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!
ORGANUM ELECTRONICS - FEARCENESS (CD by Siren Records) *
RODRIGO AMADO MOTION TRIO & ALEXANDER VON SCHLIPPENBACH - THE TRIP (CD by N Business Records) *
STUDIO DAN & ANTHONY COLEMAN - IM GEBIRG (CD by Studio Dan) *
MACRONYMPHA & MLEHST - MACROSONIC (CD by Input Error Records) *
MACROSONIC - LORDS OF SEX (CD by Input Error Records) *
STRUPPIG DROEHNEN! (CD compilation by Licht-ung/KulturStadtLev)
DREW WESELY - HYPERSURFACE (CD, private) *
NICK ROBINSON – LOST GARDEN (CD by Discus Music) *
BLIND MAN’S BAND - SIDE EFFECTS (CD by Nische Records) *
OUT INK - LESS (OR, DO YOU DISAPPROVE OF HOLOGRAMS? (CD by Ink Inc) *
GEINS'T NAÏT – GN (CD by Klanggalerie) *
ROBERT RENTAL - MENTAL DETENTIONS (CD by Klanggalerie) *
ASMUS TIETCHENS - PTOMAINE 1 (CD by Klanggalerie) *
ANDREW RAFFO DEWAR - EKPHRASIS SUITE (CD by Rastascan) *
UHUSHUHU - LONG SONGS PLEASANT FOR HEARING (2CD by Zhelezobeton) *
UHUSHUHU - GEOSCIENCE (2CD by Zhelezobeton) *
UHUSHUHU - ONEGA (2CD by Zhelezobeton) *
KRCFHL (2CD by KultfrontZhelezobeton) *
BONDI & D'INCISE & BLUTWURST - ZGODNOSC (CD by Insub Records) *
ALVEAR-BONDI - SIN TITULO #26/GROUND IN CIS (CD by Insub Records) *
CYRIL BONDI - CE QU'IL NOUS RESTERA (CD by Edition Wandelweiser Records) *
TARAB - ROOMS (CD by Ferns Recordings) *
MARC KELLAWAY - BODY OF WATER (CD by The Cat Box Corp) *
JARL - MISOPHONIA COLOURS (CD by Drone Records) *
ILLUSION OF SAFETY - NEW RULES, SAME GAME, LESS INSTRUCTION (CD by Drone Records) *
DAVID LIPTAK - BRIGHTENING AIR (CD on New Focus Recordings) *
SECTE (LP by Cheap Satanism Records)
DEMAIN SANS FAUTE - PANIER DE FRUITS (LP by Cheap Satanism Records)
MULO MUTO & BLACK/LAVA - WORLDS CORRDING UNDER XENOMORPHS EJACULATIONS (CD by Cheap Satanism Records) *
THOMAS ROHRER - TAMANGUR (LP by Domizil)
JEANS BEAST - DER BLAUE SALON (10" by Spalt-ung) *
NULA.CC - CICADAS/BELLS (7" by Staalplaat) *
NEW ATLANTA (CDR compilation by Econore)
DAVID WALLRAF - SUBSONGS (cassette by Econore) *
CHRIS DREIER & ANSGAR WILKEN - SELF TITLED (cassette by Econore) *
SW1N-HUNTER - TRUST (cassette by Tribe Tapes) *
MODELBAU - COPY (MiniDisc, private)
ORGANUM ELECTRONICS - FEARCENESS (CD by Siren Records)
By now, this is the fourth release by Oragnum Electronics. Can we call this an off-shoot to Organum, David Jackman's long-running project? Maybe he regards this as a wholly separate project? Hard to say, as always, Jackman's work is one clouded mystery. Until the day he opens up and 'explains' what his work is all about, if anything (of course), then we don't know. As Organum Electronics, Jackman returns to his earliest days as Oragnum, playing noise music. In the first few minutes of 'Fearceness', I believed to recognize some of the first LP, 'In Extremis', but now 'processed' through modular electronics. I am guessing here. When it comes to information, Organum never provides much information (well, none, to be honest, because, as always, Organum's covers contains four identical text blocks; I always think of Andy Warhol), so there is little to know about how he works these days (well, any days). Organum in noise modus doesn't mean Organum in a harsh noise setting. His music is loud, like a metallic rumble, stuck in an endless groove (no rhythm) of continuously processed sounds. Think of this music as if one is locked inside the motor of an aeroplane. Curiously enough, now and then, the music takes an abrupt twist and turn, as if Organum recorded all of this on an old reel-to-reel tape, splicing random events together. At fifty minutes, this is undoubtedly a lengthy Organum Electronics release, yet my advice is to play this loud and on repeat, and one is in for some thorough cleansing. (FdW)
––– Address: email@example.com
RODRIGO AMADO MOTION TRIO & ALEXANDER VON SCHLIPPENBACH - THE TRIP (CD by N Business Records)
In the free jazz world, Alexander von Schlippenbach has a legendary status. He is the founder of Globe Unity, which had had the crème de la crème of free impro as its members. This new release is a recording of a concert at Vilnius Jazz Festival in 2019 where he was a guest to play with Motion Trio, a trio formed by Rodrigo Amado (tenor saxophone) in 2009 along with Miguel Mira (cello) and Gabriel Ferrandini (drums). A classic jazz trio with cello instead of double bass but playing impro instead of cocktail jazz. This near hour-long improvisation starts with testing the waters, after which the quartet submerges into deep Baltic waters. With all the experience on stage, the quartet sounds super tight. At times whipping up a hurricane, but there’s a spotlight for Mira. Drummer Gabriel Ferrandini has a keen ear, sometimes adding subtle percussive tings and tangs at other times whipping up an accompanying storm for all the fireworks. All in all a rewarding listen for people who like adventurous music. Highly recommended! (MDS)
––– Address: http://www.nobusinessrecords.com
STUDIO DAN & ANTHONY COLEMAN - IM GEBIRG (CD by Studio Dan)
Studio Dan brings us this release filled with 45 minutes of music composed by and played with Anthony Coleman. He worked with John Zorn at the beginning of his career, with Marc Ribot, Elliot Sharp and Greg Cohen to name a few. Apart from his work focusing on his Jewish background, he composes on a commission basis as well. The music here has written parts and room for improvisation. The recording on this release is from a concert in Porgy & Bess, a club in Vienna. The most experimental piece is Orgelstück, featuring a harmonium played by Coleman and something that sounds like a Hammond organ begin mangled by a mad(wo)man. I won’t focus on each piece. Coleman succeeds in creating different timbres that are possible with this ensemble, essentially a big band with strings, surprising timbres and catchy phrases that come and go. Einundzwanzig begins with a few start-stop sequences in classic jazz trio format (drums, bass, piano) after which the whole ensemble joins in the fun. A searing tenor sax solo (blackjack ?) follows, and the ensemble finishes with a collective vamp. Overall a release that merits several spins to hear what’s going on. I bet this was a blast hearing this live at Porgy & Bess. (MDS)
––– Address: https://studiodan.at/shop/
MACRONYMPHA & MLEHST - MACROSONIC (CD by Input Error Records)
MACROSONIC - LORDS OF SEX (CD by Input Error Records)
The Macronympha & Mlehst CD has two tracks, 'Total Emotional Overload' and 'Body And Soul', both just over the thirty-minute marks, (examples here, https://input-error.bandcamp.com/album/macrosonic, as is the artwork of the cove) which saves me the task of description, though briefly percussive noise, crashes and rumbles, pitches, varied across the stereo field with occasional very brief quieter interludes. This could be processed percussion metal scraping stuff. From the Bandcamp page, “new CD reissue of this collaboration originally released on Labyrinth Recordings back in 1997. Two long-form tracks of Mlehst material remixed by Joe Roemer of Macronympha. A long missing piece”. The remix of Macrosonic is odd with a cut just under 0DB? Why, I have no idea, something for Joe Roemer to explain?
