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BRUCE GILBERT & BAW - DILUVIAL (CD by Touch) *
MIKA VAINIO & JOACHIM NORDWALL - MONSTRANCE (CD by Touch) *
JORGE ANTUNES – IN DEFENSE OF THE MACHINE (CD by Pogus)
YRSEL - ABRAXAS (CD by 231 Records/Tuguska) *
AQUAVOICE - GREY (CD by Zoharum) *
RAFAL KOLACKI - PANOPTIKON (CD by Mikrowsparcie) *
DAVID VELEZ/SIMON WHETHAM - YOI (CD by Unfathomless)
HUNTER COMPLEX - HEAT (LP by Narrominded)
GRZEGORZ BOJANEK - CONSTRAINTS (CDR by Eta Label) *
STUART CHALMERS - CROSSINGS (CDR by Somehow Recordings) *
MARTIN STEINEBACH - DEROTATION (CDR by Sincope) *
GRIZZLY IMPLODED - ANABASI (CDR by Sincope) *
PENTADRVG - HEX (CDR by Resdatcom) *
IF BWANA/SUSTAINED DEVELOPMENT/ELEKTROJUDAS/EMERGE - CROSSGRAINED (double CDR by Attentuation Circuit)
HUH - HOLY SHIT (CDR by Attentuation Circuit) *
EMERGE - LIVE AT LAB.30 (CDR by Attentuation Circuit) *
PORCJE ROSOLOWE - INSECTS 1-3 (CDR by BDTA) *
VENN CIRCLES & MAREK BRANDT - TUPLE (CDR by BDTA) *
BOLESLAW WAWRZYN - I (CDR by BDTA) *
BOLIDE - PERM MUTATIONS (CDR by The Slightly Off Kilter Label) *
DANIEL SPICER - YLVMYLVY (CDR by The Slightly Off Kilter Label) *
PAUL KHIMASIA MORGAN - BLUE POLES (CDR by The Slightly Off Kilter Label) *
AMALGAMATED - NO WAY OUT (cassette by Metaphysical Circuits)
GAUTE GRANLI - VELKOMMEN TIL FORUS (cassette by Skussmaal)
BRUCE GILBERT & BAW - DILUVIAL (CD by Touch)
MIKA VAINIO & JOACHIM NORDWALL - MONSTRANCE (CD by Touch)
In my formative years, low on cash, I had to make choices as to what to buy and what not. I kept reading about Wire, but never bought their records when they came out. I am not sure why, other than the short on cash routine. However I got into the solo records of Gilbert & Lewis, one half of Wire, as Dome, Cupol and such like. Maybe I was into the experimental music more then into the more rock/post punk thing of Wire. Throughout the years I kept my ears wide open for any solo work of Bruce Gilbert, although I readily admit I wasn't blown away by his more noisy output. He's no longer a member of Wire, and only very sparsely releases new music, but here he teams up with a duo called Beaconsfield ArtWorks, short BAW, which is David Crawforth and Naomi Siderfin. Their album has global warming/the rising of sea levels as it's central theme, and all of the sound is generated from field recordings made at beaches in Suffolk and London, 'conceptual scoring, visual installation and sonic performance', into seven tracks - think the seven days of the creation, or perhaps Stockie's opera of seven days. Siderfin made the score and 'iphone field research', while Gilbert and Crawforth responded with 'synthesised sound'. While I am not sure about the recording process as such - either the work of improvisation or meticulously composing; it could be either way - I must say that every time I play this release, and it has been a few times in the past week - this grows and grows on me. Delicate and subtle electronic drone music, which is carefully constructed, and which somehow fits the theme of rising sea levels quite well. The music has a similar back and forth character of sea waves, not quick, not loud, but calm and introspective, but yet it seems to be on a rise all along. The electronic music imitates, or seems to do so, sounds from nature - sea, insects, wind - and it works in a great way. Every time I play this I discover new elements. Great stuff. I didn't expect something different from Bruce Gilbert.
Also on the collaboration side, but then recorded in a single day in June 2010 in a studio in Berlin (actually the studio of Einsturzende Neubauten), is the release by Mika Vainio (erstwhile of Pan Sonic, playing electric guitar, processing, metallic percussion) and Joachim Nordwall (of Skull Defekts, of Ideal Recordings and on electronics, electric bass guitar, metal objects, hammond organ and vibraphone). They recorded a bunch of pieces which were later mixed by one Daniel Karlsson. I must say that I think the music was sort of alright but not great. Lots of this evolves around the playing of guitar and creating fuzzy drone scapes with these. There are bits of electronics, which work best for me, a short piece like 'Irkutsk' for instance, which is less about those guitars and the reverb drenched percussive sounds. Like I say, it's alright but not great. This is one of the instances where you could wonder if Touch would release this if these were two mister nobodies. I doubt that. I am not sure if more recording would have saved it, or perhaps in the editing process the addition of more sound material. I know both of these men as people who are very capable of releasing some great music, and perhaps it is as such that I think this is a somewhat disappointing release. (FdW)
JORGE ANTUNES – IN DEFENSE OF THE MACHINE (CD by Pogus)
Pogus surprises with a release of electronic works by Jorge Antunes, spanning almost 40 years. Antunes is a Brazilian composer and pioneer of electro-acoustic music. He studied violin and composition, and started building electronic instruments in the early 60s. Antunes is still in business: he is professor of composition at the University of Brasilia and president of the Brazilian Society for Electroacoustic Music. Many of his compositions are about combinations of conventional acoustic instruments, tape and electronics. This is also the case for the works offered on this release. It contains three early works from the 60s, plus 4 compositions of the 90s and 2003. ‘Insubstituivel 2a (1967) is written for cello and tape. An odd combination of conventional and unconventional elements. The piece is very melodic, showing that Antunes also combines known musical elements as melody and rhtyhm with unheard organisations of electronic sounds. ‘Mixolydia’ (1995) is a fine piece for theremin and tape. Opening with a singing theremin, short, harsh sounds start to break in and to interfere with the theremin. Fine contrasts are the result. I enjoyed the playing of Lydia Kavina on theremin. ‘Miro escucho miro’ is a battle between piano and tape, a piece that shows orchestral proportions and inspired on the paintings by Miro. In other compositions Antunes chooses of other acoustical instruments as the marimba, tenor saxof piano. The title piece of the album is divided in three parts, and shows very successfully the balanced interaction between acoustic and electronic sounds. Balancing between the known and the unknown I felt pleasantly lost in this garden full of exuberant flowers (DM)
YRSEL - ABRAXAS (CD by 231 Records/Tuguska)
A duo from France and Sweden, consisting of Julien Louvet (who you might know from Austrasian Goat, Death To Pigs, 14:13) and CJ Larsgarden (whom we know as Ondo, APF and Forest City), who already released two albums in 2010 and played some concerts shortly after in France and Belgium. A collaboration of humans meeting up and not gigabytes being exchanged. They spend two years making this album of nine tracks, which lasts nearly 80 minutes (and it is also available as a double CD). Instruments aren't specified as such, but me thinks there is lots of guitar sounds, electronics, processed acoustic instruments and such like. I wouldn't bet my life on it, though. There is guest vocals by Alice Dourlen on 'Asat', but I must admit I wasn't blown away by that piece. Her vocals are drenched in reverb to add something mysterious to the music but it's a bit too much, maybe because of the length of the piece - seventeen minutes. All of these pieces are hardcore atmospheric: lots of sustain on the strings, lots of reverb in and out of place, mumbling vocals and the overall color is grey towards black, rather than towards white. Perhaps doom drone is the best description of this. I enjoyed it however, maybe because I was trying to continue to read 'Game Of Thrones' (or whatever it is called) and Yrsel provided the best bleak soundtrack for a book on murder and deceit, and when it came to vocals here, I was a bit less interested, but mainly because it wasn't my cup of tea. It's music that works well on CD, I thought, as you flow from one piece into the next, rather then interrupt your flow and switch to the next side of the record. Very nice indeed, very dramatic. (FdW)
AQUAVOICE - GREY (CD by Zoharum)
Life from other space is still a massive source of musical inspiration, perhaps because we have no clue about it. Here we have Polish musician Tadeusz Luczejko, who calls himself Aquavoice, and his microphone is up in the sky, with the opening piece 'S.E.T.I. Project'. The search for extraterrestrial life goes on, and hopefully I will not be accused of laziness when I compare this music with that of Andrew Lagowski, who sometimes works as S.E.T.I., but let's not forget SETI either, who released an album on Instinct Ambient in 1995. There are similarities in the use of the name, but also in musical approach. Lots of analogue synthesizer sounds, which are set to 'long sustain', and 'heavenly atmosphere' - both of them near the push button that says 'cosmic settings' - and we have a lift-off. Aquavoice takes us up for trip to 'Terra Incognita', to the 'Invisible World' and we see the 'Child Of The Moon' and an 'Air Sanctuary'. Holding court on earth are the sadly passed away Pete Namlook and Biosphere to see if the controls are set for the sun, and they are. Auqavoice plays text book ambient music and there is nothing wrong with that. There isn't a single moment where one could think that Aquavoice does something you haven't encountered before - especially on those mid 90s ambient/house waves - but he does it with great care for sonic detail and these ten pieces are a delight to hear. What more could you want? Every era needs it's own chill out music. (FdW)
RAFAL KOLACKI - PANOPTIKON (CD by Mikrowsparcie)
Polish' band HATI is a duo, of which Rafal Iwanski is also quite active as a solo composer under the guise of X:Navi:et. The other member is Rafal Kolacki, and seems less active solo, but here he has a solo album of his own making, although there are various guests to be found on this album. Just what these guests play is not clear, nor, as a matter of fact, what Kolacki does himself. Judging by what we hear, I assume we are dealing here with an album of electronic sounds, be it from analogue/digital synthesizers, or from processed sounds/instruments, in combination with real instruments. My best guess would be that these real instruments are played by the guests mentioned with those pieces (of which I only recognized D. Wojtas, I think) and that Kolacki is responsible for the electronic parts. The overall mood is one of deep atmospheres. There are flute and harmonium sounds in 'Zamknieta Pokrywa Slonca' and also the piano plays an important role in various pieces. A solemn atmosphere, but the music is not as drone like as you could perhaps all too easily think this would be. It's all rather musical in a more conventional sense. There is hardly a nasty moment, or overtly abstract to this music, and the somewhat ritualisk ambient of HATI is also not present here, although percussion plays a small role occasionally. It's all in all a pleasant moody trip, this music. Nothing offending, nothing radically new, nor really complex, but on the other hand it's all well-made, with a great ear for sonic detail. Very nice indeed. (FdW)
DAVID VELEZ/SIMON WHETHAM - YOI (CD by Unfathomless)
This release is the first split release, I think, on Unfathomless, but both artists were on the same field trip in Columbia. David Velez was doing his masters in Fine Arts in April 2011 and invited Simon Whetham for a workshop. This workshop took them to Colombian Amazonas - 'to record, explore and collaborate - and they got lost for a while and did a nightly trip on a raft. It's not something we can easily relate too, I guess, when we are just listening to the music, but if anything, this sure has an Amazonian quality to it. It's not a place I have been too - and maybe disqualifies me as a reviewer? - but if I would asked to describe what the rainforest sounds like, I would certainly describe something that is captured here in the pieces by Velez and Whetham. Velez has a twenty-four minute piece, while Whetham's is ten minutes longer and I am not sure if they are both based on the same set of recordings, or just on sounds captured as a whole during this trip. It doesn't matter I guess. The piece by Velez is more or less an ongoing affair of a multitude of sound layers, all, I think, derived from animals. It's quite loud and fierce this piece, maybe not too dissimilar from life in the jungle. Whetham takes on a more subtle approach and uses the collage technique to mark out differences in the material, and also seems to more interested in slightly altering the color of the sound, i.e. there is occasionally a bit more bass end here. It ends, or so it seems, on a long fade, getting darker and darker. Maybe this is the piece that reflects that nightly raft trip? Oddly enough, it indeed has a strange claustrophobic feel. Odd, as this is the jungle, we're speaking about. Very nice release! (FdW)
HUNTER COMPLEX - HEAT (LP by Narrominded)
Sometimes I worry that time goes by so quick. It's been really three years since I reviewed the eponymous CD by Hunter Complex, also known as the solo project of Lars Meijer, whom I know as the friendly boss of Narrominded, and as a boss not narrow minded at all. Three years. God. I enjoyed that CD, even have it on my ipod, I think, and here's a new LP. In an edition of 200 copies only, 100 on black vinyl and 100 on transparent vinyl. It's crisis everywhere, I was thinking, as this should, technically, be an album that one could sell pretty well. Hunter Complex plays electronic music with a strong pop edge. And I say that because I don't want to write: Hunter Complex plays electronic pop music. Meijer uses a bit of vocals, occasionally and moved to the background of the piece, but it's the instrumental music that is important and hence, perhaps, as such less 'pop music'. If anything, Hunter Complex looks for the early 80s to find it's sources for inspiration. Italo, Morodor, elektro, Simple Minds. Erm, Simple Minds? Apparently some keyboard lines are straight of Sons And Fascination, which I missed I guess, even when the Simple Minds are on of my favorite all-time bands - from all periods actually. The front cover also read like a catalogue of 80s apparatus: Linn Electronics, TR 707, TR 505, PPG Wave, Yamaha DX 7. That gives this record a certain aura of being dated, and that's perhaps exactly what I like about it. That whole 80s feel is what makes this record strong, not necessarily each track, but the total sum of music, instruments used, video stills used on the cover and perhaps even Meijer's singing. Not particular strong, but such was the way back then. A very pleasant record, highly entertaining. Great value! (FdW)
GRZEGORZ BOJANEK - CONSTRAINTS (CDR by Eta Label)
While I know it exists, I must admit I very rarely look at the world of online musical activity and the various communities that exist, which are centered around themes of working together with all sorts of specifications. I know Disquiet Junto is such a group and apparently Grzegorz Bojanek is an active member who has been posting his music there. He is quite pleased with his music so far for this group that he collected them together and released them on a CD. Quite rightly so, I guess, if you don't want to search for all of these. It's quite an extensive collection of twelve tracks, but Bojanek keeps his pieces within the three to five minute range, without having them very much to do with pop songs. But there are all nicely constructed from processed guitar playing, actual guitar playing, field recordings and all such like. The music he creates is glitchy yet warm and perhaps not always the most original kind around. Think early Stephan Mathieu, Fennesz in all his stages, and many more, and as such Bojanek is a builder on traditions, rather than an innovator per se. Not that is always necessary of course. Bojanek created some highly listenable music, with much flair and expertise and great control over the sound material. Relaxing post summer soundtrack. (FdW)
STUART CHALMERS - CROSSINGS (CDR by Somehow Recordings)
Music by Stuart Chalmers has been reviewed before (Vital Weekly 758, 764, 818, 867), and here is a new release and he still works around cassette tapes, pedals, contact mic, synths and percussion. His inspiration is found in the work of Martin Tetreault, Eivind Aarset, Philip Jeck, Lionel Marchetti and Andrei Tarkovsky. That may suggest a certain level of abstract-ness, but in the first two pieces, we find a fine use of rhythm and synth - easy going flowing waves? It works well, and it's played with great care. His releases show a way up, better music, better recorded, a refined quality. The element of plunderphonics is never far away in his music, such as the found voice abuse in 'Amalgam'. Collage is indeed his choice of approach, and in these six pieces, of which one is a remix by Jake Wittlin, this works best. Abstract notions arrive with 'Reverie' and connects his work to the world of musique concrete, which he continues in the next pieces. The lo-fi quality of his earlier releases is now replaced by something that sounds more professional, with more sonic depth. This is easily the best album I heard from Chalmers so far. The curve is going up and up. (FdW)
MARTIN STEINEBACH - DEROTATION (CDR by Sincope)
GRIZZLY IMPLODED - ANABASI (CDR by Sincope)
The turntable as instrument. I am not a big fan, although there are surely exceptions of those who do it really well, but by and large I think it's overvalued. So it is with some reluctance that I started with the CDR by one Martin Steinebach, whom we know as Coscentia Peccati since 1994, and also as Monoid, Stillstand and Compest, all musical names with different musical perspectives. I am not sure if I heard any of his work under his own name. To his credit we find 'vinyl manipulation, turntable operation, sound processing, looping and editing. His release contains four shortish pieces and one very long piece. The four and the one seem worlds apart. The long piece, called 'Singen' is an endless sustaining piece in which feedback seems to be in a sort of lock down, floating around in a weightless, timeless continuum. No sign of turntables here, and it's a great track. It's a little over one half of the release and makes up for the four pieces that did contain turntables, vinyl hiss and way too much reverb to invoke that oh so necessary sense of spookiness. It works best if the vinyl is least apparent such as in more noisy outing of 'Rand'. I am not sure what Steinebach wanted with this release which seems to be two different sides of his many talents. I enjoyed the long one for sure, but the others seemed out of place. It could have been as easily two different releases altogether, I should think.
Grizzly Imploded is a trio from Italy that play improvised music with a lot energy, violence and power. Francesco Gregoretti (drums), Maurizio Argenziano and Sergio Albano (both on guitar), but somehow I always seem to think there is a lot of electronics at play also. Maybe I am just wrong. Here we have six pieces that last about thirty minutes and lets us enjoy the band we know by now. Heavy pieces of improvised music, which are sometimes not very loud, such as in the opening piece 'After Have Lost His Head He Escaped', which is moving like a slow yet vicious snake through the grass. There is in this music always an imminent explosion around the corner, such as the heavy 'Transfigured Into Feelings Of Anxiety And Fear'. Totally free music with a ton of energy running around, leaving the listener either flat out or totally re-vitalized. There is no way this music leaves us indifferent. I was thinking of my local heroes Donne & Desiree, who walk a similar path of free musical expression and who invoke with me a similar feeling. I am sure there are plenty more. Free improvisation meets the edges of punk rock. Loud and clear over and out. (FdW)
PENTADRVG - HEX (CDR by Resdatcom)
Releases by the Dutch label Resdatcom always come with a letter in English, but the letter never has more then something along the lines of 'please review this'. I'd always hope they would tell me a bit more about the musicians who made this, but the website tells me this: "pentadrvg is from Russia and explores the realm of ritual ambient. ‘hex’ contains two trance-inducing compositions." Well, it's something, if not a lot. There are two pieces here, both around twenty-two minutes (maybe they hoped to release a LP of this?), and it actually sounds much more interesting than what the brief description on the website promises. You could all too easily think this is some two part drone like affair, with long form sounds, but it's not. It's perhaps more like two collages of sound, more surreal however than dada if you get my drift, of bits and pieces of sound they stuck together. In the early days of part one I was thinking they listened to MB pretty well, but it turned out that the sounds becomes softer and sounds like out of reach radios, leaking chemicals into monotron synthesizers, field recordings of active nuclear plants and such like. It's quite a vivid picture of sound that they swirl around here. There is even a bit for two bass guitars in the opening sequences of the second part. Excellent release I thought. A bit of noisy ambient, a bit quieter industrial music, musique concrete influenced tape collage and brought to you with some fine imagination. (FdW)
IF BWANA/SUSTAINED DEVELOPMENT/ELEKTROJUDAS/EMERGE - CROSSGRAINED (double CDR by Attentuation Circuit)
HUH - HOLY SHIT (CDR by Attentuation Circuit)
EMERGE - LIVE AT LAB.30 (CDR by Attentuation Circuit)
The first new release of this trio on Attenuation Circuit (and check their bandcamp page as they also have a lot of digital only releases) is a documentation of an evening in Augsburg on July 4th 2012. The program had two 'bands' and one jam session, all duly documented here. The first CDR is a thirty minute piece that is perhaps also a jam session, by Germany's laptop squad, and label owners, Emerge, Elektrojudas and Sustained Development. They set their music around a number of improvisations for electro-acoustic sounds, all heavily treated with electronics and laptop techniques. It's quite alright, but not great. Sometimes they hit upon something that works pretty well, but then sometimes it derails a lot, and it seems nobody is listening to what the others are doing. Overall, not bad, I'd give this 6 out of 10.
By curious contrast we find on the second disc something entirely different. Three live pieces by If, Bwana which show us Al Margolis' fine talent of bringing contemporary classical music to the world of microsound, home taping and above all to the laptop. His three pieces are for three different instruments, bassoon, flutes and guitars, and judging by the titles, 'Many Many Flutes' and 'Massed Guitars', we can be sure Margolis didn't play them all by himself. Through his laptop he mixes these bits of flutes, bassoon and guitars together and creates a fine sustaining modern classical piece of music. Think Scelsi or Phill Niblock, and it's excellent drone like music. Absolutely worthwhile alone getting this for. And as such events go, the evening ends when they are all on stage and play together - the jam session (although perhaps we already had a jam session on the first disc?). Everybody brings his own sounds and methods to the table, which in 'Crossgrained 1' starts out nice, Margolis taking the lead, but ends in a bit of blur. Sometimes similar could be remarked about their second piece. Maybe not all of the improvising skills were top that night, but there is room for improvement I think in that department.
Also on the level of improvisation is the highly limited release by HUH, a duo from Tokyo of Kyosuke Terada and Takuma Mori, who use drums, guitars, screams and samplers. I hardly lump releases together from different labels (but always from the same label when they arrive at the same time), but playing this not long after the one by Grizzly Imploded - see elsewhere - it's not difficult to spot the similarities. Here too we have a sort of rock set up, and HUH play with a similar wild energy their totally free improvised punk rock inspired music. There are also differences, albeit small ones. The singing is of course one, and sometimes they use their voices to create a form of sound poetry. Where Grizzly Imploded is more closed off, HUH has a bit more air between the notes, ranging more in the dynamic spectrum. Maybe HUH is also more free jazz then the Grizzly Imploded. About the same length here, about thirty minutes, and here too I had the feeling this was the right length for such a release. Quite tiring, but in a very refreshing way.
Label boss Emerge, who likes us to spell it like EMERGE, has already a whole bunch of releases on his own label, and slowly emerges - pun intended - to be our next Aube. It seems that he uses per release one sound source, and in this case this is coins, which he uses in a tin can and amplifies the sound with a contact microphone and digital effects and samplers. This leads to heavy metallic rumbling, occasionally very loud and sometimes a bit softer. It's not his best work, but the value of this release lies therein, should you care about such things, that this is the first live concert Emerge ever did. The recording is mildly distorted, maybe by accident, maybe by intend, but I guess the main reason for letting this out, is the historical fact and not so much the content. It's most of times not bad at all, but when he shakes that can around, and feeds it through reverb, it makes a chilling, distorted high sound and that simply doesn't sound that interesting. I guess something along the lines of what I just wrote on the live double CDR. (FdW)
PORCJE ROSOLOWE - INSECTS 1-3 (CDR by BDTA)
VENN CIRCLES & MAREK BRANDT - TUPLE (CDR by BDTA)
BOLESLAW WAWRZYN - I (CDR by BDTA)
A new label from POland with small jewel cases, new artists and highly cryptic releases. I started off with the least cryptic one, Porcje Rosolowe, of which we read: "the audio material included on the album was composed as a part of the installation 'About Insects' carried out together with Justyna Kociszewska". Porcje Rosolowe is a duo of Lech Nienartowicz and Meteusz Wysocki and the four pieces are interesting affairs of closely microphoned field recordings of insects, but then treated with electronics. It's quite low in volume. I am not sure if this is a deliberate choice, or simply because it was not mastered, but if you turn up the volume and block out outside sounds (which this morning was a bit of a problem here), you get thirty-six minutes of highly minimal soundscapes. In 'Equus Subterranis' evolving very much around low deep bass rumblings, but in the other three pieces this is all a bit higher in the frequency spectrum and sound indeed like the buzzing of insects. It's minimal, but not without any variation. In fact, this sounds like looking with a microscope into the world of insects: sounds are busy crawling around, buzzing with activity, yet on the surface it seems like a mass of similar sounds. Highly enjoyable.
More cryptic is the release by Marek Brandt and VeNN Circles. Brandt, who is from Leipzig, played at Animals Music Performance and stayed a bit longer in Lower Silesia and played three concert with VeNN Circles at Studio 27 in Poznan and in abandoned mental hospital. VeNN Circles is Gerard Lebik and Piotr Damasiewicz. Two pieces here, which total up to thirty-two minutes and the best I can make of it, that these three men sat around with a whole bunch of sound sources, stacked on laptops, mini discs, HD recorders, cassettes or whatever, and mixed these together, adding a bit of electronics. I am not sure wether there is any sign of a real instrument, but if so, I expect this to be some form of percussion. The field recordings are stacked high here, and this is a fine multitude of sounds being played together at the same time. I must say I quite enjoyed this release. It has a mildly disturbing character, it's minimal, but yet full of sounds and there is a lot of lively material in there. I was doing other stuff in the meantime, so I must have played this at least four times in a row, and not a single second I was thinking: I heard this before. Excellent.
With the release by Boleslaw Wawrzyn we start with birds and insects, a bit of wind. Nice! More field recordings. Wawrzyn is not an artist, but a 'bored, retired miner'. But then you study the liner notes and it turns out that all of these recordings were made at military cemeteries of the nazis, of the soviets. "For Bolesalw these places are the most charged with mysticism. Being in touch with flora, which - to put it most brutally and figuratively - grew out of the dead martyrs' ashes. The tragedy of their deaths gave a new beginning to roots". He also says he's not an artist, as "artists, they are in galleries", but his reasoning for releasing seventy minutes of field recordings from military cemeteries sounds like he knows the lingo of the art world. Maybe I am lazy, but let's re-run the review I did of a slightly similar release by Stephane Garin and Sylvestre Gobart, which applies here too (it was in Vital Weekly 773, should you be interested): "The other new release by Gruenrekorder I somewhat was reluctant to hear. Not because of its content - field recordings from Nazi concentration camps - but because of its intention. It has photos and sounds from various locations, but the whole thing just gives me the creeps. 'We wish to call up what cannot be seen any longer, but also to show that there is nothing left to see, in order to break with the vision we have grown accustomed to, by a certain collective memory, eager for spectacular' or that arty farty speak of 'our choice was dictated by a will to create abstraction and to break formally with an iconography that conditions our memory'. Just as much as I think that other projects from all of man's wrong doings, like nuclear disaster sites, is a mere con to sell a project to the world of art. There is not much difference between an empty room and an empty room. The field is innocent, so the forests of Drancy, Auschwitz, Birkenau etc are as innocent as those around my corner - it's men idiocy who is responsible the activity that went on there. You wouldn't know these sounds came from concentration camps, if you didn't read it. Does it make the whole thing more 'important', more 'interesting' or even more 'relevant'? We should never ever forget the holocaust, visit concentration camps, read books about it, but this double CD seems very wrong to me. I conducted a small experiment in which I played some of this to various people, sometimes letting them what it was and sometimes not. Those who didn't know, thought it was indeed just outdoor recordings, and those who did know did agree that it hardly makes a difference and it all still sounds like field recordings which could have been made anywhere. I do think however that the package is a strong reminder - never again - and a such of course its pretty well made." (FdW)
BOLIDE - PERM MUTATIONS (CDR by The Slightly Off Kilter Label)
DANIEL SPICER - YLVMYLVY (CDR by The Slightly Off Kilter Label)
PAUL KHIMASIA MORGAN - BLUE POLES (CDR by The Slightly Off Kilter Label)
Another trio of releases on the The Slightly Off Kilter label, of which the release by Bolide is my second encounter with their music. This is a six piece band from Brighton, formed in 2007, and originally they were the Bolide Awkwardstra, for an one-off gig, 'but the failed to disband', which is always a good reason for staying together, I should think. There isn't much information on the cover, about the line up, and who plays on which track, which would be nice to know, as the website says: "A collection of small groupings, solos, live artefacts, memento mori, phenomena, studio ritual, serendipity, phases of the moon, the tides, collage…" The music is all about free improvisation and the saxophone plays an all important role here, along with other wind instruments. It seems all inspired by free jazz, more than free anything else, but maybe that's because the wind instruments play an important role. Otherwise there is also the use of guitars, electronics and there is a bit of chit-chat around these recordings, which made me think that they were busking around, and took these recordings from the street. Perhaps not. I wrote back in Vital Weekly 835 about Bolide playing freaky music, played by freaky people, jamming together, all in the spirit of say Nihilist Spasm Band, which I reviewed last week. This band might be regarded as their grand sons. Maybe they'll be around for close to fifty years? Now that would be great, I should think.
Daniel Spicer is an artist who works mainly using his voice, as we have learned from his previous release on the same label, or his more recent tape for My Dance The Skull (see Vital Weekly 875), which I quite enjoyed. Here we have his sound poetry solo in three pieces, but in the other five he plays with other musicians, such as Tom Roberts on acoustic guitar and percussion, his 8 year old daughter Evie on violin and in two pieces, which last a total of fifteen minutes with free jazz groups. I don't think I recognized many names around here (Ron Caines (alto), Gus Garside (double bass), Andy Pyne (drums), Jeff Shurdut (alto), Hektor Fontanez (guitar), Derek Maxwell (drums), Gene Janas (double bass) if that helps. Spicer himself gets credit for voice, but also plays violin, trumpet, harmonica, bamboo sax, bells, gong and keyboard. Much of this is free music, again, obviously in the pieces with many musicians, but also in a small combination there is a strong love to keep things as free as possible. Lots of wind instruments here too, indeed, and that too makes this perhaps a bit too free jazz for me again. Words, vocals, voice, are all used in a similar free spirit, and not necessarily seems to be about something we should be able to understand.
Curious, perhaps, enough, label boss Paul Khimasia, does something else, music-wise, himself on what seems to be the first release under his own name on his own label, since it was founded in 2001. Unless of course these pieces of field recordings are put together in a similar free jazz mode, which I doubt. Those field recordings make up however a part of this release, not all. The other part is a combination of instruments (zither, e-bow, whistle) and electronics (feedback, shortwave radio, no-input mixer) and acoustic, such as copper tubing. His work becomes more and more interesting I think. These nine pieces here are a fine combination of whatever interests him, and that seems to be a lot. A bit of pure field recordings, a bit of electro-acoustic sound collages and a bit of music. Other than the pieces which use field recordings, which are actually a bit more sonically crude than what is usually the case with this kind of music, his 'other' pieces seem more put together along the lines of improvisation, but it's all, obviously I should say, less free jazz inspired. It's all a bit crude, but it has a fine charm throughout. Highly varied, this gives a fine clue as to what Morgan wants, so a fine introduction. (FdW)
AMALGAMATED - NO WAY OUT (cassette by Metaphysical Circuits)
The four piece Amalgamated returns. They (Bob Newell, Cory Bengtsen, Mike Richards and Phil Klampe) recorded music ages ago, which apparently nobody mixed or released and which is now being mixed by D. Petri, and released around the globe - see Vital Weekly 842, 857 and 881). here's more music from 2005, and continue with their music as we heard by now. Lots of this works with plain sampling of sounds from the environment but they also shoplift from TV, radio and other sources of entertainment, which they cut 'n paste together and create a finer than delicate piece, which one way or the other seem to be including some form of rhythm. This rhythm is now always a dance rhythm, but it will surely make your feet tap along. More krauty than four floors if you know what I mean. There is something about Amalgamated which just screams 'we're a psychedelic band', who are locked into a studio, freely jamming about waiting for say Steve Stapleton to drop by and add that surreal Nurse With Wound sauce to the mix. That happens expertly in the hands of this D. Petri. He knows how to melt this material into something that has the ongoing, psychedelic feeling and yet still is a great piece of music. It's good to hear this on a cassette which is longer then the 3" CDRs they released in the past. Here the music comes to a full boom and blooms. Very nice. (FdW)
GAUTE GRANLI - VELKOMMEN TIL FORUS (cassette by Skussmaal)
From the lovely city of Stavanger, Norway hails Gaute Granli, whose 'Velkommen Til Forus' doesn't contain any information, except that the cover design is by Yasutoshi Yoshida and that it's the first release on Skussmaal, his own label. I got that from a short note that came along with this tape and with the e-mail address mentioned below, where I could have informed myself if I wanted to know anything. Maybe I did want to know, but then I was thinking, if Gaute Granli wanted us to have information it would be perhaps on a website, or on the cover, so perhaps it's best to let the music speak for itself? I think, in fact I am sure, Granli plays guitar and has a bunch of electronics at his disposal. He strums, hits, bangs, fires the guitar around, mildly distorted, and adds electronics where necessary, but somehow it always manages to sound like a guitar. Sometimes it's very loud, in the sense of good ol' noise/power electronics, but the free range of his playing takes the matter at hand to a more quieter land occasionally. Gaute Granli is a fine improvisers on the guitar, and I was thinking: why would you want to do this solo and not part of some sort of band? I can imagine this being part of the Grizzly Imploded or Huh, to mention just two of the bands in a similar direction, reviewed this week. I have no idea if there is a game-plan for Gaute Granli, but this sounds like a most promising start anyway. Violent guitar shit - that could be the in-store sticker. (FdW)