Number 1303

NING YU & DAVID BIRD – IRON ORCHID (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
JOE MOFFETT – STRESS POSITIONS (CD by Neither/Nor Records) *
CELER – CORAL SEA (CD by Two Acorns) *
JONATHAN BRILEY – COMPLET WORKS (7CD by Diophantine Discs) *
DOMAINE POETIQUE (7CD by New Forces) *
CECILIA LOPEZ – RED (DB) (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
FORREST FRIENDS (CDR by Chocolate Monk) *
SALVAGE JOB (CDR compilation by Chocolate Monk) *


This album is the first time I hear music by Julien Héraud. I have no information about the man, other than he had a release with Pedro Chambel & Bruno Duplant and one with Duplant and Nate Wooley; both of these on CDR and a digital release with Michael Pisaro. That’s it; no instruments are mentioned on the cover, and listening to the five pieces of ‘Hidden Pleasures’ is also not easy to guess. In the opening piece, ‘Journal D’un Ange’, a drone sound could be made using a modular set-up, just as much something digital; max/MSP, for instance. The drones don’t stay on a similar level throughout the ten minutes this piece last, as Héraud employs the collage method for his compositions. I can imagine that a more significant portion of his sound sources stems from the world of field recordings and that insect sounds have a strong preference. As always, I might very well be wrong. Maybe using the word ‘parasites’ in the title guided me to that thought. In his pieces, Héraud likes a certain harshness combined with drones, and a minimal development is part and parcel of the music. I immensely enjoyed his approach towards worn-out paths of ambient, drones, and field recordings. There is room for brittle tones in the configurations cooked up by Héraud, but nothing overtly harsh or strange, and a cruder user of field recordings than most others would do. The element of collage guarantees that this release has an astounding amount of variations to offer. This is a most pleasurable release and a new name to watch out for. (FdW)
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Here we have one of those happy accident albums. That’s how Rutger Zuydervelt describes his latest release. He received music from Anne Bakker (violin, viola, vocals, harmonica, kazoo, saw) and Rene Aquarius (from Dead Neanderthals fame; cymbals and field recordings) for two different collaborations. Working with other people is something that has been Zuydervelt’s interest ever since he started to release music, now almost twenty years ago. He tried various possibilities with the sounds received, but it wasn’t until he started playing them together that it all made sense. I must admit I am less convinced. Over 33:33 minutes, you hear the various contributions from the musicians combined and, perhaps, Zuydervelt adding some material of his own, along, maybe, with some processing of the sound material. The violin of Bakker gets a bit too much reverb to add a dramatic touch. It mingles with other sounds, such as rusty vinyl crackles, drones, bird sounds, and so on. Zuydervelt divided the whole piece into clear sections, eight or nine of them, and there isn’t much connection between these sections. The feeling I had with this piece was that some of the sounds didn’t work very well together. I thought some of it was a tad too random together. Abstract elements versus more ‘musical’ passages in which the violin plays the leading role. Somehow I can’t get my head around this, no matter how often I play this. That said, there is also stuff to enjoy in this piece, that is sure. I particularly enjoyed the last ten or so minutes in which the magic happens. The violin adds a soaring tone to recordings of birds and an intense drone, slowly moving towards the opening of the castle door and the soft rotating piece of vinyl. It becomes a story here, and that is what I like! (FdW)
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Perhaps it is a bit confusing that I reviewed a piece by Annette Krebs before, called ‘Konstruktion #4’, which she recorded with Jean-Luc Guionnet (see Vital Weekly 1248), only to find ‘Konstruktion #1’ and ‘Konstruktion #2’ on this disc, along with a piece called ‘Sah’. Krebs is mainly known for her work within the realm of improvised music, working with other people. This new release is one of her rare solo works, at least, as far as they reach me. Both ‘Konstruktion’ pieces are well over twenty-three minutes and created using metal pieces, stringed wood, guitar, voices, max/MSP, iPads and Arduino. Both of these pieces are pieces of musique concrète and very carefully constructed pieces. Silence plays quite a role in both of these pieces. Each of the pieces consists of various segments, separated by silence. She recorded all three pieces in concert, so it must have been an intense listening affair with the volume dropping to inaudible. She doesn’t use the metal rhythmically, but the crashing and bangs (occasional) trigger computer signals, forming glissandi, up and down, using granular electronics, bending and re-shaping the sound of the metal. Sometimes the metal is pushed forward into a drone, and it becomes almost a sine wave-like affair, but things are kept well under control; there are no bursts of feedback. Both pieces have a bit of voice, pushed to the background, a supportive role in you will. In ‘Sah’, located between both ‘Konstruktion’ pieces, voices play an essential role. Here, Krebs uses carbon pencil on paper, foil, parchment paper, plastic animals, along similar computer technology. In the three interview excerpts that she uses here, people talk about being creative and using materials, such as the German kid talking about stuff found on the street. More than the other two, this piece has the quality of a radio play, focussing on the content of the words, even when partly in German. It is all very soothing music, full of tension, created by that fine interplay of sound and silence throughout the close to sixty minutes. The incredible thing is that she played all of this live, showing that Krebs has craftsmanship all around. (FdW)
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NING YU & DAVID BIRD – IRON ORCHID (CD by New Focus Recordings)

‘Iron Orchid’ is an electroacoustic work for piano and electronics composed by New York-based composer David Bird and performed by Ning Yu. The work “builds on materials generated for the interactive sound sculpture Echo Chamber, an 11-foot metallic structure that Bird and Yu collaborated on with site-specific public artist Mark Reigelman II in 2019”.
Composer David Bird is interested in electroacoustic music and multimedia environments and the relationship between individuals and technology, between human and computer-generated sounds. He worked with ensemble Intercontemporain, The Bozzini Quartet, Ensemble Proton Bern, to name a few. Ensemble TAK is the name of his own New York-based ensemble. Ning Yu is an essential pianist in performing music from 20th and 21st centuries. She premiered compositions by Bang on a Can-composers like David Lang and Michael Gordon and many other recent compositions. It is often difficult for me to gain a clear picture of the procedures followed with projects like these. This usually ends up in my thought, concluding that in whatever way this music came into being, it counts if it talks to me for me as a listener. For sure, this is the case with this recording. In all tracks, the electronic textures have something omnipresent. They are not just background or context only for the acoustic piano. The relationship is a different one, resulting from unusual strategies. ‘Prism’ is built from detailed floating and bubbling electronics with a dynamic piano solo. ‘Petals’ starts as a spooky and atmospheric texture of electronic sounds make fine whole and embedment of sparse piano sound sometimes generated by playing the inside of the piano. Near the end, a melodic line occurs. ‘Garden’ has almost cosmic ambient-like textures combined with restless piano movements. A good trip of overwhelming sound constellations. Continuously changing sound vehicles full of details. Fascinating! (DM)
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Joe Moffett is a New York-based trumpeter and improviser. Member of Carlo Costa’s Acustica, Frantz Loriot Systematic Distortion Orchestra and Tredici Bacci. Co-founder of ambient techno-improv trio Earth Tongues with Carlo Costa and Dan Peck and Twins of El Dorado, a duo with vocalist Kristin Slipp. Playing solo is also an important activity of his musicianship. In 2018 he recorded his first solo statement playing the trumpet combined with amplifiers and applications. Tubapede released it. In the spring of 2020, he recorded a second solo effort at his home. During these covid-times, musicians were often alone with their instruments when time stood still, as it were. It turned out to be a good opportunity for Moffett to record without pressure. The improvisations are no easy stuff but captivating and enjoyable if you can connect to this. Moffett plays the instrument in a non-traditional way. Although the sounds he creates are often mildly distorted, one can quickly identify them as coming from the trumpet. His radical improvisations are no highbrow and pretentious exercises. On the contrary, his improvisations are very direct, expressive and dynamic. Very playful and joyous. The opening track ‘Milkweed Salad’ is also amusing. ‘Feinting Bulb’ begins with a repetitive motive that is continued throughout in different variations with noisy edges. From different angles, he delivers a very coherent album of various improvisations that are very lively and vibrant. Very elementary and ‘physical’ music. (DM)
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An atypical record for Discus Music. An album of ‘pop’ by Mzylkypop, a Sheffield-based duo of Michael Somerset Ward (keyboards, electronics, percussion, electric and acoustic woodwinds) and Sylwia Anna Drwal (vocals and narratives). From what I could deduce, this collaboration is already a few years in existence. This album is, in fact, a rerelease of a very limited vinyl edition that first appeared in 2018. Ward was once a member of Clock DVA and worked with Floy Joy, Was (Not Was), etc. Drwal was a member of the Sheffield band Mother of Crows. She is Polish of origin and sings in Polish and English. For this album, they are supported by Simon Lewinski (guitar, keyboards), Philippe Clegg (bass guitar), Jarrod Gosling (drums, mellotron), Peter Fairclough (drums), Charlie Collins (percussion), Matthew Bourne (piano), Maarten Ornstein (tarogato), Peter Rophone (bass guitar), Beatrix Ward-Fernandez (castanets), Cath James (viola),  Wolfgang Seel (vocals), Milan and Maja (voices). They present a series of 10 songs, all made up of a well-defined sound concept. Overall the music has a psychedelic atmosphere and a bit of weird character. The vocal performance by Drwal, who sings mainly in Polish, is impressive. In a folk song like ‘Slumber Pin’, she sings in English. ‘A Narky Monkey’ strongly reminded me of film music from the 70s. Most material is written by Ward, except the closing title ‘TV Lives’ written by Don Preston for GTO’s first and only album from 1969. Exemplifying that the 70s are the primary source of inspiration. Not only Zappa but also Suicide and Chrisma came to my mind. Many influences are absorbed here, resulting in a robust set of dark and bizarre songs using old vintage instruments of the 60s and 70s. The song format is dominant with experimental and free intros and interludes in many of the tracks. A very consistent album of imaginative music. (DM)
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From Mechelen, Belgium hails Gert de Meester, also known as Distant Fires Burning. He’s also the bass player in The Seven Laws of Woo and active in electronic groups as The Mental Attack and 2questionmarks. There are also other musical projects for him. This new release is my second encounter with his music as Distant Fires Burning (see also Vital Weekly 1142), in which he also plays the bass guitar but now in combination with electronics. It all has to do with ambient music. The bass guitar isn’t always easy to recognize as such in his music; it is in the closing piece ‘Book Of Rebellion’, in which the bass is very upfront and in the short of ‘DFB131’. In his other pieces, Distant Fires Burning buries his bass in the gremlins of the computer. I have no idea what kind of software he’s using. It might be of the variety that his label of choice here, Aubiobulb Records in the UK, has to offer. They mainly have a great one called ‘Ambient’, and maybe that’s what he used, but they have others too (I don’t know, sadly!). The information mentions that all pieces started with the bass and are more synth-based in the end. The info says that this music deals with the impact of Covid-19. By day, De Meester is a social worker, and he saw the impact of the pandemic on socially weaker people and saw them without hope for a brighter tomorrow.  That didn’t result in some very upbeat music. The mood is solemn and dark throughout these five pieces (three are ten minutes or minutes, the other two are shorter). Lengthy sustaining sounds, but they don’t always take the form of long drones. In ‘Book Of Fragmentation’, the grains of sound staple and become (almost) an arpeggio. It is one piece that is very computer-based. The combination of bass-driven sound and computer treatments (which could live to sample, come to think of it) works quite well. The music is ambient, but not your standard version of it. Small rhythmical particles are drifting around this one; the unusual choice of bass and having that sound like a bass adds to the fun of this being different. All of this marked a maturing for this project. (FdW)
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CELER – CORAL SEA (CD by Two Acorns)

Ah, good old Celer. A new release means making coffee, picking up a book, putting the CD on repeat, and sitting back for a fair amount of time. I am not reading all the time. Sometimes I will close my eyes, even fall asleep, or I will get up and walk about a bit. Look at my bookshelves, CDs and records. Maybe there is something to organize again? I can watch out over the quiet street on this greyish Thursday afternoon, for which ‘Coral Sea’ seems the perfect soundtrack. Quiet and grey, that is well-translated into music by Will Long here. Not grey as in dull, but as in painting a moody colour. It is not a surprise when I say this is atmospheric music. Celer’s music is hauntingly minimal, just a few very long sustaining drones that go in and out of phase, slowly drifting apart and coming together. All of this happens in long, majestic flows. There is a quick fade in and a slightly slower fade out at the end; it all stays in the same volume for the rest. For all I care, it could have been the full eighty minutes of this. There is movement, there is change, and yet there is not. It is what it is. Phill Niblock’s ‘Early Winter’ sprang to mind, or perhaps other pieces of his as well. There is a similar vastly layered sound here with Celer this time around, with slowly drifting ice caps. Celer is here at his most orchestral, I think. I love it, but I am a fanboy, so not the most critical mind. (FdW)
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Here we have no less than three re-issues from the world of cassette-only releases. When the CD arrived in 1984, or so (not for me), I proclaimed that all the music I cared about wouldn’t find its way to the new medium, but I might be wrong. What is not yet on CD (or rather, re-issued) will be one day. And why not, indeed?
    The first re-issue to discuss is the seven CDs set by Jonathan Briley. Between 1985 and 1987, he was actively involved with Sleep Chamber, and who had a bunch of cassette releases on Inner-X, Sleep Chamber’s John ZeWizz’ imprint. There was also a cassette on Broken Flag. Following this flurry of activity, things went quiet from then on. About a decade ago, there was a one-off magazine, As Loud As Possible (see Vital Weekly 756), which had a very long article about Broken Flag (well worth a book in its own right). This article mentioned that Briley refuses to speak these days of his old works, something which I recently learned is not valid. Back in the day, I had the Broken Flag cassette and various compilations with Briley’s work, including the excellent “Musica Venenæ: Industrial Culture Music Volume 1”, yet I wouldn’t call myself an expert on his music. In that sense, this seven-CD is the best introduction anyone could have. This set includes all six cassettes, plus a CD with all the contributions to compilations. His music takes its inspiration from the classic industrial music scene, i.e. lots of synthesizer wrangling, oscillating and bleeping, along with loops of sounds and voices. As this was common in the 80s, some of these voices are lifted from World War II documentaries. All to shock, no doubt and not so much to ‘learn’ something. Other voices deal with crimes, detailing murders and such (‘The Hunter’). I kept thinking: how come you don’t hear anything these with all the Netflix true-crime documentaries? I love Briley’s use of voices because he taped these of the TV with a handheld microphone, an instant sound effect regarding how the voices sound. Other fields of interest here are control, domination, torture, vivisection and religion – all of the darker side of things, of course. If you play these seven discs in a single row, thus making the perfect listening session for an entire Sunday at home, you will notice that as time progressed, Briley’s music got sophisticated a bit more. Gaining more depth and toned down, it also loses some of the grimness of its contents. A bit less on the murderers, wars, satanism, al disappearing in favour of the music. Well, all within reasonable areas of his definition of industrial music. Sometimes one hears the influence of Sleep Chamber, but Briley’s music owes to the greater realm of power electronics, and I would think Ramleh is at times quite an influence on his music. As such, it is not a surprise that one of his cassettes ended up on Broken Flag. The music is dark, depressing, cynical, strange, spacious even at times, and it is a relict of the 80s. To some a decade of darkness, depressing etc., but I have a different view here. It was a time of vibrant creativity, copying cassettes, one by one, standing in line at the post office and waiting for weeks for a reply. If response and a cassette came, it was another door opening, and behind that door was, say, Jonathan Briley, offering his version of industrial music. A short but excellent career, now packed in one neat box.
    The other massive re-issue here also comes as quite a surprise, one of the things that I would have deemed impossible. And to be honest, not something that would even cross my mind. Domaine Poetique was a collaborative effort between John Hudak and Jeph Jerman. The latter artist still features in these pages, with releases under his name. In the 80s, he was active as Hands To. That was a much noisier project than he does these days, working with cheap samplers, sound effects and going for the sonic overload. Minimal and powerful. Minimal is also the operative word for John Hudak, less active in the realm of sound art. His cassettes usually contained a single 30-minute piece per side of a cassette release, exploring very minimally sound events. His interest was within the use of field recordings, but given the minimalist means at his disposal, there was a noisy streak in his work too. Exchanging sounds via mail and presumably, on cassette, the two men worked together from 1987 to 1989, which resulted in seven cassettes. One was the two of them together in a room, the others via mail. The cassettes were releases on (now) legendary labels Sound Of Pig, SJ Organisation and Jerman’s Big Body Parts. I had them all in the days, some licenced to Dutch Bloedvlag Produkt, who had a penchant for adding more sonic destruction in copying cassettes. It’s good to hear them restored and as they were supposed to be. Only the first disc has three tracks, the others clocking in at roughly thirty minutes each. I see on Discogs they had two tracks on a compilation cassette, which are not part of this box set. Quite rare, perhaps, that there aren’t more compilation tracks, given that both men were active in the field of cassette releases. What can one expect here?  In a typical Domaine Poetique piece, there are extensive layers of battered field recordings, crumbled electronics, and rusty tape-loops. There is a drone-like element to the music, but upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the rummaging around construction sites, people talking on the street and such. They are thrown in for the long haul, adding a fine archaeological layer to the music, excavating early industrial age machinery. I am rambling, by the way, in case you didn’t know. I love the music, and I am enthusiastic. Twice. (FdW)
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CECILIA LOPEZ – RED (DB) (CD by Relative Pitch Records)

Many of the releases by Relative Pitch end up in the hands of mister Mulder, who is more knowledgeable about most things concerning improvisation music. Nevertheless, these two stuck here with me. One reason might be that my eye caught using a ‘prepared typewriter’ played by Robbie Avenaim. We also find Chris Abrahams on a Waldorf Q+ Synthesiser and Jim Denley on bass flute in his trio. There is not much else to go by when it comes to recording dates. The three men played music together before, in various combinations and with other people. This release is their first release as a trio. One of the things that attracted me here was the presence of the typewriter as an instrument. Along with the synthesizer, the set-up was very much along the lines of electron-acoustic music. However, the addition of Denley’s flute kept this all very much within the realm of improvised music. His flute playing was partly traditional, sticking out among the stranger sounds from Abrahams and Avenaim, but sometimes he mingles nicely along with the others. Then the flute becomes a similar abstracted piece of a sound device as the others. This veering between the abstract and the non-abstract is not always in balance; the abstract side seems to win, but that is what I enjoyed most. The typewriter sometimes becomes a rhythm device; had I not known there was a typewriter here, I wouldn’t have guessed. There is an intense vibrancy about the music here, maybe an electro-acoustic quality, of shifting and shaping sound as they come along. It is hard to say which instrument is responsible for that. I am glad not to see this in action, and it leaves me to think about that. An odd percussive element in the music could be the typewriter, but maybe it is fed to the synthesizer. Denley’s playing along with this game, delivering alternatively longer and shorter notes on his flute. At times, this is a busy record, full of action, freedom, and dialogue.
    The other new release by Relative Pitch Records is credited to Cecilia Lopez (electronics) but also performing are bassist Brandon Lopez and percussionist Gerald Cleaver. In her piece, Lopez uses “two large woven wire nets hung from Roulette’s ceiling holding instruments creating a complex feedback organism. The suspended drums and double bass acted as resonant bodies intensified by the instruments simultaneously played in the space by” the three musicians. I have no idea what that looked like, to be honest. The three musicians play the music that is not easy to describe. Of course, this is somewhere along the lines of improvisation, but I think Lopez has ‘rules’ in place for the players to guide them. There is an element of drones in the music, as much of this circles around in sustaining notes; the cello in the first half, for instance, the rattling of snares or toms after that. An element of post-rock at one point, and everything is quite dense. There is very little light between the notes here. It is condensed and concentrated, and it is intense – drifting and pulsating and very compelling music. If you decide to play it at a high(er) volume, you will be overwhelmed by the thickness of the sound; there is no escape possible. Massive! And, I still have no idea what this looked like after the music a couple of times. (FdW)

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You may not have heard of Variát before, but it is the newest musical project from Dmytro Fedorenko, who worked earlier as Kotra. He recently stopped his Kvitnu label and now only concentrates on making music. There is indeed a bit of change here. As for instruments, he currently lists guitar, bass, synthesizer and drums, whereas, in the old days, I would think it was all electronics (digital and/or analogue) and drum machines. What remained was his approach to sonic overload. Many of the releases by Kvitnu were indebted to the legacy of Pan Sonic. That is brutal beats and ditto synthesizers. That brutality is also present here, but now he’s using instruments. Maybe Variát plays these live, and perhaps these are sampled; most likely, I would say it is a combination of both. Take, for instance, ‘There’s Lot Of Light Leaking All Over’, in which loops of guitar noise and drums (and bass, no doubt) battle against a solitary non-looped organ. The information recalls the use of “blown amps, toms played with a hammer, and drilled cymbals”, all of which I can easily see within the context of this record. One of the things this record is not is a dance record. To be fairer, I would call this is a rock record. A noise rock record, to be precise. I like this a lot. The fact that Fedorenko makes a radical break with his past music, and yet, for all the brutal approach, at the same time, he stays completely in line with his past. I find that quite an achievement. The wall of noise rock approach with real instruments, treated with electronic devices, sampled and giving them more strength via sound effects, makes these eight pieces strong music statements. Music that needs to be played loud or not at all. There is simply nothing in between. There is no escape, and total surrender is required, but something beautiful will be yours. (FdW)
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These three new releases by Howard Stelzer arrived in the space of a few days. I have been following his work for many years, and I am sure I heard almost everything he did. As a sort of follow-up to his 3CD set, ‘Invariably Falling Forward, Into The Thickets Of Closure’ (see Vital Weekly 1264), and its predecessor, ‘Anathematization Of The World Is Not An Adequate Response To The World’ (see Vital Weekly 1211) where he worked with sounds from other people, he expanded more and more on the idea, inviting an ever-growing cast of people to submit sounds. Much like his beloved P16.D4 did with ‘Distruct’ (Vital Weekly 863). With this new release, he takes things a bit further, and he mailed his sounds out to people, inviting them to alter in any way they saw fit and going back into Stelzer’s modus of transformation. He did a couple of volumes of this, and Chocolate Monk released the first one. The cast includes Theo Gowans (Territorial Gobbing), Andrew Zukerman (Fleshtone Aura), Theresa Smith (DeTrop), France Jobin, Ross Scott-Buccleuch (Diurnal Burdens), Frans de Waard (Modelbau), Joe Murray (Posset) and Stuart Chalmers.
    At the same time, Tori Kudo sings and plays the piano on one track. That one is credited, but where did the others go? There is no indication on the cover, and you would think I could tell, but I can’t. Stelzer’s strong suit, working with cassette manipulations, works in a significant way here with the sounds of others. He likes to spread his sound material thickly over many layers, yet he never loses sense of detail. Field recordings, Dictaphone abuse (I suspect Posset to be responsible there), and time-stretched sounds (France Jobin?) are embedded within the more usual cascading drones, which could be from (m)any of the others. Stelzer plays noise music but of the intelligent variety. There is nothing downright noise about the music. I would instead think of this as the noisy variation of drone music, one that pierces you right into your brain.
    You could think that these albums are more of the same, or perhaps it could have been a 3CD set. That would have been a fantastic idea. Volume Two and Four are not extensions of ‘Volume 1’ or more of the same. There is, I’d say, some overlaps in approaches. No doubt that is due to an overlap in people processing sounds (now, on ‘Two’ these are Theresa Smith, Theo Gowans, Roel Meelkop, Andrew Zukerman, Ross Scott-Buccleuch, Fraser Burnett, Frans de Waard, Stuart Chalmers, Joe Murray, France Jobin, Andrea Pensado, Melanie O’Dubhslaine, Chris Donaldson, and Rudolf, but there are some differences as well. Five people are separately credited with voices (Tori Kudo, Andrea Pensado, Gilblet Gusset, Yan Jun, and Stefan Neville), making this a different turn of events. Furthermore, drums and guitars in ‘Choose This Planet Or Not!’ create an almost post-rock affair, save for the extended use of feedback and noise, also loudly present in the music. Stelzer casts his musical net a bit wider on this second volume while also at the same time his ‘style’ exploring further.
    Drums play a minor role on ‘Four (where the cast is Phil Milstien, Bruno Duplant, Rudolf, Andrew Zukerman (Fleshtone Aura), Theresa Smith (DeTrop), Ross Scott-Buccleuch (Diurnal Burdens), Thaniel Ion Lee and John Wiese. Giblet Gusset sings on one track), but there are there, along with a sound snippet from the suburban area, kids shouting in the schoolyard (perhaps a nod to Stelzer’s profession?). Altogether, this some three hours of great music, with some territory well-covered on his previous releases, but the use of guitars, drums, voices/vocals are all interesting new additions to the Stelzer sound world and will no doubt lead to new pastures. Volume Three, Five and Six are scheduled for next year. Stelzer’s music is brutally subtle or subtle brutal. (FdW)
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FORREST FRIENDS (CDR by Chocolate Monk)
SALVAGE JOB (CDR compilation by Chocolate Monk)

Very few labels are committed to CDRs in the same way as Dylan Nyoukis’ Chocolate Monk. He’s been at this game for a long time now, starting as cassette label (and still doing those, I think, along with the occasional ‘real’ CD. The label has a ‘thing’ for weird music and loves limited editions. In an edition of 69 copies, there is a CDR by Transculent Envelope, the musical project of Bob Desaulniers, who is also responsible for the twenty pages of the booklet’s collages. He uses discarded magazines, photo’s, a pair of scissors and glue for some old fashioned cut ‘n paste work there. Of course, I’d like to hear that also in the music, as an extension of interest (well, perhaps!), which is very well possible. According to the label’s website, Desaulniers uses “tapes, sampler, electronics, phone recordings, contact mics, and objects”, and he cooks up strange short pieces with these sources. Somewhere between twenty-five seconds and four minutes of homemade noise music, songs from the kitchen sink. Maybe even literally? Recorded during many months at home, I can imagine Desaulniers sitting in his kitchen, cutting up magazines and, if he’s done with that, picking up his contact microphones for some musical actions, using kitchen utensils. I am not saying that’s how things around chez Desaulniers, but it seems likely. There is a charming naivety about the music here that I love very much.
    The release by Forrest Friends says nothing else on the cover as Forrest Friends, ‘choc 519’, and the label’s website. There are no track titles, no members or instruments anywhere mentioned. The website says the name of Garrison Heck. I have no idea there either. Even more than with the music of Translucent Envelope, there is a most curious free range of styles, instruments and ideas running rampant. Percussion, rhythm machines, acoustic objects, voices, jam sessions, free folk and noise, demented pop music. You name it, and it is here. At times I thought it was all thrown onto a multi-track in a somewhat unexpected way, by various people, over time, and then Forrest Friends, whoever they are, sat down and trying to make sense of it. Not too much as the group wants to retain some of that spontaneity in the music; the naivety, if you will, of the original sessions. Points of reference mentioned here are Angst Hase Pfeffer Nase, and Caroliner, which is undoubtedly something that shows in this music, but certainly, Forrest Friends has a lighter approach. You could say pop music, as long as you don’t think about this in terms of “storming the charts”. That is something this music will not do. The helium effect on the voices can be tiring after some time, but I enjoyed the nine pieces, all the same, even it was just for the complete wacky approach of this group (?).
    And finally, there is a compilation. I am not sure if there is a thematic approach here. The website says: “If its broken, don’t fix it. Further recordings made during the mess of the past year which you may hear as a shining pathway out of the shit, or a “Back to the egg!” warning cry. Pour yrself a drink, put on those headphones and let the gamble commence.” (I made a note of wanting to hear the final album by Wings again!). If anything, I’d say the voice plays an important in many of these pieces. Many of the pieces here are a form of sound poetry, one way or another, with some exceptions, most notably the opening piece by Hobo Sonn, which is ‘Improvised Music For Japanese Drum-Machine Pt. 2’. There is the voice used to scream, whisper, howl, recite; or voices found or stolen in many others. They become songs, poems, rituals or exorcisms. It is a bit hard to keep up with who’s who here, but sit back with a drink, and you don’t care anymore. It becomes a transmission from another time and place, tapping into the ward. Apart from Hobo Sonn, there is also music from Muyassar Kurdi & Ka Baird, Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson, A.S, Raymond Cummings, Hardworking Families, Stone Cornelius, Dora Doll, Duncan Harrison, LDSN, Angela Sawyer & Ethan Marsh, Glands Of External Secretion, Tania Caroline Chen, Mark Groves, Staubitz & Waterhouse, Kraus, Kate Armitage, Constance/Nyoukis and RRS. (FdW)
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‘Broken Mirrors’ is the debut EP by Brendan Faegre. I understand that he is one of Bang On A Can’s founding members, the percussion ensemble, and he moved to the Netherlands to “join the scene around Dutch composer Louis Andriessen”. I had no idea of a scene around the legendary Dutch composer (who recently passed away). Faegre stayed in the country and plays a small drum kit and a monosynth, performing at modern music festivals in this country, so perhaps that’s why I had not heard of him before. There are four pieces here. I am not sure, but I think the drumming triggers the synthesizer, at least to some extent. The four pieces are quite different; they are a display of interests, I would think. I think the strongest is the first part, in which he plays a minimal beat, topped with a bit of delay, and the synthesizer has a slow line to follow the drum pattern and bouncy triggered synth. Part II is a more minimal approach, with white noise and sparse drumming. In the other two parts, the drumming is more complex, in a style that owes to the world free jazz, but Faegre keeps his beats massive, while in ‘Part IV’, there is a relatively too simple arpeggio on the synthesizer, effectively the wall of the drum sound. This is an interesting EP, with four different approaches to the same idea. In two cases working very well for me, and the other two not yet entirely fulfilling expectancies. (FdW)
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There are two labels in the world of recycling cassettes that I know of (I’m sure there are more), and I love m both. From Canada, there is Vacancy Records and from Finland hails Hyster. When I first encountered the latter enterprise (see Vital Weekly 980), it was to review a cassette by Tietokoneduo J&J and Lost Snivel. I checked Discogs just now, and that seemed to be the only release by Lost Snivel so far, with a fifteen-minute piece. That first introduction was a fine piece of music, nothing that blew me away, but quite decent experimentalism, as I wrote back then. The label describes this new cassette as a release “of questions, answers, found synths, piano, fieldrec of a squirrel, audience collaboration etc.”. I quite enjoy this release, especially for all its vague approach to music and sound. There is a hazy blur that lingers on this release, of shimmering electronics, of buried field recordings (well, exhumed, really, but with dirt all around it), odd snippets of an unfinished piece of music, or somebody trying their hand on a few piano notes. It fits the trend of lo-fi sound generators, but not so much because of the presence of small synthesizers and sound effects, but rather its thrift store character. For all I know, Lost Snivel found a few old tapes and simply transferred those and call the content his own. Some of the diversity of the material hints in that direction. The B-side is filled with a long ‘live at Keith Berlin, 23.3.’16’ piece, consisting of a synth rumble on the verge of feedback and people talking, all slowly fading into vagueness. I love it!
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