number 516
week 10


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DEAR READERS - A FAREWELL (Small info text by Roel Meelkop)
MARTIN TETREAULT & YOSHIHIDE OTOMO - 4.HMMM (Cd by Ambiances Magnétiques)
GJÖLL - WAY THROUGH ZERO (Cd by Ant-Zen Recordings)
LETHE - CATASTROPHE POINT #6 (CD by Lethe Voice) *
VESSEL - PICTURELAND 01 (LP by Pictureland)
DRESSED IN WIRES - THE BIG BLACK COCK OF DEATH EP (12" by Distraction Records) *
FLIM - POLA MUSIC (CDR by Two Sheets Portrait) *


DEAR READERS - A FAREWELL (Small info text by Roel Meelkop)
After eight years of writing irregularly for this highly appreciated magazine, the time has come for me to say goodbye. Workload at my 'official' job is accumulating in such a way that I do not see fit to keep doing this gratifying (but gratis) work any longer. I would like to thank all of you for reading this magazine and of course all the artists and labels for submitting their work to my opinion. This Vital Weekly will publish my last reviews. (MR)
Address: info@r0m.nl

This is not music that crosses these pages regularly: the best description is probably symphonic pop (?). Transfolmer is an artist with many capacities and that may well be his biggest problem. Explanation: his music is so rich in texture, ambience and sound palette, that most people will turn away after three songs, simply because they cannot follow the subtle meanderings of this work. And yes, that is a problem for many. Looking at it from the opposite way, this work is an enchanting journey into a world so personal yet inviting that anyone with enough open-mindedness and some patience will get lost in its intricacies without any doubt. Difficult? Not at all! Easy listening? No way! Hhhhmmm........ Okay, here we go: acoustic guitars, field recordings, lyrics, electronic manipulations etc. etc. A bit long maybe, but just order.
Now this is something to put into the player and then think: NO WAY! This guy has worked with sounds recorded by someone else (all of them acoustic, mind you) and turned it into something completely lounge ambient whatever thingy. How does this guy have the nerve to treat field recordings in such a way??? This is done so incredibly well that I will not use too much words any more... Put this on and forget about pretentious arty farty nitwits who think they know where it's at. This could possibly open up your ears in an unexpected way. But again this could have been shorter... (MR)
Address: http://www.escrec.com


A debut from one of Thieke's many projects. Thieke is a german improvisor who lives in Berlin and Rome. With this new cd Thieke brings together the best from both worlds. Unununium is a quartet of Derek Shirley on bass, Eric Schaefer on drums, Luca Venitucci on accordion and prepared piano, plus Michael Thieke on alto clarinet, alto saxophone and zither. They play jazz in a non-jazz manner. Meaning no swing? In a way surely yes, but it depends how you look at it. They play in a 'less is more'- style and succeed in being very effective that way. The music is full of humor, pleasantly (un)pretentious and poetic, which make this a very sympathetic quartet. The playing is fresh and pure. Some pieces are built upon a very straight rhythm, and because of the odd instrumentation they remind me of some of Steve Beresford's projects like 49 Americans and The Alterations. Just listen to 'Fünf Treppen' or 'Der Idiot'. The prepared piano and little percussion sound as children toy-instruments. 'Nach aussen gewölbte Mönche' - what a tittle! - has Unununium at their most energetic and hectic level. The music jumps from one corner to another. Here the music really takes of. But this quartet has also another side. Pieces like 'Portnoy' and 'Mmm' are spheric improvisations that are investigations in soundcollage and texture. Also most of the other pieces move slowly forward built on little motives that are repeated over and over, but not literally. In the case of 'Ein Käfer werden' the music is to introspective, and fails to catch attention from beginning to the end. Considered as a whole the music on this cd is clearly structured and transparent. The players make up a good team and share the same musical vision and way of playing. They have everything under control. Schaefer is a great drummer, known from other projects with Thieke as well (Nickendes Perlgras). Luca Venitucci on accordion and prepared piano was the greatest surprise for me. But the best thing you can do is to surprise yourself with this cd. It is worth it. (DM)
Address: http://www.charhizma.com/

MARTIN TETREAULT & YOSHIHIDE OTOMO - 4.HMMM (Cd by Ambiances Magnétiques)
Another cd from this notorious duo. If I'm not mistaken, their first collaboration dates from 1999 - the cd '21 situations;. In 2003 they toured together through Europe. At the end of this tour they recorded in Montréal "Studio-Analogique-Numérique", released as three mini-cds. The tour itself is documented in a series of 4 cds (!) of which now the fourth cd is released. This collaboration must have been a very important experience for both gentlemen, as it is so extensively made available. If you know this duo from one of these earlier releases they do not need further introduction. Once again we find them behind their turntables from which they extract the most extreme noises. This 'music' is far beyond all categories and standards that normally define music: its noise concrète. Very physical. It fascinates because of the radical approach and offers the opportunity of experiencing the beauty of noises and sounds. Well, if you are in the right disposition of course. (DM)
Address: http://www.actuellecd.com/

Andrew Liles has had a busy year; only recently his collaborations with Daren Tate (Without Season Parts I-IV) and Tony Wakeford (Cups In Cupboards) were released. Add to this his recent brilliant solo CD Mother Goose's Melodies Or Sonnets From The Cradle featuring narration by England's most favorite eccentric Lord Bath, plus several projects (including one with Steve Stapleton) lined up and you have a very busy man. In fact so busy, that his latest CD is a remix project. On this poetically entitled disc (Liles loves his titles) we find a host of well-known Liles-friends such as Paul Bradley, Colin Potter, Jonathan Coleclough, Bass Communion, Aranos, Darren Tate, Irr. App., Hafler Trio, Nurse With Wound, Vidna Obmana and Freiband paying aural tribute to the man. Each of these artists re-work one of Liles tunes with often-impressive results. At times the mixes remain close to the original gentle collages (like the mixes by Bradley or the very recognizable piano theme Potter uses) or more like soundscapes such as the tracks by Coleclough, Tate, Nurse With Wound (a Soliloquy no less) and Bass Communion. Ruse and The Hafler Trio deliver trademark, more abstract versions and Freiband submits, compared to the other tracks, the noisiest piece of them all. It is interesting to note that as much as these tracks are made by individual artists with individual styles, this CD still sounds as a coherent project, which makes for enjoyable listening and is probably why this is released under the name Andrew Liles. Another intriguing and highly enjoyable addition to the already impressive Liles-catalogue. (FK)
Address: http://www.adverse-effect.com

GJÖLL - WAY THROUGH ZERO (Cd by Ant-Zen Recordings)
Extreme music seems like a flowering part of the culture in the Northern parts of Scandinavia. Norway was in the forefront of the early black metal, just like Sweden was pioneering the death metal-scene from the late eighties forward. Also in the territories of harsh electronic music, Scandinavia has been well going, thanks to the Swedish Industrial legendary label Cold Meat Industry. Icelandic project Gjöll (featuring members from different Grindcorebands such as Forgardur Helvitis) demonstrates with this debut release out on Ant Zen Recordings that the island from the very North of Scandinavia also knows how to push the boundaries of the musical sound. The album titled "Way through zero" is a conceptual work that focuses on the dark sides of human nature. What we are dealing with here is the sound of one man's mental state developing from depression to aggression until, the force of self-awareness tries to defeat the man's soul of darkness. The musical expression of the album describes this mental development in a quite impressive way. "Way though zero" are divided into five parts. All parts are untitled since they more likely describe the different steps of mental development. First part opens with deep rumbling low frequency drones first of all reminiscent of Coil's explorations into harsh electronics on the album "Constant shallowness leads to evil", and the warning printed on the "Constant shallowness."-disc saying "May cause drowsiness - do not play while driving or operating machinery" could well be used on this 7-minutes opening track. Second track works more energetic with ritually mid-tempo rhythm textures and freezing sounds like the outbursts of an electronic processed didgeridoo. The feeling of something waiting to explode lies underneath the surface of this second track. And things certainly happens as third part of the album takes over. Symbolizing the shift from subdued depression to driving aggression, pure hatred comes to expression and hell breaks loose as harsh waves of evil drones penetrates. On the first two tracks the voice of a man getting more and more frustrated lied somewhere in the sonic expression. On this third track the voice changes from angry to furious as the voice are sucked into aural machinery reminiscent of Swedish Power Electronics-maestro Brighter Death Now. After this exercise in sonic extremity fourth track sneaks slowly up. Subtle, almost inaudible drones of isolation symbolises the mental state of pensiveness. A whispering voice assists to build the feeling of tranquillity. Fifth and final track, with its 19 minutes being the longest track, returns back to the more dramatic expression with buzzing noise drones bouncing back and forth in approx. 12 minutes until atmospheric ambient sounds of suppression brilliantly describes the man's desperate attempt to break the circle of viciousness. Whether he succeeds to break loose is questionable, since the ambience nicely balances between a feeling of relief and endless depression. Judged by the sonic expression the ending of the story is open for the listener to interpret. Never the less this is an excellent thematic exploration into the dark sides of human souls. A quite unusual album in the Ant Zen-sphere, because of its sonic introspective character. Highly recommended! (NMP)
Address: http://www.ant-zen.com


And oh yes, I do like popmusic. People sometimes ask if I do play 'normal' music, and I state that all music is normal, but that by some definition I also like regular popmusic. So, yes, I do like The Unireverse, an all Moog trio of Alex Moskos (ex member of the experimental rock band Kubelka), Brian Damage (ex member of Phycuss) and Micheal Caffery (of Daydream Square and ex member of Beautifuzz), and they are from Canada, in case these band names don't mean a thing. They play way-out strange covers of popmusic. I did recognize 'U Feel Love', but 'Tomorrow Never Knows' is really something different than the highly respected original. Retro is written all over this release. The Unireverse play four covers in total, besides the two already mentioned, also 'Transparent Radiation' (Red Krayola) and the infamous 'Brainticket' by Brainticket (and perhaps better known as the cover that Nurse With Wound did as 'Brained By Fallen Masonry'). The originals are hidden in there, but The Unireverse stretch things out to incredible length, moving the pieces into different areas, a large space jam. In between they have short compositions of their own making, which are great bridges between the tracks. My favorites are the Donna Summer and Brainticket ones. Prog-rock is written all over, but it has surely a nice twist all around. Excellent stuff to scare off those who sanctify the originals and impress new friends with something entirely 'new and exciting'. Just simply great, witty and to cherish. (FdW)
Address: http://www.electrocd.com

With their recent releases, Nextera moves towards a form of ambient music that is very closely linked to the world of New Age music. If you know that 'Shapes Of Silence' is an electro-acoustic composition for Tibetan bowls, pipes, percussion, sound objects and the singing fountain of the Royal Summer Palace of Queen Anne in Prague, then you may have an idea, what I am talking about. But just as much with say Oophoi, Nextera gets away with it, since Vtastslav Matousek crafts a nice piece together. Matousek has a Ph D in music, and is especially busy with ethnological instruments, Czech folk music but (luckily) also in the alternative rock areas. 'Shapes Of Silence' has five pieces over relatively dark drones (I assume out of processing the sound of Tibetan bowls) and field recordings of water splashing around which were really nice, but the pieces that were lighter with shakuhachi playing made with raise an eyebrow and thinking that the new age is never far away. Occasionally there is a higher pitched sound however that rescues the music from falling over in the pit-holes of new age (which you must have guessed is something I don't like). This saves this release and still keeps it in the right musical areas, save for an occasional glitch. A nice ambient release for those who know what to expect. Although I normally don't do this, I must admit that the art work of the recent Nextera releases is not really that nice and looks a quite cheap. With limited means one could make something much nicer, I think. (FdW)
Address: http://www.nextera.cz

Kiyoharu Kuwayama aka Lethe from Nagoya is a man that is not often reviewed in Vital Weekly, perhaps simply because there aren't that many of his releases. In Nagoya he has a small studio under the subway bridge, filled with all sorts of self-built instruments and machinery, and creates much of what he does through methods of improvisation. However for 'Catastrophe Point #6', Lethe went to Lausanne in Switzerland where he stayed a month to record this piece (in two parts) at a place called Arsenic. It's not easy to describe the music of Lethe. With his violin or cello pieces it was easier, since you could say it was related to drone music in a modern classical way, but the two pieces here it's less obvious drone related but on the other hand it is. I know that sounds a bit of a contradiction, but with the pieces or objects that fall towards the floor, in combination with a rich amount (perhaps sometimes a big too rich) of reverb, creates an open architectural atmosphere that in a way is hugely organic, taking the listener to different spheres. It's hard to tell what the sound sources are, other than a vague suggestion of stuff falling on the floor or perhaps the amplified sound of chemical dropping on a metal plate. The cover, a nice printed hardboard A4 sized print suggest something like that. This is music to take in on a low volume in a darkened room. It will have an effect of disturbance as much as it relaxes the listener. Quite nice altogether. (FdW)
Address: http://www.lethe-voice.com/kk

VESSEL - PICTURELAND 01 (LP by Pictureland)
There are people that swear by vinyl and how it's best thing for music of the likes of Vessel, aka Gavin Toomey (see also Vital Weekly 363 and 489), but for me there is not much difference, although I would tend to prefer on it CD. Easy to carry around, but hey me no DJ, so what do I know? The music by Vessel has been released previously by Expanding Records, which might give a clue in which musical corner Vessel is lurking about: the more intelligent forms of techno related music, with a strong dose of melancholic chords on a bunch of software synths. Noted before is that his music is a bit more mellow that some of his country men (as this music seems to be damm English, or perhaps nothing else lands here?), less forceful and perhaps a bit more dramatic, such as the opener of side two. The unfortunate thing is this music seems to me a bit at the point of a dead end. How many more melancholic chords over broken beats can one play? Where is the innovation that will elegantly push this forward? Time is ready for it. (FdW)
Address: http://www.picturelandrecords.com

Just when I thought I could pin down the Distraction Records label as one of the many nice small 7" labels for electronic music they surprise me with their latest releases. Lacrymose One is a band around singer songwriter Richard Mark Warren and their 'Sometimes A Sense Of Realism' is a slow but heavy rock song that breaks out into some heavy guitar work. I must admit that I thought 'nice, but not my thing', but maybe that's because this kind of 'alternative' rock is never so my thing. Sansava on the other side have an untitled track with spacey guitars, brushes that cymbals and a spacey voice. A bit Sigur Ros like, but unfortunately the format of a 7" doesn't work too well for this. It should be longer.
The first release on 12" is a picture disc by Simondo Topless, aka Dressed In Wires. Not just another format, but also a different style for Distraction Records - again. This is electronica, but that's about it as far it goes with the previous 7"s. No smooth, melancholic keyboards here, but garage punk played on a laptop. From hardcore breakbeats, chaos, mayhem, feedback, singing and with the second piece on the first side even a momentum quietness. It's certainly one spin loud at parties and drive the audience insane, but altogether a bit much to play just at home, I think. Unless you need a good wake-up call. (FdW)
Address: http://www.distractionrecords.com

FLIM - POLA MUSIC (CDR by Two Sheets Portrait)
As I listen to Flim's 'Pola Music' I look outside. Last night it snowed, which in The Netherlands is a rare thing for March. It means that during the day much of it melts away and perhaps it will start snowing again tonight. As said, inside with the heather on and the CD player chewing Flim's 'Pola Music', and the music sounds very much like the weather conditions outside. Field recordings, sparse piano tones, something that could be a harmonium of some kind. Small pieces of music which Enrico Wuttke recorded onto minidisc over the course of years. Sketches, ideas, melting away like snow. In the final piece 'Fnäh', which lasts thirty minutes (!, whereas the others lasts about 1 or 2 minutes), everything melts together. It's the only multitrack piece on this CD, but it carries throughout the same sparseness in sound that is elegantly present in the short pieces on this CD. Warm, intimate music that fills the atmosphere around in a beautiful way. It will be cold outside for a while, but the snow will melt away. It will be warm inside, but it will stay warm for a while. (FdW)
Address: http://www.flimmusic.com

These two releases on Twenty Hertz both deal with a collaboration, even when one just says Darren Tate on the cover. His release, 'The Elves Are Coming' consists of him playing guitar and keyboard whilst in the background there is a field recording by Daisuke Suzuki. It was mixed in two days in early january of this year and, although it is never stated, it's probably recorded then also, as the whole thing has a very direct, almost 'live' feel to it. The guitar sometimes just 'hums' and seems not to be doing much, while we hear sounds of someone shuffling about in what seems to me a wooden cabin of some sort. It's the sort of ambient drone music that is not necessarily demanding much, more like a sort of coincidental colliding of sound particles. That may sound perhaps a bit too easy, but it's this apparent randomness that is quite nice.
Marked as a 'real' collaboration is Twenty Hertz boss Paul Bradley and Eugenio Maggi, aka Cria Cuervos from Italy. Their collaboration is a much tighter work, more strictly composed in the world of ambient drone music. Deep bass hum starts the piece, and then little by little they add their own blend of field recordings, working slowly their way into a mighty crescendo and then again as slowly again towards the end, taking the sound down. Probably it's because of the Cria Cuervos influence, but it sounds a tad more ambient industrial here and there than some of Paul Bradley's other work. That is nice, since it breaks away a bit from the more 'traditional' drone works on Twenty Hertz, even when as such the music doesn't open a new path in that particular field of music. But all in all it's a good solid work from these two. (FdW)
Address: http://www.twentyhertz.co.uk

Usually there is some information at the website of Minus N with their releases, but not so in Masaya Sasaki's case. Just a few words, more like poetic statements and that's it. There is however another difference too. Up until now most of the Minus N releases worked around some form of rhythm, either dub, techno or some such, but Sasaki plays a different tune. The first two tracks are sine wave like pieces, moving slowly around in circles. A bit like Alvin Lucier would do. Great pieces actually. Then comes the title piece, which also a sine wave but one that is hovering somewhere at the lower end of the spectrum, but there is a bunch of rhythmic particles floating around it. Sampled sine waves chopped up in to small bits. The final piece is 'Motion 8', and that sort of break the release. A much clearer keyboard piece with a straight 4/4 rhythm. It perhaps works nice as a counter piece, but for me it breaks the austerity of the first three pieces and as far as I'm concerned it could have been not on there. Otherwise thumbs up! (FdW)
Address: http://www.minusn.com






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