Vital Weekly, the webcast: we offer a weekly webcast,
freely to download. This can be regarded as the audio-supplement to
Vital Weekly. Presented as a radioprogramm with excerpts of just some
of the releases reviewed. It will remain on the site for a
limited period (most likely 2-4 weeks). Download the file
your MP3 player and enjoy!
Listen to the
podcast on Mixcloud!
DEISON - MAGNETIC DEBRIS VOL. 1 & 2 (2CD by Dissipatio) *
MIRROR UNIT - SONIC RIVERS (CD by FMR Records) *
ERIC NATHAN - MISSING WORDS (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
THOMAS DELIO - TRANSPARENT WAVES: SELECTED COMPOSITIONS IV (1995-2021) (CD by Neuma) *
GARETH DAVIS - IN VIVO (CD by Iikki) *
FRANCISCO MEIRINO - SHATTERED REEL(M)S (CD by Sentimental Productions) *
NONONO PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE - EXCANTATIONS (CD by Setola di Maiale) *
HANNES BUDER - OUTSIDE WORDS (CD by Laaps) *
STEFAN ÖSTERSJÖ & KATT HERNANDEZ- AEILIAN DUO AT EDSVIKEN (CD by Setola Di Maiale) *
FRITZ HAUSER - ESCALIER SOUS LA PLUIE (miniCD and booklet by Lenka Lenta) *
PEDRO TUDELA & MIGUEL CARVALHAIS - INSTALLATIONS (book by Cronica Electronica)
ENNO VELTHUYS - DIFFERENT PLACES (LP by Dead Mind Records) *
FILIP GHEYSEN - THE PASSENGER DISEMBARKED (LP by Silken Tofu) *
KEITH KELLY & ASK NOT - OUT OF HOPE, WE REMEMBER (CDR by Edgetone Records) *
POOL PERVERT - PACKAGE BENEATH TENDERNESS (cassette by Non-interrupt) *
VERTONEN - TERRITORIES ET TERRAINS PART 1 & 2 (two cassettes by Ballast) *
HUALAN (花伦) - DAWN (cassette by Superpolar Taips) *
EDWARD SOL - ALMOST SUGAR (cassette by Depotism) *
EDWARD SOL - GO AND GET DRESSED (cassette by Quasi Pop) *
COLLECTIF INCERTAIN - ANALYSE NON STANDARD (cassette by Tribe Tapes) *
ALL AROUND DEATH, THE HORIZON (compilation cassette by Rekem Records)
THE URGE TRIO – ‘HEROS’- LIVE IN ST.PETERSBURG (download, Veto Records)
SCREW & STRAW – A SCREW IN STRAW’S CLOTHING (download, Veto Records)
BAKER & HUNT & ERB - LIVE AT THE HUNGRY BRAIN (download, Veto Records)
DEISON - MAGNETIC DEBRIS VOL. 1 & 2 (2CD by Dissipatio)
Ah! Am I correct to assume that Deison is a household name on these pages by now? Over the years, I reviewed quite a bit of his work, going from strength to strength. On this new release, Italian musician Deison delves into his archives, which are no doubt vast, and on these CDs, we don't find finished pieces from the old tapes, but rather blocks of old sounds, being re-used, re-mixed, re-configurated into new music. Multi-channel pieces are torn apart, and sounds are used for something new. Some of these pieces use sound from 1997, from old four-track tapes, but also recordings of magnetic interference. Liner notes such as these make an interesting read, especially when it's like this: "Memory Loss contains a piano loop recorded on tape in 1997". You play the piece and don't recognize any piano. I love stuff like that. The first CD is forty minutes, the second forty-six, so it could all fit on one disc with a bit of editing, but who am I to complain?
Deison's music can be classified as working with dark space, a black hole if you will. Each of the fourteen pieces is a variation of shimmering darkness. Be it a computerized, granulated drone, or heavily treated field recordings (or not? "Interno Camera d’Aria is an edited version of an indefinable unreleased impro track created in 2006") or percussion and guitars being slowed down ad Infinitum. The latter instrument seems to play a bigger role on the first disc than on the second. It also seems that the first disc has some louder music, when Deison covers musical ground covered by early Organum. Sound sources include "broken and then destroyed vinyl" (which made me scratch my head), which still sounds like vinyl. Everything sounds like nuclear dust covers and obscures the proceedings, but it's that ash grey quality that fits the cold winter's day perfectly (as long, of course, as you can stay inside and listen to the soundtrack; you shouldn't suffer cold weather). Please don't think there is any variation here. 'Hidden Light', with its higher piercing drones, sounds completely different from the non-moving 'Dust Particles'. Parameters shift and move, and it delivers some great music. (FdW)
––– Address: https://dissipatio.bandcamp.com/
MIRROR UNIT - SONIC RIVERS (CD by FMR Records)
Mirror Unit are a duo of saxophones and prepared instruments, appearing to be mostly percussion. Tim O'Dwyer and Georg Wissel have been playing together for a while, actually since 2014 and released their debut 'Wind makes weather' the same year. They have regularly been performing in Germany (where Wissel lives), Australia (where O'Dwyer is from) and S.E. Asia. Both have played and still perform with various other musicians and groups outside of The Mirror Unit.
The music on this release consists of 6 pieces, between 4 and 10 minutes, of free improvisation. I would think, recorded live, all in one go, no overdubs, as only one day of recording is mentioned, back in 2019, in Cologne. The release was obviously delayed by ... hm, I can't remember what was going on 2020/21. Can you?
I am not sure how these sounds were created, as percussive sounds, saxophone bursts, and breathing sounds interchange abruptly. Some might have been triggered by others, avoiding changing instruments frequently and rapidly. Nevertheless, it is this variance in sound that keeps the pieces interesting. Each musician takes one channel so that you find yourself trying to determine how they created and changed between sound sources and whether or not there was any layering of sound. But it mostly seems that this was, in fact, played live straight to reel.
The first three pieces take a very similar approach that sets single sounds against each other, lacking continuous playing. Only track three sports brief passages of 'conventional' saxophone playing. This makes the piece more interesting than others, as it moves between sound experimentation and jazz phrases, exploring the possibilities in this space. Track 4 moves into more continuous music, creating more of a sound 'space' and an atmosphere to explore. Track 5 and 6 somehow do not match up, reverting not precisely back to single sound 'blips', but getting stuck somewhere between creating a listening atmosphere, sound experimentation, and some glimpses at free jazz duo improvisation.
Although I do enjoy free jazz and sound experimentation, this release was a little too heavy on the acoustic sound modification and - for me - in most parts lacked the building of ideas and the tension even improvised music can create. Probably - similar to some of the Spontaneous Music Festival releases discussed two issues back - music that is best viewed live. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.fmr-records.com/
ERIC NATHAN - MISSING WORDS (CD by New Focus Recordings)
For this one, we will need three prequels:
1. If you know several languages, you might know the sensation that something can be exactly expressed by a word or phrase in one language - but has no counterpart in another. I.e., I could say something in one word in Dutch but might struggle for words to express the same in English.
2. German is a language where you can easily create new words by joining existing ones. One of the better known in English (that is happy to adopt German words where own lack) is 'Schadenfreude'. The glee upon someone else's mishap, obtained by a joiner of 'Joy' and 'Damage'. So if you lack an expression, you might help yourself out by inventing the 'Missing Word'.
3. Ben Schott is an U.S.American writer. He wrote 'Schottenfreude', a book on invented German words that he explained with humorous and serious elements, creating completely new meanings and contexts. For example, the 'Unsterblichkeitstod' (death of immortality) is defined as the feeling that grips you when your last parent dies. This is a book of the otherwise 'missing' words.
Eric Nathan is a young U.S.American composer born in 1983 and thus a generation removed from me. As a result, his recording back catalogue only dates to 2014. But this also means that he has adopted a different approach to the many 'contemporary classical' composers of the second half of the last century. He has a much more expressionist approach to music that reminds of the early 20th century, he uses the full spectrum of the ensembles he composes for, and the full spectrum of musical expression that has built over the past 400 years or so, since the 'classical' classical music started with Haydn and Mozart. And you do feel there is an influence of grunge ...
The CD brings us 6 'Missing Words', most of them having three movements. Every movement is overwritten by one of Schott's new words. There is no direct link between the two. If you did not know the title, you would simply enjoy the music. However, if you look up the word, you can find many elements that connect the two. The liner notes discuss this at length - you can read them, undoubtedly helpful, but you can also launch your expedition at discovering how Nathan has turned (invented) word to the music.
Take this: 'Kraftfahrzeugsinnenausstattungsneugeruchsgenuss' - the joy of the smell of the interior of a newly delivered automobile. Now, wasn't that German so much sexier? I did not agree with the liner notes here. The sounds are those of surprise, of joy, of exploration (not trying to start a new car in vain ...?). But then. 'Herbstlaubtrittvergnuegen' is all about kicking around leaves in autumn, 'Brillenbrillianz' begins with a glorious chord in C (VERY unexpectedly), 'Dreiecksumgleichung' sees two trios pinching instruments from each other. You get the drift.
And see, there are three elements of insight and musical joy combined here. There is the humour of the 'missing' words invented to convey new (hitherto missing) meaning. There is the interpretation of these words in a lighthearted but at the same time musically engaging and compositionally sound manner. And there is the joy of listening to well composed and performed music that would stand by itself, even if voided of its title. The six sets of pieces (or movements, in a more conventional setting) are performed by different ensembles and orchestras, using different instruments. Eric Nathan has used these to the best effect. He has left the exploration of sound behind him and returned to a melody-based compositional style that, it seems to me, has more in common with the post-rock of Sunday Shogun or the Rachel's than with John Cage, whilst not even ignoring what Cage did for modern music. Anyone tired of the 'sound drippings' we have often heard over the past 30 years and looking for something more 'baroque' and gripping, something to get your teeth into without only finding a lot of empty space, here is a release to look into. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/
THOMAS DELIO - TRANSPARENT WAVES: SELECTED COMPOSITIONS IV (1995-2021) (CD by Neuma)
DeLio is an acclaimed contemporary classical composer who has been active back to the 1970ies. Today, he is a music theorist and computer musician; not only that, but he also composes music for ensembles. As you can guess, this is the currently last instalment in a Neuma series celebrating his body of work.
