number 1240
week 27


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ATTENTION: No Vital Weekly in Week 29

R | E (CD compilation by Attenuation Circuit)  *
LEAN LEFT – MEDEMER (CD by PNL Records)  *
WILD/LIFE - MALOTO/DREAMS (CD by 1000 HZ/Mik Musik) *
POOL PERVERT - TANK (CDR by Non-Interrupt) *
MUSIC FOR A FEW PEOPLE VOLUME 3 (CDR compilation by Non-Interrupt)
ANDREAS LUTZ - DYS (SD card by Kasuga Records) *
JEREMIAH FISHER/ANTHONY JANAS (split cassette by Reserve Matinee)
CYANOBACTERIA (FROM THE ARABIAN GULF) (cassette by Toxo Records) *
RADIUM JAW (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
ROVOX 625 - TOO CLOSE TO HOME (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
MATTHEW ATKINS & PETER MARSH (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
COAGULANT - REVOK (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
PASTORAL ABUSE - COLD HAND OF POWER (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
DEATHBIRD STORIES - TARRH (cassette by Invisible City Records) *


After studying in Venice, Milan, Bern and Basel, Francesca Naibo worked with Helmut Lachenmann and George Lewis and collaborated with many European musicians, especially from Central and Northern Europe. She is also a teacher at the middle school in Milan. This is her first release and she calls 'free improvisation' and in the text that came along said that "this little known kind of music consists of the ability and the research of creating music in the very moment it is played". Ah! She plays a semi-acoustic guitar, uses objects and effects (specified as "delay, overdrive, sound retainer and ring modulator") and on her release we find fourteen pieces and yes, sure, this is improvised music, yet is infused with elements of, for instance, modern classical music. Quiet and introspective music, but yet, still, I think, something that owes to the world of modern classical music. In her pieces, she balances between abstract guitar sounds, played with an object or two, such as in 'Teing Dol', in a very free modus, but there are also times in which she plays, chords, notes in an open setting ('Lameda Lameda' for instance) and then leaping back to a more drone-based piece ('Gontenghen'). Sometimes she moves through various approaches in the space of one piece, such as in 'Groff', opening with the crackles of a plastic bag and then doing some very play on the snares, ending with a bow across the snares in a high-piercing manner. It is this variety that does it for me; it is not one thing or another, but the whole scope of possibilities is used here and with a great sense for variety, not going for one direction in particular, which I enjoyed very much (FdW)
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R | E (CD compilation by Attenuation Circuit)

Here we have a compilation of collaborations. Originally there was a festival planned, Re:flexions, in Augsburg for July 4th, but that is cancelled. The original idea was to get a bunch of people playing together as a trio or quartet. Instead, these collaborations are now on CD; these are remote collaborations (or 'Distant Structures' as P16.D4 labelled such things thirty years ago). The cover looks a bit cheap and doesn't have much information. For instance, it is hard to say how these pieces were made; not in some concert setting, I assume, but then, how? There are five pieces, between nine and thirteen-minute; four trios and a quartet. The latter being B.u.d.d.A (Chris Sigdell & Sascha Stadlmeier) with Fabio Fabbri (trumpet) and Hoshiko Yamane (from Tangerine Dream on violin). There are more new names for me; Agente Costura (who plays a sewing machine), Wilfried Hanrath, Lee Enfield, Waterflower and Kompripiotr for instance. The music in all of these pieces sounds very much improvised but to various degrees. I guess it depends on whatever instruments are used. In the first piece, by B.u.d.d.A et al, the addition of trumpet and violin sounds against the electronic backdrop works in a fine ambient way, whereas Occupied Head/Agente Costura/Boban Ristevski has a stricter electronic feeling, but it is somewhat uninformed. Gintas K/Calineczka/Hanrath is on the similar electronic ground and similar slightly loose ends. Enfield/Waterflower/Kompripiotr offer the most ambient music of the lot here, with whispering voices over sustaining sounds, slowly melting and burning away, removing the ambience in favour of distortion. Deep (a duo) and N[91] represents the dark ambient guitar side, with two basses and a guitar, and it's the best for the last, I think. In this piece, the playing comes together and creates a fine, solid piece of music. (FdW)
