number 1317
week 1

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 to your MP3 player and enjoy!
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MICHAEL GENDREAU & FRANCISCO MEIRINO - 13'36 10'42 12'48 (CD by Misanthropic Agenda) *
MATTHIAS MÜLLER SPONTANEOUS LIVE SERIES - 006 (CD by Spontaneous Music Tribune) *
SHUFFLE DEMONS - ALL IN (CD by Shuffle Demon Productions) *
DE FABRIEK & P. FUNK - MUSIC FOR HIPPIES (CD by De Fabriek Records & Tapes) *
DE FABRIEK & AUSLAND - L'USINE A L'ETRANGER (CD by De Fabriek Records & Tapes) *
AVA MENDOZA – NEW SPELLS (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
KLEISTWAHR - IN THE GUTS OF A YEAR (CD by Fourth Dimension) *
WENDY EISENBERG - BLOODLETTING (2CD by Out of Your Head Records) *


These two new releases by Russia's Intonema Records is a case of opposites. Like a boxing match, we have in one corner the duo of Gaudenz Badrutt ad Ilia Belorukov (who is also the man behind the label). I know both musicians of minimalism, quietness and, in Belorukov's case, sonic depth spilling over to the noise side. In March 2019, he was in Badrutt's Strom Atelier (great name for a studio), armed with a modular synthesizer and field recordings. His host played "int. feedback, fx, live sampling". The recordings they made that day have been mixed by Belorukov into three separate sections, spanning forty-one minutes. 'Fermentation', the closing piece, clocks in at over twenty-seven minutes. The music they offer deals extensively with the dialogue of these two men, the musical interaction, but it is also a conversation/confronting of silence versus noise. Judging by the music, I would think that they recorded the music with both a microphone in the Atelier and a line recording, and that result is a mix of both sources. This music is easily defined as improvisations from the sub-section noise. At times, quite the loud variation, and I was thinking some early Merzbow, but Badrutt and Belorukov never take things to the ultimate extreme in terms of harsh noise walls. Their sound is way too broken up for that, and, as said, there is quite a bit of room for all things quieter here. It is also that this quietness can go on for some time. This is a dynamic approach I enjoy very much.
    There are also dynamics in order with the Hyvärinen release, but he keeps it within a somewhat restricted area. Five pieces of music can be found on this release, all clocking in at precisely seven minutes. Hyvärinen plays acoustic and electric guitar, objects, floor and recording. I am not entirely sure how 'floor' works here, but maybe Hyvärinen scraps his guitar over the surface while amplifying the instrument simultaneously. In each of these five pieces, Hyvärinen explores a distinct possibility of his instrument(s). In 'Narrow Aperture', the opening piece here, he uses a bow across the strings of an acoustic one, carefully and minimal, yet with great effect. In other pieces, things revolve more around using objects ('Gyral Drifts'), or some other treatments of strings ('Twig Mesh'). Then there are two more pieces, which made me scratch my head even harder, clueless as I was about the proceedings. In 'Unured' there are some water sounds, a bottle crack, and slowly it seems as if the kettle is boiling. Is there a guitar in there? I have no idea. There might be a guitar in 'Miasmic Sublimation', but throughout this is a tranquil piece of music (most likely the softest), droning awhile against a heavily amplified background. Fascinating material. One could say that Hyvärinen has no idea what he wants, but I argue that he has quite a few tricks up his sleeve and wants us to be a witness of that. Delicately strange music, this is. (FdW)
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MICHAEL GENDREAU & FRANCISCO MEIRINO - 13'36 10'42 12'48 (CD by Misanthropic Agenda)

The title refers to the duration of the three music pieces on this CD. These pieces were recorded in July 2008 at Cave 12 in Geneva and Oblo, Lausanne, both cities in Switzerland. Why release it now? You might be curious to know? The straightforward reason is that the recordings were considered lost and recently found on a hard drive in Meirini's studio. The music on this CD is not a documentation of concerts, but the live recordings served as building blocks for three pieces here. Both men deal in their solo work with sonic extremes. Gendreau "uses architectural vibrations specific to each building as an imposing live sound source' and Meirino uses gear in such ways as not meant to be. The sound of things you can't hear and amplify that. That said, this is not a work of noise music, as such. These are not men to play the easy harsh noise wall. The extremes lie somewhere else. The low-end bass rumble is set against high pitched frequencies and the scratch and tear of faulty electricity lines in the middle. Things build towards a mighty crescendo, only to be cut away abruptly and replaced by something completely different. The sound of white noise is heavily amplified but not distorted by too many effects. Or the steady click pulse of an ultra-short sinewave. 'Ultra' might be the operative word anyway for whatever these men do. Ultra low, ultra high, ultra short, long and so on. There are connections to be drawn to the world of laptop music (well, looking at the photo on the inside, yes, obviously), but also to the whole clicks ' cuts and musique concrete, electro-acoustic improvisation and microsound, but twisted and re-shaped to make it something of with a character of their own. This is some powerful music, literally as well, with these radical frequencies, and it's great to know people inspect old hard drives and do great discoveries. (FdW)
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Farpoint Recordings has high expectations from this release, doing 200 LPs and 300 CDs, but maybe Stalling is one of the two bosses behind the label helps. I don't think I heard his music before. According to the information, he works with acoustic and electronic sound, field recordings, moving images, lightning and scientific data, next to building instruments. For the three pieces on 'Elemental Machinery', he works with field recordings (made at Instituto Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC), Teide Observatory, Tenerife, Spain), lap steel guitar, modified autoharp, tuning forks and electronics. Many releases by Far Point Recordings deal with improvised music, and this is no different, and yet, maybe it is. If I understood this correctly, the instruments would respond to the field recordings of telescopic machinery. That may sound like something that leads to improvised music, yet the result is different. The way I hear Stalling's music is that he sits inside the space with the telescope, people minding their astrological business, and Stalling provides them with a very delicate soundtrack. In 'Cupula' (Spanish for 'dome'), the lap steel plays an essential role in shooting sound fragments upon the dome; or beyond the stars. Meanwhile, we hear mechanics at work, not very much present, not all the time, but also delicately woven into the fabric of Stalling's music. In 'Quijote', there are "the relentless rotations of the microwave background telescope", which gives this piece more an immediate character. Zither and guitar drift in a slightly rhythmical manner. Still, it all shimmers away and disappears with field recordings from outside. The final piece s 'Sun Tracker' ("using the whirring sound of the mechanics of the Pyramid solar mirror telescope tracking the movement of the sun"), is the album's most ambient outing. There are some highly delicate sustaining sounds here, which, I don't know, might be a bow upon strings, gentle resonating in space. And, no doubt, with the help of some electronics and some retro sci-fi electronic, softly bleeping away in the background. Maybe this is also the album's most improvised piece; still, world's away from improvised music, with its somewhat strangely shifting vistas. While there is no star, no sun and just dark clouds to see on these short, final days of December, the delicacy of the music brings a ray of light to this place. (FdW)
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So far, I learned Germany's Aussaat label is a home for noise, so I skipped a few to review myself. Maybe the Queen inspired 'no synthesizers used' on the cover made me listen to Nuori Veri's debut album. The title translates as 'The Lost Worldview'. This is a noise of a different order. Sure, there is a bit of distortion here, but throughout, there are also a substantial amount of field recordings, rusty tape loops, a bit of piano, and the amplified sound of sand and gravel. On top, the occasional voice recites/sings/screams the texts/poems/lyrics (not much by way of singing) are in Finnish, so what it is about, I don't know. The information reads about 'inner war and poetic ramblings', while the track titles don't give away too much either (English translations on the inside of the cover); 'The Burden Of Remembering', 'River Konttila', '... Among The Eternal Friends', or 'Knight Fo F-3', it can go lots of ways, I think. The voice sometimes has this dark, gothic quality, gothic horror, perhaps, of pain, anxiety and other mood killers, but surprisingly it can also be reflective and 'calm'. From all of this, the dark voices, the dark mood, gothic, you could gather this may not be 'my kind of music', but I played this a few times, and yes, there are some elements which are not for me, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. There is a sort of radio-play character to some of these pieces, in which farmyard sounds, a stove, animals, fences and chains are rattled, and there is the voice of the quiet poet, or a drunk farmer scaring away any unwanted visitors. Sometimes very abstract, but with that desolate piano doing a melodic interlude now and then, giving the whole thing a surprising musical touch. Dark days deserve dark music, and luckily it will be dark days for months to come. (FdW)
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This is a series of CDs published based on live recordings of free improvisation music recoreded at a festival that was conducted in Poland, at the Dragon Club, for the 5th time in 2021. What we are looking at, though, are the recordings of 2020, spread over 3 CDs in limited editions of 200 each and a nicely tuned common design. The festival is also titled 'Degenerate 4th Spontaneous Music Festival', probably a tongue-in-cheek label. And - surprising in the Covid-year 2020 - recorded live in Oct 2020.
    The first ('006') centres around Matthias Mueller, a German trombone player, joining forces with El Pricto on saxophone and two percussionists, Vasco Trilla and Wojtek Kurek. The first track is a typical free jazz offering, that slowly works its way from barely audible to a proper racket. For Vital purposes the next two are more interesting, though - they are as close to drone and ambient as a jazz ensemble can get, I guess, using sounds of breath and sparcely set percussion to build long (8 to 9 minutes) pieces. The emphasis is actually on 'sound', drawing them out as far as you can go without electronic help. This makes it especially interesting to listen to, seeing that everyone today can build a drone and publish a CD or sound file with a lot of electronics and little talent. Here we have 'real' musicianship at work, making for something listenable with from (I hate the term, but here it is 100% fitting) hand-made music. The fourth track minusses the drums and sax and adds piano by Witold Oleszak (who also recorded and mixed everything) and Jasper Stadhouders on guitar/mandoline. At 27 minutes I found this too long and it did not match up to the previous two tracks. The piano is hardly recognisable as it is plucked internally, which might have been a mistake, as a 'basso continuo' could have done the piece some good. The trombone tries to make up but not to much effect, the track sounds more like a 'new music sound dropping' than it is able to build much tension. Probably worth watching live but not much of a listen.
    El Pricto returns as a composer and conductor on the next CD ('007'), leading an electric guitar quintet of Jasper Stadhouders, Pawel Doskocz, Hubert Kostkiewicz, Diego Caidedo, and Michal Sember. Don't expect Glen Branca to peak round the corner, although this would be very expectable. El Pricto relies more on sound textures, as his involvement on '006' - so there is the use of fuzz boxes and the occasional racket - but more attention is given to spreading different sound textures over the five musicians. I would not say I prefer Branca's full racket, but I also failed to totally keep my attention to the music over the four long tracks. Often dissonance prevailed, alhough small beads of melody did evolve and tension created in the long run across the recordings. The audience response, though, captured now and then, indicates this was big fun to watch.
    CD three ('008') is El Pricto conducting the Degenerative Spontaneous Orchestra. And what do they do? perform four pieces by composers Szymanowski (a far too little known Polish modern composer), Chopin (not Henri ... Fryderyk), and Mieczyslaw Karlowicz. Now, that sounds little enspiring, until you read the liner notes, which indicate that the only person to whom the score was available was the conductor, who then translated the score into hand signs for the musicians, an ensemble gathering all of the previous musicians and a few more. A bit like a Jazz orchestra in the sense of Michael Mantler or Don Cherry. I did my best to find any connection between original and recording, but to very little avail. The pieces begin to have their own life and the concept is of course hilarious. Albeit the 'eclectic intellectual' approach they still have a spirit of their own and are a good listen, although, again, the audience reaction indicates this would have been best viewed live. A DVD release, maybe, next time? (RSW)
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SHUFFLE DEMONS - ALL IN (CD by Shuffle Demon Productions)

This is a Canadian Jazz Quintet of some standing internationally. Although we appreciate items sent in for review, we do have to sometimes draw a line where we will still be interested in new and exciting music (across all borders) or have to decline to review properly.
    I do understand Jazz and I have a liking for Hard Bop, Free Jazz and Rock Jazz of a broad variety, but this did, in the end, sound too 'traditional' to me. The first two tracks had a good groove, which would have made for some rock-jazz territory, but then things mellowed and I did loose interest.
    Dear folks, please consider our remit before sending samples. Your interest in our work is appreciated, but as said, we cannot cover everything. This release will be better appreciated in a proper Jazz review journal. (RSW)
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DE FABRIEK & P. FUNK - MUSIC FOR HIPPIES (CD by De Fabriek Records & Tapes)
DE FABRIEK & AUSLAND - L'USINE A L'ETRANGER (CD by De Fabriek Records & Tapes)

Years and years ago, I went through my collection of old cassettes and transferred many of them. Within the dark corners, I found some rarely played cassettes by De Fabriek, and when I heard those again, I realized why I hadn't played those a lot. They were not very good. Some contained merely a collection of loops, sounds from police scanners, or the then-popular Citizens band radio (27 Mhz). In itself, good source material, waiting to be melted into great new music. There were also a couple of collaborative works with people I had not heard of, not when I got them, nor now. One was with P. Funk and called 'Music For Hippies'. Today I learned that not all those old cassettes will be re-issued on CD, which I think is good. I also learned that behind P. Funk there are a few people already involved in playing music with De Fabriek (with one of the band's sporadic live performances), such as Robin van Vliet, Rob Prenger, Moniek, Maurits de Weert, and Roberto van Veen, but they also dabbled in other bands. P. Funk, the name holds a promise. We find traces of funk music indeed here. But none of it is very traditional. As I was playing this and thinking about the title, knowing Richard van Dellen (the primary factory worker), I realized I never thought of De Fabriek as a band inspired by the world of krautrock. Now I made the connection, only after knowing their music for close to forty years, it only seems logical. Many of the pieces here are free form jams involving many guitars, bass guitars, drums. As ever with releases by De Fabriek, it is tough to say who does what; the cover, as ever, has minimal indication. It is not a re-issue of the original cassette but rather a complete make-over, sounding much better than the old cassette. Both in terms of technology used but also in terms of the music itself. The music here is rocky, funky, freaky, but never too rocky, funky or freaky. Things are kept within reasonable boundaries; the goal is not the freak out jam session but playing music other people might want to hear. It is a wild one, this new release, and may expand whatever you thought De Fabriek was about; I know it did for me.
    The other new release sees De Fabriek working with Ausland, also known as Roberto Auser (also known as Derk Reneman), whom I had not heard before. Judging by the labels who release his work (Viewlexx, Enfant Terrible, Charlois etc.) is someone with a background in more techno-based music. Not that this shows on this release. The seventy-four minutes are filled with four long pieces and one short opening shot. As said, the music has very little to do with techno music and is, perhaps, something more along the lines of what one would expect from De Fabriek.  Just with the release by P. Funk, I have no idea who did what here - for some reason, the few words about the proceedings are in French, but none, it seems, shed light on the proceedings. The music here is electronic, moody and synth-based. If one looks at the history of the De Fabriek and where they are coming from, then this album fits the ideas set out by Conrad Schnitzler, not just his earlier electronic pieces, but also in using samples of instruments from his later work. The result is quite strange. There seems to be not much continuity within a piece (none of which have a title). In the middle of a piece, things can stop and continue with something else, like starting a new song. I thought it could be a coding error, but I am sure that is not the case. This too is a freaky bunch of music, and as with P. Funk, it never goes out of control. Whoever is responsible for the mix,  let's things go on for a substantial amount of time, but it never becomes dull. It was quite a strange one and it took me some time to be convinced by it, but the more I hear, the more details I hear, and the more I enjoy it. (FdW)
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AVA MENDOZA – NEW SPELLS (CD by Relative Pitch Records)

Originating from Southern California, Ava Mendoza nowadays is a Brooklyn-based guitarist, singer, songwriter and composer. In between, she studied, for example, at Mills College, studying with Fred Frith and started her career in the Bay area. In 2010 she debuted with a solo album ‘Shadow Stories’. Other initiatives followed: starting her band, Unnatural Ways, a duo with Nels Cline, Trios with Maxime Petit and Will Guthrie, and another one with Weasel Walter and Tim Dahl. I guess she now is really settled in the New York scene. Now it’s time for a new solo statement, released on cd by Relative Pitch and as a cassette and digital by Astral Spirits, recorded at home during the lockdown. The album counts five tracks taking together about 38 minutes. On her first solo album, she performed several old blues tunes by Skip James a.o. This time she chooses very recent compositions. She composed the first two – ‘Sun Gun’ and ‘New Ghosts’. ‘Ampulex Compressa’ by Trevor Dunn, ‘Apart from’ by Devin Hoff and ‘Don’t Look’ by John Dikeman. Her style is deeply rooted in blues and rock à la no-wave punk. Also, she is at home in improvisation and free jazz. In a way, it is all there in her playing these five works. That illustrates that she explores new structures full of contrasts, applying deconstructive and other strategies. Sonic and noisy abstractions are combined with melodic elements like in the closing work composed by Dikeman. Dikeman released an album with different versions of ‘Don’t look’ played by other improvisers. The result is of an intended complexity to the degree that it forces performers to make their own solutions in performing the piece. The complex and experimental nature of all compositions on this recording go hand in hand with an emotional and expressive performance what makes this music very complete. (DM)
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Around about this time last year I was fully immersed with a book about Ramleh, an old noise band that is still active to these days. That book made me go back to all old material I could find, and re-kindled my interest in Broken Fag, the label behind the band. I learned that Ramleh's mainstay Gary Mundy played in a bunch of different bands, but also had various solo projects to his name, of which Kleistwahr, and by 2022 it is the main name of his solo work, of which he presented quite a few new releases in recent times. Following 'In The Reign Of Dying Embers' (Vital Weekly 1271), there is now 'In The Guts Of A Year'; spoiler alert: this music won't cheer you up. Whereas Ramleh, in whatever carnation, represents the noise side of Gary Mundy, in Kleistwahr he refines and reshapes his notion of noise. This doesn't mean we are now dealing with 'soft', 'quiet' or 'ambient' music. Far from it, to be honest. Kleistwhar's music is noise with slight touch of orchestral music, walls of string sounds (by which I should say guitars, but just as well he might be using violins, or orchestral samples). Kleistwahr paints bleak music on his sonic canvas, and even more so than before, I would say this is a dystopian soundtrack. Come to think of it, it might even be the soundtrack of the society that we have, divided along political lines, blurring notions that we believe to know from the past. These last two years have not been easy. Oh no, that is already a cliche, just as 'stay healthy' t the end of every communication was already stale one month after the pandemic hit the world. I have no idea if this is all stuff that concerns Mundy. Maybe the isolation is something that he enjoys, knowing him to be a man of various interests (films, music), happily (?) shared with the world. Plus the time it gets him to record more and more music. Dissonant stabs on keyboards, heavily reverberated walls of guitar sounds, a broken drum pattern covered with dust; Kleistwahr's drone music is massive, dark and painful. That is just how I like this to be, watching the clock time away until the new year, which, no doubt, will be another grim one. The luck of getting older and older. "Despite (FdW)
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WENDY EISENBERG - BLOODLETTING (2CD by Out of Your Head Records)

Wendy Eisenberg has established a name for themselves in the New York experimental improvising scene, recording with a trio including Trevor Dunn and Ches Smith (The Machinic Unconscious) on the Tzadik record label run by John Zorn and collaborating with Joe Morris, Matt Mitchell, Damon Smith and Shane Parrish, among many others. This recording is a double album, each disc containing the same suite, based on their written text score. The first on guitar (a 1959 Gibson ES-175), the second on tenor banjo. They wanted to disconnect the directive connection between performer and composer, in this case the same person, and score and performance. Using a colossal text score instead of standard notation (graphic, staves or tablatures they use their memory of said text score to remember the text score. As this is a highly personal text, they will not reveal it to the public.
    So far, the highly summarized theory behind this release. Using an extremely varied vocabulary of extended techniques on guitar and banjo coupled with hints of melody and chords, this music demands and deserves a highly attentive audience and several spins to get a grasp of what's happening. Trying to label this would be a Sisyphus task because it's genre-defying.
Bloodletting, the first part of the suite, is aptly named since their finger began to bleed while playing it. Scratching noises build-up to single notes and later on to a beautiful chord progression coupled with a melody on the lowest string.
    The second one is called Ostara, after the Celtic name for the equinox in springtime and the name giver of Easter. Highly energetic music - which reminded me in some parts of the guitar work of Ani Di Franco - in which a sound world is created that mimics the awakening of life after a deep winter and ends with some sort of lullaby. Scherzo is aptly named, as it is commonly the name of the third movement in a four-part piece, using opposing harmonics on virtuosic runs all over the strings. Last part, Coda is more contemplative as an afterthought and is relatively speaking the most conventional piece of the suite.
    The second disc does not repeat the first disc using a different instrument. Instead, it uses the memory of the text score on the banjo. Interestingly these tracks are all but one significantly longer. This is because the different techniques used on the first version bleed over -are recalled- in other parts of the suite in the banjo version. This release is highly recommended for people interested in a versatile and virtuosic approach to using guitar and banjo in a practical outcome of a mnemonist experiment. In other words: outstanding! (MDS)
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Dirk Serries, widely known in the ambient world under his moniker Vidna Obmana and fear falls burning, returns with an ambient oriented record. The music presented here is made in collaboration with Trösta, an alto sax player also based in Belgium. The latter released four volumes of solo saxophone music recorded in his studio: Sunny Side Inc. in Anderlecht.
Since Dirk Serries uses that studio as well, it may well be the place where the idea for the collaboration came to fruition.
Four long ten minute+ pieces using guitar and effects and ad-lib alto sax with effects. The result is a journey through space and time due to the long notes shifting on a somewhat glacial scale on guitar with more than a hint of distortion to avoid the pitfalls of thread-of-the-mill New Age music. This is relaxing music with a lot of detail in the low end, and the sax provides a very nice contrast to the held notes by the guitar and effects. All track names refer to the moon. Companion for the moon itself (or the Earth), Oceanus the biggest lunar mare, Kreep, the acronym for the lunar lava brought back from the moon and Tranquillitatis being the landing site of the Apollo 11. The flow of the music is like floating on the lunar surface, after taking long strides in a spacesuit, carefully looking around on that strange surface without water, seeing the Earth from afar and knowing that all will be well. In Kreep, on the 6:04 mark, a small particle of lunar lava is thrown into space. A minute later, more pieces follow. This is an excellent release that, to these ears, deserves a follow-up: next stop Jupiter? (MDS)
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The music on this new cassette by Chalmers was recorded while traveling in a camper va around the North of England. That wasn't an easy trip, with changes to very cold weather, laptop dying and the van breaking down. Chalmers says of this album that "it has been one of the hardest albums for me to finish". I am glad he did. This album is also the last to feature the Swarmandal so extensively. This Indian harp was the central instrument on much of his recent music. The cover says that the music was recorded "around various forests, mountains, bothies, shooting huts and old barns". Had not I not know this, I wouldn't know and probably thought that Chalmers was at home. Recentely I re-watched all seasons of the TV series 'Fargo', and somewhere in the second series, the music is all lively and percussive. It made me investigate the composer and even finding out the original soundtrack albums (by Jeff Russo). In both 'Wood' and 'Metal' (the longest piece here), Chalmers goes for a similar strong, rhythmic effort that made think of 'Fargo again. The music here has that same primeval call to arms to effects, but also in pieces without obvious rhythm, such as 'Water', built from many layered drones, has that primitive feeling. Or the fire sounds of 'Fire' that slowly fade into some ferious drumming and organ drones. As if Chalmers transports us down space and time and we are in a cage, witnessing rituals from our ancestors. The hardship of making this album translated well into the music, I should think. Chalmers produced these six pieces (all named after down to earth elements, earth, wood, metal, water, fire and air) with some excellent style. There is some excellent variation here, and in many pieces, the Swarmandal sounds not like it is supposed to be, and he made a most powerful release. I heard quite a bit of his music, and I enjoyed almost all of it, and this release is for me the one that supercedes all previous releases. This is his best work to date and something that should be heard beyond the limit reach of a cassette release. (FdW)
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In 2001 I was in Tower Records in Tokyo, and my eye caught a book by Mick Middles, 'Factory Records: From Joy Division To new Order'. I was a Factory fan in 1980-1981, so I purchased the book; also because I had something to read on the flight back. I quite enjoyed that label back in the day, and later I bought a second book, '24 Hour Party People' by Anthony Wilson. I didn't understand much of it, as I had not yet seen the film it is based on. When I finally saw the movie, I thought that some of these stories came from Middles' book. I liked the film, and ever since, I have kept up with every new book about Factory Records, Tony Wilson, Joy Division and New Order. In 2021 I got three of them. First, there was the second part of Stephen Morris' autobiography. The drummer out of JD/NO was the third member to write a book. Peter Hook's book on the Hacienda was excellent, his Joy Division book was good, but his New Order only had one conclusion, evident from the first page: Bernard Sumner sucks. Sumner wrote a book but quite a distant one, as aloof as he appears to be.
    I liked both Stephen Morris' books on his life so far, fresh, honest (well, that's what I think), and from whatever interview, I saw with him, a lovely chap. But, unfortunately, we only have to wait for Gillian, his wife, to tell the fourth tale of New Order. The second part focuses on everything post Joy Division, the Hacienda, the extensive touring, the technology that Morris has a strong interest in and how it is used in New Order, his side project The Other Two and a bit about his private life, owner of a tank. Morris' has a rather pleasant style, dry humour, not much meandering about and a great inside story.
    After collecting a few Factory Records (1980-1981), I was rather disappointed with two 7" records I got; Kevin Hewick, a man with a guitar, and the Stockholm Monsters, who seemed a rather crude band with a football hooligan as a singer. Years later, I tried again and while not a fan of any kind, I enjoyed it more. I was pretty surprised to see that their bassist Ged Duffy wrote a book. I bought a copy on the strength of the subtitle, (''Joy Division, New Order, Factory Records, The Hacienda, Me'") thinking it was about Factory Records, the Hacienda and, well, his band. Oddly enough, it came with a thank you note (Xeroxed) and the line "it is not a book about Manchester music, Factory Records, the Russell Club or the Hacienda", but that is his life story. Maybe previous reviews have pointed out that the subtitle is somewhat misleading. Duffy never explains this, but perhaps he kept a diary going all those years, or his memory was never affected by the consumption of drugs) as he remembers a lot about the concerts he saw, wishes to describe each and everyone, what he thought of it, and talked to the band in question. If he did, he never tells what these talks were about. His book could have benefitted from an editor. In the space of 2 pages, he uses the words 'the next concert' a lot. Also, there are some discrepancies in his history. He tells us he saw Suicide on the strength of their record, but a few pages further on, he says he had not heard it yet. The football stories in the early part are not for me, and I never understand the English passion musicians have with this game. If you are willing to go along with the way he tells about his life, this book is quite a lovely first-hand memoir of someone present and what he says about these bands. His comments are frank and fair. Throbbing Gristle is art school shite, for instance. I love that. Once he leaves the bands he's in (Stockholm Monsters, Lavolta Lakota) behind him, the story becomes personal again, with the hardships of life (unemployment, wife passing away, selling his records, the football coming back in). As said, at times, I found much of this to be overwhelming (do you want to know all this?), but I enjoy the honesty Duffy's using to tell his story.
    Now, Paul Morley can write, although I am sure my spellchecker would run amok if I tried to construct similar long sentences. "An understanding audience might find this sentence hard to read". Morley is, of course, a well-known journalist, originally from Manchester and fell out with Tony Wilson after his move to London. Morley went on to interview the most prominent musicians of the day and started ZTT, a label not unlike Factory Records but with bigger hits (and well worth a book in its own right), re-connected with Wilson but kept on a distance. There is most certainly no fan love from Morley for Wilson, but more an admiration. Morley's book on Tony Wilson's life is not a book about just Tony Wilson; it is much more than that. It is a book about Manchester, and whatever can be dragged into the story, Morley will drag it in. In 1966 Rock Hudson played in a film called 'Seconds'; his character is named Tony Wilson. That is the length Morley goes to when talking about the other Tony Wilson (not the Anthony Wilson we know as Anthony Burgess; he gets a few mentions). I was thinking, thank God for the internet, when one is writing such a book. You can look up all of these connections, buildings, people, places, films, musicians, politicians, co-workers, fellow travellers, wives, girlfriends (I am doing a lame Morley imitation here) and connect all the dots, but always coming round to tell the story of Tony Wilson, the Granada TV presenter, the journalist, entrepreneur, music lover, advocate of the north of England. Much of this life is known (this is not the first book, following David Nolan's 'You're Entitled To An Opinion', from 2009, and many other sources). Within the whole context of Morley, I appreciate whatever Wilson did more than I did before, even when I am sure I would have difficulty with the real-life person. Fascinating, long read that took me some time to adjust to Morley's style, but once into, hard to put away. (FdW)
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Vital - The Complete Collection 1987-1995
Before Vital Weekly there was Vital, a Xeroxed fanzine covering experimental, electronic andelectro-acoustic music; interviews, reviews, in-depth discussion articles, background. All 44 issues in one hardcover book; 580 pages. More information: