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LEIF ELGGREN - TIN CAN CROWNS (CD by Firework Edition) *
JAMES MAINWARING – MYCORRHIZA (CD by Discus Music) *
WAVEFIELD – CONCRETE & VOID (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
THE FUNAMBULISTS - THE FUNAMBULISTS (CD by FMR Records) *
NICK STORRING - NEWFOUNDOUT (CD by Mappa Editions) *
TOMEK CHOLONIEWSKI - MUSIC TO MAKE YOUR BODY SUFFER (CD/DVD by Bocian, Bolt and Soros Records) *
BROECKAERT//BERWECK//LORENZ - PARMEGIANI: STRIES (CD by Mode Records) *
CARLO COSTA - SILOS (CD by Neither/Nor Records) *
PHILIPPE NEAU - ETANG DONNE (CD by Unfathomless) *
SLIM VIC - MÖRKRETS NARR (CD by Lamour) *
PIERRE-YVES MARTEL - WEIRD STUDIES/MUSIC FROM THE PODCAST VOL.1 (LP, private)
MUZIEK TERWIJL U LUNCHT - WERKEN 1 (CDR by Non Interrupt) *
SICK DAYS - EAR ERR ARE (cassette by Vacancy Recordings) *
DAVID PARKER/ELIZABETH MILLAR - FIRST TAKE/ARTIFICIAL FIELD RECORDING #2 (cassette by Vacancy Recordings) *
GREY PARK - CORRUPTION & THYME (cassette by Vacancy Recordings) *
MATT ATKINS - ROTATIONS (cassette by Complex Holiday) *
CARLOS PEREA MILLA - TACTILE (cassette by Superpolar Taips) *
CHORCHILL - RUHRPOTT DIVER (cassette by Superpolar Taips) *
EMIL BEAULIEAU - KORM 88 (cassette by Adhuman) *
LEIF ELGGREN - TIN CAN CROWNS (CD by Firework Edition)
It has been a while since I last heard music from Leif Elggren, the self-proclaimed king of Elgaland-Vargaland (well, one of the two kings), master conceptualist whose work most of the time eludes me (or even all of the times) and yet always seems to fascinate me. An essential aspect of his work is tin can crowns. He created these cans that contained chopped tomatoes, which he washes and removes the paper labels. "When they are ready, I throw them under my bed. Today, I think there are more than 2000 cans there under the bed in the dark", is a quote of his from 2005. If the photos on the CD cover are of any significance (one never knows), tin cans also play an active role in the music here. Maybe they are used as resonators for sounding fed into the cans via speakers, also shown in the photos. Maybe these are batteries, life sources or such? I am not that much of a conceptualist or art historian to unravel that particular mystery. And I am okay with that, to be honest. I never have any trouble taking things more at face value, 'as is, if you want and enjoy the music I hear. In this particular case, I enjoy the music quite a bit. It is moody and noisy, but it is never too loud; noise for the sake of noise isn't what Elggen does. There is a somewhat mysterious quality to the music here that I can't explain. There is, for instance, the minimalism we know Elggren for, combined with a mechanical sound. Maybe the sound of motors running stationary; or field recordings of mechanical devices, which he plays back into his tin cans, generate a muffled effect? Perhaps that kind of thing? Each of the nine pieces seems to be a variation, emphasizing different qualities in each section. I recounted this before, but I once was supposed to sleep somewhere and next to my head was a very loud refrigerator. This sleepless night happened before we had small devices to do quick field recordings; otherwise, I would have pressed record and enjoyed the results later on; now, I had to stay awake and listen to what seemed the last breath of the dying machine. It is precisely that sort of quality that I recognize in this release by Elggren. There might be a whole world behind this, but this is already more than enough for me. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.fireworkeditionrecords.com/
JAMES MAINWARING – MYCORRHIZA (CD by Discus Music)
James Mainwaring is a saxophonist, composer and singer-songwriter based in Leeds, where he studied jazz at the College of Music. He participates in numerous collaborations – acoustic and electronic – with other Leeds-based improvising musicians. Most known he is for his work with Luke Wynter and Luke Reddin-William as Roller Trio. With experience in jazz and rock music, he wants to create genre-fluid music. And this new album is a good example of this approach. The term 'mycorrhiza' refers to the relationship between fungi and plants root systems. The fungi make up a network that makes it possible for trees to communicate with one another. Mainwaring chooses this phenomenon to express his deep concerns for climate change that inspired him in writing new material. The musical performance is by Aby Vulliamy (viola, vocals), Michael Bardon (cello, double bass), Fergus Quill (double bass), Steve Hanley (drums), Chris Sharkey (electronics). Multi-instrumentalist Mainwaring plays the saxophones, vocals, field recordings, granular synth, Fender Rhodes, piano and flutes. Even though the dramatic climate situation inspires the music, it is remarkably harmonious and friendly except maybe for the short spooky 'Intro'. 'Dawn' is the next, and it is an open sound-orientated improvised texture. 'Komorebi' is a reflective string-dominated melodic piece with field recordings of nature in the background. 'Statures' starts with spacy electronics before strings begin their melodic interaction, followed by vocals by Vulliamy and Mainwaring. 'Dotted Line' is a fine instrumental work of chamber music reminding a bit of the work by Zazou. 'Web' is again an example of open abstract improvisation. Overall the music breaths a rustic atmosphere; there are no confronting drastic manoeuvres or gestures. Instead, the music moves on gently and comforting, using jazzy or more poppy motives. Nice work! (DM)
––– Address: https://discusmusic.bandcamp.com/
WAVEFIELD – CONCRETE & VOID (CD by New Focus Recordings)
Wavefield is an ensemble specialised in contemporary music with the following members: Roberta Michel (flutes), Michelle Farah (oboe), Eric Umble (clarinets), Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon), John Gattis (horn), Jen Baker (trombone), Dennis Sullivan (percussion & electronics), Kathryn Andrews (harp), Daniel Lippel guitar), Nicholas DeMaison (accordion), Julia Den Boer (synthesizer), Erica Dicker (violin), Hannah Levinson (viola), Greg Chudzik (bass), Geoff Landman (saxophone). The ensemble, founded in 2016 and based in New York City, specialises in contemporary music. With 'Concrete & Void', they present their impressive debut album. Recordings took place in one session on a day in October 2020. Because of the Covid-virus, the recording took place in an outside parking garage in New Jersey. They perform compositions written for the ensemble by Jessie Cox, Jen Baker, Greg Chudzik, Victoria Cheah and Nicholas DeMaison, co-Artistic Director of the ensemble. The ensemble composed the compositions with intensive communication.
All works deal with sound, texture, and noise, indicating that this is the ensemble's primary focus. We hear five bolded compositions of limited length, all of them written in graphic scores, leading up to five different and pronounced sound entities that have things in common. All are works make the impression of massive multi-layered sound 'organisms', which fascinate me because of their complexity and diversity in sounds and noises. The opening work 'Lightsicle Sirens' is a composition by Jen Baker, starting with a deep drone. Gradually this sound texture, which unfolds as one long-extended movement, begins to differentiate itself through gestures and actions by the different players. With increasing energy, the piece moves towards a climax, followed by a deescalating finale. 'Space Travel From Someplace Else' by Jessie Cox is an intriguing work, built from responses by the performers to video material presented to them by Cox. The diverse performers produced a piece of grinding noises and a constant flow of tiny movements and patterns. Very communicative and lively work and again with a focus on sound. 'A wasp, some wax, an outline of the valley over us a fall', composed by Victoria Cheah, is a work of long extended patterns of shifting harmonies, creating one immense space experience. Likewise, 'Silo' written by ensemble member Greg Chudzik and the dramatic 'Untitled 1, for Wavefield' by Nicholas DeMaison, offer related investigations into sound. Together they deliver a clear and consistent picture of the territories this ensemble wants to explore. Truly fascinating music and performance. A compelling debut. (DM)
––– Address: https://newfocusrecordings.bandcamp.com/
THE FUNAMBULISTS - THE FUNAMBULISTS (CD by FMR Records)
The first thing that strikes you about ‘The Funambulists’ is how busy it all is. A lot is going on. Each of the musicians delivers the playing that I dreamed about seeing live when I was at school. I longed to go to jazz clubs and see musicians just going for it. For all their worth. Each is trying to outdo the other whilst keeping the music moving forward. And this is pretty much what happens on ‘The Funambulists’.
The group is made up of Tibor Takács Faki on reeds, László Lenkes on guitar and Goran Grubišić on drums. The playing is solid but abstract. Each player is effectively just going for it, doing their own thing but keeping tabs on everyone else. Once, or twice, per track, they all come together for a few moments, then they’re odd again on glorious tangents.
Near the end of ‘Black Cats on Hope,’ it all gets a bit too much. They are playing it too furious, and you can’t actually work out what’s going on. Part of me likes this. It means that I’ll find something new each time on repeat listens, but it also gets in the way of some brilliant playing. Each member is just nailing it throughout this song. It would have been fitting for each of them to have some time in the sun. Of course, this is far too structured for this kind of album, but it might have given the album a more memorable ending.
The name of the group is very apt. Funambulists mean tightrope walkers. To do it properly, you need dedication to your art. You need to be aware of what is going on around you and what your audience wants. The same can be said being an improvisational musician. You need to be able to switch the pace and tone at a moment's notice and deliver what the audience needs. It’s a tightrope performing in a group like this. Luckily, Faki, Lenkes and Grubišić are experts at their craft after decades of playing in and around their Subotica, Vojvodina, Serbia homes. ‘The Funambulists’ might not always work, but it is always enjoyable. (NR)
––– Address: https://www.fmr-records.com/
NICK STORRING - NEWFOUNDOUT (CD by Mappa Editions)
For a few moments, I considered reviewing the new release by Nick Storring and the one by Tomek Choloniewski because of various similarities; in both releases, percussion instruments play an essential role, and improvisation might be at the core of it. Also, the use of 'electromechanical instruments' has something to do with it. But I decided against it, as Storring uses a lot more instruments and Choloniewski only percussion. Storring's seventh album uses wind, percussion, and found/re-purposed instruments and "unusual recording tactics". I am not sure about the latter, but I assume not to have enough knowledge on such things to know what I am looking for. I believe improvisation lies at the bottom of this (another difference with Choloniewski, all about improvisation), yet taken Storring takes it into a different area. This music is not something that one can easily define as improvised, jazz, modern classical or even electro-acoustic. One could argue against the latter definition that there is little by way of electronics here. But then, what are the "electromechanical instruments" as mentioned on the cover, and what do they do? The seven pieces here result from layering various recordings together and is not the product of a 'one-take live recording (as always: I might be wrong), and Storring offers an interesting variation in approaches. The title piece starts as a light-hearted drone piece but slowly moves into a cloudier realm and ends with big, gentle percussion strokes. Such radical changes are common in pieces here, where endless fields of layered sounds (field recordings, wind instruments and, who knows, what else) come to an abrupt ending. Then fiery strokes on the percussion come on suddenly, or the absolute contrary one, the light percussive feats of 'Dome Extension'. Sometimes it has a tribal feeling ('Frood'), and sometimes it is moody as hell (drones and percussion in 'Khartum') and makes throughout an excellent trip. Some pieces might be a bit long, but that was hardly a problem with all the variation on this mighty fine release. (FdW)
––– Address: http://mappa.bandcamp.com
TOMEK CHOLONIEWSKI - MUSIC TO MAKE YOUR BODY SUFFER (CD/DVD by Bocian, Bolt and Soros Records)
For a few moments, I considered reviewing the new release by Tomek Choloniewski and the one by Nick Storring because of various similarities; the fact that both percussion instruments play an essential role and improvisation might be at the core of it. However, I decided against it as Choloniewski is all about improvisation using percussion, whereas Storring uses more instruments. I was afraid that the CD was the audio version of the DVD, but I am happy to say it is not. I had no heard solo work by Tomek Choloniewski before (I didn't review his other solo release; see Vital Weekly 815), but I learned he died earlier this year, so maybe this release is to honour his legacy? The CD is relatively short, with five pieces, spanning twenty-seven minutes. He works a lot with overtones in these pieces, using the bow upon the cymbals, resulting in eerie, dramatic sounds. Also, he uses objects to play the skins, making this all a bit more electro-acoustic (but without the electronics). This music is improvised, we recognize (parts of) the drumkit, yet it also sounds quite composed and planned. The whole thing sounds haunted and spooky, like the soundtrack to a horror film.
Oddly enough, that is also something I thought about when I saw the DVD. Here we see the drum kit and a bunch of what seems to be medical liquid foot dispensers above them. As this is called 'Water Metal Music', this bag contain water and it takes some time before it all starts. Choloniewski opens these, and the water drip onto metal pans, bowls and cups, adding drops as the piece evolves. Once there is a rhythm going, he starts the play cymbals with a bow. This concert was streamed last year and captured in black and white, which adds to the sounds' spooky (again!) atmosphere. Please close your eyes, it is raining on your isolated mansion, up in the hills, and some ghostly presence makes itself known via eerie sounds. Towards the end, whatever the hell that monster is, crows like a raven at your front door, rain is running rampant; disaster is near. What a damn good concert that was; you can watch and enjoy, but just listening does the same job. (FdW)
––– Address: https://bocian.bandcamp.com/
BROECKAERT//BERWECK//LORENZ - PARMEGIANI: STRIES (CD by Mode Records)
Perhaps to my shame, I must admit I don't know too much about the work of Bernard Parmegiani. In 1963 he composed 'Violostries', for violin and tape, of which he later used the tape part to create 'Stries' (1980). The first part uses cutting edge technology from that time, and in the second part, Roland, EMS (both receiving input from the tape) and Yamaha CS-40M synthesizers. In the third and final part, the three synthesizers play along with the tape. Now the piece is performed by the trio of Colette Broeckaert, Sebastian Berweck and Martin Lorenz, carefully reconstructing as much as possible the original synthesizer parts and the restored tape. I assume the first part, which is supposed to be tape only, sees no input from the trio. As said, my knowledge of the music of Parmegiani is limited, and so, not easy for me to comment on the version presented here. Simply going by my judgement, based on what I am hearing, I can say I very much enjoyed this piece of music. This is a piece of classical electronic music, and I would think some exciting differences with, maybe (again, no expert). The work has some great long-form sounds played out by this trio and sounds at the time quite 'industrial' and 'digital' across all three parts of this piece. The opening 'Stries: 1. Strilento' is a powerful tape composition, scratching and bending the original violin sounds and is perhaps the most classical piece of the three. The other two have these bigger synth drones cobbled together with small blocks of sounds, which in 'Stries: II Strio' results in a somewhat sad and moody piece of music, full of carefully constructed tension. In 'Stries: III. Stries' there is a rather fine cosmic tune, not bouncing arpeggio's but akin to a classical sci-fi film soundtrack. All of this I found most compelling and certainly something to explore further. (FdW)
––– Address: https://moderecords.com/
CARLO COSTA- SILOS (CD by Neither/Nor Records)
Musicians like big spaces. They are like children, shouting in a big church, cave, empty factory halls and, who knows, a silo. In 2018, Carlo Costa was in Rome, where he recorded improvised music inside an old grain silo. He didn't bring any instruments but instead used what was on-site; "branches, bricks, logs, metal pipes, stones, gardening tools, etc.". The reverb in this place is massive, and he explores that with his playing of these objects. We hear sounds from around the site (doors open at all times!) within the music. Most notably, these are cicadas, but buried here are also dogs, cars and people. Costa doesn't smash around stuff but carefully explores a few objects per segment. Also, his position to the microphone changes, even when there is some distance between him and the recording device, so he captured that space quite well. In the segment, around twenty minutes, he is pretty close to the microphone, or he uses some metallic pipes that are very audible. In his approach, Costa veers between rhythm (slow most of the time) and the surface exploration, using branches and such over the (I assume) concrete floor. I like that delicate balance between those approaches (far away, close by versus rhythm and sound). I have no idea if Costa took the thirty-six minutes here to capture (the length of this piece) or if this is a construct of various events recorded that day. I somehow assume the latter is the case. Following the louder section at around twenty minutes, there was a long section in which we seemingly hear only the cicadas. Still, Costa slowly starts moving around heavy objects from the early industrial age (not the music form!) finale of cranking ancient machinery, ending a most delicate musical journey. (FdW)
––– Address: https://neithernorrecords.bandcamp.com/
PHILIPPE NEAU - ETANG DONNE (CD by Unfathomless)
Hold On. What? Étang Donné'? "*(The title of the piece alludes to that of Marcel Duchamp, Histoire d'Eau Aussi -, meaning "also a story of water". Etang-Donné translates as « Given Pond » with a pun in French meaning « Given that»)" Alright. There is a connection to Duchamp's 'Etant Donnes', but maybe also to the French brothers making music under the same name? I don't think I heard of Philippe Neau before. He recorded his piece near a pond in Saint-Jean sur Erve, a small town in the middle of France. In the thirty-five minutes of his work, he audio paints a picture of the scene. I'd say it is the typical life near a pond, although not a lot of frogs here. We hear insects, birds, along with the rustling of leaves (in the first half) and the composer talking a walk (or, at least, so I assume). Neau uses many words to describe the piece (check Bandcamp or the label's website) and the process behind it, of editing, cutting, superimposing and such techniques to create this piece. If he said this was a thirty-five minute along the pond, I could have also believed it. So, is knowing that he spends a long time on it and not hearing that, is that a good or bad thing? I don't have the answer to that. I think the piece is not bad at all, but then, not great either. It is one of those things that are what they are; a piece of music with sounds from one place. The whole raison d'etre for this label, of course. I heard better, and I heard worse. But that save this at the end of the day. As said, I don' know. (FdW)
––– Address: https://unfathomless.bandcamp.com/
SLIM VIC - MÖRKRETS NARR (CD by Lamour)
Here we have the third solo album by Slim Vic. I reviewed the previous two (VItal Weekly 922 and 1077). Behind the name is Viktor Zeidner. He's also the man behind the label here. The title of this one translates as 'the fool of darkness' and is another weird album. The first one had computer-processed piano sounds, the second was full of ambient and drones, and this new one is a kind of extension of that, expanding now to the world of film soundtracks. Or at least, that's what I make of this. Darkness is indeed the operative word here. Either working out in a very spacious setting, but this is a change, also at times noisy and alienation. In 'Bal', a song he recorded with Oestergaards (with whom he did two pieces, as well as with Plasmafuse, his buddy from Fierce Transmission), which could have come straight out of the book of Cold Meat Industry. Many songs here have a creepy, uneasy feeling, obviously of the variety that I enjoy. It is hard to say what kind of instruments Slim Vic uses, apart from a more general 'electronics, synthesizers and effects' and maybe some tormented voices. Unfortunately, it is entirely the wrong time of the year for this. This is music for depth of autumn, torrential rainfall and such, darkness from early morning to early evening, fading into evening. But as I gaze out of my window, it is one of the loveliest days of Dutch summer. Mild temperature, fill on sunshine, a delicate breeze. And that's early evening! This release you need to stack on your pile of music to be played on dark and doomy winter days with rain and thunder. I can wait for that. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.lamour.se
PIERRE-YVES MARTEL - WEIRD STUDIES/MUSIC FROM THE PODCAST VOL.1 (LP, private)
Here's what I believe is an odd title; what 'podcast' are we talking about? I am not sure, as it is not mentioned anywhere. There are two texts here about this record, one by J.F. Martel and one by Phil Ford. The first tells us about how space is an essential feature in all recorded music (I beg to differ), and the other writes about his show, 'Weird Studies', so I assume that is the podcast (where? when?) and Pierre-Yves Martel has been contributing music for it. Live, I presume. He plays the guitar, pedal steel, lap steel, electric bass, synthesizer and singing bowl. Two more musicians are mention, Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet and alto saxophone) and Isaiah Ceccarelli (drums), plus Katelyn Clark (organetto) and CarlLudwig Hübsch (tuba). They are both on one piece. The recordings took place in Montreal. Perhaps I am reading too much into that last notion, but the album that fine post-rock character that I think is a common feature with more musicians from that city. It is not always full rock-on. I would think it is a small yet significant portion of it, but even though it rocks, it still does what the rest of the music does: playing out a dark atmosphere. The result is ambient music; full stop. It is, however, a different kind of ambient music. It is of the variety that uses no electronics, granular synthesis, laptops, but instruments in a space. It is not to say that this music meanders about, like a creek running down from a mountain. If anything, the music is massive, with massive textures at times, like a wild mountain river, with the guitar painting endless vistas over the warm dessert, before it goes back, indeed, into a more meandering kind of thing. Sometimes, when the saxophone plays a more dominant role, there is more jazz noir feeling here, like a small excursion into an underground, fifties jazz club. An oddity is also the briefness of the pieces here. There are twelve of them, and each is short and to the point. Nothing is too long, 'because we can do so'. Sometimes the delicate music didn't translate too well to vinyl, but I played it too much already. In the softer passages, crackles break the spell. I understand why people think vinyl is superior; I'm afraid I have to disagree. The CD could have been a great format here as well. (FdW)
––– Address: https://pierre-yvesmartel.bandcamp.com/
MUZIEK TERWIJL U LUNCHT - WERKEN 1 (CDR by Non Interrupt)
This is a real tongue twister if you don't speak Dutch. It means 'music while you have lunch'. It is another new project by Egbert van der Vliet. Two weeks ago, when I mentioned that he has no longer a label, Non-Interrupt had ended, but that was two weeks ago, so now I am happy to report that the label started again. The first release is this one, and one could see this as an extension/differentiation of Bijwerking. I know it might be easier to stick to one name for a particular musical style, but chaos is also a form of organization, I guess. The music is created with the help of 'manipulated field recordings', sourced from websites that offer these for free. Van der Vliet uses free software to manipulate these so that we no longer recognize the original. I believe I heard a fridge in here somewhere, but it might be something else for all I know. The technique to alter these field recordings is something that Van der Vliet has done pretty well. I would think a lot of this deals with fiddling with the frequencies. Suppressing or highlighting in a particular range, ignoring the rest, sticking these together in the form of a collage. With his project Bijwerking there was more of a stop motion approach going on, and Muziek Terwijl U Luncht sees him making the long-form approach. Within each piece, there are minimal shifts, so it all becomes highly atmospherical. Yet an industrial undercurrent is also part of this particular project as if he deliberately sourced a few field recordings from the world of mechanics. Unlike both Bijwerking releases, which were relatively short, this one is very long, filling the entire eighty minutes of the CDR. Music to space out; for a gentle afternoon of doing nothing at all (well, I wish for one of those!). (FdW)
––– Address: https://noninterrupt.bandcamp.com/releases
SICK DAYS - EAR ERR ARE (cassette by Vacancy Recordings)
DAVID PARKER/ELIZABETH MILLAR - FIRST TAKE/ARTIFICIAL FIELD RECORDING #2 (cassette by Vacancy Recordings)
GREY PARK - CORRUPTION & THYME (cassette by Vacancy Recordings)
Here we have three new releases from Canada's finest recycling company, Vacancy Recordings, at least when it comes to their cassette releases. They use old tapes for new music in small editions. Take, for instance, the latest release by Sick Days; an edition of 10 copies. As told before, this is the musical project of the label boss here, Jeffrey Sinibaldi, otherwise engaged in various bands and pseudonyms. As Sick Days, Sinibaldi reaches for the low end of electronics and the low end of field recordings. It is hard to say what he does, or where he sources his sounds, but on the Bandcamp page, we find this information: " field recordings ---- point abino. long beach (Lake Erie) aswan (Egypt) playter estates, taylor creek, west don park (Toronto) burdock lake (Haliburton) Kawartha Highlands park, Chippawa creek, etc" and "tapes & tape music, field recs., experiments, contact mics, samples, loops, cut-ups, improvs, composite installations, guitars, percussion, dubs, recordings, re:recordings, re:re:recordings, etc". One doesn't recognize these locations, so we take that for granted; also, perhaps, because there are many re:recordings involved, obscuring whatever went into the mix in the first place. These are long pieces, especially on the first side, in a long and slow monolith, with the utterleast of variation, which is most enjoyable. It sounds like being locked in an engine room. The B-side goes through various motions, rattling percussive elements (garden fences?) set against a similar kind of organic drone rumble. There is plenty of variation here, yet it still sounds lovingly coherent, ticking all the right lo-fi boxes that I love so well.
With the split release by David Parker and Elizabeth Miller we land in an entirely different world, save, perhaps, from the fact this has the bearings of improvised music, with both pieces recorded in one go. David Parker, on the first side of this 110-minute cassette, plays the electric guitar. He does that rather delicately. The music has a delicate, lyrical character, and it flows gently along. On the other side, there is a piece for motorized devices to rattle upon surfaces, maybe drum heads or such. It reminded me of zoviet*france. Whereas Parker goes through various motions with his piece, Millar stays very much on the same level. Her piece also has a beautiful, gentle flow. I was engaged in some boring repeating things while I was playing this, and both sides quite took me; Parker's guitar strumming and droning away, moving clearly from one section to the following and Millar's study in stasis. Both pieces are excellent for playing something that works very well as background music, and I have no idea if that is what both musicians intended with their music.
Grey Park are from Finland, and the person behind it is partly responsible for the Hyster label, which operates in the same way as Vacancy; recycling old cassettes. Whereas Vacancy seeks out fixed-length tapes, Hyster re-uses everything they can get their hands on, spray paints the tapes, and the result is that these are usually a bit shorter. This one (digitally available from the artist' Bandcamp, physically in an edition of 12 from Vacancy) is about thirty-two minutes. It is easy to see why a label as Vacancy, with artists such as Sick Days, likes this sort of music, as it is very similar to Sick Days. It fits the overall wave of lo-fi musicians (for which the use of recycled cassettes is probably the most consequential choice), but with noticeable differences. The music from Grey Park is much more gentle than Sick Days but essentially created with similar building blocks of rusty cassettes (again!), small synthesizers, a bunch of pedals. There is creates a slightly less dystopian soundtrack than some of the peers in their world. The minimal development is part and parcel of this music, along with hiss-based drones and a beautiful ambient synthscape in 'BE344', sitting next to the scratches of 'Magnified Soul'. I didn't know Grey Park before, but I am a sucker for this kind of music, which is certainly a new name to watch out for. (FdW)
––– Address: https://vacancyniagara.bandcamp.com/
MATT ATKINS - ROTATIONS (cassette by Complex Holiday)
As I recently noted, Matt Atkins made electronic beat music as Platform before, but on his recent release, 'Collapsing Fragments', he did similar stuff but under his real name. In his quest to examine what he is doing, he now has another exciting move. Before, Atkins used his real name to play music rooted in improvisation, using percussion, electronics and tapes. On this new release, he does that, and at the same time using loops. I am not sure, but I can imagine using a turntable (or more than one) to play his percussion instruments. Not unlike what Clinton Green does with his work, but without a similar density. Atkins approach is more open, choosing a few sounds and objects for his pieces. There is, so it seems, not a lot of electronics here, nor stuff running off cassettes, just a few moments in which he uses a delay or reverb. Only in the last piece, I recognized some field recordings and a sampled piano. There is the apparent mechanical sound in the music here, but Atkins keeps his works short and to the point, which is a great thing as a longer duration for these pieces would not be a good thing. There is a consistent approach in these pieces, but with enough variation in the objects that he uses for his music. What these objects are, I am not sure. These are not necessarily parts of a drum kit. They could be anything and probably are whatever he found around the house. In that respect, Atkins stays close to his other works Atkins, not Platform, but he borrows the rhythmic approach from the latter, which is a subtle twist in his career. Clocking in at just over half an hour, this release has the right duration. Atkins delivering a fine concept and executes it very well. (FdW)
––– Address: https://comphol.bandcamp.com/
CARLOS PEREA MILLA - TACTILE (cassette by Superpolar Taips)
CHORCHILL - RUHRPOTT DIVER (cassette by Superpolar Taips)
Here we have two further additions to Superpolar Taips' expanding cassette single (or cassingles) club and, again, by musicians unheard by me. Carlos Perea Milla is the first, and he works as MELQUÍADES since 2016, with two releases for Canigou Records. His label runs from "London, Buenos Aires and Malaga", which makes it sound like a multinational, in contrast to running "the concert series Bedroom Gigs". Milla uses tapes (notably with the extra layer of hiss), electronics, guitars, harps, field recordings and other sounds. He added drums to the equation, but they arrive only towards the end of 'Distante', the B-side. His pieces were recorded separately onto tape and then fed into Ableton, so there is a bit of speed change (and that extra bit of hiss). Whereas many of the entries in this series deal with electronics of whatever variety is available under the sun, the guitar is the main instrument here, strumming away beautifully. Folk music inspired Milla and mentions "Lake Mary, Karen Dalton, John Fahey, Nathan Salsburg, Wall Matthews and Mat Eric Hart", of which I only recognized the name of Fahey. Whatever Milla does, it is undoubtedly not that folky, as that experimental layer of tape-treatments and sound effects adds an excellent psychedelic feeling to the music. And the mood is reflective and triumphant at the same time, which I found curiously odd and very tasty.
On the other new release, by Chorchill, the musical project of Matthias Cingoez, we find electronic music. He uses "MIDI, synthesizer, sounds, acoustic bass and aerophone". In 2020, he released the album Nachtfisch (on Strategic Tape Reserve, chums of Superpolar Taips). He remixed two pieces from that album into two new songs. Chorchill does an interesting reversal. Whereas the original of the title track is an ambient affair, he adds rhythms to the remix and chopping its length down in half, and for the remix of 'Bleeding Into Fall', the beat is pushed back in favour of a more ambient approach. Both songs have a strong sense of melancholy and are downtempo. Music for the twilight part of the day; music to gaze out of the window, over the meadow. The pastoral feeling, if you will. The synthesizers are warm (even when, perhaps, also digital. Who cares?), with piano notes tinkling neatly away. Excellent songs, but sadly, clocking at just under five minutes, so I headed over the mothership album on STR for some more of this. Just can't get enough. (FdW)
––– Address: https://superpolar.bandcamp.com/
EMIL BEAULIEAU - KORM 88 (cassette by Adhuman)
It’s pretty safe to say that without Emil Beaulieu, AKA Ron Lessard, none of us would probably be reading this review new. His pioneering work, along with his seminal RRRecords label, has shaped so many people’s opinions of what noise/experimental music can, and should, be. Then you factor in that he’s a pretty solid guy and, well, without Lessard, none of us would probably be reading this review about a new cassette from Lessard on Duncan Harrison’s Adhuman label.
The album in question is titled ‘Korm 88’ and features two pieces of music Lessard sent Frans de Waard in 1988 that remained unreleased. The first side is 27-minutes of searing noise, groaning feedback and distressed soundscapes. It's great and everything we’ve come to expect from Lessard. The music is timeless. If I didn’t know anything about this album and you played it to me and said he had been recorded anytime in the last 40-years, I would have believed you. Things are going on that make it sounds like the time capsule is it, but at the same time, it sounds very fresh and contemporary. The final third of ‘Side A’ sounds like it features the Minutoli, field recordings at a foundry, the inside of a water pipe and an amp feedbacking. It's glorious. It really is. However, all this fades into the ether once ‘Side B’ starts. This audio letter Lessard sent de Waard around the same time features him just talking about whatever was on his mind that day with some noise playing underneath. The results are very conflicting.
On one hand, you feel like you are eavesdropping on a conversation. It reminds me of when I was a kid and used to find my neighbours' cordless telephone conversations on my radio. On the other hand, you want to turn it off, but you just can’t. It's too compelling. It truly is one of the most remarkable things I’ve heard in recent years.
At its heart ‘Korm 88’ is a fascinating album that gives us another insight into Lessard and his recorded work. There is a sense of fun to everything, yet it is truly punishing. It reminds us why we fell in love with this work, and noise/experimental music, in the first place. If this is the first Beaulieu album you’ve heard, you’re in for a treat. If you are an old Beaulieu head, this is a real treat. It might not be an album you want to play every day, but you’ll be on a real journey that you won’t want to end when you do. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like ‘Korm 88’. Lessard’s career isn’t just about his releases. It's about his ability to give a voice to people who didn’t realise they had one. And this plays into ‘Side B’. You can’t really hear what Lessard is saying, but you are glad he’s, still, saying it. (NR)
––– Address: https://adhuman.bandcamp.com/