Number 1397

MELTING MIND – AT GRND ZERO (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
JOHN WIESE – MAGNETIC STENCIL 1 (LP by Gilgongo Records) *
JOHN WIESE – MAGNETIC STENCIL 2 (LP by Gilgongo Records) *
JOHN WIESE – MAGNETIC STENCIL 3 (LP by Gilgongo Records) *
A:M:B – PHARMATRANCE (CDR by Klappstuhl) *
ILLUSION OF SAFETY – ORGAN CHOIR DRONE (cassette by No Part Of it) *
TERTIUM QUID (CDR by Complacency) *
LIMINAL HAZE / BUCK MOON (split cassette by Human Geography Records) *
AYAMI SUZUKI – PASSAGES (cassette by Rohs! Records/Lontano) *


Following his ‘Seven Signals In The Sky’, here’s another (the thirteenth) one for Laaps records by Bernard Zwijsen, also known as Sonmi451. He also had releases on U-Cover, Slaapwel Records, Time Released Sounds, and Eilean Rec. but I think I only heard a few. The new album continues the musical route he took on the previous album. Armed with a bunch of hardware synthesizers, effects and samplers and software versions of those (a list for those interested can be found on Bandcamp), he creates nine pieces of ambient music. Heavy on the atmosphere and soundscape. As before, voices play a significant role, even when only whispering. That adds to the intimacy of the music but can be a bit much at times. Words or lyrics may not have a particular meaning, and they add to the atmosphere of the music. As before, again, the music has a strong cosmic character, and nothing here suggests anything lo-fi, dirty or even analogue, save, maybe, for sampling some acoustic sources in the music. Before, I detected a hint of graininess in the music, but perhaps they have disappeared now; or moved even further away in the music. Moody and dark music, sure, but I’d say not without a glimmer of hope and light. I believe it is Sonmi451’s idea to play ‘nice music’ rather than depict an overtly dark world. Music that pleases, and it does that. I was re-reading my previous review (Vital Weekly 1298), and I wrote, “It is rainy here today, a bit cold for the summer (and I know unlike many other places), which I enjoy, and this is one excellent soundtrack for such a slow and somewhat colder day. Music colours the day according to the drifting clouds overhead; sometimes greyish and something bright blue”. Oddly enough, it feels like no time passed since today feels like the same day, a bit of rain mixed with a bit of sun, not necessarily a slow day, but with music such as by Sonmi451, it feels like time slows anyway. Excellent feeling. (FdW)
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MIGUEL A GARCIA – ERAGINIE (CD by Cronica Electronica)

Miguel A. García is an artist living in Bilbao who works in experimental music and sound art. He is active in various groups or collectives and is also known under his other project name, Xedh. In another life, for another magazine (back in 2010), I got to review his release “Vinduskarm” on the Athens-based Triple Bath label (whatever happened to them?). In that review, I wrote, “The tracks form a nicely composed soundscape ranging from the watery sound of children’s toys to somewhat more harsh sounding noise. At no moment, it gets dull or boring.” That was a CD with seven tracks, and “Eraginie” is a four track CD under his own name. Many differences, though the previous conclusion, ‘at no moment it gets dull or boring,’ remains.
    Miguel’s music is ‘based on electroacoustic composition, using as the main medium waste from electronic devices’ combined with ‘field recordings and acoustic instruments’. And as we all know by now, it’s in the ear of the beholder what is done with it and what it turns into. “Vri Seg” opens the album quite chaotic with a lot of time-based manipulations; That is, the manipulations are static, yet they are implemented on sounds for a smaller period. The composition gets a bit erratic, but it’s what it’s meant to be. In “Harmattans”, the erratic behaviour is better placed and timed (as well as faded in and out), creating a more coherent flow. When in the end, the sounds of (almost) real instruments enter the composition, it gets an unworldly feeling.
    The third track, “Roh”, builds on microtonal and micro rhythmic differences and adds to the chaotic feeling from the first track. Out of the perspective of getting relaxed, it’s my least favourite track of the album, but because it made me feel uncomfortable, it also emphasizes its strength. But, then the fourth and final “Stellaire”. It seems to be built from classical themes combined with Miguel’s method as basics for this album. The microtonal and micro rhythmic manipulations also find their place in this, and as the title suggests: It’s stellar. “Eraginie” is a lovely album and a must-hear for the electroacoustics. (BW)
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From the American composer Hali Palombo I reviewed some works before, which I enjoyed, but I don’t know too much about how she works. I learned from her last work, ‘Infinity Room’ that she uses a lot of shortwave radio, cylinder records and 78 rpm records, and this new work seems to extend that. This time she also uses piano, guitar and saxophone. You’d say with such a title it also includes her voice, and maybe it does; it’s not mentioned. Eight pieces of music, clocking in at thirty-six minutes, making this not a very long album. The extension of sound sources along with the radio transmissions give the music a broadder, more musical appeal. Sometimes these radio voices come with a fine amount of reverb, making it sound as coming from centuries ago. A sort of ballroon effect, a radio play from the thirties. In ‘Voice Scrambler’ we have that effect but along with, indeed, a voice scrambler, adding, perhaps, also a futurist element. With a nice if not a bit long of a melody loop to back it up. That happens in some other tracks too, loops overstaying their welcome, such as in ‘CRY2001’. But throughout I found this a most enjoyable album, with strong radiophonic qualities. Palombo has quite a bit of variation going here, a bit of rhythm here (in ‘Enrico’), a melody or noise there, such as in the long but great ‘Weather Balloon’, which has a fine complexity going of intercepted number stations (perhaps!), mixed along with material of a more plunderphonic nature. Music created with great care and depth and from the various releases I know from her, this is her best one yet. (FdW)
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The common factor here is Dirk Serries, who is present with his archtop guitar on the first and guitar on the second release. He recorded the trio disc in Rotterdam’s Le Sud on September 22, 2022. I think they were the only event on the bill, seeing the length of this disc. Two parts of ‘Le Sud’, totalling seventy-one minutes. That is a lot of improvised music; I hope there was a break. I took a break after the first one and heard something else before returning, but maybe that is not the intended way. Perhaps everything should be played in one go. Serries regularly collaborates with Taylor (viola), but Friso van Wijck seems new. He plays drums and percussion. When I was playing the first part, I thought this trio was on the quiet and reflective side, and maybe they would go all furious in the second part. They don’t. In both pieces, the silent approach is prevalent but not exclusive. They also for those mighty build-ups, the big crescendo, but because everything is acoustic is never very loud or noisy. They love their hectic and chaos, but here too, they use it modestly. I like this trio best when they exert control over their madness and perhaps add a musical touch, some continuous rhythm, or the melodic pluck, scratch and hit. Say, when the music is at its more conventional ground. I am sure that is not entirely the idea behind the music, which also contains many traditional improvised music grounds.
    Serries also regularly collaborates with Colin Webster, who gathered a large ensemble. Take a deep breath, and we find Webster on alto saxophone, Rachel Musson on tenor sax, Cath Roberts on baritone sax, Charlotte Keeffe on trumpet and flugelhorn, Graham Dunning on electronics, John Edward on bass and Andrew Lisle on drums; I already mentioned the guitar of Serries. They had their first meeting on August 21 2022, at Cafe Oto and played two sets (well, two sets made it to this disc; maybe they played more?). With this release, we leave anything even remotely reflective, say goodbye to the carefully played subtleties of the trio disc and welcome sixty-seven minutes of full-on hardcore free jazz improvisation. Not something of a speciality for me or possess any knowledge of. It is also not the kind of thing I want to hear all day or even every day. I said this before, but I’m sure repeating can’t hurt, but just like with noise music, I can take in and enjoy these things in a minimal dose. The wind instruments of the Colin Webster Large Ensemble sometimes become a bit too much, but the energy in action here makes up for it. Most of the time, this ensemble rambles on, on no end, and I imagine there is much exhaustion with the players. But the listeners, that night at Cafe Oto or home (certainly when played loud) might also encounter some fatigue following the concert/CD. I went out for a short walk and no music and returned refreshed. (FdW)
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In exactly ten years and three months to the date I am writing these words, I will receive the official Dutch state pension thing, allowing me, I hope, to never work again. I leave it open for now if that means ending Vital Weekly. Still, I can see some benefits of not having to work and devote my entire time to doing what I love most: listening to music, reading books (on a vast number of non-fictional topics) and, maybe, just maybe, doing a bit of music myself and going through every book and record that I have, real and digital ones. This intro is to say I love reading, and as such, ‘All Along The Way’ is the perfect thing for me—an odd-sized book, 15×14 centimetres, with 370 pages of text. From May 5 to June 30 2022, Kahn travelled through the USA and Canada and played thirty-seven solo concerts in what he describes as “bars, clubs, art spaces, galleries, museums, book stores, diners, basements, record stores, churches, people’s living rooms and Fraternal Order of Eagles lodges”. Two concerts, from Portland and Chicago, are on the enclosed CD. This time, Kahn uses a modular synthesizer, mixing board, tube amplifier, electromagnetic transducers and contact microphones. In addition, before every show, he made local radio and field recordings, incorporating these into the music. Now that’s one of the things I like about Jason Kahn. In his recent work/releases, he used a lot of voice material (his voice, to be precise), but none of that on the music here. In both pieces, Kahn freely improvises with the material, scratching and peeping, bursting with small sound explosions, moments of quietness mixed with field recordings of people speaking, and a poorly tuned radio (intentional, of course). But with minor changes, the recording from Chicago seems quite more chaotic than Portland, in which he spaces out his sound. I believe it’s not an easy task to come up with thirty-seven variations, and while I have no time to hear them all, it is undoubtedly tempting to attend all the concerts – maybe when I retire (and Kahn is willing to share them).
    When I retire might also be the opportunity to re-read his book, which I am only partly into. Written after he returned means the man kept a diary or has a stunning memory. In a matter-of-fact account, he details his trip, the food he ate, the scenery, the people he met and critiques the music on the same night, all in a frank and open manner. Noteworthy is also that he also recounts previous occasions he was in a place with the people he was back then and how locations change. With small audiences most of the nights (so far as I read, of course), you could wonder what the point of making such an extended solo trip is, but it’s a worthwhile read, especially as it is all about his return to playing concerts post Covid-19. In that sense, this is a document of this time, one we may wonder about in years to come. Say, by the time most of us also retired. (FdW)
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It is not every day that mail arrives from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, not a city and country I readily associate with weird music, but who knows? I believe a vast amount of music in unlikely countries is waiting to be heard. I had not heard of Reverse Image before, but perhaps that was already implied. She uses, according to the information, analogue and digital equipment, “looking for the intersection between repetitive motifs and disjointed incidences” and that “the title is inspired by the search for moments of silence amidst the discord”. There isn’t much silence on her record, but that’s ok. Her pieces are between a mere minute and just over four, and there are thirteen in total, which means there is some fine fast pacing in the music. Each of these pieces is a minimalist exploration of sounds, and these are generally from a noisy end of the spectrum, without anything becoming really loud noise. Loop-like without things becoming too much of a repetition, these pieces contain analogue and digital sounds, and sometimes it is not easy to tell the difference, which is part of the fun. In each piece, there is repetition, minimalist changes, and ambient industrialist machine sounds being shaken and stirred, and because nothing lasts very long, it never becomes dull. Sometimes she uses samples and plays these on a keyboard so that a melodic touch appears, such as in ‘Nature Unhinged’. Maybe the way Reverse Image is a bit single-minded, but with the album being forty-one minutes, this is not a big deal. I can imagine if this was longer, it could be a problem. Quite a furious little thing this, more discord than silence, so in that sense, there is something a bit lost here, but alas, such is as it is. Very nice album. (FdW)
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From both Ulher and Leonardson, I reviewed music before, more from the first than the latter. Luther plays the trumpet, radio, speaker, objects and Leonardson springboard, objects, and electronics. For me, unknown Carol Genetti gets credit for voice and objects. These musicians have known each other since the late 1990s, but it was only in 2018 that they played together at Elastic Arts in Chicago. It’s a recording from this evening that we find on this release, spread over three tracks. I know Ulher and Leonardson as improvising musicians using instruments as instruments and as objects. Their music is, at times, more akin to that of electro-acoustic music and with the addition of Genetti, this is not different. In these pieces, Genetti’s abstract vocal sounds add texture to the music, and while in ‘Vertical Shifts’ she stays perhaps on a more predictable vocal improvisation, in the other pieces, there is more of a levelling with the others in terms of making strange textures and atmospheric sounds, which sound scratchy and bumpy. The uneven terrain of the objects amplified and became a rocky road. Sometimes the trumpet becomes a trumpet, but most of the time, that is not the case. A bit hectic, and chaos is never far away. Still, it is also about the microscopic changes in sound, which makes this a wonderfully engaging release that could and should appeal to anyone who has an extensive interest in electro-acoustic music, in improvisation and a damn fine combination of both ends culminating in introspective yet wild music. That may seem strange, but this trio proves it can deliver some great results. (FdW)
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This is Eva-Maria Karbachers first solo album. She uses solely the soprano saxophone, extended with a damper, to get highly unusual effects from playing. Watching a few videos of her playing the soprano saxophone, she uses circular breathing quite often and for an extended period, especially in the last piece: A New Course of Action. This enables her to produce sound without the need to get air through the mouth. Instead, the nose is used to get air and simultaneously puff out forcefully with the cheeks the last bit of air in the mouth, thus creating no gap in sound. Three pieces on this release. The longest is a whopping 21 minutes. Longer melody lines are intertwined with sound effects she can produce because of the damper in the sax’s bell. Multiphonics (multiple tones at the same time), tremolos, squeaks, whales, and guttural flattering sounds are enhanced by the damper. It’s all skillfully (and tastefully) used to significant effect. That brings me to the ochotona in the title. Also called pikas – Pikachu, the famous Pokémon is based on the animal – or whistling hares; these animals live in North America and Asia. A subspecies live in the Himalayas, over 6000 meters above sea level. Karbacher draws from various sources: blues, folky scales, and classical music to create an ever-changing sound world. Sometimes it sounds as if there’s a dialogue between two instruments. A longer melody is interjected with squeals, not unlike the ochotona from the title. The second piece takes it down a notch but only in certain more extended moments. ‘Ochotona Dreams’ sounds peaceful but sometimes like a nightmare, as if the ochotona is chased by an animal of prey. Karbacher keeps things quite interesting by developing small units of melody, extending them into longer lines, and coming back to them while spicing things up with squeals and wails. Because of that, a fair warning: don’t listen to this on headphones with a high volume. Karbacher is a talented musician, displaying all her talents in this release. (MDS)
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MELTING MIND – AT GRND ZERO (CD by Relative Pitch Records)

31 minutes of ear-piercing noise by Melting Mind. Based in Italy, this quartet played a concert in Lyon at Ground Zero. According to the Bandcamp page, the show lasted 90 minutes, and only 30 minutes got recorded because one forgot to flip the tape. This is the first release on CD; all previous music has been released on cassette, in line with the history of noise music in general. Now who are these four people that form Melting Mind? Well, they are Virginia Genta (amplified and processed sopranino saxophone), Michele Mazzini (electric guitar, electronics), David Vanzan (electronics) & Matteo Poggi (electronics). All hail from Italy. This is absolutely not Manon-friendly music. My wife can handle some noise, but she would cover her ears and ask me very nicely to turn off that noise. To my ears, this is wonderful; although it’s cut short, the message is the medium. Listen carefully, and you can hear the sopranino (although amplified & processed electronically). It’s not a complete wall of sound. It would certainly seem so on a high volume, but different nuances and tones are going up or down to be heard. I found this quite an enjoyable release. It’s in-your-face (ears), no bars hold with no compromises to the audience. It must have been quite the experience in Lyon that evening the concert was held. Kudos to Relative Pitch for getting this out to a broader public in the open. (MDS)
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Andy Ortmann owns Nihilist Records, of whom we also reviewed The New Blockaders and Diana Rogerson’s works last week. And before I say anything about the music on this album, I would love to show you a bit of the inside of my head. Because when I read the title of this impressive triple vinyl totalling over two hours of music, I was thinking about something completely different. So: What is psychoacoustic music, and how do psychoacoustic electronics fit into the perspective of the music found on this album?
    Having had no education in art or audio, I’ve always labelled psychoacoustics as sounds or music that had an imminent impact on the various thought waves in the human brain. And when it is in the form of sonic art (I’ll leave the term ‘music’ out of the equation), it would come close to, for example ‘, Meontological Research Recordings’ or Burning Water by T.A.G.C. I admit, both are amongst my absolute favourites, which was why the title triggered so much in my head. With the sound of what I hoped I was getting, the term ‘Electronics’ also has added energy. Since I have experience in electronics, I know there are electronic circuits that bring forth the most beautiful sounds. From everything possible, just look at the documentary on the soundtrack of ‘Forbidden Planet’ where Louis and Bebe Barron make all the electronics to generate the sounds for the first complete electronic movie soundtrack.
    So with both ‘Psychoacoustic’ and ‘Electronics’ being defined in my mind, I was expecting something other than what this album turned out to be. Please be aware that I have not given any opinion on the quality of this release so far. But you have to understand what’s in my mind.
    Wash your brains, think again, double-check.
    You could also see this as another inroad to the world inhabited by the Schimpfluch musicians. I always imagine these musicians executing actions involving body and movement, which are captured by a microphone, preferably on a real tape. Yet, the music resulting from such actions is not a document of the action; it’s source material. Just as with musique concrète, the tapes get cut up, slowed down, sped up, reversed, and in any other way altered. Andy Ortmann may be doing this too (I am unsure; I don’t know if he has a similar point of departure), chopping up chunks of tape and mixing these results into new compositions. There is also something that separates him from the Schimpfluch people: his extensive use of electronics and his penchant for longer sounds. That makes the music sound more like documentation but, at times, more like a radio play, which is not uncommon in the world of this kind of music. There is a lot to hear on these 3 LPs; electronic sounds, voices, sounds from vinyl (Ortmann worked as Panicsville at one point, delivering a more plunderphonic version of his music), and collage-like, cut-up styled pieces. The psychoacoustic element may be more in his head than in ours, and whatever it does or doesn’t, the music comes across as a great one. Ominous sounds, haunting, weird sounds from times perdu, add to the vagueness of the whole affair. Think Nurse With Wound, think The Hafler Trio and Rudolf and maybe you have an idea there?
    The whole set is one long therapeutic session, but are we cured? (BW/FdW)
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JOHN WIESE – MAGNETIC STENCIL 1 (LP by Gilgongo Records)
JOHN WIESE – MAGNETIC STENCIL 2 (LP by Gilgongo Records)
JOHN WIESE – MAGNETIC STENCIL 3 (LP by Gilgongo Records)

When cassette culture became a thing in the 80s, there were close ties to the world of the world of mail art. The sort of friendly exchange of images and objects expanded to the world of music. When Germany’s P16.D4 invited Smegma for a music piece for a compilation, they offered some basic sound material which the Germans would finish into a new piece of music. The idea for ‘Distruct’ was born, distant structures, an LP with all sorts of sounds from musicians worldwide, mixed into some great works of musique concrète-styled industrial music. Others followed (Kapotte Muziek), but later, the idea seemed to have gone away. This is odd since, in the internet world, one believes it is easier to send sounds around and make it all open, mixing multiple mixes from the same pool of material. In recent times Howard Stelzer used the old ideas again for several releases involving many musicians. He’s also part of the three albums called ‘Magnetic Stencil’, by John Wiese. Number two has sounds from four musicians, while one contains work from nine and number three is ten musicians. The label says they provide additional sounds, so there is also input from the composer, John Wiese, who also designed the cover, with another nod to P16.D4/SBOTHI xerox art. The word ‘stencil’ in the title can be seen literally; sounds used as stencils to paint something here and there leave various imprints of varying depths. That doesn’t mean that this is a retro project of any kind. Whereas the works were shorter before, Wiese spread his music far and wide. Each side contains an endless stream of sounds, and you could try to figure out what is here is from, say, Joe Potts, Robert Turman, Dennis Tyfus, or Katie Vonderheide (to mention a few involved), but it is an impossible task. I blame the technology. Whereas P16.D4 worked with limited technical means and four-track machines, I think Wiese uses computer technology to amass many more sounds. If anything, the music is foremost dense, with lots of stuff happening everywhere. On the first LP, this results in a fast-paced collage of sounds, flying in and around, while on the second, it is as dense but sparser. Here, Wiese goes for a thick, swamp-like morass of sound, with, at times, a noisier approach, with distortion always around the corner. Perhaps oddly, the third LP has the most contributors, but it turns out that this is the most open one as the sounds are more defined. Lots of sounds of objects and instruments, sitting next to small blocks of electronics and effects. It also takes the form of a collage, but unlike ‘Magentic Stencil 1’, it is slower-paced and more detailed. Interestingly enough, all these LPs were recorded and mixed in a single day, which perhaps says something about the speed used by Wiese to create his music. A fast but secure worker and delivering three quite different albums, each of equally great quality. (FdW)
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A:M:B – PHARMATRANCE (CDR by Klappstuhl)

Following a recent 3″CDR on Klappstuhl with old recordings by Siegmar Fricke (under that name), there is now another historical release from Fricke as A:M:B, which is Fricke for all the sound and Heike Böhm on “voice & vocal parts”. ‘Pharmatrance’ is their second release, from 1998, following an album recorded in 1994 but released in 2006. Of both, Fricke now says they were more like demos, so from October 2022 to April 2023, he reworked the material into the released album. Fricke met Böhm in a music club, and he invited her for some spontaneous music sessions that included Fricke on the Solton Programmer 24, Doepfer MS404, Quasimidi Technox and Sequential Drumtracks. Heike added words and vocals, some of which were sampled, and the result is a typical 90s album of dance-inspired beats that, somehow, would never hit off on a dance floor, even when all the elements are there, save for that all too dominant 4/4 bass drum. Add to this a swirl of cosmic synthesizer bleeps and arpeggio, and there’s a well-enjoyable amount of what we called ‘armchair techno’ back then. I don’t think the words have a lot of meaning, but that’s based on listening and trying to decipher these. I learned that some of this is about “robotic medicine and digital handling we all have been experiencing much later, especially since 2020”, and this album could be filed under “tech-trance electro, medical ambient, neo futurism”. Some tracks appear in various mixes, which do not always differ much, which is perhaps a bit of this album’s downside. Pick your best ones out of these sixty-six minutes and enjoy a private party. (FdW)
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This CD is not a trio disc of people playing together, but rather two composers, Pierre Alexandre Tremblay and Sylvain Pohu, who composed a piece of music which Martin Daigle performs. Tremblay’s ‘La Rage’ (the rage) takes up forty-six minutes, and ‘Beat’ (no capital), by Pohu, just over ten minutes. In both pieces, Daigle uses his drum kit and electronics. Sometimes these electronics are triggered by the drums (more in ‘beat’ than in ‘La Rage’, it seems), but I think they are sometimes on a more stand-alone. I don’t know much about Pohu, but Tremblay is a composer of electro-acoustic music, with a release on Empreintes Digitales and contemporary jazz.
    Oddly enough, there isn’t much difference between both pieces. Both pieces sometimes sound like improvised music, especially in ‘La Rage’. Both scores call for extended techniques and materials to play the drums. From both pieces, there are videos of Daigle’s playing on the website mentioned here, and these are great pieces to view. In case you are wondering, it may also clarify these techniques. ‘beat’ also uses trigged video material, creating a total experience. ‘La Rage’ is a wild piece, obviously with such a title, with the music going all wild and quiet in seconds. With the electronics brewing and steaming, the work has an additional layer which works great. It becomes more than some wildly improvised drum material. ‘beat’ comes across as a similar piece but more organized, seemingly calling for more control. Overall I found this an exciting release, supported by the electronic part. (FdW)
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TERTIUM QUID (CDR by Complacency)

Here we three times Daniel Burke, best known as Illusion Of Safety’s leading man. We’ll get to a proper release by the mothership in a bit, but I like to start with the most recent release of the three, which is Burke together with Somnimagae label boss Mykel Boyd, who is also part of post-doom romance, The Anti Group. They started to work together many years ago, but for whatever undisclosed reasons, ‘Longform’ is their first release. There is no information on how Burke and Boyd work together, their instruments, and so on. My best guess is that they sit together in either of their studios with a bunch of modular synthesizers and other electronic devices and create long-form, indeed the word that is operative here, drone sounds, big organic clouds, massive dense blocks of deep synth stuff, adding a bit of shortwave on the go. Maybe this is the result of the two men together in a room for an hour, the length of this work, or maybe the end stage of meticulous editing and adding sounds, endlessly reworking ideas and moods. That part of the work is unclear and, perhaps, not the most important thing to know. The fact that they started years ago is irrelevant to the work. Maybe this is a highly successful hour-long session; if so, I’d say take this show on the road and do this in public. It works damn fine. If TAGC’s darkest music is in your playlist, try this one.
    It’s no big secret that I enjoy Illusion Of Safety’s music and have been doing it for years. While there are very few albums that are don’t favour, there are also a few that are easily in my top 100 best albums ever – and no, I don’t have a list. Last week I played ‘Cancer’, a CD from the early 1990s, and I mumbled what a great record that was. Each new work is welcomed with much anticipation, and ‘Organ Choir Drone’ is no different. It’s an album of recent music, and it’s unclear if it contains organs and choirs. Maybe there are heavily processed parts of the music. Drones, on the other hand, are definitely a part of this. All usual Illusion Of Safety elements appear on this album. Longform drone sounds, modular synthesis, small acoustic sounds, radio waves, and lots of obscured sounds result in moody and textured music. Dystopian perhaps, as shining also in the titles, ‘Children Of The Fear Of Light’, ‘Black Helicopters’, or ‘Waste Of Civiliation’. Some of these could be the title of a Stephen King novel. Dark and atmospheric as the music may seem, the overall goal isn’t to produce grim music; at least, that’s not how I perceive the music. I find these ominous dark soundscapes a true pleasure to hear, despite the grim undercurrent; another excellent addition to an otherwise already great catalogue.
    And finally, there is Tertium Quid. While I don’t want to make a habit of reviewing a release from 2010, I got this along with the other two. I also decided to review this because it is pretty different (and in the summertime, everything is a bit slower) from his other work. Tertium Quid is/was a trio of Burke on guitar, laptop, and processing, Dave Abramson on percussion, radio and objects and Bill Horist on guitars and devices. I heard of the last one but not of Abramson. He was/is a member of Master Musicians of Bukkake, and I have known him for a long time ago. The recordings were made in February 2008 in Seattle and see the trio in quite a free improvisation/rock mode. The opening piece, ‘Within Pocket Reach Of Mirth’, is a gentle strummed guitar piece. While I had not studied the cover closely, I assumed Tertium Quid might be Burke showing off his skills on the guitar (a similar piece is at the end of the release), but the other seven pieces have room for all three to shine. When two guitars are in play, along with the drums (in ‘No Response Necessary’), the trio sounds like conventional rockist free improvisation, with not enough room for some abstraction/weirdness, which, of course, the kind of thing that I like. I enjoy what I hear, even if the improvised side is not necessarily what I dig a lot. I believe this kind of music works best when experienced in a concert setting, beer in hand, and with the volume way more than one does at home. (FdW)
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LIMINAL HAZE / BUCK MOON (split cassette by Human Geography Records)

One of my favourite duos from the UK is Liminal Haze, Craig Stewart Johnson and Ross Scott-Buccleuch, splitting their cassette with Buck Moon, a German duo of J. Ménard and J. Flemming. All four musicians run their own labels (Invisible City Records, Steep Gloss, Grisaille and Econore, respectively), but this new release is by a label I had not heard of before; I love that there are so many labels around. Both acts deliver the goods, but I didn’t expect anything less. Liminal Haze is a master of all things dark and heavily atmospheric. Everything is rendered beyond recognition, with the two using analogue means, rusty tape loops, and down-pitched cassettes of the most obscure field recordings. The loops provide some kind of ‘rhythmic’ element or even a melodic touch in both parts that make up ‘XXXI’. With the torrential rain on this Sunday afternoon delivering some beautiful additional noises – I stopped Liminal Haze for a second to check if it wasn’t part of the music – this is the perfect soundtrack for such weather. Grey and misty. Which might also be the operative word for Buck Moon. These two men use guitars and electronics and play very moody music. Unlike Liminal Haze, however, the guitars aren’t obscured but, in fact, play some beautiful tones, which are transported through effects, creating depth and space, ringing nicely through. It’s not too difficult to hear a bit of Stars Of The Lid and Labradford in this piece, but that’s not a bad thing in my books; I love these bands, and Buck Moon knows how to stay away from a pure copy and have a bit of their own making in this piece. This, too, is the perfect soundtrack on a lazy Sunday afternoon. As I buried myself deep in a book, I had this cassette on repeat, lazy as I was to change the music into something else. (FdW)
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AYAMI SUZUKI – PASSAGES (cassette by Rohs! Records/Lontano)

From Ayami Suzuki, I reviewed several works, one solo (Vital Weekly 1365) and two collaborations with Leo Okagawa (1280) and Tetuzi Akiyama (1371). Here’s another solo release of this singer, who studied Celtic folk music. However, none of that we hear in the work she mails to Vital Weekly, and, frankly, I am happy with that as we’re no experts in that field. In the works she presents, voice is the starting point, feeding through effects. The same might be done with a guitar; at least, I was told earlier she uses one, but unlike the voice, the guitar is very much obscured on the music. On this cassette, we find four pieces, each around ten minutes, and we’re told it “is a journey through a transformative process that leads to a place where memories are gathered”. Maybe that sounds a bit hippy-dippy (for me, anyway), but the ambient music she produces is excellent. Each piece has only a minimal development, rocking quietly back and forth. In ‘Mugenkaidan’, the voice is doubled, tripled and becomes a choir of angels. Nice, but I prefer her more abstract ambient, such as the dark drones of ‘Silhouette’, or the same but mixed with voice loops in ‘Denkmal’. In ‘Claro’, the opening piece, she might have added field recordings, which might be deceptive. Maybe that is all voice material too. Creating ambient music using mainly voices is not something new or strange, but Ayami Suzuki builds on that tradition and finds her own voice (pun intended) there. (FdW)
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