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SYSTEM MORGUE - FEU (CD by Zhelezobeton) *
FANUM/KARNA - SOMETHING ELSE (CD by Zhelezobeton)
RON NAGORCKA - ATOM BOMB BECOMES FOLK ART (2CD by Pogus) *
AMALGAMATED (CD by Aubjects) *
MACHINONE - TOKYO (CD by Flau) *
BIRGIT ULHER & GREGORY BÜTTNER - ARARIPEPIPRA (CD by Hideous Replica) *
ZAVOLOKA - VOLYA (CD by Kvitnu) *
ARTURAS BUMSTEINAS - DIFFERENT TRAINS (CD by Bolt Records) *
SHANE MORRIS & MYSTIFIED - EVOLUTION (CD by Spotted Peccary) *
DARSHAN AMBIENT - SONGS FROM THE DEEP FIELD (CD by Spotted Peccary) *
AQUAVOICE - NOCTURNE (CD by Zoharum) *
PHURPA - MANTRAS OF BON (CD by Zoharum) *
TUNDRA - TAJNIE I GLEBIE (CD by Zoharum) *
SOUND AROUND (CD compilation by Laznia/Zoharum)
FRANCK VIGROUX - CIMENT (LP by DAC Records Label)
MIGUEL ISAZA - UJI (CDR by Eilean Records) *
WORDS (CDR by Vuz Records)
MARK LYKEN AND EMMA DOVE – MIRROR LANDS (CD and DVD by Soft Error)
MARK TAMEA - FIVE AUGMENTED LOCATIONS (CDR by EQ:RA) *
MIGUEL A. GARCIA & JAVIER PEDREIRA - ERRA FAGUS ATRIKULUNKA (CDR by Triple Bath) *
RADICAL DEMOS#4 LIVE/IMPROV, SENSORY ELECTROACOUSTICS, NOISE (3CDR by obs)
JOHN LAKE - SUN WORSHIPERS (CDR by Strefa Szarej Records) *
B.G. - A DISCOURSE ON APPEARANCE (cassette by Under Label)
ARVID GANGA - SARASWATI (cassette, private) *
SYSTEM MORGUE - FEU (CD by Zhelezobeton)
FANUM/KARNA - SOMETHING ELSE (CD by Zhelezobeton)
Odd: I briefly glanced at the cover of the CD by System Morgue, noted the fact that some Peter L played guitar and bass, but I didn't register it well enough, so after a while of playing this and thinking what to write - notes included 'dark', 'drones', 'think Malignant Records' - I returned to the screen to pen that down, and then I saw that guitar and bass reference again. By then I have landed at the final track of this CD, 'Octobre', which is indeed a bit like what you would expect of guitar and bass (and a bit of voice also); a sort of post-punk piece, if you will. In the other four pieces this is not really the case. Here we find long, sustaining, stringed sounds, of ringing and singing guitar sounds captured in a labyrinth (no beginning, no end) of electronics. In 'Moulin Des Etoiles' the bass, coupled with a delay pedal, can be recognized, but here it swings like an endless pendulum of repeating sounds. All of this is obviously dark and melancholic. Ambient and industrial, but also psychedelic; I can imagine a mind-altering state if one is in the right mode, or under the influence of some drugs of some kind. Very nice music altogether but also nothing much news under the drone sun.
The other new release by Zhelezobeton is a split CD by a band from Moscow and one from Rostov-on-Don, and both might be one-person projects. Fanum has released two works of his own, and various in collaboration with Exit In Grey, Kromeshna and Vazhes. It might be that this is the first time I hear his music. Like System Morgue this music is both ambient and industrial. Hard to say what went into the machine, but my best guess would be that this is some heavily treated field recording of some kind. Here these recordings are subject to time stretching, delay module, reverb chambers (cathedrals even), granular synthesis, analogue shaping and whatever else the studio has to offer. You no longer recognize any birds or raindrops, but a stale wind over the tundra is what we are left with. That brings us to the music of Karna, who have eight albums to their name and two collaborations with Melek-tha and Velenhentor. The piece is apparently the final recording for Karna. Here too we are subjected to a vast amount of reverb and delay, and who knows what else that transforms sounds. But somehow it seems less industrial than Fanum, and perhaps also fewer monoliths in approach (maybe vice versa? Less monolith, therefore less industrial?). Karna moves and shifts about, from noise ambience to something more quiet and subdued, and even a bit of rhythm is used here and there. Karna seems to have a bit more variation upon his sleeve, while Fanum knows how to keep the same mood going in slightly varied shapes. Each of these has it's own merits. (FdW)
RON NAGORCKA - ATOM BOMB BECOMES FOLK ART (2CD by Pogus)
Pogus is simply the best in finding composers that are a bit older, but somehow never released a lot of work, for whatever reason. Here for instance it's time for the music of Ron Nagorcka (1948), who studied pipe organ, harpsichord, composition and electronic music. In 1986 he build his own solar-powered studio in Tasmania, where he still lives. The pieces on this double CD span forty years of composing, and show his wide interest. Although first time round I played this in chronological order, first disc one than disc two, the review starts with the second disc. Overall the work of Nagorcka is quite diverse and on this second disc we find the pieces that are more for small ensembles and general could be called 'modern classical music'. It's the area of music where I must admit I don't know much about. 'Artamidae - A Suite Celebrating A Family Of Australian Songbirds', the five-piece suite opening here, is such a composition and didn't do much for me. The two-part 'Just Bluffing For Quamby' is electro-acoustic and sounds better, although also not really that favourite received here; the second piece here was the best. Followed by two pieces for instruments and electronic sounds, but then 'Colluricincla Harmonica', for fretless electric guitar and keyboards is a quite a nice little piece, in alternative tunings, which works quite well, meandering about. The final piece on this second is 'To Be A Pilgrim' and that's the best piece. Also modern classical but with nice touch of ye olde English folk.
The more interesting works we find on the first disc. It opens with the title piece, more or less, 'Atom Bomb', from 1977 but as performed in 2012, for cassette tape recorder, toy instruments and various other devices, which takes up thirty-five minutes and moves from almost singer-songwriter crooning to a more noise driven procedure; sometimes mildly organic and sometimes very loud - not really Merzbow, but still. Then there is the second longest single piece, a pipe organ duet, a more mellow, drone like piece. Modern classical composition we find in 'Modulations' and 'Requiem (In Memoriam Ian Bonighton)', of which the first is a random sort of play and the latter is an introspective piano piece. The final piece on the first disc is more of an improvised piece of music, but one that fits this disc quite well. Two discs that span not only a lot of music in terms of the time it will take you to hear all of this, but also in a wide spectrum of sounds. Not all works well, at least not for me, but Pogus has found another over-looked composer. (FdW)
AMALGAMATED (CD by Aubjects)
Music by the collective Amalgamated has been received well here (see Vital Weekly 842, 857, 881 and 896). So far those were 3"CDRs and cassettes but now they move to doing a real CD. The members are still Cory Bengtsen (Rebekah's Tape on sampler, keyboards, saxophone, turntable), Bob Newell (of Headless Ballerinas Underwater on sampler, keyboards, percussion, drum machine), Mike Richards (also of Rebekah's Tape, but also the man behind Makeshift Music and Intangible Cat on guitars, effects drums, percussion, keyboards and tapes), Phil Klampe (of Homogenized Terrestrials on keyboards and sampler) and D. Petri for editing and mixing. Oddly enough it seems this band is no more, as all of these releases were recorded ages ago. Here we have pieces from 2004 to 2007, recorded on 4-track cassette and 16-track digital. There are no few words that can describe what this band does. It's a bit of everything: techno, ambient house, space rock, krautrock, post rock, jazz, psychedelic, film music and a bit of studio wizzardy. The other day I was playing some old Dif Juz record and still liking that: the post rock like sound, but with some fine grooves, weird sounds and lots of (head-) space. This new release seems less based in the musique concrete techniques but more (even more!) coherent than some of the previous releases. Less exciting? No, just a different kind of excitement. There is a download bonus piece, which is a twenty-minute montage of moods and textures, and which brings out their more experimental side. This makes all this together a very strong album, close to seventy-minutes of pure listening fun. I am still very much in the 'dark' as to what this is all about, the history of this band, the recordings that are released, but I must say I still very much enjoy what they are doing. It's good to make the leap forward and release a CD. Hopefully more to come? (FdW)
