Number 1178

FRANCISCO LOPEZ – UNTITLED (2017) (CD by Auf Abwegen) *
GERALD FIEBIG – GASWORKS (CD by Gruenrekorder) *
HMMH – FLEUR DE CHAOS (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques) *
  La Coque) *
RABOR – ROOTS (CD by COD Noizes) *
WABI EXPERIENCE (CD by Mikroton Recordings) *
  Mikroton Recordings) *
TALYA COOPER & JOHN ATKINSON – PLAINS (LP by Florabelle Records) *
JOSH MASON – COQUINA DOSE (LP by Florabelle Records) *

FRANCISCO LOPEZ – UNTITLED (2017) (CD by Auf Abwegen)

Over the years I gave up wondering about various things. Such are the reasons why some prolific
musicians suddenly seem to release a lot less; those reasons might be multiple, such as lack of
labels, lack of inspiration or moving away from releasing to performing or teaching. I also realize I
just may not receive any new release, also something not to ponder on too much. Postage these
days is a bitch everywhere; the realization that promotion isn’t effective, small editions or maybe
even such a thing as the musician simply blocking a publication. I am sure there are some for Vital
Weekly. Francisco Lopez had a lot of releases over a great number of years but these days it is a
lot less; in his case, it might be teaching or going out on expeditions in Africa that keeps him from
considering the next release (oh right, I wasn’t going to think of any reasons). Therefore ‘Untitled
(2017)’ is something, at least for me, something of a new meeting with his work. The cover is
already strikingly different; before Lopez used very minimal cover, all white, all black, maybe a
small image, but nothing much more. Here however he has to cover sized photographs to show,
in full colour. That surely stands out in your Lopez collection. As before, when Lopez combines
the word ‘Untitled’ with a year (as opposed to a number) it means that we are dealing with a
collection of pieces from that year. Sometimes the cover mentions, which released they were on
or who commissioned them. Now there are only a few words for ‘Untitled #354″ and ‘Untitled
#357″. The latter is from sounds from South Africa and the first appears in two versions. The 10-
second version was sent to the planet GJ273 in a heavily compressed version. The original 10-
minute version follows and contains field recordings from all over the planet, each one minute
long. Music wise, Lopez also has a change to offer. Before much of his work was very quiet,
building over the course of many minutes to a mighty crescendo. In his current sound approach,
Lopez seems to be working mostly with sounds that are audible, most of the times. Also, and I
might be wrong here, I believe that Lopez uses (more?) digital processing these days to transform
his field recordings. If I were to speculate, I would think he uses max/MSP patches for his
transformations, judging by the crackles and hisses in some of these works. What stays is the
minimal approach to composing with these sounds; it takes a bit of time to explore a singular
sound before something new is allowed and added to the piece. Sometimes we are able to
recognize pure field recordings, simple as that, from up close or far away. It is all of these
combinations that make this certainly the ‘new’ Lopez sound and it is very enjoyable. Whereas
his older work is sometimes hard to hear (literally!), here it works very well. I’m not sure if this is
something specific for 2017, but it opens up many new roads for him, I should think.
    The other album is a three-way compilation, well more or less, by Anemone Tube and friends.
One piece by his solo, two are together with Jarl and two with Monocube. The credits are kept
simple, Monocube plays modular synth and the other two just ‘synth’; there is an occasional
mentioning of field recordings by Anemone Tube. All five pieces are inspired by paintings by
Pieter Brueghel the Elder. These are paintings I have surely seen before but never thought about
much. Luckily, for me that is, there is in this great designed package a booklet with a text by Kim
Dohlich and Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg (he of Vital Weekly, until recently) to tell me some
interesting things about the painting which lends the title for the whole release, which perhaps
also makes the music a bit better to understand. Had I not read the text, I would have probably
set that the dark music of these three synth wielders fit the dark tone of the painting pretty well.
It’s wintertime, late afternoon and here’s the perfect soundtrack. In a way that’s only one half of
the story, as the text points out. This is about survival, death but also about human life further
away from the upfront depicting of the hunters; people skating on a frozen lake. It made me re-
visit the music differently. The voices used in ‘The Hay Harvest’ (with Jarl), reflect some of that
more human approach from afar, while glacial tones depict the winter scene. ‘The Hay Harvest’ is
another painting by Brueghel and also depicted on the cover; in fact it’s part of five, all depicted,
paintings about different seasons (one painting, a sixth one, seems to be lost) and aren’t as talked
about in the booklet and immediately more difficult to consider. The music remains dark and
atmospheric, even when the paintings of the ‘Hay Harvest’ and ‘The Harvesters’ seem quite light
and sunny. There is still some mystery intact here and the massive, synthesized drones of these
pieces are loud and ominous. It is something that one would expect from Jarl and Anemone Tune
(I don’t think I heard much by Monocube up to this point) and it fits their earlier work of like massive,
partly industrial soundscapes. Is a ‘valid’ interpretation of these paintings? I am not entirely sure,
but partly I would say the music is very much spot on. And it comes in a great digipack, depicting
all the paintings and informative texts; what more could you possibly want? (FdW)
––– Address:

GERALD FIEBIG – GASWORKS (CD by Gruenrekorder)

While Gerald Fiebig has a label, Attenuation Circuit, he reaches out to Gruenrekorder here for a
release that deals with various pieces of gasworks in Augsburg-Oberhausen (not the one in the
Ruhrgebiet), which closed its business in 2001 and which is now an art centre. The pieces by
Fiebig aren’t pure field recordings, but a collection of installation pieces, radiophonic pieces and
live recordings, all related to the gasworks. The longest piece here is ‘Nach Der Industrie’ in which
Fiebig uses the voice of a former employee, which he interviewed and it is combined with gas
recordings from a kitchen stove. It is not an easy piece, certainly, if you don’t speak German
(English translation is online) and quite a sit through at twenty-six minutes. The other pieces
are more interesting, from a more musical perspective. There are two pieces where Fiebig
improvises with field recordings from the gasworks with other players, such as Christian Z. Müller
on saxophones and Theremin and EMERGE (with whom he runs the Attenuation Circuit label)
and these pieces are somewhere in between industrial music, ambient, improvisation and field
recordings, especially the piece with Müller, in which the vast space of an empty gas tank is used.
With EMERGE, it is all rather ambient but of a more noise based variety; dark and atmospheric. In
the two remaining solo pieces, Fiebig explores the 84-metre high metal chamber by filling it up
with sounds from instruments and tools, mostly without any amplification. Fiebig leaves space in
between his sounds and that gives us an idea of this enormous empty metallic space. So, while
the longest piece was interesting to hear once, the rest of the release is something I enjoyed very
much. This is quite spooky, haunted and experimental music, with lots of tension going on. (FdW)
––– Address:

HMMH – FLEUR DE CHAOS (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)

Apparently, Pierre-Yves Martel and Carl Ludwig Hübsch have been playing together for some
years now. Martel plays ‘viola da gamba and harmonica and Hübsch is on tuba and objects.
Following their last tour in Canada, they decided to invite two like-minded Montreal musicians for
a joint recording session. Conveniently their names lead to the acronym HMMH; Emilie Mouchous
plays synthesizer and Joane Hétu plays saxophone, voice and objects. Together they recorded the
six pieces in a single day session in October 2017. While this is improvised music, probably more
the alley of mister Mulder, I was listening to this and found myself attracted to the music. It surely is
improvised but the approach here is also within the realm of electro-acoustic music and each of the
players treats their instrument in an unusual way. The way Mouchous adds her synthesizer makes
for a further level of alienation. Sometimes a bit drone like (but surely also from saxophone and
viola), or piercing blocks of sound, while other instruments are played with objects, next to a more
regular playing of these and the fine interaction between the players, make that these six pieces
are a fine joy to hear. There is a great delicacy in these pieces, with moments of quietness and
introspection, as well as outbursts of controlled ‘noise’ and ‘mayhem’. All in all, this is quite a
lovely work. (FdW)
––– Address:


If I am not mistaken, I believe that one of the two people behind Kunzysteem, of which I had not
heard until now, have quite a long tradition of cassettes, DIY and small scale festivals in a more
remote part of The Netherlands. They call themselves L.J. Klatergoud and Amy Access, but in
reality, they are L.J. van de Velde and Sadie van de Velde; this is a not a couple but a father and
his youngest daughter (no prizes to win who had the long tradition here). Out of the blue comes
this CD release and it is distributed by Belgium’s EE Tapes, which is, upon hearing not really a
surprise. About their work, they say that “the music hints to the electronic pioneers, recorded in old
school style electro acoustic sessions”, which is very much a true thing. There are surely quite a bit
of rhythm machines used here and guitars with a fuzz box and some keyboards, while both use
their voices. I am not sure what these lyrics are supposed to be about, which, I will say it again, is
entirely my problem. They are just not easy to follow even when they are quite upfront in the mix.
The whole approach of Kunzysteem is quite in your face and perhaps that is what they mean with
the ‘electronic pioneers’, which is not mister Stockhausen or Wendy Carlos, but the early 80s
electro pioneers; not Gary Numan or OMD, but people working in small studios at home with limited
means, a four-track machine maybe and some effects. The music sounds like that for sure. It has
that charming, early 80s sound of little production value. These days one easily do this kind of
music on a laptop and work each and every sound and make a much richer sound picture, but
Kunzysteem decided to go for that more lo-fi approach and there is nothing wrong with that of
course; it is all about choices made. With eighteen songs in fifty-three minutes and not much
change in the image of the sound make this also quite a slightly tiring experience in the end.
Compositions are approached in a similar singular way. Rhythm rattle, duo voices, while
synthesizers play rudimentary melodies; after a while, you get the drift and you want for something
radically different to happen. At least I did. I enjoyed, however, the very consistent approach of
this band, even when it was all a bit much in the end. (FdW)
––– Address:

  La Coque)

So far I had not heard of Surplus 1980. This is a band around Moe Staiano in which plays most
instruments himself, but also using studio recordings from other people, such as (quoting Discogs
here) “Carla Kihlstedt, Matthias Bossi, and Dan Rathbun (Sleepytime Gorilla Museum), guitarist
Ava Mendoza (Mute Socialite, Unnatural Ways), violinist Meredith Yayanos (Faun Fables)” but
also bits from Andy Moor (The Ex), GW Sok (ex-The Ex, King Champion Sounds) and others. This
new release collects all (?) members so far that have been a more or less permanent presence in
the band under the banner of Surplus 1980 Collectiv Ensembl With G.W. Sok. The latter recorded
his vocal contributions in Amsterdam, whereas the rest was recorded in California, but even then
some might have been taped elsewhere. The line-up consists of guitars, bass (“low, high, upright”),
drums, oboe and bass clarinet. The music reminds me of post-punk but that might be because of
Sok’s voice, as the music itself is at times quite complex. I could be wrong but it takes the more
complex rhythm and signatures from progressive rock in the mid-seventies but playing them with
the vigour of a punk band. There have been times that the Ex sounded like this, around “Tumult”
and “Blueprints For A Blackout”; it is almost an orchestral approach here and it works damn fine. If
they all play at the same time, we are talking about four guitars, three basses, two drummers plus
the oboe and bass clarinet. As you may know by now, I am not a man caring that much about lyrics,
so I must admit I have no idea what these lyrics are about; one is about Elvis. I guess that’s not
enough, right? Sok sings as he does best; full-on, almost spitting the words out, but it is controlled
aggression that he is putting on display here. It all sounds like a pleasant, intelligent work of post-
punk, using all the energy and inventive composition, taking elements of seventies progressive
rock with all the changes, but then as executed by punks who know how to play their instruments.
This label I know for their interesting obscure re-issues but this one branches out to a current
recording; it is something that could have been from the past as well. (FdW)
––– Address:


Over the years I surely shared a few words on the subject of The New Blockaders. My main point is
that I don’t get what they want or do. If, of course, there is any point at all to ‘get’. I am fairly sure
there is not anything they ‘want’ (to achieve) or ‘offer’ (a message). They might very well be nihilists
(‘ah, that must be exhausting’) who only have one interest and that is having ‘a good time all the
time’ (that’s two movie quotes in one sentence; enough of that). And a jolly good time they have on
stage. Very much like The Haters they have balaclava’s and destroy what they have on stage; well,
not everything. There is a concrete grinder, a piano, some mixing boards and as far as I can judge
not a lot of stomp boxes. Two men on stage shuffle about, sawing and breaking the things for the
full forty minutes, excluding a lovely piano intro and outro. I know this because I am watching the
action on the DVD. I am sure had I not seen this I would have said something else, thinking they
have some looped recording of a conveyer belt. The backdrop contains of a flickering hiss on a
screen on which off and one and words are projected. The CD is a bonus, nice for ripping a bit for
our podcast. The real gem in this package is the DVD and seeing them at work. I am not sure if the
audio and visual are fully in sync, but it is all shot with multiple cameras and it looks great. My
favourite segment is towards the end when the Blockaders, perhaps tired from all running around,
stand behind the already demolished piano and together they hammer the piano further down. By
then we are already in the outro music. What have we learned? Exactly nothing. What have we
experienced? The sound of destruction carried out with great precision. That must have felt really
good. For The New Blockaders. I am sure the audience had a great evening as well, but I wonder:
how many of them wanted to jump on stage and join in? According to the cover notes, it happens,
but not in Kortrijk, Belgium at Sonic City in 2017. (FdW)
––– Address:

RABOR – ROOTS (CD by COD Noizes)

Here we have three releases on COD Noizes, a label and distribution from Moscow, who also
release music from bands outside of their home country. One of them being British Satori,
originally consisting of Dave Kirby and Robert Maycock. They have been going for a long time,
although first by the name Psychopath. I remember them from the late 80s when they had a label
called Mindscan. After that, I didn’t continue following them and now I learned there was quite a
hiatus from the early 90s to 2007 when it came to releases. The project was revived and since
then released a whole bunch of material and since 2014 it is the solo vehicle of Dave Kirby. He’s
responsible for ‘Dispossession’, a twelve-track tour de force that spans seventy-two minutes. I
have no idea how the sound developed over the years, but it is perhaps reassuring to see they
haven’t left the field of power electronics that much. It is brutal music, rhythmic, noisy, vocals are
screaming. Titles include ‘Dead Cities’, ‘A Clean Death’, ‘Devils Cease’ and ‘Slaughter Of The
Innocents’, so nothing has changed and that is perhaps, so I would think the whole idea of power
electronics; no change, ever! However listening to these pieces I noticed small changes in which
Satori pulls back, allows for a longer, quieter intro, of suppressed and controlled violence, but it
never tones it down completely. This was all quite the ear cleansing blast, and perhaps not
something that I would spin any longer on a daily basis, not like the old days, it was good to be
exposed to this lovely stuff. Gone are the days of hissy cassettes as Satori delivered production-
wise great work.
    For something completely different we switch to a Russian lady by the name of Alina Vivita, who
sings and plays the banjo (the cover actually says ‘all the rest’, which also includes the cover art),
while The Sufferings are Sergey Solovyov on drums and Konstantin Wasilyev plays the guitar. I
can be short about this. The music is great; a rock-like sound, but with a folky singing, mucho
reverb to suggest a cathedral for recording and it carries her voice down the corridors of said
church. It is quite gothic at that, but it sounded good to these firmly un-gothic ears of mine. Would
I play this again, you may ask? Well, yes, I would. It has a strange twist of a twangy guitar sound
that makes this quite rocky and less dark folk. I do play some Dead Can Dance every now and
then as well.
    Rabor seems also a new name to me. I am told they look at the musical roots of their own
heritage. That is immediately a setback for the reviewer, as I have no idea about traditional
Russian music. If in fact it is called Russian; maybe it is some distinct ‘other’ part of that vast
country, with a different kind of heritage. It would take a musical anthropologist to work this out, I
should think. For the convenience of the home market, all is in Russian, very much to the
inconvenience of the non-Russian speaking reviewer. I hear lots of acoustic instruments,
percussion, flutes, strings and that all sounds like a Medieval market place; well, that is how we
think it must have sounded (and every phantasy and castle festival sound like these days. There
are a few electronics also in use here and there and a few field recordings. Just like the previous
release by Vivita and The Sufferings we hit a dead end here; it is not music that very much in place
in Vital Weekly. It sounds well produced, it sounds moody, joyful, folky and mysterious. Is that
enough? I think it is because I would know very little else to write to put this in some sort of
context. (FdW)
––– Address:

WABI EXPERIENCE (CD by Mikroton Recordings)
  Mikroton Recordings)

With the owner of the Mikroton label, I sometimes have discussions about music, and one of the
constants is what it is that he releases. Usually, a discussion comes from the fact that I say it’s
improvised music whereas I get firm assurances it is not. For some people, I guess, this is an
exact science, which of course I think it is not. It might not even be important; just convenient when
writing reviews. In the case of Wabi Experience we could safely say it is not improvised, but less
safely to categorize it somewhere else. It is the project of Federsel and it started in 2002 when he
was asked to do a remix of “Czech country hero Wabi Daněk”, but not necessarily of the man’s
music; more like Federsel’s own interpretation (if I understand the press information correctly).
After spending some weeks on a sampler with no memory card, Federsel was hooked on the
machine and the notion of sampling and later on expanded to using computers and software. He
kept on recycling Daněk’s sounds. Never satisfied he called in Jára Tarnovski, from the band
Gurun Gurun. In 2010 this was all done and then it was waiting for a label to release this (and
a label that would not disappear), which now finally happened. Wabi Daněk died in 2017, so
he’s not hearing this but we should be so lucky we can hear it. This is a great release! Genre-
defying and that’s a word I won’t use lightly. It’s glitch like, it’s rhythmic, it’s ambient and it’s, dare
I say it, even a bit pop music like. Especially when the tracks are kept short, and most are, a pop
music sensibility slips in, such as in ‘Outsider Tango’, but it is also filled with all these odd like extra
sounds that remind us that this is surely not pop music at all. It reminds me of all the good things of
electronic music in the past; of Oval’s ’94 Diskont’, The Books, clicks ‘n cuts, even Pan Sonic and
Fennesz to a certain extent. It’s also music that one might not be thinking about so much these
days and perhaps a revival is due now. If so, Wabi Experience is the first great work of such a
    I wanted to play the other new Mikroton release straight away, but I realized after a minute that
would be the wrong choice right now, so I returned a few days later. This is probably one of those
releases by Mikroton, where mister Mikroton and me (sounds like a band name!) would disagree
on the various nomenclature. Here we have Ken Ganfield (synthesizers, electronics), Kurt Liedwart
(synthesizers, cracked homemade and everyday electronics; we spot the relationship there with
Norbert Möslang) and Petr Vrba (synthesizers, electronics), who worked together in Prague in
August 2017. I have some idea what to imagine happens at such a session. Various people,
operating various instruments play together (one could perhaps also call this improvisation; unless
in advance it is known what will be played out) and all is recorded. Either each player records his
own part or a multi-track recorder has been put in place, or, alternatively, everything is recorded to
two tracks (stereo). Anyway, following the recording Kurt Liedwart sat down with the material and
mixed it at all. I assume he prefers every player to be recorded individually, so when it comes to
mixing (which in this case equals ‘composing’, I think) there are lots of choices to be made. I don’t
know for sure if this is the case here, and it is just an assumption. What for Liedwart might be clear
examples of composing, might sound like improvising for others; me for instance. I like to believe I
heard quite a fair few of this kind of ‘composed’/edited’ sessions to think at the core it is improvised
and in some case that shines through the end result. This is surely one of those instances. It has
perhaps to do with what I think is composed and to what extent. Here, on the two pieces on this
release, there is quite a bit of cracking and sudden leaps in sound noticeable, jumping up and
down, which gave me the impression that this is indeed more or less improvised music (I am
carefull here; I am just giving my considerations!) and it’s just categorization. I actually like the
music very much. It’s vibrant, energetic, bouncing, thoughtful and comes with quite a bit of
interesting perspectives and abrupt changes in the overall compositions. It’s an excellent
release. You don’t need to call it [fill in whatever you think it is not] if the term shocks you. (FdW)
––– Address:


For an album built entirely out of field recordings, the most surprising quality of “Friche: Transition”
is how industrial it sounds. “Friche: Transition” was assembled out of field recordings taken at the
outer edges of Paris over the course of a week, “on waste grounds… spaces which are somehow
both inside yet apart from the city; waiting spaces from which to listen to the threshold of the city.” 
A series of photographs and hand-written notes bring the spaces to life; looking at them as you
listen certainly colours how the sounds are understood by tying them to specific environments.
For me, that actually made the music more evocative. If I’d only read that these were urban field
recordings from the outer edges of Paris, I might not have really known what was meant. I’d
imagine auto repair shops and highways. The images show a variety of locations and acoustic
spaces that both La Casa and Sprod explored with microphones and digital recorders. 
    That these guys would work together so seamlessly is no surprise. Both composers deal with
field recordings in a similarly hands-on manner; not as objective documentary, but as poetic raw
material for extremely detailed and dramatic music. The locations’ peculiar character remains
legible throughout, but “Friche: Transition” is ultimately music and not ecological exercise. To
listen to this all the way through is wonderfully unnerving; just when you’re lulled by the static
metallic rumble, sharp cuts and clanks leap across the stereo field and jolt out in sharp-angled
jump-scares. Listening to a big city from its ignored edges means capturing the menacing
acoustics of tunnels, the drone of distant traffic and faraway voices, active trash-heap clatter,
threatening low-frequency drops, oncoming trains, cell phone interference. The lengthiest
section, part 3, bashes rocks around at a steadily rolling density while skittering plastic and water
attack from all sides until flurries of activity in discrete channels give an impression of
overwhelming movement that constantly speeds up, stops, switches to something entirely
different… bends plastic in your ear then throws you down a well, only to instantly teleport you
to the centre of an auto scrap yard and then plunge you back underground. So much is happening
each second that a single listen doesn’t do it justice. I’ve experienced “Friche: Transition” intently
all the way through on headphones about six times so far, and have come away with latching on
to new details each time. This album is exhilarating and thrillingly exhausting. (HS)
––– Address:


PSF was a legendary Japanese record label whose sprawling catalogue included an astonishing
number of truly towering artists and influential albums. When people describe music as “Japanese
psych”, that’s just a shorthand for “similar to PSF Records”. Hideo Ikeezumi ran PSF out of his
Modern Music record shop from 1984 until his death in 2017. In that span of time, he produced a
catalogue of more than 250 albums which, varied as they were, were also recognizably the
product of a single discerning curator. Among the many artists whose careers Ikeezumi supported
were (once obscure but now well-known) names such as Keiji Haino, Ghost, Tori Kudo, White
Heaven, High Rise, Go Hirano, Masayuki Takayanagi, Kaoru Abe, Kousukouya, and on and on
and on. Psychedelic rock, free jazz and improvisation, experimental noise, outsider folk… PSF
was like no other label… except, of course, for Black Editions! The contemporary LA imprint, run
by Open City’s Peter Kolovos and music writer Steve Lowenthal, exists to both reissue classic
PSF sides in lovingly extravagant vinyl editions and to continue where PSF left off.
    Anyone looking for a way into PSF’s daunting catalogue could hardly do better than the “Tokyo
Flashback – Psychedelic Speed Freaks” compilation, first compiled by Ghost’s Masaki Batoh as a
tribute to Ikeezumi after his passing. It initially appeared in Japan as a double CD and is now
presented by Black Editions as a deluxe triple LP in lavish gatefold sleeve. “Psychedelic Speed
Freaks” brings together exclusive music by artists from all of the label’s eras and musical interests.
Listeners are treated to a loose, good-vibes jam by Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso
UFO, a swath of mysterious post-rock fog by Shizuka, solo accordion (!!) by a qui avec Gabriel,
brittle acoustic folk rock by Kim Doo Soo, intentionally awkward and low-fi pop by Maher Shalal
Hash Baz… and also some terrific entries by lesser-known newer artists. Reizen’s brown downer
drone is a particular standout, as is the free-rock acid squawk of Niseaporia (featuring Hiroyuki
Usai, also known as L). The album ends with an appropriately sombre rendition of Bach’s “Sonata
#1 in G Minor for Solo Violin” played on guitar by Kondo Hideaki of EXIAS-J. My favourite entry is
the track by my personal favourite band to come out of PSF, Overhang Party, with their confidently
anthemic “Now Come Out”, which is rechristened here as “Now Appearing! Naked Existence” for
some unexplained reason. Sure, it’s too bad that neither Kan Mikami nor Tomokawa Kazuki, two
iconic folk singers whose careers were revitalized with PSF’s support, make an appearance but
Haino is featured twice (once with a subdued solo and once with his band black-hole band
Fushitsusha), but then again the label was far too massive to capture completely in a single
compilation album… even one that spans three slabs of wax. You might as well buy this album,
then go back and buy all eight previous “Tokyo Flashback” compilations (the first of which, as it
happens, was reissued by Black Editions as well).
    The next Black Edition is way more confusing than it ought to be. Psychedelic Speed Freaks
is, as you might have noticed, the title of the compilation I just reviewed a paragraph ago. It was
also the original name of archetypal PSF band, the absurdly-in-the-red hyper-garage rock
monsters High Rise. High Rise was (maybe still are?) led by bassist/singer Nanjo Asahito and
guitar hero Munehiro Narita with a rotating cast of drummers valiantly attempting to keep up.
When Psychedelic Speed Freaks changed their name to High Rise in 1984, they kept “Psychedelic
Speed Freaks” as the title of their debut album. Its initials then became the name of the mighty PSF
label. Got all that? Somehow, here in 2019, Narita has formed a new trio with an American bassist/
singer and drummer called Jasso and TJ, respectively… no last names here, since the spotlight is
firmly on Narita. The new band plays music that sounds an awful lot like High Rise. The name of the
 new band is… wait for it… Psychedelic Speed Freaks! Talk about recycling. Perhaps Narita enjoys
the confusion, or maybe he’s been waiting thirty years to use Psychedelic Speed Freaks as a band
name again. Who knows. It doesn’t really matter, though, because this album, so far the only non-
reissue on Black Editions, sounds great… in fact, it sounds like a new High Rise album. Maybe it
leans more heavily towards Sabbath/Deep Purple crunch than High Rise’s post-Blue-Cheer acid
scorch, but still…. if someone put it on and told you it was High Rise, you’d believe it. The singer
has more of a rock vibe than Nanjo’s ghostly wail, but he does have a similar style and is mixed
similarly low. Every song barrels forward with such momentum that it seems as if the band
members are strapped onto out-of-control motorcycles that might careen right through the
speakers and collapse onto your floor in a wreck of twisted metal while you listen. The High Rise
formula remains: a riff is introduced, an incomprehensible hoarse rasp “sings” somewhat audibly
from behind a maelstrom of distorted screech, and Narita kicks his guitar into frenzied overdrive.
Just as promised by the band’s name, this music is sonic amphetamine, a massive sound with
energy that never lapses.
    The next Black Edition is another surprise. “Homo Sacer” was the final PSF CD, though even I,
a longtime fan of the label, hadn’t even heard of it. Makoto Kawashima’s musical lineage is very
clear from the moment you see the cover photo of him alone on stage, hunched intensely over his
alto sax. I saw that picture of ecstatic agony and immediately thought: dude looks like Kaoru Abe.
And sure enough, the late sax titan seems to be Makoto Kawashima’s major touchstone… A young
and relatively new-to-the-scene musician, Kawashima plays sax confidently within the style of his
predecessors: fragmented lines are shot into space and left to hang in the air, each volley
surrounded by silence and punctuated by reed-biting squeals and ferocious blurts. I’m not sure
what Kawashima adds to Abe’s instantly recognizable sound, other than continuing what he
started for an audience who perhaps might not have heard the doomed great man. Maybe an
Abe cover band isn’t a bad thing… though if Kawashima starts making solo harmonica records,
I’m getting off this ride. Your tolerance for solo horn honk will, of course, dictate the extent of your
tolerance for “Homo Sacer”. To paraphrase Emil Beaulieau, “Y’know Seymour, it’s not my
imagination, I swear I just heard some guy play the saxophone for the past fifteen minutes.”
    Probably the best-known, most internationally popular act to have started their ascent on PSF
is Makoto Kawabata’s cult-like, quasi-mystical Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO.
AMT is essentially a freewheeling jam-rock unit whose open-door line-up has seen some of
Japan’s heaviest players pass through its ranks. Before they started generating more product
than Toyota, AMT laid out their mission statement on a self-titled 1997 CD with all the songs run
together into a single track. For their reissue, Black Editions helpfully breaks up the onslaught and
separates the tracks across four sides, rendering Kawabata’s psilocybic splatter somewhat more
accessible. All of the band’s sonic hallmarks are here: repetitive/propulsive motoric rhythm with
amorphous soloing on top (“Satri LSD”), vague laid-back melody with amorphous soloing on top
(represented here by “Pink Lady Lemonade”, a concert favorite), and studio-built collage of jams
and sound effects (all of side 2). These are not songs so much as mantras that kick-start hazy jam
sessions. Sometimes (as on the opener “Acid Mothers Prayer”), those jam sessions scale ecstatic
heights and remain there for a long time. There’s a moment midway through the first side when it
seemed to me that the band had mined all there was from the thin fabric of a melody they started
with, and I expected it to wind down and reach its end… but no, the song kept going, apparently
enthralled by itself as every player took a white-hot solo at the same time. When it works (as it
does here), AMT’s self-indulgent noise is both charming and fun. Perhaps what makes the debut
work is its ridiculously energetic commitment. I imagine Acid Mothers Temple is a fun band to
play in! On record, AMT’s career does in macro what each song does in micro: peak early, then
keep on going for a preposterously long time. If you need one Acid Mothers album (which ought
to be plenty), this is it. (HS)
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The new album by Sandoz Lab Technicians is, interestingly, not a new Sandoz Lab Technicians
album. The sessions that produced “Grey Orders, Distant Trails” were recorded live to tape
between 1997 and 1999, though they were recently unearthed and completed. The concept is
fascinating: 20 years ago, a New Zealand band started recording a soundtrack to a non-existent
European movie from 50 years ago about mythical America from more than a century ago. The
levels of simulacra are hilariously impressive. If you aren’t already familiar with Sandoz, it won’t
mean much for me to tell you that this is one of the best albums they’ve yet released. So newbies
ought to catch up; they’ve been around since the early ’90s, and yet aren’t as well known as their
peers… probably because they’re so difficult to pin down. There have been Technicians in such
heavyweight NZ outfits as the Renderers, Eye, Black Boned Angel, The Stumps, With Throats As
Fine As Needles, Ray Off, Gate (playing on the stellar “Wisher Table” album)… but as a unit, the
group is not terribly prolific, which makes each album worth savouring. “Grey Orders…” would be
a fine place to jump in.
    The trio of James Kirk, Nathan Thompson and Tim Cornelius create a loose, shaggy racket
that stumbles through jazz-inflected improvisation by way of angular noise and dismal twang
that’s probably meant to invoke cowboy songs (or at least cowboy songs by way of a dim
recollection of Morricone playing out of TV speakers several rooms away). The first song is the
most song-like and can be imagined as an opening-credits theme. It has a vaguely Dead C vibe
to it, falling apart as it goes on… but where the Dead C are aggressively psychedelic, Sandoz is
angular and athletic. Immediately after the one catchy tune on the album, the music drifts farther
and farther away… spindly violin scratches around the air amid acoustic guitar daydreams,
curiously flat-sounding drums and the occasional recorder solo (now there’s an instrument you
probably haven’t heard in a while… probably by design). As you might expect if you’ve read my
reviews before, I especially love the rough artefacts of the process that are left in: a creaking chair,
someone accidentally bumping a microphone, someone walking around the studio, a layer of
beautifully fizzing tape hiss. Aw man, gimme that stuff all day long. Tracks like “Alamout Black”
offer obliquely outlined Western-ish melodies that remind listeners of the concept that ties this all
together… but I’d guess that if you watched “A Fistful of Dollars” with “Grey Orders…” playing, the
combination of Clint Eastwood playing cowboy in sun-scorched Europe and Sandoz’ insectile
scratching and peals of feedback would blast an already several-times-removed enterprise into
another solar system. (HS)
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JOSH MASON – COQUINA DOSE (LP by Florabelle Records)

So far the US label Florabelle has brought releases in pairs, and now it is time for the third pair of
records, the first batch not to include label boss Ned Milligan. The cover continues the design of
handwritten words and pictures that partly blurred landscape ones. Images that fit the musical
aesthetic of the label, I should think. The musicians on these two new releases are all but one
new to me. First, there is the duo of Talya Cooper and John Atkinson. The first one was previously
of Household and the latter of Aa. Atkinson already had a release on Florabelle Records (see Vital
Weekly 1024), which was the soundtrack to a documentary ‘Asasin în Lege’. This new album is also
a film score, to ‘Two Plains A Fancy’, a film by Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn, which is apparently a
western. The album is not the score perse, but it takes elements of the score and the two created
something out of all these elements. In the download, there is also the music to the film, which is a
nice way of comparing the two. Cooper plays guitars and Atkinson synthesizer and processing.
The main difference between the LP and the download is the level of abstraction. In the strict
soundtrack pieces, the guitar plays a leading role, playing gentle, bluesy tunes, laidback, looking
over a vast empty plain. Atkinson cleverly adds a refined sense of space to the small tunes, which
are usually between one and three minutes. Sometimes these are a bit sketch like in approach,
which is perhaps exactly the sort of thing one expects from bits and pieces that can be used in the
montage of a film. Oddly some of these pieces are very abstract, just a hazy drone, such as
‘Geology Tour’, which brings me to the four pieces on the LP. Here the guitar is looped, expanded
and treated and fed through all sorts of manipulations. They might be analogue, but just as well
could also be digital. On the first side, there is the side long ‘Chillien’, spacing out all the way, with
some great sense of evening skies. The three pieces on the second side have a similar drone-like
appearance, in which in ‘Geologer’ I believe to recognize indeed some of those hazy drones from
‘Geology Tour’. It is perhaps not the most surprising new record of unheard music (but which is?)
but what is carved in these grooves is truly great stuff.
    On the other record, we find Josh Mason from Florida, whose home state is a source of
inspiration. The humidity of the area is surely one of the main inspirations. I couldn’t tell from
hearing the music, but Mason plays guitar and tape in the ten pieces on this record. He has had
releases before, on imprints such as Dauw, Desire Path, and Scissor Tail, which I haven’t heard
but I am told this work is no break with the past. The guitar notes Mason plays are careful, stretched
out, treated with a bit of reverb, delay and, so I would think, perhaps also some computer
treatments (at least it sounds like that). I could imagine Mason recording this onto a bunch of
recycled cassettes and in the process of playing these back to the computer for further treatments,
all the hiss that is captured along the way is taken along for the journey. It gives all of these pieces
an extra layer of rust, dirt or hiss, whatever you want to call it. Some of the pieces are strangely cut-
up, such as ‘Pelagic Scout Badge’, which sounds like a bunch of tapes stuck together, all dug up
from a wet basement in this warm state; time has not been gentle for these tapes, but if you love
hiss, and I surely am one to like that a lot, this is a great record. Whereas on the record by Cooper/
Atkinson the sound is ambient it is also expansive; Mason keeps it all very small and together.
Each of the pieces is a small, delicate piece of guitar sounds, plain and simple and a bunch of
treated versions thereof, always from a similar treatment. All of these minimal movements make t
his the perfect last record of the day; music to read the final page of your book, before going to
sleep. Also a great one; different none the less, great it is. (FdW)
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This is the third record I hear by this Kazakh composer (see also Vital Weekly 1042 and 1068) and
the title deals with our current problems with the climate and the Tengri, the eternal blue sky that is
part of shamanism in that part of the world. It is a political work, but with the music being all-
instrumental, it is also a message that is not rammed down. There are voices on this album, but they
are humming. Before we were lead to believe that everything was derived from piano sounds, but
this time there is no such claim. I would believe Yershova uses a bunch of traditional instruments,
stringed ones, percussion, and these are sampled and treated and played along with the use of
field recordings and further use of electronics. The previous touch of techno music is not far away
here, even when the overall picture of the music leans towards ambient. There is, but I might be
wrong, some mild Eastern influence in this music. Just the other day I was playing some old Jorge
Reyes records again and surprised that I still, despite not having heard them in a long time, knew
them quite well. I am reminded of Reyes, who was from Mexico, here again; Yershova has a
similar approach when to comes to blending ambient music, folk influences of music from her
homeland (I should being not an expert), while also using quite a bit of rhythm to spice the music
up. It is throughout quite melodic and rich music. Of the three releases by her so far, this one is the
most accomplished one; it is highly varied music, intense, thoughtful and richly orchestrated with
great, imaginative playing. (FdW)
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