number 914
week 2


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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MARC & OLIVER NAMBLARD - CEVENNES (2CD by Editions Kalerne) *
MONNO - CHEVAL OUVERT (CD by Idiosyncratics) *
JASON GRIER - UNBEKANNTE (CD by Human Ear Music) *
DAO DE NOIZE - VOICE (CDR by Etch Wear) *

Not many people seem to advocate CDs and, come to think of this, it never was better. One of the main complaints - and let's not go into that whole analogue sounds better than digital thing - ever since the start of manufacturing CDs was that the booklet was so small. "With LPs you really had something in your hand" - maybe listening to LPs is for shaky grand daddy's hands. I always loved CDs and this particular proofs another point. While it's all factory made, this slip case contains two CDs and an excellent booklet of necessary information and some great photography. It's slightly bigger than a regular CD box, but in every inch a finely designed product. The other thing I like about CDs: they don't crackle like vinyl does ("yeah, but CDs aren't in 25 years, and vinyl will" - I won't be around either to listen to either of them), which in this case is another pro. Here we have two brothers, both of them interested in recording wildlife sounds, Marc with a background in fine arts and Olivier just interested in tape recorders and microphones from a very young age. The recordings here were made at the same place as the title - duh - and it's a range of mountains in south central France, part of the Massif Central. I don't think I ever visited the area, but looking at these pictures, I know I should. I was playing this on repeat all on new year's eve. Outside, here in The Netherlands, you can hear fireworks all day and that's terrible. I could replace that with 'real' music, but I don't. I rather have these recordings from nature playing here, imagining a live in the sun, of holiday, of laziness. Not of cold, winter, and fireworks. All of which I don't really like, but suffer a bit from. The bird calls, insects, water sounds, all expertly captured with some excellent microphones. These pieces are pure and clean, culled right from nature, carefully selected. Some of this stuff sounds like pure electronic music, but it isn't, of course. It's cicadas, water or birds - even wind maybe performing a nice mighty drone, such as in 'Bisa'. I need to stop working, take a break, take a holiday, go see the 'Cevennes' perhaps and witness all of this in real nature. When is summer time around again? (FdW)
Address: http://www.kalerne.net

It's the days of the year that I really don't like very much. Not a lot things going on that I like, such as getting a newspaper, or getting mail. So sometimes CDs are in rotation for a bit longer because there isn't much else to play or because I am engaged in such lazy, holiday, activities as reading a book. On a sunny sunday afternoon for instance. I could go out, no, I know it's better to walk for two hours in the outside cold, and refresh, but it's nicely warm inside, that book is migthy interesting and 'Beautyfear' is on rotation. Marsen Jules released on CCO, 12K and Kompakt before and can perhaps be seen as one of the better known names in the field of ambient music, well perhaps 'pop ambient' is a better word. Coined by Kompakt for a popular series of compilations, these are usually shortish songs, more or less pop length. At least in the case of Marsen Jules. The template for this musical style came from Kompakt's boss Wolfgang Voigt and his Gas project. In his four releases as such as he combined samples of classical instruments, mainly violins and cellos, and stretched these out of over the length of a piece, combined with crackles of vinyl, the slow 4/4 beat of a simple bass drum and spacious synths, or an extra sampled choir. Mood music, dark, but also with an element of techno hidden in it. Suppose you went to a techno party and decided to walk the way back, early morning, through a forest: this is the time of the day to listen to Gas. Or Pop Ambient's annual release. This is what Jules does on his CD too. Times twelve. Very spacious, very ambient, a bit of thumbing beat, a bit of sampled violins. This is the perfect music to chill out too. A bit dramatic, but never too dark; a bit spacious but not too long; all very cinematographic - Jules is going to work with Anders Weberg, a Swedish filmmaker. I didn't hear anything here that struck me as 'new', 'innovative' or anything some such, but in it's heavy rotation for a few hours, it provided a suitable, pleasant sound environment. (FdW)
Address: http://www.oktaf.com

