Number 1306

SEAN ALI – A BLINK IN THE SUN (CD by Neither/Nor) *
NOBUKA – REIKO (LP by Esc Rec) *
FREE MAGIC SHOW – AWKWARD WINNER (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
MAD DISC – MATERIAL COMPOSITION (cassette by Cronica Electronica) *
POOL PERVERT – MASKING TAPE (cassette by Non Interrupt) *
ERB/MAYAS/HEMINGWAY – DINNER MUSIC (cassette by Veto Records)


This LP is my introduction to the work of composer Chris Campbell. His music was performed and heard “from New Zealand to Montserrat to the United Kingdom to the United States”. It has been called “Possessing elements of post-Minimalism, avant-garde rock, jazz and global-fusion styles that mingle and merge with dreamlike mutability”. I would think only a few of those descriptions would fit these pages. The piece that is now subject to review is for a large ensemble. It is performed by members of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, plus drummer Dave King and “hybrid-music” violinist Todd Reynolds. Initially, this piece was performed surrounding the audience, but the music is now stereo for apparent reasons. Campbell calls ‘Orison’ “a prayer and mediation in seven parts”. Praying and meditating are two activities I don’t engage in myself. I don’t play meditative music, or at least I don’t ‘use’ music as such. In the seven parts here, I can see room for such activities, but I sometimes think the music is too lively to let glide by in a meditation. To each his own form of use, I’d say. There are some very gentle strokes of string music being played here, with a stroke on bell here and there, but the addition of drums sometimes breaks this gentleness and gives the whole piece a refreshing edge. This edge is what kept this piece interesting for me; it made it stay away from the world of a tackier world, which would have been the easy way into meditation music. There is an ever not-so-gentle flow, which might stem from players having more freedom to play the notes than a more traditional score would allow for. However, I am guessing here. With my limited knowledge of modern classical music, I am sure I miss out on a few things here, but overall I was pretty pleased with this work. It didn’t make me think about picking up meditation, but I enjoyed the moods it carried. (FdW)
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Originating from Ohio, Sean Ali is a New York-based multi-disciplinary artist since 2003. He became an active exponent of the experimental music scene as a member of Carlo’s Acustica,  Frantz Loriot Systematic Distortion Orchestra, Natura Morta, etc. All of the musicians’ projects from Neither/Nor-circles. ‘My Tongue Crumbles After’ was the name of his first solo album released in 2017 for Neither/Nor and had him playing double bass and electronics. ‘A Blink in the Sun’ is his second solo effort again for Neither/Nor. No electronics this time, just double bass and voice. Besides playing the double bass, he reads and performs texts from his book ‘Awake Afar Off’, published in 2017. But there is more to it. Ali constructed multi-layered works using multi-tracking and other procedures. Like the opening piece, ‘Salutations II’ is a thick multi-layered fabric of dissonant and scratchy sounds from the double bass. ‘Something wrong here’ is opposite a multi-layered work of only vocals, evoking an atmosphere in line with the text. Other compositions combine double bass and voice like ‘The Same Brisk Pace’ with Ali reading a text of himself interspersed with instrumental passages of a multi-layered acoustic bass. In ‘Out of’, he doubled his voice reading the same text. In my experience, the works are more about adding music to spoken text than the other way around. Overall, Ali reads his texts in a clear and pronounced way. Nevertheless, I found myself more engaged and more absorbed by the musical and non-verbal aspects of these works instead of focusing on the content of the texts. An inventive work of Ali dialoguing with himself! (DM)
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In the process of making music, scores can play an important role. In classical music because it is an order of notes to be played. In modern music, to get the action going. Anything can serve as a score, as long as you are willing to consider thinking about it as such. In this project, Magda Mayas performs scores by Tona Douglas, who she met ten years ago in Melbourne. Douglas is a painter and sculptor, and the scores she made were sent in their original form to Mayas, not as photos. Some of these scores work as 3D scores, with bumps in the paper/cardboard and even boxes. The booklet has pictures for us to indicate what they look like. The CD has four compositions, of which three are by themselves (i.e. one track), and ‘Point’ has eleven parts. Mayas plays the piano, but also the clavinet, Rhodes and objects. With the abstract nature of the scores and the music, it is probably anything goes versus ‘I think I hear what she plays with these scores’. To enjoy the music, one doesn’t need the scores, and, vice versa, one could very much appreciate the scores as visuals without hearing the music, or even go as far and interpret these with your own music. In Mayas’ music, the piano plays the most prominent role. If I understood this correctly, Mayas made many recordings that she then mixed into the final composition. That I thought was most interesting as it sounds very ‘direct’. Not as in ‘loud’, but as in something that perhaps a single person could perform, even when there are simply too many layers, but if not one person, then a small ensemble on a stage. It all sounds coherent, as well as improvised (if, perhaps, that is not a contradiction), and the pieces are thoughtful and quiet, yet full of microscopic life. The piano parts are melodic at times, and it’s the other instruments providing textures, odd sounds (‘Point 3’ for instance) or simply making different bends with the body of the piano or whatever the ‘objects’ may be. I enjoyed all these pieces, from the fragmented parts of ‘Point’ to the reflective bounce of ‘Intersect’ (which in some ways reminded me of the very first work by Gavin Bryars I ever heard; must check is what I noted down). There is also the busy rattle of ‘No.Thing’ and the all piano (keys and body) of ‘Sediment’. A booklet with photos and texts by the artists provides a good insight into the modus operandi here. (FdW)
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When listening to ‘Entropies and Mimetic Patterns’ is both a soothing and jarring experience. There are moments when Gustavo Costa delivers delightful drones and playful rhythm patterns. ‘Mimesis Natura’ is a sheer joy to listen to. Yes, the music doesn’t have a set rhythm, but there is a vague pattern to Costa’s playing. As Costa gently chimes away, patterns begin to appear and reappear. It’s as soothing as it is short. ‘Microstates’, on the other hand, is just all over the shop. Instruments are hit, bangs, bopped and generally distressed throughout, giving a wonderfully ramshackle vibe. However, it can be a slightly tense experience. You aren’t sure what is going to happen next. And this is where the joy of ‘Entropies and Mimetic Patterns’ comes from. At no point does Costa give us what we expect, but he continually gives us what we need.
    This is what we’ve come to expect from Costa. After 30-years of playing music, Costa decided to release his debut album finally. It only fits that the main instrument on it is drums. Throughout, Costa shows us what an ear for tones he has. There aren’t many melodies to get latched on it, but there are plenty of captivating tones. The album works best when you don’t fight it or try and guess what will happen next. Instead, let the compositions wash over you and try and follow their lead. Despite how perplexing and counterintuitive, it can be at times. (NR)
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Album times have the power to hide their themes in plain sight. Take the new BLACKCLOUDSUMMONER album, for example. Simply titled ‘POWER BALLADS’, it is a wonderful play on words around power electronics and 80s power ballads. While BLACKCLOUDSUMMONER’s music could never be classed as a power ballad, it makes the title even funnier. For his debut album percussionist, Noam Bierstone went for the name ‘Mountains Move Like Clouds’. On the surface, it creates a great mental image. Firstly, clouds that look like mountains slowly floating in the sky. Secondly, the whole mountain ranges moving quite quickly on the ground. However, it isn’t until you start to play the album that the title really comes into its own.
    There are sections during ‘Mountains Move Like Clouds’ that a whispy and ethereal. That move gracefully. Creating wonderful melodies and rhythms that seem to transcend Bierstone’s playing. Then some sections are massive hulking things. It feels impenetrable and unmoveable. And this is what makes the album such a delight to listen to. At times, ‘Mountains, Move Like Clouds’ reminds me of when I helped out in a restaurant’s kitchen. It had been a long service for the kitchen staff, and I was helping at the end move all the dirty pots and pans to the sink, wash them and get them organised for the next day. Everyone had gone home. My friend was sorting out the dining room, and I was working alone in the kitchen. Now and again, the towers of pots and pans would become unstable and move/fall a bit. The sound was jolting and startling. For a move, I thought someone had entered the kitchen, and it would be the end of me. While listening to ‘Mountains Move Like Clouds’, especially ‘Mani. Δίκη’ I’m reminded of this. Ultimately this isn’t a bad thing. Bierstone has created a specific atmosphere that is part terrifying, part fearless. At its heart ‘Mani. Δίκη’ is the sound of metal-to-metal manipulation and contact. The metal is dragged, caressed and generally rubbed the wrong way until it creates these searing sounds. It is pretty great as you are constantly in a state of fight/flea. There were times when I just wanted to turn it off as everything was too much, but at the same time, I wanted to hear what was coming up next.
    If you are of a nervous disposition, this might not be the album for you. Nor is it really the kind of album to listening to on headphones, late at night, in a darkened room. Unless, of course, you get off on that kind of thing, then you should ONLY listen to it on headphones late at night in a darkened room. Nevertheless, Bierstone demonstrates her percussive skills while delivering something that has the power to enthral for its duration. (NR)
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You might think that a release with this title deals with the 2020 pandemic, but no, it is not. Instead, it “proposes to give the floor to “our elders”, while putting their words in resonance with five musical pieces composed over the past five years”. This work included a conductor, sound recording rams, and Pierre Juilard, “botanist, sound engineer and electronic music composer, [who] will take care of the sound edition by including the words of our elders”. Quost interviewed them “during an immersion in a retirement institute”. The interviewees are French, so that bit is lost on me. But let me quote the information, “our elders speak, comment, tell about their lives as much as they tell us about ours. They benefit from a distance, a distance and a relation to time that only age seems to allow. They deliver to us, at the turn of innocuous sentences, treasures of their lives, end of sentence or empty words thrown to no-one ears: back to basics”. The cover details a few compositions, when and where they were composed, and use the interviews or field recordings, but not for all pieces. A piece for a large ensemble combines strings, winds, electric guitar, electronics, percussion, plus a chamber music piece and three short pieces for the Liken ensemble. The easiest thing to say is that this is modern classical music and, as you may know, not my field expertise. Not even, I might add, when many releases from that end of the musical spectrum arrive at our HQ these days. That means, once again, that I can only judge this in terms of what I hear and like, or not, of course. Throughout, I enjoyed the music quite a bit. The music is not massive, not sustaining/droning, but somewhat broken up and highly atmospheric. The addition of occasional field recordings and interviews, both not present in all tracks, gives the music a more radiophonic push. A heightened sense of drama, if you will. As I could not understand what was said, it added for me to that sense of drama. The music in these pieces seem to underline that dramatic impact, and yes, I might be all wrong. It added variation to the overall disc, and as such, something I enjoyed from the world of modern classical music. (FdW)
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Labels come, and labels go; some return. I had not thought of Canada’s No Type label in a long time and thus not noticed that there was anything new. They return with these two new releases, and one is also a return. These two releases are also quite different. Let’s start with the easy one, The Organizing Committee. A music project from Eryk Salvaggio, once known as Influenza, Infoslut, and Matrix Assimilation. He is also in The Twombly Spiders and Sluts On Tape. I vaguely remember only the latter from a long time ago. The information mentions various other releases from him that I couldn’t find online. If I understood correctly, Salvaggio is a computer programmer, and his music shows that. The eleven pieces here are quirky electronic pop music. It has an unmistakenly retro-futurist sound. It is electro-pop, with upbeat rhythms, lovely melodies and robot voices. No Type says there “are more than a few shades of Stereolab and Broadcast”, but I am afraid I missed those boats when they passed. I am told that the texts here are machine-generated, and that machine-learning inspired the way Salvaggio composed these songs. That may bring a fine conceptual edge to the music (the booklet features an extensive text from Salvaggio explaining the ins and outs, but you can easily skip that and enjoy what is on offer here. That’s what I did, after reading a bit in the booklet, simultaneously when playing the music. A simple soul such as I am can certainly enjoy these things at face value. The music reminded me of Felix Kubin and my local homie Bertin and his lovely short-lived Visitors project. It also brought back many good memories of synth-pop from the 80s, both of the variety everybody knows and the ones underground in the cassette network, the ones that are now called minimal wave. If No Type released this a lost gem from the old network, I am sure I would have bought that as a great story.
    What I say about labels, I can also say for artists. I had not thought about the duo of A_Dontigny and Erick D’Orion, also known as morceaux_de_machines (preferred spelling). Their previous releases are from some time ago (Vital Weekly 454 and 338). They call themselves, “the b-boys of musique concrète”. I am not sure why, but it sounds good. The cover lists for Dontigny as instruments (take a deep breath: 0-Coast, SQ-1, TB-03, stereo field, iPad (Animoog, Giant Isopod, Orphion, ethereminivikii, slynthy, reslice, ripplemaker, sector), Effets (mini-kp, DS-22, MT-2, DD-7, Cathedral) and for D’Orion “ordinateur, trogotronic, piezzo, drone thing, consolee preparee” – they hail from the French part of Canada. That b-boys thing sounds good, especially since they play noise music. It is noise music of the variety chaos, as opposed to the harsh noise wall, which is static. There was a time when Merzbow had a similar chaotic approach to noise, and I seem to remember, but not out of listening to Merzbow these days means I also have no idea when that was. Their noise/musique concrète also owns big-time to the world of free improvisation; this is free jazz with different instruments. I am not so much into the whole static noise thing, and if I play noise music, I would instead stick morceaux_de_machines on. I enjoy their approach, which is not just a pure noise blast, but something that leaps around a lot. It even picks up a rhythm in ‘Bad Woofer’, and there is also that ‘drone thing’. This is their most ‘musical’ moment, I think. At sixty-four minutes, one could argue it is a bit long; rather, I think it is a bit long. But served in a smaller bundle and at full volume, this is a most enjoyable tour de force. I love it! (FdW)
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Although I know Carl Ludwig Hübsch is a respected tuba player in improvised music, I wasn’t aware that he is also a composer and an enthusiast in spreading the word about improvised music. The Multiple Joy(ce) Orchestra performs the pieces here. The orchestra extends the James Choice Orchestra, founded in 2004 to “realise works that explore both complex experimental musical notation and improvisation concepts”. Each of the five Hübsch compositions follows the rules and, at the same time, leaves the players free to act upon the execution of the music. The orchestra is extensive, with about 40 to 45 players. There are many wind instruments, pianos, strings, drums, harp, tuba, guitar, and synthesiser. A glance taught me that I don’t know many of the members. The booklet details each piece’s various ins and outs, which I found helpful when playing this CD. While some of this is too much in the world of improvisation for me, I enjoyed all of it. I was thinking about some of the repeating sequences, which perhaps is not so much a common thing in the world of improvised music. That also showed me some of the discipline exerted by the musicians in the pieces on this disc, or, instead, the composition aspect of the music. There is chaos here, as expected, but there is also organisation here, which I enjoyed a lot. I particularly enjoyed ‘Übertritte’, a piece about refugees and borders that slowly built up over eleven minutes, climaxing to a dramatic high. Also, the irregular beats of ‘Ungleich (For Isis)’ was a piece that I enjoyed a lot, just as the orchestral ‘Kopfland’, with its dominant role for the piano. I thought ‘Schwarm’ was too chaotic for me, and closing ‘Kleinbasel’ was alright but didn’t stand out in the same way as the other three.
    That spreading the word thing is literal. Hübsch published two small books containing interviews with improvisers. These books are 10×15 centimetres, ideal reading material on the train, and around 80 pages. The interviews are collected around cities and areas. The first has interviews with musicians from Vienna, the second from the Bay Area. It is a pity that the first is in German. I manage alright with that language, but it is a barrier, I assume. The other one is in English. The interviews follow similar patterns, such as who you are, what your practice in improvisation is, which ideas you have behind this, why you decided to live in this city/area, and how you interact with others. For me, this contains some new names and these musicians put forward interesting ideas. In the Vienna booklet we have Tiziana Bertoncini, Cordual Bösze, Isabelle Duthoit, Franz Hautzinger, Irene Kepl, Thomas Lehn, Nina Polaschegg, Christian Reiner and Burkhard Stangl. The Bay area is represented by Chris Brown, Tom Djil, Philip Greenlief, Aurora Johnson, Scott R. Looney, Lisa Mezzacappa, Tim Perkis, Gino Robair and Karen Stackpole. Like I said, lots of new names! (FdW)
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NOBUKA – REIKO (LP by Esc Rec)

Now, this is a genuinely lavish project. This takes the form of an LP in a gatefold sleeve, 12×12 inch booklet with pictures and a website with more images and text, all about the city of Reiko. There is even an “Augmented Reality app”, which I haven’t seen. Nobuka is fellow city man Michel van Collenburg, and if you know the size of Nijmegen, you could think I bumped into him a few times, but the truth is, I haven’t. This is an unbiased review! The idea behind Reiko is that it is a story about a city “scarred by the effects of climate change and burdened with the imminent threat of viruses” and a girl “who has her own demons. Anxiety, depression, a dead-end job. Wandering the streets, swallowed by a mass of commuters.” Music for the end of times, but are we aware of this impending end? You could think this results in top-heavy depressing music, and while it is dark, it is not without hope. Nobuko has guest players in four songs, twice Michel Banabila and once Machinefabriek and once Marina Tadic (of Eerie Wanda/Kidbug and formerly living in this beautiful city). Nobuka uses field recordings, old tape recorders and analogue equipment in his music, which lumps him into a crowded field of similar musicians, but there are also some differences. Maybe the variations come via his guest musicians (the very rhythmic ‘The People’, with Machinefabriek, is one undeniable example of doing things differently). Also, in his solo pieces, Nobuka strives not for bleak ambient industrial soundtracks, but there is also a very musical undercurrent. For instance, the piano in ‘The Sorrow’ sits on top of industrial rubble, slowly fading away for birds twitter. And yes, there is also the horror of ‘The Ghosts’, with its mass of violin sounds, growing from one to many and ascending to one again. The two pieces with Michel Banabila are dreamy and unsettling at the same time. Nobuko cleverly waves ease and unease together in his music, and he amazingly does that with considerable ease (pun intended). Sometimes there is friction between the sounds, and I thought there was an uneasiness that didn’t work, but it all started to make sense upon repeated listening. The hissing and skipping of vinyl, the many stringed instruments dropping in and out of the mix, the ghostly drones and the melodic interjections.
    All these pieces could easily fit a film score or perhaps be part of the same movie. I can envisage such a thing, a split-screen animation, about the city and the girl and the two overlapping at times. If I knew to make such a thing (and had the time!), then I’d do it with this music as the guiding soundtrack. It is all very evocative music.
    Let me end this review by giving both the label’s website and the project, as it surely deserves your utmost interest. (FdW)
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Depending on which record you play first, you might be in for a treat when you play the next. At least, I was pleasantly surprised. The covers of these records look like they are part of a series. Hospital Hill Records from Australia is a new name for me. Seeing Chris Abrahams be part of this, I assumed both were from the world of contemporary jazz music. I was wrong.  There is new jazz on the record with Abrahams on the piano; Clayton Thomas plays bass and preparations, and Miles Thomas drums and percussion. They have a single piece per side here, and each side is at 45 rpm, thus each piece clocking in at fifteen minutes. You could wonder about jazz and me, but there is a soft spot in me for Australian jazz. I have no idea if what I call Australian jazz is actually a thing. Over the years, I heard a few records from down under that were all jazzy, and I liked them all. There is something minimal and smooth about how these musicians play their music, and this album is not different. In each of the four pieces, the music is minimal and wanders about, like a stroll on a sunny afternoon. But as I was thinking about taking an actual walk once I am done reviewing for the day and playing this music for another time, I realized that it is minimal music, but perhaps not as smooth. Below the surface, there is quite a bit of tension going. There is a cascading roll of drums and piano sounds in ‘between the world of words & the world of’, with bass just as frantically scraped. In ‘the other & that therefore’, there is smoothness for quite some time, but in the second half, it picks up speed, and the drums and bass lock in hectic, while the piano is on a massive speed track, and everything is closed off. Only in the closing piece, ‘Water & Fire, Nothing Else’, it all stays on a more contemplative side of things. For me, the fact that this sounded ‘different’ didn’t matter. I still enjoyed it a lot. The way everything stays close together, exploring minimal themes in a somewhat lyrical style, is just what I love about this.
    The other record is also at 45 rpm and something entirely different. I don’t think I heard of these three musicians before. Their record is a celebration that forty years Voyager I and II were launched into space. Onboard each spaceship a golden record with sound snippets from the earth. You can find it on YouTube. To celebrate this, the three musicians (working together for the first time) locked themselves in a studio with “a gleaming desktop computer & microphone running custom software (pulled from a previous gallery installation by Tim Bruniges), a pair of keyboards from the era, & a laboriously hunted-down playlist of fragments from the original golden record”. Playing these three pieces, I found it hard to recognize much from the original records, but I admit I skipped through it. Bruniges and Day could hear McGuigan’s selections of the record, but not each other. The brief character of the record (twenty-three minutes) is the thing I don’t like, as it all sounds marvellous. In ’55 Sacrificial Greetings’, spanning the first side, synthesizers play an essential role. This doesn’t leap into the world of Tangerine Dream at their tackiest cosmic trek, but more along the lines of modular electronics in the best historical tradition. ‘Moving Star & Devil Bird’ sounds like an exploration of a black hole via an obscure rumble before a synthesizer makes itself known. A similar dark boom in ‘First Stream’, but of course, a bit different. This piece connects with the world of lo-fi drone musicians. And that’s it. You can read the essay ‘Termination Shock’ that comes with the record at the same time, but I would have loved a good old fashioned 33rpm record and forty minutes of this excellent synthesizer music. (FdW)
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FREE MAGIC SHOW – AWKWARD WINNER (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)

Slow and steady is the growth of the Minimal Resource Manipulation label. Initially a home for releases by Matt Atkins, now expanding into a home for others as well. Atkins has a keen sense for seeking new musicians, indicating he’s well informed. Free Magic Show is a new name for me, and it is a duo of Michal Fundowicz (tapes, objects) and Joe Coghill (computer, microphone, objects), also new names for me. Their release is short but powerful. Here we have three pieces in twenty-five minutes, along the lines of other releases on this label. They use the hustle and bustle of objects abuse, uncontrolled lashes of electronics, and snippets of voices inspired by the world of improvised music. Those are lifted left and right from sources unknown. I would think there is quite some room for a meeting of the high and low end regarding technology. Whatever the computer is doing, I have no idea. For all I know, they use it to playback for sounds and not to process them. Dictaphones and walkmans play field recordings, and the recording takes place in front of the speakers. A device was placed on the table to pick up sounds acoustically as well from the speakers. This adds a wonderful odd electro-acoustic feeling to the music, from the rawest and lowest edge of the music. At times the music is wonderfully noisy, and throughout, it is all very hectic and chaotic, especially in the title piece, but it is never tranquil on this release. At this length, I thought it was the right length to keep it all enjoyable. (FdW)
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There are times when reviewing something when you are totally taken off guard. This isn’t to say that you went into the album unprepared. Far from it, but sometimes you press play, and the rest of the world fades out the next hour or so, and you are escorted somewhere else. This happened with the latest Bunny and the Invalid Singers album. When I pressed play, I was expecting to hear something that contained ad-hoc melodies. Luscious instrumentals and the kind of playing that makes you sit up and take notice. Ok, all these things happened, but the quality of the music surpasses anything Bunny has previously released.
    During the ‘Flight of The Certainty Kids,’ I am reminded of the score to the film ‘Bunny and the Bull’ by the Ralfe Band. There are probably two reasons for this. The first is the music whimsical. The instruments sound like they were culled from a toddler music group I took my daughter. Where it was more important to join in than to consider the quality of the music made, that isn’t to say the music on ‘Flight of The Certainty Kids’ reminds me of a bunch of under two’s smacking the shit out of scrapers and triangles. It doesn’t, but it is also more abstract and playful than most music I’ve listened to today. It also shares the innocence that the Ralfe Band have. The music is primal, but not basic. Complex melodies are going on here, being coaxed out of instruments that you wouldn’t expect. The second reason is they both have bunny in the title. This probably says more about how my mind works than I care to admit, but it is true. ‘Flight of The Certainty Kids’ also possess a cinematic quality that makes even performing the simplest takes more epic with it in the background. Walking from one room to another while ‘This is Happening’ made the act feel important. When I retrieved what I was looking for, a jumper, I felt like a major plot point had been established. And this is the power of ‘Flight of The Certainty Kids’. Even the banalest acts seem important when listening to it, which is a nice bonus to a fun album full of wonky melodies and catchy rhythms. (NR)
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To be honest, I forgot that I reviewed something by William St Hugh before, and not even that long ago (Vital Weekly 1220). In the meantime, he released ‘Terra Former’ (great title!), not received by me, and now there is ‘The Cracking Ship’. St Hugh takes inspiration from Alfred Lansing’s book ‘Endurance’, and the music can be seen as “an instrumental soundtrack to the barren, frozen landscape and disorienting atmosphere encountered during the ill-fated expedition of Ernest Shackleton into the Antarctic in 1914-1915”. The cover of this release holds no information for us, not about the instruments or recording dates, or, who knows, musicians who played a part in the music. The latter could undoubtedly have been an option, as there are many violins and other string instruments. Maybe St Hugh uses a sampler with the whole orchestral bunch? I simply don’t know. On this CD, there are fourteen pieces, in forty-one minutes, some as short as two minutes and the longest five minutes; the rest below four minutes. That is a pity. As ‘Storm’, the longest piece, proofs, this is music that benefits from a certain length. As with many of the CDs I receive with soundtracks, this new release by St Hugh suffers from the same problems. Some of these pieces are mere vignettes, the start of a great piece, but cut short because the movie moves on. And, as this is not a soundtrack, this briefness is a sad thing. I’d love to hear more, longer, see them develop into something more significant for many of these pieces. Quite a few of them end with a dull fade out and not something more elegant. The overall tone of the music is very orchestral, but not in the modern sense of the word. I’d say St Hugh’s approach is slightly more conventional, but hearing so many current classical releases these days, I immensely enjoyed the diversion of that. If anything, St Hugh should send this new release to all the leading filmmakers and studios and call out for a proper scoring job. The one about polar expeditions seems to be finished, and it is a beauty, a beauty cut too short at times. (FdW)
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MAD DISC – MATERIAL COMPOSITION (cassette by Cronica Electronica)

Behind Mad Disc is one Takamichi Murata, a drummer/percussionist and composer from Nayoga and Kitakyushu, Japan. I had not heard of him before. The information mentions his involvement with several bands, but none are mentioned by name. On this cassette, he has two compositions for an instrument named the Rin Bell. That is a Buddhist instrument that is rung to signal a chant’s start, pause, and end. There are two compositions of his on this cassette, ‘1’ spanning the entire first side and s’2′ half of the second. Toru Kasai follows that one with a remix. In the Bandcamp download, there are two further remixes, by Koutaro Fukui and Ryoko Ono. It is not easy to say to which extend Mad Disc plays the instrument and the electronic processed part of it. Judging by the music, I’d say the electronic component is a significant portion of the music. Samples lifted from the instrument are sometimes easily recognized, but quite a bit is transformed using granular synthesis, melting the sounds into drones and atmospheres. In the first part, Mad Disc has a gentle, vibrant interaction between both ends of the sampled spectrum. In this long (twenty-two minute) piece, he moves all over the place, sounding like wind chimes at one point. The second part is something entirely different. The samples are incorporated with some wild, jazzy drumming, something along the lines of breakbeat and drum ‘n bass (well, less, the bass going wild, that is).  As much as I enjoyed the trance-like character of the first piece, this one couldn’t get me going. Toru Kasai’s remix uses elements from the quieter part and takes it a step further, adding stringed sounds, so it becomes a massive drone piece. The Rin Bell shines on like stars at night. Koutaro Fukui, on the other hand, goes for a sonic overload on everything, and now the Rin Bell is no longer to be recognized. It is locked away in a very active turbine hall. Ono takes elements of the second ‘Material Composition’ and adds more chaos, which didn’t improve me. It is throughout a most enjoyable release, with a few minor points of criticism. (FdW)
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POOL PERVERT – MASKING TAPE (cassette by Non Interrupt)

A few weeks ago (Vital Weekly 1302), I reviewed three new works by Egbert van der Vliet. Twice under the name Muziek Terwijl U Luncht and once as Pool Pervert. There isn’t much difference between these two names. More importantly, these are fantastic releases, the best I have heard from him so far, and, rest assured, I listened to a lot of his music. Now, he returns with another ninety-minute release that has two tracks. ‘Kino’ on side A, ‘Session’ on side B. That is also the extent of information we receive. Bandcamp mentions ‘all drones: Egbert van der Vliet, September 2021’. I don’t think the expression is ‘what is carved in this tape’, but I like to use it here. What is carved in this tape is another work of great beauty. There is no difference with the previous tapes, and some may think that is a sad thing. But, think of it, development isn’t that quick, and while you may think there is a lot of music from this guy, I think of the cassette as the playground to test ideas, to carve (again!) ideas further, to explore similar territory. There is no need to have it all unless you are a die-hard fan (and I’d say Van der Vliet should have a few die-hard fans), but something you can occasionally delve into. For instance, after another review of high praise by yours truly. Pool Pervert works with found sound from the interview and treatments thereof, using free audio editing software and creating an endless sound flow. Partly industrial and mostly ambient and drone, this is a lovely soundtrack for your black and white super eight films, which you made on that abandoned industrial site in the 80s. Slow down the film to forty-some minutes and stick this music right under it, and you’ll see how perfect that works. The music here has that rusty quality of well-aged ambient industrial rumble. Pull the masking tape of a painting and enjoy the damage. That is what this music does. (FdW)
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ERB/MAYAS/HEMINGWAY – DINNER MUSIC (cassette by Veto Records)

It is long ago since I last reviewed a release from Veto Records. I even asked myself recently if the label is still in business. Happily, they are, as this excellent new release proves. Veto Records functions mainly as an outlet for projects by Swiss saxophonist Christoph Erb, and ‘Dinner Music’ is another example of this. It is released on cassette in tribute to Dutch technician Lou Ottens who died earlier this year. He was a key figure if not the inventor of the music cassette, a popular medium for many decades. This time Erb is in the company of two other well-known and very profiled musicians. Besides Erb on tenor and soprano saxophones, we hear Magda Mayas on piano and Gerry Hemingway drums and objects. Mayas is a pianist from Berlin who studied with Misha Mengelberg and specialised in playing the inside of the piano. Hemingway was a long-time member of the Anthony Braxton Quartet. His collaborations and projects are many and spread over more than 150 records.  Listening to this live recording dating from October 13th at the Misterioso Jazzclub in Zürich, it is evident that the trio delivered a truly inspired set. The musicians excel in two lengthy improvisations and a short one. With Mayas playing the inside of the piano and Hemingway using all kinds of objects, they produce richly coloured textures, with Erb often concentrating on timbre and dynamics. Their interplay is very communicative, and they create fascinating and even hypnotising sequences. Absolutely a joy. Excellent! (DM) 
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The USB device is a sadly not very well-liked medium. However, the sheer size of such a thing allows for extended documentation, such as is proven here. Michael Esposito and Carl-Michael von Hauwswolff received an invitation to perform at the Vigeland Museum on Friday the 13th, 2019. It is announced as a “sonic seance for the ghost of the ghost Gustav Vigeland”. Vigeland was a sculptor known for his productivity, the Nobel Peace Prize medal designer and the Vigeland Installation, “a permanent sculpture installation in Frogner Park in Oslo’ (I am quoting wiki on all of this). Hauswolff and Esposito made field recordings in the house where Vigeland lived and worked, and both recorded some ‘Electronic Voice Phenomena”, also known as ‘voices of the death’. They incorporate these into the concert.
    The USB device contains the two-part concerts as audio, video, and images used in the concert. An extensive set of EVP recordings are enclosed here as well, so daring musicians might want to try to re-create the performance. Also included is a pre-performance talk (video). All in all, there is a lot to investigate here. It took me some time to get through it all. One could mistake both parts of the same concert as two different concerts that follow a similar pattern of a noisy intro, with heavily amplified field recordings and what seems to be drones (possibly stretched out EVPs?). Then a section explaining what is shown, followed by EVPs played naked and either one of the musicians presenting them. The whole concert is also filmed, so you can choose to watch the musicians in action. Maybe for some, that serves as a better explanation of the proceedings, and perhaps it takes away some of the mystery. Listening to the lecture by both is something one could choose to do afterwards and have the veil lifted a bit. Should you decide not to know, then one should skip this, as these are all straightforward explanations of EVPs and how they use them in music. All of the material is uncut, so the two of them arguing what to play is quite funny. It was all long but most entertaining, if perhaps not the right word. (FdW)
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