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Lean Left started around 2010 is a quartet of Paal Nilssen-Love (drums), Ken Vandermark (reeds), Terrie Ex and Andy Moor (guitars). Names that need no further introduction here. How came to this collaboration about? In 2007 Ex and Moor played as a duo on a festival in Amsterdam, as did Vandermark and Nilssen-Love. The first two come from a punk background, the second one from a background in jazz and improvisation. The Ex was one of the first – and one of the very few – coming from a punk background started to explore collaborations with improvisers. Lean Left is one of these projects that turned out persistent over time. Several CD releases – always recorded in concert – document their work. ‘Medemer’, their latest, contains the complete live set (72 minutes) as played on September 10th, 2018 at Pardon ToTu in Warsaw. The recording is divided into six parts. This is a bit arbitrary but makes it possible to step in at different moments. Of course, long-span improvisations go through different phases. The improvisation starts with lovely interaction of varying dynamics by both guitarists. The second phase is a duet between Vandermark and Nilssen-Love. Near the end, the guitarists join and together they create an enormous cacophony noisy cloud. Following the climax, the third phase starts again with the guitarists at the forefront in an interplay with Nilssen-Love. In phase four they create a boiling wild dance, which his great. The recording underlines that noise and free jazz still make an energizing couple. Often releases of live recordings offer a selection. Here we can witness the whole set and follow how different movements etc., manifest themselves during this engaging musical meeting. (DM)
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Gjerstad is a Norwegian saxophonist who started working at the end of the 70s. His Trio is one of his most stable units, although line up changed over the years. In the beginning, Hamid Drake and William Parker were his companions. But since 1999 drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and bassist Øyvind Storesund are his main collaborators. They released several albums over the years. Sometimes a guest was invited like Peter Brötzmann and Steve Swell. This is also the case for their latest one: ‘Forgotten City’. This time they are joined by Jon Rune Strøm, who just like Storesund plays the double bass. Strøm played the bass earlier in an earlier phase of this trio. But for this occasion, they play simultaneously. An interesting move, resulting in more presence of this instrument. But is this difficult to distinguish who is doing what? Gjerstad plays alto sax, flute and Bb clarinet on this recording. They do their best in four improvisations that move between 8 and 17 minutes. Recorded at Paradiso studio 22nd and 23rd August 2018. What characterizes their interactions are their intensity, flexibility and communicative interplay without going for highly dynamic outbursts. That is not what they strive for here. Instead, they keep things more controlled in some way. Like in ‘Cars Up on Blocks’ that has Gjerstad playing the flute in a poetic conversation with both bass players and Nilssen-Love joining in for the final section of this improvisation. Or ‘Cracked Sidewalks’ that has subtle and very expressive playing by Gjerstad in the opening section. In the second half of this lengthy improvisation, I lost contact and things became to introverted for me. (DM)
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While I was thinking I never heard of Selvafiorita before, it turns out I heard a collaborative work by him and Valerio Tricoli before (see Vital Weekly 796). That was some time ago, and I had not much recollection of it. He calls his new work 'The Fall' to be "an “old-fashioned symphonic electronic poem” THE FALL explores a spiritual transmutation where biographical sound marks collide with intangible sounds from the uncanny. From the clash of this alchemical counterpoint multiple layers of narratives, phono-fictions of THE FALL, emerge as tremors of reality “toward which perception moves” (Ezra Pound)". There is no connection with the UK band of the same name, but there is a quote from Dante's 'Purgatory' on the cover; I was thinking I should read Camus' novel of the same again. According to the information we find field recordings on this disc, along with "processed and synthesized sounds, from tape reel manipulations to time-frequency esoteric processing techniques", and especially those reel-to-reel manipulations are here loud and clear. This is work of musique concrète, but unlike JD Zazie or Sjoerd Leijten from last week, Selvafiorita sticks with the original approach of on the spot manipulation of those field recordings and synthesized sounds. Especially in the first three pieces, this works out very well. There is a great dynamic approach between the input and the output, the latter seemingly on a constant shift, back and forth, up and down. I very much enjoyed the analogue process of it, reminding me of the Marchetti/Noetinger concerts I saw. I was less enamoured by the final piece, which is almost twice along as any of the other three and sees Selvafiorita working with more long-form drone-based sounds, along which he spins acoustic sounds, click-clacking as they come along but all of which didn't seem to go anywhere for too long. I was perfectly happy with the first pieces, making up a fine solid and short album. (FdW)
