number 1293
week 28

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JOHN CAGE - VARIATIONS VII (CD by Epicentre Editions) *
OFER PELZ - TRINITÉ (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
HIROAKI MAKI - HE (CD by Edition Zeroso) *
T. GRIFFIN - THE PROPOSAL (CD by Constellation) *
sHOWARD STELZER & NERVE NET NOISE - NESTS (CDR by Humanhood Recordings) *
ÖZGÜR ATLAGAN - LETTER TO N (cassette by Het Generiek) *
MIK QUANTIUS (cassette by Het Generiek) *

JOHN CAGE - VARIATIONS VII (CD by Epicentre Editions)

Permit me the freedom to use this CD as an example to say something about John Cage, his scores and the performances. The famous (perhaps, most famous) composer of the 20th century created several scores that are very open for interpretation, and, maybe, should be seen as a point of departure for the performers. I have no idea if one needs to pay the Cage estate when performing one of his pieces, but if so, why would one say it's a Cage piece and not some other sort of 'playing together' type of concert? Is it important to attach Cage's name to it, I wonder? 'Variations VII' was first performed in 1966 over nine days, and employing ten artists, exploring electronics, devised by David Tudor. The instructions were to use only sounds "which are in the air at the moment of performance, picked up via the communication bands, telephone lines, microphones together with, instead of musical instruments, a variety of household appliances, and frequency generators". In August 2020, this piece was Le Quan Ninh, Nadia Lena, Aurelie Maisonneuve, Emilie Mousset, Jerome Noetinger and Julien Rabin, all together with a much bigger group (17) performers online. There is no precise score, but they used some original computer programs, designed by Andrew Culver. The CD has three pieces, of which the second might be the actual recording (and with sixty-eight the longest, obviously) and the bookend pieces might the minutes before and after the performance. This is a long exercise in randomness, just as some of Cage's own performances that found their way to record are ('Variations IV', for instance), with sounds from media sources, from buzzing electronic equipment and other types of electronics.  To ask yourself if this is music, is going for the core Cage question: what is music? More than fifty years after the first performance, music such as this has found an audience, be it by those who call it affectionately noise, or modern classic, improvised or electro-acoustic (you don't have to call it... if the term shocks you) and will find a most appreciative audience. I, for one, like this as much as it leaves me indifferent, to be honest. Words such as 'good' or 'bad' do not apply to this music, I think. It is there, you can enjoy it, or leave it. I can do both here and did both. (FdW)
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Multi-sided musician Lash plays mainly as a double bassist, performing composed and improvised music. He has duo collaborations with Seth Cooke and Angharad Davies. He leads his quartet and the Set Ensemble. Furthermore, he played with John Butcher, Tony Conrad, Thomas Lehn etc. and with ensembles like Apartment House and the Bozzini Quartet. Since 2015 he makes his recordings available through his own digital label Spoonhunt on Bandcamp. Now, however, Lash decided also on a traditional CD release for three recordings. Three excellent releases of live recorded sets at London’s Café Oto. Let’s start with his main project: his quartet of Javier Carmona (drums, percussion), Ricardo Tejero (alto saxophone) and Alex Ward (electric guitar). Completed by Lash himself on double bass. The quartet debuted in 2013 with ‘Opabinia’, followed by ‘Extremophile’ in 2017. This makes ‘Limulus’ their third statement. Well attuned to each other, the four players perform the music that is composed and arranged by Lash. Opening track ‘Alexithymia’ is an electric grooving work close to the hardcore in the opening phase with heavy electric guitar and squeaking sax à la Naked City. The second phase of this work is dominated by great solo work by Ward. Also in ‘Dacyloscopy’ Ward excels in fine solo work, followed by an energetic solo by Tejero, interwoven in a rhythmic complex fabric. In contrast, a work like ‘Cylindria’ is a modest ballad, dwelling in the lower regions before culminating in a dynamic and free battle. It is one of those surprising moments that we meet also in other of his compositions, where Lash chooses for an unexpected twist or change of direction. ‘From a theme by FS’ is based on a theme composed by Franz Schubert is again a slow ballad that gradually becomes more dynamic and free.
    The closing work ‘Improvisations/Structures’ is a fascinating and very energetic piece. This is an album of composed works that vary in structure and development, demonstrating a wide range of dynamics, combining electric and acoustic instruments. ‘Discernment’ has also a quartet lineup: John Butcher  (tenor and soprano saxophones), Dominic Lash - double bass, John Russell (guitar) and Mark Sanders (drums, percussion). In memory of John Russell who passed away early this year. It may be one of his very last recordings. This makes it special to have John Butcher participating here. He was a musical companion of John Russell for decades. The music of this quartet differs fairly from the first quartet. They practice a form of free abstract group improvisation concentrating on sound, colour, timbres and texture. With equal involvement of all four, they reach for moments of concentrated interplay. Consorts is a large ensemble of Douglas Benford (harmonium, percussion), Steve Beresford (electronics),  Marjolaine Charbin (piano), Chris Cundy (bass clarinet), Seth Cooke (steel sink, metal detector), Angharad Davies (viola), Phil Durrant (modular synth), Matthew Grigg (guitar, amplifier), Bruno Guastalla (cello), Martin Hackett (Korg MS10), Tim Hill (baritone saxophone), Tina Hitchens (flute), Sarah Hughes (zither), Mark Langford (bass clarinet), Dominic Lash (double bass), Yvonna Magda (violin), Hannah Marshall (cello), Helen Papaioannou (baritone saxophone), Yoni Silver (bass clarinet), Alex Ward (clarinet, amplifier). They perform a long-form improvisation. A lovely stream of noisy sounds, composed of the supplementing contributions from all members. At the core are often electronically generated noises and pure sound, combined with movements of acoustic contributions from diverse instruments. All performers contribute to generating one continuous, complex sound entity. To my taste, the most fascinating effort of these three releases. (DM)
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As I noted before, more and more music received by Vital Weekly is from the world of modern classical music, and I am not sure if we are the proper experts (or experts at all) for this music, lacking sufficient lingo to write about it. On more than one occasion I wrote something along the lines of 'I have no idea what it is that I am haring, but I quote enjoy it'. Today that saying goes out to the disc by Klaus Lang and the Konus Quartett. Lang plays the harmonium, and the Konus 4 plays soprano, alto, and baritone saxophone, with three of the four receiving credit for two instruments. I believe Lang is the composer of the piece, and he writes that this is along the lines of scores from the 16th and 17th centuries, which were simpler than the cast iron ones from later dates, leaving the players to think more about how to play. A simpler guide, if I understood correctly. Also, I understand that 'allmenden' means common land, which may account for the collective interpretation of the piece. It is divided into three parts, which flow straight into the next, and I think it is a stunning beauty. The whole piece is very minimal, except maybe for the second and shortest part (at twelve minutes), in which tones rise and fall with a slighter faster pace. In the first and third part, the music is at an almost standstill, and it reminded me of many works by Phill Niblock. The slow-moving, great paced tones, making slow, yet majestic ripples on a grey day near the sea. The combination of a harmonium and a string quartet, both instruments that work with 'lungs' generate this slow feeling of rocking back and forth, via a massive wave of sound. I played this CD straight away three times and regretted the moment that I realized I may have had other music to hear. (FdW)
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Over the years I learned that Hubro has releases that are right up my street, as well as a few that maybe not be 'me' (plus a few that left me puzzled; most pleasantly). I enjoyed the debut album of keyboardist Stale Storlĝkken (Vital Weekly 1176), who was/is a member of Supersilent. The first album contained improvisations on various keyboards, this time it is all to down to the church organ. This is quite a different kind of album. Firstly, there is the space in which the organ is situated, which forms an interesting space for the music, but also the music is less electronic, obviously.  What remained is the film soundtrack of some pieces here, ghostly as some of these are, such as 'Cloudland', which sounds like the opening of registers and not much else, but also with some haunting melody in the title piece. Storlĝkken plays, so it seems to me (not too well-versed in the workings of the church organ, not entirely without knowledge), the whole organ, so sometimes it becomes a bit more electro-acoustic (in fact all, of the various parts of 'Cloudland'), alternating with some of the more straightforward pieces of organ music. Maybe it is easy (too easy?) to connect the notion of church organ music from a non-traditional perspective to horror films, but a piece such as 'Third Space' could be attached to such a flick. I like the alternation between the totally abstract playing of the organ, the organ as an object (almost!) and as an instrument. There is some scary stuff going around in the church, best not visited at night. When it becomes abstract, there is danger lurking in the corners, when it becomes music it is a full-on thread. I love it. Again. (FdW)
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OFER PELZ - TRINITÉ (CD by New Focus Recordings)

Pelz is a pianist and serious composer born in Israel (1978) and now living and working in Canada (Montreal) (you can immediately tell a Canadian from the 'Fr/En' switch on the web page ...) This aptly titled album has five pieces, all performed by the Meitar Ensemble, a chamber music ensemble from Israel, partly supported by the Ardeo Quartet. Pelz has three citizenships, Canadian, French, and Israeli (quite a feat) and these elements are audible in his work - the close cooperation with the Tel Aviv Meitar Ensemble, the French influences in titles and musical inspiration (he studied in Paris), and the fearless and fresh Canadian approach to all things creative.
Why would this album be reviewed here? Pelz has an approach of improvisation and composition that transfers elements of musique concrète and electro-acoustics back to the purely acoustic (though electrically amplified) world.
    The first piece is for prepared piano - which immediately conjures up John Cage associations. But this piece is slightly more on the melodic and artistic side, if you wish, though adding the extra background 'noises' from acoustically triggered percussion and as a result sounding a little 'dirtier than the Cage compositions. The second is 'Chinese Whispers'. It deliberately repeats a short phrase, changing bits until the original is unintelligible after ten minutes. This principle of composition also re-appears in the other pieces: short bits of music, repeated, varied, re-assembled, floating above and below each other. Indeed - this reminds me of electro-acoustic, industrial and improvised music, minus the 'industrial'. You could imagine these pieces played by pure electronics, and they would be attributed to the usual suspects as Henry, Bayle or Chopin straight away. You do not always realize the proximity of a flute sound to a sine wave - as they talk to each other on the third piece. 'Marchons' is a take on the Marseillaise, gradually building to a climax, before then petering out in a long string glissando. It is supposed to refer to the line 'Let an impure blood soak our fields!', combining this with an Israeli national song claiming 'the blood that springs/nourishes the soil' - I must admit, whatever this message indicates, I did not get it. The final piece is split in two, a lively first part that you could consider typical 'new music', and a second that is worthy of any drone music. But acoustic!
    All in all, this is a worthwhile experience for anyone wanting to broaden their horizon and test the waters of 'acoustic electronics'. (TM)
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EE tapes released regularly beautiful tapes in the 80s and then switched to CD. The music that label owner Eriek van Havere released in recent years was mostly obscure music from those same years, which had once been released on cassette. Much of the music he released was subtle in nature and with an eye for detail. Now it is time for something new and after 22 years he is releasing both a cassette and CD again. The music is made by two musicians from Sint Niklaas, Belgium, where the label is also located. The music on this split is relentless. The first part comes from Machinery Directive. Who is behind this noisy project is a mystery, but it is the youngest member of the trio, who wishes to remain anonymous. The sounds are noisy, but with softer keys than the other musician on the split. That does not mean that the music is subtle. The power electronics in combination with solid industrial beats are nicely composed. The last two tracks of this debut have a religious origin in their titles and the music becomes fiercer than the previous tracks. A wonderful start to a promising project. Since 1992 Patrick Stevens has been active under the name Hypnoskull. Hypnoskull is an old faithful within electronic music. He combines analogue electronic sounds with solid rhythmic structures, with a penchant for techno-industrial music. The music is a smash in your face without compromise. The track "Beyrouth Hunt for a Dead Terrorist" seems strongly inspired by Muslimgauze. The combination of Arabic vocals and musical instruments that have been run through a tape machine, with delays and other effects, makes me return to the 90s. Wonderful how this composition is made with an eye for silence and noise. The other songs tirelessly carry on with noise terror that cannot be avoided. It is great that EE Tapes is putting the musical Sint Niklaas on the map. It turns out to be an illusion that this city has fallen asleep. Three generations of music lovers prove otherwise. (JKH)
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Sometimes I need to repeat myself (I don't mind), and surely I wrote the next thing before: ever since I stumbled upon music by David Lee Myers, I am a big fan. I guess it was already with his LP, 'Engine Of Myth, for the unlikely label Recommended Records (not always known for the most out-there sort of electronic music). That was under the guise of Arcane Device, which he continued throughout the nineties. For many years, he releases under his given name. What I found fascinating about his music was that he used feedback, but in a much different way than those who called themselves power electronics, say Whitehouse or Ramleh. There was more control and less abuse; almost like a grandson of the fifties and sixties composers of serious electronic music. On this new release, he works with the notion of "audio constructions [that] seem to encourage a posture of staying in the moment. This has proven to be a fascination over time." You can call it music for meditation, but Myers says he doesn't like that. He also says that "as I began the present sonic explorations, a quote from metaphysics scholar Frithjof Schuon kept coming to mind: “You must detach your life from an awareness of the multiple and reduce it to a geometrical point before God.” Certainly, Schuon was not referring to any particular Judeo-Christian vision of a supreme being, but rather, whatever ultimate creative force of the universe must exist. So becoming “reduced to a geometrical point before God” was a concept that resonated for me while working on the pieces." The working titles he used, 'Geo 1' etc, became an Earth reference, maybe adding meaning to the music. Maybe not. Myers uses "feedback matrics, oscillator banks,  and multi-processing", which is not much different from when he started, but maybe the means are a bit more sophisticated? This is not really meditative music, of course, certainly not when the volume is put to a level that has a bit more presence. I am sure some people love their meditation to be loud, but the music as played by David Lee Myers is at times too dirty and strange to do such a thing, but, yes, people are strange as mister Morrison once sang, so for all I know, people might find this an excellent soundtrack for some deep meditation. I enjoy such things differently, I guess, not being too much interested in meditation (which, despite advancing age, and peers doing so, still is not a thing for me), but I enjoy my minimal music a lot. The variation played by Myers is one of considerable force and bruitist style, but also with some finer sustaining powers, sticking into a sound for a while, before slowly morphing into something else. It may no longer have the raw power of his earliest work (which also back then quickly toned down), but it is still a most enjoyable ride for about an hour or so. Maybe not really a big surprise anymore, but yet another high-quality work by one of the best when it comes to playing imaginative electronic music and with a strong voice of his own. (FdW)
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HIROAKI MAKI - HE (CD by Edition Zeroso)

When I saw Christian Marclay perform live, in 1985 I believe it was, performing on a few turntables, I was blown away. I very much enjoyed Institut Für Feinmotorik using metal and wood on turntables, I quite enjoyed that. I am sure I saw and heard more turntablists that were oke, but overall I am not blown away by the whole thing. Maybe I find it too limiting. From Japan, we have here Hiroaki Maki, a turntablist and co-founder of Edition Zeroso, who, so I understand, was/is also a DJ and when "searching for sensory-stimulating sound images produced by found sounds and through his DJing he began to utilize turntables to make noise and sound art". Maybe there is also a more conceptual edge to his work? There are two pieces on 'he', the twenty-seven minute 'Extrovert' and the fourteen-minute 'Introvert'. The first"amplifies the hum and white noise inside the turntable" and the second is "an improvised performance by rubbing the cartridge with nickel strings". 'Extrovert' is a quiet piece of indeed amplified hiss and close the end there appears a bump that gets repeated in quicker succession and that's about it, while 'Introvert' is indeed the amplified sound of strings against the cartridge, and it is a much louder, almost noisy piece, but sans the electronics to make it a noise blast. Think of this as acoustic noise, if you will. I am not all too convinced about this. I kept thinking that maybe the titles should have been reversed, as 'Introvert' didn't sound all that introvert, and 'extrovert', well you get it. Also, it all seems a bit too 'easy' for my taste, but maybe that is the thing I have with the use of turntables? I don't know about this one. (FdW)
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Kranenburg is right across the border into Germany from the HQ of VW. It is a small town, and at least once a week visited by me, to drop off mail and buy cheap booze. I do this with a colleague and I asked him "is there a former train station in this village, as I have a CD to review that mentions a tree there". We both have no idea where this former train station is located, so no inspection of the mentioned tree. Florian Wittenburg took a picture of this tree and stuck that into a Metasynth, an Ircam developed piece of software that translates images into music; well. Drawings you do within the program, that is. Wittenburg made a drawing of this tree and created a composition in four parts using Metasynth. I assume such as depicted on the cover. All of this you can't tell from the actual music, to be honest. Each of the four pieces is drones from the slightly higher region of the sound spectrum, a bit thin, perhaps. Like a stale wind over polar ground. That is not to say I don't like it; I quite enjoyed this spacious music, with or without any reference to trees. The music has something quite dramatic, I think, something urgent if you will. Something that I found difficult to match with both trees, the quiet town of Kranenburg as I know it (despite not knowing where the former train station is) and also with the fact that this is a release by Edition Wandelweiser, known for quiet music and perhaps (but I might be wrong) mostly acoustic music. But of course, this is also very minimal and sounds not unlike, say, Phill Niblock, but then electronic. Each of the four pieces is six minutes and eleven or twelve seconds, and there are separated by one minute of silence. I am not entirely convinced about that, but I can see why Wittenburg did that; to create some rest after the drama of each of the pieces, which grow in intensity as the CD progresses. It is quite a short release, which is the only downside of this otherwise beautiful release. (FdW)
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T. GRIFFIN - THE PROPOSAL (CD by Constellation)

Let's repeat what I wrote two weeks ago: "Maybe I noted this before, but reviewing soundtracks to films is a bit of a problematic thing. Usually, I haven't seen the film in question, nor are there chances I will see it. Also, so I noted occasionally that this soundtrack releases that tracks are something snippets. Once you get into a piece, it is already over." Here we have the soundtrack to 'The Barragan Archives', an "art world documentary by Jill Magid", and it is "about the contested legacy of the Mexican architect Luis Barragan, raising the question of intellectual property, patrimony and privatization through the lens of an idiosyncratic personal journey - and as an art invention in its own right". The trailer looks most promising but doesn't tell me too much about the actual documentary to say something sensible concerning the music at hand. Within the space of forty minutes, T. GRiffin takes the listener on a pretty wild ride with his music. If one thing is clear, he doesn't like to stay in one place too long. There is a bit of jazz, electronic soundscapes, drones, field recordings, introspective guitar playing and much more. Griffin plays samplers, banjo, guitars, percussion, keyboards and field recordings, but there is a whole cast of musicians that help him, including a four-piece jazz band. As is the case with soundtrack releases, the pieces are rather short. Let's repeat something else from two weeks ago, "it such a pity pieces last only a minute, or two. All of these tracks could easily be expanded into much, much longer pieces of music, and Chaney could have done a great double CD with that material. So, while I think this is a most lovely album, I have a feeling of missing out on a lot of things here. Like, we see only part of the picture; a promise of a great one, but incomplete". Needless to say, that also applies here. (FdW)
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Over the years, I have reviewed some releases by Luigi Archetti (Vital Weekly 819 and 967 for instance), but this new one took quite some time; or, maybe, I missed out on a few releases. Archetti is a guitarist, working solo, but also in a duo with Bo Wiget, and with Mani Neumeier and Joachim Irmler (of Faust). From his older works, I remember that Archetti used computer processing to manipulate his guitar playing, and I would think that is still the case on this new release. Whatever your assumptions are when you read that 'guitar + computer', I am sure Archetti's music will be something of a surprise for you. Most times, the guitar is easily recognized in this music, perhaps so because, so I believe, Archetti plays an acoustic one. He plucks his notes carefully, quietly but steadfast; I would think this is not improvisation. The computer is somewhere, picking up a few notes, a sound, a notion, and suddenly there is a small transformation, a sound that keeps sustaining for a while, and then you realize, this is not a guitar anymore. Where I write 'computer', this might just as well any other type of electronic device; I have very little knowledge of such matters. Archetti uses it to great effect. This means, in this case, very selective use of the electronic side of this. It is, as far as I can judge, not something that is present in all the pieces. At first, I thought Archetti did a bold move by doing an acoustic guitar album only, but the 'treatments' arrive, through a backdoor it seems, and pop up sporadically. All the twenty-five pieces here are exercises in slowness, as slow as lava, I would think, moving gradually and minimally through the landscape that Archetti paints with his guitar. Suddenly there is something of a drone and the music has changed, but in a similar sudden fashion, that might disappear also. I found all of this fascinating to hear, all ninety or so minutes (there is also a 3LP version), and something that required quite a bit of attention before it unveiled its beauty. But break on through and there are new things to discover all the time. (FdW)
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Next month marks the tenth anniversary of Conrad Schnitzler's passing, but the legend lives on. His taped contributions to the musical output of Doc Wör Mirran are recycled and presented anew. Schnitzler mailed various cassettes of music in the 1990s and since then find a place in DWM's music. This time we have the core members of Joseph B. Raimon, Ralf Lexis, Stefan Schweiger and Michael Wurzer at home in the Two Car Garage Studios (and I checked, it could fit two cars and is a typical Bavarian garage) while from a distance (and I assume from a distant past) tapes are used by Jello Biafra and Ron Lessard. At the foundation of this, we find the members improvising in the studio, blending in the taped contributions. In 'Diaspar Part 3', we have Schnitzler's computerized piano playing, along with a more bruitist approach by the group, whereas Gormley and his saxophone take control of 'Diaspar Part 1', and bring out a more jazzy feel. Some pieces seem entirely electronic, dark, drone-based and moody ('Diaspar Part 5'), while others have a not too outgoing rhythm, reminding me of the early days of ambient house, but, more likely, Schnitzler's mid-70s music. It is the variety of the sources, I guess, which makes this a varied album, but part of that variation is also in the way the core group responds to the material. It is just as imaginative as the taped contributions (and again I am assuming that the majority is from Schnitzler, seeing how this is credited on the front cover), taking the music in many different directions and yet still manage to come up with some very coherent release. For Doc Wör Mirran this is release number 180 (!) and the quality is, as ever, pretty high standard. I didn't expect anything less. (FdW)
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A few weeks ago I encountered Slavek Kwi's new project Alfa00 for the first time and learned there was something like  298 hour work by him, of which that CDR was an off-shoot. Vital Weekly 1289 was published on June 14, 2021, and five days later, at 7;40 pm, Kwi sat down to record the pieces on this new CDR, which is to be understood as a reaction to the review and hence dedicated to FdW, which by no means is to say that I will treat it differently. It is a different kind of release than the one from last month, in that respect that this one contains eight pieces, which are quite different. Kwi wrote a cryptic note that I quote in full: "imagine AbstracAlienAudioArtefact resemblant to Human concept of “music/sound”, but which is Another - entirely different carrier of “information” similar to Human understanding of “meaning” based on different paradigm and perception of the “Reality”. Imagine Alternative Univers were “understanding” is not reduced to “thinking” only, but whole “sensorial experience” is considered in its entirety equally: preserving it's potential free." That is not my kind of lingo. There are some differences here with the previous release; one might be the use of a guitar in 'Calibrating', the noise of 'Initiating Interface Tension (Plasmaphone)' and 'Interference' and in between there are the almost fifty minutes four parts of field recordings, with a bit of human interference, and which comes closest to the meditative music that I found on '(2)0)2(0_'. This too, even more field recording/sitting in a garden sort of thing I enjoyed quite a bit. There is a curious mix of real-time sounds and an undercurrent of live processing that works both familiar and alien in a strangely soothing way. This one works very well on a particularly sunny day as today is, balcony doors (no garden here, sadly), and let the quiet neighbourhood sounds mingle with the music/sound/installation type of work offered by Alfa00. Will this provoke another reaction? I'll let you know in a month or so. (FdW)
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Elan Vital Recordings is a "Macedonian music label releasing a limited edition of handcrafted CDs and tapes from international artists focused on obscure aspects of sound, accompanied with carefully created artwork and video art. Each release will have a limited CD or tape edition with hand-numbered and stamped artwork." I reviewed a cassette by this before (see Vital Weekly 1171. The duties are thus divided: Stefan Christoff (acoustic guitar, piano) and Joseph Sannicandro (electronics, synth, ebow, loops, melodica, production). That is not mentioned on the cover, but then, nothing much is mentioned beyond the track titles and label information. The Bandcamp page says that Christoff plays an old organ and acoustic guitar and nothing much is mentioned for Sannicandro, but maybe he's responsible for field recordings and sound effects? I assume these are recent recordings, although I have no reason to believe such a thing. This one seems even less politically inspired than their previous releases, or maybe it is hidden in a place we can't see it. Of the recording, it is said that these are ab exchange in sound, which could have happened in a room, but just as well they might be exchanged via the Internet. From the way the music sounds, I would say the two men are sitting in a room; a log cabin might be a likely candidate. There are a few outdoor sounds, waving through the window in the opening piece 'Exhaust Wav', but from there on, in the other eight tracks, microphones pick up the organ and all the sounds the machine when played, the strings on the guitar, but also the squeaking of the chairs these men sit upon. All of that cleverly mixed with what I think are extraneous field recordings, and some sort of moody electronics, which stays gently in the background, but are nevertheless 'there'. I found their previous release, the first I heard from them, to be part of the world of post-rock, and this one is no different. Think of this as a stripped-down version of Town And Country or Ben Vida's earliest work; intimate music, with sparse notes, slow drifts, a bit of gentle dissonance. The music sounds like the listener sits on another squeaky chair in the same small cabin and by concentrating on the effort of listening, everything becomes audible; each sounds plays a part. This is a beautiful exercise in slow music. (FdW)
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One of the more radical noise music projects I encountered in the 90s was the Japanese outfit Nerve Net Noise. I was used to a bit of noise, but their high frequencies seemed to trigger a level of annoyance with me. Howard Stelzer, on the other hand, was a one-man army in pushing their music, releasing two of their CDs on his Intransitive Recordings label. In recent years this duo (Hiroshi Kumakiri and Tsuyoshi Nakamura) releases their music digitally and originally this was the fate (well..) of 'Nests' too, but Humanhood graced this a re-issue on CDR. I believe NNN is now the solo endeavour of Kumakiri, who was building synthesizers before the boom in the modular world. This is their first collaboration, even when a second one is also available now, "Days of Constellation", through Nerve Net Noise's Bandcamp. Both have different source material, and on the second it is Kumarkiri who had the final say over the material, and on 'Nests' it is Stelzer. That brings us to two interesting albums, with some noteworthy differences. The sound of Kumakiri's custom-built synthesizers is a sure presence on both, but whereas he brings out the gritty and noisy elements to the foreground and that burning like fire, Stelzer's treatments, using (I assume) his trusty cassettes and playback in unusual spaces and picking the sound up there. It makes that 'Days Of Constellation' is a more traditional product of noise music, however less 'annoying' in beeps and cracks as I remember (mind you!) their old sound, whereas 'Nests' is a lo-fi cassette treatment that delves a bit more into the world of 'composing with noise'. The five pieces are subject to Stelzer's minimalism, moving from one point to the next, allowing elements to return, alter and disappear from the proceedings, which is for me the sign of the noise that I prefer, as make no mistake, this too is the product of noise music, but then not as loud and dirty as some others in this particular musical field. (FdW)
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ÖZGÜR ATLAGAN - LETTER TO N (cassette by Het Generiek)
MIK QUANTIUS (cassette by Het Generiek)

From Rotterdam hails Het Generiek, a small cassette label run by the people that are also the great group Sweat Tongue. The first release is by the Turkish artist and writer Özgür Atlagan, who makes his debut. He tells nine stories, all in Turkish, and along with the package, it comes with an English translation. Atlagan tells his stories and offers a bit of synthesizer and field recordings. As I said before, me and vocals, stories, lyrics and poetry: it is not the best match in the world. Here I have to divide my time between listening and reading the stories from paper. The voice is a dominant feature in the music, even when some pieces have music going just by itself. Het Generiek offers this by way of explanation: "It is a dark, humorous collection of moments and tales which all come out of his art practice as an installation and performance artist. On the album again he is an observer of power struggles. Absurd and carnivalesque anecdotes meet stumbling minimal synth. The ‘Overall swapping orgy’ tells about a band of workers swapping their overalls." This I would not have gathered from reading these short stories, but we are music reviewers, not literary critics. I enjoyed it all the same, even when it left me in a similar amount quite puzzled.
    The name Mik Quantius sounded familiar, but from a long time ago, and back in Vital Weekly 869, I reviewed an LP from him. He's from Cologne and has his own approach when it comes to playing keyboards and singing. I was reminded of Harry Merry, but Mik Quantius seems to be taking things a lot further, in terms of weirdness. From what I remember from the LP back then, I could think Mik Quantius didn't progress an awful in the intervening 8 years. And, of course, that is fine; there is no obligation to change. Quantius sings/speaks his lyrics, which are hard to define what these are about (but see also: we are not literary critics), set against synth-based music that makes not a lot of sense in terms of composition; some of these seems to be random stabs on the keyboard, repeated through the use of sequencing, but not making too much sense with the other keyboard. A rhythm machine is used off and on. It is possible to connect this to the music of Harold 'Sack' Ziegler, Inox Kapell, Harry Merry, or even Felix Kubin, but Mik Quanties twists and turns it all in his a pleasantly weirder direction. 'Mikik' reminded me of O.R.D.U.C., which was a serious ending, I thought. Maybe this is the sort of stuff we label as 'outsider' music? I found this pleasantly disturbing and delightfully weird. (FdW)
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