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THETA - TOTAL DIVISION (CD by Zoharum) *
GYDJA - AR VAR ALDA (CD by Winter-light) *
RNGMANN - FALSE DAWN (CD by Winter-light) *
IKIZUKURI & SUSANA SANTOS SILVA – SUICIDE UNDERGROUND ORCHID (CD by Multi Kulti Project) *
MAGDA MAYAS’ FILAMENTAL – CONFLUENCE (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
ALEX RIVA - SOLOS AND MORE AT STUDIO 304 (CD by Wide Ear Records) *
LOTUS EDDE KHOURI - 7 LINES (CD by Edition Gamut) *
RANDI PONTOPPIDAN AND SISSEL VERA PETTERSEN - INNER LIFT (CD by Chant Records) *
JON ROSE - STATE OF PLAY (2CD by Rer Megacorp) *
CLINTON WATKINS - RAASWATER (CD by Unfathomless) *
PROF. BERANONI - DREI APOSTASIEN (A SOAP OPERA) (3CD by Beranoni Editions) *
MR MARCAILLE - NO SNARE NO HEADACHE (CD, private) *
THIS ENSEMBLE - BROWN PAPER BUSINESS (2CDR by Shame File Music) *
THIS ENSEMBLE - MY UMBRELLA IS ANOTHER WORD FOR COMMUNITY (CDR by Shame File Music) *
EGG & CRISP - MAKING A MEAL OF THINGS (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
SOLOI SOUNDS - FOUND LINES (CDR by Organic Industries) *
WILDER GONZALES AGREDA - PATROCINADO POR EL GOBIERNO (CDR by Superspace Records) *
CLAUDIO LANDOLT - NICHT DIE FÜLLE / NICHT IDYLLE / NICHT DER BERG - VORDERGLÄRNISCH. BERGPORTRÄT (cassette by Domizil)
DUSO (FEAT. COSTIS DRYGIANAKIS) - DOG HOUSE ON A TREE (cassette by Hxoi Kato apo to Spiti) *
#ALPHASIGMA - NO WAVE (cassette by Hxoi Kato apo to Spiti) *
CORRADO MARIA DE SANTIS - FALLEN (cassette by Into The Void Records) *
CROCODILO SLAM - NASCIDO EM SWAMPLAND (cassette by Municipal K7) *
THETA - TOTAL DIVISION (CD by Zoharum)
The name is theta, but you should use the Greek spelling of that, but I can't find that on this keyboard. Behind Theta is one Themistoklis Altintzoglou from Greece and since 2013 releasing his music. Furthermore, he is a member of Metatag and Isolation, working on Brazilian horror film soundtrack and such. He has his roots in hardcore punk music, which has not a very clear presence in his current work, but he took the guitar into Theta. The first two pieces are quite mellow, with something that indeed Zoharum would release; moody and atmospheric dark ambient music. After that, the guitar takes up a slightly different role. The music gets noisier from here on, even when the dark atmospherics also linger on. It is not an easy marriage I think. I enjoy the darker side of all things ambient, and I never understood the whole ambient metal angle, of which Theta has nothing to with. His guitar playing is loud and noisy, veering towards feedback and so on, with a slightly improvised character, which doesn't match too well with the layers of ambient sound. These are now pushed to the background. I am not very convinced by this album. I liked the first two pieces, and the last one, which is a bonus track with MB, and 'Sea Blasphemy, which was fewer guitars and more synthesizers, but the others didn't work for me. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.zoharum.com
GYDJA - AR VAR ALDA (CD by Winter-light)
RNGMANN - FALSE DAWN (CD by Winter-light)
It seems like some time has passed since I saw releases by the Dutch Winter-light label, and here they present me with two new names. I started with Gydja, the musical project of Abby Helasdottir, who is, a bit of a surprise there, from New Zealand, referred to with 'our'. There are two guest players, providing vocals on two pieces (Lyn Goeringer) and percussion and rainsticks (Serena Helasdottir-Cole), also on two pieces. All the titles are in Icelandic; the label informs me that the title stands for 'In Ancient Times', and provides further translations online, which evoke the same sense of mystery and darkness as the music. In that respect both are well-matched. I believe, Gydja uses electronic sounds, field recordings and heavily treated percussion to create all of this. Come to think, everything might be the result of heavy treatment on everything. The rain recordings, drippings of water, wind through trees and seashores, along with strokes of bells, and sustaining sounds of the synthesizers neatly dark, this is music for the evening and preferable outdoors, to connect with the earthly, ancient theme of the music. Maybe Helasdottir also uses voices of their own making, again, heavily transferred using (granular) synthesis, but in the case of the Goeringer, in her second appearance, she sings angelic, over chirpy synthesizer sounds, which is an odd thing, but it works well. With the rain pouring down outside, this is a perfect soundtrack for a grey day. Nothing new under the dark moon of atmospheric music but produced with great chilling effect.
Behind Rngmann we find Ronny Engmann, who delivers a second release for Winter-Light, following 'Arctic Interference', from 2019, not reviewed in these pages. Here too, the listener remains clueless as to what the musician does in his studio, but it is along the lines of Gydja (and, had I started with Rngmnn, I would have said the same), but with minor differences. The music here is also dark and atmospheric, chilling mostly, but maybe I am distracted by that previous title of his, but Rngmnn uses more percussion than Gydja. Nothing that makes your feet move, obviously, but these are heavy thumps of driftwood washing ashore in what is a surprising steady beat. It might also some Vikings banging an ancient drum. The ubiquitous reverb adds to the polar atmosphere of the music. Whereas the music of Gydja comes across as rather abstract (oddly as that may seem as the titles give you much sense of direction), I found the music by Rgmnn to be rather filmic. I can imagine this to the soundtrack of a failed polar expedition, with the crew snowed under, starvation and ultimately death to all the members. The music of Rgmnn is in that respect also louder than that of Gydj, who is more mellow; but as I said, all of this relative, the differences are minor in the grander scope of things. A certain unified approach in some of these pieces works a bit against the record as a whole, I think, as there is not always too much variation in those bangs. If one sees this as a soundtrack then these musical overlaps make perfect sense (or so I believe that to be with my limited knowledge of film soundtracks). (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.winter-light.nl
IKIZUKURI & SUSANA SANTOS SILVA – SUICIDE UNDERGROUND ORCHID (CD by Multi Kulti Project)
Ikizukuri – a term derived from the Japanese kitchen - is a trio from Portugal comprised of Julius Gabriel (soprano sax), Gonçalo Almeida (bass) and Gustavo Costa (drums, electronic post-production). They debuted in 2018 with the cassette-release ‘Hexum’. Gabriel is of German origin, based in Porto and an active participator in the local scene of this city. Almeida works most of the time from his base in Holland working with John Dikeman, George Hadow, and many, many others. Costa is a drummer and composer. He is a very prominent force of the Porto-scene as director of Sonoscopia, a centre for artists involved in experimental, improvised and electro-acoustic music. Despite corona, during the summer of 2020, the trio had a meeting with Susana Santos Silva, a Portuguese trumpet player, improviser and composer who mainly from Stockholm, Sweden. Together they framed six heavy and hot battles that received strange cryptic titles. Opening track ‘Kindhearted Part Wrestle’ starts great with a jerky and bumpy rhythm by drums and bass. Trumpet and sax join in soon for enthusiastic duelling interplay. This is going to be fun! The electric bass of Almeida plays a prominent role throughout the album, playing from a rough approach with a throbbing and bouncing style. It works a bit monotonous in some of the improvisations but together with inventive drummer Costa, they produce some very energetic conditions, that invite the blowers to do their uttermost best. Halfway ‘Wealth, to the Poison in the Wash’ the heavy music changes into a quiet interlude of echoing, spacy short gestures by trumpet and sax. This works very strangely and unexpected. Later they return to planet earth. They produce a sweltering sound from a rock attitude, reminding me sometimes a bit Spinifex. ‘In the We Some, no S can though’ starts from a great intro by the blowers before the interaction continues with all participating with many speed changes. Again we land up in a spacey interlude that is followed by low and deep textures by bass and drums, creating a dark atmosphere. ‘I a an Failures‘ even starts with a very spacy and open texture of sounds. They play now in a reduced way which is in sharp contrast with the full-energy manoeuvres that dominate this work. The improvisation continues on a dark and low level in a soundscaping way, with sax and trumpet modestly playing their lines. In the closing piece ‘The and Flesh his Resources‘ they once more choice for a hectic and speedy interaction with great playing by Susana Santos Silva. Halfway through this 10-minute exercise, they give room to a fantastic noisy interlude of manipulated sounds, illustrating their choice for risk-taking strategies. A very adventurous trip from a very spirited and promising quartet. (DM)
––– Address: https://multikultiproject.bandcamp.com/
MAGDA MAYAS’ FILAMENTAL – CONFLUENCE (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
Mayas is a Berlin-based pianist with a strong interest in extended techniques and possibilities. Her collaborations – most in duo and trio combinations - are many: Tony Buck, Christine Abdelnour, Biliana Voutchkova, etc. I know her work only very partial. But I guess her latest project ‘Confluence’ is her first one working with an extended line-up. She invited seven excellent musicians to realize her project, which was premiered at the Music Unlimited Festival in Austria in 2019. Participants are Angharad Davies (violin), Anthea Caddy (cello), Aimée Theriot (cello), Rhodri Davies (harp), Zeena Parkins (harp), Michael Thieke (clarinet), Christine Abdelnour (saxophone) and Magda Mayas on piano. The concept for this project is defined by Mayas as follows: “The score consists of 12 photos taken over an hour or so, observing the merging waters of the Rhône and the Arve rivers, the artificial wall dividing them, the earthy, blue and green colours blending.” With projects like these, I always ask myself what more is needed than just a couple of photos to assure the musicians start with the same focus. Anyway, inspired by the confluence of two rivers, we witness a group improvisation that unfolds is a continuous flow of subtle sounds, small movements and little gestures. The richness is in the details that constantly change. The improvisation progresses more or less on the same dynamic level, with changes that come and pass by organically. The improvisation is not so much built from answer-response interactions or contrasting strategies. Far more it has an involvement that has every participator adding its small movements serving to contribute to the soundscape. Resulting in a sound-oriented and very multi-coloured improvisation. Duration is also an essential aspect of this 50-minute improvisation, making it possible to reach a certain state of concentration and become one with the flow. An act of meditation? Well, if you know the joy of just looking at the sky, how clouds pass by, or how a streaming river constantly changes and creates differences, you might enjoy this recording as well and can be perceived and enjoyed from a similar non-intentional attitude. Don’t expect things to happen, but surrender to the musical micro-level activity and let it speak to you. (DM)
––– Address: https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/
ALEX RIVA - SOLOS AND MORE AT STUDIO 304 (CD by Wide Ear Records)
I’m not going to lie. When I first started playing ‘Solos and More at Studio 304’ it really did my head in. I couldn’t get to grips with it. The piercing sound of the recorder was enough to make me want to turn it off. It was too much. It reminded me of painful music lessons at school, where we were taught, on mass, how to play basic songs none of us liked. It was beyond tedious. However, like those lessons, I preserved and kept ongoing. Unlike those music lessons ‘Solos and More at Studio 304’ started to become enjoyable. The more I heard the more it began to make sense.
The album is effectively Alex Riva blowing hard for 38-minutes. Bindhumalini joins him on vocals on ‘Carnatic Music Class with a Martian’ and Mikael Szafirowski mixing, then remixing, but the majority of what we are hearing is Riva. On ‘The Self-Immolation of a Toe’ Riva’s playing is the kind of high pitched ear-splitting playing that could make people give up before the album has begun. If you aren’t in the mood this could be a deal-breaker. After weathering that storm they switch to ‘On Glasses-but-no-Cheese Street’. If the opener was about pummelling us, ‘On Glasses-but-no-Cheese Street’ is more about tending to our wounds through more serene playing. The intensity is still there, but things have been toned down a bit. Which we are grateful for.
As the title suggests there is more than just solos going on here, but mostly it’s just solos. Some are over before you realise, and others take their time to build up over time. ‘Sun Ra Becomes Rasam’ is a prime example of this. At 9:06 is it the second-longest song on the album. Slowly, and through the use of feedback, elongated drones are created that show the depth of Riva’s playing. The downside to the album is that it appears to open with the most abrasive, and shrill, playing on the album. If Riva had opened with pretty much any other track, take ‘On Glasses-but-no-Cheese Street’ for example with its fluid play full of dynamic runs my original experience with the album might have been more pleasurable. However, there is an old adage about hitting them hard and fast, to begin with, so they know what to expect later on. (NR)
––– Address: https://wideearrecords.bandcamp.com/
LOTUS EDDE KHOURI - 7 LINES (CD by Edition Gamut)
There is a video on Khouri’s website that shows two- and a-bit minutes of the performance. During it, the trumpeter is standing in the middle of the room, while a bassist and guitarist bow sadly, and slowly, nearer the camera. Next to them is a pianist. There are two saxophonists in the background blowing in mournful unison with a drummer adjacent to them. It is transfixing. After the video finished, I watched it again trying to glean something more from it. The performance is ‘7 Lines’, conceived/composed/choreographed by Louts Edde Khouri.
What makes‘ 7 Lines’ such an interesting listen is that this is only half of it. Khouri was asked by The Gamut, the Swiss jazz and improvised music collective, to create a piece for them. This all sounds like a relatively normal thing to request before you realise that Khouri is in fact a choreographer. What she was effectively asked to do was create some choreography for instruments. So, she did what she’d always wanted to do. Create a polyphonic dance piece. The music was devised to be as much about the sound produced as the players' presence and gestures.
After listening to the album, a couple of times I tried to find the performance that it came from. I wasn’t able but I did find another performance from 2019. This one is 10-minutes longer, and in a different venue, but the result is the same. The musicians are positions around a room. When they aren’t playing, they are static, with blank expressions. When they do play, they are slightly more animated, but the movement is minimal. As with the album, the music is captivating but being able to see the players, their interactions, and their posture gives the music another dimension.
Musically it is very abstract. There is extraordinarily little melody or rhythm. At times, the instruments are struck and bashed rather than played. The highlight is when the trumpeter takes centre stages, and everyone fills in around his playing.
This is a piece of music to experience rather than listen to. I’m not saying it’s a bad album, it isn’t, but without the visuals, it doesn’t have the same impact. It’s like listening to a film from the silent era. You get a rough idea of what’s happening, but the nuances of the story are lost. (NR)
––– Address: https://editiongamut.bandcamp.com/
RANDI PONTOPPIDAN AND SISSEL VERA PETTERSEN - INNER LIFT (CD by Chant Records)
The Silence Trio first performed in 2017 with pianist Jakob Davidsen, saxophonist Torben Snekkestad and guitarist Hasse Poulsen. Then Davidsen worked with the singers Randi Pontoppidan and Sissel Vera Pettersen. The third instalment of the ‘Silent Trio Series’ was with drummer Thomas Strønen and the bassist Jesper Egelund. What links these performances was a fearlessness to push themselves as much as the audience. This is evident in ‘Inner Lift’ which features the second incarnation of the trio.
‘Raindrops’ is the centrepiece of the album. At 11 and a half minutes, it’s as long as all the songs combine before and after, but it’s not just with its length that makes the whole album hang on it. All the other tracks gracefully build up to it, then gently recede from it afterwards leaving it shining in the middle. Musically it opens abstractly. Reverb drenched percussion leads to a shimmering piano. This all builds, with glacial slowness, until Petersen’s ethereal vocals emerge around the four-minute mark. Then at the halfway point, Pontoppidan’s vocals appear. From this point on ‘Raindrops’ goes up a couple of notches. This is captivating music that doesn’t obey conventional rules and it’s glorious for it. Pettersen starts to lilt “Raindrops Raindrops Raindrops” but her phrasing changes this to “Rain, Drops of Rain, Drops of, Raindrops, Rain, Drops of Rain” like a serene mantra.
‘Inner Lift’ is one of the most compelling and transfixing albums I’ve heard for a while. There is something about the combination, and differing styles, of Pettersen and Pontoppidan that just pulls you into their world. Pettersen’s vocals are breathy and airy whereas Pontoppidan’s are deeper and more repetitive, but when they find that sweet spot where both complement the other, rather than trying to overpower it, we are listening to a thing of beauty. Given the immense vocal performances going on, you start to think two’s company and three’s a crowd. But you’d be wrong. All of this gives Davidsen room to deliver these haunting piano pieces that flutter and drift about in the spaces Pettersen and Pontoppidan have left. What’s more remarkable is you are drawn to Davidsen’s piano as gives Pettersen and Pontoppidan a solid ground to perform the vocal gymnastics going on.
My overall takeaway from ‘Inner Lift’ is that music doesn’t have to be narrative-driven. Or built around a killer hook. Instead, it just needs to have something going on that makes it impossible to turn off. Here it’s Pettersen and Pontoppidan’s vocals. From the moment you hear them, they pull you into their velvet world. (NR)
––– Address: https://chantrecords.com/
JON ROSE - STATE OF PLAY (2CD by Rer Megacorp)
This is going to sound pretty odd, considering the body of work I am talking about, but something is freeing about Jon Rose’s ‘State of Play’ album. At its heart ‘State of Play’ is two and a half hours of improvised music split across two discs. The first CD is filled with relativity short sharp tracks, apart from one 13-minute monster, and features Rose to play assorted violins including a Thai pumpkin soup violin, tenor violin, keyolin, el lubricato (a 20-litre oil-drum with wheel-bows), string clusterfuck violin, slow bow automaton and the St. Sebastian violin. As you can guess the music is pretty fast and fluid, but that isn’t all. Rose has brought some friends along for the ride too. There are duets with Jim Denley on alto sax, Freya Schack-Arnott on nyckelharpa, Clayton Thomas on double-bass and Robbie Avenaim on automated and manual percussion. These inclusions really add an extra level of texture and tone that elevate the music to somewhere else. The second CD feature seven longer-form pieces. These pieces are more abstract but no less enjoyable.
What ‘State of Play’ does really well is allow you to be removed from your situations and surroundings whilst simultaneously keeping you rooted in your reality. Let me explain. During ‘As it is’, the third track on the first CD, I was looking out of the window and looking at two squirrels that were running up and down a tree. It reminded me of a scout camp when we tried to catch squirrels using peanut butter and a trap one of the leaders showed us how to build. I remember lying in some long grass watching the squirrels run up and down trees, but tentatively approaching the peanut better. Eventually one reached for it and…. nothing happened, luckily, but it was one of the most intense moments of my life to take. While I was looking out the window and thinking about squirrels, I was also composing emails for work totally obliviously to what my mind was thinking about. Musically Rose and Jim Denley have a wonderful call and response that perfectly mirrored the squirrels play outside the window. At times Rose and Denley chased each other, then one would stand up to the other before the chase began again. What is more remarkable, is that for a long song it seems to only last a few moments.
This is an album that cements Rose as one of the greats. His playing is delicate and tender. The notes flow from him and create emotions of love, loss, and redemption inside. Then he changes into a snarling beast thrashing about in pain. Both are wonderful but without the other neither would be as effective. Or is that affective? What is plain to hear is at 70 years old Rose has plenty to say, and play. ‘State of Play’ isn’t just a clever pun, but a snapshot of players so in love with their craft, and interplaying, with others, that it, well, it plays itself. (NR)
––– Address: http://www.rermegacorp.com/
CLINTON WATKINS - RAASWATER (CD by Unfathomless)
In some regards, this new release by Unfathomless is a bit different from many of their other releases. For starters, the pieces are quite short, between a mere minute-and-a-half and five; usually releases on this label has one long piece or three at the max. Also, some of these pieces seem almost electronic instead of the usual field recordings approach. Recordings were made in the Mmabolela reserve in South Africa, and seeing who is thanked, it is during trips organized by Francisco Lopez, which always look tempting but somewhat beyond my budget. I think the name 'Raaswater' is a waterfall. Great Dutch word that no one in the Netherlands uses. Recordings were made around the place and, perhaps, treated in some way; and in some other ways, not treated at all. I would think that Watkins layers various sound events together, and with these he creates a sonic picture of the place. Some insects’ sounds are quite piercing, such in 'Skull Crush' (all pieces have individual titles, which is also something else for this label), but just as easily this feedback created elsewhere. Then there are the most curious glitch rhythms in the shortest piece, 'EMF', followed by the heavy synthetic rumble of 'Knife' with some creepy metallic sounds (rotating knives perhaps? I was thinking that I found the most title quite descriptive). Throughout, however, there is a very tranquil approach to the music here, with birds chirping, insects with some distance, the rustling of dry wood, sand, leaves and the cracking of a skull, apparently. It works well with the 'other' pieces, the more electronic ones and with the briefness of the pieces; we have some great sonic snapshots of a place that I, most likely, will never visit. (FdW)
––– Address: https://unfathomless.bandcamp.com/
PROF. BERANONI - DREI APOSTASIEN (A SOAP OPERA) (3CD by Beranoni Editions)
An apostasy is "the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle". This triple CD is one of the more confusing releases of this week. First, Prof. Beranoni is a duo, Alvise & Alessio Beranoni, but that might very well be another part of the mystification. The three CDs deal with Covid, and the duo got together in June 2020. On each of the three CDs, there are a lot of voices, talking about Covid, not exactly a subject I'd like to hear a lot about, pro or contra really. I avoid any discussion on the subject, solely based on my self-chosen ignorance. The professor informed that the first CD is about "the ideology behind the Corona response (drawn from Ivan Illich, the social critic and "Monsignor of the poor")”, disc two "the worldwide Covid voices heard on the net during the 22 spring Italian lockdown", and "two instrumental pieces, and more samples from propaganda in a couple of rhythmic tunes", so it is not very clear where the professor stands. Maybe it is all a recount of confusion (and yes, confusion is a word I can relate to in connection with Covid). The voice in the first three, short pieces on CD one, reminded me of the voice of Hafler Trio's 'Soundtrack To Alternation, Perception & Resistance'. I asked Beranoni about the meaning and much to my surprise he suggested a low-volume listening, just like Brian Eno suggested when he introduced ambient music to the world. That renders the voice to the domain of inaudibility, but for me, as said, the ignorant fool, quite right. The music becomes indeed ambient. There are lots of loops being used, modular synthesizers and, especially, on the first CD, a bit of guitar. The other two CDs are more electronic in approach via hazy patterns on intertwined loops of sounds and electronics, and somehow reminded me of Paolo Ielasi, simply on the basis because I recently heard some of his music in a similar style; or perhaps because he's Italian too? Now that apparently the voices are not as important as I thought they would be, I find this all the more interesting. These voices become, at a lower volume, like an integral part of the music, like a multitude of badly tuned radio stations embedded in a network of electronic sounds, whirring and buzzing, looped and fragmented at the same time. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, with this as a buzzing soundtrack, and birds out on a hot spring day, one could almost (!) think the world is normal again. (FdW)
––– Address: email@example.com
MR MARCAILLE - NO SNARE NO HEADACHE (CD, private)
A while ago we ran a corner in Vital Weekly, not-discussing music we also received but was way out of our reach. Maybe that helped for a while stopping people to send us all that music. Mr Marcaille is an act with 'heavy freak cello', but he's also part of Manu & The Bourets (punk), RRaouhhh! (electro), Foudre Rockeur (hard rock psych) and Aerobiconoise (harsh noise sportive). Whatever the latter musical style is, I can imagine that might the only thing worthwhile for Vital Weekly, as his 'heavy freak cello' is not more than, untrained ears here, keep that in mind, hard rock or heavy metal. Is there a difference? I don't know. Apparently, Mr Marcaille plays cello and two bass drums, but why it sounds like standard metal music eludes me. The songs are short and to the punk point, which I liked. I have a metal double CD with Dutch bands that I play once a year or so, and that's about the extent of my metal interest. I enjoyed this one. Check it out if you bored with your usual drones. (FdW)
––– Address: https://mrmarcaille.bandcamp.com/releases
THIS ENSEMBLE - BROWN PAPER BUSINESS (2CDR by Shame File Music)
THIS ENSEMBLE - MY UMBRELLA IS ANOTHER WORD FOR COMMUNITY (CDR by Shame File Music)
Last week when this arrived, I also got a letter from the tax office, requesting some more information, which, of course, I hadn't handy, I looked at my desk and decided the music by THIS Ensemble could keep me company in my search for numbers. Partly, I guess, because I was in the long haul for this, and I could use an endless stream of sound. And as such, I wasn't disappointed. Ren Walters founded THIS ensemble in 2006 and the line-up is different for each performance, and, since 2014 working with dancers and actors. 'Brown Paper Business' is called "an organically-developed improvised operetta", and is from a lengthy concert in 2016. It comes in a wooden box with cards with texts used in the piece. I don't see any names mentioned for individual members of this ensemble, so maybe those are not important. While looking for my tax information, I was pleasantly enjoying the stream of sound, instruments, voices and so on; none of which seemed to be too demanding on the listener. But before someone says, oh he's done his tax return while reviewing, I returned to the music a few days later, now in full reviewer mode (if such a thing exists here), and concentrated on all that was on offer. This time I found it harder to be concentrate on all that was there. The endless stream has an element of chaos to it that works nice, but I would think, perhaps, more for the viewers of this operetta, than with some distance of time and space. Also, the texts followed a similar process of randomness and cut-up style, which worked well within the context of the music, but, for me, not beyond that. If total free improvisation and group processes are up to your street, then check out this madness.
Or this madness, another hour by THIS ensemble, 'My Umbrella Is Another Word For Community', a recording from 2014, now with some players named (I name-checked Clinton Green, as the only one out of 12 or so) plus a few that remain anonymous and/or unidentified. This continued in a similar modus of very free improvisation, with a large group of people creating many little and big noises and occasionally someone reciting a few words. If you are up for some three-hour stream of consciousness music, then this one can easily play following the previous two. (FdW)
––– Address: http://shamefilemusic.com
EGG & CRISP - MAKING A MEAL OF THINGS (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)
Behind Egg & Crisp, we find Ed Shipsey (megaphone, digital keyboard, voice, synth, guitar, drumkit, field recordings and percussion) and Christopher Hill (guitar, ukelele, clarinet, harmonica, pedals, springs, piano, tone generator, metal and paper), who recorded the nine pieces on this release between 2018 and 2020 "in and around Tufnell Park ad Cargo Studios, Tottenham". Usually, with improvised music, musicians play one instrument, perhaps in combination with electronics, and I would think a more or less concert situation to record the music. With this duo I am not so sure; maybe it's the studio setting they used for their recordings, but it might also be the multitude of instruments they use. How on earth can they play so many at the same time, even when in some pieces it is evident that they use a few sounds? Whatever is the case, the results are quite diverse and something I enjoyed quite a bit. The two lengthy pieces, 'Pea And Ham' and 'Let's Make A Golem', both excursions in quiet sounds, sparse notes and a few field recordings in the birds are quite intense pieces. Their other ones are shorter, between two and six minutes and wilder animals of chaotic playing, feedback, sonic exploration but also minimalism, as in the brief encounter 'Egg Reflux', or the sea shanty like 'My Mother Loves 'Danny Boy". Some of it sounds very controlled, but there is also something of an outsider approach in other pieces. Much of this is recorded directly without any tarting up of the sound, which is also an approach I like very much. The overall variety in the music works very well, I think. There is always a risk it doesn't, and it is too much of a mixed bag but in the case of Egg & Crisp that is not the case. I see it as an exhibition of the interests these plays have and the talent they have to pull off all these approaches. Excellent fresh music. (FdW)
––– Address: https://mrmrecordings.bandcamp.com/
SOLOI SOUNDS - FOUND LINES (CDR by Organic Industries)
It had escaped my attention, but Organic Industries exists for 10 years now. I could have sworn this was longer. They celebrate this with the release of a CDR by Soloi, a "music project by a graphic designer based in Tokyo" (whose name is Yosuke Goto), who had previous releases on Post Global Recordings and Umé Records, and he plays old Roland synthesizers, Taishogoto (a Japanese string instrument), field recordings, and toy instruments. This results in some very mellow music, very ambient, and according to the musician, free of the rules that are connected with the world of graphic design. Soloi Sounds uses quite a bit of pretty standard, yet effective sustaining synthesizer sounds, allowing for a finer cascade of sustaining sounds. On top of that, there are insects sounds, bird and water sounds, and some of these might be the real thing, but just as well, these might synthesize imitations of these sounds, which I quite enjoy. I must say that the string- and toy instrument is not something I easily detected in this music, but who know; maybe there has been some extended treatment via said synthesizers that we no longer recognize? It remains a bit of a mystery but whatever; the mellow character of the music is something I enjoyed quite well. Following a few hectic days here, occupying too much of my attention, I enjoy sitting back and do what I like most; listening to music and thinking about it. There is an approach possible here, with the music of Soloi Sounds, where I could stroke my chin and go, 'well, in terms of musical innovation, this might not be something you haven't heard before and all that', but then, honestly, what is 'really new this week', anyway? Right, there is your answer; not a lot. And, perhaps always thinking in such terms of innovation isn't always necessary. Just enjoy the simple beauty of ambient here. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.organic-industries.com/
WILDER GONZALES AGREDA - PATROCINADO POR EL GOBIERNO (CDR by Superspace Records)
Quite prominently, on the front cover of this CDR, it says the release has been made with financial support from the ministry of culture in Peru, and according to the press information, I read the money was spent on the purchase of a Berhinger Odyssey (a remake of the Arp Odyssey) and a Korg Electribe 2 synthesizer., and these two are the sole devices used on the album. Agreda has been active in sound art, post-rock and experimental music, influenced by Stockhausen to Autechre and that he wonders why some experimental musicians can be 'conservatives or even right-wing fascist' (I know why; it's against the grain attitude. A sort of punk attitude gone wrong. Present the sad case of John Lydon and his Trump support). He says that 'this new album is once again my contribution to that (to get out of the vulgar canons of the system that consumes us - FdW) luminous path", which may be an indication of an entirely different political thought and one I also may have some trouble with. Best is, perhaps naive, to leave politics out of it? The music he presents on this new disc ("dedicado a mama y papa") is a continuation of the roads he travelled before (see Vital Weekly 1037, 951, 1100 and 1205), a combination of crazy rhythms and crazy synthesizers and again not-yet techno, not really pop, but slowly moving away from the more cosmic approach he had in his earlier days. It is neither Stockhausen nor Autechre, but Agreda styled electronic music. Jerky beats and moves, but this time in longer tracks than before, and I am not sure if that works all too well. In some of these pieces it seems as if Agreda is looking for the sweet spot in his music, to take it to the next level, the one that he can use to present a good track, but forgot to weed out the bits that don't work that well; or, at least not as long as some of this music is. I think some editing could have saved some of this music. Short and to the point is sometimes the best choice. (FdW)
––– Address: https://superspacerecords.bandcamp.com/
CLAUDIO LANDOLT - NICHT DIE FÜLLE / NICHT IDYLLE / NICHT DER BERG - VORDERGLÄRNISCH. BERGPORTRÄT (cassette by Domizil)
As far as I can see I had not heard of Claudio Landolt before. For some reason, he is very much interested in the Vorderglärnisch, which is a mountain in the central Swiss Alps and during more than thirty trips he recorded some 100 hours of sound material on this mountain. If that isn't a lot already, he also used these recordings as a starting point for poems, which he published in a book with the same title, which can be translated as 'Not the abundance / not the idyll / not the mountain - Vorderglärnisch. Mountain portrait'. I have not read the poems. One side is called 'Aussen' (outside) and the other is 'Innen' (inside). I am not sure how literally we should see the 'inside' and the 'outside'. During his trips, Landolt uses a wide variety of techniques; "air-borne and structure-borne recordings, to making electromagnetic fields and seismic data audible". Not sure, what structure-borne means and upon investigating I got a bit lost in the scientific talk. I would think that many of the sounds used on 'Aussen' are surroundings captured with microphones, from climbing the mountains, cows in the Alps and people taking along with some sparse electrical sources captured along the way. Maybe on 'Innen' Landolt uses more electromagnetic fields, contact microphones upon surfaces and such like, and as such it all becomes much obscurer as to what we hear. Sure, there is water sounds, running down from the mountain, but for pretty much the rest of it, it is unclear. Maybe it is the ski lift? 'Innen' is more of a mystery than 'Aussen'. Is it the sound portrait of a mountain? That is hard to say, as I already know what this is about, so you would have to do a blind test with somebody who doesn't know. But as someone who spend many youth holidays in Austria (albeit in a less rough mountainside), I certainly recognize quite a bit of these sound; the cowbells are an obvious point of reference, but also the carts that take you up a mountain, the quietness all around an empty mountain, with some far-away voices of other people talking and walking. Listening to this release made me melancholic about those holidays in Austria; something with getting older, I suppose. Or, perhaps, something with not having had much of a holiday in some time. (FdW)
––– Address: https://domizilrecords.bandcamp.com/
DUSO (FEAT. COSTIS DRYGIANAKIS) - DOG HOUSE ON A TREE (cassette by Hxoi Kato apo to Spiti)
#ALPHASIGMA - NO WAVE (cassette by Hxoi Kato apo to Spiti)
When on tour in Russia, Greek musician Costis Drygianakis (toys, tapes, cymbal) hooked up with Duso (or rather 'duso'), a trio of improvisers, consisting of Oleg Salkov (bass, prepared piano), Denis Uspensky (tenor sax, looper) and Oleg Dautov (acoustic & electric guitar) and they recorded four pieces, on the spot, direct to tape. The spontaneous element of the music is quite clear in these forty-three minutes, even when there were some decisions s to the mood of these pieces. Not that I found it easy to say what that mood was in each of these pieces, also because they are just called part 1, 2 etc. The music ranges from the free-spirited chaos to finely tuned melancholic parts, of which I preferred the latter ones over the chaos they sometimes create as well, which seemed to be the most in the fourth part (perhaps trying to evoke a crescendo?), but traces of which appear in all of these tracks. But throughout there was a good discipline in these pieces, of action and interaction, of silence when needed, of discussion when required. The recording is one of those 'down in the basement' recordings, direct and no make-up and, I'd say, no editing.
I was wrong to believe that behind #Alphasigma, there would somebody whose name starts with an 'A' (alpha, the first letter in the Greek alphabet) and someone named 'S' ('sigma', the eighteenth letter in the same alphabet), but it is Lambros Zafeiropoilous (cello) and Spyros Charmanis (guitar) and the music is a thirty-two-minute piece "recorded live at s recordings in Volos, Greece". I would think this is improvised music, or rather, I am convinced it is, but it is something out of the ordinary, I think. Maybe there are electronics used here, accounting for some of the more wave-like structures in the music, and throughout there is a deep rumble going on (from the cello) and on top, the guitar tries to keep up with that dark element, but occasionally it slips, and we hear the guitar ringing in some higher region, and we recognize some of its original sounds. There is the underlying feeling of some rock-like agenda, of the heavy variation of course, and I could easily believe that at one point it would all explode into a heavy rock modus, but that doesn't happen. It remains on the deep end within the final whispering voices and as such, it remains the mysterious soundtrack from the netherworld. Strange music indeed. (FdW)
––– Address: https://hxoikatoapotospiti.bandcamp.com/
CORRADO MARIA DE SANTIS - FALLEN (cassette by Into The Void Records)
This is a new name for me. The five pieces on this cassette are about twenty-five to thirty minutes long and deal with the fall of men, as described in 'Paradise Lost' by Milton, one of those still unread classics. De Santis writes that "For Milton, the path of humanity remains uncertain and lonely. It will be for men of all time, who are called to carry written in their hearts the memory of lost happiness, but also the yearning for freedom and the discovery of the beauty of life and the world." Maybe that accounts for the somewhat darker tone of the music here. No instruments are mentioned on the cover and the music doesn't give too much away. It might be the level of transformations going on; quite a bit of reverb is employed here, but I would think there is quite a lot by way of synthesizers and field recordings, but it just as well might be also (or solely?) with guitars. In the title track, I'd say the use of guitar is evidently clear. Either way, the dark, atmospheric music card is played here, and it works well. There is no interesting new aspect to be noted in this music, but see elsewhere what I wrote about the whole 'new' aspect of music. I would think that the beauty of darkness is within this music and as such, it works fine. Music for some serious contemplation about the state of mankind these days, I guess, a re-evaluation of what we should consider being of importance. The music provides no answers (not for me, at least) but is a fine soundtrack for some deep thinking. (FdW)
––– Address: https://corradomariadesantis.bandcamp.com/
CROCODILO SLAM - NASCIDO EM SWAMPLAND (cassette by Municipal K7)
From Brazil, we have here a new label and a new artist for me. Behind Crocodilo Slam is Gabriel Arte, "a traveller born in Goiás, a state far from the coast. After spending some time living in places like São Paulo and Yorktown Heights/NY, Artie returned to his city at the beginning of the pandemic, where the contrast of the sudden isolation with his unpredictable wanderings allowed the completion of the strange scrap theatre presented to us on this album." To that end, he uses "Mostly samples, loops, synths, keys, bass, drums, acoustic and electric guitars and voices by Crocodilo Slam." This is the basic information provided by the label on Bandcamp page. Crocodilo Slam has twelve pieces, from a mere minute to six minutes. It is a mixed bag, this album, and I found it not easy to figure what Crocodilo Slam wants to achieve with his music. It bounces all over the sampled place, I think, from a coherent (if a bit long) song such as 'Anarev' to more fragmented pieces of samplemania in which I found it harder to find head and tail. Some of these pieces seem to be created from some random samples stuck together, which do not always make a lot of sense. Once there is a drum machine present, it all makes a bit more sense. Some of these sounds are interesting to work with, I should think, and I would think there is a potential missed here. (FdW)
––– Address: https://municipalk7.bandcamp.com/