Number 1141

MAP 71 – VOID AXIS (CD by Foolproof Projects/Fourth Dimension Records) *
MODELBAU – ZENDER (CD by Antenna Non Grata) *
QST – 2023 (cassette by Cassauna) *
HAARVOL – PERIPHERAD DEBRIS (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
LLARKS – LIKE A DAYDREAM (LP by Vanguard Flowers Publishing)
SHHH…. – I, OF THE STORM (LP by Thisco)
<VEKTOR> – TOTAL LIBERATION (12″ by Gooiland Elektro)
FORESTEPPE – MÆTA (CDR by Eilean Records) *
LÄRMSCHUTZ – DONS (cassette by Faux Amis Records)
THOMAS SHRUBSOLE – THEMES AND VARIATIONS (double cassette by Parenthetical Activities)
ASHAN – FAR DRIFT AFIELD (cassette by Inner Islands) *
KENJI KIHARA – SCENES OF SCAPES (cassette by Inner Islands) *


About a month or two ago everybody on Facebook seemed anxious to list their top 10 records (“No
explanation needed”; why not, I wondered) and I got away because nobody asked me. Thank god. I
hate chain letters. A record that certainly would be on my list as an all-time favourite is ‘Hope’, the
second album by Bourbonese Qualk, which is something that should be no surprise; I mentioned
this when discussing their ‘Archive 1980-1986’ boxset in Vital Weekly 1065. Ever since buying that
LP in the early 80s I am a big fan, still owning all the original vinyl and CDs. I always thought that
Bourbonese Qualk had a distinct sound, combining industrial beats with guitars and an odd-pop
touch, which others perhaps call leftfield. Bourbonese Qualk ceased to exist in 2002 and their
catalogue was online for free download, but I am told will return in a remastered and no longer free
form. Plus some of their very early records will be released on vinyl again, which I guess is good
news, but why not go for something new (and yes, in our conservative time I realize this is a most
daring proposition) by Simon Crab, erstwhile one of the main members of Bourbonese Qualk. He
returned to the world of music with ‘After America’ (see Vital Weekly 981), pushing for me all the
right buttons again. It had the musical variety of Bourbonese Qualk, but perhaps a little bit more
streamlined and electronically enhanced. He now has a ‘real’ CD out, ‘Demand Full Automation’,
on Klanggalerie, who are known to release music from 80s musicians, such as Hula, Eric Random,
and lots of Residents off shoots. I didn’t bother deciphering the cover to find out the titles of the
pieces (they are on the label’s website anyway), but I sat back and enjoyed these forty-eight
minutes immensely. Still sweating away in summer’s heat, Simon Crab plays some lovely music,
all with the use of computers, samplers and electronics. One push button music, you may ask,
looking at the title, and maybe it is true, but these machines ooze life, melody and freshness. For
Crab it is all about the workers taking control of the automation process and “then there is a better
future”, which message I can’t subscribe too (not being a Marxist as you may remember), but I
could argue that even a non-musician, as Crab calls himself, is well-off with some automated
process in the production of music. No longer, here’s a guitar now play three chords, but here’s a
button and you need one finger to push it. It is impossible to ignore Crab’s previous, almost forty
years output and experience, as otherwise it would have been impossible to craft these lovely
tunes together. It is again very melodic, not as dense or dark as Bourbonese Qualk once could
be, but fresh, light, moving from ambient to techno to hip-hop rhythms; rhythms play anyway an
important role here, along with neatly bouncing synthesizer patterns. This is a great album.
Intelligent as well as accessible and as poppy as it is ambient. Excellent! (FdW)
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MAP 71 – VOID AXIS (CD by Foolproof Projects/Fourth Dimension Records)

It seems like yesterday that I reviewed ‘Gloriosa’, the CD version of the cassette Map 71 released
earlier on. But that was Vital Weekly 1122, so some more weeks ago than a few days. With this
being new music since the cassette (which was reviewed in Vital Weekly 1080) this is perhaps not
the quick new album indeed. Map 71 is the duo of Lisa Jayne (words, voice, art) and Andy Pyne
(drums, synth, production) and it continues the exploration of lo-fi pop music, which is now perhaps
a little less lo-fi and maybe a bit more pop at times. The production sounds like a big improvement,
which is not say it was not good last time, but there is more care for the finer details. That extra
sound dropped in the mix, a touch of delay or reverb on the percussion, less straight forward if you
will. Yet it also didn’t loose it’s post-punk charm that I loved before, the experimental edge if you
will. There is for instance the loud banging of drums and piercing synth of ‘Skeleton Gang’, in
which Jayne’s voice gets the full effect treatment. Set that against the groovy yet hooky rhythm of
‘Neonsignquietlife’ or the slightly motorik ‘The Prefab’, which is at odds with ‘Nuclear Landscapes’,
the noisiest beast this time around. Jayne’s not really singing, but reciting her poetry. Not so much
the voice, but the overall synth/drum/poetry reminded me of early Anne Clark, yet no massive
sequencer here. This is a highly varied release, and it works very well, in all this variation. It is
poetry yet also very musical; it is experimental, yet poppy and always accessible. This is a great
follow-up to ‘Gloriosa’ and I would think this is an album that could reach a wider audience. (FdW)
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Atmosfärg is a Finnish trio of Eero Savela (trumpet), Tapani Varis (double bass), Alf Forsman
(drums). Alf Forsman is a well-known rock drummer on the Finnish scene. He played for example
with Kalevala, but also with Ralf Björkenheim´s Krakatau. Varis is a Finnish mulit-instrumentalist
playing mostly within folk territories. He recorded for example an album of Finnish Jew’s harp
music! Combined here as a trio they make a jump into free improvised territories. We meet them
in a live-recorded set at Maunula-talo, Helsinki 2018. They make their statements in eight
improvisations moving between three and nine minutes. Savela improvises along melodic lines,
backed by drum and bass. He makes fine and inspired statements. His playing breaths influences
of jazz and folk traditions. The improvisations are very accessible and not very demanding. The
interplay is relaxed and unpretentious. At the same time also concentrated and focused. With to
the point contrasting and underlining movements by bass and drum. A little joy! Released by the
Helsinki-based independent label At First, a music label focusing on local underground culture
founded by composer Ville Vokkolainen. (DM)
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Christopher Chaplin is London-based musicians and composer. As far as I know he debuted in
2010 with an album in collaboration with Thomas Pötz. In 2012 a duo-work with Hans-Joachim
Roedelius (Cluster, etc.) for Sub Rosa followed. As a duo they performed around the world. In
2016 he released his first solo-album ‘Je suis le Ténébreux’. He took inspiration from a poem by
Gérard de Nerval. With ‘Paradise Lost’ the poem by the same name of Milton inspired Chaplin for
his next work. It is a poem that is about the descent of fallen angels into hell. On ‘I Dread’ and ‘Of
this New World’ British tenor Nathan Vale sings phrases and words from this poem. For ‘Dave the
Shoe’ American poet and artist Leslie Winer wrote the lyrics and delivers them. Chaplin uses
samples of voices and acoustical instruments creating orchestral and choral atmospheres and
textures. The combination of voice and electronic sounds and textures work best in those
compositions that have the operatic and intense singing by Nathan Vale. The composition with
Winer’s voice is more weird and eccentric. Chaplin knows how to make fine combinations of
vocals and poetry on the one hand, and electronic textures on the other hand. It is drone-like
compositions, with repetition as an important structuring element. But I didn’t found them very
surprising or interesting. I think results are best appreciated when one is first of all interested in
the poetry. Like most of his earlier work, the album is released on Fabrique, a Vienna-based
label, focused on electronic and indie music. (DM)
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MODELBAU – ZENDER (CD by Antenna Non Grata)
QST – 2023 (cassette by Cassauna)

Full disclosure: I am a biased reviewer! Frans de Waard, the artist behind both Modelbau and
QST, has been my friend and collaborator for around 20 years. He’s also the editor of Vital
Weekly, which you are reading now. So don’t expect impartiality, I’m not able to do that. I am
a fan.
    One of Frans’ qualities that I like very much is his directness. No bullshit, no pretence. Frans
says exactly what he thinks… and when he gets an idea for music, he just makes it. When the
music has a quality that makes it distinct from other music he’s made, he gives it a new “band”
name. Why not? Modelbau seems to be Frans’ moniker for noisier and lower-tech music with
tapes and Dictaphones taking the starring role, though I don’t think he’s as strict with limitations
as he’s been with previous solo projects. On his latest album as Modelbau, “Zender”, it seems
that Frans got the idea to make an album out of radio sounds, and that’s exactly what it is. Some
pieces don’t sound as if there were any sound sources aside from a radio or two, while occasional
processing never oversteps the featured analogue source. The opening track, aptly titled
“Transmitter”, is a bed of calming static. Other tracks exploit voices caught between stations, or
music picked up behind white-noise fuzz, or the high-frequency squeal of short wave. All seven
pieces are distinct, focusing on some different type of sound that can be coaxed out of a radio.
The overall effect is rather soothing… not as monolithic as Wander’s stoic drones or Shifts’
guitar hum, but similar in its minimalism and compositional patience.
    QST seems to be reserved for Frans’ lighter, more conspicuously crowd-pleasing ambient
techno. The “2023” cassette, released by Important sub-label Cassauna, has none of the
challenging rough edges of Modelbau. It sounds loose, exploratory, unhurried as Frans allows
stark synth patterns to repeat with slight changes for two fifteen-minute tracks. I’m not sure
whether it’s intentional homage, but in “2023” I can hear echoes of 1990s electronic music like
the “From Here to Tranquillity” compilations or even FAX Records/Pete Namlook (though without
that label’s unfortunate smooth-jazz/fusion tendencies). There may not be as much to chew on
here as with Modelbau, but that’s okay. “2023” is an album of easy-going, spacious bleep that
you’ll nod your head to. (HS)
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HAARVOL – PERIPHERAD DEBRIS (CD by Moving Furniture Records)

Do not operate a car while listening to this new batch of albums from the dependably excellent
Moving Furniture label. The narcotic stasis reproduced on any of these three titles is likely to lull
you into deep REM slumber and cause you to swerve into a ditch. If listening on a train, you might
miss your station. If listening while standing up, you’ll fall down. I think you get the idea. Personally,
I do most of my focused listening while wearing headphones and reclining in my comfiest chair,
 and can tell you that each one of these albums provoked some serious delta waves. Perhaps
most coma inducing of this current batch of furniture-in-motion is the nearly motionless “Peripheral”
by the Portuguese trio Haarvöl. The band’s latest is a tastefully pleasing drone album that races by
with all the fire and immediacy of sleeping clouds on a Sunday afternoon. As the watery tones
undulate along, synthesizer thorns flit about the aural periphery and menacing shards of guitar f
ill in the spherical gloop with enough teeth to keep the album from scraping New Age bottom. It
neatly avoids cloying New Age with a nice balance of simultaneous room-shaking low-frequency
dread and heavenly-chorus warm hug. It’s not until the last song that they begin to pull back the
gauze and expose the string instruments sawing below the oceanic reverb. There’s even a gotcha
moment, a quick cut that snaps things out of slumber in a way that jars with what’s come before.
    Relatively more active, yet created out of more static stuff, is “You Are the Universe” by
Preliminary Saturation, which is credited to the duo of Steffan de Turck (aka Staplerfahrer) and
Wouter Jaspers. Though perhaps calling this a duo album is unfair, because there is a phantom
third member of the band here: Jos Smolders provided the source sounds in a roundabout sort of
way. His 2004 album “Textures and Mobiles”, itself made out of CCITT and DTMF tones (sine
waves and crinkling white noise) from telephone interference, made such a strong impact of de
Turck and Jaspers that they used it the basis of a live collaboration at a concert for Smolders’
birthday. Perhaps to further honour the highly influential Smolders or perhaps just in the spirit of
discovery in continual recycling, de Turck and Jaspers went back to “Textures and Mobiles” to
transform it into something else entirely. Considering how brittle the foundational sound elements
are, this album contains warm and very full-sounding music, some of it even approaching
accessible, somewhat ambient electro-pop. The first of the three sections is not dissimilar to Moving
Furniture’s preferred mode of pleasantly-somnolent hum, with an engaging depth and attention to
sonic detail. While the component sounds are most recognizable on this track, the artists transform
them radically. The second section, “Die Schwerelosigkeit” (“The Weightlessness”) is strangely
titled, as it’s the most grounded of the three. The opening rhythmic beep reminded me of Kraftwerk’s
“Radio-Activity”, a spare pulse that morphs into laid-back techno-pop. Reader, I must admit that at
this point, I had a huge smile on my face. Had to go back to listen a second time before moving on.
The album’s closer is another looping crackle with some depth-charge bass tones underpinning
jabs of tape-remind punctuation and electric-shock percussion. A wonderful album, full stop.
    Ilia Berlorukov’s album strays from his usual palette of improv saxophone to present four
electro-acoustic compositions. Each of these seems based on Jason Kahn-ish blocks of
unwavering synthesizer hum with field recordings of incidental sounds such as people walking
in a room, having a conversation far from the microphone, or simply shifting things around amid
ambient air. The effect is strangely disorienting. The electronic sounds hover at the lower reaches
of the frequency spectrum, almost like an engine idling with a quiet, arrhythmic tick. Layered
(barely) over it are disconcertingly ambiguous sounds that are both pedestrian and alien at the
same time. When the synths do take centre stage, they seem to be concealing something… for
example, why are car engines revving in “One Never Meets Anybody”, and is that another song
with its own drumbeat and baseline buried deep in the mix? What to make of the sounds of
children shouting down a long hallway? Taken as a whole, “Nobody Ever Escaped From There”
is as gray and bleak as its title and cover art suggest. (HS)
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It’s been a long time since I reviewed ‘Transit Mundi’ by Spanish composer Carlos Suarez
Sanchez. That was back in Vital Weekly 863, and now there is his second album. I have no idea
what he did in the meantime, so for all we know he was composing the thirteen pieces of ‘Post
Tenebras Lux’. Unlike his previous album this new album is all instrumental, so no more Latin
texts and thus (?) also no gothic undercurrent. What stays is the computer treatment of whatever
sound source Suarez finds usually and he treats these so that the listener no longer recognizes
the origin. One could guess that there is quite a bit of insect sounds here, such as in ‘Reflexion
Bioacustica’ but then in ‘O Tempo Do Desengano’ it is very hard to recognize anything beyond a
bit of hiss, reverb and obscure scratching sounds. Some of these pieces are a bit too similar for
my taste, with massive stages of hissing insect-like sounds, an extended use of reverb and similar
compositional built-ups that are used throughout this. Once he starts to use different sounds, like
the restaurant sounds of ‘Finisterre’ or without the reverb approach he does something that makes
his pieces different. It is, so I feel, something he should do more. Also the use of found voices, now
only in a few pieces, is something that marks the difference and could certainly be expanded. It is
that sort of thing that makes another, less heard form of musique concrete, perhaps more like a
radio play and Suarez would do well in being a bit more critical when it comes to choosing pieces
to release. (FdW)
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I remember attending a concert by Jerome Noetinger & Lionel Marchetti back in 2000 (or sometime
near then) and thinking: damn, Jerome’s music is so good! I wonder why he doesn’t have very many
recordings available? Thankfully, that’s no longer an issue; Noetinger has become quite prolific in
the ensuing years, which is good news for listeners who aren’t able to catch his performances of
wildly manhandled tapes, radios and a table full of electronic gadgets. The Mikroton label has just
produced two more CDs of his, both in different collaborative duos: one with SEC_ (aka Italian
artist Mimmo Napolitano) and one with Mexican composer/sound artist Angélica Castelló. While
both albums are studio-created compositions, both retain the raw, energetic immediacy of live
    “La Cave Des Étendards”, which features both Noetinger and SEC_/Napolitano playing Revox
reel-to-reel tape recorders, is an unsettling and demanding listen. The artists create a jarring,
event-driven collage that hurtles forward without providing any space to breathe. It rapidly cycles
from one storm cloud of aggressive noise to the next, with bits of warped dialogue and squealing
tape contorting violently across the stereo field. This harsh music is in constant flux, refusing to
permit any atmosphere to settle in for too long. On headphones, the sonic clarity is striking; rounded
low bass, confrontational percussion slam and fidgety white-noise blasts play across a sound field
that remains legible even at its most dense. Towards the end of the first song, “L’Orecchio di
Diongi”, they reach a crescendo of especially remarkable malevolence. I can even imagine fans of
power electronics getting a kick out of this.
    Relatively more subdued (but only relatively!) is Noetinger’s collaboration with Angélica
Castelló. Noetinger’s hyperactive bloop is still easily recognizable among these seven self-
contained songs, but unlike on “La Cave…” he is rarely in attack mode. Each piece is a unified
mixture of barely-identifiable materials with an implied/oblique narrative through-line. The episodic
nature of the album reminds me of a radioplay, moving from scene to scene while describing
abstracted urban sonic spaces. (HS)
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Lavish is the only word I can think of when I look at this packaging. Standard packaging is no
longer the standard for this Italian label. So upon opening, what do we have? A ‘cross-folded
envelope’, containing two CDs worth of music, one by Enrico Coniglio and one by Stefano
Guzzetti, and two books, 25×25 cm with photography by Stefano gentile and Monica Testa. The
overall art direction is by Chris Bigg, whom you may know from his work for 4AD and David Sylvian.
I believe the pictures came first and the music is inspired by it. Each book is divided in two parts;
turn over the book when you get to the middle and there is a new set. In all of these picture books,
decay and places of decay seem to play a big role; an old amusement park, a graveyard or an
ancient hospital. This being photographed in Italy (I assume) means that Roman Catholic imagery
is never far away. No persons to be seen anywhere, to add further to the idea of isolationism and
abandonment. These are beautiful pictures that get exactly the right tunes. First there is Enrico
Coniglio’s three-piece suite of desolate tunes. He is not your traditional of lengthy suites of synth/
field recording based drone music but in these three pieces he uses a variety of instruments, such
as piano, guitar, strings and drums, next to the crackling of vinyl and a female voice. The latter
reminding me of Portishead and sung by Alessandra Trevisan while Peter Paul Gallo on vibes,
percussions and objects. This music sounds very modern classic but also very moody. Sometimes
it seems as if the parts don’t add up, played separately and only in the mix met up for the first time.
It is perhaps music that could have fitted easily on 4AD so I was thinking (a package of a previous
release by him reminded me of the same thing; see Vital Weekly 1105) and its very introspective, a
bit sad, perhaps, and hauntingly beautiful while retaining an experimental edge, which is a thing I
am pretty much a sucker for.
    Stefano Guzzetti has seven pieces in about the same time, around forty minutes, and he
created the music all by himself playing piano, glockenspiel, Roland JP8000, Korg KP3, treatments,
field recordings and reel-to-reel tapes. The piano is the main instrument for him I should think and it
is a few steps away from the gothic youthful spleen of his Waves On Canvas project (Vital Weekly
837). he plays it thoughtful, gives it the full reverb treatment, just as Brian Eno would do with Harold
Budd, but Guzzetti also add a fine blend of electronics, long sustaining tones, shimmering textures
and percussive like bangs on the glockenspiel (slowed down no doubt); sometimes a bit of text is
picked from a radio transmission afar. And all of this, and that should be no surprise, is played with
some of the same sad elegance as the music of Coniglio, but these seven pieces stay closer
together in terms of sounds used, moods created and overall composition. That is easily
understood as it fits the pictures of decay very well, but seen as a set of pieces independently
of the music I could wish for a bit more variation in this perhaps. Otherwise, top package, all
together. (FdW)
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Damn. There is a lot going on here. The latest album from Andy Ortmann (who is also the man
behind Panicsville and the Nihilist label) has so many ideas crammed onto its three LPs; it’s
difficult to assimilate. In fact, I’ll confess now that any review, written out of necessity after a few
listens, will only scratch the surface… my overwhelming impression of “Pataphysical Electronics”
is that it will require more time and close listening for me to absorb. The level of sonic detail,
compositional variety, and the sheer number of ideas here demand prolonged immersion. If I’m
reminded of anything, it’s Nurse With Wound, Luc Ferrari or Bernard Parmegiani… more than a
mere sound that you turn on as ambience, but music that you live with, revealing nuances with
sustained attention. But because I’m reviewing this after a few listens, I can only tell you that I
know that I’ll be returning to “Pataphysical…” often… ask me about it again in 2020 and I’ll have
more to say.
    Here’s one example of what I mean. The piece “Eating a Dead Horse” (a hilariously gruesome
title, by the way… though, when you think about it, why would anyone eat a live horse?) is only four
minutes long, yet goes through several distinct phases: it starts as a remarkably detailed and
evocative recording of things landing water (what is landing in the water?) with synth dotting the
background. A lesser piece might sustain this for the entire duration, but instead Ortmann segues
into insistent typewriter rhythms backing Tangerine Dream, which then segues into morse code
and white noise density before finally landing in a factory that produces folly effects for Looney
Tunes cartoons. All of this in four minutes. Yet the song (as a microcosm of all the songs on this
rather long album) is not whiplash Naked City pastiche; it somehow makes sense as a single
thought, and each song makes sense in the company of the others. There are implied narratives
here… sometimes very blatantly so, as in the narrated verse of the opening “She Knows”, but
other times in solely sonic terms. The longest tracks (two of which, “Maelstrom in X Minor” which
is clearly a New Blockaders tribute of some sort, and “Four Cosntructions With Interruptions” are
edited from a cassette previously released on Fag Tapes) make clear Ortmann’s composition
chops, with passages for woodwinds and classical musique concrete. “Extended Hammered
String Environment VI” is a violent, tape-warped take on prepared piano. The final track of
sustained and treated gongs feels short at ten minutes; lesser artists might have milked an hour
put of this, but Ortmann’s sense of pacing compelled him to cut it off once it’s done its job. No
way to mistake this for table-full-of-effects-boxes kicking up a racket. “Pataphysical Electronics”
is one hell of an impressive album, easily Andy Ortmann’s best so far. (HS)
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LLARKS – LIKE A DAYDREAM (LP by Vanguard Flowers Publishing)

It was only a question of time to see Llarks, Chirs Jeely’s current incarnation make the leap from
cassettes and lathe cut records to real vinyl, but ‘Like A Daydream’ is here and it’s his first official
album on real vinyl. In the old days we knew jeely from his work as Accelera Deck and September
Plateau and since coming back out of hibernation as Llarks, focussing on the world of drone music
with the use of guitar, boxes and perhaps software; I am not entirely sure there. On the cassettes
this resulted into a rather grainy, fuzzy sound of mucho layers bouncing together, in which there is
occasional flicker of light to be detected. This new album takes matters more into the open. Still I
have very little idea what is going in terms of production, but I assume the guitar is the primary
source of sounds. This is something that is also based on seeing various pictures Llarks in concert,
I must admit, as otherwise I could as easily believe this was all based on heavily processed field
recordings or a bunch of cheap keyboards surrounded by a stack of sound devices. On the second
side the guitar becomes more apparent with strumming, chords, and tinkling, among the battle of
delays. As said Llarks opens up his sound here a bit, even when there is the occasional dark cloud
passing. Llarks moves away from the fuzzy warbles of shoegaze noise ambient and into a more
subdued, perhaps more regular form of ambient music. It is a sweeter, gentler and more at peace
with itself. More akin to the work of Stephan Mathieu, I would think, than, say Fennesz. I have no
idea if there is some kind of deliberate policy behind this slight change of sound in relation to the
change of format. I really doubt that. But I can easily see that with this gentler sound and the fact
that it is available on vinyl, Llarks’ potential audience expands and he surely deserves that. (FdW)
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SHHH…. – I, OF THE STORM (LP by Thisco)
<VEKTOR> – TOTAL LIBERATION (12″ by Gooiland Elektro)

Here we have two, albeit unrelated, cases of music with rhythm. I drew a blank with the record by
Rui Bentes, who calls himself Shhh… I tried to think which Vital team member would be suited for
this, but couldn’t think of one, and yet I still believe this is something for these pages; indeed a
curious thing. While the name Shhh… may imply something very quiet, such as the call “shhh the
music is playin”, the music by Bentes is far from quiet. While the name sounded slightly familiar I
am not sure where and if I heard the music of Shhh… before. The rhythm component is loud and
very present, sometimes bouncing in full chaos around like in full breakcore or drum ‘n bass mood,
along with ear splitting guitar sounds and digitalia running amok. Throw in a bit of voices to
complete the thing. Maybe it is, and sorry to harp on this again, the warm weather that makes that
this particular brain goes into a slow mood, not being able to pick up so much sonic information
and one that is presented with such an overload, that I simply can’t keep up. Shhh… certainly
knows how to create to very detailed and very rich music, covering some ground that is easily
labelled industrial, dance music and noise based. But it’s not something that I easily digested,
but warm weather never makes me very hungry for extensive meals. Good one for its genre.
Cold Spring Record should pay attention, I think.
    Already recorded in 2004 were two tracks by <Vektor>, but in 2015 these tracks were
rediscovered in the Enfant Terrible archives. This Dutch label has a wide interest when it comes
to rhythmic music. From elektro to synth pop to more obscured electronics and here with some
more noise based industrial music. Two <Vektor> originals and two remixes of both pieces. I am
not entirely sure why there is an Andy Warhol banana on the label, as I see very little connection
there. The originals are crude conveyer belt rhythms, recorded in an otherwise empty factory
space (i.e. there is plenty of reverb used on pretty much everything), reminding me of very early
Esplendor Geometrico. The ‘V2’ piece get a remix by Former Descent, who add a bit of consistent
4/4 rhythm to the proceedings as well as a much needed synthline, but throughout it maintains it’s
heavy character. The B-side opens with the Neugeborene Nachtmusik remix of ‘V1’, of which the
original comes after that. I played the original first and found it less industrial and even a bit more
musical than ‘V1’, even when it comes from the same root of rhythm ‘n noise. It works a bit on the
reverb units, which I think is fine. Here the remix is less musical, roles reversed I’d say, yet more
complex than the original, with sounds buried underneath popping up like a dub record, without
being dub at all. Like Shhh… quite the noisy beat blaster, but in its directness working so much
better. It could almost see me dancing – but I won’t. Too hot and all. (FdW)
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Christian Windfeld is a Danish improviser, composer and percussionist, educated at The Royal
Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark. I don’t know much about his activity. He was part of the
Aarhus-based trio Admiral Awesome. And also of the Flamingo-trio with Chris Heenan (clarinet)
and Adam Pultz Melbye (double bass). With this trio he released recently their second album,
released by Relative Pitch Records. Another trio he is involved in is Kolonihaven Unikum that
released an album on the label established by Windberg, Lydhor records. For his solo-activity he
uses the moniker Forstepersonental (= ‘first person singular’) and released two albums in 2014
and 2016. And now a single is out that recorded in collaboration with Swiss saxophone player
Tobias Meier. Recorded in a hayloft in Appenzell and in a dense industrial zone in Zürich in June
2016. Meier is a saxophonist and composer based in Zurich involved in projects like Im Wald,
Things to Sounds, Cold Voodoo, etc. Listening to their single, they had a very fruitful musical
meeting. Condensed, short improvisations with Windfeld playing small percussion and Meier
using extended techniques producing in a very communicative dialogue. They have a minimalistic
approach, limiting themselves to ‘small’ sounds. But the short textures they create this way, are
very rich and full of ideas by an intense interplay of subtle movements by both players. The
environmental sounds (traffic) in the background are absolutely not disturbing for the listening
experience. By the way, good idea to make a release of improvised music in the single-format.
That is not often seen. (DM)
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FORESTEPPE – MÆTA (CDR by Eilean Records)

Eilean Records continue to expand our horizon with news names and the first is Foresteppe, Egor
Klochikhin, from Berdsky, in Siberia. He had release with 231 before (see Vital Weekly 1009) of
some homemade music (live in the living room as it were), but this sees him expanding his sound
considerably. The label informs us that the “Russian word “Mæta” is not easy to translate. It could
be close from a mental state between boredom, routine and procrastination” and that Foresteppe
uses “acoustic guitar, piano, metallophone, whistle, melodica, mandolin and percussion”, and of
course field recordings. Foresteppe has found some way to loop these (well, easy) and to make
them sound very lo-fi (easy perhaps, but sometimes not as easy as you would think). It’s easy,
scratchy and it sounds like Foresteppe found a stack of old Ferro cassettes, of which the oxide is
almost gone, so it’s very hard to contain some music on there. Wibbly wobbly timey wimey as the
good Doctor would say, but probably not in relation to music, so I do it. Recording heads are not
clean, not a lot of magnetic particles and on top the somewhat shaky, unstable, introspective
moody tunes by Foresteppe. It has a very experimental touch to it, but it is also quite melodic, with
small bits played on guitar or keyboards. A drone lingers below, occasionally, but it’s not a drone
record. Sometimes it almost sounds like a rock record, with drums playing a somewhat prominent
role in ‘s02e02’, but played very loosely. Maybe at fifty-nine minutes just a bit too long I thought,
as it started to repeat phrases, ideas and treatments and at forty minutes this would be have been
a stronger album, but the overall quality remains high.
    Behind The Prairie Lines is South Londoner Bill Bawden and despite his previous releases on
Serein, 12Rec, Resting Bell, Audio Gourmet and Rural Colours  (all as Herzog) I had not heard of
him before. Apparently that was “delicate ambient music”, but I’d say that’s something that also can
be said of the music as The Prairie Lines, and while none such is mentioned I would think the
instrument he loves most is the piano. It seems present in all nine pieces here, even it also treated
in some ways. I’d say these treatments are a combination of analogue and digital treatments, loop
stations and a bit of field recordings are never far away. There is an overall lo-fi quality to this,
perhaps not as lo-fi as Forestopper just did, with many audible layers of hiss, but here it seems to
be the result of deliberate adding various shades of hissy tones from sound effects or plug ins; or
both actually. The Prairie Lines recorded nine pieces, spanning forty-seven minutes of very
coherent mood music. It might not be the best idea to play this straight after Forestopper, so I
became to regret, as there are some similarities to both albums. There is the slow pace of the
pieces, the hissy mood, the reverse effect, the looped sounds being treated in various, it is very
close to home. A day later, with perhaps a fresher look I thought this was all really good. Perhaps
not the most original voice, but then so wasn’t Forestopper. They are both very solid pieces of
mood music. (FdW)
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As a fan of regional American landmarks and cultural signifiers, I absolutely love the concept to
Jonnie Prey’s new Chocolate Monk CDR. This is an album about a place that you might not have
heard of, but you surely can relate to it by considering something similar in your own locale. Bob-
Lo Island Amusement Park existed on Bois Blanc Island, which is located at the mouth of the
Detroit River in Ontario but is only 18 miles away from the city of Detroit, Michigan. For several
generations, families would For a time, it was greater Detroit’s answer to Coney Island… though
strangely, Detroit’s proximity to this once-thriving amusement park is not the reason that Michigan’s
hot dog variation is called the Coney Dog. Coincidence, maybe? I digress, but only because art
about regional American culture makes my mind happily wander, and the album certainly inspired
associations I was glad to roll around in for awhile. The park operated from 1898 until 1993, when
it closed and was abandoned. The island is now home to well-manicured mansions, but some
overgrown rides and decrepit structures remain as well. Prey, a multi-media artist from Detroit, has
created an album that describes the hidden inner life of the abandoned Boblo Island Amusement
Park, as imagined by a child with fresh memories of its decay. The first piece, “Long Weird Road to
Somewhere”, is narrated by a squatter who lives in the abandoned park, explaining (to who?) how
he and his son survive amid the contaminated water and busted rides, enjoying a malt liquor amid
the moldy tinsel of what was once a funhouse, stealing food from “civilization” when they need to
and fashioning brutal weapons to defend themselves. The speaker claims to be happy, to have
chosen this life, appreciating the sunken steamboat and making peace with old spirits lurking in the
shadows.  “You could say I’m comfortable being haunted”, he explains. Surrounding his slow,
Residents-esque drawl is accompanied by sounds of water, of ghostly howls, distant dogs barking,
the sound of windblown emptiness and otherworldly laughter.
    Amanda R. Howland’s latest, “Mona Cost Returns to Canton”, is a doozy of feedback-laced
shriek captured with nasty non-production that makes Sick Llama sound like “Aja”. Part of the
album’s vitality lies in how the seams are left visible. This is raw and immediate-sounding noise,
giving the impression of an urgent message beamed out of the artist’s brain directly onto a normal-
bias cassette. The opening ditty, “Moon Crashed in the Woods”, kicks open the Tascam doors with
a white-out blast that fizzes angrily for a couple of minutes until a guitar with syrup-coated strings
rises from the depths and points haltingly towards a zonked ecstatic howl… but loses steam and
decides to go to get a beer from the fridge instead. On the third song, “Skull Crashed in the
Woods” (… hang on, was the skull in the moon? I’m confused about why things are crashing in the
woods), Howland desperately/fruitlessly insists that someone, anyone, bring her a goddamn cough
drop already. Random-seeming drop-outs, errant pause buttons, and artefacts destabilize these
songs as the battery in the delay pedal dies just before the tape runs out. (HS)
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LÄRMSCHUTZ – DONS (cassette by Faux Amis Records)

Just in case you were afraid they would be quiet, not being present in the last two (!) issues of Vital
Weekly, ‘Dons’ is the July release by one of the most productive Dutch units when it comes to
improvised music, variation ‘jazz punk’. Now again a trio with Stef Brans (guitar and electronics),
Rutger van Driel (trombone and electronics) and Thanos (spelled as Thanks on the cover, but
surely a typo) Fotiadis (drums and electronics). Recorded with the intention to do something
louder again (and not showering for a few days, but let’s not think about that) and “Every player
was allowed every effect they want, as long as it was: a: a distortion pedal, b: a fuzz pedal, c: any
other type of gain pedal”, which resulted in some forty minutes of new music. If it was classical
music, then I would say ‘con furioso’ is the appropriate musical term to describe these four pieces.
It is played with a massive amount of energy, loud and clear, most of the times and if not that then it
is loud and muddy. Lärmschutz do not allow here for long moments of rest or contemplation. They
are there, surely there is as very few people can keep with this pace and energy, but its more a
case of taking the next breath and then keep banging the drums, trombone and guitar, and
electronics are not spared. More than once it’s all electronics and the instruments seem to have
disappeared in a cloud electronic mayhem; there is no difference there I’d say. Every tool
available is applied to make improvised jazz punk noise. Another excellent release by this
unstoppable force. (FdW)
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It’s been a while since we last the name of Thomas Bey William Bailey in these pages and that is
a pity. Not only he produced some great music releases (see Vital Weekly 671731 and 748) but
also he wrote a couple of books, on noise/microsound/glitch, ‘Micro Bionic’ and on independently
released audio cassettes, ‘Unofficial Release’ (see Vital Weekly 843); plus a couple of more which
I haven’t read. For a while he was ‘away’ but now he’s back; new book in the making and this new
cassette, lasting sixty minutes. The first side is an instrumental side and the second the ‘vocal
enhanced’ side. This cassette is about “the phenomenon of autoscopy, i.e. the visualization of
doppelgängers or phantom doubles”. I can understand why we first listen to the instrumental side,
but I could argue that hearing the narration first would put things in perspective. Bailey uses a
bunch of analogue and digital techniques, including recordings made at EMS in Stockholm. As
before Bailey is on the intelligent side of noise matters. Never too loud, never too quiet, nothing is
rushed and with a keen sense for placing the right cuts at the right moment. I might be wrong but it
seems that especially on the first side Bailey is a bit softer than before. The text on the second side,
 with different music mind you, is not always as audible as it could or should be, so I still can’t tell
you what it is about. Here the music seemed at times a bit louder. It is altogether quite a mystical
work here, one that I couldn’t entirely apprehend, but one that I still enjoyed quite a bit. It is a very
fine story of which I didn’t grasp the finer details. (FdW)
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THOMAS SHRUBSOLE – THEMES AND VARIATIONS (double cassette by Parenthetical Activities)

Up until now Thomas Shrubsole was mostly known for his music under the guise of Sub Loam (and
sometimes also as Jesus On Mars and Space Capsule), but now works under his own name for this
new release, which for all I know could have been as Sub Loam as well. There is a continuation
from the previous album, as Sub Loam, called ‘The Unfolding Man’ (see Vital Weekly 1107), which I
called alien jazz atmosphere. Even more than before, and that might be the difference with the work
from Sub Loam, is that it more and more away from the world of soundscapes and into the land of
‘real’ instruments. It’s not that Shrubsole plays it as a musical genius. It’s more lo-fi picking on a
guitar, doodles on bass, drums or wind instruments and sometimes all at the same time. It’s never
really outspoken, loud or vicious, but working instead on a more intimate level, even when chaos
sips in ‘Solar Cosmoverse’. The music is played by one person, I think, as nowhere in the package
we find reason to believe otherwise (nice package anyway; a white cardboard box, prints and two
white cassettes) and Shrubsole may play all the instruments and puts them on a multi-track tape to
mix them. Two hours worth of improvised music and it moves along some crazy pastures. I was
reminded of some the more chaotic work UK’s Metamorphosis from the early 80s, or some of Nurse
With Wound’s earliest work, but both without the use of any electronics. This is some crazy music, I
should think. It is not recorded very well, but I think that adds to what I think is fascinating about this.
I seem to prefer the more introspective pieces here and somewhat less the chaotic, ‘orchestral’
ones. It is all a bit much, as much as I found this fascinating. A tape a day keeps the doctor away I
say. Now this is some outsider music, free of any style, genre or hype. (FdW)
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ASHAN – FAR DRIFT AFIELD (cassette by Inner Islands)
KENJI KIHARA – SCENES OF SCAPES (cassette by Inner Islands)

Inner Islands report back for duty with two new releases and again several bells ring loud here,
and they all say: ‘look man, this is ambient, as you know it, but you realize this is very close to new
age’. Yes sir, I am very much aware of that. Ashan is the musical project of Sean Conrad (also the
man behind the label) and he has five pieces, which are “free of composition”, which means, I think
gathering a bunch of sounds on tape and finding a mix within them, to make it sound very
harmonious. And that surely it does. The music is made with synthesizers, loop pedals (both?),
flutes and percussive elements, such as rainmakers and wind chimes. There is something very
non-directional about the music and that works quite well. It is very mellow music, to avoid the
N.A. tag, and it is without much risk or experiment. That is not bad, as it goes for lots of music that
I review, but here the aim seems to be more about pleasing the listener than with some of the other
releases in these pages. Fair enough I should think, as it cannot always be doom, gloom and edgy
experiments. With the sweltering hot weather that continues to torture the ancient building that
contains the HQ of VW (see I am getting economical with my wording?) this is music to sit down,
 feel conformable and do nothing. Occasionally rise up from the comfy chair, work out some notes
into a review and sit back again. The music of Ashan, long form sustaining sounds, pianos on an
endless delay and the rustling of rain (rain! bring it on!) makers, some sparse flute sounds, provide
a very relaxing soundtrack. Maybe I am getting all N.A. at this old age?
    From Horiuchi, Japan, “a place surrounded by nature neat the sea and the mountains”, is
Kenji Kihara and he tapes his field recordings there and works them into his music. ‘Scenes Of
Scapes” is his third album under his own name and along the way Kihara also caught some wind
chimes on tape, but that’s about the only thing that the music shares with Ashan. That is not to say
that Inner Islands found some Japanese noise artist. The music of Kenji Kihara surely is ambient
as much as Ashan’s but it is the kind of ambient that goes down quite well with Vital Weekly. It’s
mellow, but as much as Ashan, it has that much needed experimental edge, that darker
undercurrent yet also that beautiful endless sustain quality that most good ambient music has.
Hard to say what he uses for instruments, besides (processed) field recordings; I would say the
guitar plays a very big role, along with loop pedals and other rainbow electronics. Maybe there is
also a keyboard of some kind, and software to further alienate the material. Perhaps with this heat
music that works best when the sun has set, dawn is upon, when everything starts to cool down a
bit; music for twilight if you will. Of the two releases I liked this one more than the Ashan one, but I
can easily imagine Ashan’s music will appeal to more people, easier suited for Zen inspired
afternoons of meditation. As I am not very much engaged in meditation, I like the slightly rougher
(light years apart from noise of course) music of Kihara. Not the most original voice in this kind of
music, yet it is all very well made. (FdW)
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