Number 1307

SVART1 – MONOTONO (CD by Mask Of The Slave) *
SVART1 – BELET ILI  (CD by Mask Of The Slave) *
BRANDON LOPEZ TRIO – LIVE AT ROULETTE (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
DIAPHANE – PARIS (CD by Neither/Nor) *
​REGEN GRAVES – CLIMAX (CD by Pariah Child/Yoshi Wara Collective) *
SONAE – SUMMER (CD by Laaps) *
LIGHT CONDUCTOR – SEQUENCE TWO (CD by Constellation Records) *
BRANDKOMMANDO – DENIAL (CD by Mask of the Slave Records) *
BRANDKOMMANDO – DER PROTEST (CD by Mask of the Slave Records) *
FLUTWACHT – PULS (CD by Mask of the Slave Records) *
CASIOTONE COMPILATION 9 (3″CD compilation by Aotoao) *
SOMNOROASE PĂSĂRELE – COSMS (cassette by Mask Of The Slave) *
MIKEL VEGA – POWNDAK IMPROV (cassette by Crystal Mine) *
PATRICK MCMINN – HAVE DONE (cassette by Hidden Arrow Records) *
QST – QST 64/QST 60 (cassette single by Superpolar Taips) *

SVART1 – MONOTONO (CD by Mask Of The Slave)
SVART1 – BELET ILI  (CD by Mask Of The Slave)

Where to start? From these three releases by Svart1, ‘Circondati Dai Petali Da Soli Moriamo’ seems the most recent one, and ‘Belet Ili’ the eldest, from 2016 (I am pretty sure there is a policy at Vital Weekly about old releases, but somewhere along the line this was approved). I went with the most recent one, and since I don’t know anything about Raimondo Gaviano, the man who calls his music project Svart1, nor his ideas about his music, this will be a nice clean start. Initially, I assumed that his music was all about processing voices, as this seems to be rampant in the first few pieces of ‘Circondati Dai Petali Da Soli Moriamo’. Given my aforementioned unfamiliarity, I have no idea if it is the Gaviano’s own voice we hear or that he cheekily sneaked into a church to record these. There is something about Italians and their love for Catholic symbols, I think, which, just as easily, might be a true satanic ritual. The title means ‘Surrounded by petals we perish in solitude’, and suddenly I am back in church as a young boy. Against my will, I should add, but while ‘III’ is playing, I must admit that I don’t mind a proper church choir. It is quite a moving piece of music, regardless of whatever is festering under the floorboards. Seven pieces are numbered ‘I’ to ‘VIII’, followed by another six pieces with a title. By then, the voices are gone, and the music becomes a diverse collection of gothic-noir soundtracks: a few drum machines, some tribal drumming and intense murky drones. A bit long is ‘Camilla Pisani’, without too many changes. Still, the pieces become more condensed after that specific track and sport a solid mix of industrial music and ritual ambient. This is a long CD, and I wouldn’t have minded the first seven tracks as a stand-alone release. This would’ve made a somewhat stronger disc, as it becomes too much a bit of everything in the end, and it feels as if Svart1 just had too much material knocking about and couldn’t make up his mind.
    Is it a good idea to jump straight to the next release by the same artist? I leave that up to you to decide; I did anyway. It is deceptively titled ‘Monotono’. Now I don’t think the music is very monotonous, but it definitely isn’t highly varied either – at least not as much as the other release I just listened to. The music is clearly dark (again), but now without the religious subtext, and it seems more connected to the world of experimental electronics. There are thick drones, a bit of heavily controlled noise and some minimalist form of rhythm somehow inhabiting a neutral zone of what could be regarded as such. There are no titles for any of the nine pieces, and we find very little connection to anything outside the music itself. That is not to say that this is bland music. Far from it, really. I definitely enjoyed this release, as it properly feeds the dark pit inside. In the end, these nine pieces are fine, sturdy slabs of electronic music, skilfully balanced with their proportioned loops, drones, rhythms, bleeps and screeches. Unfortunately, the cover of this release is a grey as the day today.
