number 992
week 30


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:

Listen to the podcast on Mixcloud!

before submitting material please read this carefully:

Submitting material means you read this and approve of this.

help Vital Weekly to survive:

No Vital Weekly in Week 31!

SION ORGON - RECOGNITION JOURNAL (CD by Lumberton Trading Company) *
07/100/15 (2CD by Zoharum)
ROB VAN/HEAVY MENTAL (LP by Vinyl On Demand)
PORTION CONTROL - PROGRESS REPORT 1982-86 (2LP by Vinyl On Demand)
TVAM - NO EXPLANATIONS (USB device by Static Caravan) *
ORPHAX - OVER HOE DE REGTE HEIDE (cassette by Barreuh Records) *
FLEXIBLE GRAIN - LOTUS (cassette by Midnight Circles) *
EFFED - ON GOING (cassette by Midnight Circles) *
TBC/CFW - DOPPELBELICHTUNG (cassette by Midnight Circles) *
HEY EXIT - ELSE (cassette, private)
HEY EXIT - SLOW NAMES 3: GLASSWING (cassette by of Plants)

Since 2009 Celer is the solo project of Will Long; before that it was a duo. I assume the sad story to be known. The music on his latest CD was inspired by the American Southwest, where Will Long travelled with his 80-year old uncle and something of a wide open feel of the landscape is what we get in these four lengthy pieces. Long recorded some music using an electric piano and a wooden flute, and copied them on a sun-baked cassette; the other two pieces here were taken from a faulty test pressing of a record that never happened and while it fluttered and stuck, it became new music. I am not sure which is what here, I must admit. It's hard to think of any of these four pieces as something of sun baked cassettes and/or faulty test pressings. Especially if one reads on the information that Long plays 'reel to reel, tape loops, graphic equalizer, mixer and slide projector' - and then going back to the music and hearing these wonderful gentle sounds. If one has no clue, one could easily think that we are dealing with some refined synth doodling, a bit of overtones from sound effects, and nothing from electric pianos and/or wooden flutes. In 'Acrimonious, Like Fiddles' we hear a faint trace of a crackle; otherwise this seems all very clean. I can imagine that Long cuts a few loops on his reel-to-reel machine, slow it down a bit and plays around with them feeding it through his graphic equalizer and slowly changes the colour of the sound, while the sound itself remains the same. I was reminded to some of the music on the ancient Dutch label Kubus Kassettes as well as De Muziekkamer, and especially their first release 'Kamer Muziek'. It has that same tranquillity, the same next to nothing changes, and just minor variations in sound colouring. It might not be something that you didn't hear from Celer before, but I think this is one of the most refined releases I heard by Celer. Excellent release. (FdW)

SION ORGON - RECOGNITION JOURNAL (CD by Lumberton Trading Company)
Despite previous releases I only heard a 7" by Sion Orgon before (see Vital Weekly 859), there are three previous CD releases, which I didn't hear. His claim to (relative) fame is because he worked with Thighpaulsandra, Coil and Gaz Williams of Underworld, among others. The introduction I had was a bit short and back then mostly 'atmospheric and moody', but it came with vocals. The six pieces on this new release sees Sion Orgon going all over the place with his music. It's hard to tell what it is he's doing here, but it goes from ambient to musique concrete to singing a song with a guitar strumming in the background, such as in 'Pools Of Tigers'. That song starts out electronic (as in 'serious electronic', following the 'The Black Spider Of The Garden', which has lots of electronic tape manipulation going on), but quickly turns into a great song with a lovely hook and an accordion, but before it's over it returns to something that is about improvised guitars and intense percussion. If one would skip between songs, one would easily miss out extended and totally different songs, and even songs within songs. Sion Orgon uses a lot of instruments, such as guitar, piano, analogue synthesizers, accordion and voice and crafted together quite a delightful album of dark music. For many of these instruments he receives help from the likes of the aforementioned buddies, but also Lara Ward, Valiant Thor, Etien Hunter Davies and Eddie Ladd. Maybe a bit Coil like indeed, from time to time (being not really the big Coil expert, I hastily admit). Going through many different musical genres I can imagine some would think this too much of a kaleidoscope of interests, coming to the listener, without making many choices. Maybe that is the true nature of the music: being as kaleidoscopic and psychedelic as possible. Overall the production is excellent here. Everything is very well recorded and Sion Orgon mixed everything with great ear for detail. Excellent release of psycho pop noir. (FdW)

