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LIMBS BIN - BURNT WHITE ELEPHANT (CD by Damien Records) *
JEAN MICHEL VAN SCHOUWBURG/ DOMINIC LASH/PHIL GIBBS - OVERLAPPING LAYERS (CD by Intrication) *
SVERDUP BALANCE - JEAN MICHEL VAN SCHOUWBURG/ YOKO MIURA/LAWRENCE CASSERLY - ARCTURUS (CD by FMP) *
CHARLOTTE KEEFFE – RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW (CD by Discus Music)
INCLUSION PRINCIPLE – THE 4, THE 8, THE 10 (CD by Discus Music)
THE BLIZZARD SOW - FOGGY SONGS FOR THE FIRST PERIODS (CD by Exklagato) *
CHRISTIAN RONN & BOB BELLERUE - INTOKU INVERSIONS (CD by Nische/Anarchymoon Recordings) *
STIRFRY - ELECTROACOUSTIC IMPROVISATIONS (CD by Vision Of Sound) *
THOMAS ANKERSMIT – PERCEPTUAL GEOGRAPHY (CD on Shelter Press) *
LAURENT SAïET AND GUESTS – AFTER THE WAVE (CD TrAce Records) *
JOSEPH BEUYS – BEUYS LACHT (10” by Edition Staeck/Steidl)
LIMINAL HAZE - VOLUME 4 (cassette by Important Drone Records) *
PHILIP SULIDAE - BROEKAS (cassette by Important Drone Records) *
NICOLAS MALONEY - AN INFLUX OF LINEARITY (cassette by Important Drone Records) *
CARNEDD AUR - BEETLES (cassette by Superpolar Taips) *
STICHFLAMME DORMAGEN - IHRE MEINUNG IST UNS WICHTIG (cassette by Superpolar Taips) *
LIMBS BIN - BURNT WHITE ELEPHANT (CD by Damien Records)
The two previous releases by Limbs Bin were not reviewed by me (1167 and 1254), but I did hear both of these releases. They were noisy, maybe too noisy for my taste, but I also enjoyed the fresh approach to noise. I inspected this one and was, again, surprised but, perhaps, for different reasons. Curious, most curious, this one. There are twenty-five pieces, in just eighteen minutes; there is the opening piece of nearly five minutes and then two pieces over two minutes; the rest is between twelve and fifty-seven seconds. So far, so good. I expected noise and I didn't get it, not at the start anyway. 'Wormholes And Megaliths', the opening piece here, is the longest here, and it contains what I think is a field recording of a shopping mall at night with a desolate saxophone player piping his stuff (I was thinking of the film 'Subway Riders') so we move away from him and wander around the empty mall with our shopping cart. A moody piece, no noise. The next nine pieces are very short bursts of feedback noise and vocals, with lyrics enclosed. Oddly enough, these seem to be separate pieces of music and yet also connected. These two or three minutes are intense, and we land on 'Van Deusenville Railroad Blues', another moody, obscure piece of field recordings of, you guessed, sounds from a railroad. Then another nine pieces of unrelenting noise, before 'From One Atom To Another' appears, and this time the field recordings are so obscure that I gave up; we might be hearing the sound of an atom, indeed. You'd expect nine more noise songs, but there are seven. It ends with a short field recording of 'Harry Bids You Goodnight', the sound of someone sleeping. This is surely one of the stranger noise releases in quite some time, totally fresh approach and totally alien in one way and totally at home in another way. At eighteen minutes, the perfect length for such a blast. (FdW)
––– Address: https://damienrecords666.bandcamp.com/
JEAN MICHEL VAN SCHOUWBURG/ DOMINIC LASH/PHIL GIBBS - OVERLAPPING LAYERS (CD by Intrication)
SVERDUP BALANCE - JEAN MICHEL VAN SCHOUWBURG/ YOKO MIURA/LAWRENCE CASSERLY - ARCTURUS (CD by FMP)
Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg is a self-taught vocal improviser from Belgium, operating in the scene of Brussels (Inaudible, etc.) and developed his own techniques and style over the years. He performed and recorded with Jean Demey & Kris Vanderstraeten (Sureau), John Russell, Lawrence Casserley (MouthWind), Sabu Toyozumi, Marcello Magliocchi & Matthias Boss, Adam Bohman, Zsolt Sörès, etc. Listening to his vocal work on these two new releases, I had to think of performers like Phil Minton and Thomas Buckner. Sverdup Balance first. This is an international trio Van Schouwburg with Lawrence Casserley (signal processing instrument) and Yoko Miura (piano, melodeon). Casserley has a background in academic electroacoustic music and worked for many years as a Professor at the Royal College of Music in London. Since the mid-90s he started to perform with improvising musicians and became best known as a member of the Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. Miura is a pianist and composer from Tokyo. Since 2013 Miura performs a lot outside of Japan, performing mainly with European-based improvisers. In their collaboration as Sverdup Balance the trio debuted in 2018 with ‘Isla Deceptión’ (Setola di Maiale), containing live recordings from a concert in Belgium in 2018. Their new album ‘Arcturus’ is likewise compiled of live recordings. This time taken from diverse concerts in 2019 that took place in Italy, Belgium and the UK. Casserly manipulates the acoustic contributions by Miura and van Schouwburg in real-time. However, not in a way that voice and piano completely disappear in his processing. Voice and piano remain prominent and recognizable in their acoustic qualities, participating with the electronics of Casserly as a third ingredient. Miura plays in a less or more style, providing the radical improvisations with a poetic and even romantic feel. With ‘Overlapping Layers’ we meet van Schouwburg in another trio lineup with Dominic Lash on double bass and Phil Gibbs on guitar. We recently spoke of Lash here, presenting three releases from his Spoonhunt-label. Phil Gibbs is just like van Schouwburg a self-taught musician. As a guitarist, he developed his own style and vocabulary since the 80s. Although he is operating as an improvising musician for some decades now and has worked a lot in projects of saxophonist Paul Dunmall. As a trio, they take inspiration from the abstract painting ‘Overlapping Layers’ by Hungarian painter Sándor Györffy. All three perform in a very distinct and individual style, moving from contrasting to converging operations. I enjoyed the characteristic playing by Gibbs. Both albums are very worthwhile for learning more about these excellent but lesser-known musicians, operating in trio-format with unusual instrumentation. Especially a good opportunity to become familiar with the varied and expressive performance by Van Schouwburg. (DM)
––– Address: https://labelintrication.wixsite.com/label
––– Address: http://fmr-records.com/
CHARLOTTE KEEFFE – RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW (CD by Discus Music)
Trumpeter Charlotte Keeffe is a passionate musician operating in the contexts of improvisation, experimental music and jazz in the UK. So far you can know her from her collaboration with the Mopomoso Workshop Group, the London Improvisers Orchestra and Martin archer’s Anthropology Ensemble. Recently she made noteworthy contributions to another project of Martin Archer, the ‘Hi-Res heart’ album. This performance makes her debut album a logical and hoped-for next step. The nine works on ‘Right here, right now’ give a nice overview of her activity. The CD counts two solo improvisations and one duo improvisation with Diego Sampieri on guitar. Three live recordings of her quartet with Moss Freed (guitar), Ben Handysides (drums) and Ashley John Long (double bass) is presented. Also, the CD offers two improvisations with the London Improvisers Orchestra. In both solo improvisations ‘The Melody’s In The Post’, ‘Noizemaschin!!’ practises live electronic treatment. In ‘Noizemaschin’ she plays with reverb, and ‘The Melody’s In The Post’ embed her playing in a surreal environment. The duo improvisation ‘Om’ with Sampieri is an impressive melodic and ethereal improvisation demonstration fine interplay between the two. Very captivating. The three improvisations by her quartet give an impression of what her quartet is about. Melody-based improvisations that sound very fresh and engaging, with fine playing by Freed on electric guitar. The London Improvisers Orchestra is a large ensemble focused on free and conducted improvisation. On ‘To Steve Beresford’ and the title track, Keeffe is listed for ‘conduction’, meaning directing and conducting the ensemble. In the case of the title track, this results in a spaced-out improvisation going through different sections. ‘Mysterious Breath/This One’s For The Beas’ has muted trumpet playing by Keeffe in a sound exploration with the involvement of many musicians, plus an important role for electronics, more than in the other two improvisations from this impressive collective. The album offers a varied collection of adventurous improvisations in different constellations. Underlining that Keeffe is a multi-sided, very inventive and inspired musician. (DM)
––– Address: https://discusmusic.bandcamp.com/
INCLUSION PRINCIPLE – THE 4, THE 8, THE 10 (CD by Discus Music)
Inclusion Principle is a duo of Martin Archer and Hervé Perez. They started performing in 2006 and have released several CDs so far. Live recordings are available on their own Bandcamp site. Their project is dedicated to combining electronics and electro-acoustic music, jazz and improvisation. This new recording appears after a five-year silence and has Archer playing sopranino, soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet, flute, recorder, chimes, organ, electric piano, synths, software instruments. Hervé is responsible for field recordings, sound design, beat, keys programming. With this broad set of acoustic and electronic instruments, they combine improvisation with ambient and sound-based textures, resulting in an album of eight tracks. The first five titles all have rhythm or pulse driven episodes combined with free-floating textures and solo or duo improvising on saxophone. Opening track ‘A Dark Night Ahead of Us’ opens with sensitive saxophone-playing by Archer and Perez, accompanied by sparse field recordings of bird calls etc. Halfway, an electronic rhythmic structure is introduced that intensifies the piece. ‘Intermediate Space’ starts as an open spacy soundscape with sparse rhythm-induced sections. In the second part, saxophones add a melodic element that completes the picture. The last three tracks make up one work: ‘Ornament of Light’. The second part I liked most. It has Archer playing the flute, calling from a distance in a thin and spacious ambient ambience. Near the end, things change into a hectic and dynamic rhythm-based finale. Personally, I’m always a bit ambiguous about projects like these, that are about combining ambient with improvisation. Often they lead to organically and comfortable sounding exercises that do not harm nor bring excitement. In this case, however, one can trace the spirit of exploration. Two experienced musicians who seek to connect different languages, leading up to an album with very worthwhile moments. (DM)
––– Address: https://discusmusic.bandcamp.com/
THE BLIZZARD SOW - FOGGY SONGS FOR THE FIRST PERIODS (CD by Exklagato)
Sometimes you get sent things for review that don’t do it for you. This is down to the music and your mood at the time. ‘Foggy Songs for the First Periods’ is sadly one of these albums. While listening to it there was very little I engaged with. This isn’t to say it's bad, it probably isn’t, but it just wasn’t for me.
The music was OK, and the lyrics seemed heartfelt, but also felt clunky. While I understand that 51-minutes isn’t that long for an album, it did feel much longer in places.
I will say this, however. I really enjoyed the way everything sounded. The attention to detail to all the facets of the recordings was sublime. You really got to appreciate just what a labour of love ‘Foggy Songs for the First Periods’ was to create. I just didn’t care for the end result.
If this is something that you really liked, get in touch and tell me what I was missing. I had high hopes for this album, as I enjoyed 2004’s ‘Baagoy Music’. That album was full of inventive motifs and clever wordplay. It made me want to check out more things like it. Be that recorded or live performances. This might have actually hurt my listening enjoyment of ‘Foggy Songs for the First Periods’.
Who knows, maybe down the line I’ll try this again and really fall for it, but for now, I’m glad that this review is written and I can move onto something else. (NR)
––– Address: email@example.com
CHRISTIAN RONN & BOB BELLERUE - INTOKU INVERSIONS (CD by Nische/Anarchymoon Recordings)
If you are looking for an album that is dynamic and full of movement, ‘Intoku Inversions’ might not be for you. The opening drone of ‘Intoku Inversions 1’ is pretty much what to expect for the whole album. Don’t get me wrong, It's pretty great. Everything has a wonderfully elongated vibe to it. The notes just sustain and sustain. The shimmering tones underneath feel luminescent and the throbbing bass could be devastating if played on the right sound system, but variety, there is little.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Too often, musicians rush to get to what they perceive to be the ‘good stuff’. However, they sometimes miss the point. The point isn’t the ‘good stuff’ but how you get there. ‘Intoku Inversions’ is effectively build up. Yes, there are ‘peaks’. You could claim that around the halfway point on ‘Intoku Inversions 1’ is that Ronn and Bellerue have been getting too, and after that, it’s a nine-minute outro. Or you could say that after eight minutes of consent drone, Ronn and Bellerue have had enough of this and want to try something different. Either way, you end up at the same point. The glorious drone has ended. It is replaced with the sound of feedback, scratchy metal and audio detritus. There is something playful in this section that was absent from the beginning. They are experimenting a bit more. Showing their curiosity at combining contrasting sounds and motifs. ‘Intoku Inversions 2’ starts like the opener, but there is more movement of sound. The drones feel like they have a purpose. It isn’t an exercise in seeing how long something can last before they need to change it. This is partly because the feedback is more prominent. It is used like an instrument, rather than an afterthought, as it was on the opening track. It is both rich and lithe and is the backbone of the track.
This is not the album to play if you are in a rush to do something. It won’t work. You’ll get frustrated either at our lack of time or the music inability to get to the point quickly. Instead, the album is better suited for when you have time on your hands. This way you can get lost in the drones.
––– Address: https://nische.bandcamp.com/
STIRFRY - ELECTROACOUSTIC IMPROVISATIONS (CD by Vision Of Sound)
The best thing about ‘Electroacoustic Improvisations’ is when the horns sound like the world is ending. It's monumental. Everything around them gets droned out by these gargantuan blasts. Then as soon as it’s started it’s over. The sounds that were previously eclipsed reappear and Stirfry carry on their merry way. But what did we expect from Stirfry?
Consisting of Colin Brady on percussion, Dave Pullin on soprano and sopranino saxophones and Simon Vincent on piano, synthesizer and live electronics, this trio was active between 1993 and 1996 before moving on to other projects, but these recordings feel like they could have been recorded anytime in the past 50-years. They are playful, delicate, angry and, most importantly, breath-taking. There is a freeness to the songs that are seldom heard, and even less frequently recorded. The album was either lost or forgotten, for 25-years until Vision of Sound Records decided now was the time for it to be heard. And for that, we should be grateful.
The interplay on ‘VI’ is glorious. None of the players oversteps their mark, but they deliver forthright performances. Pullin’s horns have a melancholy tone to them, but there is also a seething rage. Vincent’s synth work has a 70s BBC sci-fi quality to it, taking you to other worlds, but Brady’s percussion is devastating. You never quite know what he’s hitting. At times, it sounds like the side of a washing machine being dragged. Others it’s the tinkering of milk bottles, and then there’s that gong. Oh yeah, that gong. Combined, it all goes to create a disjointed soundscape, or is that soundscrape, that you can get lost in. Sometimes you are frantically looking for a way out and others you are happy to be lost, but it always envelops you. Protecting you from the outside world.
At its heart, ‘Electroacoustic Improvisations’ is a fun album that showcases the talents of three musicians. But really it's about trust. Brady, Pullin and Vincent trusted each other completely to allow themselves to go off wherever they needed to on each track. So, give in. Trust Stirfry and get lost in a wonderful album that is finally getting the praise it deserves. (NR)
––– Address: http://vision-of-sound.com/
THOMAS ANKERSMIT – PERCEPTUAL GEOGRAPHY (CD on Shelter Press)
“Please play loud and use speakers, not headphones”, so we learn from a notification on the latest release by Dutch master composer and Serge experimentalist Thomas Ankersmit. Admittedly, the ‘warning’ makes total sense, since the aurally geographic element in this collection of sound artistic research compositions with the Serge Modular synthesizer, dedicated to Maryanne Amacher (1938 – 2009) is of tantamount importance. Moving through sound, moving sound, sound in space, spatial projections… Sound here, there, everywhere – outside, via, through, inside the ear, cochlea, eardrum: the sound made physical, sonic emotions, aural impression, literally deeply felt.
Stephen O’Malley adheres to the logic of maximum volume yielding maximum results, working with layers of droning amplifiers and a massive amount of distortion or feedback. And he is utterly right. The results he is after – also physically – can only be found with and in mass amplification and tremendous sound pressure levels. In Ankersmit’s works, these levels were pretty much not the order of the day for quite a while. Insert here the profound surprise when he performed in Berlin’s HAU during CTM Festival and projected sound fields and aural masses through the space of the theatre at massive volume. Or was it?
It surely felt as if steel plates we know from sculptures by Richard Serra were invisible but extremely well audibly pushed through the venue. When you’d tilt your head a bit sideways, the thing seemed quiet – move back, and you were hit by thundering volume, mass, depth and awe-inspiring ‘power’. A force not emanating from the PA per se, but a combined effort from the speakers output serving as input for the ears and the workings of the inner ear producing Tartini tones: combination tones and de facto loud resonances inside your ear, inescapable. Also: your ears then producing the maximum or maximalist volume then and there, themselves.
Since then, I’ve wondered if this meant the performance must have been quite an individually varied experience for each of the hundreds of listeners. I can imagine the physical aspect of each of our inner ears differs quite a bit, perhaps leading to more or less of the ‘moving steel plate’ notion, more or less ‘maximum volume’. Maybe even louder experiences or higher pitches, lower rumbles or less impact? One lady in a row near me left some ten minutes into the performance, physically ill with nausea; as I heard later, her sense of equilibrium was sent into a tailspin because of Ankersmit’s sound projections. Others recalled a sense of slowly moving waves or intense claustrophobia.
