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VITAL WEEKLY
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number 511
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week 5
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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

 

JANEK SCHAEFER - MIGRATION (CD by Bip-hop) *
SAME ACTOR - SHARP EDGES (CD by Bip-hop) *
ZIMBABWE NKENYA & THE NEW JAZZ (CD by High Mayhem)
OUT OF CONTEXT - PLAYS "ONE INCH EQUALS 25MILES" BY SUMNER CARNAHAN (CD by High Mayhem) *
ENT - FUCK WORK (CD by Baskaru) *
AUDIOPIXEL - MEMENTO RUMORI (CD by Collectif Effervescence) *
AXIOMATIC INTEGRATION - OFF-TIME (CD by Fragmented Media) *
YANNICK DAUBY - TW04-05 (CD by Edition Ere)
EMERALD SUSPENSION - PLAYING THE MARKET (CD by Oscillation Productions)
PINK TWINS - PAINT IT PINK (CD by Pink Twins Media) *
PCRV - BIG SKY (CD by C.I.P.) *
JOE COLLEY - NO (7" by C.I.P.)
ANTHONY GUERRA - EMPTY KINGDOMS (miniCD by Black Petal)
AIDAN BAKER - PENDULUM (CDR by Gears Of Sand) *
FAGUS - DANS L'INVOLUCRE ENTRE OUVERT (CDR by A Question Of Re_Entry)
ASHER - GRACEFUL DEGRADATION (CDR by Con-V) *
MASSACCESI - NOTHING IS EVER AS IT USED TO BE (CDR by Woodoo/Scrotum) *
SEIJIRO MURAYAMA & MICHEAL NORTHAM - THEY STOOD AROUND AND WATCHED
(3"CDR by Universinternational Records)
YANNICK DAUBY - TROIS PHONOGRAPHIES DE PRESENCES ANIMALES EN MILIEU URBAIN (3"CDR by Universinternational Records)
AMBIENCES SONORES, ENREGISTREMENTS DOMESTIQUES & TOURISE AUDIO VOLUME TWO (3"CDR by Universinternational Records)
CAWA SORIX - FLEDERMAUS (3"CDR by Universinternational Records) *
HOWARD STELZER - THIS MAP IS A GIFT (CDR by Gameboy Records)
JOE PANZNER - POLISHED ROCKS (CDR by Gameboy Records) *
DEVILLOCK - COLD ROOM (CDR by Gameboy Records)
ENVENOMIST - DELVING GLACIAL (CDR by Gameboy Records)
CLON - SUDDEN IONOSPHERIC DISTURBANCES (CDR by Gameboy Records)
LEE PATTERSON/BENJAMIN GWILLIAM - COLLABORATIVE IMPOSITIONS (CDR by New Acoustical Pleasures)
K.M. KREBS - RIEN A VOIR 15 (online release by Con-v)
MINDLOBSTER - THE HARDEST WORKING HELMET IN SHOW BUSINESS (MP3 by After Dinner)

 

JANEK SCHAEFER - MIGRATION (CD by Bip-hop)
SAME ACTOR - SHARP EDGES (CD by Bip-hop)
Our beloved busy architect (and daddy now) is of course Janek Schaefer, who has released a whole catalogue of CDs and strange pieces of vinyl for such fine labels as Kraak, Mutek, Sirr, Staalplaat, Fat Cat and his own AudiOh! label, and some which I forgot. Here he makes his first appearance on Bip-hop. It contains a piece of music which acts as a soundtrack to a dance by Choreographer Noemie Lafrance. Dancers were attached by bungee cord so they could lean forward into open air and defy gravity - hovering above the audience. Much like the dancers above the audience, the music is inspired by birds, which migrate above us and culled from Schaefer's library of field recordings comes the sounds of Nairobi, Madrid, Perth, New York and Madrid - to mention a few. The piece, divided in four parts, starts out softly in the first two parts, with carefully processed field recordings, but with lots of small events happening. In the next two piece things start to work into a mighty crescendo of organ like sounds (thanks to Lourdes) and orchestral sounds in the final 'To New York to Eugenie to Perth'. Here is where things take off and starts flying around (including sounds of a helicopter). Quite a captivating piece of work here. Even without a dance it sounds great.
Of an entirely different order is the CD by Same Actor, aka Chris Cook from Brighton. Which is just one of his names. Hot Roddy is another, when he does 'breakbeat sitar abuse'. Cook also organizes concerts and has a radio-show. 'Made predominantly with guitar, sitar and dulcimer, processed into subtle music' - that is if you exclude the many rhythm sources used. Certainly at the beginning they are more than present and the stringed instruments seem to play a smaller role. But as the CD progresses they become clearer, such as the vaguely arabic 'Extreme Pumpkin' or the Micheal O'Shea like 'Hammer'. This makes this CD limping on two legs. One is the techno inspired rhythm pieces at the start, to purely guitar like pieces towards the end. And some of those are a bit too long, sounding a bit unstructured. That is a pity. A better selection would have certainly made the album shorter, but no doubt also a bit stronger. (FdW)
Address: http://www.bip-hop.com

ZIMBABWE NKENYA & THE NEW JAZZ (CD by High Mayhem)
Some great fresh jazz music from an unknown local talent. Zimbabwe Nkenya is a jazz-musician from St.Louis who settled down in New Mexico, and became an important force in the scene of new jazz music for about thirty years. He played with lots of musicians of international fame like William Parker, Charles Gayle, Julius Hemphill, and many more.
He is self-taught and plays upright bass, the african thumb piano (mbira) from time to time, plus more recently the violin. This is his first cd, bringing together live recordings from several occasions. On the one hand we find four solo excercises on bass (and violin?) by Zimbawe from a live performance at The Center for Contemporary Arts. Moving pieces that show his engaged playing and warm sound on the bass. In the other tracks we hear a quartet with Dave Wayne (percussion), Chris Jonas (soprano saxophone), Dan Pearlman (trumpet) plus special guest: Bob Brown (alto saxophone on track 8). Jonas does most of the solos. They are crystal clear and sparkle. The cd counts 10 compositions, all except one by Nkneya. They don't move into any extreme experimental areas within the jazz tradition. Nkenya operates more in the centre of what jazz music can sound like in these days. In most pieces like 'Ornience' the tasks are distributed in a traditional manner between rhythm section and solos by trumpet and saxophone. Concerning this piece, it's not only the title of this piece that refers to Ornette Coleman, but also the music. Other compositions are dedicated to Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton. All these points of reference show that Nkenya feels related to a diversity of the latest jazz giants. He knows his classics and with his music he adds his ideas to it, showing that the jazz tradition is still very much alive. Nice work! (DM)
Address: http://www.highmayhem.org/

OUT OF CONTEXT - PLAYS "ONE INCH EQUALS 25MILES" BY SUMNER CARNAHAN (CD by High Mayhem)
A favorite record of mine is 'Homeing' by Butch Morris. It is just one of his numerous cd's with his system of conducted improvisation but a very enjoyable one in my view. Orchestral sounds flow cohesively from one improvisation into another. J.A.Deane is one of the 12 players on this cd. With his ensemble Out of Context Deane develops his own version of conducted improvisation. No wonder Deane says thank you to Morris in the liner notes. And indeed there are similarities. Also Out of Context is a conducted improvisation where passages come and go in a flowing manner. Although the cd contains 11 pieces, they feel as one giant piece. Out of Context is: Jon Baldwin (cornet), C.K.Barlow (sampler, live sampling), Stefan Dill (oud, electronics), John Flax (acting, voice), Katie Harlow (cello), Sam Rhodes (bassoon), Molly Sturges (vocalist), Alicia Ultan (viola), Jefferson Voorhees (drums, percussion) and J.E.Deane (conductor, sampler, uniflute). They interpret a project that is the result of a two year collaboration between Deane and writer Sumner Carnahan who worked with different composers for the last twenty years to present her stories. Don't be afraid for a narrator reading continuously a story with illustrative music in the background. This is happily not the case. The story and the music are interconnected on a deeper musical level. The final piece for instance "consists of every word contained in Carnahan's book, squeezed into a mellifluously layered, post-nuclear, Joycean cacophony cabled together from thirty-eight recordings of individual readers and a motley Tragic Greek Chorus." It's the music itself that tells the story. In the first part we hear Sam Rhodes on bassoon in a slowly meandering meditation, with violin and other instruments in the back. Further on the music reaches from time to time a climax, in order seek to take up it's way in a more calm way. Then its the oud of Dill that's is on the forefront, at other moments the cornet of Baldwin or the voices of Molly Sturgess and John Flax. But throughout the other musicians are constantly in the neighborhood and taking part. Its only the samples of Deane that are around more or less without a pause. All in all this cd is a very concentrated journey offering very different views and experiences. (DM)
Address: http://www.highmayhem.org/

ENT - FUCK WORK (CD by Baskaru)
Michele Scariot and Emanuele Bortoluzzi formed ENT in 2000 and 'Fuck Work' is their first full length release, following some stuff for compilations and MP3. If I understood correctly the material on this album was made in studio, then 'deconstructed' live during live improvised sets and then reconstructed in the studio, 'keeping only the elements deemed crucial'. ENT uses a variety of 'real' instruments and electronica to work in a variety of styles: from improvisation to post-rock to noise and onkyo. A nice bunch of styles of course, and they appear throughout in one piece. What starts out as an improvisational rock piece may end as a noisy turntable piece, cross-fading into a sort of mellow ambient techno piece (talking about 'Eternal Plans' and 'Milk Oblo' here). You could wonder if this isn't a bit too much to take in, but oh wonder, it does make sense altogether. It's a headtrip, this music, taking the listener on a long journey through music land, with tasty bits here and there, and then quickly moving to another yummy field of exotic music. Not always the most surprising ones, but it's like cooking: throw some herbs and spices and something ordinary starts to taste wonderful. This music is a like. By itself nothing special, but in this eclectic blender, it comes a live. (FdW)
Address: http://www.baskaru.com

AUDIOPIXEL - MEMENTO RUMORI (CD by Collectif Effervescence)
Miguel Constantino is a sound engineer who worked at CCMIX, the centre de Creation Musicale Iannis Xenakis, and now busy putting together his own studio. Armed with an electric guitar, a mixer, two sampler pedals he wanted to create something to a laptop, without using one. You could wonder why you want to do that, but the results are nine short sketch like pieces, which are expanded beyond the set-up mentioned above. There is the addition of bas, piano, violin, drums and female voices. It drags the album more into the area where post-rock meets glitch music. Just how this set-up work, is quite unclear, but the results are pretty much ok. Very much along the lines of Belong (see last week's issue), this is somewhat more extended version of it, especially with those tracks that use more instruments than just the guitar, just in the closing piece 'Natas'. Here is where things work best for this CD: it gives a richer idea of what the music can do, but it moves beyond the original idea of the composer. I don't mind, since it makes this into a more balanced CD. Short but nice. (FdW)
Address: http://www.collectif-effervescence.com

AXIOMATIC INTEGRATION - OFF-TIME (CD by Fragmented Media)
Maybe the name Incite rings a few bells? Besides being a duo, they also do solo projects and put up concerts in Hamburg. And they run a label, Fragmented Media. The Incite 7" (Vital Weekly 456) was the first release, and now comes the full length CD by Axiomatic Integration, aka Kera Negal, one half of Incite. She released a CDR before, 'Syntonic' (see Vital Weekly 439), based on her video-performance. The music of Incite and Axiomatic Integration are closely related, as they both deal with highly minimalist music, of rhythmic sounds generated entirely in the digital world. Axiomatic Integration's work is a bit abstracter than the more formal based rhythmic structures of Incite. Sometimes she uses time-stretched fragmented of an electro-acoustic origin. But throughout the six pieces here things remain pretty similar in terms of sound design and sound processing. That is a pity, since it could also lead to something entirely different, me thinks. However the enclosed quick-time movie is great. Here music and images go together well, lots of red and yellow (and later blue) images, moving along the music, and changing as the music changes. Of course highly abstract, although the first few seconds may give away what the source is, which is great. Maybe next time a full length DVD? (FdW)
Address: http://www.fragmentedmedia.org

YANNICK DAUBY - TW04-05 (CD by Edition Ere)
More Yannick Dauby (see also below), here entirely with a disc filled with field recordings made in Taiwan in 2004 and 2005. It seems that his interest has shifted from a combination of field recordings and hand-produced, close miked sounds, towards pure field recordings. This disc contains pieces recorded in Taiwan's nature, daily-life. Both from animals and humans. The metro, the backyard, children talking but also some urban activities that are hard to pin down. Some of these recordings are quite nice, but overall I must admit I have some trouble with this. The thirty-something tracks are short pieces, they are all related to Taiwan obviously, but they somehow don't seem to be telling a story. It's merely a fine collection of recordings of all sorts of activities going on in Taiwan, but not the artists interpretation of the country by means of sound. As such it's possible that people can like this, but they could as-well any sort of recording of activities around the world, either by animals and humans. This sort of pure field recording is a bit too pure for me. (FdW)
Address: http://www.editions-ere.net

EMERALD SUSPENSION - PLAYING THE MARKET (CD by Oscillation Productions)
Of course, over the years many weird things have landed on this desk, strange concepts, strange music and strange packaging. 'Playing The Market' is only (!) strange by concept, but it leads to some weird music too. Which market is played, you wonder? Of course, the stock market. Not that Emereld Suspension (about whom we have very little information) went into the stock exchange and made some field recordings and collage them together in a sort of Tape-beatles manner. He uses for instance 'the pattern of interest rates as represented by the historical yields of 30-year Treasury bonds' to make a solo for strings. Or 'The Misery Index': 'an experimental recording based on the historical patterns of inflation and unemployment'. These patterns give values and somehow, somewhere they are transposed to notes. It's a bit like John Cage using star maps to make scores. Sometimes the music is modern classical, with piano and violins, but at times the work is almost electro-acoustic, such as the use of an antique ticker tape machine in 'Irrational Exuberance/Great Depression'. The aforementioned Tape-beatles lurk around the corner in 'Bulls And Bears Of The World'. Much of this work is generated through the use of midi controllers, and simulating orchestral instruments, but throughout it's a pretty varied work, keeping a fine balance between the semi (or should that be quasi?) orchestral pieces, a bit of sound collage and electro-acoustic music, all powered by this strange concept of whatever facts and figures the stock market has brought us. A most curious mixture. (FdW)
Address: http://www.emeraldsuspension.com

PINK TWINS - PAINT IT PINK (CD by Pink Twins Media)
Although active since 1997, I never heard of Pink Twins, aka the brothers (twins?) Juha and Vesa Vehvilainen from Helsinki, Finland. They call their music 'freeform computer music' and in 2005 they toured the world: from the Venice Biennale to several Central European countries and Serbia (isn't that also Central Europe?) and China. Two shows captured on the road, in Tampere (that is around the corner in Finland) and Belgrade, are now released on CD. In total over seventy-five minutes of 'freeform computer music' - a bit too freeform if you ask me. Right from the start, until the very end, the computer are choking up all the noise they can find, either through plug ins, samples or outboard processing, but in a very freeform collage like manner. Sometimes they miss out on structure and things don't seem to go anywhere, but at other times things stick into a groove, pinned down to feedback ('Pink Haze' one of the tracks is called, so perhaps they love their Hendrix records?) and things are alright. A very disorganized Merzbowian blast at it's very best, but way too long to capture one attention throughout. One track would have made the same point with the same clarity. Nice cover though, without much pink! (FdW)
Address: http://www.pinktwins.com

PCRV - BIG SKY (CD by C.I.P.)
JOE COLLEY - NO (7" by C.I.P.)
Despite his twenty-some CDR and cassette releases, I never heard of PCRV, aka Matt Taggert from the remote state of Montana. They have long, cold winters and a strong 'do things on your own' attitude. Taggart has played many shows, and came across C.I.P. when he was in Chicago. 'Big Sky' is his first real CD. Taggart is a noise artist, that is: most of the time. When he strikes, he strikes hard, in the best Merzbowian tradition. Feeding his sound through what he calls his 'pedal setup', (which he constantly changes, to get different results), he comes, as far as I'm concerned too close the King of Japan. However sometimes he plays around with drone related music in a noise context and this is much more interesting. A piece like 'Modulation Sickness' for instance has high-end feedback like sounds and a similar modulating pulse. These pieces are much more interesting, since they really display something that is not so overtly nicked from somebody else. Maybe an area to expand into in the not so distant future?
Joe Colley of course is one of the USA unsung heroes of sound and noise. This one-sided 7" contains the sound of an installation piece: 'No - Intermittent Positive Negation In Two Syllables'. Two reel to reel machines have tape-loops that go out of the machines, along bolts and spell the letter 'n' and the letter 'o' on the wall (the cover looks great). The loops contain the pronunciation of these syllables. Sometimes we hear the word 'no' spelled out, and sometimes it seems just non-sense. A great conceptual work of this negative man. Probably it was great to see, but as a record by itself, it also sounds great. (FdW)
Address: http://www.cipsite.net

ANTHONY GUERRA - EMPTY KINGDOMS (miniCD by Black Petal)
The name Anthony Guerra popped up in these pages as a guitar player from the London improvisation scene, where he did work with Joel Stern, Micheal Rodgers (as Broken Hands) and others. His releases are on such labels as Absurd, Pseudo Arcana, Impermanent and his own Twothousandand label. Originally Guerra is from Australia, but he now lives in Tokyo. This new solo release moves into a different territory: that of a singer-songwriter, although the singing is restricted to the last piece. It's utter desolate music, written, as Guerra says, during 'various fits of depression'. Strumming his guitar, lonely, this still has traces of improvisation, but it moves outside. The influence of Loren MazzaCane Connors is never far away in this lonely blues, or that of Richard Youngs when it comes to his singing. Occasionally there are some percussive sounds or a slide guitar, but other that it's music of despair, grief and perhaps hope. It's great stuff, in all it's sadness. (FdW)
Address: http://www.blackpetal.com

AIDAN BAKER - PENDULUM (CDR by Gears Of Sand)
Ah the busy bee Aidan Baker. Release number...? I lost count. 'All sounds produced by electric guitar recorded in a single take then doubled and the double reversed', it reads somewhat cryptical on the cover. Not that it really matters, since Baker does here whatever he does best: creating thoughtful, improvised atmospheric music. Not as great as the recent one, released by Crucial Bliss, but the five lengthy pieces display enough variations in the various darker corners of the sound spectrum. The continous moving forward and backward of sound (hence the title), the rumble of percussive like elements and the constant feeding of the sounds through various sound effects makes this into a fine, yet not always surprising, release. Baker by now has settled himself as a main player of this kind of adventurous ambient music, so perhaps it's time to look forward and change the menu a bit? (FdW)
Address: http://www.gearsofsand.net

FAGUS - DANS L'INVOLUCRE ENTRE OUVERT (CDR by A Question Of Re_Entry)
On a new Greek label, A Question Of Re_entry, comes a duo improvisation CDR by Ferran Fages, who plays an acoustic turntable and Pascal Battus, who plays acoustic walkman. I can imagine what the first is, but the second? Fages has made name for himself as part of the lively Portuguese improvisation scene, and Battus is a new name for me. Despite their two 'acoustic' instruments, this is not really 'improvisation unplugged' and if it is, they know very well how to play around with all sorts of hand-cranked manipulation of their objects to make high piercing sounds, like the fingers on the school-board, which you didn't like at school. But here it sounds fascinating. We don't recognize any sound from either vinyl or tape, but an highly noise related set of sounds, playing at times softly and at other times quite loud and abrasive, but always with full on intention and attention. A highly improvised disc of highly unusual sounds and something that moves out of the onkyo styled improvisation and certainly creates something of it's own. (FdW)
Address: <aquestionofreentry@yahoo.com>

ASHER - GRACEFUL DEGRADATION (CDR by Con-V)
Following his MP3 release for the same label (see Vital Weekly 503), Asher now comes with a CDR release. An old piano, some old cassettes and an old tape-recorder: these are the ingredients used by Asher Thal-nir on his new release 'Graceful Degradation'. The piano is recorded onto these ancient cassettes (which used to hold music by Led Zepplin and The Police), but have been re-recorded some many tapes that the magnetic does no longer the information in a proper way. Asher sampled various portions of these degraded sounds and places them in a new context. Sounds are looped, but they are very long loops. Very slow music of majestically strumming chords, with the hiss and static slightly emphasized. Asher listened carefully to the work of William Basinski (of course this is an assumption), as it bears the similar qualities and notions: that of sounds slowly decaying, but just in time they are preserved by storing them on CD - well saved for another limited time of course. When in a few years CDRs start to fall apart, the no doubt fascinating journey of the piano, old cassettes and an old CDR can start again. A fine example of micro ambient sound. (FdW)
Address: http://www.con-v.org

MASSACCESI - NOTHING IS EVER AS IT USED TO BE (CDR by Woodoo/Scrotum)
It's been a long time since I reviewed 'I Never Fall Apart Because I Never Fall Together' by Massaccesi (Vital Weekly 345). Although still traveling around the world, playing his audio mayhem on stage, he now moved from the USA to Berlin, where it all apparently is happening. His new release deals with the refugees of the world. With the handmade edition of this release, one get a small paper tent to assemble yourself and send a picture of your micro-refugee camp. A highly political release. I suggest reading the liner notes to each track on the website! Massaccesi plays a high energy punk version of plunder-phonics. Nothing can be easily recognized or traced back to the original source, since it's all in this ultra fast blender of sound. Massaccesi uses the computer (or sampler) to cook up all of these sounds together and throws them around, like garbage at a refugee camp. It's certainly not easy music, since there is no catchy rhythm keeping the material together, which is then perhaps also the problem of the music (if we take the liberty of just looking at the music): it's all a bit too much. It goes on and on in this high energy mode and some fatigue leaps in. Which is kind of sad, since Massaccesi certainly has a good point, but perhaps that point is missed here in the information overload. But play bits and pieces and things do make sense. Noise of an entirely different nature, and that is something worthwhile. (FdW)
Address: http://www.massaccesi.com

SEIJIRO MURAYAMA & MICHEAL NORTHAM - THEY STOOD AROUND AND WATCHED
(3"CDR by Universinternational Records)
YANNICK DAUBY - TROIS PHONOGRAPHIES DE PRESENCES ANIMALES EN MILIEU URBAIN (3"CDR by Universinternational Records)
AMBIENCES SONORES, ENREGISTREMENTS DOMESTIQUES & TOURISE AUDIO VOLUME TWO (3"CDR by Universinternational Records)
CAWA SORIX - FLEDERMAUS (3"CDR by Universinternational Records)
Universinternational Records is a small, idealistic label from France. Their releases are to be found as MP3s, but can also be bought for a small sum, almost cost-price. They have some mighty interesting people attached to their label, such as Micheal Northam who teams up with one Seijiro Murayama, who is a drummer. They play a thirteen minute duet of drums and whatever it is that Northam is doing: most likely he is playing small objects and some kind of sound-processing. Although the recording is intimate, focussing on small sounds, it is quite an intense work with sound. Very silent, but very powerful. A strong kick-off.
Yannick Dauby (see also above) also may need no introduction, as he released a couple of interesting works in the field of drone music. His music goes into the areas of close miking: place microphones closely to objects making sound, layers them into a dense field, hence creating drone music. Here however he has three field recordings to offer, from Nice, Taipei and Tours. With each track he indicates the month and time of day when they were recorded. It deals with animals in city environments. Things go into strict soundscaping here, without much adding or editing. The animals are hard to recognize, but perhaps I'm not a zoological mind. Dauby captured some nice 'events', but it would have been nicer if there was a little bit more going on.
Something similar, yet different can be heard on the compilation CDR with the long name. Thirty-one tracks here recorded by a whole bunch of people in a whole bunch of countries and continents (South Africa, France, India, Ireland, Japan, Laos, Switzerland and Vietnam). Short pieces of animal sounds, city sounds and forest environments. This is, in all it's shortness, quite a nice release, with sounds that are to be recognized, as-well as some obscured ones. Great stuff for the very adventurous DJs.
The last one is by one Cawa Sorix, whoever he or she is. It's a release that goes into an entirely different field, that of voice/spoken word/sound poetry. Feeding his (I do believe it's a man) voice through various effects (the cover mentions two microcassettes, but maybe there is more?), this gives an overall raw effect to the poetry, which is at times more music than text, which is nice. The combination of voice and text works, in all it's raw and lo-fi manner, rather well. Even so different than the other releases, quite a nice surprise. (FdW)
Address: http://www.ui.universinternational.org

HOWARD STELZER - THIS MAP IS A GIFT (CDR by Gameboy Records)
JOE PANZNER - POLISHED ROCKS (CDR by Gameboy Records)
DEVILLOCK - COLD ROOM (CDR by Gameboy Records)
ENVENOMIST - DELVING GLACIAL (CDR by Gameboy Records)
CLON - SUDDEN IONOSPHERIC DISTURBANCES (CDR by Gameboy Records)
Things had been quiet for Gameboy Records for a while, but the offices have moved from Columbus, Ohio to Japan. These five new releases are the first in a long time. They all look similar, but I'm not sure if that's part of the new Gameboy esthetic, or that they are linked together in the form of some series. Upon hearing all five of them, this might the case, since there are strong similarities in sound approach by all five artists. Howard Stelzer, reviewed here last week with his duo CD with Giuseppe Ielasi, offers one piece of almost forty minutes of his cassette music. Just like a turntablist, he plays around with cassettes. Using the fast-forward button, but also by placing the cassette players on metal plates, he creates a world of his own. But he works best when playing improvised music with others. As this is one piece, recorded '2004/2005', I assume it's a collage of various recordings, including pieces he played with Richard Francis (laptop), Stefan Neville (drums and tapes) and Clinton Watkins (guitar). Stelzer creates thick, densely sound fields of highly obscured sounds. Rather lo-fi in approach, but it's an intense sound, one that has many detailed sounds that work together on many levels. It's hard to categorize this as noise (although it has elements thereof), improvisation (but it's certainly more composed by collating the various elements together) or as drone music, even when it has a certain drone like quality. As references to the latter, one could think of people that use close miking, such as Af Ursin, Yannick Dauby or Micheal Northam. Played loud, this is certainly an intense affair, growing into a menacing affair.
Recorded in the same years, is 'Polished Rocks' by Joe Panzner, one half of Scenic Railroads (which is a duo with Mike Shiflet, the big Gameboy). Panzner works with entirely with a laptop, processing field recordings and guitars. Just like Stelzer he has collected a whole bunch of recordings from various places ('at home and abroad') and collages them together into two long pieces. All of the original sources are obscured here, not to be recognized again. Using 'max/msp, lloopp, delay pedals, hacked vst, ancient editing software' and all sorts of other stuff, such as 'semi-stable contact mics', he crafts likewise densely layered music together. Maybe it's the digital character of the music, but it seems to me that he sounds leaves more room for the details in the music. Other than Stelzer he chooses to set the sounds more separate from eachother. Noise related elements play a bigger role here, at times creating a fiery thunderous storm of sounds melting down. Also intense, but not as concentrated as the release by Howard Stelzer, and some more editing would have been in place.
The release by Devillock is the shortest among these five. Devillock, as we learned before from his release 'These Graves', is Justin Chris Meyers on organ, tapes and electronics (see Vital Weekly 494). His piece 'Cold Room' last twenty-two minutes and sees a continuation of his previous work: slowing down reel-to-reel tapes, processing the sound through various effect processors and some organ like sounds. Quite a lo-fi sound here again, but it works well, in all it's slow and menacing approach. Again a dense sound, but not as collated together as the previous two releases, but in a much more minimal way. Again it's not really playing the noise card as such, but it has strong qualities of dark, heavy and atmospheric sounds. A very fine example of what noise can be, or perhaps, should be.
Behind Envenomist is one David Reed, whom we know from his Luasa Raelon project, who released a CD on Pac Rec before (just like Devillock, see Vital Weekly 445). The music as Envenomist is something different. Not very industrial as Luasa Raelon, but rather a darker, machine like heavy type of ambient noise. The dark bat-in-a-cave sound reminded me of some of the Lustmord, area 'Heresy'. Heavy reverbed wall of guitar sound, but Envenomist is a bit more raw and a bit more down to earth. Here too everything is densely put together, but mainly through the use of sound effects. However it's a fairly normal disc of dark ambient industrial music, along the lines of the aforementioned Lustmord. Nice but not great.
The final new release is by Clon, which is a new nom-de-plume for Jorge Castro. I am not exactly sure, why he choose a new name, since 'Sudden Ionospheric Disturbances' sounds not unlike some of his previous work. He uses field recordings (or, who knows, air recordings from the Ionosphere?), which is samples in the lowest form possible (1K?) and then starts fiddling about with them, attacking the material with the sound effects, such as reverb and echo, and creates another passage of densely layered ambient industrial - see where the idea of a series comes from? - release. Clon is the most raw diamond of this lot, the least complicated and perhaps the most noisy one. It's certainly one that fits the work of Castro so far quite well. (FdW)
Address: http://www.gmby.net

LEE PATTERSON/BENJAMIN GWILLIAM - COLLABORATIVE IMPOSITIONS (CDR by New Acoustical Pleasures)
It's been a while since the review of 'Heat Works' a neat 3"CD by Benjamin GWilliam and Lee Patterson (see Vital Weekly 335). That work dealt with the conceptual nature of sound and light bulbs. This new release is something else. Over the last few years the two have been improvising with computers and small acoustic sounds, both on stage as-well as in the studio. This release contains one live cut and two studio pieces. It's certainly a more musical excursion here than before - although surely some people wouldn't agree. The two play microsounds on their laptops and carefully scratch the surface, slowly putting things into a crescendo, a drone or lower bass sounds. They perform their work with great care of detail, not disturbing the moment. In terms of whatever else there is around in the world of microsound, this might not be the most surprising work, but it's certainly a break away from the pure laptop pieces that many of laptop-posse have and a fine combination with live electro-acoustics. (FdW)
Address: <billabollocks@hotmail.com>

K.M. KREBS - RIEN A VOIR 15 (online release by Con-v)
Last December I visited an exhibition in Antwerp, which centered around contemporary art from Vancouver. Weird, weird stuff! A bit moody, without any relativism. KM Krebs is from Vancouver and, yes, his music might be in that same vein. It is very serious business. Although his music ranges from rhythmic hip stuff to complex soundscapes based on radio waves, it all is very serious. He also produces music as 833-45, by the way.
Con-v releases two compositions which are, to me, the closest to classical electro-acoustic music that Krebs has ever gotten. Absolutely Ignorant is a rework from a composition that was earlier featured on "the halberd of chemistry", released by Fukk God in 2003. The original is 4:47, the new version lasts 10:08 minutes. The work is a constant swaying between electronic soundlayers and acoustic recording. The alternations are joined by sudden crashes or through the morphing of one into the other. As Red As Rubies, the second composition focuses on the granularity of sounds and Krebs plays with the spaciality of layers. Two very strong compositions, very much in the tradition of Montréal's Empreintes Digitales. I think Krebs deserves a place in that catalogue, quite soon. This is really his biggest achievement to date. Listen! (JS)
Address: http://www.con-v.org/conv.htm

MINDLOBSTER - THE HARDEST WORKING HELMET IN SHOW BUSINESS (MP3 by After Dinner)
Another release by London's Mindlobster, this time as a free download. Four longer tracks this time, but still of a more 'pop' oriented nature. More uptempo, with computerized melodies and a somewhat bigger touch of techno music. Without being retro in terms of electro music, Mindlobster uses modern techniques to play electro tunes of the early eighties and they do a fine job at that. Before I mentioned influences of early Portion Control and the pre-Human League The Future, but now I'd like to add that this would not look strange on such a fine label as Suction Records, who specialize in this kind of music, or alongside of My Robot Friend. Finally some electronic music from the UK in these pages that do not fall in the category of melancholic electronic music. (FdW)
Address: http://www.after-dinner.net


 

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