Being slightly wary of 'contemporary classical music', and not being reassured by the tag 'computer music' (thinking of randomly generated sound blips), I was rather startled by the first piece on this compilation, 'and of "of" '. You must know, though, that DeLio has worked several times with poet P.Inman, an experimental poet of our times. The piece makes (listened to via headphones) your ears (and hair) stand on end. DeLio has an approach of singling out sounds. That is, he spaces sounds apart by stretches of silence. Now, combine that with cut-up poetry, and you have people speaking left, right, and inside your head in an eerie experience, anxiously waiting for the next sound or voice and where it may come from. Words can be heard but not understood, mixing a variety of voices with electronic sound. This approach reminded me of Francois Bayle and other, primarily French, electroacoustic composers. And it is a welcome anti-approach to the dramatic narratives so loved by some, especially U.S.American, composers and authors, as discussed in previous issues of VITAL.
The ensemble pieces have a different approach, not taking recourse to voices and words. But the underlying principle remains the same: mingle sounds with stretches of silence. This brings out more of the single sound, exposing it and making it (sic!) more transparent. Some pieces are purely electroacoustic; others involve percussion, clarinet, saxophone, violin, cello and more, either solo or in two cases as a quartet. The snare drum in 'Transparent Wave I' and the xylophone in 'VI' could have been synthetic, but apparently, this is played live. As a result, the dichotomy between silent parts (that exist) is broken by variations between more or less dynamic passages. I am not even sure whether the xylophone is not followed by an electronic 'mirror' of a sine wave. It sounds so pure.
All in all, an enjoyable release that builds a lasting bridge between electroacoustic and acoustic music, neither relying on only one or the other, and possibly taking the best of both forward. And certainly, music that places itself outside of entrenched categories. (RSW)
––– Address: https://neumarecords.org/
GARETH DAVIS - IN VIVO (CD by Iikki)
The new release by Gareth Davis is the audio part of a project that also includes a book of photography by Klavdij Sluban. His works deal with photos from the Fleury-Mérogis Young Offender Institution (France), in addition to his work from Izalco prison, located in El Salvador". The visual component is never part of the promotional material, so left out of the review. If there is a link to the music, then that is something that I missed here. Davis receives some help from Robin Rimbaud (modular synth), Steven R. Smith (psaltery and spike cello) and Rutger Zuydervelt (electronics); not everybody on all tracks. Davis plays the bass clarinet, pedals, electronics and field recordings. It all results in some interesting pieces of music. Even when I heard some of Davis' previous work and the occasional (solo) concert, I had no preconceived idea what to expect here. The field recordings come from non-specific locations, but it all has that rainy day approach. In a sort of romantic notion, I can see David play in a tunnel, and the rain pours on either side, while sometimes kids play outside. Davis' music shimmers right through that; the soundtrack to 'the dark alley murder case'? The clarinet is just one of the instruments, along with the field recordings, pedal work, and electronics that Davis also uses here. His background in improvisation (which is what I know of him) is something that one doesn't notice too much here. I am sure it is part of the methods used to compose these six pieces, but there is, so I think, enough planning part of this to label this a composition. I enjoyed the darkness of the music, the moodiness, and a bit of the abstraction that is also part of this. You could think of this music as similar to a story, but at the same time enjoy the abstract nature of the sounds and makeup images of your imagination. (FdW)
––– Address: https://iikki.bandcamp.com/
FRANCISCO MEIRINO - SHATTERED REEL(M)S (CD by Sentimental Productions)
The new release by Switzerland's Francisco Meirino comes in two editions. One is a standard CD, and the other is the CD housed in a wooden box, plus the album on a reel-to-reel machine, plus one of the thirty tape-loops in the production of the music. I got one of those; maybe my recent love for old reel machines didn't go unnoticed? Next to the thirty loops, Meirino uses a lot more, a list of which reads like poetry; a tiny bell, a rumble crus carbonic acid, a drone, a rusty motor etc. There is also a less poetic list, "30 tape loops, tape echo, reel-to-reel tape recorder, modular synthesizer, piano, percussions, resonator guitar, violin, voice, field recorder and computer. Meirino uses the faulty lines of equipment as an additional 'instrument' or 'sound processing tool' for his music. It is smooth, he's not likely to use it, so it seems. That said, the four pieces on 'Shattered Reel(m)s' are surprisingly 'smooth', by Meirino's standards. His music is to be found in the world of musique concrète, the modern variant. A version that concerns itself less with granular synthesis, the glissandi of changes pitches, but rather with a noisier version of sound processing and cruder editing, cutting technique. Rusty scissors rather than demagnetized editing razorblades (if you know, you know, and otherwise download Terence Dwyer's "Composing with Tape Recorders Musique Concrete for Beginners", easily found online). In Meirino's world, the result is the central point, and there is nothing else but the music at hand. There is no bigger idea, political thought, just what you hear, and something, at least, so I believe one could judge only in aesthetic terms. Do you like what you hear or not? If this kind of music is not something you heard a lot in your life, then you may reject it; I doubt, however, that you'd be subscribed to Vital Weekly. I enjoy this music a lot. There is some excellent brutal force within this music, especially in 'Part Four', but with the scattered tones of the piano and percussion, Meirino allows for some refined tones. Maybe he's older and wiser and tones down? Who knows? Great package! (FdW)
––– Address: https://sentimentalproductions.bandcamp.com
NONONO PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE - EXCANTATIONS (CD by Setola di Maiale)
The NoNoNo Percussion Ensemble is a trio of percussionists that play various drums, cymbals, electrified metal sheets, prepared piano and electronics. All three are accomplished percussionists and improvisers and have played with big names: Anthony Braxton, John Butcher, Tom Waits, Nina Hagen, to name a few. One of them actually runs the label, Stefano Giust runs Setola di Maiale since 1993. The music presented here and titles given to the individual improvisations have a common theme: in hindsight, Gino Robair thought the music had a positive ritualistic quality; hence the titles are derived from ancient customs to ward off evil spirits or protect people from being cursed or haunted by poltergeists. There's a sense of space in the music, and it's more texture-based than melodic, although once in a while, the prepared piano and high frequencies made using the cymbal and drumstick can be heard. Most improvisations are long-form long tracks. Tracking down the origin of the titles or the custom it refers to is a rabbit hole in itself. One example: the chimarute (cimarute in Italian) is a talisman used in Southern Italy and contains several apotropaic - meaning protective magic- charms. Apotropaic stems from the Greek apotropaia and means to ward off and is another word in another track. Back to the music. As these men are all accomplished improvisers, the interaction is phenomenal. Although most tracks are relatively long, the music or sounds are never dull. I find it hard to describe the music. Therefore I say this: give it a spin! Highly recommended as this is thoughtful, balanced and highly imaginative music. (DSM)
––– Address: https://www.setoladimaiale.net/
HANNES BUDER - OUTSIDE WORDS (CD by Laaps)
This is a release without words, outside words. And even without words, this music tells a lot. This music tugs at the heartstrings by vocalising folk-like melodies accompanied by cello playing and sometimes added guitar. All that with an intensity that's both sincere and thoughtful. On several tracks, electronics play a very modest part in changing the sound of the instruments, for example, the ending of Outside Words. The most extended piece, clocking in at over twelve minutes, is 'No death and no regrets' -a quote from Henry Miller's Black Spring-. By using overdubbing, a three-minute intro leads from a simple starting motive to a chugging cello orchestra which could easily be the soundtrack of a Peter Greenaway film. The other pieces are much shorter. Fragments of the past start with a brooding melody not unlike that Baltic composer would concoct. Buder has written several scores for theatre, dance and film. It shows. Outside words is an outstanding release. For Hannes Buder this is the fifth solo record. In the past, he recorded - amongst many others- with Luc Houtkamp, a Dutch saxophone player currently residing in Malta. (MDS)
––– Address: https://laaps-records.com/
STEFAN ÖSTERSJÖ & KATT HERNANDEZ- AEILIAN DUO AT EDSVIKEN (CD by Setola Di Maiale)
The music on this disc contains a violin and aeolian guitar duo, and the sound of 59°23’27.1”N 18°01’49.6”E, a place at Edvisken, an elongated narrow inlet of the Baltic sea. Stefan Östersjö is a professor of Musical Performance and Head of subject at Luleå University of Technology and an accomplished classical guitarist of contemporary music. Katt Hernandez is an accomplished violin improviser and various contemporary music ensembles. Both are interested in the interaction between an environment and music played in and inspired by that environment. If you don't know what an aeolian guitar is -I didn't know either - it's an acoustic guitar with long threads coming from the other end of the saddle. The standard strings are there as well, and the regular guitar side stays the same. These long threads are tied to trees. The wind will vibrate the cords, or pluck these threads/strings. One afternoon in June, Stefan Ostersjo and Katt Hernandez set up shop at 59°23’27.1”N 18°01’49.6”E. It's the longitude and latitude of the exact spot. Each track has the starting time of that particular recording plus the spot. As all recordings also have field recordings of that spot recorded simultaneously, the results can be quite fascinating. Like the music, the long threads sometimes sound as if they were produced electronically in say the fifties. Quite eerie actually. There's a long solo from a duck or ducks on the second track, and various other birds make their entrance. As the music is quite delicate and on a relatively low volume, this release should be listened to with headphones or in a tranquil environment. The shortest track is nearly 9 minutes long, longest one is 25 minutes. Fascinating timbres come and go. The actual guitar is used as well, but only in a few instances on the whole record. It's quite a ride. Not for people who are easily distracted. (MDS)
––– Address: https://www.setoladimaiale.net/
FRITZ HAUSER - ESCALIER SOUS LA PLUIE (miniCD and booklet by Lenka Lenta)
PEDRO TUDELA & MIGUEL CARVALHAIS - INSTALLATIONS (book by Cronica Electronica)
It has been a while since I last got a new release from Lenka Lente. Maybe I fell out of favour for complaining once too often that one-half of the releases is not for me. Lenka Lente publishes small books in the French language, from the history of (obscure? Sometimes) authors from the world of surrealism. In several aspects, this new boo is a bit different, but no, the French language hasn't changed. The booklet and the music are by the same person, Fritz Hauser, from Switzerland. For the opening of the new premises of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh in Arles, France, Hauser created a new work in the Staircase. I can imagine Lenka Lenta's consideration that Van Gogh is from The Netherlands (remember, there is no such country as 'Holland') and Vital Weekly. Still, for me, that is of little relevance. With the booklet still in French, there is a barrier I can't cross. The piece's title translates as 'Staircase in the rain', and I quite enjoy this piece. It doesn't rely on the use of rain sounds. Or, if it does, I can't hear it. Instead, I had this dreamy notion that Hauser captures the sound of a brush on canvas. He paints with sound in various strokes (can't help making references such as this), but he uses variations of these strokes to play his composition as a painter. They sound the same, yet they are different if you get my drift. In fifteen minutes, the painting starts, with short brushes and finishes, with final long strokes. Action painting meets musique concrète, if you get my drift, in a great piece of music.
The next one is also a book, also (a bit of) a problem. This time, the text is in Portuguese and English, so that's not the issue here. I like to think our principal interest is sound; we can hear on whatever sound carrier (don't send your VHS tapes, please, or 8-track cassettes). Reading about sound already gets a bit more complicated, especially when it comes to theory. Still, in the case of Pedro Tudela and Miguel Carvalhais 'Installations', we deal with an art catalogue. You may know them as the duo @C, of whom we reviewed various releases over the years. They are a laptop duo rooted in field recordings, acoustic sound and improvisation. Another interest of theirs is the creation of installations. Since 2005 they did a few, and they are documented in this 210 pages softcover book, with 140 images, plus texts describing these and a more general introduction. It is undoubtedly a fascinating read, and the installations look fantastic, but it is not the 'real' thing. We miss a great deal of the experience, the sight and the sound. There are now two releases on the Cronica Bandcamp page that deal with two of these installations, and I strongly recommend playing these while flipping/reading this book (links below, they're both 'name your price downloads'). I know you'd still miss out on the visual side of the experience, but at least there is something to hear when looking at the pictures and reading the text. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.lenkalente.com/
––– Address: http://www.cronicaelectronica.org/releases/181
––– Address: https://cronica.bandcamp.com/album/installations-seis-elementos
––– Address: https://cronica.bandcamp.com/album/installations-lmy-7-10
ENNO VELTHUYS - DIFFERENT PLACES (LP by Dead Mind Records)
Now we're talking! Following 'Glimpse Of Light' (Vital Weekly 1283), there is now the second re-issue of Enno Velthuys' music. Velthuys was an ambient musician with a handful of cassette releases on Dutch labels in the 1980s and passed away in 2009. Roundabout that time, his work was re-discovered, and the hunt for re-issues started. The rights of his music are with Hessel Veldman and Willem de Ridder, and the first is the one lending a hand to get these much in demand re-issues finally out. Jos Smolders over at EAR labs is responsible for the re-mastering, which sounds great. I had some of the original cassettes back in the day, which didn't do the fragility of the music much justice. Too much hiss and such, layering a dusty cloud over the music, making it difficult to hear. Now it shines like no end. Unlike the previous re-issues of which the original was too long for LP, 'Different Places' is complete, with all eleven pieces of the original record. Velthuys' ambient music uses a lot of synthesizers (or perhaps a few synthesizers, but in various configurations). On 'Glimpse Of Lights', the music went in the direction of a more new agey sound; here on 'Different Places, Velthuys goes for ambient music with a bite. It is all a bit darker, a bit stronger and a bit deeper with some lovely dark drones, shimmering piano melodies ('The Day After'), and a slightly rougher path to walk. 'Siberia' is a lovely piece of darkness, 'Ricefields' has a fine industrial kling klang sound, next to a much lighter 'To dance With You'. That has a fine repeating bounce. Throughout Velthuys has quite a bit of variation up his sleeve here. You could say that he's taking the listener to 'different places'; also as indicated by the various titles, 'Church In Spain' and those mentioned above two. Next up is 'Different Places', also on LP. That completes the trilogy for this label. Some other label will pick up a compilation of Velthuys' more rhythmic oriented material. It is about time! (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.blutistzeit.nl/
FILIP GHEYSEN - THE PASSENGER DISEMBARKED (LP by Silken Tofu)
Throughout ‘The Passenger Disembarked', Filip Gheysen really creates some impressive drones. At times it isn’t really that interesting what he’s done, more the sound he’s pushing out of the speakers. And I’m ok with that. Some drone needs that variation of tone. It needs to be dynamic and moving forward. ‘The Passenger Disembarked’ doesn’t do it. I’m not saying that what Gheysen does is basic, it really isn’t, but when he’s just creating a flat drone, like at the end of ‘The Enlivened Citizen’, for example, that’s about as great as things get. It just flatlines brilliantly, creating something that feels both incredibly structured and thought out as well as feeling throwaway.
The album excels at creating a despondent, melancholic vibe and just sticking with it. There are plenty of subtle melodies going on here, but none of them makes you smile. Again, this is a great thing. Sometimes I get the impression that drone artists are just going through the motions without much thought about why or what they’re doing. This cannot be said about Gheysen. Behind everything he does is a thought. And it really shows in the music. The louder you can play the album the more you hear. Much like a Mark Rothko painting, the closer you get to it, the more you understand. This might sound pretty obvious but listening to this album on headphones with the volume set at 10/100. You get the idea and basic themes. Crank it up to 30+, and you can start to hear the interplay of sounds. Overlapping, feedback, dank rhythms, electrical hums. Then playing it on a stereo as loud as you can, puts everything into focus. You can hear it all, or at least, you can hear what Gheysen wants you the hear. The rest is buried beneath layers of a drone.
‘The Passenger Disembarked’ might not be an album I play a lot, but I will really enjoy it when I do. There is enough variation in stopping it from getting boring, but enough of the same to make it captivating. (NR)
––– Address: https://silkentofu.bandcamp.com/
KEITH KELLY & ASK NOT - OUT OF HOPE, WE REMEMBER (CDR by Edgetone Records)
Sometimes you can just be jealous of alliterations. For example, the boss of Edgetone Records is very nicely called Rent Romus, and the musician whose album he has just released is Keith Kelly. Coincidence, or are they in it for the sake of it? Anyway, on this album with twelve songs, Keith B. Kelly (that's his name too) makes the top of the bill improvised jazz with his free jazz band Ask Not. All in all, here are six musicians who manage to find a fantastic overall sound together without their individual skills getting snowed under. The lineup consists of Keith Kelly (saxophones, flute, bass clarinet), Jon Armstrong (saxophones, electric bass), Brett Reed (vibraphone, marimba), Ari Chersky (electric guitar and effects), Doug Stuart (electric and acoustic bass ), and Shaun Lobecki (drums and cymbals). The album was recorded during a weekend and is a beautiful reflection of all those different characters who have their urge to assert themselves but who can also give themselves entirely to their fellow musicians - they share their musical adventure of those few days with each other in complete harmony. There is no fighting for the most virtuosity but working together on a fascinating whole that swings between jazz, jazz-rock, experimental, noise, and ambient. Nothing much was communicated in advance about what would be done; what is documented is the in-the-flow responses to one another. Often it was 'I got something', and there they went. And how. As far as I'm concerned this is one of the better free jazz improvisation albums of recent times. (AvS)
––– Address: http://edgetonerecords.bandcamp.com/
POOL PERVERT - PACKAGE BENEATH TENDERNESS (cassette by Non-interrupt)
Sometimes one has these chaotic days in which everything comes together. As if there is some conspiracy going on, 'let's all bother this guy today'. So, you sit behind your computer, answering emails, doing 'stuff' and nothing happens on the weekly front. Today was such a day, but at one point, I decided I had enough, and took up Pool pervert's latest release, started to play that, sat back and read a book. Pool pervert is one of the few musicians who like to release long tapes (this one is ninety minutes, again), so I knew I was in for a solid ninety minutes of downtime, with music that I was bound to enjoy. The cover lists this time "synthesizer and sound manipulation", which steps away from the usual "sound manipulation" only. I doubt whether Pool pervert went out and bought a real synthesizer, so my best guess is that he uses any of those free online synthesizer websites, which some will surely will disagree with. Still, the modular synthesizer is a hobby for the well-to-do in my book. And besides, who cares? I am one of those people who will say: how does it sound, and do I like it? If the answers are 'great' and 'yes', why bother with the technology behind the achievement? Pool pervert's music this time is indeed veering towards the synthetic sound, as opposed to his heavily treated work with field recordings from before. What remains is Pool pervert's collage-like approach towards composition, albeit in a slow, long-form, going from segment to segment via a long crossfade. There is not much change in that sense, and Pool pervert's music remains drone-like, spacious, and psychedelic. All of which appears from a fresh and raw perspective and sometimes goes on a bit too long, but I regard that to be part of the trick that Pool pervert plays with his music. (FdW)
––– Address: https://noninterrupt.bandcamp.com/
VERTONEN - TERRITORIES ET TERRAINS PART 1 & 2 (two cassettes by Ballast)
While I can't say that COVID is the best thing that ever happened, I think it gave us exciting things to think about and reconsider. What has been described as 'difficult times', I tend to see as times of 'interesting opportunities. Your favourite food sold out? Time to try something new! No concerts to play (and yes, quickly said here, as I don't make a living out of it)? Stay at home and record new music. I can't speak for Blake Edward, also known as Vertonen, but he writes me saying that "the pandemic has made for extremely productive" for him. Three weeks ago, I reviewed his twelve mini CDR package, 'Calendar', and now it is time for a double cassette, again almost eighty minutes of music. Much of the material on these cassettes deal with field recordings and electronics. Or maybe I should say, many field recordings, some treated with electronics. The package contains two instruments in the recordings, and twenty-six copies are available. Perhaps, so I thought, the limitation is a bit of a sad thing. Over the years, I became quite a fan of Vertonen's work, and I would think it would be great if more people could hear his work; there is no Bandcamp page for Vertonen or the label. That means that it does not always reach many people, which is a sad thing. The field recordings consist of water/rain recordings, obscured activities in a small cabin in the woods (the room is empty approach, but it is still sounding), crackling of leaves and such. Sometimes these field recordings can be faulty electrical charges, and then it all sounds like electronic music, such as in 'transitive period migration, nulled by cultivation'. The electronic part of the music is kept in the background this time, adding a bit of colouring most of the time. A few pieces have a more electronic approach, such as 'white shell sky', 'anemonic breath' and 'dilation'. It ends on the fourth side with another return to the turntable, Vertonen's first instrument of choice, with 'and without consequence'. In other words, Vertonen once again delivered excellent work, with subtle variations and great music all around. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ballastnvp.blogspot.com/
HUALAN (花伦) - DAWN (cassette by Superpolar Taips)
So far the cassette single by Superpolar Taips came in a limited edition of ten copies, but for whatever reason, this is an edition of thirty-five copies. Also sold out at the time of writing. From Wuhan in China (a place not many people heard of until two years, I assume), hails Hualun (花伦), formed in 2004 and which Superpolar describes as a rock band; "a vital part of the early years of the “Wuhan punk” scene and the explosive Chinese “post rock” wave". There is not much rock about the two pieces here as there is quite a bit of synthesizers, piano and, well who knows, a bit of layered drone guitars. I checked one of their recent albums, fascinated by the title 'wʌndərlænd', which sounded more rock like than these two pieces. 'Old Liftman' on side A is a dramatic synth drone piece, with even more dramatic piano notes. This closed off in its drama and would make a great piece of film soundtrack. Guitars play a big role on the second side, the title track, and the sky clears a bit. The piano plays out a few notes, quite open, and the guitar strums a few chords and, towards the end, a bow goes across the strings, for a dramatic ending to the piece. This song could also be ain a film, but I am not sure what kind of movie that would be. (FdW)
––– Address: https://superpolar.bandcamp.com/
EDWARD SOL - ALMOST SUGAR (cassette by Depotism)
EDWARD SOL - GO AND GET DRESSED (cassette by Quasi Pop)
By now I lost count on the number of releases by Edward Sol, Ukrainian musician and label boss. He did a massive amount of releases, but some of his work appears in small quantities and never make it to these pages. The first of his two recent albums is a cassette by Despot, a label from Ukraine (not one run by Sol). For digital versions, please use Sol's Bandcamp. Edward Sol is a musician who is an active force in the musical field that uses lo-fi electronics, old cassettes and small synthesizers. The covers of both cassettes indicate them as 'tapes and samples' or 'tapes, loops, samplers, analogue electronics'. The resulting music is fine low-resolution mood music, densely compressed tones, shaky loops and crunchy electronics. Sol uses the form of collage through long-form fades, crossing one uneven terrain for another downhill drive. This kind of music is something I enjoy a lot and could hear (almost) always. Music that offers deeper drones, slightly piercing electronics, veering towards the noise, but never going over the top and, if well done, offer surprises next to expectations. It is not easy to say what expectations constitute or a surprise. All of that is within the material at hand. I never know beforehand. Edward Sol deals with both and continues to deliver strong releases. Both these releases, respectively thirty and twenty minutes. are proof of the man's talent to keep producing exciting music within a limited set of production tools. (FdW)
––– Address: https://despotism.bandcamp.com/community
––– Address: https://edwardsol.bandcamp.com/
COLLECTIF INCERTAIN - ANALYSE NON STANDARD (cassette by Tribe Tapes)
Here I encounter a new name, a trio from France. I recognize one name, Christophe Petchanatz, also known as Klimperei. The other two members are Denis Aubert (Glue Trax) and Patrick Champredon. The music/release here is another example of the exciting times that Covid also has to offer (soon to be rephrased as 'had to offer') "through the internet during this crazy pandemic". Hence the name of an uncertain collective, of course. There is also a more cryptic text here, explaining (or not!) the music; ""Analyse Non Standard" is the result of this meeting, friction, synergy, surprises and friendly breeches, grey landscapes with fine sandpaper, small electronic animals appearing here and there, floating objects — tinnitus and phosphenes". There are many ways to work on music through the internet, including websites that act as a DAW - digital audio workstation. These allow the participants to add layers of sound, dd sound effects and mix, so quite the democratic result occurs. I have no idea if Collectif Incertain used something like that. The music is relatively free and energetic, bouncing and reeling off on all sides, with instruments and voices lifted left and right from the Internet, vinyl or the living room. Some of the music quickly reminded me of Klimperei's naivety. As I have no idea what the others do, it is not easy for me to connect all the dots in the music. There is an abundant use of looped sounds, sticking at times a bit too long in a loop, but around which they spin electronics, snippets, voices, and all of this is melodic, moody and atmospheric. As said, at times, perhaps a bit too much of the same for too long, but throughout, there is quite some variety in these twelve pieces/fifty minutes. I think it worked best if Petchanatz' trademark piano/percussion took the lead and Collectif Incertain reached for a more rounded song structure. Indeed, a project to continue when things are 'certain' again. (FdW)
––– Address: https://tribetapes.bandcamp.com/
ALL AROUND DEATH, THE HORIZON (compilation cassette by Rekem Records)
Here we have a compilation cassette from Greece with a phrase borrowed from Dutch novelist Harry Mulisch's book 'Het Stenen Bruidsbed'. It refers to the destruction of Dresden in 1945. This cassette is the third and final part of a trilogy 'of fairy tales', compiled by Nicolas Malevitsis. His fairy tale is, perhaps, not a fairy tale as such, as it is the real story of the destruction of his home village of Caloskopie in Phokis by the nazis during the second world war. It is about how the story is told repeatedly, changing, just like a fairy tale. The music here deals with death destruction but also with renaissance. After such an event, the first sounds you hear are birds, insects, and human voices. Jaap Blonk's 'Dirges' is undoubtedly a lament for death and destruction; a heavily layered piece of vocal sounds, almost like a choir of animal sounds, full of agony. At the end of the cassette, Artificial Memory Trace deals entirely with field recordings of birds and insect sounds. Michael Barthel has very short vocal bits, which reminded me of Kurt Schwitters' 'Ursonate' and sounded like a call out to any survivors. From an improvised music perspective is the duet of Martin Küchen and Michal Libera, combining the saxophones of the first and a montage of these by the latter. The cassette opens with Dimitris Karayeorgos, the piece that goes mainly in the direction of musique concrète, with a careful deconstruction of voice and instruments. This is a really great release, even when the subject matter is quite grim, and that reflects in the music. (FdW)
––– Address: https://rekemrecords.bandcamp.com/
THE URGE TRIO – ‘HEROS’- LIVE IN ST.PETERSBURG (download, Veto Records)
SCREW & STRAW – A SCREW IN STRAW’S CLOTHING (download, Veto Records)
BAKER & HUNT & ERB - LIVE AT THE HUNGRY BRAIN (download, Veto Records)
For many years, Christoph Erb has been a vital force in the Swiss improv scene. In the early 2000s, he started to work with Manuel Mengis (Gruppe 6), Hans-Peter Pfammatter (Lila), a.o. In 2007 he presented his group Erb Gut and started Veto Records, which released most Erb recordings. Very influential for his career turned out to be his four-month stay in Chicago in 2011. He didn’t waste his time here and played with many musicians like Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Zerang, Jason Adasciewicz, Tomeka Reid, Jim Baker, Frank Rosaly, a.o. This stay became a starting point for several long-lasting collaborations continuing some ten years now. Up till the very present as these three new – digital-only – releases by Veto Records make clear. Very remarkable, but maybe no wonder when one hears the chemistry between the musicians on these three releases.
The first example is Screw & Straw, a duo of Erb (tenor and soprano saxophones) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello, electronics). In 2011 they debuted with ‘Screw & Straw’ and performed together since joined by other musicians. They return with a duo effort recorded on May 6th, 2019, in Chicago. Listening, we witness seven bolded and dynamic improvisations. Erb makes good use of his techniques, and his multifaceted playing is a joy to listen to. ‘Straw and Water’ is a relatively quiet improvisation concentrating on sound, with hidden melodic elements in Erb’s playing. Lonberg provides outspoken sounds from his electrified cello. Near the end, Lonberg takes over the solo role by creating a very sharp and cutting sound on his cello. ‘Whatever happened to Baby Straw’ starts as a noisy and nervous interaction before movements become more subtle and unfold as a strong intertwined dialogue. Very expressive and experimental, which counts for this very communicative work in total. Although they equally participated in this meeting, Erb impressed me most, although Lonberg’s electronic treatments like in ‘What’s new screw’ are also very to the point.
‘Live at The Hungry Brain’ has Erb (tenor and soprano saxophones) in the company of Jim Baker (analogue synthesizer) and Steve Hunt (drums, objects). Baker and Erb met in different combinations over the years, and this is their first collaboration drummer Steve Hunt who is known for this work with NRG Ensemble as a third member. They make their point in one 35-minute swirling improvisation that starts with messy synths and percussion. Baker plays old or old-sounding synthesizers in an unconventional way. Together they keep things unpolished with explosive moments passing by. Restless and on a constantly intense level, they find their way. After about 20 minutes, we enter calm territories with intimate sax, primitive sounding synths and sparse percussion. A very engaging expedition and a joy to listen to Baker’s unique approach and sound of live electronic improvisation. They recorded their set on April 28th 2019, at the Hungry Brain, Chicago. The Urge trio is Tomeka Reid (cello), Keefe Jackson (sopranino, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet) and Christoph Erb (soprano and tenor saxophone). It may be Erb’s most constant unit with Chicago musicians, and he has already released two records with them. Both live recordings took place in the US. ‘Live in Toledo’(2013) and ‘Live at the Hungry Brain’, a set recorded in 2015 and released in 2017. Also, from 2017 dates, the trio's recording of this new release. It was recorded on February 18th at Masterskaya Anikushina, St. Petersburg, Russia, by Ilia Belorukov. The cd opens with an extended improvisation of about 24 minutes. This improvisation starts from fragile movements and continues in a very concentrated way. The interplay is modest and self-assured at the same time. Halfway we have a fascinating solo by Reid. The two following improvisations evolve along subtle and controlled lines. In contrast with the two other releases, the improvisations by The Urge Trio are more close to chamber music. The playing by Reid is exceptional, like in the opening of the third improvisation. All three releases offer some engaging and absorbing improvisations! (DM)
––– Address: https://veto-records.bandcamp.com/