It's been a while since I last heard from Locrian, but here they are back. Actually, to be honest, I would dismiss such a release for Vital Weekly, simply that it sounds too much like a doom metal band. The reason that I don't put it aside that easily lies in the fact that Locrian is a trio with two musicians in their middle whose work I enjoy very much: Andre Foisy (guitar) and Steven Hess (drums), the latter being part of such experimental and improvisational outfits as Haptic, Dropp Ensemble and Pan American. The third member of Locrian is Terence Hannum on vocals, moog, micro korg, wasp and such keyboards. Relapse calls Locrian their avant-metal band and probably rightfully so. Where people like me probably think of this as 'metal' music of one kind of variety or another (very much like dance music, few musical genres are so splintered), which I never keep up with, true metal heads probably scratch their head every now (read: when there's no pounding drums and screaming guitars) and Locrian pulls back and let sounds speak more for themselves, leaving out aggression and distortion, such as in 'Dark Shales', 'The Great Dying' or the three parts of 'KXL'. It makes this album much more varied than many of its peers - I assume! The experimental, droney and ambient side of the musicians is embedded here in walls of guitar noise. It makes a highly varied and most enjoyable release, especially if you are like me, not loving metal per se, but also keen to hear what Hess is up to now. Something quite good as it happens.
On the very same day as I think about Locrian, I also think about Client/Server from Japan. I have no idea who or what, but the inlay says 'recorded and mixed by Paul Medrano' and Ptolemaic Terrascope calls this 'sounding like Sabbath if they decided to write a shoegaze album' (which made me think this is probably already out for some time). Four lengthy pieces here, with the total length of thirty-one minutes and each of the four pieces is essentially the same: a wall of guitar riffs, lots of distortion and a slow to mid-tempo, pounding drum machine ticking time away. Sometimes more distortion is added as in 'Five Is Go Fun', more riffs, more noise, and yes, drone core might be a very appropriate term for this kind of music. In the department of mixing there is some room for improvement: the drum machine is a bit naff here, I think, which means it looses some of the supposed to be power in the music. I wish I would like this as much as I did Locrian, but this single minded approach just didn't do that much for me. Not bad, but perhaps not something I would easily play again anytime soon. (FdW)
07/100/15 (2CD by Zoharum)
Bjerga is mostly present in these pages when it comes to playing concerts, of which he duly notifies our readers. He is also very active when it comes to releasing music but these do not make it to these pages. Bjerga also likes to play and record music with others, such as J-M Iversen and Clous Poulsen, the latter under the banner of Star Turbine. Also with Robert Skrzynski, who calls himself Micromelancolie, he has a couple of releases, such as 'Momentum' (see Vital Weekly 890) and 'Anaglyph #1' (see Vital Weekly  906) as well other releases that we didn't hear. Here is a new work, which comes in two parts. Still I am not too sure if the two of them collaborated through mail or not. It sees here a culmination of both their interests. Skrzynski brings in the aspect of drone music, via long, sustaining sounds and field recordings, whereas Bjerga adds his 'small' sounds: rumbling of metal objects, a bit of Dictaphones, some electronic debris from toys. I was quite pleased by the two releases I heard from them so far, in which they melted both their interests together quite well, especially 'Momentum' I thought was quite powerful. I must admit I am less convinced by these two new pieces, which have a total length of fifty-two minutes. Maybe Skrzynski processed some sounds from Bjerga into these long form drones, but most of the times drones of Skrzynski and the rumble of Bjerga exist next to each other. That is of course not a bad thing in itself, but throughout these pieces it seems if Bjerga goes from interest to interest, adding some acoustic sound at one point, some electronics at another point, some field recordings on a third instance, all within the space of one piece. It sounds very much as bunch of sound stuck together, but without much consideration of whatever else is going on. It would have been, perhaps, a great idea if they had chosen this to be cut into smaller pieces, each with it's own identity, rather than in a free flow of several sounds stuck together. Both of these pieces sadly seem to lack any coherency.
A Frenchman with a Polish name who lives in Berlin: that's who Niedowierezanie is. So far he released three slabs of vinyl and two cassettes and now releases a CD. He uses cello, accordion and mandolin to create his music, but also electronic manipulation. I had not heard his music before. The music covers a vast territory of interests so it seems; in the opening 'Neige Noire' we hear the gentle sounds of the instruments and the likewise gentle electronic processing there of: a bit of stretching these sounds out. However already in the second piece, 'Credere', things aren't as gentle anymore. Here some kind of force enters the scene, things become louder, meaner but yet remain to have an acoustic feeling. Electronics play a bigger role in 'Irrizntzi' while in 'Vous Voulez Ma Peau' things get really loud: here too in an acoustic way but through the dense layering of electro-acoustic objects, drones from his instruments and electronics. Quite a tour de force in these six pieces. There is always a lot happening, sometimes leaning towards the electro-acoustic side of things, then a bit more ambient, and then, as easily the modern classical side. Niedowierezanie is never shy to use a lot of reverb in his music, which makes there not always room to breath in here. Overall the music of Niedowierezanie has quite a filmic character: one can easily see this used in a horror movie of some kind. Preferable one without scary monsters, but with just a doom 'n gloom atmosphere, a cafe in which the waiter slashes out and kills his customers. Every piece has that dramatic undercurrent. This is a release with heavy musical weight but also with some excellent refined beauty.
And while Zoharum also released new work by Expo 70, Maciek Szymczuk and Aquavoice, they rather have us write a rather obligatory 100th release compilation. I understand the importance of landmarks and birthdays - I have one of each coming up in fact - I am not particularly impressed by the rather safe choice for a double CD compilation. 'This compilation is a huge 'thank you' to all artists who collaborated with Zoharum and listeners of Zoharum-related music. Without all of you, it all wouldn't have happened', the label writes on the cover, and we find pieces by Zenial, 23 Threads, Tundra, Aquavoice, Dat Rayon, Aabzu Mammoth Ulthana, Monopium, Micromelancolie, Rafal Kolackim Ab Intra, Machinefabriek, Re-Drum, Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim, Strom Noir, Lagowskim Desiderii Marginis, Rapoon, Troum, 1000schone and Hybryds - an impressive list of lots of the Polish roster of the label, with also a healthy amount of German musicians. Why not a free-for-all flexi disc for all those fans, bands, artists, media, journalists who supported the label? A festival? A tour? A photobook? A website with free ringtones by these musicians? A poster? A DVD? A novel? An object? Anything else than a compilation with quite good pieces to quite average pieces of music? Just a few alternatives, besides the possibility of trying to avoid landmarks and holidays - perhaps my preferred favourite. The most remarkable piece of music came from Machinefabriek: an almost classical piece of music. I wish many happy returns for Zoharum, may they live on for a long time, may they release lots of great music and with regards to festive compilations: I already know you release great music, so send them to someone who is not aware. (FdW)

ROB VAN/HEAVY MENTAL (LP by Vinyl On Demand)
PORTION CONTROL - PROGRESS REPORT 1982-86 (2LP by Vinyl On Demand)
Finally I could solve a little mystery today. As a young man I read Dutch magazine Vinyl back to back, again and again, until a new one would appear. It was, at least for three years, my guide into wonderfully weird music. A big part of the fun came via the enclosed flexi-discs and the one that came with issue 8 provided a little mystery. One side was by Minny Pops, the other side was 'Love In My Heart' by Mental. The Minny Pops side came with an indication as to what RPM was to be used, but none for Mental, and the problem was that both on 33 and 45 rpm it sounded fine. When my friend Roel Meelkop married I got him a CDR (a triple in fact) with all twenty-six flexi discs; you know: when you marry you have to get rid of stuff, so it seemed appropriate to get this to him, as I knew he loved those flexi discs too. I think I put Mental on there in the 33 rpm version, which today turns out to be the right one, as right now I heard it again, because it's part of this LP anthology of works by Mental, a loose group of friends playing synthesizer music with Rob Van (Wijngaaden) as it's prime mover. One side has his solo works, the other side with various works from different incarnations by Mental. Rob bought a synth out of curiosity, 'to see how it works' and subsequently delivered a piece to a Plurex 7" compilation (also enclosed here, part of the Heavy Mental side) and then dived into the world of cassettes, more to release his solo work. Back then it wasn't easy to know which labels, which releases and such like (no internet existed yet obviously), and much went out in obscurity, perhaps very much like the short-lived career of Rob van Wijngaarden whose career didn't seem to span more than two years and disappeared in obscurity. In The Netherlands Finger In The Dyke on cassette released an anthology called ‘Hemburg’ quite early on (1984 I guess), but that was of the more experimental works. For me this LP is, apart from the two pieces I heard before, the first time I hear his more pop-oriented electronic songs. Even when Rob Van and Mental probably equal each other very much there are some significant differences. As Rob Van he plays synth, has a drum machine and sings. Probably the word minimal wave was invented for this music. It reminds the listener of Suicide, Snowy Red and Minny Pops; quite surprisingly he cover 'Daddy Is A Pusher' from Minny Pops predecessor Tits (although 'my' pusher in their original). Other covers include Devo's 'Mongoloid' and Ptose's 'Boule', the latter hardly recognizable. As Mental might be, even occasionally a collaborative effort, it makes the sound fuller with the addition of some free form guitar and distortion, but also with more than one synth playing, a sequencer and with a fine dark robotic undercurrent, but at times is just pleasant electronic pop music, such as in 'Untitled 1', by Rob Van and Ruud Kluivers (erstwhile of Stichting Stopcontact, and another long time disappeared musician). This is a most entertaining and highly important document of long forgotten Dutch electronic music and I for one am glad to hear this - finally. I got out Vinyl 8 and sweltered in nostalgia.
Cassettes, and later vinyl, by Portion Control were much easier to get and ever since 'Dining On The Fresh', a very brief cassette of a few songs, I was hooked and bought almost everything they released, I guess up 'The Great Divide', their 12" with arguably their most commercial sound to that date. By then their sound had changed a lot, and while I loved that song, I was too deep into the world of cassettes that I didn't keep up with the vinyl releases. I think their 'Psycho Bod' LP didn't help either. When the band released 'Archive', a 5CD set I was a bit disappointed as it ignored much of their earlier work (as well as the fact that one CD was a data disc with MP3s of the four CDs; why exactly?) but then Vinyl On Demand released 'Progress Report 1980-1983' a few years later, they made up for the missing years in a big way: 7 LPs and a 7" (see also Vital Weekly 743). Every year I spin the entire thing on a lazy Sunday afternoon; at least once. This new 'Progress Report' updates the years after that - 1982 to 1986. Unlike the previous report, there is hardly 'complete' works here. I am not sure why that is. Maybe it is because the 'Psycho-Bod' LP was already part of 'Archive'? Or maybe because that LP is not as great and the choice was to release highlights? On the first LP we find a selection of that LP as well as from 'Step Forward' and their 12"s 'Go Talk', 'Rough Justice', 'Raise The Pulse' and 'The Great Divide', which remains a classic song to this day. True fans may have the originals, or the 'Archive' box; vinyl purists welcome a re-issue on LP format. Die-hard fans however start on the second disc, which contains 'Kiss Kiss (Sex)', a bunch of previously unreleased songs, which were intended for release by Grafika Airlines, recorded in 1982. Here Portion Control is in their more pop-like mode, but already these songs have more depth, compared to their earliest work. Dean Piavani's voice reminds me of some singer but I can't remember which one, maybe Martyn Bates of Eyeless In Gaza, maybe someone else (it will come to me one day). It's darker, more crooning (more Sinatra perhaps?), but still seem that have short and to the point character. Fans of all sorts will not be disappointed here.
On the other side we find a live recording from April 1st 1984 in Amsterdam and in rough form we hear such classics as 'Raise The Pulse', 'Go Talk' and 'Rough Justice'. It's in the rough version that we hear some of the meaner side of Portion Control (portion uncontrolled?), which vocal duties by all three members, shouting full of venom over an already more sophisticated set of beats. It's still a far cry from being a dance-oriented band - if ever we thought such a thing would be a Portion Control thing to do (and perhaps we did when they released all those 12"s). It's all the zeitgeist and spleen, sir. Another excellent time capsule. (FdW)

TVAM - NO EXPLANATIONS (USB device by Static Caravan)
Releasing USB devices is not something that is uncommon for Static Caravan; one could think it is a recent thing, seeing they also release more and more lathe cut discs. This particular USB device is a regular one, but packed inside an old video box - like the ones they used for videos and not the kind of video boxes that hold cassettes. The box is spray painted on the inside, so there is a nice recycled feel to it all. The video box is not just a gimmick, as the two songs by TVAM (which stands for…? I have no idea) come in three formats: mp3, wav and mov, so there is something to see as well. Both songs are just under three minutes, which is a bit of a bummer. TVAM seem to be a rock band, which shows best in 'No Explanation', with rocking guitars, bass and drums and vocals coming in, rather late as it happens. It has the speed and charm of a great post-punk song, including a nagging organ. 'Migrate Your Mind' is a heavier song, with an almost metal riff to it, which towards the end also seemed to have contained lush, cosmic synthesizer. Who would have guessed? I liked 'No Explanations' better, simply because of the post-punk appeal it had. Both videos are mash-ups of films and video-clips. Being no film-buff I have no idea what they should be and if there is something tongue in cheek going on. 'No Explanation' is lifted from movies, whereas 'Migrate Your Mind' seems to be some distorted pop video with lots of stroboscopic effects to it. Perhaps the only single this week, but certainly THE single of the week. In a rightful world Static Caravan would release this as a 7" and score an indie hit single, and it would appeal to many more than it probably does now. (FdW)

ORPHAX - OVER HOE DE REGTE HEIDE (cassette by Barreuh Records)
More from Barreuh Records comes from Sietse van Erve's Orphax project. He's been around for quite some years now, offering some of the finest in drone music. Usually working solely with Audiomulch, a nice bit of software anyone should try out at least once (certainly if you think Ableton is the only real tool), to stretch out whatever recording he can find, but in more recent times he also uses small organs, picking up the sound with his microphones and the music becomes a combination of analogue drones and laptop processing. Van Erve, a great admirer of the city of Amsterdam, is originally from the southern part of the Netherlands, Tilburg and Goirle, where he grew up, and the title of the release refers to the area, as well the two sidelong titles referring to the dominant catholic culture, as well as the Bronze Age history of the area. All of these references are not something one can easily hear in the music. Both pieces find their origin in two live recordings from 2014, which Van Erve reworked and processed down the line. In 'Over De Tijd Die Tussen De Grafheuvels En De Leij Ligt Begraven' a simple organ drone builds and builds over the course of seventeen minutes until it cuts out; maybe a bit too abruptly, but then it's perhaps it's also a bit silly ending. It's not a really forceful ending. The drones on 'Over Hoe De Heilige Maria De Regte Heide Al Zwijgend Aanschouwt' revolve in a more natural way: a slow fade in, a slow fade in and over the course of this piece they just seem to change very minimally in colour. There is less happening in this piece and more in the first; That one, with it's mild distortion had more various keys pressed down in what could be a random manner, but it's darkness and distortion (and odd ending) didn't do that much for me. It's the b-side where it is. (FdW)

FLEXIBLE GRAIN - LOTUS (cassette by Midnight Circles)
EFFED - ON GOING (cassette by Midnight Circles)
TBC/CFW - DOPPELBELICHTUNG (cassette by Midnight Circles)
Although the covers for releases on Midnight Circles never offer much by way of information, I like the consistency of the designs: repeating patterns being Xeroxed, information being stamped and that's it. Plus they have a keen interest in electronic music. The bandcamp page doesn't give us any information for Flexible Grain, and all I know he's from France. The first of the two parts of 'Lotus' consist of a bunch of electronic pieces stuck together; all of these are quite atmospheric but sometimes seem to be culled from bigger pieces. It's a most curious process: once you get into a piece, it could be also gone as easily. What went wrong when he was playing this, I wondered? Maybe it's a compositional approach, an aesthetic approach even? But then, on the second side, we have a very consistent fifteen-minute drone piece, build from modulating lo-fi organ drones and a bunch of guitar effects. Quite a dark pieces of music - well, actually on both sides - but it fits this particular grey day of summer rain.
From Canada hails Effed and of his release he says: "On Going consists of two improvisation based ambient pieces recorded on software synthesizer in May 2015." Here too certain bleakness is part of the music and most certainly there is an element of distortion. So the word 'ambient' might not be the right word here, but 'improvisation' surely seems to be spot on. One has no idea what a software synthesizer is these days - anything from Ableton Live to max/msp or something in which you play the keys of your keyboard as if it was a… real keyboard. Effed plays his stuff rather well, and here too I thought the best bit was on the second side, the side long 'Going At Dusk'; shimmering melodic, slowly building in intensity (getting darker obviously), but ending on a solo bass note and a bit of synth. It made me think this might be cut from some larger improvisation. On the A-side, we have 'In-Depth Trauma' and it's here that Effed has some mild distortion, which might be the result of recording it in a lo-fi manner. I am not sure. Less convincing but the good news is that this ambient is less conventional, which is surely something we want.
The final tape has the old master Thomas Beck, also known as TBC, who has been going since the mid 80s in the world of harsh noise and Christian Schiefner, who works here as CFW, which stands for Chemiefaserwerk. TBC gets credit for linux system, while CFW plays synthesizer, tapes, field recordings and mixing. Much of TBC's current work is still a bit too loud for my taste, but with mixing duties here for CFW there is certain elegance in the noise on offer. It's nowhere loud, dirty and/or vicious, but of the three tapes certainly the one that is grittier, with waves that stick right in your brain. Here both sides are equally good. CFW is the lion-tamer for TBC's more extreme frequencies and adds his own fine brand of field recordings and tapes to the mix, pulling it outside the world of harsh noise and into the areas of all things experimental and electronic. This is some heavy stuff, but it's put together with a fresh ear and open mind towards making something that isn't noise for noise's sake. Great stuff. (FdW)

HEY EXIT - ELSE (cassette, private)
HEY EXIT - SLOW NAMES 3: GLASSWING (cassette by of Plants)
Brendan Landis is the man behind Hey Exit and he aims 'for an ambiguous middle ground between loud and quiet, dense and sparse, bleak and optimistic'. His experience is with punk bands, electronic music, Japanese classical music, improvisation and harsh noise. Between May 2015 and now, he has released six new items, four on cassette, one on a lathe cut and one as a download only. Landis plays guitar and effects and I understand from the descriptions his work is to be found in many places. '0 of 0' is harsh noise wall for instance, and luckily I didn't get that one. 'Else' is of the two that I received the shortest release, clocking in at some twenty minutes. According to the information this 'ambient/solo baritone guitar', which is very much true; the ambient part that is, as I have no idea about the baritone guitar. He strums the six strings sparsely, adds a fair amount of reverb and let's tones float free in space, but avoids such notions as looping a single chord into drone oblivion. Which is always a good thing. The guitar stays as it is and perhaps therefore it is a bit more work to create such beautiful pieces of music.
Something different is the cassette 'Slow Names 3: Glasswing', which sees Landis on guitar, koto, field recordings and computer, David Grollman on snare drum on 'Peppermint', Mingo Kazumi playing percussion on the same piece and Greg Gorlen doing some tape manipulation on 'She Came Back Pretty Different'. The guitar is mostly acoustic, I believe and in the first few pieces everything seems to be more ambient than on 'Else'. Just the tinkling on the acoustic guitar with some field recordings added; juts a few birds singing along. This has the nice chamber music quality of say Town And Counry or Ben Vida's early releases. Quite nice. Following the long 'So Few They Aren't Worth Naming' there is a couple of pieces that are more noise based, which seem after all the tranquillity on the first side a bit out of place of, I was thinking. A more gentle and experimental piece as 'She Came Back Pretty Different' is much more in place to add a bit of variation to the release on the second side. It is in the end a tape with, not just literally, two sides: the gentle first side and the grittier and noisier second side. For me it would have made perfectly sense to split both sides in two releases. Both releases, in all the variety it has to offer, give an extended overview of the various qualities Landis has as a guitarist. (FdW)