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MARKO SUORSA - ANSTRAKTIA VILIHDETTÄ (CD by Ruoto) *
SKY BURIAL - STATIONS OF THE SUN (CD by Opa Loka Records) *
MICROTUB - SONIC DRIFT (CD by Sofa Music) *
NEUMANN / GUTVIK / HÅKER FLATEN / NILSSEN-LOVE – NEW DANCE (CD by PNL Records)
THE WORKERS – ALTBÜRON (CD by Wide Ear Records) *
VONNEGUT ENSEMBLE – 48 HOURS (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
HONEY HELL - UNTITLED EP '19/'20 (CDR by Bli.de. House & Rec) *
MURMUR METAL - MAELSTRÖM (CD by Circum Disc) *
PETER ORINS - VRTN & VBRTN (CD by Circum Disc) *
ADOCT - OUVRE-GLACE (CD by Circum Disc) *
BANAUSOI - IMAGINES (CD by Circum Disc) *
ENNO VELTHUYS - GLIMPSE OF LIGHT (LP by Dead Mind Records) *
HANS VAN ECK - BLIND AREA (LP by Dead Mind Records) *
MARIO MARZIDOVSEK - BRUTAL ALTER MINIMAL (LP by Dead Mind Records) *
JUNKO & CRIS EX - ISOLATION (lath-cut 7” by CX Records) *
MAYUKO HINO - PERFORMANCE AT CLUB FUCK IN LA (DVD by CX Records)
RYTMIKSTR & _R_K_ - SPILT RYTMIKSTR & _R_K_* (CDR by Magnesia Nova) *
IAN WILLIAMS - ALL BECOMES DESERT (CDR by Slaughterback) *
RYOSUKE KIYASU - CONTINUE AS THOUGH IT WERE FLOWING WATER (CDR by Magnesia Nova) *
MATT ATKINS & JONATHAN DEASY - LIKE DUST ON A MIRROR'S SURFACE (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings) *
KINDRED SPIRITS - YHE NIGHT SHIFTS (CDR by (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings) *
EXPOSE YOUR EYES & TERRITORIAL GOBBING - CUT VERSIONS (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings) *
MICHEL BANABILA & JACOBUS DERWORT & HANYO VAN OOSTEROM - RED TAPE (cassette by Staalplaat) *
KATACOMBE VOLUME 3 (cassette compilation by Korm Plastics D)
RETE - TEMPORAL (cassettes by Dasa Tapes) *
MODELBAU - ESCAPE CLAUSE (cassette by Dead Hound Records) *
MODELBAU - SENDERFOLGE (cassette by Universaal Kunst) *
ORPHAX/MODELBAU (split cassette by Invisible City Records) *
MARKO SUORSA - ANSTRAKTIA VILIHDETTÄ (CD by Ruoto)
In the letter that came with this release, Marko Suorsa wrote: "track names and album title is in Finnish, hopefully, it's ok?" What can I say? No, it's not? Suorsa (1977) is a composer of electro-acoustic music and studied at the Oulu Conservatory and one half of the duo SMDP (see Vital Weekly 1123). There are three pieces here, 'Kompositio' ('composition'), 'Haavoja' ('wounds') and 'Verstas' (workshop), and the first has three parts. For that, he uses the "Spiral Generator VST synthesizer" and "Tasty Chips GR-1 Granular Synthesizer" and the sound of a rusty door hinge; and maybe something else, as he writes that he has four hours of the source material. Hence, the three parts, each composed linearly from beginning to end in thirty-second segments. The door hinge is something you hear occasionally, but throughout the material is firmly bend and re-shaped, so nothing much remains of the original sounds. The music moves nervous, busy and hectic in all three parts and reminded me of Gintas K. Laptop music if the Tasty Chips wasn't a laptop (I looked it up). In the other two pieces, he uses sounds from a carpenter's workshop and one of which the origins are not revealed, but these are versions of pieces he composed in 2004 when in the conservatory. These are a bit more traditional in terms of musique concrète, even when this could be also more traditional laptop music, especially in 'Haavoja'. The carpenter sounds in 'Cerstas' I thought were most enjoyable. Here the machines and hammering are used to great effect, and it becomes almost a collage of field recordings, but upon further inspection, one realizes there is also a firm amount of sound processing going. Maybe that was the piece I enjoyed most, but throughout it was all quite pleasant. Not too academic, not too serious. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.markosuorsa.com
SKY BURIAL - STATIONS OF THE SUN (CD by Opa Loka Records)
Michael Page has promoted, so it seems, Sky Burial as his main musical project. I believe Fire In The Head, at one point, has that role. The pieces on this new release were inspired by travelling through Europe, the Middle East and North Africa in the spring of 2020. "The five tracks form a ritual soundtrack to a journey which became an inadvertent pilgrimage to view the rising and setting of the sun from ancient sites of historical significance". You would think that these compositions were named after these sites, but instead, they are called 'Stations Of The Sun I-V', which I would think is an opportunity missed. With Sky Burial, Page pays homage to the music of the late 70s and early 80s, when industrial music first started and when some of that was a continuation of the earlier cosmic music; well, the more adventurous kind that is. Listening to his music, I can't help but think that much of what Sky Burial is something that happened a bit later when industrial and ambient merged into what is sometimes called ambient industrial music, as what Sky Burial doesn't have much to do with the old school industrial music and also not with cosmic music. In these five pieces, ranging from five to sixteen minutes, Sky Burial has excellent pieces of moody music, made with shimmering electronics, overtones, voices, piano and, in 'Stations Of The Sun 3', a slow meandering drum pattern, which in the s. Music that reminded me of Zoviet*France, maybe from the late 80s and early 90s, but with a more collage-like aspect to it, and a bit less psychedelic. More organization, perhaps? The synthesizer treatments of field recordings in 'Stations Of The Sun 1', along with the loose percussive elements, is maybe the only 'noisy' piece, but even then: hardly so. I enjoyed all of this quite a bit, as it is the kind of music I enjoy quite a lot, for many years. This is another consistent high-quality record from Sky Burial. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.opa-loka-records.com/
MICROTUB - SONIC DRIFT (CD by Sofa Music)
'Sonic Drift' is the fifth album by Microtub, but only the second I hear (see also Vital Weekly 1065). This is a trio of tuba players, Robin Hayward 'microtonal C tuba' and Martin Taxt and Pede Simonsen on a 'microtonal C tuba'; on one of the two pieces, Simonsen also plays modular synth. Like the previous release I heard from them, this is a rather short album, twenty-seven minutes, but maybe this is an appropriate length for such not easy music. The tuba is an instrument that is low in the frequency range, and now you get that tripled. The title piece was composed for a festival in a water tower, with a long reverb, but the recording here was made in a studio. It "drifts and rotates through 'neutral; harmonies based on the 11th, 13th and 29th harmonics and subharmonics contained within the microtonal tuba tunings", which might mean something to someone, I guess, The other one "uses multiples of the 7th and 11th partials to create detuned perfect fifths and fourths, along with the unusual flattened minor third '169:144'", for which I could add the same. The modular sounds are along similar low lines as the tuba, but surely the sound is even richer here. In both pieces sounds seem to intertwine slowly and steadily, playing a minimal yet rich field of sound. All of this sounds very dense. Before I referred Phill Niblock, which I still think is valid here, but the interaction aspect and live recording feeling this music has, the waning of tones if you want, makes it also a bit different. I found this to be quite 'heavy' music, not easy to access, and it took a while before I found its great beauty. Maybe I was distracted too much, maybe it had a different reason, but once unlocked, I enjoyed it a lot. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.sofamusic.no/
NEUMANN / GUTVIK / HÅKER FLATEN / NILSSEN-LOVE – NEW DANCE (CD by PNL RECORDS)
In 2019 Paal Nilssen-Love released a box of recordings by The Quintet, with recordings dating from the late 90s. This release after so many years indicates that This quintet must be of special importance for Nilssen-Love. And that is so because it was meeting of two generations of Norvegian improvisers: Carl Magnus Neumann and Bjørnar Andresen of the elder generation and the new talents Paal Nilssen-Love, Ketil Gutvik and Eivind Opsvik. Andresen passed away, nonetheless, Nilssen-Love wanted to continue the fruitful chemistry of this combination. ‘New Dance’ is the latest effort in this line. Again with veteran Neumann (alto saxophone) with Gutvik (acoustic and electric guitars) and Nilssen-Love (drums, percussion) and with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (double bass) as a new participator. In four improvisations they work out their ideas. The title piece ‘New Dance’ is the most lengthy one, opening with a drum solo by Nilssen-Love followed by sections that change in dynamics. Moving from very quiet to full-energy, with inspired patterns and phrases by Neumann, and with very distinctive guitar playing by Gutvik who is new to me. He has a great distorted and twangy guitar style and sound. Later a section of a deep resonating double bass is to be enjoyed. ‘Det Er Kjærlighet‘ opens with a delicate and beautiful solo by Flaten on double bass before a section starts of dynamic interplay by all four. Nearing the end it is Gutvik on acoustic guitar who leads us into more subtle and territories with his melodic patterns. ‘Dett var Dett’ is a swirling and driving improvisation, propelled forward by the full-energy drumming by Paal Nilssen- Love. An impressive set, recorded live in concert at Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo, Norway, July 9th 2020. (DM)
––– Address: https://pnlrecords.bandcamp.com/
THE WORKERS – ALTBÜRON (CD by Wide Ear Records)
Four experienced Swiss improvisers united as The Workers: Urs Leimgruber (soprano sax), Omri Ziegele (alto sax, voice, flute), Christian Weber (bass) and Alex Huber (drums). The veteran of the four is Leimgruber (1952) with Huber (1982) – one of the founders of the Wide Ear Records - as the youngest member. They present their debut album, containing a live recorded set on a day in October 2019 at Bau 4 in Altbüron, which explains the title. They offer one long extended improvisation taking - 43 minutes - with equal involvement of all four.
An engaging intergenerational meeting of four great improvisers. The improvisation starts very quietly with deep and long-extended sound-dominated sonorities. Only after a few minutes, the opening episode makes place for more interactive movements with sax with a penetrating and sound in the forefront. Also, the battles between the two saxophones that follow are intense. Surprising is the spoken words by Ziegele that are well integrated into the improvisation. Halfway the interaction becomes more quiet and friendly with an eastern-flavoured flute playing by Ziegele in an inspired interaction with Leimgruber on sax. Along the way in this very open improvisation, the players show many sides of their technical possibilities, involved in strong and open communication with another they follow their intuitions without reserve. (DM)
––– Address: https://www.wideearrecords.ch/
VONNEGUT ENSEMBLE – 48 HOURS (CD by Moving Furniture Records)
A third release in the MFR Contemporary Series of Moving Furniture. After releases by Alvin Curran and Renier van Houdt and one by Elliott Sharp, the label now presents the debut album by the Vonnegut Ensemble, performing ’48 Hours’ by Tullis Rennie and ‘Piano Quintet’ by Thomas Adès. The Vonnegut Ensemble is a collective from Manchester, specialized in performing modern composed music, formed in 2015 by two members of the BBC Philharmonic Ensemble. Thomas Adès is one of the most important modern composers coming from the UK. He studied piano and composition. He composed several operas, ‘Powder Face’, ‘The Tempest’ and ‘The Exterminating Angel’ that received good reviews. Like his orchestral work ‘Asyla’. He collaborated with the Dutch Concertgebouw-Orkest that performs his compositions since 1995. Now we are talking of a composition of chamber music. ‘Piano Quintet’ was written in 2001 and premiered by Arditti Quartet and Adès himself on piano. It is an intriguing work with many compelling moments. It turns out to be in the good hands by the Vonnegut Ensemble as this recording makes clear. After a short frivolous opening by violin, the music soon transforms into something else. In a way, the music is accessible, built from melodic material that is rooted in the classic tradition. Nevertheless, the way Ades treats this material makes it a strange affair. It is not easy to find a grip on what is happening here. And that makes this a fascinating work. It is as if the music continuously shifts and moves, generating imaginative contrasts. It is a very dynamic and powerful work, performed with verve and intensity by the ensemble. For sure a composition with a very own identity. The rehearsals for the ‘Piano Quintet’ took 48 hours. The composition ’48 Hours’ by Tellis refers very specifically to these same 48 hours: “48 Hours features excerpts of phrases, sounds and conversations recorded during the rehearsal period for the Adès Piano Quintet, interwoven with improvised interpretations of a new graphic score for the quintet, combined with trumpet and electronics to create a unique sound-scape, part performance, part installation, a new and innovative piece.” Tellis - a composer, improvising trombonist, electronic musician and field recordist - worked with Vonnegut Ensemble from the start. He is also involved in audio-visual projects, like his work with visual artist Laurie Nouchka and his participation in the Barcelona-based collective Insectotròpics.’48 Hours’ is his latest of several projects he realized with the Vonnegut Ensemble. He was commissioned by the ensemble to compose a work that reflects the rehearsing process, the struggle for making a composition come to life. An unusual perspective and starting point for creating new work. Whereas ‘Piano Quintet’ is an undivided 22-minute composition, ’48 Hours’ is compiled from eight sections and composed along very different lines. Flashes of conversation by the performers pass by, which has them reflecting on the rehearsal process. We hear parts are from the original composition, other parts however differ from ‘Piano Quintet’ like the drone-like sections in ‘Harmonics III’. Several parts have a trumpet delivering improvised comments and additions. The Vonnegut Ensemble make an impressive first statement especially in their performance of ‘Piano Quintet’ in an original combination with ’48 Hours’. (DM)
––– Address: https://www.movingfurniturerecords.com/
HONEY HELL - UNTITLED EP '19/'20 (CDR by Bli.de. House & Rec)
This is a slightly confusing release from Paolo Ielasi. It appears on his Bandcamp with six tracks, on the CD it's five, but only three have a title and some vague credit for what may seem a live recording (maybe two?). On Bandcamp listed as by Paolo Cosa Vostra Ielasi, but the CD as Honey Hell. I go by the cover here. The previous release was under the name Cosa Vostra and quite a different release from the previous ones by Ielasi, but this one sees, more or less, a return to the music we know from him and that is the minimalist modular synthesizer music from before, except for the opening piece, which evolves around a looped voice and feeding through a modular system. The other four pieces are minimalist affairs of droning modular electronics, with a great shimmering, moody character. Here too, I was thinking there might be something looped, but maybe it's all linear played? This is late-night ambient music, the album you play before you go to sleep, as an afterthought of a busy day. When daylight has faded, you have a soundtrack for the first dark hours, a tranquillity base if you want. Ielasi plays a shimmering melody in the final piece, which seems to be a fitting end to the day. Of course, one is free to disagree and take the images of water on the cover and interpret the music as a soundtrack for a nature trip, rowing along green shores and have this mellow soundtrack playing. Postmodern as it may sound: that too is of course a possibility. The grainy, somewhat lo-fi music of Honey Hell fits many purposes, I would think. Quite beautiful, again! (FdW)
––– Address: https://paoloielasi.bandcamp.com/
MURMUR METAL - MAELSTRÖM (CD by Circum Disc)
PETER ORINS - VRTN & VBRTN (CD by Circum Disc)
ADOCT - OUVRE-GLACE (CD by Circum Disc)
BANAUSOI - IMAGINES (CD by Circum Disc)
These four new releases by the French Circum Disc label show us the wide musical territory they cover. I go through them from the one I think is the most Vital Weekly to the one least, but still firmly in our field of interest. Behind Murmur Metal we find David Bausseron, who since 2010 uses metal from the dumpster of a metal factory in the Vallee du bout du Monde in Thiers. They are named in French on the cover, but I think include halogen lamps, rods, tin boxes and plates. He also uses electric guitar and electronics, even when these are not easy to hear in the three pieces on this disc. Murmur Metal crafted his skills in installation work, interactive street performances and noisy concerts. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the metal is not used to bang around rhythmically, anything from that horrible Stomp group to Z'EV and Neubauten, but that the metallic surfaces are explored for their sonic qualities and proportions, by rubbing them with objects (other metal most likely), which results in something that more akin to the great French tradition of musique concrète (and yes, I am aware that Z'EV also did such works sometimes). Listening to these three pieces (all called 'Maelström') I have no idea to what extent this music is the result of editing and layering or if this is perhaps a live recording. The liner notes are not clear on this. Whatever it is, it works very well. It is massive in little sounds, crawling alongside each other (hence my thought of this being layered), mysterious and spooky. It sounds like being inside that metal factory for a week, with 8 hours a day, five days of recordings compressed to forty-four minutes of music, with the listener walking around the place, so that the sound never stays the same. At times this form of musique concrète sounds very much like industrial music and this is an excellent release.
Peter Orins is a drummer (among others with TOC and, as we will see with Adoct) and has been reviewed quite a bit on these pages. This new release is an extension of a previous release, 'Happened By Accident' (see Vital Weekly 1177), in which he uses the skins of his drums as a resonator of "various objects, wood, metal, glass and the preponderance of the unexpected, by introducing accidents and interactions". He also uses Pure data software, adding more happy accidents to the music. 'VRTN' uses drums and electronics, and 'VBRTN" uses three floor toms, three cymbals and three wood sticks. A small stick is used between cymbal and floor tom, makes that playing the cymbal also causes the floor tom to vibrate, whereas in 'VRTN" the electronic have the same effect. In that piece, the longest of the two, the sound is minimal, but it has a lot of small variations. I would think these are created by the various objects on the skins or the variations created by the electronics, which makes this an odd affair of improvised music meeting noisy electronics and yet remaining also on the minimal side things. 'VRTN', however, is way more minimal than that. It slowly builds from a few tones and overtones to a cascade of the sound of sustaining percussive sounds. I have a slight preference for this piece of the other, but I enjoyed both quite a bit all the same.
Adoct is the five-piece group with Orins is playing the drums and furthermore, we have Sakina Abdou (saxophone, recorder), Barbara Dang (piano), Ivann Cryz (acoustic guitar) and Jeremie Ternoy (piano). They are two different trios working together at the end of the difficult year that was last year, and it was to be with the audience, but it wasn't to be in the end. The venue this took place in has two pianos which make this, perhaps, a somewhat unusual line-up. Six pieces, and in total seventy-six minutes of music; one can almost hear the relief these improvisers have to finally be able to play together again. These musicians are a free improvisation modus here, playing and interacting together excellently. There is an overall smooth and elegant playing going on here; maybe the result of having two pianos in action here? The music veers towards jazz, at least as far as my limited knowledge of such things goes, with lovely chords and (un-) structures that these five players have going among them. Especially when Abdou picks up the saxophone it certainly starts to get jazzy. I played this on one of those afternoons that were quiet in terms of other activities; not much email, nobody phoned and no social media interaction, and it turns out this caused a rather tranquil mood for me in which the spacious free jazzy notes were well-received by me
Banausoi is a Czech-Slavok trio with Petr Vrba (trumpet, clarinet, electronics), Vaclav Safka (drums, percussions, objects) and Ondrej Zajac (guitar, voice), which may seem a traditional line-up, their music is at times rocking out and at other times fairly traditional free jazz. Here is where rock meets (free) jazz, but also there are some interesting sustaining moments here. In the opening piece 'Aeneas Tacticus', for instance, the wind instruments, feeding through some lengthy delay modules, offering an additional layer of space, until the drums start to play wilder patterns, signalling the end of the piece. 'Gorgoeion' is an example of their heavy rock meets total free improvisation. But they also know to control the chaos, engage in a playful discussion between their instruments and leaving space in between notes (in 'Periegesis' for instance). It is pieces like that made me enjoy this more traditional free play. I tend to think, alright, we know this free play all too well, let's move on to something we don't know and then Banausoi seems to have heard me and comply with my request. I didn't keep an exact tally of what is what here, but I would think the total free pieces are in a minority here, which is ultimately good news for me. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.circum-disc.com/
ENNO VELTHUYS - GLIMPSE OF LIGHT (LP by Dead Mind Records)
HANS VAN ECK - BLIND AREA (LP by Dead Mind Records)
MARIO MARZIDOVSEK - BRUTAL ALTER MINIMAL (LP by Dead Mind Records)
Ever since a certain blog posted the releases from Dutch ambient musician Enno Velthuys in 2008-2009, there has been a fierce competition to re-issue these cassettes. Because of my previous involvement with the cottage industry of cassettes in the 80s, I was asked from various sides where Velthuys could be reached. But sadly, Velthuys died in 2009, so any rights were with his mother (his father, Max, was the world-famous author of the children books with Frog, but passed away in 2005). So, for years I 'helped' where I could, and much to my surprise it still took until now for any re-issue to materialize. 'Glimpse Of Light' was first released was the second release by Velthuys on cassette, in 1984, by Exart Records, the label of Hessel Veldman (Y Create/Gorgonzola Legs), and these days keeper of the Velthuys archive, along with the Willem de Ridder. Much to my surprise, this LP is released by Dead Mind Records, who I associated with noise music. That is something that is not Velthuys. These pieces are very carefully constructed synthesizer pieces, modest and intimate, with likewise carefully placed piano notes, a dash of delay and much tranquillity in the music. Whenever I am ranting about ambient and the difference between ambient and new age, then it is usually to indicate the difference in smoothness and roughness. In the music of Velthuys you will only find smoothness, and certainly, this leads towards the new age thing. I always realized this, ever since first hearing his music in the 1980s. And yet, there is something very attractive about his music, even for someone who is allergic to new age music that I find me drawn to this. I don't know if it is the fragile state of the music or the fact that this was one of the very few ambient cassettes I had in the 80s, and so I am drawn to them over and over? I have no idea. Two minor points of criticism; I am not sure if such fragile works best on vinyl, and what will happen with the three tracks missing from the original cassette release? If you want to treat yourself to some excellent warm ambient bath, then look no further and discover the music of Velthuys. He made eight cassettes during his lifetime; so let's hope the rest will also be re-issued.
The second re-issue is a much bigger surprise. When the Velthuys release might be something that I consider high in demand by many, I wonder how many people would go "ah great, finally 'Blind Area' by Hans van Eck on vinyl". I know it may come as snobbish or elitism, but I am one of those people, and, again, mainly because in the 80s I owned the cassette version of this record, as released by Decay Int. Back then I was also pleasantly surprised by this release as it stood out from the many industrial music releases that I also had. It was around that time in the mid-80s that we 'discovered' the roots of industrial music, the original fifties and sixties musique concrète and electronic music, and for me 'Blind Area' fitted right into that. Here too we are dealing with a slightly different release, as the original cassette is 80 minutes (when CDRs came around, this was the one I transferred to CDR for easier listening). From the original cassette we have two parts of 'Fantasia' (the third not here), and 'Aeterna', 'Doctor Faustus' is also missing, but instead, we get two pieces from 1995-2020, 'Openings' and 'Endings'. I believe that the original pieces were composed in his formative years and the latter two are used in the concerts of the Schreck Ensemble of which Van Eck is one of the founders. I already wrote how much I liked 'Blind Area' (Vital Weekly 679) when I discussed a new release by him. Furthermore, I must admit that due to all the new music I keep hearing, I hadn't heard 'Blind area' in quite some time (CDR misplaced too), but now that I am hearing it again, I still enjoy the music quite a bit. It has all the makings of an excellent musique concrète record and Van Eck certainly has his own voice here. His music has in general a slow development and uses quite a bit of sustaining tones, which one could call ambient-like drones and shorter electronic sounds swirl in and out of the mix. It has a relaxing quality, but at the same time also sounds quite a bit spooky, such as the voices in 'Fantasia I Mythologique', or the treatments of the bass clarinet. The use of reverb here adds to the spookiness of the music.
The final new release by Dead Mind is also a re-issue, with various tracks from two different cassettes by Mario Marzidovsek, the Yugoslavian composer from Maribor, who passed away in 2011. I had the pleasure of this man a couple of times, who had wild visions about records he wanted to release. In the 90s I lost contact with him, and I more or less forgot much about him. Much to my surprise, I see there are various re-issues of his works. I am not sure if I heard the two cassettes, which are subject to this LP, grazed with cover artwork by Peter Zincken, of Odal fame and which I think looks great. As said, I haven't heard his music in a long time, so effectively very little idea of how it sounded. Marzidovsek's music is electronic with ties to the world of industrial music, via rhythms and noise, but somehow lacks the impact that for instance Esplendor Geometrico had. The quality of Marzidovsek's music lies herein that with minimal means, I'd say one synth, one drum machine, tape-loops and radio waves he weaves together a fine set of proto-industrial soundscapes that are most enjoyable to hear for as long as this record lasts and these are fine examples of what the 80s had to offer in the world of cassettes that you didn't hear yet through massive box sets; Marzdivosek's music is great for an LP, but one of those that don't warrant a full box set treatment. Still a worthwhile re-issue, I would think. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.blutistzeit.nl/
JUNKO & CRIS EX - ISOLATION (lath-cut 7” by CX Records)
MAYUKO HINO - PERFORMANCE AT CLUB FUCK IN LA (DVD by CX Records)
Christiano Luciani is Cris Ex (formerly known as Cris X), an Italian artist whose recorded work is almost entirely collaborative, frequently with Japanese musicians. He’s performed and recorded with Merzbow, KK Null, Keiko Higuchi and Kenji Siratori (but then again, who hasn’t collaborated with that guy? Is he even still around? Was he ever a real person or just a self-generating program? Can anyone say for sure? I suppose these are thoughts for another time). Luciani’s latest releases on his CX label also feature Japanese artists: a lathe-cut 7” of his collaboration with legendary Hijokaidan vocalist Junko and a DVD reissue of Mayuko Hino’s 1993 VHS “Performance at Club FUCK in LA”. The 7” is a quick blast of messy electronic blur topped with Junko’s eviscerating shriek. Both the instrumental and vocal elements of the music are well-produced, sharing equal weight in the mix… though Luciani admits that his collaborator’s high-pitched scream was a bit too much for a lathe-cut record to capture adequately, so he offers the recording as a stereo digital download as well. The three songs total about 5.5 minutes of sound, but they don’t require more time than that to make their point. Perfect for a 7” noise single.
The DVD is a very welcome remastered reissue of one of the classic early noise documents. Mayuko Hino was a founding member of CCCC, a band that was an essential and unique part of the Japanese noise story. I’ve written enough about CCCC (see Vital Weekly 1252) that I don’t need to repeat their history here, but suffice it to say that the band’s US tour in 1992 was a hugely galvanizing event. Hino’s signature performance at the time was a private-seeming ritual done in public; she would strip naked, don bondage gear and drip hot candle wax on herself while (then-husband) Hiroshi Hasegawa unleashed howls of synthesizer noise. Those who didn’t feel like showing up or were too far from a CCCC tour stop (or weren’t born yet) still heard about these shows. The original VHS came out on the band’s own Endorphine Factory label. I’m sure dodgy rips of it exist on YouTube, but this DVD provides a real service to history by remastering both the video and the sound, then appending a few more bonus videos. The main event is around 22 minutes long, filmed on a dark stage as Hino performs with light patterns projecting onto her slow movements. Sure, it has the limitations one might expect of an amateur-shot VHS document without professional sound recording or lighting, but it captures the atmosphere wonderfully. The first bonus track is a live performance by Astro, which is a duo of Hasegawa and violinist Hiroko, who is (after divorce from Hino) currently his wife… and that’s a strange choice to include on a video with Hino’s name on the cover, don’t you think? Were there no other tour documents or Hino solo performances that might have been included instead? It looks and sounds good, of course, but it’s a little jarring since this is a Mayuko Hino DVD and here’s a track that she’s not on… but her ex is. Weird. The next bonus track is a 2012 video by Go Shibata, which appears to have been created by painting directly onto film. It looks great. The soundtrack is credited to DFH-M3, which is essentially Mne-Mic (the post-CCCC duo of Mayuko Hino & Ranko Onishi) joined by Junko Hiroshige, and it’s exactly as ferocious as you might expect. Two screaming vocalists and unrelenting electric noise, non-stop blistering energy that’s a fitting accompaniment to the shifting colours, lines and textures of squiggly paint. I hope this group has more recordings planned because this one is a monster. The final track is the original, un-remastered Club Fuck performance, included for completists. It’s a great idea. Noise nerds can compare the remastered version to the original, which (for some reason) begins with several minutes of the camera recording the empty pre-show stage while some awful industrial crapola (Skinny Puppy? The Final Cut?) can be heard over the house PA. Seeing this makes it plain how cleaned-up and improved the new version is, surely worth preserving on DVD. (HS)
––– Address: https://crisex.bandcamp.com/
RYTMIKSTR & _R_K_ - SPILT RYTMIKSTR & _R_K_* (CDR by Magnesia Nova)
RytmiKstr has 4 tracks under the heading 'MaChinaski', RytmiKstr–201218_01 to 04 and _R_K_ has 4 tracks under the heading 'Harshišák Noise', _R_K_*–201223_01 to 04. 'RytmiKstr' - relates to a Czech military term, MaChinaski to 'machine'? Harshišák to Harsh and hash? RhytmKstr refers to 'The Good Soldier Švejk' an unfinished satirical dark comedy by Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek which has anti-war themes in addition to satirizing Habsburg authority, Hašek repeatedly sets out corruption and hypocrisy attributed to priests of the Catholic Church (thanks wiki!). The author of the pseudo-split projects/tracks is one Radek Kopel who was, amongst other things, part of Napalmed... The pieces were made using modular synths... (Well I hope I got that part right.) The two personalities of Radek Kopel present two different sets of tracks, though each set is closely related. The second set, 'Harshišák Noise' is harsh, the former more rhythmic and sparse, (track 3 being much denser with percussive frills...) the use of modular synths in both is fairly obvious, spare me the need for onomatopoeic 'whooshes' and 'squiggles' of sound! which are fairly well 'damaged' by the harsh noise in the Harshišák set. Contemporary Artworks have seen a revival in a certain political/critical approach, generally grouped under the term “Social Justice” - and though I wouldn't apply this here, there is an obvious interest in supra noise themes that are not captured in the works themselves, such as is in some Power Electronics. However, there are supra-thematic presidents in The Rita, and even Merzbow's Bloody Sea. For myself, the Harshišák set could have been a single piece, and how this relates to anything other than its baroque noise given the title Harshišák is difficult to see, unlike RhytmKstr's what I perceived as rhythmic patterns which could be heard as satirical pastiches of military rhythms. So very much a split? (jliat)
––– Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
IAN WILLIAMS - ALL BECOMES DESERT (CDR by Slaughterback)
At first, I thought this was just one of those CDR promo's that I get quite regularly over from the more 'serious' record labels, promoting their releases and with us, ungraciously, not accept. But before complaining, I looked this up on Ian William's Bandcamp page and sure enough, it says, 'Limited Edition Promotional CDR with Postcard. The promo CDR comes with a postcard of the original cover photo, shot on Kodak's legendary Aerochrome film by Ian Williams", and that is what I have in front of me. The previous release by Williams was 'The Dream Extortionists' (Vital Weekly 1236), which was not, in fact, his previous release, which was a download only. Williams was a member of the Beautiful Pea Green Boat and Bushido (whose small discography still didn't make it to a proper CD re-issue, sadly enough). Later he worked with a mixture of all sorts of styles ("Arabic, classical, techno, ambient"). This new release is more of an archival release, with five pieces he recorded in the early '90s on a Roland Juno 106, straight to digital audiotape. I understand that these pieces are now processed and expanded a bit. This is quite a bit different from the previous works I heard from Williams; less (modern) classical and for me connects to the music I was very much interested in around that time. Having 'discovered' ambient music through industrial music, and slowly before connecting to house music, there was this brief time when all-things synthesizer had my attention; especially it was both ambient and a bit 'dirty'. That is when industrial seriously toned down, and we calmed down. The five pieces are the soundtrack of that time and with 'Outback' already having that dirty bass line from house music, casting its shadows ahead. Williams plays long and ominous pieces of synthesizer music, chilling and chill-out. This is Klaus Schulze's nightmare music, I would think, the little brother trying his hands, but in the opening piece, 'Kalahari', beautifully drifting, reminding me of Chris Meloche and some early Pete Namlook music. Excellent music, this lot, very retro, perhaps, but still this is entirely my kind of music. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ianwilliams.bandcamp.com/
RYOSUKE KIYASU - CONTINUE AS THOUGH IT WERE FLOWING WATER (CDR by Magnesia Nova)
Ryosuke Kiyasu – described as a Japanese avant-garde drummer. I was cautious about attempting a review, as my knowledge of drumming is somewhat limited. However, my introduction to making music – as a painting student- was the VCS 3 in a sound lab, and a painting tutor Ron Smith who played improv jazz on bass clarinet and sax, sometimes both at once! He wanted some non-musicians to make percussion for him to play over, and I was one of 3 others. We had several gigs in Cornwall... and also played with John Tilbury and once with Ron and a 'real' drummer - Eddie Prévost... however meeting with “real” musicians was an enlightening experience as none were at all elitist, in fact, open to the incompetence and lack of both knowledge and experience of others interested in making sounds, not like those guitarist friends into a prog rock who spent hours tuning guitars and attempting complex riffs, no wonder punk had to come along. Such openness to all-comers in the then avant-garde is also to be found, or was, in noise, where famously skill was of no significance, nothing was! So what have we here as in this flowing water is certainly drumming but not as we (or I know it), beautifully noisy like rain or hail hitting a tin roof, the sounds pour down and around in a fluidity? Rhythms seem to appear, but do so organically, no TR-808 here! The natural and natural machinable analogies abound, as rhythms form over one another, live the sounds of railway trains... storms and winds, only to dissolve and regroup, all the time at light speed. Of course, there is a tradition of Japanese drumming not related to western music, in which the drumming itself is not a secondary rhythmic time-related device but fluent instrumentation in its own right. Originating in around 600 CE from China? I think Ryosuke Kiyasu uses a western snare drum, it certainly sounds higher-pitched than the traditional Taiko, but the approach to drumming seems to relate to the use of percussion as a primary source driving the sound structures, (with links, influences from Zen Buddhism.) may be lost in the western tradition until the avant-garde of Stravinsky and the influences of Eastern music, notably the Balinese Gamelan in 20th C western music. Central to this kind of drumming is, I think, proximity to nature, drumming relates to thunder or a waterfall, or the singing of cicadas, Ryosuke Kiyasu's work, for me, naturalizes noise within these organic contexts. (jliat)
––– Address: email@example.com
MATT ATKINS & JONATHAN DEASY - LIKE DUST ON A MIRROR'S SURFACE (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings)
KINDRED SPIRITS - YHE NIGHT SHIFTS (CDR by (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings)
EXPOSE YOUR EYES & TERRITORIAL GOBBING - CUT VERSIONS (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings)
The Japanese imprint Kirigirisu Recordings switched from cassettes to CDRs because they lost too much money on doing those. I started with the release by Matt Atkins and Jonatan Deasy, because I heard music from both before and in general admire their work; Atkins more than Deasy, of whom I heard only one release (Vital Weekly 1272). All around this new release is quite a surprise. Deasy played modular synthesizer on his first release, here he switched to guitar. Atkins takes credit for 'samples, processing and piano'. I heard quite a bit of Atkins' music, so I had an idea of how this would sound, but these expectations were not met at all. Which is a great thing. The label says that the title "is inspired by a quote from a book on Zen Buddhist meditation techniques; an allegory for tapping into the deeper stillness within and listening", which might tell us something about the music. This has nothing to do with small, hectic sounds, or lo-fi sound sources, but in two lengthy pieces, we hear long-form drone pieces. Whatever is used in terms of piano, guitar and samples, the part that does the processing is the biggest here. Maybe some sort of granular synthesis is playing that role, extending the sounds ad infinitum. These drones aren't static, far from it, everything is on a slow drift, spaciously moving about. This is not something I would expect Atkins to do, as a musical interest, but quite surprising that he does. This something along the lines of Jonathan Coleclough and his posse, and something I always enjoy hearing, and, perhaps, something I hadn't heard in some time.
Something entirely different is the music by Kindred Spirits, which "was A. Thaw", says the cover. Maybe this is his final release? (Discogs tell me he has five releases and A stands for Alistair). This is a mildly confusing release, I'd say, just the somewhat cryptic text on the Bandcamp page, including a Sylvia Plath poem. His other releases bear such titles as 'Unidentified Voice Objects', 'Various Patients Hearing Voices', and 'I Am A Known Killer Where They Come From' and the longest of the two tracks here 'The Numbness That Lies Beyond Hope, Despair, Terror And Heroics', which contains voices, which, for all I know, are taped from television and I didn't recognize the documentary it comes from. This might be something about insanity or terror and underneath there is a slowed-down voice, using a reel-to-reel recorder, which is also the source for the opening track, 'Anywhere Near It, or Not'. I must admit I have no idea what this is about. It sounds creepy and spooky for sure, but is this something one would want to hear a lot? I am not sure. This reminds me of those 'documentary' tapes labels such as Broken Flag would put out, and I didn't 'get' those either.
The third new release is a meeting between noise minds Territorial Gobbing and Expose Your Eyes, both no strangers to these pages. Each has its techniques, and it is interesting to see these works together here. You could argue, 'well, it is noise, it always works', but that is not always the case. Territorial Gobbing works with Dictaphones, cassettes and his voice, while Expose Your Eyes is a man of crude loops, analogue or digital and that results in some great noisy plunderphonics. None of the sounds is to be recognized, but there is a multitude of voices used and in all sorts of ways here, along with some contact microphone abuse, feedback from amplification and the rotating mechanisms of the loops. It is noise, but not just for the sake of playing as much distortion as possible, but by offering a lot of variations of what noise can be. The crude speeding up of tapes, the lo-fi sampling, and the mayhem this causes make up some wonderful album, all forty minutes long, and I'd say that is for me the right length. (FdW)
––– Address: https://kirigirisurecordings.bandcamp.com/
MICHEL BANABILA & JACOBUS DERWORT & HANYO VAN OOSTEROM - RED TAPE (cassette by Staalplaat)
Somewhere in the late 80s, a Dutch group by the name CHI published their only cassette, which was released a few later on the rather short-lived Container label (a sub-division of Staalplaat). I believe I heard the original back in the day when I was writing for a Dutch magazine, but I surely heard the CDs version. It was at the height of the ambient revival that swept the alternative music scene in the mid-90s. In 2016 there was another re-press, now on a double LP by Astral Industries. Although a floating membership, this cassette contains recordings from three members of CHI. I wasn't aware of any other work created by Van Oosterum, who had a string of releases, later on, all in the realm of ambient music, and Jacobus Derwort only had a few releases. He passed away in early 2019. Michel Banabila, I should think, hardly needs an introduction, as his music is to be found regularly in these pages, in a very wide definition of the word ambient music. Following the renewed interest in CHI in 2016, the three started to work together, with Banabila and Derwort creating loops and samples, partly to be used in live concerts but also with the idea of doing another album. With the death of Derwort that stopped and so what is left are the sketches that we find on this forty-minute cassette, with a lovely, almost red velvet, cover (the fabric, not the cake). Comparing these two sides (no individual titles) to the original CHI sound, one can easily see that these are session recordings, meandering about, and yet to be melted into a composition. The classic ingredients of CHI are there; flutes, percussion, bamboo sticks, rainmakers and other exotic instruments, all with that sufficient amount of electronic alienation that keeps this far away from the new age territories. I wouldn't know if this is the Banabila influence, or something more collectively tuned, but it works very well. At times, especially when the flutes are sounding, I was reminded of the early O Yuki Conjugate sound, which is a long-time favourite of mine. It has been a while since I last heard that old CHI release, but on this quiet day, it is next up for listening! Beautiful dark ambient, exotic and strange; just how I like them best. If this is the end for this combination than that is most sad. (FdW)
––– Address: https://staalplaat.bandcamp.com/album/red-tape
KATACOMBE VOLUME 3 (cassette compilation by Korm Plastics D)
Even when I write for the man's 'rag' (his words), I easily admit I have not much idea about Frans de Waard's musical past so when he asked me to review this, I spend some time looking things up. De Waard started with a booklet, De Nederlandse Cassette Catalogus (of which I reviewed the book version in Vital Weekly 1273), and shortly thereafter he started Korm Plastics and released a compilation cassette, the all-Dutch 'Katacombe Volume 3', and that included also his first track as Kapotte Muziek. The first two volumes were compiled and released by Graf Haufen on Schrei Records (co-releasing also volume 3). All of that in October 1984, thirty-seven years ago. I was a kid with no interest in this cassette network yet, and when interest came, I looked up various historical things, but somehow not this label. The 'Katacombe' series was all about noise and industrial music, I am told, but this compilation says something else. It is not the power electronics or harsh noise from say, Broken Flag or Japnoise. From the names here, I recognized De Fabriek (in recent years quite a bit of presence), Het Zweet, Y Create (also in the re-issue carousel these days) and De Waard's Kapotte Muziek (of which he wrote to me "I don't know to what extent KM still exists; we only play live and no-one ever invites us. The last time was four years ago"). The not-so industrial music here comes from Y Create, very spacious and trippy, De Fabriek's trumpet space, and Friends In Low Places with a slow thump of a beat. Beats are also produced by Drive, but a more early weird hip hop rhythm, Arthur Berkhoff's take on Esplendor Geometrico or the tribalism of Het Zweet (first one). Harsher noise comes from MTVS and Zombies Under Stress (both from Eindhoven). Het Zweet is more trance-like (in their second track) and Disturbed Life has a paranoia ballad. It all starts with Throw Me Your Finger who has a fine explosive Laibach treatment. Kapotte Muziek's piercing alarm clocks are a wake-up call to flip over the cassette, which looks very nice. Compared to the 1984 version, the industry has made a few improvements there; it looks great as well as it sounds great. A history lesson well-made. (LW)
––– Address: https://kormplasticsd.bandcamp.com/
RETE - TEMPORAL (cassettes by Dasa Tapes)
Dasa Tapes is a new label from Greece, run by Vassilis Liolios (from the group Eventless Plot) with three releases so far, of which I received the third. This contains music by Rete, a duo of the label boss (Objects, Revox a77, tapes, modular synth) and Savvas Metaxas (Synthesizer, Tape Loops, Voice). There is one piece here, on one side and repeated on the second; I have no idea why not two different sides. With the talents of Metaxas and Liolios one could think it is easy to do two sides? The fifteen minutes here have a fine collage approach when it comes to improvised music in combination with electro-acoustic sounds and musique concrète techniques, but with a fine sense of 'live jamming with electronic means'; and maybe, in a twisted way, one could say post-rock would fit this bill also. They carefully work their way through the sound material, even allowing for a looped rhythm that slowly expands and doubles. All of this is moody and quiet, with nothing that jumps out of the mix, or all too strange moves. This is music that drifts from place to place in such a way that is not too present or lively, but rather intimate and yet full of life. Fifteen minutes! Not nearly enough. (FdW)
––– Address: https://dasatapes.bandcamp.com/
MODELBAU - ESCAPE CLAUSE (cassette by Dead Hound Records)
MODELBAU - SENDERFOLGE (cassette by Universaal Kunst)
ORPHAX/MODELBAU (split cassette by Invisible City Records)
When I was a kid, I used to love messing about with radios. I had this janky handheld on that was effetely a big speaker and a dial. I would spend hours just slowly turning it from the top to the bottom and then back. There was a perverse glee in getting to hear a few snippets of someone’s conversation before slowly moving on. The highlight was when I found a great sound that I hadn’t heard before. You know that wonderful eruption of static as you are in between two signals. When sounds slowly come in and out of frequency, but you can’t make out what it is. Deep shafts of static mixed with bassy drones. It was wonderful.
While listening to ‘Escape Clause’ I’m reminded of these moments. You are on the edge of your seat as you don’t know how long the drone will last before another sound is slowly faded in, and your sound vanishes. There is a wonderfully elongated piece about a third from the end of ‘Side A’. There is no way of knowing where it actually starts, but around the 16-minute mark, it really starts to ramp up. On paper, not a lot happens. The base tone is interrupted by a drone. This then becomes more pronounced, then vanishes again. Ripples of static start to made way for a deep drone. As the drone breaks through the noise, before being smoothed again, you start to realise how wonderful this section is. It's something that I have rewound and listened to a few times. First to try and gauge how long it is and secondly to make sure I heard it correctly.
What ‘Escape Clause’ does really well is taking us to another place. A place where tangible things, like melodies and rhythm, don’t exist and if they do, they aren’t massively important. Instead, Modelbau creates a world where we are allowed to drift off and remember fragments of a past life while inhabiting our current one. This really is an escape clause.
Around two-thirds of the way through ‘Trace’ I’m reminded of the film THX 1138. But more importantly, a bonus feature on the DVD called ‘Theatre of Noise’. Slight confession, I adore THX 1138 and they would have watched all the bonus features again gladly after I re-found it on my shelf during last year’s lockdown, but the title alone meant it was the first I watched after the feature. Effectively it’s the film, but all the dialogue, and some of the music, has been removed and all we have left is the sound effects, background noise and general atmospheric sounds. While I never know if this film is something that Modelbau has ever seen, or was influenced but, I was taking absolute delight in the section where the radio chatter was being played underneath slightly ominous synths. It really helped to create a feeling of unease that while unsettling also gives off a perverse joy.
Of course, ‘Senderfolge’ isn’t about being under surveillance, or about a sci-film from the 1970s, but it might be for all I know. What I’ve gleaned ‘Senderfolge’ to be about is that as time goes on there will be more and more background noise of life. People on phones. Helicopters flying overhead. Emergence service cars rushing past with sirens blaring and ‘Senderfolge’ is just using technology, and old-fashioned radios and cassettes, to create an audio collage of all this for our enjoyment.
Out of all the recent Modelbau releases ‘Senderfolge’ is the one that I’ve enjoyed the most. Partly due to it being more abstract than its counterparts, but also because it is really hard to work out what’s going on. It’s all over the shop. Radio chatter, deep synths droning one, glitchy motifs and that feeling of unease I mentioned earlier. All this is combined to create two pieces of music that work incredibly well as a way to block out the surface noise of life while doing the weekly shop, whilst at the same time allowing us to examine how much of our lives are under scrutiny.
The Orphax side opens with a searing noise. It’s unrelenting. It manages to get right behind your eyes and ears and just stay there. At times it's slightly uncomfortable. Multiple times during the listening I readjusted my position to get more comfortable. The nearest thing that I can equate it to is when you step outside from a darkened room and the sun just gets you in your eyes. You have to squint to avoid its glare. After a while, you get used to it and forget those seconds when everything was a bit too much. After 15-minutes you either start to get used to the consistent level of drone or Modelbau has started to bring other things up in the mix. Either way by the halfway mark you’re into it. Then all of a sudden that initial drone vanishes, or has vanished, and we are left with a recurring drone or loop, but fear not the original drone reappears, but this time it’s slightly heavier and less searing.
The Modelbau side offers more of the same but in a slightly different way. Here there is more variation to the drones. Instead of holding the same note for minutes at a time, Modelbau slightly alters the sound regularly enough that there is a feeling of movement or flux. This is important after the first side. There was a wonderful stasis going on, but at times you were craving for Modelbau to do something. Add some more textures or tones. Here, Modelbau is doing just that. And it works well. Around the halfway mark some glorious little motifs seem to exist just below the surface. You can just about hear them, but at the same time, you can’t. Much like looking at the bottom of a riverbed from a bridge. You can see things lurking on the bottom but at the same time, it could also just be your shadow. Modelbau ends his side with a slightly grinding motif. This is the standout moment on the side. The use of texture is subtle but very effective.
What ‘Modelbau/Orphax’ shows are you don’t have to do a lot to get results. Through subtle changes to the sound, each artist gets massive results. This is an album to play while having a soak, preparing a large meal or just sitting looking out of the window at the squirrels. It is an album that really goes with meditative thought. So sit back. Put it on and let yourself drift away. (NR)
––– Address: https://deadhound.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://universaalkunst.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://invisiblecityrecords.bandcamp.com/