Number 1256

COLMORTO – VOLUME 1 (CD by Torto Editions) *
APERUS – ARCHAIC SIGNAL (CD by Geophonic Records) *
DE FABRIEK – REMIXES VOL 10 (CD by De Fabriek) *
INFECTED BURST (CD by Viande Records/Burst Production) *
FRAHR ‎- COURSE(S) CONTRE L’ENFER (CD by Decimation Sociale) *
BOY DIRT CAR – SOLAR MOUNTAIN (CDR by After Music Recordings) *
SUPERROR/XTEMATIC (cassette by Dead Hound Records) *
FERN/YU (cassette by Dead Hound Records) *
ØYVIND BRANDTSEGG – NANCARROW BIOTOPE (cassette by Cronica Electronica) *
TED BYRNES – WITH AND WITHOUT DRUMS (cassette by Grisaille) *
MODELBAU – A THING ABOUT MACHINES (cassette by Grisaille) *
JULIUS MÉNARD – DENSE HISS (cassette by Grisaille) *
JON MUELLER – A PRESENCE HELD (cassette by Grisaille) *

COLMORTO – VOLUME 1 (CD by Torto Editions)

Torto Editions is a young label run by musician Tommaso Rolando from Genoa, a musician who is at home in many musical idioms of jazz, rock, folk, tango, electronic and loves to take part in interdisciplinary art projects. Besides, he has time to start his own label. If the label will have the same scope as his diverse musical activity is too early to say. So far only a handful of releases saw the light. I will concentrate on two of them. Colmorto first. This is a trio of just guitar (Mario de Simoni), bass (Stefano Scarella) and drums (Joel Catchart). But they produce a rich and full sound. Their instrumental music – built from material delivered by Scarella – is full of rock and jazz influences, triggering associations with progrock. This seems in line with Scarella’s earlier activity in the Genoa-based avant-prog band Promenade. I don’t know much about the musical whereabouts of De Simoni and Catchart. Irish-born Cathart has several albums available on his Bandcamp-page. First two tracks of their debut-album are very energetic avant-rock pieces. Not moving on the aggressive and loud side of the spectrum. Their version is a more sophisticated one. This counts for most of the tracks on this surprising release. On the other hand, the cd has several delicate tracks that continue in a jazzy vein, like ‘Elsewhile’ that also has vocals Cathcart and brings back memories of good old Canterbury music. Or even of Robert Wyatt in ‘Inkless Tattoo’ where Cathcart again is singing. Colmorto proves themselves to be a very solid unit of superb performers interacting excellently. With ‘Cepi meets Hic’ we are dealing with very different proportions. Here we are talking of large extended group improvisation in a meeting of two ensembles: France-based The Cepi Nomads and Hic from Genoa. The Cepi Nomads are Barre Phillips (contrabass), György Kurtag (electronics), Laurent Charles (tenor & baritone saxophones), Lionel Garcin (alto & soprano saxophones), Gérard Fabbiani (bass clarinet), Vlatko Kučan (clarinet, sopranino saxophone), François Rossi (drums), Emmanuel Cremer (cello), Patrice Soletti (electric guitar). Hic (Hidden Improvisers Consort) is led by Claudio Lugo (soprano sax) from Genoa with Eugenia Amisano (voice), Pippo Costella (voice), Lorenzo Capello (drums), Marco Traversone (electric guitar), Giulio Gianì (alto & soprano saxophones), Francesco Mascardi (flute, tenor saxophone), Pietro Martinelli (contrabass), Tommaso Rolando (contrabass) and Tina Omerzo (piano, roli). Also, Mario De Simoni (classical guitar) of Colmorto and Torto-boss Mario De Simoni (classical guitar) are both part of this ensemble. Great to see the name of veteran Barre Philips, who is playing professionally since the 60s! No idea he is still playing. Impressive! The Cepi-project is started by him and Enrico Fagnoni to create a meeting point for improvisers in the south of France. Member György Kurtag, by the way, is the son of the composer of the same name. This meeting of both ensembles is an initiative of Philips and Rolando. They recorded a session on February 18, 2019. Mastered by Udi Koomran of Rock in Opposition-fame. All 21 musicians are engaged in one long extended improvisation. Improvisations of this scale often have their own vibe and tension because of the great number of musicians involved. I have no clue how they proceeded. If there was some form of direction or common focus. To make a response in a trio format means something different from in a circle of 20 musicians Together they weave an open free-floating organic improvisation, full of details. Superb intense sections of multi-coloured movements pass by. Great work. (DM)
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Musicians such as Tim Olive release CDs, sure, but their main work is to be found on stage. Not alone, but preferably with a partner; improvising together, exploring uncharted territory. In these days (which I refuse to call ‘strange’) concerts are hardly an option, just as travelling is not possible. On these two new releases, we find the old and the new Olive; one recorded face to face and the other via sound exchange over the internet. I started with that one. Phil Maguire is originally from Scotland, now based in London and works with computers, synthesizers and tape equipment, exploring “emptiness and malfunction, of self and a machine”. He also has a tape label, VerZ Imprint. Olive is working with his trusted magnetic pickups and electronics. Individually they recorded four times ten minutes of solo pieces, which would be stuck together and mixed by Tim Olive. It is a match that works very well. In each of the four pieces, there is an excellent balance between both players and the way they use their sounds. There are moments of silence and there are moments of unrest. Maguire’s synthesizers are minimal yet full of tension and attention. Olive’s contribution is percussive, scratching, hissing and buzzing. There is quite a bit of repetition, not necessarily in the form of rhythm, but as in longer loops of sound that repeat. None of that is on a strict course, so with all the unevenness you hardly notice this, but at one point you can think: I heard that bit of sound before. I was thinking about the whole ‘improvisation from a distance’ thing when hearing all of this. This seemed very structured, and I enjoyed it a lot, but can you still call it improvisation? The jury is not out on that. I enjoyed this release a lot!
    The Old Tim Olive was in Calgary in June 2019 (normally he’s based in Kobe, Japan) and in the Child Stone Studios he recorded music with Chris Dadge, no stranger to these pages. He plays “amplified percussion, small instruments and electronics”, taking here his improvised work a bit further. Both of them use several guitar and bass amplifiers, and we are told that these are the recordings as they were, save for “some slight structural edits and fades”. I know I am supposed to say, but this sounds way more improvised than the other new release. Partly, so I think, that has to do with the way it was recorded; in space and that’s something we can hear. The placement of microphones around the place give both pieces a fine additional colouring. In the first piece (both are untitled, as much of Olive’s output has no title) there is a somewhat crude overlaying of mildly distorted sounds, scraping the objects together as it were, whereas in the second piece, once the ball is rolling, there seem to be all sorts of loops in place; loops, so it seems, of what could wind instruments, wrapped together and around that Olive and Dadge spin together with a likewise curious play of more percussive exploration, rather than some sort of rhythmic game plan. It sounded all very post-punk to me, lifted from the early ’80s, onto a record of improvisation in 2020. Both pieces I thought were great, but especially the second (and longest) blew me away. Odd improvisation, I mused, but who cares how you call it? (FdW)
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APERUS – ARCHAIC SIGNAL (CD by Geophonic Records)

The name Aperus wasn’t new to me, but much to my surprise I see that the first review is already in Vital Weekly 397, which is quite some ago. Over the years I reviewed two more and apart from ‘Hinterland’, I think I pretty much reviewed all of his work. In a time-span of some seventeen years that is not a lot of releases. McWilliams is also a member of Remanence, who also don’t release much, but he’s dividing his time well. The new one has nine pieces and is over an hour long. Behind Aperus we find Brian McWilliams, and he lists as instruments “shortwave radio, software sampler, OB6, Wavestation, Juno 106, Un-O-LX, Prophet 5/VS, Droneo, Synplant, Sunrizer, processed guitar, rattles, field recordings and tape manipulation”. He lives in New Mexico and the La Cienaguilla Petroglyphs was the source for the title. While iTunes pops up with the correct track info, it lists as genre new age, but don’t let that distract you. Aperus’ music is far from new age, and yet firmly rooted in the world of ambient music. Sources as short wave radio give the album a rather nice edge (not an actual shortwave radio but the one that is feeding on a website from the University of Enschede, so if you need a sound source tune in on that). Aperus takes some time to unfold his musical pieces but all but one is never outstaying it’s welcome. ‘Birdsong As Mantra’ is at close to seventeen minutes a bit too long with a rather normal bird song on a loop to hold my interest, but in the other eight pieces, Aperus succeed pretty well in cooking up some highly atmospheric tunes. From what turns out to be the noisiest piece on the release, the opening ‘New Antenna’ to the softest at the end, ‘Afterglow’, this release is quite a trip. Reverb is used quite a bit to suggest that atmosphere, but it used economically. Just enough and never in the way of the piece. Sometimes the synthesizer drifts in a cosmic fashion (sans the arpeggios), such as ‘Phase Shift’ and sometimes field recordings prevail (in ‘Newspaper Rock’). Two pieces are granted a bit of rhythm, which works well in this sparse setting, placing different aspects to a song. Both music and visual approach reminded me of zoviet*france and that is a good thing. Comes with a fine set of additional cards with images and paintings and that tops off a fine product. (FdW)
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DE FABRIEK – REMIXES VOL 10 (CD by De Fabriek)

You never really know what you’re going to get with a De Fabriek album. Over their decades of existence at the fringes of the fringes of the noise/whatever underground, they’ve earned the right to follow their muse(s) and do whatever the heck they want. Which is what they do! That’s led to albums of pounding industrial noise, cassettes of rough cut-ups, ambient drones, and a massive rotating cast of contributors who compose and/or submit sounds to be subsumed by the factory. The only constants are an impressive productivity that hasn’t slowed since 1982 and a guy called Richard van Dellen, who seems to be the foreman. In the case of “Remixes Vol. 10”, which purports to be the final instalment of a series of albums that re-imagine sounds from the amorphous group’s voluminous catalogue, Van Dellen hands remixing duties over to Martijn Hohmann (Universaalkunst). Very little other information is given. We aren’t told which De Fabriek music is remixed (though a more accurate word might be “recomposed”) here. All we get is a list of contributors, some of whom are names I recognize: Frans de Waard (Kapotte Muziek, Modelbau, and Mr Vital of course), Peter van Vliet (of Mekanik Kommando/The Use of Ashes), Chandor Gloomy (Hairs Abyss), Danny Bosten (Das Ding), Jarra Schirris (who records as simply Janna), Klaas Mons (who made a couple of collaborative tapes with De Fabriek in 1989, so I suppose those were source sounds for something on this album… just a guess), Quinten Dierck (Belch) and Rene Paes (Incesticide).
    Perhaps it’s a daunting thought to enter the world of a group that’s been around for such a long time with such a self-referential project as “Remixes”… and so it might be easier (and more accurate?) to think of “Remixes Vol. 10” as a new De Fabriek album that stands on its own. You don’t need to know anything about the group to enjoy this. As a self-contained piece of music, “Remixes Vol 10” is a solid and compelling spin, far more cohesive than the concept might imply.  It’s also quite musical in the generally accepted sense: melodies, instruments (both sampled and played), tight structures and notably soundtrack-like qualities. The acoustic guitar and Middle Eastern-ish strings of the first piece, “Rondgang In Stint”, set a tone that makes it seem like opening credits music for a television program. By the third piece, “Face Your Love”, pulverized voices poke through a mid-tempo electronic beat… then shifts down to the sombre piano lullaby/north African market field recording ambience of “Quicksand Pt 2”. The first blast of genuine abstraction doesn’t appear until the 6th song, “Hostile Planet Approach”, stitched out of tape-manipulated language loops and quick edits between disparate densities. A minute of accordion, then the album slides into deep drone territory on the 12-minute “Drift Carrier Frequency”… and concludes with a return to seemingly-programmatic music on the Muslimgauze-ish “Spaghetti Monster Lament 1954”. That concluding track’s gently percolating electronic percussion, trumpet, flute and overlapping cafe conversations end with a lovely little processed-guitar tune that again seems to point toward a theme that might have titles scroll over it. Surely this can’t be a coincidence; the quasi-cinematic elements strong features of the album, suggesting an oblique drama of some sort.
Taken as a whole, the album’s many sonic avenues are not well served by its generic title; this is an album, intentionally composed with an ear towards implied narrative, more than just the 10th iteration of remixes. But it is also that. Perhaps the strength of this collection will inspire listeners to explore backwards into De Fabriek’s catalogue and start to assess their accomplishments if they haven’t already. (HS)
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From the slow and steady expanding universe of Sound In Silence, two new albums by returning artists. Jon Attwood’s Yellow6 has been around for a long time. Many of his releases never made to these pages, but off and one they do and I quite enjoy them. Like so many others he was at home during the lockdown (which we soon call ‘the first lockdown’, no doubt), with empty streets and very little air traffic from the nearby airport. Attwood did his walks outside and recorded a lot of music, which we now enjoy these new releases. No less than 77 minutes of music, spread over nine tracks. From four to almost nineteen minutes. Primarily Yellow6 is a guitar-based project, along with a bunch of boxes, reverb, delay, chorus but also loop devices and a drum machine. The latter is used sparsely; there are a few pieces in which there is just a guitar and a few effects. This emphasis the emptiness outside, I guess. In the Yellow6 approach towards compositions, he sets forward some drone, processed feedback and on top waves a few melodic lines together. And that’s it, really. Things are sometimes simple and that is enough. As I was playing this on a dreary day that today happens to be, I was enjoying this a lot. I was thinking that those few pieces with a drum machine were not necessary at all; just the guitar tinkling and strumming away is fine enough. This is music that, somehow, somewhere, seems to slow time down, which is something that I find very attractive. I look out over a rainy and very silent street (lockdown? Holiday? Both!) and in the background, there are these beautiful meanderings on the guitar.
    But hold on! I can’t keep this Yellow6 release going all afternoon, can I? Technically, of course, I could, but then you would see a very slim edition of Vital Weekly and since releases by Sound In Silence always arrive in a pair, there is more ambient to be enjoyed, by Jason Sweeny’s Panoptique Electrical. He had two previous releases by this label, ‘Disappearing Music For Face’ (Vital Weekly 1049) and ‘Quiet Ecology’ (Vital Weekly 1112). As the title suggests we have pian music here. The number five refers to the five pieces on this release, all of which were composed for theatre and installation works. “The brief with many of these compositions was to create space and quietness but also to thread together a prepared piano sound evocative of weather shifts, radio frequencies, pulsation of electromagnetic vibrations and a resignation to human sadness”. It is not for me to say if Sweeny uses a real ‘prepared’ piano, or perhaps there have been processed piano’s at work here, but it doesn’t matter; the way they sound is prepared/processed enough for me. This results in some very intimate music, sparse all around. It is, oddly enough, perhaps, a different kind of sparseness as with Yellow6, who doesn’t seem to allow for much silence, whereas Panoptique Electrical options for a quiet approach throughout these five pieces. In each of these pieces, there is a bit of melody, slow, repeating and with the sound of piano removed it has a more percussive feeling to it (which is why John Cage first prepared the piano; to generate a more percussive sound), especially in the beautiful closing piece ‘Night Dance’. Electronics play a minor role here, but are not entirely absent either, most notably in ‘Spiral Song’. As the afternoon progressed, the rain disappeared, clouds were gone and a mild sun is out, for as long as the day lasts and the watery tones of the piano continue here. Excellent release! (FdW)
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[wiki:] “A shibboleth is any custom or tradition, usually a choice of phrasing or even a single word, that distinguishes one group of people from another. Shibboleths have been used throughout history in many societies as passwords, simple ways of self-identification, signalling loyalty and affinity, maintaining traditional segregation, or protecting from real or perceived threats.” I need to quote some more words, from Bandcamp, to shed a light on this, and I’m sorry for not being able to summarize it myself. “The 15 shibboleths written down for this installation do not really stand for symbolic things or events. They are more of subtle emotions and feelings, or day-to-day sight of daily experience that pass by so easily, that haven’t even been verbalized yet. I asked 25 friends with totally different backgrounds—ages, language, nationality, religious beliefs and sexualities— to choose their favourite phrase to recite. Though the words emanated are unreliable and vulnerable for its unfamiliar language, they are also fresh and straightforward, like the babbling of a baby.” This CD lasts seventy-one minutes and contains these words, phrases, shibboleths if you will are spoken in Japanese, in some gallery space; at one point an ambulance or police car passed. My command of the Japanese language is non-existent. There is not much by of other sounds or music, just the voices saying words (etc.), all, and that was curious, sounding quite similar. I don’t think I was having thought this involved 25 different voices. I thought this was a most conceptual release; good or bad don’t apply. You can play this with great interest and contemplate its meaning and maybe you will never ‘get’ it (I surely think I won’t), or have it as a piece of background ‘music’, removing silence or loneliness. (FdW)
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Guitarist Gianmaria Aprile is part of the group Luminance Ratio (Vital Weekly 703827 and 898) and now releases his first solo CD (also available on LP). There are eight untitled pieces here and they flow right into the next. Having said that, Aprile is not interested that much in keeping one sound going, but rather let his guitar sing and ring whatever suits him best. There is also the use of a guqin (a Chinese instrument) and some effects (as listed but he thanks also someone for the borrowing him a cello…). Aprile makes use of the ebow quite a bit and that gives the overall approach to drone music, but it is not in the interest of Aprile to do play steady and sustaining sounds all the time. He rather likes a more vibrant sound, letting drones come in and escape while looping them on the spot, which enables him to pluck a few strings on the guqin. It is quite introspective music, one to play on repeat for some time and do nothing at all. Sounds and tones arriving sparsely and explored a little before disappearing again, making some elegant moves. Meanwhile, it rains here.  (FdW)
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INFECTED BURST (CD by Viande Records/Burst Production)

Viande Records from Italy is best known for a more radical take on the world of improvised music, usually involving one or more members of A Spirale and Aspec(t). This one is not different, Mario Gabola, who plays in both bands the saxophone teams up with the two members that make up Burst. Tom Detesta on samples and electronics and Emilio Berne on drums and spinners. Gabola gets credit for “feedback sax and electronics”. Infect Burst tries to combine “hip hop rap song and radical noise improvisation”. As I have zero knowledge of hip hop or rap music, I am not sure if they succeed in that respect, but I can see some of that in the way they sample voices and try to adopt a hip hop rhythm here and there (I may have heard some). The aspect of radical free improvisation can’t be missed here and as such the balance is more on that side of the musical spectrum than on the hip hop side. There are many vocals around here anyway, but they are (a few guests are credit for this, and I assume for some vocal contribution). I think Detesta is the one responsible for some samples of scratched records (another sign of the hip hop influence). All of this is played with some furious intent and the thirteen tracks take about thirty-six minutes. Many of these songs are short and to the point. A controlled explosion of energy; or perhaps a rather uncontrolled one. That is not easy to say. Somehow I don’t think they will win over hip hop fans to enjoy this, but for those who love free improvisation, this certainly holds a few surprises. The samples, for one, aren’t that obvious and the occasional continuous rhythm is an odd-ball in the free improvisation world. It all works quite well, and according to the information, they will be on tour. I am sure they are going to raise hell. (FdW)
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FRAHR ‎- COURSE(S) CONTRE L’ENFER (CD by Decimation Sociale)

Here we have two examples of outsider music with shock value. I think it is correct to say that Frahr (there is a dot on the ‘a’, which I can’t find on this keyboard) is an extension of Micro_penis. They are a quartet from France, consisting of Alexandre Kittel, Claude Spenlehauer, François Heyer and Ogrob, and in Frahr they are helped by Roro Perrot )Vomir), Yves Botz (also known as Youri Potlatch, from the Dust Breeders) and Gregory Henrion (also known as Angstrom). I started with the LP. I heard music by Micro_penis (I tried Googling more about the band, which wasn’t easy, but I learned a lot about small male genitalia) before, which is beyond easy description. Improvisation, bien sur, but with an attitude that they have no idea what they are doing (and that also made me suspicious; they probably have a clear idea of what they are doing). Lock’m up in a room with any instruments, and they will leave the room, holding a recording in their hands. There is quite a bit of room for the use of ‘vocals’, I would think by all four of them. Screaming, drooling, spitting, non-sense vocals, sound poetry (you don’t have to call it…), sounding like a bunch of lunatics on the loose. There is a bit of noise, however never really loud, and sometimes there is an introspective moment. They use percussion here, small synths, guitar, brass instruments and… I don’t know what I am saying here; I. might be barking up the wrong tree altogether. So, when you could say these boys can’t really play, they also produce something that I find quite captivating. It is that uncontrollable madness and chaos, the insanity (and yes, I am sceptical enough to realize this might all be an ‘act’) of it, but also the sheer musicality of this madness. Excellent LP!
    And how does it work if the insanity is almost doubled? As I said, you can see Frahr as an extension of Micro_penis, as the band is mentioned as such on the cover and not the four individual members. While some music is very much along similar lines as Micro_penis, I do think there is some ‘doubling’ to be noticed. A bit more chaos, as well as a bit more intensity and noise-based. Sometimes I had the impression that the other three brought some more electronics to the table and the various ‘instruments’ (and yes, still no idea what they might be) also used got snowed under. Here too there is the curious mix of total chaotic free improvisation, lots of shouting (etc.) and yet also some quite introspective moments such in ‘A La Source’ and ‘N’Aie Pas Peur, Suturation’. The pieces are short and to the point, somewhere between two and a half and four-some minutes. This brings some great energy to the record, especially as some quiet and some a lot of less, so there is quite a variation in these pieces. This would have been a great LP also, I think; now, the thirty-four minutes of the CD feels a bit short. (FdW)
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You may not immediately recognize the name Jan van den Broeke. But flip the cover over and you’ll see a bunch of names listed that one may recognize; well, that is if one is into the world of ancient cassette releases. The Misz is one those obscure minimal synth projects, from Belgium and Van den Broeke was part of it. This LP is a collection of old and new music by Van den Broeke, spanning over thirty years. From The Misz from 1984-85 to June11, his post-2000 project, to Absent Music (back to 1986-87) and Canto de Mudo, with a piece from 2019. It is interesting to hear that in all these years and with various names there are certain characteristics to be noted in the music of Jan van den Broeke. One is the throughout the more ambient sound of the pieces, even when synthesizers and rhythm machines are at play here. It is not the usual more brittle sound that one has from minimal synth records. The other thing is that in many of his songs (for that is what they are), the voices are usually not really all out singing but rather talking, parlando style. There are also small differences. With various songs by The Misz and June11, the presence of the guitar is notable but absent in Canto de Mudo and Absent Music. The Misz and June11 seem, thanks to the presence of other musicians also have a fuller sound spectrum. Looking at the notes on the cover and the insert almost all the songs are collaborations with others; only one is solo. Van den Broeke has a penchant for using vocalists (among which we find Nadine Bal of Bene Gesserit on one song), while playing a variety of instruments himself. His June11 music is smoother, more delicate if you will than some older music, but I guess that comes with the advancement of technology, but a certain smoothness was already apparent in the old days. That is, perhaps, what sets the music from Jan van den Broeke apart from the more ‘traditional’ minimal synth approach. It also shows a very fine continuum in the music of this man and hopefully going on for some time to come. (FdW)
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Shoegaze appears to have undergone a revival over the past few years. Granted, it never went away, but since around 2013 it has really upped its game and started to sound as exciting as it when the first time around. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the first Lore City album, ‘Absence & Time’, was also released in 2013. That album was largely overlooked by anyone who wasn’t deep in the scene. Which is a shame as it sounded like Ride covering ‘Street Fighting Man’ with Lydia Lunch on vocals. This was followed up by the ‘Kill Your Dreams’ album the following year. Then Lore City vanished. Some feared this would be all we’d have from Laura Mariposa and Eric Bessel, others hoped they’d return. Six years later their third album is unleashed on the world.
    ‘Alchemical Task’ builds on their deliriously gorgeous albums but adds extra layers of noise and tenderness to the proceedings. ‘Separateness’ feels like the bands most personal song to date. Opening with mournful piano before Mariposa starts to croon “How that wheel’s gonna spin Revealing what we’ve come to be” gracefully. As the song progresses piercing guitars are released into the mix. They totally change the dynamic of the song. It goes from being this serene piano piece into this off-kilter ballad instantly. ‘Beacon of Light’ opens with swoony swaths of sounds. At times it feels like a musical version of lying on your bed with the lights out after a big night out and feeling the room undulating around you. There is nothing you can do to stop it moving, so you just lay there and go with it. However, unlike the feeling of a room spinning ‘Beacon of Light’ is over too soon.
    There are nods to Angelo Badalamenti throughout. Not necessary homages to specific songs, but subtle nods to the way he constructs the mood of his music. The songs are slow burns. They contain searing broodiness that immediately makes you take notice. Saying that, you could easily imagine ‘Beacon of Light’ being played in the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks.
    What ‘Alchemical Task’ does really well is update Lore City’s original sound but beef it up with atmospheric backing tracks. In the past, the compositions felt spacious, but now they are just filled with sounds. It isn’t just that everything feels bigger, but the way Mariposa and Bessel have crammed each track with sounds, without it feeling claustrophobic, is immense. It makes the songs come to life and makes repeat listens a joy as there is always something new to pick out. The downside is that at times the backing tracks overpower Mariposa’s vocals and make them slightly inaudible. Which is a massive shame. Her vocals can be a thing of beauty and not to hear them properly feels criminal. Let’s hope that ‘Alchemical Task’ is the start of Lore City releasing music more regularly and we don’t have another six-year wait between albums… (NR)
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BOY DIRT CAR – SOLAR MOUNTAIN (CDR by After Music Recordings)

“Solar Mountain”, the latest by long-running Midwestern unit led by Darren Brown and Julie Unruly, is an album of simmering anger that reminds me of all the weird parts of Swell Maps records stitched together and used as background for industrial-dub dirge jams. “Solar Mountain” has a live-in-the-studio (which might, by the sound of the acoustics, be a garage of some sort) urgency to it, which is fitting for an album recorded this Spring in South Minneapolis amid protests for racial justice while Covid-19 accelerated its grim march across the world. Slow-burn rage permeates the album. It’s apparent in the overall mood, but also in song titles like “New Civil War”, “Burn It Down”, “Removing the King”, “Total Darkness”… though there are also puzzling references to Australia (“Hobart City Hall”, “Tasmanian Sunset”) and one track named after the London apartment where Mama Cass, Keith Moon and Harry Nilsson died (not all at the same time, natch). I don’t understand how those latter ideas fit into the bigger picture, but maybe I shouldn’t read too much into it. Most of the none songs run into one another to give the effect of a single performance edited into sections, unified by an atmosphere of snarling bitterness and gloom. The music is slow and plodding, the ooze occasionally congealing into song-adjacent forms interspersed with police sirens, radio interference and sporadic machine grind with echo slathered on everything. The primitive, 1/4-speed rhythm section seems to have been recorded in a concrete room with a single microphone for maximum raw immediacy. Brown’s voice intones tape-delay-smeared slogans and exhortations (“What do you have to say?!” “What will you do for me?!” “Take it somewhere else!” “Make the change, remove the king!”) amid a sea of amp buzz and feedback. I liked this album very much, but also couldn’t help but wonder what the same songs would sound like if they were recorded in a professional studio with multiple microphones on the instruments, proper mixing, a producer etc. “Solar Mountain” is certainly worthwhile on its own… but it also could be a series of demos for a label willing to throw money at the band. Somebody ought to. (HS)
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Ten weeks ago, I reviewed ‘A Beautiful Day To Die’ by Jonathan Forde’s Delphium project and that marked a return for him after a long period of silence. But he’s back and brings us another EP. I have no idea why this was copied on a DVDR, as it contained four pieces in .wav format, which may not be that different from a regular CD. As a follow-up to that rather short album, there is now an EP with four songs, spanning sixteen minutes. It could have been called ‘A Beginner’s Guide To Delphium”, as these four pieces show the various sides of his work. ‘Acroyear’ and ‘Decay Release’ are two pieces in which Delphium displays his feedback guitar sound against a slow but nasty rhythm sample (although more of a sample in the first, whereas in the second it sounds like real drums; I am sure they are not, in both cases). ‘Ambient Acroyear’ is ambient music but Delphium styled; lots of reverb thrown around, against a wall of drones. Not your quiet, mind escaping soundscape, but the soundtrack of being holed up too long. The last piece is ‘Microman’ is the drum ‘n bass variety that Delphium also did, which was my least favourite incarnation of his work. Here it revolves too much around two samples, drum pattern and synth, to be interesting. As far as I am concerned, this is something that needs no further exploration. Otherwise, it is great to see Delphium alive and well! (FdW)
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SUPERROR/XTEMATIC (cassette by Dead Hound Records)
FERN/YU (cassette by Dead Hound Records)

There are already quite a few releases by Dead Hound Records from Edinburgh, these three are my first encounter with this. All three are split cassettes, and I believe I only recognized the name Territorial Gobbing.
    I started with the cassette by Xtematic and supERROR (as they prefer to spell it). The first is from Croatia (and were reviewed by Jliat before, in Vital Weekly 856) and the latter from Austria. They do a remix of sound material from the other. Bandcamp will give you list of that source material, which in the case of supERROR is all unreleased and Xtematic all sorts of material, which you can no doubt find it look for it. To start with the B-side, Xtematic is clearly the noisier project of the two, but they don’t leap that easy into a barrage of noise. Their (?) approach is all about cutting and pasting various bits and bobs together in some sort of crude cut-up process. I was reminded of Merzbow during SCUM, in which he started to cut up various multi-track tapes of his work and stick them together randomly. Something similar is done here and it works just because it is almost thirty minutes long; it is almost a subconscious stream of noise. On the first side, supERROR has also a few noise tricks up their sleeve, but it seems they (?) are a bit more concerned when it comes to composing with the noise at hand. In “Enter The Game’, their longest piece, they cleverly build up from almost silence to quite fiery noise, but never HNW. There is a fine variation in approaches here.
    The second split is something different, less noise. First, we have Fern, from Sweden. A one-person operation, I would think. The piece ‘(A)live In Isolation’ is, so we are told, recorded without the use of a DAW, which stands for Digital Audio Workstation. Usually that bit of software which allows you to record various channels and mix these. But as the title implies here, this is the work of a live recording. I have no idea what kind of instruments are used here, but I would think it is heavy on the synthesizers. These are played in a combination of ambient and glitch, with a bit of rhythm in the third part, ‘Ex Ipsis’ (if I am not mistaken; all tracks fade into the next). Despite using the word ambient, the whole thing is rather lo-fi in approach. Quite nice, but with some room for improvement. Yi is Stuart Peters from Glasgow and one-half of The Fear. His music is much louder, sometimes bordering on distortion, which I thought was a pity because it took away some aspects of the music. Primarily it is the guitar that howls about here, but there are also beat-oriented pieces (nothing to dance to though) and then it all moves towards crude outer space version of techno music, but with a lot of guitars, and still too much distortion. The best is at the end when he goes all out on his mellow guitar sound and mucho reverb to create a fine trip in sound.
    We return to the world of noise. First through the music of Territorial Gobbing from Leeds. I reviewed some of his work before, which has all to do with the manipulation of sounds stored on Dictaphones. First, these are processed with various digital tools, and then they are copied back to Dictaphones to enhance the lo-fi approach. By switching buttons on the playback one can speed up the sound and create a crude form of musique concrète. One track is called ‘Caroliner Rainbow Record In Poor Condition For Sale’, which is perhaps something of an influence for him. It has a raw feel to it, very direct, almost as of was captured during a concert. This trip into the land of Dead Hound Records we end with Plastiglomerate, a project by “Thomas Tyler that began as a response to a condition he believes is descending into further simulation, and a search for “truth” in the age of post data”. Armed with electronics he sets out to play a barrage of noise that is harking back to the days of power electronics. Lots of screaming… voices or synthesizers? Perhaps both. But it is not exclusively just that. In ‘We Sing For The Grain’, there is some guitar abuse over slowed down voices. In the other three pieces, it is full on brutal noise onslaught. An ear cleaner at the end of this. (FdW)
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ØYVIND BRANDTSEGG – NANCARROW BIOTOPE (cassette by Cronica Electronica)

Conlow Nancarrow “was an American-born composer who lived and worked in Mexico for most of his life. He became a Mexican citizen in 1956. Nancarrow is best remembered for his Studies for Player Piano, being one of the first composers to use auto-playing musical instruments, realizing their potential to play far beyond human performance ability. He lived most of his life in relative isolation, and did not become widely known until the 1980s.” Brandtsegg orchestrated this piece for the Pipe Organ, Disklavier and electronics. It is a combination of “mechanic instruments in combination with improvisation software”. This cassette contains two recordings of this piece, in Stavanger and Trondheim. It would be great if I could say something about the original about this version, but sadly I can’t. I have very little idea about the working of classical music, that can’t be secret I would think, and so it is not easy to review this work. The seventeen pieces are in total some seventy-five minutes of music of highly rhythmic and dense church organ sounds, perhaps more so than I would think this is a work of software. The piano is replaced by the Disklavier and it is all very modern classical music to these ears. It is probably great music, but a bit too far outside the scope of Vital Weekly. (FdW)
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TED BYRNES – WITH AND WITHOUT DRUMS (cassette by Grisaille)
MODELBAU – A THING ABOUT MACHINES (cassette by Grisaille)
JULIUS MÉNARD – DENSE HISS (cassette by Grisaille)
JON MUELLER – A PRESENCE HELD (cassette by Grisaille)

At just shy of 20-minutes ‘With and Without Drums’ is one of the shortest albums I’ve reviewed for a while. As the title suggests the album comprises of Ted Byrnes either playing with or without, drums. The first side is Byrnes just going at it on a kit. The first thing you notice is the speed at which Byrnes is playing. Only by listening to his sticks, not the drums, do we have an idea of what he’s really doing. There is also no natural rhythm to it so the first few moments you don’t know what world kind of world you’ve walked into. And this is where the joy from the album comes from. Even after repeat listens you never quite know what is going to happen, especially on the second side ‘Without’. Compared to the B-Side, the A-Side feels like listening to Gene Krupa. What ‘Without’ effectively does is demonstrate Ted Byrnes’ proficiently at cacophony. Byrnes is playing anything and everything that comes to hand, like a kitchen/junkyard orchestra. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t, but he never lingers long for the rhythms to outstay their welcome. ‘With and Without Drums’ is a captivating album that never really sounds the same on repeat listens as you are constantly picking out new sounds and rhythms.
    The beauty of ‘A Thing About Machines’ is that it’s a slow burn. At times it feels like a freezer burn as the melodies move with glacial slowness, but this is a good thing. What this gives us it plenty of time to enjoy the subtle changes in tone that Modelbau makes. All of these sounds and tones creates a soundscape akin to the Arctic wilderness. Everything is white and cold. Nothing is moving, but occasionally on the horizon, there is a brief flurry of movement and then stillness again. The way that Modelbau operates, or operates to me that is, is he starts with a base tone/drone. Then let it run for a few moments, sometimes longer, then starts to bring in new sounds and tones underneath is. Once he’s happy with it, he’ll either start to alter the original, by gracefully fading it out, or tweaking it slightly before bringing in another new element, so that you end up with a densely layered deep drone. Near the end of ‘II’ Modelbau brings in this swirling, wispy sound that conjures up imagines of snow being blown across the tundra.
    Remember when you were a child and you went to a disco in a school hall, and the smoke machine was switched on for the first time and the DJ let out more than he should. The whole dancefloor was totally engulfed by this slowly advancing cloud. You could still see the flashing lights behind it, and the silhouette of the DJ giving it loads, but it moved like a living thing. Mercilessly covering anything in its path under a blanket of smoke. This is the feeling I get when I listening to Julius Ménard’s ‘Dense Hiss’ album. The music is emanating from the speakers like a mist. Covering everything with a light coating of granular dust. There is something wonderful that happens around the halfway mark on ’Dystopian Summer’. These elegant synth swirls culminate in a billowing soundscape that is rich and dense but at the same time, you can see through it. As the tape progresses the mist begins to clear a bit and you can start to make out melodic shapes lucking just out of view. The album closes with the 20-minute ‘Early Encounter’. Everything that has come before it is represented. Deep tones, gossamer synths, and a feeling of gentle malaise. You know that things aren’t quite right, but there is still enough time to switch them back. As it progresses wisps of vocals are heard along with percussion rattles. These sounds add an extra layer of texture that was missing from the initial two songs, but you didn’t realise they were missing until now though. Oddly ‘Dense Hiss’ doesn’t actually live up to its name as there is little, to no, hiss on the album, but there is a continual feeling of something being releases slowly, most prominently in the last few minutes of ‘Early Encounter’.
    There really is something mesmerising about ‘A Presence Held’ the new tape by Jon Mueller. During ‘Endlessness’ there appear to be at least three separate things going on at any given time. Normally this would result in a feeling of unease and confusion, but here it feels strangely normal. During the final third ‘Endlessness’ there is the noise of a cymbal either slowly spinning to a stop on the floor, some synths that have been manipulated and skewed, and a continuous tone that appears to last the whole song. Together that creates a feeling of unease. Much like when you are being gaslit. You know that something isn’t right. You know that you’ve, probably, not done anything wrong but somehow things are conspiring against you. Of course, Mueller isn’t trying to make us question our own sanity, but he does create an environment when things don’t feel 100% normal. What marks this tape out from a slew of others is the way Mueller pushes the sound round and round in ominous hypnotic circles. It’s a masterstroke. Through constantly moving the music round and round Mueller can make fairly stoic synths sound dynamic. This is another strong release from a label still in its infancy that knows exactly what it’s about both visually and sonically, but also where it wants to go in the future. Yet again Grisaille delivered something we needed but didn’t realise we wanted. (NR)
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