number 717
week 5


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!
complete tracklist here: http://www.vitalweekly.net/podcast.html

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* noted are in this week's podcast. We finally have a feed again. 1000x times to Maximillian for his endless patience & help. Its here: http://www.vitalweekly.net/podcast.xml


HUNTER COMPLEX (CD by Narrominded) *
MUSHI MUSHI - SEQUINS SAVE LIVES (CD by Distraction Records) *
ROEL MEELKOP - OUWE KOEIEN (CD by Herbal International) *
RASHOMON - THE FINISHING LINE (CD by Hinterzimmer Records) *
TOKYO MASK - ROUTE PAINLESS (CD by Low Impedance Recordings) *
SISTER OVERDRIVE - ANNICK/PHILOMEIA (CD by Low Impedance Recordings) *
URAL UMBO (CD by Utech Records) *
MAGDA MAYAS - HEARTLAND (CD by Another Timbre) *
LORIS - THE CAT FROM CAT HILL (CD by Another Timbre) *
O YUKI CONJUGATE - OYC25 (CD & DVD by Soleilmoon) *
ZKM: TRANS_CANADA (DVD by Empreintes Digitales)
S/T - GORP (LP by Mas de Cade)
SMALL THINGS ON SUNDAYS - 4AM (CDR by Moving Furniture Records) *
JLIAT - DASEIN (CDR by Jliat) *
PLATFORM - PSEUDOCHROMIS (3"CDR by Smallfish Records) *
AXXONN - BELOW THE DEAD ONES (cassette by Bedroom Suck Records)


MP3 releases




HUNTER COMPLEX (CD by Narrominded)
MUSHI MUSHI - SEQUINS SAVE LIVES (CD by Distraction Records)
Following 'Here Is The Night' a taster CD single with various remixes, here is the full length by Hunter Complex, also known as Lars Meijer, also known as the boss behind Narrominded Records. That was a mighty fine taster indeed, and it made me very curious about the full length. A spoiler then: its great, perhaps exactly what I hoped for. Synthpop, electropop. I made the connection to the releases on Suction Records, yet Hunter Complex takes matters a bit further. Vocals play an important role in this music. Those vocals reminded me a band from the 80s, early 90s who made similar electronic popmusic, Tranquil Eyes (I am sure not many people remember them). Uptempo pieces that are sweet, funny, poppy but also a bit dark. Think Depeche Mode in their early 80s work, Soft Cell, OMD, even New Order (a particular favorite here), Human League and lots of more obscure electro bands, like the aforementioned Tranquil Eyes. This is an excellent release - very retro in approach, but this is the kind of music which never seems to age. It still sounds as fresh as it was then. But then, perhaps I am not the right person to ask for a subjective view on matters like this: I have always been a sucker for great synth pop.
Its of course a fine line between all things pop, and perhaps all things unVital. Hunter Complex may not be real Vital material, but loved out of personal taste for such music. Its a bit harder with the album by Mushi Mushi from Tyneside. They are a rock band, using real drums, guitars and keyboards. Occasionally their music is of a heavy type, banging on and on. Sometimes things are a bit softer. Definitely the more rock type approach. No matter how I hard I think I don't see a 'past' reference, except perhaps loud post punk music combined with electronics and a bit of dance music. Maybe at times also New Order like - era 'Get Ready' - but then less based around a real song structure without lyrics and all that. I think Mushi Mushi would make a great live band - Distraction says they are. I surely believe that. But here, alone, at home, I must say I am less convinced about it. Perhaps too rock based for my taste. Not bad at all, just not my cupper. (FdW)
Address: http://www.narrominded.com
Address: http://www.distractionrecords.com

ROEL MEELKOP - OUWE KOEIEN (CD by Herbal International)
The problem with being a 'reviewer' and having more than one hat 'in the business' arrives when things like this land on my desk. Should I really be the one to review it? I wrote the liner notes for this release, because Roel Meelkop is not only a dear friend of mine (reviewers are sometimes asked to write liner notes, we all know that), but also someone whom I occasionally create music with (in Kapotte Muziek, Goem, Zebra and THU20 for instance). That's two reasons for not wanting to review this. The third is that 'Oude Koeien' contains re-releases Meelkop did for my small Korm Plastics label in ancient days when it was releasing highly limited vinyl - all gone of course and rightly so to deserve a re-issue. Oh and a fourth reason is that one track is a remix that I didn't release but rework an original I did. So, thinking this all over, its hard - neh, impossible - to write something objective about this release. Should I elaborate on the genius that Meelkop usually is? Marvel about the great microsound composer he is? Do you really need MY opinion then to get this? Hardly, I'd say. But one, objective, advise: Meelkop's music should never be released on vinyl. Its too delicate. But that's something you know already, I assume. You can now shelf your precious vinyl and hear a wonderfully remastered re-release. (FdW)
Address: http://www.herbalinternational.tk

RASHOMON - THE FINISHING LINE (CD by Hinterzimmer Records)
Matt Thompson started to play music as Rashomon in 2004. He is also a member of Guapo and for his solo music he likes to create something that works in the same way as making a movie. He likes his music to be like soundtrack, albeit without film. I guess one could say that for any music (well, let's say: to any music reviewed in Vital Weekly): it just depends to what extend you want to hear something as a soundtrack. At his disposal are a bunch of real instruments. Drums play an important role, guitars too, but also minimoog, organ, Fender Rhodes, bass, vocals, bowed psaltery, violin an vinyl. And electronics are there on the other hand. The label compares this to prog rock, electronic noise, waltzes, Eastv European folk, metal, drones, pysch rock and free jazz - and yes, quite rightly so. Perhaps easier to say: Rashomon surely likes Nurse With Wound in all its various guises. A swift montage of sound. Going from slow jazzy drums and slide guitars (spaghetti western!), fading into a piercing electronic soundscape, a bit of drones and then a montage of samples to add that filmic sequence. Actually I am not entirely sure which film I should be projecting in my mind, but perhaps I am not that much of a film man myself. I must say I did appreciate this CD quite a lot. It moves all over the musical spectrum and makes a nice coherent piece of music. Almost like a soundtrack indeed! (FdW)
Address: http://www.hinterzimmer-records.com

There isn't much information about this, other than its a band from Paris of two persons, Marc H. and Thibault L. They create their music with 'machines and guitars' and are heavily influenced by Brian Eno and Biosphere. Ok, don't get me wrong here. I think this is really nice ambient music. Very atmospheric, great chill out music. Nicely played on things we no longer recognize as guitars, plus what seems to be (probably) field recordings. Eleven nice pieces of this stuff. Ok, then my problem: if someone says 'influenced by', does that mean it has to sound 'exactly like'? I think Materia Aurora made very little attempt in creating something of their own, and did everything possible to sound just like Biosphere - more than Brian Eno perhaps. You may argue that there are perhaps only 10 or so people trying to sound like Biosphere, and hundreds like the Rolling Stones, but at least it should have something of its own and not a carbon copy of your heroes. Have no never heard Biosphere then Materia Aurora delivered a great atmospheric record. (FdW)
Address: http://www.opn.fr

Strange. I don't like that word. Strange. Its without meaning. What is strange to me, might be common to you. However its a word that popped in my head when I was listening to this particular release by Rod Staer, which is actually a band of Bard Torgersen and Leifson Persbraten. They play... well guitar, I'd say. They sing from time to time. There are electronics. There are loops. Loops of noise sometimes. The opening piece 'Mausoleum' drowns in a pool of reverb. Reverb on the guitar, the vocals, and whatever was sounding there and then. Towards the end there are drums. Rock music? Perhaps. But just as easily they go on to play some sort of old school industrial music in 'Tuareg', which falls apart in two pieces. A singer-song writer opening then for 'Gress Opp Til Knaeme', another song that consists of multiple pieces within the piece. Lo-fi electronics versus the acoustic guitar in 'Klappesang'. Did they make up their mind before recording, or was the plan: let's get as many crazy ideas together as possible, despite whatever variation in sound quality? Because that's the impression I have from this release. I do like the their guts to release such a wild variation. What's their audience? Schizophrenics perhaps, I thought. Do I like the music? Not necessarily. (FdW)
Address: http://www.roggbif.com

Somewhere, somehow, I know I heard the name Elodie Lauten before. Perhaps I saw one of her old records at Dolf Mulder a long time ago. Maybe it was one of the two LPs that are now re-issued by Unseen Worlds on disc one of this double pack? Maybe I just don't know or remember. Lauten came from a background in rock music - the liner notes seem to hint she wrote 'Do The Dog', which was recorded by The Specials. However she moved away from rock music to play the piano and keyboards, releasing two LPs in the 80s and together with works from 1981 and 1985 this is now released on a double CD. Its for me a great introduction. It would be too easy to say that Lauten plays minimal music on her piano. That is only a small extent of what it is. She doesn't play strict, repeating phrases, but moves all around, especially in a work like 'Variations On The Orange Cycle', which is a piece for solo piano. The other thing that stands out in her work is the use of tape-loops in the early works and then samples in the later work. In 'Sonate Modale' she adds sounds from the cities' environment, which add perhaps a sinister backdrop to the music. The city at night approach. Great pieces, these and filling up the second disc. On the first disc, two of her LPs, plus one piece from a compilation cassette. These early works have throughout of course shorter pieces, and are perhaps a bit more 'raw' in approach. The keyboard approach to minimal music as seen from the context of rock music - erm, hello, you get my drift? To her piano she adds keyboards and tape-loops and that makes quite a vivid, lively form of minimal music. 'Con Spirito' is for instance such a great piece. Sometimes it fails a bit, and the marriage of piano and loops is not that great (in 'Imaginary Husband' for instance), but its very nice music throughout. Very much without 'restrictions' I'd say, not being part of one world or another. Excellent find, this small treasure. (FdW)
Address: http://www.unseenworlds.net

For Rich West it started with some side activities in Camper Van Beethoven circles in the 80s (Monks of Doom and Wrestling Worms). Later he recorded with people like Mike Watt, Jimmy Carl Black, Jeff Kaiser and many others. Nowadays he is an avant-jazz drummer and ensemble leader. For a view on his of works of the last years have a look in the catalogue of Pfmentum, a San Diego-based label. This illustrates his development as composer and ensemble leader. "Mayo Grout's Known Universe" is his latest effort. For this album West surrounded himself with some excellent musicians form his southern California connections: Emily Hay (flute), Bruce Friedman (trumpet), David Kendall - (bass guitar, electronics), Haskel Joseph (guitar), Ace Farren Ford (vocals), Tony Atherton (alto sax), Steuart Liebig (bass guitar), Eric Johnson (bassoon), Walter Zooi (trumpet), Jill Meschke (keyboards), Paul Green (bass guitar). The performance made by several of these musicians, is part of the success of this album. It is overall nicely executed. We hear some great solos by Emily Hay on flute, Haskel Joseph on electric guitar. And there is a lot of fine interplay to enjoy, with nice instrumentals passages like the closing piece. It is a conceptalbum of program-music built around a story on the fictitious person Mayo Grout. I must admit that I did not my best to comprehend it. I couldn't make much of it and probably I missed some points here. But on the other hand, I enjoyed the playing and the compositions. And that's enough for me. West takes inspiration from many sources: jazz, rock, funk, impro, noise, it is all there. It results in a rockmusic with avant-garde touches, but never really far out. (DM)
Address: http://www.pfmentum.com/

Bruit Clair is the new label founded by Mathias Delplanque, who works under various guises, such as The Missing Ensemble, Bidlo, Lena and his own name. His first two releases deal with the latter two guises. 'Parcelles 1-10' should be seen as part one in a trilogy, but also the successor of 'Le Pavilion Temoin' (see Vital Weekly 581). It continues in the same vein as the previous one. He uses acoustic instruments, say guitar, zither, percussion, melodica, which are played along with immediate processings of those sounds on the computer. My main argument with 'Le Pavillon Temoin' also applies to this one. I am still not convinced by it. A nice start, but after a while the scraping, bowing and bending of such instruments with sparse electronic processing is all to clear. What's next, I wondered then, as well as now. In a small doses this is indeed quite a nice album, but then all ten pieces at once is perhaps a bit much I think.
Lena is the hat he uses for his dubby techno pieces and is something entirely different indeed. I have moved away from playing loads of dance music already ages ago, simply because I never wanted to be DJ and well... perhaps to pursue other forms of music. I don't know. From time to time the ipod spins Porter Ricks or Basic Channel, which then are the remains of my lost interest. But listening to these four tracks as Lena I think I should try and hear more of this music again. Its quite nice! Great laidback tunes, slow, hissy, deep bass, dub like rhythms. Excellent slow chill out music - great music to travel with. (FdW)
Address: http://www.bruitclair.com

TOKYO MASK - ROUTE PAINLESS (CD by Low Impedance Recordings)
'Route Painless' is already the fourth release by Tokyo Mask for Low Impedance Recordings, following 'Backbone' (see Vital Weekly 497) and 'Hinterlands' (see Vital Weekly 562) and the not reviewed 'Manfool'. Tokyo Mask, being the project of Kostas Karamitas is a bit hard to pin own. The previous releases were classified as dubby, trippy rhythm affair, but this new one is relying heavily on heavy distorted guitars. A wall of sound approach, in which drums still play a role of course. Although its not a bad album, I can't say it was entirely pleasing. The pieces sounded too similar at times for my taste. Too many fuzzy guitar sound too. Once or twice is alright, but four of them in thirty minutes, seems a bit too much I think. In the fifth track something other shines through, a more mellow outing. Two more of those, and three heavy tracks would have been a better balance.
Also from Greece is Sister Overdrive, also known as Giannis Kotsonis, offering two tracks here, 'Annick' and Philomela', which are both in five parts. The latter was composed as part of a theatre play. This is something different indeed than the release by Tokyo Mask. It hoovers somewhere in the grey area between industrial music, drone, musique concrete and microsound. What Kostonis uses as sound input I don't know. Field recordings I think, electronics, lots of those and as far as I can hear no real instruments. I must admit I think the music is fairly alright, not being highly original in what it does or is, but its all quite nice. Highly atmospheric music, very dark and surely will appeal to those who like releases on Mystery Sea. (FdW)
Address: http://www.lowimpedance.net

URAL UMBO (CD by Utech Records)
An interesting collaboration here between Reto Mader, whom we best know as RM74 and Sum Of R and Steven Hess, percussion player of On, Haptic and Pan American. I think its Hess who submitted sound material to Mader, as it says mix and master by Reto Mader. There is a wide variety of instruments at the boys disposal: horns, piano, organ, harmonium, bass, strings, electronics, drums and percussion. They create mostly dark music with this. Horror movie soundtrack I'd say. It all sounds as music for something black and dark. I kept thinking about shoegazing music. The electronics used to transform these sounds are close to gritty feedback like sounds and has melodies just below the surface. Hess plays mostly textured percussive sounds, and hardly very 'rhythmic' banging drums, with some odd exception, such as in 'Forlata Jag'. When it happens its slow and loud. This is all quite intense music, and perhaps something I wouldn't expect from either of these artist, especially Hess plays something that I think is odd for him. Its however a great, daring release from them. Its dark, its experimental but its also musical, with all those small hints and traces of melodies. An excellent collaboration. On the label's website there is also a set of further tracks of this, based on these recordings. (FdW)
Address: http://www.utechrecords.com

MAGDA MAYAS - HEARTLAND (CD by Another Timbre)
LORIS - THE CAT FROM CAT HILL (CD by Another Timbre)
A solo CD by one Magda Mayas, who plays piano, on a label full of improvised music. Should improvisers release solo CDs - I asked myself this only recently, and just the other day I spoke about this with Dolf Mulder, our improvised/free jazz music lover. We think they shouldn't. In improvised music its the interaction between musicians that counts, we thought. That was before I heard 'Heartland' by Magda Mayas, who has two pieces of played live on the piano. I don't know her at all but I wondering how many hands she has, as at times it sounds like she has six. We hear the scraping of metallic sounds, like an improviser on percussion, the snares of the piano being plucked, while a finger hits the keys every now and then. All of which sounding at times at bit electronic. This is a great CD, very powerful and intense. The piano is the piano throughout, but Mayas knows how to pull out so many more of the instrument, the scraping, bowing and plucking that this fifty minute release is a breathtaking work. Excellently and expertly played. Who said that solo improvisers shouldn't release records?
More piano's on the next release. On the stage we have two. The one of the left is played by Chris Burn and on the right by Philip Thomas, who has prepared his. In the middle is free-jazz legend Simon H. Fell. Maybe I should have left this one to Dolf Mulder I thought. Many of the Another Timbre releases moved away from the strict free-improvisation (jazz or otherwise), and explore instruments not as they are but also an object. This one doesn't seem to do that and operates more in the free jazz circle, especially the bass by Fell. This leads to the usual hectic playing that someone like me associates with free jazz. The best bits are those which are a bit more sparse and minimal, with some air for the music to breath in, such as the opening of 'Never Knew Such Silence' (the title being a programm here). Still quite a nice CD throughout, but not a favorite here.
In that respect I feel more connection to the release by Loris. Another theory here is that when musicians from the field of improvisation get together on a regular basis they might want to use a band name. I guess that's the idea here with Loris, a trio of Patrick Farmer (natural objects, e-bow snare, tapes, wood), Sarah Hughes (chorded zither, piano, e-bow) and Daniel Jones (turntable, e-bow, piezo discs, electronics). Their music is largely based on drones from the zither, snares and on the other hand each members supplies a sufficient amount of crackling sounds, from those objects and the turntable. They make an excellent combination here. The overall sound being quite densely layered, quite deep, with lots of the bass end, but with those high end crackles every now and then. Seeing this mastered by Robert Curgenven might give you a clue as to what Loris is about as there are quite some similarities between Loris and Curvengen. Great release, I'd say. (FdW)
Address: http://www.anothertimbre.com

O YUKI CONJUGATE - OYC25 (CD & DVD by Soleilmoon)
A while ago I had to move everything from one side to the room to the other to put a new floor in. Then then everything back. The first thing I did was re-connect the CD player and when I more or less blindly took the first CD from a pile, which I thought would be nice to play when dragging around piles of CDs and it turns out to be 'Sunchemical', a CDEP by O Yuki Conjugate. I liked it so much that I had it on repeat for a while that afternoon and even stuck it to my ipod. I am hardly surprised that this band exists twenty-five years when recording 'OYC25' in 2007 (I presume), as I already seen a note about a box set of works from the past. O Yuki Conjugate's releases over those years have not been many but they had truly a great sound of their own. An excellent combination of ambient music along the lines of Brian Eno and Jon Hassell, ethnic music percussion, a bit of industrial music and later on techno/house. The members were all active in various other bands such as A Small Good Thing and Sons Of Silence, and still get together every now and then to record. For this recording all members from the past and the present came together to record an album during an afternoon. This album was then mixed by Rob Jenkins into a very fine piece of music. The improvised nature of the music is all gone and replaced by a great mixture of slow percussive moods, ambient tapestries of synthesizer sounds, flutes and flowing guitars, feeding through a bunch of sound effects, and a bit of weirdness to prevent it from becoming a new age cliche. O Yuki Conjugate are still, after twenty-five years, masters of the genre. And as a bonus (?) there is also a DVD inside this package with archive material. We see O Yuki Conjugate on tour in 1993-1994 (like a home video tourist movie actually with excerpts from concerts and interviews), a great concert from 2007 of OYC as a trio and a video about the recording of the 'OYC25' album, which looks great too. An alternative mix really, and a fine interaction. In the extra (extra bonus?) section more live stuff, but then from 1982 (without film of course), a strange short comic like thing plus another alternative mix of 'OYC25' - which of course is a bit much if you first heard the CD, then saw the live recording of it, but just one day you might grab this and want to check it out - just like any good bonus on a DVD, I guess. A project loaded with just great music, and some funny background images. Just the sort of way a jubilee should be done.
Rapoon is somebody who I never kept up with. Like Muslimgauze someone who releases perhaps a bit too much of the same thing, with minor changes here and there. And perhaps I don't collect music, but rather be surprised to hear something new. This album is a political one. Not that I could tell from the music, or the cover, but from the press text. "These songs were composed during the last days of the Bush/Blair era and reflect the feeling of isolation and disconnect ion from any part of the political process and any sense of identification with the prevailing air of hostility and intolerance generated by this pair of religious xenophobes." Etc. Personally I don't believe music can hold a political message. Lyrics can, yes, a cover can, but not music itself. If Rapoon's Robin Storey has such a profound opinion on what he sees as an unjustified war in Iraq, he could make that clear on the cover (and subsequently I wonder how many Kurds were sad by the death penalty of the man who used so much poison gas against them). Rapoon's music is a little different here than what I remember. Indeed more sparse, but still heavily based on the use of loops, delay and reverb. The fourteen tracks are based on just a few sounds per piece, and are, most of them, more sketch like in approach, then what could be a finished composition. Which is probably the same problem I have with much of Muslimgauze: why not concentrate on things a bit more and create that one great composition out of the various materials created? Still not a bad release however as he knows what he's doing and his self-defined esthetic is certainly his own and thats probably his greatest strength. (FdW)
Address: http://www.soleilmoon.com

Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome Ah, cabaret! I'm sure most of the Vital readers of a certain age (read 35+) will know the famous 1972 movie featuring Liza Minelli in her prime (and little else). Set in a Berlin nightclub during the crisis of 30's the movie is full of campy provocative playfulness, with a hint of bare flesh and has since become something of a synonym for stylish decadence. A bit like dancing on a volcano. It is no surprise that, considering the symbiosis between the crisis in Berlin in the 30's and the current financial crisis, cabaret (and everything it stands for) is actual again. Hence the release of this wonderful package entitled Twisted Cabaret ("twisted" no less). So bring on the woman-with-the-beard, the midgets, the sexy dancers in stockings, the blade swallowers et al. The great thing is that Volvox have realized you need a visual component to fully capture that spirit. Most of the songs on the CD are repeated and visualized in clips on the DVD, which is a great thing, as it is hard (well, harder) to get that "cabaret-feeling" merely from the music. So what's on offer? It's pleasing to note that Volvox music have managed to combine a number of bigger names with (for me) total unknowns. So we get The Residents (there are indeed "cabaret"-elements in their Harry the Head), the Dresden Dolls (definitely cabaret and such a pleasure to watch - they split up, but it remains a joy to see Brian Viglione hit his drums - hard and with style) and the Legendary Pink Dots (not too sure about their cabaret-level, but they serve up Man or Mouse; a beautiful new audio track and two, admittedly rare, but hardly cabaretish live tracks on the DVD). Then there are the surprises. I'd never heard of The Tiger Lilies, but they are great. Their video captures the whole spirit of this release. There is stand-up cabaret with the "twins" Evelyn Evelyn, there is more sisterly music with Kokusyoku Sumire (nicely dressed) from Japan, De Kift (from Holland) surprise with a great, almost tango-like, Beguine (OK, more like a beguine then) and Knoeck on the audio CD and I love the Real Tuesday Weld. Joël Hubaut makes a surprise appearance looking very cabaretish (and slightly worrying). Besides all this fun, there is the odd disappointment. Budam sounds and looks like Tom Waits (he even uses a Waits-title "Clap Hands"), but isn't and you'd really have to like Aranos. Still, in all, Volvox have managed to produce a great theme-based compilation, well-presented and professionally presented. There are the odds and sods that don't make sense considering the theme of the package, which is a shame, but not that distracting. Volvox are compiling volume 2 as you read this and are inviting acts to contact them for inclusion. I wonder if there is enough true "cabaret" in this genre to fill up a second volume, but fingers crossed. If you like the weird and wonderful and Berlin 1930's is your schtick - look no further. (FK)
Address: http://www.volvoxmusic.com

ZKM: TRANS_CANADA (DVD by Empreintes Digitales)
Reviewing compilations is just something I don't like very much. Not in the limited space each release gets within Vital Weekly. Perhaps one could write lengthy essays about various compilations, and this would perhaps be one. ZKM stands for Zentrum fur Kunst & Technology in Karlsruhe, a prestigious art and music centre. They invited a bunch of Canadian composers 'to feature the outstanding creativity of Canadian electroacoustic music and to investigate the trends of its acoustmatics and soundscape composition. We come across here some old masters like Francis Dhomont (who has a very nice piece based on spoken text of Franz Kafka), Robert Normandeau and Hildegard Westerkamp, along with pieces by Nicolas Bernier (the young man in this lot I believe), Darren Copeland, Louis Dufort, Gilles Gobeil and Barry Truax. The shortest piece(s) are around fifteen minutes, the longest almost thirty-five. Various deal with voices in German or in general. All presented on a DVD. So far the basics. The music is probably just about anything you would expect from an Empreintes Digitales release. heavily computer processed electro-acoustics sounds. Time stretching, granular synthesis and such like. Sounds tumbling over each other, rolling in and out, nearby and far away. The best pieces are those which add something extra, like spoken word. The spoken words of Burroughs in Bernier's piece, the Dufort piece or the aforementioned Dhomont piece. The Copeland piece is a a bit too long for me. Its a long compilation, which has some great music, but also no real stand out pieces, I think. Surely nice enough. (FdW)
Address: http://www.empreintesdigitales.com

Von Bingen started as a duo of husband and wife Jenni Pace and Daniel Presnell (Astral Blessing), after suspending their earlier Hildegard-project. >From the west coast they moved to Vancouver, where they met Josh Stevenson (Magneticring) and Richard Smith. As a quartet they created an LP full of archaic sounding soundscapes, bringing to mind related music from the 70s (Kluster, Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream, etc.). Especially I had to think of both Kluster albums. For example at the beginning of "Graham House". Not so strange as they prefer to use old electronic instruments from Buchla, Arp and other companies. Electric guitar, flute and clarinet complete the instrumentation of this ensemble. In the parts where the flute plays a dominant role, early Tangerine Dream is not far away. Yes, they do a good job in reviving the primitivism and rawness of the very first electronic music as it was produced in Germany. Extended, rhythm-based soundscapes, etc. mixed with very basic rock elements. At some moments it is as if I was listening to an album from the early 70s that I somehow missed. When this music was created, it was a statement of young musicians in postwar Germany who wanted to start from zero. For many of these musicians electronics was the ideal tool to create their new music. The context for Von Bingen is of course a totally different one. They feel affected to the musical language and forms that were developed then. But I hope next time Von Bingen will start to tell their own story using this language. With this album they do not add much to it. It is a sympathetic nostalgic exercise. (DM)
Address http://www.myspace.com

S/T - GORP (LP by Mas de Cade)
The last thing I expect to come from Germany is a group covering songs of Van Der Graaf Generator. And to be honest, I didn't expect an album of VDGG-covers at all. This music is so highly individual and idiosyncratic, that it is almost impossible to reinterpret these works. Just like in the case of Beefheart, Popol Vuh, etc. On the other hand, why not? Why exclude the possibility of successfully reworking highly idiosyncratic material. It all depends on the creative powers of artists. So let's look with open eyes to this album of interpretations of six VDGG compositions. "Darkness (11/11)" and "Refugees", taken from the 1970 album "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other". "Still Life" and "Gog" come from "Still Life" (1976). Van Der Graaf Generator is still around as I discovered "All that Before" and "Drop Dead" come from their 2008 album "Trisector". The job is done by S/T, a trio from Frankfurt, Germany, founded in 1993 by Martin Bauner and Joachim Gaertner, who present with "Gorp" their homage to this english progrock group. The musical careers of both men go back to the end of the 70s and that is about all I can trace about their earlier whereabouts. They are declared fans of Faust and Amon Duul 2, but also Pere Ubu, Cravats (remember?), and many other groups inspire them. Since 1997 they released several records. "Gorp" however is the first one meeting my ears. We hear Martin Brauner on guitar and vocals, Joachim Gaertner on organ and machines. Special guest Daniel Krieger is the drummer. The voice of Peter Hammill is of course not to be imitated. But they tackled this problem very clever. The voice is Bauner is manipulated, making it sound a bit distorted but penetrating, and it it not mixed on the forefront, so that making a comparison comes not to your mind. With guitars, keyboards and drums they create a full and massive sound of hybrid progrock. I do have several VDGG-albums, but not these three ones, so that I cannot make any comparison. But what I can say is that S/T deliver a very well executed album, with stripped down and a bit simplified arrangements and performance. The way they did it surely works. (DM)
Address: http://www.s.slash-t.com

First off don't try the address - its just a splash screen - so if you are interested in this you might find it hard to get. Frans in VW does make the case against the so called "cool" not sending any information types - and as blogs these days are free and mp3s can be attached - (and I do try to track down web presences) - I cant quite see the point of sending out for review what amounts to anonymous work? Anyway this appears to be a group of fairly noisy performers using white noise / distortion- though rhythmic at times, I'd imagine playing through the usual noise pedal chain, though it sounds in these post-vomir days more like Straus than Merzbow. I suspect it's a bit like curry, your first mouth scorcher is more like poached eggs when compared to a good vindaloo, which has nothing to do with nourishment but the endorphin rush it produces- ah those Friday nights - oh and Saturday mornings - well that's Karma - not korma. Anyway by track 3 the band have given up noise for looping a girl taking in Mexican - or should that be
Spanish? Admittedly they overlay that with road drills and feedback, it might be saying something deep. but it's a little at odds with the HN of the last 2 tracks. This is a limited edition CDr but potential customers might have a problem, which is a pity as someone into HN (not HNW) might want to check it out. (jliat)
Address: http://www.diskus-fonografika.com/

I guess the "project's title alludes to pataphysics - a parody of modern methodologies and so I guess must take some kind of stance against prevailing orthodoxies - if there were any - which there are of course not - other than to be orthodox is to be non-orthodox. Hence my taking to wearing a bow tie. That presents a problem for Shannon Smith (AKA) and credits her pedagogy in guitar with Roger Miller of Mission of Burma. This is a relatively new project, and its first release where it adopts a throw-away presentation. Admittedly a typed blurb, but minimal packaging - color xerox and commercially branded (SONY) Cdr, at times noisy, but not noise, mostly electronics with (not obvious) guitar, though it departs from the noise mantra by employing loops, discernable and at times quite beautiful sound manipulations, notably on track 3 which kind of reminds me of swastika girls, but maybe that's some Freudian thing going on in my id? And what
might be a gentle strumming on track 2. Again with delicate processing which
disintegrates into more noisy loops. I'm not certain if this is intended as a commercial (ha!) release or just to showcase/present the project. Overall I'd say a thought out, careful and well constructed set of sound objects. Which in their seeming care and quality of production runs against the throwaway packaging, good thing or not? I hope the project continues. (jliat)
Address: <smithshannon@gmail.com>

SMALL THINGS ON SUNDAYS - 4AM (CDR by Moving Furniture Records)
One Henrik Bagner and one Claus Poulsen are behind Small Things On Sundays. They hail from Copenhagen, Denmark and create their music using guitar and vinyl. As a band they exist since 2005, "starting with free improvisations with electronic treatments of vinyl records in any tempo", with a background for both of them in rock bands. Their '4AM' release was recorded during various sessions using very slow speed on the turntable and a guitar played with a bow. Actually I must admit I didn't realize this until I looked the information up on the label's website. For all I knew until then it might have also been processed field recordings. I am not sure if the recordings were later on edited in one form or another, I assume so. The music is best described as very dark, very ambient and much drones. Its quite a fine release I thought. Nothing spectacular in the the world of drone music, which is hardly surprise, but its played with some great imagination. Maybe seven pieces/sixty two minutes is a bit long I thought - in that respect the album lacked a bit of variation. Say four tracks/forty minutes would have made the same statement and most likely a better release. Still, this is a nice release for anyone who loves labels like Moving Furniture or Mystery Sea. (FdW)
Address: http://www.movingfurniturerecords.com

Wolfsburg is, perhaps, best known as the German city where Volkswagen holds court. Iversen takes recordings from that city to compose a strange little piece with the same title. Street sounds, voices from the railway station, mingling together in a nice, short musique concrete sort of piece. The b-side is 'Harmegas', which we recently (see Vital Weekly 714) heard as a movie soundtrack, but which stands great by itself. A slow piano piece, moving slow and majestically with a great acoustic ending. Indeed one of his best pieces and rightly so released on record.
More from Maurizio Bianchi then, and it adds to the confusion, I must admit. Last week I reviewed a new album from his on Tourette Records, this week something new/old is presented under the banner of Sacher-Pelz, which was in fact the name Bianchi used before releasing works as M.B. or Maurizio Bianchi. I double checked with Tib Prod, and they don't know either if this is new work or perhaps reworking of old material, or in fact, genuine old material. Maybe you don't care - maybe we shouldn't. After all that sort of information is perhaps only of interest for the die hard fans who collect just old Bianchi records as an investment, and not from a point of view of musical quality. I vaguely remember the old Sacher-Pelz material, and strongly the old Bianchi material, and I couldn't honestly say wether this is old or new. It sounds like great Sacher-Pelz material. Four very minimal tracks of very densely knitted electronic sounds. Or dense radio waves. Or dense layers of electrical charges. I don't know either. It seems to me that this material isn't from the old days, but it takes the esthetic of the old days into the modern world of computers. Disturbing beauty. Science fiction music for those films in which the world dies and aliens take over. Excellent music.
Perhaps along similar lines is the release by Jan-M. Iversen and the for me unknown Abhorent Beauty, who seems to be also from Norway. I'm not sure if the title is to be taken in a literal way, i.e. wether these are outdoor activities captured and processed by electronic means, but somehow I wouldn't be surprised to know if it is. Its music without a real start, nor a real ending, but somehow just one long string of sounds. Abstract sounds that is, we aren't to know what is going on here. Which is fine of course. It turns the music into quite an abstract form of ambient drone music - more experimental than it usually is. The second part of the title track dies out over a long time, which perhaps is nice, but its also a bit too long. It could have been ten minutes shorter, but with a similar ending. That aside the four pieces here are actually highly enjoyable and make a great background music or environmental piece - inside or outside. (FdW)
Address: http://www.tibprod.com

People do tend to e-mail me about Jliat and his way of reviewing, which is, to say the least, different than the dry nature of myself, Dolf Mulder or Niels Mark. He connects music to philosphical issues in his reviews, and something seems to ignore the music - or at least that's what people think. He also creates music himself for many years. In the more recent years it was lots of noise, but also, occasionally other works, and 'Dasein' is 'different' again. It might be seen as field recordings. We hear water and birds, the world as 'is' - 'dasein' being the German word for 'being there'. But when the music is over, I read his note (as suggested by him not to read it prior to listening) and see its fake. Its not nature as is, but constructed from samples and loops. Quite an enjoyable recording of bird sounds and rain sounds.
The other new release seems to a continuation of this. 'In The Rain' and 'In The Sun' uses more bird sounds, and a highly obscured background noise - the rain perhaps. Now that I know from 'Dasein' that these might be just loops and samples, I listen differently. I wonder why would I need another hour to listen to this, while gazing outside even more. Still grey and still cold outside. One could wish for spring time when hearing this (fake or not). Maybe its a like winter wanting sun light therapy? At least you have the illusion of spring time. This man never ceases to amaze with his wonderful 'music (?)'. (FdW)
Address: http://www.jliat.com

PLATFORM - PSEUDOCHROMIS (3"CDR by Smallfish Records)
So far releases by Matt Atkins Platform project has been on his own Minimal Resource Manipulation label, but this one is by Smallfish Records, who also released Celer, Ryonkt, The Green Kingdom etc). Platform plays electronic music of the rhythmic kind. Music that some could call 'dance' music - but its also music, I guess (not being a DJ) that is a bit too odd for the common dancefloor. Atkins uses modern day sounds, i.e. more click based rhythms along with some warm analogue sounds. Autechre is no doubt a source of inspiration (well, and probably others, but I forgot those names I guess). 'Through Glass', the third track here is a bit different. Its a more textured piece of music, using field recordings, a bit of drones and an almost sense of rhythm. Maybe this track should have been the centre piece, with two rhythm pieces as a bookend. I am not blown away by the rhythm pieces, but together with 'Through Glass', it is a great showcase of the many sides of his work. (FdW)
Address: http://www.smallfish.co.uk

What Drone Records does with 7"s, does Taalem with 3"CDR releases. Quite a success and getting more and more great names added to the series. People that we know otherwise from the real CD releases, which aren't afraid to put something out on a 3"CDR. Celer for instance gained quite a reputation in a short time span. What I didn't know about Celer is that Danielle Baquet-Long, one half of Celer, passed away in July 2009 of heart failure. Since then no new works are created, and all works that are released now, are from the duo of Will Long and Danielle Baquet-Long, recorded before that. 'All At Once Is What Eternity Is' is a very fine piece, a signature Celer piece. Meandering drones, with some acoustic sounds in the early parts of the piece. Maybe the sound of crop fields in the wind, along with some bells and chimes. An excellent piece of music.
Voice Of Eye is also a duo, but then from Houston and after a hiatus of several years, they seem to be fully back on track. This one is from last year and shows Voice Of Eye in a somewhat improvised mood, I think. All the machines they have at their disposal are set to play something, guitars are plugged in, microphones are open and here we go. A bit more experimental than y'r average drone release I'd say, but in its rawness I'd say this is a great piece. The edges are rough, like that howl of feedback towards the end of 'Primaera'. Great psychedelic mood music.
The final new release is by Christopher McFall and Asher, both highly active with numerous releases in various formats (mp3, CDR, CD). They both have sound input, Asher gives his piano music and McFall field recordings from Kansas City. In the first stage the sounds were treated on tape and then later on the computer. Its probably exactly the kind of piece you would expect from them. Hissy, low in volume, but also highly beautiful. I don't think it adds that much to what you may already know from either of them, but as so often with things like this, that hardly matters. People like McFall and Asher have carved out a very specific sound of their own and work within that very well. A highly atmospheric piece of music. (FdW)
Address: http://www.taalem.com

AXXONN - BELOW THE DEAD ONES (cassette by Bedroom Suck Records)
While traveling the world, Axxonn from Australia went into the analogue studios of Worm (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) to record sound material, and when in San Francisco he visited the 7Hz studios to shape and mix the material. This cassette is said to be taster of a forthcoming LP, but I hope the sound quality is better then, as it all seems a lo-fi affair (which might actually come from the duplication process, I gather). The music is also rather 'low', on sound information that is. Mainly a low humming affair of electronics - analogue? - with some loops to go on top of it, which seem rather crudely cut, but no doubt that's part of the esthetic of it. Maybe its material that is in need of further shaping - that's also something I was thinking. I'd like to say, so far so good, and perhaps its not that bad, but it all sounds pretty remote in a severe lack of fidelities. Let's wait for that LP. (FdW)
Address: http://www.myspace.com/bedroomsuckrecords

You could easily say that Machinefabriek releases a lot of music these days, and if you were a vicious person, you could say a lot sounds similar. That wasn't always like that. I think Vital Weekly reviewed his work from the very early days and we still remember how different each new release was. Those early years are now compiled on 'De Jonge Jaren', a collection of music from 2001 to 2004. If you like Machinefabriek's eerie soft guitar pieces that are alike Fennesz or Oren Ambarchi, his constructions of field recordings and electronics, and you'd think he's always done that, then this might come as a shock. Here are a lot of rhythms, electronics (as in keyboards), guitars and joyful melodies, in short pieces. Some are from his earliest musical incarnation Flex, and then as Machinefabriek. His love for experiment came early enough, see 'Tone', but are more sparse here. A fine interest in post-rock is to be spotted in most of these tracks, and certainly also rudimentary techno/rock bits. An excellent and quite funny release, I'd say that will surely shock the crowd, but its an essential part of history, I'd say. (FdW)
Address: http://www.machinefabriek.nu



MP3 releases

From: Antonin De Bemels <antonindb@yahoo.fr>



antonin de bemels aka petite porte de bronze