number 761
week 52


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. Feed at: http://www.vitalweekly.net/podcast.xml

Editorial news: we have decided to stop reviewing MP3 releases. Please do not send any discs with MP3 releases. Just send me an e-mail with a link and a short description, so people can download it. The amount of releases pile up every week and I can no longer devote time to MP3s. Whatever you see coming in the next few weeks are the last ones. Please do not send anymore. Also: releases that do not contain the original artwork will most likely be no longer reviewed. The real thing is necessary for a real judgment. If you wish to send us not the real thing, please contact us first. <vital@vitalweekly.net>

ROSE & SANDY - CAT'S CRADLE (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
THE HOLE PUNCH GENERATION (CD by Audiobulb Records) *
Z:#2 (CD compilation by :zang)
ANOREXIA MENTAL (CD by Larraskito) *
NICKOLAS MOHANNA - OPTICS (CDR by Slow Flow Records) *
RAGLE GUMM - 2ND (3"CDR by Taalem) *
YEAST CULTURE - STICK MEN (cassette by Petri Supply)
FRANS DE WAARD - ARREL / JUUR (Cassette by Banned Productions) *

Following releases in MP3 size and CDR format, Con-V now moves into releasing CDs, no doubt thanks to the possibility of doing small editions in far east countries. Wade Matthews is a person to play two laptops, but who has strong ties to the world of improvisation to, for instance with releases on Another Timbre and Creative Sources. Two laptops doing two different things. On one he plays field recordings which he recorded in San Francisco, La Mancha and Madrid. In the left corner we find a laptop with processing possibilities, such as triggering, filtering etc. Both laptops are connected to a pair of speakers and the sound is picked up through microphones. I have no idea why not straight to a recorder. I have no idea what kind of synthesis Matthews uses, but no doubt its something along the lines of max/msp or audio mulch. Instead working on a long stretch, Matthews keeps his pieces short and to the point, say between three and five minutes. Its his interest to have these sounds, the field recordings and the processed sounds, play together, very much like listening to your walkman on the train: you hear the music and the train. Matthews looks for combinations of sounds that may not work and figure out some dialogue, rather than using combinations that he knows already. It delivers ten quite interesting pieces of music, in which is not not always, or perhaps hardly, to recognize the original field recording, unless of course some electric charges have been recorded. But then sometimes a speaker from a train station pops up, birds or rain sounds. The processed parts work actually quite well with these field recordings - things melt and blend together in quite a nice way. And because every track is quite short, Matthews had to think about the character of each piece, trying not to make it too similar but also not too different. Here too, he has succeeded pretty well, I think. Its almost like a pop album in some way. But of course never quite, real, pop music, but in its compositional approach it certainly is. Very nice album throughout. (FdW)
Address: http://www.con-v.org

ROSE & SANDY - CAT'S CRADLE (CD by Moving Furniture Records)
Of course Rose & Sandy are not Rose & Sandy, but a duo of Ruaridh Law (TVO/The Village Orchestra, Marcia Blaine School for Girls) and Dave Donnelley (Production Unit, Marcia Blaine School for Girls) from Scotland, but then I don't know who is Rose and who is Sandy. The label's website lists a long story about a zither, or actually something like a zither, being given to 'Sandy' by his father. A funny story which describes how it looks and what it does. I suggest you read it yourself, saving me to repeat a long story. So Sandy played the instrument while Rose did all the processing, done into two different sessions, which were edited together into the piece 'Cat's Cradle'. Its not easy, when listening to this almost forty minute work, to say what the instrument does, doesn't, where processing comes in and when it leaves. It seems to me that the beginning is where we hear the instrument in its most pure form, but after some six minutes into the piece, the processing drops along and even, say somewhere around twenty-six minutes, it seems to be taking over entirely for a few minutes. But it works well. There is a beautiful grainy and sustainy quality to the piece, which makes it partly a drone piece, but there is just a bit more to it than just that. An excellent musical trip of gliding scales, buzzing electronics, hissy tapestries and perhaps more such common places. A wintery feel hangs over this music and there sets the mood on the shortest day of the year. The music dies out like the fading day light. Sad and beautiful. (FdW)
Address: http://www.movingfurniturerecords.com/

Its been a while since I last heard music by Brent Gutzeit, formerly (?) of TV Pow, but also with some solo albums to his name, which I didn't all hear. Meirino, formerly known as Phroq, is perhaps more active, or perhaps more of his music lands on my desk. He's one of the more interesting composers that go beyond playing 'just' noise: he composes with the notion of noise in his mind, but adds balance to it. Not just an onslaught of loud sounds without much depth, but also adding more dynamics and at times something 'soft'. There is always an element of subtleness in his music. Gutzeit proved to be a master of more sustaining, droning pieces of music, so let's see what five years of exchanging audio data brings us. Its probably not easy to say who does what here, and perhaps I haven't got all the insight to say something about it, but this seems to me more an album of Meirino playing around with the sound input from Gutzeit then vice versa. There is a fair amount of drone like sounds to be found in these pieces for sure, there is no mistake to be made there, but there is also a (greater) amount of noisy injections to be found here, which I assume as Meirino's work. Heavily computer based in its methods of processing, the ten pieces make pretty strong collages of sound. Things buzz around on end, and there is always that low flying engine bass sound to be spotted, that will rip your speakers apart. A highly dynamic set of music, that, clocking in at almost an hour will never bore the listener for a single second. A strange buzzing and ringing sound will remain long after this is over. (FdW)
Address: http://www.franciscomeirino.com

When Audiobulb released a CD by Hans van Eck (see Vital Weekly 679) I was pleasantly surprised. Not only because it was something by someone I knew from a long time ago (his music, not the man), but also because it was so different than what the label put out so far. With The Hole Punch Generation they step out of their usual routine (if Audiobulb would have or care about such things) again, but going in an altogether different routine. The Hole Punch Generation is a trio of Patrick Balthrop (vocals, guitar, synth), Caleb Epps (bass, synth, live video) and Adam Sturtevant (drums), who are from Boston and they are around since five years. Apparently they also use Supercollider, Max/msp, Reaktor, toy pianos, field recordings and sound designs 'chopped up live using Monomes', but despite all of that I must say I find this all very hard to hear on this album. 'A thick emotional stew of electronic and shoegaze elements. Think Radiohead, Sigur Ros and Coldplay', the label says. Now Coldplay I never liked - old man's music for young people, the Sigur Ros influence I may not hear very well, but I can certainly hear elements of Radiohead here. I can see that, but do I like it? Sometimes I do play a bit of Radiohead ('Kid A' is my favorite still), but The Hole Punch Generation seems to have pushed the electronic to such a level we don't hear it anymore, or just not well enough. That I think is a pity, since it leaves with a nice album of more or less standard shoegazing rock music. Yes, not what one would expect from a label like Audiobulb. Hearing that over the christmas period with nothing much else to do than reading a book, drinking coffee and other such lazy activities, this is actually highly enjoyable. Not my cup of tea as such, but just as I like that Radiohead album every now and then, The Hole Punch Generation provides that nice antidote in listening routines. (FdW)
Address: http://www.audiobulb.com

Z:#2 (CD compilation by :zang)
Norway's :zang label have proved so far to posses a broad mind when it comes to releasing music.
From the serious likes of Roel Meelkop or Pal
Asle Pattersen to improvised music by Sonarophon or Bjerga/Iversen and mutant popmusic from HOH. There is a place for it all. That makes a compilation damn difficult to review, but it may serve a great introduction to many new artists and (or?) it can serve as an interesting alternative to a radio station. Sixteen tracks spanning their territory, with as far as I can judge mainly Norwegian, save for Roel Meelkop and Frans de Waard from The Netherlands and Pumice from New Zealand, although for some others I have no idea where they are from (like Forus or Spiritual Liberation) - the information side of this is pretty scarce. As said a highly diverse bunch of music here, in which the more 'difficult' music (by Forus, De Waard, Pettersen, Meelkop) gets snowed under (couldn't avoid that expression) in the more rhythmical outings by HOH, Vas¯k, Nes, QRT, Spiritual Liberation or the louder improvised noise of Bjerga/Iversen or the rockiest agenda of Pumice. As said, a fine alternative to alternative radio and a likewise fine introduction to many new artists.
Address: http://www.zang.no

ANOREXIA MENTAL (CD by Larraskito) *
A slightly chaotic cover for Anorexia Mental, a duo from Basque land of Daniel LLaria (who plays 'ahotsa, teklatu and baxua') and Itziar Markiegl (who plays 'ixi-software, garrasiak, and something which is represented by a symbol). Most other text is in their native language too. Which I guess is a pity. The only English line, on the press text, says it is recorded in a professional studio. Well, then! Should I now insert something about how it all sounds? There is indeed a certain depth to this. But I am slightly confused by their music. Its quite 'free', essentially based around vocals, which scream, shout and howl and a whole bunch of free form sounds. I hear a bass, electronics (reverb on the voices for instance, maybe they should have used a less professional studio), maybe a synth here and there. However they don't really seem to be interested in adding enough variation in their playing to justify a sixty-two minute album, whereas probably half that length would have been enough to proof the same point. And its not exactly my point, but who knows there is room for some strangely improvised music.
The other new release on Xedh, run by Miguel A. Garcia (of whom I rather see having a new record out!), is Mubles, a group of which he's a member too, along with Loty Negarti, Kakofunk and Alvaro Matilla. On this occasion that is, as the group has a floating membership, as far as I know. Here they have a live recording from exactly two years ago, December 27th 2008. I am not sure why it needs to be released now. Very much along the lines of their previous release (see Vital Weekly 761), this is less about noise than the first (Vital Weekly 644) and all about free improvisation on a bunch of instruments and toys: drums, toys, electronics. Picked up via a microphone in the centre of the hall, it picks up a room in which sound is being generated. Throughout it builds up towards a crescendo through the addition of electronics. That makes this piece more controlled (but not entirely composed) than the two previous outings by Mubles. Another band from Bilbao (both of them called 'the most controversial bands of Bilbao') is Cooloola Monster, which is Garcia and Carlos Valverde (who was in a previous incarnation of Mubles) and we find them in noise land together. Garcia did such things in an earlier part of his career and that was for me the least interesting part. Its essentially a long howl of distorted voices and likewise distorted electronics. Not my cup of tea actually, its the kind of noise that is dated, conservative, lacking dynamics and any sort of idea, composition and probably effort. No doubt for both Mubles and Cooloola Monster goes that seeing and experiencing this is the better option than releasing it on CDR.
Garcia, as Xedh, is also present on 'Escala No Uniforme' a compilation put out by the Escala netlabel, and you can download the whole thing, but since its the fourth anniversary release, you can also buy it as a double CDR. It shows that since Vital Weekly no longer reviews MP3 releases, we are out of touch what happens on netlabels, as not many of these names may much to me. Lots of electronic, rhythmic music is to be found here on disc one, in all kinds of variations. Down tempo, up tempo, IDM, straight forward 4/4 by musicians such as Pirata, Pleq, Rec Overflow & Javier Rubio, 3republica, Burdeos, Analogica, Stable Mechanism, Javier Rubio & Parsec, Erissoma, Crisopa and Logical Disorder. This is continued on disc two, but it seems to me that the material here is a bit more experimental. Still striving on beats, but somewhat lesser danceable, with longer ambient intro's. Xedh (who send me this) returns to another phase of his career when he explored beat oriented material, but here too works around ambient themes. I think that I, not known for dancing his socks off, liked this one more than the first disc. Here we have music by Sustainer, Danieto, Daoun & C. Gonzalez, Angel Galan, Musica Para Khaos, Trikome, Xedh, Ten & Tracer, Iqbit and nnID. Excellent stuff for traveling long journeys and tapping your feet away. (FdW)
Address: http://www.xedh.org/larraskito
Address: http://www.uzusounds.com/
Address: http://escalared.com

More music from Russia's Stanislav Vdovin, this time again on his own and with a proper cover. He hails from Nizhny Novgorod and dabbles in what we can loosely describe as microsound. To his end he uses synthesizers, electric guitar and bass guitar, with the addition of vocals and tibetan singing bowls on one track, played by others. In his earlier I seemed to detect a bit of Gas like music, but later on traces of Taylor Deupree and Kenneth Kirschner became more apparent, and this is also the case on this new release. Long stretched out sounds, clicki click rhythms of highly processed bass sounds, deep end rumble and throughout a mellow mood. Sometimes a piano sound pops up and carries a track around. All in slow pace, as Vdovin is never in a hurry. Do I like this? Yes, actually I do. Its some great winter mood music (although perhaps a government health warning would not be a bad idea: do not play this music if you hate dark days) and Vdovin has mastered the genre pretty well. And that might very well be the problem that I also have with this release: it all sounds so familiar, so closely related to much of the 12K/Line catalogue. Vdovin seems to be bringing very little new to the table of microsound. What he does is good, but he should definitely try and work out what he wants to make of his own, in stead of copying what is out there in big amounts. (FdW)
Address: http://www.occasionlabel.org

Up to Vital Weekly 741 I never heard of Nicoklas Mohanna, despite his releases as Vakhchav,  with releases on Abandon Ship, Blackest Rainbow and Small Doses. 'Transmission Hue' was his first release under his own name, and Slow Flow announces 'Optics' as the companion album, so I assume he uses again guitar, modular analogue synthesis and electronics, although its not mentioned as such on the cover. Its not easy to tell either, but it could very well be. Five tracks here, just over thirty-seven minutes of music and it extends indeed 'Transmission Hue'. Here too we have pieces that have a sense of rhythm, but still never operate as real rhythms. More like repeating, small blocks of sound, such as in the opening piece 'Green Sea', where it is a bit nervous, still the runaway train type of thing. They ride on the back of nice set of drone like processed guitar sounds which move around in gentle way. No summer's day to play this, but in those slow days around christmas time, surely another worthwhile release to have on repeat, such as I did with 'Transmission Hue', and the verdict 'well entertaining' also applies to this release. It borrows nicely from microsound, minimal music, drone and perhaps again from krautrock too. More convinced about the quality too - a new star is born? (FdW)
Address: http://slowflowrec.web.fc2.com/

Back in Vital Weekly 695 we already reviewed Instagon, a band from the Bay Area, which already exists since 1993. 'Thee Screams Ov Angels On Thee Deaf Ears Ov Man' was pretty noisy, but in an improvised way. It used bass, synthesizer, guitar, maybe even a bit of vocal. The press text for the new release says the band has no genre boundaries, which is quite right. Here Instagon is a seven piece band, using drums, guitars, deth cello, moog synth, keyboards, saxophone, deamon rider, lead bass and vocals. The label compares this with Tristeza, God Speed You Black Emperor and early Pink Floyd, and that's all very much true. In fact Instagon manage to sound like a fine cross-over between anything space rock really and add a subtle jazzy touch to the recipe. Mainly the saxophone, drums and bass add that particular flavor to the proceedings. Highly psychedelic as such with fuzzy guitar lines, spacious doodling on the moog and fine improvisation all around. Probably no mistake that from the previous release I liked 'The Handstamp Conspiracy' best. This new release seems to be taking that route further and space is the place. Although this music is only found very infrequently on my player, I must admit I quite liked this.
Oh 'Ov'. As long time readers might know, I am slightly allergic to the word 'Ov' when 'Of' is what we mean. Or magick, or Psychick. The Autonomous Individuals Network (AIN23, of which Instagon also seems to be a part) is a group of… well individuals, connected to the Thee (yuck) Temple Of Psychick Youth, although they stress that they have nothing to the UK sect of one GPO. The (thee?) invited a bunch of people to supply music that would last 23 seconds long, which was then mixed into a collage of thirty seven minutes, a 23 second track of all the sounds at the same time, and the rest of the disc has 97 individual samples. A nice playground for adventurous DJs no doubt, or simply to be used as intersections in your radio show. The thirty-seven minute collage seems to be a mere playing of all the pieces in one row and without much overlaying of sounds, which is a pity. Or perhaps I just have different expectations when I hear the word 'collage'? A pretty long of guests, of which GX Jupitter-Larsen seems to me the most known one. Perhaps the digital equivalent of a locked groove record? (FdW)
Address: http://www.tif.org
Address: http://www.ain23.com/23sot

RAGLE GUMM - 2ND (3"CDR by Taalem)
Now that Drone records stopped releasing 7" records, there is only one long standing drone label left to follow, and that's Taalem, who reach now their 70th release with these new three releases.
Encomiast have been around since 1999 and had their release reviewed back in Vital Weekly 271. Every now and then they have a new release (see also Vital Weekly 465, 508 and 588). Reducing from a trio, then a duo, now being the solo project of Ross Hagen. Apparently at the foundation of 'Malpais' there is some olf folk song from Hagen's collection, and its played here along with other pieces from that collection. He could have fooled me though. It sounds like he sampled a bunch of guitars, perhaps from those folk songs, and feeds them a bunch of reverb units. Perhaps a bit too many reverb for my taste, as it resembles a somewhat metallic sound, but then that's, sometimes, the life of a drone piece. It sounded alright, but perhaps also a bit unfinished. One senses there could have been more work to it to get a somewhat better composition. It now holds in between a finished piece and a somewhat improvised piece of music. Which, I guess, makes a difference then.
Ragle Gumm is a total mystery, even for us, so says Taalem. He (she?) send a work out of the blue and otherwise it seems there is a work from him coming on Elsie & Jack. Apparently this work is full of voices, by claim of Taalem, which I must admit I don't hear, but its an interesting piece of music. Obviously the majority of is drone based, but Gumm throws in some sampled rhythm patches, which he chops up for good measure. That adds a curious feel to the piece, like high voltage electrical charges being sparked off. Sometimes the piece is on the verge of collapse, but it never really does, fortunately. The drones presented here are in a much more upright fashion, direct in your face and as such quite nice. Who is Ragle Gumm then?
Mark Bradley seems to me a new name, despite his releases for Basses Frequences, Ruralfaune, Reverb Worship and Idrone Park. Bradley calls his music 'moonlight ambient' - which is something I never heard before. Gracenote recognizes this 'The Story Of Amazing Grace' by Pilgrim Bible Church, which may (or may not) put a smile on Bradley's face. I thought it was funny and perhaps even somewhat appropriate for the somewhat celestial drones played by Bradley. It starts out soft, but then slowly builds up. I am not sure if these are just one or more analogue synthesizers, or perhaps even digital ones, or wether some computer processing took place. It might or might not be. Peaceful music (except for that one bit which seems a bit too loud), quite nice and without any damage done. And as such nothing new under anything 'mood' or 'ambient'. (FdW)
Address: http://www.taalem.com

YEAST CULTURE - STICK MEN (cassette by Petri Supply)
Mark Schomburg was once the mysterious and legendary figure behind Yeast Culture, with only a handful of releases, but packed to great legend on his likewise small Petri Supply label. He was also running a mailorder called Incubator, before going into long hibernation. But since about a year he's back and mainly releasing cassettes, old and new. This Yeast Culture release is both old and new. Old in the sense of recording, new in terms of mixing. The sound was recorded during the first Merzbow USA tour in 1989 when he also played Incubator's home town Seattle. For this occasion Schomburg sculpted a performance environment for Merzbow to play in, made of found materials from nearby streets. The place was transformed into a sort of hospital room, with plastic body bags, plastic sheets, along with spark generators that would spark electricity every now and then. There was wood and metal chairs. I am quoting from the website, in case you are wondering if I was actually there. Schomburg hid microphones into the sculptures and recorded the sounds onto a four track, sometimes playing the mix back into the space as things were built. In November 2010 the original four track tapes (ten in total!) were found again and mixed into two pieces of thirty-two minutes and I'm sure will be greeted with much delight by Yeast Culture fans. One side is the title piece, essentially building the sculpture and the other the drones that were made after the proceedings were over. This is exactly as Yeast Culture should sound like: highly minimal with detailed, small changes in the material to go along every now and then. In building the sculpture we hear sometimes hammering but throughout these strange, ever changing drones in a mid to high end range. Like sound being picked up from various spots in a bigger area - which is no doubt is. The other side has the obscured rumble of objects on surfaces, both closely miked but also taped from a wider distance. Perhaps all a bit more raw than 'IYS' LP, but with a likewise mysterious quality to it. Highly minimal as said, and the best is to sit back, put the tape on auto reverse and leave it playing for a couple of hours. And the packaging? Handpainted, screened box with things stuck on the label. I am so curious what else the vaults hold for us. (FdW)
Address: http://www.hrakra.blogspot.com

FRANS DE WAARD - ARREL / JUUR (Cassette by Banned Productions)
Ah, cassettes! I just love 'm. Especially when they contain good music. And Arrel/Juur contains some fine music indeed, though unfortunately not a lot of it as this is a c30 cassette. There are two tracks, both created using walkmans, shortwave radio, Korg MS 20 synthesizer and soundfiles. The first one, Arrel, starts off with a delicate soft looping, before the Korg MS 20 gets involved with low volume tones. Add to this some shortwave radio sounds and, again low volumed, white noise ending in a slower loop that sounds almost like an after-sigh and you have some magnificent music. Side B, Juur, is, I have to say, even better.  Here the sound is almost inaudible with deep sounds from the MS 20 and a crackling sound that sound a bit like field recordings of footsteps. Great music and in a sense, a surprise from Frans de Waard to those who identify the man with harsher, more conceptual music. Here the music breathes and sways, intimately, almost like an open letter to someone dear. (FK)
Address: http://www.bannedproductions.com