number 997
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week 34
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BRUNO SPOERRI - MEMORIES (CD by Everest Records) *
AMULETO - NO PARA SIEMPRE EN LA TIERRA SOLO UN POCO AQUI (2CD by Mazagran) *
EMISSATETT - QUI-PRO-QUO-DIS (CD by Schraum)
THE SET ENSEMBLE - STOPCOCK (CD by Consumer Waste) *
WILL MONTGOMERY - THE CRYSTAL AT THE LIPS (CD by Organized Sound From Thessaloniki) *
Z'EV & KARL J. PALOUCEK - CITIES & RAILS (CD, private) *
HOUR HOUSE - CHILTERN (LP by Penultimate Press)
SATURN AND THE SUN - JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF YOUR MIND (LP by Bocian Records)
ROBERT PIOTROWWICZ - STARA SZKOLA ZE ZLOTA (12" by Bocian Records/Musica Genera)
ARTIFICIAL MEMORY TRACE - AMFIBION (CDR by Flaming Pines) *
CLINTON GREEN & BARNABY OLIVER - DISCRETIONS (CDR by Shame File Music) *
SATURN AND THE SUN - HARSH REALITIES, BROKEN BONES AND SKULL TONES (cassette by The Tapeworm) *
MARK VAN HOEN - THE WORCESTER TAPES, 1983-1987 (cassette by The Tapeworm) *
MARK FELL FEATURING RHODRI DAVIES, OKKYUNG LEE - A PATTERN FOR BECOMING (cassette by The Tapeworm) *



BRUNO SPOERRI - MEMORIES (CD by Everest Records)
One of the more curious things I recently read on a CD cover: 'this edition was made possible through the generous financial help of Mr. Jay-Z'. What, well, wait... the etc…? Is Jay-Z into sponsoring these kinds of things? But of course that is ignorance on my side, as I don't thumb the music business weeklies very much to check who's suing who over samples. But a quick Internet search learns that Spoerri's music was sampled by Jaz-Z and that he settled with Spoerri, and now splits the royalties over that particular piece of music. I am sure it will be a nice sum, which made it possible to release this on LP and CD. Good way of paying back to the fans of Spoerri. Spoerri is called a jazz-musician in the various bits I just read, but he's also an electronic composer and it's as such we find him on 'Memories'. Spoerri started an electronic studio in the late sixties and the six pieces here are from 1986 up to 2003. The press text tells us a short story for each of these pieces, which makes it all the more interesting (and which is something other labels could also do). We learn that the first piece is made with recording from a foundry (and it is a homage to Pierre Schaeffer), that there are various pieces that use sounds from Swiss country life; we hear anything from cowbells to village fanfare and people singing. Such pieces, as the two parts of 'Zollikon' have a peaceful and tranquil character, almost like one is transported to the Alps and sitting on a grass up at the mountains, listening to small creeks, cows and the far away church (and one realizes one needs a holiday - a wholly different story). 'Cheese And Chocolate' also uses country sounds, but also alp horns creating ringing overtones. All in all this is a work of electro-acoustic music, in which the piece 'Verklungen' is the oddball. In it the violin plays an important role, layered, processed and all taken from recordings from Spoerri's mother, who had a trio called Lore Durant. His mother died in 2000 and this piece is a loving tribute to his mother, who no doubt played an important in the musical formation of her son. All together this makes up a wonderful release, with some highly personal pieces. (FdW)
Address: http://www.everestrecords.ch

AMULETO - NO PARA SIEMPRE EN LA TIERRA SOLO UN POCO AQUI (2CD by Mazagran)
The last time I reviewed something from Amuleto was back in Vital Weekly 764, which was later on re-issued as part of a 10CD box 'Musica Improvvisa', the duo of Francesco Dillon (cello, violin, objects) and Riccardo Wanke (guitar, bass and electronics) return with a double CD on Wanke's own label Mazagran. For each of the thirteen pieces - and spread over two and half hours of music, you can imagine these are lengthy ones (even when the shortest is just below three minutes), the cover lists what each of them does, plus from which country they use field recordings. I must admit I didn't spot those field recordings right away, but perhaps that's also because much of the music is quite soft anyway. The name Amuleto comes from Roberto Bolano's novel, and it's the group's desire 'to trace invisible links among distant geographical and cultural spaces, words and sounds that influence their imagination'. All of these pieces are improvised, as on their previous release and again this on similar lines as before. Amuleto plays very careful stuff and in general take their time in playing these pieces. This is quite an amount of music we have been served here and best not to digest all at once. Play a disc a day and I think you'd probably enjoy this better, than trying to take it all in at once. As said, the field recordings are not always very present in the music; perhaps in 'The Blonde Wig Of Valderrama' this is the most present with the village fanfare passing by, but in most others it just isn't. The instruments aren't always easily recognized either, stretching them out considerably, but sometimes they stay both very close to him, plink-plonk-bow away on their string instruments. I am not sure if the whole thing about geographical places and such is something I can relate to when hearing this music. Adding field recordings, soft as they might be, from such places as Bolivia, Myamnmar, Morocco, Cambodia, Laos and intertwine them with these carefully played improvisations may not be enough for that. When Amuleto blends in more electronics, such as in 'Kvakeri', there is also a bit more variation. All of this is well done, but still perhaps a bit too much on the careful side of things; and all of this perhaps a bit too much in quantity. (FdW)
Address: http://mazagran.org

EMISSATETT - QUI-PRO-QUO-DIS (CD by Schraum)
With this release we are in the company of the Cologne-based ensemble Emissatett. Led by Elisabeth Fügemann (cello), with Matthias Muche (trombone), Robert Landfermann (double bass), Philip Zoubek (prepared piano) and Etienne Nillesen (prepared snare drum, cymbals). They combine free improvisation (three tracks) with composed music (7 tracks). From what I understand Emissatett normally functions as a trio of cello, trombone and double bass. The prepared strings of Zoubek and Nillesen are added for this occasion, albeit not in all tracks. Compositions are by Fügemann. She originates from Dresden, but is based nowadays in Cologne where is very active on the local improve scene (Scott Fields, Carl Ludwig Hübsch, and many others), in a diversity of ensembles: cello quartet The Octopus, Peuker 8, Trio CEL, etc. If I’m not mistaken there is room for improvisation in some of these compositions as well. So investigation on combining composed and improvised music is one of their aims. In 10 pronounced pieces they present a rewarding and satisfying kind of chamber music. Whether improvised or composed, all pieces have a remarkable internal structure. The cello by Fügemann is prominent, but there is always room for the others. Exceptional is also the playing with colouring and the timbres. Interesting and convincing debut! (DM)
Address: http://www.schraum.de

THE SET ENSEMBLE - STOPCOCK (CD by Consumer Waste)
Along the lines of ensembles that perform more open-ended scores, The Set Ensemble seems to be a new name. The cover says 'on this occasion the Set Ensemble were', which implies that membership isn't restricted to the seven players mentioned here. Besides their usual instruments a food is also listed for each player, for the performance of Patrick Farmer's 'This Has Already Had A History (2b)', which calls for 'initiate the decay/transformation/disintegration' of one or two objects. Each of the pieces is described on the cover, which is always a good thing. The players are Patrick Framer (open cd players, loudspeakers, objects, dried mango), Bruno Guastaala (cello, carrot), Sarah Hughes (zither, yo yo bear for kids), Dominic Lash (contrabass, banana), Samuel Rodgers (piano, electronic, apple), David Stent (guitar, banana) and Paul Whitty (electronics, apple). Each of the six pieces was composed by one of these members, and is noted as such on the cover. The pieces may be 'composed' but calls for a more open-ended interpretation, I guess. Without wanting to spoil the actions, as outlined in the liner notes that come along here, it's of course hard to say if the performance is good or bad based on what you read here. There is a very curious drone piece, composed by Guastalla, which works with three long chords, interacting with each other, but also with the other players; it has a fine heavy character to it. One of the two pieces by Dominic Lash called 'For Six' also a drone like quality to it, but it less rough and more refined, and for me is the best on this release. Farmer's eating piece is on the other very quiet, but perhaps to eat a banana in the time span of ten minutes is not easy? Here we find some great electro-acoustic quality to the music. The shortest piece is '360 sounds' in which everybody one sound per second for a full minute, but without any synchronization it lasts just a bit over a minute. The liner notes indicate that the piece was not played according to full satisfaction. Very quiet is also the piece by Paul Whitty, which the liner notes describe some as playing 'extremely quiet… as abrasive as possible'. It works really well, but turn up the volume. The only piece that didn't do much for me was the opening piece by Sarah Hughes, which seemed for me too much along the lines of more regular improvised music. Nice but I enjoyed the others simply more than this. All in all a fine product of contemporary composed music. (FdW)
Address: http://consumerwaste.org.uk/

WILL MONTGOMERY - THE CRYSTAL AT THE LIPS (CD by Organized Sound From Thessaloniki)
Over the years I didn't review a lot of music by Will Montgomery, despite his releases on Entr'acte, Winds Measure, Every Contact Leaves A Tree, Cathnor and nonvisualobjects. In fact only a release from the latter I found in my database, and that's from a long time ago, Vital Weekly 632. At one point, even much longer ago, he was a member of Cosmonauts Hail Satan. On his new CD he has two pieces, which are almost of the same length. In the first he performs two scores by Wandelweiser composer Manfred Werder at the same time. Wandelweiser composers include Antoine Beuger and Burkhard Schlothauer (both are also founders of the group) but also Michael Pisaro and Radu Malfatti, among many others. In general their pieces are very quiet, taking a cue from Cage's '4'33'. In '2012(2) And 2012(4)' by Manfred Werder, in which the score is a series of words, Montgomery selects field recordings and mumbling of words. It starts out quiet but slowly amasses more sounds and it becomes a multi-layered (super imposed is no doubt the word these composers use) play of outdoor sounds and poetic mumbling. It's not so much a narrative as well as a stream of the unconsciousness and makes up a very refined piece of field recordings. In 'Filtrate', Montgomery processes a location recording made by Kostis Kilymis 'that blended acoustic feedback tines with the ambient sounds at hand. Montgomery proceeds to strip away ambient elements in the recording and to emphasise the presence of human intervention in the arcs of the feedback that appear'. I must admit I have no clear picture of how that works exactly; I do however know it sounds very good. Here too we have certain refinement in the piece, even when it is of an entirely different nature than the other one; it's not a work of shifting sine wave like sounds, even when it seems so from time to time; it seems to have much more tranquillity, with moments of quietness thrown in between . It is a highly sparse piece of music and as such it works really well. (FdW)
Address: http://thesorg.noise-below.org

Z'EV & KARL J. PALOUCEK - CITIES & RAILS (CD, private)
Here is an extended collaboration between Karl J. Paloucek (formerly of Fuckface, Boy Dirt Car and Impact Test and Violent Femmes) and Z'EV, percussionist extra ordinary. Paloucek already surprised us with a great release, 'Sail' (see Vital Weekly 949), which was all about the studio trickery applied to piano sounds; a bit like Mnemonists did, ages ago, with deconstructing the sounds of a rock group. Here no rock group, but one track by Paloucek, in which he sounds like Z'EV himself, with a lot of rattling of metal and three deconstructions by Z'EV of this particular piece. In the final piece roles are reversed and Paloucek treats three recordings from three different cities that Z'EV made. Although best known for his percussion work, Z'EV is also a composer of electronic music, and that's what he does on this release with the sound material by Paloucek. In his original Paloucek works with the ringing of metallic sounds, which slowly amass more and more space. Z'EV works with these sounds by taking them apart and stretching them out beyond the ringing of the metal, or anything remotely reminding us of something rhythmic. Stretched out these become a ringing and singing, part ambient and part industrial sound piece. In Paloucek's reworking of recordings made by Z'EV things start out very softly but slowly starts building. It's hard to say to what extent Paloucek did anything at all. One could perhaps see this also as a layering of various recordings of Z'EV's percussion work, amassing more and more sound, building towards a mighty crescendo, which sounds very much like an old Z'EV recordings - hence perhaps the confusion I have over this. This is a great work, five beautiful pieces, but it lacks somehow the blow from 'Sail', but maybe that is a hard one to follow indeed. (FdW)
Address: http://www.karljpaloucek.com/

HOUR HOUSE - CHILTERN (LP by Penultimate Press)
Here is the official debut of Hour House, a duo consisting of Mark Leacy and Sam Kenna. They were members of Castings, out of Newcastle, but they are now based in Melbourne. They use field recordings, electronics, samples, guitars, voice and 'atmospherics' to create their dark music. The cover looks like that out of the world of fantasy. Surely there is also something that we could consider fantasy music, but usually that is either covered by metal music, prog rock, cosmic synth music and soundtracks. The music produced by Hour House is maybe to be ranked as 'soundtrack' music. It's not so much creating suspense/spooky atmospheres through the use of musical instruments (as would maybe the case with the other musical genres), but put to those along with field recordings and acoustic objects to create a haunted house experience - it must be the name also they choose that helps when writing reviews like this. And then sometimes it unfolds into a song, with what seems to be a zither and a voice, half way between singing and reciting towards the end of the first side. There are track titles mentioned here, but it's hard to say where one stops and the next one starts. I am sure that is intentional: to add to the mystery of the music and the overall product. One could say this is pretty much a cliché: some squeaky door, water, walking around a wooden floor, along with processed bell sounds, the cello bow on a guitar and a distracted zither somewhere. Yes, that leads up to some eerie, haunted house music (come to think of it: that could be a genre by itself, next to witch house; unless those damn gothics thought of this before), but in defence of Hour House, I think they perform their job very well. There is quite some imagination in this music, flowing from piece to piece, so a story unfolds right before your ears. Perfect radio phonic experience. I'd be curious to hear whatever they are up to and if their radio phonic approach works as well overall. This record is for sure a most promising start. (FdW)
Address: http://penultimate-press.blogspot.co.uk

SATURN AND THE SUN - JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF YOUR MIND (LP by Bocian Records)
ROBERT PIOTROWWICZ - STARA SZKOLA ZE ZLOTA (12" by Bocian Records/Musica Genera)
Behind Saturn And The Sun we find Joachim Nordwall (of Skull Defekts among many other things, including his Ideal Recordings label) and Henrik Rylander (mostly known by his own fame, but also from Skull Defekts and ages ago from Union Carbide Productions) and they foromed a new alliance. This is their first release; the other new release is reviewed below. You may know I remarked that since Bocian was revitalized (and must on speed: they release so much now) that there is a tendency towards the more improvised music part of the world and less to the more radical electronic music. This (and the next) sets the balance a more straight, I should think. In Rylander's own music there is a lot of minimalist rhythms, in Nordwall's music there is quite some (loud) drones. I am not sure what the division of labour is here, between these two men, but if there was a fight over what to do, Nordwall may have won. As these things go, there are long pieces on this record. One piece is to be found on the first side and two on the other. In all three of these we have a mighty fine loud drone of analogue synthesizers humming away, feeding through more sound effects, effectively transferring this into a loud (not harsh) drone wall. This is best enjoyed when you decide to turn up the volume quite a bit and let yourself fully immersed by this. The title piece on the first side is loud and has very minimal changes: it's more like an excursion into sheer stasis. 'Obsessions' has the swelling and decaying of drones, which makes this sound almost like 'song'. Here too, it's all very minimal however. 'Inner Eye' seems to follow a similar trajectory of cascading oscillator waves, but is just a bit louder, with a small tendency towards overload and feedback. This is no record for the weak minded.
On a 12" (at 45 rpm) we find music from Robert Piotrowicz, who might be one of the first to release on Bocian Records, or at least when I got to know the label. In his work analogue synthesizers (of the modular variety), guitars and computers play an important role. Here he has a 12" sized vinyl, on 45 rpm, with one piece per side. The title translates as 'Old School Made Of Gold' and is more sonic extremism from Piotrowicz. On 'Calamitas' he has a piece of moving synthesizer lines going in and out of sync of each other, but over longer courses, so that a rhythm is hardly present, but it's more a variation of pitches. Quite an uneasy piece if you ask me. 'Ice Walk' starts out with a very slow rhythm, to which he slowly starts adding more and more menacing drones. With Piotrowicz the drones a more defined I think than with Saturn And The Sun, who erect a black wall with no shades, and Piotrowicz it's all-more about various shades of black and grey. There is an underpinning menace to this music and changes in pitches, but only towards the end. Very uneasy music. It's not loud per se, but it's noise for sure. It's music that requires attention for the brutal details that lie in there, but when you do listen closely it unfolds great beauty. (FdW)
Address: http://www.bocianrecords.com

ARTIFICIAL MEMORY TRACE - AMFIBION (CDR by Flaming Pines)
Releases by Artificial Memory Trace are never short. Slavek Kwi loves to use the length of the medium he's using. 'Amfibion' is not different, being 79 minutes in length. It contains sounds recorded in the Amazon in the years 2007 to 2011. It's material he already used to quite some extent, but there is more to be explored in there, as he proofs here. It's never easy to say what Kwi does with his sound material. Sometimes I'd like to believe he doesn't do anything at all to the original sounds, other then putting a few events back to back. But on this new work I somehow find that hard to believe. 'Amfibion (part 2)', the shortest piece of the two (twenty minutes) sounds like it's been fed through some mild ring modulation or another sound effect of some kind, which gives the piece quite a hollow sounding effect and there might also be other computer effects in play here. It's actually quite good, as it seems indeed something different from Artificial Memory Trace. The nearly hour long part one of this piece might all be with natural sounds, but somehow Kwi knows how to select those that sound electronic at the same time. He applies his usual start/stop technique from time to time, cutting a sound out and then suddenly moves into something else. There is, from time to time, quite a bit of bass-end used. But as said, for all I know, I would not be surprised to learn that a lot of electronics were used, especially, again, when it concerns the low-end of the music. It is the sort of stuff that leaves me puzzled, when listening to the music. Part 1 sounded more like what we already know from Artificial Memory Trace; I couldn't help thinking this, but at the same time the radical frequency treating of those field recordings and the repeating small sounds made this is also in another fascinating listening trip. (FdW)
Address: http://flamingpines.com

CLINTON GREEN & BARNABY OLIVER - DISCRETIONS (CDR by Shame File Music)
From down under we have two musicians of the die-hard improvisation scene here: Clinton Green and Barnaby Oliver. I must admit I think I never heard of the latter. Over the course of forty- two minutes they have thirty pieces, the shortest four seconds and the longest close to six minutes. The idea is that one plays this in a random order, and to that end there is also a free web-app version available; perhaps for anyone without a CD player. The cover is all handmade, by Tasmanian artist Anna Dusk. No instruments are mentioned on the cover, but the information says that Green plays guitar and prepared turntables, but also objects such as bowls, cups and small drums. No instruments are mentioned for Oliver. The music is very direct: a microphone is set up in the middle of the space and around are two people generating sound in a very acoustic way. Lots of objects being played rather hectically, scratching and scraping is all around here. There doesn't seem to be any electronics here. The nice thing is that at times it seems one long session being chopped up into various blocks of sound and it might have been one piece, but if you listen more closely, these pieces appear to be rounded off. Some of this are still stuck in the phase of 'ideas' and 'sketches', especially the shorter the pieces are, which makes it perhaps also a bit too sketchy over all; some selection could have been applied and it would have made a stronger album. But you can apply that with a bit of programming and enhance the do it yourself aspect of this. (FdW)
Address: http://shamefilemusic.com

SATURN AND THE SUN - HARSH REALITIES, BROKEN BONES AND SKULL TONES (cassette by The Tapeworm)
MARK VAN HOEN - THE WORCESTER TAPES, 1983-1987 (cassette by The Tapeworm)
MARK FELL FEATURING RHODRI DAVIES, OKKYUNG LEE - A PATTERN FOR BECOMING (cassette by The Tapeworm)
This trio of new releases on The Tapeworm, in some (or all) ways an off-shoot of Touch, concentrating on the release of cassettes only, kicks off with four untitled pieces by Saturn And The Sun, see also elsewhere (and whose complete output so far is then as such reviewed in this issue) for that extra bit of information. More drones of extreme sustaining tones, amplified to the max… well, relatively speaking. These boys love their noise surely, but their interest is not, and that's great, in the production of more harsh noise walls. As said when writing about their LP, this is all loud, but not too much, even when I can imagine one should play this loud. I envisage that they sit together, find a few sounds that 'work' well together and then set about to record a piece of a specific time; that, or they cut down their piece once they have enough playing it. There is not a lot of difference between the pieces on the LP and on the cassette, which makes then all together quite some heavy drone music for about eighty minutes in total. That might be quite a lot to play in one go, but I experienced it as pleasantly forceful music.
No regular visitor when it comes to new releases being reviewed in these pages is Mark van Hoen. He worked as Locust for R&S records, but also produces techno music as Autocreation and Involution. I mostly remember his solo album on Touch and the Aurobindo: Involution on Ash International, but that's already close to twenty years ago (reviewed in Vital Weekly #3; and this 1000 minus 3, quelle coincidence). For his release on The Tapeworm he went back to tapes from his earliest days, recorded as a teenager in the 80s, when he was living in the city of the same name as the title of the tape. The most recent piece on this tape is to be found on the first side, and takes it all up. It's from 1987 and still quite a few years away from his first official release. This is a piece of ambient music in the best Brian Eno tradition: long sustaining tones from synthesizers and an occasional sparse piano note. The other side has more pieces and which are all shorter (obviously), more 'pop' length and carrying bits of rhythm here and there, but also primitive forms of sampling, such as in 'Stone Fiddle', which is where he takes apart a folk song and plays it around in a Steve Reich like manner, but much more playful. It's not too difficult to see some forecast in some of these pieces to the later Aurobindo work. These are actually all already quite mature pieces, even when it all sounds a bit dated by now, but as little pieces of experimental and electronic music they all work quite well. Its interesting material that we have if one wants to study the career path of Van Hoen. This should be on CD one day!
Music by Mark Fell is also not always reviewed - we simply have the wrong connections; or at least not the overworld. The last time wasn't certainly twenty years ago. Fell was a member of the influential duo SND and then went on an interesting career programming software to play some highly rhythmic music and as such he's quite at the forefront of todays laptop music (I saw a video of a recent concert of his, which sounded great, but looked poorly on the 'performance' aspect). Here he has a piece for seven moving speakers; in each of these speakers there is a different, static, synthetic tone. The speakers are around the audience and moved around by performers (which are:  Amy Kate Riach, Oliver Coates, Tom Rose, Na’ama Zisser, Rian Treanor, Galya Bisengalieva, Daniel Pioro, Hugh Brunt and Robert Ames). On both sides there is also a credit for Rhodri Davies (side A) and Okkyung Lee (side B), but the information doesn't reveal what their involvement is. Davies plays harp, and Lee plays cello, and their playing is incorporated in these pieces. I am not sure why that would have been necessary, as the outline of Fell's idea, speakers moved around through space, sounded interesting enough. I kind of imagined something along the lines of Gordon Monahen's 'Speaker Swinging', but then perhaps at much slower pace. But now these static tones are pushed away and the soloist is in the middle playing improvised tones. Lee does that in a hectic and nervous way, and doesn't do much for me, but in the version with Davies we hear a bit more of the static tones, and Davies adds more controlled harp sounds to it, making this quite an intense piece, which works best at a somewhat louder volume. This is something I would have liked to see in concert, to witness myself how it works. (FdW)
Address: http://www.tapeworm.org.uk/






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