment of the song. ‘Indigo’ takes a bit too long to get to the crux of the song. Saying that the final five minutes are some of the best on the album. What ‘Invariably Falling Forward, Into the Thickets of Closure’ does really well is offer you a pause on modernity. When you connect with the songs, they become all-consuming, sadly these moments aren’t as long-lasting as we desire. (NR)
––– Address: https://norentrecords.bandcamp.com/
COUNTER)INDUCTION - AGAINST METHOD (CD by New Focus Recordings)
There are times when after playing an album, repeatedly, you don’t actually know what to write about it. When listening to the latest counter)induction album ‘Against Method’ this is exactly what happened. My head was filled with a vibrant piece of contemporary chamber music, but the ultimate takeaway was that this is a great album, filled with intoxicating melodies, clever motifs, and the kind of playing that leaves your jaw agar.
From the opening moments of ‘The Hunt by Night’, you get the impression that this will be a jocular affair. And this is true. ‘The Hunt by Night’ is a delirious piece of music. It bounces about with a smile on its face. The interplay between the piano and clarinet is joyous. Then a lull hits and there is a melancholic underpinning and things become more serious. As this is a song about hunting at night a level of seriousness was always going to come into play, but when BAM the hunt is on again and the playing is fast and merry. ‘Before’ slows things down a bit. The merry bounce is still there but there is a brooding intensity just bubbling below the surface creating something incredibly tactile. The standout track on the album is ‘Scherzo’. Written by Argentine composer Diego Tedesco, ‘Scherzo’ features clarinet, guitar, violin, viola, and cello and was written for the ensemble. It allows interrelationships between the instruments and players. These interactions show us how unique and delightful chamber music can still be.
At times it is the players who are the centre of the album and now what they are actually playing. Benjamin Fingland’s clarinet is a sheer delight. Caleb van der Swaagh’s cello is the backbone of the compositions when he appears. Daniel Lippel’s guitar is understated but devastating. If you removed Jeffrey Irving’s vibraphone from ‘Ein Kleines Volkslied’ it wouldn’t have the power, or enjoyment, that it does. Renate Rohlfing’s piano is airy but strong like a great dancer. Randall Zigler’s bass is majestic. Miranda Cuckson’s violin is, pretty much, everything I could have hoped for as is Jessica Meyer’s viola.
After 20-years counter)induction are still capable of playing incredible delicate but powerful music. As ‘Against Method’ shows. It also shows an ensemble that is at the top of their game and has musical bravery that is to be commended. So, it turns out I did have plenty to say about this after all. Much like the quality of this album. Was it ever in doubt? (NR)
––– Address: https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/
SIMON WHETHAM - FORCED TO REPEAT MYSELF (CD by Misanthropic Agenda)
ớt/SIMON WHETHAM (cassette by Alcôve)
Somehow I thought Misanthropic Agenda was a label devoted, by and large at least, to harsh noise music, and somehow I would think that Simon Whetham is not a harsh noise artist. The title refers to the notion that if musicians, such as Whetham, perform a concert, they have a limited set of means to produce sounds and when some combination of sound work, it is common to repeat that on the next night. The eight pieces on this CD were recorded during a 2018 tour and Whetham uses "analogous source material and means of execution" and each night he tried to adjust the music according to the venue, or as the press text calls this "Whetham paid particular attention to the contour and character of each venue when deciding how to best put the pieces together, offering a customization that subverts pure déjà vu for a sharp observance of the unfamiliar". There is no list of equipment or sound sources that were used here, but I assume Whetham uses a plethora of small devices, half-broken machinery and taped field recordings and with that, he creates some wonderful sound collages. Yes, I believe that to some smaller or bigger extent the size of the space is taken in account here, in such a way that some of this is taped using a microphone, and we hear some sizes of the space which is quite large at times, but at the same time, Whetham keeps his sounds small as well; the rattling of small metallic objects upon surfaces, the crackling of dying contact microphone or a broken cable. The main issue here is, does Whetham repeat himself? That is, even upon a few repeat listening sessions hard to say. What is repetition then anyway? Is it, for instance, the same crackling sound? Or perhaps, the context in which such a crackle appears? I think with the latter, you can compare it to the use of a guitar. It is the same thing, but it sounds different in each song. As such, the experimental sounds by Whetham have a lot more difference to offer than your average guitarist in a band, so maybe comparing that is not right. These forty-five minutes are a delight to hear, there are some very carefully played sounds covered in here, very object, hands-on, I say and each of the pieces is a refined composition of musique concrète with some of the lowest means. It made me curious as to how this was all made.
The other new release is a split cassette by Whetham and ớt. I start with the Whetham side, mainly because I just heard his CD. His 'Double Deck' is an interesting piece and with such a title I was reminded of my 'double-deck', in the 80s, used to copy cassettes from my label. In all my romantic notion about such things, I envisaged that Whetham has a double cassette deck somewhere and his machine is somewhat in decay (maybe in his possession for such a long period?) and he works with the resulting faulty mechanisms. He taped a bunch of these and then put them together in a composition. It is like listening to slow decay, full of death rattles and hissing, the final breath of a dying machine. But, that is my romantic notion, inspired by the title. Is there any week in which I don’t write: I might be wrong, of course?
I have no idea who or what ớt is. This is the first release and the cover has no names, dates, locations or instruments. The piece is called Solanaceae and judging by the music, I would think that much of this is made with the use of laptop and software used to process sound. ớt does that to such an extent that we no longer recognize any of the original sounds, so if this birds, water, machines or children playing is now entirely lost within this almost nineteen-minute piece. The result is a sort of warm glitchy mass of sound, with some mild distortion, reminding me of the ambient phase Oval went through. It is ambient but with that nice mildly odd edge to keep the listener fully aware and present. It is quite good and made me curious to hear other work by this, for now, obscure outfit. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.misanthropicagenda.com
––– Address: https://labelalcove.bandcamp.com/album/alc-ve-04
ZIV TAUBENFELD’S FULL SUN (CD by Multikulti Records)
Taubenfeld started his studies in Israel and finished them in the Netherlands. He worked with Dutch giants like Han Bennink, Ab Baars and Guus Janssen, and in the meantime also with many other musicians from younger generations. As a former member of Michael Moore Pool, Trio Bones, Kuhn Fu, Plots and XPE are some of the collaborations he is engaged in. Full Sun is one of his latest projects that started in January 2019. So this session, recorded on 9th January 2019 at the Bimhuis, Amsterdam, documents their first step. Since then Full Sun often performs in a very flexible line up. Most often as a quartet. Like on the excellent and exciting concert last December at POM in Eindhoven with Omer Ovreen on double bass. On their debut recording, they are seven: Michael Moore (clarinet, alto saxophone), Joost Buis (trombone), Luis Vicente (trumpet), Ziv Taubenfeld (bass clarinet, percussion), Shay Hazan (double bass), Nicolas Chientaroli (piano, objects) and Onno Govaert (drums, percussion). All of them more or less Amsterdam-based if I’m not mistaken. All material is written by Taubenfeld who takes inspiration from the old Natufian culture from the Middle East and also makes knots to jazz giants like John Tchicia, Jemeel Moondoc and Sunny Murray. For his compositions Taubenfeld makes use of graphic scores, a practise we know from John Zorn and Butch Morris. His compositions and approach have its own identity. Like in the opening track ‘Orange Shoes’, melodic lines are interrupted with breaks, non-rhythmic sequences of short rally’s, strange movements and patterns for example by the fantastic pianist. This counts for all tracks, ‘Like Forest Weather A’ that has Chientaroli playing the inside of the piano and Taubenfeld using the resonating sounds of the gong. Taubenfeld has its own way of creating structures and dynamics. Despite all seeming discontinuity and unruliness, there is an underlying continuity and logic. Listening to this recording several times, I started to grasp and appreciate the characteristics of their music. Demanding but very rewarding and makes me curious about more of Taubenfeld’s musical activity. (DM)
––– Address: https://multikultiproject.bandcamp.com/
HIDDEN ORCHESTRA – CREAKS (CD by Minority Records)
Hidden Orchestra is a project started in 2010 by Joe Acheson from Edinburgh. From what I read he started it as a jazz-oriented project. But soon it developed into a very eclectic undertaking what also counts for this most recent record. No wonder, as Acheson is a classically-trained composer with experience in a wide range of musical styles and very open-minded. Amanita Desing, a Prague-based indie games company asked Acheson to create the soundtrack for their new puzzle adventure Creaks. No idea with what specific limitations Acheson had to deal with in creating a piece of music for this purpose. But it led to him to work out a new possibility. “By creating numerous variations for every part played by every instrument, and choosing between them using randomised conditional logic, the game’s music is self-generating and infinite, with constantly varying arrangements. While each piece is clearly recognisable, it will never sound exactly the same twice.” Going one step further Acheson also created the Creaksbox, an app that supplies you an ever-changing soundtrack independent from the video game. Of course on the cd one fixated version is offered. On this version, most instruments are played by Acheson himself: piano, zithers, modular synth, drums, double bass, bass guitar, glocken-chimes, harmonium, pistalka, mey, kantele, egg-slicer harp, percussion, cymbals, organ, HAPI drum, bowed glockenspiel, hammered dulcimer, log drum, kalimba, field recordings. He is assisted in several tracks by Jack McNeill (clarinet, bass clarinet), Rebecca Knight (cello), Jamie Graham (drums), Tim Lane (drums, percussion), Poppy Ackroyd (violin), Yvo Ackroyd Acheson (shakers), Ali Tocher (bells, zither-box percussion), Su-a Lee (cello), Tomáš Dvořák (clarinet) and Phil Cardwell (trumpet). Everything is written, arranged, programmed, recorded, mixed and produced by Joe Acheson who created a richly instrumented and colourful work of accessible instrumental music, reflecting many diverse influences. Created as functional music for a videogame it has enough qualities to be enjoyed on its own. What impressed me most is the particular sound of this recording. Acheson uses a wide range of acoustical instruments on the one hand and electronics on the other. And surely has his own vision on how to combine both. He creates richly textured and multi-layered patterns, built around simple and accessible melodies. The result is very much the result of Acheson mixing abilities, demonstrating he has a strong vision of the sound world he wanted to create. Released on the Czech Minority Records. (DM)
––– Address: https://www.minorityrecords.com
FRANÇOIS LANA TRIO – CATHÉDRALE (CD by Leo Records)
What I know from the recent Swiss jazz and improv scene depends mostly on the catalogues of Veto Records of Christoph Erb and Wide Ear Records. But there is more of course. Like this new trio that released their debut ‘Cathédrale’ on the legendary Leo Records label. The Francois Lana Trio is a trio in a classic line up of François Lana on piano, Fabien Iannone on bass and Phelan Burgoyne drums. For a debut recording, it is remarkably accomplished and full-grown. I suppose they are already some time together. Lana studied in his homeland France and subsequently in Switzerland and Belgium. After finishing his studies in 2016 he started performing, mainly in Switzerland and France. Fabienne Iannone is a Swiss bass player and also synths and drums. He worked with Ben Street. His musical interests are diverse and also include ancient ritual music to early electronic music. Phelan Burgoyne studied in his homeland UK and Switzerland. He plays drums, guitar and percussion and is a composer. He performed on record by Martin Speake with a trio and duo renditions of Bela Bartok compositions. All compositions on ‘Cathédrale’ are by Lana, except the opening and the closing track that are group improvisations. Each track is inspired by a jazz giant: Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols, Andrew Hill. a.o. I can’t really point out these influences, as my knowledge of the jazz tradition is too limited. But I can hear their music is very much indebted to the jazz tradition, and that they integrate influences and idioms in crystal clear inventive constructions. Overall their music is free and swinging at the same time. Very playful and with catchy melodic elements, they remain more close to American idioms then to European traditions of improvising. On a few places like in ‘Nocturne', Lana adds subtle sounds of electronic origin that stay in the background but offer an extra dimension. The trio closes the album with the title piece ‘Cathédrale’ a slowly evolving percussive improvisation of a dark nature. And makes clear these musicians are very multi-sided. A very inspiring release. (DM)
––– Address: http://www.leorecords.com/
BARAKA[H] - ILLUNINESCENCE (SONGLINES AND YEARINGS) (mini CD by Taalem)
The Taalem label specializes in 3"CDR releases, and I am sure I reviewed a bunch of these 130+ releases. I must have compared the label with Drone Records, who released between 1993 and 2010 100 7" records. Taalem skipped catalogue number 'alm 100' and reserved that for a special project, this release by Baraka[h], who we know as the man behind Drone Records (still an active force with LP compilations and Drone Records, a fine mail-order outlet) and one half of Troum, formerly one-third of Maeror Tri. Oddly enough he never had a solo release. I have no idea why that is. This is a pro-pressed mini-CD with a transparent outer ring, so a 5-inch disc (you don't see a lot of these any more) has four pieces of music, about twenty minutes long. The cover says Baraka[h] worked on these songs from 2007 to 2019, so he's quite the perfectionist (or lazy? Probably not!), and in these solo CD, he expands further on the music he produces with Troum. I am not sure if I think that is a pity or not. It would have been fun to see him play acoustic guitar or play heavy dub music, something out of the ordinary for him, but on the other hand, these are four great pieces of drone-based music, in which the guitar plays a bit role. Guitar and electronics, I should think and there is some vast space that is played out here. Reverb is used a lot on these pieces, but Baraka[h] keeps it all within reason. He strums the guitar, gentle and firm, chords spacing about. Maybe there is a clarity here that sets it a bit aside of the Troum mothership, which is generally multi-layered and maxi-coloured, whereas Baraka[h] keeps it minimal. The sound is full at times, but the focus is on a single instrument. This is a lovely release and let's hope Baraka[h] will do a few more and not with intervals of thirteen years. (FdW)
––– Address: https://taalem.bandcamp.com/
ANTICHILDLEAGUE - ENTRENCHED EXTREME (CD by Obsessive Fundamental Realism, Phosgen Records)
11 tracks by AcL, AKA Gaya Donadio, who has collaborated with Whitehouse, Death In June, 6 Comm, The New Blockaders, Merzbow, Con-Dom, The Rita, appeared on the Susan Lawly curated compilation 'Extreme Music From Women'. 'Purge Humanity' has a constant rhythmic banging sound of three beats which at 2'33 disappears as the oscillator gargles and splutters which began with the track become more intense. These splutter on until the end @ 5' 12”. 'Death Loves You More Than God' amidst shards of metallic clangs and humming buzz has a beat of kinds. There is a fair bit of reverb and general cacophony, bass pulses... contrasting the metallic crashes which fade @ 5' 50”. 'The kiss' a shorter track @ 3:52 again harsh noise rumble and sequels which though sounding horse like might be human. Again there is a pulse, and 2' 04” definite but extremely distorted vocals. I guess much else of the scream like sounds could be processed vocals against the electro distortion. 'Paranoid' is even shorter @3'20” definite synth pulse – beat and vocal grunt joining in the beat, a beat which dominates this track. 'God never loved you' starts with a couple of noise glitches and the proceeds with 1' 38 walls of static rumble. No beat no reverb no processed vocal. 'Abuse' has static, high pitched oscillator bursts and some obviously processed vocals, again the noise is at times structured into a loose pulse but by 1' 20” it becomes more wall like with pulses and vocals again distorted and echoed. Totally indiscernible. 'Negative Control' Begins with a deep bass distorted pulse, and some vocal groans. 2'10” sees a short break then the pulse begins again with more vocals, maybe two sources now one deeper. The beat totally dominates this track, the most musical so far to the extent I'm reminded of the opening of 21stC schizoid man. 'Brace' begins with what could be some distorted fire alarm, and again distorted vocal noises, very reminiscent of the Orcs in LoTR, I happen to be re-watching, though probably not be thanked for that comparison. 'Entrenched Extreme' 4' 26” - a continuous wall of course harsh static and rumble. No vocals, no pulse... 'Born Again 3319' Begins with what must be feedback howl, in swathes with reverb, and continues likewise until 3' 43”. 'Transcendental' a fairly static wall of fluctuating white noise with changing elements and feedback variations submerged in the mix from @ 50”... Donadio is concerned with overpopulation and Religion, specifically Christianity and abuse. The CD comes with a page from the bible and a leaflet, handout from a Roger Harper apologising for his other leaflets/reports which it seems were about Christianity, he claims to be a Christian and psychic phenomena from 2007/8. By the track titles, I guess Donadio isn't particularly approving of religion? And the Discogs page for this lists the genre as Power Electronics. PE originally took taboo subjects as themes, typically serial killing related to sex and child abuse about together with Nazism and the associated atrocities. I'm not sure how these tracks and sentiments tie in with these but we are almost 40 years on from its origins. Certainly, there are “static, screeching waves of feedback, analogue synthesizers making sub-bass pulses or high frequency squealing sounds “ but no “hateful and offensive lyrics... “ And tracks which were fairly harsh walls, and pure feedback. The real problem is that whilst back in the 80s extreme right-wing misogyny was taboo and so exploited by Bennett & Co to shock, we have just had four years of a world leader who was just that, with the support of 70 million voters. As for other features of PE, mass exterminations, well 1.6 million so far and in only 10 or so months. Religion, we have two popes, environmentalism, Greta Thunberg gets 22.5 million hits on google. Mind you Bohemian Rhapsody has over a billion views on youtube, which has absolutely nothing to do with any of this. In short, we are in a very different world to 1980, and maybe genres might or should reflect this? And maybe a Power Electronics which is concerned with environmentalism, sexual abuse and hypocrisy in religion do. And what is even more strange is that a genre today which picked up on PE's original themes could almost certainly not occur. (jliat)
––– Address: http://obsessivefundamentalrealism.blogspot.com/
7x7 VOL. 1 (double 7" by Spleen Coffin)
As I am looking at this old yet "reclaimed" audio reel box, screen printed and with "repurposed vintage wallpaper covers", I was thinking of RRRecords, who had a long time similar box sets of records, such those by Eric Lunde and the 'Testament' box set. The latter can be compared to this one as this too is a compilation; four projects/musicians on four sides, a 7inch sized square booklet with, for me, at least two new names and two well-known ones. Each has a visual contribution and there is information on the recordings. The two new ones are on the first record, and it starts with Femme, a "French synth duo, featuring members of Opera Mort and France Sauvage", and their 'Baccara 10' is made with "10 interlaced roulette groove miniatures", which I have no idea what that means, but sounds great. It is almost as if there is something wrong with the turntable, and it doesn't play properly, skipping about, and it all ends in a skipping lock groove, which took me a while before I realized that. On the other side, there is Sunk Heaven, with what might be an edited live recording of some fine musical intensity. There is a fine retro sound to this group, somehow it reminded me, again, of RRRecords, a bit of Boy Dirt Car or other industrialist acts with a heavy electronic sound, and somehow also managing to sound 'rock' live if you get my drift. A heavy sound, but of the better noise variety. Jeph Jerman recorded an improvisation with Tim Barnes, Bill Hutson and Ted Byrnes, with no instruments specified (but the percussion is my best guess), which he cut and pasted into a five minute and then copied to a "hand-mangled cassette', which makes it a very lo-fi affair of accidental sound being captured on a wobbly tape. One could say in the true spirit of early musique concrète with this rough and ready-made collage of percussion slices, having lost all sense of rhythm. Somnoroase Pasarele concludes this first volume and their 'Clar Cicnisprezece (Hyperpasarelisation)' is an electronic music piece and perhaps the best in quality, not as deliberate (and lovely!) obscure as the other three. They aren't particular rhythmic here, or maybe it's a rhythm of another kind, but gliding scales of electronic sounds, eventually held together by bouncing oscillations. Rhythmic but not to dance too. Maybe this is the counterpart of Jerman, the very modern musique concrète approach but luckily free from another overtly intellectual or academic approach. The first of three volumes with some promising names on the horizon, so collector's item galore. (FdW)
––– Address: https://spleencoffin.com/
C_G (cassette by Edelfaust Recordings)
This label already has a bunch of online releases but now branch out to the world of physical releases and the first is by Ilia Gorovitz on percussion (he also is the co-founder of the label) and Eduardo Ribuyo, "known mostly for his work as C_C", so C_G it is. Ribuyo takes credit for electronics and all were recorded in one take in their Berlin basement on a multi-track tape, which was edited and mixed by Igor Krutagolov. Whatever their set-up might in that basement, it surely does rock quite a bit. I would think Ribuyo's set-up is that of the modular synthesizer variety, and he knows how to produce some deep humming oscillations there. At times, it seemed that the electronics were connected to the drums, responding accordingly, but sometimes it all seemed like two independent unites. Gorovitz's drumming is straightforward, nothing chaotic but steady like a military band, but sometimes with a fine groove to it. The combination of drums and electronics reminded me of Radian and while C_G isn't that jazzy, the crisp, clear banging on drum skins certainly owes something to that. Think of C_G as the noisy little brother of Radian, with harsher notes and a firm bang on the can, rattling the chains briskly. It is noise, in that sense that it is quite loud, but it is full of life, of detail and some excellent musical ideas. This is the sort of noise that should appeal to a much wider audience, for instance, those with a love for the weirder improvisation or free jazz. (FdW)
––– Address: https://edelfaulrecordings.bandcamp.com/
A ∩ D - TWO LIVES (cassette, private)
Behind A ∩ D we find the 'a' for Angela Frances Wilson (modular synth) and the 'd' for Devin Sarno (bass guitar and sequencer). The first is an "interdisciplinary artist and composer with a practice built at the intersection of healing art and improvisational music" and she uses digital and analogue mediums. Devin Sarno once worked as Cribb (but that seems ages ago these days) and these days solo under his given name. Both of these pieces are live recordings, from August and January 2019, and they are simply great. From what I remember from his work as Cribb, Sarno is a man who loves the ambient touch in music, for which he uses many effects on his bass guitar. That love for the ambience is shared by Wilson and both of these seventeen plus minute pieces, there is a long wave that that just moves; it starts, and it stops and in between it moves without much direction, yet it always moves. Like small ripples in a vast ocean. In the first piece, 'Live At Human Resources, 03.8.19', this is worked in a slightly more ambient industrial manner, and the recording, with a microphone in the venue, adds to that conveyor belt sound, until it lands as a fine dark drone. 'Live At Outhaus, 08.01.19' slowly builds and is a very dark, very obscure and beautiful piece of music. It is that very sub-aquatic touch to it. It is like listening below sea level to some gorgeous drone music and one can be fully immersed with it. Although both sides were great, I preferred the second one, playing three times in a row. An excellent release. (FdW)
––– Address: https://devin-sarno.bandcamp.com/
GREY PARK - PALM OF SADDAM (cassette, private)
Of course, so I thought, I am surely not the only one who thinks, Grey Park... G*Park? This one, however, is from Finland and has three cassette releases so far and judging by 'Palm of Saddam' (which sounds like a Muslimgauze release) and the way it is presented this is one of those bands/labels that love to recycle old cassettes. Somehow bands that do such seem to operate in the area of lo-fi electronics, or maybe that is just I am looking for things that may not be there? The two lengthy pieces of this cassette (the third is a short interlude) are from the drone variety, produced in basements, using a few instruments and which sound in fine hiss covered decay both lovely distorted and brutally ambient. Think a bunch of those small monotron synthesizers and a bunch of delay and pitch shifts pedals, feeding into a rusty amplifier and pickup with a cheap microphone. Evidence of the space in which this was recorded we find in 'Corridor Of Maybe', the short interlude at the end of the first side, cracking some individual sounds in a confined space. This is one of those things that one needs to play loud and let the medium of the recycled cassette do its work. This is an edition of thirteen copies, so be quick! (FdW)
––– Address: https://greypark.bandcamp.com/
CLAUS POULSEN & STUART CHALMERS - BLUE THIRTY-SIX (cassette by Blue Tapes)
Whenever I open a parcel with a cassette and a blue cover and absolutely no information, my first reaction is not 'ah, another release by Blue Tapes', but 'urgh, now what is this?' It is, now with thirty-seven or so releases (of which I only reviewed a handful), of course, quite a collection, hard to distinguish one from the other, but Bandcamp is in that respect a fine guide. Claus Poulsen from Denmark and Stuart Chalmers from the UK already had two tapes out, and they played a couple of gigs in the UK and I reviewed 'Fictions In The Age Of Reason' in Vital Weekly 1215. I very much enjoyed what I heard, even when it seemed it could do with some trimming. That one was very much a fresh take on Brian Eno and Jon Hassell, and some of that can be heard on this new tape, but they also firmly explore new grounds in their music. The basic material for these nine pieces was recorded during two concerts in 2019 and bits and pieces were reworked into these pieces. Whereas on their previous release the tracks were longish, now they are lovely concise, between three and almost seven minutes, yet closer to three most of the time. They see the swarmandal, tape loops, Dictaphone and the Casio SK-1, which is a primitive 2-bit sampler from the mid-80s. The pieces here are not always as ambient as their previous work, with a fine bit of Dictaphone abuse, mild distortion, but with the acoustic string abuse in 'Sushi', they show us that there is more than a bit of weirdness. I was thinking that, perhaps, the fact that the source material was recorded in concert made this all a bit rough at the edges, but I think they succeeded very well in selecting and editing the most interesting fragments and collate them into fine, new construction. A synthesis between this end of their collaborative work and the longer ambient music of before is something, I think, they should explore, and I am looking forward to those results. (FdW)
––– Address: https://bluetapes.bandcamp.com/
ATRX - PHASE TWO (cassette by Nausea.)
There is no information on the tape, besides the name of the band, title and label name and catalogue number. From Bandcamp I understand that behind ATRX is one Marcello Groppi, who is also a "member of Italian experimental band The Great Saunites". 'Phase Two' is his second release, which he recorded live on a Tascam 424, which is a mixing desk and recorder in one machine. While the label says that this is "a raw sound collage of home sounds, free piano and damaged rhythms", which is all true, I must admit, I am a bit lost at the whole 'live' aspect of the music. But, sure, maybe there is a set-up possible, in which he has all his machines produce sound and then recorded. I would think that to this end he uses a variety of pre-recorded sound sources, that include samples of percussion, piano playing (although I can just as easily imagine that to be played live when the rest is set to play), field recordings and sometimes sound effects running amok. There is a noise aspect to the first (untitled) side that is percussion-heavy and yet enjoyable, while the piano plays the lead on the second (also untitled) side and that has a more ambient sort-of character. Not that this piano playing is necessary melodic; more free form and avant-garde. On this side too, the music has a somewhat noisy aspect but not as much as on the other side (and still this is far away from the world of noise anyway). It is a pity that all of this is a bit short as the total length of the tape is twenty minutes. Just as you get into this, it is already over. It shows us two sides of the work by ATRX, and it made curious to hear more. In some ways, this music reminded me of Angelo Bignami, who helped with the mix and released it. Lovely! (FdW)
––– Address: https://nauseadevivre.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