Number 1037

LENA CIRCUS & ITARU OKI – ZANSHIN (CD by Improvising Beings)
JONTI HARRISON — VOYAGES (CD by Empreintes Digitales) *
KLEMENT & SIEWERT — HOVERLOAD (CD by Chmafu Nocords) *
AUFABWEGEN 50: AUSGEWÄHLTE GERÄUSCHE (2CD compilation by Auf Abwegen)
MIKEL R. NIETO — DARK SOUND (CD and Book by Gruenrekorder) *
THE VOID* — VALUES (LP by Lomechanik/Esc.rec/Shipwrec) *
THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS — KLEINE KRIEG (double CDR by The Terminal Kaleidoscope) *
RYAN HUBER — COMOROS (CDR by Inam Records) *
LLARKS — CLOUDWIRES (10″ lathe cut by Lathelight)
ANTONY MILTON — THE NORTH (cassette by Lathelight)


Ah you can hardly get more famous (in these pages) than these two gentlest of gentlemen. If you think ‘well,
so who the fuck are they?’, then you have not been paying much attention to the weekly, or in general to the
absolute top of modern day electronics, avant-garde music and even alternative rock music. They worked
together before, along with Peter Rehberg, as Fenn O’Berg, but that seems now so long ago. In September of
last year they recorded this CD (LP, download) together in Kobe and Kyoto and it comes with rather heavy
romantic titles, ‘I Just Want You To Stay’ and ‘Wouldn’t Wanna Be Swept Away’, and sees them combining
guitars, electronics, laptops and synthesizers, no doubt sharing all of this between them. The music also has
this romantic notion, and seems to me heavy on the guitar sound, whoever plays this. Both O’Rourke and
Fennesz are more than capable of doing something great in that respect. The overall tone can be easily
qualified as ‘gentle’ and the music dwells heavily on long sustaining notes and sounds that are not easy to
name; they are processed and form the wallpaper behind the clouds of guitar sounds. Towards the end of
‘I Just Want You To Stay’, the sound seems to pick up and get a tad heavier, but it stays on the moderate
side. Those giant clouds of guitar sounds appear also at the start of ‘Wouldn’t Wanna Be Swept Away’, but
at one point die out and become at gentle bell like hum, a wash that slowly starts building again and then
the guitar-as-organ returns and makes a second sweep — wouldn’t you just want to be swept away in all this
bliss? That’s what this music says to me. It’s not ambient drone, but rocks very nicely; maybe even prog-
rocks nicely? No doubt there is some tongue in cheek thing going with musicians who can do so much and
who know so much of musical history. Maybe sometimes a bit close to the edge of a cliché, perhaps,
but I really liked all of this very much. A powerful romantic statement; Fennesz and O’Rourke go shoegazing
with two lengthy love songs! (FdW)
––– Address:

LENA CIRCUS & ITARU OKI – ZANSHIN (CD by Improvising Beings)

Lena Circus is a trio of Antoine Letellier (saxophone, guitar, trumpet), Nicolas Moulin (guitar) and Guillaume
Arbonville (drums), in a fruitful collaboration here with Itaru Ori (trumpet, flugelhorn and flutes). Lena Circus
started as a duo of Letelier and Moulin. In 2003 Arbonville joined and since then they operate as a trio of
psychedelic sound improvisation. A very interesting, energetic unit I can tell you from listening to this
release. Oki is a trumpeter and improviser from Japan and part of the first generation of improvising musicians
from this country. In 1974 he moved to France where Oki recorded with musicians like Kent Carter, Alan Silva,
Sunny Murray and many others. For ‘Zanshin’ he joined musicians of a younger generation. The recordings
on this CD recorded in Reims, february 2015. Lena Circus creates overwhelming and fascinating wall of sounds,
with Oki perfectly finding his way through. How abstract these improvisations may be, they really hit something
and do tell a story. Great and engaging work, growing after each listening. Cacophonic at times, like in ‘Où est
moi’, but always working towards a goal. Sometimes a little joke is included, when Oki integrates a few lines
from a well-known French song. Although Oki is the most pronounced improviser in this combination, there is
a real togetherness and communication. Their excursions reach magical moments of great intensity from time
to time. Hope to hear more from Lena Circus in the future. It was especially the playing by drummer Arbonville
that attracted my attention.
   Ensemble 2013 is Abdelhaï Bennani (tenor sax), Burton Greene (piano), Chris Henderson (electronic drums)
and Alan Silva (orchestral synthesizer). Their double CD offers a live-recorded set at the Sunset, Paris March
19, 2013. The double CD is dedicated to Bennani who died in 2015. Morocco-born Bennani moved to French
in the 80s, and studied and recorded with Alan Silva.The improvisations of this combo are of an anarchistic
nature. Both CDs have about 50 minutes of improvised music. CD 1 has “Free From Compositions 1-7” and
CD 2 “Free Form Compositions 8-13”. Listening the improvisations unfold as one long and adventurous journey,
travelling through many different landscapes. It is evident that they no lack of ideas. Silva’s use of synthesizers
adds many colours. The piano playing by Greene results in pointed and well-chosen accents and movements.
Ideas are gradually shaped and worked out, followed by another improvisation that concentrates on another idea.
By consequence one has the feeling these improvisers could go on and on, travelling through an immense
space of possibilities. (DM)
––– Address:

JONTI HARRISON — VOYAGES (CD by Empreintes Digitales)

As far as I recall the only other time the name Jonti Harrison came up in Vital Weekly was when I reviewed
a release by a student of his, Peter Batchelor (Vital Weekly 929). Much of the work composed by Harrison is
simply not designed to be played on a stereo system, but to be experienced in places; places where they
have a whole bunch of speakers, anything from a couple more than two up to an immense lot. Harrison is
aware himself of the problem that presents this when reducing it to stereo for a CD release. Joseph Anderson
suggested to use Ambisonics, which “is a full-sphere surround sound technique: in addition to the horizontal
plane, it covers sound sources above and below the listener” (and you can read lots more on wiki, I’d say).
Much of Harrison’s work deals with field recordings and ever since the 90s he’s been carrying around devices
to do these recordings, usually when traveling. On this release we have two pieces. The fourteen minute
‘Espaces Caches’ and the one-hour long ‘Going/Places’. The first piece seems to be overlapping field recordings
together, so that multiple sounds come together and create a new place; one recognize some of the sounds,
and sometimes we don’t. There are cicadas, city sounds, farmyard and nature recordings — and no doubt lots
more. It seems to be having mild processing, but surely it hasn’t.
   The other piece, ‘Going Places’ contains of twenty-four separate pieces of music, which create the sense
of journey. There is lots of railway stations, tourists, harbours, boats in here, along with a geothermal pool
in both Iceland and New Zealand, crickets, people playing music, a call for prayer and many more. Here
too some of it is cut together, but then sounds that are from a similar group, like the aforementioned pools,
or bells from various countries at the same time. It makes indeed a wonderfully, across continents, from
cities to nature and back. Sometimes it seems there is some kind of processing going on but I’m sure there
is none. This release works best when one uses a pair of headphones in order to hear this ambisonics work
best; in a more normal situation with speakers it worked a bit less in that respect. (FdW)
––– Address:


When I first played this release, it seemed nothing was on there; for the first minutes it remained very quiet,
before anything seems to be happening. That however is one side of the coin as the other is that some of
these pieces start out incredible loud. Dag Rosenqvist, who sometimes calls himself Jasper TX or From
The Mouth of The Sun, de la Mancha and The Silence Set, uses drones, improvisation, noise and to that
end he uses mainly analogue equipment, just as guitars, stomp boxes, piano and whatever else he can lay
his hands. His music is not necessarily abstract as there is a song element never far away this. A chord
that is being strum, a repeated bass line, the rattling of bells that form a rhythm; that gives his music almost
a poppy edge, even when it’s all instrumental, but the alternative rock/pop tune is not far away. All of that
make up the six pieces that we find on this album, and it seems to me it is about contrasts. Going from
extremely quiet to extremely loud, from quite poppy to moderate abstract. Apparently elements from one
piece can pop up in another, which I must say is not something I noticed very much. It makes this ‘elephant’
(no capitals allowed in there) quite a beast — even when that sounds corny. It is a clever album of moods,
textures, and atmospheres, ranging from the melancholy to the jubilant, from the neatly abstract to finely
pop — yet of an non-commercial variety. Excellent release. (FdW)
––– Address:


Now here’s a name I haven’t heard in quite some time: Steve Roden. His last main release that I reviewed
was ‘A Big Circle Drawn With Little Hands’, back in Vital Weekly 846; that is indeed some time ago. He
didn’t disappear, so a quick look at discogs learns us, but his releases on Eat Sleep Repeat, Line, Dragon’s
Eye, Farpoint, Room40, Estuary and Palpa Voce just never reached us. Before that almost all of his
releases made to these pages and at a certain I thought I nailed down the musical process of Roden:
grouping sounds together in slightly different loops of varying length, which move along each-other and
create a dense but pleasant pattern. Highly atmospherically music is usually the result. Roden goes as the
inventor of the term ‘lowercase’, for all that music that requires close listening and which is usually quieter.
It is a term that is used less and less these days in these pages also (maybe there is a pattern there?).
   I am not sure when I first encountered Steve Roden and his music, but surely already with his first
releases under the guise of In Be Tween Noise, back in 1993, and reviewed in Vital, when it was still
a magazine on paper. I heard quite a bit of his music over the years, but alas, it also seems quite some
time ago. There is just not always time to go back but maybe that says something about my listening
habits. It’s therefore a joy to clean out the desk for a day or two, and just immerse oneself in over six
hours of Steve Roden’s music. It comes with a highly informative booklet, in which first he explains a bit
about he come to doing music, and then a per track breakdown of information. When was it composed,
what did he use sound wise, and other cultural connections to that specific work, such inspired by
authors, visual artist and such or the piece being part of an audio-visual installation by Roden himself.
And sometimes he simply can’t remember anything about a work, which is also nice to know. There is
nothing on here that shocks me, which may be is a pity; I wouldn’t have minded hearing something of his
early 80s punk band.
   The Steve Roden as we know him started out in 1988 and slowly started to sculpt his own brand of
sound. Usually taking up a few sounds from a few objects, sometimes using his voice and then sampling
them, looping them around, with lots of space between them. The first piece that has his ‘classic’ sound,
in which he plays longer pieces (somewhere between fifteen and minutes) is the first on the third disc;
that is classic Steve Roden territory; spacious, with lots of quietness between tones and everything glides
by in ever changing constellations. That is not to say that four CDs are made up with that kind of process.
Disc five and six are pieces from compilation projects and general a bit shorter in duration. It’s interesting
to see how that works out, and especially when it is really short it doesn’t work that well, but already from
say five minutes the magic works quite well. On the longer side, the longest piece, ‘Chamber Music’,
clocking at almost an hour, is perhaps a bit too long, but I also realize one should hear this from a different
point of view; not sitting up and listening closely, notepad within reach as the good reviewer does, but
maybe with some meditation going on, relaxing, or, who knows, sleeping. The music of Roden engages
just to do that.
   But what about the earliest work, you might wonder? Disc two is already a transitional disc, but the really
‘other’ Roden, in as far as these things go, is on the first disc. Here too the pieces are already around twenty
minutes, but seem to be much darker, denser also, and do not yet have the same openness as his later
body of work, but it forecasts already his love for all things minimal, with slow and small changes but also,
so it seems quite more electronically; and from studying the booklet we learned that Roden very rarely
uses synthesized sounds in his work, so it’s interesting to hear at least one work that has something
like that.
   This is a great release, even when it’s not something that one would probably decide to listen in one go.
It offers mostly unreleased pieces and is a most valuable addition to the already impressive catalogue of
works by Roden so far. (FdW)
––– Address:


Of course we recognize the name Siewert; he is Martin Siewert, the guitarist from Radian, Efzeg, SSSD,
Trapist and many more, but also an improviser, using electric, baritone and steel guitars along with
electronics. Here he teams up with Katherina Klement, who released her music first in 1989 and who’s
solo CD ‘Concert Trouve’ was already reviewed back in Vital Weekly 365. Over the years she released
more music on Chmafu Nocords (Vital Weekly 860) and recently with a group called Deepfishk (Vital Weekly
1027). She plays piano and electronics and together they recorded eight pieces in 2015. Both of these
players know what they can pull off in the world of improvised music and as such this is quite a good match.
The music they come with is great and in the opening piece ‘No’ moves as easily from very quiet interaction
to something quite loud and angular. It forecasts what this album is about; not just some piano and guitar
improvisations. On the contrary I might, far from just that, actually. Electronics, whatever they might be in
this case (laptops? modular synthesizers? stomp boxes?), play quite an important role, almost on the same
level as the instruments themselves, and combined with the extended techniques to get sound out of these
instruments, it brings a highly versatile disc of improvised music, going from extreme to extreme, from quiet
to loud, and yet always retaining an excellent dynamic and a fine keen sense of the detail, no matter what
is happening. There is an excellent sense of interaction between these players and it makes up fifty minutes
of wonderful music. (FdW)
––– Address:


No, no, and no, Michel Banabila will not re-issue his very first album, the highly acclaimed and utterly rare
‘Marilli’ record. He is very much ashamed of that record, and despite popular demand by those who don’t
have it (and willing to pay good money for it), it will be locked away forever. If you want a glimpse of that
first album then go to Michel’s bandcamp page and listen to extensive remix version of it, and you can hear
the various traces of the original, but reworked, by Banabila and his many friends; it’s a highly recommended
remix project. For a real glimpse of old days, Bureau B just released this eleven song release, with four
previously unreleased pieces, and pieces from ‘Des Traces Retrouvees I’ and ‘Des Traces Retrouvees III’
and ‘The Lost Drones Tapes’. These pieces no longer work using ethnic voices (as was apparent on ‘Marilli’),
but purely dwell on Banabila’s own playing of the Roland S10 sampler, piano, found objects and harmonium.
Banabila’s music these days may take many forms, from modular synth to electro-acoustics to ambient,
in these old days it was all about moods and textures. Especially in his piano playing he reminds the listener
of Erik Satie and Harold Budd, but adds a fine blend of electronic sounds to it, perhaps effectively being
Eno/Budd or Eno/Hassell himself. The music is dreamy and meditative but never borders on the tired clichés
of new age; it sounds naive but also after some thirty years it is also surprisingly fresh. It’s minimal music
and it always remains very playful, never very strict. There is a pure solo piano piece, two lovely drone
pieces with a lot of tension buried below the barriers, the direct beauty of a harmonium solo and pieces that
combine sparse percussion (as opposed to drums) with a lovely, vaguely exotic texture. These eleven pieces
are a highly varied bunch but it makes great sense putting these together. Not just because it shows the
many sides of Michel Banabila (even back then!), but also because it makes such a great listen. Always
atmospheric but with delicate touches on offer, this is a great CD. One can only say: why only eleven,
why only forty-eight minutes? With a back catalogue as big as his, a double pack filled back to back would
have been most welcome. Let’s hope Bureau B will invest in some of these great archival recordings of
mister Banabila. (FdW)
––– Address:


Simon Vincent is a Berlin-based British composer and performer of electro-acoustic music. Don’t know
anything of his earlier work nor whereabouts. I can tell you that he works since about 15 years with Tom
Arthurs (trumpet) playing live electronics. And that a CD of this duo will appear this year on Vincent’s
newly restarted label Vision of Sound. But first things first. ‘Opening Lines’ by the Vincent’s Occasional
Trio, music of a totally different nature I guess. The trio features Roland Fidezius (double bass) and
Rudi Fischerlehner (drums, percussion), both members of saxophonist Peter van Huffel’s hardcore Gorilla
Mask project, and Vincent himself on piano. No electronics here, but acoustical jazz by a trio that deals
in subtle and inspired manoeuvres. Their jazz is of a lyrical nature. It has delicate playing by Vincent on
the piano, with two perfect companions on drums and bass. Open and transparent interplay is to be enjoyed
from start to finish. With this project Vincent, after a long pause, makes a return to piano and also to the
classical jazz trio format. For those who are into this references to Monk and other giants surely will be
evident. All pieces are crystal clear constructions, whether composed or improvised. Built from effective
and well-proportioned musical ideas. It may sound ‘traditional’ at first hearing, but for sure this is a very
original effort.  The CD counts nine compositions. Vincent composes seven of them; one by Fidezius
and one is a group work. All recorded during a session in September 2015 in Berlin’s Low Swing
Studios. (DM)
––– Address:


Improvising Beings is an interesting French label for improvised and assorted music, from past and
present, run by Julien Palomo. ‘Alternative Oblique’ compiles unreleased material from Foussat’s archive,
celebrating his 60th birthday. Recordings span a period of 42 years (1973-2015). We encounter Foussat in
different line-ups and projects. In total 28 musicians are involved. A man with a history. In the 70s he started
as a guitarist in prog rock groups, but soon started to experiment with magnetic tape and synths. He worked
with Jean-Francois Pauvros, Noël Akchoté , Jac Berrocal, Evan Parker, Roger Turner and many others.
This release offers a overview of his work through a bulk of recordings spread over four CDs. The first CD
features short pieces from 1973-1977. Experiments with homemade electric guitar and analogue synthesizers,
radio waves and magnetic tapes, with the prog-rock group Phyllauxckzairrâh N° III and the anarchistic prog-
fusion group Le Lézard Marçio. Many pieces are a bit fragmental and constructed like a collage. But how
experimental and adventurous these pieces may be, this is also music from another age. Though it has not
much in common with French underground artists from those days like Heldon. It is a strange mixture of
(free) jazz and electro-acoustic and electronic music. It is closer to early work of Franco Battiato or Faust,
considering the drive for experiment. The second disc has Foussat free improvising with the group Thrash
the Flash, playing analogue synthesizer, digital piano, tapes and voice with Marc Dufourd (guitar), Lea
Dufourd (vocals) and Jérôme Bourdellon (flute, clarinet). All recorded between 2000 and 2013. Again a
disc filled with experimental music, blending very different ingredients. Radical on the one hand, but using
well-known jazz and blues-formats on the other. But one again senses in their anarchistic playing, it is 
freedom what counts for these musicians. The third disc documents Foussat’s experiments on the EMS
synthesizer. Four lengthy solo-excursions by Foussat. The first one ‘Loopé’ is a recording from 1975,
and sounds related to other extended synth-excursions from that time, like the ones of Besombes & Rizet.
The three other works date from 2011, 2013 and 2015 and have Foussat in a far more radical mood. Many
uncomfortable textures pass by, with unusual use of the human voice. Interesting stuff! The fourth disc
concentrates on recordings from 2015 of Foussat in different line ups with improvisers. We hear Foussat
in a battle with trumpeters Jean-Luc Cappozzo and Nicolas Souchal and trombonist Matthias Mahler,
followed by a improvisation with vocal artist Marialuisa Capurso and drummer Dirar Kalash. Then Foussat
in a trio with Joe McPhee (pocket trumpet) and Fred Marty (double bass). The CD closes with two
recordings from May 2015: Foussat in a duo with German drummer Paul Lovens. And a long improvisation
with Thomas Berghammer (trumpet), Raymond Boni (guitarist), Hans Falb (turntables), Irene Kepl (violion),
McPhee (saxes, voices and trumpet), Noïd (cello) and Makoto Sato(drums). This CD I liked most, because
it has fine interplay and dialogues of Foussat with accomplished improvisers. It is in these improvisations
that Foussat’s enigmatic playing with electronics flourishes. Included is a nice booklet with many photos
plus interview with Foussat. (DM)
––– Address:


Mail from Peru doesn’t arrive on a daily basis, but Wilder Gonzales Agreda was part of Vital Weekly before,
back in Vital Weekly 951 when JKH discussed his ‘Lima Norte Metamusica’. This is my first encounter with
this “Peruvian spacey non-musician”, as he calls himself. He started playing music in 1995 with his first band
Avalonia (with Fernando Ponce, Fabián Escalante and Óscar Pita) and later on with Fractal (alongside Wilmer
Ruiz and Hugo Medina). I read, “Both groups were part of the new Peruvian avantgarde history born with the
post-rocker and ethereal scene known as Crisálida Sónica.” In 2003 he started his own label, Superspace
Records and he released more than sixty releases of his own music, also on such imprints as “Clinical
Archives (Russia), Ruidemos (Spain), TibProd (Poland), Limitada (Argentina), Tape Safe (Belgium), Aloardí
(Peru), etc.”, even when discogs only lists a handful. So what does this spacey non-musician do on his
release here? Agreda plays electronic music for which he uses a bunch of rhythm devices, sampling machines
and maybe a synthesizer here and there. Sometimes he remains quite abstract, such as in the sampled voice
and teapot percussion of ‘MF3’, ‘Himeneo’, ‘ø’ and the lengthy ‘I Will Never Forgot You 90’s’, but in the other
songs he slips in a kick drum, snare drums and hi-hats, and some of this sounds a bit crass, and Agreda
could learn a bit or two about mastering his music to give it some more depth and less shriek high end. It is
all-quite all right I’d say. Although he hints towards something spacious it is not as such all the time, unless
one is prepared to see this as one of the more cruder outings in the world of ‘ambient house’. I’d say there
is room for improvement on the technical side, but a track like ‘Wil Volador’ shows exactly the way forward
with regard to some sonic depth. (FdW)
––– Address:


Some two years ago, Laurent Perrier released the first volume of ‘Plateforme’ (see Vital Weekly 923), in which
treats sound material received from other people and treats that material into new music. The first time round
it was Felix Kubin, Lawrence English and Gianluca Becuzzi, now it’s time for Francisco Lopez, Tom Recchion
and Christian Zanesi; a third volume is to follow. They delivered some raw audio material to Perrier and through
the use of computer technology, granular synthesis and such; these are sculpted into a three new pieces,
one per composer. Each of the pieces is around twenty minutes long. On the first volume I thought I could
recognize some of the original composers’ ideas but perhaps I was reading too much into that. It is more
complicated I think with these three pieces. I would think it is save to say Lopez gave some field recordings
and Perrier treats them in a collage like manner, bouncing gentle up and down the scale, like a fine acousmatic
composer. With sound material from Zanesi and Recchion it is less easy to say what the input was but it more
or less moves along similar lines of cut ‘n paste of large blocks of granular sound synthesis and there is an
overall modern musique concrete feel, but in the Recchion case it has a rather beautiful subdued ending. With
the Zanesi piece he continues the strong dynamical approach of the other pieces. There are some similarities
in these pieces with regards towards the compositional and process approaches by Perrier and I think it
therefore best to hear one at a time.
   Maybe you can play one of Perrier’s pieces and then for instance for instance turn your ears to Lawrence
English’ new release on Baskaru, which we can see as a homage to the work of Luc Ferrari, or especially to
his work ‘Presque Rien No. 1’, which means ‘almost nothing #1’, recorded in 1967 using sound material
recorded in Vela Luka, Yugoslavia as was then, Croatia as it is now. English also recorded his sound material
there, but then in 2013, and just as Ferrari he takes the approach of mild editing and juxtapositions. Some the
material overlaps but otherwise this thirty-minute piece of music is a pure sound picture of quiet village life.
I didn’t dig out Ferrari’s original (which I believe I must have somewhere), but I just played this, actually a
couple of times in a row. It is a beautiful work, exactly like Ferrari would do (I’m not sure if that would be ‘good’
or ‘bad’, but let’s say for me that’s good) and with his microphone he wanders through the village; we hear
church bells, animal sounds at the pond, a far away train, streets, people talking, the fanfare passing outside
a kitchen and obscured recordings of action we can no longer understand, but which paints a beautiful picture
of village life. An excellent piece of music. (FdW)
––– Address:

AUFABWEGEN50: AUSGEWÄHLTE GERÄUSCHE (2CD compilation by Auf Abwegen)

One of the more mythical compilations from the 1980s was a LP of German new music called ‘Neue Deutsche
Post Avantgarde’. According to legend (and discogs, so it must be true), “Limited edition of 2950 copies
manufactured in Germany for Brazilian Goethe Institute (São Paulo, Brazil). […] Only 150 copies remained for
sale for Germany/Europe while the other 2800 copies were sent to the Goethe Institute and lost there according
to ‘Monographie Asmus Tietchens’.” I went to great length to get one back in the day as it contained so many
of the German musicians I loved; SBOTHI, Cranioclast, P16D4, HNAS, Werkbund, Graf Haufen and others,
all lovingly compiled by mister Tietchens, who himself is not present in this selection. You can buy a copy for
20 euro on discogs, so perhaps it’s not as rare as we thought back then.
   What has this to do with this particular compilation, one that celebrates the 50th release by Germany’s Auf
Abwegen? I would say, this is the one and only true successor to that LP, as the two CDs are filled with the
absolute crème de la crème of Germany post avant-garde, to borrow that tag. It lists of all the important and
well-known musicians from Germany, from the early 80s until now. This is a true feast of name recognition.
Asmus Tietchens, Die Tödliche Doris, Achim Wollscheid, Christoph Heemann, Thomas Köner, Frank
Bretschneider, Marc Behrens, Column One, Das Synthetische Mischgewebe, Cranioclast, Kallabris, Core…
and that’s half the list. And better yet, this release comes in what is called a DVD digibook, with 82 pages of
a short biographical description of the artists in question, although in some case there is nothing really
(Werkbund, Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf). There are very few names that were new to me, such as Hitlahabuth,
Xyramat and Schlachtanlage Gegenort. Although the introduction text is about noise music, and to a certain
extent these twenty-nine pieces are about noise, there is not a lot a room for the mindless hardcore noise,
maybe with something like Møhr as the exception (but I do remember his concerts to be very loud too, so
there you go). In fact a piece from the more or less gothic circles, complete with an industrial rhythm comes
from Ars Moriendi is also an exception in this lot, along with a milder/poppier (?) version by Konrad Kraft.
Otherwise these pieces are a wonderful collection of musical experimentation from the chaos no-wave music
of Die Tödliche Doris (no doubt the oldest piece in this lot) to the clean cut rhythms of Frank Bretschneider,
the electro-acoustics of RLW, Evapori and Tietchens, to the drones of Köner and Cranioclast, to the microsound
of Behrens and the more industrial forms of ambient music from say Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf, Maeror Tri, N(33),
Core and Fetisch Park. Or a bit of improvised music from Column One, Kontakta (one of the few previous
releases pieces), Licht-ung (though quite noisy), Limpe Fuchs and lots of others cross any of these lines in
between. Topped with the great design this is a small monument about the current state of affairs regarding
experimental music in Germany. Excellent compilation! (FdW)
––– Address:

MIKEL R. NIETO — DARK SOUND (CD and Book by Gruenrekorder)

From these two new Gruenrekorder releases I started with the one that has the most regular package,
a digipack and CD by Roland Etzin, who has had releases on this label before (see Vital Weekly 631 and
851). On the cover we read that this contains ‘found sounds: Italy, Ireland, Germany; using several kinds of
microphones, analog & digital machines and self built instruments’, which is probably I would describe this
myself, as it what I hear too. It also lives up to it’s title as these four pieces (ranging from two minutes to
thirty-five minutes), as these are very much drawings with sounds. We hear cow bells, cars, chainsaws,
water, church bells and what have you, played together, perhaps not always ‘possible’, but that’s the beauty
of music: it can all sound together and make a wonderful visual piece. Unlike some of his previous work,
Etzin seems to be working more electronics this time around, and does that with great care. I would think
these are electronics transforming his field recordings, but maybe also modular synthesizer, iPad apps and
that sort of thing and the four pieces are fine pieces of collages with sound. From the long and quiet ‘Garten’
to the noisier ‘Vinschgau’, with a variety of machine sounds, Etzin combines the right sound material to evoke
pictures that come to live before one’s eyes. An excellent release and good to hear something from him that
is less based on pure field recordings.
   The other release is a hardcover book, 176 pages, so one has to read something during these sixty-four
minutes of music that can be found on the pitch black CD. At least if you mastered either Huao, Basque,
Spanish or English, and you are willing to sit either in sunlight or a strong lamp: the whole book is black ink
on paper, so not easy to read. The whole thing is about the oil industry and how they destroy our planet.
The price of the book is “set by the crude oil Brent price (LCO)”, so it fluctuates on a daily basis (check out
the label’s website for that). Ah, but making books is also not very ‘green’, you could remark, but the author
beat you there too: “by buying this book you are contributing to the destruction of the planet”, it says on the
back. Thankfully I got mine for free; I must not think how it got here anyway, by car or perhaps even by
plane but surely an oil using device.
   Huao, one may wonder, is the language as spoken by the Huaorani people in Ecuador and whose land is
under siege by the oil industry, and that what this highly politically motivated book is about, hence the
excessive use of the colour black. Their environment is what we hear on the (also black, but maybe not
a CDR?) musical component of this package. There are lots of wildlife, rain, and thunder sounds but also
the sounds of the oil industry. Of course I should say about the latter they are ‘awful’ sounds, but it makes
up a fascinating listening experience, moving from one sound into the next; the whole piece has thirty-four
different segments, but it is cut as one piece on the disc, perhaps to suggest a unity of location. Nieto,
who is from a Basque background, in case you were wondering why that language is part of this, created
a great imaginative piece of sound art based on totally contrasting field recordings.
   Meanwhile you can read the book, obviously, but I must admit I found it not easy to read, or even to
search for those bits that were in English, as the four languages are together, arranged per chapter/section.
Holding this against the light, concentrating really hard to decipher it, made me think: ‘okay, I sympathise
with this message, even if I can’t find the concentration to take it all in’. But this is all together an excellent
political statement. (FdW)
––– Address:

THE VOID* — VALUES (LP by Lomechanik/Esc.rec/Shipwrec)

The collaborative effort of three labels from The Netherlands, of which two I might say are even from the
sunny hometown of Vital Weekly, proving once more the creative power of such a small city. The cover has
a fire burned pattern, something I didn’t encounter since O Yuki Conjugate’s ‘Equator’ CD and the silk screened
inside cover glows nicely through these holes, which may or may not resemble a good old floppy disc. That
has to do with the fact the group uses C++, a computer language used in the creation of the music. The *
in the band name stands for ‘pointers’ so the band name is The Void Pointers and there are three members,
Roald van Dillewijn, Eric Magnee and Tijs Ham. They play their music on instruments they built themselves
and through improvisations they generate the basic material, which is later on re-arranged, cuts, erased,
processed, and fed eventual through some more hardware to create the end result, pressed up in this platter.
They recorded the music at the end of 2014 in France, and the whole of 2015 was used to further sculpt these
recordings. It is perhaps for both Lomechanik and Shipwrec an odd record to release, as normally their
releases are more about the use of beats and synthesizers, but it shows how daring these labels are, willing
to take risks.
   I am not sure how we could classify The Void* as the six pieces on this record but the words ‘ambient’ and
‘drones’ are never far away. There is certainly also something along the lines of a guitar and bass in here,
and in ‘Abstract’ even some drum patterns. It is quite a wall of ambient sound that this trio erects here, but it
is all quite open and full of little details, and sometimes it is all quite sparse and fragile, especially when the
piano is being played. The production of this is excellent. A musical source of inspiration no doubt also comes
from the world of post rock, but only the variety that is connected to the world of computers, so I was thinking
about Radian and the other groups from Vienna, even when The Void* is all a little less rock based. The six
cuts are simply beautiful pieces of… well… music is a word that probably is a catch all here. Ambient,
atmospheric, drones, post-rock, musique concrete and computer music; it’s all in here, and it works really
well. I promise this band a great future. (FdW)
––– Address:

THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS — KLEINE KRIEG (double CDR by The Terminal Kaleidoscope)

It is surely no secret that for a long time I have been a massive lover of the music of The Legendary Pink Dots,
although I would not go as far saying I am a fan boy. For a long time I closely studied every bit and bob that was
released, but not so much these days. Their output is still massive and I play whatever comes by, with, always,
a keen interest in their earliest work, which for whatever reasons (nostalgia perhaps) is still highly appealing to
me. I used to have the second version of ‘Kleine Krieg’ (which the liner notes say they are misspelled, but I
am sure they are; maybe there is no such expression in German as ‘small war’?), which was released by 235
in 1981, and which came with a D.I.Y. airplane. This new re-mastered re-issue is however of the first edition,
which might be more or less the same, but at least the artwork here is based on the first edition. Back in the day,
1981 that is, tape was always running, recording everything that was remotely interesting and from that ‘Kleine
Krieg’ was compiled. Some of these songs are classic, well, at least to my ears, ‘Defeated’, ‘Soma Bath’,
‘Legacy’, ‘Break Day’; the jumpy rhythm machine, the synthesizers and Edward Ka-spel’s voice — so young
back in that day, painting strange pictures. Was it that experimental in those days? I don’t know. I do remember
that every compilation seemed to have them, but you could also tell which track was theirs, among the many
other industrialists. It must be an age thing but releases like this are like little time machines for me. It transports
me back to my boy’s room, collecting obscure cassettes, re-arranging index cards with valuable information on
labels, compilations and such like. Surely you have no idea what I am talking about? Not to worry, it’s not really
of that much importance to you, but ‘Kleine Krieg’, the re-issue, is another testimony of how great this band
were, so early on. Playful, experimental and yet always so accessible. Much welcomed re-issue. (FdW)
––– Address:

RYAN HUBER — COMOROS (CDR by Inam Records)

Abandoning earlier incarnations Ryan Huber used, such as Bobcrane, Vopat, Olekranon, Lid Emba and Sujo,
each with its own distinct sound, he now works under his own name and ‘Comoros’ follows ‘Astor’, which was
reviewed in Vital Weekly 991. That album seemed to have traces of all of his earlier projects, with a bit of guitar
drone thrown in, but growing towards a more accessible sound and ‘Comoros’ explores that route further. Within
forty-six minutes, Huber explores the limits of dance music. Guitar seems absent, or it might be through some
of vaguely humming sounds, such as in ‘Cambridge In Flames’. The music is quite minimal, but almost all of
these pieces have a great groove to it, ‘Vrej’ is an exception with no beats and all drones, and the opening
‘Scaam’ is very much slowed down. In ‘Aex’ the rhythms are created from loops, but without a kick. However
throughout all of these pieces there is a darker undercurrent to be noticed, and coupled with the minimalist beat
patterns, the name check Pan Sonic is never far away, but a piece like ‘Cellar Of Last Resort’ seems to be taken
from the Chain Reaction textbook. I must say I very much liked this release, even more than the previous
release by him. This wholly more accessible sound suits him well, and I would hope he would explore this even
further, or perhaps one day commits his work to a piece of vinyl and make some truly dance floor oriented music.
So far his beats work quite well in that direction, and I would think some of these might already do well on an
underground party. (FdW)
––– Address:

LLARKS — CLOUDWIRES (10″ lathe cut by Lathelight)
ANTONY MILTON — THE NORTH (cassette by Lathelight)

Following a bunch of lathe cut 7″ records it is perhaps only natural that Llarks now moves into releasing a 10″,
cut according to same procedure, and at the same time also releasing a new cassette of his own work as well
as one by Antony Milton.
   Llarks is the musical project of C. Jeely, once Accelera Deck, Your Favourite Horse and September Plateau,
to mention a few. Since 2014 he works as Llarks, and in an interview he once said that he loves “amps and
pedals but I will use anything as a tool to get a sound that is needed for a song. The song comes first always,
no allegiances to a brand or a way of working. I use computer software in my solo work as Llarks to cause
disruptions, skips, granulation, multiple filters, & that signal is multi-tracked onto tape. That way of working
over the years has yielded the results I am happiest with”, and perhaps we should see the work he does with
Llarks in that respect. I would very much like to believe he still uses a lot of amps and effects, as well as his
beloved guitar, but the way he melts his sounds together does reveal very much a love for all things computer;
through the use of dense layering he creates some interesting drone patterns, which sound fuzzy, hazy, obscure
and which owes to some extent to the world of shoegazing. The almost twelve minute epos ‘Cloudwires’ is a
great piece, with lovingly (intentional?) crackles rising up from the sound swamp. ‘Opal’ on the other side has
clearly a more guitar-like sound, even when it is looped and phased around; it has that beautiful drone like organ
sound that drone guitars sometimes has and which Jeely explores very well here. ‘Gold (III)’ is very short,
clocking at two minutes and sounds like a filler. I would have preferred ‘Opal’ to be of the same length as
‘Cloudwires’. Great record!
   The cassette has two pieces, one per side, and one is 16:32 and the other 16:36. Here the music is sparser
than on vinyl, and in the title piece it deals very much with the use of piano. It shifts back and forth between
some minor forms of processing and it leaves much air for the piano notes to develop. Although one could also
say there is not a development, as thing move around in what seems to be the same circles.
   On the other side we find ‘Frame Flowers’, which is a drone like piece built from a few loops and here literally
moves around in circles, and seemingly comes without many changes; it has a great dark texture to it, a bit
rough at the edges but surely something that I enjoyed very much also.
   We then arrive with Antony Milton’s new cassette, ‘The North’. I know he’s been around for ages, and in the
past I surely reviewed some of his work, but just a look at his discogs page is enough to confirm it is not really
a lot that I heard, nor actually releases he put on his PseudoArcana label. But as far as I can tell his music is
all that I love about experimental music from New Zealand; improvised, lo-fi, naive, charming and with the least
interest in such notions as ‘good sound quality’. In that respect ‘The North’ quite lives up to its expectations.
Milton plays guitar and sings, recorded, if I understood correctly over a variety of locations and a number of
years, so sometimes it sounds scarily up close and direct, whereas it can be hollow, like in some old basement.
Sometimes there is just a guitar and a voice, but also with a guitar effect or two, as in ‘The Room We Grew Up
In’, or very intimate in ‘The Back Track’. A man and his guitar; now probably that’s something you would expect
the weekly to like and perhaps it would be more difficult to accept if it came from anyone else, but listen an
experimental ditty as ‘A Diving Heart’ or the curious rain loops that open ‘And The Rain Stopped’ and you know
this is surely no traditional singer-songwriter. Great release. (FdW)
––– Address: