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COAGULANT - MAP OF THE DUSK (CD by Antenna Non Grata) *
FABRIKER  - DELIRUS-A (CD by Antenna Non Grata) *
ADAM GOLEBIEWSKI & WITOLD OLESZAK - UNISEX (CD by Antenna Non Grata) *
VIDNA OBMANA - DANTE TRILOGY: TREMOR/SPORE/LEGACY (3CD by Zoharum) *
WORTH - HAMPER (CD by Aussaat) *
DAVE PHILLIPS - SHOULD A SEEKER NOT FIND A COMPANION WHO IS BETTER OR EQUAL, LET HIM RESOLUTELY PURSUE A SOLITARY COURSE; THERE IS NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FOOL / CICADA TRANCE (2CD by No Part Of It) *
ARS SONITUS - TRANSFUTURISM MANIFESTO (CD by Impulsy Stetoskopu) *
CORBO COMBO/DANGER - CORBO COMBO/DANGER (2CD by Impulsy Stetoskopu) *
EVAN LIPSON -ECHO CHAMBER (CD by Public Eyesore Records) *
MODELBAU - METAL AND MOTIF (7" by Haemoccult) *
MODELBAU - MARCH WIND (cassette by Grisaille) *
DELUDIUM SKIES - ICHOR (CDR by Xtelyon Records) *
THE REMAKQUELS - LOST WISDOM (CDR by Heavy Cloud) *
REMANENCE - SEPIADRONE (CD by Resonant Effects) *
O YUKI CONJUGATE - A TENSION OF OPPOSITES VOLS 3 & 4 (cassette, private) *
DAVID PARKER - WITCHES' BUTTER (cassette by Dirty Clothes Records) *
GÜNTER SCHLIENZ - AUSFLÜGE I (cassette by Cosima Pitz) *
GÜNTER SCHLIENZ - AUSFLÜGE II (cassette by Cosmic Winnetou) *
MRM TRIO - EARS ARE FOR RINGING (cassette by Interstellar Records) *
SICK DAYS - OTHER DUTIES AS ASSIGNED (cassette by Vacancy Records) *
THE ARCHIVES ASSISTANT - DISC ROT (cassette by Vacancy Records) *
CASUAL CTRL/FONDS (split cassette by Vacancy Records) *
PIANO BRUT - INSIDE & OUTSIDE (cassette by Grisaille) *
SAVVAS METAXAS - OUTWARDS (cassette by Grisaille) *
BRANDSTIFTER & JULIUS MÉNARD - NOBODY KNOWS (cassette by Grisaille) *
GROUPA - KIND OF FOLK - VOL. 4 IBERIA (CD by All Ice Records)
COAGULANT - MAP OF THE DUSK (CD by Antenna Non Grata)
FABRIKER  - DELIRUS-A (CD by Antenna Non Grata)
ADAM GOLEBIEWSKI & WITOLD OLESZAK - UNISEX (CD by Antenna Non Grata)
Until now, I thought of the Polish Antenna Non Grata as a two-headed monster. On one side is music from the world of radio waves and drones, and on the other is the world of improvised music. I already suspected this was wrong, but now I am sure.
It is a no-brainer where I start when looking at these three releases. In recent years Coagulant, the London-based music project of Fabio Kubic, delivered musical works that I immensely enjoyed. Here we have music that deals heavily with the world of drone music. I have (still!) very few ideas about how these sounds are made. "By choice, both tracks were composed with sounds from completely different places, captured in the moments and hours that take the name of nautical and astronomical sunset. " 'Nautical' and 'Astronomical' are the two lengthy pieces on this album. Still, that doesn't say too much and leaves some guessing. In a romantic notion I have about playing the music, Coagulant tapes his sounds in largely abandoned places with minimal action. Then he takes these recordings to the next place and does a playback of these recordings and subsequent recordings of that are taken to the next place. And so on. I wondered if there are that many abandoned places in London, but just as well, these recordings might be from a parking house after midnight. Plus, I might be very wrong here, and8 it is the modus operandi of Coagulant entirely different. These drones sound environmental from a big space, not a space artificially created with reverb. No synthesizers used as Queen would write on their early albums, just exploring sound and space. Vaguely it reminds me of machines humming, and in 'Nautical', there is very little else; in 'Astronomical', there might be some small action around the recorder. There are changes throughout both pieces; again, more in the second than the first, but it's a long ride and a space to get lost in. Great stuff!
Before going to what I thought was Antenna Non Grata's other main attraction, I diverted to noise music. Come to think of it, this label already has a few releases that aren't improvised music but also not pure radio/drone stuff. Noise is certainly a third point of call for this label. Behind Fabriker  we find one Kamil Kasprzyk. I had not heard of him before, but according to Discogs, this is an "electronic project from Cologne, Germany". I used to be a man of noise, and a lot of it, but these days, a lot less. But I admit that I occasionally like a fair share of noise, and perhaps, this week's appetite is for Fabriker . I have no idea how he generates his noise. I am sure these days there are many options other than holding a microphone against the headphones, generating some feedback and plugging that into a monophonic synth; that's how we did it in the 80s. Listening to the music on 'Delerius-A', I have no idea what he does. The aim is to play loud music, but the pure sonic overload and the harsh noise wall are not the endgames here. In his pieces (there are eight of them), Fabriker  goes for several variations, in which we also recognize that old synth, some delay work, reminding me of the early MB, and in other pieces, there is more a power electronics approach from the mid-80s. 'ReExecution' is, with its highly minimal approach, more of a recent approach in noise music. His titles are good ol' power electronics cliché-d, 'Hate Me', 'Vulgar Sexophile' or 'Wish You Fucking Rot'. That's not the kind of thing I take very seriously (did I ever? I probably did). The music is a fine mixture of old-school power electronics and current noise and a finely executed ceremony at that.
The final new release is from the improvised music world, and we find Adam Golebiewski on percussion in one corner and Witold Oleszak on the piano in the other corner. Music by both has been reviewed before. Within the space of forty-nine minutes and eight individual pieces, these musicians explore their instruments in partially conventional ways and partly unconventional. I think plenty of objects are in use here, applied to the instruments, generating sustaining sounds, shrieking like feedback, but of a highly acoustic nature. And sometimes, the piano suddenly shines through, or the drums tap, and one is reminded of the use of real instruments. I am not sure, but I believe that Golebiewski is the one who does the 'object-upon-instrument' a bit more than Oleszak; I might be wrong, however. Maybe some of what I hear can be attributed to the prepared piano. All of this indeed makes a fascinating sonic excursion, and both gentlemen act according to the 'rules' of improvisation; act and react, or keep silent when needed. Both players are well-schooled in that area, which shows in the music here. (FdW)
––– Address: https://antennanongrata.bandcamp.com/
VIDNA OBMANA - DANTE TRILOGY: TREMOR/SPORE/LEGACY (3CD by Zoharum)
With so many Vidna Obmana re-issues in the last few years, I am not sure which opening lines I used (not this one, I am sure), and perhaps I mentioned this before. In the early 90s, I lost track of Vidna Obmana's releases. I couldn't say if there is any particular reason for that, but money might be one (I couldn't buy anything I wanted), and the music store/distribution I worked for didn't carry some of these labels. Out of sight, out of mind, it seems. Somebody said I shouldn't mention old age, but I'll do it here. I forgot about the three releases by Vidna Obmana for the US label Relapse/Release and that I reviewed all three of these; you could look at the hyperlinks, but lets for once (thrice), reprint the originals, and I read this while listening to these in their remastered form.
VIDNA OBMANA - TREMOR (CD by Release)
(Vital Weekly 310) For about 16 years now, I have known Vidna Obmana and his music. Evolving from a harsh industrial music project via ambient to a more personal styled form of ambient sound processing. I can't say I am a big fan of every stage of his career, but I see the evolution. Tremor is his latest, strict solo album (Vidna Obmana is known to do a lot of musical collaborations) and the first in a trilogy dealing with Dante's poem 'Inferno'. Of course, Vidna Obmana doesn't depict hell by using tons and tons of machine sounds, noise, and what have you. On 'Tremor', the main ingredients are flutes, ethnic percussion and big reverbed walls of sound. In general, an excellent ambient sound, but just the use of reverb is, at times, too much. It makes this a somewhat clinical album and could be, I think, a bit less. I have been playing this album many times, and I like it very much. It's excellent background music (at low volume) or reveals more dramatic moments when you play it at a higher volume. It is less experimental than some of the collaboration albums Vidna Obmana did (which are more in my alley), but one of his better ones. (FdW)
VIDNA OBMANA - LEGACY (CD by Relapse)
(Vital Weekly 343) Vidna Obmana never ceases to amaze me! Although one could easily say that Vidna Obmana plays ambient music, he also explores the genre very well. Unlike many others who stay within the strict areas of ambient music, Vidna Obmana changes his pallet occasionally and opts for various kinds of ambient music. A rhythm box. Now that's an unlikely machine to use for Vidna Obmana, but he does it. Singing? No problem; Vidna Obmana gets Steve Von Till of Neurosis to sign for him: or Martine Verhoeven, or a blues musician. 'Legacy', the third album in the 'Dante Trilogy' marks new borders for Vidna Obmana. After his highly synthesized early days, his pseudo-ethnic phase and his many processings of other people playing church organs, saxophones or guitars, it seems as if he now bumps into a more heavy area, the direct, in-your-face ambient music - mood music of an unsettling kind. Only towards the end, the album collapses under its heavyweight with two lengthy prog-rock guitar pieces, one of them including the talents of Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame. A bit too lengthy prog-rock ebow exercise going on here. Otherwise: top CD
VIDNA OBMANA - SPORE (CD by Relapse Records)
(Vital Weekly 360) You know how these things go: you pop a CD into the player, and it starts playing. After a while, you think: what did I pop in? This happened to me while playing the latest Vidna Obmana. The forceful rhythm piece 'Through The Collective Pain' sounds so unlike Vidna Obmana that I realized much throughout the second track that I was playing Vidna Obmana - most curious. 'Spore' is the second part of a trilogy of works dedicated to Dante's Inferno. Rhythm and guitar seem to be playing a big part here. Later on, as the CD progresses, the more known ambient elements of Vidna Obmana start pouring in. Still, I think Vidna Obmana delivered his most forceful work for years (his very early hardcore industrial days are not very well known, but maybe it should be re-investigated via a CD release?). Ambient industrial with a touch of (pseudo) ethnic percussion, harking back through the entire career of Vidna Obmana, including his work with people like Steve Roach, makes 'Spore' one of the best works I heard from him. Vidna Obmana doesn't necessarily renew his sound but combines his various interests and matures from that. (FdW)
And then, we return to the present day. As always, I corrected some of the grammar in the old reviews and found it amusing to read old reviews and see how opinions sometimes change. I have no idea why I reviewed the second album, 'Spore', after the third was done; the timeline doesn't add up, but I no longer know why. Now that I play all three albums in one long Easter session, I noted that there is quite some variation in these albums. True, the most significant thing is ambient music, lots of textures, reverb, bits of percussion, and processed flutes, but sometimes there is quite a bit more upfront rhythm or something with a bit more force, something in which we hear the old Vidna Obmana again when it was a noise act. It's great to listen to and view these albums as one piece in three acts. (FdW)