The Percaso-label functions as an outlet for works by Swiss composer Christoph Gallio since 1986. With the interdisciplinary work ‘Road Works’ he presents his latest collaboration with video artist Beat Streuli. The cd counts 72 pieces most of them shorter than one minute. Musical fragments may be a better term. Gallio is known with this format is one remembers his releases with his project Msibl that also concentrated on ultra-short pieces. Here on ‘Road Works’ they are performed by Andrea Neumann (piano, mixer), Julian Sartorius (drums), Dominique Girod (double bass), Ernst Thoma (synthesizer) and Gallio himself on soprano and alto saxes. Short jazzy tunes, experimental sound works, abstract compositions, linear rhythm-based fragments, all very different miniatures that have their short length in common. Notwithstanding,in many pieces there is development, a start and a finish. Gallio and Streuli worked together for the first time at the end of the 80s, and ‘Road Works’ is their fourth duo-project. Streuli is a photographer, video and installation artist. His work is shown in galleries, etc. all over the world. No wonder their collaboration is about the interplay between the visual and the audible, between composition and improvisation. In ‘Road Works’, “layers and sequences of elements of free improvisation and strict composition activate the musical consciousness and memory and set free new imaginations with their vitality”, they explain. Like the music, the visual material consists of fragments, short takes filmed on the streets. Cars, passengers, most of the time in close up and slowed down, with sounds from the streets removed. Musical and visuals do not move along in a strict parallel way. Both follow their own way and offer an open space for experiencing this multi-media work. (DM)
Address: http://www.percaso.ch

Baars and Kneer started as a duo and released ‘Windfall’ for Evil Rabbit. After a concert in 2010 with Bill Elgart as a guest, they decided to continue as a trio. Veteran Billy Elgart played with Paul Bley, Lee Konitz and Sam Rivers. Baars is a leading improvisator in Holland already for many years. German double bass player Kneer is the youngest of them (1970).  He did his musical studies in Holland, and has an interest for Russian literature that also influenced his musical work. For example, he was awarded in 2002 with a project around the work of Russian absurdist and writer Daniil Charms. Currently he takes part in a project that is inspired on the work of Russian futurist writer Velimir Chlebnikov. After several concerts in Holland, Germany and Austria the three recorded this cd on one day in October 2011. The cd contains 13 improvisations that came about through group improvisation. The three experienced players show their talents in varying improvised exercises, creating different dynamics and atmospheres. All pieces are very intimate and together. I enjoyed the fine interplay. Again an example that improvised music has an unique and unequalled intensity when it really ‘happens’. (DM)
Address: http://www.evilrabbitrecords.eu

A new CD on the small Canadian Etrecords label of Michel F.Ct.  An album of songs based on the poems by Canadian poet P.K.Page , who died in 2010. Susanna Hood started her career as a dancer, and developed into an improviser both in dance and music. Thomson is a trombonist and composer working mainly in Montral and Toronto . He studied with Roswell Rudd, Jean Derome, Eddie Prevost, a.o. He leads the quintet The Rent, interpreting works by Steve Lacy. In 2010 they released their debut for Ambiances Magnetiques. Between 2010 and 2012 Thomson composed a suite of 12 songs, inspired on poems by  P.K.Page. He composed a version for his quintet The rent, and one for Hood and himself  as a duo of just voice and trombone. Thomson is working on a stage version of the suite for dancers and performers as well, because  a lot of the poetry of Page is `danceable` Thomson states in an interview.  Back to ‘The Muted Note’ that contains 11 songs, sung by Hood with a jazzy feel, interrupted with fine solo sections by Thomson resulting in an intimate and charming evocation of Pages’s poetry. (DM)
Address: http://www.etrecords.net

MONNO - CHEVAL OUVERT (CD by Idiosyncratics)
Antoine Chessex is a saxophone player, improvising musician and minimalist. The first time however I saw him in concert was with his band Monno. It was surely a long, long time ago. In Monno we also find Marc Fantini (drums), Derek Shirley (bass) and Gilles Aubry (electronics, vocals). In December 2012 they went into the studio with Roli Mossiman, former Swans drummer, but also known to be a producer of Young Gods, The The, Celtic Frost, Skinny Puppy and New Order (and many more) to lay down four untitled pieces, totaling forty-eight minutes. Monno is a loud, and wild rock beast. Heavy metal avant-garde? Is there is a word like that any way? It's loud, full of energy, but also quite minimal. Bass and drums are easily be recognized, but the saxophone and electronics provide an element of alienation in these pieces. In the first two we hear a steady line, the wall of sound approach, but it's in the third piece (and if they do announcements on stage, it's probably called 'a slow number') the electronics are finally to be heard and the howl of saxophone feedback also. The electronics ruins this slow number with its' uncontrolled outbursts, but that's the whole idea behind this piece. The fourth piece is perhaps the most varied piece of the lot. It's the longest, with fifteen minutes, and starts firmly with the electronics, but slowly builds and builds into their 'usual' wall of noise rock. An excellent, breathtaking CD, which leaves the listener tired but fully satisfied behind, I'd say. (FdW)
Address: http://idiosyncraticslabel.blogspot.com

Not entirely new, this beautifully packed release by Marc Behrens, but he assured me that the release date on Discogs is surely wrong and it was later released than that, mainly due to the package: an A5 sized black cloth thing with silver ink, and silver pages with text. The music has sound contributions by Julia Mantel 9voice) and Yasunao Tone (electronics). The texts are more or less impressions on situations, and about the sounds in such situations. I believe it's all more to do with setting a surrounding for the music, which may or may not be a soundtrack to the texts. Vague? Yes, perhaps it is. The music is very much like what you would expect from Behrens, but occasionally louder than we are used from him. Especially in the middle part it's quite loud - maybe Tone's sound contributions? It might all be generated from voice material, I was thinking. All of course heavily processed, using whatever sort of sound processing. Who cares, who wants to know? Behrens collates various bits and pieces together and cooks up a great piece of modern musique concrete. It has some abrupt changes, trademark Behrens, sustained processed field recordings, also trademark Behrens, and then this blast of noise in the middle - new element I'd say. A compelling work, the full nineteen minutes of it. (FdW)
Address: http://marcbehrens.com/

Or: how a first glance proofed me wrong. I quickly looked at the cover, saw someone for vocals, and Lucretia Dalt, whose CD I was lukewarm about in vocals and spoken word, plus acoustic guitar, violins,drums and clarinets; When I put this into Itunes it gave 'rock' as it's musical category and then I thought 'what the hell are these people sending me this'. I started the CD, and heard the words 'Baby I Don't Know Right Now', a cappella, and thought 'oh god'. But a final check on the press info, seeing 'allusions to Michael Pisaro, James Tenney, Alvin Lucier, Pan Sonic, Giancinto Scelsi, Phill Niblock are deployed in a sprawling post-studio framework', changed my mind completely. This was indeed something to check out; maybe Itunes was all wrong - like it happens so often. The press blurb isn't particular forthcoming when it comes to handing out information about this Jason Grier, but as far as I can see/judge these things, I'd say this is all about the deconstruction of rock music and the 'studio as instrument' approach. Not something we haven't seen before (Tortoise, This Heat, Brice Glace to mention a few), but Grier does some radical music. It is, perhaps, somewhere in the realm of rock music, but it sounds sufficiently different not be called rock music. Strange techniques are applied here to record specific instruments, deep bass rumble for some time as an instrument, and the overall stripped down mix of songs. Occasionally it seems if a piece is carried by just one instrument, solo or layered, and we are reminded of say The Magic I.D., with a bit of improvisational tools thrown in, such as in 'Helen Of Troy II' and sometimes very strictly composed - or so it seems. It's indeed the rock song deconstruction, taking aback to an even more minimal sound, and yes, I can see a reference to Pan Sonic in 'Silent Betonung' or Lucier in the title piece. Words are no longer required by then it seems, and just a single sound source is what we get. An excellent release I think, the first nice surprise perhaps of 2014. Wether this has the same classical stature as say the first This Heat is hard to say, but it will be in rotation for some time to come. (FdW)
Address: http://direkt.humanearmusic.de/

Alf Terje Hana is a productive composer and guitarist from Norway presenting this time a very large scale production. This ambitious live event that took place on march,  8th 2013 at Zetlitz, Stavanger Konserthus, Norway. It was performed by Hana’s trio of Torgeir Nes (electronics, live sampling), yvind Grong (bass, electronics, voice) and Alf Terje Hana (guitar, electronics), accompanied by ex-Police drummer Stewart Copeland plus the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. All compositions are by Hana. Compliments first for realizing such an enormous project, that is offered on cd and blu-ray. I have only been able to listen the cd. We hear a successful meeting of acoustic and electric instruments on this well produced album. There is a good balance between acoustic and electric instruments, and the arrangements are okay. A very broad sound spectrum is the result. So everything is done in a very professional way, but as a composition this release is not very surprising or offering new sights. The music moves between light orchestral music and rock. The album will surely appeal to listeners of traditional rock with orchestral as well as ambient touches. A solid work but breaking new barriers is clearly not Hana’s thing. (DM)
Address: http://www.athana.no

Just like the release by the Namblard brothers, reviewed elsewhere, the LP by The Seattle Phonographers Union looks great: gatefold sleeve. And perhaps exactly why I say I like music on CD. Upon the first playing, one hear crackles on the vinyl, certainly with the more delicate nature of this kind of music.  The Seattle Phonographers Union are a group of field recording activists, who gather around a table and do improvisations with their field recordings. A floating membership, I'd say, but I think it helps being from Seattle, or passing through. Here we find on Side A, Perri Howard, Steve Peters, Toby Paddock, Doug Haire, Jonathan Way, Dale Lloyd, Christopher DeLaurentini and Steve Barsotti, while on side B 'just' Lloyd, DeLaurentini, Barsotti and Pete Comley. Both sides were recorded in cavernous spaces, Building 27 (a decommissioned aircraft hangar at the former Sand Point Naval Air Station) and WNP-5 (part of an unfinished nuclear power station). Especially the latter sounds like a massive, empty space. The group has a few do's and don'ts. No loops, edits or process, but EQ-ing is allowed. What the audience hears is what they hear - no monitors. Everybody brings recordings to the table and they are played and mixed together, just as an improvisation ensemble would do. 'WNP 5' is a particular dark beast. Most of the times hovering close to the ground, with a low end bass rumble, and occasionally some cicadas, all of which resonating in this big space. In 'Building 27' we start with some wind sounds close to the microphone, adding a chilly effect to a cold December morning here, but then slowly goes down into a no-mans-land, more bass rumble and more cicadas, but ends on a higher note than 'WPN 5'. There is less natural reverb in this piece than on the other, which makes up a fine contrast between both pieces. I think I liked the 'Building 27' over the 'WPN 5' piece, moving through a bunch of textures, rather than staying in one place, which is what 'WPN 5' seemed to do more. Fine record!
The other one is an altogether different affair, but perhaps also much the same. Here we have two bass clarinet players of which Greg Sinibaldi also plays tenor saxophone and Jesse Canterbury plays clarinet. Different then the The Seattle Phonographers Union, but these two men recorded their music in Dan Harpole Cistern in Port Townsend, Washington, so some of the natural reverb - a lot actually - made it to this record too. They don't play improvised music (as such?), as each of the composition is credited to either of the players and one to Thelonius Monk. In a way we may see this as a record of modern composition, of really serious jazz music but with all that spacious stuff going on in the recording, also something of a highly atmospheric nature, something not entirely related to the musical performance itself, but the addition of the place itself. Recording the same pieces in a very dry studio would probably give an altogether different result, I would think. So, me, not always the biggest fan of modern classical or modern jazz (or a combination of both), but here, sustaining for seconds in this space adds a beautiful texture to the music. Maybe even something religious? Maybe I am taking things too far. But in some of the more introspective pieces here, there is certain a solemn feeling in the feeling. One that says 'don't move, don't breath, sit down and listen'. An excellent record, that is perfect for the time of the season. Moody, atmospheric, maybe even a bit grey, or maybe a fine album to contemplate over during the christmas holidays. (FdW)
Address: http://www.prefecturemusic.org

In the last few years I have been to Russia a few times, and every time I am there the conversation is directed towards the work of Muslimgauze. Obviously due to the fact of any previous liaison to Staalplaat from this end, one assumes (wrongly) that I met him and liked his music. On both instances: I didn't and I don't. I can see why people like Muslimgauze, as he surely had an unique voice in music, combining samples from ethnic music with harsh rhythms of his own; middle eastern chants combined with his own tabla banging. A lot of his work always seemed a bit unfinished, like ideas thrown to tape and shipped off to said record company. It became, I guess, part of his esthetic to do so. There is still great admiration for Muslimgauze's music, even fifteen years after his sudden death. So I can understand why Ukrainian artist Doa De Noize wants to do a tribute, but how to go about with such a thing? That is a bit harder I guess. Dao De Noize takes all the ingredients of Muslimgauze, the tabla's, the raga like drones, the chanting and mixes that with a bit of noise from himself into three long pieces. These pieces sometimes seem to contain more pieces within, just like some of Muslimgauze's work did, and one wonders: why not cut them up into smaller pieces? Maybe in the Muslimgauze days harder to do with DAT machines, but nowadays, with computers and such? I may not be Muslimgauze's biggest fan, but some of his releases I liked, and I may have heard them all; so I can fairly say that Dao De Noize's tribute is a brave attempt in sounding like his idol, but he lacks some of the refinement that Muslimgauze also seemed to have, despite the quick work around methods. Dao De Noize is more of the brutal force kind without such refined. But you never know: suppose Dao De Noize fancies himself the new Muslimgauze and produces a similar endless stream, then of course that might change. No doubt the Eastern die-hards, who even organize nights of solely Muslimgauze, would be open to such a follow-up, I can imagine. Me? I'd be rather be ambivalent about this. (FdW)
Address: http://satoricat.blogspot.com

A release by Spectropol, a small net label specialized in music that defies categorization. ‘Bass Violin’ is a work by Cornelius Dufallo (violin) and Patrick Derivaz (bass violin). Composer Dufallo - former violinist of the Ethel string quartet - joined by producer and composer Derivaz. It was Derivaz’s idea “to experiment with pairing two instruments of extremely different registers using digital effects and loops.” Dufallo explains, “our creative meeting ground turned out to be a meditative, quasi-hypnotic aesthetic in which variation is slowed to a nearly imperceptible rate. Within this sound world, the combination of registral extremes and a rich palette of digital tone colors created music that we hope is deeply engaging on both an emotional and psychological level.” They used composed material as a starting point for free improvisation. Afterwards they assembled the material into its final musical form. They started recordings in january 2011 and finished their job in 2012. It is quite safe to call this ambient music, albeit of a very strange kind. Very accessible and enjoyable on the one hand, but it is also difficult to identify what really is happening here. By result this music is plunged in  some mysterious cloud. Fascinating! (DM)
Address: http://spectropolrecords.bandcamp.com/

Its been a long, long time ago when I first met Mario van Horrik. He was part of a duo called Flexatones and due to play at the local student bar thing who had lots of money to burn and in the late afternoon came to the local, illegal radio station to be interviewed by me and demonstrate the flexatone, much to my surprise. Later on I found out Van Horrik and partner Petra Dubach were part of the Het Apollohuis scene in Eindhoven and creators of sound installations. Over the years however there haven't been a lot of releases of their music, and that's a pity. Taken out of the context of an audio visual installation, the music stands surely by itself. On 'Waves' they document a project they have been working on since 2010 and deal with sound waves that develop, without any human interaction - although the presence of human beings may cause changes, or humans moving objects so that sound waves change. But essentially there is no physical relation between humans and the installations, 'no buttons to push'. I recommend to watch their videos of several of these installations and preparations here: http://vimeo.com/album/817349. In the music we hear these resonances quite well. These are of course pieces with very little development but I like that. The rattling of objects, the standing waves, and the minimal phasing of sounds. The longer the better I thought, but these eight pieces show an interesting variation of themes which is also very nice. Maybe it's a bit like Alvin Lucier playing a variety of one piece for a shorter amount of time. Excellent music. The only thing in for some serious improvement is the cover: the slimline box and simple printed insert won't really do in 2014, I think. (FdW)
Adress: <vofduho@hotmail.com>

A new artist for me hails from Canada and calls herself prOphecy sun. She is also a 'theremin player, an improvisational looping maestro and an experimental throat singer'. Attenuation Circuit calls this on par with Bjrk and Joan La Barbara. Here she performs five solo pieces, followed by three by Emerge, label boss for this label, and then eight relatively short collaborative pieces by the two of them. It seems, but I might be wrong that Emerge also uses voice material in his solo pieces, making this perhaps the most voice based released on this label. Voice, but not necessarily song based, even when some of the pieces are very short. All of it remains pretty much in the world of abstract music. I am not sure about this. I quite enjoyed it, even when I am not always the biggest fan of loop devices in relationship with vocals of a more abstract nature. It easily leads to 'heavenly choir sounds' and sometimes this happens with prOphecy sun too. Emerge, in his solo pieces, goes out into an even more abstract land and stretches out voice material in slow, cascading drone material. It's of course stuff that works together quite well. The looped voice material of prOphecy sun and the more abstract electronic processing of Emerge, which are made into not very long pieces, each with it's own specific character and some fine variation among these pieces. Very elegant collaboration. (FdW)
Address: http://www.attenuationcircuit.de

From Brussels hails one Plochingen, who just released an odd tape. There is not much further information available, and also judging from the music itself, it's not easy to determine what we hear. According to the info sent by the label it's truncated field recordings and primitive electronics' - the latter is something I can hear but the field recordings are not always easy to spot around here. in 'Baal 1' we hear some, but most of the times it's these somewhat crude electronics. Crude but it's not really the kind of noise you would think it would be. I thought it was actually quite refined in all its crudeness and unrefinedness. There was something quite captivating in these four pieces, which made me listen and listen. Maybe because this was on repeat for a while today, me doing other business for a while, and in the background these pleasant gritty tones. Maybe disturbing, as the label suggests, but I didn't think this to be very disturbing at all. That, however, doesn't qualify this as ambient per se, but these minimal, sustaining tones, these glissandi from cheap synthesizers and buzzy electronics did work pretty well. With or without field recordings I guess. Quite a fine release. (FdW)
Address: http://tanukirecords.bandcamp.com