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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QUARTETSKI – JONH CAGE FOUR6 ONE7 (CD by Ambiances Magnétiques) *
SECRET PEOPLE – SECRET PEOPLE (CD by Out Of Your Head Records)
GABBY FLUKE-MOGUL - LOVE SONGS (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
MARTA WARELIS - A GRAIN OF EARTH (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
SEAMUS VOL. 31 (CD compilation by SEAMUS/distributed by New Focus Recordings)
STEVEN RICKS - ASSEMBLAGE CHAMBER (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
PROPAN - SWAGGER (CD by Sofa Music) *
MARTIN TAXT - SECOND ROOM (CD by Sofa Music) *
ANDREAS HIROUI LARSSON - SEDUCED BY (A) LAST YEAR (CD by Thanatosis Produktion) *
DAVID BENNET & VILHELM BROMANDER - WITHIN REACH OF EVENTUALITY (CD by Thanatosis Produktion) *
FRANÇOIS ROBIN & MATHIAS DELPLANQUE - L'OMBRE DE LA BETE (CD by Paranthèses Records) *
HYDRA ENSEMBLE - VISTAS (CD by New Wave Of Jazz) *
SERRIES & THOMPSON & VERHOEVEN - TODAY AND ALL THE TOMORROWS (CD by New Wave Of Jazz) *
GOVAERTS & VERHOEVEN & SERRIES - TWOFOLD (2CD by New Wave Of Jazz) *
RENNIE & ROBERTS & SERRIES - TRANSLUCENCE (CD by New Wave Of Jazz) *
DIRK SERRIES - SOLO ACOUSTIC GUITAR IMPROVISATIONS II/III (2LP by New Wave Of Jazz)
ALEX CARPENTER - EXCAVATION PATTERNS (LP by De La Catessen Records)
OCCUPIED HEAD - INTEROCEPTION (lathe cut LP by Kinetik Records) *
7697 MILES - ISKAY (LP by BUH Records) *
TBC_CZEPOKS - KORRIDORE (CDR by Wachsender Prozess) *
SEEMANN - SCHLEUSE (CDR by Wachsender Prozess) *
NODOLBY - INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
QUARTETSKI – JONH CAGE FOUR6 ONE7 (CD by Ambiances Magnétiques)
Quartetski was formed in 2007 by Pierre-Yves Martel “as a vehicle to rethink and reinterpret the works of great composers through the lens of creative improvised music”. So far, Martel and his companions realized projects focused on the works by Prokofiev (2007), Stravinsky (2013) and Bartók (2016). Choosing Cage for their new project, the decision for a very different kind of a composer compared to the three predecessors. They chose two compositions belonging to a body of about forty works called ‘Number Pieces’ composed by Cage in his last years. Each work is titled after the number of performers that are involved. ‘One7’ is the seventh work for one performer, ‘Four6’ is the sixth work for four performers, etc. Both are not written for specific instrumentation and are dedicated to composer and accordionist Pauline Oliveros, a.o. I don’t know any other recordings of these works and can’t make any comparison. But the fact that they perform ‘One7’ as a quartet may be one of more decisions that make their approach different from others. Anyway, we have Isaiah Ceccarelli (percussion, synthesizer), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet, synthesizer); Pierre-Yves Martel Electric bass, sine waves) and Bernard Falaise (electric guitar) at work here in an intriguing rendition of both pieces. They play a limited set of patterns interspersed with pauses of different lengths, which evokes the impression of a random-like sequence. Pointillistic, non-intentional dots of sound pass by, but it is evident that something is at work in these works that gives them a fascinating (dis)continuity. The movements are fragile and delicate, always very modest. The performers' sounds, timbres, and colours are well-chosen and make a beautiful spectrum. (DM)
––– Address: https://actuellecd.com/
SECRET PEOPLE – SECRET PEOPLE (CD by Out Of Your Head Records)
Secret People is a Brooklyn-based trio of Nathaniel Morgan (alto saxophone), Dustin Carlson (guitar, Bass VI) and Kate Gentile (drums, vibraphone). Both Gentile and Carlson started Secret People as a duo in 2012. In 2018 Nathaniel Morgan stepped in, and now they present their first recording. A bit on their background. Nathaniel Morgan is an alto saxophonist and composer living in Brooklyn and is involved in many local projects like Yolt, Buckminster/DARKMINSTER, Chopper, etc. Many of them have releases out on Prom Night Records, a label founded by Dustin Carlson in 2012. I remember the name of Carlson from his release on Out Of Your Head Records in 2018 of his band Air Ceremony which included Gentile and Morgan. Kate Gentile probably is the most experienced of these three musicians. She worked with Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Marty Ehrlich, Chris Speed, Anna Webber, etc. Very remarkable is her collaboration with keyboard-player Matt Mitchell and their 6cd recording of expanding one-bar compositions performed with an exclusive ensemble of guitarist Ava Mendoza, violist Matt Maneri among others. The debut release from these three superb performers is very remarkable as Secret People. Recorded in august 2019, they impress with a fascinating release full of tight and inspired (unison) playing. They love contrast as they combine thoroughly composed sections with free abstract improvisation. This gives the music a powerful and unpredictable character. With their thought-over amalgam of jazz, rock, improv, noise and more, they produce excellent and convincing music. Very worthwhile! (DM)
––– Address: https://outofyourheadrecords.bandcamp.com/
GABBY FLUKE-MOGUL - LOVE SONGS (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
This is the second solo violin record by Gabby Fluke-Mogul after last year's Threshold. That release contained six relatively long pieces. This one has 17 love songs, numbered I until IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII. All pieces are relatively short, from nearly a minute long to almost five minutes. And what lovely songs they are. Crunching sounds, screams, whining, glissando on the strings without using the bow. Even their voice is sometimes added to the mix. Starting with a bold declaration, the whole release is a mindbending, dazzling, adventurous approach to the instrument called the violin. Apart from using the violin as a sound source (and their voice), Gabby Fluke-Mogul creates sound worlds that change in the blink of an eye. Two times a love song, "It's a long way to Tipperary", made famous in World War I by British soldiers, is used to be brutally stopped. Fluke-Mogul holds a Deep Listening certificate after doing a course with Pauline Oliveros. You can read more on this in her book Quantum Listening. Deep listening is essential for this release as a lot is happening, unexpected twists and turns along the way. They make me curious of what will come next. So seek this one out; you won't be disappointed. (MDS)
––– Address: https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/
MARTA WARELIS - A GRAIN OF EARTH (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
A string of solo releases on Relative Pitch brings us to the first one ever for Marta Warelis, a mainstay in the Amsterdam or rather Dutch impro-scene. Delicate music emanates from the inside of the (prepared) piano. Hitting off with gentle strikes on a bowl, adding single held piano notes, the first track slowly evolves into agitated fast notes and back to the gentle beginning again. Some tracks offer bowed piano strings from inside the piano, reminding me of the story of Zappa's Civilization Phaze III: people living inside a piano. If you thought that would be very dull and boring (the music by Warelis, I mean), you are quickly forced into a rhythmic and alluring spiel on the strings. Almost electronic in quality. Absolutely mesmerizing. Warelis commands the piano on a very high level, playing with determination and wilfulness. The same electronic quality, or should I say otherworldliness is apparent in "minute creatures". I should be honest here; I'm lost for words. Just get this release and let yourself be immersed in the delicate and daringly sounding and astonishing sounds made by Warelis. It's incredible. I'm sure The record was recorded at Splendor, a beautifully renovated bathhouse in Amsterdam. (MDS)
––– Address: https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/
SEAMUS VOL. 31 (CD compilation by SEAMUS/distributed by New Focus Recordings)
New Focus releases the annual meeting proceedings - so to say - of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (of America). SEAMUS is a non-profit organisation fostering electroacoustic music, having composers, performing artists and teachers as their members. I am not 100% sure how New Focus Recordings comes in here. Still, Dan Lippel, one of the NFR founders, regularly supplies SEAMUS releases through the NFR promotion gateway and writes liner notes for releases.
The annual releases documented the yearly conferences and their performances in past years. This year (possibly due to Covid), the release Vol. 31 (commemorating the year 2022) is more of a compilation of recent USAmerican composers. Having had a growing number of 'new music'/'contemporary classical'/'free music' releases advertised to VITAL in the past year or longer, this release is an absolute classic in demonstrating how 'industrial' music originated from electroacoustics (or at least the same source thinking), before diverging off into noise, ambient, drone etc. Therefore, this release sometimes revokes fond memories of the 1980ies cassette culture, although this will probably not be the intention of the label or the composers.
Here, we find some rare names, such as Jon Fielder, a vagrant between acousmatic, glitch, laptop music and D&B, in the laptop trio CMD+q occasionally performing King Crimson covers. His piece is a clever cut-up vocal delivery 'Think' above a mainly percussive backdrop, conjuring connotations of brain/mental health/god. Maggi Payne's 'Heat Shield' incurs science fiction links by moving from white and pink noise to a computer alarm sound. She has several releases out already and recorded Reich and Schnittke's work, though this piece has little to nothing to do with 'classical' music. Finally, Douglas McCausland is a complete unknown and PhD student. His piece 'Convergence' nevertheless won the 2021 first SEAMUS prize - in contrast to the first two, it is a composed piece including a double bass and electronics. Not that you could tell, as the bass is used to create 'scratching' sounds that sometimes even remind of a trombone or amplified objects. As with Fielder, though, a strong effect is generated by contrasting the foreground action with a continuous 'drone' or synth-like background, adding electronic treatment of the bass sound. Track 6, 'Succubus' by Brian Riordan (again an unknown), takes a similar approach, though using a soprano voice as the sound source in a slightly unnerving piece that contrasts the mostly calm atmosphere of the other tracks.
Jon Christopher Nelson is a music lecturer and has a good list of recordings of his compositions. His track 4, 'sometimes', reverts to language again in a cut-up delivery of Robert Gregory reading his new wave SciFi influenced poem over a field recording-ish/electronic background. Nina C Young, an unknown music professor, follows with a shorter, synth-electronic music piece. Eli Fieldsteel and Kerrith Livengood follow with a quiet piece of sine waves and electronics, 'Sonic Crumbs'. Next, Becky Brown's 'dark parts' invokes a bit of 'Dark Star' (if anyone remembers John Carpenter's first film? a classic SciFi story). And finally, David Q Nguyen creates a chattery pattern of (water?) sounds over an electronic backdrop in 'whale Song'.
The recurring theme with most of these artists: they are academics and have little or no recordings available, at least as far as Discogs is concerned. This is really a pity because this CD contains many hidden gems. Maybe this is a USAmerican development. I have frequently come across great recordings broadcast late at night, for instance, on Radio Klara, with no evidence that there had been any publications apart from obscure file downloads. Therefore, this SEAMUS release is certainly something to pick if you want to get up to speed with current electroacoustics from North America. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/
STEVEN RICKS - ASSEMBLAGE CHAMBER (CD by New Focus Recordings)
Steven Ricks is a USAmerican composer and electronic musician crossing the borders between 'electronics' (read: beats), free improvisation, and contemporary classics. Unfortunately, Discogs (again, I think I have to get to work here ...) renders little to nothing about his recorded work (may even have split him into two persons). Nevertheless, what is delivered here, is accomplished work that manages to integrate musical history across several centuries.
Ricks is drawn to keyboards, and in the four pieces, two three- and two-movement ensemble pieces and two single tracks, he uses the harpsichord as 'his' instrument, contrasting keyboard lines with a string ensemble (in this case, the ensemble counter)induction), or in the single track, guitar and clarinet. The effect is two-fold: in the first piece, 'Heavy with Sonata', we get reminded across three movements that rock music is heavily influenced by baroque music. With its continuous bass lines and the percussive note of the keyboard single-handedly, the basso continuo sets the rhythm section for the other instruments. Ricks uses this masterly, starting with single rhythmic notes whilst moving into a full-blown basso continuo in the third movement. Above this, the strings are allowed to go off, creating at the same time a grounded and free music atmosphere. Just as in many 'prog' and 'experimental' rock pieces, though you should not take the comparison too literally, we are NOT listening to rock music here!
The guitar takes over the harpsichord part on track four, 'Reconstructing the Lost Improvisations of Aldo Pilestri (1683–1727). The baroque feeling remains, although the music could hardly be further away, not only on the timeline, a really weird but also beautiful experience reminding of Palestrina (or Pilestri, who may have not even existed) just as well as Bartok, Berg, Janacek or Fluke-Mogul. The 'Piece for Mixed Quartet' returns to the harpsichord and a game with setting melodic elements in contrast with 'free improvisation' passages. An 'assemblage' as the CD title and title of the second movement declare. This works exceptionally well: just enough baroque to ground you and plenty of dissonances to remind you that you live in the 21st century.
The final 'Assemblage Chamber' is an electronic piece in which Ricks has gathered fragments of previous pieces into ... an assemblage. We hear baroque orchestras through the haze and across a city square through the urban noisescape. Single notes ping up and down over the backdrop, gradually developing into something more coherent and layered, until the piano and harpsichord provide a brace again, holding the piece together. A masterpiece in contrasting and integrating musical elements whilst not forgetting that they still have to constitute a 'musical piece' with structure and tension. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/
PROPAN - SWAGGER (CD by Sofa Music)
MARTIN TAXT - SECOND ROOM (CD by Sofa Music)
'Swagger' is not exactly a word that fits Sofa Music, which, so I believe, is a more serious enterprise. But then, Propan might not be your ordinary duo. Not in the world of Sofa Music anyway. I only heard their album "trending' (Vital Weekly 1196) and missed out on others. In 2016 the feminist booking and DJ collective Femme Brutal commissioned 'Swagger', the duo of Natali Garner and Ina Sagstuen, mixed up with Propanions, a six-piece ensemble on trumpet, synths, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, double bass and drums. Fredrik Rasten was the only name I recognized here. I enjoyed 'Trending', even when some of the pieces were too brief, for its combination of rhythms, loops, voices and such. Effectively they take the improvised music into another area, and that's what they do here as well, but in a slightly different direction. On 'Trending', it could be sound poetry, ambient, industrial or plain improvisation; with the addition of instruments, the electronics/mechanics mix nicely with the world of a small ensemble. Along with the voices of Propan, it then turns into orchestral chamber pop of the more experimental variety. That means the music is never 'here, 'there' and always 'somewhere' and 'everywhere'. Here we have music that defies easy classification, which I should think is always a good thing. Propan and Propanions keep up the fast-paced spirit by keeping their pieces short and to the point; even within pieces, there are some significant changes, so you could see the work as eleven short pieces or one long piece, moving from song to idea, to sketch and back again. There is no single way to approach the music, and that's the beauty here. If only more modern classical music would sound like this.
Not a surprise, but 'Second Room' is the follow-up to 'First Room' (Vital Weekly 1249). Martin Taxt played with Inga Margrethe Aas on viola da gamba and double bass back then. This time the two play with Rolf Erik Nystrøm (alto saxophone, handbells), Laura Marie Rueslatten (organ, handbells), and Peder Simonsen (microtonal tuba, handbells, modular synthesizer). Taxt on microtonal tuba, handbells and Rueslatten on double bass and handbells. The music is inspired by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and "ideas on different concepts of living" because the next (safe, comfort) and cave (not designed for living), but one can adjust to living in a cave. "By rethinking our concept of space and the relation between space and the human body, we will eventually discover different functionalities within the cave and innovate new functions in the already designed space". I am not sure how that translates to the music; there is a grid system of 36 pitches and imagine the grid to be the cave, and there are three paths through the cave. Each player explores their path individually. All of this results in four pieces, around ten/eleven minutes, and you could enjoy the music by simply enjoying the sheer minimalism. The music consists mainly of sustaining tones, courtesy of each player, and developments are slow throughout. The element of improvised music, however, is not absent. As far as I can judge, I'd say that Taxt's score leaves room for freedom of interpretation. Coupled with the music's directness, being picked in a room with a few microphones added interesting levels of dynamics to the music. The handbells are something that I couldn't work out here; they are there, but what their role is, is hard to say. Maybe to indicate the start of a piece? Throughout, the music is slow and unfolding in a majestic way. I would think that the music would be all-immersive in a live situation, and that is sadly not the case on the CD unless you turn the volume up. (FdW)
––– Address: http://sofamusic.no
ANDREAS HIROUI LARSSON - SEDUCED BY (A) LAST YEAR (CD by Thanatosis Produktion)
DAVID BENNET & VILHELM BROMANDER - WITHIN REACH OF EVENTUALITY (CD by Thanatosis Produktion)
The name Andreas Hiroui Larsson also popped up before in these pages. The last time was his duo CD with Joakim Forsgren (Vital Weekly 1287), which I enjoyed quite a bit. 'Seduced by (a) Last Year' is his first solo CD. Larsson is described as an interdisciplinary artist, and he "weaves together materials from his art, music, and philosophy practices by way of an interdisciplinary artistic method, in which imagery, live improvisation, and text investigate the purpose of one another by entering each other's fields, and performing each other's roles". He plays the cymbals, drums and voice, and Johanna Arve (beamer, laptop, speaker, USB flash drive, and voice) and Johan Jutterström (saxophone, laptop, speaker, USB flash drive and voice). The piece was recorded on August 21, 2020, in concert. There is text, usually layered, so never easy to follow, along with field recordings, a jazzy saxophone, and acoustic sounds. When there is no spoken word, the music is quite lovely. Moody, sustaining tones from the saxophone and obscured sounds. But otherwise, it fails to be interesting. I have no idea what these texts are about (confusion, maybe?), and perhaps the whole thing is to be understood as a sort of John Cageian approach to making it all sound at the same time? This is the sort of art thing that I don't 'get'.
Of more personal interest was the release by David Bennet and Wilhelm Bromander. The first plays alto saxophone, and the second plays the double bass. I don't think I heard of them before. The music they recorded, spread out over four tracks, uses a score by Bennet "that melds conventional and graphic notation". Had I been told that this resulted from improvisation, I would have also believed it. Looking at the enclosed score, I can see that they go for mild 'confusion'. The music is slow, minimal, vague, and highly fascinating. You could see it as modern composed music, improvised, free jazz without much movement, new folk music, or even site-specific sound art. It all sounds recorded outside, from a distance, creating space between the players and the listeners. Bennet and Bromander interact in slow circles, leaving space between them, changing the speed even further, not exactly slowing down or speeding up. It changes the listener's perception of time (well, this one, for sure). The music is drone-like without creating long, standing waves but playing shorter cycles of sustaining acoustic tones. This is executed with control and care for detail, making this a true delight. (FdW)
––– Address: https://thanatosis.bandcamp.com/music
FRANÇOIS ROBIN & MATHIAS DELPLANQUE - L'OMBRE DE LA BETE (CD by Paranthèses Records)
From my perspective, it was quiet for Mathias Delplanque `for some time. A few years ago, he seemed a more permanent fixture in these pages. I don't know the reason for this silence, but here is a new release and a collaboration with François Robin. He is a player of an instrument called 'the veuze', bagpipes from the region of Nantes in France. I don't think I had heard of this instrument before about which Robin says, "my instrument is animal. Everything in it evokes animality: its shape, its sounds, the abundant iconographic imagination it has created. An instrument with a zoomorphic character, who breathes, blows, screams, and moans. Dissecting my bagpipe, I wish to make the shadow of this beast heard and seen". Delplanque may or may not take sounds from the veuze and bend and shape those, but I assume he also adds his blend of electronic sounds and rhythms to the play. While the music may just be outside our scope of things, I enjoy this. The rhythms are minimal and remind me of krautrock; there are some good jangling drones, and on top of that, the veuze plays melodies and more drones. Think Muslimgauze with a knack for the middle ages or Dead Can Dance (circa 'Aion') driven by the mechanics of electronic instruments. Within that, there is some variation. 'Dans L'ombre'. "Perdu' or 'L'homme à la tête de cheval' are an example of the festitive joy on the village square, while 'Le Puits' is a contemplative moment. It takes some time before the music starts in 'Sous Le Cuir' as if we are coming from afar into the village. The album ends with 'Find de Règne', which is a slow piece, almost like a funeral march and one that dispenses most with the use of electronics, I'd say. While I can't work out how serious all of this is, it might very well be, and I also think they have a big laugh here (and, sure, seriousness and humour go hand in hand). I certainly have no idea, but I love it. (FdW)
––– Address: https://parenthesesrecords.bandcamp.com/
HYDRA ENSEMBLE - VISTAS (CD by New Wave Of Jazz)
SERRIES & THOMPSON & VERHOEVEN - TODAY AND ALL THE TOMORROWS (CD by New Wave Of Jazz)
GOVAERTS & VERHOEVEN & SERRIES - TWOFOLD (2CD by New Wave Of Jazz)
RENNIE & ROBERTS & SERRIES - TRANSLUCENCE (CD by New Wave Of Jazz)
DIRK SERRIES - SOLO ACOUSTIC GUITAR IMPROVISATIONS II/III (2LP by New Wave Of Jazz)
About an hour after I posted last week's Vital Weekly, my mailman handed me a box containing all these records. Five in total, and sure, I could try and work my way through all of this in one long session, but knowing the current musical interests of musicians and label boss Dirk Serries a bit, I know this is not to be filed under easy listening. One a day, with the two double albums for the two this week on which no mail arrives.
I started with the one release that had no involvement of Serries as a musician, and that s the Hydra Ensemble. This Rotterdam based quartet consists of Goncalo Almeida (double bass), Lucija Gregov (cello), Nina Hitz (cello) and Rutger Zuydervelt (electronics; he's also responsible for the label's distinct artwork). I had not had the pleasure of seeing them in concert or hearing their debut, 'Voltas'. Perhaps this is a strange line-up, so I thought, with three instruments within the same range, but their approach is quite open as far as I know these players. The double bass is mainly plucked, while the two cellos alternate between being plucked and played with a bow. The oddball here is the presence of Rutger Zuydervelt, whose electronics play an exciting role — adding rumbles of acoustic sounds, electronic textures, atmospheres, and ambiences. Within the improvised music that this music is, he part is indeed an oddball, and it brings the music to another level. Coupled with more constant plucking and strumming, which takes out some of the album's more hectic moves, the balance rocks back and forth between threatening, wild chaos and some great reflective moments, such as in 'Vista II' and 'Vista IV'. Everything is under control; the bass plucks, some uneven strumming and the electronics are a ghosty shadow; they are my favourite pieces of the record, but I enjoy them all. In terms of chaos, I liked 'Vista III' best but found it hard to say why; just a feeling, I guess. There is some excellent interaction between the four players here (the biggest group of players for these five new releases), showing they have been playing together for quite some time.
On the second day, my attention was drawn to the trio of Dirk Serries, Daniel Thompson (both on acoustic guitar) and Martina Verhoeven (double bass). As far as I remember, Verhoeven played the piano on various previous releases, an instrument for which she was not trained. Serries, I remember, once played the accordion, also a first for him. That leads me to believe that there is a 'punk' attitude among (some) musicians on this label, to reach for instruments that aren't 'yours' and extract sounds and music from them. Praise be that I am not someone who knows too much about the history of improvised music or its practice. Instead, I see myself as an amateur with interest. Guy Peters' cover text quotes Thelonious Monk that the "piano ain't got no wrong notes", and in that respect, anyone can play any instrument. It is the 'task' of the listener to accept the playing or to dismiss it as, well, whatever. If you ever picked up an acoustic guitar, you probably tried a little Derek Bailey yourself, correct? I know I did. But it was never something that I could hold on to too long enough to think I'd be in improvised music with that. I'd say it is all about persistence and belief and the capacity to interact with the other(s). That is something that this trio do very well. Plucking, scraping, bowing, veering from the chaos and back again to something quieter (such as in 'III'), when they allow for silence to play an important part. They don't have the most accessible conversations, but one that holds much respect for the other and the talk is varied.
The first day of no mail is ascension day so that I can take some more time out for a double CD release. On both discs, we find Onno Govaert on drums; firstly, he is in duet with Martina Verhoeven on piano, and on the second with Dirk Serries on "acoustic guitar, amplified". Govaert entered the music a decade ago with Cactus Truck and played with almost everyone on the scene. He played with the axis Verhoeven/Serries before, also in combination with others. The three pieces Govaert recorded with Verhoeven are best described as one manic tour de force of free improvised music. Rolling and thundering about. No rules, no prior agreements; start the tape and get the ball rolling. There are quieter moments here in which they catch a breath (and the listener too), but mostly it's a lively chaotic ride. You could easily think of this as a noise record when they are entirely on the job, with drums and piano closely connected, both hammering away.
With Serries, Govaert recorded one long piece, forty-two minutes. I never know with improvised music how much of this is a one-take/no editing thing or if there is any post-production. I should think minimal editing and as much 'as is. At one point in the middle, I thought this is indeed 'as is'. One take is all. Here too, we served some intense improvisation music and, at times, close to proper noise. Whereas Govaert/Verhoeven's music is rooted in free jazz, this duo is more towards rock improvisation. Maybe such is the nature of combining drums and guitar? I am not sure. It is unnecessary to state which duet is the more successful one; I enjoyed them quite a lot on this quiet day, making it all less subtle, I assume.
I saved the last CD of this new batch because I expected this to be the most difficult one for me. An acoustic guitar (Serries) in combination with a baritone saxophone (Cath Roberts) and trombone (Tullis Rennie). I guess my love for wind instruments isn't that deep. However, I am pleasantly surprised by this release! I don't think I heard of Rennie and Roberts before and know nothing about their background, which I suspect is firmly rooted in the world of improvised music. They have four pieces of music on 'Translucence', and it is a free festival of chaos, scraping, hitting, scratching, sustained sound, and staccato. Most of the time, the instruments sound like a saxophone, trombone and guitar, but oat tomes, not at all, in 'Moving Sideways'. I have no idea who is responsible there, but there is a fine electro-acoustic quality (no electricity used, of course here, or on any other albums) here. As far as dialogues go, there is plenty to enjoy here, even when, at times, it seems like a battle of wind instruments as well, with the guitar caught in between. Serries play a relatively modest role here, muting his strings, whereas the saxophone and trombone never seem to hold back. Oddly enough, I thought of this album as the most difficult one of these new releases; I am not sure why it is how I feel about this. A release that only unveiled some of its beauty after repeated listening.
The final new release is a double LP by Dirk Serries. A vinyl release is a great thing (well, to many people, that is, not to me), but I wonder if the delicate nature of Serries' music is best served on this format. I must admit the pressing sounds excellent. Guy Peters' liner notes reveal that Serries uses a 1956 Höfner 457/S/E1 archtop guitar on 'II" and a 192 Höfner 459 archtop on 'III', which is both in contrast to the 1957 Höfner archtop he used on 'Solo Acoustic Guitar Improvisations I" (see Vital Weekly 1270). Four LP sides are a long ride for Serries' music's abstract nature. There is no repetition, no melodies, not even ones lingering below, but Serries in his staccato playing, strange techniques, seemingly random pluckings, highly atonal and free playing. There are no less than twenty-six pieces on this double album, and the average length is about three minutes. The music doesn't lend itself to a detailed study, marking out eh differences between tracks. Instead, I'd think of this as one piece of music, in twenty-six parts (albeit each with a different name). Like a swimming pool, you dive in, and you stay in. Let the music come in an endless stream of variations of the same thing. Fast, slow, chaos, controlled, whatever you have, but Serries keeps an eye on the ball. There is no hidden twist, no sudden movements, not out of the ordinary. Like the swimming pool filled with just water, this is water too, always and never the same. Serries' guitar(s) sound like a guitar, yet it never becomes in any shape or form a conventional guitar. With the music on repeat for an entire afternoon, patterns emerged from chaos; maybe I am losing my mind? Great! (FdW)
––– Address: https://newwaveofjazz.bandcamp.com/
ALEX CARPENTER - EXCAVATION PATTERNS (LP by De La Catessen Records)
Hang on, didn't I do this just some weeks ago? Vital Weekly 1326? Indeed I did. I recall some communication about a LP version coming up, but I can't find any evidence of it now. I don't think I realized it would be released so soon. A difficult pickle for a reviewer... As much as I don't like to do such things, I decided to re-run the review as it was...
'Excavation Patterns' is a work Alex Carpenter 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.
Odd to see that one work by one man, with no apparent history, deserves a LP release so many years later, but go to Bandcamp, have a listen, and you realize it is one hell of a beauty! A LP release well deserved. (FdW)
––– Address: https://delacatessen.bandcamp.com/merch
OCCUPIED HEAD - INTEROCEPTION (lathe cut LP by Kinetik Records)
7697 MILES - ISKAY (LP by BUH Records)
Two LPs with music by Dieter Mauson. His earliest ventures in music date from the mid-80s when he had a duo Nostalgie Eternelle and since 1989 also with Delta-Sleep-Inducing Peptide. Other groups are Opfer Der Hingabe, the trio Sauerstofff, both of which I don't know and 7697 Miles. I'll get back to that one in a bit. Occupied Head is Mauson's solo project since 2011. I reviewed some of his releases. In Mauson's music, electronics play a big part. Nostalgie Eternelle, if I recall correctly, a slight pop touch, DSIP was more on the ambient side; Occupied Head is somewhere in the middle ground, I'd say. Also some of his work with Cristobal Rawlins in 7697 Miles overlaps his solo material. Both projects take their inspiration from early 70s German electronic music, coupled with a bit of techno side. Yet none of the six pieces is intended as dance music. I believe that Occupied Head uses a set of modular electronics. He locks in a few sounds to form a sequenced pattern and then starts to play notes on top, in rhythm, and then has some minimal changes. There is also a bit of melody in the title piece, which is not something that happens in every piece. Just in case you were wondering what that title meant, it is [wiki] "is contemporarily defined as the sense of the internal state of the body. This can be both conscious and non-conscious. It encompasses the brain's process of integrating signals relayed from the body into specific subregions—like the brainstem, thalamus, insula, somatosensory, and anterior cingulate cortex—allowing for a nuanced representation of the physiological state of the body. This is important for maintaining homeostatic conditions in the body and, potentially, facilitating self-awareness." Maybe the music functions similarly? As in sending signals back and forth between modules, changing the state of the body? You realize that I am merely guessing here? There is a krautrock/cosmic aspect to the music that I enjoy very much. The repeating minimalism of the sequences, coupled with the occasionally meandering melody. There are six pieces here, each taking their time to explore the parameters, and it all has a tremendous spacious touch. Just my kind of trip. Sadly limited to 50 copies.
In Vital Weekly 1334, I reviewed 'Cla', the third release by 7697 Miles, a duo of Mauson and Rawlins, mentioning that I also reviewed their first release, 'Kiñe' (Vital Weekly 1137). 'Iskay' is already two years, and yes, I know, too old for VW, but I was asked if I wanted to hear it, and since I loved the others, why not? As I mentioned, there is an overlap between this and Occupied Head regarding musical approaches. Minimalism, for one, is of substantial interest here as well. A significant difference is the samples of percussion, rhythms, or loops, which are incorporated into the music. The inspiration comes from "the culture of the Quechua and Aymara and the dreamy landscape of Peru", one of which I can personally relate to. Spaciousness undoubtedly plays an important role, and maybe the percussion has some meaning. I don't know, and honestly, because I can't relate to that in the same way, I would think the music is possibly something else for me. 7697 Miles certainly feels more organic than Occupied Head, which I found, pleasantly, more mechanical. There is an edge there, which is rounded by 7697 Miles in their music. Sharing a similar psychedelic ground, both albums are equally trip. Occupied Head takes you through the harbour of Hamburg, 7697 Miles through the jungle of Peru; feel the difference? It seemed that 'Iskay' sounded a bit darker than 'Cla', which had a more chill-out atmosphere. On 'Iskay', one might feel the density of the jungle a bit more. I am not sure, and it's a feeling, I guess. Another good trip; you never need to leave the house. (FdW)
––– Address: https://kinetikrecords.com/
––– Address: https://buhrecords.bandcamp.com/
TBC_CZEPOKS - KORRIDORE (CDR by Wachsender Prozess)
SEEMANN - SCHLEUSE (CDR by Wachsender Prozess)
In the player, a CDR from a project I had never heard of before, being TBC_CZEPOKS. It's a collaboration between TBC - an alter ego of Thomas Beck from Elmshorn, Germany - and Czepoks (sea pox?), a collaborative effort of Rana "Miss Ton" Gunnar Rieckmann and Kai Seemann. So yes, there is a lot of cross-contamination here, but in a good way, I think: Everybody gets to focus on the part of the spectrum in the sonic experiments.
'Korridore' (hallways) is a sonic journey through them. It's a release about the transition, I think; What happens if we travel from one mental state into another, what do we see, and how do we influence each other. But in this case, It's less about the states we travel from and to; it's all about what's in between. The instrumentation of the foursome is described as electronics, keyboard, saz, tank drum, bass & bow, toy clock, and violin harp and loads of those can simply not be recognized as such. So the electronic manipulation in this release is of a very high effort and impact. Of course, it's either that or the instruments are not used in a way they should be used, but with some artists, you can never tell.
The four tracks will give you about 45 minutes of another world to live in. A world of rattling, drones, pad-like sounds and a different perspective. My personal favourite is the 14 and a half minute 'Gange', where the string instruments can be best recognized as such. But the threatening atmosphere in this track is what makes it stand out. Maybe the wind chime sounds will strike a nerve with a few of you, but they really have a purpose here, IMO. They emphasize the organic character of the track and the non-static environment that is described. Because just when you think a stasis is reached, the journey through the hallway continues ... And this hallway is dark and creepy.
In the same package we found yet another CDR. Yes, it was already two years ago, but the atmosphere on this fits the previously reviewed 'Korridore' really perfect. So we decided on reviewing it anyway. It is entitled 'Schleuse' (sluice), and it's by one of the members of Czepoks: Kai Seemann. Kai created and manipulated all sounds, and others did only the mastering and artwork.
'Schleuse' is a 36 minute piece, and before I played it for the first time, I had an actual sluice in mind, with a level on one side, a lower level on the other side and in between a massive body of water slowly changing from one to the other. How would an artist play with that imagery? Well, Kai approached it from an entirely different perspective. The primary drone opens very light, and after a while, it starts evolving. Sounds are continuously being added, and you forget about time. Towards the end, voices are ever so carefully placed, and what began as a 'cheerful' ambient thing ends in a soundtrack for a horror movie. Remember the description 'cinematic isolationism' from the turn of the century / tumour-list era? Well, this ending fits that description and could quickly become a release on its own. (BW)
––– Address: https://tbc-czepoks.bandcamp.com/
––– Address: https://seemann1.bandcamp.com/
NODOLBY - INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS (CDR by Love Earth Music)
Michele Scariot is the man behind Nodolby, a musical project I heard before, but all three times in an ancient past (Vital Weekly 861, 741 and 580). I am not sure why not anything more recent, as he used to send me releases from his Dokuro label. He ran that from 2007 to 2018. Along with the CDR came an impressive list of releases so far. Before Nodolby, he had a duo, ENT, which I don't think I know. Nodolby is a musical project, and noise music is the musical field. Lucky for me, it is the sort of noise I 'dig', the one variation that seems to put effort and thought into the barrage of noise. I read here that the sound sources are "old, broken and bented [sic] devices - the aim of the process being the search for musicality in the most abstract sounds and explore limits and opportunities of control and interplay between the performer and such equipment". I can imagine that someone with no experience to the world of noise, would find none of this about "musicality". To the 'trained' ear, such as I profess to have, I'd say his treatments of these devices (and, honestly, no idea what these are; I couldn't even guess, save perhaps for the turntable in 'Endless Winter') are pretty interesting. Sure, there is loud and distorted music on this CD, but the ultimate goal is not just that, not the mindless noise. I'd say. Nodolby is a connection between the world of harsh noise and musique concrète. Especially when there is an electronic sound one can trace to a synthesizer, such as in 'Aero Years Pt. 1'. In 'Lockdown' (according to the cover, the music was recorded between 2015 and 2020, so perhaps one of the last tracks to be recorded?), there is a strange watery synthesizer. Veering between those 'mild' ends and the album's more noisy ones, this is quite a varied album. I think there is a threshold to cross for the uninitiated, but great stuff. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.loveearthmusic.com/