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AKIO SUZUKI & AKI ONDA - MA TA TA BI (CD by Oral) *
ASOLAAR - INTERCEPTOR (CD by Kvitnu) *
DEREK PIOTR - TEMPATEMPAT (CD by Monotype Records) *
1724 – ESCAPED FRAGMENTS (CD by Klopotec)
1982 – A/B (CD by Hubro)
[KAISER(SCHNITT)AMBOSS/LASZLO]- 5x5th season (CD by Kaiserküss/Poppypod)
ORIGAMI GALAKTIKA - ONE (CD by Monochrome Vision) *
JAKE BELL - AWAKE IN MY FLYING DREAMS (CD, private) *
STEIN URHEIM – SAME (CD by Hubro)
BLY DE BLYANT – HINDSIGHT BIAS (CD by Hubro)
OTOMO YOSHIHIDE & PAAL NILSSEN-LOVE (CD by Jvtlandt) *
ZAMILSKA - UNTUNE (CD by Mik Musik) *
OLAN MILL & KEUNG MANDELBROT - SEISMOLOGY (CD by Hibernate Recordings) *
ISNAJ DUI - EUPLEXIA (CDR by Rural Colours) *
JAKE MEGINSKY - L'APPEL DU VIDE (LP by Open Mouth) *
ILLUSION OF SAFETY - SURRENDER (CDR by No Part Of It) *
WILT - NOCTURNAL REQUIEM (CDR by No Part Of It) *
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - BODY REJECTS FACE (CDR by Hand-Made) *
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - CLOUDS (CDR by Hand-Made) *
STUART CHALMERS - IMAGINARY MUSICKS VOL. 1 (CDR by Beartown) *
EARZUMBA - ENGLILLANO (CDR, private) *
SIGTRYGGUR BERG SIGMARSSON - IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE LET ME ASK (cassette by Some) *
FEAR DROP 17 (magazine plus CD by Fear Drop)
AKIO SUZUKI & AKI ONDA - MA TA TA BI (CD by Oral)
Music by Akio Suzuki has not been reviewed a lot in Vital Weekly, despite the fact that his first performance was in 1963, when he threw a bucket full of junk down a staircase. He has built his own instruments and sometimes plays 'Conceptual Soundworks', in which he applies a number of simple rules onto himself. His work is, to cut a long biography short, part fluxus and part improvisation. Here he plays with Aki Onda, the (also) Japanese master of found sound stored on cassettes. On June 30 2013 they played a concert at Black Buddah, as part of a festival Tuned City in Brussels. Suzuki plays Analapos, De Koolmees (which is actually the name of a bird in Dutch), stones, wood pieces, nails, hammer, room echo, bottles etc. and Onda radios, walkmans, amps, tape echo, cymbals, bottles etc. Along with the CD comes a booklet (fanzine sized) of pictures, drawings and text. We see both musicians working and playing in what seems to be an abandoned factory space, which may account for the fact there is some natural reverb; sometimes they play outdoors. They move around the space with hand-held speakers and the sound move around a solid microphone position. All of this makes an interesting display of improvised sounds. Many rhythms from the objects Suzuki uses and more drone like from Onda. They apparently played for three hours and this was reduced to seventy-one minutes on this CD. Not really organised per se, but more like a stream of sound, like an unconsciousness flow of information. Ambient as in 'recorded with/in a space' rather than something that could fill your space. Although, separated from the actual concert, and isolated on a CD release it actually makes quite a bit of sense. It's electronic, it's acoustic, it's improvised and essentially almost like a zen-experience, but without getting tacky or new agey. The booklet may look a bit cheap, but it's otherwise a great project. (FdW)
ASOLAAR - INTERCEPTOR (CD by Kvitnu)
If we look at Kvitnu's releases by Sturqen (Vital Weekly 806), Matter, Kotra and Pan Sonic (Vital Weekly 922) then we can see a certain label policy that goes towards rhythm and noise, in that order. Raw, loud, with Pan Sonic acting as role models. Their hard stomping sound, mixing techno based rhythms with sine wave like drones and electronics is still an inspiration to some. Asolaar is from Argentina and he (she?) has ten pieces, which last only twenty-five minutes. Four them are around one minute. That's a bit odd, though no doubt planned to be, but why not make it all a big longer, and work some of these shorter pieces into something longer? That was one thing I thought, while the other was that Asolaar takes the Pan Sonic idiom rather literally. You could easily mistake these ten pieces for ideas that Pan Sonic didn't choose to work out. Asolaar is a fine copycat however. He does what he does and does that rather well. Minimalist beats, feeding into a synth and effects to maximum distortion effect. What can I say? It's neat, it's nice, it's not original, it's Pan Sonic and with them either in limbo or entirely gone, you could easily want more. Asolaar gives you more. (FdW)
DEREK PIOTR - TEMPATEMPAT (CD by Monotype Records)
Hot on the heels of the release of 'Weather Patterns' - see Vital Weekly 930 - there is now the fourth solo record by Derek Piotr (see also Vital Weekly 828, 799 and 871). His interest lies in working with voice, computer manipulating thereof, and maybe some extra sounds and rhythms. On his new work he focusses his attention towards Indonesia. The title can be translated as “forging place” (tempa tempat) and “fourth place” (tempat empat). His pieces now become songs, due to the fact that he singing them more. Mostly sung in English and some in Indonesian. Various musicians provide samples of instruments such as gamelan samples provided by Elisa Hough. I think Piotr delivers he his most 'pop' like record. He sings, his beats are well… beats, and to this he adds his own colouring of extra sounds and samples. There is an ethnic atmosphere part of this record, through field recordings, through instruments used and in the general atmosphere of the songs. I quite enjoy all of this. Piotr moves away from his AGF inspired earliest works, which didn't always blow me away, but it also moves away from his latest work, which I really enjoyed. That one was more ambient than this release, but both that one and this new one explores the same areas in a different way. Here the 'poppy' variation is explored and that he does pretty well. Maybe I would have opted for a little less pieces than the fourteen it has now (total length sixty-one minutes) and make it all more pop length. Some of the pieces are just a bit too long I think and it would have made the album even stronger when it was a more concise. (FdW)
1724 – ESCAPED FRAGMENTS (CD by Klopotec)
1724 is a trio of Luca Kezdy (violine, electronics), Tomek Les (guitar, electronics) and Emil Gross (drums, percussions, electronics). The three first met in a musical project (2012) they all were involved in. They decided to continue as a trio, and after listening to this cd you will understand why. Tomek Lek operates mainly as a member of the Polish band 100nka, who have an album out with American trumpet player Herb Robertson (´Superdesert´, 2009). Luca Kezdy is member of Santa Diver, while Emil Gross plays his drums of a diversity of bands whether rock, funk, drum&bass, jazz, avant garde or blues. All of them are capable players. I especially liked the violin of Hungarian Luca Kezdy. In 17 pieces (almost 80 minutes) they exercise their way through free rock improvisations. A fine variety is the result. One feels how they are searching their way out. At times this results in pieces with a solid inner logic. Other pieces remain just exercises and miss a clear focus. The music is very open. This is a positive point as well as a weak spot. I don’t feel the necessity why things sound as they sound. But let me be clear, there is a lot to be enjoyed here. They take approaches from very different angles, using extended techniques and electronics. A very multi-coloured and multidimensional work. It was one of those records that need several turns before you have any grip on the total. From atmospheric soundscaping pieces like ´Dignified in Zabok´ to Frith-inspired free rock in the opening piece ´Trimmings´. They create many different textures. Spaced out rides like part two of ´Stone Deaf Pilots´, the fantastic jazzy solo by Luca in ´Changing Patterns´, up-tempo duelling in ´Common Sense´. As I write this, I realize this is nothing more than an impressive statement of adventurous musicians from the heart of Europe. (DM)
1982 – A/B (CD by Hubro)
This is the fourth album by the Norwegian trio 1982 of Nils Økland (hardanger fiddles, violin, voice), Sibjørn Apeland (harmonium, piano) and Øyvind Skarbø (drums, percussion). Økland has his roots in the e world of folk music and has albums out on ECM and Rune Grammofon. Apeland started playing church organ and crosses borders between folk, church music and improvisation. Skarbø found inspiration in Nigeria and Cuba in his development as a drummer. He is also playing with Bly de Blyant, a.o. With their unusual instrumentation they make full use of the colours and timbres of these instruments, more than in investing in composition and structure. There is not that much going on in that sense. They paint tasty soundscapes, but that’s about it. However they show two different faces on this album. What I said so far counts for the five short pieces of the album. It opens however with a work that takes more than 18 minutes and has the involvement of five other musicians (clarinet, flute, bassoon, trombone, tenor horn) and a conductor. Call it chamber music if you want. This piece originated from a improvisation by the trio that has been reworked and recomposed for a larger line up. Friendly meandering music that I found very charming but not convincing. (DM)
[KAISER(SCHNITT)AMBOSS/LASZLO]- 5x5th season (CD by Kaiserküss/Poppypod)
Not sure who are hiding behind this obscure name. A female singer is prominent, so maybe it is a solo project. Anyway, in 2011 she released ‘Viva Terror’. This album featured the track ‘5th Season’ that is point of departure for this cd. Artists were invited to rework this piece. Also she added a new interpretation of the piece herself. Results are produced by Colonel XS. The invited artists are Gianluca Becuzzi, Massimo Olla (Noisedelik ), Leon Dalton and Colonel XS with Dana Young doing guests vocals. Can’t tell you much of these artists. Becuzzi is a composer of electronic and electro acoustic composer, operating under the name of Limbo. Olla is a producer from Cagliari, Italy. From what I understand the vocal track of these artists use the original piece. This is the only aspect that constitutes any similarity between the pieces. Becuzzi creates a dark and spooky sound texture from environmental sounds only. We hear water, ships, breath, etc. Leon Dalton inserts a complete band behind the vocals playing a catchy avant rock like kind of piece. Noisedelik chooses for thick-layered noisy drones to accompany the vocals. Also in the hands of Colonel X the vocals are connected to noisy looped sounds. The new version by [kaiser(schnitt)amboss/Laszlo] is the most ordinary one, most close to the song format, with the singer putting more drama in her performance. Nice work. (DM)
ORIGAMI GALAKTIKA - ONE (CD by Monochrome Vision)
JAKE BELL - AWAKE IN MY FLYING DREAMS (CD, private)
Behind Origami Galaktika we find Norway's Benny Braaten, who has been doing music for a great many years. He toured with Nocturnal Emissions and The Legendary Pink Dots and releases his records around the world, albeit quite sparsely. I must admit I am never sure how this whole Origami business works, but it's a larger group of people working together, although it seems that Origami Galaktika's Braaten is mostly working solo. I saw him a couple of times and his music is highly atmospheric and generated on relatively lo-fi equipment: electronics, field recordings and four track cassette tapes. Atmospheric and drone like is what he offers us. There was a time when we called this ambient industrial music, when we played the cello bow on the guitar and added lots of reverb here and there. That is, essentially, what Origami Galaktika still does. On this grey, rainy day this is probably the perfect soundtrack for the mood one can find oneself in. A usual piece by Origami Galaktika starts with a drone and on its way gathers more drones in small variations and a box tricks is opened and small variations on a theme appear. I was thinking about the fact that it sounds like something I heard a lot, even when perhaps not very recently; if that the lack of innovation is a real 'problem' (to whom, I wonder). True, Origami Galaktika doesn't necessarily change tactics, but he does a great job in what he does. If you like say Troum or Maeror Tri, and you like your sub consciousness tickled than Origami Galaktika is surely something you must hear, if you don't know them already. 'One' is one great CD.
Not released but distributed by Monochrome Vision is an album by Jake Bell, who played with Simeon (of Silver Apples fame) in a band called The Random Concept, who, like the Silver Apples, incorporated electronic in rock music. That was from 1966 to 1972 and then Bell played with Wooden Wheel, a psyfolk band and then disappeared for twenty-five years and released a solo album in 1998, after re-connecting with Simeon in 1997. By then electronics were all around and Bell's music since then fits the world of ambient electronics perfectly. This new album is another trip to the heaven's, with long spacious synth pieces (one time thirty minutes and four around twelve minutes) of endlessly sustaining washes of synthesizer sounds in the opening thirty minutes of '80 Apache'. 'Broken Arrow' opens with the sounds of drums via a drum machine, but keeps up the cosmic spirit and rhythm machine make a return in 'Space Birds' but throughout the one thing that counts is the big spacious atmospherics in these pieces. Unlike some of the things we review as ambient and drone music in these pieces, this is all rather smooth, not unlike the things we review from Spotted Pecary. Maybe too smooth? Maybe too smooth indeed. This is music that leans towards new age music, to which I am highly allergic, but the rainforest field recordings of 'Dronin' In The Park' suggest this is not yet fully embraced by the new age. Thank god for that. So far: thumbs up for Jake Bell! (FdW)
STEIN URHEIM – SAME (CD by Hubro)
BLY DE BLYANT – HINDSIGHT BIAS (CD by Hubro)
Two new releases from the interesting Hubro label. Bly de Blyant is a trio comprised of Norwegian drummer Oyvind Skarbo, Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson and Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily. Here with their follow-up to their previous album, also on Hubro, 'ABC' . Again they show many different faces you see not often combined in one work. The keyboards in the disco-track ‘Laura’ and in ‘Westkreuz’ reminded me of Bo Hansson and Tonto. Anyway it smells strongly of the 70s. ‘DEFGHIJKL’ is a hypnotizing and pulsating track. The title track starts as a improvised soundscape, before it halfway turns into a slow and introspective piece, with sparse motives played by guitar and accordion. The first part of the closing track is a kind of ragarock clearly referring to Popol Vuh. Halfway the piece turns into a meditative and open space that in no way refers to the first part. It is for these strange and unusual breaks and twists that I like this album most. They play with expectations and create a pleasant confusion. Stein Urheim is a Norvegian guitarist based in Bergen. In 2012 he released his first solo-album titled ‘Kosmolodi’, and now we witness his second one. He was involved in the rock band Steady Steele, also member of Gabriel Fliflet´s Aresong band, plus drone band The Last Hurrah. He is an astonishing guitarist who knows history well. On this album he plays also slide tamboura, fretless bouzouki, gu qin, zither, mandolin, charango, etc. And Jørgen Træen contributing on modular synth assists him. Listening to his new solo-album I could not help find myself constantly trying to detect all the influences that surface in his pieces. We hear influences of Fripp (Frippertronics) like at the beginning of the opening track ‘Kosmoloda’. But also Ry Cooder, Bill Frisell, Gary Lucas, Ornette Coleman and numerous others pass by, as well as many musical idioms. This is not to critize this release, although when listening I do not want to be involved solely in the game detecting influences. But happily Urheim leads us also into his own musical imagination. ‘Beijng Blues’ for example is a beautiful bluesy tune, and shows that Urheim sticks to tradition on the one hand, but sets also new steps, making surprising delicate gestures etc. He is not a traditionalist. Above all, it is impossible not to be affected by the warm and inspired playing by Urheim. Beautiful! (DM)
OTOMO YOSHIHIDE & PAAL NILSSEN-LOVE (CD by Jvtlandt)
A bit of information that sometimes seems forgotten: Otomo Yoshihide also plays the guitar. I think many of the works we reviewed had him playing his turntable, but he's of course also the man behind Ground Zero. Here he picks up the six stringed beast again, and for thirty-three minutes and thirty nine seconds he improvises with Norway's drummer machine (especially a machine when it comes to releasing his music) Paal Nilssen-Love. A concert recording from the Jazzhouse in Copenhagen last year. Most of the time is a heavy release, devoid; it seems of anything that someone mildly interested would recognize as jazz music I should think. It's however totally free music, and pretty loud at that. More free noise rock than anything else. Otomo's guitar howls and screams around and is always close to feedback and distortion. One long guitar solo set against Nilssen-Love's rapid gunfire drums. It has the length of a prog rock song, but the energy of a punk song and the violence of some great noise. This is one ear-cleansing ride. One to play loud and one to play on repeat for a couple of time. Excellent recording of an excellent concert. It even comes with a section that can be qualified as introspective. Odd but true. (FdW)
ZAMILSKA - UNTUNE (CD by Mik Musik)
Behind Zamilska is Natalia Zamilska and she worked a 'culture animator, organising audio/video workshops, gigs, supporting underground culture'. Her interest lies in 'electronic sounds, techno, noise, new world. Monster bass, pulsating beats, war with all the stereotypes'. According to the information she had a hit single, 'Quarrel', but if that is the same piece as the one here, I am not sure what the hit potentional is. It's a nice, instrumental, minimalist techno beat of the heavier variation. While not a bad song, I think I like some of the others better. Zamilska's music is quite dark, bass-heavy, rhythm heavy, and very minimal. When the mood opens up, such as in 'Flag', it becomes quite a jubilent piece of music. Like Asotaar, reviewed elsewhere, this is all pretty demanding techno inspired music, in which Zamilska is the one with the more accessible sound - heavy but easier to digest, I should think. I quite enjoy this release. It's, perhaps, because it reminded of this kind of a heavy minimalism which I enjoyed a long time ago, but don't play as much as I want to, but also because the grooves of Zamilska are just very nice. You headnod along with this - if you are a non-dancer like I am - and it works as great entertainment, even in it's more darker moments. I am not sure if there is some sort of political agenda attached to this (it seems so), but if it is, its not in your face. Great! (FdW)
OLAN MILL & KEUNG MANDELBROT - SEISMOLOGY (CD by Hibernate Recordings)
ISNAJ DUI - EUPLEXIA (CDR by Rural Colours)
UK's Hibernate Recordings is a label that usually offers the wider scope of all things ambient, drone and microsound. Carefully constructed, minimal, beautiful and all such like. The new release by Olan Mill and Keung Mandelbrot, both new names to me, so it seems. They have had releases on Highpoint Lowlife, Preservation, Facture and Serein. Mandelbrot's own music is (apparently) about guitar manipulation, 'using effect pedals and samplers to create intense soundscapes', whereas Mill 'incorporates strings, woodwind, piano and vocals alongside his processed guitar'. This is their first album together, despite the fact they know each other for quite some time. The result is five pieces, thirty-five minutes of music, and it's quite an interesting as well as intense ride. This is perhaps not your usual Hibnernate release. Yes, it's minimalist in development, it's spacious in 'Flinn-Engdahl', the longest piece here, opening the CD, but even that space is inhibited by worms eating away the machinery and crawling about, making the machine all rusty and cranky. A piece like 'Basilicata' is perhaps as noise as Hibernate will ever get. Harsh noise wall fans would probably deem this 'disco' with its repeating blocks of noise, but for this label it seems a daring move. Maybe 'Inner Plate/Intra Plate' is the one piece that comes close the more 'traditional' ambient music. I quite enjoyed this release: it is all about the surprise and the will to do something else. This could have easily be another album of two guys droning away on their guitars and loop pedals but it's not; they expand the idiom of ambient with a fine touch of experimentation and noise.
On the subdivision Rural Colours we find another album by Katie English, also known as Isnaj Dui. She spend time on some site specific installations before returning to compose new pieces which we find on this new album, again with the use of concert and bass flutes and dulcimer, along with the usual electronics nearby, coil pickups, dictaphones and loop pedals. Now, this is the kind of music you would expect Hibernate to release, and the nine pieces are very nice, subtle, minimal, mellow and highly atmospheric. Isnaj Dui plays her flutes in what seems an 'easy' fashion, making subtle waves upon the surface, while sampling her breath and making that into a likewise subtle rhythm. Most of these pieces seem to have some of rhythm, created out of a bang here, or a thumb there, but they are kept to a minimum, in favour of her more dreamy music. Highlight here is 'Sleep Still' which sounded like a small ensemble piece, playing a soaring tune that reminded me a bit of 'Sinking Of The Titanic', that same subaquatic feel. This she should work out into a longer piece and have it performed by an ensemble. That is the great piece among lots of other excellent ones. Included are also a couple of more experimental ditties to keep the balance right. Great hand printed cover! (FdW)
JAKE MEGINSKY - L'APPEL DU VIDE (LP by Open Mouth)
The 12" at 45 rpm for more experimental music is a format I don't receive a lot, but here's one more, following a few others in recent weeks. I have no idea who Jake Meginsky is, other than he's behind Vapor Gourds-Dagger Music, of whom I never heard, and part of the trio X04 with Ball Nace (of Body/Head) and John Truscinski (Steve Gunn). I could assume this is all a bit in the world of improvisation/rock/noise, but Meginsky is working inside the world of electronics. Maybe exclusively with some analogue set-up of some kind, a beast of a modular synthesizer set up. It starts out with the title piece, which is a coherent rhythm piece, moody and atmospheric, but 'Labmeat' is more chaotic, even when it's sequentially organised. The other side has three pieces of more varying levels of abstractness. Sometimes monolithic as in 'Knuckleball' but also noise and rhythm mixed in 'Sgriob', which has some vague Pan Sonic influence. 'Decalomania' is the noisiest piece with the least amount of rhythm. I think this is all very interesting and nice to hear. Meginsky does something not unlike Pan Sonic, Stillupsteypa or Goem did, but it's very raw and uncut and yet also atmospheric, such as a large portion of the title piece. There is something about this music, which makes it all doom and gloom, I think, but it's hard to pin-point that anything in particular. Despite the fact that the music uses quite a bit of rhythm, and could perhaps appeal to the more adventurous DJs, I don't think this is any way aiming at the dance floor. It's much too mysterious for that. An excellent record that asks more questions than giving answers. (FdW)
ILLUSION OF SAFETY - SURRENDER (CDR by No Part Of It)
WILT - NOCTURNAL REQUIEM (CDR by No Part Of It)
Among the few artists I have been following what seems now to be a lifetime (Asmus Tietchens, Main, Organum), Illusion Of Safety is probably among them the band I saw play live most. Dan Burke, the main man, is a most loveable chap and he always surprises me with his next move. His music doesn't operate in any particular style, but overlaps various genres. Improvised, industrial, ambient, musique concrete, and even a bit of techno beat thrown in. Here's a new album that proofs it. It's called 'Surrender' (which word always reminds me of the Cheap Trick song) and on a label called No Part Of It, meaning they don't want to be part of the world of Internet. There is a website, but there catalogue is hand scribbled on a sheet of paper and the CDRs - professionally designed - can be bought with a money order. Yes! That's what I like. Swim against the tide. Music wise Illusion Of Safety does something we haven't seen him do in quite some time. The collage styled music in which lengthy chunks of sounds are suddenly cut away by voices from radio and TV, a techno beats slips into view and sounds remarkable like the early 90s works such as 'Historical', 'Inside Agitator' or 'Distraction'. Quiet at times, but also quite bombastic at other times, filmic but without too many words. And if we hear any, it's about nuclear waste leakage. In that sense this album also harks back to the post-industrial sound of yesteryear. The balance between the very quiet and the very loud, between the ambience and the beats, is maintained very well throughout this release. Daddy's all right: surrender!
James Keeler is the man behind Wilt already fifteen years of musical activities and in various guises, but as Wilt it's all about the dark ambient. Dark of the darker variation, black with hardly any grey, let alone white. Much of that is due to the somewhat industrial sound of Wilt. Reverb is a key element here, much in use in all of these pieces. It gives everything that ringing, singing, slightly metallic sound. It's something you either love or hate. I am not always the biggest lover of reverb, as I tend to think it's a bit of a cheap trick (hey!), but Keeler knows how to cleverly add it to his music. His level of control is quite all right. The six lengthy cuts on this release are very much alike each other, unlike the Illusion Of Safety release, which bounces back and forth in various styles. Wilt creates nocturnal humming music, but for the weak of mind (and hearth) this might as easily turn into a nightmare. It's hard to say which instruments are used, although in the final piece a guitar clearly pops up. Maybe there is no instrument at all, I was thinking, but it's all made with the extended use of sound effects and the most minimal input of sounds. But more likely is a combination of synthesizers, guitars and electronics. Whatever, however. It sounds great, even when it's nothing highly original. It's Wilt music and as such he does a great job. He didn't set out to play something new every time, but carves out his own niche, deeper and deeper. (FdW)
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - BODY REJECTS FACE (CDR by Hand-Made)
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - CLOUDS (CDR by Hand-Made)
Probably one of the few bands I always love to hear what they do, because it's so very unlikely what it is they will be doing next - always on the move, never the same. Which means that I may not always like it. These releases are Doc Wör Mirran release 121 and 123. The latter one, 'Body Rejects Face', has seven tracks recorded over the span of twenty-years by a larger group of people, in total twelve, around the core of Joseph B. Raimond and including long serving members such as Adrian Gormley, Ralf Lexis and Peter Schuster. It's a strange collection of pieces. Rock like, although for none of the musicians instruments are mentioned. Weird hook lines in 'Imitation Ivory' which I like very much, more conventional but also sketchier in the five pieces that follow this. 'Roadkill's Next Topmodel' is also weird, because it's very long, almost half the release at sixteen minutes, and nicely psychedelic. I couldn't figure out if it was intentionally being chopped up, or if this particular CDR is scratchy. Either way I also enjoyed this piece. A big of mixed bag this release, but quite nice. Rock like, weird, improvised, Zappa-esque perhaps. Also remarkable to note is that Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake did the front cover. Weird. But I may have used that word already.
'Clouds' is a totally different release. The only thing alike is the fact that it also has seven pieces. Here we have Raimond on bass, synth, sampling, Lexis on synth, Gromley on saxophone and Denise Kusiak on xylophone, although both of them seem to be appearing on the last piece only. The music here is much more experimental. Obviously synth heavy and therefor easily cornered to 'ambient' or 'cosmic music', but a track like 'That Fuckin' Laughin' Cat!' has a sampled mechanical cat laughing and is by far not spacey at all. It's perhaps a bit long, but show us an experimental side to the Doc Wor Mirran, which we don't get to see a lot. Maybe 'Undernight Sensation', that final piece would be experimental, with it's drum machine, free jazz styled saxophone and xylophones with lotsa reverb, but it seems a bit out of place, I think. Of the other pieces, the first two parts of 'Clouds' are quite weird, especially the second one, which seems to have a very low sound for a long time, and then bursts out, as if someone opened the volume on the recording machine way too late. Then there are three tracks, which are vastly psychedelic in their synth treatments and perhaps comes closest to the 'real' cosmic explosion. Personally I enjoyed this release over the other, but both once again proof that Doc Wör Mirran is a totally unpredictable unit, and that's exactly why I like them. (FdW)
STUART CHALMERS - IMAGINARY MUSICKS VOL. 1 (CDR by Beartown)
Chalmers is confident about his music. It's a rare thing to see mastering credits on CDR release, but Chalmers had his mastered by Denis Blackham at Skye Mastering, thus feeling confident to invest money into such an enterprise. CDRs may not be the best sellers in the world, but who knows. Blackham did a fine job on some fine music. On his previous release, 'Crossings', Chalmers already worked on a fine combination of the more abstract music with more playful electronic pieces. Here he still works with cassette tapes, synths and pedals and 'musicks', as indicated in the title reeks of 'gothic', but Chalmers is not doing that. On a number of pieces he uses found voices from a more ethnic background and cuts them along with drone like sound - perhaps also a bit ethnic, as I was reminded of some raga like sound. I am not entirely what Chalmers wants with this material. Maybe mixing music from various cultures together and make an imaginary culture; a bit like 'My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts'? It sounds at times quite esoteric, which is nice, but you have to be in the mood for this. The music is produced very well, moody, atmospheric, with lots of found voices, flutes and percussion (all of which reminded me of Zoviet*France at times), modular synths and throughout a wonderful release. Like said: I am not sure what exactly Chalmers is aiming at, but it all works out very refined. (FdW)
EARZUMBA - ENGLILLANO (CDR, private)
'Spanglish' is a mix of castillian and english; Englillano is something like that, but I have no idea what. Earzumba was working on something else and then, out of the blue, he recorded his own forty-minute epos which he labelled as 'chillout according to Earzumba'. If you are unfamiliar with The KLF's 'Chillout' record (go shame yourself), then it's about time you did. Armed with a sampler, 'vsts and maus', Earzumba set himself to work and loaded up on a similar set of samples - instruments, field recordings, percussion - to create an album that follows the built up of The KLF - a constant flow of pulses and impulses, of vast sound pictures and common elements - but Earzumba keeps matters a bit more abstract than The KLF - no Elvis, no Albatros, but I think I heard a race car - and especially in the second half it takes quite some time to keep it interesting. Here it is, for quite some time just substandard drone like. While a brave attempt, and a fine album, most of the time, it's not a match for a classic that the KLF once produced. Limited to twenty-five copies on CDR - endless in the digital format. (FdW)
SIGTRYGGUR BERG SIGMARSSON - IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE LET ME ASK (cassette by Some)
Only two weeks ago I noted the return of Some, the label run by Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson, these days firmly based in Belgium. His previous release came with a glossy A4 sized magazine styled book. This new one also comes with a book, about A6 sized and non-glossy. Here we find 46 pencil drawings he made on May 14th 2014 during a performance in Ghent, Belgium. Come to think of it: that's only two weeks ago. I assume the music was already finished by then? The drawings have some quick sketch like quality to them, but that is not reflected in the music at all. The sounds were all recorded and mixed between 1998 and 2013and perhaps may count as 'best of' for Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson? I am not sure. Unlike the CDR that came with the previous release, a fifteen-minute piece of processed organ drones, these two pieces (fifty minutes in total) are more collage like yet also maintain the trademark drone character of the music of Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson. Various pieces are cut together in one long piece (Sigmarsson also mailed me the WAV files for these pieces to be included in the podcast). Beautiful dark drone music, using computer techniques no doubt and on the inout side we find field recordings of natural sounds, church organs and who knows what else. It's the music I very much like, and perhaps also can't be critical about. Yes, I heard this before, as good as this etc., but I just like this a lot. Highly inspired ambient drone music with a strong bite. Not lulling the listener to a deep sleep but transporting him to different worlds. Excellent! (FdW)
FEAR DROP 17 (magazine plus CD by Fear Drop)
Listening to music is what I like most; especially when I don't have to write about the music I hear. I also love reading about music and in the long forgotten past, Vital Weekly also had a section with magazine reviews. That's no longer the case, perhaps because magazines aren't made any more, or perhaps not send anymore. The one that I always receive is Dutch/Belgium Gonzo Circus, a true point of reference. I never review it, and come to think of it, I don't know why. One of the few other magazines I receive is French Fear Drop. Reading French is something I have mastered only a little bit when I was in school, or perhaps it's not trained enough to read it quickly these days. If I concentrate hard enough it works out however. The latest issue of Fear Drop deals with 'icy sounds', via a piece of music of the Inuits, interviews with Thomas Köner, Jana Winderen and Glacial Movements label owner Alessandro Tedeschi and pieces by/on Marc Namblard and a guide to cold recordings (Colin Olan, Jean-Francois Laporte and Douglas Quin. I can easily imagine you being all cranky for not studying this fine language in high school. But the good news is there is also a compilation CD with ten pieces, all of which are previously unreleased (as far as I can see), of many of the musicians in the magazine, but also CoH, Aidan Baker, Galati, Harpages, Halspirit and Final. It's especially those artists offering something new to the idiom. Whereas Winderen, Köner, Namblard or Netherworld seem to work with (processed) field recordings, the others are more 'cold' from a musical perspective, such as the layered guitar noise of Galati and Final or the 'cold wave' inspired guitar strumming of Harpages and the cold war inspired music of Coh. That's all-cold too, and makes up an interesting and highly varied compilation. (FdW)
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