number 931
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week 19
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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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MICHELE BOKANOWSKI - CIRCQUE/ENFANCE (CD by Motus) *
MAKOTO OSHIRO - PHENOMENAL WORLD (2CD by Ftarri) *
JUI SEI & UTAH KAWASAKI - U AS IN UTAH (2CD by Ftarri) *
ALEXANDER TURNQUIST - FLYING FANTASY (CD by Western Vinyl) *
JASON ADASIEWICZ & CHRISTOPH ERB & JASON ROEBKE – YURIA’S DREAM (CD by Veto Records)
BIG BOLD BACK BONE – CLOUD CLUES (CD by Wide Ears)
EMILIA MARTENSSON – ANA (CD by Babel)
AURIS + GINO – RUB (CD by Public Eyesore)
SOFUS FORSBERG - FM VOLTA (LP by Mindwaves Music)
KATSUNORI SAWA - HOLY GROUND (12" by The Weevil Neighbourhood)
DOLLS COME TO LIFE - THE GROUNDSKEEPER'S DAUGHTER (CDR, private) *
CORE SHIFT - THE NEW LAND (CDR, private) *
NUNDATA / TROU (split cassette by Ciel Bleu et Petits Oiseaux Records)
SENMUTH – CHAMBERS (cassette by Ciel Bleu et Petits Oiseaux)
RORO PERROT/RORO HEBERT/RORO BROSSARD - SELF-TITLED (cassette by Ikebukuro Dada and Ciel Bleu et Petits Oiseaux)
IBRAHIM KHIDER - CHASING THE SHADOW OF BRYN JONES (Book by Vinyl On Demand) *



MICHELE BOKANOWSKI - CIRCQUE/ENFANCE (CD by Motus)
As far as I can remember I haven't reviewed many, if any at all, releases by French composer Michele Bokanowski. Perhaps this is due to the fact she didn't release many works on commercial sound carriers. She studied with Pierre Schaeffer in the early 70s and later on with Eliane Radigue. Many of her works are made for the concert space, television and dance. This new release is in fact part a re-issue from a 1995 release by Empreintes Digitales and part is a new work from 2011. I am not sure if I heard 'Cirque' when it was first released. I worked in a record store that carried the label, so I might very well have heard it, but now that I hear it again it doesn't sound any familiar. At the foundation of 'Cirque' we have recordings from the circus - I assume. Not a place that stirs up many happy (childhood-) memories for me, nor any bad ones. I visited the circus some years ago and much to my regret flat, boring house music is part and parcel of the musical entourage now. That's too bad, as I had hoped to catch a few sounds on my recorder (animals, clowns - which I truly hate - and audience responses). Bokanowski succeeded better at this, I must say. Here the galloping of horses, other animals and cheering people are captured (clowns too, I hope) and sampled around and treated electronically. Treated and untreated sounds meet up, bounce and disappear, ending in 'Finale (Parade)' with true finale music, a wild applause and all that. The more recent composition 'Enfance' uses the voice of Bilal and Suleyman Bokanowski, maybe her children or grandchildren, sampled and set into a very sparse setting of piano and synthesizer. It's very much an intimate work, very pastoral sounding with chirping insects (either the real thing, or created with the synthesizer), and those children voices talking and sometimes not much else. Almost like a holiday snapshot and it reminded me of the early works of Dominique Petitgand. This is all very intimate music and one that works wonderfully well. Great disc! (FdW)
Address: http://www.motus.fr

MAKOTO OSHIRO - PHENOMENAL WORLD (2CD by Ftarri)
JUI SEI & UTAH KAWASAKI - U AS IN UTAH (2CD by Ftarri)
On the always-interesting Ftarri label, we find the double disc of Makoto Oshiro of interest, as it seems to be less dealing with the notions of improvised music, as many other releases on this label are, and more as 'sound art'. I don't think I heard of Oshiro before but his interest lies in the 'physical phenomenon and the mechanisms that cause sound to occur […] the sounds included on this CD are made by tools and instruments I created, based on reactions from combinations of objects that I came up with in the course of approaching certain phenomena'. The seven pieces on this disc compile this particular interest. Each of these pieces is lengthy, and explores very minimally sound events. Somewhere between eight and twenty-seven minutes and the cover details every one of these pieces. There is the obvious exploration of feedback, which I think the WRK collective explored better but the other events I quite enjoyed. Partly field recording like, with sound events being taped in an environment, so that the environment becomes part of the whole, such as in 'Resonance Beneath' and 'Cycles', while others seem to capture the internal workings of these instruments. The earlier reference to WRK holds out, even when they were even more conceptual than Oshiro seems to be, but there is also an easy link to the musical world of Alvin Lucier, but unlike WRK or Lucier, it seems to me that the work of Oshiro is a bit more playful, aiming at such a notion that these pieces could also be heard as nice pieces of music. It makes up some excellent music altogether.
The other is a trio of Ju Sei (itself a duo of sei on vocals and Junichiro Tanaka (electric and acoustic guitar, effects pedals, kaossilator and vocals) and Utah Kawasaki who is quite well known as a synthesizer player from the world of improvised music. Together they played two sets of music at Ftarri (studio? space?) on June 15th 2013 and these discs capture all that was recorded that day. It is split into various pieces, but I assume it's all to be seen as an on-going work of improvisation. This is surely one hell of strange music. Although, easily, we can state this is improvised music, it's at the same time possible, I think, to say this has roots in the world of pop or folk music. Sei sings like all Japanese girls seem to sing, but sometimes goes for a wider range. Tanaka's adds sometimes some more regular strumming, there is even a bit of beat here and there, but Utah Kawasaki stays safely on the side of playing his synth in the way he does best: sparse, meaning non existent when necessary and loud when needed. And sometimes it sounds like a difficult piece of improvised music. Very eclectic music, sometimes demanding a lot and sometimes going by real easy. It's certainly one hell of a daring release that might easily upset the improvised music community but that's exactly the reason why I love this. (FdW)
Address: http://www.ftarri.com

ALEXANDER TURNQUIST - FLYING FANTASY (CD by Western Vinyl)
The reviews so far for the work of Alexander Turnquist have been raving: Pitchfork, Uncut, Mojo, Huffington Post, so we are a bit behind since I never heard of Turnquist. He is a guitar player who specializes in playing the 12 stringed variations, acoustic of course, but who also plays a Gaveau grand piano, Hammond B3 organ and bass pan steel drums. There is a bunch of guest players on this record who add vibraphone, marimba, vocals, violin, snare drum and French horn, all lovingly recorded and mixed by Scott Solter. Six pieces, thirty minutes - and that means it's also available on LP. I think that's well enough also. I played this throughout, doubted whether I should play it again straight away and decided not to. I left it for a day or two and then played it again, and liking it again. I must say I quite enjoy what I heard here, but for a limited period of time. Turnquist has a nice orchestral sound in his twelve strings, and with the addition of the other instruments comes up with a sound that the good people of Western Vinyl seem to love so much. A cross road where chamber music, post rock and minimalism meet up. Especially when Turnquist goes into arpeggio mode the references to the classic minimalism posse is not far away. Phasing his melodies and playing the same thing with small variations, this is some very nice minimalist music. A somewhat desolated feel is also to be noted in these pieces, with the mood being minor, but that doesn't affect the dynamics of the record. It's fully orchestrated, even if the guitar seems to be out there in solo mode. It's a beautiful record, but once I was done with it, I was not in the mood to play it again straight away, but the next day I found myself thinking it is a great record. That is an odd thing, and I have no idea why that is. Maybe too moody, too introspective at times? So, yeah, the verdict is: great record! (FdW)
Address: http://westernvinyl.com/

JASON ADASIEWICZ & CHRISTOPH ERB & JASON ROEBKE – YURIA’S DREAM (CD by Veto Records)
Another episode in the Luzern-Chicago exchange. This time a trio performance by Adasiewicz (vibraphone), Roebke (bass) and Erb (reeds), recorded on November 10th, 2013 in Chicago. Both Roebke and Adasiewicz are known Chicago-based musicians.  Adasiewicz is a member of more than 20 working bands,like Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra. Roebke is also involved in numerous projects as a sought after bassist. He composes for two ensembles, the Jason Roebke Combination and the Jason Roebke Octet.  Erb is from Lucern, where he runs his Veto-label. From what I know of his output I have the idea he plays more regularly with American improvisers then with European fellow musicians. He has however also a Swiss unit, called Lila Lila with Flo Stoffner, Hans-Peter Pfammatter and Julian  Sartorius.  But back to “Yuria’s Dream”.  A dream in one take and it's lasting about 43 minutes. This is a very satisfying musical conversation, full of beautiful details.  Group improvisation pur sang. They treat each other with respect and allow each other to make their contribution. Resulting in an improvisation of a reflective nature. Sometimes they gradually built on a specific musical pattern, that is changed for another one after a while. All in a coherent way, making this dream one continuous flow. (DM)
Address: http://www.veto-records.ch

BIG BOLD BACK BONE – CLOUD CLUES (CD by Wide Ears)
Wide Ear Records is a new Swiss label for contemporary music in all its possible crossovers. Swiss-Portuguese collaboration Big Bold Back Bone is a first example of this. A quartet made up of Marco von Orelli (trumpet, piccolo trumpet), Louis Lopes (electric guitar), Travassos (analogue electronics) and Sheldon Suter (drums).  A first one off meeting in 2008 turned out to be the starting point for further collaboration. After a short tour through Portugal they decided to make some recordings in a Lisbon studio in December 2010. It are these recordings we find on this release. Some background. Von Orelli and Suter are both member of Musique Brute, a Swiss improv combo who released an album (‘Poste Restante’) on Unit Records in 2012. Travassos is educated in the field of design,  setting his first steps as a musician here. Lopes is often met in the company of musicians like Sei Miguel, Stefan Gonzalez, a.o, and leads his own project Humanization Quartet. As the recordings for ‘Cloud Clues’ date from several years ago, I hope the four are still in business as Big Bold Back Bone. Their – often - noisy sound improvisations sound very together and focused, playing with lots of ideas. Lively and really exciting improvisations it are, not in the least by the subtle electronics of Travassos. Very worthwhile. (DM)
Address: http://www.wideearrecords.com

EMILIA MARTENSSON – ANA (CD by Babel)
Martensson is a London-based jazz singer of Swedish origin. She moved to London in 2000 to study at the Trinity College of Music. After completing studies in 2007 she succeeded in making rapidly a name for herself in the London jazz scene. In 2012 she was ready for her first album, titled “And so it goes” (Babel) in collaboration with pianist Barry Green. The album offered a tasteful combination of jazz, pop and Swedish folksongs. This is again the case on her new album ‘Ana’, again on Babel Records and dedicated to her grandparents. Jazz, pop and folk are again combined by songs of her own hand, plus interpretations of songs by Paul Simon and Joe Henderson. She has a delicate voice on the one hand, but at the same time intensity and substance. The musicians, especially the pianist, create lyrical ambiances for her performance. All in the tradition of easy listening, dreamy jazz. If that is what you are looking for, this might be your thing. (DM)
Address: http://www.babellabel.co.uk

AURIS + GINO – RUB (CD by Public Eyesore)
Auris is a trio of Eric Leonardson (springboard, electronics), Julia Miller (guitar, electronics) and Christopher Preissing (flute, electronics), guested by Gino Robair (percussion, electronics). This trio is into organic electro-acoustic music. ‘Rub’ is their first release and resulted from a session at the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago in 2010. Robair may be the most familiar one of these musicians: founder of the Splatter Trio and owner of Rastacan Records, with an endless list of recordings with improvisers from all over the planet. Eric Leonardson is a composer, radio artist, sound designer, instrument inventor, improvisor, visual artist, etc from Chicago. He has a special interest for unorthodox approaches to sound and its instrumentation with a broad understanding of texture, atmosphere and microtones. Preissing is a composer and improviser from Chicago. Julia Miller works as an electronic musician on the one hand, and as a guitarist on the other. Like here with Auris. An interesting player. On ‘Rub’ the four engage in some very sensitive, but rough improvisations. Don’t let their freaky improvisations mislead you. These musicians know where they are up to. Their vivid abstract sound improvisations really touch upon things. They built dramatic textures, be it very loud or very quiet. A relevant and beautiful work. (DM)
Address: http://www.publiceyesore.com

SOFUS FORSBERG - FM VOLTA (LP by Mindwaves Music)
KATSUNORI SAWA - HOLY GROUND (12" by The Weevil Neighbourhood)
From Denmark, but based in Berlin, is one Sofus Forsberg and 'FM Volta' might be his second release and it's has been some time in the making. In 2005 he produced his first album, 'Udefra', so what he has been up to in the years in between I don't know. We have six pieces here, three per side and it's all about the band members: the modular synthesizer, drum/FX machines and mixer. I must admit I don't know much about techno(-related) music. It's one of those ‘markets’, which are always very specific when it comes to using terms, something I find difficult as well as amusing. So in which specific sub-genre Sofus Forsberg falls I don't know. It seems to me - again, what do I know - that this is not always really dance floor material; I couldn't see a crowd of people bouncing around. It's occasionally a bit too chaotic in terms of synth use or odd time signatures in the sequenced beats. 'Dear Noft' is more driving forward, whereas opener 'Take Fibrillo' is slightly more chaotic. These are the parameters in between which this album moves. Straight forward bouncing pieces and these more chaotic chunks of rhythm and synth. I actually enjoyed this variation. This is not a piece of 12" waiting to be mixed together with other pieces of 12", but an independent album of six pieces of music which one should treat as such. Perhaps indeed also in that respect not something that would cater for DJ needs. I quite enjoyed this record for what it is, but also I wondered what exactly its audience would be.
Like I said, out of touch, I would call myself on the whole notion of dance music. I couldn't separate dubstep from drum & bass or deephouse from tech house. Partly a private dis-interest, I guess, and partly since not a lot of labels send their dance records here. One that does is The Weevil Neighbourhood, from Berlin, and I like their releases for a couple of reasons. One is, obviously, the music, but also their presentation, being all raw and underground, is something I like. No bullshit, nothing glossy. I reviewed a record by Kyoto's Katsunori Sawa on the same label before (see Vital Weekly 877), which I quite liked, and, had I been a DJ of some kind, I would play 'dance' music like this. These four new pieces continue to explore the style he set himself on, say roughly less danceable Porter Ricks versus a more danceable Goem and Pan Sonic are never far away, as well as being influenced by some of the more abstract dub producers. A great record I think. Just like Sofus Forsberg's I somehow don't see this being played to a sweaty dancing crowd of people but Sawa has a bit more minimalism to offer, so it's perhaps easier to splcie together into a more adventurous DJ set. Can't wait for a CD to compile all of these 12" releases. (FdW)
Address: http://mindwaves-music.bandcamp.com
Address: http://www.weevilneighbourhood.com

DOLLS COME TO LIFE - THE GROUNDSKEEPER'S DAUGHTER (CDR, private)
This is the second release by Joe Frawley and Michelle Cross. Back in Vital Weekly 870 I thought they worked under their own names and that 'Dolls Come To Life' was the title, but in fact it's also the name of their working relationship. Frawley we now know for quite some time as a fine craftsman for radio-play like pieces of music, sound and voice heavy, and perhaps less musical pieces as such. He brings his skills to the table here but in a more song oriented surrounding. Michelle Cross plays piano and sings. Before I made the connection to Kate Bush and I can do it again here. Her voice is not unlike Bush' and the music perhaps ditto. Singing, piano and effective, sparse electronics, some field recordings, it's everything that Kate Bush does, especially in her more recent work, and Dolls Come To Life are perhaps copyists, but who cares? For every Coldplay there's 100 other bands alike that - more old music for young people I call it - so the sparse occasions that someone picks out Kate Bush as an influence: who cares? And with the output of Ms Bush being next to nothing, this is perhaps a clever move. Soundtrack-like music to something fantasy-like, maybe something Wes Anderson would like (or maybe Game Of Thrones could do with a new tune), or anyone who wants to depict Alice again down the rabbit-hole. This is the sort of dreamy pop based music that would fit well in such as movie. At times, such as in 'The Sundial' Dolls Come To Life approach with rapid speed the outskirts of a pop song and wander off into something way more abstract than what we know otherwise from them, but that makes this album all the more intriguing. Spacious head trip music. Excellent release. (FdW)
Address: http://wwww.dollscometolife.com

CORE SHIFT - THE NEW LAND (CDR, private)
Last week I was playing an old, mid 90s release by Vidna Obmana, recycling the work of Asmus Tietchens. It was a little time machine, transporting me so many years back when ambient music seemed to making it 'big', but which turned out was another passing of trends that just didn't make it big. The recent (?) interest in cosmic music seems to be not much else, but, and maybe I sound a sceptical, that's the whole music industry for you: for for the next big thing, or waiting for the next big thing to return. Ambient house, ambient techno and such haven't returned (yet?), but Core Shift is proudly trying an attempt at such. Core Shift is Mike Kramer, whom we know for his earlier work under his own name and way before that The Evolution Garden and perhaps Core Shift re-connects that to his first musical outing. But whereas The Evolution Garden was perhaps more improvised, using guitars, synthesizers and electronics to create an ambient sound, as Core Shift he works with laptop - pictures of him playing concerts tell me so. Maybe that is a bit out-dated by now - playing concerts solely using a laptop - but what do we care? There is a faint beat below the surface in some of these pieces, such as 'The Return to Pangaea', but it's never anywhere close to the world of 'dance' or 'techno'. In stead Core Shift plays long and deep sustaining washes of synthesizer sounds, all from the world of zeroes and ones, digitally generated synthesizers. I might be wrong, but it seems to me Kramer doesn't use any other sounds, such as field recordings and it all remains electronic. Very much along the lines of the aforementioned Vidna Obmana, but also Robert Rich or Steve Roach, all from the same glorious days of ambient. Core Shift plays four great pieces, very mellow ambient, a bit of rhythm and stretches out more glacial shifts than one would expect from global warming. Pretty dark music, but it's also a brave attempt to a revival of music I really liked back then. So, please carry on! (FdW)
Address: http://coreshift.bandcamp.com
 
NUNDATA / TROU (split cassette by Ciel Bleu et Petits Oiseaux Records)
Here we bring together two loud dudes for a split on the relatively young Ciel Bleu et Petits Oiseaux label, whose tongue-in-cheek name (“blue sky and small birds”) typifies the scrappy 'shit noise' ethic its artists revel in. This tape's cover features an old-timey illustration of a bare-chested man impaled on a spike. This should help prepare the listener for the tape's wholesome innards. Nundata, the seething project of mouthful Srdjan Eftimovski, started his exploits in shit noise on the shit-noisiest label around, Smell the Stench. Since a quad-pack of releases on the label in 2009, he's graced several contemporary noise hangouts (the mega-prolific Rainbow Bridge imprint, Dental Work's wacky Placenta Recordings, and the reliable Ikebukuro Dada label, among others) including a few tape-dubbers I'd never heard of (Zamzam Records, Rohs Prod., Kabrakarakadabra Records... how am I so out of touch??). Here Eftimovski brings us two meaty, pulverizing bricks of harsh noise with his two-part “Take a Shit” movement. Part two offers more in the way of variegation, transitioning from grinding timbre to equally grinding timbre with the subtlety of a drunk-driving Mack truck. But it's the full-bodied assault of “Take a Shit 1,” with its periods of gratifying bass rumble, that steals the show. Through its soul-devouring duration, it gets the gratifying punch-in-the-face feeling down pat. On the other side we get Trou, the label owner's own project. There isn't too much information floating around about Trou, except for an extensive string of ultra-limited self-releases, tapes out on Ikebukuro Dada and Depressive Illusions, and an illustrious 'Recycled Music' edition on RRRecords. In contrast to Nundata's tempest of a side, this one brings malnourished, skeletal noise to the table: thin filaments of harsh noise rumble nervously work the stage, imbuing the listener with a distinct nervous energy. The last of the three tracks reduces it all to a quivering shell of bass, sounding something like a tachycardic heartbeat reverberating through the sub-sub-sub-basement of a defunct warehouse. The take-home on the tape as a whole: It's a solid noise split made interesting by the juxtaposition between Nundata's maudlin pound and Trou's antsy totter. (MT)
Address: http://cielbleuetpetitsoiseaux.blogspot.fr

SENMUTH – CHAMBERS (cassette by Ciel Bleu et Petits Oiseaux)
A limited-to-twenty cassette reissue of a 2010 self-released CDR? It's as though this were the punch line to a joke at the expense experimental tape scene. But who am I kidding – I live for this stuff. While Ciel Bleu et Petits Oiseaux tends to mine the harsh noise underground, here we get something distinct. Senmuth, a Russian cult musician whose expansive, Egypt-themed epics feature pillars of tribal rhythm and 'Gladiator'-calibre synth-strings. The dystopic chord progressions are equal parts EBM and :zoviet*France:, with a distinct eighties cadence. I'd toss in descriptors like industrial-ambient, aggro-dance, blockbuster film score, and even metal to give a sense of what this dude is edging at. The production is crisp, but there is a distinct camp factor to the album that I suspect is not entirely intentional. The tape is all assertive bravado: in-yo-face, epic, epochal. When you combine it with the album's conceptual angle – that each track represents a different chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza, it can be a challenge to tough out the cheese factor in order to accept the grandiose innards. I wonder if Senmuth's myriad other releases – of which over 150 have been self-issued on CDR and, lately, mp3 – all retain this condensed, stern-faced maximalism. And I wonder what it would be like to meet the handful of dedicated connoisseurs who collect and document his sinuous exploits. Music is weird, man. (MT)
Address: http://cielbleuetpetitsoiseaux.blogspot.fr

RORO PERROT/RORO HEBERT/RORO BROSSARD - SELF-TITLED (cassette by Ikebukuro Dada and Ciel Bleu et Petits Oiseaux)
It was time I got a whiff of the aromatic 'shit-folk' that's been trickling into the noise scene of late, as pioneered by HNW wizard Roro Perrot (a.k.a Romain Perrot, Vomir). And I got more than a whiff with the arrival of this lengthy three-man collaboration, featuring Perrot along with Roro Hebert (who performs as Rotkappchen and runs the Ikebukuro Dada label) and newbie Roro Brossard. I was expecting spastic acoustic guitar strumming with the occasional vocal babble tossed in, and I more or less got what I had envisaged. But, as opposed to describing the innards of two extensive sides, I'd rather attempt to contextualize this phenomenon. Noise is a specific deconstruction of rock taken to its absolute extreme – guitars reduced to feedback, and all melody and rhythm obliterated under the hailstorm. Shit-folk takes a different idiom ('folk,' as reduced to a minimalist acoustic guitar form) and processes it similarly. It isn't possible to reduce an acoustic guitar to feedback (though I suppose you could just rub sandpaper along the strings), so instead we get fragmented, atonal strumming and sporadic, tone-deaf vocals. Remarkably, the sound is often more piercing than your average noise wall... while a block of feedback can easily be assimilated into the background, this is a ragged affair that jumps and bobs. To that end, Side B is less confrontational than the flipside (which is devoted to Brossard's strum-rabble). Roro Hebert's track is a sparse bit of ratter-tatter that's closer to the free-impov end of matters, not limited to guitar twang but also a lot of percussive/textural fodder achieved by tapping on nearby household objects. Perrot himself finishes the tape off, and though his guitar is amplified the effect is similar – though more digestible, simply because there are fewer sharp edges to prickle up against. (MT)
Address: http://cielbleuetpetitsoiseaux.blogspot.fr

IBRAHIM KHIDER - CHASING THE SHADOW OF BRYN JONES (Book by Vinyl On Demand)
As off writing this, I am still working on a book about my time I was working for a record company called Staalplaat. Somewhere in that book I write about what the book it not will contain: "as you want a great story, about sex, drugs, deprivation, but all of that is hard to find with many of the Staalplaat artists". My favourite book about musicians is 'The Dirt', which is all about big-hair rockers Motley Crue. I downloaded one record which people considered their best - was it 'Dr. Feelgood'? - but I didn't get it at all. The book, all about sex, drugs, deprivation, however is a great read. I am still waiting for the movie. I also write in my book on Staalplaat: "As I’m writing this, the long promised book on Muslimgauze is yet to appear. I never know why anybody would want to write a book on Bryn Jones, as whatever can be in it, it would not extend a few pages. I’ll proof that." I won't re-write those lines, but add a note and this review as an appendix. Obviously I exaggerate when I say you couldn't possibly write a book on Muslimgauze, Ibrahim Khider proofs you can. I can't say I was anticipating any book more than this one in the last few years. Partly because I was interviewed for it, partly because of my work at Staalplaat that is also part of the life of Muslimgauze and partly because I like to read books on music. Muslimgauze was the brainchild of Bryn Jones, who started in the early 80s as E.G. Oblique Graph (a nod, we learn to E.G. Records - a.o. King Crimson's label - and Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies and Oblique Records), an experimental outfit for electronics and tapes. Not very long lived, as Jones changed to Muslimgauze moniker a little later on when he found a political banner for it. He started to support the freedom struggle of Palestinians against occupation by the Israeli’s. Over the years he switched his support from PLO to Hamas, but he never visited the region and got his knowledge from going to the library and reading books on the subject. Meanwhile he produced a vast amount of music. First released by himself, then Recloose, Bourbonese Qualk's label, then Extreme in Australia, ultimately leading to Soleilmoon and Staalplaat, who could cater his need for an endless stream of releases, rather than Extreme's more guided policy of a few releases every now and then. For someone who lived at home with his (smoking) parents, retreated upstairs to do his music, only to come down to eat and watch football (we are talking about a UK musician, so football is part and parcel of his life) and then continue to do music. Sometimes he would go to a studio and work with an engineer. Following one failed gig in 1986, in The Netherlands (and one I attended actually), he picked up gigging again in the second half of the 90s, playing hand drums on stage with a backing disc. Mainly in the UK, but also for Dutch radio, Berlin, France, Sweden, Spain and two concerts in Japan. Late 1998 he got ill and died on January 14th 1999 of a rare blood disease. That, in a nutshell/encyclopaedia style would be the history of Muslimgauze, but there is more to tell. Khider has three parts in his book. The main part is the life story of Bryn Jones, followed by a chapter where he travels to people who knew him, and a small guide in which he discusses various recordings, and groups them together. That last guide is of particular interest, I'd say, for those who find this book tempting to find out more about the historical releases, and perhaps the true fans find this bit superfluous and/or disagree with it. The story in which Khider tells us about his travel to the UK, Vienna and Egypt to meet some people who he interviews, and paints some of the colour locale is for me the least bit, as it seems to repeat some that we also read about in the long, and most important part of the book. In a rather dry, reporting style, Khider tells us the story of the life of Bryn Jones and sometimes also about what happens in the Middle-East, events that inspired Jones, such as 'Hebron Massacre' or PLO singing a peace treaty with Israel, prompting 'Betrayal' as a response (and withdrawal of 'Shekel Of Israeli Occupation', as that was dedicated to the PLO). We learn to know Jones as a socially not very fit person, almost an autistic, who always talked about 'we' when he was referring to the solo effort that Muslimgauze was.  Maybe that was a defense line? I am not a psychologist at all, but it seems so. In Jones' life there was only once constant factor: his own music. He never talked about something else, and didn't seem to like any other music. When he got a release from a musician who admired his work, he would quickly remix it and send back the 'improved' version - his own words. People he met on his excursions, who actually met him eye to eye, aren't always very positive about him (Simon Crab of Bourbonese Qualk, Andrew Hulme of O Yuki Conjugate) or find him very closed, not prepared to discuss his political views, or sometimes choose to ignore those discussions. Which always brings up the issue: to what extend did he mean what he preached? Was it genuine or was it all a clever wind-up? Me personally am more inclined to believe the latter, even when I can't substantiate it - save perhaps for a radio interview he did for Dutch national radio, where, when questioned, he said, he 'picked' the Middle East, but it could have been South Africa, ETA or IRA also. But that interview was quite awkward on all involved. The interviewer felt Jones was arrogant, and didn't see the socially insecure person on the other end of the microphone. It seems as if Jones was always complaining about the fact that 'nobody ever bought a release from him' and that the interest in diminishing (same radio interview, but something he repeats to other's too), but here too I couldn't say if he seriously meant that or if it was another wind-up. Of course Jones had some great admirers, such as Geert-Jan Hobijn from Staalplaat, who calls himself a friend, prepared to tell the truth to Jones when need be, and Charles Powne from Soleilmoon. One of the most interesting bits in the book was when John Delf tells us about how Jones worked in the studio when he was his engineer, because it sheds light on how Jones worked. The book doesn't solve the mystery that Bryn Jones was, the steady stream of releases, the politics, the person, but it's good read anyway and it reveals a few minor, yet interesting details. There is a hint of a childhood disease, which may cause his life to be short, but Khider claims not to know the details as the surviving relatives don't speak out - the same relatives who also had not much idea what Jones was up to in his bedroom. I don't think I would change anything about what I already thought of Jones personally or his music (of which I currently hardly own anything: 'Azazzin', 'Port Said' and 'Emak Bakia' - oddly enough; read the book), but when I played this compilation I must say a certain sense of nostalgia came over me. I would probably listen to some more soon. I found dealing with Bryn Jones difficult, I didn't quite understand what his rationale was towards having so many releases and many of those releases were not well-spend on me. I heard them all, mind you. But whenever I hear it these days - this compilation for instance, or any of his music on an old compilation, I quite enjoy it. Not enough to go back and re-listen to all of it, but it's indeed a form of nostalgia for me.
This oversized book (nicely designed by Erik Kessel and Simon Crab) comes with a compilation CD with a good introduction from the releases he did on Soleilmoon, and no other label is present here, without any unreleased track, and part of this edition (500 copies) comes with ten LPs of music covering the period from 1983 to 1988 - say roughly the period when Jones released much of the music as Muslimgauze on his own imprint, plus lots of pieces released on compilations from that period. This is indeed the most definite word on the mystery of Muslimgauze. (FdW)
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