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VITAL WEEKLY
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number 469
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week 14
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Vital Weekly, the webcast: we offering 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 CDs (no vinyl or MP3) reviewed. It will remain on the site for a limited period (most likely 2-4 weeks). Download the file to your MP3 player and enjoy!
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KISS THE ANUS OF A BLACK CAT - IF THE SKY FALLS, WE SHALL CATCH LARKS (CD by Kraak)
CONTINUUM - VOLUME 1 (CD by Soleilmoon Recordings)
MAEROR TRI - THE SINGLES (CD by EE Tapes)
SI-CUT.DB - FROM TEARS; BEACH ARCHIVE (CD by Bip-hop)
IRIS GARRELFS - SPECIFIED ENCOUNTERS (CD by Bip-hop)
BENGE - I AM 9 (CD by Expanding Records)
FLOTTEL - WOODEN BEARD (CD by Expanding Records)
LIKE A STUNTMAN - FRESH AIR IS NOT THE WORST THING IN TOWN (CD by Highpoint Lowlife)
COLLEEN - THE GOLDEN MORNING BREAKS (CD by Leaf Records)
THE FORBIDDEN 80S (CD compilation by Mr. Mutt)
ALVA NOTO - TRANSRAPID (CDEP by Raster Noton)
ALVA NOTO - TRANSVISION (CDEP by Raster Noton)
ALVA NOTO - TRANSSPRAY (CDEP by Raster Noton)
MAJESSIC DREAMS - LISTEN TO THE MOON (miniCD by Oscillatone Recordings)
MORBIDE EENHEID - OP EEN BOOREILAND TWEE JAAR GELEDEN (miniCD, self-released)
CURRENT 93 - HOW HE LOVED THE MOON (2LP by Beta Lactam-Ring Records)
CADUCEUS - FACTORY SOUNDS VOLUME I  (12 " by Cauceus Music)
CADUCEUS - FACTORY SOUNDS VOLUME II (12 " by Cauceus Music)
SUBINTERIOR - OBSTACLES (CDR by Deserted Factory)
HL - A449/19 (WORK IN PROGRESS) (3"CDR by No Ground)
PFM - PRE FM TRACKS (3"CDR by No Ground)

KISS THE ANUS OF A BLACK CAT - IF THE SKY FALLS, WE SHALL CATCH LARKS (CD by Kraak)
Kissing the anus of a black cat may sound like a very a stupid bandname, but it refers to heretics, or rather the way the catholic church viewed the activities of heretics, in the middle ages that is. Kiss The Anus Of A Black Cat is also the solo project of one Stef Heeren, a Belgium bloke who used to be in a punk band. He plays guitar, self-built instruments, organ and bells. I find it very hard to judge this work. The instrumental part is quite nice. Acoustic guitars, drones, some distorted guitars, the bells: it all sounds quite alright, a bit like a stripped down Godspeed, or maybe a bit like Silver Mt Zion. The four lengthy pieces here quite nice, varied in playing, changing moods. So what's wrong, if anything? I must admit, I am not very fond of the singing of Stef Heeren, it sounds to me a bit too much like David Tibet. Especially in the parts where there is just singing and acoustic guitar playing, the parallel with Current 93 (or at least several aspects thereof, I'm not a devoted fan of Current 93) is very strong, and that is a pity. The folky atmosphere of the release is quite nice, but I guess folky music comes with folky singing, and that is, at least for me, a pity. Otherwise a quite enjoyable CD. (FdW)
Address: http://www.kraak.net

CONTINUUM - VOLUME 1 (CD by Soleilmoon Recordings)
This CD brings together two masters of the world of ambient music. Vidna Obmana, aka Dirk Serries from Belgium needs no introduction to the readers of Vital Weekly. He has a vast body of works available, of which quite a large portion is reserved for collaborations with other musicians, such as Asmus Tietchens, Willem Tanke, Serge Devadder and Frans de Waard. Here, now guised a group, he teams up with Steven Wilson, perhaps known for his work with Bass Communion (and therefor also his work with the late Muslimgauze), but maybe lesser known in the Vital world, and better in the real world as the man of Porcupine Tree, the Pink Floyd of the nineties - well, I'm told by those who know. As Continuum they plan a series of works, and 'Volume 1' is, no surprise, the first release. In three lengthy pieces, each around twenty minutes, they depict the unworldly, spacious qualities of their music. Soft tinkles on the guitar (both play guitar, mind you) are embedded in this beautiful rich pattern of synthesizer treatments. Slow and spacious this moves along the interstellar constructions. It's not really a surprising work, as both deliver the goods as promised, as always. Performed with the usual high skill and pace, this is of course one of the better pieces of work in this field. Curious what the next volume will bring. (FdW)
Address: http://www.soleilmoon.com

MAEROR TRI - THE SINGLES (CD by EE Tapes)
Probably there is only one group that started as a cassette only band, who will successfully release their entire back-catalogue on real CDs (not CDRs) and that is Maeror Tri. They started out in the late eighties as a three piece ambient industrial group, and released a whole bunch of cassettes and subsequently also 7"s and CDs. In the late nineties one of the three band-members left and the name was changed to Troum. Their 7"s are now collected on this CD, for the first time and complete as such (so the originals can go to Ebay now, although I have no idea how well sought there). One 7" is missing and that's the one that they released on their own label, Drone Records (which started the label) and which will be re-issued soon. It's good to see this released as last, as the music of Maeror Tri can best be enjoyed in the digital format, away from the scratchy, hissy vinyl, of which the duration was sometimes also too long for a 7". This collection starts out with quite a raw Maeror Tri, with metallic banging but as the CD progresses, some of the more classic Maeror Tri appear: dark and dense and intense, with much layering of sound effects, percussive sounds and many obscure sound-sources (I once saw them playing an accordion on stage, feeding it through a whole line of sound effects). These singles, three 7"s and one 10", can easily be classified among the best they ever did and with the enhanced quality of the CD, this is a much wanted item. Time to plunder their cassette releases and release those on CD. Do I hear the word 'boxset', anyone? (FdW)
Address: http://www.eetapes.be

SI-CUT.DB - FROM TEARS; BEACH ARCHIVE (CD by Bip-hop)
IRIS GARRELFS - SPECIFIED ENCOUNTERS (CD by Bip-hop)
These two CDs are connected through the fact that both Iris Garrelfs and Douglas Benford both organize concerts at the Sprawl Club. Benford's Si-Cut.db is probably well-known through his various releases on Highpoint Lowlife, Fallt/Bip Hop and his own Sprawl imprint. When reviewing his last CD 'Offices At Night' (see Vital Weekly 432) I wrote that the music was best described as "dubby minimalist techno... Benford takes his time to develop a piece. Starting with a simple beat, a hi-hat and a bass, he will add small synthesized sounds to the piece over the course of the next, say 5 minutes." I also said something about several works being more or less similar up until now, I would maybe be time for a change, but that change doesn't come with this new CD for Bip-hop. Still the same laid-back dubby slow rhythms, that groove nicely on a hot day (which today isn't, but I could turn up the heather). Sipping a cocktail in a shady, warm garden and this CD in the background: it would be nice, but it could have been the previous CD as well. Nice music anyway, but no surprise.
Iris Garrelfs is probably lesser known, even when she has been around for some time, in music and as a photographer. Garrelfs' music is where the digital sound processing of Fennesz meets the esoteric, gregorian like chanting of religious music. Long sustained, wordless singing, drenched in a bath of echo and reverb. The processing of her own voice result sometime in crackly and rhythmic doodling, or likewise stretched out ambient patterns. Maybe the idea of using this combination is a new one, and one that is rarely heard (except maybe in some of Maja Ratkje's work), I must say I am not blown away by this very much. The whole album has a rather improvised character, in which the various pieces don't seem to have a head and tail, and they seem to take too much time to tell the story. Some more editing, some more processing and a little bit less of an esoteric feel to this, and I'd be happy. Now I have many mixed feelings about it. (FdW)
Address: http://www.bip-hop.com

BENGE - I AM 9 (CD by Expanding Records)
FLOTTEL - WOODEN BEARD (CD by Expanding Records)
The man behind Benge is Ben Edwards, who occasionally plays as Tennis with Douglas Benford of Si-cut.db (see elsewhere). He loves synthesizers and sport-cars. On his new CD every track is named after a different sports car from a book Edwards got when he was nine - hence the title. As for the instruments used, there is a variety of glockenspiels, piano, cymbals and drums but the most important instrument is the synthesizer. Benge's music can be compared to that of Si-cut.db, but whereas the latter is more in the realms of dubby minimalist techno, Benge's music is more minimalist techno ambient - I realize that this may sound a bit confusing. The nine tracks on this CD are relaxing, somewhat melancholic (but that's probably due to the nature of the use of the glockenspiel and piano). A perfect backdrop to a somewhat rainy and cold spring day with a strip of sun at the end. Maybe the two lengthy tracks at the end are a bit too much, but overall a very pleasant and entertaining CD.
On the same label is also the debut of Leigh Toro as Flottel. Before he has released a 7" on Expanding Records and Arable Records and the pieces on the CD where recorded over a two year period. Along the lines of Si-cut.db and Benge, Flottel plays a fine combination of techno music, with the usual ingredients of dub music and ambient textures in the background. Sometimes the latter move upfront, making the ambient aspects of this release stronger. From the three mentioned in this week's Vital, Flottel is the least techno oriented music, and moves towards more outer limit music, but it stays neatly inside the world of 'real' music. Kindly experimental music going on here. No surprises but cosy and intimate. (FdW)
Address: http://www.expandingrecords.com

LIKE A STUNTMAN - FRESH AIR IS NOT THE WORST THING IN TOWN (CD by Highpoint Lowlife)
Until now all of the acts on Highpoint Lowlife were one man bands, but Like A Stuntman is their first real band. Like A Stuntman hail from Germany and a four piece band, with acoustic guitar, drums, bass, microphones, synthesizers, drum computer and a harmonica. Despite all the weirdness in their playing, they are a pop band, but one with a pop-single at hands. Their playing is kinda 'free'. They play wacky tunes, do not care about the qualities of a three minute hit-single. Their sound that of a bedroom band. The cheap and cheesy casio synths and rhythms collide nicely with the guitar playing and vocals. I can imagine them sitting them in the attic (well or the basement) playing together. The eleven pieces, spanning a total of some thirty-five minutes, have just the right length to be interesting - more would have been a bad idea. Although this is very much a novelty sound that Like A Stuntman comes up with, I'd be curious to know where they go next. One album in this style seems about enough for me. A most curious debut indeed. (FdW)
Address: http://www.highpointlowlife.com

COLLEEN - THE GOLDEN MORNING BREAKS (CD by Leaf Records)
After her much acclaimed debut album Everyone Alive Wants Answers, Colleen (aka CÚcile Schott) delivers her second shot at the stars. Where the first album was based on samples, which were combined with acoustic instruments, The Golden Morning uses acoustic instruments only. Cleverly named after a 16th century lute song by John Dowland (bet you didn't know that), this album is a joy from start to finish. The simple yet effective melancholic harmonium and glockenspiel patterns, guitars, assorted acoustic instruments and odd sounds add up to a very special consistent gentle atmosphere. With poetic titles like 'Bubbles On Which The Water Swims' and 'Mining In The Rain', Colleen manages to reflect the atmosphere of the music into the titles. Comparable to the simple yet striking beauty of Virginia Astley's "From Garden Where We Feel Secure", this album is the product of a unique instrumentalist who definitely deserves a wider audience. (FK)
Address: http://www.posteverything.com/leaf/

THE FORBIDDEN 80S (CD compilation by Mr. Mutt)
According to the press text, to say that one loves the the music eighties, is usually something to be ashamed of. Don't know why this is, but I have no trouble saying that at least 75% of all music on my ipod is filled with music from that decade (and maybe
less than 10% with music you read about in Vital Weekly, to compare these things). When I travel I like to hear crap? Ok, so it's not really Duran Duran or Kajagogoo (or how on earth one spells that), but still a fair portion of say Depeche Mode and Ultravox. I love the eighties! The people collected on this compilation are probably all old enough to listen to music in the eighties, I must say I don't get this tribute very much. The music is all quite alright. From ambiance's from Minamo or Stephan Mathieu, or the microdisco of Betrieb and Scanner, or the more microsounding stuff by Tu M' (who organized this bunch). Again according to the press-blurb, "the 80s have influenced electronic music more than what one can believe, through the rediscovery of melody", and these contributions should reflect that. Maybe my expectations were wrong, and I thought I would get a bunch of rip off eighties songs, tribute or satire, but in fact there is only one here: Greg Davies covers 'Sailing' by Christopher Cross, and follows the original quite nicely (without liking the original very much, I must admit). So it's hard to trace back the influences from the eighties in this compilation, but that doesn't mean that I don't like the compilation. It's a nicely varied plate with a bite for everyone under the electronic sun. (FdW)
Address: http://www.mr-mutt.com

ALVA NOTO - TRANSRAPID (CDEP by Raster Noton)
ALVA NOTO - TRANSVISION (CDEP by Raster Noton)
ALVA NOTO - TRANSSPRAY (CDEP by Raster Noton)
With these releases, Alva Noto aka Carsten Nicolai gives us the successor of his previous album 'Transform' from 2001. These 3 EPs actually represent a full-length album split on 3 releases of about 21 minutes each, and they also have one common title - 'Transall'. Someone may argue that it's not a practical way of releasing music, but maybe Mr.Noto thought that one CD with 60 minutes of this music would be too much for listening in one go, and he separated it in 3 shorter CDS, so you can choose which one you like to listen in different occasions. The unusual cover and cd design goes well with the music and all of that is, of course, a part of the wider concept. What matters most at the end is (of course, again) the music itself.
Upon repeated listening, I'd say the music is fine. In some tracks it comes really close to some dancey tracks by Pan Sonic. It's actually more upbeat than I expected from Alva Noto, but nevertheless, it's very properly done solid music on which the author has been working over a period of more than 2 years. From one of the masters of the minimal clicks+cuts we got some of the best moments in that music. The music on these 3 EPs is carefully done, where many layers of constantly changing rhythmical clicky beats and backgrounds are joined together in one powerful whole (even a bit aggressive, as it's well done in the 3rd EP). Alva Noto manages to show and reach many detailed and deeper inner contents in this music. Inspiring, in it's own way. (BR)
Address: http://www.raster-noton.de

MAJESSIC DREAMS - LISTEN TO THE MOON (miniCD by Oscillatone Recordings)
More pop-music, this time from Sweden, Majessic Dreams, aka Mats and Jessica Majessic, on a new Swedish label, Ocillatone Recordings (of which the headhoncho learned the tricks of the trade in The Netherlands). This minihead-honcho CD has six tracks, of mostly female vocals (although 'Different Light' is a duet), drums, guitars and no doubt some computer processing to go along with it. Majessic Dreams seem to combine a love of old folk music, combined with some more abstract doodling on the computer (processing their guitar playing and cutting up the jazzy rhythms) and thus creating a sound that holds between the abstract and the accessible. An intimate atmosphere like is usual in folk music, but expanding in the background via the use of drones and other such fine things from the computer. Even when their sound is more experimental than the elsewhere mentioned Like A Stuntman, their tracks are downright 'listenable' by all means. A bit dreamy, but never lulling the listener to sleep. A good start and a promise for the future. More pop-music from the years to come. (FdW)
Address: http://www.oscillatone.com

MORBIDE EENHEID - OP EEN BOOREILAND TWEE JAAR GELEDEN (miniCD, self-released)
In The Netherlands the "Mobiele Eenheid" is used to control and fight against riots, and it doesn't need much imagination to think what "Morbide Eenheid" means. They are a five piece band with no ambitions (their own words), because all the members play more seriously in different bands. The line up is drums, bas, two guitars, theremin and saxophone. From the hasty beginnings in which everything was more fragmented, things have evolved into a more coherent sound, which can be heard on the four pieces of this mini CD. Not unlike the recent releases we reviewed by the Amanita label, Morbide Eenheid plays heavy music. Influenced by the likes of anything heavy in rock music, their main interest however seems to be in combining the weirdness of free rock and improvised, embedded in a tight structure played on the bass and the drums. What itmelancholiac differs with some of heavy free rockers from Amanita is that Morbide Eenheid can also play a more melancholiac tune, such as in 'Enema Truckers Hailed Naar De Maan'. The saxophones in particular reminded me to play 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' again. Though not exactly my coffee, it is a nice one. (FdW)
Address: http://www.morbideeenheid.com

CURRENT 93 - HOW HE LOVED THE MOON (2LP by Beta Lactam-Ring Records)
On 13 November 2004 John Balance died in a tragic domestic accident, only 42 years old. Balance (real name Geff Rushton) is best known as founding member of the hugely successful Coil and, as such, has played an integral part in England's experimental and acid scene over many moons. As an epitaph for John Balance, Steve Stapleton remixed Current 93's album In Menstrual Night. Instantly recognizable, this mix features less prominent percussion and more gentle washes of reverb and reversed tapes spread over 4 long tracks. Titles like Psalm VIII:3 and Ecclesiastes XII:2 hint at Balance's interest in religion. Beautifully packed in a colorful gatefold sleeve, the artwork reflects the original Menstrual Night images. The gatefold also features a moving picture of Stapleton and Balance. If you love In Menstrual Night, you will love this sensitive album. Four stars for the music then and one bright shiny star for John. How he loved the moon. (FK)
Address: http://www.blrrecords.com

CADUCEUS - FACTORY SOUNDS VOLUME I  (12 " by Cauceus Music)
CADUCEUS - FACTORY SOUNDS VOLUME II (12 " by Cauceus Music)
Caduceus Music is a new label dedicated to minimalist techno and its dissemination worldwide. Its two founding members also form the duo Caduceus and they state to be influenced by EBM of the late 80's and early 90'  as well as Cologne based minimal techno projects. The two discs reflect these influences quite clearly, the big addition to them being the term: concept-driven minimalism. All sounds of the six track are based on recordings from Caduceus' living/working environment, in this case obviously a factory. The tracks are indeed minimal, as is the design of the covers. The music has definitely got its roots in the right spot, using extremely low frequencies (especially for vinyl) and pretty fluid developments. It would go to far to list all the techno projects that spring to mind and in a sense, it would be unfair, because in the end, Caduceus have more than enough to offer of their own. Good stuff! (MR)
Address: http://www.caduceusmusic.net

SUBINTERIOR - OBSTACLES (CDR by Deserted Factory)
Although we don't get to hear who is behind Subinteror, he is also involved, as a drummer, in a band called Weltschmerz and one called Canaan, plus a dark ambient/industrial project Coma Divine. As Subinteror he works with field recordings, mostly of a nocturnal kind ( safety doors, lapping wheels, industrial refrigeration plants etc., which sound like recorded at night), which are then transformed through the use of software. The six resulting pieces are all quite alright within the realms of dark ambient with industrial touches. The metallic rumbling of someone trying to break down the fence around the factory area are embedded in stretched out fields of captured wind sounds and slowed down conveyer belts. In it's genre nothing new under the moon, but well executed. Seems like made to measure for a label with such a name. (FdW)
Address: http://www.desertedfactory.com

HL - A449/19 (WORK IN PROGRESS) (3"CDR by No Ground)
PFM - PRE FM TRACKS (3"CDR by No Ground)
The No Ground label is a small label that works with economical means, that is CDRs, both audio and DVD. The label-founder Dan Hopkins is responsible for the first two releases. His own 'A449/19' is presented as a work in progress. I am not sure how this should be seen. Is the work still in progress and if so how will changes be made public then? The twenty minute piece comes from nothing and slowly builds up. It seems to me that field recordings, in particular wind sounds are the basis of this recording. They are transformed by computer means until a thick mass of sound occurs. A nice piece, although maybe a bit too much in the realms of Francisco Lopez, but then more audible.
The second release is by one Myk Thomas, offering three pure ambient tracks on his 'Pre FM Tracks'. Waving, meandering and shifting synthesizer tones are his main ingredients, despite the vague piano tinkle in 'Prophet Making'. Quite simple and effective ambient music, in the best Eno tradition and for that matter stuff that could have been released on Hypnos Records. It stands very much in a tradition, and that might be the only real objection against it. (FdW)
Address: http://www.noground.co.uk/ngr

correction: the correct website of the Monochrome label Vital Weekly 467) is http://www.zonegrise.org/








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