number 1362
week 47

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 to your MP3 player and enjoy!
complete tracklist here:

Listen to the podcast on Mixcloud!

AGS - LAB RAT (CD by Ein Klang Records) *
MIKEL KUEHN - ENTANGLEMENTS (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
UN CADDIE RENVERSÉ DANS L'HERBE - nighturns (CD by Cellule 75) *
MARC RICHTER - MM​∞​XX Vol​.​1 & 2 (CD by Cellule 75) *
RELIEF - COAGULA (LP by Relict) *

AGS - LAB RAT (CD by Ein Klang Records)

Here we have a slightly confusing release. I had not heard of Susana Santos Silva before (to be precise, I didn't review her work). She is from Portugal and plays the trumpet and Irish flute and field recordings. She is based in Stockholm, studying electro-acoustic composition. There are working relations with Kaja Draksler, a quartet named Hearth and the Fire! Orchestra. To her name, she already has an impressive list of releases. I understand this new work is more of an electronic album, and I'm sure the trumpet plays a role here. Maybe that's where my confusion enters. Confusion, not so much the music confuses me, but the combination of the pieces. A piece such as 'As One Comes To The World' sounds like she is trying to drown her trumpet in a water tank, which is nice, but at nine minutes, perhaps a bit long. In 'Always Arriving Always Departing', the field recordings (I think) are made of Silva standing on a street corner, playing the trumpet, albeit at some distance from the microphone. Not my kind of music. In other pieces, Silva plays the trumpet, to some extent or another, along with electronics. In 'All The Birds', there is an avgue drone, obscure telephone-like sounds and some cut-up trumpet recording. 'And A Telephone Ringing' goes back to the street/tunnel, armed with a flute and people talking. Also, not my kind of music, but I enjoyed this over the other one. In 'For Reasons A Human Cannot Divine' (not sure what that means) and 'The Way Home', she combines field recordings from the harbour (maybe on both of these pieces) and some extended trumpet techniques, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I am not all too sure what to make of this album. Some I enjoyed, others not as much, and I got a bit lost right in that diversity.
    And you know me, and I'm not particularly eager to lump things together, but in this case, I will (it may happen more in the future). AGS is a trio of Gloria Damijan (toy pianos, percussion, objects), Alex Kranabetter (trumpet, electronics) and Scott L. Miller (Kyma, networking). This trio was formed to play a concert at 'Alte Schmiede' in Vienna on December 14, 2021, and four of the six pieces are from this concert. A month before, they played a concert with Damijan and Kranabetter at home in Vienna and Miler in Minnesota; they used Netty-McNetface software, allowing people to play together online. As with the release by Silva, I have mixed feelings here. I like it when the trio plays sustaining, longer-form sounds, with little bits of improvisation thrown in, such as in the strong opening piece 'L23123'. I enjoyed its drone-based character, slowly broke up. Sometimes the trio is very much in free improvisation land, and that's not where my interest is. The chaos and freedom (whatever you call it) don't work for me, especially when the trumpet takes a more traditional course. I am not as much interested. In the online pieces, I believe the presence of Miller was a little bit better heard, and I think he applies some live sampling. Sometimes the three players have some excellent interaction going together, resulting in some intense music, and at other times, there is just no connection, tension and interaction. Good or bad are irrelevant questions here; you get a clear picture of what this trio does. Quite the variation, indeed. (FdW)
––– Address:
––– Address:


The previous release by Circle Of Shit was reviewed by someone else, even when I am sure I played it a bit. A one-person operation is on Discogs described as "historical revisionism: Finnish noise/experimental/industrial/new musick act/performance/institute/band formed 2011". As often with these sorts of vague descriptions, I have no idea what that "historical revisionism" means in this context. Along with the CD came a lengthy interview with the person behind Circle of Shit (from Special Interests fanzine, 2019), which was quite interesting. Still, the same old talk about shitty equipment, mass murderers and pornography. I like my limited noise dose; one or two per week seems more than enough, and I stay clear of the Harsh Noise Wall music. Circle Of Shit may have a few of those HNW releases, 'Almost There Now' is not among them. Some of this is loud, surely, but not exclusively. Circle Of Shit uses his telephone to capture field recordings, giving them a spin through a crackly guitar amplifier, splicing them with Audacity (free software). The result is rusty, dirty, shouty noise, but not with that moment of quiet unrest. In 'Cherry Pulsus At Night' the listener is standing in the same room as Circle Of Shit, with metallic objects tossed around; it has that direct, in-your-face approach, and somehow it doesn't feel too noisy. Circle Of Shit, at times, cuts down his volume, mixes some voice material, and has almost (!) a reflective piece of music. I am sure that's not what the creator wants to hear. I thoroughly enjoyed this release, as conservative as it sounded. I haven't heard anything in here before, and that's fine. I never expect anything to change in the world of noise music, and this music is simply a homage to the classics; a bit of Whitehouse (but then ripped from a cassette), Ramleh, Con-Dom or even early Neubauten. There is much more thought in this music than is, perhaps, apparent on the surface. That's always a good thing. (FdW)
––– Address:


On my desk is a small book with texts of literary nature that I somehow don't get to for a review. I am not a book reviewer. That 'problem' is also here with the CD by Arash Akbari, and "the project that utilises data sonification, data visualisation, and literature to critique the hidden external effects of the increasing hegemony of computation and automation on life on earth". Poetic interpretations by Chris Doherty-Ingram are part of the lavishly printed booklet. An actual total art project, but the poor music reviewer only knows about one section, the music. The project deals with 'data sonification, data visualisation and literature to critique the hidden external effects of the increasing hegemony of computation and automation on life on earth". Akbari hails from Tehran, Iran, and works with sound generation, field recordings, acoustic instrumentation, digital synthesis, DSP and noise. This new work is all computer-based. Each track deals with data, such as economic inequality 1946-2016, battle-related deaths in state-based conflicts by world region, 1946-2016 or the global average absolute sea level change, 1880-2014. There is a link to find the data for each of these, but my research didn't extend beyond seeing ("the absolute number of global deaths per year as a result of natural disasters, 1900-2018, but you need to sign in. Then I gave up. You wouldn't have guessed all this from listening to the music, which is pretty abstract computer music. I would be interested to know what went into the equation, sound-wise, that is. Does 'To Forget' use the sound of something related to alcohol, for instance? ("share of males versus females suffering from alcohol use disorders, 1990-2017). The resulting music can be enjoyed as a standalone work, and the net result is delicate, atmospherically inspired deep drones. Each of the ten pieces is short and to the point, so the album is lively and varied, not overstaying its welcome. As computer music by itself, without any context, I would think it would not stand very well on its own. The context, with the poetry of Christopher Doherty-Ingram (which I feel I am not qualified to judge) and the story behind the project, made it a gesamtkunstwerk. (FdW)
––– Address:

MIKEL KUEHN - ENTANGLEMENTS (CD by New Focus Recordings)

Sometimes you do wonder about cosmic coincidences, serendipity, morphological fields. For example, here come four new mail-order customers in a row, all from the same country (probably because Discogs is just doing an advertising campaign there?), or maybe you remember exactly the right literature reference you saw recently when discussions bring up a specific topic. And in the case to be discussed here: we have three releases involving soprano vocals - admittedly, all from New Focus and all within Sept/Oct 2022. So maybe no coincidence at all, but a temporary hype?
    Mikel Kuehn only uses a soprano vocalist on the first track of his release 'Entanglements'. Kuehn is a middle-aged composer from the USA with little recorded work, though he has already bagged several awards. His main interest is electronic music, but he manages to twist it by letting the electronics interplay with real-world instruments played in the case of this release by some well-known (e.g. Dan Lippel) and lesser-known artists in duo settings. 'Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird' is the piece that sets soprano versus electronics, played by Kuehn himself. At ten minutes, it is quite a ride through hissing and grumbling electronics, countered by a vocal line modulating through several octaves. The text is cryptic, and it is not really clear what function it has. Nevertheless, the electronics pick up on cue words to paint an aural picture accompanying the storyline as the voice turns from octave-jumping to whispering and more equilibrated singing. Not really my cup of tea, as you might have guessed, as the 'challenging' soprano line serves to show off virtuosity but does little musically.    
    The following pieces contrast logical and less logical duos of instruments: flute and piano, guitar and harp, flute and marimba, electronics and viola, violin and viola, and clarinet and electronics. We find a more conventional approach to classical writing here - with only the pieces with electronics sticking out. However, not all combinations of sound balance equally. Whilst the flute and piano work together surprisingly well, the apparent combination of harp and guitar does not merge as expected. The best pieces remain those with the menacing electronics, 'Blackbird' and 'Colored Shadow', not so much the live electronic processing of the clarinet in 'Rite of Passage'. A mixed bag, I would say, that does not wholly convince me.
    Michael Hersch, like Kuehn also in his Fifties, has a very different approach. Firstly, he explicitly works with the soprano voice of Ah Young Hong; second, he is a much more 'orchestral' composer than Kuehn. 'The Script of Storms' presents two pieces, one in eleven, the other in nine sections. They are performed by Ensemble Klang ('Cortex and Ankle') and the BBC Symphony Orchestra ('The Script of Storms'). 'Cortex' starts with an orchestral pandemonium, followed by several sections of relatively quiet orchestral activity accompanying the vocals. This conjures up a sense of 'Liederabend'. Only in movement five does the orchestra remind itself of its existence and might. After which, the sections continue to be instrumentally relatively quiet, with the vocals and recitals dominating. Text is taken from Christopher Middleton's poetry (1926-2015). As usual, the question arises: why this? What purpose does it serve? Hong twists the piece by not singing the most expressive passages but speaking them. Thus not obliterating meaning by song but simultaneously giving the outstanding parts of the text a more special treatment.
    The second piece, 'Script of Storms', is set to texts of the Iraqi poet Fawzi Karim (1945-2019). And yes, you could have guessed, it is apocalyptic. But, for once, I see the necessity to illustrate these words and give them new life in a musical context. As the horror of recent conflicts evolves through the movements, a memorable section in movement four delivers the 'we would advise you to tremble' followed by an intensely trembling orchestra. We find a more balanced setting between orchestra and voice - the two giving each other cues more explicitly than in 'Cortex'. Hong still meanders between vocalising, singing and declaiming text which helps express the drama - and the orchestra reacts and answers to the lines, helping to further develop the end-of-time mood. Overall a more organic delivery than the Kuehn CD.
    Milton Babbitt is well known for his serial and electronic work. The pieces presented here, though, are neither. Babbitt had a personal interest in poetry and, logically, composed several works for soprano vocals accompanied by the piano. Nina Berman and Steven Beck have collected all these pieces and present a release of soprano-piano duos. The compositions started in 1950, and we find one set roughly every ten years, coincidence or not ... 'The Widow's Lament' is a relatively conventional extension to the 'Lied' concept of Schubert or Schumann. 'Du' is somewhat similar but completely different on the textual side. German expressionist poet August Schramm produced a text around 'Du' (you) and 'Ich' (me) that consists of the increasingly twisted ravings about one person's love for the other (returned or not remains unclear), a lot of which is pure sound poetry. However, although the pieces are built on poetry, much of the text is incomprehensible - which again points to the strenuous link between words and music when not using a 'narrative' - i.e. not composing 'songs' or an opera. This is particularly odd in the piece 'In his own words', a birthday present to composer colleague Mel Powell. The text consists of compiled excerpts of Powell's writings about modern composers, Babbitt and himself. Unfortunately hardly entertaining and is rather artificial.
    The most striking piece in this collection is 'Phonemena' - which is presented in two versions: a duo of soprano and piano and a duo of a soprano with a tape Babbitt had recorded himself. The tape version wins. This brings me to the piano work on this release: it is intricate and beats the vocal performance. Babbitt has developed a style of trickling piano notes that in itself would work just fine without the vocals. I am quite ambivalent about this release, not thinking much of the vocal performance but being quite intrigued by the piano playing. (RSW)
––– Address:

UN CADDIE RENVERSÉ DANS L'HERBE - nighturns (CD by Cellule 75)
MARC RICHTER - MM​∞​XX Vol​.​1 & 2 (CD by Cellule 75)

Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. That's what I thought when I saw the same Un Caddie Renversé dans l'Herbe again, after many years of silnce. I don't know why Didac P. Lagarriga didn't release any music between 2006 and 2022. I reviewed many of his works before, if not all, going by what Discogs lists. One of the labels releasing his music, was Marc Richter's Dekorder label. These days Richter has a new label, Celulle 75, and it's time for another release by Lagarriga. In the intervening years he comverted to the Islam, and started to investigate Africa's spirituality, especially West-Africa. He also pusblished twelve books in Spanish and Catalan, poetry and essays. All of this he works into his music, which is a strange but exciting wild ride of music, atmospheres, chants, electronics bleeps. The result is one of the stranger releases I heard in a while. Inconsistency is my essence, is what the music says to me. Everything is laid out sparsely as each of the eightteen pieces is a miniamlist sketch of a few sounds. Think some chanting, field recording (maybe; or Lagarriga's doing? I don't know), tribal rhytms, but sometimes fed through a synth, adding an alien charcater to the sound. Some kalimba sounds, a mbira, balaphon, flute, spoken word. Imagine a travelogue from Africa, but taking you occasionally outer space. Maybe you can say this is a personal album (aren't all albums personal?), as if the composer took a bunch of snapshots, to be reminded later on of the experience, but back home, it seemed that some of these recordings were corrupted; or if the recordist took the liberty to add some sounds, maybe on the spot, as if an interaction with local musicians. The more I hear this CD, the less I know about it, or understand it. But all the same, I found this a highly fascinating release.
    Marc Richter also has a new work, 'MM​∞​XX Vol​.​1 & 2'. The package leaves you complete the dark what it is. Besides Marc's name, the title, there is a list of thirty-three people mentioned. No titles, no explanation. Also none on the Bandcamp, but my promotional copy came with information. We should see this as Richter's virtual orchestra for the Covid-19 lockdown. He asked friends to send in some sounds, which he freely used in his music. Musical bits, but also conversations, messages, cats, children and toilets. By now we know Richter as someone who likes to lay bricks, a lot of them. Each sound is a brick, big or small is irrelevant, and unlike a bricklayer, Richter carves a story here. One sound goes up in volume, another down, dropping in, maybe random, something very precisly planned. Twenty-one tracks spanning eighty-one minutes (hence two CDs, I guess) and while there are many players on the cover whose name is very familiar, I hardly ever thought, 'oh, this must be so and so'. For once, I dispense with naming the names; it's just an endless, boring read, such cast of names. Richter's love for all things massive and orchestral, is something that shines through the music very well. Isolated sounds, so it seems, is not something he likes, as they are quite rare on this album; 'Chapter Fourteen' is one such quieter moments. But more common is to start with five and build more upon those. From his Black To Comm days Richter takes his love for orchestral drones, erecting a massive wall of sound at times. Hardly ever this results in a cloudy and messy sound. Richter is very good in detailling his sounds, even when they are in very much the same sound range; there is always detail. At times, it sounds like a radio play, musique concrète, electro-acoustic, heavy drones or even the odd step into noise land. All around, great stuff, even when a bit long in the end. (FdW)
––– Address:


Over the years, I received quite a bit of mail from Mathias van Eecloo. He ran Eilean Records and, these days, Laaps Records and Iikki, which publishes books and CDs/LPs. I wasn't aware that he also recorded music as The Three Oldmen's Birds, a name that sounds like an English pub. He uses "a guitar, a drum, a bass, a voice, some electronic devices, many out-of-tune instruments and more". Although it is a solo project, he images it as "an imaginary music alternative/post-rock band with three musicians". Allegedly, the music "took place ten years ago, between 2012 and 2013, as a one-shot". Not sure what that 'one shot' means, though. The photo side of the project is by Belgium-based photographer and graphic designer Simon Vansteenwinckel. His photos are documentary styled, and he took the photos in this book between 2012 and 2022 in Belgium, north of France and the USA. The introduction of the book says that book and CD could be enjoyed together or separately. The photos are all black and white and follow the tracks of the CD. Each of the nine tracks comes with a few photographs. I learned that 'rustine' means 'patch, rubber to repair a bicycle tyre', and many photos deal with cars, tractors and other forms of transportation. I wrongly assumed it meant something like 'rustic', because many of the pictures are from a non-urban environment. The photos are all in black and white and look great. For me, they depict a world I have very little knowledge of.
    The music is quite interesting, especially if one knows the releases by Van Eecloo's labels, which, no doubt, reflect his taste. The focus on traditional instruments isn't strange, but maybe, the way Van Eecloo plays them is a bit rock-like, which is not so usual for his labels. I, too, detected an element of post-rock in his music. A bit laidback, a bit jazzy, a bit improvised, but also, indeed, a bit lo-fi. In that sense, what Van Eecloo had in mind, also worked, I guess. He is quite wild in his approach, from straightforward rock-like tunes to more ambient meanderings, even towards a broken-up rhythm machine dance piece. A lot happens in these forty-seven minutes, and each track opens a new door, another possibility. A great album begs some questions; why did it take so long to release these, and why isn't there more from The Three Oldmen's Birds? (The Bandcamp version includes a few bonus pieces; hurrah) (FdW)
––– Address:


Two new records from Discus Music feature spoken word accompanied by improvised textures. Meson is a loosely assembled collective of improvising from Sheffield, led by poet and writer Bo Meson. Discus Music released several of their albums, each in a partially different lineup but always including Martin Archer. So how was this new album initiated? Meson explains: “It was mid-January, and I learned that Sarah, whose strings I'd admired but never worked with, was leaving Sheffield (and England), and we would have only one chance for a chilly session at 77 Studios with whoever else could make it on the day - this album is the result.” This resulted in the following crew: Peter Rophone and Andy McAuley, both on guitar and noises; Sarah Palmer (cello), Jez Creek (electronica), Martin Archer (saxophones, loops, flute and keyboards) and Bo Meson (voice). The crew spontaneously creates their multi-layered textures to accompany the texts spoken by voice with a slightly electronically treated voice. The atmosphere is overall a little psychedelic and warm. Grooving from time to time. ‘We are not here” is built from noisy and spacey textures. ‘Chronological Quantum Jump’ plays with ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ from the Beatles. Sometimes their improvisations evoke memories of New Wave. The Popgroup popped up, for example.
    The core of the Day Evans Dale Ensemble started about one decade ago with at least one earlier album - ‘Pairing – Poetry and Music’ – released on the Bristol-based Freetone - a label that came about from an initiative by Day and Langford around 2016. On board for their first release for Discus Music are Steve Day (voice, percussion), Peter Evans (5-string electric violin, loops), Julian Dale (double bass, cello), Mark Langford (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, piano) and Jennie Osborne (voice). With Martin Archer (woodwinds, software instruments, harmonica), Charlotte Keeffe (trumpet) and Peter Fairclough (gongs, cymbals, percussion). Writer Day has several books out of his poems and is interested in delivering his poetry live combined with improvisation. His work with the Blazing Flame Quintet is another example of this. It is too easy to say the instrumental improvisations serve as a vehicle or embeddedness of the spoken words by Day and second vocalist Jennie Osborne. Also, the instrumentalists perform and ‘speak’ with distinct voices, as, for example, in the solos by Keeffe, Evans, and Dale demonstrate. This contrasts with the Meson album, which aims for an electronically treated collective sound. Both albums are interesting and very worthwhile in relating poetry and improvisation with one another. (DM)
––– Address:


In Coburg North, Australia, there is a "stormwater drain known as Bell Stairs", where Eamon Sprod and David Prescott-Steed did their recordings. Because of this place's nature, which looks like a crawlspace, the piece had its tile. Below the surface, one can still hear what is happening above, traffic noise and humans. Recordings were made on quiet days and nights and busy days, days with rain and thunder. Because of its hollow space, there is quite an abundance of reverb. Even if one is quiet, the slightest sound bounces around in these tunnels. Sprod and Prescott-Reed went into this space and sometimes deliberately interacted with the space. Out of, no doubt, many hours of recordings, they made a montage/collage of this place. The piece is almost forty-eight minutes long. I found the idea pretty interesting, growing up a long time ago next to one of these entry places (that we never dared to enter), and there is some exciting sound material in this piece, but I am not sure if the total could interest me. There are returning elements of water dripping, and there is walking on the surface, metal scraped around and other highly obscured sounds. This duo uses hard cuts to get from one section to the next and sometimes more subtle fading. Maybe there is also some kind of sound processing going on, but I am not all too sure there. No doubt it is just me, but I had difficulty getting into this. If there is one, the narration is a bit lost, and at times it sounds like a randomly stuck piece of sound events from a tunnel. Indeed not a bad release, just a bit messy and a bit too long. Maybe if the electronic processing that I seemed to hear had a more prominent place, applied to more sounds (perhaps), this could have been a different release, taking the music to another level. (FdW)
––– Address:


Five new releases on the MultiKultilabel based in Poznań, Poland. Three in the Spontaneous Live series, documenting concerts from the Spontaneous Music Festival at the Dragon Social Club in the label's hometown, plus two in the ongoing series documenting the improvisation scene in Portugal. I start with number nine in the Spontaneous Live series. The first piece is a recording of the last set on the first night of last's years Spontaneous Music Festival. It's Guilherme Rodrigues' Red Line Ensemble with the same instruments but played by other musicians. Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, Ostap Mańko on violin, Marcelo Dos Reis on electric guitar, Anna Jędrzejewska on electronics, Wojtek Kurek on drums, Michał Giżycki on bass clarinet, Witold Oleszak on piano and Ostap Mańko on violin. The first piece is a bit over a half-hour long. With this many instruments, many textures can be formed and explored. And that's what happens throughout the piece. Pizzicato passages follow denser parts that are sometimes louder but not that much louder in the strings. It all flows very organically. Right before the end, the preceding apocalyptic mayhem flows into a clarinet melody, taken over by the guitar. The other two pieces are a trio performed on the festival's last night. Anna Jędrzejewska switches to piano, Marcelo Dos Reis switches to acoustic guitar, and Guilhermo Rodrigues stays on cello.
    The trio explores the same ideas as the full ensemble, but on a smaller scale, obviously and a bit more tonally oriented. And percussive sounds are plenty to be heard in all instruments. Really lovely chamber music. The encore is almost five minutes of rollicking, minimal trance-inducing music with a melody in the cello and incessant plucking on the acoustic guitar with steel strings—great finish to an excellent release. Well, the actual end is the applause by the audience.
    On number ten, we find Paulina Owczarek on alto saxophone, Matthias Müller on trombone, Witold Oleszak on piano, and Peter Orins on drums and percussion. Here too, we have musicians who met for the first time on stage; it's the festival's premise. They all played in various duos, but this was the first time as a quartet, and they played two pieces, one lasting half an hour and the second seven minutes. It's quite a ride into texture land, less dense because of the instruments, but with the same intensity. This is chamber jazz with a lot of modern classical music thrown in. Growls in the wind instruments, plucking of piano strings in various octaves, the lowest ones near the end of the first piece.. The second piece sounds like a machine starting up and going into full steam ahead and derailing near the end. A solid set and maybe a bit more surprising than the previous one in this series because of the instrumentation.
    Number eleven is next. Superimpose is a long-lasting duo of Mathias Müller on trombone and Christian Marien on drums and percussion. Slow thumping heartbeat at first in the bass drum and sucking noises in the trombone. This is a well-oiled machine imitating a machine. A flawed machine is letting off steam periodically, forming notes in the long run and even staccato notes, many firing away. The pulse kept going on and on. Two-thirds in, Witold Oleszak joins the duo on piano and Marcelo dos Reis on electric guitar, and the music gets a gamelan-like quality. Again, an excellent release. The four musicians have a great encore of seven minutes, almost like electronic music made in the fifties. Of the three, eleven is my favourite at the moment.
    On the Multi-Kulti mothership, we find 'A Tiny Bell And His Restless Friends'. Don Malfon on Don Malfon,  alto and baritone saxophones, Florian Stoffner,  electric guitar and Vasco Trilla on percussion. It almost sounds electronic in many places if you wouldn't know better. Don Malfon gets unheard-of sounds out of the saxophones, coupled with the string bending of Florian Stoffner and the hyperactive percussive sounds. Vasco Trilla adds it all to make for a great ride in some high-pitched pieces with an electronic quality. Albeit a rather monotonous one, at least if I listen to the release in one sitting. But that is subjective, of course, as all reviews are. The mastery of musicianship is impressive here, and all three add something to the whole that would be different with each musician doing a solo. It all adds up to an original sound world with no accurate comparison available, at least to my knowledge.
    The last new release is The Caldas Concert. Recorded in a church, the one piece on this release is the 'Holy Spirit'. Marcelo dos Reis (guitar, prepared guitar), Álvaro Rosso (double bass), João Valinho (percussion), Albert Cirera (saxophone), and João Almeida (trumpet) conjure up a ghost world employing the sounds they produce. It's an excellent release with a bit of reverb because of the recording location. I like this one a lot. The tension is built up over 48 minutes with sudden outbursts of musical energy.
    All these releases have in common is, I'll use the term again, outstanding musicianship. Each musician brings their background into the fold by creating music of this level on the spot. Whether in a trio formation or a bigger ensemble with electronics. Whatever your pick, you're in for quite a surprise. At least I did. (MDS)
––– Address:


The first time I saw Merzbow in concert, in 1989, during his first European tour, I perceived them as a group. Masami Akita, Reiko A and K. Mizutani (although he arrived a bit later on tour) were a trio, even when Akita already seemed the leading man. Mizutani was present on various Merzbow releases from the 1980s but left in the early 90s. Since there have been several solo releases, not as many as Merzbow, since long Masami's solo vehicle, but that number is hard to surpass. 'Inferior's Betrayal' was first released on cassette in 1994 by Ulcer House. I am sure I heard that one, but not for long. With Merzbow, Mizutani was the guitarist, and I always assumed (but am not sure of) this is also his preferred instrument in solo work, next to sound effects. But, somehow, I also believe he uses field recordings or objects and contact microphones. The first piece, 'A Calm', is such a piece that sounds to me as if he's scraping contact microphones over rusty shovels and feeding that a bunch of sound effects. Interestingly enough, in none of the five pieces, Mizutani sounds like Merzbow, save perhaps for the feedback orgy of 'Parasite'. Sure, there is noise and a bit of feedback, but the main focus is not on that. Mizutani's music sounds like an exploration of acoustic sounds drifting into an electronic world. One could say that this is electro-acoustic music, but Mizutani adds an element of improvisation. All of these tracks are long and could be edited, but I would think endurance is part of the idea. A piece such as 'Composition' sounds like a Fluxus-inspired bang on a can (and plastic bags) and has a collage-like approach more than the four others. I enjoyed this double record, with music I hadn't heard in a long time and reminding me that I should dig out some of his other cassettes; perhaps Ferns will reissue these as well? That would be great. (FdW)
––– Address:


Whoever is behind Relief is not someone who uses many words. Here's what I know; Relief is from Karlsruhe, and 'Coagula' is the second LP, following 'The Gloaming' from 2019. That one had some information, and it says that in 2019  the project was based in the Black Forest in southwest Germany. 'Coagula' has one piece per side. Like the black cover, the titles are also dark; 'The Switching Chosen' and 'The Witches Are Still Singing', which is, I think, a bit odd, given the nature of the music. Not that the music is happy clappy, but all the more serious and, perhaps, even slightly academic. I'd say that the music taps more into electro-acoustic music. I think Relief's music is all made with a computer and software. One senses using many field recordings, but none are easily named. It could be anything, but we no longer know what it is due to the nature of the Relief's processing. The titles are no indication, either. I use the word academic, which may be at the core of the music, and I can undoubtedly see connections to a label such as Empreintes Digitales, but in that sense, Reliefs is also not academic. I would be interested in knowing what Empreintes Digitales would make of this release. Would they see it as part of their sound world, or would they be rejected because they are not academic enough? I don't know. I think that Relief uses more freedom in exploring his sounds, going through a broader range and having developments happening quicker in his music. At times, this is quite some intense music, and it works very well for me. Evocative dark music, some excellent sound processing is going on and, perhaps, exactly the kind of crossroad release between serious academic music and lowercase electro-acoustic/laptop/glitch (you don't have to call that if the term shocks you), that I enjoy most. Maybe a bit more context would be helpful, but for all I know, the mystery is cherished here. (FdW)
––– Address:


Another lathe cut 7", part of this year's Ballast series of 7"s in an edition of twenty-six copies. The bonus is a DVDR with two short movies for these pieces this time. The videos are by Matthew Revert, with whom Rossetto worked before. In the past, I reviewed some work by her, even if I thought her last release was a bit long (Vital Weekly 1223). No such thing here on a 7", of course. Both pieces are around six minutes. Mysterious music, if I'm honest. On side A, we find the title piece; on the other side, there is 'Ordinary Time'. Field recordings are clearly a starting point, and my best guess is that these are made 'round the house'. Maybe some recordings in the kitchen or bathroom, but also recordings that are way less easy to trace. My criticism before was that the music told a story but that this story took too much time. I'd say there is a story here too, but perhaps it's told in a hurry? I know I am not easily pleased. The movies didn't explain much more, but that's the beauty of it. As much as I know about all things film, I'd say these two movies were highly surrealistic. As was with the music, these two clips consist of overlaying elements. Especially 'The Year' had a surrealist touch, almost in a Bunuel/Dali way, with a knife-wielding (no eyes poked out), whereas 'Ordinary Time' has a 'found footage' sort of ambient feel to it. I would also love for it to be a bit longer here. Maybe Ballast should consider doing a 10" next year? There's a thought. (FdW)
––– Address:


As if to indicate that the music differs from his usual work as Machinefabriek, Rutger Zuydervelt uses his own name for these two releases. Both are free downloads. 'Hinkelstap' comes as a tote bag with a QR code guiding you to the music, and 'Tuimelval' is a lovely 3" CDR in a small black digipack. Twelve pieces of music spread over these two discs, and they all originate in Zuydervelt's now extensive catalogue of applied works. Zuydervelt's work may be less visible in the weekly, as he's busy working on soundtracks for games, podcasts, television series, and choreography. As with applied music, sometimes the idea is excellent, but only a tiny bit is used. Or only a small bit is made, but it can be a great song by itself. That notion inspired Zuydervelt to rework these twelve tunes, with no names (nor does he tell us which videogame, podcast etc., the original is part of), into good songs. If you think this will be more of Machinefabriek's long-form approach, drones and such, then you will be in for a surprise, I should think. Zuydervelt created twelve pieces of rhythmic, electronic music in the best tradition of Boards Of Canada, early Autechre, or, in fact, much of what Warp Records released at the turn of the century. Music that, I readily admit, thought to be quite interesting at the time but to which I hardly returned after a while. As far as I remember, I think it all became too much of a template for me at a certain point. After not hearing this music for many years, I enjoyed it again. I hear the template of the sound, but now it's no longer a burden for me, and it sounds as fresh as it did when I first heard it. Thirty minutes of great fun. Bumpy rhythms, small melodies, some different angles. And at fifteen minutes per release, all of these tracks are short and to the point. That was sometimes different in the old days. Lovely stuff. (FdW)
––– Address: