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!
WE BE ECHO - CEZA EVI - COMPLEAT EDITION (2CD by Cold Spring Records) *
THE ABBILDER - FERNWEH (CD by Submarine Broadcasting Company) *
BRUNO DUPLANT - NOX (CD by Unfathomless) *
LEFT HAND RIGHT HAND - HIDDEN HANDS (2CD by Staalplaat) *
SUSANNA LÓPEZ- THE EDGE OF THE CIRCLE (CD by Elevator Bath) *
MATT SHOEMAKER - BRENGENGING SALA (CD by Elevator Bath) *
YASUHIRO MORINAGA - EXPLORING GONG CULTURE OF SOUTHEAST ASIA (2CD by Sub Rosa) *
ANDREA BELLUCCI & MATTEO UGGERI - THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR SECRETS (CD by 13) *
MATTEO UGGERI/VARIOUS ARTISTS - THE TELEPHONE (CDR, private) *
SURFACE OF THE EARTH (2LP by Thin Wrist)
HET ZWEET (2LP by Staalplaat) *
GIANCARLO TONIUTTI/MASSIMO TONIUTTI - STRATÉGIES OBLIQUES I (LP by Ferns Recordings)
BONNIE JONES - THE POSSIBILITY OF OBJECTS (lathe cut record, cassette by Ballast) *
VERTONEN - TERRITORIES ET TERRAINS PART 3 & 4 (two cassettes by Ballast) *
ADAM SONDERBERG - PAGE F (cassette by Ballast) *
GRIM HUMOUR 1987-1990 (book by Fourth Dimension)
NIEMOY - SVET (CDR by Zvočni Prepihi)
SHOE&SHOELACE - LIVE IN A SHOEBOX (CDR by Zvočni Prepihi)
COEVAL - EMPTY ROOMS (CDR, private) *
SAVVAS METAXAS - MUSIC FOR DANCE PERFORMANCE (cassette by Noise Below) *
WE BE ECHO - CEZA EVI - COMPLEAT EDITION (2CD by Cold Spring Records)
While I can't say for sure if I heard 'Ceza Evi' back in the day, I am talking of 1983 and 1984. However, I came across the name We Be Echo on a few compilations, 'Rising From The Red Sand', The Elephant Table' and 'The Call Of Cthulhu'. They stood out on many of the other tracks on such compilations as there was something lo-fi about them, even when we didn't use the lo-fi word back then. Whereas the other groups had a certain standard when it comes to technology, We Be Echo didn't. The sound was always a bit hissy and murky. It certainly had a great charm. We Be Echo was one Kevin Thorne, who used the ping-pong recording technology. Record one thing on a cassette, another on the second, mix the two into one and then repeat that process, ultimately mixing the four sources on two cassettes into one. That brings the hiss or the murkiness. It was also not easy to go back and re-do things. We Be Echo used rhythm machines, bass guitar, synthesizers and voices (singing and a few taped from TV and radio). Interestingly, this recording process leads to such wonderful musical results. We Be Echo were part of the 'industrial music' crowd (Genesis P. Orridge appears on one track, no doubt a selling point) but are more like Cabaret Voltaire than Throbbing Gristle. The rhythm machine plays a significant role, adding an element of 'pop' to the music, and there are some strong melodic touches to be found here. Along with the voices, this gives the music that great underground sound of the early 80s. Not every track is a winner, but that is not necessary. As with much of the music from those days, the act of creating is more important than the actual result. While much of this eluded me back in the day (or maybe erased from memory due to advancing age), I must say that this survived pretty well. Even the lo-fi character of the music indeed is a thing of its own, with hiss now being a charming additional ingredient.
This double CD has the complete 'special edition' of the original 1983 cassette on one CD, and on the second CD are pieces from 1981-1983; some of these appeared on the compilations mentioned. A fine time capsule. (FdW)
––– Address: https://coldspring.co.uk/
THE ABBILDER - FERNWEH (CD by Submarine Broadcasting Company)
Behind Die Abbilder (the images), we find a new duo of the omnipresent Dieter Mauson (synthesizers and electronics) and Wilfried Hanrath (synthesizer, electronics, guitar, bass, drums and vocals). I don't know the latter as well as Mauson's work, but apparently he played in krautrock and progressive rock bands and started again in 2007, at the 50, after a long hiatus. In 2020 the two met in Augsburg and decided to start a long-distance collaboration. 'Fernweh' means 'wanderlust', which I somehow find a very cosmic music title. The eight pieces of music span sixty-six minutes, and each musician has a solo piece. You'd expect these to be at the album's end, but Hanrath's is fifth and Mauson's eighth. Had I not read this, I would perhaps not have known. Maybe Hanrath's piece veers towards free improvisation/jazz-rock and a little less on the electronics, an oddball indeed that is a bit out of place with the rest. Mauson's piece fits better with the rest, as he works with electronics. His piece is a moody closing statement. In the duo pieces, many synthesizers find their way into the equation. Joyous, repeating melodic stabs that somehow don't seem to fit together. But because Die Abbilder has their tracks longer, one starts to see sense there. This is highly minimal music, devoid of solid beats, but rather lots of arpeggios running amok. Isolated, smaller affairs also happen, sometimes a bit lost in whatever is happening simultaneously. At times this music is deceivingly simple and, at other times, very complex. Almost like a labyrinth of sounds demanding your attention. Relax and follow one or two lines of the music, and you'll be saved. The roots of more than fifty years of German electronic music are evidently clear in this music; Die Abbilder have their take at the notion of krautrock and cosmic music, which is a true delight to hear. (FdW)
––– Address: https://submarinebroadcastingco.bandcamp.com/
BRUNO DUPLANT - NOX (CD by Unfathomless)
It seems as if no week passes by without a new release by Bruno Duplant, the French composer of whom I never seem to know much about. Releases for Unfathomless deal with field recordings, and this one is no different, except, perhaps, for the fact that many of these field recordings are made in one place. Duplant recorded his material in Waziers, Berlin and London, without being very specific about the exact locations. That too is sometimes different on this label. And lastly, Duplant uses some instruments here. I believe to hear a piano and some instrument played with a bow; that might strings or a cymbal. The title refers to "the multiple meanings and interpretations that can be made of the incomplete form of the dactylic hexameter and palindrome In girum imus nocte ecce et consumimur igni. This Latin phrase, pictorial and poetic, most often attributed to Virgil, refers to the moths that circle around the candle before burning themselves, and which means: “We go around in circles in the night and we are devoured by fire". I am not that smart. More explanations on the Bandcamp page. Maybe the piece is indeed a palindrome. At least when I opened it in an audio editor it gave that impression. As with some of other recent works, Duplant seems to be layering a lot of sounds that may not have many relations with each other and then finds a dialogue among them. By slowly fading up and down particular sounds, he creates a very rich sound world. I am not sure to what extent this is to be understood as random in the John Cage-sense, or if the composer willingly allows sounds to be louder or quieter in the mix. There are some massive, drone-like rocks, very detailled small field recordings, the occasional piano tone, the bow across the cymbal/violin, crackles and it all works very well. 'Nox' lasts exactly forty minutes, but I am sure this could be twice as long and still be interesting. I know this, because I had it on repeat and didn't notice the change over that much and it wasn't until much longer that I realized it started again. The overall tone of the piece is quite moody and atmospheric, but I guess such is the nature of densely layered field recordings. High quality work, as usual. (FdW)
––– Address: https://unfathomless.bandcamp.com/
LEFT HAND RIGHT HAND - HIDDEN HANDS (2CD by Staalplaat)
In recent years I had not thought about Left Hand Right Hand. In fact, I don't recall when I last heard their music. I am not sure, but perhaps when I downloaded the Tak Tak Tak compilations from a blog when that was a hip thing to do. Tak Tak Tak was a magazine with poetry and found images and a cassette by Andrew and Tim Brown, the two founding members of Left Hand Right Hand, and still to this day, the core of the group. When they started this side-project, they were part of the free improvisation group The Colonels, which intended to be heavy on the percussion side. Over the years, they had different lineups, including Karl Blake (of Lemon Kittens and Shock Headed peters), Lol Coxhill, and members of Zahgurim and Charlie Collins (Clock DVA and The Box). The quartet of the Brown brothers, Blake and Collins, is the present lineup. In the late 80s/early 90s I heard their releases through a friend who had more money to invest in a proper record collection, and I am sure I taped a few as this was music I liked. Music that reminded me of Clock DVA and 23Skidoo, as rightfully mentioned here, but it was so much more. The post-punk spirit runs rampant here. Anything goes, so the music is a wild mix of tribal percussion, lots of it, in fact, free jazz improvisation, especially when Collins' saxophone becomes a permanent fixture. Think Pig Bag without scoring a big hit. There is quite a bit of rocky guitars, fourth-world percussion, and introspective, dreamy bits have their moments in the sun. This double CD features their 12" 'Hum Drum', 'Legs Akimbo', the ND 7", 'In Mufti' CD, all from 191 to 1995, and ten more pieces from 1997-2019 unreleased. Well over two hours of music is a long stretch of music. It certainly is too much to take in, especially as there seems to be so much on each track, and the speed is incredibly high, but so is the variation within the tracks. In terms of getting the complete package, this is it. (FdW)
––– Address: https://staalplaatlabel.bandcamp.com/
MACHINEFABRIEK & ANNE BAKKER - WISPS (CD by Machinefabriek)
Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt) is a prolific electronic music engineer with an extensive catalogue with over a hundred reviews on Vital Weekly. Anne Bakker is a classically trained violinist and singer-songwriter. Together they have made three previous releases, each time with the same procedure as I understand it: Anne Bakker records violin, viola and her voice and Machinefabriek processes the recordings and adds instruments, albeit virtual ones, to create short stories or more or less finished sketches that could well serve as a soundtrack. As I read this back, they are not sketches but finished pieces, with each piece having a distinct atmosphere that sometimes changes dramatically throughout the piece. The viola/violin sounds are sometimes treated with a tape effect, creating subtle frequency changes. It adds to the mystery. In ‘Pummel’, Anne vocalises a melody she plays on the viola, with percussion added to quite a dramatic effect, building up to a whole orchestral sound of viola and voice. Ruimte I (Space) uses spacious reverb to create a giant space in which crackles appear as living creatures inside that space. It’s all metaphor, of course, but with these tracks, you can create your own short stories or movies if you like. The sound design is excellent with very natural sounding effects and subtle and sometimes not so subtle changes of timbre, all in service of telling a fascinating story using exquisite and refined sound devices. Listen to this in a quiet environment, as there are so many details to hear that they are easily lost. It reminds me a bit of Leos Janacek, who composed beautiful melodies or statements that are heard once and never return in a piece. In short: 'Wisps' is an excellent release, well worth seeking out. I, for one, will check out the other releases of these two musical masterminds. (MDS)
––– Address: https://machinefabriek.nu/news/out_now
SUSANNA LÓPEZ- THE EDGE OF THE CIRCLE (CD by Elevator Bath)
MATT SHOEMAKER - BRENGENGING SALA (CD by Elevator Bath)
The third release by Spanish composer Susana López is also her second for Elevator Bath (see also Vital Weekly 1250 and 1190), and she continues to explore long-form drone pieces of her two earlier releases. However, I believe there are also some minor changes in her work. For instance, the slow development is now slowly replaced by a thicker, heavier synth-based sound. Perhaps it all feeds through several resonators, making this the science fiction movie soundtrack. Very ominous sounds at work here and a slightly more brutal take on cosmic music. I made that science fiction reference before with her work, but this time it is even clearer. The cover says that López uses field recordings, instruments and editing. Whatever these field recordings, I have no idea, as whatever means of processing she applies (of which I couldn't say anything sensible either), the level of abstraction is so high that it is impossible to say anything about those recordings. I would say that these processed field recordings certainly create variations in these pieces. The music ranges from purely electronic sounds in 'Black Circle' to the more field recordings induced 'Swarm Of Drones' (which isn't the best of titles, being an old compilation CD on Asphodel). Birds (or electronic imitations thereof) are part of 'Valhalla', rummaging around the house and held-down drone chords. 'Soul Stuff' and 'Concentric' are pieces of atmospheric, layered drones and form some excellent bookend pieces to this release. A damn fine release, I'd say, and Susana López slowly develops her own voice in the world of electronic music.
From the late Matt Shoemaker, Elevator Bath released a work he composed between 2013 and 2015, which was used in a film about Solo (Surakarta in Central Java, Indonesia), a place he loved. The film is by Matt Dunning but is not yet finished. Shoemaker uses field recordings from the place, which he elegantly bends and reshapes into the best mood music for which he is best known. Just as with the CD by López, I have no idea what the sources are for these pieces. Partly because I have not visited the place, but even if I had, I would probably have very little idea of how it relates to what I am hearing. I am sure some of these recordings deal with traditional instruments of a percussive nature (is my best guess). Sometimes these percussive bits are very slow, the cycle becoming a slow drone. These slow cycles are treated with modular electronics, software or such, and the result is music of a highly atmospheric nature. Shoemaker's music is atmospheric and blends dark ambient with musique concrète techniques. He owes, perhaps, his composition techniques less to the musique concrète posse and a bit more to the underground, but that is right up my alley. I am strongly reminded of Robert Hampson's music as Main, and oddly enough, some of the sounds from Shoemaker are very 'guitar-like, so I thought. A beautiful release and a sad reminder of the man's passing. (FdW)
––– Address: https://elevatorbath.bandcamp.com/
YASUHIRO MORINAGA - EXPLORING GONG CULTURE OF SOUTHEAST ASIA (2CD by Sub Rosa)
This release has been on my desk for some time now. I played parts of it several times, but I keep postponing writing about it. One of the reasons is the extensive booklet that comes with this. Here Yasuhiro Morinaga, a Japanese sound artist, recounts his interest in gong music from South-East Asia and his travels and recordings he made en route. He travelled to the Central Highland of Vietnam, Northeast Cambodia and also to the Archipelago, maritime Southeast Asia, by which we understand the Luzon islands of the Philippines, Borneo, Sulawesi and the Flores Islands of Indonesia). in the very extensive booklet, Morinaga recounts of his travels in these places and is almost like a diary. I read this with much interest and listened with equal interest, but I kept thinking: what is there to review for me? I haven't been to that part of the world, and I doubt if I ever will, so there is an aspect I probably miss. To judge the musical content? I am afraid I am not an ethno musicologist, and I am not sure if the pieces are intended for stand-alone musical compositions or demonstrations of instruments (maybe I didn't read the booklet that well?). I did, however, enjoy the music quite a bit, as much as I loved to read the booklet. Unlike the average releases discussed in Vital Weekly, even from the perspective of field recordings, this is a study document and requires a different kind of review. Still, I am not the scholarly type for that. I can merely hope these words incited your interest to check this out, as it indeed is worth your while. (FdW)
––– Address: https://subrosalabel.bandcamp.com/
ANDREA BELLUCCI & MATTEO UGGERI - THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR SECRETS (CD by 13)
MATTEO UGGERI/VARIOUS ARTISTS - THE TELEPHONE (CDR, private)
Here we have two new releases by Matteo Uggeri; one solo and one with Andrea Bellucci. We know him from Red Sector A (albeit quite some time ago, Vital Weekly 928), and his duos Vetropaco (Vital Weekly 1053), QOD (Vital Weekly 1107) and Dead Piano (Vital Weekly 1155). Bellucci is a man to play the piano, while Matteo Uggeri (also known for his work with Sparkle in Grey and Starlight Assembly) adds field recordings and beats. These field recordings might be voices, and kitchen objects, among a few less easy-to-define sounds. Uggeri also plays a few instruments, such as the violin. The resulting music is a fine soundtrack indeed. Maybe it is the soundtrack of your secrets, but equally, this music can fit any motion picture that dwells heavily on the atmosphere. The piano has a fair treatment with much reverb to add to the darker qualities of the music. The piano lays comfortably in the vast sea of sounds that Uggeri spins. The beats are gently but present, and they are never danceable. Throughout this is very pleasant yet dark music. On a bright summer's day, you would think that this is not the right soundtrack, but I am wrong. I played it every day since it arrived a week ago, and the only thing I didn't like was getting out of the comfy chair, sitting at my desk and writing about this release. The music invited me to be lazy and don't engage in any activity. Not really ambient (or should that be: not ambient really), as there are too many beats anyway, and the production has too many sounds and ornaments to be Zen-like engaging in meditation, but more a state of mind that keeps you awake; awake, yet also lazy. Perfect for someone like myself.
The other release is by Matteo Uggeri, or rather, he instigated the album. While thinking about loud music being very tiring, he came up with the idea of having people sing covers down the telephone. I only recognized Joy Division's 'Disorder', to be honest, by One Boy Band, but even if I had recognized some more, I would still be not very much into the whole thing. It's not that I like loud music per se, or quiet for that matter, but the entire thing (thirty-three minutes) sounded rather unengaging to these ears. Like a sort of naive, outsider thing, but then, not very good either. Maybe there is something highly engaging about this concept that I miss? (FdW)
––– Address: http://store.silentes.it/
––– Address: https://matteouggeri.bandcamp.com/album/the-telephone
SURFACE OF THE EARTH (2LP by Thin Wrist)
Playing this re-issue of Surface Of The Earth debut album made me think about how musical interests come and go and sometimes stay. And sometimes return. In the late 90s, I had a strong interest in music from New Zealand, like so many others, and bought all of them. As I was moving to a new house, all my records were in storage for a while, and the recent ones that I had in our temporary home, I played a few records all the time. Surface Of The Earth's LP for Fusetron (their only other record, was a regular and when, in later years, it was time to sell some records, that was the one to keep. Because I kept rips of all the CDs by Corpus Hermeticum (which you never play), I no longer had a physical copy of Surface Of The Earth first album. That was already a re-issue, as this was first released as a cassette, then a double lathe cut LP. This beautiful double LP with a heavy (very heavy!) cardboard sleeve made me feel twenty-five years younger again. I immediately 'got' again why I liked this music so much back then. The music is noisy, but in a great, controlled way. I assume the three members play the guitar, lots of pedals and amplifiers and nothing else; the information says "few effects, reverb, walkie talkies, dictaphones and a synthesizer with its keys taped down". Alright, then, I didn't hear many synthesizers in this. The music is a totally unique take on the notion of drone music. The music is captured with two microphones in a wooden community hall, adding more (natural) reverb to the music, and the music sings, thrills and rips. Play loud is not an advice on the cover of this record, but one I am handing to you. There are no melodies, no notes, no strumming, just these walls and wails of guitar noise, culminating at the end of side B in a feedback orgy that is 'Sea Of Japan'. There are nine pieces of music, and throughout, the group presents various approaches. The idea is the same, and the execution is different. Thus it is sometimes loud, sometimes in a more reflective mood. They explore their ways, combining minimalism and drones with top-heavy guitar work. There is that rawness that I associate with music from New Zealand, music recorded with near-death batteries on a Walkman. Lo-fi is better-called max-fi. Surface Of The Earth has a wall of sound and is rock solid. The pitch-black cover with its black print tops this monument. Possibly my pick of the week! (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.blackeditionsgroup.com/
HET ZWEET (2LP by Staalplaat)
From the small but thriving 'industrial music' scene in the Netherlands around 1984, Het Zweet has the best papers to become a well-feted act, with records on various labels. Marien van Oers, the man behind the project, released a handful of cassettes, contributed to various compilations, and attracted attention from Recloose Organisation (Bourbonese Qualk's label) and Berlin's Dossier Records. Only the latter released an LP from Het Zweet. But as these things were with many of these musicians, once the 'the statement' had been made, it was time to move on. Coupled with Van Oers non-interest in money, deals and copyrights and shifting musical interests, Het Zweet was gone by 1988, if not sooner. Why he had the best papers to go 'big', in my opinion? Take a listen, and you know why. Van Oers created percussion instruments from waste material, which he amplified with contact microphones. Along with his real-time drumming, he also used loops of drone-like sounds and sometimes added his voice. The result is highly minimal yet massively captivating trance music. And we like rhythms, don't we? Even in the golden days of industrial music, we loved them. Test Dept was famous, Z'EV too. We shall never know why Het Zweet never made it to a great box set for Vinyl On Demand. Van Oers passed away in 2013. Luckily this double LP, in textured, stitched sleeve (great!), should, no must, revive some interest in the man's music. The first record is a re-issue of the LP released by Dossier Records in 1987; one could say the record from the end of his career. The second LP contains three tracks on the same master tape and two live excerpts (dates unknown). Playing these LPs, after not thinking a lot about Het Zweet for a long time (save for the recent re-issued Korm Plastics compilations, also through Staalplaat), I am thrown by the speed of light back to my teenage boys' room, folders filled with correspondence, and music from Het Zweet. The tribal drumming, the invocations, and the loops of acoustic sound add an entirely different rhythm to the game ('Red Robe', for instance). Z'EV meets early Muslimgauze and Test Department, less the political connotations. In the back of my mind, I thought the Dossier LP wasn't his best work, but I am sure I must have misremembered this. Maybe I had moved on in 1987? I no longer know. Hearing this, I realize this is an excellent record, remastered with great care by Radboud Mens and hopefully the start of a re-issue campaign of Van Oers' earlier work.(FdW)
––– Address: https://hetzweet.bandcamp.com/
GIANCARLO TONIUTTI/MASSIMO TONIUTTI - STRATÉGIES OBLIQUES I (LP by Ferns Recordings)
If I remember this correctly, when I first heard the name Massimo Toniutti in the 80s, I believed it was a mix-up with Giancarlo Toniutti. Later on, I understood they were brothers. Over the years, Giancarlo was the more prolific one, with more releases than his brother, who also had quite a hiatus in which there were no releases (2000-2015). Both brothers use a card from Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's deck 'Oblique Strategies as a starting point for a composition. 'A tinct myth (discard an axion, just carry on)' is for Giancarlo. In his piece, he uses early percussion (whatever that is), rustler, iron wares, prepared slabs, and domestic idiophones in a sixteen-minute piece that is instantly recognizable as Giancarlo Toniutti. The acoustic sounds of non-familiar sources are layered together and mixed with a slow acoustic drone. And yet, also, no drone. Rustling like leaves in the wind and sounding like a sound installation recording. As ever hard to define and distinctly that quiet Giancarlo Toniutti sound. I love it, but I have loved his music since discovering it many years ago, clouded by beautiful mystery.
Oddly enough, why was there no split release by the two brothers, I thought when I started the second side? Plus, and this is something I wondered about before: how the two men influence each other with ideas, technology and such. That is not to say that their works are similar, mainly in a more superficial way. Massimo also deals with long-form sound in his 'The Background Colour of a Paragraph (ask your body, mute and continue)', which I think is more electronic in approach (the cover says, "I stretched a wire in my living room, from radiator to radiator cutting the room in half and passing it through a series of bridges and resonators"). So he is a bit more into processing sounds. The result is more standard drone-like but also with acoustic events dropping in and out of the mix. Whereas Giancarlo finds variation within the same material through the length of a piece, Massimo finds change within the piece, building a different narrative throughout the piece. This, too, I found a most enjoyable piece of music. I think it is a beautiful idea to have both brothers on one record and something I would love to see more of. (FdW)
––– Address: https://fernsrecordings.bandcamp.com/
BONNIE JONES - THE POSSIBILITY OF OBJECTS (lathe, cassette, video by Ballast)
VERTONEN - TERRITORIES ET TERRAINS PART 3 & 4 (two cassettes by Ballast)
ADAM SONDERBERG - PAGE F (cassette by Ballast)
This year Ballast releases a series of box sets with lathe cut records, cassettes and booklets. And, in the case of Bonnie Jones, also a movie, to be accessed with a QR code. I don't think I had heard of Bonnie Jones before this, and I found that she "is a Korean-American improvising musician, poet, and educator. Her work is committed to an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates text, sculpture, and video but grounds itself in an improvised electronic noise and sound practice". The complete package, so to say, and it provides an excellent introduction for those who need to have one (me included). The 7" lathe cut contains two pieces of cutting up sound material. I believe some Dictaphone abuse is going on, in which she picks up acoustic sounds from the space she's in, feedback and maybe turntables—speeding up, slowing down, all in a fine whirlwind of sounds. On the other hand, the cassette has more noise with distorted radio waves and more feedback and electronics. There is also more variation in the music on these two sides of the cassette. Here too, all sorts of tape abuse play an exciting role. It is never really loud or all too distorted, making Bonnie Jones's noise a most exciting one. Relatively lo-fi and indeed from a more improvisation end of the musical spectrum. The video sees the waves of sound but is heavily reduced and set against a yellow background, with a few poetic lines and remarks below (not all the time). The booklet contains short stories, adding to the now chaotic state of mind I have, but it all makes great sense. Had I just consumed one of these elements, I would not be sure what to make of it, but in terms of the complete package, yes, that's how it works.
Then there are also two new cassette releases and on one (or two, as it is a double tape) label boss Vertonen. These two cassettes contain the next instalment of 'Territories Et Terrains', of which I reviewed the first two parts on Vital Weekly 1321. Blake Edwards, the man behind the project, used the Covid time to be very active with new recordings, of which this is one part. As I wrote before, in the previous review, I am quite the fan when it comes to the music of Vertonen, and this new release is no different. This time, Vertonen is all over the place. First, there are the usual long-form drone pieces, with their minimal development and such. Next, there are pieces purely created with field recordings, such as at the beginning of 'Side E', cars, children's playground and radio. Finally, some of Vertonen's drones are a bit more industrial, such as the beginning of 'Side H'. A combination of these is, of course, a possibility, which delivers some excellent variation in the material on offer here. On each of the four sides, Vertonen has multiple tracks, usually two to four, and in each, he takes his usual time to envelop these pieces slowly. Minimal but steady, as Vertonen is now a master in controlling the drone. Not let it move on too quickly, nor let it outstay its welcome. With all the extra sounds going on, it also becomes more than just a massive drone (which, honestly, nowhere is in these pieces), but rather fine pieces of lo-fi darkness—another side of the drone-coin here, proving Vertonen to create many variations in the notion of drones.
The last new release is a work by Adam Sonderberg, a member of Haptic and other groups (that I don't know), who is here in a different mood. He uses "personal archival material to explore therapeutic counselling". One side sounds like being in the waiting room, which questions privacy and "voices create a space where privacy issues loom large: what is the difference between hearing and listening? What is the human desire to piece together a satisfactory narrative when that narrative is concealed? What resolution, satisfaction or insight does one hope to uncover by linking the elements to produce—accurate or otherwise—a narrative?". The other side manipulates this further and deals more with voice processing, making it even more challenging to understand. I admit I am not entirely sure about what this concept is about, nor when listening to the music. The level of conceptology is quite high here, and as such, I retreat to another level. Regardless of the concept, do I like what I hear? Yes, I do, even at the full 100 minutes. Or rather, maybe, because it is so long. Both sides have a tremendous amount of white noise, and somewhere, far away, there are voices. It is as if the microphone is three doors down from the waiting room, and someone made a lot of trouble picking up these sounds, pumped the sound a lot but never bothered to remove unwanted white noise. This is fascinating stuff, so I imagine some people will find this highly annoying. Also, I am unsure if one should play this at a low volume or crank it up high to make the best experience. I kept it on a normal level, did some chores around the house, and found this quite the surreal soundtrack for such tasks. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ballastnvp.blogspot.com/
GRIM HUMOUR 1987-1990 (book by Fourth Dimension)
I originally planned to read almost all of this book before considering a review, but after a month, I am still not there. I realized this is not a book to read from A to Z. Just like its predecessor, and this is a 400-page detailing four issues of this UK magazine, this time the issues 11 to 14. Richard Johnson, who still runs the Fourth Dimension label, had established a massive magazine (or fanzine, depending on your love for semantics, but with more than 100 pages per issue, hardly a fanzine anymore), of which these books are mere 'best-of'. This second book is in the same style as the previous (Vital Weekly 1253), and it is not a collection of scans. There are comments and introductions from 2021-22 about the content to add colour to the background. I found that a bit odd the first time around, but it's most certainly a helpful addition, even when it clouds, at times, the timeline perspective. Also, some interviews are in a new type-setting, enhancing the readability. Sometimes there are scans of pages. The musical focus had shifted by then towards more and more guitars, so we see a lot of heavy guitar bands in reviews and interviews. Butthole Surfers, Gore, Big Black, Sonic Youth, Swans, Fugazi, Rapeman, Godflesh, and also The Cure, Wire, Chris & Cosey, from a slightly different musical perspective. Music wasn't the only subject as the magazine happily writes about books and films, from Stephen King to David Lynch. I comb through tons of reviews to try and find new names to explore, or maybe simply as a reminder about artists I forgot about and which are, no doubt, to be found in the crevices of the internet. Keep a notepad ready at times when going through such books. Grim Humour's angry young man style is often hilarious and annoying, but I guess that is a sign of the times. Volume three will complete this series, and we'll have over 1000 pages of underground cultural history. (FdW)
––– Address: https://fourthdimensionrecords.bigcartel.com/products
NIEMOY - SVET (CDR by Zvočni Prepihi)
SHOE&SHOELACE - LIVE IN A SHOEBOX (CDR by Zvočni Prepihi)
Jaka Berger is a young Slovenian musician and percussionist walking the line between electronic music, free improvisation, contemporary classic, and jazz. You could even throw in a bit of glitch if you want. The list of releases to his name is not that long, but he works within a long list of groups, most of which seem to be one-off projects. The only exceptions are Ludovik Material, an electronic rock-punk outfit, and his solo project BRGSTime.
Here we find him teaming up with reed (in effect saxophone) player Jure Borsic on two releases with many similarities. In addition, the Niemoy project adds Tilen Kravos on guitar.
Niemoy is 'None' in Russian; not sure about Slovenian, but 'Svet' means World. Whether or not this has an intentional context is hard to determine. Nevertheless, listening to the 'Svet' release, my first reaction was: Shockabilly! A hectic percussion track overlayed with skewed guitar and (not typical for Shockabilly) a free jazz saxophone. The first piece, 'Mali', is short, only 25 seconds, but sets the scene for everything to follow. An assault of hectic percussion, with bursts of dissonant guitar and saxophone. The next track leaves more time to settle into the music. The hectic percussion prevails again, but the guitar initially sets a contra point in a slow (non-) melodic line, with the saxophone only adding pointillistic contributions. This quickly changes into a free jazz saxophone playing alongside a much slower guitar line, still supported by the double-speed percussion. This sounds annoying but works surprisingly well. At this point, you also begin to realise that the inconspicuous sounding percussion is not live percussion (at least not all of the time) but sampled and reconstructed. This also explains the 'high speed', thrash metal feels of the backing. The music, though, does move through different modes and the end of 'Zdrav Ko Lah' is a finely tuned moody acoustic phase-out. This mood continues into the less 'in the face' 'Batiskopa', which takes on a bit of a busking atmosphere of something you could play in a Ljubljana square. But that quickly changes as the guitar creates a background noise plane on which the saxophone goes off on a tangent whilst the percussion increasingly gets chopped into digital bits. At nearly nine minutes, there is enough space to go into a mayhem middle section and phase out on extended electronic sounds overlayed with the two acoustic instruments. 'Buraz Naso' and 'Kravam Zvigat' are free jazz pieces, 'Perestroika' takes us into a much more electronic and industrial direction, 'Vargu Vjesanje' is free jazz played by a rock band, whilst 'Lumumba' takes somewhat the middle ground between jazz and electronics. In a fine musical bow, the final piece takes on the style of the first again with less than 30 seconds to last.
Shoe&Shoelace are the same people, Berger and Borsic, using the Covid-time of difficult international cooperation (definitely if you were talking about in-person meetings, not if you worked via media) to explore the world of duos. You could say the ingredients are the same - so what's different here. And the first piece would prove you right; it could also have been something on 'Svet', with the guitar providing the background bass lines. But the feel is different with less of the 'let's push the limits together by blasting out' replaced by much more intimate duo dialogues. The percussion sounds less treated and hectic, introducing more cymbals and more colours. Nevertheless, the mix has sufficient treatment to add several layers to the music, expanding it from the 'mere' duo setting. 'Halle's Double Pinky' is a long piece that starts with a long drawn cymbal sound treatment, only in the second half adding the saxophone and its treatments, whilst changing the percussion sound, all giving a relaxed and laid-back feeling far removed from the hectic rhythms of Niemoy. 'Tie your damn laces' returns to the Niemoy-style percussion, though in a different timbre, whilst 'Feetishist' is a mixture of the free jazz take of 'Buraz Naso' with more electronic effects by doubling the reeds parts and adding more layers to the duo sound - so it does not sound duo at all anymore. 'Blessed Blister' and 'The divine platfoos' (you now get the 'shoe' connotation) venture into far more electronic sounds, the latter even sounding more industrial than anything else, maybe even taking some Vangelis or Tangerine Dream on board at times, only to ditch them a bit later. After some development, even these pieces return to the jazz duo feel towards the end. 'Nogalo suing our shoebox' (some inside joke??) closes this release by returning to something that could also have featured on Svet. However, the layering and lack of guitar lend a slightly different direction. And it's not quite so hectic and more jazz.
Overall, not something the contemporary classic people will like, there might be some reservations from the free jazz crowd, too. Still, everyone who is open-minded enough to embrace the possibilities of electronic processing of a jazz instrumentarium can positively relate to this music. (RSW)
––– Address: https://zvocniprepihi.bandcamp.com/
COEVAL - EMPTY ROOMS (CDR, private)
Why call your release 'Empty Rooms' and have that one line of information in Spanish? "Colección de 18 fonografías y piezas compuestas a partir de grabaciones en espacios vacíos". Even when it is not rocket science to understand, this means something like a "collection of 18 phonographs and pieces composed from recordings in empty spaces". I was about to write that I had no idea who Coeval is, besides a former duo from Spain, now the solo project of Juan Carlos Blancas. A quick look at the Vital Weekly archive told me that I wrote before about Coeval, in Vital Weekly 488 and 772, about a trio improvisation with Miguel A. Garcia and Miguel Prado). I don't remember these, but it seems that also back then, he worked mainly with field recordings. As we already established, these eighteen pieces were recorded in empty rooms. I can't decide if the titles refer to the actual places or if they are merely poetic. My best guess is that it is a bit of both. In these empty rooms, it can be silent or near-silent, which, I guess, is the whole idea of an empty room. But it gets interesting when the room is not quiet, for example, when the rain pours against the windows or roof. Or when the microphone picks up from a sound outside the room, like a siren or some obscure mechanical device. The room becomes an amplifier or net to capture the sound, which is quite interesting. Many of these pieces last two or three minutes, with some exceptions. I like this briefness as it gives the whole release some urgency and adds to the dynamics. The silent pieces are a bit too silent for me but quickly pass in favour of pieces with more sound, and the variety in actions leads to quite a fine release. (FdW)
––– Address: https://c0eval.bandcamp.com/
SAVVAS METAXAS - MUSIC FOR DANCE PERFORMANCE (cassette by Noise Below)
There is a significant difference, so I believe, in reviewing music for film and dance. With film soundtracks, there are usually snippets of music, which never seem to fulfil my need to hear it all; they sound like the start of a great piece of music, but then, oops, sorry, mate, it's gone. With music for choreography, you get the whole thing, and that's great. I have no fundamental knowledge about the world of dance and choreography, so the missing aspect of seeing the dance is not something I particularly mind. Certainly not in this case, when Savvas Metaxas plays some great music, which stands alone by itself very well. The music for a dance performance called 'Who Knows Where The Time Goes - Potential Destination #1' (I'd like to know which destination, though) by Eleonora Siarava. Metaxas is an electronic composer who loves long-form sounds but also knows when to change the scenery. In this new work, I imagine some of the slow-moving sounds are used for slow-moving persons on stage. The abstraction of the music is of such a nature that I have no idea what the stage action looks like. Which, I guess, is also a good thing that the music can perfectly stand by itself. Slow and majestic tones here, deep bass rumble, with minor changes over the slow course of minutes. The second side sees a bit of variation or speedier fades, going from pure drones into something that reminded me of Pan Sonic, but less the deep bass beat and Ryoji Ikeda. It is clearly one piece spread out over two sides of the cassette with a quick fade-out/fade-in. Still, that didn't bother me, as this was an excellent release. Not an outstanding work, as it stays within the boundaries of what we already know from the world's deep, atmospheric drones. But I am sure there are few out there for whom that is enough, and that's great. (FdW)
––– Address: https://noise-below.bandcamp.com/