    So, the eldest of the trio of releases is ‘Belet Ili’ from 2016. It is also the longest of the three. I am not sure where it stands precisely in the historical development of Svart1’s music – the project’s first release stems from 2007. Stylistically this continues (yeah, in the phenomenology of experience; obviously, it historically precedes the previous album), and maybe I am hearing too much into the time frame thing here, but I think I may discern a somewhat cruder version of ‘Monotony’. Three of the nine pieces are over ten minutes long, and I am not convinced that Svart1 can pull off longer pieces without sacrificing something there. He is at his best when he keeps matters concise and to the point. Still, we find a fine sense of sonic density in this instantiation of Svart1, keeping it all on the noisier side – well, most of the time, anyway. In ‘Ardot (Orghanon)’, he allows for a moment of rest and comes up with a gentle rhythm piece. Throughout these three CDs by Svart1 one notices an exciting variety of approaches, and that sometimes works against the album, but it is also a display of great talent. (LW)
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Matthias Muche is a German trombone player, improviser and composer who studied in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Cologne. Schäl Sick Brass Band from Cologne was one of his first collaborations. This collective played a world music-induced kind of jazz. But Muche soon moved towards more abstract territories of improvisation and composition. He regularly worked with musicians like Jed Bishop, Philip Zoubek , Nicola L.Hein a.o. Still based in Cologne, he is a member of the remarkable Emissatett-ensemble led by Elisabeth Coudoux. With ‘Bonecrusher’, he presents a project with works for ten trombones and percussion. They are played by Matthias Müller, Daniel Riegler, Anke Lucks, Moritz Anthes, Adrian Prost, Maximilian Wehner, Matthias Schuller, Till Künkler, Moritz Wesp and Muche himself. Percussionists  are Rie Watanabe and Etienne Nillesen. If I’m not mistaken, Bonecrusher started as a trio of  Muche with trombonists Matthias Müller and Jeb Bishop and worked in different extended line ups over time. The line-up that we are now facing probably is the most extensive one. The ensemble performs four compositions by Muche and one by Müller. Opening work ‘Glocken’ is atmospheric and starts with Nillesen producing high-pitched sounds by scratching a surface. The trombonists begin to participate with long extended notes, and gradually, the music swells into a more dynamic fabric. The work is more about creating a stretched-out continuity full of subtle harmonies and colouring, not so much heading towards a crescendo. ‘Gleiter’ starts from a simple rhythmic pulse with trombones playing glissandos. Further on, the trombones move along in a buzzing way. Near the end, the pulse returns, preluding a melodic and danceable finale. In contrast, ‘Luffft’, composed by Müller, is a very delicate and ethereal piece concentrating on breath sounds. ‘Beller’ has an English-spoken text in the centre coming from a speaker and ends up in a cacophonic interplay. The closing piece ‘Fanfare’ makes clear that space is an essential ingredient of this music. I remember a concert of The Theatre of Eternal Music Brass Ensemble performing a work by La Monte Young. An ensemble of eight trumpeters surrounded the public. I can imagine a comparable setting for the music of Muche’s ensemble, where the music ‘moves’ from one part to another in the space. No wonder the music has qualities of drone and soundscaping. Not so much, however, in the closing piece. Here we are exposed to an improvised interaction between the players leading up a powerful unison section that marks the end of this work and a remarkable CD. (DM)
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New York-based composer and bassist Brandon Lopez works in jazz, free improvisation, noise and new music. Consequently, he worked with many different artists: cultural theorist and poet Fred Moten, John Zorn, Okkyung Lee, Ingrid Laubrock, Tony Malaby, Bill Nace, Chris Potter, Edwin Torres, Tom Rainey, Mette Rasmussen, etc. For his trio project, Gerald Cleaver and Steve Baczkowski are his companions. Gerald Cleaver is an experienced drummer and improviser who worked with Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, etc. Steve Baczkowski is an improviser, saxophonist, and multi-wind instrumentalist originating from Buffalo, where he led ensembles like Buffalo Jazz Octet and Buffalo Suicide Prevention Unit. In New York, Ravi Padmanabha, Bill Nace, Chris Corsano, a.o. became regular collaborators. Cecilia Lopez, who makes a pronounced guest appearance in one of the improvisations, is a composer, improviser, instrument builder and multimedia artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, based in New York. Brandon Lopez worked with all three of them on different projects as well. At his Bandcamp-corner, one can find some uploads of his trio. ‘Live at Roulette’ is their first – physical – release. In opening improvisation, ‘March Motherfucker’ Cleaver plays a simple beat, accentuated by the bass of Lopez and with high-pitched solo movements by Baczkowski introducing a sharp and dissonant sound that we will meet again in the following improvisations. ‘Dance Motherfucker’ has short clicking sounds by sax and concentrated movements by Lopez, with Cleaver again choosing for an accessible grooving beat. In a way, it reminded me of some Sun Ra recordings of open beat-driven constellations with sparse solos, not filling in all the gaps. ‘My Hearts in the US fall apart’ has fantastic emotional playing by Baczkowski, producing a penetrating dissonant sound. ‘Born Slumming it’ creates a dark and uneasy atmosphere with again on edge played by Baczkowski and a deep bass groove by Lopez. Now accompanied by great deranged and dirty electronic sounds and movements by Cecilia Lopez. ‘Motherfucker I said dance’ continues restraint and controlled in a way that one feels the music can explode and derange at any moment. In all an album of wayward and fascinating improvisations! (DM)
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DIAPHANE – PARIS (CD by Neither/Nor)

Diaphane is a new international collaboration of Frantz Loriot (viola), Raphael Loher (piano), Carl Ludwig Hübsch (tuba) and  Carlo Costa (drums). The album contains two improvisations recorded live by Jean-Marc Foussat at Café de Paris in Paris on November 23rd, 2019. Maybe Loher is the most less-known musician from this quartet. He is a young Swiss pianist and composer known for his work with Swiss units Kali Trio and Sekhmet. He prefers to work in projects that cross borders between modern classic, alternative rock and improvised music. I guess Loriot is the initiator behind this new collaboration. He is a Swiss-based improviser working on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, he works mainly with musicians associated with Neither/Nor, like Italian drummer Carlo Costa. The CD has an extended 36-minute improvisation. They practise group improvisation in a proper and optimal sense. Each performer is equally tuned in and involved in their collective communication. A very ‘democratic’ affair. They make use of extended techniques that leads up to a wide range of sounds and colours. It is often clear who is doing what, but sometimes this isn’t easy to identify. This sometimes evokes the experience of the music is one organic whole, one undivided movement where it is absolutely not relevant anymore to register who is doing what. Although the pleasure of listening to this (and any) kind of improvisation is also to experience the high communicative level reached, which certainly counts for this excellent recording. The vibrant improvisations continue in a very natural flow and are very lively. Fragile and full of details on the one hand, very focused and together on the other. There is much to be observed and to be enjoyed in these multi-coloured and strongly interconnected improvisations. A joy! (DM)
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REGEN GRAVES – CLIMAX (CD by Pariah Child/Yoshi Wara Collective)

From Italy comes Regen Graves, which, so I assume, is a pseudonym. I have no idea who is behind this. This album is his fourth. The previous ones had “Polish and Eastern German themes”, but this time around, he explores “an alternative milieu inspired by Hungarian visionary, Béla Tarr”. I had not heard of this filmmaker before, and I am unsure which film is the inspiration here. Not mentioned on the cover but in the sparse information is that he uses synthesizers, sounds and rhythms, which is all not very specific. Regen Graves’ music is genre wide in the field of experimental music. Dashes of rhythm, dark drones, slowed down voices (in ‘Nothing Will Be Better’), and throughout connects with the world of lo-fi drone makers but expanding on that with his use of rhythm. For instance, in ‘The Last Stage Of Decline’, the arpeggio/rhythm is a sturdy reminder of the world of cosmic music, and ‘The Window’ is a spacious slow rhythm/synth burner. When the rhythm is absent, in ‘Immutable Reality’ and ‘Diegetic Distortion’, it becomes darker, moodier and lower in resolution. The odd-ball out is the bonus track, ‘Heat’, a straightforward rhythm machine in an 80’s styled electrocoating. This song reminds me of early Chris & Cosey, and it seems to break the mood constructed thus far. That might be why this is labelled as a bonus track; I would not see otherwise why this is a bonus and not one of the tracks that make up the rest of the album. All in all, this is a heavily varied album, which I enjoyed. I would think that Regen Graves should make up his might and continue in a more specific style so it all becomes more coherent. (FdW)
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SONAE – SUMMER (CD by Laaps)

To say there are specific sounds or styles with the releases by Laaps is perhaps a bit much. Still, their releases so far were all highly atmospheric and connected to the world of drones, either synthetic or orchestral/acoustic. This one breaks with that. I might be wrong, but this is also the first one by a woman solo project. Behind Sonae we find Sonia Güttler, of whom I had not heard before. She has two albums on Monika Enterprise and one on Bit-Phalanx. She is called an electronic producer and DJ. This album is for the summer season, so arriving a bit too late. Sonae uses quite a bit of solid rhythm, which is a feature I haven’t heard a lot on previous releases by this label. She waves the atmospherics into the fabric of each song, but it is the rhythm that is the glue of the music. Mostly bending towards the techno end of the musical spectrum. Perhaps that is the reason it is also not the darkest of the Laaps releases. I am afraid I can’t say if this dance music, as I am not a person who engages in the act of dancing or DJ-ing. The acid rhythm of ‘La Nuit’ seems too slow to dance too. Sometimes her beats and treatments reminded me of Pan Sonic; sturdy and bleak. As said, however, not too dark, but shimmering like sweaty summer nights, sipping a cocktail with the music sounding from afar, and rhythms generated from crashing tin cans (I was reminded of Herbert and his bottle smashing on stage to create rhythms). Sonae delivers a most enjoyable album, with quite some variation and depicting the various aspects of summer quite well. An album that helps you survive cold winter nights, I should think. (FdW)
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LIGHT CONDUCTOR – SEQUENCE TWO (CD by Constellation Records)

The second album for Light Conductor is my introduction to this duo. They are Jace Lasek (from Besnard Lakes) and Stephen Ramsay (from Young Galaxy). I also have not heard of their other bands. Their music is an all synthesizer festival, with no drum machine used. Instead, all the beats and rhythms come courtesy of arpeggio and synthesizer pulses. Save for a bit of vocal towards the end of the opening track, ‘Splitting Light’, the rest is all instrumental; for all I care, I could have done without those vocals. I am not sure what to make of this album. I like the musical content, mainly because I am a sucker of all synthesizer music, what some call ‘the Berlin school’. Light Conductor owes that tradition, especially Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, and the synth mongers of the nineties, Spaceman 3 or Spiritualized. The two recorded this music during long sessions, which were used in various layers during the mixing stage, and I mean, that is all great to me. So what is ‘wrong’, if anything? Well, nothing really, except that it sounds all so retro. There is no push forward on the whole genre of minimal synthesizer music, not a surprising new insight. Not an odd move to mark a cross-over to something else, just this is excellent atmospheric sequencer driven arpeggio’s, drones and tones. And, as said, this is excellent music, and there is nothing ‘wrong’ with composing in the style of your heroes. See my dilemma? (FdW)
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It is hard to believe that ‘Romance Through the Body’ is the ‘first’ full-length album from Circle of Shit. The industrial noise outfit has been knocking about, putting out limited releases since 2011. Their music takes the ideas of sampling, cut up layering divergent samples to create something terrifying but listenable.
    ‘Romance through the Body’ is not something for the faint-hearted. It might not be as abrasive as many noise/experimental releases, but it is pretty unsettling. Take the album opener, for example. ‘Kyyneleet Liukasteena’ starts off with some lowkey static. Then after some jarring samples, a drone-like riff from a string instrument kicks in. As ‘Kyyneleet Liukasteena’ progresses, a full-on junk table sounds like it’s kicked over and pummelled on a hard, concrete floor. Then the sounds of someone dying of asphyxiation come from nowhere and go back there just as quick. After this, there sounds like traditional Finnish folk music, police car sirens, inaudible groans before descending into a wall of noise. It’s a confusing, conflicting and compelling piece of music. One thing that makes it so listenable is how Circle of Shit has combined all these weird samples into something that makes sense. I’m not sure if it makes sense because none of it actually does, or because I enjoyed it so much I willed myself to like it as I did with some of my parents’ records as a kid. All I really know is that I gleefully pressed play again after the album ended.
