number 1001
week 40


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help Vital Weekly to survive:

TOY BIZARRE - KDI DCTB 278 (CD by Semper Florens) *
GAME OF PATIENCE - TRIAL AND ERROR (CD by Herbal International) *
GOH LEE KWANG & JULIEN OTTAVI - PUKUL BERAPA? (CD by Herbal International) *
JEAN-LUC GUIONNET - LAC [LAKE] (CD by Herbal International) *
KOD-B - POSTEC (LP by Gex) *
MONOMONO - TVA PORTÄTT (LP by Firework Edition Editions)
SYLVAIN CHAUVEAU - UN AUTRE DECEMBRE (12" by Minority Records) *
ALINOE - STATION (CDR by Eta Label) *
RAGAMATIC - UMBILICUS (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
DISPLASIA - MNNU RVVRSU (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
ORPHAX - DREAM SEQUENCE #1 (3"CDR, private) *
BIBLETRON STUDIES (9 x 3"CDR by Ballast)
THINK OF A NAME (cassette by Vacancy Records) *
KONAKON - ARS MAGNA (cassette by Vacancy Records) *
VAJAGIC & BATES - EARLY WORKS (cassette by The Dim Coast)
JEFF SURAK - ALL GOLD (cassette by Staaltape)


Maybe the name Lukasz Dziedzic translates as John Lake? Maybe there is some linguistic joke we,
not being from Poland, don't get? "Strange Gods", we read in the press text, "is the tale about
ghosts and ancient beliefs, weird deities morphing into bizarre forms and personas. This is the
trip thru unlimited imagination and sensitivity of various cultures, where the basic elements
are unclear for us, but we feel sparkling energy, sounds, dance, vital powers, chaos, life."
We also read that the entire music is recorded with just a Kaoss Pad 2 and 3, machines I haven't
used, so what can I say about this being a limited set-up? Like many of the recent releases by
Mik Music this one also deals with the cruder segment of dance music. Minimalist, stomping beats,
and nasty sine/square/saw tooth waves to guide these beats. John Lake twiddles the knobs quite
a bit, making differences in the equalization, but I wonder if that is enough to be fully
entertaining. The intro and outro pieces are short slabs, which don't count and so is the short
'Canto II' in the middle. Leaves five long pieces, four over ten minutes, in which not always a
lot is happening. 'Raucous Energy' is the shortest and reminded the most of Pan Sonic, but perhaps
not at their best. It's not a bad CD, not at all, but it is just perhaps all too limited in terms
of ideas and execution. Get John Lake to play his music at your house and allow him to do all of
this trickery in front of you. I am sure you and your friends will go wild. (FdW)

TOY BIZARRE - KDI DCTB 278 (CD by Semper Florens)

The number in the title stands for what in classical music would be called 'opus', the work number.
Toy Bizarre is surely an active bee. Unlike classical composers, also those still alive and of the
electronic variety to which Toy Bizarre certainly belongs, he still goes by that name and not by
his own name, Cedric Peyronnet. He's been working inside the field of electronic music, musique
concrete and field recordings for over twenty years now and this new release can be seen as a
collection of pieces from 1994 to 2013, made for various projects, locations and releases, but
then stuck together into a forty-minute piece of music. Some parts appeared in the 'kdi dctb 216'
series which covered no less than twelve mini CDRs and some of this material was played live too,
if I understand the cover text well. Toy Bizarre's music covers a variety of interests; the main
one is the use of field recordings, but surely as strongly there is the use of computer treatment
and processing, which makes it most of the time impossible to tell what the original source material
was. All of this processing is done to generate a lot of sound material, which can be put together
in the form of a musical collage and that's something that Peyronnet is very good at. His pieces are
usually a construction of alarmingly quiet passages and beautifully loud movements, abruptly cut to
end and replaced by something else altogether. On 'kdi dctb 278' this seems all the more abstract,
maybe more than it did before (I am not sure here), but I very much liked this new work. I realize
I always do seem to like the work by Toy Bizarre and maybe that makes me biased? The differences
between the many releases he did are in the details; this one I'd say has a good overview of techniques
and sounds he likes to use and he does that in a more than excellent work.
  On Cedric Peyronnet's own Kaon label we find music by Thibault Jehanne, of whom we reviewed
'Eskifjöršur' back in Vital Weekly 953. He's a very young composer, who never the less already did
a few sound installations and soundtracks. This new piece (as there is just one on the CD and it
lasts fourteen minutes and thirty seconds, so perhaps a mini CD, released on a 5" disc) was composed
as part of a residency in Villa La Brugčre in Arromanches-les-Bains and deals with frozen water,
the melting of sound as it were. It's not that this is a political work, against global warming
(although the colour green is the only one used on the cover), or the melting of glacier like
structures, but it sounds like a microphone went deep into a vast block of ice and someone has
recorded various stages of the process of melting. Towards the very end we even hear the far,
far away sound of birds chirping and spring has arrived. All along this piece there seems to be
a drone like undercurrent, which might be line hum or something that came out of processing these
sounds, but never the less it also delivers a musical component, almost like an accordion faintly
humming in the background and which adds a gentle musical touch to this otherwise chilly piece
of electro-acoustic music. Nice, but a bit short I thought. (FdW)


Two weeks ago we had the four CD set by Mural, released by Sofamusic, and today it's followed by
another four CD set on the same label, this time by Keith Rowe and John Tilbury. They met years
and years ago when they were both a member of AMM and Scratch Orchestra. Rowe is best known for
putting his guitar on a table and play the strings with a multitude of objects, but in doing so
removing any similarities of anything remotely guitar like. John Tilbury is best known for playing
music composed by Morton Feldman. Here we have music by them for a video installation by
Kjell Bjųrgeengen and it lasts three hours and thirty-three minutes. I copied all four CDs and
stuck them into one sound file, so that's how I know. I wanted an uninterrupted, continuous play
of the music. Maybe, like with Mural, it would have been an idea to stick all of this on a DVD
and it would have been one piece only, but also it would have been nice to see how that video
looked like. There is lots of silence here, and how does that translate to the images, I wondered?
There is quite some silence in this music, and when there is music, it's also not very outspoken,
save for a few instances, such as around the thirty-seventh minute point when the piano sounds
loud and clear. But that's about it for the first hour; the rest moves on a very low volume.
In the second hour the moments of 'action' become a bit louder and there seems to be more
interaction between the two players. Rowe's electro-acoustic treatment of the guitar set against
the sparse notes and chords of Tilbury make up some very intense music. The third hour starts
with surprising more action, with something that sounds like a prepared piano and Rowe's deep
hum from a faulty connection. It makes this hour, despite the long gaps of silence, also one
that is the most intense one, as the collision between sounds is louder. The last CD seems to
be a curious collage (Inc. silence again) of older recordings. I am sure it has a meaning in
the bigger picture of this work, but I must say I am not sure what it is. It however makes
a great ending to a very fine piece of music. (FdW)


The German drone project Troum and the dark ambient project Yen Pox released the album Mnemonic
Induction in 2002. The album was sold-out the musicians decided to do a remixed re-release at
Transgredient Records. The re-release is covered by a beautiful edited cover and a article about
dreams by R.B. Hensley. Yen Pox has started in 1993 and consists of Michael J.V. Hensley and
Steven Hall. The duo doesn’t release a lot, but their works has been seen as strong statements
in the dark ambient scene. After 15 years of silence Yen Pox released the album album “Between
the Horizon and the Abyss” and 2011 they released a 10” at the sublabel Substantia Innominata
of Drone Records, the label of one of the members of Troum. A re-release of Mnemonic Induction
is no surprise at all. The album consists of vier untitled tracks and takes you to the darkest
dreams ever. The sounds are organic and seemed to be based on dark voices and singing and chanting.
Or does scratching metal in combination with synths, guitar and bass create the sounds? Anyway…
for me it doesn’t matter… the sound is what counts. The abstraction of reality, the dark and low
sequences of realistic sound creating a surrealistic atmosphere, which is a base to dream.
Although the sphere is dark and heavy, I wouldn’t say that nightmares will be created, because
the music is constantly moving and there is always a escape. Great album and a great collaboration
between two drony giants. (JKH)

GAME OF PATIENCE - TRIAL AND ERROR (CD by Herbal International)
JEAN-LUC GUIONNET - LAC [LAKE] (CD by Herbal International)

These three releases by Herbal International sum up quite well what this label is all about.
We start in the left corner for some die-hard improvised music, courtesy of Game Of Patience,
a trio of which I never heard before, but with Yong Yandsen on saxophone, Darren Moore on drums/
percussion and Brian O'Reilly on contrabass and electronics. Two pieces on this release, both
named after the city or festival it was recorded. Let's hope the title is not how these men
see their music or way of playing. 'Choppa', a festival in Signapore, is the first port of call
and we hear a band who loves their free improvisation and free jazz in equal portions, and most
of the time their instruments sound like the God intended them to sound; just very occasionally
they slip into something that is different, towards the end for instance when they hit upon some
controlled feedback. Otherwise they stay within the more safe boundaries of free improvised music,
as we know it. And that's fine enough I think. They play with some fine controlled aggression
and do an excellent job.
  Also on the scene of improvisation is the disc by label boss Goh Lee Kwang and Julien Ottavi.
The first plays 'no input mixer' and the latter TamTam, bass drum and a computer running Puredata
and Apodio 10. As you can imagine this brings improvisation to another, more electronic level.
Not unlike Stockhausen's 'Mikrophonie I', the TamTam and bass drum might be to not just sound but
also trigger events that occur on the computer. The more high-end feedback like sounds of Goh Lee
Kwang's no-input mixer work quite well with the computer processed versions of the very low-end
sound the two acoustic instruments produce. All of this not sounding at all like something
Stockhausen would have produced; obviously. I believe the six pieces on this release have been
recorded in various concerts and maybe received some final treatment later on. These six pieces
last about seventy minutes and that is perhaps quite long to go through in one round of listening,
even when the pieces have a fine variation to them. When things are less squeaky and noise and
the emphasis goes towards playing the TamTam/bass drum triggered by the sounds coming in from
elsewhere, I very much enjoy this, such as in 'Out Of Berapa', which is the most drone-like affair
of the disc. These act as warning signals from afar and has a great subdued quality to it. Also
'Pukul 3' has a delicate vibrancy about it. I am less fond of the more noisy pieces, such as the
short 'Extra', which may be a bit superfluous. This would have been certainly something to see
in concert!
  Then, on the other end of the spectrum, we find the interest Herbal International has in the
use of field recordings, with 'the subjective portrait of a geographic entity', and Jean-Luc
Guionnet doesn't tell us where this entity in simple layman's terms, but rather via the long
latitude and longitude codes, which I believe is Lake Annecy, close where Guionnet lives. He made
recordings at the lake between 2004 and 2007 and dedicates the work to fellow field recording
artist, Eric LaCasa (see how that 'Lac' fits in there too?). I can't say I know the lake of
Annecy as I hardly celebrate holidays, but then, this is also a 'subjective portrait', as
Guionnet says on the cover and having a look on the map it must be a beautiful area, surrounded
by mountains and with 38 kilometres of coast line (love live google) I'm sure there is lots of
sound to record. Guionnet not just taped a bunch of water, but mostly has water in relation with
human activity, so we hear people speaking, cars passing, insects, birds and all such like and
it's stuck together like a long collage (seventy-three minutes). Some of the changes appear to
be a bit abrupt I was thinking; they cut out, just like that, and continue with something much
more crude. It happens on a few places and I am not sure why Guionnet made these choices. Maybe
he feels there is enough carefully constructed releases of field recordings? Maybe this reflects
some of the areas more rough paths along the lake? Whatever the reasons might be it makes this
release a bit different than your usual field recordings release. It's a more like a bunch of
snapshots, small and large stuck together and some of these with rough edges (recording glitches
were left in by intent). Strange release, but one that is quite beautiful.(FdW)


The way the name Abbildung is written on the front cover looks like a metal act - the sort of
thing I never know what it says upon first reading, hell even more than one reading. I never
heard of this musical project of Casian Stefan, whom we best know as label boss of Essentia
Mundi, of which we reviewed a couple of releases, none of his own (but from Seetyca and Xedh),
of which there are a few of his own. In 2005 he released his first work and 'All Demons Are
Horned' marks his tenth anniversary. Stefan, who is from Romania, uses field recordings, dark
ambience, voices, music and sound sculpting and the latter I guess is the most important thing:
sculpting sound from field recording and voices by using means of sampling and electronics.
Like before on Winter Light this is music of a highly dark ambient nature. This is one of those
releases, which allows me to talk about the finer nuances in the world of dark ambient music.
Whereas most releases take some sounds, melt it down to lengthy passages of sustaining sound,
making everything a bit more abstract, Abbildung does just that too, but with the addition of
his voice, humming and chanting making it sound like a monk in an empty abbey, this is all a
bit more 'gothic' and less abstract. It has an almost religious atmosphere - that whole church
like experience, especially in 'Usdeno'. Along comes the slightly metallic sounds buried
beneath the incantations, and sometimes even rhythm, such as in 'Anthropocosmos & Dark Aum'
and 'Srater & Two Sphere', the latter also with radio signals from out space. These two pieces
are distinctly different from the previous three more drone like excursions before that and the
two that conclude this release. That makes this album more like a trip, going from the country-
side into the abyss, to a place where people after church and then back outside again - even
when no field recording is easily recognized around here. For me it's the variety on offer,
which makes this is a most enjoyable release. Any such 'gothic' element is kept to a minimum,
not more than is necessary and it's spiced up with enough other interests. Quite a good release
in a world that already has a lot of this music and where it's not easy to find your own voice.
For Abbildung the variety of music is the difference. (FdW)

KOD-B - POSTEC (LP by Gex)

