Number 1149

MOSKUS – MIRAKLER (CD by Hubro Music) *
MOSTER! –STATES OF MINDS (CD by Hubro Music) *
ORPHAX – SAXOPHONE STUDIES (LP by Moving Furniture Records) *
NAVEL – THE GNOME’S POND (cassette by Cosmic Winnetou)
  Facthedral’s Hall)
LAKE MARY – KODA (CDR by Eilean Records) *
ZHALIH – INRUSHES (CDR by Eilean Records) *


Birgé is a pioneer from France, most known for his work with Un Drame Musical Instantané
(1976-2008). He made his first steps in the early 70s experimenting with synthesizers. In the 70s
he initiated the return of live music for silent movies. Yes, we are dealing with of a multi-disciplinary
artist: composer, improviser, moviemaker, founder of the GRRR-label, etc. I supposed the label
had stopped activity, until I reviewed the remarkable work ‘Long Time No Sea’, by his trio El Strom
in 2017 (see Vital Weekly 1092). Now Birgé surprises us with another new work. A work that comes
from the future: 2052 to be precise, when Birgé will have his 100th birthday. With this concept Birgé
winks at his father who loved science fiction. He composed ten pieces imagining all ten decades
that span his hypothetical life span. He turned his archive of recordings and tapes upside down
and selected recordings from each – well almost – decade. There are many musicians; singers as
Pascale Labbé, Birgitte Lyregaard and his daughter Elsa, but also Bernard Vitet (trumpet), Yves
Robert (trombone), Nicolas Chedmail (horn), Didier Petit (cello), and many others. With this old
material as a starting point, he composed a work for each decade. Birgé plays himself synthesizer,
theremin, Tenori/on, Mascarade Machine, trumpet, flute, inanga, jew´s harp and vocals.The CD
closes with ´Tombeau de Birgé, composed and performed by Sacha Gattino. Included is a
magnificent 52-pages booklet.
    Birgé pictures his life – past, present and future – in imaginative sound works, that move
between composed, improvised, collage, audioplay, etc. Birgé has his very own procedures
concerning copying and pasting precorded material of musical and non-musical origin. And
combining them with musical manoeuvres played by him and his colleagues. Audio works of
course, but always created in a way as if he wants to produce a visual world. He never manipulates
his sound sources that much. Rain is rain. A car driving by remains a car. But is the way he
structures the components into a whole that make his art special. This new album is again an
enjoyable example of his unique approach. (DM)
––– Address:

MOSKUS – MIRAKLER (CD by Hubro Music)

Moskus comprises of Anya Lauvdal (keyboards), Fredriik Luhr Deitrichson (double bass) and
Hans Hulbaekmo (drums, percussion). All three had their education at the Jazz Department of
the Trondheim Conservatory of Music. In 2011 they were the first jazz combo to win the Grappa
Records annual ‘Debut Artist Award’. From the start Hubro Music was their label. Now releasing
their fourth record. The musicians of Moskus have a good taste for colouring and arrangements.
In each track they make a carefully worked sound-spectrum. Choosing certain instruments and
sounds. This they do very tasty and well proportioned. They keep it open, so that each sound and
movement is clear and transparent. All compositions are by the group except for three tracks that
are composed by drummer Hulbaekmo, ‘Irsk Setter’ that is reminiscent of a Irish folk tune. Likewise
most other compositions offer melodic textures. . They don’t offer many surprising moments, and
move too much within the comfort zone for my taste. 
Kjetil Møster is a very active musician, involved in many projects. His band Møster! is already a
while around. With this band he already released about four albums since 2013, receiving good
press. Recently he surprised with a remarkable release of improvisations with John Edwards and
Dag Erik Knedil Andersen. With his new Møster!-release he presents a double bill. Again
improvisation plays an important role, but from a different starting point here. Here it is rock that is
at the root of all activity, whereas in the case of his work with Knedal and Edwards, it jazz is where
it all begins. With Møster we are amidst of spun out jamming and grooving excursions. Influences
of Can (‘Unhorsed by Chivalry’) and also many other 70s music (funk, prog), are echoed by Nikolai
Hængsle (electric bass, electronics), Kenneth Kapstad (drums), Hans Magnus Ryan (guitars,
electronics), Jørgen Træen (modular synthesizer, lap steel guitar) and Kjetil Møster (saxophone,
clarinet, electronics, percussion).It is a pleasure to listen to their heavy wall of sound approach.
Again we are in the company of excellent players. But they don’t really brew a new drink form the
sources that inspire them. (DM)
––– Address:


Elsewhere Music is a new label and here we introduce their first two releases. The label is initiated
by Yuko Zama, who worked years for Erstwhile and Gravity Wave, before deciding to start her own
label focusing mainly on “contemporary work which has classical music aesthetics at its roots, but it
may not have to strictly belong to the area of contemporary classical music”, Zama explains. She
makes a very promising start with these two releases that have artwork by David Sylvian. ‘Blurred
Music’ is a very daring one: a three double bill of improvised music by a Berlin-based duo. Happily
not just a duo but one of violinist Biliana Voutchkova and clarinettist Michael Thieke. They work
together since 2011. They did a lot of concerts in the past and already released a CD, ‘Already
There’ for the Swiss label Flexion Records. Also I want to commemorate the outstanding solo debut
by Voutchkova; ‘Modus of Raw’ (see Vital Weekly 1069), released by Evil Rabbit in 2015.  ‘Blurred
Music’ features three of their live concerts recorded during their 2016-US-tour in Chicago,
Philadelphia and New York. Long extended improvisations of respectively 50, 40 and 70 minutes,
recorded in a time span of 9 days. “The music’s structure creates a blur; improvised pats alternate
with fields of pre-structured material in which digital recordings of the duo are duplicated by live
performance”, they explain in the liner notes. Happily I didn’t find myself trying to detect what was
pre-recorded and what was added later. In the end this is not interesting and signifies one is not
engaged in listening to the music. . No, I was overwhelmed by the passionate intensity and unity of
their music. Their conversations have substance and are full of nuance and subtleties that matter.
They play with small motives, timbre, drone, micro-tonality. Technically both are very skilled, using
extended techniques without moving away from the original sound world of the instrument.  The
violin remains a violin. Because of their play with their own pre-recorded improvisations, they
create intentionally a blur, but not for its own sake, as some interesting effect. It is a means for
creating some very vivid and urgent musical conversations.
    Melaine Dalibert is a new name to me. He is a French composer and pianist from Rennes of
rising fame for his compositions for piano, as well his interpretations of works by Gérard Pesson,
Giuliano D’Angiolini, and melodically oriented minimalists like Peter Garland, Michael Vincent
Waller, among others. So far his music is released on two albums. The self-released ‘Quatre
pièces pour piano’ (2015) ‘Ressac’ issued by Another Timbre in 2017. ‘Musique pour le lever du
jour’ (2017) is a one-hour-composition, recorded in march this year in his home studio. Likewise
as Waller, Dalibert composes in a minimalist style with an openness for melodic aspects, using
algorithmic procedures that he developed in his composer. With his new work he creates a work
that evokes the experience of a giant space or a stretched out continuum in time. With sparse
single notes he creates patterns that invite to a meditatively and unintentional listening. The
music is introspective and calm. Like stepping on stones in the river of time. The recording is
absolutely excellent. The resonances and overtones are beautifully captured on this transparent
recording. (DM)
––– Address:


The first one is so recent that it didn’t appear on the website from Ftarri yet, so I don’t know much
about the work of Tomoe Takizawa; Google wasn’t very helpful either. The two previous times I
heard her music was on compilations by Ftarri (Vital Weekly 972 and 1000), which didn’t make
much impression on me. So I go by what is noted on the cover; she plays omnichord and voice on
the first piece, guitar, piano, loop station RC-30, accordion, voice, glockenspiel and voice on the
next three tracks and accordion, whistling and guitar on the last piece. The multi-instrument pieces
were recorded live at Ftarri and last seventeen to twenty-one minutes each, whereas the two
bookend pieces are rather short. I must say now that I a better impression of her work, I am still not
too convinced by it. Every piece is played with great care and there is much silence between the
notes. It would seem to me that Takizawa uses the instruments in a linear order. ‘Now I will play
this, now I will continue there, do a bit of vocal part, or stay quiet for some time’, but it seems all
without too much plan. Now that might of course be her intention, in which case things are as they
are, and I can imagine that in concert this works better, but now, remote and distant on a sound
carrier, it is not something one can easily engages into.
    Tumo is the duo of Yuma Takeshita on electro-bass and Yuji Ishihara on drums and
percussion and her they perform twice a piece by Cristian Alvear, called ‘DosCuatro’, which I
believe means ‘TwoFour’. On the second version Christian Alvear plays as well, joining on
guitar. This is surely some kind of graphical notion here, but since we have two version of the
same piece it is possible to see, more or less, how it works. There is a quiet opening, almost
silence for a minute or so, then a first part, which is a bit hectic, followed by a silent part and
something that holds the middle ground is towards the end. It is interesting to compare both
pieces and note that the duo piece is louder and slightly more complex than the trio version; it’s
not easy (and perhaps not necessary) to say something about that, why that could be, and such
things. In the duo piece everything appears quicker, faster, louder, more hectic, even when it
comes to the quieter parts of the piece. I think that is partly due to the use of more electronics in
this version (or perhaps the illusion of electronics, when it comes to striking bows along cymbals),
and the trio sounding strikingly more acoustic in approach. There is, in both piece, a fine sense of
interaction going between the players. More intense in the duo piece, and I assume because they
have been playing together for a longer period of time, and with an excellent level of concentration
in the other piece. This is an excellent release.
    Since some years Ftarri celebrate their anniversaries with multiple CD releases, which even if
they are separately packed I think form a unity and best be enjoyed as sitting at the HQ of Ftarri
and listening to all of this. Three of the four discs were recorded there this year, but the first is a
recording from 2016 and contains the duo of Seijiro Murayama (drums, voice) and Toshihiro
Koike (trombone), who are joined by Martin Taxt on microtonal C-tuba for a trio improvisation. In
the duo work they play with the notion of silence that starts and stops at irregular intervals, but
when they play, their instruments sound very much like drums and trombone and their music is
somehow a bit sorrowful. With the addition of Taxt the piece becomes much more minimal in
approach, with each player seemingly wanting to sustain their sounds a bit more; it has a very
minimal sound here, with silence playing a smaller role. Personally I preferred the second piece.
    Electric Powered Music Concert is a trio with Masamichi Kinoshita (junk electronics, piano),
Tomoki Tai (self-made electric devices) and Takumu Ikeda (computer etc.) who have a guest here,
Takuya Harashima (biwa, flute, voice). From their second set they only captured the last eleven
minutes, but I assume the first set is captured in it’s entire form. After the music I heard so far (today
that is) from Ftarri, this is something different. This is, one could say, noise music, but in just in the
sense of an all-out distortion onslaught but it surely dwells heavily on distorting acoustic sounds,
which sometimes remain present in the mix. The music thus bounces back and forth between
distorted sounds, circuit bending of toys and the occasional hit ‘n pluck of the piano. It makes up a
fine counterpoint in this collection.
    Seven musicians play on the third disc, but only three of them on both pieces. The first is called
‘Trio Improvisation’ and is played by Zhao Cong (electronics, objects), Takashi Masubuchi (guitar),
Masahide Tokunaga (alto saxophone) and this piece is very much something that we could the
classic Ftarri sound. There is a lots of silence, but now employed in a great way, silent music, based
on sounds from their respective instruments, but it is also a radical piece with some very piercing
high end sounds. It all results in a very intense piece of music. On ‘Noise Music’, composed by Zhu
Wenbo, there are four additional players, including the composer who plays buzzers, clarinet and
whistle, Yuma Taleshita (electro-bass), Yuji Ishihara (drums, percussion) and Hiroyuki Ura)
percussion. Don’t think of this as ‘noise music’ in terms of distortion, Merzbow, Japnoise and harsh
noise walls, but perhaps, given the nature of the instruments listed, you weren’t thinking of this. The
noise here lies perhaps in it’s unusual approach of objects to generate sounds, including some
loud piercing high tones, so it’s easy to see the link between the two pieces. This is altogether
quite an intense disc.
    This four CD set is closed with a twenty-nine minute duo improvisation between suzeri (no
capitals required there, it seems) on piano, self-made instruments and Makoto Oshiro on self-
made instruments, and this bridges the various interests from the Ftarri musicians. There is piano
playing in a very minimal but rhythmic way, and also with a bit of feedback, slow development
crackling of electrical circuits, jarring electronics and a slight modern classical touch. This is all
quite a captivating piece of music with a few oddities built in. Nice! (FdW)
––– Address:


From the busy offices of Zoharum we start with these releases; more next week no doubt. It seems
 heard almost all releases by the Polish group Mothertape (see also Vital Weekly 1109 and 1119).
I have no idea about membership or instruments used. According to Zoharum they “combine
Eastern mysticism with Western rigidness in their compositions” and that “they draw from the entire
output of avant-garde music”. It also says that the pieces on this new CD are “electroacoustic
improvisations”, which is not something I would have noticed per se, as it all sounded quite
composed to me. If I have to make assumptions, and I think I will have to, since the cover has no
information (and barely readable titles) I would think we are dealing here with a combination of
‘real’ instruments, synthesizers (analogue, modular, digital) and software, which are all used to
great effect here. Throughout this is ‘of course’ (why? Would be a valid question of course!) quite
dark and moody music, atmospheric and sometimes intense. Previously they seemed to have
been using a bit more rhythm, which is absent in this new work, and it works as such better. I was,
somehow, somewhere, thinking of Mnemonists and lesser extent of Biota, and how they use the
studio as an additional instrument to further explore the sounds generated by the instruments at
their hands. I have no idea if such is the case here with Mothertape and for all we know there is an
entirely different modus operandi at work in Poland. Whatever is the case, the result is beautiful.
Powerful, beautiful, intense, relaxing are all words that could be applied to the music. These
improvisations are lovely moulded into seven compositions and form an excellent aural journey.
    On the enclosed information the information on the release by Aquavoice is in Polish, but
from previous reviews (Vital Weekly 896 and 948) I know this is the project of Tadeusz Luczejko,
and it seems there has been some gap between the last one I heard and this one, but it’s re-
assuring to know he is still a man of fine ambient music. We greet the usual ingredients of
synthesizers, sequencers, a dash of rhythm from a machine or the sampled loop of an objects
and field recordings of birds, water and wind. Aquavoice creates thirteen pieces with these
components and it works out very well. Pieces are relatively short (the whole album being fifty-
two minutes) and in each he explores a certain mood through a few assorted textures; Aquavoice
doesn’t go for lengthy drone explorations, but for a concise form, moving from one place to the
next, but always keeping the album together in one place. None of these pieces is an oddball, yet
in one piece there might a bit more synthesizer and in another somewhat more rhythm, or sampled
objects or even an instrument in ‘A Lonely Cello’. It is all put in an order that makes very much
sense, maintaining a fine level of variation. Again influences range from Biosphere to Pete
Namlook with the master Brian Eno giving a seal of approval. Excellent job, once again.
    And also Rara returns with an album, two years after ‘W//\TR’ (see Vital Weekly 1040) and
here main man Rafal Skonieczny again plays acoustic guitar, synthesizer and effects and on the
first disc we find a re-issue of his debut album, which was released in a more limited form in 2015,
on cassette and CDR. The effects here are no doubt looping devices, and this first work was a solo
album, with Rara exploring the post-rock guitar sound in a very nice manner. Strumming chords,
picking strings and looping these around are the usual ingredients. The synthesizer is used to
make extra colouration of the sound, just as reverb is used quite a bit to add a finer sense of
atmosphere. It is not yet the expansive rock sound we heard on the previous release, but we find
that on the second disc, which contains a recording made by Radio Gdasnk. Here the other
musicians are Michal Pszczolkowski (electric guitar, synthesizerunds), Mikolaj Zielinski (bass,
acoustic guitar, percussion, monotron), Ola Bilinska (vocals, synth) and Juba Ziolek (guitar,
conga). They play songs from the ‘Planet Death Architecture’ release and ‘W//\TR’ and as such it
is a very fine, some what extended rendition of songs we already know, with the post-rock sound,
the dramatic building of pieces that is so commonly used in this kind of music works even better
here. Especially with the addition of vocals it also becomes more conventional music, even if it
stays within the outer skirts of alternative rock music. It is perhaps not the kind of music that makes
it a lot to these pages, and I would not consider myself even remotely an expert on the subject of
rock, alternative or otherwise. I played this with much interest and while doing some other stuff,
scanning bits of paper should you not want to know, I enjoyed this quite a bit.
    “In Progress is a series of live events focused on experimental contemporary music, often
combining music with theatre, para-theatrical activities, dance, film and audiovisual art. It is a
project that allows not only to listen to but also to understand the latest trends in Polish and foreign
music”, which is what it says on the cover of the CD. Why a CD documentation if there is apparently
so much to see? And why not, for instance, a DVD? Or a website? You know me and my love/hate
relationships with compilations: I think it’s great they exist, love to be on them but reviewing them?
No, not really. You could either describe each piece in great detail, which I never do, or mention
 the highlights and mention all, which is what I usually do. Here we have Rutger Zuydervelt, TER,
K. Justka & Electr*cute, rene Margraff, Ak Uki, Helene Breschand, Mytrip, Mammoth Ulthana,
Mothertape, Job Karma, Fabio Orsi, Olga Szynula, Mirt and Rongwrong all but one captured live.
This suggests there have been a bunch of concerts have been quite good. I must admit there are
no highlights yet everyone does what is expected and it all sounds good. Which is surely enough.
––– Address:


After Surgical Fires, I was looking forward to Stephen R. Burroughs’ new album on Cold Spring,
Charnel Transmissions. So let’s jump right in: “Hommage to the Landfill Dogs” opens up as a
dense saturated low end drone.. or a 19th century train grinding to a halt in excruciating slow
motion. Sudden surges of steaming vocal swishes emanate from within the fire box and lock into
a searing loop, that becomes slowly drowned out by the clanging of the overheating pistons. A
crash is imminent and the bending metal, caustic crackling and downward Doppler glissandi in
the background make us fear for the worst – think the Montparnasse incident or something similar.
    “Stations of the Skin-Bag” gets us to wake up bewildered on an operating table. Broken
medical equipment gives off distorted feedback signals that suddenly fold back into guttural
gushes of rumbling. We slide onto our feet and stumble into into a passage way that opens up
into a morgue with broken fluorescent lighting and the stench of death all around. The intercom
system seems to pick up scrambled radio transmissions and while slowly collapsing on the ground
into a dark delirium, the feedback switches on again to guide us back into unconsciousness.
    The next track, “Kosmiglot”, is an audible impression of what it is like to try and understand the
language of the universe itself. Physical modelling algorithms race us through the sound of all
possible materials and the way in which the cosmos consists of them. A harsh clinical voice tries
to warn us in vain, while we get some additional understanding beaten into us. And with the
repetitive stomping lo-fi streams of frequency modulation gush out of our wounds while we slowly
become part of infinity. Track four chucks us right into some kind of chemical fire and even though
it is extinguished quite soon after, stabs of sizzling haunt us while the dense, amplified sounds of
the lab remind us that we shouldn’t have touched anything there in the first place. Five consists of
several parts and kicks off with barbed-wired pulses from the electrically charged fence of a secret
military facility. As we drive past, the clank of tubular turning and ringing of metal plates guide us
into a large hangar where the construction of something vast is taking place. Welding torches and
generators determine pace and plight here and while the thick intoxicating fumes daze us into
roar-ridden dreams, the spectacle slowly fades away into the shadows as if it were never there.
And that’s it.  Even though my description may suggest otherwise, the sound of the record overall
isn’t very harsh or punishing, but pleasantly saturated. Which is a good thing, for it allowed me to
get through it in one go. I did like the tracks – hence the detailed descriptions, but I do have to say I
prefer Surgical Fires, as this one got a bit too dystopian for my taste from time to time. Still definitely
a good one if you’re into the Tunnels.
    But hey, it doesn’t get any more cheerful after that. C.3.3. – or Paul Jamrozy, one of the founding
members of Test Dept. – takes its name from the number of the Reading prison cell where the poet
and dandy man Oscar Wilde was incarcerated back in the day. Wilde’s poem “The Ballad of
Reading Gaol” was based on the execution of a fellow inmate and can be heard on the first track
of this album, read by ‘Grassy’ Noel Macken. This all may sound very high-falutin or even
pretentious perhaps, but man, it is a moving and disturbing poem and definitely a horrid state of
affairs at the time, if witness testimonies are to be believed. The second track and ‘first movement’
opens in a cinematic way with dramatic, brooding strings in the foreground and blows of slashing
metal percussion and ominous effects that make the whole thing into somewhat less of a Yamaha
Montage demo. Still, I can’t say it really delivers, apart from being a moody harbinger to the rest of
the album. Second movement “Iron Town” however does manage to draw me in instantly.
Reminiscent of early 90s Test Dept. the track sports muffled orchestral percussion with swirling
layers of industrial echoes and declaiming voices. A few minutes in the track becomes more
coercive and bass-heavy paired with occasional repetitive vocal fragments and then returns to its
previous sonic palette. Track four, “Gallows Tree” really stood out for me: it has a swelling
monophonic pad sound that goes on and on, while the song also sees a return of the Wilde poem,
but manages to capture it in a sublime and profoundly unsettling way that reminded me of Les
Joyaux de la Princesse in one of its collaborative efforts, albeit in a less lo-fi way. Movement IV
starts off slow but after a while launches into this stomping early-Swans-esque loop, only to have
it replaced by some kind of Prodigy breakbeat a minute later. I felt that was slightly jarring, but that
may just be me – I mean it does work for Third Eye Foundation, so why not here (perhaps because
I was enjoying the Swans-loop so much). After a bit the whole thing collapses and part of the poem
is recited again over a tense, dissonant undercurrent. The Pit of Shame reprise ushers in that
cinematic dirge again, which seems to please me somewhat more this time around. Basically, that
is the end of the Ballad part, still, the album features two addition mixes of the tracks Acousticon
and Panoptix. I’m not sure if these are taken from Jamrozy’s solo work – at least they seem to
feature samples from Test Dept tracks. Normally I don’t really see the point of extending running
time by adding additional material to an album, especially not if these are remixes of material that
is already on there or, like in this case, if there’s a clear thematic backbone to the album as a
whole. Still these tracks seem to gel fairly well with the other material, though their feel is
somewhat different. I enjoyed Acousticon very much, but the Panoptix mix did get on me nerves
after a while, so that is probably the one I will delete after writing this. Even though I had some
doubts at the beginning, C.3.3. does manage to take these away quite convincingly. If anything, I
will definitely play Gallows Tree again. Do check the whole thing out though. (PJN)
––– Address:


It’s been a while, so it occurred to me, that I last heard music by Derek Piotr. I read here ‘Grunt’ is
already his eighth solo record; the last one I heard was ‘Bahar’ (Vital Weekly 980), which was his
fifth album. Piotr is a man to use voice and computers to process recordings thereof and the result
works out in very distinctively different music styles. Sometimes it works out to be ambient, then
modern classical or even pop. On this new CD he works with voice, computer but also field
recordings (which is news to me) and for this new album the direction seems to be noise. In thirty-
nine minutes there are no less than twenty-one pieces, of which the last is a ‘redirected’ mix by
Kevin Drumm of a piece that is called ‘Redirect’) and there is some massive amplification going
here, a pleasant form of distortion and yet it never seems to be going out of hand. The noise that
Derek Piotr puts up here is loud but not for the sake of creating pure noise. The computer is used
to transform sounds, to create loops, to amplify frequencies and due to the brief character of the
pieces and the collage-like form applied to these pieces makes that the whole has an energy that
works really well. It’s vibrant music even when it stays with the length of one piece a bit the same.
It’s the rapid succession of pieces that makes this a successful album. One of the traps of noise, to
play it for a long time, is a notion that is, luckily, ignored by Piotr. He realizes that the fragmentation
of sounds, splintering is perhaps a better word, and cutting up works as noise as equally well, and
to my taste, perhaps better. This is altogether a short but powerful album. (FdW)
––– Address:


Here we have a new label, run by Elbert Choi, who is originally from South Korea and now living in
El Cerrito, California. The first release was by Seraphim Rythm (not reviewed in these pages) and
now the second record has been released, with music by Michiru Aoyama. He’s been active since
2010 and has some releases on Somehow Recordings, Organic Industries, Shimmering Moods
Records, Nama Recordings, Tedio Recs and the only thing I heard, which was his 3″CDR by
Taalem, which served as a first, brief introduction. On this LP, his first outing on vinyl, he calls both
sides ‘Untitled’, which may suggest there is only one piece per side, but that is not the case. The
first side has two pieces and the second side has four pieces, so effectively six different pieces.
Like with that Taalem release, I really have no idea what Aoyama does to create his music, but I
have very strong suspicions that it is all made with that little box you can also check your e-mail
and update your Facebook status, the laptop. Whatever he feeds the gremlins inside the laptop is
unknown for the listener. My best guess is that a guitar is never far away, but that is merely a guess,
but it is a guess based on what Mirae Arts say on the Bandcamp site; “Michiru’s signature guitar
harmonics are treated with serene electronic filters and met with youthful under-layers of electronic
experimentations and glitchy backdrops”. And glitchy backdrops there are surely plenty of those.
Cold, sparkling, crackling, like broken twigs on trees going about in the wind, but with a bit of delay
and reverb to make a slightly more robust sound. All along the guitar spaces out, fed through loops,
more reverb, and landing on a bed of lots of overtones that make this is all quite warm and lush. A
fine pairing of something that is maybe ‘sweet’ (the drones) and ‘angular’ (the glitches). It is music
that reminded me of the best of Oval in their more ambient days, post ’94 Diskont’; it’s not always as
delicate as some of the other glitch drone artists do, and that’s what I like about this record. It is
within something you know and love, but also has it’s something of it’s own voice, but it a bit
stranger and alien than you would expect, so there is some surprise in there as well. This is
certainly something that you need to seek out something new in the vast universe of warm
glitch drones. (FdW)
––– Address:

ORPHAX – SAXOPHONE STUDIES (LP by Moving Furniture Records)

As I was walking down the street last Thursday evening towards the restaurant De Klinker here in
Nijmegen to watch at least a bit of Orphax’ concert at the yearly pop pub crawl called De Popronde
(120 pop bands playing sets in tons of places in one city on one evening), the street was deserted
and from great distance I could hear bells tinkling, growing in intensity as I neared the open doors.
Towards the end of his set the sound was massive drone, like being locked in an airplane engine; I
don’t think I ever heard Orphax being this loud and I’ve seen quite a few of his concerts. He surely is
the exception to the Popronde’s pop drivel. Sietse van Erve told me this concert was a piece that will
out later this year. He also presented me with a CD version of ‘Saxophone Studies’, which is limited
as a stand-alone item, but it is part of the LP version. That is something of a first for Moving Furniture
Records I would think, a LP that comes with a CD version. I am not sure why that is. Orphax suggest
to play this over “a good sound system on high volume” and not laptop of headphones. Both sides
have one piece, and both have saxophone as the source material, played by James Fella on one
side and his father Jozef van Erve on the other. I am not a lover the saxophone when it is used a
blearing, wailing free jazz instrument, but here, in the hands of a drone man I am blown away (pun
intended) by the quality of the sound. I didn’t play this ‘loud’ as suggested by the artist but I made
sure it had very much a presence in my living room, to let the sound spatially move around. It not
too difficult to think of the work of Phill Niblock here, as he uses quite a bit of wind instruments in
his work, which he then reworks into piece of drone music, by cutting them without any attack and
shifting them around in multi-track program, creating many layers of sound. This is not what Orphax
does, I think. He uses software to transform his sounds and like Phill Niblock he creates quite a
layered, dense field of sound, and it can easily match the quality of Niblock’s drone music. Perhaps
just a little bit different, but the two Orphax’ pieces are great I think. The pieces are made without too
much of the saxophone to be recognized, especially on ‘JvE’; here the drone is darker and could
have find it’s origin in any sort of wind instrument and with quite an electronic ending; in ‘JF’ I think
the saxophone is slightly more present as such, or at least I perceive it so to be, even when it
sounds like it could also have been bagpipes. Slowly a growing darker undercurrent becomes
part of this and it has a mysterious dark edge, sounding like mist horns along the Scottish coast;
it must be that I am still thinking of bagpipes I guess. This is one of the strongest Orphax releases
so far. If you are curious after reading all my reviews what the hell this Orphax guy is about, then
this is the place to start. (FdW)
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NAVEL – THE GNOME’S POND (cassette by Cosmic Winnetou)

In Vital Weekly 872 I wrote this: “Musical interests come in waves, and start building. Then we have
a scene, hype, and a wave. Around the year 1998-2000 to play moody, atmospheric music on your
guitar, the extension from post rock, less the drums, was a big time thing. It was then I discovered
Germany’s Navel, even releasing two limited CDRs on my own little corner of the empire, which I
thought was a fine band, with a bunch of fine releases. I must admit I didn’t think much of the band
or their music in the last ten or so years, after leaving the empire.” Much time has passed since and
since then Navel disappeared out of sight for me, again. In recent years I reviewed work by Günter
Schlienz, all very fine modular synthesizer stuff in the best ambient tradition and it was then I
learned he was one of the two main players in Navel. I was surprised to see a move from guitar to
synthesizers but then perhaps the main interest has been within the creation of atmospheric music.
Here we have two new releases by Navel. The first is a LP, which I understand is also (?) by the
Hamburg Arkansas Starsound Orchestra, of whom I never heard, but which seems to be one of the
guitar-slinging ambientists as well. They played/covered six Navel pieces “for the Midatlantic
Company Empire Soundfair” in 2006, whatever that is and on this record Navel added some “some
dubs to fill the gaps that occurred because of some minor atmospherics”, which I admit doesn’t
mean too much to me. The music however is a very fine throwback to those of ambient guitar music;
music that is along the lines of, say, Stars Of The Lid, which might be one of the few who are still
doing this kind of orchestral string on an endless sustain sound. The sound of one thousand violins
and one thousand cellos being played majestically slow. It is not something that sounds overtly
dated to me, it could have still been made in more recent times I think and throughout I thought it
was all beautiful music. Slow and majestically played and I think, I believe there is a bit modular
synthesizers to be spotted as well; a forecast to more recent times?
    Cosmic Winnetou released a very recent recording by Navel, from August 2017, in an edition
of seventy copies, but I believe it is already sold out. Here the core of Navel, who call themselves
Gage and Floyd, are helped in some way, but not mentioned what they do, is Rahel and Teresa.
The cover lists four titles for these pieces, but I am not sure how it works, as my ear seems to be
picking up more than four different pieces, but of course they could be individual parts. There is no
download code, so I couldn’t double-check it with that. These pieces are most certainly not some
extended fields of guitar drones, but quite a varied bunch of pieces, changing colours, textures
and instruments. Voices, for instance, are used here, humming wordless, along with a harmonium,
or even a bit of rhythm is used here, albeit very sparsely. The overall setting is, of course I’d say
with Navel, atmospherically, but not necessarily all too doom and gloomy. The guitars play an
important role in these drone pieces and sound occasionally raga like, especially on the second
side (maybe in the piece that is called ‘Sing The Meadow Creek Toad’), along with a loop of
swirling wind pipe I think; I haven’t heard one in a long time. There is an excellent psychedelic
feel to the music; a garage like psychedelic feel actually, quite raw and intense, especially when
the drones make way for some distorted guitars and open strumming. The music is quite loud and
direct, like being picked with a fine set of microphones in a basement. I would think there are no
modular synthesizers but of course I might very well be wrong. Maybe Navel is back? I should
surely hope so, as this is a great release and a promuse for the future. (FdW)
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  Facthedral’s Hall)

Napharion Zviadadze, the person behind Markab Project, comes from the world of French black
metal. Not the Légions Noires stuff as far as I know – in case you were wondering; neither Aryos
nor Forlorn (777) ring any bells, but that doesn’t really mean anything any more these days.
Moreover, these bands seem very much magick-oriented, which is kind of an exotic theme in BM I
    According to the biography were dealing with an experimental sonic witchcraft project that
combines noise with electronic tribal sounds and ritual ambient. To me the latter two seem to be
largely the same thing, still if anything, at least it is a consistent description.
    ‘Azazel Connexion part 1’ (and there’s only a part one on this EP) instantly kick off with a
severely saturated digital drum loop. The low end is very muddled and shaky which makes it a
bit of a challenge to sit through. Like with most ritual music, the music is repetitive. With this track
however, you seem to get the same kind of global structuring over and over, albeit with slight
modifications. This means you basically get a couple of bars of drum loop, some variations, then
a drone in which the percussion bells ring on for a bit and then the thing starts over again. The
reason of this may have something to do with the esoteric back story of the release, but since this
is not explained in any kind of way, it leaves me just with the option of judging the work by its sonic
    ‘Les Trois Voies’ begins with a noisy loop that seems to consist of distorted hoover synths with
an obscure percussion hit somewhere in the background. The level of the drone drops suddenly
after a while and a harsh BDN percussion loop fades in and out, which may trick you into believing
that the song is at an end, only for the synth loop to suddenly pop back onto the radar. Just like with
the first track this process repeats itself a couple of times. The thing is that the sounds themselves
are quite good, but the jarring dynamic hole that opens up after each synth and drum loop salvo
doesn’t really do it for me. Again the esoteric background makes me believe this work isn’t as
random as it comes across now, but this is far from obvious to the layman listener.
    The third track starts off sounding a bit like an up-tempo Arcana, but within a minute slows
down to a more agreeable pace, before it speeds up again slightly. There’s a melodic element
portrayed by a somewhat hidden sampled string instrument, next to a persistently swelling
granular synth pad. Halfway through the music speeds up again embellished with with additional
percussion to then suddenly die off, upon which the synth pad sound becomes a lot louder. This
last quirk seems to be the result of extreme maximising during the mastering process, which
becomes more evident when a layer of low-end sound is introduced and the level  of the drone
goes down again. If this treatment is intentional, that is all fine of course, but in my book that just
sounds like bad mastering. At this point I am mostly confused about whether this is a project that
would like to sound like, let’s say, Arcana or Wadruna, but fails to do so, or that the underlying
esoteric elements steer the music into such a direction that comprehension of it becomes
impossible for those who have not been initiated – or that the aesthetic merit of the music as such
is not of any consequence for the project’s obscured intentions. The title of the EP seems to
suggest as much, but then why send it to a couple of n00bs like us, i wonder.
    Anyway, if you’re up for something different: the EP comes in a nicely designed sleeve with
some sexy witchy pics – which is always good of course – and is distributed by Facthedrall’s Hall,
 a label that will be covered in the next bit.
    Because yes, together with the Markab EP we received a free compilation CD – released back
in 2017 mind you – with a selection of artists that have released work on Facthedral’s Hall during its
20 year existence. The label seems to dabble in experimental electronic music and industrial
mostly, but let’s take a closer look. Despite the vast sonic differences between the Facthedral acts,
the track listing is in chronological order so we begin in the late 90s with Somniak’s demo-scene-
ish drum’n’bass that has the unavoidable amen flying around the room. A recognisable feature
that is however drowned out by the lushy synth layers that are stacked on top. Via the outlandish
sample-laden triphop of Sizzle and a slightly more experimental, but again lush track by
Somniak, we land within the thick saturated dark ambient sounds of Pi Cab Alter. Even though
this isn’t anything special nowadays, for a indie scene release from 2003 this sounds quite
interesting. Anti is up next who does that thing that Talvin Singh did at some point with tabla and
drum’n’bass. It’s sports the same kind of lushness as the work of Somniak, so I wouldn’t be
surprised if it is a different moniker for the same artist. The following track by Sacrifice seems to
consist of two elements: distorted guitar/synth (for the life of me, I can’t tell – my guess is that
whatever it is, it gets pulled through one of those eardrum-ripping Boss MT2’s) and a wonky
gabber kick drum. While I was involved in a project similar to this at the time, now in 2018 this
kind of stuff just really gets on me tits. Deary me. So fast-forward to Chalung Gra, who present
us with an ambient track of the “Celer” variety, that evolves slowly through its own undulation –
outstanding! Atrabilis Sunrise jumps from what seems the one heavily treated sample to the
other in an “Oval” kind of way. But then again, not like Oval at all, as it slowly ends up getting a
bit more industrial after a while and then starts jumping frantically again – which is when i lose
interest. Up next is Deadrow77; we hear an electronic piano loop that evolves into something
more dissonant, has some sudden washes of noise cleaning the place up and then continues to
develop a similar loop. This may have been interesting in 2004, or at least extremely hard to
classify, but now.. I don’t know. Then we have another Sizzle track, which seems more IDM-
oriented this time – the kind of stuff that Warp was all about in the late 90s. Not bad. And another
Deadrow77 track but one from unholy 2015. It is again, ‘weird’, but less loopy than the other one.
It could definitely serve as a sound track to some kind of game. Still I’m not a gamer, so what do I
know. Velvetine ramps up the tempo and it is the first track that features actual singing. It all
sounds like something Blixa could have done, like, I don’t know, with the guitar player of
Rammstein or something. Nice production. Minitel gives you 50 shades of Lustmord after that,
which is fine, though not very interesting amidst tracks that have so much more going on.
Ingodeme is the ‘light’ that gets to contrast with the dark of Minitel and that kind of works now the
whole thing has slowed down to a crawl anyway. Silent Tower play old school down-tempo black
metal, which is probably a less grotesque addition to this compilation after hearing that demented
gabber  metal track a couple of minutes back. It’s no Gehenna or Carpathian Forest though and
seems to wash over me as it goes. The closer upper by Chalung Gra is a lot darker than their
other track with its metallic ringing and menacing tsunami-like flow. Enjoyed that one too though.
    All in all it’s just a random selection of tracks that don’t really make sense together, except for
in the context of the label’s history. Good on Facthedral’s Hall for keeping its head above water for
such a long time. Perhaps this is fun to look into if you’re into indie electronic label stuff or a fan of
“improbable” music. (PJN)
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LAKE MARY – KODA (CDR by Eilean Records)
ZHALIH – INRUSHES (CDR by Eilean Records)

Probably I said this before, and no doubt I will repeat in the future; Eilean always seems to be able
to find musicians I never heard of, even when in the case of Chaz Prymek, it is the second time they
release his work. Probably I just missed out on the first one. While most music on Eilean Records is
very atmospheric, and Lake Mary is surely not different, there seems always to be some electronic
component, but on ‘Koda’ that is not easy to detect. Prymek plays fingerpicking guitar and while I
could assume there is some kind of looping device also at work, I couldn’t say there is actually one.
So for all I know there is just Prymek and his guitars and his guests. For each track he mentions
another name, but it remains unclear if these people play on these pieces, or perhaps they were
present at the recording sites as Prymek “dwells in the lakes and rivers of the Rocky Mountains.
Drawing inspiration from the environment around him and the places in between life and death”
and in each of these eight pieces I believe to hear, sometimes to a bigger extent than on other
occasions, a bit of the environment. It might be a closed, slightly reverberant space such as in
‘Wastach’ or outdoor, the presence of insects and birds in ‘Junglessa’. The silence at the end of
‘… And Further West’ was done before and is a bit of a filler, but throughout this is a most enjoyable
album of fingerpicking’ guitar music, which is not something I hear a lot and perhaps in the
catalogue of Eilean Records seems like an oddball, but if you think about it it makes great sense.
This is just as moody and atmospheric as some of the more electronic outings in the catalogue of
the label.
    Zhalih’s complete name is Hannah Zhalih Mickunas and she hails from Portland, Oregon.
She has some releases on her Bandcamp page, but it seems that this is her first CDR release.
The works on ‘Inrushes’ are a compilation of improvised pieces she recorded she recorded
between 2013 and 2017. This is surely another oddball for Eilean Records. Perhaps here too the
electronics are not really part of what Zhalih does, save for some reverb and the occasional loop,
but the other oddity might be that she has mostly short pieces, from forty seconds to three minutes
and after thirty-nine minutes you heard no less than nineteen pieces of music. The third oddity
might be that Zhalih mostly uses her voice to sing, and singing she does in a very folky way.
Sometimes she adds a bit of sparse playing, or in ‘Shine’, some field recordings (or perhaps Zhalih
singing at the end of a tunnel?). There is a great folk-like quality to the music, in as far as I have
some idea about the genre. Gentle, sweet, delicate and Zhalih’s voice reminds me of Fovea Hex,
but without some of the lush electronic processing in the background. This is purer I think, without
me saying that purer equals better; the whole purity debate that I think can be part of folk music, is
not very well spent on me. I really don’t have much opinion about it. I tend to the take matters face
value and judging by the music here Zhalih has created some wonderful music. I think she is at
the start of career (I am not sure), but I predict she could be big! (FdW)
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