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TOMOTSUGU NAKAMURA - NOTHING LEFT BEHIND (CD by Laaps) *
TETUZI AKIYAMA & RYOTARO MIYASAKA - ODD JOBS ARE THE HIGH ROAD OF WORK (CD by Ftarri) *
TETUZI AKIYAMA & LEO OKAGAWA - METAPHOR OF METAMORPHOSIS (CD by Ftarri) *
JUNJI HIROSE & OTOMO YOSHIHIDE - DUO-1 (CD by Ftarri) *
UN DRAME MUSICAL INSTANTANE – LES BONS CONTES FONT LES BONS AMIS (CD by Klanggalerie)
BRACKENBURY BIANCO – WAYWARD MUSIC (2CD by Discus Music) *
AMIDEA CLOTET - TRASLUZ (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
JASON KAHN - LACUNAE (CD by A Wave Press) *
MASSIMO DISCEPOLI - AN UNUSUAL WAY TO DISAPPEAR (CD by Dof) *
FORBES GRAHAM - ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER VECTOR (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
CLAUDIO DI PINA - AVANT-GARDE ORGAN (CD by 9 Musas) *
KATE STENBERG - LOU HARRISON: SONATA FOR UNACCOMPANIED VIOLIN (CD by Other Minds)
JACEK DOROSZENKO FEAT. EAW DOROSZENKO - BODYFULNESS (CD by Audiobulb Records) *
JIM HAYNES - INSOMNIA (CD by Sentimental Productions) *
LASSE MARHAUG/EDWARD SOL (split cassette by Sentimental Productions) *
LUCA FORCUCCI - THE ROOM ABOVE (LP on mAtter) *
VERTONEN - -30- (3x 7", 5x CDR by Ballast) *
VOMIR AND WHITE WIDOW - ADVANCED SYMPTOMS OF CLAUSTROPHILIA (cassette by Grubenwehr Freiburg) *
OSCAR LEWE AND GRODOCK - CLAUSTROPHILIA (miniCDRby Grubenwehr Freiburg) *
REYNOLS - MINECXIOLOGÍA (book by Dobra Robota)
TOMOTSUGU NAKAMURA - NOTHING LEFT BEHIND (CD by Laaps)
'Nothing Left Behind' is the second CD by Tomotsugu Nakamura for Laaps, following 'Literature' (see Vital Weekly 1244). A popular musician. I see on Bandcamp that this CD was released in July and is already sold out (which begs the question, why send a review copy now?). Nakamura is not. He is a very active musician; this is his seventh solo album in about ten years. He's also a member of Suisen, a duo with Darren McClure. His main instruments, along with electronics and field recordings, are piano and guitar. Everything he does, music-wise, that is, is done with great care. Slow music, with a few tones shooting into effects, others naturally coming to the listener. Think of a man with a laptop and an instrument (although, for all I know, no computer and just sound effects). There is no preference for either, and just like the music, it keeps a delicate balance. Some plinks on a guitar, reversing and delaying one, adding another plink and bob's your uncle. I have no idea how difficult or easy it is to create such music, nor do I think it is necessary to know this, but it sounds like easy music in all its gentleness. It is certainly, easy to digest. The music is highly melodic, not a distortion around, not a beep out of place, just these ten slow drifts of guitar and piano sounds, with a violin in 'Telescope'. Gentle, melodic, and yet never too easy. Nakamura's music has an edge; it stays away from the new age world or just be pleasing. The reversing of tones, the unexpected entry of a music box, or even what seems to be a rhythm machine (in 'Mistletoe'; a bit early perhaps?) is just enough difference to avoid well-trodden paths. And that's what I like best about this music. One to keep hanging around until the days are shorter and colder. (FdW)
––– Address: https://laaps-records.com/
TETUZI AKIYAMA & RYOTARO MIYASAKA - ODD JOBS ARE THE HIGH ROAD OF WORK (CD by Ftarri)
TETUZI AKIYAMA & LEO OKAGAWA - METAPHOR OF METAMORPHOSIS (CD by Ftarri)
JUNJI HIROSE & OTOMO YOSHIHIDE - DUO-1 (CD by Ftarri)
On these three new CDs by Tokyo's Ftarri, we find three duets; two of them include the electric guitar of Tetuzi Akiyama. On February 8, 2021, he played with percussionist Ryotaro Miyasaka, and along with his recent trio release with Ayako Kataoka and Kiyomitsu Odai (Vital Weekly 1346), this is another noisy beast. I wrote before that the trio was pretty unusual for this label, and this new duo is along those lines. It is not so much the young (1995) percussion player here. He plays his drums fairly straightforward, as one would expect from a free improvisation drummer. He rattles his cages, or rather snare drum, bongos, cymbals etc., which he laid on the floor. His playing is quite 'dry' in all its hectic and chaotic playing. He seems to have difficulty keeping up with Akiyama, who was in a particular brutal mood that day. His guitar howls and screams and makes one hell of a racket. Any moment of quietness is short and almost like taking another breath to launch into the next attack. Great stuff, that much is sure, and perhaps a bit too much on the side of free-jazz for me, but it is also, at seventy-two minutes, quite an endurance test. It is recommended to take in one piece at a time. That worked best for me.
