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!
MUSLIMGAUZE - MUHAMMADUNIZE (CD by Staalplaat) *
JACK OR JIVE - SINCERELY (CD by Ultra Mail Prod) *
SONDER – II (CD, private)
KLAUS LANG - SIEBEN SONNENGESCHICHTER (2CD by Domizil) *
INSTRUMENTS OF HAPPINESS - SLOW, QUIET MUSIC. IN SEARCH OF ELECTRIC HAPPINESS (CD by Redshift) *
HARSH NOISE CONSORTIUM – BRUTAL AUTOMATION (CD by FIBRR Records) *
NIELS LYHNE LØKKEGAARD - PERSONFØLSOM MUSIK (CD by Topos Media/Nets) *
STAFFAN BRASJÖ - STRATOSFÄR (CD, private) *
AARON BURNETT - CORRESPONDENCE (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
JESSICA PAVONE - When No One Around You is There but Nowhere to be Found (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
MANNHEIMER SCHLAGWERK - THE NUMBERS ARE DANCING [NEW WORKS FOR MALLET QUARTET] (CD by Solaire Records) *
EQUINE - TETRAGRAMMATON (LP, private) *
FIEBIG/EMERGE/BONAFINI (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
B*TONG/EMERGE/IF, BWANA/GERALD FIEBIG - THING (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
JULIEN DEMOULIN - EVERYTHING FORGOTTEN, EVERYTHING REMEMBERED (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
ØJERUM - STØVFALD (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
CRAVUNE - A SECRET ROOM (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
6X10=60 VOLUME ONE & TWO (two cassettes by Korm Plastics D)
HADEWYCH - MES (cassette by Tartarus Records) *
LYCKLE DE JONG - IS HET NU OVER (cassette by Het Generiek) *
HUN BED - BROOD II (cassette by Het Generiek) *
MUSLIMGAUZE - MUHAMMADUNIZE (CD by Staalplaat)
I can't say I am a real fan of Muslimgauze. Perhaps my relative youth is to blame there; by the time Bryn Jones passed away in 1999, I was completely submerged in experimental and industrial music, and I guess while his work catered to a part of the same scene, for a long time, Muslimgauze was a bit of a quirky outlier to me, that I never really fully understood. I may have nodded along to one of his tracks once or twice, but by the time I tried to open up to his work, I quickly realised there was just so much of it that I gave up. Far from being completely dissuaded, I sort of decided that I was just going to listen to what I happened upon, either officially or illegally. So over the years I think I've heard my share of Muslimgauze to now have somewhat of an idea of what it is. However, I reckon 'not being a fanboy' also entails I have little idea about what in Gauze discography and, to be frank, the lovely people at Staalplaat don't make educating oneself a lot easier either. From what I pieced together, 'Muhammadunize' was once part of the 3CD 'Fatah Guerilla', first released in 1996. The Bandcamp version of this 1CD re-issue features an extra lengthy track somewhere in the middle, which is not to be found on the CD itself. Even though it would not have fitted on there, it seems a bit odd nevertheless to include it in such a willy-nilly way, stuck somewhere in between. Also, I have no idea why this is now re-issued as a single disc. Not that I am complaining; 'just asking questions, as one puts it these days (well, regarding other matters surely). I guess fans would also just want to know what more to expect.
Anyway, after all this time, it is a treat to hear good old, solid Muslimgauze. At times, even more, aggressive than before, the Arabic beats- the crispy drones, muffled voice samples, and those dub elements he sometimes chucks in. It sounds like a busy day at the market square of some (well, perhaps any?) Middle Eastern town. The only thing missing is the scent of spices lingering in the dry heat. The tracks have 'different' titles that are also the same again - a tradition that Muslimgauze fans will recognise in which elements are used and re-used repeatedly. Analogically, the recycling of samples makes the album more coherent; not a collection of tracks but just one long trip. You wander the streets of, let's say, Beirut and take a left turn, then right, and you hear something familiar, however now in combination with something new. All solid gold material here, laid-back, trippy and perhaps somewhat dangerous as well. (LW)
––– Address: https://muslimgauze.bandcamp.com/
JACK OR JIVE - SINCERELY (CD by Ultra Mail Prod)
Jack or Jive are a bit of a legend today. Their heyday was back in the 1990ies when their brand of ethereal dark wave music hit it with the electro and post-new wave crowd. They also stretch their hands out to ambient and drone, some people say neo-classical music, as there sometimes is a piano. Since 2010 there has been extremely little output, and though this is 'already' the fourth CD on UMP since 2009, there has been nothing else.
Some people thought they had disbanded, but that would be far reaching as JoJ are a couple, married for many years. Chako sings with her floating voice, Makoto Hattori does everything else, mainly keyboards, though Chako writes the songs. Live, this is quite a spectacle with costumes, hairdress and heavy makeup. On disc, minus the visuals, the spaced-out, floating, ethereal element prevails. Most tracks were recorded back in the early 1990ies and some, such as track 3 (Dear friends) bring memories of the early 90ies electro-pop bans Heaven 17 and the like. But most tracks follow a style that lends more to Attrition and the Thrid Mind Record scene, weaving in a good measure of ambient-style vaguary, such as track 4 (Invisible War), the youngest track, being from 2005. On this track they work with Manato Oita, a Black Metal musician who, I believe, added wind instruments (or bagpipes?). It's the longest and clearly the most 'industrial' track on this release.
The other tracks remain in the style most typical for JoJ, piano or harmonium set against a keyboard background accompanying the vocal 'planes' of Chako. The release sounds like a farewell message to the fans. It does not say so, but the title is short for 'yours sincerely' and the very limited notes offer thanks to those who still listen to and communicate with the couple. Maybe this is, indeed, a last greeting to a loyal fan crowd. (RSW)
––– Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
SONDER – II (CD, private)
Harriet Riley (vibraphone) and Alex Garden (fiddle) started their collaboration in 20198 and debuted as Sonder in 2020 with a surprise release of music deeply rooted in diverse musical traditions. With their new release, they continue on that path. Listening to the album, it is immediately apparent that they again decided for mixing folk music traditions with aspects of minimal music and touches of jazz. Again Stevie Toddler participates on double bass. Pete Judge on trumpet is a new collaborator. To call this experimental music is too much said. For purists of folk music, it is probably too far out. Nevertheless, they have their blend in their music of thoroughly interwoven idioms. Especially the opening track ‘Resfeber’ has a nice mix of folk and pulse-driving minimal music. In general, the violin introduces folk vibes, whereas the vibraphone taps from jazz and minimal music. No wonder melody, harmony and rhythm are the main ingredients of their music. They did their best to find obscure words for the titles, like ‘Spicula’, the title of a gentle and dreamy ballad with a lovely solo album by Judge on trumpet. Three titles on this album are titled ‘Palindrome I’, etc. I guess the works carry these titles because these compositions are palindromes, meaning the composition sounds the same when played forward or backwards. I know this procedure only from lute-player Jozef van Wissem who embraced the palindrome format for his compositional practice. I remember that Peter Blegvad wrote a textual palindrome for a track on his ‘Kew.Rhone’- album back in the 70s. I have no idea what makes it interesting to compose a work with this principle. Still, I can imagine it fits with the sense of continuity in the music of Sonder that has repetition and minimal music as essential elements. Anyway, this independent duo delivers a very well-crafted and solid album of gentle and honest music (DM).
––– Address: https://harrietrileyalexgarden.bandcamp.com/album/sonder-ii
KLAUS LANG - SIEBEN SONNENGESCHICHTER (2CD by Domizil)
Composed between 2011 and 2013, this is the world premiere in 2015 by the same pianist as on this release Sieben Sonnengeschichter is ninety minutes of mesmerizing music. Seven parts with a whopping ninety minutes can be listened to in every order possible. Probing intervals in every register of the piano, citing - or a melody coinciding with - the star-spangled banner, slowly descending cascades of notes following each other to the deep end of the piano and slowly clashing dissonances. Each piece has its characteristics, and as a whole, it is a tour de force. The composer intends to make time audible through sound and the listener. Swiss-based Georgian Tamriko Kordzaia plays the pieces with a demanding drive, drawing the listener into this world of light and shadowy corners. People who are easily distracted will probably dislike this music or denounce it as trivial. So forget your daily troubles and step into a 90-minute exploratory expedition where there's only sound and time. And a piano. (MDS)
––– Address: https://domizilrecords.bandcamp.com/
INSTRUMENTS OF HAPPINESS - SLOW, QUIET MUSIC. IN SEARCH OF ELECTRIC HAPPINESS (CD by Redshift)
Tim Brady formed the Instruments of Happiness in 2014 as a quartet of guitars. An extension of the quartet is an ensemble with 16 added guitar players. An even bigger version is an orchestra of those 20 with 80 community players, totalling the orchestra to 100 guitars. This release is a recording of the spatialised quartet playing four pieces, written by four Canadian composers on commission by Tim Brady. Starting with picked notes and bending strings, the first piece, 'Sideways', written by Louise Campbell, is a slowly evolving soundscape with a middle part in which the guitars imitate fugue style touch guitar melodies in accelerando. Then feedback enters in all mayhem. A quieter part follows, a bit of mayhem ensues and a slow fade-out of sound. The next piece, composed by Rose Bolton, uses the e-bow to produce the sounds on the guitars. More serene than the first piece, the title is aptly chosen: Nine Kinds of Joy, followed by a composition by Andrew Noseworthy: traps, taboos, traditions. This piece is to my ears the most experimental in its approach to the four guitars. There are extended techniques to probe the space and fill it with sound. Last but not least, there's Notre-Dame burning or No Mud, No Lotus. This one features a guitar solo.
