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!
MISAKI MOTOFUJI - YAGATEYAMU (CD by Hitorri/Ftarri) *
MASAHIKO OKURA - CTX1 (CD by Hitorri/Ftarri) *
ACTIVE RECOVERING UNIT - MATERIAL UNITY 2 (CD by Hitorri/Ftarri) *
TETUZI AKIYAMA & AYAMI SUZUKI - ALLELOPATHY (CD by Ftarri) *
MASAHIDE TOKUNAGA - OBSERVER (CD by Ftarri) *
THE LAST DOSSIER (CD compilation by Impulsy Stetoskopu)
DEVIATION SOCIAL - AT HOTEL UTAH SAN FRANCISCO 31 JULY 1982 (CD by Impulsy Stetoskopu) *
GONÇALO ALMEIDA - IMPROVISATIONS ON AMPLIFIED & PREPARED DOUBLE BASS (CD by Shhpuma) *
@C & DRUMMING GP - FOR PERCUSSION (CD by Cronica Electronica) *
LUCA FORCUCCI - TERRA (CD by Cronica Electronica) *
KREYSING & EMERGE - RESSOURCEN (CD by Attentation Circuit) *
PHILIPPE PETIT - SLEEPWATCHING THE STARS DANCE (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
WILFRIED HANRATH & BOBAN RISTVESKI - BE HERE NOW (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
INNOCENT BUT GUILTY & NLC FEAT. WOLF CITY - DYSTOPIAN THOUGHTS (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
DOUG & CHUCK - THE BEST OF CHUCK & DOUG (cassette by Attenuation Circuit) *
Y BÜLBÜL, YUMURTA - NOT ONE, NOT TWO (LP by Pingipung) *
SLACKING - ROUNDHOUSE A BOOTLICKER (7" by Tribe Tapes) *
VERTONEN - CAPSIZED (2CDR by Ballast) *
LESLIE KEFFER - AETHEREAL (CDR by No Part Of It)
LESLIE KEFFER - REVERIE (CDR by No Part Of It)
PAROXYSM: A BENEFIT COMPILATION FOR LESLIE KEFFER (2CDR compilation by No Part Of It)
OCEAN VIVA SILVER – ĦAL SAFLIENI (print, download)
FERTILE GROUNDS (cassette compilation by Odmwa)
MISAKI MOTOFUJI - YAGATEYAMU (CD by Hitorri/Ftarri)
MASAHIKO OKURA - CTX1 (CD by Hitorri/Ftarri)
ACTIVE RECOVERING UNIT - MATERIAL UNITY 2 (CD by Hitorri/Ftarri)
TETUZI AKIYAMA & AYAMI SUZUKI - ALLELOPATHY (CD by Ftarri)
MASAHIDE TOKUNAGA - OBSERVER (CD by Ftarri)
A round of new releases by the Japanese Ftarri label, and I played them in random order. I had not heard of Misaki Motofuji, who plays "the baritone sax in all types of free jazz settings". That's the first line of information that made me think, 'not my cupper', but I started listening and enjoyed what I heard. She also plays with various bands, and in 2020 she gave her first-ever solo performance at 28. She did that at Ftarri, following working at home using effects. In her performance, she uses various layers. In concert uses the baritone saxophone, clarinet, electronics, field recordings and whistle. There are four distinct sections in her concert from May 9, 2022. Opening with some breathing sounds, which slowly morph into the clarinet. Around the fifteen-minute break, we find the only section in this forty-five-minute work that is free improvisation, as you may think it sounds. However, not for long as it is replaced with a drone section and a large part of field recordings from Tokyo, and long-form baritone saxophone and shorter clarinet sounds. The whole end piece is the baritone solo, and again Motofuji plays sustaining, and it all sounds quite deep, as is expected from this instrument. Here the music sounds like a menacing drone, forcefully present. That is undoubtedly a strong ending to a concert that started at the level of inaudibility. Motofuji elegantly goes from one extreme to another and delivers a great release.
From another generation is Masahiko Okura (1966). His music was reviewed several times in Vital Weekly but mainly in improvisation with others, going to Vital Weekly 156. In 2004, he released his first solo CD, which I believe I didn't hear. However, I am told that the release caused quite a ripple. Following that, he didn't have a solo release until 2019, when he released a cassette on his No Schools Recordings imprint. 'CTX1' is then his second solo CD. Here, he has five pieces of music, and he plays the clarinet (two pieces), bass clarinet (one piece), and contrabass clarinet (two pieces). I best like the clarinet from the family of wind instruments for reasons I am not entirely sure of myself. In his playing of these instruments, Okura has a fairly traditional approach to the instrument. The pieces are placed on the CD in descending order, so we start with the higher pitches of the clarinet and end with the lowest contrabass clarinet. I like the music best when it plays sustaining tones. Unlike Phill Niblock, we hear Okura breathing, getting more air for the next round of single tones. In the bass clarinet piece, 'bcl', there is the most improvisational approach and, for me, broke the carefully built tension between the two pieces before this and the two pieces that followed. All in all, however, I think this is an excellent release.
Behind Active Memory Unit, we find Masahiko Okura again, but this time without his wind instruments, sitting behind the piano and sinewaves. I reviewed an earlier release, but that was some time ago (Vital Weekly 894). Back then, it was an ensemble playing the slide whistle. I wasn't that blown away by that release, but I most certainly love this new release. The sinewaves are deep and massive, like a lingering drone. Usually, sinewaves can be shrill and piercing, but they are thick and warm whatever set Okura uses. The piano is squeezed in there, not really hidden inside the music but also not very much on top of the music. Okura plays sparse notes, figures or fragments. Because of the sinewaves, it is not easy to say if these piano notes are played with some sustain, and that part disappears in the sinewaves. Each piano fragment is followed by some silence and then repeated. A work of ambient music, one could say, music to fill up the apartment, and I played this at a most moderate volume, which made it nicely present in my living room without being demanding. In what way is the music to be seen as 'active recovering'? I am not sure, it all seems relatively passive, and I mean this in a very positive manner. A simple concept, but Okura executes it with great care. Like so many recordings from Ftarri, this is a live recording from Ftarri's home base, and it is simply gorgeous.
Then we have the remarkable concert by Tetuzi Akiyama (electric guitar) and Ayami Suzuki (voice, electronics). The first I have known for many years, and the second I heard a few works of, of which 'Vista' was her first solo release (Vital Weekly 1365). She has roots in singing Irish folk music. Still, in her solo work, she uses electronics and together with the spaced-out electric guitar of Akiyama, this is one hell of an atmospheric musical trip. Very rarely do we recognize the guitar of Akiyama as such. Whatever he does on the guitar this time, it very little resembles the sort of guitar playing we know him for. He creates invisible textures; you have to assume they are there. We often hear Suzuki's voice in a wordless (at least, that's what I believe) chant that isn't chant. Here too, we deal with atmospherics rather than something very concrete. The music never becomes static and consistently is on the move; slow, steady, and yet moving. Only in a few instances the music reminds us of this improvised music. It's very hard to pinpoint these places, but I think they are definitely there. I found this a most remarkable CD, something that I could not see coming from Ftarri, but, on the other hand, it also fits the label's catalogue very well.
The last new release is by Masahide Tokunaga, the alto saxophonist. In 2022 he was asked by the Chinese musician Zhu Wenbo for a solo composition, which became 'Observer', a text score composition. He plays a revised version on this CD, with the composer on alto saxophone, Tomoki Tai on viola da gamba and Fumi Endo on an upright piano. Before and after this piece, which takes up the central portion of the release, there are two solo improvisations by Tokunaga. These improvisations are delicate pieces of music in which Tokunaga plays the horn in long sustaining mode, with intervals of silence. Silence plays, to some extent, also a part in the trio version (and I assume the solo version, too) of 'Observer'. It's a pity not to see the text/score behind this piece. It all sounds fascinating, but how are these decisions made? In the opening minutes, stretching out to twenty minutes, the three instruments play together in short phrases, followed by some silence. Over time, these silences become smaller and smaller and disappear so that the fragments become bigger and bigger. Yet, the (near) silence never entirely disappears. The playing is slow and majestic, like one long, zen-like brush on the viola and alto saxophone, while the piano adds singular notes. The three players use their concentration to play this piece, and I think they require a similar concentration from the listener. Listen and do not engage in any other activity. Observe the music and discover its beauty. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ftarri.com/
THE LAST DOSSIER (CD compilation by Impulsy Stetoskopu)
DEVIATION SOCIAL - AT HOTEL UTAH SAN FRANCISCO 31 JULY 1982 (CD by Impulsy Stetoskopu)
There are many labels out there that deal with the past. Often one specific part of the past. Polish label Impulsy Stetoskopu deals with the obscure part of the noise end of the cassette world. The first disc here is a compilation of Polish underground music from the very early 80s. Obviously, I like to be able to say, 'good that we hear about this stuff, as I know it's great stuff, being old and such', but that is not the case. On the top of my head, I can't think of no Polish industrial act or label from the 80s, which is hardly a surprise with the iron curtain firmly shut. On 'The Last Dossier' we find Artur R. Sztukalski, Krzysztof Kudla (of whom I learned now I had heard music on a few compilations, two of which are from the Netherlands; I don't think I made the connection to Poland), The RED SHOES, Rana and Ars Sonitus. I have no evidence to support my theory, but outside the official academic studios, it must not have been easy to get great equipment to make some home-brew noise music. The music here supports that notion. Especially the Kudla pieces are prime examples of some very low-resolution cassette loops, and also the radio sounds collage by Sztukalski is something in that vein. Some delay, cutting up radio sounds, like so much was conducted in the first half of the 80s. Rana's live piece is more akin to power electronics and is where this compilation is at its noisiest, along with Ars Sonitus. The two pieces by The Red Shoes, from 1989, are a remarkable step up in the world of technology and are sadly a bit too short. Ars Sonitus has the most recent track, from 1991-1992, so this compilation follows in chronological order development in the Polish underground. Not every track is a winner, but overall an interesting historical document.
The name Deviation Social is one I know from 'books' and old magazines, rather than that I know the music. I associate the name with California, the early 80s, noise music and performance, which is what this is about. The performance element is, of course, not present in these recordings. Inspired by the founding fathers of industrial music, Throbbing Gristle, SPK and The Leather Nun, the group was built around Art Injeyan. I have no idea how many members there were or what instruments they played. I would guess they had the necessary synthesizers, a drum machine, taped voice, a microphone and, at one point, the trumpet, another reference to TG and their 'Heathen Earth' album. But copyists or not, I immensely enjoy this particular live recording. 1982 was still early in their career, and I have no idea how their music developed, but this sounded great enough. The music has some of that raw power, audience talk, and a direct in-your-face sound. As far as I can see, the recording is a complete concert without any editing. Not every second of the music is great, as we hear the group searching for a sound at times, but that also adds to the music's charm. This is a great historical document that sends me on the lookout for more of their music. (FdW)
––– Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
GONÇALO ALMEIDA - IMPROVISATIONS ON AMPLIFIED & PREPARED DOUBLE BASS (CD by Shhpuma)
Gonçalo Almeida is not a new name to appear in Vital Weekly. Last year we had DOMUS and Hydra Ensemble & Spinifex. Hailing from Portugal, he studied double bass at Rotterdam Conservatory, runs his label (Cylinder Recordings) and is a musician with a broad musical palette ranging from the fierce metal of Albatre to the more serene but no less intense Hydra Ensemble. On DOMUS he used distortion as an effect to create sound worlds; here, it’s only an amplifier, double bass and a volume pedal. Well, and the mysterious preparations, of course. These three elements are the basics. In seven improvisations, Almeida leads us through the possibilities this limited setup can be used to make sounds, structures & songs. The first one is the longest one, just under ten minutes. There’s an undercurrent of feedback to set the mood. Then rhythms and intervals are introduced -how? That’s a mystery to solve. The music grows in intensity and flows into mellower waters with more feedback exercises. Toward the end there’s some fierce and explosive bowing. This is not how a standard double bass should sound like. Most people think of double bass as the one playing the walking bass. Here we have the double bass as a sound source to create soundscapes or meditations to dive into as one examines the different timbres and manipulations in space between the amplifier, double bass and microphone. Because let me be clear: this isn’t background music at a cocktail party. The last piece has more conventional bass playing, almost a walking bass with twisted feedback and rhythm. As I was listening to the release, all 33 minutes of it, I kept thinking that Almeida was maybe dancing with the double bass in front of the amplifier. A wicked dance to get the sounds he wanted. Everything he does here intends to discover what works and follow up on that discovery. I found it irresistible to listen to. One precaution, though: if you listen to this with headphones, please adjust the volume. It gets pretty loud. What I would like to hear in the future is a duo with Terrie Hessels from The Ex or with Jasper Stadhouders; they have the same uncompromising approach to music. (MDS)
––– Address: https://shhpuma.bandcamp.com/
@C & DRUMMING GP - FOR PERCUSSION (CD by Cronica Electronica)
LUCA FORCUCCI - TERRA (CD by Cronica Electronica)
The Portuguese duo of Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela have already been working together for over twenty years. They can be seen as both pioneers and prophets of all things laptops. Much of their music finds its roots in interacting together, with software, hardware and sounds. Here, they do something unusual for them: working with Drumming GP, a percussion ensemble by Miguel Bernat. Improvisation goes out of the door, and composition is welcomed. of course, things are never that black and white, as the composition can also be seen as a set of instructions. Over the years, @C played with the ensemble, or parts thereof, and excerpts (I think) can be found on this CD. The idea is, again, interaction, but now on a more significant level, with computers to the left and drummers to the right. @C uses various techniques to capture and process sounds. One fascinating example is '88, For Stones, Objects, Microphones, Electronics', which is captured in space, with microphones, and many resonances are going on. You can almost feel the venue, and the sound is crystal clear. There is also a more traditional approach of working with synthetic percussion and samples ('88R' and '66, For Sampled Standing Bells, Computer') which is more akin to a remix. Sometimes the percussion players have the upper hand, such as in '63, For Percussion, Synthetic Percussion, Electronics', and @C's role is modestly colouring drones as a hotbed. It makes for a powerful opening piece, as it's not yet as abstract as some of the other pieces. The following piece, '58, For Two Marimbas & Two Computers', is one of those abstract approaches meeting the 'real' marimbas. There is an equilibrium here, but everybody has to be careful not to be the dominant player. There is quite some variation here, which makes this an excellent showcase for both @C and Drumming GP. The latter also worked with others, but this is my first encounter, and it's a great one.
@C are also the people who run Cronica Electronica, and they just released a new album by Luca Forcucci. Many of the releases on Cronica may have their roots in computer technology, but it is not exclusively devoting its time to that. From Forcucci, we reviewed various releases before (Vital Weekly 1353, 1216, 1071 and 883). 'Terra' is a five-part work in which he uses cello, percussion, live electronics, fragments, drifts and territories. The latter is to be understood as parts being recorded in Los Angeles, Recife, and Beirut, field recordings, and his playing of instruments. Music from different places, various times and which he cuts and pastes together. A new context for all of them culminated in the five parts/pieces. The music is flown in from around the world but is joined together in the Swiss Jura mountains, where Forcucci had a three-day residency and a concert. I am unsure if the CD represents the live recording or if this is another reshaping or remodelling of the music. The cover mentions '(de)composed & mixed', which suggests the latter. Whatever, the music is pretty exciting, like @C working with percussive sounds. The combination of cello and percussion with Forcucci works pretty well. The electronics fly high above, or way below this, cut-up, fragmentized, rendered beyond recognition. Somewhere on the cross-road of electro-acoustic music, improvisation and computer music, 'Terra' walks a path in the terra incognita, but in a hybrid way; sometimes, the path is very recognizable. A short release, at thirty-five minutes, but packed with vibrant music, so it's full of energy but without too many moments of rest. Also not the most accessible release. I imagine that this must have been an overwhelming experience in concert. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cronica.bandcamp.com/
KREYSING & EMERGE - RESSOURCEN (CD by Attentation Circuit)
PHILIPPE PETIT - SLEEPWATCHING THE STARS DANCE (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
WILFRIED HANRATH & BOBAN RISTVESKI - BE HERE NOW (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
INNOCENT BUT GUILTY & NLC FEAT. WOLF CITY - DYSTOPIAN THOUGHTS (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
DOUG & CHUCK - THE BEST OF CHUCK & DOUG (cassette by Attenuation Circuit)
Germany's Attenuation Circuit is certainly busy as hell when it comes to having new releases. Here we have no less than five across various formats. On a real CD, and I guess that's because the label is confident about the quality, we find label boss EMERGE (preferred spelling) with Anja Kreysing. The latter uses a short (German) text by Gerald Fiebig (another label boss here), which deals with "various aspects of individual and collective, fossil and immaterial resources". Kreysing had this text read by speech software, which she feeds through granular synthesis while EMERGE adds his brand of sound recycling. The text is not easy to follow, or rather not at all, but this works pretty well as a resource to generate musical material. This is a rather short release, just under twenty-six minutes, but it is packed with sounds. The listener isn't allowed to grasp for breath, with the continuous bending of sounds, morphing into something new all the time, and with speech fragments popping in and out. At one point, everything morphs into a beat or two, but the stretching and pitching are going on and on. It is a powerful work, and I'm convinced of that, and for one, I thought this was about the right length for this work. Usually, I am not blown away by relatively short releases. I mean, why spill the resource of a CD filling it with one-third of music? However, there was so much going on in this case that I took a break from hearing something else once it was over. 'Ressourcen' contains some fascinating modern computer music.
Then, on CDR, we find a modular synth prophet, Philippe Petit. He works as a driving force behind all things modular, and on the cover, he lists what kind of gear he uses per track. I am always slightly indifferent towards technology, so a Buchla 200, Serge 73/75 or a Cymbalom doesn't cause much excitement or flickering of recognition. What I do like to know, which isn't mentioned, is whether this music results from improvisation or does Petit use a lot of editing. The information mentions that recently Petit toured a lot less and studied electroacoustic music, and I can see this music as the result of learning about that. In his music, Petit has quite a free approach and, at times, quite a brutal one. Being careful isn't exactly his strong power, but I greatly like his music. At times I think he has that total improvisation attitude, but it is somewhat hidden in his experience playing his instruments. It all bursts and squeaks, sizzles and rumbles, but in each of the seven pieces, things never vanish in a black hole. Petit keeps an eye on the ball and works towards a result rather than adding and bending tones ad infinitum. These seven pieces make a very powerful release, leaving the listener grasping for breath.
Boban Ristevski seems to have found a steady home with Attenuation Circuit, as many of his recent releases are on this label. Collaborations are his main interest, and if my count is correct, this is the seventh I have heard from him. This time he teams up with Wilfried Hanrath. I heard some of Hanrath's music before, but I don't know enough about him. He plays bass and guitar. Ristveski is, so I believe, a man for all things laptop. I have no idea how things are arranged with these collaborations Ristevski does, but somehow I think he's the one controlling the output. So whatever the other does, Ristevski does extensive processing and mixing. This new release is dedicated to Ram Dass, the LSD psychologist who became a Hindu guru after his trip to India. The release title is from a book he wrote that introduced Eastern spirituality to Western countercultures (I am copying the information here!). Whatever the input was, we no longer hear it anymore. I guess it must be if these are a guitar and bass. These sounds are stretched out to vast drone, hissy and warm, with shorter and rhythmic loops. These are laid out in very minimal terms. Listen superficially; I think the music wants you to do that, and it seems nothing changes. I like to play this kind of music at a quiet volume, slowly filling up the living room. Play it louder, and you'll notice a more industrial undercurrent, which is interesting but doesn't work for me that much on that level. Interestingly the third piece sounded the most guitar-like and raga-like in all its drone-ness. Nie release, once again!
The final CDR release has an AI-generated cover. In the past weeks, chat AI and imagine AI have been all over social media; apparently, it is the new lunchbreak activity. Ask a question and get a silly answer, but other than 'because you can', you can ask why you should. The two images on this cover are unremarkable at best. Maybe there is a dystopian tone in there; who knows? NLC has been featured a couple of times in recent months. I don't think I heard of Innocent But Guilty before, who are from Bordeaux. The featuring Wolf City is from Paris. I never know what that means; is that one track? A minor role, perhaps? To be honest, I am not sure about this release. The production is great, the music is played well, and there is some variety. The music is ambient-like but with rock influences. Guitar and violin play an important role, along with piano, whispering voices, and drums (or drum machines). Think ambient and post-rock with a lot of electronics, a dash of orchestral sounds, and heavenly singing. Maybe with that AI in mind, I thought that one could call this a soundtrack for dystopian thoughts, but maybe also as seen from the perspective of AI. If I have dystopian thoughts, I think of the sound of destruction, of leaking nuclear power plants and the death rattle of the human world. As such, maybe the musical effort here is too pleasant. Or maybe, it is just me...
Who are Doug & Chuck, and why is there a 'best of'? Going back to 1988, Stephen Thomas (these days a member of the Dead Brothers, and much more) and Dave Philips (best known for his radical solo work, and working with Schimpfluch Gruppe, but very early on with grindcore group Fear Of God), started to record music together. In 2000 they stopped as a duo. They recorded a lot of music, using samplers, guitar, bass, CD players, a groove box, voices and much more, which now compiled into eighteen pieces of music. All of this is news to me, but looking on Discogs, I see they never had any releases until this one, so there was little to know in the first place. The eighty minutes of music here is a wild ride. Heavy on the rhythmic samples, this sounds like nothing I heard from Phillips, but thinking about it, there is certainly already the seeds of his current extreme soundscaping here. The rattling of rhythms, loops, and samples are at times monotonous, without movement, and recorded quite loud, a forecast of things to come. Sometimes almost like techno music, groovy and dance-like, but also too much stuck in the minimalist groove. There is undoubtedly something wacky about this music, showing a humorous side that I didn't know was there. 'Goofy House Track' is such an off, funny ditty. In the end, it is all a bit much, to be honest, but I found it all most enjoyable, taking in one side of the cassette a day. (FdW)
––– Address: https://emerge.bandcamp.com/
Y BÜLBÜL, YUMURTA - NOT ONE, NOT TWO (LP by Pingipung)
This review could start with the usual. Here, we have two unknown musicians for me, or perhaps the music is a bit outside of my range. So, that's out of the way. And, spoiler alert, I like the album a lot. From Istanbul, we have Yumurta, a percussion player who did a bunch of drum improvisations, shipped off to Y Bülbül, who lives in London and had his debut on Pingipung in 2020. Bülbül means singing bird in Turkish and yumurta egg. If that is of any relevance. Y Bülbül uses rhythmic constructions as part of music in which he (?) adds a bass guitar, synthesizers, field recordings, and guitars. The result is an excellent album of very organic music. Almost as if the two were together in one studio recording this. There are influences from techno music, while the whole mood is very atmospheric. Quite laidback and yet uptempo. A bit of non-western music shines through; the music has a very filmic aspect. The playing is rather free (in 'I'm Free', for instance). With its emphasis on natural drums and percussion, one can argue there is also a krautrock-like element to the music, even when not always in the same motorik mode. Experimental isoOne the things that this record isn't, and maybe that's why I think. As I said, I immensely like this album, even when, perhaps, a bit outside my main frame, with references to Moondog, Holy Tongue and Luis Paniagua, which didn't mean much to me (except Moondog). One of the reasons for my excitement is that this record is a rather cheerful one. Playing moody and dark music all day is fine, but there comes a moment when one needs a ray of sunshine, and this week this ray is a full beam of sunlight: Y Bülbül, Yumurta, with the sunniest sounds that one desperately needs mid-winter (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.pingipung.de/
SLACKING - ROUNDHOUSE A BOOTLICKER (7" by Tribe Tapes)
Tribe Tapes have been doing more than just the tapes you might expect. Yes, they still do them, and yes, it's an awesome format - I love tapes because you HAVE to listen to the whole thing; skipping tracks like with CD is no option - but... What we have here is no tape. It's vinyl, 7", and that's a dedicated format. To release a 7" is a dedication because the production costs are freakingly high compared to the limited time the medium will give you. And the deeper the sound, the less time you can squeeze on there.
Before me is the debut vinyl release from Slacking. Slacking hails from Pittsburgh and is a reasonably new project doing harsh noise. His first release is from 2019, and his latest is from 2023, popping his vinyl cherry. I think I should describe the tracks as fierce yet clear noise collages. No distortion-noise, no noise-noise, but heavily stocked sounds, creating an in-your-face wall of sound. Side A was done 'solo' while side B is a fragment of a live collaboration with Mallard Theory. It's not an extended-release, just a little over 4 minutes per side because Grant Richardson of Gnawed fame did the mastering, and we all know he likes his bass frequencies to do the talking (and yes, that's a compliment, Grant). (BW)
––– Address: https://tribetapes.bandcamp.com/
VERTONEN - CAPSIZED (2CDR by Ballast)
A new release by Blake Edwards' music project Vertonen is always great news. Save for his noisiest work (of which we haven't seen a lot in recent times), I am always ready to explore more of his music. About 'Capsized', he writes that this is more "exploration of field recordings, shortwave, and electronics", as he did on previous works 'Territories Et Terrains', two times a double cassette release (see Vital Weekly 1343 and 1321), and the themes of 'Widow's Walk' (Vital Weekly 1291). That one was about Rebekah Harkness, the composer, sculptor and dance patron. On 'Capsized', we find 'Widow's Walk pt. 4' as the first track on the first disc. What I think is a bit odd is that the second track could be two pieces on the first disc, and on the second disc, the second track has eight pieces/parts. Why not have these as individual tracks on the disc? On disc one, we have two lengthy pieces (so, altogether, three parts, I think), and this Vertonen is at his most drone-like. 'Widow's Walk pt. 4' is one of those disappearance acts; it starts loud and slowly vanishes into the great nothing. 'The first section of 'Rotational Frame Dragging' slowly develops out of a slow bump and morphs into a mighty drone, while the second part is one of those drones at near inaudibility, a beautiful shimmer of sound. Disc two opens with 'ilphit [black yawn]', where we find Vertonen outside playing with pre-taped field recordings, re-recording them on a new machine. The main track here is the eight parts of 'Do Not Turn Over, Or Blood Will Fill The Lungs', which seem to contain more field recordings than on the first disc. Usually, they are unrecognizable but might have their origins in water sounds (thinking of the title here) and arrive guided by electronics. These pieces are around seven to eight minutes each, and, as always, the development is minimal. I couldn't say what kind of methods Vertonen applies, but my best guess would be that it combines analogue and digital techniques. In this lengthy piece, we find Vertonen in his most experimental form, yet the drone aspect is never far away. The music is mysterious and atmospheric, yet another great release. Be aware that I am biased here. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ballastnvp.blogspot.com/
LESLIE KEFFER - AETHEREAL (CDR by No Part Of It)
LESLIE KEFFER - REVERIE (CDR by No Part Of It)
VARIOUS - PAROXYSM: A BENEFIT COMPILATION FOR LESLIE KEFFER (2CDR by No Part Of It)
A whole batch of releases was sent to us from the 'No Part Of It'-label from Arvo Zylo. Don't expect to find everything being reviewed at once. It's just too much for that, and it would make me slack it, which I refuse. After these two releases, there are still more releases where these came from. So have you subscribed to the Vital Weekly mailing already?
The first one of this week is "Aethereal" by Leslie Keffer. Two weeks ago, Frans reviewed another album by Leslie, "Perceive" (Vital Weekly 1369). In that review, he mentioned the release having four extra tracks, which could have been a separate release. Guess what ... Supporting Leslie and buying one of the albums will give you 'the other album' as a free download. So, these tracks have already been reviewed, but I'll get into them a bit deeper.
Where "Perceive" has some layering of rhythms or 'sonic recurrences', "Aethereal" doesn't have any. The four tracks - sadly only 40 minutes - of music is a crossover between ambient and drone. You can play them over and over as they do precisely what proper ambient should do: They enrich the atmosphere of your immediate environment. The origin of the sounds is mostly Leslie's voice, and I mean... Wow. You can recognise a voice as such only 30 minutes into the CD ("Mourning"). But also, the 'cello' is her voice. And... And... As is written in the promo sheet: "Keffer can mimic brass, wind, and strings with the manipulation of her voice in ways that are unseen elsewhere in the genre of ambient/experimental music."
Another fragment from the promo sheet is this: "The result is challenging and innovative ambient music that is raw and down to earth, but also graceful and compelling" that's a good promo sheet because, as your humble reviewer, I have nothing to add.
The second one for this Leslie Keffer-related batch of releases is "Reverie", which turns out to be her second album. No, she has done way more than just two albums, but these recordings were made back in 2003, right after her first album "Dielectric Lull" was released. Somehow these tracks never were released before, so they give a nice insight into how she developed as an artist. The one-hour 8-track album is created with sounds from the radio: It's a magical thing we all know, especially when you turn the dial to frequencies that should not have any signal. The magick of the aether, waves becoming sound, a means of communication between entities at long distances or even different planes of existence.
As said, eight tracks hold the middle between drones, ambience, noise and static, with what I suspect here and there is a synthesized sound and/or the human voice. They generate a barren landscape of sounds, where it's never silent but never really happy or cosy. This is a good thing because, for comfortable and relaxed feelings, there is enough shitty pop music being produced which also played on the radio those days - but Leslie manages to bypass all of them.
As a musician, I've also played with the radio as a sound source. It is quite impressive how she captures all the different tracks' layers with radio as the basic source. Deep basses and higher-pitched layers in the drones, sudden squeaks properly placed through editing and very well-executed production. I can only imagine how people reacted to her first album, being a 'newbie' back then, trying to find her sound ... Impressive.
The final release I'm about to review has a little story. "Paroxysm: A Benefit Compilation For Leslie Keffer" has Leslie Keffer in the title indeed, and it's a fund-/awareness raiser. Paroxysm is medical and related to seizures or 'fits'. Back to Leslie's story: "Since she started making music in 2003, she has toured a good amount and collaborated with key figures in the scene. Unfortunately, activity had to slow down when Keffer's symptoms of epilepsy accelerated to the point of her being unable to work. She has been trying to get on disability for over five years."
Yep, this world is sometimes a cruel place to try to live in. So Arvo Zylo of the No Part Of It label and her musical collaborator in the drone project Blood Rhythms decided to do this compilation to raise some money to get her going and release financial tension. The tracks are available digitally, a 2-part CDR, and a few more options with extras to show your support.
The 29 tracks here are all over the place when you go into the covered styles. Noise, drones, ritual, guitar-based, song-based ... With an additional remark that there are many names ( almost all ;) I have never heard of, but my friend Jonathan Canady is on there, so I'm interested as his output is rare. So yeah, this is a compilation. And there are 29 tracks, and in advance, I will tell you that not everything will fit your taste, just as it didn't fit mine. But it's a fundraiser for a lady that deserves some love because, well, just read the review in the first paragraphs. She's quite amazing. And she should - no doubt she will - feel loved by so many people delivering high-quality tracks for this release.
I wanted to write down some personal highlights but ended up deleting the list because it was almost half of the release. (BW)
––– Address: https://nopartofit.bandcamp.com/
OCEAN VIVA SILVER – ĦAL SAFLIENI (print, download)
Ocean Viva Silver is the alias of French composer and translator Valerie Vivancos. Dreaming or the ‘dream state’ has in the past been an important theme in her music. She even named an earlier release “The Sleep In Opera” which consisted primarily of the breathing sounds of sleepers which, after editing, were live mixed before a sleeping audience. A recurring sound source is the human voice, in a sense also a breath, albeit a pitched one. A parallel theme is that of material and its animistic characters. Where in her release ‘Ipe’ she translated wood into sound, here it’s rocks; humming rocks. It could well be a new addition to her series ‘Releasing the Spirit of Objects’ which is started with ‘Ipe’. The liner notes don’t say.
Ħal Saflieni is built up from the recordings of rocks, most particularly the Summstein, a hollowed-out stone intended to create psycho-active auditory effects when one puts one's head inside and hums. Humming (drone) stones are the remains of ancient cults in various parts of the world, including Brittany. (quote from the liner notes). But also other rocks are being patted, beaten, scraped and made to resonate. Vivancos cleverly applies the dry fieldrecordings and ‘melts’ the sounds of the rocks into lava, a bubbling of frequencies. She also melts the concrete objects with the electronic layers. The latter sound a bit cheesy now and then, like they are from a preset of a softsynth but it’s juxtaposing of these mundane objects with the concrete that makes me return to this album again and again. (JS)
––– Address: https://ocean-viva-silver.bandcamp.com/album/al-saflieni
FERTILE GROUNDS (cassette compilation by Odmwa)
Someone went to great lengths to create a cassette compilation that looks and feels as if it was made in 1987 rather than in 2023. The credits are typed on a typewriter, the images are obscure, and it's Xeroxed like an old-fashioned item. The subtitle is 'a collection of impossible music', which is nice, but (without going into a discussion) what is impossible music anyway? Sixteen pieces of old and new music, including an old-fashioned 'Introduction' piece. The oldest is by Pseudo Code, from 1982, and If, Bwana, Big City Orchestra, Knurl, and Mhlest have pieces from 2022. As you can already see with these names, we are dealing with some old noise music. Add to this Kapotte Muziek, Anal Character, Smell & Quim, John Duncan M. Wrzosek, Humectant Interruption, Smersh, Bourbonese Qualk and Solomonoff & Von Hoffmannstahl, and you know the retro party is complete (oh, one track is 'interlude'). One could expect a lot of noise music, but that is not the case. Sure, there is some of that from the usual suspects, but the words 'electronic' and 'experimental' come to mind when hearing this. In that respect, this compilation is also a fine reminder of the ones from the 80s. A good compilation is not about just one genre, power electronics, for instance, but rather has a variety of styles, so that its easier to recognize who's doing what here. Certainly, with Bourbonese Qualk and Pseudo Code, recognizing is very easy, but also John Duncan and Big City Orchestra. A most enjoyable release indeed. No true fan of noise and related music should be without. (FdW)
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