number 1298
week 34

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VAN STIEFEL - SPIRITS (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
Q & A – THE NEW ME (CD by Reqords) *
HIVE MIND - HOLLOW SLUMBER (CD by Difficult Interactions) *
BIJWERKING - TIJD (CDR, private) *
BIJWERKING - MUUR (CDR, private) *
MARIA CARLAS & MYLO CYWITZ – H32212HON932 (CDR by Toztizok Zoundz) *
ASHCIRCLE - BURNT OUT (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
R|E (CDR compilation by Attenuation Circuit)
E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S. - TRUST IN A SCIENIC LANDSCAPE (CDR, private) *
E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S. - BEHEADINGS #2 (cassette, private) *
E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S. - E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S. TO DIRTY​-​UP YOUR SONG (cassette, private) *
E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S. - NITRIC (CDR, private) *
NICOLAS CLAIR - UN TRUC COME TRUE (cassette by Transcachette Tapes)
AKLENA (cassette by Alcôve) *


It has been quite a while since I heard 'Panta Rei' by Bernard Zwijzen, also known as Sonmi451 (Vital Weekly 1108). He returns with 'Seven Signals In The Sky', which doesn't have seven tracks, but ten. From Discogs I learned that Somni451 is "is a character from David Mitchell's novel "Cloud Atlas". The tale takes place in "Nea So Copros", a dystopian future Korea, where a genetically engineered fabricant works as a server in an underground diner. The aspiring efforts of the rebellious clone to become enlightened are brutally oppressed by the totalitarian, consumer-driven regime that created and exploited her kind." The music Zwijsen creates has very little to do with dystopian futures, but everything here is about ambient, melancholy and such things, via the use of electronics (all duly listen on the cover, but I am not an expert, so that is a bit lost on me). Sonmi451's music is all in a slow flow being played out. It seems that this time around there are no additional instruments, other than the voice. I am not sure if it Zwijsen's voice, or something that he took from somewhere (there is no credit for it on the cover). The voice(s) have the same dreamy character as the music and throughout there is a vaguely cosmic character in the way Zwijsen handles his electronics, but there is also a connection to the lo-fi world with grainy field recordings played out in the background, plus maybe some unstable loops to add the moody atmosphere. Moody, but, as said, not dystopian. The music is just somewhat dark, sometimes, but the flickering of light is also no stranger here. It is rainy here today, a bit cold for the summer (and I know unlike many other places), which I enjoy and this is one very fine soundtrack for such a slow and somewhat colder day. It is music that colours the day according to the drifting clouds overhead; sometimes greyish and something bright blue. (FdW)
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VAN STIEFEL - SPIRITS (CD by New Focus Recordings)

As far as I understand, Van Stiefel is a composer for the guitar and his works are performed by others. With 'Spirits' he wanted to do an album himself, playing his compositions. An album in the tradition of Les Paul, Chet Aitkens and Glen Campbell; a studio album of layered guitar pieces. I am playing this with much interest and an open mind, but at the same time, I am not too sure about this album. It is not about the quality of the music, which is very good, but the problem is with me and (probably) Vital Weekly. I get some of the more improvised pieces here, in which Van Stiefel uses weird tunings and where he plays the guitar 'differently', yet always recognizable to be the guitar. But those pieces are in a minority on this album. In most other pieces, the music seems to be much more conventional, melodic strumming and plucking of strings. Unless, of course, there are conventions broken that I had not realized were conventions at all. That might very well be possible. This is an album of modern music, but it's hard to say what belongs between the words 'modern' and 'music'; classical? Jazz? Improvisation? The lengthy text reads about sampling (I understand this to be loop stations), and piano samples (in 'Harbor', the only piece to have these, and also one of those pieces with an improvised feeling) and effects, but whatever he uses, Van Stiefel keeps all delightfully civilized. There is no distortion, no noise and such, just melodic playing of guitar, or rather guitars, in somewhat sweetness and sometimes more dramatic places. It is all quite good, but as said, here at Vital Weekly this seems a bit out of place. (FdW)
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Two new releases from Neuma Records, a label that exists since 1988, led by Philip Blackburn since 2020. The focus of this label is to release newly composed experimental music. For some of these releases, It is interesting to read, that the virus made a lot impossible, but also opened up some new opportunities that otherwise probably wouldn’t have occurred. Violinist and composer Mihailo Trandafilovski for example tried to do something he had already for a longer time in mind. Trandafilovski from Macedonia, studied at Michigan State University and The Royal College of Music in London. He has several albums out with his work for Innova, Métier and Lorelt. Also, he is a  member of the Kreutzer Quartet. The limitations due to the virus decided him to record a catalogue of sounds, using all kinds of techniques of playing the violin. Deeper than before, he concentrated on the diverse qualities of these sounds. After recording these sounds, the next step was to arrange them within a composed structure. This forced him to proceed differently from how he normally composes a new work. In the studio, Trandafilovski assembled all these elements into three compositions with their characteristics. Namely, ‘Orbit’, ‘Wave’ and ‘Shore’ taking together 33 minutes. Using diverse devices from the studio, he leaves the acoustical qualities as such intact in his mixing process but puts them in a new light. His constructions sound very abstract in one way but as they constantly point to the concrete sounds as the topic of his research, they are also very physical. The works are full of details and nuances, which makes concentrated listening to a very rewarding experience.