    The downside to the album is that each song feels like its own thing, and there isn’t a theme that links the tracks other than they were made by the same people and use similar techniques. It would have been nice if Circle of Shit had tried to tell a bit of a story overall. Or had a more decisive point. Saying that ‘Romance Through the Body’ is a great listen. It reminds me of when I was at college, and we had to use the equipment. We would go out into town with recording equipment and record everything. People talking on the next bench to us. Pigeons eating. The atmospheric sound of carparks. Busy pubs at lunchtime and then try and give it all narrative on the computer software. Of course, we all just ended up with a cacophony of shit, but it was fun to try and force something cohesive from it all. I’ve slightly gone down memory lane here, but my point remains. I love the freedom of ‘Romance Through the Body’. The album has the desire to go anywhere, and it generally does. It’s a shame that a lot of noise/experimental releases can’t take the lead from Circle of Shit and try and have some fun, rather than delivering up half an hour of solid white noise/static.
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BRANDKOMMANDO – DENIAL (CD by Mask of the Slave Records)
BRANDKOMMANDO – DER PROTEST (CD by Mask of the Slave Records)

‘Denial’ has tracks, Prophet, Pray, I’m Not, Idol, When Jesus Meet Satan, To My Brother, 7.2015, and on ‘Der Protest’, Bank, Kirche (Church?), Polizist (Policeman?), Religion, Freiheit (freedom?), and Ich (I, Me?). If there is anything familiar to these 12 tracks sonically, it is that they seem to use found sound, even orchestral – Wagner (To my brother), field recordings inside locations, snippets of speech, some in English of sermons (Prophet) mixed with distorted static, drones and squeals. Often these remain after the field recordings, or in the case of Kirche, the speech is periodically processed by an echo which then dominates the last section. Tracks often have noticeable sections. Reverb and distortion. I suppose these could be placed with the Power Electronics category, though not as provocative perhaps as the originators? For myself, with noise, or noise music, which this is not, any attempt at thematics seemed pointless, often deliberately, as in the case of the Rita, Skate and Shark, who could tell, or Merzbow’s Bloody Sea. Where it attempted sincerity, we had the noise of Mattin and Boyd Rice, in which the vehicle of noise was and is unable to carry any message, by definition. We are left with track titles to indicate a message and material in the tracks, which are at times very clearly in support of the title. I’ve said elsewhere that an aesthetic experience can be gained by ‘reflective judgement’. For me here, the material is too literal for this to take place. (I guess that is why I’m no fan of Opera). As PE was about sensation, pace ‘reflective judgment’ or any judgment, I guess it fits the genre, separating it from the informationless noise. (jliat)
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FLUTWACHT – PULS (CD by Mask of the Slave Records)

Flutwacht “ German power-electronics / noise / post-industrial outfit by Daniel Simon around since 2003…” so now almost 20 years,  noise 30, and Power Electronics 40 years. So it should be evident that any ‘novelty’ in these genres will only be for those yet to hear; in themselves, they are no longer novel. Yet some see even novelty as no longer novel, myself included, as if from the late middle of the 20th C ‘New’ became obsolete, like the ever whiter washing powder- there must be a limit. Another view is that of the late Mark Fisher, (k-punk) The Slow Cancellation Of The Future, ( that is there is no future, and that what was once ‘retro’  is the future and so there is no retro. (I’ve said this before.) “The bad news is the future has disappeared.” Yet even before Fisher was the idea of Post-Modernity, and I feel we have even moved on from that. So is there any news? Yes, and I think in some cases the news is good! This work is good. Why so? Well, integrity, for one, is consistency in its aesthetic. (We have left noise behind and returned to aesthetics)   What this aesthetic is, you can hear for yourself, here – So let’s use Kant’s Critique of Judgement to discover this aesthetic, I will assume you listened, but even if not, the sounds are those of monstrous machinery and mechanics (not the Wasp synth of PE). As if the machinery of the cosmos was some Victorian nightmare mechanism without reason, design or purpose, and this was in a state of constant breaking and collapse. We could go on, as if this was a metaphor, maybe for the present, or maybe for eternity, similar to Kafka’s castle, the manifestation in gears and steel of ‘unresponsive bureaucracy, the frustration of trying to conduct business with non-transparent, seemingly arbitrary controlling systems, and the futile pursuit of an unobtainable goal – alienation.’. And so we could continue,  Giovanni Battista Piranesi depictions of ruined temples – representations not of a Victorian logic which has become monstrous, but that of Greek and Roman reason and light now plunged into  Dionysian darkness, the god associated with chaos, it is the Darkness of Unknowing that Camille Paglial writes about, the Apollonian and Dionysian in Sexual Personae, a concept borrowed from Nietzsche. For Paglia,  the Dionysian is dark and Chthonic. (Underground, earth mother… also a Taiwanese metal band, formed in 1995!) The Chthonic (Dionysian) is associated with females, wild/chaotic nature, and unconstrained sex/procreation. In contrast, the Apollonian is associated with males, clarity,  rationality/reason, and solidity, along with the goal of oriented progress: As she says, “Everything great in western civilization comes from struggle against our origins.” in this darkness. If you followed this, what we have done is ‘reflective judgement’, which is disinterested. Yet, we can appreciate the aesthetic in work, a pleasure, something more than mere sensation from this act of judgment.  So if the noise was a mere sensation, noise qua noise, or Harsh Noise Wall, (Vomir) literally nothing, we have departed from these and returned, recovered, the aesthetic in and of sound. To which we might apply the word ‘music’ and qualify Puls as ‘good music’. (jliat)
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CASIOTONE COMPILATION 9 (3″CD compialtion by Aotoao)

This mini-CD is seemingly a tribute to the early series of home electronic keyboards released by Casio Computer Co. in the early 1980s. It is a project spanning and “celebrating” multiple long-term projects and collaborators of Frans de Waard. Of course, his earliest project is Kapotte Muziek, who present here their first studio recording in many years by the trio). But also his many solo projects as QST, Quest, Modelbau, Freiband to many with others, Goem, Tobacconists, Ezdanitoff, Wander etc. The only one missing is Beequeen.
    The Casio’s used became cult for and through many pop-projects, and perhaps, therefore, the instruments also scream for a more iconoclastic approach: this record does just that to me.
In this record, the Casio’s used are being stretched to their ability in the proximity of various
recording, transforming and composition methods, but finding a nice balance with maintaining the spirit of the instrument. It is a conceptual album but never without aesthetic pleasures, outsider genres and interesting ideas, a Casio-carousel of sonic images with De Waard sitting in the middle of it. Personal favourites are the pieces by Wander and THU20. This release comes with lovely artwork by Owen Ashworth. (MC)
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Back from hibernation, this Spanish duo. Muhammad and Muhammad might not be their real names here. In the late 80s, they were an active force with cassette releases and quiet for many years, but  ‘Poison of Dead Sun In Your Brain Slowly Fading’ (Vital Weekly 1113) marked their return; this is their third new album. They list ‘traces’ on the cover, which are to be understood as ‘inspirations’, I guess. They range from MC5 to Wagner, The Small Faces to Satie, Trio and Laibach. You may not get the idea here, but, well, save for Erik Satie, the mood is heavy, loud and brutal. The cover has notes for each track, which makes a fun read, even if they don’t clarify matters, but some of these names return. These men know their art and history, and while, perhaps, none of this shines through on the music itself (the old ‘if you don’t know, you probably couldn’t hear “an acid stroll around Itchycoo Park”). Rhythm plays an important role in this release. Starting from the brutal, industrialized beats of ‘Gestion De Residuos (Waste Management)’, along with vast walls of sampled guitar, but it also takes the form of drones and uneasy ambient music, such as in ‘Remotitud’. However, throughout, it is on the louder side of the sound spectrum, full of orchestral strength, drama and pathos, and danceable as in ‘I Always Reivindico El Nail Art’, which supposedly means, ‘I always vindicate nail art’. You can’t say there is no humour in the record. This album is an example of old school industrial music but created with modern means. There is a depth that one didn’t have in the good old cassette days. The concept that is no doubt present in this album, I may not have grasped, but I enjoyed the music as well as the effort to make it stand out from any other album of rambling rhythms and dark noise. Perhaps Escupmetralla show us a lighter side in which the humour is not lost? (FdW)
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Deep rhythmic pulse feedback, sound textures bleed in and out at 1.33 or so. It seems to have some kind of improvisation – Recorded live on October 5, 2019, at Moisturizer Gallery in Gainesville. @ 3.55 a sax? Feedback at 5.00 and rhythmic drumming and percussion,  oscillator sweep… and pulses. Slow and murky electronica melodics, which I suppose could be seen under the ‘noise’ banner, yet not in the way noise defined itself as something outside music. This, for me, has more to do with free form music using electronics.  I suppose noise qua noise is now something in decline; it’s very emptiness failing to engage any public for long. Paul Hegarty’s second attempt at a book on noise; Annihilating Noise, includes chapters on field recording, vinyl’s resurgence, Joy Division, Nurse with Wound, and finally The (not so) New Blockaders, with a final chapter on Dante. What has this to do with this review is very little other than pointing out the soup, which was once the culture we now live in. As such Moisturizer is an example. (jliat)
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SOMNOROASE PĂSĂRELE – COSMS (cassette by Mask Of The Slave)

Two lengthy quotes are all Somnoroase Păsărele gives as ‘explanation’. One is by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, and the other one is by Rudolf Steiner. They both deal with the cosmos and how important they think it is. “Real science must be cosmic — otherwise it is not science” – that kind of thing. All of which is interesting and yet something that doesn’t change how I perceive the music. Story or no story that is still the thing, I guess. This cassette has four pieces, all-around eight/nine minutes long and follows the patterns of Somnoroase Păsărele previous releases. The music from Gili Mocanu (MMercury is the other member, ‘assemblage, track titling and pedantics’) relies heavily on loops, digital sampling rather than cut from real tape, in combination with synthesizers and electronics. In ‘Izar’, there is an undercurrent of cosmic music (as is to be expected, so I thought, with such a title), but ‘Kolchab’ is on the experimental edge of cosmic music. This song/piece reminded me of Conrad Schnitzler. The two pieces on the other side are even more experimental. In ‘Gacrux’, there are vague loops and mishmash of electronic keyboards stapled together, forming a rather chaotic pattern. In ‘Formalhaut’, the vagueness prevails, and it’s drone-like, field recording heavy and quite mysterious. The synthesizer is now almost gone or, perhaps, has an entirely different shape than in the three previous pieces. This cassette contains classical music from Somnoroase Păsărele, and it isn’t their most excellent or weakest work. They march on! (FdW)
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MIKEL VEGA – POWNDAK IMPROV (cassette by Crystal Mine)

Guitarist Mikel Vega was from 2005 to 2010 a member of Loan and Back earth and still is part of Killerkume, Orbain Unit and Conteiner. We reviewed a release from Orbain Unit in Vital Weekly 1280. ‘Powndak Improv’ is his first solo release, even when he has two guests in one song; Miguel A. García (electronics) and Fernando Ulzión (saxophone). The latter is also a member of Orban Unit. Vega recorded the first pieces live on December 28, 2020. So far, the details, now the music. As someone interested in free improvisation, drone metal, jazz, noise, electronics and “some contemporary composition proposals”, according to the info, I think Vega set out to have his pieces in these styles. At least he’s showing his skills in these genres. From the free play to erecting a wall of noise, and then it’s back to introspection (‘High Lilith’, for instance, until that explodes). The trio improvisation is the most extended piece, and while loud and direct, it is also an intense interaction between the players. That is something I miss out on in the four solo pieces, which I thought were all not bad at all, but at the same time failed to get a grip on me. I am convinced Vega is a great improviser, but as with so much of this music, it is about the interaction with others. In that respect, I think this cassette is a fine calling card. (FdW)
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It has been a while since I last heard music from Stephen Cornford (Vital Weekly 1181, perhaps) or any release from his Consumer waste imprint. As always, I have a minimal idea as to what Cornford does. The covers of his releases do not always excel in information. Here we just are served some basic dates when he recorded the music. In his work, installations play an essential role, and maybe that is also the case here; perhaps it is a mixed form of installation and improvisation. I would think that the piano plays quite a role here, taped with some highly unusual technology. What kind of technology, you may ask? I have no idea. Sometimes I had the impression that his machines didn’t function properly, but then, I am inclined to believe this low quality is another part of the music. White noise, or hiss, seem to play a role. Side A has one long piece, ‘A state of enclosure’ and was part of May 2020 for AMPLIFY 2020: quarantine (lots of free music on Bandcamp!), in which Cornford has a strange drone-like sound buzzing through his basement, and he is stumbling around in the dark, carefully trying not to kick the piano. And, of course, he does give it a bash sometimes. Sarah Hughes ‘A Score For Piano’ is the basis of this piece, but also ‘A finite number of rooms’, in which the piano function clearly, even when I suspect this to be a toy piano. ‘After their departure’, contains an old recording and a hearth recording, and this one has a soaring quality. All three pieces are minimal, could be extracted from much larger compositions, and possess a strange yet highly captivating character. The last one has a haunted house quality.
    Leo Okagawa from Japan recorded “various metro stations during the quarantine period & sounds by radio stations” and combined these into two pieces of music. He is zapping metro stations and radio stations. I am not a person to travel on public transport often (not by car either), so I have not much idea if metro stations sound different during quarantine or not; I can imagine they do. These metro station sounds mingle with radio waves, and oddly enough, there is not much difference to be spotted here with what comes from the stations. Okagawa places these sounds in pretty much a linear composition. He uses the collage form, cutting and fading sound together. Some sounds are pretty nice to hear, and some are just, well, nothing special. I can imagine some people can use these in their compositions; just lift straight from here (using the cassette for an extra layer of noise). As it goes with such things, I am not too impressed by it. There is little sound treatment, not much to imagine, as it is all pretty clear sounds from (empty) metro stations and radio waves. That is nice, but is it enough? (FdW)
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PATRICK MCMINN – HAVE DONE (cassette by Hidden Arrow records)

When I received this cassette, it was not the right day for me. I was running around, doing small bits and things, whilst trying to catch up with what was there to review quickly. That didn’t work out all too well for the ambient music of Patrick McMinn. I had not heard of him. He writes that he makes ‘noisy ambient using trumpets, custom software created in SuperCollider, and modular synthesizers”. “He’s interested in generative, emergent systems and emulations of natural structures as direct, programmatic statements and song-suites”. There are a few releases on his Bandcamp page. The cassette here is ninety minutes long and have a single piece of music on each side. ‘Habit Fills Up What Remains’, on side A, is “modular and semi-generative”, and can be twenty minutes of three hours. It takes a while before the trumpet arrives on the scene, but once it is there is plays these long sustaining notes, no doubt aided by the use of the computer. The crackles of the modules are not forgotten, and it all unfolds slowly and majestically. When in a hurry, don’t play this. Once I sat down and made sure there was no stress, I let it all roll out and enjoyed the intuitive playing of McMinn, moving slowly from one section to the next. Then take a small step back, pick something again to re-use as the start of a new thing. In ‘Lose And Have Done With Losing’ (loosely based prelude music for Beckett’s ‘Endgame’), McMinn does the same but with guitar sounds, a bit of modular and slowed down trumpet sounds (although he says ‘horns’ on the information; they might be different horns). The routing goes via long delays, adding an even spacier character to the music than on the first side. I am now in full relaxation modus, but as McMinn slowly picks up the volume again, he prevents the listener from falling asleep. This ambient music is what ambient music should be. Soothe the listener and make him aware of the action. Anything else is new age music, and that’s what we don’t like. (FdW)
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QST – QST 64/QST 60 (cassette single by Superpolar Taips)

Urgh. A single. Truth be told, I was too young to buy 7″ singles in the 80s and in the 90s I was quickly fed up with CD singles that mostly featured one original song and then a bunch pointless of remixes. Seriously, give me a proper album any day. As much I love these two songs, where’s the rest? QST is one of the lesser-known projects of Frans de Waard, which he started in the mid-90s and apparently relaunched in 2014. There are two albums, ‘The Silent Cookbook’ and ‘Collecting Space’ with ambient techno musings, and now this cassette single contains two new ones. If the release wasn’t short enough already, the tracks have been limited to three minutes due to time restrictions of the cassette single. True to the projects minimalism, the titles are ‘QST 64’ and ‘QST 60′, without further specification. I think of ’64’ as a ‘night song’, with its slower rhythm, darker synths and stretched gong sounds, whereas ‘QST 60’ is a more lively, day-time song. Here we have a vocal sample and an arpeggio synth hammering away, all with an up-tempo 4/4/ bass drum. It’s the kind of music that makes you drive a bit faster (no government health warning included tough). And well, that’s all, folks! I hear De Waard is working on an ambient techno-pop album, so I’ll get back to you in due time. (LW)
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