number 999
week 36


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LOREN CONNORS - LIVE IN NEW YORK (CD by Family Vineyard) *
SQID (2CD by Mikroton) *
MURAL - TEMPO (3CD by Sofa) *
JOCELYN ROBERT - THE MAZE (CD by Fragment Factory) *
XU[E] - BROWN JENKIN (CDR by Thirsty Leaves Music) *
MODELBAU – GETAWAY (3"CDR by Korm Digitaal) *
MODELBAU – HYPHEN (cassette by Powdered Hearts Records) *
EX YOU - WHATKNOT (cassette by Small Scale Music)

This might, at least on paper, look like very weird, odd, wonderful combination of improvising musicians. Currently Jim O'Rourke lives in Japan (well actually for quite some years now) and occasionally he plays concerts with Akira Sakata, the alto saxophonist who is now 70 and at the forefront of Japanese free jazz music. In the concerts O'Rourke plays guitar, harmonica and electronics. In June 2013 the two of them met up with Chikamorachi, the duo of Chris Corsano on drums and Darin Gray on double bass and percussion and Merzbow's Masami Akita on noise electronics. Without Merzbow, the four of them also recorded an album called 'And That's The Story Of Jazz' (see Vital Weekly 802). While it says on the cover 'produced by Jim O'Rourke June 2013 at Steamroon in Tokyo, I may believe this is not some live recording with the five of them on stage, but a multi-track recording, carefully mixed together by O'Rourke. This means players can be pushed in and out of the mix. One could, for instance, easily think that someone like Merzbow would take sonic command here and be all over the place, but he's not. In fact these seventy-one minutes of music has an extended part that is very quiet, somewhere between minute 18 and minute 34, when they all play a highly contemplative sound, everything seems very well under control. There are also three extended parts in which these five men go all the way, on all out mission of free jazz, with especially the saxophone, the guitar and the noise electronics playing wild parts while the rhythm section keep tights tabs on the proceeding. Sakata even adds voice to the extended dish in the final ten or so minutes, creating an almost power electronics effort. Each of these three pieces are introduced by some more sparse playing, usually by Sakata, which might be the wise old man in this group, for whom everyone has much respect. This is, the larger portion at least, very much in the world of free jazz and as such might be far away from Merzbow's usual noise or O'Rourke's drones or pop songs (depends where you heard the name first), and as such something 'different'. If you are long time fan of any of these people, then you know 'different' is not something they do. They just do all sorts of music: mark of great musicianship.
As the title obviously implies, the new release by Loren Connors is a live recording. The first two pieces (the second being just under two minutes) were recorded on November 6 2014 at the Webster Hall and six days later he played The Wick in Brooklyn. Also back in Vital Weekly 802 I reviewed an album of Connors, who by now has an impressive back catalogue of works. Most of the very old ones were acoustic, but since some time Connors play all electric and still all improvised. I don't know how often Connors plays these days and if a release of a live album is really necessary as such; maybe it is. It is the improvised nature of his music that made me think not every concert should be released; it could be available, through, say Bandcamp. Having said that, I must admit at the same time that I don't hear that much music by Connors anyway, so what's there to whine about. Here Connors is again in a particular gloomy mood, with his guitar howling away, with some utterly sparse music. Not that this quiet, far from it. There is just a guitar being played with mild sustaining tones coming across, howling like a lone wolf at night. This is your true blues music, as much that this also noise music. 'The Wick' is less about the 'high end' notes and more about some deep end rumble on the guitar, which becomes less and less recognizable in this one, until Connors find a snare or two and picks that. All of this with the mild shrills of feedback/reverb never far away. Very moody music; best enjoyed in the dark with a glass of red wine, in complete solitude. (FdW)

