Vital Weekly, the webcast: we offer a weekly webcast,
freely to download. This can be regarded as the audio-supplement to
Vital Weekly. Presented as a radioprogramm with excerpts of just some
of the releases reviewed. It will remain on the site for a
limited period (most likely 2-4 weeks). Download the file
your MP3 player and enjoy!
MICHEL REDOLFI – SONIC WATERS, UNDERWATER MUSIC 1979-1987 (CD by Sub Rosa) *
NEZNAMO - MOLVA (CD by Muzyka Voln/Moon Sun) *
CLAUDIO F. BARONI & DARIO CALDERONE - URSAE MINORIS (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
ENSEMBLE DAL NIENTE: CONFINED. SPEAK. (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
DANIEL PESCA: PROMONTORY (CD by Neuma Records) *
GIANLUCA BECUZZI - MANA (2CD by Standa) *
DEISON / TONIZZO - UNA NOTTE CHE NON FINISCE MAI (CD and book by 1970) *
PHILIPPE MEYOHAS - EM CLAUSTRO, EM TORMENTA (CD by A Casa Discos) *
GEORGE HADOW & DIRK SERRIES - CHAPEL (CD by Creative Sources Recordings) *
APERUS - WEATHER ANOMALIES (CD by Geophonic Records) *
PHILIPPE LAURENT - NOCTURNES (CD by Schwerkraft Records) *
MAQUINA MAGNETICA (CD by Cronica Electronica/Sonoscopia) *
PIERRE BERTHET & RIE NAKAJIMA - MANI MANI (CD by Kohlhaas) *
ELIOTT SHARP - PHLOGISTON (CD by Erototox Decodings) *
DIE ANGEL - LIVE IN AUSTIN (LP by Erototox Decodings) *
FRANCK VIGROUX - MATÉRIAUX (LP by Erototox Decodings) *
ANTONIS LIVIERATOS - REGISTRY OF INADEQUATE SELF-HEALING ATTEMPTS (LP by Same Difference Music) *
TIM OLIVE - RIBBON (cassette by Notice Recordings) *
LUCY YIOU & YSKA - A NEED-A WANT (cassette by Notice Recordings) *
MNOMIZED & POOL PERVERT - SOUL MIRROR (cassette by Noninterrupt) *
GÜNTER SCHLIENZ - UNSTET (cassette by Meditape) *
ARIA ROSTAMI - MARAMAR (cassette, private) *
KYLE JESSEN - MAKE THE RIGHT MAN BLEED (cassette by Gertrude Tapes) *
MICHEL REDOLFI – SONIC WATERS, UNDERWATER MUSIC 1979-1987 (CD by Sub Rosa)
If Michel Redolfi can be credited with one thing, it’s getting me back into the water. I was parthinogenerated with an insurmountable fear of water (comparable to Audrey Rose’s firefear), and Ihave only fully immersed myself in the wet stuff twice in 35 years. The first time was in 1994 when Michel Redolfi presented Crysallis – An Underwater Opera five times in a swimming pool in Amsterdam. Performers wore scuba gear and played underwater instruments. However, most of the sounds in these underwater concerts are pre-recorded because there aren’t many instruments that work effectively underwater, but they did bring along a SOSNO, consisting of tuned bars that had piezo sensors stuck onto them, which when struck, triggered Synclavier samples or other electronic sound sources and sequences via MIDI. (Metallophones are the most suitable instruments to play underwater, for obvious reasons.) The soprano, Yumi Nara, was encased in a giant resin oxygen-fed jellyfish that was half-submerged in the water. The sounds were routed through a custom-built underwater digital controller, and Redolfi stood submerged in the pool and mixed all the different elements into a composition that was transmitted through underwater transducers. And here’s the thing: you couldn’t hear the music if you weren’t in the water. The sound entered your body by bone conduction, specifically through the skull bones.
With 19 releases to his name, long-term readers of this screensheet will doubtless be familiar with Michel Redolfi even if they don’t know his music; his work has been reviewed here several times. Redolfi is an electronic composer who creates totally unique sound environments devoid of immediately recognisable influences. Over the years he has built up an arsenal of sounds and processing techniques that recur across his many compositions as instruments in an electroacoustic orchestra of his own making.
After studying classical music, Redolfi decided to specialise in electroacoustic sound-shaping and was a co-founder of the Groupe de Musique Expérimentale de Marseille (GMEM) in 1969. After spending 13 years in California, firstly in the studios of the University of Wisconsin, at the California Institute of the Arts, and then as a researcher at the University of California in San Diego, he returned to France in 1986, where he was appointed head of the CIRM national studios in Nice. He was also director of the MANCA festival, an international event celebrating alternative sound creation in Nice, until 1998. In 2002 he co-founded Audionaute, a studio that focuses on multimedia creation and sound design (https://audionaute.com).
As far as I know this is Redolfi’s ‘thing’ – he was in all likelihood the first composer to perform music underwater (no one else has stepped forward to claim the title). The concept was premiered in 1978 with a salt water performance of Sonic Waters in La Jolla Cove, San Diego, California. Numerous fresh- and salt water concerts followed in swimming pools and lakes, along coastlines and close to coral reefs, and he was still performing these concerts until quite recently. Music from these Sonic Waters concerts has already appeared on two eponymously titled CDs (in 1984 and 1989, both on art HAT). This new release, Sonic Waters, Underwater Music 1979-1987 is the third – very welcome – compilation of historic underwater recordings.
The CD is divided into two parts, or movements: Music for Fresh Water and Music for Salt Water. The first 6 tracks are recordings of the main movements of Sonic Waters recorded at its fresh water premiere in a heated swimming pool in La Rochelle in 1981, one month after the salt water premieres in San Diego. The intimate recordings of the many moods of water are accompanied by the sounds of digitally processed, modulating flute and harp frequencies specially selected to excite the listeners’ experience through bone conduction,. These cascade and ripple and swirl: I can’t touch them but I can seefeel them. What I really like is how close Redolfi brings us to the sounds: waves become pebbles become waves and I am in between and both of them simultaneously. Submit to the undertow, dissolve in the flute maelstrom, be cast ashore or cast away as snap-crackle-pop foam. Keep on scudding!
Track 7 is a documentary recording that serves as a prelude to the last three tracks. It was made during the salt water premiere in San Diego. Recordings of the bioacoustic activity of the giant kelp forest and its resident crustaceans, bivalves and other marine beasties warbling, chitter-chattering, farting and biting chunks out of each other are mixed at the same level as the music – yes, innovative composers already did this decades ago, hence my annoyance with the hype nowadays around concept-copycats who bask in being lauded as pioneers while ignoring the giants on whose shoulders they stand. David Dunn’s Chaos & the Emergent Mind of the Pond, on Angels and Insects (¿What Next? Recordings, 1990), is another fine earlier example of this type of interspecies audio-voyeurism.
The first of the salt water pieces, track 8, is an interplay of synthesised sounds and their ambient underwater echoes, inspired by Francis Bacon’s utopian novel The New Atlantis (1626): ‘harmonies, which you have not of quarter sounds and lesser slides of sounds. Divers instruments of music likewise to you unknown […] machines allowing the weakest and most distant sound to be heard, artificial echoes, illusion effects to deceive the senses.’ Enter the sonority. Track 9, Wind And Sea, was recorded at a legendary Californian surfing spot, also the location where Redolfi ran his trials for his underwater concerts. The sounds of tubular waves are blended with hydrophone recordings of the subsurface turbulence they generate. The tenth and final track, inspired by a cove in San Diego where seabirds gather on a rocky overhang, is an inner-outer space tone poem created from distilled memories of previous Sonic Waters performances. We return ever so briefly to the cascading harp that opens this CD before a final ripple brings this earbath to a close.
Plenty of people who I have introduced to this music agree that it is a perfect soundtrack to accompany heroic doses. Hang on tightly but better to let go lightly. Hamlet’s Mill may creak but it still grinds, so if I do end up swimming with the fishes – for many of us a possible fate churning and roiling just beyond the breakwaters of our imaginations – then I hope this music is (some of) what I hear before I open my blowhole for the last time and drift seabedwards to become a crab’s supper. (MP)
––– Address: https://subrosalabel.bandcamp.com/
NEZNAMO - MOLVA (CD by Muzyka Voln/Moon Sun)
Quite some time has passed since I reviewed 'Aiwyasto' (Vital Weekly 987) by Dmitry Shilov, also known as Neznamo. His albums before that I have not heard. A six-year gap doesn't equal a six-year silence. Shilov was active with other projects, such as Majdanek Waltz, Noises Of Russia, etc. and did a few limited cassettes. Just as on the previous release, there is a single piece on this new CD; a bit shorter this time, forty-one instead of forty-two minutes. Also, as before, I have no idea what kind of sound sources Meznamo uses, but it is safe to say it is a mixture of synthesizers, sound effects, field recordings (which, so I believed six years ago, wasn't a feature on the previous release) and some heavily treated instruments. In the opening minutes, I detected (well, believe to notice) the sound of birds on a loop, along with some delicate, fat drones. From there on, the piece unfolds slowly... or, instead, follows a slow course in minimal changes. I understand that Neznamo used fragments and pieces from 2012 to 2019 to create this recording. That may account for some of the changes in the music, as opposed to the very few to no changes of his previous release. There are three main sections here (the first ten minutes and the other two around fifteen minutes), slowly fading away and fading in a new one. Throughout, the music is peaceful and quiet and un-quiet at the same time. The processed bells and voices added a kind of sacral atmosphere, that of the incense in an orthodox church or the damp smell in a forest, just minutes before a few hooded men will start a ritual. The humming of voices, the ringing of bells and the soft crackles of fire make this a very ritual piece of music. It is just not easy to say which denomination. I might be too down to earth (or believe so to be) for those aspects of this music, but as someone who enjoys a fine piece of ambient/drone music, I very much enjoyed this, detaching myself from the overtones this work also has. (FdW)
––– Address: https://muzykavoln.bandcamp.com/
CLAUDIO F. BARONI & DARIO CALDERONE - URSAE MINORIS (CD by Moving Furniture Records)
Imagine: you enter an empty, ruined building. As you mount the stairs you hit the rungs of the stairway banister with a stick, then you find some long cables and you start vibrating them, until the whole building resonates. And as you leave, the racket culminates and subsides into another aeon of empty silence.
