Number 1211

  (CD by Nakama Records) *
NAO – ARCANA (CD by Shhpuma) *
TÆT MUSIC – ICER (CD by Truthtable) *
FOVEA HEX – THE SALT GARDEN III (10″/CDEP by Janet Records/Headphone Dust/Die Stadt) *
KONRAD KRAFT – OVAL (LP by Auf Abwegen) *
ELS VANDEWEYER – DEBUT (LP by 90% Wasser) *
  RESPONSE TO THE WORLD  (double CDR by Chocolate Monk) *
RYOKO AKAMA & ANNE-F JACQUES – EVAPORATION (cassette by Notice Recordings) *
  Recordings) *
RNL – CONQUERING KING KONG (cassette by Vonconflon)


One of the more pleasant events of 2017 was the release of a new CD by O Yuki Conjugate. More
or less new that is, as it contained material from 1994-95, reworked by core members Andrew
Hulme and Roger Horberry. On a related pleasant event note, I saw them play live (twice!), some
thirty years after I saw them for the first time. They were back in what is now their fourth incarnation
and whatever sporadic presence they had in the past, it seems that they are now back to be around
for some time, enjoying the re-discovery by a younger generation or the come-back for old fans like
me. Since 2017 they played twenty-four concerts in nine European countries, all of which were
recorded and they form the basis of this new release. We can regard this as the first new release
in ten years when they celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary (see Vital Weekly 717). In their
current form, O Yuki Conjugate uses keyboards, guitars, samples, rhythms and laptop, along with
a film as a backdrop that contains also text. A question you might ask me could be this one; ‘since
you are someone who has been listening to this band for such a long period and with so much
enthusiasm, how would you describe the sound of this group?’ I suppose I don’t get away with ‘they
are all over the place’ and ‘they are unique’, as both aren’t true. O Yuki Conjugate is an ambient
band so a lot of the music deals with textures; played on a synthesizer, with deep washes (pads is
what I believe they call them), tinkling guitars, some field recordings, some voices and a fine dash
of rhythm to go along. This rhythm can be a simple pulsating beat as in ‘Beyond Control 4’, but
also something that one could describe as a bit of cut and paste of more exotic rhythms in
‘Forgotten Summer’, but then slow and peaceful. There is always room for a big of an experiment
in O Yuki Conjugate, sidestepping the easy pitfalls of new age music. In the closing piece, ‘First
Human Sun’, the rhythm is going up and it becomes a more tribalistic dance affair, yet it remains
very minimal. It is, however, quite hypnotic. What I noted about this album and something that I
enjoyed quite a bit, is the rawness of the music. I have no idea how much of this is a straight ‘live’
recording, or to what extent these recordings have been processed/altered/edited, but there is a
pleasant raw character to be noted in this CD that worked for me very well. I would call this a
direct approach that provides the ambient with a rough edge that I miss in so many other current
releases. That does make O Yuki Conjugate unique? Not really. This album adds to a small,
versatile discography that only consists of excellent works and this one is no exception. The
booklet shows texts and images as such in the film and rounds off the package in a great way.
Let’s hope for many more! (FdW)
––– Address:

 (CD by Nakama Records)

Two members of ÄIO, a group formed by Katariin Raska in 2012 and of which Christian Meaas
Svendsen is also a member. The latter plays the double bass and is the head honcho of Nakama
Records. Raska plays the soprano saxophone, Jew’s harp and the Estonian bagpipe, called the
torupill. The two pieces on this release are quite the opposite pieces. ‘Melting With Butterflies’ is a
heavy twist of sounds. It seems to me that shed used all the instruments she plays at the same
time; it’s chaos yet also strangely repetitive; the cover, however, proofs me wrong. It lists only the
torupill as the instrument for Raska; in fact for both pieces. Svendsen’s contribution sounds a bit
obscured here. It is very hard for me to tell what he does with his instruments, perhaps nothing
else than producing very short, very dry sounds on the side of the bass with a bow; it shares the
hectic as outlined by Raska. It sounds like a bunch of monkeys gone wild in the jungle. It is a very
detailed piece with lots of stuff happening. ‘The Way the Mountains Make Love’ is at nineteen
minutes five minutes longer than the first and here the double bass has the lead, I think. The bow
across the strings makes a very low-end drone that goes up and down as the bow is across the
strings. I would think that Raska adds to this the circular breathing for the torupill (if that is a thing
for this instrument, that is), and together they double up the tension in this piece. No wild jungle
calls here, but an intense acoustic drone spacing out further and further as the piece evolves. It is
not the big surprise here, which is for me the other piece, but it is a very fine power drone. (FdW)
––– Address:


Steidle is a German drummer and improviser based in Berlin since 2001. He is involved in
numerous projects, like Die Dicken Finger, a grindcore-inspired trio wit Olaf Rupp and Jan
Roder, his quartet Soko Steidle with Rudi Mahall among others and also participating in Der
Rote Bereich, Quartett HDRS, etc. Killing Popes is founded by Steidle and has following members:
Frank Möbus (guitar), Dan Nicholls (keyboards), Kit Downes (keyboards) and Phil Donkin (bass).
There are guest appearances in some tracks by Andreas Schaerer (vocals), Philipp Gropper
(saxophone), Petter Eldh (bass), Kalle Kalima (guitar) and additional backing vocals by Louise
Boer and Liv Nicholls. Except for one track, Steidle composed all tracks together with Swedish
bassist Peter Eldh. Many influences can be traced in their dynamic and explosive cocktail: jazz,
punk, hip hop, grindcore, rock, etc. But that is one thing. The question is of course and what do
they brew from these ingredients? Well, they offer a very playful set of music that is very intelligently
put together. Very cleverly done and with humour! Their performance is very tight and all members
impress with their virtuosity and skills. Grooving sections change direction in an instant for a
melody-dominated intersection, and vice versa. These zapping manoeuvres make you feel
constantly jumping from one to another beat, speeding up, slowing down, stylistic changes, etc.
Their interplay is impressive and exciting. An overwhelming cascade of twists and cuts make this
a never-ending experience of eclectic madness. Sometimes a bit over the top and missing the
point, like the theatrical vocals in Schaerer in ‘Speed Junky on funny human Darts’. Recorded
September 2017 in Berlin. (DM)
––– Address:


Renaud-Gabriel Pion is a French composer, multi-instrumentalist (bass, contrabass clarinet,
Turkish clarinet, saxophones, bass flute, English horn, electronic woodwind, piano, real-time
electronics) and improviser. He is classically trained but also self-taught in many aspects. As a
composer he has several albums out since 2001. As a performer, he is a member of minimalist
jazz-trio Solaris. With Arnaud Fournier, he makes up the noise duo Atonalists, etc. With ‘Spiritus’
he presents his latest composition, performed by his Ensemble 1529. This ensemble includes
13 players (Michel Massot, Bill Frisell, among others) playing electric guitar, tubas, cello, marimba,
trumpet, drums and diverse reeds played by him. It is an album of accessible chamber music.
Accessibility or simplicity is exactly the theme or subject of Pion for this project. He wanted to play
with simplicity resulting in a composition that is accessible for the listener and easy to perform for
the performer. Indeed it is. It is no coincidence perhaps that because of this focus the music is
pastoral and harmonious. Atmospheric and warm music that reminded me of old work by Hector
Zazou with whom Pion has worked by the way.
    Expect no strange twists and turns or whatever. No battles or strongly contrasting movements.
Instead, the music makes the impression of one giant perpetual mobile, compiled of tracks that
evolve identically. It is only Frisell who adds some punctuated and aggressive underlining. And
‘Art in Vain’ is the only track that features vocals: countertenor – and specialist in early music –
Sebastien Fournier. The title ‘Spiritus’ gives way religious associations and connotations what
makes it related to many other ’under-composed’ spiritual music. But there is more to it. Because
of the consequent minimalism, two things can happen. It can become a very irritating affair, or
eventually, it brings you in some pleasant reflective mood. That’s what happened to me. (DM)
––– Address:

NAO – ARCANA (CD by Shhpuma)

With Nao, we are in the company of a new trio of Portuguese musicians seeking for new
experimental adventures: Alexandre Vaz (keyboards, tenor saxophone, guitar), Joao Silva
(synths, drums machine) and Vasco Marques (bass, synth). I couldn’t trace much about their
musical whereabouts. Vasques played in the metal-band Procyon in the 80s and 90s. Joao
Silva, we find on a few improvisation recordings with Ernesto Rodrigues, Guilherme Rodrigues,
Carlos Santos, among others. As Nao, they present their debut album, released by Shhpuma.
The synth-dominated outfit recorded one 52-minute work, called ‘Arcana’ for their album. It is one
long extended spacey, free rock improv-jam. Their playing is not so much inspired by jazz
standards and skills, but far more from a rock and DIY-attitude. They create thick and massive
layers of sound, that dwell around at a slow pace, creating dark atmospheres. Their textures and
soundscapes are worthwhile and sometimes really intense and captivating, but musically spoken
I missed substance and focus. (DM)
––– Address:


Oddly Imploded is an Italian duo of Francesco Gregoretti (drums) and Maurizio Argenziano (guitar).
Naples-born Argenziano started at the end of the 90s with postpunk band Missselfdestrrruction,
followed by A Spirale a few years later. More and more he became involved in projects of
improvised experimental noise music. Francesco Gregoretti is a jazz drummer and member of
Architeuthis Rex, Many Others, and One Starving Day. Both Argenziano and Gregoretti are
participating in Grizzly Imploded, Strongly Imploded and Oddly Imploded. Both musicians are
new to me. From what I read Gregoretti is a drummer who is into exploring sound possibilities
from his drum kit. Argenziano is an explorer with a similar focus. They make a good team and
deliver excellent work with their debut ‘They just sit about’. Argenziano is a very expressive guitar
player and puts everything he has to say in bolded and concentrated short statements and
gestures. Gregoretti plays in an intriguing non-rhythmic style. Their inventive dialogues offer a
fascinating play of noise and impro ingredients. Not captivating from start to finish, but their
thought-over radical approach surely makes sense and is very worthwhile! (DM)
––– Address:


You would think that, with all my knowledge of the work of Tietchens (one of those composers I
may be posses almost all of their work), I would recognize things fairly easy. I don’t. Within that
large body of work, I have some blind spots, albums that I never played a lot. ‘Monoposto’, you
guessed it already, is such an album. I have no idea why that is. I got it when it came out, the
original picture disc version, and back then I didn’t get it into and then in the later only sparsely
played it again. Now, in 2019, I may even have a fresh look at it, not having heard this in years.
CV Liquidsky stood for Cabaret Voltaire Liquid Sky and was a name used by Andreas Hoffmann.
Like Tietchens he was from Hamburg and a musician, designer and journalist. He was one half of
the duo Cinema Vérité, who produced several interesting tapes in the ’80s. I recall these tapes to
be quite electronic. When Tietchens and Hoffmann went into the studio in 1988 he played the
guitar. The idea was to record and mix one piece in the space of single night, and as such some
these pieces are at times unpolished and not as refined as some of Tietchens other works. That
was not what I had against this album, I think. Now that I am hearing it again, I have no idea why I
didn’t like it. It is certainly not the best Tietchens collaboration ever, that much I know. The guitar is
treated with sound effects and looped around and Tietchens uses a rather industrial form of
looping sounds here; the jackhammer approach of industrial music as it were, and in each of the
thirteen pieces there is minimal development to be noted. By changing the numbers of delay and
reverb units, the sounds start shifting back and forth, without any changes of the original input. It is
something that Tietchens did more in the ’80s; ‘Stupor Mundi’ springs to mind and it is with that
album that this one shares its aesthetic; greyish and monotonous yet with subtle changes. Yet it is
also an album of humour, a refined sense of melodic form and a cover of a Neil Young song, here
called ‘Aus Heiterem Himmel’. Sometimes the guitar treatments reminded me of Dome, when they
use mainly guitars and loops and not many other sounds, especially in a song such as ‘Der
Appelbeker Kreis’. Sadly, Hoffman died in 1998. It is great to see this released again, now more
appreciated than before. (FdW)
––– Address:


Depending from which angle you arrive at this, John Tilbury might be best known for his
involvement with Scratch Orchestra and AMM or as a performer of modern classical
compositions by John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff and others. Here he performs a
piece by Cornelius Cardew (co-member of Scratch Orchestra and AMM), who died in 1981 and
whose work as composer includes a variety of pieces that are instructions or graphics, which
leaves much room for interpretation. ‘The Tiger’s Mind’ is such a work, in two parts, ‘Daypiece’
and ‘Nightpiece’. Here Tilbury only performs the latter, and it is almost one hour long. It was
recorded in the cathedral of Bern, and Tilbury uses, next to the grand piano, also pre-recorded
sounds of fire, water, and birds and “various unidentifiable sounds”. Throughout these fifty-seven
minutes, Tilbury takes us on a wide trip that involves sounds from the piano; sometimes played on
the keyboard, but sometimes also on the strings, the board or the body. I didn’t recognize the pre-
recorded sounds that well, but I thought they were in there; they seem to have slipped by. Using
the wide space of the cathedral means there is quite a bit of natural reverb. Sometimes the piano
sounds close by and dry, but sometimes also far away, like a shadow on a mighty wall. Veering
between what I call (disrespectfully perhaps, I am aware of that) ‘regular modern classical music’,
with sparse notes, odd moves, frenetic and some wilder explorations of the piano as an object,
something in which Tilbury has been a pioneer. It is these segments of wild experimentation that I
love best. That said, it is throughout a wild and sparse disc of music and there is much to explore,
enjoy and excitement. (FdW)
––– Address:

TÆT MUSIC – ICER (CD by Truthtable)

The label Truthtable hails from Sheffield and “came in existence as a home for the latest analogue
adventures in sound. The label name and circuit style logo is a homage to the truth tables found in
analogue electronic instruments”. These two releases by Tæt Music are both from 2019 and
behind that name, we find Vladislav Green from St Petersburg. He was a member of Ned Hoper,
an “experimental post-rock band”. he was the guitarist but on the bands’ last album he switched to
working “with the Kyma system by Symbolic Sound”, which seems to be software in combination
with hardware (I am not that clever to understand what it is or does), but it lead him to work with
Eurorack modules and he has a whole bunch of these. I assume but could be wrong, that all of the
tracks on both albums were recorded in the same period, and (spoiler alert) there is not a lot of
difference between both albums. Sequencers and rhythms drive many of these pieces, along with
quite a bit of deep pads on the synthesizers. It is music that is related to techno but not always it is
about a very strict four to the floor beat. This is not music that sets out to dance, I would think. It is
also not an album of pop-like proportions. Throughout Tæt Music is on the dark side of things, with
chords firmly rooted in minor and not jubilant major chords. This is in total some 100 minutes of
music, which is a bit much to take in at once, but then: why not? I was playing this in the background
first, doing some work around the house, then sat down with tea and a book and in the final stage,
playing it again, I was actively listening and found it very time quite engaging. But perhaps the
active listening was something that learned that it was all a bit much and some variation would
have been most welcome. But perhaps that is not the intention of the music anyway? (FdW)
––– Address:

FOVEA HEX – THE SALT GARDEN III (10”/CD by Janet Records/Headphone Dust/Die Stadt)

There is some sadness as this is the final EP by Fovea Hex in this series. It is, as before, available
as a 10″, a CD and a limited edition with a remix, this time (like the first) by Steven Wilson, who is
also in tow here as the man behind the label Headphone Dust. By now you know that the central
position in Fovea Hex is taken by vocalist Clodagh Simonds, shows career goes back to the early
seventies when she sang on Mike Oldfield records (‘Hergest Ridge’ and ‘Ommadawn’). In Fovea
Hex she has a project that combines her power folk-like voice with some of the best from the world
of ambient music, such as Michael Begg, Colin Potter, Cora Venus Lunny and Kate Ellis and now
special guests Guido Zen, and the Medazza and Dote Moss choirs. The eerie ambience, created
from electronics and such, which form a warm web of drones, hazy and vague, but with the support
of strings and a harmonium it is also orchestral and powerful and then there is the voice of Simonds,
eerily beautiful. Like before I am reminded of many things that we use to find on 4AD and this time it
was mostly Dead Can Dance, but perhaps more in the voice of Simonds than the music; no
percussion or wind instruments here. Music for the misty day today is; preferable locked in a
remote English castle or around a campfire to keep the ghosts away. Maybe it is a spell to cast
safety for the listeners. Beautiful. Should we expect a full-length release with all three EPs?
Something certainly to be desired.
           The remixes are by Steven Wilson, the man who is best known for his rock music, but since
many years has a firm interest in drones, ambient and even noise. Usually as Bass Communion,
but here as Steven Wilson. He effectively rips the first and last song of the EP, ‘The Land’s Alight’
apart and it becomes ‘Is Lanza Light & Given’ and adding more electronics or via processing them,
brings out more shimmering ambience and suddenly, out nowhere, in from somewhere comes
Simonds voices, but now even more remotely away, like being on a cloud, just above the music.
Not as a powerful as on the EP, but now more like a fairy tale. It is likewise misty and vague, and
as haunting at the original. This is followed by four shorter pieces (making the album forty-eight
minutes in total; surely one could think about a stand-alone LP re-issue of this), in which Wilson
repeats that process, with sparser means. A few sounds are spun around and Simonds voice in
‘Given’ and ‘Lanza’ are no longer sampled into obscurity but are as crisp and clear as on the
original. If Fovea Hex needs another member to provide them with some ambient material, I’d
say they should enlist mister Wilson to pull it off. (FdW)
––– Address:

KONRAD KRAFT – OVAL (LP by Auf Abwegen)

There is a possibility of starting this review with the words ‘here’s a name I haven’t heard in a long
time’ or ‘with regular yet slow clockwork, Konrad Kraft delivers a new release’. I think for variation
sake I go with ‘it’s great to see Auf Abwegen doing the third release by this musician from
Düsseldorf and it shows some of the label’s confidence in his work. In these days of musicians
hopping from label to label, it sounds great to have a home for your music”. The two previous
releases were ‘Temporary Audiosculptures And Artefacts’ (Vital Weekly 787) and ‘Quadrat’ (Vital
Weekly 1056). I would think Kraft (real name: Detlef Funder) is an early adapter of modular
synthesizers. Over the years his music seems to have slowed and calmed down; perhaps less
‘industrial’, even if it never really was and more ‘ambient’, which surely on this new it is. On his
previous record, Kraft still had some of that old ’70s and 80’s synthesizer sound, Conrad Schnitzler
and Asmus Tietchens, but on this new album, he takes an even more ambient route with six
mellow constructions in sound. I understand that at the basis of this there are field recordings that
he feeds through two software synths and a modular synthesizer. Whatever these field recordings
were, I have no idea; only ‘Oval 3’ seemed to me to be using the sound of birds. The music is such
a nature that we are left in the dark with that respect. There is some cloud over this music of
shimmering tones, dusty drones and foggy sounds. It is all very atmospheric and moody as you
might expect, yet it is also with a fine melodic touch, like the minimalist piano in ‘Oval 2’. On this
new record, Konrad Kraft connects also musically with the current modular synthesizer posse,
with some highly delicate, very moody ambient music. The experimental side is not ignored and
Konrad Kraft uses it all very wisely. (FdW)
––– Address:


So, what can one do? Ignore them? Or review them? Two of these three releases are already from
2016, so perhaps not the newest of releases; maybe 90%Wasser had some overstock that
deserved some promotion? I don’t know. Reviewing these doesn’t mean that your favourite rag is
now open for all releases you forgot to send from recent years; it signals a quiet week in a month
that usually doesn’t see many new releases.
           Column One is no doubt for me one of the stranger groups I know. On Discogs the group is
described, as “The crucial point in the work of Column One is to bring back into consciousness
communication in its unavoidable consequence & presence. … thus, it’s about decoding
information, the utilisation, cutting up & decoding of that which is presented to us as Reality & of
what we constantly present to ourselves. To succeed in this decoding process Column One
utilises the existing forms of communication & its media & generally considers everything as raw
material, basic element or even finished product. The philosophical ideas of Radical
Constructivism, the paths of the Cut-Up demonstrators & Dada Fascists have had a greater
influence on the foundation and the work of Column One.” Here we have a record that, for me
at least, doesn’t decode any information; rather the opposite. It contains recordings “during
rehearsals for ENTROPIUM at Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Berlin, March 23, 2012, Celebrated
& recorded in one take | No overdubs” and the more curious one-liner “Column One were
Zeitkratzer”. What does that mean? My best guess is that Column One is in the same room as
Zeitkratzer and much of the first side is taken up by some far-away voices, some silence and an
occasional crack on a drum. Towards the end, someone starts to play the trombone, as warming
up (?) and that continues well into side B until we hear some voices again; yet, we can not hear
what these voices say. Towards the end, more members start adding music and dialogue. Is it
music? Is that a relevant question? What is it about? I have no idea? Do I like it? The word is not
out yet.
           Column One member and label boss Jürgen Eckloff has a solo record that could easily raise
such questions as well, but for all I know it is less conceptual; however, I am not sure about that.
The recordings on this LP are not very recent. Side A was recorded from 1998 to 2004 in a bunch
of places, Ückeritz, Morgenitz, Sogndal, Etzin and Berlin and in 2010 it was edited into the form it
now has, as one piece on this LP. The other side has recordings from 2013 to 2015 made in
Liverpool, Berlin, Innsbruck, Graz and Zernikow and was mixed in 2015. This side is divided into
six parts. It is not easy to understand what is going on. On the first side, we hear several field
recordings, water, some acoustic rumbling (paper being rustled, perhaps?), which sounds close
by and something that falls towards a floor but then recorded from some distance. There might be
a few others. None of this seems to be loops of any kind (again: not sure) and there seems little
repetition throughout this, which makes up the quite fascinating listening experience. It is all very
quiet and peaceful, without the tension that silence also can have. In the six pieces on the other
side, there is a more acoustic feeling to it. It sounds like a collection of recordings of various
objects and surfaces; the title does not shed more light; ‘Röhrenfett’, which Google translates as
‘tube-fat’, four parts of ‘Mörtel’ (‘mortar’) and one that is called ‘Jazz’. There is quite some similarity
within these pieces to be noted; it is not difficult to see the connection there, perhaps with the
notable exception of ‘Jazz’, which starts of with the sound of squeaking door, which seems to
continue but at a certain point I thought it was also an interesting interaction with a clarinet. Not
jazz, perhaps, but an excellent piece of improvisation meeting electro-acoustic music. This is an
excellent record, all around.
           And then, finally, we arrive in the here and now, with the LP by Els Vandeweyer, who plays
solo vibraphone. The music was recorded at Berlin’s KM28, a lovely space for new music
(according to those in the know, ‘Berlin’s hottest place for this kind of music’) earlier this year and
then mixed later on. I would not have minded seeing how Vandeweyer plays her music. The
sound of the vibraphone is surely something that we hear on this record, warm as it usually is. But
I would think she also does something else, and since I haven’t seen the concert I have no idea if
and what kind of electronics are used here, but somehow I think there is. Maybe a bit of delay?
There is in ‘Betonplaten Straat’ also totally different sounds to be noted, perhaps from a tape or
so to which the vibraphone is added. I have no idea but it sounds like a wonderful piece of electro-
acoustic music. In ‘Exhibition’, the long piece on the second side (the only other here is
‘Preparation’, which is a field recording of preparing for the concert), she seems to be adding
objects to the vibraphone and it becomes a percussive piece of vibraphone and objects; the
drumming becomes a bit more mechanical and metallic but throughout it is a very pleasing piece.
Her tempos don’t seem to be very strict, rattling her through the material quite freely. There is a
light proposition in this music, improvised, free and spacious, even when there is quite a bit of
sound to be heard. Towards the end there is a bit with the bow, ringing out overtones. ‘A.O.M.’ on
the other side is, by comparison, a formal vibraphone piece of music. This is a great showcase of
what she can do on this instrument, extended techniques as well as a more formal approach on
the instrument and throughout an excellent LP. (FdW)
––– Address:


As I have noted before the solo CD by an improvising musician can often be seen as a business
card. “This is what I do”, sort of thing. I don’t think I heard of Sean Hamilton before. He’s drummer
and percussion player, who recorded in February this year in Florida this CD of twelve relatively,
short pieces. In his past work, he says he’s both a composer and improviser and composed for
“solo instruments, chamber ensembles, electroacoustic mediums, and fixed media”, and is also a
lecturer on these subjects. According to the cover, his interests are “contemporary classical music,
free improvisation, noise, sound art, and electroacoustic music”. In these twelve pieces, ranging
from one to six minutes, the drum kit is the most important instrument and he uses his sticks to hit
the skins. Additional percussion, so he says, that can be both traditional and found, is placed upon
the drums for further explorations. He also uses a vuvuzela, but only sparsely, so it seems to me.
Throughout these pieces there is quite a variation to be noted; from a wild rolling around on toms,
bass and snares, to more thoughtful quieter work and pieces with quite some sound but then
sounding sparser; each of the sounds has a firm place in the overall spectrum and there is great
detail throughout all of these pieces. As these sorts of things go, I think this is a pretty good
business card. So if you are into playing improvised music and open for new experiences with
playing with other people, then consider Sean Hamilton if you are in his neck of the woods. (FdW)
––– Address:

 RESPONSE TO THE WORLD (double CDR by Chocolate Monk)

Don’t let the fact that my name appears on the cover make you think that I am biased about it. I
didn’t know anything about until it was all done. Stelzer uses a cast of people that (unwillingly?)
contributed sounds to this; Peter Hope (words and singing), Jason talbot (turntable), Richard
Youngs (words and singing), Le Quan Nin (percussion), Jesse Kudler (piano) and a bit of Casio
by your humble narrator. Stelzer himself takes credit for “tapes and some singing”. The remarkable
thing here being, of course, the various parts that include ‘singing’, as that is not something one
associate with the music of Howard Stelzer. Somehow using his voice is something that fascinates
him for some time, even when he feels he’s well qualified to do so. Stelzer had a dream arriving at
a concert with no equipment and started singing and did something in real life when he performed
a Richard Youngs song with vocals during a concert (and somewhere to be found on these discs).
However, Stelzer being Stelzer, this album is mostly about his use of cassettes. By now he must
have quite a library full of them, with sounds he recorded in odd locations. These are not just field
recordings, but also recordings from other locations that he plays back in a new location, using the
specific acoustic of that new location. These sounds can be voices as well. So spread across these
two discs, 8 tracks in total (and some of these are up to twenty minutes) we hear voices, and these
voices can be altered in the same way Stelzer usually alters his sounds, but they can also be
singing, however strange, alien and far away they might be. There is also spoken word (on ‘Chaos
Is Handsome And Attractive And More Durable Than Regret’ for instance and it is all a fascinating
run of pieces. Rusty sounds of metallic objects upon concrete floors, the humming of machines, the
wind and rain outside the empty building, where sounds reverb through the hallway, a ventilation
shaft with electrical wiring and buzzing faulty lines in the kitchen, or a multi-layered recording of a
trillion ‘happy’ TV sounds; this is not a traditional singer-song album, and that’s what I didn’t expect
Stelzer to do. Not just yet. I would not be surprised if one day he would slowly try his hands at that.
This is surely one of his best albums to date; in terms of what we know and with a few surprising
new ideas. (FdW)
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RYOKO AKAMA & ANNE-F JACQUES – EVAPORATION (cassette by Notice Recordings)

First, we have a cassette with two live recordings, made by Anne-F Jacques and Ryoko Akama,
when they did a tour in the USA in 2018. Both women have a reputation for moving along the lines
of improvised music and sound art, all of which usually in a very minimal way. Two small pictures
included in the package show us part of their set-up which they use in their concert/performance
and which is described as “occasional action-gestures over a whisper-bed of electronics, activated
objects, along with Jacques’ “contraptions and erratic devices” (a stated interest), which interject a
variety of odd rhythms and sounds. When performing live, Akama and Jacques move fluidly across
the room, stopping at various “object stations”, engaged with playful intensity”. I have no idea if
these two twenty-one-minute pieces have been edited in some way or if this is a straightforward
recording, as is, but it sounds very interesting, even when you don’t see the actual action. That is
something to regret, I am fully aware of that, as I am sure the action was visually interesting.
Hearing just the audio part of it leaves more to ponder over, even looking at the same photos.
These are objects, brushes, paperclips and such, moved around with small motors and this leads
to repeated sound action. This action is minimal, surely, but not static, as perhaps the use of
motors would imply. It moves, shakes and a bell is struck now and then; nothing is on a strict
repeated, while all the sounds remain the same and yet, also not. Configurations of these sounds
change, sometimes move to the front, something else disappears altogether, and there is a very
fine vibrancy to be noted within these two pieces. It is very direct, as if one is standing in the middle
of all the action, sounds being there, left and right, of brushes on the floor, bells ringing and some
that even after repeated listening, I still have no idea about.
           The other new release by Notice Recordings is something of a more ‘traditional’ improvised
music nature and a live recording of cello player Fred Lonberg-Holm, percussionist Be Bennett
and ‘multi-instrumental improviser’ Zoots Houston. Houston and Lonberg-Holm moved from
Chicago to Kingston (NY), but this was recorded in the former hometown, at Elastic Arts. This is a
long release, close to eighty minutes and not easy to digest all at once; at least not for me. First, I
got through the first side all right but felt exhausted after that to continue on the second side, so the
next time that’s where I started (of course, the medium of cassette helps in that respect). The six
pieces are energetic bursts of controlled as well as chaotic excursions on the instruments that they
brought along for this concert. You may recognize the drums fairly easily, the cello most of the
times but whatever it is that is played by Houston remains something of a mystery to me. The small
photo inside the cassette box didn’t shed much more light. It could be more strings, but just as it
could be wind instruments or something electronic. Even in their ‘quiet’ moments, there is a lot of
sonic information, which requires quite the attention of the listener. Here too we deal with a direct
live to tape recording, which adds to the massiveness of the whole thing. At times it seems quite
distorted, such as in the first piece on the second side; like there is some dust captured on tape as
well. This is free improvisation, sometimes leaning towards free jazz (second piece on the second
side) and a great delight to hear; within reason or parts. With some editing I think it could have
gained a bit more strength; now it’s very long and mostly good documentation of the event. (FdW)
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RNL – CONQUERING KING KONG (cassette by Vonconflon)

One Jesse Farber is the man behind RNL and he started this in the early 1990s, and “it initially
focussed on tape experiments, collage flyers, and performative actions”. It wasn’t considered as
‘art’ by those involved and none of the recordings was shared outside the group of people, some
which never met. Now, in 2019, they release their first cassette. It is not told why nothing was
released was before. It is said that it is “woven together from a massive archive of tapes”, “out of
location recordings, found sounds, private performances, private performances and endless
analogue and digital manipulation”. That is, I guess, quite a good description of what one hears
on this tape. It goes a bit all of the place with all sorts of manipulations and results. Time stretching
drones, processed sounds of rain and synthesizers, percussive banging on fences and radiator
pipe and spacious drones. The first side is thirty-one minutes long and separated into various
segments, each with its character. From mild ambient to wild ambience; from random percussion
to a bit with a rhythm machine (I could try to figure the names of individual segments on the cover,
but I fear the failure). At times I was reminded of Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis ‘Mzui’ project; it
shared a similar ‘art sound in art space’ feeling of random bits versus structure (through the use of
loops). On the other side we find the short  ‘Interregnuum’ and the thirteen-minute piece ‘Chopping
Every Finger Off’, which somehow sounded less live and more studio. I preferred the long piece on
the first side, which seemed to me to have a better flow. I didn’t quite get why the second side was
only used for about a half the length; one would assume the group would have plenty of
recordings? What I heard made me curious to hear some more. (FdW)
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