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GREG STUART - SUBTRACTIONS (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
MACHINEFABRIEK - '+' (CD by Machinefabriek)
NO HAY BANDA - I HAD A DREAM ABOUT THIS PLACE (2CD on No Hay Discos) *
MOVSES POGOSSIAN - HOMMAGE Ŕ KURTÁG (CD on New Focus Recordings) *
EREN GÜMRÜKÇÜOĞLU - PAREIDOLIA (CD by New Focus Recording) *
OHN EDWARDS & JOE MCPHEE – TELL ME HOW LONG HAS TRANE BEEN GONE (CD by Klanggalerie) *
MUZIEKKAMER - KAMERMUZIEK (CD by Korm Plastics) *
LUCA GIUOCO - COLLETTIVOINCONSCIO vol.1 (CD by Dissipatio) *
BRUNO DUPLANT - QUELQUES INSTANTS D'ÉTERNITÉ (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
SUNSHINE HAS BLOWN (LP by Pentiments) *
FROM A HARBOUR SOFTLY DRAWN/ANDREW WILD (LP by 4th Ward Private Press)
WALTER CAMPBELL - WALTER EGO (CDR by No Part Of It) *
LESLIE KEFFER - PERCEIVE (CDR by No Part Of It) *
XEREX - XEREX MEETS DRACULA (CDR by No Part Of It) *
BLOOD RHYTHMS - NORTHERN STATE (CDR by No Part Of It) *
T. MIKAWA DISSECTING TABLE – REVERBERATION (Cdr by UPD Organization) *
DISSECTING TABLE - LOSS OF CONTROL (Cdr by UPD Organization) *
DISSECTING TABLE - MORAL COLLAPSE (Cdr by UPD Organization) *
DAVID LEE MYERS - CEREMONIAL FIRES (CDR by Pulsewidth) *
OL UZ (CDR by Hegoa) *
THE GREEN KINGDOM - VOYAGER (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
MARTA MIST - EYES LIKE POOLS (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
GREG STUART - SUBTRACTIONS (CD by New Focus Recordings)
Greg Stuart is a percussionist "whose work explores various alternative percussion techniques, including sustained friction, gravity-based sounds via small grains, sympathetic vibration and electronic instruments". This release has two pieces that explore all of the above but for the electronics. Solo percussion is always a problematic field, as the original percussive role is in the rhythm section, whilst the sounds are more akin to everyday objects than musical instruments and not always so interesting. So it is hard to keep an audience's attention over an entire release.
Stuart works with two composers here, Sarah Hennies and Michael Pisaro(-Liu), with whom he has already worked—and seeing that he has quite an impressive back catalogue over the past approx. Fifteen years, you can expect well-thought-out compositions. Hennies' piece 'Border Loss' opens the release with a light, irregular rhythm of a snare drum, as if someone was shuffling along, maybe crossing borders. Metal sounds and bells are added and subside until things erupt into chaos of all kinds of percussive (metal) sounds. Again this gives way to relative quiet, and the piece moves through sparser cymbal sounds, then something that could be rain, then a coast-like atmosphere, where the journey ends.
Pisaro's work is divided into two movements. In contrast to Hennies, it relies on very much reduced instrumentation, the first part using drum and cymbal sounds, though seldom struck, mostly scraping, interspersed with a lot of silence - all at a very low level, like a distant thunderstorm, listening to which keeps you sitting on the edge of your sofa. Towards the end, there is more cymbal mayhem and the brass-like sound of vibrating membranes, reminding me of early symphonic industrialists such as In Slaughter Natives. Part 2 is far more outspoken, using vibraphone and glockenspiel. Obviously, the purity of sounds now becomes a primary element of the music, single notes interspaced with silence, the overtones and interferences ringing across the intervals between notes. This piece rolls along very steadily with little development, meditatively relying on the pure frequencies interacting. Something actually for meditation or very intense listening, as your mind will start wandering.... (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/
MACHINEFABRIEK - '+' (CD by Machinefabriek)
I have a confession to make, and it's a big one... Hold on to your chairs or whatever you're sitting on... Ready? I own and or know hardly any music by Machinefabriek. So, there it is. The secret is out. I don't know why, I don't know how, because let's face it, somebody with such a high output, frequent live appearances, gazillion collaborations, etc. You would think our paths would have crossed at some point, but... Nope. And while listening to this soon-to-be-released album '+', I don't know why because there are some mighty fine sounds to be found on this.
