number 686
week 28


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. We finally have a feed again. 1000x times to Maximillian for his endless patience & help. Its here: http://www.vitalweekly.net/podcast.xml


PETER HANSEN - WORLD NEWS (CD by Everest Records) *
FOUST! - JUNGLE FEVER (CD by Swill Radio) *
TROUM - EALD GE STREON (2CD by Beta Lactam-ring Records)
DIMMER - REMISSIONS (2LP by Isounderscore)
OBFUSC - INVERTED ISLAND (7" by Static Caravan)
CTEPHIN - LIBER XXXI (3CDR by R.O.N.F. Records) *
ARNAU SALA - LA JOIA D'AGREDIR (cassette by Circuit Torcat)


PETER HANSEN - WORLD NEWS (CD by Everest Records)
One of the things I like to do while listening to music is to read nice easy books about music and it doesn't matter how often I read them. So it happened that a while ago I was reading one of the three books on classical music I have, Ornella Volta's nice book on Erik Satie (the other two being about Bartok and Dvorak in case you are wondering) and with a trip ahead which involved a lot of traveling and waiting, I thought it would be good to have Reinbert de Leeuw's interpretation of Satie's masterpieces on my Ipod. A good choice: in Helsinki I managed to fall asleep listening to his slow play. None of this petite personal histoire should be of interest had it not that I was thinking about that while listening to Hildegard Kleeb playing piano pieces by Peter Hansen. He started composing 'World News' in 1991 as a sort of jingles, signals or an imaginary radio. I was thinking why so much of this piano music sounds like Satie? The same slowness, the same 'background' music - furniture music if you wish (according to Satie's more famous pieces), introvert in character. Spacious music that works very nice as a backdrop to whatever you are doing - reading a book in my case that is (not the Satie book, as I finished that one). If you like Satie, Debussy, old Gavin Bryars or Harold Budd, and you just can't get enough of that, then this is an excellent new name to add to atmospheric piano music. Great performance, great recording. (FdW)
Address: http://www.everestrecords.ch

Little over a year ago (Vital Weekly 618), I reviewed 'A Heart Against Your Own' by The Rational Academy, among the first releases on Someone Good, the pop division of Room40. Benjamin Thompson is still part of the band, among various other people, but not Meredith McHugh, whose voice played an important role on the previous release. 'Swans' is the second release in a new series called '!0 Songs In 20 Minutes' and is again a pop delight with a nice experimental edge to it. Short songs of course, but always to the point. There is nothing too much here, and throughout it seems to me that the music is a bit more rock like than electronic, as before it seemed the other way around. Lots of variety here, finely woven pop tunes, but there is always there ragged edge of experimental music lurking around the corner, and that makes this especially enjoyable. Crazy to be Vital-like, pop-like to be crazy enough. 20 Songs In 40 minutes would have been nice too. (FdW)
Address: http://www.someonegood.org

FOUST! - JUNGLE FEVER (CD by Swill Radio)
In April of this year Scott Foust toured Europe, presenting his feature film 'Here's To Love', his 'Four Accomplishments' performance and a series of concerts as The Tobacconists, as well as recording a great, yet unreleased LP, of that moniker. 'Jungle Fever' is a new piece which he started last year and after his return to the USA completed for release on CD. If you know his musical career, from the early XX Committee days to Idea Fire Company and some of the smaller side steps, then I think 'Jungle Fever' might be something of a surprise, and perhaps not. Its a single piece, lasting seventy seven minutes and is best, perhaps, a stab in the back of minimal music. There is a bumpy rhythm, and there is bird/insect/jungle sounds. That's it. Quite dull. But that's merely deception. At one point you get sucked into the rhythm and the sounds, which seem to become more and more until all of a sudden at thirty-two minutes the rhythm is gone, and we are left in a very subtle drone land. We stay there for quite some time and then we move into the third section of the piece, which seems to me a slight rework of Foust's tour CDR release 'Last Morning Rain'. The middle section is perhaps the most Foust like section, reminding us of the best Idea Fire Company work ('Beauty School' for instance), even when its more stripped down and minimal. The other two sections are also minimal, but hardly with electronic means, certainly the third section. This is perhaps what we don't expect him to do. In all, this is a highly environmental work. Not just because it uses sounds from the environment (birds, rain, insects), but also because the work is a sound environment by itself. Play this, not to loud, as part of your environment and you'll be immersed in it. Sounds from the disc will collide with sounds from your environment (summer rain in my case!) and each time you play this something new will happen. Great work from a true master mind. (FdW)
Address: http://www.anti-naturals.org/swill/

Music of an entirely free nature which includes the old master of improvised music Evan Parker on tenor saxophone and a group named Marteau Rouge (red hammer in case you are wondering), which is Jean-Francois Pauvros on guitars and voice, Jean-Marc Foussat on VCS3 synthesizer and voice and Makoto Sato on drums. Together they plays at Sunset in Paris on the 10th of January 2008 and the result has been edited into eight pieces which last seventy-five minutes no less. Normally I am not too keen on things free-jazz, and I thought I'd be passing this on to Dolf Mulder, but once I stuck it on I kept listening. Parker uses his circular breathing technique to create long sustained saxophone sounds, while Marteau Rouge plays nicely aggressive and amplified, almost like a furious free rock band, but without any strong rhythm or beat. And then, all of a sudden, they pull back, take control and charge, and play soft and introvert. I must admit that I thought it was all a bit long for so much musical information, and for me half the trip would have been equally satisfying, but maybe the lengthy form of such improvisations are part of the game? Not bad, even for someone who is not up to speed with the current trends in free-jazz. (FdW)
Address: http://www.allumesdujazz.com

TROUM - EALD GE STREON (2CD by Beta Lactam-ring Records)
As you may know Troum is old German for Traum, which in return is modern German for dream. Using music as a path to the unconscious, hypnotizing dream-like state, Troum (previously known as Maeror Tri) has been around for quite some years and its members Stefan Knappe and Martin Gitschel have released a continuous stream of vinyl and CD's. Some of their work, previously hidden in the Troum archive, has been made available on this curiously-titled double CD. The first CD (featuring recordings dating 2001-2008) features 7 long tracks adding up to a generous 58+ minutes of music. The appetizing packaging (a heavy carton gatefold cover with glossy print) lists all the recording and performance details of each track, so I won't go into much detail here. Tracks like Elation feature deep drones with full synthesizer (?) chord shapes. Usque Sumus is much lighter by nature and adds a slightly out-of-rhythm percussion, which gives the track an uneasy feeling. Then the titles become confusing; I'm not sure which title belongs to track 3 or track 4, but to the music that does not matter much. Track 3 is a beautiful piece, full of harmonic drones. Just the stuff I like! Track 4 has what sounds like a sample from the Master Musicians of Joujouka, but it could also be a sample from a German schlager singer (as the cover information notes this track is dedicated to one - I wonder which one?), so I could be wrong. There are intensive sounds with only little development. Track 6 is where I can match title with song, it's Procession, a cover of the Savage Republic track with muddled vocals and percussion. Very nice. The 15+ minutes that form Crescere are made up out of ambient sounds that develop into a full dense sound with little room to breathe. A classic Troum piece. CD2 features the brand-new recording Abhuna, 30 minutes of restrained sparse droning. If you like Troum, you will certainly not be disappointed by the music on offer here. If you are unfamiliar with Troum, their music is almost archetypical drone-industrial with heavy layers of treated reverbed sound created by both electronic and acoustic instruments. There are 1000 copies of Eald Ge Streon, of which the first 500 come with the Abhuna bonus CD. The gorgeous artwork is by Stephen O'Malley (famous for Sun O)))). (FK)
Address: http://www.blrrecords.com

From time to time reviews of releases by Mutable
Music appear in Vital Weekly. It is the label run by vocalist Thomas Buckner who ran the legendary 1750 Arch Records in an earlier life. Most releases have Buckner contributing to it, but that is not the case on 'Local Customs;, a new CD by Tom Hamilton. Hamilton composes and performs already some 40 years. In the 60s he developed his interest for electronic music. He is a long member of the ensemble of Robert Ashley, participated in groups led by Peter Zummo, David Soldier, a.o. Recently a collaboration with guitarsit Bruce Eisenbeil has been released by Pogus. For 'Local Customs' he invited Terry Kippenburger (bass), Rich O'Donnell (percussion), Richard Cohen (clarinet), James Martin (trombone ) and Jacqueline Martelle (flute). Hamilton himself plays electronics. The five compositions were written with the help of techniques he developed in 2005. It is more appropriate to speak of five parts of one composition, as the music presents itself as one continuous unity. Waves of electronic sounds come and pass by, seemingly independent from each other, but you expect them to be interlinked in a one way or the other. Within these waves short runs of drums, flute, et appear. Strange but accessible and engaging music. It is difficult to determine 'where' this music comes from and how it is constructed. But these are questions you will forget when you listen to this pure music. (DM)
Address: http://www.mutablemusic.com/

Reading the name of Phil Kline means thinking back of that new wave band with the beautiful name The Del-Byzanteens, a band that also had Jim Jarmusch among its members. Their LP and singles still circulate in my house! I don't know much about Kline's later whereabouts. He profiled himself as a composer and gained success with his project 'Zippo's Song' (2004). A song-cycle based on poems written by American soldiers while fighting in Vietnam. Now he returns again with a very special project. The double dvd-audio carries a high-resolution surround sound recording, promising a very special audio experience. It took some time before I had the opportunity to undergo this experience, as my old equipment was not fashioned to play these two discs. 'Around the World in A Daze' is a song cycle in 10 episodes, lasting some 65 minutes.
From the title you may deduce that space is a
keyword in this production. Recordings for this project were done all over the world. But besides Kline is very interested in the spacial aspects of music and sound. He played with these aspects by using whole sets of boomboxes for the recording of most tracks. Besides this main interest, other musical items led him by constructing ten very different works. The lengthiest piece 'Pennies from Heaven' is the one I liked most. Because of the sound and because of the structure of the piece. The same descending scale is repeated and repeated again, transposed and multiplied, etc. The constant downward movement is very imaginative and brings about a meditative state. Also the opening piece 'The Housatonic at Henry Street' fascinates because of its multilayered and detailed soundspectrum. Other pieces use the human voice as the most important material, like 'The Wailing Wall' resurrected by the voice of Kline himself. Two other pieces have the violin in the center: 'Svarga yatra' and 'Grand Etude for the Elevation'. The beautiful concluding piece is built from field recordings done in Central Africa. Tracks differ also because for the different structuring principles that are used. But as said the pieces impress above all because of their soundqualities and spatial characteristics. Each piece is accompanied by its own series of photos. Nice photos often. From urban environments, to nature, etc, etc. But I didn't need them for enjoying the music, nor the other way around. And I couldn't bridge them in my imagination. While listening I felt a bit 'imprisoned' by looking at the same time at the pictures. Well, this also a spatial effect I guess. The second dvd has an extensive interview with Kline commenting on each piece. This gives a good insight in what Kline had in mind. Congratulations for Starkland for releasing this extraordinary and well-documented release. (DM)
Address: http://www.starkland.com/

DIMMER - REMISSIONS (2LP by Isounderscore)
It may sound like a new name, and half of it also is. Dimmer is a duo of Thomas Dimuzio and one Joseph Hammer. This double LP set is the follow up to a CD on Melon Expander which I didn't hear. Each of the four sides has a live recording, three from 2006 and one from 2007. Dimmer uses live sampling, processing, feedback, looping (Dimuzio) and tape manipulation and processing (Hammer). This is pretty interesting music. All four pieces show something that could be labeled as 'band sound'. The careful tape manipulations of Hammer, making the tape go 'wobbly' against the heads, set against a scary set of subdued electronics. A record to turn up the volume as things seem rather 'low' here, but once a bit louder reveal a lot of hidden detail. Scary, spooky stuff, with dark atmospheric undercurrent. Of the four pieces 'Giant Eagle' is my favorite here with its somewhat more clear tape sounds, and scraping, feedback like rusty metal sound, whereas the other three seem to be moving more along side one specific idea and are throughout more minimal. Excellent sci-fi soundtrack stuff at work here, save then perhaps for the piece I like which works really fine by itself. An excellent record. (FdW)
Address: http://www.isounderscore.com

When I played this set of remixes over the weekend, my ten year old daughter started complaining about the dullness of the music - which was kinda surprising as she, at times, likes weird music. Now that she's out of the way, I listen more closely and can see why she would say that. Balmorhea's 'Rivers Arms' CD (see Vital Weekly 611) sounded like chamber ambient piece, for cello, piano, violin, guitar and some sound effects and it was quite nice but also a bit too much of the same for a too long period. Now with a remix it would have been possible to take the material into a different territory and bring some of that necessary variation in it, and that's something that doesn't happen. Despite the fact that we have pieces by Eluvium, Rafael Anton Isissari, Tiny Vipers, Bexar Bexar, Machinefabriek, The Fun Years, Library Tapes, Jacazek, Helios, Peter Broderick and Xela, things sound so similar in the remix approach. That might not be a deliberate approach from the artists of course (assuming there is no preconceived plan to do so among these eleven artists), but maybe the label should have tried to find some others and make it more varied. Not bad altogether, but again too much of the same thing. (FdW)
Address: http://www.westernvinyl.com

Back in Vital Weekly 663 I reviewed a nice but odd (or should that be nice and odd?) LP by Red Stars Over Tokyo from Belgium, who seemed to found inspiration in early 4AD, Factory and Les Disques Du Crepuscule. Here he writes us that 'I started working on this record wanting to created [sic] the minimal techno vibe of Kompakt... and failed', which is of course a funny thing to say, and also besides the truth. Unless we think (we should think) he failed terrible. Much like the previous record it dwells on lots of synthesizers, piano, some rhythm (no techno in a mile) and is just very pleasant music. For a day like today, with lots of hot air, blazing sun and warm nights, this is the perfect record when the sun is down. Zip a cocktail (never at work of course, so a glass of cool water), pick a book, or simply watch day turn night when listening these eleven tracks. Tracks here are a bit longer than on 'I Never Gave Up (Because I Never Started)', which actually works a bit better. The sketch like approach is perhaps nice for one record, but should not be repeated too often and in favor should be some more worked out composition, which is the case here. Recorded at home when the kids were off to school. How nice. Belgium's finest home brew. (FdW)
Address: http://www.myspace.com/RedStarsOverTokyo

OBFUSC - INVERTED ISLAND (7" by Static Caravan)
Music by Obfusc was reviewed before, but a long time ago, in Vital Weekly 539, when I was also introduced to the Boltfish label. Joseph X. Burke is Obfusc, from Brooklyn, New York, who in these two tracks shows his more mellow side. On that previous, old release his music with more arpeggio's and harsher, stomping rhythms, but here the guitar seems to be leading the way and are set in quite a melancholic background of warm, tinkling synthesizers and a mild, pleasant rhythm. A pity that the proceedings are so short. I could have easily enjoyed another three or four of these. That's perhaps the only negative aspect of this record. Otherwise: top. More, please! (FdW)
Address: http://www.staticcaravan.com

When I spot things like 'Liber XXXI' I always approach them with care, as I am never too fond of all those magickal, psychik things. When released by RONF it's bound to be noise, but hey its not. Ctephin is a duo of StF and Aedria, who are responsible for the music. Three hours and some minutes actually, all dealing with Crowley's 'The Book Of The Law' and me thinks that's a bit overdone, even when all three have a distinct different sounds. Book III is obviously the noise end of things whereas Book I the ambient side. Book II lies somewhere in between those ends. But which CDs being more than an hour its all a bit much, certainly Book III is a heavy volume in that respect. Each of the books suffers a bit of too much of the same idea. Once you get the ambient drift of Ctephin playing around with guitars and sound effects, say when half the disc is done, there is not much need to get the other half too. Which goes for the other two releases as well. the nice thing is that they seem to be using different instruments per book, although for II and III its hard to specify that - as the covers aren't always that clear in that respect. I think when these fifty copies are gone, it would be a wise thing to make a selection of all three, picking the best tracks and release a really nice and varied release. Some of these pieces deserve to be heard in a broader context. Nice but too much. (FdW)
Address: http://www.ronfrecords.com

There is no name mentioned for D'Incuse from Geneva, Switzerland, but its basically one guy who started out in 2002, armed with a sampler. First in dub and electronica, but later on in more abstract music. Now he is part of the Audio Activity Collective, mostly a netlabel, but the release 'Les Lendemains Etendus' has a cover, so maybe its also available as a CDR. He samples acoustic musicians and creates his own pieces of music with that. Here it seems to be mostly a band named Diatribes, a free jazz group. I must say its hard to tell, which is what sound here, but in general he does quite a nice job. Nicely bumpy music, highly abstract, yet also dwelling heavily on rhythm, pitching thing up and down the scale. One problem however is that some of the pieces tend to sound similar. Variation is something that this release lacks a bit, and it would have worked better if D'Incise would have left off a couple of pieces and made a stronger 3"CDR release. Throughout not bad however. Certainly a guy to approach for a remix, I'd say. (FdW)
Address: http://www.audioactivity.net

Not much info to go by here. The artist is called Anastasia Vronski and the twenty-two minute piece 'The Spell' is her first release, on Date With A Corpse label. That sounds like gross name of course. The music is described by herself as a '(drone) piece I made with guitar, synth and voice'. I must admit I didn't get very excited about this release. Its a bit noisy, a bit minimal and yes, perhaps that does classify as 'drone' in some parts of this world, but the looped sequences of guitar, feeding through some boxes in two parts that are cut as one track is just not good enough. Not entirely bad either, but just perhaps a bit too naive and 'easy'. It leaves enough space for development I think, but Vronski should perhaps first consider what it is that she wants with her music, rather than just putting bits on a CDR with not much structure or idea. (FdW)

Besides playing in The Striggles, Code Inconnu, Automassage or Duo Ade, Kauders plays solo music on his guitar, effects and sequencer. Various bands, various musical styles, and I haven't heard them all, but The Striggles I did (and didn't like). Here he starts out with the sequencer which he thought was close to dance music, but treated with effects so that in the end they aren't dance music alike. On top he adds guitar, maybe heavily treated vocals, and this is results in zombie dance music, with quite slow rhythms, distorted guitar solos. Not bad, but it works best if he adds a psychedelic, organ like sound to the music, and make things more 'popmusic' alike. This he doesn't always do, but when he does, the music makes a quantum leap forward. If he doesn't, it stays behind in a doodle, an excercise or sometimes a failed experiment. This makes this album to limp. I think I would preferred just the pop end of this, and then shorter to be more powerful than it is now, even when that pop end might be a bit too poppy for Vital Weekly. (FdW)
Address: http://www.kauders.mur.at

Hey! 'Oceans Of Silver & Blood' by Joachim Nordwall & Mark Wastell? Didn't we already review that? Back in Vital Weekly 655? Yes, we did, but this version was recorded 'Live At Cafe Oto', the new hang-out of London's finest improv people. Maybe they read my previous review which concluded with: "At thirty-three minutes perhaps a bit short: I would have loved another one." Here as one piece, instead of two, with (I assume) the same instruments: Nordwall on a Roland S100 Modular Synth and Mark Wastell who plays a 32" Paiste Tam Tam. The drone piece here last forty some minutes and falls apart in two parts. A lengthy dark opening sequence, with long sustaining sounds on both the tam tam and the synths, with very occasional bang against the tam. Then the piece dies out, which I think happens with lots of this kind of music around twenty five minutes. There is some searching and then picks up again and works in a strong crescendo to a more noisy hilltop, showing a somewhat different perspective of the possibilities they have. Another fine piece, and with those two angles the perfect length. (FdW)
Address: http://www.sound323.com

Two new releases by the Dutch Databloem label, and both contains artists I never heard of. The first is an odd duet between Steve Stoll, who plays minimal techno and cello player Jeff Green. Two lengthy live cuts and four studio pieces. Unusual indeed. I am sure in what way the cello sounds are manipulated by Stoll, if at all, or perhaps by Green himself. I am hopeless when it comes to pointing out anything minimal techno, as I lost interest already a while ago, when it wasn't as hip as it became later on. Or, as a matter of fact, anything trend in the world of techno music (what is dubstep anyway? I keep wondering, but no doubt its something old packed as anew). The unusual marriage works... well... it works. I find it hard to say wether I like it or not. Its certainly entertaining, its certainly weird enough but I don't see myself dancing to it. Or someone else. A piece like 'Kites' with its absence of drum sounds might be a good set opener. An odd combination indeed, but its sure nice enough.
More traditional in approach is Krzystof Orluk from Poland. Aside from the usual gadgets he uses such as digital machines and field recordings, he loves to add orchestral sounds from old vinyl, pianos, synthesizers and bells. Especially the love of crackling vinyl is well spend on him, as its a feature that return in various pieces on his 'Blurred Reflection' album. This is ambient music with the big A. Deep synthesizer movements, bits of crackling, vinyl hiss. With the thunder rolling outside every now and then, but no rain and still warm inside (doors are open), it mixes nicely with the ambience of Orluk. Spacious music of course, which is best enjoyed at a hot summer night - like tonight. Like with lots of this music, there isn't much new under the sun, but this is fine enough. (FdW)
Address: http://www.databloem.com

ARNAU SALA - LA JOIA D'AGREDIR (cassette by Circuit Torcat)
Although I don't think I ever heard of Arnau Sala from Barcelona, he has been active, as drummer in improvised bands such Omegaconco and Les Aus, a music festival and with releases on lots of label I neither of, like Gravity, Faux Pas, Scumbag Relations, Widowspeak, Gold Standard Labs as well as Glasvocht and Nosordo (the only two names I recognized). He also played with Mark Cunningham, Lydia Lunch and Mattin - to name a varied bunch. Here he has six pieces, which are all quite different. Some of these are purely improvised with electronics and feedback, whilst others involve drums and guitars. This means that this release doesn't make up its mind. Side two opens with a collaboration with Juan Matos Capote and its a pretty chaotic noise affair which is also a bit too long. But then 'La Forca' on the same side is a nice stomping industrial noise piece. Gert-Jan Prins is copied in 'Viure Per Punxar', and 'Blasfemia Primitiva' is a sort of sound poetry meets noise. The best piece is 'Obstacles Coherents' with radio waves and a suppressed tension. Not bad altogether, but not great either. (FdW)
Address: http://www.circuittorcat.com

A while ago I was cleaning out darker corners of the house and found a bunch of floppy discs, with fonts and perhaps samples from an ancient sampler I still have somewhere. I have no more means to check these out, so I threw them all away. And as you can see there is a problem when it comes to reviewing Jliat's 'Beethoven Noise 1st Movement'. No doubt inspired by recent releases on USB sticks, Jliat returns to the main carrier of information which seemed to have vanished now, but was so big in the late 80s, to the late 90s. Or perhaps even in the new millennium. I wish I could tell what is on there. I could guess, knowing what Jliat does, but I won't. 'What's that', my daughter asked. 'A piece of history', I answered and explained that we live times that simply go very fast, and what is great, hip and new, might be gone soon. We only have to wait for a few years (or less), before Merzbow releases a 3 terrabyte hard drive with all his recorded output as 24 bit audio. Perhaps Jliat responses wisely to that with a 5" floppy then. Less is more. (to be continued?) (FdW)
Address: http://www.jliat.com