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!
Listen to the
podcast on Mixcloud!
THORSTEN SOLTAU - GEWÄCHSE IM ZWIELICHT (CD by SYM) *
FRANCISCO LOPEZ & DANIEL MENCHE - SACRIFICED PHLOEM (ZANNEC LINE) (CD by SYM) *
JOÃO CASTRO PINTO - FAUX NATUREL (CD by Unfathomless) *
ANNA KALUZA & CELINE VOCCIA & MATTHIAS BAUER – ACM (CD by Aut Records) *
MARTIN PYNE & DAVID BEEBEE – RIPPLES (CD by Discus Music) *
GUILHERME RODRIGUES - ACOUSTIC REVERB (CD by Creative Sources Recordings)
VOLKMAR KLIEN & MAHD - CAPITAL MUST ACCUMULATE, IT'S A LAW OF NATURE (CD by Loewenhertz) *
ANTHONY BRAXTON & JAMES FEI - DUET (CD by Other Minds Records)
DAS SYNTHETISCHE MISCHGEWEBE - GREASER IN THE GHOST HOME (CD by Tribe Tapes) *
GERSTEIN - THE DEATH OINTMENT (CD by Tribe Tapes) *
DEAF LIONS - EINE NACHT (cassette by Tribe Tapes)
THREADS ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK - REVEALS NEW FACE (cassette by Tribe Tapes) *
SUNSWEPT SUNDAY - HALFWAY TO DAWN (CD by Ma Records) *
FREEK DEN HARTOGH - CANDOR (CD by No Can Do Music)
PHILIPP SCHAUFELBERGER & PIERRE FAVRE - DECAMERON (LP by Wide Ear Records) *
LIMINAL HAZE - VOLUME 6 (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings) *
KM: - VINYL (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings) *
PRESSURE COOKER RELIEF VALVE - TWO PIECES FOR UNPREPARED GUITAR (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings) *
RAOUL VAN HERPEN - ANCHOR BREATH (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
ORPHAX/PHIL MAGUIRE - RIMPELS/(SANG IN THE WET TREES) (cassette by Chitin Press)
ONUR ŻŁOBNICKI - 355/113 (cassette by Fluxus MT) *
DEVELOPER / LUER (split cassette by Fluxus MT) *
NOW DAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC label review; part 2:
ROEL MEELKOP - 2 (LIVES) (90 minute DAT) *
CALINECZKA - FOUNDATIONS, CRACKING (120 minutes DAT) *
MODELBAU - ANNEX ANNUM (120 minutes DAT) *
ORPHAX - HET CONGLOMERAAT (34 minutes DAT) *
HOWARD STELZER - WE ALL ARE (48 minutes DAT) *
COAGULANT - ABSTRACTION IN THREE DIMENSIONS (60 minutes DAT) *
RICK SANDERS - DRONES (90-minutes DAT) *
NŸLAND/SCHEERLING - TWEIDUSTER (60 minute DAT) *
THORSTEN SOLTAU - GEWÄCHSE IM ZWIELICHT (CD by SYM)
FRANCISCO LOPEZ & DANIEL MENCHE - SACRIFICED PHLOEM (ZANNEC LINE) (CD by SYM)
There are two new releases on the still-fresh SYM imprint from the good house of Drone Records. Listening to the Thorsten Soltau release, I realize that I reviewed some of his music over the years, but I still have little idea what it is about. I may even have started an earlier review along similar lines. It's still true. His latest offering consists of two pieces, 'Gewächse im Zwielicht' (which means 'Growths in the twilight'), which consists of four parts, and 'An End. And One Another'. The cover has quite an impressive list of instruments (voice, kanteel, kalimba, hangdrum, ocarina, bowed guitar, vinyl) and also electronics; it's always great to see the mentioning of Argeiphontes Lyre, one of the more esoteric pieces of software. In the final piece, he also worked with a small choir and was commissioned for an installation at 'De Groen', in The Netherlands. The installation was a space, a sound system and cushions. In his music, Soltau uses elements from drone music, ambient, laptop processing and electro-acoustic music. Music with a reflective character quietly unfolds, and these pieces have a refined sense of unhurriedness. Soltau plays the slow card, yet these pieces are not static. Something is happening at any time, and everything is constantly shifting. In both pieces, voices play an essential role. It adds a slightly solemn character to the pieces, more to the second than the first. In the first, the voices are more isolated, singing without words, and Soltau stretches his sounds a little. Thus we get a nifty interaction between 'real' sounds and delicate electronically processed versions. There isn't a lead for any of these as they intertwine. One sound move to the foreground, then, perhaps, another moves in through the back door, and before you know it, it takes a more prominent role. Through the solemn veil, the music has a dramatic character and is akin to an abstract radio play. One of a more surrealist nature.
The fourth release on SYM is by two composers with careers spanning decades. One more decade for Francisco Lopez than Daniel Menche, and when it comes to releases, I believe Lopez comes out on top (not that it is a game). I reviewed a considerable amount of music from both, but especially from Lopez, a lot less in recent years. I have no idea why this is; maybe his music is more in the digital domain. Perhaps gathering reviews is no longer important. According to the cover, the music took about twenty years to get the shape it has now. Menche delivers the raw sound material, and Lopez processes it on his computer; his 'Mobile Messor' studio always comes with the name of a city, so wherever his laptop is, it is his temporary workspace. He worked in nine different cities on music. With Menche delivering input and Lopez at the controls, I'd say the results are more in the latter's style. These days, Lopez works a lot with software to alter sounds radically so that none of the original input is in any form to be recognized. Unlike his earliest work, Lopez no longer plays too much with something near silent; au contraire, his music can sometimes be very loud. A Phloem, in case you are wondering, "is the part of plants that transports organic compounds = photosynthates". That is an interesting notion, as the music conjured no images of plants or such. I was thinking more along the lines of space music. Deep space rumble, if you will, an empty vessel travelling through a ditto space. Just buzzing and whirring. The music had a somewhat alien aspect to it for me, that is. In the part where it got all out of control (around forty minutes), I thought the ship cracked, and in the end, there is just space itself. One piece, fifty-plus minutes of great music. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.dronerecords.de/
JOÃO CASTRO PINTO - FAUX NATUREL (CD by Unfathomless)
All releases by this label (getting close to eighty now) are based on field recordings—many of these from one place. Pinto is the oddball, maybe, as he has recordings from Alhandra, Amarante, Cascasi, Coimbra, Geneva, Lisboa, Liverpool, Manchester, Tallinn and Tomar. He uses "geophonies (waterscapes, ocean, rivers, ponds, lakes), biophonies (birds, insects, dogs), anthropophonies (voices), and anthropogenic noise (assorted vehicles, dock platforms, fences)". Pinto works with these recordings, "editing, digital sound processing, and electronic synthesis". I thought that was an interesting list, both places and techniques. Because most of the time, it didn't sound like all too processed but rather a collage of field recordings. I know these aren't from one place, but I would have guessed from listening to this music; these locations don't always match. I like the bold move of not using sounds from a single place but using what is believed is necessary for a piece to work. Whereas last week's Unfathomless release seemed to fail to convince me, I believe Pinto does a great job in these eight pieces, that act as one long piece of music. His processing is just enough, his sound choice is excellent, and his editing is superb. The soundscape takes you from nature into the city, and from then, it slowly alienates the listener. The final piece seems removed from reality and is a distant hum. I am told that Pinto works with surround sound installation pieces, and I can imagine that it works very well with this kind of delicate music based on field recordings. Also, in 'just' stereo, Pinto knows how to create tension and atmosphere. An excellent release. (FdW)
––– Address: https://unfathomless.bandcamp.com/
ANNA KALUZA & CELINE VOCCIA & MATTHIAS BAUER – ACM (CD by Aut Records)
Anna Kaluza (alto sax), Céline Voccia (piano), and Matthias Bauer (double bass) are three Berlin-based musicians who first met for a musical encounter a few days before the Corona lockdown. They had to postpone their first concert, which eventually took place just after the lockdown. Subsequently, they received a fund from the Berlin senate, which enabled them to make a professional recording that Aut Records have now released. The name of veteran Matthias Bauer, who specializes in new music and improvisation, may ring a bell, as he participated in several collaborations, we spoke of here. His companions, however, are new to me. Anna Kaluza studied jazz saxophone in Cologne and mainly worked in free improvisation and Free Jazz. She participated in the London Improvisers Orchestra during her stay in London. Back in Berlin, she established the Berlin Improvisors Orchestra and is involved in numerous collaborations. Celine Voccia studied classical piano at the Geneva Conservatory. Followed by studies of jazz and improvised music in Paris and Berlin. In her work as an improviser, she integrates classical piano technique and influences by composers such as Oliver Messiaen and Toru Takemitsu that inspire her. She has her trio with Jan Roder (bass) and Michael Griener (drums) and performs with musicians like Michel Doneda, Olaf Rupp, Harri Sjöström and Elo Masing in diverse collaborations. Listening to ‘ACM”, it is soon evident that they shape their improvisations in many different ways, with many variations in dynamics, colouring, timbres, playing techniques, etc. In the opening track, they all seem to play seemingly independently from one another. But they talk with one other and create a complex and organic exchange. Some improvisations, especially the ones with sax and bass in the leading role, develop modestly. Voccia often makes the most use of extended techniques, sometimes playing the inside of the piano. Most pronounced is her performance in the opening section of the fourth improvisation. I tend to call it chamber music because of her style. Compared to her style, Bauer and Kaluza play closer to jazz, with compassionate moments like the performance by Kaluza in the eighth improvisation. They truly exercise group improvisation as a trio, offering many complex and captivating movements and moments. A lot to discover here! (DM)
––– Address: https://www.autrecords.com/
MARTIN PYNE & DAVID BEEBEE – RIPPLES (CD by Discus Music)
Martin Pyne is a composer and improviser. The vibraphone is his primary instrument as a performer, but he also plays drums and percussion. He performs solo, leads his quartet and is engaged in varied collaborations, for example, in contemporary dance. With his quartet, he released a second album this year: ‘A New Pavan’, featuring his compositions. The album was recorded and mixed by David Beebee. Beebee is a British musician and composer who plays piano, keyboards, bass guitar, double bass and cello. Besides, he runs a recording studio especially suited for recording acoustic jazz. He writes music for big bands, small bands and film. Last year he released ‘Gaya’, which has a nine-piece band of young performers playing his compositions. Earlier this year, a release – ‘Picasso’s Pipe’ – offered an overview of his works between 1995 and 2007. Both played earlier together in the Jacqui Hicks Quintet. So far, a bit on their backgrounds. With ‘Ripples’, they present their first duo effort. It has Pyne playing the vibraphone and Beebee Fender Rhodes electric piano. In the hands of Beebee and Pyne, these two instruments work out very well. This is demonstrated in their spun-out duets of reflective and relaxed jazz-inspired tunes. Often in a lyrical style like the first two works on this release – ‘Makin the Point’and ‘Wabi Sabi’ - respectively composed by Pyne and Beebee. Most works are free improvisations and evolve in a calm and harmonic atmosphere. Nonetheless, a lot is happening in their well-proportioned and subtle interplay. And I especially liked the deep sound and sonorities of the Fender Rhodes that beautifully converges with the sound qualities of the vibraphone. (DM)
––– Address: https://discus-music.co.uk/
GUILHERME RODRIGUES - ACOUSTIC REVERB (CD by Creative Sources Recordings)
Thank god for churches, and that is a pun intended. Where would improvisers go and find natural reverb if there were no churches? That somewhat silly remark came to me while listening to Guilherme Rodrigues' latest offering, 'Acoustic Reverb'. From May to October 2022, he and his cello stayed in Berlin, and he went to eleven different churches to record no less than fifty-eight pieces of music. The shortest is twenty-nine seconds, and the longest is three minutes and eighteen seconds. The average length is about one-a-half minutes. The pieces are grouped by the church in which Guilherme recorded the music, but perhaps, strangely enough, the acoustic doesn't seem to change that much. The St. Christophorus Kirche had more natural reverb than the Christuskirche, but that's it. The disc's entire length is eighty minutes, which is quite long. Too long to hold my interest anyway. The introspective sound of the cello, Rodrigues' fairly regular playing and the relatively short pieces made this quite a tiring release at one point. I enjoyed his improvised playing for the first thirty minutes, not paying too much attention but enjoying it as an early evening backdrop. Then, I got up from my comfy chair, the volume increased, and I started to flex my muscles to write something. By then, I was halfway through this CD, thinking, do I need more? The idea is clear; a solo acoustic instrument in a big space playing short pieces. Do I need more? At this point, I don't (and yes, I am all too aware that one doesn't need to play a CD in its complete form). It is not bad, but like with any good dish, it gets better because there is not too much of it. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.creativesourcesrec.com/
VOLKMAR KLIEN & MAHD - CAPITAL MUST ACCUMULATE, IT'S A LAW OF NATURE (CD by Loewenhertz)
'Capital must accumulate - It's a law of nature' is what it says on the cover of this CD. Only when you read in the smaller print, do you find Wientaler Dreigesang, mahd, Volkmar Klien, John Barker, Ines Doujak and Gerald Nestler as the names.
Anyone? me neither. And it takes some digging around to learn more about this music's background. None of these artists seems to have much of a trace, bar mahd. mahd is a duo of Volkmar Klien and Hannes Loeschel, both middle-aged (and thus experienced) electronic/ contemporary classical/ experimental composers from Austria. Here we find links to Extraplatte, a now sadly defunct label from Austria that focused on experimental, electronic, jazz, folk and contemporary classical music, with a decisive edge on politically engaged releases. Loewenhertz, the label this CD was published on, seems to have a close link to Hannes Loeschel, as many of their releases feature him. Searching on Wikipedia and duckduckgo then reveals another connection: Ines Doujak and John Barker. They are responsible for a lot of the lyrics. They have worked together since 2010 on art installations, podcasts, and publications, so nothing really musical.
Most of the music is a capella. It starts with a very Austrian-sounding folk music feel - completely contrasting with the words 'Capital must accumulate, that's a law of nature'. The third piece, 'Cholera', sounds a little more like English 1920/30's popular music, and only in the first interlude does any musical instrument appear for the first time - an electronic piece of mahd. Decidedly noise/drone/ambient/electronic/industrial. Then we get a sort of Alpen Jodler (not quite) whit a guitar backing, after which music only rarely features in the following pieces, and practically never as accompaniment. It is mainly concentrated in the three short interludes. The singing is halfway between Alpen and English folklore, which also sets you thinking about these similarities - I must say I have never observed this before.
You could consider 'Capital' a kind of 'mini opera' or song cycle. Which it is probably intended to be. Expectations are set on a Marxist rant on capitalism, but reading the lyrics leaves you a bit bemused. You think you understand the 'Capital' bit, but the rest is very cryptic. There is some mention of vaccines, of jabs, of being rich but paying no taxes, of wanting to be fed love, technology, and money; otherwise, you will feel rage and fury. And a final verbatim piece is drawn from a court case filed by Haim Bodek, attacking abusive financial market procedures. It is all very implicit and seems to only work when you have the same background as the authors or at least know about their background and thinking. Actually there is no steer on whether this is simply word-smithery, has a political background, or even a political objective. Only when you look up Ines Doujak's work (partly with John Barker) can you understand what she is about. She has extensively worked on how pandemics and diseases spread with globalisation, not even much to do with Covid, as the globalisation she addresses starts with the European colonisation of the world from the 16th century onwards. And Gerald Nestler (it doesn't help that names are misspelt on this release) is a (young) researcher into financial markets and innovation.
All in all, this release can be considered a rather biting and vitriolic commentary on capitalism and the state of the world. It can also be considered more of a meta-analysis, stepping back and matter-of-fact analysing the state of things, for the sake of criticism, without offering a positive alternative: 'I hate to say I told you so', such as a lot of Baudrillard's writing, no matter how revealing and precise in analysis it is. I am not sure exactly which of the two variants this release is. Just for the sake of listening, it is a hilarious and highly enjoyable piece of music. I also wonder how all these people got together and produced this release. Unfortunately, there was no hype sheet with the CD. You do wish more such releases were produced to support the quest for positive alternatives and change, though. Well, living in England much of your time, you just get increasingly desperate for such change... (RSW)
––– Address: http://www.loewenhertz.at/
ANTHONY BRAXTON & JAMES FEI - DUET (CD by Other Minds Records)
This has been sitting in my inbox for (only) some weeks, but it seems to be a 2021 release. At least it says so on the cover. Anthony Braxton, now well into his seventies, hardly needs an introduction. He has been a firm part of the jazz scene since the 1960ies and increasingly became part of the new music, contemporary classical, free music field - at least that is how I perceived him in the 1980/90ies, somehow more connecting him to the UK music than the USA, for some strange reason. He composes across woodwinds (saxophone and clarinet), between sopranino and contrabass variants, and the piano, with many of his pieces, only carrying numbers or even graphical images as titles (we see one on this disc, but it also has a number: 'Composition 429').
The CD only contains one track, exactly that composition, 42 minutes long. We hear two saxophones (sopranino through alto to baritone) and electronics, played/controlled by Braxton. I have not followed all of Braxton's work, some of which I found tedious, but I have always marvelled at the consequence of his work and the consistent context he creates. James Fei, on the other hand, also a saxophone player and composer, has a long-standing history of working with Braxton and playing in his ensembles. It is often more than that; he also signs for technical and background activities, such as writing the liner notes, which can be pretty intimate.
The music is fascinating to listen to. Here are two older men who know exactly what they are doing. No annoying free music noodling. Of course, the music is composed, so the close-knit interplay is not all coincidental. But when you see the photographs in the booklet, you understand that this was a relaxed and intense public live recording. The electronics mix into the background, not fully precise regarding their contribution. It is mostly a sine tone phasing in and out, changing pitch, and rarely taking on a more 'ambient industrial' Vidna Obmana feel. The saxophones, changing pitch from time to time (both Braxton and Fei play three different ones across the recording), deliver a tight duet playing, moderately using the more unusual sounds you can create with wind instruments, creating breath-like and overblown sounds. The long piece is divided into several sections, sometimes defined by short silences - potentially to swap instruments - and thus does not tire the listener. Every section has its dramaturgy of rising and abating musical lines. There is little more to add than a fascinating listen. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.otherminds.org/
DAS SYNTHETISCHE MISCHGEWEBE - GREASER IN THE GHOST HOME (CD by Tribe Tapes)
GERSTEIN - THE DEATH OINTMENT (CD by Tribe Tapes)
DEAF LIONS - EINE NACHT (cassette by Tribe Tapes)
THREADS ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK - REVEALS NEW FACE (cassette by Tribe Tapes)
In some ways, Tribe Tapes remind me of the sadly no longer existing Monochrome Vision label. They both tap into the world of 80s cassette artists, re-issuing old works, but when one of the oldies has a new thing on offer, there is also room for that. Tribe Tapes does the same thing as these new releases proof. First, there is Guido Hübner's Das Synthetisches Mischgewebe, which has been around since 1982. It is curious to see that Hübner still holds onto his 'band' name, even when it is since long not a band anymore (unlike so many of his peers settling for the Christian names as serious composers). For many years, Hübner has had an interest in working with acoustic objects and musique concrète techniques. For 'Greaser In The Ghost Home', there is a somewhat cryptic note, putting forward the date of March 2020, and "Time to kill, a couple worn out cassette players with inside speaker knowing every playback speed, except the right one. A bunch of cassettes from decades ago. Neighbours as I always desired them to be, far away. Here is what one can come up with in such a situation. Fits me well," I read as Hübner uses his Covid lockdown time to go through many old tapes and create something with that. On the three tracks on this CD, there aren't a lot of musique concrète techniques, I think. No granular synthesis or reel-to-reel machines, or perhaps not a lot of those; maybe most of these are in 'Intermezzo', which is the shortest of the three pieces and (duh) in the middle. Instead, Hübner layers an endless amount of acoustic sounds and finds a dialogue. Sometimes he fiddles around with the speed of the machine (I tend to think it's his old four-track cassette machine), creating strange effects on the perception of time. One never has an idea what these objects are that Hübner uses. Three intense collages and, at fifty-five minutes, a bit long, but that's perhaps because it's not easy listening to music. The only point of reference I could see is with Kapotte Muziek, the live trio and then at their quiet times (about fifteen years ago); Hübner occasionally records with Roel Meelkop (of a.o. Kapotte Muziek), so there is a connection there. Quite compelling stuff here.
I will be honest here, Gerstein's music eluded me in the 80s. I know I heard it a few times, but I also know I wasn't blown away by it. This new CD collects two cassettes. The first is 'The Death Posture', Gerstein's debut cassette, from 1987, Broken Flag and 'La Pomata Delle Femmine', from 1989 on Bekko Bunsen. Subsequently, those tapes were re-issued by Slaughter Productions in 1996 and 2006 by Purity Records. I am sure the reason to stick these together on CD is a desire to release the two the labels love. Maurizio Pustianaz is not your typical mid to late-80s Italian industrial music troublemaker. For one, he knows how to play an instrument, and his instruments don't consist of one monophonic synth and some sound effects. When I started with this CD, there was a flicker of recognition. The opera-styled vocals that I, wrongly as it turned out, assumed were what Gerstein was all about. Luckily it isn't and, maybe also luckily, the music isn't that much of industrial music, but more of all things 'magikal' and 'ritualistik'; stuff that is also in abundance in the Italian underground of that time. There is a lot of drama in the music, primarily instrumental, and Gerstein is much more varied than many of his peers. Maybe we can put that down to him playing instruments? There are many piano, guitar and rhythm machines, along with a rudimentary use of sound effects. At times charmingly naive (some of this Gerstein recorded when he was 17), but with some great flair and style. Whatever my memory said, I was wrong.
Like Gerstein, I must have heard Deaf Lions' music before, and I believe in compilations and a collaboration with PBK, but I forgot all about it. Today I learned that behind Deaf Lions was T.S. Vickers, active in the late 80s/early 90s. He released a couple of tapes on his Stolen Art Productions imprint, and after ending the project, he moved to Fukushima. Since then, he's been off the map. 'Eine Nacht' contained his final recordings and was never before released, but now appears in a remastered form by PBK. According to the information, Vickers worked with "digital sampling techniques, Roland Juno compositions, and reel-to-reel tape loops". The music is fairly typical of its time. Rudimentary loops of jackhammers, distorted effects, machine sounds, drones and maybe the most surprising thing, there are a few guitar sounds in here as well. Also of its time is that some of these pieces are a tad too long to hold the interest for the entire duration, especially from the more repetitive loop area. Deaf Lions' in a more drone mode, 'First Light Of Dawn' or 'Stolen Love', is more interesting, crude as the drones may be, than some of the somewhat overlong rhythm pieces. I doubt if any of the older Deaf Lions cassettes can easily be found, but this cassette is a fine reminder or introduction.
I heard of Paul D. Knowles, mainly through his noise project Dachise. That was some time ago. He sometimes works as The Digitariat and, so we now know, as Threads Original Soundtrack, which is described as his current alias. 'Reveals New Face' is his debut release under this moniker, so it is a well-chosen title. As Dachise is, for me, a thing from a distant past, but I remember it as a fairly noisy project. Noise is also the keyword for Threads Original Soundtrack, loud and raw. However, the music isn't your typical harsh noise wall release, as Knowles throws in quite a chaotic barrage of sound. Look at this endless stream of sounds like you would look at a wild stream of mud: you see no detail and hear no detail. That is the same thing with the three pieces on this cassette. 'Oil Boring Flood', the shortest of the three, is also the most minimal piece, offering little variation. 'Shoulderblade Extensions' sounds almost like a live recording, with a repeating twang stuck in a short loop played over a big stack of speakers. Here Threads Original Soundtrack goes for a more traditional approach with 80s power electronics. Thirty-four unrelentless minutes. That's the noise portion for this week. (FdW)
––– Address: https://tribetapes.bandcamp.com/
SUNSWEPT SUNDAY - HALFWAY TO DAWN (CD by Ma Records)
As we are not a jazz publication but a publication that sometimes writes about jazz, we sadly receive too many jazz releases. With the advantage of age, I know old geezers like myself tune into the world of jazz because "I heard the rest already", but I am the one staying behind. If you dedicate your music to Duke Ellington and then think it's a good idea to send this to the place where noise, drone and ambient are the common ground, you can expect a review that goes like this: At Vital Weekly, we have little idea about the music of Duke Ellington or jazz music, so the duo Sunswept Sunday may have performed the man's most-known piece, and we wouldn't know. They opted for his lesser-known ones. The duo is Daniel Kartmann on drums, hackbrett and cornetto and Torsten Papenheim on guitar, melodica and percussion. They approach the pieces differently; "sometimes a melodic motif provides the initial spark; sometimes it's particular groove; elsewhere it's the mood of the piece its title". That made me think that knowing these are Ellington pieces is not as important. I liked the opening piece, 'Come Sunday' (I only the 7" by Come that had a song with that title; I am sure this duo have not heard. Worlds apart), which reminded me a bit of post-rock when it all became a bit jazzy. In other pieces, the jazz element became more vigorous, with Karlmann playing his brushes and Papenheim following suit (and maybe wearing one). I found the album not great, not bad, but in the end, a bit too much of the same thing, except for the piece which gave the duo its name, and here the cornetto plays an important role. Not my kind of music. I am sure it is all great, but it is also too much outside our world. (FdW)
––– Address: https://marecords.bandcamp.com/
FREEK DEN HARTOGH - CANDOR (CD by No Can Do Music)
Second odd one out in this week’s Vital Weekly. Crowdfunded CD by musician and composer for theatre productions, Freek den Hartogh, it’s twenty-four hours captured in music. Freek den Hartogh on synths, piano and vocals. Arend Niks, drums, bass guitar and synth solo, Andreas Suntrop on guitar and Jan van Duikeren on flugelhorn. You can hear some nice music on this disc in less than half an hour. Pop music with some nice chord progressions. My favourite is 'Deep Blue', which almost incessantly repeats D in the piano, a bit like the B in 'Gaspard de la nuit' by Ravel. But as I said, it’s odd for Vital Weekly. There are more suitable places that are more proficient in reviewing this kind of music. (MDS)
––– Address: https://freekdenhartogh.nl/
PHILIPP SCHAUFELBERGER & PIERRE FAVRE - DECAMERON (LP by Wide Ear Records)
Philipp Schaufelberger is a Swiss guitarist who has been around the Swiss jazz scene for the past 25 years. But more than that, he has played continuously with Dewey Redman, Harald Haerter, and especially with Pierre Favre, a Swiss musician, a jazz drummer, and 15 years Schaufelberger senior. We find them in their third joint release, recorded live in Kunstraum Walcheturm in Zurich in 2019 and Uster in 2020.
With a 'duo' live recording, the intensity of interplay and coordination will be key to the joy of the listening experience. Interestingly, the accompanying hype card says, 'There are no pieces .. to be heard.' You need to read twice to understand that this does not refer to the music being unlistenable but to the five tracks on the record not being 'pieces', with a beginning, a dramatic development, and an end. Aha, noodling? Not quite. Schaufelberger limits himself to the 'picking' and 'clean' electric guitar sounds. A high risk, exposing the music to the pointillistic possibilities percussion and guitar will now offer. Every moment counts, and the responses of the two artists to their playing will define the listener's joy in following their improvisations around. And across the flow of sound, you do find moments of exploration into various styles, a brief country-style lick resulting in a 15-second excursion into a country groove, for instance, having the listener smile. And overall, it is astounding how the two musicians manage to interlace their playing, though, as said, there is no relying on 'sound layers' that would allow you to lean back and 'let the music flow'. A big effort to play this kind of music live.
This is music that slowly needs to grow on you. The first listen may actually disappoint, but then it becomes increasingly rewarding to discover all the small interactions in the flow of improvisation. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.wideearrecords.ch/
LIMINAL HAZE - VOLUME 6 (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings)
KM: - VINYL (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings)
PRESSURE COOKER RELIEF VALVE - TWO PIECES FOR UNPREPARED GUITAR (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings)
There is something straightforward about Liminal Haze that I like. Each new release is the following number to 'Volume', and each track is numbered with Roman numerals. So, on 'Volume 6' we find 'XXII', 'XXIII' and 'XVIV'. Liminal Haze hails from the North of England and is a duo of Craig Stewart Johnson & Ross Scott-Buccleuch. Both are also engaged in solo projects; Johnson under his own name and Rovellasca and Scott-Buccleuch as Diurnal Burdens. Liminal Haze is a. well-chosen name, I think. I have no idea how the music is generated, so I am merely guessing here, but I think this is process-based music. Music in a constant form of transition. A long reel-to-reel loop that gets new information all the time, and simultaneously the tape wears out. That's how I view their process, and I think Liminal Haze is the appropriate term for it. Maybe I am all wrong. This is a prime example if there being such a thing as lo-fi ambient music. In the world of Liminal Haze, everything goes very slowly, and one could even think there is hardly any development at all in the music. There is some synth at work, sound effects, a reel-to-reel machine (or maybe even more than one), and field recordings. In 'XXIV', the most extended piece, there are also more developments than in the other two pieces, as slowly, another sound slips in through the backdoor. By then, the music had faded considerably and moved somewhere else. Three excellent parts by an excellent group. They don't have many releases, which is, maybe, sad, but it also adds to the mystery of this duo. Less is good, and wait for the next one started; I went back to the first five, creating more longing for 'Volume 7'.
From Osaka, Japan hails km:, as the preferred spelling goes. He's active since 2011, playing music, organising events and playing in bands such as "matsuri, SOGASHI, Tablabongu, starry night come again, topos, mulusie, ▽◁▷, Tablabongo Kansai, ELECTRONICOS FANTASTICOS! | Kyoto Orchest-Lab". I never heard of any of these. 'Viny' is his third album, and he plays classical guitar, Casiotone, music boxes, cassette tapes, noises and field recordings. I think there might also be a firm dash of computer processing somewhere. I might be wrong. Throughout these seven pieces, there is a delicate feeling in this music, vulnerable music. A few guitar notes, some sine waves sounds, or the tidal waves of the sea (the two latter coming together in 'Base'), and then some more flageolets on the guitar. All of this mildly spiced with a lingering drone in the background. I was reminded of early Stephan Mathieu, or Fennesz, should he ever pick up the guitar a bit more. A very retro sound, but maybe this kind of ambient music is due to a revival. Longer bits shift slowly around, creating longer but most definitely never boring music. This is moody, atmospheric music. The ambience is the keyword here. Going back and forth between the guitar and a more continuous drone sound, km: has a nicely varied mood music album. I thought it to be excellent; I will investigate this musician more.
The final release is the shortest one, twenty minutes. This release is by someone who hits guitars in his room and is labelled "as more of a platform for electro-acoustic experimentation", than about the guitar itself. There are indeed two pieces of this unprepared guitar, but also a third one, a collage of sounds from York. In his guitar pieces, Pressure Cooker Relief Valve takes mostly an improvising approach, touching, bowing, scraping the string, and adding a bit of reverb here and there. Not bad, not great. This can also be said of his collage of field recordings. It all left me a bit indifferent, even after repeated hearings. (FdW)
––– Address: https://kirigirisurecordings.bandcamp.com/
RAOUL VAN HERPEN - ANCHOR BREATH (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)
More music from fellow countryman Raoul van Herpen. I reviewed some of his releases before, but I don't think I know much about him. He writes that his new album is about "natural acoustics and psycho-acoustics", including the sound of breathing, and scraping, "surrounded by textures, particles bouncing, dancing, and singing off of each other". Although he intended to create an acoustic feel for this music, he only used electronic instruments; the analogue (DIY) Serge synthesizer and a digital Max-patch filled with pure sine tones". Also mentioned is that the work does something physical (head and body), "whether you like it or not". According to the instructions, I set the volume to a comfortable level in the first ten seconds (I love an instruction like that!) and sat back to listen. The promised "something special" didn't really happen for me, not that I noted anyway, consciously. Van Herpen is working with a noisier sound than before, so maybe there is something to notice that the trained noise ear easily missed out upon. This noisy side of Van Herpen is one that I like very much. There is a robust, almost physical approach to the music here. The looped breathing (not all electronic then?) of the title piece, the sharpish tones of 'Inhale', in which I don't think I heard any voices, the sine and sawtooth waves piercing away. It never becomes too loud, not in the true sense of noise music, as Van Herpen cleverly intertwines with moments of subtleness. Also, Van Herpen's music takes a collage-like approach and never stays too long in one place, moving around quite a bit. There is also room for what I would call 'scraping the contact microphone across the concrete floor'. I didn't miss the full effects on mind and body, as I enjoyed the music quite a bit as it arrived here; just plain old, well-made electronic music with a noisy solid edge, cleverly constructed and well-executed. (FdW)
––– Address: https://mrmrecordings.bandcamp.com/
ORPHAX/PHIL MAGUIRE - RIMPELS/(SANG IN THE WET TREES) (cassette by Chitin Press)
Presented here are two sides of the drone coin. I am sure these two gentlemen know each other, perhaps even personally, but I am not sure why they ended up on this split cassette. They are a good match. Of the two, Orphax is best known/most reviewed on these pages, easily close to forty times. Sietse van Erve's drone project always pleases me. I have seen many of his concerts, and one of the interesting aspects of his music is that he always finds a new twist within the limitations of drones. 'Rimpels' (meaning ripples in English) sound like a calm sea, with slow ripples emanating from the core, spreading them apart. Orphax finds multiple harmonics and has them close together yet, also distinctly apart. Over nineteen minutes, Orpahx slowly opens a few filters and changes the sound colour from darkish to lightish. The ending is always abrupt; somehow, it is never easy to end a drone. I have not reviewed Phil Maguire's music as often as the music by Orphax. Hiss '(sang in the wet trees)' works with "spring reverb feedback sonics", but don't let the word feedback distract you. As with Tim Olive's forays into the world of spring reverb feedback, Maguire exercises a lot of control. Control to the effect of a standstill. Changes arrive gradually, but it no longer works to a crescendo, however small it could be, as Orphax just did. However, small changes are constantly coming within the music, maybe causing more ripples than Orphax. Less straightforward, this piece also has a more mysterious quality to it. Orphax's drones serve a different purpose, I should think. Great release! (FdW)
––– Address: http://bvlv.bandcamp.com
ONUR ŻŁOBNICKI - 355/113 (cassette by Fluxus MT)
DEVELOPER / LUER (cassette by Fluxus MT)
Fluxus MT is the label from Matt Taggart, also known as Luer. Recently I reviewed some of his releases, so he mailed some cassettes. Behind Onur Żłobnicki is Keven Michael-Onur Kalaycioglu-Żłobnicki, so I can imagine he wanted a shorter version of that. The two pieces on his cassette are not called '55' and '113', which is what one would expect, but 'Sentinel' and 'Inverted Ice Cream Cone With Teeth'. In his music, Żłobnicki uses "various Eurorack modular synthesizers and guitar pedals". Unfortunately, there is no more information. On his Bandcamp, Żłobnicki has a bunch more releases. I think his music is an exciting combination of introspective drone sounds, which Żłobnicki brutally disconnects with an amount of noise thrown in. Be careful with the volume, I'd say. The first blast took me by total surprise. I was right into the myriad of drone sounds, but then he dropped a noise bomb. After that, I was more prepared for the others. In the 'Inverted Ice Cream Cone With Teeth' piece, there are fewer jump cuts, and here Żłobnicki has a more dark psychedelic side in his music. Rusty spaceships and all that soundtrack of Dystopia I love so much. When I have more time, I will also investigate his other releases, which sound most promising. I can easily see why Taggart would release this music, as there are similarities in how music, sound and composing/improvising are approached.
I have no idea who Developer is. There is one twenty-minute piece here, 'One Last Look... Before We say Goodbye', of high-piercing sine waves and rumblings of hearing aids. Halfway through, the sound cuts out, and the second half contains a mix of thunderous music and near-silent pieces. I am not sure about this. Not great, not bad, a bit noisy, undoubtedly, but also too straightforward for my taste. Luer has five pieces, all variations of 'Variable'. Here he explores the human voice, mainly mumbling, as it walks into the labyrinth of modular electronics. I all get twisted and contorted, shaking up and falling apart, in what I now detect as Luer's trademark sound. It is noise music because, at times, it is loud and piercing, but there is, unlike with Developer, depth in this music, thought and composition. Now, that's something more musicians working with noise should try to do; more depth and composition. (FdW)
––– Address: https://pcrv.bandcamp.com/
NOW DAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC label review; part 2
This time the first eight releases of the 'Now DAT's What I Call Music' project. On November first, Frans de Waard dropped 16 DAT tapes filled by 17 different artists (one is a split), each in an edition of 17, of which two were taken (one for the artist, one for the archives). The artwork was meticulously executed by Rutger Zuydervelt, and... that's it.
All DATs are recycled and reused because that's what it's all about. You don't throw stuff out anymore. The carbon footprint these items generated in the past - from a time when humanity probably didn't even know what the word meant - is quite firm compared to, for example, a CD. So instead of throwing things away, it's better to reuse them. Now THAT's what I call a brilliant idea.
If - sidenote: it's going to be WHEN, not IF - so: WHEN the 15 DAT's are sold the tangible part of this project is over. Now don't be sad; there is always Bandcamp for us living in a digital reality. But if you are a collector and you're anxious to get a copy of one of the DAT's of the whole series, you'll have to act now! Only three full series are left at the main office! (BW)
ROEL MEELKOP - 2 (LIVES) (90 minute DAT)
The 90-minute DAT Tape from Roel Meelkop opens the catalogue. It is a registration of 2 live concerts, both recorded in Rotterdam. The 'Oude Kerk Charlois' track is a recording done by a microphone, through which natural reverb is added to the recording. Also, the church organ, played by Jasp van Gils, is something we don't hear too often in compositions the way it's executed here. The second 'Live' is recorded at the 'Noodlebar', an event organized by Dennis Verschoor. The Noodle bar event is a modular event by and for freaks of the knobular kind, and the recording was done straight from the set-up.
All who know Roel's output also know that he's not afraid to experiment with the absence of sound, and in both of these compositions, we can hear the dynamics of sound, silence, complexity and simplicity. One can only wish to have attended the events themselves, but at least we have these recordings. (BW)
CALINECZKA - FOUNDATIONS, CRACKING (120 minutes DAT)
Until now, I had never heard of Calineczka, and from now on, I'll hear more of him. I think that says a lot about me, but it should tell you, readers, a lot about Calineczka. The man behind this project is Ścisław Dercz (or Michał Jędrzej Stańczyk - Discogs mentions two names) and he is the man behind the Important Drone Records label, the cassette label from Spain: "sustained tone minimalism albums on cassettes" a.k.a. minimal sounds with maximum impact.
"Foundations, cracking" - subtitled 'all foundations crack eventually' - is a massive work. Almost two solid hours of in-your-face sound. 'In your face I've chosen wisely because it sounds like Michał chose a set-up where the directness of sounds was important. There are oscillators in the mix, no overproduction with shitloads of effects, but pure sound. And in the first hour, the drone builds and builds towards a great climatic moment. And then the drone is slowly built off again. But something has changed in comparison to the first half. Tiny distorted objects have entered the mix. Small cracks in the foundations. Impressed! (BW)
MODELBAU - ANNEX ANNUM (120 minutes DAT)
Here is the release from the man behind the NDWICM-project, Modelbau a.k.a. Frans de Waard. The piece he has chosen is called "Annex Annum" which he wrote for an exhibition series 'The Vault' at museum De Groen, Arnhem. Modelbau was asked by curator Quinten Dierick to create a piece to be exposed for a month in 2022, so Frans created and "Annex Annum" was born. With its two hours, it is the longest Modelbau piece ever, or maybe better, because creative minds can think of the strangest things.
So, we're not here to talk about a possible future; we're here to talk about the present, and that is those 120 minutes of Modelbau. The piece as a whole is super dynamic, which I'll translate for you as "it's not one sound with small variations into infinity". The composition has many different phrases ranging from drone and ambient to soundscape and more experimental sounds. Sound sources combined into the characteristic Modelbau sound with looped tapes and manipulated field recordings, and I think I even recognized a little guitar! Frans is a man of many faces, and this Modelbau release shows his pretty face. (BW)
ORPHAX - HET CONGLOMERAAT (34 minutes DAT)
The fourth one in this - so far brilliant - series is Amsterdam-based Sietse van Erve who've I had the pleasure of reviewing before. Sietse is the mastermind behind Moving Furniture, and as Orphax, he does drones. And he does them very well, I might add to that. "Het Conglomeraat" (which translates to The Conglomerate) is a 32-minute piece, and let's focus on the meaning of conglomerate first. "A number of independent companies forming a pact to have financial advantages or a sediment or stone built from different materials." It fits this piece very well because it uses many different sound sources, and a trained ear will probably be able to differentiate the origin of some of them. From subtle feedback sounds to straight oscillator sounds drifting in the air.
This drone is so strong in relation to its length - drones of 2 hours are no exception in this series - Sietse still manages to create a strong unity between the different parts in a relatively short time. Sounds are carefully mixed and moulded into this solid material. A unity yet still with recognizable parts. A bit like the method of Eliane, but he and I both love her work: That's not a secret, I think. (BW)
HOWARD STELZER - WE ALL ARE (48 minutes DAT)
This one took me a while to get a grip on. Maybe this second part on the NDWICM didn't make the deadline last week. Howard Stelzer is an artist who, in his production techniques - for me - is mystical. I couldn't tell you how he does things, which I mostly look into. The eleven tracks range from ultra-minimal (white) noise-based drones up to collages based on contact mic-based recordings. Six of the eleven tracks are titled (or should I write labelled) Private Performance #something; the remaining five got actual titles.
And when we reviewers don't know enough, we turn towards the internet for help. The Bandcamp page doesn't say too much other than that Howard - like most of us - is a tape freak and that they were recorded at the Sun Room in Massachusetts. He has a page on Wikipedia that I stumbled upon, and while reading that, I thought I had drifted away from the important stuff. Because of all its diversity, origins of sounds, compositional techniques and recorded atmospheres, "We All Are" is simply a gorgeous release, period. Nothing is screaming, loud, in-your-face noise, but ambient noise and (field) recordings molten into a sonic experience, slightly rural, with an industrial complex visible in the background. (BW)
COAGULANT - ABSTRACTION IN THREE DIMENSIONS (60 minutes DAT)
Coagulant is a project by Fabio Kubic. I hadn't heard of it before, I thought, but to my surprise, there was already a cassette in my collection. Thank you, Discogs. When we go to the Bandcamp page of this particular release and his profile pages all over the web, this quote accurately describes Fabio's method regarding Coagulant. "It is connected in many areas related to sound experimentation, and its process is in the development of electronic manipulation through microphones, cut-up, environmental soundscape, audio-feedback editing and the structuring of oblique frequencies, which rest on hypnotic drones."
"Abstraction in Three Dimensions" is an hour-long sonic experiment combining loops, field recordings, instruments and effects. It reminded me a bit of Templegarden's atmospherically because of the loop-based structures, though Coagulant is way more minimal in its approach. Where Templegarden's loops become structures in a sort of rhythmical sense, Coagulant manages to stay purely in the atmospheric domain. The result is a solid noisy soundscape with a massive industrial undertone. Very well done, and I will have to dive into my cassette collection to give the tape I had another spin. (BW)
RICK SANDERS - DRONES (90-minutes DAT)
A new name again! Next to some older and well-known names, NDWICM also manages to get a few new names to the roster, which is always a good thing. Somehow it seems that ambient/drone/sound art is alive, but the growth of new names appears to be limited. But I agree, with added beats, it's easier to get performances and feedback from pretty girls. But enough of that, for now: It's exploration time :-)
According to his Bandcamp page, Rick Sanders hails from Nijmegen, and this is his fourth release. This release has two pieces, 43 and 45 minutes in length, and they are - as the title suggests, simply beautiful, meditative drones. The sounds are all Eurorack / Modular with some post-processing in the digital domain. Composition-wise, this drone should be considered a 'pure' drone. Not much happens from a distance, but many subtle variations and modulation patterns keep the compositions interesting when you dive into them or play them on a higher volume. "As interesting as it is neglectable", would Eno say but wait, that was his definition of 'ambient' ... Does that now also go for 'drones'? (BW)
NŸLAND/SCHEERLING - TWEIDUSTER (60 minute DAT)
The final one in the series - or the final one for today, as the real 'final ones' (#9-16) can be found in the Vital of two weeks ago - is a split release by Peter Johan Nijland and the project Scheerling. They both took care of about 30 minutes of this one-hour DAT.
Scheerling is again a new name for me, being Bert van Beek. He's active in various projects, of which I know none. The sound of his tracks are minimal; most of his tracks are based on one, maybe two sounds (if I'm right, it's mostly instruments, loops and field recordings or voices), but those sound are well researched. So there is a certain richness in its minimal approach, which give the Scheerling tracks a lot of depth.
Peter Johan Nÿland is probably one of the Netherlands' most active musicians. Releasing under his name and producing as or being a member of Distel, Hadewych, O Saala Sakraal, Volksweerbaarheid and Trepaneringsritualen. And all the mastering he does. The six tracks he did for "Tweiduster" range between 3 and 6 minutes and are - like Scheerling's track - quite minimal. Though a big difference is where Scheerling reaches the minimality in choice of sounds, Nÿland chose minimality in composition. At "Shinjuku", it's a throbbing sample being looped and a rhythm almost pushes the whole track into a weird danceable thing. Almost though! Listening to "Dalarna Dark" makes you think he's doing it again, but it turns out he's fooling you. "A Woodland Sigil" is a track with an orchestral approach. So what to say: Well, Nÿland proves he is indeed the multi-instrumentalist everybody says he is. (BW)
––– Address: https://nowdatswhaticallmusic.bandcamp.com/