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!
ANDREW TASSELMYER - LIMITS (CD by Laaps) *
BRUNO DUPLANT & JULIEN HERAUD - NOCTURNE INCERTAIN (CD by Dissipatio) *
JOANE HETU - TAGS (CD on Ambiences Magnetiques) *
ENSEMBLE SUPERMUSIQUE - SONNE L'IMAGE (CD on Ambiences Magnetiques) *
DISTANT FIRES BURNING - INPERSPECTYCON VOL.2 (CD by Audiobulb Records) *
LEGENDARY PINK DOTS - THE MUSEUM OF HUMAN HAPPINESS (CD by Metropolis Records) *
BOLEK I LOLEK - NA DZIKIM ZACHODZIE/SKUTKI UBOCZNE (LIVE) (CD by Antenna Non Grata) *
KSAWERY WOJCINSKI - TOWER OF PRESSURE (CD by Antenna Non Grata) *
COAGULANT - ARCHIVAL RECORDINGS FOR PAOLO MONTI (CD by Antenna Non Grata) *
ENTRE VIFS - UB 10 (CD by Aussaat) *
CHRISTIAN MARIEN - THE SUN HAS SET, THE DRUMS ARE BEATING (CD by MarMade) *
TRISTAN HONSINGER - SMALL TALK (CD by Setola Di Maiale) *
M. KLEIN & STEFFAN DE TURCK - A NEW CITY (LP by het Generiek) *
ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE - VACILANDO EPS (2CDR by Ramble Records) *
ALEX CARPENTER - EXCAVATION PATTERNS (CDR by De La Catessen Records) *
DE FABRIEK & M.NOMIZED & AUSLAND - MUSIC FOR THREE GEARS (CDR by De Fabriek) *
THE KIDS AND THE COSMOS - AMBIENT MIXTAPE VOL. 1 (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
SWEENEY - STAY FOR THE SORROW (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
PJS - ORIGIN STORIES (cassette by Strategic Tape Reserve) *
ULI FEDERWISCH & CHIP PERKINS - VISITING PLACES (LEARNING BY LISTENING VOL. 5) (cassette by Strategic Tape Reserve) *
DAVID PARKER - EVERY DAY LIFE (cassette by Dirty Clothes Recs) *
ANDREW TASSELMYER - LIMITS (CD by Laaps)
From this composer, I reviewed work before, solo (Vital Weekly 1180), but also his group Hotel Neon, which he's in with his brother Michael and Steven Kemner (Vital Weekly 1269) and Gray Acres, which is a duo with his brother (Vital Weekly 1125). According to the label, Tasselmyer uses samplers, field recordings and lo-fi recording techniques, which I think is evidently clear from the nine pieces on this CD. Especially the lo-fi recording techniques is something that Tasselmyer uses to significant effect here. You can almost hear the magnetic particles falling off the tapes here. The piano sounds hissy and earthy, synthesizers and guitar ditto, crumbled and in full decay modus from those over-used tapes. Unlike many of Tasselmyer's peers, his music isn't all dark and rusty, but it is spacious and open in fine ambient tradition. He keeps each of these pieces concise and to the point. I could easily see each of these being twice or three times its length, but Tasselmyer either realizes that this doesn't add much, or he plays with the notion of longing for more. I don't know. The balance between the acoustic instruments (piano, guitar) and the field recordings (tough to figure out what those are, to be honest) and tape treatments work really well. It veers in and out of the abstractness, which is most enjoyable. All of this makes up for some excellent quiet and slow music; music to relax by, to work with; both ignorable and pleasurable. Just like Brian Eno would like his ambient music to sound, Tasselmyer certainly delivers the goods. (FdW)
––– Address: https://laaps-records.com/
BRUNO DUPLANT & JULIEN HERAUD - NOCTURNE INCERTAIN (CD by Dissipatio)
We reviewed an earlier release by these two gentlemen only a few weeks ago (Vital Weekly 1315). I didn't write that one, but I think I heard it. The thing with reviewing and not reviewing music is that one hears a lot of music, and not everything is remembered. C'est la vie. Duplant is, by now, a permanent fixture in these pages; Julien Heraud is not as known. His solo CD 'Hidden Parasites' was reviewed in Vital Weekly 1303. Previously he played the saxophone but now works with electronic means in the form of two modular systems, 'Make Noise' and 'Serge Random'. Despite whatever amount of Duplant's music I reviewed, I still have not much idea what he does. This particular release doesn't educate me in that department. There are two pieces here, both thirty minutes (oke, the second one, with an additional second), indicating that this may have been intended for a cassette release. The music is best termed 'vague', which I mean in the most positive sense of the word. There is an endless yet slow stream of sound going on here, of hissy textures and loose sounds. I think these could be from an electric piano, but just as well from something entirely different. The textures might be electronic, but, again, just as well, these might be heavily processed field recordings. There is head nor tail to be discovered in these two pieces, and it rocks back and forth like an unsteady rest at night. You wake up, fall back asleep, have these strange dreams, in which people who shouldn't know each other meet up; that's the idea I got from this music. I sometimes wake up thinking, 'wow, that's vague', in which I mean 'bizarre', and that's the thing with this release. Not something I understand but something I find all the more fascinating. I am sure that doesn't add to the clarity of the review. (FdW)
––– Address: https://dissipatio.bandcamp.com/
JOANE HETU - TAGS (CD on Ambiences Magnetiques)
ENSEMBLE SUPERMUSIQUE - SONNE L'IMAGE (CD on Ambiences Magnetiques)
Joane Hetu has a long history in music, starting as a saxophone player involved in Canadian avant-garde bands like Wondeur Brass, but then turning to more 'serious' work more akin to contemporary classical formats, but also getting into ballet music, performances, and video. She also has a business side, being on the board of the label Ambiences Magnetiques, the production company Productions SuperMusique, and the DAME record label. She has also combined vocal improvised and improvised ensemble work, something I have never quite got to grips with.
On Tags, we find several compositions she created over the past years, 2000 to 2019, to be more precise. 'Ne t'estompe pas en moi' is a duo between bass clarinette and double bass. It has a jazz feel to it, but also one of improvisation and some nice bits where the two instruments cease to weave around each other but begin to play with the same little melody before going off on a tangent again. In 'TAGS', Hetu plays the saxophone again, together with Jean Derome (their duo CD was reviewed here a while ago), backed up by Quatuor Bozzini (string quartet) and Quasar (a saxophone quartet). So there, racket guaranteed? That's not what you get, though. The groups of instruments play intermittently, or the sounds get overlaid. It all sounds chaotic, somewhere between improvised music (which must not necessarily be jazz) and contemporary classic. I found a little bit of voice improv unnecessary (as I said, I am not a fan of), but it remains a bit isolated somewhere in the second half. The other two pieces, 'Les dentellieres' (Lace Makers) and 'Les Etats' ('The conditions' - or 'States'), are more 'orchestral' in a sense. They build a more complex sound spectrum that could be tagged more industrial at times. The first might remind me of Glenn Branca, as it uses 20 guitars. Ensemble SuperMusique performs the second based on a graphical score by Hetu (a member of the Ensemble herself), a 'catalogue' of sound bits/musical fragments to use. Sounds very intellectual. Whilst 'Dentellieres' conjures up the picture of guitar strings making up the fabric of the lace (hm ...), the piece starts with single guitar notes that build into a continuous .. not exactly 'drone', but something akin, with less discreet notes to be heard. It manages to hold the tension without venturing out into any Branca-like overdrive. 'Etats' plays between quiet, drawn bits and parts that remind more of Zeitkratzer playing Merzbow. Only towards the second half the music becomes denser and more of an ensemble piece that is more than pieced-together sounds. As always, I believe this kind of 'free' music that relies significantly on the input of the musician's onset is better viewed live. As a recording, it does lose some of the impact.
Ensemble SuperMusique is a small Canadian orchestra focussing on contemporary and mainly improvised music. Jaone Hetu is a member of the ensemble and has composed the first piece that is presented here, Cleo Palacio-Quentin and Viviane Houle being the other two composers. All three pieces were created as an interplay between musical score and moving images. Essentially, if I understood correctly, the score itself was the moving pictures. As Danielle Palardy Roger rightly remarks in the liner notes, the visual part is lost in the audio recording. Supposedly it lives on in the music, but this would not be discernible to the listener. The title of the release, 'Sonne l'image' = 'Sound the image' (even better in English, due to the ambiguity it introduces), maps out the concept. All compositions were recorded in one set in Nov 2019.
'La vie de l'esprit' (Hetu) kicks off with a vocal part then moves into a thoughtful piece of interaction between piano and strings or wind instruments and percussion. The music erupts into hectic parts that involve more instruments from time to time (why is not known to us). With nearly 15 minutes in length, the piece builds little tension as it moves between the quiet and intense parts with little musical motivation. Fewer instruments and more tension might have been beneficial to the audio side of this event, though I did like the interplay with the electronic sounds and voices in the last third. 'Aleas, Revelations des pierres muettes' (=revelations of mute stones) (Palacio-Quentin) creates the tension by starting and ending drone-like with a deep, vibrating tone that is then overlayed with sparsely set notes, then whispered voices are added. Instruments drop more notes here and there as the level builds and the whispers become audible voices. And then everything subsides again into the drone. I can, actually, conjure up imagery for this one. First Words (Houle) also uses voices (is this maybe the connecting element?) in a more 'instrumental' way than the other two compositions. Again, there is more consistency in the piece. It moves from vocal beginnings to wind, wind instrument, percussion, sinewave generator, strings and others playing phrases, not just single notes, with the different instruments participating in creating a continuous backdrop from time to time (well balanced, not too often) interrupted by outbursts. The nicest one is the drum solo in the second half. It ends with a beautifully balanced succession of solo vocal, flutes, a racket of everyone, ebbing off into to flute melody.
Overall, two mixed bags, though I find them two of the releases of these artists that I liked most. (RSW)
––– Address: https://ambiances-magnetiques.bandcamp.com/
DISTANT FIRES BURNING - INPERSPECTYCON VOL.2 (CD by Audiobulb Records)
About six months ago, I reviewed the first volume of 'Introspectyon'. Now Distant Fires Burning, also known as Gert de Meester from Belgium, comes up with the second volume. As a bass player, he works in various musical genres. I mentioned a few of his groups last time (VItal Weekly 1303), but now I give you The Hindu Needle Trick, The Mental Attack and Reverend Basstorius' Intergalactic Funk Experience. Distant Fires Burning is his enterprise in the world of ambient music. At first, all electronic, the bass also enters this particular realm. The thematic background of this album is again COVID-19, which De Meester, a social worker by day, sees the results of a lot. As I understand this, the first three pieces are all new, and the other six remixes of earlier works by others. I only found out when I started to think properly about the album and what to write. I had heard the album twice by then, each time being distracted by other things, but each time thinking that this new album is quite a shift in direction, now with beats and such. So, it is not. In the first three pieces, distant Fires Burning explores his dark and solemn take on ambient noir via lengthy explorations of his bass and software manipulations. It feels more organic than before and less computer-based.
The music shoots in various directions in the remix department, but sequencing and rhythm play a role in most of these. Volume Objects craft a massive technoid out of the ambient ashes of Distant Fires Burning, just like Anunada. Neuro... No Neuro's remix is too short and passes more like an intro to a piece that never takes off. He Can Jog is on the more ambient side of the spectrum, adding distant sequences. And Stratosphere and Svaer are the Janus head of ambient. Stratosphere keeps things on the dark and quiet side of ambient, with deep pads and paths in the nocturnal forest and Svaer is dark and noisy. There is an attempt to start something rhythmic, but Svaer drags it back again in the swamp of distortion. The remixes are excellent as they are and bring the original music surely into a different musical realm. (FdW)
––– Address: https://audiobulb.bandcamp.com/
LEGENDARY PINK DOTS - THE MUSEUM OF HUMAN HAPPINESS (CD by Metropolis Records)
It must now be fully 40 years ago that I became aware of 'The Dots' via the legendary 235 mail order, the 59 to 1 tapezine, or some other now long-defunct channel of music information. I was buying all their tapes, the first LPs (Tower, Faces in the Fire, The Lovers, etc.) at an early stage. I stopped purchasing new releases for lack of money as we had children, then started a mail-order as a means of getting records at wholesale prices, as I was fed up with missing out on all those lovely releases. The cost was having to sell three releases to keep one. Actually, it was Dsor Dne and their split release with the LPD that was one of the founding impulses. I went to see many concerts and even interviewed Edward Ka-pel once for a fanzine of a friend's that never happened. I still remember that handshake.
The impossibility of classifying their music always intrigued me with the Dots. It was somehow 'punk' as they lived in a squat in A'dam. It was somehow 'goth', sitting next to Attrition on my shelves; as for one release, they were on the same label. Accessible ('pop'), so that they were promoted big style by PIAS, but at the same time an ambient drone version of 'psychedelic', and then those sad lyrics ... And then, all of that put together, so the mix again was unpalatable, unclassifiable. No one knew where to put them in the record bins, apart from their very own category. But as members officially left the band and released solo albums, at least the number of releases in that bin did grow considerably, though few matched up to the classic LPD quality, or that of Edward's solo releases, starting with the 'Doll' series.
To be honest, I lost track a little in the past years, having moved to other styles of music. I notice I have about 50 releases out of about 200 listed on Discogs. Though many of the releases of the last decade or so have begun to revolve around publishing live recordings and only new albums from time to time.
So listening to this album, I expected surprises and seismic shifts in direction, what with the ages that had passed in between. And I was surprised, as the first track 'This is the museum' kicked off. LPD sound ...... happy? The familiar chords and voice, but a much more upbeat rhythm basis and all kinds of sine wave gadgetry in the mix. After all, this is the 'Museum of human happiness'. And 'human happiness' is the mantra throughout the piece. Despair not. 'There be monsters' takes us back to old patterns, though still on a slightly more major than minor level. The music relies a little more on piano, keyboards, and percussion than previously, breaking up into sound layers with cicada singing. The ceiling appears higher, the mood lifted, though Edward can still sound very claustrophobic. 'Cloudsurfer' starts with a set of chords that could (nearly) be lifted from an Alex Harvey intro - nearly and definitely more rock feeling than I can remember from the days. But even this piece gets deconstructed into sound layers until the percussion cuts in again, only to fall apart into a set of piano chords and then restart the riffing. Wow.
I will not discuss every single track, but the ingredients have now, I believe, become clear. You could describe this as a move to be more 'listenable' and 'palatable'. Still, every time you think this could be played on the radio, the piece moves into Hawkwind-like space sounds, minimal percussion, instruments, The Voice, and back to a rock structure. And lots of 80ies synthesizers and electronic sounds, incl. a good bit of EBM, Depeche Mode, and .... Is this retro? Definitely not, it is essentially taking the LPD world to a new level (which might have - unnoticed by myself - have already happened in previous releases) of mastering the whole range of musical styles since the 80ies on board, an eclectic mix of 'up yours, would we care?' music that still refuses to fit any category. Definitely this is more in-the-face than the soundscapes of early tapes. The music is more transparent and full of detail, in many parts relying more on instruments than on sound, without losing its dream-like character. 'The girl that got there first' creates 5 minutes of soundscape with a mix of anything between guitar, percussion, insect song, keyboards, and voice, keeping a restrained profile throughout, a bit like in the days of 'Space Captain'.
I am not sure, though, whether the more accessible parts will fall on eager ears, as the less accessible might deter new listeners. Or maybe this music will attract a new audience by integrating new styles and nuances. Although it had to grow on me slightly, I very much enjoyed the music. (RSW)
––– Address: https://metropolis-records.com/
BOLEK I LOLEK - NA DZIKIM ZACHODZIE/SKUTKI UBOCZNE (LIVE) (CD by Antenna Non Grata)
KSAWERY WOJCINSKI - TOWER OF PRESSURE (CD by Antenna Non Grata)
COAGULANT - ARCHIVAL RECORDINGS FOR PAOLO MONTI (CD by Antenna Non Grata)
The Polish label Antenna Non Grata may have started to release music that involves sounds from the radio, but now it diversified with improvised music. It seems as if they release more improvised music than they do the 'other' music. First, there is the duo of Bolek I Lolek, also known as Jacek Chmiel (electronics, zither, singing bowls, objects) and Jakub Miarczynski (percussion, toys). Though their names sound Polish, they met up at an improvisation course in Musik-Akademie of Basel. Two pieces are taped in a studio, and one is a lie recording. The information on Bandcamp tells us about a double CD, but that eluded me. The improvisation here, involving instruments on one side and electronics on the other side, is a most interesting one; I am not sure where to place 'toys' and 'objects', but the result is undoubtedly a most exciting combination of traditional improvisation, scratching and scraping instruments, but bumping around in murkier textures of electronics. It all becomes a bit more electro-acoustic. Much to my delight, there is a radio in here as well, and at one point, it gives something about improvised music, a sort of musical Droste effect, which was most amusing. A form of comment or a homage? I am not sure. Throughout the music is all about exploring instruments and interaction, and it does that without going too much into the depths of hectic and frenzy. Sometimes the electronics make an excellent drone form, in which the two players elegantly drift along and at other times mark a pleasing contrast.
Also improvised, but now solo, is the music of Ksawery Wojcinski. His instrument is the double bass and nothing else; well, voice is mentioned, but I. On two pieces, there is the trumpet of Maurycy Wojcinski. The recordings were already made in 2018, at Galeria CKIS Wieza Cisnien w Koninie. Here too, there is a rather solemn and quiet approach to the instrument, another example of careful exploration; not too careful, of course, as Wojcinski plays his instrument with quite some rigour. Sometimes scraping and scratching as if there is no end to it. With some of the space being quite hollow, the longer, sustaining notes hang in there, moving around, until they slowly die. Wojcinski's music is a bit of everything, reaching in the abstract corner, but also a bit melodic on a few occasions, such as on the shortest piece here, 'EON VIII' and in the brief 'EON X'. I am not entirely convinced that the trumpet adds a lot or makes significance. It marks a bit too much of a difference for me. If the Bolek I Lolek were a cross-over between improvisation and electro-acoustic music, then this is the point of improvisation and modern classical music.
Music-wise, something very different is the release from Coagulant, and not because of its use of radio sounds. I must admit that whatever Coagulant is, it is a mystery to me. "Coagulant is a conceptual sound art project devised by Fkdrone in 1998, and is led by Fabio Kubic". What does 'devised' mean, anyway? Whatever! Now it's Fabio Kubic, and from what I understand about the cover and Bandcamp, this is all about "electronic manipulation through microphones, cut-up, environmental soundscape, audio-feedback editing and the structuring of oblique frequencies". While listening to the music, my mind races off, and I see Kubic in the concrete structure depicted on the cover playing back his sound material and recording the way these sounds travel through this construction. Disclaimer (not necessary): I have no idea if this is the case. I thought of it when reading the word 'ambisonic' on the cover. Coagulant plays drone music and it is not easy to see if this drone music has any electronic origins, or if there is some kind of playback of field recordings going through etc. The empty parking lot is an image I certainly have in mind when we get to the final eight minutes of this piece. You get my drift. The music is slow in development, quite dark, and on the surface, one could think, one of those drone projects. Maybe it is, but it happens to be the sort of drone music that I enjoy a lot. In a way, I am reminded of The Hafler Trio, but Coagulant has a more organic feeling to it, which made me think less electronic. A great CD that at less than thirty-four minutes is way too short. (FdW)
––– Address: https://antennanongrata.bandcamp.com/
ENTRE VIFS - UB 10 (CD by Aussaat)
Perhaps I wrote this before, but somehow I always seem to think that Entre Vifs and Le Syndicat are identical groups; they aren't. There is a cross-over in membership, and they share a visual identity, but there are differences. Whereas Le Syndicat may be a continuation of industrial music, subsection rhythm and noise, Entre Vifs' inspiration goes back to the world of the futurists and their art of noise. A diagram on the cover explains the set-up, which may show four people handling the original sound sources; 'drone/shriller', 'kritz 2', 'mini-Throbb.' and 'Bass Throb' - I am using their interpunction. I understand from the information that they build their instruments, "artisanal noise instruments supplemented by an integrated sound processing system and mixing - notably the delay pedals without hoods, used as percussion, which are part of our trademark". These sources are fed through many effects, indicated by brand numbers, DD-3, DC-9, HD-400 and such, which could make for a nice quiz for gear freaks. The same information mentions that the "trickiest instruments" have been sampled and are accessible via "a vintage sampler controlled by a laptop's keyboard". The group taped the four pieces here in preparation for a live concert in November 2019. Entre Vifs could easily be called an improvising ensemble and a noise group. Their music is noise in the truest sense of the word, but they stay clear from the world of noise walls. What they do is loud and chaotic instead of loud and monotonous, the everyday digest of many of today's noise artists. As a listener, you can see the organisation in the madness and maybe even the occasional rhythmic attack on the senses. I would think there is a lot of voice treatment in, for instance, 'Session 57B1', but perhaps these are shrieks of noise. What would Russolo think? There is undoubtedly a question (or a thematic compilation to grab). Creating noise music on homemade noisemakers was undoubtedly one of his ideas, and as such, this should be right up his alley. We will never know. The four pieces last a solid hour, which is quite long for a solid, concentration listening session. Instead, stick this on loudly while doing those dishes from the big party, some vacuum cleaning, and other chores around the house and let noises work together. (FdW)
––– Address: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CHRISTIAN MARIEN - THE SUN HAS SET, THE DRUMS ARE BEATING (CD by MarMade Records)
Somehow I may not entirely understand the liner notes, but I gather that in 1990 Christian Marien saw a concert by Pierre Favre, and he heard a CD by Ben Bönniger, his first drum teacher. Marien says this CD fulfils a thirty-year-old dream, and there is a conceptual idea. I believe that idea is to play repeatedly the same improvisation until it becomes a composition. I might be wrong. The pieces were played live, and we find them without any overdubs on this CD. Very much like the releases by Ernesto Diaz-Infante and Alex Carpenter this week, this solo work of improvised music (as that is at the heart of this) can be seen as a calling card for his work. Many drummers are active in this particular world (Christian Wolfarth, Jon Muller, Tony Buck, Burckhard Beins), and Christian Marien's solo work for drums and percussion easily matches with the best. As far as my knowledge reaches for these things, I think Marien uses all the techniques to create sounds from his drumkit. So it's not just using a pair of sticks and hitting cymbals and drum heads, but also picking up a bow and putting it across the cymbals. On the other hand, he plays small bells simultaneously, and who knows what his feet are doing. He controls all of these with great care and makes it possible for him to create a rich tapestry of sound. You recognize the sound of the drums, most of the time anyway. In 'Stiller', at one point, it all sounds as if he is playing a string instrument. In 'Careboo', the final piece, Marine returns to the kit and plays a more (most?) traditional piece of improvised music. In four pieces and thirty-three minutes, Marien shows us his skills and these considerable. For instance, he already works with other people, Matthias Müller, Eve Risser, and Jim Denley, so I'm sure we'll hear from him soon. (FdW)
––– Address: https://christianmarien.bandcamp.com/
TRISTAN HONSINGER - SMALL TALK (CD by Setola Di Maiale)
This review could introduce who Tristan Honsinger is and what his role was and still is in the free jazz & improvisation world. Instead, I'll just mention a few names: Instant Composers Pool, Derek Bailey, Cecil Taylor, the Ex, Maarten (van Regteren) Altena, Globe Unity, Toshinori Kondo & Ig Henneman. If you don't know these names: look them up if you will. This record is a recording of a complete concert recorded for the Italian radio show Radiotre Suite Jazz in 2007. Seventy minutes long and very entertaining. The guest room features the theremin; an instrument rarely used anymore (James Coleman and Carolina Eyck being the exceptions among others, but not that many players as, let's say, tenor sax). At first, I thought it was a voice vocalizing, but getting into higher frequencies, it becomes apparent that it's a theremin.
Everything is here: vaudeville songs (Nientese, for example), tender ballads, luscious lullabies, wild impros (three of them), a track based on a newspaper article by Italo Calvino on the beginnings of the universe (Il Niente e Il Poco). Tractatus is named after the first significant work by philosopher Ludwig Witggenstein, the only work published during his lifetime.
The whole release is quite a ride from the beginning until the end. As the ensemble has existed since 2003, the interplay between the musicians is very natural, and all can tap from an extended barrel of experience. The voices are sometimes used as a cartoon instead of a scene in a play. It's a very nice time capsule of what Tristan Honsinger did, combining theatre, poetry and improvisation.
Small Talk members are Tristan Honsinger (voice/cello), Cristina Vetrone (voice/accordion), Vincenzo Vasi (voice/theremin)Luigi “Lullo” Mosso (voice/double bass), Enrico Sartori (clarinet), Edoardo Marraffa (alto sax/tenor sax), Antonio Borghini (double bass) and Cristiano De Fabritiis (voice/drums). At times it reminds me of Zappa's Ahead of Their Time. The only drawback is that there are no Italian translations that are being spoken or sung. As this is released on an Italian label, there wouldn't be the need for a lyrics sheet. Oh well, time to brush up on my knowledge of Italian. (MDS)
––– Address: https://www.setoladimaiale.net/
M. KLEIN & STEFFAN DE TURCK - A NEW CITY (LP by het Generiek)
First things first. A few weeks I was surprised to see the name of Steffan de Turck on the cover of a CDR, as I thought he used the moniker Staplerfahrer. Apparently, last year, when he collaborated with Howard Stelzer, he stopped using his moniker, and from now only uses his given name. De Turck likes collaboration a lot, and here he works with label boss M. Klein. We know him from his post-punk avant-garde trio Sweat Tongue, the duo Goldblum, plus no doubt various guises we don't know yet (but we should!). The city is the background of this album. The town in which you find centuries-old buildings next to hypermodern ones; various layers simultaneously. That might also be the approach to the music here. Field recordings (De Turck) and keyboard (Klein), audio-montage (both); thus are the roles divided here. I am not sure if I would have noticed the city connections here had I not known this. It is no longer possible to say what I would have written instead, but something along the lines of highly obscured field recordings and organ-like tones. Now that I know I have to think of this as a city, I have these images in my head of a skyline. The skyline, for instance, of the beautiful city of Nijmegen. If you cross the bridge from the north, you'll see ancient old buildings, churches, and monuments, sitting next to modern buildings, such as casinos and restaurants. In similar terms, I am trying hard to think of Rotterdam, where Klein is from, but I have been in that city for some years and even longer since I was in The Hague, home of De Turck. I can see a diverse skyline inThe Hague, with beautiful old neighbourhoods and a highly modern town hall. The cowbells towards the 'Two Mountains' brings me in a state of confusion, I guess. Wasn't I supposed to be thinking of cities? The two men use the collage technique extensively, not brutally chopping away sounds, but carefully fading one section to the next. This city trip is by foot rather than by car if you get my drift. Klein's keyboards are generally quite modest and delicate sounding, playing slow melodies here and there or stabbing them into a drone. These diverse approaches of his work well with the selection of field recordings. Throughout this is a gentle walk. These two musical pieces are a bit on the short side! (FdW)
––– Address: https://hetgeneriek.bandcamp.com/
ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE - VACILANDO EPS (2CDR by Ramble Records)
ALEX CARPENTER - EXCAVATION PATTERNS (CDR by De La Catessen Records)
In one of those strange quirks of fate, I got both on the same day. What ties them together is the fact that they are both solo (more or less!) guitar releases and both from the world of improvised music. One is from someone whose work we covered quite a few times, while the other is a new name to me.
Let's start with the 'known quantity of Ernesto Diaz-Infante from California. He's playing a few instruments, banjo, traveller guitar (not sure what that is), Turkish electric oud and resonator guitar. Twenty-eight tracks, spread over two discs, in total some 120 minutes of music. I would think that songs that have the name of an instrument (Banjo, Traveler Gitar, etc.) have that instrument and subsequent pieces of music until a new instrument is used as a title of a piece. His approach to the instruments he plays is carefully played minimalism. He uses various techniques to achieve that. It can be through repeatedly strumming the same thing over and over again, maybe at times using something other than his fingers (a stick? an object?), but he also uses the bow across the strings. Most of the time, sound effects play a minor role, and on a few occasions, the role is much bigger, such as in 'And Hid From'. Reverb, however, is one of the effects he uses quite a bit to give his music an additional spacious character. Whereas in his previous, Diaz-Infante seemed to explore one side of his minimalist work, I would think this new one is an overall example of various techniques and styles. From strict minimalism to music with a distinct improvised feeling. I always like to think of such releases as calling cards for the musicians; "this is what I do". Diaz-Infante may no longer need those, but if you are looking for a more general idea of what he does, this is an excellent place to start.
Oh, and there is another connection. Diaz-Infante's double CDR is on a label from Australia, also the (former) homeland of Alex Carpenter. 'Excavation Patterns' is a work he released in 2005 on the Vanished Records label. Back then, he gave a copy of the demo to Luke Altmann, who ran a new music venue, De La Catessen. He immediately liked the demo and used it to end the night, the last call for alcohol music. It is easy to why you would play this music. There are four tracks, 'Low', 'Middle', 'High' and 'Excavation'. The first three are not about the frequency areas in which the guitar and the baritone guitar operates, but I assume their place on the fretboard. Carpenter uses various delays while playing the guitar, so finely woven patterns arise. Notes fall to the ground like careful snowflakes, and sometimes he shifts a note, uses a bit more power, and the snowflake is bigger. 'Excavation' is a bit different. Here it is less about repeating notes in succession, drifting gently about, but a more prolonged strum, in which the various delay pedals make it all the more spacious as the piece progresses, and at twenty-four minutes, there is a lot of time to move. The music is on a slow drift into the night; perfect 'last call' music, I'd say. Get your coat and go home, and play 'Excavation Patterns' again, with the last drink of the night and then a good night's sleep. And whatever happened to Alex Carpenter? I don't know. This is the only music release from him. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ramblerecords.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://delacatessen.bandcamp.com/merch
DE FABRIEK & M.NOMIZED & AUSLAND - MUSIC FOR THREE GEARS (CDR by De Fabriek)
From the department 'massive amount', a CDR and a cassette, with two hours of music. With both M.Nomized and Ausland, nom de plume for Roberto Auser, De Fabriek worked together. The first was already a collaborating partner a few times, and the latter popped up for the first time only a few weeks ago, with a CD called 'L'Usine A L'Etranger' (Vital Weekly 1317). The package, excellent at it is, has no information about who did what. No mentioning of 'final mix' or 'editing'. The music provides no clue either for me. With De Fabriek, these things are always a bit of a mystery, so I best not speculate here. Let's concentrate on the music. The twelve tracks show a uniform character, starting with the length of about ten to twelve minutes per piece (in the old days, this would have been a double cassette, I guess), but also music has ideas that return all the time. Each piece is a swirl of drones created with electronics, synthesizers, and field recordings. The latter seems to dwell heavily on those captured by sitting in an enormous shopping mall. We hear voices left and right, and none of the conversations is in any way audible. Breaking down this release into individual pieces, which tells about the differences, is difficult because these are marginal. That is not to say that these pieces are similar; they are not. It's just in their approaches to the sound material and the way these pieces are constructed, and there are strong similarities between the pieces. As I see this, it is better to enjoy this as long work. Two hours of slow-changing sceneries. I sat back and read a book, looked outside for a while, and even took a small nap; it is a lazy Sunday afternoon, after all, so nothing too tiring, please. And this proved to be the perfect soundtrack for such a 'do nothing' afternoon. (FdW)
––– Address: https://defabriek.bandcamp.com/
THE KIDS AND THE COSMOS - AMBIENT MIXTAPE VOL. 1 (CDR by Sound In Silence)
SWEENEY - STAY FOR THE SORROW (CDR by Sound In Silence)
Sometimes I wonder, at one point, I started to think about the word 'mixtape'. In my younger years, these were tapes with significant bits of music, a fancy hand-drawn cover, and you shared this with your mates. I never made any, and I knew no one who shared my taste in music. These days the word mixtape pops up in connection with hip hop, rap etc., but it always seems a collection of songs of their making. Mix what exactly? Exactly the same can be said of 'Ambient Mixtape Vol. 1' by The Kids And The Cosmos. Behind this name is Justin Lee Radford. He is also one half of HIN, with Jerome Alexander (see Vital Weekly 1189) and worked with filmmakers, environmentalists, astronauts, scientists and social activists; that all sounds most interesting. His release is relatively short, clocking in at twenty-eight minutes. Thick ambient textures, delicate piano tones, and guest vocals from Alexander make for music very close to the world of new age music. Maybe the titles point in that direction too? 'Arrival In Mystery' or Transition' may point in such a direction; well, perhaps even the project's name. I am not sure about this release. I like ambient music a lot, I am aware of its proximity to the world of new age music, which is a musical genre I want to avoid. The Kids And The Cosmos walk close to the dreaded new age music line. Drenched with quite an amount of reverb to suggest space (or cosmos?), some of this reminds me of whatever bit of modern pop music I pick, mainly when used on the piano and humming voices ('Transition'). It is a sunny day, which makes me quite optimistic, so thumbs up.
I reviewed various works by Jason Sweeney in various of his guises (also working as Panoptique Electrical, Other People's Children and Simpatico). One of these is Sweeney, which we can regard as his most important personal project. 'Stay For The Sorrow' is the third album I hear from him as Sweeney. He plays synths, drum/machines, piano, strings and above all, he sings. This time, the label makes no comparisons with other people's work ("Scott Walker, David Sylvian, Anohni and "the quieter moments of Depeche Mode"), even when I think it is still all valid; Mark Hollis could be added to this list. I think Sweeney makes some great, dramatic music, which is very professionally sounding, and which I think should reach far beyond the (perhaps) limited reach of a CDR release. As much as I hate to repeat myself, I will return to my previous review and state that "I don't like the big drama, and I am never particularly interested in lyrics, and yes, my bad indeed. For many people out there, 'strange music', whatever one could or would define as such, is something very abstract, but once there is a voice, it all makes sense. If you are one of them, head over the Bandcamp of this label and check this out." (FdW)
––– Address: https://soundinsilencerecords.bandcamp.com/
PJS - ORIGIN STORIES (cassette by Strategic Tape Reserve)
ULI FEDERWISCH & CHIP PERKINS - VISITING PLACES (LEARNING BY LISTENING VOL. 5) (cassette by Strategic Tape Reserve)
From Cologne, Germany hails the Strategic Tape Reserve, a small independent label releasing tapes of the experimental kind. Unfortunately, the website hasn't been updated in a long time (it ends with release #34), while before me are numbered LBL5 and #60. So there isn't a lot of easily accessible information to write from, but each release on Bandcamp has a little extra info, and many of their prior releases have sold out already. So they're definitely doing a good thing there in Cologne.
The first tape I'm playing is Origin Stories by Patrick Dique and Jordan Christoff. Housed in a screaming purple pinkish cover, the A-side holds one long track entitled "Source". And at the first play, I was really puzzled by it. The 'swoosh-rate' is very high, and constant arpeggiators are filling in each opening in the sound spectrum. The use of delays is almost excessive, and there is hardly any moment of rest. Yes, some of the layers are pretty open, but there is always the pressure of a certain rush. Like when you listen to Phillip Glass while you were expecting Cage's 4"33' ...
The reverse side of the tape has two shorter compositions entitled "Turbo-Pause" and "Altitude". "Turbo-Pause" continues in the same way of "Source", meaning a constant pressure by the layers that could have been more in the background. But the second part of that track shows us a bit more experimental approach. There are still many arpeggiators, but that seems to be a choice within their sound. The 12 minute "Altitude" which closes the release is much more relaxed and ambient in its origin. The background clears up, and instead of the synthetic arps, it's more a loop-based piece with nice synth sounds and well-placed effects. My favourite on this tape for sure.
PJS is labelled a drone/new-age project, but there isn't too much drone in there, if I'm honest. New Age probably, synth for sure, experimental yes, but not drone.
The second release by Strategic Tape Reserve is something different - Something completely different. I've played it several times, and I just can't get a grip on it, which proves that even a C40 cassette will give you hours and hours of pleasure. "Visiting Places (Learning by Listening Vol. 5)" is the fifth tape in a series, but it's only the first I hear. Each time, the artist of the "Learning by Listening" release is different and the subject. This time the artists are Uli Federwisch (synths) and Chip Perkins (voice) and the title "Visiting Places", and this is a road trip. And for this cassette, as said after many listen, I can't tell you if the emphasis is on 'road' or 'trip'.
The five parts of this release tell a story, but only with complete dedication, you will find out exactly where and which roads (Belgium?). Carl's voice seems to be used with just some general effects, and Uli's synth work ranges from minimal experimental electronics (sometimes hitting an 8-bit sound feeling) to soundscapish moments. The atmosphere is very well caught, even if you don't know when, where and what it is all about.
Maybe it's the enumeration of animals on side B, but at some point, I had to think of the epic "Alice in Wonderland" by Randy Greif. That classic release is one huge LSD trip, as we all know, and this tape is definitely not as massive as "Alice". But this is a nice road trip too. Maybe not the full experience on LSD, but magic mushrooms will get you there too.
––– Address: http://www.strategictapereserve.de/
DAVID PARKER - EVERY DAY LIFE (cassette by Dirty Clothes Recs)
David Parker from Kingston, Canada leans with his new album on the book Critique of Everyday Life by Henri Lefebvre (title and ideas), the album Axacan by Daniel Bachman (influences), and the working method of artists like Adrienne Lenker and Sunn O) )). Hopefully, there will still be enough of Parker himself, but it's nice that he is clear about where it all comes from as far as he is concerned. 'Every Day Life' was recorded over a weekend at the Port William Sound studio, together with Jonas Bonnetta. Guitar, banjo, piano, synthesizers and some field recordings that's what you can hear on this half-hour cassette. The first track is the longest and consists of eight improvisations with some fingerpicking on an acoustic guitar and doesn't sound very interesting. That is something different on improvisation number nine, in which the banjo plays the leading role, together with initially sparsely used piano sounds. The two musicians are on a roll in an undulating and compelling cadence. In improvisation number ten, it really goes wild, where a bow sounds like pulling a big dot of noise from the strings. Drones, dark bass layers, synthesizer rattle and even more noise in the higher regions complete it. The three songs have absolutely nothing to do with each other so the whole is quite varied, but the cohesion is actually lacking. If then half the album is guitar pinging, it is actually a pity, because the other two pieces show David Parker at full force. (AvS)
––– Address: http://david-parker.bandcamp.com/