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THREE POINT CIRCLE - PROXIMITY EFFECTS (CD by Palace Of Lights) *
TONE GENERATOR AND THE BODY WITHOUT ORGANS – NORMALISATION OF RESPONSE (CD by Inner City Uprising) *
ELISABETH COUDOUX – EMISZATTET – EARIS (CD by Impakt)
DOGS BITE BACK-BACK? FORWARD! (CD by Noname 666) *
TOBIAS REBER - MOTHER OF MILLIONS (CD, private) *
DAS B - CANOPY (CD by Tonot) *
PORTRAITS (CD compilation by Unexplained Sounds Group)
I WILL KILL CHITA & WZM - LOGBOOK OF THE ARK (CD by Arsenic Solaris) *
SM/DP - COMPLEX FEEDBACK FACTORS (CD by Neko Records) *
SM/DP - PLASMASYNTHESIS (LP by Huge Bass)
CURTIS ROADS/TODD BARTON (CD by Neko Records)
PAUL CHAIN - IS DEATH VOLUME 1 (2LP by Horn Of Plenty) *
DAVID DUNN - VERDANT (CDR by Neuma Records) *
PHILIP BLACKBURN - JUSTINIAN INTONATIONS (CDR by Neuma Records) *
PAMELA Z - A SECRET CODE (CD by Neuma Records) *
AGNESE TONIUTTI - SUBTLE MATTERS (CD by Neuma Records) *
TAKUMA WATANABE - LAST AFTERNOON (CDR by Constructive) *
PHILIP SANDERSON - NOT EVEN MY CLOSEST FRIENDS (cassette by Snatch Tapes) *
EMILIO BERNČ - NOIOSE (cassette by Dadaist Tapes) *
TERBIJN - ECO (cassette by Never Anything Records) *
ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION - AECPWMCTEP (cassette by Galloping Foxley Recordings) *
THREE POINT CIRCLE - PROXIMITY EFFECTS (CD by Palace Of Lights)
Now, this is a mighty fine surprise. You may not have heard of Three Point Circle, but you surely know the three men behind it; Marc Barreca, K. Leimer and Steve Peters. From these three, Peters might be lesser-known, but he too has been around since the 80s and also releases music on K. Leimer's Palace Of Lights label. They already worked together in 1980 when they played a couple of one-off shows in Olympia, Washington. It took them forty years to get back together and that resulted in this five-piece album that spans seventy-five minutes. What is not much of a surprise, is the music. What these three men do in their solo work, is what they bring to the table here. Ambient music with a the very big A. They use whatever they want to, be it synthesizers, guitars, field recordings, analogue and digital effects and computer-based processing. All of this stuck together to create slow music that unfolds peacefully. Or, perhaps, doesn't unfold at all. A piece starts with a few sounds, say a synth or two, a bell-like sound, water recordings (I am talking about 'The Commonplace'), but quickly tones are fragmented, stretched out, others are added slowly and from there on it all keeps morphing, slow and steady, and the listener is transported through space (and time?), gently. I first heard this CD on a Saturday morning, reading the newspaper, on a slight hot day, so balcony doors but, for once, it was all quiet outside (usually a morning like this is used to fix a fence, or some such that requires electrical sawing) and the music provided this lovely soundtrack for such a quiet morning. The element of the experiment is not forgotten as there is some use of 'strange' sounds (such as in 'Exquisite' with metallic objects being rubbed), but they work quite well within the overall picture. There is quite some white noise, which suggests some use of Walkman and reel-to-reel machines and it all has that fine vintage sound. An excellent work of delicate ambience. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.palaceoflights.com/
TONE GENERATOR AND THE BODY WITHOUT ORGANS – NORMALISATION OF RESPONSE (CD by Inner City Uprising)
There was a time when I was mad about all things SPK – be it under the banner of Surgical Penis Klinik, Sozialistisches Patienten Kollektiv, System Planning Korporation, SePpuKu or SoliPsiK, you name it. The quintessential industrial band, with Throbbing Gristle, ran, under this gamut of monikers, amok in the early 1980s with albums such as Information Overload Unit, Live At The Crypt and Leichenschrei – now rightfully considered classics in any genre. One of the, often fluctuating, members of SPK was Dominik Guerin. Of Australian descent, and working under the name Tone Generator, Guerin played a major part in SPK’s early records and live performances providing synthesizers and percussion, orchestrating much of the band’s unique visual appeal. After SPK’s ascension or descension depending on your point of view, into Top of the Pops territory, Guerin stayed true to his musical roots, left the band, and recorded several experimental synthesizer works under names such as Merge and, with ex-SPK John Murphy, Last Dominion Lost. And now we have this new album, Normalisation Of Response, created with Scott Barnes on programming and bass synthesizer. The album’s tracks, recorded in 2019 and 2020, are suitably experimental in nature, but not echoing SPK’s wall of samples, metal percussion and noise, but more explorative like an electronic Darwin searching for nature’s answers. Using field recordings, radio, voices, atmospheres and instruments such as synthesizers and percussion (samples), the album never overpowers its own concept. Tellingly, the album is not presented as a single ‘sound-track’, but rather nine separate compositions, ranging from melodic hints of feedback (yes, that is possible – check out Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music), via almost undecipherable vocal samples and sound sculptures to a more threatening atmosphere. It is ‘industrial’ in places, most notably in tracks such as the chaotic Drowning and Ne/H/il’s Back Room, which utilizes percussion samples (by James Pinker) from the Leichenschrei album. A strangely emotional harking back to SPK’s founding member Neil Hill (Ne/H/Il), who tragically took his own life in February 1984. Coupled with the weird noise collage that is Lost Relics, the samples on The Wasteland and the odd sounds of Flight Of Ideas and much more, Normalisation Of Response is an intriguing uneasy/easy listelistening that is what Guerin’s and Barnes’ music really is, dynamic sound emerging from hidden nooks and crannies in a field laboratory, brooding with subdued energy, waiting to surface at a moment you least expect it. Personally, I love this album and you, even if you dislike SPK, might just too! (FK)
––– Address: https://innercityuprising.bandcamp.com/
ELISABETH COUDOUX – EMISZATTET – EARIS (CD by Impakt)
Coudoux is an important exponent of the Cologne scene, the city where she studied classical music. And also jazz with Frank Gratkowski and Dieter Manderscheid among her teachers. Coudoux worked with Scott Fields String Feartet, Zeitkratzer, Biliana Voutchkova, Xavier Charles, etc. In 2013, she started her ensemble Emiszatett. It is mainly with this ensemble that she develops her very own voice on the edge of composed and improvised music. It turned out to be a stable unit over the past few years with Matthais Muche (trombone), Robert Landfermann (double bass), Philip Zoubek (prepared piano, synthesizer), Etienne Nillesen (extended snare drum) and Elisabeth Coudoux herself on violoncello. Part of the Impakt collective, the ensemble takes a key position in the scene in Cologne, with their focus on improvisation and modern composed music. The ensemble debuted in 2015 with ‘Qui-pro-quo-dis’, followed by ‘Physis’ in 2020. At the end of that same year, Coudoux wrote the material for their third album, leaving less room for improvisation compared to the earlier albums. The compositions are performed with Pegelia Gold as a guest-vocalist, who excels in non-verbal and ethereal singing. This goes very well with the instrumental musical fabric produced by the other performers. Richly textured multi-layered soundsculptures, delicate and with love for detail like for example the short (1:30) ‘Captivates’. ‘Curious Force’ starts in a similar vein, followed by weird sounding movements, first in a cyclic mode and then moving on linearly. On top, Gold sings a strange melodic line. Fascinating! This counts for numerous other tracks as well, like ’Daily Rhythm’ that also starts as an intense rhythmic vehicle, creating a strange continuity. Seemingly independent of this, Coudoux plays a melodic line. Repeating patterns are also at the base of the title piece, built from fine interwoven melodic lines this is the most conventional piece, evoking memories of minimal music. ‘With Sound’ has a strong presence of electronics combined with the voice of Gold. A very sound-oriented ‘song’, impressive by all that happens is in this short period of fewer than two minutes. For sure, Coudoux is hitting at something in her explorations of new possibilities, creating fascinating experimental vehicles with emotional impact. Carefully and sensibly performed by her ensemble. (DM)
––– Address: https://impakt-koeln.bandcamp.com
DOGS BITE BACK-BACK? FORWARD! (CD by Noname 666)
Do you know what I really love about music? It's going into something totally blind and being blown away. It reminds me of going to gigs and having the unknown support band steal the show. It's one of the best feelings in the world. This is what happened when I played ‘Back? Forward!’ by Dogs Bite Back.
The trio is made up of Ilia Belorukov on synthesizer and feedback, Dmitriy Lapshin on bass guitar and effect pedals and Konstantin Samolovov on drums, objects and voice recorder. The music is improvised but there is something wonderfully cohesive about it. Take ‘Are You Serious?’. The synths are short sharp shocks of fuzzy static with wonky stings being plucked underneath, but there is something about it that doesn’t sound improvised, in the same way, that Sun Ra, Miles Davis and Captain Beefheart doesn’t sound rehearsed.
There are sections of ‘What Did You Eat Today?’ that sounds like a peak Squarepusher. The basslines are fast and deep. The beats are frenetic, and the electronics are all over the shop. It’s pretty great and sounds like little else I’ve heard this year. Two-thirds Dogs Bite Back start to run out of steam. This is totally fine as the track, and album, start at such a blistering pace I did wonder how long they could keep it up for. ‘What Did It Smell Like?’ follows on the heels of the opener but is more measure, and oddly restrained. It is filled with the same nervous energy that would be draining to have to deal with personally but in a band like this, it works incredibly well.
What ‘Back? Forward?’ demonstrates is that improvised music doesn’t have to be sombre. It can be fun. And is what ‘Back? Forward?’ is really about. Three musicians having a great time creating the most disjointed music that can whilst somehow keeping it fluid. (NR)
––– Address: http://noname666.bandcamp.com
TOBIAS REBER - MOTHER OF MILLIONS (CD, private)
There is something about Tobias Reber’s music that is hard to ignore. It is densely layered but not heavy going. The melodies spring from the speakers and latch onto you like a graboid in Termours. ‘Being II’ is a really delicate piece of music. Throughout it sounds like water, be that digital water is running slowly through instruments. Under this huge hulking synths drone on. It’s pretty effective at creating a disconnect that is both enjoyable and sets up what is to come. ‘Worming / Dancing / Big Fire’ feels like something from the 80s, or a homage to that era, action film. As the heroes have escaped a military compound with secrets, a weapon or an alien, they are being followed by the army and a devious commander who will stop at nothing to get it, and them, back. It’s pretty wonderful in all fairness. The melodies are subtle but effective. The main basslines/synth work is catching. And gives the songs a sense of movement. Recurring bouts of static appear, fade away and reappear bringing to mind an old dot matrix printer firing up and slowly printing out military orders. The standout track on the album is ‘Washing / Dancing II’. This is effectively a piece of tweaking acid but without the beats. The obsidian bassline is so much fun, especially if you play it loud on some decent speakers. As it progresses it gets more and more abstract and, well, messed up until only a sinuousness melody remains. Well worth the price of admission alone.
The artwork is singular and designed by Laura Acosta and Ritxi Ostáriz. It really suits the music. On top of a black background, it looks, from a distance, like an oil painting that resembles an abstract jellyfish. The head is red and the tip blue. There are plenty of lines coming off it that could be its stingers. However, on a closer inspection, the artwork is digital. This plays into the ideas of man meets machine that permeates the album. The use of digital instruments with what sounds like natural noises echoes the cover. Looking at the cover you have no real idea what to expect, but the way the cover looks like it is in constant moments matches the music in ways that I’m still experiencing, despite heading the album a good half-dozen times.
What ‘Mother of Millions’ does really well is a showcase that Reber is progressing in his craft. He isn’t standing still, he’s trying to push himself, and us, to hitherto uncharted places. It also helps that the synth work is glorious and the melodies he creates are captivating. (NR)
––– Address: http://tobiasreber.com
DAS B - CANOPY (CD by Tonot)
Have you ever been walking through a wood and just stopped and listened? Just sat on a log, bench or on the grass and just listened. At first, you can’t hear anything except the wind in the nearest bushes, but as the silence envelopes you, you being to hear things you couldn’t before. Animals moving leaves and twigs underfoot. The distant sound of leaves billowing on a zephyr and other people enjoying being in some wood. These feelings are true of ‘Canopy’. Throughout its 40-minute duration the more you listen the more you hear.
Now, this isn’t meant to be all profound or anything, it's common sense really, but when you set aside time to immerse yourself in ‘Canopy’ you really are giving yourself a proper thrill. The line-up of Mazen Kerbaj on trumpet, Mike Majkowski on double bass, Magda Mayas on piano and Tony Buck on percussion is glorious. What makes this a singular experience is when they change the roles of the instruments. The trumpet sounds like percussion, the drums do melodies, the piano sets the rhythm, and harmonies flow from the double bass. Just listen to ‘Canopy’, the 35-minute epic that opens the album. It’s all there. The playing is fluid, but with hints of the extensive training, each player had on their instrument.
The cover of ‘Canopy’ is made up of dozens of pictures of leaves. Yes, the leaves look like wallpaper at Oliver Bonas or a twee section of Habitat, but Alia, Mazen and Nour Kerbaj’s design work really goes with the music. It ties into the title and the feeling of walking through a wood and looking up. The tops of the trees move to and fro in the breeze, but they also begin to sway due to our perspective. As we tilt our head back and look left and right the trees appear to grow taller by the second. This plays into the gentle, swirling nature of the music.
Yes, parts of the album don’t work as well as they should and there are a few bits where the players totally miss the mark, but overall, it’s a pretty fun listening experience. Fun is not normally something you associate with improvised music but there is a feeling of joy to these recordings. People playing for love, trying to anticipate each-others next move. When it works, oh, does it work! (NR)
––– Address: https://tawpot.bandcamp.com/album/canopy
PORTRAITS (CD compilation by Unexplained Sounds Group)
The three-way compilation is a compilation form I actually like, especially if the three projects/musicians get the space a CD allows; well, twenty minutes each. Here we have three Italian composers, each granted four pieces. I had only heard of Danielle Ciullini before; he recently released a work after a long time of silence and first heard on releases by Trax (Vital Weekly 1254). There are short biographies on the cover of the CD, to pique your further interests. The CD starts with the quartet of pieces by Gabriele Gasparotti, the youngest of the three. He "composes electroacoustic music on analogue instruments". In his music drones play certainly a role, generated from mainly guitars, but also effects or keyboards and throughout there is quite some variation to be noted. The music is a bit dark, quite spacious, with a touch of cosmic music. Sometimes a bit too freaky, but that gives it also a free-spirited edge.
The next four pieces are by Mario Lino Stancati (1981), who is an actor, director, playwright, poet, musician and composer. I believe the guitar plays an important role, next to voices, but a fair share of the legwork here is done using electronic processing. It might be his work with theatre that prompted him to add this vocal stuff (not in all pieces), which, for me, adds a bit of a gothic edge to the music. Perhaps, so I thought, this is something of an Italian tradition, along the lines of Ain Soph (especially in 'Magma Crecia'). His music certainly is touched by a darker force of a mytikal origin, as I am sure this should be spelt.
The final four are by Daniele Ciullini, knows for his work with Trax in the 80s. In his pieces he works with massive ambient passages, maybe derived from heavily processed field recordings, versus otherwise heavily treated acoustic sounds, reminiscent from the world of musique concrčte. Curiously, his four pieces sound like one long collage of music, with the odd start and stop cues. Strictly personally speaking I was most fond of his work from these three, even when I enjoyed much of the others too. The way Ciullini worked with various musical interests I enjoyed a lot. (FdW)
––– Address: https://unexplainedsoundsgroup.bandcamp.com/
I WILL KILL CHITA & WZM - LOGBOOK OF THE ARK (CD by Arsenic Solaris)
From a whole bundle of CDs from Russia, mostly with various degrees of alternative rock music for which this publication is not equipped, I lifted this one for myself. I have no idea who these bands/projects are, but apparently, this was recorded in 2015 (the release is from 2019, let's pretend I didn't see that) live in Zweibrucken "by Chita, Dron, Tyoma, Koljunia, Dominik and Niki", but who belongs to which group, I don't know. This too, one could say, is from the world of guitar music, but of all things atmospheric, where ambient meets doom meets improvisation. There are two lengthy pieces on this CD, of which the opening piece, 'Flood' is the shortest and yet still some twenty-six minutes. Here we have an all-guitar party, I would think. Layering drones upon drones, some playing shorter phrases and others going for the long loop. Slowly it builds towards a massive crescendo, in a fine Godspeed You Black Emperor sort of way, and it cuts out abruptly. 'The Only Passenger On Board' is eight minutes longer than the first piece and uses more instrument. Maybe some is playing very abstract percussion here, along with a keyboard player and a trumpet with mucho delay and reverb on the instrument, and it starts to build quickly towards a bundle of noise, but then slowly dies out, with each of the players seeming to become quiet. Percussion towards the end indicates the presence of a drummer and while this is all a tad too long for my taste, I quite enjoyed this sort of lengthy post-post rock ambient music quite a bit. It evokes good memories of concerts of such music some fifteen or more years ago. (FdW)
––– Address: https://arsenicsolaris.bandcamp.com/
SM/DP - COMPLEX FEEDBACK FACTORS (CD by Neko Records)
SM/DP - PLASMASYNTHESIS (LP by Huge Bass)
CURTIS ROADS/TODD BARTON (CD by Neko Records)
Tow new releases from the Finnish duo SM/DP, which stands for Marko Surosa and Penti Dassum, of whom I reviewed a work quite some time ago (Vital Weekly 1123). They call their music 'electronic contamination music', but you could also say this is computer music. The LP is from last winter, and the CD was just released. There are overlaps as well as differences. They use a wide range of computer tools, GRM tools, Hourglass, Reaktor, Soundgrain (no doubt also other stuff) and in their approach, they connect with the world of 'serious' composing. However, I would think that in the approaches of SM/DP there is room for freedom of choice, not bound by any laws of composition. This duo might just as easily tap into the rich field of live electronics and work according to principles of improvised music. The differences between the CD and the LP are mainly in the length of the various pieces; the LP has four longer ones, whereas the eight on the CD are throughout a bit (but not much) shorter. Another difference is that on the CD there seems to be more processing of acoustic sounds in a sort of musique concrete-kind of fashion, whereas on the LP these sounds are spun out and have an ambient feeling. However, all of these differences are quite small. Much of these two releases reminded me of the early laptop music movement, with live sampling and cracked INA-GRM tools; the sort of thing that made Mego big, Fennesz, Tu'm and many others in that slipstream. In the hands of SM/DP it all returns, now a bit darker but essentially along similar lines. A mash-up of old school musique concrete and do it yourself laptop technology. It was bound to return one day. I think it's great to hear again.
Penti Dassum is also the man behind Neko Records, who re-issued a 2016 cassette by Curtis Roads. and Todd Barton, two composers of electronic music, and as such established names in their field, although I admit I know more of Roads than of Barton, and I am not sure I heard a lot of music by either. Roads is a man for much of the software used by the likes of SM/DP, but here he returns to the world of analogue technology; function generators and a tape recorder with variable speed control. Talking about some ancient methods. It all deals with the output going back into the input, resulting in a lovely mixed up pattern of feedback sounds and a pleasant excursion in a somewhat rough noisy field. Todd Barton has three pieces here, using the Buchla 200e Electric Music Box and the Buchla Music Easel; in one piece he uses sounds from Curtis Roads piece. Barton is not really a noise musician in these pieces, and rather goes for some gentle sonic treatments of modulated tones, especially on 'Intersections' and 'Evolvings', already very classic sounding titles, at least in the world of modern electronic music, and these sound from the very same world. Lovely stuff. In 'Three Bursts', Barton with the sound material from Roads and does that in less gently than in the other two pieces, but with some fine elegance all the same, and make a fine tribute to the original. An excellent trio of new music releases. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.umpio.com/nekorekords/
––– Address: https://smdp.bandcamp.com/album/plasmasynthesis
PAUL CHAIN - IS DEATH VOLUME 1 (2LP by Horn Of Plenty)
Writing reviews for a long time made me sceptical about the stuff I read that comes to me, via liner notes and press texts. I had not heard of Paul Chain, also known as Paolo Catena, from Italy before, and his bio sounded like a lot of bullshit. However, it seems real. He started in 1977 with Steve Sylvester in a heavy metal outfit Death SS and in 1984 he went solo as Paul Chain, until April 5, 2003, when he announced that "Paul Chain Is Death"; death in the artistic sense that is. Since then, he works under different names and since 2013 as Paolo Catena. The interesting text reads about hard rock, avant-punk and doom metal bands, psychedelic rock and minimal synth music, but only the last three seem to apply to his solo work. The pieces on this double album are from various of his releases up to 1998, with the oldest being 1981, and that is 'Tetri Teschii In Luce Viola', a piece he recorded with Claud Galley on bass and Thomas Hand Chaste on drums. In all of these, the element of psychedelica shines through. The music is lengthy and spacious, taking its time to set a course and not to distract from the course it takes. The music is dark and ominous, best exemplified in 'Domino', the side-long piece that closes this set. This is a dark synthscape, an organ on a spaceship, majestically going through the sky. A few pieces use vocals, (in 'Get Down' and 'Hypnosis'), half-sung, half-spoken, with a bit of an occult streak to it. The church organ that opens 'Tetri Teschii In Luce Viola' is another sign of such occultism, I think, along with the Latin (?) words that speed up sound in this piece. Sometimes Chain's music is on the minimal side, with not much variation, and it seems as if he doesn't know how to end a piece (or, maybe, doesn't want it to end). It all sounds quite Italian to me, a bit of obscure, a bit krautrock, psychedelica and that vaguely gothic sauce sprinkled on top of it. There is throughout variation in these pieces, from big fat guitar drones to some careful strumming of strings, from the steady tick of a rhythm machine to moody synthesizer soundscapes. I never heard of the man or his music, but all the same, I enjoyed it very well. Let's hope for a volume 2 soon! (FdW)
––– Address: https://horn-of-plenty.bandcamp.com/music
DAVID DUNN - VERDANT (CDR by Neuma Records)
PHILIP BLACKBURN - JUSTINIAN INTONATIONS (CDR by Neuma Records)
PAMELA Z - A SECRET CODE (CD by Neuma Records)
AGNESE TONIUTTI - SUBTLE MATTERS (CD by Neuma Records)
Four new releases from the home of Neuma Records, all of which are, to some extent, part of the world of electro-acoustic music. I started with David Dunn, simply because it is a name I remember from before, but I am not sure how much of his earlier work I heard; somewhere in the back of my mind, I think it was about field recordings. His piece 'Verdant' is seventy-eight minutes long, and it uses field recordings from his backyard in Santa Fe, New Mexico, bird mostly, but feeding through a variety of computer processing, so it all becomes highly abstract and ambient. It works like watching highways with various overpasses, an intersection. There is a constant stream of cars, and it changes all the same and at the same time, and at the same time, it all seems to stay the same. It is the sort of minimalism that constantly changes; superficially it might be the same thing, but it is not. This is the kind of music that needs this kind of length, just like last week's Alfa00 release, with which this shares a similar approach, although Dunn's work is more electronic. It changes when the field recordings increase or decrease (or so it seems) and is best enjoyed on a long sunny afternoon, on repeat, and at a medium volume. I can imagine this being a great app too, in which the user can decide on a few parameters and when started it will slowly alter these parameters and will continuously change in a similar slow mode. Excellent!
The next one is by Philip Blackburn was a scholar from Cambridge and on his new CD, he explores the acoustic test tones as played in ancient cisterns beneath Istanbul and stretched these, mixing them with the voice of Ryland Angel. The album is named after Justinian, the emperor who caught the plague and recovered (this was in 542 AD) and 'intonations' is a way of singing. The album opens with the short piece 'Out Beyond', in which Angel's voice sings in a sort of religious way, along with some sounds such as footsteps and conch shells. It reminded me of some of Controlled Bleeding's Byzantine work. The other piece is the title piece, the time stretching from the test tones, so I assume via the use of some granular synthesis thing this is all stretched out into a massive drone thing that lasts fifty minutes. On one occasion I heard a bit of Angel's voice in here (but maybe there are more?), which connected both pieces. This is not something I had not heard before, but it is a highly powerful piece of drone music. It works as ambient music but has this odd religious/raga undercurrent; perhaps I am reading too much into this? For people who love Stephan Mathieu or post-2000 The Hafler Trio, this is something you need to check out.
I heard of Pamela Z before as well, but I believe only once, one on a compilation. Z works primarily with her voice, live electronic processing, sampled sound, and video; the latter not included here. She uses digital processing and "wireless MIDI controllers that allow her to manipulate sound with physical gestures". I am not sure to what extent the text plays a role here; some pieces seem to suggest that quite a bit, but others not, or a lesser extent. I enjoyed a piece such as 'Unknown Person' (from Baggage Allowance)', which is about customs asking you about your luggage and other people's voice with responses. Some of these pieces act as small radioplays, while others a more akin to miniature operas; the latter not being among my favourites. However, the small radio plays I really enjoyed, reminding me of Laurie Anderson, but perhaps more electronic, and even more centred around Pamela Z.'s voice; or Gregory Whitehead (whatever became of him?). I especially enjoyed such as 'He Says Yes' or the three parts of the 'Timepiece Triptych' and the aforementioned 'Unknown Person'. Throughout, a highly enjoyable and varied release, and one that may serve as an introduction to her work.
The final new release is by Agnese Toniutti, who graduated from the Conservatory of Udine, which is also the place where Massimo and Giancarlo Toniutti live, so maybe there is a relation? As a pianist, she plays works by Giancinto Scelsi, John cage, Giancarlo Cardini and Fluxus composers Philip Corner and Dick Higgins. On this CD she performs a four-part work by Lucia Dlugosszewski, a piece by Tan Dun and four pieces by Corner. From the four new Nouma releases, this is the one that is, perhaps, the one that is closest to the world of modern classical music. Toniutti plays the keyboard as well as the inside of the piano, sometimes with a bow; in the four parts of Dlugosszewski this is a most prominent feature, and occasionally comes very close to electro-acoustic music (in some cases I thought of early Nurse With Wound). Tan Dun's piece didn't do much for me, I am afraid. Corner's pieces I quite enjoyed as well, a toy piano is played in one, always nice to hear one, and Corner's graphic scores have many possibilities for Toniutti to interpret them and use her extended techniques. A most wonderful release of modern music and of which I sadly not too well versed in to say more sensible things. (FdW)
––– Address: https://neumarecords.org/
TAKUMA WATANABE - LAST AFTERNOON (CDR by Constructive)
In recent times, I notice a shift in music received at Vital Weekly. More and more this is the terrain of modern classical music and improvised music, and I assume this is because this might be one of the last musical fields that actually release music on CD and have a budget to promote that. I am not sure if this is the world we can serve best, however. Time will tell. Here we have a release by Takuma Watanabe, a composer from Japan, "where he composes for a film using a string ensemble founded by himself" and this is his first release. In his music, he uses his string quartet in combination with computer-generated sound and in "which each player's performance and an effect processor react to each other". Furthermore, there are collaborations with Joan La Barbara and Akira Rabelais, each present on one track. The combination of string instruments and computer works fine here, each in a separate domain. Most of the time, the quartet sounds not so processed but in the title piece, for instance, it all leans very much to the time-stretched processing of the computer. In the piece with La Barabara, she sings carefully the words while slowly being accompanied by string sounds. This piece is almost in the middle of the release, marking a fine different point. The music of this nine-piece album is eerie and spacious, with long sustaining tones being played. Here too, the computer is quite effective to 'lengthen' some tones. The modern classical sound, mixed with computer-generated processing, works quite well. It retains that modern feel it has and yet also fits 'our' street quite well. Lovely stuff, even without any film to watch. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.constructivemusic.co.uk
PHILIP SANDERSON - NOT EVEN MY CLOSEST FRIENDS (cassette by Snatch Tapes)
Former Storm Bug Philip Sanderson has delivered some great music recent under his Christian name, as well as with other projects, such as Ice Yacht. I was particularly pleased with 'On One Of Those Bends' (Vital Weekly 1177), which was an excellent album of pop and some mild experiments. On this new tape, Sanderson goes out even further to what I call pop music; you may not agree, but that's fine. Here has ten tracks, thirty-three minutes, of keyboards, rhythm machines, sequencers and Sanderson's voice. This is not music for Vital Weekly at all, but boy, I love this. In many of these tracks, Philip Sanderson reminds me here of Sparks, especially in the way he sings, reminding me of Russel Mael, but also in his music he comes close to that of Sparks when they were at their most electronic. Not exactly with the same big electronic sounds, or big beats, but rather moody, at times jazzy songs. Small melodramatic pieces and sometimes Sanderson doubles his voice, just as Sparks do (and a lot more), adding weight to certain phrases. In 'Idol ferry', Sanderson mocks pop heroes and reminded me of 'Lighten Up Morrisey', from, you guessed, Sparks. This is some great music, excellent produced, humorous, dramatic, weird lyrics, but that was clear from the start of this review? And why isn't this on LP? (FdW)
––– Address: https://snatchtapes.bandcamp.com/
EMILIO BERNČ - NOIOSE (cassette by Dadaist Tapes)
This is my introduction to the music of Italian drummer Emilio Bernč, who works "with the idea of the extended sound of simulated glitch through the use of amplified strings and spinners on the electro-acoustic drum set combined with a no-input mixer", and as such his work is both rooted in the world of free improvisation and noise. He sometimes performs with Jean Francois Laporte, Gianni Gebbla and Betrand Gauget, or in duos as Burst and Ozon Zoon but 'Noioise' is his solo venture. Now, don't let the word noise distract you; this is noise, but not an overly loud variety. Bernč's drumming triggers electronics and the no-input mixer, I think (how it can be a no-input I don't know), and there is distortion. Bernč's drumming is very hectic, rattling at, I don't know 200 bpm, over his kit, and in the background, there is noise and distortion brewing. The drums sound rather 'small', I think, and also the noise is not over the top. If one is not used to this kind of music, one could use easily the word noise here, but then much of what Vital Weekly reviews, is the noise. The whole release is about twenty-two minutes and for me, that was enough. The A-side has six parts of 'Morricone' and the other three parts of 'Noioise'. Bernč made his point and does a fine job. There is very room for anything else. (FdW)
––– Address: https://dadaisttapes.bandcamp.com/
TERBIJN - ECO (cassette by Never Anything Records)
What do I know about Terbijn? Nothing. The music here was "recorded, mixed and mastered between 209 and 2020 in Berlin and London", but not who is behind the name Terbijn. Discogs has no information either, 'Eco' is listed as the only release. On Bandcamp, there are two tags for this release, 'experimental' and 'Seattle'. So, all attention must be on the music, I guess. There are ten pieces of music here, all about three to five minutes, and it is not easy to say what Terbijn does here. Among the various notes I made, there are words such as glitch and names such as Fennesz or Oval; guitars could be used here, but just as well modular synthesizers and/or laptop technology. Terbijn doesn't make things easy for the reviewer. It sounds like a lot of things, but it is not necessarily a blunt copy of things. It sounds like many things, but Terbijn has enough to offer that is unique for himself (?). There is quite some variety in these pieces, for instance, from percussive bits in 'Daidalos' to the glitches of 'Care', yet always with the underlying presence of one or more drones as that is what ties all of this together. Throughout, I also enjoyed the brief character of the pieces. Nothing is spun out too much, but within the time he (?) allows for his music, he sufficiently explores the various sounds in an interesting and engaging piece of music. Some could have been a bit longer and still be most enjoyable. Very nice, but a bit more information next time would be much appreciated. (FdW)
––– Address: https://neveranythingrecords.bandcamp.com/
ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION - AECPWMCTEP (cassette by Galloping Foxley Recordings)
From the US group Atomic Energy Commission, I reviewed a mini-LP (eight songs at 45 rpm) before (Vital Weekly 1238), which I wasn't too sure about at that time if it is something for the pages of Vital Weekly. That didn't stop the band from sending a new work my way. The Commission is a trio of Matthew Amundsen on drums and vocals, Tom Parsons on bass and vocals and David Foley on guitar. Again the pieces are short and to the point, around a two-and-half minute with one a bit longer. What also remained is that strange mixture of post-punk, improvisation, free jazz and noise and new seems the addition of sampling. As much as I have no idea what to write about this because much of this is outside my musical frame of reference, I must admit I enjoyed most of the music all the same. 'Cat Got Its Milk and Another', the longest track here, loses it for me because of its length. Some rhythm and guitar doodling, but nothing more. The A.E.C. are at their best when they are short and to the point, and that is what they are most of the time. With the massive amount of variety in these songs, one could easily think this is a compilation. The cassette has nine pieces on the first side, and the B-side is a 'physical only' bonus. I'd say this is the same material but in reverse, which suits the wacky character of the band. (FdW)
––– Address: https://atomicenergycommission.bandcamp.com