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MARTIJN HOHMANN - THE HOHMANN TRANSFER (CD by De Fabriek Records & Tapes) *
OFFTHESKY & THE HUMBLE BEE - WE WERE THE HUM OF DREAMS (CD by Laaps) *
TONY OXLEY - BEAMING (CD by Confront Recordings) *
VIRTUAL COMPANY (CD by Confront Recordings) *
DALIA DONADIO - POEM POT PLAYS PANTANO (CD by Wide Ear Records) *
ANDERS FILIPSEN - STILLEBEN (CD by Ilk Music)
SEABUCKTHORN - THROUGH A VULNERABLE OCCUR (CD by Iikki) *
MACHINEFABRIEK - AMALGAAM (CD by Zoharum) *
RUTGER ZUYDERVELT - PORCELAIN (CD by Machinefabriek) *
BRUNO DUPLANT & RUTGER ZUYDERVELT - L'INCERTITUDE (cassette by Cronica Electronica) *
KINETOGRAVE - SLUMBERSCAPES (CD by Dedali Opera) *
RAPHAEL PANIS - DE SECRETIS NATURAE 1 (7” by Dedali Opera) *
GRYKË PYJE - COLLISION AND COALESCENCE (LP by Mappa) *
OLLI AARNI - MUSTIKOITA JA KISSANKELLOJA (LP by Mappa) *
SARAH HUGHES - I LOVE THIS CITY AND ITS OUTLYING LANDS (cassette by Mappa) *
SÉBASTIEN BRANCHE - LIGNES DE FUITE (cassette by Mappa) *
ROMAN RADKOVIČ COLLECTIVE - TELEVIZE (LP by Mappa) *
PAOLO IELASI - GLIMPSES FROM QUARANTINE (CDR, private) *
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - PENCIL (CDR by Miss Management) *
JOSEPH B. RAIMOND - THE GHOST OF EMPATHY (book by Mirran Thought)
JOSEPH B. RAIMOND - YINK & YANK (book by Mirran Thought)
SUMMER KAGAN (cassette by Expert Sleepers) *
MARIA CARLAS & MYLO CYWITZ - 3N6463M3N7 DR1V3R’ (USB by Toztizok Zoundz) *
MARTIJN HOHMANN - THE HOHMANN TRANSFER (CD by De Fabriek Records & Tapes)
The first thing to notice here is this released by De Fabriek Records & Tapes, a label usually reserved for releases by De Fabriek, even when in ancient history they released music by Mark Lane, RTC, Gen Ken Montgomery and The Force Dimension. However, Hohmann belongs to the current rotating cast of members of De Fabriek and helps them out with the design of covers. So, that might explain this. Martijn Hohmann works as a visual and audio artist in Breda, The Netherlands, and over the years he didn't release that much as a solo artist. His last one was a limited run 3"CDR, Yunus' (Vital Weekly 1114), which I enjoyed quite a bit, even when it was all way too brief. This time, Hohmann went to town. 'The Hohmann Transfer' is released in two editions. One is a standard digipack, with spot varnish and 'teacup' print inside, while the other is a box, about 7" sized and it contains bigger printed cards, "giant 840 x 960mm poster, an art print, a unique signed and numbered artwork and various undisclosed theme-related artefacts", which I am still not sure what they are. This is an edition of twenty-copies. The poster contains a map of the moon and that is what this release is about; transfers to the moon. The fateful mission of Apollo 10 and the death of Hohmann's father; both travel towards the moon, the end of life. And, it is also the end of the line of the name Hohmann, so I am told. What is not said here, on the cover or otherwise, is what kind of instruments Hohmann is using. Before he was interested in using vinyl as sources, but I would think this is replaced by the use of synthesizers, modular, analogue or software-based (I am not the sort of expert to say anything sensible about that), along with found sound from NASA (well, duh!), field recordings and an ancient recording from 1860 of 'Au Claire De La Lune'. Throughout the music is slow and peaceful; it is like being a slow spaceship moving through a vast empty and dark night, destination moon, but maybe also destination unknown. It is heavy on the drone side but it is not exclusively just that. In 'Deemesterhede' there is some sort of pulse to be noted, next to crackles and drones, that reminded me of Pan Sonic and in 'Au Claire De Lune', lots static, vinyl crackles and transmissions. Sometimes the music is all-dark but, again, also not something that he does all over the place. 'Morphin' is a ray of light, despite the heavy-handed title. Here we have eight pieces, sixty-three minutes of pure sonic bliss. If I had such a thing, this would be my pick of the week. (FdW)
––– Address: https://universaalkunst.bandcamp.com/
OFFTHESKY & THE HUMBLE BEE - WE WERE THE HUM OF DREAMS (CD by Laaps)
This is the third release by the new French label Laaps and sees Jason Corder, also known as Offthesky, working with Craig Tattersall, the Humble Bee. I reviewed some the latter's earlier work but, so it seems, none of his work as The Humble Bee. He was also a member Remote Viewer, The Boats and The Seaman And The Tattered Sail, with Bill Seaman. From Offtheskky I reviewed various albums, some of the more recent ones released by Eilean Records, the predecessor of Laaps (Vital Weekly 1041 and 1184). This is their second collaboration, following a first one by IIkki in 2019 (which I missed out upon). For this release, they receive help from Rin Howell, who sings the lyrics she penned and Cody Yantis on saxophone, though both don't appear on all of the eight songs. The two men use quite a bit of instruments on this recordings; piano, guitar, harmonium, bass, vibes, violin, percussion, effects, tape loop and yet they manage to keep the music sparsely orchestrated. It is something that I call 'small music'; it is intimate. The voice of Howell has that hoarse voice we know from the world of trip-hop music, but now it's more sensual, as there are no beats, just lots and lots of textures. Melodies are on repeat, so it's all more a song than a piece (semantics here), and very vaguely, somewhere, you could say this is a form of very alternative pop music, department of dream pop. A bit of piano, supported by the harmonium, whispering voices, half-spoken, half-sung, a bit of xylophone, soft crackles and to me it says, open your doors, let your space be filled with the spring breeze. No doubt this was made with the use of file exchange through the Internet and that is a most remarkable thing, as it all sounds very coherent. Hard to say who is responsible for what here, but at the start, I should think, it was decided that it should be album songs, spacious, dreamy ones, but songs none the less and that each of the players has an equal part in shaping the song basis as well as the atmospheric textures around it. There is an excellent, delicate balance between lighter and darker moods here, expertly performed. (FdW)
––– Address: https://laaps-records.com/
TONY OXLEY - BEAMING (CD by Confront Recordings)
VIRTUAL COMPANY (CD by Confront Recordings)
As I am looking up information on both of these releases, I realize, not for the first time, I do not possess a lot of knowledge on many things. One such thing is that Tony Oxley is a legend in the world of improvised and free music and a drummer who uses a lot of electronics. He lives in Viersen, Germany where on November 25, 2019, he recorded 'Beaming', along with Stefan Hölker, The latter plays acoustic percussion and Oxley 'electronics and concept'. I have no idea why the front cover only shows the name of Oxley. As you may have gathered from my bit of information I may not have heard a lot of Oxley's old music. The six pieces here, all called 'Frame', are hefty improvisations, which I found all most enjoyable. It sounds like an endless rattling of cages, chains and objects, but with the most curious and bizarre additional 'other sounds', for which I assume the electronics are responsible. It has for me the effect of falling through space, endlessly falling, or going up; I am not sure there, yet. Sounds seem to be stretched a bit or shrunk, or maybe all of that the same time, while the drums continue in this free mind map, with, for what my view of it is worth, not any coherency. It is a wild ride and not something to take in lightly. Afterwards, I had a short walk outside.
