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THOMAS DIMUZIO - BALANCE (3CD by Gench) *
THOMAS DIMUZIO - SLEW TEW (CDR by Gench) *
GABRIELE HASLER - HERDEN UND ANDERE BUESCHEL (CD by Laika Records)
DANIELLE BUONAIUTO - MARFA SONGS (CD by Starkland) *
COLLAGE PROJECT – OFF BRAND (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
JACOB WICK & BRAD HENKEL – LOVELY BAG YOU HAVE(CD by Relative Pitch Records)
THE BELLOWING EARWIGS - THE PERPENDICULAR GIRAFFE COMPARTMENT (CD by FMR Records) *
GOUVEA &NORTHOVER & MATTOS - CAJULA (CD by FMR Records) *
THE CHEMICAL EXPANSION LEAGUE - GRAPPLING WITH THE ORANGE PORPOISE (CD by Creative Sources Records) *
JEAN-JACQUES DUERINECKX/ADRIAN NORTHOVER - HEAROGLYPHICS (CD by Setola Di Maiale) *
KORDIK & LUCAS & PREVOST - HIGH LAVER REFLECTIONS (CD by Earshots/Matchless) *
AB INTRA - HENOSIS VI-XI (CD by Zoharum) *
NOR_POL - CONSTRUCTION (CD by Zoharum) *
SHAME - WHITE MAN (CD by Cacophonous Revival Recordings) *
THIRTEEN HURTS - CHEMTRAILS (CDR by No Part Of It) *
ARSENIJE JOVANOVIC - LA PARATTA (CD by Bolt Records) *
MGLA ZDAJE SIE PRZYCHODZIC Z ZEWNATRZ (CD by Bolt Records) *
PIOTR STASIK & ARTUR ZAGAJEWSKI - OPERA ABOUT POLAND (DVD by Bolt Records)
ANT ORANGE - YOU'RE SUPER IN DIAGONAL (CD by Karaoke Kalk) *
THE SODALITY OF THE SHADOWS - PHANTOM CITIES (CD/LP by Persepolis Records) *
LA MORTE YOUNG (7" by Doubtful Sounds) *
ISOLATED COMMUNITY - EVERYONE IN THE VILLAGE HATES YOU (CDR by Northumberland Audio Capture) *
STERILE GARDEN - ACIDOSIS (CDR by No Part Of It) *
RUBBER BUS - RETURN TO REASON (cassette, private) *
THOMAS DIMUZIO - BALANCE (3CD by Gench)
THOMAS DIMUZIO - SLEW TEW (CDR by Gench)
"San Francisco-based Thomas Dimuzio is one of those unsung artistic figures whose influence and abilities have substantially outstripped his visibility", it says on Dimuzio's website and for once that is true. Modest, of course, too, but true. Since the late 80s', Dimuzio has been releasing records and working with others, as well as running a studio for recording, post-production and mastering. Much of his work can be found in the world of musique concrète. Normally, at this point in a review, I would list a bunch of his collaborators, but let's skip right through to the review as 'Balance' is a release that is about collaborations. The first disc is 'duos', the second 'trios' and the fourth 'combos'. A large portion of the work of Dimuzio is dedicated to playing with other people and quite often in concert situations. On these three CDs, there are 49 artists, with recordings from 8 shows over ten years. At the end of the review, I will copy and paste the whole list of people involved. Dimuzio takes credit for modular electronics and live-sampling (as mentioned on his Bandcamp site), but it is not always clear what the others are playing. Take, for instance, now playing, 'The Dildo Factory', with Kanoko Nishi-Smith Moe Staiano, also known as KaMoTo Trio, of whom I had not heard before. I believe to hear a violin among various forms of electronics. With the growing number of participants from disc one to three, the music expands from quite transparent to mildly chaotic and dense. In the middle, disc two, we have a mixture of both ends. Whereas disc one and two sometimes show forms of organization, the third one is all about pure improvisation and that ranges from a bunch of electronics to combinations with real instruments. For 'Duos' I had the impression it was all about electronic duets, analogue, modular, digital or a combination of such, but without too many 'real' instruments, except maybe with David Molina. As said, on disc two, we see the most different combinations at work; from all-out electronic (with Matmos for instance, also one of the few more rhythmic pieces), to works with instrumentalists and from chaos to order. With all three discs, it is not easy to say what Dimuzio is doing, but I very much enjoyed the overload of it all; best enjoyed in one long session.
'Slew Tew' is Dimuzio's second compilation of musical pieces he submitted to compilations, recorded between 2003 and 2017. Dimuzio sees this as an album and just a random collection. It is, at seventy-eight minutes, a long album (a double, maybe?) and gives us the solo-side of Dimuzio, which, for all his musique concrète leaning, sounds mostly electronic. It is hard to say if these electronics are modular or laptop-based, but I would think it is all a combination of whatever is working for me. Somehow, Dimuzio doesn't strike me as someone who is fuzzy over what to use and whatnot. Whatever suits the piece he is doing, I would think. This album is a particularly fine showcase of what he is capable of it. Busy, dense pieces of buzzing sounds, slow drones (in 'Abject Light'), heavily processed field recordings, more noisy work sitting right next to quite introspective ambient pieces and as such I can say, yes, this is an album. The order of the pieces is set in such a way that there is a great flow in these pieces. There is never a dull moment on this release, despite the length of the release.
(The complete cast for the three 'Balance' releases; Scott Amendola, Cilla Vee, Bob Bellerue, Chuck Bettis, Easy Bake Oven, Illusion Of Safety, Demonsleeper, Fugitive Pope, Alan Courtis, Beth Custer, Matmos, Antimatter, Evelyn Davis, Doctor Nerve, Sharkiface, Jon Evans, Thea Farhadian, Kris Force, Phillip Greenlief, Solid Eye, Emily Hay, Shelley Hirsch, Motoko Honda, Aurora Josephson, Blevin Blectum, Joe Lasqo, Wobbly, Scott Looney, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Ava Mendoza, T.D. Skatchit, Transient, Arcane Device, Kanoko Nishi-Smith, Rick Reed, Gino Robair, Xambuca, Moe! Staiano, Amma Ateria, Larry Thrasher, Richard Teitelbaum, Lori Varga, Music For Hard Times, and Kit Young) (FdW)
––– Address: https://thomasdimuzio.bandcamp.com/
GABRIELE HASLER - HERDEN UND ANDERE BUESCHEL (CD by Laika Records)
You open the eco pack and an elderly lady with elderly-looking hair crop looks back at you. Adding the address of the label (Bremen) pre-conceptions set in and the expectations are set at an arty, stretched, and challenging listening. But how wrong wrong wrong this is ...
Because then memory cuts in - Gabriele Hasler ... wasn't that the Jazz singer and composer from the 80ies/90ies, with the long flowing red hair? indeed: the colour of the hair on the cover IS red. GH and Foolish Heart? With her own label Foolish Music? wow, that's something. So I put the CD in the player and am utterly surprised. A mixture of sound experiments and word mongering, sound art, and poetry streams from the speakers. And all this carried by a wry sense of humour - who else would call a recitation of an encyclopedia text on limited liability companies 'Termites'? Some of the humour will get lost on the non-German speaking audience. Which is a big pity. But hey, 'Oiseaux' is in French, as you might have guessed, although that will not help much since it is a list of invented bird names. The combination of music - very sparsely interjected and held simple - word art (it's not really 'poetry' since it acquires a surrealistic character that is more Dada than anything else), field recordings, and sound experiments are fascinating. Recitations of text are layered onto each other, interspersed with musical elements, sounds - not always to be recognized as synthetic, voice or field recording - mingled into the mix. The different elements happening at different positions in the mix hold your attention and even distract positively from the actual text. If there was always one ... GH 'deconstructs' the words by omitting letters and increasingly ridicules the actual content. Track titles indicate field recordings of animals - which might or might not actually be the case. Jaap Blonk comes to mind, Christine Weyrether (Maria Zerfall) with her genius 'Der Kuehlschrank', and even more Ditterich von Euler-Donnersperg/Uli Rehberg. A thoughtful, beautiful release. Using linguistics, humour, and sound to even ridicule Google Translate ...
The liner notes try to explain too much of the music, which gets a bit in the way of just listening and understanding whichever way you 'get' the stories. Some short production notes would have been more suitable in retaining the slightly mysterious character of the recordings. You would prefer to then search your way through web sources to find out more if you wish. (RSW)
––– Address: http://www.laika-records.com/
DANIELLE BUONAIUTO - MARFA SONGS (CD by Starkland)
I must first confess that I am not an opera lover. So the first track on this CD caught me on the wrong foot. It wasn't a put-off, since the serial character made the slightly unnerving soprano more palatable. So let us start from the beginning: Danielle Buonaiuto is a US American soprano singer with a very clear and versatile voice, that is agreed. She here presents her first release after having sung in choirs and solo with accompaniment since 2011. Her repertoire includes many modern composers, of which we here find four: James Young, Natalie Draper, Cecilia Livingstone, Douglas Buchanan. What strikes me is the parity in gender - very rarely seen on classical records for the pure lack of female composers. Or ignorance for ... one could also say. The voice is only accompanied by a piano, which in the further pieces after the fierce opening gives rise to thoughts of Schubert and Mendelssohn songs. The booklet includes the lyrics, and they play a much more prominent role than in classical songs. The music starts meandering between modern serial music as with Cage, to something more akin to country folk, then to songs you could also have expected from the likes Joni Mitchell or other singer-songwriters dwelling on the border between folk, country and jazz, and even maybe a touch of Gershwin and West Side Story.
With a total of 4 composers and 19 tracks, the release offers some style variety. It starts with the 'Marfa Songs', a 9-song cycle that includes exactly the mentioned range of styles between modern and folk, also including one 'standard format pop-song' piece, and all songs remaining in a pop-compatible length (without saying they have anything to do with popular music) and thus up to the point. Supposedly, this cycle was originally written for percussion and voice - which would have lent itself to a fascinating listen. For this recording it was transcribed to the piano, which has worked well, I must say. Livingston's two pieces are more 'traditional' in their modern approach and longer, but less appealing. Natalie Draper offers a slightly different take on the piano side of things, placing more emphasis on this side of the music and delivering a very interesting rendition with a more experimental touch. And finally, Douglas Buchanan provides three pieces leaning towards Scottish folklore. The quieter approach and lower occurrence of peaked notes make this a more palatable listen. If you like modern vocal music, do not buy into the completely abstract side of things, but also think that John Adams is boring, then this release will reward you with a successfully woven close-knit between the piano accompaniment and the voice. For my liking, there could have been less showing off of high notes, but that is up to taste ... (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.starkland.com/
COLLAGE PROJECT – OFF BRAND (CD by New Focus Recordings)
Collage Project is Dan Bruce (electric guitar), Dan Lippel (nylon-string guitar) and Aidan Plank (bass). Their collaboration started near the end of the 90s, sharing “a conviction that free improvising need not be restricted by vocabulary and written material in improvised music need not be confined to conventional forms or stylistic boundaries.” For this debut recording, they are guested by Noa Even (saxophone), Chris Anderson (trombone) and Nathan Douds (drums). Lippel, Bruce and Plank each contribute with two compositions. The compositions are interspersed with three improvisations in different trio line ups. What are they up to? Call it chamber music shaped by classical compositional principles, combined with elements of free improvisation, jazz and rock. The inventive works presented here reflect their reunion-phase (2015 - 2019). They take advantage of the broad experience each one built up in the years before. They offer us intelligent thought-over – a little academic – compositions and improvisations dealing above all with structure. The performers are very skilled and give life to their eclectic and stylistically diverse constructions. ‘For Manny’ is one of the longer works composed by Lippel, an engaging game of rhythmic complexity. The acoustic and electric guitar has an important role in most of the works and makes a fine contrast. So this work should appeal especially to lovers of the guitar. A fine document. (DM)
––– Address: https://newfocusrecordings.bandcamp.com/
JACOB WICK & BRAD HENKEL – LOVELY BAG YOU HAVE(CD by Relative Pitch Records)
I remember reviewing here an impressive album of trumpet players Herb Robertson and Dave Ballou with Drew Gress and Tom Rainy as the Macroquarktet. With ‘Lovely Bag you Have’ we are again in the company of two trumpeters without other collaborators this time. Henkel is a trumpeter from California where studied improvisation and composition with Jeff Kaiser and John Fumo. Moving to New York he studied with Tony Malaby. Since 2013 he is settled in Berlin and worked with Philip Zoubek, Robert Landfermann, and many others. He is also a member of the Impakt Collective based in Cologne. Jacob Wick has his roots in Chicago, performed on the American and European continent, participating in diverse projects. He has his own unit Dos/Tres Hongos, a duo or trio with Marc Riordan and Frank Rosaly. But above all Henkel seems to be a regular companion, as ‘Lovely new Bag you have’ is not their first collaboration. In the years 2012-2014 both did several recordings as Trumpet Trumpet Synthesizer with Weston Minisali on synths. In May 2016 Henkel and Wick recorded in Berlin their first duo album ´I Saw A Lightbulb Flickering I Moved Towards It And It Was Morning´, released by Impakt in 2017. ‘Lovely Bag You Have’ is their second effort, again recorded in Berlin. They concentrate on extended techniques, generating very different sounds from the trumpet as the traditional ones, in an improvised musical exchange. They built their interaction from very abstract sound-oriented textures, condensed in nine improvisations. From what I hear it seems all purely acoustical to me, although I have some doubt concerning the last few tracks on the album that are the most dynamic ones ”It would be a pain” and “So I won’t”. Anyway, these are radical sound-improvisations by two devoted and communicative players. (DM)
––– Address: http://www.relativepitchrecords.com/
THE BELLOWING EARWIGS - THE PERPENDICULAR GIRAFFE COMPARTMENT (CD by FMR Records)
GOUVEA &NORTHOVER & MATTOS - CAJULA (CD by FMR Records)
THE CHEMICAL EXPANSION LEAGUE - GRAPPLING WITH THE ORANGE PORPOISE (CD by Creative Sources Records)
JEAN-JACQUES DUERINECKX/ADRIAN NORTHOVER - HEAROGLYPHICS (CD by Setola Di Maiale)
Who doesn’t love a bit of cacophonous improv? This guy. That’s who. There is something joyous about listening to The Bellowing Earwigs, AKA Adrian Northover, Daniel Thompson, Adam Bohman and Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg just go out at. The best thing about their new album ‘The Perpendicular Giraffe Compartment’ is they sound like they’re having a blast making it. What separates The Bellowing Earwigs from their peers is how airy it all is. The music might be all over the shop at times, but it's never oppressive or claustrophobic. There is a playful nature to the music. ‘Latent Trouser Press Controversy’ feels like an xxx. ‘Electrified Militant Bladderack’ is where Van Schouwburg really comes into his own. This is where the bellowing in their name comes from. The way he contorts his voice is remarkable, as is his ability to switch from a full roar to caressing whisper the next. ‘The Perpendicular Giraffe Compartment’ is an enjoyable album filled with clever motifs and devilish melodies. Essential listening!
When listening to ‘Cajula’ it’s almost impossible to constantly be reminded at the pedigree of the players. Marilza Gouvea, Marcio Mattos and Adrian Northover are all heavy hitters in London’s Avant-jazz/improvising scene. The songs possess a quality that is hard to explain other than saying it is similar to Bob Dylan saying his best music from the 60s contained ‘that thin, wild mercury sound’. Describing ‘Cajula’ as Mercurial feels like a good fit. The music is changeable, quick, and clever. The sonic changes between ‘Duende’ and ‘Sea of Clouds’ is remarkable. ‘Duende’ is a dense piece of music punctuated pockets of light, mostly down to Gouvea’s vocals, whereas ‘Sea of Clouds’ is a gossamer affair, that lives up to its name. ‘Sea of Clouds’ shows that Avant-jazz doesn’t have to be a brooding and impregnatable beast. It can be something light and playful, while never losing its serious edge. Another jovial moment takes place on ‘Cajula’. When the birds appear in the title track it’s a thing of beauty and immediately makes you look outside to see if birds are knocking about and enjoying the music with you. On this occasion, they were not, but maybe in the future. And this is the beauty of ‘Cajula’. It draws you into its wonky world and then, snap, you’re back in yours, only to be drawn back in moments later.
Before I get started, I just want to say that ‘Hearoglyphics’ is a total delight. It’s one of those rare albums that is just charming from start to finish. Jean-Jacques Duerinckx and Adrian Northover’s playing is a sheer joy and their interactions are delicate and touching. When two players get together there can sometimes be an element of showing off or who can piss the highest, but on ‘Hearoglyphics’ Duerineckx and Northover’s playing is not combative. They are definitely trying to outdo each other but in a complimentary way. And this comes across in the music. ‘Fish’ is the sound of two musicians enjoying each others company and trying to get the best out of the other. The music is light and playful, but with an edge that cuts you to your core. The track opens with light and breathy sax squeaks. As it continues the playing gets more filigree and abstract. By its conclusion, you immediately want more, or at least, to play it again. On ‘Reed 1’ and ‘Reed 2’ the playing is has a diaphanous fragility to it, despite some of the playing being fast and furious. It showcases again that to get your message across you don’t have to play loud and hard. ‘Hearoglyphics’ is the kind of album you could wait a lifetime for and never find. It is full of inventive playing, lovely passes between passages and absolute love for life, and collaboration, that is really hard to dismiss. It really is a touching album made by players at the top of their game.
There is a moment in the opening salvo of ‘Rose Petals and Rocket Propellant’ that is sounds like Adam Bowman is having a whale of a time with a creaky door. There he is, rocking it back and forward on its hinges full of glee and delight. What makes this image even more pleasing is that the truth is he probably is. The reason I bring this up is that, historically, speaking a creaking door is meant to evoke either fear or annoyance. Fear that something untoward is pushing it open slowly with its hulking bulk and annoyance as you need to get the WD40 out to stop it squeaking and creaking. Here, however, it conveys neither of these things. Its just another level of texture for Sue Lynch, Ulf Mengersen and Adrian Northover to either work with or against, depending on their mood. And this is exactly what happens throughout ‘Grappling with The Orange Porpoise’. The four players do interact with each other in such a way that they are playing becomes a solid mass where detection of their individual parts is like trying to separate the individual spices in a curry.
‘Squirting Groceries’ is one of the standout tracks on the album. Around the final third something an orchestra of power drills appear. Sometimes it feels like they are boring into something and others they are just spinning in mid-air. As with the sound of the creaking door, this isn’t an unpleasant sound and adds an extra layer of texture to the proceedings. Individually they standout but together they create something far more delicious. There is a fragility to the songs, despite their robust and rickety natures. The instruments are played with care, so the music created as a tender longing to it. Lynch’s clarinet and flute are at times delicate and poignant and other raging monsters, but they are filled with an irresistible feeling of hope that makes them a sheer delight. Mengersen’s bass work is glorious especially when he bows it. Effectively ‘Grappling with The Orange Porpoise’ is an album that anyone with an interested in Avant-jazz or improvised music should play immediately. (NR)
––– Address: https://www.fmr-records.com/
––– Address: https://www.creativesourcesrec.com/
––– Address: https://www.setoladimaiale.net/
KORDIK & LUCAS & PREVOST - HIGH LAVER REFLECTIONS (CD by Earshots/Matchless)
Churches are beloved places for musicians. Not to pray, I guess, but to do recordings and use the space as a sort of natural reverb. In the All Saints Church in High Laver, Essex in spring 2019, Daniel Kordik (modular synthesizer), Edward Lucas (trombone) and Eddie Prevost (percussion) met up to play some music. Of the three, Prevost, is the best-known musician, I guess, for his many years with AMM, and whatever else in the world of improvised music. It is the éminence grise and the next generation at work here, and it works well. Prevost works the cymbals with bows and those sound great in such cavernous circumstances. In a space like this, you need to control the sound, give it air in this big space and that is something that these three men do very well. There isn't an endless stacking of tones going on here; au contraire, there is quite a lot of space between the notes. Each of the players brings to the table their speciality; short and bumpy tones of the trombone, longer and sustaining strokes on the cymbals and the modular synthesizer being able to pull both and holding the middle ground between the two ends here. And yet, also the trombone and the percussion can do shorter and longer sounds if need be. All of this doesn't mean this is very quiet music; far from it. This music can be loud and confrontational, right next to quiet and intimate. There is some truly fine dialogue going on between the three players and it is good to see Prevost playing the snare drum as I haven't heard him doing that in quite some time (in "Peal Away'). All in all these four pieces encompass a lot of things; dark, light, dense, spacious and above all some great interaction between the players in achieving that. (FdW)
––– Address: http://earshots.org
AB INTRA - HENOSIS VI-XI (CD by Zoharum)
NOR_POL - CONSTRUCTION (CD by Zoharum)
It has been a while since I reviewed 'Henosis I-V' by Ab Intra (Vital Weekly 1056), who keeps his true identity still hidden. To remind you, 'Henosis' means 'unity' or 'unification' in ancient Greek) and the six pieces are, again, symbolized rather than written out in a word(s). There is nothing much else on the cover to go by, so I assume, just like last time, that Ab Intra is a man, armed with a bunch of analogue synthesizers and/or modular synthesizers, aiming for nothing less than a massive sound. There is nothing much careful in his approach, which isn't to say that it is all about noise; far from it, actually. Ab Intra's music leans towards techno, but without the rhythm; well, not as such. There are loops of synth-based sounds that would look in a techno piece, and with the right amount of reverb and delay, Ab Intra moves these into to the world of heavy-duty ambient music. It is ringing and singing, left and right, minimal and yet in a maximum manner. A drone doesn't go amiss here and it is the sort of powerful cosmic music that one drift away on, into outer space; hands firm at the wheel of the spaceship. This is a trip with a mission to accomplish. Especially the last two pieces are very examples of that. It is all most enjoyable and in some way quite original in its approach to cook up a variety of ambient, drone, space and rhythm and melt it into a form of its own. Very nice.
I might have heard of Nor_Pol before (and yet, maybe not), which is a duo of Jørgen Knudsen and Lukas Szalankiewicz. I know the latter from his work as Zenial. They already met in 2006 and worked since then on sound installations and music pieces, some of it ending up on Zenial albums. If I understood correctly, this is the first album. There is nothing mentioned about instruments they use here, and judging by the music, I found it very hard to say what they use. It is a strange one, this album, and it would seem that they have not yet made up their minds what they want to do it with their music. It bounces left and right, all over the musical spectrum; from the improvised opening piece 'Durational (Jazz version)' to the closing drone/synth/field recording experiments of 'Twice Less', we have heard some more ambient leanings, improvisation, modular electronic variations and musique concrète excursions. Altogether it is not really a homogenous album, but it makes it all the more enjoyable I think. If this was a compilation of different groups, it would have been a perfect mixture of various interests. Now it is by one duo, perhaps showing off what they are all capable of and in doing so they delivered a great album. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.zoharum.com
SHAME - WHITE MAN (CD by Cacophonous Revival Recordings)
THIRTEEN HURTS - CHEMTRAILS (CDR by No Part Of It)
These two releases have a few connections, so that's why I lump them together. First, they both deal with noise music. Secondly, they both have a message outside the world of noise, however different these messages are. As I have said on numerous occasions, I rarely listen to lyrics and I never claim to understand what they are about. Also, I am one firm believer that music can not hold any message at all; be it political, sociological or amorous. It is the context in which that music is presented, the lyrics, cover art, track titles and liner notes. Be my guest if you want to tag that onto music, I choose to largely ignore them. In the case of Shame, the subject is 'White Man', and to quote from Bandcamp; "White Man is an intricate, grating and uncomfortable concept album letting the listener in on what it feels like to be a black body ensconced in the trappings of a white societal power structure. Not meant to be pleasant, the music pervades the senses and gives the listener a feeling of being torn apart by this inherently racist system. Haunting, confrontational and timely, the struggle black people face daily is present in this harrowing and very experimental album". At Vital Weekly we have a bunch of white men, also 'old', so whatever we say about the lyrical content of this album, we might be wrong, or not the ones to speak about, not being able to feel the same trappings of a white societal power structure. We are always open for reviewers of any gender, race etc to offer different opinions. More on the music soon.
With Thirteen Hurts the subject is 'Chemtrails', and One-Eyed Zatoichi (the man behind Thirteen Hurts) says, "I noticed that out in Colorado in the middle of nowhere, we had a continuous abundance of chemtrails in the sky. It bugged me not for the chemicals raining down on us, but for the haze left in the sky which directly affected my astronomy efforts at night. Around that time, I was aware of various conspiracy sites that talked of the Chemtrail issue. While I'm not hardcore or rabid on the subject, I did have concerns and thought that chemtrails would be an interesting subject to create some noise after. Following some research, the first thing I did was to come up with titles for the pieces... ...on Chemtrails, I had the titles first and then created sounds to go with those titles, almost like creating a soundtrack to a word instead of an image". No lyrics here, but a further explanation (see Bandcamp) you could make out Thirteen Hurts is a believer. I love conspiracy theories; the best afternoon reading material filed under 'humour'. I'd love David Icky's far-out theories and read all the books (many a repeat of the previous, with some further insights). Unlike Shame, whose message I can't 'feel', the one behind 'Chemtrails' I simply don't buy. Now for some music.
Shame is "composer, improviser and multi-instrumentalist Abdul-Hakim Bilal", already releasing a few EPs and the noise he produces reminded me of power electronics from the 80s, brooding and dark, with loops of sound/rhythm and the voice drenched with a fair bit of reverb. When it unfolds into feedback, it reminded me of early Whitehouse, but Shame's production is not as one-directional. In terms of a noise release, it is something I enjoyed very well. The lyrics were, sorry, very hard to understand, just as the booklet wasn't easy to decipher either. Not sure whom this music is aimed at though. White (old) men like me who actually like noise, or is the noise used to make it unattractive and get the message across? I don't know.
The music of Thirteen Hurts is more along the current lines of noise, with everything full-on, massive distortion and musical details preferably buried in the mix. Sometimes I was reminded of Joe Banks' Disinformation project, with long wave sounds and sounds of the sun (and perhaps 'disinformation' applies here on more than one level?). "Thus, as you are listening to the pieces on Chemtrails, you can look at the title of the piece and I'm hoping you can see what I was trying to achieve." Well, 'let me see, right now I am hearing 'Aerosols' and see a cloudy Wednesday afternoon over Nijmegen. No chemtrails (track six incidentally). Also, 'Population/Inoculation', 'Deployment', 'Useless Eaters'... no, I'm afraid I don't see what you see. Comparing these two noise releases, I prefer Shame over Thirteen Hurts, but the latter does a fine job and not fall into the dark hole of pure HNW. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cacophonousrevivalrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/white-man
––– Address: https://nopartofit.bandcamp.com/album/chemtrails
ARSENIJE JOVANOVIC - LA PARATTA (CD by Bolt Records)
MGLA ZDAJE SIE PRZYCHODZIC Z ZEWNATRZ (CD by Bolt Records)
PIOTR STASIK & ARTUR ZAGAJEWSKI - OPERA ABOUT POLAND (DVD by Bolt Records)
Here we have three new releases by the Polish Bolt label and I will go through them in an order that goes from 'understanding' to 'what is this?". I know the name of Arsenije Jovanovic from the one CD he produced for La Legende des Voix in 1994, without remembering too much about the CD; oddly enough I forgot all about the CD I reviewed in Vital Weekly 631. Jovanovic was born in 1932 and Discogs describes as a "Serbian theatre, radio and television director, also writer and audio-art author and university professor." There are only three works listed on Discogs. Now there is 'La Paratta', with three pieces of radiophonic qualities, two of which were commissioned by Austria's ORF Kunstradio. Not the first one, 'The White City', in which Jovanovic uses sound material recorded from the 1997 mass protests in Belgrade. There are lots of bells, whistles, pipes, sirens and kitchen utensils along with the sound of the mass screaming and chanting and I would think Jovanovic overlays a bunch of these recordings along with what could be wind or string instruments. The whole piece, some twenty-two minutes works through various section, emphasizing different blocks of sound. Quite a powerful piece. The second piece, 'La Parata' (slightly different spelling from what I have as a header here, but with a double 'T' is on the front'), is the parade and Jovanoic calls it a dance macabre from the darkest depths of history, with the voices of Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler and Tito. At twenty minutes a bit long for what it was, but also quite a powerful piece. The best is kept to the last, which is 'The Fear Of The Birds', in which he uses a lot of bird sounds and then also processed voices that sing like a choir of angels, in a piece that is very meditative and evocative. It is, perhaps, also the least political piece. It is an early Christmas song!
The second release already leaves with me with various questions. For instance, I am sure I listed the title, but not the creator. The booklet starts with 'Every time I start working', but it is not clear who this 'I' is. I gather it has something to do with an old radio play, 'The Passenger', and maybe this is a tribute? A rework, perhaps? The text recited in this radio piece is all in Polish, and as such, well, just perhaps, mostly suited for people in Poland? This non-revies is so you know this is available, but there is not much I can offer in terms of a review.
The final new release here is an opera, or perhaps, a video opera on DVD. It is about the current state of Poland, a country I know not much about, other than what I read about in the newspaper (and no doubt biased). People on screen talk about voting, sex, church, nationalism, and we see images of soldiers, children, the conductor and who knows what else. I am sure it is not a pleasant country in the world to live if you don't agree with the majority, but again: what do I know? This non-revies is so you know this is available, but there is not much I can offer in terms of a review. (FdW)
––– Address: http://boltrecords.pl/
ANT ORANGE - YOU'RE SUPER IN DIAGONAL (CD by Karaoke Kalk)
Here I am a bit lost. Behind Ant Orange is a Britsh producer, and he had a release on Karaoke Kalk before, as well as a bunch of 12"s, and his music is mic between "laid-back house, experimental hip-hop and bass-heavy, abstract minimalism that hints at his background in UK garage and the strains of the hardcore continuum", which is a bit of gobbledygook for me, not being the particular part of the world of dance music. But I can hear some of that in here. In 'We'll Call You' there is a nice bit of minimal dance rhythm, which I enjoyed. In 'Cracker' there is rap, and I disconnect here; just not my cup of tea. 'I'm Going For A Walk' has a fine experimental acoustic rhythm, which is most enjoyable, but 'Monogome' or 'All In' are more drum 'n bass inspired pieces. It is commendable that Ant orange bounces all over the place with his music, but it makes it difficult to enjoy it all. While I certainly enjoy segments of the dance music genre, others I surely don't enjoy and throughout I was thinking ll of this might be just a bit too far outside the scope of Vital Weekly. (FdW)
––– Address: https://karaokekalk.de/
THE SODALITY OF THE SHADOWS - PHANTOM CITIES (CD/LP by Persepolis Records)
The Sodality of the Shadows, a project of R.B. Russell which, if I understand it correctly, is named after an early 20th-century occultist society. On this album, Russell is supported by a line-up that consists of Rosalie Parker, Mark Valentine - names that are new to me - but also ambient veteran Cousin Silas and experimental composer and percussionist Jon Mueller. The LP comes with a heavy gatefold leaflet that offers notes about every track, which is definitely a big plus (and made up for the fact that this copy wasn't accompanied by any promo writing). Sometimes these notes actually are the lyrics to the relevant track, though this is mostly not the case.
Phantoms Cities takes us on a stroll through an abandoned city with dilapidated buildings all around. On many of the tracks, the music itself is very minimalistic and gives the different sonic elements a lot of room to breathe - something that clearly amplifies the desolate atmosphere. With regard to genre definitions, it's a bit of a struggle, but I'd say that fans of the old World Serpent clique will probably like this: There's some minimal folk, washes of abrasive ambient, baroquely sequenced guitar arpeggios and the occasional brief spoken word part.
The eponymous track "The Sodality of the Shadows" is a mesmerizing acoustic ambient piece that is easily my favourite track on the album. It features the odd choice for a vocoder voice-over, but somehow that blends in unexpectedly well with the rest. Also, "The Scarlet Funeral Company" is a hauntingly beautiful ambient track reminiscent of Celer, but with some subtle saturation to make it grate a just bit more.
Now, some tracks like 'Tales of the Assassins' and "Legends of the Great Mystery" seem to meander somewhat aimlessly, but I'd say it isn't that much of a bother since those tracks are reasonably short. Also, that might just be your thing. Other songs feature complex guitar(?) arpeggios that seem somewhat clinically sampled and sequenced and also some mellotron parts (e.g. the flute) are clearly not properly multi-sampled, so if you're an acoustic or vintage keyboard purist that may kill your buzz a bit and perhaps you should skip those tracks. Normally I wouldn't scrutinize these things to such a degree, but the minimalist approach makes the timbric qualities of the separate instruments stand out, which renders these specific instrument choices more salient. With "And there are Other Stations", an up-tempo kraut rock stomper, the album reaches its pinnacle. It kinda made me think of Silver Machine by Hawkwind with all the noise, that also lingers a bit after the rest of the instruments fade away. All in all an interesting story album with a few enthralling highlights. (LW)
––– Address: https://rbrussell.bandcamp.com/
LA MORTE YOUNG (7" by Doubtful Sounds)
This is, obviously, a great band name. I wonder how many people got home, thinking they had something by La Monte Young and then were treated the sounds of this five-piece from France? The music is not a tribute to the arch minimalist. Well, not per se. La Morte Young call their music 'hyper-free noise', with guitars and electronics in the red, and screamed a voice. This is the new sound, as opposed to their previous release, 'A Quiet-Earthquake Style' (see Vital Weekly 1147), which all about control. The two pieces on this 7" are one fury blast of noise, well, two of course, of screaming noise & voice, with very little variation between both sides. I quite enjoyed this to be on the format of a 7", as this short and to the point, which in the case of noise music is the best thing. For me, that is, at least, the best thing. A CD or an LP would be too much of, so I assume, the same thing over and over again, would lead to senseless repeat. Now it is a statement, a call to arms, to prepare for war. Having said, to see this concert, I wouldn't mind this to be a bit longer. The ultimate free noise jazz improvisation experience condensed to 12 minutes. (FdW)
––– Address: https://talweg.bandcamp.com/
ISOLATED COMMUNITY - EVERYONE IN THE VILLAGE HATES YOU (CDR by Northumberland Audio Capture)
New! All around it seems. Northumberland Audio Capture is a new label from, well, I guess, Northumberland, and Isolated community present their first release. This is a duo from Newcastle Upon Tyne, and they promise a "mix of theremin, electronics and location recordings". Richard Dunn and Rachael Talbot Dunn are responsible for the music. I had this one already playing a couple of times in the last few days, not yet ready to commit words to it, but every time enjoying what I heard. From the long opening/title piece to the more fragmented pieces that make up much of the rest of the disc, making up a fine combination of lo-fi electronics, samples, the occasional melodic line on the keyboard and/or guitar and sometimes there are some faraway voices to be spotted; not singing but humming, like ghosts. There are a touch of industrial music, ambient industrial, lo-fi tape manipulations, low-resolution sampling and found sound from around the house. The first piece is close to ten minutes, a slow starter, but everything after that is between one and three minutes, in which Isolated Community explore a few sonic events, nothing too complicated or too long, but within that time frame just enough for what it is, and at that with some neat variation to go along with that. Some more structured songs sit easily next to more experimental pieces and sketches. All of this sounded very promising, so bring on some more! (FdW)
––– Address: https://isolatedcommunity.bandcamp.com/
STERILE GARDEN - ACIDOSIS (CDR by No Part Of It)
Six tracks by Sterile Garden (Jacob DeRaadt) using "primitive tape manipulation". Sounds which are typically "mechanical" rather than electronic... and described as industrial, I guess in the sense of involving old industrial processes of violence being done to metal. Not only do these pieces evoke these landscapes, we think particularly of Soviet factories in which brute force is set against and over nature, but there must also be it seems a strange inverted nostalgia for such 'industrial' sounds which haunt the post-modern minds. I remember some years ago being shown round a factory making parts for Rolls-Royce aero engines, the place cleaner than an operating theatre, and at the centre in a large glass cage a huge CAM machine, (computer-aided manufacture) only here the operator in a smaller glass box, wearing a neat suit and operating the machine via a laptop. I think much the same super clean environments exist in most manufacturing and has so since the 1970s. The only quaintly human aspects were the use of egg boxes to careful transport the manufactured parts to where they were tested. Testing is the main occupation, and being parts which if failing might bring down an airliner rightly so. Testing by being X-Rayed, and measured countless times to unimaginable accuracy. I paint this picture of the actual to contrast the fictional noise of Acidosis where one imagines workers drenched in sweat, hammer and heave, operate threatening machines which would crush and render flesh as much as metal. I suppose it would be madness to be nostalgic for such industries, and simply enjoy the fictions presented here. I'm reminded of a painting in The Birmingham Art Gallery, called 'February Fill Dyke' of what appears a quaint picturesque cottage nestling in a winter landscape, and the thought of the actuality of living in such a damp cold habitat where hunger and disease and bare survival was the real reality. Such pasts, always like Acidosis seemingly black and white, or grey can appear from this historic distance inviting simple. I remember an old gas works, where coal was heated to form coke and in the process make coal gas, from which homes and factories were heated and lit. The whole process involving the production of dirt, grime and stench. Acidosis again, or more recently looking down from an aircraft on the Thames estuary at the massive wind-farm... we are indeed in a new world, one that is though blander than brave, and IMO Acidosis reminisces of another industrial age disappearing into history and not made to be seen as quaint as the workers' cottage. (jliat)
––– Address: https://nopartofit.bandcamp.com/album/acidosis
RUBBER BUS - RETURN TO REASON (cassette, private)
Saul Yarg is the man behind Rubber Bus, who produced 'Return To Reason' during the 2020 'Ambient Lockdown', also as a reaction to it. He started out doing this solo, but as he was working on the material things were "suggested by other band members by email or text". In the small print, we read that the group was active from 1993 to 1998 and from 2016 onwards, including the two original members, George Bus (guitar) and Saul Yarg (samples/live mix), as well as Andy Roid on synths, King Razor on bass and Tony TwoDogs on drums. So, I understand that while Rubber Bus is a band, this is primarily the work of Yarg in absence of his mates. Maybe he is sampling their work? Yarg might call this ambient but I beg to differ. His stretched soundscaping business owes more to the world of modern electronics, industrial music, lo-fi electronics and with all the sampling going on, there are some repeating blocks of sound to be noticed. It is spacious, sure, but more in that multi-coloured rainbow style; psychedelic music. Sometimes Yarg takes a bit too much time, methinks, and not always it was possible to hold my attention to the music. Some of it was quite good, but especially in the longer pieces, it didn't always work for me. Maybe the critical attention is missed during a lockdown? (FdW)
––– Address: https://rubberbus.bandcamp.com/
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: http://kormplastics.nl/vtcc.html