Number 1052

KIM MYHR – BLOOM (CD by Hubro Music) *
GINTAS K – LOW (CD by Opa Loka Records) *
KASSEL JAEGER – ONDEN 隱佃(CD by Unfathomless) *
THOMAS BRINKMANN – A 100O KEYS (2LP/CD/DL on Editions Mego)
EN ALAS DEL SONIDO (2CD compilation by Luscinia Discos)
BADER MOTOR – DREI DREI DREI (LP/DL by Veals & Geeks / Les Disques en Rotin Reunis
HOWARD STELZER – NORMAL BIAS (6 cassettes by Ballast)
  Resource Manipulation) *
STEVE RODEN – PCHUILCSAIGMON (cassette by Farpoint Recordings) *


Things seem calmer for 12K these days with less (physical) releases and a shift towards digital
ones. I have no idea what makes them decide for one or the other, but I am sure there are good
reasons. One reason that I could think of is that something that is even remotely closer to the
world of pop music is something one can sell more copies off. That ‘something’ could be the music
of Gareth Dickson, who now releases his third CD for 12K (see also Vital Weekly 821 and 905).
Since ten years Dickson tours the world with Vashti Bunyan and more than once they also gave a
duet concert. Music wise things didn’t change a lot here, as Dickson is still one voice, one guitar
and a bit of studio technique, keyboards, reverb, a bit of percussion; lots of space here. He still
manages to sound like Nick Drake, with equally sparse voice and guitar treatment, all creating an
eerie atmosphere, but one that people would like a lot, I imagine. Seven well-crafted songs of this
and at thirty-seven minutes I would think these are more than enough; for me at least it is. The
biggest surprise here is not that 12K releases music devoid of field recordings, computer
processing and such like, as they have done that before, but the fact that the final track is cover
of Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’, which he does beautifully, capturing the intensity of the song,
armed with just a guitar and quite a bit of reverb on everything; it doesn’t surpass the original,
which I think would be very hard, but Dickson comes very close in playing this haunted classic in
his own personal way. (FdW)
––– Address:

KIM MYHR – BLOOM (CD by Hubro Music)

The name of Kim Myhr popped up a couple of times in Vital Weekly, as a member of Circadia (see
Vital Weekly 1041), Mural (Vital Weekly 999) or his album with Jenny Hval and the Trondheim Jazz
Orchestra (Vital Weekly 1039), but his solo album ‘All Yours Limbs Singing’ is something I missed
out upon. ‘Bloom’ is his latest solo album and apparently he expands his sound beyond playing the
12-string guitar and no overdubs which he did before; now it’s electric twelve and six-string guitars,
acoustic twelve-string guitar, zither and electronics, as well as using quite a bit of overdubs. All of
which brings us quite a rich sound, a small one-man orchestra of guitar sounds, if you will. Rather
than using lots of loops, I would think that, everything is played in real time, and the studio
becomes an important instrument in layering all of these sounds together. During the period he
worked on the album, Myhr listened to ‘psych-folk’, and some of that he took as an influence to the
music he was recording himself. That results into pieces that use quite a bit of heavy strumming,
with right in the middle a moment of rest, in the form of a piece called ‘Swales Fell’, a piece for
zither (I think). The two before that and two after that are wild strumming affairs of multiple
layers, and some of these play a natural free sound, which can go into something more spacious,
as the second half of ‘Feel Me’ proofs. Myhr’s music is however quite varied, and uses multiple
approaches in layering these sounds, up to even some kind of rhythmic approach in ‘O Horizon’.
All of this was very pleasant to hear makes up one damn fine album. (FdW)
––– Address:

GINTAS K – LOW (CD by Opa Loka Records)

From the busy bee that is Lithuanian composer Gintas K now comes the album that is the final
part of a trilogy that started with ‘Lovely Banalities’ (that wasn’t reviewed) and ‘Slow’ (Vital
Weekly 870). In general I do like the work of Gintas K, but about ‘Slow’ I wasn’t that positive; I
thought it sounded too much like the early laptop music (Ritornell, Mee; the music released by
such labels), and that Gintas K didn’t necessarily add much new to this. Now that made me fear
‘Low’ a bit, I must say, even when I do think that within the niche K operates in he is someone who
knows what he is doing and throughout he does a decent job. As recently as in Vital Weekly 1047,
when I reviewed his ‘Dimensions’ release, I remarked that it might be worthwhile to think about
some necessary change in his work and look towards a new direction in sound. As such ‘Low’ isn’t
that mighty new leap forward (or wayward) but further carves out the niche in which he operates.
Having said that, I thought the eleven pieces here are not bad at all. They have fine warmth most
of the time, a touch of melancholy and sadness even, while some of it is also with a plink-plonk
metallic sound, and within these eleven pieces Gintas K offers an interesting amount of variation.
Not always very descript, but that goes with the perhaps abstract titles of the pieces (‘Pri’, ‘Pazr’,
‘Git’, ‘Tas’, ‘Geras’ and so on). In conclusion: another fine album by Gintas K, but also one that
sounds very much without surprises. (FdW)
––– Address:


This is already the fourth time that Rotterdam based composers Michel Banabila and Rutger
Zuydervelt, also known as Machinefabriek get together to record music, and do a release. First
there was the self-titled release (see Vital Weekly 860), ‘Travelog’ (see Vital Weekly 898) and,
thirdly ‘Error Log’ (see Vital Weekly 984). That is perhaps already a most remarkable fact, seeing
these two men being very active when it comes to playing and composing music, also for occasions
we don’t hear or see because they are not always released as such, music for films, installations,
theatre, and dance. For the fourth time these two men manage to surprise the listener again;
‘Macrocosmos’ is not a rehash for the earlier albums, I think. The first was abstract, the second
more melodic, and the third was more about ambient music, through the use of longer pieces. On
the fourth album they explore the best of these three worlds and expands on that, with a relatively
bigger role for real instruments, or so it seems. This is their most all-round album so far, I’d say.
The guitar plays quite a big role in some of these pieces, along with the crackling of the modular
synth, but in ‘Stokjes’, ‘Awake’ and ‘Turmoil’ they as easily slip into a rhythmic piece, the latter
with an almost Alva Noto like but with a slightly more exotic mood. Melodies are never far away in
these pieces, and ‘Awake’ is a like true pop song, with an electro melody below. Then there are
pieces in which the ambient side is more present, such as in ‘Prey’, ‘Upwards’ or the title piece.
Here the influence of Zuydervelt seems to be more apparent, even when these duties are no doubt
not divided like this; this is just something I was thinking of. It seems that field recordings, mainly
insects, birds and rain, play a role in the majority of these pieces, which further enhances a
somewhat ‘tropical’ feel to the music. That too might be something I am just imagining of course.
It makes that this album has a very diverse feeling to it, in terms of textures they choose, of
changing moods, instruments to use and make it a fine ride for the listener, going through various
places; like a road trip through the macrocosmos. An excellent release by these masters of their
trade. (FdW)
––– Address:

KASSEL JAEGER – ONDEN 隱佃(CD by Unfathomless)

Not many people released two records on Unfathomless, let alone three, but the honour for that
goes out to Parisian based composer whose real name is Francois Bonnet. For his third release using
site-specific field recordings he went to Japan and visited Shinjuki, Shibuya, Harajuku and Tokyo and
back home he transformed those sounds in this forty-one minute piece. Jaeger works at INA-GRM
so it is hardly a surprise that we no longer recognize the original sound sources; or perhaps we do?
Maybe those are insects? Street sounds? A shopping mall? I found Japan at times an incredible
noisy place to be, even when it was supposed to be quiet and one can easily hear how the noisy
surrounding inspired Jaeger to compose this piece of music which is also quite noisy. Feeding sound
into computers as well as modular synthesizers and which are then heavily layered together only to
mix down in a most subtle and ever changing fashion. What seems to be a thick layer of sound is in
fact a thick layer of sound, but upon a closer inspection there is a lot happening in here. Jaeger
captures the mood of a big city pretty well with this piece. Changes are evidently there but take
place over a longer curve, especially in the second half of the piece. There is very little room for a
bit of quietness, and more in the beginning or at the very end. That perhaps makes this a very
heavy listening experience, certainly when one turns up the volume a bit, like I did. It becomes
more or less an impressive wall of sound, one that doesn’t allow for many other activities, other
than listening. And that’s no doubt the one thing that Jaeger wants you to do! I thought this was
a damn fine release of some bewildering musique concrete. (FdW)
––– Address:


Perhaps we should see ‘Musiques Concretes 1988-91’ as the follow-up to ‘Musiques Concretes
1970-71′, which Brocoli released earlier (see Vital Weekly 954). Chion is a composer of many
works, drama, studies and even religious music, such as his excellent (and scary) ‘Requiem’. He
is also a writer, historian and teacher and also writes about film (Kubrick and Lynch for instance).
 I am not sure, but I don’t know if Brocoli intends to release works from the period in between. It
would be great if they did, I think.
    On ‘Musiques Concretes 1988-91’ we find three pieces; ten parts of ‘Dix Etudes De Musique
Concrete”, ‘Variations’ and ‘Crayonnes Ferroviaires’. In the first one we have ten relatively short
pieces, ranging between one and half minute up to almost six, and it seems that he explores per
piece a few sound sources, such as the rustling of paper, toys, a string instrument, whilst applying
all the rapid editing that comes with that. Reversing sound, slowing down, speeding up, hand
manipulation and that sort of thing, including a bit of feedback manipulation here and there. Very
little in terms of electronic sound or filtering, it seems, but everything is done with quite some
bursts of energy. It is all rather not very careful, but that works very much in favour of these
pieces. Something I enjoyed very much.
    In ‘Variations’ he deals with some pre-recorded music, which the press text calls a waltz,
speeding the sound up and down and one hears a lot of transformed piano sounds, but I must
say that I also thought it sounded a bit muddy at times; not very well defined and perhaps it stayed
too much in one place. That is indeed the many transformations of piano; that much is sure.
    Of more interest, I thought, was the much longer (23 minutes) of ‘Crayonnes Ferroviaires’,
which is a homage to the tape recorder, to sketches and to the railway, and perhaps as such also
a homage to Chion’s teacher, Pierre Schaeffer, who in his earliest pieces also used the sound of
trains. This is again a very lively piece of train sounds transformations, but also including voice,
instruments and concrete sounds that one no longer recognizes. This is an excellent piece of
musique concrete, clearly showing the possibilities of one microphone and multiple tape
manipulations. Let’s hope Brocoli will delve further in the archives of Chion!
    The other new release by Brocoli is from another of the stalwart artists, Sebastien Roux. His
previous release ‘More Songs’ is already from some time ago (Vital Weekly 857) and it continues
from there onto ‘Quatuor’. The title piece of ‘More Songs’ used transcriptions of Beethoven’s 10th
string quartet, as played by others, but then re-created by Roux. For his new album he expanded on
that idea and had the whole string quartet from Ludwig Van arranged by Mathieu Bonilla, using
flute, clarinet, cello, French horn and percussion. I must admit I have no idea what you do when you
‘arrange’ or ‘transcribe’ a piece. It sounds quite electronic, that much I can hear, but at the same
time also retains some of that acoustic quality. This is, one could say, easily a work of modern
classical proportions; think of the kind of ‘composition for clarinet and tape’. Roux uses all of the
sounds available and puts them together in an entirely new composition, modelled after the four
parts of the original Beethoven score, with long form sounds of time stretching sounds, computer
treatments to cut them short, make glissandi, drones and all of that ilk, and combines these with
the original sounds as played. Brocoli calls this electro-acoustic music, and why not? This piece
combines the electrical currents of apparatus and the acoustic waves produced by wood, strings
and skin. The previous CD sounded a bit haphazard to me, but the four parts of ‘Quatuor’ sound
excellent. I am not sure if the correct classical terms are used here, ‘Poco Adagio’, ‘Adagio Ma Non
Troppo’, ‘Presto’ and ‘Allegretto Con Variazioni’ (it all reminded me of my father listening to the
classical station on a Sunday afternoon), but this is a particular strong and coherent work. I would
be curious to know if Roux plays this piece in concert with real players. If he does he is ready to fully
crossover into the world of serious composing. This string quartet-not-for-strings shows he’s ready
for it. (FdW)
––– Address:


In 1984 Will Long’s great uncle, then 80 years old, went to Tunis from his home in New York,
stayed one night in the Hotel Amilcar, from where he sent a blank postcard back to his family in
Mississippi. The next day he travelled to Hammamet, rented a hotel room, brought swimming
trunks, and by the afternoon drowned in the ocean. That’s what Will Long tells us in the
information of his new release as Celer. In 2015 Long undertook the same travel, in the same time
frame and made the recordings, which he used for the music on this CD. There are quite some field
recordings to be noted in this, but also the trademark long sustaining sounds by Celer. iTunes
opens up and calls this new age; and yes, sometimes I think Celer plays a bit of new age doodles,
especially in a piece like ‘In All Deracinated Things’, which is the most ‘Celer’ like piece here. Yet I
wouldn’t call this new age in the way it is presented now. The bits with just field recordings are way
too strange for that; these are very silent pieces and have the faintest trace of sound. A piece like
‘Base Haze’ is simply a far away drone and far from the more musical touch we know. In that sense
this album is more like a story, a radio drama (without words that is) mixed with the usual ominous
drone/ambience of Celer. That makes this yet again an album by Celer that is slightly different from
the many that he does – and looking at his bandcamp there is a lot of Celer available (and many that
I didn’t hear). I am never sure what is the deciding factor when it comes to releasing music on a
physical format or keep it as a download only, but somehow it seems that Will Long knows perfectly
what is a bit different and that those should be available on CD or LP. If you are more of casual fan,
then I’d say this particular one is one to get, mixing the classic Celer sound with some refined field
recordings, wilfully obscure sounds and all of that into a great story/journey. However sad the
origins of these are. (FdW)
––– Address:

THOMAS BRINKMANN – A 100O KEYS (2LP/CD/DL on Editions Mego)

How personal can you get with the sound of a piano? Now imagine the same question applied to
per se de-humanised instruments in this digital day and age. Dedicated to Conlon Mancarrow
whose sometimes virtually unplayable works needed the performative prowess of player pianos to
be brought to life, A 1000 Keys by Thomas Brinkmann delves into the netherworld of the machine
to summon up the idiosyncratic subjective touch of and in digital sound production.
    Brinkmann’s album focusses squarely on expressive qualities and quantities. His conceptual
approach is harsh, reductive, mathematic and sardonic. Yet, his works also touch upon all too
human aspects buried deep within violent rhythms, dynamic bursts and glowing timbre, like a racing
Alvin Curran with Anton Webern and Pierre Boulez on the backseats. No viruoso displays of power
here, but the tenderness of brutality and ‘le son brut’ worn on the sleeve. Crossing bridges in a
revolution and convolution between Gábor Lázár, Lorenzo Senni, the grand piano maestros and –
of course, and still – Thomas Brinkmann himself. (SSK)
––– Address:


Sound artist and field recorded Bethan Kellough presents a live recording (at Volume, Los Angeles,
30th April this year) build from locational recordings made in South Africa and Iceland.
    Geothermal activities escape through small openings in the earth’s surface; the opening
offering a view upon a world below, shrouded in darkness. It’s this unknown and unfathomable
space Kellough excavates and projects outward as a journey through an imagined (not: imaginary)
environment; not unlike an aural Jules Verne, of sorts.
The sounds of boiling hot darkness are met with recordings of winds blowing through South African
bushes; blissful and cooling. Open too. Kellough cleverly manages to mix and master both
sentiments in an ambisonic blend with her own instrumental lines otherworldly narrative that offers
as many factual and actual clues as it presents new and hitherto unknown sonic clashes and
textures. (SSK)
––– Address:

EN ALAS DEL SONIDO (2CD compilation by Luscinia Discos)

Don’t get me wrong; I understand why Luscinia Discos tells us that they ‘are pleased to present
the first compilation of Luscinia Discos label, in which we have been working for a long time and
thought’, but if the aim is a ‘broad representation of the various authors and eclectic proposals
that combine our label since its creation in 2010′, I must admit this: I knew that already. I reviewed
many of the label’s releases, and value it very highly as them being a great label. But a compilation
CD to promote the label is an old fashioned idea, I think. Why not make a free download compilation
on Bandcamp and send out with every order a free download code? You may have guessed it
already; I don’t like to review label compilations, never have really, and it’s an opinion that I keep on
repeating. Yes, I do understand the need for a label to promote their work, and a CD may bring
them attention from unlikely media, but Vital Weekly is not an unlikely media. It is a very likely
medium to pick up news on releases by labels as Luscinia Discos.
    Here we have music from Martin Rach, Carlos Suarez, Marco Ferrazza, Edith Alonso, Eduardo
Polonio, Juan Antonio Nieto, Miguel Alvarez-Ferdandez Y Sandra Santana, Duran Vazquez, Josep
Lluis Galiana, Pablo Cobollo, Sebastian Wesman, iO, Musica Immobiliaria, James Forest, Carlos
Izquierdo, Javier colis, Number 42, Elefante Branco, Adrian Juarez, Lee Bernal & Senmove and Julien
Elsie; that’s the complete list. Their music deals with electronics, electro-acoustic, improvisation,
radio art, field recordings, drone, sound art and anything in between. There is even a shitty rock
song which meaning eludes me, just like the synth ballad a bit further down the line on the second
disc. That means that Luscinia Discos, known to me as a great label, might dabble in music that I
don’t ‘get’ or like, so perhaps they should be careful with what they mail me in the future; I
appreciate their broad taste, but if this compilation shows me anything that I didn’t know, it is
that some of the music they may release is not what we like in Vital Weekly and that otherwise
they are a fine label. (FdW)
––– Address:


So did I really just wrote I don’t like reviewing compilations? Hell yes, I did. Then why would I
voluntarily spend another 5 or more hours on this, which actually comes to me as a download,
even ‘Volume 6’, even it is also available as a double CD? The reason is actually quite simple. Last
week, in one of those attempts to sort out boxes of stuff, I found a whole bunch of CDRs, old
demo’s, copies of CDs that I made and some real CDs, including some promotional ones from Silent
Records in the nineties. Stuff like Deeper Than Space, and that lead to me playing, in those sparse
spare hours, music by The Heavenly Music Corporation, Arthur Dent and previous volumes of ‘From
Here To Tranquility’. It hadn’t escaped my attention that Silent Records was dormant for many
years but now, in 2016, resurrected by the original owner, Kim Cascone, who opened up a
bandcamp page and sought out submissions for the sixth volume of ‘From Here To Tranquility’,
which is subtitled ‘The Renaissance’. When years ago lots of people started to play around with
synthesizers and try and be Tangerine Dream again (think Emeralds) I predicted that the next
revival would be ambient house music. Silent Records, along with Fax +49-69/450464, was in
the nineties the home for the more engaging ambient house; music infused and inspired by the
world of techno and house that wasn’t shy of a bit of experiment. Just as how I loved these
things. I was playing the first disc of ‘Volume 6’, which could have been subtitled ‘The Reunion’
as it all the ‘old’ names from the ‘old’ Silent catalogue dropped by; Vuemorph, Heavenly Music
Corporation, Ambient Temple Of Imangination, Spice Barons, 23 Degrees, Deeper Than Space,
Legion of Green Men, Pelican Daughters with only Thessalonians missing. Many of these pieces
have that classic Silent ambient sound; big washes of synthesizer sounds (as expected I guess),
but a bass drum, a sequencer, bass synth and rolling hi-hats are never far away. A bit of voices/
sampled conversations and one is transported back in time, twenty years to be exact. And while I
haven’t played much Silent Records in the past ten years, except for some Heavenly Music
Corporation to which I return from time to time, this sounded very exciting again. Maybe because
the whole cosmic touch sans rhythm lost its appeal a bit for me, or maybe because I like a bit of
(techno/house) rhythm in my cosmos.
    The second disc of Volume 6 contains some old acquaintances from the experimental field,
such as Robert Rich, Controlled Bleeding, Arcane Device and Chris Meloche, along with Meterpool and
Operation:Mindswipe. Here we go down the stairs of the basement and arrive in the underground,
with some pretty dark soundscapes and the absence of rhythm. The take on ambient is the
industrial variation a bit, also something that Silent Records did pretty well with, with PGR, Arcane
Device (with a fine un-ambient piece of feedback) and Illusion Of Safety (the latter not present on
any of this, sadly). Meloche plays guitar, which is perhaps the biggest surprise here.
    Volume Seven, though download only, is also divided in two ‘discs’, ‘day and ‘night’, but I am
not sure if you could burn the entire two hours and forty-five minutes onto two discs. What’s
interesting with these twenty-four pieces is that rhythm, such as we found on the first disc, is
absent here (except for the opener by Ethernet and Robin Parmer towards the end), and in general
one could say this is drone end of ambient music; perhaps also one of the interests of Kim Cascone
these days (known to organise drone film events also). These drones are however with subtle
differences. There are the ones created with analogue synthesizers, modular synthesizers, but also
from computer processing and guitar playing, such as by Dirk Serries or Hakobune. Gunshae takes
his samples from the orchestra and proofs to be an oddball in this collection. The track list read like
a who’s who in the world of ambient and drones, with celebrities such as Scanner and Serries, but
alos mainstay as France Jobin, Hakubone, Yui Onodera, older names as Ethernet, Randy Greif, Nad
Spiro, new ones as Miguel Isaza and Aume, but it also introduces a whole lot of new names for me,
such as Ben Guiver, Metcalfde/Chasny, Pragma, Howthonn, Robin Parmer, Kris Force, Jack Hertz,
mick Rooke and Mystical Sun.
    Indeed a true Renaissance, these five hours of ambient bliss. And played in this order, one gets
from the dance floor to the chill room; just like in the old days. (FdW)
-–– Address:


Since she started out playing music, which is since the year 2000, Belgium’s Annelies Monsere has
a released a bunch of records, not all of which were reviewed here, but some were, such as her
previous album ‘Marit’ (see Vital Weekly 699). Much of her work is found on EPs, rather than long
players. When she started out Monsere played the piano and it was mostly instrumental, but when
she literally found her voice, her career took off. On this new album she sings as well as plays the
organ, keyboard, piano, melodica, guitar, bass and cello while Yumi Verplancke and Stevet Marrey
provide extra vocals on two pieces. Yes, one could say her music is folk-like, or dreampop, a word I
used myself in the previous review. Another word one could add here on this new album is ‘drone’,
as that’s what this also is. Monsere plays the organ or keyboard to lay down a continuous sound
and on top of that she sings; not very loud. Usually she uses her voice in a very introspective way,
serving the music, rather than the music serving the voice. The other instruments are used more
sparsely, usually half way through a song; one of the other instruments starts to play a melody.
Last time I wrote that the music of Monsere is not always my cup of tea, but I must say this new
record is something I enjoyed immensely. Maybe it has to do with the fact autumn is coming, days
are getting shorter, darker also, and that sort of thing, and Monsere struck the right chord in me?
I am not sure but it sounds very likely that something like that is the case. Monsere’s music is a
very intimate affair, best enjoyed alone, at night, with a fine bottle of red wine. ‘Debris’, the word,
may imply rumble, but this is far from being rumble.
-–– Address:


Oh, ah, oh-oh, oe-oe, a-a-a-a. Dada is breathing life into the music industry. That is to say: what
Klosowski serves here is the perfect antidote to the warning signpost of home taping as the killer
of the music industry. His Kassetteninstrument is build from eight SONY-Walkmans (or is it:
Walkmen, then?). Klosowski can play this instrument by hand or via automatic triggers. And mind!
This is way before any digital sampling. As a matter of fact: one does need to be told this music
was made, performed and recorded somewhere in the 80s as it does not in the least bit sound
 that way.
    Klosowski’s LP is released on the one and the only label one can imagine for this kind of
plunderphonics, cut up, rough and ready, dada, edgy, noisy and that’s of course Gagarin of Felix
Kubin. It’s quirky and bounces all over the place, but also quite human: Klosowski as the homo
    His tape machine doesn’t have the precision of digital sampler units. His tapes run and run.
He switches these on and off. Phasings occur, tapes have drop outs and other defects. There’s a
lot of rumble, flow and flutter too. And still – or better: because of this! – Klowoski manages to
extract rhythmic collages from his instrument that rival dub, triphop, romantic (lounge) ambient
and even glitch. The machine lives and breathes like a groovy beast. (SSK)
––– Address:


In Germany the radio play is a true art form in and of itself. And Felix Kubin is one of the unsung
masters of this trade. His aural adventures have also been used in setting with visual stimuli: for
film and theatre. Dekorder now releases the second volume of the analog futurist’s works in the
soundtrack realm.
    As much as one can question Kubin’s ability to adhere to a basic song structure in his own –
free – work, with the commissioned pieces for film and theatre he completely cuts loose the
constraints of form and format. The listener is thrown from musique concrète-like collages of field
recordings, sampled orchestras and noise to 8-bit electronics and meshed up quite haunting voice
    While there’s still some aspects of playfulness in Kubin’s works presented here, the tone is
more sombre and gloomy then known and perhaps expected of him. More composed too. The
record offers quite some brilliant miniatures of Kubin’s best sparkling musical inventiveness, but
there are also many works that struggle to stand on their own, as just music, without the screen
or stage setting. Then again: both Menuets for proto-electronics and harpsichord rank amongst
Kubin’s best pieces in sheer musical joy. (SSK)
––– Address:

BADER MOTOR – DREI DREI DREI (LP/DL by Veals & Geeks / Les Disques en Rotin Reunis

Kraut of now? Pretty damn close I’d say. With quite some dashes and added touches of Alfred
Jarry, Thomas Pynchon and JG Ballard. Think of a motoring beat with head nodding rhythm plowing
away on a dead straight highway with all kinds of unexpected and above all alien elements surfacing
in the headlights. Hair blowing in the wind, riding with the top down. Mind. Blown. Too. And the
futurism isn’t surreal. It’s odd, maybe, but experimented upon with serious precision. Pedal to the
metal in crypto-groove.  This is the soundtrack to a possible solution for a motion picture problem.
If you can find one. Collect them all, somewhere lost in ‘pataphysical translation. Only to be found,
maybe in the next room, where the music is not as loud. And the motorik beat goes on and on.
––– Address:


Maybe you, like me, have no idea who Thai Ngoc is? I looked it up and was surprised: “Thái Ngọc
(born 1942) is a Vietnamese insomniac. According to Vietnamese news organization Thanh Niên,
he is best known for his claim of being awake for 43 years. Thanh Niên also claimed that Ngoc
acquired the ability to go without sleep after a bout of fever in 1973, but according to the Vietnam
Investment Review, there was no apparent cause. At the time of the Thanh Niên report, Ngoc
suffered from no apparent ill effect other than being unable to sleep. He was mentally sound and
carried two 50 kg (110 lb) bags of pig feed down a 4 km (2.5 mi) road every day. In October 2006,
however, Ngoc reported that he was beginning to feel “like a plant without water” due to the lack of
sleep.” Ah that explains why the cover says ‘Sleep Well’ on the inside. Orphax could turn this into a
series; there are more insomniacs to be found on Wikipedia. I wrote before on the subject of sleep
and music. I don’t believe in playing music whilst being asleep, simple as that. I like to hear music
when I am awake. I am not sure what Orphax intends with this music; is it for Thai Ngoc to sleep
well while hearing this, or is for him to play right before going to sleep? I guess it is not the most
important question. The piece last exactly one hour and is a bit different from previous Orphax
releases, though the differences are in the details. In his recent works Orphax approach to drones
seemed a bit more pure tone/synth like, even when using his trusted computer tool, Audio Mulch.
In this new work that seems less apparent and Orphax uses slightly more hissy and obscured,
clouded drones generated from what could very well be a set of field recordings, just a ventilator
shaft recorded on a hissy cassette, to be the starting point, but then expanded, processed and
transformed into this hour long dark rumble. It shows Orphax being capable to expanding his drone
universe a bit further, without making a radical break with the past (which is something that is not
very likely to happen anyway very soon). Think Stephan Mathieu if you are looking for something to
compare this particular Orphax work with, and Orphax is on par with him, I’d say. This is a very well
made piece of drone music. (FdW)
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HOWARD STELZER – NORMAL BIAS (6 cassettes by Ballast)

It is no secret I guess that I know mister Stelzer personally for a long time and as such I am
probably not the most objective person to review his new releases. But then this sort of stuff
lands in my letterbox, so technically I could give it to someone else, for that all necessary more
objective review, but then I have no access to the music myself. You see the dilemma?
    Everything that Howard Stelzer does deals with cassettes, as a medium to record on, but also
for playback and mixing; the final mix is made using a TEAC 4 track recorder, so there is an all round
analogue feel to all of his work, recorded, addition of sound effects, editing and filtering. Stelzer’s
music has that beautiful lo-fi texture that is so characteristic of cassettes. Much of recent releases
by Stelzer are on compact disc, a medium that he also loves (I happen to know) for documenting
his sound works on but here it arrives on six cassettes, which should not be regarded as twelve
different pieces, but as one long piece that changes. Maybe it’s better to see this as music in twelve
parts? In his earliest work Stelzer’s work was all-more about cut-up and collage, using the start/
pause/stop button to cut sound in and out of the mix. In recent years he reaches for long form
sounds, picking motor sounds, ventillators and big empty factory spaces and add sound effects to
them, to create more drone like textures, and that’s something I like very much in his work. One has
the idea of being locked in a spare room of a factory and you hear the machines rumbling outside
your room; a bit remote, distant and if you move your head the sound changes. Just like well-made
drone music would do. Somewhere buried in the mix you’ll be able to find the rattling of single
acoustic object, flapping in the wind, rattling down the pavement or maybe hand cranked by mister
Stelzer; on other occasions he slips in a bit of field recording, via some chatter picked up at a
concert or on the street (a car passes sometimes).
    I have no idea how long all of this; it seems like I was playing this for a few hours, but maybe
some sides were on repeat for a couple of times, so inevitably it also seemed to last longer; that
too is the power of cassettes, I like (& love) to think. I have no idea what the real length of this is;
the press text says two+ hours, but I might have been at it for at least five or so and never for a
single moment was bored or looking for the next record. This was a long release, but it was a totally
rewarding release. This is an excellent release and strictly limited to fifty copies. (FdW)
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  Resource Manipulation)

There are quite some distinct musical differences that decide if Matthew Atkins uses his own name
or the moniker Platform. The ultimate deciding factor, I think, is the use of rhythm. That is totally
absent in the work of Atkins-as-Atkins, but is very important if it is Atkins-as-Platform. Here he
teams up with one Harvey Sharman-Dunn, who is a composer, filmmaker, producer and lecturer in
visual media, and who is a member of Echolocation; he was a member of Chomsky, Bocca and half
of Swiss Guards, all of which are names I vaguely recall seeing somewhere, but without hearing the
music. Atkins is playing electronic music but also handles the drum kit for Crumbling Ghost, NEWST,
Slowgun, Smallgang and Russell And The Wolf Choir.
    The music on ‘Quiet Buildings’ is the result of file sharing, and on side A is Matthew using
Harvey’s sound material, while on the other side roles reverse. No rhythm here, but there is lots
small sounds from computer manipulation; crackling, sustaining, gliding and granulating. There is
a calm sound through the sounds and processes used, but that doesn’t lead to ominous drone
pieces. It has more to do with field recordings being processed and the results follow the unsteady
curves of that input, but sound completely electronic and none of the original input can be
recognized. There is also a speaking voice in here, somewhere, which reminded me of the ambient
music released by Silent Records some twenty years ago (or recently, as can be read elsewhere); in
fact some of this music would still fit quite well with their recently revived ‘From Here To Tranquility’
series. It moves to a volume level that is not very loud and maybe as such the cassette is a medium
in which some of the delicacies get lost of this. This kind of computer based treatment music works
best in the digital domain (CDs, CDRs, download), I think, unless these two composers wanted to
add a bit of hiss as an aesthetic feature on here. I thought this was a most enjoyable release of
electronic ambient music; nothing new under the sun, but very well made. (FdW)
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STEVE RODEN – PCHUILCSAIGMON (cassette by Farpoint Recordings)

Oh, all right, a Steve Roden cassette, I thought, and started playing it. I did not look at the
information or the cover. After a while I looked up, thinking; ‘is that the Steve Roden I expected
or perhaps a namesake of whom I haven’t before?’ I then read the information and the text on
the cover. It is he who I assumed to be. I wondered because the music didn’t sound like Steve
Roden at all, or at least so I thought upon the first listening session.
    It all deals with a cassette that Roden found and on the first side it was labelled by his father
as ‘Chicago’s best’, and on the other side it read in his own handwriting ‘Paul Simon’. “let’s be clear.
the music is aweful. but the object. is full our traces’, as Roden writes in the liner notes (is Paul
Simon’s music aweful? I may not agree). Of course this has to do with connecting with the past,
his deceased father, childhood memories and such like and snippets of the music are sampled and
played here, in two sidelong pieces, with titles as anagrams, ‘Animus Lop’ and ‘Sea Bitch Cogs’. But
unlike many of Roden’s other work in which sound material also uses samples and loops and it is
played out over a longer duration of time, the music here is rather concise and to the point, almost
like a ‘song’. I guess that’s where I got confused. These pieces-within-the piece do use a different
set of sounds per segment, and I have no idea what ‘Chicago’s Best’ could be but then I also didn’t
recognize any Paul Simon in here, I must admit. It sometimes goes in to the world of pop music.
Around seventeen minutes into ‘Animus Lop’ for instance it sounds like micro techno, not with a
firm stomping bass line, but quite rhythmical, and surely not easy to be recognized as something
that comes normally out the hands of this minimalist. Perhaps minimalism is something that is not
very apparent in this work, I was thinking, as Roden easily skips through his fragmented sounds,
even when these sounds in it have a Roden like quality. It is not always as dense either as some of
his other work. I am quite excited about this release as it shows a different side to Steve Roden,
even when on repeated listening one can spot the parallels between his ‘other’ work and this. I
would like to see Roden expand further on this course, and perhaps do a proper pop album one
day. (FdW)
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