Vital Weekly, the webcast: we offer a weekly webcast,
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of the releases reviewed. It will remain on the site for a
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RLW & RICHARD FRANCIS - R (CD by Auf Abwegen) *
ADRIANNE MUNDEN-DIXON - LUNG (CD by Gold Bolus) *
YANNIS KYRIAKIDES – AMIANDOS (CD by Unsounds) *
R. IWANSKI - TRANSFORMATIONS 1 (CD by Gustaff Records) *
YOUNGSO NO - JST: SOLAR NOON, KYOTANGO: SUMMER SOLSTICE, AKASHI: WINTER SOLSTICE (CD by Immeasurable) *
EIKI MORI - STOLEN SCARS (CD by Immeasurable) *
CHIHO OKA & AOI TAGAMI - THE BEST CONCERT EVER BY CHIHO OKA AND AOI TAGAMI (CD by Ftarri) *
YOSHIKI ICHIHARA & NAOKI NOMOTO - LIVE AT FTARRI (CD by Ftarri) *
TAIZO HIDA & SATOKO INOUE - OF RAIN (CD by Ftarri Classical) *
TOMOKI TAI - PARAPHRASE ON SHICHIKUSHOSHINSHU  (CD by Ftarri Classical) *
ZHAO CONG & ZHU WENBO - WERE SOME SOUND DAYS, ONE SEPARATELY BE PLACED (CD by Ftarri) *
GEINS'T NAÏT & SCANNER & LAURENT PETITGAND - OLA (CD by Ici D'Ailleurs) *
HAARVÖL - SEEKING THE INTIMACY OF SILENCE (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
XENOFOX - THE GARDEN WAS EMPTY (CD by Audio Semantics) *
LINA ALLEMANO FOUR - PIPE DREAM (CD by Lumo Records) *
CACHALOT (LP by Aussenraum Records) *
EDWARD KA-SPEL - PERMISSION TO LEAVE THE TEMPLE (10" by Lumberton Trading Company)
DAVE FUGLEWICZ - SELECTED WORKS 1990-1997 (CDR by No Part Of It) *
SHARKIFACE - CLIMAX IN A PROCESS (CDR by No Part Of It) *
KORM MERZ/MERZ - INFECTION (cassette compilation by Korm Plastics D) *
RLW & RICHARD FRANCIS - R (CD by Auf Abwegen)
In 2013, Richard Francis travelled from his hometown Auckland to Worpswede, where he was invited for a residency. He did a stop-over in various places to work, such as Worm (Rotterdam), Extrapool (Nijmegen), and the German town of Eggenstein, where he met Ralf Wehowsky, also known as RLW. They spend two days together recording music. Francis, at the time, had a small mobile modular synthesizer, some electronics, and RLW behind his desktop and laptop. Both systems were connected via in- and outputs. Of the three pieces, the two longer ones were recorded in September 2013, and I assume they also mixed these at the same time; perhaps we could see this as live-in-the-studio music. The third piece, 'Piece 3', is a recomposition by RLW, using the original recordings from 2013. As I hear the two longer pieces, I wonder whether that live-in studio thing results from extensive editing and mixing of an improvised recording. In all honesty, I couldn't say which it is. It has that complexity that we know from RLW, the aspect of multi-layered sound, the collage approach we know from musique concrète, a world of music to which RLW owes much. Francis modular electronics move around like snowflakes, like corroded spaceships, or simply recall what we call 'early electronics'. The collage principles are no strangers to both men, although more applied by RLW than Francis (certainly in recent times), and it takes the material all over the place. The rusty spaceship and explosions of dark matter cause massive disruption, as noise isn't kept out of the equation. These two long pieces make up for a bumpy ride, neatly going all over the place, from strict noise to sheer silence, from densely orchestrated nightmares to single lines floating about. In the 2020 rework of the source material, some of the density of the 2013 material disappears, and it all becomes an opener. Here the music becomes almost like a cosmic synthesizer scape or something working with sine waves. I was surprised this piece was the opener of the CD, but because it's over seven minutes and much shorter than the other two, the spaciousness of this piece works very well as an introduction to what's coming.
