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FRYADLUS - MUSICAL EXPO (CD by Kaico) *
KITA KOUHEI - ENDLESS CYCLE OF REBIRTH (CD by Lantern) *
PERISKOP - IMMERSE (CD by Kabalion Records) *
JONAS KOCHER & ILAN MANOUACH – SKELETON DRAFTS (CD by Bruit)
NICHI NICHI KORE KONICHE - P.U.R. (CD by Fortune)
TREVOR WATTS & VERYAN WESTON (CD by Fortune)
GRAHAM STEPHENSON & AARON ZARZUTZKI - NO DICE (CD by Hideous Replica) *
DOMINIC LASH & SETH COOKE - CANARY (CD by Hideous Replica) *
ADAM ASNAN & DALE CORNISH - MOUNTING (CDR by Hideous Replica) *
MICHAEL SPEERS - DAMPED, DRIVEN SYSTEM (cassette by Hideous Replica)
COPPICE - BYPASS IDEAL (cassette by Hideous Replica)
CHAOTALION - TANNENHOLZRAUCH (CD by Attenuation Circuit) *
METEK - PSYCHEDEDLIC NOISE (FEAT. VMOOD AND PYTHAHORA) (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
UNII/EMERGE - … DISTANT GLOW… (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
EMERGE FEAT. ELJARA OF PRINZIP NEMESIS - … STAUB (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
TRUUS - SURREALIST BALL (CDR by Dew Claw Ditties) *
KAYAKA - SONIC KITCHEN (CDR by Adaadat) *
DUNNINGWEBSTERUNDERWOOD - BLEED (CDR by Adaadat) *
HAMILTON YARNS - 2 COINS IN A FOUNTAIN/THE EYE OF THE STORM (2CDR by Hark!) *
MORE EAZE - ACCIDENTAL PRIZES (CDR by Kendra Steiner Editions) *
FOSSILS - WITH BRIAN RURYK (CDR by Kendra Steiner Editions) *
JEN HILL - THE SHAPE OF IT (CDR by Kendra Steiner Editions) *
FRYADLUS - MUSICAL EXPO (CD by Kaico)
KITA KOUHEI - ENDLESS CYCLE OF REBIRTH (CD by Lantern)
According to my review of the debut album of Fryadlus, or fryadlus (the musical project of Yoshihiro Furuya) as it should spelled without capitals, back in Vital Weekly 904, ‘Pocket Fantasy’ didn’t blow me away back then: "Pocket Fantasy' mixes a variety of instruments, electronics, piano, guitar, field recordings, into a variety of music, IDM, jazz, pop, bit of cheesy classical music. He produces his music very well, but is that enough, I wondered? It's all instrumental, its production is wonderful, but it also seems quite light weight to my taste. There is nothing here that really seems to grab me as a listener, telling me, no, demanding me, listen up, this is great. Maybe that is not the intention of Fryadlus, and all he wants to do us play some easy peaceful, and joyful tunes, and as such he succeeded pretty well. These thirteen pieces in an one hour might be the perfect modern living room music, and not exactly the sort of thing for the chaotic Vital HQ on a rainy day. Nice enough, but I pass". That was about the entire review I did back then, and I must admit I pretty much feel the same about this new release. This man is a gifted programmer of sounds, very smooth sounds indeed; there is still no harm, no tension, and no treat. Maybe none intended? But then just what is the intention here? What's the audience for this music? I can't think of what the target audience would be here (but then maybe this is not my duty as a reviewer). I pass on; again.
Kita Kouhei delivers his debut with 'Endless Cycle Of Rebirth'. He is trained as a drummer and pianist, with a 'background of black music', whatever that means. For his release here I don't think he uses much conventional drums and/or piano's, but rather uses lots and lots of samples; the drums from the tin can machine and the piano from midi sources. His music sounds clean too, but at least it's a lot less clean than fryadlus. Kouhei's music owes to the world of intelligent dance music, with odd time signatures, jazzy piano samples, scratchy samples, a bit of hiss, snap and beep, but is throughout much more pleasant to hear. It offers a variety of moods and textures, from ambient atmospheres to bouncy rhythms. In 'Someone Is Calling Me' there is the vocals of Naoko Takayama (Carneiro), which brings this immediately into a new territory - pop music to be precise. Kouhei is not very experimental or abstract, but has a bunch of pleasant tunes to offer, which went down well on such a slow post summer's day. (FdW)
PERISKOP - IMMERSE (CD by Kabalion Records)
If I am not mistaken, it has been quite some time since I last heard music by Danny Kreutzfeldt from Denmark. Yet, there was also a time, say between Vital Weekly 398 and 655 that I reviewed many of his releases, and some of these where under his own name (for the more ambient excursions) but also as Fallingapparatus, Periskop, Sectorchestra and sgnl_fltr, and in all of these he seemed to mix ambient and rhythm, to various degrees, making it spacious or more oriented towards the dance floor. Post 2008 it seems that he wasn't as active anymore. The piece on this CD was recorded from 2000-2008 and it's also released on a triple set of 12" records. The CD might actually be a mix of these records as it flows all right into each other. As Periskop, Kreutzfeldt looks at the world of 'early dub techno' (say stuff that was released on Basic Channel and Chain Reaction as well as their many offshoots) and 'dark ritual emotional/cathartic approach of the industrial soundscape movement of the 80s and 90s'. This means, when it comes to the music that is indeed all very dark; both rhythm and synthesizers: everything is filtered to make the low end shine best. The rhythms used by Kreutzfeldt are really minimal, hardly your usual 4/4 techno stomp. It's also much slower, most of the times probably not reaching 100 bpm. But all of that makes this seem that Kreutzfeldt tries to imitate techno/Chain Reaction/Basic Channel/dub in a lousy way, but I actually thought all of this was quite compelling. Especially when hearing this on CD, when it's all in one long flow (but then: I love CDs). Nothing that makes you dance around here, but all the more that makes you move; slowly shaking your head (or as a shop once called this 'head-nod music'), this one long spacious, dark trip into the underworld of dance music. Towards the end - and by then we are seventy-one minutes in this spaceship, it has the most 'dance oriented' bit - we are now floating in deep space indeed. Fully immersed indeed and sucked into a black hole. Great release! (FdW)
JONAS KOCHER & ILAN MANOUACH – SKELETON DRAFTS (CD by Bruit)
A duo work by accordion player Jonas Kocher and soprano saxophonist Ilan Manouach. Both names are new to me. Kocher is a young composer and player from Switzerland and works as an improviser, collaborating with musicians like Christian Wolfarth, Michel Doneda, Olivier Toulemonde, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, a.o. Besides he is also composer of audioplays and musictheater. Ilan Manouach is originally from Greece, but works and lives in Belgium. He is a multidisciplinary artist, working mainly on publishing projects and music. Both met in Greece working in the same project. From here on they developed their work as a duo. This first statement counts three of their improvisations, all about 10-13 minutes, recorded in Athens in 2014. Their music is of a subtle kind. Their interactions often disappear in silence in order to emerge again from silence. Silence is for sure a conscious chosen element in their improvisations. Both take equally initiative in their short and delicate interplay. Dynamics and tone are other important constitutive elements of their work. Although musicians with a big vocabulary carefully perform their drafts, they failed to keep my attention throughout. Best witnessed live I guess, so that you can also see their concentrated interplay. The cd is released by Bruit, an art organisation based in Biel, CH, in collaboration with Romvos. (DM)
NICHI NICHI KORE KONICHE - P.U.R. (CD by Fortune)
TREVOR WATTS & VERYAN WESTON (CD by Fortune)
Two excellent releases from the Warsaw-based label Fortune, specialized in improvised and experimental music. Nichi Niche Kore Koniche is an old Zen statement, meaning ‘Everyday is a good day’. But also the name of an excellent Polish quintet of Krzysztof Knittel (electronics), Yuri Yaremchuk (soprano saxophone, bass clarinet), Alexey Kruglov (alto saxophone, basethorn, blockflute, nudi), Maciej Staszewski (guitar) and Tomek Chołoniewski (drums). Composer and improviser Knittel lead the group. Since the early seventies he mainly worked as a composer of symphonic and chamber music, as well as electro-acoustic music. Also he engaged himself in sound installations, and last but not least in improvised music. P..U.R. stands for Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. Kruglov is from Russia, Yaremchuk comes from Ukraine, and the others from Poland. An explosive combination. In this context it guarantees some very multi-sided, radical improvisations that differ in intensity, structure and dynamics. Noisy, cacophonic parts on the one hand, and more quiet, sound-dominated improvisations on the other. The musicians have a lot to offer and play some engaging and complex games. So very worthwhile if you want to experience how improvised music develops in the east of Europe. Watts (soprano an alto saxes) and Weston (piano) make up a very strong duo, so it is a good thing to have this excellent release. Containing a recording of their Warsaw-concert in 2013. Especially Watts has a long history as an improviser and is a monument of the English improv scene since the sixties. So he is not that young more, nor is Weston. But their playing sounds very lively and fresh. Completely fascinating improvisation by two masters that know each other very well. Every movement they make is relevant and a necessary building stone in their crystal clear improvised structures. The recording is of good quality and took place during the Ad Libitum Festival in Warsaw in 2013. (DM)
GRAHAM STEPHENSON & AARON ZARZUTZKI - NO DICE (CD by Hideous Replica)
DOMINIC LASH & SETH COOKE - CANARY (CD by Hideous Replica)
ADAM ASNAN & DALE CORNISH - MOUNTING (CDR by Hideous Replica)
MICHAEL SPEERS - DAMPED, DRIVEN SYSTEM (cassette by Hideous Replica)
COPPICE - BYPASS IDEAL (cassette by Hideous Replica)
This is surely one of the more heavy blasts of the Hideous Replica label, from Louis Rice of VA AA LR fame. Five releases at once, and it would be great to see if there is a common thread in these. Hideous Replica releases all sorts of formats, as we'll see. First, on CD, there is a thirty minute recording by Graham Stephenson on trumpet and microphone and Aaron Zarzutzki on synthesizer. It's a live recording from May 2013 at the Issue Project Room. Both of these musicians are known from the world of the more radical improvisation; Zarzutzki sometimes also uses no-input mixers and disassembled turntables. Here too the work is pretty radical, but that doesn't necessarily mean: very loud. Surely there are some outbursts of noise, but the majority of this is at a rather modest level, with a fine exploration of their instruments. It seems, but maybe my knowledge is a bit limited, that Stephenson's playing is more traditional than what I seem to remember: the trumpet remains most of the times to be recognized as a trumpet. There is a high level of concentration in this piece, with controlled outbursts of the synthesizer more crudest tones, and the sustaining qualities of the trumpet. It starts out heavy, and it ends on a likewise heavy note and in between we heard some wonderfully careful tones being played by two players who are interacting with each other very well.
Also on CD is a live recording from earlier this year by Dominic Lash (double bass) and Seth Cooke (microphones, prototype cymbal). Earlier I reviewed a 3"CDR by them on 1000Füssler, and I understand that Cooke acts both as player of an instrument as well as recording what he does along with Lash. Much of this has to do with the resonating vibrations of their instruments. There is a radical quality to these improvisations too, but of an entirely different nature. Nothing scratchy or hiss like, here it's all about sustaining sine wave like sounds. The two of them move easily from very high end to very low-end sounds, ranging from feedback to strumming the bass and the production of overtones using the cymbal. The end result is a piece of twenty-five minutes in length and one that is eleven minutes. Both of these pieces have a gentle flow; nothing that goes super fast, but everything flows from place to place in it's own pace. The gentleness is not always concerning the musical content, as that can be pretty brutal from time to time. Like the release by Stephenson/Zarzutzki, here too we have a highly dynamic release. Excellent.
Adam Asnan is one third of VA AA LR and with Dale Cornish he recorded 'Mounting', released as a CDR in an edition of fifty copies (both CDs are actually in an edition of 100 copies). There is no other information with regard to instruments used, recording dates and such like. For all I know this is a studio composition involving many electronics, small synthesizers (monotron most likely), a drum machine, microphones and amplifiers. I am not sure if there any field recordings in this piece, which lasts close to thirty minutes. It's a piece, which many parts, cut down with bits of silence in between. It's this that made me think this is more or less a studio construction than something that has been improvised in concert. It sounds like bits and pieces stuck together, which they improvised together, and cut short to make a more or less rounded piece of improvisation. In a way one is reminded of 'modern electronics' but then recorded in a slightly naive fashion; without hugely complex structures but rather staying on the minimalist side of things. Once they have something going it stays as such for a limited amount of time. Then: silence and after that something else starts up, also for a limited amount of time. You never know what is going to happen and that makes this quite an exciting release. As far as I know it could have lasted a bit longer. If you like VA AA LR's excursions in the world of electro-acoustic music, then you should surely pay attention to this.
In the same edition of fifty copies, on the sub division called Wasted Capital Since 2013, we find a tape with two compositions by one Michael Speers, using 'saturated tape recordings of sine tones, percussion and no-input feedback'. Both last around thirteen minutes. The saturated tape means there is a certain level of distortion to be expected. Especially on 'Driven', the b-side of the tape, there is noise in abundance. Percussion is reduced to a few bangs here and there on this piece, whereas distortion and feedback are all around. I found 'Damped' on the other side of more interest. Here too we have some noisy tonal bursts but the percussion is of more interest here. Deep bangs of sounds, with an afterlife through delay pedals (it seems), making this all quite mysterious, just because Speers leave quite some space between the sounds. That adds to the quality of the music, rather than what seems to be a more mindless bang and twang on the other side.
In an edition of 100 copies, finally, there is Coppice, with 'Bypass Ideal'. Coppice is Noé Cuéllar & Joseph Kramer and so far I have been enjoying their work a lot (see Vital Weekly 882, 892, 921 and 991). Their work is what we could process music, in which the pump organ plays an important role, along with various ways to make recordings of this, and complex systems to do a playback. This is one of the few releases that is granted a few words on the website: "Bypass (2013) called for a heavily amplified live duo performance of modified boombox and prepared pump organ against a focal verging image. It's one of Coppice's first compositions to exclude signal processing. Instead, each part changes progressively while developing independently. We've recorded and isolated each part and placed them on opposing sides of a tape to further evade the intended mode of listening of the piece as a duo performance. Instead, we offer a retrospective listening. We call this listening separation Bypass Ideal. Levels of intensity, tension, and intentions present in the live performance can be found in the separate sides of the Bypass Ideal tape, and in the inseparability of the reconjoined duo from the video projection (available for streaming for holders of the tape.)" I must admit I am not entirely what all of that means but the music sounds once again quite fascinating. Both sides have a drone like quality to it, mildly distorted and very minimal in development. It seems to be staying in the same place but then: it doesn't. If you open up your ears and listen closely you will note minimal changes. But you can also decide to sit back and enjoy this mild distorted drone-scape to pass something that one can enjoy as well as ignore (like Eno intended). It's probably the most minimalist piece I heard from them so far. It is once again an excellent piece of tape transformations of acoustic sounds and very much in a live concert context. Coppice is a name to watch out for! (FdW)
CHAOTALION - TANNENHOLZRAUCH (CD by Attenuation Circuit)
METEK - PSYCHEDEDLIC NOISE (FEAT. VMOOD AND PYTHAHORA) (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
UNII/EMERGE - … DISTANT GLOW… (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
EMERGE FEAT. ELJARA OF PRINZIP NEMESIS - … STAUB (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
A bunch of new releases on Attenuation Circuit and the first is by Chaotalion, which is the musical project of Alexander Marco, and who has managed to make his release look like a metal one, with all the right cliché’s. I don't think I heard of Marco before. He plays guitar on this release, along with 'soundscapes', which I assume are electronics and field recordings alike. There are nine pieces here, and the total length is sixty-seven minutes, which means most of these pieces are quite lengthy. I was thinking: maybe a bit too long in the end, even when I quite enjoyed the music. It starts off on the wrong foot for me, with the first part of the title piece, which is quite a howling guitar exercise with lots of sound effects and indeed some sort of metal. From the fourth track, 'Höhle' onward the sound of the guitar disappears, or rather becomes less obvious and the pieces seem to dwell more on sound effects, field recordings, voices maybe and lead up to dark, mysterious ambient, rumbling from the below the surface of the earth, with monks chanting from the temple of doom in 'Endloser Tempel'. When the guitar lays down another carpet of distorted drones it seems to be better incorporated in the piece itself, coming with all the other sounds Chaotalion has to offer. It could have been lost two pieces, at the beginning I would think, and it would have been a somewhat stronger release, I think, but this is certainly something very good as well, for you lovers of dark ambient and industrial lite.
Not industrial lite is the music by Metek. It's been a few years since I last heard from Frederik Nilsson; not that he wasn't active, but I think he wasn't pleased with the reception of his music in these pages, and/or other some other run-in. Metek plays noise music, and does so with the help of others, sometimes. He's been going since the early 90s. On four of the five pieces there is sound input from Vmood (two pieces), and Pythagora (three pieces), although I have no idea who these people are and what they do. This too is a lengthy release, clocking in at sixty-eight minutes. Metek plays noise music, unrelentness loud, but he's not part of the world of harsh noise walls. I like to believe he is someone who actually gives what he does a few thoughts. He let's his music move between various parameters and is not shy to incorporate a few moments of relative quietness. I have no idea what kind of apparatus Metek uses here. For all we know this is a bunch of field recordings of the human environment (down at the construction side), tape hiss, some electronics/stomp boxes and such like, and maybe even a synthesizer here and there. There is an extended use of tape-loops to be noted here, especially when things aren't as loud, such as in the closing piece called 'Prologue (feat Pythagora)', which I thought was the best piece of the release. In some of the more noisy outings, such as 'Montage 3 (feat Vmood)' and 'Det Gar (feat Vmood and Pythagora)', the balance between noise and more quiet passages is not bad, but I thought these pieces could have been a bit more condensed and to the point, like the other three pieces. Throughout however I thought was a very fine release of some well-crafted good ol' noise music.
Labelboss Emerge is responsible for the other two releases. The first one is with Unii, a singer, songwriter and electronic music composer from Hokkaido, up north in Japan. I don't think I know her work very well, if at all, but apparently it has been described as post-Björk and a bit like Tujiko Noriko (of whom I haven't heard in quite some time). I assume that on this disc Emerge takes her music apart and constructs five new pieces of music, which occasionally shines through her voice, but is otherwise engaged in making it sound totally different. It's something that merges pretty well. The whispering voice, all in Japanese, along with the computer-processed sounds of Emerge make up from some highly interesting pieces of music. The ringing of metallic sounds, lots of reverb and delay applied to these sounds, adding a spooky texture to the music, certainly combined with that voice. Maybe the lyrics are all sweet and loving, but if you can't understand what they are about it's of course a bit more difficult. What I like about this is that Emerge distributes his sounds rather sparsely and gives lot of room to Unii, creating an open space to work in.
The other one is along similar lines, but recorded live. I think the credit on the cover is a bit silly: 'feat. Eljara of Prinzip Nemesis', why not just 'feat. Eljara'. She a singer in a band called Prinzip Nemesis (see also Vital Weekly 930). Recorded in concert last year and it lasts close to thirty minutes, but is still a song to the label; for me as well. Eljara's voice sit wonderfully well in the soundscape created by Emerge, with a bit of difference: she's sings more throughout, and even while much of this is not to be understood either (more wordless humming than actual lyrics), it's also clear that both musicians react and improvise to each other's contribution. Here too Emerge keeps his contributions sparse and to the point, at least for three-quarter of the piece, but even at this stage the sudden layering of sounds is brief and very much to the point. It goes very well. This is altogether an excellent piece of music. (FdW)
TRUUS - SURREALIST BALL (CDR by Dew Claw Ditties)
"Is that by Mark Ryden", a friend of mine asked. "No, it's Truus, you know Truus de Groot, also known as Plus Instruments". He didn't know, but he was referring to the cover image, which is indeed by Ryden, which he knew and I didn't. It's looks a bit like a surreal image, but in all fairness I am not really taken by the whole surrealist thing. It all seems to be a bit of well-walked cliché, image wise but also music wise. It always seems to refer back to places and times which were hardly the times of the creator: say, for instance, the ball room dances of twenties in a far away American city, or the talking dolls in an empty house, covered with fog and oho… suspense. Take an old 78 rpm record, make few loops out of it, add some reverb, some children voices whispering 'I'm so alone; big tree don't hurt me' (add more reverb) and you're half way a surrealist record. It made me all the more curious what Truus would do on her disc. I really enjoy her recent Plus Instruments releases (see for instance Vital Weekly 894), which are synth and sequencer heavy along with Truus' voice. On this release, as Truus, the rhythms are derived from a farfisa organ and she sings, but also adds weird, other sounds. She still plays songs however and doesn't depict the haunted house scenario. A lyric about 'Monster' ('you are a monster') is a bit tacky of course and some of it harks back to that ballroom atmosphere, such as 'Bird In A Gilded Cage', but I like the way she processed her voice on this piece. That sounds very much Truus like, so that was good. For each of these songs the dance is mentioned on which the rhythm is based, waltz, salsa, tango, pasodoble, latin etc. 'So Much' is disco and is the most Plus Instruments like piece, with it's minimalist beats and stomp rhythm. While Truus doesn't avoid cliché’s that I seem to detect in the world of current surrealists, I enjoyed this release quite a bit. It had all the trademarks of a great Truus de Groot release, funny, dance like, poppy and a bit odd from time to time. With or without any surrealism. (FdW)
KAYAKA - SONIC KITCHEN (CDR by Adaadat)
DUNNINGWEBSTERUNDERWOOD - BLEED (CDR by Adaadat)
From Tokyo, but now residing in Berlin and London, is Kaya Kamijo, who plays a whole bunch of instruments, which includes harp, bass, clarinet, drums, bass guitar and 'gadgets' (which I assume to be all things electronic). A long time, in Vital Weekly 866, I heard her music for the first time (even when there are also releases on Zeromoon, Mantile, Asimtria, Amp Recs, Spirals Of Involution and Neigh% Records), which didn't blow me away to be precise. Long pieces with many layers of sound, but not with too much compositional idea behind it seemed. This new release has nine tracks, and last just under thirty minutes, so stuff has been trimmed down quite a bit. It makes the music all the more interesting, I think. It's hard to see all of this in terms of instruments being played, despite what Adaadat lists in that department. If anything I would say that Kayaka samples the hell out of all sorts of sources, lifted from the media environment (old vinyl, TV snippets) and put synthesizers, rhythm machines and field recordings and thus creates some fine plunderphonic results. While nothing lasts on end here, it actually sounds great. Kayaka moves all around the place with, from happy songs like 'Piper's Rats' (maybe also one of the pieces in which she sings) to the feedback intro of 'Pickled Tango' and the moody world 'Who Knows Amelia'. See: all over the place and it's all very entertaining. Mildly fucked up at times, but that's the world of Adaadat I guess. Would be good to see this in concert.
Last week I reviewed a Dead Neanderthals release with a lot of guests and remarked that Colin Webster was the oddball guest for me in that release. Pure coincidence of course that I now get a new trio with him on saxophone, along with Graham Dunning, who plays the turntable, playing dub plates of field recordings, dentistry tools and other objects and Sam Underwood on tuba. When there is a tuba around in the improvised music scene, one of the words that spring to mind is 'drone'. I guess it's not easy to avoid that instrument to produce such low-end sounds, and with the right breathing technique, to make it sustaining. Combined with the saxophone playing of Webster this leads to some wonderful results and not always, perhaps, pure atmospheric results, such as they proof in 'Grapefleckserpent'. Dunning provides some raw textures of a turntable needle scanning a rough surface, while the two wind instruments play some wilder stuff, almost leaning towards free jazz. The tuba keeps things on the low end most of times, which is great: it adds a fine bottom end to the music. In these forty-four minutes/eleven pieces this trio moves back and forth between loud/quiet, hectic/sparse, low/high, traditional/new and all of these contradictions in approaching their instruments, listening closely to what the others are doing here, adding, subtracting and responding. A wonderfully rich release of improvised music, in which a lot of ground is covered and which makes up a highly varied release. (FdW)
HAMILTON YARNS - 2 COINS IN A FOUNTAIN/THE EYE OF THE STORM (2CDR by Hark!)
The last time I reviewed something by Hamilton Yarns, 'The Orchard' in Vital Weekly 928, I complained about the cover, but I later understood this was indeed a promo version. Now I get a new release and it comes with a great Risograph cover on the outside and both discs are in shiny sleeves. This is their 15th album, all self-released. I am not sure why they put this out as two disc package as each disc lasts only twenty-five minutes. I didn't review all of their fifteen releases, but by now heard quite a bit of their music, and I wonder about this: why were they never picked up another label, effectively promoting their music to a wider audience? This big band of six members playing a variety of instruments such as guitars, clarinet, keyboards, percussion, cornet, accordion, violin, hardanger and all of them submitting voices, makes them nothing less than any of the other alternative pop and folk bands I know, especially the likes on Static Caravan. Hamilton Yarns is a bit more adventurous, a bit more avant-garde perhaps, which is something that has been developing over the last few releases. Less pop, but it has that intimacy of folk music; perhaps coupled with the somewhat lo-fi production, adding that particular charm to the music. In 'Across The SKY' (as spelling goes) there is the cornet waving about and the whole band plays a bit of a charming lo-fi psychedelic. Sometimes they don't need any words and paint a picture with a few sounds from outside, some instruments and that's it, such as in 'Hello'. Hearing all of this doesn't make it clear to me why this had to be split into two separate CDRs; why not all of this on one disc and make a great long playing album for uninterrupted hearing? I think that is just one of the mysteries of this band; perhaps as much as a mystery as why they firmly stay independent. There must be a good reason for it! (FdW)
MORE EAZE - ACCIDENTAL PRIZES (CDR by Kendra Steiner Editions)
FOSSILS - WITH BRIAN RURYK (CDR by Kendra Steiner Editions)
JEN HILL - THE SHAPE OF IT (CDR by Kendra Steiner Editions)
Following 'Stylistic Deautomatization', reviewed in Vital Weekly 988, here's now 'Accidental Prizes', another work by Marcus Maurice Rubio, with another seven pieces of his electronic music. It is electronic music that extensively uses the sampler as well as acoustic sources, especially string instruments. There is a strong love for minimalism in these pieces, with on-going sounds and a back beat that underlines some of these pieces; what I previously called the melted-down rhythm machine. More Eaze uses many layers of sound in his music, and sometimes does a wild excursion such as in the short 'Glass Fragments', which is followed by the more curious title piece, in which Rubio sings and plays guitar; it's almost like a singer-songwriter piece. 'Mating Rituals' follows that and brings the music to the world of drone music. You can see: this is a pretty varied bunch of songs/pieces (I am not sure what More Eaze would prefer there), but despite all this variation this is a highly listenable release. Pop-like, electronic, experimental: it all sits together very easily on this disc, much to my enjoyment.
Fossils, being Daniel Farr and David Payne, have their own label, Middle James Co, but nevertheless are regular guests on Kendra Steiner Editions (this new one is equally divided over both labels: twenty-four copies are made by each label). Here they have a new work, which they recorded with Brian Ruryk. They already had a work dedicated to this noise guitarist from Vancouver, active since the 80s (see Vital Weekly 978). I have no idea how this collaboration was made, but it says on the cover 'recorded in Hamilton and Toronto', so maybe this is some sort of collaboration through (e-)mail. I recently wrote that I thought it was a pity that Fossils didn't explore their reel-to-reel experiments further as they did some time ago and went back to more 'regular' improvised work (based on guitar and percussion), and this work with Ruryk is another exploration as such. As a trio they play again some highly 'free' music, not caring about any tradition or knowledge about their instruments and bang, hit, throw these around and make it sound wild and free, but they don't play easily the noise card. There is a bit of spoken word here and there, but to extent that 'musique concrete techniques' is a bit far fetched I think. Nice one; again!
I am not sure if I heard of Jen Hill before; she plays cello, guitars, vocals, percussion, noise and electronics on her release and six songs are shortish and one that is seventeen minutes. That's quite something different, and one can say this release is like the Roman god Janus: two faced. The first six pieces show Hill playing her outsider/singer/songwriter stuff, with lots of hiss, strumming strings, a bit of introspective singing and some noise (cable hum perhaps, but more intentional, I'd say). There is an element of improvisation in these pieces, which is nice. The seventh piece is 'Theta Brainwave Entrainment Study No. 1' and this is all to do with time stretching sounds on the computer. It sounds like a bunch of chirping insects, but might very well be Hill's own voice, along with some crackling of sound, of which I am not sure this is intentional. It is surely something completely different indeed. I found it hard to match this with the rest. It sounded like two different musicians on one album, and there wasn't much thought in how these differences worked together. I liked that long piece, even when I also thought it was nothing special, more than the songs she did, so I wasn't all too convinced altogether. (FdW)