In the 1990s and 2002s, Derek Bailey and Will Gaines curated so-called company events in London, Marseille and New York, with a host of improvisers. The group goes back further, to the late seventies, and included an ever-changing cast of members, including Tristan Honsinger, Lol Coxhill, Eugene Chadbourne, Henry Kaiser and many others. Both Gaines and Bailey are no longer with us, and so there was this idea of a Virtual Company. Simon H. Fell (double bass) and Mark Wastell (violoncello, percussion) play along with a tape of material cut-up from Bailey on guitar and the tap dancing of Gaines. Bailey is in the first half-hour of the forty-five minutes and Gaines in the second half. Both Fell and Wastell played in Company at the turn of the century, along with Rhodri Davies, who couldn't make it on the night of March 2, 2018 ("due to the snow-bound absence"). Like the Oxley disc, this is a work of absolute freedom in playing. The random interjections of Bailey and Gaines from the tape guarantee that Fell and Wastell need to 'adjust' their playing, in response, in contradiction to the material but also concerning each other. All of that brings us forty-five minutes of extremely chaotic music, hectic, nervous, controlled, introspective, extravert, you name it and it is part of it. The instruments are played unusually, but are always to be recognized as guitars, bass and cello; the tap dancing is here the oddball in. This too is quite demanding music, which left this listener not untouched, but I also thought of this as most rewarding. (FdW)
––– Address: https://universaalkunst.bandcamp.com/
DALIA DONADIO - POEM POT PLAYS PANTANO (CD by Wide Ear Records)
Swiss vocalist Dalia Donadio I know above all from her duo work with Linda Vogel, as Schwalbe + Elefant. Also in that combination, she is the vocalist, singing and performing poetic songs in (dialects) of ‘Schweizerdeutsch’. In 2016 she debuted with a project of their own, titled ‘Poem Pot’ that has her performing poems with assistance by Urs Müller (guitar) and Raphael Walser (bass). Her new album is in continuity with this first one as the title indicates: ‘Poem Pot Plays Pantano’. Again with Müller and Walser as instrumentalists. For her first album, she used poems from several authors, for this new project Donadio takes inspiration from the poems of Swiss-Sicilian poet Daniele Pantano. From his book ‘Dogs in Untended Fields / Hunde in verwahrlosten Feldern’, to be more precise. Poems that deal with themes of exile, translingualism, the Alps, and more. Donadio composed music for the poems she selected and performs them with her multifaceted voice sensitively and expressively. Müller and Walser are far from playing just in a serving role just to accentuate the vocals and texts. They create very different atmospheres and textures, colouring the individual poems as performed by Donadio. But they take also their moments to shine. Especially guitarist Müller gives way to the beautiful sound and playing. Sometimes very spatially like in ‘Mountain Life’. Sometimes more wild and experimental, but always well proportioned. Electric guitar and acoustic bass not always make a perfect match for my ears. But in ‘Vaudeville’ for example, both are engaged in an exciting free improvisation ending up in a mean solo by Müller. Both take their part in evoking the many different moods and tempers that arise from the poems. Fine work! (DM)
––– Address: https://wideearrecords.bandcamp.com/
ANDERS FILIPSEN - STILLEBEN (CD by Ilk Music)
Filipsen is a composer, musician and sound artist from Copenhagen where he graduated from the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in 2010. In 2015 he debuted with his project ‘Paths’, performed by his ensemble The Black Nothing. His new project ‘Stilleben’ is again performed by this extensive ensemble compiled of following performers: Qarin Wikström (vocals, effects), Emil Jensen (trumpet, effects), Lars Greve (clarinets, tenor sax), Jeppe Højgaard (alto sax, clarinet), Soma Allpass (cello), Lars Lundehave (electronics), Nils Bo Davidsen (bass), Victor Dybbroe (percussion), Bjørn Heebøl (drums) and Anders Filipsen himself (composition, synths). This audio-visual project is a collaboration between Filipsen and film artist Jeppe Lange. Both “try to examine conditions and moods both visually and aurally, where small moments, objects and sounds slowly unfold and are united in the two forms of expression.” Most compositions are built from small and accessible patterns and motives that are repeated. This minimalist approach is intended and it results in a very comfortable and accessible chamber music, breathing a romantic and escapist atmosphere. It often reminded me of some film music and instrumental entertaining music from the 70s. The music is carefully arranged and recorded. Acoustical instruments, voice and electronics are integrated into one coherent and well-chosen sound. Despite all that, it missed its effect on me and it didn’t trigger my imagination or whatever. (DM)
––– Address: https://www.ilkmusic.com/
SEABUCKTHORN - THROUGH A VULNERABLE OCCUR (CD by Iikki)