On June 21 of the same year, Akiyama took the Ftarri stage with Leo Okagawa, the electronics composer from Tokyo. I reviewed some of his solo work before, but he's also active in improvisation. The two pieces he recorded with Akiyama are about twenty minutes shorter than the other CD, and there is a different interaction here. If chaos rules the other release by Akiyama, some control is exerted here. Okagawa's music deals with sustaining sounds, and while I have no idea how these are generated, Akiyama is similarly. Similar but with less control, maybe, less steady, but that works to the advantage of the music. Because he changes his tunes, going back and forth with his sustains, Okagawa feels he must also continue picking new sounds. This, too, results at times in some harsh noise music. Feedback, or something very similar, is never far away and never covered up. I enjoyed this duet over the other one because of the control and the kind of noise they produce here. Perhaps also not the easiest music around, but definitely one I can endure in one long, fifty-two-minute ride.
In 1989 saxophone player Junji Hirose released a duo album with Otomo Yoshihide, and now in 2022, there is another one; why this one is called 'Duo-1' and not 'Duo-2' I don't know. Over the years, Hirosi created the SSI, the self-made sound instrument, combining numerous devices and everyday objects from which he produces noise sounds. The two recorded their pieces in concert on June 5, 2021, at Pool, Tokyo. Yoshihide on turntables, and Hirosi on SSI-4 ('First Scene', SSI-6 ('Second Scene') and 'no instrument air noise, or NIAN' ('Third Scene'). The first instrument using bicycle wheels, the second "air onto PE tape with two air compressors" and the third compressed air into the microphone. You aren't surprised to learn that this isn't your usual Ftarri 'quiet' release. Especially in the 'Third Scene' is a particular noise festival that would make Merzbow proud. This duet is one in which both players show respect and dialogue, and each player is well-suited for the job. Yoshihide's turntable scratches and peeps, while Hirose's objects are on an equally bruitiste (to use the futurists' terminology) level. Quite intense, quite long, and is this Ftarri's start as a noise label? Just kidding, of course. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ftarri.com/
UN DRAME MUSICAL INSTANTANE – LES BONS CONTES FONT LES BONS AMIS (CD by Klanggalerie)
This release marks the end of a rerelease program of albums by Un Drame Musical Instatané, which appeared originally in the 80s. At the core Un Drame Musical Instantane were Bernard Vitet, Francis Gorge and Jean-Jacques Birgé. They developed their very own music, defined by crossing borders between jazz, rock, new music, and electronics. They created very original panoramas and dramatic structures. Also, they succeeded in operating independently with their own GRRR label. This album, their fourth album, originally released in 1983, was the second one by the trio working with a big ensemble of about twelve musicians, playing strings, horns and percussion. The music still fascinates me after all those years. Their language was not only new at that time, it was still relevant and exciting. In the opening piece, ‘Ne pas être admire, être cru’, they all play together as one ensemble conducted by Vitet. For this edition, an alternate take of the work is included. A comparison shows this is a highly composed work, though open for the performers to shape their specific contributions. For ‘Révolutions’ they are subdivided into three small semi-autonomous ensembles playing simultaneously with and against one other. A very engaging piece of chamber music. In between, we have two shorter works. ‘L invitation au voyage’ is an intimate song with vocals by Vitet and Jean Querlier on the oboe. It is a song composed by French Heni Duparc from the late Romantic period. With ‘Sacra Matao’, they adapt a Celtic song with the bagpipes of Youenn La Berne in the forefront. So this album is a very mixed bag, illustrating their unique position in experimental music. And for sure of relevance up to the very present. So please look at the Bandcamp-site of Jean-Jacques Birgé where a lot more old and recent music is available.(DM)
––– Address: https://www.klanggalerie.com/
BRACKENBURY BIANCO – WAYWARD MUSIC (2CD by Discus Music)
Bianco is an American drummer who moved to Europe in the nineties and played with musicians like Elton Dean, Evan Parker, Alex von Schlippenbach and above all Paul Dunmall. Brackenbury is a British classically trained violinist, who played in contexts of jazz, rock and folk. She debuted in 2019 with ‘KnifeAngel’ with compositions that combine different styles performed by a six-piece ensemble. Combining various styles is very much the case for their new collaboration, the follow-up to ‘Rising up’ released last year by Discus Music. I don’t know many - if any – projects of improvised music taking inspiration from medieval religious music. But here is one. Their improvisations are inspired by music by Hildegard von Bingen, a German abbess, mystic, theologian, composer and healer from the 12th century. How did this unusual project start? Brackenbury: “About a year ago, I handed Tony a CD of Saint Hildegard von Bingen’s spiritual songs to listen to, and the next thing I know, he has played an entire hour-long drum track alongside the recording, in one sitting- and that it was so right.” We hear Faith Brackenbury on violin, viola, vocals and effects pedals, and Tony Bianco plays drums, percussion and keyboards. Some of the improvisations carry Latin names, like ‘O Frondens Virga’, referring to the von Bingen-composition of the same name. In this one, Brackenbury sings the melody line from the original. The original composition is much shorter than the improvisation by the duo. And this also counts for the other ones. ‘O Cruor Sanguins’ opens and closes with vocals by Brackenbury. Brackenbury weaves captivating, spun-out and sometimes echoing melodic lines in between, with a repeated motive in the background and rolling percussion by Bianco. Whereas the melodic lines of von Bingen are of a calming mood, the accompanying rolling drums by Bianco's work make a contrast that you have to like. Besides, they recorded improvisations that were not directly inspired by a composition by von Bingen. For example, ‘Placement and Resolve’, a 20-minute multitracked improvisation of drums, piano and violin. The mix is not totally satisfying as the piano is a bit too much in the background. Nevertheless, it is these improvisations that I like most from this release. Great playing by Brackenbury, and they built an improvisation with many intense moments. Also, ‘Cherubim’s Sword’ is a jazzy-inspired multitracked improvisation where the playing by Brackenbury impresses. (DM)
––– Address: https://discus-music.co.uk/
AMIDEA CLOTET - TRASLUZ (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
Trasluz means translucent in Spanish. What’s not translucent here is how Amidea Clotet, living in Barcelona, gets these amazing sounds out of an electric guitar. Using objects ( and bow(s) ) to generate sound from a guitar was her goal in this series of soundscapes. In a delicate, non-obtrusive way, she creates a full-blown, spacious, structured world. I, for one, had this on repeat for a few hours just to immerse myself into this creative space. Sometimes you cannot imagine that it is an electric guitar (with or without amplification) you hear, it might just as well be a saxophone blowing fluttering overtones or a bowed double bass on the lower end of its register. At times it even sounds like cheap electronics instead of a guitar. However, it never gets boring or repetitive. You can even use this as a meditation, listening carefully to the sounds and textures. There’s a lot to be heard in these pieces. Some parts are tranquil, so a quiet or peaceful environment is recommended. This is only her second release, her first is a duo with pianist Agustí Fernández. I could go on about the different sounds you can hear, but suffice to say that I enjoyed this release very much and will be on the lookout for future releases by Amidea Clotet. Check this one out on Relative Pitch Records! (MDS)
––– Address: https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/
JASON KAHN - LACUNAE (CD by A Wave Press)
One certainty with Jason Kahn's music is that you never know what comes next. Over the years, I heard quite a bit of his music, solo and with other people, and recently he worked with the sounds of his voice. On 'Lacunae', Kahn is back at the modular synthesizer, mixing board, electromagnetic inductors, contact microphones, and voice and field recordings. There are two lengthy pieces on this disc, one in concert and one in the studio, the latter being a commission by Latvian Classical Radio. According to the enclosed information, the music here Kahn recorded with 'open leads', which he touches, thus creating distortion, feedback, or short circuits's the sound. Other sounds are generated with the use of inductors and contact microphones. On 'Latvian Classical Radio', the studio piece, there is also the use of radio sounds. Both pieces have a very 'live in concert' feeling, the sound being picked up in the space where Kahn performs his music. The two pieces of music are very vibrant and, especially for Kahn, quite noisy. Maybe it is the process of sounds being interrupted, cables being touched, and I'm reminded of fellow Swiss musicians Möslang and Guhl or their later trio Voice Crack. Their 'cracked everyday electronics' seems quite an influence here. Usually, Kahn is quite careful and quiet, but none is the case here. Especially in the studio piece, there are a lot of brutalities, which luckily never becoming formulaic noise wall. Again, Kahn knows how to surprise me, and I thought, 'what's next? (FdW)
––– Address: https://awavepress.bandcamp.com/
MASSIMO DISCEPOLI - AN UNUSUAL WAY TO DISAPPEAR (CD by Dof)
Over the years, various reviewers wrote about Massimo Discepoli's music, and now it's my turn; again. I wrote about a work he did with Daniel Barbiero, which was quite drone-like, but perhaps not a very regular work for him. His other work deals more with jazz; the previous was a bit 'prog'-like. On his fourth solo, he returns (his word) to more ambient patterns. For this, he still plays the drums and uses electronics. The jazzy element is never far away here, even when the electronics play quite some role here. The music is friendly and melodic. That is great if you want something pleasant to hear while reading a book, fixing a crossword puzzle or doing the dishes. But okay as this might be, I think the music could also do with a sharper edge, which is presently not in this music. Maybe the jazz aspect didn't work for me, or perhaps I am a bit grumpy that so many of the new releases on Vital's desk have that relatively straightforward jazz touch. Why is this, I wonder, when did we become a jazz publication? That doesn't mean that the music on offer here is not very good. Discepoli does a solid job of creating delightful tunes, and this morning, when I heard it for the first time when reading the paper, I played it all the way through, and nothing stuck in my mind, and nothing stung my mind; this music was a pleasant wake-up call. But one that is also easily forgotten, perhaps. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.doflabel.com
FORBES GRAHAM - ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER VECTOR (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
This latest release by Boston-based musician, sound and visual artist and composer Forbes Graham, who plays trumpet, laptop and drum machine here, is joined by double bassist Brandon Lopez and Cecilia Lopez on an analogue synth. The two Lopez have released a few recordings, in duo, trio and quartet ensembles, available on Bandcamp. Graham composed a string of string quartets, among many others, for unusual combinations and joined the Leap of Faith Orchestra led by fellow Bostonian and hyper-productive composer and multi-instrumentalist Dave M. Peck (PEK) for a full-orchestra composition called Photon Epoch. I had the pleasure of seeing (and hearing) Brandon Lopez's riveting solo performance at De Ruimte in Amsterdam.
The spaceship lifts off with a pulsating deep bass synth sound going deep under the sub-bass's lower frequencies. Throughout this first piece, and the rest of them, come to think of it, there’s a sense of space with or without distortion, creating a captivating alien sound world with only the acoustic instruments connecting it to our world. The first piece gets a polyrhythmic groove. All the while adorned with weird crackling noises and fluttering whistle-like sounds. In other sections of the pieces, the music is quite dense, like a black hole in that galaxy's vector. The combination of acoustic instruments mixed with analogue synth is in the improvisation world pioneered by the infamous space traveller Sun Ra. This release blends analogue synth and acoustic instruments (albeit sometimes heavily processed) in a captivating way. It took a few listening rounds to get familiar with the sound world created by these accomplished musicians. There’s a lot of detail to be heard, and thanks to Greg DiCrosta, who recorded, mixed and mastered this session, we can hear everything. No small feat given the wide spectrum of frequencies and clashing of sounds. This is not for everyone, my wife being one of them. But for anyone willing to dive into a cerebral, detached alien world, I recommend this release. Especially in a quiet environment on a good system or with quality headphones. (MDS)
––– Address: https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/
CLAUDIO DI PINA - AVANT-GARDE ORGAN (CD by 9 Musas)
There is not much information here. You'll find this CD on Discogs as recorded by Adam Nox, but the cover says, Claudio de Pina. Discogs says '500 x CD', but in reality, it's one disc. De Pina is a composer and organist, and on the 18th-century historical organ at Parish of Ajuda, he performed several works from modern composers. Works that aren't necessarily for organ; or, perhaps, for any instrument. Works by LaMonte Young, Gyorgi Ligeti, Mauricio Kagel and John Cage. Works of a more conceptual nature, such as Young's 'Composition 1960, No. 7', which is two notes and the instruction reads that these notes are 'to be held for a long time. The church organ, with its various instruments, allows for richness, even if it's only two notes. I am not fully knowledgeable about all these works (and, while on the subject, Vital Weekly is not your go-to website for modern classical music), but with my limited know-how, I enjoyed these pieces. You can download a booklet via a QR code with some explanation, and I learned about Ligeti's pieces, which sounded great in all their quietness. The same goes for Kagel's 'General Bass'. I was less enamoured by his 'Rrrrrrr… Orgelstücke: I. Raga — VIII. Rossignols enrhumés'. I would think that even if you don't know or care too much about modern music, this release could still appeal to you, providing you love church organs and drone sounds, which goes for both in my case. (FdW)
––– Address: none given
KATE STENBERG - LOU HARRISON: SONATA FOR UNACCOMPANIED VIOLIN (CD by Other Minds)
Contemporary composed music and Vital Weekly share some common ground. Or, as the Other Minds label puts it, in their mission statement: they "produce a select catalogue of contemporary music exploring areas seldom touched upon by mainstream institutions."
Plus: Other Minds has quite a nice further purpose of bringing exceptional, often-overlooked to the masses, now and in the future: "Making this music accessible to the public is an integral part of our mission, and the proceeds from the sales are used to further our work as new music archivists and advocates."
The Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin was written in 1936 when the legendary American Maverick composer Lou Harrison was still in his teenage years. He was, however, already studying music with Henry Cowell at the time. Since '36, the work went unheard until the premiere by Gary Beswick in 1963. And since it lingered in obscurity until Frog Peak Music's Larry Polansky transcribed the piece from its original manuscript.
With the 'Sonata', Harrison manages to fuse Western and Eastern folkish music (maybe even dances) with stirring glassine glissandi and Schoenbergian touches of deep drama and tragedy. There's a punishing forward energy to the eight-minute work, which finds its partner in crime in almost aggressive dissonance that runs throughout the Sonata.
Kate Stenberg imbues the Sonata with crystalline brio, a presence and sense of realism in the timbral spectrum - especially the lower end - bringing sparkling panache next to hard-edge angles and languid pastoral lines. As such, this CD, with only eight minutes of historically important, exceptional, unheard music, stands as a testament to the Other Minds mission, and we certainly can't wait to hear more from them. (SSK)
––– Address: https://www.otherminds.org/
JACEK DOROSZENKO FEAT. EAW DOROSZENKO - BODYFULNESS (CD by Audiobulb Records)
The cover of this CD has a short introduction about the ideas behind the music. Something about 'digital dependencies', "our action seems to be dominated by virtual images and content" and that in 'Bodyfulness' they try "to capture the coexistence of physical and virtual life, to talk about about the intimate experience of the body online and offline, to show a subjective, audiovisual study of the impact of modern communication solutions on our intimate relationships. Say what? It reeks, for me, of mindfulness, also something that I do not have much interest in. Sometimes you wish you didn't read such things. I know I can complain about the lack of information but knowing that Jacek Doroszenko plays "various electronics, prepared piano, field recordings, sound installation recordings, various analogue synthesizers, keys, bells and strings" would have been enough as the playing of "skin and body parts, contact mics, synthetic pellets" by Ewa Doroszenko raises a few questions. And there isn't an answer anywhere. Is there some kind of live processing going on, I wondered. Her work features on two of the nine pieces here, but playing these, I couldn't detect anything different than the ones by Jacek solo. This is an Audiobulb Records release, which means we are in the world of computer processing, click n cuts, granular synthesis and such. It all has that ambient glitch feeling that music had some twenty years ago and which may have gone out of fashion a long time go. Maybe it is about time for a revival? Maybe this is already happening. I am hardly interested in what is in or out of fashion, and I am merely interested in great music. That we find on this CD. Doroszenko plays some wonderful ambient music, abstract and melodic. They go hand in hand with the 'real' instruments, their processed variations and field recordings. Throughout, this is very easygoing music, without a dissonant, a peep or a scratch. If we need to mention the analogue and the digital thing again, this album is a fine example. You recognize things, and sometimes you don't; the same thing one has with the real and the virtual. Quiet and pleasant music, perfect pass time music, the soundtrack for modern living. (FdW)
––– Address: https://audiobulb.bandcamp.com/
JIM HAYNES - INSOMNIA (CD by Sentimental Productions)
LASSE MARHAUG/EDWARD SOL (split cassette by Sentimental Productions)
On Jim Haynes' website (https://www.helenscarsdale.com/haynes/) you can find an extensive description of his interests in working with sound and images, all of which deal, in some way and out bluntly, with decay, or as he calls it, corrosion. His work is a cluster of drones, faulty electricity, malfunctioning machines and unsettling yet beautiful sound collages. 'Insomnia' is slightly different because it is more of a noise album. Recorded during Covid times and, for Haynes, a time of unrest caused insomnia for him. And to add to the terrible times we live in, the completed CDs arrived on Sentimental's Kyiv doorstep on the day Russia invaded Ukraine (February 24, 2022). Hence, the official release date is August 22, Ukraine's day to celebrate independence. The struggle continues, and it's good to see that this label moves on, no matter the hardship. Before I read the information about this release, I assumed this new work was one of an all-modular synthesizer approach, moving away from his earlier work. Loud, distorted oscillations from some rudimentary modular set-up or some such. I was wrong, as Haynes created an instrument that "involved precisely controlled motors grinding against long rods of glass". "I wondered if I could create harmonics through the interplay of vibrations within a chorus of the same objects dialed into very specific revolutions per minute. Upon building this rough instrument, I was delighted that such dissonant frequencies could be achieved (with considerable patience) and could also be emboldened with various electronics, radios, and synths." Upon deeper listening, it turns out that this is yet another delicate work by Haynes that is only noise-based on the surface. Still, if you dig deeper, you will notice much more detail about shaking objects, radio interference and modular synthesizers. Now louder and a bit less in a straightforward collage fashion. Haynes takes more time to play with his sounds, which are louder and meaner than before, and changes appear only slowly over time. The are three pieces, each precisely twenty minutes, and a limited edition bonus set included a minidisc (who has one of those?), with three more pieces of equal length. That's two hours of solid experimental noise music. Noise music with a significant edge is way beyond the realm of 'traditional' noise music. For me, this music worked best without any interruption. One long ride of highly charged electronic music; better not played right before going to sleep.
