number 691
week 33


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



WANDER - WANDER (CD by Divine Frequency Records) *
SIL MUIR (CD by Diophantine Discs) *
RMSONCE - REFLECTIONS (CD by Medusa Music) *
GOH LEE KWANG - HANDS (CD by Herbal Records) *
WE INSIST! - THE BABEL INSIDE WAS TERRIBLE (CD by Exile On Mainstreet Records)
BICAMERAL MIND - HALF MAST (CDR by Blondena Music) *
ZEN 2099 - THE DROWING (CDR by Backwards Records) *
BLACK 13 KREW - WANDERER OF THE WASTE (CDR by Backwards Records) *
NONNON - THE ENTITLEMENT GENERATION (cassette by Automation Records) *
HOPEN - THE SHARK'S WIFE (cassette by Automation Records) *


Much to my surprise it seemed that Anne Laplantine was reviewed before in Vital Weekly, but somehow I don't think she was. Maybe under her other aliases, like Michiko Kusaki, Angelika Kohlermann or Anne Hamburg. Odd, but then perhaps I never heard her music properly. This new one is an odd release. On one hand we find Laplantine playing electronic popmusic in a baroque fashion, using lo-fi samples of flute, guitar, drum machine and voice, but then there are also pieces of 'silence', thirty-four to be precise, ranging from four to twenty seconds. Not entirely silent, but the seconds after a recording has been finished, or about to start. A strange release: the popmusic in a baroque style sound fine, not great but they have a strange captivating appeal. That can not be said of the experimental sound pieces that pop up every now and then. I do think that an album with just the baroqueness would have been a bit much, but the overall experimental character of the album is a bit naff. Quite lo-fi in approach, but also a bit weak on the idea side. I mean, who would care about the fact that this album has fifty-eight tracks? I didn't notice it, until I read the press text (I don't make a habit out of glancing at CD players). Unless you regard the whole CD as a long radio play like work, maybe it works then... but now, for me, it doesn't do much. (FdW)
Address: http://www.ahornfelder.de

WANDER - WANDER (CD by Divine Frequency Records)
When Beequeen decided to stop making drones, Wander was born and since the year 2000, this duo of Frans de Waard and Freek Kinkelaar has been producing output on an annual basis. Originally with the intent to release their music on every format only once, but apparently the choice in formats is limited with regard to their vast growing range of works (as this is a second time on CD, after 2005's release on Small Voices). But alas, words are just a temporary explanation of reality and we are not picky!
As ever the release itself is simply titled Wander and organ drones lay again at the foundation of this album. The CD is divided into two tracks and that does not live up to what it might suggest. It starts off with airy hiss and rumble, while a steady organ drone slowly rises up along the way; getting stronger in force and eventually slowly fading away into a more silent passage. After that a new movement in the piece shows it face: a fieldrecording of crickets guided by low end pulses that secretly take us into that second track and it's not before a louder organ sequence starts to play when you actually realize that you've reached yet another movement. And that will happen again... and again. So it's more like one long track instead of the earlier supposed two. With lots of dynamics to keep it exciting and a very pleasant listen at the same time. Oh yes, yet another fine example in that ever growing line of Wander releases. (SDT)
Address: http://www.divinefrequency.com/

SIL MUIR (CD by Diophantine Discs)
There has been only one previous track by Sil Muir, the collaborative effort between Andrea Marutti (otherwise known as Amon and Never Known, also responsible for running Afe Records) and Andrea 'Ics' Ferraris (also known as Ur, Airchamber3 and Ulna) on a compilation CD which didn't make much sense to me (see Vital Weekly 672), but it was a nice long ambient piece of synthesized guitar sounds. Here they arrive with their first CD. It lists Ferraris for 'all guitars' and Marutti for "all treatments". Perhaps that's already an indication where to look for the music: the darker corners of ambient music, what was once called Isolationist music. Vidna Obmana meets Thomas Köner, I'd say. Mirror meets Monos, perhaps. That sort of thing. Long stretched out dark clouds, shimmering in the almost dark night. Nightfall music. 'We Don't Need Time, We're Already In Eternity', the closing piece takes a while to get going, but once started it hoovers along the dark walls of almost inaudible sound. One might argue there is not much 'new' going on here, and that is true. Sil Muir don't change the course of musical history, but in stead they further deepen the sound carves already there in this dark ambient field, and as such they do a truly great job. A mighty fine disc of dark drones, ambient and a totally isolated feel. (FdW)
Address: http://discs.diophantine.net

Behind the strangely named Hapsburg Braganza we find one Phil Begg from Newcastle, who ended up on Belgiums Idiosyncratics, because 'he was playing in every corner of the country during the summer of 2006', armed with effect pedals, loopers, microphones, various objects and a mobile mono soundsystem'. I don't think I came across his name before, but the forty minute piece 'Hatchling' is indeed a very fine piece. The cover lists such instruments as Indian Harmonium, cymbals, acoustic guitar, piano, acoustic/concrete sounds and field recordings, which are specified on the cover). Somewhere there is mighty rainfall to be spotted, but otherwise the listed instruments aren't that easy to spot in this piece. The piece falls apart in three separate parts, which all flow into each other. The first part deals with electro-acoustic sounds, the second with the aforementioned water sounds and then finally a drone piece for overtones. The label calls this 'the heritage of Francisco López and Charlemagne Palestine', which is quite understandable, especially when it comes to the drone piece that sounds like Palestine at his organs. The rain sounds are perhaps too obvious to be Lopez like I think. Overall, Begg does quite a fine job, and his piece, though not 'new', is one with a remarkable beauty. Moving and morphing into various genres, musique concrete, field recordings, minimalist music, this is one solid sound experience. Very nice work! (FdW)
Address: http://www.idiosyncratics.net

Quite some time ago I coined the term microwave for a specific kind of music that involved analogue and digital processing of sounds with a slightly rhythmic feel to it - well, or a lot. I think it was in a review of music by Frank Bretschneider, so perhaps you get my drift. The term never made it big, although I have seen it used elsewhere, but I haven't used it myself in some time. However it popped right up when I was listening to the album of Francesc Marti from Barcelona. He is working as a mathematician, pianist, composer and video artist. Its quite a nice album, a bit raw, and perhaps that's why I was thinking of microwave, because at that time, maybe ten years ago, things where also a bit more 'rough' (computers not being that sophisticated, analogue synths). Marti uses with, I think at least, both ends, the analogue synth sounds and the digital processing of sounds. The result is, as said, quite raw and playful. In these nine tracks, rhythms can originate from some synths, but also, as in 'Sky, Stars And A Woman With A Battery' from sampled IDM. Marti moves into a variety of musical interests - a bit of IDM, a bit of ambient, some glitch, some Pan Sonic like rhythms - but oddly, or perhaps finely, he knows how to keep things together. A diverse album for sure, but not one that is too diverse. Moody, a with a touch of darkness over all the tracks, this is absolutely a lovely CD. Not as new, or as experimental, but maybe with elegance and pleasure. (FdW)
Address: http://www.medusamusic.net

GOH LEE KWANG - HANDS (CD by Herbal Records)
So far we have heard Goh Lee Kwang playing no input mixers in a variety of releases, on CD, CDR and MP3, but somehow I think this new release is something a bit different. It says composed, performed, recorded between 2005-2008 on the cover, and it seems, somehow, somewhere to me, that he uses instruments here. Synthesizers perhaps, sound effects may be. I might however be totally wrong about this. You never know for sure when its not told, right. He plays these however in his usual style. Goh Lee Kwang is a man who likes his things to be forceful, present but not necessarily superloud. More direct, in your face. His approach in these nine tracks is that of stutter, stop and play. It seems (again, it seems, I know), he approaches one set of sounds and plays with them. A bit like serious avant-garde electronic music but then fully improvised. MEV solo, if that is something you can imagine - well, I surely can. This is not music that you could play 'just for fun' for a while, but something that requires you full awareness. Otherwise I think one can easily be annoyed by it. But if you set yourself to it, then it unfolds a pleasant sort of rawness. The beauty of power, and the sadness of decay. A very fine work, perhaps the best I heard from him so far. (FdW)
Address: http://www.herbalinternational.tk

WE INSIST! - THE BABEL INSIDE WAS TERRIBLE (CD by Exile On Mainstreet Records)
Actually I am glad I got this, so I can get something of my chest. There is so much stuff that I truly dislike. Exile on Mainstreet, as well as the rest of The Rolling Stones works, isn't worth the material it is pressed up on. So why would you want to call your label after one of their records eludes me. We Insist! are called 'rock, noise, free jazz, avant-garde, psychedelic, math rock, punk and metal' and are compared to Tool, Queens Of The Stone Age, At The Drive-On, Primus, King Crimson, and that's the only band I seem to have heard of it. Or perhaps even liked when I was 13, and impressed with musicians 'who could actually play their instruments well'. Actually I do admit having 'In The Court Of The Crimson King'. On CD. I do hear noise, rock and all the other genres in We Insist!, but perhaps I am too old for this children's version of anything 'alternative' - probably its well liked at 3voor12 (if you don't know what that is, that's fine), that alternative market for mass youth culture here in The Netherlands. Call me old (oh, no, I promised not to say that again), call me an elitist, but music is not a commodity to be sold en masse to the 'kids'. I, underground bastard, hope never to hear from either band or label.
Address: http://www.weinsist.com

Last month Zack Kouns was almost around my corner, playing an outdoor show, which missed. Not because of the heavy rain fall but I wasn't in town that night. Extrapool's description was rather vague, but looking at the press text Ownness send along with the LP, I can short of grasp where they found such vagueness: in the description of this record. Kouns made this album for the king of pop, for the master to perform, which obviously never happened and never will happen. I have no idea what Kouns' music normally sounds like, well, and that of Jackson for that matter, as I cleverly managed to miss out on the many news shows. But apparently Kouns set out to create something that was 'at least something distasteful'. Its probably about the lyrics, which are about Jackson's life and personality. Vocals with synthesizer and drum machines. Hardly a Quincy Jones production, it says it was recorded on a twenty-four track, but to me that eight or twelve tracks would have been enough also. In a way I am reminded of some early 80s naive electronic composer (say John Bender, say Andre De Koning), with some heavily, moody pop tunes that won't ever make it as pop tunes anyway. Probably its trying to make a point about the wacky life of a wacky man, but that is for me just not enough. It's all brought very serious, but I wouldn't be surprised if Kouns has a big laugh out of this. I was not that convinced about the idea, nor about the songs and the execution of this. (FdW)
Address: http://www.ownness.org

Its been a while since we last heard from Tasty Soil Records (see Vital Weekly 614), but here they return with Cotton Museum's 'Pus Pustules', an one-sided LP. The cover reminds me of the artwork of Ultra Eczama records, and the music... well, also a bit, to some extent. Cotton Museum is Chris Pottinger, who plays solo, using theremin, synthesizer and whatever things electronic he can find. Things start out pretty mildly - a nice of drone like sounds, chirping in and out of the mix, but over the course of the twenty some minutes this piece lasts, things get nastier and nastier. Its like Pottinger is using chemicals which he inserts in his machines, which make the interior rot or melt and things become intenser and intenser. Yet it always manages to stay on the nice side of noise. This giant beast remains a friendly one. A nice, friendly beast. The other side is not left blank, but has a nice etching. The cover shows more beasts and makes a thoroughly fine, arty record. (FdW)
Address: http://www.tastysoil.com

For different reasons, I got quite a headache over this. The first headache I got with Sascha Muhr's release 'Wandering:trapped', 'composed, edited and performed on guitar'. There wasn't a single moment I was enjoying myself, in this musings with much delay. Its like listening to an endless solo, but then not played right. Some e-bow, some of it is multitracked, or perhaps not. Not a single second of this gave me any pleasure. I don't know why I should want to hear this. Very boring.
The Pad gave me a headache for an entirely different reason. Not because I disliked it, or liked it for that matter, but more I was scratching the back of my head, thinking: what is this about. Apparently The Pad has allies all over the world, who send sound files to California where, one Gene Bryan Johnson collects them, and puts them into songs. Himself, he is responsible for guitar, piano, synthesizer, percussion and voice. What is this? Singer-songwriter surely, but there is enough to grasp to the world of ambient music, a bit of experiment, a bit of improvisation. Everything seems to be in there. Also some retro sounding, seventies guitars, which make this not always a most enjoyable thing to hear, but it surely has something that kept my attention, but I'm afraid its very hard to tell what it is. Maybe it is that whole varied approach that makes the listener wanting to continue hearing it? As said, this might not be my thing and that, perhaps, lies in the fact that singer-songwriter, which makes up quite a bit on this release is not my cup of tea that much. But surely I thought this was quite a nice release, certainly after the infinite boredom of Sascha Muhr. (FdW)
Address: http://www.q-tone.com

A new label to me, and some new musicians. Shaun Sandor and Bryce Clayton Eiman are, together, Bicameral Mind, but around their home town, based in North Carolina, they also meet up with other musicians. Results of that can be found on the 'Quintet' release. It lists six people, so why it isn't called 'Sextet', I don't know. Eiman and Sandor aren't getting any credit for instruments, but otherwise there is Jenks Miller on drums, Mark Lever on tuba, Christopher Thurston on bass and Ted Johnson on tracking (whatever that might be). This seems to me a live recordings of some kind, with or without audience. But no editing I think. This improvised music is quite nice, with some nice placing of sound objects (perhaps by Eiman/Sandor) and the instruments. When this lots leans towards (free-) jazz, mainly the bass and drums are responsible, it walks too much in common ground I think, which is a pity. They are best in a somewhat more abstract sound territory, but maybe it has to do with my dislike of jazz.
The duo disc that is "Half Mast" is therefore perhaps more interesting. 'All tracks live & improvised to 2 track digital media' it says on the cover, again without dealing us what it is that they use. My best guess is a bunch of objects, microphones (contact or otherwise), maybe a guitar and/or organ and sound effects. It starts with 'Rivva', which is quite a rhythm and noise affair, but as it happens this is a pretty varied release. Rhythm plays an important role in these pieces, one that hints towards the use of loop devices. Here too the material seems to me pretty much the result of improvisation as some of the pieces are a bit 'thin', idea wise. The sound is fun it seems to be their way of thinking, but they let the funny sounds go on for a bit too long. That is a bit of my problem with this release. Essentially its quite o.k. music, but its all a bit too long. Both of these releases show an interesting amount of ideas, but the execution has lots of room for improvement and re-thinking. (FdW)
Address: none given

ZEN 2099 - THE DROWING (CDR by Backwards Records)
BLACK 13 KREW - WANDERER OF THE WASTE (CDR by Backwards Records)
Releases on Backwards Records have arrived here before and I must say they look quite nice. Professional yet hand made. Despite the fact that the labels dabbles into various musical territories, the presentation is always a bit dark - lots of black, which may not always fit the music, I'd say. It does fit however the music of Zen 2099. Another problem is information about these bands: they hide behind their myspace pages, filled with images and all things flickering, but hardly producing any concrete information. So who or what Zen 2099 is or want, but they definitely do fit the darkness that the label created cover-wise. Everything seems to (r-)evolve around samples. Samples of an unspecified nature - and I run a complete blank here: this could be from anything really - which are looped around, treated with sound effects and the outcome is an amorphous, yet captivating mass of sound. Tracks are not that long, just long enough to be interesting. I was reminded here of some of the early albums by Lilith on Sub Rosa. That similar musique concrete feel but captured in a more ambient-industrial surrounding. Very nice, if perhaps not entirely 'new'.
Perhaps the name Black 13 Krew fits the black cover, but their music doesn't always. Krew, is that a hip hop phrase (I'm afraid I don't know)? Somehow it seems that this band (?) wants to play some music that is both dark and rhythmic. Perhaps not the kinds of rhythm that implies hip hop, but the driving beats may at least hint at that direction. They cover it however with lots of dark sound collages and also sorts of sound effects. I must admit I don't know what to make of this. I actually liked the rhythm parts of this, but the sound collage parts I didn't think much of. Not bad, not good, and it sort of seems to be passing by without being noted very much. There seems to be a lot more possible with this music, but somehow this potential doesn't seemed to be fulfilled. That's pity. This band should try and make up their mind and choose one route it seems to me. (FdW)
Address: http://www.myspace.com/backwardsnw

This is the third release by North Gambier Amateur Bowers Society, who hail from the South East of South Australia and its the project of Cameron Wood, along with others. Mount Gambier is a nearby dormant volcano and none of the members are trained musicians, hence being called amateur here. That sort of explains the name. The previous two releases were on Cameron's own Winter Records, and not heard here by me. They play rock music with bows, on guitars, on violins and on cello. Perhaps the drums is the only instrument which are not bowed. A strong twenty minute session, recorded live in the studio of psychedelic free rock. Think Velvet Underground meeting No-neck Blues Band and Vibracathedral Orchestra, and you are close, but North Gambier Amateur Bowers Society are a bit more violent in their approach, a bit more distorted than their UK and USA peers, a slight more drift into noise land is approached here. Which is fine, since it sets them apart, while still having their feet in the current free rock scene. Quite a fine piece, top heavy bowing material. (FdW)
Address: http://www.blackpetal.com

NONNON - THE ENTITLEMENT GENERATION (cassette by Automation Records)
HOPEN - THE SHARK'S WIFE (cassette by Automation Records)
You might think, and perhaps quite rightly, that world of cassette releases is inhabited by drone meisters or mentally instable noise creators, but then Automation Records may proof you wrong. They release their cassettes also as downloads, which I guess is a nice thing to do. Also musicwise this label offers something else than the usual noise. First we have Nonnon, which is one David Madden from Salt Lake City, who released 'The Death Of Convience' on Ad Noiseam (see Vital Weekly 606), which was a true glitch hop work. Here, on his new album, recorded all alone, save for one track, he continues to explore the big time rhythms of hip hop in combination with some experimental based sounds, the glitch part of this. Its difficult to see some black kids wandering and bouncing on this stuff, but surely for these pair of untrained hip hop ears, this is actually way out of Vital Weekly's daily digest (or even a private musical digest for that matter). I thought this material was actually quite fun to hear. It didn't win me over to play some more of this, or seek out others in this field, but while sweeping the floor and doing the laundry, this was quite an entertaining album.
Hopen is Childe Grangier (which is how he is called here, Bruno Gillet in Vital Weekly 647), who is still influenced by Zappa, Autechre and Luc Ferrari, and its once again a crazy mixture of sounds. Everything is thrown into the computer and served in a hectic manner. More hip hop here, but this music is less suitable for dancing around doing the household. I must admit of the two releases, I thought this was the lesser one. In all this chaos, mayhem and madness it was a bit hard to find what Hopen was actually trying to say or create, except for a maniac ride on the musical waves of the last 100 years. But perhaps its like food: you can't throw it all together and have a great meal afterwards. Not bad I guess, but perhaps not my cup of tea. Nice professional covers on both releases. (FdW)
Address: http://www.automationrecords.com