number 615
week 8


Vital Weekly, the webcast: 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!
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* noted are in this week's podcast



APM - SPRINT MILL (CD by ICR Records) *
ASS/BLOOD MUSIC (7" by Static Caravan)
FREIBAND - 298 (CDR by Tosom) *
ASHER - INTERVALS (CDR by The Land Of) *
XEDH - ARMIARMA (MP3 by Homophoni) *
DICK RAAYMAKERS - MONOGRAFIE (book by V2 publishers)



Of these two Jean-Luc Guionnet might be the busiest of the two, exploring a wide range of musical activities. He plays alto-saxophone and organ, plays free improvisation with Hubbub, saxophone quartet and Pheromone, free jazz with Return Of The New Swing and The Fish but also composes electronic music and builds sound installations. Here he teams up with Toshimaru Nakamura, the well-known improviser on the no-input mixer. In July of last year they played together two concerts of which the result can be found on 'Map'. The cover mentions 'editing' (by Toshimaru), but I wonder what he did edit. There are four tracks on this release, spanning in total some seventy minutes, which deems to me that there is hardly any edit. Very much what I wrote last week, I believe, I don't think it's necessary to document the entirety of a recording - perhaps it's part of the world of improvisation to do so, but perhaps they should consider then too that a concert is not the same as a release. So I have some reservations against this CD, which don't lie in the content of the individual pieces, which I do believe all to be great, but listened to in one, uninterrupted session is a bit too much. After two pieces it's best to take a rest and then return to it, as Guionnet and Nakamura play demanding music. Lots of free saxophone blowing, in which the saxophone is to be recognized as a saxophone and high end sounds from the no input mixer (which we might also call feedback). Demanding music, with some great beauty in it. (FdW)
Address: http://www.potlatch.fr

The Emanuel Swedenborg mentioned as one of the three performers on this CD lived in the 18th century. He claimed to have contact with angels and spirits on a daily basis, and he noted all his dreams. The scandinavian people love those kind of stories. Leif Elggren and Micheal Esposito went to the summerhouse of Swedenborg (some how I believe all people in Sweden have a summer house by the lake) and recorded sounds there. They are present on this CD along with recordings on an installation at Färgfabriken in Stockholm. They used thirty two iron plates (2x1,3 m), placed over loudspeakers with a contact microphone on top making a low frequency feedback, like a choir. It was called 'Reception'. As with all of Elggren's work it is covered with mystery. One sound piece of fifty three minutes and eighteen seconds of ongoing noise, every now and then interrupted by 'field recordings'. The noise is like a rattle, somehow covered or muffled, like the engine that doesn't get started. It's actually quite a nice CD, quite conceptual, but in all it's minimalism it's also quite enjoyable as a stand alone piece of music. (FdW)
Address: http://www.fireworkeditionrecords.com

We have to go back to Vital Weekly 289 to read about the second installment of 'Hypernatural' by Yoshio Machida, while the first was released in 1999. Machida is a man to work slow, of perhaps too busy in other fields. His music has been used for a commercial on French television, while also playing concerts which include electronics and steel drums. The latter play also a role on 'Hypernatural #3', but to recognize; for the rest its again a meeting of field recordings and 'treated instrumental sounds': piano and bass. While I was playing this CD I thought it was quite nice, but also I thought it's all something I have heard before, done better, done worse and done as good as Machida does it. What was in years ago the big hype, has turned to a normality now. It's fairly good microsounding music, a delicate line between instruments and field recordings, never dropping below the threshold of hearing, but also perhaps a bit too regular and normal now. A form that has worn out a bit by now. On a scale to ten, I'd say a good solid 7. (FdW)
Address: http://www.baskaru.com

At the southern gateway of entering the Lake District in the Cumbria district stands the Sprint Mill, the studio and workspace of one Edward Acland. I have never been there, but Colin Potter, Phil Mouldycliff and Chris Atkins (APM in short) have been. They have been recording the mill and the area surrounding it. Water running, rusty objects, stones and such like is what makes up the fifteen tracks on this CD. Rather than a drone like piece one would expect from these masters of the genre, they opt now for a more picture like scenery. Rusty metal objects, crackle of stones. Then a piece based on more water like sounds and in between small spoken bits. The electronic processing is surely present in these recordings but they are rather there to perhaps sweeten a bit of the sound and do not take the sound over - it stays a photographic reproduction of the field and not the starting point for something entirely different. Like I said, I never visited this area, but one can sense the quietness of the area, even when this work never drops below a low hearing point. Atmospheric music once again, but the great power of the work lies in the fact that it moves away from the traditional drone and ambient music, but also on the other hand it's not the usual set of field recordings either. That makes this, I think, not just a remarkable but also a beautiful CD. (FdW)
Address: http://www.icrdistribution.com

The name Nils Henrik Asheim popped up in Vital Weekly 574 when we reviewed his CD with Lasse Marhaug. Asheim is, besides an excellent player of the church organ also a well-known composer in Norway. In 2007 he released a CD, unheard here however, called 'Broken Line', with four compositions 'interspersed with short close-miked concrete improvisations. On the night the CD was presented, in beautiful Tou Scene in likewise beautiful Stavanger, Asheim invited six local electronic musicians to create a remix of whatever part they preferred from 'Broken Line'.
From the active underground scene of Stavanger we
get Sindre Bjerga, QRT, Jan-M Iversen, Anders Gjerde, HOH and Pal Asle Pettersen - who work solo and in various combinations together. Of course it's a great pity that the original 'Broken Line' release wasn't heard, which makes it a bit harder to judge the remixes. To what extend are there samples, and to what extend are things added, for instance? The end result, six solo tracks and an all group improvisation (trimmed down to seven minutes) are affairs of loops, samples and gritty electronics. Some wander into the field of rhythm like QRT and HOH, but mostly it stays in moody, atmospheric fields of music, like Iversen, but some noise is there too, by Gjerde. A nice compilation for sure that perhaps acts now as just another fine compilation, and less as a remix CD. (FdW)
Address: http://www.zang.no

Music released by Empreintes Digitales is music that seems to be made according to a matrix or certain schematics. Or so it seems. Of course it's never easy to be fully original, but with the composers/performers on Empreintes Digitales it seems that they use the same software, both editing/processing and the input is usually one or more instruments. I must admit I never heard of Laurie Radford, and yes, there are differences between him and others the two, be it, however, minor. Throughout I think that this release has certainly nice moments, but it's all way too long. It seems as if the music is put on repeat or self-generating new bits of music. Maybe there is a world out there which I just fail to see? (FdW)
Address: http://www.electrocd.com

ASS/BLOOD MUSIC (7" by Static Caravan)
A lovely Static Caravan comes around with a nice red marbled piece of vinyl with two bands on it. Ass from Sweden (and who made it to these pages before) and Blood Music. The later released before on Static Caravan, and they are no doubt nice boys. Both bands have two pieces. 'Problematique' by Blood Music is based upon guitar and vocals and is traditional singer songwriter though nothing bad about it. It's however their other song 'Don Quite' which is gorgeous: piano, organ and horns in a sorrowful tune, but with a nice down beat to it. Ass' 'It's In The Galley' is for two guitars, one being strummed, and one slide, with soft tinkle on the glockenspiel - also highly meditative. The second piece is alike that, but has sweet creepy strings in it. Great 7", of course and of course, once again. (FdW)
Address: http://www.staticcaravan.org

If I am not mistaken, this might be the very first release by Kasper van Hoek that is not presented on his own Heilskabaal Records label. Time to expand to other CDR ventures and he's right, his work is right for the next step. That is the conclusion which we can draw from his first release on Dirty Demos. Recorded in the Dutch cities of Den Haag and Groningen and the for me unknown Froombosch, he processes these field recordings with 'open source software' and thus creates microsound like music. Some of the street life leaks through, but Van Hoek effectively alienates the material beyond recognition. Quite a move away from his previous work which was more noise based, around old equipment such as tapeloops and turntables. This is quite intense music, with creepy undercurrents and even a touch of music in it (perhaps any street musicians around). This is an excellent break with the past and a major leap forward.
I never heard of Iamblichi, who is from Berlin with two net releases and a bunch of live shows under his belt. Apparently its not a solo project but a band. Their music is a mixed variation of styles, although everything is generated in the digital world here. 'Old Universe' for instance sounds like a glitch ambient piece, but not a great one. It is followed by digital distortion and then a piece for rhythmic hiss. Indeed 'all worlds' are covered here, but to be honest, I must say I wished they stayed in one or two areas and explored that really well and not try explore as many styles as possible. I think the ambient glitch material on this release has the most potential for the future. (FdW)
Address: http://www.myspace.com/dirtydemos

Two releases on a new label, at least for me, Void Of Ovals, of which Eftus Spectun was reviewed before, with their release on Public Eyesore (see Vital Weekly 520). They are from Bath/Bristol and now reduced to Kieran on drums and Oliver on guitar. They are a math rock band (they claim) and play only one piece here, a fifteen minute piece of a guitar swing which is repeated with intervals and bang on the kit, also with intervals. That goes on for some time, until finally we see some move of the material, but that arrived a bit late. The whole thing, while short, is a bit long for the amount of information it tries to get across.
Something entirely different are The Dagger Brothers, who are described as 'Wham meets King Crimson'. They sing and play electronic music, a bit mid-tempo, with strong emphasis on more melodic synthesizer lines. Not exactly what I remember of Wham and maybe, with a fair amount of fantasy, some of the song bending could be King Crimson like, but it's hardly '21st Century Schizoid Man' for a synthesizer and singer. But I must say I quite like this. The voice is dark, low and EBM like, but the music is quite light, especially when it is concerned with the synthesizers. Electro-pop of a more darker kind and certainly quite retro, certainly in their lyrics: 'do you remember the 80s?'. Everything returns it seems... (FdW)
Address: http://www.voidofovals.com

A lot of music that was once released on cassettes will never be released on a real CD, but someone once said to me recently that the CD market is rapidly disappearing anyway, so why bother about some old music? He suggested re-releasing on cassettes since that was the hype of the day. Some of the old stuff find its way to blogs sharing this kind of music, which is great but it's a MP3. Its like taking a xerox of a full color image. Luckily there are people like Lunhare, erstwhile known as b/b, an Italian cassette label in the early nineties. They relaunch their activities with the release of some of the previous cassette releases on CDR, in a cute plastic bag with excellent printed covers. Now if you don't have money that's the way to do it. Two of these three were actually released before, while Crawling With Tarts arrived too late to be released on a cassette.
Blowhole, I think, no longer exist. It was the band of Jeph Jerman (these days known as Jeph Jerman, but in the 80s as Hands To and member of City Of Worms) who played improvised music, solo, but more likely with others. Blowhole had a sound that was quite loud and percussive. Or rather, using rhythm in a non rhythm way. In the early nineties Blowhole released a whole bunch of cassettes, LPs and even a CD (or two?) which displayed the various sides very well. On 'Reassembled' we find some examples of that: objects being scraped in one track, blowing into pipes, but there is also a bigger group with a wild free jazz improvisation on guitar, concussion (which I believe is metal), violin, vocals, trumpet and drums. It's perhaps this Blowhole sound that is most well-known, but their true was in the combination of various styles of improvisation. It's been a while since I last heard anything by them, but I must say it still has some raw energy. Perhaps a bit dated, but it surely could win new fans.
I may have heard the Blowhole release back then, but I don't think I remember the release by Pangolin Orchestra, a quartet of Felice Pesavento (casiotone, Gem Rodeo 49), Stefano Noro (drums), Gio Lago (percussion) and Gi Gasparin (bass, keyboards, vocals). They too play music through improvisation, I think, but sound much more traditional. A bit rock like, a bit jazz like, naive, child-like approach. Although not bad, I must say it's also not entirely my kind of music. One way or the other it sounds quite 'Italian', like La 1919, if my recollection is serving me well. Perhaps, I don't remember it that well at all. Anyway Pangolin Orchestra may appeal to more traditional free music lovers.
Crawling With Tarts came up with the master of their release some two years after B/b stopped it's activities. 'Ludiques Manifestes' is a collection of ten tracks recorded live in concert in Oakland, and sees the line up of Micheal Gendreau (now working under his own name), Suzanne Dycus and Cliff Neighbours. They too play music through means of improvisation, and like Blowhole they have wide pattern of tunes on their plate. The first two pieces, by a street length the longest, and a free percussive/object banging affairs. In the next three tracks, Crawling With Tarts use more stringed like objects, besides the percussive rumble and things are more under 'control' here, more calm if you wish. But here it also it also forecasts a bandlike approach, which later on will return in an almost punky 'Lug Music: Lug 5' (with the right length for such a piece). A mixed bag this, but a bag full of surprises. Quite a nice document of a band that unfortunately sinked into obscurity. (FdW)
Address: http://www.lunhare.net

Hydrus have had a couple of releases before, on Narrominded, but 'Interleaves' is the first full length release by this Amsterdam duo of Herman Wilken and Almer Lücke. Although they play in rock bands too, for Hydrus it's all things electronic, crisp and clean. Over the years they have developed this sound of theirs to the max, and this album should be the final peak, at least in my humble opinion. Hydrus plays a combination of techno music with deep, melancholic synthesizers. Sometimes the accent of rhythm is pushed to the background and pure ambient takes over. It's music that goes well on labels as Highpoint Lowlife, Expanding or Boltfish and to be honest after hearing many work by these labels, it's also a style that is worn out a bit. Even when Hydrus are capable producers and engineers, it still something that I think is beyond it's date now. It's music that is in urgent need for a change, I think. The video that was made by Erik Mijwaard of Videotroopers that comes as part of this package are abstract, moving images, which work well with the abstract kind of music of Hydrus, certainly in "Flux'.
Also on Narrominded is a release by Coen Oscar Polack, who is one half of Living Ornaments and co-owner of the label. For the no-)TOON) festival 2007 in Haarlem he created a piece of music based on the heating system in De Vleeshal and that became the title piece of his release. It's the most abstract piece of the six on the release, since it doesn't use any instruments, save for a bit of saxophone towards the end. For the other pieces he uses guitar, saxophone and cymbal. The computer is an all important tool to change and recreate sounds, but throughout it's possible to recognize the original input. Polack plays an interesting mix of musique concrete, microsound and noise, between drone and rhythm. It bounces towards all directions, but curiously Polack knows how to keep control over the material and how to deliver an album that sounds both varied and coherent. The ambience of 'This Moody Sky Today' (for Joni MItchell) versus the hectic of 'Bekkende Nederlander' - that is the strength of this album.
Address: http://www.narrominded.com


FREIBAND - 298 (CDR by Tosom)
This music has been dedicated to Phill Niblock. Who is Phill Niblock? And what does his music sound like? According to the wikipedia "Niblock's music is an exploration of sound textures created by multiple tones in very dense tunings (generally microtonal in conception) performed in long durations. The layering of long tones only very slightly distinct in pitch creates a multitude of beats and generates complex overtone patterns and other fascinating psychoacoustic effects. The combination of apparently static surface textures and extremely active harmonic movement generates a highly original music that, while having things in common with early drone-based Minimalism, is utterly distinct in sound and technique. Niblock's work continues to influence a generation of musicians, especially younger players from a variety of musical genres. Niblock's compositional process often begins with recordings of single tones played by a specific musician. "
Well, that is a very accurate description of the music on Freiband's disk. So the dedication is quite apt. The first piece, for instance, starts with the recording of a single tone played on a saxophone. The recording is repeated a few times, with intermittent silences. Then, after approximately 1 minute, the repetitions start to layer. The next start is no longer áfter the previous one, but follows after a short period (0.5 second). And then a third and a fourth, etc. This builds up into a sound which is still recognizable as coming from a saxophone but the envelope slowly disappears. At first you can still hear the starts as little bumps but they slowly fade. What emerges, and I don't know whether this is a result of the process of layering itself or that it has been enhanced digitally, but what emerges is a cadence of a pitch that is somewhat higher than that of the saxophone itself. Listening closely I think it's the sound of a piano playing two notes alternatingly. Like Niblock's music it is at the same time self fulfilling and exciting. And Freiband is experienced enough to know when to stop before the effect wears out.
The second track (of three) is different because more complex. Now the original recordings are still saxophonic, but they sound like those of violins, simple strokes. Some have higher pitches, others last a little longer than others. There are only four or five different originals which are the building blocks for the composition. This has been done before, of course, and many have failed while trying. I think this one manages to remain standing on the tightrope. But it depends on your mood as a listener. I was in a quiet and patient mood while writing the review. I quite enjoyed it, imagining patterns of needles that continuously change before my eyes.
The final track features the sax again. It's a much shorter piece (5 minutes, instead of 17, respectively 19 minutes). It's a return to the looping route. That's a pity because the deja vu feeling is too much present. It also reminded me at first of the tape loop experiments of Brian Eno. And right at the moment when things become more interesting (when the loops fall apart creating space for change) the composition ends. (JS)
Address: http://www.tosom.de


The previous work by Asher was a bit of a setback for me, but with this new release he's back in shape, as far I'm concerned. This time not in the format of MP3 but real audio, on a real CDR (and blimey: The Land Of are excellent packagers of that!). Asher recorded a bunch of material at the campus of Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. It's hard to tell what, if at all, Asher did with these recordings, but one thing is sure: he spliced them apart. Unlike many of his previous releases which consist of a single piece, we have thirty nine pieces, many of them not more than a minute. The listener is recommended to play this at random (and I'd 'on repeat'), which certainly shuffles the various sections. There is pure (and untreated?) field recording material to be spotted around here, but also piano playing in the form of loosely tones. Hiss however seems to be a constant factor here as well as in much of his previous work. Like there has been a lot of erosion, or the use of a whole bunch of old ferro cassettes been used. It's an Asher trademark by now. The recomposing aspects of this release appealed lesser to me since that race was already made before, but listened to in a strict linear fashion, this is quite a fine release. Moving from the inside to the outside and back, the chirping of insects, the piano and other unidentifiable sounds make this one of the best Asher releases so far. Great! (FdW)
Address: http://thelandof.org

XEDH - ARMIARMA (MP3 by Homophoni)
The ever so active Miguel A Garcia returns here, this time solo, after a recent flurry of collaborative activities, armed with a sine generator, microphone and a mixer. It's never easy to tell with the music of Xedh if it's been entirely improvised or perhaps it is multi-track/mixed/edited. Somehow I think it's the case here with this new solo release that he in fact made various recordings and mixed them together. 'Armiarma' is a two part composition, which has a loud(er) first section and a very quiet second part. The sine waves used in the first are earpiercing, even when played on a moderate volume, and is too much 'old' Xedh for me, but in the second part it's all new territory, and the quiet approach suits him quite well, I think. Soft, but outspoken he moves through his material in a most intelligent way. Perhaps not as new under the microsun, but he does a more than fine job with the material at hand. (FdW)
Address: http://www.homophoni.com

Incite is a German duo, from Hamburg, who travel a lot. When on the road they can perform together as Incite, but also supporting themselves with two solo acts, Axiomatic Integration and Grad Com. The latter, the male half of Incite, now played forty-five times since June 2004 and it's time to reflect on those forty-five shows, as the idea of Grad Com is a simple one: in the place where he perform he searches for a sound, any sound, samples it and plays around with it on his laptop. More a live project than a studio project. The sources here are a sitar, a whiskey glass with ice, a bottle cooler, a plastic water bottle, but also a 12" record and "an unattentive audience chatting'. Several of the pieces are collaborations with others, such as Gregory Büttner and Koutaru Fukui, as well as a studio improvisation with harp player Rhodri Davies. A working method that reminded me a bit of Aube, using a single sound source and even when Grad Com works entirely in the digital world, there is also some other similarity with Aube. In the end it doesn't matter what kind of sound source is used, as the various processing start sounding similar. Partly, perhaps, due to the software and plug ins used and the idea behind every track: have some sounds running and loops them around, while applying various filters. I thought as a documentation of all those concerts this is actually quite a nice bunch of pieces, with some overlap to eachother. The studio piece however showed the way out, as this a break from the live tracks and certainly a road to explore. (FdW)
Address: http://www.gradcom.org

DICK RAAYMAKERS - MONOGRAFIE (book by V2 publishers)
When Dutch institute NEAR announced the release of a Dick Raaymakers anthology in the form of 3 CDs, I was delighted. When Basta announced a 5CD set of Raaymakers (and others) "entertainment" music I was excited. So can you imagine what happened when I learned V2 was about to publish a book on the theatrical works of the most important composer/artist/conceptualist of the Netherlands? So I ordered my copy right away and spend some time since receiving it to read and look through it. It's not a book to read from beginning to end, but rather something to flip through, read about a work and look at the various images and then put it aside for a while. I must say I am quite disappointed by this book. It's very dry material and it never becomes alive. Many, if not all, work by Raaymakers in theatre (and some installation pieces) are comments on events from the past. Mao, Mussolini, Laurel & Hardy, Etienne-Jules Marey but also Glenn Gould or Pierre Boulez. Falling is one important theme in his work. The fall of Mussolini, the fall in the films of Laurel & Hardy. Scientific matters. Highly thought out work, very conceptual. Without a concept, no piece of art. Much of his work is a comment on that, an enlargement of events, a detailed look. It's his line of work, but I wish it was something more of his own. His 'Intona' piece for the destruction of twelve microphones is one such thing of his own. I saw this being performed in V2 and it sounded great. Sadly it wasn't on the three CD set and the description is nice, but, and here we come to another objection against the book: it's book, the most stabile of all media, presented by V2, once the propagator of Unstable Media. Why no DVD so we could see the action moving? I am sure some of this must have been filmed. Or a website? Why the form of a book? One thing that struck me also was this: since their start in the early part of the 80s, V2 presented concerts by Laibach, Sonic Youth, Test Dept, SBOTHI, P16.D4, Etant Donnes, The Hafler Trio, Kapotte Muziek, THU20 (some of these not pure as musical events but part of bigger multi-media events as was the tone of the day) and such like, but it seems that over the years music has been moved out of the world of V2. They stopped their shop/mailorder and closed the label. Music these days for V2 is either the demonstration of yet another new technological aspect of working with computers or internet or the after thought after hard day of talking and developing new technologies (for whatever application in art), music that is no longer 'experimental'. At the end of the day when we all want to relax and talk we want some more pleasant 4/4 techno beat with an exotic touch of experimentalism. The world of visual art in general never cares much for experimental music, which is usually to be found irritating noise on a volume level that is too loud - all in my private and humble experience as such. So why a book on Raaymakers? With nothing to see moving before your eyes, or anything to hear? Is it perhaps because V2 has become too much a part of the real art world, they are now the institute which their instability should or could have prevented them from ever becoming one? And if this review stirred some interest to you, but you don't read Dutch: too bad, this book is only in Dutch. The good thing is the fairly traditional design, which makes this a delight for the eyes. (FdW)
Address: http://www.dickraaijmakers.nl/