On a split cassette, we find the music from label boss Edward Sol, no stranger in these pages and Lase Marhaug. I would have loved to say, 'also no stranger to these pages', but when did I last hear anything from him? Maybe that was the Tongues Of Mount Menu work he did with Jon Wesseltoft (Vital Weekly 1218, not my review) but solo? His 7" on Becoq Records in Vital Weekly 1095 came up after some research. A solo album didn't pop up, but maybe solo work isn't a considerable interest for this Norwegian composer. It makes it a bit harder to comment on this new solo work because I have no frame of reference. Somehow, wrongly, I expected this to be in the realm of noise, but surprisingly it is not. None of the thirty minutes deals with noise—unusual sounds, perhaps, stemming from what, at times, seems to be acoustic sources. A violin, perhaps, and maybe a turntable hitting some objects at another point. He mixes this with electronic sounds, clicks 'n cuts at one point, and atmospheric drones, minimal and slow in development. There is an element of sounds being picked up with microphones while the music is playing. Marhaug does a fine job in creating audio illusions. Electro-acoustic music is what this is, and a mighty fine piece it is. Why is there not more solo work by Marhaug? Question of the week.
Edward Sol's side is also one long piece but divided into smaller sections; each section crossfades into the next. It seems as if Sol responds to the music of Marhaugh, using some instruments alongside electronics. There are also differences. I think Sol operates from a lo-fi perspective, with small synthesizers and old reel-to-reel machines. His sections are shorter, have a quicker development and use more sound sources. This brings a slightly more chaotic sound image, but I thought it was all the most enjoyable. The music is much like his previous work, of atmospheric electronics, crushed field recordings and broken instruments. Another fine montage of sound. (FdW)
––– Address: https://sentimentalproductions.bandcamp.com/
LUCA FORCUCCI - THE ROOM ABOVE (LP on mAtter)
To be honest, it's getting a bit much, somewhat too crowded in the department of not that interesting dronish music played on church organs, not in the least bit because of the hype surrounding the simplistic disguised as sophisticated minimalism as peddled by, for example Kali Malone. So when I read The Room Above was recorded in a church, with the church organ, all alerts turned to the deepest red. Not again!
And although the very stylish sleeve is indeed designed in the warmest reds, Luca Forcucci - who previously delivered, amongst other releases, the surprising and deeply engaging The Waste Land cassette for Crónica - The Room Above turns out to be anything but tedious and stale. Au contraire!
Forcucci worked in the Church of the Helvetic Circle in Genoa during the 2020 lockdown. A certain veiled atmosphere of claustrophobic enclosure rungs throughout these three movements - a sense of foreboding, not per se menacing, but 'unheimlich', surely. Forcucci: "I played the church's organ in the present moment, with no score, over four consecutive days, possibly inspired by long sonic walks in the surrounding mountains and along the Ligurian coast."
Swells of organ drone and washes of field recordings, smithereens of synth and speckles of stardust in the form of slight dissonance dance around the cavernous intrinsic architectural sonic spatial identity of the building. These do not only enter the recordings, but carry, inform and form The Room Above. In a most certain fashion, this LP is a further aural and musical exploration of Pietro Riparbelli's Cathedral project - a resonance of time, space, place and soul, stirring through decades and centuries, centered and conceived in the here and now: a sonic moiré of disparate elements somewhere between Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, Bridget Riley and Francois Morrellet.
A display of several strata of spaces, from Marcel Duchamp's rotoreliefs to Ryoji Ikeda's visual bombardments, via Carsten Nicolai, Christian Fennesz, Oskar Fischinger and - in depth and saturation - a shoegaze-electronic polyphony not unlike Lawrence English, paired with Phill Niblock's accumulated sonic masses.
The Room Above then: a field recorded, resonance from future concert venues, imagined spaces where sleep has its houses - perception emerging between the work and the receiver, cinema of the perceiver. And simply one of the very best records of 2022. (SSK)
––– Address: https://www.matter.jp
VERTONEN - -30- (3x 7", 5x CDR by Ballast)
Gone in the mists of time is the answer to the question I just thought of: when did I first hear music by Vertonen? I am sure it was in the 90s, as I knew Blake Edwards already from his work with Crippled Intellect Productions, his label at the time. But mid 90 or late 90s, I no longer know this. Vertonen is one of those things that is 'there' at some point, and you realize that pretty much everything released is to one's liking. Vertonen now exists for thirty years, so it is time for a little celebration, being a box with five CDRs and two lathes cut 7"s and one regular 7". The latter is also separately available and contains, like the first Vertonen 7" from 1994, one side with a piece of music and one with fifteen lock grooves. The whole box is limited to thirty-three copies, and no Vertonen fan should be without one. This box is a history lesson. There is a CDR called 'Then', with recordings from cassette releases up to 1997, a disc with live recordings from 1991 to 2010 and three discs of material from the last two years. In recent years Vertonen has been very prolific. The booklet details everything there is to know about these recordings, with a detailed description of the live concerts and the circumstances of the new music. We hear Vertonen shift from the more noise-oriented earlier days towards the heavily drone-based sound of recent years. I mused that this followed my shifting interest from pure noise to drone and lo-fi ambient music. The 'Then' disc is an exciting collection of various early interests from Vertonen, in which Z'EV and Neubauten played a role. There is rhythm 'n noise, but already towards the end of this disc, there are first signs of drone music. Primitive recordings of field recordings turned out to be quite interesting. In concert, Vertonen used a turntable and sound effects, and I must admit that the combination of noise and turntable is not for me. The two most recent live recordings (from 2010) forecast his love of drones. And drones are something that, in the world of Vertonen, is not a fixed thing. From pure synthesizer drones to computer sound to heavily processed field recordings (either with synthesizers or computers), there is a great variety of approaches. The fact that several of his recent work plunge deep into the world of drones doesn't mean there is no room for other musical interests. One of the three recent discs is 'Static Velocity', which works with more noisy and rhythmic music and offers a surprising diversification from his drone interests. Vertonen writes that we should see this as his hommage to the early SPK sound, which works well. 'Fractured Water' is a work in which he delves the drone mines deepest and is, at times, a tranquil work, such as 'Fallow 3'. 'Territorial Ferocities' contains two recent pieces in which Vertonen re-uses his old recordings, and with some surprising results. This release kept me busy for a good five hours, confirming that I enjoy his music a lot. Not every side of Vertonen is up my alley, but throughout, this is an excellent historical document. Whatever fragment there will be in the podcast doesn't do justice to the man's broad musical scope. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ballastnvp.blogspot.com/
VOMIR AND WHITE WIDOW - ADVANCED SYMPTOMS OF CLAUSTROPHILIA (cassette by Grubenwehr Freiburg)
OSCAR LEWE AND GRODOCK - CLAUSTROPHILIA (miniCDR by Grubenwehr Freiburg)
The information super-highway, like all highways, is to get people, things, and ideas, from A to B or B to A. So twenty years ago, this is what happened. Now all those from A are at B, and all those at B are at A. The highway is now almost deserted, so the information on these two (or is it more?) releases is sparse. (Well, it's an idea.) Grubenwehr Freiburg via Discogs gives “Freiburg (Germany) based DIY label run by David Leutkart aka Grodock and Knut Holtsträter.” and apart from the Bandcamp address, which i) I will give at the end, and ii) is where you can hear this material for yourself, you can get more information. The Vomir and White Widow release seems simple. Compared to the Oscar Lewe and Grodock – Claustrophilia, CD, I mean. “Attention, this MiniCDr contains the same material as the one that comes with the Vomir/White Widow Album as a part of the Claustrophilia Box!!!” There is more “information” on the Bandcamp site, such as “Claustrophilia Box is limited to 20 Copies. It has a hand-sprayed Grubenwehr Logo on its front. It consists of metal and has got a viewing window.” The Vomir and White Widow release is what anyone familiar with Vomir would expect, White Widow I'm unfamiliar with, Discogs give a Hip Hop group, A hard rock/glam metal band from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA, Nel Briones and Chester Masangya, a noise project based in the Philippines.... and a Los Angeles based indie rock musician and film scorer... by which time I stopped and will go for “noise project based in the Philippines“. If this mindless wall of redundant information is getting you bored, rightly so, I could say I'm doing a text 'cover' of Vomir. (No, I'm not, so the sounds?) Asbestos Devotion, Track 1 of ASOC begins as a Vomir wall, with some high pitched pulse towards the end, 2 Abnormal Pleasures of Confinement features the Vomir wall with high-pitched warbles 3 Advanced Symptoms of Claustrophilia again is a wall, but with similar variations. One assumes and only assumes these 'variations' are WW's input. How then should we resolve this with the Vomir matra(s), “No Development”, “Monolithic Frontal Sound”, or does it need to be? I can think of other examples, Erased de Kooning Drawing by Robert Rauschenberg, but I think that was in the context of a critique of Abstract Expressionism and an attempt at new syntheses, is this the case here? Or maybe the denial of the mantra is itself a negative. But one is suspicious given the turn to 'Shit Folk' of Roro Perrot? Claustrophilia has three unnamed tracks, #1 is arranged by Oscar Lewe, but nothing like the Vomir WW. It consists of gongs, echoes, and a stringed instrument playing some simple tunes; Grodock arranges tracks two and three; two is noisier, a part sounds like harsh processed, looped vocals, another metallic scrape, near silences and ambiences... three, very echoey ambiences... which again ends in some 'conventional' string sounds. Why 'arranged' and not made or produced? I've no idea, and none of how they relate to the Vomir, WW release. Is the point of HNW or even shit folk and aesthetic, or anti-aesthetic? Well, it must be the latter. If the former, it is empty. However, if we apply similar criteria to these two releases, I think we face an unresolvable answer. (jliat)
––– Address: https://grubenwehrfreiburg.bandcamp.com/album/advanced-symptoms-of-claustrophilia
––– Address: https://grubenwehrfreiburg.bandcamp.com/album/claustrophilia-2
REYNOLS - MINECXIOLOGÍA (book by Dobra Robota)
One of the absolute gems in Argentina's crown of avant-garde music is Reynols, a phenomenon, a force of nature and an unending reservoir of creative possibilities. The scope of musical and sound artistic breath and depth of imagination of Reynols, fronted by the utter genius Miguel Tomasin with Anla Courtis, and Roberto Conlazo, was recently evidenced by the epic box set Minecxio Emanations 1993-2018, as released by Lasse Marhaug's label Pica Disk. From a symphony by 10.000 chickens to percussion work on the Eiffel Tower, Reynols ranges from blistering conceptual oddness to noise-psych and kraut-drone, for example, in close and heartfelt collaborations with Pauline Oliveros and Acid Mothers Temple.
Somehow, even when there's so much material around – Discogs lists 68 releases – Reynols remains elusive, never aloof, but hard to pigeonhole, difficult to grasp. Hurray therefore, for 'Minecxiología', the first book dedicated to the band. The volume in bright orange covers is filled to the brim with anecdotes, oral histories, articles, quotes, press reviews, interviews and much more. And included are numerous pictures and a complete discography and bibliography around. Safe to say, this is THE book on Reynols.
Minecxiología recounts Reynols along the lines of seeing and hearing through the eyes of others, like Marc Masters and the aforementioned Pauline Oliveros. Others, furthermore, are exemplified too by press quotes in the original languages, including Greek, Dutch and Japanese.
Tomasin's non-philosophy / no-philosophy is presented through a Q and A of the very best sort if there ever was one. Tomasin swerves and ducks, takes aim and sucker punches with liberal ease and supreme swagger – a genius way of not answering and thus precisely being markedly on point.
Lengthy chapters on all the releases (with in-depth descriptions), TV appearances, etc., paint a vivid picture of the omnipresent force called Reynols. A force too, touring the world (several tour diaries are included), a force making friends. And so we get a picture gallery of friends loving Reynols, from Henry Rollins to Merzbow and from Keji Haino to Ric Ocasek.
Long story short: everyone loves Reynols as everyone should. For there is no band more deeply committed to open-ended and never-ending flows of creative energy than Reynols: a cosmic tornado, an authentic astral powerhouse. And quite possibly the best thing to come from Argentina since Borges (and Sabato). This book deserves a translation into English to all the world shall know of the one, the only, the stellar: Reynols. (SSK)
––– Address: https://dobrarobotaeditora.com/product/reynols-minecxiologia/