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
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SONOLOGYST - INTERDIMENSIONAL (CD by Cold Spring) *
SOTE - MAJESTIC NOISE MADE IN BEAUTIFUL ROTTEN IRAN (CD by Sub Rosa) *
PASCAL BATTUS - CYMBALE OUVERTE (CD by Akousis) *
GINTAS K - LĖTI (CD by Crónica) *
ECLECTIC MAYBE BAND – AGAIN ALORS (CD by Discus Music) *
CATH ROBERTS & OLIE BRICE - CONDUITS (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
BILIANA VOUTCHKOVA & MICHAEL ZERANG - THE EMERALD FIGURINES (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
IGUAN - HEAVEN’S DOOR (CD by Beeswrap Lab’ut) *
GIANLUCA FAVARON/STEFANO GENTILE/CARL MICHAEL VON HAUSSWOLFF/ROD MODELL - LANDSLIDE (FOR FIELDS RECORDINGS AND SINE WAVES) (2LP by Silentes/Zero)
CAPRICCIO NELFANGO (LP by Hazard Records) *
DE FABRIEK - BLECHEINTOPF (LP by Futura Resistanza) *
SWARTZ ET - DESERT MEDITATIONS (cassette by Utter East) *
LEANDRO BARZABAL - BRIS DE CLOTURE (cassette Scum YR Earth) *
MICHAEL THIEKE & LUIGI MARINO - NATIVE LANGUAGES OF NOWHERE (cassette by Emergent Idioms) *
CHARMAINE LEE/FRED LONBERG-HOLM/GABBY FLUKE-MOGUL/JOANNA MATTREY/WESTON OLENCKI - LIVE IN ACCORD (cassette by Notice Records)
KYLE MOTL/PATRICK SHIROISHI - APPARITIONS (cassette by Notice Records) *
ADRIANNE MUNDEN-DIXON/LEO CHANG - SOME TIME (cassette by Notice Records) *
SIMON WHETHAM - PITCHBACK (cassette, private) *
SONOLOGYST - INTERDIMENSIONAL (CD by Cold Spring)
The works I heard so far from Raffaele Pezzella, also known as Sonologyst, were all great works. I still fail to see one aspect of his work, dealing with death cults. But if that's what the man wants, then so be it. 'Interdimensional' is the closing part of a trilogy that started with 'Silencers' (Vital Weekly 1134) and 'Ancient Death Cults And Beliefs' (Vital Weekly 1225) and inspired by "the scientist Michio Kaku who theorized what could be the remote future of the human species; beyond matter, the stars, and known dimensions. A future that could lead us to the victory over the end of everything, beyond the foreseen and inevitable death of the universe known to us." What I enjoy about Sonologyst's music is that even if you disregard this theory, or other forms of death culture, the music is strong by itself (and which may question: why have this theory?). It inhabits that musical corner of isolationism, if anyone cares to remember that word, and through synthesizers (analogue, digital, modular; I don't know), Sonologyst takes the listener on a mysrious travel through time and space. A modern soundtrack to The Twilight Zone or The X-Files. This is drone (check!), this is ambient (double check!) and it has a wonderful mild experimental edge (check). It is not connected to the world of lo-fi noise/drone makers, as Sonologyst clearly is strong the synthesizer end of the music and not so much on making his sounds all dirty and grubby. The information reads about "electrified instruments, analogue synthesizers and recordings of resonant metal objects", but the first and the latter weren't easily heard by me, as much I am never too sure about his clain to be inspired by 50s and 60s electronic music composers. None of that really matters, as one sinks back into deep space, even picking up a message from somewhere in 'Through Memories And Galaxies', and you know we're not alone. Perhaps not the sort of music to be played in the dark if you being home alone is not your favourite pastime. Of course, I played this during the day and gazed outside from time to time. No spaceships inside, but some wonderful music did the trick well enough for me. Sonologyst delivers another powerful album, going from strength to strength. (FdW)
––– Address: https://coldspring.co.uk/
SOTE - MAJESTIC NOISE MADE IN BEAUTIFUL ROTTEN IRAN (CD by Sub Rosa)
There I was, ready to write, 'I have no idea who Abe 'Sote' Ebtekar' is, but a quick search told me I reviewed a double LP of his with The Iranian Orchestra For New Music in Vital Weekly 664. That's about fourteen years ago, so you'll excuse me if I have no recolection of that record. It was a record modern musique concrète and orchestral music. This new record is all electronic. Sote, as he shortens his name, played all around the world and in on the jury panel of The DAAD artists-in-Berlin programm (I'd be better be diplomatic). He has had works on such labels as warp, Sub Rosa, Opal tapes, Diagonal, Mute and Morphone, all of which hardly ever muster these pages. His latest release is dedicated to the late Peter Rehberg. Sote has the conviction that all rules and formulas should be deconstructed ad rethought; hardly a new notion, I would think? Despite that conviction some of the music here sounds rather tradtiponl, in terms of sequenced beats and harmonies. Well, that is, according to what I think harmony is; I am most certainly not an expert in that respect. Likewise, I tried to look for any connection to Rehberg, but I couldn't find one. He's also somebody whose work in the last ten years escaped me. I found the opening 'Forced Absence' disappointing. A forced attempt at rhythm, glitch, noise and melody without much sense of direction and feared for the worst. However, the seven remaining pieces, I found rather interesting. Sote has indeed a no rules accepted approach to his sounds. An introspective piece of music can be interrupted with a blast of noise and continue as if nothing happened. That said, organisation is certainly something of interest for Sote. He likes to create little bursts of symphonic clouds. There are certain theatrical aspects to the music, which work quite well, certainly, I would think, on the big screen/stage. Sote's music isn't part of any easy clasification. It's not noise, techno, glitch, musique concrète, rock, or fill in any other genre, and yet, at times it seems it is electronic variation of any of this (and more). While it is not always my cup of tea (too theatrical, I guess), I enjoyed the bold differences this records makes. (FdW)
––– Address: http://subrosalabel.bandcamp.com
PASCAL BATTUS - CYMBALE OUVERTE (CD by Akousis)
Over the years, I reviewed some releases of Pascal Battus' music, but I must admit I still have very little idea what the man does. It is something to do with an instrument he built, which deals with rotating surfaces (next to instruments such as guitar ("electric guitar on table + contact micorphone+ various objects + electronics") and percussion (:amplified or not objects"). On 'Cymbale Ouverte' he uses the "the rotataive surfaces inspired by the hurdy-gurdy principle except that is it actioned by an electric motor", and this time he only uses cymbals. I would not have guessed these were cymbals (or is it one cymbal per piece? I don't know), as they lack the characteristic overtones that one associates with cymbals, the big resonating space. The four pieces here are all fine pieces of drone music. Battus goes for a drone-like sound, loud, noise-based, and without too many ringing overtones. Maybe it is my imagination running old, but maybe I hear a bit of the motor? There is that hard to explain hiss/rumble/static that is also part of the music, on a deeper level, that adds to the noise festivities these pieces already are. I am sure someone somewhere thought of the term 'power drone' before, and it is a term one could apply to 'Cymbale Ouverture'. Battus' music is never static; changes may not always come as fast, but Battus has flair and elegance with the material in each of these pieces. As a skilled player, he works his way with the material and gets the best sonorous qualities out of the machines. Play loud and be fully immersed and you can't do much else; play quiet and let your space fill slowly with sound. This album has various possibilities. (FdW)
––– Address: http://akousis.bandcamp.com
GINTAS K - LĖTI (CD by Crónica)
I leave my head hanging down a bit ... In shame, I had never heard of Gintas K before until this CD except for one single track on a sampler. And the reason why I love samplers (exploration time, finding out about new names) should have given me a hint towards this man, but well, sometimes, things probably slither through the net's mazes.
Gintas K hails from Lithuania, and he has been active since 1994. According to his Discogs page, his output is quite massive, so he will be researched further these coming years, especially when the promo sheets talk about his theatrical performances, Fluxus, experimental, electroacoustic & film music well, as sound installations. And when I read the added granular synthesis (one of my favourite synthesis methods), my musician's heart throbs more intensely.
"Lėti" - Lithuanian for slow - is a CD released on the Portuguese Crónica on which Gintas K had already released four albums and a few 'digital-only. The composition on "Lėti" is between two and seven minutes, and it's a lovely album to play in the background while you're getting stuff done. The titles refer to the atmosphere that's being created on the particular track. "Bells" highlights the use of a somewhat ringing sound, "Guitar" sounds like a guitar. Still, it could also be something different that's manipulated to sound like a guitar and "Ambient" is a really nice minimal ambient tapestry. So the titles are more like a reference than highly creative titles; Maybe that's a leftover from the Fluxus part where I've seen this more often.
The 'slowness' and heartbeat of the album makes it an album worth playing in rotation. Time goes faster when the heartbeat is slow, and maybe that is why I think this is a very powerful release. And for those who - like me - never heard of Gintas K before, this is a good starting point to start exploring. (BW)
––– Address: http://www.cronicaelectronica.org//
ECLECTIC MAYBE BAND – AGAIN ALORS (CD by Discus Music)
Eclectic Maybe Band is a project of Belgian bassist Guy Segers, most known for his work with the legendary Univers Zero. With this band, he was part of a movement of avant-garde rock bands that operated on the European continent and the UK since the 70s. Concerning Univers Zero and leader Daniel Denis it became silent in the last few years, and Roger Trigaux (early Univers Zero, Présent) sadly passed away. Guy Segers remained an active force in the scene of Brussels over the years. Played in local groups like The Morton Folk Gang and Epistrophy Labo, and engaged in international collaborations like Gurumaniax with Ax Genrich and Mani Neumaier, and Uneven Eleven with Charles Hayward and Makoto Kawabata. Around 2017 he started the Eclectic Maybe Band, which may be considered his most ambitious project. In 2018 the band debuted with ‘The Blind Night Watchers' Mysterious Landscapes’, followed by ‘Reflection In a Mœbius Ring Mirror’(2019). For his third album, he invited many musicians again. Many of them also participated in the earlier albums: Carla Diratz (vocals, whistle), Cathryn Robson (vocals), Pierre Bernard (flute), Roland Binet (flute), Stephan Köhr (bassoon, contrabassoon), Martin Archer (clarinet), Dirk Descheemaeker (clarinet, bass clarinet), Dave Newhouse (saxophones, bass clarinet), Joe Higham (clarinet, keyboards), Jean Pierre Soarez (trumpet), Cécile Broché (violin), Ariane Plumerel (violin), Sigrid Vandenbogaerde (cello), Catherine Smet (piano), Andy Kirk (keyboards), Kazuyuki Kishino (ghost machine), Michel Delville (e-guitar), Ángel Ontalva (guitar), Pascal Vaucel (guitar), Fabrice Owerzarzak (drums), Dirk Wachtelaer (drums). Guy Segers plays bass, virtual keyboards, piano, organ, drums, samples. Don’t expect all musicians to be present on all tracks. They operated in different subgroups. Four of the eight tracks are collective improvisations, recorded on two days in September and October 2021. e ‘Retable Vertigineux’ has a nice solo by flutist Bernard.‘Tingling Skin’ is a heavily processed ambient-like texture that slowly evolves. An atmospheric work that seems to have no beginning nor end. Rhythm-driven ‘Voici Viola’ opens with a long dark improvised intro dominated by nice bass clarinet by Descheemaeker. The other four tracks are compositions by Segers, except for the last track on the album ‘Atomos Keyhole’ by Segers and Kishino. Recording dates are not specified, but the works probably came into being over a longer period, with contributions recorded at different studios and underwent serious post-production. The opening track ‘Disquiet’ has an architecture that is very familiar with old Univers Zero. From all tracks, ‘Further on the Ladder’ comes most close to the song format and has the raw voice of Diratz in the leading role. ‘Atomos Keyhole’ is a dark ambient construction by just Kishino (ghost machine), Cathryn Dobson (non-verbal vocals) and Segers on bass. A piece that reminded me of Diamanda Galas’ work. Segers did a tremendous job and delivered an album that has a lot to offer. With influences of prog, impro, avant rock, etc., man interesting and engaging moments pass by. (DM)
––– Address: https://discusmusic.bandcamp.com/
CATH ROBERTS & OLIE BRICE - CONDUITS (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
Conduits (for those not-so-good-in English-technical-terms) means piping, or in a more general sense, connections. Why is this important? The cover shows the substructure of a sea pier with girders and (maybe) some piping. Oh, childhood memories when we walked the pier in Blankenberghe and watched the waves play around the sea-crusted pillars and girders. But that's not the point here. You only find out by research that this music was created over a distance. Not by mailing cassettes as in the old days, but synchronously. Covid, of course. The whole album was recorded between Hastings and London on 21 Jan 2021 using the internet and software. If I remember correctly, that was still in the Christmas lockdown of the Johnson regime.
Cath Roberts (Hastings) plays the baritone saxophone and Olie Brice (London) the double bass. Both have a recent but full history of recordings, Roberts going back a bit more than five years, Brice a decade. Nevertheless, the list of bands and projects they have played in is long, and Alex Ward is a common denominator in this list - which again has been around for 30 years, playing both clarinet/saxophone and guitar, with people like Derek Bailey, Lol Coxhill and Simon Fell. You get the context: British modern jazz.
What absolutely surprised me was how tight the music is and how good the quality. I could not have told the difference in quality to a studio recording by listening on a laptop. But then, I might be used to LoFi as the benchmark, what with tape hiss and distortion often being part of the music. So much for technology progress when circumstances force it. Potentially, Covid has opened up completely new ways of working together. Not that it did not exist pre-2020, but we have now grown accustomed to moving around less and more proficient at using internet-based tools. This allows more collaboration at a distance with less unnecessary effort and cost, though at the price of not being able to sit down with a beer and bite after work.
Above the ranting I should not forget to discuss the music! As already indicated, it is firmly based in British modern jazz, beyond free jazz. The music may have been composed (Roberts is stated as the composer) but could just as well be the result of an entirely improvised session. Maybe the composition explains the excellent coordination, but that is something I could not tell here. Roberts and Brice play a very thoughtful kind of music that is both 'free' and melodic. Though they react to each other and interplay, there is also an element of joint development of lines. They steer clear of a free jazz and improv racket and play something you could call 'chamber jazz'. Music played in a small club, intimate and personal. Roberts uses the full range of sounds the saxophone can offer, matching the sound spectrum of the double bass by using a baritone sax. Brice again plucks away and bows the instrument, which is not often done in jazz. All this gives the music an organic note beyond the usual free improv rackets.
A beautiful recording that would set us waiting for more music from this young duo. (RSW)
––– Address: https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/
BILIANA VOUTCHKOVA & MICHAEL ZERANG - THE EMERALD FIGURINES (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
This is also a duo recording, similar to the Roberts/Brice CD reviewed in this edition and on Relative Pitch. Nevertheless, approach, style, sound, and instrumentation could not be further apart. Voutchkova is an accomplished violinist, composer, and improviser born in Bulgaria. Her debut was recorded in 1989, at the age of 17, with a selection of classical piano/violin duos. Her experimental work, crisscrossing the line between improvisational and contemporary classical music, dates back to 2013, playing with Michael Thieke, Ernesto Rodrigues and others. She claims this CD is the first in a series of further duos to be produced throughout 2022, so there is something of a concept behind the music.
Michael Zerang is 15 years older, a percussionist leaning more towards the jazz side of things, having played with Broetzmann senior, Jaap Blonk, Kevin Drumm and many more, a long list of recordings going back to the mid-1990ies.
The CD kicks off with a very long track, 26 minutes, 'About the village', in which you at first hardly recognise instruments. It is more about 'sound', an approach that persists throughout the release. Eventually, you hear a pluck, a bow, a screech from the violin. Though the percussion sound remains vague, sounds from objects are used in various ways. I do not believe there has been any editing or layering of sounds - it all sounds 'live', which makes you even more curious in places, how the music was created.
The overall effect over the four pieces is similar. The music balances on the interface somewhere between improvised music and industrial. Yes, no contemporary classical (though that is some of Voutchkovas background) and no jazz (expecting Broetzmann-esque explosions). Were it not for the acoustic character of the music, this could in part qualify as 'drone' or 'ambient' music, maybe more the latter than the former. However, the sound hardly ever rises to a significant level and remains in the realm of 'noises' created by 'objects' all over the place. In this way, Voutchkova and Zerang create long, pensive pieces in some aspects related to Kapotte Muziek live concerts when objects are brought to create sound, instead of the purely electronic means of today. When Frans nearly hit Cat Killer because he had shouted it was boring ... Emerald Figurines is not boring at all, actually a bit surprising, since the range of instruments appears limited. But the duo manages to create a continuous sound plane that meanders and develops but never stands still. (RSW)
––– Address: https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/
IGUAN - HEAVEN’S DOOR (CD by Beeswrap Lab’ut)
An iguan - that's what the duo behind Iguan has in mind when making their music. According to them, that creature is both monstrous and magnificent, and so is their thinking over what they make with their band. The combination of heavenly vocals and dark electronics does indeed have that in it, but everything stays neatly within limits; it's not all that heavy as previously indicated. Claire Trouilloud does the vocals, and Yerri-Gaspar Hummel does the electronics; both make the compositions. This cannot be done otherwise because all tracks originated from improvisation. This also means that the vocals don't have much variation because they follow the electronically generated tone that mostly stays in the same register. There is also not often variation in rhythm. It actually only gets really interesting when poetry also comes into play, then, the musicians no longer hold each other in the pliers, but they can afford more freedom. Even so, the seven tracks remain an open the door to heaven, primarily because of Trouilloud's fairytale voice. The volcanic bubbling of Hummel's electronics shows the other side of the coin. (AVS)
––– Address: http://iguanduo.bandcamp.com/
GIANLUCA FAVARON/STEFANO GENTILE/CARL MICHAEL VON HAUSSWOLFF/ROD MODELL - LANDSLIDE (FOR FIELDS RECORDINGS AND SINE WAVES) (2LP by Silentes/Zero)
In 1963, 260 million cubic meters of rock broke off the top of Monte Toc in Italy. It caused a wave that killed almost 2000 people. Gianluca Favaron and Stefano Gentile made field recordings and photos of the place in 2016 and back home. Favaron added tapes, oscillators and sound effects. That became the piece 'Landslide', presented on the first side of this double LP. Rod Modell then reworked' Landslide, and then Carl Michael von Hauswolff remixed that. And then, on the final side, Modell does a remix of the rework. If that makes you dizzy, it did so here. The whole 'remix' and 'rework' is something that I am not sure what it means; or rather, I do know what it means, I am not sure why they use different words. Maybe there is a semantic difference that eludes me? When I once questioned the whole notion of a remix in a review, I received a reaction that I knew little about the nature of electronic music, so what do I know. The Favaron/Gentile original is already an excellent piece of field recordings and sine waves, in which they play around with the dynamics quite a bit. None of these field recordings is sounds that I can relate to something that I heard before, i.e. pretty abstract through all the transformations that took place. Their piece has a musique concrète-like feeling, of heavy treatments and closely recorded, untreated object abuse. You could say this is a landslide in sound, but anything else may also fit. Rode Modell's remix adds more electronics, which cuts out a bit of the collage aspect of the original and brings out a more sustaining element to the music; it makes it, effectively, more ambient. I assume Modell (and Hauswolff) had access to the separate sound files. Von Hauswolff goes in another direction, combining the musique concrète elements with drones of a more destructive nature, perhaps bringing out the sense of a catastrophe, impending or happening. The remix of the rework we find on the final side continues where we left Modell's first remix but even added more delays and other effects to the proceedings. Now the ambient circle is full-on; the catastrophe is no longer impending, but listen to its results - the quiet after the storm, the dripping of sounds and wind through open pipes. Altogether quite a robust set of records. (FdW)
––– Address: http://store.silentes.it/
CAPRICCIO NELFANGO (LP by Hazard Records)
Since starting in 1999, Hazard Records released 100 records, including this celebratory LP. That is quite something since I can say that Hazard Records is among the oldest netlabels. There have been only a few physical releases. This LP should have been released some time ago, but waiting at the pressing plant is like waiting for hell to freeze over. Well, almost. The gimmick of this LP is that it has three sides; at the end of the second side, there is a lock groove, and beyond that, there is an additional track. That is also a way of making a three-sided LP. There are 100 copies available of the LP, and they are not for sale, but you can help the label by paying something concerning the production cost. A reverse of Bandcamp's 'pay what you want for a physical copy; seems to be a more interesting sales pitch than a 'third side'. Capriccio Nelfango is a group that started months before the pandemic outside Barcelona and has members such as Pancho Balada, Jesus de la Torre, Joan Olle, Huanjo Lopez, Adria Bofarull and Anki Toner. Hazard Records has not had a particular music style in which they operate, but it could be anything. However, freedom plays a role when it comes to their releases. Capriccio Nelfango one could classify a group of improvisation, but straight away, I'd like to state that none of this regular improvisation. The group describes it as 'post-produced improvisation', which, I guess, is a term that leaves something wide open to imagine. I am reminded of 'Great Babel Gives Birth', the one and only LP by UK's Metamorphosis (which I seemed to have misplaced for years now), who shared a similar lo-fi free rock improvisation combined with electronics and tape manipulation. The difference is that Capriccio Nelfango is further down the road regarding deconstruction. Their pieces are shorter, more broken up into alienating segments of chaotic charges. Rock-like 'structures' sit alongside pieces that freely work with 'other sounds', whatever these other sounds might be. I enjoyed their post-punk approach of deconstructing music, recording techniques, instrument handling and composition techniques; why aren't more people doing music like this? And where's that old LP? (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.hazardrecords.org/
DE FABRIEK - BLECHEINTOPF (LP by Futura Resistanza)
''Blecheintopf' is one of three cassettes released by New Bulwark Tapes in a series called 'Music For Modern Art Exhibitions'; the others are 'La Nuova Altea' by Ruud Kluivers and 'New Cubsim' by O.R.D.U.C., the group behind the label. Nico Selen, of O.R.D.U.C., was at the time a part-time member of De Fabriek (disguised as Wolff P. Rillings), had this idea that this was music for art exhibitions, and he's the only one to connect it to a painter. Hopefully, these two cassettes will also be re-issued on LP (I never even heard the O.R.D.U.C. one!). For De Fabriek, this is one of their earliest cassettes and sounds even more homemade than their earliest work, such as their debut LP 'Schafttijdsamba' (see Vital Weekly 1145 for a review of the re-issue). The liner notes talk about "low-tech instruments, toys and makeshift and inexpensive electronic devices laying on the floor of De Fabriek's apartment", which might include a metronome as a rhythm machine. The music here has no particular references to art, save for 'Tribute To Paul Klee', a cut-up from German television, interviews with various people who never of the painter. Effectively this album is just an album and a fine one at that. Ever since I first heard their music, which might very well be around the time they recorded 'Blechintopf' (a made-up German word involving the words scrap metal and hotpot), I have enjoyed their spacious electronic music. On this particular album, it is all a bit more lo-fi and direct, the pleasure of creating weird yet highly listenable music; the minimalism of a track with Russian title, to the in your face drones of 'Harrisburg'; they could have expanded that into a whole album side, but keep it at a superb five minutes. There is some tremendous variation in the music here, ranging from the simplest of experiments with tape to melodic drones. Colourful music for what should be a varied exhibition. (FdW)
––– Address: https://futuraresistenza.bandcamp.com/
SWARTZ ET - DESERT MEDITATIONS (cassette by Utter East)
The desert landscape of southern Utah is the "unintentional" source of inspiration for Detroit based musician Steve Swarts, who goes by the name SWARTZ et. Armed with just a "little synth", he went out to the desert and played these very meditative ambient pieces of music. This album is his sixth, but I heard his music for the first time. Swartz's music is also used in TV shows, documentaries and independent films; none are named as such. According to the information, the album explores "themes of separation, grief, desire, being alive and the vast inner topographies that shape the landscape of our humanity". I like ambient music, let there be no mistake about it, and I enjoyed this a lot. Part of that is because this cassette arrived precisely at the right moment for me. Some days are quieter than others, and being at home because of the disease that is supposed not to exist (and for which the vaccine allegedly kills more) has some mild symptoms. Still, not precisely in the entire swinging mood to nail down a bunch of reviews, Swartz's music provides the fitting soundtrack for a slightly clouded head. His slow sounds, slow arpeggios, and slow movements have precisely the right effect on this mind and body, providing I would be one to believe that. Or actually, maybe I do. Swartz et shows a refined elegance in each of his pieces, dark but not ominous, atmospheric but not spooky. His music is a picture of a wide-open space, where one drifts alone because of separation, grief, desire, etc. The solitary state is a most welcome one. I thought that a cassette might not be the best format for such delicate music, but then I also believe that some of the hiss gives the whole thing an additional intimate layer, or maybe it is just a romantic notion of mine to wander around with a walkman? (FdW)
––– Address: https://swartz.bandcamp.com/
LEANDRO BARZABAL - BRIS DE CLOTURE (cassette Scum YR Earth)
Here we have an example of one of those mildly confusing releases. One of those that I keep playing, but for which I don't seem to make my mind up. Leandro Barzabal is from Argentina and has been residing since 2018 in Paris. I have no idea which (if any) instrument he plays or something about his background. He recorded his cassette at GRM Parallele, which I am sure is connected to INA GRM. I just don't know how (and honestly couldn't be bothered to go through their website to find it). I would think, but I might be wrong, Barzabal works with modular electronics, and from what I gather with my limited notion, he works with a strict improvised idea. When he cuts his sounds short, you get the clicks and cuts of, say, Pan Sonic. Still, I would think he also uses recordings of acoustic objects and drums (for instance in 'L_insistance comme méthode pour échapper à la réalité, Première dégradation'), which adds further to the notion of this being a more or less improvised release. It also sounds like trying out various modules and checking the potential, resulting in a cruder, noisier way. This release does not always convince me. Sure, I like the natural energy of this release, and I can imagine if Barzabal plays a concise, loud concert version of this, it would be most enjoyable, but overall, as a release, it just hold it for me. The noise end was unfocussed, and some ideas could develop more. As a cassette showing a work in progress, this works fine. (FdW)
––– Address: https://scumyrearth.bandcamp.com/
MICHAEL THIEKE & LUIGI MARINO - NATIVE LANGUAGES OF NOWHERE (cassette by Emergent Idioms)
Of the two men, I only heard clarinettist Michael Thieke before, mainly with some excellent works of improvised music. While not always being the biggest genre lover, I enjoy his work because there is also always a sine wave-like quality to his work. Maybe that is implied in the nature of the instrument, or perhaps it is an interest of Thieke? Since 2016 he has a duo with Luigi Marino, who plays bowed custom cymbals, Zarb ("an Iranian goblet drum") and electronics. There is no information here to inform us if this is concert or studio recording, nor if this is multi-track/live/edit material. Somehow, I think the three pieces are pretty straightforward recordings of improvised pieces. 'Filament', the piece that fills up side A, start with some loud sustaining sounds produced by both players. It is not something they continue, as the dynamics cover vast ground. As quickly as this duo reaches for something loud, they know how to pull back and be quiet and intense. Intensity is an operative word anyway, especially when working with sustaining sound. It is not exclusively about that, though. Towards the end of 'Filament', there is some drumming, I assume on the Zarb, and here the music is more towards traditionally inspired improvisation. It is also where the music loses some of its focus for me. However, that only happens in a minimal amount of places in the three pieces and throughout its buzzing and sawing of sounds. The final piece is the short 'Breaking Song', a curious little ditty of Thieke's more melodic playing and Marino's bending of the cymbals. I enjoyed this piece, offering a third possibility of what they can do and something that I can imagine they could explore more. Overall, a great release. (FdW)
––– Address: https://emergentidioms.bandcamp.com/
CHARMAINE LEE/FRED LONBERG-HOLM/GABBY FLUKE-MOGUL/JOANNA MATTREY/WESTON OLENCKI - LIVE IN ACCORD (cassette by Notice Records)
KYLE MOTL/PATRICK SHIROISHI - APPARITIONS (cassette by Notice Records)
ADRIANNE MUNDEN-DIXON/LEO CHANG - SOME TIME (cassette by Notice Records)
Three releases on cassette (and digital) by Notice Recordings last week. First up is Kyle Motl and Patrick Shiroishi. Taken from the same recording session with T.J. Borden on cello (released on Confront recordings two years ago), Motl and Shiroishi play as a duo on double bass and saxophones (different types), respectively. Both musicians are well versed in the language of free improvisation, in ensembles as well as solo. The pairing of these two musicians works very well. Side A starts with the aptly named Apparitions. Pianissimo long notes in sax and almost silent jagging notes in the double bass. A brooding and suspenseful atmosphere is created with a lot of tension, foreboding of what's to come. It reminds me of soundtracks made by John Lurie in the eighties. Riffs (or note figures) are sometimes repeated or expanded upon in sax and double bass. Long-held wails in the sax are accompanied by percussive bowing, followed by humming through the mouthpiece and sax. Mouthpiece off the sax and alternately used for making sound and put back on. Or two saxes simultaneously. Overall there's a sense of space and room. No pyrotechnics for pyrotechnics sake. And a lot to enjoy. Close listening is required as a lot is happening.
The amplified Piri is a Korean double reed instrument played and mangled by Leo Chang through electronics. Adrianne Mnuden Dixon processed the violin through electronics. The sound world they concoct using these instruments is out of this world. The Piri is just used as a sound source and heavily mangled using electronics. The Piri mimics other instruments (soprano sax, trumpet, clarinet and even a donkey-like sound in track two). It took several listening rounds to grasp what's offered here. There are a few parts on here that resemble a melody in the traditional sense of the word. The last track is a live track and the longest one, clocking in at almost 12 minutes. Again there is much to be enjoyed here. This is not background music for a lounge party in the garden. The music and textures demand attention, and the interplay between the musicians is excellent. This is world music created with traditional instruments in unconventional music with phenomenal results. Let your imagination wander through these worlds. It's quite the trip.
Last but not least, there is 'Live In Accord'. A recording of a concert organised by Notice Records on June 6 2020. The players are Charmaine Lee, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Gabby Fluke-Mogul, Joanna Mattrey and Weston Olencki. Charmaine Lee kicks off with her unique style of using her voice as a sound source and mangling and mingling it with electronics. Pardon the expression, but this is heavy shit, especially two-thirds into the track. Why? Distortion on her voice sounds like an industrial hurricane or some alien battlefield. She is joined by Olencki, who adds various synths into the mix. Not your typical Sunday afternoon music. Again distorted voices and snippets of mangled sounds melt into a kinetic, frenetic dystopian soundscape that will lure you in. The piece has its quieter moments with an almost angelic voice. Three string players conjure up a string trio (cello, violin and viola, played by Fred Lonberg-Holm, Gabby Fluke-Mogul and Joanna Mattrey). They are joined by three dancers (Sienna Blaw, Emily Kessler & Chelsea Enjer Hecht), whose feet can be heard rustling through the leaves on the ground. All three musicians are accomplished players on their respective instruments. This is their first meeting together. Gabby and Joanna had already played together. As you might guess, this isn't your ordinary string trio. Scratchy bow sounds, pizzicato on the cello's lowest string posing as a mini double bass. At one point, electronics are used to alter the sound of I think the violin. Excellent piece of music. The last track is a duo by Lonberg-Holm and Olencki, cello and trombone. Here too, the musicians meet for the first time. Plus, the dancers add their shuffling feet in the mix. Humming through the trombone while playing notes. Again the interplay is excellent as both musicians are seasoned players. This is intimate music with lots of detail. The fascinating ending of a great concert. (MDS)
––– Address: https://noticerecordings.bandcamp.com/
SIMON WHETHAM - PITCHBACK (cassette, private)
You'd think that having releases on many labels that Simon Whetham doesn't need to self-release something, but here is something out of his kitchen. This cassette is limited to twenty copies and developed in two places in France, from May to September 2020. The only other thing mentioned is "a 'double deck' project". I have no idea what that means. If you are using one of those modern USB powered Walkmans for your cassette consumption, a double-deck is a big machine with room for two cassettes, one to play and the other to record what is played. The drawing on the cover might indicate that cassettes are used in this project, and I would not be surprised if Whetham opened up a double deck and fiddled with the inside while playing and copying a cassette. Of course, one tape streams field recordings (which, in some places, made me think of an actual kitchen) and lo-fi electronics, which get a sort of twisted treatment going back and forth between two cassettes. As always, I might be wrong. I doubt (and this is another assumption) that the two pieces on this cassette result from a straightforward live recording but put together, through multi-tracking, of various sessions of this doing this. The result is a collage in the best Whetham tradition, which stands in the long tradition of musique concrète. It also connects to the world of lo-fi sound producers via some drones and crackles, but Whetham's music isn't all closed off. It rattles, cracks, bursts and seems highly unstable, mainly the proceedings of 'Pitchback 2'. Lovely delicate process music that I found most enjoyable. (FdW)
––– Address: https://simonwhetham.bandcamp.com/