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DAVE SEIDEL - INVOLUTION (2CD by Experimental Intermedia) *
KIDSNAP - KIDSNAP’S BOOK OF EARLY HUMAN SONGS (CD by Sono Sordo) *
QUATUOR MINÉRALISTE – BEAUTÉ ANTÉRIEURE (CD by Sono Sordo) *
JANE & THE MAGICK BANANAS (CD by Sono Sordo) *
CHARBONNIER & MARCHETTI - DE L'ANGLE MORT (CD by Label Rebelle) *
CHRISTIAN RØNN - NAVN (CD by Nische) *
TAKAHIRO KAWAGUCHI - THREE GLASSES (CD by Immeasurable) *
LUIGI MOSSO, MASSIMO SIMONINI, VINCENZO VASI - FUORIFORMA (CD by I Dischi di Angelica) *
YANNIS KYRIADKIDES & TOMOKO MUKIYAMA - LA MODE (CD by Unsounds) *
EXTREMA RATIO - A DANGEROUS METHOD (CD by ADN Records) *
ONES - A GOING CONCERN (CD by Ongoing Discipline) *
RED WIN AND SUGAR - BENCHMARKS/STARK (CD by Ongoing Discipline) *
TERRITOIRE - ETUDE DE LA PROFONDEUR (CD by Humo Internacional) *
KEITH BERRY - VIABLE SYSTEMS 4 (CD by VSM Theory) *
JULIO TORNERO - PALINGENISIA (LP by Verlag System)
MB - ARMAGHEDON (LP by Verlag System) *
RICK SANDERS - FOUR PIECES (CDR by No Beat records) *
ESTHER VENROOIJ - SOUNDING THINGS OUT (book by Onomatopee)
DAN POWELL - FOUR WALKS AT OLD CHAPEL (cassette by Cronica Electronica) *
A SPIRALE & ALEXEI BORISOV - COMPACTSTICK (cassette by Tribe Tapes) *
DIT SESE (cassette by invisible City Records) *
TATRAS - THE LEONIDS (cassette by invisible City Records) *
ANDY KLINGENSMITH - ANDERWEITIG WELT (cassette by invisible City Records) *
SHOVEL DANCE COLLECTIVE/C. JOYNES (cassette by Betwixt & Between)
DAVE SEIDEL - INVOLUTION (2CD by Experimental Intermedia)
This is release number 143 by the New York-based label Experimental Intermedia. I remember when they started as I was a volunteer at V2, before they were a big-time multi-media art institute, and we bought the early releases from the label. That was in the late 80s, and I wish I could say otherwise, but I haven't always kept up with the releases from this label, which, playing this new double CD by Dave Seidel, is something to regret. They are still exploring the minimal music angle and after more than thirty years this happens to be one of my interests as well. I believe this is his second full-length release. Both discs are well over an hour long. To repeat what the booklet tells us about the way the music was created is not easy, as it is all rather technical, dealing with all sorts of scales. The back cover of this release says that the first disc was made with a modular synthesizer and Csound and everything was recorded in real-time and a single take, with a sequencer driving the pitches. The second disc has six pieces of exactly the same length (13:06, save the last one, 13:03) and "was made with Csound on a laptop, driven by Python and rendered to a series of sound files". I tried and failed to understand how it was all made, but I tried and succeed to like the music. I do like it a lot. This is all very minimal with drone-like sounds from a mid-range frequency area and sounds have different, irregular lengths, I think, so when shifting around the interactions are different all the time. All of these pieces, on both discs, have a slow pace, and at times seemingly random events, but there is also something very soothing about all of this. This is music to be played in a relatively low volume and let this fill up your space. Too loud might not work so well; at least, in my experience. Even when I know this is all modular synthesizers and software, there were quite a several times when I believed these are wind instruments; a tuba on the first disc and harmonica on the second, but then a bit sharper and edgier. Unlike, say, Phill Niblock, the music from Seidel has a beautiful cadence to it, rocking back and forth like a boat. I was also reminded of some later work by Paul Panhuysen. This is all beautiful minimal music from the house that is still a strong player in this field. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.xirecords.org
KIDSNAP - KIDSNAP’S BOOK OF EARLY HUMAN SONGS (CD by Sono Sordo)
QUATUOR MINÉRALISTE – BEAUTÉ ANTÉRIEURE (CD by Sono Sordo)
JANE & THE MAGICK BANANAS (CD by Sono Sordo)
Multi-instrumentalist Michel F.Côté is a long-time associate of the Ambiances Magnétiques-collective, with musicians like René Lussier, André Duchesne, Jean Derome, Joanne Hétu, etc. Côté is one of the most active of them in the last few years and is known for his very mixed projects and collaborations: Mecha Fixes Clocks, Klaxon Gueule, Pink Saliva. On his own Sono Sordo-label, he presents three of his latest collaborations that illustrate once more the creativity of this artist. Three projects that move in very different directions. All three exciting recordings in their own way! Jane & The Magick Bananas is a trio of Sam Shalabi (electric guitar), Alexandre St.Onge (electric bass) and Michel F. Côté (drums). This trio released the first statement in 2012. This time they are guested by Yves Charuest who plays a prominent role on saxophone alto. Prominent however is not the right word. All four equally take part in this hectic and boiling set. The opening track starts very ‘Ornettetesque’. Also in the other improvisations, Coleman is never far away. And there is nothing wrong with that. So you can imagine how this one sounds: as if every participator follows its route, nevertheless it makes one complex and fascinating whole. In a very energetic and dynamic communication, they construct their polyrhythmic music, with great nervous twangy guitar playing by Shalabi, restless movements by St.Onge on bass, etc. A lovely work of free music, with elements of jazz, rock, etc. Always moving around a strong nucleus that holds everything together. The recordings date from November 2018. A few months later, in February 2019 Kidsnap recorded their album. Kidsnap is Maya Kuroki (voice, feedback), Catherine Tardif (voice), Michel F.Côté (voice, drums, drums feedback, keyboards, lapsteel, Dictaphone, plastic bone), and Zénon Léo Stoll (chant fugace). I don’t hesitate to call it songs what they fabricate. Although we hear in most of the 14 works abstract electronic textures with sparse non-rhythmic percussion. The singing is very sensual and expressive. Opening track ‘I Doudi Doudou’, but also others like ‘Hoa Ché Ché NaÏ’- have an almost ethnic feel as if we are visiting some fictional old ‘primitive’ culture. The electronics by Côté gives each song its own colour and special atmosphere. This is very intuitive music moving along delicate and breakable paths. Quatuor Minéraliste offers something very different. We are talking here of a quartet of Tiari Kese (violin, reconstruction, composition, direction), Gaspard Petchlin (violin), Demetrio Stech (alto sax), Jade de LaRoche (cello) and Michel F.Côté (percussion, arrangements, voice, live electronics). Yes, a quartet, as Bulgarian composer and musician Tiari Kese is Côté himself. Liner notes explain what this project is about: “Beauté Antérieure is made of 7 variations of Apartment House 1777: 44 Harmonies, from John Cage (arrangements for strings quartet by Irvine Arditti)”. The music is built from short – almost fragmented – serene phrases played by violin, viola or cello. They make the impression as if something is left out, which creates a beautiful early music-like atmosphere. Very beautiful. In contrast, we hear in the opening track ‘Z se balance’ an up-tempo electronic mechanistic rhythmic pattern. A very odd combination resulting in a very alienating and questioning effect. Throughout very different electronic-dominated textures are created, that accompany the contemplative string movements. They differ from rhythm-based to very abstract soundscapes. Like in ‘Gencives, sourire à l’avenant’ that has some undefinable sounds in the background. Besides the very contrasting manoeuvres, the music is also full of subtleties, for example in the sometimes slightly manipulated acoustic sound of the string instruments. A very strange hybrid and captivating work. (DM)
––– Address: https://michelfct.bandcamp.com/
CHARBONNIER & MARCHETTI - DE L'ANGLE MORT (CD by Label Rebelle)
From the two, I know the music from Lionel Marchetti quite well, even when I didn't hear all of it, and Patrick Charbonnier is a new name for me. From the liner notes/credits in French I understand he plays the "daxophone, trombone, percussions, amplified objects", whereas Marchetti takes control of (not translated) "synthétiseurs, percussions, clarinette, boîte à rythmes Roland CR-78, flûte à bec, flûte indienne, Revox A77, traitements divers…", so there you are. The most surprising element was the rhythm box Roland CR78 in there, which I love for its sound, and I was looking forward to hearing how it was used here. After an hour of some great music, the answer to that question was hard to answer. Maybe it is that odd percussion sound in '46° 343763' N, 4° 552748' E'? But that might also be just real percussion. That one is a great piece of slow-moving tones from the various wind instruments, electronics, field recordings and the odd bang on a can percussion. You find that in the middle of this release, an oasis of tranquillity among four pieces of similar slow motion, with a bit louder, abrasive cracking of objects, crude electronics, feedback via amplification of wind instruments ('Envoûtement') and such like, but the music is never a brute force, noise or such a thing. Au contraire, as the French say, I found much of this remarkable musical, at times even melodic, halfway through 'Vers La Sérénité' for instance, where the wind instruments play a beautiful sad melodic line or two, and there is a fine organ part. The percussion of 'Je Suis Gong' is quite exotic and slips out of control when the reel-to-reel manipulation sets in, which is also one of the great strengths of the music; it is musical, but also still quite de tour de force of musique concrète techniques, electro-acoustic improvisation and with five excellent pieces as the result of that. Not sure why the end of the last piece is mostly blank, but with a bit at the end, which is, I think, the second bonus that is in the Bandcamp version of the CD; quite curious that, and with all the flute and insect sounds a perfect exotic ending. (FdW)
––– Address: https://label-rebelle.bandcamp.com/
CHRISTIAN RØNN - NAVN (CD by Nische)
In the past, I reviewed some music from Christian Rønn (VItal Weekly 1010, 1097 and 1142), and he plays various keyboards; be a Würlizer organ, church organ and electronics. Here he plays the piano on 'Navn', which is Danish for 'name'. The music was recorded during the lockdown of 2020 and with each comes a poem; "These are in Danish, and are supposed to supply the listener with an extra angle to the listening-experience. The somewhat abstract lyrics can easily be experienced without listening to the sounds, as can the music, without connecting to the lyrics." Which, so I think, limits the audience quite a bit; Danish, so I think, doesn't rank the top 100 of languages around the world (I might be wrong), but sure, maybe we can listen to the music, and not care about the words. We always can. The music is very much along the lines of modern classical music, as far as I can oversee such matters. Rønn plays the piano with some elegance and for once this is not along the lines of Erik Satie, but rather abstract and something seemingly random, with harsh attack times, and yet it doesn't lose a lyrical touch, such as in 'Rite'. This random composing process in 'Den Kolde Skinne' made me think if some Cageian random note selecting process composed the music, but just as well, this might be all be played in real-time by Rønn. This is not easy listening to piano music and the thirty-seven minutes require quite a bit of concentration on behalf of the listener. Quite rewarding actually! (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.nische.bandcamp.com
TAKAHIRO KAWAGUCHI - THREE GLASSES (CD by Immeasurable)
So far I have got to know the releases by the Japanese Label Immeasurable as quite conceptual ones and this one is no different. There is a description of the process and on Bandcamp, and how it sounds on the CD. As these descriptions are short and not easy to summarize, I quote the entire text: "Droplets of water are set to drip from three infusion containers suspended from the ceiling, each at a different speed. Each of the three players produces sound by rubbing with their fingers a wine glass that catches the droplets from one of the containers, with the scale changing according to the amount of water that accumulates. The first track documents this process for ten minutes, during which the players continuously watched the water droplets fall. The second track documents the players continually rubbing the glasses until the water dripping is complete. Both tracks make it audible how the level of 300cc water gradually shifts. "The drops are at different rates in the second piece, but that is not something I could have told you from analysing the music. The sound of the finger-upon-wineglass is something of an acquired taste (like wine, perhaps), but as someone who loves experimental drone-based music and also as someone who loves things to be different, this is quite the experience. The first piece, which cuts out halfway, and we only hear droplets, didn't quite do it for me, but the second piece, spanning thirty-eight minutes of music, would have been great enough to be on the CD by itself. Throughout this piece, the sound starts harsh and brittle, but then due time slowly dies out, I assume because of the glasses filling up, changing the resonant frequencies of the glasses. All along one hears a bit of water dripping, which I quite enjoyed and for once didn't want me to make a run for the bathroom. The sheer minimalism works very well here, along with the conceptual edge of it, and yet it is also very musical. This is an occasion where a good concept doesn’t get in the way of some great music, which is, sadly, not always the case. (FdW)
––– Address: https://immeasurable.bandcamp.com/
LUIGI MOSSO, MASSIMO SIMONINI, VINCENZO VASI - FUORIFORMA (CD by I Dischi di Angelica)
Every once in a while, you come across an album that leaves you perplexed. After listening to it you are unsure what to make of it. In fact, you know less than before you pressed play. Before you did listen to it, there was a vague idea of what to expect. After you are unsure what you’ve actually heard. ‘Fuoriforma’ by Luigi Mosso, Massimo Simonini and Vincenzo Vasi is one of these albums.
The album consists of 80-tracks spread over 65-minutes. Then factor in that the final track is over 12-minutes long and you can probably work out some of these tracks are noticeably short. This gives the album a very disjointed feeling. Take ‘Fughe II’. Throughout its 39-second duration, we are taking through melodramatic organ, searing bass solos and flamenco guitar. Then factor in that ‘Fughe I’ didn’t really sounds like this and the album starts to take on a new meaning. Or does it? ‘Piani’, ‘Colle’ sound like Herb Alpert on speed. Which makes sense as the songs are all over in less than 20-seconds. ‘Avec’ at two-minutes long is one of the longer tracks on the album. It sounds like the Paddington the Bear theme tune, or any other kids show theme from the 1970s. It has a wonderful sway to it, but with this jocular energy that really does bring a smile to your face on a wet and grey afternoon. As this afternoon is wet and grey a smile is very much needed. The longest track on the album is ‘Parole in Movimento’. Here you really get an idea of what Mosso, Simonini and Vasi can do. Effectively it's everything we’ve heard so far but given time to develop at its own pace. It is a slow-moving thing of beauty. Haunting chimes ricochet over surging tape loops, records, and live instrumentation. There is a stark beauty to it, but this feels like a functional affair, rather than something warm and embracing. In all fairness, this goes in its favour. When a playful motif appears it really does bring something to the recording and breaking up the abstractions with a gentle lift.
After playing the album a few more times, there is a method to the madness. The album was recorded by Mosso, Simonini and Vasi, three musicians from Bologna. These recordings make the start of their trio work with the songs fit into three camps. The first is a fake karaoke. Vasi and Mosso sang to record played by Simonini randomly. The second is just improvisational jams and finally ‘Parole in Movimento’ the album’s epic closer. The trio used a random voice recording from Radio Maria, an Italian religious radio station, which the players individually manipulated to creates movements of different lengths. When combined the music has this live disjointed feeling that you get at a variety type show, where the compare doesn’t know what’s coming next or how long it’ll last. Of these recordings Mosso, Simonini and Vasi asked the listener to create their own running order based on how the songs worked for them.
What ‘Fuoriforma’, loosely translated to ‘Out of Form’ does really well is create a discombobulated world that is populated with short, sharp songs. Some are fragments of ideas. Others are just punchlines without the joke. Others, however, are more fully formed where the musicians have shown their workings in the margin. What the album isn’t is boring. At no point do you know what will come next, and this is its saving grace. I have been listening to the album for a few hours now and I’m still none the wise what any of it is about. All I know is that it’s enjoyable. Well, I think it is, but one thing is certain it’s definitely out of form. (NR)
––– Address: https://www.aaa-angelica.com/aaa/
YANNIS KYRIADKIDES & TOMOKO MUKIYAMA - LA MODE (CD by Unsounds)
Originally ‘La Mode’ was a concert installation conceived and performed by Tomoko Mukaiyama with music by Yannis Kyriakides in 2016. Four years later Kyriakides recorded the music from this performance during the first lockdown. The recorded music is different from the score that was performed, but the concept remains the same. Exposing the two sides of the fashion industry. One that consists of glamour and consumerism and another of insecurity and alienation. The music also juxtaposes the musical world against the dance-driven music heard in the fashion industry.
The main thing about ‘La Mode’ is how extravagant it all sounds. From the exquisite piano work to the sound of a typewriter, I think it’s a typewriter on ‘Early Morning’, to the delicate vocals on ‘Dress Code’. It all just sounds huge, but not imposing. In fact it’s the opposite. ‘La Mode’ is a very intimate and welcoming piece of music. When I first read the sleeve notes and did some more research I thought it was going to be an incredibly dense and incomprehensible piece of music, but instead, it’s light, lyrical and very lively. While I have never seen the performance, but in my head, I can see graceful dancing and acrobatic moves.
What is wonderful about ‘La Mode’ is how playable it is. From start to finish it slowly pulls you into its world. A world of elongated piano runs. Cascading soundscapes and luxuriant melodies. Take the closing track ‘Ito Rumba’. It starts gracefully, but about a third in the music starts to take on a sinister bent before a beat kicks in and a party vibe takes over. Here we have the glamour and the alienation that the album is trying to get to the heart of. Does one exist without the other? The answer to this is down to the listener. (NR)
––– Address: https://unsounds.com/
EXTREMA RATIO - A DANGEROUS METHOD (CD by ADN Records)
Extrema Ratio lives up to their name. The name relates to the maximum or minimum value of a function in maths. The music here is both maximum and minimum. Sometimes at the same time. Normally there is a rule for a member of a band to stand out and the rest plays around them, but here no one appears to be in charge. Everyone is pulling at once. Sometimes in different directions. .xlaidox.’s vocals. Alessandro Cartolari sax, Valdjau Kathportha’s electronics and Diego Rosso’s drums combine to create something pleasurable but also massively unpleasant. And we’re grateful for them.
A William S. Burroughs sample “Apocalypse. Consider an apocalyptic state. Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. Everything is permitted because nothing is true” kicks off their debut album ‘A Dangerous Method’. Whilst you are making sense of it, huge horns, dense electronics, sparse percussion and biting vocals kick in. It’s disorienting but compelling. ‘Naked Convolutions’ is a great introduction to the album. Everything to follow is hidden in plain sight. ‘Lust of Death’ is more of the same, but everything has been ramped up. The horns sound like a wounded beast. The electronics wouldn’t feel out of place on a HyperDub album. In short. It’s wonderful.
Throughout ‘A Dangerous Method’ the music is a mixture of shronk, punk/DIY, bass music and spoken word diatribes. It has wonderful throb to it. The saxophone is devastating. During ‘Lust of Death’ there are sections when Cartolari is just blowing for all he’s worth. Kathportha’s electronics are pure filth, Rosso’s drums are being slammed and .xlaidox.’s vocals are distorted beyond comprehension. It’s brilliant. None of it really belongs together but it works incredibly well. It sounds like four random strangers met and just started playing. It feels pure and without an objective. Other than playing. However, there are moments of tender beauty. ‘Theorem’ is filled with sensuous sax that billows from the speaks. It is warm, friendly and, most importantly, counterbalances the electronic static blips and guttural, and primal, screams.
‘A Dangerous Method’ is a fascinating album that yields more with each listen. At times it feels like the howls of something in pain, and it probably is in all fairness, but at other times it is comforting with pangs of pathos. This isn’t an album to get lost in but to try and escape from, because once it starts you are trapped in its labyrinthine maze with some hulking mythic creature on your trail. (NR)
––– Address: http://adnrecords.com/
ONES - A GOING CONCERN (CD by Ongoing Discipline)
RED WIN AND SUGAR - BENCHMARKS/STARK (CD by Ongoing Discipline)
This has 'introduction' written all over it; the label and the musicians, all seem new to me. These are catalogue numbers OD2 and OD3; I have no idea what OD1 is. Maybe something to be released? Behind Ones, we find a duo from Brooklyn, Daniel Mitha and Nick Philips and this CD is a collection of early cassette releases, which by the Discogs looks of it, is material recorded between 2004 and 2007, and the longest piece is previously unreleased. There are no instruments mentioned on the cover, but the press text talks about "junk electronics, cheap stringed-instruments and other detritus of modern urban living". Maybe that holds a promise of something noise-based but that it is not. There are six pieces, in total just under thirty-seven minutes, which made me think why not release all the duo's entire yet sparse output? I liked what I heard, and I wouldn't have minded a bit more. This is from the department of improvised music, division electro-acoustic, sub-section of the noisy area. Ones use manipulation quite extensively, from what seems to be reel-to-reel speed change abuse, Dictaphone work and turntable abuse ("detritus of modern urban living"!), this all not-so noisy improvised music, with a rather delicate approach to their junk and instruments, and the mild distortions that are possible. Loops play a role, and I would think they are from the old reels rather than loop devices. The rumbling of objects and strings in 'IIA' and 'IIB' is very acoustic, which not only makes an interesting different approach but also reminded me of early Merzbow (when he didn't have all his stompboxes yet). This is all a highly varied disc and sadly too short (not to repeat what I said earlier!).
Also, Red Wine And Sugar are a duo, Mark Groves and Samaan Fieck from Melbourne. They released two LPs and two cassettes and a compilation (which seems early in their career). Again, no instruments are mentioned on the cover, and listening to this music is not easy to tell. I hear 'small sounds', amplified, perhaps, with the use of contact microphones, some electronics, a keyboard/electric piano, toys and voice. Although in both pieces (eleven and thirteen minutes) the voice comes in quite late, it plays an essential in both pieces. The voice doesn't sing but recites a text, which, as always, I am clueless about (me and poetry, you know), but thee is a desolate meander about it. The press text mentions Robert Ashley and I can see that link with the music of Red Wine And Sugar but perhaps also The Shadow Ring. The music is very quiet and introspective at times, but not always; it is not particular drone-based, not improvised and at times rather musical. It is all in the details here, where you discover complexity in the music. It is all rather meticulously planned, so it seems to me, this poetry/story set to music, moving from one scene to the next, with the totality of the finished composition and throughout with lots of variation and much care for the details. There is a keen sense of drama here, I would think and even when I didn't grasp that drama, it sounded great. Not something I would play a lot, because the text and voice are so important, but something to hear again. (FdW)
––– Address: http://ongoingdiscipline.com
TERRITOIRE - ETUDE DE LA PROFONDEUR (CD by Humo Internacional)
Before Territoire was a band, but now it is a solo project of Oliver Arson and while the previous work saw him playing synths, sampler, voice and processing, this time he uses eight granular samplers, "the Max Granulator device from Robert Henke", which I believe is a plug-in for Ableton Live in which Arson processed "a feed of synthesized sounds, mainly a semi-modular percussive machine and a raw voltage-inspired digital instrument" and the music was performed in a converted farmhouse "with exceptional acoustics", in Iceland. It is the "study of the fall of an object", in which Arson translated the various physical parameters of the state it is in, into a graphic score. The results are certainly quite different from the previous release I heard from the group. The music is the result of twelve days playing with this material and the main (title) piece here is a collage of that, while the other is one of those improvisations, almost unedited. The title piece is almost sixteen minutes and 'Alliage' is close to ten, making this quite a short release. I am not sure what to make of this release. The music is quite abstract, but it left me somewhat, somewhat distant. Arson plays his music with quite some force, and the volume overload is not the problem here; it is that nothing in here grabbed me or held my attention. All the listener knows is that this someone working with granular synthesis; nothing about the sound of falling objects. The source material could have been a geyser on Iceland for all we know. Curiously, I found 'Alliage' more interesting because of the way it was played; careful but with some fine intense, if not a bit long in some places. (FdW)
––– Address: http://trrtr.com
KEITH BERRY - VIABLE SYSTEMS 4 (CD by VSM Theory)
The previous instalment of Viable Systems wasn't that long ago (Vital Weekly 1259), and now the fourth one arrives. The gap between two and three was bigger. I can only speculate about the speed and would think this is because the COVID-19 pandemic keeps Berry housebound and what else can you do, other than doing new music. By now, Berry has a clear vision of what he wants with his music and number four is very similar to the previous three works in this series. While much of this stays in very much the same musical territory as before, and it is hard to write about such things in renewed glowing terms, (see what I said last time about!) I think there the devil here is in the details. I still have very little idea as to what Berry does with his sound and how it is all generated. There is the well-known piano sound, set against an ambient background that reminded me of the best of Brian Eno doing ambient music, but I believed to be hearing guitars as well and in 'Liminal State' the sound was broken up with an effect that reminded me of an eroded tape. There is quite a bit of variation in the various moods and textures here, some between lighter and some darker, some very smooth and some a bit rough. Oddly enough, the last one I played on a quiet Saturday afternoon, and so I did with this one, and again on random/shuffle repeat for quite some time and again pondering over the fact that an application in which the listener is allowed to control sounds that Berry produces would indeed be something to desire. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.vsmtheory.com/
JULIO TORNERO - PALINGENISIA (LP by Verlag System)
MB - ARMAGHEDON (LP by Verlag System)
And for now something completely different. I think I wrote a few weeks ago that I love my job but after long days of improvised music, electro-acoustics and drones, I enjoy a change of scenery every now and then. Maybe that explains my love for dub music while I do the dishes. But the music of Julio Tornero is also a perfect medicine to take. He was working as Poligno Hindu Astral and later a member of Antiguo Regimen, which is described as a post-punk band. Later on, he worked under his own name, and in a collaborative project such as Zotal and Madrelarva. Femur Records released his first 12" in early 2018 and now there is the full-length album 'Palingenisia'. Tornero plays electronic music with a hard, rhythmic edge; a sound that could be described as industrial or EBM, or even techno for that matter. It is body music. It is very hard to sit down and do nothing. Something will move; head, feet, hand. It is not necessarily all very up-tempo, and yet it is moving music. Each of the ten pieces is a minimal affair. Tornero starts a rhythm, a sequence, and adds a few synth lines and then it rolls on for the amount of time a song takes. Sometimes there is a break, followed by an extra layer of synths or beats, and it rocks on. The music is dry and clinic, but that's how I like these best. Music to play loud and doing the dishes (by the absence, of course, of a party where this should be enjoyed at full volume). I didn't keep up with Esplendor Geometrico's recent work, but there is certainly something of an influence to be noticed, along with Absolute Body Control and Suicide Commando or others from the 80s and Belgium.
Also, industrial but old is 'Armaghedon' by Maurizio Bianchi, better known as M.B. It was original released in 1984, and has been re-issued and bootlegged a couple of times since then. At that time, it was the last record from M.B., having become a Jehovah's Witness and thinking that Armageddon was impending and the end was near. However, it is the name of the prophesied location of the end battle, Har Maghedon, the mount of Megiddo. When M.B. found that he "was happy to share this message of hope for the future, so that the word Armaghedon must never again be synonymous with decadent destruction but rather with the ascending restoration of a new world system governed by the Theocratic Kingdom, for the benefit of all followers who consider Armaghedon as the definitive neuronal liberation." 2020 was not an easy year for the world, with dead taking its toll. That might be a very good reason to re-issue a remastered version of this work. Two parts of the title pieces, spanning twenty-three minutes of cold, distant and highly captivating electronic music. The synthesizers are in a bath of reverb and delay, many delays actually, and it starts as abruptly as it begins; there is no form, no composition, just this endless plucks on the keyboards, feeding off through a variety of delay pedals, creating shifting music. On the second side, I thought to hear a voice/voices and maybe orchestral bits, but all of that highly transformed. It is the culmination of work M.B. starts at the end of the 70s and that was harsh and industrial, but on this (and the predecessor 'The Plain Truth') he found his unique electronic sound, the bleak dystopian soundtrack that many tried to copy and all failed. (FdW)
––– Address: https://verlagsystem.bandcamp.com/
RICK SANDERS - FOUR PIECES (CDR by No Beat records)
You could easily think this is someone from the UK or the USA but no, he's from the VW home town and, come to think, someone who only need a few steps to hand-deliver it. Biased? You may ask. No, I met the man a few years ago, buying something from me and I can't remember if he mentioned producing music himself. Through the grapevine, I had already picked up the signals (YouTube. Soundcloud) but he's serious and now there is 'Four Pieces', which Sanders describes as a "series of improvised and generative music made with a modular synthesizer system" (list included on the cover). At the basis of each of the four pieces there are short acoustic guitar pieces, which are "looped, randomly cycled and slowly modulated)". Like Queen's 'no synthesizers', here it is proudly mentioned that "each piece is recorded on two (stereo) tracks in one take without any overdubs or further editing". Here are also percussive elements and "strings-type sounds and then treated by granular synthesis". These four pieces are all around eight to ten minutes long and throughout these are very ambient pieces of music. It is not difficult to see Brian Eno's influence in these four pieces, but perhaps I am led by the term generative music. While these four pieces exude tranquillity and quietness, there is that fine dark undercurrent that I like so much when it comes to ambient music. We hear these little acoustic guitar fragments being broken up, pitched up and down (gently, carefully) and the elements of percussion placing an accent left or right, with seemingly irregular intervals. Slow music for a slow day! Dark music for a grey day. Time to sit back and read a book, drink some coffee and let this just play out. When the music is over, I had to get up and needed to decide what was going next? Another album, another review? Nah, not now, this went in rotation again, and I wished I could have been without moving for a bit longer; say with a few more of these. So far, self-released, but I can see Sanders going places with this. The drive to present his work is there, the quality also. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ricksanders.bandcamp.com/
ESTHER VENROOIJ - SOUNDING THINGS OUT (book by Onomatopee)
While listening to music, so I learned over the years, one of the things that I can do best along with that is reading, providing it is not too complicated, philosophical or technical. Through the cracks of the internet, I found plenty of interesting (and not so interesting) autobiographies from musicians, books about labels, genres and so on. Sometimes I even buy a book and it happened to be that the reprinted version of Brian Eno's 'A Year With Swollen Appendices' arrived on the same day as Esther Venrooij's 'Sounding Things Out'. The first is relegated to the nightstand. That contains Eno's diary from 1995, while Venrooij, in need of a review, stayed in the living room for close study. With both books, in which a few personal notes and general interest is mixed, you can wonder, "who is... and why would bother". I would hope Venrooij's book would be as popular as Eno's (or reprinted in 25 years), but laws of popularity predict that not to be the case. Venrooij's book is based upon her dissertation and she tells her journey in the world of sound art, field recordings and music. Personal story mixed with general notes on composers and their compositions. All of this in a rather pleasant style, which I like very much, not particularly interested in writing that is living proof of a well-read dictionary. I am convinced I reviewed the music of her on these pages, but I only found her name in connection with compilations or live presentations (also alternating between Venrooy and Venrooij; the latter being the one used here). She starts her story with her formal training, getting interested in electronic music, and then various examples of her work in installation art and composed and improvised music, set against the bigger picture of composers and what has her interest and whatnot. A very funny story about the time she was the opening act for Einsturzende Neubauten, who in an attempt to be all interested in modern music, hired some of these people as opening acts but in the end, of course, not really interested, what a surprise. About a label owner, who remains unmentioned, tossing all demo's in the bin when he hears one drop of water being part of the music, but also insight in how she works with space and installation pieces, with insight in an e-mail conversation with Ema Bonifacic. I enjoyed her somewhat sceptic style, especially when she talks about boys with expensive toys (my words, not hers) and money to burn to do field recordings in exotic places, without a hint of jealousy. The book is small, 110x150 mm and with the text going towards the spine, not easy to read. It looks great as a design for a book, but designers not always read books. Let that not stop you from reading this lovely little book (144 pages). (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.onomatopee.net/
DAN POWELL - FOUR WALKS AT OLD CHAPEL (cassette by Cronica Electronica)
A few weeks ago I reviewed a CDR by Muster, a duo of James O'Sullivan and Dan Powell. Now the latter appears in a solo capacity. He's also part of The Static Memories and Nil. I don't think I heard his solo work before, so I had no idea what to expect. The recordings here were made at the old Chapel Farm, which is "an adventure in living, which aims to bring people close to the fundamentals of human existence: the creation of food and shelter" Powell visits the place since 2011 with his family and in 2018 he and his daughter collected objects and "gathered them together in a straw bale hut suspended over a stream in a wooded valley which the farm’s owners made available for us to use. We recorded small performances with them, brushing, scraping and rubbing them to produce a wide range of intimate sounds." All of this, combined with field recordings went into the computer back home and re-worked all of these into the four tracks that we find on this cassette. It is a most enjoyable release, of musique concrète proportions, but Powell created something quite playful. It is not about some strict rules of composition, nor does it rely too much on granular synthesis as his more serious peers would do. With Powell's version we hear the field recordings as they were when committed to tape, we hear the cracking and rubbing upon objects, and we encounter small transformations of this, set in a more performance setting, which adds a delicate live electronics feeling to the music. It keeps everything with a beautiful vibrancy together. He overlays his original material with additional electronic material, feedback here, a big, fat drone there, or cut-up collage techniques using the good ol' reel-to-reel machine, adds to the energy and variety of the music, and together with a powerful as well as colourful thirty minutes. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cronica.bandcamp.com/
A SPIRALE & ALEXEI BORISOV - COMPACTSTICK (cassette by Tribe Tapes)
Ten years ago, Alexei Borisov played in Naples, Italy with his duo Astma (with Olga Nosova) and recorded with the local duo of A Spirale, of which the results were released by Viande Records (see Vital Weekly 842) and on his home turf in Moscow, they recorded another album (Vital Weekly 898). Both of these were Astma & A Spirale, now it is time for Borisov (voice, tape, electronics) and Maurizio Argenziano (electric guitar) and Mario Gabola (electronics, no-input mixing board and sax feedback). Recorded days before the world went in lockdown last year and the time since has been used wisely to construct pieces of music out of this. They called their second album something with a "more abstract psych-pop attitude". With that last notion in mind, I listened to this and I would think that, after all these years, they still have an interest in the "abstract psych-pop". Wrongly, as it turns out, I expected some wild improvised music, vibrant and chaotic, but that is not the case. It is wild, it is vibrant, but it is also controlled and organized. I have no idea if this organization is the result of something that already occurred in the studio or, perhaps, afterwards by sticking fragments together. Of course, do not expect this to be pop music of any kind you might remember from the time you played such things on the radio, but with the recurring sounds, the voices, and the way it is constructed this is noise and improvisation in a fruitful meeting of psychedelic madness and weirdo... alright... pop. You'd wish there was more like this! (FdW)
––– Address: https://tribetapes.bandcamp.com/
DIT SESE (cassette by invisible City Records)
TATRAS - THE LEONIDS (cassette by invisible City Records)
ANDY KLINGENSMITH - ANDERWEITIG WELT (cassette by invisible City Records)
From the vast expanding empire of Invisible City Records, we receive a trio of 'newbies'. In the case of Dit Ese, I would think that this is his/her/their first release as I could find much information. The cover simply states that this is a live recording from March 20, 2020, at a place in Tokyo called Forestlimit. No names, no instruments. Two pieces of music, with a total length of thirty minutes. As I noted before, this label deals with all sorts of drone music and Dit Sese is no different. If you are into defying all sorts of sub-sub genres of drone music, then you can place Dit Sese in that corner where things are at their bleakest; a bulb that flickers in the dark. Field recordings are heavily transformed with cheap apparatus I would think, so it all sounds like a leaky nuclear reaction on the verge of collapse. Dystopian music might be overused in this context, but it sure does the trick there. The synthesizer is a monotron working overtime on the first side, before being crushed by the weight of the melting reactor. I have no idea how this material was edited, but it seems a quick fade out at the end of side A and a fade in on the flip does the trick. Lovely brutal drones!
With almost the same ingredients, Tatras from Knoxville, TN, comes to an entirely different result. Behind Tatras is Cain Blanchard, who runs the Park70 label, a brother in drone arms, and who has a few releases. I don't think I heard any of those before. Tatras uses a guitar, perhaps, electronics, surely, and field recordings. Almost the same sort of water dripping as Dit Sese, but here on 'Quiet Earth', which fills up all the first side, there is no leaky nuclear reactor but a slow spacious sound, of overlapping overtones and a soft rumble of objects and an occasional drip; maybe the sound of rowing boat? Something similar in terms of field recordings is to be found on the title track, but now the drones have a bit of urgency and are less delicate, still not anything similar to Dit Sese nightmarish soundtrack. 'Rescind', the second and last piece on this cassette is the darkest and here the drones are at their darkest, and maybe it is played with the guitar, but for all, I know this could be a synthesizer. The field recordings are now left outside (well, not at the beginning, but they are phased out) and Tatras sculpt a fine dark slab of atmospheric tones of a spacecraft slowly harbouring a dock at the mothership, but from a fifties sci-fi film. At thirty-five minutes not enough for my taste!
Andy Klingensmith has one (online) release and this cassette might be the first physical release. Now here Invisible City Records seems to be off course in the opening minutes with spoken word and Dictaphone cut-ups which are more akin to the work of Sindre Bjerga, Eric Lunde or the recent batch of releases on More Mars (see Vital Weekly 1276), but not before long when the drones kick in. Klingensmith's take on the notion is all things lo-fi. I would like to think that he taped all of his stuff on all too often used cassettes and at a lower volume so that when he amplifies what is on the cassette will get an additional layer of hiss. Cracks and other unevenness of the tapes are not cut out but left in and form another part of the music. On these tapes Klingensmith taped field recordings, maybe electric appliances but all the same, they could be synthesizers and, as already mentioned, voice material. The whole thing is quite obscure, but that is the beauty of it. Just what is sound and what is accidental tape hiss, that seems to be a question here, and something I wondered about myself. In the old days, we tried everything to leave hiss out, but these days is an essential part of the music. Odd but a fact! (FdW)
––– Address: https://invisiblecityrecords.bandcamp.com/
SHOVEL DANCE COLLECTIVE/C. JOYNES (cassette by Betwixt & Between)
In the seventh release by this label, we first find the Shovel Dance Collective, a nine-piece group of which Jacken Elswyth, label owner here, is also a part. They "explore the folk traditions of these islands (the UK, I assume) (and beyond) and "while nurturing the history of the source material, the collective brings to it sensibilities drawn from drone, improvisation, and metal. In so doing, they aim to uncover proto-feminist narratives and queer histories and to make heard the voices of the working people that created and create the wealth of the world. It is indeed heavy on the lyrical side, with some fine deep voices and dramatic drones delivery in 'My Husband's Got No Courage In Him", and "Merrily Kissed The Quaker" is by comparison a lighter piece, of banjo, percussion and strings in a joyous piece. 'The Foggy Dew is again a dramatic song of love denied and my least favourite of the three. On the other side we find guitarist C. Joynes, a guitarist from Cambridge, of "C Joynes & The Furlong Bray, an ensemble featuring Dead Rat Orchestra, Cam Deas and Nick Jonah Davis, or working alongside dbh, Gavin Clarke, and Andrew Cheetham as Waterless Hills" but in solo mode. His three pieces were recorded in concert and are all very energetic affairs of fingerpicking quickness. It doesn't sound like anything else we write about, and I am afraid my musical knowledge has a serious lack of knowledge to put this in a proper context, but it sounds great. Full of life and dynamic! (FdW)
––– Address: https://betwixtbetweentapes.bandcamp.com/