number 940
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week 28
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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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Summer schedule! There will be no Vital Weekly in week 29 (12 to 20 july) and week 34 (18  to 24 august)



SEQUOIA – ROTATIONS (CD by Evil Rabbit)
XYSM – CH4O (CD by Phase Junk)
VERA KAPPELER – PLAYS PAUL BURKHARD (CD by Veto Records)
REGOSPHERE/XIPHOID DEMENTIA (CD by Phage Tapes/Annihilvs)
JACASZEK FEAT. KWARTLUDIUM - CATALOGUE DES ARBRES (CD by Touch) *
HILDUR GUONADOTTIR - SAMAN (CD by Touch) *
RUTGER ZUYDERVELT - STAY TUNED (CD by Baskaru) *
SQ - PENGUIN SILHUETTES (CD by Lamour) *
BLACK TOP – ONE (CD by Babel)
IRMLER & LIEBEZIET - FLUT (CD by Klangbad) *
MOSKUS – MESTERTYVEN (CD by Hubro Music) *
ACHIM ESCHER – AN W.LÜDI (CD by Veto Records)
MARTIN BISI – EX NIHILO (LP/CD by Labelship)
DUS-TI – EIKO (12" by Ti-Records)
COSO – EP 2 (CDR by Coso)
STEFAN ROIGK - UNPREDICTABLE FROMBERG MIX (CDR by Eh?) *
THE STATIC MEMORIES - THE BLOUDY VISION OF JOHN FARLEY (CDR by The Slightly Off Kilter Label) *
MIHAI CUCOS TRIO - UNDER THE REGIME (CDR, private) *
JOE EVANS - SEPTIMAL (CDR by Spectropol Records) *
REMIXED AMBIENCE WARS (CDR by Lusciana)
CORE SHIFT - OUT THERE (CDR, private) *
CORE SHIFT - FREIHEIT EP (CDR, private) *
EMERGE & DON VOMP - RETENTION (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
POEMBEAT - BODY (3"CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
SIMON WHETHAM - IS THE WATER SUPPOSED TO BE THIS BLUE (3"CDR by Rural Colours) *
THE SLY AND UNSEEN - IMPROBABLE (3"CDR by Rural Colours) *
LOS AMARGADOS WITH SUSANNA GARTMAYER (cassette by Unusual Records)



SEQUOIA – ROTATIONS (CD by Evil Rabbit)
The small Evil Rabbit label, founded in 2006 by Michael Kneer and Albert van Veenendaal, built up an impressive catalogue of relevant improvised music. This new release is most certainly a highlight in their catalogue. With Sequioa we are in the company of an international quartet compiled of Antonio Borghini, Meinrad Kneer, Klaus Kürvers and Miles Perkin, all playing double bass. For locating the different players, they are positioned in the mix respectively middle left, far right, middle right and far left.  They met in Berlin where they recorded everything on one single day in 2012. Kneer is a German player switching between Berlin and Amsterdam for his musical activities. Berlin-based Kürvers has a background as an architect and historian. Borghini from Milan studied with Joelle Léandre and Barre Philips, among others. We find him most in Italian combinations like the CAL Trio. Canadian Miles Perkin is an improviser with Miles Perkin Quartet as his main project.  I could not trace who initiated this collaboration, but what counts is that it is a very successful one.  In each piece they enfold a rich sound spectrum of deep resonating and vibrating sounds, like in the title piece that gave me the feeling of being inside some a big archaic machine.  This 15-minute piece has two short Partch-like interludes as neighbours, offering a moment of rest and a pleasant lightness. In ‘Birdcages’ it is as if I was listening to an indifferent but beautiful pattern of raindrops falling. The improvisations move between low vibrating sonorities and high registers. Sometimes delicate and breakable soundpaintings, sometimes operating as a brutal bulldozer. But whatever they are doing the pieces are solid and show a fine interaction between the players. (DM)
Address: http://www.evilrabbittrecords.eu

XYSM – CH4O (CD by Phase Junk)
XYSM is an acronym, which stands for the first characters of the names of the four members of the group, Christos (in Greek it starts with a X) Chondropoulos (percussion), Yannis Saxonis (modular electronics), Sebastien Marteau (reeds) and Manolis Chatzidakis (amplified zither). The group started in 2009 in a small room in Athens with lots of instruments. The room was not isolated, so in summer it is very hot and in winter freezing cold. Since that moment they recorded thousands of minutes of improvisations. The quartet plays without any borders. One concert they played completely acoustic and another one a highly processed electronic ensemble. The element of surprise is always there. XYSM has the opportunity to play music with all kind of instruments, electronics, toys, glass, metal, wood, kitchenware etc. etc. CH4O consists six tracks and some of them are just improvisation music in which four musicians playing on their instruments, sometimes as fast or freaky as possible, like lots of free jazz musicians will do. The strength of the improvisations is that the tracks are short and doesn’t last long. The tracks are recorded in two days in June 2013. The track Mr Burdon is a slow one, in which the musicians are searching for an interesting colour of sound. The fourth track Pseudomonas is based on percussion and some other sounds far away in the back ground. The diversity in rhythm, sounds and silence makes this improvisation interesting. The artwork of the CD is well done and includes an article of Panagjiotis Spoulos about the history of the group. (JKH)
Address: http://www.phasejunk.com

VERA KAPPELER – PLAYS PAUL BURKHARD (CD by Veto Records)
Vera Kappeler comes from Basel, studied piano at the Winterthur Conservatory and jazz piano in Basel. Today she combines teaching at conservatories in Winterthur and Luzern, with a career as a performing artist. She is engaged in several projects and collaborations, several of them documented on CD. Like the album ‘Babylon-Suite’ on the famous ECM label in a duo performance with drummer Peter Conradin Zumthor. In 2009 she released an album of her trio on Veto. Veto now presents a solo album by Kappeler. And it is a risky undertaking that is delivered here by her, as it is an album devoted to the work of Paul Burkhard. Now you may think who is Paul Burkhard? His name didn’t ring a bell for me either. But he was a famous Swiss composer of operas, musicals, etc., who died in 1977. I guess some of his songs dwell in the sub consciousness of many people, like for example the song  “O, mein Papa”, that has been covered by many artists. Kappeler performs this and other songs of Burkhard on piano, prepared piano and toy piano. Kappeler has a fine touch and phrasing, and gives sensitive and inspired interpretations of Burkhard’s melodies. It is very difficult I guess to give such well known and catchy tunes an interpretation that is not trivializing the original. Well, the interpretations of Kappeler are far from persiflage, but playful and respectful interpretations that try to grasp the essence of this music from a different corner. (DM)
Address: http://www.veto-records.ch

REGOSPHERE/XIPHOID DEMENTIA (CD by Phage Tapes/Annihilvs)
The split release here is really split one: first one track by Regosphere, then one by Xiphoid Dementia, then one by Regosphere again etc, until each has three pieces on the table. I don't think I heard of Regosphere before, but it's the project of Andrew Quitter; behind Xiphoid Dementia is Egan Budd and it seems a long time ago since I last heard his music, Vital Weekly 483 (it seems!). Both of these projects fit together quite well. Regosphere uses analogue synthesizers, voice, metal, cymbals, bells, tapes, field recordings and electronics, while Xiphoid Dementia is all about waterphone, synthesizers and samples of rocks, earth and metal. Both of these use quite an amount of reverb to arrive at the somewhat chilling and noisy sound, more so than to be atmospherical. This music is partly rooted in the industrial world with its scraping of metal in cavernous circumstances (no doubt digitally created), that have this abandoned factory feeling. The soil is contaminated and gas burps everywhere. Highly toxic music. This might be the soundtrack to a movie depicting such a thing - and with a vicious half human/half animal 'thing' coming to life. HR Giger would be proud. This is all fine stuff, the sort of noise music I quite like, but maybe, so I was thinking, it's also a bit that both of these projects sound quite a like. There seems to be nothing that distinguishes one from the other, and that's a pity. A personal note, a fingerprint that marks Xiphoid Dementia or Regosphere doesn't seem to be present. However if you are looking for something that is noise based, but clearly created with some thought, to create something compelling as well as frightening then surely this should belong to your world. (FdW)
Address: http://www.annihilvs.net

JACASZEK FEAT. KWARTLUDIUM - CATALOGUE DES ARBRES (CD by Touch)
HILDUR GUONADOTTIR - SAMAN (CD by Touch)
RUTGER ZUYDERVELT - STAY TUNED (CD by Baskaru)
From the outside it may seem that Touch always works with the same artists and to some extent that's probably true. What's wrong with that? They act as a proper record label, not working on a project-to-project basis, but push a limited of artists. But sometimes an entirely new name pops up, such as Michal Jacaszek from Poland, who is a composer of soundtracks and theatre music, as well as a curator for various festivals. His previous work was released by Ghostly International Miasmah, Gustaff Records and Experimedia, although I must say I didn't hear any of that. Here he works with a quartet called Kwartludium: Dagna Sadkowska on violin, Michal Gorczynski on clarinet and bass clarinet, Pawel Nowicki on percussion and Piotr Nowicki on grand piano. Much like composers have tried to describe animals through instruments (Messiaen, Saint-Saens), Jacaszek wanted to describe trees, 'their forms, atmosphere and mystery'. He started with the recording of leaves rustling and wrote the notes out for the quartet and then, in the final stage, treated everything in a way that is owed to the world of electro-acoustic music. The 441 Hz Chmaber Choir performed some voice parts. Great story, fine music, which carefully balances on the modern classical on one side and electro-acoustic music on the other side. Jacaszek really makes his sounds - whatever source - to have a rustling character, such as in 'Garden (Les Sureaux)' - which rustles all around - the field recordings, the percussion instruments, but also the other instruments making similar gestures. Most of the time this is played introspectively, but not dark, doomy. It's airy music, open, like a mild summer breeze (and with today's sunny weather I can exactly know how that feels), meandering through space, without getting weightless or new age inspired. Jacaszek knows how to create music that is partly gritty, a bit dirty, just off the beaten track. I'm never too fond of anything that is even remotely modern classical, but I must say: this is great!
Hildur Guğnadóttir is one of those stable artists on Touch, and obviously you know this Icelandic cello player, who also uses her voice. 'Saman' means 'together' and that's about her using both instruments. Not always at the same time, as the cello seems to be the main instrument. I think I wouldn't mind if she would use her voice a bit more. She plays the cello beautifully, but perhaps after a while you know what it sounds like. Guğnadóttir plays the instrument in a traditional way - a lover of classical music would as easily recognize this instrument. What is gone, or at least pushed to a background, is the use of a looper device. It's there; it's used but kept to a strict minimum. It marks time, sometimes. But by and large it's the cello solo that plays here. Once her voice comes in, high, the interaction between cello and voice is great. Very spacious, angelic, but also sounding a more intense. Whereas the cello solo pieces sound nice, the true tension appears when both are used. I would strongly recommend an album in which she would explore both on a more equal level. Don't get me wrong: this is a great album, but not entirely fulfilling my expectations, I guess.
And perhaps the third one qualifies also as modern classical music? At least Rutger Zuydervelt releases this under his own name, rather than his Machinefabriek moniker. Maybe a hint that he wants to be a serious composer/conductor? He's at the stage with his own orchestra here, no less than 152 musician took part in this - and I'll mention none of them - who send it an 'A' note on their own instruments - laptop musicians didn't take part - which Zuydervelt distributed on a bunch of speakers (with the music as loops) as part of an installation in a forest. People could literally take a walk through the orchestra. Here, on CD, you can't take a walk through the CD, but Zuydervelt created a standalone stereo mix. The way it sounds, this could, as easily be a CD by Phill Niblock on Touch. Very drone like, very minimal and of course, absolutely beautiful. In the second half there is a lot more happening than on your usual Niblock record, mind you, Zuydervelt is not a mere copy cat. Here he uses a lot of the instruments to drop in and out it seems a like collage of sounds, but then embedded in this ever sounding, gorgeous back drop of a drone. I don't think any of the involved musicians would recognize his own 'A' in here and there is most certainly not the 'A' in a circle of anarchy around here, as Zuydervelt composed a very strong piece, very classical also, even when it would be difficult to get all of these musicians on one stage and have them play the same thing. Yet, one never has the idea of listening to a computer treatment of acoustic instruments. It never sounds mechanical. I think it's about time he worked with Zeitkratzer and stretch his abilities as a serious modern composer! (FdW)
Address: http://www.touch33.net
Address: http://www.baskaru.com

SQ - PENGUIN SILHUETTES (CD by Lamour)
Sq stands for Sound Quartet and is an open collective with Thomas Bjelkeborn (SE) Philippe Moenne-Loccoz (FR), Paul Pignon (UK), Frøya Dahlø (NO), Josep Lluise Galiana (ES), Johan Sundberg(SE) and Olle Åberg (SE) as main members. For their projects they often collaborate with visual artists. For this new project the ‘quartet’ is reduced to Bjelkeborn and Moenne-Loccoz, who are the founding fathers of this, collective that came about of experimental research at The Electronic Music Studio in Sweden and Musique Inventives d’Annecy in France in 1992. Pignon plays bass clarinet, bassett horn, clarinet, tenor sax, didgeridoo, tenor recorder and laptop. Bjelkeborn is responsible for electronic sounds and sonic alterations with wii, gadgets and laptop. Acoustics and digital sound sources are professionally integrated with each other. But it all sounded a bit pretentious in my ears, and it didn’t evoke any emotional response. So how clever their music undeniably is, I could not make any connection with what is going here, leaving me bored. But this may do no justice to what they are up to. They deliver advanced electro-acoustical music where a lot is happening in a way. Maybe it talks to you?! (DM)
Address: http://www.lamour.se

BLACK TOP – ONE (CD by Babel)
Black Top is a duo of multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson and pianist Pat Thomas. Orphy Robinson is around in the UK jazz since the 1980s, and played with musicians as Don Cherry, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, and Courtney Pine. Pat Thomas is at home in improvisation, jazz and new music. He has played with known improvisers like Derek Bailey, Tony Oxley and Lol Coxhill. As Black Top, started in 2011, they make up a very curious unit. This project is about the combination of acoustical instruments and rhythm-based electronics. Robinson plays marimba and Thomas plays piano, keyboards and is responsible for the computer beats. For their performances they invite a diversity of players. For their debut release they choose a live performance with saxophonist Steve Williamson, dating from January 31th, 2012. Their improvisations root often in rhythm-based, sometimes looped, patterns, with Williamson weaving his lines in between. In all three improvisations they built up a sound as if a complete band is playing, but they are just three. They create intense interlocked patterns, like in the 23-minute second piece on the album that is followed by passages that are more lyrical and quiet. From beginning to end there is a strong energy and drive in their playing.  Instrumentation and concept of this duo are unusual, making it an interesting experiment to say the least. (DM)
Address: http://www.babellabel.com

IRMLER & LIEBEZIET - FLUT (CD by Klangbad)
If we were to translate the title of this album from Dutch to English, its title would be 'shite'. That surely is not the idea. Here we have erstwhile Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit work with Faust's organist Jochen Irmler. The latter has been working with other before, such as GUdrun Gut, FM Einheit and Christian Wolfarth. Liebezeit and Irmmler played a few concerts last year and the recordings on this release we can see as exploring the studio possibilities of playing together. As you might imagine this is all very krautrock inspired - it would have been a real surprise if it weren’t! Maybe that's perhaps a bit of a downside too, I was thinking. You could expect these people do something else? If you prepared to have something that fulfils your expectation, then these six pieces won't surely disappoint you. The swirling organ sounds and the drumming of Liebezeit, not excatly like a drum machine, but in a fine conversation with Irmler. It's minimalism with a maximum output. One could argue that, perhaps, the sound of both instruments remain unchanged during this work, which, in this case works against the release: at one point you know how it sounds, no matter if it is wildly played, or soft, or motorik, krauty or whatever. That is maybe the downside of this album. Soundwise it all stays very close together. But once this spacious groove gets to you, you might never want to leave this trip. (FdW)
Address: http://www.klangbad.de

MOSKUS – MESTERTYVEN (CD by Hubro Music)
Moskus is a jazz trio who impressed with their debut release ‘Salmesykkel’ in 2012. The trio is comprised of Anja Lauvdal (piano), Frederic Luhr Dietrichson (bass) en Hans Hulbækmo (drums).  All three of them studied at the jazz department of the Trondheim conservatory. For their long-awaited follow-up they spend hours of recording in an old wooden church. Afterwards they made a selection for the album. Don’t expect to hear a conventional jazz trio. It is not all the time jazz we hear, although everything arose from improvisation. The improvisations also touch on classical music, rock, and easy listening. Some of the pieces remain sketchy while others are more worked out. A piece like ‘Tandem med Sankt Peter’ is close to kitschy, easy listening music à la Martin Denny, but more than that and very funny too. Also “Tradisjonskvelern” breathes music of older days. The opening jazzy tune “Fjesing” reminded me of Monk, because of the notes that are not played. Although piano is the leading instrument, percussion and drums also at the forefront in most of the pieces. The three make up a very inspired trio with a good sense for creating new perspectives within the traditional trio format. Not that every track is worthwhile if you ask me, but is very rewarding to be in the company of musicians who try to find new paths. (DM)
Address: http://www.hubromusic.com

ACHIM ESCHER – AN W.LÜDI (CD by Veto Records)
I remember being waked up in Luzern one day – many years ago – very near to the station, by the sounds of alphorn players who were rehearsing in an old station hall, playing traditional music. I was intrigued by the fullness of their sound and the way the sounds interfered with the environment. I had to think of this while reading Eschers bio. He is a Swiss sax player, who grew up in “the cultural wasteland of Wallis” as he describes it. He escaped to the Music University of Luzern, where he met at last fellow musicians who were into something else and where he could shake off traditional Swiss music. First steps on stage followed as a member of Manuel Mengis Gruppe 6.  To be continued by participating in ensembles around Christoph Erb. This year he also released an album of improvised music with his band Happy End, etc, etc. This is just a few of the collaborations of this young Swiss musician. Nowadays he is fully dedicated to improvised music. His solo album is – as the title suggests - dedicated to Swiss musician and improviser Werner Lüdi, an alt and baritone sax player of an older generation. He died in 2000. His tribute counts 10 improvisations for alto and baritone saxophones. His improvisations have power and demonstrate a raw and rough approach. Escher does not like it all very clean. But sophisticated and well thought his music is, on the other hand. Escher is an advanced player, producing all kinds of noises and sounds from his saxophones embedded in strong and expressive improvisations. I try to imagine being waked up by his music. There is nothing wrong with that. (DM)
Address: http://www.veto-records.com

MARTIN BISI – EX NIHILO (LP/CD by Labelship)
For me the name of Martin Bisi of eternally linked to Material and the No wave scene of New York in the 80s. But time passes, and Bisi is still in business. As an engineer and producer he worked with Sonic Youth, Swans, etc. Over the years, every now and then, Bisi also released an album of his own. Starting with ‘Creole Mass’ released in 1988 by SST/New Alliance. By the way, whatever happened to these labels? His latest one – his first after five years of silence - is released by Labelship, a small independent run by musicians and producer Thomas Lebioda. ‘Ex Nihilo’ – meaning ‘out of nothing’ – contains seven works. Out of chaos came order to make a biblical reference. In the case of ‘Ex Nihilo’ chaos and order are in a constant battle, where it is not easy to decide who wins. At the core this is a bunch of songs that could play by singer plus guitar, or a simple band. But Bisi drenched the songs in a wall of samples, mainly of choir-like, female voices. This gives the music orchestral and choral proportions. But of a cloudy nature, as Bisi uses many sounds, voices, instruments, etc. in his multi-layered constructions. The pieces often sound psychedelic and dark, and remind me a bit of work by The Swans. Throughout Bisi is consistent in his procedures, so this is for sure a coherent album. And I don’t have to add that Bisi proves again to be a very capable studio wizard. Musically spoken however this album did not make a strong impression on me. Maybe it is something for you. (DM)
Address: http://www.labelship.com

DUS-TI – EIKO (12" by Ti-Records)
This new work by Cologne based duo Dus-Ti, came about as an collaboration with singer and electronic musician Eiko from Switzerland. Eiko is Joana Aderi, born in 1977 in Switzerland to a Kenyan father and a Swiss mother. She grew up with classical music, mainly Renaissance vocal music. But turned to hip-hop, jazz, free jazz and all the experimental electronic music. Behind Dus-Ti we find Pablo Giw (trumpet, electronics) and Mirek Pyschny (drums). They shared the stage with Eiko on the Moers Music Festival in 2012 and decided to work together. This record presents first results. How to describe them? They built freeform songs, shaped in improvised sets I guess. Because of the intensity and the energy of the performance, this music is captivating and convincing. The pieces as such are very open, sometimes fragmentary, sometimes going everywhere. But throughout I sense these guys know what they are doing. I can’t put my finger on what exactly make this work fascinating, but it is! (DM)
Address: http://www.ti-records.com

COSO – EP 2 (CDR by Coso)
Short and furious. Eights instrumental songs have passed in eleven minutes. That is hardcore punk mentality. The punk attitude is high, but the musically Coso breaks down the punk patterns. They explore the borders of sound, rhythm and complexity. Coso is a band from Buenos Aires – Argentina and consists of Javier Areal Velez (guitar), Leandro Barzabal (bass) and Florencia Curci (drums). Javier Areal Velez writes the songs and indeed they are written and composed. The structures of the songs are complicated and compact. Besides the standard band instruments the trio uses also DIY synths, found objects and a molested doll with a contact microphone and effects. The band exists already five years and for now they release their second album and it is really good. The CDR is packed in a self-sewed cotton cover with screen-printing. Great artwork. The music moves from one eruption to another one. From a chaotic moment to a straight riff. In a few seconds the mood changes from quietness to noise to punky riffs. Anyhow… this EP gives really a good introduction of Coso and hopefully they will come to play in Europe and play their organized improvisations. (JKH)
Address: http://coso.bandcamp.com/#_=_

STEFAN ROIGK - UNPREDICTABLE FROMBERG MIX (CDR by Eh?)
Fontana Mix is one of those John Cage compositions which doesn't consist of any traditional score, but consisting of four multi-channel tapes and twenty sheets, ten transparencies with points and lines and a single transparency with a straight line and ten transparencies with squiggly lines. Each performer can move around these sheets and create an interpretation how to mix these four multi-channel tapes. These tapes have six kinds of sounds: city sounds, country sounds, electronic sounds, manually produced (meaning "instrumental") sounds, wind-produced sounds (such as singing), and small sounds that require amplification, such as crickets chirping. "Coordinate points drawn from the transparencies determine the class of each tape sound, inches of tape used, its volume, timbre, mixing, and other elements." Quite an open piece, and on youtube you can find easily Cage's own eleven minute version, but here's one by Stefan Roigk, which lasts forty-four minutes. Roigk's piece is not strictly an interpretation, but his own version, using his own sounds and he creates very much a piece that his own, and not just another version. I believe computer distribution of the sounds play some part in this and the whole thing certainly feels more abstract than the more pure sound sources of Cage, but there is a nice vibrancy in this material. It bounces back and forth with all of these minor treatments to the sounds, which sounds at times processed in max/msp, but keeps moving all the time. It's ambient music, surely, from a more abstract part of the world of electro-acoustic music. In a good Cageian tradition I fell asleep while I played this, but I had this one repeat and it made a fine continuous play for a long time. Excellent release, inc a cover that is also inspired by Cage. (FdW)
Address: http://www.publiceyesore.com/ehcat.php

THE STATIC MEMORIES - THE BLOUDY VISION OF JOHN FARLEY (CDR by The Slightly Off Kilter Label)
Who John Farley is, mentioned in the title, I don't know. The Static Memories are a duo of Gus Garside (double bass and electronics) and Dan Powell (guitar, electronics, small percussion). In the mid '90s he was involved in a live arts group called Omsk, but since moving to Brighton he is part of The Spirit Of Gravity and Nil. Garside is known as an improviser and a member of arc (no capitals). They have been playing together since 2007 and this is their first album, culled from many hours of recordings, from the last 18 months. Quite a diverse album also, I think. They play introspective material in which there is room for their instruments to sound the way they are, but also to make them sound like something; the electro-acoustic nature of improvisation. Sometimes they go on, a bit louder, such as in 'An Infinate Gallery', with it's far away howl of feedback or sounding like a computer music composition, such as in 'Poppies'. And sometimes there is an overlap between all of this, and it begins to blur. That's perhaps the best thing about this album: it doesn't seem to be fixed to anything in particular, just the sheer love of doing these improvisations together. Maybe, occasionally, it's a bit long here and some more editing could have been in place, but overall this is an excellent, free (as in: free music and free of any particular improvisational style) album. (FdW)
Address: http://www.slightlyoffkilterlabel.blogspot.com

MIHAI CUCOS TRIO - UNDER THE REGIME (CDR, private)
JOE EVANS - SEPTIMAL (CDR by Spectropol Records)
The one reason why I went out to see a concert by Sonic Youth in 1983/4, I believe, was that the local newspaper said: a band with guitarists from the ensemble of Glenn Branca. I saw that sometime before on a riotous television program and was impressed. When I saw Branca finally play himself with his troupe, in 2003, I was much less impressed. Hammering out riffs, reading music from sheets. It all sounded dull. And perhaps there were lots of times when I didn't keep up with his work at all, in between and post 2003. But here's a CD of someone who played with Branca since 2006 and who also played with Thurston Moore, Mike Watt and others. His trio of guitars is Mihai Cucos himself, Antony Robinson and Stacey Hine. All on electric guitars, reading from sheets (photo on the insert), but luckily it sounds less serious than it looks. They play minimal tunes; they strum away nicely and are less a wall of noise than Branca himself (once) was. Their music shifts back and forth like a fine minimal piece would do, and in the fourth part it even is highly melodic, an almost intimate piece of music. The five parts last a little bit less than half an hour and all belong together as one can clearly hear. There isn't a lot of distortion used here, but the MC3 hammer away rather untreated. That is perhaps also an aspect I enjoyed. I do like noise but not for the sake of it. Here it is not present a lot, and that does make the minimalist aspect comes alive more. Nice one!
Also dealing with strings, an Autoharp, and microtonalism is Joe Evans, also from the UK, who uses a Septimal tuning system, where 'it refers to intervals derived from the 7th harmonic'. He also writes: "Septimal was created from recordings of improvisations on the autoharp. Each piece attempts to explore the nature of the scale as well as the character of the instrument. Each note (string) is independently tunable, making it ideal for experimental scales. In Addition, the instrument lends itself to other experiments, exploring sonic possibilities such as taps, bumps, string scrapes and other mechanical noises of the instrument that make up so much of its character. This has led to a number of pieces where the tuning is far less relevant or even obscured, although always present." That to me is a bit of abracadabra. I hear fourteen improvisations on the Autoharp and its at times quite wild and free music. Evans adds a bit or reverb here and there to give the whole thing some more body, but I must say I am not so convinced by this album. It all comes across as something that is played on Autoharp one afternoon and its then decided to make a bunch of CDR copies. Release finished. Only very few pieces were interesting for the outside listener, such as the obscured 'The Front', in which we hear some obscured rumble. Some of the shorter improvisations were all right, but overall? As said, I wasn't convinced. (FdW)
Address: <mihaicucos@gmail.com>
Address: http://spectropolrecords.bandcamp.com/

REMIXED AMBIENCE WARS (CDR by Lusciana)
A that fine combination of all things I don't like, compilations and remixes. And mind you: all things that I don't like reviewing. Apparently one Duran Vazquez - whohe? - asked a 'selection of remixers, up close to him, especially not in the geographical sense but in the emotional terrain, to revisit his previous album 'Selected Ambience Wars' and he provides four of his own remixes. Why he asked them, is not clear. To shed new light on his sound? To improve them? To get them to a whole bunch of new listeners? I haven't heard the original album, which is another complication to this compilation. But I like Lusciana, the label, a lot. Great presentation here too, with hacked websites playing a part on the well-printed glossy covers. I didn't recognize all of the names here, only Tzesne and Miguel A. Garcia seem to be household names of some kind, if you remember what Vital Weekly writes about. Otherwise it also has the music by John Lenin, kl100b and Anacrusa. It's a bit diverse, although most of these pieces evolve/revolve around the common ambient route. Garcia's track might be a bit more collage like, but also has owes to that world, while Anacrusa has a more improvised feel to it, but with a lot of reverb, which didn't do much for me. In the first and in the final Vazquez remix of his own work, things are a bit louder. I don't know. I liked maybe most of it to hear, and I worked a little bit when listening, but I never seemed to care much about who did what here. That might not the right way to approach any release, I guess, and certainly not a remix one which displays various talents. Maybe that wasn't done enough here? (FdW)
Address: http://luscinia.ruidemos.org

CORE SHIFT - OUT THERE (CDR, private)
CORE SHIFT - FREIHEIT EP (CDR, private)
Following his debut release, reviewed in Vital Weekly 931, here are two more EPs by Mike Kramer's new project Core Shift. Both of them around twenty-one minutes and lovely mastered by Jos Smolders at Earlabs. You could wonder why Kramer decided to release them separately. I can only guess, so I won't. Like I noted with his debut, Kramer is all out on the ambient path here, although in every of the six pieces there is a bump, that vague notion of a bass drum being present. The bump is slow and peaceful, like a slow heartbeat. It reminds the listener, perhaps, of the big time of ambient house, whose return won't happen, I think. The differences between these two albums/singles are minor, I think. On 'Out There' there seems to be a more voices, maybe lifted from documentaries on life in the far end of the universe. I was reminded of Ambient Instinct (the label) and bands as SETI and Biosphere here. 'Freiheit EP" seemed to be more instrumental although voices are also present here, but in between those deep washes of (digital) synthesizers it was hard to hear much difference between the one and the other. Maybe, I was thinking, it would have been nicer to out all of this on a single CDR, making it a nicely forty-two minutes of spacious sound crafting. If ambient music with a bit of spice is your thing, then put Core Shift right on top of your list of 'interesting new artists to explore'. (FdW)
Address: http://coreshift.bandcamp.com

EMERGE & DON VOMP - RETENTION (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
POEMBEAT - BODY (3"CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
The release by Emerge and Don Vomp consists of a recording from nearly five years ago, and seeing that Attenuation Circuit releases quite an amount of work online, I must say I am not entirely surely why this live recording found the same way to an audience. Don Vomp plays violin, while Emerge - one of the people behind the label, which explains I guess, is a laptop artist with a strong love for drones. Here he samples Vomp's violin on the spot and layers these accordingly. Sometimes this results in a thick bass of drone sounds, and on other occasion’s high tinkling sounds of strings being played pizzicato. It works best when Vomp limits himself to producing a few well-placed sounds and not playing insanely the strings, which he also sometimes does. When quiet and sparse it works very well with the overall piece of drones meeting the electro-acoustic. Towards the end there is quite some distortion on the recording and it doesn't sound too good. But before that you had a nice thirty-five minute ride of drone-like improvisations on electronics and violin. Quite a nice release indeed, but I still would think a download only would have been equally all right.
Poembeat finishes his trilogy, following 'Mind' and 'Soul', which I think I didn't review. Poembeat is not, what you could expect, a project about poems set to beats but he plays guitar and uses sound effects. Here, on 'Body', also using drum beats and looped noises. The six pieces on this release are kind of short, around three to four minutes and that's a pity. Poembeat tinkles away nicely on his guitar - Durutti Column interest for me again, but who knows who your guitar hero is - and he plays minimal melodies; nothing fancy, nothing complicated, loop device near by. Spacious, drifting away, pleasant to hear, nothing offensive or crude. I wouldn't have minded a few more of these tunes on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It could use a bit more mastering as overall it sounded a bit soft and could surely benefit from such a treatment. (FdW)
Address: http://www.attenuationcircuit.de

SIMON WHETHAM - IS THE WATER SUPPOSED TO BE THIS BLUE (3"CDR by Rural Colours)
THE SLY AND UNSEEN - IMPROBABLE (3"CDR by Rural Colours)
Two extended play releases from Rural Colours, the CDR subdivision of Hibernate and on the first we come across the work of Simon Whetham, of whom we have reviewed work before. Here, in a nice hand-printed cover (etching, stamped), he presents a twenty-two minute piece, that sees him breaking away from the previous work he did, moving away from the field recordings and him playing the guitar. Yes, that's right, Whetham plays the guitar here, and doesn't transform it into a massive drone piece, but we recognize the guitar as such. This piece was recorded in Germany, while being on an artist-in-residence, and uses also some sounds from a mountain trip. I am not sure to what extent Whetham uses any electronics or sound treatments, but I suspect there might be some. It seems as if Whetham knows his 'boss', the people behind the label, and understands what is required: get us something atmospherically. It doesn't have to be very quiet, but it can have a bit that is louder (the end bit here), but also half way through it seems that the effects are full on open and mucking about, like a fine stoner rock guitar, but Whetham also knows how to work with near silence and with one long brush stroke he paints it down, down until it almost disappeared, until that climax towards the end. It's here when things get more abstract and move out of the recognizable guitar world. Excellent release: and for now something completely different.
Behind The Sly And Unseen we find Katie English, whom we best know for her work as Isnaj Dui, but also as littlebow and The Doomed Bird Of Providence) and Jonathan Lees, whom I didn't know. They play here shruti box, harmonium, flutes, cello, xylophone and guitar. Following some compilation pieces, this is the first release with just their music. Five pieces, nineteen minutes, with a focus on the use of the harmonium. The only sound source, it seems, in the opening piece, but also the one instrument that carries the other pieces. That makes that these five pieces have a mildly droning backdrop, but on top they wave percussion and flutes or strings, such as 'Grace Is Still A Secret', which has a fine melodic background of reversed recordings. Quite introspective, such as in 'Some Wavering Distant', or playful in 'Perhaps We Don't', which is all acoustic and way too short. I quite enjoyed these five pieces, which were way too short. Too short to be satisfied, but also too short to have a well formed opinion about it. On to the full length, I'd say. (FdW)
Address: http://www.ruralcolours.co.uk

LOS AMARGADOS WITH SUSANNA GARTMAYER (cassette by Unusual Records)
Unusual Records from the Czech Republic releases a beautiful tape. At the first sight the artwork of the tape suggests that the tape will be filled with mariachi music from Mexico. A small booklet with drawings of two mariachi musicians and a skeleton tells a small story about the adventures of this trio. The booklet is sew together, well printed and released with a sealed hot pepper. The tape itself consists of two long improvisations of the duo Los Amargados, side two is filled with an improvisation with Austrian musician Susanna Gartmayer who plays bass clarinet. The duo consists of Petr Vrba and George Cremaschi. They play trumpet, electronics, contrabass and something called 'vibrating speakers.' I think the description vibrating speakers is well chosen, because there are a lot of vibrating tones in their music. They work and live in Prague. Both musicians are very active in the world of improvisation and cooperate with lots of musicians. The untitled tape is filled with 30 minutes of improvisation. The combination the musical experiments of the duo results into a thrilling soundscape. Dark tones created by trumpet, contrabass and effects flow into higher levels of white noise. The music is modest and the duo is slowly searching for the right combination of the several tones. Step by step the music is developing from a closed atmosphere to more open and lightly aggressive and silent moments. Side B starts with almost silent moments alternated by the acoustic sound of the bass clarinet and trumpet. The strength of these improvisations is the repetition of sound and the exploration of each other’s musical possibilities. Most of the time I do not like improvisational music with instruments like trumpet, clarinet or contrabass. Mostly the musicians' show all their skills and techniques are a short moment. But these improvisations are not about technique; it is about creating an interesting soundscape in which technique is tool to reach this. The bass clarinet of Susanna Gartmayer is a recognizable part of the abstract sounds of Los Amargados. This tape is highly recommended for all people who like to discover the combination of dark worlds, noises and refreshing sounds. (JKH)
Address: http://unusualrecords.cz





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