number 384
week 33


HANS FJELLESTAD - 33 (CD on Accretions)
GIRLFRIENDS - GEERT (CD by Beta Lactam Ring)
(CDR by Absurd)
by Accretions)
GEL: - DOLCE (CD by Plop)
LOOPROAD - ACIDFAKETRAX (CDR by Acid Fake Recordings)
MAJA RATKJE - VOICE (CD by Rune Grammofon)
HUBBUB - HOOP WHOOP (CD by Matchless Recordings)




HANS FJELLESTAD - 33 (CD on Accretions)
Fjellestad is a California-based composer, video-artist and
performer. He studied music composition and improvisation with George
Lewis at UCSD and piano with Krzysztof Brzuza. He is a founding
member of the Trummerflora Collective, a group of musicians in San
Diego that are involved in improvised and creative music. His work
with this collective as well as many other contributions and
collaboration are documented on the Accretions-label.
With '33' he gives his debute 'Red, Sauce Baby' (2000) a follow up.
His first album was filled with compositions and improvisations. It
had a great diversity. Pieces for solo prepared piano,
electroacustic music and pieces for a big ensemble. In contrast for
his new album Fjellestad is doing it all by himself.
So we have a totally different album here. At the center of this
album is the piano. But it is not just to say it is an album of solo
piano music. Okay, we hear the conventional sound of the piano, but
also many other sounds that Fjellestad somehow tackled from the
piano. So Fjellestad makes use of many different extended techniques,
but also of many different instruments like accordion, megaphone,
sampler, etc. play a role. Also field recordings that Fjellestad made
during his trips, are used. In pieces like 'Pica' and 'Mink Eyed' he
stays very close to the piano, but in most of the other pieces,
Fjellestad creates a big environment for the piano, using other
soundsources. Enclosed information tells it is "an exploration of
uncharted textures and strange tangents that often venture far from
the piano keyboard into fantastical electronic soundscapes, but
eventually always returning tot the black and whites, hammers and
strings, the source."
But what about the music? Fjellestad leads us through 13 compositions
making up about one hour of music. How ingenious the music may be in
its technical aspects, to me the compositions, ranging from rich
soundscapes to pieces for piano, do not sound very original or
inspired. Surely Fjellestad is an interesting composer and player
searching for new areas, but this cd failed to impress me. (DM)
Address: http://www.accretions.com

GIRLFRIENDS - GEERT (CD by Beta Lactam Ring)
Dare I go on these shaky grounds and say something negative about the
CD by Girlfriends. If I do, I should grow a beard, wear sunglasses,
because the members of Girlfriends are from my town. In fact I know
them very well. Does this matter to you? Probably it doesn't and it
shouldn't. Upon until recentely Girlfriends were a four piece band,
two guitarists, a bass player and a drummer. Now it's just one
guitarist, who continues with the same name as a band name.
Girlfriends, the four piece band, existed for a couple of years, and
'Geert' started life as a demo, which was brought to the attention of
Beta Lactam Ring Records by fellow city band The Legendary Pink Dots.
Girlfriends are an instrumental band. They play five pieces, just
under thirty minutes. Maybe it's sufficient to say that they are a
post-rock band. Not a drone rock band. Girlfriends play complicated
structures, sudden changes and moves are standard procedure here. As
much as they take their experiences from say Tortoise, they also take
them from krautrock and jazz. By now maybe a worn out path in rock
music, but please take in account that 'Geert' was already recorded
in 2000. Generated entirely from improvising together, with
arrangements made on a loose set of ideas, this is exciting if not
tyring music. Music that is not 'easy' by any means, but demanding.
Maybe you would think that at thirty minutes this is a short CD, but
for the such power and intense music playing, this is enough anyway.
So, lucky me: I like this CD a lot (and believe: despite the fact
that it floated around as a demo, I never heard it) and I don't have
to grow a beard. (FdW)
Address: http://www.blrrecords.com

(CDR by Absurd)
A quintet line up, live in Auckland, New Zealand, of about a year
ago. Four people from New Zealand, each of their own fame. Richard
Francis (aka Eso Steel), Clinton Watkins (aka Mr. Doe), Campbell
Kneale (aka Birchville Cat Motel), Stefan Neville (aka Pumice) team
up with one of Japans more exciting guitarists, Tetuzi Akiyama. It's
a gathering of New Zealand's lo-fi drone rock scene with one of the
more silent types of the Japanese onkyo musicians. The main
instrument for these five people are guitars, be it electric and
acoustic ones, but amplification is the main theme here. Akiyama has
a hard time standing up with his improvised playing among all the
little buzzes and drones created by the others. This is not say that
this is a heavy, loud lo-fi drone experience, as can be hard in some
of these players' solo works. They all hold back in volume and give
room to the others to play and set more little drones in action. Time
passes by in a little stream here. There is no magic built up, no
crescendo, but things stay on the same level throughout. Quite a
minimal set of improvisation going on here, but of a great,
concentrated nature.
I don't know that much about Sam Dellaria and Adam Sonderberg, but
apparently this is their release together (both on Sonderberg's own
Longbox Recordings label). For this recording they made extensive
field recordings which are presented here in one long piece. It's
hard to tell what it is that these boys do, but my assumption is that
the field recordings are processed via laptop technology. It starts
out in a crackly, laptoppy way, which made me fear for the worst, but
over the course of the next forty minutes, things develop in a very
nice, very rich atmospheric drone music, which ends rather clumsy
(very sudden and abrupt). But in those forty some minutes, things
sound and re-sound very beautifully. Still the work of laptop
techniques, but very concentrated and single focussed on the result.
Great stuff at that. (FdW)
Address: <absurd@otenet.gr>

As by now probably well-known, Ultra Red is a politically inspired
left wing group. They make field recordings of demonstrations,
immigrants coming illegaly over the border or gay parks and set that
to music. Obviously all good causes, no doubt here, but I am weary
old cynical, so I say: what does it do? Does it help? The micro,
minimal house tracks on this CD EP use field recordings of the May
Day, 2000 at demonstrations for immigrant rights in New York City. As
pure instrumentals this CD EP would probably do well on a good
alternative dance floor, but I wonder what it will do now, with all
of these spoken word fragments being mixed in? For a home listening,
as I do, it's quite a nice and original blend of sounds (even without
the political context), but here's maybe a better idea: why not take
this original blend a bit further and built a pop song out of it,
infiltrate the charts and thus let so many more people know about the
good cause you're fighting for. Now it's a nice release, let there be
no mistake about it, but a rather marginal one and the risk is there
that one keeps on preaching to the already converted. (FdW)
Address: http://www.antiopic.com

by Accretions)
A first-date of globetrotter Frith, Dalaba from Seattle and Glick
Rieman and Kihlstedt both from bay area. Frith needs no further
introduction. Acupuncturist and trumpeter Lesli Dalaba is known for
her activities in New York in the 80s where she worked with people
like Wayne Horvitz, Elliott Sharp and Henry Kaiser. Together with
Frith and many others she is present for example on Chadbourne's
'2000 Statues and the English Channel' (Parachute, 1979). Parachute
also released what I know is to be Dalaba's first soloalbum: 'Trumpet
Songs & Dances' (1979). 'Core Sample' is a later solo-work, produced
at the end of her stay in New York. Dalaba can also be heard on
Frith's 'Stone, Brick, Glass, Wood, Wire (Graphic Scores 1986-1996).
More recent is her work as a member of Jeff Greinke's group Land.
Carla Kihlstedt (violin, electric violin, Stroh violin) plays
classical music with several ensembles. Also she is member of the Tin
Hat Trio and art-rock band (they still exist!?) Sleepytime Gorilla
Museum. Tzadik just released of solo project that has her using her
voice and violin simultaneously.
Composer and improvisor Eric Glick Rieman performs in several
settings, both solo and in groups like Bilge (experimental improv)
and the Mills College Contemporary Performance Ensemble. Also he is
involved in ambient groups like Thieves of Silence and Liquid Mosaic.
He has a special interest in electronic instuments. In Laughing
Stock, he plays Hammond B2 organ, Celeste, Theremin and other
electronics. Recently he is very much involved in preparing and
extending the Fender Rhodes electric piano.
In his own words: "I began to play the insides of my Rhodes through
experimentation, but quickly realized the Cage_ian resonances that
preparing it evoked. Cage deconstructed the sacred piano to make a
statement about the materials of his compositions. (Also, I suspect,
he simply enjoyed the sounds.) My statement is derivative of his and
a bit playful _ a poke at the sanctity of Cage, in a sense.
I say this because the electric piano (in spite of its recent
deification as a 'vintage' instrument) has a very short history (only
about 50 years), and in the classical sense, it is not considered an
instrument at all. Preparing this instrument speaks to the transitory
nature of modern instruments. Modern music, like modern life, is
plagued by a lack of commitment to its tools. Many of today's
musicians only play an instrument until it is outdated by the next
technology, never building a relationship with their tools that is
anything but superficial.
With the Rhodes, I try to make spacious music that moves slowly, and
I'm not afraid to create pretty, as well as noisy, textures.
Improvisation is key, although I sometimes use previously structured
material to diversify my approach to the instrument and to challenge
my integrative abilities."
It's this prepared and extended Rhodes electric piano that Glick
Rieman is playing here on this new cd on Accretions. The starting
idea for this project came from Glick Rieman who proposed Frith to
start a quartet. Frith said yes, and suggested Dalaba. Rieman invited
The recordings were engineerd and mixed by Myles Boisen. Boisen
recently appeared on a other impro-album with Frith, 'All is bright,
but it is not day ' on Ambiances Magnétiques. Also a cd by a quartet
that was completed by Jean Derome and Pierre Tanguay.
Back to the prepared rhodes piano. I have never heard it before. And
maybe it wasn't possible to have it heard elswhere and is Glick
Rieman pioneering new territory here. Although it is easy to identify
the (sometimes) muted trumpet of Dalaba, the guitar of Frith and to a
lesser extent the violin of Kihlstedt, it is hard to depict or trace
down what sounds come from the rhodes piano. Hearing something for
the first thing re-cognition is not possible and identification is
not easy. In a track like 'Worm Anvils' very strange and mysterious
sounds (like whale sounds) are heard. Problably they came from the
piano. One way or another it's through his undefinable and
never-heard-before long sounds that everything melts and fits
together. I hope to hear a solo effort of Glick Rieman in the future
in order getting to know his approach better.
All four musicians are very experienced. So for being a first meeting
the playing on this cd sounds very tight, structured and
communicative. There is a great level of understanding between them.
How is there improvised music to be characterized? They offer an
analytical kind of improvised music. Very concentrated and
beautifully interwoven. With nice flowing sounds, abstract and even
'spacey' like in "Ant Farm Morning". On the other hand we have more
staccato playing on strings in 'Lucy has a new pet kitty'. Even a
freak out solo of Frith on "Ant Farm morning" . Dalaba offt mostly
short punchy lines like in "Spicule Maneuver". All in all a very
varied range of improvised music is offered. And the fascinating
sounds of Glick Rieman's rhodes piano ask for special attention. Not
to be missed. (DM).
Address: http://www.accretions.com/

A while ago I saw a Japanese band Monster DVD play live and the
support act were all three members playing a short solo set. KK Null,
Guilty Connector and Tabata, and I must say that the latter two
impressed me more then KK Null did, at least that night. Without KK
Null, Tabata and Guilty Connector made a duo record. Tabata is
probably best known as the guitarist of Zeni Geva aswell as many solo
projects. Kohei The Fast (aka Guilty Connector) hails from a noise
background and played with Bastard Noise, Contagious Orgasm and MSBR.
His instruments includes electronics and amplified toys. Maybe this
CD can be seen as an extension of their work with Monster DVD, but
with a lesser amount of pounding drums. Monster DVD is principally a
psychedelic band, with a huge wall of sound, with looped parts put on
endless repeat. In a way this CD is also a psychedelic one: Tabata's
guitar playing, of course being fed through a great number of effect
boxes, takes care of a wall sound approach but the icing comes here
from Kohei The Fast, who adds all sorts of weird little sounds on
top. Elements from noise music are of course also there, with their
background this seems something that is hard to avoid. In all a
pretty varied CD that should appeal to lovers of both psychedelic and
noise music. (FdW)
Address: http://evenstilte.free.fr

GEL: - DOLCE (CD by Plop)
The CD by Dorine_muraille on Fat Cat went by me without noting it,
but I was told it was a good CD, combining electronica and
traditional instruments. Behind the name Dorine_muraille is one
Julien Loquet from France, who also works as Gel: I believe this is
his second CD as Gel: and from what I hear here, it sounds like an
extension of Dorine_muraille. Guitars and piano's (the latter being
played by Arden Day) are the basic foundations of the music. The
resultant sounds are processed via means of computers and then put
back together with the collages of the original recordings. So far so
good. I must admit I have a bit of a problem with the results. Some
of the piece seem to me collages with any structure and just random
playing around with the sounds. Certainly not 'dolce' ('soft' in
Italian) promises us in the title of the CD. But as the CD progress
the pieces get better. The sounds are more tight together and no as
much in overkill as in the first pieces of the CD. Say the second
half of the CD is way better and much more thought out than the first
half. That's a pity, because with some more creativity (as opposed
to: let all the sounds flow and see what happens), also the first
pieces could have been great. A missed opportunity here, me humbly
thinks. The idea of having processed computer sounds play along with
real instruments is something that is worth exploring and could lead
to many beautiful results. Altogether, it made me curious to check
out the Dorine_muraille on Fat Cat though... (FdW)
Address: http://www.inpartmaint.com/plop

With a discography counting more than 150 albums, it is pretty
amazing to realise that the progression of Muslimgauze seems to be
intact. Almost five years after his slipping away, Staalplaat has
once again succeeded in finding materials for another masterful work
of Bryn Jones (aka Muslimgauze). The album titled 'Iranair Flight
Magazine' refers to the Iranair civil aeroplane that was shut down on
the 3rd July 1988 by the American military, killing all 290 people on
board. With that story in mind it would be easy to expect some of the
more furious areas of Bryn Jones? musical territory to be shining
through. But actually what we are dealing with here are percussive
tracks that neither seems to by stylishly danceable nor aggressive.
Being quite minimal and repetitive in its expression the album once
in while reaches a trance-inducing atmosphere further strengthened by
subtle sounds of eastern instruments as well as small fragments of
Arab texts. Once in a while the distorted elements penetrate the
percussive soundscapes giving a raw and dry feel to the album. In all
senses this is yet another excellent piece of work by Muslimgauze.
Address: http://www.staalplaat.com

Two more releases on No Type, the label with some slight connections
to Empreintes Digitales. Upon until now most of the releases were
rhythm based, the one by A_Dontigny (computer, former member of
Napalm Jazz and Morceaux de Machines, aswell as regular improviser
with Sam Shalabi and Alexandre St-Onge) and Diane Labrosse (sampler,
former member of Wondeur Braas and Justine, aswell as solo artist and
collaborator with Ikue Mori, Martin Tetreault and Zeena Parkins) is
more along the lines of improvised, electronic music - dare I say,
more along the lines of labels like Grob and Erstwhile? Of course, in
matters like this, this is a live recording, of a year ago in the
neat place of La Casa Del Popolo. It's hard to guess what goes into
the computer and sampler, source-wise I mean, but it's all closely
linked together. A broading atmosphere, sizzing drones open up here
and only half way the more typical laptop sounds come alive, those
that sound like tweaking sounds through max/msp programs. The two
stay together throughout the entire disc, finding sounds that are
alike, but each works on their own level. They work with a sound
palette that is quite supplementary to eachother. In the final track
'Media Tactique', they even offer a very slow dub piece that drowns
in the use of the extra sounds. It's good, sturdy improvised
electronic music, with not much news under the sun, alas.
Coin Gutter are a new duo from Canada, who play out a lot. Apart from
some released CDRs, this is the first real CD, more widely available.
They come round more in the No Type style of recentely, taking their
inspirations from 80s industrial music and 90s glitch music. 'Lift
With The Knees', the opening piece is a tour de noise in full force
that slowly dissolves in a mighty drone and then adds some rhythms to
it. This track takes up more than half the disc's space here and is
most of the times quite an ambient piece. Unlikely influences ranging
from Merzbow to Zoviet France drop here. In the eight remaining
short(er) pieces (I must admit that i don't understand why they
didn't cut the first track in seperate tracks), Coin Gutter is more
single focussed on sounds and atmospheres. Ending with a glitchy
piece 'Southern Yukon/Northern BC', Coin Gutter manages to absord
many influences, from noise to ambient and glitch, but I must say
that I was quite pleased with their mixture of these various
influences. Maybe sometimes the small progress in music comes out of
the right cross-over between various influences. (FdW)
Address: http://www.notype.com

For some time, Eric Aldea wanted to make an adaption for machines and
strings of 'Spiral Insana' by Nurse With Wound. But as the work
progressed it's more a piece that is inspired by then adapted by.
This is one of the cases you wish you didn't know. Suppose you didn't
know this, would one recognize any inspiration of 'Spiral Insana'? I
can't no longer objective. I hear it, being of course very familiar
with Nurse's original - a highlight from their catalogue for me. The
building of the track, with it's strong crescendo and abrupt changes
- it all seems to be there. But I agree it's not a plain reproduction
of 'Spiral Insana' for strings and machines, it's very much a piece
of its own, using the overal compositional idea of 'Spiral Insana'.
It must say it's a very nice piece. Modern classical in approach,
minimalist and rich of sounds. Same goes for the extra pieces on this
CD: two short pieces for large ensemble (violins, cello, guitars,
oud, clarinette etc). Here two the blend between electronica and
instruments work really nice, in a serious modern classical way. Just
as the previous CD by Eric Aldea (see Vital Weekly 311), this is an
excellent produced work. Intelligent, thoughtfull, rich of sounds and
textures. Beautiful. (FdW)
Address: www.0101-music.com

LOOPROAD - ACIDFAKETRAX (CDR by Acid Fake Recordings)
Well, you never know with a label called Acid Fake - are the
presenting acid fake music, or fake acid, or maybe they are just
being funny? The latter, I suppose. Looproad for instance has not
really beats, but it does have a lot of loops. Taking elements from
every day, attach a microphone to it, record the sound and then crawl
behind the computer to process the sounds. Looproad, aka Neil
Vendrick (who is sometimes known as Esp.Dsp, the Fever, Trash
Generation, Whiskeyjacket etc.), does all of this, but if you think
he ends up in the Lopez/Gunther/Meelkop corner, you are wrong. First
of all Neil presents short(er) pieces, which are always audible, not
to say, probably even loud at some point. Neil maybe uses simple
techniques, but the results are quite nice. It takes the whole
microsound a bit further, maybe to a macrosound thing, with
everything clear and audible. The only problem I had with this
release, is that it's a bit long in total. With it's sixty minutes,
this is a bit of a long sit through and the diversity among the
tracks is not that great, so there is a bit of repetition of ideas
here and there. But in general, I thought this was quite a nice one.
The other new Acid Fake release is by Andrew Duke, a reknowned
Canadian artist, who had releases on Bip Hop and Bake Records before.
Duke's music is much more about rhythms, although rarely about dance
music rhythms. Andrew keeps his rhythms to a strict bare minimum and
within one track he explores that rhythm, adding a bit of delay or, I
must admit to my regret, a firm dose of reverb (that was also my
dislike about some of the pieces on the Bip Hop he released). But
when he leaves the reverb off, things are nice and minimal, with
small and gradual changes. He comes close the more austere works of
Pan Sonic, Ikeda or Goem here. What goes for the Looproad release, is
also appropiate for the Duke release: this one is also about an hour
long, and has eightteen sketch like tracks. Maybe it was about half
of those tracks and about 35 to 40 minutes it would have been a great
release. Now, with again some repeating of ideas, it's a bit
overlong. Nice still, but in need of some selection. (FdW)
Address: http://www.acidfake.tk

Two heavily limited CDR releases by Elevator Bath, in a new series
called 'Music For Performance'. "Each title in the music for
performance series will feature material from a given artist
representing a live set. These may, indeed, be live recordings or
they may be documents of sound that has been used in a live
setting..." - I am not sure how this relates to the Rick Reed release
however. It's called 'Music For Installation' for the Austin Loft
series of concerts. So, but is it an installation or a concert?
Whatever may be, the instruments used are sine wave generator, short
wave/VLF radio sounds and synthesizer. Like earlier works, Rick Reed
is a minimalist composer. Using this limited pallette of sounds,
which all emphasize the use the drone like material, he builts a
particular strong piece of such simple elements. He builts his piece
using all sorts of dynamics and frequencies, so it's a most live
piece that works on many levels. Towards the end there is some strong
sine wave stuff...
Colin Andrew Sheffield, he who runs the Elevator Bath, offers a
twenty minute piece which was first presented on Intersect 5, in
Austin in 2002. Maybe the title should be taken literally, because it
really sounds like a recording of a door being slammed, drowned in a
huge bath of reverb. But Sheffield builts a clever piece of drone
music out of such simple elements, despite the over-use of reverb at
the start of the piece. A nice, subtle piece.
Both releases are limited to 44 copies only... (FdW)
Address: http://www.elevatorbath.com

MAJA RATKJE - VOICE (CD by Rune Grammofon)
Chicks and noise are an unbeatable combination and something that
there is a definite lack of in experimental music. Luckily Fe-Mail is
here to fill that void. This debut album by the duo of Maja Ratkje
and Hild Sofie Tafjord present 8 tracks of noise-playful, abstract
and well constructed, produced by good old non digital sources: cheap
electronics, toys, harmonic, junk and vocals. Fe-Mail never stays on
one sound for too long. This is not cutup collage noise, but very
busy and multi-layered. Flowing, oozing, and swirling waves of sound
from distorted tones to light and gentle spew force. The noise even
gets pretty for a moment with Maja's gentle vocal intonations, before
giving way to harsh scrapings and distorted pulses and then ending on
a soulful note. And all this in one track. While most of the album is
filled with noise for a sunny day, the final track is an all out
assault and seems to be a live recording, showing that Fe-Mail can
bring on the noise. While Fe-Mail uses alot of gadgetry for their
sonic blasts, Maja's solo CD Voice uses just that. Often albums of
solo experimental vocal works appeal to a limited audience, but this
album cleverly uses Maja's voice as material and then is processed
using a whole array of tools, from computer to cheap dictaphones and
different locations from the studio to an elevator. It's this
multi-pronged approach that makes this cd such a fresh and varied
listening experience. Maja is a talented vocalist and displays her
full range of abilities. At times her voice is so processed and
deconstructed that its hard to realized that the source material was
her voice. The opening track "Intro" is akin to old Nurse With Wound,
with backwards samples and speed-up voices reciting nonsense texts.
The fifth track entitled "vacuum" is my favorite with its constant
changes both radical and subtle, its a haunting composition composed
from different vocal samplings. Other times its like a cross of
Yamatsuka Eye and Schlimpfluch-quite a heavy load albeit a very
listenable and enjoyable one. (JS)
Address: http://www.runegrammofon.com & http://www.tevefem.net

HUBBUB - HOOP WHOOP (CD by Matchless Recordings)
Hubbub is a quintet comprised of 2 saxes, guitar, piano, and
percussion, and this is a live recording from December 2001. The
cover of this cd is a green saturated photo of a forest. Quite
appropriate as, this being released by the home label of AMM, which
has been described as like or unlike trees. Hubbub shares some
similarities to AMM, working in the realm of free/meta musics. On
this cd the sound is less like a single tree, or a dense forest, but
rather the sonic equivalent of being in a hailstorm, pelted by a fury
of ice pellets. The first 2 sections of this live recording work in
this vein, each instrument coming at you in short blasts but all part
of one mass of sound propelled forward, or downward, if one is to
continue the metaphor. Very forceful music and made more so
compelling by its primarily acoustic instrumentation. The storm eases
up, and then softer sounds are explored. In the last ten minutes the
piano and guitar set the tone, with fast trills and wavering guitar
screeches. The groups eases back and changes direction again,
exploring the silences between, and working more with duration than
the barrage of short blasts at the opening. Hubbub succeeds in
pushing themselves to the limit and going in many directions without
losing focus and cohesion in this dynamic performance. (JS)
Address: http://www.matchlessrecordings.com