It is highly likely you never heard of Jose Maceda (1917-2004) who was an ethnomusicologist and composer from the Philippines. "Since 1953 he has conducted field research through the Philippines and in eastern and western Africa, Brazil, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam", is about all it says on the cover of this double CD with a collection of Filipino traditional music and folk songs, recorded from 1963 to 1972. You could wonder if such a release belongs to the world of Vital Weekly, as it deviates perhaps from some of the other field recordings releases we sometimes review. This one firmly belongs to the world of folk music and as such it is for us, the un-initiated in the world of folk music, hard to say anything sensible about it. The Philippines is an immense country and I have no idea where to place the Kalingga ethnic group, the Ayte ethnic group, the Tiruray ethnic group and such like. Are the close to each other, far away? Some of these (Ayte) use an electric guitar, but most of these is sung and played on flutes and drums. So I can only judge this by listening and telling what I hear; and what I heard I quite enjoyed actually. This was all highly captivating stuff, lots of voice material, percussion and wind instruments, some of which sounded very raw indeed. It is, with two hours, also quite a lot of material one hears, but I thought of all of this as a trip; a trip through time and space, from the 1960s and the Philippines and with the already grey autumn weather this sounded like a bit of sunshine. If you like Alan Lomax and the work he did, but you want something from an entirely different country, then this might be your cup of tea. (FdW)

SQID (2CD by Mikroton)
Packed in the whitest cover since 'The White Album' (which was actually called 'The Beatles' but alas), but without imprint bearing the name comes a double (also!) CD by Sqid. This is a group with Angelica Castello (paetzold flute, cassettes, radios, toys, ukulele), Mario de Vega (electronics), Attila Faravelli (electronics through modified speakers) and Burkhard Stangl (guitar, devices). Sqid was formed in 2011 and focuses on 'live sound art and sound performances that push the bounds of the conventional formats of the concert and recording situation'. August 2014 saw them being artist in residence at the Kleylehof, near Nicklesdorf in Austria. Along came Gudinni Cortina, a Mexican media artist, filming their actions and adding sound himself. The group used the various spaces around the building as well as inside and blend their improvisations together with field recordings - and sometimes, by playing outside, the environment becomes part of the music. This makes all together some highly strange music. One not always has a clear picture of what is going on. Partly this is because everything seems to be recorded at a very low volume. You hear sounds a far, and that might be a tractor on the land, but then someone close by is also rumbling with an object or instrument not too far away from the microphone, which is desperately trying to pick up that tractor. I believe this is all a work of putting sounds next to each other and not so much as one-on-one recording of a particular improvised session of four or five persons. Sometimes nothing seems to happen at all in here, and then suddenly a lot. Sqid uses a lot of found materials on the spot and by using odd placement of the microphones, it sounds just 'odd' - like someone is playing these sounds in another room. This worked best on the second disc, with it's two long pieces: a collage of these sounds, spread apart with lots of empty space between them, but it works very well as a long form collage. On the first disc there are eleven, shorter pieces and somehow it works less here. All of these pieces are called 'Img_7697', 'Img_7750' and so on; to extent this analogy of images: the first disc has snapshots and the second disc has photographic compositions. 'Img_7728' is the longest piece, taking the listener through a variety of textures, while 'Img_7923' is a nocturnal affair of chirping insects and very soft 'other' (unidentified) sounds. Two excellent pieces of music and eleven that certainly qualify as good. Nothing in here is easy to access, but that's part of the beauty I guess. (FdW)

MURAL - TEMPO (3CD by Sofa)
With a title such as 'Tempo', one could easily assume this is a release dealing with rhythm. That's not the case; it seems to refer to the fact that you have to switch CDs two times and then you will have heard the complete thing. The complete thing being a four hour concert recording (minus the first hour, for whatever unknown reason) by a trio named Mural (Jim Denley on wind instruments, Kim Myhr on twelve-string guitar, zither and Ingar Zach on gran cassa and percussion) at the Rothko Chapel in Houston. They could have released a DVD with audio only and have no interruption at all (what would the title have been then, I was thinking). But it is decided to be three discs. Mural already played before at the Rothko Chapel (also available on CD) but this time they went for something that is hardly traditional concert length (well, zoviet*france could do such a length). This is something to switch on, sit back and enjoy; one could engage in other activities (reading, sleeping, talking) or one could contemplate, as if one was in a chapel of any kind. This group, of which Kim Myhr is for me the odd ball, of whom I had not heard before, plays their music expansive, taking long curves. There is nothing overtly hectic around here and everything happens in slow speed. Mural takes their time to explore and develop their music. It's not, however, some super meditative sound, but instead Mural goes through passages which I deem to be loud and evasive; maybe even noise also, but they are usually followed by something that is more quiet, subdued, introspective; and usually those quieter passages take more time. Maybe this isn't at all Rothko like, I was thinking, which would maybe something that is indeed long-form, sustaining and very quiet, but no doubt the music is not here to support the Rothko paintings but be something as large of it's own. It's a long ride, this three-hour release, but it's worth it, every minute. (FdW)

When I opened this package, my first thought was: Raison D'ętre? That's a name from a long time ago. Cold Meat Industry, mid-90s, if my memory doesn't fail me (and it usually does), but (upon a small search) I learned that Peter Andersson never stopped releasing music; it's just that I haven't seen much of it over the past 15 or more years. He spent four years working on this collaborative album with Germany's Troum, stars in the ambient industrial firmament. I assume much, if not all, of this was generated through the exchange of sound files via the Internet. I know Troum, whose career I have been following, use a lot of electronics, but also guitar, accordion and percussion, to great vast mind-expanding pieces of heavy weight ambient music. What Raison D'ętre does I am less sure of, but somehow, in the back of my mind, I am thinking much of it uses sampling. This combination leads to wonderful results. It is, and that is perhaps a sad thing, something you would expect them to do; these musicians don't set about creating something that you haven't heard before. They have carved out their own niche in creating deep atmospheric music and will continue to do for many years to come. This is not a place where you look for innovation. You look for the minutia differences in what you know and love in their music. That might be for instance a somewhat quiet opening in 'Meditationum', almost new age like (difference!) before picking up a more traditional approach or the recordings of fire in 'Atmosphaera' - and maybe throughout there seems to be an extended use (more than before I was thinking) of field recordings, processed and otherwise. The musical is quite dark, very minimal in its changes and it works great. A rainy day soundtrack, cold and grey, and you know you want to stay inside, curtains closed, lights dimmed and play this loud, and be fully immersed with this music. That's how this works best, when all the singing ringing sounds wash over you. An excellent mixture of pure electronic sound, field recordings and heavily treated instruments. You didn't expect anything else from these three men, and they deliver the best they can. An excellent release. (FdW)

Over the many years that Eliot Sharp is active, since the late 70s, I must admit I have heard only a very, very small portion of it. Sharp has played in rock groups, improvisation, no wave and even techno, but also composes classical music, for solo instruments, small ensembles and orchestral pieces. This new work on Starkland has four of these pieces, and three of them have four parts, one has three. It opens with the title piece which is a piece for string quartet, and it's a most exciting piece as it shatters any expectation I had with the word 'string quartet' - it's nothing smooth or quiet, carefully bowing strings but in stead this quartet uses rewound bows, spring bows and bows fitted with metal ball chains and the sound is that scraping the wooden boxes, almost like a piece of electro-acoustic music. It's a powerful piece of music that is a perfect opening piece for a CD: it makes sure you are fully upright, paying attention. In 'Oligosono' it's all about a piano and producing sounds on the string as well as the keys, but keeping it all quieter than in the title piece. It's also a most minimalist approach that Sharp has here, working with overtones. In 'Proof Of Erdös', a tribute to the mathematician and 'On Corlear's Hook', about the area where Sharp lives, the minimalism is still present in his music, but then played by an orchestra. There is a fine, repeating sense to the music, almost like a minimal rock band playing (think Glenn Branca), but then with the scraping of bows on the violin, especially in 'Proof Of Erdös'. I am less charmed by this more classical approach, but I must say I enjoyed the sharp minimalism of it quite a bit. It is just harder for me to place this in the 'right' perspective. Great work! (FdW)

Here's new music by Human Greed, also known as Micheal Begg, his eight album by now, if I counted well, and it's actually by Michael Begg/Human Greed. No longer we see the name of Derek Thomas, or indeed anything guest players this time. So maybe this is first solo album, and Begg hasn't decided if he should use his own name or Human Greed. Maybe this is a bit of a transitional album? The music seems to have shifted a bit from the somewhat folkier textures, all very dark obviously, of the earlier works into something that is much more ambient. On his website Begg writes that this album is more like a sketchbook. Just a few lines, colours, depicting a landscape, and the music would sound like a landscape too. It's not unlikely one is reminded of Brian Eno's 'On Land', remembering places through sound, although in Begg's case there is not a lot of direct references to places; in fact 'Ameland Et Amsterdam' might be the only overtly direct one. 'The Garden' opens with the sound of birds, but it seems to me that this is one of the few instances in which there are field recordings. Much of the music comes from the sound of synthesizers, playing some long sustaining sounds in the lower register (unless of course field recordings are treated to such an extent that we no longer recognize them as field recordings); there is quite some reverb to add more space to the proceeding and every now and then there is a bit of piano, acting as a kind of counter point to the long form sounds. It is quite a refined album, and a bit of a difference for Michael Begg/Human Greed. In the long history of ambient music this is all perhaps less of a surprise, but none the less it's an album crafted with great care and which sounds great. Perfect for what seems to be the starting of another dark season. (FdW)

