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VITAL WEEKLY
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number 901
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week 41
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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!
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JAAP BLONK - LIFESPANS (CD by Kontrans) *
TANGENTS - I (CD by Hellosquare Recordings) *
HYBERNATION - OBJECTS STUDIES - METAL (CD by Rural Colours) *
LUCIO CAPECE - LESS IS LESS - MUSIC FOR FLYING AND PENDULATING SPEAKERS (CD by Intonema) *
AROVANE - VE PALOR (CD by n5md) *
DALOT - ANCESTORS (CD by n5md) *
HYDRUS - NODES (CD by Narrominded) *
MARCUS MAEDER - TOPOGRAPHIE SINUSOIDALE (CD by Domizil) *
HANS CASTRUP - SHADOWPLAY (CD by Karl Records) *
FRANCK VIGROUX - PRISME (CD by D'Autres Cordes)
FORGOTTEN BIRDS - SAHARA (CD by Karaoke Kalk) *
EITR - TREES HAVE CANCER TOO (LP by Mazagran)
HIGH AURA'D/BLOOD BRIGHT STAR (split 7" by Anti-Matter Records)
SURFACE HOAR - SIN-EATER (CDR by Galloping Foxley Recordings) *
TAMING POWER - SELECTED WORKS 2001 (CDR by Early Morning Records) *
BROKEN SYNTH/ NEON & THE OTHER NOBLE GASES (split CDR by More Mars)
KRAMPUSØ (CDR by After Music Recordings) *
BIONULOR - THEATRE MUSIC FOR SKAZANA (CDR by Oniron Label)
BIONULOR - THEATRE MUSIC FOR CORIOLANUS (CDR by Oniron Label) *
STAPLERFAHRER - THE FOUR ELEMENTS (3"CDR by Moving Furniture Records) *
FREDERIC NOGRAY - VACCABONS ET MALFACTOURS (3"CDR by Kaon) *
CHRISTIAN F. SCHILLER & HELMUT SCHÄFER - SCHLAGSCHATTEN (3"CDR by In-Dust) *
EUGENOISE/THE LAY LLAMAS - TAPE CRASH #6 (cassette by Old Bicycle Records)
SOFT BLACK STAR & ZENO CABAGLIO/MIKE COOPER  - TAPE CRASH #7 (cassette by Old Bicycle Records)
PICK UP - DEPARTURE (cassette by Ultramarine Records) *


JAAP BLONK - LIFESPANS (CD by Kontrans)
Over the past… well, maybe 15-20 years… I have seen a lot of concerts with Jaap Blonk, solo as well as improvising with others. His voice work is known throughout the entire world of avant-garde, I should think. He recites historical sound poetry, does weird stuff with his mouth and plays with musicians. Can he still surprise me, I was thinking right before I started to play 'Lifespans'. Yes, he surely can. A few years he took a sabbatical and learned how to program computer software; following his return, he offered us new music in which computers and software played some part but the voice was still his main instrument. In 'Keynote Dialogues', his previous release (see Vital Weekly 850), he also had a noise pieces and some that were computer processed voice pieces. 'Lifespans' is one work, spanning sixty-six minutes (for convenience reasons split into thirteen segments of five minutes each), and its like something I never heard from Blonk before. Apparently its based on a single sound sample, being played through whatever bit of software Blonk has mastered. You don't recognize a voice in here, but in stead it's all a rather noise based work. Heavily layered sounds, like a computerized version of Merzbow, but one that slowly builds up and then towards the end (from track ID #10 onwards) it goes down a bit, with less layers and notes being played on a midi keyboard, until finally breaking down to a few notes in the final piece. A very consistent work, and totally alien, it seems to me, for Blonk to do. I don't think he wants to re-invent himself as a noise composer, but he seems close to people like Ottavi or Mattin here, but finds his own voice (pun intended) in the world of computerized noise music. A surprise? Hell yes, what a surprise indeed. It made me curious if he does this in concert too, and how that would sound, and likewise curious to hear what will come next from him. (FdW)
Address: http://jaapblonk.com/

TANGENTS - I (CD by Hellosquare Recordings)
While leaving most of the jazz based releases with my colleague Dolf Mulder, I must admit there is a few exceptions, which for whatever odd reason I always want to hear for myself, and that is the nu-jazz scene of Australia. I have encountered some pretty interesting bands such as Spartak, Triosk, 3ofmillions and no doubt there are more; the press release here talks about Icarus and Four Play String Quartet. Another new name is Tangents, who just released 'I' and we come across some people we know: Shoeb Ahmad (guitar, vocals, computer), Evan Dorrian (drums, percussion), Adrian Lim-Klumpes (piano, rhodes, flute, electronics) but also the for me unknown Peter Hollow (cello, loops, vocals) and Ollie Brown (computer). The recordings were already made in 2010, but it took some time to get them 'in shape'. The Australian jazz is usually laid-back, with sparse notes on the piano, a brush here, a tom there, and with some deeper bass end sounds from whatever, however is playing the guitar, or bass, or electronics. Chamber music? Laptop jazz? Micro whatever? It's always a bit of everything, as these things go with jazz I guess. It's music that works best for me when it keeps introvert, quiet if you will, and friendly explores whatever possibilities the instruments have to offer. But the music of Tangents is more than that. They, occasionally, go into a wild, free mode, banging around on all their instruments, keeping a fine balance between instruments and electronics. There is always something happening in this multi-layered music. Wild, free, calm, introspective: it's one hell of a journey, expanding beyond the usual more chamber like jazz of their Australian peers; it's maybe something I have to get used to, but it sounds great after all. Great cover also! (FdW)
Address: http://hellosquarerecordings.com

HYBERNATION - OBJECTS STUDIES - METAL (CD by Rural Colours)
This might very well be the future of releasing CDs: a highly limited edition of say 100 copies (like this one) on a real CD in a great hand crafted cover, with an etching on an excellent paper stock. An art item for those who want it, and perhaps if you care less about objects you can always go to a digital store. Here we have a release by Stuart Bowditch, also known as Hybernation. He's been active since 1999 and as such he records and samples objects, and over the years it has become less rhythmic and more textured, using a variety of objects. In this new release however, he uses one object to create a track, all of them of a metallic nature. In one piece he uses contact microphones on a bridge and bikes along the bridge, or a metallic press, earrings and such like. The sampled sounds are then constructed into a piece, so maybe just a few bits are used. There is description for each track which is very nice to read and there is a great metallic yet warm atmosphere in this record. Moody, dark perhaps but also, with all of these processed small sounds from the original recording flying in and out of the mix. All of which retains a beautiful melodic undercurrent, which is very nice. I was reminded me of the latter phase of Poison Gas Research, by which time they were called PGR. A similar refined ambient sound of deep moves and tinkling bell like sounds on top. All created a single sound source, but unlike Aube not expanded into something that lasts one hour, but just short yet beautiful pieces of five-six minutes, which have it all. Drama, suspense and a fine build-up. Excellent release all around. (FdW)
Address: http://ruralcolours.co.uk

LUCIO CAPECE - LESS IS LESS - MUSIC FOR FLYING AND PENDULATING SPEAKERS (CD by Intonema)
Its not easy to tell you what it is that Lucio Capece does on the two pieces on this release, without re-writing the entire booklet. In the piece 'Das Temperierte Berner Münster' he recorded the empty cathedral, played back those sounds through wireless speakers, suspended from different colored balloons. Somewhere all along Capece plays the soprano saxophone. In 'Music For Pendulums And Sine Waves In Different Tuning Systems' its a bit more complicated, and I believe it has to do with three balloons and speakers attached to it and Capece playing analogue synthesizer. That piece is quite close to a sine wave like, endless sustaining, Alvin Lucier like piece of music. It's quite a soft piece of music here, but one that fits your living room pretty well. It fills them with these beautiful, waving, ever changing tones.
In the first piece we also have some of these sustaining sounds, maybe from the saxophone bits, but otherwise it's quite a mysterious piece of music. It has that similar atmosphere as being in a cathedral as a tourist. You try to be calm and gentle, and move along but you hear the slightest movement reverberating. That's how this piece sounds, and I must say, it sounds great. It's mysterious and dark, with very odd sounds coming in and out of the mix. The recording, no doubt with a pair of great microphones, sounds excellent. Throughout I think this is a most wonderful release. Excellent stuff. (FdW)
Address: http://www.intonema.org

AROVANE - VE PALOR (CD by n5md)
DALOT - ANCESTORS (CD by n5md)
HYDRUS - NODES (CD by Narrominded)
There was a time when I paid much more attention to electronic dance music than I do now. Maybe the times were different, circumstances or motivations, but at one point my interest waned. I am not sure when that was, but somehow the news that in 2004 Uwe Zahn stopped recording music as Arovane, as well as closing his Din label, never reached me. He's been quiet since but now returns with an album that he wanted to release in 2003, but didn't do. In the ten years following that he worked on other new pieces and this new album makes up for old and new pieces. It's interesting to hear this 'intelligent dance music' after all these years again, as it's not something I actually play a lot - privately or in my capacity as a reviewer; the latter only when I reviewed such labels as Expanding Records, City Centre Offices or Morr Music, all a very long time ago. There are twelve pieces here and they last in total an hour or so, which I thought was a bit much. There comes a time when you are well aware of the broken up rhythms, the jazzy piano/synth sounds and the stretched out sounds in sync with the rhythm. I think it's great for the classic LP length, thirty-five, forty minutes but beyond that there has to be a bit more variation in approaches, more variations on a tune. So, all in all, I think this is a fine album indeed, one that I think is hard to dance to (no matter how intelligent you are), but it works well on headphones, cycling around. Nice, but not the best I heard.
Something entirely different, but on the same label, is the EP (lasting forty-seven minutes, mind you) by Dalot, the musical project by Maria Papadomanolaki. She cleaned out her grandfather's desk and was reminiscing about the past and came up with the music, which is actually a collaborative effort with people like Sebastien Froment (cello), Izumi Suzuki (vocals), Marisa Pendarakis (violin) and Alexandr Vatagin (cello). Spacious, ethereal, heavenly music with heavenly voices. Quite atmospheric, but I wouldn't say 'dark' per se. I am not sure what Papadomanolaki's main instrument is but whatever it is that she does, she does it well. I assume that lies in the creation of spacious soundscapes using electronic means and/or processed acoustic instruments. These are cleverly woven together with the acoustic instruments played by herself and/or others and this nice moody album of autumn like music works well on this, perhaps, last sunny day in a while.
Maybe it's an EP indeed, if you count the three remixes of the title pieces taking up about half of the forty-seven minutes. These remixes are by Bvdub, Dryft and Northcape. The latter two add a bit of rhythm to the proceedings, while Bvdub just stretches the original elements into a somewhat overlong extended version of the original. All in all a nice release.
I know labels don't like this, this lumping in of releases into one long review, but since I just wrote that I hardly review Intelligent Dance Music these days, it's quite a surprise that I got another release along similar lines, by the Dutch band Hydrus. This is a duo, unlike many others in this particular musical field - 'very well be the most loathed name for a musical genre ever'. I am a bit surprised by the brief character of the album, only six pieces at twenty-six minutes. They program their own software, we are told but not something I could substantiate. Throughout I think their music is a bit more mellow than that of Arovane, perhaps a bit more slick and smoother. Maybe a bit more jazzy on the use of keyboards too. I don't exactly see people dancing to this, but perhaps I'm more of the straight forward dancing types, but this was pleasant as it is. Nothing great, nothing special, but surely well entertaining. (FdW)
Address: http://www.n5md.com
Address: http://www.narrominded.com

MARCUS MAEDER - TOPOGRAPHIE SINUSOIDALE (CD by Domizil)
Ah the quiet ones. I open up CDs in my audio editor to rip a bit for the weekly podcast, so sometimes I am a bit surprised how things 'look', which says something about the way things were recorded and not properly mastered, and sometimes it says something, I guess, about the intention of the composer. I read the text in the booklet, and if I understand correctly Marcus Maeder wants us to listen carefully to this very soft music of his, and have us listen to whatever else is going on in our environment. Or something like that. The listener can put up the sound a lot more and fiddle about with the frequencies as much you think seems fit. Isn't that what Francisco Lopez preached years and years ago, when he did his quiet releases. I 'normalized' the release, meaning the loudest bit becomes 0db and everything else is louder accordingly and heard some pretty interested electronic music, very 'ambient' in a way, but it seems all to from heavily treated feedback sounds and it has most of the times a gentle touch to it and sometimes its a bit nasty. It's all quite alright, but nothing special. I must say that the whole thing however seems a bit too pretentious pour moi, working around ideas that were explored well enough before. Nice, fine but no cigar. (FdW)
Address: http://www.domizil.ch

HANS CASTRUP - SHADOWPLAY (CD by Karl Records)
Another new name for me, Hans Castrup, born in 1957 and studied arts at the University of Osnabrück and works within the field of painting, photography, video, graphics, music and text. I am not sure if this is his first release. It only lists electronics and field recordings on the otherwise sparse but nice cover. The press text tells us we have here 'different analogue or digital sound sources such as synthesizers, effects, computer, field recordings or tape-machines'. It's not music that easily falls inside any sort of category, if that is your thing that is. His pieces are relatively short, say somewhere between three and five minutes, and have song like structures, even rhythms. Hardly pop-music as such, but these ambient inspired songs could have been picked from a fine selection of Brian Eno albums. Mostly sketchy songs, with processed guitars coming in, moving out, bits of keyboard and heavily processed field recordings. There is, in some of these songs, even room for a drum machine. It all turns into nice moody music. Nothing overtly dark, scary, mysterious, but au contraire, quite pleasant. Not every piece is a winner here, but throughout this was all quite nice to hear. (FdW)
Address: http://www.karlrecords.net

FRANCK VIGROUX - PRISME (CD by D'Autres Cordes)
Quite a busy man, our Franck Vigroux. When not playing his own music, he works on his label D'Autres Cordes and works with visual artists. Here he has the music to one of those, a live audiovisual performance and installation piece by one Fabien Zocco. Vigroux plays his brand of live electronics, mainly from the analogue domain and presents here his by known trade mark electronics. Like with his previous work, 'Entrailles' (a DVD he made with Gregory Robin), his sound is pretty much an one man Pan Sonic like affair. Heavy beats and deep sonic frequencies, those sharp edged tones that cut right between your teeth. Razorsharpe and on top of that those likewise sharp minimal beats that are just so much like Pan Sonic. You could easily mistake this for that but with the current state of Pan Sonic - who knows what they are up to, I guess - Franck Vigroux it is. This is a pretty loud affair, and no doubt deafening in concert, and a sonic overload. I can imagine (more or less) what those visuals are about, so overload is all around. I quite enjoyed this, I must admit, even this sounds awfully close to that other band. For now, I don't mind, but perhaps it would be an idea to bring in something new next time? Or perhaps release another DVD with the complete picture? (FdW)
Address: http://www.dautrescordesrecords.com

FORGOTTEN BIRDS - SAHARA (CD by Karaoke Kalk)
The German Karaoke Kalk label releases pop music, of whatever kind. Now, obviously, I am more a fan of anything coming from their home which is more electronic, but sometimes their way more off the line releases are quite nice. Perhaps because I occasionally get music from Static Caravan, I am no stranger to country folk rock, which is the corner in which we find the music of Forgotten Birds. A duo of Jan Gazarra and Judy Willms, who play guitar, organ, synth and sing, along with guest musicians on drums and bass, when needed. Now, I am supposed, perhaps, to insert some clever words about country folk, but to be honest, I never got beyond The Byrds, hey Forgotten Birds might be their grand children, which I always quite enjoyed, and this ten songs here are simply beautiful pieces of folk music. Strumming those acoustic guitars, fine duo singing, not always in sync, but who cares, and some weirder instrumental parts from moved to the background. This is very, very far away from the world of Vital Weekly, but sometimes provides the most needed antidote to all experimentation. (FdW)
Address: http://www.karaokekalk.de

EITR - TREES HAVE CANCER TOO (LP by Mazagran)
A new release by Portuguese imprint Mazagran, in a very small edition of 150 copies. It has two Pedro's: Pedro Sousa on saxophones and electronics and Pedro Lopes on turntables and electronics. The pieces on this grimly titled record were recorded between 2008 and 2011, in Portugal and Berlin. Improvised music no doubt, but I wouldn't be surprised if there is some careful planning ahead of recording. The music of Eitr is closed off: everything seems to be together, in the same dynamic frame, somewhat below the level of mid-range frequencies. In 'Forth  Twice', the first piece on the b-side they use some Russian instruction record, and a bumping rhythm, whereas the saxophone plays a melancholic tune, and the the whole things gets a surprising musical touch. That is less apparent in the second (and last) piece on this side and the side long piece on the other side. There is an odd sense of acoustic drones on this release, very austere and dark, with the saxophone being with held, with drawn, bathing in this sea of repressed sounds. It never bursts out, this music, it never wails about, but instead has a lot of tension, perhaps due to the fact that much of this hoovers around the edge of feedback, but never bursts out into this. You wait for this enormous blast to happen, but it never comes around to do so. I thought this was a great release. Very intense for the players - probably - and for the listeners - surely for me. Every time I play this I hear something new, which made me think 'oh, no, its much more electro-acoustic than I thought', 'damn, it's much more composed' or 'what a refined way of improvising'. Excellent record all around. (FdW)
Address: http://mazagran.org

HIGH AURA'D/BLOOD BRIGHT STAR (split 7" by Anti-Matter Records)
A beautifully packed 7" here, with two bands/projects, both of which seem new to me. Great printing, colored vinyl, limited edition. On one side we have High Aura'd, which is one John Kolodij, who plays guitars "of all sorts, acoustic, electric, pedal steel" as well as field recordings. His piece works along the lines of 'have guitar, but it's hard to say it is', creating dense layers of overtones with lots of electronics and razor blades as guitar sounds. Music that was once called 'Isolationism'. There is also a bit of wordless vocal in here, making this perhaps also a bit in debt to the world of shoegazing. A beautiful piece, ending on a soft note: the lock groove never stops, but you wish the piece itself was longer.
On the back side we find Blood Bright Star, which is the solo efforts of Reuben Sawyer. His first release is from 2010, which was a CDR. Then he used his own name, but choose Blood Bright Star, after the final piece on that CDR. The piece here is "Golden Blood, Part II"; an extension of "Golden Blood" which appeared on the recent full length "Solar Infinite" which was released earlier this year via Antithetic Records" - so you know. It's a slow piece for drums and guitars, very minimal, but with a fine drive to it. A slowed down krautrock motorik piece, with highly psychedelic guitar being slowly played. A pity this is a 7"! This could have lasted twelve minutes, easily! Excellent, but boohoo, too short. (FdW)
Address: http://www.anti-matterrecords.com/

SURFACE HOAR - SIN-EATER (CDR by Galloping Foxley Recordings)
More music here by Matthew Amundsen, better known as Surface Hoar. For some reason, very unclear to myself, I always think of Surface Hoar as a noise project, and every time I hear music I am sure it isn't (see for earlier reviews for instance Vital Weekly 759 and 593). 'Sin-Eater' is his fourth solo album (besides a bunch of collaborations and compilations) and is "inspired by Vob Corcoran's radio play, 'The Sin Eater', which originally aired on the Suspense program in 1962" and this can be seen as a homage to that as well as time Amundsen spend in the Appalachian foothills. He uses such instruments as air-organ, voices, synthesizer, drum machines, bass, electric guitar, adult toys & video, greetings cards, cicadas, crickets, violin, museum demonstrations, vocoder and other electronics. I would think lots of other electronics. Especially of the kind that samples and holds sounds. The album starts out with a strong piece, 'Smoking Mountains Of Madness', with a brass band being sampled, played along with an out of control drum machine and a harmonium, before effectively moving over to a more abstract field. I am not sure if the element of suspense is something that I thought was easily to be detected here, but perhaps because I think some of it comes across like a cliche. The minor keys in in 'Moonshine Nocturne' for instance, with its animal sounds and air-out-of-a-balloon, or the film conversation snippets in 'Appalachian Snail Trail'. That is not enough to make it suspense like, but throughout these seven pieces are a bit creepy and dark, which is probably fine enough to keep you awake and be careful. Much of this is again sampled and occasionally melodies rise up from the drones of layers of sound. For instance in 'Warm Velvet Mystery', with its jazzy undercurrent; almost a Twin Peaks like song. Its here where the album works best: when there is still a notion, a hint of melody present, somewhere lurking beneath the surface, whereas on top we have all this abstract rumbling of electronics, and whatever they have processed or possessed, for all I know. Nothing really noise based, quite dark (almost in a gothic like manner) and throughout a great album. Excellent and pleasantly scary. (FdW)
Address: http://surfacehoar.bandcamp.com

TAMING POWER - SELECTED WORKS 2001 (CDR by Early Morning Records)
There was a time when Vital Weekly reviewed a lot of vinyl and cassette releases by Taming Power, the musical project of Askild Haugland. That's what I wrote  back in Vital Weekly 711 too, when he released a double LP of his work following an extensive gap before and, as we know now, after that. He never released many CDRs, but he did so in 2001, when he released this CDR which is now re-issued, which was to promote his music to concert organizers, as back then he was interested in playing studio pieces in between bands, rather than having a DJ on. It was intended to have this released on vinyl and maybe some day it will. Apparently I call Haugland a 'liar' as he wrote me 'please DO NOT once again call me a liar', but that seems a bit of a harsh word for me to use. I don't recall exactly but maybe I had some doubts about how he generated some of his drone like pieces. He writes also that the 'music was made entirely and exclusively from tape recorder feedback. Sounds and sequences were generated on a reel-to-reel tape recorder and then edited to a 4 track recorder'. I am not going to argue with that, he's the creator, he's right. I must admit I didn't hear much of his music again, but these ten shortish pieces (lasting thirty minutes) are quite nice works for multiple layers of feedback, creating moody and occasional harsher textures and defies the easy goin' drone music. I like the fact that these are almost pop-like length pieces and each piece is a rounded set of improvisations, disguising themselves as compositions. I am not sure if these should be re-released again on vinyl, but this is perhaps a fine reminder that Taming Power should do some new music. (FdW)
Address: <earlymrecords@yahoo.com>

BROKEN SYNTH/ NEON & THE OTHER NOBLE GASES (split CDR by More Mars)
A split release here between Broken Synths and Neon & The Other Noble Gases, both of which I believe are from Greece, and both of them operate within the realms of techno-inspired music. More straight forward than the IDM reviewed elsewhere, this is, perhaps, as dance music, more my cup of tea. I have never heard of either band and know not much about how they work, despite the words on the cover. This could very well be, in either case, a bunch of analogue sound devices playing these some what lower-fi techno music, but for all I know this might very well be another exercise in Ableton Live programming. There are minor differences between both bands. Broken Synths are a bit more lo-fi, a bit cruder and a bit more minimal - dirty as opposed to clean minimal - than Neon & The Other Noble Gases, who seem a bit more sophisticated, better produced and more heavy on the synths, which appear not to be broken. Tracks alternate, and three of one and then three of the other, which makes this a pretty varied bunch of pieces. At six tracks, thirty three minutes perhaps a bit shortish; I wouldn't have minded five of each and then forty some minutes. Here too I couldn't see people dancing to this, but it's surely nice feet taping stuff. (FdW)
Address: http://www.moremars.org/

KRAMPUSØ (CDR by After Music Recordings)
Probably one of the few releases that is available on both 12" vinyl, CDR and stereo 7.5 IPS reel to reel; the only thing missing is a release on 8-track. Here we have a new trio, of Darren Brown (of Boy Dirt Car fame, and also the proprietor of After Music) with John Sparrow and David Gelting (both of The Danglers). The press release also notes one Zwarte Piet (search for St. Nicolaas on wikipedia if you wish to know more about the history of Zwarte Piet - any body in the Dutch language knows who he is). Three pieces here, total just under twenty minutes, of improvised music for rock band line up, it seems. Drums, guitars, electronics, bass, and no vocals. It's probably not far away from the same sonic world inhabited by Boy Dirt Car, but despite some of the electronic bleeps in the opening piece 'Dimma Himinn', it seems all strangely more acoustic in approach, with a strong emphasis on percussion sounds, in which we consider the piano to be a percussive instrument too. Slow music, but in tempo and in development which is especially noted in the long 'Kuldi Sjor'. Oppressive stuff, transporting the listener on a journey well beyond the horizon, on a vast psychedelic trip into the underworld. The sun sets, the night arrives and the oddly named Krampusø provide the perfect nightmare scenario for that journey. Heavy weight slow rock improvisation. (FdW)
Address: http://aftermusic.bigcartel.com/

BIONULOR - THEATRE MUSIC FOR SKAZANA (CDR by Oniron Label)
BIONULOR - THEATRE MUSIC FOR CORIOLANUS (CDR by Oniron Label)
The musician behind Bionulor is Polish Sebastian Banaszczyk, who is by profession an actor, so perhaps its not strange that one day his work in the theatre meets up with his work in music. Here we have two releases to deal with that. The first is an adaption of 'Coriolanus' by Shakespeare, set to the 'realities of a political and media XXI-century spectacle' and a play by Sylwia Oksiuta about a girl sexually abused by her stepfather. I started with that one. The problem with both of these that there is a component missing, that of the theatrical action itself, so the only thing we have is the music itself. That I think is a downside of such a release, but I'm sure a DVD with Polish theatre play is probably causing a bit of different problems (it's probably never right, isn't it?). Likewise it is not easy to say how and where these musical pieces fit in. Bionulor composes with '100% recycled' sounds, so perhaps a portion, if not all, is sampled from the theatrical action, or perhaps just from whatever existing sources. On the 'Skazana' release we find twenty short pieces, with a total span of thirty-seven minutes and many of these are based on a single sound source being played around in the digital domain, and these variations on a single theme are mixed together within the space of one to two minutes. Even more songs (are they called 'songs' here, perhaps 'bits', 'pieces' is a more appropriate term?) here, twenty-six in total, but then the whole album lasts seventy minutes, so you know some of these pieces are a bit longer. I must say tat these work a bit better as a composition, rather than a set of sounds, simply because they work by themselves better, without being part of something else, to which you have access too. It's all very microsound and reminded me from time to time, certainly n the 'Coriolanus' disc of the older work of Stephan Mathieu. Warm, glitchy music. Especially that second one I quite liked. (FdW)
Address: http://onironlabel.com

STAPLERFAHRER - THE FOUR ELEMENTS (3"CDR by Moving Furniture Records)
For once I am not assuming the role of "independent" reviewer, but here I look at something that is composed according to a visual score I did in 1988. It was a time when these things were hot to do, as we (?) all heard about musique concrete composer, visual scores and such like. So I thought of doing one myself, which would have four different layers of sound, in total spanning seven minutes and thirty seconds, and ask five other people to do an interpretation of this score, along with the one I did myself. It was one of my first experiences in a real, 8-track studio, but that is of course a different story, for another day. For completists: there was another version released, by Spanish Escupemetralla, but much to my surprise this little thing hasn't been forgotten and apparently for years was an inspiration for Staplerfahrer. Quite rightly so he takes the liberty of expanding the seven minutes and thirty seconds into twenty minutes - I mean why not? the score just provides an idea of what it would sound like, and you can ignore the timing - and Staplerfahrer cleverly builds a piece from field recordings - motor sounds, crackling of leaves, the breaking of glass to mark the end of a section, and with his usual brand of near broken electronic instruments, which hiss, tick and buzz away. A great composition I could say, but perhaps better said, is that no matter what the conceptual background of this piece is, this is a great piece, perhaps one of the best I heard from Staplerfahrer so far. It's that good! (FdW)
Address: http://www.movingfurniturerecords.com/

FREDERIC NOGRAY - VACCABONS ET MALFACTOURS (3"CDR by Kaon)
It was quiet for a while with Kaon's ongoing series of 3"CDRs using river sounds recorded by Cedric Peyronnet in 2005 and 2008, but here continues with a twenty minute piece by Frederic Nogray, who is an improviser (having worked with Stephane Rives, see Vital Weekly 802) and a field recording composer - see Vital Weekly 862 for an example of his more quiet work. It seems to me that Nogray doesn't alter the material as such - I might be wrong, I know - but cuts and collates various events on top of each other in order to create a narrative with these sounds. Sudden changes keep the piece alive and one moves easily from one quiet part of the river to a wilder part. Maybe it does electronic coloring of the sounds I was think at the seventeenth minute break, but maybe that's just overload from the original recordings? I am not sure. In terms of say 'field recordings becoming music' I couldn't say this was entirely original, but nevertheless it sounded great. (FdW)
Address: http://www.kaon.org

CHRISTIAN F. SCHILLER & HELMUT SCHÄFER - SCHLAGSCHATTEN (3"CDR by In-Dust)
A slightly confusing release here. The music was recorded by Christian F. Schiller and Helmut Schäfer in November 2003, and now released as part of the tenth birthday of In-dust.org, which is from the same city as where the recording was made, Graz. They were European Capital of Culture back then. In the meantime Schäfer took his own life, in 2007, and now this sixteen minute piece - an excerpt - is released of music they did as part of a shadow project in a steel tower, which could be heard all over the city if I understand the project description well. The music seems to be an improvisation from electronics, loud and soft, contact microphones on steel plates and is sometimes very loud and some very soft, with feedback always lurking around the corner. I am not sure what to make of this. It's all a bit too improvised for me, maybe a bit too noisy as well, but without the noise going anywhere, or staying true noise all the time. It's a bad release but perhaps not really my cup of joe. However: hats for the packaging. A metallic magnetic box. There is quality in the world of CDR packaging. (FdW)
Address: http://in-dust.org

EUGENOISE/THE LAY LLAMAS - TAPE CRASH #6 (cassette by Old Bicycle Records)
SOFT BLACK STAR & ZENO CABAGLIO/MIKE COOPER  - TAPE CRASH #7 (cassette by Old Bicycle Records)
Two split tapes from Italy, all of which have people who seem to be new to me. On the first one we find on side Eugenoise, the musical project of Eugenio - no last names please. The cover lists a whole bunch of sound devices (kalimba, African flute, African banjo, pedals, field recordings of insects and voices. There is I think a recommendation to play this loud, but I am not sure why. I am not very impressed with these attempts at a noiser version of musique concrete, with sounds moving about, apparently with no beginning or end. It all seemed a bit pointless. And I'm a bit surprised by the b-side which seems so much more professional and well thought. This is the project of Nicola Giunta (guitars, bass, percussions, backing vocals, organ, synth, drum machine and sound fx) with help, mainly on vocals, from Guido Broglio and Gioele Valenti. Now here we have something that is probably best described as psychedelic pop music. Sampled together from all of these instruments, with some nice driving rhythm machines, taking cues and clues from ethnic percussion, along with some nice psychedelic singing (reminding me of the local The Use Of Ashes), feedback guitars howling around and at times a bit long with a lack of development but it's wonderfully fine music, a deep breath from the previous side. Great stuff.
On the other split tape we find Soft Black Stars (guitars, farfisa, noise machines) collaborating with Zemp Gabaglio (cello and synthesizers) plus some guests on voices and a (the?) Butar-Butar Gamelan Orchestra. It's not as poppy as the music on the other tape but it shares some of that psychedelic background, but it's all more loosely orchestrated, with more freedom in selecting sounds and have them wonder about. Maybe at times too free, but throughout this was all highly enjoyable. Mike Cooper on the other side plays 'resophonic tri-plate guitar, zoomtrack sampler, kaos pad, boss pitch shifter delay and top gear fuzz box. He has three tracks (and seems to be the only one to have multiple tracks and actually named them). These pieces are played live, in 2010 and captured to mini-disc (what's that again, daddy?) and remixed in 2013. Cooper loops his guitar around and improves on top of that. Nice, but perhaps all a bit simplistic in approach, I thought. Maybe this works better if you see it happening, when the musician is working his way, but cut off from that notion, isolated on a cassette, the magic is perhaps not really there. Then these guitar sounds are looped and layered, but without much soul put into this. (FdW)
Address: http://www.oldbicyclerecords.blogspot.com

PICK UP - DEPARTURE (cassette by Ultramarine Records)
Named for the magnetic devices on a guitar that translate string vibration into actual sound, Pick Up are Frans de Waard (electronics) and Martin Luiten (guitar). They recorded a lot of live sessions in 2008 and 2009, the results of which have been released on two vinyl albums (Loop End and Mouthless) and one mini CDR (From Here To Anywhere). The release of this new cassette, Departure, made me listen to Loop End (the only other Pick Up product I have in my collection) again as the sounds used are from the same 2008-2009 sources. The first thing that comes to mind is how different both albums sound. Loop Ends sounds, with hindsight, somewhat uneven in places, with little room for subtlety. Mixed some five years later, Departure is a different beast. Side one starts with subtle electronics set to e-bow guitar playing, which gets more itchy when the track moves on. In the second part the sound changes and gives way to more abstract synthesizer sounds. Still, the balance between the sounds and the breathing space of the music appears more subtle, making for a relaxed listen. Whereas side one is fine, it is side two that is beautiful. Here the collaboration between De Waard and Luiten gives way to something that really pleases my ears; yes, it's subtle on the verge of non-existent, but slowly but surely the music sucks you into its soul. The second part of the track is filled with ebow sounds. Beautiful, minimal and carefully/lovingly constructed, this track tells the true story, the true potential of Pick Up. The press release states that Departure should be seen as the final physical product of those first Pick Up recordings from 2008-2009. Refreshingly, it also states "Now Pick-up is on hold while trying to think of what would be the next move, as once you investigated a particular method of working, it's time to move on, as both of them feel". This is to be applauded. Maybe Pick Up is no more, but then we'd still have the 90 copies that make up the edition of Departure; in my opinion the best, if you like, testament of their collaboration. Put side two on auto-repeat and play at low volume. (FK)
Address: http://www.ultramarinerecords.com/site/



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