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DE FABRIEK/ESPLENDOR GEOMETRICO - ROOIE DISCO/DISCO ROJO (2CD by Unifab) *
MARTIJN HOHMANN - DONKERE KAMER (CDR by Universaalkunst) *
MARTIJN HOHMANN - THE ANT-ARCTIC ANT-RECORD (object by Universaalkunst)
HARDY FOX - WALLPAPER (CD by Klanggalerie) *
TRISTAN KASTEN-KRAUSE/JESSICA PAVONE - IMAGES OF ONE (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
AGNEL LANZ VATCHER - ANIMALS (CD by Klanggalerie) *
NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS & BARNACLES - FROM SOLSTICE TO EQUINOX (CD by Klanggalerie) *
LUCAS / MOORE / MUSSON / NOBLE - CRUSHED AIR (CD by Earshots) *
TOM MILLS - MATERIAL STRUCTURE (cassette by Earshots)
RICHARD BEAUDOIN - DIGITAL MEMORY AND THE ARCHIVE (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
DYNASTI - QUANTUM PRIMITIV (CD by Klanggalerie) *
MODELBAU - INLETS (CDr by Love Earth Music) *
RELLY TARLO - TERRITORIAL LANDSCAPE NO.1 (LP by Slowscan) *
PETER FINCH - DANCES INTERDITES (LP by Slowscan) *
ENZO MINARELLI - LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO (LP by Slowscan) *
WILLEM DE RIDDER - ALL CHEMIX RADIO (2LP by Slowscan) *
ERIC ANGELO BESSEL - VISITATION (LP by Lore City Music) *
RUXPIN & STAFRĆNN HÁKON - MEET ME IN FOREVER (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
BEN RATH - RESOLVE (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
CLOSER BONES - LIVING A NIGHTMARE: ROAD TO DISASTER (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
RNP_2 (CDR, private) *
LIMINAL HAZE - VOLUME 7 (cassette by Hooker Vision) *
C'EST PAS VENDABLE! VOLUME 2 (cassette by Pas Vendable Records)
DEMETRIO CECCHITELLI - SOUNDSCAPE OVERVIEW (cassette by Lost Children) *
JONATHAN DEASY - LE FLÉTRISSEMENT (cassette by Momentarily Records) *
BRIAN GRAINGER - DISSOLVING IN A BODY (cassette by Momentarily Records) *
N - VIELANK/WOOSMER (cassette by Momentarily Records) *
DAMON SMITH/LOUIS WALL/NNN COOK - FIRE POINT (cassette by Notice Recordings) *
DE FABRIEK/ESPLENDOR GEOMETRICO - ROOIE DISCO/DISCO ROJO (2CD by Unifab)
MARTIJN HOHMANN - DONKERE KAMER (CDR by Universaalkunst)
MARTIJN HOHMANN - THE ANT-ARCTIC ANT-RECORD ((object by Universaalkunst)
Nothing was short of a shock when De Fabriek released 'Made In Spain' in the late 80s. A blast that I hadn't seen coming, following the various cassettes I heard from the group and their two LPs, 'Schafttijdsamba' and 'Neveleiland'. 'Made In Spain' was literally made in Spain, a release by Discos Esplendor Geometrico (re-issued by BFE Records, see Vital Weekly 1151), the label that started releasing music by the band of the same name, but grew into a fully operational label. De Fabriek had, almost chameleon-like, started to use the same musical idiom as their Spanish friends. That included harsh rhythms, radio transmissions, and noise, and their sound came very close to their Spanish counterparts. Here we have a double CD, with one disc containing music by De Fabriek and one by Esplendor Geometrico. As much as I followed De Fabriek's music over the years, I admit that the Esplendor Geometrico I haven't heard a proper release in a long time. The last thing I heard is when their music went from industrial to something more (hard) techno. 'Rooie Disco/Disco Rojo' means 'red disco' and comes in a metal box with a few circle-shaped pieces of paper and a hand stamped paper bag. Red and black are the colours, and it looks like an 80s package. I started with De Fabriek, where we find main man R. van Dellen, label boss M. Hohmann, old comrade P. van Vliet and recent members P. Ehrmann, D. Reneman, R. Seiden Faden, S. Steiner and Q. Dierick. Chameleon-like music is what I learned over the past forty years is what De Fabriek. They avoid no musical style (it seems), and it's no longer a surprise to see them return to that classic Esplendor Geometrico sound. Big fat machine rhythms that go straight into a battered MS-20 adding a few radio waves and spoken word samples. At the same time, the music is not always like disco, the strong motorik drive is a constant presence in many of these pieces, which could lead to some serious robotic moves. Still, the music always sounds very playful; humour isn't shunned here. Great one.
Esplendor Geometrico has fewer pieces and takes less time, but, surprisingly, they, too, stay with a theme of red disco, i.e. nothing too dance-like, but that excellent straight-forward industrial hard rhythm sound. Perhaps not as distorted as on their earliest work (documented on '1980-1982', one of my all-time favourite CD releases), as these works show a bit more refinement in their brutalist approach, also when comparing this to De Fabriek, but the differences are marginal. Perhaps this is the kind of music they still do, or maybe something they returned to for the occasion, I don't know, but it made me think I should investigate this group's history a bit more, as I noticed I still enjoy this kind of rhythm 'n noise a lot.
During the day, label boss Martijn Hohmann works as a designer, which shows in the release I just reviewed and the other two items in the mail. The first is a re-issue on CDR of his 'Donkere Kamer' release, which was previously available as a DAT-only release by Now DAT's What I Call Music'. The dark room is the translation and refers to photographer Mark Rietveld, who passed away last year. He was active in Hohmann's hometown Breda, before relocating to Antwerpen. In the five pieces of 'Donkere Kamer', Hohmann uses various field recordings from both cities, which he subsequently processed and along with those, he plays software synthesizers. Dark and ominous tones, with field recordings mostly covered with the debris of sound effects, this is some fine dark ambient. This re-issue comes in an envelope used for photographic paper with one negative, a few black and white photos and throughout the package, fits the austerity of the music. A loving remembrance, and great to see it released beyond the limitation of a DAT only.
