Vital Weekly, the webcast: we offering a
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with excerpts of just some of the CDs (no vinyl or MP3) reviewed.
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* noted are in this week's podcast
PLEASE DON'T IGNORE READING THIS: SINCE WE ANNOUNCED WE WILL NO LONGER REVIEW MATERIAL OLDER THAN SIX MONTHS, MORE AND MORE PEOPLE SEND US OLDER MATERIAL THAN SIX MONTHS. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY. WE WILL NOT REVIEW IT, BUT SELL THE MATERIAL TO A SECOND MAILORDER OUTLET. ALSO: DON'T SEND MORE THAN 3 (THREE) RELEASES AT ONCE. WE SIMPLY CAN'T HANDLE EVERYTHING ANYMORE. SAVE YOUR FRUSTRATION - WELL, AND OURS.
LESBIANS ON ECSTACY - WE KNOW YOU KNOW (CD
by Alien8 Recordings) *
THE FIELDS OF HAY - SONGS FOR NINE LADIES (CD by Fourth Dimension) *
FUNCTION - THE SECRET MIRACLE FOUNTAIN (CD by Locust Music) *
ILLPHABETIK COM.PILL - (Compilation CD by Illphabetik)
DEAD LETTERS SPELL OUT DEAD WORDS - FALL, FALL, FALLING (CD by Kalligrammofon)
PAULINE OLIVEROS - ACCORDEON AND VOICE (CD by Important Records)
PAULINE OLIVEROS - THE WANDERER (CD by Important Records) *
MOTH SPY EROS - SUENO ROJO (CD by Lunatic Works)
LISA PAPINEAU - NIGHT MOVES (CD by Lunatic Works)
SCOTT TINKLER - BACKWARDS (CD by Extreme) *
HANNES ENZLBERGER - MY DEAR FERENC! (CD by Extraplatte) *
ALEXANDRE ST-ONGE - MON ANIMAL EST POSSIBLE (CD by Alien8 Recordings) *
ADAM FRANK & SAM SHALABI - OVERPASS! A MELODRAMA (CD by Alien8 Recordings)
AMP - ALL OF YESTERDAY TOMORROW (3CD by RROOPP) *
THE HAFLER TRIO - WHO GAVE YOU THE ABILITY TO ENVISAGE PERFECTION? (7" by Plinkity Plonk)
ROBERT WITT - SSRI (CDR by Esc Rec) *
STEVEN VINKENOOG - STATION #1 (CDR, private) *
TORSTEIN WJIIK/CADMIUM DUNKEL - VICTIMS OF RELIGION (CDR by Ambolthue)
TORSTEIN WJIIK - WAR (CDR by Ambolthue)
BJERGA/IVERSEN/MADAME P (CDR by Ambolthue) *
VESTIGIAL - AEON (Self-produced 3"-CD-R)
VERTONEN - NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST (3" CDR by Banned Production) *
HAL MCGEE - THE MAN WITH THE TAPE RECORDER (MP3 or CDR)
ALEXEI BORISOV - LIVE IN KALININGRAD (MP3 by AudioTong)
EMITER.ARSZYN - TRESYMESY (MP3 by AudioTong)
LESBIANS ON ECSTACY - WE KNOW YOU KNOW (CD
by Alien8 Recordings)
It only seems a short while ago that I reviewed the self-titled debut by Lesbians On Ecstasy, which had covers of other lesbian artists. The new album continues this line of interest, except that their interest has now moved to women's music from the 70s, which was released on small, independent labels, such as Olivia Records. Just like before, Lesbians On Ecstasy don't play cover, but they take themes and lyrics to create their own songs. Don't except long haired, Joni Mitchell type of songs on this new release, and here too there is a sense of continuation with the previous release. Stomping rhythms, forceful keyboards, sharp guitar lines and of course plenty of vocals. Their music owes more to seventies loud rock and disco than to acoustic guitar. Highly political with strong points about feminism and lesbian life style, but it's hardly a problem enjoying the music for me (male, hetero) or it's lyrical content. It's pretty strong popmusic. These women are proud to be lesbians and they love to show it. Their band photo on the inside of the cover is simply great (and a great rarity in Vital Weekly). (FdW)
THE FIELDS OF HAY - SONGS FOR NINE LADIES
(CD by Fourth Dimension)
You may have never heard of The Fields Of Hay, or even of Stuart Carter, the man behind it, but he's been part of some of the finer bands in the UK alternative guitar rock bands such as Splintered, Heroin and Theme, and then things might fall into place. 'Songs For Nine Ladies' is his first solo album, although he receives help from people like Sonic Boom, Richo (label boss) and Lukasz Szalankiewicz (of Zenial). The first time I played this CD, I was a bit annoyed: the five pieces, in the range of six to twelve minutes, sounded like a freak out on guitars and synthesizers. A bit drone like, some field recordings, some guitar doodling and none of the tracks did seem to go anywhere. A freeform friendly muzak. A bit ambient, a bit dramatic. Upon further hearing some of the pieces turned out to be a bit more angular, but the overall smoothness is a bit too slick for me. What is that Carter wants with these songs? Set a comforting tone? Update muzak? Or is he more genuine in his approach, and I am entirely missing a point here? Because of his background I tend to give The Fields Of Hay the benefit of doubt and further await his development. (FdW)
FUNCTION - THE SECRET MIRACLE FOUNTAIN (CD
by Locust Music)
Everything about Function's CD is massive: it's length of seventy-seven minutes, recorded in ten different countries over a three and half year period and with over thirty musicians contributing. The main man however is Matt Nicholson from Australia, who wrote the material. Among the instruments we recognize piano, cello, viola, slide guitar, trumpets, vocals, field recordings, flutes, harp - well you name it. You could dismiss this album as another post rock album, albeit with vocals, but I don't think that entirely justifies this. The big band, orchestral approach - of course not all thirty-some musicians play at the same time - in combination with electronics and field recordings, works quite well. Sometimes it tends towards post rock, sometimes seventies progressive rock and sometimes to ambient music. It's collated together at times with strange breaks and movements - most likely due to the use of different studios - but quite curious it's never a problem. An album, despite all things rock, that is made in the studio, rather than that of a band playing a solid tune or tune. Spliced together from all sorts of sources, with the addition of outside ones, such as field recordings, this album is not as 'outsider' for Vital Weekly as initially thought. Forty years of experimenting with rock music, say starting with Phil Spector, The Beatles and everything else after that didn't go unnoticed for Function. It's a remarkable CD, one that is simply very good. Although nothing is really simple on this CD. (FdW)
ILLPHABETIK COM.PILL - (Compilation CD by
American music avantgardist and theorist, Henry Cowell (1897-1965), claimed that rhythms are the noise of music. If anyone should question this theory, take a listen to this first compilation from Danish label Illphabetik. With only a short "Intro" from Bulletdodgers (including the sample of an American woman fussing about half the city listening to jungle music), there is hardly any time to prepare for the first assault of rhythmic mayhem from Danish artist Lisbent with the track "Gettet durch". Established in 2003, Illphabetik is an Internet-label, with an impressive number of mp3-releases, musically operating in a wide variety of electronic styles including Breakcore, IDM, Drum & Bass, Ambient, Hardcore, Electro, Glitch and Minimal. The weight on this compilation though, is put on harsh expressions of breakcore, hardcore gabber techno and sonic aggressions in general, quite often sucked into club-technoid atmospheres. From the distorted power noise track, "Subliminal bass" by Rawclaw across the dark and threatening drone-ambience from Roger 5 to the claustrophobic mix of house techno, bigbeat and harsh noise on Lisbent's "Spasmobotics". It soon comes clear that these artists know what they are dealing with. Other gems come from Meconium with his tracks "(K)illdick" and "Damn this blockhead". The blend of fast breakbeats, 303-Acid synthlines is quite remarkable here. Also Nais' filthy ode to Depeche Mode's track "Personal jesus", the track titled "Personal faeces", is far beyond your average breakbeat-track. Towards the end, comes a great ambient-oriented IDM-track titled "Asaru 5" launched by Leigon. Closing track is the funky track titled "The funk is much better" from Lisbent. Combining kitschy electronic sounds first of all reminiscent of early slot-machine Arcade games, strange samples of voices and 60's one-hit-wonders with ultra-heavy pounding distorted beats thrashed into the listener with maximum velocity, the track from Lisbent serves as a very intense closer to this hyperactive debut-CD-compilation from Illphabetik. All mp3-releases from Illphabetik can be downloaded for free, including playlists and cover-arts. Check out their web site. And check out this excellent debut-sampler - it is a great introduction to the label! (NM)
DEAD LETTERS SPELL OUT DEAD WORDS - FALL,
FALL, FALLING (CD by Kalligrammofon)
Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words should be a familiar name to Vital readers. Fall, Fall, Falling is Thomas Ekelund, the flesh behind the DLSODW moniker, which also stands for concrete drone pop. And on this his third full length CD the emphasis is on pop. Shoegazer fans will find much here to rejoice in: hyper-saturated drone melodies with drum thuds drowning in the morass of digitally generated fuzz heaven bound. Dark ambient followers will find the bleakness a source of warmth. The pop tracks are balanced by the trademarked Dead Letters sound of inhuman scratchings of lost love gasping for air in decaying urban landscapes. Binary guitars sleep with micro cassette phonography and the after birth is Fall, Fall, Falling. Already this is one of my favorite albums of the year, a perfect mix of pop and decay.
Address: http://www.kalligrammofon.com (JS)
PAULINE OLIVEROS - ACCORDEON AND VOICE (CD
by Important Records)
PAULINE OLIVEROS - THE WANDERER (CD by Important Records)
The accordion is an instrument not often connected to modern music and female composers in the avant-garde field are unfortunately scarce. Luckily Pauline Oliveros combines these two oddities with astonishing results. As one of the original members of the legendary San Francisco Tape Music Centre, Oliveros has become the godmother, if you like, of electronic music. Important records (if there ever was an appropriate name for a label, then this is it) have taken it upon them to re-release some of Oliveros' work. Accordion And Voice is one of those titles that cover the contents completely. The two long tracks on this album, Horse Sings
From Cloud (her most famous composition dating
back to 1975) and Rattlesnake Mountain, are reminiscent of the mantra-like work of La Monte Young, with long sustaining tones on the accordion supplemented by Oliveros singing. Perhaps a slightly long listen to the casual buyers, electronic music lovers will lap this up. The Wanderer features a second (live) version of Horse Sings From Cloud, this time performed by an accordion quartet. This version is more experimental than the one on Accordion And Voice. Duo For Accordion And Bandoneon is just that, whereas the title track was recorded with The Springfield Accordion Orchestra (featuring no less than 22 accordions and 5 percussionist). The more experimental and diverse nature of The Wanderer makes this the more varied listen of the two CD's. Both recorded in 1983, this is the first time these pieces have been made available on the CD format. Adventurous music for an unusual instrument. Important music indeed. (FK)
MOTH SPY EROS - SUENO ROJO (CD by Lunatic
I do not know anything about this trio. As for the music on this album however, I can say that it is a bit of a departure from the stuff Lunatic Works usually releases, which is psychedelic, downtempo electronic music. Sueno Rojo is an album of slow tempos, atmosphere, whispered vocals and minimal but evident rhythms in every song, all of which lends itself to a vague and dreamlike quality that is not unpleasant per say, but really difficult to find a point in any of it, which might be the point itself giving that dreams to a great degree are vague and pointless and most of the time quickly forgotten. (Craig N.)
LISA PAPINEAU - NIGHT MOVES (CD by Lunatic
This album would be right at home on the play list of a college radio station or on public radio with an adult alternative music format. A lady named Lisa Papineau ably handles the vocals. I do not know much about her except that she has lent her vocal abilities to a couple of tracks by the French electronic music duo, Air and has done other work with various musicians. Overall this album in my opinion was under whelming (the vocals aside) and had me wishing that Lunatic Works would just keep to their niche market releases of psychedelic down tempo electronic music that challenges rather than releasing this style of tame, vocal based electronic music. (Craig N.)
SCOTT TINKLER - BACKWARDS (CD by Extreme)
A tour-de-force by australian trumpeter Scott Tinkler. On request by Extreme Records, Tinkler took up the challenge to record a solo album of improvised music for trumpet.
Tinkler has a history of playing with numerous ensembles in Australia over the last twenty years, like The Australian Art Orchestra, The Paul Grabowsky Quintet and The Dale Barlow Quintet. More fame he gained with his own Scott Tinkler Quartet and Trio. Since 1997 Tinkler is traveling the world and playing everywhere. Based on his experience with performing solo, he decided that the CD for Extreme should contain music that he could play live as well. So you hear no overdubs, etc. on this disc. Everything was recorded during a four hour stay at a studio. "The most important aspect for me was to go into the studio with no preconceived notion as to what the outcome might be, this way I could enjoy whatever happened", explains Tinkler, who didn't record a solo-cd before. The result is an incredible cd of a brilliant trumpet-player with seemingly unlimited technical capabilities. Happily Tinkler does not lose himself into meaningless acrobatics. He is also gifted with a musical vision that makes him crossing many borders and breaking down boundaries. With great ease and 'souplesse' Tinkler tells his story. His extended techniques imply the use of other musical instruments as well. These range from a piano, a bass drum, a cymbal to a bucket of water. This way Tinkler brings about interesting resonating effects like in the piece 'Let'. Tinkler spreads about an incredible power through his expressive playing. 'Backwards' truly is a very rich cd, that proves again that free improvised music is still very much alive. Never a dull moment! (DM)
HANNES ENZLBERGER - MY DEAR FERENC! (CD
Thomas Berghammer (trumpet, flugelhorn, altohorn), Petra Ackermann (viola), Oskar Aichinger (piano), and Hannes Enzlberger (double bass) make up a quartet that play compositions by the bass player. In two tracks they are helped out by Jacques Nobili on trombone and voice. In 1993 Enzlberger was asked to join an ensemble playing music from Franz Léhar. It took some time before Enzlberger dared to admit that he liked this music. And now he comes with a cd with his compositions that are inspired on Léhar, especially 'The lustige Witwe'. As I,m not familiar with the work of Léhar, I,m unable to trace these influences. To my ears Enzlberger c.s. offer some unspectacular instrumental jazz compositions - sometimes close to composed chamber music - that are very far from opera, etc. Of the players it is above all Thomas Berghammer that I liked, because of his incredible technique and expression. Overall the playing is calm and intimate which fits best with these compositions. The music moves along slow and clear lines, and becomes never hectic or very free. More comfort than challenge here. Ideal for a lazy sunday afternoon (DM)
ALEXANDRE ST-ONGE - MON ANIMAL EST POSSIBLE
(CD by Alien8 Recordings)
ADAM FRANK & SAM SHALABI - OVERPASS! A MELODRAMA (CD by Alien8 Recordings)
While going through old Vital Weeklies to find out what we covered on Alexandre St-Onge, it was noticed that he did a lot of music, but not much of it as a solo artist. The last time, if searched right, we reviewed a solo CD from him was 'Une Machoire Et Deux Trous' in Vital Weekly 210. Working in groups we came across such fine names as Shalabi Effect, Et Sans, Bob and much more from his home town Montreal. His solo work deals with voice, although not exclusively. He adds a strange blend of concrete sounds, electronics but also something like strings on 'La Passion De La Transparence', which sounds like an alternative version of 'Je T'aime' by Serge Gainsbourg. It's hard to tell wether St-Onge uses his voice to recites some highly personal poetry or that his voice is used to produce sounds, that are as experimental as his music. Somehow I think it's the latter. St-Onge produces a curious mixture of electronic music, experimental music, but also sound poetry and post rock, the latter through the use of strumming the guitar. The music seems to me made through rather free improvisation, but always keeping in mind a dramatic effect and an introspective mood. Sometimes like a film noir soundtrack, sometimes like a movie about love. Overall a pretty good work, albeit of a strange character.
On the same label is a work by Adam Frank and Sam Shalabi, which is in the tradition of the late eighteenth century melodrama: a narration which is not sung, but spoken. The story is about a real underpass in Vancouver and it's history, through the eyes of one Antonia, who arrives in the city for the first time and is a bit lost. Various people guide her through the city, such as a tour guide, an architect, the militant mothers (who fought for the overpass to get their children safe across the road), a child and even a composer: a Morton Feldman (I somehow don't think his voice was recently recorded). Adam Frank wrote the text, which we call libretto in expensive wording, and Sam Shalabi is responsible for the music. Of course with such an emphasis on the words, the music is a bit pushed to the background, and it's more a supportive thing than something that stands by itself. That is a great pity for the fans of Shalabi (me included), but it's a necessary decision. 'Overpass!' is an interesting work, with a multitude of voices which reminded me Gregory Whitehead (even when with entirely different music). It's a work to keep your full attention with, to make sure to know what it's all about (although the entire libretto is in the booklet), but as music to pass your time with, it's perhaps less suitable. (FdW)
AMP - ALL OF YESTERDAY TOMORROW (3CD by
About a decade I was a little closer to the fire than these days: through the local distributor of alternative rock music, I was kind of hooked to post rock bands, who were all around. It had a great vibe, mainly because the music was nice, but also because it was so collectable. Small edition 7"s, 10", LPs and CD and new independent labels doing them. It felt like punk rock again. Especially those bands which incorporated a little bit more experiment had my interest, and one of them was AMP. Back then I just knew there was a guy, Richard Amp, who seemed to be the main member (and also the main man behind the even more experimental off shoot AMP Studio), but the booklet to this lovely three CD set tells me that Karine Charff, the vocalist was also absolutely a main member, but also that close to thirty people had something to do with AMP, including Dave Pearce (of Flying Saucer Attack), Matt Eliott (of Third Eye Foundation) and Robert Hampson (of Main fame). I am sure, more than sure, that I never was anywhere near complete in my AMP collection, so for me this collection is a more than welcome addition to fill in the gaps. Included a no less than twelve unreleased songs, alternative versions, various pieces from vinyl only and in total thirty-eight tracks. If AMP is something new to your ears than you should get it. Just what is AMP then? To simply say it's a post rock group doesn't justify them at all. They use female vocals who may sing words, but then again, maybe not. Humming is a better word and Charff does that in a very dreamlike manner. Sometimes it's close to dreampop, with strong influences of ambient music, but AMP does wander off into space, with spaced out jam-session like sounds. Fuzzy, vague (in a positive manner), trip like and down to earth at times. With seventy-two minutes per disc, loaded to the top, but my recommendation is to play all these in one go, and take a deep dive into the crazy dream world of AMP. Both a good introduction to new fans and a more than welcome addition for the old ones. Included is a book with details, pictures and text. What more do you want? (FdW)
THE HAFLER TRIO - WHO GAVE YOU THE ABILITY
TO ENVISAGE PERFECTION? (7" by Plinkity Plonk)
Being pressed on clear vinyl and wrapped in a printed transparent vellum cover, the Hafler Trio's latest 7" is surrounded by a splendid aura even before you actually hear the music. The image on the front cites Christian iconography with the motif of Judith holding the head of Holofernes, albeit in a great 1920s photographic soft porn version. On the back there is a text that is printed on the inside of the sleeve and thus appears mirror-inverted on the outside, which nicely corresponds to the hermetic nature suggested by the text itself.
The music lends itself to (albeit rather helpless) poetic visual metaphors: distant, yet most sensuous drones, blurred as if heard through a fine acoustic haze, with sounds moving about like bizarre shadows, devoid of sharp contours. One might wonder if the 7" format is the right choice for this kind of music, and in the case of this release the answer is a definite yes. There are some particularly fascinating moments on these tracks, most notably the final passage of side one and the trembling, slowly speaking female voice on the flipside. The latter is unmistakably human and even sounds familiar in a way, but at the time it is of an highly unnatural, almost ghost-like character. The former is marked by a limited frequency range and a use of distortion which hint towards the aesthetics of gramophones or antique loudspeakers, without actually citing it, thus evoking a sense of nostalgia while keeping away from any obvious references. It's the sheer fact that the 7" formats emphasizes the ephemeral nature of these passages that makes them even more precious - indeed, this release is a precious artifact throughout, exciting and unsettling in its beauty as well as in its exquisitely auratic appearance. (MSS)
ROBERT WITT - SSRI (CDR by Esc Rec)
The name Robert Witt might not ring an immediate bell, but he's the guy who graduated from art school with sound installations and live manipulation of sound, most notorious the live processing of knitting, which was later remixed by a whole bunch of people in the 'Grannittin' project (see Vital Weekly 545), in a knitted sock on the same label that is now responsible for his solo debut release. For his current release, with nine tracks, he samples whatever he feels is interesting to use: "his own voice, plastic bags, clicks and tics, things out of movies, dutch pirateradio and contemporary music". All of these samples are then manipulated inside the computer. Witt assembles lots of small loops and creates densely layered patterns (to stay in the analogy of knitting) with these. He treats similar loops slightly different with all sorts of plug ins. His music gets something mechanical and also some rhythmic. Not that he produces dance music, although the opening 'Jen_kun-fu' could easily be mistaked for a Chain Reaction outtake. This doesn't happen with the other pieces. His sources are most of the time obscured through the deliberate clouds he produces out of them. At times intense and loaded with anger, such as is in 'Du345052', but he also has a great sense of humor in some of the other pieces. It's a pretty strong debut with music that defies categorization. It's experimental enough, but falls outside noise or microsound, techno or other forms of rhythm based music, but has enough power of its own. (FdW)
STEVEN VINKENOOG - STATION #1 (CDR, private)
Over the past few years I ran into a guy called Steven Vinkenoog, a musician from a near by city called Arnhem. Every time I saw he produced some wonderful sound installation. One was with toy racing cars and others with guitars and ventilators, not hitting the strings but the waves made the strings to play. In the right setting a beautiful mellow piece. It's great to see some of his work on CDR, although there is no website or e-mail address. I am sure it will be in the next week correction section. On this piece, lasting forty-two minutes, he uses 'a guitar, an ebow and three loop stations' - whatever those might be. Curious enough the cover says: 'it is called Plain but it could also be called Station #1'. It's a thoughtful ambient piece of overtone like sounds, shifting slowly back and forth. The e-bow produces such wonderful sounds (any self confessed drone musician should have one), but it also needs capable hands and Vinkenoog surely has those. Slow changes, softly humming. If you like the works of Alvin Lucier (especially 'Music On A Long Thin Wire') or Paul Panhuysen (his 'Magic Square Of 5'), but Vinkenoog presents it in a more musical setting. If you like them, then should really be your thing too. A bit of shame about the non-presentation though. (FdW)
Address: none given
TORSTEIN WJIIK/CADMIUM DUNKEL - VICTIMS
OF RELIGION (CDR by Ambolthue)
TORSTEIN WJIIK - WAR (CDR by Ambolthue)
BJERGA/IVERSEN/MADAME P (CDR by Ambolthue)
More by Torstein Wjiik, also known to mankind as Kjetil Hanssen, who has a split release with Cadmium Dunkel and a full length of his own. His piece of the split last some thirty minutes and it starts out in a rather mellow mood; mellow, for a noise maker that is. 'Why Hate When You Can Love' is the title of the piece, and save for some noise outburst here and there, Wjiik shows he can make an interesting piece of noise related ambient. Including bird twitter. Cadmium Dunkel has been around for some time (more) and it shows in his four part 'Trenody [sic] For The Victims Of Religion', four parts, curiously named part 1, 2, 4 and 5. Gone are his days with drums and gothic undercurrents, all are now replaced by a true love of deep sonic rumbling. Somewhere there leaps a bit of percussive sounds in, but it stays through out in deep rumbling territory. Yes, perhaps like a threnody.
On Wjiik we go from religion to war, to some perhaps a short step. Here we find just one track, recorded in march of this year 'in bedroom using samples of old commadore 64 cassettes played in tape-recorder and a computer'. That does sound familiar to anybody under twenty-five? Probably not, but in the good (?) ol' days information for home computers was stored on cassettes, which, if played on a sound system, gave some incredible great noise. Here these noises are sampled and treated in the latest generation computers - time flies in the world of information technology. We find Wjiik in more common noise ground on this one, although in the fifty some minutes he takes us by the hand and lead us through various sceneries. High piercing tones, sweeping in all directions, cut ups and lower ranged sounds. If you like noise with a conceptual twist, then this is for you. For me, I wonder: war? what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
Late last year Bjerga and Iversen did a tour in the UK (marketing tool number one if you want to be famous: play loads of concerts) and on the road, part of the same tour they ran across Madame P, who herself is an active force in the world CDRs, touring and tourism. I saw her already a couple of times, but I don't think much of her work was reviewed in our pages. She sings and feeds it through various sound effects and electronica. Like it is common in these areas, on evenings like this, everybody plays together and on 'Broken English' (wasn't that a LP by Marianne Faithfull?) there are the best fragments from four different evenings around the UK. Over the course of some years now, Bjerga/Iversen are a duo that can play a subtle tune or two of an entirely improvised nature, sometimes spot on and sometimes a total miss. Madame P's own music is more like sound poetry, but sometimes with a good touch of popmusic. However the menage a trois here, doesn't always work well. First of all the recording is not really great, all done with a microphone (noisy audience, yuk!), but the sounds do not always seem to match very well. Sometimes they are banging on and on, such as in 'Newcastle' and sometimes they seem to be searching too much for perhaps anything to happen. The pieces are in chronological order here and it turns out that the final piece, recorded in Brighton is the best one. Hunted and haunted, this speeds on through a wall of noise of rhythm and feedback. Not entirely convincing, this collaboration. (FdW)
VESTIGIAL - AEON (Self-produced 3"-CD-R)
Vestigial is a new Italian project from the territories of dark ambient. Containing four tracks on a 3"-CD-R wrapped in a beautifully cardboard artwork, Vestigial introduces the listener to the sound of the artist with approximately 24 minutes of drone-based dark ambient. Manipulated distant voices in combinations with industrial noises create a great atmosphere on the album. Despite the light and jolly impression of a title like "Celebrating the new sun" the track is a threatening beast of ritual atmospheres, like the soundtrack for some ritual action of the dark kind. And the same goes for the other three tracks. There is a nice balance between cold expressions of ambient isolationism and subtle melody in the black fog of drones. A very promising debut from Vestigial, that makes us keep longing for more from this Italian creator of sonic darkness. (NM)
VERTONEN - NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST (3"
CDR by Banned Production)
The recent Vertonen music were a real blast of noise. Fine for the noise heads, but not really my thing that much. I'm glad to see and hear this beauty. A nice small balsa wood box with a wrap around is already visually good. The music is of stunning beauty too. 'Not All Who Wander Are Lost' is an epic, eighteen minute piece of very low humming tones. Perhaps done on analogue synth or two? Maybe on a computer? Who knows. It is a minimally changing piece of music in the best drone tradition and as such nothing new under the drone sun, but it's done with absolute great care and skill. It's along the lines of work he produced on his Crippled Intellect, such as 'Orchid Collidor' (see Vital Weekly 482), but with even more refinement. Still heavily in debt with Eliane Radigue and The Hafler Trio, this is a great work. If this is a forecast of what is to come, I'm more than delighted to hear that. The best Vertonen yet. (FdW)
HAL MCGEE - THE MAN WITH THE TAPE RECORDER
(MP3 or CDR)
"Avoid old fashioned habits such as tonality and rhythm." A mantra to live and create by, Hal McGee exemplifies this creed on his latest release, The Man with the Tape Recorder. Recorded over a span of two weeks this past May with a micro cassette recorder and a rental car, this is lofi subversion at its best. Random snippets of speech are interspersed with circuit bent electronics. Pause button editing, complete with the sudden swishing sound of the tape heads hitting the tape, propel this album ahead. McGee pontificates his screeds of the creative process amongst random conversations with passersby. Guerrilla phonography or Burroughs cutups unleashed on the unsuspecting. Chaotic but with a determined logic of its own making, this is one of McGee's strongest releases yet in his 25 plus years of audio fluxist activity. McGee's analog madness is refreshing in our overly digital world and never succumbs to retro stylings or nostalgia. You can download or stream this or even purchase a cdr from Hal himself. You'll be glad you did.
Address: http://www.halmcgee.com/ (JS)
ALEXEI BORISOV - LIVE IN KALININGRAD (MP3
EMITER.ARSZYN - TRESYMESY (MP3 by AudioTong)
Alexei Borisov has been around since the early 1980s and these days he is not only releasing Cds on labels such as N&B Research Digest, Electroshock or Laton, but he is also quite present in the world of net labels. His release on AudioTong collects four longer excerpts from a concert Borisov played in Kaliningrad on May 15th, 2006. The laptop is his main instrument here, along with some not further specified analogue devices, cassette player, minidictaphone and MP3 player. The aesthetics of these tracks are marked by sharp, if not brute, digital sounds and frequent, sudden cuts. At times the tracks are structured by straight minimal rhythms, but Borisov mostly builds multi-layered, labyrinthine noise constructions. Without leaning too much towards the slightly worn-out aesthetic of digital errors, he uses tiny irregularities, clicks and digital distortion quite effectively and creates a captivating atmosphere of present, however still subliminal tension and nervousness that is matched well by various voices sampled from shortwave radio and other, more obscure found sounds. Towards the end things tend to get a bit lengthy, but the final minutes again catch up with the gritty power of the other tracks.
While Emiter.Arszyn's live recording "07. 11. 2005", released on audioTong a few months ago and reviewed in Vital Weekly 564, was a fine blend of drones, soft pulses and field recordings, their latest release heads in a different direction. For "Tresymesy" Marcin Dymiter and Krysztof Topolski, who are behind Emiter.Arszyn, travelled to Zagreb, Sarajevo, Belgrade and Gdansk and asked people there to say the words 'home', 'family' and "some words they find important in their native language". A concept like that of course brings up quite a lot of theoretical implications (and complications, as well, I guess), but since I'm only marginally familiar with the discourses on migration, hybridity, (national) identity, neo-conservatism and the history of the Balkan, I'll have to skip an in-depth discussion of these topics.
Some elements of the aforementioned live recording are still present in this new release, notably a nice minimal rhythm, that appears now and then, but they have receded in the background in favor of a collage of largely unprocessed voices and field recordings. The piece works almost like a radio play, displaying a panorama of people talking in different languages, with different accents and intonations, sounds from their respective surroundings and some additional electronic sounds. As the liner notes suggest, the focus of the work doesn't seem to be on a strict empirical documentation, but rather on capturing atmospheric impressions from various locations. Taken as such, it does include some strong moments indeed, even if the combination of the more musical elements with the voices often seems a bit arbitrary. However, it still doesn't only leave me wondering, why they have chosen such heavily charged words as a central theme, but on the whole also missing a satisfying balance between the quasi ethnographic approach and the aesthetic result. (MSS)