Number 1159

ADAM HOPKINS CRICKETS  – MUDBALL (CD by Out of Your Head Records)
JEFF MORRIS – INTERFACES (CD by Ravello Records)
MARIACHI (LP by Doubtful Sounds/No Lagos Musique)
OGROB – EXOCRIME/GENERATIONS (7″ lathe cut by Fissile)
TOM WHITE – RUN AMOK (CDR by Glistening Examples) *
SIMON WHETHAM – CAL Y CANTO (CDR by Glistening Examples) *
TAKUJI NAKA/TIM OLIVE – QUINCE (CDR by Kendra Steiner Editions) *
  Editions) *
MARKUS MEHR – LIQUID EMPIRES (cassette by Hidden Shoal Recordings) *
AR.MA – WINTER (cassette by Plaza Zachodnia) *
TAKAHIRO MUKAI – THE PASSION OF VOJTEK (cassette by Plaza Zachodnia) *
PLEQ & PHILIPPE LAMY – SPACE (cassette by Plaza Zachodnia) *
  Parapsychic Acoustic Research Cooperative/Ash International/Spectral Electric) *


Federico Durand’s work shares an aesthetic similarity with the music of folks like Chihei
Hatakayama, poemme, Hakobune or Andrew Chalk. Like his peers, Durand produces serene,
intimate textures with one foot in New Age relaxation and the other in DIY bedroom-producer
ambience. The nine sombre songs on his new album (made with acoustic guitar, music boxes,
tape loops and sparing synthesizer and sampler) are comprised of small melodies full of gently
hovering whispered bliss and a determinedly pensive calm. There’s a danger that this stuff might
creep into cloying ultra-sweetness at any point, particularly on the songs whose melodies are
derived from tinkling music boxes, but thankfully Durand’s compositions err on the side of restraint.
They’re also elevated by some creative processing choices: Durand transfers several of his tunes
onto cassette tapes, subtly abstracts them with tape loops, and preserves all the crusty analogue
artefacts to build compelling new ambient dirt. There are several lovely moments of near-
weightless acoustic guitar melody imbued with compelling grit by way of tape-saturated wow and
flutter. If you enjoy putting headphones on at 5:30am (as I do), this album makes a satisfying
soundtrack to a cup of tea and a sunrise. Or, perhaps the soundtrack to… a book! Listeners have
the option of buying this album with a book of photos by Spanish artists Anna Cabrera and Angel
Albarran, though I have not seen the book so I can’t offer comment on that part of the experience.
––– Address:

ADAM HOPKINS CRICKETS  – MUDBALL (CD by Out of Your Head Records)

Adam Hopkins is a bassist and composer, operating from his base in Brooklyn since 2011. As a
sideman he worked with Henry Threadgill and toured with John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet.  He
leads three NYC-based bands: Adam Hopkins’ Crickets, Bells + Wires, and Party Pack ICE. With
Party Pack ICE, he released last year an album for PfMentum, which was a short record, but
exploding with a diversity of musical ideas. Jumping from rock to jazz and vice versa. The release
we are talking of now is the first one on his own label, that he launched august this year. Carrying
the same name as the improvised music collective called the Out of Your Head Collective, he co-
founded in 2009, maintaining weekly performances up till today! ‘Mudball’ is recorded with other
musicians as with Party Pack Ice, but with an identical instrumentation. With Party Pack Ice he had
two blowers, now it are three: Anna Webber (tenor saxophone), Ed Rosenberg  (tenor saxophone,
bass saxophone), Josh Sinton (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet), plus Jonathan Goldberger
(guitar), Devin Gray (drums) and Hopkins himself (bass). Again it is a relatively short work of
comparable diversity, and once more Hopkins mixes essences of rock and jazz in his
compositions. One can feel his music is deeply drenched in rock as well as jazz. Both musical
worlds collide in powerful and fresh excursions by Hopkins and his mates; music that lives from
contrasts that are well aimed by Hopkins’ musical vision. The burning rock-based guitar solos by
Goldberger, and the jazz-inspired melodic lines by the blowers blend very well together. Grooving
episodes are intersected by wild, free improvisations coming from a rock attitude.  The melodic
lines and patterns are not always the most original ones, but as presented here they make a very
solid whole. (DM)
––– Address:


For years and years I followed every next step by René Lussier, a Canadian guitarist and one of
the founding forces  – together with Duchesne, Lepage and Derome – of the Ambiances
Magnétiques Collective. He started way back in the 70s with Conventum, followed by Les 4
Guitaristes de l’Apocalypso-Bar, Keep the Dog and The Fred Frith Guitar Quartet, etc. Besides he
worked also intensively with Martin Tetréault. So we are speaking here of a true innovator and
creative musician.  I can’t recall how it happened, but gradually I lost him out of sight. Maybe it had
to do with the fact he didn’t release many albums in the last few years. Anyway, what a surprise it
is to have a new work by him. If my view on his career is more or less correct, this release marks a
return to more melodic material, and is not in continuity with his very experimental sound work with
Tetréault.  He composed themes that are sometimes evoking influences of world music. For this
they are reminding me of work of old mates like Lars Hollmer and Fred Frith. With this new quintet
he choose to work with a younger generation of musicians: Marton Maderspach and Robbie
Kuster (drums), Julie Houle (tuba, euphonium) and Luzio Altobelli (accordion). Maderspach is a
Canadian drummer active mainly in jazz group Misses Satchmo. Altobelli was part of Fanfare
Pourpour, just as Julie Houle. Lussier himself plays electric guitar as well as the daxophone, an
instrument developed by that other phenomenal guitarist, the late Hans Reichel. So a very
uncommon set of instruments. Lussier works with these musicians since the end of 2016 and they
developed into a very tight playing unit. This is a truly fascinating next step of avant rock by Lussier
and his colleagues, for some reason released by the French Circum Disc label. Lussier describes
it as “a work-in-progress where everyone’s a soloist. Exploring their multiple talents, pushing back
their limits and mine is thrilling, uplifting, and inspiring. The project revolves around densely written
modular pieces where up to five parts are overlaid.” An interactive play of improvising and playing
with composed characteristics, resulting in very complex and solid compositions. Colourfully and
unusually arranged. A joy! (DM)
––– Address:

JEFF MORRIS – INTERFACES (CD by Ravello Records)

Morris is an artist with a strong interest for (digital) technology and its effects on music. He develops
digital tools for interactive environments. As a performer, he uses and plays them in musical
meetings with jazz musicians, as is the case with this one that has Morris (live sampling) with Karl
Berger (vibraphone, piano) and Joe Hertenstein (drums set, table top percussion). Berger is a
veteran with an impressive career. He started playing at the end of sixties (Joachim Kühn), followed
by John McLauhglin, Dave Holland, etc, etc. Like Berger, Joe Herstenstein – who is of a younger
generation – originates from Germany. Based in New York he worked for example with Matthew
Shipp, Damon Smith, Ivo Perelman, and many others. In this trio collaboration they produce some
puzzling music; highly complex and completely fascinating. This is a very special encounter of jazz
and live sampling which is adventurous and difficult to describe. The software surely ads a new
dimension to improvisation, expanding musical possibilities and manoeuvres in a direction one
couldn’t imagine. And that is what improvisation and also jazz is about, isn’t it? Encounters like
these I find always difficult to visualize in terms of who is doing what. Who is responding to whom?
How is the balance between the acoustical and the digital actors? Sampling a live acoustical
played phrase,  in order to modify and manipulate it and then return it into the game again that is
played. This quote helps: “This live sampling improvisation results in expressively shifting quasi-
loops and glitchy melodic gestures, drawn from music that just happened and influencing what the
performers will do next.” (DM)
––– Address:


One of last year’s highlights for me was seeing O Yuki Conjugate back in concert, twice actually.
The first time was almost thirty-one years after the first time I saw them and since then I kept
following their development from the rudimentary ambient via fourth world rhythms and ambient
dance music to their current (4th) incarnation, seeing them all back at the ambient wheel again
with spacious guitars, electronics and a slightly more polished approach. New work is promised
for next year but there is also some delving the archives as much of the band’s older output is long
out of print and one such release is the defying ‘Scene In Mirage’, which was released on LP and
cassette in 1984 and in 1985 on VHS as well (that’s video, my son) and now CDR and LP; in
between it was also available on LP as part of their ‘Ambuigism’ 4LP set by Vinyl On Demand.
Defying as in this was the moment when the group had something of their own going, music that
not a lot of other people were doing at that time. Surely ambient music was around, the guitars
sound like Durutti Column drenched with psychedelica, the synths are set to ‘kosmische’ and the
loops of drums, machine hum, spoken word vaguely hint towards ‘industrial music’ (very loosely to
be used here) or even the later forms of ambient dance music (‘Beyond Control 2’), but all in a truly
unique combination; unheard at that time and not a lot since. I have the CDR version in front of me
and that one is a combination of pieces the earlier LP and cassette version and not like the LP
back then or the VOD box (this is just some nerdy completist information I guess).
    The LP is divided in an ‘E’ side and an ‘O’ side, which stand for electronic and organic,
reflecting two different sides of the O Yuki Conjugate sound. The ‘E’ side has the group working
with synthesizers, drum machines, rhythm loops and is throughout more up beat and present in
your space. Perhaps not always it is possible to see the ambience in this music I guess and it’s
easier to spot that in the ‘O’ side pieces; here we have loops of drums, flutes and electronics
colouring the sound; slowly drifting and meandering about, like percussion in a tropical night,
recorded from some distance. On CDR it might not be easy to separate the two sides, not as much
as it is on record (and for heaven’s sake, let’s not go into that whole ‘vinyl is better than CD’
discussion; I very much enjoy delicate music like this on CD- r or otherwise). We hear O Yuki
Conjugate growing and maturing the sound that they later explored further and brought to great
heights. Surely those will be re-issued sometime soon; I still play those on a regular basis, so I am
curious what a re-master would sound like, but also how the 4th incarnation would sound in a
studio version. To be continued, I guess is what they say. (FdW)
––– Address:

MARIACHI (LP by Doubtful Sounds/No Lagos Musique)

Nina Garcia is the real name of Mariachi. She is from Paris and she plays in bands as
Mamiedaragon and Quinicho B and she has duo with Maria Bertel and Augustin Bette. This album
was recorded in Brussels and she uses one guitar, one pedal, one amp and one take, resulting in
eight pieces over the two sides of this record. Those are the facts of this record, besides that the
cover is silk-screened on transparent plastic. The music of Mariachi is quite noisy and loud and the
guitar shines through in these pieces. In a way it is not unlike the music reviewed last week by
Ewen and Gardner, but perhaps Mariachi’s take is a little less noise based and more repeating
sounds played with some furious approach. The noise side of the music doesn’t mean that this is
over the top wall of noise feedback and distortion but a more pleasant exercise in guitar abuse.
All of these pieces, so I would think, are improvised and seven of them are to be found on one side
and ‘Fu/Mi’ spanning the entire first side, but even then also going through various movements and
not one single take of the same thing over and over again. Mariachi has a very fine direct brutal
quality in her work that I like very much. It’s not about chaos per se, but about attack and staying on
that level with stuff that tells me that she’s knows what she is doing and there is quite some
experience at work in these pieces and surely some kind of extensive planning and rehearsing to
make these patterns work and boy they work. Play loud is I think a required thing here; then it
works so much better! (FdW)
––– Address:


When he was in town for a concert I missed him, sadly, as I learned he wanted to thank me for my
review of his ‘Row’ LP in Vital Weekly 1069; no problem, sir. That one was all about rowing a boat
during a game and quite a lovely conceptual record, which happened to sound great as well. Here
Hirsch does something entirely different. Since 2015 he has been constructing his own instrument,
which he calls the Carbophone, “an electroacoustic invention pushing the concept of the African
Kalimba or Mbira”, which is further described as “Vertically set up carbon rods, metal bars as well
as a rubber band gamut make up this plucking instrument which opens up a whole variety of sound
possibilities and features rather particular overtones”. Originally he was recording pieces for
Radiophrenia, a temporary art radio station by Vernon & Burns, but he later continued with
developing this instrument further. As you can except on this record we find these earliest of pieces
and besides playing the instrument, Hirsch also uses electronics and sampling to further enhance
the music. Sometimes he also uses “a Morse key, a Moroccan flute or the Electric Palm Leaf”. It is
quite a lovely record. If it was just his instrument I think I would have loved to see it rather than
hearing it, thinking it might not be possible the way it sounds now. But since we know there are
electronics used, it makes quite a difference, and the record is no longer a demonstration of an
invention, but it becomes lovely little pieces. Most of these with rhythm, but he can as easily drift
off in a more ambientesque pattern or overload his effects with a robot like effect. It is not difficult
to see why a radio program would transmit this, as it is all full of life and little drama. Excellent
record, again. (FdW)
––– Address:

OGROB – EXOCRIME/GENERATIONS (7″ lathe cut by Fissile)

Along with this 7″ I got the catalogue of the Fissile label: an A6 booklet in full Xerox colour, and
many of the records are sold out. Which is then the point of having a catalogue I wonder? To
show what you can’t get? Most if not all of these releases are very limited lathe cut records and
‘Exocrime’ by Ogrob is not different. It is catalogue number 20 out 30 (so far) and not sold out. I
read the catalogue that “tracks were ordered to Sebatstien Borgo in an Indian restaurant in
February, recorded in May and cut in October 2018″. On the cover it is written that these pieces
were recorded “for the benefit of the Fissile foundry” and “no mastering”. Music by Ogrob has been
reviewed before and it has always been something of mystery for me, not entirely sure what it is
all about. Not necessarily about field recordings I would say but rather about using sites to
produce unusual sounds. What these unusual sounds are is also not entirely clear, I’d say. On
the first side just some sort of buzzing sound generators and on the other side I’d say there is
percussion, which could be a bunch of rusty pipes on a factory floor (the recorded in an empty
mine shaft before), or abandoned military machines in a bunker, with a loose scream at the end.
The format of the 7″ is nice, for a song, and perhaps Ogrob sees these as ‘songs’, but somehow,
somewhere I wouldn’t have minded hearing a bit more of these songs. Within the time limit of five
minutes it is all a bit too fleeting and over before it really started. That is perhaps the only downside.
Especially from the first side there could have been a lot more, deeper thought and better worked
out. (FdW)
––– Address:

TOM WHITE – RUN AMOK (CDR by Glistening Examples)
SIMON WHETHAM – CAL Y CANTO (CDR by Glistening Examples)

It has been a while since I reviewed Tom White’s ‘In Poor Visibility’, being in Vital Weekly 714. In
between he released cassettes on such imprints as Alien Passengers, Total Vermin, Beartown
Records, Vitrine, Fractal Meat Cuts and others, as well as a CD with Maya Dunietz for Singing
Knives. I have no idea how his work evolved over those eight years that has passed. I wasn’t
blown away by the earlier release, but this new one seems to work quite good for me. He no
longer uses guitar and microphone feedback, but perhaps still he uses a Dictaphone to pick up
sounds, and these he finds at Lanzarote. On the cover it says: “Run Amok is a composition
featuring recordings of an intervention at the location of Werner Herzog’s film “Even Dwarfs
Started Small” on the volcanic island of Lanzarote. During the early 1970’s Herzog shot two of
his most radical early films on the island prior to the tourism boom: sections of “Fata Morgana”
and the entirety of “Even Dwarfs Started Small”, the location of which remains the same almost
half a century later. Further recordings were made around the island, utilizing the materiality of
Lanzarote’s alien landscape, and used as source material for the resulting work.” There are nine
pieces of White exploring the sonic qualities of the island, a place I never visited (and from Herzog
movies I didn’t watch), but I can imagine the rocky places, filled stones and shells very well, based
on the sounds I am hearing. I am not entirely sure what it is that White does with these recordings
but it surely sounds to me that there is some electronic treatment taking place in these recordings,
but not throughout and not always. White combines what seem to me rough recordings with
electronic treated versions thereof. Most of the time he does that in linear pieces, layering sound
event upon sound event; very occasionally he applies a more collage-like approach by cutting
sounds in a more abrupt fashion together, in and out of the mix. The nine pieces make quite the
coherent listening session and with those electronic treatments sometimes forming a fine element
of drone music, set against the crushing of shells and the dry approaches of wind on the rock and
crackling on of old wood, makes this quite a beautiful release. Perhaps not as alien as the
landscape suggest as White’s music isn’t that strange for these pages; it is quite the beautiful
thing it is.
    Music by Simon Whetham continuously finds a place in these pages. Up until today I never
saw Whetham play live and have actually very little idea what he does, but as far as I know his
work is about a lot of field recordings, computer treatments thereof and a bit of sounds generated
with objects. On ‘Cal Y Canto’, which translates as ‘lime and singing’, he has material he recorded
in Chile last year. It is neither a live recording nor source material. I would think he uses both, live
recordings and source material, to create an entirely new work. It sounds all quite mysterious and
quiet to me. There are quite a few sounds of rubble and dirt being hand manipulated and or
shuffled upon, and through the transformation drones are being generated. In the (only) other
piece, ‘Terminus’, these drones are louder than in the title piece, and Whetham applies collage
techniques by using quite different sounds together, cutting them in and out of the mix. In the title
piece, at twenty-seven minutes twice as long, there is the true soft mysterious power. Here too it is
collage, even when Whetham not always cuts abruptly, but in slower motions; it is here more
subdued and intense and throughout not the easiest of pieces. Two weeks ago I reviewed a new
work by Marc Behrens and realized there aren’t that many composers like him anymore (or
seemingly not too active when it comes to releases); Roel Meelkop is surely one, but also Simon
Whetham is one who works with highly sensitive soundscapes and he does a great job.
    Matt Shoemaker was one of those guys too, but he passed away last year. Colin Andrew
Sheffield was a good friend of his and the two of them exchanged quite a bit of music over many
years. Sheffield takes these recordings and reworks them into two pieces, 23:14 and 23:17,
perhaps intending to release them as a cassette or LP, but now released on a CDR. In his work
Sheffield is known to use ‘samples and processing’ and I would think that is exactly what he is
doing here. Now, sample and process could lead you to thinking that this is something along the
lines of Whetham, mucho laptop stuff that is, but Sheffield’s approach is something entirely
different. He’s not the sort of person to make delicate, quiet music but in stead goes out all the
way, using a wealth of sound effects all over the place. Surely these are digital, but these days
he might be using modular electronics as well (but I would think it would have been mentioned
on the cover) and he does a pretty dense collage of sounds from Shoemaker’s works. He’s freely
bouncing around (I must admit I didn’t recognize many), going from place to place in quite a
succession of moments. It’s drone heavy, for sure, hefty, spacious and roaming about, but
Sheffield never stays very long in one place and sometimes goes about a bit too quick for my
taste. I wouldn’t have minded if he paced his music a bit more; let sounds work for themselves for
a while, give it more breathing space rather than these at times speedy transformations. That is
not to say that I don’t like this; far from it. I quite enjoyed this spacious travel of heavily transformed
sounds, orbiting far away planets and deep seas alike (not at the same time of course). This is
quite the loving tribute and a sad reminder of Shoemaker’s passing. (FdW)
––– Address:


On three previous occasions we ran reviews of Simon Vincent’s work (Vital Weekly 10371064
and 1080) they were all written by Dolf Mulder and I expected this fourth one to be up his alley
also. But what prompted me to listen to it myself first was the fact that the main composition here,
the title piece, was written after “meeting Stockhausen at his composition courses in 1999”.
Vincent’s previous releases seemed to be dabbling in some way or another with jazz, but not this
one. The main portion here is the title piece, but it opens up with a five minute piano piece from
2016, or sparse tranquillity with a few notes, played in groups. It is dedicated to the Canadian
guitarist Ken Aldcroft and his family.
    ‘Autumn Revelations’ (and I am not sure if the revelations lie in Stockhausen’s courses, or
perhaps somewhere else) was composed for multiple speaker set-up but here of course reduced
to stereo. In this piece drone like sounds play a central role and it is built from a single wave form
that gets expanded on; maybe doubling or tripling the waves, or perhaps various different closely
connected wave forms cobbling together. The only other instrument seems to be a single bell or
chime being struck with very long intervals. It opens the piece and only is heard again after some
ten minutes. In the middle of this thirty-five minute piece there is a segment in which it all seems to
be a bit quicker, but from here on the spaces get bigger and bigger again. It is also in this second
when the drones seems to have been chopped with a very fine knife and become rather more synth
like bubbles, but at any time it remains to have this tranquil character. Towards the end it returns to
where we started and that is with waveforms slowly untangling and becoming a single shape again.
It is a very quiet piece, one that requires to be played at a lower volume, I should think. I am not sure
if the piano piece as opening was really necessary. I can imagine that jazzo’s might find it a radical
release and a piano piece of silent proportions may help some appreciation for the whole thing,
but for me just the title piece would have already been perfect. (FdW)
––– Address:

TAKUJI NAKA/TIM OLIVE – QUINCE (CDR by Kendra Steiner Editions)

The rhythm machine that starts out ‘Quince’ is a bit strange; it is just a rhythm machine and a bit of
delay, but I would think very much an odd-ball for Takuji Naka and Tim Olive, who I happen to
know love their electronics, pick-ups and hissy cassette tapes. Maybe the rhythm machine is a
residue left behind on one of those tapes? The music of ‘Quince’ is a combination, super imposition
if you will, of two concert recordings. One is from their April 2016 European tour (which also
brought you their ‘False Mercury’ release, see also Vital Weekly 1129 and 1135) and a recording
from Kyoto, some eighteen months later. Both Naka and Olive have a long history when it comes
to playing densely orchestrated improvised music and as such ‘Quince’ is no oddball. The bottom
end, the groundwork if you will is laid out with some heavily textured drone like sounds, built from
radio waves, pick-up electrical sources and that sort of dwellers, whereas on top things burst and
bubble with Olive playing his objects on top of other pick ups and with a bit of reverb suggesting a
construction site field recordings, mixed with again with more chopped up short wave recordings.
It is not your usual cup of improvised tea; hardly even as there isn’t any ‘real’ instrument used and
it’s all about electronics, feedback, and disruption and, for the lack of a better word, noise, but all
of this with some rather spacious approach. It is delicate yet dense; open in approach and closed
in execution. Having spent some time with both gentlemen I am surely a bit biased, and I really
don’t care to think if I am the right person or not to review this; I love it.
    The other new release by Kendra Steiner Editions is by Lisa Cameron and Robert Horton,
both of whom had releases on this label before. Horton’s history goes back a long time, to the
70s already, working with Sky City, The Appliances, Plateau Ensemble, and duos with Tom Carter.
He is from the Bay Area and Cameron is from Texas and plays percussion. She’s also been
around since the 70s and “a founding member of Brave Combo (I first saw her with BC circa
1979-80!) and a member of Rocky Erickson’s Evil Hook Wildlife band (80’s), a member of
Jandek’s Austin 2012 band, a member of Glass Eye, a member of ST 37 for two decades”. While
I know Horton mainly for his saxophone playing I am not entirely sure if that is what he plays here,
as Cameron’s percussion is what we mostly; maybe he’s joining on there. Cameron’s percussion
consists of drums, marimbas and metals, and there is a bit of guitar by Eli Ekert and bass by
Sean Potts (both in ‘Year End Skies’) and saxophone of by Dan Plonsey on ‘All Beneath Heaven’.
Odd music for sure that at times sounds like it’s been recorded at some tribal gathering; not that
these rhythm bang on end (usually; they do in ‘A Lifetime Growing Content’, far from it actually, but
there is a mysterious presence in these pieces. I usually am not the sort of person to speak about
such things as ‘ghosts’ or use the word ‘haunted’ but these pieces surely are something like the
soundtrack to a scary movie. There is percussion, a refined layer of electronics used. The track
that sees the addition of guitar and bass is an odd ball in this collection, dragging it all of a
sudden into the world of ‘music’ (come again?), but maybe resembles a joyous aspect of the
world of ceremonies and campfires, just like the closing ‘All Beneath Heaven’.  Oddly strange
and perfectly great music. (FdW)
––– Address:

MARKUS MEHR – LIQUID EMPIRES (cassette by Hidden Shoal Recordings)

From 1989 to 1997 Markus Mehr was the guitarist in The Unemployed Ministers and after that he
had a solo project called Aroma. Since 2008 he works under his own name and has releases on
Australia’s Hidden Shoal Recordings. His work is used in audio visual and sound art installations,
as well as film and theatre. This is my first encounter with his music and for ‘Liquid Empires’ I am
told that the recordings were made from all sorts of water sources. To that end Mehr uses
recordings from the “digital domain”, and set about transforming these using “spectral analysis
and time manipulation software”. Water is of course of vital essence for life on planet Earth, but I
am not sure to what extent there are political or environmental connotations to this album. Not a
lot as far as I can see.
    It is not easy to see what it is that Mehr is doing with these water sources in the digital domain.
Is it all purely based on transforming sounds using software or also by adding synthesizer sounds
to these sources? Judging by the music I’d say that it is the latter, but of course I might be entirely
wrong, but it sounds like he’s mixing water like sounds together with synthesizers, sequencers
and beats. The odd thing, perhaps, is that none of this sounds very water like; maybe the
microphone is hidden below the water surface, picking up sounds from above and beyond the
water level? Also the beats are not really dance like, when they occur, which is not always, and
Mehr blends together his minimalist rhythms, spacey sounds and musique concrete inspired
processing of sounds. The music is throughout dark, but not pitch black; there is light shimmering
through these nine pieces. Mehr has all in all quite a varied release, going back and forth
between the more abstract sound scapes and spacious synth with rhythms, although the last
seem to be a bit longer. It is a fine showcase of what he can do and he does a fine job. (FdW)
––– Address:


Last week we had no new Lärmschutz release, but here they are again and with a bit of a
surprise. On their Bandcamp page we read: “We tried to make a soundtrack for a movie about LA
Jarry called Paradigme but we failed. Now we release those attempts as a standalone tape so you
can make your own images to our sounds”, plus a listing of the usual line-up of Rutger (trombone &
electronics), Stef (guitar), Thanos (electronics & keys). Please notice the slight change in use of
instruments, as Thanos is not manning the drums here but all on electronics. The biggest surprise
lies in the length, close to eighty minutes, and the fact that that both sides are quite different. On the
first side there is ‘First Attempt – Failed’ is the Lärmschutz we know and love; chaotic, anarcho-jazz
but now of a slightly more electronic kind. I have no idea what kind of electronics they use in their
work, but I would think they are cheap, lo-fi means that fit the idea of a bit mayhem, noise and
improvisation. It meanders about, which is not really a surprise given this length. On the other side
we find ‘Approved Disapproved’, which is Lårmschutz walking through a shopping mall, or rather a
recording of them walking through a shopping mall, colouring the sounds with effects, a bit of
electronic loops and such like. It is a relatively easy made piece, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is
spacious, different, odd, compelling and at times annoying. A strange piece for sure, and I have
no idea if this is an one-of odd-ball in the catalogue of Lärmschutz or a road (literally?) they are
going to explore further in the future; we will learn no doubt, sooner or later. (FdW)
––– Address:

AR.MA – WINTER (cassette by Plaza Zachodnia)
TAKAHIRO MUKAI – THE PASSION OF VOJTEK (cassette by Plaza Zachodnia)
PLEQ & PHILIPPE LAMY – SPACE (cassette by Plaza Zachodnia)

From this trio of new releases by Polish Plaza Zachodnia I started with Artur Maciak, or as he calls
his music project, Ar.Ma. I didn’t hear of him before, and according to the cover he is responsible
for “compositions, instruments, recordings, mix”, without any specification as to what kind of
instruments have been used. I believe to hear quite a bit of synthesizers, but also guitars, a
saxophone and flutes, along with some field recordings, which could surely be of ice breaking,
animals or water sources. Ar.Ma has nine pieces on his cassette, somewhere between four and
six minutes, and in each he paints a moody, dark picture for all of these pieces. Sound effects play
an important role in his work, reverb quite naturally, but also the delay is in much use here.
Unfortunately the setting seems to be the same throughout these pieces, so with the three or four
bits of sounds decaying about and its a rather similar idea to all of this compositions, which is a
pity, which is also expressed in the use of his titles, all dealing with the thematic approach of
‘winter’. I am not sure what Ar.Ma wants with his music, surely giving the listener a pleasant time
is one of them and he succeeds only partially. By themselves these pieces are lovely little
sketches of moody, atmospheric tunes, but as a whole I am less convinced and I think a bit more
variation is in order there.
    ‘The Passion Of Vojetk’ is the second release by Takahiro Mukai that I review, following ‘Slow
And Steady’ (Vital Weekly 1119). Hid discography however is much bigger than that. I believe he
numbers all of his pieces and is now up to ‘#387″ to “#392”, six pieces in total on this new cassette.
This time the music is “inspired by the story of Wojtek The Bear – a Siberian brown bear adopted by
the soldiers of the Anders Army”, which is the Polish army during World War Two, liberating the
country from the Germans. For someone who composes quite abstract pieces of music that is quite
a literal reference so I was thinking. The music still plays out around patterns on a drum machine
and sound effects. It is not Mukai’s intention, so I believe to do create dance music per se, as these
patterns are something quite abstract; like in “#391” merely a thumbing forward movement and
some sound effects. Sometimes it is all in the minimalist corner, with very subtle changes and
moves and then on other occasions the beat is more stomping and changes are swifter moving
about, such as in ‘#389’. Sometimes it sounds awfully modern and sometimes it is very much
dated, bringing back, as before the early music of Cabaret Voltaire. There aren’t many improvisers
sitting around with a drum machines and a ton of sound effects to play music that is not dance
oriented so that makes Mukai rather a lone wolf in that respect. I now heard two of his releases
and that’s fine; I am sure I could enjoy some more in the future, but at the same time I am also
wondering if the concept isn’t too think in the end. Where will be the expasnion be?
    From the information I understand that Bartosz Dziadosz, also known as Pleq, worked on a
couple of occasions with Philipp Lamy for labels as Dronarivm, Pocket Fields and dataObscura,
but I only remember the 3″CDR by Taalem (see Vital Weekly 962), which was a work of powerful
drone music based in the digital realm of sound processing. I would believe that is also something
that is going on this new cassette. The two of them make effective use of found sound, field
recordings, perhaps a bit of Tibetan bells, voices and through the use of much software all of this
is transformed into a massive field of atmospheres; drones like heavy space ships through a pitch
black sky. Loud? Not really? Heavy? Surely these are some heavy beasts and the sound isn’t
always too well defined to be different. That is perhaps a bit of a pity I thought; it could have used a
bit more definition in the separate sounds. It all stays a bit too much on the dark side, with thunder
crossing our paths (don’t ask me how that is possible in space), rain and such sombre weather
conditions. It is all not a too much of a pleasant trip, this journey into the dark lands, but on a day
like today, early winter, cold, windy and dark it is the perfect seasonal soundtrack. Included is a
Marcus Fjellström remix, to whose memory (he passed away last year) this music is dedicated.
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  Parapsychic Acoustic Research Cooperative/Ash International/Spectral Electric)

When I tell people that I am listening to electronic voice phenomena, voices of deceased, for
instance because I am writing a review about it, I am met with some scepticism. Quite rightfully I’d
say, as it’s good to question a lot of things. I am usually also asked if I ‘believe’ they really exist,
these voices of the dead. I could say, they are recorded and henceforth they exist, but that’s the
easy way out. I have perhaps a more romantic notion about these recordings. I can enjoy it as a
great a story, regardless whether it is ‘true’ or not. To celebrate the fact that Ash International
released a CD with EVPs from the archives from Friederich Jürgenson (1903-1987) who
encountered by accident strange voices in 1959 when he was trying to record birds. The CD
being long out print, there is now this pocket-sized library version, the ‘everything you want to
know version about EVP, but were afraid to ask’. I know the USB is the least serious media to
deliver the goods upon, this item proofs you why it is such a great thing. It not only contains the
original CD, it also contains the remastered files, as well as a wealth of extra’s. There is a short
biography by Michael Esposito, who curated this release, and who is an acyive force when it
comes to collecting EVP himself, texts by our own Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg, Ken Hollings,
Carl-Michael von Hauswolff, there is a PDF with Jörgensen’s private account of his development
in this field, the 200 pages of ‘Voice Transmissions With The Deceased”, the one hour TV
documentary ‘Last Gate To Eternity’, plus more texts, photo’s but also a folder with paintings and
drawings of Jürgenson as that was his occupation. Perhps one downside is that Jürgenson spoke
ten different languages so some of the film stuff is in German; for me no problem, but I can imagine
this is for some probably a small boundary. No subs included. This is guaranteed a few full days of
examination and a whole world will open up, in case you never heard about any of this before.
Did it convert me into believing voices of the dead really exist? Well, not really, as listening to
these recordings could be the voices of the dead as well as heavily detuned radio; one can be
free to hear what one likes I guess. But what I gather is that it offers quite some consolation for
those who deal with the difficult concept of death itself. Knowing that something lives on, that we
are not ‘lost’ forever when our physical presence is gone, that we can communicate with those
who are left behind, is surely for some people a great thing to believe. Who am I to disagree with
that belief? I think it is a great story, regardless what I think about the validity of it. It makes up
fascinating reading, viewing and listening material. For someone who lives very much in the
presence and has very ambivalent expectations of ‘the future’ (much, more later of course) that
is more than enough. (FdW)
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