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PHILIP SULIDAE - VANDEMONIAN VERPLAATSING (CD by Unfathomless) *
ERIC LA CASA (+ MICHAELE-ANDREA SCHATT, JEAN-LUC GUIONNET, SEJIRO MURAYAMA, ARNAU HORTA) - INSTALLATIONS (CD by Swarming) *
BRUNO DUPLANT & ALFREDO COSTA MONTIERO - SOLIELS NOIRS (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
RYAN VAN HAESENDONCK - VAUVILLE (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
GABBY FLUKE-MOGUL- THRESHOLD (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
DALGOO – LIBERTÉ, EGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ (CD by Jazzwerkstadt) *
NO VISITORS - LIVE FROM THE BOTTOMLESS PIT (2CD by No Visitors) *
VASCO ALVES - GAITA CONTRA COMPUTADOR (CD by After Action Review) *
SPHERICAL DISRUPTED - 25 (3CD by Audiophob) *
RENDERED - STONECOLDSOUL (CD by Audiophob) *
HAARE - NEW AGE OF DEATH (CD by Aussaat) *
ANDERS FILIPSEN - WAITING MUSIC (CD by Ilk Music) *
DUNCAN HARRISON/IAN MURPHY – SLOW LIGHTNING (LP by Sham Repro)
SERGIO ZEVALLOS - ATEM: PIEZAS PARA ACCIONES E INSTALACIONES (1999-2019) (LP by Buh Records) *
CHRISTIAN KOBI - CATHEDRAL (LP by Buh Records) *
MAKOTO KAWABATA, RICHARD PINHAS, MANONGO MUJICA, JUAN LUIS PEREIRA, HIROSHI HIGASHI - ALTURAS (LP by Buh Records) *
SUN STABBED - IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI (LP by Doubtful Sounds) *
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - HIREATH/THE DARK SIDE OF THE DAMPFNUDEL (12" by Clockwork Tapes/Wenn Das Der Führer Wüsste Records) *
NIGEL SAMWAYS - TEMANI (cassette by Sounds Against Humanity) *
PHILIP SULIDAE - VANDEMONIAN VERPLAATSING (CD by Unfathomless)
Here we have more music from down under, to precise from Hobart, Tasmania. I didn't know what Vandemonian meant, and I found that it is "a white inhabitant of Tasmania. Especially: one penally transported there before 1853" and as an adjective, 1: of or relating to a Vandemonian or 2: RUFFIANLY, VIOLENT. 'Verplaatsing' is a Dutch word and means 'displacement'. I am not sure how to interpret both words together here. Sulidae has been working with field recordings for some ten years now, and he became "more intrigued by the actual notion of recording itself. Recording a temporal event, place, thing; recording time itself" and that "times and locations are simultaneously within reach, yet always once removed. These recordings exploit this tension between what we know of a place and what we imagine", from which I gather that the five pieces on this release were composed by putting various sound events together. Each of these five pieces is named after a specific street or road in Hobart, so it's interesting to look at these places with Google Maps. It is, not for the first time, a bit unclear what Sulidae does with these recordings, other than stitching them together and creating fascinating listening experiences. I would like to believe he doesn't add much by way of computer processing; no granular synthesis or time stretching. I would think that it's all just a bit of equalization, emphasizing or suppressing some frequencies and beyond that, it is all a matter of finding the right sounds. Not that it is easily revealed what these sounds are. There is a fair of crackling and rustling, as if Sulidae walks through leafy areas, with the buzzing of insects, traffic or electricity. Maybe there were some acoustic objects in his way? Otherwise, I would think it is not a lot of 'traditional' field recording sounds, not many birds or drips of water. It is quite intense and poetic, a narrative without the words. A truly refined beauty! (FdW)
––– Address: https://unfathomless.bandcamp.com/
ERIC LA CASA (+ MICHAELE-ANDREA SCHATT, JEAN-LUC GUIONNET, SEJIRO MURAYAMA, ARNAU HORTA) - INSTALLATIONS (CD by Swarming)
“Installations” is, as the title makes clear, a stereo document of four of Eric La Casa’s collaborative sound installations, all of them based on audio documents/explorations of specific urban spaces. But here’s the problem: half of the four pieces on the album involve text that’s spoken in French, a language that I do not speak. Luckily, the album comes with a booklet of full-colour photos and extensive texts (on both French and English) explaining each of the pieces documented on the album. I get the general ideas, but the depth of what’s being conveyed is hard for me to dig into as a non-speaker of French. The other issue of a project such as this is that work created to be installed and experienced in a specific location is challenging to present as two-channel home-listening. A crucial element of the work, the installed part, isn’t there; as I type this, I’m not in a gallery in Paris (though I sure wish I was. Instead, I’m in my living room, the same chair I’ve sat in for months, looking out the same window onto my rural New England street). Albums of installation documentation aren’t uncommon, of course. I think of them as, essentially, translations from one medium to a different one, much like a movie shown on television. The question becomes whether the sound works just as well removed from its context: the space is was installed in.
