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CONJECTURE - HYDRA (CD by Zoharum) *
GAAP KVLT (CD by Zoharum) *
VIDNA OBMANA - REVEALED BY COMPOSED NATURE (CD by Zoharum) *
BUGPOWDER – CAGE TENNIS (CD by Trytone) *
WU WEI & KLAAS HEKMAN – OOSTUM WIND (CD by STROTBROCK *)
VID DRASLER & TOM JACKSON - AT THE CULTURAL HOME (CD by Sploh) *
JOCELYN ROBERT & ALEXANDRE ST-ONGE - OREMUS VERSATILE (2CD by Merles) *
GUY-FRANK PELLERIN, MATTIAS BOSS AND EUGENIO SANNA - WATER REFLECTIONS (CD by FMR) *
AARON JAY MYERS - CLEVER MACHINES (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
MO*TE - THROW A STONE (CD by Absurd Exposition) *
FLUKE MOGUL & HEULE & NISHI-SMITH - NON-DWELLER (CD by Humbler) *
THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS - CHEMICAL PLAYSCHOOL 21 + 22 (2CD by Terminal Kaleidoscope) *
ORCHESTRAMAXFIELDPARRISH - AFTER THE RAIN/THE MYSTERIES (2CD by Faith Strange) *
STRATOSPHERE - COLLABORATIONS II (CD by Midiria Records) *
PAIN INJECTION - DEADLIFE (CD by Frozen Light) *
MORGEN WURDE - INNIG (CD by Frozen Light) *
PHANTOMS & MIRAGES - THERMAL ANOMALY (CD by Frozen Light) *
SEETTON - ONIROCRITICON (CD by Dedali Opera) *
RAPHAËL PANIS - DE SECRETIS NATURAE (7" by Dedali Opera)
SONS OF VILJEMS - JELENA/STEAMING BLACK SEA (7" by Future Homes/Fang Bomb)
RE-CLIP - .HTML (7", private) *
DANIEL J. GREGORY & MATT ATKINS - PRIMITIVE OBSERVANCE (cassette by Liquid Library) *
CULT 48 - CREATURES OF THE FOREST EDIT/ORAUEN REMIX (8" by Static Caravan)
OORT_(TNO) (cassette by Static Caravan) *
TERRITORIAL GOBBING - WATCHED OVER BY THE MACHINES OF SHADDUP YOU FACE (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
REBELSERPENTGOD - LUDVS EP (CDR by Klappstuhl Records) *
SIMONE SIMS LONGO - SIMULTANEA E-ASTRAZIONI (CDR by Solitunes Records) *
ISOLATED COMMUNITY - RECYCLED ATOMS (CDR by Northumberland Audio Capture) *
NOCTURNAL HISS - DEGARDER (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
F:RAR - MAĞARA (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
ANGELO BIGNAMINI & CRISTIANO CAROSI - AUDIOREGISTRATORE DUE CAVALLI (cassette by Nausea)
ROB LYE - UN (cassette by Stairwell Editions)
CONJECTURE - HYDRA (CD by Zoharum)
GAAP KVLT (CD by Zoharum)
VIDNA OBMANA - REVEALED BY COMPOSED NATURE (CD by Zoharum)
Somewhere halfway through this CD, I looked at my desk, mildly confused, thinking: what was I playing again. I knew it was one of the three new Zoharum releases, but I forgot which one it was. I already read the information, and there was something about creatures from Greek mythology. That was the CD by Conjecture, the project of Vasilis Angelopoulos. In the same state of confusion, I wondered what the music I was hearing had to do with Greek creatures from mythology. I still don't know, to be honest. "Every track is titled after more or lesser-known mythic creatures and tells its own story". Maybe I should look up what Cerberus, chimaera and hydra were, but in the dark rhythmic soundscapes, I could read many other things. The previous three releases from him were all by Amek Tapes (Vital Weekly 1112, 1185 and 1254) and this new release continues the path he walked before, and that is some fierce, dark rhythmic music. Like a machine park in the Matrix, pounding away; a jackhammer if you will, and around these rhythms there are a lot of dark electronics, bubbling and hissing away, a swamp contaminated by those end fields of machines. You see, a completely different connotation here and one that for me equally covers this music. This is nightmare music, absolutely, but it is one of those nightmares I love.
When I first wrote about the music of Gaap Kvlt (Vital Weekly 936), I said I knew nothing about him, other than that he released a cassette and two mini CDRs before. Scratch and make it three mini CDRs, all called 'Untitled', with the first two containing four untitled pieces, and the last one with three pieces, with a title this time. This CD compiles all three of them, as Zoharum thinks that this work should be received by a wider audience, and sure, why not? The music is a fine amalgam of techno-inspired rhythms (though not floor-fillers; it's more the idea of techno song than a proper tune), musique concrète scratchings using contact microphones and obscured loops, field recordings and electronics. In these early works, I would think Gaap Kvlt is searching for a sound, before settling upon which direction to go and in these eleven tracks, there is some hesitation to be noticed, especially in the use of percussion sounds. There are minimal but already find a place in the music. There is a darkness in these pieces (one could say there is a darkness in all releases by this label, of course), be it from the use of field recordings, rhythms, or otherwise unearthly soundscapes and throughout these eleven pieces, there is growth. By the time Gaap Kvlt thinks it's wise to use track titles, the sound is complete. The rhythm is complex, has a build-up and what I, later on, heard more in their (?) music, and that is the Middle-Eastern/Muslimgauze rhythms. Not just for die-hard fans, this one, I should think. It paints a historical picture but just as well stands strongly by itself.
Following these two dark releases, it is great to sit down with something that is also dark, but it is different darkness. This release is part of an extensive program to re-issue works from the vast catalogue created over the past thirty-plus years. If I recall correctly 'Revealed By Composed Nature' was the first major release that showed the ambient side of Vidna Obmana, following a few earlier cassette releases. This new one was an LP, which at the time, 1990, was a major thing and, perhaps, it was an instant classic, as it was already issued on CD in 1993. I wrote a review of the LP in Vital 15 when it was a paper fanzine, (see advertisement), and it was rather short (if you think VW is brief, then you haven't seen what we did in the past), and it said: "presented are eight wonderful soft electronic pieces, with synthesizers and sequenced patterns. Perfect music for a moody film or a dream-away late at night". I could leave at it at that, as it is exactly that. More verbose now, I could add that Vidna Obmana's music at that time owed quite a bit to the musical world of Brian Eno, with that minor difference that Vidna Obmana sequencer based synthesizer sounds now a bit mechanical; also, I would think this is more like a slowed-down arpeggio, along with some colouring of sound effects. I quite enjoyed this, having not heard the album in a long time, and within the limits of technology that Vidna Obmana had in those days, and that is clear from this record, I found this both a nice postcard from the past and something that shows how Vidna Obmana developed over the years; growing up in public, is, I think what they say. (FdW)
––– Address: https://zoharum.bandcamp.com/
BUGPOWDER – CAGE TENNIS (CD by Trytone)
Bugpowder formerly known as Omelette, is a quartet of Tobias Klein (alto saxophone, bass clarinet), Jeroen Kimman (electric guitar, bass guitar), Jasper Stadhouders (bass guitar, acoustic guitar) and Tristan Renfrow (drums, cymbals). Klein who showed an affinity with Ornette Coleman in earlier phases of his work initiated this project that focuses on compositions by Ornette Coleman dating mainly from the 70s and 80s. From the acoustic as well as the electric – Prime Time – phase. The quartet delivers an exciting and engaging encounter with this material. Four titles come from ‘Of Human Feelings’(1982): ‘Sleeptalk’, ‘Jump Street’, ‘Times Square’ and ‘Air ship’. ‘Of Human Feelings’. An album I played over and over during a certain period in the 80s. Listening to these tracks now in the hands of Bugpowder, I stop hearing the original recordings simultaneously in my mind. Bugpowder plays these compositions with the same instrumentation as on ‘Of Human Feelings’. Bugpowder plays the pieces with verve and spirit, starting with the funky ‘Jump Street’. Other tracks date from an earlier phase of Coleman’s career with trumpet (Don Cherry) instead of guitar. ‘Street Woman’ and ‘Song for Che’ for example were both recorded in 1972. The ballad ‘Song for Che’ - composed by Charlie Haden - has Kimman in a prominent role. Although the compositions are easy to identify it is not appropriate to call them just cover versions. Klein stays most close to the playing of Coleman, but above all Kimman and Stadhouders take the opportunity to give different – sometimes freaky - treatments and approaches of the material. Most of the works are uptempo funky and jumpy compositions. This also counts for ‘W.R.U.’, a track dating from 1962 but perfectly fitting in the company of Coleman’s later work. In all a set of inspired interpretations of classic compositions of Coleman. (DM)
––– Address: http://www.trytone.org
WU WEI & KLAAS HEKMAN – OOSTUM WIND (CD by STROTBROCK)
My first response to this one was that I wanted to see what I was hearing. I couldn’t visualize the instrument I was hearing in company with the baritone sax played by Klaas Hekman. A better look at the front cover learned me more of this strange instrument. We are talking of the sheng, a traditional Chinese bamboo organ. A mouth organ with a very distinct sound. Wu Wei studied this instrument at the Shanghai Conservatory and played it in the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra. The instrument is thousands of years old. Wu Wei developed new playing techniques and introduced the instrument in the context of new avant-garde music. This became the mission of Wu Wei who nowadays lives and works in Berlin. Likewise, Klaas Hekman is a musician who devoted his musical career to one specific and unusual (solo-)instrument: the bass saxophone. He worked in a trio with Veryan Weston and Fred Lonberg-Holm. With bass-players Wilbert de Joode, William Parker and Hideji Taninaka he completed the quartet Intermission. Also he participated in De Zes Winden and De Nazaten. Since 2011 he takes part in The Noo Ones with Satyakam Mohkamsing (violin), Andro Biswane (guitar), Alan Purves (percussion) and Joost Buis (trombone and lap steel guitar). The focus of this collaboration is to integrate many different musical traditions in their improvisation. For this reason, they invited Wu Wei in 2014 as a guest for one of their projects. Hekman and Wei kept in touch and now five years later both decided on a duo project. This took place in the context of the great ZJFT-festival, a yearly festival in Groningen of jazz and improvised music, with concerts in different locations, ranging from old churches to farm stables. Last year covid changed everything. So Hekman and Wei did recordings at the end of august 2020 in a small empty church. A natural environment for an organ albeit not for an exotic one like the sheng. The cd captures nine of their improvisations that are built from contrasting elements and movements. In most of the improvisations, the sheng is played very flexibly and viable by Wei, whereas Hekman often chooses for bolded and shorter statements playing his a bit cumbersome baritone saxophone. Their excursions differ very much in dynamics and structure, so there is a lot to discover and to enjoy: the sense of melody of Wei; the sensible dialogue in ‘First Night in Oostum’, which is one of the improvisations that I liked most. Often it is aspects of their interaction that impressed me, and not so much the improvisations as a whole. For example the mysterious opening of ‘Pewter Ball’ or the intriguing opening of ‘Geräusch’. (DM)
––– Address: http://www.toondist.nl/Strotbrock.html
VID DRASLER & TOM JACKSON - AT THE CULTURAL HOME (CD by Sploh)
It’s a bright and sunny day, possibly the hottest of the year so far. All the windows and doors are open and there is a pleasant breeze wafting through the flat. I can hear children playing in gardens, BBQs are getting fired up and there is an unexpected air of positivity in the air. This is being soundtracked by ‘At the Cultural Home’. On the surface, this might seem like an odd choice of an album to listen to on such a delightful day. One might have assumed I’d be playing some sun-drenched soul or airy jazz. Instead, I’m listening to the sounds of Tom Jackson and Vid Drasler. But it works.
The music created by this duo perfectly matches the feeling of the day. Jackson’s clarinet is lyrical and buoyant. ‘Before’ opens with runs that make you giddy with joy. Drasler’s percussion never oversteps the mark. It operates to fill in the gaps left by Jackson whilst keeping the pace moving forward. A third of the way in, the mood gets more sombre and serious. This change in tone is great. It offers us, and the players, a respite from the peppy nature of the music and allows us to contemplate what happens when the good times end. This musical U-turn is fleeting, and the good vibes are back shortly. The rest of ‘Before’ follows this pattern. After a period of intense playing the duo drops back a bit, regroups, and is off again. ‘After’ feels slightly more experimental, if that is possible, with its playing. Here Jackson is the one grounding everything while Drasler is allowed to go off on percussion tangents. At its heart, it’s a thing of beauty. Being two thirds shorter than ‘Before’ also feels more immediate. The duo isn’t taking their time getting to the point. From the opening, they mean business and keep it up until the end.
What ‘At the Cultural Home’ does really well is present us with two pieces of music, one around 34 minutes the other nine, that feel fully formed. They slide out of the speakers like velvet. Jackson’s playing is flawless and Drasler sounds like he has grown a third, or fourth, arm during portions of it. It’s an album that demands to be replayed and for us to get lost in its rich, labyrinthine melodies. It just needs you to take the time to explore it. So, what are you waiting for? Explore away. (NR)
––– Address: https://sploh.bandcamp.com/
JOCELYN ROBERT & ALEXANDRE ST-ONGE - OREMUS VERSATILE (2CD by Merles)
There is a fine line between automation and complacency. Due to tasks being completed without much involvement from us, we have time to do other things. But what if that started to happen in music? What if instruments played themselves? What would we do then? On ‘Oremus Versatile’ Jocelyn Robert & Alexandre St-Onge don’t really answer this question, but they do put it to practice.
The album features a Disklavier piano. This is a standard piano to which an electronic system has been added. What this means is it is now a mechanical piano that can be played by the computer. Initially, Robert and St-Onge worked on music where both artists could play simultaneously on the same instrument. What could go wrong eh? After listening to the album it's hard to tell what an accident was and what was planned, but the music is transfixing in a way little else I’ve heard this year is.
What makes the album work is who fluid it all feels. The music flows from the speakers like dandelion seeds in the air. It drifts about in a hazy, going this way and that. Once you think you have it work out, it starts to buffet another way. There are moments to ‘Oremus Versatile’ that is so touching. ‘Bifurcations’ has sections that make me want to cry. The combination of the incredible piano work and St-Onge’s vocals is something else. So tender and heartfelt. It reminds me that music has the power to utterly move me to a jabbering wreck. Around the halfway more ‘Pluie, Jamais’ launches into this delicate run of notes, while a second set dance around them. It truly is a wonderful thing.
‘Oremus Versatile’ is a rare album that feels like a pure collaboration. At no points can we say “Oh yes, this is Robert’s music” nor can we say “St-Onge is the dominate writer here” but what we do hear is a unique piece of music that blends both styles into something new and exciting. This is an album I will return to again and again. Hopefully, with each listens I’ll unveil more of its secrets and delicately devastating melodies. (NR)
––– Address: http://merles.ca/
GUY-FRANK PELLERIN, MATTIAS BOSS AND EUGENIO SANNA - WATER REFLECTIONS (CD by FMR)
There are times when I really enjoy improvised music. When it is done well it’s the best thing in the world. So free and soaring. However, when it isn’t I feel that I only want to listen to structured music, because if it's bad then at least I know they planned it, rather than winging it. On ‘Water Reflections’ by Guy-Frank Pellerin, Mattias Boss and Eugenio Sanna-Water Reflections we get all of this.
The music ranges from scratchy guitars, wailing horns and xxx. It feels like it's made through passion. Every note means something, even if they don’t work in the piece. They are there for a reason. It’s our job to work out why. During the introduction to ‘Hyperunder’ there is a brilliant call and response between the horns and vocals. Whatever the horn does the voice tries to mimic it. It works incredibly well and is pretty funny too, but then, around the final third, there is a section of just plinky strings and muffled strumming. It works well but doesn’t really add anything to the song, other than prolonging it for another few minutes before the final push at the end.
There are moments during ‘Water Reflections’ that really get under your skin. This is both a good and a bad thing. There is a section during ‘Gem’ that is sublime. They speak to me in a way little else has this year, then there are sections during ‘Welcome Cavallo’ that make me want to turn the album off and never play it again. They infuriate me and make my skin crawl but I keep listening as there is something about ‘Water Reflections’ that is compelling. I can’t turn it off no matter how much it annoys me as I hope something that will delight me will be on next. And this is the joy of the album. You never know what you are going to get.
‘Water Reflections’ isn’t the kind of album to play in the background. It’s the kind of album to devote yourself to 100%. It might be advisable to listen to it in sections, taking a track or two at a time, as listening to the whole thing back to back might cause nausea or annoyance, but when the songs work, they really work. (NR)
––– Address: http://fmr-records.com/
AARON JAY MYERS - CLEVER MACHINES (CD by New Focus Recordings)
The beauty of music is you don’t have to pay attention to someone’s career to enough their latest offering. This is true of Aaron Jay Myers new album ‘Clever Machines’. I heard his 2018 album ‘But I’m Doing it Anyway’ and enjoyed it but then didn’t think to keep a track of what he might do next. I don’t think me taking my eye off the ball has affected my enjoyment of ‘Clever Machines’, maybe anticipation might have detracted from the music somehow, however, I wasn’t prepared for how much I was wrapped up in the music from the outset.
The standout track is ‘Night of Pan’. The toy piano sounds like sinister lounge music. Shrill flute rasps remind us that all might not be as it seems and the vibraphone is, well, exquisite. It seems to capture everything that Myers was trying to express, but do it in such a way that it exudes fun. Which isn’t what you expect from chamber music. Instead of the challenging listen, we are presented with something that is complex, but easily digestible.
There is something delightful about ‘Clever Machines’. The melodies are wonky but catchy. During ‘Have-Not’ the clarinet feels alive while the marimba dances in the background. Together they create an atmosphere of whimsy that is hard to ignore. However, this isn’t ‘wacky’ music, oh no, there is an element of terror just lurking below the surface. It reminds me of walking on a frozen lake as a child. My legs were slipping and sliding all over the shop, but at the back of my mind was the thought “The ice could break at any moment”. That thought kept me ground and prevented me from trying to showboat. I get that exact feeling during ‘Clever Machines’. While I am totally wrapped up at the moment I’m always aware that it could all come to a devastating end if I’m not too careful. (NR)
––– Address: http://newfocusrecordings.com
MO*TE - THROW A STONE (CD by Absurd Exposition)
Mo*Te “Guided by the dosed mind of Fumiyuki Nagura”, whose work appears to have “themes” - though just what I'm unsure of. Seven tracks here which can hear for yourself @ https://absurdexposition.bandcamp.com/album/throw-a-stone, Go to Flashback, Up End, Dark Bed, Old Acid, Out Cry, Street Scream & Out Cry/X Remix. Discogs lists 9 releases for mo*te, starting in 1996 with a 20-year gap from 1998 to 2018. All tracks have a background mechanist, repetitive noise, 'found sound' of machinery. On each track, there are variations of timbre. Dark Bed has some musical instrumentation towards its end, and Out Cry what could be 'normal music' in a short second burst at the end, there seems to be some flute-like music in Street Scream, again though almost buried in the industrial machinery, then there are lower pitches musical warbles, some human cries... the final track much more definitive rhythms, maybe chanting and some pitched musical accompaniment again swathed in industrial white noise distortion in which this track ends. But as I said you can hear this yourself. And what to make of this? The tracks are as enigmatic as their titles, and there is little information to go on. Are these deliberate 'throwaway' pieces of no aesthetics. They lack any visceral violence of harsh noise, due to being structured on simple mechanical pulses. They could be like pop art cutup collages, but the sameness stops any playfulness. Maybe they are just textural variations? It's difficult 20 years on since 'noise' broke with any criteria to see why this was made, and maybe that could be a positive achievement, of none achievement. In that case, the mechanical tracks could continue indefinitely until the equipment or the listener expired. (jliat)
––– Address: http://screamandwrithe.com
FLUKE MOGUL & HEULE & NISHI-SMITH - NON-DWELLER (CD by Humbler)
Sometimes I think that in the not so far away future, Vital Weekly will just write about improvisation related music, the last bastion of physical releases when I look at the daily intake of music. Some of those releases are just not 'me', and some are. I reviewed work by Jacob Felix Heule before, and while you could say his work is very much from the world of improvised music, it is something I enjoy quite a lot. There is a sonic radicalism in his music that I enjoy very much. On November 29, 2019, he recorded a trio with himself playing the bass drum, and Kanoko Nishi-Smith on koto and Gabby Fluke-Mogul on violin. While the two string instruments are easily be recognized, I found it hard to say where I heard the bass drum, but I assume Heule uses objects and other parts of the percussion (I believe to hear a cymbal or two) upon the skin and a bow on the sides of the instrument to generate similar scraping sounds as the two other players. All this scraping, scratching and plucking of strings results in a busy pattern of sounds, tumbling and falling apart, and it reminded me, at times of the music of Agencement, but fuller, covering a wider palette of the frequency spectrum. I like the way it goes up and down, at times taking a more intimate aspect of their sonic radicalism, and then, slow and steadfast, moving into something that wild and chaotic, and then deconstruct that until it is stripped of mayhem, and we're back to another point for a re-start. This is a long CD, two pieces of around thirty minutes, but an excellent blast at that. (FdW)
––– Address: https://humbler.bandcamp.com/
THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS - CHEMICAL PLAYSCHOOL 21 + 22 (2CD by Terminal Kaleidoscope)
Earlier this week, The Legendary Pink Dots came up in a private conversation, with an expert and we talked about the various incarnations of the group over the forty plus years and that prompted me to play some of the earliest Pink Dots, when they have, personal-wise the biggest line-up. It was also the time I first discovered the Pink Dots. One of the releases I played was 'Chemical Playschool 3 & 4', which is still an excellent ride of experiment and songs. That is something that hasn't changed if you play 'Chemical Playschool 21 + 22', which handed to me a few days later. Unlike 'regular' releases by the Dots, 'Chemical Playschool' is their playground to combine songs and experiments and as such, there is not a lot of difference between '3 & 4' and '21 & 22', except that the old one uses a much different line-up, with guitars, drums, violin and synthesizers, which all had a rockier sound, whereas these days the band, consisting of Erik Drost (guitar; he joined after 2000), The Silverman (keyboards, devices) and Edward Ka-spel (voices, keyboards, devices; the latter two are founding members), has a more electronic feel, despite Drost's guitar injections., Quentin Rollet adds saxophone and clarinet on a couple of pieces, and Patrick Q. Wright violin and keyboards on one track; he's also an early member. In recent years, so it seems to me, the Pink Dots' music is more about the texts/lyrics/poetry by Ka-spel, who use a more narrative way to deliver his words. The music serves as the dramatic soundscape in which all of this happens. Even for someone such as myself, not particularly interested in lyrics, understand the dramatic impact of Ka-spel's voice, and it is embedded in the music, rather than something that is on top of the music. The Pink Dots are in excellent form, with their psychedelic outburst, dreamy soundscapes, free jamming, spacious electronics and the always recognizable voice of Ka-spel. Less rocky than years ago, but still the perfect balance between 'song' and 'experiment'. (FdW)
––– Address: https://legendarypinkdots1.bandcamp.com/
ORCHESTRAMAXFIELDPARRISH - AFTER THE RAIN/THE MYSTERIES (2CD by Faith Strange)
Mike Fazio is a busy bee. I am sure I uttered such words before. Maybe I also remarked that Fazio uses various names to release his musical products and that I am not always sure what the differences are. The previous two releases from him (Vital Weekly 1282) were under the guises of ÆRA and A Guide For Reason, now it is time for orchestramaxfieldparrish, with a double CD of recordings from last year. All three projects deal with atmospheric music of some kind, and if anything, I'd say that as orchestramaxfieldparrish he works with a more experimental set of sounds, or at least with a more experimental outcome of his ambient work. Here he uses field recordings, a variety of louder drones, may be generated from the guitar, but I can just easily imagine these to processed field recordings or synthesizers. Most likely is a combination of all of this. Sometimes the music has a drone-like character, but there is also room for percussion (in 'Like A Pagan Priestess Reads Aloud Sing-Song From The Thick Babylonian Dream Book'; this on the second CD, 'The Mysteries', where all six pieces have such long titles as opposed to the first disc, where it is all quite short) and strange abrupt changes within the music. Also, Fazio uses 'other' sorts of rhythm, a drum machine, perhaps, right from the start in the title piece of the first disc. This sounded like a stripped-down/deconstructed piece of techno music. Maybe I am reading too much in the use of the word 'orchestra', as being a part of the band name, but I think there is also an orchestral feeling to the music, and that Fazio uses samples of orchestral passages, spun out like a mighty drone. The music on 'The Mysteries' form altogether some sort of narrative, or at least, that I what I believe to hear. At thirty-six minutes I wouldn't have minded this to be longer. The first disc has pieces that stand by themselves, rather without a thematic approach or story running through them. As you can see, orchestramaxfieldparrish goes in many directions, and yet, maybe, strangely enough, this works well within the overall picture of the album. This is throughout an excellent album of the experimental side of drones and atmospheres and bouncing off in various directions; as such, it is an album for people who like to take a risk. (FdW)
––– Address: https://faithstrange.bandcamp.com/
STRATOSPHERE - COLLABORATIONS II (CD by Midiria Records)
Stratosphere is an ambient drone project of Ronald Marien, living and working in Belgium. After a few solo albums, he released the first collaborations album in 2018. He collaborated with 9 musicians like Karen Willems, Misantronics and Georgeson. The project was an experiment for Ronald Marien, because mostly he works on his own with a lot of control in his music. The release party was in April 2018 in the Bouckenborgh castle in Merksum, close to Antwerp. The evening was full of drones and ongoing sounds. Five musicians played together with Stratosphere and in the end, all musicians were on stage. The musicians Asthoreth, N, Adian Baker and Dirk Serries are pretty well-known in the guitar drone scene and Tom Malmerdier is a great adventurous drummer. A beautiful evening… Three years later the album Collaborations II is released by the Midira Records from Germany. The layout of the album has created by N with photo’s of the castle and the mastering has been done by Dirk Serries, who created a studio atmosphere of the live recordings. The album is not concert documentation, but a document on its own. Each track has its own style in which the styles of the different musicians melt together into harmony. The shamanistic voice of Ashtoreth versus the soft sounds of Stratosphere, or the minimalistic intense drones of N and the slow construction of the piece with Dirk Serries and Tom Malmerdier. The second collaboration with Dirk Serries and Tom Malmendier has a more post-rock atmosphere. “The Final Conclusion” is the apotheosis of the long-lasting project of Ronald Marien. The sextet knows how to construct a solid sound. Although all musicians have a lot of skills to create massive sounds, no one asks attention to his contribution to the collaboration. I think this is the power of this successful project. The musicians keep on collaborating and there is no completion. A hopeful musical statement in this competitive ages. (JKH)
––– Address: https://www.midirarecords.com
PAIN INJECTION - DEADLIFE (CD by Frozen Light)
MORGEN WURDE - INNIG (CD by Frozen Light)
PHANTOMS & MIRAGES - THERMAL ANOMALY (CD by Frozen Light)
With a name such as Pain Injection, you expect drama; well, at least I do. Or harsh noise, but maybe I was thinking of Pain Jerk. Frozen Light had, at the time of writing these words, no information online, but I found this "DSBM Dark Ambient band formed by a member of Zoloft Evra, Sacrimoon, Lifeless, Nocturnal Degrade, Trauma, Catelepsia and special guess Tenebra from Dreariness". I had to look up that acronym, thinking it was something about bondage, but it is "depressive suicidal black metal", and is "a sub-genre of black metal that focuses on building an atmosphere of darkness and depression." And just as the sun is shining and life looks good (well, hinting of a return to whatever we thought was 'normal'). The band, four people whose names I can't read in this hand-writing font, play synth, drones, sampler, drum programming, guitar and duties are multiplied by these members. I can be very short about this. I am sure this is a great release, I am convinced there is a big market out there for this is, whose clients I will not describe nor value, but this music didn't do anything for me. Not only that, but I don't care for lyrics in general, so not for the suicidally depressed version either.
Also, Morgen Wurde is a new name for me, even when 'Innig' is the sixth album from Wolfgang Röttger, who lives in Kiel near the Baltic Sea in Germany. According to the label, he "creates amazing, grotesque music that zooms deep into souls, magnifying emotions as if perceived through a burning lens. An engulfing ethereal stream of transcendent feelings, making the listener drift through the human condition in slow motion. Cinematic sound masses that aim for intensity and vigorousness, for majestic and threatening ambiguity", and who am I to disagree? Both this one and the Pain Injection release made me think we could employ a writer for this sort of dramatic, ritualistic (dare I say 'gothic'?) music. Morgen Wurde s also about vocals, full of pain, frustration, anger, sadness and whatever else the human condition in pain has and sets this to music that is equally dramatic, atmospheric, dark and spooky. It is not drone-like. But touches upon melody and rhythm, but all of which are pushed to the background; sadly. I and lyrics, you know the drill. While not entirely my cup of tea, I still enjoyed it to some extent. Mainly because it is different from many of the other releases this week and still within the range of whatever it is that I write about. The oddball out that is still part of the game.
Oddly, so I thought, the band is Phantoms & Mirages and not Thermal Anomaly. Maybe it isn't odd. I don't know. I visited their Facebook page for this project and the only thing I learned is that this is their debut release, following some online releases. No names, no dates, nothing. That never makes life easy, or a long review. From what I gather, hearing the six pieces on this album is that there is the use of synthesizers, sampling, sound effects and field recordings, and all of that results in quite the noisy variation of ambient music. Especially in the first two pieces, there are some pretty crude loops employed that aren't easy to digest. Getting beyond that, the album grew on me, as the distorted processing of field recordings (and keep in mind I am guessing here) worked quite well in terms of the apocalyptic soundtrack, the final destruction of machine city if you will and the sound sources here are part of leaky gas installations, exploding oil pipelines or whatever post-industrial metaphor you choose. There is still quite some sonic depth in these tales of nightmares re-lived and this is something to play at full volume (if you can do that), that gave the music more sense. The noisy end of ambient isn't something new or something that hasn't been done before, but Phantoms & Mirages certainly give a twist of their own. Leave out the overtly harsh noise edge, I'd say, and let the 'softer' (for whatever that is worth) side grow further. (FdW)
––– Address: https://frozenlightlabel.bandcamp.com/
SEETTON - ONIROCRITICON (CD by Dedali Opera)
RAPHAËL PANIS - DE SECRETIS NATURAE (7" by Dedali Opera)
These are two projects by Raphaël Panis. The first one he labels a side project, exploring "the possible links between sound and visual". His first CD contained imaginary soundtracks, and this new has proposal for a soundtrack to a film by Gilles Daubeuf. The cover mentions a few inspirational pieces by Lewis Carroll, H.P. Lovecraft and others. The music here is quite different from the other work I heard from him so far (Vital Weekly 1232 and 1251), and as we will see in a bit. Here no cut-up or collages, but slowly moving electronic music. It is hard to say what this is that Panis uses to create this music. This could be a modular synthesizer set-up, but just as well, this might be created with the use of granular synthesis. I would think the latter is the most likely candidate. At seventy-four minutes this is quite a long release, but sit back with the collected writing of H.P. Lovecraft and you will be easily sucked into the strange sound world of Panis as much as stories about monsters. Throughout the music is quiet and not too demanding, slowly moving and as an eerie character. There is among these eleven tracks sufficient variation to be noted, from soft crackling to sustaining drones, from surprising lightness to deep darkness. This is slow music for slow films, preferably in black and white.
The two previous reviews from Panis were about the first two instalments of 'De Secretis Naturae' and now the third arrives, and a fourth will be released towards the end of the year. Both sides are again four minutes and thirty-three seconds and on Bandcamp, it says "construction of sound spaces, inspired by listening to nature. Technically, using only devices built by the composer". I have no idea what that last remark means, as listening to the music, I would think that Panis only used recordings from nature, wind, rain, and both of these with quite some force. Various of such sound events are stuck together, especially in 'Fragment 6', also using stereo separation. 'Fragment 5' is a bit sparser and develops linearly, while 'Fragment 6' has a lot of force and moves back and forth between the various forces. As I was playing this, it occurred to me that Panis could have very well not have used any field recordings, but modular electronics emulations of just that. A most curious record. (FdW)
––– Address: https://raphaelpanis.bandcamp.com/
SONS OF VILJEMS - JELENA/STEAMING BLACK SEA (7" by Future Homes/Fang Bomb)
New names all around here; Sons Of Viljems are from East-London and consist of Andrea Giommi ("possibly known from psych-noise acts such as The Emerald Leaves, Edible Woman and Leg Leg"), and Nejc Haberman, ("long-time bass player with Slovenian Ethno-jazz ensemble Jazoo"). Future homes is a subdivision of Fang Bomb; I heard of them before. The two pieces on this 7" are an excellent hybrid of dark dramatic pop melancholy. There is that film noir sound, slow, but the saxophone goes out of control on 'Steaming Black Sea'. The bass has a dominant role here, and the guitar moves gently around. It has elements of improvisation, dream pop, dub and smokey jazz club. 'Jelena' also has vocals, the other side is instrumental. These two pieces would work very well in black and white film, I'd say. I played this a few times in a row, and I liked it a lot. This is the sort of thing that works well on a 7", with just one downside: there should be more than this. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.fangbomb.com
RE-CLIP - .HTML (7", private)
DANIEL J. GREGORY & MATT ATKINS - PRIMITIVE OBSERVANCE (cassette by Liquid Library)
Here we have two examples of problematic covers. The first is a 7", plain white sleeve, white labels and one side of music, and that is stamped with .html. I had to draft in the hive mind to get the obvious clue, 'look at the end groove, mate', and so I found it. The other release came along with the Territorial Gobbing release, so I knew Matt Atkins was the person to ask what this, and he told me, and also expressed his surprise about the lack of text on his cassette; there is none. The vagueness in the presentation is what made me put these together.
I located Re-clip via their (?) Bandcamp, I see a lot of releases, presumable a lot of records, and many of these can be downloaded for free. I wish I had some more time available to investigate all of this, as from the few fragments I got very interested. Design-wise I am reminded of Sähkö Recordings, and music the pieces on this 7" showed love for plunderphonics and techno. As if someone is chopping up records in a strange, non-logical and sticking fragments in loop-form together. That doesn't result in straightforward dance music as such, but a very interesting hybrid of dance music, cut-up, collage and, oddly enough, with a strange groove, reminding me of early SND, especially in the second track (only two on this one-sided 7", plus three more digital bonus tracks). All this may have been very obscure, but it opened up a whole new thing for me, and they had the bonus of me asking around on social media.
Matt Atkins has been in these pages quite a lot, and Daniel J. Gregory also, but a lot less. Both are musicians with a strong love for improvisation, in the department of non-tradition. Atkins is a percussion player, but uses only objects in his works, next to tapes and electronics, and I assume from his previous work, that Gregory does much the same; or perhaps he uses a bit more tapes, Dictaphones and electronics, as that is also something present in this music. Bandcamp isn't brimmed with information either about this release, but I would think this is the result of playing together, in a concert situation. There is an immediate quality to the music, almost as if they placed Walkman on the table with all the objects they use, 'hit' record and took it from there. Lots of objects abuse, intercepted by musical bits lifted from Dictaphones and feedback from getting too close to the amplifier. At times pretty noisy, but that is inherent in playing the musique concrète in such rough environments. Think of it as John Cage's 'Cartridge Music', of which he said, 'don't leave the feedback out'. This is a great clash of acoustic and electronics and at thirty minutes, the right length for it. (FdW)
––– Address: https://re-clip.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://liquidlibrary.bandcamp.com/
CULT 48 - CREATURES OF THE FOREST EDIT/ORAUEN REMIX (8" by Static Caravan)
OORT_(TNO) (cassette by Static Caravan)
While there have been occasional rumours of Static Caravan ceasing trading, I am happy to report they are still around and their releases continue to surprise and delight me.
Perhaps no surprise is the mystery act, as there are plenty of those around. Add to that Cult 48. They have an album out, and they mailed some CDRs to Static Caravan. That went to "unknown remixers for egoless electronica personalities" and 111 copies are pressed on a lathe cut record. I quickly checked the album, on the Bandcamp page of Cult 48, and notice that the remixes/edits are similarly. Not sure what makes something an edit and what extents to a remix, but alas. 'Creatures Of The Forest' arrives in the form of an 'edit' is a downtempo song with sampled voices, skipping and scratching around and 'Orauen' is a remix, with similar elements, but it comes with a few additional synth parts, perhaps it is that makes this a remix? There is a fine lo-fi element to these electronic songs that I enjoyed a lot. Nothing too smooth and neatly rough around the edges. Forget what I said before about the world of remixes and enjoy this.
Surprise, surely, can be found with Oort_(TNO), a "power trio from the South West of England, grown out of a love of late 1960's and early 70's jazz-rock, and prog as well, as well noise, drone and folk influences". David Jaycock (guitar, synth and zither), Andrew Burge (bass) and Paul Bullock (drums) make up the power chords here and while I can't say I know much about the music that influences them, I must say that I played all of this with pleasant interest. The music has a pleasurable directness, recorded without too much brushing and polishing, which works wonder I think. Some of their jazz licks are too much for me, but just as easily, halfway through a song, they can slip into something that rockier and stranger, which is much more up my alley. It is music that I haven't heard from this label before, and it shows that they still have an excellent nose for sorting the weirdest bands in the country. Not really Vital Weekly music, though, as much as I loved the total wackiness of it all, even when I am sure if that is the idea of it all. For all I know, this might be damn serious. (FdW)
––– Address: http://staticcaravan.org/index.html
TERRITORIAL GOBBING - WATCHED OVER BY THE MACHINES OF SHADDUP YOU FACE (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)
In recent times I reviewed various works by Theo Gowan, also known as Territorial Gobbing. Here he has two pieces, in total thirty minutes, and the cover lists the instruments used; "balloons, violin, virtual modular synth, vocals, Dictaphones, reel-to-reel tape, and computer". As before, Territorial Gobbing operates on the noisy end of improvisation and makes a hell of a racket. A pleasant racket as such, I must say. The music is a wild mix of all of these objects being touched, hit, scratched, scraped, or otherwise maltreated until a sound collage appears. The voice, also as before, is an important feature. Not to sing but as an additional layer within the music. I am reminded of the work of Sindre Bjerga or some of the more radical sound poets. However, I am not sure if Territorial Gobbing sees his work in a similar sound poetry direction. I would rather think this is all in the spirit of improvised music, department electro-acoustic and noise. The noise is not achieved by using a plethora of electronics, but by using loud and brittle sounds, hard cuts and strange movements. This is loud, sure, but not for the sake of being loud. Territorial Gobbing knows very well how to back down and take matters to a quieter place and let it organically develop over there. It is too short for my taste. (FdW)
––– Address: https://mrmrecordings.bandcamp.com/
REBELSERPENTGOD - LUDVS EP (CDR by Klappstuhl Records)
Thank god for Bandcamp. I wouldn't be able to figure out the band name here from the font used. It says rebelserpentgod, no capitals, thank you. Behind is Robbert Heijnen, who is one of the founding members of Psychic Warriors Of Gaia, and who started Exquisite Corpse, following his departure from PWOG. Class acts in the world of Dutch music, in my book. I wasn't aware he was still into music, so this release is quite a surprise. Don't let that 'EP' mislead you. Yes, there are four tracks, like a proper EP would have, but each of these pieces lasts fifteen minutes. Klappstuhl calls this "minimal tribal acid", which is what it is. Four pieces of it. I understand from the cover this is partly ancient music, from 1988 and 1997. This is a most enjoyable batch of acid music songs, I must say. The weather today is hot and sweaty and while there haven't been large scale dance parties for a long time, I can sense the excitement of a dance festival again and the pounding minimalist beats of rebelserpentgod work wonders here. I sat lounging, sipping a cold drink and not doing much, even when the music is uplifting and driving. Lovely stuff! It is nothing new under the acid, save perhaps for the tribalistic element in the percussion used, but that can also be a devil in a detail. This is exactly the sort of release I like to play when finishing Vital Weekly, re-reading and adding links. Music to work by. (FdW)
––– Address: https://klappstuhl.bandcamp.com/
SIMONE SIMS LONGO - SIMULTANEA E-ASTRAZIONI (CDR by Solitunes Records)
This is a new name for me and from what I could find, most information is in Italian. From the Bandcamp page (in English) I understand that he composed the sixteen pieces here from 2017 to 2020 and that is part of a larger audiovisual work, "where the video is used to extend the sonic possibilities and joins the audio with a correlation of visual music creating a new sensory dimension. Some pieces are accompanied by a visual representation also as fixed-media acquiring a video-art dimension." There is some text about the music, about the complexity, about the organic textures and computer music. Lots of words to make it more artful, I think, but to each his own. That we are dealing with computer music is clear from the first piece. This is something from the world where Pan Sonic meets Oval, but in both references not quite there yet. It doesn't have that strong beat, but the overall rhythm is used, and from the world of Oval Longo takes the glitches and incorporates that within the music. While using ideas from others (and honestly, who doesn't), Longo creates something that I think we can hear his own sound. In his approach, he goes for an extremer sound than Oval would do and some of the frequencies he touches upon a radicality that owns to the world of noise, but everything remains locked inside the computer and never it becomes 'real' noise. Quite a powerful release, especially if you choose to up the volume quite a bit and give all the details hidden in this extra space. (FdW)
––– Address: https://solitunesrecords.bandcamp.com/
ISOLATED COMMUNITY - RECYCLED ATOMS (CDR by Northumberland Audio Capture)
Ever since the start of the new year, I have the feeling of being buried in review copies, and we have almost consistently massive weeklies. This week is no different, and it is never easy to make a start in the morning. But today is different. Out of the pile I take Isolated Community to start with as this is something I am curious about. I enjoyed their previous three releases, and I am very curious to hear what they up to now. Richard Dunn and Rachael Talbot Dunn, the two who make up Isolated Community, never gave much information, but this time around they enclosed a list of all the instruments they used, specified per track. This ranges from Viking horn, synthesizers, Bodhran, electric piano, radio, theramini, rusty wheel, location recordings, vocals samples, and, on the last track, a washing machine. Isolated Community continue to surprise me with their high-quality musical output. The variety of instruments used, usually two or three per track, leads to a variety of musical interests here, but throughout the music is to be found in the world of ambient and industrial, but most of the time also with a touch of melody, such as in the dramatic opener 'Of Them No Trace'. That already has the markings of film music, and that is another thread that runs through these pieces. Each of these can easily be hung onto the big screen for an arthouse film that needs some dark, dramatic soundscape. I compared the music of Isolated Community to that of zoviet*france, and I continue to do so here, but I have to note one important difference and that is that Isolated Community keep their pieces brief. The nine songs on this album clocks in at just under forty minutes. All the ingredients from before are here, lots of space, a bit of rhythm, a touch of melody, extensive use of sound effects and a further expansion of their sound. Going from strength to strength! (FdW)
––– Address: https://isolatedcommunity.bandcamp.com/
NOCTURNAL HISS - DEGARDER (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
F:RAR - MAĞARA (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
At the time of writing these words, there is nothing online about Nocturnal Hiss and the cover doesn't provide much information besides that this was recorded last year. No band members, no instruments. From my vantage point, I'd say it is a one-person act with a few electronic devices, influenced by a bunch of variables when it comes to the word noise. Harsh electronic noise from the HNW legacy meets up with all the extremes from the world of rhythm; I am thinking Gabber (not as fast though), hardcore techno and the industrial variations we know from the likes of Esplendor Geometrico and Pan Sonic. For no particular reason, other, perhaps than that is short, I had it on repeat while figuring out a new ventilation device, packing up some orders, reading a bit and such mundane activities and Nocturnal Hiss were crashing their waves in the background. A most enjoyable crash as such it was. Whenever I was done with one thing, I did a fist pump, mimicking a noise vocalist Whitehouse-style, along with Nocturnal Hiss, which, come to think of it is an odd name for a noise group, as it sounds like one of those apps for insomniacs, and if anything, the music here will keep you wide awake. I have no idea if there are tons of hardcore rhythm 'n noise outfits (misfits might be a better word) out there working similarly, but I found all of this most enjoyable. Mainly because there is so little of this that I hear. This is little over half an hour of sonic bliss.
Melih Sarigöl is the person behind f:rar, who is from Berlin. During the first lockdown in 2020, he recorded these pieces as improvisations on a modular system using field recordings from his hometown. "It aims to re-interpret psychological and sociological situations created around lockdown as small stories and proposes a virtual tour in Berlin of that times while using the analogy of the cave to establish a connection to humans ancient fear of nature." That is not something I have derived from the music, to be honest, as I found much of this quite abstract. I guess that happens. It is not something I heard the first time I played, before reading these lines and not something I hear now that I know. The title is the Turkish word for 'cave', and maybe I can relate to that word in combination with the music. I can certainly see a form of isolation in this music, a somewhat closed sound if you will, even when f:rar occasionally uses rhythms, such as in the finale, entitled 'Postdamm Syndrome', which almost a floor-filling dance piece. In other pieces, however, there is something abstract and alien, a world alone, if you will. Sometimes with a biting harsh edge; isolation is no fun, is the lesson we learned in the last year. Whatever field recordings were used here, I have no idea. It is fed through the modular electronics, and we only hear what comes out of it, and that is not a sound I encountered before, not here, nor in Berlin. The result is what I would call a nightmarish soundtrack, fit to guide you through Dystopia, and it works well. Drone meets noise meets rhythm, and it is a fine dance they perform. (FdW)
––– Address: https://emerge.bandcamp.com/
ANGELO BIGNAMINI & CRISTIANO CAROSI - AUDIOREGISTRATORE DUE CAVALLI (cassette by Nausea)
This duo met online in 2017 and at the end of the year they toured together in the north of Italy, but it took some years to play together. The result of that can be found on this cassette. This is an improvisation that includes the use of "magnetic tapes, synthesizers and various objects." Bignamini is someone whose work I have reviewed before; he is also part of a psych-rock band The Great Saunites, but also more experimental projects such as Giacinto, Lucifer big band, Filtro, Billy Torello, and he has solo works. I don't think I had the pleasure of hearing music by Cristiano Carosi before, who is from Rome, and of whom we know nothing more than that he works with "tape loops from field recordings, found sounds and synthesizers". What I heard from Bignamini shines through in this material too, perhaps now doubled, and this is a crude take on musique concrète and live electronics. It builds on the tradition of MEV, Morphogenesis and, say, Kontakta, in combination with very early Merzbow. Objects are amplified, tapes are scratches, electronics are distorted and the occasional lapse into feedback is not covered up, but celebrated as another element in the music. All of this is set to fine use in the musical collage that is this music. There is throughout an excellent vibrancy to be noted here, mainly due to the taping of the proceedings in the space in which this was performed. Short, twenty-five or so minutes, and to the point. That's how I like such releases. (FdW)
––– Address: https://nauseadevivre.bandcamp.com/
ROB LYE - UN (cassette by Stairwell Editions)
As far as I know, this is my first encounter with the work of Rob Lye, who had two previous releases on the same label. He is from London and works in both music and visual arts. His "preoccupation with the perception of time" is the basis of his work, and he uses a guitar to that end. I would think also of field recordings and a firm amount of computer technology. On his cassette, there are eleven pieces of music, somewhere between two and six minutes. Sometimes the guitar can be recognized, while in other instances it seems to have vanished in the world zeroes and ones. The music is quiet and introspective, most of the time. Not demanding too much of your attention, but a gentle ride along the waves. Like the guitar playing itself, the word 'delicate' can be attached to the glitches, scratches and other transformations that happen within the music. It is difficult not to think of the work of Fennesz, but when looking for differences, I'd say the work of Lye is gentler, shorter and less in the domain of drone music. I enjoyed the sparse character of the music, which works well. Perhaps the music isn't that 'new', but you could ask 'what's new' or 'why bother about that?' (FdW)
––– Address: https://stairwelleditions.bandcamp.com/
Vital - The Complete Collection 1987-1995
Before Vital Weekly there was Vital, a Xeroxed fanzine covering experimental, electronic andelectro-acoustic music; interviews, reviews, in-depth discussion articles, background. All 44 issues in one hardcover book; 580 pages. More information: http://kormplastics.nl/vtcc.html
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