number 1285
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week 20
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Vital Weekly, the webcast: we offer a weekly webcast, freely to download. This can be regarded as the audio-supplement to Vital Weekly. Presented as a radioprogramm with excerpts of just some of the releases reviewed. It will remain on the site for a limited period (most likely 2-4 weeks). Download the file to your MP3 player and enjoy!
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FLY PAN AM - FRONTERA (CD by Constellation Records) *
KORR - TOMBÉ DE LA VOÛTE (CD by We Insist Records) *
ALBERTO BRAIDA & GIANCARLO NINO LOCATELLI - FROM HERE FROM THERE (CD by We Insist Records) *
CRAM RATION (CD by Rare & Treacherous Records) *
MARTIJN COMES & LUKAS SIMONIS - REGERING (CD by Esc Rec) *
JEAN-PHILIPPE GROSS & JEROME NOETINGER - NOS CADAVRES (CD by Eich) *
URAL UMBO - ROOMER (CD by Consouling Sounds) *
SAMBAR - PIERWOTNIAK PANTOFELEK (CD by Antenna Non Grata) *
DANIEL MENCHE - DIRGE (CD by Ferns) *
RUTGER ZUYDERVELT & HUGO DIJKSTAL & PETER HOLLO - BERG (CD by Machinefabriek) *
MASAYUKI IMANISHI - INSECTS ARE (CD by Unfathomless) *
SUSAN ALCORN & LEILA BORDREUIL & INGRID LAUBROCK - BIRD MEETS WIRE (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
FABIEN ROBBE – 24 PRÉLUDES (CD by Mazeto Square) *
RAYMOND BONI – MÉMOIRE DE L’OUBLI (CD by Mazeto Square) *
ROSS SCOTT-BUCCLEUCH & SIGTRYGGUR BERG SIGMARSSON & ANDREW SHARPLEY - MASK OF CHEERFUL (CD by Test Recordings) *
BJ NILSEN & JUDITH HAMANN & SIGTRYGGUR BERG SIGMARSSON - HEILIGENSTADT (LP by Fragment Factory) *
INSTAGON - THE HAT TRICK FROM THAT LYNCH MOVIE (CDR by Instagon) *
DEAD EDITS - PRESENTS DEAD EDITS, THE DEAD EDITS DICE GAME (AKA DEADZEE) (cassette and game by Ballast NVP) *
YIORGIS SAKELLARIOU - DEGTI (cassette by Cronica Electronica) *
CLAUS POULSEN - ØNSK (cassette by Forlget Kornmod) *
AHTOH - SNEGOPAD (cassette by Scum Yr Earth)
PLASMAN - TALES FROM PLANET S (cassette by Powdered Hearts Records) *
STÉPHANE MARIN & LUDOVIC MEDERY - PHONOKAINÔSIS (booklet) *




FLY PAN AM - FRONTERA (CD by Constellation Records)

The previous release by Fly Pan Am that I heard, 'C'est Ça', I enjoyed quite a bit (Vital Weekly 1200) and the band seemed to have moved beyond their more usual post-rock music that I remembered from many years ago. This new release is the music they wrote for a modern dance piece, 'Frontera', performed by the Montreal-based group Animals Of Distinction. That dance aspect is something that is lost here but the music is strong enough; the band probably feels the same way. There would not have been a release otherwise, I think. The idea was that the group would play the music as a live band to the dance production, but something with a pandemic causing that not to happen. I understand the dance is: "oscillating between tension and release; evoking open, anxious interzones and closed, claustrophobic spaces; conveying an overarching landscape of forbidden access, foreclosed movement, and the unfathomable multiplicities of trauma and resilience that occur under our dehumanizing international apparatuses of inadmissibility and control" Instead they went into the studio and laid the music down to tape. Unlike the previous one, this album seems to be less scattered over the place but nevertheless holds enough variation in here. In the opening 'Grid/Wall', they hit upon that post-rock groove, combining it with a fine motorik krautrock beat, fading gently into 'Parkour', which combines razor-sharp guitars and electronics. In other pieces, the post-rock element is less prominent, such as in the electronic bleeps of 'Scanner', along with more ominous electronic sounds. It is between these two ends that this album moves, the krautrock minimalist beats with lots of guitars versus pieces that have quite a bit of electronic origins. Maybe that is something that worked on stage best? I am not sure, but such as it is, Fly Pan Am still cover a wide variety of musical styles and seamlessly wave these together, into a fine, just a bit too short of an album (no doubt the length being dictated by the fact that it is also on vinyl). This is another strong record. (FdW)
––– Address: http://cstrecords.com



KORR - TOMBÉ DE LA VOÛTE (CD by We Insist Records)

Whether you like the music or not there is something delightful about ‘Tombé de la Voûte’. On the surface, it is an album about improvising, but at its core, it is an album about friendship. The notes on the album’s Bandcamp page say that: “The meeting of three improvisers. The first time. Three couples, two of whom already know each other. The meeting is open. They start, scrutinize, smell and listen to each other. In between, skins and cymbals bind the strings and the air, speaking thickly.  Listening. Commenting. Unite. The sound other. The other and the sound. The circle closes. The music opens.” And open it does.
    Throughout the music is filled with acres of space so that each player can really put their stamp on things. The fourth track, ‘f.t.f. part 1’ opens with more space than the start of Star Wars: A New Hope. Just like that film gradually space is squeezed out, but instead of a hulking star destroyer chasing down a rebel corvette Michel Doneda’s saxophone, Andres Grossi’s double bass and Fillippo Monico’s drumming, and percussion do the job. Unlike the film though, there is still plenty of space for things to no feel claustrophobic. The playing is terse but playful. Each musician is playing off the others but also having a great time. This comes off in the playing. Around a third of the way in Grossi is doing something wonderful, but horrific sounding things, to his bass. You get the feeling he is relishing doing it too. The way the continuity turns the screw and gives Doneda and Monico room to come in and out without the piece feeling clutters. The ending is a series of every tightening maelstroms by Doneda. Each more harrowing, and pleasurable, than the one before.
    What Tombé de la Voûte’ does really well is make you not only question your enjoyment of the music but also of your friendships. Are you close enough with people to allow you to play this freely? Would you want to be this open with them? The answers to these questions, and many more, are not actually on the album. They are inside you. Luckily listening to the music helps you answer them, but the main question is: How many more times will you play ‘Tombé de la Voûte’ today? (NR)
––– Address: https://weinsistrecords.com/



ALBERTO BRAIDA & GIANCARLO NINO LOCATELLI - FROM HERE FROM THERE (CD by We Insist Records)

There is something wonderfully charming about ‘From Here From There’ by Alberto Braida & Giancarlo Nino Locatelli. The story goes that in 1996 the pair starting to play together. Since then, they have released six albums and formed a friendship that, well, makes you feel happy to be alive. On ‘From Here From There’ the duo has released some of their strongest work to date.
    One of the standout moments on the album is ‘Lucius’. The instrumentation is sparse. Both players complement each other incredibly. This, of course, is what we’ve come to expect from friends who love getting into each other’s pockets and staying there. At times it gets slightly abrasive, but these ragged moments really help get over the sheer joy they have playing with each other. The final track ‘Tropus’ feels like a masterclass in less is more. Instead of creating dense maelstroms, Giusi and Piera, their nicknames for each other, take their time to create wonderfully evocative music. It reminds us to take time at the moment to enjoy those special, once in a lifetime, things. While listening to the album I looked out of the window. I saw my neighbour’s dogs running about and playing in the sun. As they chased each other one looked like it was going to crash into the other, but at the last minute, it jumped over the other’s back. I have never seen them do this before. As Florence cleared Lucy everything went into slow motion, except for the music. When Florence landed the two tussled as if nothing had happened.
    I don’t say this very often but ‘From Here From There’ could be one of the most tender albums I’ve played recently. There is something very romantic about Locatelli’s clarinet work. The runs flow out of the speakers and give you an all-consuming embrace. Under this Braida’s piano work is subtle, but consistent. At times you don’t notice what he’s playing until he stops. Then you think to yourself “What’s happened?” and it dawns on you. At this moment Braida starts up again and all is right with the world. Well, it isn’t, but this music makes you forget all the bad stuff for a few moments.
    This is the kind of album that would appeal to someone who enjoys older jazz. The kind of jazz that doesn’t seem to make that much anymore. While it doesn’t really sound like it, I’m reminded of how I felt after listening to ‘Kind of Blue’ for the first time. The playing is elegant and understated. There is a modesty to it that is remarkable while bursting with pride. Giusi and Piera know their history and how to play. This is what they like. It might not be as in your face, or frenetic, as some of your peers but it is filled with a simple joy that is hard to ignore. So, don’t. (NR)
––– Address: https://weinsistrecords.com/



CRAM RATION (CD by Rare & Treacherous Records)

Here I am not sure if the band name is Cram Ration, or if it is the title of the release, as such performed by Teun Verbruggen (drums & electronics), Vitja Pauwels (guitar & electronics) and Cesar de Sutter Pinoy (guitar). The first representing the 'old', experienced player of improvised music and the other two new ones. I thought this would be 'another' improvised music of which there is always a lot in these pages (more than in the old days, I sometimes think). And this is improvised music, let's make no mistake here, but it is also something else; perhaps, something more rock-oriented, especially in the way the two guitarists work their instruments, sparking off a few electronics on the side, but otherwise working nicely with chords and such, indeed towards a more rocky sound, but also finely coherent at times, and predictable chaotic at other times. In 'Mevrouw Post Van Gisteren', this culminates in heavy rock guitar work at one point, but in Bidzil, more into a math rock fashion following a careful opening bit of electronics. Throughout the playing is heavy, with distortion and feedback not left out, so it veers towards a more noisy edge of the musical spectrum. The last piece, 'Sf>Si', is the longest one and here they meander about with Verbruggen in his most jazzy approach, the guitars doing an all-atmospheric spacious drama, free and vibrant. The noise edge is pushed towards the back in this piece and new pastures open up. I liked the diverse approach of this trio, reaching its zenith in their last piece. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cargocollective.com/ratrecords



MARTIJN COMES & LUKAS SIMONIS - REGERING (CD by Esc Rec)

Martijn Comes and Lukas Simonis released their first album at the dutch later Esc Rec run by Harco Rutgers. The music is recorded between 2018 and 2020. The title of the album Regering (dutch for “Government’) and the track names comes from the works of B. Traven aka Ret Marut. B. Traven was a novelist who lived from 1890 and 1969. There is a lot of mystification about his person because he never cooperated with journalists, there were no interviews and wrote with the pseudonym Ret Marut. Most of his books were written between 1925 - 1960. The music itself has also a mystical atmosphere. The combination of the experimental sounds of the guitar of Lukas Simonis and the ambient synth and piano sounds of Martijn Comes is interesting. Two worlds come together and create a wonderful palette. Simonis has a completely different background as a musician as Comes. Simonis lives and works in Rotterdam, plays improvisation music in different projects and is active in Worm. Comes was invited by Simonis to do a residence in Worm. Martijn Comes is a Dutch composer in electroacoustic music and composed for instance music for carillon of the St Bavo Church in Haarlem and the Dom in Utrecht. The two worlds of free improvisation and controlled music meet each other in the studio during the creation of this album. The listener can hear this tension in the music and this tension fits also the poetic titles of the compositions like “IJzingwekkende Weegschaal” (dutch for ‘Macabre Libra’) and “Opstand der Aanhangigen” (dutch for ‘Revolt of the Disicples’). The titles give a direction to the music and on the other hand, you can only listen to the sounds as they are. There is a lot of diversity in this adventurous album. The atmospheres are scary, ambient, experimental, relaxing and everything in between. This first cooperation between these two musicians is a good start in which improvisation is the key for a controlled sound.  (JKH)
––– Address: http://www.escrec.com



JEAN-PHILIPPE GROSS & JEROME NOETINGER - NOS CADAVRES (CD by Eich)

[wiki] "Exquisite corpse, also known as exquisite cadaver (from the original French term cadavre exquis), is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule (e.g. "The adjective noun adverb verb the adjective noun." as in "The green duck sweetly sang the dreadful dirge.") or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed." Clear! Jean-Philippe Gross and Jerome Noetinger, two musicians who are no strangers in these pages, started working together in 2009 and later developed the exquisite corpse as a method of working together. Taruroku already released a work by them in which they made pieces, and only send the last 10 seconds to the other to continue. This is now expanded on this new release with four pieces, all realized in one day. Someone would start, send a bit to the other, who only had thirty minutes to respond, and then it would be the other one to reply. At home, Gross uses a Serge modular system, mixer feedback, field recordings, treatments and radio, and Noetinger a Revox tape recorder, cassettes, CDJ, field recordings, treatments and radio. The listener has to guess who did what here, although some speed-alterations I am sure can be ascribed to Noetinger. There are four pieces, in total forty-four minutes, and just as easily it listens as one long piece or a lot of small pieces. There is an excellent vibrancy to the material, going quickly from one point to the next, and yet it never sounds rushed or forced. It also moves graciously between something very noise based and very intimate and sparsely orchestrated material. One could place this right on the spot of musique concrète and live electro-acoustic improvisation. We have no idea to what extent this is post-produced or edited later on; it just says 'slightly corrected', which suggests very little additional work, with some excellent results. (FdW)
––– Address: https://eich57.bandcamp.com/



URAL UMBO - ROOMER (CD by Consouling Sounds)

Let's start with a confession. I haven't kept up with the music of Reto Mäder. I reviewed some of his work as RM74 and Sum Of R and I don't think as JeGong. From Ural Umbo I reviewed two releases, albeit some time ago (Vital Weekly 717 and 754), over a decade ago. Looking at Discogs, I would think the project has been on a hiatus since 2012. Back then it was a duo of Mäder with Steven Hess, now he teams up with Marko Neuman, who is responsible for vocals, and possibly other instruments, but none are mentioned; the same goes for Mäder. Judging by the musical content, I'd say they use drums, guitars, keyboards, voices and lots of sound effects. The first time around it was said they loved doom and metal music, something I didn't hear in the music, and still something I don't hear in these thirteen pieces. This is a long CD (or 2LP), in which this duo plays some great rock-related experimental music. Massive walls of sound, mainly through the use of extended layers of guitars, are erected, but Ural Umbo never loses the details of the music. Everything is crisp and clear, in all its deep muddiness. Throughout the music is dark and atmospheric but in a rather filmic way. It is not atmospheric because it's eerie or quiet, but it's an intense horror soundtrack. I am not always blown away by the vocals of Neuman, veering towards a grunt and a howl, but even I must admit that within this rock-based nightmare of a soundtrack this works quite well. It should be obvious that this is not in any way standard rock music in whatever shape or form. It uses heavy guitars, dark drums, but there are no conventional song structures here, just these atmospheric fields of music, with beats howling in the background; well, occasionally that is. This is one to play loud and annoy people around you. "I think it is a film score", should raise a few eyebrows. (FdW)
––– Address: https://consouling.be/



SAMBAR - PIERWOTNIAK PANTOFELEK (CD by Antenna Non Grata)

This is the second album by Sambar, a duo of two players of the "saskofon barytonowy", also known as the baritone saxophone. Paulina Owczarek and Tomek Gadecki started in 20212 and in 2014 they released their first record, 'Melt!' on NotTwo records. This is, as is to be expected, some die-hard improvised music, and, perhaps, not always something I 'dig', but in this case, I started listening, and I was interested until the end. And that is also surprising because I am not always the person with a strong interest in the saxophone. The CD has three main pieces, over ten minutes, and they are separated by two small pieces. In the long pieces, they have a great interaction going on between, from very chaotic to very introspective. Sometimes it seems they play the same thing, with short intervals and a bit different, or they go out on a call and response treat. It is far from minimal or sustaining, but it still works with the lower depths of the instruments, which adds a melancholic tonal quality to the music, especially in 'Makronukleus'. Sambar has great control over their instruments and their interaction as players, creating space, and taking space, as they see fit. There is an organization to the chaos they sometimes create, even when this is still a far cry from free jazz. The instruments sound, most of the time, as you would a saxophone to sound; sambar doesn't go into the whole 'instrument as object' thing, but stay in a relatively well-known territory. I loved it! (FdW)
––– Address: https://antennanongrata.bandcamp.com/



DANIEL MENCHE - DIRGE (CD by Ferns)

If musicians have impressive discographies to show, you can be sure I haven't heard them all, though I am sure somebody has. Over the years I picked up some of Daniel Menche's music, but I am certainly not the expert to turn to. I dig some of it for sure, and I quickly checked the previous one Ferns did, 'Primal Fictions' and found that 'Dirge' moves in a similar style. At the core, there is a grand piano, which Menche plays with a bow (cello? e-bow? I am not sure) and it is surrounded by clouds of reverb, noise and such. Especially during the opening minutes, I felt this was somewhat reminiscent of the music of Organum, the early days, but after a while, I didn't notice it that much. This is a long CD though; 'Dirge' is about forty-five minutes, followed by 'Rawest Dirge', twenty-four minutes. When I got to the second piece, I had digested enough and to be honest: I found 'Dirge' also a bit on the long side. Every time I heard the piece there was a point around twenty-five minutes where I thought: if Menche had stopped here, I would have been perfectly satisfied. Some sort of fatigue slips into the music, or me - most likely into both. 'Rawest Dirge' has a different kind of build-up; whereas 'Dirge' is immediately present in full force, the 'raw' version has a slow-building start up, cut out and subsequently has Menche hammering the keys at one point. Maybe this is some of the source material used, even when the hitting of keys is not to be heard on the main piece. This second piece has a rather improvisational feel to it and sounds to me more like a bonus. I must admit that I liked the larger part of 'Dirge' and elements of 'Rawest Dirge', but not the entire thing. Chopping down to LP length would have improved this quite a bit I guess. (LW)
––– Address: https://fernsrecordings.bandcamp.com/



RUTGER ZUYDERVELT & HUGO DIJKSTAL & PETER HOLLO - BERG (CD by Machinefabriek)

'Berg' means mountain in Dutch, and it is the title of a film by Joke Olthaar, of which the synopsis is "a journey at high altitude seen through the yes of three mysteriously connected hikers. After a coincidental meeting high in the mountains, we follow three hikers in their personal odysseys through the overwhelming landscape". It is not a film I have seen, and perhaps not I would see based on this text; maybe I am not the sort of lover for this thing. However, knowing that the soundtrack is (part) composed by Machinefabriek's Rutger Zuydervelt might change my mind, if not for the opportunity to hear his music in a different surrounding (or rather, better speakers), The music that is used in the film uses a sound design and mix by one Hugo Dijkstal, but on this CD there is a mix by Zuydervelt. Also, there is an "early score proposal" by Zuydervelt in which he uses a cello, played by Peter Hollo. The first is thirty-two minutes and the other is two minutes shorter. It is interesting to compare both pieces and to have a glimpse into the working methods. A lot has happened between the first sketch and the final film version. This is a world of difference. I have no idea about the laws of soundtracking. The raw sketch sees the cello moving all over the place, playing dramatic music with quite a bit of movement. In the final mix, there are just field recordings and one massive drone. Oddly I should think that elements from the sketch are easier to digest for the average audience of films (even those in the arthouse), but in the final piece there is a great sense of isolation, which I would think is something that would fit a film with (I assume) vast panoramas of empty, rocky landscapes. It is also the piece I prefer to hear when it comes to hearing music. The rough sketch may serve as a peek into the kitchen, but for me didn't hold up to being a great piece by itself. I found it too fragmented and too sketchy (pun, perhaps, intended), whereas the real deal here is indeed the real deal. It is quiet, desolate and isolated music; it's like the stale air over the mountain top (well, I am assuming here, from very little experience in the not-so-high Austrian mountains) and on this grey Saturday afternoon it provides the perfect soundtrack, even here in the lowlands. The piece moves through various stages and dynamics, slowly, but eventually, it gets where it is heading for. I would have been happy with just this piece. (FdW)
––– Address: https://machinefabriek.bandcamp.com/



MASAYUKI IMANISHI - INSECTS ARE (CD by Unfathomless)

The world of field recorders is big, but they know how to find Unfathomless to release their music. Masayuki Imanishi is such a person. I know some of his previous work (see Vital Weekly 1024, 1080, 1115, 1128 and 1179), in which he showed an interest in mostly quiet music with such objects as paper and a radio. On this new release however he works with sounds recorded in several parks, in Osaka, the Nakanoshima Park, Tenjinbashi, and Sakuranomiya Park. Not places I saw when I was in Osaka. Imanishi says it was a hot day in August 2020 when he made his recordings, and I know what Japanese summers are like. In these parks, you'll find "are rows of cherry trees, rivers, ponds, lotus flowers on swamps, boat dock, railroads, and small forests" and Imanishi brought various recording devices and "worked on the go", which might imply that much, if not all, of what we hear was recorded in the park and not the result of work at home, say behind the computer. Based on the music I heard I have no idea what to think. The opening section all seems natural sounds indeed, but further down the line I had the impression there were a bit of added electronics, but of course, I might be wrong. Especially the end of the piece (only one piece on this CD) had such an electronic sound. Sounds from insects play an important role in the music the semishigure has a place here, but also other insect sounds are used, water, frogs and the wind rustling through leaves and Imanishi takes the listener in these forty minutes on a fine trip through the park. I am sure he is layering various events together and there are a few sections to be noted in this piece, knitted together via small pieces to cross-fade from one section to the next. A lovely release indeed. It has the same gentle tonal quality we know from his previous work. (FdW)
––– Address: https://unfathomless.bandcamp.com/



SUSAN ALCORN & LEILA BORDREUIL & INGRID LAUBROCK - BIRD MEETS WIRE (CD by Relative Pitch Records)

‘Bird meets Wire’ is a trio effort by Susan Alcorn (pedal steel), Leila Bordreuil (cello) and Ingrid Laubrock (tenor and soprano saxophone). What strikes first attention is the unusual instrumentation. The pedal steel is not often heard in the context of improvised music. This instrument is above all connected to American country music. And it is in this context that Susan Alcorn set her first steps with this instrument. When she became interested in modern composed and improvised music, world music, etc., she began experimenting with this instrument. So far results of her musical research often were solo projects. But she worked also with numerous improvisers and other musicians: Pauline Oliveros, Chris Cutler, Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark, Michael Formanek, etc. Leila Bordreuil is a Brooklyn-based cellist from France. Working in contexts of contemporary classical music and all kinds of experimental and improvised music. With a special love for noise, pure sound and texture she moved away from conventional playing techniques. Did Alcorn expand the techniques of the pedal steel, even more, Leila Bordreil strives to expand the sound world of the cello, in the contexts of noise and experimental music. Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock is originally from Germany, lives and works in Brooklyn for more than a decade now, working with Anthony Braxton, Dave Douglas, Tim Berne, Tom Rainey, Luc Ex, and many more musicians. No idea how the collaboration of these three profiled musicians came about and what they in mind. The focus on experiment certainly unites them. The CD opens with ‘Area’ and starts very much as an abstract soundscape. Further on it becomes easier to recognize the different instruments and a concentrated interchange develops with a focus on sound exploration. The title piece likewise develops very slowly and moves cautiously forward with Laubrock playing solo lines over again a very sound-oriented texture produced by Alcorn and Bordreuil. ‘Is is not’ introduces melodic elements played by Alcorn over long-sustained movements by Laubrock. ‘Topology of Time’ is a meandering and reflective improvisation. Besides these group improvisations, they interpret traditional compositions: ‘Cañones (El Pueblo Unido)’ and ‘Wayfarin' Stranger’. Both are tasty melodic ballads with pedal steel in the lead with subdued underlining by sax and cello. Although we have here an attractive combination of instruments in the hands of excellent performers, I remained a bit ambiguous on this one. Too often I kept asking myself what are they heading at, what is the focus. (DM)
––– Address: https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/



FABIEN ROBBE – 24 PRÉLUDES (CD by Mazeto Square)
RAYMOND BONI – MÉMOIRE DE L’OUBLI (CD by Mazeto Square)

Mazeto Square is a French publisher of books, DVDs and CDs of very different content. The music concerns mostly jazz and improvised music of a varied kind. Here two of their latest releases. Fabien Robbe is a multi-instrumentalist from Bretagne, France, with a history in folk bands like Menestra and Eostiged ar Strangala. As a pianist, he integrates influences of classical music, jazz and – of course - folk music. In 2015, he recorded his first solo piano album for the Improvised Beings-label (Da bep Lec’h). With Jérôme Gloauen he released two albums for Mazeto Square: ‘Etats d’Urgences’(2016) and ‘Anima Animus’ (2018). Recently a third duo effort saw the light, inspired by the poems of Youenn Gwernig. In 2020 Robbe and Gloaquen released an album of their quartet. With ’24 Préludes’ Robbe presents his second solo effort. Preparations for this collection of 24 short piano works started in 2017. The 24 short works reflect the musical idioms above-mentioned, using conventional playing style. No extended techniques or something of the like. That is not his thing. The music comes from a romantic spirit. Robbe’s playing style is a bit rigid for my tastes, missing a certain suppleness. He is not into experimenting but wants to create music that is accessible for many. This makes the album rather conventional and hardly of interest for Vital Weekly readers. Very much the opposite is the case with the solo album by guitarist and improviser Raymond Boni. He offers a vibrant and extraordinary recording dating from 2014. The musical career of guitarist Raymond Boni started near the end of the 60s when he learned to play the guitar from Gypsies who lived in his neighbourhood. In 1969, he started the group Association Vivante – marking the beginning of a career in jazz and improvisation. Boni is a true veteran of the French jazz scene. In the 70s he started working with saxophonists André Jaume and  Joe McPhee, who both would become long-time partners. Jazz and free improvisation. In the 80s he also started composing, and collaborations with Terry Day and Max Eastly followed. Throughout his career, he recorded a solo album sporadically. ‘Mémoire de l'oubli’ is the latest is this series. An album dedicated to trumpeter Donald Ayler, who played in the quintet of his older brother Albert Ayler. He was a source of inspiration for Boni as well as his mate McPhee. Boni creates a very rich musical world on his Roger Buro acoustic guitar, playing adventurous and inspired. The instrument has a great sound. Blues music is never far away in his improvised excursions. The cd opens with the very sensitive ‘One Day Malia will hear the Solitary Walker Whisper’, improvising around a returning bluesy motif. ‘Hold me in your Arms but very tight’ and ‘Fairly Black Horn’ are examples of very dynamic over the top improvisations. They are in contrast with improvisations like the slow  ‘Sweet Feather of Light Blues’. ‘The 4th of April 1968’ – the day Martin Luther King was shot  - has strangely distorted manoeuvres in the second part. Very intriguing! ‘Mémoire’ is a very intimate piece built of gliding patterns. An album of very expressive and emotional music played with drive and verve. Excellent! (DM)
––– Address: https://www.mazeto-square.com/



ROSS SCOTT-BUCCLEUCH & SIGTRYGGUR BERG SIGMARSSON & ANDREW SHARPLEY - MASK OF CHEERFUL (CD by Test Recordings)
BJ NILSEN & JUDITH HAMANN & SIGTRYGGUR BERG SIGMARSSON - HEILIGENSTADT (LP by Fragment Factory)

Here we have two collaborations with Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson, with, in one case, his favourite collaborator, BJ Nilsen. Let's start with the other one, which sees him working with Ross Scott-Buccleuch (tapes, synths, field recordings) and Andrew Sharpley (sounds, edit, mix), while Sigmarsson is responsible for tapes, sounds and voice. The first we know from his work as Dirunal Burdens and his Steepgloss label, while Sharpley once was a member of Stock, Hausen & Walkman. The three of them already worked together, on the CDR 'Ghost Of Dada', released by Chocolate Monk last year (not reviewed here). As far as I know, it is quite common for Sigmarsson to do the final mix of the music, but in this case, it was Sharpley. From what I understand the process to be, is that everybody brought a lot of sound to the table and from the resulting ingredients Sharpley stewed this dish, perhaps adding a few rounds of processing to the mix, but most likely perhaps not. Just bring it all to whatever multi-track program/device of choice and shift the material around for a considerable amount of time and see what that brings, in terms of composition and, perhaps also, in the terms of variation. While to some this kind of music might be something like 'anything goes', I would think this is not the case. What Sharpely does here is creating a work of modern musique concrète qualities. Through endless cutting, editing and pasting of sounds, he created nine pieces of music collage and demontage. There is a great variety in the sound material here, spoken word, synthesizer sounds, the kitchen sink and some rather more obscure sounds, and the results are loud and harsh, soft and intimate and anything in between. Occasionally a loop goes on a bit too long or being just a bit too much of a plain loop, but I found this a great work altogether. Very classic, I thought, in a sort of late 80s cassette networking sort of way.
    On the other new release, the modus operandi was a bit different. Here it was Judith Hamann who send in sound material to use by Nilsen and Sigmarsson. These included her playing the cello, field recordings and voice, all of which were processed by the other two, who also both worked on the final mix. While you could say that this release is also an example of modern musique concrète, I would think it works a bit differently here. First, there are no individual pieces here, but each side is a single piece, but within the piece, the music moves around to various settings. This processing might be a combination of both digital and analogue means; I believe I heard some reel-to-reel manipulation in the music. This record is what Nilsen and Sigmarsson do best and that is to create long-form sound collages, in which drone elements prevail, but it is not exclusively that. These drones are intercepted with untreated field recordings (side A) and quite a bit of cello (side B), where it is all melts into a gentle but massive drone; a multitude of cello voices, but with a clear definition, which is great (of course). The B-side is the one that has the least variation, with these drones continuously running around and is the mixing work of Sigmarsson . The A-side (mixed by Nilsen) is the collage approach of this trio, a variety of drones, field recordings and slowed down piano sounds. I am sure I said it before, but in much of the work of Nilsen and Sigmarsson there is an influence of early Hafler Trio music (well, anything up to 'Kill The King', I'd say), and their work can easily meet with the best of the Trio. This new work is no different; this is another manifestation of what they do, and they do a great job, once again. They have an impressive body of work, going from strength to strength. (FdW)
––– Address: <stilluppsteypa@gmail.com>



INSTAGON - THE HAT TRICK FROM THAT LYNCH MOVIE (CDR by Instagon)

Here is something you don't see a lot more these days. The single from the forthcoming album. To be released: 'Smashing Pumpkin' Dream' by Instagon and here are two tracks and one bonus from that album. I must admit it eludes me why one should do that these days, but maybe the 'no reason' is just a very good reason to do it anyway. Instagon, a musical project around somebody named Lob, is a strange affair. Just like Doc Wör Mirran, they appear all over the musical spectrum, from free jazz to experimental music and maybe that is due to the big variety of band members. For this one there is no personnel mentioned and maybe there is none? The cover just says 'composed, edited, recorded and produced by Lob. The two main album pieces are interesting excursions into the world of guitars and loops and mild drama. Maybe the title piece gives us an indication where Instagon might want to see their music used? I could imagine that Lynch would put it to good use if ever there is going to be a Twin Peaks fourth season. Next to the atmospheric guitar plucking, there are some acoustic sounds and field recordings. In 'Hydrophonia' the sound palette is electronic music, acoustic sounds and field recordings and another massive forest scene of misty action. The bonus pieces are 'Dishes', which maybe tells us much about the sound sources, doing the dishes, and is the most musique concrète piece out of these three. If this short is meant as a teaser then it surely lived up to that. If the full-length is of similar quality then I can't want to hear it. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.tif.org



DEAD EDITS - PRESENTS DEAD EDITS, THE DEAD EDITS DICE GAME (AKA DEADZEE) (cassette and game by Ballast NVP)

We were already aware that Ballast NVP releases special projects in small editions. This time they reach another peak with this one. Dead Edits, being Eric Lunde and label boss Blake Edwards came up with a small box with dice with letters on it, nine in total, so you can spell Dead Edits. There is also a dice shaker and three scorecards. A bit like Yahtzee or Boggle? I don't know. I never play games, analogue or digital. I won't explain the details of this game too much, even when it’s not complicated, but you get more points if you spell certain words, 78 if you spell Dead Edits, as one word. Having no one around here to play this game, I can't say if it's great, but I sure love the wacky idea of this. The cassette that comes with the package contains one side Edwards rolling the dice and Lunde finding words with those letters, whereas on the other side Lunde keeps on finding words and Edwards trying to pronounce the words the dice roll. It sounds like sound poetry, and it is great. It comes with machine noises in the background, Great poet cut-up tape loops and, apparently, cat sounds. Furthermore, it is short as well, sixteen minutes only, so the best thing one can do is to have this on repeat at a low volume in the background while playing the game. You got to hurry up, as this is an edition of sixteen copies only. This is by wide and far the best package of this week, despite the short review. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ballastnvp.blogspot.com/



YIORGIS SAKELLARIOU - DEGTI (cassette by Cronica Electronica)

Without giving the information too much attention, I just started playing this new cassette by Yiorgis Sakellariou. I heard quite a bit of his work over the years and the quality is quite high, so there is not much to 'worry' there. Also, as I know much of his work is based on site-specific recordings, I thought it would be nice to guess the sort of location. I was wrong; on both accounts, as it turned out that the two main pieces here are from various locations. The third piece is a reprise of the first, which is the title piece and here he uses recordings from a vodka factory in Vilnius, Degtiné, which lends its title to the music. I could not have guessed this was a vodka factory, but a factory, yes, I guessed that right. The other side, contains, 'Be Pavadinimo', consisting of environmental sounds recorded in various locations in Greece and Lithuania. In both pieces, we hear 'traditional' Sakellariou elements, one of which is the collage approach he applies to work with sound. Various blocks are created and within each section, he transforms the sounds little by little, until it cuts or fades to the next section. Another trademark element is the strong dynamics of the music, ranging from quite loud to very quiet. In the 'Be Pavadinimo', these are mainly recordings from nature and natural events, a campfire, wind and the rustling of leaves. Sometimes the cassette has a bit of difficulty with the low-end of the music (compared to the Bandcamp download), but it works well. In the title piece, there is a great interaction between sounds recorded from some distance and very close by, space versus machines. And machines offer monotony, but in the hands of Sakellariou, this monotony works in favour of the piece. The workings of the factory, distilling and bottling are something that becomes clear once you know the sources, and it has a surprising 'industrial music element' to it, especially towards the end of the piece. Two great pieces, of course, once again, and I preferred 'Degti', because of the quite different sound material used. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cronica.bandcamp.com/



CLAUS POULSEN - ØNSK (cassette by Forlget Kornmod)

Here's another cassette by the ever-prolific Claus Poulsen. Although, prolific? This is only his 14th solo release, and on it, he uses his favourite string instruments of choice, the zither, the dobro and a sarangi, which he feeds through a bunch of pedals and adding a few field recordings. In his words, this is "psychedelic ambient", which is something I can certainly see. This album is the sister album to 'Real Angels Singing Caught On Tape' (Vital Weekly 1265). I am not sure in what way it is a sister album, as that one seemed to be using quite a bit more on the instrument front. This time, Poulsen keeps all the music 'small' and 'minimal'. Whatever effects he is using here, you don't hear much of them, except if it is a looper device, and that might be the case here. Especially on 'Noget tæt på ro', which takes up the B-side, this seems to be the case. It takes a while before the loops changes. Throughout these three pieces, there is a strange ambient atmosphere to be heard in this music, slowly meandering about, not going anywhere in particular and yet moving around. Perhaps, so I thought, this was the element that Poulsen calls 'psychedelic'? Unlike a lot of other records that get that word attached to it, here is that undefined spaciousness that makes it psychedelic, but maybe that is just for me? I sat back and enjoyed it all. The only problem is that this is a bit too short this tape! (FdW)
––– Address: https://forlagetkornmod.bandcamp.com/

 

AHTOH - SNEGOPAD (cassette by Scum Yr Earth)

In Vital Weekly 1269, I wrote about the music of Antoine Gilloire for the first time. This time he returns as Ahtoh, and the first release as such, 'Snegopad'. Gilloire is mainly a guitarist and effect pedal musician, "to produce waves of sound and textures linked o ambient/noise/electro-acoustic spheres" and has a job as a sound technician for INA GRM. The B-side of this cassette contains is filled by 'Excroissance' and an "edited version came second in the GRM 2020 young talents contest". Based on this information I would think that this too is created with the use of guitars and effects, but if so, then there has been a few rounds of processing as it is very hard to recognize the guitar in this. Had I not had this information I would probably not have thought about guitars; I would likely have said something about INA GRM tools, modular synthesizers and/or software processing. The result is quite nice; very ambient I should think and has that fine experimental edge that makes me love ambient music. At the beginning of 'Anatase', Atoh reaches for a more massive approach in his drones, which, throughout the piece, he deconstructs. In 'Excroissance', he goes for a more collage-like composition with several sound events happening, set against finely woven drones of a gentler kind. All in all an excellent and most promising debut release. (FdW)
––– Address: https://scumyrearth.bandcamp.com/

 

PLASMAN - TALES FROM PLANET S (cassette by Powdered Hearts Records)

As far as I can tell, Plasman is the name chosen by Carlo Vergani; I deducted this information based on the fact that the Bandcamp page also has information in Italian. This is my introduction to his music. "Reaching a lost planet at the edge of the galaxy, escaping from a now completely destroyed ecosystem, Plasman tells of a lonely and desolate world, where alien objects and nature are recounted with amazement and melancholy for the Earth". If this doesn't conjure images of space travel, what will? The music was recorded in the lockdown last year, and what better to escape the grim reality of a lockdown than a journey to space? It sounds as if Plasman took up a manual for 'classic synthesizer music’ and read the chapter about the Berlin school, acted accordingly. I know quite a few people who are hyper allergic to the music of Plasman, but I am a sucker for this kind of music. Arpeggio galore this is. [wiki]: "An arpeggio is a type of broken chord, in which the notes that compose a chord are played or sung in a rising or descending order. An arpeggio may also span more than one octave". On modern synthesizers, I think it is just a button you press, and your chord will be broken up into an arpeggio. I have no idea if Plasman uses a synthesizer (or more, of course), or perhaps an iPad (or more) to play his music. No rhythm machines are used, it is just various layers of synthesized arpeggio and the cosmic trip is complete. It doesn't have the same depth as the music of Steve Moore, I think, who I find one of the best of the genre, post-2000, or Fabio Orsi's recent work in this field, as Plasman's music is a bit too naive in approach for that, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it all the same. This is a forty-minute trip to the cosmos and back, sadly, as these journeys should be longer of course. The style might be nothing new, the execution perhaps 'easy', but regardless of all of that, I think this is a great tape. It comes with the territory of being a sucker for this style. (FdW)
––– Address: https://powderedheartsrecords.bandcamp.com/



STÉPHANE MARIN & LUDOVIC MEDERY - PHONOKAINÔSIS (booklet)

This release is a small hand-printed poetry book, that looks great and which text, by Stéphane Montavon, eludes me. It is in French. I, therefore, have no idea how it relates to the music. The Bandcamp page where the music can be downloaded for free, says this "Collapsophony at the time of Phonocene. A survivor after the collapsing (end of Capitalocene ?!.) How does he live? What is he doing to survive? What is he seeing, listening at the age of this new world? Plagued by the harshness of new elemental imbalance, he's falling deeper and deeper into new synesthetic hypnotic sensations". That left me in a similar state of confusion, even when it is in a language I have mastered just a bit. The music consists of four tracks and both musicians had released by Unfathomless before (Medery in Vital Weekly 1100 and 1250) and Marin in 1064). So, while I am not sure what the relation between the text and the music is here (perhaps there isn't?), I must say I quite enjoyed the music. I would think that all four pieces deal with field recordings but that these are heavily treated in various ways. Also, they layer totally different sound events together, and they give the material a sense of urgency and vibrancy. Scratching surfaces versus leaky pipes, decompressing air from containers, bubbling water and motorboats. There is throughout an excellent approach to the use of collage here, with sounds popping in and out of the mix. Twenty-five minutes in total, and a true delight. This should have been a cassette, at least! (FdW)
––– Address: https://espaces--sonores.bandcamp.com/










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