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JARL - INNER DOMAIN (2CD by Zoharum) *
GENETIC TRANSMISSION - LULLABIES (CD by Zoharum) *
GENETIC TRANSMISSION - STRYCHNINA (CD by Zoharum) *
GABRIELE HASLER - HERDEN UND ANDERE BÜSCHEL (CD by Laika Records) *
NEURINGER/DULBERGER/MASRI – DROMEDARIES II (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
CRISTIAN ALVEAR & BURKHARD STANGL - PEQUEÑOS FRAGMENTOS DE UNA MÚSICA DISCRETA (CD by Insub Records) *
MICHAEL PISARO-LIU - ALPHA BETA EROS (CD by Insub Records) *
LUDOVIC MEDERY - LES PIERRES SECHES (CD by Unfathomless) *
SUSANA LÓPEZ - CRONICA DE UN SECUESTRO (CD by Elevator Bath) *
JOHN LUTHER ADAMS - LINES MADE BY WALKING (CD by Cold Blue Music) *
CLINTON GREEN & BARNABY OLIVER - THE INTERSTICES OF THESE EPIDEMICS (CD by Shame File Music) *
ERNIE ALTHOFF/CAROLYN CONNORS - SURFACE NOISE VOL. 9 (CDR by Shame File Music)
MADS EMIL NIELSEN/KATJA GRETZINGER/NICOLA RATTI - FRAMEWORK 3 (10" & CD by Arbritary) *
SANTA SPREES - SUM TOTAL OF INSOLENT BLANK (CDR, private) *
ROVELLASCA - DELIRIUM, OR SONATA (cassette by Crow Versus Crow) *
JEREMY YOUNG - FILAMANTS (cassette by Eliane Tapes) *
PHILIP WHITE WITH NIC JENKINS - OF THE AIR (cassette by Eliane Tapes) *
VIOLENT SHOGUN - THE POSSIBILITY OF LIFE'S DESTRUCTION (cassette by Absurd Exposition) *
TED BYRNES - ALL HANDS (cassette by Absurd Exposition) *
B.P. - ZHIISHIIBI-ZHIIBIING (cassette by Absurd Exposition) *
ROEL MEELKOP - CROSSMODULATED (cassette by Cronica Electronica) *
DERIVA (cassette compilation by Cronica Electronica)
JARL - INNER DOMAIN (2CD by Zoharum)
GENETIC TRANSMISSION - LULLABIES (CD by Zoharum)
GENETIC TRANSMISSION - STRYCHNINA (CD by Zoharum)
Over the years I reviewed quite a few works by Erik Jarl, who just uses his last name to sell his music. I gave up counting, nor was I very much inclined to look it up in the Vital archive. I guess I was too immersed with the music that I wasn't too bothered. The music was already recorded some time ago, 2007 and 2009 and originally going to be a double cassette but now it is a double CD. Both CDs deal with the hypnagogic and hypnopompic state, the latter "is the state of consciousness leading out of sleep" and is the mirror of the first, "the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep". The music reflects all of these states, going from introspective to fierce loud noise, from very linear to chaotic. According to the information the "electronic sounds were made with a waveform generator intertwining with acoustic sounds with lots of delay". I would add to that: and quite a bit of reverb much needed to suggest that vast space and deep atmospherics. For once, it is used properly and massive space is suggested and it works well. As per usual Jarl's music is ringing and buzzing loudly most of the time, like the whirring of machines in a big hall. The sound of science fiction going wrong, perhaps. Music, I would think, unfit to play when you are to bed or to wake up by, but who knows, maybe Jarl has different experiences? Do I hear the difference between both discs? To be honest: no I don't. I think both are very closely related in terms of approaches and how it is all worked out. That's fine with me, just as it is fine that there is probably not much difference between this and earlier releases by Jarl; this is the approach he does best and this is another great album.
I didn't count the number of re-issues Zoharum did of the work by Genetic Transmission. For 'Lullabies' the information says it is number eight, but if 'Strychnina' is seven or nine, I don't know. They are quite different releases, these two new ones, even when Tomasz Twardawa plays similar instruments on both; instruments of his own making. 'Strychnina' is an acoustic album and 'Lullabies' is an electronic album. Like Jarl, I find it hard to say if 'Lullabies' is an album one should play before going to sleep; I doubt if you fall asleep easily. Maybe it is just another title. I noticed before the influence of Nurse With Wound on a large body of work by Genetic Transmission and 'Lullabies' is no different. Sounds are layered and shifted around. With a pair of (virtual) scissors, rough cuts are made in the material and then new sounds are added. There is a constant disruption with stop and motion sounds. Add to that the element of speed change, church organs running galore and some backwards play, and you have all the ingredients used by Nurse With Wound. Of course, NWW doesn't do it not all the time, but think of a brutalized version of 'Spiral Insana' and you might be close. The studio is the most important instrument, ready for all the transformations to paint the picture of musique concrète. Maybe Genetic Transmission could have used the scissors a bit more in some of these pieces and keep it all a bit more concise, but we should see this in the light of the day it was recorded.
As said, 'Strychnina' is all acoustic and the cover mentions as sound sources, "acoustic installations, garbage, voice and environment" and that no further electronic manipulation was applied, except for a loop effect. Here there is hardly a Nurse With Wound influence to be noticed unless you could think this rumble in the attic ('strych is the Polish word for that) are building blocks for a composition a bit further down the line. That was my first impression but upon closer inspection, I realized that this work was another extension of the way Genetic Transmissions works. This is not going through the attic once, but multiple times, storing all the sounds on multi-track tape and then finding a dialogue among these sounds to create the compositions. Two are presented here, in an LP length (there is also an LP available!), and this became most interesting pieces of music. At times all of this sounded pretty chaotic and messy, but at the same time, there was a continuous unfolding of events that made it all remarkable coherent. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.zoharum.com
GABRIELE HASLER - HERDEN UND ANDERE BÜSCHEL (CD by Laika Records)
German artist Gabriele Hasler played in folk and rock bands before starting her studies at the Berklee College of Music in the early 80s. After her studies, she started her career as a singer and composer in the context of jazz and improvisation. She toured many years with her Quartett Gabriele Hasler & Foolish Heart and was engaged in many projects with other jazz musicians. Collaboration with poet Oskar Pastior made her turn to experimental music, concreted in projects of voice and electronics. In 2016 she started a series of collaborations using soundscape, text and live improvisation with musicians artists Markus Markowski, Birgit Uhler, Stephan Krause and Katharina Berndt. Most recent was her duo-work with drummer Günter Baby Sommer with an album – ‘Fundstücke’ - for 2016. More and more she concentrated on the voice, in projects of vocal group improvisation but also in solo efforts like this new album ‘Herden und andere Büschel’. Central on this release is her play and research of language and the human voice. Text and meaning, on the one hand, sonic aspects of the human – speaking – voice on the other. Vocal poetry becomes non-verbal sound poetry and the other way around. She plays with these differences. Meaning dissolving into just sound, and vice versa. Vocal poetry becomes non-verbal sound poetry and the other way around. Meaning dissolving into just sound. She makes use of prosodic aspects of speaking: rhythm, intonation, volume. Because of the sparse electronic treatments and additions, space is also an important aspect of her minimalistic constructions. Some of the titles integrate also sounds of birds like in ‘Oiseaux’ or footsteps like in ‘Schwarm’. In a way, her work can be compared with that of Meredith Monk and Laurie Anderson. However, she uses less musical aspects what makes her experimental miniatures closer to sound poetry. Intriguing work! (DM)
––– Address: http://www.laika-records.com
NEURINGER/DULBERGER/MASRI – DROMEDARIES II (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
I always listen with extra attention when a release concerns musicians I didn’t meet so far. That’s the case with this one. A trio of Keir Neuringer (alto sax), Shayna Dulberger (double bass) and Julius Masri (drums). Keir Neuringer is a Philadelphia-based saxophonist and composer working within a wide range of music: jazz, avantgarde, dance, noise, etc. He studied in Krakau and The Hague and worked with Ensemble Klang (Heiner Goebbels). Shayna Dulberger plays upright bassist and words in NYC since 2005. With Chris Welcome, she makes up Hot Date, a noise project. Warrior of Light is the name of her collaboration with choreographer Djassi Dacosta Johnson and as a member of Chaser, she is into underground rock. Julius Masri is a multi-instrumentalist and much more, originating from Lebanon but based in Philadelphia since 1990. Just like Dulberger and Neuringer, Masri plays in very different contexts: he participates in grind and metal bands, as well as in experimental rock band Van Sutra and free jazz unit Sirius Juju, etc. All three have their experience in performing solo and operating in very diverse collaborations. The title of the release suggests there was also a ‘Dromedaries I’ from this trio that started in 2014. And that is the case.
They debuted in 2017 on Already Dead Tapes and Records, a label based in Atlanta, Georgia, with ‘Dromedaries’. With their next step, they continue on their path of collective improvisation and present four improvisations moving between 10 and 13 minutes, recorded in October 2018. Opening improvisation ‘Both’ starts from a theme played by the bassist and repeated over. Drummer Masri joins by playing maniacal shifting patterns and on top Neuringer plays extended lines that quickly become increasingly intense. In the second part, the drummer is in the forefront with sequences of repeated patterns that gradually change in interaction with the bass. Near the end the sax returns once more, staying in the background. ‘Rifts’ starts with a rhythmic pattern by drums and bass. Neuringer joins with his penetrating and slightly dissonant sound. He has his very own distinct and conjuring tone. Drumming by Masri is impressive. He plays his patterns in a non-jazz way influenced by ethnic music, that invites Neuringer to play his inspired lines. ‘Ether’ starts with a very free and energetic dialogue of drums and bass. After the sax joins it develops into very jumpy improvisation. Very wild. In contrast, the closing improvisation ‘Thereafter’ is a more modest one. It is built again on ethnic-inspired percussive patterns that propel the improvisation forward. A strong statement by a trio searching and finding its own voice. (DM)
––– Address: http://www.relativepitchrecords.com/
CRISTIAN ALVEAR & BURKHARD STANGL - PEQUEÑOS FRAGMENTOS DE UNA MÚSICA DISCRETA (CD by Insub Records)
MICHAEL PISARO-LIU - ALPHA BETA EROS (CD by Insub Records)
Two men and their guitars. I assume these are acoustic guitars. Stangl also uses a radio, even when I am not sure when more than in the seventh piece. In May 2019 they recorded the eight pieces in Vienna. None of these pieces has a title, except behind number seven it says '(almost sad music)'. That I found quite remarkable, to be honest, as I found all the pieces exuding melancholy, sadness and quite intimate. The recording is crystal clear, almost as if both players are in your room, playing right in front of you. The way Alvear and Stangl play their instruments is in such a way that one easily recognizes the guitar. There is very little by way of other techniques, save maybe for some bowing in the third piece, or the bottleneck approach of one of the players in the sixth. Usually, they go about, strumming and plucking the strings, carefully. There is no chaos, no wild rocking out. The 'almost sad' seventh piece is this duo at the most experimental, with those radio sounds, appearing out of nowhere and exiting loudly at the end. Not sure if this any particular 'sadder' than the others; the sixth you could all a sort of way-out blues song of pain. Great release!
The other new release concerns a composition by Michael Pisaro-Liu, performed by Philippe Lauzier on bass clarinet and d'Incise on electronics and loudspeakers. Pisaro-Lui is one of the more well-known members of the Wandelweiser group and in this case he "delivered a score where words and (love) letters transform into notes, revealing in their dialogue a delicate counterpoint, two voices slightly apart at the beginning get softly intertwined in the last third". Here you can find a video in which the composer explains the work; youtu.be/CnlyVrooKmA The piece consists of five parts and it is a great work of fierce, dark and slow tones slowly intertwining, attracting each other and then drifting apart. The bass clarinet holds the middle ground with its deep acoustic sound, while d'Incise plays all sorts of sounds around it. It seems as if one player is moving around the other. The electronics from d"incise are quite diverse. I believe to have heard the piano (or samples thereof), sine waves, violin sounds (again: maybe samples), which also intertwine among themselves and which gives the album quite the modern classical feel; it is almost as if one is listening to an album of a small ensemble, not something that is by two players. The overall mood is also contemplative and quiet, but most of the time not as quiet as perhaps you would think a release from Wandelweiser would sound like. I especially liked the slightly more experimental character of these pieces. (FdW)
––– Address: https://insub.bandcamp.com/
LUDOVIC MEDERY - LES PIERRES SECHES (CD by Unfathomless)
When I first drove through the Belgium city Liège, I was surprised by the desolation and decay. That was somewhere in the seventies and I understand the city looks quite different these days (looking at the yearly cycling game that passes through there for sure). Between March and August 2016, Ludovic Medery made some recording in a disused factory in the North Quarter of the town, a once-thriving place of workshops. Next to the building was the old prison. This piece, while recorded in one place, is also very much of one place and one time; at least that’s how Medery made it sound like. He's going through the place capturing the emptiness of the space, hitting, scratching and scraping objects and at home, he added a bit of analogue synthesizer, a ring modulator and a feedback generator. Oddly enough, so I thought, it is these additions that make it even more together. They add a sense of strangeness to the music. While rummaging through space, stumbling over objects, some far-away cries and cars, these electronics sound like a stale wind blowing through the place. All the sounds seem to return all the time and yet, they sound different down the line. Medery slowed added something else, maybe bringing sounds more to the foreground, that sort of thing, but even within the unity of the piece (thirty-five minutes in total), there is some excellent variation; or even a sort of dramatic climax? Maybe not exactly, but it all worked out neatly intense. (FdW)
––– Address: https://unfathomless.bandcamp.com/
SUSANA LÓPEZ - CRONICA DE UN SECUESTRO (CD by Elevator Bath)
From Susana López, an experimental composer, visual artist and performer from Murcia in Spain, I reviewed a cassette before (Vital Weekly 1190), which my introduction to her work. 'Cronica De Un Secuestro' translates as 'Chronicle Of A Kidnapping', and maybe the kidnapping is to be understood as being locked up. López recorded the six lengthy pieces in March, during the lockdown. As with her previous release, López shows a strong love for drone music and to achieve that, she uses a lot of processed field recordings, but also synthesizers, voices and "deconstructed drum machines". The latter plays a dominant role in 'Luz Negra', the opening piece of massive, industrialized drones and a slow jackhammer-like rhythm and in 'Thousand Drones to Nubia'. Otherwise, I think it is not easy to recognize anything in terms of pure field recordings, save for a few voices in 'Ibn Arabi'. The transformations here are of such a nature that they are massive blocks of dark matter drones. You could as easily believe that this is an album of a bunch of synthesizers and sound effects, evoking some hellish nightmare; or a dark soundtrack to a science fiction flick. This is indeed the sound of a claustrophobe, of four walls closing in on each other. I am pretty sure I would have written the same thing even if I didn't know that this was the title or the circumstances of the recording. It is perhaps a surprising title for Elevator Bath, with the field recordings playing a very modest role in this music, but the label is known for doing less obvious releases in the realm of field recordings, so in that sense, this is a most wonderful addition. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.elevatorbath.com/
JOHN LUTHER ADAMS - LINES MADE BY WALKING (CD by Cold Blue Music)
Slow days need slow music, I think. The two string quartet by John Luther Adams, performed by JACK quartet, I would think are examples of such slow music. Over the years I reviewed various works by him, and I always seem to like his music, while at the same time I easily admit not knowing much about the whole field of modern classical music. Therefore, I can't write about this music (well, in fact, most music) in terms of scales, notes, techniques, glissandi or such like. Both string quartets have three movements. The title piece is inspired by walks Adams does, and he superimposes melodic lines upon each other, at varying speeds. The music sometimes speeds up, sometimes slows down, all of this: a bit. Like going uphill or downhill when walking; or perhaps it is just the way the landscape looks like, hills and canyons. Through this three-part, the music has a fine, majestic mid-pace tempo. For the other string quartet, the Aeolian harp is the starting point, a single sixteen-string harp and here the music is a bit slower, and perhaps it has a mournful character. There seem to be less melodic lines to follow, creating an altogether sparser dynamic; maybe it is that which made me think of a mournful tune. If this would be a landscape, then it is no doubt emptier than the landscape in which we just walked. Both pieces engage the listener to contemplate; but with 'Lines Made By Walking', I can imagine you do this while walking outside, on a beautiful sun covered Sunday afternoon in September (just, what I am doing inside anyway?), while 'Untouched' is more for use at home; sit down with a cup of tea and do some thinking. Slow music, indeed, and a great release. (FdW)
––– Address: http://coldbluemusic.com
CLINTON GREEN & BARNABY OLIVER - THE INTERSTICES OF THESE EPIDEMICS (CD by Shame File Music)
ERNIE ALTHOFF/CAROLYN CONNORS - SURFACE NOISE VOL. 9 (CDR by Shame File Music)
As I am sitting in my comfy chair, reading a book and drinking afternoon tea, I play the new release by Barnaby Oliver and Clinton Green. Music by the latter I heard before, but I am not too sure about Oliver. He plays violin and piano, and I would think the violin on the first track and piano on the second. Green plays bowed metal bowls. With these limited sources they set out to play long-form pieces, and they have been doing so since 2017. As I sit back and do all the things mentioned, I listen to music and feel blown away. On the first piece, 'The Interstices', they keep bowing the strings and bowls in a very delicate drone-like piece that works very well with acoustic overtones. Think a bit of Organum or Nurse With Wound's 'Soliloque For Lilith', but acoustic. It is refined and rough and works very well. It lasts nineteen minutes but for me, it could have lasted an hour. It is minimally changing and that's enough. 'Of These Epidemics' is four minutes longer, twenty-three minutes in total and here Oliver plays the piano and Green keeps striking and bowing the bowls. Oliver plays chords, loosely and spacious, reminding of the best jazz works from down under I heard before; think Spartak, Gilded, 3ofmillions and Infinite Decimals but also The Necks, I would think. It's smooth, it's a bit of jazz and with Green's backdrop on the bowls, it is spacious as it roughly edged. As I am sitting in my comfy chair, reading a book and drinking afternoon tea, I play the new release by Barnaby Oliver and Clinton Green again. I get up and just it all over again. It's melancholic, it's sad, and I might think this is the best release I heard this week.
On CDR, number nine in a series of releases with live recordings we find "instrument builder/kinetic sound sculpture Ernie Althoff and vocalist/composer/performer Carolyn Connors". The first has a live recording made at VCA in 2015. The percussion was that night, so it seems and it is hard to tell what kind of percussion it is. Surely this was not a conventional drum kit, but metallic objects, xylophones and such like, plus something that is even more difficult to define, but which adds to the somewhat mysterious quality of the piece. I won't even try to guess, but it sounds great. Connors' performance is from the Make It Up Club in 2012 and voice improvisation. As far as I can judge such matters I don't think she uses any electronics (I might be wrong), but she does her voice in such a way that you could think she does. It is a pretty radical work of short sounds, from the back of her throat it seems and there is no narrative. She stutters, sings, whispers, howls and all in a steady stream, which must have been quite a strain on her vocal cords. This is not easy work, but something that requires your utmost concentration. (FdW)
––– Address: https://shamefilemusic.com/
MADS EMIL NIELSEN/KATJA GRETZINGER/NICOLA RATTI - FRAMEWORK 3 (10" & CD by Arbritary)
When it comes to prize-winning packages, this is the winner in a long time. In "art print folder", we find a 10" record, a CD, a separate risographed scores. These were made by Mads Emil Nielsen, who delivers on vinyl his music. The music finds its basis in three scores/drawings. The audio material was then translated by graphic designer Katja Gretzinger , which resulted in 18 scores, in which she has returning elements and in which she uses found images. With minimal colouration and a grid upon each of them, I can imagine it is very engaging to play. The risographic element of these prints adds to the visual power (as well the smell of the print of course). Finally, Nicola Ratti "reinterpreted the imagery as a selection of sound elements positioned in a three-dimensional area; which he visualized as the space between the composer/artist, Ratti himself and the loudspeakers". Nielsen and Ratti are both trained as architects, which may account for the use of space and geometry in the visuals as well as the music.
First, there is the music by Nielsen and I had not heard of him before. He recorded his source material at EMS in Stockholm and worked with that at home. There he also added sine waves, feedback, noise and percussive loops. The three pieces on this 45rpm are all quite short; the whole thing lasts under ten minutes, which is a pity, as I would have loved to hear some more. In these pieces, Nielsen admits knowing his Alva Noto and Ryoji Ikeda, but then in a rather playful manner. The architect who isn't afraid of doing a different calculation and plays the material as he sees fit. There are some deep bass sounds, high beeps and irregular Geiger counter-like noises. This is not dance music at all, but feel free to nod your head along with this.
Nicola Ratti also has three pieces, which have a total length of sixteen minutes. He might be using electronics, just like Nielsen, but he works with them in an entirely different way. He adds loops of acoustic instruments to the hissy electronics, which are minimal and joyful, especially in the first (untitled) piece. It sounds like a piece of minimal music chopped up with some moments of rest. In the second piece, some organ-like sound and water sample is being played in a very ambient modus, but with some level of chaos. The final piece is the most percussive piece with a small rhythm played on the toms and hissy loops. Ratti keeps the music small and intimate and that is most enjoyable. All in all a great package, where great ideas meet ditto execution. (FdW)
––– Address: https://arbitrary.bandcamp.com/
SANTA SPREES - SUM TOTAL OF INSOLENT BLANK (CDR, private)
While listening to ‘Sum Total of Insolent Blank’, the new album by Santa Sprees, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago. We were talking about the latest P!nk and Justin Bieber albums. I said that I’d rather either listen to an album that didn’t work but tried to some something interesting over a boring one. Sadly, both P!nk and Bieber albums were dull which made them somehow worse than if they’d gone for something that just didn’t work. So, what does this have to do with Anthony & Kazuko Dolphin’s latest album? The answer is simple, the ‘Sum Total of Insolent Blank’ really tries to do something different, which is commendable but sadly fails at the final hurdle.
There is a touch of the Residents, Pere Ubu and Victor Banana about it. Playful pop sensibilities are underpinned by ad hoc melodies, wonky guitars, and falsetto vocals. The albums work it’s best when it doesn’t it feels like a drawn-out story with a slightly confusing punchline. The title track, ‘I Stuck Gold’, ‘The Little One Were Made of Pipe Cleaners and Felt’ and ‘Inconvenient Ruth’ work and are a pleasure to listen to. But songs like ‘We Drew Lots’ comes across as tedious, at best. The main riff isn’t as strong as on other songs, and the vocals don’t work as well too, giving everything a grating feeling.
While listening to ‘Sum Total of Insolent Blank’ it’s very clear that the Dolphin’s have a sense of humour. Just read someone of the track names ‘How Do You Butcher Fish Finger?’, ‘The Home Help Won’t Help’, ‘I Met the Man Who Milked the Cows on Malted Milk’, ‘Inconvenient Ruth’,
Tear Blades Grass Blades Longways’ and ‘Whatever it Takes (Apart from That)’ offer a slight explanation to the ramshackle lyrics throughout.
At its heart ‘Sum Total of Insolent Blank’ is a frustrating album. There are some incredible moments in there, but they are followed by moments of mediocrity. It’s infuriating how good parts of this sound. ‘Everything’s Still Normal (In Space)’ could be the most focused track on the album. The fuzzy bass and harmonies work well. Around the halfway mark a sample from Trump talking about space grounds the organised cacophony in the real world. You now get a sense of why they’re angry. The inclusion of the sample is a masterstroke, but it also shows up the weaker tracks on the album.
At 90 minutes ‘Sum Total of Insolent Blank’ is a long album. Longer than it really has any right to be. While it’s interesting to hear all the tracks assembled for this album, at least a third of the songs could easily have been omitted to create a more cohesive listening experience.
After playing ‘Sum Total of Insolent Blank’ for the third time I am no nearer to finding out what it is about. I don’t think that the Dolphin’s do either. That’s kind of the point though. For all the excess tracks, confusing lyrics, and sense of cluttered compositions ‘Sum Total of Insolent Blank’ is a strangely enjoyable listen. This isn’t a classic album, or at times a good one, but there is something about it that keeps pulling me back in. As the closing track, ‘The Home Help Won’t Help’ ends and I start the cycle again I know that this isn’t going to be the last time I play this album. (NR)
––– Address: https://santasprees.bandcamp.com/
ROVELLASCA - DELIRIUM, OR SONATA (cassette by Crow Versus Crow)
Craig Johnson is the man behind Rovellasca and these days quite active, but a quick look on Discogs tells me there are only eight releases so far. Johnson is the man behind Invisible City Records, but for his music also goes out to other, like-minded labels, such as Kirigirisu Recordings (see last week) and this week Crow Versus Crow. On his label, Johnson chooses musicians who work with drones, lo-fi equipment and whose results work out in a noisier end of drone music. As Rovellasca that is not different. As I was curious to know the origins of the name, wiki tells me that "Rovellasca is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Como in the Italian region Lombardy, located about 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Milan and about 15 kilometres (9 mi) south of Como". Do not think this leads to some sunny music. It is hard to say what Rovellasca does, as is often the case with this sort of lo-fi drone music, as there is a tendency to transform material beyond recognition. I would think that at the core of the Rovellasca sound there are field recordings, recorded onto tape and then slowed down in playback and fed through some effects or synthesizers, gathering a fine mass of drones along the way. In 'Antechamber', which fills up the whole of the first side, there are minimal changes to be noted, but it works quite well on this dreary day. 'Breath Of Memory' is an amplified room with a string instrument and some drones from the four corners, picked from space as it is. This is a surprisingly less drone-based affair, but 'Columns Of Porphyry' makes up for that; wind down a pipe sort of recording? It is more music for dreary days, and with the rain outside, a perfect backdrop. This is this stuff I like a lot! (FdW)
––– Address: https://crowversuscrow.bandcamp.com/
JEREMY YOUNG - FILAMANTS (cassette by Eliane Tapes)
PHILIP WHITE WITH NIC JENKINS - OF THE AIR (cassette by Eliane Tapes)
Eliane Tapes is a subdivision from Moving Furniture Records and named after Eliane Radigue. There has been one release so far, an excellent tape by Kassel Jaeger (Vital Weekly 1117), so it has been a while to wait for the next two. ET002 is a tape by Jeremy Young. He's a member of Sontag Shogun. When the whole Covid 19 thing exploded I was afraid I would run out of things to review and from various sides I got online music to review. Two were by Sontag Shogun and what I was afraid of, never happened, so up until today, I had not heard these releases. I mention them quickly. One is a release, 'The Floating World And The Sorrowful World', they recorded with Belgium Stijn Hüwels, which they recorded one afternoon at his place. It is all improvised and sounds very coherent, he said with some surprise. Some beautiful mellow drone music with faint traces of field recordings. The other is a cassette, 'Floreal', with a long piece they recorded with Lau Nau on vocals and contains the trademark sounds of Sontag Shogun; lots of piano, carefully manipulated electronics and voices. Both are worth your time, so find them online!
Let's turn our heads to Jeremy Young's solo pieces, 'Filaments 1.01 & 1.02'. For this piece, he uses a "1968 Heath EUW-27 sine generator" from which he recorded overlapping tones to tape. "While being played back, I added a lower frequency sine wave run through a ring modulator and slowly rode the pitch shifting dials in real-time, improvising alongside the playback." There is some more tech talk about how he worked with these sounds, but I spare you that. He also tells us that the piece is inspired by Radigue 'Transamorem - Transmortem'. What he creates with these sounds are two great pieces of music. There are some interesting differences between these pieces. Of the two, 'Filament 1.02' is the subtle drone approach. Here nothing much seems to change and yet it also never seems to stay in the same place for very long. Sounds seem to slip out, almost unnoticeable, but once they are in place, you couldn't believe they were not there before. In that respect is 'Filament 1.01' the total opposite. Here we have a distinct set of tones working together. There is quite a bit of tape-hiss, which works as an independent layer of sound, and then various variants of the sine waves, slowly intertwining together and slowly drifting apart. I very much enjoyed how these apparent set of similar sounds worked out so differently and both of these so beautiful. I enjoyed both, it is a tie.
An even older instrument is played by Philip White (of whom, I think, I had not heard before), which is an "1890 tracker organ". Wiki came to rescue: "Tracker action is a term used in reference to pipe organs and steam calliopes to indicate a mechanical linkage between keys or pedals pressed by the organist and the valve that allows air to flow into pipe(s) of the corresponding note. This is in contrast to "direct electric action" and "electro-pneumatic action", which connect the key to the valve through an electrical link or an electrically assisted pneumatic system respectively, or "tubular-pneumatic action" which utilizes a change of pressure within lead tubing which connects the key to the valve pneumatic." For White the interest in this organ lies in the microtonal approach it allows him, allowing him to play a "diatonic cluster", "while pulling out different sets of stops could create a disorienting feeling of parallel worlds as my brain toggled between hearing two similar musical gestures simultaneously, but an 1/8 tone apart, while also hearing them as a single sound, comprised of shifting polyrhythms as the tones making up the clusters move in and out of phase with one another"; long quotes, I know, but I couldn't have said it better. Whereas Young's release is all about electronics, this is all about acoustics and the space in which they go around. White assisted Radigue in 2010 when she set up her six channel-piece 'Songs of Milarepa' and this inspired him for the three works on this cassette. The clusters White plays are all over the spectrum, from light to quite dark, from what seems isolated to full, rich tones. This is best exemplified in the third piece, filling up the entire second side of the cassette, which starts very quiet but for thirty minutes hits the high and low end, full-on density and light at heart passages. In the two pieces on the other side, this is more together (not saying this is better or worse!), exploring what seems to be one movement, one stroke of massive sound, which cuts out abruptly in the second piece. A different take on the work of Radigue, another fine tribute. (FdW)
––– Address: https://movingfurniturerecords.bandcamp.com/
VIOLENT SHOGUN - THE POSSIBILITY OF LIFE'S DESTRUCTION (Cassette by Absurd Exposition)
TED BYRNES - ALL HANDS (Cassette by Absurd Exposition)
B.P. - ZHIISHIIBI-ZHIIBIING (Cassette by Absurd Exposition)
The resurgence of the cassette was I suppose to be expected after the likes of HMV got the resurgence of vinyl thing. These three releases of pro produced limited edition tapes being a good example. As are the Bandcamp tags “experimental harsh noise power electronics”. The tags related to genres of between 70 to 30 years ago. The cassette a product of the Dutch company Phillips, which first appeared this month 57 years ago, its heyday being the 70s and 80s mainly due to car stereos. However, unlike Vinyl and the CD, a cassette from the get-go was recordable without expensive mastering and the need to press minimum quantities. Thus, until the CDR and Internet sites, it became the obvious option for small scale releases. Added to this was the then availability of cheap photocopies and you have the technical background to what became the tag genres. I will discuss the tracks, but this is also not as Vital was first produced as all three are available on Bandcamp to hear, and the cassettes come with digital download. I'm reminded of Art magazines in which gallery installations are described and wonder why, when one could simply video the show and upload to youtube, why spend paragraphs of description. Of course, the answer is, 'that is what is expected'. I attach no value judgement to this, whereas the 'origin' of the art/music review, cassette with crude photocopy was necessitated by technical/financial criteria, now it is produced as an emulation of that process. Given the digital download, one doesn't need to play the physical object, one doesn't even need a player. The point is that now with these three releases we have a radical 'inversion'. The mistake then would be to apply criteria that one might once have done to this 'inversion'. By which, for instance, someone might say that there is nothing 'new' here, or as Mark Fisher said, 'everything now is retro'. However, this is not a criticism, but a description of contemporary culture, one in which the openness to what this is in sonic terms becomes 'Art'. The Possibility of Life's Destruction's theme is given in the title of both side A and B, disintegrated mechanical harsh white noise, crashes, deep rumbles and static. Side B begins with a short loop of what could be very distorted music, metal clanking which builds to slow rumbling and collapsing metallic/static sounds. The achievement here, and I mean this, is the re-production of the original difficulties and limitations of analogue technology, in which the blurb gives the description 'nuclear inferno' – again a retrospective paranoia. All hands are 'solo acoustic percussion' (sic) - “The Latin adverb sic inserted after a quoted word or passage indicates that the quoted matter has been transcribed or translated exactly as found in the source text” but here relates to sound not text, and my point about creative emulation being made again. Outrageous metallic percussion, it is not to say radically new, because obviously, that is not the case, but the radicality is the creation as a re-creative act. It re-defines, and so defines percussion, which is to "state or describe exactly" and "mark out the boundary or limits" an activity in which a craft becomes an art. Zhiishiibi-Zhiibiing translates from the Native American to "Duck River" in Manitoba where field recordings were taken as the basis for the 7 tracks. A basis which yields to what appears at times heavy processing, at others not, turned into panned loops and noise, at times placid at others ambient, at others a wall of static. I.E. the possibilities and potentialities of field recording. Field Recording as a source is nothing new, can be dated to Musique concrète of the 1940s and before, or in the case of Messiaen sans recorder. As in the other pieces the work, therefore, must exist in history, and here in its diversity IMO does so as an achievement explicitly. Mark Fisher thought the appropriation of previous genres if not bad, something he personally could not tolerate. I disagree, art has not only been ever inventive in its development, from Roman art through to the Renaissance it has re-appropriated its past. Art which aims at more than mere entertainment reveals the world as it is, with its history, 'warts and all', and these three releases are excellent technical and aesthetic examples of that process. (jliat)
––– Address: https://absurdexposition.bandcamp.com/
ROEL MEELKOP - CROSSMODULATED (cassette by Cronica Electronica)
DERIVA (cassette compilation by Cronica Electronica)
It should be no secret that I know mister Meelkop pretty well and therefore I know that some two or three years ago he was looking for ways to break away from working with a laptop for his musical compositions and at the recommendation of Jos Smolders, he looked into the use of modular synthesizers and ever since is hooked. He's the sort of man who is handy enough with soldering and has a big box of modules. I am not sure how many of his recent releases are made with this newly acquired technology; he's not a man to release that much anyway these days. The title of this new cassette implies the use of modular electronics and I may know mister Meelkop reasonably well, I didn't ask how this was made. Sometimes with modular electronics, I have the impression it is, just as with improvised music, all done at the moment, a straight to tape recording. Sometimes it is the result of recording and mixing various events together. I don't know which the Meelkop stance. Judging by the music I would think the first, in which Meelkop first finds the 'right' balance, which knobs and dials to switch and sets out some plan to follow and then starts to record the music, in which it is decided at the moment what sort of duration a piece will have. In each of the five pieces (from six to fifteen minutes in duration) the development is minimal but notable. It can start out with a slow drum sound, slowly to envelop into a spacious drone, to end on a more broken up sequence of tones ('Crossmodulated 4'). Field recordings may become the subject of transformations, just as in the olden days, and maybe some computer editing as well. But, as said, I am not too sure of that. It is a most enjoyable cassette of some sturdy musical experimentation.
The other new release is a compilation called 'Deriva', and that means (warning: very lengthy quote ahead, since there is no way I can summarize this) "Drift [from French dérive] is the perpetuating movement that strides from the known to the unknown, to the absurd and the unplanned. This is a condition that is generated by the observers themselves and implies a distancing from historical events. The cultural Drift, in ethnology, is a transformation induced by internal factors within the group and not influenced by the exterior. It is alike with the continuity of a tradition when there is no longer control and comparison, like a raft facing the ocean. If within this context we consider the “Universe-System” as a closed structure, the Drift is entropy. In psychology Drift is meant as a moral and ethical connotation, it is to disconfirm a prior decision before its decline, collapse. The Drift differs consistently from the concept of Transition as it is in default of the final reference point. It embodies the unpredictable, the undefined. It could, from this point of view, be a particular type of exploration that, after everything is planned, designed, and built, is abandoned, left to itself. The abandoned landscape comes with a question that smells of drift. VacuaMoenia suggested musicians and composers an investigation on this theme. How to represent the Drift through their medium? What practices, forms, and strategies to adopt?" The cassette contains shorter versions of complete pieces that one can find in the download. The participating artists are Simone Castellan, Stefano Giampietro, Natura Wiva, Petri Kuljuntausta, Chelidon Frame, Rinaldo Marti, Emanuele Costantini, Dimitrios Savva and VacuaMœnia. I must admit I didn't hear of these names before. All of these pieces can be found in the realm of sound art, musique concrète and, I think, digital processing. You may have gathered that I didn't understand much of the text, or perhaps see the relevance about the pieces I heard. I enjoyed these pieces, of which none stood out in particular, nor did any fail to deliver. Solid laptop music? (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.cronicaelectronica.org/