Number 1214

OUXPO / DETERRITORIALIZATION (CD by Friforma/Inexhaustible) *
AXEL DÖRNER & TOMAZ GROM (CD by Zavod Sploh) *
SPK – ZAMIA LEHMANNI (CD/LP by Cold Spring) *
VERTONEN – PIANO MINIATURES (5x business card CDR by Ballast NVP) *
QUEST – (A) QUARTER (3”CDr by Taâlem) *
LOW EXPECTATIONS (cassette by Fourth Dimension Records)


In 2017, Matt Shoemaker passed away and yet somehow there is still new music from him to
be released, which is a good thing. Ferns already released the first instalment of Tropical
Amnesia (not reviewed in these pages), and maybe they had the second and third part from
Shoemaker, but not yet the resources to release it earlier. These two discs contain sounds
recorded in the Amazon area in Brazil in November 2007 and in December of that year and
January 2008 this has been used to create the two-hour works that span these discs. I couldn’t
tell if these works were made out of single events, or perhaps also with the help of loops; I assume
there has been sort of layering of sound events in both these pieces. It works in two different ways
here. ‘Tropical Amnesia Two’ is a rather straight forward work, once the ball gets rolling; from
there on it stays in a fairly loud and oppressing volume but throughout it changes and moves
through what I think is probably the whole range of animal life; insects, frogs, birds. In ‘Tropical
Amnesia Three’ there is a less straight forward approach and while the piece moves through
the same animal sounds, there is a different build-up, within one point birds leaping out of the
choir of cicadas and ending with something that is close by the microphone making a popping
sound, as if Shoemaker was close to the pond in a rowing boat. Towards the end of it all, there
is a sign of human life and perhaps also the best example of this being construction of organized
sound, rather than straightforward documentation of an event. This, I thought, was very delicate
work, even in all it’s considerable presence, volume-wise that is. It reminded me of the movie
‘Monos’ about the life of guerrilla’s in the Colombian rain forest and which I thought was one of
the best movies I saw this year. (FdW)
––– Address:


Winter-light as in a light form of winter, is perhaps what describes a current state of winter in
The Netherlands. Nothing freezes for a long time. It is a great name for a label dealing with some
dark ambient music; the soundtrack for dark days. Atomine Elektrine is the musical project of
Peter Anderson, who is also known as Raison D’Etre. To be honest, I heard from both of these
projects some music, but not a lot. I am no completist there. What I heard I liked, even despite the
somewhat gothic overtones. This new work is also available on a double LP, which I understand
to be different from the CD version; a slightly different mix and an extra piece. I only have the CD
here to review. As said I am not an expert on either pseudonym so I can’t say much about the
differences between them, nor the development of the music over the years. What I do know, is
that the music here is quite something different, beyond the realm of what one would call ‘dark
ambient’. I do believe that the passing of time is a firm element in this music and it shows via
ultra slow rhythmic/sequenced synthesizers, especially in ‘Epicyclic Gearing’. It could be the
synthesizer part of a Chain Reaction record and slowed down to 20 bpm. Around that there are
swirls of water-imitations and deep sighing sounds; all, so I assume, courtesy of synthesizers
(analogue or digital or both; I don’t know). It is dark and atmospheric music, yes, that surely is the
case, but somehow, somewhere I am thinking Atomine Elektrine takes the template of minimal
dance music completely apart, strips it down to the bare necessities and starts creating his mood
music from that synth line, that slowed down sequence, now spiced up with weird electronics
doing an imitation field recordings and have throughout quite the psychedelic atmosphere.
Everything moves, but not necessarily in a specific direction and that is quite good. It is music that
is, despite all the moving, best enjoyed in a state of total relaxation. I guess. One to be consumed
with something to drink or smoke and some incense (should one choose so) and let the music
move you like a slow, ancient space train through infinite black space. The perfect soundtrack to
space out in the dark days before light breaks. (FdW)
––– Address:


Irena Tomazin is a multi-disciplinary artist (dancer, choreographer, performer, vocalist, singer, 
improviser), based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Of her musical activity her solo project IT for voice
and Dictaphones is one of the most remarkable and starting points for further investigation into
the sound of the voice. Collaborations with improvisers like Tomaž Grom, Lee Patterson, Xavier
Charles, Tim Blechmann, Michael Zerang, Ilia Belorukov, and many others followed. For
Tomazin these explorations always have a very physical aspect, and connections with movement
and dance, etc. Her solo recording ‘Lump in the Throat’ is no exception to this. Here her radical
approach results in harsh, extravert and not always pleasant sounds and noises. Non-verbal
penetrating exclamations, that are closely related to the physical world. With her radical and
confronting research, she moves towards the physicality of the human body, instead of using the
voice for creating some ethereal world. Not an easy listening experience, but this clear-shaped
statement wouldn’t let you unmoved. Of the same abstract and confined concept is the beautiful
artwork: a booklet of black ink paintings by Amtej Stupica, in a design by Ajdin Bašić and with
Japanese binding by Petra Gosenca. (DM)
––– Address:


Kamilya Jubran is a Palestinian vocalist and oud player grew up in a musical family and was
from early on initiated in classical Arabic music. Since 2002 she works in Europe with Paris as
her base. Werner Hasler is a composer, ‘melody maker and sound seeker’ from Switzerland.
They are musical partners already for some time, and ’Wa’ is their third duo-effort. The first and
second release appeared in 2005 and 2010. They take long pauses. More recent Jubran
released to other duo works with French double bass player Sarah Murcia. Hasler is most known
for his ‘Out’-project: “an attempt to make the acoustic dimensions of a space audible” using
acoustic and electronics combined with environmental sounds. In his work with Jubran, he plays
trumpet and electronics, whereas Jubran sings and plays the oud. As is the case on this new
effort. Jubran sings with a clear and strong voice, bending her voice as ways we e know from
music from the Near East. The music is based on music from this area, embedded in abstract
sound textures of electronics and trumpet. I’m not aware of many experiments like this one,
where musical traditions of the Near East are connected with modern procedures from the west.
That makes this a very interesting release also because their exchange of ideas goes far beyond
the superficial level of many of these crossovers. They try to do something new resulting in
atmospheric music full of charming and fascinating moments. (DM)
––– Address:

OUXPO / DETERRITORIALIZATION (CD by Friforma/Inexhaustible)

Ouxpo is a Berlin-based quintet with an international line up. The leader is Greek guitarist
Anastasios Savvopoulos (guitar) and his companions are American trumpeter Brad Henkel,
Philipp Gropper (tenor saxophone) and Felix Henkelhausen (double bass) both from Germany
plus Slovenian drummer  Dré A.Hočevar. Savvopoulos workes from Berlin already for several
years. Earlier Savvopulos had a trio here of drummer Dimitris Christides and Peter Ehrwald (sax).
It started in 2012 and released two albums. Ouxpo is a very new combination that made its first
live appearance at Klub Gromka in Ljubljana on 19 September 2018. It is this concert that we
hear on this release, presented without any editing. We enjoy one long extended improvisation
divided into two parts of about 30 minutes each. Free-floating group improvisation with a sense
for melody that has all five players taking equally part in their interactions. During this hour
moments pass by where everything interlocks and the music lifts you, in contrast with parts
where the improvisation meanders a bit unnoticed forward. But that is not a problem and all in
the game when musicians decide to play the game of free improvisation without making any
decisions in advance. So we witness an adventurous journey into the unknown. (DM)
––– Address:


Tomaz Grom is a Slovenian double-bassist and an important exponent of the lively scene in
Ljubljana. He works a lot with local musicians but also with many musicians of the international
scene (Michel Doneda, Nate Wooley,  Marc Ribot, Doug Hammond, a.o.) and very recently with
ex-Fushitsusha drummer Seijiro Murayama. This time however he is in collaboration with
German trumpeter extraordinaire Axel Dörner,  known from many collaborations with many
musicians from all over the continent(Sven-Åke Johansson, Frank Gratkowski, etc.), as well as
Brittany and the US (Chicago). Both are experienced improvisers who enriched their
vocabulary etc, through many musical meetings. They met in May this year and did recordings
and concerts in Italy and Slovenia. Besides double bass, Grom also plays prepared speaker and
freeze (?). They make some forceful and pronounced statements, bolded in six improvisations.
By using varied extended techniques they create a wide spectrum of sounds, rich and deep
textures that unfold during an intensive exchange of ideas. All this makes sense because they
function within a very communicative and inspired interplay resulting in a very musical story.
Very lively and vibrant music! (DM)
––– Address:


Even though there must be hordes of nostalgic retro-lovers that will gladly wolf down this early
90s Wax Trax sample stuff, I’ve always felt that “Love’s Secret Domain was the ‘one’ Coil album
that had not aged well. Granted, the album features some classic Coil tracks and decent
contributions by e.g. Marc Almond, Rose McDowall and Annie Anxiety, but I’d say these tracks
rather ‘managed to remain Coil’ despite the whole erratic sample craze of the time. Odds are
that after reading those lines (or the following) there’s a shedload of people who’d happily toss
me into a dark river, but without Balance on vocals, it simply isn’t my Coil.
    Now “Stolen And Contaminated Songs” is an outtake album that originally came out on the
band’s own Threshold House label in ’92 and, like with many of their releases, had already been
reprinted unofficially a couple of times before 2019, when Cold Spring decided to do a proper
reissue. The label has previously released another Coil outtake album “Backwards”, the Nine
Inch Nails collaboration ‘Recoiled’ and “How to Destroy Angels”, so I suppose they somehow
have managed to obtain the rights to the Coil oeuvre, or at least part of it. Kudos, as I take it there
is still quite some demand and a lot of their releases are notoriously out of print.
    But then, as is always the question with reissues, how are we going to tackle this? Doing an
actual review of the material would be slightly anachronistic – one could point out its present-day
relevance at most, which in turn I would find hard to do as this is not a Coil classic. I think most
tracks are amongst 50 shades of okay – with some notable exceptions that still manage to
captivate like “Who’ll tell”, “Inkling”, “Nasa-Arab” and “Her Friends the Wolves” – but the film
sample snippets leave a lot of tracks dated. And as such, I think this album is an odd footnote
historically speaking, rather than one of the iconic achievements that made the band into the
legends they are today. For instance, “Futher” opens the album with a series of percussion loops,
rife with cut-up vocal samples, that are so wonkily sequenced that it makes one question whether
this is intended as a comment on sampling in some kind of artistic meta-manner, or that how it
bumbles about is somehow meant to be ironic. Questions that will most likely remain
 unanswered, but perhaps arise with a reissue of this sort. So is there relevance to it other than
to have it be available again?
    Another approach would be to review the edition itself, but because there’s presently no
physical copy present for me to scrutinise, this is also a tough call. In the end, I guess this is a
release issued for collectors, of which it is good that somebody does it (and of which it is best to
not be too critical about). Despite all of this, I’d say a must-have for Coil fans, especially since this
is the first time it appears on vinyl.
    And then another reissue: “Zamia Lehmanni – Songs Of Byzantine Flowers” by Australian
industrial originators SPK. After the album was originally released in 1986 by (their own) “Side
Effects”, it has seen a CD reissue on Mute’s renowned Grey Area sub-label in the early 90s –
which, to my knowledge, also added “The Doctrine of Eternal Ice” to the tracklist. Since this track
also features on this new edition by Cold Spring, I wonder if perhaps it’s better to assume that this
a reissue of the Grey Area reissue. I might be wrong there though and surely that is something
for people on Discogs to argue about. No doubt the message boards are already ablaze.
    Of course, the same question arises with this material; what is there to say about it? Though
historically I feel this one at least is a more interesting album to revisit. Stylistically speaking,
“Zamia Lehmanni” sees a continuation of some of the ritual/ethnic elements that “From Science
 to Ritual” already exhibited but takes it multiple steps further until it meanders between dense
dystopian jungles and neoclassical epics, the latter of which was almost as far away from
“Leichenschrei” as synth-pop album “Machine Age Voodoo” had been in ’84. If anything, it
seems to enter territory that later on became very much the domain of bands like Sixth Comm.
    Unlike the Coil album reviewed above, I’d say Zamia Lehmanni holds up pretty well as it
sidesteps the obvious stale cliché traps of the time (except perhaps the clumsy loop beating of
sampled pads and strings) and manages to hold its ground a lot better by comparison. Then,
again unlike the Coil album, it doesn’t feature any memorable stompers, but I suppose that is
not what you’d expect from these industrial shapeshifters.
    That said, “In Flagrante Delicto” is still a hauntingly beautiful piece that remains something
worth (re-) visiting in this day and age. The album was (apparently) remastered and housed in
a 6-panel digipak featuring new artwork and liner notes by Graeme Revell. Since I don’t have
access to a physical copy at this point either I can’t say if it’s worth the trouble, though undoubtedly
if you’re a collector, it certainly is. In the end, it was good to hear this one again. (Lucas den Warme)
––– Address:


I enjoy what Masami Akita does, but it’s been a long time since any new Merzbow album has
blown me away or taken me by surprise. For at least the past decade, his most exciting work has
been in collaboration with other artists. “Broken Landscapes” Merzbow’s second collaboration
with bass clarinetist Gareth Davis, an artist known primarily for improvised and contemporary
classical music (with Wandelweiser or Elliot Sharp or others like that), though he’s recorded
electro-acoustic music with folks like Machinefabriek and Aiden Baker as well. For the duration
of the album’s first track, “Dogger Bank”, everything is pitched at pretty much the same volume
and density. I can’t tell what Davis’ contributions are here, but maybe that doesn’t matter. In fact,
if Davis’ name wasn’t mentioned, you might not even think he was there at all. The track is eleven
minutes of throat-throttle noise with no ground to balance on. The second track, “Yabata Frog”,
pulls back for a relatively more restrained fuzz texture. This one isn’t a noise assault at all; it
crumbles and wheezes and croaks and chirps. The third and final track, “Inland Empire”, is even
more musical than what came before; there’s an almost dub bass throb subtly anchoring the
squiggling filigree and undulating tones. I don’t hear any bass clarinet, and compositionally it’s
what you’d expect from modern Merzbow. I’d be curious to know what Gareth Davis fans think
of this.
    Fani Konstantinidou’s album is terrific, and worth hearing straight away. It’s set up as a
sequence of two trilogies, giving the album an accessible pacing with a natural place to pause
in the middle. I like that. Soak up the first three tracks, go make another cup of tea, return for
another three tracks. Stemming from the composer’s interest in “cultural and social identities”
(an interest that I happen to share), the Konstntinidou’s music was inspired by both her family
home in Greece (where she found the accordion at the center of “Winter Trilogy”) and her current
residence in the Netherlands. The end result seems to have been shaped by live performances,
though they are studio creations. I say “shaped by live performances” because there’s a liquid
quality to all the music here, a lived-in warmth that has vitality to it, even as the music lingers in
humming drone. That accordion provides some hard-to-place tactile qualities to the first trilogy.
It’s almost as if we can hear air moving, a body pushing and pulling on an object to release
sonorities even as the music retains a floating stasis. The second trilogy, based on sound from a
synthesizer, is somewhat harsher and colder than the first. Rather than the mood of still
contemplation on “Winter Trilogy”, “The Big Fall” is anxious and spiky. Melodies elongated to test
their limits are hidden beneath the waves, twitchy and nearly unrecognizable. This is compelling
stuff, ideal for focused repeat listenings. (HS)
––– Address:


On the day before Christmas, when it’s all rainy, cold and grey, one is preparing for Christmas,
unless not slaving away at reviewing music, I have no particular routines. I am not a man for all
seasonal holidays. There might be the odd alternative Christmas CD on Les Disques Du
Crepuscule that I still enjoy, but above and beyond: no thanks. And yet, I was pleasantly surprised
to hear this record by the, for me unknown, Norwegian folk group Hornorkestret. They have a
bunch of releases in their twenty years of existence, none of which I heard, so this LP is my
introduction to their music. The backside of the cover shows the group posing with the instruments,
antlers with strings and I believe these instruments are named after the animal providing the
antler, including, how appropriate a reindeer. The music is throughout very folk-like and that’s
the thing I found most appealing and appropriate on a day like this. Instead of the normal digest
of drones and tones, here we have the sombre yet pleasant tones of what sounds like a joyous
mid-winter festival in the village. You have to dance to stay warm, but I assume this is not about
dancing that much. The press text refers to dances, such as waltzes, polonaise and even a quick
two-step, but just as well I can imagine people sitting down at the village bonfire enjoying a drink,
an expensive one no doubt in the cold Scandinavian winter. The strings are sawed and sing and
the percussion is quite tribal at times. Maybe there is a touch of gothic to it, a folk noir element,
but none of that was much in perhaps in the way of the end result. A most unlikely record to be
liked by me, and yet I do like it very much. (FdW)
––– Address:


This is the second and last of label spots, my mid-winter obsession of writing about something
old. This is about a Japanese label, Vanity Records, that existed between 1978 and 1982. This
autumn saw the release of three box sets, compiling a great deal of the label’s output. This was
an 11CD, 6CD and 2CD set. None of these is in front of me, as I was friendly given a copy. The
first time I heard about Vanity Records when Dutch magazine Vinyl devoted two pages to the
label in issue 9 (and yes, the three 7″s were reviewed in Vinyl 5, but that I didn’t register until
later). One page contained a review of the six cassettes on the label (now a stand-alone 6CD
set) and one was a general background piece. It took me to a decade before I heard any of
these, through the hard work of bloggers sharing the most obscure music around.
    The label was founded by Yuzuru Agi in 1978 and was an Osaka based journalist, writing
for Rock Magazine, who started his label to showcase all things post-punk, No New York and
electronic. From the article in Vinyl (I assume written by Oscar Smit, my favourite scribe from this
magazine; he was the man for all things cassettes and obscure labels), I understand that the
label was label part of of an organisation named YLEM, which was into releasing cassettes,
mainly by Merzbow, Perfect Mother, Tomo, Airyfarm and others (and surely deserves a box set
one day). The article lists a bunch of releases of which I doubt the existence; by John Cage and
something called Kiui Anti Muzik Series Vol. 1 -12′. Vanity Records was the record side of the
company, despite the presence of six cassettes. They released, besides the cassettes, three
7inch records, 11 LP’s and 12 Flexi discs. To start with the latter; none of these is part of these
box sets, which is a pity. Some of these are people that would still be a household name today,
such as Brian Eno, Die Krupps, Furious Pig, Gilbert/Lewis/AMC and Holger Czukay, but also
bands from labels such as Normal Brain, Morio Agata, Normal Brain and Tolerance. I would love
a CD release of these Flexi discs one day.
    The first box set contains eleven CDs and one would think these are the 11 LPs from the
label. This is 10 LPs and one disc with the 7″s; the 11th LP is a double LP and that is the 2CD
set. So what it is all about then, music-wise?The first 11 CD set is quite a mixed bag of musical
styles. In the left corner, we find Aunt Sally, which I thought is the most conventional record.
Almost pop/new wave-like, with a female voice. There is some post-punk influence surely
around here, but at times I was also reminded of The Shirts. Pop is perhaps also the influence
for Morio Agata, which, to be honest, I found the weakest album by the label. Especially those
songs with dramatic singing at the end of the record; some of the quirky up-tempo songs were
alright, but perhaps also silly. More ‘pop’ but now all electronic can be found on the album by
Normal Brain. They use a lot of vocoder and sound not unlike Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic
Orchestra, but not as complex. The long piece at the end (the B-side of the LP) is, however, a
much more experimental piece of music, no rhythm and all atmosphere. Also electronic is RNA
Organism, but already we move a bit towards the experiment, mixed with synth-pop tunes.
Radio waves are spliced together with a synthesizer, drum machines, with melody and
    Best kept secret from the label is Sympathy Nervous, who is perhaps the only one who kept
going for a much longer time. His mid 90’s CD ‘Electroid’ is still a personal favourite here and the
first time I heard something by a Vanity Records recording artist, even when it was more techno-
based. Some of the material on his 1980 foreshadows music that went to be popular much later;
think Pan Sonic and think Felix Kubin. None of this music has aged really and could easily be re-
issued by such ‘hip’ label rebranding the past as something new. There are also three tracks by
Sympathy Nervous on the CD compiling the three 7 inches, which means more pop-like tunes;
especially ‘Polaroid’ is a great piece, whereas the other two are interesting experiments. Mad
Tea Party has a more conventional instrumental set-up, but here the studio is used as an
instrument, whereas Perfect Mother reminded me of Pseudo Code.
    The two albums by Tolerance show an interesting progression from an experimental rock
unit (think No New York/Ultra) with the use of drums shifting towards a rhythm machine of the
next one. There are some highly obscured voices and tape experiments on that record, but also
the first, there are some very un-rock moments. BGM, which stands for Back Ground Music, is far
from something ambient and use quite a bit disco rhythms and guitars/bass, and along that
comes voices and sounds culminating in a sort of odd disco/dub/experiment; quite nice at that!.
Both Sab and Dada has four lengthy pieces to offer; Sab is the most ambient sounding record of
this lot, but it is also freaking out on a piano and guitar doodles. Nevertheless quite experimental
and relaxing. Dada is not dada, but a man and a guitar in a studio, spacing out. Quite conventional
in his soloing, but with a fine backdrop.
     The double CD set ‘Musik’ was back then a double LP and contains a selection of demo
tapes that were sent to Rock Magazine. Some of these made it to the six cassette set, and others
to other labels, the majority remain anonymous. There is some great music on this record. The
Japanese home-taping scene at it’s best, I would say and some of this easily stood the test of time
(just like that Sympathy Nervous LP), such as Kiiro Radical, Plazma Music, Invivo and Mr. There
is a lot of radical approaches here and this is a great set. It made me very sentimental and
nostalgic about the time past.
    The six cassettes released by Vanity Records got a pretty bad review in Vinyl 9, albeit by a
writer with little affinity for the more extreme nature of music (and a self-proclaimed left-wing racist
these days; when he was chief editor of Vinyl the magazine ended; Nuff said). Here we have the
all-round electronic music and cut-up collage voices by Salaried Man Club (think very early
OMD?), radical synth/noise/rhythm by Kiiro Radical (think Pan Sonic at times, but also sometimes
sillier), radio cut-up/synth collage by Den Sei Kwan, electronic meet the rock line-up in an
experimental post-punk for Invivo, which could have easily been a LP release, I should think.
Then there is the somewhat non-descript music of Wireless Sight; piano, metronome, and a
weeny bit of electronics; this is the home-taper experiment gone wrong (some of this ended up
a bit differently on the first LP by Tolerance) and finally, the most conventional rock line-up is
with Nishimaru Alimoti. Drums, guitar, bass and voice, this is something along the of krautrock
but recorded in the rehearsal space. It reminded me of Metabolist, but not as good.
    It might not be easy to get hold of these boxes, but the ‘Music’ 2CD set and the ‘Vanity Tapes’
6CD set will be on vinyl next year in a box set to be released by Vinyl On Demand. (FdW)
––– Address:

VERTONEN – PIANO MINIATURES (5x business card CDR by Ballast NVP)

It is of course pure coincidence that like last year I write about Vertonen in the last issue of the
year (yeah, I know it says ‘week 1′ in the header, but this surely before the new year; hell, it’ s
not even Christmas when I write this). Last year Blake Edwards’ Vertonen project offered a six
CDR set, now it’s two projects, a set of four 3″ CDRs (eighty minutes of music) and five business
card CDRs (you certainly don’t see a lot of these around anymore), spanning some twenty-five
minutes of music. Edwards that for the first the “conceptual angle/premise was: what sort of
response, specifically memory, can an aural fabrication of a non-existent place potentially
stimulate/facilitate?”. The locations on these discs do not exist as such but are made up of
various locations, seasons and events. It comes with a 52-page booklet with texts that “hover
around narrators who have allowed themselves, through mental or physical choices, to be
enveloped in bad environments – or wish to extricate themselves from said environments but
lack the full capacity to do so”. To be honest (is my middle name) I admit I didn’t understand
much of the written part of this package. All of these texts (no specific credits) seemed to be quite
depressing, about drug abuse, physical abuse, suicide or the intention to murder. It is therefore
not easy to see the relation with the recordings here. I may not even understand the concept.
From who is this response wanted? Edwards? The people who wrote the texts? The listener? I
have no idea. That said it is most likely ‘wrong’ to take the field recordings to face value and enjoy
them as four discs of field recordings, from different locations and seasons (etc.) superimposed
on each other. In each of these the development, if such a thing is indeed present, is quite slow
and on the second disc perhaps oddly a bit more musical. It seems as if Edwards added a bit of
processing on some of these files, some stretching of time and place, and that works quite well.
These sort of rather pure field recordings with a bit of treatment is not something we heard a lot in
his work so far and it is something that fits his work well. And all of that despite without
understanding much of it.
    You may be excused if the name Conlon Nancarrow doesn’t mean much. It may indicate
classical music is not your forte. Nancarrow is best remembered for works he composed for the
piano, and which were very hard to play, even for trained pianists. Therefore he started to
compose for the player piano, which is a self-playing piano “that operates the piano action via
programmed music recorded on perforated paper, or in rare instances, metallic rolls”. I can’t say
if Blake Edwards is a trained piano player or not, but one day he recorded the piano in his
parents’ house and took these recordings to the computer and worked them into five pieces
music, roughly about twenty-four minutes of music, spread over five business card CDRs. Having
flunked my piano lessons a long time ago I can likewise not say something sensible if these
piano pieces by Vertonen are impossible to play by one person on the piano. That was the
whole thing about Nancarrow and his player-piano; to compose pieces hard to play and with the
use of the computer it is possible to cut and paste such pieces as well, providing one stays in the
right key (I should think). Here too I have little knowledge. Vertonen created something here that
one could easily call ‘modern classical music’, and most likely ignoring the rules for such music,
which is a great thing. Having said that, I must also admit that this is not my cup of tea. It is
nervous, hectic piano playing, no processing and quite demanding to hear. It comes in a lovely
little plastic box and individual printed envelopes and looks, like all Ballast NVP releases,
great. (FdW)
––– Address:

QUEST – (A) QUARTER (3”CDr by Taâlem)

I’ve enjoyed the Belgian label Taâlem (which grew out of a previous label called Harmonie) ever
since their beginning in the late 90s They mainly put out 3”CDrs (a format that reminds me of
trading cards) of darkly atmospheric music marked by electro-acoustic disturbance. This current
batch is the label’s 129th, 130th and 131st release, which shows how prolific they’ve become.
The 20-minute limit of the format suits this stuff perfectly. Concise statements that leave me
wanting more, forcing me to return and listen more deeply. 
    The first disc is by the Italian artist Andrea Marutti, who used to run a label called Afe
Records and also records as Amon, Spiral, Never Known and Lips Vago. His latest 3” for Taâlem
is, as the title implies, a hallucinogenic drone that throws in some weird wrenches as it gets closer
to the end. Marutti works in the post-Lustmord “dark ambient” mode here, starting out with ominous
blankets with low throb and slow-motion watery threat. After several minutes, the curtains lift and
with cleansing light comes children talking and roughly-recorded scrape that seems like it jumped
in from a different record. It’s a neat tonal shift, one that continues into Marutti’s second track,
“Peter’s Psychedelic Breakfast”. That title is, of course, a nod towards Pink Floyd, though its
unclear who Peter is or what the Floyd connection is. This track is another drone, though lighter
in mood than the opener. The strangest part os the very end, in which the sound fades and
dissipates, leaving a coda of digital glitches as if someone accidentally bumped the microphone
or a cord went bad… and then abruptly hits an “off” switch. Weird.  
    “Organizing the Evidence” is the first release from Dutch duo Vance Orchestra in a rather
long time. They officially called it quits back in 2005, splitting into solo projects (ad)VANCE(d)
and The Dear Listeners. Apparently, they reunited in 2018 to record this short, strange mini-
album of roughly dissonant organ and synthesizer crawl with a seemingly live-in-one-go direct-
to-tape atmosphere. The whole mess is smeared with in-the-red production overload that
suggests an enervating instability, as if “…Evidence” might veer out of the players’ control into
chaotic noise at any moment. The Orchestra keeps their fried circuits reigned in for the most part,
but they don’t let up the pressure or implied threat of looming disaster. This EP might too grating
and irritating to be ambience or even drone music, though those elements are evident in Vance’s
DNA. If the group records more, I’ll be curious to hear where they go from here.
    The final 3” is by Vital’s own MVP (Most Vital Player), the great and powerful Oz behind the
Weekly curtain, Mr. Frans de Waard . This EP under the Quest banner is the most classically
“ambient” of the Taâlem batch, 22 minutes of arpeggiating synth flourishes and ear-friendly
electronic drones. As with much of de Waard’s current mode, “(A) Quarter)” has a very deliberate
pace, gliding patiently across it’s three sections. It opens with some cosmic bloops, drifts into a
center section of darker distant feedback peels and an arhythmic thrum, then returns triumphantly
to a Berlin-School-flavored finale of blissful analog filigree. If Modelbau is too noisy for you and
QST too pop, Quest’s “(A) Quarter” is a nicely accessible entry into Frans de Waard’s music. (HS)
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LOW EXPECTATIONS (cassette by Fourth Dimension Records)

Primarily the business of a record label is to sell records. How they do it is of course up to them.
Many of the labels whose releases I review simply put the music out there and hope that
someone will buy it, based, perhaps, on a review here and there. Other labels also ask
something from their artists, beyond the music to release, and that is the question: do you play
live? As they might argue, live promotion is a key element in the success of an artist and thus of
the label. Fourth Dimension is a label with a diverse roster of artists, which I would very loosely
describe as ranging from post-punk to noise, and never it has anything to do with field recordings,
laptops and electronics. Now and then there are events where the labels present a bunch of their
artists during a two-day event. And these events are celebrated by a compilation of sorts. The
previous was a double 7″ (see Vital Weekly 1153) and for an event last month the idea was to
do a double 10″, but for whatever reason reduced to a cassette. This features the talents of
Alternative TV, Micromelancolie (perhaps the electronics exception to the rule), Gad Whip, Sion
Orgon, Hand & Leg, Kleistwahr, Map71, Contrastate and Mahler Haze. It is a great showcase of
what these bands do and all of them had records out on Fourth Dimension in recent times (as far
as I can judge, that is). From the more post-punk work of Hand & Leg, Gad Whip and Alternative
TV, the drum and voice duo of Map71 towards the more controlled guitar noise of Kleistwhar and
Sion Orgon and all-out weirdness of Contrastate in what seems to be a more experimental outing
for them ending with Mahler Haze and Micromelancolie as their most experimental acts, with, fair
is fair, the latter ending oddly as crooner for all things dark and, dare I say it, glitchy. You may
have missed the event; you can try to get the souvenir release; even when that is limited to sixty
copies. And aspiring musicians: don’t bother to send your demo; the proprietor of this label
already knows what he wants. (FdW)
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Romain Perrot AKA Vomir, & Andrew Sharpley AKA Dummy Run, Mami Chan Band, Stock,
Hausen & Walkman, ӕ. Steep Gloss, “A DIY tape label for collaborative works of sound-art,
dada, abstract, conceptual, sinister, delirious, bewildering etc. from duos and upwards, one-offs,
ongoing projects, long-buried relics…” Tracks (“voice/ objects/ sounds – Romain Perrot – distort
mix and chewing up – Andrew Sharpley”) numbered I through IIIIIIIII, a tally mark, here not
celebrating the bone marks made in the Upper Palaeolithic, 35,000 years ago but the fire which
burnt down The Palace of Westminster, caused by workmen burning too many Tally Sticks
underneath the House of Lords on October 16th 1834, depicted by two paintings by J. M. W.
Turner, amongst others. (I now refer readers to the above quote. “Dada, abstract, conceptual,
sinister, delirious, bewildering”. Track one, therefore, is either a solemn Gregorian chant recorded
in the burnt-out shell of Notre Dame or shards of noise, human screams, duck and other bird calls,
and those noises you can make rubbing balloons, with a twist of electronica at the end. II Sounds,
interspersed with silence, like recordings of woodpeckers, railway carriage noises, furniture being
smashed up, someone using a hammer drill, aerosol, distorted pianos drums and guitar in an
echoey bar by someone drunk. Or is an interesting, and short lecture on the myth of global
warming given by Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers, one of the Brighton piers. III continues the
Global Warming debate by a track made of a speech by Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg,
in her native Greenlandic. Or begins with a synth swoop, a mains hum and someone sprays
painting bed springs. Or maybe its someone stream cleaning an old MS20 in a barn, where
Romain keeps a pet rattlesnake. A nice ending of the synths VCOs going in and out of unison.
IIII A sombre piece of digital blips and deep cleaning kitchen utensils, with drain pipe sounds,
swanny whistles etc. slowed, maybe at about halfway, then loaded onto a cart with a squeaky
axle and pushed through some factory by Yoda. Alternatively, it is the soundtrack of an old
Hans and Lotte Hass film about life in a coral reef. IIIII (resisting the urge to write V) Another
piece of processed field recordings, microsounds in some large space, the reverb of such is
found in all these pieces, as is enormous panning, detritus sounds, someone shaking an
aerosol, a lift door opens, muzak? Static, sounds of defecating zoo animals, definitely a Lion
played backwards, and Max Miller imitating a duck. VI is interesting as I’ve not yet listened to
it, I suspect it’s someone trying to repair a typewriter in a church, but no, its furniture smashing
and drones in a large room. Halfway through someone kicks the bucket, and then the whole
thing goes crazier. Meer geek. The Margaret Thatcher quote would have been interesting. 7
begins with either bongos or a ships engine room, maybe Cpt Haddock playing the Bongos
for Greta Tintin … in a ships engine room? It settles down to a rumble and the odd milk bottle
clink, perhaps some piano music? Russ Conway no doubt sans finger, still in the engine room.
Sans Snowy. It’s now getting musical in a ‘SPACEY’ way, 2001 the obelisk, or Cadbury’s flake.
Deep man, very deep. 1000 base 2, Perrot seems to be blowing something, very noisy, amplified
Rolex, (Andy’s fake), more rumble and another change halfway through everything speeded
up and pitched, 2001 again, some organ notes, digitally filtered hum, or maybe. 11 (base 8)
The rusty cart appears or a pulley, and some elephantine sounds, and rumble. Ah! the
soundtrack of American woman talking… its a mash-up. A sound collage, Un collage sonore
de la musique moderne… A bit of light opera is not here, a talking Minah bird is not here, a
speech of Robert Kennedy is not here… we have a drone Houston. And again at halfway it all
collapses into a quieter organ drone sans Leonard Cohen. Dix, Rapid scrambled stuff, music
concrete, music porridge, Genesis P-Orridge, little segments. Water, gargling, rustling… wind, f
ast rewind, fast forward. Chip chop. Chip Shop Rip-Stop Please stop. An ironic coda at the
end. And by the way, the illustration is not a pigeon, its a domestic rock dove, een binnenlandse
rotsduif, une colombe de roche domestique… (jliat)
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