Now, with the sound art installations of the late Maryanne Amacher the visitor could also, in a way and a sense, put together a particular course of one’s own, a route through aurally delineated space. The artist put together a tightly planned choir or orchestra of speakers and sound-emitting objects, with continuous sounds in interplay or dissonance. Think of a large PA sub erupting all of a sudden while you are on the other side of the venue, with your ear pressed to a small radio speaker to hear the most minutely detailed sound, and everything in between in play, played by the carefully constructed symphony of sound and space, that brings into co-resonant play the very building itself even. And it is also quite obvious that although it is very welcome some of Amacher’s works have been preserved and released on cd, the experience of her works in situ trumps a ‘simple’ stereo projection. It somehow feels a bit like seeing a painting by Ellsworth Kelly or Barnett Newman through reproduction in a book; a reduction of some meters of the intense colour field back to mere centimetres.
Brandon LaBelle writes (in Background Noise, 2006): “[…] the work of Maryanne Amacher shifts attention from standing waves and the acoustics of airborne sound to that of structural vibration. […] From early works using telephone lines to relocate live sound from one location to another to music performances staged across a dispersed environment, and to her interest in sound phenomena and the activation of heightened listening experiences […] her focus is led to a deeper concern for architecture and geographic location”. Or, finally, to quote the sound artist herself: “In regular music, you don’t have any models to learn about spatial aspects because usually the performers are on stage or the music’s on a record, and you don’t really hear things far away, and you don’t hear things close-up, and you don’t hear nothings, and you don’t hear things appearing and disappearing and all these kinds of shapes that emerge from this.”
And it is exactly this ‘tone of place’, these shapes just mentioned, the things and the nothings which have concerned Ankersmit in his experiments with the Serge Modular synthesizer for the past years – invoking a sense of space, of place and location (or lack thereof) too – of being in the tones of space by creating high-intensity levels of energy, yielding the result of the whole structure sounding. To quote LaBelle once again, writing on Amacher, but this equally applies to Ankersmit’s practice: “a sound environment that was more energy than sound, more body than ear. […] For in this sense, space comes to actively inhabit the body.” QED in the HAU in Berlin during CTM 2014.
There are more tangents and direct aspects linking Amacher and Ankersmit, so he recounts in the lengthy conversation with Serge Techerepnin printed in the booklet that comes with this cd: “[…] and she was like “Oh, you should check out the Serge!” […] Maryanne led me to the Serge originally.” The Serge which has been the staple weapon of choice for Ankersmit, leads the way on this record into his reflections on or extrapolations of “the most memorable sonic experiences” he ever head, “hearing [Amacher’s] work live, more or less the way she imagined it, it had a big impact on me.”
With Perceptual Geography Ankersmit nomen est omen. He maps out sound characters for our ears, making the third ear, tuning the space or building and place. All sounds emit (or erupt at times) from the Serge, although one’d be forgiven to infer field recordings or samples here or there. Glissando tones, difference tone-drone and bursts of noise invoke dimensionalities beyond the standard speaker set-up stereo projection. And one gets the sense, the listener, as much as Ankersmit himself is let loose to find her/his way into this aural mist, trying to find narrative or musical footing perhaps or, even more often, abandoning those notions and, indeed, pretty much matter-of-factly, being in the sound, with the sounds. Like being sound.
Ankersmit draws upon his long experimental experience with Serge, his musical undertakings in duet with Phill Niblock and perceptual insights from working with otoacoustic emission and difference tones to foster a sculptural and architectural sound artwork which totally does away with notions of here, there, above and beyond. A sculpturality which is all-encompassing: a form of aural art manifesting somewhere in the speakers, in the ear of the listener and in-between all at once – filling space, sound becoming space and space turned sound.
Therewith Ankersmit not only maps sound and sound characters, he redraws our (textural) idea of the map of perception(s), and in doing so, a landscape of the inverse is being drawn up too, for this geography impacts our senses as much as our perceptual apparatus tries to make sense of and literally lay out not only the geographical landscape of Ankersmit’s work, but of itself, per se. This is all the more relevant and impressive when piercing beeping tones that would normally bring about a state of alertness, here function on a non-emotional level, teasing out massive Tartini-tones effects. A clarion call for high-intensity deep dive hearing pushed into listening, pushed into uncharted territory.
And then you find yourself – like the aforementioned Serra wants you to navigate his sculptures: “thinking on your feet” – walking around the living room, up to a speaker and away – in a straight line to an in-between point, turning your back and moving back into a sideways position, standing next to a clean wall or – on purpose – a pleated curtain, cupping your ears or opening up: composing and recomposing with a body, head and ear. And space. Navigation of terra incognita, which changes with every play of this work. An ambitious incognita too, that keeps holding myriads of idiosyncratic promises of personal discovery and charged reconnaissance of art of the most involving sort. A phenomenology of sonic textures and attributes in space without generation, without peer, with the most deeply felt impact. Not only Ankersmit’s most accomplished work to date then, but a highlight in sound art for non-installation home use per se. (SSK)
––– Address: https://shelterpress.bandcamp.com/album/perceptual-geography
LAURENT SAïET AND GUESTS – AFTER THE WAVE (CD TrAce Records)
Recorded during the first lockdown in France, this is Laurent Saïet’s eighth album for TrAce records – capital A intended. After spending time as a band member in Begin Says and Zig Rag Orchestra, Saïet founded the TrAce-label in 1994 with French musical luminary Patrick Müller (yes, he of the amazing Ilitch – and if you don’t have any Ilitch albums yet in your collection, you should not hesitate to right the wrong!) and is currently a member of the Endlesston Trio. Over the past years, Saiët has released seven solo albums, featuring mostly cinematographic music, before recording After The Wave, for which he invited several luminaries from the musical ‘underground’ to participate. Those present and correct are Edward Ka-Spel (Legendary Pink Dots), Thierry Müller (Ilitch, and brother of), Paul Pecheron (Stamp), Ben Ritter (Begin Says) and Quentin Rollet (Nurse With Wound) who all put their musical stamp on Saïet’s mellotron, guitar and bass-featuring basic recordings. This diversity of input makes sure this 55-minute album is as dreamy as it rocks out. Opener Bypass, featuring Ka-Spel’s lyrics and vocals, would not have sounded out of place on a late 90s Pink Dots-album. His second contribution, From The Rocks, is more playful and features a lovely, haunting clarinet melody courtesy of Ben Ritter. Paul Pecheron adds jazzy drums on the track. His drumming is, to me, actually one of the main attractions of this album. It is good and refreshing to hear a live drummer! Tracks like The First Wave and Mambo Of The 21st Century display Saiët’s love for soundtracks – both tracks would work well as, say, an alternative soundtrack for Edward Norton’s 2019 Motherless Brooklyn movie (and if you haven’t seen that one yet, you should etc.). The more ‘psych-rock’ tracks, like The Second Wave and Hell Ride, with distorted guitars, are a welcome variation, but also seem somewhat out of place musically on this album. Ben Ritter sings on the gorgeous Lost On The Highway, a gloomy post-ambient track, much like the lovely Solar Eclipse, which has Thierry Müller on synthesizer and guitar. The final track 'After The Wave' is a beautiful ambient soundscape where Quinten Rollet’s sax works its magic. The album comes packed in a beautiful and colourful, 7”-sized fold-out cover featuring several dreamy renaissancey collages by Thierry Müller. As a whole, After The Wave falls comfortably in the middle of many genres; combining ambient, post-rock, soundtrack, jazz and experiment – managing not to get lost in itself, but rather emerge as a strong album with quite a few surprises. (FK)
––– Address: https://tracelabel.bandcamp.com/album/after-the-wave
JOSEPH BEUYS – BEUYS LACHT (10” by Edition Staeck/Steidl)
Artists in general, conceptual ones specifically, and those of Teutonic origin even more specifically are not necessarily associated with laughter. This is a shame since art has more to offer than highbrowed brows in expensive galleries. This 10-inch record puts its money where its mouth, literally, is - offering 20 minutes of Joseph Beuys’, one of the most important artists ever, laughter. Giving Beuys his rightful place in art and social history in a few lines in this review would not do him nor his works justice, so if you are interested, I strongly recommend a thorough browse on the internet. In 1974, Beuys went ‘on tour’ in America, lecturing about art and giving performances and workshops. The tour had been a controversial success – Beuys and controversy are irreversibly linked: his ideas on the democracy of art, ‘Everybody is an artist’, and his societal ideas were never far from criticism from the established art world. During the 1974 tour, all of Beuys’ performances, lectures, discussions and workshops were meticulously recorded on a then-revolutionary Sony TC-50 portable cassette recorder. Listening to some of these tapes in the airplane on their way back, Beuys noted how much he had laughed: why not edit all this laughter into one track and release this as a ‘performance’ on record? Beuys was not unfamiliar with the concept: the recording of the spoken word performance ‘Ja ja ja ja ja nee nee nee nee nee’ had been released on LP only four years previously. The 1974 tapes, all 60 of them, were given to Siegfried Schäfer, a young German engineer, who spent several weeks working on delivering the 20-minute edit to be released on record. However, the master tape was lost, and the project was forgotten about. Until 46 years later, when the original tape was miraculously relocated. And now we have this, 20 very surreal minutes of Beuys laughing. It is intriguing that, as much as I value Beuys as an artist, I was unfamiliar with his laughter. On this disc, made in an edition of 2000 copies, Beuys laughs in short bursts, at times ending in a worrying cough – he smoked cigars a lot. The laughter is not infectious, it is not a roar directed at his company at the time, but more like an inward reflection of a situation. The surrounding atmosphere/environment, captured on the tapes, combined with Beuys’ oddly sinister laugh gives this album a surreal, but also somewhat uneasy, feel. With art, we tend to search for a meaning, a deeper, perhaps hidden, message the artist is trying to convey. This record has no meaning, it is simply here, and exactly what it says on the cover: ‘Beuys lacht’. A weird, oddly satisfying, but also unsettling listen. (FK)
––– Address: http://www.steidl.de
LIMINAL HAZE - VOLUME 4 (cassette by Important Drone Records)
PHILIP SULIDAE - BROEKAS (cassette by Important Drone Records)
NICOLAS MALONEY - AN INFLUX OF LINEARITY (cassette by Important Drone Records)
Doing releases in groups of three is a common thing for some labels. Important Drone Records from Spain, run by Calineczka, is such a label and this time around it is a trio of all familiar names, one more than the other. I started with the duo Liminal Haze, Craig Johnson also known as Rovellasca, and Ross Scott-Buccleuch, also known as Diurnal Tangents. Both also work with other people in other guises and run respectively Invisible City Records and Steepgloss. They're both spiders in the web of all things darkness and drone-like. 'Volume 4' is the fifth release, as apart from three other volumes, there is also a split with end Goat. I think I may have just reviewed 'Volume 2' (but, along with 'Volume 1' pay as you want to download on the Bandcamp page of Invisible City Records). Here they have one long piece per side, which, so I assume, is also a typical thing for this label (with the odd exception). I have no idea, and this goes for all three new releases, how these drones are made, but I have learned, during a solid number of years of listening and reviewing drone music, that there are many ways to do this. From a strictly analogue way to the strict digital variation and everything in between. I would think Liminal Haze operate mid-level, using a bit of both end, and use the slow addition modus. By which I mean that some drone musicians find development from a single tone and expand the single tone, whereas Liminal Haze slowly adds sounds to their starting and expand slowly on multiple sources, opening up additional filters, and sound effects to further explore the drones. In terms of development, I'd say that Liminal haze left behind some of their harsher tonal drones and now go for a more spacious drift of a kinder nature.
Then I moved to Philip Sulidae's 'Broeikas', mainly because I heard various earlier works and partly also because 'Broeikas' is a Dutch word meaning 'Greenhouse'. With the two pieces named 'Cacti' and 'Nitrogen', I can imagine this is some sort of field recording from a greenhouse, in which recordings are stretched, treated or otherwise altered so that we have this treatment of what could be a recording inside a greenhouse. Without any evidence to back this up, I'd say that Sulidae is a man who works with digital sound processing. Maybe it is my imagination running wild, overthinking too much what titles may mean, but both sides sound like wandering through a greenhouse, but then amplified; auditory reception at full force if you will. Both sides open up with a short sound event, a bump if you will, a door opening (to the greenhouse) and from there on we hear ventilation machines, heath controllers, controlled water supply, and whatever else that makes a sound in a greenhouse. The walk is a slow one (it is a warm environment) and so everything changes at a slow rate, but there is without doubt changes within the sound material. 'Cacti' has a slightly more machine-like approach than 'Nitrogen', which has a slightly more 'gentle' feel to it. Both pieces I thought were right up my alley, excellent soundcapes.
The third tape is by Nicolas Maloney, from Jackson, Mississippi, and from whom I reviewed a previous work in Vital Weekly 1216, so go there to find some background about him. That particular work was all about the manipulation of field recordings, but I'm not sure if that is also the case with this one. Judging by the music, I doubt that, as I believe this to be something from the world of pure electronics, sub-section analogue and modular (which, as always, this might not be the case) The pieces are a bit longer than on the other two releases, clocking in at thirty-five minutes per side. On the first side, we have 'Sonol'Obe', which is a dark affair of low-end tones with a higher frequency at the edge of things. In 'Munul'Obe', he works from the centre/mid-frequencies outwards to high- and low frequencies around it. In both of these pieces there is very little development, but listen closely, and you will pick these small changes up amid the bigger drift. In terms of minimalism and all things darker than dark, this is the most radical release of this trio. Depending on your personal preferences in such matters, I would rather not play this last one as the last one of the day; too scary in that respect, but it tops off a fine trio of new releases. (FdW)
––– Address: https://importantdronerecords.bandcamp.com/
CARNEDD AUR - BEETLES (cassette by Superpolar Taips)
STICHFLAMME DORMAGEN - IHRE MEINUNG IST UNS WICHTIG (cassette by Superpolar Taips)
Simon Proffitt works under a plethora of names, The Master Musicians Of Dyffryn Moor (Vital Weekly 1258) and Chan Ingold Prelog (Vital Weekly 1259) and now there is Carnedd Aur, which "translates into English as Gold Cairn, a sort of Welsh-language take on Cahn Ingold Prelog". There are musical differences to be spotted within these different names. The first is about music with field recordings, while the second was more sequencer and a drum machine. As Carnedd Aur he limits himself, at least on this release, to the use of "microKORG and Toshiba Satellite L300", which is, obviously, a laptop to record and edit the music on. In the eight pieces on this cassette, we hear what Carnedd Aur calls "electronic pop music", and "trying to make shorter pieces". I don't think he succeeded in both. The last one, the shorter pieces, is easy to check. 4:40 is the shortest piece, 9:45 the longest. For a long time, the average length of a pop song was 3:18 (or say The KLF said), but these much shorter, may be less than two minutes. Also, the lack of vocals made me not think of pop music. Both are not a problem, to be honest. It is what it is that counts, and I would think that the music of Carnedd Aur is more akin to the world of cosmic music from the seventies (mainly due to the extensive use of arpeggio's) with a nineties' techno beat. It never becomes danceable, as the beats support the synth playing, rather than push the listener into dance moves. The synthesizer sounds pretty much the same throughout in most of the pieces ('Dune Chafer' and 'Violet Ground' are exceptions), which is gives the album a homogenous sound, which one can find too similar or boring or simply the soundtrack to support daily activities. In that respect, it is like pop music: you can stick this on as background music and get on with your chores. I enjoyed this quite a bit, but from a rather more minimalist and conceptual point of view. "This you can do with one synth and a laptop and see how that works in one style of music).
Dormagen is a city in Germany (actually one that exists, unlike Bielefeld; well, according to conspiracy/hoax theories) and Stichflamme means 'blowtorch'. The title translates as 'we value your opinion'. Behind Stichflamme Dormagen is the musical project of Rudi Baumgärtner, who lives in Remagen (about 90 kilometers from Dormagen). His biography reads like a hoax, too: "Not much is known about Baumgärtner except his attempts to self-publish criminal stories under the moniker Sulke Diebler and his deep mistrust of public transport. In 2006, he took part in a macramé class. Baumgärtner makes his living from soundtracks for local adult film productions. He spends his free time in his little garden in the Remagen suburbs, where he breeds rare slug species." But, who knows, there is a thriving local scene of 'adult film productions' in Remagen (population 18.000). This release is part of Superpolar Taips cassette single series, so two short pieces only. The first part of 'Ihre Meining Ist Uns Wichtig' is a most curious piece of voices, chanting exotically, along with wooden drum percussion and line hum for electronic component along with samples of scratching (I assume). In the second part, there are much more electronics at play and yet it is easy to see why these two pieces belong together. There is a similar urgency and weirdness at work here, which I found most lovely. Superpolar Taips should waste no time and invite him for a full-length album! I wouldn't mind some more of this madness. (FdW)
––– Address: https://superpolar.bandcamp.com/