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VITAL WEEKLY
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number 491
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week 36
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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/
* noted are in this week's podcast

 

 

 

HERIBERT FRIEDL - BRADYCARD (CD by Non Visual Objects) *
ROEL MEELKOP - MOMENTUM (CD by Non Visual Objects)
STEVE RODEN - ODER DELIAS OR BUTTERFLIES (CD by Non Visual Objects)
ABS(.)HUM - NO HEROES (CD by Tiramizu)
STEVE RODEN - AIRFORMS (CD by Line) *
CHESSMACHINE - LIVE IN LOS ANGELES (CD by Line)
THE GOSLINGS - BETWEEN THE DEAD (CD, self-released) *
35 MUTANT SECONDS: BASED ON RAFAEL TORAL'S BURST (CD by Grain Of Sound)
GRUENREKORDER AUDIOART COMPILATION 02 (compilation CD by Gruenrekorder)
COSTA GRÖHN - IM GEHÖLZ (CDR by Gruenrekorder)
LASSE-MARC RIEK - HÖREN (CDR by Gruenrekorder)
SINEBAG - PRES DE LA LISIERE (CD by Ahornfelder)
THE CAUTION CURVES (CDEP by Initiated Eye)
RLW - EARLY W (LP by Was Soll Das Schallplatten)
JON MUELLER/JIM SCHOENECKER - THE INTERVIEW (CDR by Longbox Recordings) *
THE DIGITARIAT - AGITATED (CDR by Entr'acte)
M. BEHRENS - KOSOVO REQUIEM (3"CDR by Oblast Records) *
CHRISTIAN GALARRETA - OME 08-2003 (CDR by Simple Logic Records) *
MELODIUM - HUM HUM & BLA BLA (MP3 by Autres Directions In Music) *
TONY - ITINERANCES (MP3 by Autres Directions In Music)

 

 

HERIBERT FRIEDL - BRADYCARD (CD by Non Visual Objects)
ROEL MEELKOP - MOMENTUM (CD by Non Visual Objects)
STEVE RODEN - ODER DELIAS OR BUTTERFLIES (CD by Non Visual Objects)
A while ago I reviewed some music by Heribert Friedl (Vital Weekly 449), which was freely available for download. The same Friedl now starts a new label, kicking off with no less than three new CDs, each in an edition of 300 copies. One of them contains new music by Friedl himself. He uses a digitally processed cymbalon, soundscapes, field recordings and 'acoustic phrases', all of which move in a very slow way. 'Bradycard' is a medical term meaning 'to have a slow heart-rhythm', mostly under 60 beats per minute. In the two lengthy pieces things move indeed slowly. Starting with the processed sound of thunder, sounds of the cymbalon rise up slowly from the deep end, do their thing and as slowly die out in the end. Over the course of a piece small, delicate digital treatments move in and out in a slightly similar way. It's music that doesn't move much: it stays in the reams of ambient music, but Friedl adds an experimental touch to the material, using sometimes feedback like textures and that will surely not lead to deep atmospherical music, but it breaks away from the ambient glitch and moves microsound into a slightly more noise oriented music, and that's a very good thing. More experimental than one would have assumed and that's the great power of this.
To many Roel Meelkop is a musician of microsound music, with releases on Trente Oiseaux, Staalplaat, Intransitive, but he was originally trained as a visual artist and even sold a painting once. Since he is involved in music he has also a built a number of sound installations. The once I saw all involved multiple speakers, sometimes hidden in the ceiling or in trees, and the music moving over the speakers. It's an entirely different thing to make music for this than for the stereo set up of a CD release. But on this new CD (and for once one that hasn't been lying around for years), Meelkop reduces his multiple speaker installations to a stereo mix, taking it out of the original concept of the installation, but to be enjoyed as music for the home. As per usual, Meelkop doesn't tell us much about the actual installation, and the titles leave not much to know either. So with everything removed other than the music (a very Meelkopian thing to do), we are left with six pieces from the period 1997 to 2004, which continue his work explored before on his releases up-to the recently reviewed '5 (Ambiences)', when things got more 'ambient' (see Vital Weekly 488). There are hints here of the forthcoming minimalist and ambient style, such as in lengthy 'Sined', from 2002, with it's soft outbursts of sine wave sounds. Overall this is a most enjoyable CD, and if there should have been any differentiation between work on CD and installation, Meelkop has successfully managed to wipe these differences out. These pieces work also quite well outside the context of installations.
The final CD in this first batch is by Steve Roden, he who invented the term microsound. The title of the piece is based on a dream Roden had, which is too complicated to retype and it's a nice word play. The music was played on a bamboo flute Bernard Günter made for Roden, and which of course Roden carefully processes. Unlike some of his previous works, Roden takes the sound apart and processes beyond the idea of a flute sound. It starts out with that but over the course of forty minutes things minimally transform into bell-like sounds, chimes perhaps. Like with previous Roden works, sounds are grouped together in slightly different loops of varying length, which move along each-other and create a dense but pleasant pattern. Highly atmospherical music and still among the best microsound, and in Steve Roden's case it's microsound in the most classical sense of the word, has to offer. (FdW)
Address: http://www.nonvisualobjects.com

ABS(.)HUM - NO HEROES (CD by Tiramizu)
Some two years (Vital Weekly 389) ago I reviewed a CDR release by Abs(.)hum, the project by Christophe Havard (of Formanex) and Charles-Henry Beneteau, who now present their first real CD. They still work along similar methods as before: both musicians play guitars, in various ways, such as 'cord pulling, string vibrations through small engines, Larsen capture and object movement'. The sounds that these techniques produce are fed through a bunch of analogue guitar pedals as-well as some more elaborate computer processing. The pieces on this CD were all made during a live session in july 2004. Stylistically it's a continuation of the work started with the previous CDR release and it's not easy to access music. Things can get pretty rough here, with feedback tones and loosely based guitar sounds. At fifty minutes this is a pretty lengthy CD with many harsh, textured sounds that do not always sound convincing. Unlike the previous release, the material is not always as diverse, making the release sounding too similar throughout, and not the exploration of all the possibilities it can have. The sixth, untitled (as they all are), with it's rhythmical crackles and minimalist guitar sounds, is the prize winner. The material would surely have benefitted from some editing. (FdW)
Address: http://tiramizu.net

STEVE RODEN - AIRFORMS (CD by Line)
CHESSMACHINE - LIVE IN LOS ANGELES (CD by Line)
There might also be the risk that Steve Roden becomes the Merzbow of microsound, as this is the second release of his we have in one week. But unlike the 'Oder Delias Or Butterflies' release, this release deals with music for an installation, based around experimental houses by architect Wallace Neff in the 1940s. His houses were built by spraying concrete over an inflated balloon structure. In his installation Roden uses five objects by laying plaster over small balloons. The sound was 'created using the transformed sound of a breath through an old wooden pipe organ'. In the course of some fifty some minutes, Roden doesn't tell us a story, but rather has his sounds in a free flown space. It's made along the usual Roden principle ("sounds are grouped together in slightly different loops of varying length, which move along each-other and create a dense but pleasant pattern") and creates an environmental piece of music for the home listener, in absence of the installation. As such it works well. Best is to leave this CD on repeat for a whole day, and a medium to low volume, while cleaning the house or painting a picture. It will stick in your head in a slow and peaceful manner. Very pleasant indeed.
On the same label, which now come in re-styled in-house design, comes the second release by Chessmachine, the ongoing collaborative work between Ivan Pavlov (aka Coh) and Richard Chartier (Line's boss). Not just a fight between Russia and the USA, like a classical chess competition (although: would Bobby Fischer still think he's an american?), but also a battle between the man behind a Mac and the man behind a PC. They sit opposite each-other, like a chess game and work their way through a set of improvised laptopmusics. Although Chessmachine is a pretty decent set of improvised music, I still have trouble with it, just like did with their debut release (see Vital Weekly 437). It incorporates the usual crackles, static, hiss, cracks, bleeps that these boys are obligated to do, but I found it hard to grasp something of it. It didn't grab me, leaving me a bit unsatisfied behind. Perhaps being there, exposed to the dynamics the material has to offer (which must be noted: at times louder than the usual releases on Line), would have changed my opinion, but at home, while not being present, this sounds still too normal and not beyond the ordinary. Still, on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate this with 6. (FdW)
Address: http://www.12k.com

THE GOSLINGS - BETWEEN THE DEAD (CD, self-released)
After many hours of listening to carefully shaped crackles and bleeps, which cover the many lines in Vital Weekly, it's good to get down to earth with The Goslings. They are a powertrio of Max on guitars and 'other', Leslie on vocals and 'other' and Steve on drums and 'other' - making one of course curious what this 'other' might be. Almost everything breaths 'noise', with a capital N. The guitars scream, the drums roll fiercely and whenever there are vocals, it screams the lungs out. Highly pitched, feedback like lines on a distorted guitar, it's loud and meaner than life. Five lengthy outbursts of this type, before we encounter a point of relative quietness in 'Yellow Sky', with a lovely, semi-distorted drone and a distorted guitar of some kind. It forms the moment of contemplation before the final two songs, which are in full force noise rock territory again, complete with a pounding, slow rhythm-machine in 'Blood A Necklace'. Perhaps this is not the music that covers the Vital headquarters a lot, but it is certainly a most welcome wake-up call, bringing us back to earth with the fact that there is more than microsound and ambient glitch. (FdW)
Address: http://www.geocities.com/the_goslings

35 MUTANT SECONDS: BASED ON RAFAEL TORAL'S BURST (CD by Grain Of Sound)
This is the second release in an ongoing series by Grain Of Sound: after the reworking of an Alva Noto piece (see Vital Weekly 409), now it's Rafael Toral's turn. His 'Creamy Burst' was recorded in 1994 and now gets the full remix treatment, by people like Richard Chartier, Pita, Kim Cascone but also lesser known ones, such as Allto, Ian Epps, Blake Stickland and ENT. The latter offers a heavy weight ambient/drone and Chartier moves along more subtle microsounding lines. These are the parameters for this CD: either glitchy ambient cracklings or, not unlike Toral's original, more louder, more present ambient pieces. The biggest surprise for me is the shortest track of the lot, by Kim Cascone, which is also much louder than we would have expected from him. This is a pretty decent compilation, which lives up to it's expectations, with no standout track, but also no weak brother around. Nice but perhaps not much of a challenge? (FdW)
Address: http://www.grainofsound.com

GRUENREKORDER AUDIOART COMPILATION 02 (compilation CD by Gruenrekorder)
COSTA GRÖHN - IM GEHÖLZ (CDR by Gruenrekorder)
LASSE-MARC RIEK - HÖREN (CDR by Gruenrekorder)
More releases from the label Gruen Rekorder, from Frankfurt am Main, which specializes in music made with field recordings. More than the previous 'Der Michel Und Der Dom' (see Vital Weekly 470), this new compilation serves as a mission statement of the label. The booklet has seven texts (out of 81) which describes what Gruenrekorder Music is all about, which field recordings, musical structures, nature but also sound poetry and listening. Which is what we get on this lengthy compilation. Nineteen pieces of experimental music (Suspicion Breeds Confidence, Waldlust), field recordings (Costa Gröhn, Lasse-Marc Riek, Etzin), improvisation (by Gran Ou Lee, Thomas Siefert) and sound poetry (by Dirk Hüls Trunk). A pretty varied bunch of musical directions here, but it somehow makes sense all together. As a mission statement it works quite well, without any real high-flyers here.
On CDR format two releases, both by people I never heard of, and of course both heavily relying on field recordings. Costa Gröhn's treats the field recordings inside the computer in twenty-one short compositions, which display a great sense for detail and dynamics. His music bounces back and forth between the inaudible and the more present, louder parts. It's hard to view this as a work with so many compositions as it runs very nicely as a whole. This could easily be one composition. The field recordings are pretty much well-transformed beyond the original, but of and on, children voices and bird calls sound through. A captivating work throughout.
The likewise new name Lasse-Marc Riek presents 'Hören', meaning: 'listening'. He has forty-one small field recordings from 1999 up to 2003. He presents them as they are: a skateboard, a plane, the metro, the car etc. He does not add anything such as processing or anything else. It's a likewise fascinating journey. The recordings are quite nice to listen too, even when it's not always clear: in the piece 'Das Flugzeug 01', there is indeed a plane, but the birds sound much clearer through. And, although I'm not sure if you would run into trouble with the composer, these raw, unprocessed sounds could easily serve for the more adventurous remixers.. (FdW)
Address: http://www.gruenrekorder.de

SINEBAG - PRES DE LA LISIERE (CD by Ahornfelder)
Behind Sinebag is one Alexander Schubert, who had a couple of releases before, which I never heard. I am told that the Ahornfelder label wants to release CDs which combine music and field recordings and as such they have released a more than excellent work. Sinebag went out and recorded a whole bunch of outdoor sounds, but mainly focussing on bird sounds, and back in the studio he adds a very fine blend of a lot of acoustic guitars, but also some spoken word, organ sounds and xylophones. Sometimes everything is treated with the use of the computer, but in general things sounds as they are and that's one of the powers of this CD. The bird calls and acoustic guitar plucking work best untreated: one gets the idea that Sinebag sits in his backyard and strums his guitar, inspired by the listening to the birds. And even when there are sixteen track titles on the cover, it is best enjoyed by playing this in one go, to perceive it as one track. The differences between the tracks aren't always that big (a point of criticism), and it does make more sense listening to this as one track. That may be a bit too long for what it has to offer, but throughout I thought this was a most enjoyable CD. (FdW)
Address: http://www.ahornfelder.de

THE CAUTION CURVES (CDEP by Initiated Eye)
A female trio of Rebecca Mills on laptop and samplers, Tristana Fiscella who sings and drummer Amanda Huron on drums. All three have ties in punk rock aswell as improvised music. There are two pieces on this CDEP: 'Lemons' which is about seven minutes and 'Leslie' which is about three times as long. I don't get this music very much. It's loosely improvised on drums and obscured sounds coming from the laptop and samplers and the vocals are half wordless, half to be understood. The musical part is only partly interesting, as over the course of both pieces, nothing much seems to be happening, but it's the vocal part that put me of, especially in 'Leslie', where it becomes a cross between overtone throat singing and ending with 'Leslie come home'. Luckily the singing starts only half way through the song. As you may guess, not my thing, but perhaps there are lovers of outsider music out there who may get the drift of this. (FdW)
Address: http://www.thecautioncurves.com

RLW - EARLY W (LP by Was Soll Das Schallplatten)
In the ever ongoing search for old but not lost recordings by RLW, aka Ralf Wehowsky, we finally get the third volume in 'eaRLy W', a series started in 1997 by Swill Radio. On this LP we find the recordings from 1981 which RLW recorded as Rogalli. 'Neue Deutsche Peinlichkeit' was originally a c30 cassette, and is here in it's complete form, plus three bonus tracks from the same time. This is however not a solo recording by RLW, but he gets some help from future and past PD/P16.D4 members. What can be noted here is that the loose form improvisation of some RLW's older stuff is gone, and that he plays 'real' tracks, structured and played with care. A rhythm-box and guitars play an important role, feeding the sound through a bunch of distortion pedals and other relative simple means of transformation. But each of the pieces is a concise affair, a strict exploration of an idea per track. It's still far away from the latter cut-up concrete sound of P16.D4, but it's at the same time also a much more structured record than some of the preceding material. A transitional record so to say, not entirely cutting it previous ties, and not yet the form and structure of P16.D4. As with all of RLW's re-issues this is a highly essential re-issue, slowly unfolding pieces of forgotten history. (FdW)
Address: http://www.wsdp.de

JON MUELLER/JIM SCHOENECKER - THE INTERVIEW (CDR by Longbox Recordings)
The meeting of Jon Mueller and Jim Schoenecker is not an unusual one: they met before in Collections Of Colonies Of Bees and had a trio with Bhob Rainey. Mueller is a highly active drummer/percussion player of improvised musics and Schoenecker plays synth. In the middle of 2003 they were invited to play an apartment concert for a small, attentive audience and later that year they re-recorded their set. Over the course of thirty minutes they built in a seemingly endless crescendo their music, starting from the beyond the point of hearing, until things get quite loud, but it never reaches a point of noise. Percussion sounds you may say? Mueller looks at his kit and plays it like an object, not like a drummer, but rather an investigation of all the sound possibilities. Nowhere we get the idea that there is a drummer at work. Schoenecker's playing on the other hand is much more traditional, this is a synthesizer, but he plays it with control. The sliders move in a minimal way which causes the synth to move in similar slow fashion. It's simply a great piece of music, very vibrant in all it's minimalist changes and small moves. Very unlike improvisation really, this is much more a composition that one would expect from these two. A very fine disc indeed. (FdW)
Address: http://www.longboxrecordings.com

THE DIGITARIAT - AGITATED (CDR by Entr'acte)
A long long time ago, Paul D. Knowles played as Dachise and worked off and on with Aphasia. I lost sight of him, but now he's back as The Digitariat. The three tracks on this new release were all recorded in one take, but involve previously recorded source material. Despite the name The Digitariat, the material doesn't sound very digital. I think much of the source material was recorded on audio cassettes, which are played back using multiple tape-players, using the various rewind and fast forward buttons, whilst on the same mixing board there is some sort of organ playing a drone. At it's most noisiest this reminded me of Merzbow, but 'Smouldering iPod Refuse Dump' was more or less a Howard Stelzer like cassette collage, albeit not as good. The three long pieces don't sound very engaging, staying too long along similar lines and don't have enough challenge in there. That and the somewhat low recording quality doesn't make a very convincing return of this noise artists, whose older work was much louder, better and meaner. (FdW)
Address: http://www.entracte.co.uk

M. BEHRENS - KOSOVO REQUIEM (3"CDR by Oblast Records)
This work is for reasons not clear to me a bit older but only now released. Marc Behrens recorded his 'Kosovo Requiem' in April and May 1999, when the war in Yugoslavia was it's height. It was not the first piece of music dealing with war for Behrens: 'Elapsed Time', 'Khabul Rubble' and 'Sketch For Baghdad e em Lisboa' preceded. This requiem is not intended as a religious statement, but is based upon the latin 'requiescat in pace', hoping that wars anywhere will stop. The music is made of processed field recordings, including a broken speaker, a gas stove and street noises. As per usual, Behrens does a really job. Delicate treatments, slowly unfolding of sounds and putting the microscopic ear to the ground and picking up the rumble from below. Of course with such a heavy weight thematic approach it's unavoidable to think of the darker tones and sombre gestures the music makes. An intelligent protest against the stupidity of war. (FdW)
Address: http://www.oblast.net

CHRISTIAN GALARRETA - OME 08-2003 (CDR by Simple Logic Records)
My Spanish is sadly not sufficient enough to read anything on the website of Christian Galarreta, but he has an extensive discography, dating back to 1998, and many of the works are available as free downloads and CDRs. Here a CDR release on the Polish Simple Logic Records label. It contains one lengthy piece by Galarreta and remix of the same piece from Chefkirk. Galarreta loves his material to be noise related, and he loves his material to be digital. I assume he plays around with a laptop, running software synthesizers, which he cranks up so that the meaner, louder and dirtier tones arrive, but his strict method of cut-up keeps him away from being the next Merzbow copycat. Instead his music is at times more rhythmical, but switching rhythms at a great speed. It also seems that the material is generated through the methods of improvisation, which makes this piece a bit too lengthy and undirected to me. In that respect the 'Kitchen Utility Mix' by Chefkirk is much more organized, making longer loops of the material and organizing the chaos. Slowly unfolding a densely layered beast, and ranging among the better pieces of Chefkirk. (FdW)
Address: http://www.simlog.tk

MELODIUM - HUM HUM & BLA BLA (MP3 by Autres Directions In Music)
TONY - ITINERANCES (MP3 by Autres Directions In Music)
The Melodium release has eight tracks, clocking at twenty-seven minutes and is called an EP; the one by Tony has six tracks, thirty minutes and is called an LP. That seems to me a minor difference. Melodium had a couple of online releases and a real CD on Autres Directions In Music before and this EP should be seen as a forecast of his next album, as all tracks are called 'Untitled' and there are three remixes. Melodium, aka Laurent Girard, seems to be progressing from his previous music and moves forward to a much more poppy sound and away from the cheaper sounding electronica sound which he was active in until now. More subdued, more diverse instrumentation and a somewhat more challenging production. The Jules Marsen remix brings out all the acoustic instrumentation of 'La Fin De Tout', into a nice topheavy atmospheric piece of music.
Tony is Tony Cesbon and he was a member of 'Collectif 17 Ans', with such bands as Atone. The six pieces here deal with the theme of travel, going places, starting with 'Depart', via 'Paris', 'Bordeaux', 'Angers' and 'De Nantes A Pornic' going to 'Autres Directions'. It was a physical travel, as Tony met various musicians in these cities and recorded with them. The music here goes out of the usual technoid directions of the label, and is more experimental. There is organ like sounds (but then of cheaper, electronic kind, not a church organ), guitars and other more obscured instruments. He collages these recordings together in a minimal fashion but piece like 'De Nantes A Pornic' sound like a bunch of sped up guitars, but sound in all it's minimal approach not engaging enough: it drags on too much. A rather lo-fi affair with loosely based ideas, which could work well as a soundtrack for film: there is a DVDr with films to these tracks, which I haven't seen. (FdW)
Address: http://www.autresdirections.net

 

 

corrections: The Aemae website has been mislisted as http://www.aemea.com. The correct address is: http://www.aemae.com