Far from: Claudio Baroni has composed a piece for double bass using the celestial map of Ursae Minoris (the little bear) to generate pitch and timbre he then puts into a score and develops into music together with the bassist Dario Calderone. Well?
The press release itself claims that all the eclectic background can be well ignored and the music enjoyed without. It did not convince me, anyway. What we hear is a mixture of Paul Panhuysen and David Jackman - using bowed strings (actually the bass being bowed in a variety of odd ways) to build tension and an all-encompassing sound. Three 'movements' are presented that differ in the sound type used, the first percussive, the second and third using bowed sounds in different ways. The result is most impressive in the second track, building a continuous hum that mounts and mounts.
Mixed feelings here: an impressive sound in movement two, that is well worth the extended listen of 20 minutes, but a bit tedious and repetitive first and third part - the Ursae story appears as an intellectual exercise without a tangible result. (RSW)
––– Address: https://movingfurniturerecords.bandcamp.com/
ENSEMBLE DAL NIENTE: CONFINED. SPEAK. (CD by New Focus Recordings)
Ensemble Dal Niente did not stop working across the Covid years and here presents a collection of works they live-streamed during 2020 and 2021. The release sports six compositions by Melissa Vargas, George Lewis, Tomás Gueglio, Hilda Paredes, Igor Santos, and Andile Khumalo. Although you would expect a variety of styles, the ensemble manages to deliver a very consistent album of modern classical music.
Maybe the music was written especially to the needs of Dal Niente, maybe it was the times, maybe it was the choice of composers. The Chicago-based musicians make best use of the instruments at their disposal and from track 3 onwards a soprano voice joins the ensemble and is used to best effect. Sometimes reminding of the way Zeitkratzer use instruments to produce 'noise' and expand the classical modern universe towards electronic and abstract repertoires, Dal Niente uses some of these elements, meandering between single instrument shout-outs and ensemble vehemence, in an approach that reminds more of the early and mid-20th Century composers than contemporary classical music.
The last track is by South African composer Andile Khumalo, who here confronts violence against women. It consists of a musical score with an added soprano voice that also includes some spoken word passages. As usual, these are presented with excessive drama, and if I had not read the press release, I would have had a completely different take on what the composer's aim was. Personally, I would prefer not having an over-dramatised voice overlaying music, though I understand the composer's intentions. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/
DANIEL PESCA: PROMONTORY (CD by Neuma Records)
Covid is leaving its traces ... here is another album making best use of the lock-down times to retreat into introspection, concentrate and perceive your environs more than ever. With a string of lock-down releases now coming out, I believe the common quality is that of concentration, drawing from own impulses, working alone and not in real-time ensembles, and thus being less susceptible to outside influences, distractions, and dilutions.
Daniel Pesca is a pianist and (not surprisingly) this album compiles 14 solo-piano tracks by 3 composers and Pesca himself. The styles vary from expressionist to impressionist, nevertheless still delivering a consistent atmosphere. Here and there you even hear a slight slip into jazz phrases. Are Pesca's pieces written or improvised? Does it even matter? All pieces address places (amongst others a series on Hyde Park) and occurrences (cats), again using Covid as a looking glass and magnifier. Whether or not a listener can tell this background from the music alone, is a different question. But it is also another of the solo releases we might not have had without Covid, with artists concentrating on their one instrument as the opportunities for interacting with others in an ensemble dwindle away. The booklet, anyway, apart from offering beautiful location photography, also presents texts by the respective composers, explaining their thoughts when writing the music.
This is a very enjoyable release, I must say. Not just because I play the piano. Are we having a return to early 20th Century classics again? I perceive there is a growing number of releases that leave the style of contemporary classics that started with the likes of John Cage behind them. The pieces are far less 'abstract', intellectually charged and constructed and follow the guidelines of melody and dissonance whilst not over-straining the listener's patience. (RSW)
––– Address: https://neumarecords.org/
GIANLUCA BECUZZI - MANA (2CD by Standa)
As I am playing this new release by Gianluca Becuzzi, I realize he made an exciting turn from his project Kinetix (of which I am not sure if he still uses that) to the music under his name. There are also various other projects, of which I may or may not have heard. Kinetix was a laptop project, relatively 'clean' if I recall well, but as Becuzzi, his music is quite dirty. Here he picks up the guitar, refreshes all the batteries in his stompboxes to make sure we hear it all, and adds metallic percussion, flute loops, violins, and other hard-to-define sounds to the mix. Also, the subject is new (or old, depending on how you look at it). "In anthropology, the concept of mana identifies a supernatural impersonal power. It manifests itself through men as power or superiority, bestowed upon them by spirits", he says and how it is a duality all around; "presence and absence. Affirmation and denial. Power and lightness. The ostentation and the subtraction". Of course, maximum versus minimum, too, as Becuzzi erects some severe guitar wall of noise here. Coupled with the slow, pounding rhythms, this is a form of noise rock or ambient metal. This music can only be played very loud, and only then it makes sense. Of course, I wish I had a house that allowed for such a volume, but writing for Vital Weekly doesn't mean a mansion in the country. Becuzzi has the aggression of a one-man orchestra, thunderous and silent - another duality. Think Penderecki and Feldman, but set for guitar, amplifiers and distortion pedals. We are served two CDs, which is more than I could digest. I enjoyed both in equal parts but in one long session. With each of these discs spanning fifty minutes, I think that one a day is more than enough, and let's keep the doctor away. Likewise, I may not fully understand the concept behind this, but I feel the intensity ringing loud and clear. (FdW)
––– Address: http://store.silentes.it/
DEISON / TONIZZO - UNA NOTTE CHE NON FINISCE MAI (CD and book by 1970)
1970 is a new label from the house of Silentes. The first release is a 48 pages book, 21x21 cm, with a crime story by Sandra Tonizzo, about the 'Monster of Florence'. I don't know this from reading her stories. I am copying this information from the website as the story (or eight short ones) is Italian. Damn! How I would have loved to sit back read them while enjoying the music of Deison. Each story may have its own soundtrack, as there are eight pieces on the CD. Again not sure, but I wondered if the reading time in any way matched the playing time of the music. 'In Voluptas Mors' lasts one minute, which seems a reasonably quick read. You can leave it to Deison to play a moody soundtrack to a horror story. Maybe we can see all of his music as such? As with many releases of this kind, I think the whole soundtrack idea results in way too brief pieces of music. This release by Deison is not different. Some have the length they deserve, such as the first, fourth, fifth and last piece. Here Deison reaches for the strength of mood music; dark drones, heavy atmospheres and shimmering with tension. That only happens in the other four pieces because the ingredients are there but now only as sketches. The idea is there, and it only needs more work. The odd-ball track here is 'Signo Farini', a two minute sound collage of voices chopped up, all of this in Italian, so (again), its meaning eludes me. All in all, I am a bit disappointed. The text I don't understand but wish to, and music that is at times too brief. I know translating texts is a costly affair, but you'd reach a wider audience. (FdW)
––– Address: http://store.silentes.it/
PHILIPPE MEYOHAS - EM CLAUSTRO, EM TORMENTA (CD by A Casa Discos)
This release has been on my desk for some days, weeks maybe, and I played it, bits of it, and thinking I will return to it one day. Something holds me back. Perhaps it is the modern classical nature of the music, and I believe there is so much modern classical on offer for Vital Weekly these days. Maybe it is, along with improvisation, the only musical area in which a physical release is still made. Occasionally reviewing one led to getting more and more of this kind of music, and then suddenly someone might say, 'Vital Weekly, experts in the field'. No, no, we're not. Not even by a long stretch. Philippe Meyohas is a Brazilian composer, and he released two EPs. He calls 'Em Claustro, Em Tormenta' his full-length album; it clocks in at twenty-eight minutes. The three pieces are for vibraphone, marimba, and piano; the composer plays around with electronic manipulations from these instruments. The music has a relaxed, non too demanding character, meandering about, with piano, marimba and vibraphone playing at the time what seems random notes in fixed measures. The sustaining sound of both percussion instruments creates a somewhat more spacious atmosphere, enhanced by the fact that the piano's sustain pedal is also down most of the time. I don't know whatever electronics used to treat the sounds further, and I am not all too sure if I can hear these. As said, it is not too demanding, almost in an ambient sort of way, but if you turn up the volume, it all becomes a bit more chaotic and uneasy. I think I enjoyed this better at a quieter volume. It is quite strange, but I lack the parlance to discuss this. (FdW)
––– Address: https://philippemeyohas.bandcamp.com/
GEORGE HADOW & DIRK SERRIES - CHAPEL (CD by Creative Sources Recordings)
Sometimes I wonder why it takes years for something to find its way to a release, but in this case, you could think: wow, that's really fast. The concert that we find on these recordings dates from September 4, so about two months ago. I must assume the CD went into production the day after the concert. I believe I had not yet the pleasure to hear music as part of a duo (in some bigger groups, yes), and he teams up with recent improvised music convert Dirk Serries. The latter is on guitar. I would think this CD covers all (or almost all) of the concert they played that night, without too much editing or otherwise altering of the material. No attempts were made to make it different, and I should think, leaving us the audio testimony of the night. This is close to fifty minutes of a wild ride. Much of the interaction takes place in full hectic action, with a considerable amount of chaos. However, I would think that some of Hadow's playing involves patterns to be repeated before he realizes that they should be broken up. Maybe that adds a sort of free-jazz feeling to the music. Serries reacts accordingly, and together they spin some interesting pieces. I could imagine a situation with a bit more control, allowing them to break up much of this into shorter pieces; cut out the quiet bits, which no doubt document the night, but also take away some of the speed and aggression in these pieces, which it could have all the way through. I understand the need to document 'as is', but at the same time, I can see the possibilities also lying within these recordings. It might be a good idea to get these two back in the studio and record short pieces of the free-range improvisation coupled with young man aggression of a fresh punk band (which, of course, this is not). All of this is captivating music, raw and untamed. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.creativesourcesrec.com/
APERUS - WEATHER ANOMALIES (CD by Geophonic Records)
Following 'Archais Signal' (Vital Weekly 1256), there is another new release by Brian McWilliams' music project. The gap between that one and this one seems shorter than before. Maybe a sign that Covid-19 meant that staying at home is good for music production? Climatic changes inspired this new release, in time with the Glasgow climate summit, also this week. To that end, Aperus went back to his earliest field recordings, which dealt with weather recordings and used his array of analogue equipment to transform these recordings. This gear is "Soma Lyra-8, DSI OB6, Korg Trinity, Roland Juno 106, Software Sampler, Processed Guitar, Field Recordings, Shortwave Radio, Tapes, Loops, Effects". I understand that much of this was played in a few sessions, live in the studio. That is not how Aperus usually works, but the spontaneity works here very well. And maybe, so I mused, this doesn't differ that much from his previous, more wrought work, but the devil is in the details. This time around, none of the tracks are overly long or outstay their welcome. The title track can carry the sixteen minutes storm passage with great ease and connects to the world of lo-fi sound makers. Throughout that element of lo-fi seems to return in the original field recordings and the treatments and the use of loops. That gives the music an even darker image than what Aperus usually does, I think. Maybe it is a connection to today's world, with climate change and weather becoming more extreme. More heat, more cold, more wind, and all of that with some heavier destructive forces in the future. There is also a piece such as 'Collective Memory', which is lighter and perhaps cast a bit of bright(er) light for the future. If only we were prepared to take care! As always, this release comes with postcards and fine print work, topping another damn fine release by Aperus. For all you zoviet*france and Fossil Aerosol Mining Project fans, this is certainly a name to watch. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.geophonicrecords.com/
PHILIPPE LAURENT - NOCTURNES (CD by Schwerkraft Records)
The first time I came across the name Philippe Laurent was when I heard his song on 'Rising From The Red Sand'. It was called 'Et Hop' and was a fun little pop ditty that stood out on the otherwise serious compilation. In the 80s, I heard some more of his music, similar funky short pop songs. Minimal Wave compiled his early recordings into an album some years ago. Thanks to this release, Laurent decided to record new music and, aside from working with people such as Airworld and Richard Pinhas (see Vital Weekly 1070), there is also new solo work. As a word, 'Nocturnes' sounds very Chopin-like, and it is interesting to see Laurent locked away his pop sensibilities and now going for more cosmic music. Cosmic with a strong love for all things, I might add. He is no longer restricted to the three-minute format and expands heavily on his themes. The shortest nocturne might be three minutes, but many are more prolonged, culminating in the final one, which is just over fifteen minutes. You can debate if this is nocturnal music. Laurent uses melancholic melodies, but the characteristic bleeps from his early have not disappeared. The Berlin School of electronic music is certainly an inspiration here, with its arpeggio's and long spun pieces of mild bouncing synthesizer parts. The sixth nocturne is a textbook example of that and among my favourites of this release. It has a great built-up and natural progression. Also, it dispenses with the bleeps, which I found most enjoyable. It breaks the ambient mood too much for me when they pop up, but luckily that doesn't happen a lot. Throughout, this is a most enjoyable release, well-suited for early evening consumption, along with a glass of wine and a good book. CD to be repeated! (FdW)
––– Address: https://schwerkraftrecords.bandcamp.com/merch
MAQUINA MAGNETICA (CD by Cronica Electronica/Sonoscopia)
Here we have two labels from Portugal, from the same city even (Porto), and both labels deliver musicians to the project Maquia Magnetica. Sonoscopia's boss Gustavo Costa on drums, Cronica boss Miguel Carvalhais, teaming with his @C mate Pedro Tudela. They are both on computers. Rodrigo Carvalho is the fourth player, "on generative visuals and interactive lights". He might not be on the CD, but images grace the cover. This group has played a few concerts and a few studio recordings, and all of this went into the pieces on this CD. This release is not a documentation of a show or the result of studio recording, but, at least that's what I gather from the information, a document of their shared interest in playing free music. However, the music is not necessarily pure, free improvisation but a restructuring of sounds. If you will, this music is part of the musique concrète tradition. That means there is an organisation within the improvisation here. At least, that's how I see this, and maybe I am wrong. With Costa using a fair share of electronics, the music has throughout an electronic character, in which the drums only sparsely sound like drums. There are quite a few drone and drone-related sounds to be noted, and another assumption is that Tudelo and Carvalhais also apply real-time processing. The characteristic hectic of improvised music (well, it is not a rule, of course) is only partly present here. Maybe it is due to the post-recording editing that this was changed, but it might also be inherent to their way of playing this music. I found this CD to be a slow grower. Every time I played this, I heard something more and noted the structures they created within the music. This release could appeal to those who like improvisation and those for whom that is too weird, but whose heads are all turned to musique concrète. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cronica.bandcamp.com/
PIERRE BERTHET & RIE NAKAJIMA - MANI MANI (CD by Kohlhaas)
About ten weeks ago, I wrote about an LP with music from Pierre Berthet, Antonin Doppagne and Pierre Gerard. I mentioned I had not heard of the first two before, but now a second release with music by Berthet arrived, and I learned he is a Belgium sculptor of sound. He used steel, plastic, water, motors, vacuum cleaners and played the percussion for Arnold Dreyblatt. With Rie Nakajima, he has an ongoing collaborative project, and on this CD, we have the recordings of a concert they did in 2020 in Leipzig. From the description, I understand that in this concert, they used "resonant buckets, reverberating rocks, small bowls, self-crafted engines and mobiles"; a more or less installation piece, in which the two move around and set these things in motion. A possible problem with this kind of installation work on a CD (LP, etc.) is that we certainly may lose something without the visual component. It all is about the way it sounded now, removed from the space where the action was. Had I not read the information, I would not have guessed the instruments they use here; I would not know what to make of it. In the first part (say, the first ten minutes) there is a rhythmic aspect to their action, nervously playing some instruments. This is followed by a quieter passage, in which the action is at some remote distance. The second half sees the two in a different kind of action. Here water sounds play a role, and what could be throat singing (but indeed is not), and all of this, is on the subdued side of things. There is some well-controlled action going on here, and one that I am absolutely clueless about it all. All of this slowly unfolds and evolves until some ringing pitched sound is left, another indication of a percussionist at work. I immensely enjoyed this release, even when it was all slightly obscure; what did I just hear? (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.kohlhaas.it/
ELIOTT SHARP - PHLOGISTON (CD by Erototox Decodings)
DIE ANGEL - LIVE IN AUSTIN (LP by Erototox Decodings)
FRANCK VIGROUX - MATÉRIAUX (LP by Erototox Decodings)
I have seen this name since the early 80s, and someone whose music I heard very occasionally; Eliott Sharp. Wake me up and ask me what the man does, and I couldn't answer. Not even wide awake, so there you go. I won't even speculate. I am pleasantly surprised by this record, which, so I read, is his first "purely electronic and synthesised record to date". Sharp to the modules! As I am unfamiliar with his previous work, which I think lies in improvisation and rock, I can only speculate about how this was made. Like many others who work with modular electronics, I can imagine that Sharp directly approaches the material. Set up a complex system of modules, check the parameters of each, and sketch out what you want and get to a formal execution of that; repeat that until one is satisfied. So we learn, the title is "aptly named after a substance supposed by 18th-century chemists to exist in all combustible bodies and be released in combustion". I think Sharp is trying to play out some of that combustion in his music. Each of the four pieces is a tour de force in terms of the number of sounds, the complexity of the compositions and the hardly careful approach to his music. It only very occasional becomes something quiet, but it never seems to stay quiet for very long. Much of this music remains on the abstract side of things, and it hardly ever touch upon repetition; parts of 'Terra Fluida' do. There is a fine 'modern electronics' feel throughout this record, but then from someone working outside of the official world. Great record!
I must admit I didn't follow the career of Die Angel, the duo of Ilpo Väisänen (who you may know from Pan Sonic) and Dirk Dresselhaus (otherwise known as Schneider TM). I reviewed some of their earliest releases, but that dried up after Mego stopped mailing promos to here. In 2019 (I think), they toured the USA, and for me, this is a re-connection to their music. Honestly, I have no clue how their old releases sounded; it's been a long time. While both men may have a history in music with rhythm, it only plays a small role in Die Angel (how does one pronounce that? in German or in English?). A much more significant role in their music is reserved for drones, taken from their analogue gear. Die Angel spreads these drones wide and thick, and below the surface, they bury the rumbling of objects, going through a line of effects. The additional elements are heavily effected strings, loops of clicks, buzzes, and the second half (well, second side), a rhythm, ending the concert on a more tribalistic note with distorted guitar sounds. The music is throughout to be labelled as 'heavy'. And I am sure they play at a loud volume too. There is not a lot of room to breathe for the listener. The music here is heavy as a rock, and probably heavy rock is a genre that inspired Die Angel.
Some years ago, Franck Vigroux popped up regularly on these pages, but somehow that stopped. I gave up wondering why. Vigroux started with turntables, then went synthesiser, then guitar, and then back to electronic. So, after some silence, we still find the man behind his electronic devices and here he has ten relatively short pieces on his latest record. If I learned one thing about this musician, it is that always surprises me. He's not the man to stick to one musical interest, but he pursues various areas. I wouldn't compare him to the omnivore Richard Youngs, as Vigroux stays firmly within the field of experimental music; techniques and instruments may vary. The pieces on 'Matérieux' show a more abstract side of his work. It almost sounds like music for films. Horror films at times ('Matérieux VI' with its church organs in overdrive!), but 'Matérieux VII' is something more intense and ambient. The one that follows is a two-minute nerve-wracking noise piece, going into a quiet modus for the next. 'Matérieux III' has that Pan Sonic rhythm, but spaced out and sadly should have lasted longer than the allotted 53 seconds. In that sense, Vigroux bounces all over the place with these ten pieces. He is reaching for the loud and the quiet, sitting cosey next to each other. I quite enjoy the variation that Vigroux has in his music, even when the one you will hear in the podcast might not be representative. I thought it was a pity that some of these pieces weren't any longer! (FdW)
––– Address: https://erototoxdecodings.bandcamp.com/
ANTONIS LIVIERATOS - REGISTRY OF INADEQUATE SELF-HEALING ATTEMPTS (LP by Same Difference Music)
While the cover lists a whole bunch of sound sources (Rhodes piano, Korg CX3 organ, electric guitar, electric bass, Korg MS20, Dave Smith Evolver and Dave Smith Tetra synths, voice, tapes, radios and sample), I would say that the guitar is the most important one. The name of Antonis Livieratos is a new one for me. I assume he's from Greece, just like the label is. I played this record a couple of times but found it hard to figure what Livieratos wanted with his music. He knows how to play the guitar, has melodic bits and pieces, from a somewhat rock/blues like background via some heartfelt string bending, but at the same time, the music is at times abstract, experimental and sounds partly improvised. That blues side in 'A Letter Never Sent' is followed by 'Muddy Waters', a nine-minute drone piece based upon a burning guitar, tons of effects, and what seems some ghostly transmissions from the other side. The longest piece is 'The Moon (Almost Full)', which takes up the central portion of the second side, sees Livieratos playing quick guitar motifs and field recordings of chirping insects. 'I'm Ready', the closing track here is a gentle strum with airy synthesizers/electronics, worlds apart from the opener 'Thirty-Seven', with its raw and chaotic guitar struggles. These five tracks show a wide scope of musical interests Livieratos has, but you could wonder if he didn't cast his net too wide. You have to be a very open-minded listener to enjoy all of this. I can imagine some liking his drone work, and others marvel at his guitar playing, but both? I am that sure, here. The man is undoubtedly a great guitarist and has a lot to tell, that's for sure. (FdW)
––– Address: https://samedifferencerecords.bandcamp.com/
TIM OLIVE - RIBBON (cassette by Notice Recordings)
LUCY YIOU & YSKA - A NEED-A WANT (cassette by Notice Recordings)
The last time I wrote about Tim Olive (Vital Weekly 1291), it said, "Now, here's quite a rare thing: a solo release by Tim Olive. His previous solo release is from 2008. Maybe it is the pandemic thing that forced him to do this work? In normal circumstances, he would travel to, say, Europe and tour with a partner." Obviously, I was too quick on that, as here's another solo work from him. As with his previous release, Olive works at home with his tools, including objects and amplification. These are his primary tools, but unlike his live work, he creates various layers of his playing at home. Effectively he plays with other people, even when the 'other' is Olive himself. In good musique concrète, these layers are edited and mixed to make a more or less coherent whole. What I find interesting is that Olive, at the same time, maintains an improvised music sensibility. Not in a chaotic way, hectic rumbling and shaking of his amplified objects, but moving them around carefully, giving room to them, not editing too precisely, but carefully letting a mistake (what is a mistake anyway), and at the same time taking care that sounds don't overstay their welcome. Using amplification allows for a particular distortion in his music, but that too is worked on with the highest effort, not to create a noise record, but allow the noise to be an equal partner in the music. At times this sounds like a classical noise record, early New Blockaders in 'Ribbon 2', and then again, something introspective and 'quiet', culminating in the excellent drone ending of 'Ribbon 4'. At thirty minutes, perhaps short, but all the same, quite powerful as well.
I must admit I hadn't heard a release from Notice Recordings in some time, but I always thought it was a label for all things improvised. This new release by Lucy Liyou and Yska proves me a (bit) wrong. Liyou plays piano and Yska the guitar, and the latter provides the words. I am not sure who is singing them. Maybe the word 'singing' is not the right word here. In some cases, this is text-to-speech software, which has a mechanical feel to it. Sometimes the voice is untreated and still has that mechanical feel to it. Those mechanics make a sharp contrast with the music, which is primarily melodic and introspective. Field recordings (children playing, doors opening, water) make up the links between the pieces but are also used inside the pieces. Effectively these are various pieces per side, but in the download, two long pieces. That makes perfect sense as it sounds like a continuous piece of music, moving from story to story. The whole thing has an interesting dramatic character, like two short films being played. It runs from the reflective end to a much noisier end, although the latter kept to a civilized minimum) and even without paying too much attention to what is said and read, the depth is here is great. This music is dream pop, I thought at one point. David Lynch could use this duo in the never to be made 'Twin Peaks 4', and the duo's field recordings to be used as an intro and outro of the scene. While I am clueless about how this was made (postal exchange, the two of them in a studio), totally improvised or carefully planned, the music sounded as great as it was and not really like something Notice Records would do. But I am glad they did! (FdW)
––– Address: https://noticerecordings.bandcamp.com/
MNOMIZED & POOL PERVERT - SOUL MIRROR (cassette by Noninterrupt)
Had the term 'old boys network' not been reserved for rich, influential dudes conspiring against us poor slobs, then it could very well apply to the world of the Noninterrupt label. Take a look at the as yet unreviewed recent compilations 'Music For A Few People', and you recognize names from the past; PBK, Modelbau, Falx Cerebri and MNomized. All musicians that were active in the 80s and still releasing cassettes. The next phase for Egbert van der Vliet and various pseudonyms (Pool Pervert, Muziek Terwijl U Luncht) is to start musical collaborations with these people. MNomized is the first. Pool Pervert delivered 'sound sample manipulation', while Michel Nomized (who ran the Fraction Studio in the 80s and a group No Unauthorized; one of those projects that has not found a way in the re-issue circus) is responsible for 'electronics, effects, recording, final mixing'. That means that this time the ninety-minute tape is split into seven minutes, ad not the usual Pool Pervert side-long opus. MNomized, as far as I know his work, uses a lot of electronics and effects to create massive pieces of drone music and, as such, the ideal partner for Pool Pervert. The latter uses free software to arrive at similar results, while Mnomized may use more analogue equipment. He is also fond of a more occasional melodic touch in the music or a trace of very minimal rhythm, such as the bass drum in 'Distance', or the loops in 'No Memories'. Reverb is used in abundance here, sometimes a bit too much. Mnomized likes to keep his material minimal and chooses a few sources to work with and stick with it through the piece. All of these pieces are lengthy, from ten to fourteen minutes and at times, I feel a bit too long or minimal, but sitting back and letting it all happen worked wonders for me. (FdW)
––– Address: https://noninterrupt.bandcamp.com/
GÜNTER SCHLIENZ - UNSTET (cassette by Meditape)
Music by Günter Schlienz, so I noted before, is on the edge of ambient and new age, so seeing him do the inaugural release for a label called Meditape is not strange. The catalogue number is Mantra 001. Does that mean Schlienz crossed the bridge and is now fully new age? Not, still not 'over', and that is a great thing. Schlienz is a man to play a DIY modular synth (according to the cover; isn't do it yourself part of the whole idea of modular synths?), tape machines, guitar and field recording. This time there is help on piano, electric guitar, percussion and voice. What Schlienz does best, he does here, is to create melancholic electronic tunes. It never borders on the totally abstract, but Schlienz waves in small melodic lines, all minor keys to evoke that sense of desolation and sorrow. And, perhaps, that is the reason that is not really your new age record. That sort of sad lullaby quality, mixing with weird sounds (in 'Salz', for instance, I have no idea what these are; electric guitar? Amplified egg slicer) and more sustaining patterns in other tracks. Schlienz touches upon the notion of an entirely composed piece, and perhaps these are such. Still, he also knows how to make it sound like he's merely sketching his ideas. That gives the music a different character as if Schlienz is not really trying too hard, but at the same time, it all sounds wonderful. I am quite a big fan of his music, and 'Unstet' follows a line of great releases. I like the vagueness, the non-directiveness and the melodic touches of it all. Music to meditate? Sure, if that is your thing. I enjoy it equally without the meditation. (FdW)
––– Address: email@example.com
ARIA ROSTAMI - MARAMAR (cassette, private)
This is the second release I hear by Aria Rostami from New York, following 'Decades/Peter' (Vital Weekly 903) and it seems worlds apart from that one. The previous was "a fine mixture of ambient doodles and IDM rhythms with a bit of shoegazing here and there". This time Rostami delves more into the IDM rhythms and not much else. Especially the first five tracks are all nervous and hectic affairs of rhythms stumbling and falling apart. Following those, there is some room for more airy synthesizers, but the hectic never disappears. I don't think I ever fully understood IDM as a music genre. The complexity of rhythms prevend me from dancing to it, and it's too busy to sit down and relax. I have no idea how this music developped over the years, and if Aria Rostami adds something new to the idiom of the music. I heard this with much interest, most of it while I was doing chores around the house, for which this proofs to be an excellent soundtrack. The music speeds you up, doing the thhings that need be done. Sitting down, actively thinking about a review, and playing the muisc again, I realized this music also brings on certain fatigue here. Maybe I am too old for this?(FdW)
––– Address: https://ariarostami.bandcamp.com/
KYLE JESSEN - MAKE THE RIGHT MAN BLEED (cassette by Gertrude Tapes)
Sometimes, I have incredible dull chores to do. Accounting is one, looking for information online, working on other text, you know, the sort of stuff that keeps you tied to the computer screen. I stuck on Kyle Jessen's cassette and went in deep with my task. Thankfully I have a cassette player that plays music on repeat, so I didn't need to get up and change something. I never heard of Jessen, who plays the alto saxophone here. There are no other instruments here or processing. This is the saxophone, plain and pure. Jessen plays it in such a way that one recognizes the saxophone. This instrument is not among my favourites, but I noted on this repeated action that the twenty-five minutes/four tracks show quite a variation in playing. Jessen's playing is part melodic, part abstract, and something is captivating in this music that I can't put my finger on. Partly because it is from the world of die-hard improvisation. Well, at least that is what I think it is. It is not too hectic or nerve-wracking but intense at times and playful at other times. Curiously, when I stopped my chores and decided to twist my head into writing these words, I still thought it was pretty good, but also, with my head turned to full-on concentration, I was happy that this was twenty-five minutes, which I thought to be an excellent length for this. (FdW)
––– Address: https://thegertrudetapes.bandcamp.com/merch