In an edition of 100 copies only here is the first LP of a duo, which goes by the name Kod-B:
Benoit Kilian on drums and Olivier Dumont on electric guitar. They have been going for about
five years now, and feel confident enough to release their fist LP. One side is 'Pos' and the
other is 'Tec', although each side has a few pieces. Their music is best described as improvised
noise rock, but having said that it's not some mindless let's go on and on playing loud barrage
of noise, but in stead it's quite carefully played. The element of 'noise' is perhaps more in
the recording, which seems quite direct, without any ornaments around it. Put up some microphones
in a small space and record the action. Yet this careful approach also leads to wild drumming,
occasional feedback (which I am sure is not accidental) and scratching the guitar strings.
Both guitar and drums are conventionally approached, although of course it's a matter of what
is convention I guess (but let's say 'conventional in the realm of Vital Weekly'), and one always
recognizes both instruments. In that sense there is a fairly 'normal' approach to free rock music.
Which is to say there is nothing wrong with that. The six pieces here are a delight to hear,
especially if one turns up the volume to the setting 'loud at a small intimate rock venue setting',
crack a beer open and pretend your in this small venue listening to the controlled aggression
of Kod-B. An excellent record! (FdW)


From Zurich, Switzerland, hails Werktag, a trio of musicians: Tobias Gerber (saxophone),
Sebastian Hofmann (percussion, electronics) and Rafael Rütti (piano). Their music holds somewhere
the middle ground between composed and improvised music, and sometimes invite composers to deliver
pieces to play, whether or not in combination with pre-recorded tapes. In the case of Alex Buess'
composition 'Shattered Grid' a six-channel tape of sounds dropping in and out. To this Werktag
add their own playing, and in the end it's hard to make out who does what here (if, of course,
that really matters to anyone). The whole idea of these channels being distributed through the
space is obviously lost on the stereo record, but it works well anyway. There is an excellent
acoustic quality to the music here, which, oddly enough, sounds quite electronic from time to time.
The sound is deep and rich, especially on the bass end. Everything sounds chopped up to pieces,
some short and others shorter, but on top there is occasional something on a longer form and the
total is a piece that is not easy to grasp, I think. It keeps bouncing off and on, from wild
free jazz bits to electro-acoustic collage, often in a matter of seconds. It makes up something
that is quite fascinating to hear.
  Antoine Chessex on the other side has a piece called 'Furia' and furious it is. Here too it's
hard to say what happens, but it might be there is no additional tape being used here, even when
it occasionally suggest there is. Werktag sounds like a modern classical ensemble, hammering away
from time to time, con furioso as the score no doubts prescribes, but also 'pianissimo' as it is
called from some very soft passages. The saxophone plays long sustaining sounds, which sound
curiously quite electronic from time to time - hence, my confusion for this. Maybe there is
something electronic added to the music, I mean beside Hofman's electronics; this music has
a massive spooky quality to it. I enjoyed this side over the other one (which I liked, but in
comparing them, this one sounded more oppressive and violent). Great record of modern music,
improvisation and composition; you don't need to call it like that, if the term shocks you. (FdW)

MONOMONO - TVA PORTÄTT (LP by Firework Edition Editions)

A trio of players here: Lars Carlsson (electronics), My hellgren (cello) and Frederik Nyberg
(text, voice) and they call themselves MonoMono. The title of their record translates as 'two
portraits', and these are Hannah Arendt and Friedrich Jürgenson, two entirely different persons.
The latter best knows for his interest in Electronic Voice Phenomena and Arendt a thinker about
totalitarian systems. Radical thinking is what binds them. Rainer Maria Rilke gives the two titles
of the pieces, one per side, however in Swedish it doesn't mean much to me. Whatever text used
by Nyberg, it is also in Swedish, which makes it all harder to understand. The electronic
soundscape that is rolled out by Carlsson makes this all very vibrant: we hear street sounds,
voice, crowds, feedback, synthesizers maybe, and lots of electronics, to which the cello makes
his improvised gestures. On 'Vi Som Bruka Vald', the piece on Jürgenson, this leads to some more
documentary form, as far as I understand the three or four languages intertwining. Music becomes
a bit in the way of the text, which is a pity on this side. However on the Hannah Arendt side
'Stilla Vän Av Allt Langt Borta' these are a bit more separated and it turns out to be a gorgeous
exciting piece of music. Unfortunately this one lasts just twelve minutes and the other side is
about six minutes longer. Don't get me wrong: I think what MonoMono does is something one doesn't
hear every day and there is quite some potential in this. However language might be a barrier
here and that's a pity; hence me liking the more musical side and lesser the one that more
language. (FdW)


Like before Minority Records deals again with a re-issue, this time turning us towards the 2003
release by Sylvain Chauveau. Originally this came out on Fat Cat's sub-division 130701. The title
is inspired by Jacques Brel's song 'Jaures', about our grandparents generation, who worked in the
mines and in his lyric it's 'we've called the last twelve months December' (well, in French of
course), and in the words of Chauveau 'another December is about our generation, despite comfort
and health will also see sadnes and discontent'. Maybe it's all a bit heavy, certainly if one looks
outside the window and sees the sunshine and clouds passing, along with a fine autumn temperature.
Chauveau sits behind the piano and plays the keys with very refined slow pace. At 45rpm you know
this is not a very long record, and that's a great pity. Chauveau plays some great atmospheric
pieces, and sounds, perhaps how unsurprisingly, like Erik Satie. Except that in a few instances
there is a very minimal sound processing going on; now, that's something Satie didn't do. At first
I thought there was something wrong with my record player, the stylus maybe too close to the vinyl,
but when I ruled that out it turned out this was Chauveau's doing: a bit of crackles, a looping
sound (in 'Granulation 3', which sounds like a skipping record, like the other 3 pieces of the same
titles; and why are no titles on the cover? Just in the download. Odd), but usually to guard the
piano or the accordion, only used in 'Du Reve Dans Les Yeux'. This is wintertime music. You can buy
it now, play it now (obviously), but best is to wait when December has come, those short days,
long cold nights (depends on where you are on the globe, I guess), sip a wine and contemplative
the past year's sadness and discontent. I know I will need such a record by then. (FdW)

It may sound like those algorithms people think are behind Vital Weekly but the name Alinoe sounds
new to name. I only found some online releases for him. In autumn 2011 he was at the Szczecin Dabie
station in Poland and noted the acoustic of the station, took out his recorder and made a bunch of
field recordings, which back him in Phibsborough (Dublin), was turned into three lengthy pieces
of music. To that end he used some apparatus by Novation, Clavia Nord Modular and Roland and he
brings this material to the level of ambient dance music. When playing this release, and thinking
about the fact it has three pieces, it occurred to me that it could have been one piece too. There
is certain drone like aspect to all these three pieces, which lingers on throughout these pieces,
and of course that is the mildly treated environmental recording of the station, fed through some
sound effects and to that Alinoe added a set of rhythm sounds, which tick time away. Not exactly
the kind of groove that fills out dance floors (or clears them out actually!), but if you lie down
in a chill-out room (do they still exist?), then this would easily be a perfect backdrop to relax.
If you listen closely, especially to 'Station pt. 2' then you notice that changes take place on
perhaps a bit too minimalist level to make the entire nineteen minutes worthwhile. It could have
also been ten minutes and it would have the same impact. Unless of course the idea is that Alinoe
wants to create music that one could note or not note and be just some perfect ambient music.
Nice and also ignorable in which case he succeeded quite well. (FdW)


Last week we had a release by Ryoko Akama in collaboration with Bruno Duplant, this week it's her
turn with a piece she composed and which is performed by Christian Alvear. Because I rip stuff for
a podcast I couldn't help noticing that this was a very soft piece with quite some silent parts in
it. No doubt that's the intention, but it made me turn up the volume quite a bit to see what was
in there. The piece has clearly a few parts that are independent of each other. There are segments
in which the guitar sounds all dry and clean, and few strings are plucked with a bit of silence in
between; then other segments contain the same but then with amplification, which sustains between
notes. If you crank this one really loud you will notice this is actually a kind of feedback, but
within a normal volume range you absolutely don't hear this; just that there is some sound present.
In one instance this sound stands entirely by itself. These three variations are played in various
constructions and with varying length by Alvear and it is quite a beautiful release. Very much along
the lines of the Wandelweiser composers, known for their silent music. It is something that I like
very much even when I artificially put up the level a bit more to notice things better. Maybe that
is the amount of freedom we have when we are playing this? I should hope so. All in all this is a
beautiful piece that needs to be heard.
  More guitars at work, as I believe so to be, is the release by Steerage, a duo of A.F. Jones and
Barry Chabala. I must admit I am not blown away by the title they choose for this, but so be it.
Their music is quiet too, but not as quiet as Akama's. Also their work seems to be more about the
singing of overtones and feedback like sounds, of two guitars in close proximity, feed backing
against each other, and every now and then they bump against each other (not literally) and it
spawns off a new domain in the world of overtones. In the third piece (all seem untitled) there
is a more static point reached, in which both players control the situation pretty well. Maybe it's
perhaps too controlled. The fourth and final piece is a bit different in the way that it starts
out with some more acoustic like sounds (field recordings? objects rubbed?) and after a while
some sustaining, high/low pitched sounds come to the foreground, all it seems rather sampled. In
a way it reminded me of zoviet*france. It seemed a break from the previous three pieces, but it
made perfect sense to have this one on here as well. It makes all of this quite a varied release
of improvised feedback/sine wave/electronic music. Quite a good release. (FdW)

RAGAMATIC - UMBILICUS (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
DISPLASIA - MNNU RVVRSU (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)