Macrosonic's CD (now the track becomes the artists' project name?) has three tracks, 'Imperium', 'World's Oldest Profession', and 'Lords Of Sex. An example here https://input-error.bandcamp.com/album/macrosonic-lords-of-sex wherein you will read “following on from the recent 'Macrosonic' CD reissue with a new album under the Macrosonic moniker (Confused? You should be!). Three tracks of harsh and spacious electronics, dense drones, and multi-tracked madness create a constantly evolving audio sensory overload. Utterly immense and inspiring by two sonic masters.” The first track has a similar cut in the edit, but not the other two? And it sounds fairly similar to the other release but with added reverb. World's Oldest Profession has a more uniform density and treble. All three lack the harsh glitch and metal scrape, in being not only more coherent but with the added reverb, more uniform and more like metal sci-fi soundscapes. So the evolution here is away from harsh nose. The move away from the violence of harsh metallics, never that harsh, into a more soundscape paradigm, which together with the track titles, and black and white Daliesque imagery somehow, for myself, is not pertinent? (Jliat)
––– Address: http://input-error.co.uk
STRUPPIG DROEHNEN! (CD compilation by Licht-ung/KulturStadtLev)
Within the triangle formed by Düsseldorf, Wuppertal, and Köln (Cologne) lies the town of Leverkusen, which houses the (non-profit) venue KAW. On December 3rd 2021, the KAW hosted an event organized by licht-ung where 5 acts presented some gorgeous drones. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at the event, but this CD contains prerecorded material and recordings from that particular evening. That’s why Modelbau can be found on the CD, even though he sadly missed the performance that December evening.
STRUPPIG DROEHNEN! opens with a couple of short tracks, of which Buck Moon is the first. Buck Moon is a collaboration between Julian Flemming and Julius Ménard, who did record together more often, but I hadn’t heard of them before. ‘Araw’ is a short but powerful guitar drone with a ritual or, better yet, an ethereal approach. A trilogy follows it by Marc Behrens: The spoken-word piece 'ECB', describing a dystopic evening for the European Central Bank, is cut into two parts, and in the middle, a ghostly piece ‘The Unfant Terrible’ is being performed. The origin of ghostliness is mainly (solely?) artificially synthesized vocals as sound sources. Hissing, rumbling, gargling, the artificialness adds to its creepiness …
Modelbau is next with ‘Absentia (Life From Home)’, 16 minutes of a more minimal approach to what a drone can be. The gong awakens my memory and brings me to the minimalism from Coil’s ‘How To Destroy Angels’, but instead of the sword fighting skeletons, we’re given a different soundpalet to enjoy. The result is impressive (the piece really opens a gateway to dreams after 5 or 6 minutes), and one can only think about that December evening IF he would have been there.
‘Semipermeabel’ by Denise Ritter is a piece based on an installation from 2020. Those who think they recognize her name but can’t place it: she is better known under the moniker ’Schachtanlage Gegenort’. Her piece is a wonderful electro-acoustic composition with manipulated sounds of doors, gates, ports etc. recorded in Coesfeld, Germany.
The 20 minute ’Halb, Zwei.Ein Wagen Voller Sterne’ by N (Hellmut Neidhardt) and licht-ung (Johannes Garbe) closes the CD and what a way to end. Guitar drone and violin loops create a massive space reminiscing of Gods of Drone like Troum and Dual. This is one of the tracks recorded live at the event, and it makes you wonder why you weren’t there. The sounds create a dark yet hopeful atmosphere - soon, we will have gatherings like these again in a post-Covid world. This makes missing out on this one a bit less sad because, well, we at least have this document from this one. (BW)
––– Address: https://licht-ung.bandcamp.com/
DREW WESELY - HYPERSURFACE (CD, private)
This Brooklyn-based trio of like-minded improvisers began making music in 2018. Drew Wesely on guitar, Lester St. Louis playing the cello and Carlo Costa on drums/percussion. All three are mainstays on the New York improvisation scene. On this record, the music is neither melody nor song-based. It's dense but spacious, quiet but forceful, all but one track, the longest one, in which there is a build-up towards a forte passage only to be followed by a quiet fade out. Well, actually, that's not true. A similar build-up can be heard in the first track. But in the longest one, this build-up lasts longer and has more gain. All three musicians are highly skilled in their instruments and have a keen ear to listen to each other. There's masterful musicianship to be heard here. As this is delicate music, headphones or a quiet listening environment are recommended for the most part. On the other hand, this is also a release to distinguish those with an open ear and mind. In 'Hard Gold to Love,' the guitar strings get mangled by a gizmo - something like a string trimmer. Each listening round reveals something new. Kudos to the mixing and mastering engineer, Nathaniel Morgan, as he maintained a spatious sound image with a subtle play in the stereo image. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more music by this excellent trio. (MDS)
––– Address: http://drewwesely.bandcamp.com
NICK ROBINSON – LOST GARDEN (CD by Discus Music)
Nick Robinson, you may know as a member of the Das Rad, a trio with Martin Archer and Steve Dinsdale as companions. Recently, he collaborated on another release by Discus Music, namely the one by Carla Diratz & The Archers of Sorrow. But these collaborations make just the tip of an iceberg. Robinson has a long career and worked with many different musicians and projects, ranging from Neil Ardley to Comsat Angels. In the 80s, he had his own band Dig Vis Drill. With Andy Peake (ex-Comsat Angels), Robinson produced dark ambient under the moniker of Lost Garden. Over the years, he moved from rock and pop towards more experimental territories and concentrated on looping procedures. Nowadays, he has his Bandcamp site to find more of his recent work. Besides, he is an origami artist and former president of the British Origami Society with dozens of books on this subject in his name. But let’s turn to ‘Lost Garden’, his second solo effort. The album is titled after his duo with Peake, suggesting some sort of musical continuity. With guitars and electronics, Robinson creates sound works often using contrasting elements. For example, the opening track, ‘Hushful Point’ starts with building a pastoral atmosphere before changing into a very dynamic and noisy episode using a lot of distortion. Overall, Robinson essentially plays simple riffs and patterns added with multi-layered experimental textures. ‘Lebensfaltung’ unfolds like a dark drone piece. ‘Trip-o-phonix’ is a strange ambient-like experimental continuum. ‘Toccata Apologetica’ is an exception and seems inspired by Bach. ‘Bunting Nook’ - the longest track from the album - is a journey through very different moods and atmospheres. On the one hand, there are friendly and melodic parts, and on the other hand, dark and experimental ones. In general, the music is chaotic and open, meandering in many directions and interested mainly in evoking certain atmospheres. Sometimes it is unclear where his sonic excursions are heading, but they are never boring. (DM)
––– Address: https://discusmusic.bandcamp.com/
BLIND MAN’S BAND - SIDE EFFECTS (CD by Nische Records)
It is very easy and very stupid to say that the duo behind Blind Man's Band (what's in a name) couldn't find the keys and strings right and just did something. But that's how their eleven tracks sound more than once. And type in the band name and title of their new album, and what you get are links about psychedelic drugs - all in all, a nice impression from the start. But even though Christian Rønn's (1969) piano playing sounds very chaotic and directionless at first hearing, this composer, producer, performer (and pianist) knows damn well what he's doing. Here he plays acoustic piano only, with Claus Poulsen on electric bass and dictaphone, but previously Rønn has made electronic music, industrial rock, ambient drones and film scores, and has collaborated with Ikue Mori, Rhys Chatham, Jørgen Teller and Peter Schneideman, among others. In short, a busy type, chock full of energy - and he shows that on Side Effects. He is shifting between easy listening r&b / lounge and heavy improvised jazz at home in all markets during his musical career, but who is Christian Rønn? It doesn't really matter, and this versatile musician shows on this album with his maximum playing how a jazzy piano/bass combination can sound wild, exciting and with structure. (AvS)
