Vital Weekly, the webcast: we offer a weekly webcast,
freely to download. This can be regarded as the audio-supplement to
Vital Weekly. Presented as a radioprogramm with excerpts of just some
of the releases reviewed. It will remain on the site for a
limited period (most likely 2-4 weeks). Download the file
your MP3 player and enjoy!
LUCIANO MAGGIORE & MICHAEL SPEERS - NECESSE EST NUMQUAM REVELARE STERCOREM TUUM (CD by Krim Kram) *
TED BYRNES - ROADS (CD by Krim Kram) *
LDSN & YAKKIDA - CAN YR YSGOL (cassette by Krim Kram) *
BYRNE:KOZAR:DUO - IT FLOATS AWAY FROM YOU (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
JON NELSON & TOM KOLOR - SECRET MESSAGES (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
TRAPEZE - LEVEL CROSSING (CD on Circum Disc) *
VÉHICULE - AUBUSSON (CD by Sublime Retreat) *
GUILLAUME GARGAUD - KOENJI (CD, private) *
MARC RICHTER - COH BÂLE (LP by Celulle 75) *
LEITMOTIV LIMBO - SUPERIOR STATE (LP by De La Catessen) *
PAULINE HOGSTRAND - ÁHKKÁ (LP by Warm Winters) *
DIRECTIVES - GLIMMER (CDR by Aubjects) *
MODELBAU - INSOMNIAC'S DREAM (CDR/cassette by Aphelion Editions) *
SHIFTS - WHAT REMAINS (cassette by Grisaille) *
AMBER BAJU - LES PETITS BOUTS (cassette, private) *
ANTONIO DELLA MARINA - FADES / COSTELLAZIONE (book, private)
LUCIANO MAGGIORE & MICHAEL SPEERS - NECESSE EST NUMQUAM REVELARE STERCOREM TUUM (CD by Krim Kram)
TED BYRNES - ROADS (CD by Krim Kram)
LDSN & YAKKIDA - CAN YR YSGOL (cassette by Krim Kram)
Slowly, the Irish label Krim Kram builds an interesting catalogue, a melting pot of noise, improvisation, outsider music, some oldies and everything in between. Here are their three latest releases.
"Michael Speers and Luciano Maggiore make music contemplating the kernel of black metal", I read on Bandcamp. That's not something I would have figured out myself by only hearing the music. I admit I totally forgot about Michael Speers' cassette 'Damped, Driven System' (Vital Weekly 996). He plays drums, computers, microphones, and feedback in concerts and art installations. Luciano Maggiore's music has been reviewed a couple of times. We learn that his "is characterised by the use of speakers and several analogue/digital devices (samplers, CD players, walkmans, tape recorders) and addresses the performativity of the musical act, the perception of it, and the obscurity that emanates from it." Both musicians have a variety of releases on such labels with a conceptual knack as Balloon & Needle, Consumer Waste, Hideous Replica, Senufo editions, and Xing. The title may translate as 'It Is Necessary To Ever Discover Your Fertiliser' if Google Translate is anything to go by. There is nothing here that reminds me even remotely of black metal. The first piece (no titles) has a high-pitched frequency going about, with a voice being heavily processed, reciting a text that we don't understand. Halfway through, Speers adds a prolonged drum sound. Quite a wild one that, at the same time, is also very empty. The music is minimal like it has been heavily compressed, with a voice that speaks to us out of a bottle, highly obscured electronics buzzing far away. More sound poetry than black metal. The cover has a font that reminded me of disco, but because it's all white, it has that same idea of emptiness that the music has. I'm sure there is some conceptual edge that I am missing here. Still, I enjoy the music quite a bit, even when it is not something you stick to for a bit of fun.
Ted Byrnes, we know as a drummer of improvised music, and he's playing solo acoustic percussion on 'Roads'. The inside carries this "BLM FTP ACAB', which, I assume, adds a political dimension to his music. Not that we hear any of that in his music. Over the years, Byrnes has played with Jeff Parker, Chris Cooper, Charlie Mumma, Sam McKinlay, William Hutson, and a trio with Jacob Wick and Michael Foster, among others. His background is in jazz, and he works with free improvisation, new music, electro-acoustic music, and noise. There are seven pieces on this CD, the shortest at 4:02 and the longest at 4:09 - maybe that has a reason, too, a connection with the three acronyms. The seven titles read like one sentence, "May The Road Rise To Meet You'. The music is wild and improvised but not necessarily full of chaos, at least not always. 'To' is almost like a fast march and an interesting diversion out of the land of hectic. To stick with the title, the road is quite bumpy. I like that Byrnes plays with the notion of variation here, organisation versus chaos. In his approach to percussion, we recognise the kit as such, and I believe he uses sticks and brushes to play the music; Byrnes stays away from all too different techniques and objects. At just under thirty minutes, with this kind of intensity, I think this is also the right sort of length. At least, for me, that worked best.
And finally, on cassette, music by LSDN and Yakkida. The first name is an acronym for Lauren de Sá Naylor, a writer and artist from Todmorden. She has previous releases on labels such as Chocolate Monk, Invisible Animals, Cardboard Club, and Fort Evil Fruit, and Hilary Knott is behind the name Yakkida. She's from Leeds, sometimes works as Basic Switches, and is a member of the indie-rock trio Cowtown. On their cassette, there are four live pieces: one recorded live in Nottingham and three in Todmorden (but I don't think live), and LSDN and Yakkida play/use voices, loops, field recordings, bells, drums and harmoniums. The title translates as 'The School Song'. The pieces are quite different. The opening song from Nottingham, 'Laughing And Bells', lives up to its name. There are many bell sounds, a bit of laughing at the end, free rambling harmonium, mouth organs and percussion, all of which give the piece a relatively free folk atmosphere. Voices play a big role in 'Seven Corpses', singing and narrating, using several layers. 'Yn Ofnys O Dwr A Hedfan' also has the voices of both musicians, and the free folk is now more organised. Great pieces, but the final piece, 'Pine Road', is the real winner. Perhaps this is the one piece that uses a variety of field recordings, loops of wind instruments, some bell-like sounds, and voices now a bit more in the background, adding to the overall spooky atmosphere of this piece, almost like an obscure forest ritual. Very nice. (FdW)
––– Address: https://krimkram.bandcamp.com/
BYRNE:KOZAR:DUO - IT FLOATS AWAY FROM YOU (CD by New Focus Recordings)
JON NELSON & TOM KOLOR - SECRET MESSAGES (CD by New Focus Recordings)
New Focus leaves it up to the artists whether releases are digital-only (for file download) or actually appear as a physical release. As we do not really review digital releases, this has reduced the volume of NFR reviews by more than half. Add to this the summer break, which has been quiet around NFR releases lately. I need to catch up on this now. The two releases picked out here are the two latest. But, coincidence or not, subsequent releases often have something in common with NFR. In this case, the use of brass instruments with a single other instrument in a duo setting.
The first, by the newly formed Byrne:Kozar:Duo, pairs soprano vocals with a trumpet. This sounds really odd. On the other hand, Andy Kozar has already collected a lot of experience in the group Loadbang (reviewed in Vital 1356), where trombone, bass clarinet, and trumpet are mixed with baritone vocals. Thinking back to that release ('Quiver'), a thread matches the corresponding brass/wind instrument to the vocal timbre. So, the trumpet and soprano voice should go well together in pitch. Nevertheless, I also remember not being too fond of the work Loadbang presented.
Byrne:Kozar:Duo have a slightly different approach to Loadbang, maybe facilitated by only being two musicians which allows them to be more focused whilst having nowhere to hide in the mix. The various compositions differ strongly, being from a line of composers, but mainly, the trumpet acts as the accompanying instrument with the voice performing melody lines. This is not actually fully true, as the different pieces represent different musical ideas. But maybe, as a listener, you simply consider the voice leading, the instrument trailing by default. The music, in general, is melodic, or even if it flies, the 'contemporary' colours are at least a little dissonant. Byrne/Kozar also perform baroque music for trumpet and voice - which I had not heard of and is not represented on this release. But it may explain the melodic feel of this album. In Alexandre Lunsqui's piece 'Solis', the first track, trumpet and voice follow similar patterns, like chasing each other through staccato and lyrical parts. Very tight. 'It Floats Away..' by Beth Wiemann turns poetry by Marianne Moore into music. I am not a fan of much of contemporary poetry, finding a lot of it preposterous. Luckily, following the words in the music is hard - you can read them in the booklet if you want. Or just don't. The three parts of 'It Floats' set vocals and trumpet lines against each other, seemingly independent of each other. Still, the three parts work very well. 'Lonely Grave' by Li Qi is the one bit of poetry I really liked. It is based on ancient Chinese poetry by Su Shi and is a reminiscence of a lost love. The music reflects this and consists of long drawn sounds played through a veil or mist. This piece uses electronics to create multiple layers, which considerably helps the mood.
The further pieces by Vid Smooke, Christian Carey, Lei Liang, and again Lunsqui use the approaches displayed up to here to create similar sounding pieces. The only exception is Lunsqui, with tightly played trumpet lines and voices following each other expertly. Only when scanning the liner notes was I aware that the Duo is actually a married couple. Talking of excellently harmonised instrumental lines. This leaves two pieces to contemplate further. One is the three-movement Jeffrey Gavett's 'Proof of Concept for floating child', which revolves around a concise text. It is unusual as it uses rhythmic sounds of breath and mouthed noises interlaced with a nearly baroque setting of harmonies at times. And finally, Chris Cresswell's 'All that is left is dirt and sky'. I must say, what I definitely liked about this release was the titles. Again, in 3 parts, we find a piano accompaniment in contrast to the other pieces. Long-drawn reverb and background hiss create an unworldly atmosphere in which the trumpet is actually a bit superfluous. If it had been left off, the pieces would have worked even better; pity the trumpet. This composition is one of my favourites on this release - having listened to the duo for some length, the expansion to more sound layers and the subdued atmosphere were a real treat.
Jon Nelson and Tom Kolor - also a duo - also trumpet but now teaming with percussion. As noted sometime earlier in a review, this is challenging, as there is little means to create lasting sounds, the percussion rather limited to, well, 'percussive' sounds. Again, we have composers contributing, five in total, thus collecting several different styles. 'Secret Messages', the title track by Moshe Shulman, leaves the trumpet to create a line of melody whilst metal and bell sounds rattle alongside. Dave Ballou contributes two pieces. The first 'Samskara' is for solo trumpet. 'For vibraphone and trumpet' sees Kolor join, again with bell-like sounds, now following the long-drawn trumpet lines with a sound that matches the trumpet timbre, merging the sounds to some extent.
Jeffrey Stadelman contributes three 'Korals', short 'sketches' of music. A short trumpet solo (is this being mean to the percussionist again?), then an ironic piece reminiscent of a street-corner duo, and a longer piece, the first he composed in this series, which combines electronics and percussion - and percussion-triggered electronics - into a more abstract piece of contemporary music. No trumpet this time. The last two tracks by Dafnis Prieto and Emil Harnas 2 are around ten minutes and now bring the two sound worlds together more seamlessly. The percussion works through a range of instruments, thus much better following the lines of the trumpet through the various sounds it contributes. The last track, 'Ice fishing in Kanona' again adds electronics to build more layers, which, as before, does the piece a lot of good. Nevertheless, all in all (apart from the last tracks), it is not my favourite. I would rather go for that married couple, to be honest. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/
TRAPEZE - LEVEL CROSSING (CD on Circum Disc)
There is a constant undercurrent discussion about whether we should be reviewing jazz releases here. It is a bit of an individual decision, including how 'nonconventional' the release is. This one is a bit of a no-brainer, as it builds a small bridge between the contemporary and free jazz scene and the Schimpfluch conglomerate, something we will undoubtedly consider worth reviewing here.
Trapeze is a new 'super group', or maybe a one-off project between Joke Lanz of Sudden Infant and Schimpfluch, teaming up with trombonist Michael Mueller, saxophonist Sakina Abdou, and drummer Peter Orins. Although you could expect a free jazz music racket - this is slightly different. The first piece, 'A nap in the drawer,' starts with something you could even describe as a 'real' instrument drone. Apart from showing a sense of humour, 'Driving lesson' (some mimicked horn honking included) follows more down the lines of free improvisation (which it certainly is) but in a tighter and more focused manner than expected. The sound level is relatively low, and the instruments seem to rather complement each other than work against or independently of each other. Lanz contributes turntables, the occasional voice (I believe it's him), and the honks (not sure what source he was using), whereas the brass plays around the hectic percussion. 'Level crossing' has some recognisable turntable scratching but is otherwise extremely subdued, delivering a more 'quasi-drone' atmosphere—a welcome pause after the hectic middle part of track 2.
Track four, the title track, comes closest to a free improv/free jazz piece. Starting with a more or less solo part of the trombone, the saxophone joins later, and the percussion is added towards the end of the piece. In contrast, 'Disco Kid' sports more turntable contributions (at least they are best recognised here), with some vocal samples. Apart from that, we encounter more layers of sound with more variety in the instrumental lines. The percussion is still hectic (but then, what options does it have?). And some humour again, considering the 'strange' sounds towards the end. Finally, 'A new bike by parcel' starts very calmly (expectations building?) and gradually grows into a bit of a racket towards the end - again, the 'racket' bit remains surprisingly low profile on this release - the joy of the parcel arriving? Overall, it is a listenable release and a good example of moddy-free improvisation if carefully applied. (RSW)
––– Address: https://circum-disc.bandcamp.com/
VÉHICULE - AUBUSSON (CD by Sublime Retreat)
'Aubusson' is the fourth album by Véhicule, the musical project of Sylvain Milliot. I believe I had not heard the previous three. The title is the name of a French city known for its tapestries (there is something new to learn every day). I think there is the idea that we see each of the nine pieces as a tapestry of sound. The Sublime Retreat label already has a few releases in that respect, and yet Véhicule makes a pleasant diversion of what the label typically releases. Not a lot of gritty, obscured field recordings, not grainy synthesisers and cassette manipulation. "All the tracks have in common that they share a mood or a certain colour and carry emotions, like a vehicle, a poem or a sound metaphor", but my French is insufficient to translate the titles. Véhicule uses various instruments, such as keyboards, flutes and samples, and plays these improvised. These recordings are then treated and rearranged on the computer. There is a delicate balance between these acoustic instruments and electronic sounds. The improvisational music element never entirely disappears from the music, and at the same time, the cutting and rearranging give the music a new dimension. Sometimes, parts are repeated or cut up and have a slight stuttery element. The music is melodic and pleasant to hear; there is none of that dystopian soundtrack that this label also releases. The darkness is here relatively grey as the music veers towards lighter and brighter. There is something rather intimate about the music here, reminding me of Dominique Petitgand, less the voices (the only voice here is on the traditional (as in from the Auvergne region) song 'L'in-fiddle'), and perhaps Véhicule is all a bit complex in approach while maintaining that intimate living room atmosphere. It took me some time to grow into this album, maybe because of the improvised part of it, but the more I heard it, the more I liked it: a slower but steady grower. I started to see more organisation here and recognised the tiny tunes captured for what they are; damn fine tunes. (FdW)
––– Address: https://sublimeretreat.bandcamp.com/
GUILLAUME GARGAUD - KOENJI (CD, private)
Guillaume Gargaud is a French guitarist and composer who lives and teaches in Le Havre. He has several releases on his name. It’s just him and his acoustic (steel string) guitar here. In just over a half hour, Gargaud whips up (mostly) tonal and relaxing-sounding music, very Manonfriendly. My wife said to me that she liked the music very much. I do, too. That is not to say that this is the background music of even worse new-age music. The release merits attentive listening because a lot happens within each part. Part Six, the release contains seven parts and has jittery plucking and movement up and down the fretboard, including harmonics. Part seven, on the other hand, has a more reflective mood. He’s a virtuoso on the guitar, but not in a showing-off kind of way. It’s all in service of his ideas, and he has many. There are so many that some beautiful ideas come and go and never return, which merits repeated listening. Parts may change in mood over time. And there’s never a dull moment on this release. If you want to know more about Gargaud, I recommend checking his website: https://guillaume-gargaud.fr/. Just before ending this review, I saw he has a release with the late and great Burton Greene called Magic Intensity. That’s worth checking out as well. (MDS)
––– Address: https://guillaumegargaud.bandcamp.com/album/koenji
MARC RICHTER - COH BÂLE (LP by Celulle 75)
In 2009, Black To Comm released the 'Alphabet 1968' on Type Records (see also Vital Weekly 703). Reading the review now, I am sure I enjoyed the album, but apparently it became some kind of classic in Marc Richter's (the man behind Black To Comm) catalogue; it will be re-issued later this year. I mention this release because 'Coh Bâle' contains eighteen pieces of music from Richter in the years following 'Alphabet 1968'. He used vintage shellac and vinyl loops on that album, which he (perhaps!) also does here, along with acoustic sources, such as pianos, flutes, wood percussion, viola, tablas and autoharp. During residencies, he picked up sounds from children's voices to synths at INA-GRM or a piano in Greece. His inspiration lies with Nonesuch Explorer and Ocora LPs, Cramned Records, 80s Mediterranean ambient, Deux Filles and Asa Chang & Junray. Eighteen songs crammed on a piece of vinyl means that Richter keeps his musical compositions short and to the point. I readily admit that I haven't heard a significant portion of Richter's catalogue. Still, his work also makes a solid impression and the musical diversity here on 'Coh Bâle' is no different. It's easy to see the many inspirations coming back here, not as a one-on-one copy, but using these freely in all sorts of combinations. There is a bit of synth mixed voices, some kind of percussion there with plucked strings here, and all of this in a mostly joyous mood, perhaps more joyful than I remember much of his earlier work. Certainly, darkness is also a presence in the music here, but not throughout and not full-on. There is more of a sense of melancholia in a few of these pieces, but again, not throughout. 'Zweitausendzweiundzwanzig' is one wacky doodle piece of pleasant electronics and noise interruptions. But it's evident that Richter enjoyed these little sound collages, combining seemingly unrelated sounds and worlds, which one could see as a work of musique concrčte, but with essentially different results. More 'My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts', using a much broader musical world of sound. I had this on repeat a few times, and like a true explorer, I kept hearing new paths in the jungle of sound. Excellent. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cellule75.bandcamp.com/
LEITMOTIV LIMBO - SUPERIOR STATE (LP by De La Catessen)
While I recognized the Leitmotiv Limbo immediately, I was surprised that I had already reviewed four previous releases by Elijah Värttö's music project (Vital Weekly 951, 1152, 1219 and 1336). All of these were on cassette, but now it's time to do the next step and release an LP. The music is ready for it, I'd say. Värttö sounds like a Finnish name, but he's from Adelaide, just like the label here, who also re-issued the 'Spiritual Disturbance' cassette on CD. The press information talks about "invented instruments, analogue filters, drum synth" and influences of Pan Sonic, Studio 1 (Wolfgang Voigt rather than the dub label), Freiland, but also Werkbund, Asmus Tietchens, Achim Wollscheid and Goem. Some of these names I am very familiar with, and while I can't say these people don't influence him, I also believe that maybe, except for Werkbund and Tietchens, I don't hear these influences to that extent. Rhythm plays an undeniable part in the music here. Still, there is only some of that 'techno that isn't techno' of Pan Sonic or Goem here (more the latter than the first, in 'Parading Brutality', for instance), nor the conceptual edge of somebody such as Wollscheid. In these twelve pieces, I hear more of a nod towards mid-80s industrial music, where you can find albums by Tietchens of similar musical interests. Also, given the more loop-like approach, a group like Dome (in 'Relative Space', for instance). This LP is a giant leap forward compared to the previous cassette works. There was naivety in his older work, which was most enjoyable, but rightfully, it was time to move on. Leitmotiv Limbo now exercises more control, more composition, if you will. There is less of that 'roll the tape and see what happens' approach, but the music here is to the point. There is no endless wailing about, but each of the twelve compositions is just that. Not too industrial, never noisy, but with a studio-as-instrument approach, exploring uncharted territory on the sonic map. I can hardly wait for the next one. (FdW)
––– Address: https://delacatessen.bandcamp.com/
PAULINE HOGSTRAND - ÁHKKÁ (LP by Warm Winters)
Born in the Northeast of Sweden and currently living in Denmark, violinist and composer Pauline Hogstrand. She plays with baroque and contemporary ensembles and composes electro-acoustic music. 'Áhkká' is her second album, following 'The Enterer' in 2020. The music on this album is part of her electro-acoustic work, as there isn't much violin here. At least, not that I heard. For all I know, it is obscured by hefty processing and the addition of electronics. The title means 'the old lady' in Lule Sámi, the queen mountain of Lappland. The music is not unlike a mountain, especially the first side, which contains a beautiful drone piece, 'Herein'. It's massive but not loud and full of small details. It has a church organ-like sound, but it probably is all electronics. The cover mentions a sample by Ekkoflok, a.k.a. Valdemar Kristensen, who also built the synthesiser Hogstrand plays on this piece. The music isn't static but moving, slow and steady, and all with that keen eye for detail and being massive at the same time. 'Magnitude', the piece on the other side, is a wholly different kind of thing. It starts with what I think could be processed low-end violins and electronics. It all slowly opens up and breaks down after some minutes. After that, the music is quieter and opener, still drone-like, moving quicker into various sounds. Variation is the keyword here. I believe the violin plays a more significant role than on the other side, yet still, it is not always easily heard. I think this is an excellent album with some great, mysterious-sounding music, dark, drone-like and, at the same time, not sounding all too similar. Even when not thinking about this music in terms of folklore, mountains and the old lady, but maybe more abstractly, this is some highly evocative music. Hogstrand has a unique sound, blending the best of drone music and electro-acoustic music practice into two great pieces of music. (FdW)
––– Address: https://paulinehogstrand.bandcamp.com/album/hkk
DIRECTIVES - GLIMMER (CDR by Aubjects)
It's been a while since I heard 'Protenomaly', the previous release by D. Petri, also known as Directives (Vital Weekly 1299). Petri is also a member of Amalgamated, and there are musical links all around here. Ambient music is the word that connects Petri's projects, but it is not reasonably traditional ambient. For one, rhythm plays a vital role in 'Glimmer'. The source material, so we are informed, are "lo-fi cassette-recorded guitar improvisations, cassettes and reels from personal archives and iPhone recordings purposefully captured in significant places and moments", and instruments also used are a zither and various percussion. All of which Petri took to the computer and worked on quite complex pieces of music. Before, I called this the 'studio-as-instrument' approach, but maybe that is an all too common thing for many of the releases reviewed in these pages. Petri pays homage to his time love for Severed Heads, Haruomi Hosono / YMO, and various Mille Plateaux and Raster Music releases. I believe I hear influences from The Orb and such ambient dance-oriented bands, music for chill-out spaces but also with some rhythm. The long, spacious opening piece, 'Is', is an example. Tribalesque rhythm, dubby echoing effects, minimal and relaxed music. That is the direction these eight pieces take on this album, perhaps a bit rougher around the edges than The Orb, which, all the same, gives the music a nicer feel, I think. Pieces are, in general, quite long, six to twelve minutes, but easily hold up the length. It may be minimal, but each song has sufficient change to hold the attention. The instruments used may not always be recognized as such, but those grainy guitars are surely a presence in each piece, no matter how far away they appear in the mix. Just like ambient music, you can listen to music on a more conscious level, take it all in by paying attention, or enjoy the music subconsciously and let it flow as it comes along. Either way worked well; I tested both on this sunny late August morning and found them working quite well. (FdW)
––– Address: https://directives.bandcamp.com/album/glimmer
MODELBAU - INSOMNIAC'S DREAM (CDR/cassette by Aphelion Editions)
Someone asked me recently if I never got bored of repeatedly reviewing the music of the same artists. My answer was that it all depends on the music they make. There are artists that you don't 'click' with. And if that would be an artist with a high output, I would at some point state that it's 'more of the same' or maybe '1 out of 10 ain't bad' or something like that. It's a bit of a Merzbow thing: Out of his 400 releases, I have maybe 5 or 10, and it's more than enough.
But at the same time, some artists have a reasonably high output (read: higher than myself / 1 per 2 years), and I rarely get fed up with it. Sure, I have my remarks about some of their tracks or releases, but every time I hear new work, they surprise me in a way. And without sucking up to the boss, Modelbau is one of those projects. Through Vital Weekly, I heard way more from Modelbau than I ever held possible. And every time I hear a new release, it somehow triggers me. Let's explore this one as an example.
"Insomniac's Dream" is available as a digital download, on cassette and CDr. It contains four tracks between 9 and 13 minutes, resulting in 46 minutes of... well... Modelbau. These tracks were written in 2018 and simply numbered I to IV. Where (I think) I know Modelbau more from a droney approach where complex delays and tape structures form a repetition of modulations and sounds, "Insomniac's Dream" has a way more soundscapish approach. Massive layers of deep rumble and backgrounds are pushed into the perspective of the foreground. In contrast, the miniature finesses of everyday life are pushed towards the back, resulting in - what was to be expected - a dreamlike state where it's hard to tell the reality from the dream. The B-side adds heavily filtered sounds, touching the point of feedback but never tipping the scale, and the closing track dives a bit deeper into subtle noisiness. Without it ever becoming noise, though: at most, a bit 'raw'.
So isn't there anything bad on "Insomniac's Dream"? Well, I would have chosen a different opening sound for track II. Compared to the relaxing state track I soothe you, you are roughly awakened by an alarm. But having said that, recheck the title. Isn't that what this release is about? Don't you think an insomniac wants to sleep? And why is (s)he awake, because some inner alarm says so! So, well, yes, I would have chosen a different method/sound to get that effect, but It's not my release; it's Modelbau's, and he did a beautiful job. (BW)
––– Address: https://aphelioneditions.bandcamp.com/album/insomniacs-dream
SHIFTS - WHAT REMAINS (cassette by Grisaille)
The Belgian / English project 48 Cameras once wrote a gorgeous track entitled 'May the circle remain unbroken', and somehow, I was thinking and philosophizing about this title. All things start, and all things end, except the almighty circle. But we don't always want things to end. And then again, not everything that has ended has really ended; it might also be the start of something new. And having said that, some things do end forever, and what is left is "What Remains".
Shifts was a project by Frans de Waard (no introduction, read the interwebz), and it was based on experiments with a guitar and a motorized object that - with an elastic band - had some crude eBow-like function. But as it was an actual motor, it also had some beautiful electromagnetic disturbances when used on an electric guitar. Next to that, there was the eagerness to do something with guitar-based ambient, so these three ingredients formed Shifts. Also, Discogs will tell you about most of the releases there were, and I'll focus on this one. Because this will be the final Shift. This is all "What Remains".
During the inventory of some older recordings stashed away on DATs, these tracks turned up, and a total of one hour of beautiful sounds and music is the result. Yes, I wrote sounds and music, not only 'music'. It's a collection of pieces where some are more crystalized towards a real composition, and some pieces are audible experiments. But VW being a magazine for experiments, you could expect that. So, are these experiments also music? They definitely are! But as not everybody can handle the crudeness of experiments, I wanted to emphasize it.
Nine pieces with a total playing time of just under an hour. Mostly they were recorded live in the studio (thank heavens for Frans' thorough documentation drift), a few were heavily manipulated afterwards on either tape or in the computer, and one is an unused extract for the first full album 'Pangea' (Elsie & Jack, 1998) and there is one piece that is based on sounds borrowed from Stars of the Lid, who were of big influence/inspiration to Frans when it came to his Shifts project. With the sad passing of Brian McBride earlier this week, the whole thought of circles being unbroken got extra meaning. For Shifts, "What Remains" is what remains ... (BW)
-––– Address: https://grisaille.bandcamp.com/album/what-remains
AMBER BAJU - LES PETITS BOUTS (cassette, private)
Work by Jeroen Diepenmaat has a solid conceptual and usually visual edge, but as these things sometimes go, Diepenmaat also wants to create music without much concept. Enter Amber Baju, his alter ego, who plays N.O.I.S.E., which acronym stands for Naive Organic Improvised Subtle Electronics. He's part of the Nieuwe Electronische Waar program, helping him with this career move. Usually, this organisation deals with music that is more rhythmic and electronic, but off and on, there is room for an ambient artist (Invisible Ralf, from the glorious city of Vital Weekly, is also part). There are no instruments mentioned on the cover or Bandcamp, but I assume Amber Baju works with a small modular set-up and some pedals, with occasionally something being looped. I believed I heard a guitar in some pieces, but maybe I was wrong. The word 'subtle' is the keyword in the nine pieces on this cassette. It's a bit bleepy and bloody but not chaotic. In each track, longer threads are woven, keeping the pieces together. Around those are sparks, flashes and rays of electronics going around in a free-form modus. It's ambient music, but not of the most traditional variety. According to Diepenmaat, all pieces were recorded in one take and have a sketch-like approach; I admit I didn't notice any of that, as it seemed all pretty tight music. Shimmering and atmospheric, the music is a bit dark, fitting perfectly the conditions of today, which seems like the start of autumn. It's lovely stuff, quiet and subdued, but without the traditional massive drone pads. Let's hope Diepenmaat will explore more in this new guise. (FdW)
––– Address: https://jeroendiepenmaat.bandcamp.com/
ANTONIO DELLA MARINA - FADES / COSTELLAZIONE (book, private)
This one is weird, but definitely something of interest to us droneheads. Antonio della Marina released an indeed fabulously executed book (hardcover, shiny ink on matte black, 200 pages) to guide his work "Fades/Costellazioni". The book comes with a card containing details on how to log into a website where you can listen to the result - which I did. But somehow, I find it challenging to write about this, as it is meant to be heard in a certain space and setting. But! I will try.
The basics of "Fades/Costellazioni" is a continuous process of slow cross-fades between harmonic structures created with electronic sounds carefully tuned to each other. That is what's on the website. Simply said, the piece shows sounds produced according to a specific algorithm that is all in some way connected. Yes, 'shows', the visual aspect is a constellation of the frequencies and the coherence between that point; The particular sound depicted is emphasized and played as a drone/chord/sound. The notation system inspired the 'constellation' of possibilities for just intonation invented by the Mexican-American music theorist Erv Wilson. A final fact: The 1/1 root note is an A at 432 Hz located in the centre.
All possibilities of coherent notes forming the chords are depicted in the book, so as a reading book, it's not very interesting, but it's the book that gives you access to the website, and that's what it's about. I can imagine it will be an installation that will be seen in several MOMA's in the future, but to travel half the world to see this is maybe too much. The next best thing is this book and access to the website where you can at least hear the beauty of sine waves connected through logic. Very beautiful and moments of Eliane and Eno.
So I asked myself: Is it a website I will visit frequently? And I answered myself too: Not really. In fact, I was a bit saddened that there was only a card in the book and not a CD where Antonio (or some other artist) took the output of the constellations' chords and created a journey within a limited amount of time. Don't get me wrong, the book, artwork and website are great, but ... The book's opening paragraph says it all: 'It is to be considered like a sculpture, a painting, or as architecture'. In this day and age, I would love to have a giclée of a painting or a copy of a sculpture at home, not paint something myself or listen to stones being carved each time I visit a website. With an additional release - or releases - of the artist travelling through a constellation, or maybe even several artists travelling and becoming aware of how their journeys differentiate - and why. Now, THERE would be an exciting addition. (BW)
––– Address: https://www.antoniodellamarina.com/