Number 1230

DANIEL THOMPSON – FINCH (CD by A New Wave Of Jazz) *
TECH RIDERS – OF THE LOST ARK (cassette by Ikuisuus) *
TECH RIDERS – DOUBLE FACTORIAL (double 3” CDR by Sleep FUSE/Reverb Worship) *
MARK VERNON – PAPER GESTURES (CDR by Glistening Examples) *
LEO OKAGAWA – ULYSSES (CDR by Glistening Examples) *
PJS – PRECIPICE (cassette by Cosmic Winnetou) *
OBERLIN – GRAUER MORGEN UNGEWISSE BILDER (cassette by Cosmic Winnetou) *
TRISTAN MAGNETIQUE – 2 (two cassettes by Cosmic Winnetou) *
KRUSLET FEAT. THONN DHØSE (cassette by Blowpipe Records) *
ZIEK – INSECTS (cassette by Blowpipe Records) *
ZIEK – TECHNOLOGY (cassette by Blowpipe Records) *


When the mail delivered eight new releases by Belgium’s A New Wave Of Jazz label, I sighed and tried to make some order for review. I am sure I won’t go through all of these in one long listening session, homeward bound because of an intelligent lock-down or otherwise. I decided for this approach; let’s start with the three releases that have no involvement of Dirk Serries whatsoever (other than the man with money to pay for the releases). I started with what is also the only release by a solo player, Daniel Thompson on acoustic guitar. It contains music recorded in a studio called the Sunny Side Inc. Studio on August 9th 2019, surely one of those hot days of the previous European summer. Previously, I heard Thompson’s music as part of a duo with Colin Webster (Vital Weekly 1198) on the same label, which I quite enjoyed and this one is along similar lines. Playing improvised music on an acoustic guitar goes back a long way, to Derek Bailey and many others (seeing Olaf Rupp playing one was a personal highlight for me) and Thompson does a great job. He plays short phrases and repeats them for a while, allowing for small changes in them. Within a piece he can switch to other techniques or even picks up a bow, scratching and bending strings, but his playing does not seem to the extent to going all nervous and hectic string abuse (like a kid would uncontrolled go up and down the strings). Thompson keeps his playing refined, delicate and, above all, controlled. Not necessarily his playing is always quiet, even when an element of introspection seems to be running through all of these pieces (the fifth being twelve seconds long, and more like studio left-over sound), but some delicate force is never far away.
           I easily admit I don’t know much about Jürg Frey, the Swiss composer, other than he is a member of the Wandelweiser group of composers. What I do know is that his music is very quiet, almost like non-existing and I had to turn up the volume quite a bit here to hear anything at all. According to the liner notes the four pieces are connected even when they are quite different, both in composing and performing. Two pieces are from installations and are performed by Frey alone. In ‘Paysage D’Echos’ he plays harmonica, melodica and piano and in ‘Equilibre Fragile’ bird pipes. The latter piece is so extremely silent that I had to turn up the volume a lot and yes, there are bird pipes and even more silence. I liked the other one better, in which the notes are sustained on the harmonica and melodica, while the piano plays sparse notes. Somehow this sounds like a very sorrowful piece of music. Frey using a computer, which I somehow found remarkable, played all instruments on both of them. The other two pieces are ‘Streichtrio’, for violin, viola and violoncello and ‘Eyot’ for piano. In the trio piece, it seems as if the three instruments are barely touched upon. They are, you can hear that, but almost with some hesitation, it seems, and always followed by a bit of silence. I am not sure if I would say the same of the piano piece. There are intervals with silence here too, but not so much the hesitant approach to the keys, I think. The cover explains that all of these pieces can be regarded as ‘static’, without much direction or journey and that’s why they appear on a CD together. It is quiet and it’s static and it’s surely quite beautiful. Best enjoyed by letting it all just happen as it rolls along.
           Just in case you wonder what ‘jazz’ means in the label name you need to check out the album by Andrew Cheetham (drums and percussion) and Alan Wilkinson (alto and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet and voice). I had not heard of them before, but as I am probably not someone who is too heavily into free jazz and also not averse to it either. It is something I would normally leave to our resident free jazz reviewer, but as I was playing this, I sort of kept listening and ‘dug it’. One of the things I like about free jazz is the intense energy it can have and that is certainly something that happens in these four pieces, lasting some fifty-five minutes. Both instruments are played as they should be, no instrument-as-object approach here, and it is mainly about playing as many notes as possible and that happens almost all the time, but they know to control the music, keep it quieter and just as you get used it, they decide to go up again and before you know it is all about chaos again. This is some intense music. It is an album that left me quite tired after I heard it at considerable volume. It is energetic music that will cost you some energy to hear it all. (FdW)
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TECH RIDERS – OF THE LOST ARK (cassette by Ikuisuus)
TECH RIDERS – DOUBLE FACTORIAL (double 3” CDR by Sleep FUSE/Reverb Worship)

This week sees three new titles featuring Mister Vital himself, Frans de Waard, in two different electro-acoustic duo situations. On “Various Weights”, he is paired with Martijn Comes, and then the other two are by Tech Riders, aka de Waard and Sindre Bjerga.
Comes has plenty of other work available, including previous releases on Moving Furniture, but “Various Weights” is my first time experiencing his music. It is also the result of Comes’ first recorded collaboration with de Waard, though I hope there are plans for them to continue. The concept was simple and classic: both artists simply supplied each other with source sounds and composed with them. Frans’ composition, “There Are No Two Pianos”, is as lovely as anything he’s done… and I do mean lovely, as in pleasing without an undercurrent of grit, grime or noise. The only recognizable trace of Modelbau is the generally deliberate pacing, which works in favour of the steadily undulating & repetitive tones (slow pianos? bowed cymbals? fluttering analogue synths?), shifting ever-so-subtly from one texture to the next but lingering in one sonic area long enough for a listener to sink into it and track different sonic lines or zone out and let the whole thing wash over like waves. Some radio sounds (static, undistinguishable words) begin and end the piece, while the middle is a vast drone expanse like a warm hug. Comes’ piece is round and full sounding like an orchestra. The clarity and depth of the component sounds are striking, with some tones resembling a chorus of bassoons and others a flock of crying sea birds. Both pieces compliment each other well, making it seem not so much like two halves of collaboration but a full album, one complete thought. Early buyers also get a bonus disc of de Waard and Comes performing a live concert, which sounds more formative and fractured, more discernible as two people feeling each other out than the assured studio material on the album proper.
           While “Various Weights” is the product of a relatively new collaboration, Tech Riders have been around for a while. The De Waard/Bjerga duo has performed several concerts and these two new titles nearly double their amount of available recordings. On the tape “Of the Lost Ark” (another pun on the band’s name, like their earlier “In the Sky”), each side sounds like an audio play. The composition is succinct and episodic, shifting from one sonic area to another like changing scenes. Both sides seem to be built out of radio static and blurred voices piling over each other in clouds of narrative confusion, with gently hovering feedback tones linking one mass of crackles and organic creaks to the next. There’s a lovely bit near the close of the second side that reminds me of a boat rocking on rough seas, eventually stilled by a rising warm electronic hug. “Double Factorial”, recorded in Rotterdam over two days in February 2019, is a striking package: two 3” CDRs, each in its little card stock box with stamped and printed art. The format suits the music quite well; one piece per disc, each one distinctive and self-contained. The first piece is a tornado of Shepard tone anxiety that gives way to churning metal and laser-focused feedback alarm. In contrast, the second disc is similar to “Of the Lost Ark” in its episodic structure and a wide amount of sonic ground covered. Portentous gongs imply an oncoming threat, dissolving into rattling chains and overheard radio speaking smothered in static. (HS)
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Lina Allemano is a Canadian trumpeter, improviser and composer. She is educated in both classical trumpets as well as jazz trumpet. She has her base in Berlin and one in Toronto and also runs her label: Lumo Records. Originally playing straight-ahead jazz, nowadays she works mainly in the contexts of contemporary music and improvised music in need of more adventure and risk. She leads the improvising electric quartet Titanium Riot, the acoustic Lina Allemano Four and Bloop, a duo of trumpet and live processing (Mike Smith). Besides she is a long-time member of Cluttertones, an ensemble led by Rob Clutton from Toronto. Now however we are speaking of two other initiatives: her solo debut recording and the debut by her Ohrensmaus-trio. Both recordings are my first introduction to her work, and it soon became evident to me that we are dealing here with a strong new voice. Ohrensmaus is a power-trio based in Berlin of Dan Peter Sundland (electric bass), Michael Griener (drums) and Allemano on trumpet. Dan Peter Sundland is a composer and bass player from Norway, dividing his time between Berlin and Norway. His ensemble Elevenette performs his composed work, and Home Stretch is his Berlin-based improve unit. Michael Griener is a drummer from Germany involved in projects of composed as well as improvised music. He was part of Günter Christmann’s Vario-projects in the 90s for example. Also, he worked with Uli Gumpert, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, Carl-Ludwig Hübsch, etc.
In their collaboration as Ohrensmaus, they started in 2017 and quickly developed into an exciting and hot trio as this recording proves. All compositions are by Allemano and function as starting points for spirited improvisations. The music is spicy and full of edgy manoeuvres. Allemano injects often-melodic elements in their strongly intertwined interactions. The interplay by this efficient operating trio is very tight and transparent. Sundland has a very eccentric playing style suggesting an acoustic bass. Griener is a very attentive performer and has many gestures to offer.
The music covers a wide range of dynamics and is very versatile and playful. The three performers make a good match and offer a sparkling and very convincing first statement with this release, recorded in Berlin on May 9, 2019.
That same year she recorded also her solo album ‘Glimmer Glammer’ in a studio in Toronto. A brave undertaking, showing again her interest in exploring extended techniques. Although using extended techniques, she doesn’t choose the way of pure sound improvisation. Most of her improvisations circle themes and motives that she explores. In the opening improvisation, ‘Portrait of Sticks’, she varies on a theme she introduces after a pronounced intro, staying close to the conventional sound of the trumpet.  This changes in ‘Clavour’ where she creates a much more defused and rumbling sound. In ‘Glimmer Glammer’ she practices two techniques simultaneously: manipulating material in her right hand, and playing the trumpet with her left hand, resulting in what she calls a “sound collage”. ‘Shimmer’ is a delicate piece, almost a ballad. Just like the sensitive closing improvisation ‘One Man Down (for Justin)’, dedicated to a friend and collaborator who sadly passed away. Everything we hear on this recording is purely acoustic and recorded with no overdubs. Each improvisation has its face, using different techniques, timbres and dynamics. So this is an album of powerful and expressive explorations by a musician who has a story to tell. (DM)
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Anna Webber and Angela Morris co-lead their New York-based big band since 2015 and now present their first album, released on Dave Douglas’ label Greenleaf Music. A few words on their backgrounds. Anna Webber is a composer, saxophonist and flautist from New York interested in where avant-garde jazz and contemporary composed music meet. Angela Morris operates in the contexts of Avant-jazz, new music and pop. She had her own vocal group Rallidae that recorded for Gold Bolus Recordings and is known for her work Simple Trio with John Hollenbeck and Matt Mitchell. The big band has following members: Jay Rattman, Charlotte Greve, Adam Schneit and Lisa Parrott play the woodwinds; Tim Vaughn, Nick Grinder, Becca Patterson and Jen Wharton play the trombones and on trumpets are John Lake, Dave Adewumi, Jake Henry, Kenny Warren; plus Patricia Brennan (vibraphone), Dustin Carlson (guitar), Marc Hannaford (piano), Adam Hopkins (bass), Jeff Davis (drums). Webber and Morris play saxes and flute. The names of Hannaford and Hopkins did ring a bell. Hannaford is a pianist originating from Australia who has several releases on Extreme Records. Hopkins runs a very interesting small label: Out Of Your Head Records. The opening track ‘Climbing on Mirrors’ is a very fluent piece. ‘Both are True’ is a work of similar length, with more room for improvised movements. Again this work unfolds fluently and gradually, what makes the compositional style of Morris and Webber very interrelated. Both are solid compositions with fine arrangements. Webber and Morris play two short improvised duets on this album that function as interludes between the more extended ensemble-pieces. ‘Rebonds’ is a short fight of electric guitarist Dustin Carlson against the rest. ‘Coral’ seems to take inspiration from minimal music as the opening suggests. It is built from long extended delicate textures before it becomes interspersed with contrasting movements from percussion and sax indicating the free improvised section that is about to follow. Including the other compositions on this album, their music is harmonious and balanced, performed by a very disciplined ensemble. Webber and Morris did a successful job with this collaboration! (DM)
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While I am not sure if Mozart has anything to do with this, I do know there are two trumpet players at work here. Both players are major forces in the world of improvised music. Ulher (1961) uses the trumpet in combination with objects, radio and speakers and as such the trumpet becomes an entirely different instrument whereas Hautzinger (1963) has developed the quarter-tone trumpet and worked in the ‘quiet’ music scene for quite some time now. These two players go beyond the normal realm of a trumpet and in the five pieces recorded at Ulher’s flat on May 28, 2018, this is easily heard. You may recognize the trumpet, surely, but it is embedded in something bigger and something quite different than just two people playing the trumpet in front of a microphone. They blow, whistle, sigh into the horn and the sound they produce with their mouths also plays an important role. Add to that the rattling of small objects by Ulher, the occasional switching of the radio channels and play that to inside of the instrument and you can imagine something else comes forward. This is, of course, improvised music but it is also something else; perhaps something you could call electro-acoustic music or even musique concrete, but then without all the tape manipulation. All of this, so I assume, is recorded in real-time and it is some very fascinating music. It veers from quiet and introspective to jubilant and hectic; from silence to almost noise, from minimally sustaining tones to a rapid succession of changing sounds. This is a highly varied release. Great stuff. (FdW)
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One of my all-time favourite recordings is ‘Opus 50. Requiem of Art’, a beautiful piece of abstract music, using tape-manipulations combined with field recordings, which I wrongfully attributed to Joseph Beuys for, well, decades. Problem was, the piece was one of two records released as a 2LP set in 1973 and as these things go with artists’ records, the original album was impossible to find (pre-internet days remember?) and all I had was a grotty tape copy that said ‘Joseph Beuys’ on the cover. To make a long story even longer: Beuys was responsible for the other LP in the set (‘Schottische Symphonie’), which he created in collaboration with Henning Christiansen, but Christiansen did ‘Requiem of Art’ all by himself. My point? Never trust a home-taped cassette label! And: Henning Christiansen (Denmark, 1932 – 2008) was one of the greatest composers of the Fluxus art movement he was part of. Over the years many of his works have been released and re-released. This one, a double LP containing two works, is the latest in a series of releases. The Institute for Danish Sound Archaeology is, as its name would suggest, ‘a label as well as an independent association with the overall purpose of uncovering and releasing historical Danish electronic music and sound art’. They have been releasing quite a few works by Danish composers such as Christiansen, but also by Per Norgard and Knud Victor. The works on this Christiansen-set are ‘Peter der Grosse’ (composed for radio in 1986) and ‘Gudbrandsdal’ (composed for a 1987 performance featuring, you guessed it, Beuys who unfortunately passed away before the piece could be performed) and both remind me in their overall composition and feel of ‘Requiem of Art’. However, these two pieces have more of an electronic component to them. Peter der Grosse, describing the life of the (in-)famous Russian Czar, utilizes electronic instruments such as synthesizers and a crackle box, orchestral bits, electronic rhythm and combines this with what sounds like field recordings of waves and walking through snow. The piece is atmospheric and moody and consciously divided into six very different-sounding ‘suites’. The second album in the set, Gudbrandsdal (a valley in Norway), has a more minimal approach to sound, employing echo effects and tape speed-manipulation. Divided into 8 pieces, Gudbrandsdal is Christiansen’s sound interpretation of the famous valley and the Nordish tales connected to it. It is more abstract and unstructured than ‘Peter der Grosse’, and therefore in my view more intriguing. Probably much like the valley itself, though I wouldn’t rule out Peter the Great, who was a pretty intriguing personality himself. These two works fit the extensive discography of Christiansen, one of the greatest avant-garde composers of this century, like a glove. The packaging is equally gorgeous featuring extensive notes and a hand-drawn score. Even though my Christiansen-favourite remains ‘Requiem of Art’, this new album is a very valuable, intriguing and quite beautiful addition to his discography. I strongly suggest Christiansen-maiden Vital Weekly-readers to check out any of Christiansen’s diverse works! (FK)
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The constant exploration of new names by Greece’s Sound In Silence label continues with Halftribe, the musical project of Ryan Bissett from Manchester. I have missed his albums and EPs as released by Archives, Dronarivm, Vent Sounds, Dewtone Recordings and Silk Sofa Music, and the eleven pieces here are my introduction. As for instruments, I would think he doesn’t have a preference for any one in particular, but synthesizers and guitars are surely the ones for him, along with ‘other’ electronics, sound effects, samples and it all creates a very delicate and delicious set of music. It is droney, and it has that melancholic touch, but yet it is not completely dark. It’s more greyish, day turning to night (or vice versa), when the colour fades out (or in); like a sepia photograph. There is a bit of a hiss left in, to give it that fine lo-fi element of, well again, old pictures. The piano sounds a bit rusty; when it appears and has a great shimmering quality, just as does the overall music has that quality. It doesn’t force itself upon the listener, it is ambient music and yet it stays away from the easy trappings of new age music. Halftribe slides weirder sounds, such as in ‘Drops’, which sounds like gas escaping from a stove. The title piece is almost like Brian Eno’s piano sounds with some mild shoegazing guitar sounds and a rare bit of vocals. This is a great release.
           Oleksiy Sakevych is the man behind Endless Melancholy. He’s from Kyiv in Ukraine and has had releases on such imprints as {reserved Sound, Twice Removed, AZH Music, 1631 Recordings, Dronarivm, Thesis, Past Inside The Present and Hidden Vibes, the latter being his private label. ‘A Perception Of Everything’ is his seventh full-length album, and he uses a lot of synthesizer sounds, sustaining for some time, with some fine chords or pads (or whatever you want to call them), along with field recordings captured on a microcassette and some tape loops. I would think there are also quite a bit of piano sounds, but hearing the way they are treated, I suspect that these are taped on the same microcassette as well. This is “an album about the constant attempts to live in harmony with yourself and searching for your inner peace”, which is not something I made out of this” and while that may sound quite new age-like, the music is certainly not in that area. Here too we have what we could “certain rusty lo-fi tendencies”, with sometimes mild distortion on the field recordings, the synthesizers and the piano. I would think incense burners would not meet this music with great joy, but for the more adventurous ambient lover (I like to believe I am one), this is something that works very well for me. There is, on one hand, the somewhat crumbled sound and on the other lush synthesizer textures, best exemplified in the rather quirky ‘The Edge’, which, at two and half-minutes keeps it brief (something that more ambient musicians should do). The album closes with ‘As The World Quietly Ends’, a slightly poetic title, but hopefully not prophetic. It is surely is quiet music for quiet times. (FdW)
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MARK VERNON – PAPER GESTURES (CDR by Glistening Examples)
LEO OKAGAWA – ULYSSES (CDR by Glistening Examples)

It didn’t take me much consideration to see where to start with this three. It all has to do with anticipation and with the work of Mark Vernon; I am always curious to see what he comes up. His sound art usually has a radiophonic character, but over the years words have disappeared and the story is within the way he uses his sound material. On ‘Paper Gestures’ we find pieces that he made at EMS studios in Stockholm as an 8-channel sound work and for the sound material, he uses recordings made in a whole bunch of Norwegian places between 2006 and 2018. As I was listening, I tried to figure out what these recordings are, what sort locations they were made, but, and that happens most of the times, I failed. The label’s Bandcamp page gives us some explanation: “sounds of military exercises with tank fire, a road surface stripping machine, breaking panes of glass, high-speed trains, ultrasound recordings of stomach noises, wind whistling through vents on the Oslo underground, sliding wardrobe doors, microwaved popcorn, soap suds, beehives, handbells and bicycle races”. But then the next question would be, to what extent are these sounds treated or whether they remain ‘as is’, and the ‘only’ thing Vernon does is putting them together. And maybe that is what he does; but if it is that, how relevant is that? For me, it is not. It is what he does and how sounds that matters for me, and he does a great job. In each of the five pieces, I would say there is some kind of narrative, however abstract that narrative might be. It sounds like a walk through a field, objects are found along the way and sounds picked from some distance. At times mysterious, at other times down to earth, at times recognizable and then also alien. It is laptop music but without the extensive use of the entire plugin catalogue and transformations. Good ol’ musique concrete and Vernon is great at creating that.
           The name Marta Zapparoli popped up a few times in Vital Weekly, mainly as part of improvised music releases, but this is the first time I heard her solo music. The three pieces were made with recordings she did of “electromagnetic waves from the sun and VLF natural radios phenomena, radio waves and “the piece is inspired by my romantic idea about the journey of the soul after death to perpetual motion in the universe”. If you ever scanned the radio waves (on a thing that is a radio or online), you probably realize what fascinating world there is on air. Various musicians created an entire career out of it. I assume, and I might be wrong, that Zapparoli recorded a lot of these waves and stick them together using computer means. Say, a bit like Mark Vernon just did, but now with some limited reach, or rather, a limited set of sounds. The characteristics of the radio waves are easily recognized in these some rough textures of waves, static and crackle. And like playing around the with the dial, Zapparoli moves between harsher and quieter textures, which is not to say that is that what she does; ‘just dialling’. There is a fine sense of composing with lots of elements, some of which return now and then, without things getting loop or rhythm-based. Especially the long title track is a winner, almost like Zapparoli’s version of Stockhausen’s ‘Telemusik’; the other two pieces are noisier and more monochrome in approach but equally both quite enjoyable.
           The first time I heard music by Leo Okagawa was his first release by Glistening Examples, ‘The Notional terrain’ (Vital Weekly 1076) and since then I learned his work is mainly based on edited field recordings. I assume that is still the case and here too, we can see some references to the work of Vernon, which has become the reference here since that’s where our journey started. The main difference is that Vernonen has shorter pieces and Okagawa one long piece (42’42, if that is of some significance). Like the James Joyce of the same title, Okagawa sees this piece as one stream of consciousness’, culled from field recordings from different places. I assume that these locations don’t mean much and they have been mixed in the creation of the piece. There is no mentioning of these locations anyway. But I would gather that we hear different locations at the same time. The stream of consciousness idea works out pretty well and unlike Vernon, which I think has more of a story to tell, Okagawa lets it all out, sound upon sound, loud street recordings cut with a ski-lift, some electrical currents, cars on top of a bridge, a shopping mall and the kitchen of a restaurant. I would think these sounds are not processed, and perhaps only coloured with some additional EQ. It is a fine work for sure, but why 42″42′? Why not 60″00′? or 80″00′? Why on a CDR? Why not a three-hour release on Bandcamp or SoundCloud? The all-night mix? You get my drift, perhaps. If it is all a stream of consciousness, so many more configurations could be possible. Perhaps nitpicking. This works perfectly well as another fine display of what he does. (FdW)
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PJS – PRECIPICE (cassette by Cosmic Winnetou)
TRISTAN MAGNETIQUE – 2 (two cassettes by Cosmic Winnetou)

As I was listening to the new releases by Gunther Schlienz’ label Cosmic Winnetou, I realized that the name is, perhaps, a bit silly. Unless there is a deeper meaning I don’t get. Which is a pity as the label releases music that I enjoy quite a lot. There are now some fifty releases, mostly on cassette, some on vinyl (and seemingly some of them as free downloads, but maybe that’s just a temporary thing?), which has brought back the good memories of Navel and Schlienz himself, but also serves as a good introduction, for me that is, into a plethora of new names. PJS, for instance, is a duo of Patrick Dique (“Wind, Melody, Love”) and Jordan Christoff (“Liquid, Light, ESP”). If that suggests two hippies with rainbow coloured t-shirts, beards and long hair, I would agree. Maybe they are not of course. They are surely men who love their machines and I learned that these are “synthesizers, field recordings and effects. No computer sounds screens or presets present during the creation process.” Also mentioned are field recordings and the fact that it all recorded live. Three long pieces here, two on the first side and one on the second, span the whole thirty minutes. There is a vast spacious, emptiness in this music, for which the term ‘cosmic’ is very well suited and while there is also a touch of new age music in this music, it is just a tad too dark to be called new age and in ‘Spirit Fruit’, the synthesizers imitating water a bit too high to be just plain smooth. This is music that fits the sunny spring day, bright coloured, slow-moving and melancholic. The field recordings can no longer be recognized but water, wind, and/or rain are my best guesses. My favourite is ‘Witches Brew’, the long piece on the second side; insect recordings mingle with melancholic touches of long pads on the synthesizer and have a beautiful character, like a summer’s day, when on holiday.
           From Oberlin, I reviewed a CDR before (see Vital Weekly 1063) and I know it is the musical project of Alexander Holtz (who called himself Leandro Xhalter before), a man with a Eurorack synthesizer and keen sense for all things grey, as already indicated by the title, which loosely translates as ‘grey morning, uncertain images’. I heard only one previous release by Oberlin and quite some time ago, so I forgot about that, but re-reading the old review I did, I think the music was a bit more uplifting than the four pieces on this release. These are all in minor keys, recorded in a sort of rusty environment on what could be a cassette of Ferro quality. The cover says he plays an Ibanez custom e-gitarre, Eurorack synth and, on two pieces, the piano. There is desolation here, just as with PJS, whereas as they are in an open space, alone in the universe sort of thing, Oberlin is alone at home, locked within four walls, playing his slow, desolate tunes. The arpeggios of before are slowed down, there are sparse piano notes and quite a bit of space. This is more the soundtrack for a cold winter’s day than a breezy spring day if you catch my drift. It is certainly music that caught me on the right day and in the proper mood; great stuff!
           The first release I heard from Tristan Magnetique was a triple cassette, released by Otomatik Muziek (see Vital Weekly 1143) and for reasons not explained, this is the nom de plume used by label boss (here) Günter Schlienz. Under that name, he released some great albums of moody modular synthesizer music in combination with field recordings and perhaps the difference is (and thus the reason for adopting another guise?) is that as Tristan Magnetique he uses a single keyboard, the Casio CZ101, “a few pedals” and the four-track tape recorder. Maybe it is all a bit more conceptual, but at the same time, it all works very well. There is a most enjoyable crude edge to this music that I find very appealing. It is all bit aimless doodling and tinkering away, but with some roughness that we don’t find in the work under the other banner. That is all very delicate and this is all a bit rough, both in the way the pieces are composed and in the way they are recorded. Sometimes there seems to be a strangely abrupt ending to it all as the machine ran into some dirty bit of tape. It is music without many aims or much direction, but that is the beauty of it, I think. I like Schlienz’ other work quite a bit, but the old noise-head that I am I have a slight preference for the music of Tristan Magnetique, I think. The slightly corroded drone music that has been left out in the rain for too long has that bit of extra drone quality for me. Great stuff, once again and a full hour of great music. (FdW)
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KRUSLET FEAT. THONN DHØSE (cassette by Blowpipe Records)
ZIEK – INSECTS (cassette by Blowpipe Records)
ZIEK – TECHNOLOGY (cassette by Blowpipe Records)

Dutch label Blowpipe expands their empire by releasing cassettes, which, in a way, is perhaps they started many, many years under a different name, Studio 12. Back then they had electronic music and these two are also electronic. Nothing changes and nothing remains the same. I don’t know much about any of the people who are doing the music here. The label boss pointed out that Krulset (meaning ‘curl set’; for your hair) is an anagram of Kluster, but it has very little to do with the German band of the same name, as well as nothing with the same band but spelt Cluster. The three pieces are named after hairstyling methods. When I played something similar some years ago to a friend of mine, he said that it sounded like ‘music for hairdressers’, perhaps meaning this was the background music for hip places? Maybe there is a bit of irony at work here as well? The whole tape is rather short, thirteen minutes only. ‘Bijknippen’ is the shortest song, opening the tape and leading the synthesizer way into ‘Gedekt Model’ via drones and a synth bubbles but then the rhythm comes in with a fine, massive synth treatment in a slightly eastern style. Rhythm is somewhat subdued in the mix and it’s all synth-heavy. Very nice. ‘Wassen & Föhnen’ is the longest song here and roles are reversed; rhythm becomes more important and it’s quite driving forward song, which I can imagine would liven any road trip up. Maybe that’s where K/Cluster comes in? And it is all a bit more krautrock inspired? Three songs it is and that’s it and that’s a pity. I would have loved some more of this.
           Luckily Ziek has a lot more to offer; two cassettes, each about forty-five minutes, sixteen songs in total. I am not sure if Ziek should be translated as ‘ill’ or ‘sick’ as in ‘sick beats, man’. Ziek is the brainchild of one Alex Agrasot and the music is described as ‘leftfield bass/dubstep’ and both tapes are released as a ‘mixtape’. I have no idea what in the parlance of youth a mixtape is these days, but for this old dude these are tapes with individual tracks; they are mixed but not as long piece. Is that a mixtape? I have no idea. To be brutally honest (some more) I have likewise not much idea what dubstep is, hopelessly out of touch with the nightlife. I do hear elements of dub music in these songs, which I thought was most enjoyable, as I do like a bit of old fashioned dub music. The ongoing beat on the 3rd beat and the echo, reverb and whatever else the studio has to offer to transform all the sounds in real-time. That is what Ziek does here as well. It all sounds quite lo-fi, a bit digital and perhaps also analogue, in a curious way. The beats are slow, but perhaps not as slow as the dub originals but not fast anyway either. Ziek adds taped voices and keeps his transformations within reasonable boundaries, not to loose the ‘uber rhythm’ of the music. I played it all in a row, seventy-five minutes long and found it all most enjoyable, even given the fact there wasn’t always the most of variation in the music, but I guess that is dub music for you. It was the very reason why I loved it a lot. (FdW)
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