Number 1398

GAGI PETROVIC – UNFOLD YOURSELF (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
SATØRI – THE WOODS (CD by Cold Spring Records) *
PLUS INSTRUMENTS – 79/80 (LP by Dead Mind Records) *
TBC_SEEMANN – GLASHAUS (CDR by Wachsender Prozess) *
DEPLETION – DECADENCE TRANSFER (cassette by Dark Passage Records) *
THOM ELLIOTT – PERFUME (cassette by Tribe Tapes) *
CACOPHONY ’33’ – METALLURGI (cassette by Tribe Tapes) *
MIGUEL A. GARCIA & MIKEL VEGA – EXPLETS (cassette by Crystal Mine) *
JAAP BLONK & MONTECLAVA – FAKE AIR (cassette by Music à la Coque) *

GAGI PETROVIC – UNFOLD YOURSELF (CD by Moving Furniture Records)

This is a new name on a well-known label for me. Let’s see how and what. Gagi Petrovic is a music teacher and producer in the broadest sense of the word. The well-written info-sheet tells me he writes music for others, for performances (dance and theatre), creates electro-acoustic albums and performs as a musician and singer-songwriter. So yeah, he has an extensive orientation. But a sentence in the info makes me curious: ‘Conceptually, his music often covers themes revolving around oppression, isolation, destruction and what it means to be free.’ And there it touches on the main description of this album, “Unfold Yourself” is a story about personal growth, taking care of your own mental health, and a reminder not to give up.
    The titles on the album are indeed the step taken when it comes to self-exploration and growth, being “Disrupt”, “Obstruct”, “Shatter”, “Rejuvenate”, “Illuminate”, “Erupt”, and “Arise”. A clearly described path, as you can see. And when it comes to the chosen sounds and patterns, it sort of fits. Where “Disrupt” is built from massive dark Moog-like tones, “Obstruct” has more sudden movements of a different origin and includes what seems to be – metallic percussion. “Shatter” has a rhythmic base and string manipulation, and during the 3:39 shortest track “, Rejuvenate”, minimal synths are played in combination with the sonar sound blip we already heard on track 2. For me: How parts of our past with which we struggle should remain part of who we’ve become.
    “Illuminate”, with its 15 minutes, is the most intriguing track because of its sounds. Light, high pitched initially, slowly settling in with a bowed guitar and then gradually turning into a beautiful ambient structure/composition. “Erupt” is kinda loud in a way, with sudden breaks in sound and harsh crossovers; it’s like Gagi wants to describe the moment of standing up after meditation, Screaming ‘I’m alive!’. The final track, “Arise”, is all about harmonics, harmonization of who we are and what we’ve become. The guitar melody at the end breaks the mood for me, but having said that, it’s not an album about who I have become. Another lovely release by our favourite little Amsterdam label. (BW)
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Although I didn’t investigate this, Germany’s Aussaat label seems to have a special relationship with Finnish musicians. Temple Of Tiermes also hails from the land with the many lakes, and as with many others on this label, I had not heard of Temple Of Tiermes before. It is the musical project of Jarkko Toivonen, who was before a member of the “cult black doom” (isn’t all doom black?) band Unholy. Toivonen uses “bowed 7-string guitars, analogue synths, metal percussion, gongs” and other unnamed instruments. While Aussaat is primarily known as a noise label, and some of the music on this CD is easily defined, I must say that the music is much more varied. We are not dealing with an album of pure noise. The music is more akin to old-school industrial music, with its fine wall of sound approach, tribalist drumming in the opening track ‘Black Axis’, or the somewhat mellow synth drones of ‘Passe Vuoksi’. The music is dark throughout, with some heavy bass rumbling (‘Muspel’) and without all too many high frequencies. There is not much feedback and distortion to report, except for ‘Bohu’, towards the album’s end, ending the album with a fierce bang, before slipping into the short ‘Ulos’, which sounds like a spaceship lift-off. Each track has minimal development; once Toivonen has the ball rolling, it rolls steadily. The whole album is a highly pleasurable dark trip. Not much the soundtrack of a beautiful sunny day in August, but rather something for dark and grey nights in December. That said, even today, sunny August, I am up for some dystopian nightmarish sounding album, but that’s because I love this noisy dark ambient. (FdW)
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For quite some time now, I have been reviewing music by the Polish composer Robert Piotrowicz; the first one was in Vital Weekly 460, although many of his releases reviewed are older. I don’t know much about the man and his music creation methods. Modular synthesis might be his most used instrument. In the three pieces that make up ‘Afterlife’, he uses a lot of sound from a church organ. Even when the pieces have different titles, it is easy to see a connection between them. The church organ is present in all but in varying degrees, colours and shapes. And much of that variation is due to how much he uses modular synthesis. From the information, I understand that he didn’t use any church organ recordings but that all material is purely synthetic. The noise element is never far away, but none of this work is about noise. One could equally call this modern classical music, at times chaotic but always musical. Also, some of these sounds seem to be acoustic wind instruments, but the press information assures me it is not. The organ sounds are deconstructed and built again from the ground up. Sometimes sounding like a real organ, it starts to slip and morph gently but steadily into something else. It’s common to find a religious undercurrent in music that uses a church organ, but none is the case here. Massive, drone-like, at times loud and overtly abstract, you’re in for a different experience here.
    On the same label, the duo of Jérôme Noetinger and Antony Pateras. The first seems to be picking up speed with releasing music these, while Pateras is always busy with new releases (so it seems, at least). Noetinger is an expert in live manipulating a Revox B77 reel-to-reel recorder; Pateras is your man behind the piano, keyboard and electro-acoustics. They worked together before part of the Thymolphthalein quintet (which also included Natasha Anderson, Will Guthrie and Clayton Thomas), see also Vital Weekly 767 and 1007, and on ‘Beauty Will Be Amnesiac Or Will Not Be At All’ (Vital Weekly 1080). They both take credit for electronics. There are fifteen pieces (obviously) on ’15 Coruscations’, which word I had to look up the meaning of, “to give off or reflect light in bright beams or flashes: SPARKLE” and “to be brilliant or showy in technique or style”. You choose which applies to the music, I guess. This album contains musique concrète and, as such, the live variety. At least, that’s what I thought when I heard this. Maybe it is the result of endless editing, but I’d be surprised to know it is, and if so, then it’s hats off; they did a great job of retaining a very live feeling of these pieces. These fifteen sparks fly by like sparks do, I guess. The album is under thirty-eight minutes, meaning some of these pieces are brief. But with the collage-like nature of the music, you can also see this as one long collage, which worked best for me. Lots of small sounds, cracks, buzzing, scratching of objects, whirring of cables, field recordings, loops and whatever else you can think of. The two men interact excellently, going all wild, all quiet, and everything in between. Hence one long tale and not fifteen short ones, but I imagine someone may have an entirely different idea about this and judge these as individual pieces. This album could have been a bit longer, but playing it again was equally satisfying. (FdW)
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SATØRI – THE WOODS (CD by Cold Spring Records)

This week’s release by Temple Of Tiermes I don’t count as the noise release of this week; I reserve that spot for Satøri. Dave Kirby and Robert Maycock started in 1984 and had releases on notable labels such as Zeal SS and Broken Flag. The first period of Satøri ended in 1987, but in 1994 restarted by Kirby with Cold Spring Records boss Justin Mitchell, following which there was another hiatus. Then it was Mitchell and Neil Chaney of Pessary, and in 2012, it was a solo project from Kirby again. I agree that his a slightly strange history. Satøri mixes noise and rhythm, and the music has a lyrical side. Cold Spring tells us to file this under “Dystopian Industrial/Power Electronics”, which is good as the finer points of naming noise music in a subgenre generally elude me. “This new work focuses on a more localised depravity – that of the lone wolf. An individual who, having no moral compass, has no boundaries to cross”, which is also good to know. I think of ‘The Woods’ as the nightmare of being alone, lost in the woods, and hunted down by an unknown predator, whether a wolf or a lone wolf – animal or human. A horror soundtrack, and that’s how the music sounds. Deep and furious. Perhaps not hidden, somewhere in the back of the woods, but out in the open. The lyrics aren’t easily understood, but titles such as ‘Body & Blood’, ‘Abuser’, ‘Black Serpent Kiss’ and ‘Pressing Down’ say already enough. Most of the time, the music is piercingly loud, with very little room for silence. However, in most pieces, there are abrupt breaks, following which the song continues, sometimes taking on a new direction in the song, a different kind of intensity mostly, or adding another layer of noise. There is no endless stream of sound or noise for the sake of noise. That means we’re dealing here with someone who gave his noise thought, composition, direction and focus, unlike many others in this musical world. Powerful stuff, a solid ear cleaner, and a great racket for this week. (FdW)
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When I played this CD earlier this week, I was in a mild state of unrest for reasons unknown. That happens. The CD opened with the genre being ‘new age’, and while going quickly through the music, I heard a bunch of trumpet sounds and lots of delay/reverb. As always, I forgot if I reviewed Hilde Marie Holsen. Cue forward a few days, and I am in a relaxed mood. I learned I wrote about Holsen before, reviewing her ‘Azuli’ CD (Vital Weekly 1142), which I enjoyed back then. Her new CD contains three pieces, and Holsen plays the trumpet but also electronics. We can understand these as delay and reverb, but maybe some kind of computer technology or modular synthesis. It’s a bit unclear. There are quite a few crackles, weird sounds and mild drones here, along with that trumpet and reverb. In the title piece, it becomes a bit much, too sweet for my taste, and no crackle can save that day. The build-up to that point in that piece is exciting. In the short ‘Kambrium’ (pieces are named after geological epochs), there is a refined frequency shift and muted trumpet, creating an intense spooky piece of music. Sadly at six minutes, this is all too short. In ‘Ordovicium’, there is a similar muted trumpet sound, set against a stream of small buzzes, cracks and highly obscured sounds, which I have no idea where they are coming from. The sweet element is not overtly present in this piece, yet it has not entirely vanished. The Jon Hassell inspiration lingers on this album too, but I seem less enthusiastic. Maybe my mindset is not here now for this music, or perhaps this didn’t grab me that much. I don’t know. (FdW)
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This duo has been playing together for nearly ten years, and it shows. Nava Dunkelman plays percussion (in the broadest sense of the word) based in Brooklyn and has collaborated with Fred Frith (her improvisation teacher at Mills College Oakland), John Zorn, William Winant and many others. Gabby Fluke-Mongul has become quite the household name at Vital Weekly. Based in New York and has an equally impressive gigography: Fred Frith, Ava Mendoza, Luke Stewart, Zeena Parkins, & Pauline Oliveros, to name a few. On to the music: this is hellfire condensed into sound. That may sound like this is a no bars held noise fest, but quite the contrary: I mean that Gabby uses all kinds of attacks on the four strings of her violin that I had the impression that the devil herself/himself is playing. Incidentally, several, if not all, titles allude to the colour red. In other words, this is exhilarating music. That is not to say that there aren’t intimate moments. Carmesi is a subdued study in time and an intimate atmosphere. ‘Merah’, to my ears, quotes the opening theme of Janaček’s first string quartet, based on Tolstoy’s novella Kreutzer Sonata. It’s one of my favourite string quartets. Most pieces on this release are relatively short, but that doesn’t mean they are short of ideas. On the contrary: Nava has a comprehensive approach and uses every means possible to produce sounds that accompany or contradict what Gabby is playing. The interplay between the two is extraordinary. This is an essential release for anyone interested in improvised music that borders on modern classical music. And it sounds damn fine: kudos to Jason Rostkowski, who did the recording. Weasel Walter did the mixing, and Elliott Sharp mastered the release. This could have easily sounded garbled and muddy. But every single sound is easily identified in the mix. Chapeau! (MDS)
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Another duo out on Relative Pitch Records are Santiago Bogacz and Emiliano Aires. Bogacz, quite the virtuoso on all kinds of guitars, has released records with several bands he plays/played in and solo some music under the moniker Matador. Check his Bandcamp page : it’s quite the treasure trove. Emiliano Aires is entirely accomplished on the B-flat clarinet, especially in extended techniques. Together they have nine years of playing as a duo, and this is their first recording, aptly named “Portrait years later”. It’s quite the ride. Longer ones follow short, concise pieces. It’s all about texture and dialogue, not so much about melody, at least to my ears. The exception is the last piece which features some nice melodic lines. Because of the extended techniques (i.e. overblowing notes in a rapid tempo, circular breathing), the record might become a tad fatiguing for the casual listener, myself included. For now, I like the shorter and quieter pieces better. But ask me a few days later, and I could have a different opinion. Clarinet and electric guitar is a daring and unusual combination. And here, the balance between the amplified guitar/pedals and acoustic clarinet is outstanding. Again the recording, mixing and mastering have been done beautifully. In this case, Martin Tavella and Nicolás Demczylo respectfully. (MDS)
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A reflection on a (silent) film soundtrack as a score, performed by a contemporary music ensemble. A meta-meta meditation on the content and story of the film, contemplating the film as ‘film’ (i.e. celluloid material), including the technical deficiencies of the 100-year-old Eisenstein film, but also setting it into a more recent context? You need to know that the film, and the events it traced, took place in Odessa, yes, THAT Odessa ….
    You could think this is another intellectual exercise on wrapping ‘content’ into music or giving the music a meta-level in meaning that you cannot really trace to the origin as a listener. My usual question: would I listen to this anyway, albeit oblivious to any composer’s intentions? The Dutch ensemble Modelo62 is quite a large group of musicians offering a platform for contemporary composers. Ezequiel Menalled is one of its members and has not been active in composing that much yet, I believe.
    The CD fittingly starts with something you could call the crackle of an aged celluloid soundtrack. As the music takes over in the first real piece, track two, ‘Men and Maggots’, suspense builds as in the premonition of an impending catastrophe. The ensemble creates a gradually growing background ‘hum’, in which all instruments can be deciphered, but a sort of menacing drone develops. This is then broken by a bit of snare military rhythms and later a snippet of classical music that might have been part of the original score or some later composition referring to it. Track three, ‘Drama on the Deck’ is not so much drama as it continues the multi-facetted hum with more menacing elements (hissing sounds from, maybe, a flute), to again turn into a line of more classical piano layering on top of this background. This leads to an increasing sense of chaos, erupting into a veritable explosion of instruments in the second part of the piece. Ending in a classical score with a snare drum – which could be just that, or machine gun fire. As the drama evolves, the third part, ‘A Dead Man Calls Out,’ completely breaks with the droning hum of the first two and sets parts of free improvisation ensemble in free-jazz style with bits of music, to then phases out into a long ending of a reverb loop with the soundtrack crackle and tooling machine noise in the background. Waiting for the evolution of the next act in an extremely apprehensive mood.
    Act IV (track 5), ‘Odessa Steps’ tells the story of the Cossack massacre, one of the most well-known sequences in the film. The mood turns into a sombre hum with drums in the distance until, at half-time, instruments set in with a flurry of lines, then falling into near-silence with single piercing notes in the background, the dead silence post-event. You would think the final ‘One against all’ could now develop a less sinister and more triumphant tone, but it remains dark in atmosphere, ending in a flurry of percussive sounds, with no specific ‘heroic’ wrap-up. Although I would say the connection to the original film is a bit second-hand and constructed, nevertheless, this work stands by itself. It can be enjoyed without reading the notes, creating a film soundtrack within your head – that might or might not align with some of Eisenstein’s original work—definitely an outstanding and worthwhile release and a masterpiece on its own. (RSW)
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PLUS INSTRUMENTS – 79/80 (LP by Dead Mind Records)

Like the Tribe Tapes label mentioned elsewhere, Dead Mind Records from The Netherlands always finds something of great interest to re-issue. Maybe Robert Turman and Plus Instruments are better-known names than Cacophony ’33’, as old work from both became available recently—also, new works by both of them as both are still going.
    From Turman, I didn’t review much music. Partly because I don’t receive promos but also because much of his work is released privately in small quantities. Turman was at the start of Non, the music project he did with Boyd Rice which Rice did by himself for many years. Turman plays on the ‘Mode of Infection’ single. Shortly after that, he went solo, using the loop techniques from his work with Rice. He released many cassettes, all privately, and difficult to find the originals, but everything can be found in the undercurrent of the Internet. From the late 1980s until 2005, he released no music but resurfaced and worked with Aaron Dilloway. As said, much can be found online, and I only recently heard about his old and recent works, which I found mostly quite interesting. Turman’s loop-based music isn’t about pure noise but shows great sonic depth. He selected seven pieces from 1980 to 1984 from his archive for’ Distant Dosage’. I assume none of these were released before. Dead Mind Records writes that “this album fits in nicely between the early industrial noise, the long-form minimalism of ‘Flux’ and the rhythmic industrial of ‘Way Down'”, which is something I can’t vouch for, having heard only everything once. I guess there is only so much time in a day, and there is so much more to explore. Turman uses loops and vinyl in looped form, giving the music a more musical edge. The variations are minimal, but they are noticeable. ‘Not Moving’ is a great example of his approach. Loops from records with a percussive sound are shifted back and forth, rocking and grooving minimally. ‘Possibilities’ sound more like early Non. I like this going back and forth between more industrial soundscaping and recognizable musical elements. It’s time I went out and explored the man’s extensive catalogue again. This album made me hungry for more.
    The Plus Instruments LP is, technically, not a Plus Instruments LP but Truss + Instruments, as it says on the cover of the original cassette. I can perfectly understand why Truus de Groot and the label decided on using the name Plus Instruments. De Groot was, in 1980, part of Nasmak, but restless as she is, she moved away and started the second version of Plus Instruments with Lee Ranaldo and James Sclavunos. The ‘Truss + Instruments’ she recorded before that and is the result of experimenting with sounds with the help of Wally van Middendorp, best known as the singer of Minny Pops and Michel Waisvisz, the famous inventor of the crackle box and founder of Steim. De Groot worked in private studios or at home, using a variety of instruments; Korg MS20, the Putney synthesizer, crackle box (and as such, the big version of which Michel Waisvisz only made two), guitar, rhythm box, plastic toy guitar, flute, organ, TV, microphone, echo machine and “anything that came in handy”. If you like Plus Instruments based on the ‘Februari – April 81’ record from 1981, which was re-issued in 2013 and 2022, or the later work, with its motorik-driven beats, you are in for a surprise here. The original cassette had fourteen tracks, of which seven are on this LP, plus seven more from De Groot’s archive. These pieces are pretty experimental, scratchy, buzzing and whirring songs. Minimal and simple rhythms, small music as it were, some sketches and ideas, and some more worked-out songs and soundscapes.
    In a limited edition, there is also a cassette release with a live recording from 1979 and one from 1980. The first is from Notre Dame Hall in London, with Plus Instruments being De Grrot and Waisvisz. They deliver an exciting set, both using voices over improvised electronics that have a slightly rhythmic impact. This side of Plus Instruments is quite raw and punky and different from the LP here or later work. On the other side is De Groot’s solo, with a recording from Eindhoven, and here you find early seeds of the later work. Slightly more extensive use of rhythm, more song-based, and also in the use of the voice. Combined with the recordings on the LP here, this gives a great insight into the early and rapid evolution of her music. (FdW)
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With some mild surprise: where does Minimal Resource Manipulation’s boss Matt Atkins always find these new musicians, such as Andy Rowe, who is behind a Slate Pipe Banjo Draggers project? Apparently, he does sound, art and performance, and he uses “cassette walkmans, mini, micro and stereo cassettes and dictaphones, 8 pearlcorder T2020s, Allen and Heath 24 track mixer, Evans echopoet, delay pedals, found and prepared tapes”, which is an impressive mixture of hi and lo-fi equipment. The music is all improvised at the Bally Studios, London. Eight pieces in total, thirty minutes long. Improvised it may be, it is not your typical improvised music. These pieces have an excellent density, layering the strangest element into a steady stream of sound. A bit drone-like, perhaps, but not traditionally. Because Rowe chooses a slightly blurred sound, in which quite similar elements are used, it all stays closely together, thus creating a different kind of drone. What he recorded on his cassettes is not very clear. I heard (or believe so anyway) field recordings of some sort, musical fragments played by Rowe (or others? Maybe the occasional street musician?), shortwave radio, and sound manipulation of acoustic objects. I can’t tell. Through the use of loops, there is an occasional element of rhythm buried somewhere in the back of the music. The music has quite a lo-fi feeling but also a personal feel. Rowe creates a sound world that sounds like poetry without many words; if there are words, they aren’t easily understood. Some of this sounded like an audio diary. Strange little world, a bit outsider-like, and hard to pinpoint anything specific. Exciting stuff for that reason. (FdW)
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TBC_SEEMANN – GLASHAUS (CDR by Wachsender Prozess)

There were two precious releases in Vital Weekly, reviewed by the esteemed BW, now it’s my turn to have a critical look at a work he did with TBC. Behind those letters we find Thomas Beck, the man from this label, who has been active within music since the mid 1980s, but stayed very much underground. He plays electronics here, while Kai Seemann plays the piano. ‘Glashaus’, which no doubt means glass house, is thirty-two minute piece of exactly what it says on the box; music for piano and electronics. It is not as if the piano plays single notes or chords; I suspect Seemann uses the inside strings, playing this with a stick (perhaps) or a bow (maybe), with the sustain pedal, creating sustaining tones. The electronics side by TBC consist of short attacks, in fast succession yet it never becomes a steady pulse. Throughout this piece, the music stays on the minimal side, and developments are very sparse. Half way through the piece the electronics goes into a deep undercurrent, which isn’t all that noticeable if you play the music at a moderate volume. When I turned it up, the dark undercurrent became much more a ‘thing’, moving the piece out of the more atmospheric territory that I thought it was in and it brought on a level of danger and unrest. I guess that means that the listener has options here; go for a slightly more atmospheric approach or for something with a bit more bite. For this listener the first one worked best, but taste is subjective, as always. (FdW)
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DEPLETION – DECADENCE TRANSFER (cassette by Dark Passage Records)

Dark Passage Records is, sadly, not the most active label. The latest is by the honcho here, Martyn Reid, who works as Depletion. I reviewed two of his earlier releases (Vital Weekly 1248 and 1282) and liked his bleak, industrial music. For this new cassette, he lists his equipment, which includes a Korg MS-20, Sequential Circuits Pro-One, MFB Nanozwerg, Electro-Harmonix Micro Synthesizer, Memory Man, Cathedral and 4500 effects units and tape loops, various objects and domestic appliances. The music is dark and obscured, industrial and dystopian, yet not, so I believe, all about deafening noise. Before, I was thinking of Italy’s MB around the time he switched from noise to more darkish ambient, circa ‘The Plain Truth’, and that is what I still think when I hear ‘Decadance Transfer’. The only difference is that Depletion keeps his pieces shorter, between four and ten minutes. In each of these, he creates a haunted atmosphere of buzzing tones and murky loops with sounds unknown. In the ‘Exhumation Process’, these loops might contain voices with a repeated melodic touch. Only occasionally, there is a piercing sound, or sometimes that could, remotely, be called a loop. Within each track, there is a bit of development; Depletion doesn’t like stasis too much, which is excellent for once in this kind of music. Over fifty minutes of pleasantly spooky music – now that’s what I want! I wish there were a bit more of this. (FdW)
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THOM ELLIOTT – PERFUME (cassette by Tribe Tapes)

Hmm, I’m puzzled here. Tribe Tapes does another re-release, and that’s not a bad thing. They recently re-released a few Slaughter Tapes, and in my book, that’s a good thing. I mean, those are collectors’ items simply for being released by Marco C. But here we have a third re-release from a cassette by Thom Elliott, and this being an experimental release with a 1900s electroshock system as a sound source might be an interesting subject, but 2x 30 minutes of looking at what this machine can do is i.m.h.o. stretching it. But let’s listen in depth; maybe I’m wrong.
    Side A is called “Maceration” and has the machine-turned-synth in all its facets. A lot is going on, and it’s not until the last 5 to 10 minutes that the various waves and settings of the machine are put into a musical perspective.  Furthermore, it seems as if the post-treatment of the sound is quite limited here. A bit of reverb, some sturdy compression (of course, these are electronics directly fed into audio equipment) and not too much more. Side B was given the title “Enfleurage” and has added delays in its treatment. Because of that, it sounds much more likeable and open than “Maceration”. The movement of the waves is slower and more thought of; The sounds are given more space to breathe and form an actual composition; It all comes out better. There are moments that I found myself back watching Planet Terror because of the purity of sounds Louis and Bebe Barron worked with. Having one machine at your disposal limits you and makes you humble. And it’s precisely what you hear in the minimal approach on side B and what side A maybe lacks. So yeah, I’m happy to have heard it, and from the 60 minutes, I enjoyed 40. Which isn’t a bad score after all 😉 (BW)
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CACOPHONY ’33’ – METALLURGI (cassette by Tribe Tapes)

There are quite a few labels out there dealing with re-issues. I don’t care about many re-issues, for instance, because they have been re-issued enough (no names here). I understand that the music business is also a business. Luckily there are also small labels looking out for the obscure stuff that more prominent labels would never dare to release on LP or CD. Tribe Tapes is such a label, digging deeper than most and ignoring such notions as ‘status acquired during lifetime’. I remember the name Cacophony ’33’, the music project of Kevin Kettle from Lincoln, UK. I am confident I heard some of his music, mainly on compilations, as a quick look on Discogs doesn’t bring any recognition here. Many of the band’s tapes were released in small editions and given away. From quite a list, Tribe Tapes choose ‘Metallurgy’ to re-issue. Here Kevin ’33’ (guitar, voice, programming, keyboards, fx, mixing) works with Nairda T (bass, viola, fx, guitar, keyboards, percussion). Interestingly many of the compilations I heard with Cacophony ’33’ were harsh noise, whereas this group was the oddball, musically speaking. The music is rather melodic, emphasising the rhythm machine, bass guitar, guitar and synthesiser. Moody music, but with a poppy element. Early sampling (the music is from 1993) places some of this in the vaguely orchestral and exotic territory (‘Tungsten Trot’), and there is, throughout, a charming naivety about the music here. Sometimes a bit too long, sometimes right on the spot; dark, but I should also think with a spot of humour. A lovely find and, hopefully for many, another exciting history lesson. (FdW)
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MIGUEL A. GARCIA & MIKEL VEGA – EXPLETS (cassette by Crystal Mine)

From Miguel A. Garcia, we reviewed lots of music, under the guise of Xedh, under his own name, and many works he did with others. He’s from Basque, just like Mikel Vega, the guitarist with whom he recorded ‘Explets’. The six pieces were recorded live on November 20 2021, in the Shot! Studio in Arrasate, in Basque country. Garcia is behind the electronics, which I believe in his case is a laptop and manipulating Vega’s guitar and effects on the spot. Sometimes this guitar is easily recognised, but sometimes not when Garcia’s electronics take total control. You might not be surprised to learn I am keener on the later than latter than on, the more improvised guitar and electronics duet. Vega’s style of improvising is all fine, a bit noisy, but also a bit traditional. This can also be said of some of the laptop technology applied, the more apparent crackles and buzz. One of the paths they avoid is the ebow on guitar drone approach and expand on that with the electronics. It stays more within the hectic and chaotic guitar being transformed into, at times, complex buzzing and cracking electronic pieces. My favourite is ‘Wag Rnnglund’, in which the two go out on an abstract journey and have a piece of very intense beauty and quality. The two sound inputs melt into one and grow into one haunted beauty. I wish there were more of those pieces; maybe something for next time? (FdW)
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JAAP BLONK & MONTECLAVA – FAKE AIR (cassette by Music à la Coque)

Pino Montevalvo is the musician behind Monteclava and also the man behind the Music à la Coque label. I know this label primarily for its more noisy end of the improvised music spectrum with a rock musical edge. The latter is not part of this thirty-minute cassette. Monteclava recorded many short sounds with modified and broken records and sent these to Dutch voice artist and electronics composer Jaap Blonk. Blonk found these sounds crude but strong and went his way through processing these sounds, finding various combinations. Blonk only added his voice when this part was completed, using the words/titles that Monteclava gave to the sound sources. Sixteen pieces of music in less than thirty minutes means there is quite some speed in these pieces. Blonk uses various processing techniques, with varying results, from industrial soundscapes (‘Claudobscura’ sounds like an early Etant Donnes piece) to folk-like music, adding a similar variety of vocal improvisations to these sounds and singing in ‘Tchaki Juve Russ’ to Donald Duck imitations in ‘Jiss Fink’. Sometimes Blonk uses extensive voice layering, going for a complex piece of music. Perhaps not as noisy and rocky as one is used from this label, but with these pieces in general, between one and two minutes, it never stays too long in one place, bouncing quickly back and forth with tons of fresh sounds and new words. Excellent punky sort of weirdness, and that’s entirely what this label is about, and Blonk captured that perfectly. (FdW)
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This came out a while back, but it has been a long time for me to re-sit down and write reviews. One ‘excuse’ is that the bag in my copy of this book (and not much more) was stolen on the Belgian railways in May … bummer – and foreseeable (unfortunately). This book covers the 1980ies in the Legendary Pink Dots history (which raises some questions, more on that later). This takes me back to distant memories. How did I first encounter the Legendary Pink Dots? I believe it was hearing ‘Close your eyes’ on the Rising from the Red Sand five cassette compilation or a cassette by the 59 to 1 label. Or something like that; sometimes, I was buying from the Normal shop and 235. Those times in the mid-1980ies when the Nurse With Wound LP ‘Ostranenie 1913’ popped up on sell-off lists as no one understood (and bought) the music at the time. I explored the LPD cassette albums, then their first vinyl release, ‘Brighter Now’. I was intrigued, and hooked.
    The music fit the times, post-punk searching for new directions, Sonic Youth only on the horizon. The Pink Dots were somewhere out there in space. Not really connected to any other music direction, apart from maybe Attrition or Portion Control, being on the same label initially. But then, only faintly related in music style to any of the two. They created their very own musical universe. Breezy music with haunting and slightly menacing vocals. At the same time, psychedelic, minimal, pop, industrial, leftfield … With tracks strewn across many compilations (the majority initially on tape labels), it was hard to follow their development. Once the ‘vinyl era’ started for the Dots, it became more manageable with a constant flow of one or two releases per year. But maybe also a bit more mainstream. I attended many of their concerts in my region, but we also travelled to the Netherlands to watch shows. And I interviewed Edward for a fanzine that then never happened. I realise now all this is 40 years back. And the Legendary Pink Dots still exist and publish music. And they still sound like the Dots, though a little sleeker and maybe regurgitating styles, music, and tunes. Nevertheless, still sound fresh and interesting, and probably better musicians than then.
    The book ventures to track their ‘first decade’ – with the Dots’ first releases happening in 1981, this is eventually the complete 1980ies. Using extensive interviews with band members and associates, Freek has compiled a biography with a distinctly ‘behind the scenes’ feel. I definitely would not even be able to come up with the level of detail of my life in the 1980ies from my memories alone, so Freek has done an excellent job of running around speaking to people and piecing together the puzzle of the LPD band history. This also leads to contradictory details, as different people remember items differently. Alternate realities, if you like. This makes fantastic reading and brings back fond memories to anyone old enough. Like any biography, it also reveals all sorts of less critical laundry that gets you hooked on the story and makes reading even more enjoyable. Spliced into the story are the details of the different releases as they happened, adding a full discography to the ongoing storyline. This turns into a slightly weak point, as not all music publishing is linear in time, and the timeline of the releases somehow gets in the way of the story itself. Nevertheless, a tip of my (non-existent) hat to Freek for collecting all the detail included here.
    The accompanying CD, though, I did not enjoy quite as much. It is a compilation of LPD tracks (obviously), and you would have expected a kind of ‘best of’ collection. The approach taken, though, at first sight, looks more intelligent, i.e. asking all those involved to identify their favourite songs. And, of course, ‘Close your eyes’ is included. But many of the other tunes were not my favourites and not even – in my opinion – a selection of the outstanding and memorable tracks of that decade. A bit of a pity, as the CD, contrary to what it could have potentially supplied, does not add anything to the total impression of the book, which remains an interesting, fascinating, and entertaining read. The other bit of criticism is why the book only covers the first decade, considering there were/are three more to come. Because they are less interesting? Or because of a lack of time? Because in old age, current memories fade, and you go back to your past?? I hope it is the second and Freek will have the peace and time to write the next part. It’s a bit of a cliffhanger, to be honest, as the later years of the Dots are less documented than their first years, though it might be less dramatic. So definitely something I would like to read about. Freek, anything? (RSW)
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