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!
JEPH JERMAN - REGISTRO DE PIEDRA (CD by Unfathomless) *
KLEISTWAHR - FOR THE LIVES ONCE LIVED (CD by Fourth Dimension Records) *
AJNA - INEVITABLE MORTALITY (2CD by Zoharum) *
RED PAINTED RED - THAT WAS THE REASON WHY (CD by Zoharum) *
ANTHONY GATTO - SMALL SUBVERSIONS (CD by Gold Bolus) *
TINA MARIANE KRIGH MADSEN - COMPOUNDS (CD by Block 4) *
CARL 666 GUSTAF - CLAIM (CD by Thanatosis Produktion) *
BEAM SPLITTER & EIVIND LØNNING & ESPEN REINERTSEN - BEAUTIES (CD by Neither/Nor Records) *
URUK - THE GREAT CENTRAL SUN (CD by Ici D'aileurs/Mind Travel Series) *
LEONARDO BARBADORO - MUSICA AUTOMATA (CD by Helical) *
TOM BICKLEY - JEPSON PRAIRIE (CD by Other Minds) *
ORPHAX & PONI - INHERITANCE (LP by Moving Furniture Records) *
ROLAND FIDEZIUS - GRINDING TEETH (CDR by Vision Of Sound) *
WILSON SHOOK & TED BYRNES - JOY (CDR by Other Ghost) *
ILLUSION OF SAFETY - IOS40 (10 cassettes by No Part Of It) *
BAMF! - MYTHICAL CREATURES (cassette by Old Gold) *
MICHAEL MANNING - KNOTS (cassette by Søvn Records) *
[R]IEKO OKUDA [A]GOGOL [N]AABTALDEATH (cassette, private) *
JEPH JERMAN - REGISTRO DE PIEDRA (CD by Unfathomless)
For some time, he was known as Hands To, and for a much longer period working under his own name, Jeph Jerman has quite an extensive history. Much of it deals with natural sounds, leaves, stones, and such, along with field recordings. "'Registro de Piedra" plays with the idea of place memory", he writes, which interestingly ties in with the Unfathomless release reviewed last week, which also deals with memory. Jerman speaks of strange apparitions and what some call ghosts. Jerman doesn't know if they are real or not, but it's a fascination he has. To that end, he made recordings at Clear Creek, Wingfield Mesa, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Page Spring Indian ruins. Without this information, would that change things for me? This is one of those questions I wonder about more than I let the reader know, but it is something that guides the listener. Is it essential to know? Maybe not; it's something you find on Bandcamp rather than on the cover of this CD. Without that, and taking the music at face value, I hear a release that is very much a Jeph Jerman release. There is a lot of rattling and shaking of dirt, sand, leaves, branches, rusty chains, etc. At one point, somewhere in the middle, there is a beautiful delicate drone in this music, something that I don't recall hearing in his more recent work (and straight away, I hasten to say that I may not have listened to all of his recent work), but it an excellent additional layer in the music. I don't know how this drone was created, maybe some kind of loop, mechanised sound, or something else, but it sounds fine. On top, he adds his hissy field recordings, making this all sound a bit more lo-fi, which is excellent. The music feels warm, but that too might be direction; maybe I believe this because I know where it was recorded. Either way, this is a great Jeph Jerman release, which is entirely the sort of thing you'd expect him to do and yet also a bit different. (FdW)
––– Address: https://unfathomless.bandcamp.com/
KLEISTWAHR - FOR THE LIVES ONCE LIVED (CD by Fourth Dimension Records)
How often does one need to repeat the basic information about an artist, and when can we consider it to be known? Once Gary Mundy relaunched Kleistwahr in 2009 (following a first period of a few cassette releases in the 1980s, all compiled on 'Don't Let Go' (see Vital Weekly 1392), he decided to release an album using that name more or less every year. I am not the sort of person to fact-check if twelve months have passed since the last one; that would be an accountant's job, and anyway, if there are two a year, who am I to complain? Mundy's main project is, and this should be commonly known information, Ramleh, but that's a band, a noise duo and sometimes a more rock-like, more persons involved unit. As Kleistwahr, Mundy is in full solo mode, armed with guitars, synthesisers, sound effects and a rhythm machine. Don't expect the latter to hammer out some heavy beat material, but rather a more single-minded thumb to accompany the moody soundscapes he produces. There is a feeling of alienation here, dystopian and Earth being, in general, not a very pleasant place to be. Mundy uses vocals, which may involve lyrics, but that's not something one hears. The titles offer more of a guideline for the content of the music; 'Rotten Boroughs', The Gutters Shine Tonight' and 'Days We'll Never See', and you get the idea. Maybe there is a shimmer of hope in 'For All Mankind' and a sense of sanity in 'Thoughts Are Not Facts', but I am talking titles here, not musical content. 'Rotten Boroughs' opens up with that decaying rhythm machine sound, heavily filtered in a not-all-too-fast tempo, the reverb-drenched guitar and the layered vocals. There is throughout these pieces noise, obviously, but noise working in favour of the piece, and not for the sake of playing around with some annoying sounds. Noise bending and shaping along the howl of the guitar and synths, and adding to the oppressive intensity of the music. Sometimes, it turns into a most powerful piece of drone music (in 'Lives Once Lived', for instance), and sometimes a more psychedelic piece of noise rock ('Days We'll Never See', for example). Six pieces, each with considerable length, clocking in at forty-three minutes (so, no doubt, a vinyl re-issue will happen; not for me, thanks, I love CDs), making this another great Kleistwahr release, not shockingly different, or innovative, just another damn fine album with some pleasant horrorshow music (FdW)
––– Address: https://fourthdimensionrecords.bigcartel.com/
AJNA - INEVITABLE MORTALITY (2CD by Zoharum)
RED PAINTED RED - THAT WAS THE REASON WHY (CD by Zoharum)
Behind Ajna is one. Chris F and I reviewed his 'An Era Of Torment' in Vital Weekly 1119. Zoharum, being genuine miners digging the mines of old releases, took it up to them to re-issue 'Inevitable Mortality', previously available in an edition of 50 copies of CDRs. Along, there are six new unpublished pieces, which makes CD one 71 minutes and CD two some twenty-three minutes. AJNA is a musical project of massive deepness, lots of bass end rumblings, heavily processed field recordings (rain and rivers mainly), and such. I don't know how AJNA creates the music. I can imagine there is a lot of granular synthesis at work here, transforming field recordings into these big washes of sound. Still, maybe there is the use of analogue or digital synthesisers or even a combination of the two. It is tough to say, and, as always, before, not a question of the utmost importance. What matters is what it sounds like, and that's great. Just this weekend, this country changed to Daylight Savings Time, which means early dark evenings, which is the perfect time of the day to play this kind of music. At least, that's what I think. Dark ambient music, and as such, there isn't anything new to be heard here. Like so many genres that have been around for a while, people come and go, copying the 'old' style' and exploring the depths (pun intended) of such deep ambient music in the same way as others do. Music you'll find on such imprints as Winter-Light, Cryo Chamber, or Cyclic Law. Solid as a rock, I'd say, is this AJNA release. If you were hoping for that massive new direction, you might be disappointed. But I assume lots of people might find more of the same just as well as a much better idea.
Music by the duo Red Painted Red I had not heard before (at least, not that I recall) and 'That Was The Reason Why' is this UK duo's fourth album. The duo is S. Carroll and Yew. They play electronics, guitars (maybe), rhythm machines and vocals. Zoharum calls this avant-pop music with "echoes of synth-wave, trip-hop, dark wave or neo-folk", which I can quickly agree with here. They have ten songs and thirty-eight minutes of music, perhaps another mark of its more pop-like character. Lyrics are enclosed conveniently, but as I always say, they are not too well-spend on me. I am not a critic of the poetic content. Judging by what I see/read, it is all a bit gloomy and doomous stuff, which the music underlines with some darker beats and synths. Good music it is, but at the same time, I'd say it is also music that is a bit too outside our usual field of interest. In all its doom and gloominess, at the core, it is still more or less conventional alternative pop music of some kind, and there is nothing wrong with that, but, as always with this kind of thing, there is the lack of frame of reference. Great listen, and if you are up for a change of your usual digest, this is worthwhile. (FdW)
––– Address: https://zoharum.bandcamp.com/
ANTHONY GATTO - SMALL SUBVERSIONS (CD by Gold Bolus)
Here, we have a relatively short CD by Anthony Gatto. He's the composer of three pieces for solo piano, and Karl Larson performs them. I had not heard of either. Gatto studied privately with Ornette Coleman in the 1980s and composed music for film, theatre, dance, opera and concert halls in the US, South America, Europe and Asia. Judging by the list of people and ensembles he worked with, I'd say he's a man from the contemporary music world. Listening to the music confirms that. It also brings that my knowledge about this kind of music is minimal. I never got beyond Erik Satie, and I guess that's my anchor in piano music. For a while, I read some newspaper articles about piano music composers, the popular ones such as Einaudi and Melnyk, and other names that I had never heard of (or forgotten by now) and why this music is so popular these days, about a world of relaxing piano music. I reviewed Melnyk before, and now I am playing Gatto and thinking, is this the same kind of relaxing piano music that this article spoke of? I don't know. Let's say it has that effect on me. I am playing this and doing some other work at the same, and, yes, I know, that is never a great thing, but it works wonders for me. I concentrate a bit more than I sometimes do, and while the music doesn't have an all-natural flow, it still is very melodic and spacious. There is no electronic processing of any kind, no colouring of the sound, just lyrical piano music. It's a pity that the album is well under thirty minutes; I'd love to hear more, even without knowing all too much about it. (FdW)
––– Address: https://goldbolus.com/
TINA MARIANE KRIGH MADSEN - COMPOUNDS (CD by Block 4)
In Vital Weekly 1406, I reviewed a Notstandskomittee CD released by the Block 4 label. I assumed (but didn't verify) that this label was about releases from that particular musical project. Listening to the CD by Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen proves me wrong. She is a Danish researcher, art historian and artist. She has a master of Arts in Art History and is currently a Doctorate Candidate at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Finland. Unlike Notstandskomittee, her music has nothing to do with synthesizers, sequencers or rhythm. The press text mentions that the first piece, 'Stone-score', is a conceptual one, and maybe they are, and I am not sure what the concept is supposed to be. Her titles aren't all too clear, but that doesn't matter; what counts is how it sounds. And it sounds pretty good. The easiest way to describe this is by saying this is electro-acoustic music and created by applying musique concrète techniques. What kind of input she uses, I don't know, maybe field recordings of some sort, but the amount of transformations she applies to these sounds are massive and very digital. Much granular synthesis, or, at least, that's what I believe, and she did that with some grand gestures. Madsen's music is undoubtedly a big, noisy beast, without being a noise for the sake of noise record, which is excellent. Much like in the mid-1980s, musicians from the world of industry started to see the link between their work and its historical ties to the world of musique concrète from twenty years earlier, so can we see this work in a similar vein? Heavy, and loud, but also throughout and musical. 'In Water-Fire-Stone-Metal' (perhaps the only title to indicate sound sources), the field recordings of what seems to be a construction site are amplified and distorted and are solid work. 'In-The-Rupture' also has some loud moments, but, perhaps, at twenty minutes overstays its welcome a bit. The final piece, 'Kivimeditaatio' (meaning stone meditation), is maybe the quietest moment on the record. Still, here, too, there is some palpable tension via the buzzing and whirring of faulty cables and thus, the album strives fiercely to be disconnected - the plug is plugged at the end. (FdW)
––– Address: https://notstandskomitee.bandcamp.com/
CARL 666 GUSTAF - CLAIM (CD by Thanatosis Produktion)
