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TONGUES OF MOUNT MERU - KALPA (2CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
YURII SAMSON - INMOSTONES (CD by I Shall Sing Until My Land Is Free) *
IZTOK KOREN - EMPTINESS (CD by Torto Editions) *
MATTEO UGGERI & CRICKET ON THE RADIO - ALL THE WAY DOWN (CD by Torto Editions) *
EXIT ELECTRONICS - LEARNING THE HARD WAY (CD by Zoharum) *
RAFAL KOLACKI - MEKTOUB (CD by Zoharum) *
VOICES OF THE COSMOS - DEEP FIELDS (CD by Zoharum) *
INDALASKA - MUSIQUE LES SABLES (CD by Zoharum) *
KAZE & IKUE MORI - CRUSTAL MOVEMENT (CD by Circum-Libra Records)
INTRIGUE (4CD compilation by Demon Music Group)
RUDOLF EB.ER - HEIMOROR (2CD by Om Kult Osaka) *
MÉANDRE(S), AN EXPERIENCE IN SPONTANEOUS , COLLECTIVE CREATING (CD/DVD by Les Presses Du Reel) *
GENETIC FACTOR - IN DEADLY WET DREAMS (2LP by Artificial Dance)
GENETIC FACTOR - sampler (12" by Artificial Dance)
COSMIC DREAM CLUB - DREAM DANCE (CDR by Cosmic Dream Records) *
CABBAGGAGE - MICROSCRIPTS (cassette by Submarine Broadcasting Company) *
YBALFERRAN - KARADI (cassette by Hurt By The Sun) *
MODELBAU - NIGHT ROUTE (Cassette on Cosmic Winnetou) *
CELER - WASTED IN THE WAITING (Cassette on Cosmic Winnetou) *
TONGUES OF MOUNT MERU - KALPA (2CD by Moving Furniture Records)
'Kalpa' is the follow-up to 'The Hex Of Light' (see Vital Weekly 1218) regarding releases on the same label. This duo consists of Jon Wesseltoft and Lasse Marhaug, and since 2008 they have had a few releases with their long-form drone pieces. One is even over two hours long and available digitally. This new work is 100 minutes, and because of that spread over two CDs. That means an interruption to switching the CDs and, therefor, an interruption in the flow. But, I must say, I didn't mind, as the level of sonic information is quite high here. Especially if one has the volume up a bit, the music is an all-immersive event. A bit of fresh air in the middle is not bad, but it is an interruption nonetheless. I have no idea how these drones are made and if the photo on Discogs of two men behind laptops and electronics is representative. The music here seems to be rooted in the world of raga with that specific sound of raga but filtered and stretched ad infinitum with minimal changes. Throughout the piece, the frequency range slowly changes, and at times sounds like we are locked into a machine room on a boat. Then it all becomes oppressive and noisy, with less feedback and distortion. I played this a few times in the last week, and each time I was overwhelmed by the intensity of the music. This is noise, sure, even when there is no plain distortion. Once the music was over, I didn't want to hear any other music for some time, read a book and then returned to music again. I must say that is a rare thing. This music is one of those examples of one can't say it's good or bad; at least, I found that hard. I see the merits of it all, but would I play this again any time soon? I am not sure. (FdW)
––– Address: https://movingfurniturerecords.bandcamp.com/
YURII SAMSON - INMOSTONES (CD by I Shall Sing Until My Land Is Free)
Here we have a 5" CD, in a proper cover, but it is, very sadly, only fifteen minutes long. I had not heard of Yurri Samson before, who is, according to Discogs, "a poet, songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist. Also the leader of the psychedelic folk-kraut-rock band Biblioteka Prospero, a solo project Starless and a participant in projects Kadaitcha and Osfill Klayse." None of that means anything to me, and I have no frame of reference. I understand the text on the cover (and Bandcamp) to be something about the ongoing war in Ukraine, which is the whole raison d'etre behind the label of being covered in layers of rubble and stones. The music is a musique concrète, the sounds of which might be sourced from the war's debris. These recordings are granulated and transformed, the source of war transformed into a work of art, and, of course, I might be wrong. When thinking about the title, it might be that stones are the source material, and war doesn't come into the equation. Unlike the Futurists, we now know that, war, what is it good for, absolutely nothing. There is no beauty in that, just tragedy and misery. Take the music out of this context and judge it by its quality; that's all I think we can do and enjoy the piece by its merits. Samson created a few blocks of sound, distinctly different parts of the piece, all based on granular transformations, loops and such. Sometimes, Samson takes a more industrial route, but most of the time, it is all about changes in pitches and timing. A work that would not be out of place in the catalogue of Empreintes Digitales. It is excellent work, for sure, but it's fifteen minutes and twelve seconds! Boohoo, I wished there was more, as this sounded like a great opening track for a full-length release. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ishallsinguntilmylandisfree.bandcamp.com/
IZTOK KOREN - EMPTINESS (CD by Torto Editions)
MATTEO UGGERI & CRICKET ON THE RADIO - ALL THE WAY DOWN (CD by Torto Editions)
I first read about Iztok Koren when I published a review of his trio Sirom (Vital Weekly 1100). The review mentions that he plays the three-string banjo, bass drum, percussion, chimes, balafon, and various objects. This includes a three-string banjo, a guembri, electric guitar, a modular synthesizer, effects pedals, contact microphones, and a steel drum. He took these instruments to a remote cabin in the Slovenian hills on 7th May 2022 and recorded 80 minutes of music. That is one hell of a productive day. The reason was that a concert trip by Sirom was cancelled at the last minute, and the creative flows needed another direction. The music Sirom was to play was part of a theatre show Bordel Eden by director Mirjana Medojević; instead, she used the music that we now find on 'Emptiness'. On this album, Koren explores personal themes such as the "issue of oversaturation, personal moral dilemmas, internal conflicts and the search for a way out of them, overload problems and the urge to introduce changes that cannot happen unless space is secured first – i.e. unless harmful elements are removed, and a state of emptiness is created". Perhaps that's the reason that somewhat mixed bag this album is. Some pieces are downright improvised, with one instrument, no effect, and one take, such as the eighth piece. Sometimes it is all a bit complex, so I assume there is a system in place so that Koren can play all at once, or, more likely, this is a matter of multi-tracking within the constraints of 'one take'. The 9th piece (called '.........') has drums, guitar, and modular and is a curious, odd slow, rocking song with a strange effect, mainly due to the oscillations of the modular. This, too, has an improvised feeling and yet also sounds different. Some pieces are joyful (4th or 10th), intense, and melancholic (5th). Throughout, I liked the variation Koren has to offer here, but at the same time, I think that some of these pieces are a bit long in duration. Maybe there is a need to document an intense day of working in its complete form, but the listener is an outsider, and for all I know, some editing would have made the record even stronger.
Matteo Uggeri is no stranger to these pages. His work has been reviewed before, either solo or from the projects he's involved with, such as Starlight Assembly, Open to the Sea and Sparkle in Grey. Behind Cricket On The Radio, we find Stefano Santabarbara, who was until now known as My Dear Killer. The name sounds like TV On The Radio, which I also didn't consider a great band name. I had not heard of Santabarbara. Uggeri plays "samples, noises, Ubunoir synths and effects", and Santabarbara plays "acoustic guitar and feedbacks". There are two guests, Alessandro Sesana (trumpet) and Andrea Serrapiglio (cello). A strange little release this is! There are six pieces, and the whole album is thirty-four minutes, chopped into six or more equal portions. The guitar plays a significant role, tinkling away as if he's in a room with the listener, who surrounds himself with many amplified 'other' sounds. Not always to define these sounds, but there are children, construction sounds and street noise, but just as well. There is something less easy to define here; buzzing and twitching, highly obscured electronics or field recordings. The guitar gives the music an odd post-rock-like element, and yet, at the same time, it stays far away from that whole world. The music has a level of abstraction, creating strange atmospheres in which the guitar might be the most common element, a counterpoint, a melodic touch in an otherwise strange setting. If you will, it is a 'contradiction' that isn't the result of an uneasy pairing but unifying two opposites to work together very well. They explored this concept well enough at thirty-four minutes and gave us a few possible clues. I thought that was enough and more variations would perhaps be superfluous. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.torto.biz/
EXIT ELECTRONICS - LEARNING THE HARD WAY (CD by Zoharum)
RAFAL KOLACKI - MEKTOUB (CD by Zoharum)
VOICES OF THE COSMOS - DEEP FIELDS (CD by Zoharum)
INDALASKA - MUSIQUE LES SABLES (CD by Zoharum)
Sometimes I just pick something randomly from the 'to be' heard pile, and I stick it in without too much notice. Exit Electronics, there you go. Somewhere around the second piece, which turns out to be called 'Bruised For Life', I thought this sounded like a Pan Sonic meeting a minimalist noise variation of Muslimgauze. Now, that's interesting, so who's behind Exit Electronics? Much to my surprise, none other than Justin K. Broadrick. Of course, you know him from his work with Godflesh, Final, Jesu and others. Under his new moniker, he plays music that he calls "Raw/Primal/Fucked/Industrial/Filthstep/Overload". Listening closer, there is indeed the word Industrial that springs to mind, a bit of Esplendor Geometrico but somewhat later, when they first started to lean towards techno music. That, too, is part of the hardcore mash-up of styles that Exit Electronics uses, even when it nowhere gets anywhere close to being dance music. Previously this was available as a digital-only album, but now it has two bonus pieces. There are eleven pieces in total on this disc, just over fifty minutes of unrelentless hammering of beats and grinding of machines, electronics or whatever it is that is gnawing away here. There is not too much variation, so one is pretty clear about what it is, but it also makes for a very consistent album. The execution of a single concept is done very well.
After this fair share of violence, it's time for something different, and that comes from Rafal Kolacki. He's a member of HATI, Mammoth Ulthana and Molok Mun, but has not had a solo record in some time. I understand this is a radio play around texts by Paul Bowles' 'Metktoub. 1001 Nights'. In my local supermarket, there is one of those 'leave your books here shelf', and I recently saw one or two books by Bowles and connecting the names to Brion Gysin and William Burroughs and their time in Tanger (Marroco), I almost took them home but decided against, thinking, I should first read what I already dragged back home. That I regret now, even when I don't think 'Mektoub' was one. So, having not read his books, my knowledge is somewhat limited and listening to this album won't tell me much more. Kolacki reads some of the Bowles' text but in his native Polish tongue, which doesn't help. The book, so says the information, is about his time in Tangier and that we hear in Kolacki's field recordings for this album. Not the first (I recall, among others' Justin Bennett's 'The Mosques Of Tanger' mini CD), and not the last. Just like not having read Bowles books, I have not visited Tangier, this is not easy to relate to, but that might be a problem many more people might have. You can, however, enjoy this album also on a more abstract entertainment level. The sounds of a city in the Mediterranean, the praying muezzins and the more mundane city activities all sound crisp and clear and in this, Kolacki waves a few drone sounds, which he keeps to a modest level throughout. They linger in the background and shine when necessary. Together the field recordings and drones create a fine balance between the real world of the city of Tangier and the more abstract world of electronic and acoustic drones. At times it is all quite poetic, making a very nice travelogue.
That, too, can be said of the music by Voices Of The Cosmos. This duo (Rafal Iwanski (X-Navi:et, Alameda), Wojtek Zieba (Electric Uranus, Infamis)) have a guest, Sebastian Soberski (astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus University), and the three of them travelled around to celebrate the 550th anniversary of the Polish birth astronomer Copernicus. I believe the latter more in the role of lecturer, which, wisely, left off this album. I say wisely, not because I love ignorance, but because a Polish lecture on the space-related matter is perhaps lost in the grander scheme of things. There is only space-oriented synthesizer music, which I love m best. I gather from the information that the music was recorded during this tour, which might indicate that the group never played the same music twice. Before Iwanski and Zieba worked as Electric Uranus and X:Navi:et, and had various parts of Voices Of The Cosmos, it has become a real group. Their cosmic music isn't of the Tangerine Dream, let it gently bounce variety, but instead have a much more abstract synthesizer approach. There is the use of reverb. Obviously, I'd say no space music should be without, but no arpeggios bouncing around. I'd say it owes the world of the forbidden planet soundtrack, and at times sounds far from ambient but abstract and experimental. Oddly enough, it sounds quite retro in that respect, like the music of an old science fiction movie. I hasten to admit that it certainly has its charm, as I enjoyed this quite a bit. The collision of ambient, abstraction, and a bit of industrial and old-school electronics works, once again, very well. No talking, so you can do your reading upon all space-related things or simply space out.
The last new release by Indalaska, which in these pages is a new name. Here we find the brothers Frederic and Olivier Charlot, sometimes (better) known as Maninkari and Sphyxion. Music by these projects has been reviewed before. There are differences between these names, including that the new Indalaska moniker isn't all too big and mainly lies in rhythm. That's absent here but plays a part in the music of Maninkari. In Sphyxion, ambience plays a more significant role, which is also the case here with the four pieces they recorded as Indalaska. The title translates as 'music of the sand', so maybe we have a microscopic look at grains of sound here. The music is pretty ambient here, very slow and relying on the stretching of instrumental sounds. These might be coming from the two brothers playing instruments or perhaps from a sample pack. I must admit that aspect wasn't very clear. This music does not entirely convince me. It is, for sure, a fine ambient backdrop, but also somewhat cold and distant, and, perhaps, 'easy'. The music has a dramatic touch, which is a bit too much for me, especially in 'Le Premier Jour'. It is not a bad release, and it is made with quite some ear for detail, but not something too much of liking. (FdW)
––– Address: https://zoharum.bandcamp.com/
KAZE & IKUE MORI - CRUSTAL MOVEMENT (CD by Circum-Libra Records)
Here we have the sixth release by Kaze and the second one with Ikue Mori after Sand Storm from 2020. The latter isn’t an unknown name at Vital Weekly, having been a member of the wave band DNA and played on a few releases reviewed in Vital Weekly.
Kaze has four members: Christian Pruvost (trumpet), Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), Peter Orins (drums), and Satoko Fujii (piano, sometimes prepared). The music on this disc has been the result of exchanging files. But Pruvost and Orins played live at a concert with the results of the material they exchanged.
So the release we hear is a combination of prerecorded material and live playing on trumpet and drums. It all sounds organic and breathes like an organism. But I had a hard time getting into the music because I received outstanding music to review. And sometimes, I need a little more time to dive into a newish sound world. Because what you can hear is not a whole new concept or earth-shattering. And don’t take that as a negative thing. For this group, it’s a logical step after their previous release. To my ears, the release before that was a bit more traditional. Anyway, here you can hear excellent musicianship by this quintet. The fact that two musicians responded ad lib in a concert to the material makes it even more astounding. Six pieces in a little more than 50 minutes. Fifty minutes of sometimes really dense music, sometimes sherds of melodies or riffs, or a fugue between the two trumpets while the electronics of Mori weave in and out the tapestry of sound. There’s a dialogue between the trumpets and commentary by the drums and piano. Listen to this with open ears, figuratively speaking. It’s sometimes abstract, and sometimes you can hear the catchy melody you can hum or whistle. But always interesting. (MDS)
––– Address: https://www.circum-disc.com/kaze/
INTRIGUE (4CD compilation by Demon Music Group)
Steven Wilson and I are about the same age; we were both teenagers in the 80s. His parents played him Pink Floyd and Donna Summer; mine played Dvorak and Bruckner. Yet, in 1980-81 we both discovered two things; punk wasn't that interesting (except, for me at least, the DIY aspect), and that post-punk was. At the end of that decade, Wilson was on his way to becoming a rock star with No Man and Porcupine Tree, and I was buried in the world of industrial music, cassettes and musique concrète. Before 1980, the only progressive record I heard, even a couple of times as I kept borrowing it from the music library, was 'In The Court Of Crimson King', which I bought on CD much later. For me, punk and post-punk weren't the year zero some people hold them to be. Nor was I aware that Johnny Lydon listed Can, Captain Beefheart, Nico, Third Ear Band, and Peter Hammill as his favourite music. Or that Crass was a bunch of old hippies. The 'secret' lines connecting the 'old' progressive rock with post-punk was something I only vaguely heard about (not reading UK music press), and some of these lines weren't that secret; Robert Fripp guested on guitar with Blondie's 'Atomic', Eno doing 'No New York' and so on. One of the things I liked about the 80s was the sheer experimentation that took place that objects became instruments, the studio an instrument, and these experiments led to some great music, regardless of age and background. I didn't think that much about these things. As a reader, you may think you know all of this, as in the last 25 years, we have seen many bands inspired by those great bands, right? The grandchildren of Joy Division, The Birthday Party, XTC, Wire and Talking Heads. Great bands, but sadly, it disregards excellent music from the 80s that you may not know. You never hear a band these days that take their inspiration from 23 Skidoo of Dif Juz, right? Here's a great place to start (or re-connect)
Steven Wilson is a man of great taste and knowledge, and on 'Intrigue' he collects music from the 1980s, starting in 1979 (Wire's 'I Should Have Known Better') and ending with Kitchen Of Distinctions', 'The 3rd Time We Opened The Capsule' from 1989. Starting with a rockist tune and ending with the early days of combining electronic rhythms and guitars (The Shamen are also included). Wilson wants to show that "the idea of conceptual thinking and ambition didn't suddenly evaporate after 1977". His choices in both artists and songs are quite remarkable, and maybe just because he is Steven Wilson, he gets away with it. I doubt an anonymous compiler would make these choices, and a label would sign off on this selection. For instance, take one of the many Cherry Red compilations, collecting, say, 'Manchester North Of England - A Story Of Independent Music Greater Manchester 1977 - 1993', and the Joy Division piece is 'She's Lost Control', The Durutti Column 'Lips That Would Kiss', New Order with 'Temptation', Section 25 'Looking From A Hilltop', A Certain Ratio with 'The Fox' and Crispy Ambulance's 'Deaf'; I'd say these are tracks you'd expect, 'the hits'. Wilson chooses 'The Eternal', 'Sketch For Summer', 'The Him', 'Hit', 'Knife Slits Water', and 'Are You Ready'. Only the A Ceratin Ratio piece is something one might expect, but otherwise, I'd say quite surprising choices. The surprise extends to the choice of bands; Bill Nelson's Red Noise certainly sounds grounded in prog rock, and plenty of lesser-known groups such as Punishment Of Luxury, Twelfth Night, Momus SLAB!, and Cardiacs included. New Musik, for instance, a group of which I assumed I was the only one to know and like them. Ruper Hine! Why not? Kate Bush' shows her incredible skill in producing a soundscape and at the same time doing a 'proper' song; she proves that what she did in the 80s (and beyond) is very much in the same language as those post-punkers experimenting. It is both the 'studio-as-instrument'. Peter Hamill, Tears For Fears, Dalis Car, Scott Walker, Art Nouveau, or 'Sealand' by OMD; not people and tracks you'd quickly think about. And, I admit straight away, I didn't follow post-punk after 1985-6, so who knows, I may be saying utterly stupid. The great lost Dif Juz is included, and so is 23 Skidoo, and there is no reason not to take inspiration from these groups. O Yuki Conjugate sits next to The Sister Of Mercy. The latter has a long track. In Camera (another damn fine choice) have the longest, 'The Fatal Day', from their second 12".
You could look for omissions, and I can think of one or two that would have fitted nicely here, or I could skip one or two (I'd chosen the original demo version of 'Airwaves' by Thomas Dolby from 'From Brussels With Love over the later, fuller studio version), but let's not go there too much.
The 4CD set version comes with a neat pocketbook, and there are liner notes for each band, written by the highly knowledgeable James Nice, the man behind Les Temps Modernes. I knew some liner notes from the various re-issues I have from his label, but I learned some interesting stuff, such as Kanye West sampling from the songs from Section 25 and Tears For Fears. This compilation was a feast of recognition as much as a learning curve for me. All in the capable hands of that musical omnivore, Steven Wilson (who included, at the very end, a track from this then early days group No-Man; rightfully so, I'd say. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.demonmusicgroup.co.uk/
RUDOLF EB.ER - HEIMOROR (2CD by Om Kult Osaka)
As always, it's a pity that Rudolf Eb.er never gives that much information in his work. Alright, there is something on Bandcamp that "most of the source material, documents of obscure and psychomagick acts, were recorded at the attic of the old, but newly inhabited, Om Kult farmhouse near Osaka, Japan", but wouldn't one love to see these "obscure and psychomagick acts"? 'Heimoror', which I would think is a contraction of the German word for 'home' and 'horror', contains six works, recorded from 2020-2022 (not accidentally the years of lockdowns!), and see Eb.er playing organ and violin, "often edited by the use of monaural cassette recorders and analogue filters, the recordings reflect these grim, animistic-shintōid events and deranged lo-fi rituals committed"; yes, keep intriguing me! Each of the six pieces is twenty minutes long, more or less, and at two hours, this is quite a lengthy release. The first time I heard it, I went through it all in one long session. Maybe that was some kind of ritual, but not an easy one. The organ and violin mentioned are not always easy to hear in the music, especially since the violin is on some hide-and-seek mission. Eb.er applies lo-fi recording methods that have a slightly distortive character. Picking up the sound in that attic, a natural transformer, with a walkman playing it back in this space, gives the music a dark atmosphere. Add to this the Eb.er voice material, chanting (perhaps), vocalizations (maybe) or whatever, which provides the music with this ritualistic aspect. Like Dave Phillips, Eb.er has a straightforward approach to sound. It is always 'there', always 'present', and pleasantly loud, without being very noisy. On 'Heimoror', even less than on some of his recent work. This time, it seems, also not as many animal sounds, but maybe I'm wrong. There is certainly an overlap between pieces, which gives a few similarities, and perhaps that's where I think the album is best enjoyed in small portions. Each piece is vital, but without the overlaps being that noticeable. Altogether, another mystifying album, but a great one, once again. (FdW)
––– Address: https://rudolfeber.bandcamp.com/album/heimoror
MÉANDRE(S), AN EXPERIENCE IN SPONTANEOUS , COLLECTIVE CREATING (CD/DVD by Les Presses Du Reel)
Along with the CD and DVD, there is a 132-page book with texts in French and English and photographs. All of this is a documentation of a project along the river Dordogne. Not just musicians and filmmakers but also two sociologists, a teacher, a philosopher, and a biophysicist were invited for this trip for some spontaneous creation. Where does one step in? First, read the book? Or listen to the CD? Watch the DVD? Each of these entry points will be deciding factor, I think, in how one views the overall project. I watched the DVD first. What do we see? Musicians and their instruments produce improvised music. This working together takes place along the shores of a river, in a canoe, alone and together. Sometimes we see shots of nature, rather arty filmed. It looks interesting, even if the improvised music aspect is not always my thing here, but I enjoyed this outdoor approach (even if I'm scared of canoes). It is good to see how sounds are generated, sometimes physically involving the river. That is important if one turns to the CD, which has a three-part composition by Lionel Marchetti, one of the participants, who created a sound piece with the material he (and perhaps Jerome Noetinger, the only other who gets credit for electronics) recorded during the three days this trip lasted. He taped the ensemble Le UN and their actions and music. Their instruments include clarinet, trombone, double bass, soprano saxophone, electric guitar, double bass, voice and so on (also Pascal Battus' rotating surfaces), and the result is an improvised music piece, which also incorporates field recordings and a few electronics; I assume the latter is batteries-operated only. A most enjoyable piece of music. I skipped the rest of the CD as these were extracts from the other guests, the non-musicians, talking in French about the things they write about in the book, but then in a language that I understand. I find these stories interesting, even though it is not always easy to relate to the music or the idea behind the project of people working together. Overall a great project, with lots of things to explore. (FdW)
––– Address: https://www.lespressesdureel.com/
GENETIC FACTOR - IN DEADLY WET DREAMS (2LP by Artificial Dance)
GENETIC FACTOR - SAMPLER (12" by Artificial Dance)
You might be surprised to learn that when I was young, in 1980-81, I wasn't listening to John Peel. I am sure I heard of the man, as many in The Netherlands did, but I never bothered to look up where I could hear his program. Instead, I listened to a Dutch program, Radionome, presented by Stephen Emmer (son of the national anchor man, Fred Emmer) and 'produced by Richard Zeilstra', as announced. I had no idea what a producer did on a radio program. Later on, Zeilstra had the same job on the Sunday afternoon show, 'Spleen'. Both shows (along with Willem de Ridder's 'Radiola Improvisatie Salon') greatly impacted musical development. Here's where I heard This Heat, Cabaret Voltaire, Five Or Six, Ende Shneafliet and much more. Zeilstra also made the jingle for 'Radionome'. I know this because the program is responsible for a compilation LP of the same name, and it included a track from Genetic Factor, Zeilstra's musical project, so it was in the press. That LP was re-issued and is still available (I think) and is a classic of Dutch minimal synth music. Besides, another piece I heard was on a compilation cassette ('Colonial Vipers'), nothing much was available from him. Once 'Spleen' stopped, Zeilstra moved to Spain, and, in recent years, he returned to the lowlands. Much like others from that time, such as SM Nurse (another Spleen discovery for me) and Nine Circles (from the 'Radionome' LP), these groups released very little music when they were first active on vinyl and cassette, for reasons I don't know. Yet these groups have a second life with re-issues and new material. Genetic Factor is no different. 'In Deadly We Dreams' is a collection of twelve pieces from, I gather, 1982 until much later (the fact there are no dates mentioned is a bit of an omission). Like SM Nurse, Nine Circles, Störung and Ensemble Pittoresque, Genetic Factor's music moved beyond the 'one synth, one drum machine' approach of many others, resulting in a more complex drum sound, less dance-based certainly. Voice samples, shorter and longer (when lifted from TV or movies), play a significant role. Sometimes there are vocals, but that's not Genetic Factor's strong suit. Also, there is the occasional use of a guitar. Perhaps some information was missed, but I think Genetic Factor sometimes uses other musicians as well, and it's not a strict Zeilstra solo project; Peter Koedoot is mentioned. There is a certain darkness involved in all of this music, which is, perhaps, a sign of the 80s, when everything was a bit darker. Genetic Factor's electronic rhythms and minimalist melodies come straight from those times (which I never saw as dark, but rather a playtime for strange music and do-it-yourself). Still, the consensus is that we must look back on the80s as a dark and depressing period.
In addition to these two pieces of vinyl, there are also Genetic Factor's Bandcamp pages on which you'll find more music, some of which seem to be of more recent times. Altogether, this is a pretty exciting discovery, hardly a re-discovery, as I knew so little of his work back then. (FdW)
––– Address: https://artificialdance.bandcamp.com/music
––– Address: https://geneticfactor.bandcamp.com/
COSMIC DREAM CLUB - DREAM DANCE (CDR by Cosmic Dream Records)
As you should know by now, Vital Weekly is always proud to say it's from Nijmegen, The Netherlands' 10th largest city with a strong love for counter-culture. Now and then, a new name pops up, and a release is pushed through the letterbox and not by the mailman. Cosmic Dream Club is such a new name. You see the name, hear the opening piece of the second release (following the cassette 'New Babylon' on Per Musica Ad Astra; not reviewed), 'Oort Cloud Exursion', and you nod affirmatively; this is cosmic music. Synths, check; cosmic references, check; space is the place, double-check. But then it's time for 'Precambrian Quartzite', and it turns out that erecting massive synth-scapes isn't the goal of Cosmic Dream Club; it has more to do with playing with rhythms and space. Sometimes with an all too straight 4/4 beat, aiming at the dance floor (of a spaceship, I should think), but along with these rhythms come lovely synth-scapes, and Cosmic Dream Club finds a connection with the world of ambient house. In 'The Monumentality Of Pure Mass', some NASA flight control is added to tick another box on the list. The Club walks a delicate balance between the more overtly rhythmic pieces and those that rely more on moods and textures, such as the one with NASA speaking. Together these ends create a nicely varied album, and the great thing is that it is never anything too straightforward; not pure dance or ambient or chill-out music, but with all the rough edges and a bit of daring release. A great start! Strictly limited to 25 copies, but also available in the digital domain. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cosmicdreamclub.bandcamp.com/
CABBAGGAGE - MICROSCRIPTS (cassette by Submarine Broadcasting Company)
"Microscripts is an album inspired by, and dedicated to, the Swiss writer Robert Walser. The word 'microscripts' refers to a series of Walser's private writings, assumed at the time to be written in a secret code, but subsequently deciphered as a microscopic form of the medieval Kurrent script". That quote is part of the information I got with this cassette, and that opens another prolongued time on Wikipedia, as I had not heard of Walser before. His biography looks interesting to investigate some more, time allowing. Levi Kempster is the person behind Cabbaggage and was inspired by Walser's writing, his walks, his poverty and his mental breakdown. The main instrument is the piano here, so I assume, at least, some electronic processing. Some of the pieces are entirely composed; otherwise are more sketch-like. The electronics here act as an ornament, in which the piano transcends into a heavenly lightweight, somewhat distant instrument. Think Erik Satie as recorded by Brian Eno (well, that means some records by Harold Budd, obviously). Tone colouring and reverb as the effects used in abundance, but it works well; it is never too much. As one might expect, the music is very atmospherical, both in how the piano is played here and in using electronics. This is the perfect soundtrack on a dreary day, as I am experiencing today. Slow piano music in a slightly disorienting landscape; what more do I need? Nothing. (FdW)
––– Address: https://submarinebroadcastingco.bandcamp.com/
YBALFERRAN - KARADI (cassette by Hurt By The Sun)
Polish-born, Austrian-based composed Blazej Kotowski works as Ybelferran, among many other projects. As far as I can see and hear, computers and software play an essential role in his work. As Ybalferran, 'Karadi' is his fourth album, and it's not easy to tell what he's doing here. My best guess would be that Kotowski uses field recordings as source material, but software heavily transforms them. I think I heard a siren somewhere (and I assume it wasn't one in my surroundings). The results are most enjoyable. The granular shifting of the material is, at times, quite heavy, as in noise-based and only occasionally, it turns out to be more ambient. I could relate to the music on Empreintes Digitales, but Kotowski keeps his pieces shorter and more to the point, usually revolving around one or two main sounds he explores within a five/six-minute time frame. Bouncing and gliding, the music is quite a rough tumble at times, and every time I play this cassette, I hear something new in the music, which is a good thing. Some of these pieces could go straight to a soundtrack of more horror and dystopian nature. I have no idea if Kotowski feels connected to the world of 'modern composing', as I couldn't help thinking about this as more orchestral and bombastic, generated in a digital environment. Maybe some of the sound sources are from an orchestral pack? That, too, is mere speculation on my behalf. Fantastic stuff that makes you wonder: why is this not on CD? (FdW)
––– Address: https://hurtbythesun.bandcamp.com/
MODELBAU - NIGHT ROUTE (Cassette on Cosmic Winnetou)
CELER - WASTED IN THE WAITING (Cassette on Cosmic Winnetou)
Cosmic Winnetou is again a label I've never heard of before but is already on its 60th release. The man behind the label is Günter Schlienz, so it's no miracle his name turns up on the roster several times. Other names on here are Oberlin, Pulse Emitter, and Mathias Grassow, to name but a few. But in the recent batch that lies before me, a Günter Schlienz release (to be reviewed next week) is accompanied by Celer and Modelbau. So yeah, I was asked to shine a light of wisdom and write some words on them.
Modelbau's "Night Route" counts eight nameless tracks, which were 'mostly recorded at night', probably why Frans chose this title. But having said that: The cover of a highway with an open lens is misleading because the tracks may not have been written while driving (the 'Route'-part). If so, I want to have a chauffeur just like that! But without kidding: I don't know where these tracks were made. I only know they have more or less than Modelbau-feel I learned to appreciate over time. The first side of the cassette has three tracks around the 10-minute mark with long stretched ambience parts, all in the Modelbau style. (1) has a throbbing pulse in the back, (2) has the feel of an organic emptiness with a melody, and the use of the effects in (3) makes it sound raw and alienated.
The other side of this cassette is a story apart. Five tracks, of which three are under 5 minutes, two above that. Without listening, I'm already intrigued because drones and ambient, for me, personally work best when the tracks are a bit longer, giving the listener a chance to 'get into' the sonic painting of the artist's pictures. But within the perspective of the 'Route' part, short trips also get you from A to B, so if done properly, that picture should be paintable too. And yes, even though the stories told are more concrete - read: more variation is put into a smaller amount of time - they still work. The shorter tracks are a bit more hectic: A quick drive to the all-night gas station to get a beer (we're in the Netherlands, okay; at least in the old days before this was banned).
The longer tracks remain my personal favourites from Modelbau, but this is a proper release with a story to find out all by yourself. So I've told you mine. Oh, and to confuse you a bit more and make you listen: My favourite track is not even the longest!
Next is Celer. "Wasted in the Waiting" is a re-release from the digital-only release from 2020, now on cassette available through Cosmic Winnetou (Thank you, Günter). So as a re-release, I usually would have spent a bit less time, but ... As it was digital only, it has not yet been reviewed in Vital Weekly. So: Yeah! New Celer!
" Wasted in the Waiting" is a 2-track album, "Unreality in Misfortune" counts 38 minutes, "Mere Threads" is almost 46. So if you just read the Modelbau review, you already see me being happy: Long meandering tracks with subtle behaviour are the audible territory. And yes, "Unreality in Misfortune" is a perfect example, even with the abrupt ending. The build-up is massive, the choice of orchestral sounds significant, and it seems endless. Then, "Mere Threads". The beginning is about the best I've ever heard, and the track is Celer. It goes on and on and works best when played in the background to form 'one' with your environment ... Hmm, now, where have I heard that before ...
Yes, the minimalism that is Celer is an acquired taste, but if you were to try something this minimal, you might as well try this one. (BW)
––– Address: https://cosmicwinnetou.bandcamp.com/