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Sometimes we have this thing at the end of Vital Weekly that says 'Less than Vital – music [not] reviewed outside our box', which is to mention a release that we received but which we think does not fit our thing; of perhaps, we are simply not equipped about to write about (and yes, we could ignore, but we don’t). There is, of course, a grey area of music that is outside our box and maybe not. This is one of them. Maybe it is the company of Wojciech Kucharczyk from Mik Musik that made me listen closer? The music is made with musicians from Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Poland. The music here "transforms the contemporary styles of East Africa, Bongo Flava, afro-pop, afro-beats, dancehall, taarab, local ritual music into the experimental electronic". We, at Vital Weekly, are most versed in the world of experimental electronic music and not at all in the world of contemporary East-African music. Sure, a song such as 'Hatima Yetu' there is a great spooky ambience and one of the indeed experimental pieces; haunting, gothic almost. In 'Kangaroo' we hear something of The Complainer's old music (Kucharczyk's old project). But in many of the other pieces, I am entirely lost and have no idea. It sounds modern, it sounds pop-music, and it sounds African. Would I know anything about it, I could say something about Paul Simon and 'Graceland', make a comparison or such, but I haven't seen the documentary in ages. If you are fed up with drones and tones and ready for unusual modern pop music from a non-Western perspective, this could be a great place to start. Could! I have no idea whatever else is out there in this respect. (FdW)
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De Fabriek goes on a little historical trip; maybe even two. The first trip concerns their history as a record label, and especially the first-ever LP by Genocide Organ, 'Leichenlinie'; it is an album that has reached legendary status attached to a hefty price tag. I sold my copies ages ago and I see on Discogs it once fetched 750 dollars. The second trip is the history that the music concerns itself with; the holocaust. Back in the day, we were all scratching our heads (I hope) about the political stances of Genocide Organ, like we did so many times. Is it art, a comment, a glorification? Oddly, some time ago, the name Genocide Organ came up in a conversation and I was sent mp3s of the original album, and while I am not the world's greatest lover of pure, harsh noise, I enjoyed it quite a bit. In my original review in Vital 13 (the paper fanzine thing) I wrote that ‘Leichenlinie’ could be compared to Ramleh and that it is 'a bit mediocre'. I am not sure why De Fabriek would want to re-visit this album and come up with some 'reconstruction' of it in 2020, but after a bunch of 'Remix' albums (more next week), it is good to see the group do something entirely different. Their take on the industrial music of Genocide Organ is an exact copy of the original. Extremely distorted sounds from loops and synthesizers, all brought up to a massive volume and each of the three tracks is separated with some spoken words about concentration camps. It would be strange to write that thirty years on this is a unique sound, after having called the original 'mediocre'. Perhaps the original, having stood the test of time much better than I would have thought, wasn't that mediocre and Genocide Organ had a more original sound? Maybe I am more comprehensible to youth sentiment these days? On the other side, we find the ever-mysterious Kommissar Hjuler Und Frau now in collaboration with 腥身保育器≒Nov Embudagonn 108 Hypnodelia And Therrorpyec So-Wound System Warchestra, which is a duo of Bonkotsu Ichikawa and Nobu Kasahara. I have no idea who they are or what they do. There is no noise on this side of the record, or, perhaps, not noise as we know it, Jim. There are spoken word in the form of a dialogue (TV?). It sounds German but maybe it is also something else and even with my limited knowledge of the German language, I couldn't make out what this was about. Furthermore, there is quiet music, quiet electronics and the whole things goes on for the entire side of the record. What is it about? Your guess is as good as mine. I think using the word 'mysterious' is what covers such questions. It sounds vague and mysterious and I fell asleep the first time around, but wide awake I enjoyed the tranquil character. This LP is part of "the series FLUXUS +/-, limited to 52,7 copies, which means that the 53rd copy is a 7/10 LP art object (See images!). So only numbers 1/52,5... to 52/52,7 are playable. LP comes in black vinyl with black labels" and surely bound to become a collector's item. (FdW)