In my Thursday Afternoon Talk (link below), Jos Smolders and I talk about a previous RLW release, 'Satanic Inventions' (Vital Weekly 1365) and I mention that RLW doesn't seem too prolific in recent years. My mistake: take a look at his releases on Discogs and you'll see otherwise. (FdW)
––– Address: https://aufabwegen.bandcamp.com/
more about RLW in our Thursday Afternoon Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iXmD7tnxkg
ADRIANNE MUNDEN-DIXON - LUNG (CD by Gold Bolus)
This album arrived some weeks ago, and I have already heard (bits of) it a couple of times. Every time I put it aside, thinking that I would return to it one day. I kept postponing it because the music sounded so modern and classical. This is odd, maybe, as in each of the six pieces, there is also electronic sound material composed by David Bird, Carrie Frey, Maria Kaoutzani, Phong Tran, Cassie Wieland, and Munden-Dixon herself. Adrianne Munden-Dixon is a violinist, improviser and composer living in Montreal and New York. She is a founding member of Desdemona and has recently worked with the JACK Quartet, Cassie Wieland, Phong Tran, Raphaël Foisy-Couture, Leo Chang, and more. Every time I play this album, I enjoy what I hear, but I also find it hard to say something sensible about it. One of my shortcomings, I guess, is discussing modern composed music. I am not sure how the collaborations were conducted here. Somehow I assume she got these electronic pieces from these composers, and on top of that, she recorded her violin playing. On top means indeed on top. If you only listen superficially, the violin plays a bigger role in the music. In various pieces, I heard very little by way of electronics unless I am missing something here. Sometimes there is a doubling of sound, but is that electronic? Maybe, in the case of looping, it is. That side of this release remains a bit of a mystery for me. That said, I quite enjoy the music, even when I feel I am not qualified to say anything about it. It all sounds very classical to me, modern and, erm, classical at times, which is not exactly the kind of music I know much about. The music is joyful, abundant, vibrant and, at times, melancholic and sad. Maybe the reader is none the wiser? Join my world. But, when in doubt, check it out yourself. You might be as pleasantly surprised as I was. (FdW)
––– Address: https://goldbolus.com/
YANNIS KYRIAKIDES – AMIANDOS (CD by Unsounds)
I have known Kyriakides by name but never really took the time to listen to his repertoire, which is a shame because he is quite a capable, versatile and prolific composer. His website gives an excellent overview of the many works he wrote (this is opus nr. 160). I saw him perform a piece in my hometown in 2021, which was also very impressive. And if that’s not enough, he also started the music label Unsounds in 2001. Not knowing much about his work, I took the time to browse his catalogue. I noticed that most of Kyriakides’ catalogue is either for instrumentalists and vocalists or a combination of these mixed with electronics.
This release is actually a suite. And I think it’s Kyriakides’ most personal work. The album features a series of works based on a central theme: the Amiandos mines in Cyprus, where asbestos is won. The liner notes tell us that a few generations of Kyriakides’ family worked in and around that mine during the 20th century.
Each track reflects a specific historical or social aspect of Amiandos. The opening track, 'Side Of The Mountain' and 'Cotttonestone' immediately brought me back to Paul De Marinis’ “Music As A Second Language”. First, because of the vocal treatment and, in 'Thin Dust', the crackling sound of the wax roll player. Both tracks immediately give a sense of days past. A bit sentimental, but it all serves a purpose. It’s not sentimentality for its own sake. Musically, it all works wonderfully well. 'Cotttonestone' evolves into a more steady pulse where the old piano hammers itself into the contemporary world.
The tracks on this CD progress at a slow and steady pace, which adds to a contemplative and sometimes even majestic atmosphere. That doesn’t mean that it is quiet or ambient music. Some of the sounds are particularly abrasive. Sound sources are directly related to the island and/or the mine. The electronics are absolutely fitting.
It’s a great album to be listened to in a quiet mood. It tells various stories. The only point of criticism I have is that the sound levels should have been given a bit more attention. At the start of 'Cottonstone', I jumped up to turn down the volume because it was suddenly much louder than the previous ones. But in conclusion, I can certainly recommend this album. (JS)
––– Address: https://unsounds.com/
R. IWANSKI - TRANSFORMATIONS 1 (CD by Gustaff Records)
You may know the name R. Iwanski from his solo project X-NAVI:ET, or from various groups he's a member of, such as Voices Of The Cosmos, Hati or Kapital and Innercity, the latter two of which he is no longer a member. Percussion always played a significant role in his music, and he works with African instruments. For about ten years, he wished to work with instruments like zanza, kalimba, zanzula, rattles and other ideophones and incorporate them within his electronic music. In that department, he uses an analogue bass synthesizer, soma laboratory effects, Strymon, hard wire, Boss Moog, etc. Iwanski is also a scholar on the subject of ethnology. I would say, in general, that in his music, electronics and percussion are on an equal level. None of these pieces is purely rhythmic in the traditional sense, as Iwanski amplifies these and sometimes stretches the sound out. One aspect I didn't like about this music is the stretching and reverb usage. I like it when he keeps his instruments in rhythm, a bit amplified, reminding me of Konono No.1 (but entirely instrumental). There is an electro-acoustic element in this music through the use of sound effects and loops, making this all partly ambient (an area of music Iwanski is well versed in), but it never becomes all too mellow. The album is 'in memoriam Jon Hassell', and it's not difficult to see why. The expanding of non-Western instruments, using electronics and creating atmospheric sound tapestries is something that Hassell inspired Iwanski, I'd say. But Iwanski is also quite industrial, such as in the over-long 'Hyper-Continuum'. Not every track is a winner, but I thought this was the most enjoyable and strange album. (FdW)
––– Address: https://gusstaff.com/
YOUNGSO NO - JST: SOLAR NOON, KYOTANGO: SUMMER SOLSTICE, AKASHI: WINTER SOLSTICE (CD by Immeasurable)
EIKI MORI - STOLEN SCARS (CD by Immeasurable)
The Japanese Immeasurable Records have consistent, transparent packaging printed on plastic. The music they release is usually found in the world of sound art and is conceptual. These two are further proof of that. Youngso No's piece deals with (warning, long quote ahead): "Solar noon is the time when the Sun appears to contact the local celestial meridian. This is when the Sun reaches its apparent highest point in the sky, at 12-noon apparent solar time. *However the local or clock time of solar noon depends on the longitude and date. The summer solstice is the day with the longest period of daylight of the year. The winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight of the year. Time and Space, UTC and JST, North and South, East and West, Left and Right, Here and There, Long and Short, Sea and Land." His piece (one on the CD, cut into four on Bandcamp) has a recording on the left channel of the summer solstice, and the winter solstice heard on the right channel. Exact geographical locations are provided for these locations, however, it's a bit unclear what were the deciding factors for these locations. They are in Japan, Kyoto and Hyogo. There is a strict left/right separation in this piece. Basically, this is a field recording from two places you'll simultaneously or apart if you choose to listen to the channels separately. It's a field recording in which not a lot happens. On one channel, I hear children play, and the other is a more obscured wind/bird recording. I have no idea if this is intended to be a Zen-sort of meditative listening experience, but it worked that way for me. One of those is either early morning (me) or late at night (maybe you) listening experiences where one can decide to use it as background music and hear it consciously or not. Good or bad are not terms that apply to this, but I found the experience one that I enjoyed.
Also on the CD by Eiki Mori, we find one long piece cut into six on Bandcamp. Here we find an installation piece (five-channel) from the Takamatsu Art Museum exhibition, "Takamatsu Contemporary Art Annual vol.10 There Is No Boundaries Here./?” At the core of the piece is a text, “There is a boy who has been deeply hurt, heartbroken and has not recover yet. You can’t talk to him or rub his back. Instead, you can only ring this bell for him.” He sent the text and a handbell to friends and asked them to record it. These were looped and spread out over the five speakers. The booklet (English) has a discussion between Mori and Koichi Miyazaki, a certified clinical psychologist and certified psychologist, about " the current state of male injury and sexual abuse, long considered an invisible issue within gender norms". Like the No piece, this is minimal, but 'Stolen Scars' works on a much different level. Not just because of the story behind it but also on a more musical level. Despite the heavy subject, this piece of music can also be enjoyed on a more aesthetic level. The bells ring with irregular intervals; I think no interaction is repeated here, and yet, because it is the same sound source throughout, it all sounds the same. One can play this piece meditatively; that's what I did. It worked better when it gently filled my space and was not invasive. The piece we hear comes from the space in which it sounded, so there is occasionally 'other' sound as well, which adds to the musical quality of the piece. Here music and concept go together very well, making a wonderful release. Luckily the booklet isn't printed on transparent, so it's easier to read. (FdW)
––– Address: https://immeasurable.bandcamp.com/
CHIHO OKA & AOI TAGAMI - THE BEST CONCERT EVER BY CHIHO OKA AND AOI TAGAMI (CD by Ftarri)
YOSHIKI ICHIHARA & NAOKI NOMOTO - LIVE AT FTARRI (CD by Ftarri)
TAIZO HIDA & SATOKO INOUE - OF RAIN (CD by Ftarri Classical)
TOMOKI TAI - PARAPHRASE ON SHICHIKUSHOSHINSHU  (CD by Ftarri Classical)
ZHAO CONG & ZHU WENBO - WERE SOME SOUND DAYS, ONE SEPARATELY BE PLACED (CD by Ftarri)
Hold on, didn't I already just review five releases by the Ftarri label? Yes, two weeks ago, and now there are five more releases. This confirms my pet theory that modern music, improvisation, jazz and free jazz are the only areas in which physical sell as never before. A superficial glance taught me that all of these are new names, and I started with this lot's most curious title: ' The Best Concert Ever By Chiho Oka and Aoi Tagami'. That certainly holds a promise. Oka is a computer musician, and Tagami is a voice artist who also plays songs with lyrics of her own making and music; here, she also plays electric guitar. On January 3, 2021, they played a new years concert at Ftarri. There is first a twenty-two minute improvised piece and then 'Hanafuda Game', in which each musician draws a 'hanafuda' card and, "the two simultaneously performed separate pieces inspired by words written on their respective cards". In their improvisation, the two musicians have the carefully constructed silent approach for which this label is known. Silence and sound interact in such a way that there is a bit of both. Tagami controls her screaming in a reduced manner. 'Hanafuda Game' contains spoken words (translation provided with the CD). This is a strange piece of songs (yes, songs!), which go hand in unrelated hands with sounds interrupted by spoken words. This is more akin to a Fluxus piece, I think, and perhaps worked better if you saw the action. Surely one of the stranger concerts, but the best?
'Live in Ftarri' (tripling its functions as a store, label, and concert space) is the synthesizer of Yoshiki Ichihara and the computer/synthesizer by Naoki Nomoto. This sort of instrument aren't unusual in the Ftarri world, but as a duet, perhaps, it is. I think that both players use a modular synthesizer. The music is not very Ftarri-like, if there is such a thing. It is sometimes quite noisy, with sounds scratching and bursting. It's not very quiet or contemplative, as it is hectic and nervous most of the time. Maybe I'm getting a bit tired of the whole modular synthesizer thing, especially when it arrives in a fully free improvisation set. Or rather, maybe the free improvisation is not my cupper, not even when performed on a set of modules. Ftarri rarely disappoints me, but here they do.
.Then it's time for some quiet music. Piano music was composed by Taizo Hida (1972) and performed by Satoko Inoue. The titles take inspiration from poets such as Setsuko Tsuji and E.E. Cummings. In his composition technique, he uses random numbers. The cover text tells us a lot more, among others, about "sounds that pass quickly, and sounds that are played in a slow, unhurried way". Strangely, this album is also something that might be considered unusual for Ftarri. Sure, the music is quiet and calls for contemplation, taking cues from Debussy or Satie. Still, its structured compositions are, perhaps, not something we associate this label with, but this is a release as Ftarri Classical. As much as I love to say something sensible (in general or about specific things), the music here is very much in the field of modern classical music, so there is not always too much Debussy or Satie. However, I couldn't say what it was. That says nothing about the fact if I like this music or not; in fact, I do enjoy it a lot. I started playing this towards the end of the afternoon, considering that this might be the last today. I hadn't made up my mind, but once this hour/four pieces was over, I went straight back to the start and played it again. By now, daylight had started to fade, and these sparse piano tones slowly gave a soothing feeling; the sorrow of another day ended and perhaps made me a bit sentimental. I loved it.
Also on Ftarri Classical is 'Paraphrase on Schichikushoshinshu ' by Tomoki Tai. He plays self-made instruments such as a coiled cello, electric devices, beach ball airbag and melodica (that one he didn't make. "Published in 1664, Schichikushoshinshu is a beginner's guide to three musical instruments, the hitoyogiri shakuhachi, the koto and the shamisen". Tai plays shamisen music scores using his instruments. I assume that makes the music classic, and the results are far from classic. The beach ball connecting the melodica replaces the pitch pipe. Tai is a cellist, but that's not something I could tell by playing this music. It seems as if the coiled cello goes through some distortion pedal. Combined with the melodica's brutal sustaining force, this music has very little to do with classical music ("Jim, this is classical music, but not as we know it"). It's dirty and noisy, heavy and rusty. I very much enjoyed this release, maybe because it is pretty different from many other releases on this label and the acoustic brutality of it all. The way the minimalist, in-your-face drone of melodica worked alongside the more ad hoc bending of the cello. It's almost as if Tai tried to make a noisy guitar improv meets drone release. Great one.
I reviewed music from Zhu Wenbo and Zhao Cong before, but this is the first time I heard something they recorded together. Cong works with microphones and objects (see also Vital Weekly 1179), while Wenbo plays with all sorts of things. Both share a passion for a more conceptual approach to music. On this CD, we find two pieces, which they recorded from January 16 to February 27, 2022, on a cassette recorder, with the erasing function shut off. They would spool the cassette to a random place, and then each would record a bit onto the tape, ranging from a few seconds to a minute long. On the last day, they recorded a long piece; one cleaning up the room, the other baking bread. No post-production or editing took place afterwards, and we have two twenty-eight-minute pieces of music here. We find "objects, home appliances, movements, voices, cassette recorder manipulations" among the sound sources used. The random approach works quite well, I think. Cutting in and out sounds, while sometimes others continue, the scraping and scratching of surfaces, make a strangely coherent listening experience. It is very much electro-acoustic, acoustic because of the objects and electro because of the gentle tape manipulation. This is the sort of randomized concept that I enjoy quite a bit. It's conceptual and has some great results. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ftarri.com/
GEINS'T NAÏT & SCANNER & LAURENT PETITGAND - OLA (CD by Ici D'Ailleurs)
From the department of unlikely collaborations, if ever there was one, I'd rank the one by Geins't Naït, Laurent Petitgand and Scanner. Alright, to see Geins't Naït working with Petitgand is not strange, as he was once a member of this group, now reduced to Thierry Mérigout. There was a previous collaboration between the two (see Vital Weekly 964), but now they added Scanner. From the slightly industrialized sound of the two Frenchmen to the more sophisticated electronics from the UK, that makes a remarkable collaboration. That is what we get during this hour of music, spanning nine pieces. Scanner's love for modular electronics has a strong presence throughout this album and his mellow beats. The three musicians use voices from Jonathan Pie, Pavel Nazarov, Georg Baselitz, Francoise Klein and Gilles Deleuze, sometimes as is but also feeding these through a vocoder. We may not always follow the narrative (sometimes in a language I don't know, sometimes with too much transformation), but they form an additional engaging voice in the music. There is not much information as to what the other musicians are doing. Still, electronics play an important role, next to sound effects (digital or analogue), metallic percussion sitting next to a melodic piano. This variety of instruments delivers an array of moods and textures. Sometimes within one piece, such in '370', with that piano and computer-processed abstraction. In 'Bed', this trio veers towards a more industrial sound, and in the title piece, the music slowly morphs into a trip-hop-styled dubbiness. In 'Mouche', the rhythm becomes slower and darker; thus, the mood changes again. One might think this variation is a bit much, but it isn't. I see it all as a trip, and during its course, we get to see many different vistas, but it's clear this is a trip. A most enjoyable musical journey, this is colourful and tasteful. Let's hope this will not be a one-off collaboration. (FdW)
––– Address: https://icidailleurs.fr/
HAARVÖL - SEEKING THE INTIMACY OF SILENCE (CD by Moving Furniture Records)
I announced the previous release by the Portuguese group Haarvöl as a highlight of the week (Vital Weekly 1347). They now return with a new record and work with other musicians, but if I understand well, not from face-to-face sessions, but via long-distance collaboration. Martijn Comes plays the guitar, and Xoán-Xil López sends in his cello playing (although I assumed he is a full-time member by now, also being part of earlier records). The core of Haarvöl is the duo of Fernando José Pereira and João Faria, and they operate the electronics, analogue and digital, I think. We're informed that the music on this album is created like a poem, refuses the fragmentary, but rather is made of fragments, and it's one whole album. Atmospherics play an all-important role in the music of this group, and for me, it works best if there are these beautiful, hermetically closed drones. The final two pieces here, 'A wishful gesture... utopian' and 'difference and the other self', are fine examples of that style. The clear addition of guitar and cello took some time for me to adjust. 'a sombre description of the now' is a piece in which both Comes and López shine, and the music has an open character, and it has a more orchestral character. That's a new thing for Haarvöl, and after some listening rounds, I got used to it. It makes the music now two slightly different things, meaning an extension of what they do. Perhaps this will be something that they will continue. As much as I love their pure drone approach, I can imagine that one day it will be time to move on because, let's be honest, how many drone records can you do? Going in this direction would undoubtedly work, I think. I'm already looking forward to hearing whatever they come up with next. (FdW)
––– Address: https://movingfurniturerecords.bandcamp.com/
XENOFOX - THE GARDEN WAS EMPTY (CD by Audio Semantics)
Xenofox is the guitar & drums duo of Olaf Rupp and Rudi Fisherlehner. It’s the second release on Olaff Rupp's label, Audiosemantics and the sixth one for the duo. Five tracks ranging from 5 minutes to a whopping 25. A thrilling ride from start to end, they create a whole world filled with rackety riffs & rickety rhythms, all to this writer's delight. And the mood sways from probing the grounds to full-blown rock & roll, the experimental kind. A lot of ideas are tried and followed up with another idea, but all within a reasonable context, that is to say, without jumping too much around the general idea. Well, actually that’s not true. Listen to this one and draw your own conclusions. Other musicians might milk an idea for a whole track, but not these two. There’s not much more to say: give this one a spin. One warning, though: this isn’t background music. It deserves your devoted attention! (MDS)
––– Address: http://audiosemantics.de
LINA ALLEMANO FOUR - PIPE DREAM (CD by Lumo Records)
Pipe Dream is the seventh release by Lina Allemano’s acoustic jazz quartet. Their previous effort was reviewed in Vital Weekly 1277. Allemano plays the trumpet, Brodie West on alto sax, Andrew Downing on double bass, and Nick Fraser is behind the drum kit. On the menu are ten dishes. The first courses are two titles with fruit in them (Banana Canon and Dragon Fruit), and in between, we have a Pipe Dream on a theme by Prokofiev; it’s also the title of this release. The theme comes from Prokofiev’s Symphony no. 3, in the beginning, I believe. Incidentally, Lina shares her first name with Sergei Prokovief’s first wife. The main courses are the four-part Plague Diaries (not to be called a suite according to Allemano), and three parts (Longing, Trying Not to Freak Out & Hunger and Murder) are introduced by solo trumpet, solo sax and solo bowed double bass. Nick gets his intro incorporated in Doom and Doomer. Interestingly, the whole ensemble works like a seasoned orchestra, not clashing tempers but harmonious with the occasional clash. Not surprising since there are written scores to be followed. 'The Plague Diaries' are all minor since the Plague wasn’t that cheerful. I leave it to the listener to decide if it was the recent one or the one from the Middle Ages. I won’t discuss every piece here. For me, this is a rare breed of orchestral music, as if the Third Stream (the fusion of jazz and classical music attempted in the sixties) is getting to flow even broader. There’s one catch: the CD isn’t available before May and pre-orders start in March. Nevertheless, you can find a fine concert of the quartet online playing the Plague Diaries, among other pieces. The music on the release is more orchestral in mood, which is a good thing for the release. Verdict: an excellent record, in all pieces, and by all musicians and kudos to Lina Allemano, who wrote the music. (MDS)
––– Address: http://linaallemano.com
CACHALOT (LP by Aussenraum Records)
Behind the duo of Cachalot, we find Marc Berman and Jamasp Jhabvala playing accordion and violin. They have been part of projects such as The Raspoutine Smoked Band, Convulsif, Paracelze, Fashion Nouse and other outlandish names, and now they are named after what is in the English language known as the sperm whale. If I understood this well, they try to be as removed as possible from the original sound of their instruments "until only keeping a halo in a long and obscure exploration of the abyss". The music was already recorded in 2017 but unearthed in 2020; no explanation as to why it was hidden away. Listening to these three extremely dynamic pieces of music (wondering why it is on LP and not a CD, but alas), I believe they also use a few electronics in their music. Sure, at times, it might be very much the acoustic quality of their instruments, but in each of the three pieces, there is also delay and reverb, or even distortion, to be heard. I heard both the vinyl and the download, and I prefer the latter simply because there are more details to be heard. While some of the music stems from the world of improvised music, I'd instead put the album in the corner of electro-acoustic music. As said, the dynamics are immense here. When things go quiet, they are almost inaudible to the extremely loud, such as the ending of 'LOT' (which is indeed a lot). Adjusting the volume level doesn't make life easy for the listener. Loud means that the loudest parts are ear-splitting, and moderate means the soft bits may get lost. And noise, in this case, means noise, as it is very much a distorted sound, free improvisation/no pedals spared thing, almost in a noise rock way. A 'Lot' is a piece that most out there. I am more enamoured with the quieter parts of this album, especially when Cachalot plays a more drone-like sound, reminding me of a more classical approach. Their quiet moments worked as counterparts of these drone moments, a moment of transition, getting a breath before the next upsurge. Their noise is not bad, perhaps because they know how to escape that again. Quite a powerful release! (FdW)