'+' is a 52-track album with 52 collaborations between Rutger and others. To copy-paste the list is useless - just go to Bandcamp and read them all there - but to pick out a few: soccer Committee, Dirk Serries, Gareth Davis, Fani Konstantinidou, Leafcutter John and Christine Ott. Names are frequently seen in the field of experimental music and sounds.
The concept of the album is as simple as it is complex. Each artist was asked to provide a 1-minute sound of any kind, That was the only limitation, and there were no further guidelines as to what the sound should be or contain. So with the above names as examples, you can imagine the variety of sounds that were sent in. From drum loops and ambience to machine sounds and field recordings; A cornucopia. The reason for creating the short tracks is the simple part. New dad Rutger needed short tracks to work on between caring for the baby. The difficult part is to be original 52 times and make sure all different tracks can be found on 'the same album', and this is something that actually surprised me a lot because, even with the enormous dynamics in the input of sound sources, Rutger managed to create an album with extreme uniformity.
One test is left for me, but I'm saving that for another moment. Will the uniformity remain if you put this album on 'random shuffle'. Or was the order of the tracks carefully chosen to create a flow where the dynamics were as they are now. Because if so, this is not one album, but this is many albums at once, and another dimension has been created. Well done dad! (BW)
––– Address: https://machinefabriek.bandcamp.com/
NO HAY BANDA - I HAD A DREAM ABOUT THIS PLACE (2CD on No Hay Discos)
No Hay Banda is not a completely new group. It was formed in 2016 by a number of Canadian (classical) musicians. The instrumentation is slightly 'off', with a violin, keyboards, percussion, a saxophone and trombone, and voice. On this double CD, they have compiled four pieces by contemporary Canadian composers, clocking in at 20 to 30 minutes each.
So, I sat down, took a cup of tea and braced myself for a toboggan ride of contemporary classical music. Wrong. The first CD starts, and it sounds like a crossing between Z'ev and Merzbow. Zeitkratzer plays Phallus Dei .... A composition by Anthony Tan that begins with a big unison wall of sound, to later break this down into phrases by single instruments, only to present another full chord, subsiding, etc. This is far removed from contemporary eclectic musical craft(wo)manship and instead very focused on the overall sound and big impact. Of course, it is difficult to keep a wall of the sound upright with classical instruments, so between veritable (make no mistake! and you do start counting the players ... no, there are only 6...) noise barrages of instruments and electronics, the instruments develop more individual lines. 'Rubber Houses' by Sabrina Schroeder is second and again starts with a noise part. This time horizontal, not vertical. It is a broad layer of percussive sounds strewn around a large room that gets noisier and noisier, until it evolves into a drone-like sound with a few percussive accents added. It ends on ultra-deep sine tones, matching industrial/electronic musical attempts.
CD starts with a composition by Andrea Young called 'A moment or two of panic'. Besides loving the Canadians for their wry humour, you also look forward to another stretch of industrial mayhem. Nevertheless, the tone changes. Voice is added, and the instruments develop more of their own lives, playing intertwined phrases alongside the soprano vocals. Nevertheless, over large parts of the track, the instruments sustain an atmosphere of menace, leaning more towards a 'noise' structure than conventional instrumental lines. The vocals 'float off' in a way, lingering above the musical plane. Though not as powerful as the other CD, the track still captures attention. The last piece, Mauricio Pauly's 'The difference is the building between us', starts with piercing sine tones that are transformed to a much lower pitch via an instrumental bridge. Still, the main impression is that of a noise wall, again, though based more on electronic (sine) sounds than the previous pieces. It breaks into something of a NoTo bleeping in the middle, before the acoustic instruments join again, and the track sways between sine bleeps and full-blast sound walls.
A really enjoyable release, proving again the creativity, savvyness, and musicianship of the Canadian music scene. (RSW)
––– Address: https://nohaydiscos.bandcamp.com/
MOVSES POGOSSIAN - HOMMAGE Ŕ KURTÁG (CD on New Focus Recordings)
Movses Pogossian is an Armenian-born violinist who, after graduating from Komitas Conservatory in Armenia and the Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music in Moscow, has spent most of his professional life in the U.S.A. since 1990, currently as an academic at UCLA. He had won several prestigious prizes as a young musician (the youngest to win the USSR National Violin Competition when he did so in 1985). He has worked closely with composer György Kurtág in the past, and this release is a rendition of Kurtág's 'Signs, Games and Messages'. But more than this, Pogossian also asked some contemporary composers to supply him with pieces that reflect the Kurtág piece. To which, again, a piece by Bartok and one by Kurtág are added. A somewhat cyclic release, you could say, being an hommage within an hommage, about an hommage.
The music itself is for solo violin. It is an intricate play with references (mainly to Bartok) using names, bits of melodies, style, and - not to forget - length of pieces, which are all very short, similar to the Bartok 'Microcosmos' and use a similar, Bach-like regular timing. Kurtág has released the music for 'Signs' in versions for several instruments, which adds to the confusion.
And similar to Bartok's Microcosmos, the music is somewhat and somehow based on Eastern European folk music, simply by referring to the Microcosmos, but takes it to a new level by adding elements of classical and contemporary classical music, played straight-forward as a violinist would. The four commissioned pieces are entirely different in approach. Though they still refer to the original material, in some sense, they explore the timbres and sounds of the violin in a completely different fashion. The pieces are hardly longer, but the Bartok/Bach regular timing dissolves into long-drawn notes and glissandi. The most extended piece is by Bartok, from a solo violin sonata. It remains in this more 'drawn' style, funnily enough. And finally, a work by Kurtág, 'Signs, Games and Messages: In Nomine – all’ongharese' takes up the Bartok approach again and wraps the whole 'Signs' beastiarum into a longer, epic piece.
This is for someone who likes to listen to solo violin music. It can get much within the first 15 original 'Signs' tracks. After that, the release turns a bit more varied and dramatically changes style. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/
EREN GÜMRÜKÇÜOĞLU - PAREIDOLIA (CD by New Focus Recording)
Eren Gümrükçüoğlu is a Turkish-born professional (jazz) guitarist, who also composes contemporary classical music. Whichever way round. This release collects 7 of his compositions, played by a variety of U.S.American ensembles. He calls them 'kinestethic chamber music', exploring the interplay of 'real' and electronic instruments, which is also at the core of his research at Miami University.
The release starts with a solo electronics piece, 'Pandemonium', delivered by the maestro himself. It could just as well be an ensemble piece, and it is fierce. It has electronics and instrument snippets floating above something that could be a Cream track backwards. There are elements of contemporary classical music here, but just as well, you sense 'rock' structures and experience in electronic sound design. The second piece, 'Paradolia', which gave the release its name, is a 'real instruments' piece for a quartet, expanded to a Septet by percussion, brass, and keyboards. This is the longest piece on the release (23 minutes) and takes time to explore the space between jazz-rock (mainly represented by the piano), contemporary classical, and electronic music. It's all there and woven together in an expert fashion that does not allow the attention to wander, even with this length of track. 'Bozkir' and 'Xanthos' are more 'traditional' new string quartets, whilst 'Ordinary Things' is all but ordinary. Played by a septet, you wonder which instruments this will bring - and hear a vocal contribution. Is someone speaking/declaring in... Turkish? (I can't tell) - and because you do not understand the language, it takes a completely different angle to the many 'eclectic' English texts read or sung to contemporary music. The music moves from jazz to circus music to septet dissonance in a decidedly 'different' fashion from what we normally hear.
'Lattice Scattering' is again an ensemble expanded by piano and violin. It is a pointillistic study of rays of sound, using the percussive elements of the piano versus mainly a flute and bells and percussion to create a 'jumpy' atmosphere. The final 11 minutes are 'Asansor Asi̇mptotu'. This track is pure electronics, delivered by Gümrükçüoğlu, and reminds us of early Kraftwerk in places, but also the digital sampling and restructuring using micro-samples. It moves between the initial Kraftwerk-like flute sounds to something resembling a drum solo, unravelling into mini-samples used as rhythmic elements and fading into white noise.
Definitely a fresh take to contemporary composing, with the very welcome background of the jazz musician feeding new elements into the mix. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/
JOHN EDWARDS & JOE MCPHEE – TELL ME HOW LONG HAS TRANE BEEN GONE (CD by Klanggalerie)
With German drummer Klaus Kugel, Edwards and McPhee toured Europe during 2017-2018. This trio work precedes the first live performance of Edwards and McPhee as a duo at the Artacts Festival in St.Johann in Tirol, Austria, on March 17th, 2019. Both are very experienced and gifted musicians. Edwards started his career as a member of B-Shops For the Poor and GOD. From 1995 onwards, he performed very frequently in combinations of improvised music. His collaborations are numerous, and he plays a lot on the European continent at festivals and small venues like Neeritter. Joe Mcphee is a veteran multi-instrumentalist from Florida who made his first recordings at the end of the sixties. He also played with many musicians during the decades, including Peter Brötzman, Evan Parker, Nihilist Spasm Band, Ken Vandermark, a.o. With Edwardson's double bass and McPhee playing tenor saxophone, the CD opens with a spoken introduction by McPhee. Speaking in an almost preaching way, he commemorates John Coltrane, who passed away when McPhee was about to start his career. ‘Tell me how long has Trane been gone’… It may evoke a reflective, nostalgic mood; the interplay between Edwards and Mcphee, however, is very much here and now, also in improvisation as ‘Whispers of Naima’, that references ‘Naima’ a jazz ballad of Coltrane from 1959. Both play on the edge and participate in a fresh musical dialogue that is full of ideas and intense. (DM)
––– Address: https://www.klanggalerie.com/
MUZIEKKAMER - KAMERMUZIEK (CD by Korm Plastics)
So there is this new CD released by Korm Plastics, who we all know. Not gonna dive deeper into Frans' label activities. Okay, maybe one thing: He once stated that he wasn't doing 'the label thing' anymore, and what do we have? Yep, a new release on his label. And when you listen to the music, you will understand why. This album is a re-release from an album way back, 1982, to be precise. A Dutch project called Musikkamer (tr: Music Room) did a cassette 40 years ago entitled "Kamermuziek" (tr: Chamber Music). It had never seen a re-release in those 40 years, while uncle Frans had the cassette high on his 'top 10 of albums that should be re-released in some form, because ...'
Now, the last week - while I should be reviewing other albums - I couldn't stop putting this one on repeat for several reasons. The first replay was because of 'What did I just hear'. Usually, when I review and the music is a bit ambient-ish, I play it while working, coding, soldering, or designing electronics. Background music to get acquainted with what I'm about to write about. With some reviews, one listen is enough, and I write, and I'm going to the next. With this one, I couldn't. So I had to replay it: 'What did I just hear'?
I stopped my activities and dove in headfirst without any diversion of any kind. Also, what I heard before opened up at a higher volume. The layers became much better, the composition started breathing, and a new environment was created. Music-wise, this album fits perfectly in the Ambient series from Brian Eno, and it even has moments where it seems to follow the aleatoric techniques used by Eno and Bowie on the 'Low'-album. But how could this release with this quality be hidden for so long? I had to listen again a few times... Maybe I could find the answer.
So I listened and re-listened to the CD and... I didn't find an answer to this last question. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. There is no reason why this album was restricted to a handful of cassettes, with music created by three unknown Dutch guys Cees van den Oever, his brother Martin, and Martin Keuning, independently released by themselves. So yes, it's now available digitally and on CD, remastered adequately by Peter van Vliet (Mekanik Kommando) and Raymond Steeg (Legendary Pink Dots). So this time, it's maybe the moment Muziekkamer's "Kamermuziek" will get the attention it deserves because it deserves a lot. This album is evidence that music is timeless. (BW)
––– Address: https://kormdigitaal.bandcamp.com/
LUCA GIUOCO - COLLETTIVOINCONSCIO vol.1 (CD by Dissipatio)
In the same issue, BW discusses a release by Machinefabriek, created with sound segments received from musical friends. Luca Giuoco, of whom I had not heard, does something similar. He collected a bunch of sound fragments, snippets more like, from a ton of Italian musicians. I only recognized a few names, Svart1, Luca Sigurta, Heimito Künst, and Gianluca Becuzi. All this collaboration through the mail (e-mail, file sharing or what have you) has its roots in the world of mail art and the Exquisite Corpse. I start work, and you add to it, and then a third one. This can be repeated in any sort of order. Here it is one person working his hands on the material of others. If you took part in this, it would be fun to try and find your sounds. If not, you remain an outsider, like I am one here, and you're stuck with the result of Giucco's mixing. You can wonder about the importance of knowing this contains many sounds. In nine pieces spanning forty-six minutes, Giucco produces some exciting pieces of electronic music. Sometimes we recognize a church bell and voices, but most of the time, the music is rather electronic and abstract. It is interesting to hear sounds return in different places and new contexts. Giuoco does a solid job at creating dark and atmospheric soundscapes. There are quite a few drones and several samples, which sounds pretty attractive. One thing that struck me is that Giuoco managed to create a rather coherent album from the many fragments he received. It doesn't come with too many surprises, though and perhaps, as such, it is also a bit interchangeable with other records of soundscaping. (FdW)
––– Address: https://dissipatio.bandcamp.com/
BRUNO DUPLANT - QUELQUES INSTANTS D'ÉTERNITÉ (CD by Moving Furniture Records)
Things have been quiet for Bruno Duplant for at least a few weeks, but there is a new CD. Once again, a CD with a single piece of music, around forty-seven minutes, and as usual, with all the mystery intact. I still know next to nothing about the man and his modus operandi. I haven't figured out whether that is good or bad. With the number of releases he has, it would be good to know a few things, at least. In his music, the (church) organ plays an essential role. Mentioned are also "natural & electronic devices" and that it is the first part of a new trilogy, "always imbued with a certain mysticism and a deep melancholy, but, this time, more luminous, carrying a hope still possible". Mysticism, indeed. The church organ is one of the instruments one easily relates to religion, being holed up in a church. As before, I have only a minimal idea about the techniques used by Duplant, but an estimated guess would be that he has various recordings from the church organ and that there is some playback in a church, doubling, tripling (etc.) of the organs, all along adding space and decay to the music. Whereas in the beginning, it all sounds pretty straightforward, like a church organ, as we dig deeper, along the way, the edges start to decay and crumble, like centuries of dust, once in the sky at the cathedral, trickle down and cover the organ with more dust. A refined disappearance act, if you will. Yet, there is no vanishing point, the organ always remains present, and in the final eight minutes, the veil is slowly pulled away, and the organ becomes more visible again. This is another excellent work by Bruno Duplant in a long line of great results. (FdW)
––– Address: https://movingfurniturerecords.bandcamp.com/
SUNSHINE HAS BLOWN (LP by Pentiments)
Because this is a re-issue, I looked up if I had reviewed this before. It was not a strange thing for me to do, as its original release is from 2006, on a CDR. I had not reviewed it, but something else occurred: there was a time when the name Joel Stern popped up more than it does nowadays. I have no idea why that is. The LP contains four pieces, with these also on the CD, plus another three previously unreleased tracks. Joel Stern (electronics, violin, guitar, mbira, trumpet, objects) and Adam Park (reel-to-reel tapes, electronics) are on all four pieces (as mentioned on the cover; there are no specific credits for the additional three pieces). There are a few guests, such as Velvet Pesu (cello, mbira, percussion and Joe Musgrove (turntable, voice, objects) on one track (though not the same). That's it about the information behind the music. The music is along the lines of electro-acoustic improvisation, blurring lines between objects and instruments. It isn't easy to figure out what is what here. There are long stretches within the four main pieces that make up the LP, in which I hear very little reel-to-reel tapes and electronics but quite a bit of the various instruments. Throughout, the pace is slow and rather majestically. Stern and Park aren't there to shock and awe the listener or to cause chaos. Sometimes the music reaches for something non-Western, especially when the mBira plays a more significant role. The electronics imitating field recordings add to the atmosphere in these places. But simultaneously, the music is still firmly rooted within improvised music. Oddly enough, at times, with pretty consecutive rhythms, perhaps, not like improvised music. No doubt the use of tape-loops adds another sense of rhythm to these pieces, or even, at times, a different kind of musicality, more structures and more organisation. You could think the album leaps back and forth between these ends, but it's not. I thought of the music that it was strangely coherent, whatever way it went, and that was the great thing about it. Music that defies categorisation always has my strong attention. Indeed a well-deserved re-issue. (FdW)
––– Address: https://pentiments.bandcamp.com/
FROM A HARBOUR SOFTLY DRAWN/ANDREW WILD (LP by 4th Ward Private Press)
The inaugural release from the curiously named 4th Ward Private Press sees the likewise oddly named From A Harbour Softly Drawn on a split LP with Andrew Wild. The first is the new music project from Scotland's Fraser McGowan. Before he called himself Caught In The Wake Forever, with releases on The Archives, Dronarivm and Fluid Audio. I have not heard of any of these, I think. Andrew Wild is the man behind Crow Versus Crow. I know his label, and I'm unsure if I have heard any of his music before. Both have a side-long piece of music. From A Harbour Softly Drawn sees a delicate combination of synthesizers and, so we're told, guitars and modular electronics. For all I know, it could have all modular electronics. Throughout 'Blank Spots', a repeating bass sound is not too much in the foreground but rather a beacon on this otherwise calm sea of sounds. This is a damn fine piece of music. Nothing special, nothing exceptional, just good quality minimal and atmospheric electronics.
On the other hand, Andrew Wild's music is entirely different. His 'TEKEL (Seven Sisters) is a collage of field recordings from various places, such as the Sowerby Bridge, Rochdale, and Reykjavik, using a Zoom H2 recorder. The music has no further electronic treatment, no effects or processing, but is stuck together in a DAW and mixed accordingly. Many of these sounds are hard to trace back to their origins, save birds here and there. Other sounds remind me of rubbing objects together very close to the microphone. Save for a tiny bit of noise at the end of the piece, this is all tranquil music, yet always audible. I am not sure what to make of this. Also not much of a surprise, I am not too much enamoured by this. A solid collage of sounds this it is indeed, but which also left me somewhat indifferent. (FdW)
––– Address: http://4thward.bandcamp.com
WALTER CAMPBELL - WALTER EGO (CDR by No Part Of It)
LESLIE KEFFER - PERCEIVE (CDR by No Part Of It)
XEREX - XEREX MEETS DRACULA (CDR by No Part Of It)
BLOOD RHYTHMS - NORTHERN STATE (CDR by No Part Of It)
A series of recent releases by the No Part Of It label introduces me to many new names. Let me start with what I consider the weakest link, spoiler, I know. Walter Campbell was, in the 90s, a vocalist for various "goth industrial, alternative, and punk bands", but in 2014 he picked up playing ambient and experimental music. Please don't get my weakest link wrong. This isn't a bad album, but I thought not every track was a winner. This is because the album is quite uneven, and I believe that is the musician's intention. There is a piece of music here, 'it follows you, followed by the moments before it catches you', which borders on the level of being inaudible, perhaps the sound of an empty sampler. This is followed by 'Edward Scissorman', which breaks the previous spell quite loudly. Here we have a staccato piano bit rattling minimally. Followed by 'Your Suffering Is Our Inconvience', which is not as quiet as the first piece of empty sampler music (my perception of sources used, not something I gathered from the information), and has a great isolationist music ring to it. In other pieces, he plays around with more obvious synthesizer sounds, recorded a bit too loud with some evidently unnecessary distortion. Thus the album meanders about with ideas and textures, some great, some not too convincing. I am not sure about this, but I give it the benefit of the doubt.
'Perceive' is Leslie Keffer's first full-length album. First, she uses her voice, next to radios, synthesizers, beats and sounds. I read that information after hearing her album, so that bit of information came as a surprise, as that's not how I perceived (pun intended) the music. Maybe she uses a lot of processing to alter the voice, which stretches out into dense, atmospheric music clouds. Along with spacious synthesizer tones, this works very well. Only occasionally, she uses beats, such as in 'Quake', which is a slow bass drum sort of loop going in the background of the piece. That's how she does in the other pieces with rhythm as well. The foreground she uses to play the myriad of drones. The rhythm also brings some variation to the album, which works very well. Instead of several pure drone-based pieces, there is now a distinction within the material. There are four pieces on the CDR, but in the download, four more could, for all I know, have been on the CDR anyway. It still fits. Of all the pieces, 'Mourning' is the only one that is obviously built from various layers of voice material and has that mournful quality. Keffer's pieces are long, averaging nine minutes, but each holds my attention throughout, and when the album was over, I pressed play again and went right back in. Great stuff.
Maybe 'Xerex meets Dracula' is a bit of a silly title? Behind the name, we find the "anonymous musical project by brothers Karl & Jan from rural Jesse, Germany". Also mentioned are "They're conjoined twins who also happened to have been grown in a petri dish as elderly mathematicians in 1972". Well, make what you will of that. Maybe it's a surrealist thing that I fail to understand. They have fourteen pieces on what is called "their first "invisible story" in the spirit of "choose your own adventure"-style novels", which, again, I find puzzling. But I enjoy the music, which is a good thing. Their work is within the field of drone music. Although no such information is available, I would think this is of the variety in which there is an organ sound, from perhaps a cheap variety available, and of which the sound runs through some effect pedals. The sound might have been recorded using a set of microphones and an amplifier. Maybe Xerex uses samples of organ drones, as some pieces have that slightly rotating effect of shorter loops. The music is quite direct. It starts and usually ends crudely, and within a piece, there is not necessarily a lot of development. Yet, some of these pieces' minimalism and the more direct, in-your-face approach are quite enjoyable. The simple method certainly works quite well, I think. Unlike the Walter Campbell album, which is also robust, the variation here worked better, and the leaps in dynamics weren't that big.
The only name I recognized was Blood Rhythms, this time a duo of label boss Arvo Zylo and Jason Lazer. Two pieces, both nineteen minutes and fifty seconds, this is LP-length music. There were exactly five copies available of the vinyl edition. More drone music, a bit along the lines of Xerex. A straightforward organ sound, being ornamented with sound effects. A bit of delay, reverb and such (best not to speculate too much; I don't know much about such things). The first side is called 'A', and the second '∀'. I hope that works out in the email version. There are short fades around the piece's corners, and then, once the train leaves the station, it is a very steady ride. I think, confused by a state of trance, I guess, that nothing much changed here, especially on the first side. The second side is clearly an extension of the first but denser and a bit muffled. I thoroughly enjoyed both pieces, being the big sucker for this kind of minimalist drone. I'd choose the second side over the first if I had to pick a preference. They're both great, but I enjoyed the obscurity of the second, which was utterly vague and stunning. A very consistent concept is what Blood rhythms executed here. (FdW)
––– Address: https://nopartofit.bandcamp.com/
T. MIKAWA DISSECTING TABLE – REVERBERATION (Cdr by UPD Organization)
DISSECTING TABLE - LOSS OF CONTROL (Cdr by UPD Organization)
DISSECTING TABLE - MORAL COLLAPSE (Cdr by UPD Organization)
Ichiro Tsuji is Dissecting Table, and the two releases are of 6 tracks each, as is the 'split', three of each contributor. Details of tracks can be found here https://www.discogs.com/release/22187278-T-Mikawa-Dissecting-Table-Reverberation, https://www.discogs.com/release/24428195-Dissecting-Table-Loss-Of-Control, https://www.discogs.com/release/24216188-Dissecting-Table-Moral-Collapse. As no examples are available, I will give a brief description, which raises an interesting issue within the noise genre. T. Mikawa - Sound Of Typoglycemia Parts 1-3. Walls of harsh noise, screams, pitches, maybe found sound, computer chirps, all overall high pitches, very chopped up and fairly uniform. “Typoglycemia (a portmanteau of typo and hypoglycemia) is a neologism for a purported discovery about the cognitive processes involved in reading text. The principle is that readers can comprehend text despite spelling errors and misplaced letters in words. It is an urban legend and Internet meme that only appears correct.” - wiki. Not sure of the relevance as in no way could I hear anything 'meaningful' or even distinctive structures or forms within which representation could take place, maybe then 'ironic'? Dissecting Table's first track is made of dense static in the bass frequencies in frenzied blocks and bursts, with some rhythms emerging from what appears an improvised work, the second very similar but with some higher pitches present, and even more so in the final piece. The first four tracks of Loss of Control consist of works in which rapidly changing high-pitched squeaks and squawks, whistles and chirrups of oscillators occasionally loop and sometimes have two or three more sparse short sections. The 5th track has a similar structure but a much lower pitch as if the previous work has been pitch-shifted. The final track returns to the higher tones and exhibits cheap computer game sounds such as you might hear walking around an amusement arcade full of such things. The first three tracks on Moral Collapse continue in the same sound textures, track four is higher pitched (shifted), five lower, and finally, six, which is back to the 'normal' arcade game sounds mash-up. Like many noise releases, the titles (look up on Discogs), like many noise releases, seem arbitrary, as their differences are not reflected in the sounds. So this 'interesting issue'? that I recall at some seminar someone who had attempted to 'score' such noise works. And after consideration, the consensus was that it was almost impossible or was impossible, the scores becoming abstract drawings, anyone familiar the some of the avant-garde scores of mid 20thc music will be familiar. Obviously, the scoring of music, which can be defined by discrete notes and on discrete instruments, is possible, as is midi implementation. Noise cannot be so 'transposed'. The 'instructional' pieces of Stockhausen and Yoko Ono offer some scope for defining improvisation, but again could this be done concerning noise, where the subjectivity of translating graphics into sounds is such as to be arbitrary? As mentioned above, analogies like 'rusty chain' or arcade game sounds are possible. But the inability to 'score' a noise performance is interesting. I've always thought noise related synesthetic to abstract expressionist painting, but again there is no direct correspondence; other, might I suggest that noise like such painting depends purely on the material, paint or electronics (etc.), and thus might be regarded as not just abstract, but purer, more 'real' than music or pictures with lend themselves to transfer into other media. (jliat)
––– Address: http://lucky-yoron-7564.pigboat.jp
DAVID LEE MYERS - CEREMONIAL FIRES (CDR by Pulsewidth)
To be still surprised is a great thing. I heard a lot of music by David Lee Myers under that name and his moniker Arcane Device. Some in the past few weeks (even last week) were all along the lines of what one expects. Serious works of drone music, sometimes louder, sometimes more complex, lean heavily on modular electronics and self-generating sound systems. Then 'Ceremonial Fires' arrived. Nothing short of a total blast here. First of all, these thirteen pieces are short and to the point. Of course, that says nothing about the music, which might be similar. But for the lack of a better word, I'd say David Lee Myers attempts to play 'songs', as in 'pop songs'. I have no idea why there is a radical change like this, but Myers works with rhythms, sampled voices, sampled everything, and stuck together to be a good song. Not every piece works out great, but this is certainly something that I haven't heard from the man before. A bit techno-ish but avoids all too simplistic beats; in fact, none of this aims at the dance floor but is well suited for a proper sit-down and listening session. In each of these pieces, a lot is happening. On the surface, the front-end of the piece and in the background, Myers creates a dense field that never blurs. It is always open and spacious, and much care for the more minor details of the music. I have no idea if this is a one-off change of direction or something Myers will explore further in the future. Obviously, I hope the last will be the next route for him. There is a lot of new territories to explore here, and the road is wide open. (FdW)
––– Address: https://davidleemyers.bandcamp.com/
OL UZ (CDR by Hegoa)
Large, empty places attract musicians; it's almost a law. In October 2021, Luis André, a trumpet player and vocalist Ibon Rodriguez (also known as Ibonrg), went to a concrete, abandoned water tower armed with five microphones. After setting these up, they recorded a session together. These recordings, they edited into twelve movements, as they call it. They cleverly make use of the space and the natural reverb it provides. It allows them to be quiet sometimes, allowing their sounds to die beyond their sustain. Their improvised music is entirely free, with the trumpet sounding like a trumpet, and the voice is a deep grunt, slow and majestical, but Ibonrg also sings at times. He, too, reaches for the possibilities of the natural reverb present in this space. There is excellent interaction between the players, a call and response if they enact you. I envisage this place to be big, so maybe they were in areas where they couldn't see each other, and there was only communication through the music. Only minimal different sounds are heard; in 'Lob Lob', there were a few water sounds, but otherwise, it is just the trumpet and the voice, I think. I wouldn't call this easy listening music, as it requires quite a bit of your attention before it unfolds its beauty. The CDR comes in a carton box with leaves from the area. (FdW)
––– Address: https://hegoadiskak.bandcamp.com/
THE GREEN KINGDOM - VOYAGER (CDR by Sound In Silence)
MARTA MIST - EYES LIKE POOLS (CDR by Sound In Silence)
From the powerhouse of ambient music, more great music. For The Green Kingdom, the musical project of Michael Cottone, this is the third album for this Greek label (see also Vital Weekly 1282, 1147) and the fifth I have heard (see also Vital Weekly 921 and 1059). The guitar is his favourite instrument, and Cottone plays it elegantly. There are quite some slide guitar parts here, and the added electronics are gentle. A bit of rhythm, ticking time away, but never firmly in the foreground; a few crackles, some drones, no doubt from some kind of synthesizer and, as usual, The Green Kingdom's music is less dark than many of his peers on this label, or in ambient in general. I like that light touch the music has, as it offers something different. Light but always touched by some melancholy. Maybe it is the unusually warm weather here in January making it feel like early spring. The theme is the spacecraft Voyager, and it's to hear that in the music. I blame it on reverb, adding space to the music. Cottonne uses the reverb with great care, never too much, which is a fine thing. Twelve pieces, mostly around three to four minutes, each being a well-painted picture. Excellent mood music.
This is a spoiler alert, also something that can be said of the music of Marta Mist. This is a duo of Gavin Miller (who one might also know as worriedaboutsatan) and Sophie Green, an ex-member of Her Name Is Calla). They have existed since 2010, and 'Eyes Like Pools' is the third full-length album. Mod and melancholy are key elements here, but unlike The Green Kingdom, it is all much darker. The two play guitar, violin, and a bit of piano, adding a dash of electronics, some bass and field recordings. I couldn't pinpoint this, but the overall feeling goes out to post-rock (hold on, the first piece is called 'Godspeed, Little Doodle', so maybe that was a sign?). Maybe the glissandi played on the violin(s). Below that is a dark drone, a feeling of a haunted house. Throughout these five pieces, there is a great sense of a soundtrack. Two pieces are around fourteen minutes; two are two minutes, and one six. That's a bit of an odd pairing, I think. The longer tracks work best for me. It's here where they take the time to slowly build their music and gently let events evolve. Gentle and haunting. In the shorter piece, of which that doodle is one, they don't grab me that much, and these are, indeed, doodles. But the longer tracks, three-quarters of the album, are absolute bliss, with the best at the ending; 'We Have Business To Attend To' is soaring and almost made me cry. That rarely happens! (FdW)
––– Address: https://soundinsilencerecords.bandcamp.com/