––– Address: http://christianronn.dk
OUT INK - LESS (OR, DO YOU DISAPPROVE OF HOLOGRAMS? (CD by Ink Inc)
The first album from Sheffield-based Out Ink was reviewed in Vital Weekly in 2018, but it wasn't as glowing as the band had expected. Fair enough, they later let Vital Weekly know, and the critical consideration was nevertheless highly valued by them. In the meantime, under the inspiring leadership of Jonathan Willmer, the quintet has just kept going, and they have now released the album Less. They have stuck with their own form of jazzy art-rock, which is a good thing, because the result is beautiful, compelling and very exciting. Solid pounding riffs on guitar, a full, organic and somewhat dissonant sound, a great rhythm section, passionately vibrating saxophone, and sparse, nerdy vocals. A crossover between Frank Zappa and Soft Machine, with influences from post-punk and new wave - something like that. There are some outliers, but on average, a track on this album lasts about ten minutes, which is nice enough time for exciting developments. The band plays very tight but includes moments for reflection and contemplation, only to get back to work with the blunt axe and singing chainsaw shortly afterwards. All in all, Less is really much more, and we can be happy that they have always continued with their artistic form of rock. (AvS)
––– Address: http://outink.bandcamp.com/album/less-or-do-you-disapprove-of-holograms
GEINS'T NAÏT – GN (CD by Klanggalerie)
ROBERT RENTAL - MENTAL DETENTIONS (CD by Klanggalerie)
ASMUS TIETCHENS - PTOMAINE 1 (CD by Klanggalerie)
As mentioned last week, Klanggalerie has many re-issues, and here we have three examples. One is from a record I know pretty well, one I know to some extent, but I'd like to begin with the unknown quantity in this bunch. Geins't Naït is a group from France, which consisted of Laurent Petitgand, Thierry Mérigout, Vincent Hachet, although the latter seems no longer to be a part of it. Their first record is from 1986, and they still release music to this very day. It was a record that the shop I volunteered at also carried, but for some reason, nothing stuck to memory, not even if I heard the record back then. Odd. So, the re-issue of their debut album is something of a debut for me as well. I noticed that the music is very well produced; this is not some low budget recording from the mid-80s. What is typical of the time is the industrial music setting, even when it opens up with a brief rock passage, the music diversifies in spacious rhythm boxes passages, heavy rock passages, obscured drone sounds (locked in the dishwasher again, as a label boss called it at the time) and Esplendor Geometrico inspired industrialism. I would think the music is a heavily varied bunch, connected by darkness, another typical hallmark of the 80s. Both sides of the original are kept as one piece on the CD and should be regarded as one long piece in various parts. Recently I listened to a lot of old works by Controlled Bleeding and noted the massive variety of styles they used; it's too early, of course, to say that Geins't Naït follows a similar path of variety (I really should hear more first, I know), but going from a fast punk rock style to obscured drones and electronic rhythms, indeed says quite a bit. Especially on '1234567' (the original A-side), there is quite a bit of that; '12' on the other, it is less. No doubt, these numbers indicate the number of sections inside the track. Seeing Klanggalerie loyalty to the artists they release, I am sure there will be more to enjoy there.
I never had much money to buy LPs as a young man, so I mostly got 7"s. Early on, I realized that many labels had just started so that you could collect all their releases. I failed immediately, not finding the earliest Factory Records releases (2 years too late) or Mute Records releases. I got a 7" that I still have and cherish, 'Double Heart' by Robert Rental, one of the best electronic ballads ever; if it's a ballad, of course. I learned back then that he had an LP with Thomas Leer on Industrial Records (another label I failed to collect) and a one-sided LP with The Normal. I think I had the first (I have now, but since when?), and the second took me ages to find. Even when the 7" and LP stayed in rotation for years to come, I never thought much about Robert Rental, whether or not he had more releases, until in 2008, 'Mental Detentions' popped up in Blog-o-land as a very lo-fi MP3. I was pleasantly surprised to learn there was more music from him as well as the experimental nature of this release. There has been an LP with assorted Rental tracks from his poppier end, but much to my surprise, a proper re-issue of 'Mental Dententions' took a lot more time. Originally this came out in 1979 as a limited cassette, which on the cover said "a series of demos recorded at home in 1979 feat Thomas Leer on a couple of trax". Rental's music here also is far removed from the world of pop music, or ballads, and closer to the likes of Throbbing Gristle or Chris Carter's solo work. Each of the eight pieces (save, perhaps, for the final piece, the short 'Untitled', which is more an unfinished loop/sketch/idea) is a dense cloud of electronics, buzzing and (re-) charging, in which radio plays a role, found sound (or not?), such as in 'Vox Scientific. Rental's music here is even more experimental than his LP with Thomas Leer, but sharing that early industrial ambient rust with some of that LP's more extended pieces. Rental sadly passed away in 2000, so his discography remains forever tiny.
And then Asmus Tietchens, who, so I assume, is among the musicians most reviewed in these pages. The man is now at an advanced age, has a lengthy discography, and quite a bit of his older works are sold out. Klanggalerie already re-issued various of his works; now it's time for the first part of 'Ptomaine'. Originally this was a 3LP set by RRRecords, in which Tietchens uses one sound source, 'RRR100', a 7" with 100 lock grooves. I remember the invitation and the excitement to have your music, even when it was only 1,3 (or so!) seconds, on vinyl, and, more importantly, one could use the grooves as source material. Of course, I never did, well, I am not sure anymore, and I had some trouble figuring out where the hell my two loops were. I also remembered the 'Ptomaine' release and was quite annoyed by it. Tietchens processes 48 (I think) grooves, and each piece ends in a new groove; maybe my love for lock grooves ended there? There are no lock grooves on this CD, thank god, but each track is about a two-and-a-half-minute long, and there are twenty-two tracks on this CD. The OCD minded person said, 'why not the complete thing', but this is surely not easy listening to music. Much, if not all, deals with repetition and Tietchens applying his studio trickery to the music. All of this is from the mid-90s, so it's not yet the Tietchens of carefully quite sound constructions from post-2000 and also not the quiet long spun works from, say, 'Eisgang' or 'Dämmerattacke' (both also re-issued by Klanggalerie - see Vital Weekly 1227), but Tietchens appears in a more industrial setting, of course, the repetition helps here. Don't think of each track as a single repeating loop but small collages of repeating elements, with odd starts and stops. An hour-long and a great release, if also somewhat tiring. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.klanggalerie.com/
ANDREW RAFFO DEWAR - EKPHRASIS SUITE (CD by Rastascan)
The line-up of this CD lets you expect a jazz release, but this is in fact contemporary chamber classical music. In a way something very much on the outer limits what could be discussed on these pages. Adrew Dewar is an Argentine-born composer, improviser, woodwind instrumentalist and ethnomusicologist who today lives and works in the U.S.A. He has had a number of releases since 2008, one of them in 2014 with the same quartet and on the same label, Rastascan.
A ctually, the musicians might be more interesting, and expectancy-raising, than the release itself. Dewar composed the suite and plays saxophone, duetting with Kyle Bruckmann on oboe and English Horn, John Shiurba adds guitar, and Gino Robair percussion. All of them, bar Dewar himself (at least as far as I can tell from public information), have a long history in experimental and electronic music, including collaborations with Antony Braxton, Eddie Prevost, Eugene Chadbourne, John Zorn, but also Nina Hagen and Tom Waits (Robair), Otomo Yoshihide (Robair and Bruckmann), G.W.Sok and Rova Orkestrova (Shiurba). All of this giving rise to expectations of free improv, electronics, and experimentation.
The Suite, though, is made up of 4 pieces, between 10 and 16+ minutes, all seemingly inspired by or expressed as drawings contributed by artist Pete Schulte. The style is modern chamber music, the titles describe the compositional process of the pieces rather than giving an arbitrary name, or 'untitled' or whatever. Kudos to the composer for this transparency, but on the other hand it keeps you analysing the music from a compositorial aspect and not in a mood of immersed listening - at least that is what happened to me. Does a film get better by explaining how it was made (e.g. director's comment audio track)? - mostly not.
The quartet intrinsically suffers from the very different character of the instruments, the wind instruments being able to create extended sounds, whereas both percussion and guitar can only drop single notes. Whether or not this was intentional, I cannot discern. The music is clearly rooted in contemporary classics with no references given to any jazz or experimental connotation. I was not always able to follow the title descriptions, though, the 'IV: Melodic lines traverse a checkered harmonic field of sound and silence' simply lacked the 'silence' bit, as the piece is filled with wind instrument lines. 'I: Four melodic lines staggered in time with their mirrored opposites' is too abstract a title to be able to make out where the mirrored lines are, as the wind instruments closely follow each other. As you might have picked up by now, the release did not really impress me. It provides few musical properties or insights that would have blown me away. (RSW)
––– Address: https://freemovementarts.bandcamp.com/
UHUSHUHU - LONG SONGS PLEASANT FOR HEARING (2CD by Zhelezobeton)
UHUSHUHU - GEOSCIENCE (2CD by Zhelezobeton)
UHUSHUHU - ONEGA (2CD by Zhelezobeton)
KRCFHL (2CD by KultfrontZhelezobeton)
There is no lack of confidence on behalf of Zhelezobeton when it comes to re-issuing Pavel Dombrovsky's musical project Uhushuhu's first three albums. Each of the original discs comes now with an additional disc of bonus material; the whole set is about five hours of music. Two of the original discs, 'Long Songs Pleasant For Hearing' and 'Geoscience', were reviewed before (Vital Weekly 933 and 987). The title 'Long Songs Pleasant For Hearing' covers the work of Uhushuhu pretty well. The shortest song (to use their terminology) is nine minutes, the longest forty-one. I thought there could be two approaches; review one a day or dive deep and listen to them. The latter it was, risking that I would say something like 'the material is quite similar'. That it is but is that a problem? We are speaking of three albums released in the period of maybe eighteen months, so it is detailing a small amount of progress in a short time. In a typical piece of music, Uhushuhu uses a few big fat drones, lots and lots of field recordings and a wealth of sound effects. It might very well be that the big fat drones are the result of processing the very same field recordings, but along with those, there are many field recordings unprocessed. Much of this can be found in the countryside, birds whistling, leaves rustling and a small creek. I had this notion of Uhushuhu sitting in a small shed in the Russian country, his dacha, microphones sticking out on all sides, picking up the rustic scenery. All sounds are going into machines inside, rusty old synthesizers and real-time processing equipment from the digital world. Uhushuhu lets all the sounds run simultaneously and tweaks and adjusts when necessary. The music shapes itself following real-life events from the outside world. But mind you, this is just how I see how this was made; I am sure I am wrong. Uhushuhu is from St. Petersburg, so birds and rustic creeks might not be part of his daily surrounding. Sometimes there are 'other' sounds, usually from detuned radio stations, such as in 'Empty Nests'; maybe that's former Soviet Choir singing? At other times Uhushuhu adds bell-like sounds to the music, which gives the music a slightly more ritualistic touch. Or perhaps I should say that all the music here is part of some rituals? Slipping into imagination again, much of this music seems to be part of church ritual; or some occult gathering? I am of neither faith, so what do I know? But I can see this all as suitable material for such things. Yes, it sounds the same, with the devil being in the details. Only 'Нега-О (Nega-O) (Creation VI remix)', seemed to leap out as a more noisy outing, but maybe Uhushuhu had nothing to do with that at all? The title track of 'Onega' is Uhushuhu at his darkest hour - it is also the most extended piece. I listened, took a nap while the music continued, read a book (well, partially) and cooked while this music played, and in every circumstance, it worked very well. All-purpose music!
Also on the same label, and in cooperation with Kultfront, is a double CD by KRCFHL. This only existed on September 28th, 2005, as one-off recordings by musicians who we otherwise know as Kryptogen Rundfunk, Cisfinitum and Hladna. In the studio of Evgeniy Voronovskiy, they prepared for a concert and recorded two pieces of music. These are on the first disc, while the second disc has remixes by Notum, bezvlastje, Svetlo111 and Symphocat; these are bands from the Kultfront label. Following hours of drone-based music, this is a most welcome something different. The musicians use drum machines, synthesizers, sound effects and (so I am told) an electric violin. These pieces follow a similar trajectory; starting controlled, ending chaotic. One player starts with, say, a few drones, a sequenced and repeating synth, and then others add something to the dish; from there on, they explore where they are, keep adding sound effects, but inevitably there is some chaos. I enjoy that sense of free spirit; it shows no training or experience when it comes to improving with electronics, but the results are pretty vibrant. The remixes are simply extensions of the originals; you hear elements return, such as the rhythm machine, the Korg MS20 (I believe), but with a level of organisation. They cut their loops and play with them against drones and rhythms. Essentially, they sound like it could have been from one musician and not four; none of them takes the material into a different field; no great techno piece. It's okay, but the remixes didn't add anything new for me. (FdW)
––– Address: https://zhelezobeton.bandcamp.com/
BONDI & D'INCISE & BLUTWURST - ZGODNOSC (CD by Insub Records)
ALVEAR-BONDI - SIN TITULO #26/GROUND IN CIS (CD by Insub Records)
CYRIL BONDI - CE QU'IL NOUS RESTERA (CD by Editin Wandelweiser Records)
Three times Cyril Bondi, and three different approaches. The first release is a composition by Bondi and D'incis, performed by the Blutwurst Ensemble. This ensemble uses trumpet, bass clarinet, accordion, harmonium, viola, cello and double bass. The piece is described as for "background tape & ensemble score". As I said in the past of modern classical music, and no doubt I will repeat in the future, I'd love to see the score of such pieces. What does it say? What are the instructions, and which choices can be made? Google translate tells me the title means 'Compatibility' and is from Polish. That easily conjures more questions here, but let's leave that for now. The work has two sections, both around twenty-one minutes. In the opening section of the first half, the ensemble plays short notes on the instruments with a slow percussive feel. I am not sure if they play the percussive bits or can be found on tape; it might very well be the latter. Slowly this moves into an area of longer, sustaining sounds, played majestically. The pacing between the notes seems to be shifting, which adds an exciting instability to this half. The second half is denser in approach, with the instruments closer yet with a similar majestic slowness to the music. The slowness of the music has undoubtedly a sorrowful tune to it, like a death march, even if I have no idea if that is the idea. I very much enjoyed the spooky opening section and the whole second part; both, as far as I am concerned, scary yet lovely music.
The Alvear-Bondi CD is the second in a trilogy in which they commission three pieces from composers from Switzerland and three from Chilean composers; of course, to be performed by Cristian Alvear (electric guitar on both pieces) and Cyril Bondi (bowls and pitch pipes on the first and harmonium on the second). The first music piece is a composition by Nicolas Carrasco, and the second is by Anna-Kaisa Meklin; she plays the viola da Gamba. Like the previous (Vital Weekly 1305), there is only one piece on the CD, with a reak around thirty minutes. Again, I am not sure how the recordings happened, but I think each player recorded in their studio/home, and Alvear mixed the music of both players. Carrasco's composition is a most curious one, and, again, I wonder about the instructions here. If the idea was to have two players playing according to some visual score, not knowing what the other would do, then this is undoubtedly a piece that worked very well. It is all ver John Cage, and no matter how brilliant the man's ideas were, I like a piece of music and not random events. Meklin's composition is the piece that is for me. Maybe this too has its origins along the lines of randomness, but via the sustaining tones of harmonium and, to a lesser extent, the viola da gamba, this is a beautiful meandering piece of music. After about ten minutes of quietness, everything is brought up a notch, and the viola plays a melodic tune, which is pretty upfront present. The guitar, more audible present in the first part, seems to be lost in this final section.
The final piece is a solo composition by Cyril Bondi, and the title translates as "what will be left of us" and "questions the life course of an artist; its starting point, daily routines and essence. The intimate soundscapes of six artists converge, converse, accompany and answer each other. The sounds made during warm-ups, rituals, rehearsals, the sounds that are withheld, concealed or hidden, the sounds that are never shown in public, shape and follow the lives of each artist. What will be left of our lives as artists may be these traces of sounds left along the way." In this composition, Bondi is the musician, along with Luc Müller, while Rachel Gordy and David Marchetto get credit as "actor" and Margaux Monetti and Sarah Waelchli as dancers. I am not sure what I hear, to be honest. It sounds like a performance, recorded with a microphone, fresh from the stage it was just performed on. The credits indicate something differently, recordings taking about one-month last year. All sorts of acoustic sounds are used; I heard a bicycle pump, footsteps (dancers!), voices, leaving through papers and other, more obscured sources. The text, partly in French and in German, eluded me, as it was whispered most of the time or in a language, I didn't fully master just yet. I am not sure what I make of this just yet. I must admit, there is a lot about this I that I may not understand and probably never will, but there is also something captivating about this. I feel like a spectator to something I don't understand, just like life itself. (FdW)
––– Address: https://insub.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://www.wandelweiser.de/
TARAB - ROOMS (CD by Ferns Recordings)
A long quote is a lazy form of reviewing, but sometimes I read something about the background of a release, whc=ich I find very hard to summarize. For instance, about Eamon Sprod's musical project Tarab's new CD 'Rooms', "Shaped from various recordings of installations and spatial works presented over 2019-21 ... however ROOMS is not intended to act as a straight document of these installations. Rather, it explores some of the ideas and methods which emerged from the process, within the space formed by a pair of stereo speakers situated in yet another room. [...] Recorded audio material is explored as a shifting series of perceivable surfaces, textures and depths; traces of places and actions; points in space; vibration of speaker cone and microphone diaphragm; resonant objects acting as small sounding containers within larger containers; movements of air; a constantly shifting set of perspectives; the traces that are left behind; debris gathered up and pawed over. The recorded sound is gathered and understood as partial, fragmentary, incomplete". That sums it up much better than I could do. It is possibly also something I could never think if I had heard this music and didn't read it or the liner notes. Perhaps this music would remain an abstraction notion, a collection of field recordings dealing with spaces, as that much is clear from the pieces. The exploration of sound events within a space, many of them mixed. Amplification of almost inaudible events (what Tarab calls "empty yet highly active rooms") set against the creaking of a chair, footsteps on a wooden floor, but also playing back of white noise back in corners and picking up their reflection in another corner. All of this arrives in a collated version, events stuck on top of each other, with the occasional loud crash keeping you at the tip of your chair. There are eight pieces here, eight rooms if you will, and just as easily, I think, Tarab could divide the CD is 50 pieces or just one as sound events seem to make their return in various pieces throughout this CD. Think of this as a large empty house with many rooms and a lot of debris. You wander through the rubble and dirt and create sounds; until you realize that far away, in different rooms, other people are doing the same. Not in a scary way, for once, but as in a symphony for an empty house. (FdW)
––– Address: https://fernsrecordings.bandcamp.com/
MARC KELLAWAY - BODY OF WATER (CD by The Cat Box Corp)
Moving on from his former guise as Exquisite Russian Brides, Mark Kellaway from Denmark delivers another solo under his real (?) name, following 'Late Summer Sequence' (Vital Weekly 1237). This time the whole pandemic is another conceptual source of inspiration; we're going to miss that thing. The pandemic saw the closing of public areas, such as swimming pools, so Kellaway and his boyfriend took pictures of closed pools with reflecting light through windows, which also meant tranquil places. It is a peaceful world that doesn't exist, and one thing leads to another, and 'Body Of water' is not the soundtrack to the photos but sits next to them. Just as with his previous album Kellaway dips deep into the waters (pun intended) of ambient music. The relationship between water and ambient goes back to the chill-out spaces, John C. Lily's ambient for Silent Records, Michel Redolfi and flotation tanks. Kellaway's music is on par with that and seems to be lifted from the 90s and transported into the future, towards 2020-21. Spacious lengthy synthesizer stretches, lush pads, I think one should describe these, topped with a dash of rhythm, such as 'Silver Slow'. Not the kind of rhythm aimed at the dance floor, but instead head nod/foot tap sort of thing. I walked out on this CD for a few minutes, and when I returned, the track 'Departure' (oddly enough, not the final piece) was playing. I thought someone switched Kellaway for an outtake of Jean-Michel Jarre's 'Oxygen' or 'Equinoxe', with a similar drum machine and gurgling water sounds. There are various guest performances here, by Tanja Vesterbye Jessen on slide guitar, Marc Levin on flute and Marie Aarup Jensen. Only the latter makes an obvious contribution. Not a surprising new release, but nevertheless a great album, so sayeth the sucker for all things 90s ambient house. Kellaway's album veers towards the straighter ambient and the more rhythmically inclined version. Just the way I like it. (FdW)
––– Address: https://thecatboxcorp.bandcamp.com/
JARL - MISOPHONIA COLOURS (CD by Drone Records)
ILLUSION OF SAFETY - NEW RULES, SAME GAME, LESS INSTRUCTION (CD by Drone Records)
Now that releasing vinyl gets more and more out of reach from the independent music industry, production costs are going up, and Adele and Abba are at the front of the queue when it comes to delivering the product, we will see a return to the CD format. Hurrah and praise be. Drone Records, famous for the 100 7" releases and a series of compilation LPs, return to the CD format with two new releases. I resisted playing Illusion Of Safety first and started with catalogue number SYM 01, the exactly one-hour long 'Misophonia Colours' by (Erik) Jarl. Of course, you know from your local pub quiz that "Misophonia is a disorder of decreased tolerance to specific sounds or their associated stimuli". Such sounds can be eating, chewing, breathing, finger tapping etc. How Jarl relates it to 'colours' is something that eludes me. Jarl is a busy man when it comes to releasing music, but the quality is consistently high. I believe Jarl is a composer using modular electronics, but I am not entirely sure if that is the case. Even when there is one long piece here, there is no static approach here. Jarl erects a giant wall of sound, psychedelic sound almost, which sucks the listener right in, and from then on, you are in the engine room of a spaceship. Ringing, buzzing, metallic drones, monotonous and yet, ever-changing. Jarl is always in control and never lets the music slip out or shoot away; he takes command when necessary. His music is one massive constellation in which one can endlessly wander around. You could say this is industrial music, but just as well, one could say this owes to the world of modern electronics, except that Jarl opts for a very long form. I can imagine Jarl doing an audio-only DVD and having one piece going for four hours.
Illusion Of Safety has been on my radar since the late 80s, when I first discovered their music on cassettes, and ever since, I am a fan that collects it all. Playing their old releases comes in waves, and one such wave was recently when Daniel Burke, the leading man behind Illusion Of Safety (once a band, but since many years a solo project), wrote to me saying 'Of & The' was now in an improved on his Bandcamp page. I bought that one and grabbed some others for free, making another fine old and new Illusion Of Safety Sunday. These days releases are sparse, for reasons I am not sure of; maybe Burke isn't as active when it comes to recording, or perhaps doesn't actively seek labels to release his work. This new CD is announced as "a follow up to the 1995 3” CD release of 'Rules Of The Game', alluding to the social, political, and psychological games humans engage in for validation, survival, or dominance. New Rules, same game, less instruction, harsher penalty". Burke uses modular electronics (Serge & Eurorack), Roland Jupiter 6 synthesizers, field recordings, Ableton, and samples for the music. I also thought I heard a guitar in the opening track 'Uneven Playing Field', and bass in 'Ignorance Is Bliss', but I might be wrong. It is, of course, not that important. Electronics seem to be playing the most crucial role here. In good Illusion Of Safety tradition, a mixture of musique concrète, modern electronics, ambient, and an unsettling feeling lingers throughout these pieces. There is beauty and pain in this music. The volume can drop dramatically and slowly, coming from way below, picking up again and being full-on present again. Some of the start/stop shock and horror approaches for montage techniques are not present this time. Throughout, the music is delicate, intense, and simply excellent. I am a fanboy, am I? Maybe I am not the right person for a review of this. But trust me: this is great! (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.dronerecords.de/
DAVID LIPTAK - BRIGHTENING AIR (CD on New Focus Recordings)
David Liptak is a USAmerican composer and teacher, faculty member of the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, NY. As always, the question arises whether a teacher of composition can actually compose. At least something that is listenable.
The answer here is 'yes, but. Liptak's music is decidedly orchestral. This CD compiles a number of his wind instrument work. The Eastman Wind Ensemble that performs here is renowned for its quality and performances, and it craftily supplies the necessary pressure and orchestral quality to Liptak's work. As with many USAmerican composers, the music is somewhat un-modern. That is to say, it owes little to the last 70 years of contemporary classical music and is more rooted in the later parts of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. Luckily, the slightly film-score attributes of much of the early 20th century USAmerican composers are largely (see below) lacking here. And due to the concentration on wind instruments, it is hard to link to composers of maybe similar approaches such as Tippett. It is more Elgar that comes to mind or Shostakovich in the more symphonic passages. Not exactly, as Liptak's work has a very own character, but it gives you an idea of the mood of his music.
The recordings start with 'Folgore's Month', apparently an adaptation of sonnets of 14th-century Italian poet Folgore da San Gimignano in four movements depicting four months of the year. As always, it remains the composers secret why these are relevant today. They are performed by soprano singer Tony Arnold, whom Liptak has worked before. Although the soprano would not normally persist against the might of the wind ensemble (mind, this is not a chamber quartet, but a full orchestra), and the opening of the first movement is a full-blast orchestra, the music can give the voice the space it needs. Moreover, the voice, being a wind instrument in itself, does blend surprisingly well with the score.
The following pieces, 'Soundings' and the title track 'Through the brightening air' explore the sound possibilities of the wind ensemble to the full, never boring and using the wind instruments and accompanying percussion to best result. They are followed by the 4-movement 'Octet', which reduces the ensemble to chamber size. This results in more emphasis on the single instruments and the sound qualities now replacing the orchestral (super-)power. The four movements make good use of different moods and sound colours.
The final take, 'The sacred harp,' finally does fall into the pit of film score music. Why is the harp 'sacred', and why do we speak of a 'harp' when this is a wind ensemble. Puzzles. The music unnecessarily drives towards the apocalyptic scenes of an apocalypse movie, proving my point above. This release would have been better off without this last track. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/
SECTE (LP by Cheap Satanism Records)
DEMAIN SANS FAUTE - PANIER DE FRUITS (LP by Cheap Satanism Records)
MULO MUTO & BLACK/LAVA - WORLDS CORRDING UNDER XENOMORPHS EJACULATIONS (CD by Cheap Satanism Records)
Releases from Belgiums Cheap Satanism Records have been reviewed before, and on one occasion (Vital Weekly 822), I wrote: "Much of what Cheap Satanism releases is perhaps not really for Vital Weekly". The last time I heard releases from them was in Vital Weekly 943. Maybe they got my drift that Vital Weekly might not be the right place to promote it, though great their music is. Maye, they forgot? Secte is a duo of guitarist Gregory Duby (KBranding, Jesus Is My Son, Solah) and drummer David.C (Vitas Guerulaitis, Tat2Noisact). They started in 2018. According to the information, they are part of the noise scene in Brussels, but maybe there is a different definition of noise at work here. Or, perhaps they threw away their noise jackets to play instrumental music that owes to the world of surf music, drone rock and post-rock. The label mentions Dacik Dale, Munir Bashir, The Doors, 75 Dollar Bill and Popol Vuh, of which I think, with my limited knowledge, mind you, only hear the slide guitar of Dick Dale. While not really the kind of music for me, I enjoyed it, it's not bad, far from it, but it seems to be far away for the musical field we're in. I'd see them play live in they came to town.
