Number 1257

ULRICH TROYER – NOK 2020 (CD by 4Bit Productions) *
BEN CHATWIN – THE HUM (CD by Village Green Recordings) *
GUSTAVO COSTA – LASTRO (CD by Sonoscopia) *
REINHOLD FRIEDL – KRAFFT (CD by Zeitkratzer Productions) *
EUPHOTIC – ISOPLETHS (CD by Public Eyesore) *
ΚΥΜΑΤΙΚΗ ΑΘΗΝΏΝ – ΥΠΝΟΔΡΟΜΙΟ (LP by Same Difference Music) *
FROND – ALWAYS THERE, SOMEWHERE (cassette by Esc.Rec.) *


This is the first official release by the Black Glass Ensemble, following an online, free work in which people submitted the B Minor chord for further editing and mixing. That was a work crafted during the lockdown, but on this first CD we find a recording from the Queen’s hall in Edinburgh, from February this year. In the ensemble we find founder Michael Begg (“scores, samples, data feeds, erosions”), Ben Ponton (of zoviet*france fame, “receivers, recordings, lapsteel guitar and forensics”), Clea Frined (cello), Aisling O’Dea 9violin), Julia Lungu (violin), Neil Cuthbertson (trumpet) Jen Cubertson (French horn) and Douglas Caskie (tuned and bespoke percussion). If you are familiar with Begg’s ‘other’ work, sometimes carried out as Human Greed, although in recent years he prefers his own name and being an important part of Fovea Hex, then this new work is perhaps less of a surprise, and something that can be seen as an extension of the other work. The music is very ambient and highly atmospheric, but this time Begg arrives there from a more modern classical music perspective. While the press texts talks about such things as “atmospheric receivers and live-streaming data from environmental and earth observation agencies”, this is perhaps not always clear from the music. Surely, there is atmospheric disturbance that we hear, such as the beginning of the first piece, but quite soon the instruments take over, and they some delicate music; perhaps I should write ‘mournful tunes’, as it all sounds quite ‘sad’. No doubt, that reflects the state of the environment these days, a requiem if you will for time to come. I understand that much of the Black Glass Ensemble deals with what Begg and Ponton bring to the table, but it is not always easy to hear. Now, that is not complaining; far from it, as I enjoyed this very much. It reminded me at times of the music by Arvo Part, but then with the addition of ‘electronics’. However, at the same time I am also curious to hear what the two of them would come up, when there aren’t many other instruments. Maybe that is against the rules? Let’s see; this is a most promising start. (FdW)
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One of the first things you notice about ‘Smaller Sad’, the new album by Susanna Gartmayer and Christof Kurzmann is how roomy it feels. I’m not saying there is enough space to house a 10ft sofa, couple of armchairs, a pool table that doesn’t encroach on a Persian rug, but there is definitely more space than your first room at uni. With this space, Gartmayer and Kurzmann can give their compositions room to move and grow. If the songs were tightly packed, claustrophobic things a lot of the enjoyment from them would be lost.
    The standout tracks are ‘Little Rage’. Despite its name there is nothing little about this one. Opening with Gartmayer played a fantastically distressed bass clarinet while Kurzmann just builds the tension in the background is a masterstroke. As the tension swells, so does the bass clarinet. The phrases get longer and raspier Kurzmann’s vocals start. They sound like an incantation from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but more glitchy. As they progress, they start to take on the inflexions of the bass clarinet until its hard to tell the two apart. This is one of the most enjoyable portions of the albums, and one I didn’t want to end. As it gradually mutates before our ears the sound of a needle stuck in a records runout starts to kick in. This rhythmic loop adds another level of texture. All the while Gartmeyer has been playing a slightly gentler phrase that gets more abrasive as we reach the song’s conclusion. The end of ‘Little Rage’ sounds like an emergency vehicle siren. But this leads to a question. Is the siren to warn us that it is approaching or that the song is coming to an end?
    ‘Smaller Sad’ is an enchanting album full of twists and turns. Each track offers up a kaleidoscope of sound and texture. Due to the improvisational nature of the recordings sometimes Gartmayer and Kurzmann get stuck in a corner and it takes a while before they figure a way out and back to more interesting avenues. A third of the way through ‘Smaller Forms’ it all feels a tad stagnant. The same clarinet motif is repeated too many times with either little variation from Kurzmann. These moments aren’t unenjoyable but to do throw you off a bit. Saying that, once they get back to the good stuff all is forgiven as the music is glorious. (NR)
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New Hermitage is a quartet from Halifax, Nova Scotia: Andrew MacKelvie (alto & tenor saxophones, bass clarinet), India Gailey (cello), Ross Burns (guitar) and Ellen Gibling (harp). They started their collaboration in 2017 and present with ‘Unearth’ already their fifth CD. Not the usual instrumentation for a free improvising quartet, nor is their music. Except for two compositions – ‘Pine Bottle Skylight’(Gailey) and ‘In Amber’(Gibling) – everything resulted from collective improvisation. Taking inspiration from Deep Listening-principles as developed by Pauline Oliveros the improvisations may sound peaceful and meditative. However the musicians had an apocalyptic perspective in mind while working on this music: “New Hermitage imagines a future in which pollution has decimated the population of the Eart, and dangerously high levels of toxicity have rendered the cities of world uninhabitable.[..] However a few solitary people have returned to the cities. With patience and tenderness, these new hermits balance technology with natural wisdom.” The quartet has an surprising instrumentation for an improvising unit: harp is not often met in contexts like these. This gives their unhurried and modest improvisations its own colouring. Also the sparse electronic modifications by Burns contribute to this. Many of the tracks are very short and sketchy,  like for example ‘Light through the Rubble’ that combines harp with strange electronic effects. Or the even shorter ‘Wind Whistles’ that takes only 1:09, nothing more than an intro…. In 1:12 ‘Skeletons’ seems to evoke Japanese atmospheres before things could be worked out. Opening track ‘Boiling Off, Collecting Vapours’ and ‘Most/Rust’ are both examples of how they use fine melodic elements in their open and reduced textures. ‘Pine Bottle Skylight’ let the sounds disappear into silence, before a new movement appears. The fragmentary and open character of their experimental music is probably aimed for and reflecting the vulnerable human condition that is imagined by New Hermitage. ‘Stalkers’ is a dark and sinister piece that resonates deeply. Because of the title I had associations with the movie ‘Stalker’ by Tarkovsky that is also situated in a post-apocalyptic world. This improvisation fits perfect with the tunnel-scene in that movie! One might expect their intimate chamber music to be very depressive, but in the end it gives positive energy and hope. The pleasure is in the detail and short movements. It is not their intention to let flourish what is in potency hidden in the music. This makes me curious for their next step. (DM)   
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Every now and then Discus Music rereleases an album from the early days of the UK impro- and jazz scene. Earlier for example the label rereleased ‘The Unlonely Raindancer’, a solo album by Keith Tippett that was originally released in 1980. This time it is Tony Oxley’s ‘February Papers’, originally released on the legendary Incus label in 1977. Self-taught drummer Oxley started drumming around 17. In 1963 he started working with Gavin Bryars and Derek Bailey as the Joseph Holbrooke trio. And the rest is history. Dozens of albums document his many musical adventures and collaborations. I have never heard this particular album – that has never been rereleased since – before. And what a beauty it is. And still very relevant and enjoyable too. We hear Tony Oxley (percussion, electronics, violin), Barry Guy (double bass, bass guitar), Philipp Wachsmann (violin), David Bourne (violin) and Ian Brighton (electric guitar) as performers. They perform Oxley’s compositions played by a quartet (Xxley, Wachsmann, Bourne, Guy), a trio (Wachsmann, Brighton, Oxley) and solo (Oxley). I absolutely don’t have a complete overview of his career that spans many decades. But this recording shows he moved away very far from the jazz where he started in the sixties. He demonstrates a great sense for experiment and adventure. Expanding possibilities of combining free improvisation and composed music, combining acoustic sound and electronic modifications. Not losing himself in over the top constructions, but integrating these experiments in improvisations that are very human, lively and engaging. Opening piece ‘Quartet’ starts as an improvisation of string instruments only. A very spirited and dynamic interaction. After a while electronic sounds and patterns intervene, generated by percussive instruments that are connected with electronic and electric tools. I guess it is live electronics. ‘Sounds of the soil’ is a trio of Brighton, Wachsmann and Oxley. The acoustic sounds are heavily treated and manipulated by the electronic devices  what turns their work in a fascinating electro-acoustic work. Solo piece ‘Brushes’ makes you feel ‘inside’ a percussion set, as if Oxley positioned diverse microphones very close to the different instrument. ‘Chant Quartet’ is again an unresistable string-based improvisation combined with manipulated sounds  that add an extra dimension to the music. Closing work ‘On the Edge’ is again a solo work by Oxley. It is a very out-of-the-box work, certainly not something I would expect on a record of improvised music from the 70s. Breathtaking. I don’t know much drummers from those days experimenting with electronic devices. Only ‘Myria Poda’ (1975)  a solo-album of Pierre Courbois  comes to my mind. It is a path that not many drummers have chosen since. That makes ‘February Papers’ – recorded in the studio of  electronic wizard Vangelis Papathanassiou – still a fascinating electro-acoustic work that didn’t lost much of its significance. Thanks to Discus Music for this well-chosen rerelease. (DM)
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Into the Wind is a duo of Robin Engelhard and Andrius Dereviancenko. Dereviancenko grew up in Lithunia. His musical interests led him first to playing the Birbyne, a traditional folk instrument, before switching to saxophone when he has 17. Playing jazz in school bands he studied in Groningen and Amsterdam where he received his degree in Jazz Saxophone. After a short period in Copenhagen, he returned to Amsterdam where he is working and living since. Working in the local scene, but also many international collaborations followed. Robin Engelhard is an Amsterdam-based guitarist, known for example for his own Paaprika quartet, that has Andrius Dereviancenko as well as Pedro Ivo Fereirra (contrabass) and Guy Salamon (drums) on board. Both participate in Son Swagga, an Amsterdam-based psychedelic fusion band. Dereviancenko is also member of Zebra Street Band with John Dikeman, Onno Govaert, a.o.  Ambient jazz maybe a fitting term to say in two words what Engelhard and Dereviancenko are up to as Into the Wind. They are engaged in an intense dialogue with silence. They offer balanced improvisations, with equal participation by both. Their music is of a poetic nature, lyrical , slightly romantic and dreamy. Music with connotations like these often is not very digestible for me. But that does not count for this one.  Their subtle interactions of small movements and gestures pass by like a pleasant breeze. Their strongly evocative improvisations are communicative and inspiring. In the case of Engelhard it is difficult to describe what he in fact is doing. Not so much in fact, but his movements are very effective and focused. His percussive rumbling sounds, short and minimalistic patterns work very well in combination with Dereviancenko’s  beautiful sax playing. Overall the improvisations continue in a quiet pace. No eruptions or big contrasts in dynamics. That is not what they are aiming. They consequently chose for an ambient approach what makes this one a solid and convincing statement at the same time. When choosing for a minimalistic approach you really have to believe in any single note and motive in order to make it work. For sure these two young musicians create a magic that really works. Recorded in Tusheti, a region in northeast Georgia near the Russian border and Amsterdam. (DM)
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North American radical improv outsiders like the Nihilist Spasm Band and the Los Angeles Free Music Society were a huge influence on guitarist Jojo Hiroshige, and by extension on his Alchemy Records label and many of the first-wave Japanese noise artists that revolved around his group, Hijokaidan. Hiroshige has acknowledged and paid tribute to his inspiration by forming relationships with both groups. He reissued NSB’s classic albums on CD and published plenty of their new music on Alchemy. LAFMS’ most apparent influence is the big-band Airway, in whose classic 1978 “Live At LACE” LP one can hear the seeds of Hijokaidan’s feral free-punk roar.