––– Address: https://aussenraumrecords.com/
EDWARD KA-SPEL - PERMISSION TO LEAVE THE TEMPLE (10" by Lumberton Trading Company)
When you read these words, The Legendary Pink Dots are loading their van to tour Europe, following their tour of late last year in the USA. It's been a while since we last saw this band on stage, and it's about time we see them again. During the pandemic, the group worked hard on new music and brushed up the old music for a new release, so where does singer Edward Ka-spel find the time to make his solo music? I honestly don't know but take a look at their Bandcamp (https://legendarypinkdots1.bandcamp.com/), and you'll find lots of music from his solo and with the mothership. It would be too simplistic to say that Edward Ka-spel is The Legendary Pink Dots in reduced form. Less Erik Drost's guitar and The Silverman's keyboards before or Randall Frazier's these days, Ka-spel's becomes altogether more electronic. Still, I believe that in his solo work, Ka-spel allows even more freedom to play around with sound and sounds (there is a difference there). There is more experiment, but it is also more personal. The distinctive voice of Ka-spel is the central point of attention in the five pieces on this 10", but he allows for a lot of room for an instrumental piece. Honestly, the three pieces on the first side and the two on the second flow right into each other, and there is, as far as I'm concerned, one long piece of music per side, in which Ka-spel tells his story/poetry and packs it with psychedelic coloured sounds. Joyful, over the top, reflective and personal. 'With My Blessing' opens with tinkling bell sounds, which gives the piece the charm of a music box in a baby's room, slowly morphing into something more dystopian with female vocals. Dystopian, perhaps, but Ka-spel's music is never without hope, I should add. However grim the world may be, there is always a ray of light in the music. As said, the psychedelic nature of his music is undoubtedly attributed to that. A 10"... the format of doom (too small for an LP, too big for a single)... it's too short for a full display of Ka-spel's talent to paint stories with sound and words. This is another great one, that much I know, but I also confess to being a long-term fan. (FdW)
––– Address: https://fourthdimensionrecords.bigcartel.com/
DAVE FUGLEWICZ - SELECTED WORKS 1990-1997 (CDR by No Part Of It)
SHARKIFACE - CLIMAX IN A PROCESS (CDR by No Part Of It)
Once again, I am learning about a musician that was part of the whole wild world of underground cassettes and yet I had never heard of him; that world always proved more fantastic than I thought. Dave Fuglewicz (which one is supposed to pronounce as FEW/FYOO-GULL-WITZ) already worked with electronics in the 1970s, "started meddling with recordings techniques in 1984" (which made me think that he didn't record anything before) but released his first tape in 1990. He had releases on Dbar Tapes, Austenite Recordings, and Hal Tapes, but most of his work is self-released. Acquiring a four-track machine was a turning point in releasing music in 1990. After 1998 he worked digital and did so until his passing in 2021. Not many people heard his music, but this release may draw a new audience. The music certainly deserves to be heard. The download contains more than the CDR; in total, there are close to two hours of music. His primary tools were ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey, plus some pedals in 1990. Still, in 1997, the family extended to the "ARP Sequencer, modified Casio keyboard, Digitech 7.6 Delay, several effects "stomp" boxes, some homemade synthesizer modules.... All tracks recorded to my trusty four-track Vesta-Fire MR-10B cassette deck". I very much enjoyed these pieces, which at times, I found to be the missing link between industrial music and cosmic music. I am reminded of Conrad Schnitzler's non-keyboard electronics, resulting in some early MB synth-scapes of dystopian nightmares. Another name that sprang to mind is David Prescott; whatever happened to him? Never on the arpeggio, so no Berlin synth schooling, but more akin to 'early electronics', untouched by academic training. As I am playing the download version to be complete, the extended length of the release is slightly overwhelming, but it worked very well to take it all in one long listening session.
Something completely different is the release by Sharkiface, the solo project of Angela Edwards. She started booking tours for Daniel Johnston in Texas. When she moved to the Bay Area, she was part of Hans Grüsel's Krankenkabinet, Tarantism and "(rumour has it) Caroliner Rainbow, among many others". As Sharkiface, she toured a lot and had various split releases and yet, 'Climax In A Process' is her first solo release. She sings and takes credit for instruments and electronics. On a few tracks, there are guest players, adding flute samples, bass samples and reading. And different this indeed is. Voices play a significant role, but also the violin, sound effects, modular electronics and instruments and devices I couldn't put a label on. There is both a poetic and mysterious element to the music. Although not always discernable as lyrics, I believe that words play a role here, whispering as they come to us. Or, read as in 'Hour Of The Wolf', but then we don't understand the Nordic language unless the English lines we also hear are a translation. There are hints of symbols, rituals and darkness, which do not always make this an accessible release. Unless, maybe, you open up to that world or if you are willing to surrender to the same magical thinking. The mystery does not that easily win me over, but having said that, I enjoy this darkness quite a bit. The whispering voices, the dark rumble from the dark forest, and the occasional piercing electronics all make for some spooky work. When Sharkiface says that the themes are "memories, shadow work, incantations, processing trauma and redemption", I can hear that in this music quite well. There is not a single musical genre in which Sharkiface fits. At times electronic and experimental, with hints of improvised music, sound poetry and ceremonial music, this is almost like a genre of its own. Distinctly weirdness here, and I love it. (FdW)
––– Address: https://nopartofit.bandcamp.com/
KORM MERZ/MERZ - INFECTION (cassette compilation by Korm Plastics D)
In middle school I never paid attention to the art history class. If I were to care about art at all, it had to be contemporary rather than something from ages ago. This, however, only I learned to regret, and it remains a void I pursue to fill by reading about it off and on. So yeah, I now know about Dada and, indeed, the name Kurt Schwitters I have also heard before, but I am hardly a pundit regarding art, modern or otherwise. Despite being all too familiar with the works of Masami 'Merzbow' Akita, I only ever vaguely made the connection to Schwitters and his Merzbau, which was a sort of private art installation he had in his various houses during his life.
When we celebrated Schwitters' 100th birthday, Korm Plastics released a cassette that featured artists who were in one way or another influenced by Schwitters and his private Dada art movement, also known as 'Merz'. That was back in 1987, so some names, such as Prilius Lacus and Luis Mesa, have been lost over time. Richard Franecki is still a member of space rockers F/i, or so it seems, and then Paul Hurst & Mark O'Brien were behind the legendary Produktion group. SBOTHI was in alliance with P16.D4 but also seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth now. This leaves Merzbow himself, and frankly, I feel his work is the strongest contribution to this compilation.
I have limited knowledge of the visual arts, so I might be wrong, but there seems to be randomness in how Schwitters stuck his collage images together. Does that then relate to the music, you ask? Oddly enough, there is not much randomness in that respect. SBOTHI meticulously cuts up the well-known 'Ursonate' by Schwitters, while Prilius Lacus combine metallic sounds, loops, voices and other obscure sounds to achieve sublime results. Luis Mesa and Merzbow offer more or less continuous soundscapes, which in the case of Merzbow, are spun with a turntable, just like the combo Hurst/O'Brien. Only Richard Franecki's synthesiser sounds in 'Randomhold 1' have that Schwittersesque random approach, and in all fairness, it doesn't cut as good as his other track on this compilation 'Metal On Metal' (not to be confused with Anvil song), which is a collage of metal and electronic sound sources. A booklet is a proverbial cherry on top, with a text by Trax Records boss Vittore Baron requiring glasses. But then, how often does one read this?
The other cassette in this package is by a group called Merz, which is Luis Mesa, who no longer partakes in the world of experimental music. Much unlike his two pieces on 'Korm Merz', the seven pieces on this tape sound like a distorted Casio going into a Korg MS-20 in what could be regarded as a homage to (or blatant rip-off of) the classic Esplendor Geométrico records. Loud, fierce, and essentially each track is a variation of the other. Not really collaged or collated, so it's merely the name of the project that refers to Schwitters more than anything else. Thirty-two minutes of some very consistent and conceptual music. What's not like here? Plus, it is topped by a great package. (LW)
––– Address: https://kormplasticsd.bandcamp.com/