number 509
week 3


Vital Weekly, the webcast: as an experiment for the time being, 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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* noted are in this week's podcast


THE GATES ENSEMBLE - 16 OCTOBER 03 (CD by Spectral House)
ROTHKAMM - FB01 (CD by Flux Records) *
ERRATUM #4 (3CD by Erratum)
JOACHIM MONTESSUIS - ERRANCES 1993-2005 (CD by Galerie Lara Vincy) *
LABEL SAMPLER (CD compilation by SRL)
DERAIL - ENGINE ROOM (CD by High Mayhem) *
LA BOUTIQUE AUX CHANSONS (CDR compilation by Inati) *
ZANG MINI FESTIVAL (CDR compilation by Zang)
8ROLEK - 9 GRATIS (MP3 by Mik Musik) *


Obituary: Hiroyasu Kondo


THE GATES ENSEMBLE - 16 OCTOBER 03 (CD by Spectral House)
Two extended pieces of group-improvisation from an ensemble from Austin, Texas.
As the title indicates the recordings are made a few years ago, but now they found their way to the audience through Spectral House, an independent label based in Austin focusing on modern experimental music. In 2002 the ensemble released their first CD on this label in a very limited edition. The ensemble was formed in 2001 and is specialized in electro-acoustic music.
The first piece 'Reinforce one another, conditions for contraction' is a graphic score by Travis Weller (violin, computer). "The six performers are given graphic instructions to create sound events at specific times. Each sound event has a degree of 'density' and 'consistency'. Since no instructions for pitch, timbre, and loudness are given, the performers improvise between the boundaries of stability and space with the goal of spontaneous musical collaboration."
Besides Weller we hear: Brent Fariss (contrabass, electronics), Jacob Green (piano on first track, sampler), Holland Hopson (banjo!, computer), Josh Ronsen (clarinet, piano on second track), Bill Thompson (computer, electronics). All musicians are involved with the Austin New Music Co-Op.
The second piece as an untitled improvisation that I liked even more. It's a very dynamic and impressive improvisation that has more soul then the first piece.
Both pieces were recorded live at the Ballet Austin Academy. Alas the recording sound as if there was only one microphone on stage. But both pieces make clear that these six improvisers are great musicians who are able to produce some cohesive music in their explorations of pure sound. Careful listening is demanded and rewarded. If you want a point of reference, I would say they belong to the tradition that started with AMM. On the other hand, with their organized improvisations they shake hands with people like Butch Morris or John Zorn. (DM)
Address: http://www.spectralhouse.com/

A lot of the computer microsound glitch whatever musicians have their backgrounds in rock music and some even occasionally return to rock music, just for the fun of it. The Skull Defekts is such a band, consisting of Joachim Nordwall (of the Ideal label) and Henrik Rylander (who made some fame of his own), later with Eric Olofsson and Jean-Louis Huhta (of Oscid). On 'Open The Gates Of Mimer', however still a duo with the help of Lasse Marhaug and Thomas Ekelund. The Skull Defekts play a heavy, loud and slow guitar music, in which feedback plays an important role. 'Open The Gates Of Mimer' is a live recording and that's something of a pity. There is definitely a plan behind this piece of music, making it grow heavily throughout the fifty-five minutes that this piece lasts, but it seems that the Skull Defekts sometimes loose their grip on the piece, and the mighty break up of the crescendo sometimes is a bit lost. But in the end they reach whatever they want to reach, and the CD ends in complete noise mayhem (probably thanks to good ol' Marhaug). A somewhat shorter and tighter studio version would have been it's place, but this is certainly quite enjoyable too, if you like to cross the boundaries of noise and rock music. Heavy duty shit, I guess is what they say then. (FdW)
Address: http://www.a-double-a.com

ROTHKAMM - FB01 (CD by Flux Records)
The name Frank Rothkamm first popped up in Vital Weekly in 1998, when he released a miniCD on Flux Records (which I believe is his own label) of rather outdated ambient music, which sounded however quite nice. On Flux Records he was also responsible for a couple of weird and conceptual releases, such as a 12" on piano tuning. Since then he released a couple of more things, but nothing with great speed or urge. Rothkamm is also the designer of the 'data processing instrument system IFORMM, deployed since the summer of 2002 for the realization of pure electronic music'. In the booklet of 'FB01' there is a lengthy text on electronic and computer generated music, which is a bit beyond me, but then again, I was never good at doing math's. The twelve pieces on the CD however are quite nice. Very classical in approach. 'Synthesized only through mathematical operations on sine waves' it says, and it sounds like a pure electronic piece from the Cologne studios in the fifties in combination with more freely sci-fi soundtracks from the sixties, such as the one from 'Forbidden Planet'. Rothkamm however chooses the format of a popsong, marking an important difference with the lengthier works of years and years ago. It's certainly great music, but at twelve tracks it is also a bit long. The classic format of eight tracks (LP length) would have made this into a perfect thing. Now it's certainly three tracks too long. (FdW)
Address: http://www.fluxrecords.com

Although Build Buildings, aka Ben Tweel is from the USA, his third album sounded very english. Tweel creates his music with the use of computers, instruments, household noises and records, but gives the material a serious twist around and comes up with a rather english sound. English as in music released by such labels as Highpoint Lowlife or Expanding Records. Stuttering rhythms not unlike some of the good ol' Oval (such as in 'Notices'), but on the top of each song, there is a strong sense of melancholic keyboards lines or computer processed instruments. What these are is hard to tell. Perhaps guitars. However it would be too easy to pin Build Buildings down as a mere copy cat of his UK counterparts. Whereas some of those are in an altogether too strict genre, Build Buildings shows that he is capable of producing a much more varied album. The twelve pieces here show craftmanship in creating fine tunes that are different to the other ones on the same CD. This makes this into a most enjoyable release, with enough variations to keep things interesting to the end. A strong blend of IDM, glitch and clicks and cuts. Very nice. (FdW)
Address: http://www.buildbuildings.com

ERRATUM #4 (3CD by Erratum)
JOACHIM MONTESSUIS - ERRANCES 1993-2005 (CD by Galerie Lara Vincy)
This is probably the oldest living sound artist that made into the pages of Vital Weekly. Chopin is now in his 80s (!) and still going strong, recording music and I believe even sometimes performing live. In the fifties he started recording his sound poetry, in a highly unique manner, then had a magazine for sound poetry, Revue OU (magazine and record) and since the mid nineties his career had another boost, after the release of 'Les 9 Saint-Phonies'. Since, a whole young generation became acquainted with his music/poetry, that is so strictly his own thing. Henri Chopin belongs to no movement, nor scene. This CD, recorded in 2003, has a short piece, a longer one and a really long one, and if you never heard Chopin, it's not easy to describe what it sounds like. Sometimes it sounds like he's breathing in the microphone, sometimes a French word is shouted. There is a clever use of stereo (the man works, still, with reel to reel tape recorders, lovingly depicted in the booklet). It's not language as we know it, but it's the language of Chopin and his body, mouth, lungs, stomach. A superficial listening session could lead to the conclusion that this is all too simple and could easily be repeated, but I don't believe that to be true if you listen well. There is a lot of small variation and structure to be noted in this recording. Still, now in his 80s, Henri Chopin is a totally unique voice and should be an example for us all.
They might certainly an example for all those people that are packed on the triple CD compilation 'Erratum #4', which is a magazine on CD. Subtitled 'Sound Review' and 'Art + Noise + Poetry', this is three times seventy minutes of exactly just that: noise, art and poetry - in no particular order. Fifty-four tracks here with loads and loads of people I never heard of (Arno Fabre, Michel Giroud, Doctor Courbe, EHB, David Larcher, Llorence Barber, Samon Takahashi, Charles Pennequin), but also loads and loads of well-known people from various directions, such as AGF, Lee Ranaldo, Francisco Lopez, Brandon Labelle and Phill Niblock. Some of the more surprising tracks include a Lopez take on death metal (he was there before, but didn't continue, it seemed), a short but nice clicks and cuts piece by Tommi Gronlund/Petteri Nisunen, Christina Kubish playing a somewhat harsher tune than we are used to, an ode to Kurt Schwitters by Jacques Demarq and Michel Giroud's 'Dog Song'. Signature pieces by Pierre Andre Arcand, AGF, Julien Ottavi, Le Depeupleur and Christophe Charles/Hennig Christiansen. Chopin's best students are Randy Yau and Michel Giroud: they come closest to the original music of Chopin. An overload of music here, but throughout most enjoyable.
The Erratum label, who released these two CDs, is run by one Joachim Montessuis, who is a musician/visual artist in his own right. His 'Errances 1993-2005' is a collection of pieces, packed inside a book of visuals of his concerts. If I understood the text correctly, Montessuis' work is also based on the use of voice, but the treatments he does with them, make them way beyond the original voice. Montessuis uses different kinds of treatments to arrive at different kinds of results. Sometimes he goes all the way into pure noise, such as in 'Nierica' or '08042005', but things work better for me when it's more calm and relaxing, such as the absolutely nicely drones of 'Eros Is Eros Is Eros' or '29112004', which is recorded with Tibetan monks. In the latter the voice is clearly the thing that makes the piece (the only one on the CD), but on the first things are layered and shifting around like a good early Steve Reich piece. Some of the pieces are quite long, but throughout this is quite an enjoyable CD. (FdW)
Address: http://www.erratum.org
Address: http://www.lara-vincy.com

There is so much stuff out there to discover, that it's hard to keep up but if a band are called The Psychic Paramount, I can't resist to put a tired smile to my face, which changed half way through the CD: this isn't some dark gothic band along the lines of some many thing Psychic(k), but rather a free rock unit that really rocks the house. The band was formed five days before going on tour; the tour on which this CD was recorded. That too is something of a surprise. The band consists of Drew St. Ivany on guitar and Ben Armstrong on bass and for this tour Tatsuya Nakatani on drums (now they have Jeff Conaway). They play lengthy pieces of free rock, along the lines of the Acid Mothers Temple, with similar furious intend. Since these are the recordings from the very very early stages of this band, I have no idea what they sound like these days, but the raw and untamed quality of this diamond is very nice. Energetic noise working like an oil pump for your adrenaline.
Of a totally different nature is Magicicada, aka Christopher White and also someone I never heard of. Apparently he is always recording and performing on a wide array of sound devices pump organ, voice, contact mics on faulty electric lines, melodica, toys, iron balls rolling wooden floors etc (this being not even half the list) and has had a couple of releases on CD and CDR. Every track on the CD is noted with long lists of recording notes, and if you read them, they give the impression of someone who is also frantically moving about. Not caring about how or why, this is best described as 'outsider' music. It moves along lines of improvised music, eastern and western folk music, lo-fi singer songwriter stuff and minimalist patterns on the cello, but never going to be anything close to being accessible: there is a strong element of experimental music to it, but at the same time things remain highly listenable. Again, great stuff. (FdW)
Address: http://www.publicguilt.com

When the second volume of 'The Walls Are Whispering' was reviewed (Vital Weekly 439, volume one in 423), it was said that the third volume would be released by the end of the year 2004, but for reasons unknown another year was added. To refresh your memory: 'The Walls Are Whispering' are three compilation CDs with dark ambient music of whatever kind, be it drone related, be it more rhythmical or be it more soundscape/field recording like. The series collects some of the better known names in this area with some new comers, such as Acid...Soma and Azymbol, here on the third volume. The various field recorders are represented here by MNortham, Seth Nehil and Yannick Dauby. The darker ambient comes from Shifts, Azymbol, Acid...Soma and Contagious Orgasm (the latter two being also the most noise related here), whereas Oren Ambarchi and Fear Falls Burning use the guitar to drone away. The two surprising pieces are by Eric Lanzillota (who has settled now as a composer of music) with a nice pure electronic piece of shifting clusters of sound and Felix Kubin who does something likewise. They are both atmospheric in approach, but are different than the much of the other pieces (here, as-well as on the previous two volumes). It's another good volume and with all three one should have a good guide to what is available in this field of music. (FdW)
Address: http://www.eetapes.be

LABEL SAMPLER (CD compilation by SRL)
SRL, or Suburb. The Record Label is again a new label from London and they signed a lot of artists, many of which are already signed to other labels. All of them operate in the realms of electronic music, but each in a specific area thereof. Ambient, techno, IDM and even hip hop, they are all featured here. The only name I recognized is Bovaflux, but also included are Praveen, Nameless, Blamstrain, 11t1, Buddy Peace, Hyl and Immovable Object. They are serve with nice pieces, but the only stand-out was 'Malt Water' by Buddy Peace, with nicely sampled guitars and drums, making it into a fine rock/breakbeat piece with a guitar that sounds like George Harrison. Definitely a place to check out new names if Highpoint Lowlife, Ai or Expanding Records attracted your attention before. (FdW)
Address: http://www.suburbtherecordlabel.co.uk

DERAIL - ENGINE ROOM (CD by High Mayhem)
Derail is a Santa Fe-based trio by Roland Ostheim (guitar, vocals, rhodes), Adam Fried (bass) and Michael Smith (drums, electronics), plus Zack Condon (trumpet on track 3), formed in 2003. In november 2003 they played at the High Mayhem Experimental Multi-Media Festival. Recordings were made at the 2004 edition of this festival, and found their way to their first one, 'Engine Room'. It's impressive how quick they developed into a real band in one year, ready to climb the stages of a festival. Listening to 'Engine Room' I guess these musicians have a rock background. With their extensive noisy excursions they surely create an intense atmosphere, but their rock music is not of a very interesting kind in my view. Endlessly they are jamming around but 'it' never happens. It did my best to discover some original idea, but alas I couldn't find anything of that kind.
Ray Charles Ives is a duo of Diplomat and Feathericci. The wordplay is obvious: Ray Charles and Charles Ives seem point of reference for this duo. Like Derail they are also from Santa Fe. With 'Clandestine Pedestrian' they make their debut: 5 pieces on a 30 minute mini-cd. They make use of drums, bass, fender rhodes, sampler, loops and voice. The combination of these traditional instruments like drums, fender rhodes and bass on the one hand, and samplers on the other hand defines their sound. In each track they lay down an instrumental grooving pattern, that slowly moves on. Don't expect complex of surprising compositions, it's dance music. Typical white funky music. No doubt this stuff works on the dance floor. Pieces are built up as they should and have a hypnotizing effect. The beat by the drums and the bass lines make up a good team with solid interaction. The music is completed with a diversity of sampled sounds plus keyboards. (DM)
Address: http://www.highmayhem.org/

It was quite a long wait, but here is at last a new LP by Idea Fire Company, which is good news (and even better news is that they are to do some European concerts early March 2006, some may include a screening of Scott Foust' feature film 'Here's To Love'). On this record, as before with their last release 'Rags To Riches' (see Vital Weekly 404), Idea Fire Company is a four piece group of Scott Foust (radio, tapes, treatments), Karla Borecky (synth, voice, tiny piano), Jessi Leigh Swenson (synth, voice) and Meara O'Reilly (synth, voice) and Graham Lambin on one track (credited with Lambkinization). Idea Fire Company goes with 'Stranded' even further down the line with playing 'ugly' drone music. Things are heavily minimal, with sounds being repeated, but also there are twisted around in a very subtle manner. 'Heroes' contains of all them chanting, against a very slow rhythm - perhaps a cover of Bowie? 'Wünderwäffen' is carried by a very dark synthline over which other synths are buzzing and throbbing. A powerful piece. The two parts of the title piece contain field recordings. This is much more free music than the Idea Fire Company work we knew from before, liberated from rhythms and melodies, this is by far the best thing I heard from them so far. (FdW)
Address: http://www.anti-naturals.org


