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GAGI PETROVIC – CHOOSING FREEDOM (CD on Moving Furniture Records) *
MACHINEFABRIEK - CM-30 (CD by Machinefabriek) *
MACHINEFABRIEK - RE:MOVING (CD by Phantom Limb) *
SCANNER - TRAWL (CD by Aquarellist) *
BASS COMMUNION - SISTER OREGON (CD by Aquarellist) *
O SAALA SAKRAAL - HEVEN (CDEP by Cyclic Law) *
DYLAN NYOUKIS & SEYMOUR GLASS - NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE DRAMA QUEEN’S POTASSIUM INTAKE (CD by Chocolate Monk) *
O YUKI CONJUGATE - EQUATOR (2LP by Aguirre Records) *
ZOE EFSTATHIOU & ODA DYRNES - KYANESS (LP by Alkekung Records)
JEPH JERMAN - QUARRY (7" lathe cut/CDR by Ballast) *
+D_A+-CYBERNETIC CYNOCEPHALY (CDR by Love Eart Music) *
RUBBER BUS - NOH YOGAH (CDR, private) *
INCAPACITANTS/HARSH NOISE MOVEMENT - PHOBIAPHOBIA (CDR by Love Earth Music)
MISSIONARY POSITION - VAGINAL WITCHERY (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
YELLOW6 - THE CLOUD FACTORY (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
WESTERN EDGES - DEPENDENCY (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
TIBETAN RED & TOMASO CORBETTA - TRANSITION (CDR by Antahkarana Records) *
TRAINFANTÔME - NOUS SOMMES DANS UN REVE (cassette by Cudighi Records) *
PSUEDO DESNUDO - FIRST MAN FROM THE SECOND MILLENNIUM (cassette by Cudighi Records) *
BILL HORIST - TASTEMAKER EPICS (cassette by Cudighi Records) *
BRYCE EIMAN - REMEDIES AGAINST DISCONTENTS (2 cassettes by Full Spectrum) *
KORAY KANTARCIOĞLU - HAVUZ I-II (cassette by Cloudchamber Recordings) *
RURAL NOISE - THERE IS NO TALK IN MY MOUTH (cassette by Cloudchamber Recordings) *
GAGI PETROVIC – CHOOSING FREEDOM (CD on Moving Furniture Records)
Checking the connections. All clear. Right, there goes the volume knob. Let's hear something. Choosing Freedom starts quite quiet. What's there? What's he building in there, as if we're exploring the intimate inner workings of the speakers themselves. Ah. Whoops, there goes the neighbourhood. Shuddering spikes erupt out of thin air. Indeed, the title of the opening track points in this direction: Divided Attention. Here, there or lack thereof and what do you do or hear or listen to?
Gagi Petrovic is a composer, performer, producer and teacher of music. His field of expertise and exploration is experimental research in vivo into tactility of sound and performativity of instruments, producing an aural universe replete with deeply felt intimacy and fierce, uncompromising intensity. Also: his work moves between the academic and philosophic maelstrom depths of Ob-literate (in co-operation with Zeno van den Broek) and piercing noise performances with a light-sensitive purpose-built instrument as I witnessed at The Hague's Rewire festival in 2018.
More recently Petrovic teamed up with Matthijs Kouw for Recalcitrance (a 2CD, also on Moving Furniture Records) and in his review for Vital Weekly 1276 Frans de Waard wrote: “[...] Petrovic has a slightly more musical touch to his music, such as the melodic element of the very short piece ‘Remnants’ or the stuttering Ovalesque’s rhythm of ‘Depressant’. […] [I]n his five pieces, he is a bit more varied, combining drones and tones, clustered sounds and rhythms.” This is pretty much spot-on in terms of trying to grasp the versatile practice of the composer Petrovic, for his boundary-pushing sonic narratives or fragmented shards thereof, resist simple identification, constantly shapeshifting like music of quicksilver spheres.
Choosing Freedom as per the title itself invokes a political act, however personal or societal. Therewith the work fits neatly into the conceptual realm Petrovic has been mining with previous works, consisting of themes like isolation and destruction, oppression or the diametrical opposite which can be found in freedom. And not only that: but also: what that is, what freedom, being free entails, as in freedom of expression or, closer to this release: in autonomous composition.
(That twiddling with the volume knob. The sense of uneasy quiet or too quiet. Was that just my set of arbitrary expectations? And was that a display of unfreedom perhaps, bound by what I expected, bound to fail?)
However, heavy-handed philosophically charged of conceptually thought-out and - through this may sound, Petrovic – above all else – produces works that manage to explore the mental and physical impact of sound and musical material. Or, to put it differently: how the abstract, outside, coming from out-there notions and inputs of sound matter in order or disorder produce possibilities to get a sense of very personal, subjective or shared interconnected reality or realities, perhaps even routes to get out of (t)here or to turn the (perceived) real upside down or inside out. In two words: scattered perceptions?
With Choosing Freedom, the glossy and rainbow-coloured sleeve art could well be dressed for the occasion of wrapping a deft serving or glistening electro-pop. But it isn't. Or isn't it? Petrovic pushes through glitch and Warp-label abstraction, beyond Autechre, through the wormhole. What can we hear exactly, there where aural gravity pushes down with the mightiest force? Can we imagine this? Could some remnant reminder fragments in splintered juxtaposition yield maximum results here and maybe even usher in an intimation of electronic chamber-pop, a picture-perfect fit for, let's say, for example, Tarkovsky's Solaris?
Choosing Freedom lets the GEST (the aforementioned light-interface instrument) take centre stage and the ingrained indeterminacy of the tool breathes gale-force stormy winds of constant change through these six pieces, totalling some 40 minutes. Utterly out or grasp, Petrovic imbues his compositions with a baffling sense of movement which celebrates the non-fixed, the open and carefree, the light from the dark. This could be called music. Or sound artistic experimentation. Noise or a controlled glitch fest. Maybe even music for the masses to come.
First and foremost, this is a collection of forward-moving and boundary-smashing presentations which defy categorization or determination. These are no butterflies pinned in a viewing cabinet: this is the total bright and breezy and carefree population of a huge butterfly garden, the humid air therein, the plants, the greenhouse itself, yes even the hortus as a whole – a biotope of uncharted possible musical species. (SSK)
--- Address: https://gagi-petrovic.bandcamp.com/album/choosing-freedom
MACHINEFABRIEK - CM-30 (CD by Machinefabriek)
MACHINEFABRIEK - RE:MOVING (CD by Phantom Limb)
Two weeks ago I blew my chances of ever composing a score for choreography when I wrote, "I never understood the world of choreography, but I admit right away I may not have studied it at all" (which for any adventurous choreographers should be an invitation), but Rutger Zuydervelt/Machinefabriek is someone whose music more and more becomes applied music; games (also never understand that), films and dance. Here we have two quite different examples of how that works out. The first is, perhaps, the sort of music you'd expect from Machinefabriek. It is music for a performance by Kotja Hunek. Actually, this is not choreography, but more akin to a circus act. He works with rounds objects of 30 centimetres (hence the title), which are coloured and which he juggles around, cleverly using light. On his website there is a lengthy documentary about how his work developed and how it all became more and more abstract, moving away from what I think is the traditional juggling act, and that's where the music of Zuydervelt fits in very well. In this documentary, also Zuydervelt explains what he does, and we see him at work, behind the computer, with a lot of layers, which is quite surprising, given the minimal nature of the music. Seemingly with a few sounds, Zuydervelt creates some imaginative music, based around loops of sounds, no doubt inspired by the use of a 30 round object in the performance. The music here is mostly dark and spacious, but in 'CM_30_IV' and 'CM_30_V' there is also the use of shortish loops, which one could call 'rhythm', in the first quite loud and a bit distorted, which is a nice change for once, and in the second in a sort strange atmospheric collage of sound. However, in each of the seven pieces, there is a considerable movement within the piece to move around. It is far from a dark sea of drones, but quite a varied disc of Machinefabriek in the space we know from him.
Something very different is the other new release with music for dance, or rather two dances. 'Music For Measureable Existence' and 'Re:Moving' are both by Yin Yue and I gather more regular sort of dance pieces (i.e. not a circus thing). On 'Re:Moving', there is also the violin of Anne Bakker. As said, this is something different. Much like Zuydervelt's music for the 'Astroneer' game, there is quite some emphasis on the use of rhythm. At one point in 'Music For A Measurable Existence', it sounded like flamenco (as far as I can judge such things), but then of a furious, darker kind. Zuydervelt's drones are unmistakably part of this music, but the rhythm plays a much bigger role now. Not just that, these rhythms are quite forceful and may not fit the sort of thing that Zuydervelt does, which shows his strength as a musician, willingness to take risks. At times, Machinefabriek heavy pounding rhythms reminded me of Clock DVA (perhaps, because I just recently heard some of that; I would not consider myself the expert on all things heavy and rhythmic). I can imagine some vivid dancing to both of these pieces, maybe less vivid on 'Re:moving', but beats guide in both pieces the way. There are valid arguments to say that Machinefabriek releases too many things, but this is surely one move I had not anticipated, so for those only interested in a few of Zuydervelt's releases, this one is surely one different. (FdW)
--- Address: https://machinefabriek.nu/
--- Address: http://phantom-limb.co.uk
SCANNER - TRAWL (CD by Aquarellist)
BASS COMMUNION - SISTER OREGON (CD by Aquarellist)
Russia's Aquarellist label always has a keen ear to the ground of what could be interesting re-issues, both from the faraway past but also more recent, as these two examples prove. I am starting with the oldest of the two, which is 'Trawl' by Trawl. At least that's how it was released in 1996, but Chreode, a one-off release for this label, run by John Everall, who died in 2014. Trawl was Robin Rimbaud doing more dance-oriented music, as opposed to the main project we know him for, Scanner. It is not entirely strange to see the re-issue in the name of Scanner. The two original tracks are here. One is a remix by Mick Harris, and by Bill Laswell (spelt here as Bill Lasswell, but I assume it's the same person). Scanner reissued these tracks on his Bandcamp, along with 1996 he did, and now it comes with a further two from 1996, and two from 2020, using the original material. All of these pieces are heavy on the use of rhythm, and maybe a bit dated but on the other hand offer some fine dancefloor options, for those who remember how to dance to these beats. Looped big beats, at times spacious synthesizers, but 'Konkrete Utopie' (from 1996) is one nasty bang on a drum and unrelenting on the synth. Only in the pieces that were released on 12", we hear the voices that Scanner picked from the waves, the thing that gave him the notoriety he got by then. In all of his own pieces, he removed those or didn't want to use them. It is a fine blast and while not the sort of thing I would play or hear a lot these days, it is also a reminder of earlier times. Music such as this, artists such as Scanner, all brings back memories of when I was closer to the 'fire' of the music business and all of this was in my daily system.
The other re-issue I did review before, in Vital Weekly 1102, which was then a 10" record, released by Substantia Innominata. Read that review if you need an introduction to Bass Communion or Steven Wilson. This CD contains the two pieces of that record, along with two extended parts that were recorded in 2014, when Wilson was in Nijmegen to perform with Thomas Köner (recordings which are still not released and very likely never will be). The boys' choir that is at the basis of 'Sister Oregon' was part of the Köner/Wilson concert but on his own, Wilson tinkered around with the material. In that sense, these additional mixes might be regarded as blueprints for what ultimately became 'Sister Oregon' in 2017. As you can go back to the earlier issue of Vital Weekly and see what I wrote, I will concentrate on the other two, previously, unreleased pieces. While we easily recognize parts that ended up on the 10", it also seems that these longer session pieces offer the original sound material in a state that (most likely) resemble more the original. In 'Sisters Extrapool (Part 1)', the boys' choir, for instance, is not as heavily treated as it is on the record, and the metallic rumbling that slowly comes in is clearer than on 'Sisters Oregon (Parts 1-2)'. One could say that with these rougher versions we get a glimpse of the working method. What works and what doesn't, what needs emphasizing, what needs blurring. As much as the second disc of a classic rock album contains 'outtakes, these are out-takes as well. The radio waves for 'Sisters Extrapool [Part 2]' work well, but one can also see why Wilson decided to remove them from the result. In the final versions the music is more condensed and more mysterious, I guess, whereas in the two bonus pieces there is a clearer division of sound and these are a nice look in the kitchen of the musician at work and that makes this an excellent document. (FdW)
--- Address: https://aquarellist.bandcamp.com/
O SAALA SAKRAAL - HEVEN (CDEP by Cyclic Law)
Peter Johan N˙land is a busy man. He's one half of Trepanerungsritualen, he is (effectively) Distel, has various one-off collaborations (with Z'EV or Richard Youngs), and solo projects (with help from others sometimes) as Hadewych and O Saala Sakraal. This last one is a rhythm-heavy project, consisting of various drummers. Of this new release, we are told that "heven" is an attempt at the restoration of a primordial condition, and it seeks to aid in the cleansing and expulsion of the dogmatic metaphysical corruption that is dominated in today’s mass religions. It also serves as an act of rebellion against the remnants of the cultural, spiritual and psychological perversion, denial and nihilism that were systematically introduced into the populations that were led astray by said religions." Next to the percussion, there is N˙land on electronics and tapes. You would think that this is exactly the kind of music I would not like; a gothic cathedral with a choir singing, along with the bombast drumming of, say, Test Dept at their most theatrical. But I find this quite fascinating music. It is almost a soundtrack to a film about obscure rituals being performed in fog ridden forests. The choir of 'Heven: Etherwende/Aardwrocht' is massive, ominous and evokes a sense of impending doom. I was reminded of the orgy scene from 'Eyes Wide Shut' here, whispering voices set against a choir of sound (here voices, a synth in the film). Maybe I am turning gothic at a ripe old age, but I love this a lot. Maybe because it is so over the top that we can't take it too seriously? It has both ends for me, the serious approach when it comes to producing this music with great detail, but going over the top just too much that there is something delightfully light about it. That is indeed most odd, but I am not complaining. It is a pity it is only 22 minutes long. That's where I am complaining! (FdW)
--- Address: https://www.cycliclaw.com/
DYLAN NYOUKIS & SEYMOUR GLASS - NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE DRAMA QUEEN’S POTASSIUM INTAKE (CD by Chocolate Monk)
Talk about truth in marketing! Do you care about the drama queen’s etc etc? I’ll bet you don’t! And yet, here’s a treatise by two of the world’s greatest song titlers (in case you’re writing this down, the complete list of Earth’s A+ song-titlers in no particular order: D.Nyoukis, S.Glass, Phil Todd, Campbell Kneale, Ron Mael) describing the statement’s self-evident truth. And maybe the end of summer is an appropriate enough time to start compiling an “albums-of-the-year” list, ‘cuz this bastard sure is on it. You know Dylan Nyoukis from his solo work, his part in the beast that is Blood Stereo and the man whose “taste” manifests as the catalogue of his Chocolate Monk label. Seymour Glass is an incomparable writer and is part of too many groups to list, but here are a few: Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble, Glands of External Secretion, Suppressive Persons… and I’ll stop there.
Upon first listen, “No One Cares…” an explosion of cartoon psychosis bursting feverishly in all directions. But evidence of its greatness comes with further explorations… for me, the revelation happened a few minutes into my third incursion. This thing left me stupefied (I know, I know… I was pretty stupid, to begin with, har har) and smiling like a goon. Upon continued engagement, “… Potassium…” revealed itself to be profound/masterful. But lemme back up. “… Intake” began life as a single-track half-hour CDR released last year on Chocolate Monk. Perhaps you’ve heard that version. It was good! It also did brisk enough business to warrant consideration for a second edition, and that’s the point at which a good album morphed into a great one. The initial 30-minute piece was transformed (with some scrambling and re-composing, addition and multiplication etc) into three 20-ish-minute pieces… or maybe a single hour-long cerebrum-scramble that’s cut into three sections for easier digestion. The result might be the apex of either artist’s work (so far), but then it’s still only August, so who knows.
As one can expect from Nyoukis’ output, there’s an intangible dream logic at work as one element blurs into the next and aspects become clear and/or recede and/or transform in delightfully surprising ways. At one moment, we’re deep inside a sentient alien esophagus attempting to give directions to lost tourists… the next, we’re surreptitiously eavesdropping on an argument about language at a corner market. The argument started before we arrived and continues after we’ve shifted into a different state of consciousness, so instead of resolution we get a passage of squeaky toys that become inside-piano chimes, then balloon animals chained to actual animals, then the interior monologue of porcelain hippopotami on a fire escape. What seems at first to be linear or episodic or random is revealed upon close listens to have careful structure, sonic depth and attenuated tension. Comic goof is given some air time (whoops, whoopie cushions, grotesque juxtapositions) but the yuks lead inexorably to overpowering three-dimensional heave and lurid gloop as tantalizingly familiar acoustic harrumph folds inside and through itself, inside becomes outside and outside becomes a dream. There’s a palpable space and openness, each sound seemingly tangible within the stew. Human voices interfere by singing, muttering, swallowing or confidently reciting evocative nonsense. A cavalier listener might reach out to grab hold of some big metal ladle or dip a toe into the cosmic gloop before its atoms disperse, and maybe it wasn’t really there at all. It’s a goddamn blast.
Here’s an example of what you’re in for. The second track starts with a too-much-information propulsion rush, but the initial assault shifts sideways to a beautiful distant muttered/muted/mutated conversation and implacably coming-into-focus electronic irritant. A quick shift to Partch-like plonk is backed by another voice in distress… mocked by persistent raspberry and inhuman chortling. Glass & Nyoukis are patient, letting a bizarre mood take hold and establish its own topography before shifting gears again to pots n’ pans n’ animal growl. “Drama Queen…” is a creation of breathtaking compositional dexterity with a confidently light touch. This is something I can (and have! And will continue to!) listen to close over and over. I’m sure I’ll discover new facets interacting beneath and between what I’ve noticed so far. Highest recommendation, folks. (HS)
--- Address: http://chocolatemonk.co.uk
O YUKI CONJUGATE - EQUATOR (2LP by Aguirre Records)
If I am not mistaken this completes an extensive re-issue campaign from O Yuki Conjugate, ambient purveyors since the early 80s. Ever since phase four of their career started, some four years ago, they have been active when it comes to playing live and polishing their old work for a new release. 'Equator' is the highlight of their career, at least that's what I think. There honing of ambient music over twelve years, led to 'Equator' in 1995, when it was released by Staalplaat and Aguirre Records in their press release tries to say that Staalplaat deliberately torpedoed OYC's career ("released on the brilliantly haphazard Staalplaat label who ensured O Yuki Conjugate remained a total obscurity in their home country"), but in reality, it was too hard for a small foreign record label to get CDs in shops in the UK; it sold quite well, as far as I know, but not, unfortunately, up to its demand. This is the second phase of OYC, with original members Roger Horberry and Andrew Hulme, and newcomers Malcolm McGeorge, Dan Mudford and Pete Woodhead. The music is still a fine blend of ambient soundscapes, mixed with big passages of what we called 'ethnic' percussion (not sure what the parlance of these days is), but also with something that links to the world of dance music; tribal dances perhaps but in those days also linked to ambient house and chill-out music. But it is there that O Yuki Conjugate had their unique place. They didn't sound like anything else at that time. Sure, some tribal rhythms one could connect to the world of Muslimgauze, an influence of Jon Hassel's fourth world music (check), but yet they added a touch of weirdness, abstract music and still one could see their background from the world of industrial music, not always aiming to please. Via the use of digital technology, at that time totally hip, they created something very detailed and crystal clear. I was a fan of the album in 1996 and now, twenty-five years, I still am. I am hardly the person to write an objective review, though I may have said that in earlier reviews already. The additional power here is the presence of thirty minutes of bonus material, which I assume was recorded at the same time as the original eleven pieces. This is by no means left-over, rubbish bin material dugout, but overall slightly sparser material, and overall an interesting addition to the original album. One can sense that the pieces that landed on the original album are the stronger ones, but here too there are some beauties. It tops a great re-issue, sadly without the sunburned cover of the original CD. (FdW)
--- Address: https://www.aguirrerecords.com/
ZOE EFSTATHIOU & ODA DYRNES - KYANESS (LP by Alkekung Records)
Following a release Zoe Efstathiou did with Egil Kalman (see Vital Weekly 1226), there is now a new work from her on the prepared piano but now with Norwegian cellist Oda Dyrnes. I have had this record already for some time, maybe two weeks, and I played it off and on, but never seem to form an opinion that makes sense. I am not sure why that is; no doubt a big part has to do with circumstances in which music is heard. Sometimes one isn't in the right mood for it, distracted by other things. One of the things I noticed for this release is that there is no option to sit back and do something else. One needs to focus on the music, as otherwise something will surely be lost. Maybe that's where I went 'wrong' with this album a few times, and 'wrong' is not the right word. I always enjoyed what I heard, but couldn't get a grip on the music. It seemed to be somewhere along the lines of electro-acoustic improvisation and modern classical music. Microphones are placed close to the instruments, capturing all movements by the two players, who manage to make their instruments sound like cello and piano, occasionally, and more often than not, not at all. Let's safely say it is not what you would find in an instruction manual for these instruments, or how these are taught. The music is quite abrasive in it is an approach towards electro-acoustic music. This duo isn't very careful when it comes to their respective instruments, but, as said, these instruments remain to be recognized. They scratch and scrape, hit and strum, and craft some great delicate rawness here if you can imagine such a thing. It is powerful and beautiful, although I can imagine it is not all too easy to listen to for some. This is the kind of music that requires your attention as, so I believe, you will miss out on something. (FdW)
––– Address: https://zoeefstathiou-odadyrnes.bandcamp.com/
JEPH JERMAN - QUARRY (7" lathe cut/CDR by Ballast)
This year, Ballast will release several lathe cut records, of which this is the second one. This is an edition of 26, of which 19 are sold to the public, and it comes in a box along with a CDR of "audio adjacent to the lathe recordings", and a small booklet with hand-written notes by Jerman, and further documentation about the project. The music uses field recordings Jerman did at Antelope Hill in Arizona. The site has been used by Native Americans as a source for stone used to make milling implements, and on the site, there are "many heavily patinated boulders displaying petroglyphs, ancient to modern". Jerman was looking for a boulder made by J.J. Glanton, a notorious scalp hunter. On his trail on the hill site, Jerman made photographs and recordings, using the stones on the site and, I assume, later on, he worked with those sounds. I might be wrong, of course, but I don't think these are the recordings as he made them. In 'Three' (the first track on the CDR) there are also some electronic sounds to be heard. But by and large, the music is 'acoustic', as we have come to know Jerman's music in the last twenty or so years. Working with elements from nature, rubbing stones, breaking sticks and crushing leaves, but also man-made material (fences, barbed wire) which I would think are heavily layered by him, and perhaps looped in an organic mass of sounds. As said, with perhaps a few additional electronics. This is not ambient music, nor pure field recordings. These works are interesting, complex pieces of soundscapes that deal with a location-based concept. Words, images and music are connected and amplify the meaning of it all. It is all around fascinating trip. At times, it all may sound so 'easy', but upon closer inspection, you realize it is not. A work of art! (FdW)
––– Address: https://ballastnvp.blogspot.com/
+D_A+ - CYBERNETIC CYNOCEPHALY (CDR by Love Eart Music)
Years ago, I was working in an office that was next to a building site. Well, next to is being polite. The building was octagon shape and the building work was happening on the ground floor in the middle. As well as on the third and fourth floors. Luckily I was on the 12th floor so as well as having an amazing view the noise didn’t really bother us too much. However, one day the drilling was so loud that my manager decided to let us go to the pub. Personally, I didn’t mind that much, as the music I was listening to on my headphones wasn’t a million miles away from the noise inside the building. On that day, though, I did find myself losing concentration due to the sounds echoing up from below. As I listen to ‘Cybernetic Cynocephaly’ by +D_A+ I’m reminded of that day.
While you couldn’t describe ‘Cybernetic Cynocephaly’ as the sound of construction, it does possess sounds that make concentrating on anything else almost impossible. There is something about the combination of huge rumbling drones and searing static noises that really, well, puts you on edge. It's uncomfortable for uncomfortable sake. Take the opening track for example. ‘Counterfeit Thinking’ opens slowly with this skittering, high-frequency loop. Under it, you can head a dank drone. Over the space of a few minutes, this drone swells takes stock of its situation and eventually breaks free into a gleefully abrasive noise. By the halfway mark, it's an all-consuming writhing mess. The final third really takes things up a notch. The unbearableness of it makes ‘Counterfeit Thinking’ more a war of attrition than a listening experience. Who will break first?
This, of course, is a wonderful thing. Too much music these days is a passive exercise. We put it on. Do something, work/cook/bathe/read/death scroll, until it's time to stop listening and do something else. What ‘Cybernetic Cynocephaly’ does is make us pay attention. Every single part of the album is designed to trigger a response. A wry smile when a sly melody appears. Turning down the volume when it gets too much, but also turning it up when we need more. Despite your reactions to a first listen, and the tone of this review so far, it’s a very balanced album. Never to +D_A+ really just go for it, for the sake of it. Instead, they layer melodies under miles of noise and sonic detritus. Once in a while, they remove the topsoil, so we can see what’s underneath, before covering everything up again. It's at these moments that the album truly becomes a sublime moment. At the start of ‘Nothing Left But Appetite’ there are these delightfully playful tones. They appear and reappear, a few times. It gives the proceedings a sense of whimsy. It is totally unexpected and throws us off balance. Whilst we’re disoriented, +D_A+ follow it up with a nice dose of skittering drones. Glorious stuff.
Overall, ‘Cybernetic Cynocephaly’ is an album to take delight in, but not one you’ll want to play all the time. It's an album that allows you to focus intently for 41-minutes. The subtle changes of tone are expertly delivered. After the first few listens everything sounds like it's drowning under layers and layers of noise, but on closer inspection, these layers are constantly moving, and it’s this continually writhing sound that gives the music its depth. (NR)
––– Address: http://www.loveearthmusic.com
RUBBER BUS - NOH YOGAH (CDR, private)
Following their pandemic reaction album, 'Return To Reason' (see Vital Weekly 1255), there is now a new release by Rubber Bus, the group around Saul Yarg. This contains recordings from their first concert since the beginning of the lockdown and has the band in full swing. And that means all six players on stage, armed with guitar, bass, synth, drums, samples, while there are guests on American tin clarinet, trumpet, slide guitar, percussion and synths. Re-reading my previous review, I seemed to moan about the fact Yarg called it ambient, and I'm begging to differ, and that word is also in the text here, along with dub and space-rock. Maybe it helped that I recently read a book on The Orb, which is actually one of the bands I still follow (book, by the way, not so great) and as I am playing this new Rubber Bus, I was thinking that this is how The Orb could sound if they had a more traditional line-up, so there is nothing to complain. The psychedelic elements that I heard in their previous release are present here as well, but now a bit rough around the edges. They mix their space rock with elements borrowed from dub music, which adds a wonderfully different flavour to the mix, and that too made me think of The Orb. Without the big dancey beats, of course, the music of Rubber Bus leans heavily on improvisation, and as such, they do a fine job. In the nine pieces here, one hears at times how they are searching for the 'right' groove, and jam around with their delay pedals for that additional dubby flavour. Unlike other space rock, drums and percussion aren't always hammering away, which is another fine difference. I wasn't spacing here, but a delightful hour was certainly had (more than one, as I returned to the disc a couple of times before committing these words). (FdW)
––– Address: http://rubberbus.bandcamp.com
INCAPACITANTS/HARSH NOISE MOVEMENT - PHOBIAPHOBIA (CDR by Love Earth Music)
MISSIONARY POSITION - VAGINAL WITCHERY (CDR by Love Earth Music)
Incapacitants need no introduction, now forty years on, Discogs gives HNM as “British experimental / noise artist. Started in March 2014. Ended August 2020.” As for Missionary Position, even less information, this release and one other in 2021. Aliases - Varmint and Feedback Queen gives a dozen others over the last 4 or so years... Incapacitants - T. Mikawi: Electronics. Voice, F. Kosaki, Electronics Voice, HNM, Electronics, Noise, Glass, Trash. Working now from the tracklisting, I get “Incapacitants Live at 20000V” and from this 1992 video. The video is only 9' 40”, this track 20' 24”. The CD track is recorded at -6 db? For some reason, perhaps that and the lack of visuals make it sound tamer? But the hallmark jumble of noise is still present, though even cranking up the volume the dynamic range seemed less, somewhat lacking the bass and treble of the video. I could find no other information about this release from a recording some 29 years ago. The Harsh Noise Movement's track was recorded at similar levels, and shared the monolithic rumble of the Incapacitants track, punctuated with the occasional tweek? If anything even less harsh. Maybe this is also a recording of a live performance. Missionary Position's Vaginal Witchery came in a sleeve with bondage illustrations and tracks 'I Just Want to Kill Again', 'The Spell of Pussy is in The Air Tonight' and 'Arcane Scents'. Strangely, this CD was mastered? At 0db, the main texture of the first two tracks being twisted static bursts, which at times roar... the last more 'buzzy' oscillator electronics at first before becoming more static bursts, again twisted, all three tracks are more 'noisy' then than the split. I find it difficult to say much more without any background as to why these releases were produced. I guess the Incapacitants track has some archive value, but if so, why no detailed documentation. Maybe likewise the HNM, though this project, it seems, lasted just 6 years? The Vaginal Witchery tracks competent enough if one can use such a term for noise, which highlights the aporia. Are the track titles ironic? And so the imagery and 'noise', otherwise in the immortal words of John McEnroe - "You Cannot Be Serious". (jliat)
––– Address: http://www.loveearthmusic.com
YELLOW6 - THE CLOUD FACTORY (CDR by Sound In Silence)
WESTERN EDGES - DEPENDENCY (CDR by Sound In Silence)
The previous release by Yellow6 for Sound In Silence was a real CD, a rarity for the label, but here it is back to CDR again. Yelow6 is a long-running project from Jon Attwood, the story of a man and his guitar, his effects and this time the absence of a drum machine. There seems to be a slight shift in the music, comparing it to the previous album I heard, 'Silent Streets And Empty Skies'. I wrote about that album, "I was thinking that those few pieces with a drum machine were not necessary at all; just the guitar tinkling and strumming away is fine enough", and I am sure Attwood doesn't accommodate reviewers, but this is the album that has that ambient sparseness. The strings are strummed, chords are looped and the effects colour the notes; there is lots of space for the delay pedals, chorus, reverb. There is throughout these ten pieces an excellent sense of desolation to be noted, the sombre tinkling of snowflake-like guitar notes. In each piece there are loops of guitar sound, intertwined yet open, slowly changing and on top of that Attwood sprinkles his sparse notes For each of these pieces he takes his time, which makes this quite a long album, sixty-seven minutes. That, I thought, was a bit long. There is, perhaps, only so much desolation one can need in the middle of summer.
Richard Adams is the man behind Western Edges and a long time he was the founding member of Hood. He has more moniker to release music as, The Declining Winter, Memory Drawings, Great Panoptique Winter and Northern Exchange, so all in all a busy bee. I am not sure what the difference is between all of these projects. This is the second time I hear him as Western Edges. The music here is all electronic, which those big waves they call synth pads, and the remote 4/4 drum in the background; the latter not all the time. This is high-tech ambient music that reminded me of Gas, Wolfgang Voigt's project, but perhaps not as concept based. It also goes back to the nineties ambient music, say Aphex Twin's 'Selected Ambient Works Volume 2', or other acts on Warp. It is all very safe music. There are no surprises, no radical jump cuts, but steady big washes of sounds, heavenly voices humming without words and the occasional thumping of the bass drum. I enjoyed this late revival of something quite old, but then, Gas is also still going. Is this dance music, so I was wondering. I am not sure about that. If dance music, I would think this is an underground party. As a soundtrack for home alone chill out party, in whatever state of mind really, this worked for me much better. Still, as before, some of this is a bit rushed, such as 'Lucy Hall Drive', which had the potential to be more but fades out quickly after it has reached the
––– Address: https://soundinsilencerecords.bandcamp.com/
TIBETAN RED & TOMASO CORBETTA - TRANSITION (CDR by Antahkarana Records)
In a letter from Tibetan Red that comes with this release, he writes that I know Tomaso Corbetta from previous work, but I must admit that I don't recall his release 'Wakes In Emptiness' (Vital Weekly 1177), but I gather from my review what he does. Tibetan Red started a long time ago and then the project went on a hiatus for a considerable number of years, and since coming back there have been a few releases, including a very recent collaboration with The Oval Language and Das Synthestische Mischgewebe (an excellent one at that). Corbetta penned some liner notes for this release, from which I won't quote, but it has to do with Zen, death and angels; it is dedicated to Angers Tebe, Tibetan Red's Salvador Francesch's wife, who passed away in December 2020. If I had the idea that Corbetta is a man to use the laptop, then this is surely the case with this release, which I would call a laptop duet. In three lengthy pieces, they explore the world of drones, by tearing them apart and zooming in, changing the fabric of the smallest particles. Lowercase music it was called at one point and while that term is not used a lot, I would still think that releases such as this are part of that particular musical genre. There is the minimal development, the radical frequencies, working here over time in both the high and the low end of the musical spectrum, all taking their time to come to full blossoming and ultimately to a decay. The way of all things, I say, no matter how much sadness the latter involves. I recognize some of Tibetan Red's trademark sounds, the sound of heavily amplified field recordings in 'Vanishing', the longest piece here and as far as I'm concerned the best of the three, and that doesn't mean I think the others aren't great. In terms of 'I have never heard such music before', I am afraid I must say, I did hear such music before, but not so much in recent years, so this is a fine later work from a somewhat forgotten musical area. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.salvadorfrancesch.com/
TRAINFANTÔME - NOUS SOMMES DANS UN REVE (cassette by Cudighi Records)
PSUEDO DESNUDO - FIRST MAN FROM THE SECOND MILLENNIUM (cassette by Cudighi Records)
BILL HORIST - TASTEMAKER EPICS (cassette by Cudighi Records)
Obviously, there is no way of knowing what goes in the minds of labels that send material this way for the first time. Maybe they know that in the distant past we reviewed music from Bill Horist, the solo guitar improviser, so why not send a new release, and add some pop music releases? It could, of course, very much be the other way round, and that on the heels of the more accessible music, we might try of Horist's experimental tunes? If you have been reading these pages for some time, then you know where this is heading, right? Two of the three releases sounds great, but are quite a bit of our musical scope. First, there is Train Fantôme, a French who play electronics, rhythm machines, guitar and sweet French vocals. 'We are in a dream", is the translation of the album's title, and that is about the extent of my French (pardon my). Lise Dua sings, and she sounds a bit like the girl who sang on those Nouvelle Vague records, not as husky though and brings back in memory music on Les Disques Du Crepuscule, Anna Domino, Isabelle Antena, and Mikado, of which I no longer recall how they sounded. Great music here, fine tunes throughout, a bit electronic, but the guitar makes it also a bit folky. That's about all I can tell.
Behind Psuedo Desnudo is Alejandro Gomez-Leos, who has his second album here. On Bandcamp, the label added these tags, "blues-rock, experimental rock, hypnagogic rock, post-punk, psychedelic pop, zolo, Los Angeles", all of which I can hear in the music; except for 'zolo', as I have no idea what that is, and Los Angeles. Names dropped are Devo, Zappa, Beefheart and They Might Be Giants. There is a comedic aspect to the music, so I believe to hear when I paid attention to the lyrics (which, this for the owner(s) of this label, is not something I do a lot; I just don't care for lyrics). The influences I can hear for as far I know, music by any of these influencers; of some, I am certainly no fan. Gomez-Leos sings and plays all the instruments, drums, guitar, and keyboards and does a fine job at that. I quite enjoyed this one, but again, I am too lost for words to describe music that isn't my natural habitat. If you are bored with drones, improvisation, noise or simply have a broader than I have (well, I do have a broader taste, not the expertise), then do check this out. Both of these releases that I call pop (I might be wrong) are great! Let's hope these non-reviews garners some interest.
So, then we have Bill Horist, player of the prepared guitar, solo or in collaboration with other improvisers. It has been quite some time since I last heard his music. I have no idea why there was a hiatus. Maybe his releases are digital or simply don't reach me. It is good to hear something new from him. Horist is one of those players in the field of improvisational musicians that aren't purely going for the all abstract drones or the endless sustaining of guitars stuck in a loop device, but in his music, there is room for melodic touches, repetition, odd changes and such things. The guitar remains to be a guitar and not something else. On YouTube, you can see how he prepares his guitar. I don't know if his music is the result of multi-tracking, or it is all played live. The music is quite complex, which may account for the first, but with modern technology, loopers again, it could very well be the latter. This is great music, I must say. The element of improvisation is kept within reason and in his music, Horist strives for control and composition. These pieces are well-rounded ones, head and tail and all that, plus there is quite some variation. 'The Internecine Creed' is a moody one, just as 'Remains of the Assiduous Diffidence', which is a very reduced piece, while 'Futility Knife: Gaining A Pointless Edge' is chaotic and tending towards a noisy end, and 'The Trends Justify The Memes' (a great title, so I think), is an open, looped strum on the guitar, spacious howling about. Long, at twelve minutes, but Horist never seems to repeat himself too much; just a bit, but slowly makes all the necessary changes and keeps the material vibrant enough. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cudighirecords.bandcamp.com/
BRYCE EIMAN - REMEDIES AGAINST DISCONTENTS (cassette by Full Spectrum)
The story, if I’m understanding correctly, is that North Carolina composer Bryce Eiman gave a big stack of his old four-track tapes from the early 1990s (recorded solo under the name Erosore and in collaboration with Peter Keller/Bacillus as the duo WOMB) to Full Spectrum’s Andrew Weathers to digitize. Weathers was impressed enough to talk him into releasing a selection of the stuff as an album, and it’s easy to understand how he’d come to that conclusion. “Remedies Against Discontents” contains twelve tracks of buzzing, dynamic analogue grit and passages of rough beauty made with a Casio SK5 and probably other low-tech devices… but none of it sounds like the experiments of a young explorer noob. These fully-formed tracks cover a range of densities and velocities, from full-static howl to patient tones and tense textural gnarl. The one constant is how engaging each piece is. Here’s a back-handed criticism: After each couple of tracks, I had to take a break to digest and process what I’d just heard, walk away from the stereo for a moment, then brace myself to continue digging the next volley’s grimy depths. I suppose I’ll soon be investigating the music that Eiman has created since these formative scraps… but first, I need to dip back into this tape a while longer. Some high points: the smeared music-box ghosts of “I Cannot Envy the Thorns About Me”; slithering creatures escaping from within “Digression of Air”; and the soft damp horror of “The Facts As I Heard Them”; the glistening tape crescendo of the ironically-monikered “Meter & Melody”. And so on. (HS)
––– Address: https://fullspectrumrecords.bandcamp.com/
KORAY KANTARCIOĞLU - HAVUZ I-II (cassette by Cloudchamber Recordings)
RURAL NOISE - THERE IS NO TALK IN MY MOUTH (cassette by Cloudchamber Recordings)
Like I wrote two weeks ago, when discussing an LP by Altars, Primož Bončina is the man behind that musical project and the label boss of Cloudchamber Recordings and that it seemed quiet from his end of the world for a while. Maybe that prompted him to send me these cassettes? The first is by Koray Kantarcıoğlu, an Istanbul based composer whom I had not heard before, despite a previous release on Cloudchamber in 2016. 'Havuz' means 'pool' in Turkish, and he uses loops from Turkish records and these samples are manipulated by him to create some interesting atmospheric music. While it fits the profile of all things lo-fi, the sort of stuff that Cloudchamber releases, its use of sounds that we recognize as piano and guitar makes this something of an oddball in this particular musical scene. These musical loops play an important role in the music, but not exclusively. There are moments when these pieces slip into abstraction, which works very much to the advantage of the release, I think. There are, on one hand, the melodic touches upon a keyboard and guitar against waves of synthesizers and ripples of rain recordings, which makes a more than elegant atmospheric release. At times very filmic, such as in the opening minutes of 'Havuz II". Excellent release, throughout!
The other new release is by Rural Noise, which is the musical project of Mark Lyken. He's a sound artist and filmmaker and runs the Soft Error label. He plays noise generator, radio, effect pedals and the messages for this release are rather cryptic; "a conversation with radiowaves, electronics and the overgrowth. Searching for frequencies in the attic, in the bushes. Picking up the forest network communication protocols between fungi and trees." The Bandcamp page lists eight pieces, all the same length, four minutes and thirty seconds and if the one by Kantarcıoğlu, represents a slightly unusual melodic touch in the lo-fi field, one could say that this the opposite end of that lo-fi scene, but perhaps also something that is not as uncommon. Rural Noise plays noise, whether or not this is Rural, I don't know. In each of the pieces, flowing one into the next and so on, Rural Noise plays a rather dry sort of noise music, and it is all very minimal. Within each of the sections, there is not much change. The distorted crackle and low rumbles are set in motion and stay in similar motion without too many differences. This makes this a shortish but strong conceptual release, variations upon a theme if you will. Sometimes it sounds as something is burning, and I love that. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cloud-chamber.bandcamp.com/