    Juraj Kojš originates from Slovakia and works as a composer, sound and multimedia artist, performer from his base in Miami, Florida, where he works at the Frost School of Music. Besides, he works as a composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music, as well as multimedia and installation projects. ’Imagine’ is dedicated to friend and long-time collaborator Adam Marks, who passed away suddenly in 2021. He plays the piano on the first of three compositions that are included on this disc. ‘Face Forward Hawaii (2018) is a work in eight parts for clarinet, piano and electronics, played respectively by Eric Umble, Adam Marks and Juraj Kojs’. ‘Under the blanket of your Lulabies’(2020) is a work in nine parts, performed by the Switch Ensemble: Zach sheets (flute), Clara Kim (violin), Megan Ams (percussion) and Wei-Han Wu on piano. ‘Where You Are’(2019) is performed by Splinter Reeds: Kyle Bruckmann (oboe), Bill Kalinkos (clarinet in Bb), Jeff Anderle (bass clarinet), David Wegehaupt (alto saxophone) and Dana Jessen (bassoon). To continue with this last work, it is a tale spoken by diverse members of the ensemble. The story is interspersed with short instrumental parts that introduce the next scene and underline the spoken words. Halfway, however, the piece becomes dominated by complex rhythmic structures, followed by open sections with room for silence. ‘Under the Blanket of your Lullabies’ starts very chaotic and dynamic. Gradually, the piece continues in a friendly mode, with the meandering flute playing a melodic theme or sections dominated by percussive sounds. Liner notes explain: “Nine original poems on the theme of earth and its natural elements are the basis for under the blanket of your lullabies. Serving both as poetic inspiration and actual performance instruction, the score moves from structured improvisations to notated patterns. Grounded in collaborative composition practices, the ensemble makes creative decisions in the construction of uniquely own performance.”  Opening work, ‘Face Forward. Hawaii’ satisfied me most. First because of the contrasting playing by Umble and Marks. Umble plays very long and lyrical lines, whereas pianist Marks plays complex rhythmic patterns with short attacks. In a way, as if each of them walks their own way. Second because of the electronic treatments adding another perspective and dimension. Sometimes in the background of piano and clarinet. Sometimes a section is completely electronic. An interesting play with contrasts. (DM)
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Q & A – THE NEW ME (CD by Reqords)
Two releases with the participation of Quentin Rollet. First some background on him. He is the son of Christian Rollet, a founding member of ARFI, an improv-collective from Lyon that started near the end of the 70s. So Rollet grew up with improvised and experimental music from an early age, accompanying his father during concerts and festivals. He started playing sax at the age of 11 and got later a classical education on this instrument. He was a member of the noise rock band Prohibition until their dissolution in 1999. Numerous collaborations in the world of experimental and improvised music followed. He worked for example with Nurse With Wound, The Red Krayola, Mendelson, The Legendary Pink Dots, Ghédalia Tazartes, etc. Together with Noël Akchoté he founded the avantgarde label Rectangle. Rollet and Borisov know one other already since the 90s but never had the opportunity to play together. In 2014 Borisov was touring with Olga Nosova as Astma in France, while Rollet was doing duo-work with Jérôme Lorichon. Time schedules allowed them to pick one day for recording a session together as two duos. We hear Alexei Borisov on electronics, guitar and voice, Jérôme Lorichon electronics, Olga Nosova drums, voice and effects, and Quentin Rollet sax and effects. At this first meeting, they deal in experimental, open and free rock-based improvisations. Rollet is the one who plays most from a jazz background, whereas the others seem to start more from a rock attitude. Interesting meeting with fine interaction of acoustic and electronic means. There are some strong and engaging moments, but overall it made an arbitrary impression. Q&A is a duo work of Rollet with Andrew Sharpley (Stock, Hausen & Walkman, a.o.), realized in August last year. Not sure if this is the first meeting also. We have Rollet playing sax again and Sharpley computer. The meandering solos by Rollet work very well with the textures created by Sharpley, that sometimes pure sound-oriented. At other places with rhythmic and/or melodic elements, like in ‘Loop’ and ‘Placeholder’. Sharpley plays in a subdued way, but his movements and gestures are exact and appropriate and make a good match with the more expressive style of Rollet. Fine balance and nice colouring! (DM)
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Come to think of it, a lot of the releases on Moving Furniture Records are the result of collaborations. Recently it was Jim O'Rourke and Jos Smolders, here it is Philip Bückle and Martijn Pieck. Both had releases on this label (Pieck under the name of Cinema Perdu) and they were teamed together for a piece for a label promotion compilation, 'Moving Music - Sounds From The Rocking Chair' (Vital Weekly 1217) and apparently, that was with mutual satisfaction and so the worked on some more material. I would think I know Pieck's work better than Bückle's, who works with a variety of instruments on the one album I heard of his. Pieck is a man of modular electronics and field recordings. It seems that on this collaborative effort, the instrument range is limited to the use of modular electronics for both composers and relying heavily on the use of field recordings. As such we see the title to be the program here; these are field reports of two men going on a fictitious world, combining sounds that may not belong together, both electronic and from the outside, colliding together or simply going alongside together, just because it is possible. The modular synthesizer produces sounds that one can also find outside, the whirring and buzzing of electricity, gas escaping or power lines, and they mix it up with the sound of people talking, taped from an odd angle, further alienating the origin. It is full of sound, but not always full of life; this is a rather empty world, in which just a few elements sound aloud. A sort of science fiction music, life on a different planet in a distant future; that is the sort of feeling I had with this music. I can't figure out if this planet is clean and beautiful, as some of this has a 'dirty' feeling, like some edges around the music proofs. This is an excellent exercise in collaboration and the results are most satisfying; it fits the soundtrack to an arty science fiction film. (FdW)
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HIVE MIND - HOLLOW SLUMBER (CD by Difficult Interactions)

This is my introduction to a label from California and a slightly confusing one. These are two very opposite releases. I started with Hive Mind, listened to it a bit and put it aside for a while because I wanted to check if Heart Of Palm was on an equal dark, noisy nature. With its pink cover and shots of palm trees, it could go either way. Behind this musical project is Shea Hardacre and the music is described as a 'subconscious tropical concrete atmospheres & malaise', for whatever that is worth. Using tapes, field recordings, electronics, slide guitar, seashells, sand and rum, Hardacre creates some fascinating music. I think I had not heard of Heart Of Palm before (I must be careful), but there have been a few releases, cassettes mostly, and on this CD we find a compilation of pieces, found on these releases, plus a bonus song. If such a thing exists, this is a most curious mixture of elements from noise music (never loud, though), musique concrète, ambient and that hard to define tropical touch, albeit without any rhythms. The tropical touch is in the water sounds washing ashore (which, yes, could be at a Fjord in Norway), shady loops of percussion, rubbing of sand on contact microphones and such. I am not sure if Heart Of Palm deliberately set out to 'invent' a musical style of his own, but what he does, I seldom heard. There are vaguely melodic touches in some pieces, such as in 'Her Tears Shed In Paradises Grotto', along with water, thunder and birds sounds, and it is these touches that make this not much of a noise release, even when there are elements used from that particular world (loops of percussive sound, such as in 'Oil Mixed In Water, Like Rum In Coconut'; he loves his titles to be wordy), and so it bounces and forth between the abstract and the recognizable, or perhaps I should say, the friendlier music. I guess this won't be much of a burner on a tropical lounge café, but I enjoyed all the same, even when I am not sure if this is all serious or if somebody pulls my leg. Aloha!
    At the opposite end of that tropical beach, we find Hive Mind. Something serious for sure and something entirely different when it comes to music. Hive Mind is Grey Holger, whom you might know from his Troniks label. This work was recorded in 2005 for a CD release, but the label stopped before the release was done, and in 2008 released on a cassette, having lost four minutes and cut in half. Now it is restored and released in full on a CD. An interesting note is found on Bandcamp "remastered by Grant Richardson under the specific direction to ignore playback compatibility with small stereo systems." The piece lasts 33:30 (why not 33:33?) and is one hell of a dark ride. It starts inaudible, but be careful not to bring up the volume too much, as soon it is where it wants to be and that is speaker trembling exercise. I have pretty much a regular set-up, turned down the volume so that it remained audible but not life-threatening. I was thinking about the necessity of this radical approach. If the sound is at this low volume and so strong, you might miss out on a few things that are part of this music, but maybe that is the idea? I have no idea what Hive Mind does to generate these sounds; I am thinking of a guitar but just as well this might be something else; just a few pedal effects, for instance, or some computer patch hooked up to this kind of analogue gear. The big bass environment is what thrives the piece forward, one big black massive roll and on top, there is this distorted sound, like something is slowly burning away and this is amplified. Despite my reservations about the heavy character of this thing (and checking my phone if I didn't get any messages from the neighbours asking what causes this earthquake), I also quite enjoyed this, as something that I wouldn't want to hear daily, but it is good to clean the eardrums occasionally and have the bowls shaken up. A cleanser! (FdW)
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Are we sitting comfortably? No. Good because there is nothing comfortable about ‘Amerika: Die Ewige Senkgrube’. From the opening strains of ‘Schwulstig Politik’ you know what you are getting into. It's everything that we’ve ever wanted, and come to expect, from OVMN. Six minutes into ‘Schwulstig Politik’ it sounds like the world is on fire and crumbling around us. And in a sense, it is and OVMN are just documenting it as Vangelis did with the 1968 Paris riots. OK, this isn’t the same kind of album. MVMN aren’t hanging out of windows with microphones recording the mayhem carrying on below them. Instead, it sounds like they are recreating the utter carnage, paranoia and unpleasant feelings that ooze from every news broadcast, social media feed and vibes you get when you leave home even for the briefest of moments. Iti s all here. And the album benefits from it. 10-minutes in and all the harsh textures, noise walls and audible abrasions fade away and we are left with a charming beat and bassline combo. You start to wonder if OVMN is going to deliver something poppier for the remaining half hour. But no. We’re back to the walls of noise. However, things aren’t as bleak as they were. Now there are melodies just below the surface. Every once in a while, they make a break for it, before being tackled and dragged under the crunching tones.
    Before we go any further, I think I need to say that this is some serious noise. The brutality contained it not to dismissed. From the opening moments of ‘Early Warning’ you are pinned against the wall. You can’t move. Partly from the sheer force of the music emanating from the speakers, but also out of some perverse joy. The standout track is ‘Irrational Fear’. It is just unrelenting. There is so much going on that it's hard to know what is actually happening. Garbled vocals a layered with eroding bass, crunching feedback and bursts of static. It’s truly a wonderful thing. At times ‘Mother’s Acid Prayer’ sounds like it was recorded inside a biscuit tin that is being mangled by multiple tiny robotic devices. As the machines penetrate the tin, the sounds become muffled, but at the same time more and more of the sound of their gears are picked up and enter the mix at the end we’re just left with a crunching and grinding noise. But what did you expect from an album of recently unearthed OVMN recordings? The songs included feature tracks from the Joe and Rodger line-up from the mid-90s along with a 2000 line-up including Leo Sabatto. It makes you wonder if this has been squirrelled away for so long, what else is in the vault? Actually, I don’t know; think about that. I just want to think about this and how grotesquely beautiful it all is.
    Bertolt Brecht said that “Art is not a mirror held up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it”. If this is the case, then OVMN should form a building contractor as they’ll going to have a lot of work on their hands. (NR)
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If you are looking for a sordid slice of experimentalism, then the re-issue of Mlehst’s 1995 classic album ‘Deep Throat and Felching’ might be what you are after. Originally released on Smell + Quim’s Stinky Horse Fuck imprint the album is getting a well-deserved re-issue from Input Error. In the 26-years since its initial release, a lot has happened in music, but ‘Deep Throat and Felching’ still packs a massive punch to the balls. While this can be considered as noise, there is plenty of downtime between the peaks of abusive abstraction. During these sections Mlehst allows us to wallow in musique concrete motifs, as well as disjointed vocal samples. After listening to the album a few times, it's hard to say whether it’s the dank drones or cut-up vocal samples I enjoy the most. If I was being honest, and there is no reason for you to believe otherwise, it’s the combination of the two that really delights me. When Mlehst has it all kicking off at once and you have no idea which way is up, is when the album truly comes alive. This has multiple times throughout the opener, but just before the halfway mark, after the dub bass section, where the album lives up to all its hype, and praise. Despite consisting of seven tracks the opener, ‘Everything I Touch Turns to Shit,’ is a whopping 30-minutes long. It’s also the most remarkable track on the album. For half an hour Mlehst managing to keep us disoriented, whilst giving us some cohesive drones, and dare I say melodies, do latch our grubby little fingers on it. This is an album that has, like wine, turned into vinegar with age. Its ghastly moments feel even more putrid than they originally were, which is saying something, and the way it gets under your skin just shows how amazing this album really is.
    If ‘Deep Throat and Felching’ was about creating an unsettling atmosphere through building up, and bring down, walls of sounds, ‘Her Single Desire Was Sadistic Pleasure’ is about subjecting us to 62-minutes of sheer noise. As with ‘Deep Throat and Felching,’ ‘Her Single Desire Was Sadistic Pleasure’ is getting a reissue on Input Error having been originally released on Mother Savage Noise Productions in 1996. Just like ‘Deep Throat and Felching’ the intervening years have made ‘Her Single Desire Was Sadistic Pleasure’ age incredibly well. It still sounds as fresh, and devastating, as when it was originally released. There is little let up from start to finish. The title track is just punishing. Just when you think Mlehst is going to take it down a notch or change the motifs, which he never really does, he just finds a new way to torment us. A quarter into the title track, after bombarding us with feedback and white noise for six minutes, Mlehst just takes things back a bit, only to ramp it back up but instead of using deeper tones, he goes for something in a higher register, thus setting us again but through various parts of the body. This is down to the original production, as well as the remastering by Grant Richardson. The original album was (re)mixed by Joe Roemer of Macronympha. All of Roemer’s work remains but Richardson has made it sound bigger, deeper and meatier which takes the album to hitherto inaccessible areas or aural assault. This is an album to cherish. It does exactly what the title suggests. This is 62-minutes of sheer sadistic pleasure. The only thing you have to work out is who is on the receiving end. Us or Mlehst?
    If this is your first experience with Mlehst, and you enjoy it, then you have one of the best back catalogues to explore. If not, then you now know how far you are willing to go in search of pleasure. (NR)
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Some time ago I reviewed 'Red Tape' by Michel Banabila, Jacobus Derwort and Hanyo van Oosterum (Vital Weekly 1283), who went by the name Chi for a short while in the 80s. That tape contained music from 2016 when they got back together and recorded material in rehearsal for concerts that they planned to do, but that didn't happen due to the death of Derwort in early 2019. Therefore Chi is no more, but Van Oosterom started 'Son Of Chi, and this is the first record. I have no idea who else is part of this group, maybe I should assume Van Oosterum and Banabila and here they are assisted by Radboud Mens, a fellow citizen in Rotterdam and with whom Banabila worked before on several occasions. Mens' work ranges from very minimal drones to very minimal techno. None of the latter here, but sure minimalism works around here differently. This is a most worthy follow-up project for Chi. Many of the old ingredients are here; the slow percussive elements, the tropical atmosphere that hangs heavy over the music, the long spacious flute passages, piano notes hanging in the air, and the electronics providing colouring to everything that happens. It is ambient music with the big A, reminding me of O Yuki Conjugate, Jon Hassel, Rapoon or Muslimagzue, but Son Of Chi has already a distinctive sound of their own. Nothing is pushed to the foreground, not the rhythm, not the other instruments, not the field recordings or electronics, but it all blends together in a great spacious way, almost psychedelic, which I can see these men intending to do. This is the beginning of a beautiful new thing! The birth of a son. (FdW)
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Here we have the second re-issue for Muziekkamer, following 'Popmuziek' in 2018 (not reviewed here, sadly) and quite a surprising re-issue at that. Muziekkamer was a trio from the Dutch city of Leiden, Martin Keuning and Cees and Martin van de Oever, who released a trilogy of cassette releases, with similar covers, each covering a specific musical theme. Muziekkamer can be translated as 'music room', quite a literal reference to where they did the music. There is ambient music on the excellent 'Kamermuziek' (which would make a great CD, and please not an LP, the music is too long and fragile for that), 'Filmmuziek'' and 'Popmuziek', the latter two I would think are self-explanatory. 'Op Zee' is their fourth release, which at the time (1982) was something of an in-between release, with a different cover than the other three, one that contained glue and 'Op Zee' burned into the cassette, and no mentioning of Muziekkamer. 'Op Zee' means 'at sea', and the music according to the band you could hear as "the sea as the engine of imagination. Imagination as the engine to overcome the sea." Back then, in 1982, one of the things I wondered about was whether side A and Side B were different pieces or a repeated program. I think it is a fifteen-minute piece repeated on both sides (the jury is still not out on that), which conveys an idea of tidal waves, going slowly backwards and forward, rocking the boat if you will. It is here that Muziekkamer is closest to their 'Kamermuziek' release, with a somewhat similar slow minimalist ambient feeling. The music seems to have a bit of white noise, hiss-like sound, which made me think that a cassette was used for the remaster, rather than the original master (which may be lost; I don't know), but that adds a fine lo-fi texture to the music. It could have been in 2021 and not 1982! Packed with a great cover, this most lovingly re-issue. (FdW)
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About two years ago, there was a sudden cascade of releases by Egbert van der Vliet on his Non-Interrupt label (which was a continuation, after a twenty or more hiatus from his previous label, Interrupt), working under various guises, Pool Perverts, Kyntronik, and Klinikum. Then things went quiet, and now he returns as Bijwerking (side effect) and judging by the titles one could think he's part of Corona denial brigade, but he assures me he's not. He says that he's now doing just CDRs, without being on a label, with titles in Dutch, and without any bigger concept. He's doing sound and music, just for the fun of it all, and works on it once a week. The first results are collected on 'Tijd' (time) and 'Muur' (wall) and the sad thing is, is that the first lasts only twenty-five minutes; the second one is forty-one minutes. The one thing he didn't tell me this time is how he works with his sound, but the way this sounds, I would think this is an extension of his Pool Perverts project, which evolved around the use of free sounds (from a website with the same name, should you be looking for some of that), which he manipulates using free software. Sometimes, things can indeed be that simple. Cutting and collaging are the staple methods used by Van der Vliet, along with emphasizing certain frequencies. His titles are cuts from newspapers, so hardly the sort of thing that provides any clue as to what went into the sauce. In his music, Van der Vliet stays close to those musicians who normally work with cassettes and other low tech means, but he finds white noise in the frequency range. These pieces are short and to the point, perhaps, a bit too short sometimes, as I wouldn't mind this to be somewhat longer than this. On "Muur', there is the oddball of 'Verboden Vrucht', with stabs of an organ in the intro, almost like a pop song, but quickly moves over to what I should think is The Van der Vliet treatment of sound. It is all dark and somewhat mysterious in a sort of musique concrète kind of fashion. This is a good, new start, building on older ideas, but now with even fewer constraints and much more playfulness. (FdW)
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MARIA CARLAS & MYLO CYWITZ – H32212HON932 (CDR by Toztizok Zoundz)
A short release this time from the Amsterdam-based duo of Italian singer Carla Genchi and German musician Mylo Cywitz. Earlier, they released ‘31337’ (2018) on Plattegrond Records and ‘3n6463m3n7dr1v3r’ (2020). I don’t have information on other musical activities they are engaged in if any. The new effort by this obscure duo, titled ‘H32212HON932’, is released by Toztizok Zoundz, a small also Amsterdam-based label. The titles of their releases seem to be randomly chosen combinations of numbers and characters. But maybe there is some message hidden in it. Anyway, in about 12 minutes they present four new ‘songs’: ‘Blauwe Wolk’, ‘Skrammel’, ‘Ice 7’ and ‘Gefröbel in de marge’. Songs that are in continuity with their earlier work. Again we are invited to their eclectic musical world of sprechgesang, opera, electronics. Weird songs full of drama, sometimes a bit reminding of the Residents, like the vocals of Cywitz in ‘Blauwe Wolken’. They perform their songs with the usual wide range of instruments. Maria Carlas plays keyboard, bass guitar, melodica, kalimba, heat sink radiator percussion, megaphone and vocals. Mylo Cywitz did the programming and synthesizer, mandolin, keyboards, tone generator, glockenspiel, alarm clock, fan, toy percussion and vocals. For sure, this duo made their very own blend of diverse influences with their style and procedures. For enjoying this, complemented by the theatrical and visual aspects of their art, they are best seen live. Hope it will happen one day. (DM)
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ASHCIRCLE - BURNT OUT (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)

We are promised here a "mysterious and mystifying London based duo", which means: I have no idea what to write there. Mystery usually shortens the review. There is no other information either, so let the guessing begin! I would think this duo uses modular electronics, small speakers to generate feedback, and maybe microphones, contact microphones or such upon surfaces. I could most certainly also see them busy with circuit bending. Their release is rather short and each of the fifteen pieces is between a minute and three minutes, which keeps the energy level quite high. This is quite a noisy ride, but it is with quite some control, I must say. I would think they work with improvisation, but when they hit upon a sweet spot they repeat actions for a while, which essentially becomes the finished piece of music. So, the noise found herein is far from traditional feedback loaded, screaming wall of noise music, but consistent playing around with a limited palette of sounds. However, it lacks the energy these short attacks at noise music have in punky spirit, which I usually like, but Ashcircle sounds also in this respect different. It may happen a new track starts, but the sounds stay more or less the same. Clocking in at twenty-five minutes, I would think this is long enough to be interesting. Longer would not have worked that well for me, I think. This is one of those cases in which the pieces are conceptually linked, and it is all clear at the end. Great! Let's move on. I am curious about their other work. More of the same or something different? (FdW)
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R|E (CDR compilation by Attenuation Circuit)

Oddly enough, the name Internal Fusion came up in a conversation recently. I had not thought about Eric Latteux' project in a long time. In fact, I am surprised it still exists, even when there is little reason to think it disappeared.  I heard a few albums in the 90s, also the one he did with Dessacord Majeur as Tlön Uqbar. When the name came up recently, I thought the music was similar to that of Dessacord Majeur, and I also think that in my book both borrowed quite a few ideas from Muslimgauze and Rapoon.  "I'm Looking For Signs, But Of What", is the title of this new release, of which is the most remarkable thing it is cut as one long track, fifty-five minutes. The mastering here didn't get too much attention, very compressed so everything is on the same dynamic level, which becomes after a while quite tiresome. What I remember of those early Internal Fusion albums, is what I recognize here too. The music is heavy on the use of rhythm, mechanical and tribal (or maybe that should be tribal yet mechanical), and swirling around that, organ-like drones, moving in and out of the mix. An additional third component is where Latteux plays around with the effects, which is a signifier that a piece is going to morph into the next section. The entire piece is one, long driving force, going from mid-tempo rhythm to a bit down-sized one, going up, with lots of minimalist drones to accompany the piece. Because the sound energy never changes, this is a bit of a hard affair to go through, but I enjoyed it all the same, especially when the beats showed a bit more tempo, especially those at the beginning, which was a curious mixture of tribal meets medieval sounds.
    From 2016 to 2012 Attenuation Circuit organized the "Reflections" festival, of which 'R|E' is the logo. Each edition saw the release of a CDR for those who went to see the concerts. The three tracks here are first time collaborations. I started at the end because I feared some heavy noise there. Not that I know Sprengmeister, but I do know Carsten Vollmer's harsh noise works. Together with the drum/sax duo of Sprengmeister, he plays a fifteen-minute noise set, in which Vollmer single-handedly is three times louder than the other two, but he leaves room for them to shine as well, in an off and on the battle for the noise master. The contrary piece to this is the opening of guitarist Stefan Schmidt (member of Doc Wör Mirran) and label boss EMERGE, in a very quiet yet intense piece of sparse guitar sounds and looping versus a blend of obscured electronics (samples? modular? I don't know). In the middle of this sandwich, we find The Oval Language (recently present with a great CD on this label, see Vital Weekly 1282) teaming up with Doc Wör Mirran, of whom we for a change do not know which members were present. The Oval Language provides the vocal improvisations along with plink-plonking an instrument of his own making, which slowly builds in a most curious strange affair of sampled flutes, synthesizers, and towards the end a drum loop. I quite enjoyed this piece for what it is, a first meeting that delivered a great conversation. (FdW)
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E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S. - TRUST IN A SCIENIC LANDSCAPE (CDR, private)
E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S. - BEHEADINGS #2 (cassette, private)
E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S. - E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S. TO DIRTY​-​UP YOUR SONG (cassette, private)
E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S. - NITRIC (CDR, private)

How to approach four releases from the same musician? That is the question here. It is a musician I know very well, appreciate a lot, and I know will deliver lengthy explanations. This time I put the explanations aside and decided not to study the Bandcamp page, not the covers and do a blind run first. Sit down and play all four, stick a note on them with a few words and then find an order to discuss them. Maybe the order goes out of the window in this discussion. Overall, after hearing all four, the question is, why release it like this, four separate albums? Why not on one album with the best of each, and have an E.M.I.R.S. best off, a survey of whatever work Quinten Dierick does? He anticipated this question and answers his question. In terms of listening experience, he wants to keep all the tracks together that he thinks should be together. So, 'Beheadings #2' is the follow-up to number #1 (see Vital Weekly 1176) and deals with analogue synthesizers and oscillators, straight to tape, and 'Will Dirty-Up Your Song' sees him singing again. That he didn't do much in recent years, but these songs he also did when he was one-man punk Belch. As Nitric Dierick plays his take on techno music, and in the Dierick imperium, nothing is what it seems.
    E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S.' take on singer-songwriting is certainly not what one may think when hearing the words 'singer-songwriter'. There is a certain sadness in these electronic pieces, which are covers from "an Idiot Savant, unknown artist", B.L. Jefferson and others; two are E​.​M​.​I​.​R​.​S. originals. Stabs of a synth, one man singing slowly with a deep voice, and it somehow sounds the very early 80s. Not in a pleasant synth-pop way, but dark poetic stuff, with some strange undercurrents. I was reminded of some Craig Burke's music (such as 'Excavation Blues'). I think this is all pretty strong material, maybe a bit outside the world of Vital Weekly, but I'd say this is something that definitely needs further exploration.
    'Trust In Scienic Landscape' (what is a scienic landscape I wondered) and 'Beheadings #2' may seem to belong to the same root, Dierick says there are not. In the 'Beheadings' series, he deals with synthesizer and oscillator sounds which he plays and commits straight to tape so that the fattest sound is achieved. These pieces are strict improvisation, and as with the first instalment, this doesn't result in some noise wank, over the top screaming wall of synthesizer sounds, but he moves around from deeper drone variations to scratches and clicks or even beats. I would think there are no further sound effects used here. The A-side, with one oscillator, goes all over the place, and on the other side, it stays in one drone place, throughout the twenty minutes this piece lasts.
'Trust In A Scienic Landscape' is a single piece, just under thirty minutes and the dynamics are pretty radical, and so, a direct-to-tape approach wasn't possible on this, it would not have translated that well. The music consists of louder and softer fragments of his archive, stuck together in the fabric of sound collage. Here we have loops of slowed down percussion and a wind instrument in a loud section in the first half, and something much more synth-based in the second half. When things are quiet, they sure are very quiet. This piece ends with field recordings. Purely as a private listener, I think (spoiler alert), this is my favourite of the four releases, but it is closest to my private interests in music. I like the sheer variety of sounds in this, the way it moves from loud to quiet and vice versa, the variations between electronic sounds and found sound, makes this a delight to hear.
    Nitric is Dierick's interest in techno and rave music. There are some online releases, there have been some live sets, but as he says, 'it never went too deep'. On this album, it is not about some straightforward (I didn't expect this to be), so no heavy beat music, but something that is stripped down, techno drones if you will rave without beats. The sort of thing you hear when you consumed too much alcohol or drugs and the beat goes on in your head, long after you went to bed and you can't sleep. This is not happy-clappy music, but something that speaks of bad trips and nightmares. Not that I enjoy those particularly, but the soundtrack served by as Nitric sure sounds great. It is an entirely different kind of rave music and, obviously, Tuesday afternoon in rainy Nijmegen any sign of whatever party is far away. That makes this an entirely different listening experience, but a most enjoyable anyway. (FdW)
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NICOLAS CLAIR - UN TRUC COME TRUE (cassette by Transcachette Tapes)

The label describes as 'Heavy Experimental Stuff' (not Bandcamp, but on the information I got along with the cassette), and maybe it is my lack of understanding how to interpret 'heavy', but it's not. I had not heard of French musician Nicolas Clair before, and here it is the usual 'no instruments mentioned', but again the press information gives away this, "bowed string objects, InRealLife plug-ins, Cristaline magnums filled Suze and Half-Satanic Sampling", if that makes any sense to anyone. The twelve pieces are collages of sound, that much is (easily!) true, and sampling plays an important role in his work. The sources are heavily obscured here; it could, as far as know, be anything from vinyl, TV/YouTube sources, electronic demonstration records, test records, radio and in a similar approach, I'd say, Clair works with these samples quite rough. He bounces them around, and before the land, they have changed once again, or something leaps up out of the clear blue sky. Sometimes this is as chaotic as it may sound, but also, strange as it may appear, it is sometimes quite organized. Maybe a self-regulating organization principle that is going on here? Hard to say, but it works quite well. More music from the laptop (see also elsewhere), but in the hands of Nicolas Clair, the approach is less careful. He likes to crack his sounds, rough and elegant, and that brings out a great amount of variation to the music, which never stays too long in the same place. Quite a wild ride, this release, but also quite a lovely one. (FdW)
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AKLENA (cassette by Alcôve)

The previous release by Aklena was on the same label as this new one, but that didn't reach these pages. Aklena is a duo of Ahtoh and n.hir, also known as Antoine Gilloire, of whom I reviewed a release in Vital Weekly 1285 and Tanguy Clerc. I review a split release from the two, in Vital Weekly 1269. As with their split release, I would think this too deals with the inner workings of the laptop. According to the information, the music was composed of re-edited improvisations, which, at times, are left untouched. The music, as I hear it, sounds far from improvised, but rather organized. The four pieces are variations in the field of drone music; spacious yet granular ambient music, of slowly expanding and evolving variables, moving in ones and zeroes. Each of the pieces inhabits a different set of frequencies, working mid-range, low range or high range. As slowly as they move, the music is far from static. Within each of these four pieces (ranging between seven and twelve minutes), this duo moves from the sublime quiet to the mildly aggressive. I can imagine that at a volume that is higher than my usual standard, some of these frequencies could be quite piercing, but loud volume is not what I do a lot, due to the amount of music I am hearing all day, but this is one of those things that a more moderate volume works differently; it becomes something that fills up your environment. It is there when it is loud, and it is lingering in the background when it becomes quieter. Not the great new surprise, this music, but nothing less than some great music. (FdW)
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