Vital Weekly 50! Hurray!

Week 37 Number 50

 

INTERSYSTEMS -PEACHY (CD by Streamline) RAGNAR GRIPPE -
SAND (CD by Streamline)

With the invention of CD's I remember I said I would
never get rid of my turntable as 'there are way too
many records that will never make it to CD' .Well, I
still didn't get rid of the turntable, but I must admit
I was wrong. A lot of obscure, unknown records make it
to CD. I don't think people will stop searching for the
collectables, but they will play the CD version (of
course if it is the music that they are after, and not
the fact that it is a collectors item). Streamline's
boss Christoph Heemann is one of the people who knows
more about the collectables then anybody else. Among
his first releases was a 1969 LP by Intersystems that
was released in an edition of 50. Here is another
record by Intersystems, this one from 1967 on Allied
Records. A short one, but what strange thing: a lot of
the sound is collaged sounds from sped-up tapes on reel
to reel machines with a voice narrating a text. The
montage techniques used are hectic. Play loud to
discover the fine parts. Musique concrete in a non
academic context long before Nurse With Wound started.
Great stuff which doesn't sound outdated at all.

I heard the name Ragnar Grippe dropped at various
places but I couldn't relate to what he has done. The
music was released on LP by Shandar in 1977 and to some
a masterpiece they couldn't wait for to be on CD.
Grippe uses 'consecutive overdubbing' to construct two
lengthy pieces of music using organ, recorder,
harmonica, electric guitar, bells, voice, thumb organ
and maracas. I imagine a lot of the stuff has been put
through various delay units (or maybe the reel-to-reel
technique used?) and repetitive patterns occur. There
is a percussive feel to the music, but maybe also a 70s
hippie feel (to which I am a bit allergic). But
nevertheless an interesting minimal effort. (FdW)
Address: Streamline -Horngasse 2 -52064 Aachen -Germany

 

GASTR DEL SOL -UPGRADE & AFTERLIFE (CD by
Dragcity/Normal)

So by now all the music papers have written about this,
but as I like it a lot, I will spend my share of words
on it. Gastr Del Sol is the collaboration work by David
Grubbs (ex-Bastro) and Jim O'Rourke, renowned guitarist
and composer. I found out about Gastr after they had
done some releases and I was taken by their sound
immediately. There is so much going on all the time
(and the absence of things going on at the same), that
any work by Gastr Del Sol is like a small symphony.
This new CD is no different. The opening track is
amazing: it starts droningly but is a collage of guitar
sounds to end with jazzy sounds from records being
played. When I first played this CD I didn't look at
the CD player and each track naturally flows into the
next, sometimes there are rich textures, densely
layered guitar jams, but then just after that sheer
silence, to be followed by a section using drones from
a bass clarinet, horns and cello. Amazingly rich music
of which I just can't get enough. Encore! (FdW)
Address: hopefully any record store?

 

AQUEOUS: Tall Cloudtrees Falling (Hermetic Recordings
via World Serpent)

Long time Hans-Joachim Roedelius collaborator Felix Jay
recorded this album with fellow Gloucestershirian
(Gloucesteroid?) Andrew Heath nearly two years ago.
It's a tribute to Cluster, who's improvisational
electronic techniques provided the inspiration for the
"live in the studio" recording sessions that are heard
here. Occasionally a record comes along that offends by
being inoffensive. This record is easy to like, but if
you spend too much time with it it's also easy to hate,
as I found. The music is simple and pleasant (the title
provides a clue to the atmosphere they've created) but
it's also somewhat annoying. Light synthesizer
keyboards mingle with random tones and chords.
Digiflutes and plucked strings do the slowdance. And
tall cloudtrees fall on my head. Although their mixing
and post-recording treatments demonstrate consistent
thoroughness and clear vision, the actual playing is
average at best, and at times the apparently
intentional randomness of it all is downright
frustrating. It's like finding a nice soft bed that's
infested with fleas. Real comfy at first, but then
IRRITATING. Good mixing can't compensate for this so-so
playing, and in a marketplace flooded daily with new
releases, just being average isn't good enough any
more. (CP)

 

THE MOOG COOKBOOK (CD on Restless Records)

Here is a product that is guaranteed to either make or
put a brake your party depending on your taste in
friends...a useful tool indeed. It's a project curated
by Roger Manning (whohe ? -Ed.) who perhaps should be
held responsible and accept his just reward. All tracks
are made with Bobby Moog's machines and as such
occasionally sound like a band of Rick Wakeman clones
after a crate or two too much of the old aftershave.
(Still it's only since Ricky stopped hitting the bottle
and started hitting the shelves in modern meditation
centers that I realized the merits of alcohol.)
Back to the Cookbook...there are some tracks which I
know but did not know the titles of and there are some
tracks which I knew the titles of but had never heard
the music. So it is, that Tom Petty, Lenny Kravitz.
R.E.M.,Neil Young and Nirvana come in for moog-
treatments with all the usual unreliable tuning
anomalies plus some. Perhaps this is a good present to
bestow on fans of these groups...it will either cure or
convince them of the wisdom of their musical choices.
(MP)

 

DRUM 'N BASS FOR PAPA -PLUG (CD on BLUE ANGEL RECORDS)

There's a voice at the start of this CD which promises
the listener a 'fascinating churney' -ja, das voice
haben ein Cherman accent -and Luke Vibert, the brains
behind the music does his best to fulfil his pledge.
Enter a world of extremely strange atmospherics which
link and lurk at the back of some of the most
impressive D & B programming I have heard for a while.
While I was suitably impressed by Bukem's Logical
Progression for instance, it comes across as 'reliable'
and 'safe' when compared to this CD. Odd samples and
quotations are tossed around, almost at random, while
unrelenting fusillades of snare rolls and high-
cholesterol bass booms buckle and rupture the air
closest to the speakers. (I always find it difficult to
listen (not dance) to D & B for more than forty or
fifty minutes at a time...beats blur and I often find I
need a little space before I dive in again.)

This music is the closest to a D & B sound track I have
yet heard... sonic cliches from the seventies and
eighties are incorporated almost as comments on the
whirling riddims that whizzspurt and dodge-dart about
like highly strung teenage boys tenaciously approaching
their first mango. There are, as there always are, a
couple of shabby tracks, but I found these easy to spot
and, thanks to recently discovered technology, easier
to avoid. Faves are the first few and 'the life of the
mind' a tasteful, noisy and almost undisciplined piece
with glorious yellvocals. Certainly an indication of
the way forward in this daunting musical area. Check it
out. (MP)
Addresss: Fax +44 171 627 8077