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!
GARY MUNDY & ERALDO BERNOCCHI - BROKEN MASSES (CD by Fourth Dimension Records) *
ANNEA LOCKWOOD / MAZE - BAYOU-BORNE (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
TONY OXLEY – UNRELEASED 1974-2016 (CD by Discus Music) *
ZOLDER ELLIPSIS – ENTROPY OVERRIDE (CD by Lizard Records) *
DÉFICIT DES ANNÉES ANTÉRIEURES - OBJET: WHEN A CAP IS RAISING (CD by Klanggalerie) *
GEINS'T NAÏT - L'OR'N CÄT (CD by Klanggalerie) *
THE LO YO YO (CD by Klaggalerie) *
ELISABETH HARNIK & DIDI KERN - STEAMOLOGY (CD by Klanggalerie) *
TAPAGE - RECURSIVE BEHAVIOURS (LP by Ant-Zen)
NAD SPIRO - L'IMPORTANT - A SOUNDTRACK IN SEARCH OF A FILM (CDR by Crystal Mine) *
BORA SCURA REIMAGINED (CDR by Pharmafabrik Recordings)
STAUBITZ & WATERHOUSE - COMON METALS (CDR by Music Is The Worst) *
TIM OLIVE - EYE HILL, ARM RIVER (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulations) *
TIM OLIVE - OKAY GRAND DEPENDABLE (cassette by Verz Imprint) *
KREYSING & PETROLIO & RISTVESKI - SOLEIL NOIR (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
WĀRHEĀD - RITES DE PĀSSĀGE (cassette by Attenuation Circuit) *
MARTIJN HOHMANN - THE HOLSTEIN TAPES VOL.1 (cassette by Unifab Tapes) *
ORCA, ATTACK - YOU WON'T REMEMBER THIS (cassette by Superpolar Taips) *
GARY MUNDY & ERALDO BERNOCCHI - BROKEN MASSES (CD by Fourth Dimension Records)
While this is the first time these two gentlemen work together, they have known each other from way back. Gary Mundy once ran Broken Flag, one of the better-known cassette and record labels for noise and power electronics. Bernochhi was once a member of Sigillum S. They released a cassette on that label, which I didn't hear back but recently found in the vaults of the net. I must admit I wasn't the biggest fan of Sigillum S back in the back and never kept up with their work after the mid-90s. Broken Flag, however, I always found one of the more interesting labels. From Gary Mundy I kept hearing new music, either with Ramleh (in either their rock or noise mode) or as Kleistwahr, his solo noise music outing. From Bernocchi, I shamefully admit, I have not heard much music. The five pieces are the first time they worked together, and according to the cover, they worked on the music in a studio in London rather than some long-distance file exchange, the more common method these days. Bernocchi and guitar and electronics and Mundy on guitar and organ. The two guitars play certainly the leading role, very upfront in the first four pieces. They feed it through reverb pedals, giving it that distinct howling roar, the sound of agony and pain. But this is no longer the 80s, and technology improved heavily over the years, so the noise they play can't be compared to the old ones. There is much more definition here, even quieter moments, which still have that fine voice of agony breathing through this. With these four pieces, I was thinking of blues music, albeit a very different kind of blues music than you may remember when hearing the term 'blues'. This music goes straight into the hearth, the epicentre of all things misery, agony and pain. "Part 5' sees the two men working with electronics, organ and electronics, I should think, and it shows an entirely different side of their music. This music we could easily call ambient, drifting and meandering about. Maybe an afterthought, perhaps a tranquillizer? It's hard to say but it adds to the overall sadness of the music. I found this all excellent music, perfect for a chilling afternoon. (FdW)
––– Address: https://fourthdimensionrecords.bigcartel.com/
ANNEA LOCKWOOD / MAZE - BAYOU-BORNE (CD by Moving Furniture Records)
Ah, that rocking chair, that does it… Bearing in mind the logo of the famous label Moving Furniture, it seems pleasant to sit on such a moving piece of furniture, with a new release from the Contemporary Series in the CD player. At least, that's what you think when you prepare to listen to 'Bayou-Borne', a tribute to Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016) — the composer/accordionist who played such an important role in the development of post-war experimental and electronic music. The album consists of two pieces, Bayou-Borne of about twenty minutes and Jitterbug of more than half an hour. Pauline Oliveros was born close to the bayous running through her hometown Houston, Texas, and Annea Lockwood wanted to reflect that in the first composition. It flows and meanders indeed richly, although it is a bit startling in the beginning when it seems as if Wiek Hijmans is just tuning his guitar. But together with the other musicians of the Amsterdam collective Maze (Anne La Berge: flutes, electronics, Dario Calderone: double bass, Gareth Davis: bass clarinet, Yannis Kyariakides: electronics, and Reinier Vanhoudt: piano, electronics) everything quickly flows into a beautiful stream. Jitterbug is a bit more fragmentary, inspired by insects and pieces of rock from Glacier Park, Montana, and was once commissioned by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. An exciting and very varied piece! Both compositions are a pleasure for the ears and the mind. Let that good old rocking chair go back and forth. (AvS)
––– Address: http://contemporaryseries.bandcamp.com/album/bayou-borne-jitterbug
TONY OXLEY – UNRELEASED 1974-2016 (CD by Discus Music)
Here we have a new release by Discus Music in their series dedicated to the work of Tony Oxley. An album with so far unreleased material, taken from the personal archive of Oxley, mastered and supervised by Oxley himself. My overview of the enormous output of Oxley is far too limited to determine whether this release is a surprising addition. Listening to the recordings included here, the music sure is more than worthwhile, which counts. The album presents five improvisations, four dating from 1974 and performed in two different quintet lineups. The first three improvisations received their final shape in the 2000s and are performed by Tony Oxley (drums, percussion, electronics, sounds), Barry Guy (double bass), Dave Holdsworth (trumpet), Howard Riley (piano) and Paul Rutherford (trombone). No idea if this was a stable quintet for a while or just a short living combination. The recordings make sure we witness a very tight and inspired playing quintet. The opening track, ‘The Embrace,’ starts as an intriguing electro-acoustical work. In the second half, the role of electronics is strongly diminished in favour of pure acoustical interplay. Very remarkable how fresh and engaging this work sounds. This is also the case for what follows. ‘Ensemble 2’, for example, has a nice section of trumpet solo and electro-acoustical percussive movements. The fourth improvisation ‘Frame', was also recorded in 1974 and is played as heard. Participators are Tony Oxley (drums, percussion, electronics), Hugh Metcalf (guitar), Howard Riley (piano), Larry Stebbins (saxophones) and Phil Wachsmann (violin). An improvisation that is more string-based and opens with great violin movements, with a lot happening on a micro-level. Again what an energy is transmitted here! Amazing and fascinating. The final piece, ‘Combination’ was recorded in 2016 with Oxley just doing electronics and leaving the percussion to Stefan Hoelker. Of a more radical and abstract nature, they are missing the liveliness of the interaction in the quintet line ups. Stefan Hoelker is a German drummer who worked first with Oxley in the 90s as a Oxley’s Celebration Orchestra member. In 2020 a duo album came out (‘Beaming’) with recordings from 2019 from Oxley’s home studio in Viersen, Germany. The album is a good example of how Oxley integrated electronics in free, acoustic improvisation, creating a world that often comes close to the atmospheres of modern composed music. The album learns that the combination of drums, percussion and electronics was a lifelong fascination for Oxley and makes me eager to know what more diamonds are kept in the archives of Oxley. (DM)
––– Address: https://discusmusic.bandcamp.com/
ZOLDER ELLIPSIS – ENTROPY OVERRIDE (CD by Lizard Records)
“Entropy Override began as an attempt to reverse-engineer Frank Zappa’s last, monumental Synclavier opus ‘Civilization: Phaze III’, and spilled out to encompass excursions into ancient Greek and Roman music, free jazz/improv, post-metal, and experimental electronics.” Or so the press release understates. It also says that this release is themed around “different types of automation – symbolised by robots (artificial mechanisation) on the one hand, and zombies (reflexive obsession) on the other – and the idea that such closed behavioural cycles could somehow be broken, either from without or within.”
Well, after that introduction, what can I say about this new elixir before I steal the towels? Firstly, hat’s off to anyone tackling Zappa’s music in any way, and secondly, I wouldn’t have minded a bit more info on how this music was made. I did prepare myself for it by listening (for the umpteenth time) to ‘Civilization Phaze III’ and doing an online search for some analyses of it. I spent a while here https://www.zappa-analysis.com/civilization-phaze-iii.htm (where I also downloaded some dinky little MIDI files for future abusagement) before I buckled in for ‘Entropy Override’.
At first I got stuck trying to work out how this music was related to ‘Civilization Phaze III’, and the use of the word ‘automation’ in the press release may have sent me off on a tangent. I tried too hard to find the connections, which interfered with how I heard the music. By chance I discovered that leaving it to play and not engaging with it eliminated this yearning for correlations and I began hearing to it as Zappa-influenced music. No getting around that: there are many very recognisable FZ flourishes, Sean Moran’s guitar often sounds like FZ’s, bass player Chad Langford and drummer Théo Lanau keep everyone in Wackermaniacal lockstep, even in the seemingly disarrayed outbursts, and Ivo Bol’s electronic tweaks, twerks, beeps and burps sometimes seem to invoke Don Preston. Though under the baton of Tom Aldrich, each member of this damn fine formation was indispensable to this “group composition that transcends the bounds of any one person’s pencil and paper.”
I had never heard of Zolder Ellipsis, so I looked it up: Leader of the group, Tom Aldrich is an American composer and keyboardist. He was a co-founder, accordionist and composer in the experimental jazz formation Four Bags. He moved from New York to study composition at the Conservatorium in The Hague. On this release, he and his collaborators perform music with a fixed structure that allows plenty of room for them to flaunt their own – in this case quite remarkable – talents. A lot like FZ used to work, in other words.
Track 1, ‘Craig Gets Remastered’ is a blistering tour de force, a showcase of dexterity, with a lush bass solo, solidly groovy keyboards and ‘Good God, give the drummer some’. The next track, ‘Zap Gun’, with its electronic quirks and intense flash guitar, is followed by the brief (notated?) ‘Q + A’, with its unmistakeable FZ phrasing, chord sequences and extended riffs accompanied by very tight drumming that all-in-all conjured up ‘The Black Page’ (alas, too short!). Possibly my favourite track, ‘Imperial Enlightenment’, ramps up the intensity: stunning guitar and drums, occasional eruptions of dance music for injured persons, back to angular guitar after an interesting conversation between the bass player and Ivo Bol’s noise palette (the subtlety of Ivo Bol’s contributions are one of the many layers of this onion that reveal themselves with repeated listenings), piano strides back into pure ‘Shut Up…’ territory – this is where magic in music happens! – and then Nanacorrowian piano cascades before we’re reminded of the theme and the tune slowly unravels around a stand-up bass. I’m probably wrong, but I have a feeling Track 5, ‘Magnetic Objects’, may have been (partially) guided by algorithms. It’s the most plastic sounding so far and sonically comes closest to ‘Civilization Phaze III’. The improvisations in ‘Android Coronation Ball’ took me back to the extended sections in FZ’s live shows where he’d start from scratch by giving band members a bunch of unnecessarily complicated time signatures and a ‘feel’ and then see where it went. Another mumble-word segue and then we’re playing ‘The Antidote Game’, at just over 11 minutes the longest track on the album that starts soothingly enough before erupting into a guitar-and-drum led section that dissolves once again into improvisation. This and the last track, the mellow, burbling ‘In The Hole’ are my least favourite (but I think the latter will grow on me like a dental floss bush).
As an FZ collector, I had to unshackle myself from my preconceptions; it took a while, and some inattention, for this music to seep in, but this is music that rewards repeated listenings, no doubt about it. And one second-last thing: when I dropped the music into iTunes, it decided it categorised it under ‘Unknown Genre’ – I couldn’t think of a better compliment myself.
Final word: outtakes from the ‘Entropy Override’ sessions are available on bandcamp: https://tomaldrich.bandcamp.com/album/elisions (MP)
DÉFICIT DES ANNÉES ANTÉRIEURES - OBJET: WHEN A CAP IS RAISING (CD by Klanggalerie)
GEINS'T NAÏT - L'OR'N CÄT (CD by Klanggalerie)
THE LO YO YO (CD by Klaggalerie)
From the recent batch of promos by Austria's Klanggalerie, I take it upon myself to review a trio of re-issues. I start with the band I once knew very well, Déficit Des Années Antérieures, or DDAA. This is accounting language for 'previous years deficit' and the name of a French trio of Jean-Luc André, Jean-Philippe Fée and Sylvie Martineau. When my interest in the world of cassettes became very serious, this was a name you saw everywhere. They had releases (both cassettes and vinyl) on their Illusion Production label, with some of the most outlandish packaging. They had contributed to many compilation cassettes and records around the world. Their music was distinctly different from many others on such compilations, so easily recognizable. In their early days, one could say that their music was a mixture of improvisation, instruments mixed with objects (or even played with objects) and had an outsider character. By the time they released 'When A Cap Is Raising', a 10" for Big Noise In Archgate, in 1988, their outsider character was replaced by a more controlled playing; I guess that no matter how outsider you are, there comes a time when you are more proficient using instruments, but also knowing one's way around the possibilities of the stuff. That is indeed happening on the pieces on this CD, expanding the original nine songs with seven more pieces, taken from the LP 'Objet', a collection of pieces from compilation cassettes. I think that ties both of these together and makes the perfect duo on one CD. It is, however, not complete (reason unknown) and has two pieces from 2010 and 2010. Altogether this CD spans some thirty-eight years of music-making. It may dispense with their earliest and wackiest period, and there is still much to enjoy here. Very little of what they do deals with conventional composition or standard techniques to play a guitar and drums (two of the ones they use a lot). None of this rock-like or even makes any sense, yet there is some great beauty here. From total freedom on one side and to attempt at a proper song on the other, in some cases, they even succeed. I must admit that I haven't heard a lot of DDAA in, say, the last fifteen or so years, but this CD is a trip right down memory lane to my old room and my precious cassette collection.
Only recently (Vital Weekly 1323), I wrote that I had never heard Geins't Naït back in the day. I knew the name, never correctly listened to the music. So my introduction was the re-issue of their debut release, and now it's time for the follow-up album. Again, this is not an album that tells us much about their instruments, but I would think the same as before is in play here. So that means lots of guitars, rhythm machines, a bit of synthesizer, and also samples. The latter picking up voices mainly splattered about in the music, adding to the industrial atmosphere of the music. The mood is quite heavy and dark throughout, more so than so it seems on their debut album. Rhythms mechanically hammer away, along with grinding guitars. Interestingly some of the beats remind me of hip hop music but are played with the same ferocity as metal music. Geins't Naït is a band with many faces and many influences, which shows in the music. You could think that with all the variation and influences going on, the album would be too diverse, but that's not the case. Instead, it is all very much together, maybe even more so than on their debut album. It is pretty grim music, but please note the word 'pretty'. This sort of heaviness is well spend on me.
This time the significant unknown re-issue quantity is The Lo Yo Yo. This group consisted of Alig Pearce (bass, guitar, percussion, keyboards, vocals), Annie Hunt (cello, glockenspiel), Corrie Brooks (drums, percussion), Joey Stock (vocals, keyboards, bass) and Mick Hobbs (guitars, percussion). They play on the part of the CD that is a re-issue of 'Extra Weapons', the 1985 LP. Pearce, Hobbs, Brooks and Stock play on the eight pieces that make up 'Double Dog Dare, Summer '84, a split cassette from 1984 with Look De Bouk. I only recognized the name of Mick Hobbs from his work with The Work mainly. Pearce, who was also in Family Fodder, started the band, and they existed for about two years. I totally missed this band in the '80s, but in my defence, in the mid-80s, I was deep in the world of cassettes and noise music. And maybe I wasn't too much into the world of Recommended Records. Even when this is music that is perhaps not often reviewed in these pages, it certainly belongs to the cultural heritage of what Vital Weekly builds on. The exciting times of post-punk music, in which anything goes. There are rock, improvisation, reggae, weirdness, punky songs, and it is all groovy as hell. Some of this is funny, but this is the corner of Recommended Records, so a political message is never far away. Perhaps now that I am older, having heard so much more music, I appreciate more things than when I was twenty. I don't know how this would have come down all those years ago, but in the middle of so much abstract music all day, The Lo Yo Yo sounds exciting, new and fresh, and they put a big smile on my face. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.klanggalerie.com/
ELISABETH HARNIK & DIDI KERN - STEAMOLOGY (CD by Klanggalerie)
This recording is a registration of a duo performance by Elisabeth Harnik on piano and Didi Kern on drums and percussion. Three pieces: one extended improvisation lasting almost half an hour and two shorter ones. In the last minute of part II and for the whole of part III, the duo is joined by Jaap Blonk. All three have made their mark in the global improvisation world. Harnik and Kern are mainstays in the Viennese (impro) music scene. Kern is also active in rock and electronic music. Jaap Blonk is a voice artist who also uses electronics.
The first five minutes sound like a steam engine trying to get its groove back. And when it does, block chords go up in accelerando until the engine stops. No steam is available, and there's a meditative tension (a contradiction in terminus, of course, but the relative stillness of the piano in full atonal mode is interjected with percussive tings and tangs, spellbinding rushes, shakes with a tambourine and sticks rubbed against the cymbal to create high-pitched tones. This interlude is mesmerizing and a stark contrast with the preceding six minutes. Harnik also attacks the bare strings inside the grand piano throughout the piece for added effect. Both musicians are conscious of what each is doing. At around the twelve-minute mark, the engine gets steamed up again with the help of a steady (well, almost steady) beat by Kern. At the end of the piece, it sounds like Harnik is bowing the strings inside the piano. Part II starts with a long drum roll. The piano adds agitated figures. A start-stop play begins. This agitation is kept throughout the piece. Jaap Blonk adds some more agitation to his voice.
Part III starts with Blonk talking to himself and making various noises. Harnik joins with a disjointed bassline and adds vamped chords in the right hand. Blonk adds electronic blips, perhaps using his voice as the source. Later on, the three of them let the music and noise become quiet.
This performance (all 47 minutes) is a great way to get familiar with three musicians who have mastered their instruments and have a good time making music. The music is not totally out there (at least not to these ears) and has a really nice flow. Mind you, this isn't lounge music either. (MDS)
––– Address: https://www.klanggalerie.com/
TAPAGE - RECURSIVE BEHAVIOURS (LP by Ant-Zen)
When I first encountered the music of Tijs - Tapage - Ham, I still organized the Noise Central Festival. Therewith we strived to present a horn of plenty so to speak, of the multi-faceted world of noise and experimental electronics, from drone and darker ambient to power electronics, harsh noise wall to danceable materials or performance art. And if I recall correctly, Tapage played at the sold-out night we had while on tour with the festival at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands. His set was a delicate balance between visceral impact, clean and clear melodic lines and layers of noisy intensity skilfully mixed into an idiosyncratic signature sound.
Tapage was then published on Tympanik Audio, and in the years since, Ad Noiseam has released his works, Moving Furniture Records, LoMechanik and Point Source Electronic Arts. As varied as this line-up of labels is, Tapage's sound has changed over the years since, say 2008. From breakcore-ish IDM with ambient streaks towards electronic sound design and collaboration with, for example, bass-clarinet player Gareth Davis, Tapage has developed into a force to be reckoned with in terms of very high production standards and ever-changing tonalities. Still, however, and this is meant as a compliment, his work - to my ears at least - keeps fitting in nicely in the company of productional maestros like Flint Glass, Esa or Xabec.
And now Tapage is back, on Ant-Zen no less. The mothership of Industrial Music, Chilling Ambient, Technoid Rhythms & Power Electronics. Home to Ars Moriendi, Synapscape, Hypnoskull and many, many others since the mid 90s. A label, too, which likes to keep the radar open across a vast field. And in this range of vision or scope of hearing, 'recursive behaviours' is one of the bigger surprises in more recent times. Not so much because of the particularly relative slow-moving pace of the work, beatless as it is, but because of the lead role a bowed cello takes - yes, we had fire as the main protagonist on Aube's 'Embers', but acoustic instrumentation is not that common on Ant-Zen.
Tapage investigates a mutual space for humans and machines on his most recent LP - a locus for exchange, mingling and clashing maybe. In a place where sonic materials meet, chaos can interfere with stability, identities and entities in the aural realm 'learn' to deal with fragility in terms of predictable versus unpredictable outcomes. And we - the listeners - are put into the driver's seat position where we are asked not to grab the steering wheel but to let go instead: to relinquish control and trust to the course, to the road ahead - to have faith in future developments.
Tapage's sonic language is full of brittle detail and productional hyper-focus, his is a focus on syntax or grammar of sound, a dictionary of timbre and texture, a rhythm dictionary and an encyclopaedia of interlocking precursors, recursions, deviations and lost plots. This is the spinal cord of music itself laid bare; a look at the clockwork mechanics or internal wiring of this interplay between sorrowful acoustic drawn-out tones and synthesized responses (or were they first to the scene, the earliest 'responders' - what went on before, are we part of and partial to the aftermath or fall out of a cataclysmic big bang?).
Life into art, then: machine into human or vice versa and back again, now and then and at the same time, too. The depth or tone in this dialogue of man and machine touches on a singularity of composition wholly unique and blissfully astonishing when considering the manifold twists and turns and layers for the excitable ear to investigate and dwell. And it is there 'recursive behaviour' that hits a note of almost romantic human nature infused with deep knowledge of machine-being, a mercury sea of deceptive tranquillity and unfathomable deep. (SSK)
––– Address: http://www.ant-zen.com/
NAD SPIRO - L'IMPORTANT - A SOUNDTRACK IN SEARCH OF A FILM (CDR by Crystal Mine)
The idea to present music as an imginairy soundtrack isn't new. I would think, perhaps as a bold statement, that all music can be music for a film, certainly if it is more abstract. And abstract music is the game of Barcelona's Nad Spiro. Also known as Rosa Arruti, she is active since many years and has fine catalogue of releases. Unlike other 'soundtracks without images', this one comes with a short story by Zane Speer about a missing spaceship, which is printed on the cover, which one can fold out like a film poster, and comes with a lovely design. That sort of details complete the project for me, and the extra context makes the missing ina ction of moving images not too bad. As someone who loves abstract music, I'd say, I don't mind abstract music. The soundtrack is six pieces long, folowing by a further five pieces, which are called 'Lost Songs'. It might be no surprise that with a story about a missing comsonaut, the music sounds all spacious in the best 'Forbidden Planet' tradition. If you have no idea what that means: look it up and a world may open for you. The rusty synth tones depict a spaceship in trouble. There are faulty electricity lines sparking and buzzing around, and the sense of loneliness and paranoia is made audible. In the five pieces by 'cosmonaut Nadia Spier', she effectively continues those spacious early electronic explorations, but now enriched with a bit more rhythm and sequences. It is still music that easily fits in the whole glitch, crackle and hum work, where analogue synthesizers meet software plug-in and weird samples, and perhaps the only difference is that these pieces have more layers of sounds, whereas the soundtrack is kept to a bit more minimalist side of things. I found all of this most enjoyable and Nad Spiro delivers another strong work. (FdW)
––– Address: https://nadspiro.bandcamp.com/
BORA SCURA REIMAGINED (CDR by Pharmafabrik Recordings)
From the very short period I studied geography, I remember very little. A lot about rocks, clouds and counting shops in the high street. So, I had no idea that 'the bora is a cold, typically very dry and often gusty katabatic wind from the North-East area near the Adriatic Sea'. The press text tries to connect extreme weather conditions to the pandemic, but weather conditions getting extremer takes place for a longer time and is less likely to be stopped (if only one could in the same way as the pandemic). If I understood correctly, there is an album with recordings from the bora by Slovenian based composer Simon Serc on the same label. I quickly checked this out before going to the 'reimagined' CDR release, where these recordings are used as the primary material. Maybe it's the (extreme?) weather conditions of having snow on April 1st (today) here in The Netherlands, plus 18 last week, that my little afternoon stroll was kept to a minimum. Plus, returning to a warm house and some harsh wind recordings is a bit of a brain twist. Serc recordings are quite 'heavy'. It will blow your socks off; maybe not the best metaphor for a storm that creates much damage. I think the ten pieces from the original get treatment, and we hear them in chronological order. I have no idea what the brief was here, but various of these composers take the extreme edges of the source material and go a bit further (Vomir, KK Null), and some tone it down; as if they want to 'control' the material, but taking away the edges and making it a bit more ambient (Paul Schutze, Max Corbacho). I have no preference for one or the other, as I enjoy all of these quite a bit and love the variation. There are some new names here, Sunao Inami, Serc himself, Neo Cymex, Max Corbacho, some known quantities (Vomir, KK Null, Daniel Menche, Mark Spybey, Alexi Borisov) and a surprise appearance by Paul Schütze, of whom I don't hear much new music in recent times. There are not big surprises here, but the overall quality is very high. (FdW)
––– Address: https://pharmafabrik.bandcamp.com/
STAUBITZ & WATERHOUSE - COMON METALS (CDR by Music Is The Worst)
Ross Waterhouse is one of this duo, and I heard only a few of his works, but that was quite some time ago. Behind Mary Staubitz, we find Donna Parker; perhaps it is the other way round. Since May 2019, they have been working together, and their instruments are found objects, synthesizers and field recordings. 'Common Metals' is their first full album. They had various small releases, contributions to compilations and split releases before this one. The album they recorded during 'the deep pandemic', early 2021, and the topics are "exploitative labour practices, the machinations of late Capitalism, the unyielding nature of nature, and the need for self-medication." I must say, it is good that this is mentioned as I wouldn't have known otherwise. Maybe I am not used to finding political context within the abstract use of music; perhaps I don't see the need for these? According to a quote in the information: "what value does art have when the world is burning?" If the listener perceives their own experience in these recordings, the answer is - a connection". I think art has no value, even when the world is not burning (and when doesn't it burn?). I take the music more at face value, for what it is. Their field recordings aren't obscured, transformed or from a distant place. I would think they tape their material close to home, in the kitchen and the backyard. Maybe they fiddle with the EQ-ing, emphasizing frequencies, and they layer these recordings. In 'Runoff', there is the sound of something burning (or hands playing metallic objects?) close to the microphone, and there are more distant sounds; cars passing and such. The synthesizer is perhaps the instrument I didn't hear in these recordings that much. If it is there, I assume it is used to add a specific colour or texture, especially in the last and longest piece, 'Disintegration' [sic]. The music of Staubitz and Waterhouse has quite the organic feeling, almost like the music is lifted straight from an action taking place; we don't know what the action is, but it sounds good. The music here is another example of lo-fi drone music, but this time from people who are more interested in field recordings than small synthesizers, changing the scenery a bit more. (FdW)
––– Address: https://staubitzandwaterhouse.bandcamp.com/
TIM OLIVE - EYE HILL, ARM RIVER (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulations)
TIM OLIVE - OKAY GRAND DEPENDABLE (cassette by Verz Imprint)
By sheer coincidence, I received two solo releases by Tim Olive. There was a time when a solo release from him was rare, but ever since annual touring is no longer a going concern, Olive creates works at home in Kobe, Japan. First is 'Eye Hill, Arm River', a CDR for Matthew Atkins Minimal Resource Manipulations. On the surface, it seems business as usual when one reads what Olive uses here, "Tuning forks, metal resonator, blank cassette tape, tape loops, magnetic pickups, octave divider, spring reverb, preamps". That is his standard set-up, either solo or in collaboration with others. However, the result is something quite unusual for Olive. In much of his work, improvised music, scratching, a bit of feedback, collage-like. Nonesuch is the case here. The four pieces are very much along the lines of ambient music. Working with sustaining sounds, which arrive in a somewhat looped form, this doesn't sound anything like improvised music. I had these four pieces on repeat yesterday afternoon, on a very moderate volume, while engaging myself in some tedious accounting job now the new quarter starts, and Olive's music had that effect that great ambient music should have on the listener; "Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular, it must be as ignorable as it is interesting" and that's precisely what Olive does. I enjoyed his previous work a lot, but this is his best yet. However, I love ambient music quite a bit, and if this review spurs you to seek out his music, this might not be the right place to start. I am sure many Olive fans will be surprised by this release, but I hope as pleasantly as I am.
The mastering of the previous Olive release is by Phil Maguire, the man behind Verz Imprint, who also released an Olive release. Oddly enough, mastering this time is by Anne-F Jaques, one Olive's regular music partners. Diehard fans of Olive will say, 'now this is more like it', but on 'Okay Grand Dependable', Olive does something out of the ordinary. The magnetic pick-up thing is still present, but now he works with radio sounds. I am not entirely sure, but I don't think Olive has used radio a lot so far. I don't know what kind of radio Olive uses, and I don't mean what kind of brand, but if this radio is a small handheld device or if he uses one of those websites where you can tune in on short and long waves. The website from the University of Twente is the best-known one and is recommended for anyone looking for quick sound sources. Listening to Olive's music, I think he uses one of these websites, judging by how things sound. There is no ambience, no sustaining sounds, but loud, improvised sounds with scrambled radio recordings. Messages from other places and different times; echoes of the past and no longer to be understood. Almost erased. Think The Conet Project and their number stations releases, but now made into music. Olive's work has fine brutality to it without being too noisy. Olive doesn't go for the cheap effects of plain noise, or too much repetition, but in these pieces, he has much variety, and on various occasions, he cuts the sound away and just starts something different within one piece. His magnetic pick up is recognizable here and works wonders as well. Great tape! (FdW)
––– Address: https://mrmrecordings.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://verzimprint.bandcamp.com/
KREYSING & PETROLIO & RISTVESKI - SOLEIL NOIR (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
WĀRHEĀD - RITES DE PĀSSĀGE (cassette by Attenuation Circuit)
I didn't know before, but now I do, that literary influences are important for Boban Ristevski, the electro-acoustic composer (words from the label). For his collaboration with Anja Kreysing (accordion, electronics) and Petrolio (synth, noises, machines), the title comes from a book by Julia Kristeva, "Bulgarian born French psychoanalyst". The book's subtitle is possibly very illuminating, and I don't need to translate it; "dépression et mélancolie". I heard from Kreysing before, also in collaborative spirit (Vital Weekly 1137), but not of Petrolio (not to be confused with the trio of the same name from Vital Weekly 743). I understand that the machines of Petrolio are computers. Still, he prefers them to be machines because he wants a more or less industrial sound. They want to "invoke the idea of the alienating grind of the machinery of everyday life under capitalism that gives ample reason for depression and melancholy". The cover has no clue how the music was made, but I would think (and actually for no good reason) that Kreysing and Petrolo deliver sound material for further use by Ristevski. In his recent work, he brought some extended ambient sound patterns, droning and humming. Still, he opts for a more traditional musique concrète sound for the five pieces here, with granular synthesis playing an important role. They are not exactly rolling down scales, like heavy glissandi, but indeed there is a mechanical repetition; crushed by the wheels of industry. And yet, the music isn't noise based, so in that respect, it is not easily put in the industrial corner. The music is dark and sad throughout, which fits the title, I guess. While the music holds no surprises, nothing new in many ways, I enjoyed it. It's moody and atmospheric yet also with a hint of light. This is precisely the dark ambience with a noise twist that I like.
Something completely different is the music of Léa Massé, from France but residing in The Netherlands. She works as Wārheād, and according to the information, the lines above the A's "seem to suggest long duration, a stretching of time perhaps". I hope this comes across when publishing the review online. I must say that the music isn't all about long duration. I expected drones but got some rhythm infused tribal-inspired music. There are some chants as well. Think Rapoon, Muslimgauze, Hybryds and more current ethnic-inspired music. You could think that this isn't my cupper, but I did enjoy this quite a bit. One of the things I enjoyed was the acoustic drum aspect of the music. It gives it a bit of rock flavour, even when some of the rhythms are more akin to hip hop. There is quite a bit of variation in these pieces throughout, although all of these are on the atmospheric side of things. There are moody bits, noisy bits, world music, rock rhythms and even pieces without too obvious beats, but just a quick succession of electronic tones. Uplifting in all its darkness! (FdW)
––– Address: https://emerge.bandcamp.com/
MARTIJN HOHMANN - THE HOLSTEIN TAPES VOL.1 (cassette by Unifab Tapes)
Here we have a new label, going by the name Unifab Tapes, which is a sort of combination of Universal Kunst and De Fabriek, more tying knots here. The Holstein mentioned in the title is one Wim van Holstein, a documentary sound man, and teacher at the art academy in Breda when Martijn Hohmann was student. Van Holstein died in 1992 in a thunder storm, one of the heaviest of that decennium. A few years ago, Hohmann received a bunch of old reels from Van Holstein's widow, containing spoken word, sound and music. This is the basis of 'The Holstein Tapes', in which Hohmann uses these tapes, along with tape manipulation, processing and software synthesizers. Both sides have one long piece and in 'Tunis', I would like to think there are sounds of the city of Tunis, but I am not sure. There is some chanting, voices and sounds that have a Mediterrean character, and we have to believe Hohmann that these from Tunis. Side B has a rather poetic title, 'The Synoptic Setting of a Thundery low and Associated Prefrontal Squall Line in Western Europe'. That happens to be the title of an article about that storm that killed Van Holstein. Hohmann already surprised us with 'The Hohmann Transfer' (Vital Weekly 1232), an excellent works into the depths of dark ambient. Here too, field recordings are used, and I assume from sources that deal with weather. As on 'Tunis', they come in a heavily processed form. The resulting big fat dark drones fit right in the world of all those lo-di drone composers that we see a lot of these days. Hohmann's music is quite a bit complexer, I would think, with more layers and perhaps better production; the fact that he had someone mastering this is another sign of taking matters seriously. Intense, atmospheric, and electricifying; these are the keywords that come to mind. (FdW)
––– Address: https://universaalkunst.bandcamp.com/
ORCA, ATTACK! - YOU WON'T REMEMBER THIS (cassette by Superpolar Taips)
The duo of Elizabeth Joan Kelly and David Rodriguez, also known as Orca, Attack!, was reviewed before (Vital Weekly 1282). Back then, it was a full-length album (if you call it that at nineteen minutes), even when it was all most confusing. I don't think it was very representative of their work, certainly when I compare it with this release. Rodriguez plays guitars, bass and lead vocals, while Kelly is responsible for electronics, keyboards, and backing vocals. This new cassette is part (twenty-nine!) of the Superpolar cassette singles, so two pieces only, and they keep it within the range of two and half minutes. 'You Won't Remember This' is a breezy Avant-folk tune with a slightly hoarse voice, starting mellow with acoustic guitars but fully opening up when the drum machines and electronics kick in. Unlike some others in this series, this is a real song, composition-wise, that is. The ending could be sweeter and more extended. 'World Map', on the other side, is a bit more abstract in terms of 'pop' or 'folk', with a significant role for the drum machine, and all the other sounds around appear in a dub form, coming and going. But the melodic aspect of this song isn't forgotten and gives this song a great flavour as well. (FdW)
––– Address: https://superpolar.bandcamp.com/