All four pieces were written with the same request by Tim Brady: write a 14-minute piece, synchronised by stopwatches, with the four guitars placed far apart in a large resonant space. The première was at a big church in Montreal, including three improvising dancers. For the recording, the quartet performed at a large concert stage to emulate the natural reverb of the church. This one is for people who want to dive into a sound world and hear the wondrous musical world created by these four splendid musicians guided by four excellent composers.
––– Address: https://redshiftrecords.org/
HARSH NOISE CONSORTIUM – BRUTAL AUTOMATION (CD by FIBRR Records)
This is Automatic Harsh Noise Wall (AHNW) and makes the current claim (is it current?) HNW is hypocritical in its negativity (a swipe at Vomir?) as it is always centred on the human... and HNW fails in 'pushing it [Noise?] to the limit.' It seems AHNW's aims are both pushing this 'limit' further by negating the human generator of HNW in the use of 'the machine' in the production of AHNW – and 'in opposition to the HNW!' using a modernist trope of challenging predecessors. What we get is a single track. “Manifesto”, 75 minutes, of very variegated white noises. Which in itself is problematic. Someone chose 75. Whether the variations are random or programmed, human origination remains, even in such works as 4' 33”. Add to that this recording has effects, for instance, such as panning, numerous small gaps of silence, audible tones, rattles... some perhaps harmonics of inaudible frequencies breaking up the noise into segments, minimally there is a hole in the wall :-), and many others as well as variations in the wall. It is neither harsh nor a wall. Secondly, another problem is the very redundant idea of pushing limits in the framework of modernity's 'less is more; we arrive at Cage's 0' 00”, blank sheets of paper, erased drawings, closed galleries, copies of the New York Times. AHNW is a conceptual and minimalist project, the analytical pseudo-science of modernity that failed (or succeeded) in self-negation sometime in the 1970s (with the lag of conceptual poetry). From a conceptual point of view, non-human sound exists in the world, both natural and artificial, as well as if not the actuality then the concept of nothing, the void, but what these concepts have to do with this highly textured sound work I do not know, when there is literally nothing to a Vomir wall, literally if you are wearing a bag over your head, not even the human presence. If you want to create a machine-based HNW, simply download a free copy of Audacity, use the generate function to create white noise and add bass boost. Alternatively load an .exe file or .doc or .jpg into the editor. The fatal trajectory of modernism and minimalism, exemplified in the mass housing estates, is visceral proof of the conceptual failure of minimalism. It's a denial of metaphysics in the brutalist realist architecture, concrete blocks, here in blocks of sound justified as being the 'truth'. The denial of the human is a good thing? I've mentioned here the problem with analysis, and elsewhere the alternative of synthesis, “For Deleuze, there is no one substance, only an always-differentiating process, an origami cosmos, always folding, unfolding, refolding. Deleuze and Guattari summarize this ontology in the paradoxical formula "pluralism = monism".” And maybe, after all, Deleuze and Guattari have a point in 'What is Philosophy', Art is the creation of 'affects' rather than concepts, synthesis rather than analysis paralysis. (jliat)
––– Address: http://www.apo33.org/records/
NIELS LYHNE LØKKEGAARD - PERSONFØLSOM MUSIK (CD by Topos Media/Nets)
What I knew and heard about Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard and his music is that it is both conceptual and yet also something interesting to hear. His latest release is an example of that. I'm not too fond of long quotes, but there is hardly another, more accessible way. "Løkkegaard translates the numbers of NemID-keycards into music using various musical instruments. NemID (EasyID) keycards came into use in 2010 and contain a list of one-time codes that one uses as a level of security when logging into private and public digital platforms to access services like banking, health care, and other services vital to individuals in Danish society. When an individual uses all the codes on a NemID-keycard, the keycard remains as a record of the person’s activities over a period of time. It is also an expression of privilege since the NemID [system] facilitates access to the benefits of the Danish welfare state in one of the world’s richest societies. Through his Personfølsom Musik (Personal Sensitive Music) series of works, Løkkegaard explores the NemID-keycard as a phenomenon that is, on the one hand, anonymous and alienating and on the other private and personal". On this CD, he 'plays' two of these cards on a church organ. The cover lists the numbers he plays. They are in black ink on the jewel case, making it look like an early Raster Music disc. And that's it. The concept explained, and the music is Løkkegaard playing these on the organ. I wanted to write 'consistently played', but I don't know. The church organ sounds small this time, no overtone, big harmonic drones leaking out of this organ. These are just gentle, and single notes are played in a constant, steady stream. One could think of releases such as this; what would you think of the music if you had no clue about the concept? That is very hard to say; I may never learn. Play the disc first and then read up on the idea. That should be the correct route. Oh well. I was doing something very boring, manual labour in the meantime (scanning a heap of paperwork), and I had put this on repeat (a common practice here, actually). At one point, I woke from my repeating actions, scratched my head, and thought: this is the perfect robot music for robotic work. Mmm. I am not sure if that was the right frame of mind, but that worked very well today. (FdW)
––– Address: https://topos.media/
STAFFAN BRASJÖ - STRATOSFÄR (CD, private)
Stratosfär marks the debut of composer and musician Staffan Bråsjö. Together with Josefin Runsteen on violin and Wilhelm Bromander on double bass, the pianist and organist plays the written scores for all the tracks. In Archaeopteryx, you can hear this winged, feathered dinosaur trying to fly and land again. My favourite track, for now, is the title track, also the longest one, and it starts with a held chord on an organ. Adding to that is a melodic line in the violin and organ; bass note follows. After that, pizzicato notes in the double bass and modulated lines in organ and violin with the held chords.
At the two and a half minute mark, an ostinato in the organ starts. Violin and double bass interchange flageolet notes. Then gradually, a crescendo builds until the next level of the atmosphere is reached, back to the modulated lines with a dissonant chord in the organ that resolves in the last second. There is a lot to be enjoyed on this release. The arrangements of the music are excellent. The sometimes classical melodies they couple with less classical chords. The recording location is a church that provides a natural reverb so they could dispense from adding this digitally.
Interestingly enough, the church makes the trio sounds more significant than it is. All in all a splendid release for people who like instantly likeable music with cinematic touches with post-rock tendencies mixed with jazz flavours. I, for one, will be keeping my eye and ear on Staffan. (MDS)
––– Address: https://staffanbrasjo.bandcamp.com/releases
AARON BURNETT - CORRESPONDENCE (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
Seven pieces of experimental jazz on solo saxophone; you have to love it. But with Aaron Burnett, you hardly get bored as a listener, even though half an hour is quite hardcore. Burnett is still young but already has a nice resume that includes his collaborations with Wynton Marsalis, HPRIZM, Weasel Walter and especially with Esperanza Spalding. But this is his real avant-garde release, where he briefly ignores how jazz should sound to the general public. Now he can just do his own thing undisturbed and get going with his saxophones uncomplicated. From his often busy tunes and apparent exercises on scales, an interesting side road more than once arises, which he enthusiastically takes and thoroughly reconstructs according to his own insights. There are slightly lyrical moments, now and then, Burnett reverts to sound as emotion, but his research generally sounds technical and is mainly focused on virtuosity and speed. From time to time, there is also a kind of question/answer game between high and low tones; well that is also possible, of course... (AVS)
––– Address: http://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/
JESSICA PAVONE - When No One Around You is There but Nowhere to be Found (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
‘Long tone practice, an interest in repetition, exploring sympathetic vibrations, and attending to how the body plays a role in sound and intention’ - that's what violinist Jessica Pavone from New York is all about. At least, violinist… She makes something different from the violin than we are usually used to, this is not the violin as we know it. She explores the possibilities, stretching the instrument's limits to the limit. The boundaries of the average listener are probably also exceeded several times - it is certainly not the easiest listening menu that she offers us on the four tracks of 'When No One Around You Is There But Nowhere To Be Found'. The first track glides on lamenting and cutting on long sustained tones, which put the auditory membrane to the test. Number two starts with a kind of sound from the engine room but changes in almost romantic string work in which the vibrations come into their right. Number three is mainly about fragmentary pieces of text spoken/sung quickly and rhythmically, a bit like in a strange dream indeed. The last track again offers long sustained violin sounds but is electronically edited. In doing so, the meters strike deep into the red several times, to the point of being painful. All in all, a surprising new look at the violin, in four completely different tracks of an average of about eight minutes. (AVS)
––– Address: http://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/
MANNHEIMER SCHLAGWERK - THE NUMBERS ARE DANCING [NEW WORKS FOR MALLET QUARTET] (CD by Solaire Records)
You say Dennis Kuhn, Nik Bartsch, Stephan Thelen and Markus Reuter, but you hear Steve Reich. And nobody minds that because these four composers use Steve Reich's work as a musical template. And then it is specifically about what this pioneer of minimal music wrote for vibraphone and marimba: the magisterial Music For 18 Musicians, for example, but also Dance Patterns, Drumming, Six Marimbas, and Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices And Organ. That immediately raises the question of what Steve Reich (1936) is doing now, and well: there has been less work from his hands in recent years, but his last work to date Traveler's Prayer is from 2020. Anyway, his influence is still large, which is also apparent from these seven pieces written by the composers mentioned above, for the Mannheimer Schlagwerk. Marcelin Huguet (vibraphone) and Brian Maier (marimba) are the permanent forces, here and there supplemented by the playing of other musicians on vibraphone, marimba, percussion, organ and clarinet.
The 'quartet' had four days to record in the Epiphaniaschurch in - of course - Mannheim, with Dirk Fischer behind the controls. A few tracks are barely audible and extremely serene, but elements added shed a whole new light on the matter, such as the somewhat menacing percussion in Parallel Motion. Then there is also Sexgott, cut in three parts, which sounds less minimal due to the jumpy tones. In any case, the two musicians are better able to unleash their virtuosity on it than in the other compositions, mainly focused on teamwork and total sound. The organ in Russian Dolls is used sparingly and is a nice addition with a pleasant connecting role. All in all, The Numbers Are Dancing is a well-deserved tribute to Steve Reich and also a fine continuation of his ideas. How that building worked during those four recording days went is explained in detail in the 64-page booklet. (AVS)
––– Address: http://solairerecords.com/product/sol1012
EQUINE - TETRAGRAMMATON (LP, private)
I really love music by having the rug pulled from beneath my feet. So before pressing play on Equine ‘Tetragrammaton’ I thought I knew how it would sound. Some layered guitar noodling and a bit of feedback. While this is technically true, it doesn’t even start to cover what Equine is doing here.
The strongest track on ‘Tetragrammaton’ is the album’s closer ‘A Star of Twenty-Two Points’. Part of this is because it is the longest track. Here Richards overlays the previous four tracks to create an absolute beast. Despite knowing what will happen, ‘A Star of Twenty-Two Points’ builds and swells at an alarming rate until it’s a sea of feedback and searing guitar tones. This is slightly unfair. It implies that everything before it wasn’t much cop. This isn’t true. However, there is something about how Richards combined them all that manages to truly blows everything that preceded it out of the water.
This is an album to play as loud as you can. Only at a deafening volume can you start to pick out all the intricate threads that makeup such a rich tapestry. While listening to ‘Tetragrammaton’ I’m curious what a live performance of it would be like. I’d imagine pretty great, but would Richard actually be able to recreate this in concert is another guess. I’m hoping he could, and if he couldn’t do enough, we might not be able to see or hear the holes with some distortion pedals. Either way, I hope he tours the music when he can and, even more importantly, that he comes to my town. (NR)
––– Address: https://equine.bandcamp.com/
FIEBIG/EMERGE/BONAFINI (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
B*TONG/EMERGE/IF, BWANA/GERALD FIEBIG - THING (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
You could regard both of these releases as 'compilations', even when the first is perhaps more of a document of some kind. While it has four pieces, the fourth is a trio recording of a concert from 2019. The other three pieces they made independently. I wasn't looking at the cover the first time around and noted a similar approach between EMERGE and Fiebig; I could hardly tell where one ended and the other started. EMERGE's piece consists mainly of a dark rumble, like a massive obscured cloud of nuclear rain passing and a Geiger counter running amok towards the end. This easily connects to Fiebig, who uses field recordings from Germany and China, filtering car noises on the note of G for Germany and C for China. You could say this is a piece of sound ecology, or rather a protest for climate change. Extreme filtering creates a grey effect on the music, obscuring actions and blurring sight like a polluted city. I don't think I had the pleasure to hear music from Mattia Bonafini before. He uses turntables and records from the library of Bremen's Hochschule Für Künste and lets surface noise of the vinyl mix with orchestral loops. It is nice, but also a bit too obvious. In their collaborative piece, at twenty minutes, also the longest on this disc, they work with sparse sound material, spreading them over the place, but not through any heavy layering. I think that is part of the development and experience of these people. In the old days, they went for the sort of build-up that ended with a massive crash. Now they work with silence, in the first six minutes and the last four. In between there is a good darkened rumble going on, quite split between the left and right channel, with suppressed noise, but all of which becomes quite intense, just because things aren't as loud as could have been. Excellent improv here!
The other new release is a re-issue of two LPs, both released in an edition of 100 copies. They had hand-made covers and had a recognizable yet still unique cover. I reviewed the one with B*Tong and EMERGE in Vital Weekly 858, which I re-run here:
"The release by Swiss B*tong and Emerge was released on a highly limited LP and no doubt sold out, but it's also available as an unlimited CDR release - which is what I have here. Emerge is 'man behind the label', and active force B*tong has had a couple of releases on this label already. They both work extensively with computers to process whatever sounds they have at their disposal. B*tong uses his sound sources here, although we are not told which ones they are, and Emerge uses the same sounds for his composition. There are more similarities: both operate from a rather dark end of the sound spectrum. Atmosphere, space, and ambience play an important role in this music. And perhaps minor differences. Here we have the sons of Legion (see elsewhere) playing their version of dark ambient music. Using concrete sounds, feeding it through vast amounts of computer treatments, they create a sonically dark, layered, atmospheric piece of music - each one of them. B*tong's piece is a bit more bass-like, and Emerge's take on that is a bit higher-pitched at times, with nastier frequencies, and might be accounted for as something a bit more industrial than by B*tong, who stays on the more ambient side of these matters. But the margins on such divisions are quite small. You could as easily think that this release was by the same band for all I know. I didn't hear much new for either band, but for the record, I'd like to note that both works are powerful, in the case of Emerge probably the best I heard from him."
The other record back then is by Gerald Fiebig and If, Bwana, and reviewed in Vital Weekly 916: "Although best known for their CDR and online releases, Attenuation started to release vinyl too, and this is their second release. Like the previous release, this is a split release with If, Bwana and Gerald Fiebig. Both of them have had several releases on this label. They use each other sound sources, which leads to different results. On the If, Bwana side, we find the sound of recorders as taped by Al Margolis, mister Bwana himself, and organ recordings by Fiebig. Apparently, according to the info, we have two pieces here, one of each instrument. In the 'usual' methods applied by If, Bwana, all of these sounds are layered together, not unlike Phill Niblock would (with whom If, Bwana tours now and then). Chopped into small loops on a constant repeat mission but never starting simultaneously, it forms a rather dense mass of sound. Many layers should be understood, many, maybe even 1,000 or so. The recorder piece is slightly dissonant, it seems and has an edginess which I don't think I heard before in If, Bwana's music. It just as easily moves over into the organ piece, which applies a similar technique, but which is slightly more 'melodic' and less dissonant and maybe more what you would expect of such drone-like sounds. It's something I rather enjoy very much. This is perhaps the lo-fi version of Niblock, but it works pretty well.
Now Fiebig, on the other side, may use the same recorder and organ sounds, he also adds the acoustic guitar of Jesus Jackson (processed by Emerge), the electric guitar of Mathias Huber and an electric recorder which he played himself. Here more is indeed less. You could expect a lot more sounds and even more density than If, Bwana does, but it's not something like that at all. Fiebig distributes the sounds relatively sparsely throughout his side. It moves very slowly, back and forth between the different sources, and just sometimes you recognize the acoustic guitar or the recorder. Sometimes playing together, but it seems that a lot of the time they are on their own, like stars at night - moving solely in the firmament. That seems to be the case here, with very occasional interaction. If that happens, in what appears to be the middle of the record, minor melodies are formed around carefully placed crackles, slowly moving a gentle drone in to fade out in the end - excellent, peaceful music. Perhaps the most gentle music I encountered on this label. Pressed on white vinyl, which is perhaps not the most optimum for this delicate music."
I ran a spellchecker on these reviews to prove I am not an entirely lazy sod, so consider this version the improved remix of two already known great LPs. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.attenuationcircuit.de
JULIEN DEMOULIN - EVERYTHING FORGOTTEN, EVERYTHING REMEMBERED (CDR by Sound In Silence)
ØJERUM - STØVFALD (CDR by Sound In Silence)
As I think I mentioned before, I have no trouble with January. I love the long days, the quietness, and, frankly, the darkness. And this on what we call Blue Monday (whenever that happened to become a thing? I suspect the Americans). Monday is never a good day to sit down and do reviews, as it is also the day I complete the issue of a week to go out the next day. So put in the links, do a podcast and rerun the spellchecker. Monday is also the day I listen to promotional material without overthinking writing a review, not just yet. Today is an exception, as I am playing the latest work by Julien Demoulin. He's no stranger in these pages. He worked before as Silencio and later under his Christian name, and sometimes with Christophe Baillieu, IA and Ross Copeland. IA (being Alex Copeland) is one of the guests on this new release, along with Frédéric Dufourd and Maryam Sirvan, providing field recordings, drones and voices. In this release, Demoulin goes all out to the world of ambient music. Before working with the guitar and modular electronics, he now works with these big fat pad sounds, gently moving like clouds in the sky. At times these clouds can be quite dark, fitting the meteorological conditions of Blue Monday in The Netherlands, 2022, but they can be lighter. Raindrops, water sounds, and heavily treated vocals might be elements in this music, but always with the big drones. Only in 'Dissolving In Silence', the final track here, with Sirvan's vocals, consists of her voice, lots of reverb, and something that could be either a piano or guitar and come out of the schoolbook of shoegazing. Very nice, this one!
Also no stranger here is Paw Garbowski, who works as Øjerum. His music saw releases on Fluid Audio, Eilean Records, Shimmering Moods and others. I only heard a small portion of that. He, too, is a man of the big ambient gesture, albeit a bit more abstract. Øjerum only has two tracks, both clocking in at precisely thirty minutes. One is called 'Skybrud' (cloudbursts) and the other 'Aftenrøde' (evening red). I believe the abstract part lies in the longitude of the pieces, transporting of the senses. If Demoulin keeps his pieces around five to seven minutes, he wants to create an album with various insights into his musical world. Øjerum plays two quite similar tracks of slow drone music, which I am told, he did with guitars, effects, loops and such like slow meandering about. Had the label not told me this was with guitars, I would not have known this. The album's title translates as 'dust', and maybe that's how we should see this music, something that slowly erodes to dust. However, not in the same way as William Basinski does that, but it has that same desolate feeling. The music is quiet and not very outspoken, sounding on a distant, but at the same time, it does what good ambient music should do; play out the tranquillity of the music so that it can be pleasuring and something that one can choose to ignore. (FdW)
––– Address: https://soundinsilencerecords.bandcamp.com/
CRAVUNE - A SECRET ROOM (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)
Here I am introduced to the music of Cravune. I have no idea who is behind this name. Cravune recorded the music over five years in Amsterdam and Berlin, and in the latter city, he did the mix in May 2021. To create the music, he or she (or... well you know...) uses FM synthesis programming, analogue and digital processing and improvisation, sampling and field recording manipulations. Sadly, this is a short album, clocking at thirty minutes, as what is on offer is very good. Cravune clearly takes inspiration from the world of musique concrete, modern electronics and microsound. There is a strong fondness here for a collage-like approach. This happens not through radical jumpcuts but by carefully inserting silences between segments within one piece. Almost all of the five pieces is a single sound event. Cravune can touch upon various moves and gestures within one piece via a small path of silence and continue somewhere else. Crackles, drones, hiss, static frequencies, all of these staple ingredients are used, and none of the field recordings can be recognized. The music is quiet at times but also intense and very powerful at the same time. I know it has five tracks, but playing this and not looking at my CD player, I could also believe this has ten or fifteen tracks, or perhaps one long one? I believe I heard this at least seven times in two days, and I keep on discovering new things here. I see there are two other releases by Cravune, which I need to check out, as this release was quite compelling. (FdW)
––– Address: https://mrmrecordings.bandcamp.com/
6X10=60 VOLUME ONE & TWO (two cassettes by Korm Plastics D)
For the third re-issue from the Korm Plastics legacy, Staalplaat chose to combine two compilations, '6x10=60' volume one and two, while blatantly leaving the third one out. Perhaps that is to be re-issued later? First off, I decided to look up the originals to compare their design to what the re-issue looks like, and I can wholeheartedly state that they managed to make something beautiful out of it. Next to excellent design, the whole thing comes in an oversized old video cassette sleeve - now, curious about the point of this design choice, I checked in with Frans de Waard, who explained video cassette sleeves for tape releases were all the rage in the 80s, though (surprise) he never liked them and then said about this particular re-issue: "If you do, you better over-do it" (obviously there was a smiley in that message).
Both tapes sport six groups/musicians, which means each project has a bit more space than on your average compilation cassette. A nice touch is that the release features visual material/information on each of them. Some of these names are still around, such as Merzbow, while others are equally well-known from the old days (Het Zweet, S.B.O.T.HI., Bourbonese Qualk). Some projects have seen re-issues that I still need to check out (Bande Berne Cremetoire, FâLX çèrêbRi). Then some have seemingly vanished off the face of the earth, like Coup de Grace (an early incarnation of Blood Axis' Michael Moynihan, who as a teenager released two tapes that haven't been claimed by the whole re-issue circus just yet), Comando Bruno, Asod Dvi and Hjarntortyr Med Slacktmaskin. That last name, which is somehow connected to Enhanta Bodlar, is undoubtedly the weirdest contribution to this whole sample box of mid 80s industrial music; Acoustic guitar + singing? Kinda sounds like a lost Charles Manson tape to me.
As I said, every possible branch of industrial music seems represented, from rhythmic (Bande Berne Cremetoire, Het Zweet and Bourbonese Qualk) to cut-up (S.B.O.T.HI. and Asod Dvi), and Merzbow in his early 'percussive noise loops' phase. Perhaps then power electronics is the one thing missing from this release, but I can't say that bothered me. Not having consciously experienced experimental music at the time (or anything at all for that matter), I am not sure if these compilations capture the 80s scene in terms of music and imagery. Nevertheless, this reissue did give me the feeling of being properly educated. (LW)
––– Address: https://kormplasticsd.bandcamp.com/album/6-x10-60-vol-1-vol-2
HADEWYCH - MES (cassette by Tartarus Records)
From the musical omnivore that is Peter Johan Nÿland, there is now a short, new album to be released before the final Hadewych album, 'Vier'. I believe I missed out on that album, but no doubt on a few other releases as well. Nÿland (also known as one half of Trepanerungsritualen, Distel, Norn, O Saala Sakraal, Skymme and different incarnations) is responsible for voice, guitar, bells, percussion, tapes, and double bass. Still, in the case of Hadewych, there is a bigger cast of musicians, with such illustrious names as St.Álander, Ko::ded, Laesk, Nacht, Strala k|k, Æ d:Orsaigh Meikasta nOh v|v; they play such instruments, voice, synthesizer, piano, DIY mellotron, bass, trombone, percussion, draak, (that is what it says on the cover) and scrap metal. Besides these people, there are few one-off guests, most for vocals, but also a cello and musical saw. From all the Nÿland projects, I'd say that Hadewych is one with the most 'gothic' overtones. All of his music is dark, with various shades of black, but Hadewych uses lyrics, distorted guitars, marching rhythms that evoke nocturnal wanderings through damp forests, the smell of wet wood, and campfires. The lyrics are in Dutch, but I have no idea what they mean. 'Ik Ben Een Mes', (I am a knife) is such a piece of Cold Meat proportions, with a menacing voice, shouting, dark, slow percussion. 'Het Ware Nader (Final Forest)' fills up the entire second side, bringing out the whole orchestral setting, with a choir (sampled no doubt), celebrating what I think could be a black mass. Except, knowing Nÿland, I doubt this is a very traditional mass. It may not be the sort of music that you will find on heavy rotation here, but I do love the power that lies within this release. But then I love a walk in the forest at night as well, certainly when a campfire awaits. (FdW)
––– Address: https://tartarusrecords.com/
LYCKLE DE JONG - IS HET NU OVER (cassette by Het Generiek)
HUN BED - BROOD II (cassette by Het Generiek)
As much as I sympathize with people releasing music on cassettes, and Het Generiek from Rotterdam is most certainly a lovely label, some of their releases are not what we at Vital Weekly want to write about. First there is one Lyckle de Jong, who has three tracks on his/her (well.. etc.) cassette. Two of these are 'Patterns Yamaha QY20 1-2' and 'Patterns Yamaha QY20 2-2'. I learned that the Yamaha QY20 is a small sequencer/workstation, and De Jong has two lengthy pieces in which he demonstrates the possibilities. Fine. Some people stick that on YouTube; few do a cassette release. You could regard these as doodles, sketches, ideas, which Het Generiek sees in the tradition of Conrad Schnitzler, which is something I can see, and some have the makings of a great song. These should most definitely be worked into a good song. The medium of the cassette as a playground of ideas is undoubtedly. The third track is 'Is Het Nu Over' (Is It Over Yet), a breakup song that De Jong sings with some hurt but is very much a bass and keyboard-based pop song. I know breaking up is never easy, but pop music is not our forte. Or speciality.
Hun Bed is a trio with Bert Scholten (vocals, lyrics, marimba, keyboard, production), Gijs Deddens (guitar, keys, loops), Oscar Borsen (drums, chimes). The instruments are mentioned in English on the cover, as all lyrics are in Dutch. Even when the music here is a tad more experimental than De Jong's break-up song, this too is a form of pop music. Heavy on the lyrics, very much upfront, the music somewhat buried in the mix. I have no idea what these lyrics are about, poetry, no doubt. There is undoubtedly a charming naivety in the music here, but essentially this is the sort of pop music that I think is not well suited for these pages. It is also not the sort of pop I play after a hard day's night of working the reviews for these pages. I once saw a show by Scholten, which I thought was most amusing, but in a venue and a beer in hand, makes the experience somewhat different. I guess. (FdW)
––– Address: https://hetgeneriek.bandcamp.com/