Behind Carl 666 Gustaf, we find a duo of Carl Westholm and Gustaf Hielm from Sweden, and they perform their music with various instruments. It doesn't get any more specific than that. Westholm is/was part of Carptree, Avatarium, Krux, and Candlemass) Hielm of Pain Of Salvation, Meshuggah, Matt/Morgan and Tiamat); the first is labelled a keyboardist and the other a bass player, so we could assume (but won't know for sure) they play something similar on this album. I am convinced I didn't hear all of this label's releases. Still, I thought they were mostly into 'modern music', small ensembles and minimalism, but this is something else—seven pieces of rhythmic music with lots of sequencers, samples and synthesisers. The factory depicted is a giveaway for some of the more industrial sounds of the music. Loud, dark and somewhat mean, that's the music they created. Bouncing and pushing forward, bleeping synths and dark uptempo beats, none of which are all too much aimed at the dance floor (and I admit straight away that I haven't seen a dance floor in a few years, so maybe this kind of music is all the latest rage?). I have no idea if there is a particular idea or concept behind this music, with titles such as 'The Magpie', '1914' or 'Remnants Of Ancient Infrastructure', or even their assumed band name; maybe it's all a joke, anyway? I found this quite pleasant music in all its darkness, an excellent deviation from the typical listening routine chez Vital Weekly. Perhaps not the kind of music reviewed a lot in these pages; maybe this scene is a bit different than ours, but a few pleasant spins I had with this bleak dance music. (FdW)
––– Address: https://thanatosis.bandcamp.com/music
BEAM SPLITTER & EIVIND LØNNING & ESPEN REINERTSEN - BEAUTIES (CD by Neither/Nor Records)
Here we have two duos working together: Eivind Lønning (trumpet, electronics) and Espen Reinertsen (tenor saxophone, electronics) and Beamsplitter, which Audrey Chen (voice, electronics) and Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø (trombone, electronics). As a quartet, they played together for the first time at the Asphalt Festival in Düsseldorf in 2018, and since they have played some more. This CD contains recordings from March 22 and 23, 20,21 in Norway. It is their first release, and they were in different spaces in a wooden house while recording the music, but it's a simultaneous recording and one that has no further edits. Two pieces, each about nineteen minutes, deal significantly with quiet music. Even with the volume up quite a bit, this is soft music. The sounds they produce are on the brink of non-existence, and while highly improvised music, there is some excellent interaction going on here. Turn up the music even more, and a world of sounds opens up. Most of the time, the instruments are not easily recognized, but upon closer inspection, they are there and used as objects to extract sound from. There is a pleasant sort of quiet buzzing here, a mass of small sounds, with Chen's voice being one of the small, buzzing, and abstract sounds. It's not the easiest of releases, as concentrated listening is quite demanding. If you listen superficially, you may lose some of the details. Okay, of course, we (hopefully) live in a free enough world to make such listening decisions, but you'll miss out on something. I can even imagine that some superficially perceived sounds will lead to annoyance, another reason to sit down and listen carefully. The music is entirely improvised, probably enough for me for a few days, but from a more electro-acoustic perspective. (FdW)
––– Address: http://neithernorrecords.bandcamp.com
URUK - THE GREAT CENTRAL SUN (CD by Ici D'aileurs/Mind Travel Series)
'The Great Central Sun' is the fourth album by Uruk. We didn't review 'I Leave A Silver Trail Through Blackness', but in Vital Weekly 1138, I reviewed 'Mysterium Coniunctionis'. I missed out on 'The Descent Of Inana'. Uruk is a duo of Timothy Lewis, better known as Thighpaulsandra and Massimo Pupillo, the bassist of the Italian band Zu. Two spacious long tracks in which we find Thighpaulsandra behind synthesisers and electronics and Pupillo on electric bass and mellotron; I assume the latter also uses a lot of electronics to alter the sound of the bass as there isn't much of regular bass thumping here. Long pieces are their trademark, which doesn't mean the music is very static. In each of their pieces, there is much forward progression to be noted, even when also firmly rooted in ambient and drone music. Long and sustained notes are the backbone of this album, but not of the variety in which someone taps a key on the keyboard down and lets that sound continue. There are lots of sounds swirling in and out of the mix, small and bigger ones, effectively changing the piece's colour all the time. Do I have to mention that the album is a dark one? I think that goes without saying. Dark but not hermetically sealed off the darkness. I think the textures here are dark but not without hope or a glimmer of light. It's a beautiful nightmare, if you get my drift (and if you are willing to accept that such a thing exists), one that covers journeys along scary constellations, rusty spaceships and the language of aliens. It's beautiful stuff for all drone heads and modular freaks or if you like good dark and atmospheric music in general. (FdW)
––– Address: https://icidailleurs.bandcamp.com/
LEONARDO BARBADORO - MUSICA AUTOMATA (CD by Helical)
Here's a new name for me: Leonardo Barbadoro, from Italy, works (also) as Koolmorf Widesen; I am not sure what the difference is here. There is not much information delivered with this CD other than about the musical content. It's said that this a turning point in his compositional and instrumental research, namely one that "brings together two dimensions often perceived as incompatible, even antithetical: the boundless expressive possibilities of electronics implemented by an acoustic instrumental body in a sensory reality, beating, vibrating, and blowing". To this end, he turned to Belgium's Logos Foundation, and together, they developed an orchestral of musical robots, and it is said that this is the largest orchestra of robots in existence. There is much more information about how this was made and what the differences are with other work in this field; that Leonardo didn't use any sound processing and that he managed to make these sounds appear natural. Also, he voids the confines of genres; I am unsure if that is a good idea. One can marvel at how the music is created, as depicted on the inside cover (Barbadoro with two laptops and an array of instruments); there is, of course, the need to enjoy some of the music on the merit of the music itself. I am not the kind of person to marvel that much about technological innovations. I very much believe that the music should sound great, grab me, relax me (or whatever else kind of aim one requires from music). This is not something I found in this album. The idea here is to play orchestral music, and it very much is. A regular classic, modern classic, up-tempo, relaxing and all such are here, but not a single piece grabbed me, relaxed me (or whatever aim I was trying to find), and didn't annoy me. The music was conventional orchestral, with some of the intensity classical music can have; I have a list of favourites there, but I guess that's different for each person. The idea and execution are fine, but the music isn't my cup of tea. (FdW)
––– Address: http://leonardobardaro.bandcamp.com
TOM BICKLEY - JEPSON PRAIRIE (CD by Other Minds)
The Other Minds label have an extensive catalogue, with tons of releases that aren't suitable for Vital Weekly, and I believe they have not much idea what we write about. More difficult are the releases that are a bit in and out of our interest. The CD by Tom Bickley for instance. he's an American composer (1954), who studied music, theology, and library & information science, and uses the recorder and the EWI, the electronic wind instrument, He also has an interest in field recordings as can be heard on his CD 'Jepson Prairie'; Bickley seeks "to listen to the world, always hoping to hear more and more fully". Field recordings on this CD are from his hometown Houston, but also a train station in Kyoto and construction sounds from his current home in Berkeley. Along which he uses instruments, a virtual toy xylohone, voice samples, short wave radio, and double bass, among others. Overall this CD is more inside our field of interest than outside, and while some pieces a re a bit long, such as the title piece, with layered field recordings from the prairie of the same name, without seemingely a lot of development. The sounds are interesting, with Bickley applying musique concrète techniques to everyday sound, which means the music reminds me sometimes of releases by the Empreintes Digitales label, such as in 'Middle Armand Bayou'. In the last piece, 'Solstice', he use the sho and bansuri flutes and he creates a piece that is a bit drone but also modern classical in style, again a dual interest. Quite some interesting music here, which I enjoyed quite a bit, but somehow, one way or another doesn't always grab me. Maybe that's a good thing though. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.otherminds.org/
ORPHAX & PONI - INHERITANCE (LP by Moving Furniture Records)
When you call your project Person of no Importance - or PONI when you write the acronym - you kinda put yourself on a lower level. But the music you write is independent of how you see yourself. Because it's not who you are, it's all about what you say. Those were a few of my thoughts when I listened to this album by one of my favourite drone artists, ORPHAX and his brother, whom I had never heard of before. What do these two guys who have known each other all of their lives say as a duo, and how do they influence each other musically? Of course, they had the same first musical experience by being raised by the same parents. But after a certain point, their ways went in different directions.
So here is a vinyl release on Moving Furniture, which holds the outcome of these experiments and mutual compositions.
The album opens with "As Received", which covers the whole first side of the vinyl. What triggered the creation of this track was a project by Tjeerd (still available at the PONI Bandcamp https://p0n1.bandcamp.com/) where he would send music to befriended musicians who would rework the rough recordings without any restrictions. The result is a 19-minute composition which opens with a drone (by Sietse, without a doubt) with so many layers and dynamics. It's so gorgeous! And when it reaches the 7-minute point, the guitar layers of Tjeerd are added, and it gets even better. It's a perfect build-up if you ever heard one. At the 10-minute mark, entirely in the back, vocals are added as a separate layer. At 12 minutes, the drones/noise and vocals are elevated into a post-rock composition that would be amazing to see live at some point, after which the massiveness is slowly lowered into the clicking of the needle in the final locked groove.
"Sunburns" that opens side B has an intense post-rock feel and reminds me a bit of the Swans during their 'Soundtracks for the Blind' period. "Tears are Necessary" has the same 'Swans'-feeling. More depressive than sad, with a piano tune leading Tjeerd into doing his vocals in the latter part of the track. With more than enough electronics from Sietse to create chaos in the end. "Lockdown" is a 2-minute little thing to close the very erratic album, but it has its charm.
The album is not what you would expect from Orphax and probably not from PONI, but it's worth the vinyl. (BW)
––– Address: https://movingfurniturerecords.bandcamp.com/
ROLAND FIDEZIUS - GRINDING TEETH (CDR by Vision Of Sound)
The inside of the cover shows us the musician Roland Fidezius, a man with a bass guitar; it looks a bit, I'm sorry to say, like a rock pose. I had not heard of him before, nor of the groups of which he's a member, Christian Krischkowsky Quartet, Lorenz Hargassner Quartet, Mark, Odd Shot, Peter Van Huffel's Gorilla Mask, Rob Bauer Consort, So Weiss, and The Occasional Trio. The music he plays solo (on this release) is improvised but not your standard plucking and scraping of the bass. The addition of electronics works miracles here and adds a noise element to the music that works wonders here. The bass shines through all of this, but the electronics are on par with the bass; there is an equal division here. It's where you hear the bass without the electronics that one realises this is an album of improvised music; for me, it's also where I am a little less interested in this. It seems to me that without the electronics, it is too regular. But with the addition of distortion, pitch shifters and who knows what else, the music receives an edge, a dark atmospheric cloud that hovers over the music. I am zoning in and out of this release, a bit lost for words. There are bits I like and don't like, some of which may happen in the piece. I wish that Fidezius would have gone all the way and did an all-noise album with his bass guitar; perhaps, I think it's too much one thing but another. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.vision-of-sound.com
WILSON SHOOK & TED BYRNES - JOY (CDR by Other Ghost)
Out on Other Ghost, the label of Wilson Shook, is a duo of Shook with Ted Byrnes, a drummer and percussionist based in Los Angeles. Shook is a self-taught saxophone player (and clarinet, I should add, but not on this recording) and a manual therapist living in Oakland California since 2022. While living in Seattle until 2022, he had a decade-long association with the Seattle Improvised Music Festival and helped organize a performance space called Gallery 1412. More about Shook can be found here. Ted Byrnes, on the other hand, has been reviewed twice at VitalWeekly, both times with a solo release (1256 and 1250). Recorded somewhere on unceded Tongva land, the indigenous people of Los Angeles, this hour-long improvisation is divided into four pieces, all called Joy and numbers 1 to 4. The first one and, at the same time, the shortest sets the example of what is to follow up until the last piece: controlled aleatoric improvisation bordering on the raucous, with the bass drum or big tom acting as a base note off of which Shook bases his scale he uses on. But always with a groove in both musicians’ output. Shook plays soprano and baritone sax on this release, offering a welcome tone variation. He uses the baritone sax for laying down a disjointed groove, or better yet, licks that suggest a groove. For me, it worked best to take this music in in small dosages. That is to say, piece per piece in several listening sessions. You could say that it is very meditative music: licks and figures are explored by Shook and underlined or counteracted by Byrnes in some way or other. Or better yet, power meditation. The music pounds relentlessly into the air. Only in the last piece does the music quiet down, but not in intensity. Byrnes makes up rhythms with the big tom (I assume it’s a tom) as a focal point or bass ostinato. This is powerful music without compromise. Open your ears, and it will be a joy to listen to Shook and Byrnes. (MDS)
––– Address: https://otherghosts.bandcamp.com/
ILLUSION OF SAFETY - IOS40 (10 cassettes by No Part Of It)
Should you be reading this on the day this goes out to the world, then know this is also the start of a bunch of festivities concerning the 40th birthday of Illusion Of Safety. I believe with concerts in the hometown of Chicago this weekend, but also a small European tour at the end of November, after a long absence. There will be a new/old CD soon, and a ten-cassette box documenting the band's earliest cassette releases is now available. These cassettes are nothing that I haven't heard, as more quickly as Illusion Of Safety appeared on my radar, I was a fan and, very early on, got hold of this first release. I no longer remember when I first heard their music, but it might have very well been the first LP, 'More Violence And Geography', but maybe it was one of the early cassettes that are now part of this box.
The history of Illusion Of Safety starts with a very young Dan Burke seeing Throbbing Gristle on their final tour in 1981 and inspiring him to set out a course in industrial music with a group of rotating members. Best known, of course, was Jim O'Rourke, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, who had quite an influence on the group's sound, be it electronics, improvisation, and, perhaps, bringing more dynamics in the group sound. Other notable members were Mitch Enderle (from Dead Tech), Thymme Jones (Cheer-Accident) and Chris Block. The leading man is Dan Burke (who prefers Daniel these days). They used whatever sound makers they had, which, these days, is anything possible, with many small sounds; in the early days, it was synthesizers, rhythm machines, guitars, short waves and lots of effects. The box starts with the earliest cassette releases, 'It's a Dead Dog' and 'Ecstatic Crisis' and ends with a tape that wasn't a tape back then. Still, one side of sound material supplied by Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock, reworked by Illusion Of Safety, one of those things that was what everyone was doing at the time, reworking each other's sound material, and one of the other side material from 'Finite Material Context', which was also on the CD 'Fifteen/Finite Material', released by Tesco in 1993.
Playing these ten tapes shows some exciting progress in approaches and some diversifications. I don't think that because I had all of these as original tapes, I could hum along. Especially the first two, but also 'My Mind Is Killing Me' and 'Finance & ideology' slipped away in my memory. However, this box also includes some of my favourites of the early cassettes, 'In 70 Countries' and 'RVE', which I always thought had to be reissued on CD. The early music shows obvious signs of what inspired them in the first place, but also early on, they play with more ambient textures, such as the opening of the B-side of 'It's A Dead Dog'. The grainy and distorted guitars, the voice loops and the more rock-like structures are on the early tapes, and in the later ones, there is a denser soundscaping and a more collage-like approach. With a rotating cast of members, influences, techniques and such were all brought in, and that worked very much to develop not one particular style. Still, if you play these ten cassettes, you will recognize recurring musical approaches, and the sum of these approaches is what we call the Illusion Of Safety, at least for this first decade. Later on, this horizon was broadened further, and yet, to this very day, there are traces of this early work to be noted in the music. Come and see me soon! (FdW)
––– Address: https://illusionofsafety.bandcamp.com/album/ios40
BAMF! - MYTHICAL CREATURES (cassette by Old Gold)
Old Gold conveniently put my review of the first Mythical Creatures cassette on Bandcamp, so I don't have to look for it (Vital Weekly 1247). I wrote that I was glad to see the label out of hibernation, but it seems they plunged back until today; I don't think any other release from them arrived. This band is the duo of Ben Young and Marshall Avett, who also run the label. Just as with the previous release, this one comes with a full-colour Xeroxed fanzine, and as before, no instruments are mentioned, just two pieces of twenty-some minutes of improvised noisy electronics in a free form. A rhythm machine pops up occasionally, a guitar jangles about, and there is a pleasant free-form psychedelic edge to this music. Spacious and trippy, this might be the kind of music people make that is slightly intoxicated, but I guarantee you it is not necessary to enjoy this music. There is still that down-in-the-basement sound approach, very direct, despite the many sound effects they use in their music. The title piece is the lighter of the two parts, as in 'Living Room', there is more guitar wailing going on, especially in the final ten minutes of this, which had a spacious opening. There is a free-rock/folk element in this piece and the other one. They roll about, moving around with themes and approaches, in a stream of unconsciousness. Very lovely, in all its rawness. (FdW)
––– Address: https://oldgold1.bandcamp.com/album/bamf
MICHAEL MANNING - KNOTS (cassette by Søvn Records)
In 2005, Michael Manning published his first album on Ai Records, which stood for, get this, Area Info, and now he has returned with a second release. In between, he became "an established audio director in the video games industry". The music on this cassette has nothing to do with computer games (luckily! I don't have to write that I have never played a computer game in my life). Still, he used the technology and facilities of the gaming industry. One of the sources of inspiration, so I am told, is Japanese new-age music from the 1980s. Which is not something I ever heard about or knew was a 'thing'. That means I have minimal reference here, but there's indeed a lighter and more pleasant sound going on here. I think Manning, whose first album I have not heard, uses some kind of modular set-up, and it mentioned the fact that each tape was recorded live and then arranged digitally. There are thirteen pieces here, and the opener, 'Elements', may set off on the wrong foot, as this is a darker drone piece, but straight from the next, the tone is lighter. I am not a fan of new-age music, but to know what I do not like, I should define new-age music, and that's not something I can do (easily, at least). While I hear in Manning's music something a bit cheesy on the Zen-meditation-like angle of music, I also think some of his stuff is too experimental and misses the qualification of new-age music. But, again, what do I know about this? Sometimes, there is that Oval-like ambient quality to the music, which I immensely enjoy. After a few days of intense, non-musical tourist walking in a foreign city, I can relax and enjoy this kind of lighter music. Maybe it's all a bit too light for any other day, but today, it is the perfect soundtrack for getting back into every day action. (FdW)
––– Address: https://sovnrecords.bandcamp.com/
AGOGOL&NAABTALDEATH - [R]IEKO OKUDA [A]GOGOL [N]AABTALDEATH (cassette, private)
A trio of all-around new names for me: Rieko Okuda (piano, voice), Agogol (modified electric guitar, electronics, voice) and Naabtaldeath (amplified prepared zither). Of the six pieces, three were recorded in Okuda's studio, one was a live recording, and two were field recordings. The music is all improvised, and perhaps I am not the audience for it, or, instead, not all of it. The cassette starts with the lengthy 'Total', in which Okuda does that voice improvisation I don't like too much. Once that is out of the way, the music is quite lovely, chaotic and hectic, with that hammering on instruments. That is also something we find in 'Holle', probably to an even more considerable extent, but still quite good. 'Faun' is the first field recording piece, and it is what it is. I assumed it could be this trio playing in a park, but it's a recording of birds. 'Jatot' contains some voice improvisation but is less extreme, while there is a more extensive use of electronics in this piece, especially pitch shifters and delay pedals. These effects mask the sound of the instruments a bit. In the live recording, there is more chaos, but it also loses some of the momentum of the music. It's a bit of a match of sound here. The cassette ends with 'Tune' and is a street recording of some car/machine/vehicle and a most strange ending of this release. I have mixed feelings about this release; some of the music I enjoyed very much, or somewhat quite a bit, but there is some stuff that I didn't care for too much. So it goes, I guess. (FdW)
––– Address: https://agogolnaabtaldeath.bandcamp.com/
Vital - The Complete Collection 1987-1995
Before Vital Weekly there was Vital, a Xeroxed fanzine covering experimental, electronic andelectro-acoustic music; interviews, reviews, in-depth discussion articles, background. All 44 issues in one hardcover book; 580 pages.
More information: http://kormplastics.nl/vtcc.html
A Work By Leif Elggren A Day
With 300 entries, this catalog and almanac in four volumes presents an analysis and projection of possible ways of hearing, seeing, experiencing and living with Leif Elggren's (sonic) art on the basis of a work a day, excluding Sundays and holidays, for a whole year. Written bij Vital Weekly contributor Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg https://non-mfr.bandcamp.com/merch/a-work-by-leif-elggren-a-day
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All written by Frans de Waard (FdW), Dolf Mulder (DM) <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Jliat (Jliat), Freek Kinkelaar (FK), Peter Johan Nijland (PJN), Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg (SSK), Howard Stelzer (HS), Lukas den Warme (LW), Nick Roseblade (NR), Robert Steinberger (RSW), Martijn Comes (MC), Mark Daelmans-Sikkel (MDS), Arjan van Sorge (AVS), Mario Reijnen (MR) and others on a less regular basis. This is a copyright free publication, except where indicated, in which case permission has to be obtained from the respective author before reprinting any, or all of the desired text. The author has to be credited, and Vital Weekly has to be acknowledged at all times if any texts are used from it.
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