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EXIT IN GREY - PATH OF DOUBT (CD by Frozen Light) *
EXIT IN GREY - K7 (CD by Frozen Light) *
LE SCRAMBLED DEBUTANTE - CROCODILE DENTURE ADHESIVE (CD by Frozen Light) *
WINTERBLOOD - LA NEMESI DELLA NEBBIA (CD by Frozen Light) *
MARC NEYS - THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF LIGHT (CD by Frozen Light) *
DAG ROSENQVIST - VRÅEN CENTRUM (CD by Laaps) *
HITRA - TRANSPARENCE (CD by AMP Music & Records) *
TORSTEN PAPENHEIM - HELLERAU (CD by Creative Sources Records) *
QUASAR - DE SOUFFLES ET DE MACHINES III (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques) *
MARILYN LERNER & NICOLE RAMPERSAUD - BRASS KNUCKLE SANDWICH (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques) *
ENSEMBLE SUPERMUSIQUE - COMMUTATION (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques) *
TINE SUREL LANGE - WORKS FOR LISTENING 1-10 (CD by Sofa Music) *
MIA ZABELKA & ICOSTECH – AFTERSHOCK (CD by Subcontinental Records) *
JULIUS EASTMAN – FEMENINE (CD by Subrosa) *
LINA ALLEMANO FOUR - VEGETABLES (CD by Lumo Records) *
BLOOP – PROOF (CD by Lumo Records) *
JULIEN BOUDART - NOME POLYCHEPALE/ANCIENT AND MODERN MYTHS VOL. 1 (CD by Carton Records) *
E42.A8 - IIIII (2CD by E42.A8) *
MIKE VERNUSKY - AATMA (LP by Ferns) *
DER VERBOTEN - LIATNIE/ETHER (LP by Wide Ear Records) *
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - HOMININE PARTS 4 TO 6 (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
COSA VOSTRA - TRAVELING AROUND (WITH VOL. 1 & 2 (2CDR by Bli.de. House & Rec) *
ROVAR17 & THE THREE-BRAINED ROBOT (split cassette)
FIXATEUR EXTERNE - A FEKETE GONG (cassette by Unsigned)
LDQ YSIMARO/ANAMORPH EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC (cassette by Neus-318) *
EXIT IN GREY - PATH OF DOUBT (CD by Frozen Light)
EXIT IN GREY - K7 (CD by Frozen Light)
LE SCRAMBLED DEBUTANTE - CROCODILE DENTURE ADHESIVE (CD by Frozen Light)
WINTERBLOOD - LA NEMESI DELLA NEBBIA (CD by Frozen Light)
MARC NEYS - THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF LIGHT (CD by Frozen Light)
As I am looking at these five new releases by Russia's Frozen Light label, I realize that in more than one way this a return. For one, I haven't heard from the label in some time, but also some of the artists presented on these new releases. Exit In Grey for instance, [S] as he calls himself, mysteriously, or Sergey Suhovik, less mysterious and works also as Five Elements Music, Sister Loolomie and other names. Originally Exit In Grey was a duo but now a solo project. In all of his work, one could say there is a drone present, and it is in the details where you find the differences. Exit In Grey is a more particular dark horse and one with very little room for any other sound, or abstraction to divert you from the main course; the long spacious drone. I believe the different detail here lays in the fact the guitar is the main source of sound for Exit In Grey (as opposed to, say, electronically processed field recordings). Here we have a 47:48 minute piece (I think that extra second is a pity!), of slowly cascading guitar music, not just pleasant and distant, but up close and full of sound. It moves with the right amount of space and pace, sounds dropping in and out of the mix, and in the first half is full of life and in the second works just below the surface, but with a lot of tension. It is not easy to avoid the comparison with Troum, but Exit In Grey is strong enough by itself.
And more from [S] as Exit In Grey can be found on 'K7', not meant as overkill but from a more historical perspective. The music was already recorded in 2010, for a four-cassette compilation project, which never happened and now finds its way to CD. I am not sure when Exit In Grey became the solo vehicle for [S] but also 'K7' is just him on the guitar and electronics. There are four pieces, spanning forty minutes of music. The guitar plays a big role here too, that is, of course, no surprise, but the main difference is that the music by Exit in Grey wasn't as hermetically closed back then. Through each of these pieces, there is a ray of light shining through. The guitar is also more easily recognized in these pieces, a more melodic touch on the six strings if you will, but the long-form drone elements are already in place. Tempting it is to say something about development, perhaps, of how things grew over the years, but I decided not to do that. Just because I looked at the cover and saw the recordings dates would make me think that way, but you can also see these two releases as two different approaches with the same goal: to produce atmospheric music with the use of a guitar and Exit In Grey does a great job.
With Le Scrambled Debutante I had the same thought as with Exit in Grey; it's been a while since I last reviewed their music. There was a time when they seemed very active with new releases, but for a reason or another newer ones didn't reach me, or, perhaps, there was just a gap of some kind. To refresh your memory, Le Scrambled Debutante is the group around Allan Zane, who also calls himself Exodus Z.-Polenta and Sir Bear Trapper), with a rotating cast that here includes Sid Redlin, Ms. La-Dee-Dada & Her Pet Eye Ov Tomato, David Abner and Kimathi Moore. The cover doesn't list any instruments and it's not yet on Bandcamp, but as I noted before Le Scrambled Debutante is a group that specializes in collages of music. According to the cover, this new one was recorded from 199? to New Year's Eve 2014 and mixed in 2015. At the same time, I would believe that this is a live recording. All the matters behind turntables, reel-to-reel machines, Walkman and Dictaphone and all of this media filled with an exotic range of sounds; acoustic instruments, voices, electronics, field recordings from a construction site across the road and everybody is playing with the pitch control of these devices, speeding up and down as they go along. In the past I made references to The Beatles of 'Revolution No. 9', John Cage’s multimedia pieces, Smegma (especially when LSD, an acronym that should be no coincidence, hit upon real instruments and sounding funnily distorted and improvised) and of course Nurse With Wound, perhaps for the same reason; also improvised, dealing with lots of studio manipulation, albeit a bit cruder (hence the idea of this being a live recording), right down to the 'surreal' title of the album, and the names of the band members. It's solid work and I would think CDR is the right medium for this, but with this speed, why not a CD sporadically?
Also, music from Winterblood has been some been heard some time ago.; Vital Weekly 1068 to be precise. This is the musical project from Stefano Senesi and his ambient music uses keyboards; or, keyboard? I am not too sure there, I must admit. In some of the five pieces here, I strongly believe there were just one keyboard and some extra sound effects to colour the sound. The opening 'Passaggio Segreto' is such an example of long sustaining sounds and slow-moving chords; maybe even a very slow arpeggio would do this. But Winterblood isn't just about long-form drone pieces with a few keys taped down and sustain on endless. In 'Ombre Luminose', for instance, he plays a sort of melody that repeats and that has a creepy undercurrent. It is all easily made music, and yet I found this quite captivating. I must admit that, in general, I don't care much about how things are made, as more modules the merrier, far from it. If the result is good care, who cares how it was made (and no, that doesn't include fine tennis shoes manufactured by children, as once that was posed as a question to me) and I enjoyed the simplicity of this dark music quite a lot. Mucho drones, and some vaguely melodic touches here and there, made this an excellent release for a quiet afternoon.
Marc Neys is the newbie here. He created a single piece of music for manipulated stills by Janet Lees, and the music is a response to that. On the cover, it says he uses 'field recordings, instruments, tape loops and sounds. The cover also lists twelve track titles, so perhaps we are to see this as twelve independent pieces? Playing this piece it is easy to see the individual pieces, yet difficult to point out where one starts and ends, everything flows right into the next section. Neys does what he promises on the box and that is the creation of music with the elements already mentioned. There are samples of string instruments, piano, guitar, some wind instruments, percussive one-shots, sometimes played in real-time and some lopped, and which are set against the field recordings of water, birds, wind, trees, also both in real-time and looped. Some of this reminded me of those meditation apps, which fade in and out loops of insects, birds, water and Buddhist temple bells, a tad on the new age of things (certainly the title of his album could be considered as such I would think), but nevertheless, the conclusion was that Neys put in enough weirdness to stay away from the world of new age. Within these fifty-three minutes, there is a fine flow, and Neys never stays too long in the same place and yet also doesn't create restlessness in the music. All in all, this is a fine spacious drift. (FdW)
––– Address: https://frozenlightlabel.bandcamp.com/
DAG ROSENQVIST - VRÅEN CENTRUM (CD by Laaps)
Before Dag Rosenqvist worked as Jasper TX, and since 2005 he released a bunch of albums in that name. In 2012, he put the moniker to rest and works under his given name. He's also a member of From The Mouth of The Sun, de la Mancha and The Silence Set and worked with Machinefabriek, Aaron Martin and many others. This new album is dedicated to his father. As I am playing this I asked myself 'how many of his previous works did I hear' and when was the last time? For both questions that I can't offer an answer without looking it up. It turned out that the last time was his 'Elpehant' album (Vital Weekly 1037) and in that review, I mention a 'poppy edge' to his music and that is something that I also hear on this new one. I would think, this goes even a bit further, however, it's not that Rosenqvist plays poppy music. In the way he treats his synthesizer, full-on and 'fat' in '1980', a dirty little cosmic piece, this is almost the introduction to a techno piece and would work wonders in the world of film music. Spacious, drifting, intense and accessible. The piano, opening up in the following piece, 'Tidens Flod', is an instrument he uses quite a bit in these ten songs, and has that melancholic touch; another sign, I should say, of the filmic proportions of this music. Atmospherics, ambience, melancholy, are all keywords for this album. But Rosenqvist is not always particular 'careful' in his approach; a certain sense of saturation and sonic overload is something he isn't afraid to do. Something a full-on approach is the best, so he seems to think. In all of these pieces you can easily hear the overall production value Rosenqvist put into the music. There is much room for detail, fragile and delicate, and yet there is fullness in his approach, a big sound that does the real magic. The whole register of production techniques is opened and that is responsible for the highly accessible sound. To answer my other question, I have no idea how much of his work I heard, so I am not sure what it is worth when I say: this might be his best album yet. (FdW)
––– Address: https://laaps-records.com/
HITRA - TRANSPARENCE (CD by AMP Music & Records)
There are times when I think about whether it’s harder to go about making a debut album or a second or third. On the surface, it looks like debut albums are tricker, but at the same time possibly easier. With a second or third there is already the perception of the debut. Punters know what to expect unless you are The Horrors…. There is a worry of having to write new material in a short period. Whereas the material on debut albums has been honed from playing live/rehearsing over a longer time, usually speaking. The songs have evolved from their initial rough beginnings into something fully formed. All of these thoughts were in my mind when listening to ‘Transparence’ Hitra’s debut album.
‘Transparence’ is the kind of album that sounds glorious from the start. There is something really beautiful about the playing. Alessandro Sgobbio’s piano is haunting but fluid. The runs are quick, and it takes a few passes of them to fully understand what is being played. Jo Berger Myhre’s bass has a really hefty quality to it. It’s crunching in a way that a lot of jazz bassists aren’t. Øyvind Skarbø’s drumming range from scattershot percussion to something that wouldn’t be out of place on an elegant cool jazz track. Hilmar Jensson’s guitar work manages to compliment everything the others are playing. Jensson fills in the gap between drum and bass, whilst not encroaching on the piano, but when he needs to wail, he has room to breathe.
Opening track ‘Lebtit’ does a good job of letting us know what we’re in for, as well as creating a barrier for the rest of the album to hide behind. At its heart, it feels like an out-take from Neil Young’s ‘Dead Man’ score that was left out because it was too jazzy and atmospheric. It’s truly wonderful and possibly the standout moment on the album. On ‘Künftiges’ the playing is more subdued, but there is a moment when Jensson just solos for all he’s worth. ‘The Perfect Light of Sandstad’ wouldn’t work without Skarbø’s precise percussion. He’s the deftness of touch is fantastic. Throughout the tracks, he is constating doing something, but it isn’t overstated or claustrophobic. It gives his band members room to manoeuvre and flex their musical muscles.
What ‘Transparence’ does really well is usher us into Hitra’s fully formed musical world while giving us room to catch our breath. It’s hard to do, but this quartet makes it look, and feel, effortless. This is a group to keep an eye, and ear, on going forward. (NR)
––– Address: http://www.ampmusicrecords.com/
TORSTEN PAPENHEIM - HELLERAU (CD by Creative Sources Records)
I can never work out whether it’s better to cut the chase with reviews or write a lengthy preamble. Some albums need the have a scene set. They need to let you know what you are getting yourself into, or the reason why there was a lengthy gap between releases. But is this really necessary? Do you care? Is all you are really interested in whether or not the album good or not? Possibly. So, for once, let me cut to the chase and give you what you want before I start to wax lyrically about why. Torsten Papenheim’s latest album ‘Hellerau’ is brilliant. Plain and simple.
There is something deep in its DNA that just works and is a joy to listen to. It isn’t the most abrasive album. Nor the most abstract. Nor is it the most complex, but there is something about the sparseness of the playing, bockety time signatures and tones Papenheim gets that is captivating from start to finish. ‘Nachtprogramm I’ is filled with driving basslines, sonorous horns, and lopsided percussion. It is both structured and all over the shop at the same time. This juxtaposition works incredibly well. It gives you something to both latch onto and be confused by. As it progresses lopsided melodies present themselves, before collapsing under their own giddy movements. Like a toddler who has run around in circles too much and now is exhausted and dizzy. ‘Syntax A’ is an utter delight. All the way through it sounds like there is a ship in the distance, eclipsed by fog, that is making its way towards the harbour. It blasts his horn every few seconds to warn of its approach. At times other ships use their horns to show their position to it. It sets out its premise early on and sticks with it. This is effectively what happened for nine-minutes, but the song is far greater than these terse sentences. It is about movement, or lack of at times, and how this creates a vibrant dynamic. Or it is just a series of long horn blasts. Either way, it just works.
While listening to ‘Hellerau’ I am transported into a Jim Jarmusch film that doesn’t exist. In my head, I’m seeing pictures of people walking the desolate back streets of a busy metropolis. Going into dive bars to use the toilet and meeting characters that fuel the next stage of their saga. Taxi drivers picking up transients for free and endless cups of coffee being consumed while on a stakeout. It’s all there in the wonky melodies and ad-hoc rhythms. I said it was brilliant. (NR)
––– Address: http://www.creativesourcesrec.com/
QUASAR - DE SOUFFLES ET DE MACHINES III (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
Not everything you listen to can blow your socks off. There are times when you just aren’t feeling it. No matter how hard you try, it just isn’t working for you. I had this while listening to the latest Quasar album ‘De souffles et de machines III’. I was enjoying it, but it wasn’t doing a great deal to win me other. Then I heard the final track, ‘Construct-deconstruct’ and it all made sense. As soon as it finished, I went back and played the album again and I felt a greater affinity for the songs.
‘De souffles et de machines III’ really comes alive with the second track ‘Interjections’. Opening with what sounds like electronic loops, the sound of stringed instruments being plucked and a muffled horn section ‘Interjections’ is a wonky piece of loveliness. Despite being the shortest track on the album, at no point do Quasar rush to get to the point. Around the final third there is a flurry of musicality. The melodies are there but hidden below layers of bellowing horns. What works here is how Quasar is incredibly proficient, yet only choose to show us in succinct blasts. This works in their favour. It undermines us, so when they have something to say or play, BAM we’re taken aback. And this is when they are, they’re most devastating.
Quasar has saved the most abrasive, and fully formed, track for last. ‘Construct-deconstruct’ is a brutalist nightmare. Opening quietly with blips and piercing tones ‘Construct-deconstruct’ meanders along nicely. The something click and BAM the tension is ramped up. Short, sharp, and fast, beats kick in while the saxophones squeak, run scales, and generally makes a delicious cacophony. Then as quickly as it starts, it stops. What sounds like field recordings or printers, modems and other electronic devices start to make up a disjointed, but enjoyable, soundscape. What Quasar is trying to say is unsure, but it does feel like living in the world of Blade Runner.
Overall ‘De souffles et de machines III’ works well. Sharp angular sounds are combined with real-world atmospherics bleeding into the mix along with a hefty dollop of unsettling malaise. It’s kind of fun. There are sections where it all gets a bit too much and there isn’t enough musicality behind the ideas. Ultimately these moments aren’t that often but when they happen, they snap you out of what you are, and were, listening to and remind you that it was all in your head. You do eventually get swept back up with everything again, but it takes time. Saying that ‘De souffles et de machines III’ is a pretty solid album that deserves time to try and work out what it’s all about, even if you don’t come up with any tangible conclusions. (NR)
––– Address: https://ambiances-magnetiques.bandcamp.com/
MARILYN LERNER & NICOLE RAMPERSAUD - BRASS KNUCKLE SANDWICH (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
There is something delicate about Marilyn Lerner and Nicole Rampersaud’s playing on ‘Brass Knuckle Sandwich’ that you miss the first couple of time you play it. At first, it all sounds like broad brushstrokes of sound. That ‘Susurration’ for example. It is all long, shrill, trumpet blasts from Rampersaud and harrowing piano tinkering from Lerner, but after you become a tune to it, you start to realise that there is a fragility to the playing. Lerner isn’t so much filling in the spaces left by Rampersaud, but she is adding patches of light to encounter the raspy blasts. It works fantastically well. We are giving a vibrant performance and an indication of what to expect on the rest of the album.
‘Evermore’ is probably the most conventional track. Lerner’s piano is elegant and wouldn’t be out of place being played at a dinner party. The work runs are measured but with a slightly ominous edge. When Rampersaud comes in, around the halfway mark, her playing is more conventional and restrained. It reminds me of the work of Marc Chagall. The paintings are lifelike but there is a level of abstraction to them that takes you by surprise. The same is true here. Lerner is playing some really beautiful motifs. It pulls at the heart, then Rampersaud comes in and, BAM, everything has a slightly off-kilter vibe to it. It’s the strongest track on the album.
At first, I thought that ‘Brass Knuckle Sandwich’ was an odd title, but after listening to it a few times it makes perfect sense. The knockout punch happened during ‘Rizoo’. The final track, ‘Rizoo’, is also the one that everything hangs on. The previous six have set out the aims and points for the performances. They have shown Lerner and Rampersaud’s regard, and disregard, for a convention. There have been eloquent melodies and bestially thrashings, but here it all comes together. To being with Lerner is taking the more collected route again. Her controlled work is delightful, with a playfulness that was missing on some of the earlier tracks. As with ‘Evermore’ it allows you to get comfortable with the piece. Rampersaud is again shrill, then around the halfway mark, the roles switch. Lerner starts to play more abstractly with Rampersaud playing in a more conventional manner. The change happens so slowly you almost miss it until it’s too late. What ‘Rizoo’ does it break our mindset of the previous six tracks. It changes our perceptions with not only what Lerner and Rampersaud are capable of, but what the album is about.
At its heart, this is an album that likes to play with our ideas of form and composition. It leads us one way then bops us over the head and runs off giggling, like a character in a child’s comic. There is no malice intended, just a thrill of doing it. But what did we expect from two of Canada’s greatest improvisers? This is an album that works as a conversation between gifted, and patient, musicians. They are both taking the time to get their points across, while listening, and considering the others. If only all music was this audacious. (NR)
––– Address: https://ambiances-magnetiques.bandcamp.com/
ENSEMBLE SUPERMUSIQUE - COMMUTATION (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
Despite the way it’s being dressed up ‘Commutation’ is a cover, or reinterpretations, album. Each of the eight tracks is a graphic score written by different composers. This means that the composer used visual symbols to create the notation, rather than traditional musical notation. The five composers, Luigi Russolo, Emilie Girard-Charest, Anestis Logothetis, Fred Frith, Maxime Daigneault, span 100 years of music and culture. What is remarkable that Ensemble SuperMusique plays them in a way that you can’t really tell what era they are from. This is down to the ensemble using a collection of winds, electronics, and percussion to make them sounds contemporary. A prime example is ‘Pour l’heure’, one of the standout moments. Instead of using strings, Ensemble SuperMusique re-score it is using electronics, as well as organic sounds. The playing is sparse but forthright. The horns give ‘Pour l’heure’ a sinister vibe that might have been missing on the original score. The final third, with its bellowing horns and scratchy field recordings, really define the mood of the piece and act as a bookend to how it starts.
In the middle of the album is a suite of Fred Frith’s four ‘Stone, Brick, Glass, Wood Wire’ compositions. This is the most important section on the album. On this the album hangs. Original a live double album by Frith these performances take his ideas and run with them. Ensemble SuperMusique’s versions have the same vibe, slightly wonky and eerie, but they ramp up the tension in the way that Frith’s versions don’t. Underpinning all the songs is this junk table aesthetic. Throughout assorted things are being rattled, shook, and jingled. The effect is unsettling, but you can’t look away. Just like in a horror film you have to watch the gruesome imagery; despite being warned by the music. The same is true here.
The albums downside is that it is all a bit oppressive. There is no space between the notes being played. Now, I can’t work out if this is down to the way Ensemble SuperMusique has decided to play the pieces of music or if they purposely picked music that would give them the ability to reinterpret the music this way. Given that these are graphic scores it’s hard to know. The only downside to this is that these versions might lose some fluidity to what the originals had. Saying that ‘Commutation’ is a glorious piece of music that makes us think about how technology is used and what happens with the data after our task has been completed. (NR)
––– Address: https://ambiances-magnetiques.bandcamp.com/
TINE SUREL LANGE - WORKS FOR LISTENING 1-10 (CD by Sofa Music)
Many of the releases from Norway's Sofa Music deal with minimalism from modern music (as in modern classical) perspective, but here one Tine Surel Lange takes a different approach. I don't think I heard of her before. She was born in 1989 in Norway and based in the Lofoten as a composer and interdisciplinary artist. She works with instruments as well as electroacoustic composition, installation, performances, and she was worked with a range of musicians and ensembles, such as Asamisimasa, Alpaca Ensemblem BIT20 and several more I never heard of. Also, her work for festivals and dance performers contains a long like of people I never heard of. And yet, 'Works For Listening 1-10' is her debut album, and contains ten pieces of "spatial electro-acoustic works developed as Notam (Norway), MISC (Italy) and EMS (Sweden)" and "all the works are made in 5th order ambisonics but have been presented in many formats - as in this stereo decoding of the works". I would think the title of the pieces give us an indication of the sound material used; 'Metal And Spoon', 'Roof Work', 'Metal And Water', 'Sunset Rising', and the somewhat more difficult 'Immersed' and 'Muorjegarggu'. It is not easy for anyone to recognize the sound of metal, water, stone, wire and such in these pieces, for whatever Lange does with her material, there is some extensive processing going. Somewhere along the way, I would think that the music from Lange is along the lines of modern musique concrète, in an academic sense and, at the same time, it also owes to the world of microsound and all those not-formally trained laptop composers. Oddly enough, Lange seems to be working with more repetition than some of her peers and a bit less of the granular swings some of her other peers love to use. In that sense, she stays close to the minimalism of the label. Each of the ten compositions works with a few sounds, and she explores them with very small differences. She does a sturdy, fine job, but at the same time, for me, also not astounding. (FdW)
––– Address: http://sofamusic.no
MIA ZABELKA & ICOSTECH – AFTERSHOCK (CD by Subcontinental Records)
The projects of Zabelka really take me by surprise. With each project, she presents new radical and drastic manoeuvres. This new release is another example. No wonder, Zabelka really is an experimental re-newer of violin practises and much more. With Aftershock, she is in collaboration with Icostech from India. Icostech is Arun Natajaran, a guitarist and bassist who worked with extreme metal units like Extinct Reflections, Eccentric Pendulum and momentary Moral Collapse. Recently he released for his Subcontintental label the debut recording by Moral Collapse that has some contributions by Zabelka as well. Under the moniker Icostech he operates since 2018 in fields of electronic music, stretching from noise to ambient, and worked with veteran trumpeter Toshinoro Kondo. Under the moniker of Aftershock, Zabelka (violin, noise, electronics, experiments, pulse) and Icostech (guitar, bass, ambience, experiments, mix) create a dark and sinister world of dark ambient textures combined with improvisation. It is a 60-minute journey divided into ten tracks that are best experienced as one continuous whole. With the opening track ‘Prelude to Shock’ we slowly enter this ominous sound world followed by the heavy beat-driven ‘Coliding Indigenous Forms’. ‘The Train to Nowhere’ is a highly imaginative dark soundscape based on a cadence we experience when we travel by train. ‘Recurring Conumdrums’ and ‘Circandan Disrupt Revisiting Narcole’ have atmospheric additions and underlining by trumpet – played by Joshua Trinidad - that fit well in this overall electronic world. Perhaps ‘Interlude’ is the friendliest piece. However, a radical break half shows another face with a loud stomping beat that starts to dominate. The beat continues in the following track ‘Aftershock’ but is disturbed by harsh and distorted sounds. ‘Trapped without Recourse’ has fine violin-improvisations and vocals by Zabelka that are embedded in a rich multi-layered soundscape. The closing piece ‘The Train to Nowhere – The Next Stop’ makes up a cacophonic apotheosis of this spooky and uncomfortable affair. (DM)
––– Address: https://subcontinentalrecords.bandcamp.com/
JULIUS EASTMAN – FEMENINE (CD by Subrosa)
Julius Eastman (1940-1990) was an Afro-American new music composer, pianist, vocalist and dancer. During his lifetime he worked with Peter Maxwell Davies, Arthur Russell and Meredith Monk. Only after his passing away his compositions received more recognition. Composer Mary Jane Leach did a lot to recover the work of Eastman that otherwise would have been lost. As a composer, Eastman was under the influence of minimalism and post-minimalism. Later he worked with Arthur Russell conducting many of his orchestral compositions. ‘Femenine’ is a composition for chamber ensemble composed in 1974. Alas, the companion composition ‘Masculine’ (1974) has been lost. That same year it was also performed and recorded by S.E.M. Ensemble with Eastman himself on the piano was released by the Finnish label Frozen Reeds in 2016. A second performance of the work was by Apartment House, released in 2019 by Another Timbre. That makes this new recording by the French Ensemble 0 and Aum Grand Ensemble the third recording of this composition. This ensemble started in 2004 performing works by Moondog, Ligeti and Arthur Russell, a.o. The composition transports you back to the mid-70s when minimal music was spreading its wings. ‘Music for Mallet Instruments’ by Steve Reich, ‘Solo Music’ and ’Music in Similar Motion’ by Philip Glass saw the light in those years. I still have a weakness for the early pulse-driven works by Glass. Performers are: Sophie Bernado (bassoon), Cyprien Busolini (viola), Jozef Dumoulin (Fender Rhodes, synthesizer), Céline Flamen (cello) Stéphane Garin (percussion, artistic co-direction), Ellen Giacone (voice), Jean-Brice Godet (bass clarinet), Amélie Grould (vibraphone), Alexandre Herer (electronics), Tomoko Katsura (violin), Julien Pontvianne (saxophones, orchestration, artistic co-direction) and Christian Pruvost (trumpet). With the same pulse and motive at the base from start to finish, this work takes you on an over 70-minute journey. Very colourful because of the diverse instruments that occur during the repetitive and gradually shifting patterns. I’m not sure, but I guess the ensemble did some rearrangements of the work including for example synthesizer. The work opens with sleigh bells that remain in the background throughout the piece. Vibraphone introduces the main motive and gradually after instruments join in. Resulting in waves of cascading sound that grow in force and dynamics. If you can surrender yourself to the music you start to enjoy the subtle changes, the piano that moves along in a meandering improvising way over the shifting patterns and the warm performance by the ensemble evoking inevitably a hypnotic effect. This is truly an important work of minimal music coming from the 70s and delivered in an inspired and warm performance by Ensemble 0. (DM)
––– Address: https://www.subrosa.net/
LINA ALLEMANO FOUR - VEGETABLES (CD by Lumo Records)
BLOOP – PROOF (CD by Lumo Records)
Canadian trumpeter Lina Allemano divides her time between Berlin and Toronto. She works as an improviser, composer and trumpeter in several collaborations. Lina Allemano Four may be her most important unit that exits since about 2005. In Berlin, she has her trio Ohrensmaus, reviewed in Vital Weekly 1230. Besides, she is a long time member of Robert Clutton’s Cluttertones. With Bloop, she presents a new project investigating live electronics combined with acoustic trumpet and some percussion. For this project Allemano joined forces with Toronto born multi-instrumentalist and composer Mike Smith (live processing, effects). In their musical exchange, everything starts from acoustic sound by the trumpet that is real-time manipulated by Smith through live processing what leads to the next response by Allemano on acoustic trumpet. So this is a reciprocal enterprise. Smith continuously makes decisions on how to treat the acoustic sound and playing by Allemano. This leads to eight experimental dialogues. Live in real-time with no overdubs or whatsoever. Opening improvisation ‘Enchantment’ starts with little bells combined with an acoustic trumpet with gradually more electronic treatments doing their work. Allemano plays slowly a melodic line with echoing effects that evoke a spatial and ambient-like atmosphere. Near the end, the small percussion returns. ‘Decanted’ is totally different. Allemano creates sounds through extended techniques that make it difficult sometimes to distinguish what is acoustic and what is electronically treated. ‘Recanting’ is a very lively and dynamic interaction. ‘Actual Bloop’ uses again small percussion and identifiable acoustic trumpet plus treatments. Bloop offer some very varied improvisations of different colouring, dynamics and structure. True experimental music, never losing itself in meaningless complexity so that one can follow the interaction between the two. Just like ‘Proof’, ’Vegetables’ is released on Allemano’s own Lumo label. With this new release, the Lina Allemano Four deliver their 6th releases. Since their second album ‘Pinkeye’(2006) the quartet operates in the same line up of Brodie West (alto saxophone), Andrew Downing (double bass), Nick Fraser (drums) and Lina Allemano (trumpet). Again Allemano created compositions that are clever and engaging constructions leaving room for improvisation as well. Tradition and a sense for new movements and gestures go hand in hand. Inventive and open-structured works that invite to the fine intertwined interplay between all four of them. With their acoustic chamber jazz, they really tell a story. There is complexity on the one hand, but their interactions are drenched in a harmonious atmosphere and not so much driven by conflicting strategies and battling tempers. Fine work! (DM)
––– Address: https://linaallemano.bandcamp.com/
JULIEN BOUDART - NOME POLYCHEPALE/ANCIENT AND MODERN MYTHS VOL. 1 (CD by Carton Records)
This my first encounter with the music from Julien Boudart, who has been working with electronic music instruments since the 90s; first he used the Korg MS20 and in 2015 the Serge modular synthesizer. He also works with others in an ensemble Printemps, named after the Arab Spring of 2013 and with Anais Rousset in 'La Condition Pneumatique', "an optical and musical stage performance". The nine pieces here started life in 2015 at the studio of La Muse En Circuit and later on at the EMS, and uses the "Serge Modular with nonlinear diffuseurs", as he calls it and which I don't know what that is. It is a short album, under thirty-two minutes and the length of the pieces range from thirty-one seconds to just under six minutes. I like that sort of brevity, of not sticking too long with something. Certainly when it comes to albums with music created with modular electronics. Sometimes this results in some endless doodling on the endless possibilities machines have on offer, and the result, 'is this something another listener would like to hear', is lost on the creator. Boudart adds a few field recordings and voices to the modular and sounds, at times, like a bassoon or bass clarinet in the results. And the results are compositions, rather than improvisations I would think unless he tinkers around for such an amount of time that he can repeat certain phrases and make those into one coherent piece of music. Well, of course, maybe he just does that? Who knows? I enjoyed the noise-end approach of the music at times, but also some of the more melodic/musical touches he allows in his music. It makes this a highly varied album and with its concise character a perfect introduction. (FdW)
––– Address: https://julienboudart.bandcamp.com/
E42.A8 - IIIII (2CD by E42.A8)
Despite various invitations coming my way, I have not yet visited E42.A8, an organization in an old farm near Tournai, in Belgium. It is a place where people, mostly from Belgium, but not exclusively meet and play music. It is not really a concert stage, or a studio but a bunch of tables and apparatus where musicians can freely improvise together, following the principle of "Rec Play Share". The place exists for five years now and on their Bandcamp page you can find a bunch of online releases, but to celebrate the first lustrum, there is now a lovely double CD with fine paper stock, liner notes in French (the only downside, but there is a translation online) and photos of various actions. A large group of people have participated and looking at the list, I may recognize only the names of Sylvain van Iniitu (who initiated this and who ran the excellent Ini.itu label before), Falvien Gillié, Ludovic Médery, and Alice Just, and this out of a group of twenty people. Instruments are not mentioned for any of these people, but the cover details who plays on what track, and who did the editing. Also, it tells us from which session the music is from, going up to Session 107 (7 July 2019), so who knows how many more there have been. Oddly enough, you can easily dispense with the whole booklet, trying to figure out who's who, as the music is quite the coherent music release (and I realize this may also mean everybody is on a similar track, and you could think about that). There is quite a lot of electronics at play, modular electronics, but I would think also quite a bit of construction, created by the participants, the rough edge of modular meeting circuit bending, but also Dictaphone abuse, Walkman, lo-fi electronics and laptop improvisation. Acoustic sounds are also used quite a bit. You never know the extent of editing that went into these pieces, but I quite enjoyed the collage-like editing in some of these pieces. Maybe everything is recorded on multiple tracks, which allows for great freedom in editing and mixing this material. It is all pretty strong material here, very much the sort of thing I enjoy in terms of electroacoustic improvisation and bruitist collage material, along the lines of Morphogenesis, THU20 or P16.D4, especially the latter in 'Tant Que Mars Ayt Les Empas", the only piece in which a cello is clearly audible, along with the cracking of acoustic objects. A great group effort here, delivered by many different players. (FdW)
––– Address: https://e42a8.bandcamp.com/
MIKE VERNUSKY - AATMA (LP by Ferns)
There were always long gaps between the releases by Mike Vernusky; I am not sure why that is. I reviewed a CD for Quiet Design in Vital Weekly 743 and a CD for Audiobulb in Vital Weekly 1205; well, perhaps these gaps aren't that long, seeing there is now an LP by Ferns. It has three pieces, of which 'Mumbai Horizon' spans the whole of Side A, and on the flip, there is 'Arrows Through The Eyes' and 'I Am The Swift Uplifiting'. I think this LP is more connected to his recent and less to the older work I heard. Field recordings play an important role in two of the three pieces. It is not easy to say what Vernusky does with his material; he cuts and edits it quite extensively, uses loops and so on, which at times doesn't seem the 'proper' (what is that anyway, ‘proper’?) thing to do, but thanks to this editing and layering something very interesting happens. The field recordings of 'Mumbai Horizon' are from nature but then slowly takes us to the city with two voices singing this beautiful sad song, in a call and response, until Vernusky loops a bit, making it the end of that piece, with field recordings all the way through. A lovely deceptive piece of music. What did he do? I have no idea, it sounded simple, and it is highly effective. The field recordings of 'Arrows Through The Eyes' sound heavily processed with granular synthesis, but the original shines through here. More voice material is used here, but in a less natural surrounding, adding another vibe to the music. More haunting, I thought. In 'I Am The Swift Uplifiting' the field recordings play a less prominent role and I think Vernusky uses recordings of instruments that sound like they are mechanically played, and he uses a lot of them, so the result is a very dense piece of acoustic (at least, so I believe) drone music. Maybe the field recordings are the instruments? I have no idea. These three pieces are showcases of the various interests Vernusky has and all three are great pieces of music. Hopefully, he's here to stay and do some sooner than later. (FdW)
––– Address: https://fernsrecordings.bandcamp.com/
DER VERBOTEN - LIATNIE/ETHER (LP by Wide Ear Records)
An album, so says the label, that is between improvised music, contemporary jazz and experimental acoustic music. That is something that could be up to my alley but also because I recognized two names from the four players, Antoine Chessex on tenor saxophone and Christian Wolfarth on percussion. The other two members are Frantz Loriot, who is well-known in these pages, even when most of his works are reviewed by someone else, on viola and Cedric Piromalli on piano. Dolf Mulder reviewed an earlier work from them in Vital Weekly 1107, but as I was playing this record, I was quite attracted to the music. Perhaps it was the minimalism that I found so attractive in both pieces they recorded in August 2019 at the Kunstraum Walcheturm in Zürich. Especially in 'Ether', I'd say, when they use the surface of the instruments for their playing along with some very controlled excursions on the instruments. Loriot's viola being scraped and sounding like radio waves, while Chessex plays jazz-like tones, and Wolfarth's imitates radio waves upon his cymbals. Everything is kept well under control by all four players here; there is no outburst of any kind, no big bang to work too. The same level of control is also to be found on the other side of the record, in 'Litanie', but now it is all very busy and hectic, and yet, controlled. Here the drum rolls on, using the toms, and everybody else is playing clustered notes and within these clusters, they allow small variations. All of this in a very minimal way; maximum music with minimal means. That's the way I like them and this jazz, improvised and some electro-acoustic version worked very well for me. (FdW)
––– Address: https://wideearrecords.bandcamp.com/
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - HOMININE PARTS 4 TO 6 (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
It’s hard to believe that Doc Wör Mirran has 178 releases under their belt. The more you think about it, the more unfathomable it is. But it’s true. They do. Their 178th, ‘Hominine Parts 4 to 6’, has to be one of their strongest too. For 43-minutes it’s a constantly moving piece of free jazz noise. As usual Joseph B. Raimond is at the helm, along with Stefan Schweiger, Michael Wurzer and Adrian Gormely. They’re also joined by Frans de Waard and EMERGE. These two guest spots give the music a slightly different vibe. de Waard brought swaths of cut-up white noise through radio receivers and cassettes and EMERGE supplied abstract noise compositions that utilise guitars, samples, and anything else close to hand. The resulting album has moments of absolute joy, underpinned by dank soundscapes.
This is typified on ‘Hominine Part 5’. Opening with abstract electronic sounds, the song slowly starts incorporating all the things that make Doc Wör Mirran great. Shronky horns, random sounds appearing, then vanishing never to return and abstract loops. About a third in the sound of a radio slowly being tuned in an out starts to make an appearance. As the sheer randomness of ‘Hominine Part 5’ starts to build as does this feeling of malaise. At first, you don’t notice it, but a feeling of oppression, and claustrophobia, starts to build. By the time, the final third kicks in it’s all-consuming. However, something is comforting about the oppressive nature of the music. As it is all-consuming you don’t really have any room to focus on anything else. It slowly draws you into its seething mass of feedback and short horn blasts.
The three tracks that make up ‘Hominine Parts 4 to 6’ were recorded in one live session in December 2017. As the tracks were improvised live, the album has a real immediacy to it. There is a sense of urgency to it too. Will it go wrong? Will it be something seminal? Will the song ever end, or will the band be locked in the groove forever? Luckily, the players display the right amount of disdain and respect for the listeners. They give us exactly what we are after but also a massive dose of things we aren’t. It’s pretty playful in places too. Doc Wör Mirran has never shied from incorporating beats into their dissonate soundscapes. On ‘Hominine Part 6’ they do this again. There is something delightful about listening to things abrasive, that also has a nice bouncy beat to it. Overall ‘Hominine Parts 4 to 6’ is an excellent list that mostly delivers what it sets out to. Yes, some moments don’t work as well as you’d hope, most notably ‘Hominine Part 4’ is more miss than hit, but it’s still a captivating listen. But after 178 releases we’ll cut Doc Wör Mirran some slack… (NR)
––– Address: https://emerge.bandcamp.com/
COSA VOSTRA - TRAVELING AROUND (WITH VOL. 1 & 2 (2CDR by Bli.de. House & Rec)
The name here is a wordplay on the mafia's 'Cosa Nostra', 'our business', and cosa vostra is 'your business'. You may not have heard of this project before, but behind is Paolo Ielasi, of whom I reviewed some work before, but here goes out a different musical journey. The cover details some personal insight into the death of his father in November 2020 and which caused a rift in the family. I am not sure if that also prompted this new musical direction. Whereas the few releases I heard from him so far deal with minimal electronics, quiet, pensive music, the material here uses tape-loops of voices and field recordings, along with electronics, but this time not always in a quiet modus. There is throughout these eighteen pieces a more musical touch to the material, such as the piano loop(s) in 'pre-rec manzyi' or in 'Johann Sebastian Bach & Genn Gould's Variation no.1'; the fact that there are titles is also something new for Ielasi. Strange as I think some of this music is, I also enjoy it quite a bit. For instance, 'Comp' is a lovely drone piece with some exotic drone singing on top, and that reminded me of Dead Can Dance, but minimal and stretched out over twelve minutes. It is a wonderfully weird, mixed bag of music here, and a colourful journey. Sometimes it is quiet and spacious, but also towards plunderphonics, field recordings and minimalism. And, last but certainly not least, at times, just damn musical, such as the slowed-down guitars of 'Jonas Mekas'. I enjoyed his previous work, but this I like even better. If this is his next musical move, then I foresee a most promising future for this. (FdW)
––– Address: https://paoloielasi.bandcamp.com/
ROVAR17 & THE THREE-BRAINED ROBOT (split cassette)
FIXATEUR EXTERNE - A FEKETE GONG (cassette by Unsigned)
Although both of these tapes were in the same parcel, I am not sure what the connection is. The only one I could see is that the musician behind Rovar17 is also the person (one of) behind the Hungarian label Unsigned. Rovar 17 has two tracks on the split cassette with The Three-Brained Robot ("weirdo performance artist, established 2008") and they do what they do best and that is playing looped noise, without necessarily a lot of rhythm, but rather more sequenced with lo-fi samples, quite a bit of suppressed distortion and ditto voices. These two tracks are up to their usual standard of industrial music, noise but, oddly perhaps, also a song structure.
The Three-Brained Robot has shorter songs and fills up their/his fourteen minutes from a more poppy end of electronic music, although the start of 'Song Bear' is loud and distorted. There are funny tunes and similar lyrics about 'Mac & Cheese', or a rendition of Trio's 'Da Da Da' as 'Together Forever', which shows this man has humour. The sound balance between these tracks is a bit odd, with one very much louder than the rest, but otherwise, this is great stuff. I can imagine this working very well on stage with crazy customes and a wild act. Very German, I thought, despite this being from New Orleans, but then, wasn't that the hometown of Mr Quintron and Miss Pussycat? Maybe they are the parents of the Three-Brained Robot?
Fixateur Externe I reviewed before (Vital Weekly 1191) and I don't remind that one, but reading that review again, I wondered what happened with the project. The previous release was very noise-based whereas this new one is very much free improvised music Now the band contains bass, drums, flute, humming, backing vocals, lead vocals, saxophone, toy, effects and loops. The latter two are played by Rovar17, who seems to the one of the few who is present on all five pieces. This is a long cassette, clocking in over an hour, and it contains some very wild music. It was recorded in a concert situation, in different locations and I found it not easy to take in all at once (and yes, I realize that is not necessary). Only 'Ginger Wine', the closing piece here, seemed to have a different approach, in which Rovar17 plays the lead with distorted loops of similar distorted sounds and that has, superficially, at least very little to do with the other four tracks. It shares that hardcore sonic overload though with the rest. (FdW)
––– Address: https://thethreebrainedrobot.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://havizaj.bandcamp.com/
LDQ YSIMARO/ANAMORPH EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC (cassette by Neus-318)
While, spoiler alert, the differences between both acts are marginal, I believed the first time I played this, it was just one artist, LDQ Ysimaro with a release called 'Anamorph Experimental Music', but it is a split cassette by two Japanese acts I had not heard of before. LDQ Ysimaro started in 2019, by playing the Lyra 8 synthesizer, and it's distortion and has since a release on Basement Corner Emissions. Her 'The Sorceress Of Light' is a very tight piece of drone music, all frequencies save one close together. The one that is far away is a high-pitched frequency that lingers on throughout the piece, of which the bottom end slowly changes over its duration. This is from the department of power drones, I'd say. Anamorph Experimental Music was originally an audio-visual project to explore "flora and fauna, insects, instruments and tribal behaviour, in the South American rainforests where the artists have lived for many years". Upon buying hydrophones and contact microphones (courtesy of Jez Riley), the environment has been recorded and now the project (gender unknown) uses acoustic instruments, voice, noise, and samplers and here the fifteen-minute piece is also minimal but less static in approach. You could see this as part of the bigger scene of modular synthesizer composers, feeding field recordings, voice and, towards the end, bell sounds to the mix, and all this makes a dark piece of ritual music. It could be two pieces of the same project, I thought upon first listening but upon closer inspection, the differences were too big to be from the same musician. I liked both sides, with a preference for the second. (FdW)
––– Address: https://neus318.bandcamp.com/