Number 1275

SOM DESORGANIZADO 2018 (2CD by Sonoscopia) *
SOM DESORGANIZADO 2019 (2CD by Sonoscopia) *
GINTAS K – THE WAYS (CD by gk rec)
JARL – HYPERACUSIS (CD by Zoharum) *
BONDI & DINCISE – LA LAVINTSE (CD by Insub Records) *
MB – LASTFIRST (CD by Standa) *
RICHARD CARRICK – LANTERNE (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
CARHIEFSCHOOL (CD by Transduction Records) *
SCUM – LIFE SENTENCE (CD by Aussaat) *
MACHINEFABRIEK – WITH DRUMS (LP by Esc Rec, CD by Machinefabriek) *
IDEA FIRE COMPANY – THE NEW LINE (12″ by Vocational Sound Company) *
PRIX RUSSOLO 2016-2017 (2CD by Prix Russolo)
EMERALD SUSPENSION – BEFORE ≤15 (CDR by Oscillation Productions) *
TYSON SWINDELL – L’AVENTURE (cassette, private) *
ERIN DEMASTES – THING MUSIC (cassette by Eh?) *

SOM DESORGANIZADO 2018 (2CD by Sonoscopia)
SOM DESORGANIZADO 2019 (2CD by Sonoscopia)

From Porto In Portugal hails Sonoscopia, an organization that deals with “experimental music, sound research and its interdisciplinary intersections”, both as organizers of concerts, but also art projects, educational activities and publications. Since 2011, they produced 700 events, also in other countries. Sometimes they have releases documenting their interactions, and these are always a pleasure to see and hear. Both of these double CDs are housed in a carton box, for the 2018 version is comes with a long folded drawing by Mazen Kerbaj and six cards with photos by Rui Pinheiro, while the 2019 versions also have six photos by the same photographers, it now has 138 (!) illustrations by Ilan Manouach & Microworkers, which deal with the musicians and their music, and some could be graphic scores. It hardly fits the box! Both boxes have two CDs and each is group improvisation. All of these are generated during an event called ‘Som Desorganizado’, “an annual meeting promoted by Sonoscopia, gathering ideas and sounds from innovative sonic explorers. It is based around open presentations and discussions of artistic works, collaborative efforts and new directions in music”. These four should perhaps not be played in one long session; I can imagine that would be a bit too much. There are lots of new names and some of them are active on multiple CDs.
    The first CD from 2018 is called ‘Transhumants’ and sees the biggest group of all four discs. Marcello Magliocchi (drums), Mathias Boss (violin), Joao Pedro Viegas (bass clarinet), Maresuke Okamoto (cello), Alberto Lopes (electric guitar), Henrique Fernandes (objects), and Gustavo Costa (percussion). The second CD, ‘Voix Celeste’ has the smallest group, a trio of Julius Gabriel (saxophone), Constantin Herzog (double bass) and Gustavo Costa (drums). The first one has five pieces, spanning forty-one minutes, and it all is very much along the lines of improvised music. I would think this has to do with the instruments used, and maybe the mindset of the musicians. There is some fine interaction, even when I also had, occasionally the idea that the amount of players leads to some reservation among the players. Too crowded, perhaps? That said, there is much to enjoy on this release, as at times there is great, uncontrolled energy around this (maybe another side of a crowded stage? People dare to do more?). Especially when the group bursts out into a more noise oriented thing, there is much to enjoy; in the quieter moments, they allow for some much-needed rest. And finally (listening and reviewing is not always a linear event), the last one I heard is the trio disc and this one is the most free-jazz inspired disc here, with a large role for the saxophone, taking it all away. In this form, it is perhaps the music that I enjoy most; even when I like some rough energy on display here, the form it takes is too traditional for me. I noted the great musicianship of the players, the interaction between them, but it’s not so my kind of music.
    Onto the 2019 version, the first CD is called ‘Aeroles’ and features Stephen Dorocke (rhyzophon), Alberto Lopes (electric guitar), Henrique Fernandes (objects), Joao Ricardo (electronics), and Gustavo Costa (percussion).  This quintet starts in a fairly traditional improvised music way, with Costa rattling his kit for a while, but a soon as the others join in, it becomes different, more abstract and more interesting. The differences between the two instruments here, drums and guitar, on one hand, and the non-instruments on the other hand lead to two pieces, some thirty-five minutes in total of the strong interaction of improvised music and electro-acoustic improvisation. Especially when things got quieter, halfway through ‘Aeroles’, there is a great delicacy to be noted within these players. Feedback lurks in a dark corner, objects carefully touched upon and the guitar/drums only interacting when necessary. The second disc is ‘Sonoscopi’, with Bertrand Denzler (saxophone), Alberto Lopes (electric guitar), Henrique Fernandes (objects), and Gustavo Costa (percussion) (making Costa, the only one appearing on all four discs). Here too, there is that combination of instruments and objects, but with the instruments being a majority it is, perhaps, a bit more traditional. However, Denzler’s saxophone has an interesting level of abstraction that works well. Sometimes it howls like feedback, sometimes it sounds like a whispering voice, and combined with the objects of Hernandes it marks a distinctly ‘other’ sound than the guitar and percussion. Oddly enough, this is perhaps more an electro-acoustic improvisation. I would think there has been quite some mixing and editing on this one, but I couldn’t reason why I believe this to be. It is not that important I would think. The music is great. (FdW)
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GINTAS K – THE WAYS (CD by gk rec)

The sounds emitting from the speakers when playing The Ways by Gintas K (the K abbreviates his last name Kraptavičius) explore glitch and cut-up technique in live improvised performance settings: as if data systems run AWOL and amok on the fucking hairy amp like a skittish yet controlled bouncing Perpetuum mobile ball.
    The live – no overdub – improvisations on this collection roughly span the last two years of computer, midi keyboard and controller instant composing by the Lithuanian mastermind. A productive period which also saw the release to the mesmerizing Sound and Spaces cassette, Amnesia CD and – above all – the monumental work Variations in a-moll for a granular synthesis as published on CD by esc.rec. And in a way, no pun intended, The Ways coalesces elements of the mentioned works into new and uncharted broken up and scattered action-composing pieces, wholly experimental and recorded bristling with live-wire energy.
    Where Sound and Spaces veered into the world of “veritable musique concrète-ishness” (as I wrote at the time), The Ways races past this post and heads straight for a horizon way beyond even the most uneasy nervous or irrational patterns we recall from the likes of for example Hecker or Russell Haswell. Maybe most of all, these sounds bring to mind explorations Pierre Boulez could’ve undertaken if he had been equipped with present-day technical means like Gintas K is using – an aural vista devoid of notions of here, there, were, real, abstract, romantics. And in the case of Gintas K, a resonance beyond the cerebral: somewhere above and beyond man & machine and as such – at least in my ears – a logical companion to for example Zeno van den Broek’s work Ma(n|chine) (for drum robots and human percussionists). (SSK)
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Erik Jarl is a busy man! About six months ago I reviewed his Inner Domain double CD, and now he shows up with ‘Hyperacusis’, and you can choose a CD or LP. I am very much the man who enjoys CD releases, certainly when it comes to delicate music. Delicate, you may ask, Jarl? Indeed, maybe he’s not the finest example of a delicate musician, but also in his case, I enjoy the crisp, digital quality of a CD. ‘Hyperacusis’ [wiki], “is a highly debilitating and relatively uncommon hearing disorder, characterized by an increased sensitivity to certain frequencies and volume ranges of sound, or a lower than average tolerance for environmental noise. A person with severe hyperacusis has great difficulty tolerating many everyday sounds, which are perceived by the person as uncomfortably loud and sometimes physically painful.” It is not the same as tinnitus. I am sure buyers of this CD are most likely not those who suffer from it. As we know it, Jarl plays drone music and his variation is minimal and strong, as opposed to minimal and quiet. His music is ringing, loud and clear. It seems as if in these pieces Jarl especially set out to do something very minimal. The first piece starts with a repeating sound and slowly doubles and morphs into bigger drones while retaining that early repetition until that too is morphed into something else. The second piece starts in a dark drone modus, but it goes through different routines throughout its twenty-two-minute duration, but each section also very minimal. This piece reminded me of a more experimental piece by Conrad Schnitzler, maybe because of Jarl’s occasional use of sequenced rhythms from synthesizers towards the end of this, rather than using drum machines. This is yet another excellent sturdy work of massive drone proportions. (FdW)
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The first one is a release that says Bondi and D’Incise, but they are the composers here, not the performers. How do you compose together, I wondered, that someone is going to play. ‘La Lavintse’ (I couldn’t find a proper translation) is a work performed by Clara de Asis (acoustic guitar), Christoph Schiller (spinet), Marina Tantanozi (flutes), Tassos Tatarogllou (trumpet) and Mara Winter (flutes). It must be that odd-ball instrument here, the spinet, with its baroque sound that made me wonder about it. The music is far from baroque. It is split into four parts and each of these is equally slow in everything. Development, playing and so on. You could easily believe that this piece (these pieces) contains the repetition of notes, but I would think it is not. No idea what the score looks like, but I would think it is a bunch of instructions, such as ‘play this note for this amount of time’, ‘rest’, ‘play that note’, etc. and that each player can determine a duration for him or herself. The others don’t know which duration is chosen and so, differences in the work appear. The music is all acoustic and intimate, like a small chamber ensemble playing. It took me some time to get into this; I probably didn’t find enough peace and quietness to sit down and take it all in, but after a few days I did, and I played it twice in a row, put it away until it was time to write these words and enjoying the strange tranquil music again. It is the slowness of the tones that I enjoyed a lot, that sometimes seemed a bit dissonant, twisting against some other notes, but that made it even better.
    Something entirely different is the CD by Jason Kahn and Antoine Läng, both performing using their voice and Läng also on megaphones. Two live concerts, one from 2020 and one from 2016. The 2020 one was recorded in the Leman Architecture Connexion in St. Gingolph, which for centuries has been used by “Swiss Alpen farmers and shepherds as both a call to prayer and a kind of chant demarcating their living space for as far their voices will carry”; the other one is more regular concert setting, at Cave 12 in Geneva. That St. Gingolph version starts with field recording, so we know they are outside (distancing!). They don’t use words, something I already knew from Kahn’s previous voice works.  It is not easy to describe, but something you must hear (well, maybe that goes for pretty much everything I write about?). It is as if he takes a deep breath and trying to vocalize that. Sometimes it is more like shouting, certainly on the two recordings here. I quite enjoyed the first one, with its outdoor setting and the two men doing what they do, almost creating an electro-acoustic sound with their voices. In the surroundings of Cave 12, it sounds different, it stays more on an equal level, with all the sighing, moaning and shouting; this sounded more like a conventional improvisation for voices but in the outdoor piece it all becomes mysterious, intense and more like, as said, like an electro-acoustic piece; it moved through more variations, and it was, also, like being privy to an obscure ritual. This is not a record to play and do something else; this one needs your undivided attention. (FdW)
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One-half of Static Tics is Lukas Simons, a guitarist mostly, with a career that expands now decades and his discography containing many releases and as many styles. You could write a book on the man, I guess. The other half is Henk Bakker on bass clarinet. As a duo they have been going for quite some time, maybe close to twenty years? Here they team up with Los Siquicos Litoraleños, of whom I never heard, a five-piece with by the looks of it a traditional rock set-up when it comes to instruments. They are from Argentina and while touring Europe on several occasions they stopped by in Rotterdam to recorded with Static Tics. The instruments may be traditional, their music is far from traditional. Absurdism or Dadaism is a term that might describe this better. The music is weird, incoherent, alien, strange; at times I had the idea that a song contained two randomly mixed different songs. But if you listen closer than there is an idea to insanity here, and you recognize influences from weird folk music, psychedelic, free improvisation, big band/fanfare (Bakker piping up with his bass clarinet), krautrock but yet also strangely melodic and, dare I say, normal. The more you hear of this, the more you recognize a song structure, a bass line, repeating guitar motives and so on. It took me some time to get used to this, but once I ‘dug’ (or I thought I did), I enjoyed it quite a lot. This might be by far the strangest release of this week. (FdW)
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MB – LASTFIRST (CD by Standa)

It should be no secret that Maurizio Bianchi ‘found’ God and is into biblical things. This new one lays it on heavily, with a quote from the book of the Apocalypse, or also known as Revelations; “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end”. Not certainly to be filed under ‘humour’. Those words are also the titles to the eight pieces on the CD, and 8 is a significant number in the bible (appearing 155 times)… look it up when you are playing the dystopian sounding music that MB presents here. It no longer has the harshness of his earlier work, nor the heavily on effects dwelling music from after his comeback. It’s at the start of the comeback where ‘FirstLast’ started, with ‘First Day Last Day’. This is a rework of that album, and as usual, mixed by Pharmakustk (I never understood why you would do as a composer of electronic). I would think he has some synth-based music here, or perhaps some orchestral samples, that he plays around with, without any notions of start and end, like there is no alpha and no omega, just an ever-lasting, continuous flow of sound, mood, or music, whatever you would want to call this. Each of these pieces just starts and just ends, and as a non-believer, I could see that as the soundtrack that defines life: there is just a start and there is just an end, nothing before or after. I would think that is very much against the Christian belief of resurrection after the final judgment. But, then, I am sure this is music that anyone could use to his or her end; I saved it for a less sunny day, as this is the soundtrack for a miserable day. Plenty of those, of course, in what people still refer to as ‘strange times’.
