number 1206
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week 45
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PHIL DURRANT & BILL THOMPSON - INTRASPECT (CD by Burning Harpsichord Records) *
CRISTIAN ALVEAR & SANTIAGO ASTABURUAGA - INTERIOR/EXTERIOR (CD by Caduc) *
LEO OKAGAWA - SOMETHING VEILED (CD by Unfathomless) *
FISH & STEEL (CD by PNL Records) *
JOE MCPHEE & PAAL NILSSEN-LOVE – SONG FOR THE BIG CHIEF (CD by PNL Records) *
HELGA MYHR - NATTEN VELLER SEG UT (CD by Motvind Records) *
MERIHEINI LUOTO – METSÄNPEITTO 2 (CD by Meriheini Luoto) *
BRUNO DUPLANT - ETENDUES SILENCIEUSES (CD by Inexhuastible Editions) *
MONOPIECE & JAAP BLONK (CD by Clean Feed) *
LUIS LOPES - LOVE SONG: POST-RUINS (CD by Clean Feed) *
FLIN VAN HEMMEN - CASTING SPELLS & THE COVES (2CD by Neither/Nor) *
OISEAUX-TEMPÊTE - FROM SOMEWHERE INVISIBLE (CD by Sub Rosa) *
TORBA - MUSIQUE INCONCRETE (LP by Fragment Factory) *
MME DUO - AWHOLERUNBOOM (2LP by Makiphon)
ELLENDE - ODYSSEY, A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY (double 10" by Smeerlap) *
ALEX MCKECHNIE - DESGRESS OF LATITUDE (CDR, private) *
ELIZABETH JOAN KELLY - FAREWELL, DOOMED PLANET (CDR, private) *
THE CLYDE PARKER PROJECT (2CDR compilation by Eilean Records)
FOETAL ZULU - TRACTS (3"CDR by Rural Colours) *
YAN JUN - POSTCARDS (cassette by Crustaces Tapes)
AARON NICHOLAS WEST - HE WORE TWO DIFFERENT SHOES BECAUSE HE'S A PARTY BOY
 (cassette, private)
AARON WEST - NEXT YEAR MAYBE, WHEN I SEE YOU AGAIN (cassette, private)
SOCIOLOGICAL LIVER PILLS (cassette by Obsolete Staircases)
THE DULCET SOUND OF FICTION (7" by Humanhood Recordings)


PHIL DURRANT & BILL THOMPSON - INTRASPECT (CD by Burning Harpsichord Records)
 
The third release by Burning Harpsichord Records, a label run by Bill Thompson, sees him playing
a duet with Phil Durrant. The latter used to play the violin with Radu Malfatti and Thomas Lehn and
is a member of Trio Sowari and the Seen. These days he also plays modular synthesizer, which is
what he does here. Thompson, as we know from his two previous releases (Vital Weekly 1151 and
1171) plays the Moog guitar, live electronics and found objects, which is perhaps more than on
those previous releases. They have been playing together as a duo since a couple of years and
this thirty-one-minute work is a recording from a concert series also called 'Intraspect', organised
by Thompson. In his solo work Thompson uses long sustaining sounds on his guitar, ringing loud
and clear, along the lines of Niblock or early Rafael Toral, and in combination with the modular
synthesizer of Durrant that is still the case but there are shorter curves and there is more variation
in the music. There is also a more brutal element to be noted in the music; something that I didn't
hear before to that extent in the music of Thompson. I am not sure if that is all the doing of Durrant
or the interaction between the two, but it works rather well. The drone-element is still present in the
music, but it never stays in the same place for a longer period. If you decide to play this loud than
these frequencies will certainly be a forceful presence in your environment, but it adds to that all
immersive character of the music. It will leave you very little room to escape and then worked best
for me. (FdW)
––– Address: https://burningharpsichordrecords.com/


 
CRISTIAN ALVEAR & SANTIAGO ASTABURUAGA - INTERIOR/EXTERIOR (CD by Caduc)
 
We may know Cristian Alvear mostly for his work on the guitar, but here he does something quite
different. He teams up with one Santiago Astaburuaga, of whom I never heard and both get credit
for 'devices', not further specified. They recorded on seven locations, all mentioned on the cover
and judging by the cover they could be inside as well as outside. I would think these devices are
electronic and they sound like sine waves, feedback or such like; it might also be that these are
mechanically controlled objects, rattling about; or perhaps these devices were put upon surface
causing these to vibrate. It is all cut together as one long piece and it is one fine work. There is
some excellent dynamic in this piece, both in a literal sense (going high to low, from loud until
soft), but also the interior, the inside of the instruments and the exterior, the location (again inside
or outside) where the recording took place. The rattling of objects mixes well with the field
recordings if we would label them as such. The whole thing is like a carefully constructed collage,
with minimal movements, soft sounds, two men in a field with 'devices', birds in the background
and such. Everything is played with a great calm interaction; between the players and between
the sounds and the environment. The second half of the piece is slightly more present when it
comes to volume, but throughout it remains delicate. It is present in your environment but with
some great refinement. These fifty minutes is one fine trip. It moves with great pace; never too
short and never overstaying it's welcome, just exactly as we expect these things to be. (FdW)
––– Address: http://caduc.org/index.html


 
LEO OKAGAWA - SOMETHING VEILED (CD by Unfathomless)
 
For me, an album based on field recordings works best when I forget that the source sounds are.
There’s certainly merit in the idea of acoustic ecology, using sound to document a location as it is.
However, I prefer it as a listening experience when a sound captured by a microphone is separated
from its source. The Unfathomless label is dedicated to music made from field recordings and does
a fine curatorial job presenting multiple facets of that idea. Leo Okagawa’s “Something Veiled” is
the sort of field recording album that transforms its source into poetry. The artist explored limestone
caves in Fukushima with microphones in hand, then sculpted those sounds into music that
references but transcends its origins. That isn’t to say the origins aren’t fascinating! They certainly
are. I’ve never been spelunking (it sounds terrifying), but I’ve seen enough footage of caves to
imagine what the experience might be like and know that it isn’t for me. Okagawa bravely went on
a deep dive underground to capture the sounds of water dripping from stalactites and echoes
reverberating down massive rock corridors. He also preserved sounds introduced by his recording
process, like the hum of lighting equipment and his footfalls bouncing off wet rocks. These source
sounds are only where “Something Veiled” begins, not its ultimate destination. What the composer
does with the material his microphones picked up shapes the album’s low-level drama. Using
equalization and editing, he teases deep lower frequencies out from huge hollow areas and uses
them to establish sustained tension. As the piece moves on, that attention to finely-tuned sonic
space pays off. At one point, a rush of white-noise becomes several layers of competing beating
rhythms. A fluttering reverberation becomes a low throbbing bass texture, adding a sense of
implacable foreboding to the back half of the album, which stretches out as a sustained drone
which (perhaps unsurprisingly) resembles a less overtly sinister version of Lustmord’s “Heresy”.
The sheer sonic (not to mention geographic) depth of Okagawa’s audio spaces is remarkable,
making “Something Veiled” edge-of-your-seat compelling for its duration. And certainly less
terrifying than jumping down into a cave. (HS)
––– Address: https://unfathomless.bandcamp.com/


 
FISH & STEEL (CD by PNL Records)
JOE MCPHEE & PAAL NILSSEN-LOVE – SONG FOR THE BIG CHIEF  (CD by PNL Records)
 
Drummer and improviser Paal Nilssen-Love returns regularly in the columns of Vital Weekly with
releases from his PNL Records. Often live recordings, of his diverse projects and collaborations.
This time we meet him in duo and trio collaboration. Fish & Steel is his trio with Mats Äleklint
(trombone), Per-Åke Holmlander (tuba), both members of his Large Unit. They excel in two lengthy
improvisations ‘Blow Out’, ‘Sangbolaget’, recorded live in concert at Blow-Out concert series at
Kafé Hærverk, Oslo, Norway, 25th September 2018; a curious combination of instruments maybe,
but one that works very well in the hands of these three great improvisers. Äleklint is a freelance
trombone player, operating mainly in the field of jazz and improvisation, but has also no problem
with blues, soul, pop, etc. By consequence, his collaborations are many and diverse: Dave
Holland, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Carla Bley, Angles, etc. Besides he has his quartet going on.
Likewise, classically trained tuba player Holmlander is at home in the contexts of improvisation,
jazz and rock, and also contemporary composed music. Äleklint demonstrates an incredible
technique. Holmlander who is not playing the manoeuvrable instrument impresses with playing in
the lower regions. Their interplay is very dynamic and lively. They develop a lot of ideas in very
communicative interaction. Dynamics range from very subtle and quiet to very loud and full energy
eruptions, with moments where their performance reaches an incredible intensity. Great free music!
    Where the music of Fish & Steel arises from completely free improvisation, on the ‘Song for the
Big Chief’ musicians depart from written material. Now we are talking of a collaboration of Nilssen-
Love with Joe McPhee. Together they have a history of about 15 years. It started when McPhee
joined The Thing in 2002. Their previous release was ‘Candy’, a 7-cd box released in 2015
documenting their collaboration from 2007 to 2014. McPhee, by the way, is a veteran free jazz
player whose career started in the late 60s. He worked a lot in Switzerland when Werner
Uehlinger started his Hathut Records and was focused on McPhee’s work. ‘Song for the Big Chief’
captures a live set, recorded live at Cafe Oto, London, England on the 9th of December 2017. The
CD opens with McPhee commemorating the passing of Sunny Murray. This explains the title of the
release that also alludes to Murray’s album ‘Big Chief’ (1969). The opening track ‘Song for the Big
Chief’ opens and closes with McPhee playing the theme from ‘Old Man River (Kern-Hammerstein)
on tenor sax, with heavy improvisation in between. ‘Knox’ is a theme McPhee composed and
recorded in the 70s. The album closes with ‘A Fantasy for Lester’, a free improvisation by Nilssen-
Love and McPhee. This is the most experimental and introvert piece from the set. Not afraid of
silences McPhee and Nilssen-Love dive into sound exploring, exercising what (free) jazz is about:
finding new ways and expressions. (DM)
––– Address: https://pnlrecords.bandcamp.com/music