The other new release is more of an object. On a big black cardboard piece, something looks like a record, shaped like Antarctica, with lockgroove, engraved with a laser cutter. Play at your risk, but luckily I have an old turntable to that end. On the backside, we find a 3"CDR, with one track from Hohmann's forthcoming record, 'Gaandeweg'. For this piece, Hohmann uses "processed recordings of ice melting and the inside of a Formica Polyctena ants nest". Not exactly a new musical concept, using the recording of melting ice (Collin Olan did a 3"CDR for Apestaartje in 2002, not sure if we reviewed this). The gradual transformation of ice into water is always fascinating listening. How that ants nest fits in, I don't know. From the isolated tones of the start to the dark and murky drones at the end, this piece takes twenty-one minutes of slow, linear building and covers a similar dark territory that can be found in Hohmann's other musical work. A great object and a damn fine piece of music. (FdW)
––– Address: https://universaalkunst.bandcamp.com/
HARDY FOX - WALLPAPER (CD by Klanggalerie)
In January 1892, Charlotte Perkins Gilman published her short story ‘The Yellow Wall-paper’. The story was lauded and continues to be praised, not only as an early work of feminist literature but also as a ground-breaking piece of horror fiction. In October 2018, Hardy Fox died, leaving behind a legacy of unreleased music. These two events correlate on this album. How? Well, to begin with, Hardy Fox. Oh, where to begin? Hardy Fox was one of the most important composers of modern music, but very few people are actually aware of his massive body of work. From the late 1960s onwards, Hardy was band member and main composer for The Residents and responsible for much, if not most, of the music of the eyeballed foursome. His creative and free spirit resonate in many of the experimental avant-garde, and truly classic (and I don’t use the word classic light-heartedly) Residents-albums. Hardy stopped touring with The Residents due to health issues a few years before his death, concentrating on a solo career using various intriguing pseudonyms before returning to release music under his given name. When Hardy passed in 2018, the rights to all Hardy solo recordings were passed on to the label Klanggalerie, who have been releasing various of his projects since. And this album, Wallpaper, is a soundscape-interpretation the Charlotte Perkins Gilman story. In Gilman’s brief story, written in the first person as a collection of diary entries, the main character is a woman who, with her husband, has rented an old mansion for the summer. Moving into the house, the woman is restricted in her daily life by her husband, who claims she suffers from post-natal hysterical tendencies. In an attempt to ‘calm her down’, the husband locks her inside a room decorated with yellow wallpaper, where she spends endless days slowly descending into a state of madness – describing her room, its meagre content and the wallpaper pattern in infinite detail in her diary. After a while, she discovers a woman hidden within the wallpaper pattern and ends up trying to free the woman by peeling the wallpaper bit by bit from the walls, ultimately transforming into the trapped woman herself. This album holds a twist on the original story. Wallpaper features a male narrator. A certain Joey R. reads the various entries from a first-person perspective, lamenting his declining mental state and the problems this causes in his relationship to Charlotte. Hardy Fox died from brain cancer. Would it be improper to contemplate the thought we might be listening to Hardy describing his own battle with illness? To be honest, I have no idea who Joey R. is – nor could I find any information online. Could it be that (further suggestive thinking) we are actually listening to Hardy’s voice? The music itself is unobtrusive, ambient, almost like the wallpaper in the room. It’s electronic, keyboard-based, reminiscent of the later Residents-albums, but without Nolan Cook’s guitar. It is a calming listen until you start listening to the harrowing words and get sucked into the main character’s gradual mental decline. I realize my weak spots for spoken word albums, The Residents and especially for Hardy Fox – who I once met and who turned out to be a kind and friendly gentleman. Having admitted to these weak spots, this album is still the best solo album by Hardy Fox – it is calming, harrowing, soothing and disturbing. All at once. (FK)
––– Address: https://www.klanggalerie.com/
TRISTAN KASTEN-KRAUSE/JESSICA PAVONE - IMAGES OF ONE (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
What are the odds that two players both have instruments made by the same luthier, especially if the violin family of instruments is concerned and bought in different parts of the United States and other decades. At least, that’s what the Bandcamp page says. Tristan Kasten-Krause plays the double bass, and Jessica Pavone the viola. A small list of people Tristan has worked or performed with: Alvin Lucier, Caroline Shaw, David Lang, Henry Threadgill, Howard Shore & Steve Reich. Jessica has worked and performed with Mary Halvorson, Luke Stewart, Ava Mendoza and many others.
This is their first release together. The harmonics of the double bass and the viola blend in together exquisitely. At times there isn’t telling what instrument makes what sound. The material is essentially minimalist, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. In the first track, Tristan and Jessica play a kind of tag with notes; one note shifts into the same note and the sound is shifted because one player holds the note a little longer than the other or changes the note and creates a subtly shifting melody. It’s awesome in its simplicity. This could easily go wrong, but both are accomplished musicians with a keen ear.
And then there are the sudden silences that create tension. It’s not all monody here; in 'Rarefaction', chords are created, like a slow-moving elegy, moving from dense textures to a single interval in the double bass and viola. The merging of the two instruments is not a happy marriage. No joyful dancing here. It’s a difficult one with many arguments and brooding tension, making excellent music! Another great release on Relative Pitch records. (MDS)
––– Address: https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/
AGNEL LANZ VATCHER - ANIMALS (CD by Klanggalerie)
NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS & BARNACLES - FROM SOLSTICE TO EQUINOX (CD by Klanggalerie)
I always think of Klanggaalerie as a label with two faces; one is for new and improvised music, and one is for new music by the old guard or old music by the same old musicians. There are lots of re-issues, but I like that they also have new releases by people like Edward Ka-spel or Nigel Ayers. But let's first dip into the music of a trio of Sophie Agnel (piano), Michael Vatcher (drums) and Joke Lanz (turntables). Agnel and Vatcher are mainstays from the improvised music world, but their teaming up with Lanz may be strange. One could say he, too, is a member of the old guard, as Sudden Infant has been around for many years. Normally, I'd be happy to leave all matters of free improvisation to other people, but this trio, captured in a studio in France in 2018, play the music that I found quite fascinating. That is primarily due to the playing of Lanz. The first time I heard a turntable being played, or four, was by Christian Marclay in the mid-80s, and I didn't realize it then, but that was improvised music. Yet, in improvisation with other instruments and using 'regular' vinyl, a player may add different musical layers and textures. Agnel and Vatcher add their free improvisation standards to Lanz's vinyl selection on this disc. Sometimes, they lose me, and I think Lanz plays a free jazz record with piano and drums to confuse his co-workers. As always, I might be wrong. Furthermore, I believe Lanz brings a punky, I don't care attitude. Of course, that is not alien to the world of (very) free improvisation, but Lanz' attitude towards vinyl provokes the other players to make some bold moves too. Many of the thirteen songs are short and to the point, keeping the speed high in this surprising release; I love it!
As mentioned before, Nigel Ayers is, of course, decades behind Nocturnal Emissions (without The), with a catalogue as long as your arm and two legs. He works long distance, no doubt, with Matteo Uggeri, also known as Barnacles. The Italian musician gets credit for samples, field recordings, rhythms, arrangments, mixing and titles, while Ayers plays the guitar, bass, vocals, samples, rhythms and lyrics. A bunch of guest players contribute (mostly) to a single track, and instruments include bass, saxophone, cello, piano, guitar, violin, ukulele and noises. The eleven pieces on this disc, I would say, can be called songs. In each of these (save for the last), the voice of Ayers is present, and he's not really singing but more reciting texts. He's not putting on the voice of a poet but has a slightly more commandeering voice, as if he's on the barricades, leading the strikers. In the music here, rhythm plays an important role, at times quite dub-like or trip-hop-like. I am sure I wrote this before, but lyrics and analyzing them is not my forte. I treat the voice as being just another instrument. Along with the rhythms, the sampled sounds and instruments add a surprising element of something that I would (perhaps all too easily) classify as pop music. Just the reciting, not singing, makes this less of a pop release, and throughout this release, this reciting works a bit against the release. No doubt that is due to me not paying attention to the lyrical content, and then the voice becomes a focal (pun intended) point of the music, where I would instead divert my attention to the music itself. Even at forty-four minutes, it was a bit much in the end. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.klanggalerie.com/
LUCAS / MOORE / MUSSON / NOBLE - CRUSHED AIR (CD by Earshots)
TOM MILLS - MATERIAL STRUCTURE (cassette by Earshots)
The music on this disc was already in May 2017, but also now finds a way onto a compact disc. I don't know why there is such a gap. The main piece of the release is the last piece in which all four musicians play together. The other two are duets. The first is by N.O. Moore (guitar & electronics) and Steve Noble (drums), and the other is by Edward Lucas (trombone & feedback) and Rachel Musson (tenor saxophone). Both these duets are around nine minutes, while the main dish is thirty-one minutes long. In their quartet form, the players are most comfortable playing together, and it sounds as one would expect from a group of skilled improvisers. Their instruments are played in a more or less traditional fashion, and we recognize how they sound; that is, most of the time, when chaos rules the earth and they leap into distortion, it becomes increasingly difficult to figure out who's doing what. When electronics and feedback are used, electro-acoustic music creeps into the music, which is excellent news. There is a delicate interaction between these players, leaving space where necessary or playing when needed. I preferred the first of the two duets, as it sounds pretty contemplative, working on the instruments to create an atmosphere. In contrast, on the second, it was all a bit too traditional free improvisation for my taste. That's not where my heart lies.
Another kind of improvisation is done by Tom Mills, whose only credit is 'electronics'. He offers six pieces of 'Material Structure'. What kind of electronics, we don't know. Mills also plays the "Theremin in Bobhowler with Alicia Gardener-Trejo and Andrew Woodhead and also played on the album ‘Improvisers Inside Electronics’ alongside Antonio Acunzo, Tony Hardie-Bick and N.O Moore". I will not even guess the nature of these electronics; they could be modular or digital. The cover could have been more specific. Each of the six pieces is around five minutes, with two being three and one six. In these pieces, Mills explores the minimalist ends of noise and drones. The music is loud, and all the nuances are cut off, so there is quite a brutalist approach here. Once a machine is set in motion, it stays in a similar motion, slowly repeating phrases and cracking about. Mills is consistent in his approach, and I immensely enjoy this as part of my two-a-week noise releases. At thirty minutes of this music, I also think this was enough. (FdW)
––– Address: https://earshots.org/
RICHARD BEAUDOIN - DIGITAL MEMORY AND THE ARCHIVE (CD by New Focus Recordings)
This is a release with solo cello music - mainly. There is also a duet and an original recording. I'll come back to that. The cello has a very 'dramatic' sound; at the same time, it expresses melancholy. You cannot play it very fast, so it always conveys an atmosphere of measure, besides residing in the mid-to-low frequency range, adding a degree of sadness. Nevertheless, its mastery has brought forward musicians such as Pablo Casals and Mstislav Rostropovich, who have produced beautiful performances and recordings. Although cellos often appear in indie and rock music, there is also an affinity to metal, as with Mr Marcaille, Metallica, or industrial, when Laura Maes played with Militia.
The first track on this release invokes memories of Pablo Casals. And it is titled 'Reproduccio (after Casals-Bach)'. The others have a mostly 'romantic' character, you could say, in no way contemporary classical music as you would initially expect. At this point, it is necessary to talk about the composer Richard Beaudoin. He is the 'Architect' of what he has termed the 'microtiming technique'. He transcribes recordings of classical or other music by analysing the pace of the music, i.e. the rhythm of playing, broken down into milli-seconds. This would give a timing track. I am not totally sure whether this also includes the pitch of the music - it looks like it from the graphics, but it is not explained. On this 'score' he then develops his own music by rearranging and modulating the material, or maybe totally creating it anew, based on the timing track.
The effect is, as said, more romantic than contemporary, which, I believe, is totally in the hands of the composer. The music is beautiful in character, as said, both in the way of the (solo) cello sound, the relaxed pace, and the melodic lines. Track one, 'Reproduccio' still faintly sounds like Casals playing Bach. But from track two onwards, I started wondering what the point was in this rather technical approach. Apparently, one goal is to analyse the timing and playing technique of performing artists (Marta Argerich on track 2) like under a magnifying glass. Nevertheless, I challenge that the 'new' music has much quality, apart from that offered by using the cello as the lead instrument. I find little that would trap my attention in the melody lines (again, apart from the first track). It all seems coincidental to me, though there is a faint memory of the character of the originals, the Thelonius Monk (jazz) piece sounding different to the other classical tracks. There is one exception, which is the last Beaudoin track, 'Les deux lauriers' where he has analysed a Debussy song. This is the duet, and the second cello adds variety and drama to the piece. What thrilled me, though, was the addition of the original recording as the last track. A piano and soprano vocals rendition of 'La chevelure' by Debussy. It starts with crackling (a 78 record?) and ends on a minute or so of run-out groove. The idea of adding the track this way I found really attractive, allowing a comparison with the 'processed' music. I am not sure the regular 'click' of the run-out was included in the analysis, which would undoubtedly add some exciting aspects; nevertheless, there is a faint similarity between the two pieces in the way of the dramatic development and a distant memory of the melodic lines. But not more.
But still, not a release that I found compelling. After a good start, it let me down a little, and the last track, though it did intrigue me as a concept, stands out a bit too much, with little context. Maybe I am not 'intellectual' enough to appreciate this kind of constructivism. (RSW)
––– Address: https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/
DYNASTI - QUANTUM PRIMITIV (CD by Klanggalerie)
MODELBAU - INLETS (CDr by Love Earth Music)
We all know that Mr Vital is Frans de Waard and all of us (yes, you, too) have at some point heard his music. Being a reviewer since somewhere last year, we had a serious talk about how to handle reviewing each other's music, and during a few beers at dB's in Utrecht, our mutual agreement was "we both don't care as long as we're honest about it, because that is what respect is about". So now, even if you think so, everything we write is honest. Because taste might differ, and that's no reason to write down nonsense or lies. Having written that -, I've been asked about it a few times recently - This week, I got two new releases in my stash that included Frans de Waard.
The first is a CDR by Massachusetts-based Love Earth Music, a label that has been on my desk quite a lot this past year. Most of their releases have a strong noise factor in their sound, so hearing that Modelbau was on there made me curious. Modelbau's sound is an amalgam of ambience, drones and sound design with slow fades and very narrative in nature. Even if the narrative isn't always clear - but that's part of the mysticism of this art form. So would Frans dive into noise? Or would there be some harsher noise incorporated in this release? The answer is yes and no (a bit more no).
The 55-minute track is built from tape loops or complex delay patterns. It's fed with all kinds of sounds, from organic to fully synthesized and nice feedback sounds. Feedback with an origin in electronic circuitry to the edge of saturation. The somewhat harsher noises and some distorted vocals are more subdued in the background, and the looping/delay we know from Modelbau's "style" generate pulsating patterns and slow buildups. Actually, this is not unlike how I like my concerts to be. There is a constant movement and yet still a certain stability.
'Inlets' is a one-track album, but on the back of the cover, it mentions 'in, perhaps, 11 parts'. I'm curious if the parts were recorded separately and then mixed or if it was all set up and the 11 parts were recorded in one go. Because of the unity in the result, I believe both, which is a compliment.
The second release I'll be writing about is a new project of three people that actually quite often gets mentioned in the Vital Weekly. Dynasti is none other than a collaboration between Frans de Waard, Johan Peter Nijland (o.a. Distel & Trepaneringsritualen) and Edward Ka-Spel of Pink Dots fame. And lemme tell you, just like Roel Meelkop's "Rest In Space" (Vital 1374), this one is on the list for 2023's top releases.
'Vector I - Rotation' has a dubby feel over a tapestry of lush ambience, ending in the subtlest of subtle noisescapes. When the second track hits, I suddenly stopped doing what I was doing ... This is great stuff. And when "A Plea From The Pot" started playing, and Edward's voice hit the mix, I realized it reminded me of Coil somehow. Like the soundtracks, they did for Derek Jarman movies. The opening of "Vector II - Curvature" reminded me of the post 'Gold is the Metal' and the later heavily synth-induced works like 'Astral Disaster'. And again, that dubby feel towards the end. "A Ticking Tyranny" seals the deal and could be taken straight from a Jarman movie, maybe even his epic 'Blue'. "Diffuse" closes the CD with 12 minutes of beautiful droney ambience. I'm playing the CD again and absorbing every moment of the 44 minutes.
On Bandcamp, there is a little sentence "this small adventure in sound and narration blew a gap in the dark curtains to reveal a sunny day in the empty World out there" ... It's 11:30 PM as I write these words, and it's STILL sunny ... (BW)
––– Address: http://www.loveearthmusic.com/
––– Address: https://legendarypinkdots1.bandcamp.com/
RELLY TARLO - TERRITORIAL LANDSCAPE NO.1 (LP by Slowscan)
PETER FINCH - DANCES INTERDITES (LP by Slowscan)
ENZO MINARELLI - LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO (LP by Slowscan)
WILLEM DE RIDDER - ALL CHEMIX RADIO (2LP by Slowscan)
Slowscan editions have been around since the mid-80s, releasing cassettes, mostly with sound poetry and electronic music. They still exist, and many of their releases never reach these pages. I could ask mister Slowscan about the reason when I had the chance to do a quick visit, but instead, we talked about records, both collecting and releasing. I went home with these four releases; some are not as recent, but all deserve to be mentioned. From Relly Tarlo, I heard an LP a long time ago that he made with an acoustic instrument, in which I believe he used ping pong balls. Besides that LP from 1984, he never released another record until this 2019 release. The liner notes indicate that all his work is autobiographical and that this LP is based on the memory of visiting his mother in the hospital. He became aware of a stream of sounds outside and inside. In 'Territorial Landscape No. 1', he tries to reproduce that stream of sounds, using two metal plates, one mouth harmonica in E, one contra bass with one mounted string in E1 and a two-track tape playing back the mixed recording of electric organ and the Syrian Muezzin. The inspiration of walking through a valley in the Middle East, insects, birds, the voice of the Muezzin, and the rumble of the instruments make up a wonderful record. The music is minimal. It is almost as if we hear a bunch of loops of variable lengths, so there is never a plain overlap, but with the players also repeating their lines. The bass may provide a more continuous stream of sound and other sounds that aren't easy to name, but I found this to be a fascinating piece of music. It is minimal, but there is a constant shift, so it is never in the same place for long. Maybe the instruments are the elements that prevent this from repeating too much? I doubt that but, as said, it's not easy to figure out what is what here, and that's the beauty. This recording is from 1978, and it begs the question: why did it take 41 years to release this, and whatever else has Relly Tarlo recorded that we should hear?
The other three releases deal with the label's main background, sound poetry. Two names I know, one of which quite well, and Peter Finch, for me, is a new name. Born in 1947, Finch worked within the world of words either as a bookseller, sound poet, magazine editor, literary promoter and agent. With saxophone player Narrt Edgar Pilcher, he worked in Big Band Dance Music and worked solo on sound poetry material. His voice is taped onto a reel machine and looped, so he can, at will, cut in and out of the material, slow it down or speed it up, and makeup as you go along, but there is a method to the madness. Space is an essential feature for Finch, walking around the room where he records and using tubes to alter his voice; these are relatively simple methods, but they are used significantly. These are poems, I would think. Finch recites the words in the way one imagines sound poets do, but with many extraneous sounds. Even when one is not paying attention to the actual content of the words, the music is still a great pleasure to hear. Alien in some way, but relatable in another way. Also, one to hear more from.
Enzo Minarelli is a name I saw in the 80s on compilation cassettes, mainly from the world of mail art, sound poetry and Fluxus. That doesn't mean I know much about the man or his work. I understand his work is more abstract sound poetry involving sounds and voices (sometimes both pre-recorded). His poetry has a strong visual side, examples of which can be found on the inner sleeve. The influences of Dada and, to a lesser extent (maybe not), Futurism seem apparent in these pieces. Minarelli publishes 'Polypoetry', a record magazine, and books and videos. The recordings on this record are relatively recent, a live recording from 2018. Whereas with Fincher, the voice is less abstract and more storytelling, with Minarelli, the voice is within the range of words and lesser to the use of sounds. He uses his voice to create imitations of mechanical sounds, thus connecting to the world of Futurism, but he also uses a delay system and percussion in one of his poems. At times, I am reminded of the work of Jaap Blonk at times, which I would think of as a fellow Dadaist sound poet.
Willem de Ridder is someone who I first heard of 44 years ago when he did a radio show in which he played cassettes from so-called home tapers without a pre-auditioning. Later on, I visited him a couple of times and learned more about his work scope since the 60s. It would take a weekly about this length to tell you more about it, but let's stick with the notion that radio and storytelling were essential pillars of that creative output. Until the very end, as De Ridder passed away late last year at the age of 82. The four pieces on this double LP are part of the 'All Chemix Radio Series, in which De Ridder works with his ten-wife Cora Emens and musicians such as Z'EV (here credited as Stefan Weiser), Andrew McKenzie (The Hafler Trio), Alvin Curran, Hessel Veldman and Nick Nicole. With the latter two (and Emens), he also had a group called FNTC. I no longer recall if these pieces were played on the radio. Willem de Ridder had a recognizable voice and was well-known (in The Netherlands, at least) for his storytelling. The four pieces on this double LP contain spoken word but are somewhere between a radio play, a story, and sound poetry. In 'This Is Not True', for instance, we witness some disastrous events. There is a lingering sound, field recordings, a synthesizer towards the end, and the captured voices of De Ridder and Emens in a distressed situation. That sort of hushed-up voice material is in all three of these pieces like we are voyeurs looking into a distressed situation or what seems like a patient on the couch with his shrink). A microphone in a room, picking up these faraway voices and whatever else happens, may be like a lousy spy microphone. It creates a fascinating radio play - in the end, I decided that this is it, a radio play. All pieces seem to be mixes of various radio plays, usually two at the same, which obscures any meaning further. It sounds like the FNTC releases I used to have a long time ago, which has a similar voyeuristic feeling or ritualistic as if viewing some kind of ritual. De Ridder was an old hippie, after all. A mystery right up to the end. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.discogs.com/seller/slowscan1/profile
ERIC ANGELO BESSEL - VISITATION (LP by Lore City Music)
You may recognize the name of Eric Angelo Bessel as one half of Lore City, a duo he has with his wife Laura Mariposa Williams, our favourite group concerning all things post-rock and shoegazing. In some ways, it works outside the scope of Vital Weekly, even when it is also very much in our historical and musical DNA, growing up with all things post-punk. Bessels has worked primarily with photography since graduating in 2000. In 2011 he started Lore City. Now there is Bessel's first solo album, and its eight pieces are very much part of 'our' musical habitat. I can imagine that he uses many of the same instruments as with Lore City, so there are guitars, synthesizers, samplers and drum machines. However, I believe the latter either slowed down to one beat per minute or was heavily sound-processed, and we don't hear these often. I am sure the others all play an important role in conjuring these eight dreamy soundscapes. Bessel enters the ambient territory here with his sparse soundscapes. With a few sounds, he paints abstract pictures, even when he uses titles with a clear meanings. There is 'A Tap On The Shoulder', 'Secret Lake', 'Kindly rewind' or 'Hoax', but these titles don't add up to the music for me. The music works abstractly for me and has a cinematographic quality. In 'Secret Lake', there is solid melodic content, almost as if ghosts come alive and are back to haunt us. A touch of nostalgia to horror movies of age. A lovely album indeed in which the ambient side works very well. Haunting and deep but not without melody, which is always good in my book. While outside snow becomes rain, becoming snow again (it can't decide), the reverberated sounds of Bessel are like that of an old amusement park, desolated and overgrown (or snowed under, to stay within the climate conditions of the day), sitting next to slightly darker and sombre drones. There is some neat variation in approaches here, and all the same, Bessel manages to create a very coherent album. Excellent work and, hopefully the start of a most promising side-track with solo works. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.lorecitymusic.com/
RUXPIN & STAFRĆNN HÁKON - MEET ME IN FOREVER (CDR by Sound In Silence)
BEN RATH - RESOLVE (CDR by Sound In Silence)
Here we have two entirely different releases from Greece's Sound In Silence. The first is a collaboration between StafrćnnHákon and Ruxpin. They both had releases on this label before. Ruxpin is from Iceland and had releases on n5MD and Elektrolux, and Hákon is also from Iceland, and of him, I reviewed an album as Calder (Vital Weekly 1026). The first is from the world of IDM, during the second plays guitar and electronics. That is very clear on this album. The beats stutter, but the guitar is the spacious glue, adding ambience. The result is twelve pieces of a most curious mix-up of beats, electronics, and post-rock ambient guitars. I am sure there are precedents of people using a similar style, but I am unfamiliar with them. The rhythms are lively throughout, so the music becomes quite upbeat, with some of the synth pads also triumphant. Mainly if you use a high volume, there will be quite a massive sound. Two songs have vocals, dreamy and spacious, breaking the instrumental for a moment, and I must say that is a wise idea. Otherwise, the music is perhaps a bit too much of the same thing and not always as engaging. This is quite a lengthy trip at one hour, but shorter would have strengthened the album.
'Resolve' is the fourth release I har from Ben Rath and his third on Sound In Silence (the other one was on Eilean Records). There is quite a political subtext to the music, inspired by a "post-collapse society in which a committee is sent back in time to observe events as they unfolded and report back on how things went so wrong", also keeping in mind Coivd and Brexit, corruption, state abandonment and failing institutions. I must admit that I heard this album yesterday for the first time, and I hadn't read these liner notes. None of this subtext becomes apparent through the music. Sure, the music is dark and ambient, sometimes quite dramatic, but none as heavy as what I could read into this. However, if this music went into a soundtrack, I'm sure something of a more dystopian nature would be most appropriate. I believe Rath is a man of synthesizers, sound effects or anything that we loosely would call 'electronic'. As before, this is a pleasant dark trip, and Rath has some acceptable production value in his music, even when, at times, he goes all lo-fi (in 'Memorial') for instance, but also as before, Rath's music has difficulty standing out from the crowded field of dark synthesizer music, even when it all comes with a bit more attack and mild distortion; that must be part of the underlying theme I guess. Not that I value originality as a deciding factor in music. The last time I heard Rath's music, I had played it on repeat all afternoon on a hot day; that didn't happen today, on a freezing and rainy day, but that was more due to the amount of music that also needed attention. (FdW)
––– Address: https://soundinsilencerecords.bandcamp.com/
CLOSER BONES - LIVING A NIGHTMARE: ROAD TO DISASTER (CDR by Love Earth Music)
Closer Bones is the project of Isaac Tyler from New Hampshire. His profile mentions the term depressive harsh noise/drone as a musical direction, and "Living A Nightmare: Road To Disaster" is his fifth or sixth full-length release and his second on Love Earth Music. It was my first encounter with Isaac's output, so I had no idea what to expect. I suppose the cover art by Wormhoudt gives some indication: a crown of thorns, skulls, a guy hung from a lantern and a farmer working the land with a plough pulled by two horses. If you understand, I understand, but rest assured that this is not happy noise with happy dance rhythms and an ever-so-joyous TB303 acid line. This is meant to be confronting.
The CDR has one track built from noises in the foreground and the background, with noises in between. I don't know if I would mention drones, but depressive harsh noise hits the spot. Or maybe better: harsh contemplative noise, as it is in the less noise-filled areas in the sound perspective that the samples/spoken word is getting audible and kinda possible to follow. It remains difficult to find the origin of where the samples are taken, but they're no happy conversations - I can tell you that much. Somehow this album grew on me, even if it's a 50-minute exercise without any true moment of rest. It has a storyline, a beginning and an end, and a lot is happening, so there isn't a dull moment. But I think this would make an even bigger impact when listened to as if it was a live show. High volume with no place to hide. More confrontational than contemplative. In that setting: A+ (BW)
––– Address: http://www.loveearthmusic.com/
RNP_2 (CDR, private)
From the department of mysteries, a CDR by RNP_2, or perhaps the second release by RNP. There is an email address on the cover, which contains very little else. I had a hard time finding this on Bandcamp (as in, not at all), so I requested some information about this, and the only thing I got back was, "RNP No. 2 are avid readers of Vital Weekly. yours truly, Trudy", which is lovely to hear. This CDR lasted precisely one hour and thirty-six minutes containing no music, somewhere after twenty-two minutes until minute fifty-nine. Following a noisy five minutes opening segment, there is some obscured lo-fi ambient noise, then a piece with field recordings (birds). That cuts straight into a bit of distorted lo-fi minimal guitar noise in the best NZ underground tradition. The final minute contains someone shouting 'Hilfe', help in German. It's not bad at all, but this is, to be frank, a bit of a reviewer's nightmare. I know people love the mystery, and maybe I do, but what's there to write? (FdW)
––– Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
LIMINAL HAZE - VOLUME 7 (cassette by Hooker Vision)
A relatively short cassette, this time from the duo of Craig Stewart Johnson (Rovellasca, Invisible City Records) and Ross Scott-Buccleuch (Diurnal Burdens, Steep Gloss), collectively known as Liminal Haze. Having heard all their releases so far made me quite a fanboy. Their hazy, shimmering eroded music always works very well. I still don't know what transformations they use, but I assume it deals with endless layering sound on sound. Somewhere in between where the sound disappears, and the hiss remains—lots of loops, I think, and lots more erosion. Traces of melodies, rhythms (even!), and the obligatory field recordings mingle together, and Liminal Haze once again proves to be masters of the field of lo-fi. So, it's all great, then? Yes, Liminal haze does what they do best, except for one thing. With this cassette being thirty minutes and containing six pieces of music, they are all around five minutes. Liminal Haze has longer pieces in their older releases, and I think an extended period works better for this kind of music. Now there are more rapid developments in the music, which, at times, I think is a bit too quick. This kind of music works best if the development is slower and thus gains an even more ambient-like state, which is a bit missing here. Each of these pieces could have been, for me, at least twice the length. I realize this might be the fanboy speaking, so maybe that doesn't count. (FdW)
––– Address: https://hookervision.bandcamp.com/
C'EST PAS VENDABLE! VOLUME 2 (cassette by Pas Vendable Records)
Today I started my spring cleaning (a bit early), and as such, I needed a soundtrack.. Or should that be reversed? I was playing this lengthy compilation (admittedly from the free version on Bandcamp). In the meantime, I was cleaning up some stuff, rummaging through paperwork and such; the music here was a pleasant, wild, chaotic, chaotic and energetic bunch to help me in this tiresome work. As far as I understand, the cassette is a very limited (twenty copies) release to have some physical support of the Bandcamp version, which seems longer. I assume that many, if not all, of these musicians, are from Canada or even restricted to Montreal. It is a festival of exclusively new names, some of which sound very funny. Here we go; Alan Versafecu, Laure Phelin (Henriette Valium), Black Ka, Hank Sun'Gosse, Francis Arsenault, Samuel Roy-Bois, Jean-Luc Bonspiel, Bruit Philtré, Copromelomanie, The with Charles Band, P/DO P/DRO, Miss U Angelo, L'Aurore et ses martyrs, Le Too Bored To Care Institute, Monsieur Larose, Jorgette Rose, the Beatle(S), (The Artist formerly known as) Cou Coupé, Polysemique, Les Anglais débarquent (André Eric Létourneau, Bertrand Boisvert), Fyanschiste Yashenss, Francis Arsenault, Benoit Fauteux, Francis-Lachance Quenneville, La Ligue du Vieux Poęle (Johny Luke Bonspiel, Bruno Tanguay, Francisse Latchansse, Valérie Girard, Marc Galipeau), Magnanime, Tony Mess, Mr. Deraspe, Bruit Philtré, Prinkipissa, Frank Zapoď, Miss U Angelo, and Rainbow Trash. Like the music is a free download, the musical content is also very free. Many times with vocals, free guitar strumming, samplemania and electronics running galore. It's sound poetry meeting free folk, meeting noise, alt-rock, electro pop, post-rock, and much more. At times reminding me of an experimental cassette from the 80s, in which we find a similar form of freedom and in which we would easily be lost (hold on, who was this again). The latter is also helped because many of these tracks are between two and three minutes long. Some truly great weirdness here, such as by Jorgette Rose and Fyanschiste Yashenss; not really Vital Weekly sort of weirdness but a nice subversion of the ordinary. (FdW)
––– Address: https://pasvendablerecords-compilations.bandcamp.com/
DEMETRIO CECCHITELLI - SOUNDSCAPE OVERVIEW (cassette by Lost Children)
Born in 1997, this is one of the younger musicians. Demetrio Cecchitelli already has a bunch of releases to his name, and he calls himself "a research musician and composer, mainly active in the fields of ambient and electroacoustic music". The music is part of a bigger project that includes photography, which he shot with a "Fujifilm mx-1200 digital point-and-shoot camera, from autumn 2018 to spring 2019", although none are found on the package. One could perhaps see a relation between music and photos, believing the music to consist of field recordings. That's not the case, as Cecchitelli uses "real-time no input analogue techniques, found sounds re-pitching and live hardware electronics". Maybe there are field recordings, then, after all? If so, they are not easy to detect in the music. His music sounds like being part of that big world of modular electronics, with varying results. For instance, 'Erreur de sens' is a continuous piece of drones and hiss sounds. Still, Cecchitelli likes a less constant/sustaining approach but more a broken-up sound, which does not always make this music accessible. 'Erreur de sens' and 'ricordo di un luogo', which make up the lengthy B-side (longer than the A-side), are too long for what they contain and don't develop. "Mouvement Du Train', the opening piece, is a more interesting, condensed piece of train noise (or an imitation thereof), followed by a likewise refined 'Play -0.50', cut-up of modular sounds and 'Ictus', a short piece for a single tick/pulse. All in all not bad at all, but a sign of development, and there is plenty of room for that. (FdW)
––– Address: https://lostchildren.bandcamp.com/
JONATHAN DEASY - LE FLÉTRISSEMENT (cassette by Momentarily Records)
BRIAN GRAINGER - DISSOLVING IN A BODY (cassette by Momentarily Records)
N - VIELANK/WOOSMER (cassette by Momentarily Records)
We have a new German label, which started last year, and their first three releases show that they love doing something beyond ordinary cassette boxes. Each cassette has a hand-created package and is crafted with care. The first cassette is by Jonathan Deasy, a musician I discovered maybe two years ago and who creates (primarily) drone-based music. The two pieces on this cassette used the "degradation of a tape loop and the saturation of a driven tube". I expected something that would gradually fall apart, something akin to the music of William Basinski, but that's not the case here. In both pieces, the drone is a constant presence, and what changes are the subtle colourations of the sound effects used. In 'Dôme', there is even a phaser effect, which I rarely hear in drone music, which I admit not to be fond of. Other than this last bit, both pieces are excellent exercises in drone music, in which the music slowly evolves and changes, just as we expect this music should do it. I have no idea how Deasy generated these drones. But I believe it is all within the realm of electronics or organ sounds. I might be wrong, of course. Great stuff, nevertheless.
I know the name Brian Grainger, and I know he released hundreds of recordings, either using his name or his various aliases, such as AQV, Bike, Coppice Halifax, DJ Brian Damage, Dorian Albatross, Milieu, Parallax, Phe_, Pink Space, Teenager, The Analog Botanist, TMA3, Tom Rimshot, Troth, and Vhom. If that's not enough, he's also a member of A Night On Mars, Black Skies, Facebiscuit, Flax Harmonade, Free Festival, Occur, OCR, POOLSIDE RAIL BUS, Scant Orbit, SEAS, VCV, Viking Destroyer, Waterstrider. As Brian Grainger, he has about 250 releases, and as Coppice Halifax, over 500, and also many under his other names. Is there anyone out there who heard all of this? Many of his works, I believe, are recorded in one take, just as these two pieces, both of which are forty-two minutes long. For both pieces, Bandcamp says that Grainger uses"the R-EW Audioholistics system in conjunction with Mackie ProFX8 & Peavey FX2 mixing consoles, and Squier & Park amplifiers", which I have no idea what it means. Unlike Deasy, where there is development, Grainger chooses not to use that much variation in his pieces. These pieces are massive blocks of drones, unmoveable like a mountain. Maybe a bit of a cynical thought, but it's not too challenging to do hundreds of releases if they are all this minimal. I would not quickly dive into the man's vast catalogue even when I enjoyed this one. I guess the idea that I could never hear all of his output puts me off. However, I do like this particular release, mainly for its consistency in approach.
Between two pieces of plywood, we find the cassette by N, from Germany, also known as Hellmut Neidhardt. Sometimes the letter N is followed by a number, and this time it is 108. Here too, the music is recorded without overdubs, and while the two pieces (twenty minutes each) have different titles, they are like twin brothers. I believe N plays the guitar, which he does in [Multer] if I'm not mistaken. His music rocks slowly back and forth in these two pieces. It comes up and goes away, especially in 'Vielank' not much else happens. It is like watching and hearing the sea. Maybe the presence of cassette hiss enhanced that feeling of standing on a beach. In 'Wooster', there are (seemingly, at least) more sources, including more hiss, which adds a fine lo-fi quality to the music. Everything is in slow motion, which makes this the perfect soundtrack for a slow Sunday afternoon. Maybe there is no guitar, but processed feedback or electronics; I don't know, but I don't think I care much. I had my cassette on repeat for a long time and was buried deep in a book and enjoying this a lot. All three releases were great, but N I thought was the best. (FdW)
––– Address: https://momentarilyrecords.bandcamp.com/
DAMON SMITH/LOUIS WALL/NNN COOK - FIRE POINT (cassette by Notice Recordings)
Three musicians working each from their respective locations in Saint Louis, Missouri, in the United States, cooked up an extraordinary sound world for this release. Louis Wall, percussion, laid down the groundwork on which Damon Smith improvised on double bass. All the track titles are related to fire. I'll let the reader do their research on how they are related. Nathan Nolan Cook added bits and pieces, the ocarina on 'Golden Bird', for example, to mimic the song of a mythical bird. Mythical because the track has a solemn quality since there’s chanting involved and bubbling percussive sounds. It flows organically towards a crescendo, building tension and release by leaving the percussive sound near the end. On the title track Fred Tompkins, a third stream composer and musician (third stream meaning the merging of jazz and classical music, his composition Yes ended up on Elvin Jones’ Polycurrents), adds bass flute to the equation. Tompkins is also based in Saint Louis. As is Michael Williams, who adds electronics on 'Bellow'. The tracks are relatively short, and the ideas laid out in them are well thought out as if the musicians were in the same room, but they weren’t. In 'Base Room', long notes with an accordion/pump organ-like quality are the meat of the track; fast acoustic bass underneath and metallic sounds on top form a nice meditative track. Closing track Meld starts right off with a low grinding electronic bass sound. It’s a foreboding and eerie track, ending on a positive interval (major fifth) of an excellent release, available on cassette and in digital form. I recommend listening to this with no distractions. The music is dreamlike, unlike the soundtrack of Stalker, Tarkovski’s masterpiece. A delightful release on Notice Recordings with an excellent sound design. (MDS)
––– Address: https://noticerecordings.bandcamp.com/
Vital - The Complete Collection 1987-1995
Before Vital Weekly there was Vital, a Xeroxed fanzine covering experimental, electronic andelectro-acoustic music; interviews, reviews, in-depth discussion articles, background. All 44 issues in one hardcover book; 580 pages.
More information: http://kormplastics.nl/vtcc.html
A Work By Leif Elggren A Day
With 300 entries, this catalog and almanac in four volumes presents an analysis and projection of possible ways of hearing, seeing, experiencing and living with Leif Elggren's (sonic) art on the basis of a work a day, excluding Sundays and holidays, for a whole year. Written bij Vital Weekly contributor Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg https://non-mfr.bandcamp.com/merch/a-work-by-leif-elggren-a-day
Every 2 weeks on a Thursday Afternoon Jos Smolders and Frans de Waard Talk about an artist, an album, a label or something else music related. This Talk is published on https://www.youtube.com/@thursdayafternoontalks. As a regular podcast Thursday Aftenoon Talks is published on Spotify and Apple podcast. Check it out and subscribe to get an update as soon as a new episode is available!
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