JOCELYN ROBERT - THE MAZE (CD by Fragment Factory)
It's been only a few months since I reviewed 'Piano Seul' by Jocelyn Robert, a work he composed on the disklavier. That one interest he has for a long time, but his work is not exclusively centred on this instrument. His new work is in fact something entirely different. It is a work of electro-acoustic nature, of computers, of field recordings, found sound and instruments. The four pieces here deal can be seen as "a map of different territories", Robert writes, "But the mapped territories are not contiguous: I am the tunnel that links these places and times, I am the border that keeps them together." Robert tells us stories about these places, but he leaves out stuff, very much like if one would make a map: there is always "scaling, removing, enhancing, and adding". It's not always clear where these places are; maybe only 'San Francisco #1' gives us an indication of a place. Sometimes a voice pops up, such as in 'La Ville, La Nuit', which indicates we are in Brussels. It's not easy to link all of the text (and there is more on the website) to the actual music, but I must say, regardless of any story, it makes up quite an interesting listening experience. Robert takes quite a conceptual approach to his field recordings and chops them and down, and sometimes leaves them untouched, such as in 'La Ville, La Nuit'; but in 'San Francisco #1' everything is cut-up, and it sounds like a walk in the park with a failing microphone causing lots of drop-outs. In 'La Chute d'Icare' there is a bit of piano, gradually turning from processed to un-processed and it makes an unusual more musical coda to this release. 'Le Fil d'Ariane', the opening piece, on the other hand makes more noisy waves and in between we have some fifty minutes of finely crafted electro-acoustic music. It's certainly not a story that is easy read, but it allows the listener for many interpretations of his own. (FdW)

While I was sure I reviewed music by Miki Yui in the past, I couldn't find any evidence of that, even when two of her albums were released by Line, albeit in 2001 and 2003. Over the years she hasn't released a lot of music; in fact, since her debut in 1999, 'Oscilla' is her sixth album. She has worked for years with Klaus Dinger from Neu! until his death in 2008 and from 2004 to 2011 also with Rolf Julius (also to his death). She also creates sound installations, drawing and performance. Much of what she does deals with 'small sounds' and 'quiet music', and she uses microphone feedback, analogue synthesizers and self-constructed solar oscillators. I must admit I didn't find much of this to be that soft. In the opening piece, 'Cyano', there is 4/4 beat to be noted, but throughout this album that seems to be one of the few moments this happens. Yui likes her music to be minimal and as such she has a few loops of sounds per track and makes small variations with these loops. The sounds she uses for these loops are based on acoustic sounds, the ones you pick up with a contact microphone; a few objects on the floor, cups, spoons and such like. She adds to that some loops of a more electronic nature, and plays around with these, dropping effects in and out as she plays them. Longer form sounds, such as bird sounds in 'Animatoscope', can be added. It's all seemingly 'easy' music to make and maybe it is. It is however the end result that counts I would say and the end result is very good. Not great though. It reminded me very much of early laptop music, when Ableton Live was a fine loop player, with a bunch of effects; of early patches of max/msp to alter sounds and the time of Ritornell and Tomlab. The era of warm glitchy music, and these days there is not a lot of that around anymore, or so it seems. Miki Yui has eleven tracks in thirty-seven minutes, which makes this all quite 'pop' like - and 'pop' can be understood here many ways. It is music that goes against many current trends and by someone who remains honest her own principles of 'small sounds'. That's great. (FdW)

Of these two releases, the LP is slightly older, beyond our six-month limit, but what are rules for if you can't break 'm every now and then. I had not heard of either of them. Guy Harries is involved in 'projects ranging from garage rock to chamber opera, from sound art to electro art pop and multimedia musicals. He has played with The Pow Ensemble, LOOS, Robert van Heumen, Han Buhrs and Luc Houtkamp (quite a few Dutch people I noted, but also with others) and Yumi Hara worked with Geoff Leigh, Hugh Hopper, Charles Hayward and others, and everything here reads 'serious improvisation'. They have been working together as a duo since the mid-noughties (geeh, I hardly see that used and never assumed people would use it seriously) and played around at various places and, like their album, they called their pieces 'sonic rituals'. "The structure of the performances which is never premeditated, is inspired by the concept of ritual, imbued with intent and a sense of inevitability, yet allowing for risk and unpredictability to lead the scenario in new directions". Among the instruments they use we find voice, piano, clarinet, percussion, toy accordion, found objects, flute clarinet, recorder, penny whistles, melodica and found objects. This music is not easy to judge, I think, as it seems to me there is surely some visual aspect not to be ignored. It made me a bit suspicious, but that's not uncommon when I hear the word 'rituals'. Maybe it's because I find myself to be so remote from anything that involves rituals, psychological layers, religion, meaning or such like; this kind of stuff might easily be lit with candles and incense, hippie-dippy lovie-dovie. I just don't enchant any spirits, but take things more face value. It's maybe because I would rather think of my own use for whatever music. There are differences between both sides of the record. I like the side-long title piece on the second side better than the three shorter pieces on the other side. Those pieces were more acoustic and had an overall random feel to it, whereas on the other side we have a more electronic sound, which made it all more psychedelic in approach; maybe a bit long, maybe also a bit unorganised but it worked quite well, even if one isn't intoxicated by whatever flavour.
The CDR has recordings from late 2014 and from May 2012 and basically continues what I just heard on vinyl, save it that these live recordings are even sparser than some of the material on the LP. Just a few sounds, and always voice; humming without words, using words which are hard to understand, washes of synth, lots of reverb (obviously!), some flutes here and there. It worked best for me when something seemed to derail, such as the industrialized loop in 'A Crack On The World Egg'. I must admit, I wasn't blown away by all of this. It's maybe that sceptical voice inside my head that reminded me of all those things I am sceptical about, the ritual, the way these things look (and smell); maybe Harries and Hara are not like that at all and this is (and that it is, no doubt) all sincere about something else, some sort of dark energy that works wonderfully well. It's something I can only judge if I would experience this in concert. (FdW)

A duo of drums and keyboards, that's what Protovulcan is. Nothing new of course, going back Silver Apples, but also Sogar & Swing, Zzz and Zombi, with my personal hero Steve Moore on synthesizers (and hey why not: Yellow Magic Orchestra, even when not really a duo that is). No doubt there are lots more, each with their own starting point. Deric Criss plays drums here (related to the drummer of Kiss I wondered? Probably not) and Will MacLean plays moog, wurlitzer and vocoder. Their entry point seems to be loud music, with a slight symphonic edge to it. The drums pound away, loud and unrelentness and the synthesizers play thick chords in the lower regions of the keyboard, and the oscillations bend towards the bass end too. Protovulcan recorded this in a very direct environment, so it bursts with energy. It has the aggression of a fine punk record, but it has the musicianship of well-honed rock band. The vocoder is just something that makes Protovulcan sound a bit different, I guess, but I must admit it doesn't always work. It is very abstract, so lyrics are rendered beyond actual words, and becomes another sound. That is of course nice, but after a few of these songs the gimmick wears out a bit. Nine pieces in about thirty minutes: that's almost like 'pop' length for you, and which made play it on repeat while cleaning up the house. Such was the drug-like capacity of the music. Maybe I am a sucker for keyboard music? Maybe I am a sucker for these high-energy bursts? I'd love to see Protovulcan do this in concert! Excellent release. (FdW)
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Dolf Mulder reviewed previous releases by Stefan Christoff (see Vital Weekly 870, 920 and 965), but this landed on my desk and out of curiosity (always!) I sneaked a preview to see what this about. I expected something that was perhaps more along the lines of what interests mister Mulder, improvisation, jazz, contemporary classical and perhaps this would be not unlike what we get here, which is all to do with the piano, played by Christoff himself and the electronics of one Nick Schofield. Maybe my judgement is clouded because in the last few months the first thing I play during the early hours after waking up, is something out of golden domain of Harold Budd, Brian Eno and/or William Basinski, and it doesn't escape that this work by Schofield/Christoff is not unlike some of the early Budd/Eno records; and, come to think of it, Harold Budd has a background in jazz music too. There you go. Not that there is anything jazz like about this music anyway, far from it. But it shares the similar atmosphere of Budd/Eno, as this isn't some piano sound treated by computer/electronics, but they sit, comfortably next to each other. The piano plays the main role, and the electronics are woven around this, in a very sparse way. It however colours the sound of the piano in a great way, adding space to it. Maybe this was recorded in a large(r) space, but all of this, piano, electronics, space add to the refined nature of the ambient music. It is perhaps not much new under the sun, but I thought this was a great release. Twelve relatively short pieces, clocking at thirty-four minutes and that was perhaps the downside: I need some more time waking up in the morning. I should put this release on repeat at least once more before starting up. (FdW)

Let's hope the liner notes that I received along with the copy of the release also appear on the website because they make an interesting read; it doesn't, however, tell you anything about the composer himself. Also his own website doesn't learn us much, other than that he is trained multi-media artist. In each of the five pieces samples are used of 'a concrete type', and all of these are heavily treated on the computer. These concrete sounds aren't always described in the text, so one has to guess a bit. I didn't even try starting to think about those origins, but opted to sit back and listen for myself, to let it all come towards me. Ferrazza operates very much in the field of electro-acoustic and acousmatic music. The computer works overtime to process these sounds and when he has a whole bunch of results he starts putting them together in the form of a composition. The work he does is in fact quite traditional, perhaps along the lines of music on Empreintes Digitales, the Canadian label, but I must say that I seem to enjoy Ferrazza's music better than the releases on that label. It is slightly more minimal and even more abstract. The glissandi don't go up and down the scale all the time, but move around slowly and have in general a more ambient feel to it. A bit dark, obviously I'd say; traditional but great music, with an excellent spatial quality to it. (FdW)

XU[E] - BROWN JENKIN (CDR by Thirsty Leaves Music)
The introduction to Greece's Thirsty Leaves Music goes via their (fourth) release, by Xu[e] and a compilation, being their third release. With my non-love for compilations I started with the Xu[e], being a duo (from Italy I assume), being "Xu (Nicola Fornasari) - radio, distortion, fuzz & ringmod pedals, line6 pod, korg monotron, double bass, drum programming and Xue (Andrea Poli) - audio bulb ambient software module, samples". From Fornassi I reviewed a solo CD, as Xu, in Vital Weekly 939. On their own bandcamp I see they have a bunch more releases, but nothing between 2008 and 2013; for whatever reason they were not together. This new work, consisting of ten tracks, was recorded between December 2014 and January 2015. From their use of instruments it is not easy to say what it would sound like, but upon listening I think one can safely say the element of noise is present in their music, but it's not noise for noise's sake. They like their music to be heavy, multi-layered, and loud but also with a refined sense for atmospheric music. When a piece has drums, it's usually of the jazzier sort, which is nice in these fields of heavy-weight noise drones, such as in the title piece. But the music can also be very introspective and subdued, as in 'Still Sleeping Host', which seems to me a bit too short; I surely would have loved this to be a bit longer. This album walks nicely a thin line between the super layered, super heavy drone/noise sound and all things more quiet and atmospheric. A bit of doom jazz is never far away. Xu[e] produced their music with quite some eye for sonic detail and it offers quite some variation in these pieces and that's what makes this album a most enjoyable one. Excellent album!
Then there is the unavoidable label compilation. Obviously we now recognized the name Xu[e], but there is also music by Giorgor Christianakis, Shanyio, Fastus, Gusev K.P., Steven Sandberg, John Daly & Moody Alien & Zenjungle,, KR Seward and James Ross. I don't believe any of these meant a lot to me. The CDR comes in a finely hand printed sleeve. The Xu[e] piece had a bunch of sampled violins, which sounded again different than the album I just heard. The other pieces are not dissimilar to the music of Xu[e]: there is a strong interest in playing the atmospheric card here, through samples, through electronics, adding a flavour of saxophones and brushes on snares, effectively creating more dark/doom jazz inspired music. Each of these bands/persons has their own particular take on the subject, which is great, as it brings you an album of like minded music but with enough differences to make to interesting to hear all of this. The piece Daly/Alien/Zenjungle piece is, at fourteen minutes, perhaps a bit long, otherwise there is not a lot to complain about it, and why should we? If that's the label sound: let's have some more of it. (FdW)

MODELBAU – GETAWAY (3"CDR by Korm Digitaal)
MODELBAU – HYPHEN (cassette by Powdered Hearts Records)
Modelbau, a project of Frans de Waard, has mostly released music on cassettes. The basic idea was to release Modelbau only at the Internet, but as Barreuh wanted to release some Modelbau music on cassette, that concept of internet only releases quickly went out of the window. For this release the music is more complex than the releases before. The first track “Gyratory” starts with a circling sound, I think it is created by some metals engineered by some effects. Sounds are added like digitalized sound of crickets and more strikes on metal. A rhythmical sound without any rhythm makes the composition complete. The complexity is complete and the listener can focus on several layers. The second track has a nice development in sound structures. An on-going tone supported by some non-structured beats and crashes develops into some more noise and a fragile sounds. Nice combination of electronic and analogue sound sources. The last track starts again with an on-going sound, but for now more overwhelming and changes into a quiet mood with some threatening sounds at the background. Great track for a submarine movie.
Back to the normal… Modelbau also releases his music on cassette. The music at the first track "Headlock" increases from silence to more and more layers of sound. The sounds refer to industrial environments and sounds created with metal. The second track "Hairspring" begins with an on-going electronic tone and at the background you will some glitches. The music becomes stronger by a penetrating beat and some pulsing sounds which become more and more nasty. Side A ends with an noisy track which refers to some natural sound created by frogs which are strongly edited by effects. Side B starts with some white noise, which becomes more and more stronger and sounds of the last track of side A are added. The frogs try to survive the cold winter with heavy winds. The tape ends with a pulsing dark tone with some nice white noise at the background which presents herself more to the foreground and fades to silence. Beautiful intense track. I like this tape by this Modelbau concept. Just a few sound layers and try to get the maximum of the minimum. (JKH)

EX YOU - WHATKNOT (cassette by Small Scale Music)
Not a lot of music arrives from Serbia, but Ex You is a trio from Vojvodina in that particular country and consists of Milan Milojković (electronics), László Lenkes (guitar) and Filip Đurović (drums). They made the recordings at home. They write about their release somewhat cryptically: "Free improvisation is mostly about reacting on what is coming against you sent from your fellow improvisers at the moment. By reacting on these sets of ad hoc "whats" we provoke a whole net of "knots of whats", what then we as listeners realise mostly as sound, noise, music or whatnot. Our point still is feeling alive and free as possible in the moments of creation of these "whatknots"." I may not have entirely understood that, I think. There are four pieces on this cassette and most of time, Ex You sounds very quiet, superficially listening. They keep their improvisations sparse and to the point. But if you listen more closely then you'll notice the music has quite some hidden layers, with all sorts of things happening, in places where you least expect them. At the surface this seems quite regular improvised music but sometimes it becomes a bit more rock-like, jazz like and sometimes it just takes too much time and stays too long in one place. Their treatment of instruments is rather traditional and as such we recognize drums and guitar, but it's the electronics that play the 'weird' stuff I think. It makes all together four curious pieces of music of a highly enjoyable, improvised nature.
Le Foret Rouge is a quartet from Canada with Ce Francois Couture (voice, synthesizer, electronics, percussion), Olivier D'Amours (guitar, bass)), David Dugas Dion (drums) and Christian St-Pierre (bass, guitar) and this is the second part in a trilogy of releases for Cuchabata Records, Small Scale Music and La Cohu - the latter to appear later. This is something that we don't hear a lot in the Vital Weekly HQ: it is improvised music for sure, but with a more rock like background; it's psychedelic but with a funky undercurrent. It's opera like, it's massive it's progressive (which is hardly progressive as it is; I always found that a most curious label for music). The late Daevid Allen of Gong inspired the two sidelong pieces, and that's where one should place Le Foret Rouge too. Think Magma, Gong, Henry Cow, and who knows, more symphonic bands from the 70s, but all played with considerable more free improvisation at hand. This is not exactly the kind of music I like per se, but I must admit I found this quite pleasant to hear all considering. It's good to hear something that is not per se along 'our' lines, but still quite outside any mainstream anyway, and Le Foret Rouge surely is that. For all you prog rockers out there. (FdW)