It seems I missed out on a few releases by French Iikki label, who release music in combination with a photo book (or vice versa, of course, depending on your point of entry) and I am only receiving the audio part, so no comment on the photos by Sophie Gabrielle; so, I can't comment on the dialogue between the visual and the audio. Seabuckthorn is the music project of Andy Cartwright, who plays guitars, saz, charango and effects. The photography of Gabrielle inspired him in thirteen pieces, displaying his qualities in sculpting drone music with string instruments and sound effects. I would think that some of this goes into one or more loop devices, which are used to build a foundation of various layers on top of which Cartwright adds his solo playing. This can be plucking a few strings, using a bow on those strings, or some chords being strummed. Not being a guitar player, I sometimes couldn't tell the difference. It is not Cartwright's intention to offer a lot of variations on the notion of gentle drone music, but rather offer a variety of approaches in which in he is not shy of using a bit of distortion or some darker undercurrents. He lives in the Alps these days and maybe the mountain area inspires him to create something as dark and oppressive as a mountain on a dark day, combined with something brighter, like a sunny day on the alps in the springtime. Darkness is, perhaps, something that prevails here though. Throughout, Seabuckthorn stays firmly on the more experimental edge of drone music and that's something I enjoy very much. Not walk those well-trodden paths of others, but find a delicate balance between what we know and that what we can explore further. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.iikki-books.com/
MACHINEFABRIEK - AMALGAAM (CD by Zoharum)
RUTGER ZUYDERVELT - PORCELAIN (CD by Machinefabriek)
BRUNO DUPLANT & RUTGER ZUYDERVELT - L'INCERTITUDE (cassette by Cronica Electronica)
These days, Zuydervelt seems to be tied up in projects beyond the normal practice of 'doing music, releasing a CD and playing a concert', fulfilling commissions for dance groups, games and film, besides doing work with others. So, maybe a standalone release like 'Amalgaam' is perhaps such thing that represents the 'old' Machinefabriek. However, Zuydervelt still sits down and plays some music, just for the sake of it, and that is what happens here. A rather short release, clocking in at thirty-five minutes; I am not sure why it's no longer as I can imagine Zuydervelt having more pieces ready that would fit on it. Likewise, I am, perhaps, also a bit surprised at the inclusion of previously released track, albeit in another version. Is there, maybe, a desire to keep on releasing? The music is what you would expect from Machinefabriek. That by the now known style of intelligent drones, a bit of overdrive, sampled crackles and delicate tonal passages. In 'Amalgaan I', there is also the addition of a heavily slowed down drum machine for a while and a sampled choir of one voice; elements of which return in the second part of the same piece, but in a different, more spaced out configuration. It's these two pieces that make up the majority of the music here. 'Metallic (Edit)' in-between sounds like an early computer piece, with a fair and healthy amount of hiss and is quite a nice piece, while 'Intro Tape' is just that; one-and-half-minute intro drones. As said, this is all good and fine Machinefabriek music, nothing standing out and nothing new and that seems oddly a step backwards, I think.
'Porcelain' is released as Rutger Zuydervelt and not as Machinefabriek, maybe as a step towards recognition as a film composer. 'Porcelain' is a movie by Jenneke Boeijink and is about a young boy wh0 is aggressive and his parents' search for the cause of that and the desperate measures they take. I haven't seen the film. This is the second time Zuydervelt works on a feature film score (he worked on other film projects too) and for this, he called in the help of Francesco Guerri, the Italian cellist to provide some of his improvising, which Zuydervelt uses in the overall score. There is also a sample of Henry Purcell's 'The Fairy Queen' used, which was inspired by Boeijink. This too is a short record, thirty-four minutes, and has twenty-two pieces of music. Ten are used in the movie and the other twelve are outtakes. I recommend playing the trailer (https://vimeo.com/3539900700) so you get a sense of the drama and see how the musical work within the movie. I am not sure if they all work in the same way as standalone pieces, which, I guess, is the problem with albums like this. The music is throughout very short here and you can easily imagine how they work within the context of a film and also how the short pieces would work in a larger time frame, say, as stand-alone pieces of music. The pieces are eerily beautiful and with the occasional cello by Guerri coming in, there is a great sense of darkness in these pieces. All of which is somehow way too short for my taste. I have no idea how the world of film scoring works and if one is allowed to rework short bits into longer ones for the OST album, but I would have loved to hear that. A bit like the final piece, 'Last Goodbye', which lasts close to four minutes and by far the longest piece on this CD. As it is, this is certainly a great album.
Collaborations are another thing that is on Zuydervelt's plate for many years; with Gareth Davies, Tim Catlin, Subterreanact, Anne Bakker, Chris Dooks and loads more (I thought for once not to mention the more famous ones). This was mostly as 'Machinefabriek & ...' but maybe it's wiser, if the other also doesn't use a project name, to use the name Rutger Zuydervelt &, well Bruno Duplant in this case. After all the music I heard from Duplant, I still have very little idea what he does; that's what I also noted when I reviewed his 'Feu Danse' release (Vital Weekly 1212). Let's say he is, just as Zuydervelt, a man who loves field recordings, electronics, instruments and processing. I assume this was done through an exchange of sound files for x-number of times, before arriving at the two twenty-some minute pieces here. Both pieces shamelessly show us, two men, who love their sounds, and whatever you can do to sculpt it into whatever you want. They elegantly move back and forth between high and low sounds, quiet and loud parts and clear field recordings and heavily obscured ones. The ego of either musician has disappeared from this and we have no longer an idea who does what here. And perhaps we don't want to know either; it is not of great importance to see that Rutger did this, and Bruno was responsible for that, as what counts is the overall results, the interaction of them working together, and I am still assuming this was all done via long-distance exchange of files. I have no idea if there was a plan to follow, a score, an idea, or if it was all just let's toss a whole of sounds in the air and see what happens. I am hoping for the latter, as that's how it sounds, free from concepts and let the flow go as it goes. That works very well here and it is a most enjoyable release. Seeing Zuydervelt have return visits with some of his previous collaborators, I hope that Duplant is among them. (FdW)
––– Address: http://zoharum.com/
––– Address: https://www.machinefabriek.nu/
––– Address: https://www.cronicaelectronica.org/
KINETOGRAVE - SLUMBERSCAPES (CD by Dedali Opera)
RAPHAEL PANIS - DE SECRETIS NATURAE 1 (7” by Dedali Opera)
The title of KinetoGrave’s debut album is misleading… this music might be about sleeping or dreaming (if that’s what they mean by “SlumberScape”), but don’t expect ambient snooze. That’s what I thought this might be… a soundscape for slumber, right? But nope, “SlumberScape” is much too tense and alarmingly strange to chill anyone out. Perhaps these twisty industrial vignettes could be an audio interpretation of restless sleep, the sort that leaves you more exhausted after you wake up than you were when you laid down. The band is a duo of Raphaël Panis (a new name to me) and Alain Basso, who has been a staple of the French electronic-music underground since the early 1980s with Dernier Du Culte, Phaeton Dernière Danse and of course on his own. Combining their talents, we get eight tracks of nasty synthesizer skitter and sideways metal clatter with overtones of dread and menace. Pieces like “Ethyl Glycolor” have a backbone of angular irritation that never quite resolves… perhaps this is the slumber interrupted by a nightmare that shakes you awake and makes you nervous to try sleeping again. Others, like “Mendeleiev Element 19”, are forthright nightmares with grumbling inhuman voices glorping and snarling from the darkness. Each piece is an anxious, self-contained unit; the duo has a very tight grip on the dramatic through-lines pulling each one. As an album, I found it exhausting. A few tracks at a time were plenty! Enjoyable, sure, but not the kind of thing I’d throw on before bed.
On his own, Raphaël Panis is not nearly so malevolent as he is with Kinetograve. His 7” single, “De Secretis Naturae 1” contains two concise & carefully constructed pieces. Each side exactly 4 minutes and 33 seconds long (wow, seriously?) and is the sort of under-stated abstraction that draws listeners closer and invites repeat listening. These nine engaging minutes of audio drama open with cascading oceanic white-noise, but doesn’t remain a simple blast; Panis has a firm command of density and pacing, fracturing the roar into particles, back into a blast, atomized again so that it resembles birds chirping or angry mosquitos… building up, breaking down… these could be entirely synthesized sounds, but you could be fooled into thinking they were night recordings of a rainforest. The source is less important to me than the artist’s narrative voice, which is intriguing enough to make me want to seek out his full-length album. (HS)
––– Address: https://kinetograve.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://raphaelpanis.bandcamp.com/
GRYKË PYJE - COLLISION AND COALESCENCE (LP by Mappa)
OLLI AARNI - MUSTIKOITA JA KISSANKELLOJA (LP by Mappa)
SARAH HUGHES - I LOVE THIS CITY AND ITS OUTLYING LANDS (cassette by Mappa)
SÉBASTIEN BRANCHE - LIGNES DE FUITE (cassette by Mappa)
ROMAN RADKOVIČ COLLECTIVE - TELEVIZE (LP by Mappa)
Time will tell if releasing five new items in a time of crisis is a bold move or business suicide, but Mappa did it. Maybe they just caught up with sending promo's might be a more mundane explanation. I played them all yesterday, without having a look at covers or information and today, in a more or less random, I go over them again. I had not heard of Grykë Pyje before, who is the "missed seed of cryptobotany music", which is probably just a good slogan. It is the duo of Jani Hirvonen (better known as Uton) and Johannes Schebler (also Baldruin). I do know Uton better than I know Baldruin, but still, it comes as a surprise, not the least the words that go along "ceremonial sonification of the sacred herbarium, painted myths of the animal kingdom and voices behind the thicket". I must admit I skipped the rest of the botanic references. There are no instruments mentioned, but I would think there is quite some organ and drum work going on here, along with samples of flutes and wind. Looking at the cover, while hearing the music made me think that is might very well be a parody of the world of new age music. They surely use the 'right' sounds from time to time, think those flute loops, bird calls and the tinkering of a piano, but at the same time, they offer something much stranger and wilder, some Dictaphone abuse, non-rhythmical playing of percussion, heavier drone bits, which sounds meaner than on your average incense burner music album. I found this record quite good; an interesting 'different' perspective on the whole notion of new age, combined with elements of drone, ambient and some of this played with the more usual freedom of improvised music. Great record!
Also, Olli Aarni might be a new name for me. Over three years (2016-2019) and in four different places he recorded his album. Those places were Vaatekomero, Vantaa, EMS, Stockholm, Q-O2, Brussels and Worm/Klangendum studio, Rotterdam. Some of these places contain ancient synthesizers and early electronics equipment and I would think that Aarni has used a lot of them. There is some more biology at work here as the title means 'Blueberries and cat bells'. While not mentioned on the cover, I would think that Aarni uses quite a bit of field recordings, which he feeds into the gremlins of the machine, which in turn spits out it in many different forms, chaotic and nervous, like a thousand ants crawling around. A hectic bunch of connections and disconnections are made here, going all over the place. It is music that can call for a lot of names, radioactive noise, Geiger counter blues, or ants dance music. It's like taking a strong microscopic and looking down on a petri dish full of bacteria. This differs from many of the different modular electronics records out there in such a way that Aarni is not out there to play some long-form drone music, techno but going back in history and taking inspiration from early computer music and early electronics and succeeds at giving this a personal touch.
Then, on cassette, we find music by Sarah Hughes. Recently we heard her playing the zither on a piece composed by Rhodri Davies (Vital Weekly 1221). She is also a member of The Set Ensemble and plays with other musicians. Her music was released by Another Timbre, Suppedaneum, Melange Editions, and Consumer Waste and she works in "composition, performance, curating and installation, revolves around the relationship between social and environmental systems of cooperation". On her cassette, she teases the listener with some very quiet music and I recommend taking it from the download and enjoy it without the hiss (of course, should that be an integral part of it, someone will tell me after the publication of the review and I say 'you should have told me sooner'). This is a twenty-seven-minute piece of music in which Hughes plays "zither, piano, Hammond organ, sine tones, white noise, electric harpsichord and objects", all of which are used in a very quiet way. One could think that much of this is hiss anyway, with a piano in the other room playing some very sparse notes. In the early part of the piece, the presence of sine waves is clearer and towards the end, the piano is loudest and there is some squeaky feedback (hearing aid?) sound added to the mix. Is it all meditative and Zen-like? I wasn't too sure about that. Sure, it is quiet and contemplative but there is also certain strangeness about this. I walked in my neighbourhood this morning for a short bit; it was cold and nobody was out. You'd think in these times, but it had the same otherworldly feeling this music also has. Haunting tranquillity.
From Leipzig hails Sebastien Branche, who plays 'Augmented-Saxophone Solo', which I gather to understand solo saxophone and some objects that produce additional sounds on the instrument. Maybe not one kind of saxophones, as the information also notes that he plays " soprano, tenor and C-melody saxophones". This is quite an interesting release that is so much more than a musician exploring the possibilities of solo saxophone music. Branche makes an interesting case here of alternating pure saxophone music with something that we could label as musique concrete. Sometimes the two ends work together and sometimes they act as stand-alone versions. All of this he plays out with great care for spacing and pacing. Things crackle for some time, sustain for some time, sometimes you think it's the object you are hearing and then it turns out that Branche uses his mouth to play along before letting it take over. It becomes a collage of sounds, neatly stuck next to each other and sometimes with overlap among them. Quiet parts, loud bits, it all becomes part of this sculpture of sound. It's a delicate frame but it works very well. At thirty minutes I would think that this is sadly a bit too short.
And to make a full circle we end with another LP release, so far the latest release by Mappa and, perhaps, of this lot, also the strangest. Roman Radkovič (guitar, voice) lends his name to a collective that includes also Josef Novak (keyboard), Jiri Sila (accordion), Zdenek Pihosek (harmonica, double bass), Zdenek Caha (drums) and Mikos Sandera (percussions). I think this is strange music in as much that it leaves me confused behind. Pleasantly confused that is. The music is free; it seems as if everybody is doing his or her thing, independently of whatever someone else is playing. That is chaotic, but the chaos of this collective works out a bit differently. The members keep on playing whatever they are playing within a format of small variations. That gives it all a slightly minimalist edge to it, which, at the same time, also sounds folk and rock-like. Folk, I would say, because it is mostly acoustic and rock-like because of that mild tendency towards very free rock, sans the amplification. Perhaps it is the use of the voices here? Maybe I lost you there? It is freaky music, out of control and also very much in control. This could very well be the product of outsider music, but somehow I think these people know what they are doing. Playing the fool rather than being the fool, if you get my drift. (FdW)
––– Address: https://mappa.bandcamp.com/music
––– Address: https://romanradkovicollective.bandcamp.com/
PAOLO IELASI - GLIMPSES FROM QUARANTINE (CDR, private)
Italy was the first European country to be hit very hard by the Covid 19 virus and went into a firm lockdown. Other countries followed and there are plenty of online projects with music made during the quarantine. This CDR is one of the first, if not the first, to arrive in physical form. Paolo Ielasi (yes, brother, etc.) surprised me with an interesting debut album, 'Naso All'in Su, Due E Poi Cinque Rondini A V' (Vital Weekly 1189). He started playing music at the age of thirty-five, working with a Moog Mother 32, a loop station and field recordings. What I noticed during the lockdown here in The Netherlands is that for me not much changed, used to be sitting at home and play music all day (the dream job for everyone, I would think) but with that difference that all the days are now the same, all week, in and out. And, somehow, the days seem to slow down. I am sure that's just some odd feeling that comes with repetition. Ielasi's music is the soundtrack of this slowing down, I think. He has three pieces, totalling seventy-three minutes and in each of these, there is very slow music, very little change and lots of field recordings. All three are untitled. The first one seems to have some repeating guitar motifs over watery electronics and turns out to be the liveliest piece of music. The second and third are quieter, emptier, and seem to pick up sound from a quiet space, an empty street if you will, and very occasionally something happens, which Ielasi then feeds into a delay machine, not too long or spacious and along with that there are some very slow modulations on the synthesizer. The long second piece, almost forty-six minutes, could have lasted various hours and had not been looking at other new releases to review, I would have left it playing all that time, and red a couple of books in the meantime. As I am ever the optimist and not necessarily fond of large gatherings of people, I think this quarantine seems to be working pretty well for some people. I see testimonials saying 'I work on new music everybody', and while I see other people loathing that ('oh no, not more laptop wanking over field recordings'), I think it's not necessary to release all of it, but the hours are used better than to go around the internet, trawling for more misinformation or silly clips of hilarious jokes involving food fights by drunk people. Maybe I could think of another ten things about this quarantine stuff while listening to Paolo Ielasi again, for the third time, but it's time to move on. This is surely a release to return on a quiet Sunday afternoon. (FdW)
--- Address: https://soundcloud.com/paoloielasi
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - PENCIL (CDR by Miss Management)
JOSEPH B. RAIMOND - THE GHOST OF EMPATHY (book by Mirran Thought)
JOSEPH B. RAIMOND - YINK & YANK (book by Mirran Thought)
If you decide to call your release 'Pencil', why not add a small pencil? At first, I thought Doc Wör Mirran raided the free Ikea ones, but they have something better, custom made ones that say 'Doc Wör Mirran & Telepherique'. For release number #171, Doc Wör Mirran went down in the basement of Two Car Garage Studios and found a recording which they made on July 8 and 9, 1995 with Klaus, Danijela and Rene Jochim, better known as Telepherique. That's a name I haven't heard in quite a while. They were an active force in the nineties, releasing a vast number of cassettes, many of which were 'music by mail' collaborations with De Fabriek, Technostria. Brume, S-Core, Kapotte Muziek, factor X and Tesendalo. The latter is a project from Peter Schuster, who was at the time also a member Doc Wör Mirran and, together with founding member Joseph B. Raimond, present on this recording. Both pieces are almost the same length (two-second difference). Don't let the dedication to Keith Flint (singer for the Prodigy, who died last year) distract you, as these two pieces are firmly rooted in the world of experimental krautrock inspired synthesizer music. There are long-form synthesizer sounds, drones if you will, and these are perhaps handled by one to three players, while the rest is busy adding strange sounds along; a bit like small bells, synth bubbles, percussive bits but maybe also some sort of guitar treatment is used. In 'Pencil Part 1', it is all quiet en subdued, a bit closed off from the world; spooky stuff. In the second part it is spacier and more outgoing; this more like a rusty spaceship facing its final descent into the stratosphere and about to explode, a long and slow death. This is a most enjoyable Doc Wör Mirran release and an excellent archival find.
At the same time, there are two new booklets by Joseph B. Raimond. One is 'Yink & Yank', which is said to contain 'new poems' and 'The Ghost Of Empathy', which has the subtitle 'Western Haiku Vol. 10'. I love it that Raimond sends me these books, and I love to read them. I am sure Raimond knows by now that I am not a literary critic. Maybe the whole idea of a 'review' in this case is to let everybody know there are new titles available, and nobody in their right mind would expect a review from me? There is not much that I can say about it that would make any sense. If you like to read a bit of poetry, or a bunch of haiku's while playing, I don't know, Doc Wör Mirran and Telepherique, then this is one great bundle to have. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.dwmirran.de
SUMMER KAGAN (cassette by Expert Sleepers)
Many of the labels we write about are run by music enthusiasts, who love their stuff and release music they think needs hearing by a larger audience. Expert Sleepers is a bit different. It is not a label first, but a company that builds Eurorack modules and "other synth hardware". "We also make VST, AudioUnit and AAX plug-ins for macOS and Windows, as well as plug-ins for VCV Rack", and the label is there to showcase music made with this. If you have time enough, check out the free album by Darkroom, which is over three hours worth of music, or check out the much shorter album by Summer Kagan, which is also a free download but also available on cassette. To the layman, such as myself, it will remain a mystery what's going on here, in terms of hard- and software that is. Whoever Summer Kagan is, he (she?) does a fine job at creating two, twenty-minutes of solid drone music. It is forceful, with a tendency towards a bit of distortion. Think of it as a few keys stuck firmly down and sound effects, filters, oscillators or whatever they are called, colour the sound and the result closely resembles a bit of utter minimalist shoegazing drone music, especially on the first side, 'Sumner'. 'Jeanlu' on the other side is loud and mellow at the same time and the slow meandering bass sound below, cut short to almost a 4/4 rhythm reminded me of Wolfgang Voigt's Gas, but it ending was not unlike a few bend guitar notes. When I went back for some final notes, I noticed a similar rhythmic drive in the first piece, yet none of this becomes dance music. This is quite some powerful mood stuff, which should be played loud to feel the full effect. (FdW)
––– Address: http://expertsleepersltd.bandcamp.com/
MARIA CARLAS & MYLO CYWITZ - 3N6463M3N7 DR1V3R’ (USB by Toztizok Zoundz)
In 2018 Carlas and Cywits debuted with a cassette release for the Dutch Plattegrond Records. I remember being pleasantly surprised and impressed by their strange opera-like music. With their new album ‘3n6463m3n7 dr1v3r’ – a digital-only release for Toztizok Zoundz – this Amsterdam-based duo continues on this path and further explore and deepen their operatic and semi-orchestral music. Maria Carlas (real name: Carla Genchi) is a classically trained vocalist from Italy. She studied at the Nino Rota Conservatory in Monopoli. Cywitz is a singer and composer of German origin, and that is about all I know from his background. Vocals function at the centre in their dramatic musical constructions, ranging from operatic singing to sprechgesang in Dutch, English or French. Sometimes they sing with their natural voices, sometimes they are manipulated. Consequently embedded in a weird instrumental environment of electronics and acoustical instruments (keyboards, synth, sampler, mandolin, glockenspiel, etc.), that suggest orchestral proportions. Their very outspoken and bizarre musical compositions can be situated somewhere between audio play and music. It all sounds very determined and worked out. In live settings, visuals and costumes complete their theatrical concept. But also without these aspects listening to their playful music is very rewarding. (DM)
––– Address: http://toztizok.com/