    If MB is the founding father of industrial music in Italy, then Mauthausen Orchestra is one of his earliest followers. This was the project from Pierpaolo Zoppo, who released a bunch of cassettes from 1982 to 1988 on Aquilifier Sodality, Broken Flag and so on and then when on a hiatus until 1997. He died in 2012 and since there have been some posthumous releases of which this is one. The title may refer to private thoughts he had, music as an afterthought perhaps. These pieces were recorded from 2009 to 2012 and now released with the blessing of his family. I must admit I am not too well-versed in all the Mauthausen Orchestra releases, just the occasional ones I came across, which I enjoyed. This new one, I found surprisingly good. It is quite a mixed bag of pieces, not just one long power electronics trip. Some of these pieces are rather ‘ambient’… well in a perverse sort of ambient manner, that is. Mauthausen Orchestra likes to play clustered tones on his keyboards, fed these through some sound effects (delay, chorus, phaser, flanger and so on) and create, just like MB, his dystopian world of sound. When I recently read the book about Ramleh, I came across the term ‘bleak psychedelic and that is also the perfect description of the music here. It is indeed bleak and grey, dark and alien, but it has also that psychedelic quality to it, where one can get completely lost in it, especially if you play this on headphones. Then the claustrophobic sounds gnaw at you, so not for the weak of heart. Surely, the harsh noise is something that is not forgotten in this collection, but it is balanced with the ‘quieter’ pieces and showcases very well what the missed talent of Zoppo was capable of. This could be your introduction if you want to find out more.
    The unknown quantity here is Paul Beauchamp, whom we earlier met as a guest for Nurse With Wound (Vital Weekly 1261) and on trio disc with Jochen Arbeit and Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo (Vital Weekly 772). I don’t think I heard a solo album by him. He had two previous releases, Pondfire” (Boring Machines, 2015) and “Grey Mornings” (Boring Machines, 2017), and this is his third, at thirty-six minutes/one piece not very long. He is no longer using acoustic instruments and the studio is the instrument, sampling percussion, stretching them into drones and ambient passages. Sometimes this percussion element pops up (at one point it took me with complete surprise). In these thirty-five minutes, Beauchamp moves across uneven terrain, not as in ‘non-coherent, but his music takes various shapes and shifts back and forth between these drone passages, long ringing and sustaining, sometimes with a slow rhythmic swing, but then also with very minimal, very rudimentary beats; more pulses than beats and not necessarily coming from the low and slow bass drum. Everything flows organically and the only ‘problem’ I had with this was “why stop at thirty-six minutes”, why not add a few more variations of this and make it forty-five/fifty minutes. As said, that is not a problem or complaint, but just me craving for a bit more. (FdW)
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From Naples and Glasgow hail Olivier di Placido (electric guitar) and Fritz Welch (drums, percussion, contact mics). The first we know as someone who plays a lot with _SEC and the second is one half of Trouble Tracer. I reviewed two of their previous duets before (Vital Weekly 1048 and 1209) and they have a fourteen-track album, recorded in Glasgow and Naples in the spring of 2020. That made me wonder how this album was recorded; together in two different studios or separate and then mixed together? You don’t know these days any more how such a thing works, uncertain times and all. Despite all the chaos within the music of this duo, this music is strangely coherent. Of course, one reason for that might each of the pieces started with one player laying down an improvisation on tape and sending it to the other for a musical response. And that makes it ‘easier’ (maybe not the right word) to be more coherent? It didn’t affect the vibrant energy of these pieces. It still works like charm. The music is energetic, almost a punk rock version of improvised music, with no reservations to bending the techniques to play their instruments and nothing, lasts for very long, maintaining some great dynamic level. Sure, noise plays a role as is to be expected, but it never seems to be about a pure, all-noise assault. The music can be quiet and introspective; well, within reason of course. It never drops beyond the level of audibility. Both guitar and drums are truly tortured and music teachers worldwide shake their heads in disbelief. We would never train you to play like this, they would say, but rules are there to be broken. Thirty-six minutes of guitar and drums biohazard storm. (FdW)
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RICHARD CARRICK – LANTERNE (CD by New Focus Recordings)

Composer Richard Carrick studied in the US with Brian Ferneyhough (New Complexity) and further studies at IRCAM in Paris and the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague. He has taught in many countries and nowadays, he teaches at the Berklee College of Music, combined with his activity as a composer, conductor and pianist. His work as a composer appeared so far on New Focus Recordings and New World Records with albums that feature ensemble Either/OR (‘The Flow Cycle for String’) and musicians from the New York Philharmonic (‘Cycles of Evolution’) as performers. Also, he has a solo guitar album out: ‘Stone Guitars’.  He is co-founder of the Either/Of Ensemble with whom he recorded a program of works by Romanian composer Iancu Dumitrescu about five years ago. On his new release ‘Laterne’ Carrick presents eleven of his compositions, short and some ultra-short works for very different instrumentations. But they differ also in other aspects. The opening work ‘La touche sonore sous l’eau’ for solo piano – played by Marilyn Nonken – reminded me most of all compositions of a time past: early 20th-century classical music from France. Other compositions are linked with other places and cultures. This counts for the miniature work  ‘Sanga’, featuring John Popham on the cello and Carrick on piano. And also for ‘Seongeum’ for solo violin that has Korean connotations, inspired on Pansori vocal gestures and is vibrantly performed by Lauren Cauley. ‘Une’ is an example of the ultra-short compositions found on this CD; a short duet for flute and piano, performed by Margaret Lancaster and Carrick himself, closely chasing another in a melodic setting. The title track ‘Lanterne’ is for flute performed by Margaret Lancaster and is an intimate piece that stays in the lower regions and is accompanied by vocal expressions by Lancaster. Carrick is also inspired by literature: ‘La Scéne Miniature’ for flute, piano, bass clarinet and cello, performed by ensemble Either/Or, is inspired on a murder scene from the novel ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus. Overviewing all the compositions, this release gives an excellent opportunity to discover the diverse chamber music of Carrick. The dedicated musicians perform the works with energy and intensity, which makes this an inviting release to become acquainted with the musical world of the composer. (DM)
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It is a long time ago I last heard new work by Zeena Parkins. I know here above all from the early phase of her career (No Safety, News from Babel, Ikue Mori, Elliott Sharp, etc.). Then I lost her out of sight. Parkins developed herself over the years into an electro-acoustic composer and an improviser, exploring new possibilities for harp, her main instrument. Ryan Sawyer is a new name for me. He is a drummer from Texas playing rock, jazz, zydeco, etc, before moving to New York in 1997 where he engaged himself in projects of improvised music and worked with Massive Attack, Boredoms, The Mekons, Thurston Moore, etc. Danish saxophonist Mette Rasmussen is the youngest of the three. She debuted in 2014 with her trio Riot. Her collaborations are many. Most of them in the context of free improvisation and noise rock, in collaborations with drummer Chris Corsano, Fire! Orchestra, Tobias Delius, John Edwards, Moe, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, etc. This is her third record for Relative Pitch and presents a new collaboration. No idea how they met. Parkins and Sawyer however were part of another already existing trio, Green Dome, with Ryan Ross Smith on piano. In this collaboration with Rasmussen they interact in six collective improvisations. Opening improvisation ‘Begiunners, Begges, Beatle, Belt, Believers’ opens with great focused playing by Rasmussen and immediately had me on the edge of my seat. Sax and drums can easily be identified on this recording and so the rest must come from the electric harp played by Parkins. She uses so many extended techniques that the sound isn’t recognizable as a harp most of the time, nor as a string instrument either. Often it sounds like an electric or even electronic instrument of some kind. No problem, but in combination with the raw and physical sound produced by Rasmussen and the rolling patterns by Sawyer, it didn’t work for me. There are lots of interesting and strong moments, using a range of dynamics and intensity, but overall I couldn’t connect with their approach and chemistry. After several listenings the powerful and pronounced playing by Rasmussen I enjoyed it most. And I would love to hear a solo album by Parkins where she leads us through her sonic world. (DM)
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See Through 4 is a quartet by Toronto-based bassist and composer Pete Johnston. Johnston comes from a musical family and works as a lecturer on ethnomusicology. Considering his musical output however one would think making music is his main activity. Being a very productive artist he developed his own perspective as a composer in an intense dialogue with important names from the jazz tradition that inspire him. In the last five years, he recorded material with his projects See Through 3 and See Through 5. And also with this main vehicle See Through 4 that is now delivering their third album, titled ‘Permanent Moving Parts’, giving life to his latest compositions. With each release by this quartet, Johnston works with different musicians. Intentionally I guess. This time with Lina Allemano (trumpet), Michael Davidson (vibraphone) and Jake Oelrichs (drums) as performers, plus Johnston himself  – as ever – on bass. Only Jake Oelrichs participated in earlier incarnations. For this new recording, Johnston composed eight short – between three and seven minutes – compositions. Complex and inventive compositions that make their point effectively in a short period. Playfully his compositions move very much within jazz parameters in my perception. A lot is happening in his constructions. On the other hand, performance is balanced and controlled. Never wild, but always solid and bringing the composition itself to the forefront. (DM)
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CARHIEFSCHOOL (CD by Transduction Records)

Last week I was in doubt about Bernardo Devlin, this week it is a Japanese three-piece called Carthiefschool, even when I like their name. They are a guitar/vocals, bass and drum trio from Sapporo, started in 2016 and are compared to 54-71, of whom I had also not heard. They have twelve tracks here that are best described as post-punk, and it is not bad at all. You hear all the old post-punk suspects in this, I don’t know, The Birthday Party, Pere Ubu, and all those that came down with time inspired by that, of which I only know the all-female bands Candelilla and Savages, both of whom I enjoyed, because I caught both of in concert by accident and furthermore nothing more. I have no idea what these Japanese lyrics are about, but it sounds all quite emotional, with the shouting and shrieking. It is not bad at all, but far outside what Vital Weekly is about. (FdW)
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There are times when how you listen to a piece of music can be more important than what you are listening to. A few years ago, I was on a train leaving Paris for Dijon. It was super early in the morning and everything was still dark. We had booked tickets on the upper floor of the train. The carriage was silent as everyone was either trying to claw some sleep back, reading or sitting quietly observing the landscape. I was listening to The Bug vs. Earth album ‘Concrete Desert’. As we raced through the French countryside the sun was just starting to rise. The first blinding rays of the sun reached my eyes as ‘American Dream’ kicked in. The moment couldn’t have been soundtracked better even if a Hollywood sound designer had planned it. As I sit listening to Cezary Duchnowski & Magdalena Bojanowicz’s ‘Devil’s Fiddle Mk2’ it is late at night and everyone is asleep. I can hear my neighbours walking around tidying up and pouring glasses of water for bed. Bojanowicz’s cello is exceptional. At times, the notes not played are just as important as what is played. Duchowski’s electronics are sparse, but with a strangely warming quality.
    The only thing you can say after listening to ‘Devil’s Fiddle’ is wow. Throughout Cezary Duchnowski and Magdalena Bojanowicz continually find a new way to make distressing sounds that leap out of the speakers with passion and intensity. Let’s just take the final track ‘She is Hairy’. This is the longest piece of music on the album. At 22-minutes it is a daunting prospect. It opens with a plaintive cello. The emotion is there. It seeps out of the speakers. As it progresses slightly sinister electronics start to come to the fore and a slightly droney/psych vibe starts to make its presence felt. All the time, though, you can feel the emotions coming through the cello. The final third of ‘She is Hairy’ is an absolute delight, and probably the standout moment of the album. The previous 15-minutes have been leading to this moment. Everything is understated. The cello had been front and centre for the majority of the song has now taken a step back and its level with the electronics. Then the music starts to ramp up. Brooding motifs are becoming more pronounced. The electronics swell. A female voice is heard, slightly inaudible but the extra level of texture is a nice touch. The Cello pierces through the fugs of sound like rays of sun on a cloudy day before being enclosed again. You feel excited, yet understand this appearance was fleeting.
    As ‘She is Hairy’, and the album as a whole, end I was left with a feeling of despondency. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted the interplay to continue for longer. I am now sitting in a quiet room late a night. The silence is all-consuming. My options are to play it again or go to bed. The latter would probably be a better decision, but I opt for another listen before bed. As ‘She is Final’ starts I go and make a final tea for the night and settle down to listen to an exceptional album made by two players at the top of their game. At its heart ‘Devil’s Fiddle mk2’ is a harrowing, captivating and rewarding listen. (NR)
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Sou Inomoto’s Scum project has always been an unrelenting experience. Throughout his previous albums, and a livf set, you are just pummelled. From start to finish. There is something very free and liberating about the experience. Yet, at the same time, there is something arduous about it. Each exposure is more something to endure than to appreciate it. Yes, there is a skill on display, but it is usually hidden under a Mariana Trench of noise, feedback, and general dissonance. On his new album, ‘Life Sentence’, it’s business as usual.
    The album opens with the ‘Stop History’ trilogy. Form the moment it starts; you know it’s on. For 15-minutes we are exposed to some of the harshest, glitchest and punishing noise I can remember hearing for quite a while. It’s great, but as Inomoto unleashes wave, after wave, after wave of abrasion at us, you start to become desensitised to it. After a while, you can’t remember what you are actually listening to as it all becomes xxx. ‘Gush’ is one of two collaborations on the album. The first is with Unsustainable Social Condition. As with the opening salvo, this is another example of brutalism. As with ‘Stop History 1-3’ it’s great but the song is constantly in the red for 11-minutes. Never once did it drop down so it can then create some drama before ramping it back up. ‘Guilty of Being Human’ offers us a brief four-minute respite. Now we can listen to the skewed melodies Inomoto has created. They are jittering and tender, but the reprieve is short-lived as ‘Nostalgia is a Weapon’ just goes at us again with shrill pulses and a wall of feedback. It isn’t as all-consuming as the previous tracks, but it isn’t as subdued as ‘Guilty of Being Human’. ‘Paralysis of Freedom of Choice’ is the second collaboration this time with Government Alpha. It is the most balances track on the album. There is plenty of movement and you can make out the melodies slithering about in the gloom underneath the surface noise. The album ends with the ambient, or as ambient as Inomoto gets.
    At its heart ‘Life Sentence’ is an uncompromising journey into harsh noise. From the opening moments of each song, and the album for that matter, you know exactly where it is headed. And it does what you expect. Part of me enjoys this and part of me doesn’t. There are no surprises and little variation. Of course, when is harsh noise about variation. It’s all about punishment, but if Inomoto had incorporated more tracks like ‘Paralysis of Freedom of Choice’ or ‘Guilty of Being Human’, it might have resulted in a more pleasurable listening experience. Saying that it’s fun just to have the roof blown off for 64-minutes. It blows out the cobwebs. ‘Life Sentence’ lives up to its name considering that it is the strongest album Inomoto has released and is a testament to his life in, and creating, noise. (NR)
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MACHINEFABRIEK – WITH DRUMS (LP by Esc Rec, CD by Machinefabriek)

Sometimes the theme of an album is hiding in plain sight. It so obvious that it doesn’t even seem with mentioning. One album that fits into this category is Rutger Zuydervelt’s latest Machinefabriek release ‘With Drums’. The title says it all. It is Machinefabriek but with drums. After reading its title, before playing, of course, I thought “Obviously”. Then I played the album and dug a little deeper. Instead of Zuydervelt creating the music based on his own drum loops, he has instead drafted in some incredible skin beaters to supply the beats, that he then weaves into his electronic tapestries.
    What makes ‘With Drums’ so audibly expansive are the drummers featured. Martin Dosh (Andrew Bird and Fog), Thor Harris (Swans, Xui Xiu and Thor and Friends), Greg Saunier (Deerhoof, Xui Xiu, Nervous Cop), Julian Sartorius (Sophie Hunger and Merz), Josiah Wolf (Why? And Caustics), Yuko Oshima (Donkey Monkey)’ are just a few of the drummers on display. Thanks to this variety the styles range from ethereal percussion of ‘SH TM JM (with Steve Heather, Tom Malmendier and Jon Mueller)’ and ‘TD RS KV (with Tim Daisy, Rogier Smal, Kris Vanderstraeten)’ to the more abrasive drumming of ‘SF AL JW (with Sep François, Andrew Lisle, Josiah Wolf)’ and the frenetic off-kilter pace of ‘TD JS KV (with Tim Daisy, Julian Sartorius, Kris Vanderstraeten)’.
    ‘With Drums’ does exactly what the title suggests. It is Machinefabriek. With drums. It acts as a third album in a series that included 2019s ‘With Voices’ and 2014s ‘Drum Solos’. It takes those albums as it’s foundations, but it works much better. The samples are tighter and Zuydervelt’s soundscapes feel more adventurous. You can hear his enjoyment of piecing together the loops and then creating his own pieces to make it feel like a cohesive track. Rather than something that he’s glued together. And this is what the album does well. It makes music created in isolation, hundred’s, maybe thousands, of miles apart feel like a solid thing. For the most part, you can’t see the way Zuydervelt has joined everything together.
    Throughout ‘With Drums’ feels like the most elaborate and accomplished project Zuydervelt has released to date. It takes the sounds that he is known for and pushes them to his limits. It shows his vision to hear individual drum takes and know how to build something solid around them. (NR)
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As a label, A-Musik is no longer as active as they once were, I guess (still a fine store and mail-order, operating out of Cologne). I don’t see a lot of new releases in recent years. Now there is the debut album of Titanoboa, also known as Maleni Wratil. Discogs also listed but crossed out the name Lena Willikens, oddly as Wratil is the only name on the cover and there is no other release. There is no other information, in terms of instruments and so on, except that Marcus Schmickler did the mastering. Most of the time when I have no clue about the instruments I can guess, but in this case, it is difficult. Electronics, surely. Modular synthesizers, likely. That’s where I stop guessing. The press information says something about “rumbling noise, experimental turntablism, angelic singing, organ improvisation, and a lot of studio wizardry”, and yes, I could very much agree with that last bit; and noise, that it is also. This is not your standard noise record, of one long blast of noise going on for a very long time, but rather eight (four per side) of controlled demolitions. The noise of Titanoboa is not one to annoy the listener for some time, but playing concrete exercises in loud sounds, with the use of some delicate distortion on top of, well, why not, organ sounds. In these eight pieces, she also shows quite some variation, from pure blasts of noise to more rhythmic (the turntable is found!) excursions and a faraway cry or shout (angelic?), that reminded me of Kleistwahr. There is throughout a multi-coloured collage of sounds, stacked on top of each other; like coloured transparent sheets that you hold up towards the sun. The brightness is still there, but it’s a blurred vision. This is more musique concrète than it is noise, even when the aspect of noise is unmistakably there. It is a take on concrete music that is not very common and also not in the straightforward noise scene and that makes it also a great record. It is musique concrète, noise, improvised (perhaps) and psychedelic at times. You need some time to recover after you had this on full blast, but it is worth your every while. (FdW)
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IDEA FIRE COMPANY – THE NEW LINE (12″ by Vocational Sound Company)

Ah, the lovely format of the 12″ record. In ye olden days for the longer disco mix and these days for all things dance music, but in the 80s also to present an extended play or a mini album. Idea Fore Company presents two pieces of little less than twelve minutes each here, ‘Strangers’ and the title track on the B-side. For these tracks, Idea Fire Company is a trio, Karla Borecky on synth, Scott Foust on synth and trumpet (the latter on ‘Strangers’ only) and Timothy Shortell on bass clarinet. As we have seen in recent years, wind instruments have become an important feature of Idea Fire Company. In ‘Strangers’, the synths produce a very minimal sound, like gas escaping from a leak, the bass clarinet and trumpet play intertwining melodies that are also minimal and slow, and they have great intensity to them. On the title piece, the two synths are in a short sound-locked in modus. Not a rhythm of any dance variety, but a steady mid-range pulse that over eleven minutes only minimally changes. The bass clarinet now plays the same sort of melody as on the other side, but solo and it sort of hangs over the music. It is very minimal and quite mysterious. You are waiting for some terrible to happen, a big explosion of some kind but that is not the case. Both pieces are complementing the other and make the most remarkable change of direction for the group. This record is limited to 100 copies. (FdW)
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PRIX RUSSOLO 2016-2017 (2CD by Prix Russolo)

That is quite a bit of musique concrète here! The Lieutenant has been going strong in this field for more than thirty years, with no always a lot of releases, but the most in more recent years. First, there is a work with Shaun Robert, erstwhile known as factor X (as the preferred spelling once was), and who recently made a return to these pages (see Vital Weekly 1244), with a surprising slab of 7″ vinyl, cutting his concrete matter pop-length short. That is not the case here, in which there are ten pieces and a total playtime of seventy-three minutes. This album is made through the waves of the Internet, and they recorded “sound machines, toy drums, bass guitar, violin, radio waves, field recordings and distorted voices”. Especially the latter adds a fine narrative character to the music. The texts are in French and English and without paying too much attention to these, they blended in nicely with the music. In good musique concrète tradition, the studio is where the magic happens, as whatever they recorded is going through a massive amount of variations and we no longer recognize the instruments they list. Many of these sounds are now synthesized, so it seems, and maybe there is quite a bit of modular treatment in these pieces, but at the same time also traditional techniques of tape cutting, looping, reversing, slowing down and speeding up, even when it is perhaps done on the computer. That results are quite exciting pieces of music, in which there is always a lot happening at all levels in the music. That makes this not easy listening to this music; by the time was through the whole album, I felt certain fatigue. I was satisfied by the content of it all but with so many things happening, all the impressions they make, it is a bit much. This CDR comes in a full-colour fold-out digipack, which looks highly professional and tops off a fine release.
    More spoken word can be found on Lieutenant Caramel’s ‘The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell’. Texts courtesy of William Blake from the book with the same title, or rather [wiki] “a series of texts written in imitation of biblical prophecy but expressing Blake’s own intensely personal Romantic and revolutionary beliefs. Like his other books, it was published as printed sheets from etched plates containing prose, poetry and illustrations. The plates were then coloured by Blake and his wife Catherine.” The texts Lt. Caramel uses from Blake are printed in the 7″ squared sized book in English and French (translation by Andre Gide. Like ‘Paradise Lost’, this is one of those books I always wanted to read but never got around to it; a problem caused by reading too many books on music. Half the CDR (or A-side of the cassette, as it is also available in that format, curiously it comes with the CDR!) uses the voice of Marc Benner and uses the English version and a cast of eight are responsible for the three French pieces. Like the work with Shaun Robert, this too is filled to the brim with sound, from instruments and electronics and with a similar musique concrète inspired technology all of those crushed, mingled and mixed up with the spoken word. Lt. Caramel chooses for the different approaches when it comes to the voice; close by (so, audible), distant, getting a different place in the stereo spectrum than strict in the middle, but also slowed down and sped up. Although I enjoyed this as much as I did the one the good Lieutenant did with Robert, I am glad I didn’t play all of this in one go. That would be too much, as said because Lt. Caramel is a man of sonic overload. Just like his fellow countryman Brume, there seems to be a strict policy of ‘no silence needed’. This is all some great musical surrealism.
    And, finally, in the same parcel a double CD from some time ago, from the Prix Russolo 2016-2017, which is a contest for composers of all ages to submit a piece of “acousmatic or electronic music making visible or audible the immaterial in this double movement of materialization of the spirit and spiritualization of matter” which is to “seek to reach higher states of consciousness through images or sounds”. This has been going on since 1979 and in the end, there is a release with the winners. I reviewed a couple of these compilations before. From all the contributors here, I recognized the names of Jan Kruml and Hideki Umezawa. The others are Julie Semoroz, Vincent Guiot, Lea Tania Lo Cicero, Simon Perez, Nicolas Marty, James Andrew Babcock, Damian Lauraro Gorandi, Nathalie Mondor, Pablo Bas, Armando Balice and Oil Texture. In all of these pieces, we encounter the computer treatments of sound; from objects, electronics, field recordings and so. On the 2016 disc, I noted a bit more of a silent approach with the composers, whereas in 2017 it was all a bit louder. I think I preferred this over the other one. Throughout all pieces sounded OK to good, but I didn’t hear a particular standout piece. Such is the life for compilations. (FdW
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EMERALD SUSPENSION – BEFORE ≤15 (CDR by Oscillation Productions)

With their previous release came a t-shirt that hacked the Van Halen logo, and whenever I wear it, somebody asks me if I like Van Halen (I do) and explain to them it’s a group called Emerald Suspension. That last release was a rather short one, but this new one makes up for that, as it is fifty-three minutes long. The ‘band’ are around for 15 years, ever since their ‘Playing The Market’ came out (Vital Weekly 515). This ‘new’ one is, in fact, an ‘old’ one as it is a kind of ‘best-of’ from those fifteen years, along with some new ones. There is also a box set with all the albums they did so far, and it comes with a booklet about that first album, the concept that came before it, ‘before there was sound: stock market graffiti’, which makes a fun read while you play the best of. Emerald Suspension may have its roots in a conceptual art project, the music is firmly rooted in that of plunderphonics; lots of found sound and voices are sampled and incorporated in finely structured electronic pieces, with lots of synthesizers and rhythms. Recently I was listening to some old music by The Orb, and it is not strange that I am thinking of that today, even Emerald Suspension doesn’t have that very strict ambient house sound. It is more in the repeating voices, dialling across the radio waves and setting them to electronic, beat-oriented music. In the past, I also referred to The Tape-beatles, and their first release was on a Canadian label, Death Of Vinyl Entertainment, who released more works by people that worked on a similar program of voice based samplemania, combined with sometimes strong beats and something finely tuned synthesizers, such as Sucking Chest Wound and Steinski & Mass Media. Of course, I from The Netherlands don’t always understand them from the USA and what the comment is about, but much of this is a social and political commentary. Onto to the next fifteen years! (FdW)
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This is the follow-up to ‘Time Tidal Disruption’ (see Vital Weekly 1249), the debut release of Chad M. Clark. I listed back then with whom he worked, so I won’t repeat that. I will repeat his instruments, “guitar, a pre-WWII archtop Epiphone guitar, he uses wool, balloon, hairpin, glass slide, microtonal harmonica, rods, mixing bowl, and split shot fishing sinkers”, assuming he still stuck with that. All of this he recorded solo, due to the times we live in, but from his words, I understand there is some kind of layering process going on here. “Continuous re-formation served as a centre for the music to move and fluctuate. Multiple generations of artificial selection were spawned ex-situ with no single series of notes, timbres, or dynamics bred within the interdependent radius of an in-group unit.” Unless, of course, he means to tell us that each track is the logical extension of the previous pieces. I very much enjoyed the first release for its direct approach to sound, being right in your face as such. He cuddles, hits, plucks, bows the strings with his hands and his objects and that results in some vibrant and energetic music. Lots of object abuse and Clark doesn’t hide anything; there is no tarting up the sound here, everything that produced a sound during the recording, became part of the music. There is a complexity in the music that I enjoy and which made me think that this is all the result of mixing a few takes or tracks together and occasionally Clark manages to sound like a band in full action, with what seems drums, saxophone and, of course, the guitar raking about. This is a one-man free music army! I understand he wants to play music with others again, but on his own, he needs no others! (FdW)
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Here in The Netherlands, we are now close to ‘celebrating’ one year of lockdown and many reviews referred to Covid/Corona/pandemic in the last year. Here’s another one. What to do when you are a band, and you have no gigs and no way of recording together, assuming, of course, you don’t have a big enough house to host musicians (or, as currently in The Netherlands, you are allowed to have one guest a day and your band is bigger?). Well, there is always a way to record together through the internet (I haven’t heard of many zoom concerts where people play together from their homes. I haven’t looked at them either) or do something different, and that is what O Yuki Conjugate did, and that is recording a split cassette. Over their long existence OYC had a changing line-up but two core members, Roger Horberry and Andrew Hulme, and in their current incarnation no one else, which is kind of handy if you’re doing a split cassette. In this case, it is a split cassette one side is white, the other is black; we didn’t have those in my days. I thought it was a great (not original) idea, and I was thinking it would provide me insight into whose responsible for what in the overall sound. Spoiler alert: I still don’t know. What can be said is that Horberry has shorter pieces, eleven of them, and Hulme has four lengthy ones. That doesn’t work out to be very different, I must say, which is quite interesting. Throughout his pieces, Horberry sets out for small melodic touches in pieces, evolving around a few sounds, all with a clear start and ending, and he uses a variety of sound and samples, including a surprising harp in ‘Crosswise’. Hulme’s longer pieces follow a more ambient drift, with a less precise thing for starting and stopping and mixes his sounds freely. He might be cheating on the idea of a split release, as he has three guest players, Joe Lamb (saxophone), Clare Elliott (flute) and Billy Hulme (guitar), but maybe their contributions are older? It is not that his pieces are loosely played, but it has a different flow. It is easy to recognize both ends in the overall sound of O Yuki Conjugate, the melodic touch, the spacious ambient, a touch of rhythm, and the excellent production value that went into this. You can mistake this for a group effort, which is, no doubt, exactly the point. (FdW)
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TYSON SWINDELL – L’AVENTURE (cassette, private)

There are times when, after listening to a piece of music or reading a book, you would like greater insight into that individual’s creative process. How did they end up on this as the final version of the song? What did the previous incarnations sound, and look, like? ‘L’Aventure’ by Tyson Swindell is such a release. These aren’t demos, as such, but they aren’t the finished article either. They are something in between. While listening to them you can start to hear Swindell make sense of what he’s created. Swindell is working out the bits to accentuate and the bits to file down. The accompanying book is the same. The 65-poems included in its 68-pages are ideas, phrases, thoughts, and creative blips that ended up either being recorded or are discarded for the time being. Individually both are a fascinating look into the creative process but combined they offer an often never seen glimpse behind the curtain.
    Musically the songs are very sparse. Scratchy guitar and vocals. A few effects added for good measure. Mostly they are simply constructed out of a few solid chords, lyrical riffs, and delicate vocals. At times you can hear Swindell’s uncertainty while he’s singing. During ‘A Single Arc’ you can hear this. He knows the words but is uncertain of their true meaning. Is this the correct order or phrasing? Should this guitar part be elongated to give the word a deeper meaning? It’s all there in a breathy delivery.
    The standout moment on the EP is ‘Into Psychosis’. It opens with a forthright, yet fragile, guitar riff that veers into neo-psych before Swindell tames his playing with his vocals. Despite the lo-fi nature of the recordings, this might be the strongest thing Swindell has released to date. That is a bold claim but ‘Into Psychosis’ is also a bold song. There are flourishes of the Elephant 6 collective to them whilst being in keeping to Swindell’s back catalogue. Yes, these songs might not be as experimental as ‘Palindromes’ or ‘Piano Forte Facsimiles’, but it does feature that same emotional content.
    And, on the subject of content, this cassette comes in an oversized box, with print on the inside, a button and a 60+ book of poetry, topping off this classy product, which is all a remarkable adventure. (NR)
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In the world of Eh?, the cassette division of Public Eyesore, there are lots of improvisers and I had not heard from a lot of these. Erin Demastes is such a person. She studied jazz and piano in New Orleans and now lives in Los Angeles. Her cassette has little to do with jazz or piano and it is all about objects, “found, repurposed, and hacked objects and electronics”. The objects are organized by colour, so if you are playing ‘blue’, then all the objects are blue. This is not something you can hear unless you are proficient in hearing colours. I am sure it looks great in concert. These objects are played by Demastes, and then she recorded various parts of one colour session, sticking and stringing it together on the computer and then creating a mix out of that. Come to think of it, this might not be ‘classic’ improvised music. The press text says we may hear familiar objects, such as a “milk crate, a plastic record player, rubber bands, bouncy balls, wind-up toys, a large metal spring, cellophane, styrofoam, mini Solo Cups, a hose wheel”, but to be honest, I recognized very little of that; nor that I had any idea what I was hearing anyway. Perhaps, I didn’t want to think about it too much anyway. You can overthink things, and sometimes it is not necessary to do that at all. I very much enjoyed the seven pieces on this thirty-minute tape. Demastes retains that improvised music feel of it, rummaging through these objects but also adding electronics from circuit bending toys. That adds an electronic/electric layer to the music. That means that this is as much a work of improvisation as it is of musique concrète, even when the use of loops in ‘Blue’ make it all sound very different from what you might think when hearing the term. The music by Desmastes is quite a fresh look at such boundaries, and she isn’t afraid to just do whatever she thinks is right. And I can’t blame her for doing, as it brings us great music. (FdW)
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Last week I reviewed a bunch of new releases by Invisible City Records; today we find label boss Craig Johnson, also known as Rovellasca on the other side of the ocean, on Knoxville’s Park70 label, who maintain their strong visual identity with letterpress covers and bronze ink. What I said about his label, all the various sorts of the lo-fi drone is something that we can also note in his music, either solo or with his duos Liminal Haze and Death In Scarsdale. He usually plays long pieces and here we have two on the first side and one on the second side. In ‘Architecture Of Dreams’ and Dentellate Pinnacles’, his drones are very closed and knitted together, with no air in between the notes. Both of these pieces lean towards being distorted, yet they are not recorded with sonic overload. Here the mild distortion at the top end is part of the aesthetic of Rovellasca. On the other side, ‘Crossed The Threshold’ starts with a looped guitar, recorded with a considerable amount of hiss (another aesthetic choice) and slowly Johnson adds more and more noise to it and the guitar disappears in the midst of it all. For his music, Johnson chooses the darkest and dirtiest end of drone music, the soundtrack of a nightmare during a daydream, walking in a black and white decor of a city in the future (or, perhaps, how older people such I am, like to remember the 70s and 80s; in reality nothing but happy days of course). The pleasure of a dystopian society! Bring it on. Oh, we already have one? (FdW)
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In one corner we have Brandstifter, from Germany, who also worked with SK Orchestra, Antibodies, Aaron Moore (Volcano the Bear), PAS Musique and Sindre Bjerga and with a strong catalogue of releases and in the other corner (social distancing!) we have Ross Scott-Buccleuch, who is the other half of Liminal Haze (see also the Rovellesca review), and likewise active with who’s who from this scene (Several Wives, Matt Atkins, Andrew Sharpley, Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson, Howard Stelzer, Territorial Gobbing), next to running his Steep Gloss label. I assume the music here was recorded through the use of the Internet, exchanging a bundle of surrealist tones, lifted from all sorts of sources, mostly, I would think from discarded vinyl, junkyard tapes and thrift store reels. Maybe they play along on a bunch of toys from self-same stores and yards? There is nothing in here that I recognized from any record collection I came across, but, sure, that doesn’t mean anything of course. Alternatively, I could think the titles gibe away the source material? ‘The Burden Of Being Eric’, ‘Sigue Sigue Sea Lions Rolling Iced Dices In Polar Nights’ or ‘The Crazy Sandman’s COVID Coughdrops Swallowed By A Flock Of Seagulls’; do your homework here. Many of the sounds get a loop treatment, easy to achieve on a turntable and with a little more work with tape-loops. These are stacked together and make a non-coherent wholeness that is somehow still quite captivating to hear. I imagine David Lynch fans might want to check this out, trying to find meaning in this myriad of sounds. Down to earth as I hope I am, there is no meaning, but perhaps also no chaos, just the imagination there might chaos and meaning. Look from it differently, I’d say, just sit back and play this pleasant mess. Go along for the ride and enjoy the full forty minutes. (FdW)
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