––– Address: https://zoharum.bandcamp.com/
WORTH - HAMPER (CD by Aussaat)
Perhaps I didn't have my entire portion of noise music for this week, but I started playing Worth and kept playing it until the end. I had not heard of Worth before; active since 2017, with many releases on Prose Nagge, Lead Lozenges, Total Black, White Centipede Noise and now on Aussaat. Behind Worth might be one William van Gorder. Here we don't have music for happy, smiley faces. Crashing electronics, combined with feedback, distortion, bangs on sheets of metal, you know the drill (maybe there is a drill in here, too?). Loud music, sure, but not all the time, as Worth has moments of quietness, if you can believe that. Paranoid sounds that linger on for a while and which may crudely cut out by an explosion of noise terror. There is something oddly orchestral about this music. In 'Penetralia', the most extended piece on this CD, clocking in at eighteen minutes, there is some of that layer-upon-layer approach, adding noise on noise until it collapses. In 'Refraction Poison (Mirrored By Presage)', Worth uses a bit of heavily processed voice, which is a nice variation. Like with all forms of dance music, I never know what compartment of noise this is. It sounds like power electronics and some sick noise, but what do I know? Compared with the other noise release of this week (Fabriker ), this is the real stuff; the other one is at times mellow compared to this one. Maybe this is my 'one noise a week' portion for this week? (FdW)
––– Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVE PHILLIPS - SHOULD A SEEKER NOT FIND A COMPANION WHO IS BETTER OR EQUAL, LET HIM RESOLUTELY PURSUE A SOLITARY COURSE; THERE IS NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FOOL / CICADA TRANCE (2CD by No Part Of it)
As we all know, you can easily find noise music in nature. I am not a biologist, but I think cicadas exist in many countries, warm countries or just during the summer in some others. They are fascinating creatures, and many musicians have used recordings of them. Dave Phillips is the latest, and we know him as give or take, a man of noise music. In 1995 he spent six months in Thailand, and ever since, he has wanted to do a piece of music using recordings of cicadas. This now comes as 'Cicada Trance' and a work with a very long title, 'Should A Seeker Not Find A Companion Who Is Better Or Equal, Let Him Resolutely Pursue A Solitary Course; There Is No Fellowship With The Fool'. That piece was originally released in digital form by Radical Matters and used sounds of reptilian, amphibian, and insectan origin. Let's start here, as this is the first piece in the box. I think that the insects make up the backbone of the piece via long-form sustaining sounds, and on top of that, there are animal sounds, roaring and screaming, sometimes rhythmic, but I am unsure to what extent Phillips uses sound effects. There are none (so I believe, at least), and it's all a matter of overlaying sounds until a musical dialogue arises. This is quite a long piece at fifty-six minutes, but it's a great excursion. Strangely, I thought that this was indeed very much a Dave Phillips piece. It's loud but dynamic, and in some of his work, Phillips uses similar sounds but then of a different origin, such as his mouth or body.
Dynamics are not part of the other six, six minutes longer. Here Phillips uses just recordings of cicadas from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and South Africa and places these together. Whereas 'Should' rocks back and forth, and sounds repeat, disappear but also return, no such thing happens here. It's piercingly high frequencies going on and on, just like they do in nature. It is almost like a harsh noise wall, but one realizes that this is all nature's (true!) forces. If you listen closely, and I did as I found this very compelling music, one notes minimalist changes or even melodic singing, especially in the second half. Here too, I can easily see this as a piece of music by Dave Phillips, but this time using only field recordings, and at that from various recordings from one animal. It is recommended to be heard by headphones, which I tried, but I must admit I thought it was too much at least the cicada piece. The other one worked great with headphones. What a blast! (FdW)
––– Address: https://nopartofit.bandcamp.com/
ARS SONITUS - TRANSFUTURISM MANIFESTO (CD by Impulsy Stetoskopu)
CORBO COMBO/DANGER - CORBO COMBO/DANGER (2CD by Impulsy Stetoskopu)
It may come as a surprise (or shock), but I was never too big into the Futurist movement. Sure, I like the art of noise manifesto as a starting point in which noise is also music, but beyond that? They are a bunch of war-loving fascists. Oke, I am overdoing it, but there are some unhealthy aspects to the whole movement (I guess not many people in Ukraine today might discuss the war in terms of a tremendous musical experience). Ars Sonitus, for one, might not agree. They use a manifesto, which may or may not be called 'Transfuturism'. Just like the futurists, they use sounds as source material, tape decks, broken pianos, every day and metal objects/devices, analogue/digital effects, urban/noise field recordings, "less or more known voices", sampler AKAI S1000, tape echo, mixer Boss BX600, and it's mentioned there are no synths and other traditional acoustic or electronic instruments. So much for the information side; how does it sound? Keeping up with the spirit of the original futurists is not bad at all. There are some repeated mechanized actions from old equipment, randomly used spoken words and the sounds of a demonstration. There is quite a randomized aspect to the music here, especially in the first (and longest) piece, 'Action Directe De La Conscience De Soi Transcendantale'. It could be an excerpt of a much longer piece or a sound installation. 'Evoking Dasein' is the noisiest excursion here, with some nasty sounds, again with much gratitude to nearly broken equipment. 'The Last Breath Of A Machine' is a very ample title for the closing statement. Machines die, too; end of noise? Quite a lovely release, and ones that come in an oversized box and a flag to wave. Is there a noise day already?
Impulsy Stetoskopu is also well-known as a label for re-issuing some of the most obscure music from the past. I must admit I have no idea where the label finds them. On two CDs, we find two groups with a connection. Danger is a duo of Michel Froehly and Bruno de Chénerilles on electric guitars. They both play the same instruments in Corbo Combo, but Froehly adds bass, De Chénerilles, drums, trumpet, and trombone. The other members are Dominique Gasser on alto saxophone, tuyau (whatever that is) and Marie-Berthe Servier on voice and objects. I believe Corbo Combo was there first and existed for a short time. Danger was even around for a shorter period and played only three concerts. The other connection is the free-form music they play. In Corbo Combo, the saxophone adds a certain free jazz vibe to the music, but that doesn't tell the complete picture. There is also an element of free rock in the music, reminding me of Smegma in similar times; the recordings from both discs are from 1978 and 1979. Danger's free-wailing guitar improvisations are less jazzy/rockier. Occasionally they slip in a riff or the start of one, and their guitar techniques are not as extended as they would become during post-punk. But there is enough freedom here to enjoy. According to the booklet, some concerts ended in a riot, and it's easy to hear why this in 1979 wouldn't go down very well. Of the two discs, I prefer the Danger one, reminding me of seeing Sonic Youth on perhaps their first Dutch tour when Moore and Renaldo did an extensive improvisation at the end. Corbo Combo sounded interesting too, but maybe due to its free jazz connotations not so my thing. I can imagine seeing them live would be great, though! (FdW)
––– Address: email@example.com
EVAN LIPSON - ECHO CHAMBER (CD by Public Eyesore Records)
Here we have the debut solo release by Evan Lipson on double bass. He hails from America and has played in the psychotic quartet (violin, trombone, drums and bass) with numerous improvising musicians. Susan Alcorn, Mary Halvorson, Toshimaru Nakamura, and Nate Wooley to name a few. The music he recorded in a Corbetta magazine, a dome-shaped bunker for ammunition storage, one of a hundred located at Entreprise South Nature Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Because of its construction, there’s a lot of natural reverb happening. This is powerful music, all 43 minutes, one long improvisation in -I presume- one take. Percussive sounds are made with the double bass, even sounds resembling a helicopter. Grinding noises and ostinato notes with added ones to create slow-changing chords. Ferious playing coupled with longer, more serene sections but with the same intensity as in the wilder sections. Listen to this on a high volume! The neighbours might complain, but it does justice to this high-octane music—great release with a great mix. (MDS)
––– Address: https://publiceyesore.bandcamp.com/
MODELBAU - METAL AND MOTIF (7" by Haem Occult)
MODELBAU - MARCH WIND (cassette by Grisaille)
Two Modelbau releases this week, and I'll review them a bit differently this time. Why? Well, first of all, I've spoken to the maker, who we all know, and he gave me a bit of extra information about them, giving me a chance to analyse the sound more. Second, I reviewed several Modelbau releases, and I'm an admirer of 'the drone' and minimal compositions. So getting a new release from an artist I've reviewed quite often already is... It's like you can only say ever so often, "this is great stuff", "you should buy it", or "deep drone with high-pitched layering creating some nice depth", or whatever ...
Last week's 'Night Route' (Vital Weekly 1381) opened a door for this conversation with Frans. I had written the review from the perspective of 'sonic travelling', a nightly drive that might be long or short, and the way the outside is interpreted by the storyteller and told as a sound/drone/track. When he told me he had two more coming out, a cassette and a 7", he asked me if I wanted to do those too, so I said yes.
'March Wind' is a five-track cassette on Grisaille, and it's his 6th on that label. The previous one was also reviewed by me (Vital Weekly 1327), and precisely what I said above goes for this release too. Like "May Flower", "March Wind" is 'minimalistic electronics, looped field recordings, strings/pads of unknown origin, and slow mixing layers or added effects are all properly produced, resulting in a solid release.' What's the verdict? Well, Modelbau has a particular style. And if/when you listen to a track, you might be able to hear it's a Modelbau track. And that is not bad because Frans does an excellent thing there.
'Metal and Motif' is a 7" with almost 12 minutes of playing time. So the tracks aren't long, and the storytelling must be focussed. And, well, I hear the use of different types of sounds. It's all less stretched and submerged in delay and reverb. Less saturation is maybe the word I'm looking for. ADDITION: I'm listening to all tracks as audio-file on the computer, so there is no colouring of sounds from the chosen media. The B-sides are getting a bit more of the darkness I also heard on the cassette (the 'submerged'-sound), but it's being complemented with more brightness and a wider frequency spectrum in the additional/other sounds. So it sounds all more defined, more determined, more thought of, less 'live' and more 'studio'. Amazing!
The extra info I got was about the recording setup used for both recordings. The Grisaille tape was recorded in March 2021, just before the change in his setup. This previous setup 'dictated' more one-take composing and recording. So older Modelbau material might be considered "Live in the Studio". The 'Metal and Motif' was recorded at the end of 2022 and included more layered recording techniques. Not a one-take, but more carefully produced layers creating the result. And all artists here will know it will take more time to work like this, so there might be a little less Modelbau being released and reviewed, but heads-up: The quality of production and composition might exceed your wildest dreams. (BW)
––– Address: https://grisaille.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
DELUDIUM SKIES - ICHOR (CDR by Xtelyon Records)
Ah, the curious case of Deludium Skies returns. Also known as the solo project of Karl Pelzman, who plays all instruments and (ab)used objects. The instruments he can't play are handled by friends, such as Iker Garmendia (transverse flute on four pieces), Guido Spannocchi (alto saxophone, three times) and once the trumpet (by Charlotte Keeffe). I wrote this project before, and the dual approach to music-making makes me use the word curious. When solo, the music is quite rocky, distorted at times and entirely free. Minimalism is undoubtedly part of the sound Pelzman goes for in his music. Once the machine is in motion, it stays in motion. Think of a heavier version of Velvet Underground without the same rhythm. The other side of Deludium Skies is when the other players come in. None of the guests is on the same track, which means only four are firmly solo. I don't know if it is the guests' input, but the music bends towards a more jazzy sound in these pieces, especially with the trumpet and saxophone. With the flute pieces, this too happens, but it all becomes dreamier. As before, I am not too blown away by these more jazz-inclined pieces, even if also in these pieces, the minimalist rock approach is a vital feature. With some of the saxophone, I am reminded of Doc Wör Mirran; even their saxophone player goes wild. But I realized the DWM comparison also goes further than that. Both of these projects have a strong interest in the studio construction (or rather, deconstruction) of a rock group, but with slightly different results. (FdW)
––– Address: https://xtelyonrec.wordpress.com/
THE REMAKQUELS - LOST WISDOM (CDR by Heavy Cloud)
Quite the package landed on my desk. A plastic bag with a fanzine, two CDRs (or three, perhaps; more later) and some cards. Behind The Remakquels, we find a duo of Hope Vitti and Lux Wanderer; something tells me these might not be their real names. "They formed in 2021 at film school over a bond of no wave music and new wave cinema". They were first known as The Belmondoes. This is not the first time that Heavy Cloud has presented us with film references (see also Vital Weekly 1372). There is also a live CDR. So, two or three? Before 'Lost Wisdom', they made an EP called 'The Remakquels', of which the eight tracks are also included on the CDR of 'Lost Wisdom'. That album is about forty-five minutes, and the EP is about twenty. Although the duo mentions a joint interest in the No New York bands (and beyond), their own music has very little to do with that. As far as I understand, their music deals with something that I call plunderphonics. Maybe their sources can be found in movies, lifted from the old VHS tapes mentioned somewhere, and with software, these are transformed into sound collages, leaning heavily on the sound effects used. It all sounds a bit cosmic and not very traditionally plunderphonics, i.e. not many sounds are easily recognized. Just as easily, they might be from somewhere else or not plundered at all. Ever since this package arrived, I played it a few times, but I found it hard to get into. I found the music to be pleasant most of the time, but none of it really stood out. Too short to be ambient music; it doesn't suck you into this, but it all remains a bit too cold and distant. There is not enough for me in here to hold on to. (FdW)
––– Address: https://heavycloud.bandcamp.com/
REMANENCE - SEPIADRONE (CD by Resonant Effects)
Brian McWilliams, we know best from his work as Aperus (see also Vital Weekly 1256). McWilliams is not somebody who produces a lot of releases, as he takes great care in producing the music and the packaging. It's been so long since I last heard music from Remanence that I can't remember it anymore. This is not a solo project of McWilliams, who plays samplers, various synthesizers, drums, rattles, metal plates, shortwave radio, and field recordings, but a duo that includes John Phipps on samplers, metal plates, shortwave radio and sample manipulation. As the two men no longer lived close by, the project had effectively ceased to exist. However, there was still a collection of unreleased pieces, which are now, reprocessed and remixed as 'Sepiadrone', with mastering by Rapoon's Robin Storey. Of course, there is no such thing as 'sepiadrones', but if you think about it, it works pretty well. Sepia suggests texture ("a reddish-brown colour associated particularly with monochrome photographs of the 19th and early 20th centuries"), which can also be said of 'drones'; lots of texture. Don't think of this music as one steady drone that majestically and minimally unfolds. With various metal plates and odd bits of percussion being sampled, there is a more musical aspect here. Think of Tibetan bowls being struck, field recordings and shortwave signals heavily processed, and sounds slowed down and stretched out. It is easy to think of influenced by the world of dark ambient, isolationism, Thomas Köner, Zoviet*France, Lustmord and Rapoon, even when Remanence doesn't use rhythm to a similar extent. Long-form pieces, easily going from six to ten minutes, with a few exceptions. According to the information, one should play this at a medium volume, which I did and promptly fell asleep. I am sure that will not be seen as a lack of interest, but (hopefully) as something this kind of music does. When I was fully awake again and put my mind to it, I noticed quite a bit of detail in the music, which is sometimes a bit buried deep within the music. To enjoy that, one must put the volume a bit more, and some details start to shine. Altogether a great release, a reminder of a great duo. (FdW)