From France hails Demain Sans Faute, the musical brainchild from Aurélien. He's also a member of Marilyn Rambo and Chafouin. This particular project is announced as "one of his most experimental projects". I don't know his other music, but I can't vouch for that. The music on this LP is a bit of an odd bunch; there is guitar strumming and a sad voice in the opening piece, which made me fear the worst, but actually, it's the only time it happens. The rest of the album sees a variety of interests, from rampant drum machines to feedback explorations (without tapping too much in the world of noise music), galloping techno with broken synth sounds and folk music. I tried to figure out which track is what, but it might very well be that many of the songs don't have a title except for the two parts of 'Smoke On The Water', which I didn't recognize as being a cover, clouded by/with guitar feedback. Sure, I would say the music is experimental. Yet it is also varied, so it isn't easy to figure out what Demain Sans Faute wants with this music. Unless, of course, the idea is to confuse the listener. But, much like Secte, I enjoyed this quite a bit. I even may understand a bit where it all comes from, and indeed something that fits these pages; a first for Cheap Satanism Records? Maybe. But I must also say that I am one of those confused listeners, thinking, 'what the hell was that all about. Pleasantly surprised, I guess is what they say.
At this point, you might not be surprised that I have no idea who Black/Lava are from Italy. I came across Mulo Moto from Switzerland before (Vital Weekly 1217). Attila Folkor (synths, breathing, feedback) and Joel Gilardini (baritone guitars, synths, dronin) are a duo. Black/Lava is also a duo, Enkil on (d)ronin, synths, objects, and Fabio Olivero on machines, field recordings, percussions, vocals & laments, to quote the cover. This album is heavyweight darkness; massive synth sounds, a voice beyond the grave reciting rather than singing, an overload on guitars and drums. Again, I am not sure what to think. Yes, it could partly be for these pages, but perhaps not. It seems partly to be owing to the world of heavy electronic/rock/gothic, and the music structures owe to the world of popular music. While I enjoy my darkness when it comes to drones and tones, I have a mild aversion when the spoken word is applied to it. Perhaps I should state that this is not my thing, however suitable it sounds and move on. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.cheapsatanism.com/
THOMAS ROHRER - TAMANGUR (LP by Domizil)
Here we have an LP that connects Switzerland and Brazil. Odd? Perhaps. Until you know that composer Thomas Rohrer lived half his life in both countries. Rohrer uses field recordings from both countries here, and while they are very different countries, he can bring them together. The question is, of course, can we hear that? I have not been to Brazil and only a couple of times in Switzerland. Is that a problem? I think about a lot when discussing works that rely heavily on field recordings, certainly when they are from places I have not been to. Rohren made his recordings in the alpine area (isn't that the whole of Switzerland?) and among the Timbira Gê people in northeastern Brazil. It's not a work of just field recordings; Rohrer also uses the Rabeca, a Brazilian fiddle and a bowed fence. The insert shows some details for us in text and images, yet that remains a little too abstract for me. It seems that I can only approach releases such as this with some distance. I have to take the music 'as is', for as an outsider to the area and the methodology used to create the pieces here, I can only sit back and listen. I hear the familiar sounds of cowbells, the obscured bowing of a fence and the distant voices from another hemisphere. I don't have the same relationship with the composer, so it remains alien to me. Why do I hear people from Brazil speak after listening to some cowbells from the Swiss alps? The best is not to think about such questions but enjoy what is on offer. I liked the record best when the abstraction is taken a bit further down the line, and none of the sounds explicitly referenced anything in the real world, such as in 'Cerca' (well, okay, it has bird sounds as well). That sort of thing added a fine counterbalance to the more travelogue recordings of some of the other pieces. Altogether it made for a fine cross-continental trip. (FdW)
––– Address: https://domizilrecords.bandcamp.com/
JEANS BEAST - DER BLAUE SALON (10" by Spalt-ung)
These days, Licht-ung releases (rather their subdivision Spalt-ung) quite a lot of heavily limited lathe cut records, such as the eleven copies of Jeans Beast, also known as Julian Flemming, running the Econore label. It is a small world. I only heard a few of his releases. Much to my surprise, I see he did quite a few releases so far. I have some confusion over the dates here. On Bandcamp it says that it was recorded 24/2021 in Beine-Nauroy, and released 24/2017 as a cassette by Econore (also in an edition of eleven copies, according to Discogs). The cover says 'recorded Dec 23/2012', so I gather that to be correct. The record is brief, side A is just over nine minutes, and the B-side is seven-and-a-half. But it covers some incredible beauty. I would think that Jeans Beast has a small organ to produce some delightful dark drones. Dark, but at the same time, there is also something wonderfully light about this music. Maybe this has to do with how the music was committed to tape. I'd like to think this is captured in a room with a pair of microphones rather than via lines straight into a device. There is a fair distance within the music, yet there is a good presence in the low-end on the eardrum. I love it! I wished these two pieces would be at least their length. (FdW)
––– Address: https://licht-ung.bandcamp.com/
NULA.CC - CICADAS/BELLS (7" by Staalplaat)
Perhaps the name Lloyd Dunn means not much anymore these days, but he's responsible for one of my favourite releases of plunderphonics; 'Music With Sound' by The Tape-beatles, of which he was one of the principle members. Later on he had a musical project along similar lines, Public Works, and after moving to Europe it is Nula.cc. I am sure he'a active with a lot of other things and his music is mainly to be found in the digital domain. I reviewed a CDR from him in Vital Weekly 756. I re-read that review after I heard the 7" for the first time and, perhaps not so oddly, I mentioned back then Steve Reich's 'Come Out', as being the influence of the pieces. I had exactly the same thought with this 7"; perhaps not as strong with 'Cicadas' but most certainly with 'Bells'. 'Cicadas' uses the animals of that name at Lake Lisi, "on a rise overlooking the Saburtalo district of Tblisi, Georgia". I have/had no idea what I hear, besides the cicadas. I can imagine Dunn applied some studio trickey to the recordings, phase shifting in good Reichian tradition, or that we are in fact hearing just nine minutes of cicada sounds? I have no idea. There is vast amount of these and it sounds quite hallucinating after a while. Nice, but the real fireworks happen on the other side of the record. "Bells of the Transfiguration Cathedral of the Spaso-Efimeyev Monastery in Suzdal, Russian Federation", it says on the cover, and who am I to argue differently? If this is a piece of real life bell ringing, it sounds wonderful; if this is a cut-up to create a piece of music with bell ringing with the intention to make a meldoic piece, then well done. There is a wee bit of applause at the end, suggesting the real life event, but this from the man who helped shaping plunderphonics; I wouldn't take anything for granted from him. If Nula.cc wanted to please it worked very well; if he wanted to confuse us, that worked equally well. Great little record; edition of 250 copies. (FdW)
––– Address: https://staalplaat.bandcamp.com/
NEW ATLANTA (CDR compilation by Econore)
DAVID WALLRAF - SUBSONGS (cassette by Econore)
CHRIS DREIER & ANSGAR WILKEN - SELF TITLED (cassette by Econore)
Very much like the two 'Ting' compilations from last week, this is a four-way compilation in which each musician gets fourteen minutes to play a piece of music. Maybe the title here, 'New Atlanta', is the theme? I am not sure. Of the four musicians, I heard of David Hanraths (but only for the first time last week); the others are Item, Hecke and Saenyo; the latter recorded the piece of music "in my most depressive hour(s) this year" in The Netherlands. I immensely enjoyed this compilation. Each piece seems to be a single-minded drone, and they are in the 'right' order; well, at least what I perceive to be the correct order. The opening proceedings are by Item, who recorded a live piece at Karl Marx Str 24, a club in Berlin, of moody drones, which are subject to further decay over thirteen minutes. Hanraths uses SuperCollider for his piece, which seems to be growing naturally out of the piece by Item, but the decline stops and retransforms into something else; a new life form, perhaps? This, too, is moody and remotely present, unlike Hecke's 'Buchla Study 5', which is a nice slow arpeggio improvisation bringing the album back up. Obviously, I am reading it all wrong, but life is now fully blooming, followed by Saenyo's more depressing sounds of processed recordings from the office cubicle, buzzing and whirring of boring, repeating work. This is also the only piece that has a break in the middle, and the second half is a further slightly noisy transformation, and it is all going down in decay again. I think there is some beautiful music on this one, a trip if ever there was one.
From David Wallraf I reviewed a double CDR before, also released by Econore (VItal Weekly 1270). This time he dives deep into books for references. Deleuze, Ballard, Bataille, Max Ernst and William Gibson. He explains each title via one of these books and texts, although it's not an explanation, so he writes. "... They don't add deeper meaning to the music. Instead, these titles were chosen to add a semantic texture and set certain atmospheres or scenes". The previous work I heard from him contained live recordings, and this time (I assume), these are studio recordings. There are ten pieces, all relatively short (the total time of the tape is thirty-eight minutes). I must say I enjoy this approach over the live release. Those were at times a bit too noisy and uncontrolled, which can't be said of the music here. Because Wallraf keeps it relatively brief, there is more structure in these pieces. He works with a limited set of sounds per track, which he loops and plays around with it, adding a wide variety of sound effects. Throughout, there is quite a bit of variation in these pieces, field recordings, voices, modular electronics and perhaps also guitars? Noise is a presence in his work, but it's never for the sake of noise. Wallraf deconstructs his noise and allows quieter moments through the use of collaging sounds. Most enjoyable indeed!
The final new release by Econore is a duet between Chris Dreier, who is a founding member of Die Todliche Doris, but also working with B-Maschinen, Mk/Ct, O.J.A.I./Dexia Defunct and Ansgar Wilken, who you may know from Feedbackochester, Ilse Lau, Julijuni and the Knieschiessklub; the latter being a small performance space in Bremen. They met in spring 2021 for the first time to record music together. There is talk of "the modular synthesizer breathed quietly, the percussion followed its call", but who plays what? That we are not told here. The music is an ongoing affair, thirty minutes per side of percussive sounds and modular bursts. What I like about this is the openness of the percussion. There is no drum kit but many cymbals, bells and small hand drums. That results in delicate lightness from the percussion, whereas the modular electronics are (deliberate?) darker and muddier. Buzzing, cracking and bursting with electricity, the whole set of sounds moves around with relative joy and spaciousness. At times a bit too uninformed, too much in search of something and not getting there, this duo also knows how to control, respect and interact with the other, resulting in some great miniatures. Where, you may ask? That's the beautiful, sad thing about cassette releases; you never know where the magic is. That's a good thing, I think. It makes you want to return and discover it again, see if there is beauty you missed. (FdW)
––– Address: https://econore.bandcamp.com/
SW1N-HUNTER - TRUST (cassette by Tribe Tapes)
SW1n-Hunter is the alias of Adam Denton from somewhere in the UK. After contributing to compilations and split cassettes in 2018 and 2019, “Trust” is his first full release. Again it’s on cassette, but this time Adam’s output found a home across the pond as North Carolina based Tribe Tapes released it.
The sound palette Adam uses consists of ‘prepared electric guitar/instrumental mutations, field recording, human/machine utterance, tape manipulation, feedback systems, etc.’. Quite a broad array of origins makes the release very dynamic. Mostly you will see artists use a much more limited number of sources, creating a more coherent output. But a few tracks with a different “feel” don’t make a release completely incoherent. With SW1n-Hunter, coherence is found within the sculpting of sounds. The field recordings and ‘human utterance’ connect the tracks so that the dynamics are a welcome variation in the whole perspective.
“Trust” contains almost 40 minutes of well-executed sound experiments while it guides the listener to a field of audified emotions or settings. Except for the opening track “Loss Of Scale In The Thoroughfare”, where it sounds like a sneaky experiment with singing bowls is being conducted in the corner of the subway, it’s quite a noisy release with a heavy analogue feel. It’s like a painting of the “real world” through the eyes - or should we say ears - of a casual bystander who happened to be a sound artist.
Production-wise the release could have been a bit more transparency or brightness, as it sounds pretty lo-fi. That might be the result of the cassette as chosen medium, or it could be the intention of the release as we live in a muffled era and the UK, well, you know … (BW)
––– Address: https://tribetapes.bandcamp.com/
MODELBAU - COPY (MiniDisc, private)
Once upon a time, there was a recording format called the MiniDisc. It was developed to be a digital counterpart to the compact cassette, but it was in an era where CD-r’s became cheaper, and CD-burners became standard in every household because of the normalization of computers. (I can’t tell you all how old I feel while writing this …) The nice thing about MiniDisc was the compression technique that was used, recordings always sounded solid. So yes, it was way better than compact cassette, and I suppose the discussion was comparable with the debate 15 years earlier about V2000 versus VHS.
Modelbau, a.k.a. Frans de Waard, recently released a MiniDisc entitled 'Copy' in an edition of 40 numbered copies; it is the number of copies of MiniDiscs he had to recycle for this project. The title refers to each copy being a copy of the previous numbered copy. Depending on using digital ports or analogue ones, making a copy of a copy might change what you hear. Digitally one shouldn’t hear a difference, but you never know what the compression technique adds or removes. When done analogue, each copy will definitely have changed compared to the previous copy.
'Copy' can hence be seen as a next step from “I am sitting in a room” (A. Lucier, 1969), and it’s all about the origin of change and its after carefully analyzing multiple copies.
Musicwise this piece could be considered an experimental drone. There is a lot of hissing and some beautiful overtones and interference patterns. The 70+ minutes knows great dynamics yet never changes that much. And still, it doesn’t get boring at any moment. It’s a playful experiment in dissonance and structure, and even when some tones might be on edge, the dissonance never reaches the level where it gets painful. A very well conducted experiment that should be heard by more people than just those 40 lucky ones; I have it from the horse’s mouth that they are free in exchange for a bit of postage and there are some left. (BW)
––– Address: firstname.lastname@example.org