Number 1274

GC/NC – DEPRECATED (CD by Unexplained Sounds Group) *
TWENTY FINGERS DUO – PERFORMA (CD by Music Information Centre Lithuania) *
REUT REGEV & IGAL FONI – TWO MUCH (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
SONOLOGYST – DUST OF HUMAN RACE (CD by Eighth Tower Records) *
ASMUS TIETCHENS – RAUM 318 (CD by Klanggalerie) *
PS STAMPS BACK – AU BOUT DE LA NUIT (CD by 1000+1 Tilt Recordings/Ant-Zen) *
DEATH DRIVE – INTO THE NEVER (CD by 1000+1 Tilt Recordings) *
MAHLER HAZE – RIVERINE (CD by Sublime Retreat) *
SURFACE STRUCTURE (LP by Grubenwehr Freiburg)
ISOLATED COMMUNITY – STAY INVISIBLE (CDR by Northumberland Audio Capture) *
COMFORT CLUB 02 (fanzine by Amek)
BMB CON. – #14: SUDDEN NOISE (cassette, private) *
SINDRE BJERGA & STUART CHALMERS – ENCANTO MAGNETICO (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
SEVERAL WIVES & DIURNAL BURDENS – PERSUASION / DECLINE (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
HARDWORKING FAMILIES – A ROOM AND A FROG (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
BROKEN SHOULDER – 4 (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
PELS – SCHAKELBREUK JOZEF (Box of crayons + DL by esc.rec) *

GC/NC – DEPRECATED (CD by Unexplained Sounds Group)

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had this note that the Unexplained Sounds Group on Facebook is all about field recordings, even when they also released a CD by Sonologyst (see also elsewhere). This CD proofs otherwise. Here is a duo from The Netherlands and Belgium, Sjoerd Leijten and Patrick Bossink. From the latter, I had not heard before, but from Leijten I reviewed a cassette in Vital weekly 1239. He used the software program SuperCollider, one of the more mysterious for a simple soul as myself, and here the two of them go further, using software of their own design and self-made controllers. In the studios of Klangendum (which is part of Worm in Rotterdam), they set up shop with the synthesizers in that lovely space, along with bicycle wheels, guitars, radios and, also, SuperCollider. The wheels of the bicycle control the guitar and the synthesizer and by spinning the wheel, sounds emerge. Piezo discs are used on the bikes for percussion, and a bit of radio comes in extra. Sounds confusing? It probably is one of those cases of ‘seeing is believing’. This duo also plays concerts and I would think it is something worthwhile to see once the doors open for venues. The music on this disc is interesting enough, and goes beyond strict descriptions of ‘improvisation’, ‘musique concrète’ or even ‘alternative rock music’. They operate in the same sound world as Lukas Simonis, the man behind Klangendum, with a similar richness when it comes to blending and bending sounds and genres. The computer processing, such as it is, is buried deep in the mix, and the music is rather refreshing, bouncing up and down, with noisy components, rhythms, textures and sometimes even ‘song-like’ structures, with the energy of a spiky, punky attitude. And yet, it is all experimental, weird and strange enough, entirely fitting the realm of Vital Weekly. At thirty-four minutes and eight pieces perhaps all a tad too short, but there are two extra pieces in the download. (FdW)
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TWENTY FINGERS DUO – PERFORMA (CD by Music Information Centre Lithuania)

‘Performa’ is the impressive debut recording by brother and sister Arnas Kmieliauskas (cello) and Lora Kmieliauskaitė (violin). Coming from a musical Lithuanian family, winners of national and international competitions, they try to create a new and fresh experience of the sound of classical instruments. They invited six Lithuanian composers to compose new works for them. From what I understand both were involved in the composing process. Composers are Mykolas Natalevičius, Dominykas Digimas, Rūta Vitkauskaitė, Julius Aglinskas, Arturas Bumšteinas, and Andrius Maslekovas. With some of these composers they already worked, with others, they would like to start a collaboration. Only the name of Bumsteinas rang a bell. In the past, we have reviewed releases by him. So the first thing we can say, this is an opportunity to gain some insight into the Lithuanian new music scene. Spoken in general in the case of modern composed music I do not exactly know where we are now. What are the mainstream ways of composing in these still post-modern times? I have the idea that there is no dominating path and the situation is above all very diverse. Back to ‘Performa’, this was a very reciprocal process. For the composers, the performers make it possible to present new work. And the other way around, the composers offer an opportunity for the performers to create their specific sound. The project was defined from the start as a multi-media project. Visual artist Lauryna Narkevičiūtė created six visuals based on the ideas of the composers, complementing the musical compositions. Key-figure is Julius Aglinskas. He is one of the composers but did also the recording and mixing for this album, contributing to the specific sound that Lora and Arnas wanted to create. And it was this that struck me first: the extraordinary sound of the music, sounding as if liberated from all materiality. Because of this, all works seem to share a common atmosphere. But soon the stylistic diversity caught my attention. The CD opens with ‘Mist’ by Natalevičius. A work of slow waving movements, full of rich timbres and sounds, and of a baffling beauty! ‘Walking through the three Points’ by Digimas is comparable but more spacey and with more change in dynamics. ‘Hightet’ by Vitkauskaite. This piece stays in regions of high frequencies making use of long glissando movements; a penetrating work. ‘In between Silence’ by Aglinskas is a dialogue with silence and a return to the meditative mood of the first two compositions. It moves along a slow melodic line that evokes a romantic impression. ‘Lyrica’ by Bumsteinas may be the most experimental one. Five different voices sing freely the Latin names of diverse medicines. Cello and violin follow the melodic line, resulting in an unison effect. With the closing composition ‘Shadows of Nighttime Canvases’ by Maslekovas we enter again a world of slow and deep sonorities. In all a very inspiring work from two performers who work from a clear and passionate vision, shaped in an intense collaboration with the composers and visual artist. (DM)
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REUT REGEV & IGAL FONI – TWO MUCH (CD by Relative Pitch Records)

Reut Regev grew up in Israel where she discovered the trombone – and jazz – already at a young age. Later she served in Israel’s army band as a trombonist, before leaving Israel and settling down in New York. That is some twenty years ago now. Over the years she worked in projects of Latin, klezmer, blues, jazz, and collaborated with Anthony Braxton, Elliott Sharp, Burton Greene, a.o. Also, Igal Foni originates from Israel and recorded with Avram Fefer Quartet (Steve Swell, a.o.) and Adam Lane’s Full Throttle Orchestra after settling in New York. About ten years ago Regev started her own musical vehicle, called Reut Regev’s R*time, co-lead by her husband drummer Igal Foni. With Jean-Paul Bourelly (!) on guitar and Mark Peterson on bass, the quartet released three albums so far. Although Regev and Foni worked together on this and other projects, never before they decided on a duo recording. Just before the pandemic however they did, resulting in this charming release for Relative Pitch Records. Reut Regev (trombone, electronics) and Igal Foni (drums, percussion) recorded 20 short improvisations all-lasting between 1 and 6 minutes. In the opening improvisation ‘Keep Steppin’ Foni plays very subdued drums. Sounding very reduced it at the same time grooves. And Regev’s trombone makes it swing. With some fantasy, you can fill in the gaps and imagine richer instrumentation. But that is not what they had in mind for this one. This opening improvisation is like many others on this disc a thematic improvisation using melodic element, but never in a very outspoken idiomatic way. Above all their kind of improvisations sound very stripped down, like for example ‘Be my Rock’ that starts from a beat. Stripped down, but also very concentrated. In the search for the essence of their musical interaction. ‘Gone without the wind’ is an example of an improvisation that is more about timbre and sound, and by consequence of a more abstract nature. This also counts for ‘Echoes of Infinity’ diving into sound exploration. In contrast, ‘Sunny’s Smile’ is a lovely tune with sparse electronics. ‘Short’ and ‘Shorter’ are very bolded and dynamic explosions with some electronics. Overall Foni plays with a limited set of drums and percussion. In the opening of the closing track ‘Palestine’, he plays a fantastic solo illustrating his ‘melodic’ approach that is met in several of the improvisations. Regev excels with a warm and full sound, playing very expressive and at ease whatever she is doing. There is a lot of nice dialoguing to be enjoyed here, like in the ‘The Art of Grind’. Very communicative and lively improvisations! (DM)
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SONOLOGYST – DUST OF HUMAN RACE (CD by Eighth Tower Records)

Raffaele Pezzella’s Sonologyst made it to these pages a couple of times (Vital Weekly 122511941134 for instance) and here is a new one, with a quote from Ovi on the cover “Wherever you look, there is nothing but the image of death” (well, in Latin), which, perhaps, says something about the darker nature of the music. Maybe it is a sign of grim times, but in his previous work, Sonologyst wasn’t a bundle of laughs either. As I noted previously, you could think that Pezzella’s is gothic, but it is not. His dark electronic textures are also not necessarily of the strict drone variety; a few keys of a synthesizer pressed down with the eternal sustain. I’d say that his electronic treatments are more related to the world of musique concrète, early electronic music and mixed with some finer points made by those from the industrial music world, and all of this embedded within all things occult and modern mythologies, as Pezzella calls it. The six pieces on this release are fine showcases of these musical and non-musical interests. Unlike the early electronic music, Sonologyst sounds are longer and in general, don’t apply a cut-up style, and that is part of the idea to create a haunting soundtrack, the horror soundtrack if you will. The feedback in ‘Teatro Grootesco’ is an example of screams from beyond, as well as something reminiscent of industrial music. That piece is the loudest of the lot anyway, and perhaps my least favourite track. I like it when Sonologyst plays out a more spacious electronics, dark and mysterious, brooding and suspense full. In that respect, I found the closing ‘Chiangimuerti’ the best. It is the longest piece, with church bells, creepy voices, drones, and lots of underlying suspense slowly building crescendo towards the big bang that never comes. It ends another remarkable release. (FdW)
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ASMUS TIETCHENS – RAUM 318 (CD by Klanggalerie)

Austria’s Klanggalerie has quite a program when it comes to re-issuing old rarities from the massive catalogue of Asmus Tietchens. Following ‘Linea’, ‘Dammerattacke’ and ‘Eisgang (Vital Weekly 1140 and 1127), there is now ‘Raum 318’, a cassette release from 1991 from the French E’ostrate label, along with a previously unreleased piece, and by the sound of that one, ‘A=P.s”, it comes from the same period. That one was recorded in the Audiplex Studios in Hamburg, the familiar birthplace to many recordings from Tietchens, while the two pieces from ‘Raum 318’ were recorded in Raum 318, in Hamburg, a room in the school were Tietchens worked at that time, teaching how to use electronics. Not a conservatorium or art academy, but an arts and crafts place, if I remember correctly. No doubt, I think, is the set-up at the studio more minimal than at Audiplex and that is something that shines in this music. This is Tietchens at the end of his industrial phase, with metallic loops and many repetitions, even when it doesn’t come with a lot of rhythms (such as on his records for Geomtrik Records). Throughout each of the three pieces, Tietchens slowly alters the sounds, mainly by applying variations in the effects used. All of that in a very gradual, strictly linear way. I am not entirely sure, but I would think some of this very minimal approach has to do with the fact that this is a cassette, just as ‘Linea’ was. That one was rather light in tone, compared to the utter dark metallic clangs and loops of ‘Raum 318’; it is being locked up in a full functioning factory, and you have no idea where the exit is. You walk around, the sound changes, but there is no escape; at least for the duration of all three pieces. There is quite the claustrophobic tonal quality to this music that is very much of that time, I guess. They don’t make them like this any more! (FdW)
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Ignaz Schick is a musical jack of all trades. He is a sound artist and composer that uses turntables, samples, live-electronics, saxophones, flutes and objects while creating dense soundscapes. His two recent albums on Zarek showcase his fearless ability to push himself, and his fellow players, to the limits. These albums are free, abstract and totally captivating.
    ‘ILOG2’ opens with vocal samples, skittering beats, scratching and deep basslines. This is the kind of abstract hip-hop that Ninja Tune was exalting in the mid-90s. The excellent drumming throughout is thanks to Oliver Steidle. You get the impression that Steidle is really having a blast working with Schick again. As the album progresses it’s more of the same, but it never quite reaches the same level of intensity. This works for it. If everything had the same blistering, kinetic pace as ‘There is No Escaping’, an apt title, then it wouldn’t work as well. ‘Using the Secret’ slows things down a bit. This change of pace is really refreshing as it gives us a chance to catch our out-breath. The song is built around elongated drones, which allow room for the drums to skitter around. The downside is that it ‘Using the Secret’ is slightly too long and doesn’t have a strong enough hook. It meanders along nicely but doesn’t really ever go anywhere. ‘This is Not a Long Song’ is probably the standout track on the album. The beats are really skewed and fast, with a jazz sensibility. The scratching is abstract and the basslines are just audible below everything. It is reminiscent of the 2002 era Amon Tobin. Glitchy, repetitive, paranoid but really fun at the same time.
    If ‘ILOG2’ was an exercise in abstraction then ‘Altered Alchemy’ is a more musical affair. This is down to Schick’s collaborator. Achim Kaufmann. Throughout ‘Altered Alchemy’ Kaufmann plays captivating piano pieces but with pedal-echo effects, preparations and inside-piano mapping to create haunting loops that Schick layers his own turntable and sampler soundscapes over, under and through. The results are striking. ‘First Alteration’ sets the scene. Kaufmann’s playing is understated but deliberate. Schick takes these as his foundations and cocoons them with mesmeric melodies and abrasive abstractions. There is an immediacy to the album. This might be because the album was recorded over two afternoons in 2016 at Ausland Berlin. Originally it was meant to be a test to see if the duo could play together. The results speak for themselves and they regularly toured until the global pandemic scuppered a whole industry. But let’s get back to these sessions. There is such a delicate playfulness to the songs. Around the halfway mark of ‘Second Alteration’ everything falls away and we’re left with scratchy strings, bestial wails and haunting pianos. It’s the sound of two musicians playing on the backfoot but having a blast doing it. The downside to ‘Altered Alchemy’ is the majority of the songs are too long and need some trimming. At times the elongated phrases work incredibly well, but there are portions of ‘Third Alteration’, and ‘Fourth Alteration’ for that matter, that could just be a bit tighter.
    What both of these albums show is that Schick is very capable of adapting his style to the people he plays with. At various times throughout both albums Schick shows restraint in allowing his collaborator time to shine, rather than going to the spotlight himself. This restraint is the saving grace on each album. What each album really does well is pushing what improvisation can, and should be. Yes at times the songs don’t work as well as I’d like, but it isn’t about the end result. Its more about the process, and experience, of improvising with another player. That’s where the real fun is. The end result is a collection of songs on a CD, but the actual act of creating those songs, that’s where the real joy of this album comes from. (NR)
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The story goes that in the spring of 2020 Christian Moser was playing a lot. During the day he was experimenting. Learning new techniques and pushing himself. In the evening he would record. These recordings weren’t ever meant for public consumption. They were recorded just for experimentations. As time went on, something about these recordings spoke to Moser and he decided to release the recordings as an album. ‘Spirited Sketches’ lives up to its name. Everything enclosed is a spirited sketch.
    ‘Yardang’ is the standout track on the album. The playing is free and liberating. There are sections when Moser is just grinding the strings, tapping the oud and generally making noises. It isn’t playing, but it is more than experimenting too. It reminds me that without experimentation there would be no real advancements in music, so it’s refreshing to hear someone just trying something new. Regardless of whether it works or not. There are sections on ‘Soil – Limitless Range’ where the scratching, bum notes and sliding are so captivating you are snapped out of it when Moser plays something conventional. In the background, there is a near-constant tinkering noise. Is it the sound of chains jangling in the background? Small bells attached to Moser that tinkle when he moves? Or noise bleeding in from somewhere around him? At first, they are distracting. With each chime, they take you our of Moser’s playing, but over time they start to add some texture to the oud. They give the songs a slightly Arabian vibe and transport you from your lounge/bedroom/office to somewhere more exotic.
    The real enjoyment of the album comes from hearing Moser working things out as he goes. “So if I try a thing, the oud will sound like this? Awesome” you can almost hear him thinking during ‘Angle of Repose’. Or any other track for that matter. It doesn’t actually matter what he plays. That isn’t where the fun comes from. It’s like when you go on holiday with friends. The best part of the holiday isn’t reaching your destination. It’s getting there. The same is true with ‘Spirited Sketches’. (NR)
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PS STAMPS BACK – AU BOUT DE LA NUIT (CD by 1000+1 Tilt Recordings/Ant-Zen)
DEATH DRIVE – INTO THE NEVER (CD by 1000+1 Tilt Recordings)

The big surprise here is not (perhaps) a new album by the Greek PS Stamps Back, although they write “what’s the point in doing music if you can’t play live”, and still deciding to continue, but the fact that this album is a co-release on the band’s imprint and Ant-Zen. For some reason, I assumed the latter gave up doing physical releases some time ago, but I also admit I am not a man that is a die-hard fanboy of the label. In the past, we had a dedicated reviewer of their releases and that wasn’t me. Works of literature, of which I recognized the title of the album and ‘High Rise’, but not so much the others, inspired the pieces on this new release. I should read more, I guess. The cover also lists the equipment used, various synthesizers but also field recordings. Over the years PS Stamps Back moved towards a techno-inspired sound and that’s what they are doing here as well, a bit better than before, a bit stronger and a bit more complex in terms of rounded songs. Sometimes it is pretty straight forward dance-oriented music, but PS Stamps Back also have these slower arpeggio building pieces that are less about dance music, more a sort of cosmic trip, as in the opening piece, ‘A Boy And His Dog’. Come to think of it, the cosmic (Berlin School) synthesizer trip rings through more pieces here, which is adds a fine dynamic to the music, combined with a more 8-s synth sound in some other pieces. PS Stamps Back take their time to explore each piece and at sixty-nine minutes this is a long album, but it is the variety that saves it for me.
    Death Drive’s ‘Into The Never’ is a release by the Greek label, but, and again, I am no fanboy, this could have been on Ant-Zen as well, or maybe the sidekick label Hymnen. I don’t think I heard of Death Drive before, which seems to be the vehicle of Kostas Karamitas. The cover is all black and silver and fits the grimness of the music. In the opening track, ‘Inhibition’, beats are hammered down, right into your skull, without any mercy. Synthesizers are erected like walls, thick and high, like a prison perhaps. Music as a terminal disease. There is a combination of pieces with much rhythm and others with a noisier drone basis. Looking outside, a beautiful early spring day in The Netherlands doesn’t exactly quite match the grim character of this music. I should have played this a few weeks ago when it was grey and utterly cold. This is the soundtrack to such bleak days (I am not known as a lover for all things extreme hot or cold), a dance macabre if you will. If the PS Stamps Back release is a bit too long for my taste, then the thirty-three minutes of Death Drive is a bit too short, and a forty-five/fifty-minute length for both would be preferred. I realize this is a futile problem! I should accept them for what they are: fine albums. (FdW)
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The first time I heard music by Alice Just when I reviewed the ‘4 In 1 Volume 4’ compilation (see Vital Weekly 1043). Her pieces were are a fine delight, and as that was a release by Insane Music, and the sound a bit similar to that of Bene Gesserit, both in music and voice, I thought it was perhaps a new guise for label boss Alain Neffe and his friends. I was wrong, of course, Alice Just is indeed a new artist, and she just delivered her debut CD on a new label from Brussels, called Mister Pan Records. Thirty-four minutes and ten songs, that sounds like an album of pop music! It’s long days here at the VW HQ, listening to endless variations of drone music, improvisation and a dash of noise, that one needs something else for a change. When it’s time to ‘close’ an issue and re-read it all, I usually play some reggae dub music, not to be distracted by much else! Alice Just plays keyboards and sings. I assume she also uses loop devices to loop part of her voice and there is sometimes a small, weird sound, like the rustling of paper or teacups. In ‘Il Me Disait’, there is a strong drum sample. Not being able to speak French, I have no idea what these songs are about, although I know the title of this album translates as ‘small fish’. Alice Just doesn’t keep her sound small. It is rather rich in production, joyous (so it seems to me), experimental but nothing too strange, a bit inspired by dada, and electro-poppy and pleasant to hear. The ghost of Insane Music, and especially Bene Gesserit lingers on here, certainly in the way Just bends her voice at times (although not to some of the extremes from Bene Gesserit). I thought it was all lovely stuff, here at the end of another day, listening to radical music. I could do with a bit of less radical yet not too normal pop music. Alice Just saves the day! I can foresee a great career in the outer limits of alternative pop music, once again possibilities open for concerts (of which I have no idea if Just is into that). (FdW)
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MAHLER HAZE – RIVERINE (CD by Sublime Retreat)

Besides a long text on the cover, which is more a poem of some kind than something informative, I started the CD by Bruno Duplant by not knowing much else about this release. Sublime Retreat didn’t add much information either. There are two parts of ‘Paysage no 5’, both exactly fifteen minutes and ‘Paysage no.6’, which is twenty minutes and one second. I reviewed quite a bit of Duplant’s music over the recent years, without having much clue as to what he does, in terms of instruments and so on. I would think that in many of his releases, field recordings play an important role and that these two/three ‘Paysage’, which can be translated as ‘landscape’. With such a title, it is easy to think about field recordings I would think, but these pieces are indeed wide open and spacious, like looking for a vast amount of land, hills, green grass, rather than trees or a forest. In the two parts of ‘No.5’, there is, I think, some sort of computer processing going, slowly altering and changing and with far, far away a dash of piano sounds; more in the first than in the second part. But in the second there might be some kind of different instrument that I couldn’t figure out; it might be a synthesizer. In ‘No.6’ we have, essentially, the same elements, but now it is a more orchestral composition for slow strings and wind instruments and the occasional bang on the piano. It has a fine, estranged melodic drift, floating on what seems, again, computer-processed sounds. I enjoyed all three pieces, but whereas the double bill of ‘No.5’ seemed also a bit standard to me, I found the orchestral quality of ‘No.6’ of great beauty and equally great sadness. Almost like a lament for a landscape.
    Paolo Ielasi’s third release is the first that he didn’t release himself (Vital Weekly 1232 and 1189) and from him, I do know he uses (semi-) modular synthesizers along with field recordings. This time his release has more tracks, and he likes to take his time to explore the limited sounds he prefers to use within the context of a composition. Ielasi’s music is minimal, but not necessarily quiet. As said, I think that he uses a few sounds, maybe even in real-time, slipping in a few recordings, feeding that to his machine(s) and when he finds a ‘sweet spot’ that he enjoys, he will work around that. That results in pieces with rather minimal development, but the development is there. Growing in the way the sounds are bend or in intensity, or just in density. The atmosphere in these six pieces is that of a controlled remote one; music that isn’t too demanding, but also not entirely something you can ignore. It is also not something that could be labelled as ambient, I would think. Some of these pieces are a bit too ‘busy’, such as the final one (they are all called ‘untitled’ and without a number). The first is the loudest of the lot with a mid-range drone and repeating chord changes. From there on things become way moodier, with obscured sounds, drones and textures, of which the second and fifth are my favourite. It’s quiet, shimmering and strange, the soundtrack for uncertain times. Those two make up almost half the release but all the six pieces are of high quality (if you don’t mind a bit of hiss/white noise in there). Great one!
    The least known here, for me that is, is Mahler Haze, of whom I reviewed one release before (Vital Weekly 882), of which/whom I still don’t know anything. In my previous review, I wrote they (?) were from Belgium, but I no longer remember why I thought so (one track here is called ‘Speelbos’, which is surely a Dutch word). The guitar plays the leading role in this project. The information doesn’t specify any hard facts in that respect either. We have five pieces here, all of which are dark and heavy on the use of the guitar and many effects. Ever since Merzbow had a CD in his early hardcore electronics phase (circa 1990), called ‘Rainbow Electronics’, it stuck in my mind that all of these guitar effects have distinct, bright (ugly, if you will) colours, hence that name, which I used in the previous review as well. Mahler Haze uses an overload of these and there is an organ-like sound that arises, and the guitar disappears. Not entirely, of course, as it shines through these massive waves and minimal ripples. I would think there is a bundle of loop stations at work here as well, and the result reminded me of some of the more experimental outings in the area of cosmic music, nothing too smooth with Mahler Haze, ambient, psychedelic and general darkness from all things drone and ambient (what we called ‘isolationism’ in the 90s), all blending in long pieces, that, however, hold enough variation within to keep me listening and spacing. The perfect soundtrack for a late-night drink, curtains closed, lights dimmed and a smoke at hand. All of that I will do and have that tonight and give the Haze another spin. (FdW)
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Dysphoricam Audio Productions is a new label from Brno, run by Josef Šetek. The label is described as an underground label that “will focus on releasing unique, non-traditional compilations of various music genres, especially everything close to prog, math, kraut, zeuhl, free jazz, technical/progressive/avantgarde metal, indie/post etc.” The first proof is this double LP presenting experimental bands from the Czech underground. Title ‘Jidna Hudba’ means different music’. And that’s what we get here; a diverse overlook of Czech underground music. Because of the title, I expected a wider spectrum than is offered here as most of the bands have influences of hardcore or grindcore, death metal and the likes. Territories that I do not know very well. Contributions are made by eight different groups in 25 tracks divided over two records. The first LP is subtitled ‘spiritual record’ and the second one ‘material record’. All recordings took place during 2019. I always like this kind of albums that offer an overview of a local scene, hoping to find a few original voices. The album with a track by Blachut from Brno. A quartet with a prominent role for accordion. Call it dada-folk-punk. Also, the ultra-short pieces by Masáž evolve in a similar vein.  Both bands remind me of the early punk-inspired, jumpy music. Ohne Stunde Minuten is the first band with a truly radical approach. A chaotic noise attack accepting no borders. Eá is a trio who deliver two math-rock pieces with prog rock tendencies. Mankurt offers some very fresh over the top mathcore. They make their debut on record with two very energetic titles. Same counts for Duobetic Homunkulus. The closing track ‘Sturmlineführer’ is by Nachttante, a powerful duo from Brno. Their track is really burning and described by themselves as dark sludge jazz. I can agree with that. The track that lasts eight minutes is a sequence of very different contrasting chapters of episodes. For all bands goes that they operate very eclectic and choose for very bizarre and contrasting twists and turns. In their highly dynamic eruptions, they combine very different idioms. The miniatures by Masáž stand out on his compilation. Because their tracks are ultra-short, they have the advantage to show many aspects of their work. (DM)
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Controlled Death is Maso Yamazaki (Masonna), Mayuko Hino founder of C.C.C.C. (well if you are interested you knew this). Limited to 400 copies. Such is the calibre and history of these two Artists any review is probably superfluous. It certainly is irrelevant to sales! So before I attempt the superfluous I should give the following where examples can be found. Controlled Death has six tracks “Devil’s Sacrifice” I to VI, consisting of vocals and Korg MS-20 drones. Mayuko Hino has two tracks Metaphysis & Instrumental Value, using self-made instruments &  six-theremin oscillators. The metaphysis is the neck portion of a long leg bone, which accounts for the full title on the LP “Metaphysis Bone Memory”. Described as “Death Industrial” this aptly distinguishing it from certain Power Electronics associations, Maso’s ‘vocals’ better described as screams… are heavily processed with distorted echoes. At places – notably, the end of II one can clearly hear the effects of an echo’s feedback looping artefact- so “heavily processed” might be better described as “annihilated”.  ‘Metaphysis’ also uses a ‘dark’ drone, but here these are overlaid by distorted and convoluted electronic textures which are more complex.  ‘Instrumental Value’ begins in a more restrained mode with cute electronic pings, whistlers and bell sound over a heartbeat. This slowly builds into a frenzy of electronics. Both Maso and Mayuko bring back into harsh noise a certain musicality that subjectivizes what can elsewhere be an academic or minimal exercise in sound art. Maso’s is an uncompromising emotion of slabs of screams and drone, whereas Mayuko’s achieves the same emotional frenzy by other means. Both achieve the apocalyptic annihilation of sound. One is tempted to say ‘This is Extremely Good Music’ – and if I did it would be only a shorthand of agreeing with the sentiments on the Wikipedia C.C.C.C. Entry, “Mayuko Hino in particular – advocated a very emotive and cathartic approach to noise music as opposed to the conceptual and intellectual approaches advocated by many European noise musicians…” which still is a shorthand. We do not live as categories, but as individuals – at times well aware of the visceral nature of existence, like these artists, as all great artists are. Or put another way, I’ll paraphrase  “Every work instantly becomes a concept precisely insofar as it is not supposed to serve as a reminder of the unique and entirely individual original experience to which it owes its origin.” Or rather from the catharsis of noise music the event of being horribly alive, the terrible truth of this being ‘death’ is made evident as a unique event. This ‘music’ has a sublime aesthetic in which the listener can Amor Fati. (Jliat)
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SURFACE STRUCTURE (LP by Grubenwehr Freiburg)

When I first started to get into noise, and extreme music, all I thought I wanted to hear was just searing static and bubbling static. As the years went on, I realise that I wanted more. I was after variation. That glorious feeling of when the music changes unexpectedly, going off in a different direction and taking you to an unknown place or sheer pleasure. Luckily, I have been able to find this feeling again and again. When I started playing ‘Surface Structure’, released through Grubenwehr Freiburg, I got such a thrill realising this was the kind of thing I was after at the start of my noise odyssey. Throughout both of the albums, I was confronted with some of the most abrasive walls I’d experienced since I stopped played 5-a-side football sports centres.
    ‘Surface Structure’ opens with independent artist and wildlife ecologist Rym Nouioua. This might not feel like the normal artist to kick off a noise compilation but Nouioua is a bat researcher and mostly creates her soundscapes using the sound of bats. It’s hard to know what bat sounds made up this 38-second recording, but it sets the mood perfectly. Harsh static erupts from the speakers filling the room. It doesn’t let up for a moment. It’s claustrophobic. Uncomfortable. Unrelenting and totally compelling.
    The album (packaged with wooden cover!) consists of 25-tracks. Each by a different musician, artist, or performer. On a first listen the majority of the tracks sound constant throughout. However, this isn’t true. After a few listens there are subtle changes, giving the tracks a feeling of flux. Torturing Nurse’s ‘II’ is a prime example of this. At first, it just sounds like a wall of feedback. There doesn’t appear to be much going on. Expect the unrelenting static. As ‘II’ grinds on you start to become aware of complex melodies gurgling under the surface noise. Once you’ve noticed this, it pulls in your attention until it’s all that you can concentrate on. This is what ‘Surface Structure’ does well. Much like a musical magic eye picture. At first, everything is just abstract and confusing, but once your eye, or ear, get used to what’s going on you start to see and hear, the real point of the piece.
    Despite all this brutal noise, there are moments of contemplation. B°TONG ‘The Strains of the Stairs’ is incredibly tender and thoughtful. For two-minutes B°TONG uses restrained sounds to create a feeling of slowly drifting down in molasses. As you sink deeper the sound gets more and more muffled. This change in tone really breaks up the violence of the previous dozen or so tracks. At its heart ‘Surface Structure’ is the album I dreamed of hearing back in those heady, pre-internet days. Throughout its 42-minute duration, we are presented with unrelenting sounds. David Leutkart’s ‘Untitled’ is claustrophobic and unyielding. Which each repetition of the alarm bells the uncompromising sounds bores down into you. This is music for people who want to test their threshold. Not just for the sheer scope of the abrasion but their ability to internalise brutalist noise and make it enjoyable. This is something teenage me would have longer to have. While I enjoyed this album, the younger version of me would have loved this more. It would have defined his musical outlook for at least six months. He would have worn it like a badge of honour and challenged others to play it in one sitting.
    ‘Surface Structure’ closes with The Haters. ‘Zerschlagen’ is two minutes of destruction. Bottles, metal, possibly tiles, are just getting battered for two-minutes. There is no real explanation as they why, or where, this carnage is taking place. This of course is nothing surprising. For the past few decades, The Haters, and their de-facto leader G.X. Jupitter-Larsen, have been laying venues, records, tyres, and equipment to waste. As ‘Zerschlagen’ continues, you get pulled into this world of destruction. It becomes almost hypnotic. The sounds of crashing glass and grinding metal become one. The thing about the Haters, and GX, I’ve always wondered is are they making a point about consumerism and how disposable it and our society is, or do they just like breaking shit? The answer is somewhere between the two. Ultimately it doesn’t matter as ‘Zerschlagen’ is as visceral as it gets. We started with the organic sounds of nature and we end with the sound of manufactured items being destroyed. This is a fitting thought to bookend the album on. (NR)
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Somewhere, sometime, so I believe, I heard music by Bernardo Devlin, yet I can’t remember anything about this. So maybe ‘Proxima B’ might a proper introduction or re-introduction? Discogs call him a singer-songwriter from Portugal, and he certainly is. He sings and the group behind him plays the music, drums, percussion, bass, tenor saxophone, cello and violin. I have no idea what he sings, not even what language. It might be Portuguese, but at times it sounds Hebrew. I easily admit I have no clue. In another universe, not mine, this might be classified as ‘experimental’ music, but to me, these eight songs are pretty standard. Devlin’s somewhat dark and raspy voice is no doubt great, again not in my universe, and certainly has a lot of ’emotion’ for those to see that sort of thing, but it is just my thing. I have no idea what prompted Devlin or his record label, to send a copy to Vital Weekly. From our previous 1273 issues one could gather we are not necessarily the world’s biggest fans of singer-songwriter material, and I am sure there is a whole world out there that loves this kind of thing. (FdW)
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Colin Fisher is a reputed multi-instrumentalist and composer from Canada. An important project is his duo with percussionist Brandon Valdivia called Not the Wind, Not the Flag, in operation since 2009. Fisher and Valvidia also take part in the trio I Have Eaten The City together with keyboard player Nick Storring. No doubt he is involved in many other ways in the improv and jazz scene of Canada. As I didn’t his work I did some listening and came across his collaboration jaw harp player Chick White, releasing a second effort last year ‘Our Water is Fire’. Quite astonishing! Very interesting shamanistic sounding improvisation. Listening to the solo album we are discussing now I couldn’t imagine it is the same musician. I guess he is a very multi-sided artist and engaged in very different musical projects. For this solo album – his fifth solo statement – he plays mainly guitar plus saxophone and electronics. The sound of guitar and saxophone are both electronically treated but never beyond recognition. The opening track ‘Zero Experience’ is a very spatial sounding ambient-like instrumental. Making clear that electronic treatments define the sound Fisher has in mind for this project. ‘Salient Charm’ is built from infectious guitar motives, with muted saxophone – reminding me of Jon Hassell – playing a solo line. ‘Coalescence’ is built from meandering guitar patterns over looped guitar patterns. ‘Sanctum’ may be the jazziest track, with jazzy saxophone by and great guitar licks. As the title of the album suggests, Fisher operates here in ambient territories, constructing clean sounding instrumentals of an introspective nature. The compositions as such were not very appealing to me. But it is absolutely a well-crafted and solid work. (DM)
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ISOLATED COMMUNITY – STAY INVISIBLE (CDR by Northumberland Audio Capture)

So far I really enjoyed the two releases by Richard Dunn and Rachael Talbot Dunn, also known as Isolated Community (see Vital Weekly 1257 and 1255), and it should be no surprise that when the mail arrived, and I saw there was a new album by them, it was that one that I played first from that day’s new mail. Ten new pieces/songs (whatever you fancy) by them, and it continues from their earlier work. I still know very little about them, their set-up, and therefore I am still to guess here. I would think synthesizers play a big role here, but I would think also a guitar, electronics of some kind, maybe field recordings, but more than before there is lots of space for the synthesizers. Again, the music veers between ambient and industrial, between rhythm and drone, and there is even less voice material than before, except in the scary ‘Dark Room’, with some choir samples and screaming, covering the middle ground between very early Current 93 and zoviet*france. It is followed by the very spacious piano sounds ‘You Should Have Seen It’, which shows us a bit about the variety of the music here. There is that ‘old school’ ambient industrial touch (lots of reverb and delay there), but also unmistakably cosmic edges, or even what could be the start of a techno piece, now stretched to a whole song and never becoming that techno piece (‘Spell’). A lovely album it is, once again, and another step forward in terms of variation, execution and production. Bring me more, please. (FdW)
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COMFORT CLUB 02 (fanzine by Amek)

Beep beep, goes my email, all day long. There is always a question to answer, an error to correct. Today, however, I had enough and should do what I know for many years is the best thing and that is to close the email program and take a dedicated moment every few hours to open the program, answer everything and close it again. I then made some tea (doctors orders!), picked up the second issue of Comfort Club, switched on the latest two releases by Amek Collective, sank back in a chair and started listening and reading. First, there was the Anarchist Mountains Trio, an actual trio of Jordan Christoff (synthesizer), Joseph Sannicandro (field recordings, electronics) and Stefan Christoff (electric guitar) and I sank back into a state of tranquillity. Finally! It was recorded on a summer’s day in Montreal and the six pieces are some absolutely gorgeous ambient spaces. A carefully constructed small orchestral sound exudes from these instruments, the guitar sounds like a cello, there are some bell sounds from the synthesizer and the field recordings are from a pastoral small village. Refined, lush textural music that came in like slow sea waves, coming, going, coming and going.  It had that minuscule bits and pieces of experimental sound that makes this stay away from the ages, new and old. Those mechanical repetitions in ‘Conspiracy Means Breathing Together’ are an example of that. This is sixty minutes of pure sonic bliss, along the lines of Stars Of The Lid, but then even more spaced out, especially the side long ‘Wodka (rework)’; not my preferred drink, as tea did a better trick.
    If there is something pleasant and even light with Anarchist Mountains Trio, then there is a massive dark cloud in the seven pieces on ‘Airbone, by label boss Angel Simitchiev (Mytrip, Dayin), who uses his real name for the first time, and Linus Schrab (V I C I M, Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet, Purlieu Recordings). The music was recorded together, in May 2019, when those things were easier, I assume. I would think guitars and effects play the lead here and there is a fine, mild, distortion to be noted in this music; that one thing you could call rock music, perhaps, but without the traditional aspects of rock music. No drums, no chord, just an endless sea of drones. The cascades are like on a wild night, rocking ashore, with the occasional rough bump, as in ‘Spores Of Humanity’. I am still reading Comfort Club #2 and while the musical mood changed into something darker, perhaps, for me, still tucked away with (another) cup of tea, that makes hardly any difference as I am used to playing weird, ringing, mildly distorted music and still being able to do read, or concentrate or, well, do mail stuff. A soundtrack for daydreamers with nightmares.
    As said, in the meantime I was reading the second issue of Comfort Club. These days when I review a fanzine, it usually goes with ‘sadly I don’t review that many fanzines, as I love these, so there you go; I said it again. In my early days, fanzines were the lifeline to the world that I desperately wanted to explore. Reading it like bibles, writing to all the names that looked good or sounded familiar. Perhaps that is not something people do these days; there aren’t many addresses in here and from Jim Haynes’ column, we learn we should not, repeat not, send a demo to Helen Scarsdale Agency. Times did change, I guess, although in the old days there was a lot of crap going around as well; it just took longer before it arrived. In this second issue there are two interviews with other labels, Falt and tsss tapes, Richard Stevenson of Noisereceptor fanzine, besides musicians Ivan Shentov, Michał Fundowicz, Overdriven Dreams, and organizers Tsvetan Tsvetanov & Gjorgji Janevski and the concert space Fabrika Avtonomia. Plus the remembering of Omori, who died in April last year, by a few of his close friends, all from the circles of Amek Collective. All of this in a beautiful clean design, 74 pages, A5, black and white. It is fanzines such as this that make me rethink this whole Vital Weekly fleeting thing on the internet and wanting to go back to do doing the same thing. Fanzines on paper. Why aren’t there more of them (or why they don’t reach me) (FdW)
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BMB CON. – #14: SUDDEN NOISE (cassette, private)

Unfortunately, there aren’t many releases by Anglo-Dutch duo (former trio) BMB con., Justin Bennett and Roelf Toxopeus. I am not sure why that is; I assume partly because they are tied up in other activities, but maybe also because their work is generated on location and sometimes part of a performance. I’ve seen them a couple of times in concert, using acoustic sources and the concert space as their instruments. It’s musique concrète that comes alive through action. On a release, this visual element is of course not there, but I think it is made by the music. ‘Sudden Noise’ takes a new look at the old world, or, BMB con. went back to places where they did recordings before, but now after the first lockdown. Is the world quieter these days or not? The trip starts at the A12 motorway, near their studio, via their home into the Dutch national park De Hoge Veluwe and then back home. What we don’t see is the action carried out on these locations; this is not some pure field recordings sort of thing. Sure there is the sound of birds and wind, captured in a forest, but there is also some crackling of branches and leaves and sounds that are hard to define. The A12 motorway has very little cars and yet lots of other sounds. Much has to do with how BMB con. captures these sounds, I guess, with either very high-end microphones, or perhaps low-end means. Also, I have no idea what happens when they return home; what kind of process is applied in editing, reworking, cutting, layering this material? I have no idea. ‘Fenced In’, the longest piece here, is a studio piece, and I would think, here all the recordings end up in a blender and gets a good twist and turn, possibly with the addition of computer treatments. After all these years, fourteen releases strong, it all remains a beautiful mystery to me. I was pleasantly surprised to see all their releases on Bandcamp,  and got them all, even the ones I still cherish on CD! (FdW)
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HARDWORKING FAMILIES – A ROOM AND A FROG (cassette by Invisible City Records)
BROKEN SHOULDER – 4 (cassette by Invisible City Records)

One of my favourite cassette labels is Invisible City Records from Gateshead in the UK. The two main reasons are that I dig the music quite a bit, it all being endless variations on the notion of all things drone, field recordings, and lo-fi technology, plus I very much like their black and white aesthetic in the cover art. It never looks cheap, like it did when we Xeroxed our covers back in the 80s. A third reason is that I discover new names and meet old friends again.  Friends such as Sindre Bjerga, from Norway, and whose music I reviewed on many occasions and also saw many of his concerts and Stuart Chalmers, also no stranger to these pages. The two of them played together on a couple of occasions, but this is a straightforward split cassette. Bjerga has a live recording from February 14, 2020, in his home town of Stavanger, in the lovely surrounding of Consul80 (check out the record store in there, should you be in the neighbourhood). As I said, I saw Bjerga on numerous occasions by now, maybe 25 times and is there is one thing you can say about him, is that he plays the same thing differently all the time. The word ‘lo-fi’ pops up in these pages a lot, and Bjerga has been lo-fi for a long time with his relatively easy set-up of a small mixer, a few Walkmans, a metal pipe and some amplified children toys. His cassettes may change over time, but his approach to the material and equipment doesn’t. The outcome does. In these fifteen minutes, he plays a very dense piece of field recordings of what seems water running down some pipes (maybe central heating?), slowly merging with more obscured sound, picked up with a microphone down a tube, to another resonant layer. It fits with what Chalmers does on the other side, using his “Swaramandal, tapes, FX pedals, field rec.” I saw him once in concert, quite some time ago, and was impressed by that. Over the years his music developed and has got better all the time. In this improvised piece (that also some editing), he uses the straight forward layering of various dense sound events into a massive cloud, taking the drone development of long fade in and long fade out; not the cigar figure that some other people think drone music is. It rises naturally, and you know it is at its peak and then slowly dies out. I guess for the man we know for his collage-like approach this massive drone exercise is quite a different beast, but very delightful.
    Then we meet Several Wives and Diurnal Burdens, also no strangers to these pages, but of whom I don’t know too much. I would think of both projects and one-person operations, as the credits are Several Wives: Guitar, Bass, Bow, Loopers, Reverb, Pitch, Delay and Diurnal Burdens: Tapes, Synths, Delay/Looper, Field Recording. But surely, that could also apply to more persons in one band. Interestingly enough, it is not easy to hear these instruments back in the sixty-four minutes and fourteen tracks they recorded. Whatever Several Wives are doing with a bass and guitar, it hardly resembles the music. There is a great lo-fi atmosphere in these drones, evolving and revolving around low-resolution samples, loops and textures. Dark is the other imperative word here, as that is one of those other trademarks of the label. It is music to play late at night and it can scare the living daylight (nightlight?) out of you? Is that the music or is it something in your house? Remarkably, these pieces are throughout quite short, average, I’d say, five minutes, which is a rare thing in this field, but it works well, I’d say. There is some fine variation within this lot.
    From Hardworking Families, also known as Tom Bench from Brighton, I reviewed a CDR before (Vital Weekly 1146), which I enjoyed, if also a few long times. On this new cassette two live recordings from 2017, both around sixteen minutes each. I have no idea if Bench applied any editing to these recordings, or they are ‘complete’. As before there is a sharpness in this music, coming from electronics and, perhaps, some kind of synthesizer, ‘mixer feedback’, turntables in combination with field recordings and amplified objects. In his February 2017 concert in Gateshead, Bench certainly reached for a fine blast of noise, another angle that this label is keen to explore with their releases of all things lo-fi. The brutality is both in the use of loud sounds and these being short and following a method of cutting them up. Seven months later in his home-town, the noise is under control, being ‘quieter’, kind of pushed away (I realize it might be the recording or the mastering), but crank up the volume, and you’ll hear that is not entirely true. Again, Bench leaps on a path of distortion and mayhem, but halfway through the field recordings become audible and find a place in the crackles of a tick and a scratch. A fine document!
    The unknown quantity here is Broken Shoulder. I would think that previous albums would be ‘1’, ‘2’ etc. but no; in fact, he has six albums listed on Discogs, of which ‘4’ is the most recent. There is no other information here. Following the three drone variations, this is something else. To start with, I would say this is not really drone music; not exclusively that is. Broken Shoulder sits behind a bunch of keyboards and plays melodic stuff. What ties it in with the label aesthetic is the lo-fi character of the music. Maybe it is the way this is recorded and mixed, but there is most certainly a very direct feeling about all of this. Nothing very smooth but nice loud keyboard. The drones as such are in the background and on top, there are that melodic touch and some ‘other’ sounds and textures. Maybe from additional electronics, maybe these are field recordings, such as the village square voice mixed in with ‘Get Involved In Spring Stuff In My Town’, with slow repeating motifs on the keyboards. I would not be surprised to learn Broken Shoulder is a collector of the Bontempi organ. The music is dark as well, also in that regard, there isn’t much change in direction for this label. I would think this release was my favourite of this new lot, as it seemed to step into slightly different territory for Invisible City Records, whereas the others are and did what you were coming. (FdW)
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PELS – SCHAKELBREUK JOZEF (Box of crayons + DL by esc.rec)

Odd vinyl formats, shaped LPs with or without pictures, tapes, reels, 8-tracks, we’ve seen these and more formats over the many years of Vital (Weekly). I don’t think a box of crayons was something we found on our desk before, as a review item. But here we are.
    From esc. rec, the Deventer, The Netherlands based label for adventurous music comes to this oddity entitled Schakelbreuk Jozef, by Pels. And an odd one out it surely is. On the face of the slightly naive drawing on the box of crayons (a drawing, like one could make with the provided crayons) one might expect a smattering of ditties or lullabies of shiny happy madness gone somewhat wrong.
    The tunes served by Pels (Maarten Wesselius) are, strangely enough, not even too far from those marks. I might add: Adi Gelbart meets Spinvis-on-acid meets Harry Merry. Pels crafts his vignette-style shortish sample-based sketches from catchy hooks and silvery melodies straight from the toolbox labelled Casiotone for the painfully alone. But it’s so upbeat, seductively addictive, brazenly wonky, cleverly stylized it all makes total post-modern melting pot sense.
    “Spreading God’s gospel and he’s in love with fountain pens” is surely one of the keepers from the lyrical file of Schakelbreuk Jozef. Add sickly slick and sticky shag carpet soft-focus porn ‘jazz’ to a mix in which all of a sudden glitches pry open vistas towards gabba-breakcore and the pastiche cocktail is 100% certified brilliant. A leap into and beyond the hip-hop void too, cut up and stuck back together upside down and inside out.
    A long longed for leap too, so it turns out, as Pels pushes exactly the right buttons of nostalgia and future romantics, of retro maniac crate digging and Antwerp-style Now-DaDa instant composing. Think: Felix Kubin and Speleocombo, with a touch of DJ Shadow (if he’d really dig wry irony). (SSK)
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