    Airway has always been a wild proposition. Starting as Joe Potts’ solo project for electronic music and subliminal messages, it evolved into a multi-media performance unit consisting of LAFMS all-stars Chip Chapman, Tom Recchion, and a rotating cast of weirdos all blasting away at top volume while Potts manipulates and processes the sounds in real-time. It’s clear to see the impact this sensory assault must have had on a young Jojo Hiroshige, coming up at the intersection of punk, free improv, jazz, performance art and DIY home-taper experiments of the Fifth Column crew and other free spirits in late 70s Kyoto. It was fitting that when a London-based organization called Sound and Music hosted three days of concerts, films and workshops by LAFMS as an event called “The Lowest Form of Music”, Hijokaidan would be among the artists invited to perform. An LP published by Harbinger in 2010 to coincide with the big event contained one performance apiece by each group, recorded in New York (Airway) and Tokyo (Hijokaidan) in 2009. This double-disc reissue includes that LP, plus both groups’ sets from the 2010 event which gives this album its title.
    Airway’s set from 2010 (for which the massive group consisted of Joe and Rick Potts, Tom Recchion, Joseph Hammer, John Duncan, Vetza, Steve Noble, Dennis Duck, Ace Farren Ford, Fredrick Nilsen and, strangely, journalist Takuya Sakaguchi… I wonder what he did?), is an energetic blast anchored in some free-rock moves. The guitars and electronics are loosely exploratory while a solid rhythm section tethers the racket to jazz and rock grooves, providing forward momentum as singer Vetza screams and gibbers wordlessly. It’s a racket, but it’s also engaging and a lot of fun. The audience must have been having fun too since they demanded (and received) an encore. By comparison, Airway’s 2009 set (which retains the Potts brothers, Recchion, Duncan, Vetza, Nilsen and Duck and adds drummers Linda Pitmon and Aaron Moore) is significantly darker and more aggressive than the 2010’s raucous celebration. Both sets seem built on a solid foundation of drums and bass while the rest of the players screech around the edges. The set blasts off with a cascade of pounding percussion and a clarion trumpet solo, doubling is the speed after 15 minutes and eventually coalescing into a Can-like groove (if Can recorded the second half of “Tago Mago” in a wind tunnel). There were stretches when I wanted some elements to drop out and give some players more space, but I suppose that would be counter to Airway’s everything-on-full-blast-all-at-once-all-the-time aesthetic. Ah well. I found myself happily nodding along while shifting my ears’ focus from the peals of feedback to thuggish guitar gunk and mystery roar.
    Hijokaidan’s sound has changed a lot over the years, as should be expected for a group that’s been around as long as they have. Their most drastic sonic shift happened in the early ‘00s when the core of Jojo Hiroshige (guitar), Junko (voice) and T. Mikawa (electronics) began recording with drummers from rock and jazz backgrounds. The 2010 Hijo set features rock drummer Futoshi Okano (from Subvert Blaze) while the 2009 set features free-jazz legend Sabu Toyozumi (who has performed Kaoru Abe, Wadada Leo Smith, Onnyk and Anthony Braxton among many other titans). Both sets also include Mikawa’s Incapacitants partner Fumio Kosakai on additional electronics. The presence of a drummer in Hijokaidan hasn’t always worked for me. On “The Last Recording Album”, the drums seemed to be grafted on from a different group and, for me, rendered Hijo’s sound less powerful as a result. On these recordings, the group seems to have (mostly) figured it out. 2009’s set with Toyozumi is scorching and fierce, the drums adding ceaseless propulsion to the maelstrom. It also sounds as if both Jojo and Junko are on vocal duties, adding to the mood of wild screaming panic/confusion. Those expecting “harsh noise”, though, might be in for a surprise; this era of Hijokaidan channels the freedom-explosion of early 70s Takayanagi, more likely to make listeners pump their fists in the air than withstand gale-force noise or flee from launched buckets of bodily fluids. The 2010 set is not as limber as 2009’s. It’s less focused, with an awkward and unsettling energy. Whereas the 2009 set was a controlled explosion, the 2010 set is a slower grind in which the individual elements are more easily distinguishable. Junko is the MVP of the London performance; her ceaseless shriek is front-and-centre for the entire 26 minutes, a feat of endurance that’s both exhausting and seriously impressive. She seems to be leading the group, holding the music together when Futoshi (who’s good, but he’s no Toyozumi) sounds at times as if he’s lost, searching hesitantly for his pocket of the group sound. Still, this is one hell of a double-disc set, a fascinating document of two heavyweight groups who ought to be well-known to anyone interested in the outer fringes of cathartic large-group noise improvisation. (HS)
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Two CDs by Oxen “Independent label focusing on small releases by artists in the field of noise, harsh-noise and noise-core. Based in Los Angeles, California.” Blind Date three tracks, J-P, four tracks… sadly no bandcamp / soundcloud links, so I must describe! From Deleuze ‘The Logic of Sense’. Tenth series… “the minor game of man,” – “The games with which we are acquainted respond to a certain number of principles… 1) It is necessary that in every case a set of rules pre-exists the playing of the game… 2) these rules determine …what happens if … 3) … Each one of them brings about a fixed distribution corresponding to one case or another. 4) the consequences of the throws range over the alternative “victory or defeat.” The characteristics of normal games are therefore the pre-existing categorical rules, the distributing hypotheses, the fixed and numerically distinct distributions, and the ensuing results…” unlike a “major” game where… “ 1) There are no pre-existing rules, each move invents its own rules… 2) all throws affirm chance and endlessly ramify it with each throw. 3) The throws therefore are not really or numerically distinct…. 4) Such a game — without rules, with neither winner nor loser, without responsibility, a game of innocence… in which skill and chance are no longer distinguishable seems to have no reality. Besides, it would amuse no one… The ideal game of which we speak cannot be played by either man or God. It can only be thought as nonsense. This game is reserved then for thought and art… is also that by which thought and art are real and disturbing reality, morality, and the economy of the world.” So we have another ‘better’ description for ‘Noise’. Oh! Think of the first ‘minor game’ as ‘music’ and the ‘ideal, major game’ as noise. Or the ideal major game as Acting Class / Deep in the night…both split the pure harsh noise across the stereo field generated from electronic statics and feedback, the former (AC) is a remarkable set of tracks of searing statics, the latter likewise, employing more static/noise and feedback… They are “major” works of noise. And by eschewing both man and god produce works of nature for which the terms not only ‘ideal’ and ‘major’ applies but also ‘sublime’ and ‘transcendental’ should be appropriate. I have not come across such perfect works of Noise for many years… (jliat)
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ULRICH TROYER – NOK 2020 (CD by 4Bit Productions)

If there wasn’t a press release, I would not have known this is actually re-issue; and of something that was reviewed in these pages before, albeit without the mentioning of a name. In 2000, Troyer received an honorary mention at the Prix Ars Elecronica (that matters to some people; me not among them) and later on Mego released ‘Nok’ as a mini CD. In Vital Weekly 254, it was written: “The clips and pitches run high, deep and backwards – a flashback of glass, under glass. Various cameras group on the cover and is it the soup of a beatladen ocean that rises through the platinum laudanum lens? Their time ticks onward, moving as though caught beneath both a proverbial and an actual microscope. Paramecium – where do they live, on the surface of a 3″ Compact Disc? Where do they enter into the sound? Might some live along the infinite klines of the laser beam? Have we been listening to the microscopic world as well, all this time? Do they catch the invisible lands and speak to the brethren bacteria of the ear?” I am sure I didn’t write that. It is not mentioned among the press quotes for the 2020 re-issue, along with three new pieces and two remixes, by Christian Fennesz and Stefan Nemeth. It is interesting to hear this again, after all the years and a fine reminder of what we called ‘clicks ‘n cuts’ back then. The rudimentary skeleton of techno, reduced to clicks, hiss, scratch and cut. It is a very minimal sound, and it’s hard to dance to it. It sounds perhaps a bit dated as well; it’s not the kind of music you hear much these days. Not so ready for a revival I guess. Fennesz adds a guitar to the proceedings and Nemeth a Korg MS20 and in both instances that bit of extra opens up a whole new world. A fine re-issue, and perhaps from a more historical perspective; I liked his recent ‘Dolomite Dub’ a lot more. (FdW)
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I have massive problems with this release. To start, Throat are a rock band from Turku, Finland, yes ‘rock band’ and released a rock limited edition pink vinyl, of 100 copies on Svart Records in 2018, ‘Bareback’, where “the band plunge head first into unprotected encounters with musical elements”. A problem as I’m obviously used to reviewing noise and not the encounters with noise as ‘effect’, as musical ‘effect’… And this re-release is not Throat, but the album’s tracks remixed twice by various ‘noisy artists’, Government Alpha, Himukalt, Deison, Black Leather Jesus, Sshe Retina Stimulants, Vanhala, Heat Signature, Like Weeds, Linekraft, Lasse Marhaug, Concrete Mascara, Erratix, Niku Daruma, Kazuma Kubota, Jarl, Keränen… listening to Bareback now, yes its a fairly typical rock album of the drums, guitar, songs in heavy vocals kind of thing interspersed with what is perhaps more ‘noisy’ links, the remix was prompted by these influences. So having listened to the ‘plodding’ heavyish rock music now the remix. 16 tracks in the order of the ‘artists’ given above. The first three the vocals and origins in rock are clear, just some processing, the BLJ more abstract but still ending with recognizable rock artefacts. Apart from distortion general techniques include slowing down tracks or speeding them up (Vanhala), looping and adding reverb. The signature of rock music, heavy guitar vocals and drumming is very difficult to re-interpret without remnants appearing, perhaps nothing wrong with that? The overall effect is reminiscent of listening to rock on short wave radio with the ‘processing’ being all natural. I’m also reminded of this,, Merzbow’s take on Silent Night, where I think general obliteration occurs, as can be seen here, this is Nick Collins brilliant analysis of the piece. Such a destruction is at first sight not so easy, if it is asked at all, but for purists of noise, nothing but destruction will do, noise is not, for them, just some musical effect. The history of noise as musical effect goes way back, even before the 1812, there is a literalish storm in the Pastoral Symphony. But then given the digital domain such destruction is possible by simply randomizing the bits, whiteish noise is the result. However, this ‘noise’ would still carry the ghost of the original data in the image of the ratio of zeros to ones would remain unaltered, though it might be possible using something like Cantor’s diagonal trick (to create an uncountable Real number) on this data to create a new track which is absolutely different. But then this too might be just a negative image. That for me at least is interesting, and attempts at truly controlled chaos, which if doomed to failure might have theological and philosophical consequences, that is the philosophical ‘substance’ is indestructible, and music then is merely the arrangement of indestructible substance, i.e. noise. (jliat)
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BEN CHATWIN – THE HUM (CD by Village Green Recordings)

Although I am not entirely sure, this might be the follow-up to ‘Staccato Signals’ (see Vital Weekly 1137) and it continues his explorations of synthesizers, rhythms, ambient and something altogether more forceable, and leaving behind any of the more modern classical influences from the previous album. Here, he is inspired by the works of Mika Vainio and Johann Johannsson; loud music and ‘immersive soundtracks’, but now as part of much shorter songs and without any visuals. The title is from the hum that surrounds, but which the human ear can’t hear. Not that I thought that was very relevant to the actual music here; maybe I am too old and lost too much of my ability to hear things such as obscure frequencies. Chatwin plays a rather forceful tune, or eight, of sharp synthesizer sounds, heavy on the rhythm and plenty of gentle distortion. It leans towards the world of the louder drone Meisters, Tim Hecker for instance, and with stringed sounds out of can (although it is said, almost all is analogue on this album) to add a sorrowful tune or two to the proceedings. It is a fine album, no doubt there, but also not really with something that stood very much. Is that enough for an album? Perhaps it is. (FdW)
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‘Lastro’ is called an OST and it for a choreography by Né Barros. I am not sure if this bit of text on Bandcamp is about this dance; “Under a red sky, there is a real and imaginary world. As in a danger zone, musicians and dancers inhabit a theatrical space, a place of abandonment. Unpredictably, the group will invade this threatened place to, after a rupture, after a kind of catastrophe, repeat a new cycle.” The cover lists performers, but I believe these are the dancers of this and not performers of the music. The credit of the music goes to Gustavo Costa and, as I was playing this, I thought he was also the sole performer of the music. Armed with a laptop and many sounds and as many ways to process them. I was going to add, ‘on the spot’, but maybe not on the spot, as with such things as choreography, timing must be everything. In the forty-seven minutes that this piece lasts, Costa takes the listener on a wild trip of varying musical spectra. There is ambient, there is what sounds as if he is using processed instruments, electro-acoustic, musique concrète, computer glitch, field recordings being processed, going just as easily to drum ‘n bass and other assorted bits of percussion use. It is a very vibrant piece of music, and perhaps one that is a bit too much all over the place, I was thinking. The various pieces with drum sounds didn’t always work for me, I must admit, but who knows, within the context of the choreography this works well, but now we simply lack that visual component. Great production value all around the music; it is very strong.
    Also, on the other CD, we have just one, long piece of music. It deals with ‘Matriz’, which is described as “a programming and creative project that intends to launch new challenges and paradigms related to the digital radio context and network music. By exploring the concept of a distributed ensemble, we aim to develop collaborative software to manage multiple audio connections and its relations throughout the internet, while creating new geographies and allowing for new areas of relationship between artists and the audience.” As one can see, I listed this the way Bandcamp does it, and that is by listing the three performing groups, projects; Oficinas do Convento (consisting of João Bastos, João Sofio, Rodolfo Pimenta and Tiago Fróis, all on Circuit bending), Sonoscopia (Gustavo Costa and Henrique Fernandes, Acoustic laptop, amplified objects) and Osso (Nuno Torres, Alto saxophone and Ricardo Jacinto, cello, electronics). I must admit I am somewhat puzzled by this information. Perhaps wrongly, I expected something along the lines of laptop music, glitches, cracks ‘ cuts and all of that, but that is the case. Maybe the word ‘programming’ mislead me. The music here is all about improvisation of a more electro-acoustic nature. There are lots and lots of rummaging of acoustic sounds here, and most of the time I was quite clueless if these were instruments or otherwise. In the final section (although, with all of this cross-fading, it is not easy to say which is which section) I surely recognized the string instruments but in the others this more difficult. It all blended together as a long-form piece of many, small events, hectically played, and sometimes long tones, high piercing (in the early minutes of the piece) and somewhere in the middle going a bit quiet. This is all quite nice and fine, but also a bit too much interchangeable I think. The difference between the various projects too minimal; maybe they realized that too and made it all into one piece of music? (FdW)
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REINHOLD FRIEDL – KRAFFT (CD by Zeitkratzer Productions)

Although ‘Krafft’ sounds German (as in ‘Kraftwerk’), it is not a German word, but rather a twist on the word ‘kraft’, meaning ‘power’, and with twice an ‘F’, meaning fortissimo, I would think. It is a work that was commissioned by the French state and which is performed by Friedl’s posse Zeitkratzer and Ensemble 2e2m. I had not heard of the latter, but they were the first to record music by Giancinto Scelsi. Friedl used a computer program, ‘Textural Transformation Machine’ to develop the random process of the composition. Random, perhaps, but far from chaotic. All the rhythms remain in rhythmic unison and it has a rather lingering feeling, sounds being wrung out in different ways. There is development within each of the four movements; in fact, there seems to be constant change going between all eighteen players. And everything is played with some force; especially the final section is quite a tour de force. Whereas in the other pieces everybody was seemingly on the same page, here there are several pages and the instruments from the lower end of the sound spectrum strum low, while the other shriek wild and loud in the higher range, all going up and up, to a dramatic climax. Throughout these four pieces there is quite some variation to be noted. The first part is a slow but forceful opener, the second and third parts are variations on the notion of introspection, with the third one having some violent undercurrent and the fourth being the dramatic finale. This is thirty-three minutes of tonal bliss, one to be played loud. (FdW)
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That is one big line-up and I easily admit I didn’t recognize the name of Nels Cline (guitar) and Glenn Kotche (percussion) of Wilco fame, simply because the world of (alternative) rock is a different plane to me. The day after Huntsville played in Chicago, they went over to the Loft, the studio/rehearsal space owned by Wilco, along with Darin Gray (bass) and Yuka Honda (keyboards) and the seven people recorded this album. Huntsville being Ivar Grydeland (electirc and acoustic guitar, peda steel guitar, banjo, electronics), Tonny Kluften (electric bass) and Ingar Zach (drums, percussion, tabla machine, drone commander). These are not recent recordings; they were taped on June 29, 2010. The liner notes ask why it took so long before it was released, but do not provide an answer. Seven people and plenty of instruments, that must be a hell of a beast to mix down; maybe that’s the reason? It has been quite a while since I last heard music by Hunstville (Vital Weekly 973892 and 781), but their genre-crossing sound of drone rock, jazz and improvisation worked as well for me. Here they expand their sound with more players and, perhaps, more rock. More drone rock to be precise. There are three long piece (fourteen to twenty minutes) and one ‘shorter’ (seven minutes), in which these players freely rock out their hearts. A standout piece is ‘Lower’, in which there is a continious drone playing, but the drummers play rather free and the guitars strum on and on, going for a mighty climax in overdrive. ‘Side Wind’ has elements of that, but sometimes goes out into a more introspective improvisation, half way through the piece. ‘Higher’ is a wide open mellow piece of meandering guitars and drums, but never looses that aspect of psychedelic drone intonation and a drive towards a climax; maybe that is inevitable with such a line-up? It all ends with the shortest piece, ‘The Unshot’, a rather mellow strum on guitars and far away percussion, the rock version of a chill out piece. We have been waiting a decade for this one hour of great music and it has been wirth it. Yes, so, why took it so long? (FdW)
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EUPHOTIC – ISOPLETHS (CD by Public Eyesore)

The previous time the name Euphotic appeared in these pages was not about a work for a trio of musicians who now deliver ‘Isopleths’, but as the title of a release by Chihei Hatakeyama and Corey Fuller (Vital Weekly 1033). The word means “noting or pertaining to the layer or zone of seawater that receives enough sunlight for photosynthesis to occur, varying greatly with season and latitude, from 0 to 1,200 feet (0–360 meters)”. The trio here is Bryan day on invented instruments, Tom Djll on trumpet and electronics and Cheryl Leonard on driftwood, sand, rocks, feathers, marsh reeds, penguin bones, pine needles and oyster shells. That is three quite different approaches to creating sounds, ranging from natural objects, a real instrument and whatever Day uses (I believe something with strings and wood). The seven pieces on this release were recorded in 2018 and 2019 and are pieces of improvised music. Here too they deliver quite the variety of approaches. ‘Pluton’, for instance, starts out with some heavy noise with much distortion on the electronics, while in other pieces the emphasis lies on the use of ‘small’ sounds, at times touched upon carefully and at other times hectic and chaotic. Like a jazz trio, it seems that sometimes an instrument takes the lead, such as the trumpet in ‘Bristlemouth’, but that too isn’t the principle idea of these improvisations; just as easily everything appears on an equal level, with nobody leaping out, such as in ‘Echolucation’, which also uses quite a bit electronics on Djl’s part. Sometimes, this comes across as very traditionally improvised, albeit with less non-conventional sound devices, and sometimes not all, working from a microsound level, exploring small sound events. In the time-span of forty-eight minutes they cover a lot of ground and there is plenty to discover on the grounds. This is quite a beautiful release. (FdW)
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Here we have a trio of new releases by the Polish powerhouse Zoharum, and three times I had questions, remarks and reservations. This label deals extensively with atmospheric music in a very wide sense of the word. In that respect is the release by Michal Jablonski no different and of these three the most ‘regular’ one. Recorded during the 2020 lockdown, when Jablonski was on the countryside. That doesn’t seem to me a bad place to be, but who am I? Jablosnki had “a sense of impending doom and deep inspiration of post apocalyptic motives”, which is reflects on ‘Humanity’, his second album. Lots of synthesizers here, quite a bit of reverb, especially on the very sparsely used percussion (the odd bang here and there; in Gravity Madnes’ and ‘Sun’ however quite lively trashing around) and the overall atmosphere is dark, pitch black to be precise. Sometiems these synthesizers sound like an orchestral amount of strings. Two pieces have whispered ‘vocals’ by Hania “DID” Piosik, adding to the gothic cathedral atmosphere of the music. All of this has quite the dramatic film soundtrack quality, which is no doubt what Jablonski is aiming for. Maybe when time comes, a Hollywood director can make good use of this? I actually liked it, even when I thought some of it was a bit over the top. Too dark, too much reverb, too much drama at times; having said that, maybe today with a bit sunshine isn’t the right day for such music?
    For the second release, by Schrottersburg, the press release had the same information as for the Jablonski release, but the Bandcamp page from Zoharum helped out. Schrottersburg is a band, “well known to post punk fans due to 3 well-received albums and a no nonsense demo. What makes them different from the other bands (except for great music of course) is their ability to incorporate other musical genres while maintaining the new wave core.” You might not be surprised that I had not heard of them before, so also not their 2018 “Melancholia” album. The pieces receive a remix treatment here, by people such as Piotr Dąbrowski, Vilkduja, Tzii, Ame De Boue Gaap Kvlt, Mirt, Fleuve, and 1997EV. Some of these people I know, but not knowing the originals made me curious and here too Bandcamp helped out ( I moaned in the past about remixes being nothing more than exercises in masturbation, not bringing new ground to the original music, but in this case it surely does. The raw post punk sound of the original (not the most original itself) is here transformed into deep ambient pieces (the first three), trip electro rhythms (Ame de Boue), industrial kling klang (Gaap Kvlt), electro (1997EV) and the somewhat harder to pin down music by Mirt and Fleuve. Quite the variety here and none of it much along the lines of the original. I have no idea who well-known Schrottersburg is and if they have daring fans to gets everything, but if they do than they are in for some surprises.
    ROD “appears to be more of a collective focused on artistic activities strong affiliated with Slavic culture and rites”. This new album is about “Kaszuby – region in northern Poland – and it’s rich ethnic and cultural background confronted with present day problems.” This they do with a lot of rhythm, guitars, darkwave, a bit of folk and lots of lyrics. I wish I could say ‘I feel your pain’, if that applies at all (of ‘love’ for that matter), but all the lyrics in are in the Polish language, and none here have mastered that. As often with this sort of thing, I ask again, what is the point of sending a promo copy abroad? What is there to gain, other than you knowing it is out, and sure, you might be interested but to many more readers this will fly over their head; just as it did with me. At times too poppy for this rag as well, which didn’t help either. Not for me, thanks. (FdW)
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ΚΥΜΑΤΙΚΗ ΑΘΗΝΏΝ – ΥΠΝΟΔΡΟΜΙΟ (LP by Same Difference Music)

My Japanese is non-existent (see elsewhere), but the same is for my Greek. I understand from Google translates that the title of this album means ‘hypnodrome’. The band name rendered no translation. The five titles are in English on the cover (not on Bandcamp they are). But on Bandcamp, I found some other information. The album was “written, curated, produced and arranged by Panagiotis Tomaras”, and he plays “Tape loops [all tracks], treated instruments [all tracks], Vocals [3, 4]”. Guest musicians include Clock DVA’s Adi Newton on trumpet, Anna Serkedaki on flute [1, 3, 5], vocals [5], ocarina [5] and Thalia Ioanidou on Trumpet [1, 2, 4, 5, 6]. The album is “an esoteric psychoacoustics journey from the Polyphonic songs of Epirus and Cretan lamentations to the sonic meditations of La Monte Young”, and it uses treated recordings from wind and string instruments, which are looped (I guess) and they “alternate from lullabies, lamentations, masses of sound and mystagogic soundscapes”. I am not entirely sure how this all worked; if, for instance, the various players had their instruments recorded and then Tomaras processing these, or if there is more of an interaction between processed bits and pieces, on top of which the guest play their parts. There is an interesting drone aspect to this music of acoustic sounds and much delay and reverb to suggest a massive space. Also, there is an element that I would call ‘ritualistic’ in this music; whispering voices at the campfire sort of thing, while there is the band playing on mediaeval instruments, all intoning as part of some ritual to happen. That is usually not the sort of thing I ‘dig’, but I must admit that in this case, I enjoyed the music quite a bit. It’s a shimmering mysterious world that is depicted here, but I liked the combination of real instruments playing away on end (or seemingly so) and strange electronic processes. And yes, I can see that LaMonte Young connection; I’d like to add Terry Riley as well. The saxophone of ‘Polyphony II’ could have been played by him. Quite an odd record, this one, and maybe the all Greek cover is not immediately appealing to an outside market, but if you like minimal music meeting ritual music, then try this. (FdW)
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Very much ‘a work in progress’ Blood Rhythms’ is a project of Arvo Zylo’s which here further explores his interest in drones manufactured by fairly industrial repetitions. An interesting if difficult landscape juxtaposing the drone with a more obvious mechanical repetition. The difficulty being in the nature of a drone, a fairly continuous sound, and the nature of any repetition where there is a join. Here the tape loop and sampler loop were notorious for introducing an artefact, glitch or click at the loop point running counter to the idea of the continuous universe of the drone. At a deeper level there are the rival cosmologies of circle and straight line. These being millennia old, a life is a line or a circle. And at the point of repetition, if it has a trace, an event. To pursue this dilemma further resolutions can be found in the exotics of topology, the Kline bottle, or more well known Möbius Strip. In some tracks the drone dominates the repetition / loop, such as ‘Nookleptia’, ‘Subterranean Holiness’, if ‘dominate’ is the correct term, whilst in others such as ‘Wheel of Anguish’ the repetition dominates to the extent of rhythm and beat. You can hear for yourself Tracks 5-7 seem parts of one piece… which adds to my opening comment on this very much being a work in progress. Only I’m uncertain that this process will turn out to be linear, teleological even, or a great circle. To accomplish both is metaphorically possible in topologies such as the Möbius Strip, but musicological or in noise such an accomplishment might be impossible or difficult, one would suspect by abandoning the topologies of musical media, the disc or the tape, for something new and extraordinary this just might be possible. (jliat)
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Back in Vital Weekly 1207, I was already introduced to the music of Food Party, a trio of Matthew Hamblin, Greg Thomas, and Lila Matsumoto and even though the information was ‘sketchy’/’vague’ I quite enjoyed their music. For this new release, Chocolate Monk says that Matsumoto and Hamblin work as Cloth and that Thomas is a guitarist from Helhesten. Otherwise, no instruments are mentioned on the cover or the website. The violin from before is however still a presence and a voice can be heard in ‘Umbrella Temple’. There is most definitely something lo-fi about this group, with music that sounds like it has been captured straight onto a two-track in their basement. Think a bit of drone, think a bit of outside folk and some vague notion of free improvisation. I hear flutes, percussion (whatever it is they use), voices, guitar but also field recordings (which made me think they don’t record in a basement but a barn with the doors open). This is sort of thing that is not about musical proficiency, but all about creating a mood, an atmosphere, if you will, and they did good a great job. Unlike before, when one of the pieces seemed out of place to me, this new one is all good. I am not sure why it is all cut one long (forty-five minute) piece when they are clearly separate pieces with small breaks in between. That is my only minor critique to this release, but otherwise, this is beauty. One that fits the short of days and darkness. If I was the true romantic writer, I would write this with candlelight and typewriter. (FdW)
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When compiling a compilation there is a rule of thumb that says you open with the strongest track. One reason for doing this is that it immediately grabs the listener and makes them not want to turn it off until the end, especially if it’s a first listen. This also works in films. The Coen Brother’s classic ‘No Country for Old Men’ opens with one of if not the, most brutal scenes in the whole film. It makes you sit up. Take notice and not even think about turning it off as you NEED to know how it ends. The latest compilation from NO PART OF IT, ‘Pattern Recognition (A Benefit for Collage Artist Bradley Kokay)’, works the same way.
    The opening track is ‘Fire Anthem 2’ by GX Jupitter-Larsen. As the title suggests the sound of fire is present. Effectively it is 10-minutes of a fire raging, but it is so much more than that. Throughout its duration, it works as both a love letter to watching things burn and also a cautionary tale to the all-consuming power of fire. The song is both vitriolic and incredibly tender. At times it is the most vicious track on the album. It sets up a question in your mind “If this is what they open with, where the hell can they go next?” The answer is very simple. Anywhere they feel. The song also has a deeper meaning. The proceeds from the compilation will go toward collage artist Bradley Kokay. In September, his studio was lost to a large-scale fire that devastated five towns in Oregon. Kokay lost 20+ years of work and irreplaceable material for future work. Opening with the sounds of fire seems not only fitting but a poignant way the album could have started.
    What ‘Pattern Recognition (A Benefit for Collage Artist Bradley Kokay)’ does really well is to recreate pieces of music that feel like Kokay’s collages. Throughout the album, it feels like the artists are borrowing sections from other sources and combining them to create something new and exciting. It could be using contrasting sounds to create something unsettling. Mama Baer expertly atonal vocals and juxtapose incoordinate tones to create something truly harrowing, but also tinged with beauty. Much like one of Kokay’s works of art. Illusion of Safety uses manipulated vocal samples, along with the sounds of distressed machinery, to deliver a xxx on the album. It reminds me of looking at Kokay’s ‘Melt City’ for too long. Everything is slightly warped, but you understand completely how that city works and feels. The album closes with ‘Isolation’ by Torturing Nurse. As with ‘Fire Anthem 2’ the title foreshadows what is to come. What it doesn’t foreshadow is how brutal it will be. From the opening salvo, we are presented with the noise of someone playing squash and searing white noise. It is one of the standard out moment on the album and ends it as it started. With a crushing feeling of vitriolic power but with hints of tenderness. Which is much like Kokay’s work and make this a fitting tribute, and benefit, to an important artist. (NR)
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Hot on the heels of their debut release, ‘Everyone In The Village Hates You’, there is now ‘Forwards And Backwards In Time’ by Isolated Community, a duo of Richard Dunn and Rachael Talbot Dunn. I quite enjoyed that first release, without knowing too much about the way the music was made. I think (and still do) that they use a bunch of lo-fi electronics, samples, some guitar, some keyboards and now also a bit of spoken word. The fourteen songs (I think you call it that, rather than ‘pieces’) on this new release are again short and to the point, but also are quite a leap forward. It is still in the strange land between ambient and industrial, between lo-fi tape manipulations and some shimmering melodic touches. Especially the latter are a fine addition to their music and it works really well. I am not sure, but it seems this time there are no vocals by the two band members but now we have clear voice sample material, such as in the title piece, which, for all I know, maybe derived from a Doctor Who episode I forgot. Even with the melodic touch, Isolated Community is still on that path of experiment that is atmospheric and [partly noisy. As before, each of the song consists of a few sonic events that are explored, ended and then it’s time to move on. And within all those parameters it is easy to offer a lot of variation and that is what Isolated Community does, seemingly with great ease. This is an excellent release. I wonder what comes next and at which speed? (FdW)
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That is a lot of new music by Vertonen and that means, these days, there is also something to look and read. Each of these three new releases comes with either a small booklet (the two packs of mini CDRs) or a set of cards, in the case of the work about Joan of Arc Arc. Blake Edwards, the man behind Vertonen, writes that he’s not that much into religion, but he finds her case quite fascinating and it is easy to see why. Someone standing up against the Catholic Church and dying, as a result, is good stuff (even when the trained historian in me says there are a couple of more angles to the story, as always). Vertonen encloses the text of Joan’s trial and uses a “computer-generated woman’s voice reading, in French, Joan of Arc’s arguably most famous utterance during the trial”, which is her response to if she was in God’s grace, she said, “if I am not, may God put me there, and if I am, may God so keep me”. Whatever Edwards has done with the voice, any text is rendered beyond recognition. It is treated to such an extent that any sound is difficult to hear. This is the result, I would think of heavily computer processing, stretching out the words over seventy-six minutes and it becomes something highly meditative, even when at times the computer has difficulties in rendering the voice, so it off and on slightly stutters. This is not an easy work to hear, because much of is on the lower end of the sound spectrum, but when you found to have the right volume setting, then expect some excellent full-on immersive sound.
    The first of the two four mini CDRs-sets deal with disorientation; it’s about geographic surveys. In the booklet, there are map definitions from the Bureau Of Land Management, mixed with texts by Donald Crowhurst, from his ship log. The sound on the four discs comes from various places, and I am not sure to what extent they are treated or not. For disc one (‘wind turbine’) and ‘disc three (‘entry to harbour, bridge overpass’), it says ‘raw’, while the other two, ‘Radio Tower Guy Wire’ is ’embellished’ and ‘Lapping At The Shores’ is accentuated. I am not sure what all of that means, as, purely judging the music, I would think, the sound on all four discs is some way treated, but some more than others. The ‘entry to harbour’ is something puzzling, with lots of bird sounds in some underpass sort of situation, but water sounds are sure part of the ‘lapping at the shores’. The wind turbine sounds indeed like a wind turbine and it might be the purest of field recordings in this set. The ‘Radio Tower Guy Wire’ is a more mysterious piece of long antennae sounds. All four pieces are minimal in terms of musical development, but all of these contains some highly captivating sounds.
    On ‘Disassociation Studies’, it is all about erasing. “The book, besides some introductory framing texts, is focused on erasing and semic writing: prepared/processed texts treated as graphics/visuals”, which lead me to look up the word ‘Asemic’ [wiki:] “writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. The word asemic means “having no specific semantic content”, or “without the smallest unit of meaning”. The four discs contain music that deals with erasing and luckily avoids the easy ’empty disc’ approach. There are “manually erased microcassettes played on two different devices at two different speeds, eq’d”, “eq’d and filtered excerpts from the 1975 exorcism of Anneliese Michel”, ‘”processed voice in six adjustments (for Eric Lunde)”, and “playback 9two speeds) of two empty microcassette players with magnets of varying power in various proximities to capstand and tape head direct line and contact mic captures”. Now, while all of that may sound highly conceptual, which could result in some unlistenable noise, this is not the case. Throughout the sounds here are harsher, such as on the first disc and parts of the third, the second one sounds all mysterious and obscure and for me a particular of this current Vertonen batch. In the other material, we find Vertonen is an abrasive noisy modus, which is something we just may not be used of him so much these days. (FdW)
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FROND – ALWAYS THERE, SOMEWHERE (cassette by Esc.Rec.)

It has been a while since I heard ‘The Second Continent’ by Frond (Vital Weekly 957), which is the music project of Richard Bultitude. “The key theme is about permanence. “Connections may be lost in time but our actions make their mark in history; they can’t be undone and will always be there, somewhere,” says the artist”. Still, we have no idea as to which instruments are used by Bultitude, but I would think there is a wide range of synthesizers, samplers, keyboards and such like, and among the samples used we find string instruments, percussion, field recordings and voices (and no doubt a bunch of other things. The music is ambient, dark, and moody, but all of that not in an abstract way. Frond is not interested in pressing down a few keys on a keyboard but goes for shortish pieces with a fine melodic touch. The aforementioned influences of Fenesz and Hecker, I would think are still present in the music, such as with the howling guitar sound of ‘Every Particle’, swooping away, against a hotbed of synthesized sound (which is, according to the information “the slowed-down sounds of a campfire recorded very close up (a cheap mic was sacrificed for this purpose) “. This is the melodic end of ambient music and as such Frond is not frugal on the production. He doesn’t care about things be all quiet and introspective, but rather he goes for a full-on sound. It is all very dynamic when it comes to the production of the music. Frond has a keen sense of detail in his pieces and throughout there is quite some variation on this album. Some of these pieces go ‘all-out’, while others are meandering about, such as the delay heavy ‘Fragments Coalesce’. Spacious, full and yet all quite moody and atmospheric; abstract and melodic. Frond apparently worked two years on this album and I can imagine that he needed that time to come up with something this wonderful. (FdW)
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Vital – The Complete Collection 1987-1995
Before Vital Weekly there was Vital, a Xeroxed fanzine covering experimental, electronic andelectro-acoustic music; interviews, reviews, in-depth discussion articles, background. All 44 issues in one hardcover book; 580 pages. More information: