number 743
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:


CONCERN - CAESAREAN (CD by Slow Flow Records) *
AABZU - RAMBO (CD by Audio Tong)
PORTION CONTROL - PROGRESS REPORT 1980-83 (7LP by Vinyl On Demand)
DARKSMITH - TOTAL VACUUM (CD by Hanson Records) *
PETROLIO - END OF VISION (CDR by Gruenrekorder) *
J. GRAF - OS (CDR by Wachsender Prozess) *
SUJO - DIMONA (CDR by Inam Records) *
TOTSTELLEN - KRS (CDR by Totes Format)
TOY BIZARRE - KDI DCTB 216 [DATA #10] (3"CDR by Kaon) *
TOY BIZARRE - KDI DCTB 216 [DATA #11] (3"CDR by Kaon)

In the work of Alessandro Bosetti language plays an important role. I once saw a live 'radioplay' from him with four (or five?) have a strange conversation. His interest in languages expands to those he doesn't understand. Over the years he has recorded many languages and these are the used in a collection of pieces that is called 'Zwolfungen', which literal meaning is 'twelve tongues'. These include Dogo, Basque, Japanese, Urdu, Mandarin, Cherokee, Zulu and one that is an invention of Bosetti himself. For each these spoken word pieces, Bosetti composed a piece of music, using tape-collage, electro-acoustic sounds, max/msp but also instruments, such as organ or piano. So far the background of this CD. Its indeed quite a nice idea I think, but after a while of hearing voices speak languages that I don't know either, with some minimal music, I wished for something radical to happen. Maybe to catch a phrase I did understand, maybe something sung as opposed to speaking - or maybe something with the music leading the voice, as opposed to the voice leading the music. These twelve pieces, clocking in at one hour, are all around six minutes, but perhaps most, if not all, could have been shorter than this. Bosetti would get his message across equally well, if not better. But when you decide to play just a few of these pieces than you will note that each has a great poetic quality to it. Its just a bit too much at once.
The wife of Micheal T. Bullock (no doubt) is Linda Aubry Bullock, who was known as a visual artist, but since 2002 also moves in the field of experimental music in the city where she lives, Boston. She works solo, but also with Micheal as Rise Set Twilight, who join Century Plants (Eric Hardiman and Ray Hare) in a four piece Twilight Of The Century. This debut album is slightly confusing. Are we dealing here with a solo work, or one that has pieces from Micheal too (some are called to be by MTB, others by LAB). Its not becoming clear from the CD cover nor the press release. Bullock uses harp, field recordings, electronics and 'various other sources', all of it through improvisation. Or at least, so it seems. I must admit I am not impressed by this work. The six pieces are affairs which are at their best 'uncontrolled events' of sounds, without too much tension. Since they seem improvised, its rather a 'go with flow', dictated by the use of various sound effects, all put to use in a rather crude way. A muddy sound, noisy even at times but somehow fails to impress the listener. (FdW)
Address: http://www.sedimental.com/

Field recordings at work here. Presented in a glossy digipack and extensive, full color booklet. No doubt no money was spared by those who hand out grants. Or perhaps the tourist office of Alert Bay in British Columbia where one Hein Schoer recorded thirty-five hours of music in 2009. An area which I never visited. I was listening to this work, which has a 'full version', a 'workshop edit' and a 'walk-in edit', and thinking about the whole notion of field recordings and works like this. Works like this stay a bit alien to me. I hear all the usual sounds (water, rain, children singing, sounds of human activity, cars), and marvel about the beauty of the recording, and perhaps also the narrative aspect of it, it also stays a bit too distant for me. Partly because its not easy to relate to a place I don't know myself, and perhaps also because it seems a bit 'easy', dare I say it? You throw a whole bunch of field recordings together and that's your piece - I am overdoing it here, but I hope you get my drift? I find it hard to see the whole point of this exercise and maybe that's a problem I have with a lot of other works like this. The interest grows, I guess, when you know the place. Maybe the whole field recordings thing, pur and unchanged, is something I heard well enough by now?
Labelowner Lasse-Marc Riek in return had a close look at the sounds recorded by Cedric Peyronnet along the steady stream of the Taurion (other went before him, using the same material). Just like Schoer, Riek seems interested in working with pure field recordings, but these 'four pieces into one', are of much interest than the Schoer disc. Whereas that is no doubt interesting if you know the area, the Riek work can be enjoyed as a composition with sound elements from nature. I strongly believe that Riek did a little bit of electronic processing (even be it some simple form of equalization), but that adds a nice extra to the material. Maybe he even cut out some loops to be repeated, that may form the background of some of the pieces (especially in 'Lavaud-Gelade: Hot And Dry'). Small but vital changes, that lift this up from the world of 'just' recording and 'just' presenting and creating four little great pieces of music based on field recording. (FdW)
Address: http://www.gruenrekorder.de
Address: http://www.kaon.org

CONCERN - CAESAREAN (CD by Slow Flow Records)
Gordon Ashworth is Concern, and hails from Oregon. He has had a couple of highly limited releases on Students Of Decay, two of which are included on 'Caesarean', his latest offering on Japanese Slow Flow Records. The cover lists instruments in order of appearance (which is funny, almost film like): piano, clarinet, banjo, shruti box, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, chord organ, harmonium, springs, bass processed by quarter inch tapes, cassette tape, octave pedal and reverb. Funny to see that list, since in the very first second of this playing there is 'stutter' in the music, yet there is no computer listed. That aside, the five long, very long pieces on this album are actually very nice. At almost seventy-seven minutes maybe a bit long, but such is the life of an ambient drone composer. That's where we find Concern. Layering the various instruments in a rich harmonious manner. Motors play electric and acoustic guitars, the sustaining of strings are picked up and the resulting overtones do the rest. Always dark, always atmospheric, always slow in development. Late night music I'd say. Concern doesn't do anything 'new' by any ambient standards, but I don't think that is a concern for him. What he does, is create some great music, using the mighty ambient manual to his own ends and as such he does a great job. Comes along with a great dark cover too. Excellent stuff for what it is, never 'original', but that's fine. (FdW)
Address: http://slowflowrec.web.fc2.com/

AABZU - RAMBO (CD by Audio Tong)
Audio-Tong is a Polish net-label established in the early years of this millennium. The aim of the label is to present of the music from the outer limits both as album releases, but also by organizing concerts and electronic events. A number of very interesting releases has been launched from the label throughout the first five years or so. Latest example of interesting music from the label comes from this project driven by one of the co-brains of the label, Lukasz Szalankiewicz (aka Zenial). On this project called Aabzu, Zenial join forces with another Polish sound artist, Maciek Szymczuk. The two artists has quite different approaches to electronic music compositions and this is probably the main reason for such an impressive result. Musically Aabzu operates in many layers and styles of expressions throughout the twelve pieces on the album titled "Rambo", and yes, the album does refer to Sylvester Stallone's monster-success as the soldier-hero, Rambo of the 80's. Though musically there are absolutely nothing that stylish does refer to macho-style of Rambo. The music is deeply felt with excellent dreamlike atmospheres. From trippy trance-inducing textures across ethno-ambience and cool club techno towards semi-harsh noise and minimalist techno. As you swim through the album associations one minute moves towards early Biosphere and the next towards icy textures of Pan Sonic. No matter where you find yourself on this album, so many things happens, making it absolutely impossible not to be absorbed into the spheres of Aabzu. (NM)
Address: http://www.audiotong.net/

PORTION CONTROL - PROGRESS REPORT 1980-83 (7LP by Vinyl On Demand)
Before you start being jealous at the fact that Vital Weekly receives promo's from that wonderful, yet expensive deluxe label Vinyl On Demand: you're wrong. By exception I actually bought a copy, as a birthday present for myself. Seven LPs, one DVD, book, patch, 7", t-shirt, in a metal box (eat your heart out, J. Lydon!). The 'business as usual' stuff for Vinyl On Demand. Portion Control already released a box set before, of CDs, but that was, apart from the inclusion of their first 12", more about the later work. Quite wrongly (I guess), they figured their artistic peak was there and not in the early works. I beg to differ. The early work, let's say from 1980-1984, is of much more interest than the later work, which was a bit slick in their hard rhythmic approach, a commercial approach, whereas the old work was more about adventure and taking risks. This box tells us all. There are some personal favorites of mine on here, such as 'Dining On The Fresh' (which I still have somewhere, without the balloon!), the first 12", 'With Mixed Emotion' and their first LP 'I Staggered Mentally' (one of the few doublers with the CD box actually). We hear Portion Control growing up. From the earliest try-out tracks, sometimes a mere ramble and rattle of synthesizers, vocals and percussion, but then quickly learning how to play a simple and captivating tune, see 'Sweet Julia'. When I first heard that, back in 1983 or so, I thought they sounded like Depeche Mode (and wrote that on a postcard which I mailed to the band). Never meeting the Mode's commercial success, Portion Control would be a template for groups to use hard rhythmic electronics, such as Skinny Puppy. These seven records (of which various sides last thirty minutes) are indeed a true 'progress report'. Not every single track is great - of course - but this is a unbelievable great archival dig out. Minor points of complaint: the DVD shows some embarrassing moments (but perhaps quite right in a historian's view) and the booklet is a like a photo book - no, IS a photo book. One could have perhaps wished for some historical text, scans of all the covers and such like. Maybe I'm rambling: I just spend ten hours with the music of Portion Control, and therefore with my own past. Let's return to the present (pun intended)
Address: http://www.vinyl-on-demand.com/

All three musicians on this record have had releases on Hapna, so they were all aware of each other's work. Two guitarists (David Grubbs and Stefano Pilia) and one drummer (Andrea Belfi). They met up in New York when the Italians were involved in a fellowship project and recorded this album. Its not a work of just two guitars and drums, as there is also electronics, piano and ultimately, in the title piece, Grubbs voice. Three likeminded spirits at work here. Masters, each own in his own right, of contemplative music with a rock background. The title piece, perhaps, is the one that comes closest to that rock background. In the other, instrumental, pieces, they are in more general flow of sound, with vast open spaces, strumming gently, spacious, free percussive sounds but underneath that tension of Belfi's electronics, mild to heavy distortion (in 'Lightning Vault', which is the logical heavy weight conclusion of the album). Although divided into five pieces, the built up is excellent. From the sparse opening song, the noisy interlude 'Nitrated Out', the more complex 'City Rats On Mountain Pass' to the two already mentioned pieces: a fine, dramatic, theatrical build up. Great collaboration. (FdW)
Address: http://www.dragcity.com/labels/bc

NO JOKE! It is said on the press text: 'Recorded in 2009 by twin sisters Roxann and Rachal Spikula while in a hospital doing some fucked up health study where all they could was Shasta for like 2 weeks. […] Master tape arrived wrapped in a duct taped hospital gown with my address written on it in sharpie'. Why should we think that is a joke? No doubt it is bloody serious. I see those sister in an empty part of the hospital, surrounding by the ghosts of those who didn't leave the hospital alive, with some ancient reel-to-reel machine, an echo box of some kind and then perhaps some acoustic objects (from the hospital). On both sides they rumble about with these objects, but on side one they slow things down, effectively making themselves the daughters of Maurizio Bianchi, while on the other side they speed things up a bit making it a bit more crude and noisy. Both sides however are pitch filled with pitch black music. Not necessarily noise, no way of any synth layered ambient music, but, as Hanson Records quite rightly says: the real thing. Scary stuff indeed.
Maybe the same thing will happen to Relay For Death as with Darksmith: a quick sell out of the pressing, leading to a quick CD release. The music from one Tom Darksmith was recorded on a four track, using 'guitar, drums, tapes, objects, domestic and field recordings', although that is quite hard to hear on this. What do we hear? Ah, well, that's altogether a more complicated question. It could be field recordings - recording outdoor sounds through closed doors? - or cranking of acoustic objects? There is also the occasional use and abuse of voices. Quite a mysterious release as such. If anything this is a wildly, vivid and crude assembly of musique concrete - but in its most pure  sense. No electronics, or synthesizers for that matter, are used here, it seems. Just hissy street recordings, crudely cut tape loops, the battering of objects, recorded on a hand-held micro cassette recorder. At with quite an amount of variation I must say. The hissy 'The Phantom Other Half' has quite a spooky quality to it. As pleasing as it discomforting. A lo-fi version of musique concrete and more likeable than many of his high-brow peers. Indeed, as the label says, for fans of Yeast Culture, Agog, Joe Colley, Graham Lambkin, Jason Lescalleet and Hands To. I totally agree. Very much along those mysterious lines. Great noise, quite excellent! (FdW)
Address: http://www.hansonrecords.net

According to the press release this is the fourth LP by Red Stars Over Tokyo, although I only reviewed two before (see Vital Weekly 663 and 686). Now definitely moving out of the early Factory Records/4AD corner, which already started with 'Helen In The Mirror', the previous album, this one is on the move again. The previous showed an interest in minimal techno, but it wasn't really (nevertheless a nice record!), this one is also about rhythm but then in a more dubby sense. Seven tracks here, somewhat longer than before, of just very minimal dub like rhythm, although not as bass heavy, but with several sound effects and very sparsely some synthesizers. Only when the rhythm is absent, in the final piece on the b-side, then something of the old sparkle returns. I must admit I don't think this is the best record from Red Stars Over Tokyo. It all deems a bit too simply in my taste. The tracks are a bit too much in their skeleton phase, and prove right for some appropriate DJ-ing (if only I was one), but for home listening this is all a bit to bare. Dress this baby up, and let it grow. (FdW)
Address: http://www.myspace.com/RedStarsOverTokyo

Noted before: Bas van Huizen is a local composer, local as in the Vital surroundings, yet never seen. These days he lives in Tokyo, but his work remains undeniable dutch: strange poetic titles in Dutch. There is no information to be found on the cover of this release, except his name and the seven titles. Van Huizen is a composer who uses exclusively his computer. At least that's the impression I get from this new work. He used to work with a guitar, and maybe still does, but now its a well hidden in the digital manipulations he executes. Whereas his previous releases showed the influence of Asmus Tietchens, here its a work along the lines of Oval and Fennesz, mixed with elements from shoegazing (think early Shoeb Ahmad), but still within the realm of digital processing. All of it, even in the quiet moments, is played with a sharp edge. That is what saves this release, I think. What Van Huizen does here is a step back, in the development of his career. Harking back to examples that have been well explored by others already. That is a pity. But there is a great sense of suppressed violence and tension in these pieces that ultimately saves the day. That's what makes this into a nice, not great, release. Still a positive force. (FdW)
Address: http://www.etherkreet.com

PETROLIO - END OF VISION (CDR by Gruenrekorder)
As we know by know the main portion of releases on Gruenrekorder consist of field recordings and music made using them. However, more and more we also hear releases from say the world of improvisation. Here's an Italian trio: Luca Robba (drums, voice, laptop, samplings), Michele Spanghero (double bass, live electronics, field recordings) and Ugo Boscain (contrabass clarinet and piano). 'The music was played live and recorded with omni-directional microphones' it says on the cover, but they could have fooled me. First of all, the recording quality is great and secondly, it doesn't sound like the product of pure improvisation. The pieces are more stretched out atmospheric impressions, in which occasionally an instrument pops up. There are pieces which hint more towards improvisation, but here too it seems to me that things are well under control. More composed than improvisation, and no doubt due to some extensive mixing process, which allows them to bring necessary balance, and quietness in these proceedings, a careful constructing of silence and tension, atmosphere and cinematographic qualities. Maybe its the extensive use laptop, sampling and field recordings? I am not entirely sure, but throughout a great release, I thought. An excellent example where improvisation also works out of the context of direct playing and making a great listening session later on (which in the world of improvisation is not always the case). (FdW)
Address: http://www.gruenrekorder.de

J. GRAF - OS (CDR by Wachsender Prozess)
Following work with Metalux, a session with John Wiese and extensive touring in the USA, Jenny Graf releases her first solo record on Wachsender Process, which I believe was a session she did for radio Gagarin (which might be this release). There is not much information on the cover, so I'm not sure what it is that she does. I hear voice (an all instrumental woman seems hard to get, I mused), organ, guitar, electronics plus maybe some sort of percussive bits. I must admit I wasn't too pleased with what I heard. Rather minimalist playing on the instruments, improvised wordless singing and sampling thereof, some mild distortion here and there ('the twisted angle'?) but throughout it fails to make any impression at all. Perhaps file under 'charming amateurism', but not under 'outsider'. Its just not here. (FdW)
Address: <WP666@gmx.de>

SUJO - DIMONA (CDR by Inam Records)
Ryan Huber has put his Olekranon project to rest for a while, but no rest for his other moniker, Sujo. Hot on the heels of 'Dhama' (see Vital Weekly 629) here is another long EP, short full length. Thirty-five minutes, again with six tracks of the most heavy layered, distorted guitars and heavy beats. "Proto Industrial Drone", he calls this, and no doubt that is right. His rhythms are usually slow but immensely loud, with guitars blearing away, distortion pedals (plural!) pushed right through the floor. If you were looking such a project to develop and grow, expand, than this is not the right place. Sujo only expands in quantity. The quality is quite alright however, although some variation would be welcome. (FdW)
Address: <inamrecs@yahoo.com>

Texan label Quiet Design is run by Cory Allen and Mike Vernusky. The latter released his first CD 'Blood That Sees The Light' in 2006, which I didn't hear and 'Music For Film And Electro-Theatre' is now his second release and my first proper introduction. Like the film implies these are works for film scores, theatrical works and 'pure' electronics pieces. The cover could have been a bit more clearer about the nature of such diverse work. 'Dallas', for instance, sound like radioplay about the Kennedy murder, but then could also be a theatre play? Which is the film soundtrack, which the theatre, and so on. But that aside, its of course the music that counts and that's great here. 'Dallas' is the only piece with voice, reciting a text and actors speaking, but throughout there is plenty of variation in the material at hand. Sometimes Vernusky works in a traditional manner of time stretching sounds and treating them in an electronic way (kinda like a solid musique concrete/acousmatic composer would do these days), but at other times he adds radio sounds, ballroom music and such like to his sound collage techniques. Sometimes quite soft and intense on a microscopic level, and sometimes much louder, although noise doesn't seem to belong to his world. Its not easy to say what it is that he uses, sound wise, and its probably not really important either. Vernusky delivers an absolute fine release, which stretches out beyond the ordinary, serious acousmatic composer and that has a great quality of its own. (FdW)
Address: http://www.quietdesign.us

TOTSTELLEN - KRS (CDR by Totes Format)
Sometimes I get a package and when looking at the design, I feel quite so warm that it really can not go wrong. Format of the publications by Totes Format label are all gems of a DIY high level with high tactile quality. The CDRs by the Totes Format label are packaged in found materials which are then silkscreened. The design is both sleek and playful.
Schuppen is an experimental trio "with an attitude." The names of the musicians speak for themselves: RZA aka Bobby Digital on drums, the JZA genius on bass and Bill "Motherfucker" Murray on hand drill and electronics. The CDR contains six tracks, with three tracks of about twenty minutes in which the trio will release a lot of punk, noise, to experimental music and free jazz alike beats. The short songs are more punk-oriented chaos.The recordings are very low-fi which makes the atmosphere even underground than it already is. This CDR cannot interest me and cannot keep my attention.
I can not say this about the works of Totstellen. KSR consists of recordings of empty office buildings KSR 8 and 10, where a lot of money has been raised and now they are abandoned. The field-recordings are edited with a four-track recorder. Also Totstellen uses instruments made from objects found in these empty buildings. The recordings were made in 2002 and 2003 in Hamburg. The atmosphere of the music in noise and industrial. KSR 8 ends with a lot of feedback tones. KSR 10 is is more quiet and you will walk into different rooms and atmospheres. This one also shows a film with shots of the demolition of one of those buildings. A beautiful piece of music about critics to the ruins of capitalism.
"Mein Light beleuchtet nur Abgruende" is a collection of  recordings of an one year (2009-2010) journey through Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland and Lapland. The last track was recorded in 2007 and modified in 2008 and includes recordings from Finland. All recordings are made in so-called constructed nature, so the sounds of humans and machines are not excluded. Totstellen uses both field recordings, but plays music, sound material creates what he encounters, like the rustle of plastic and metal buckets on ticking. In one way or another, the atmosphere is nostalgic and melancholic compositions and are true sound paintings. These beautiful CDR's packaged in a self-sewn cover with a picture book where the emptiness of the city and nature plays a central role. Highly recommended! (JKH)
Address: http://telenautik.de/grimm/totesformat

TOY BIZARRE - KDI DCTB 216 [DATA #10] (3"CDR by Kaon)
TOY BIZARRE - KDI DCTB 216 [DATA #11] (3"CDR by Kaon)
Its been twenty weeks since we had number nine in the twelve part series 'KDI DCTB 216', Toy Bizarre's project about weather conditions in Atherton Gardens. Number 10 deals with December 24, 2009 ('mainly sunny top of 28 degrees with south easterly wind'). This is again a work at drift, opening new possibilities. Firmly rooted in the world of musique concrete, with loud acoustic sounds, there is below all sorts of vague drone like sounds (the kettle boiling?), which towards the end builds a mighty crescendo. A world of contrasts brought out in this fine piece. Which can also be said of the eleventh part (January 7, 2010: Mainly sunny top of 29 degrees with light south westerly wind), which works out differently. Here the the heaviness is at the beginning, with acoustic sounds being on par with electronic processing thereof, but in a rather noisy manner, which is not like Toy Bizarre in particular. Here, towards the end, more clarity is brought in and offers a more tranquil ending. Both new releases seem to act as a mirror of eachother. Two more fine additions. Curious what the final release will bring us! (FdW)
Address: http://www.kaon.org

A damn short tape here: ten minutes only. Hilary Jeffery is a trombone player, whom, I think, lives in Amsterdam. He works with electronics (a review of his solo CD can be found in Vital Weekly 413). There is not much information on this cassette, except that Jeffery plays the trombone and that Machinefabriek processed the sound. These processes seem to me a bit sparse. Through these two, five minute, improvisations, we can recognize the trombone clearly, and the electronics seem to be in place to color his improvised playing. There is a small amount of layering the sound, rather than going 'inside' the sound, and create something entirely new from it. The b-side seems to me the piece that does that most. Its a nice little product, but not a highlight in the extensive Machiefabriek catalogue. More like something that is in between major works, and as such a nice intermission. (FdW)
Address: http://www.machinefabriek.nu