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VITAL WEEKLY
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number 711
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week 53
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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!
complete tracklist here: http://www.vitalweekly.net/podcast.html

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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

 

DONEDA/TOULEMONDE/DESMARCHELIER - LE TERRIER (CD by Monotype Records) *
HAUTZINGER/OKURA/AKIYAMA - REBUS (CD by Monotype Records) *
HUNTER COMPLEX - HERE IS THE NIGHT (CD by Narrominded) *
MINAMO - DUREE (CD by 12K) *
ROBERT CURGENVEN - OLTRE (CD by Line) *
ADRIAN COX - 99 SANGER (CD by Ambolthue) *
MARANATA - LOS GRITOS DE LA HERMANES DE SATAN (CDR by Ambolthue) *
MARANATA - SETTE NOTE IN NERO (CDR by Ambolthue)
FRANCISCO LOPEZ - MACHINES (2CD by Elevator Bath) *
FRANCISCO LOPEZ - UNTITLED #228 (LP by Ini.Itu)
CIRCUS CIRCUS CASINO (CDEP by We Like Records)
JOHANNA BILLING - I'M LOST WITHOUT YOUR RHYTHM (LP by Apparent Extent)
TAMING POWER - TWENTY-ONE PIECES (2LP by Early Morning Records)
DOC WOR MIRRAN (CDR by Miss Management) *
BEN OWEN - TWO (CDR by Gruenrekorder) *
JAMES MCDOUGALL - DISPOSSESSION OF PERIPHERY (CDR by Mystery Sea) *

 

DONEDA/TOULEMONDE/DESMARCHELIER - LE TERRIER (CD by Monotype Records)
HAUTZINGER/OKURA/AKIYAMA - REBUS (CD by Monotype Records)
Two CDs of each three players from one musical corner: improvisation. Like Musica Genera, the likewise Polish label Monotype, is specialized in improvised music. The first disc is by Michel Doneda (sopranino, soprano saxophone), Olivier Toulemonde (amplified objects) and Nicolas Desmarchelier (acoustic guitar). Its a recording from 2005, divided in seven parts. This is hardcore improvisation. Lots of objects are being rubbed, touched, scratched to form high end tones, shrieking sounds of objects in danger. This is music that requires ones full attention, even when there is hardly a single second of silence. All of the instruments are used as objects, rather than as instruments. The saxophone may still sound like a saxophone, but the guitar is a resonating body to produce sounds with. Definitely not easy listening, but one to make your hair stand up.
Franz Hautzinger (quartertone trumpet), Ahiko Okura (reeds) and Tetuzi Akiyama (tape delayed electric guitar) have a recording from 2004, from Tokyo and compared to the previous one, this is a more 'relaxed' work. All instruments sound at times like they are supposed to. We hear a guitar! We hear wind instruments. But this trio cleverly combines that more or less old fashioned way of improvising with some of the 'newer' techniques to treat instruments as objects that are capable of producing any kind of sound. For some reason or the other which I am not exactly can point out, this all sounds a bit more easy to access than the Doneda et al release. Not just high pitched sounds, shrieking and terrifying the objects, but with some more deeper end towards the low end sounds. Both of these discs require ones full attention, but both of them are highly rewarding musical improvisations. (FdW)
Address: http://www.monotyperecords.com

HUNTER COMPLEX - HERE IS THE NIGHT (CD by Narrominded)
Lars Meijer is the active man behind the Narrominded label, but also as a musician with Living Ornaments and Psychon. He also recorded solo music, which I didn't know, as Hunter Complex. Early 2010 he will release his debut album 'Hunter Complex' and stir up interest he now releases a CDEP 'Here Is The Night', along with remixes by Garcon Taupe, Spoelstra, Coen Oscar Polack and an extended instrumental piece. He started doing his solo music a long time, behind a piano and recording them onto a four track, until he reached the limitations of those methods. Now he sings again, uses analogue synthesizers and no doubt uses the computer to record it on. Its no longer Larz (as such he recorded two lo-fi pop albums) but Hunter Complex. His piece here is an uptempo electro piece, with influences of italo music and electro-pop. It could as well have been on any 'Snow Robots' compilations from Suction Records (whatever happened there, I wonder?). A great piece. In the three remixes, each of the remixer takes one or two sounds that they like and expand on that. Distinctly more 'dance' oriented tracks at work here, with a stomping version by Spoelstra. Polack's version is the morning after chill out remix. Meijer's own 'Fashion Street' is a laidback jazzy tune with a leading part for saxophone, and may seem a bit out of place but it made me altogether very anxious to hear his album. His two pieces are different from eachother, but could make a great album. (FdW)
Address: http://www.narrominded.com

MINAMO - DUREE (CD by 12K)
ROBERT CURGENVEN - OLTRE (CD by Line)
Originally Minamo started as a duo in 1999, expanding into a quartet in 2001 and since then they have played live and released various CDs. For 'Duree', they take their inspiration from the French philosopher Henri-Louis Bergson's concept of 'pure duree', 'an idea that one's consciousness is a constant flow and not something that can be divided, reversed or measured'. At their disposal are acoustic guitar, percussion, keyboards, saxophone, percussion, electric guitar, computer, nintendo, bells, harmonium, analog synthesizer, pedals and small instruments. Over those ten years its hard to say there has been much development in their style, because I think they are small and subtle. That seems, perhaps, a negative qualification, but its not. Throughout these years I think their playing together has been deepened and getting more and more refined. Whatever constant flow is ment to be (how can it flow when this is a CD with a fixed length I don't know, but perhaps we are to put this on repeat for a (long) while?), the pieces flow gently. Minamo capture the best of microsound with sustained electronic sounds and the gentleness of folk music with some nice fingerpicking guitarplaying and improvisation in their use of percussion. The best of three entirely different worlds combined into some lush music. With the slow days between christmas and new year I guess its indeed the best thing to do: put this on repeat, watch the snow fall and simply do nothing.
Earlier this year (and I'm speaking 2009 still), I saw an excellent performance by Robert Curgenven, of whom I reviewed two CDRs before (see Vital Weekly 612 and 634). On a table he set up a whole bunch of CD players, a record player with a record he has cut for the occasion, a ventilator/fan and a microphone that is set to 'almost' feedback. The concert impressed me more than his two releases so far, but maybe I am not to understand his music on disc better. I can now more see what's going on. In the concert situation he is using field recordings, recorded onto CDRs, which he mixes together with the harmonics created by the ventilator and feedback resulting from picking that signal up. on his 'Oltre' CD, his first real CD, he has five pieces which we recorded earlier this year, except 'Largo Capriccioso' which was already captured in 2001. That seemed a bit odd, but if you hear this CD then it makes perfect sense. The pieces from this year are all in a particular 'soft' style: lots of crackles, birds and other environmental sounds with gently sustaining waves of feedback like sound. The 2001 piece is an altogether more dark and by far more drone based piece of music. I think the order of the CD should have been different, and also shorter. One of the first three seems to be superfluous, and with the fourth being somewhere earlier, say on position three or two out of four, this would have made the release much stronger, I think. But still its a pretty damn fine release. No laptop, hardly any electronics, but a warm sound of crispy field recordings and gentle feedback sounds. (FdW)
Address: http://www.12k.com

ADRIAN COX - 99 SANGER (CD by Ambolthue)
MARANATA - LOS GRITOS DE LA HERMANES DE SATAN (CDR by Ambolthue)
MARANATA - SETTE NOTE IN NERO (CDR by Ambolthue)
The title of Adrian Cox' CD translates as '99 Songs', but that's about the only bit I could translate from the otherwise Norwegian text. I have no idea why Ambolthue wanted to release this. This label, usually known for their releases dealing with noise, improvisation and electronics, releases a real CD of 99 songs in Norwegian, of a guy who sings, has a rhythm machine and a keyboard. Divided in three parts, don't know why, as there is much difference in those tracks. There all short, obviously, but its not at all music for Vital Weekly and I couldn't understand why I spend on this otherwise. I like popmusic, not this lot.
Of much more interest are the two releases by Maranata, of whom I never heard. I am not sure why there should be two releases at once, but alas it is. Maranata is a group of improvisation through means of guitar, I guess two or three of them, with some sound effects, mainly the distortion pedal and some reverb and echo. This is the lo-fi rock improvisation that we know so well from a country like Norway - think Del for instance - and New Zealand. It has that same esthetic that so many bands like this have, and its something I like very much. The compositions/improvisations may not always be coherent, perhaps helped by the substances inhaled while recording this, and meander about a bit too much, while (still continue to make minor complaints) one could also think that 100 minutes is all a bit too much to digest at once and there is not too much difference in approach for both CDs. But then its that slow time of the holiday season, so why bother with those minor complaints? Nice. (FdW)
Address: http://www.ambolthue.com

FRANCISCO LOPEZ - MACHINES (2CD by Elevator Bath)
FRANCISCO LOPEZ - UNTITLED #228 (LP by Ini.Itu)
Every now and then Francisco Lopez is in for quite a surprise. While a vast majority of his work is called 'Untitled', followed by a number, there is a smaller part of his work which have a title. 'La Selva', or 'Buildings [New York]' for instance. Here he comes up with with four pieces, recorded between 2004 and 2007, and the subject is field recordings of machines. A field recording doesn't necessarily have to be in 'the field', or perhaps that never occurred to you? In each piece a specific location - or locations, if the sound matter is the same - plays a central role. Clocks, elevators, or various laboratories or factories are recorded to create pieces from. If you still think that music by Lopez only deals with silence in all its various appearances, then you are wrong. The two works mentioned aren't exactly silent works, there has been a sort of 'hard rock' work, I believe 'Untitled #104', and now 'Machines' is an ode to industrial music, in the more literal sense of the word. Its not easy to say, well impossible really, wether these sounds have been processed or altered in any way, or wether they have been heavily layered and presented like a collage. Somehow I think its the latter. We hear all the fascinating aspects of the factories and industrial sounds. Unlike say Vivenza two decades who used the Putney synth to create machine sounds, Lopez uses the real thing. In 'Labs' he almost reaches towards minimal techno with a short repeating sounds, almost Pan Sonic alike. The only piece that seems to have some additional treatment is, perhaps perhaps, 'Fabrikas'. This is a Lopez release that is distinctly different than many of his other works. I am a big fan of all of his work, so its hard for me to criticize it, but I can imagine there are people out there who would just a few Lopez works, and they should all be different somehow. If you consider looking for such different works, then 'Machines' is surely one to add to your collection. The best industrial music release I heard this year (ignoring here it says 'produced 2010 elevator bath'!)
At the same time there is also a new solo Lopez LP, the first since 'Untitled #92' by Mego in 2000. You could think its strange to have his music on vinyl, but here he is also not silent. In the meantime I learned that Brussels based label Ini.Itu releases only LPs, always limited to 250 copies and there is always a link to Indonesia. Here Lopez worked with field recordings provided by Blindhead (who were also responsible for the first LP, and perhaps is also responsible for the label). Lopez works here in two directions. On the first side he creates a densely layered pattern of those field recordings, using loops of the material, which he seems to be continuously be filtering, thus altering and changing the sound material. Its not just calls from the rainforest, but also those of people and cities. Of course one could argue wether this sounds Indonesian at all, but its a very nice side. On the b-side he uses gamelan sounds. What he did to those gamelan sounds is very hard to say, but its a damn great piece. It seems like he has cut out all the attacks and uses the decaying sound which he has set around in loops and then puts on some extreme filtering, making the whole thing into a very gentle, almost ambient piece. Very musical, with some heavy microtonal shifts. One of the best Lopez pieces I heard. Two highly different Lopez releases and both are great. (FdW)
Address: http://www.elevatorbath.com

CIRCUS CIRCUS CASINO (CDEP by We Like Records)
JOHANNA BILLING - I'M LOST WITHOUT YOUR RHYTHM (LP by Apparent Extent)
Here are two prime examples where I am hopelessly lost. Jurriaan van Oortmerssen, who handles the PR for a new label from Amsterdam called We Like Records, writes me that he is highly charmed by Vital Weekly and would be interested in hearing our opinion on their first release, a CDEP by Circus Circus Casino, a name inspired by Hunter S. Thompson's 'Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas'. They are inspired by Morrisey (lighten up!), Devo, Smiths, and have been compared by Talking Heads and Buzzcocks. Some of those I like too, and even when I fail to hear the connection with those bands, I thought it was overall quite a nice fifteen minute rock trip. They no doubt fit well in today's trend of reviving New Wave from say thirty years ago, and that is one of those historical musical waves I like. Maybe I prefer any old Devo or Buzzcocks, but this is certainly quite nice. If nothing at all for Vital Weekly.
The second is by film artist Johanna Billing, a film maker from Stockholm, who does a cover of 'My Heart' by Wildbirds and Peacedrums, which I never heard, I think. It's on the a-side of this LP, together with the original Original Soundtrack of 'I'm Lost Without Your Rhythm', which is a line sung from 'My Heart', so it continues. A not too well played song, not too well recorded, but distinctly popmusic. Not my cup of tea, I guess. It drags on a bit too much. The b-side is 'chants and rhythms jams by Rumanian dance students' as they are called on the press release. Eight short(er) tracks here, which are no doubt 'experimental' by some standards, but likewise failed to make a solid impression. We hear marimba, drums, percussion and also typewriters, and sometimes sounds from the surrounding environment. Maybe the film is better I thought (well, hoped). (FdW)
Address: http://www.apparent-extent.com

TAMING POWER - TWENTY-ONE PIECES (2LP by Early Morning Records)
There was a time when Taming Power appeared a lot in Vital Weekly, with all kinds of highly bits of vinyl, 7"s, 10"s and LPs, in crazy limited editions with handmade covers. Those days are over, and now its just a very occasional release. This LP also comes in a somewhat bigger edition of 329 copies and the cover is printed. Alike the previous release, a 10" with twelve pieces (reviewed in Vital Weekly 606), this is again an overview of a decade of music making. Through some complicated schematics it is noted on the cover when they were made, including overdubs and such like. Not like the 10", the pieces here are less sketch like and more worked out. I am not sure if this is a deliberate consideration of Askild Haugland, the Taming Power main man, but it sounds so. Haugland uses electric guitar mainly, but also a drilbus, dingsha, singing bowls, casiotone, harmonica, voice, handsaw, field recordings, and all of this is recorded onto cassettes. Haugland staples the sounds onto his four track, ping and ponging them back and forth, accepting the gradual loss of quality as a separate form of processing. The music of Taming Power is hardly surprise anymore, at least not for me. Seeing this is an overview of ten years of music making its only logical we have the two edges of his work: drones and the more ended strumming on guitars. I must admit I like his drone music best. The strumming pieces have a somewhat plink-plonk quality, a bit too easy perhaps. But his drone pieces are quite nice here, and seem to be in a majority. Lo-fi in approach, sometimes meandering a bit too much, but throughout quite strong. An excellent set of records this. Very good. Taming Power deserve to be heard. Get out to get this, and while you're at it, ask Haugland if there is any spare copy of something old by him. (FdW)
Address: <earlymrecords@yahoo.com>

DOC WOR MIRRAN (CDR by Miss Management)
More celebrations here: also Doc Wor Mirran exists for twenty-five years and they decided to start a series of remixed recordings of early works, starting with their first self-titled cassette from 1984. We have the original line of BH Worrick, Frank Abendroth and Joseph B. Raimond, the latter the main man behind Doc Wor Mirran. Over the years, up until now, the music has been remixed and added too by other people who played a big role in the music of Doc Wor Mirran, such as Ralf Lexis, Jeandra Raimond and Peter Schuster. Primarily this is electronic music, perhaps the best known side of Doc Wor Mirran, who can easily sound like a rock band too. The original tape cover, also on the cover, says 'electronic music by Joseph B. Raimond' and we hear lots of analogue synthesizers playing a sort of heavy duty cosmic music, and with the revival of that kind of music this is quite a nice coincidence. Music history is a like wheel: it all comes back one day. This quite an accomplished work, nicely made. Its perhaps rather a new work than an old one. I don't think I ever heard the original 1984 cassette, but I understand from the press note that the additions made over the years, means that this is a new work. Atmospheric yet with a nice bite to it. Doc Wor Mirran has proven to be a very consitent band over those twenty-five years and their more than one hundred release (this is #107), and it started well. Let's hope for twenty-five more years. (FdW)
Address: http://www.dwmirran.de

BEN OWEN - TWO (CDR by Gruenrekorder)
So far we came across the name Ben Owen as the person behind the Winds Measure Recordings label, but sometimes he records his own music. Here on Gruenrekorder he deals with field recordings. The first four tracks were recorded on the coast of Jacob Riss Park, Far Rockaway, Queens, NY and the last two at the Caroll Street Bridge, Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York. The title 'Two' probably refers to these locations. Its hard to tell what exactly he recorded in these locations, but it surely sounds quite fascinating. The microphone comes very close to whatever the events are that are captured here, as think they are events. Winds blowing through a pipe in the 'Gowanus 2', maybe rain drops upon contact microphones in 'Soft Magnetic Se'? Since I don't know what it is, its hard to guess, but its also were the beauty of the recording lies I think. Beyond the 'ordinary' capturing of recordings out there, this is quite a fascinating release of crackles, cuts, hiss, almost electro-acoustic in execution, like a turntable left outside in 'Atlantic Jetty S-N 1'. An excellent release! Totally captivating! (FdW)
Address: http://www.gruenrekorder.de

JAMES MCDOUGALL - DISPOSSESSION OF PERIPHERY (CDR by Mystery Sea)
One of the rising stars of field recordings and microsound is James McDougall. He has already quite a number of releases, under the guise of Entia Non, on labels such as Test Tube, U-Cover, Dataobscura, Resting Bell, and then also under his own name on labels as Compost And Height, Q-tone and recently Ripples. He searches for the most rusty form of field recordings. Either he finds them in the field, or he treats them to sound rusty. I don't know. I do know its hard to tell, but it leads to some great results. Everything is pitched down to the darkest of dark, with all the bass frequencies up front. The 'sea' element that is common with a lot of the releases on Mystery Sea, isn't that much present on this one, although, perhaps, it all sounds a bit sub-aquatic, like being recorded 'under the surface of the water', but without any sea or rain sounds. Scratching the surface of the sea, rather than being part of the CD, I'd say. 'A Clearer Firmamental Blue', the closing piece, has a faint trace of a melody, which is a nice feature - and uncommon for many of the Mystery Sea releases. Excellent release. (FdW)
Address: http://www.mysterysea.net