MACHINONE - TOKYO (CD by Flau)
Daizo Kato is behind Machione. Six years ago he moved to the west side of Tokyo and that opened a new life for him. I am not sure if he made music before, but 'Tokyo' is his debut as Machinone. His main instrument is the acoustic prepared guitar, with bow and bell, but he also plays banjo, clarinet, stepping organ, wood toys, field recordings, small piano and recordings he made of this part of Tokyo. Not the vibrant big city but lots of birds chirping and throughout evoking the feeling of a desolate place. No doubt many of these recordings were made in a room with the windows wide open. There is a certain sadness in this music, all minor keys it seems, but it comes also with some interesting, experimental twist, which at times reminded me of the work of Flim, maybe due to the various guests adding their sounds to this, such as Takashi Tsuda (Radiosonde), Danny Norbury and Federico Durand. All of this sounds very filmic. Music for films could have been a great title, were it not used before. This is one of those typical albums that only Flau seem to release; their talent lies in spotting these musicians who bring such beauty. Nothing here indicates that Machinone wants to shake up the notion of this kind of small orchestral ambient music - for the lack of a better word - but builds on a rich tradition that this label already has. Maybe some regard that as a pity; it makes - perhaps - artists like this interchangeable, and that is certainly a risk. I am not blind to such things either. However, I was proof reading an article someone send over, and enjoying the late summer weather: what would I complain about such things as originality? (FdW)
BIRGIT ULHER & GREGORY BÜTTNER - ARARIPEPIPRA (CD by Hideous Replica)
The work of Gregory Büttner can be separated into compositions of an electro-acoustic nature (see also elsewhere) and improvisations, mostly with other people. This CD falls into the latter category. There are eight pieces here; four have a different set-up than the other four. On four of these Birgit Ulher uses trumpet, radio, speaker, objects and Büttner plays computer, loudspeakers, objects and fan, while on the other four he plays computer with output to speaker and Ulher trumpet and speaker as mute. I am not sure why they decided to mention it like this, but surely it suggests that these latter four pieces are more minimal, due to their set up. Without looking too much at the cover, I must say it wasn't easy to spot which track was what; in fact, as a game, I tried noting it down and got most of it wrong. So there you go. The music is probably what you can think of if you know their previous work. Lots of silence, lots of interesting treatments on the computer and the trumpet being used as both an instrument and an object, played with other objects, or simply objects used to hold against the horn of the instrument and mute/alter the sound. Ulher is a great player in that field, I think and her interaction with Büttner's computer and isolated speaker sounds works very well. Each of these eight places is a place of its own; each explores its own field and something that is with limited means. The recording is expertly done: room acoustic doesn't seem to play a role of any kind, and all of this is recorded close to the microphone. This gives the music a very nice presence and a beautiful sense of directness. An excellent release. (FdW)
ZAVOLOKA - VOLYA (CD by Kvitnu)
With this summer's events in mind, writing about this CD is not easy. A plane from Malaysia Airlines went down in the Ukraine, with lots of Dutch people on board and since then we are forced to think about this, and more important to take position. Either pro or contra one side or the other can hijack a simple salute to the deceased on Facebook. But what do I know about this 'war'/'revolt'/'uproar'? That's my question. 'You have to inform yourself', you will say, but then easily that can launch into a diatribe on media and whether they are independent, which are of course never independent (that's what the opposition will say; 'Our media is much more independent', so you are wrongly informed). Top that with all the conspiratists, whose expertise on every subject is never official knowledge (and 'hence the truth which your government will prevent you from hearing'), and all that could easily make want to disconnect the internet connection, stop the newspaper subscription, unplug the TV and be happy without having any knowledge. Now, that's perhaps not always possible (or preferable), but by reviewing this new release by Zavoloka, I am forced to think about this summer again. 'Volya' means freedom and the CD is dedicated to Ukraine. 'Inspired by Ukrainian winter revolution, it's blood and fire. Metal rhythms from the riot streets, the sound of burned police cars, gas grenades explosions and the Molotov cocktail symphony'. That may suggest a lot of field recordings from the streets and war zones, and surely it's in these three pieces (lasting sixteen minutes in total), but there is also synthesizers, samplers and drum machines. The metal rhythm of 'Syla' remind me of Test Department - another political/musical outfit of different revolutions - whereas in 'Vilna' it sounds like synthesizers and drum machines. The Pan Sonic styled rhythm, the minimalist droning sine wave sounds are part and parcel of this. 'Slavlennya', the longest piece here, has a nice shimmering melodic touch, maybe a sound of hope? Let's hope so. (FdW)
ARTURAS BUMSTEINAS - DIFFERENT TRAINS (CD by Bolt Records)
What is this? Arturas Bumsteinas, a composer in his own right, doing a cover of Steve Reich's piece of the same name? Not really. These different trains run from Warsaw to St. Petersburg, a connection between east and west, and that's what the first piece is about, which is called 'Wielka Improwizacja', a radiophonic piece with texts by Adam Mickiewicz and Miron Bialoszewski. The first was imprisoned in the 19th century in a monastery and here Bumsteinas made recordings for this piece. Lots of text reading, church organ sounds and field recordings are used in this one and it's not always easy to follow - as I don't speak Polish or Russian (if these are the languages used). This piece has a very modern classical feel to it and works quite well; even when I hardly 'understand' this at all. More church organs we find in 'Acceptnik' and 'Pinavija', along with field recordings and violin in the latter piece. These pieces have no text and might be easier to enjoy as pieces of music, without knowing anything about the background. One is about recordings in Christian churches and the other uses a 78rpm record of the Hebrew Sabbath prayer Jehi Rozon, so all of these pieces may or may not deal with some kind of religion. I prefer these pieces to the first, as I thought that wasn't easy to understood, as the listener remained on the outside if you don't speak the languages; maybe it's also because I prefer more musical pieces, and less text based pieces? The pastoral minimal of 'Pinavija', with its repeating organ theme, violin, bird sounds and dulcimer sounded the best: simple and elegant and at eighteen minutes perhaps a bit long, but this is one of those pieces that can handle this. Almost psychedelic music! Very nice release, altogether. (FdW)
SHANE MORRIS & MYSTIFIED - EVOLUTION (CD by Spotted Peccary)
DARSHAN AMBIENT - SONGS FROM THE DEEP FIELD (CD by Spotted Peccary)
The previous collaboration between Thomas Park, also known as Mystified and Shane Morris was reviewed in Vital Weekly 887. Now they offer their third and final collaboration, as part of a trilogy 'Inspired Evolution' (see also Vital weekly 830). Morris is the man of synthesizers, percussion and lots of heavily treated acoustic sounds, while Park is a man of woodwinds and electronics. There is no specific list of instruments this time as to who does what here. It's an album of music, and you know what's coming. That is perhaps a bit of a downside to it (or even a spoiler to the review). Long washes of synthesized drones and sampled percussion music on top, a bit of a tribal force. With each of the five pieces going over eleven minutes, each of these pieces get a sufficient amount of time to develop, even when opening piece 'Fire Gathering' has a quick fade at the end, making it a bit odd. It is spacious music for sure, and not always mild and breezy; this is still a far cry from the world of new age - thank heaven for that. 'Hunting In The Hills' with it's low flying drone and processed wind instrument (didgeridoo?) would be way off the mark in your rainbow shop, but closing piece 'The Trails Of Evolved Man', I can surely envisage at a chill out party. It makes that this release is actually quite varied in what it offers; nothing much new under the sun, but various insights in the world of ambient, cosmic music and a bit of techno. Very entertaining all together.
Michael Allison returns with a new work as Darshan Ambient. I wasn't too pleased with his previous work (see Vital Weekly 906), which I thought was all a bit too smooth. Here's another eleven pieces of very smooth electronic music, very spacious once again. He blends traditional instruments, such as strings (then opening of 'Heaven In A Wildflower') with lots of synthesizers, guitars, sequencers and all such like to create lush ambient music. Itunes opens this and tags it 'new age'. Maybe it's the fact that I keep seeing this, which distract me, but a piece like 'You Will Never Be Alone' is just way too much for me. Too sweet, too sugary. Darshan Ambient is a highly accomplished musician, that is for sure, but it's not for me. Like before some more spice wouldn't hurt. I can imagine, however, a more experimental edge to this work would scare a few people off. That is something he may not want to do. I pass on this one. (FdW)
AQUAVOICE - NOCTURNE (CD by Zoharum)
PHURPA - MANTRAS OF BON (CD by Zoharum)
TUNDRA - TAJNIE I GLEBIE (CD by Zoharum)
SOUND AROUND (CD compilation by Laznia/Zoharum)
Things in Poland seem to be booming, for quite some time actually. Monotype is a very active label, when it comes to releases, and Zoharum follows neatly. Zoharum is a label that specializes in anything that is dark and atmospheric, but not without beats. We start this particular journey with the second release by Aquavoice, the musical project of Tadeusz Luczejko, whose debut was reviewed in Vital Weekly 896. Here Aquavoice further explores the boundaries of starry nights, of nocturnal soundtracks, with dreamy synthesizer sounds, mild sequenced rhythm - more ticking than beating - an occasional voice well placed here and there. Exactly the same references as last time pass by: S.E.T.I., Biosphere, Pete Namlook and no doubt you could add many others from the field of ambient music that comes with a bit of rhythm. I don't think Aquavoice had a re-thought of what he was doing after 'Grey', but simply decided to carry on what he was doing so well already. Maybe the addition of 'real' instruments - piano, violin - is something that is new around here? Maybe not. So, perhaps nothing much new, and then what? There is nothing wrong with that. Luczejko simply explores further what he does best, what is in a tradition from Eno, via ambient house, to microsound and he delivers another fifty minutes of some excellent music. I very much enjoyed this nocturnal, cosmic ride.
It's been a while since I last heard Phurpa, the musical project of Alexey Tegin, but Phurpa is a real band, who play ritual music inspired by that from Egypt, Iran, Tibet and use instruments from the latter culture. On this new release, they have five pieces, three of which are live recordings, as Phurpa plays around frequently. In the first two pieces Alissa Nicolai is the guest singer. She wails and screams about and makes that Phurpa sounds different than before. More Diamanda Galas I thought. Phurpa seems to be adding a set of curious sounds that come across like a stale wind over a vast empty plain. In the other three pieces the more traditional Phurpa sound is present. Much overtone singing as well as throat singing in 'Mu-Ye', the final live piece, as well as in 'Kuntunzangpo'. In both no other instruments seem to be present, but in 'Mi Dub' there is also some percussion. The music is very intense, but for me lacks the immediate presence of the musicians. I can imagine a situation in which this would fit perfectly - dimly lit, incense, dark, and musicians surrounding the audience, cavernous space - and such circumstances one simply doesn't have at home. That is something I regret when listening to this. It makes this music more difficult to get in to, I think. I especially liked the three Phurpa pieces at the end, for all their sparse intensity and perhaps less the two with Nicolai, which seemed a bit forced.
'Mysteries And Depth', is what the title translates of the Tundra release. This is a duo from Gdansk of Krysiek Joczyn (flutes, bells, rattles, harmonica, cymbals) and Dawid Adrjanczyk (drones, loops, tapes, acoustic guitar, sound manipulation). This is their first full-length album. Zoharum describes this group as an 'electroacoustic' project. There are points in this which you could compare Tundra with Aquavoice, but whereas the latter is more 'smooth' and nice, Tundra has ambient music with sharper edges. The effect here is, perhaps, not to please, but to investigate what sound can be about, what it can do - and yes, that includes pleasing - and these five compositions are excellent excursions into whatever crossroad would bring you to 'ambient', a bit of industrial and 'musique concrete', while all of these is held together by the ever sustaining drone. 'Drone', with the big 'D', is served in the long and chilling 'Powrit Cz 2', the final and longest piece on this release. It's not always a very surprising release, this one, and occasionally a bit rough in both recording and mixing - whether or not that is intentional I don't know; While not being entirely original, I must say I quite enjoyed this release; I am not sure if it is something I would easily remember in a few years time.
"Sound Around project proposes a series of residencies for sound artists and organization of three experimental music festivals in Kaliningrad, Klaipeda and Gdansk curated by Lukasz Szalankiewicz" it says on the press info and that sounds like these projects are still to happen. But from the cover I gather they already happened. In both the Kaliningrad and Gdansk recordings people play together, whereas Klaipeda features solo pieces, all around two minutes. I skipped the jazzy opening after a while and listened to the rest. I name checked Dat Rayon, Yiorgis Sakellariou, Arturas Bumsteinas, but perhaps not many of the others. I listened to this with interest, didn't discover that great new artist and wondered who is the target audience for such a compilation. Maybe you like to discover a whole bunch of artists from Poland, Russia and/or Lithuania? This is your chance! (FdW)
FRANCK VIGROUX - CIMENT (LP by DAC Records Label)
A man to surprise the listener: that's Franck Vigroux. In some of his recent works he used synthesizer and drum sounds that weren't too far away from the world of Pan Sonic, but on this new LP he decided to play just guitar, topped with a bunch of effects. Unlike Arvind Ganga, reviewed elsewhere and just heard today also, Vigroux's guitar playing may be improvised too, but here Vigroux stays within the realms of a song. Five pieces per side and with the guitar sound not too different, you could suspect Vigroux of playing the blues, as in a way that's what he does. Now, I don't expect this record to go down well with the blues posse, but the desolated, singled out tones and lots of space between them. That's what he does, and his sound is kinda 'big', as opposed to small and intimate. Vigroux creates a vast amount of space with his music and he does that quite well. One could argue there isn't much variation in these pieces, that they are too similar; I argue that Vigroux plays around with such notions and that, perhaps, they are variations on a theme. This is all quite moody and introspective; dark perhaps, like the black and white images on the cover suggests; desolate place at night on the backside of the record: streetlights, empty parking lot. I very much enjoyed the consistency of this record, the desolate atmospheres it evokes, the improvised character of the pieces, which nevertheless sound very coherent and listenable. A great step sideways for Vigroux? Perhaps he returns to his roots as an improviser! An excellent record. (FdW)
MIGUEL ISAZA - UJI (CDR by Eilean Records)
Very recently we discovered the music of the Colombian musician Miguel Isaza (Vital Weekly 941 and 942), working both under his given name and various aliases, even when the differences didn't seem to be that big. Those releases were on his own label, Eter Lab but perhaps this served as a calling card to get his music out more and now he's released on the French Eilean Records. The seven pieces presented here continue the line of his previous work, which means there is a vast amount of field recordings to be spotted here, all of which are heavily treated with the use of electronics, no doubt to be found inside a computer. Earlier I compared this to the work of Richard Chartier, the composer, and much of what you find on Chartier's label, Line, although perhaps Isaza's work is a tad bit louder and to an extent less abstract. Some of the field recordings sounds as untreated and are mixed in with the hybrid versions thereof. Sometimes there is a bell like sound, a bit of stringed instrument playing, all of this gently merging together. I find it hard to say if this is better than the previous releases; I think it is. The development, career-wise, is yet quite small, but significant. The tracks works quite well, are pleasant to hear and sound quite coherent, also as an album as a whole. Onwards to the next, I'd say. (FdW)
WORDS (CDR by Vuz Records)
Words is a conceptual album and is based on various quotes which have a impact or a particular meaning to Jochen Bettgens. He is a member of <dE/mute> and is active in sound construction and composition since the eighties. The CD is a collaboration with several sound-artists. Warszawa is a side project of k. Holewcynski and the track “Walking/Falling” is based on a quote of Laurie Anderson. The dance music has been influenced nu old-school electro music and EBM. Great track and a beautiful open start of this compilation. The third track is an atmospheric track by Pontius Plate and based on the words “See, a man” The on-going pulsing soundwaves and the edited scream of a man makes this track to a freighting piece of music. Marion Urbach was singer of Pilori. After a break of 5 years she is back with two solo projects. The track Söylemek” is a nice combination of Idian percussion, classical music and the beautiful voice of Marion Urbach herself. The track is just a beautiful song with several ethnic influences. N.fra started more than 40 years ago with tape-manipulations. The track WW1 is like a sound-collage about war. A nice mix of shooting sounds, destroyed noise, like The Haters in their early years, dark sound manipulations and a sweet lullaby is a musical statement against war. “I will show you fear” is inspired by the poem The Waste Land of T.S. Elliot. The melancholic track composed and played by Tim Berghoff,
“One day I will find…” by Psychepoppet is an atmospheric piece of music with an high ambient sphere created by field-recordings and synthesizers. Psychepoppet is based in Washington DC – USA and slowly the rhythms fade the ambient atmosphere away and the music devolps to a more intense piece of music. Some CD-R’s have an extra non-mentioned track, which is a beautiful open composition with nice rhythms and synth sounds. You just lay back and let yourself flow into this untitled track created by ??? (JKH)
MARK LYKEN AND EMMA DOVE – MIRROR LANDS (CD and DVD by Soft Error)
Black Isle is a peninsula in the Highlands of East Scotland. Not long ago everyone knows each other that were living at the peninsula, but nowadays there are more people from outside Black Isle are living in the small towns or villages. Also visitors are coming to watch the dolphins in the sea. The artists Mark Lyken and Emma Dove created a documentary of inhabitants of the island. The movie consists of long takes of the island, the sea, fishing boats, the sky etc. etc. Nobody has been seen, only the voices some inhabitants can be heard, who talk about the beauty of nature, the dolphins, the social contacts, the change of structure of life and about fishing. The movie-images are well composed and the tempo is slowly. The music and field-recordings are such as important as the images and both strengthen each other. The soundtrack of the movie Mirror Lands is like a movie without any images. The diversity of field-recordings, piano compositions and electro-acoustic tracks take the listener to a quiet and melancholic world. The songs, which are recorded on the island, are intimate and personal and gives the CD a deeper layer by this personal touch. The CD starts with the sounds of a ferry or another boat and the trip has started. The structure of the CD is well-chosen and the “real” world of the island combines with the musical interpretations of the atmosphere of the island and the stories of its inhabitants. The CD and DVD are released by Soft Error. This art label from Glasgow has started this year and this release is really a hopeful start. (JKH)
MARK TAMEA - FIVE AUGMENTED LOCATIONS (CDR by EQ:RA)
In a very well designed and printed digipack we find here a limited to 25 copies release of local man Mark Tamea (not local born, but hailing from London all the way to sunny Nijmegen). A man for your finer computer treatments of instruments and field recordings, albeit the latter to a minor extent. As always I am very much interested in his next work. These five new pieces were originally not intended for an album, but the fact they are all based on field recordings give these a connection. In his previous work he used quite a bit of 'real' instruments, sampled and processed, but that only seems to be the case here with 'Improvisation VII'; the other use field recordings to a smaller or larger extent, and sometimes these recordings are heavily processed and sometimes hardly at all. Tamea says that all five pieces were done rather quickly and on the spot, with overdubs played on the spot, accepted or rejected when needed. These five pieces mark, it seems, a bit of break with his previous work, but it also seems of a similar high quality. I think they are great pieces, evocative, soundtrack like, very much in the spirit of musique concrete, with all of these bigger and smaller processes going on. Seagulls come along with beeps and bops, a church bell is stretched out, mildly and then there is a cave which has a great hollow sound, streaming water and some of that lovely melted into a lovely drone, such as in 'Tower Ch-I & Friends'. That sounds lovely and down to earth, while perhaps at the same time also a bit heavenly. Much of this seems relatively easy made, but the beauty lies in simplicity, I guess. It even has piece from a local church and last week I realized I might have never been inside this church, which is dead centre in Nijmegen. Odd indeed. Now, encountering the silence of that church with some metallic sounds I realize I should be going inside. Great release, once again. Different than his previous releases, but beautiful. (FdW)
MIGUEL A. GARCIA & JAVIER PEDREIRA - ERRA FAGUS ATRIKULUNKA (CDR by Triple Bath)
RADICAL DEMOS#4 LIVE/IMPROV, SENSORY ELECTROACOUSTICS, NOISE (3CDR by obs)
Two releases with Miguel A. Garcia in a bigger or smaller role. First there is a duet of himself on electronics and one Javier Pedreira on guitar. They locked themselves into a studio and recorded a bunch of tunes, seven released on this disc, mixed by Pedreira. Although I am not entirely sure, it seems to me that it is two people playing together, each doing their own bit, rather then the guy with the electronics processing whatever it is that the guitar player does. It's quite a noisy collaboration, with lots of hiss and crackles on the high end and deep bass rumble at the bottom, while the guitar holds the middle ground. Pedreira plays the strings with objects and devices and in general doesn't strum any chords. More table-top than hand held it seems. These seven pieces are top heavy under the weight of the electronics. It's an interesting release, even to be qualified as 'good', but somehow it also seems to hold no real firm surprises. Both Garcia and Pedreira know what they are doing and they do it well.
The other release raises a few questions. In the package we find three CDRs, by three different projects/persons, which is called 'Radical Demos #4: live/improv, sensory, electroacoustics, noise', so are they demo's as in 'not yet fully realized works'? And why are these three locked together? The first CDR has a piece by Malasana with is Antez (percussion), Garcia (electronics), Mathieu Calleja (percussion), Artur Vidal (sax). The piece is all improvised in an area of Madrid called Malasana, a place for 'night-time unrest and counter-culture disobedience'. Recorded in a room, obviously, by picking up whatever is going on it that room, not that obvious, but the room atmosphere plays a role on this piece. The four players scrape the surface, metal percussion, the saxophone adds a wailing feedback like sound, but there is also lots of room for silence and only towards the end things up pick to head for noise land. Quite an interesting improvisational work here. Full of tension and dramatic build up.
The next CDR is more music by Gregory Büttner (see also elsewhere), who has five pieces of recordings he made with playing a cactus. These recordings were then treated with computer techniques and that's what we have here. This is something entirely different than the Malasana piece. Büttner operates within the field of microsound, and as such you can place him along the lines of Roel Meelkop or Marc Behrens. Sturdy investigations into the possibilities one sound source have to offer and create a varied set of compositions with that. The slightly high-pitched sound of the cactus is of course very much present here, along with time stretching and other forms of granular synthesis. Five excellent compositions and in no way I was thinking this sounded like a demo.
A minute shorter is the release by Myxini, who has five pieces recorded in 2012 in Bilbao. I have no idea who this is, not anything else. Judging by these pieces of music I think Myxini plays guitar and electronics; maybe it's actually guitar plus objects? He does that in a rather minimal way, with few changes per piece and throughout few changes in approach. Line buzz seems to be a part of his music. It seems, in the end, five variations on the same theme. Now that's a demo. And one I would seriously doubt needs a release. (FdW)
JOHN LAKE - SUN WORSHIPERS (CDR by Strefa Szarej Records)
In order to score a bit of extra information I went to the label's Bandcamp page to see if there was anything there and found this: "John Lake /Janek Jezioro/ - romantic electronic music for a rainy days, sad, deepness mental disharmony, deppresive times [.] when I cry deep and heavy rain drops coming down...or something completely different". The various tags for this say this is "alternative, beat, electronica, kaoss pad, no laptop, synth". Pictures on Facebook confirm this as an artist who plays around with a bunch of kaoss pads to create his music. The four pieces on this album/extended play confirm this kaoss pad/beat music. It's not always easy to form a good beat as John Lake proofs here, but in 'Catcher In The Rye' he produces a very decent beat but in the piece following that, 'When You Come Out Of The Forest To The Beach', he simply seems to repeat the same beat. These four pieces have a grainy texture, which is inherent to the sound of the kaoss pad, and sound a bit like Pan Sonic or releases by the Kvitnu label. I thought it was not bad, but also I thought four songs was enough. (FdW)
B.G. - A DISCOURSE ON APPEARANCE (cassette by Under Label)
Behind B.G. is one Giel Bils, I assume from Belgium. There are titles mentioned for the pieces and that Giel Bils did the sounds, artwork and photographs, but that's about it. No mention as to what kind of instruments, field recordings or such like, so we have to guess and that is not an easy task. Erosion is a word that sprang to mind here. Erosion of magnetic tapes that is. Whatever sound information was captured on these tapes is no longer of any relevance, as it's about to disappear. This is the moment when B.G. switches his machines to 'record' and tapes whatever is left. Maybe he adds along in this process something of electronics, which is very well possible; but you never know: it might as well be not the case. It all sounds very moody and dark, lots of low-end frequencies ranging to mid-frequency, and hardly anything above that, it seems. That's makes all of this very quiet music, sombre in tone and oh so lovely. Perhaps one could be reminded of the work of William Basinski, but B.G. is all is a bit rougher, more primitive and bit more single-minded in his treatments. They work very well on an early grey autumn evening. (FdW)
ARVID GANGA - SARASWATI (cassette, private)
Guitar player Arvind Ganga hails from The Hague, The Netherlands and his tape is in mono - at least when I downloaded it - for free - the files turned out to be in mono. His guitar is played in an improvised manner, with sometimes objects and sometimes an effect. This is not easy improvised music, but in all its acoustic approach, quite a noisy one; or actually 'raw' is a better word. Arvind Ganga plays sometimes with the energy of a punk rock musician, such as in 'Cut Too Deep' with its reverse effects going round, but also when it's a bit more introspective, such as the opening of 'It's Not Real' or 'Free Fall' he maintains something that is haunted and strange. This is certainly not easy listening music of any kind, but raw and untamed power stuff. I wonder what the guitar looked like after this was recorded? For those seeking out the more adventurous, noisy bits from the world of improvisation. Ask him for your fast energy jam session! (FdW)