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BIOSPHERE/DEATHPROD - STATOR (CD by Touch)
CASS. - MAGICAK MAGICAL (CD by Home Normal) *
FIFTO - WITH MIUR (CD by Home Normal) *
JUXTA PHONA - WE WILL NOT BE SILENCE (CD by Home Normal) *
CHESTER HAWKINS - APOSTASY SUITE (CD by Intangible Arts) *
WILHELM BRAS - VISIONAIRES & VAGABONDS (CD by Mik Musik) *
RED PAINTED RED – HEY DUM DUM (CD by Wrotycz)
RYDBERG (CD by Monotype records) *
ALFREDO COSTA MONTEIRO - UM EM UM (CD by Monotype Records) *
MICHEL BANABILA & OENE VAN GEEL - MUSIC FOR VIOLA AND ELECTRONICS II (CD by Tapu Records) *
VARIOUS ARTISTS – LIVE AT THE JOLT FESTIVAL BASEL (CD and record by A Tree in the Field Records)
VA AA LR - POLIS (CD by Intonema) *
VA AA LR - PING CONE (cassette by Mantile)
VENISON WHIRLED - TETRAGRAMMATONES (CDR by Eh?) *
GARY ROUZER - STUDIES AND OBSERVATIONS OF DOMESTIC SHRUBBERY (CDR by Eh?) *
BURKHARD BEINS & JOHN BUTCHER & MARK WASTELL - MEMBRANE (CDR by Confront Recordings) *
ANTONY MAUBERT - PANORAMA SO2 (CDR by Luscinia Discos) *
SURFACE HOAR - THE INVISIBLE PATH TO THE SHORE (CDR by Roll Noise) *
DIE NEUEN IBM - HERZKREISNEGATIV (cassette by Midnight Circles) *
AARON YABROV - FROM ABOVE AND BELOW (cassette by Midnight Circles) *
JAMES EDMONDS - A MEDITATION, A FILM, A FORTUNE (cassette by Midnight Circles) *
THAUMATURGIST - DER WECHSEL (cassette by Barreuh Records)
SKYMME - HUONE (cassette by Barreuh Records)
BIOSPHERE/DEATHPROD - STATOR (CD by Touch)
If the header to a review has a '/' it defines the release a split release by two artists. Such is the case with this new release of Geir Jenssen's Biosphere and Helge Sten, also known as Deathprod. The cover says commissioned by Tape To Zero, but nothing else; so I am not sure if was part of an installation, concert, film, radio or any such thing. The CD open with Biosphere, then Deathprod, then again Biosphere, twoce Deathprod, Biosphere and closing is Deathprod again. 'Stator' is a term that comes from both electrical engineering ("the stationary part of a rotary machine or device, esp. of a motor or generator) as well as aeronautics ("a system of nonrotating radially arranged parts within a rotating assembly, esp. the fixed blades of an axial flow compressor in a gas turbine"), and both of these descriptions may tell us something about the nature of the music. Despite the ambient ring that these seven pieces have it also has something that is vaguely mechanical or even industrial. The hum of motors versus the repeating sounds of some device or another in rotation. Biosphere uses his eerie sounds to paint quite an ambient landscape, but places on top very minimalist rhythmic patterns, which work best in 'Space Is Fizzy'; indeed like a rotating device, maybe like a fan with a piece of cardboard flapping around. Deathprod stays closer to his ambient home with more stretched out atmospheric buzzing sound - the empty industrial wasteland in post nuclear scenery. You could all too easily think there is some algorhythm in play here, stretching out some sounds, but he uses 'home made electronics, old tape echo machines, ring modulators, filters, Theremins, samplers and lots of electronic stuff'; a list, which reads like a recipy for a bunch of noise, but it's beautifully sparse music. With Biosphere being a bit of 'ambient plus a bit of rhythm' it's Deathprod 'pure ambient' approach. Coming to you, alternating one by one, it makes up an interestingly varied release. Perhaps not of the kind you have never heard before, but however with the consistent high quality we know Jenssen and Sten for. (FdW)
CASS. - MAGICAK MAGICAL (CD by Home Normal)
FIFTO - WITH MIUR (CD by Home Normal)
JUXTA PHONA - WE WILL NOT BE SILENCE (CD by Home Normal)
Home Normal presents us here with a trio of new release. The first one is by Niklas Rehme-Schlüter from Osnabrück, Germany who works as Cass. - that is including the . at the end. He came to Home Normal by recommendation of the Belgium label Dauw and so far Cass. only released cassettes and vinyl but this is first proper CD release. Despite his young age (24!) he has worked with Altars Altars, Miriam Jolene, Emily Cross, Emil Hewitt and Moritz Leppers (none of which are names I heard before). Some of these people are on this CD, mainly in the vocal department, but also when it comes instruments and production. Cass. uses a lot of instruments here, piano, string instruments, vocals, but also electronics of whatever and creates some highly textured music with it. Sometimes like an angelic choir (in 'Girl Interlude'), modern classical in 'Love Lockdown', which it's soaring cello and tinkling bells, or just spacious in 'Lili's Aftermath' or in 'Murph's Dream'. In 'Lantern' we have the most we get vocal-wise, in a nice soaring tone. 'Atlon' has a nice horn section; you see there is a lot of variety here. It's a great CD, very intimate, well produced and there is just one down side: it's way too short at thirty-two minutes. I wouldn't have minded this to be forty-five - the classic LP length. I'd be curious to hear some of his other music.
A Home Normal discovery, one could say, is Keigo Igarashi, from Hokkaido, the Northern island of Japan, where we also find somebody like Ryo Nakata, also known as Ryonkt/Rion. Working as fifto, Igarashi is not part of any scene, but goes about in his own way. That was all in 2009 and that's also the year the recordings were made for the album 'With Miur'. Unlike the release by Cass. the music by Fifto is all about using computers, plug ins and such electronic matter. It moves in various directions, from ambient and drones (in 'Revera') to a poppy melody in 'This Curved', in which there is also a bit of vocals. Sometimes it is all together a bit more abstract and alien but usually Fifto keeps a keen eye towards the actual composition. I wouldn't be surprised to know that 'pop music' is a strong interest of his. Small melodies, rhythm, a bass line: it is always seems to be present in this music and no matter how chopped up it is, it always seems to go back to the word 'pop music'. It's sensitive music, and despite the use of 'just' bits and bytes, this has excellent warmth to it. Not spectacular new, I'd say, but Fifto does indeed some interesting moves. Why this was recorded in 2009 and only released now is beyond me.
And finally a release by Jason Corder, who once went by the name Offthesky, but now also as Color Cassette and Juxta Phona. Each new incarnation has a distinct sound of it's own. I am not sure if that's true as I never heard Color Cassette, but surely there are many differences between Juxta Phona and Offthesky. Whereas the latter project is all about music that is dark/moody/atmospheric, here in Juxta Phona - even when it's the first time I hear of it - it's all about a different kind of mood. First of all is Juxta Phona a project in which Corder works with other people such as Morgan Packard (saxophone), Pillow Garden (vocals), hand drums (brian archinal) and misc. sounds by Gurun Gurn and Ian Hawgood. The biggest surprise, perhaps, is the extended use of rhythm here. It brings his music to an altogether new level, and one that easily defies any classification. Surely this is atmospheric music, but also melodic and open with the rhythms used making much of this also a touch on the psychedelic side, with soundscapes meandering about. It's very rich music, in which a lot happens, and most of the time it seems not very much related and rubbing alongside of each other, but because some of these pieces take quite some time developing, it all starts to make sense. That's perhaps the psychedelic edge of Juxta Phona? It's atmospheric and psychedelic but at the same time it's also quite open and joyous, in an odd way. Corder must have had a lot of fun creating the music on this release and that's something one hears quite well here. Spacious music as in 'big' and 'open'. Excellent release, beautiful package too. (FdW)
CHESTER HAWKINS - APOSTASY SUITE (CD by Intangible Arts)
Who? You may ask, but if you have paid enough attention to these pages you'd probably know that Hawkins once called himself Blue Sausage Infant and that he has been active since 1985. That old name is no longer in use, and he prefers to go by his own name now. Centrepiece of his set-up is his modular synth, but according to the cover he also plays mobile phone, prepared vinyl, oscillators, keyboards, sequencers, video glitch and perhaps even less ordinary 'antihistamines', whatever the sound of that may be. Despite the change of name there is no change of attitude towards composing music the way he does. Which actually might not be composing in the strictest sense of the word (or what I romantically believe it could be): sitting down and thinking about a piece, preparing it and executing the piece. Hawkins on the other hand switches on his machines, his tools, his equipment, or whatever kind of phrase he uses and then starts playing around with it. Obviously this has a firm amount of control, and Hawkins knows what he is doing; surely before he starts his journey, I assume he has an idea of the shape and colour of his piece, and executes it accordingly. Hawkins plaints vast spaces, dense spaces too, with not a lot of air between them. Maybe this is the truest post-industrial music. That of empty, abandoned spaces, with flickering lights, beeping traffic lights, and such like. Dark, moody, hell, even drone like, but it's not 'empty'. There is always something going on, somewhere. Hawkins' music is quite psychedelic, I'd say, going right into your brain and forming new images - like those hippie colour slides, but then everything is black/white/grey here. Organic, dark ambient, ambient industrial, and even a bit of cosmos towards the end of 'Equinox'. Hawkins is not shy of using rhythm, but in a very much stripped down version. This is a long journey, seventy-two minutes, but it keeps drifting and flowing, so there is not a single moment of boredom around here. (FdW)
WILHELM BRAS - VISIONAIRES & VAGABONDS (CD by Mik Musik)
Pawel Kulczynski sometimes works under his own name, and sometimes as Lautbild, and sometimes as Wilhelm Bras. It's not a case of schizophrenia - I hope - but rather of varied interested towards the creation of electronic music. Only when working under his name he seems to be taking a somewhat more abstract route, but as Laubild and Wilhelm Bras, things stay close together. As Bras he works with analogue synthesizers he built himself (but perhaps also as Lautbild, I was thinking) and he already released 'Wordless Songs By The Electric Fire' (Vital Weekly 878) on the same label that now releases 'Visionaries & Vagabonds', which is fits whatever we have heard before from him. There is crude element in this music, both in the way he uses rhythm but also the synthesizers are in a much cruder form than you find on more smooth techno records. This is not music that will easily mixed in with your average deep house set, but in the darker corners of the electro world, I could think music like this could go down very well. Maybe 'dancing' is not really an objective for Wilhelm Bras? Some of these pieces have a fine madcap dance about it, which made me think it's probably not easy to dance too. Some of these pieces struck me as a bit long, purely in terms of sitting down and listening to it actually and without proper chemicals of any kind, but I can surely imagine that when those are in play that is no longer a valid point of criticism. (FdW)
RED PAINTED RED – HEY DUM DUM (CD by Wrotycz)
Listening to this album did something interesting to me: I was sucked into a dark vortex and transported back to the mid to late 80s, to Chris and Cosey to be more precisely. Created by Yew and Simon Carroll from Manchester, who used to play in a band called Mantra, I am amazed how much this Red Painted Red album reminds me of (or perhaps even sounds like) Chris and Cosey. And to be even more specific to Cosey’s solo cassette 'Time To Tell'. Yew’s breathy spoken word over Simon’s (?) restrained electronic ambient landscape just breathes how great those Chris and Cosey records, like Trance or Songs Of Love And Lust, really were. There is no doubt 'Hey Dum Dum' is intended as a serious project, but Yew’s semi-spoken poetry feels overwrought and uncomfortable, at times bordering on clichés, which is a shame. Plus, unlike Cosey on 'Time To Tell', it seems Yew has no substantial content to convey. The PR blurb provided by the label is perhaps illustrative of the words on the album… I quote “Exploring the fragility of the human condition and purpose, conveyed through an original and arcane sound palette” and, even better, “Dark and raging, they command, torment and oppress”. Let it be clear that this album is none of this. If only. 'Hey Dum Dum', and I quite like that title and the cat on the cover, is a stream of semi-spoken thoughts on top of layers of electronic music. It’s been done before. But then again you don’t have to be original to be great – we all know examples of that. Plus, maybe you, the reader of Vital Weekly, does not know or care about Chris and Cosey. Why not buy the 'Hey Dum Dum' album, thus support a new band and their label and enjoy what is basically a nice enough listen? Or listen to some Chris and Cosey albums and discover old music anew. Or, even better, do both. (FK)
RYDBERG (CD by Monotype records)
ALFREDO COSTA MONTEIRO - UM EM UM (CD by Monotype Records)
Monotype Records, who always has a special love for the more odd forms of improvisation, releases two new records. These new releases show these odd forms quite well. Behind Rydberg we find Werner Dafeldecker on function generator and electronics and Nicholas Bussmann on sampler and electronics. I am not sure if I heard of Bussmann before, but Dafeldecker is a household name in the world of improvised music for his work with guitar and bass. This work was recorded in Berlin and consists of three pieces. This is something new for Dafeldecker, or so it seems to me, and something that works very well. The music is electronic throughout, and evolves from 'atmospheric' in the long opening piece 'Elevator' towards 'dance music' in 'And The Science'. But even in 'Elevator', which lasts close to twenty minutes, the element of rhythm sips in and even when very slow and a bit spooky, it builds and builds. This however has very little to do with 'dance' rhythms. In 'Gardening', the middle piece, this becomes more apparent, even when it is a bit of bumpy rhythm. Towards the end there is an off sample of a wind instrument, pushed towards the back. Maybe a bit cynical, but I thought 'oh that's how older gentlemen perceive dance music', but then the final piece came in and that was actually a great piece of minimalist rhythmic music, which one could say has the bearings of minimal techno. A bit on the slow side, but I believe that's hip again (or maybe not, what do I know about being hip), but it's something that works pretty well. They haven't forgotten their more experimental background in this piece, and those electronics are nicely brewing away in the background, humming like small melodies. Loud enough to be present and throughout pleasantly disturbing, without interfering with the beats itself. Great CD!
Perhaps a more traditional form of improvisation is to be found on the release by Alfredo Costa Monteiro, the accordion player. In recent times an accordion player lives downstairs, so at one point I am quite fed up with the music he produces (especially when he taps his feet to keep the rhythm), but Monteiro's music is something different altogether. He plays the accordion and objects, and perhaps one could also say he plays the 'accordion with objects' and also there is some sort of amplification in place. Whatever is the case really? Overtones are something that Monteiro uses a lot actually. Everything rings and sings here; sometimes it seems to come from rubbing objects onto a surface, such as the accordion, but also when he plays the instrument itself (the mechanics, the keys, the air of the instrument) Monteiro goes for long, sustaining sounds. He easily manages to this for quite some time, but there is a constant shift in this music, changing and bowing around. It's well beyond twenty minutes when Monteiro approaches more regular playing and starts playing the accordion in a more improvised manner - as in 'quick'. He ends on a more contemplative note. In the course of these thirty-three minutes Monteiro took the listener on an excellent trip, going from beautiful overtone/feedback to sparse music to improvised heaviness and a moody ending. Beautiful recording from November last year! (FdW)
MICHEL BANABILA & OENE VAN GEEL - MUSIC FOR VIOLA AND ELECTRONICS II (CD by Tapu Records)
It seems like a few weeks ago that I reviewed 'Music For Viola And Electronics' by Michel Banabila and Oene van Geel, but it was actually some time ago; Vital Weekly 950 to be precise. In the last six months they worked on new music, again using their set-up of electronics, which is for Banabila a doepfer A-100 analog modular system, radio, logic pro and keyboards (the latter on all tracks) and Van Geel plays viola and string violin. Unlike before they are now receiving help from other players: Keimpe de Jong on contrabass clarinet (track), Joost kroon on drums & metals (track 3), Radboud Mens on ableton programming (track 5) and Emile Visser on cello and Eric Vloeimans on trumpet (both on track 2, 3 and 5). Both Banabila and Van Geel worked with this people before in other projects as such is the nature of especially Banabila: always on the lookout for a new partner to further enrich his musical world. I was highly surprised by their release, and obviously the second release is not the similar surprise (it could be, of course, but it just isn't) but it further explores the nature of violin playing and electronics. Sometimes very sparsely, and I already mentioned Arvo Part the last time, and here too his influence is present, such as in 'Radio Spelonk', but there is also very hectic and chaotic moves such as in 'Chaos'. This pieces comes close to the world of free jazz, with some wild electronics too and a fine orchestral ending. In the longest piece, 'Hephaestus', that also is the opening they set the compass to all things drone like and atmospheric, along with the modular synth cracking up like rainfall and some sparse drumming, making it all a very intense piece. 'Kino Mikro' is a piece in which we find more crackles but also the cut-up from computer (Ableton?) technology, and with more intense drone like sound tapestries. The only piece that I didn't quite comprehend was 'Vleugels', which seemed minimal, but at one point sounded very prog-rock like and not in the best tradition. That was the piece with the drums, so next time, I'd say we can do without. Otherwise a top-class release of some highly exciting electronic music meeting classical instruments. (FdW)
VARIOUS ARTISTS – LIVE AT THE JOLT FESTIVAL BASEL (CD and record by A Tree in the Field Records)
The JOLT-Festival Basel took place in November 2011 at Galerie Stampa and Gare du Nord in Basel Switzerland. Daniel Buess and James Hullick organized the festival. James Hullick founded JOLT Sonic Arts with the aim to develop and implement soundart projects. The organization started in Melbourne – Australia and grows to an international organization supported by a large network of local promoters. Daniel Buess organized one of the first JOLT festivals outside of Australia. The aim was to present a wide spectrum of music from Switzerland and Australia. Alex Buess recorded the whole festival and edited at his studio. The result is an album and a CD with a great variety of music. The combination of the electro/percussion duo Cortex from Basel and Stelarc from Australia is beautiful. The combination of Cortex and Ensemble Phoenix is a nice mix of electro-acoustic music, free-jazz and modern classic music. Rhythmic parts with noisy sounds and several wind instruments lead to subtle tones in combination with an almost silent mood. The following track of Carthage has a lot of tension in its electronic beats combined with some voices samples and abstract tones. The hip-hop set by Ferocious 41 is adventurous with great moving beats. The music of Oren Ambarchi is a mix of a long guitar solo surrounded by abstract electronic sounds. Not my piece of cake, I haven’t listen to long guitar solos since I was a head banger during my school-age, but this piece of music is great for lovers of this kind of music. The indie music of Roy and the Devil’s Motorcycle and Papiro has its roots in the sixties and beginning of the seventies, with a nice mix of folk pop, psychedelic music and the atmosphere of The Velvet Underground. Anyhow… the festival offers a wide palette of music and this release of this document give a show card of this interesting festival. (JKH)
VA AA LR - POLIS (CD by Intonema)
VA AA LR - PING CONE (cassette by Mantile)
This trio is getting places! And that's a great thing. They played in various countries by now, and have their releases on more and more labels. Vasco Alves, Louis Rice and Adam Asnan hails from London but in May-June 2014 they were creating installations in the streets of Porto and the Serralves Museum Park and the results of that ended up on a CD released in St-Petersburg. There is a promo clip for this CD on youtube, which gives you a pretty good idea about the music, but nothing about how this was made. As you may have learned from the previous reviews of their work, I enjoy it all very much and at the same time I have no idea what they do. There are no concert clips, I think (I don't want to be accused of lazy research obviously), to be found, which is a pity. I think they work with speakers, objects and contact microphones, and I would like to believe there is a strong aspect of performance to what they do, but perhaps I'm wrong. Looking at pictures on their website, they seem to be a trio behind a table with objects, sound carriers and mixing boards, so perhaps less performance like (maybe more Kapotte Muziek like, I thought). Sound wise they reminded me so far of Dutch trio BMB con, but this new release is perhaps a bit more 'musical', which may seem odd. There was, so far, a certain random aspect to the music they produced, but here, in these three tracks there are continuous loops to be heard, repeating all the time, and a whole bunch of them. These might from the objects they play, or found sound in the street; whatever is the case, really. Around these loops they add strange little/small sounds, dropping in and out the mix at quite random moments; cars passing, people talking: maybe coming from the streets where these installations were? And just what would these installations be then? I have no clue, but my best guess would be something to do with a variety of speakers transmitting this stuff. It seems to me a relative easy idea but it's performed with some great care and has an excellent intense feel to it.
While researching this I stumbled also on a new release by this trio, from Mantile, on cassette in an edition of 50 copies, but if you look closely also as a free download. There are nine shortish pieces on this cassette, which offer the more classic approach to VA AA LR. Deep end bass rumble, of speakers hidden inside objects loaded with sine waves emitting, steel objects being rubbed and the 'near broken contact microphone' approach, resulting in a fine crackling sound. In all of these nine pieces there is room for silence, for introspection if you will. It doesn't blurt out a bunch of sounds, but rather a delicate interplay between the three players and their objects, mechanics and electronics. They listen and respond and thus built these delicate pieces of musique concrete. This release is short and to the point. It makes quite a difference between the cassette and the CD, sparse versus full, abstract versus more outspoken musical, and both are quite nice. Maybe look for this free download and let this convince you explore further. It's surely one of those groups on my list that I'd like to see in concert. (FdW)
VENISON WHIRLED - TETRAGRAMMATONES (CDR by Eh?)
GARY ROUZER - STUDIES AND OBSERVATIONS OF DOMESTIC SHRUBBERY (CDR by Eh?)
Music by Lisa Cameron, also known as Venison Whirled, has been reviewed a couple of times before (Vital Weekly 774 and 881), as well as collaborative project she's doing with Nathan Bowles under the banner of Undercarriage. The first encounter was short, noisy and powerful, like a brutal version of the music of Alvin Lucier. On the second release she used more sound sources, which showed a more subtle approach towards the nature of drone music by playing sounds inside a space, using objects, instruments and electronics. On this new release she uses a little bit less instruments: snare drum, amplifiers, contact microphones and berimbau, which is a Brazilian string instrument. On four snare drums she placed a contact microphone each and by using amplifcation she creates feedbacks, which in turn makes the snares on the drum vibrate. I am not sure where the berimbeau fits in, but maybe it's resonating or humming somewhere too? The longest piece here is a twenty-two minute live recording and it's the ideas she has about spatial moving of sound in its most crudest and noisiest form. It's not very well worked out and is perhaps a bit too long. I liked the other three pieces better. 'Elena' was the most minimalist execution of this piece, with drones humming like motors on a small boat, and 'Jump Inn', the shortest piece opening the release, with a very powerful, very present drone. 'Final Circle' at the end was my favourite piece, in which the music became almost like a physical object, beating the eardrums in a confrontational way, and seemingly present on a wide acoustic scale.
From Washington DC is Gary Rouzer, whose work deals usually with electronics, preparations, motors, tapes or amplified objects, but not on this new releases. Here he limits himself to the use of cello, clarinet and cardboard - of which he notes that 'each produce very similar sounds that could be mistaken for breathing', and that he wanted to play these instruments/objects in such a way that it would be hard to tell which is what here, and I must say he succeeded quite well at that. He adds a bit of field recording here and there, but otherwise nothing much else. He plays everything and records it on the computer and treats it 'as is'; no effects are added later on. I do believe, however, that he does use the multi-track function so that he can overlay sounds and create a more complex composition. Not that these pieces are overtly complex anyway, and I don't mean this in a negative way. I very much enjoy the four pieces Rouzer plays here: they are very minimal, with say sustaining sounds on the cello and clarinet and the rubbing of the cardboard on a surface - I am describing 'Chokeberry Swallow' here - which slowly drifts apart and the clarinet has a somewhat more free role. The music is kept 'small' and doesn't drift wildly apart but has a rather intimate feeling. It's throughout quiet music that doesn't always require off attention. Maybe an interesting mixture of improvised music and ambient, played with acoustic instruments and sound sources. A well refined release. (FdW)
BURKHARD BEINS & JOHN BUTCHER & MARK WASTELL - MEMBRANE (CDR by Confront Recordings)
Although we have three well-known players from the field of improvised music here, playing instruments such as concert bass-drum (Burkhard Beins), tenor & soprano saxophone (John Butcher) and amplified 32" paiste tam-tam (Mark Wastell), the recordings captured on this release, made in concert at the Cafe Oto on 13 April 2014 sound very electronic. That is because each of them also uses analog synth& live electronics (Beins), acoustic & amplified feedbacking (Butcher) and mixer (Wastell). It may take some time, but then at one point in 'Membrane 1' you hear the saxophone coming out this mass of drone like sounds, crackles and deep space, but throughout this remains very minimal and on the atmospheric side. None of the percussion instruments are played here in a percussive way, but something that is not unlike resonant spaces creating smaller and larger walls of sounds. Towards the end of 'Membrane 1', this wall collapses and this trio shows some more 'regular' improvised skills. It's interesting to note that they never played as a trio before, but in whatever form as duo they did, and yet in 'Membrane 1' they make that everything is very much together. 'Membrane 2' on the other hand is relatively more open piece of music. It surely sounds a bit dark with those big drums and tam-tam sounds, vibrating on a low plate, but the saxophone plays a much freer role here, and at specific points things explode into a wild, free improvisation, and the percussionist play around with sticks; along goes the electronic ornaments, which burst, crackle and plop around. Two quite different pieces of music. Excellent release which comes with some interesting liner notes in an oversized tin can - Confront's usual high standard. (FdW)
ANTONY MAUBERT - PANORAMA SO2 (CDR by Luscinia Discos)
Originally from France, but living in Spain is Antony Maubert, who is a composer of acousmatic and electronic music, who also composes instrumental music, improvisation, performance and composes for theater, films, sound installation and organises festival. I don't see much references to previously released works on CDR or something like that. His new work deals with environmental issues, with the number 2 in subscript below the SO (always afraid such things get lost on websites, so I never use them) and it's about the "impact of emissions from tailpipes on the atmosphere". On the sombre but great looking package we don't find any information as to which sound sources have been used here, but for all I know it might be tailpipes of cars, especially in the first half of the piece. As a non-driver I am very rarely in cars or on auto routes and frankly I don't like it very much - hell, as a man I don't even talk cars (or football), not old ones that look great, and even hate 'Top Gear', which I know some people like who don't like cars - so I am in full support of this environmental struggle. The opening section, a heavy drone like piece taking about twelve solid minutes is only then faded over into something else which sounds like a computer processed version of the opening sounds. It then moves about until at the twenty-minute it comes to a complete full stop, before the engine slowly starts running again, but the second half is a bit more alien that the first half; still quite industrial and heavily on the deep, noisy drones. This is not music for the weak of heart. It's quite loud and dirty; it's also quite industrial and noisy, but all also very well composed and planned. All together it's quite a dark picture Maubert paints, but he paints it very well. (FdW)
SURFACE HOAR - THE INVISIBLE PATH TO THE SHORE (CDR by Roll Noise)
Ten years ago Matthew Amundsen started to work with non-musical sounds to create music and that lead up to the debut album 'These Terrible Dreams'. It was reviewed in Vital Weekly 593 and back then I didn't much about it. Over the years I reviewed some more of his music and it's something I always quite liked. More and more it seemed to me that he was using non-musical objects to sample and play along with real instruments. He also collaborated with people like Kenji Siratori, Rabbit Girls, Sid Redlin and Le Scrambled Debutante. Now, ten years, he feels he wants there is time for a change, partly because of using more and more instruments. None of those are listed on 'The Invisible Path To The Shore', which Amundsen announces to be his final album. That is perhaps a bit sad, I think, as the eight songs on this album are quite nice, again. Lots of sampled sounds thrown in and a surprisingly 'pop' like approach when it comes to structering his songs. There is rhythm, melody, a hook and a riff, most of the time. Quite dark pop music that is, of course, as there is always that black, gothic undercurrent. It also seems he sings a bit more than before and at that he creates a nice 80s retro sound, especially in the particular rock-like 'Luminous Beings'. A bit of a lo-fi recording with lots of guitars and a simple drum machine. The title track is, perhaps less surprising, quite an ambient piece, and perhaps a bit too easy. It makes this album throughout a varied bunch of tunes and it surely shows us the qualities of Surface Hoar. Sadly missed I guess as of now. (FdW)
DIE NEUEN IBM - HERZKREISNEGATIV (cassette by Midnight Circles)
AARON YABROV - FROM ABOVE AND BELOW (cassette by Midnight Circles)
JAMES EDMONDS - A MEDITATION, A FILM, A FORTUNE (cassette by Midnight Circles)
Following three releases introducing me to the Midnight Circles label (see Vital Weekly 939), here's another three new releases. Minimalist design with stamps and Xeroxed-art artwork, which I like very much. They called themselves a 'Xerox-label'. The first release is Die Neuen IBM from France, and the follow-up to 'Tender Revolution', which I didn't review. I believe there are connections to Smitten and 18QM (see Vital 953) and I believe this is some collaboration of some kind. Here tapes, field recordings, effects and a digital 8-track recorder are used, and everything was mixed on the spot, without any overdubs. This is quite a nice varied set of experiments. It has quite a playful, random style of mixing a variety of seemingly unrelated sounds together. These form solid blocks of sound and change every now and then it changes abruptly, but one or two sounds get to life on and take it from there into something new altogether. The A-side seems to me the one that is more about cut-up and collage, while on the other side we find something that is more sustaining and drone-like, but also, perhaps, in a more lo-fi manner. Not as refined as the more formal drone approaches, but it works rather well. Sounds seem to evolve from a more natural, flowing point here. Quite a nice one, these randomized experiments.
In the previous bunch of Midnight Circles releases there was also a release by Aaron Yabrov, of whom we otherwise don't know much. Here he offers two fifteen-minute pieces of ambient music, which he apparently creates with synthesizers, field recordings, 'mellow scratches and crackles'. The latter might be true, but field recordings were otherwise a bit harder to hear in these two pieces. It's perhaps not as light as his previous release, but I quite enjoyed this one also. 'Tideline' was a bit lighter with those scratches/crackles and 'Green Cavern' a bit darker and austere. Everything moved quite slowly and minimal, just like we expect these things to do. Perhaps no real big surprise here, not when I think about his earlier release, or the whole genre of ambient music, but this too was a great release.
James Edmonds works and lives in Berlin and London, and he paints, creates installations and films and plays music. He too uses "ever-altering field-recordings, manipulated tones and a metallic swirls", even when I am not sure what those are. In the piece on side, 'A Meditation' is perhaps not as meditative as Yabrov's music, and while there seems to be a lot of field recordings, it's all very well hidden beneath a cover of all sorts of computer technology. In 'A Film', the opening piece of side B, we hear the sound of projector, which is clear but then mixed into this are a lot of additional sounds from field recordings and perhaps even there is manipulation all around. The final piece is Flüssige Skulptur" which seems to be the most electronic piece here, of rhythmic sounds, which are slowly transformed and get out of phase. It might be some percussion instrument fed through a synthesizer. I read it has to do with the same source material as 'A Meditation', which is not something I could easily hear; but who knows? Yes, it could very well that we are dealing with the same source material being worked out differently. It's hard to tell, but Edmondson takes two distinct routes from that material. Nice release altogether.
THAUMATURGIST - DER WECHSEL (cassette by Barreuh Records)
SKYMME - HUONE (cassette by Barreuh Records)
It's not easy, once you got the cover unfolded to put it back in the plastic box with the release of Thaumaturgist; this yet another name used by Oscar Wyers from lovely Nijmegen. He runs his own Oggy Records and who records as Foam Sword, sometimes with other people as Groene Driehoek and with Peter Johan Nijland of Distel as Syntax Pony. On his own, he is very much into using templates from the world of techno-based music, but on his own charming turns. And those turns might not always be focussed towards having a lot of beats going aiming at the dance floor. He approaches dance music/electronic instruments to create improvised music as such. He flicks on his machines and plays around with them, sometimes looking a bit too much/too long for a tune, and it gets a bit out of control, but I believe that is exactly the charm of this music. He's not interested in creating a finely crafted tune that fits onto a 12", or something that flows easily into a DJ set, but does his own bit of 'free electronic improvisation'. I have no idea why he uses a new name, but I'll ask him, next time I bump into him.
Even when Barreuh Records is from Eindhoven, the other new release is also connected to Nijmegen. Again the name of Peter Johan Nijland comes up. He's from Distel and in the past from Hadewych (actually still is) and here he teams up with Bert van Beek, who surprised us with a release on Oggy Records back in Vital Weekly 959 - Nijmegen isn't that big, I guess. Two songs here, both just less than five minutes and it has been worked on for twelve years. "It combines ritualistic and exotic types of music with the lo-fi sounds of the 90's demo scene", and while I am not sure what the demo scene is (maybe demonstration as in against the G20?). The two men use a variety of instruments, such as Skale Tracker, gong kempul, kempyang, wind gongs, tam tam, kick drum, china cymbals, finger cymbals, overtone flute, dvojnice (if I quote that correctly), recorder, double bass, electric guitar and electric bass guitar. A lot of stuff indeed, and perhaps not always something one could easily hear on these two tracks. 'Kraton Kosong' is a rather subdued with organ like sounds, slowly cascading into wild but controlled percussion, and has a gamelan like ending. The title track has a more on-going, repeating beats, which also alternate between wild and loud and quiet and introspective. Exotic and dense and dark. I wish there was a bit more to hear than just these ten minutes. (FdW)