I’ll deal with the two language-heavy pieces first, which bookend the album. The first is “De la Dilatation du Paysage”, for which La Casa collaborated with artist and poet Michaela-Andrea Schatt. The sound accompanied an exhibition of Schatt’s visual work at the Isabelle Gounod Gallery in the Parisian suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. The sounds that comprise this installation are both artists speaking, in French of course, with their words and phrases overlapping as if having a clipped conversation across a stereo field. At the installation, their voices were broadcast at from multiple speakers in the different rooms of the gallery, intending to supplement viewers’ experience of the visual artwork as they moved through space. As a headphone home-listening experience by a non-speaker of the language, all I could think about was how lovely it might be to spend the day in a French gallery… or anywhere in France, really… a warm afternoon, perhaps, eating lunch at an outdoor cafe… hearing conversation all around me in a language I didn’t understand… doesn’t that sound lovely? Sigh. If you speak French, your experience of this piece will be very different from mine. Perhaps you can comment on what the words are all about and how they related to Schatt’s images. Sadly, I cannot. The final piece on the album, “Surface-temoin”, is also very language-dependent. It was made with frequent La Casa collaborator Jean-Luc Guionnet. The idea seems to have been to record people over three days as they entered a space, then interview them about their knowledge of the space. The installation (and this stereo document of it) is a collage of the sounds of the space itself and the voices of people living nearby or passing by the space. And again, knowledge of French seems key to understanding what conclusions/comments they’re making.
The second and third pieces, however, are easily enjoyable without understanding what’s being said. Like “De la Dilatation du Paysage” before it, “Double Exposition” is an exploration of a gallery space. This one was made in collaboration with drummer Seijiro Murayama and works better removed from its original context. La Casa’s process here seems similar to what he’s done in previous collaborative recordings with instrument players (Dan Warburton, Le Quan Ninh and so on): in the chosen location (in this case, Musee Zadkine, a museum in Paris dedicated to Russian sculptor Ossip Zadkine) he and Murayama explored the place to capture its indoor and outdoor acoustics. The recordings were then (if I’m understanding correctly) replayed into the rooms of the house out of speakers. This one works fine at home since we can hear the shifting sonic characteristics of the rooms as the players move through them. The album’s third piece, “Tentative d’epuisement (Sonore) d’un Lieu”, is the one I enjoyed most. Inspired by George Perec and made in collaboration with Arnau Horta, this piece is composed of recordings of La Place Saint-Sulpice, a busy Parisian intersection where lots of people congregate around the square’s large fountain. In the artist’s words, this piece presents “a meticulous record of what happens when nothing happens”, which is somewhat accurate. Certainly, things do happen, though nothing out of the ordinary: we hear buses pass by, voices in animated casual conversation, footsteps and traffic, the non-dramatic everyday sounds of a city. The collage turns out to be not quite eventless, though, as La Casa’s compositional hand is evident in every juxtaposition and textural transition. Because the language isn’t intended to convey specific meaning other than the sorts of conversations you might overhear if you sat in the square for a while, it works just fine as a home-listening experience. (HS)
––– Address: https://swarming.bandcamp.com/
BRUNO DUPLANT & ALFREDO COSTA MONTIERO - SOLIELS NOIRS (CD by Moving Furniture Records)
RYAN VAN HAESENDONCK - VAUVILLE (CD by Moving Furniture Records)
Was “Soleils Noirs” made just for me? How did Moving Furniture know that I often wanna hear two dudes leaning on harmoniums (or accordions or organs or whatever… I don’t really know) for 45 minutes? Were they reading my mind? Using a secret G5 network to peer into my dreams and target an album to my (not particularly) hidden desires?? Maybe so! And I don't mind one bit. The thoughts I had upon pressing “play” and hearing the first moments of this album were: “Oh hell yes this is exactly what I wanna hear” followed quickly by “I’m so glad this album is 45 minutes long”. That sound, man… that sound is breathtaking. The visceral heft of someone squeezing the air out of whatever mystery-boxes these dudes are using is just a damn pleasure and would be equally as enjoyable at twice the length. So I’m not gonna mince words: “Soleils Noirs” is wonderful. It’s a single massive throb of perversely energetic OMMMMMMMMMMM that leaps in at full force right away and doesn’t let up. Build-up? Denouement? Why bother? Duplant and Costa Monteiro drop listeners directly into the deep end of their warm dark goo and let you swim around on yr own. I can hear layers of dissonance and thick clouds of hot breath pulsing and shifting… "Soleils Noirs" is a big drone, sure, but it's not some self-generating thing that makes its only statement by taking up a lot of time. There’s urgency and thought and breathless compositional attention in every moment. This is the sort of immersive/involving experience that makes me smile and brings me back for more. If you dig drone records (and why wouldn’t you?), this isn’t one to sleep on. It also won’t put you to sleep. An easy & enthusiastic A+.
The theme of Ryan van Haesendonk’s debut album is one I can relate to. He lives in a big city, but took inspiration for “Vauville” from his visits to less inhabited areas… in this case, the quiet beaches of Normandy. Hey, did he take… a vacation?! To another country, even?! The idea of travel seems like science-fiction to me… or ancient history… must be nice, though. I recently moved from a busy city to the much-less-densely-populated countryside and I’m loving it. I often reflect (as I imagine Van Haesendonck did as he wrote this album) on the more tranquil surroundings through the lens of a lifelong urban guy. That line of thinking seems as obvious as taking photos of your own feet; appreciations of life outside the city have inspired plenty of art and music. Unfortunately, “Vauville” is more pedestrian than other work made in this vein… more conventionally musical, with looped and manipulated strings and simplistic emotional colours. In fact, the recent (and quite good) Cinema Perdu album on this same label had a similar starting-point; an audio examination of a relatively-uninhabited location. I get what Van Haesendonck was probably going for, and I suppose he’s achieved that. If this music was used as the soundtrack for a dance piece or for short films, it'd be fine. But on its own as pure audio, the album doesn’t do much for me. An acoustic guitar strums lightly over a bed of sparse digital peeps… sombre/slow-moving piano chords or plaintive saxophone accompanying the soft, telltale clicks of digital processing… and so on. The songs are all short, each one minimally composed of just a few repeating elements... small groups of sounds/melodic bits that kinda repeat to song-length until the end. If you imagine “city guy thinks about his lovely beach vacation and then writes some laptop ditties about it”, well… that’s this. And maybe that's an atmosphere you enjoy! This isn't bad, but it doesn’t take my mind elsewhere. I can imagine the lullaby melodies appealing to fans of 12k, Elian Rec., Constellation Tatsu, that sort of lightly-abstracted inoffensive electronic music… which isn’t intended as a slight, but this music is… well, slight. (HS)
––– Address: https://movingfurniturerecords.bandcamp.com/
GABBY FLUKE-MOGUL- THRESHOLD (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
Gabby Fluke-Mogul is a violinist, improviser, composer and educator from California, based in New York. She studied among other places at Mills College with Fred Frith, Pauline Oliveros, who introduced her in the theory of Deep Listening. Besides the concept of ‘comprovisation’ developed by Marty Ehrlich influenced her own practice as a musician and composer. Along with the principles of this concept she created music half-composed and half-improvised. She collaborated with Kyle Bruckmann, Jacob Felix Heule, Lisa Mezzacappa, Brandon Lopez and among others. So far not much of this young musician was released on cd or any other medium. She participated in two projects by saxophonist Philip Greenlief: ‘Bellingham for David Ireland’ (Edgetome, 2017) and ‘Barbedwire: 37 Graphic Scores for Trio Volume One’ that came out in 2020 on Creative Sources Recordings. Releasing a solo-album of improvised music is not what many musicians choose for at the beginning of their career. But not Fluke-Mogul, who surprises an album of bolded and concentrated violin statements. Six improvisations that carry one-word titles: ‘Teeth’, ‘Ruda’, ‘Kairos’, ‘Bruise’, ‘Gnosis’ and ‘Deuces’. Greek titles like ‘Kairos’ and ‘Gnosis’ suggest a spiritual interest. Her approach is one of experimenting from an open and eager attitude, showing a strong and sincere voice. Opening improvisation ‘Teeth’ is a vibrating and dynamic work accompanied by some vocals. In an improvisation like ‘Ruda’ I was struck by all nuances and details she incorporates in her improvisations. On the one hand, her playing is unpolished and very direct, but on the other is it also richly textured offering a wide range of sounds and possibilities. In her expressive and radical improvisations, she works with noise and as well as allusions of melody as ingredients. This is a strong statement of very expressive and radical explorations. Very rewarding! (DM)
––– Address: https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/
DALGOO – LIBERTÉ, EGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ (CD by Jazzwerkstadt)
The history of Dalgoo goes back to 1998 when Tobias Klein and Meinrad Kneer founded the quartet in Amsterdam. The quartet was in modus operandi until 2005 including Lother Ohlmeier and Christian Thomé and later Milo Fell as drummers. They released two albums during their first phase: ‘Dalgoo’ (2000) and ‘New Anatomy’ (2003). And after a long pause, they make a comeback now. A considerable period that makes it likely that their musical preferences, etc. changed. The line up stayed the same except this time with Christian Marien on drums. Klein plays alto saxophone and bass clarinet, Ohlmeier tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, Meinrad Kneer performs on double bass and Christian Marien plays the drums. All four of them are strongly profiled musicians with tons of experience. Amsterdam was their base in their early days, nowadays it is Berlin. Here they performed and rehearsed their new material in 2018, which is now presented on their third album. The CD counts three group improvisations titled ‘Liberté’, ‘Egalite’ and ‘Fraternité’. All other works are compositions by Klein and by Kneer. Compositions like ‘Listopad’ and ‘Arabian Oil’ take inspiration from world music from the east and are – for this reason? – the least exciting compositions. Far more satisfying are the compositions take that explicit inspiration from the jazz tradition like ‘Lakeish’ and opening track ‘Vibrate in Sympathy‘ that reminded me of Ornette Coleman in the way melody is treated here. ‘Die Zeit steht still’ is a very quiet and controlled piece of a reflective mood and atmosphere. A work that is about ending, disappearing in silence. This also counts for ‘Gap-toothed Smile’ that plays with the sonorities of double bass and bass clarinet. In contrast, playful compositions like ‘Eens Oneens’ are more uplifting and engaging. The group improvisations generate their own specific energy and can be easily identified by this aspect. In contrast with improvisations like ‘Egalité’ and ‘Liberté’, some composed titles look a little pale. So the quartet shows many faces reflecting their individual vocabulary and experience, built up over the years. (DM)
––– Address: http://www.jazzwerkstatt.eu
NO VISITORS - LIVE FROM THE BOTTOMLESS PIT (2CD by No Visitors)
Is Matthew Turner – “Synth scrap metal cement mixer contact mic”. Which is what you get on hearing- continuous sounds – of processes – hash(ish) noise and harsh(ish) noise wall with occasional tones, track 1 “Cemetery Without Crosses” begins with a pure tone which is quickly replaced by segments of continuous harsh(ish) noise - “ish” because it lacks certain sonic violence I associate with HNW. “The Great Silence” likewise is awash with slow static noise- continuous noises and periodic sounds very reminiscent of the old modems. In most pieces more or less continuous walls of noise with variations provided by the synthesizer- often buried deep in the HNW. Many feature quieter sections. “Green inferno” a drone-like miasma – which could be called noise but not harsh With little information to go on the rationale behind any of this is not obvious. Are they compositional or is this a set of live improvised recordings? The Bandcamp tags give “devotional harsh noise Austin”. I guess then – I can do nothing else – these are thematic works. I'd say 'devotional' is the clue here, that this is really a kind of mood music. But I'm failing to make sense of this, for all music is in a sense capable of creating a mood, but devotional- “love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person or activity. “ Maybe then devotional to noise? “Blue Rita”? The Occult? “The Hearse” Parts 1 & 2 but “The Year Of The Fork”? “The Blue Rita” is interesting as here the synth tone become a flute playing random tunes over a background of Harsh Noise static. The 'pace' of these tracks – the very slow static and rumble and periodic flutes make for fairly monotonous listening- and I have a feeling – without more information – that this must be what is intended. If so it succeeds. It doesn't matter that it is not Harsh Noise Wall which obliterates the senses and cognition, or Harsh noise which does much the same – so I suppose devotional in the sense of some 'impression' but for me not of anything sublime – or beautiful. So as I'm left with nothing much else to say I'll.... (Jliat)
––– Address: https://novisitors.bandcamp.com/releases
VASCO ALVES - GAITA CONTRA COMPUTADOR (CD by After Action Review)
A CD in a slimline jewel case; no other artwork and looking at the website below, this is how it is released. That is a bit minimal, I'd say. I hadn't heard from Vasco Alves in some time, but I do remember his work with VA AA LR, of which he was 'VA'; a trio of musicians working with junk objects and site specified sounds (I always thought of them as the UK version of BMB con). Alves is back in his home town Lisbon for six years and picked up playing the local bagpipes and this release are his first recordings attempts. The Gaita mentioned in the title is 'Gaita de Fole', Portuguese bagpipes, and here Alves has four pieces where plays the instrument solo, and then five 'bagpipes contra computer' compositions, which also gave the title of this release. One could see this as 'tradition versus progress'; the ancient tradition of the bagpipes versus the current use of computers. It works out pretty good. 'Contra' might not seem the right word; it is rather 'and' that does the trick. There is a linear development within these nine pieces., but that is only revealed when you heard them all. It goes from 'normal' to 'noisy', but, oddly enough, if you back to the first track, then you will notice that the way Alves plays the gaita that it is already a bit abstract; no folk tunes for him. He plays it rather minimally, with long sustaining tones and if you care to turn up the volume a bit, then these tones will have quite the piercing effect. Forward to when the computer is added and this will continue, with broken up tones, rhythmic and crystal clear. The way Alves uses his computer is to pick the sound from the gaita and loop it; no max/msp processes to create murky drone sounds. The first three pieces are highly minimal in the most classical sense of the word; shifting the phases. The last two pieces are labelled 'noise' on the website and here Alves uses a bit more white noise inspired sounds. Yes, one could say this is noise but of an entirely different nature than your usual noise release. Altogether, this is a highly original disc; a fresh take on minimal music, tradition meeting modernity here too, on another level. (FdW)
––– Address: http://a-a-r.net/AAR01.html
SPHERICAL DISRUPTED - 25 (3CD by Audiophob)
RENDERED - STONECOLDSOUL (CD by Audiophob)
To celebrate 25 years of Germany's Spherical Disrupted, Audiophob releases a 3CD set. Although, set is not the right word; unless you buy the limited to 100 copies in between two granite stones. Otherwise, this is a digipack with one CD and another digipack with two CDs. You can understand the mild confusion when I opened the mailer. The first time the name Spherical Disrupted appeared in these pages was in Vital Weekly 482 and spelt wrong; the review was unsigned. Following which we have reviewed two other releases (Vital Weekly 759 and 1061). There have been other releases as well. In this box, we find a completely new album, an album of compilation pieces, and the obligatory remix album. For the first time, there are pieces with vocals, by Tino Claus (of Aministia/MRDTC) and Jana Komaritsa (Darkrad). While the music of Spherical Disrupted is all over the electronic place, the element that connects all of this is darkness. Usually, a piece is created from a multitude of synthesizers, layered together, working to create the dark mood, with a dash of piano, field recordings, rhythm and now also a bit of voice. The latter drags this in this into a particular gothic field for me, although I am sure the word gothic isn't right. Call it darkwave? Especially the one sung by Tino Claus is a piece of darkwave. The rhythms are pounding, minimal and heavy, but they can be lighter too, such as in 'Comet', which is a lovely piece of dark synth 'pop'. The older compilation tracks are all from 2003 to 2008 (except for the first three) and throughout seem to be a bit noisier than the music now is; surely, there have been a few technological advancements in the studio. It is nice to get this historical document and not just for die-hard fans.
Where I stand on remixes should be known. Here we have the talents of Experimentum Crucis, Yipotash, The Trial, Kiew, Mimentic Dancing, The_Empath, Xabec, Mandelbrot and Still Patient? working their magic to do a remix of Spherical Disrupted. Many of these emphasize the rhythm side of the original, and/or expand on that side, but none of these brings the music into an entirely different musical domain, to win new fans over. I guess the Spherically Disrupted fans get what they probably like.
In 2016 Daniel Myer of Haujobb, Architect, Liebknecht, Dots & Dashes) and Clément Perez of 14anger) started as Rendered and released a couple of EPs. They toured the world with their "techno EBM/industrial music". Those EPs were released on vinyl and now arrive on CD, plus two previously unreleased tracks. Let me start with admitting I have hardly any knowledge about EBM music. It is just something that I heard over the years, very occasionally, here, there and somewhere, but I couldn't name one artist that stands out, nor much about the history of the genre. That makes me, most likely, the wrong guy for the task at hand, reviewing the music. But then, who at Vital Weekly would be? There is, however, another matter which made me write these words, and that is the fact that I quite enjoyed the music here. Maybe it's that post-Christmas/New Year's feeling of relief that all of that is over. Christmas tree safely stuck away, cleaning up the mess, with the eleven songs here as the soundtrack for such household jobs. Hell, even doing the yearly accounting can be done to this music. The music is quite fast, well over 130 bpm I reckon' (should I master the fine art of counting), dark and driven by a lot of energy; or is it the masculine power that drives this pumping music? Whatever the case, this is one massive drive through the darkest of nights in a speeding car (should I master that one day, I will try it out, of course) with no lights. A dangerous journey, not so irresponsible, but I imagine opposing cars shooting by like a flickering stroboscope. Excellent ride. (FdW)
––– Address: https://audiophob.bandcamp.com/
HAARE - NEW AGE OF DEATH (CD by Aussaat)
There is a Tove Jansson story about how when she was a little girl an iceberg washed up on her island. At night she grabbed her torch and went to investigate. She thought about climbing onto it, but instead, she put her torch in it and pushed it back out to see. As it floated away, she could see her torch illuminating the ice from within until it disappears from view. What listening to the latest Haare album, ‘New Age of Death’, I am reminded of this story. Firstly, because Haare is Finnish and secondly because the music contained on ‘New Age of Death’ feels like watching an iceberg with a torch in it floating out to see feels like.
Throughout the album, especially the closer ‘Maitreya’, you are constantly in awe of the scale of the music. It’s big. Bigger than you think, and it keeps on growing as the songs progress. They start as vague figments on the horizon but as they continue Haare adds more and more elements to them. Electric static here. Eerie rattles from a junk table there. Disconnected drones there and a huge amount of malicious noise for good measure. All of this just adds to the mixture of dread and jubilation that each song possesses. There is also something cold and glacial about it. At times you feel like putting on extra layers or cranking the heating up more to take the chill off. Haare, take their time to craft massive swaths of sound. Considering that the four tracks range from 12-20-minutes you get the impression that Haare is enjoying creating these sounds as much as we are enjoying listening to them. The elongated drones work incredibly well listening through headphones or cranked as loud as you can take them.
There is also something haunting about the album. It’s incredibly imposing but also very fragile. Despite its girth, you feel one good kick could shatter the whole thing about your feet. Which brings me back to my opening. What makes the story about Jansson and her iceberg so transfixing is that most of us will never experience it. We’ll never know how alien walking towards a washup iceberg at night feels. We’ll never know the elation of watching one illuminated gently drift out of view, but we can hear this album. We can experience music at a gut level. We can initially be overawed by what we hear. By the massive drones and haunted synths billowing about us, and as the songs fade out, we start to get the feeling of what it feels like to watch something so special and unique gentle leave our field of vision. All of this is true of the ‘New Age of Death’. This is an album so cherish on dark nights and serene afternoons. (NR)
––– Address: https://www.facebook.com/Aussaatundernte/
ANDERS FILIPSEN - WAITING MUSIC (CD by Ilk Music)
There is a line in Dr Seuss’ book ‘Oh! The Places You’ll Go’ where he says: “You can get so confused that you'll start in to the race, down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace, and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place. The Waiting Place..., ...for people just waiting.” Suess was, of course, right. In life, there is a lot of waiting to be done. How many times have you just waited somewhere? I don’t mean waiting in traffic, for a dentist, on hold, but purposely gone somewhere just to wait. A couple? Half a dozen time at the most? Suess, however, was wrong that waiting is a useless act. Sometimes the waiting can be better than the thing itself. The last time you waited for something how did it make you feel? Excited? Anxious? Jubilant? Dejected? Numb? And after the wait was over was it worth the wait?
On his debut solo album, ‘Waiting Music’, Danish composer Anders Filipsen considers waiting, and what waiting means and has created 12 pieces of music that try and sum up the experience, in one way or another. Of course, what Filipsen was doing when crafting these mesmerising pieces of music was thinking of a different room/space and then trying to create music that evoked those moods. The beauty of ‘Waiting Music’ is that Filipsen never lets us know what the room is for, as every track is just titled part with a Roman numeral after it. ‘Part I’ has parts that make you feel numb like you are waiting for test results. ‘Part II’ feels hopeful like when you are waiting to either meet someone for the first time or reconnect with someone from your past. They are filled with undulating rhythms and intricate melodies. They work as both chillout and sombre ragers. ‘Part XI’ has the same majestic moments of Vangelis in the 70s and early 80s. Huge swells of synths, and keyboard, gently roll around us, but there is something ominous lurking just below the surface. The synths are stark but there is a warmth to the music.
Overall ‘Waiting Music’ is a fascinating album that makes the listener re-think their relationship, not just with the act of waiting but the space we wait in. ‘Waiting Music’ is filled with delicious melodies that hang about the room like the smoke from blown-out candles. It billows just out of eyesight, but you know its there. The only downside to the recordings is sometimes Filipsen doesn’t give us enough tangible music to latch on it. It’s all very ethereal and wispy. It would have been great, like Vangelis, if Filipsen had managed to convert his brilliant ideas to brilliant music. That being said this isn’t a conventional album. It isn’t filled with snappy three-minute songs. Instead, we are given 12 songs that are meant to make us think about spaces and how we interact in them, rather than be given definite answers. (NR)
––– Address: http://www.ilkmusic.com
DUNCAN HARRISON/IAN MURPHY – SLOW LIGHTNING (LP by Sham Repro)
Although I am not entirely sure, this might be my introduction to these two musicians. Ian Murphy has no releases to his name other than this LP (but uses aliases as Carefree Eturnum, Hobo Sonn, Ohndeas Phadeas) and his real name is Ian Francis Keye Murphy. Harrison is from Brighton and has some releases on labels such as Beartown, Chocolate Monk, Reckno, Index Clean, Spricht Editions and Research Laboratories. This is the second release by Sham Repro, following a rather obscure debut release, a CDR by Sten Hanson and Tomita (of which I couldn't say if it was a joke or a bootleg). This looks all like a proper release, full-colour cover. The information, however, leaves something to ponder over in terms of who does what. My best guess is that it is a split LP, but that both gentlemen add sounds to the music of the other. There is some wonderfully curious music to be found in this record, which easily defies many genres. The easy way out, for me, would be to say this is outsider music; it is improvised music without too many instruments, it is sound poetry without too many words (yet also not entirely absent) and field recordings made in non-all too exotic places; garden, kitchen, supermarket. All of this is cut together, separated, dissected, and that touch of electronics proofs me there is more to the eye than two artists throwing together some sounds and cobbling these together. Whatever is to be found in here that is a musical instrument is something that seems to me rather accidental. "Oh, look, there is a piano, let's play it for a few seconds", and then those can be found in here somewhere. I am reminded of some Ultra Eczema releases, in which performance meets music meets weirdness and vague music. The differences are a bit in the details. Harrison delivers a bit more musical perspective in his work, using a broad pallet of sound sources, whereas Ian Murphy is a bit more noise-based and uses at times various bits of turntablism, scratchy records mostly, and the noise end of field recordings. It is less refined than Harrison, but it's evident that there is some crossover influence with both players. The more I played this record, the more it grew on me. Lots of some details buried in here came to the foreground and gave the album more depth. Great! (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.shamrepro.com/
SERGIO ZEVALLOS - ATEM: PIEZAS PARA ACCIONES E INSTALACIONES (1999-2019) (LP by Buh Records)
CHRISTIAN KOBI - CATHEDRAL (LP by Buh Records)
MAKOTO KAWABATA, RICHARD PINHAS, MANONGO MUJICA, JUAN LUIS PEREIRA, HIROSHI HIGASHI - ALTURAS (LP by Buh Records)
It has been a couple of years that I reviewed a bunch of CD and CDR releases by Peruvian Buh Records, but not much beyond. I do know they didn't cease to exist as for whatever reason I am on their mailing list and much to my delight they release tons and tons of records, mostly by people I have not heard of; someone such as Sergio Zevallos, originally from Peru but since 1989 based in Berlin. He was a member of "the Chaclacayo Group, one of the most radical artist collectives in Peru, dedicated to performance art." Voices play an important role in his work, as indicated by the title, which is German for 'breath'). He is, however, not a sound poet, per se. He also works with the voice of other people, planned and unplanned. The six pieces on this record cover twenty years and were composed for performances and installations. Of course, there is the visual element that is missing here, but I must say that what I hear is so strong that it easily guarantees an LP release by itself. There are quite a variety of approaches to be noted in these pieces. The title piece is just that, the sound of breathing, but it seemed to be on a loop and different segments as such. It can be fragments of sound, stuck together and creating a wonderful homogenous pattern. Something he does in 'Cello', the only piece with no voice. In both parts of 'Callejon Oscuro', there is a vast collection of found spoken word (I believe that to be) and the best piece of the record is 'CHTP No. 3'. Here the voice is cut really short, looped in a Steve Reich-like phase-shifting but during playback, sounds get cut shorter or made longer, and it makes a wonderful piece; it sounded like the tower of babel. I thought to hear Dutch in there!
Christian Kobi plays the saxophone, and we reviewed some of his work before (Vital Weekly 913, 1099 and 1103). He collaborated with Phill Niblock, Jürg Frey, Taku Sugimoto, and Keith Rowe. 'Cathedral' is the third and final part in a trilogy, following 'Canto' (2010) and 'Rawlines' (2013), both not reviewed in these pages. This album was not recorded in a cathedral but in "the former Swisscom high-bay warehouse - probably the largest underground space in Bern", and probably a place with a reverb that sounds like a cathedral. Yet, that is not what this album is about; the whole 'play one note and let it die in an endless sustain before playing another one'. The music here is a case of 'close to the microphone' and playing delicate, small music. Space is not suggested here by the physical space, but rather space between the notes. Not always (near) quiet, but rather the suggestion of silence. The saxophone is not always easy to recognize, as I would think there is also some kind of electronics in use here (on Side B) mostly, but, who knows, this might be Kobi's playing? Amplification is something that he does use and feedback is a sure thing here. It adds a sharp edge to the saxophone, even when it is still quite delicate; just don't play the record at full volume I think. My copy had a few crackles the second time I played it, which seemed the downside of the fact that not all quiet music easily translates to vinyl (there is also a CD version of this available from the same label). Not quite 'easy' music, this is not a record that easily lets you inside. This is something that needs attention and concentration before it decides to show it's beauty.
In November 2017 Richard Pinhas and Acid Mothers Temple played at the "Integraciones", a music festival in Lima. They were invited by mister Buh, also known as Luis Alvarado, for a recording session together along with local musicians Juan Luis Pereira, who played "Pututo, Moceño, Toyo, Violindo, Charango" and Manongo Mujica (Drum, Indian percussion, seeds). Richard Pinhas and Makoto Kawabata both played electric guitars and effects and Hirsohi Higashi synthesizer. 'Alturas' means 'heights' and maybe this reflects the Andes Mountains, the height of the music, or the high of whatever people consume during creation and/or playing of music. The session lasted a day and was later on mixed into six different pieces. Here we have two guitarists of spacious and spatial qualities playing together, like duelling banjos in the sky, but along with that, there is a lot more happening. There is some fine rock drumming off and on, there is that fine flavour of exotic instruments and in there, the synth makes a few waves and ripples, but most of the time just adding further to the expansion the spacious meanderings of all players, but foremostly the two men and their guitars. I am, probably, not the biggest Acid Mothers temple fan but what I hear on this record, this curious form of world music (France, Peru, Japan; that's quite some around the world trip) I find particular gorgeous. Not the endless riffing and jamming but open, playful, spacious and yet also treading upon the darker and noisier ground from time to time. All of that makes a lovely varied record, a document of five very talented musicians locked up one day in a studio. (FdW)
––– Address: https://buhrecords.bandcamp.com/
SUN STABBED - IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI (LP by Doubtful Sounds)
Over the years I reviewed quite a few releases by this French label and many of these are in the realm of noise, improvisation and guitar, usually in combination with each other. From Sun Stabbed I reviewed some previous releases (Vital Weekly 637, 773 and 1095) and now the duo of Pierre Faure and Thierry Monnier return with a massive new album. They are armed with "guitars, effects, amps" and deliver three long pieces, with long titles. 'Le Soleil Couchant De Cette Cite Laissait Quelques Lueurs' takes up all the first side, while 'La sensation de l'écoulement du temps' and 'Voilà Donc Une Civilisation Qui Brûle, Chavire Et S'enfonce Toute Entière' on the second side. Sun Stabbed plays drone music. That is what it is, and they have their particular take on the genre. I am not a guitarist myself, so what do I know in this particular case of producing drone music? I do, however, think that this is not a case of using a variety of loop pedals and loops sounds, but rather picking up frequencies with guitars and amplifiers in the recording area, maybe using an E-bow, and picking up the sound with a bunch of microphones, using the recording area as a separate element of the music. As said, Doubtful Sounds, deal mostly with noise, and Sun Stabbed is no stranger, but their music is not exclusively about noise. Only 'Voilà Donc Une Civilisation Qui Brûle, Chavire Et S'enfonce Toute Entière' is all about noise; the other two are about atmospheres and these are moody and dark but don't play the harsh card that much. The intensity here is on a different level, one that doesn't slap you in the face but crawls under your skin. Loud music, but it is also to be played loud and fully immerse the listener. It is loud, but not to annoy the listener, but it acts like massive waves washing up on the shores. Cascading drone music! This is simply great stuff. (FdW)
––– Address: https://doubtful-sounds.bandcamp.com/
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - HIREATH/THE DARK SIDE OF THE DAMPFNUDEL (12" by Clockwork Tapes/Wenn Das Der Führer Wüsste Records)
A picture disc! You don't see many of these around, but certainly not like this. The 12" has a small ring of vinyl grooves and then an image stuck on the record, so it's not your traditional picture disc. I suspect this to be a lathe cut, certainly seeing there are only 44 copies. Doc Wör Mirran is in the big band mode, with Joseph B. Raimond, Adrian Gormley, Michael Wurzer, Stefan Schweiger, Slex Kammerer and Reinhard Bauer; the latter on one track only as he plays the bagpipes. They call this their 'progressive punk' line up. The saxophone, courtesy of Gormley, plays an important role on 'Hireath', adding a particular jazzy flavour to the song, which seems a very lighthearted experience, almost joyful, with the band joyous playing. 'The Dark Side Of The Dampfnudel' is on the other side and the bagpipes add a melancholic touch to the music. Here, the Mirrans are introspective, slowly building their piece, with Kammerer's bass in an equally important role. A moody song, if you will, but I don't know what a 'dampfnudel' is - steamed noodles, anyone? All together this record is about twelve minutes and at that, it is way, way too short. After many experimental sounds during this day, I was ready for some progressive punk, I guess. Quite a lovely item from the always surprising Doc Wör Mirran. (FdW)
––– Address: <email@example.com>
NIGEL SAMWAYS - TEMANI (cassette by Sounds Against Humanity)
It's been quite a while since I last reviewed new music by Nigel Samways, but looking at his Bandcamp page, he remains busy as ever. His latest work is called 'Temani', which might be Indonesian for 'accompany'. But on his Bandcamp page it says "military tunnels deep under the hills and bright sunlit harbour. Recordings made in Karasucho, Japan and Portsdown, England 2019-20", and I consider 'Temani' can also mean 'tunnels' (for no particular reason!). The title piece takes up the whole of the first side and on the second side, there are three shorter pieces. Samways is one of the many composers who work at the busy crossroad of field recordings, lo-fi means, computer processing, cheap electronics and Walkman/Dictaphone abuse. There is certainly a tunnel-like quality to these recordings. In all my romantic notion I would think that Samways goes to tunnels, underpasses, fly-overs and such hollow space, to playback his sounds, armed with a small portable mixer, a Walkman or two and maybe a small, portable synth and uses these spaces for playback and recording. Whatever else happens around such a place, say a passing car, is considered a happy accident (although that doesn't happen a lot; it might very well be my romantic notion acting up again). All of this is recorded and brought back home and various of such events stuck together and make up dense patterns of field recordings. There is a fine cruder form of drone music to be spotted in these pages, but the focus is on the overall picture. The drones play a small role and there is always something new happening, disparate sounds coming and going in this rather busy world. A not so subtle yet delicate dark atmosphere is created, and it works damn fine. I should brush up my knowledge of all those works I missed out upon. (FdW)
––– Address: https://soundsagainsthumanity.bandcamp.com/