Number 1194

Vital Weekly in the summer of 2019:

1195: 9 August
1196: 27 August

LLYN Y CWN – TWLL DU (CD by Cold Spring Records) *
SONOLOGYST – PHANTOMS (CD by Unexplained Sounds Group) *
ORPHAX – LIVE CIRCLES (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
REIZEN – DIFFERENT SPEEDS NO. 4 (CD by Edition Zeroso) *
  Bath) *
K. LEIMER – IRRATIONAL OVERCAST (LP by First Terrace Records) *
EUGENE CHADBOURNE/LÄRMSCHUTZ (split cassette by Faux Amis Records)
DAVE PHILLIPS/EMERGE (split cassette by Attenuation Circuit)
RRILL BELL – VAGABOND LAWS (cassette by Gertrude Tapes) *
HANDS TO – SCRINE (cassette by Notice Recordings) *
XUAN YE-CHIK WHITE – BREATH FRACTALS (cassette by Notice Recordings) *
ARC – MONUMENT (cassette by Eh? Records) *


That is, of course, a great acronym! Keith Rowe, Colin Potter and Phil Mouldycliff make up R.P.M.
They play a composition from the latter, who drew up the graphic score already in 1989, as a solo
piece to be performed by Keith Rowe. Back in 2002, he recorded the piece at Potters’ IC studio
(then housed in Preston), using along “ambient recordings taken from Circle Line Tube stations
made specifically for the project by Colin Potter”. The cover also mentions that they have performed
the piece as a trio, on several occasions. In the eight pieces, they follow the complete circuit of the
line, taking about fifty minutes and in each track, we hear sounds of the individual stations. I was
playing this last week a couple of times, but due to the intense heat, the music was barely audible
over the sound of the ventilator. Now that things have cooled down, a bit at least, it is easier to hear
them, but I still find the music relatively soft. I am not sure why that is if there is a reason for that at
all. It even seems as if the CD becomes gradually quieter, the longer the trip is. I might very well be
mistaken there, of course. We hear Rowe’s tabletop guitar and electronics do their crackle and buzz
act, which intertwines wonderfully with the field recordings. But, to be honest, we hear Rowe more in
the opening section ‘Metropolitan’ than in ‘West End’ (the final piece), unless, again, that is the idea
of the music. It is quite an interesting piece; it stays away from what we would assume is Potter’s
trademark and that is heavily processed drones (which he also does in his work with Mouldycliff)
and now they keep the ambient wide open with spacious recordings in which Rowe’s improvised
guitar finds its way very well. This is certainly nothing standard for Potter and Mouldycliff, but it
sheds an interesting new light on their work and Rowe is our guide here. You are in for a surprise
here! (FdW)
––– Address:

LLYN Y CWN – TWLL DU (CD by Cold Spring Records)

There is not much colour to be found on the covers of these new Cold Spring releases; a lot of
black and white for and with Common Eider, King Eider also red and gold. Both releases contain
music that I would not call summer festive tunes. Benjamin Ian Powell is the man behind Llyn Y
Cwn (I’m so glad I am not doing a spoken word podcast thing for this), which means ‘Lake Of The
Dogs’, a real place, at 715 m in the Glyder mountain range of Snowdonia. Powell is an electronics
technician, going on scientific research trips with Russian, British and Canadian icebreakers. It is
on board where he composes the music, armed with just a laptop and headphones. Otherwise, he
loves to stay in his camper van in the mountains. All of the stuff here is of Celtic origin and the fifty-
five minutes are filled with some damn fine dark ambient music. From the accompanying press text,
I learned that we should ‘file next to fellow Welshman Lustmord’ (I didn’t know Lustmord was from
Wales!) and that is very much a true thing. Llyn Y Cwn follows the path that Lustmord once set out
in the world of massive dark ambient in a very similar way. There is the slow cascading sound of
water, so I believe (but being on a ship, that is hardly a surprise, so I thought), which he then
manipulates in the laptop, stretching it out, adding reverb, emphasizing certain frequencies,
mostly in the lower range of course, and the sound of a piece falling off an iceberg becomes the
sound of a howling wolf. It is altogether pretty effective immersive music; play this loud and you
will have difficulty not drowning in the music. Llyn Y Cwn does a fine job here; it sounds well
produced (meaning there is also attention for detail; it is not just a massive sound) and is a fine
work. However, it is also not much news under the ambient sun, but I guess that’s not what we
are looking here for right now.
    I saw Common Eider, King Eider in concert a couple of years ago, which I enjoyed, regardless
of the ritualistic undercurrent. I guess I am not that much into the whole world dark moon rituals,
summer solstices and what have you. I love trees but don’t dance around them. Which means,
perhaps, that a sceptic (never cynic!) such as myself is probably not the right person to think
about the new release by B.S.s., as the man behind Common Eider, King Eider is called (also a
collaborator of Badgerlore/Six Organs Of Admittance), here in collaboration with Arexis (“La
Breiche, Coume Ouarnede, Stille Volk, Ihan”; quoting the information there, as none of these
names means much to me). The four pieces are ‘Sun .-. Fire’, ‘Breath .-. Wind’, ‘Blood .-. Water’
and ‘Bone .-. Soil’ and is recorded in the Pyrenees during some ritual. So, the music is all-live
and consists of live recordings, rock, antler, branches and voice. This is quite some weird piece.
It is, indeed, not the kind of music I easily dig or usually hear; perhaps, because it is such a
different world than the one I am living in. However, so I was thinking, there is something quite
captivating about this. It is music that leaves much room for the imagination. What the hell (excuse
le mot) is going on here? The electronics form long tones, not necessarily deep drones; it could
be a bow on a string, the slow rubbing of leaves… I don’t know. Then there is the crackling of
leaves, stones below feet, shuffling about, a bit of metal and the muffled voices, whispering,
breathing, murmuring; surely there are words, there is meaning, but you could abstractly regard
this; I did at least. Perhaps as the soundtrack to a folk horror tale, the final, very long scene, in
which the village comes together and says goodbye to… the enemy, season, gods, harvest… I
don’t know, but whatever folklore dictates and it is a scene shot in black and white and there is a
small fire to light it. Things happen in the dark but we cannot entirely see what is going on. That
kind of feeling is the vibe I get of this. Still, the next time I’m in the woods, I go by myself. The
Dutch woods aren’t that big. (FdW)
––– Address:

SONOLOGYST – PHANTOMS (CD by Unexplained Sounds Group)

The previous release by Raffaele Pezzella, also known as Sonologyst had “Silencers, usually
known as Men In Black” as a sort of theme (see Vital Weekly 1134). I’m not sure if there is an
overall thematic approach on ‘Phantoms’, other than some ghostly activity. Originally inspired by
modern classical composers (Stockhausen, Henry, Ferrari, Subotnick, Nono, Pousseur,
Parmegiani and Maderna), Sonologyst’s music has not much to do with that, certainly not on
this new one. The previous sounded a bit more improvised than before, with a violin playing an
important role, here the sound sources are “turntables, trumpet, azzax (which is an “electrified
cymbal that I play with wooden or Plexiglas sticks”), voice and sound design”. I recognized some
of the turntables already, with its crackling sounds, but it has not the meaning lead. Like before,
Sonologyst music has a great soundtrack-like quality to it, and this time it is the phantom in the
attic movie. The voice (by Pezzella? By others? I don’t know) doesn’t sing or speak, but it is rather
more along the lines of making sounds that have emotions; crying or shouting, but in a controlled
manner, and it is not featured in all pieces. The music has a sort of improvised feel to it, again, but
these recordings have been overlaid, edited, and are presented as collages of sound. In that way,
it owes to the world of musique concrete, perhaps also because of the vinyl used and what seems
to be field recordings, and less to the world of improvised music, as found on his previous release.
In these pieces, he offers quite some variety and in each of them, he explores the sounds in a fine
collage form. The music is not shy for a bit of noise here and there and it that respect owes to the
world of classic industrial music, but Sonologyst is capable of keep matters interesting and above
all varied. (FdW)
––– Address:

ORPHAX – LIVE CIRCLES (CD by Moving Furniture Records)

This you may find surprising; I must have seen at least 10 to 15 concerts by Orphax over the years
and I know Sietse van Erve as someone who prepares his music very well before playing a concert,
but I assumed that he always did a different thing in concert. So to my surprise, I read this on the
press text: “Circles is a work, or composition, that I have been performing live for a few years now in
various instances. I consider this work as a growing composition, which with every performance
grows in a new direction. There is no beginning and no end, and as such it can continue changing
over the years.” I didn’t know that. This CD is not a straightforward concert recording but a mix of
two concerts he did in the UK in March of this year. Here we have two concerts, two different
circumstances and two different moods for Van Erve. One night was rougher than the other; that
happens on the road and these circumstances are beyond the control of the players. It is not
something that one hears when listening to this thirty-five-minute piece. You can’t tell which
section was recorded where, but I can imagine a few bits in here that are very quiet and some
that are a bit louder and thus it is easy to see where what was recorded. In this piece Orphax
travels along many different roads, fading, so I assume, between various sections of his piece
and perhaps between various sections of recordings. Sometimes it seems these fades were
rather rapid in terms of drone music, but I might be wrong and it is intentional. I also assume
these recordings are a mix of line and microphone recordings, as they have great depth, like the
music resonating through the space it is played in. I gave up thinking about what is the best
Orphax ever; Van Erve produced many great ones already and this I could easily rank among
his best works also. (FdW)
––– Address:


The cover of this CD, a 7″ sized booklet, lists more names than just Nakamura; also Rhodri Davies,
Dafydd Roberts, Andrew Leslie Hooker and Angharad Davies. But I think it all revolves around
Nakamura and his visit to the Aberystwyth University, where he had a residency in the Department
of Theatre Film and Television Studies. Roberts took the opportunity and asked Nakamura if he
was interested in doing collaborative work, responding to the ceramic objects the university had.
There have been a bunch of concerts, which we find on this CD, well, parts of it, anyway. There
are three lengthy pieces, all with Nakamura; the first also with Roberts and Hooker (I assume, as
it is not really mentioned, playing modular synths), the second with Rhodri Davies on harp, and
the third Angharad Davies (violin) and Rhodri Davies (not sure if he’s on harp as the text mentions
‘processed electronic music). These seventy-three minutes contain quite some radical music, as
was to be expected with Nakamura, known for his work with the no-input mixer. I am not sure if his
guests try to out-noise Nakamura here but they surely are on an equal level with him here. There
is quite a lot of feedback sparkling about, with nasty high-end frequencies on board, but they also
goo deep in the range. Especially the long middle piece, the duo piece, is pretty radical. By
comparison, the last piece is an ocean of quietness and sparseness; with the violin playing the
role of counterpart to what the others are doing. Also on the first piece, we find some of that
sparseness, with Nakamura heavyweight no-input mixer against some of the lighter modular
tones, but none of these pieces is quiet. This is most certainly not a CD to play at full volume, all
in one go, so I thought, but maybe that is exactly what one should do. (FdW)
––– Address:

REIZEN – DIFFERENT SPEEDS NO. 4 (CD by Edition Zeroso)

Atsushi Reizen just uses his last name for his releases, and so far we only released one 12″ from
him, back in Vital Weekly 924. In the meantime, he toured a bit, had a few more releases and now
started a new label, Edition Zeroso, who also put on shows in Tokyo. His main concept is ‘different
speeds’. The first four were recorded between 2011 and 2012 (called ‘No. 0’ to ‘No. 3’) and now
there is number 4. It was inspired by two sounds, played on cassettes, which ran out of sync, thus
creating something not too dissimilar to the work of Steve Reich, and especially early Steve Reich.
Reizen was not aware of Reich’s music at the time of composing the first instalment of ‘Different
Speeds’. I have not heard all of the pieces; just ‘No. 2’, which appears on the previously released
12″. I am told that he now returns to the original with two sound sources, adding a third one later
on, and having them moving out of sync. It is, of course, an old idea, and a simple one as well, but
then who cares about that is old and simple? People still play the guitars (apparently). It is what
you do with such notions, and I must say Reizen does something very delicate in this twenty-nine-
minute piece of music. It has a very dry quality, a repeating sound, moving closer and then drifting
apart, and below the surface, there is a hiss-like drone, barely audible because those very dry,
very short organ (maybe!) pulse is there quite loud. I am wondering if Reizen wants us to play this
very loud or very quiet; I can’t figure out. I enjoyed it at the just the regular volume I always use, but
I can imagine some people would find that annoying. For me, that is just the way I like it. (FdW)
––– Address:


So far we have encountered Dave Clarkson mostly on solo releases, dealing with field recordings.
His work with, for instance, Alan Hampsall of Crispy Ambulance has not reached these shores.
Come to think of it, Spectral bazaar might be the first release where we see Clarkson working with
someone else. As a duo, they have been going since 2015. Clarkson is on synths and electronics
but also arrangements and production and Ruth Davies on cello, oboe, flute, treatments and
pedals. ‘The Planets’ is their first release, and while it’s not a cover or re-interpretation of Gustav
Holst’s piece of the same name, it uses the names of the same seven planets as in the original.
The Holst premiered in 1918 and is still widely regarded as one of the most popular pieces of
classical music. It helped that the subject are the planets and it can easily be used in any
documentary about the moon landing. This is an edition of 100 copies; each for a year passed
since the premiere of the Holst composition. “Each movement is intended to convey ideas and
emotions associated with the influence of the planets on the psyche”, said Holst, so Neptune is
the mystic, Saturn, the bringer of old age, Venus the bringer of peace, etc. These nine pieces
(‘Earth’ is a bonus track, and ‘Saturn Return’ too) show an excellent display of musicianship. Both
Clarkson and Davies have an excellent command of their instruments and bring out some
dramatic music. This is not your usual drone exercise here, some space is the place drone, but
a work in which the instruments of Davies are playful, melodic and orchestral, but set against the
electronics of Clarkson it all makes even more sense. He’s, of course, putting on delay and reverb
effects to create that cosmic touch that is also indebted to the world of modern electronics; say the
original score for ‘The Planet of The Apes’. But that melodic touch that Davies brings in is what
gives this a vibrant edge; I would think it is perhaps partly improvised. And the music follows the
score closely; ‘Jupiter: The Bringer Of Jollity’ is an almost acid techno experience but then laced
with flutes and treatments. This is lovely stuff; weird, musical and well produced. A different cosmic
trip! (FdW)
––– Address:


Ah, a minimax CD! I haven’t seen one of those in quite some time. And if you are wondering what it
is, a minimax CD is a CD with a small portion of music, usually, twenty-three minutes (but I know of
instances were they are thirty) and the rest of the disc is transparent, which give a great effect for
design. Elevator Bath goes to town with a fine digipack around it. It begs, of course, the question:
why not a proper full-length release? We aren’t told but for some reason, Colin Andrew Sheffield
and James Eck Rippie found their piece of enough interest to stand by itself. These two musicians
have been going for some time and in recent years have been working together quite a bit,
culminating in releases together. They use turntables, samples and processing. Earlier this week,
in a private conversation with a friend of mine I was complaining about turntablism, which is
something that I don’t care too much about. Mainly because of its rotating aspect, making a lot of
sounds the same; even if you decide to play sandpaper. In the case of Sheffield and Rippie, that
aspect is luckily not there. I would believe they pick up the sounds from the turntable and give it
the good twice over in the sampler and whatever else they use for processing (be it analogue or
digital) and the results are used in a nineteen-minute montage/collage of modern musique
concrete. It has that great vibrant feeling of things buzzing, sparkling and flying about, sometimes
staying in a place for a short time, sometimes a bit longer, but new elements are carried in, bashed
on their heads and before you know melted down in the microwave into a nasty drone. There is
quite a bit of dynamics in there, obviously, I would say as these men know their trade quite well,
and that begs the question again: why not a bit more? Please? (FdW)
––– Address:


A subject about I surely have very little knowledge of is that of bioacoustics; you know, where
biological events turn into sound. I know John Cage experimented with plants, Michael Prime
also, and I’m sure there is much more out there, but I have not much idea about that. Silva Datum
Musica is a duo of Tim Collins and Reiko Goto and together they created a ‘plant-driven
synthesizer’. It uses sensors and software “to generate real-time tree leaf data. Light, photo-
synthesis and transpiration modify sound: the rhythm, melody, texture, tempo and harmony shift
with atmospheric conditions and tree response – electronically”, which is a pretty cool idea.
Ideally, every plant sounds different, one would think. Here we have two different recordings, both
live. One side has four pieces, recorded in 2017 in Scotland and one long piece from Cologne in
2015. The four pieces are ‘Alder’, ‘Oak’, ‘Elderberry’ and ‘Birch’ and ‘Pear’ is on the other side. The
interesting thing is, but perhaps also sad to note, is that those four pieces sound kinda similar. I
have no idea if that is the trees, leaves or perhaps the software; basically, because I have very little
knowledge of how this software is supposed to work. Are there elements of sound in there that are
activated by the plants and as such maybe that’s why some of this sounds the same. It makes it,
perhaps, more the result of a scientific experiment, rather than some music that works as a stand-
alone thing, which is, I think, what this should boil down to. No matter how interesting it is to
translate the sound of leaves into music, one should also consider the fact that it is now ‘out there’,
on an LP, to enjoy. One doesn’t see or smell the plants, nor the machine to translate them, and
therefore it is a bit difficult to understand why these pieces sound relatively the same. The long
piece on the other side, curiously enough, sounds a bit different, although one can link both sides
together. The sheer minimalism of all of the pieces is, however, something I enjoyed very much
about this. It is slowly evolving and that is always a great thing! (FdW)
––– Address:

K. LEIMER – IRRATIONAL OVERCAST (LP by First Terrace Records)

It should surely be no secret that I quite enjoy the music of K. Leimer. Ever since discovering it, and
I think it was through my review companion Dolf Mulder in the late ’80s, I have been following his
moves and you can imagine that I am quite happy with the recent (well, last 10-15 years) of
releases, after some time of silence in the mid-’90s. This new album is his 20th solo release, since
1979. It is an album of ambient music, but that is something that was to be expected. Leimer is,
after all, a composer of ambient music. Here, however, he seems to be in a rather melancholically
mood. Using acoustic sounds, piano mostly, but also percussion I would think, bass, and field
recordings, he paints rather autumnal pictures of grey skies, damp ground and mist. It has, so
Leimer explains, to do with the world we live in. Instrumental music such as the one he composes
will not change the world, and he’s right of course, and so he shows us photographs documenting
American petrochemical landscapes on the cover and a text about the current state of affairs,
environmental as well as political. But mostly the state of the environment (and those in current
charge of the state of the country) and the music Leimer produces sounds like a threnody for the
slowly dying environment, complete with sounds from that environment. I have no idea if Leimer
taped some ‘dirty’ places, soiled earth or such like, but sometimes I thought it sounded like that, or
perhaps I am hearing too much in this. The hiss in ‘Song For The State’, is that the decay made
audible or the erosion of democracy made audible? It is all introspective music, melodic, even
with a bit of rhythm here and there (in “Lament To The Open Air’), varied and highly political. I am
afraid that it won’t change the current climate, sad as it is, but Leimer produced some great music.
As a bonus, there is a very limited cassette with two long pieces, in which Leimer reaches even
further intimacy. I am sure it will be hard to locate a copy of that by now, but it is worth your try. (FdW)
––– Address:


First we have music with some real, honest emotion. Sweeney is not to be confused by the 70’s
TV series but it is Jason Sweeney, from Australia, who returns with a second release for this label.
The first one was under the name of Panoptique Electrical (see Vital Weekly 1049), a work for
piano and electronics. Other names he uses, and still not heard by me, are Other People’s
Children and Simpatico, or with other musicians in such projects as Sweet William, School Of Two,
Luxury Gap and Par Avion and others. Now he adds Sweeney to that list and this it is piano, a tiny
bit of electronics and lots of voice; one voice, his voice to be precise, which sings these very
emotional songs. It reminds me of whatever little I heard from Thom Yorke, not as falsetto, but as
heartfelt. Which sounds all-great, as Sweeney knows what he’s doing here. As you may know, I
don’t care much for lyrics (never did, never will), nor for much drama. This is surely a great release,
alas nothing for me though. I am sure I’m a minority there, with just a world weird view.
    Will Bolton has been many times in these pages, I would think. He has a label, Boltfish
Recordings, works as Cheju, and plays with musicians such as Ashler, Le Moors, Anzio Green,
The Ashes Of Piemonte, Wil & Tarl, Biotron Shelf and many more. His work can be found on
Home Normal, Hibernate Recordings, Eilean Records, Dronarivm, Dauw and, again, many more.
Here he has five lengthy pieces of music, of which the field recordings were taped in Hong Kong in
2016 and the music from 2016 to 2018. Here he plays guitar and synthesizers, both of which he
feeds through effect pedals and there is also a bit of laptop processing. That’s what he did in the
past, that’s what he does and it is something he does very well. The music is without commitment,
without direction, without many compositions, and you might think those words make negative
qualifications, but you are wrong. I see it as something positive, even when it can also be a
negative thing. Bolton is somebody whose music is long meandering about. Outside music, like
he is sitting on a street, doodling on his guitar and recording the traffic noise as well. All of this is,
of course, not true. Bolton sits inside and probably first reviews his set of field recording, before
starting to think what kind music goes along with that. A bit of guitar here, some more guitar over
there, field recordings being a bit on the abstract side, lower or higher in the mix. All of those
considerations are part of the method choosing by Bolton. Composing is surely a word that
applies here such a method, even when in executing a piece, Bolton drifts slow and peacefully
through his warm guitar tones and sparse synthesizer sounds; which, by the way, hardly sound
like a synthesizer. In ‘Crossing’ it is probably the clearest. This is a beautiful, consistent release
by Bolton. I am sure he’s going with this style for some time to come. (FdW)
––– Address:

EUGENE CHADBOURNE/LÄRMSCHUTZ (split cassette by Faux Amis Records)

For whatever reason, this is not (yet?) on the Bandcamp of the label, so I might have missed out
on some information. Eugene Chadbourne is a lovely guy. I met him a couple of times (recounted
in a book, out there somewhere) and he’s a great improviser, although there is no relation there;
he’s not a lovely because he’s a great improviser or vice versa. I once saw a concert on a Sunday
afternoon in student club here in town, and he played an amplified rake. The guitar is the main
instrument, though. I haven’t kept up with all of his releases; au contraire, I may have only a little bit
of it. Here, on the eighth volume of Lärmschutz’s split cassettes, we find mister Chadbourne in the
backyard with an acoustic guitar. The birds sing along with the master, plucking his strings, in his
usual wild, wild way, but who is this time in a rather contemplative mood. Sparser than what I am
used to hearing from him, but that’s good.
    It seems to me that Lärmschutz took Chadbourne’s acoustic approach for a similar response by
them. I didn’t hear the trombone here, but more guitars and drums. All of this in a recording that
sounds like has been made in a basement, with the band’s usual direct approach in full galore. It is
not the same sort of introspection that is on display as with Chadbourne on the other side, as the
band is, as to be expected, with three members a bit louder and they work their way through this
adventurous free ride of music. Their anarchistic side is in full (un-) swing here. The tape cuts
abruptly as if it were too short, but that adds to their wackiness, I guess. Who’s next? (FdW)
––– Address:

DAVE PHILLIPS/EMERGE (split cassette by Attenuation Circuit)

As far as I know, I could believe that people such as Dave Philips and Emerge are on a constant
tour schedule, and a lot of times they tour together. Looking at the social media accounts of
Emerge, he is always en route to the next gig. Of course, that might not be true. It is all a matter of
perception I guess. To celebrate their travels together, and no doubt to have a little souvenir to sell,
there is this split cassette. The cover is sadly hard to read, but online I found that Phillips calls one
side ‘De-Anthropo-Centralise’, which is almost twelve minutes of textbook Phillips music. Loud
amplified acoustic sounds, cut into irregular loops or rather repeated blocks; it’s percussive, but
again nothing regular, of heavily charged bangs and there are slurred voices/vocals. A very
consistent, great piece of music; it is dark and full of tension. Emerge has two parts of ‘Affluence’,
which one could also call trademark pieces of what Emerge does these days. He samples a few
sounds, water and metal fence would be my best guess in this case, which he loops, stretches
and granulates into some fine Tietchens’ like musique concrete, but Emerge does his take on the
material, making it louder, perhaps being under the influence of Phillips? This is a fine document,
or a souvenir, or just another release; whichever you think fits this. I would recommend this to
newbies to these musicians. (FdW)
––– Address:

RRILL BELL – VAGABOND LAWS (cassette by Gertrude Tapes)

This is, as far as I can see, the debut release of Rrill Bell, based in Berlin, but finding a home in
Omaha, Nebraska. Behind it is one Jim Campbell, who has been experimenting with cassettes for
two decades, putting stuff to cassette, and also he’s active in the world of concerts. He uses various
Walkman machines, a modified Fostex analogue multi-tracker and lots of those cassettes. You can
find some of his concerts on YouTube, which I surely recommend watching. We see the Fostex
machine in the middle and Rrill Bell putting in a tape and then fiddling about with the speed knob a
lot. He slows it down, speeds it up. Because there are, potentially, four individual tracks, he can use
volume control for each of them in the mix; he could also take any regular cassette of the shelf and
then the B-side will be heard in reverse (sorry if this gets a bit technical). His music is the result of
improvisation and it surely leads to some interesting results. There are no individual tracks on this
cassette, so perhaps each side is just one track? I regarded them as such. Throughout these thirty
minutes, Rrill Bell works with various points of interest. On the first side, there is mostly quickly
moving sounds that give us the idea of reel-to-reel machines being manipulated, until in the
second half it slows down a bit and there is room for individual sound events with bell-like sounds.
On the other side, things start with a less rapid and dramatic change of things, a bit drone-like, but
slowly opening up with slowed down sounds (percussion, so I was thinking), making this is quite
an introspective piece, a sort of opposite of the busier music on the first side; no titles for tracks or
information otherwise; obviously, as these are these days with cassette releases, but don’t let that
keep you away from this. (FdW)
––– Address:

HANDS TO – SCRINE (cassette by Notice Recordings)
XUAN YE-CHIK WHITE – BREATH FRACTALS (cassette by Notice Recordings)

“Tapes like this [‘Scrine’ by Hands To] are of the reasons we initiated Notice Recordings back in
2009″, and now the re-issue of ‘Scrine’ is their 50th release. I found that statement a bit odd, as I
have Notice Recordings down in my book as a serious label of modern improvised music, modern
classical music and just a little bit of experimental music. Jeph Jerman’s Hands To project dates
back to the ’80s and has very little to do with his more recent work. I was a big fan of Hands To at
the time, and I am sure I had the original edition of ‘Scrine’, which came out on Harsh Reality
Music, back then. What attracted me to Hands To was the noisiness that was minimal and maybe
with very lo-fi means; at least that’s how it sounded to me. It didn’t work with the usual Nazi
speeches or porn scenes, which was also a great thing. Later on, I learned that Jerman used field
recordings and abusing his Walkman machines to generate his sounds. On the insert, we read
about ‘tossing tape decks off buildings or putting them inside running clothes dryers”. For the B-
side Jerman made use of the infamous anti-record ‘metastasis’ by Andrew Smith (look for an image
online). As much as I was a fan back in the late ’80s, I haven’t been playing many Hands To music
in the past years; too many other things to hear I guess. But listening to ‘Scrine’ today I must say, it’s
all coming back to me. I see myself sitting in my old room in my parents’ house, opening mailers
(I exchanged tapes with Harsh Reality Music a lot, and we re-used the same mailer all the time
until it was worn) and listening to music like this all day, while ‘studying’. It still sounds great, well,
better than before probably, as I remember some of those Hands To being just a bit too loudly
dubbed; these days it is very well no longer a manual process. There is quite a bit of variation in
there, with musique concrete elements, crude and raw, mixed with some noisier outbursts, but
Hands To keeps it all under control. Over the years there have been more re-issues and maybe
now it’s time to do his complete catalogue? I am not sure if a bitrate of 192 (instead of 16, 24 or 92)
is necessary; it is noise music, after all, we are listening too. I didn’t hear the difference between
192 and 16 bit.
    The other new release by Notice Recordings is by Xuan Ye and Chik White. Behind the latter
name, we find Darcy Spidle from Nova Scotia and who plays the jaw harp. He had two releases
on Notice Recordings before, of which one was reviewed in Vital Weekly 1083. I don’t think I heard
of Xuan ye, who is “video and aural performance, somatics, computer programming, engaging
acoustic instruments, voice, field recordings and strangled frequencies”. Now, this is, as said, more
like we would expect from Notice and by no means that is the same as ‘I know what to get here’, but
when I was playing this, I was thinking that the minimalist, raw improvised sounds fit the label
aesthetics very well.  I am not sure how to ‘read’ the credits here, but it seems some of these pieces
are solo, and some of these are they together. It contains some very direct recordings, in which the
location where the music is performed plays an important role. It also means that these pieces are
from various locations and years. It is some radical music, with some intense frequencies, such as
in ‘Crane’, field recordings, voice manipulations and the jaw harp sounding I haven’t heard a lot
before. It is altogether not a very long release, but it is quite intense altogether. Somewhere
between field recordings and a very private document. This a damn fine release. (FdW)
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ARC – MONUMENT (cassette by Eh? Records)

I am not too fond of mystery releases. There is just not a lot to write about the background of those
things. Or perhaps it is record-breaking heat of today that prevents me from any clear thinking that
made it impossible to solve the riddle on the cover. If, of course, there is any riddle on the cover of
this release. I have no idea who or what Arc is or are, except that it is a musical project from
Oakland. They (he, she) play drone music and no matter how hard I try to think about it, I have no
idea how they produce these drones. They could be generated electronically, say with a modular
synthesizer set-up, but just as much it could be that there are bunch of tape-loops of someone
blowing on bottles, cut together in such a way that they make drones; a bit like Phill Niblock would
do, except that Arc chooses for a shorter time frame with these pieces. Or, maybe it is safer to say,
there is some more variety in, moving through various textures. It could also that these drones
were generated using acoustic instruments, and I am thinking of double bass, cello, wind
instruments or such like, which were then in some way altered. Again, the obvious choice would
be, some sort of pitching (down of course), looping and/or editing. But it could also be software-
based or via a modular synthesizer. This is some fine stuff that lasts about thirty-six minutes and
then the B-side has the same music, perhaps urging the listener to leave it on repeat for some
time; I wouldn’t have minded something different by Arc, as I very much enjoyed what I heard here,
even though, as said, it all remains quite a mystery. Maybe this is just not one of those days to
think, but just sit back and listen to something beautiful and Arc surely does provide some great
drone music. (FdW)
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