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VITAL WEEKLY
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number 486
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week 31
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Vital Weekly, the webcast: as an experiment for the time being, we offering a weekly webcast, freely to download. This can be regarded as the audio-supplement to Vital Weekly. Presented as a radioprogramm with excerpts of just some of the CDs (no vinyl or MP3) reviewed. It will remain on the site for a limited period (most likely 2-4 weeks). Download the file to your MP3 player and enjoy!
http://www.vitalweekly.net
you can subscribe to the weekly broadcast using the following rss feed:
http://www.harmlog.nl/vitalfeed.asp
New broadcasts will be sent directly when uploaded. For more information on
podcasts go here: http://ipodder.sourceforge.net/

 

 

 

 

LEPENIK - MUSIC WITH WORDS - RHYTHMS FOR DANCING (CD by Genesungswerk)
GATE TO GATE - I TURN BLACK KEYS (CD by Pac Rec)
T.E.F./BASTARD NOISE - ASTRONOMICAL SOUND IMAGES (CD by Pac Rec/Pitchphase)
KILLER BUG - BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE TAPES (2CD by Pac Rec/Ninth Circle Music)
SICKNESS/SLOGUN - THE SCARS OF HAPPINESS/ALWAYS NUMB (CD by Pac Rec)
DAMION ROMERO - PATCH (CDR by Trunks)
OVUM - PLASTIC PASSION (CDR by Trunks)
GERRITT - LIVE IN THE AIR (CDR by Trunks)
ROBEDOOR - TOMAHAWK WRAITHS (CDR by Trunks)
CLOAMA (CD by New Old Sentinel)
MR. SCHMUCK'S FARM - GOOD SOUND (CD by Oral)
NATHAN MCNINCH - A BRIEF AUDIO HISTORY OF AGRICULTURE (CD by Oral)
UNSTABLE ENSEMBLE - EMBERS (CD by Family Vineyard)
CONTAGIOUS ORGASM/ZYRTAX - DNA LOOPS (CD by SSSM)
DAVID BEHRMAN - MY DEAR SIEGFRIED (2CD by Experimental Intermedia)
SPOONCURVE - ARE FRIENDS SYMMETRIC (CD by D.O.R.)
HIS NAME IS ALIVE - UFO CATCHER (LP by En/Of)
PIANO MAGIC - NEVER IT WILL BE THE SAME AGAIN (LP by En/Of)
AKIRA RABELAIS - A.M. STATION (Lp by En/Of)
EDWARD KA-SPEL - FRAGMENTS OF ILLUMINA (CDR by Piehead Records)
12000 DAYS - AT THE LANDGATE (miniCDR by Shining Day)
DOC WOR MIRRAN - IPSO FATSO (CDR by Verato Project)
CTACIK - EGO-GENEROCITY (CDR by Verato Project)
B'TONG (3"CDR by Verato Project)
AKIFUMI NAKAJIMA - WATER 1990 (CDR by Kodi/Taalem)
PHOLDE - IN THE SUBSET OF ALL ELEMENTS (3"CDR by Alm/Taalem)
COMPEST - BENU (3"CDR by Alm/Taalem)
COLLINS & PALIX - WIPE OUT! (CDR, private)
AGORA MINORA - A POETIC DREAM EXCESS (CDR by Jawohl Records)
THE LAST-SMITH - YARDSTUCK (CDR by Jawohl Records)
LYD FRA ET VEIKRYSS 2 (CDR by Jawohl Records)
LEE EXTRACTS (CDR compilation by Lee Music)
DAN ARMSTRONG - 1985-2005 (DVD-R by Takashi Mobile Records)
INTERNATIONAL PEOPLES GANG - 3395 (MP3 by Em:t Records)
BEATSYSTEM - 2297 (MP3 by Em:t Records)

 

Koji Tano obituary (by Lasse Marhaug)

 

 

 

 

LEPENIK - MUSIC WITH WORDS - RHYTHMS FOR DANCING (CD by Genesungswerk)
Lepenik is one Robert Lepenik, from Austria, who has studied classical guitar and played in various bands, playing various kinds of music. He doesn't strike me as a man who likes to make decisions: on his solo CD he has eighteen tracks, ranging from 32 seconds to just under five minutes, taking the listener into all sorts of moods and textures. From noisy bits to stretched out, Pole like electronic pieces, moving back to electro-acoustic music, Lepenik does it all, but I wonder why? Does he want to show what he is capable of, a showing off of his many skills and interests, perhaps? Don't get me wrong here, I do like most of the pieces, but I think I would have preferred a slightly more coherent work, something that would tell maybe a story, a development, or some such. This hotchpotch of music is too fragmented to form a good opinion. Nice but confused. (FdW)
Address: http://www.genesungswerk.de

GATE TO GATE - I TURN BLACK KEYS (CD by Pac Rec)
T.E.F./BASTARD NOISE - ASTRONOMICAL SOUND IMAGES (CD by Pac Rec/Pitchphase)
KILLER BUG - BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE TAPES (2CD by Pac Rec/Ninth Circle Music)
SICKNESS/SLOGUN - THE SCARS OF HAPPINESS/ALWAYS NUMB (CD by Pac Rec)
DAMION ROMERO - PATCH (CDR by Trunks)
OVUM - PLASTIC PASSION (CDR by Trunks)
GERRITT - LIVE IN THE AIR (CDR by Trunks)
ROBEDOOR - TOMAHAWK WRAITHS (CDR by Trunks)
It's hard to read, but the band is Gate To Gate, and that is the collaboration between Greh (of Hive Mind and Chondritic Sound) and Mike Connelly (of Hair Police, Wolf Eyes and Gods Of Thundra). This almost eighty minutes very full length CD has two of their old cassettes in a re-mastered form and one new piece, that last already thirty-eight minutes. Releases on Pac Rec usually deal with noise, but it can be of any kind. Gate To Gate operates in a darker than dark side corner of the noise spectrum. The title piece, the newie here, starts out with a dark, muffled tone, but slowly evolves with feedback and likewise muffled percussive banging. But it all remains black, pitch black. The bass end of is top heavy here. The four older pieces are more open, leaning less on the heavy bass sound, and a more straight forward noise pieces with loads of feedback and distortion. This contrast works quite well and marks a progression.
On the same label, but in co-release with the Pitchphase label, is the collaboration between T.E.F., aka Kevin Novak, of whom I never heard and Bastard Noise, aka Eric Wood, a veteran of noise music. The title may suggest that we are dealing here with cosmic music, even maybe ambient music and the opening sounds may justify that, but the three tracks on this release deal with noise of the more heavy kind. Walls of feedback and distortion form the main ingredients of this release. It's noise music in the most classical sense of the word. Loud, mean and heavy in the best Merzbowian traditions. Thirty-six minutes of pain and agony. Not adding a new insights to the world of noise, but executed with great care.
Quickly moving on the double CD by Killer Bug, aka Kazumoto Endo. He's one of the better known Japanese noise makers, since the mid-nineties, alongside Merzbow, Pain Jerk and Masonna. This double CD collects a lot of his early works that were released on cassettes and 7"s, including his first tape and a piece from his first concert, both in 1994. Of course of all these are now hard to get, so it's good to see them collected on a CD. Certainly at 140 minutes of true noise, this is not easy to sit true (says the man who heard all fifty Merzbow CDs), but it's an essential collection showing the development of Killer Bug. Lots of feedback, metallic percussive rumble and in the later work, voice screaming stuff. Nice stuff indeed.
Sickness and Slogun, who split a CD among themselves, are from the newer bunch of noise musicians, who have developed out of my ear-sight. Apparently the material on this release was originally released as a double 3"CDR set on the 2003 tour of both bands. Sickness plays noise that is chopped up in an odd sort of rhythmical way, sauced (or rather spiced) up with a fine blend of electronica, feedback and distortion. Actually quite alright. Same can be said of Slogun, who have one track in six parts. Although it's hard to decipher where on track stops and the other begins. Here the emphasis lie on the use of voice, which is looped and spread around using a lot of delay machines. What the lyrics are about, we can merely guess, but titles as 'I Kill For Me' and 'Perfect Shit' may indicate what it is about. If you like the old Ramleh (like I do), this might be worthwhile to investigate.
Troniks is the sub-division of Pac Rec when it comes to releasing noise music on CDR. All four packages look similar, an idea 'stolen' (erm, 'borrowed'), from RRR's Pure series. The artists are maybe a bit lesser known, but who knows: maybe tomorrow's stars? Damion Romero is perhaps best known for his involved with the rock band Slug, but he has produced some noise music under his own name too. On his release he plays a 'MOTM/Blacet modular synthesizer', probably recorded in one go. No noise at work on this release, as this is a highly minimal piece of synthesizer blurbs, augmented with silence. Excellent stuff, a good tablet for headaches when listening to the rest, and no doubt something to remix.
It's been a while since I last heard music by Ovum, aka Karl Midholm (Vital Weekly 258), but this new work, two tracks in total, comes as another mighty statement of ambient industrial music. No noise in the traditional Pac Rec/Troniks vein, but very subdued music. Slowed down sounds of the sea washing ashore, embedded in a field of deep dark electronics. If some of the stuff on Pac Rec is truly black, this foremost grey music. Isolationist music.
Gerritt is the guy who released Merzbow's Frog LP/CD, but also doing noise music himself. The three tracks on 'Live In The Air' were recorded on some, unnamed, radio station. The first and the third piece are a collage of cracked electronics and a fiery attack on electro-acoustic objects being amplified by contact-microphones. Here the influence of Merzbow, certainly in the first track, is never far away. The second piece is a cut-up of an interview (perhaps Gerritt himself), feeding through a bunch of reverb and delay units. That didn't leave a lasting impression, but the other two were quite alright.
I have no idea who Rodedoor is, and he/she/they do a short release of just under twenty three minutes. Of all the releases, I found this the least interesting one. A bunch of feedback like sounds, which sound like they were recorded in an average living room, some banging, but failing to reach any sort of extremist side, tension or interest. Short, but too long. (FdW)
Address: http://www.iheartnoise.com

CLOAMA (CD by New Old Sentinel)
The website of the label has a special corner for Cloama, a band (most likely one person) from Finland, but holds only news and a discography. Nice to know that his tape was released in 1997, but maybe some extra information on the background would have been nice. The five pieces on this CD were recorded in 2003 and 2004, and, even when there is no such information on the cover, me thinks it's made with a bunch of synthesizers, effects and perhaps a guitar. Merely guessing here of course, but the result is quite alright. His music is not unlike that of Jarl: a seemingly endless stream of sound, feeding in and out in a likewise endless line of processing machines (synthesizers, plug ins, effects - you name it), and the outcome is music that is both ambient like and industrial. Too loud and present to be ambient, too soft and outspoken to classify as a typical noise product. The five pieces are pretty long, but hold enough variation in each of them, aswell as to eachother, that this is a most surprising release. Not so much in terms of new things being done, but it's all done with great care and eye for detail. Highly recommended for those who love ambient industrialists. (FdW)
Address: http://neuroscan.org/nos

MR. SCHMUCK'S FARM - GOOD SOUND (CD by Oral)
NATHAN MCNINCH - A BRIEF AUDIO HISTORY OF AGRICULTURE (CD by Oral)
Of you never heard of Mr. Schmuck's Farm, but it's the collaboration between Hildur Gudnadottir (who she?) and Dirk Dresselhaus of Schneider TM. They met in Berlin, decided to hook up and on three different occasions the three tracks now on 'Good Sound' were recorded. Hildur plays cello, saw, accordion, zither, pearl-chain and fender twin reverb and Schneider plays the same reverb, kaoss pad, vermona retroverb, memory man deluxe, eq's, doepfer unit and a spring reverb. Lots of black boxes on his side of the room. The CD opens with 'Not All Crows Are Black', which is a rather scrapy piece of stringed sounds, played in a very free improvised way, but doesn't make much impression. Unlike 'Don't Give Up, What Is Death?', the next track which is an absolute beauty of highly vibrant drone music. It's over thirty minutes long and could have been a great CD by just itself. The final track is 'My Favourite Caucus Airchamber', which I believe was recorded first, and which is again, like the first piece, a bit of an unfocussed improvisation thing. Two people playing together with noting the other. Both of these pieces are brief, but it's the second one that makes the entire CD.
The name Nathan McNinch is a new one for me, and the source material for his 'A Brief Audio History Of Agriculture' is life and machinery around the farm. Rusty objects like milk-containers are used, and the subsequent recordings are processed by computer means. Apart from the clear use of source material, all of the other stuff that McNinch does is nothing spectacular. He does a good job however in what he does. Stretched out rumbles, metallic bangs, slowed down, sped up: all the usual elements of microsound are there, owing say a lot to Steve Roden, Roel Meelkop, Bernard Gunter or Richard Chartier, but McNinch finds his own way and does a really fine job at this. Nothing new, standing in a firm tradition, but nevertheless very much alright. (FdW)
Address: http://www.oral.qc.ca

UNSTABLE ENSEMBLE - EMBERS (CD by Family Vineyard)
With "Embers" this electro-acoustic improv group from North Carolina released their third CD.
The album has 6 live-recordings made during several concerts in 2003, alas of a home made quality. At the moment they a fourth CD in preparation. The ensemble was formed in 1999 by guitarist Jason Bivins. He is professor of religion at North Carolina State University. He writes for Cadence and plays in several improvisation collectives. Over the years his Unstable Ensemble knew different line-ups. For this live-recording his ensemble is made up by: Jason Bivins (electric guitar), Marty Belcher (soprano and alto sax), Ian Davis (percussion), Matt Griffin (percussion) and Eric Weddle (mixing-board, cassette-recorder). Their improvisations are very stripped down and sober, which is a sign of their growing discipline. Also their music is non-dramatic (it never happens) and not very extravert, compared with their earlier stuff. Most improvisations are very extended journeys, often with long passages very near to silence, and of a abstractness we know from European musicians. In my experience this music is enjoyed best live. It is difficult to capture this music on tape in a satisfying way. Alas "Embers" is no exception to this. (DM)
Address: http://www.family/

CONTAGIOUS ORGASM/ZYRTAX - DNA LOOPS (CD by SSSM)
The work of Contagious Orgasm is now going for more than a decade and he never gets enough. Here teaming up with the for me unknown Zyrtrax in a particular more rhythmic affair than the usual Contagious Orgasm work. Be it technoid, be it industrial or plain minimalist, in the fourteen tracks they all pass by, intercepted by sound effects and synthesizers. A main influence on this music is, me thinks, Pan Sonic. Some of their plain and minimal, yet danceable music can be traced back into this. What more can be said? Nothing really. It's a fine mixture of various rhythmic influences from the last twenty or so years, ended up in a strict personal style. A good and solid CD. (FdW)
Address: http://www.geocities.jp/coolanatomy/

DAVID BEHRMAN - MY DEAR SIEGFRIED (2CD by Experimental Intermedia)
David Behrman is known for his electronic music, released on Alga Marghen and Lovely Music, but this new double CD gave me a hard time. The first disc is entirely voice based. Texts are by Siegfried Sassoon and S.N. Behrman and deal all with war, both of them firmly against war. The oldest one deals with the first world war and then the others deal with the second. Texts are read by three vocalists, and the music is played on a shakuhachi, trombone, keyboard and electronics. The music however is a mere backdrop to the spoken texts and that is what makes this not an easy CD to hear. One needs one full attention to hear it, but the texts are printed in the booklet. Maybe it's just difficult for me as a non-native speaker.
The second CD is of more interest, at least for me. 'A New Team Takes Over' also consists of spoken word, but in a more chopped up form. The other four pieces are all instrumental and sound like the Behrman we love and cherish: minimalist electronics, almost like sine waves. Played loud and move through your space and the music will seemingly alter what it sounds like. This is first class, top Behrman stuff, especially in "Viewfinder". With one CD being great and the other being alright (but not for a daily digest), this is a fine work. (FdW)
Address: http://www.xirecords.org

SPOONCURVE - ARE FRIENDS SYMMETRIC (CD by D.O.R.)
My first encounter with Spooncurve, a duo of singer Faye Rochelle and producer Martin Lee-Stephenson. If my count is right, this is their second full length CD, after having a couple singles, filled with lots of remixes, including some by Muslimgauze. Despite the title this has nothing to with Gary Numan... If anything, this reminded me very much of Cocteau Twins, even when the vocals are less drowned in effects and the music is much more open. The tempo of the songs is usually not high, but spiced up with ethnic percussion, guitar samples and on the top the ethereal, dreamy voice of Rochelle. Years and years ago, some German label had invented the terms 'heavenly voices' and if anyone remembers that, Spooncurve would fit right in, even when the music is more spicy, due to the use of more electronics and more dance oriented rhythms. At ten tracks it's maybe too much of a Twin Peaks kind of music, but after a good day filled on noise, this is the moment to relax and sit back. If you loved the 4AD catalogue, and wanted to get away, Spooncurve is a likewise good place to be. (FdW)
Address: http://www.dor.co.uk

HIS NAME IS ALIVE - UFO CATCHER (LP by En/Of)
PIANO MAGIC - NEVER IT WILL BE THE SAME AGAIN (LP by En/Of)
AKIRA RABELAIS - A.M. STATION (Lp by En/Of)
In the ever-expanding universe of En/Of another three piece. Ever-expanding because En/Of goes, more and more outside their microsound/electronica paths (as if they were ever inside of course), and they make it difficult for yours truly. His Name Is Alive? Erm, well Warren is a really nice guy, who loves his noise, but his ever ongoing His Name Is Alive moved very much outside my view. They were on 4AD as far as I can remember and Warren gave me a couple of His Name Is Alive CDRs a few back, and they all sounded inspired by R'n'B. This new LP (that comes with an 'unexposed photographic paper exposed to the sunrise' by Jason Dodge) has nine tracks of a highly diverse nature. Again some R'n'B influenced pieces, a new wave like track and on the b-side there is also some jazz inspired tracks. Prizewinner however is 'Dying You Destroyed Our Breath', with beautiful waves of saxophones and female vocals. If ever En/Of released anything that could be called 'easy' or 'accessible', than this His Name Is Alive qualifies for it. Really should listen more to them...
Piano Magic is also a surprise on En/Of, perhaps less than His Name Is Alive. They list both sides of their LP as the title 'Never It Will Be The Same Again', although one could say they are various pieces all along. A big line up here for Piano Magic, including female voice, diatonic accordion and the usual line up of guitars, keyboards and programming. This record is largely instrumental, and keyboards play the main role in here, aswell as acoustic guitars. There is just a little bit of singing on the second side. Piano Magic is also a band that always know how to surprise the listener with whatever they are playing, but like on this record is how I want them. Intimate, ambient inspired but still song structured. Less pop than His Name Is Alive, equal great quality. The artwork is by Bojan Sarcevic and are two off-set prints.
Quality is also what we get by Akira Rabelais, but it's quality of equal kind, as before with him. Both sides deal with the sounds of A.M. radio station, side a with one from Austin and side b with one from Los Angeles. The result is an utter minimalist work of drones, on side b just with those A.M. radio station sounds, but on side a there is also the sound of a viola, played by James 'the rib' Alexander. Statically moving this record is much more along the lines of some of the previous En/Of records, seemingly working out one idea for the entire record, but it does fit some of the esthetic that some of the visual components have. In this case a photo by Ceal Floyer. Like always all of the records are limited to 100 numbered copies. An ever slowly expanding universe. (FdW)
Address: http://www.bottrop-boy.com

EDWARD KA-SPEL - FRAGMENTS OF ILLUMINA (CDR by Piehead Records)
Originally this release was planned as one of the eleven in a series of 2004, but for some, undisclosed, reasons, this is now released as CDR outside any of the Piehead series. Edward Ka-spel may need no introduction as he is the frontman of The Legendary Pink Dots, now celebrating twenty-five years of existence. It's been noted before that my love of the Dots is still there, but that their krautrock psychedelic electronic music is at a stand-still for some years now, but, also noted, is that the solo activities of Ka-spel aswell as those of The Silverman are more interesting in terms of experimentalism and electronica. "Fragments Of Illumina" is in that respect no disappointment. Stretched out fields of big city paranoia electronica, Ka-spel's mysterious voice (which I must admit that one has to like to enjoy also his solo work) and the sampled strings, embedded in a tapestry of ambient sounds. Psychedelica and electronica are the keywords here too, but whereas the Dots end up with an ever-stomping sound of rhythm, keyboards, guitar and saxophone, here the sound is much more open and really spacious, cosmic that was once called. Perhaps due to the format of a CDR this is even more experimental than some of his other solo work and maybe not really the surprise after twenty-years of Dots (and probably a solo career aswell for Ka-spel), but a good addition to an already impressive solo catalogue. (FdW)
Address: http://www.pieheadrecords.com

12000 DAYS - AT THE LANDGATE (miniCDR by Shining Day)
Maybe this comes a true confession to some, but some twenty years ago I was a big fan of Eyeless In Gaza, even saw them play live in the local squad back then. Throughout the nineties I lost track of them, perhaps dismissing them wrongly as some sort of goth band, nor did I keep up with the various solo projects of Martyn Bates and Peter Becker. Their come-back album on Soleilmoon, 'Songs Of The Beautiful Wanton', was a big surprise, but that is already some years ago. 12000 Days is Martyn Bates' new project, together with Alan Trench, of Orchis and Temple Music, with connections to World Serpent. The three tracks of soft tinkling guitars, flutes, bass, percussion and the ever-so recognizable voice of Martyn is something that is perhaps not featured in these pages a lot, and at first I thought it to be an even more gothic version of Eyeless In Gaza, but after a couple of times, I must admit I started to like this more and more. Spacious and psychedelic at times, and introspective at other times. Three tracks at twenty minutes is perhaps a bit short, but it's leaves a good impression. (FdW)
Address: http://www.shiningday.pl

DOC WOR MIRRAN - IPSO FATSO (CDR by Verato Project)
CTACIK - EGO-GENEROCITY (CDR by Verato Project)
B'TONG (3"CDR by Verato Project)
It's been a while since I last heard Doc Wor Mirran, and it's no good saying that I heard all of their 94 releases (the number is mentioned on the cover, otherwise I wouldn't know). There was a time when I pretty much everything they did and even send them some sound to be used. They still have those sounds, I guess, as yours truly is on the cover as one of the bandmembers. Not that I did recognize of it, since it must be really transformed or I simply forgot what it was about. The ever-changing bandmembership is a guarantee that Doc Wor Mirran always sounds different. Apart from the first two tracks, featuring guitar, voices and electronics, the bigger part of 'Ipso Fatso' is of psychedelic synthesizer drone music. Ambient music with a lot of pepper. Quite nice, these cosmic explosions.
I know less about Ctacik, aka Stanislav Popov. Not much information on his website, but I learned he has three releases now. His seven lengthy pieces hoover around in quite heavy noise, using radio transmissions as it's principal source. People singing, talking or just plain noise: it's all fed through a bunch of effects, synthesizers or maybe the computer. This stuff is nothing of a big surprise in the world of noise, but at least it's made with a couple of more thoughts than the usual feedback through distortion releases, and that's something worthwhile too.,
B'Tong is the solo project of Chris Sigdell, who is a member of Nid (see Vital Weekly 460). Between january and april of this year he made this release 'using lap-top, natural sounds and recorded samples'. It's hard to say what kind of natural sounds he has taped, since they are transformed quite beyond the original source. The fact that a laptop is at work here is not hidden, but the colllision of sounds and technology works quite nice here, except in 'Waves To The Shore (Riptide)', which is a very freaky piece of rhythm and noise, which doesn't work very well. But the other tracks are, in all their more upfront microsound, quite nice. (FdW)
Address: http://www.verato-project.de

AKIFUMI NAKAJIMA - WATER 1990 (CDR by Kodi/Taalem)
PHOLDE - IN THE SUBSET OF ALL ELEMENTS (3"CDR by Alm/Taalem)
COMPEST - BENU (3"CDR by Alm/Taalem)
Recently I noted that we don't hear much of Aube lately, when reviewing the CD release he did with Maurizio Bianchi (see Vital Weekly 477). This new release under Aube's real name Akifumi Nakajima is not exactly new, as it is in fact a re-issue of cassette he released in 1990. That was before Nakajima choose the name Aube (in 1992). The music on this release was composed by Nakajima for an exhibition called 'Water 1990' by Arichi and Sasaoka. Whereas the old Aube was more about noise, this release is certainly not noisy at all. Another difference is that even when Nakajima uses mostly water sounds, he adds a synthesizer, and hence is not limited to just one sound source. The seven untitled pieces have all a very nice ambient flow. Synthesizer sounds mingle with the water sources and the delay machine is already working overtime. The compositions aren't as tightly structured as the later Aube work, but more freely and open-ended. Nice work from the past.
On Taalem's other sub-division Alm, two new releases. Pholde is Alan Bloor, who works as Knurl too, but I believe that Knurl is now reduced to a side-project and Pholde is the main thing. As Pholde Bloor plays around with ambient music played on metallic percussion and sound effects, mainly reverb. The time on the reverb machines is set to maybe 20 seconds and that makes it possible to make anything sounding ambient. But somehow Pholde gets away with it and crafts three nice pieces of deep ambient rumble.
Compest is a new name, but the man behind it, we all know: Martin Steinebach, who works as Monoid, Stillstand and Conscientia Peccati. Each of these names stand for a specific kind of music, but in Compest these come together. 'Benu' is a much louder release than the Pholde one, and leans more on analogue synthesizers and maybe digital processing. However it's not a track that works very well. The music drags on and on, seemingly without too many interesting changes and it lacks subtleness to be minimally interesting. A pity. (FdW)
Address: http://www.taalem.com

COLLINS & PALIX - WIPE OUT! (CDR, private)
For the last week or so, I have been playing this release a lot. Not because I liked it that much (well of course to a certain extend I did), but because I found it so hard to form any opinion about this. Paul Collins is a visual and musical artist, who has played in such bands as Your Body, 3 Bar Electrical Fire and The Lewd Reeds and Palix is a composer, collector and 'sound hunter'. It's a bit hard also to say what it is they are doing here, soundwise, but my best guess is that both have their hands firmly attached to the sampler, and that the world's history of music is their soundsource. Sometimes the sound a bit glitchy like in a sort of Fennesz kind of way, but at other times they sound much more conventional, jazzy, dubby, laid-back, almost in a David Shea kind of way. Some of the tracks are really nice, like the opening 'End Of Summer', but others seems to be dragging on, like 'Le Retour De Fuzzy'. But every time I played this, I found something else that was surprising to me, so I think I should give this benefit of doubt. (FdW)
Address: http://jjpalix.free.fr/CD-Wipe-Out.htm

AGORA MINORA - A POETIC DREAM EXCESS (CDR by Jawohl Records)
THE LAST-SMITH - YARDSTUCK (CDR by Jawohl Records)
LYD FRA ET VEIKRYSS 2 (CDR by Jawohl Records)
A bunch of CDRs from a new label from Norway, all filled with artists I have absolutely no background information of. Agora Minora play no less than seventeen sampled together songs, but it sounds tedious and amateurish to an extent that the term 'outsider music' doesn't apply. I don't this drag very much.
The sampler plays a role with the work of The Lastsmith, who is T. Svaland, who also runs the label. Twelve tracks in some twenty-six minutes, that is almost true punk spirit, but actually the sketches he produces on the sampler are way more interesting to hear than the doodling of Agora Minora. Sombre, introspective, naively played, but keeping an eye open for the composition of the piece. Nice intimate music, and just about long enough.
The best is saved for the last: a compilation with bands from the small Norwegian town Drammen. Although this is more in rock oriented fashion, there is also some nice singer-songwriter stuff on there. A diverse collection at that, and perhaps a bit too normal for these pages, it's a nice collection of home made rock music, and garage electronica. A pity that the band names can't be really read on the cover. (FdW)
Address: <tesvaland@yahoo.co.uk>

LEE EXTRACTS (CDR compilation by Lee Music)
The label Lee Music is new to me, but they claim to have 'branches' in Graz (home town of the label) aswell as in Vienna, London, Lima and Studenzen. I guess that's where the various musicians live, since they present themselves as a sort of collective. The music is quite diverse, from micro-glitch beats from Lenz to more heavy breakbeat stuff by E. Stonji and Winterstrand. Then Tomoroh Hidari going back into the world of drones or the glitchy pop of Schauer. EBM and IDM are however main keywords in this compilation with some forceful stuff by those mentioned. Many have more than one track on here. Altogether a pretty coherent compilation, despite some of the differences between some of the participating projects. A most enjoyable introduction to some new bands. (FdW)
Address: http://leemusic.org

DAN ARMSTRONG - 1985-2005 (DVD-R by Takashi Mobile Records)
Although I have no such plans, my retire plan would be this: listen to all Merzbow releases again, in a single row, then over to the complete Farmers Manual DVD (see Vital Weekly 370) and then as a small dessert I'd be playing the music on this DVD-R. Dan Armstrong, you may ask? For me, he's the man in the background, who I can always turn too with some stupid internet question, but also a member of the Vacuum Boys and an improviser with many others. The music on this DVD-R collects his earliest recorded works from 1985 up to july of this year. I will not claim having all heard when this review was made (hence my strong wish for an early retirement), as forty hours is, erm, a bit lengthy right now. I played some of the early stuff (where Dan shows us that he can play 'In Your House' by The Cure), some of his drone/feedback stuff, some of his guitar playing (Durutti Column never being far away) and of course some of the Vacuum Boys stuff - almost every concert so far they did is on here, as far as I can tell. Of worthy note, so far, is also his concerts with such diverse people as Radboud Mens, Zion Train and Philip Samartzis. After listening for about 7 hours of this, I realize I have only listened to a small portion of it. Can't wait to retire. (FdW)
Address: <dan@takashimobile.com>

INTERNATIONAL PEOPLES GANG - 3395 (MP3 by Em:t Records)
BEATSYSTEM - 2297 (MP3 by Em:t Records)
Still somewhere in a corner of the headquarters lies a bunch of old Em:t Records CDs: various compilations, Woob, International Peoples Gang and Beatsystem. In the early to mid-nineties, Em:t Records was THE leading ambient dance label, with sophisticated music, beautiful (much imitated) covers: a strong label. Since some time the label is back with new releases, which are all quite alright, but haven't gotten the same urgency as before. As an extra offer, perhaps to undermine the high prices of the original (who knows?), they are now selling online their old releases. I guess that's a good idea. I reviewed the International Peoples Gang CD back in Vital Weekly 10 (so, yes, that was about ten years ago), and said it was alright, but it was going a bit downhill with the label. Now, ten years later I can say that it is still a nice album to hear and has survived well through time. Forceful rhythms, guitars, loads of samples are all knitted together into a vivid, cinematic music that works quite well.
Beatsystem was the band of one Derek Pierce, but turned into his solo project. I couldn't my previous review of this work, so you have to stick to my 'ten years after' opinion. This is perhaps the most experimental, non-rhythmical album on Em:t Records, and perhaps also the most ambient one. Stretched out patterns played on a bunch of synthesizers, intercepted with voice samples, (among which is the voice of good ol' John Cage), guitars and field recordings of fireworks. This too did stand the time, sounding still like a most engaging journey. More ambient than ambient house, this should appeal to those who like their ambient a bit more spicey, yet still accessible. (FdW)
Address: http://www.emitrecords.com

 

Koji Tano obituary

Dear friends,

unless you have already heard, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news:

Our friend Koji Tano died yesterday, sunday july 31st.

My information is limited, but what I know is that Koji was diagnosed with stomach cancer in may, but after surgery the doctors could only conclude it was too late, the cancer had spread too far, and he was given maximum a year left to live. It lasted only two months.

Koji did more in his short time (I believe he was only 43) than most of us can hope for in a full lifetime. He had many friends around the world. As an organizer of shows and tours in Japan he was the key to almost everyone in the noise/experimental community coming to Japan. He seemed tireless, as he was constantly networking and helping people out (myself included).

As a musician Koji made a name for himself with his project MSBR, with countless releases and tours all over the world. (On his tours he always took with him younger acts, giving them exposure). Koji also launched the first extensive website for noise music, up and running in 1996. He published a magazine, ran an online mailorder, booked shows and tours, ran several labels, and in the last two years had his own store in Tokyo. His dedication and support for the music he loved was something extraordinary and his passing leaves a huge void in the noise scene.

I have been corresponding with Koji for over ten years and met him in person on a handful of occasions. This april I was in Japan, touring with John Hegre and John Sharp. During our time in Tokyo we stayed at his apartment, Koji sleeping on the livingroom floor, insisting we use his bedroom. He guided us around and made sure our stay was the best it could be. I believe the show he set up with us at Shibuya O-nest on April 16th was not only the last show he ever set up, but also his last MSBR concert performance.

Usually when people pass away people remember the good stuff, but I can honestly say I've never heard anybody say a single bad word of Koji. He was, simply, a hero. Rest in peace Koji, we will miss you.

My condolences to Koji's close friends and family.

Lasse Marhaug
August 1st 2005