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Daniel Menche keeps it very minimal when it comes to text on the cover of his LP. Just the title, name, and catalogue number and that's it. As I am playing this record, I am trying to think how long it was that I last heard a solo release by Menche. That was when I wrote something about a miniCD he did for Lenka Lente (Vital Weekly 1071), some two years ago. But before that, surely nothing for a period of a long time and to be honest, I have not much idea how Menche's music developed from his first releases (which I remember very well) into recent times. On 'Primal Frictions', there are two pieces, indicated as 'part 1' and 'part 2' on the label's Bandcamp site. Both pieces contain very much similar sounds, instruments and could just as well be one long piece of music. Just what Menche does here is a bit unclear. Listening to these pieces, I would think that Menche uses a fair bit of acoustic instruments, stringed ones, which he plays with a bow and that he uses quite a few of these; most likely he layers them using a computer. These layers are all a bit different, but very close together. My best guess when it comes to naming an instrument I would say a cello; also, a likely candidate is a cymbal (the opening bits of 'Part 1'). There might also be the use of electronics, reverb and delay pedals. All of these together results are some dense clouds of acoustic music. Are there loops? I have no idea, but I would not be surprised if there are none. The whole thing is quite drone-based, but far from a static. It moves and changes throughout. I was reminded of Organum, of Iancu Dumitrescu but also of The Necks; it had that same dense sound, that vague and mysterious 'landscape at night' atmosphere of a horror soundtrack, without there ever be a major shock. This is an excellent record. I quickly need to update my knowledge of Menche.
    I had not heard of Jack Patterson before, who was a member of Needle Gun ("Late aktionist-rock performance group based in Baltimore, MD from 2006 to 2014 with a revolving-door cast of members including but not limited to Max Eilbacher, Duncan Moore, Brian Hoegberg, Jack Patterson, Gram Hummell, and Mike Allison. Performances ranged everywhere from classic free-for-all "noise sets" to conceptual rock band to strictly theatre-based work and much in between - Discogs) and who has three previous cassette releases. Here we have a bit more information, such as the fact that he uses "recordings made at Riverside Park in New York and Rock Creek Park in DC", but I am sure there is a bit more to that, as I would think part of this is electronic; that might be the use of a modular synthesizer, laptop processing or other electronic devices. During the time he worked on this he was "reading the Daoist Zhuangzi and some Stoics", which he says may account for "detachment and inaction, as well as unspecifiable emotions" on the two pieces on this release. He mentions many layers of mixes and, oddly enough perhaps, his music does sound a bit like that of Menche's latest record. Perhaps a bit fewer instruments and a bit more electronics and certainly more field recordings; we hear the activities of animals and humans in the park, but there are quite a lot of other acoustic small sounds used and delicate electronics that he waves into the fabric of the two compositions. Patterson's music moves to way more places than Menche's that keeps it all close together. 'Inaction' depends on probably how much action you want or you are used too. There is a drone-like aspect to the music, but the horror aspect that I heard with Menche's record is not present here. This is, perhaps, a more Zen-like meditative record. The only downside, I thought, was the length of the record; thirty-one minutes is way too short. I, for one, would have loved another slice of this. (FdW)
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Here we have noise trio from France; they are Y. Botz (guitar, voice), C. Sorro (drums, metal) and F. Schall ("chant, glaire"). That last credit means mucus. I had not heard of this group before, who had an LP in 2011, a 7" in 2015 and a cassette last year. The pieces on this album were all recorded during one session, 'pas de composition, pas d'overdub', meaning no composition and no overdub. Earlier this week I was playing this record during the day when the decorator was painting and repairing outside my window and some noises he made fitted the music of Mesa Of The Lost Women, but in the end, I preferred a listen when things were quiet, on a Sunday afternoon. The group might be improvising and dispensing with the overdubs, they also love the volume of their instruments. They are a noise rock band that loves their output to be extreme. There is lots of feedback on the guitar, the singing is more akin to a long howl and the drums is the only instrument to diversify; it alternates between the steady beating of the drums or wildly lashing out. It reminds me of good ol’ power electronics but now in the hands of a rock band, which is nice for a change. Especially the singing reminded me of that, but the feedback was a good reminder too. There are more straightforward rock songs in this format, which makes up for a fine variety in the six pieces on this album. Just one long howl would have been boring, but in their approach to improvisation, they have a few tricks up their sleeve. This is the great ear cleanser on a quiet Sunday afternoon. (FdW)
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POOL PERVERT - TANK (CDR by Non-Interrupt)
MUSIC FOR A FEW PEOPLE VOLUME 3 (CDR compilation by Non-Interrupt)

Following a steady stream of releases in 2019 by Egbert van der Vliet under a plethora of names and label name changes, things went quiet. I will not speculate as to the reason why, but today there are new signs of life; a new release by Pool Pervert, Van der Vliet's recent moniker and the third compilation in a series called 'Music For A Few People'. He wrote that his 'Tank' release is the result of three months in isolation, hence the title. I must admit I lost a bit track of his musical development so far when it comes to sounds and technology, but maybe I should see this is a fresh start? And to spoil the review: what a great start it is. It is hard to say what he uses, sound-wise, but my best guess is that there is still the use of field recordings but now being subjected to heavy computer treatments, using free software, stretching out, adding reverb and delay and overall the effect is very ambient. But not of the overtly refined kind, this is the ambient music that is a bit dirty and gritty, like it was captured on an old cassette. Pool Pervert uses long versions, which he cleverly mixes with loops. Outside, the house is still being painted and in the two hours I was playing Pool Pervert, I heard the additional sound of paint being scraped off the window frame and the occasional machines used, so I cranked up the volume of Pool Pervert's music a bit and found a great balance, creating a real-life interaction of music on CDR and events. In the evening, rest restored, I played at the same volume Pool Pervert again, and enjoyed the hissy textures, deep drones, metallic clang (harbour?) and rusty chains in a slow modus. I was reminded of much of the music on the Invisible Cities label, which shares a similar aesthetic; Pool Pervert being the quiet kid in that crowd. Maybe it's time Pool Pervert spread its wings and start to look for allies outside his bubble?
    On the compilation, we find a few stable names for the label, which have tracks on previous compilations or even full-length releases on Non-Interrupt, such as Modelbau, Ian Stenhouse, Massage Creep, and Lärmschutz. Michel Nomized was on the previous instalment and somehow, somewhere, the label got hold of three Minoy tracks. The music ranges from the lo-fi ambient electronics and crackles by Modelbau and Massage Creep. On the noise level of things, we find the three pieces by Nimoy, which are heavily processed recordings of a shopping mall, deconstructed (a response to blatant consumerism?). On the opposite side, we find Michel Nomzied with a lo-fi resolution sample (Casio SK 5, I would think) and electronics resulting in a fine piece of ambient music, which is something that is also done by Ian Stenhouse (whose 'Solo Trumpet' might contain the sound of a trumpet but then massively wrung out. The oddball out is Lärmschutz, who provide the longest piece here, clocking in at some eighteen minutes. I hadn't heard something from them in a while, but they haven't lost their love for all things freely improvised on their drums, guitar and trombone/electronics, blurting and distorting their way; it's a bit long, to be honest, but maybe the climate conditions didn't help in this room today. (FdW)
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ANDREAS LUTZ - DYS (SD card by Kasuga Records)

Along with the music on the SD Card you get a bit of software called 'Dyad', which is "inspired by the concept of wave-particle duality, which states that a quantum object can have two different characteristics at the same time, the series also can be seen as an aesthetic approach for analysing the time-based mutual interactions between two seemingly separated perception forms." You can see what you hear and you can play around with the speed of the sound and the intensity of colour, so it acts as a time-stretching thing. It looks a bit like an oscilloscope. I am not sure how to change the colour scheme or if it's possible to add visual material myself. From the information, I gather some sort of similar process can be done with the sound. Play the pieces, composed by Andreas Lutz, from the SD card in 'Dyad' and you get the drift. This is some very extreme music. For people such as myself, living in old houses without much isolation, the extreme high and low frequencies produced by Lutz can cause a problem with the neighbours. Extreme high and low-end sine waves in these fourteen pieces are not easy to digest. I turned the volume quite a bit down and that took away some fun of hearing the music. It all sounded akin to the works of Pan Sonic, especially when it came to using short repeated segments (i.e. loops and rhythms), Ikeda (the high versus low end) and Alva Noto (a combination of long-form sine wave sounds and rhythms). Sometimes it all sounds very well organized but at other times a bit clumsy and naive. This is a strange one, and I am not too sure about it. Yet. (FdW)
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JEREMIAH FISHER/ANTHONY JANAS (split cassette by Reserve Matinee)

For no particular reason, I had always assumed that Panicsville was the work of one person, Andy Ortmann, but upon reading a bit about this split cassette, I learned that these two men were also part of Panicsville, a group that merged noise, plunderphonics and musique concrète. In their solo work, these two men continue with similar styled musical interests. A main portion of the Panicsville sonic make-up was the use of found sound and turntables, which in both sides of this cassette is still the main portion. The differences are in the details I would think. Jeremiah Fisher's 'Interdimensional Transitions (Building the Wall Within)' bounces all over the place; it goes as easily for very clear ambient passages into the drift of spoken word/singing voices on vinyl, into stabs of drone music and some musique concrète montage techniques; there'd very little surprise here if Fisher uses a reel-to-reel tape manipulation as being part of this. Lots of voices, synths and field recordings, I would think are spliced and diced here. On the other side, there is Anthony Janas with 'A Predilection For Sonorous Operations' (both titles sound very Nurse With Wound inspired) and the music isn't as densely orchestrated as Fischer's, with more space to breath between the sounds. All of this seems to be revolving around the use of sounds from vinyl and tapes, spliced together and it has little to do with lots of synthesizers being played. They might be there, perhaps in some modular form, but in a more servicing role to the collage/montage of found sound. It is also less based on voices, or perhaps they appear in a more abstract form (maybe thanks to the modular synthesizers?). Both sides are connected through history, the joint background of both, but also in the way, they work with their legacy and create something of their own with the similar source material, and yet manage to sound so different. This, I thought, is a great tape. (FdW)
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On the cover it says Cyanobacteria from the arabian gulf, but the website also refers to Cyanobacteria (from the arabian gulf), so I am not entirely sure what it is. What I do know is that it is a duo from Naples in Italy, Francesco Gregoretti [drums] and Renato Grieco [double bass], who recorded the music already in February 2016. As further 'information', we are told that "Cyanobacteria [from the arabian gulf] is a primordial and grotesque sound; a clumsy symbiont [sic] of feedback, strings and skins; the oppression of a feedback room as thick as the marsh where the bacterium prolific." For whatever it is worth of course. From the two players, I am more familiar with the work by Francesco Gregoretti and especially his work with Strongly Imploded, Grizzly Imploded and Oddly Imploded. I never heard of Renato Grieco and I missed the CD this duo did with Carl Ludwig Hübsch last year (but which was also recorded in 2016). This is very free improvised music, with quite a bit of noise flashing about, but which oddly doesn't seem to be exclusively about noise. Sure, there is quite a bit of feedback at times, but it can also be very acoustic and introspective. In the six pieces, these two players seem to walk a minefield, treading carefully where to go. The feedback is like landmines going off, sparking a series of events, but if there is no feedback then they move with great care through this rocky place. A bang here, a strum there, a bow to play the double bass or the cymbals, and when they feel safe enough they engage in some more conversation. It is an intense conversation between these two players, but a most rewarding as such. (FdW)
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RADIUM JAW (cassette by Invisible City Records)
ROVOX 625 - TOO CLOSE TO HOME (cassette by Invisible City Records)
MATTHEW ATKINS & PETER MARSH (cassette by Invisible City Records)
COAGULANT - REVOK (cassette by Invisible City Records)
PASTORAL ABUSE - COLD HAND OF POWER (cassette by Invisible City Records)
DEATHBIRD STORIES - TARRH (cassette by Invisible City Records)

As I write this the temperature is rapidly approaching 25degrees. There is a vague breeze. Do you know a battery-powered fan? It’s less than that. I’ve had to close the curtains as I was getting a trucker’s arm. As life outside gets hotter and brighter the mood inside the room is slightly more oppressive as I’m cracking into the latest releases from Invisible City Records (ICR).
    For six years this label based in Gateshead has put out 66 limited releases, mostly on cassette but with a few CDs thrown in for good measure. What makes ICR so delightful is that each is a world of its own and no two are alike. Each is its experimental sound work.
    Through Radium Jaw’s self-titled album, it’s hard to know what is real and what isn’t. There are times and I question whether what I’m hearing is coming from the speakers of around me. Is that noise the sound of someone labouring up the stairs or a car’s engine ticking over in the sun? The prime example of this is when the birds appear in ‘1. Praxis Magic 2. Fossy Mouth’. Straight away, I paused the album to see if what I heard was real or not. It turned out that real. At the moment no birds were singing outside. This is what ‘Radium Jaw’ does best. They create a thin line between reality and fantasy. It’s a world that feels like our own, where sounds of normalcy seep in, but it is grounded in something far darker and foreboding. The source material sounds like field recordings rather than something created. This again goes in the album's favour as it is grounded in the real world, rather than just some patches or synths manipulated to create apprehension and anxiety.
    Clive Henry, Paperboy/Little Creature/Hunting Lodge, has teamed up with long-term collaborator Lee Stokoe, Culver, Vampyres/Skullflower, to form Rovox 625. Their debut release, ‘Too Close to Home’, is 60 minutes of noisy ambient drone. From the opening, it feels like you are piercing the atmosphere of another world at thousands of miles per hour. Hurtling toward who knows what from the void of space. As ‘Too Close to Home’ continues the velocity we are travelling in starts to slow down and things start to make more sense. You can start to pick things out of the shuttle's window. Hills, plateaus, what looks like a great expanse of water in the distance, but which is probably just flaring from the atmosphere on the side of the window. ‘The Unfinished Floor’ appears to sum up what the duo was aiming for. Massive swaths of fuggy noise envelop us. Around, and through, these are tender melodies that have been manipulated to create eerie, almost skeletal, reveries that slowly draw us towards them.
    While listening to Matthew Atkins & Peter Marsh ‘s ‘Plume’ cassette I was reading ‘Pain: The Board Game’ by Sampson Starkweather. At first, the combination of glitchy drones worked incredibly well with Starkweather’s poetry, but about two songs in I realized that I wasn’t paying as much attention to the words as I had been initially. After another track, the book was sitting open on my chest, and I was just listening. A few minutes later the book was resting closed on my lap and by the end of the album, you guessed it, ‘Pain: The Board Game’ was closed and lying dormant next to me. This is now dug on Starkweather, but ‘Plume’ totally captivated me in a way I wasn’t expecting. The deep bass tones pull you in while the glitches make it hard to focus on anything by them. They get under your skin and bewitch you in. ‘Carapace’ really mesmerizes in a way you aren’t expecting. This is a fantastic album that has an unexpected charismatic pull it while being engrossing from start to finish.
    ‘Nineteenth Dynasty’ is the debut album by Romain Bertheau. Strangely, this is all you need to know about the album. As there is nothing before it, you are entering into the listening experience with no preconceived ideas. This is a great starting point as ‘Nineteenth Dynasty’ doesn’t sound like any of the previous Invisible City releases, nor the ones that follow. For 37 minutes Bertheau treats the Daldosso organ of the Saint-Martin church in Naucelle, Southern France, as a synth. This allows Bertheau to hear particular frequencies thus making it a new instrument. How this is done, I have no idea, but the results are fascinating. At times, it sounds like Nemo playing his organ on the Nautilus, but just going for it. The rich textures of sound are incredible. Listening to this at home I was blown away by the sheer scope of the sound, but live, this must have been something else. Whilst listening to ‘Leeway’ you are reminded of Early Music, the composer Ocean Floor, deep synth cuts from the 1970s and pretty much anything that features such rich, and textured sounds. The direction from Bertheau is to play at high volume. The louder you can crank it the more you hear. I tried this but when the compression from my speakers got too much I had to relent and turn it down a notch. This is a phenomenal album that is ideal to get lost in.
    After playing Coagulant’s ‘Revok’ album played it again but making sure that everything was connected properly. Luckily, it was. ‘Revok’ is an understated masterpiece. For 40 mins Coagulant moves with glacial slowness. As tones gently undulate, in and out of the mix. Some of these tones reappear whereas others never make a reappearance. This game of hide-and-seek keeps you on your toes. It stops you from drifting off and focusing on other things. Work/lunch/the searing heat you feel on your arm from the oven-like temperatures outside/responding to emails. A third of the way through ‘Coiled’ things are taken up an unexpected notch. The tension is mounted by what sounds like a slow gas leak. Behind it, the creaking of rusty doors/machinery intensifies to create a grating feeling that grows with twitchiness. But before you know it, this peak has passed, with more glacial slowness. ‘Revok’ works best when you don’t try and force it to entertain you, instead just let it do your thing while you do yours. You will suddenly realize that you have been listening to it intently as the creeping tones are doing something that piques your interest.
Pastoral Abuse lives up to its name. The ‘Cold Hand of Power’ cassette is 45 minutes of visceral power electronics. The standout track is ‘Limp’. At first its just a wall of feedback and distressed vocal samples. It’s hard to get a grasp of what is going. Like waking up in the dark in a ship's cabin in a storm you don’t know which way is up or down. The more you listen to more you start to recognize sounds. The sounds are carnal. As the electronic motifs increase in speed and frequency so do the shrieks of pleasure and delight until the climax at the end. This is pretty much all you need to know about the ‘Cold Hand of Power’. It’s broody, dense, and very, very pneumatic.
    ‘TARRH’, the new album by Deathbird Stories, builds slowly. Like most of us, it has no use in rushing about to get things over and done with quickly. And in this heat, I’m grateful for the gentle build. By the time ‘Involution III’ and ‘Frolix 8’ starts the album is in full swing. The noise of metal pipes being banged on more metal pipes is the order of the day, while harrowing synths underpin it perfectly. The tension comes in two ways. Firstly, the synths emphasize the creepy nature of the samples. There is a nightmarish quality to them. At any moment you expect a hand to reach either from the computer screen or from behind where you are sitting and drag you away to some other place where only pain and suffering lives. Secondly, you aren’t sure when the rhythmic scraping will end, so you are slightly on edge until it does. This is where the gleeful delight on ‘TARRH’ comes from, Deathbird Stories’ ability to plant you firmly on the edge of your seat and keep you there for just over half an hour. Wonderful stuff.
    What is evident after listening to these releases, or any release in the label in all fairness, is how on the money they are with that they put out. Each of these releases works perfectly as a standalone release, but when played in quick succession with the others they start to create a rich tapestry. Each one contains harrowing motifs that stay with you long after the recordings have finished, but isn’t this what you want from a label? Instead of uniformed conformity releases, where everything sounds the same/features the same samples, isn’t it more enjoyable to draw your conclusions, and connections, between the releases? (NR)
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Vital - The Complete Collection 1987-1995
Before Vital Weekly there was Vital, a Xeroxed fanzine covering experimental, electronic andelectro-acoustic music; interviews, reviews, in-depth discussion articles, background. All 44 issues in one hardcover book; 580 pages. More information: