Vital Weekly, the webcast: we offer a weekly webcast,
freely to download. This can be regarded as the audio-supplement to
Vital Weekly. Presented as a radioprogramm with excerpts of just some
of the releases reviewed. It will remain on the site for a
limited period (most likely 2-4 weeks). Download the file
your MP3 player and enjoy!
THE ORPHANAGE COMMITTEE - THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS (CD by EE Tapes) *
THANOS CHRYSAKIS - MANIFOLD VISTA (CD by Auf Abwegen) *
SATAN IS MY BROTHER - HOW FAR CAN YOU SEE? (CD by Dissipatio) *
BRANDKOMMANDO - 1989 (CD/cassette by Zoharum) *
AMPSCENT - NOTHING BUT THE WORLD (cassette by Zoharum) *
THE TURCOS MEET THE LITTLE DEVILS - MUSICHE DELLE OSSA (CD by Viande Records) *
FORMLESS TO COME (digital only by Viande Records)
GENITAL WARTS - BACKFIRE (cassette by Zeromoon)
EFRAIN ROZAS - STILL (LP by Futura Resistenza) *
ANTHONY PATERAS - TWO SOLOS (LP by Futura Resistenza) *
LESLIE KEFFER - POLLUTES (CDR by No Part Of It) *
BLOOD RHYTHMS - GOOD GRIEF (CDR by No Part Of It) *
COULTER HAMILTON - CONCURRENT SENTIENCE (CDR on Kreating SoundS) *
A.MAIAH - DESAGERPENAK (CDR by Umezurtz Lanak) *
MÉNARD/GARCIA (split cassette by Vacancy Recs) *
KEN BRENNAN/LÄRMSCHUTZ (split cassette by Vacancy Recs) *
OPIRG CREATIVE MUSIC - OCM 2011-13 (cassette by Vacancy Recs) *
CARNIVOROUS PLANTS - RULED BY THE DEAD (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
S'ENTENDRE - GLIESE 667 CC (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
JULIUS MENARD - THE END OF SORROW LIES (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
ROVELLASCA - THE PRACTICE OF EVERYDAY LIFE (CDR, private) *
TRIO DEROME GUILBEAULT TANGUAY - SI TU PARTAIS (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
THE ORPHANAGE COMMITTEE - THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS (CD by EE Tapes)
Holy cow - sorry - but when I ended my review of the previous release by The Orphanage Committee, only three weeks ago (!), with "made me curious about where the Committee is heading next; I can't wait", I didn't expect the answer so soon. Belgium's Orphan S.C. Wallace releases an album with "two interpretations of the Seven Sacraments, being baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders and matrimony". Of course, this is very Catholic, and I have no idea how seriously we should be looking at this. Maybe it's a parody, or perhaps it's all serious business. Also, on Catholicism, I wrote before; that, "as a good Catholic boy, I don't care [about prayers], repent on my last day and go straight to heaven". I hope that works out one day (not too soon). Each of the two interpretations consists of seven parts, distinctly different, yet each flowing in the next. Unlike the previous LP, The Orphanage Committee returns to his first work (VItal Weekly 1319) and offers some more moody, synthesizer-based music. Not part of the cosmic school, perhaps, but repeating sounds, a bass line here and there, a repeated melodic loop. To top it off, there are field recordings, ranging from the schoolyard, radio and television. It's unclear what the relationship is between the spoken word and the seven sacraments; as far I could see, not a lot, and they were used in a more ornamental way. Face value, the music has very little to do with anything remotely religious, so even for atheists (for people of other faith), this is the most enjoyable mood music. So, if the correct order of the releases is the one in Vital Weekly 1372 as the debut, and in 1319 the follow-up, and then this, we can say that working with the more atmospheric end of synth-based music has his preference. A most enjoyable route to take, and the result is quite good. (FdW)
––– Address: https://eetapes.bandcamp.com/
THANOS CHRYSAKIS - MANIFOLD VISTA (CD by Auf Abwegen)
The last time I reviewed music from the Greek composer Thanos Chrysakis was in Vital Weekly 1260, following a long hiatus (Vital Weekly 882 before that). Looking at the list of places where he presents his music, I say that for him, it's more important that he plays music in a concert space and less so much releasing CDs; or, perhaps, I don't receive them. While a lot is said about the man's career on stage and an extensive list of collaborators, about the music, not a lot is told. The press blurb is very clear about the greatness of this release; "Rarely can something so meticulously assembled together sound so fluid. A distinct, disciplined sense for composition emerges from each of these works, displaying formal integrity while at the same time, they are also effervescent, forceful, fiercely idiosyncratic and beautifully shaped and transformed. The album discloses an expanded and detailed vista of sound’s interiority forming a strangely pleasurable, not to mention engaging, experience." Nothing about instruments, technology or source material. That leaves a lot to guess or keep stumm about it. The latter would mean almost the end of the review, besides adding if I like it, but I go for the first. I think (and granted, many times, I am dead wrong) Chrysakis uses a laptop and granular techniques to alter recordings from a source unknown (and here I am not speculating at all) to create sustaining pieces of drone-based music. Not all too deep; much of this is more in mid-range frequency, and when played soft, it does exactly what I like about good-quality ambient music. Filling up one's space with sound that is ignorable and pleasurable. Turn up the volume, and it has that excellent, gritty quality of modern computer music. It's good, solid music, very laptop-like, which is fine. However, at the same time, I also feel that there is too much of a traditional aspect to the music; it is music that I heard a lot of, and somehow doesn't seem to stand out from the many other releases I heard in the world of laptop/electronics in the last twenty-five years. Granted, innovation isn't always required, of course. (FdW)
––– Address: https://aufabwegen.bandcamp.com/
SATAN IS MY BROTHER - HOW FAR CAN YOU SEE? (CD by Dissipatio)
The Italian Dissipatio label is very active with new releases; many are introductions for me, new groups and projects. I don't think I heard of Satan Is My Brother; I would probably remember as it sounds rather silly. 'How Far Can You See?' is their fourth and first album in eight years. This is what we are told of the band: "satan is my brother is stella, alessandro, simone, luca. trombone, synths, tenor saxophone, clarinet, drums, electronics, bass, effects, falling into another forest to lose our face from the light of the day". In the description, they are called "ambient, dark-jazz and psychedelia", all of which I can easily hear in the six pieces on this CD. The drums have that continuous bang on drums and cymbals of all things psychedelic, and whoever plays the wind instruments (more than one musician, I suspect) seems to be doubling their sounds through loop devices. Around that, the sounds are dressed up with electronic sounds, the underlining bass, and the result is a dense, multi-coloured and dark jazzy sound. I am never sure why the word 'ambient' is dragged into such things as this not close to the ambient base; something similar I always think of when people talk about 'ambient metal'. It doesn't seem to add up, I guess. Dark jazz covers things perfectly; with all of these wind instruments playing sustaining notes toned down, this is undoubtedly very atmospheric music, but that doesn't constitute 'ambient'; not in my book, at least. The wind instruments are within the overall sound, and not on top of that, an aspect that adds to the atmospheric quality of the mus. It also helps my appreciation of music. The word jazz should be taken lightly, I think. I am not the biggest lover of all things jazz, but I enjoyed this CD quite a bit. Maybe it's an overall darkish atmosphere that helped me enjoy this? Certainly, the longer form in some of these pieces helped a lot. (FdW)
––– Address: https://dissipatio.bandcamp.com/
BRANDKOMMANDO - 1989 (CD/cassette by Zoharum)
AMPSCENT - NOTHING BUT THE WORLD (cassette by Zoharum)
With their 300 releases, I doubt there is any need to tell something about the Polish Zoharum label. They release a lot of music. Some known, some lesser known, some famous names and then some completely new artists. New stuff and rereleases, everything. So this time, there are two releases, one of which has quite a discography already, while the other is brand new.
"1989" by Brandkommando is a project with quite some releases in his name. Admittedly, I hardly know anything, so this is a 'new' project for me. However, the info sheet tells us a bit about the subject. Quote: "1989 is dedicated to testimonials of history that took place in that year in Romania, when the oppressed community opposed the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife, leading to the capture, quick trial and express execution of the sentence". I remember some of those events, but it was what mainstream media put out there. There was no internet, no alternative way to get informed about events. And the whole world was in a state of change with the Berlin Wall coming down and, let's call it, 'the end of the cold war'.
So yes, the tension of that time is well placed in this release, but with this kind of music, 'tension' is one of the code words to keep compositions interesting. However, the info sheet also labelled this release as being power electronics, and that's where I must put a few question marks. Power electronics, i.m.h.o., has constant throbbing bass loops or sequences and vocals that are in your face / confrontational in some way. Composition-wise, these tracks are more focussed on higher frequencies and noises, in combination with samples and a few vocal outbursts, so if I should label it, it wouldn't be power electronics. It's noise, proper noise, minimalist noise with a hint of maybe death industrial. The entire release is 33 minutes, and that's a bit on the short side to be considered a full-length release.
Ampscent's "Nothing but the world" is also 33 minutes, but this one is sold as mCD, weirdly enough. Jacek Doroszenko and Marcin Sipiora are - like Brandkommando - from Poland, but this is only their first release. The three tracks on this one are 16, 6 and 11 minutes long, so there is enough space (ok, time) to generate an atmosphere. And with their key genres "industrial, noise, harsh electronics, ambient, experimental, techno," it can go all directions, so let's first just listen to a bit ...
( half an hour later )
Wow ... there is some powerful stuff here. First of all: the versatility of Zoharum must be mentioned here because this is the opposite of the other release. It's a mixture of the styles discussed before, and if this is only their first release, I am already interested in how these guys will develop themselves as artists. The 16-minute title track has a slow pulsating beat in the background and keeps evolving into an atmosphere. And it's exactly that. "Boiling Field" is an experimental approach to an uneasy feeling. Something is wrong, but you can't put your finger on it. "Side Loan" closes the release and, from a distance, is a bit more "formed" (I don't know what to call it - through the use of what seems to be sample-based sounds, it's more of a fully distilled sound, more 'grown-up' or so). Beautiful ambience / ambient piece. This is the beginning, "a longer release later this year" says the info-sheet. Can't frickin wait! (BW)
––– Address: https://zoharum.bandcamp.com/
THE TURCOS MEET THE LITTLE DEVILS - MUSICHE DELLE OSSA (CD by Viande Records)
FORMLESS TO COME (digital only by Viande Records)
GENITAL WARTS - BACKFIRE (cassette by Zeromoon)
When I asked Viande Records what kind of music they would send and that there is less room for free improvisation and free jazz, the reply was that it's not music you had never heard, which is quite a bold statement. Three releases on three formats. On the CD, we find 'Musiche Della Ossa' by The Turcos Meet The Little Devils. These are indeed two groups. The Turcos are Giovanna Turco (voice, guitar, traditional percussions) and Giovanni de Luca (acoustic guitar). They specialize in traditional folk music of Southern Italy, which, indeed, I haven't heard before. The Little Decils and Davide Russo (accordion and guitar), Umberto Lepore (double bass and feedback), Stefano Costanzo (drum & percussions) and Mario Gabola (alto saxophone and feedback). 'Music from (the) bones' is the translation here. The label is quite right that I haven't heard something like this before, but that is more because of my lack of knowledge of Southern Italian folk music, which, no doubt, is in here somewhere. Still, the other part, I'd say, fits very much the label's profile to release the more noisy end of improvised music. With two members using feedback, that side is well-covered. Still, the music is not entirely loud, as the acoustic instruments are still a crystal transparent element. Turco's singing is indeed in awe of the folk tradition. Many of the pieces are, however, instrumental. Quite the odd pairing of musicians here, but it works pretty well. There is an outsider aspect thrown in as well, as non of the folk stuff seems to be performed traditionally unless it is used to incorporate as a starting point to play some weird music. And, sure, the combination is most unusual, so I'll Viande Records that I never heard anything like this before, and I found it most enjoyable.
From the ashes of Infected Burst comes Formless To Come, a duo of Mario Gabola (sax feedback, amplified cans, movement sax in-sensor) and Tom De Testa (samplers, no-input mixing and matrix panning), plus the help of xlaidox from Extrema Ratio, "former member of the historical punk-hardcore bands Right In Sight and Indigesti". The word 'formless' might also reflect the formless release, a printed paper with a download code. Of course, that doesn't make it entirely formless, but I get the idea. The musicians describe their work as 'electro instrumental retro-cyber cut 'n noise improv'. Here is an example of the label's cruder forms of improvisation meeting noise music. Things bounce around with all sorts of manipulations, digital samples, feedback, analogue process, and words being screamed by xlaidox; there is quite a bit of cut-up styled sound here, slicing the music neatly up in rough segments. That doesn't mean that this album is one long noise cut-up. A piece like 'A People's History Of Science' is relatively quiet and, much to my surprise, a rather beautiful piece of music. I think it's the variation that saves the release for me. Too much of similar cut-ups wouldn't have worked for me that well. They combine with the duo's more refined moments, and it's a fine release.
Mario Gabola is the common thread in these releases, as he's also part of the Genital Warts release. Here he gets credit for 'janky made D.I.Y. analogue electronics', and EKS plays samples, tape, and electronics. EKS being Guido Marziale. I heard a previous release (Vital Weekly 984). I would have assumed they were no longer active, and maybe they are inactive. These recordings were found on an old computer, which after various break-ins, was a surprise find. There wasn't a mix done at the time (2016-2019), but now they are released anyway. Genital Warts gets the help of Abstral Compost and 2phast on a few of these pieces. In general, these pieces are short and to the point. Like the other two releases, this too is improvisation meeting another discipline, and I'd say here they meet up with hip hop-styled beats and even raps (by the guest musicians). It is not too much hip hop (not necessarily a genre of music I know much about and subsequently, for lack of investment, no doubt, don't appreciate that much), and the element of noise is another strong presence in these nine pieces. Like the Formless To Come, this is a pretty wild release but with less variation. However, that is not a big problem, as the total length of this cassette is around twenty minutes, which guarantees quite a bit of speed within the music. Altogether, this is very much within the context of the label and a curious meeting of improvised music and musical genres that you would not likely think of. (FdW)
––– Address: https://vianderecords.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://zeromoon.com/album/backfire
EFRAIN ROZAS - STILL (LP by Futura Resistenza)
ANTHONY PATERAS - TWO SOLOS (LP by Futura Resistenza)
Efrain Rozas hails from Peru and is based mainly in the US. He graduated from NYU on the subject of new integrations of body, mind and technology through ritual and rhythm. In 2018 he released the album “Roza Cruz” with his band La Mecanica Popular, an album full of Latin American fusion and jazz-rock. This album of 2023 is completely different. Compared to La Mecanica Popular, Still is indeed that: still. Somewhat in the middle is another album, released in 2020, 'I Enjoy the World (Vital Weekly 1219). Here the rhythms have become more abstract, at places even dubbey. But “Still” has no fixed rhythm at all.
Side A of the album is drone music, tonally rich but with no rhythm in sight. Side B is basically silence broken by pulses of the drone material (I think, but I am not sure). Towards the end, the pulses become sparser until they almost disappear. What we hear between the pulses is the recording of the space in which the performance took place.
I have a few problems with the record. Firstly, it is stated that the music was performed live as a quadrophonic piece. What we hear, though, is a recording in stereo. And I think with that, a lot of the piece's essence has gone lost in translation. Now we have one side of the vinyl with a drone piece, and on the other side, there are these pulses. And a superficial listener won’t hear anything special. The careful listener might get a deeper experience.
Perhaps (!!) to counter this, the music is accompanied by an essay that Rozas wrote. It’s a lengthy article which starts with the statement that all Western music is linear. And some non-western music isn’t. Instead of immediately explaining why this is problematic, Rozas takes us on a journey that brings us from Greek philosophy to Nietzsche to a sort of Zen philosophy. As far as I understand (but I am not trained in reading philosophical texts), the line of reasoning is that Western philosophy/technology picks everything apart into neatly defined segments. Only then can we (westerners) get a grip on things. What the Western world loses in that act is something that might be called the soul of things. The ‘Being’ (a thing, an idea, a work of art, whatever) is dissected in Western philosophy, but what is hidden is overlooked. “I propose that instead of using quantifiable language to answer the question “what is Being”, we should use an ontology of the hiding: Being understood as hiding.” And “Another important question cultivates a relationship with the non-quantifiable: How do we reintegrate the senses, time and space? Their separation comes from a logic of quantification. Let's start with the most basic element of music: silence.” And with that, we reach the realm of sound/music. He continues: “Silence is the first moment of a piece. When we wait for the beginning of a piece of Western music, we are already doing something. We are waiting for a sound. Western silence is a "zero" point that conditions us to a certain type of experience. In the "zero" of silence, there is already a predetermination of a "one": that "one" is a sound. In the case of a dance piece, that "one" would be a movement. There is a "zero" for the sense of hearing and a "zero" for the eye in the visual arts. So the "zero" implies an action: a division of the senses. When we are in Western silence, we are not still. We are doing something: we exist in a body that divides experience into five senses. Being Still is different from being in silence. Stillness precedes silence. Stillness is a synesthetic state prior to the division of the senses. In stillness, space and time also come together in a contemplation of existence.”
Quite profound. But I still miss the relationship between this essay and the way the music is presented. As I mentioned above, this may well be caused by the fact that we only hear a reduced version of the original. I also think that the essay is sometimes needlessly complex. And that is a shame. The music is okay, but not as interesting as his earlier works. (JS)
From the ever-prolific Anthony Pateras on the same label also a new record. He is primarily a composer but is also active as an improviser (piano, electronics), and he worked with people as diverse as Jerome Noetinger and Mike Patton. In the two pieces on this record, he works with a solo instrument and tape. On tape, the soloist has his playing taped so effectively, and it is an ensemble of the same instrument from the same person. On 'Palimpsest Geometry', the double-bell trumpet is played by Callum G'Froerer, and on the other side, we find the 'There Is A Danger Only Our Mistakes Are New', with the voice of Clara La Licata. In the liner notes, Pateras (or the label) says these techniques have been used by Ligeti before, but with a more dramatic effect, and drama is absent in these pieces. One could expect some long-form sustaining sounds, maybe in the style of Phill Niblock, but that is not the case. Here the sounds are brief for both instruments, and because there are a lot of these, there is a constant sense of shifting. But not like a rocking chair, just slowly expanding of sounds, but ultimately disappearing, so there is never a point of saturation. In 'Palimpsest Geometry', there are, at one point, some changes in the pitch. Of the two pieces, which I both enjoy, I have a slight preference for the second side, the voice piece. Here the music takes a slightly mysterious form, as a bird calls in a forest or some kind of religious call or chant. The other side is a fine piece too, but I noticed I have to be in the mood for that. (FdW)
––– Address: https://futuraresistenza.bandcamp.com/
More about Efrain Rozas in our Thursday Afternoon Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69MRyZNG0BU
LESLIE KEFFER - POLLUTES (CDR by No Part Of It)
BLOOD RHYTHMS - GOOD GRIEF (CDR by No Part Of It)
In Vital Weekly 1371, I already reviewed two releases by Leslie Keffer and a fundraiser project to help her out in the difficult times she's going through right now (still valid *hint hint*). And before me, a new release, although not really 'new'. It's a rerelease from 2005 where she explores the radio as a sound source from a more noisy perspective. Originally as a cassette and later as a limited CDR in support of a tour and now as pro CDE by No Part Of It packed in a so-called DVD case.
Eight tracks and almost an hour of loud experiments with radiosounds, an Echoplex tape machine and probably a mixer and cables, no chains of guitar pedals and such. The result of these experiments is, on one side, the noise, as we all know noise. A sound source, feedback loop, and control over the sound through filtering and using the equalizer. If done well a feast for the ears and the possibility to go from ultra-deep bass drones to high-pitched mechanical feedback / screaming sounds. But because the radio is as sound source, things get added to these experiments. During the track "Noble", for example, it seems like a radio station broadcasted just the right track for Leslie to start working from. And during "The Wheels On The Bus", a detuned station (or maybe a short sample looped into the Echoplex) breaks the massiveness of layers enough to let the whole track sparkle. Yes, sparkling noise. There. I've said it.
So, is "Pollutes" something I haven't heard before? No, but it has a massive sound and shows Leslie's development as an artist. So from that perspective, it's an interesting document.
Arvo Zylo and Leslie Keffer - as a duo - have been quite busy in 2022. First, they did their own stuff, which you can read about in the Vital quite often, and then there was a project we haven't discussed yet because it's massive. After that, they did a six vinyl series, 'Horror Pilation', and right after those sessions, they still had the energy to record more. "Good Grief" started with a recording by Arvo, which was sent to Leslie in dire times. This track was called "Grief" (and is still unreleased) and formed the base for this one. The three tracks cover over 70 minutes of deep droning with lots of stuff happening, yet always in a stable setting.
'Griefspeak' and 'For Goodness Sake' are both around the twenty-minute mark and quite similar in their approach or 'charge'. At least, it sounds like that a bit. Even though in the subtle layering, a lot of different things are happening, the massiveness of the ground note is comparable. In between these two tracks, there is 'Goodness Gracious', a 40 minute with a slow change of the ground notes several times, as well as beautiful interpolation patterns in those changes, and a complete change of its 'emotional charge' as I tend to call it sometimes in the last 10 minutes. And yes, *still* stuff is happening in those other layers. This track could have been a release on its own, but the sandwich between the different tracks makes it extra powerful and gives the other two tracks extra meaning. (BW)
––– Address: https://nopartofit.bandcamp.com/
COULTER HAMILTON - CONCURRENT SENTIENCE (CDR on Kreating SoundS)
Ron Coulter is a USAmerican sound artist and percussionist living in the mountains of Wyoming. He runs the Kreating SoundS label that releases a lot of his work in duos and trios, as well as in his groups Drm&Gtr, duende entendre, Percussion Art Ensemble etc. He works on the thin line between jazz, free music, electronics, and contemporary classical music. And, like so many contemporary classical composers, he also teaches. Sean Hamilton is a fellow percussionist, composer and engineer.
Both have a similar approach to music in that their output is in some ways more 'holistic' than 'only' percussion. It has been described as a new take on integrating elements into something that will take drumming to new levels. They also appear to share an interest in radios ... 'Concurrent Sentience' explores this space very well, as its tracks differ considerably in their style and moods. Not only in the varied use of percussion sounds but also in processing and adding several sources that would not normally sport on a percussionist release.
What intrigues me with this music is the kind of 'beat' often not found in contemporary classical percussion music - that sometimes seems more interested in the pauses between notes than in the sound itself - or in deed in free jazz. And there is an element of tongue-in-cheek humour in the choice of titles such as 'Substance Abuse', 'Cowboy's Breakfast', or 'Well Chuffed'. Speaking of which, being the first track, it comes across very much like a conventional rock drum solo. As said, with a steady high-speed tempo and full use of the drum set that only after 5 minutes or so subsides into a more delicate (though hardly slowed) cymbal space. This type of composition returns on track 3, 'Scrum', though not so outspoken (outplayed) and holding a good pace, at around half-time explores a broader range of percussive sounds.
Track 2 stands in stark contrast. 'No Trace' is purely electronic (I believe), mixing Casio sounds with radio hissing and sampled and treating other sounds. Sitting between the two 'drum solo' tracks 1 & 3, this is both a surprise and a treat to the ears, proving the breadth of approach these two musicians master. Track 4, 'Seed & Cast', has more of the classical percussion piece setting. The following four pieces use the elements now on display to combine them into a diverse music universe. Most pieces, by the way, are more in the realm of ten than three minutes, allowing for development variety. 'Joyfleet' ends with radio voices and hisses, whereas 'Substance Abuse' is a continuous high pitch sine tone(s), interrupted, obscured and overlayed by the drum sets. The final track 'Cowboy's Breakfast' returns to the initial 'drum solo' before subsiding into a quieter, close-to-silent stretch and concluding a distant rumble of thunder.
A surprising release that has re-calibrated my view of percussion music. (RSW)
––– Address: https://roncoulter.bandcamp.com/
A.MAIAH - DESAGERPENAK (CDR by Umezurtz Lanak)
There is no space after A in the name, but it is a name, Asier Maiah. 'Desagerpenak' is not my introduction to this Basque guitar player, as I reviewed his work on the four-way compilation 'Thing' (Vital Weekly 1334). His Bandcamp describes the man as a "guitarist/composer/improviser/idiomatic noise/microtonal blues/psychedelic populism". I don't know what that means, but the word microtonal stuck. There are three pieces here, 'Desagerpena' (which means disappearance), 'Askapena' (liberation) and 'Oharkabetasuna' (carelessness). The first piece I heard from him didn't convince me, but I enjoyed two of the three pieces here. 'Askapena', the second piece here, is an improvisation, plucking the strings of his electric guitar in a controlled yet free manner. It is a pretty standard improvised music piece, good but not special. Luckily I heard the title piece first. Over twenty-one minutes, this is also the most extended piece of music here. Here and in 'Oharkabetasuna', A.maiah works with microtonal music. Both pieces are microtonal strum pieces, fast and furious. In the last piece (thirteen minutes long), this all works out to be in a noisy, heavy metal fashion, maybe like a Motorhead intro that got stuck, but most enjoyable. The winner is the title piece, in which the music is somewhat opener, and it very much reminded me of Glenn Branca's earliest works, and I was thinking, why did we never hear other people playing in a similar style? It also reminded me of a more obscure Dutch record, 'Celebrating Your Victory', by Alien. With that one, A.maiah shares the wall of noise, drone rock approach. Starkly minimal, and one could almost believe this to be a loop, but no doubt A.maiah played all the parts himself (if, indeed, there are more parts, and it's not one guitar feeding through a bunch of pedals). The music is a massive exercise in repetition, leaving me breathless but most enjoyable. This piece alone was worth a release, the others, good as they are, were a bonus. Plus, I understood why he put the improvisation piece in the middle. (FdW)
––– Address: https://amaiah.bandcamp.com/
MÉNARD/GARCIA (split cassette by Vacancy Recs)
KEN BRENNAN/LÄRMSCHUTZ (split cassette by Vacancy Recs)
OPIRG CREATIVE MUSIC - OCM 2011-13 (cassette by Vacancy Recs)
Of the three new releases by Canada's Vacancy Recs, two are split releases. I started with (Julius) Ménard and (Miguel A.) García. The latter used to be quite active with releases but slowed down in that respect, maybe shifting his focus elsewhere. Ménard is of a younger generation. In 2019 he started the Grisaille cassette label, which quickly released 65 cassettes with a solid visual identity. In the few solo releases I heard from Ménard, I come to know him as a man who likes his drones. I am not sure what his instruments are, but I think they may include guitars and effects, and they might be with synthesizers; or a combination of all of these. Taping the music during the Covid period in his basement, there is a moody darkness to be noted in these pieces, but not without a shimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Not entirely quiet and far from raw, these two pieces are rather refined excursions in mood and texture. García has three pieces; in the first, he uses sound material from Enrike Hurtado, and in the third, by Aintzane Arangüena; that one also has a video art piece (follow the link on Bandcamp). Here too, the music was created during " the confinement for the audiat project created by koldo ansoleaga, 2020". In his music, García works with atmospheric sound material and drones but uses a more collage-like approach. Not all too obvious, but with some isolated sound events, a bit less on the drones. Nevertheless, the music is quite intense, perhaps more so than the music by Ménard. Especially 'Fluefleed' has a haunting atmosphere. Both sides together work very well in terms of direction.
The other split cassette is thirty minutes long, and both artists deliver a forty-five-minute piece, going through various motions. Ken Brennan is a Think Of A Name member, and I reviewed some of his solo works before (Vital Weekly 1018 and 1035). He's called a musician and poet; I wasn't blown away by his first release. Bandcamp gives us a few mysterious clues about the instruments used here (Casio LK-280, Digitech RP-255, Garageband), which I didn't hear all too easily in the music, which is a strange affair anyway. Larger sections contain noisy drone-based loops of what seems to be guitar and synthesizer noise origins. But then, suddenly, in between, there is a rhythm machine and a keyboard, and the whole thing turns into a sort of outsider pop music spiel. The intro and outro are primarily orchestral and have all the markings of good use of Garageband. Strange music that somehow fits and doesn't fit at the same time. But sure, nice enough. Dutch anarcho-jazz combo Lärmschutz seem to be reduced to just Rutger van Driel, bass and trombone player, but now responsible for all music, mixing and mastering. His piece is called 'Fears Of Children', which is said, "Childhood anxieties, if not treated the right way, can have a tremendous impact in the life of a human being". His piece is unlike the earlier work when they were a group. Here, the music is more single-minded, noisier, continuous and, at times, quite chaotic. If it is supposed to be the soundtrack of fear, then Van Driel succeeded quite well in his task. Loud and claustrophic, there is hardly an escape possible. The last ten minutes he reserves for toning things down, maybe as a form of healing? I found the noise of this piece a bit too long and wouldn't have minded a bit more of his mellow trombone and electronics.
Also, a C90 is a cassette by OPIRG Creative Music. About this cassette, we learn that it contains"tape recordings of the OPIRG Creative Music (OCM) ensemble at the OPIRG-Brock Info Shop in downtown St. Catharines, King St. c. 2011-13. You know if you were there". It is, so I believe, a group that never had a formal name. It all remains quite a mystery, and the music, great as it sounds, doesn't shed more light on it. There is a firm reliance on synthesizers, organs or other keyboards, playing slow melodic drifts and along there is, at times, a rattle of percussion. Also played slowly and not your conventional drum bits most of the time. I am sure all this is improvised playing, and I think these recordings (two long pieces, one of each side) are collages of those pieces. Themes sometimes make their return, or maybe pieces make extended returns to get anywhere. It's all hard to say. The second side is a bit more chaotic than the first. I believe that the local musicians who contribute to this label (Del Stephen, Jeffrey Sinibald - not the same person, so I learned, and perhaps others from Think Of A Name) might have found their way on these recordings. All in good free spirit, these recordings were made, which is part of the overall philosophy behind the label. It doesn't always make sense, but that's sometimes not a problem. (FdW)
––– Address: https://vacancyniagara.bandcamp.com/
CARNIVOROUS PLANTS - RULED BY THE DEAD (cassette by Invisible City Records)
S'ENTENDRE - GLIESE 667 CC (cassette by Invisible City Records)
JULIUS MENARD - THE END OF SORROW LIES (cassette by Invisible City Records)
ROVELLASCA - THE PRACTICE OF EVERYDAY LIFE (CDR, private)
Among my favourite labels, there is UK's Invisible City Records. Their covers are always black and white, and while thinking about that, I guess one could say there is something black and white about the music. Music that could be loud or quiet but somehow always has an atmospheric, dark and somewhat dystopian sound. Carnivorous Plants, a great name, is a new name for me, and his (I am guessing here) burns down the amplifier via two fifteen-minute pieces of guitar noise. Take a guitar, an amplifier and some stomp boxes, feed in some radio static via the pick-up, and the result might be along these lines. Loud, but not exclusively playing the noise card; it is not that loud. Thirty minutes of some consistently executed guitar noise is all I need on a dreary day to cheer me up. It is not music I can say a lot about. It's solid as a rock, and it's good.
In the music of S'entendre, we also find an electric guitar played by Jonathan Deasy. Nicholas Maloney plays synthesizers. I reviewed various solo releases from both gentlemen. I assumed this was one of those 'exchange by mail' collaborations, as Deasy lives in Ireland and Maloney in the USA, but no, this is, in fact, a live recording they made in August 2021 in Cork, Ireland. Their cassette is just over forty minutes long and has four tracks. These pieces cover a diverse approach of dark ambient, noise and that dystopian feel. Whereas Carnivorous Plants is more one-directional, this duo goes different places. 'Deep Impact' is one of those machine recordings inside an abandoned factory, whereas 'Lunar Gateway' is more akin to an ambient glitch; there is a light touch but a dark undercurrent. 'Atmospheric Drag' seems to be created with orchestral samples rubbing the wrong, and the cassette closes with 'Astronomical Object', the longest piece. Here they hold the middle ground between the storm of 'Deep Impact' and 'Atmospheric Drag' and the quieter 'Lunar Gateway'. In this lengthy piece, the mood builds slowly and becomes a gritty mass of astronomical weight. Great music. Sad they didn't play some more music that night.
The last new cassette is by Julius Ménard, his second release in this issue. Of course, all of those works could have been on one release. Here too, Ménard makes his guitar sound like anything but a guitar. It sounds more like an organ, receiving colouring from sound effects, which he plays out in beautiful monochromes. Of course, it's dark and atmospheric, but it's far from depressing or all too dystopian. Science fiction music, in which we see the earth being re-born after that enormous disaster. There are flames, smoke and debris, but there is light, a shimmer of hope, especially in 'Murdered by the Moon'. Here too, I would have loved to hear some more of this. Thirty-minute cassettes are nice enough, but I want the extended version for this kind of ambient music!
Also, thirty minutes (ha!) is the CDR by Rovellasca, the musical project of Craig Stewart Johnson, also the man behind Invisible City Records. Hence you find it here. Recently he played a concert in Newcastle, his hometown, and produced this CDR for the occasion, handing them out. The music is described as"Minimal, lo-fi drones and cassette textures", and I believe Johnson captures the practices of everyday life on a walkman and plays these again in space, re-records the proceedings and so on, adding new layers of minimal manipulation and distortion. Johnson is also a member of Liminal Haze, a duo who work in, more or less, a similar musical territory. But whereas Liminal Haze might be going for a very dense sound, on this occasion, Rovellasca searches for minimalism with sparse use of sound. Maybe because I heard a new release by Small Cruel Party earlier this week, but something in these two pieces reminded me of Small Cruel Party. The music's non-direction, the minimal sounds and the development of these, yet it all sounds highly fascinating. I admit I am a big-time sucker these days for such lo-fi ambient soundscapes and that I enjoyed the previous releases by Rovellasca (and Liminal Haze), so perhaps I'm not the right person to deliver a mighty objective review on these things. If you never heard of any of these, for all of the Invisible City Records releases and various by Rovellasca, the music can be downloaded for free on Bandcamp. (FdW)
––– Address: https://invisiblecityrecords.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://rovellasca.bandcamp.com/
TRIO DEROME GUILBEAULT TANGUAY - SI TU PARTAIS (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
This one is too much of a standard jazz release to be reviewed here. But... it’s a solid release by a long-standing Canadian jazz trio (saxophone/flute, double bass and drums) with some nice repertoire choices (Ornette Coleman, a bold attempt at Iron Man by Eric Dolphy) and excellent vocals by Derome. Other than that, Vital Weekly isn’t the platform for relatively standard jazz. (MDS)
––– Address: https://ambiances-magnetiques.bandcamp.com/