LA BOUTIQUE AUX CHANSONS (CDR compilation by Inati)
'Using the process of song writing as a metaphor for democratic participation in culture', Kosten Koper asked anyone to write lyrics and then he invited some musicians to set these songs to music. This CDR contains a selection of those songs, as set to music by Bing Selfish, Pieter Kock (of Hitmachine fame) and The Retrosexuals (which include Neck Doppler and members of Eye And Ear Control). This CDR is a documentation of the event, which includes spoken word announcements (as separate tracks on the CDR), radio announcements (en francais, since this was made in Brussels) and the songs itself. The recording quality is not overall great, which is a pity since it makes the overall thing quite lo-fi. Pieter Kock plays a couple of tracks, accompanied on his cheap casio keyboards, perhaps a bit like Felix Kubin spending the night with Captain Beefheart. Bing Selfish (who is the editor of the comic El Frenzy) plays guitar like a good singer songwriter, but who is on speed. The Retrosexuals has probably made the most effort in turning the lyrics into real songs, bursting with energetic rhythm machines, synths and multi-vocals. As a documentation this is more than fun, although the varying quality of songs, execution and recording. And free, if you care to pay for the postage. (FdW)
Address: http://www.inati2004.org

The whole evening of sylvester is for me never much of a celebration, just waiting and waiting for fireworks to disturb the movie I'm watching and an unpleasant interruption of drinking a glass of red wine. Of course I could go out and see say the Fcknbstrds live at Knieschussclub in Bremen, Germany. They started at 23:45 and played for forty-five minutes, into the new year. I'm sure if I really want to do that, since the concert is now available as a CDR and home is where the hurt is. Fcknbstrds are a bunch of unrelentness noise makers from The Netherlands, playing a rather lo-fi version of noise on a bunch of cheap electronics, some distortion pedals and an endless stream of screams. Whatever the lyrics may mean, it's of course of no real importance. Their sound is not so much a consistent stream of noise, but more chaotic, bouncing back and forth, humming small melodies on cheap keyboards and feedback going berserk. The Fcknbstrds are never about doing something different in what they do, but as always they do what they do best: get drunk, play noise, have fun. It's a party and if you like it, join in on whatever level. (FdW)
Address: http://www.fcknbstrds.com

This is my first encounter with Fessenden, a trio of Joshua Convey on bass, Stephen Fiehn on CD players, guitar and Ipod and Steven Hess on drums and vibraphone. They are from Chicago and the two pieces on this release where recorded during rehearsals, direct on minidisc. Their music has an improvised character, but also seems to be working along 'fixed' lines. A strong love of minimal music is present, with small sounds being repeated, and slowly hiss fading in, but all of the sounds seem to be played with a sense of non-importance: no sound, no instrument seems to want to take the lead, jumps out of it, but each one seems to be equally important. It's hard to avoid such terms as microsound or onkyo improvisation here, but Fessenden certainly play two nice pieces of their own version of this kind of music and do a more than excellent job. It could have been easily released on the Object series by Locust Music, which carried similar music. Quite nice indeed. (FdW)
Address: http://www.entracte.co.uk

ZANG MINI FESTIVAL (CDR compilation by Zang)
Zang stands for many things: a label, a music project, a firm and a concert promoter. Zang is Helge Olav Øksendal and Pal Asle Pettersen from Stavanger, Norway, who both turned 30 last year (this becomes important later on). As the band Zang, they have a project called 'The Opposing Player's Move', in which they take recordings of someone else and rework/recompose/transform them. First they did this with the saxophone sounds of Frode Gjerstad, and here they do the same thing with the organ improvisations of Nils Henrik Asheim, a composer from the Stavenger. His playing was cut together, spliced up and transformed inside the computer. It would be altogether too easy to transform organ recordings into a mighty powerful piece of drone music, but Zang chooses for a more collage-like, musique concrete like manner. The pieces are short and too the point, and the walks a fine like between the original organ sound (including such sounds as the pump from the organ itself) and it's transformations. Quite a strong work.
As said both labelowners turned 30 last year and they invited their local friends from Stavanger to play short concerts. The eleven short pieces (perhaps the entire concert of each?, we are not sure) are mixed bunch of noise, techno, micro-glitch music and improvised sound. The track by Nes, 'Russer.faen' is an absolutly price winner in the category of kitsch, with it's sampled together Russian popmusic. Included are Bjerga/Iversen, P'Diggi, Anders Gjerde, DJ Bahn, Sten Ove Toft and more. Quite a nice bunch altogether. (FdW)
Address: http://www.kunst.no/paal.asle/

8ROLEK - 9 GRATIS (MP3 by Mik Musik)
This is a release that was already reviewed, almost three years ago, when we were first introduced to the music of 8Rolek. Back then it was called 'Dziewiata Gratis' (see Vital Weekly 353), and had eight tracks, now it has nine. But it's also remastered and in connection with the title, it's also gratis as a free MP3 download. After this album 8Rolek started to explore further the energies in electro-punk, but on '9 Gratis' it's still safe and warm inside the cold clicks and cuts of so much in the Mille Plateaux catalogue. Dry rhythms and plug ins taking the material much further away into space, but sometimes the proceedings are a bit too easy, too single-minded and too straightforward. Now, three years later this may sound a bit outdated, and overtly simple, compared to his more recent work, but from a historical point of view it's quite ok. And with no money involved, certainly worth checking out. (FdW)
Address: http://www.mikmusik.org/9gratis/

Now that is quite a mouth full, Krabatof Philharmonic Orchestra, a project by one Ludovic Guerry from Geneva, Switzerland. He calls his music 'experimental noise ambient', a 'minimal and raw project, computer generated/modified noises, field recordings and many weird sounds mixed together'. On his own website he has published the album 'Insect's Brain', which is a nice collection of what he does. Deep rumbles, harsher processings but also processed classical music, make up this music. It's microsound, but it's also related to a more noise related version thereof, without the harsher overtones of say Merzbow (even when he's a bit softer, which is not often). A bit more abrasive sounding, without loosing a keen eye on structure. Perhaps not so innovative, but quite alright altogether. (FdW)
Address: http://www.krabatof.org/winter.htm

Obituary: Hiroyasu Kondo
by Akos Garai


"We regret to inform that on January 8th 2006, Hiroyasu Kondo, founder of Audio Note Japan, passed away peacefully in his sleep while attending the CES audio show in Las Vegas. He is survived by his wife, Kazuko; his son, Yuji; and his daughter, Hisae.

Hiroyasu Kondo, the second son of a Buddhist priest, was a professor of electronic engineering and molecular metallurgy. He founded Audio Note in Japan in 1976, facilitating his desire to develop audio equipment capable of reproducing the essence of artistic performance captured in recorded music. He was often referred to as the "silver smith" for his revolutionary use of age annealed silver in his audio equipment. The Kondo ONGAKU amplifier will forever be a symbol of his success. He was the Picasso of contemporary audio design.

Kondo San had suffered ill health for some time. In order to ensure that the Kondo standard would flourish, he appointed his close colleague Masaki Ashizawa as President of Audio Note Japan six months ago. Ashizawa San has worked with Kondo San for the past 16 years and shared Kondo San's passion for creating "perfect sound."

On behalf of Kondo San's family, we would like to thank all those people from around the world who have sent tributes expressing their affection for Kondo San and acknowledging his place in audio history."

Ákos Garai




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