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THE FRUSTRATION... AND US!
DAVID MARANHA - MARCHES OF THE NEW WORLD
(CD by Grain Of Sound) *
TELEPHERIQUE - SLOWMOTION (CD by Force Of Nature Records) *
SMEGMA - NATTERING NAYBOYS OF NEGATIVITY (CD by Harbinger) *
TIM CAITLIN & JON MUELLER - PLATES AND WIRES (CD by Crouton Music) *
ELIANE RADIGUE - JETSUN MILA (2CDS by Lovely Music)
OPSVIK & JENNINGS - COMMUTER ANTHEMS (CD by Rune Grammophon)
MARK WASTELL - AMOUNGST ENGLISH MEN (CD by Absinth Records)
FREDERIK NESS SEVENDAL - NO FOLY BOW (CD by Apartment/Humbug) *
KRAIG GRADY - BEYOND THE WINDOWS PERHAPS AMONG THE PODCORN (CD by Transparency Records) *
KRAIG GRADY - ORENDA (3"CDR, private)
ARTEFACTS OF AUSTRALIAN EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC 1930-1973 (CD by Shame File Music)
BITE THE CAPSICUM (3"CDR by Shame File Music)
MARC BEHRENS - ENTITY MÜLHEIM (2DVD by Auf Abwegen)
RAYMOND DIJKSTRA - MASKENSTILLEBEN (LP by Crouton Music)
RAYMOND DIJKSTRA - DIE WILLE (LP by Le Souffleur)
RAYMOND DIJKSTRA - DIE SONNE (LP by Le Souffleur)
MARC MCNULTY - ASYMMETRIC ERROR PROPAGATION (CDR by Earphone) *
HINSIDAN - SHAPESHIFTER BLUES (CDR by Verato Project) *
ASHER - THE DEPTHS, THE COLORS, THE OBJECTS AND THE SILENCE (CDR by Mystery Sea) *
CROW FEATHERS - MOVES TO E.LANSING (cassette by Turgid Animal) *
AAL - URANIA (5CDR by Afe Records) *
FORMATT - HIMIKO (2 3"CDR by Odradek)
FORMATT - MINOR CURATIONS (3" CDR by Pseudo Arcana) *
MATT KREFTING - MAN IN REVOLT (cassette by Hank The Herald Angel Recordings)
DAVID MARANHA - MARCHES OF THE NEW WORLD
(CD by Grain Of Sound)
After some years of absence, David Maranha, erstwhile of Osso Exotico then drone meister in his own right, is now back. Recently he released a CD with Minit under the banner of Organ Eye, and there he showed a changing interest in the drone field. It incorporated drones from instruments as well as electronics and had a edge to it which could be classified as 'rock'. This is continued on this new CD, under his name, but most certainly more a rock band then a solo effort. Maranha plays hammond organ, violin and dobro/resophonic guitar. João Milagre (bass) and António Forte (drums), Tiago Miranda (percussion) form the back bone while Helena Espvall playing the cello. The drone music played by this group is one that stands in a long tradition: from Yves Klein, Tony Conrad, LaMonte Young and Velvet Underground. Ongoing, banging rhythm features, with a dominant role for organ and cello, but, certainly in 'Infinity March' also for the rhythm section, which placed at the end makes a beautiful grand finale. The four preceding tracks are quieter, certainly 'Virgins Visions' (which is the only solo piece by Maranha here), but in the other three tracks things already rock like hell or drone like heaven. It moves away from the previous works by Maranha, which was the more classical overtone pieces of resonating strings and beautiful humming wave fields. The music is harsher, grittier, more angular, and I must admit very nice, because it goes back to a tradition which is not copied these days very much, and certainly not as nice. Its a great thing to see this done here, moving away from his earlier work, but still re-inventing drone music. Great stuff. (FdW)
TELEPHERIQUE - SLOWMOTION (CD by Force Of
Despite their close to a hundred releases since they started eighteen years ago, Telepherique hasn't been that much in Vital Weekly, for reasons, other than labels not sending promo's, not quite clear. It doesn't make it easy to shed light on their development. Telepherique is a German trio of Klaus, Danijela and Rene Jochim from Würzburg. Their releases came to us on labels as Ant-Zen and Old Europa Cafe and many take the form of a collaboration, such as with Ulf Harr, Echart Seilacher, Harry Luftl, Stefan Au and Stefan Alt. That is important to Telepherique as they are also politically inclined. 'This CD is dedicated to all the people who try to simplify their life in modern times, marked with materialism, business, stress an sickness. Like said, it's hard to tell where this album is to be placed in the extensive Telepherique discography, but it is safe to say that 'Slowmotion' is well chosen title: the music is mostly ambient in approach, with long washes of synths, but it's never the big A ambient. Telepherique also uses rhythm, a lot of it, but it's a slow pulse, whenever it is used. Not exactly dance music, but a sort of driving pulse, a heart beat if you want, or the steady bump of a train ride. You watch outside and the landscape slowly changes, with altering colors and sceneries. The rhythms have a sense of tribalism, which is not far away from some of the mechanical beats of Muslimgauze. Excellent production of music that is best heard when traveling. Leave what you are doing behind and start a journey with this as its soundtrack. (FdW)
SMEGMA - NATTERING NAYBOYS OF NEGATIVITY
(CD by Harbinger)
To be honest: I am and never was the biggest fan of Smegma, that free form combo from Portland, Oregon, but there are a few things which I like about them. The name for a start, but also the fact that they have been around for so long now, perhaps thirty years (judging by discography in the booklet, which goes from 1976 to 1988, and that it seems they never dramatically changed their sound. Also I believe they still play every week in Portland. An unique band. The booklet discography going to thirty-three releases by 1988 (including appearances on compilations) shows as the final entry, 'Morass', a cassette release on Soleilmoon (spelled Solielmoon, a common US mis spelling) and shortly before that 'Nattering Nayboss Of Negativity', a LP for Dead Man's Curve, the long gone UK label from Dave Henderson (who also compiled 'Three Minute Symphony' and 'Elephant Table Album'). Smegma is, musically, also a curious band. They use the format of a rock band, although it seems no one can really play an instrument properly, including vocals that hardly make sense. But to their total free playing of whatever instrument comes in hand, they also make use old reel to reel recorders, making loops on them, or inserting weird sounds and conversations in the mix. This links them, certainly in the period of their career covered on this release, to say Nurse With Wound and P16.D4, with whom they worked on 'Distruct'. The mayhem here is spread over twenty-one tracks and at so much chaos I must admit its a bit too much chaos, but it's also good to hear it after so many years. It shows Smegma in a phase of their career where they got more and more international recognition and places them alongside The Nihilist Spasm Band as true outsiders to the format or (free) rock music and musique concrete. This is a great re-issue! (FdW)
TIM CAITLIN & JON MUELLER - PLATES AND
WIRES (CD by Crouton Music)
Years pass by without reviewing anything by Australia's Tim Caitlin, and here is the second release with him in a few weeks, following his release 'Radio Ghosts' on 23Five Incorporated (see Vital Weekly 579). Here he teams up with Jon Mueller, the US percussion player and owner of Crouton Music. Both Tim and Jon love resonant frequencies from their instruments. They prepare their instruments with objects and watch the thing play itself, as it were. This is how drone music can be made. Caitlin using motorized objects to play his guitar and Mueller places various parts of his drumkit on top of eachother and below is a amplifier with sine waves or a cassette player with such like to get the whole pile moving. The recent CD by Caitlin was a nice one, but effectively also a sound that can be heard on many other releases, here, on this collaboration however, together with somebody who does similar things but to a less common instrument, it works much better. The drones set forward by the two is almost violent in approach. Mean, up there, present, this is not the sort of drone music that lulls the listener into a state of sleep, but keeps him awake. A pretty strong release of highly captivating drone music. The cover is great too: a 10" cover with a hand stuck print on by painter/printer Thomas Kovacich of two different pieces of monochrome types, each reflecting the color of the other - the perfect visualization of this collaboration. (FdW)
ELIANE RADIGUE - JETSUN MILA (2CDS by Lovely
Eliane Radigue is known artist in the fields of drone related music. Born in Paris, she studied electro-acoustic music techniques under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry. I'm familiar with her 'Adnos' release, in her music she uses Arp synthesizer and recording tapes. She has become a Tibetan Buddhist in 1975 when stopped composing for some time and when getting back to music in 1979 she continued to work with the Arp synthesizer, which has become her signature. 'Jetsun Mila' is one of her works inspired by the Tibetan poet and yogi Milarepa and another CD on the same theme is 'Songs of Milarepa', released also by Lovely Music. Eliane Radigue received a "Commande de l'etat" from the French Government to compose 'Jetsun Mila' and the piece was originally performed, recorded and produced by the artist in 1986. The music on this double CD release is separated on both CDs and there's one longer piece on each CD, the second continuing where the first ends. The atmosphere on both of the CDs is very calm, a bit more unsettling on the second CD, with it's sensibility it is in many aspects like ambient music and it has a distinctive atmospheric sense. This music is also very poetic and thinking about that, while listening to it, I can conclude that 'Jetsun Mila' can be perceived as poetry, in a very subtle and wide meaning characteristic about that word. (BR)
OPSVIK & JENNINGS - COMMUTER ANTHEMS
(CD by Rune Grammophon)
With "Commuter Anthems" Eivind Opsvik and Aaron Jennings present their second album. Their first one, "Floyel Files" (NCM East) dates from 2005. Mister Opsvik comes from Oslo, living in the States since 1998, and playing bass in too many groups and projects to mention here. To put it simply, he is deeply involved in the New York Downtown scene. Jennings is a guitarplayer who has his roots in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But who is also living nowadays in New York. To give a first hint for what they are up to on their new album, we can say it fits perfectly within the well-defined aesthetics of the Rune Grammophon label. "Commuter Anthems" is an interesting melting pot of a great many influences: easy listening, film music, muzak, jazz, pop, Bill Frisell, postrock, etc. It is evident that Jennings and Opvsik take their inspiration from almost everywhere. But nowhere the music sounds meaninglessly eclectic. No, they succeed from their various inspirations and experiences to create a very original musical universe, that result in a very satisfying musical experience. Opsvik plays double bass, electric bass, drums, percussion, piano, organ, theremin, vocals and software. Jennings: electric and acoustic guitars, lap steel, banjo, concertina, vocals, software and electronics. In some tracks they helped out by Ben Gernstein (trombone), Rich Johnson (trumpet) and Peter Opsvik (flute). So you understand this a real studio-product. But the music is very open and sounds loosely constructed, sometimes even in a collage-like way. The music they create is very accessible on the hand, and may pass by without noticing it like some ambient music, when listening superficially. The reward comes from listening with more concentration. As said above they use a great diversity of sounds and instruments, and they paint very colorful pieces with good feeling for style and a great sense for detail and finesse. Also their music is very well constructed in an inventive and original way, far from any cliché. Funny to find this sense for musical adventure within this friendly and comforting music. A great album. (DM)
MARK WASTELL - AMOUNGST ENGLISH MEN (CD
by Absinth Records)
As the other releases on Absinth Records, this CD is packed in a cover with a size for a 7" vinyl, with interesting handmade looking design. In the brackets of the subtitle of this a little bit more than half hour piece by Mark Wastell it's written: for piano, tam tam and tubular bell. To be more precise, on the back cover it says that Wastell plays: steinway grand piano, paiste tam tam and tubular bell. The music on 'Amoungst english men' has an atmospheric sense and it's very much close to ambient music, but it's not pure ambience, since in the approach it is still improvised music. It's a subtle crossover of the ambient style and the improvised approach, even in it's unity sounding like a drone piece, in a wider context of the impressions that this music associates, while listening the whole piece of almost 34 minutes. Maybe more diversity in the sounds would bring in more intensity, but maybe that will be the case on the next or is on other releases by Mark Wastell, while the atmospheric 'Amoungst english men' is my first encounter with his music. (BR)
FREDERIK NESS SEVENDAL - NO FOLY BOW (CD
The name Frederik Ness Sevendal popped up a few times in Vital Weekly, through his LP with Bill Wood of 1.3 Octave Band and a self-released CDR (see Vital Weekly 409 and 463). He has also played with people like Makoto Kawabata, Tabata, Lasse Marhaug and Crazy River. 'No Foly Bow' however is his first solo album. Sevendal plays guitar and sound effects. The result, the seven tracks that can be found on this release, is quite an interesting affair, as Sevendal doesn't have one sound in mind, but several. He can play a beautiful piece of drone music with various layers of sustaining guitars, but on top he plays a nice set of slide guitars. In the next track he can play a more melodic tune that harks back to folk music. It makes this into a highly varied CD release, but it works well. The various tunes, which were apparently created through improvisation (hard to believe really), make a consistent whole, and displays a true talent at work. Nice recording, with a keen ear for details, this might still appeal to the fans of music from New Zealand, especially when Sevendal plays a drone like piece, but he has so much more to offer. Great debut. (FdW)
KRAIG GRADY - BEYOND THE WINDOWS PERHAPS
AMONG THE PODCORN (CD by Transparency Records)
KRAIG GRADY - ORENDA (3"CDR, private)
Quite wrongly I believed work by Kraig Grady had been reviewed before, but a search through the vaults of Vital Weekly did bring nothing. Yet the name sounded familiar, perhaps I saw him on the microsound discussion list. Much to my surprise came this debut CD by him. Grady is connect to Anaphoria, which I believe is a made up land, where they have their own tuning system. Also they believe "that traveling religious artifacts have been known to cause earthquakes as the result of evil forces fleeing their presence". That aside, the music on 'Beyond The Windows Perhaps Among The Podcorn' is great. It's a composition Grady wrote for six players: cello, saxophones, bassoon, trumpet and two voices. They perform exact pitches 'but also to use the wide range of timbres possible'. Grady follows the tuning invented by Erv Wilson, whom he met in 1975. The slowly unfolds it's beauty in a strict modern classical sense of the word. No electronics are applied in this recording, which, if you didn't know this, would probably something you could all to easily think. There are references to people like Ingram Marshall or Alvin Lucier, but more to Phill Niblock, especially his string quartet. The listener is elevated in a seemingly weightless space through these vibrations and endless sustaining sounds. Music that can drive the listener if he is not open to it, but if you let this in, it's of an amazing beauty. I may say this before, but this is a stunning beautiful work, an instant classic piece.
At the same time there is also a 3" inch CDR played by Grady, Ellysa Shalla and Erin Barnes, who all play vibraphones. "Orenda is a both a Huran and Anaphorian word meaning 'that kind of power that mortals can summon to combat the blind forces of fate'". It starts out silent, but sooner than later becomes more audible and the overtones the three vibraphones can produce fill your space. But it's a percussive work, obviously, and it works well, but not as great as the full length. The true suspense that that one has, is a bit missed here, even when this is a fine work by itself, it's not the similar blow as the full length just produced. (FdW)
ARTEFACTS OF AUSTRALIAN EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC
1930-1973 (CD by Shame File Music)
BITE THE CAPSICUM (3"CDR by Shame File Music)
Probably every country have it's secret history with regard to electronic music. Me personally I am waiting for the box set of 'Anthology Of Dutch Electronic Music 1955 - 1977', which is not likely to happen for reasons unclear, but Shame File Music just released this 'Artefacts Of Australian Experimental Music 1930-1973'. Of course the older, the more avant-garde it is. Jack Ellitt has the oldest piece, apparently from the early 1930s, made on the soundtrack part of a film, even when it sounds like it could have been some twenty years later. I might not be surprised if this guy never existed. That is perhaps the trouble with some of these musicians, artists and outsiders to the world of experimental music. Did they ever exist? Or is everything a big hoax? The only name I recognized here, is that of Felix Werder, of whom Pogus recently released a CD too. So, let's safely assume these are genuine old pieces. Keep in mind that we are dealing with 'experimental' music here and not 'electronic' per se. This leads to improvised madness of Melbourne Dada Group and the more controlled improvisation of Robert Rooney. I must admit I was more pleased with the crude electronic music that is also on this disc, such as the piece by Bruce Clarke and Val Stephen (who apparently manipulates everyday sounds) and Felix Werder's piece (which was also on the Pogus release). It's altogether a great overview of music that is not always that great, but from a historical point of view makes perfect sense. More countries should follow.
On the same label also a 3"CDR of someone named Bite The Capsicum, entirely based on a TV appearance this guy did in 1995 for a program called 'The Iron Chef' which turned out to be some sort of disaster. The music is a sound collage of said TV show, mingled with electronics and noise. It's all ok, but also perhaps a bit too haphazard and short to form an opinion about it. Maybe seeing the program in question would have helped. Maybe something for Youtube? (FdW)
MARC BEHRENS - ENTITY MÜLHEIM (2DVD
by Auf Abwegen)
In 1998 Marc Behrens started to work on a series of audio installations, which aim at portraying a particular location by means of its sonic appearance and apprehend the location's sound as an entity, in the sense of a being or an essence. After realising installations in Frankfurt ('Entity INM', 1998) and Darmstadt ('Entity K', 2002), Marc Behrens presented 'Entity Mülheim' as a 4-channel sound/2-channel video installation at the 'Kulturbunker Mülheim' in 2005.
Mülheim is a suburb of Cologne, a, as its mayor euphemistically puts it in the liner notes, lively, diversified and enormously heterogenic district. Marc Behrens chose two persons who represent the two biggest population groups in Mülheim: "a Turkish mother, about 40 years old, and a circa 60-year-old German man" (just why does 'woman' equal 'mother' here?), asked them some questions about the respectively other population groups and the district itself and recorded their answers to video. Additionally Marc Behrens made further audio and video recordings in and around Mülheim. As he explains in the extensive and informative liner notes, some of these sounds and images are directly linked to what the two people said, while others reflect his own perception of the location.
From this material Marc Behrens assembled two
audio-visual compositions, each of which is attributed to one of the two population groups. At the 'Kulturbunker' these compositions were shown simultaneously on two monitors and now they are available on two separate DVDs to allow a similar mode of presentation.
The visual part consists of a series of short films which are shot with a static camera and deal with rather commonplace subjects like children playing, traffic on a bridge, a tree in sunlight or wind stirring a small pile of rubbish and dry leaves. Throughout Marc Behrens works a lot with slowing down movements or with emphasizing their rhythmic aspects by cutting them up and rearranging them. His treatment of the recordings of the two persons, for example, brings about fragmented syllables and quivering images, which exaggerate the persons' mimics and make them look like bizarre grimaces, while other sequences are tranquil and almost meditative. At times the results bring to mind the work of experimental filmmakers such as Kurt Kren, which, however, stand in a wholly different context. The soundtrack seems to be based entirely on highly processed field recordings, but the connection between the sounds and the images is loose, and there are even some passages concentrating solely on the sounds without any images. The familiar, yet capably applied vocabulary of digital sound processing works best when the sounds bear a trace of their origin (without necessarily being recognizable), whereas it sometimes risks missing the point when it focuses too much on the manipulation itself.
Marc Behrens' approach of exploring rather inconspicuous phenomena and rearranging their internal chronological sequence might be understood as a metaphor for reading between the lines, for finding a truth (or whatever there is to be found) hidden between the words. Rather than proclaiming to have found this truth, however, it cleverly deceits the viewer's expectation to learn what the interviewed people hold as typically German or typically Turkish and instead makes the viewer project her/his own imagination on what she/he sees and hears.
One of the weak points about this work is that parts of its imagery stay in all too conventional notions of the poetic, such as the slowed down footage of dry leaves and rubbish stirred by the wind or the starting aeroplane, which closes the second DVD. I would also be reluctant to think that something like the essence of a location actually exists. Still, leaving all these issues aside, 'Entity Mülheim' works well as an essay-like audio-visual portrait. (MSS)
RAYMOND DIJKSTRA - MASKENSTILLEBEN (LP by
RAYMOND DIJKSTRA - DIE WILLE (LP by Le Souffleur)
RAYMOND DIJKSTRA - DIE SONNE (LP by Le Souffleur)
It's perhaps no big secret that I am a big fan of the work of Raymond Dijkstra, and maybe reviewing all of his previous work, entitled me to a copy of each of this: a big black wooden box with golden text, in an edition of merely 100 copies - the preprogrammed art item or well calculated collector's item? (You decide). Times three. Crouton released a big wooden box, while Dijkstra's Le Souffleur label releases two LPs at the same time in a linen hardcover box with debossed and gold print, like his previous 'Affen-Theater' (see Vital Weekly 479). Sound wise Dijkstra continues the road he choose now for a while. A while ago I saw him in concert, with Timo van Luyck, with whom he has an ongoing collaboration, and their set up is very simple. An ancient loop echo, a small table and a small bunch of objects that are played on the table, like glass, knives, forks and wood. On 'Maskenstilleben' Dijkstra continues this. Somewhere in the back there are the disharmonious drone like chords he plays, seemingly at random, whereas in the foreground there are scrapings and scratching of the surface, which are fed through the ancient echo machine (which, to be honest, could have been a little less). Perhaps the use of echo makes this 'electro-acoustic' music, but its merely a deception to call it like that. This is acoustic music in optima forma and one of a highly original kind. Composition? Not of great interest for Dijkstra. Structure? Nope. Being part of a scene? Which one, or in fact is there one? Not for Dijkstra. He claims to work best in strict isolation, building up the pressure and when he plays his music, he releases his pressure. Inside his closed system (both mentally and in the real world), he derives the sounds which he likes, plays them ad infinitum, without beginning or end. This is noise music, but stepped outside the relatively known genre of overload. This is improvisation, but not as we knew it. Total outsider music, as it's hard to come across Dijkstra, who hardly plays concerts. Not part of the serious music world, the underground noise scene, microsound or the laptop flock, he persists very much in his world. "Releasing my work I only do for metaphysical reasons; to keep all psychic and physical channels open, and maintaining a healthy system. It is not much more then relieving yourself in the toilet", he says. I hardly see anything more beautiful, both music and package wise, coming from 'relieving yourself in the toilet' (the analogy is a bit lost on me, but then I am an outsider to his world).
The differences between the three LPs is not very big. Normally it could result in me nagging about that, but in the case of Dijkstra you can only see the purity by which he works. We hardly complain about people using guitars and drums, so why should we complain about Dijkstra using objects like glass and metal? It's not the same song repeated three times. Each is genuinely different from the previous or the following record. The instruments remain the same, the 'composition' remains the same, yet, like a good monochrome painting, the differences are in the detail. 'Die Sonne' I thought was a bit more minimal than the other two, more sparse, while 'Maskenstilleben' was a bit more dense, and 'Die Wille', although close to 'Die Sonne' fell sort of in between the two.
After a bunch of self-released records, the release for Crouton may open more doors for Dijkstra, and probably he doesn't care, but at least the public should care. Three great LPs, by all means, although Art (big A in place) doesn't come cheap. (FdW)
MARC MCNULTY - ASYMMETRIC ERROR PROPAGATION
(CDR by Earphone)
Since Vital Weekly 549 we know Marc McNulty is back. This new release sees him taking the material on the previous two releases 'Faraday Cage' and 'Neurontin' to the stage through two lengthy pieces culled from live recordings - although dates are not given. The material at hand is the highly processed field recordings on one side and shortwave/number stations on the other hand. Through minimal changes he works through his set. Building slowly, and in the piece that was recorded in Boston in an almost ambient way and in the second piece (recorded live in Krakow, Poland) he creates even a techno party for a while, though not too long. The field recordings are difficult to track back to whatever origin, and the use of short wave radio, number stations and airflight control add a political and also creepy element to the music. Not as microsound as one could expect, this McNulty release hoovers in a more louder textures, and on CDR they two pieces may sound a bit long, which could have been helped with some editing, but it has some intense music on it, even when I personally would have either trimmed it or released it as two separate releases. (FdW)
HINSIDAN - SHAPESHIFTER BLUES (CDR by Verato
Packaging craziness here: for whatever unknown reason, this release was smeared with shampoo, maybe to indicate we deal with nice music here? Hinsidan is a duo of Supertius and Atish Pare, and 'Shapeshifter Blues' is their second CDR release, while a 10" on Ant-Zen is forthcoming. That's about the extend of information to be given as we don't know anything else. 'Mastered by Lasse Marhaug' it says on the cover, but don't be fooled by that: Hinsidan doesn't produce noise music, although their machine like drone sometimes comes very close. In each of the seven pieces they enroll a drone that is omni present, enlarged and enhanced by sound effects to make it thicker and fatter, but also more of a menace. Only in one track, 'A Second In The Mind, A Day in The Life' they approach noise very close and it happens to be the weakest link here. The other six pieces are beautiful drone within the well-defined area of course and it makes a very solid release. I wouldn't be too surprised if they will have a release on Mystery Sea on day too. Very nice. (FdW)
ASHER - THE DEPTHS, THE COLORS, THE OBJECTS
AND THE SILENCE (CDR by Mystery Sea)
It's been quiet for a while for Asher Thal-nir from Somerville, Massachusetts, who has produced an interesting string of recordings, mainly for netlabels and CDR labels such as Con-V, Leerraum, Earlabs and Term. Here he returns with three long pieces that are totally like the Asher we know, and not very much alike the recent releases on Mystery Sea. It fits however well on that label. Asher takes field recordings of every day life, maybe even as simply as hanging a microphone out the window and picking up the sound, feeding it directly into his computer, feeding it through his filters and cooking up an austere, hermetically closed mass of sound. Microsound in optima forma. It's hissy, scratchy and blurry - and while those three terms may have negative connotations, there are all to be seen in a positive manner. It may not sound hip and fresh, as Asher's music stays firmly in the well fitted areas of microsound (with strong nod to the work of William Basinski), but the three pieces capture a great ambient mood. Thoroughly digital, which may sets itself apart from some of the more sub aquatic releases on Mystery Sea, it all makes perfect sense to make this a release on this by now well respected ambient label. (FdW)
CROW FEATHERS - MOVES TO E.LANSING (cassette
by Turgid Animal)
Brandon Miller, the man behind Crow Feathers doesn't trust Vital Weekly to own their own cassette player, so he added a CDR of the music that can be found on 'Moves To E. Lansing'. Miller plays guitar, synthesizer and electronics. Turgid Animal is known to release noise music, and there are indeed moments when Miller shows his love of the genre, but not until we are well into the fourth piece 'Kursk Magnetic Anomaly'. The three preceding pieces are filled with soft tinkling guitars and likewise soft keyboard moves on 'Elegia', which ends with some force, before the real thunder starts. The noise piece isn't well spend on me, but the three tracks on the b-side aren't like that at all. Here Miller further explores the use of guitar and electronics in a rather melodious manner, but also in a free spirit. He doesn't let his sound to be restricted inside a composition, but rather sets a more free, spacious tone for them. Quite cosmic in approach, even when 'A Meditation' is hardly meditative, but a more angular take on cosmic music. Quite nice stuff altogether, and certainly should have found its way to a CDR release, me thinks. (FdW)
AAL - URANIA (5CDR by Afe Records)
Davide Valecchi, the man behind Aal, started in 2001 with playing more experimental music, after years of dabbling around in various other musical genres. In the early days of his career he released music on S'Agita, which is still regarded as one of the more exciting labels from Italy, and sadly no longer around. These days Valecchi releases on Afe Records, and they are now responsible for this five/six CDR set, which looks professional and lovely, but of which apparently merely fifty copies exist. Five or six I write, as the official release is five CDRs, but a sixth one is included, but which is sold separately and only available on demand, even when the catalogue number and cover artwork are similar to the box. The works in this box contain works from the period 2000 to 2004 which haven't been released before or privately in a small edition. The enclosed list shows more unreleased works, so no doubt another box will follow one day.
The box set opens with 'Disc 2' (2000-2001), 'Disc 1' was released by S'Agita) and is one of the first works he produced as Aal. Here he works with synthesizers, effects, tape recorders, microphones and samplers, as opposed to the later work which uses a lot more computers. The pieces here are drone like, partly even referring too cosmic music of the seventies. The pieces are throughout a bit dark, as can be expected in the world of drone music and also a bit unfocussed. It was a promising start.
'Disc 3' sees a continuation of 'Disc 2' (2001), but with one big difference: it's more or less a live recording of 'altering streams of sound in real time'. These streams of sound come from radio, television, shortwave and analogue tape recorders, feeding through sound processors and samplers. Three long(er) pieces of floating and more angular drone music, bouncing up and down the scale in a kind of vibrant way, It moves back and forth in a sci-fi soundtrack manner and floats around like a space ship. A bit like good ol' Arecibo.
Both ends of the first two discs are brought together on 'Composita Solvantur' (2002-2003), which is a four part work, 'each part of which can be considered as a static description of the same place viewed from a different angle'. The four long pieces have the drone like character of 'Disc 2' but also the vibrancy of 'Disc 3'. The space age motif of the previous disc continues here, but the tracks are worked out better. At times it sounded like processed feedback, such as in '(Fase Solare)', and when things get more darker and moodier, the influence of Maurizio Bianchi never seems far away. It's all quite ambient like, but it never looses the experimental touch. Quite a refined work.
Something similar can be said about 'Delicate Debris' (2004), even when it consist much more and much shorter pieces. Here Aal tells us that he's using acoustic instruments such as piano, guitar, flutes and mandolin and 'it deals with the essence of loss'. Throughout the eleven tracks sound indeed desolate and empty, like small, mournful tunes. I am not sure here, but this could also be the point when Aal uses more computerized methods to work on his music (though I might be wrong of course). If this had to be classified as something, I think ambient glitch would be the most appropriate term. Although mood, working method and shape is different from the previous one, this is also a great work.
The fifth one is 'Engine Summer' (2004). Various interests that we saw on the previous four discs (as well as other releases by Aal in the past) are combined here: the deep end ambient music, electro-acoustic processing of objects and field recordings, but also there is rhythm to be found here, in a sort of slow, Chain Reaction manner, which makes this quite a full and somewhat unfocussed release. What does Aal want here? Maybe the idea was the make a more mature album, of various interests combined into an album, but unfortunately the results are not always as great. It makes a ok release though.
The sixth, bonus, CDR is a 'La Ruina', which is the one that goes to the area of field recording most. Aal recorded a river on various locations and layers these recordings into a forty some minute piece. Of all the discs this is the one that lacks any form of electronics, and it's a pure soundscape, much along the lines of 'Map Of Hudson River' or similar works. Hard to believe it has ten voices as it sounds consistent throughout. Quite a nice work.
Altogether this is a great work, showing a strong development, and Aal venturing into different kinds of music, which sometimes works and sometimes it doesn't. Let's wait for the next box, to see where he leads us then. (FdW)
FORMATT - HIMIKO (2 3"CDR by Odradek)
FORMATT - MINOR CURATIONS (3" CDR by Pseudo Arcana)
Over the years we have come across the music of Formatt, in all sorts of formats really, but CDR remains the most important one. Here two of them arrive at once. The first, released on Belgium's Odradek label, is a double package with a 'multi-channel audio installation at Galerie Jan Colle in Ghent Belgium'. The idea is to play both CDRs at the same time, but I have no such set up. Even if I don't play them at the same time, I can form an idea what it would sound like, although no clear view what this installation would have looked like. One CDR has the more longer, sustaining sounds which seems to be derived from radio transmissions, while the other has a shorter, more irregular web rhythmical sounds, which no doubt was derived from similar source material. Nice, but I think a mixed stereo version would have been preferred here.
How this can work is heard on 'Minor Curations', released on New Zealand's Pseudo Arcana (and maybe an unlikely label for Formatt). More microscopic sounds treated through the big computer screen and plug ins running amok. There is an extensive use of the delay machine, which add, oddly enough, a sort of lo-fi quality to the music, which was perhaps appealing the Pseudo Arcane labelboss. It makes a pretty strong release all together. Not by a new and refreshing look at the genre of microsound, but just by itself: an intense piece of computerized processing of sound. Nervous, hectic, dark and sometimes menacing. A very fine and refined piece. (FdW)
MATT KREFTING - MAN IN REVOLT (cassette
by Hank The Herald Angel Recordings)
When checking if I wrote about Matt Krefting before, I came to the sad conclusion I didn't. Which is odd, since he's closely connected to my beloved Idea Fire Company. Krefting is also a member of many other bands, such as Son Of Earth, Duck, Itchy Pits, The Believers, Destroyer and many more. He plays everything, everywhere and with everyone. 'Man In Revolt' is the total opposite: he's alone at the piano, plus perhaps a bunch of electronics, most likely guitar effects. These are kept however to a minimum, as the main thing is the piano. It's an utter lo-fi, hiss covered tape, but no doubt it's intended to be like that. Minor keys are played, while the sustain pedal is pressed down hard to add that darker texture to the music. On the B-side there is a short track 'Forgets Breakfast' which is made with fog horns (or so it seems). It's a great release, along the lines of the recent Graham Lambkin CD, or even Organum's recent work ('Amen'). A pity that it's on cassette and not CDR - maybe I could ask for a re-issue? (FdW)