––– Address: http://aperus.bandcamp.com
O YUKI CONJUGATE - A TENSION OF OPPOSITES VOLS 3 & 4 (cassette, private)
Now in its 40th year of existence, O Yuki Conjugate is still going strong. Going through various line-ups, but with Roger Horberry and Andrew Hulme as the common thread in their history. Their new cassette is a follow-up to the first instalment of 'A Tension Of Opposites' (see Vital Weekly 1275) and the result of working in isolation. The first one was at the height of lockdown and covid, but an idea they liked to repeat. Hume has five pieces on the first side, Horberry ten on the second, and you try to spot the differences in approach and do the maths as the total is the sound of O Yuki Conjugate. They label their music as dirty ambient, which is about the "process of working quickly and instinctively, embracing errors and honouring imperfections. It's also a jibe at what is sometimes a hideously manicured genre." It's easy to hear the typical OYC elements in the music here, the percussion, the bass sounds, the sparse synthesizers, the slightly exotic feeling and the 'dirty' elements, a bit of tape hiss, for instance. As before, Horberry likes to keep his pieces short and tends to be rhythmic. Hulme has four shortish pieces and one long piece, and, again, his music is a slightly more abstract ambient drift. Remember that these 'differences' aren't significant, as Hulme's pieces have a fair share of rhythm, just as Horberry's music is highly atmospherical. Hulme's pieces are, perhaps, more a collage of various sounds and textures, generally mixed in a free-floating manner, whereas Horberry's are kept together and have a song-like structure. Indeed, these approaches make up the music of O Yuki Conjugate. Let me end with the same conclusion as before; you can mistake this for a group effort, which is undoubtedly the point. (FdW)
––– Address: https://oyukiconjugate.bandcamp.com/
DAVID PARKER - WITCHES' BUTTER (cassette by Dirty Clothes Records)
I am trying to determine if I have heard of David Parker before; maybe the name is too generic. Just wondering if I had heard of a guitar player before by this name playing melodic ambient and drones with a touch of chords and musical structures... I would guess this is my first encounter with his music. Parker plays the guitars, upright basses, synths, voice, percussion, MIDI and software. Everything is carefully layered and mixed. On the first side, we find three pieces by Parker solo, and on the other side, he has three musical friends who do remixes of his music: Nick Schofield, Alex Unger (who goes by the name of ELMS) and Michael C. Duguay. I also never heard of these musicians. They remix the same tracks on the first side and in the same order. In solo mode, Parker plays longer, sustaining and quite fuzzy pieces of music. These pieces are long but never too long and have a great psychedelic quality. It is loud music, sure, but noise isn't a goal in itself here. I'd say there's a trippy element in the music; there is some talk about his young son and a book about mushrooms, but you could say that also reflects in the trippy nature of the music. In the title piece, Parker uses the slow bass thud as a rhythm, but otherwise, beats are absent.
For the remixes, there is a search for the same qualities in the music of Parker but with expansions to other genres. Schofield adds some delicate synthesizer parts and uses fewer guitars but opens these in hazy, shimmering textures. ELMS also adds rhythms, but now of a somewhat glitchy nature and has the guitars rather hissy and far away, but opens up at one and makes a sturdy heavy piece of rock music. In that respect, Duguay's remix is a fine closing piece, with some more relaxed beats, hammering away in the background, and the guitars get another layer of reverb, so it all becomes a bit more shoegazing. It is great to see the material for once to get 'more of the same' treatment but genuinely add something new. A very nice cassette! (FdW)
––– Address: https://david-parker.bandcamp.com/
GÜNTER SCHLIENZ - AUSFLÜGE I (cassette by Cosima Pitz)
GÜNTER SCHLIENZ - AUSFLÜGE II (cassette by Cosmic Winnetou)
As said last week, the package of Cosmic Winnetou that dropped on the doormat at HQ contained three cassettes, of which Modelbau and Celer were reviewed last week. The third cassette, "Ausflüge II", was from label owner Günter Schlienz and the reason why it was skipped last week was simply that it would be more fitting to combine its review with another release in the same series ", Ausflüge I" which came in this last week.
So, I first did to stroll around on the interwebz and see if there was information on Günter which could tell me a bit more about his background and previous releases. Because yes, never had I ever heard of him before. This is weird because it is the kind of ambient that might have come up somehow. I mean, modular, homemade electronics / synth-DIY, manipulated field recordings, guitar ambience, improvisation... But let's stick to what is known about the experimental music scene, and that is that it's all way larger than each of us individually thinks it is.
The first of the two cassettes is "Ausflüge I" on the Cosima Pitz label - which is not a label but a publisher with label activities. So there is a little 'meta-question that arises, seeing that a publisher publishes books with stories: Is "Ausflüge I" a publication in the form of a cassette with music, stories, or poems ... Or is it music released by a publisher that also happens to release cassettes nets to books and such. Well, it's a bit of both, actually, in my opinion. The four tracks are roughly between 10 and 20 minutes long, making this almost a C60. The titles are very descriptive in origin "Abendspaziergang", "Marsfrühstück", "Strandnachmittag", and "Nachtgewitter", and the music is ambient with a lot of improvisational characteristics. A dense drone layer and arpeggiated melody are almost the standard backdrops over which sounds are layered to tell the story. I can imagine why in previous reviews, the term New Age is also mentioned, but for me, personal New Age is more 'just a sound', while Günther very obviously invests in telling a story.
"Ausflüge II" is released on his own Cosmic Winnetou, a bit shorter. The artwork is in sync with the Cosima Pitz release, so a true sequel or 'twin'-release, and so yes, the track titles are again very descriptive. "Gewitternacht" and "Marsfrühstück II" are longer tracks that are recorded a bit more open/clear than the ones on the first cassette. The compositions seem more directed into an ambient piece with melody and even some rhythm and less on describing the feeling/emotions or the surrounding while wandering. Finally, "Tankstelle" is a 3-minute piece that seems to be made with the same setup and patch as the first tracks. The coherency between tracks is stronger in "Ausflüge II" because it sounds like the same basics for sound have been re-used, making part II stronger as a release. But honestly, it could do without several rhythmic sounds because the composition has enough drive without those. Nice work for fans of improvisational modular sounds. And I even think the improvised parts may be fitting for people who like jazz and ambient. (BW)
––– Address: https://cosimapitz.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://cosmicwinnetou.bandcamp.com/
MRM TRIO - EARS ARE FOR RINGING (cassette by Interstellar Records)
The name MRM Trio may suggest, perhaps, a jazz trio, and in a way, they are. MRM is an acronym for the first names in this trio; Marina Dzukljev (Eco Tiger organ), Richie Herbst (modular synthesizer) and Miodrag Gladovic (electric guitar, electronics). Not conventional instruments for a jazz trio, but undoubtedly one for a more improvisational trio. They started in 2019 at the 5th Improcon Congress Of Free Thought and Music, aiming to "discover hidden sounds through an improvisational play of dynamic and dense drones, processed, modulated and fused in a live setting". That certainly seems to be the case here on this cassette. This is the kind of music in which beauty reveals itself when played at some considerable volume. Full force or not at all. There seems to be no middle ground. That said, this is not the music of the overtly noisy variety. It is loud and intense but remains firmly rooted in drone music. The furious drone variation is not something I hear often; it was Tongues Of Mount Meru last week, but the MRM Trio is quite a different beast altogether. There are more changes here, even when very subtle, emphasizing the improvised nature than the longer-formed drones of Tongues Of Mount Meru. I think the variety of instruments also plays a role here. The guitar crashes in from time to time and sometimes walks along the drones played by the electronic instruments. Two long pieces of drones and the cassette end with 'Quiet Now', a more contemplative piece with the guitar in its most distinctly different form, playing shorter tones and chords. Great one! (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.interstellarrecords.at/
SICK DAYS - OTHER DUTIES AS ASSIGNED (cassette by Vacancy Records)
THE ARCHIVES ASSISTANT - DISC ROT (cassette by Vacancy Records)
CASUAL CTRL/FONDS (split cassette by Vacancy Records)
Two labels work with recycled cassettes that I enjoy very much (I love to hear of more) and that is Hyster Tapes (Finland) and Vacancy Records (Canada). I received three new cassettes from the latter, and label boss Jeffrey Sinibaldi is the man behind Sick Days (although the preferred way of writing is SICK DAYS). He describes his music as "day-in and day-out drudge-core field recordings & experiments + improvs & live installations", and on this cassette, we find recordings from 2021 to 2023. These recordings flow right into the next, on Side A, as it goes through various motions. Various recordings are mixed, so there is some obscured electronics bit, some birds, and even more obscured kitchen sink sounds. Throughout, there is a lovely lo-fi drone feeling in this music, mainly thanks to the various processed sounds, using old walkmans and Dictaphones. Rusty sounds bring out the best in Sick Days. Normally there is a more long-form, minimalist approach, which he now relegated to the second side, 'Toxic Productivity'. The tape machines are locked away and record a mechanized process (washing machine? or water mill?), and during the forty minutes, there is very little change in this piece. A tad more industrial than the other side and a bit too minimal. If anything, I'd say that side A is the way for Sick Days. This sort of intense lo-fi rumble and one-synth drone approach is what I like best.
While many of the releases by Vacancy Records are from the world of improvisation, drones and noise, The Archives Assistant is a bit of an oddball in the catalogue. 'Disc Rot' is Jordan Cook's (for it is him behind this alias) third release for this label. He plunders the dust bins of a library at the local radio station and samples what he sees fit, cooking up collages. I wrote before that his music isn't exactly pop, but on 'Disc Rot', he comes closer to pop. Rhythm and synthesizers, along with voice material, talking and whispering, play a primary role. Before I made the connection of The KLF meeting Zoviet*France, and on this new one, that link can still be made, but more organized, controlled, more song-like, if you will. The music reaches the outer shores of the ambient house, even when The Archives Assistant is not interested (yet!) in all too straightforward 4/4 beats. Otherwise, all the markings of fine chill-out music are present, and within eight tracks and forty minutes, there is a great wealth of music. Now, I understand that recycled cassettes mean limited edition, and there are only ten of this one, but I think it's about time somebody releases a best-of on a format that reaches more than two hands full of people!
The last one is a split release and the opposite of The Archives Assistant, as Vacancy serves a bunch of noise music. The funny thing is that behind the project on the first side, we find Jordan Cook again, playing "effects", along with his wife, Lisa Martina, on field recordings. Casual Ctrl is new, as 'Pacific Rim Job' is their first release. They made the field recordings on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. That bit of information helps identify the field recordings, being heavily treated insect sounds. The first three pieces are short and unconvincing exercises in noise music. The fourth one, 'interviewwithatree', is longer than the first three and picks up some interesting layers of noise over layers of insect recordings. That's more like it, but it's also the end of it. Next time a bit more of that kind of considered noise music, and leave the short bursts in the archive.
On the other side Fonds, "which is a project that makes available audio recordings + other sonic ephemera associated with the Vacancy Recs. universe — “a group of docs & files sharing the same origin & that have occurred naturally as an outgrowth of the daily workings of an agency, individual, organization….” I am sure that's not of much help. A recently discovered 3"CDR with no written information is the music of "unknown 3" cdr". The artist has no recollection of the contents and the sources. I made similar discoveries with embarrassing results that I leave to tell on another rainy day. Fonds is less noisy than Casual Ctrl , and more in the field of drone music, we find much of the label releases. Quite synth-based, this piece goes through various motions here and even, towards the end, looks up the cosmos. There is some rattling of percussion (shakers, mainly), and it is a lovely piece. Thankfully saved for eternity. (FdW)
––– Address: https://vacancyniagara.bandcamp.com/
PIANO BRUT - INSIDE & OUTSIDE (cassette by Grisaille)
SAVVAS METAXAS - OUTWARDS (cassette by Grisaille)
BRANDSTIFTER & JULIUS MÉNARD - NOBODY KNOWS (cassette by Grisaille)
After some silence, Germany's Grisaille picks up with four new releases (one elsewhere). The first one is by Piano Brut, which is by Sylvain Milliot. He might be the same person as the one by Véhicule, but I am not unsure of that. I was kind of hoping that this would include some rough piano music unless the name is a contradiction of piano (silent) and brut) (forceful). Like so much of the music by Grisaille, this is all quite moody, but this time it works a bit differently. Piano Brut is more in the style of good ol' musique concrète, a collage of sounds. It might be that these sounds originate at the piano, but it is more likely that Milliot takes his material left and right, sourced from radio, TV and vinyl and applies all sorts of effects to these. There is the odd female voice in here, resonators and granulators, and, at one point, some weird acoustic sound comes in (which sounds as if someone drops something in your room, totally apart from the music, but it blends in after that). Odd pieces, and some of it seem to be working better than other parts, but I think this is a pretty good release throughout.
I reviewed music by Savvas Metaxas before, and overall I enjoy his somewhat brutish approach to sound. I am unsure how he creates this music, but laptops might be a contender. There is an odd division in tracks here; on the first side, there is one that is about five minutes, plus one that is nine, while on the other side, there is one that is nine minutes. As said, I think there is something brutal in Metaxas's approach to his sounds and processes. No doubt, field recordings go into the machine; we hear the dying breath of dripping water. Whatever happens inside the computer, things erode, explode and mildly distort, but Metaxas shows he knows his classics well in his work. In some louder and cruder way, his music belongs to that old electronic school. Come to think of it, especially with 'Outwards III', I thought that Metaxas might not be a man of laptops but rather of modular electronics. That may explain his 'early electronics' inspiration. While at times loud and somewhat 'brutal', the music is never very noise-based. I think there is quite some deliberation and composition in these three pieces, and it offers quite a bit of dynamics, especially in 'Outwards II'. It's a pity this is such a short tape; I'd love to hear some of this.
In the art world, Brandstifter has quite some reputation with his work of found texts he picks up from the street, but he's also a musician. With label boss Julius Ménard, he made a tape in which he's responsible for the field recordings, which takes him outside. And when you pick text, you can also pick up sounds. Julius Ménard takes credit for 'overdubs', which, on Bandcamp, are explained as "guitar, synth & voice". Some of these field recordings are inside the house/gallery (whatever), and some are outside. Together with the music, it all blends neatly into one piece of obscured music. Ménard's drone sounds mingle with water and children, street sounds and a bike ride through the forest; 'Wir Fahren Durch Den Wald' takes up the entire second side and includes someone singing; I am not sure which of the two musicians. Sometimes the music has a more collage-like approach, such as 'Lessons In Trouble', collating multiple sources into one bit of music. From downright ambient ('Kindergarten', which reminded me of Dominique Petitgand) to a bit more abstract and slightly more noise oriented, offering an interesting mixed bag of pieces I found pretty good. (FdW)
––– Address: https://grisaille.bandcamp.com/
GROUPA - KIND OF FOLK - VOL. 4 IBERIA (CD by All Ice Records)
So, what prompted Groupa to supply Vital Weekly with a promo? I gather it is not our widespread knowledge of traditional folk music or the countless reviews in this field. There are none, as far as I know. Vital Weekly is not a platform for this kind of music. Curious to know more? Dig in:
––– Address: http://www.groupa.se