 
HELGA MYHR - NATTEN VELLER SEG UT (CD by Motvind Records)
 
Helga Myhr is a young musician from Norway. She comes from a very musical family. Through her
mother, she is familiar with the song tradition of the Hallingdalen valley where she grew up. Later
she studied at the Music Academy in Oslo. In 2017 she won The Hilma Talant Award as well as an
award for Hardanger fiddle players. She is a member of Kvedarkvintetten and Morgonrode, both
folk-oriented ensembles. Recently she also participated on ‘Seine Sviv’ by Bendik Baksaas that
combines electronics and folk. With this intro, you will not be surprised that her first solo album is
likewise very much folk-influenced. The cd opens with ‘Den lyse dag forgangen er’ that opens with
stretched-out soundscape on the Hardanger fiddle that is full of subtle nuances. Halfway it changes
abruptly into a traditional folk song, with the vocals of Myhr in the forefront. This opening song
introduces the two sides of Myhr’s talent that are explored on the rest of the cd as well. On the one
hand, she sings mainly traditional melodic material. From what I can translate from the titles, the
lyrics often have religious content. On the other hand, she improvises on the Hardanger fiddle
exploring soundworlds that are possible through this instrument. In the next song ‘Du skal ikke
doren stenge’ in contrast with the first track, we have first a melody sung by Myhr, followed by a
beautiful instrumental final part. In a song like ‘Nu rinner frem en deilig sommer’ she combines
simultaneously singing a folk song with a very abstract and minimal soundscape created by the
violin. I’m not always sure both aspects enforce one other. Most of the time I’m completely
satisfied with just the song or just the improvisations that open up a rich and detailed soundworld,
like in the all-instrumental title track. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that this is a very beautiful
and promising debut. Just like her Finnish colleague Meriheini Luoto, Helga Myhr stays close to
folk traditions seeking to enrich it with experimental improvisations. (DM)
––– Address: http://motvindrecords.com/


 
MERIHEINI LUOTO – METSÄNPEITTO 2 (CD by Meriheini Luoto)
 
This is one I waited for. Her intriguing debut album ‘Metsänpeitto’ was one of my favourites in 2017
(see Vital Weekly 1108), and made me curious for her next steps. Luoto is a Helsinki-based
composer and multi-instrumentalist focusing mainly on violin, nyckelharpa and vocals. Besides her
solo work, she works with Finnish electronic pop music pioneer Husky Rescue, avant-garde folk
music duo Akkajee and contemporary folk music group Hohka, to name a few. The title of her new
solo album suggests continuity with her first release ‘Metsänpeitto’. Tracks on her first one were
numbered 1 to 5. On this new one, we go from 6 to 10. Again the forests with all their beauty and
mystery inspire Luoto. But also Finnish folk music and folk tradition, in general, are important for
her avant-garde art. For her first recording, she was assisted by Minna Koskenlahti (solo
percussion, wooden whistles, voice, and Mirva Soininen (voice). Both make again their
contributions together with Maija Holopainen (violin, voice), Noora Kauppila (voice, wooden
whistles, percussion), Tiina Louneva (violin, voice), Iida Savolainen (viola, violin, voice,
percussion), Mirva Tarvainen (violin, voice). Meriheini Luoto plays solo violin and voice. For the
recording that took place at St. Catherine’s Church in Karjaa, binaural recording techniques were
used. So Luoto advises to listen with headphones to have the optimal 3-D sensation. The opening
track, ‘VI’, is a trance-induced improvisation. A single violin gradually builds up more and more
intensity surrounded by subtle sounds by other instruments and voice in the background. ‘VII’
opens with a flute in the distance. Voice and violins join in and behave like independent voices
that make however one fascinating whole. ‘VIII’’, like ‘VI’, has a solo violin in the forefront playing
in a repetitive mode. With other violins interfering a sound world is created full of little multi-sided
sounds. The closing track ‘X’ starts from silence with percussive sounds before the violin enters for
drone-like manoeuvres with distant eerie vocals. The music plays with space and investigates the
sound. Done by Luoto and her collaborators in a very inspired and soulful way, evoking a
fascinating otherworldly atmosphere. Again a statement by Luoto that proves she is an original
talent. (DM)
––– Address: https://meriheiniluoto.bandcamp.com/



BRUNO DUPLANT - ETENDUES SILENCIEUSES (CD by Inexhuastible Editions)
 
The header says Bruno Duplant, but his role here is as the composer of the work, while Taku
Sugimoto (acoustic or electric guitar) and Minami Saeki (voice) perform the piece. All three of
them have words on the cover, but I wouldn't mind seeing more of the actual score. There are
eleven pages in this score and they are performed on locations outside, Yurinoki Park, Hanegi
Park, Kitazawa Park and such. Each player was unaware of how the other was going to interpret
these eleven pages. This is a strange release. It is very quiet, as the title might indicate; it is all
about hearing. I image the two musicians sitting on a park bench armed with a small recorder and
carefully producing a few sounds. Oddly enough the voice of Seaki is usually a bit louder than the
guitar played Sugimoto. We hear just a few sounds from him. Sometimes the activities of other
people in the park, children playing, for instance, are louder than the guitar. I am not sure if Seaki
sings words or just produces sounds with her mouth. It is strange and radical music, not easy
something to access. The first time I played it, last week, I removed it from CD player after a few
minutes, because I found it all very annoying. But once I sat down and concentrated more on what
I was hearing, the music quite grabbed me, even when, in all its silent approach, it remained
something that was not easy get along with. Perhaps this music calls for another state of mind,
one that I have not yet encountered (or even have found), a sort of Zen-like state of listening, that
will open another door with this music; or should that 'into this music'? I am not sure. These fifty-two
minutes will certainly alter your perception of reality quite a bit. The release you play after this one
will be perceived quite differently than what you expected. At least for me, it did. (FdW)
––– Address: http://inexhaustible-editions.com/


 
MONOPIECE & JAAP BLONK (CD by Clean Feed)
LUIS LOPES - LOVE SONG: POST-RUINS (CD by Clean Feed)
 
While I left several other new releases by this label in the capable hands of our in house
improvisation crack mister Mulder, I somehow ended up with these two releases. Both are
heavily into the same sound world, yet there is something that captivates me, partly interested in
improvisation but not the man with a massive knowledge about it. For the first, it is perhaps not
difficult to see what attracted me and that is the presence of voice artist Jaap Blonk. I know the
man and his work for thirty or more years now and over the years I reviewed quite a bit of his
releases. Some of these are studies into the world of computer music, but releases like this one,
where he teams up with a group of improvisers. I had not heard of Monopiece before, which is a
trio of Nathan Corder (electronics), Matt Robidoux (guitar) and Timothy Russell (percussion). What
made me continue listening was not just the voice work of Blonk (always great) but also the way
these players improvise. Electronics, even when credited to one man, seems to play an important
role. Whatever Corder is doing here, he does it pretty well. Not like other players filling up small
spaces with weird little sounds, Corder bursts right in, hisses and cracks loudly, and stumbles over
what seems broken cables; the other two players have a likewise cut-up approach to their
instruments, hitting the hard and fast, with the percussion being very straight in your face. Blonk's
voice, far away or very close by, does all the movements he knows and sometimes he sounds like
another electronic instrument; one that is hard to separate from the rest. If improvised music is
about dialogue than this is a great conversation; everybody talks, shuts up and responds and
everybody leads as much as everybody waits.
           For the other release, by guitarist Luis Lopes, the performer says that this is "to listen alone
somewhere between after 1 a.m. and 1 hour before sunrise". Damn, why do these releases never
say, "listen at 14:53", which is the current time? Curiously I'd like to know if the recording, made in
concert on May 18th 2016, happened during the same night time frame? Probably not, but perhaps
there was an asleep concert at Teatro Maria Matos? In which case I should think it was a night of
unrest. Not at the start, with its sparse plucking of notes on the fretboard, but as the piece gradually
evolves more things are happening and we Lopes doing slightly louder and bit more hectic thing
on the guitar, but not crazy racketeering. Through it is all a long spaced out blues jam, I would
think, but then not so much the blues I think. There is a fine delicate intensity in his playing that I
enjoy a lot. Maybe the sort of intensity that could be captured with the word weltschmerz? For me,
it was all just fine except that I was wondering about the booklet. I am not offended by the sight of
naked women in what could be some private snapshots, but what is the point concerning the
music? I found it hard to see any. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cleanfeed-records.com/


 
FLIN VAN HEMMEN - CASTING SPELLS & THE COVES (2CD by Neither/Nor)
 
While I thought I would be ripping a track of this for the podcast and forward the CDs our resident
jazz reviewer, who also reviewed the first Van Hemmen release (Vital Weekly 1031), two things
caught my eye. Flin van Hemmen is from sunny Nijmegen, HQ of VW and I read something about
the manipulation of the recordings on this disc, sampling, loops and such. The studio as instrument
always has my warmest attention, and so I began playing this release. The music is played by Van
Hemmen, who is a drummer, along with Eivind Opsvik on double bass and glockenspiel and Todd
Neufeld on electric and acoustic guitar. Van Hemmen also plays the piano and Farfisa organ. The
recordings were made in a single day, in 2017, as that should be with a jazz record I think, but then
Van Hemmen took up until the release of this recording with listening, arranging, dissecting these
recordings into the pieces on these two discs. It is jazz music, but not as I know it. It has probably
very little to do with jazz music and that's how I like them best. Surely, some of this sounds like jazz,
with a jazzy bass sound, the atmospheric piano or the gentle strum of the guitar, but the way it is
presented here, it is more like background music in a film noir, all moody and slow, and with all the
other sounds happening, the deconstruction of the music, the addition of extra sounds (I am not
sure if the word 'field recordings' applies here). It all adds to the weirdness of the music. Sometimes
it seems like Van Hemmen takes whole pieces apart and takes a bass line here, a guitar and
superimposes them together. Throughout the music is very laid back and at the same time also a
bit alien. It has that nightclub atmosphere, but without a gentle swing, if you catch my drift. All of this
I thought to be quite captivating. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.neithernorreocrds.com


 
OISEAUX-TEMPÊTE - FROM SOMEWHERE INVISIBLE (CD by Sub Rosa)
 
When it comes to 'strange' music, Belgium's Sub Rosa is a powerhouse, and this for more than
three decades. Yet, you won't find their releases a lot in these pages and I am not sure why that is.
I wouldn't mind writing more about their releases, but also not about some of them. You may guess
where that is going? I don't think Oiseaux-Tempête is something for these pages. This duo, of
Frédéric D. Oberland and Stéphane Pigneul, plays mainly a "post/kraut/free-rock, jazz punk, avant-
garde, experimental electronics". They have guests such as former The Ex singer GW Sok, Gareth
Davis (no stranger in these pages), Christine Ott, Sylvain Joasson, Jean-Michel Pirës, and others.
They provide voices, drums, bass clarinet, and such like. In these seven pieces, the group plays a
very rock-like form of atmospheric music, meandering widely about, with Sok's vocals as biting as
in his days with The Ex, and surely with the same political stances. It's good, great probably, but
something that is not much for these pages. (FdW)
––– Address: http://subrosa.net



TORBA - MUSIQUE INCONCRETE (LP by Fragment Factory)
 
The previous release by Mauro Diciocia, also known as Torba, was 'Musica Convenzionale' (see
Vital Weekly 1186), hardly conventional music and for his new one he has another wordplay with
a music genre, 'Musique Inconcrete'. I now learn this is the second part of a trilogy about "Le
Musiche". The 'inconcrete' is not just a wordplay on 'musique concrete', but it also has to do with
the incompleteness of the music. It is inspired by the art collective Alterazioni Video and refers to
half-finished constructions that can be seen all over Italy. Unlike musique concrete composers, the
music from Torba consists of unfinished pieces, roughly assembled, using splices of tape found on
the floor and stuck back on. All the field recordings were made in Salento region in Southern Italy,
and were all captured with a Walkman and mobile phones, which is an aesthetic choice to go for
some of the lower forms of recording equipment. The press release also mentions field recordings
Berlin, where Diciocia also lived (and somehow that seemed a contradiction). The cover lists six
pieces for this LP, but I started playing it and lost any notion of a track here. Rather it is two side-
long collages of sound, and like before there is a beautiful harshness in this music (even when I
had the impression the pressing was a bit on the quiet side); a harshness that does not equal
noise per se, and that is something I like. The whole notion of musique concrete not being a careful
construction is something that is not new of course. Ever since the boys and girls in Industrial
music started to think about sound collage, multi-track cassettes, they worked with the musique
concrete techniques but with more volume. In that sense, Torba is in a great tradition. As to
whether these pieces sound finished or not, I really can't say much about it. I would say they are
finished, as they are carved into the grooves of this record, and no longer subject to change. In
that way, they are finished, and for the listener, not privy to the process of making the music, it
sounds finished. The slightly random approach of sounds dropping in and out add for me to that
fine historical tradition of industrial music turning musique concrete. This is another release; I
loved the first one I heard, and now this second is on par with that and I’d say that Torba is a
promising new name in this field. (FdW)
––– Address: http://fragmentfactory.bandcamp.com


 
MME DUO - AWHOLERUNBOOM (2LP by Makiphon)
 
Back in Vital Weekly 937, I wrote about Sculptress Of Sound from Cologne, and that I saw a rather
disappointing concert by them, and how the release didn't blow me away either. Now two members
of that group (which was a trio), Patricia Koeliges and Tamara Lorenz have a new project, MME
dUO (does that stand for mademoiselle duo? I don't know). They use DIY electro-acoustics, small
synths, loopers, turning forks, electric bass, percussion and voice; the usual choice for many
musicians these days. Each side of the record is named after a season (in German, so Frühlung,
Sommer, Herbst and Winter) but I am not sure why that is. Within the music, that notion seems to
play no role. The serious, somewhat theatrical aspect of the group seems to be replaced here with
a slightly more playful sound, which opens up the music quite a bit. It seems to me that the music
is made through lengthy improvisations and then these recordings are edited down to the result
we hear on the record, which are pieces from two to ten minutes. These pieces are constructed
around a few sounds, which they play in an almost live context, and due to the variety of the
instruments, that changed on the songs. It makes up a varied record, which is always good,
especially as it stretches over two LPs. The use of loopers was occasionally a bit too much; or
perhaps too much of the same, short thing, which was a pity, but once they shut that down, in
favour of a more active hands-on approach, the music turns out to be fine combination of
improvisation, electronics, a bit of noise, a bit ambient and a bit of sound poetry; it all shifts
around in a great way. Now, this, I would be curious to see translated to a concert! (FdW)
––– Address: http://makiphon.de


 
ELLENDE - ODYSSEY, A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY (double 10" by Smeerlap)
 
For quite a few reasons this release is a big surprise. First of all, I had not heard of Ellende in many
years. The last time was back in Vital Weekly 772 when I reviewed a live cassette from the group.
That was after some hiatus, but between Vital Weekly 346 and 444, there were no less than ten
different releases reviewed in these pages (I even wrote “by now Ellende seems to appear in
every new Vital Weekly”) including the all-revealing 'Kut Met Peren' 3"CDR. So that is Dutch and
so is the word Ellende, which stands for 'misery'. That is one surprise. The next one is that this
release doesn't fit the previous somewhat lo-fi aesthetic of the old work, but this a lovely, beautiful
release. The records are packed inside the front cover of a hardcover book (actually an oversized
dust-cover, and some thirty-six pages of text and images, all in beautiful black and white. The third
surprise is that Ellende is still around and still very little is known about them. Wim Bontjes and his
cousin Martinus Antonius start it out with tape experiments. Bontjes committed suicide in 1995 and
the group continued with his "conceptual ideas", even when these ideas remain unnamed. Over
the years many people have been a member, all in steady flux. This new record was recorded in
South Africa, as, mystery solved, they are from there and not The Netherlands, with Dave "Slave"
Mbambi on guitars, drones and synth, Lodewikus Pretorius on piano, modular, string synths and
John John on synths, bows, percussion while Antonius is responsible for recording, mix, tapes and
phasers. Bandcamp is a bit more specific: "Sometimes the doors are shut and large metal sheets
are heard processed through guitar pedals. A modular synthesiser, analogue synths (Roland
SH-101, Juno 6, ARP Solus, Solina) and guitar have been used as well throughout the album."The
release is about a trip Wim made to Japan to visit his cousin (I assume Antonius) and the stories
are about a "pitiful chase of sex', portrayed by "women's death-masks-like faces", as such by
Richard Hart in the book. I mist admit that I re-read some of the old reviews to remind myself what
Ellende was all about; I forgot after all those/despite all those releases. I must say I very much
enjoyed this new release. There is an excellent dark mood depicted here, fitting the likewise dark
images of the book and the tales of sordid sex. An endless stream of synthesizers mingles very
pleasantly with sustaining guitar sounds and sound effects used to place accents in strategic
places. Sometimes the guitar is strummed in a more traditional way, such as in 'Girlfriend
Experience' but against a doomy backdrop of much reverb. Throughout this album carries on
the torch of Ellende's previous work with fuzzy and busy drones, beautifully colliding. This is one
damn fine release; one that is just perfect, both in music and packaging. It is almost like a pre-
programmed collector's item. I am very curious if Ellende will slip back into another period of
hibernation. I hope that is not the case (FdW)
––– Address: https://ellende1.bandcamp.com/


 
ALEX MCKECHNIE - DESGRESS OF LATITUDE (CDR, private)
 
Somehow, somewhere I remembered the name Alex McKechnie, but I needed Google's help to
point me in the right direction. He was once a member of Barbed, a duo active about twenty years
ago, in the field of plunderphonics. I have no idea what he did in all those years, but on Discogs, it
also says he is a Lecturer in Digital Arts at Weymouth College. On his Bandcamp, he writes that the
music on his first solo album started with the computer program C++. This programming leads to
the music on this CDR, going from computer back to "traditional electronic devices", although none
as specified. I would think these play a bunch of orchestral samples as there is a fine delicate
chamber orchestra feel to various of the seven pieces. You can hear they are not played humanly,
as it is all quite mechanical too. Yet it is also not without a human touch. Mckechnie likes his music
to be minimal, in a very traditional Steve Reich sort of way; or rather, so I was thinking, it sounded
not unlike the work of The Lost Jockey, but now with friendly samples of piano, violins and wind
instruments. There is fine complexity woven into the fabric of the music and Mckechnie works with
various lines coming together or getting separated and yet somehow all making sense. I quite
enjoyed this release, I must say, even when it occasionally also sounded a bit too robot-like. A
warm robot at that, but nevertheless, mechanical and, maybe a bit too sweet at times. Overall,
however, this is a most enjoyable release. A most welcome come-back album and I for one am
curious to see where Mckechnie goes next. (FdW)
––– Address: https://alexmckechnie.bandcamp.com/releases



ELIZABETH JOAN KELLY - FAREWELL, DOOMED PLANET (CDR, private)
 
Perhaps that is a sentiment we all have some time? To say goodbye to good old Earth, destined
 for destruction and go somewhere else. Elizabeth Joan Kelly, born in Louisiana and trained in
New Orleans and Cleveland in electronic music, composes for orchestras and electronic
instruments. Her previous album was called 'Music For The DMV', an "angsty version of Brain
Eno's 'Music For Airports', as no one likes the Department Of Motor Vehicles". She offers eleven
pieces here, all-electronic, all within the bigger spectrum of the genre. It can be jumpy and punky
electro poppy, with Kelly singing with a fierce voice, but it also can be dreamy and spacey, such as
in 'Departure'. Going from synthpop to ambient to darker pastures of electronic pop music, she
bounces neatly over the place. No matter if I would like to leave the doomed planet, I must say I
didn't pay much attention to the lyrics. That is just my own thing; I never pay much attention to
lyrics, so I can't say much about the delivery concerning the context of the piece. The release
starts with four relatively short pieces, giving the release a sort of kick start, before going to two
longer pieces, both more introspective and then it is back on the highway again. I would think
there is some idea behind that, to group pieces together and it works quite well. Kelly stays in a
certain place, for some time, before moving to the next one; it offers quite a bit of variation, which I
liked very much, but it also brought some peace to the release and the variation on offer wasn't
too much of a rollercoaster. This is a most charming album of pop meets experiment and probably
with all the right lyrics. Maybe this planet isn't as doomed when it comes to some great music. (FdW)
––– Address: https://elizabethjoankelly.bandcamp.com/



THE CLYDE PARKER PROJECT (2CDR compilation by Eilean Records)
 
Ah, the noble art of compilations. It is like a never-ending loop. At least what I have to say about it. I
am never sure what good they are, but alas, they are a presence indeed. 'The Clyde Parker Project'
was first made in 2009 when Monolyth & Cobalt, the project by label boss Mathias van Eecloo,
invited 100 musicians from 25 countries to work on a collaborative piece of music. Now, ten years
later, twenty-three pieces have been selected and are released on this double CDR. All tracks
feature music by Monolith & Cobalt, and the musicians that collaborated are Aaron Martin, Aporia
Bloom, Barbara De Dominicis, BristolArt, Christopher Hipgrave, Danny Norbury, Dawn Smithson,
Emma Cooper, Empty Vessel Music, Esther Burns, Evolv, Frédéric D. Oberland, Linda Bjalla (Izumi
Suzuki), Moïren, Olivier Girouard, Ori, Orla Wren, Oubys, Pleq, Segue, Teamforest (Philipp Bückle),
and W Von, which is a fine mixture of familiar and new names. As I am playing these pieces, the full
two hours of it, I am thinking that there is a great sense of unity among these pieces. Melancholy
plays an all-important role. Every song seems to be drenched in minor keys, sad violin parts,
harmonium tones and such as processed piano and xylophone songs, a bit of (female) vocals and
so on. I was wondering if I thought this to be a good or bad thing. It makes a very coherent album,
which is a great thing, but it also begs the question if it is all very original stuff. Wouldn't it be in
some way better/nicer (for the lack of a better word) to be a bit more original, stand out from the
rest; do something out of the ordinary? That I would have (also?) loved to hear; a collaboration that
would have oppositely taken the original, maybe a noise version, perhaps, or some neatly distorted
guitar song. In this current state, it is all a bit too polite, careful and yet I can also see why you would
want that. Needless to say that I had a pleasant time with the collection, found no one to be
standing out, and also no one was performing badly. (FdW)
––– Address: https://eileanrec.bandcamp.com/


 
FOETAL ZULU - TRACTS (3"CDR by Rural Colours)
 
Behind Foetal Zulu, we find one Louis Binns and he uses "only samples from a set of Bible
audiobook cassettes that had been found on a wall in Halifax by a housemate". The music made
"directly from the cassettes, as well as field recordings of the cassettes and cases themselves
being on hit on objects, and the occasional voice of confused passers-by". I was wondering if I had
the right disc. The voices, for instance, are very far away, almost like a non-presence in the music.
Cases being hit, audiobooks, it all sounds not like what I am hearing, which are five pieces of
ambient synthesizer music, bordering on a bit of dance music. There are arpeggios in play here,
with some neat drones, smooth synths and a fine slow bass synth. It has nothing at all to do with
Bible audiobooks, I should think; and maybe, just maybe, the hitting of cases resulted in some
synth being started but just as well, it may not. It is lovely music; don't get me wrong. There is a
pleasant naive touch to the music, which I enjoyed very much, a sort of in your face directness
about it that you don't see very often. Most enjoyable and way too short! (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.ruralcolours.co.uk


 
YAN JUN - POSTCARDS (cassette by Crustaces Tapes)
 
You can get releases by Crustaces Tapes by sending a gift or postcard to the label. Yan Jun sent
a couple of postcards over the years and these contained "onomatopoeia words of Chinese
characters to describe what I've been hearing during the time". Now, these postcards are sent out,
again by Yan Jun, to musicians for a musical interpretation. The recipients are Nicholas Bussmann,
Bonnie Jones, Zhu Wenbo, Torturing Nurse, Seijiro Murayama, Ryu Hankil, Sound of the Mountain
and Sun Wei; so, effectively this is a compilation cassette. The cover is an example of a postcard
and it is interesting to hear the different interpretations. Some of these musicians are, like Yan Jun,
from China, so perhaps the cards made more sense to them. For some of these (Torturing Nurse
for instance), I expected a more noise-like approach but that didn't happen. Also, not everyone is
in for a voice-based interpretation. Most of these pieces are a bit long, I thought, except Ryu
Hankil's short exercise in percussion. All pieces dwell on a minimalist approach to whatever
sounds are used (instruments, voices, field recordings), slowly winding things down over six to
eight minutes. Everybody seems to be heavily into conceptualising the music and that is a great
thing. Everybody reads something different in the words of Yan Jun, and that makes up for one
nicely varied cassette and thus a fine compilation. (FdW)
––– Address: https://crustaces.bandcamp.com/album/



AARON NICHOLAS WEST - HE WORE TWO DIFFERENT SHOES BECAUSE HE'S A PARTY BOY
 (cassette, private)
AARON WEST - NEXT YEAR MAYBE, WHEN I SEE YOU AGAIN (cassette, private)
SOCIOLOGICAL LIVER PILLS (cassette by Obsolete Staircases)
THE DULCET SOUND OF FICTION (7" by Humanhood Recordings)
 
When I had the chance I didn't chat with Aaron West, and a bit later this stuff was in the mailbox.
With a name like it was a bit to search the archives of Vital Weekly for any previous releases, but I
couldn't find any. West described his work as "primarily on musique concrete, where sounds are
derived from various techniques, including tape manipulation, analogue effects or field recordings,
then superimposed with traditional instruments." The latter I think might be a violin, as that is the
only traditional instrument mentioned on any of these covers. The first cassette is a short one,
fifteen minutes, with the program on both sides of the cassettes, consisting of five pieces in total.
Just as easily it might be one track, as I assumed this to be, before checking his Bandcamp page.
It is a strange mix of found sound and electronics, which is a bit loud at times, slightly distorted,
but also playing around with crude loops and moments of quiet introspection. It was all not great,
not bad, and not spectacular.
           I was more impressed by his other solo release, which has tape loops, violin, Akai reel-to-
reel 1/4 tape recorder and a Boss 202 Dr Beat Sampler on which he most certainly doesn't sample
any beats. This twenty-two-minute piece is one of slow and tranquil music. I assume loops of some
kind are made, and then slowly processed and played in a slightly reverberant space, like a chapel
or a church. This is more about ambient music than musique concrete I would think, but that's all
right of course. It is divided into three different sections, each revolving around a loop, on top of
which West expands with a few delicate sounds. Especially the third one, which takes up almost
half the piece, is a particularly good section. It sounds wind captured on a microphone, on a more
ethereal loop of humming angels. I wouldn't have minded hearing a much longer version of this
           As Sociological Liver Pills he teams up with one Brian Manley (manipulated radios, field
recordings, mics) and West takes credit for amplitude modulation freq 535-1605 kHz, tape loops
and dirty potentiometer. They take a more noise approach in this duo; at least on this release as I
don't know any other work by them. Both sides have just one long piece on it, twenty-some minutes
per side and in this time frame, they explore the apparatus at their disposal and create on the first
side a shaky road of ambient meeting industrial via slow-moving, minimally changing blocks of
sound. Shaky, because it seems there is some instability on the music; it might be the cassette.
'Pyramid Battle Part IV', on the other side, is a slightly more noise-based affair and we find Manley
and West inside a high-pressure factory, with conveyer belt-like sounds eating away shards of
metal. It may sound very industrial from that description, but it is not. The cassette medium takes
off some of the harsher edges, which is all the better.
           And lastly, we find a thirty-five-second piece by West on 'The Dulcet Sound Of Fiction', which
is a twelve artist compilation 7". Everybody else has a one-minute piece. We find here Asochious,
Ben Traugher, Gravespit, Jonathan Hancock, Brett Barry, None, JAS2, Atticus Coleman, Tender
Mercy, Patient? and label boss Thaniel Ion Lee. As these things go with records with one-minute
pieces it is very hard to separate the pieces and it becomes a blurry collage of sound, which I
guess is the sort of purpose records like this serve. There is a fair of concentrated noise, there is
some introspective playing of sound, improvisation and it worked well as a sort of scrapbook for
short fiction pieces. (FdW)
––– Address: https://aaronwest.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://obsoletestaircases.bandcamp.com/music
––– Address: https://humanhoodrecordings.bandcamp.com/








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