number 1368
week 1

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:

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IN SITU ENS. - SAME PLACE (CD by Cubus Records) *
DEPARTURE DUO - IMMENSITY OF (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
MODELBAU – X (CD & book by Korm Plastics) *
SPINIFEX SINGS (CD by Trytone) *
CHARLES LAREAU - STASIS (cassette by Eh? Records) *
REYNOLS - CORULU FLATDAS GASIGO (double 7" by Artsy Records) *
DEL STEPHEN - LISTENER (cassette by Hyster Tapes) *
PHILIPPE NEAU - A QUIET PLACE (cassette by Mahorka) *
SUNIK KIM - RAID ON THE WHITE TIGER REGIMENT (cassette by Notice Recordings) *


All three members of this trio plaay an instrument, but always in combination with live electronics. These electronics are responsible for the real time processing of the instruments. For m, of the three players here, I kow Kasper Toeplitz (electric bass) best. Jozef Dumoulin (Fender Rhodes) appeared a couple of times before in these pages, but none of these releases I reviewed. Yérri-G Hummel (saxophone and TR808), who also goes by the alter-ego Kaspar, only a couple of times, and again not something I wrote. It is the latter who initiated this project and invited the others to the Stadio Labut in Strasbourg. The fourth member is Lucas Lejeune, doing the visuals. The music has rather a concert-feeling, with the music continues and only broken up for convienence. The music is pretty much a mixed bag of interests. I am inclined to think that much of the album's noisy approach comes from Toeplitz. Sometimes this noise is in the background, shaped like a dark ghost whose feelings remains present, and something it is very much upfont, roaring it's ugly head. The other two instruments play both along with the noise, stapling towards a big noise, but also they go against th grain and add little melodic textures from time to time. It's here where the album moves away from improvised noise, and more into something improvised along traditional lines, a bit of free jazz (mainly from the saxophone) and with this, it all becomes a bit more musical. This means there is quite a bit of variation in what they offer and I was thinking, perhaps the variation is a bit too much. I can imagine someone thinking the noise end is a bit too much, and where's the melodic bit gone (or vice versa, of course)? One very open mind is required here! (FdW)
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IN SITU ENS. - SAME PLACE (CD by Cubus Records)

The full stop behind the name is part of the group's name. An international collective that consists of Liz Allbee (trumpet), Rhodri Davis (harp, electronic harp), Christian Kobi (saxophone), Enrico Malatesta (percussion), Magda Mayas (piano) and Christian Müller (electronics). Over two days in May 2022, they recorded the music in Bern, Switzerland. If you look at this cast of players, you could easily assume this is a disc of improvised music, and I'm sure it is, but they stretch the nature of improvisation in a different direction. Many of the instruments listed aren't easily recognized. They are used to extracts sounds from, and as such, the music could be labeled as electro-acoustic music. Objects upon instruments, carefully placed crackles, longer, sustaining sounds via prolonged sratching the surface of an instruments and quietness are the ingredients of the music here. And then, suddenly, you recognize the piano, the harp, or the guitar. A plink, a strum or a bang, bringing in that small little music motif. Obviously, because of the time of the year, I am thinking about all this reflective and quiet; these are the slow and short days in which people draw up lists of the year past (I always wondered, mid-December, why the rush? The year isn't over yet), and maybe that needs a soundtrack of it's own? Music that has a similar quiet approach, and as such In Situ Ens. serve the perfect dish for such quiet days. That doens't mean it is all upon the threshold of audibility. Not quite just. The final piece (no titles) shows the group in an usual noise vein, as if to unwind from the previous fifty minutes of high-level concentration; or perhaps showing they can switch the game. In the other pieces they operate very carefully, but the proceedings are audible, and the musicians show us a great interaction. There is room for everyone to interact when necessary and stay quiet when one thinks that's necessary.  (Not always) quiet music for (not alqays) quiet days. (FdW)
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Klaus Kugel studied at the School of Jazz in Munich and started playing around 1989. He regularly worked with musicians like Theo Jörgensmann and Petras Vysniauskas in his early years as a performer. Many international collaborations followed (Ken Vandermark, John Lindberg, Perry Robinson, etc.). In 2019-2020 Kugel met Schubert and Uchihashi and invited them to collaborate. Japanese guitarist Kazuhisa Uchihashi played with First Edition, Altered States and Otomo Yoshihide's Ground Zero in his early years. Unnumerable collaborations followed in the field of experimental and improvised music. Besides guitar, he often plays the daxophone, a string instrument developed by German guitarist Hans Reichel. Schubert is a self-taught saxophone player, living and working in Berlin since 1999. Besides many collaborations, in 2006, he founded Grid Mesh, a quartet of Christof Thewes (trombone), Andreas Willers (electric guitar, devices), Willi Kellers (drums, percussion) and Schubert on saxophones. As a trio of Frank Paul Schubert (alto and soprano saxophone), Kazuhisa Uchihashi (electric guitar, electronics) and Klaus Kugel (drums, gongs), they gave their first concert in April this year at Neue Sächische Galerie in Chemnitz, Germany. In September, they recorded this first release at Noisy Rooms in Berlin in two days.
    The title track is the most extensive improvisation. Initially, it was too much meandering without focus for my taste. However, gradually they come to business, and the interaction intensifies. Remarkable is the playing by Uchihashi, who creates many fascinating textures and sounds throughout this recording, like in the opening section of ‘Supersonic Interaction’.
    The patterns played by Schubert I often found not very engaging. Their interplay worked best for me in the swaying improvisations ‘New Kind of Terrain’ and ‘Additional Rendezvous’, where they create intimate atmospheres with subtle and subdued movements. (DM)
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Lithuanian computer musician Gintas K is no stranger to these pages, but I had not heard of Michelle O'Rourke. By invitation of Emily Aoibheann, they recorded the music for... a dance? A film? I am not; a work of interdisciplinary art. In the words of Aoibheann, "if aerial is the dance of industrial technology, what will the dance of biotechnology be?". The music was improvised "to the visual landscape of the rehearsal space, stage design and dancers". O'Rourke is a voice artist. I think she may have a background in opera. That's how it comes across. I believe she uses no words but has these operatic long vocals howls. Gintas K may process her voice (or maybe not) and goes from all the way low and subtle via rhythmic structures to harsh noise in this hour-long release (cut into ten tracks). Although the combination of opera-like singing and computer music isn't unheard of, this is not easy to listen to. I admit the music gave me a hard time. Maybe some esoteric singing (back with a healthy dose of reverb) is sometimes a bit too much, and sometimes, the combination of voice and computer doesn't seem to match. But in some instances, it works pretty well; for me, the louder and more rhythmic pieces had that effect. Maybe the experience of the gesamtkunstwerk would have a different impact on me, as I feel I miss out on a few things here. A fine release, for sure, but not always convincing. (FdW)
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Jennifer Grim is a young USAmerican flautist who has contributed to a handful of recordings of contemporary classical music to date. At least as far as Discogs has tracked anything. This is the first release in her name and collects seven pieces by six composers. She plays solo flute, several different flutes processed, or in a duo with pianist Michael Sheppard.
    What strikes me is that - though several authors are involved - there is a common tone to the compositions. This, of course, may be due to the distinct timbre of the concert flute. However, it may also be a sign of the times, the flyer calling this an intersection of Afro-Modernism and post-minimalism. In addition, several composers are coloured (but not African, as far as I can tell - maybe a missed opportunity?).
    Cuban Tania Leon's piece 'Alma' opens the release. Though it uses modern elements, you could call it 'romantic' in some ways, it is undoubtedly virtuosic, and it masterly integrates elements that sound folkloristic without being folkloristic. Resounding Villa-Lobos sometimes, but not so much that the piece would fit a category. David Sanford contributes two pieces, both for the flute and the piano. The 'Klatka Still' movements could be called impressionist, somewhat similar to 'Alma', but minus the folkloristic element. The piano is minimal at first and leaves space for the flute, then turns the tables in the second movement and takes a dynamic lead. Sanford's second piece, 'Offertory', works similarly, after a very balanced first movement, both instruments set out to a very dynamic, expressionist second part until it fades into a pointillistic ending. Valerie Colemen's 'Wish Sonatine' is also written for the duo and starts with a shy layering of elements until it, too, erupts into outbursts set against quieter parts, the instruments playing against and with each other until the piano opens a Keith-Emerson-type bass line and the tone drifts both into a piano jazz line and a flute melody that is more 'folk' than classical, then taking a jazz line, too.
    Alvin Singleton's 'Argoru III' is a timeless solo flute piece, as is Allison Loggins-Hull's 'Homeland'. In both, you can find a plethora of elements that are maybe more typical for the solo flute as an instrument than for specific styles of music. Julia Wolfe's 'Oxygen' is a piece for twelve flutes - now, this is the third track on the CD and is also the outstanding one with a completely different take and style. Of course, the twelve flutes are layered and pre-recorded. The music has a serial Reich/Glass element to it. But you also notice that early Kraftwerk was working on similar sounds when the constant rhythm subsides towards the middle of the piece and more flute layers are added - before the continuous pace sets in again, to fade into long, drawn-out notes only towards the end. Thank goodness, with fifteen minutes in length, I think I could not have taken more 'serialism', to be honest. Nevertheless, this piece is undoubtedly a highlight of the release. A bit of a pity it sticks out so much and has no par on the CD. (RSW)
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DEPARTURE DUO - IMMENSITY OF (CD by New Focus Recordings)

Nina Guo and Edward Kass are Departure Duo, a duo of double bass and soprano vocals. Yes. They have recorded four pieces here as part of their project '30 to 30', performing (and recording?) thirty hours of double bass and soprano duos by 2030. This includes choosing music scores but mostly - as is rather apparent - commissioning pieces, as this kind of pairing is scarce in music.
    We find 52 tracks on the CD, though, as three of the four pieces consist of several movements/parts, as we will see. Katherine Balch wrote 'Phrases' in 4 movements. This is not 'just' a setting of low versus high notes. Remember, a double bass can also play relatively high notes. But what is more, the tonal spectrum is used across much more than strings and vocals, including percussive and vocalising elements. The four movements take us through different variations of experimentation with timbres and song-like structures, so things evolve constantly. The second piece is the renown 'Tiergarten' by John Aylward, where he uses three poems by Rilke, describing animals in the zoo: a swan and a panther, and their unhappy existence in captivity - I am not sure whether this is an adaptation by the duo - I seem to remember having heard a quite different version of 'Der Panther', but might be mistaken. The third is 'the unicorn'. Rilke could also be humorous. Being about a mythical subject (only the Brits believe in them and thought Brexit would bring them back ...), the music is more aloof than in the first two parts.
    The main part of the release is occupied by a Gyorgy Kurtag composition based on notes from Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. The latter was a German physicist of the 19th century and kept notebooks with many short observations and descriptions and many aphorisms, often quite funny. They were published only post-humously, and Kurtag has used them as the base material for his composition. In 44 tracks, he first has a note read, and then the musical adaptation is presented, i.e. 22 notes with their musical counterparts. For example: 'Koan - order leads to virtue, but what leads to order?' As the aphorisms are short, so are the musical representations, mixing song and text with the bass. In this kind of setting, I am never quite sure what the music can provide for the reception of the text and found the read aphorisms partly much more powerful than the music. You need to listen; otherwise, you lose the plot. The final piece is Emily Praetorius' 'Immensity Of', which gave the release its name. Far from the tonal explorations of the previous tracks, this is an extended elegy to low volume levels and careful crafting of sounds. Over nine minutes the piece quietly evolves, from layering sounds to near-silence to a glissando ending, and is - in my opinion - the best piece on this release. (RSW)
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I think new year's day is one of those strange days of the year. You go to bed later than usual (well, most of us, anyway), you get up and do what, exactly? Texting 'happy new year' to everybody who sends this, and that's it. I like the fact that this year it is on a Sunday. Not a day lost, which is great. For me, Sunday is another day of work, so I am looking at a few releases to write about. I won't say which they are, but one is the Tomoyoshi Date release. I looked up what 438Hz is about and read some interesting stuff about tuning, and that it was once 432 as the standard pitch and since 1939, it has been 440Hz; stuff that somewhere in the back of my mind, I already knew. 438Hz is also mentioned as "more “natural” frequency for middle “A", and mentioned as healing. Tuning and pitches are not my field of expertise at all; I wouldn't be surprised to learn I'm tone-deaf. Apart from something I played earlier today, this new Date release is the first serious music I have heard in the new year. I picked this for a particular reason: I know Date's music to be quiet and relaxing. Healing, perhaps too, but there is nothing to heal here, not even a champagne-induced headache. Tomoyoshi Date is a musician who knows how to make warm music from a cold laptop. To that end, he uses recordings from a Diapason upright piano in the house of his maternal grandmother's sister. We hear the instrument, picked up by some great microphones and the environment, but Date adds mild, computerized processes to the sound. Sustaining and stretching it a bit, I think, and the result is great. What I especially like about it is that the LP version can be played at 45 and 33 rpm (you can do that with any record, of course) but on the CD, we have both the 45 rpm and the 33 rpm versions. First four 'quick' (everything is relative here) ones, and then the same places slower. I must admit, but I blame the new year's day haze, that I didn't hear that when I first heard the release, but it makes sense after a few repeated listenings on this other slow and quiet day. As I sometimes say, listening to music can have various circumstances, reasons, moods and results. The quiet ambient piano sounds, mingling with the gentlest of treatments, provide that very relaxing soundtrack that fits this strange day very well. (FdW)
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MODELBAU – X (CD & book by Korm Plastics)

Frans de Waard could write an entire book about any one name that he’s recorded as or groups he’s been part of. A Kapotte Muziek book is probably a good idea (Frans, have you already thought of this?) or a Goem or a Beequeen book. Or a history of his label, Korm Plastics, which began making cassette tapes in the early 1980s and is now quite busy publishing books such as this one. But perhaps I’m just being greedy... and overlooking the fact that, even though the book and CD that I’m reviewing now are entirely and exclusively about the first decade of Frans' work as Modelbau, he has really never stopped writing his own memoir. Frans’ Vital zine recorded his thoughts about music in real-time in the 1980s and 1990s (all pages of which are collected into two volumes). His very entertaining 2016 book, “This Is Supposed to Be a Record Label”, chronicled his years working for Staalplaat. And, of course, Frans continues to write about music weekly in this very newsletter you’re reading now. I know that Frans loves to read music biographies, so it makes sense that he would also commit his ideas to words for posterity. This is, I think, why “X” is intentionally limited in scope. The book describes the first ten years of Frans’ work as Modelbau. It sensibly doesn’t take any digressions into non-Modelbau activities, though obviously, Frans (whose work ethic is impressive!) was busy with many other projects during this period. Frans tells the Modelbau story chronologically, starting with its inception at a performance in 2009 when he decided to set aside the laptop he’d been using as Freiband to try something new. He then walks the reader through everything that’s happened since then. We get to see pages of the artist’s handwritten notes, musical scores, Facebook posts, performance photos, Soundcloud screenshots, website text and gear photos that track his thinking and activity through all Modelbau work up until the present day with an afterword about future activities.
    At first, Modelbau was distinct from Frans’ other projects in that all music was performed on entirely analogue gear and recorded live with a backing track that changed for each concert, then edited afterwards. It also was initially conceived to have no physical releases, only digital Bandcamp downloads. However, that rule was eventually let go and was replaced by a new one where releases were titled in alphabetical order. Frans speaks plainly about the progression of changing rules to define Modelbau, noting that he suspected the project wasn’t quite working but wasn’t sure why. And so he put it on hold to think it over. Eventually, with reflection and experimentation, Modelbau's sound emerged and expanded. "X" is a recollection of every step along the way.
    As anyone familiar with Frans' work might expect, these recollections are presented economically with minimal flourish or self-mythologizing. Frans describes every Modelbau release and many performances in his famously deadpan style. His prose, like his music, is meticulously devoid of pretence, deploying blunt honesty to wipe away any sense of self-importance. For example, here is how he describes a 2016 lecture and concert for the Lion’s Club in Northern Netherlands: “They listened to my story with much interest, and afterwards I played a Modelbau set”. Here is how he details the making of a 2015 album while waiting for a collaborator to arrive: “Unfortunately he was late and I wasn’t particularly interested in wasting time waiting for him, so I recorded most of ‘Neither/Nor’ on my own.” Regarding a run of releases from 2019: “… there are quite a few releases that I don’t have much to say about, as they are collections of pieces that, I think, belong together, but there is no bigger story to tell.” Fair enough! Or this early Modelbau performance on a Saturday afternoon: “Everybody was gearing up to watch the football later on, some big-time game for the Netherlands (don’t know, don’t care), so I don’t think the attention was there, either from the audience or from myself. The gig went okay at best.” Anyone who’s performed live music can relate to a mediocre gig, but few would commit those gigs to posterity in their own musical autobiography. I find Frans' directness to be refreshing and engaging. He cares enough to create all the time and describe what he did but feels no compulsion to wax poetic about it. The music speaks for itself. All he's doing is cataloguing his voluminous activity.
    Naturally, “X” includes a CD with Modelbau music on it. It’s a great album, too. Frans explains that “X” is in the recent Modelbau style of mixing several previously-recorded pieces. That explains its somewhat episodic nature, but it works well for this music. Taken in all at once, “X” is patient and deliberately paced. Each section glides slowly into the next with cavernous sub-bass growl or flickering hiss and radio interference bridging the elements together. My favourite Modelbau recordings contain longer tracks since this is the sort of fog I enjoy losing myself inside. But then again, I am a biased reviewer who went into “X” expecting to love it… and, unsurprisingly, I did! The book itself looks fantastic. Jos Moers/Meeuw’s instantly-recognizable design highlights the aesthetic commonalities behind Modelbau’s myriad publications while making the assemblage of notes, xerox art, handwritten pages, and other materials from different sources read as unified and legible. (HS)
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After last year's 'Beats the Plague', Spinifex goes vocal. Two vocalists (Priya Purushothaman from the US, based in Mumbai) and Icelandic singer Björk Nielsdottir add a distinct new flavour to their impressive output. Irregular structures, fast-changing polyrhythms, and raw free jazz noise with Eastern European flavours are now mixed with Icelandic and Tamil poetry. And fuckaduck, what an energetic life-affirming mix of flavours it is. Rhythm powerhouse tandem Phillipp Moser and Gonçalo Almeida lay in several songs a slithering swirling high octane basis, on top of which the horn section (Tobias Klein – alto saxophone & artistic direction, Bart Maris – trumpet & John Dikeman – tenor saxophone) puts even more bouncing and balsie melodies in non-standard harmonies on top. On top of all this, we have the icing on the cake: the soprano voice of Björk and the alto voice of Pryia. And in between all that, Jasper Stadhouders is working his mojo, sometimes following the melody in the singer's unisono or adding his brand of guitar playing. This is not the exact template for each composition. It's not all complete mayhem (and expertly controlled). There are moments (longer and shorter) of relative stillness, but there is always a brooding atmosphere as if all hell will break loose. Free jazz meets punk rock meets East and West with a heavy dose of quicksilver metric shifts. As Nick Roseblade said about the previous release: Play loud. Play often. I couldn't agree more. A lot happens in the different sections of songs. If there's one release by Spinifex that should be heard worldwide, this should be it. It also sets the bar really really high for their next release.  (MDS)
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CHARLES LAREAU - STASIS (cassette by Eh? Records)

Two heavyweights from the wide world of improvised music teaming up together. In the left corner, we find Guro Skumsnes Moe. We know her from her work on the double bass, octobass and electric bass (and vocalist) with such groups as MoE and Sult, collaborator with Lasse Marhaug, and productions for movie and dance performances. In the right corner is Philippe Petit, once working with turntables and occupied with modular electronics these days. His collaborators include Lydia Lunch, Murcof, Mark Cunningham, Cindytalj and many others. As much info as we have on their respective backgrounds, there isn't much about the actual record they recorded together. Moe is on octabass (that's the spelling on Bandcamp), electric bass and voice and Petit on EMS synthi A, turntables and voice. The recordings were made in June 2020. The first of the piece, '..', made me think we landed heavily in the world of improvised music, with a bare synth tone and some voice. But soon enough, the album takes on a much different course. The music snowballs into a heavy mass of sound of thick drones of both the synthesizer and the bass. Somewhere the voice (Moe's more than Petit, I think) returns and creates more weight on the music. Noisy, sure, but that seems not to be the goal of the music. It is something hard to escape. The other long piece is called '...', which I like better. The interaction is more together, more composition than improvisation, I thought. Probably they're not loops, but that's what the music sounds like in the first half. For some reason, this piece consists of two parts, of which the second is a bit more chaotic than the first half; a deliberate contrast, perhaps, but one that works quite well. The music here is not easily accessed by the listener and comes with a threshold of noise involved. Once you cross that level, the music is as beautiful and heavy as a black hole. The short in-between 'Interlude' may serve as a passage between these long movements but can also be ignored as a mere set of small sounds.
    On the cassette arm of the Public Eyesore, we find new music from Charles LaReau. We know him as a member of Naturaliste (see Vital Weekly 1270) and his 'Fluxion' release (Vital Weekly 1295). In 2005, he moved to South Korea, then Beijing and now lives in Hangzhou. LaReau has a label called Bluescreen. Already active since the late 1990s, his music uses field recordings, analogue synthesizers and cassettes. On this new cassette, we find six pieces of "recordings/found sounds and various electronics", and three are live recordings. The title 'Stasis' is well chosen, I think. In all of these pieces, there is not a lot of change. It is as if LaReau find a sweet spot in his environment and captured that particular moment. A ventilator shaft in a building, for instance. However, whatever else happens in such a location is not ignored. A door opening, for instance, gives a piece a random approach with, at times, a surprising result. Buzzing and whirring, these sounds appear, perhaps, a bit random and also a bit lo-fi, but these are also highly captivating pieces of music. Because of the level of obscured sounds, it is never easy to figure out what is what here, I have no idea what I am hearing. I don't mind, as long as it sounds fascinating and that it surely does. In all its apparent minimalism, there is a lot to enjoy here. 'Airwaves' is LaReau's noisiest, but that's all relative. 'Trajectory', the final and longest piece on this cassette, is the only piece that may use an instrument. At least, that's what I think. It might be some field recordings being fed through stomp boxes. Fascinating stuff! (FdW)
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REYNOLS - CORULU FLATDAS GASIGO (double 7" by Artsy Records)

There was a time when a project like this would be super exciting to me. The idea that you have two records, two cassettes, two CDs, or any other format (or any number of copies) and play them simultaneously to create your mix fits my idea of a DIY musician. The first time I heard about such a release was when I read about Conrad Schnitzler doing such releases in the 70s. That is not to say that I think reynols recycle an old idea; far from it. I think I haven't seen this kind of thing in many years, so it's great to hear such a thing. On the first record, there are two instrumentals, and on the second, you'll find the vocals. There is also a mix of both in the download, but the real fun is doing it yourself. I was surprised to see this in the mail, as I believed Reynols no longer existed. The whole package was created in 2003, but only this year, the sole surviving CDR of the master popped up in Finland, along with the Xeroxed artwork, and only was released now. Reynols, quick recap, were a quartet of Miguel Tomasin (voice, percussion and organ), Moncho Conlazo (Electric guitar & marmonio), Anla Courtis (Electric guitar & pacalirte) and Pacu Conlazo (Mapuche percusión). As someone who prefers instrumental music over that with vocals (with exceptions), I like the instrumental 7" best. Here, the four men bang their kits in a minimalist, garage rock-styled way. The drums shake and rumble. At the same time, the organ plays a big role on 'Ponsos Tricida Usovo'. To play the 7" containing the vocals is something that I did out of interest, to hear how that worked out, and with the idea 'how would I mix that?'. The mix on offer sees the voice quite upfront, and it makes more sense to hear it mixed. That's the idea of the song! Right, now I get it. 'Ponsos Tricida Usovo' now becomes a sort of industrial love song/ballad, with easy tunes burned on the stake (well, the organ), and 'Calula Ronta' a stomping rock tune, again with the voice in a prominent position of the mix. Tonight's assignment: is another mix possible? Can the voices be switched to the other song? There's that bit of DIY experiment I enjoy! (FdW)
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In late November 2021, David Lee Myers released 'N28' under the guise of Arcane Device (unlike his other recent music that is usually under his Christian name). That was a two-hour release that he described as 'noise wall sessions'. A year later, he returns with 'N28: Ohmniscient'. This time, the music gets the following description; "Time delay montages for soft landing into a warm oblivion". Don't let that noise wall thing lead you in any way. While Arcane Device started in the 1980s with 'feedback music', which later on was called 'no input mixer' by others (and, truthfully, Arcane Device used a much more complex set-up), and that generated, to some extent, noise music, but in none of his work, then and now, harsh noise (wall) played any role. In much of his recent work, Myers uses his feedback system in combination with modular electronics. As such, I think the fine line between Arcane Device and David Lee Myers has disappeared. Whenever I hear his music, I think of 'modern electronics'; music from systems connected with lots of cables and plugs and creating all sorts of connections. Even less than on 'N28', the music on 'N28: Ohmniscient' is not so noisy (let alone 'noise wall'), as it is slightly chaotic. The machines are infested with insects, resulting in some lively music. All of this tied together, with nothing leaping out of it. A rhythm is used only in the fourth track, 'Flipflop Springhead'. I seemed to recognise field recordings in other tracks, mostly from human speech, but I might be wrong. Like his other work, this music has a dystopian darkness, but it is not easy to pin that down to a specific sound or approach. I guess it's more of an overall feeling when I hear this. Not precisely dark and atmospheric, but dark and unsettling. Music that creepy crawls upon the listener and delivers a state of unrest. Is that what I want? Sometimes I don't mind that at all. (FdW)
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It has been quiet for Mattin for some time for reasons I don't know. I can't say I always enjoyed his releases, as sometimes the concept seemed of more importance than the actual music, but I liked the consistency of his output. He teams up with Valerio Tricoli, tape manipulator, and Werner Dafeldecker, multi-instrumentalist and improviser. The cover and information aren't particular about instruments, recordings dates and such banalities that reviewers like to mention. As I thought this trio was a bit of an odd combination, I had not many expectations, and I suspect that is a good thing. Without knowing what to get, I am pleasantly surprised by the five pieces/thirty minutes of music here. Music that isn't easily described. It's one thing or another. The proceedings are opened by 'Transformation', a brutal cut-up of noise sounds, modular electronics, reel-to-reel loops and a slow rhythm thud. It sets the tone for the release, which never gets very quiet or spaced out. That said, it's also not always noisy. In 'Hasta que no se extinga', I think Mattin adds voice, and the music is deep bass-like, but there is some excellent tension in this piece, of sounds buzzing in and out of the mix. In 'Recovery Prize', this trio attempts a song in an outsider mode, which is interestingly weird. At the same time, the title piece is a monster noisy punk piece, stomping and buzzing with synthesizers and distorted voices. The most extended piece is at the end, 'Hunting Hauntologists', in which there is a sort of culmination of all that we heard so far. The modular electronics beeping, noise drones, distorted vocals (no longer screaming), and Tricoli's tape manipulation add unsteady loops to the proceedings. An excellent release that put me on the wrong foot with each new piece it offered, and I would certainly not have minded hearing a few more of these surprise attacks. Hopefully, this trio sticks together for some more music. (FdW)
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DEL STEPHEN - LISTENER (cassette by Hyster Tapes)

Is Del Stephen the same person as Jeffrey Sinibaldi, and what is his real name? I admit to being very lazy post-Christmas, but if you really want to know, there are ways of finding this out. We have reviewed his work before, mainly released by his Vacancy Records. They recycle tapes instead of getting new ones, which is always good for the carbon footprint. Del Stephen now reaches out to Finnish Hyster Tapes, who also do a bit of recycling. The cover mentions the following instruments and sources: "cassette tapes, radio, synthesizers, pedalboard, vibraphone, bubble machine, keyboard, piano, electric organ, bass and portastudio". In some of his other work, Stephen works with improvisation, and I think he brings some of that to this table too. Maybe being alone and working with a portastudio delivers some form of organisation? Somewhere between chaos and order is where you find Del Stephen here. Two lengthy pieces, separated by some minutes of silence (slightly annoying), in which we hear some bass work, obscured sounds (field recordings captured on cassette?), and keyboard melodies. It's very much the usual oddness that I know from his work. There is nothing here that can be easily described as one sort of musical genre or another, but that is probably the best thing about this release. Elements of improvisation, pop, minimalism and drone work together side by side, not as a struggle, but creating some of the weirder music, you can imagine. A good tune is never out of reach, perhaps the most unusual thing about this release. (FdW)
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PHILIPPE NEAU - A QUIET PLACE (cassette by Mahorka)

'A Quiet Place' is my second encounter with the work of Philippe Neau, following the CD 'Étang Donné', reviewed in Vital Weekly 1300. I don't think I was all too convinced by that work for reasons I am unsure of myself. On this new cassette, he explores the world of quiet places. Much like his CD, Neau records tranquil surroundings, filled with birds and a bit of water, which he combines into soundscapes. He superimposes the material, and along with that, he adds some electronics. It is no longer music from one location but from various places, blending into one new, imaginary space. Music without much purpose or intention, I should think, but perhaps, that might just be the intention. I am not sure what the titles refer to, 'First S', 'Second I', 'Third G' and so on; there are five shorter pieces on the first side, while 'A Large Quiet Place' takes up the entire second side. The total length of the cassette is ninety minutes, which I thought worked quite for this kind of music. There isn't much happening in this music, and as such, it reminded me of taking a walk in a forest, ending up near a lake and sitting and resting there. The rustling of leaves, the tweeting of birds and I'm trying to figure out where the electronic sounds could come from, but let's say there's a restaurant nearby. It is raining right now, here in the real world, so walking forest and resting near a pond is out of the question, so sitting home-bound, reading a book, creating a quiet place through the act of not doing much, with Philippe Neau's music as the soundtrack to such nothingness, yes, that'll work quite well. It's ambient music, and as such, nothing you haven't heard before, but alas, that's the state of ambient music, I guess. Nice one, indeed. (FdW)
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SUNIK KIM - RAID ON THE WHITE TIGER REGIMENT (cassette by Notice Recordings)

I left the other two new releases by Notice Recordings in the hands of people who know more about improvisation than I do. There is something to say: Sunik Kim's release is also from the world of improvised music. I had not heard of Kim before, and also not of the previous release, 'Zero Chime' by First Terrace Records. Sunik Kim is a computer musician who builds stuff in max/MSP and SuperCollider. Fed to the world of zeroes and ones are orchestral samples. The title refers to "one of the eight core revolutionary operas produced during the Cultural Revolution. This particular opera focuses on the joint struggle of Chinese and Korean communists during the Korean War, during which there were devastating US attacks on the northern part of the peninsula." I am not sure if music from the opera is used in these pieces. On side A, we find two studio pieces and, on the flip, a thirty-minute live recording from Cafe OTO. There is some heavy-duty noise music going on here. Kim isn't sparing anything. Everything is full-on all the time. This is not noise in the 'traditional' sense of the word, one long blast of distortion. Everything here seems to be about all things being as loud as possible but also as chaotic. The musical genre that I am thinking of is plunderphonics. Not like Negativland or Tape-beatles, but rather John Oswald and David Shea, but then on steroids. Stabbing keys on a sampler keyboard (and yes, I know, this might be a midi-controller) and, at times, making no sense at all, then it might suddenly slip into a bit of music with rhythm and melody. In the live piece, Kim takes matters to a conclusion, being louder and wilder, much to the, also recorded, audience's appreciation. Here the orchestral samples seem to have vanished or rendered beyond any recognition, and it's an even bigger blast of noise. I prefer the more worked-out studio version of this music; I already had my share of noise for this week, but constructed chaos is what I can surely appreciate. (FdW)
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