Number 1309

DAS RAD – LAIK TORS (CD by Discus Music) *
JOHN DUNCAN & T.R. KIRSTEIN (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
ABBA – VOYAGE (CD by Polar) *
ODD (CD by Fertile Crescent Re-coredings) *
BENGALFUEL – AURIEMMA (CD by Infraction Records) *
TASOS STAMOU – MONOLITH (2CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
CHORE IA – REANIMACJA (CD by Antenna Non Grata) *
TRIO_IO – NEW ANIMALS (CD by Antenna Non Grata) *
MATTIN – LICKING EARS (CDR by Edition Erich Schmid) *
JOE COLLEY – TEAR (7″ lathe cut/CDR by Ballast) *
PANOPTIQUE ELECTRICAL – DECADES (2021-2021) (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
R.A.S. – SANDPAPIER UND MEERESRAUSCHEN (CDR & cassette by De Fabriek Records & Tapes) *
THELXINOE – INNER SUBSPACE (cassette by Avalanche) *
KEVIN CORCORAN & JACOB FELIX HEULE – EROSION (cassette by Notice Recordings) *


There is a lot of space in ‘You Never Know’; it feels like either a painting of the old west or something by Mark Rothko. In fact, listening to the album reminds me of the first time I saw Rothko’s ‘Light Red over Black’ and ‘Untitled 1950’ paintings. I was taken aback by how vast they were, yet by how little was actually going on. This is slightly disingenuous towards Paulina Owczarek and Peter Orins, and I’m being slightly facetious, but my point remains. In those paintings, Rothko uses huge swaths of colour to get his point across. They are over-powering. Bold. Loud and unforgettable. Owczarek and Orins do something similar but in a slightly different way. The first thing you notice is the amount of space. There is loads of it. Instead of filling their compositions to the gills with sound Owczarek and Orins only use their instruments when they either have something to say or to get their point across. On ‘What Might Happen’, the song is constructed around (seemingly) abstract noise rather than a melody. There are creaks of sound. Squeaks of horns and ad-hoc percussion. After each of these motifs, we are given time to digest them before the next round of sounds kicks in.
    ‘How People Behave’ gives us more melodies, but not much. It is still pretty free. And this is what makes ‘You Never Know’ such a delightful listen. As the title suggests, you never know what is going to come next. Will Owczarek and Orins just wail on their instruments, creating a wall of noisy jazz, or will they deliver tangible melodies that get lodged in your head? Ultimately it doesn’t matter as the listening experience is at the same glorious level. (NR)
––– Address:


A few years ago, all you needed to do to be considered noise had some insipid static. Mumble incoherently too close into a microphone. Rattle a few chains and greyscale your murky artwork. Luckily, those days seem to be behind us, and what we have now are fully realised pieces of music constructed from the idea up. This is something Daniel Sine and his L’Eclipse Nue project has never had to worry about. Since 2009 Sine has been releasing the kind of noise I dreamed about in those pre-internet days where you’d read, or hear, about something but never be able to find it.
    On his new album, ‘A Defective Man/Torn Spectral Lens’ Sine delivers exquisitely destructive soundscapes. As the titles suggest, these pieces of music appear to question what it means to be a ‘successful’ person in the eyes of society. Of course, what society deems a success is rarely ever that true success means, but it doesn’t stop society from sticking its beak in where it isn’t wanted. On songs like ‘Public Transport’ and ‘Liquor and Blood,’ Sine firstly tries to explain how these things sound. ‘Public Transport’ is filled with sparks, high pitch wails and rumbles. Throw in someone playing music too loud from a speaker too small, old gimmers mumbling about their pre-retired lives and the latest gossip from the sixth form common room, and this is the majority of transport experiences I’ve had. It also gets to the crux of how banal public transport is. Yes, the sparks and rumbles keep the song moving forward, but its monotony is there in all its wonderful glory. ‘Love at Sea’ opens with the sound of creaking. If you close your eyes, you can picture yourself adrift at sea. Floating away from whatever drove you to sea and drifting toward who knows what. All you have with you are your thoughts. The emotional impact of this song gives me the terror of what I think being adrift at sea to be like. As ‘Lost at Sea’ enters the final third, it really is a thing of grotesque beauty filled with screams, creeks, and abject horror. ‘Torn Spectral Lens’ is 12-minutes of eerie synths, spooky screams and a general feeling of uncomfortableness that is hard to shift. It slowly builds until three-quarters of the way through, and it is almost unbearable to listen to. But you do. Something keeps you from switching it off.
    What Sine has achieved on ‘A Defective Man/Torn Spectral Lens’ is to deliver one of the cleverest collections of themed soundscapes I’ve heard for a while. Everything about the songs is devastating and captivating. From the moment each one starts, you totally get why Sine has created it. This is the strongest and most enjoyable album Sine has ever created. And that’s saying something! This is an album to really invest time with. Listen to them and try and picture yourself in the environments that Sine has crafted. At times it reminds me of listening to BBC Radiophonic effects tapes as a kid. In the dark when I should have been asleep before school. I lay there in the darkness, gripped by a kind of fear I’d ever encountered before. I knew that the sounds were fake, created in a well-lit studio in the centre of London, but the sound effects really tapped into imagination. The same is true of ‘A Defective Man/Torn Spectral Lens.’ Yet again, Sine is creating the kind of music I’ve always dreamed of but didn’t realise I needed. (NR)
––– Address: <>

DAS RAD – LAIK TORS (CD by Discus Music)

Das Rad is a trio of Nick Robinson (guitars, keyboards, electronics), Martin Archer (woodwind, keyboards, synth bass, electronics) and Steve Dinsdale (drums, keyboards, electronics), presenting their third release. ‘Das Rad’ (2018) and ‘Adios Al Futuro’ (2019) were their first two steps. Das Rad started in 2016 on an initiative by Martin Archer “with the idea of exploring a ‘motorik’ vein”. All three performers were already reputed players at that time. Steve Dinsdale is most known for his work with electronic improvising trio Radio Massacre International. On Bandcamp, we can also find several solo albums by him. Nick Robinson has operated for a long time in the Sheffield scene and developed into an accomplished looping guitarist. The first two albums found considerable recognition in prog rock media, which may imply that their music has characteristics of the music called prog rock. I don’t know who coined the term ‘progressive rock’. It happened somewhere in the 70s. The LP format allowed it to leave the song format behind and experiment and develop long extended tracks. In that sense, experimental and progressive if you want. Das Rad stays away from symphonic constructions and whatever might be characteristics of prog rock. Their instrumentals depart from soundscaping and improvising, eventually over a beat, with only in ‘Mauger Hay’ a strange and surprising vocal interlude with vocals by guest Peter Rophone. Opening track ‘Offtwerk’ opens with a beat with echoing keyboards and long extended patterns by the sax, Fripp-like guitar solo on moments, mellotron-sound. ‘Kapowl’ is an uptempo and jumpy work. Overall I suppose most of the titles are a mix of pre-conceived and improvised ideas. It is fun to wander and meander through their sound constructions, but for my taste, they are too shapeless and unfocused to keep my attention. (DM)
––– Address:


Here we have the fourth Keith Tippett release for Discus Music. It started with the release of ‘The Nine Dances of Patrick O’Gonogon’ in 2016, followed by the rerelease of his solo album from 1980 ‘The Unlonely Raindancer’ (2019). In 2020 ‘The Monk Watches the Eagle’ was released. And now we are speaking of a double cd with piano duets of Tippett and Matthew Bourne. Both played in jazz, improvisation and contemporary fields and knew one other already for 20 years when on a meeting in 2016, Tippett asked, ‘how about a duet sometime?’ John Cumming, a close friend of Tippett, made the first duo-concert possible with a 2017 London Jazz Festival concert. This collaboration would last to near the end of 2019. The first cd presents eight duets recorded in a studio in Leeds on July 8 and 9, 2019. A crystal clear recording. All titles are composed by Tippett and Bourne except the last track, ‘Something I made up’, a short solo piece by Tippett. The second cd offers a live recording of one 38-minute session in London on October 12 that same year, which turned out to be Tippett’s last concert. He passed away on June 14th, 2020. So both recordings took place after two years of regular playing. On both occasions, they cite now and then certain idioms and styles and even melodies. Still, overall, the music makes the impression of abstract modern classical piano music that could be composed or improvised. The performance is intense and concentrated. The performers play in a complementary and similar vein. The music constantly changes in dynamics and moves in many different directions. But always very cohesive and strongly intertwined. Expressive and never indecisive. An impressive document! (DM)
––– Address:

JOHN DUNCAN & T.R. KIRSTEIN (CD by Moving Furniture Records)

I heard the name John Duncan for the first time in the mid-’80s, and ever since I heard his music off and on. In the last decade, mostly off. I am not sure if there are many new releases from him, or maybe they simply don’t reach me. Duncan was once part of the Los Angeles Free Music Society, starting a trajectory that brought him to Tokyo, Amsterdam, and then Italy, where he performed radical music. The shortwave radio is one of his main sound sources (well, perhaps ‘is’ should be ‘was’). Kirstein, on the other hand, is someone of whom I heard not too much music, save his work with Pär Thörn (Vital Weekly 1261) and that he is a member of Lights People (Vital Weekly 884) and Topos, a trio with Jacob Kirkegaard and Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard. I believe you could call him a computer musician, but that is also what you could call Duncan.
    This collaborative work started with a dream Kirstein had in which Duncan repeated the phrase ‘You Are Safe’ (the dream was on the day that Roky Erickson from the 13th Elevators died, March 31, 2019, if that has any relevance). Kirstein asked Duncan to record that phrase, as well as ‘Come To Me’, which is the second piece here, and around that, they spin an intricate web of sine waves or drones; or both. You never know how these are generated nowadays. Likewise, I am not entirely sure what was done here, beyond the voice of Duncan. ‘Come To Me’ is repeated more times than ‘You Are Safe’ and has more words. It is a song if you want. I don’t know how the drones/sine waves were made, but my best guess is that these are computer-generated. In ‘Come To Me’, the drones at the beginning sound like a buzzing insect, which is slightly annoying, but over twenty or so minutes, it morphs into a gentler variation. By then, the repetitions of the voice are also less. ‘You Are Safe’ starts with a similar drone as ‘Come With Me’ ends, maybe tying both pieces together, but the drones remain sober and atmospheric throughout this piece. The repeated text is almost like a warning signal. I enjoyed this piece a lot for its minimal character and, honestly, the lesser amount of text. The other one is not bad at all, certainly in the second half of the piece. It is altogether a most interesting collaboration. (FdW)
––– Address:

ABBA – VOYAGE (CD by Polar)

As much as I would love to say this is the record I waited for since they broke up in 1982, it is not. Partly because I didn’t care in 1982, and it wasn’t until a decade later, when I worked in a very alternative record store, which shared space with a left-wing bookstore, that my interest in Abba re-surfaced. Abba was the first group on my radar in 1973 when I fell for ‘S.O.S.’, and in the early 90s, one of the bookstore volunteers played ‘Gold’ by ABBA a lot; I ended up getting a copy myself and later on, I went to have all the other, regular albums. There are various types of ABBA to love; uptempo pop, the disco phase, the dramatic ballads. You will not be surprised I am no fan of the latter, but the uptempo pop and disco are absolute favourites. ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’, ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’, ‘Money Money Money’, it’s all good in my corner. I enjoy the harmonies, the Phil Spector-like wall of production sound (doubling every instrument and voice) and the silly versus the profound lyrics. I never hoped for another ABBA record, but if it’s there, sure why not. Ten new songs, thirty-seven minutes; classic pop lengths there. I am a bit torn here. There are not really the sort of earworms from before, but hey, maybe some of these need to grow? We had almost fifty years for the others. ABBA is best in full swing as a band, with two female harmonics, uptempo, fun and serious, and those songs are here more than the dramatic ballads. Sadly it starts with one of those, the over-long ‘I Still Have Faith In You’, ending with the earnest and equally dramatic ‘Ode To Freedom’, both of which I could do without. The same goes for ‘Little Things’, the obligate Christmas song. Otherwise, I am pretty pleased with the rest, even when it is a bit out of balance. ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’, ‘Just An Notion’ and ‘Keep An Eye On Dan’ could have been all made forty-five years ago, just before ABBA went to the disco side of things. 6 out of 10; that would also be my points for this one, should we do those. (FdW)
––– Address:


Ah, today is not Dimanche but Mercredi; that it is Wednesday, not Sunday. I am sure Robert doesn’t mind that I play his CD on the ‘wrong’ day. Following the composition ‘Requiem’ (see Vital Weekly 1258), Jocelyn Robert wanted to compose a bit ‘lighter’ to digest. What’s better to enjoy a Sunday afternoon with some quiet piano music? My collection isn’t the biggest in that respect, but one disc that I often have in the machine is a set of Satie performances by John White (the composer once part of the Obscure Music series). So, even when today is not a Sunday but a Wednesday, the mood is alright. I had the unfortunate pleasure to leave my abode to pick up a parcel and found it to be the first cold day of the year here in the Netherlands, taking a hat and gloves (in all Satie-inspired dress sense). When I returned home, I made coffee (I didn’t hit the bottle as Satie may have done) and started to play the seven quiet, reflective pieces of piano music by Jocelyn Robert. My expertise in the field of modern and not-so-modern classical music is, perhaps, more than the average reader of Vital Weekly, but to discuss music in terms of fifths and eights and minor or major keys is also beyond me. So, am I allowed to say about this release, ‘I Love It’? and leave it at that? I can hear that Debussy and Satie styled impressionistic tonal quality in this, which means I am sold already. Had I not the pleasure to devote my afternoon to other releases, I would think back into a world of piano music.
    The other new release by Robert is different, much different. On ‘Vicomte De Rien’, Robert plays the pipe organ, and it is inspired by ‘The Highest Poverty: Monastic Rules And Form Of Life’, a book by Giorgio Agamben. It is about the feeling Robert had while reading the book. The pipe organ was played, and then the computer reworked the recordings, translating them into new notes, which are then played by the pipe organ again. This is a strange release of strange pipe organ sounds. For once, these are not massive church sounds but rather intimate sounds. Robert keeps the music small here. Maybe there is a sort of baroque feeling about these pieces here, but at the same time also a sort of John Cage-inspired randomness. Is it the kind of music a human can perform or is the computer playing the organ with some impossible structures? Again, my total failure at playing any instrument, or reading scores, makes me have very little idea about what is going on. If Robert’s piano release is one to lift me from my daily routine, then ‘Vicomte De Rien’ keeps me firmly on my two feet. I am scratching my head, trying to make some sense. Do I enjoy this? Maybe oddly, but yes, it does because it is so different from many of the releases I hear. This release is fascinating and alien. (FdW)
––– Address:

ODD (CD by Fertile Crescent Re-coredings)

Behind ODD, we find a Dutchman, Robert Hofman. He refers to his Facebook page for more information, which I would think is undoubtedly a threshold, I would think. He has official distribution for his CD, as well as a Bandcamp page. ODD stands for Offensive Defiant Disorder, a “behaviour disorder one might explain as anarchy or punk mentality,” and according to the information, something developed by the children in the Gaza area. The instruments are “mainly” Arabic, but how ODD uses them is quite different. This music is not to be locked into one genre but crosses various. I checked his Facebook page and noted his love for Rapoon and Muslimgauze, and it is not difficult to spot the influence here. The whole angle of occupied areas is straight out of the Muslimgauze textbook (although I don’t think the late Bryn Jones would use a Yasser Arafat quote post-1993’s peace treaty signings). Some of the rhythms too, but as said, ODD is much more. You will find elements of jazz, electro-acoustic music, soundscapes, noise and techno in the various pieces here. The first has four parts, the second has three and track three and four are just one part. I am not sure what to think. The diversity is great here; it is like tuning in to an alternative radio station, blasting weird sounds and off the grid rhythms. Sometimes, however, it seems as if the beat is stuck into one groove, without much change. It looks as if these rhythms are little more than a sample lifted from another record and receiving little treatment and overstaying their welcome. But then it slips back into the hazy mix of sounds, voices and has that mysterious Middle Eastern atmosphere, spooky, haunted and warm, and those passages I love very much. And, alright, some of the more Muslimgauze/Rapoon inspired rhythm pieces are lovely but are certainly in need of some additional development. I believe this is his debut release, so there isn’t perfection yet, but this is a most promising start. (FdW)
––– Address:

BENGALFUEL – AURIEMMA (CD by Infraction Records)

Infraction Records always know how to surprise me with new names. Here it is a duo of Joe LiTrenta & Miki Kizh, who go by the name Bengalfuel. This is my introduction to their world of sound, and it is a most sad one. That tone is because of the death of two brothers, who died in the space of a few weeks, inspired the album. I have no idea what kind of instruments Bengalfuel uses on this record, but my best guess is guitars and lots of electronics. The last tears the first apart, most gently and respectfully, I should add, and creates music for very slow drifts. Music is like watching slow motion. In ‘Orange’, a few field recordings are sunk in a bath of reverb and a few shimmering melodies as lights to guide through the shadow. Bengalfuel has six pieces, from six to ten minutes, although more of the longer ones, and it is time well-spend. There is no repetition to fill up time and space, but we follow the peaceful, minimal developments of the music in each piece. More drone than ambient, if you get my drift. The music arrives from some distance, so it seems like a haunted shadow from the past. Maybe the residue of music, if you can imagine such a thing, and I really enjoy that. Especially now winter time has arrived and the twilight hour comes early. Usually, that signals that the day of work is over, and the pen can rest. It is also a time of the day to play exactly the kind of music I love to write about; all things mysterious and drone-like, the darker end of ambient music. Bengalfuel has loads of that on this album. The perfect soundtrack to slide in the shimmering time of sleep. (FdW)
––– Address:


The experience of having your music available on a physical sound carrier was so fun for Nijmegen-based Rick Sanders that for his new one, he moved from CDR to CD. You could think that I would know every experimental soundmaker from my hometown, the not so sunny (today) city of Rick Sanders, but I don’t. Sanders I met by accident when I asked him something about the CDR (Vital Weekly 1278), and it turned out he lives close by. I went over to check out his studio and saw lots of knobs and wires, and much of the explanation went straight over my head. What he played me were a few excerpts of what now is on ‘Traverse’. This is an album where modular synthesizers are used to play generative music and improvise on themes and sounds. Sanders feeds flute sounds through his modules and through, more or less, random processes, the music moves through resonator and delays, and thus the textures on this album are created. Unlike some others who work with generative music and whose work would be an option to appear in the form of an application, Sanders’ music stands firmly by itself. In each of the six pieces, elements from previous pieces seem to re-appear, but now in different configurations. The music meanders by, peacefully and quiet, and again I could say something about the colour of the day and how it fits the music, but let’s refrain from that for now. Sometimes a piece ends on a relatively quick fade-out, but I assume that is part of the nature of this music. Sanders knows how to make subtle variations on a theme, and the six pieces here are not carbon copies of each other but sufficiently different approaches, effects and executions. Music to work by if my job wasn’t reviewing music. Music to relax by, which is something I did in the first few rounds of playing this. This is an excellent follow-up to his debut album and leaps forward. (FdW)
––– Address:

TASOS STAMOU – MONOLITH (2CD by Moving Furniture Records)

It is great that Moving Furniture Records has a stable of artists, just as a proper label should have, exploring talent and such. For instance, Greek composer (London based) Tasos Stamou now presents his third release for this label. It takes the form of a double CD. On one disc, we gave his studio works and on the other disc, live recordings. Over the years, he refined his techniques, using what he describes as “a simple yet complete electro-acoustic set up”, in which he tries to make it all sound organic. There are different instruments in the studio and on stage, and also the execution is a bit different. In the two live recordings (one from 2017 and one from 2020), he uses a prepared zither along with “live guitar pedals effect processing”, and on one a tone generator and smartphone app, and on the other, a “self-modified Stylophone and Gen X-1”. In the studio pieces, the main instrument is part of the title, as we will see. The main difference is the level of control, I would think. The three studio pieces are shorter and, for the lack of a better word, more coherent. It seems as if Stamou sets out beforehand what he wants to do, check all the parameters, maybe do a few takes (rehearsals), but committing to the ‘real’ recording. The element of drone music is never far away, be it if he uses goat bells, a Hohner organ or a toy-sized steel drum. Sometimes he uses previous recordings along with the proceedings, but throughout, I would think this is a ‘live’ recording, albeit one that was re-done a couple of times to get the ‘right’  take. I enjoyed these pieces, which should be an interesting variety, from pure drones in ‘Chord Organ Drone #2’ to the chaos of ‘Steel Drum Drone’. In the two live pieces, both just under thirty minutes, the playing is freer, with less control going on. Maybe it adds a slightly more improvised feeling to it. The recording is very much ‘live’, with the occasional cough to be heard. As I haven’t had the chance to see Stamou play a concert, I had no idea what to expect, and as such, it is interesting to hear this. However, if you ask me which I prefer, I must say that the studio side of his work is the one for me. There he creates, as always, pieces of refined, organic beauty. (FdW)
––– Address:

CHORE IA – REANIMACJA (CD by Antenna Non Grata)
TRIO_IO – NEW ANIMALS (CD by Antenna Non Grata)

These two new releases by the Polish imprint Antenna Non Grata show the two-headed monster they are. The first release shows their experimental side and the second their love for improvised music. Behind Chore IA we find “philosopher, bassist, avant-garde rock enthusiast” Jacek Wanat. For whatever reason he calls this ‘music4undead’, and he plays bass, cello, voices, processing and painting; I am sure the latter is on the cover and not the music. The cover lists five track titles, but there is only one on the CD, which is ninety-six minutes long. Even when I said this release was on the experimental side, I also think that it is rooted in the world of improvisation. The whole segment from forty minutes onwards is such an example of imporivised string bending. However, Chore IA knows how to alter improvisations for strings into mighty fine drones. A large portion of these pieces is aboyt those drones. I don’t know how he generates these. Maybe he applies sound effects to bass and cello, but it might very well be possible that he uses some sort of computer treatments here. These segments with drones form the majority here. Chore IA’s enthusiasm for avant-garde rock is something that he keeps private, as I couldn’t hear any of that on this album. I enjoyed the way Chore IA went through his material, from pure drones to a mutated form in which the drone is present, but mingles with sounds in the background. These sounds are not easy to define, I think. In his approach to drones, Chore IA isn’t particular careful. Much of this is on the louder end of the sound spectrum, and sometimes sounds like a church organ on fire. Chore IA gives his music urgency which is unusual and great, but sometimes he moves too quick through his material.  clumsy cross fade to get to the next section. Luckily that doesn’t happen too often, and the album remains a strong, despite it’s length.
    Trio_IO’s previous release was ‘Waves’ (see Vital Weekly 1188), but not discussed by me. The trio consist of Zofia Ilnicka (flute), Lukasz Marciniak (electric guitar) and Jakub Wosik (violin). While this not really my cup of tea, I was playing this on rotation for some time today, because I was tied up in doing something else. The music of Trio_IO seemed to be on an odd crossroad of improvisation, modern classical music, and folk music. Sure, some of the material has that choric aspect that improvised music sometimes has, but oddly enough I see all sorts of structures popping up here than made me think differently. Maybe there is a sort of song-structure in place here and there? Take for instance ‘Ants’, the fourth piece here in which the guitar plays strange patterns that are oddly coherent and he keeps returning to them. Just as easily this connects to some weird post-punk could have done, but the flute and violin keep it firmly in improvised land. What I found interesting is that there was quite a bit of repetition going on, which I always assumed was a no-go in the world of improvised music. All of this made that i found this quite a compelling release. (FdW)
––– Address:


The last Lore City album, ‘Alchemical Task’, felt like it came from nowhere. It was a shout out of the blue. It wasn’t anything new, but it was refreshing. Musically Lore City, Laura Mariposa Williams and Eric Angelo Bessel took their musical loves and distilled it into an album that was as broody as it was delightful. On its follow up, they do the same. The results aren’t as striking, but they are as enjoyable.
    If ‘Alchemical Task’ was a trip to the darker reaches of shoegaze, ‘Participation Mystique’ is the morning after. Everything has a slightly lurid, or is that lucid, quality to it. Take ‘Once-Returner’ for example. Williams drone-like vocals drift over static beats, shimmering synths and muted guitars. It works incredibly well, and when it contorts into the instrumental sections, the song goes up a notch. Here Lore City do well what they’ve always done. Crafting killer melodies and skewing them into something almost grotesque. ‘I Know You Know’ treads a slightly darker path with its mantra-like chorus of “I know you know”. It says everything and nothing at the same time. How often have you said “Yes I know” when you really haven’t and blagged it? Maybe that you care to remember. Here Lore City is kind of calling your bluff. They are almost goading you into admitting your ruse. And this is why ‘Participation Mystique’ is a great listen. Williams and Bessel are delivering captivating melodies, ethereal vocals and a place to come clean about all your past transgressions.
    Overall, ‘Participation Mystique’ is the kind of album you could play all day and still not really have an idea about what it’s really about. However, it is also an album that you could play once and totally get its meaning. It’s just down to you. This is part of its mystique and why your participation is necessary to crack it. (NR)
––– Address:


‘If daily life has become a rut and if you want a shock, such as when you meet an old lover by accident in a town, then come to see Nuhikun’, to quote J.A. Seazer (Julious Arnest Seazer – or Takaaki Terahara to his parents), composer, playwright and theatre producer and something of a legend in his home country Japan. Born in 1948, Seazer is a film and theatre music composer active in the Japanese avant-garde theatre and rock music (releasing several now quite rare and valuable albums) since the late 1960s. Composing the rock opera score to the anime Revolutionary Girl Utena in the mid-1990s gave him mainstream credit. Seazer is best known for his musical compositions for Terayama Shuji’s Tenjo Sajiki experimental theatre group, which he joined in 1970. Terayama Shuji, the counterculture slash enfant terrible dramatist, was vital in developing Japanese experimental film and writing. Vindicated by time, the once controversial Shuji now has his own museum in Japan. Upon Shuji’s death in 1983, Seazer has led his own theatre group, Banyu Inryoku. This album features Seazer’s compositions for the play Nuhikun-Directions To Servants. The 1978 play, with its title referencing Jonathan Swifts’ satirical take on the then-popular ‘conduct books’ for servants, is a theatrical happening that has now been performed over 100 times globally. The story is set on a farm in an isolated village, where there is no master of the house. As a result the characters in the play, all servants, decide to play the role of master in turns. Questioning the relationship between authority and control of the actor and audience, Nuhikun shows an almost sadomasochistic world, combining dreams with reality. Sounds good, eh. But what about the music? The nearly two-hour play is condensed into two beautiful albums, recorded by a small ensemble of bass, guitar, drums, piano, flute, tuba and violin. The slow, wandering melodies on guitar and piano are sometimes accompanied by spoken word and dreamlike female choruses. The restrained use of effects emphasises where it belongs: on the music and the acting. The surreal calm is disturbed by more rock-oriented pieces (including strange effects and barking – what else?) that are reminiscent of the music of Japanese composer Magical Power Mako. Shuji’s dramatic visuals in the actor’s Kabuki-like make-up, their Butoh-like movements and the stark lighting of the stage are difficult to appreciate on vinyl. The images, of which there are sadly only a few on the cover, and the teaser video that can be found on YouTube are striking though. Despite this lacking, the music magically manages to give a voice to the servants shifting roles in a society in turmoil – much like ours today. Released by the Polish label Devoted Art Propaganda to commemorate the centenary of Polish – Japanese diplomatic relations, this is the first release of the music of this play on vinyl and the first release of music for any of Tenjo Sajiki’s plays outside Japan. Premiered on 19 October of this year, the album is released in an edition of 300 copies. The strength of Seazer’s music, and perhaps also in a sense its weakness, perhaps lies in the fact that Seazer’s music stands up so well without any visuals. Rather than being complementary to the play, the music has a unique personality of its own. Gradually peeling off layers every time I listen to this album, I find myself more and more immersed in Nuhikun’s fascinating world. (FK)
––– Address:
––– Address:


As I was listening to this new release by CM von Hauswolff, I realize that I don’t hear that much of the man and his music, which is sad, because I quite enjoy what he does. Here has a piece of music that uses field recordings from Nepal. In 2016 he received a planeticket as a gift and while not intended to work on music, he was inspired by the words of Ira Cohen, who wrote an introduction to texts/poems by Angus McLise, “I remember when we [Cohen and MacLise] went together to Kirtipur in Nepal to listen to the wind.” That is what Hauswolff also did, and took it back home. MacLise, you obviously know (should know!) was the brief first percussionist of The Velvet Underground (well, you all saw the recent documentary by now?), kick starting an interest in all things drone related for a lot of people. Hauswolff is certainly among them. Both pieces have a similar construction: it all starts with field recordings and from there on it slowly builds. One side has ‘Bringing The Flutist’ as a title, and the other ‘Bringing The Kumari’. In both pieces you will notice a slow fading of a rhythm. It is not easy (nay, impossible), to define how made this rhythm. I’d say from sampling the hell out of an instrument, transposing it, and miracously he gives it a treatment that has a great natural feeling. On the B-side it is like the wind howling around the temple on top of a barren mountain. Animals and people walking outside, on fine distance, but nevertheless present. On the A-side the rhythm has a great subdued Pan Sonic-like quality, and it works very mysterious. Here it is mostly bird calls and an occasional temple bell ringing. I don’t prefer one over the other, and think both are great. The music is here is an excellent combination of field recordings and electronics, side by side and creating two massive pieces of obscured clouds, hoovering close over my head. (FdW)
––– Address:


There is something to say that this release might not be my cup of tea. The title suggests gothic (a word of which its meaning I cast upon all things too dark), and the cover is likewise darkness. The music, however, brought on some mild confusion. There are no instruments mentioned on the cover, and judging by what I hear, I think Schauer, a musician from Vienna I had not heard before, uses a sampler to capture and replay orchestral passages and glitchy electronics. A meeting, if you will, of some heavy lifting and quiet creepy crawling. The fifth piece (with a Japanese character as a title) is a peaceful and reflective piece of music. The tension here might be below the surface, but that adds to the intensity here. The title piece sees some orchestral music stretched out, growing intensities with the power of something on early Cold Meat Industry (my knowledge thereof is limited, but I was reminded of In Slaughter Natives). The music, so I am told, has to do with “Our technological, social and political reality… who hasn’t been affected?” and ranges from “death and destruction, hope and reemergence”. So, the word gothic might apply, you ask? I am still not sure about it. There is something about the treatments used by Schauer here that are undoubtedly from the darker underbelly of the music world, especially those opening voices of ‘It’s My Horse’. Still, the granular ripping apart of the music brings it all back into the world of computer music. I secretly admit that I enjoyed this strange balancing act of granular and gothic; there is quite some raw power within this one that I found very compelling. (FdW)
––– Address:

MATTIN – LICKING EARS (CDR by Edition Erich Schmid)

Instead of trying to summarize, I better retype what it says on the cover. That is not out of laziness, but because Mattin’s concepts are quite complex and just not easy to summarize.
    “This concert was recorded live in the small back room of Studio 8, a bar in Wedding, Berlin as part of an experimental music series organized by Brian Eubanks. The room was completely dark. I entered the space and started to engage with each member of the audience individually asking questions quietly into their ear, and then I performed an even more intimate gesture as a way to literally play the audience as an instrument taking inspiration from Jimmy Hendrix. Finally I asked for reflection afterwards. The rest of the audience could only hear whispering and laughing without really knowing what was going on. As the concert went on, there were those who had already been approached and those who were waiting and wondering. After I performed my licks on all of the audience members who agreed to be licked, I left the dark room. Therefore no one saw my face during the whole concert. Furthermore no one had the chance of knowing what the other members of the audience really said. It is only through this recording that we could have a better idea of what happened.”
    The key sentence here is, I would say, is “the rest of the audience could only hear whispering and laughing without really known what was going on”. That can very much be said of us, outsiders of the event. We are equally in the dark as the audience present, but maybe more so. The distance between us, listeners to the action, and the witnesses of the action are distant and yet closer to those who were licked. It is good to know the story behind this, as otherwise, it would have made even less sense. I can imagine members of the audience who want to have experience (to keep the Hendrix connection going) again, but for the outsiders? You can always impress your party with ‘oh, here’s a weird music piece; let me tell you the story of a guy licking ears in the audience’. (FdW)
––– Address:

JOE COLLEY – TEAR (7″ lathe cut/CDR by Ballast)

Somewhere on this new Vertonen, something happens that I haven’t heard in quite some time on one of his releases. Noise! Blake Edwards, the man behind Vertonen, writes that this new release is “an audio tour/drag through a fictional processing facility: that which is being “processed” is up to the listener’s discretion/imagination.”  Maybe Edward gives away a bit too much then with his ‘water chamber’ subtitle? Maybe I would have thought of that because there are a wee bit of water sounds in there at some times. In recent years, Vertonen grew from strength to strength when it comes to putting on a fine set of atmospheric music. I think much of this (but not 100% sure) is based on field recordings and computer processing. Vertonen has quite a few tricks up his sleeve so that his music never sounds the same. This time around, he takes the idea of a trip quite literal. Keys unlock the doors of the facility we are entering, and from there on, we slowly enter the building (sounds building up), trip over some leaky pipes, and hear machines afar. At one point, machines are about to crush us, the noise section in the middle. However, the rest of the piece is again in relative tranquillity. At first, pure electronics, but field recordings become part of the proceedings again at a certain stage. Is that the sound of someone walking down the facility? Is part of the facility situated in the open air? When I heard this, I was thinking of those sorts of questions (of no relevance, of course). Alternatively, you could skip the whole ‘facility’ saga and enjoy this as an abstract piece of music, which works perfectly as well. The noise bit isn’t for me, to be honest, but the other thirty or so minutes (a relatively short release, this time), I dug a lot. As said, Vertonen goes from strength to strength when it comes to this kind of music.
    The other new Ballast is by Joe Colley. I didn’t hear from him for a while, but I recently received a new 7″ from him (VItal weekly 1296), and now this highly limited (26 copies) 7″ lathe cut and CDR. ‘Tear’ is about tearing up cloth. Side A opens with a voice saying something about a fabric, ripping cloth and some sort of cleansing spiritually. I didn’t quite get the idea about this religious practice, but so be it. The sound of tearing up cloth follow the spoken word intro. On the second side, Colley adds the voice of Noella Teele, who repeats words (anxiety, uncertainity) and the ripping of cloths. Words, phrases and ripping sounds are looped and chopped up, which adds a creepy texture to the whole thing. Both pieces are in mono and have a great lo-fi quality. The CDR contains an eight and half-minute action of ripping and tearing pieces of cloth, looped and drenched in quite some hiss. Maybe this action was captured on a cassette? For all I cared, this action could have been longer. There was a strangely soothing quality in the sound of destruction here. As with most of Colley’s releases, strange and compelling are the keywords.
    Needless to say, that this package comes in a box, like so many releases on Ballast (where the eye is equally important as the ear), with a piece of cloth; let’s say for your ripping action, just in case you have anxieties or uncertainties. (FdW)
––– Address:

PANOPTIQUE ELECTRICAL – DECADES (2021-2021) (CDR by Sound In Silence)

Jason Sweeney is since twenty years Panoptique Electrical, and in those years he produced eight albums and still has an archive full of unreleased bits and pieces. Over the years, his music found a way into galleries and theatres, and he worked with art companies. This compilation is a clean-up of his archives. There is a list of the pieces and explanations of where and when they were used, which you can read to guide Australia’s art world. I only glanced at it, saw Shakespeare, Pinter, as well as the words ‘betrayal’ and ‘pornography’, but I decided that I wouldn’t mind just sitting down and listening to the music. Thirty-one pieces, seventy minutes of music means the pieces are relatively short. I am not sure if that is a great idea for the sort of ambient music Panoptique Electrical is known for. The problem that I have with many ‘soundtrack’ albums (and this surely is one) is that the short pieces leave that unfulfilled desire for more. Some of these pieces are like a revolving door. You go in, you hear two loops and go out. But you think that would work wonders if it is a bigger frame, a larger composition, exploring its depths. There are lots of music pieces to enjoy here, still. Panoptique Electrical plays big spacious pieces of music, with lush pads on his synthesizers, the occasional lost in space piano, fed through some filters for a more lo-fi approach, and a sparse low-end bass rhythm. Almost any of these pieces could be stretched out into something bigger, so it’s sketches and pencil drawings here. The unfullfilled promise. Good one, but it could be a better one.
    Behind SineRider we find Berklee College of Music composer Devin Powers, who is from Norwood, Massachusetts. This is his second album for this label, but the first I hear from him. He has released on such imprints as Sun Sea Sky, Archives, Dronarivm and others. He works under many aliases (Senseed, Bleepy Bloopy, Hooting Everywhere and Reanu Keeves) in various styles. A variety is undoubtedly on offer on this release too. The album opens with ‘Ribbons’, a fine piece in the cosmic tradition. It is followed by ‘Emblem’, which is a more Eno/Budd like ambience. Maybe that is the overall tone of this album? The music can be seen as in the best tradition of Brian Eno applying studio technology to an instrument, and in this case, it is the piano. I am not sure if this piano is real or digital; I believe I don’t care that much. Through the forty-two minutes, the music remains quiet and intimate. A soundtrack for introspection, if you will. Sometimes just lengthy sustaining sounds (‘Emanant’) or broken up into small piano music (‘Loran’). The arpeggios of ‘Ribbons’ is not repeated similarly, as when it re-occurs, it is slower and more spacious. This album sits back and enjoys in a most relaxed manner; let the music transport you to another dimension. (FdW)
––– Address:

R.A.S. – SANDPAPIER UND MEERESRAUSCHEN (CDR & cassette by De Fabriek Records & Tapes)

Perhaps a lesser-known fact: De Fabriek Records & Tapes is not the platform to release only music from a music group named De Fabriek. Over the almost forty years, there have been releases as well, such as Mark Lane, Gen Ken Montgomery and the legendary first LP by Genocide Organ, now fetching top prices. This time they release music from a trio called R.A.S. The members are Simon Steiner, Ralf Seiden Faden and Alain Domagala. I had not heard of this group or its members before. The package is as in the olden days: not just a cassette/CDR in a box, but a plastic bag with a booklet, postcard and what they called ‘gimmicks’ back then. The booklet includes a piece in the German language by Simon Steiner explaining what the De Fabriek is and what this trio is about. As far as I can judge, this trio works along similar lines as De Fabriek, exchanging music back and forth with members around the world. Unlike De Fabriek, however, R.A.S. delivers different results. With De Fabriek, the music is structured around rhythms and soundscapes, sometimes in the form of a collage. With R.A.S. I have the impression it is all about the collage. There are many voices, speaking, singing, lifted from interviews, poetry and all such like, and latched on music that is a rather free flow of intimate guitar doodling, some bass, a few electronics, found sound, field recordings, a very occasional rhythm machine. Sometimes it all gets a lift-off, and it becomes a bit of a post-punk song. The whole thing has a Neue Welle feeling but is laced with a strong love for all things poetic. The cassette has thirty-seven songs, many of these short. The CDR has eight pieces and last half an hour. All of that makes the duration close to ninety minutes of music, which is a lot to take, especially with the tracks being brief but sometimes broken up into smaller segments. That adds to the fragmentation of the music, which is at times quite tiring and at other times quite fascinating. (FdW)
––– Address:

THELXINOE – INNER SUBSPACE (cassette by Avalanche)

Here we have the second release by the Avalanche label. It is a re-issue from a 2012 release, only available in the digital domain by DNA Production. Thelxinoe is a Russian duo of Alexey Zakharov (alt saxophone, baritone saxophone) and Peter L (guitar, bass, sound processing). For some unfounded reason, I expected something along the way of improvised music, but I couldn’t be further off the mark. This sixty-minute cassette has five lengthy pieces, of which the two parts of ‘Corona Borealis Void’ span the entire second side. This is drone music with the word drone in all capitals. The information mentions the influences of Maeror Tri and Troum, and that remark is spot on. Whatever the instrument’s input was, the effects used to guarantee that you no longer recognize them. There is one exception, and that is the saxophone in the first part of the second side. The music has a similar effect as Troum, via not constantly the most refined drones, penetration into your brain. The music has a hallucinating effect, if you want, which works best in a somewhat darkened room, with preferably some storm and thunder outside. You could argue that that Thelxinoe is a perfect Troum copy, but that additional saxophone shining in the one-piece also made a substantial difference, I’d say. That particular diversion is perhaps something they should explore and carve out some distance between them and the influencers. I am told this cassette is from 2012, and I don’t see many releases after that on Discogs, but let’s hope there will be some more in the future, walking a new path. (FdW)
––– Address:

KEVIN CORCORAN & JACOB FELIX HEULE – EROSION (cassette by Notice Recordings)

While I heard quite a bit of Jacob Felix Heule’s work over the recent years, I don’t think I heard of Kevin Corcoran before. Both are percussion players, and they have a shared love for the bass drum. That is the main instrument here, but the way they play it makes it almost impossible to recognize it. Upon the skin of the bass drum, they place objects and use the resonant qualities of the drums as an additional layer in the music. This doesn’t mean it is all heavily resonating, much the contrary, to be honest. The two live recordings from February 2020 and December 2019 are long (forty-five minutes each) and dwell heavily upon the electro-acoustic qualities of the objects. These are played, moved, hit, scratched, and anything possible in a very improvised manner. That doesn’t always translate into something very nervous and hectic; well, at times, such is the nature of the way these gentlemen approach their work, but there are many moments of quietness and introspection here. That makes it all the more interesting, I think. Between both performances, there are some interesting differences. In the 2020 version, their sound is more upfront and sustaining. It is as if they are using bows to play both objects and skins, and the result is a beautiful, somewhat harsher playing of their instruments, which only in the last ten minutes seems to slow and ease down. The 2019 performance opens with a lengthy section in which chaos rules, but with no return similarly once that is done. From here on, the music is small, quiet and reflective, with occasional more minor outbursts. The duality between both pieces worked wonders, I think. This cassette is a fine showcase of what these men can do. (FdW)
––– Address: