Number 1235

EMERGE – STEPS (CD by Attenuation Circuit) *
FEZAYAFIRAR – BIRKAC PARSEK (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
JAN KEES HELMS – RAW #01 (cassette by Lor Teeps) *
WETHER – HEIR BUD (cassette by Strategic Tape Reserve) *
Q///Q – VANGUARD YOUTH (cassette by Strategic Tape Reserve) *


“Pronounced as ‘oo-hoo'” as it says on the cover of this CD (LP version is released by the Where To Now label), this is another collaboration of Rutger Zuydervelt and Anne Bakker; I wondered why it didn’t say that on the cover, but alas. Bakker is a violin player not to be confused with Anne Chris Bakker. Bakker and Machinefabriek worked together a few times before and the combination of violin and voice of Bakker with the electronic sounds of Zuydervelt always brings a fine combination of sounds, acoustic meeting electronic. It is strangely all together quite acoustic sounding. I am not sure why some of these pieces are so brief, thirty-five seconds, one-minute and forty-five-seconds; three are over three minutes and one is close to five. The whole album is only twenty-seven minutes, so even for an LP on the short side. I have no idea why Machinefabriek and Bakker choose that. All of the shorter pieces sound as if they could have been longer, with much potential in that. That these are this short is a great pity, I think. But choosing this more sketch-like approach is, of course, a possibility also; maybe you could call a Zen-like approach? A quick brush with sound, nothing overly complex, no repeating of phrases, no touching up afterwards. Bakker’s wordless chant in combination with her elegant and slow violin playing in combination with Machinefabriek sparse use of electronic sounds, a crackle here and some contact microphone on surface approach there, a swoop to top off a piece, all makes up this wonderful elegant music. Very introspective most of the time, but there are also controlled bursts of ‘noise’, such as in the fourth piece, ‘Harrewar’ (annoyingly the titles are printed on the CD), which makes up a fine variety. Ten more minutes would have been nice. (FdW)
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EMERGE – STEPS (CD by Attenuation Circuit)
FEZAYAFIRAR – BIRKAC PARSEK (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)

Of the two people Alexei Borisov is working with here, there is one that he worked with before, Katya Rekk (electronics, sound objects, daxophone, voice) and one new one (well, that is to say, this is to say it is the first time I hear his name. The three of them didn’t work together as such but Gorodezkii is the man who got a whole bunch of improvisations, as recorded by Borisov (electronics, tapes, guitar and voice) and Rekk over the years as part of their on-going collaboration in the field of improvised music. I would think Gorodezkii got free reign over the material and splices together all sorts of bits and bobs out of it. There is very little to go by here in terms of instruments; there is some serious Dictaphone abuse going, some voice stuff but otherwise, it’s not easy. The methods applied are that of cutting a ton of small fragments together and organise these in all sorts of ways. In the opening piece it is very chaotic, in the third one very spaced out and mellow, focussing on the softer cracks and pops and the mayhem in the background. In the second piece the sound of a broken rhythm machine is used and the snippets maybe have been organized in a more or less rhythm fashion or, as in the fourth piece, a combination of all these (that might explain that this is the longest of the four pieces on this CD). I was reminded of the mid-1980s when everybody discovered the world before industrial music, the world of musique concrete. When 4-track recorders became much cheaper and everybody was trying their hands at electro-acoustic composing. Most notably I would say P16.D4 and THU20 on their first CD. Gorodezkii does a great job here in carving out his brand of musique concrete meets noise collage, resulting in a great CD.
    Label boss EMERGE is a very active musician when it comes to playing concerts and doing releases with recordings of those concerts. This is one of his rare studio recordings. It all started with inviting a bunch of friends to rework some field recordings into bits of sounds Emerge could use in a new project, but no-one (Limited Liability Sounds, Claus Poulsen, Herr Penschunck, B*tong among others) knew where the sources came from and would be told upon release. They were all made in Dachau. The text now refers to another release that contained field recordings from former concentration campsites, by Stephane Garin and Sylvestre Gobart (see Vital Weekly 773). I wrote something about how helping knowing where the sources were made and the appreciation of the project. The context becomes important. I am not sure what Emerge writes is true “only if we know the history behind these sounds – and the history of the place where they were recorded – are we able to make sense of the present”. If only, I thought. Remembering is always a good thing, certainly these days with dictatorship, rising populism and all that may find a new way to separate groups of people and let’s hope that is something we can take from this. Track one and three are purely based on Emerge’s field recordings, although I would think there is also quite some electronics in use. Of course, we don’t recognize Dachau (at least, I didn’t, but it’s been a while since I visited the place in 2005 or so), but there is an eerie atmospheric quality to the music; maybe that is something of my imagination? In the middle, there is the piece n which Emerge used those fifteen contributions he received and one could think that all these pieces and with noise musicians like Satori this would lead to some massive doubling of noises, you’d be surprised to hear that this is of similar delicate quality as the other two pieces; sounds are fading in and out very gently as in the others. In all three pieces, there is a great narrative going on. And yes, there is some extra dimension now with what we know about the music. This is the best Emerge release I heard so far, and I heard a lot of them!
    And finally, there is the CDR by the Turkish duo based in Berlin and Zürich Fezayafirar. The name is a reference to one of the first science fiction books in Turkish and the connection, “is, of course, programmatic”, the label informs me, but why ‘of course’? They played at an evening hosted by the label (excerpt of which are to be found in the third piece) I would think they use modular synthesizers in their set-up, but according to the information also “a cello and some percussion sound”. The blurb also refers to cosmic and kraut electronica, which is something I didn’t hear that much. Their sounds bubble, hiss, burst, crack and oscillate and it does not bounce around neatly along with sequencers and arpeggios. Which is fine with me. The thing with modular synthesizers is the same as I had with laptop musicians at one point and that’s is this: when does one stop playing around with sounds and when do the composing starts? On social media, I see impressive racks with just a very thin bleep going on. I like to hear a good solid piece of composed music. With Fezayafirar I am not sure; part of this sounded quite all right, and some of this as a mere extract of a larger improvisation, and as such not works out too well for my taste. It is surely a fine work that introduces the sounds of the duo; time to take the next step. (FdW)
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So far I know Swiss violinist and improviser Laura Schuler only from her solo album ‘Elements and Songs’. With this album, she debuted in 2018. Debuting with a solo album of improvised music she didn’t choose the easy way. Last five years she worked with Esche, Seltenen Orchester and Trio Kwestia, a.o. At the moment most important activities are her solo work and her new quartet. With ‘Metamorphosis’ she presents her quartet: Philipp Gropper (tenor sax), Hanspeter Pfammatter (synth), Lionel Friedli (drums) and Schuler herself (violin, electronic effects). All of them of a generation older than Schuler. Both Friedli and Pfammatter also participate in interesting Swiss ensemble Le Pot, to mention just one. Gropper is from Berlin and had a trio Hyperactive Kid, Quartet Philm and an electro-acoustic band Tau. From included information, I learn that in the future Tony Malaby will play the saxophone in this quartet instead of Gropper. The tour that was planned parallel to this release had been cancelled because of the corona- pandemic. Before recording (December 2018) they had about 12 concerts to become familiar with the material and another in this new combination. The cd opens with the title track that starts with a typical intro of a high floating tone with solo violin. When drums and sax join in, Schuler continues repeating a pattern, before it takes again another turn. Gradually more twists and turns are on their path and the music bounces its way through. Great track. The second piece ‘Ballad for the Unborn’ as the title suggests touches other ground. Starting as a ballad it develops into a rhythmically complex exercise. This complexity also counts for  ‘Dancing in the Stratosphere’ which is again an up-tempo piece. The performance is very fluent and tight. In a fine and balanced interplay, the performers weave their lines into solid constructions. Schuler wrote a bunch of intelligent and multi-sided compositions that are surprising and full-grown. Strong statement! (DM)
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Stefan Orins is one of the central figures of the jazz-scene in Lille. You may know him from his trio, Circum Grand Orchestra and many other projects. Most of them have been released for the Circum Disc Label. “Summer’s Hopes” is his latest statement and if I’m not mistaken his first solo album. Okay, a solo album but also an episode within a long-lasting collaboration with painter Patricia Jeanne Delmotte. They work together since 2008 combining their respective arts to sharpen and inspire one other. Orins was inspired for this recording by an abstract painting of the same name painted in the summer of 2018. It is printed on the cover of this release. A musician stating his work his inspired by – as in this case – a visual artwork, often triggers the question of how this process of inspiration is to be understood. Not on the biochemical level, but in the way the improvisation by Orins can be understood as a response to his perception of the painting. Is it a dialogical process to some extent, in some way? It is one of those questions that don’t necessarily need an answer; maybe even better if it’s not. It is more something I wonder about, and that is enough. Orins performs his impressions on a Bechstein Grand Piano, condensed in twelve improvisations. His style keeps the middle between jazz and classical-styled playing. Hidden fragments of melody pop up now and then. Sometimes the improvisations tend towards a lyrical and romantic approach, but never exaggerating; never choosing for a cliché or cheap effect, nor losing himself in needless complexity. This is an inspiring meditation by a poetic and sensible mind. Just one inevitable question to conclude with: what kind of painting would be the result if Delmotte took her inspiration from this recording? (DM)
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Article XI is a project initiated by Anton Hunter in 2014 when he was commissioned by the Manchester Jazz Festival to create a set of works for a large ensemble. In 2018 they released their debut work on Efpi Records. Their latest recording is released by Discus music, which is no surprise as Hunter participated already on numerous releases for this label (Story Tellers, Ron Caines/Martin Archer Axis, Beck Hunter). The name of this ensemble refers to article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights defining the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, a freedom that is practised by this ensemble, as well freedom in another sense. Although their music starts from composed ingredients by Hunter, there is plenty of room for free improvisation what makes this one a collective undertaking. Hunter intends to give room to the specific characteristics and qualities of the musicians involved. Two titles (‘Municrination’ and ‘Always A Fox’) are new ones and first recorded here. Performed by eleven (!) musicians: Sam Andreae (alto sax), Oliver Dover (alto sax), Simon Prince (tenor sax, flute), Cath Roberts (baritone sax), Graham South (trumpet), Nick Walters (trumpet), Kieran McLeod (trombone), Tullis Rennie (trombone), Seth Bennett (double bass), Johnny Hunter (drums) and Anton Hunter (guitar). Article XI is another exponent of the lively Manchester-scene so well documented by Discus Music. In my perception, we are not on the forefront of new developments over here. But Manchester is fertile soil for a community of improvisers who practice their craft with enormous dedication and love. This live recording of 2017 is a perfect example of this. The open and inviting frames composed by Hunter provide an overall homogenous style, leading us through very introspective sections versus parts where they go full steam. There is room for solo improvisations as well as collective ones. Very free and open spaces are contrasted with more grooving sections. The performance is warm and enthusiastic with a modest presence by Hunter himself as a guitarist. (DM)
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Gruenrekorder latest batch of releases shows their interest in all things sound art and field recordings. The latter is present on the release by Enrico Coniglio. He has on-going research in the Venetian Lagoon, and recordings were made at the north side of the lagoon, “between the islands of Murano, Burano, Sant’Erasmo and their surrounding sandbanks. Here it is possible to find, on the one hand, aquatic spawning grounds for crabbers, high-tide roosts for gulls and native terns; on the other, boats for the public transportation are moving along the main navigation channels”, as he says. It is not a postcard of the place, according to Coniglio, where one sticks a microphone in the air and records some stuff; he uses electromagnetic sensors, binaural microphones, hydrophones, contact and condenser microphones to capture his sounds and uses them in the five pieces on this release. There are almost no water sounds, except in the last piece. I am not sure if there is any sort of processing going on here; I would think there is, but yet, I would not be surprised if there isn’t. I would think that the music is a collage of recordings, various sound events layered together. That is clear in the first piece, ‘Fraima’, in which we hear motor sounds (boat in the lagoon), buzzing, insects and other animals. In ‘Zenziva’ there is a very ambient approach with very subdued drone-like organ sounds and the fading in of insect recordings, whereas the title piece seems to be a collage of pure field recordings. Throughout these five pieces are very quiet in approach, very fragile it seems, even when Coniglio isn’t shy of using some very high-pitched sounds. It still makes up some very fine ambient music and throughout an excellent release.
    And on vinyl, we find Micheal Lightborne, with a follow-up to his LP ‘Sounds Of The Projection Box’ (see Vital Weekly 1146) in which he used recordings made in a cinema projection box. This time we find him outside, alongside the megastructure of the Coventry Ring Road. When they started to rebuild the heavily bombed city after World War II, they decided to keep the traffic outside the city centre and keep it pedestrian-friendly. But the plan didn’t work and Lightborne writes, “Nowadays, the Ring Road has come to be seen as a misguided Modernist project that ended up deterring pedestrians and killing the city centre. The process of disassembling, mitigating, and repurposing the structure is already underway”. He attached contact microphones to the structure and captures the vibrating of the structure. The record opens up with some field recordings from around the Ring Road and ends with “induction coil” recordings, meaning he captured some of the electromagnetic fields from around the structure. In the five other pieces, the recordings are mixed and the result is some great record. One might think cars and concrete structures equals a fair bit of noise but that is not the case here; in fact, it is all rather subdued and sounding distant. It is hard to say what it sounds like; I was thinking of a recording of wind chimes slowed down a lot. Or, maybe it sounds akin to hitting with branches on a frozen lake? That’s the sort of impressions I had. As a child, I played along the canal in my neighbourhood and below the bridge, you’d hear these cars passing overhead; the whole structure of the concrete had a dampening effect on it. On busy days you’d hear the steady cadence of the cars, something that Lighborne uses in the lock grooves at either side of the record. This is some fascinating music; dark and elegant, quiet and peaceful. And yes, that is perhaps a strange thing for recordings of a Ring Road.
    The last one, for now, is a release that is a compilation but it is also one track. From what I understand this a recording of an event that took place on August 4, 2018, on three different locations in Karlsruhe; The project room ßpace, the artist-run space Halo ARS and the pedestrian zone Kaiserstraße. They were all connected to the ZKM, the big media art place in the same place. At ßpace, label boss Lasse-Marc Riek played field recordings, noises and soundscapes, at Halo ARS was the duoLintu + Røyk with modular synthesizers and on the street were members of KITeratur to which people participate (adding random spoken words) and the No Input Ensemble performed in the subspace under ZKM’s blue Cube (doesn’t make four locations? I copied it all from the press text. All of this mixed and processed as an installation by Yannick Hofmann, Marco Kempf, Benjamin Miller, Barbara Nerness, Sebastian Schottke and Dan Wilcox in the Cube and the underground car park at ZKM. I assume all in walking distance so you could move between the various performances and hear them individually or combined but invisible. The music is a sixty-two-minute endless stream of sounds and spoken word. The latter we don’t hear continuously, but now and then. Sometimes the music is quite ‘there’, a bit noisy, which I guess is the thing with modular synthesizers, but who knows whatever noises were added by Riek? It is not bad but I am also not overly enthusiastic about it. It is, perhaps, that there isn’t much happening in terms of composition that I found missing here. It was a bit too much of a random fading in and out of the mix of sounds, the unconscious stream factor, I guess. It comes in a very fine package with quite some information, which is a nice extra feature. (FdW)
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For the ‘Zorro’-LP (there’s also a CD featuring two additional tracks) Plan Kruutntoone joins forces with one of today’s best pianists in the avant-garde realm: Reinier van Houdt. He recently released a delightful solo 12″ on Matière Mémoire and who we all know Van Houdt from his splendid renditions of contemporary (often physically quite demanding) composed piano works (check out the stellar double cd on Moving Furniture Records featuring works by Alvin Curran; Vital Weekly 1182) and of course his work with Current 93.
    Plan Kruutntoone and Van Houdt present a conceptual narrative here, based around Zorro and Rosa, geography (and Spielberg) and Brodski, or, to put it in slightly more practical or technical terms: composed and deranged music and lyrics (and other words) on guitars, basses, drums and a piano. The oddball quality of the work starts with the hand-drawn and -painted artwork, a hard to read tracklisting, some other diagrams and slogans or loosely inserts – Twombly-like even – sentences or parts thereof. “A squeaky spring – No not like that – Plays the red flower”. First impression: Tom Waits would not be ashamed to put out a record looking like this, to send the listener into a hazy world of fictional characters of lore and wonder and tall tales told with an air of absolute truthfulness.
    Picture this: “A deserted Romney shed, somewhere in the north. Only the chosen ones will gather to perform their religious duty, a service to you, heroes, the worst, since Pearl Harbour. A Kärcher high-pressure water cleaner will be solemnly melted. Into nothingness. …and Zorro cares for us.”
    Roaming the rough edges of holes in plaster as Plan and Van Houdt say themselves, they feel at home in a dangerous world. Theirs is a world in which the band brim with confidence to wave the flag of Slaapkamers met Slagroom-vibe Sonic Youth and defy expectations with a tip of the hat to equal measures of the aforementioned Tom Waits and the aesthetic of De Kift mixed with The Ex.
    Founded on a sturdy conceptual framework Plan Kruutntoone once again fosters an explosive yet poetically pensive mix of unexpected forms and Dada-ish gestures with bizarre and intense observations of the exceptional and the commonplace. The resulting LP is jagged and rugged. Dots and lines somehow seem to connect. Or at least these are presented together, in some sort of formation or togetherness: appearing as natural myths read from a Cy Twombly painting, from a maelstrom of considered actions and deeply energetic rushes of frenetic attacks on the poetic and musical canvas.
    A roughness too which makes it utterly logical screws here, in this palace of wonders, are hammered (not turned) into the wall. Oh, if only these walls could speak, one might hear someone say, now or then. On the ‘Zorro’ LP these walls do indeed speak up without shyness, in multitudes of voices and languages. Like our poet Bernlef: jazz and poetry melt into one; into snow white and technicoloured island-wash of melancholy and yearning – a unity demanding full attention: not the plaster, not the tapestry; not even the whole room or house, but the view and the world, all around. Surely one of the best records of 2020. (SSK)
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This is a true story. Earlier this week I got this new album by Matt Weston and outside, in front of the house, scaffolding was put up to paint the house. In the backyard, the painter was using various tools to remove old paint. I opened the parcel and played the record. There was an odd collision between the playing of percussion by Weston on vinyl and the metal clank outside. It was not the right time for writing reviews about music unless I was using headphones, which I never do. The two pieces on this record were recorded live, and were ‘an interactive, multi-channel electro-acoustic installation, incorporating multi-dimensional graphic and Western-notated scores, as well as instances of instantaneous composition-realization”. Side one is just over fourteen minutes and the other side just under thirteen (so, maybe 12″ is a better name for it?). Music by Weston is largely improvised and in the past reviewed by mister Mulder, but there is something about his music that I enjoy very much, even when that is not easy to tell. In both pieces, the improvised percussion music is the main portion of the music, that much is sure, and Weston plays his kit in a way that we can recognize it is a drum kit, but there is also Weston using a bow across the cymbals, and some other sounds, which weren’t easy to decipher. Towards the end of side A, I thought I heard something that sounded similar to a trombone. Alongside there is percussion that could be pre-recorded and added along with the rest, more stuff from sources unknown. The results are two very energetic sides of wild rumble and tumble and of which the ending of ‘Don’t Yell Or Hit’ has certainly the stranger ending; a tape collage of organ-like sounds. Perhaps it is all bit short, but all are of some excellent power. (FdW)
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Coen Oscar Polack’s ‘Haarlemmerhout’ succeeds in evoking the atmosphere of sitting in the gorgeous park that the album is named after. This is not all ambient new age, but rather the sounds of a sunny day in nature just outside of a major city is used for a diverse collection of electro-acoustic work with an underlying romantic streak. Aspects of the music are peaceful, sure, as sounds from a public park must be, but the album shifts between moods in a way that seems natural, not jarring, but also not too sweet. It opens with what you might expect: a light wind in trees, birds chirping, that sort of thing. But notice how organically the piece drifts into an enveloping drone, eventually bringing in slowed-down animal grunts – perhaps pigs and goats? – and resonant gong-like warm tones. The sounds of open-air are frequently punctured with plastic creaks and not-naturally-occurring digital processing, eventually swinging back towards wind, trees and birds once more. The album’s big finish, “आवारा”, is the closest it gets to pastoral calm that one might associate with new-age-adjacent artists like Michiru Aoyama or Hakobune. In the context of the rest of the album’s thornier pieces, the respite is earned. It feels like a fitting place for the album to have built to, followed by the microphone-jostling coda that reminds listeners where it began. A solid album that works from start to end.
The more I hear from Anla/Alan Courtis, the more I recognize his value as a collaborator. Sure enough, the list of artists he’s worked with is extensive and diverse: Ashtray Navigations, RLW, Das Synthetische Miscgewebe, Masami Kawaguchi, Aaron Moore, BJ Nilsen, Kommissar Hjuler, Eddie Prevost, Crank Sturgeon and on and on… rock bands, noise artists, electro-acoustic composers, improvisers… Courtis seems to possess a chameleonic versatility in his post-Reynols music, which I find myself enjoying more than I did the band with which he made his name. “Cuspa Llullu” is Courtis’ second collaboration with Daniel Menche. It’s a fruitful enough pairing that I’m glad they decided to explore it further. Their first record, “Yaguá Ovy”, came out in 2011 and was split between one percussion-based side and one of doom-metal guitar crunch. This new one also contains two sidelong slabs of sound, two separate pieces that are quite appropriate as two sides of a vinyl LP. Both pieces have percussive elements, not as pronounced as on the duo’s first record but not absent either. The first side, “Sumac T’ikraq”, begins with what sounds at first like doom-metal guitar atmosphere, eventually morphing into rolling simmer of heavy chains and passages of lovely shimmer. The second side, “Achka T’asla”, is the show-stopper… a patient coalescence of gently rolling feedback textures and what seems like an auto manufacturing plant in a giant laundry dryer… massive metal clank and hot-air blast in a slow, violent churn. Listening deeply into the sounds, I can hear loads of production detail, layers of metal-on-metal screech riding atop cascading overtone and guitar heroics. (HS) 
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In 2015 three men talked about Oilmen and in 2017 started to play music. They knew each other from the Bristol “swing-jazz-noise-rock quintet The Wailingfest Cats”. They are Carruthers on baritone guitar and vocals, Zak Weppelin on drums & vocals and BB Cash on sax and vocals. While I enjoy the eight pieces on this release quite a lot, I don’t think this is something for Vital Weekly. Sure, there is an element of improvisation in the music, but throughout Oilmen are more a post-punk group than anything else, with some great solid songs. You could add a bit of noise rock to that, a bit of no wave and a bit of Monthy Python. There is quite the absurd streak to the way the music is played and the way all three of them use their voices. I am reminded of The Ex, but then with a saxophone (well, they used that too, but here it is an integral part of the music) in the mid-80s. This might be a way of saying, “See, I have no idea what I am talking about”. The production is a great one, loud and clear. I can imagine that concerts by them are quite the event. Great! Exciting music but a bit out of place here. If drones and ambient and improvisation occasionally bore you then check this out. It will brighten your day. (FdW)
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While I have no idea who Havadine Stone is, other than someone who has releases on Reserve Matinee and Lurker Bias as well, I found her (and this is just based on the use of a female voice on this release) work interesting, confusing and strange. Things open up with ‘Kitchen’, some far away TV is picked up and very subtle high piercing tones are mixed in, but then ‘Somewhat Shell’ sees her singing almost a folk song and the instrumental bit is some sort percussive rumble, but again, far away; towards the end, a piano and birds are singing, ending very abruptly. ‘Flint Breath’ starts loud with a bunch shells being crushed on a concrete floor, crushed to pieces but becomes a very silent piece of very obscure object mangling and surface scanning with a microphone, and then ‘Cream Petal’ is a spoken word piece. It is followed by ‘Baltic’, another very obscure piece of field recording around the house, ending with ‘Singing Along With YouTube Video Of Peggy Lee’s Where Or When’, which is what it is, but with the voice almost towards overload. It all sounds pleasantly confusing and strange. It is hard to say what it is about, but it all sounds very personal, for reasons I am not entirely clear about myself. It also works very well as a continuous piece of music, moving from these very obscured field recordings (if that is what it is) and the vocal pieces. Poetic, is perhaps the word they use for such things. (FdW)
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Behind Guybrush, we find Francesco Ameglio, who is from Turin in Italy. He studied at the Institute of Sonology in The Hague, lived in Paris and Montreal doing sound for video games and in 2015 he helped starting the SØVN label. I had not heard of him before. I am told that for his work he is interested in “sonic failures, incorrect compositional choices and how sound can be used as a radical tool to explore the capitalistic structure of our society. Bewitched by real and virtual interactions he considers computers as an all-encompassing instrument to convey a constant state of uncertainty through sounds”. If you think that this leads to some sort of Oval-like skipping sounds, you are wrong, as the music is more a work of live-sampling meeting electro-acoustic music and musique concrete in a chill-out room. The music was composed in Spain while working on a temporary job there, and Amgelio felt lonely in the city (without perceiving it as positive or negative) and thought about his homeland. The six pieces have a refined ambient quality to them; quite spacious all-around the edges. The weird thing, however, is that all of these pieces are quite short. You could say, ‘concise’ or ‘to the point’, but the longest is three minutes and thirty-three seconds and the shortest exactly a minute shorter than that. That means the whole release clocks in less than eighteen minutes, which I thought was rather short. Not sure if I hear any of that ‘lost in a big city, far away from home thing’ in the pieces, but I didn’t. I enjoyed the pleasant and somewhat unsettling ambient character of these pieces, while trying to figure if I would want shorter pieces similar to this, or perhaps these to be longer, all the time having these six on a repeat play-back mission. The jury is not out on this. Great tape though! (FdW)
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JAN KEES HELMS – RAW #01 (cassette by Lor Teeps)

In the ’80s, Helms worked as Post Mortem and Contact T.B.D., and much later, when playing the guitar, he called it StringStrang. Under his birth name, he is now active with field recordings and in-situ performances. The guitar project was already in a more ambient direction; with this recent work, it is all about an even more radical listening experience. His performances are small, for a few people only, and quite often outside, so all the sounds around the place become part of it. On this cassette, however, we find no performance recordings but collages of sounds recorded on location. And they are two quite different locations. On the first side, there is ‘Het Huis – Nervistraat 3’ and on the other side there is ‘Time Is Elastic’, a collage of field recordings made in “Amersfoort, Terschelling, The Hague, Wandebourcy and somewhere in the train in North Holland”. In the latter, there is both abstract sound and realistic sound. At various points we hear demonstrations against fascism and pro-refugees, so we know where Helms stand (not that this is a big surprise; his previous work always showed political engagement, leaning toward left-wing politics). There are also sounds, which are harder to define when it comes to the sources. A book, ‘Stil De Tijd’ by Dutch philosopher Joke Hermsen, inspired the music but I haven’t read that one. I would think it is all about creating a contrast between the busy daily life (train, demonstration) and the quiet surrounds of nature (water and wind recordings). It is despite the political connotations an interesting listening experience. Sometimes similar can be said from the other side, which has a more musique concrete approach. I am not sure if this is a house that is empty/abandoned, but I would think so. The floorboards, wallpaper and leaky pipes are all recorded beautifully and recordings are spliced together, even when it all stays on pretty much a similar dynamic level throughout. This is a slightly rougher edge to it, as Helms works his way through the house in a sort of deconstructing modus. Everything is sound, everything is music. All you need is to listen. (FdW)
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WETHER – HEIR BUD (cassette by Strategic Tape Reserve)
Q///Q – VANGUARD YOUTH (cassette by Strategic Tape Reserve)

Although I enjoy the releases by Strategic Tape Reserve quite a bit, the sad thing, for me at least, is there is never a lot of information on their Bandcamp page. Jliat reviewed music from Mike Haley, also known as Wether once before, in Vital Weekly 571 and upon checking Discogs it turns out there are a lot more releases available, on labels as No Horse Shit, 905 Tapes, Crucial Bliss. Turgid Animal, Scumbag Relations and Knife In The Toaster, 91 releases in total. As far as I judge such matters, I would think Wether operates at the noise end of the musical spectrum, and on the second side (both sides are untitled) that is perhaps also the case; lots of samples are used, silly ones mostly, and they are fed through a wild range of sound effects and the result is a noisy barrage of chaotic sounds. It is similar to watching two movies while the radio is on, the computer also and the speaker’s on a monitor. It is okay, I guess, for the eleven minutes this lasts. Of more interest, I found the piece on the other side of the disc, with its stuttering rhythm and delay pedal work reminding me of early zoviet*france, and crude, lo-fi, low-resolution sampling (particular fond memories of the Casio SK-5 there). That was all quite good. Is there more akin to this from Wether?
Also no information on Q///Q, which may lead to old Dutch people remembering as ’70s children’s program ‘Q&Q’, but this is something different. I have no if this is a group or a solo project and judging the music, I still don’t know. The songs are three minutes or less (mostly), which is an indication for a pop song. An electronic pop song, that is. There are rhythm machines, synthesizers and that slightly deeper voice that was popular in the ’80s. These are not quirky up-tempo songs (say, early Depeche Mode), but rather dark and dramatic. There is a fine streak of ambient synthesizers in play as well, certainly, towards the end, there are some songs with some larger instrumental parts. This is the third-millennium variation of what we call Minimal Wave when pointing out solo musicians from the ’80s playing one drum machine and one synthesizer and not too proficient on the vocal part. Labels such as Minimal Wave build an entire catalogue of stuff such as Q///Q, even when it’s all less stomping here. You could have parked this on a blog and called it a surprising find from the ’80s and surely somebody would believe you. I found it all solid material, maybe a bit too dramatic at times, but well played and well produced and being a sucker for the old sound anyway, this was most enjoyable. (FdW)
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