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GINTAS K – AMNESIA (CD by Gk Rec) *
KAKOFONIKT - WYRAJ (CD by Requiem Records) *
SISSY SPACEK - CORPUS (CD by Troniks/Helicopter) *
LHD - EVEN STILL (2CD by Troniks/Helicopter) *
LHD - IN MONO (2CD by Troniks/Helicopter) *
THE CHERRY POINT - NIGHT OF THE BLOODY TAPES (CD by Troniks/Helicopter) *
DEAD BODY LOVE - LOW-FI POWER CARNAGE (CD by Troniks/Chondritic Sound) *
ORPHAX - EN DE STILSTAADE TIJD (LP by Moving Furniture Records) *
CINEMA PERDU - VLAKVERDELING (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
EMISSZATETT – PHYSIS (CD by Impakt)
SAMARA LUBELKSI – PARTIAL INFINITE SEQUENCE (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
MARLA HLADY - PLAYING PIANO (LP by Squint Press)
PRIVATE ROBOTS - POETS BARRIO TV (CD by Squint Press) *
MONIEK DARGE - BRATSCHEBRAUT (LP by Horn Of Plenty)
LITTLE SKULL - HOW WE USED TO LAUGH/HAUNTED AND DEFIANT (7" by Horn Of Plenty)
JOE HASSICK - INTERPOSE (CDR, private) *
BRUNO DUPLANT & DAVID VELEZ - SALVIA GRIS (cassette by Hemisphare Nokukyo) *
EMMANUEL MIEVILLE - SALTO DO CABRITO (cassette by Hemisphare Nokukyo) *
JARED SAGAR - SOUNX (cassette by Hemisphare Nokukyo) *
TAKAHIRO MUKAI - FUSTY STUFFY (cassettes by Mystic Timbre) *
THE WYNDHAM RESEARCH INSTITUTE - INTERIM REPORT NO. 57: IO TRANSMITTER SUB-COMMITTEE (cassettes by Mystic Timbre) *
YORISHIRO - II (cassette, private)
BALDRUIN - DIE HALLUZINIERTE WELT (cassette by Lullabies For Insomniacs) *
KONRAD STRUMPFEL & THE SET - REFRESCOSCOPIO (cassette by Music A La Coque) *
SUREN SENEVIRATNE - BLUE THIRTY-FIVE (cassette by Blue Tapes) *
GINTAS K – AMNESIA (CD by Gk Rec)
Lithuanian sound artist, composer and digital explorer Gintas K(raptavičius) has released a steady flow of works throughout the years, on labels as diverse as esc.rec, Attenuation Circuit, Bölt and Baskaru. His roaming and inquisitive ear for the new and uncharted in terms of aural or musical form has been a constant in his releases, ranging from pretty and rather hushed to densely layered and deeply immersive or even oppressive and invasive. And it all started with a boiling kettle, using an invitation for a cup of tea. Quite the way to set the sound art scene, so to speak. On Amnesia, his latest CD released on his own Gk Rec, Gintas K produces one track of close to 45 minutes of intense Warp-ish glitches, drums, noises and ambient synth washes with thick granular textures and space-age chromium melodic leads. By no means soothing, the ambiance of Amnesia is one of unease and disturbance, of jittery fragments of drum beats and nervous noise eruptions, of a place between Severed Heads, Autechre and Mark Fell, with the added bonus of an exquisite attention to aural detail, not unlike Nurse with Wound or Hafler Trio. Plus: a dash of pure power electronics, for good measure. Amnesia is a caress and a sledgehammer, all at once. A work of delicate beauty and brutal force. A piece of aural and musical construction redefining sound art, musique concrète and electronic composition all in one essentialist gesture of expertly executed noise control. And one of the best abstract works I've heard this year. (SSK)
––– Address: https://gintask.bandcamp.com/
KAKOFONIKT - WYRAJ (CD by Requiem Records)
‘Wyraj’ by KakofoNIKT is a very sacred album. Now, before you switch off and scroll down to the next review, which is well worth your time, stay with me for a moment. It is sacred in the truest definition of the word. The album’s title, ‘Wyraj’, is referencing Old Slavic mythology describing the use of entheogens. These were psychoactive substances that brought on religious experiences. The whole album is a hypnotic, psychedelic, workout.
Glorious chanting, junk percussion, soaring horns and an underlying feeling or repentance are a few things you experience while listening to ‘Wyraj’. As the album progresses, especially during ‘Lulek’, you can hear the fervour in the choir. As the music whips tighter and tighter the congregation’s frenzy gets more and more pronounced until they reach a heightened crescendo, and then breathlessly disappear. The whole track feels like the creative goal of what KakofoNIKT were trying to achieve.
It is the kind of album that really gets under your skin. From the horns on ’Sporysz’ to the percussion on ‘Dronologia’ and the bass on ‘Lysiczka’, ‘Wyraj’ just hammers your senses. When it works best is during sections like the final third of ‘Muchomor’. Everything just comes together. The playing, and singing, are incredibly intense, but there is space for everything to breathe. And this is what ‘Wyraj’ does best. Instead of trying to make the album as dense as possible KakofoNIKT give themselves, and the listener, room to breathe. To move about through the music and to try and come up with your own meanings, rather than being overwhelmed into confusion. ‘Wyraj’ works best when you go with it unquestioning, rather than trying to dissect every moment in real-time. (NR)
––– Address: https://requiem-records.com/pl/main
SISSY SPACEK - CORPUS (CD by Troniks/Helicopter)
LHD - EVEN STILL (2CD by Troniks/Helicopter)
LHD - IN MONO (2CD by Troniks/Helicopter)
THE CHERRY POINT - NIGHT OF THE BLOODY TAPES (CD by Troniks/Helicopter)
DEAD BODY LOVE - LOW-FI POWER CARNAGE (CD by Troniks/Chondritic Sound)
Phil Blankenship’s Troniks label is rightly credited as being the 00’s most significant gateway into noise music for a generation of new listeners, similar to what RRRecords did for people like me in the 80s/90s. The success of Troniks was due, in large part, to Blankenship’s decision to publish CDs in very large editions so that titles could remain available for a very long time and sell for quite cheap. Thanks to his label, curious listeners could access noise by underground heroes like Skin Crime, Sewer Election, The Rita and Gruntsplatter as well as relative newcomers like 16 Bitch Pile-Up, Tourette, Oscillating Innards etc without taking an expensive gamble. And it worked! So many people had their first taste of harsh noise by buying a stack of discs from Troniks and absorbing music that might have otherwise languished on obscure small-run CDRs or tapes in the collections of already-converted maniacs. After a several-years pause during which Blankenship established himself as an expert on exploitation and horror cinema, he’s back in the game with another vigorous publishing schedule. I reviewed two Troniks titles just a couple of weeks ago. This new stack contains one new album, one new collection of OOP material and a few necessary reissues.
Let’s deal with the new title first: Sissy Spacek is the long-running all-purpose band of John Weise and Charlie Mumma, frequently with guests sitting in. Weise’s aesthetic seems to be defined by merciless editing. He’ll take duo or group noise jams and pare them down to the smallest amount of sound necessary to make his point. Sometimes, that means a track lasts for just a few seconds as in grindcore or noisecore blurt. There’s no fat left, no evidence of musicians searching or exploring until they find the sweet spot… all a listener gets is the white-hot core of a track’s idea, then the band quickly moves on to the next one. Sissy Spacek’s “Corpus” is a collection of shorter collaborations with a host of people, and sounds to me like a series of EPs run back-to-back. The first batch of six tracks, collectively titled “Peak Everything”, features Wiese and Mumma joined by Phil Blankenship as The Cherry Point… in the noisecore spirit, all the tracks combined last for around seven minutes. One of them is just 11 seconds long! As you might expect, these are a series of convulsive jolts and dense feedback-piercing roars. They’re followed immediately by a quick double-trio meeting of the “Peak Everything” crew with sax player Martin Escalante, drummer Ted Byrnes, and long-time Wiese collaborator C. Spencer Yeh… it sounds like being trapped inside a trash bag full of broken glass in the trunk of a Ferrari racing down the Autobahn. I guess I can hear some reeds in the high tones? Maybe? But it’s a full-bore squall, not much-added colour from the additional instruments/players as far as I can tell. After that is a pair of two-minute collaborations with Wasteland Jazz Unit (again, the instruments are subsumed by a group noise sound), bookending a much longer stretch called “Comic Mirror”, credited to Weise and Mumma plus Sean and Richard Ramirez-Matzus of Black Leather Jesus. Despite the previous tracks’ inclusion of players from a free-improv/jazz lineage, this track with the Ramirez-Matzuses is where the album’s non-noise ingredients (namely free-jazz-to-blast-beat drums and grindcore vocals) first become legible. It’s a party of animalistic screeching horror, really a lot of fun. Typically, the signifiers of noisecore portend extremely short songs, so, ironically, this is by far the longest song on the album. I was grateful that this excellent track was allowed to play out for nearly 16 minutes, during which the band keeps up the high level of energy for the duration... in fact, "Comic Mirror" might have merited its own separate album. I hope the fruitful SS/BLJ collaboration continues. Next is “Disintegrating”, a two-minute workout that brings back the “Peak Everything” trio and adds drummer Ted Byrnes and Sarah Bernat of 16 Bitch Pile-Up. Synthesizer bloops add some new colour to this torrential blurgh. The home stretch of ten tracks is called “Konkret”. This entire 10-part suite lasts around five minutes total and finds Weise and Lasse Marhaug creating micro-blurts of edit-heavy collage using Sissy Spacek as source material. It's the most varied stretch on “Corpus”, capping off the album with lots of stereo-separated action, dramatic pauses and more textural variety than what came before it.
“Night of the Bloody Tapes” is the best and most representative album by The Cherry Point, aka Phil Blankenship on his own. Compiled from three years’ worth of short-run cassette releases, “Night of the Bloody Tapes” consists of four tracks of gargantuan noise, each around ten minutes long. But whereas Wiese’s sound is all about surgical editing, Blankenship goes for overpowering textural blowout and emotion. As massive and dense as this album is, it doesn’t come across as an assault so much as soaring psychedelic atmosphere. One can make out peals of feedback and ultra-deep depth charges of low end within the squall, but something is engaging and ecstatic at work here. I’m reminded of CCCC or Skin Crime at their prime; a vertical sound, a pool to dive into rather than pummeling aggression to endure. It’s also not exactly “wall noise”, though it is magnificently thick… there is movement beneath the grating surface, competing and/or complementary static howl, emphatic punctuation, even the occasional warm tones that rise from the din and accent moments or pull things together before the next volley.
LHD was the inevitable duo of Weise and Blankenship. Much like 70s Steely Dan, LHD was a studio-only band that only existed for a few years but left behind a solid and influential catalogue in just a handful of records. All of LHD’s vinyl-only releases were compiled onto a double-disc set called “Even Still” in 2012. That set has just been reissued along with another double-disc set called “In Mono” which compiles their four CDs in one handy package. Either set on its own is a lot to handle, even for harsh noise fans. It’s fitting that the format they issued their work on most frequently was the seven-inch single. Noise this relentless and fierce is, for me, very effective in self-contained five-minute bursts. You put the record on, brace yourself for a scorching that abruptly ends in five minutes… then take a breath and flip it over for another helping. The format and the action it takes for a listener to play it seems to compliment music this compact. “Even Still”’s first disc bangs all of LHD’s 7” tracks right up next to one another without pause, which substantially alters the effect of encountering each track on wax. Instead of a contained explosion, we get a continuous blast of ceaseless sandblasting aggression. LHD’s sound on these singles was monolithic and nearly featureless. Within the squall, I can barely discern voices (“Fascination” and the four-part “Normandie” seems to contain buried grunts and yowls), machine grind wallowing in low-frequency ugh (“Veiled”), careening feedback (the relatively dynamic “Hands of the Priestess”), and empty-aeroplane-hangar ambient burl (“Hotel Fire”). The second disc contains all of their work that appeared on LP, starting with the parched howl of “Triple Void” and ending with tracks that extend from 15 to almost 20 minutes. I still prefer each unit separately, but it’s fascinating to hear how cohesive it sounds when taken all together. As far as I can tell, the “In Mono” set is actually in stereo. Maybe someone can explain the title to me. This 2CD compilation contains three LHD albums on the first disc and their longest album, “Limbs of the Fawn”, on the second. The tracks are still as taut and tense as the material on "Even Still", all loose material discarded so that what remains is a pure fire in constant deflagration. The first album, “Curtains”, contains five tracks ranging from one to six minutes each. It’s a tumbling, churning sound, a raw ball of energy. “Young and Restless” begins with a passage of uncharacteristic synthesizer circuit-twist before bursting with a rapid alternation of colours/densities. There’s a lot of juxtaposition here, and more variation than typically heard on LHD’s palette. “Opaque” finishes the disc with three longer cuts, showing what happens when LHD starts to stretch out. The entire second disc is devoted to “Limbs of the Fawn”, a single thirty-six-minute piece of single-minded tangle. The energy remains, but it smoulders rather than attacks.
“Low Fi Power Carnage” is the third iteration of Italian degenerate Gabriele Giuliani’s 1995 album as Dead Body Love. It first came out as a cassette on Old Europe Cafe, was reissued on CD by Troniks and Sam “The Rita” McKinlay’s Militant Walls label in 2007 and is now reissued one more time for a new generation to… um, “enjoy”. It is very different from the full-throated punk explosion of Sissy Spacek or the blistering textures of The Cherry Point or LHD. Dead Body Love doesn’t create noise assaults… instead, they establish degraded-sounding dirges that wallow in filth. This is the audio equivalent of stagnant water in a basement. Noxious lumps of feedback roil in the sonic muck, stubbornly refusing to gain momentum or add depth. Even a vocoder(?)-effected glurping voice doesn’t make this stuff sound any less dismal. The first track, “Terror Is a Weapon”, is half an hour of interminable junk-sick slime, thoroughly negative and joyless. If you enjoy noise that makes you feel bad, this is it… reminds me of early Maurizio Bianchi, but more hopeless. The next track is called “Random Destruction”, but it doesn’t really seem to be able to destroy anything… it’s another low-pitched ugly oscillation with some rotten food scraps shovelled on top. Giuliani's growling voice gives the impression of someone talking to himself, rambling rather than communicating. The third track, “Peace Sucks, Let’s Kill”, sounds closest to other noise music, in that it at least has some energy enough to stand up and wobble around on weak little legs. Finally, “Thoughts of Revenge” returns to impotent bitter zero-momentum slime again. It’s no surprise that this album is on its third life; it’s an unsettling and unique atmosphere, debased in the best way. (HS)
––– Address: http://www.iheartnoise.com/
ORPHAX - EN DE STILSTAADE TIJD (LP by Moving Furniture Records)
CINEMA PERDU - VLAKVERDELING (CD by Moving Furniture Records)
Two new titles from Moving Furniture, the first of which is by Sietse van Erve, who runs the label and records music as Orphax. His latest LP, “Ende Stilstaade Tijd”, is as crisp and clear as an autumn morning. It was inspired in part by an old photograph of a rural Spanish village, from which van Erve gets a sense of tranquillity and - in his words - “time standing still”. Processed piano or organ-like drones glide along in two extended volleys, shifting density almost imperceptibly to appear lulling at some moments and gently discordant at others. The sound is round and full, trimmed of ambience so that the pristine tones exist in otherwise empty space. You might think of this as drone music, but that’s too simple a description… there is constant hands-on motion within each side, just at a micro-level… so listeners expecting ambient background snooze may find themselves drawn into Orphax’s ebbing thrum. I was captivated from the moment I hit “play”. Van Erve’s sounds are so rich and deep, I stopped what I was doing and just sunk into them for the duration. The title refers to frozen time, or stillness, and is a continuation of similarly time-focused music he’s created in recent years. Eliane Radigue is the most obvious reference point, but it’s fitting; after all, he started a Moving Furniture sub-label called Eliane Tapes, so certainly the great composer had an influence. This album has a confident clarity to it, probably the best Orphax I’ve heard so far.
Cinema Perdu’s Martijn Pieck was also inspired by landscape to create his “Vlakverdeling” album. Whereas Orphax translates a mood from viewing the landscape from a temporal distance, Pieck composed his sombre sounds out of contemporary recordings made in the northern Dutch province of Friesland. Pieck, a member of the dark-ambient band the [Law-Rah] Collective, is a multi-disciplinary artist whose solo work is often based around field recordings… but not in a documentary way as Chris Watson or Justin Bennett might do. Pieck’s work as Cinema Perdu is very subjective and processed, with only hints of the source sound appearing to ground the found sounds in real locations. “Vlakverdeling” has the cadence of an ambient album, a single long track with distinct sections and jarring edits that lead listeners from oceanic burbling to passages of industrial menace, faraway hum and hiss and the percolating taps of precipitation. The music doesn’t necessarily build towards a crescendo, instead of presenting several related acoustic spaces in a way that implies a narrative. Interludes of stately piano bridge maintain a generally mournful atmosphere. (HS)
––– Address: https://movingfurniturerecords.bandcamp.com/
EMISSZATETT – PHYSIS (CD by Impakt)
Emisszatett is a quintet led by Elisabeth Coudoux (cello) with Matthias Muche (trombone), Robert Landfermann (bass), Philip Zoubek (prepared piano) and Etienne Nillesen (extended snare drums, cymbals). Coudoux studied at Cologne University and graduated with a jazz degree studying with Frank Gratkowski and Dieter Manderscheid. She works in the contexts of improvisation, experimental and new music: Zeitkratzer, The Octopus, Scott Fields String Feartet, are a few of her collaborations. Still based in Cologne she is member of IMPAKT, a local collective of improvisers who run their own label. I think this is the first time we review a release by this small label that documents projects of local improvisers like Leonhard Huhn, Carl-Ludwig Hübsch, Stefan Schönegg, Nicola Hein, Muche, a.o. Back to Emisszatett. In the same line up as above mentioned they debuted in 2015 with the album ‘Qui Pro Quo Dis’ for Schraum. With ‘Physis’ they present nine new pieces of music. Three of them are composed by Coudoux, the others resulted from group improvisation. The cd opens with the title track, one of the three compositions. It unfolds like a very condensed stream of sounds built from diverse repeated, cyclic patterns played by the performers. Near the end of this tohoewabohoe Muche concludes with a poignant trombone solo. In contrast ‘Golden Hurry’ is an interplay of another kind. Fragile and detailed with, communicative interplay near the end. ‘Vineyard Snail’ creates a fascinating mysterious atmosphere, built from short gestures close to silence with great sounds by the prepared piano. ‘Get Stuck’ starts very dynamic and creates strange and deep horizons. ‘Meadow of 1996’ is very funny and intriguing, built from cyclic patterns with changing accents and intervals. ‘Innate Forest’ has a swing and moves along very viable, with engaging interplay and some noisy phases. The imaginative piece ‘These Meadows with Lint’ I experienced as a close up of sounds produced by insects. And so I could go on. Each improvisation starts from a different angle what makes this a very attractive album of very contrasting chamber music. Whether composed or improvised the wayward structures they create are transparent and have a clear focus. The interplay is very together. As if they are operating like one organism. Altogether a totally rewarding and stunning album. (DM)
––– Address: https://www.impakt-koeln.de/
SAMARA LUBELKSI – PARTIAL INFINITE SEQUENCE (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
Lubelski is a singer, violinist, guitarist and bassist from New York, where she grew up in an artistic community in Soho. Over the years she developed into a multi-instrumentalist playing many more instruments. She was a member of numerous bands like Of a Mesh, Metabolismus, Salmon Skin, Hall of Fame, the Tower Recordings. And worked with Thurston Moore, God Is My Co-Pilot, Jackie-O Motherfucker. Since 2003 she released about nine solo-albums. I know only one earlier work. An album she produced with Bill Nace, released by Relative Pitch in 2018. For this new solo effort by Lubelski, Nace contributed with the artwork and parallel to this cd-release, Bill Nace released a limited vinyl edition on his Open Mouth label. The CD features two extensive solo improvisations with Lubelski playing the violin only. She practices long-form improvisation. Both lengthy improvisations continue in one constant flow of more or less same speed and intensity, using a limited set of techniques. Although working from a minimalistic view, the music varies constantly in some obsessive way without a pause or moment of rest. This way she maximizes a psychedelic effect of her noisy drones. She creates a trip that continues like a restless stream of vibrating sound, performed without over-acting. With proportionate movements and gestures, she keeps the music tense and concentrated from start to finish. Although she plays just violin, the sound seems a bit treated or manipulated, giving the music its noisy character and specific colour. Exciting work! Recorded at Sumsilobatem in Degenfeld, Germany. (DM)
––– Address: http://www.relativepitchrecords.com/
MARLA HLADY - PLAYING PIANO (LP by Squint Press)
PRIVATE ROBOTS - POETS BARRIO TV (CD by Squint Press)
But who's playing the piano here? That is the question, or rather 'what?'. Squint press, run by Christof Migone, is known for some pretty odd music releases and this one fits perfectly well. Marla Hlady is more of a visual artist who creates, among other things, kinetic sculptures and this record is all about the player piano, which is a " is a self-playing piano, containing a pneumatic or electro-mechanical mechanism that operates the piano action via programmed music recorded on perforated paper, or in rare instances, metallic rolls, with more modern implementations using MIDI." (I am sure I shared this wiki quote before). Hlady has a partially deconstructed player piano which is "a fully mechanized 1920’s player piano, animated by a motor and pneumatics (as opposed to being played by a person). A perforated paper roll, the physical translation of the musical score, controls the mechanized elements. The preparations to Playing Piano include various machines which strum and press a pie plate against the strings, whistle using the air of the pneumatics and amplify various parts of the piano’s mechanics. An array of sensors placed on the strings in conjunction with a computer and a series of microprocessors, enables the player piano to control these preparations." That is a long quote but that gives the best idea of what it is. The result is great, I think. It is mechanical music, and sure, there is some repetition in here, but it's not some industrial machine hammering. The piano roll is highly melodic, a bit sad and melancholic, I would think, and throughout both pieces (one per side) there is a very warm musical element to the music, and around swirls these machine interventions. Not altogether, not all the time, but one by one, the hammer falls, the strings are touched upon and all sorts of other sounds occur with irregular intervals. Not always installation pieces translate very well to vinyl (CD etc.), but in this case, it most certainly does. The two compositions are alike, but also have their differences; they both play out in slow majestic gestures, like a marches funebres for the machine age.
The other new release is by Private Robots a duo of Julianon Pivato and Seb Roberts, both of whom I had not heard of before. The first is a musician and visual artist and this is her first release, whereas Roberts has been an improviser and recording engineer. They started to work together as a "resistance to credible musicianship: two nodes in a network sending noise to signal. Sharing an acute sense of the irrational (touched by technophobia), improvisations of failed New Wave anthems and dubby deconstructions of danceable indie-pop are what remain". Their instruments are minimal; a few electronics (echo, reverb, the usual ingredients of dub), drum machine, voice (by Pivato, I assume) and some rumbling/touching upon objects. The label makes these references, "Throbbing Gristle covering Fairport Convention as The Flying Lizards", which eludes me. A lot of this is doodling around the drum machine with a microphone and some effect pedals, without much coherency, and that is probably the point of it all. The non-musicianship as it's concept and maybe do a bit of fun with that. I am not sure if that is really the intention. Either way, I wasn't that much filled with joy when I heard it. (FdW)
––– Address: https://squint.press/
MONIEK DARGE - BRATSCHEBRAUT (LP by Horn Of Plenty)
LITTLE SKULL - HOW WE USED TO LAUGH/HAUNTED AND DEFIANT (7" by Horn Of Plenty)
Two years after the initial release by Horn Of Plenty (see Vital Weekly 1155), there are now two new releases. The first is by Moniek Darge from Belgium. Born in 1952 and since 1971 member of the Logos Foundation in Gent, Belgium, a well-known place for new music. Darge is a composer and performer, best known for the violin. Together with Godfried-Willem Raes, she is the Logos Duo; they released one LP in 1984. Darge is busier with solo releases, but even then: not a lot. About a dozen since 1987. It is not a name you will find in Vital Weekly, and I must admit this might be also my introduction to her solo work. The four pieces on this LP are from 1981, 1984, 1986, and 1988-89 and all of them involve the violin, but there is also voice, violin synthesizer, taped sounds and on 'Manmo 2', the live clarinet played by Raes (making this a piece by the Logos Du, rather than Darge solo). The information tells me that originally these pieces weren't supposed to be together on a record, but time, I guess, changes everything. This is some radical music I must say. It sounds improvised, taking cues from graphic scores (there is a neat booklet that details each of these pieces, along with photos from all periods of her life) and is not easy to access. The first time I played it, I switched off after hearing one side. I was not ready for it, but I tried again, keeping in mind to try and access it differently and that worked. The music is quite intense, without being noisy. There are lots of small bending on the violin, scraping and twisting the snares, which no doubt will come across as dissonant to the untrained ear, but in each of these pieces, there is something delightfully minimal going on. In all its acoustic approach (except for 'Dark Waves', with its violin synthesizer, which makes a fine difference), which is small and close to the microphone, the repetitions won't lie but there is nothing done to cover for mistakes, for mistakes do not exist in this form of action music. It's raw, intense, private and quiet. This might be the sort of thing to hear in concert, but this record does a great job. If you never heard of Darge me (like me), then let this be a fine introduction.
Little Skill is the musical project of Dean Brown, who has a bunch of releases on Students Of Decay, Elica, Planam and a bunch of self-released lathe cut 7"s. I don't think I heard any of this. Horn Of Plenty confesses that they thought Little Skull hailed from New Zealand and hearing these two tracks (and at 45rpm, I must add that these are quite short tracks), I can see why someone would think so. He plays the guitar, there are some effects and the whole thing is caught with a considerable amount of hiss; a warm layer of that I might, as it adds to the mysterious character of the music, especially on 'Haunted And Defiant', with its fine guitar tinkling and subtle drones swirling in from above and beyond. On 'How We Used To Laugh', Brown strums away and there might be some sort of tone generator, along with voices from the aether and that makes this also obscure, but something great. As said, way too short; I would not have minded this to be a 33 rpm 7" and two tracks per side. The cover is quite spectacular: a hand made carton box and inside a diorama pop card sort of thing, which looks like woodcuts. I would think these are a nightmare to manufacture, so that's why there are only 100 made. (FdW)
––– Address: <email@example.com>
JOE HASSICK - INTERPOSE (CDR, private)
2020 is shaping up to be a good year for Joe Hassick. So far, he released the ‘Pragmatics’ EP, remixed ‘Daughter’ by Daughters that almost eclipses the original, and now he’s released a proper follow-up album to 2018’s ‘Alchemy’. His new album is called ‘Interpose’. Despite consisting of 14 tracks ‘Interpose’ is a taught 25 minutes into the psyche of a composer, and producer, who knows what they want and how to achieve them.
‘See Yourself Out’ is the standout moment of the album. It epitomises everything that Hassick has been trying to achieve all album. From the beginning of the album, Hassick has been trying to find the right balance between memorable melodies and destructive noise. Some were too short, some didn’t have enough going on or the ideas weren’t fully formed, but ‘See Yourself Out’ gets everything right and really lifts the album because of it. Opening with ethereal and a growing wail of feedback it gives you a false sense of security. You think you know how things will pan out. You expect the pleasant vibes to continue throughout. But they don’t. Instead, Hassick keeps things sedate until the final third when he gracefully allows things to start to spiral out of control until a wall of feedback engulfs the senses.
‘Interpose’ is one of the most vibrant, and gut-wrenching, albums this year. Or any year for that matter. Each listen peels another layer away, beneath which is another layer of abrasive and abstract music. At its core ‘Interpose’ is a dreamy paranoid fair. Made of a collection of tape loops, synths and samples that have been layered in a way that creates lurid landscapes. Through this topography Hassick expertly intertwines motifs of bass culture, deep drones, skittering percussion expertly. (NR)
––– Address: https://joehassick.bandcamp.com/album/interpose
BRUNO DUPLANT & DAVID VELEZ - SALVIA GRIS (cassette by Hemisphare Nokukyo)
EMMANUEL MIEVILLE - SALTO DO CABRITO (cassette by Hemisphare Nokukyo)
JARED SAGAR - SOUNX (cassette by Hemisphare Nokukyo)
Here we have three new releases by Hemisphare Nokukyo from Australia and these three are different excursions into the world of field recordings. The first is a long-distance collaboration between Parijs (Bruno Duplant) and Colombia (David Velez) and it comes with a quote from "The teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castañeda". Like so often with releases of this kind of nature, it is not easy to say what these field recordings are; at best I would try for "street sounds" and "nature", hearing both cars, fans and birds. Whatever kind of processing is applied and the compositional approach is taken, is also not easy to say. It could all be very analogue, or very digital; from taped to (t)rusty cassettes and Dictaphones to computer processing. One thing is clear: it is put together by making sure that most times you will hear a lot of sounds interacting with each other. It is never quiet and there is always something buzzing and flicking around, crackling, droning, sparkling. The second side reminded me of the rain forest (or at least, my idea of it), with crickets, birds and delicate feedback sounds, whereas in the first there is a more urban feel. I might be wrong, as always. I did enjoy the more conceptual approach this had (even when I am not entirely sure what the approach is) and how it worked out: just another fine release with field recordings that sounded considerable lo-fi (but maybe it is not lo-fi at all)
The shortest release is the twenty-two minutes by Emmanuel Mieville. His work I reviewed before. All we know about this new release is this "France and Azores Islands, Portugal / 2017 to 2018". I'd be very curious to know what he recorded in these countries. Remember I wrote some time ago about the front of the house being painted? Some sounds Mieville captured for this release are in close resemblance of that paint job. In his compositional approach he follows the lines of Duplant & Velez, which is to layer a bunch of sounds on the computer and via slow changes in the different volumes of these sounds, he creates quite a dense pattern of sound, yet one that is also changing quite a bit; there is a fine flow in these sounds. At times, it sounds like a heavily amplified birdcage, as machines at work, a distorted radio and a walk down the street. Just as Duplant/Velez cassette, this one for all you people who like their field recordings to sound as if they were recorded on dirty old cassettes. A bit too short, this one.
And the last new one if from Jared Sagar I only heard his album 'Holme' for Unfathomless (see Vital Weekly 1085), which I enjoyed but no big surprise. Here too, the description is at best be called 'brief: "Arranged from new and recycled material / Norwich, Norfolk, UK / 2017 to 2018". Field recordings are no doubt the main ingredient of this recycling and Sagar does that to such an extent that I didn't recognize anything. Also, with regard, to techniques or apparatus, I have no idea what Sagar is doing here. There is one big difference with the two other new releases by this label and that is that the others deal with long and ongoing dense patterns of sound that slowly change over time. Sagar goes out for the more cut-up style approach. There are a few continuous sounds, processing of a creek, wind, or bird, and within such a section there might be minor changes, but when it ends, it ends abruptly and then something new starts, something entirely new; each section is about 2-3 minutes, so it's not a rapid succession of fragments. At times, you could easily think Safar stuck some random pieces of tape together, but upon closer inspection that is not the case; there is some coherency in this. There are four pieces on this cassettes, but as easily this could have been 30 different tracks or so. All in all quite a surprise. (FdW)
––– Address: https://hemispharenokukyo.bandcamp.com/
TAKAHIRO MUKAI - FUSTY STUFFY (cassettes by Mystic Timbre)
THE WYNDHAM RESEARCH INSTITUTE - INTERIM REPORT NO. 57: IO TRANSMITTER SUB-COMMITTEE (cassettes by Mystic Timbre)
Receiving these two cassettes is further proof that the world of independent cassettes is much, much bigger than what I see daily. A quick at the label's Bandcamp page learned me a bunch of new names, Exquisite Ghost, Seikai, Frostower, Bigcats, Apoxupon and many of these having various releases on the label. By my not so thorough investigation, I think Takahiro Mukai is the only name I know from the lot. 'Fusty Stuffy' is a bit of a silly title, I thought, but seeing this is his 50th release, it might not be easy to come with something good. Luckily his track titles are just numbers, which, so I assume, reflect the number of pieces he did so far. He's now up to #447 to #453. I heard a few of his releases, which I enjoyed quite a bit. The music is, so the story goes, all improvised and uses a rhythm machine and electronics. I'm still not sure what these electronics are, but I assume something you can control with the tips of your fingers (kaos pads for instance. In the past, I called Mukai's work the lost connection between Cabaret Voltaire (in their formative years) and Pan Sonic and Goem. His beats aren't stomping in a strict 4/4 measure and I guess this won't go down too easy on a dance floor. Mukai's music has a more fluid character, which is what makes for me the connection with Cabaret Voltaire but now in a slightly more minimal approach. From the five or six releases I heard from him, it seems that his approach is clear and so far not a lot of radical changes are to be found in his sound.
The Wyndham Research Institute has two releases, according to Discogs and according to the cover, the music was "written/recorded/produced by J.G. Sparks and <1. It says for the first "Swedish noise orchestrator and co-founder of the Wyndham research institute" and the other "UK based field recordings/dark ambient etc artist/project". I gather this is then music by mail project, but maybe they get together and do the recordings in a shared space. They, too, have seven pieces of a more delicate nature in which noise meets ambient. I have no idea as to the instruments used on these pieces, but I would think field recordings, some sort of electronics in the form of modular electronics and then mostly like a guitar here and there, left and right, especially in a piece such as 'Note II'. Sometimes the electronics sound as if they were recorded down in a basement on a cassette, and at other times it is surprisingly more hi-fi. I quite enjoyed the mixture of that as it brought out something naive about these recordings. They hit all the right buttons for me; droney, gritty, lo-fi, ambient, noisy, and variation. The Wyndham Research Institute sounds like so many others in their musical field, but at the same time have a pleasant playfulness I enjoyed a lot and which made them stand out. (FdW)
––– Address: https://mystictimbre.bandcamp.com/
YORISHIRO - II (cassette, private)
This is my introduction to the music of Yorishiro, also known as Dan, from Murcia, Spain. According to Wikipedia "A Yorishiro in Shinto terminology, is an object capable of attracting spirits called kami, thus giving them a physical space to occupy during religious ceremonies. Yorishiro are used during ceremonies to call the kami for worship. The word itself literally means approach substitute." There is no information on the cover of this cassette, but on Bandcamp it tells us that we have "Loops recorded in New Zealand, Australia and Spain. Pieces recorded and mixed in Spain" and it all "meditates on life in a semi-fictitious village of Japan where agrarian condition is haunted by nature and myth" with all five "follow the cycle of rice cultivation, observing its inextricable connection to mythology and guiding the listener deeper into the rice field and the oscillating fate of the harvest." As for instruments, I would think there is field recordings, a guitar, some stompboxes, and a rhythm machine. Maybe you would gather from all of this, that this is something carefully droning music but that it is not. At times, it is careful, but the guitar cracks open pretty wild at times and so does the rhythm, at times. There are moments when Yorishiro rocks like a band, but then he cuts down and let the field recordings and electronics speak up and hear the machines at work on the land, such as in 'Tanbo No Fukaku Ni', with its breezy character and far away the guitar, making it sound very mysterious, or the very repetitive slow drone/strum of 'Passing Of Typhoon', but also with more rocky passages in the other songs makes this a very varied album, one that works quite well. (FdW)
––– Address: https://yorishiro.bandcamp.com/
BALDRUIN - DIE HALLUZINIERTE WELT (cassette by Lullabies For Insomniacs)
Johannes Schebler, also known as Baldruin, returns with a tape that is rather a fine surprise. Just this afternoon I had a conversation about cosmic music is so much alive in the past decade and then I started to hear this again, and I was thinking that this is sort of cosmic thing that works really well, except there is something peculiar about this release. There are no less than twenty-six pieces on this tape and the longest is one minute and forty-five seconds, the shortest thirty-four seconds. And it is not even a soundtrack release, I thought. Whatever the reason might have been to record these sketches, it works well. At times, but not all the times. There are various pieces that I would have loved to see going on for a bit longer; what now sounds like a gentle attempt at a new song, but you feel could be worked out into a great song. And others are perhaps long enough. A sweet tinkle, a careful notion and that's it, and that's perfectly well. Baldruin plays a lot of keyboards, gentle, sustaining, uplifting the mood or trying to sadden it, along with field recordings and percussive samples. There is a slightly tiring thing occurring halfway through and that is that as you can never slip into a particular mood, you have a hard reset every time. That is a pity. Baldruin surely has a lot of great ideas but maybe also too many and it needs some more structuring. Maybe his other work has that? Time to investigate some more! (FdW)
––– Address: https://baldruin.bandcamp.com/
KONRAD STRUMPFEL & THE SET - REFRESCOSCOPIO (cassette by Music A La Coque)
Italy's Musique A La Coque specializes in re-issuing music with a strong focus on stranger outings from the world no wave, no folk, free jazz, free improvisation and such like, and as such have a solid unique position (well, that goes to say, from my perspective). A lot of the bands they find in archives are unknown to me. Konrad Strumpfel & The Set, for instance, is such a band, consisting of one Konrad Strumpfel, born in the first half of the 70s n Bavaria, who started with keyboards and synthesizers when in high school. His first musical pieces end up in Czechoslovakia (when that was still one country) with Herbert Lukundra and Josif Afkak. This was in 1988 and the three worked together (how old was Strumpfel then, I wondered? 13, 14?), I assume by sending cassettes back and forth, which wasn't easy in the days of the Cold War. The result, in which The Set added voices and percussion, never reached Strumpfel and now this lost recording is released. A short tape, clocking in at some seventeen minutes, with fourteen short pieces, all-around one minute. There is a great naive quality to this music, reminding me of Der Plan and The Residents, that very early Holger Hiller/Thomas Fehlmann cassette. The voices have a children-like quality and the percussion lie on a table and gets banged upon. Coupled with the keyboards by Strumpfel, chaotic, controlled, stabbing, melodic, mildly distorted with tapes spun backwards (on all the sources at any time in these pieces) and with the short period, it all adds to punky energy of the music. It is funny, strange, wild, raw and mellow and as such the perfect addition to the catalogue of this label. (FdW)
––– Address: https://musicalacoque.bandcamp.com/
SUREN SENEVIRATNE - BLUE THIRTY-FIVE (cassette by Blue Tapes)
It seems that Suren Seneviratne is better known as "outsider house don My Panda Shall Fly", but I had not heard of either. Here he has a tape of "circuit-bent MIDI piano sketches"; I have no idea how that works, even he explains, "These recordings came about from experiments exploring DIY methods for unpredictable methods of composition. Using the Korg SQ1 sequencer and Yamaha MU-15 tone generator that I was circuit-bending in real-time". I understood the part that it was all done in one take. The result is surely a strange one. The digital piano sound is thin and throughout their many glitches, giving odd twists and turns to the music. There is a machine-like quality to the music, but with serious defects in the mechanics. A notable exception is 'MU15_SQ1_Minor_1-8V Sustain', which is a more a drone-based ditty, which I enjoyed for its difference to the rest the material, which I thought was only half convincing. The album is brief, some twenty or so minutes and as a concept, broken up MIDI files, it worked and it seemed long enough, but maybe it just wasn't my cupper today. The naivety can be stretched out too far, perhaps? (FdW)
––– Address: https://bluetapes.bandcamp.com/