VITAL WEEKLY 23
WEEK 51

STRAFE F.R. - PIANOGUITAR (CD by Staalplaat)

I have copies of several things by Strafe FR and this is, oddly
enough, not necessarily because I like their music but because I am
not sure about it and I find so much of what they do mysterious and
completely alien. Lufthunger (Touch) is something I will listen to 4
or 9 times a year for as long as either one of us survives. It is
just so darn odd! These masters in the curious art of being unusual
have just brought out the CD titled Pianoguitar, a 26 track collage
of long and (quite) short pieces which bounce around between various
musical styles (including their own, whatever that is) often with
humour bordering on the Residential. However...several things put me
off -no apparent continuity and a nasty, cheap (no, it's not
financial discrimination or equipment snobbery) organ which may have
been intended to be so, but which quite ruined some tracks for me.
If only they'd held it in abeyance a little more often. I also
missed the fabulous field recordings featured on Lufthunger and
Ochsle. Maybe I am still waiting for them to stun me again in the
same way they did with Lufthunger. Unfortunately Pianoguitar falls
wide off the mark for me for this reason. Still it offers no clues
as to what planet they're from and that's a good thing. Great
material to plunder (oops! ) (MP) // address: <staal@euronet.nl>

SONIC FRACTAL - V-NT (CD by Multimood)

I have heard of but hardly heard, music generated through fractal
processing. I wonder if, judging from this title and the liner notes
indicating the lack of sequencers on this CD, whether it's content
falls into this category. Not that it makes a heck of a lot of
difference to me. Thick filtered webs float about with weird
percussive punctuation dusted onto them. Submerged layers swirl
upwards into a developing weave dragging their harmonics with them.
I kept anticipating a dramatic turn-about but the composition
continued blossoming into layers of toneclouds gradually
disintegrating into a rather repetitive loop a rather repetitive
loop. Several interesting bits but somehow it failed to shift my
gear. (HP) // address: <staal@euronet.nl>

THE MODERN PLAYBOYS - PLAYBOYS (CD by R & S Records)

Junglejazz leaps about in this exotic blend of speeding breakbeats
and comfortably strange jazzitudes. Tr 1 is a gentle glide on a
sliding bass into the soundspace of Pim and Alex Reece. It is a very
cool and laid-back place. Tr 2 is perhaps a more direct stab at a
larger dancefloor audience with it's heard-it-a-hundred-times-before
female vocal hook. Philistine that I am, I usually prefer
appropriated and (therefore) re-contextualized vocals on the trendy
dance hall type music I listen to. Tr 3 of this mini-cd is a
masterpiece...beautiful programmed shifty percussion rubbed up shiny
by a throbby bass. (MP)

THOMAS KONER - AUBRITE (CD by Barooni)

Somehow Thomas Koner seems to me to be busy defining space. His
compositions often strike me as the reverberation of an event
(probably very, very loud) a long way off, carrying with it in
extremely slow decay, slightly more than the residual audible
trails. This is sonic space filled with endless pulsations slowly
moving off into a void. There is no confinement here, no attempt to
wrap the listener in the sound. It moves overhead like a huge sheet
of slowly rippling metal filling the sky from the horizon to beyond
our backs. The sun is blotted out but the metal seems to reflect
trapped light. Everything is covered with a burnished hue. Something
on a long thread tentatively lowers itself out of the darkened sky
and hangs suspended above our heads. Gradually it passes and
brightness returns sliding out much like a sheet itself. Perhaps it
was a big planet gliding past so close you could touch it. Or the
sound of a sphere heard from inside itself. Where are we anyway,
Thomas Thomas (MP)

UNKNOWN PUBLIC - ECLECTIC GUITARS (CD by Unknown Public)

At last UP have produced a CD which I want to listen to from top to
bottom. It's on a much needed theme as well -dedicated to guitars
in their many guises and the wide variety of approaches to wielding
the instrument. We are treated to 15 tracks of guitar or guitar-
centred music, a contemporary classic by one-time bazooki player
Frank Zappa and the regular Scratchpad feature, which in their
entirety range from the sublime to a sample I have only ever heard
on Music With Sound by the Tape Beatles. Some clues...Robert Fripp's
String Quintet trots out mechanistic Yamanashi Blues (are their eyes
glazed yet ?) and there is an intriguing piece by Terry Edwards
which consists of the sounds of amplification (plus a few
footpedals) prior to actually plugging the guitar into an amplifier.
Seigen Ono provides one of the most irritating piece of music I have
heard for a while. Elliot Sharp's gusty track 'Omonok' could almost
be considered a prelude to 'Sandstorm' by G.P.Hall performed on a
flamenco guitar played with fingers.

David Toop continues to report back from the edge (of sound?) with
"Reverse World", where, beneath our feet, the dead walk upside down,
feet up and head down. Shit comes out of their mouths. Note that
this track is included on his new CD "Screen Ceremonies" on Wire
Editions -watch this space. '18 Guitars' composed by (not the)
J.P.Jones is a brittle, brilliant lattice; a trip into the hurtling
rhythmic oddities explored so well by Nancarrow and others. Next up,
the highly composed and extremely weird 'Chase' - a topsy-turvy
multi-scened audible film. The very bezerk 'Dead Silence' by Nick
Didkovsky hacks and wheezes it's way through a pantechnicon of notes
and the Scratchpad medley is as mad as ever. Finally Zappa calls the
proceedings to a halt through his Chrome Plated Megaphone Of
Destiny. Yow! The packaging is, as usual, comprehensive to the
point of it's outsize plectrum and includes details of the audible
contents in 3 languages. UP recently won the Prudential Award for
Music (read; profit from mortgages?) and have promised more regular
programming. If the quality and scope of this, their latest (Issue
06) is sustained, I'II probably have to resubscribe, dammit (MP)

KEELER - TRAPPED IN THE HIFI ZONE (MULTIMOOD)

This is the second CD by Keeler to appear on Multimood and hopefully
more will follow (Notes inside the booklet finally reveal more about
this peculiar composer). It is also the fourth collection out of
eleven that I have heard and, like 'The Age Of The Inventor' it
propelled me with the strangest of sounds to a mysterious place
where unfamiliarity rules. Keeler categorises his work as Sonic
Constructions and this is most apt. He creates structurally with
walls and slabs of sounds of and from varying dimensions. His
sources remain unknown, disguised by manipulation and massive
effects. Thick harmonic coils unwind at varispeed. The sound track
for tectonic movements on a ferrous planet. A jungle of twisted
steel, rusting undergrowth and flat crystalline lakes. Everything
reflects everything. We are on the pristine verge of a holographic
river which quietly erodes it's banks, softly preparing to spill
it's blur of memories. (MP)

JIM O'ROURKE - TERMINAL PHALLACY (CD by Tzadik)

This CD contains two new studio works by O'Rourke, the first to come
out since his 3" CD for Metamkine. I guess O'Rourke needs no
introduction... The two pieces work in contrast with each other.
'Cede' is an electro-acoustic composition and the title piece is an
ensemble piece. In 'Cede' O'Rourke places carefully electronic
sounds against acoustic sounds (those who were lucky to get a copy
of the 'Use' DAT only release by O'Rourke will recognize some of the
sounds). Sometimes there is pop music, or treated classical music
playing a long. As he explains on the cover. he started to use 'pre-
existing' music because that was 'already loaded and had its own set
of internal and extramusical connections, which made the formal
possibilities more interesting' .To me, this is a difficult way of
saying 'recycling' has become a greater part in his work. 'Cede' is
a strong piece of collage music. The second piece is also a collage
piece of music, but then using 'real' (whatever that may be)
instruments, namely accordions, cellos, clarinet, alto flutes, bass
flutes and acoustic guitar. Each of these play short sequences which
built up to decay afterwards. But I'm not so fond this (shorter)
piece, mainly because I don't like the sounds of the instruments so
much. (HP)