Reiner Heidorn is the man behind Ragamatic. All four pieces are graced by titles in Latin - even
if the release has five pieces - but Heidorn points his direction towards the east: India to be
precise. Ragamatic could be a word that covers both 'raga' and 'automatic', which is what this
release is about I guess. Heidorn plays the sitar and adds sounds from electronics, synthesizers
and beats. I know I am now supposed to say something interesting about the sitar, maybe about Ravi
Shankar, the Beatles or Charanjit Singh and how he invented acid house way before anyone in Chicago
did. But that's not what Ragamatic is about, I think. Just what it is that he wants I am not sure.
My problem is that I have no idea what you can do with a sitar and what the possibilities are.
Ragamatic's music doesn't sound too much like trance inducing drone like raga music. He plays it
with some style for sure, but none of the beats every go on for to long, if they are beats at all
and not something random beeps. Only in 'Unitas' there is some more beat material. I found the
whole thing a bit of a patch work: I have a sitar on one side, some electronic gear on the other,
and I try to operate both at the same time, but there is not much control or tension to be found
in here. I have no idea what to make of this.
  Also I never heard of Displasia before, which is a duo from Italy: Giuseppe Calamia on prepared
guitar, objects and electronics and Francesco Calandrino on pre, post and no manipulated tapes,
and breaths. That results in a pretty odd combination of sounds, but one that works very well.
The guitar sounds at times acoustic and on tape there are field recordings of dripping water,
and for all of this there is a bit of electronic sound. It sounds, from time to time, like they
are standing in an old barn, outside in the country and there is a guitar lying about and some
objects are used to play the guitar and the birds are not disturbed by this action. Rain causes
some electrical buzzing in the faulty wiring in this old barn and all of this makes up some
great music. I was reminded of the very early work of Giuseppe Ielasi, but perhaps Displasia
are more into field recordings than Ielasi was. But certainly some of the guitar playing is not
unlike him. Most of the times the music is quite controlled; it never bursts out even when some
of the sounds used can be quite nasty. Throughout the music remains quite delicate. There seems
to be no hierarchy in the use of instruments. Sometimes the guitar prevails, but I think it is
safe to say that the tapes play an equally important role in this music. An excellent release
of microsound, coming in from a nastier end of the genre. These two might be going places.
Should be going places! (FdW)


This is one of those seemingly unavoidable things: last week I wrote that I hardly ever heard
of Michael Trommer, despite his releases on "Transmat, Wave, Ultra-red, and/OAR, Audiobulb
(on a compilation which actually made it to these pages, see Vital Weekly 696), Audio Gourmet,
Gruenrekorder, Impulsive Habitat, Stasisfield, Serein, Flaming Pines, 3Leaves and con-v, and
yes, some of these labels send their work to Vital Weekly, but none of Trommer's works",
and so following his release by Unfathomless last week, there is now a new work, which
contains heavily processed field recordings from Berlin. This new work refers to 'an effect
of reminiscence in which a past situation or atmosphere is brought back to the listener's
consciousness, provoked by a particular signal or sonic context', which Jean-Francois
Augoyard called anamnetic sound and "phonomnesis during which a sound is imagined but not
heard". Walking from the outside of Berlin to the centre where he was artist in residence,
Trommer recorded sounds and then processed these heavily using Ableton live. This is a
totally different work than the release from last week. First of all, this was originally
an installation piece, but more importantly: field recordings aren't easily recognized in
here, as the treatments are pretty radical on this release. Trommer uses some extreme
equalization, filtering out lots of frequencies and emphasizing certain other frequencies.
Very faintly one sometimes hears birds or cars, but for the rest these are very tranquil
sounds, in which everything goes on and on. It is all in the endless sustain mode here,
very drone-like. The release is packed to the top with sonic information, as it lasts very
close to eighty minutes of music. One could say this is indeed ambient music as it taking
large blocks of sound information and treats them in various ways, rather than a very
specific compositional effort. It treats sounds, which has all sorts of imperfections and
presents them as one single piece of music back. Something one can play as non-obtrusive
backdrop of sound and as such succeeds wonderfully well. It is quite dark music altogether,
with only faint traces of light. Maybe this is a reference to Berlin's past we hear through
Trommer? I am not too sure about that, but it sounds great. (FdW)


Don't go looking for the Digisizer that is mentioned on the cover here. It's an apparatus
someone built about forty years ago and which ended up in the hands of Sietse van Erve,
also known as Orphax. Pictures on Facebook show us a small machine with a bunch of knobs
and faders and a 'do not touch' button. It looks very primitive and perhaps it is. But
recording, reworking and mixing using Orphax' favourite tools Reaper and Audiomulch, brings
us 'Dream Sequence #1', a twenty-one minute piece of drone music, which has two distinct
parts. Drone music is simply the whole raison d'etre from Orphax. In the first half, the
first ten or so minutes, the drones sound very much what we expect from Orphax: a long
sustaining root drone and on top there is another one, which meanders about, five feet
above the ground. Good Orphax music, nothing out of the ordinary. This fades over into
the second part, which is perhaps the same thing, but now all the colouring is removed
and through the use of equalization the emphasis goes towards the very low end sounds
that over the course of the next ten minutes goes darker and darker, lower and lowest,
and only in the very last minute or so becomes a bit more audible again. It makes a quick
ending to the piece, which I don't think is really necessary; it would have worked better
if it had ended with that low sound, or built up to a longer coda and made it the piece
longer, say twenty-five minutes. I quite enjoyed the second half, which sounded quite
mysterious. This deep end is something that Orphax should explore further. This Friday
he plays at Extrapool, so I'll be watching and listening: Orphax live is not something
you need to watch but on a good system a delicious treat for the ears. (FdW)

BIBLETRON STUDIES (9 x 3"CDR by Ballast)

Dan Schierl is someone who likes to built electronic apparatus and has a modular synth
that got a bit out of hand. So one day he decided to build an electronic instrument that
would fit inside a hollowed Gideon Bible, which apparently is not big. "Two random voltage
generators (each w/ independent sample/hold rate, slew and scaling controls) feeding two
hree friends, who all knew each other. Each of them has three twenty-minute works. The
Kingston Family Singers have two discs in which the sound is fed through a multichannel
modular synth modules and delays and picked in some quadrophonic fashion (which I can't
reproduce). The sound bounce from left to right in my speakers and the whole thing sounds
is random to me. Partly testing possibilities, but within some level of control. On their
third disc there is a collage of pieces, of the thing being played in a car, fed through
a modular synth, directly to tape and all of that overlaid with each other. While the
result was noisier than the other two discs, there are more coherencies here, through a
sound collage in which some thought was put to good use. Breaks and edits applied here
worked quite well.
  PCRV, being Matt Taggart, took the Bibletron and hooked it up to other machines, in
which the Bibletron acts as a CV controller. I will spare you the rest of Trogotronic
669v minisynth and matrix mixer information, but it made me think: what is it that I
hear? Is it the Bibletron or something else; or a combination of both? In all three
'studies' the noisy edge of synthesizers prevail. It has a lo-fi gritty sound, like
that few bits, not enough soldering and faulty cables. A sort of 4 bit noise, but with
enough power to be noise. Certainly a most enjoyable experience, but perhaps more
on the creation side of things than actively listening to them; although perhaps
in concert this might be different.
  Labelboss Blake Edwards, also known as Vertonen, surely knows how to create some
excellent drone music, so I hoped he do such here too, but he too takes the Bibletron
into the land of noise. On his first disc he stacks a few recordings together, but all
of this in a very noisy manner. On the second disc, 'Ice Swimming, Slow Down', he has
four of them, and adds quite an amount of reverb to it, which immediately takes the
material into something that is more atmospheric, albeit also of a more forceful nature.
Slowly the music expands and sounds like a motorcycle grinding away on a highway,
before landing in a quieter town, out of space. On 'Silence Between', the third disc,
he works with silence between sounds and expands them through computer techniques in
various ways and creates a fine collage of occasional loud sounds with it, perhaps not
something you would expect from such a title. This second and third disc are the ones
that I enjoyed best from these nine, but I also realize they may not give a very
accurate idea of what the Bibletron and as such the other seven are more up for
that task. (FdW)

THINK OF A NAME (cassette by Vacancy Records)
KONAKON - ARS MAGNA (cassette by Vacancy Records)

For whatever reason the band name Think Of A Name sounded like 'punk' to me. I am not
sure why. Like the label they are from Niagara, and it's hardly punk, both in music
and in line-up (which I copied from the bandcamp page): Julian Anderson (laptop, synths,
fx, etc.), Adrian D'Avirro (bass, fx, etc.), Ken Brennan (electric guitar, fx, tapes,
etc.), Stephen Del Duca (keys, synths, fx, tapes, etc.), Avery Mikolič-O'Rourke (keys,
synths, electric guitar, fx, etc), Jeffrey Sinibaldi (tapes, samplers, fx, etc.). Their
cassette, released in an edition of seventeen copies, contains three live recordings.
I believe not all members may play all the time. Their music is freely organised (or
disorganized, whatever you prefer), but that's perhaps about as much as we can say.
Their January 8, 2015 recording was largely based on guitars wailing about, making
prog rock gestures in a way, but then lo-fi, where as on Sept 12, 2014 they added
a fine techno like rhythm to the music, which dominated the music pretty much.
It sounded like a techno musician being taped from the middle of the room, and
effectively a totally different band altogether. So we must turn to the other side
and see what the third and final piece sounds like and if that brings us clearer
idea. Difficult as it may sound, but it seem to combine both ends together. We have
the guitars playing mostly drone stuff on their six strings, while slowly there are
drums being added, along with some quirky synth sound. Here too we have a recording
from the middle of room, so there is a bit of room for improvement there. The
development in each of the segments is very minimal, so I think being there would
have been a good idea. Nonetheless I thought all of this was quite good. Unlikely
a band I will ever see, but if I could, I would.
  Konakon is the first musician on Vacancy not to hail from Niagara, but he's from
Italy, being Matteo Berghenti. His tape lasts ninety minutes (well, it's copied on
a ninety minute tape, but it lasts 66 minutes), copied on 'barely-used language
instruction cassettes discarded by a local Niagara university dept. of modern
languages, literatures and cultures'. I am not sure how Konakon makes this music,
but there is a fine interplay of organ like sounds in the sidelong title piece,
which drones along with a bunch of effects, which gradually thicken or soften the
sound throughout the length of this piece. Towards the end it certainly becomes a
bit noisy. I am sure much of this was made with the use of computers, stretching
out sounds and adding plug-ins where necessary. The other two pieces are much
shorter and more minimal in approach. 'Piano Loop' is just that: a loop of piano
sounds which has been treated with high pitched sounds waving like humble trees in
the wind. 'Binaural' is deeper in the bass-region and applies similar techniques
of processing. All three pieces are perhaps a bit on the long side to be fully
captivating, even when the ideas themselves are quite all right, especially in
'Piano Loop', which was the best piece out of three. (FdW)

VAJAGIC & BATES - EARLY WORKS (cassette by The Dim Coast)

A duo from Montreal, and they are both in love with their guitar and pedals. We have
here Elizabeth Anka Vajagic, who is into folk and blues but than all the more dissonant
and who has worked with Sam Shalabi and Steve Bates who worked with Seijiro Murayama,
Burkhard Stangl, Billy Roisz as well as solo and as Lanterner, with Marc-Alexandre
Reinhardt. The seven pieces on this highly limited cassette (20 copies) and unlimited
download where recorded in two evenings, when the night was young (hence 'early
works'?); these are also 'early works' in the sense that these are the duo's first
recordings. It opens with the longest piece, 'Nine', and I doubt whether that was
a good choice: it's long, twenty minutes, and quite distorted. It put me off a bit,
as I was thinking: yeah, all right, so you have guitars and pedals and there is this
distorted sound which you could also generate without a guitar and just pedals. But
I decided to carry on and that was a great decision. Most of the pieces that come
after 'Nine' are great! 'Eight' might not be it, but at least the noise is shorter,
but more thought out, darker, slower, introspective yet very dark pieces as 'Three'
and 'Six' sound wonderful. 'Five' and 'Ten' is the first blues-like piece, the latter
in the best Loren Connors tradition, with 'Fourteen' a being a most welcome slightly
noise based afterthought, but coming towards the listener from another room. Great
tape of desolate modern blues music. (FdW)

JEFF SURAK - ALL GOLD (cassette by Staaltape)

He's been around for… I don't know… more than thirty years and somehow never got the
recognition he deserves: Jeff Surak. In the 80s a cornerstone in the world of cassettes,
with his Watergate Tapes (he is from Washington, DC) and later on, still at it with a
label, Zeromoon and his solo music as 1348 and the group New Carrollton, later on with
Sovmestnoye Predpriyatiye when he lived in Russia, and, again later, as V. These days
he also curates the excellent Sonic Circuits festival. If I recall this well, it was
at Zeromoon I first heard of Rinus van Alebeek, who is these days responsible for
Staaltape, the original label name for what many people now know as Staalplaat. These
days the tapes are very limited, and have a package in which a lot of labour goes before
it is finished. Of this particular tape there were ten made, and new ones will only
made once these are gone. It's not easy to say what Surak does here: it seems that he
moves, partially at least, away from the world of drones, sound effects and computer
treatments and works around with field recordings more than before, although in one
case leaving them untreated/as is. There is also a bit more loops/rhythm in his current
work (there was a lot of repetition in 1348). In the various pieces on this tape, Surak
explores the minimalism of sounds and puts them together in some highly varied pieces.
The somewhat grainy lo-fi textures of his sounds seem present in almost all of these
pieces, which is what ties these pieces together. I am not sure how he achieves this
quality but it sounds great. Sometimes it reminded me of the very early Cabaret Voltaire,
both in ambience and in execution of the music. Experimental, electronic, even a bit
krautrock like, but all firmly on the lo-fi side. A great release! Certainly that
deserves to be out there more than a handful beautiful copies; it would be even great
if there was a possibility to download this! (FdW)