Number 1313

PETR BAKLA – Usableness Of The List / Portfolio (CD by Octopus Press) *
TOTAL E.T. – SUKINATAL (CDR by 1tracktape) *
BUSELM ACCOMPLICE (CDR compilation by Burselm Crypt Recordings)
ORASIQUE – IXTLAHUACA (cassette by Eh?) *
DOC WÖR MIRRAN – MISCHEN IMPOSSIBLE (double cassette by Masking Tapes) *
STENORETTE – [INV01] (cassete, private) *
YPSMAEL – BOX OF BLOCK (cassette by Eh?) *
SALMONI – SALMONI (cassette by esc.rec) *
KLIMPEREI – HANDPICKED (cassette by esc.rec) *
RRILL BELL – FALSE FLAG RAPTURE (cassette by Elevator Bath) *
ICE YACHT – COLOUR BUFFER (cassette by Snatch Tapes) *
SIMON WHETHAM – CLOSED SYSTEM (cassette by Sounds Against Humanity)


Over the years, I reviewed various releases by Vitor Joaquim, and the last time was in Vital Weekly 1261. ‘Quietude’ is the result of a residency at the Casa do paco in Vila Mea, “a space that inspired Augustina Bessa-Luis in several literary fictions and around which part of the family told in the book ‘A Sibila'”, all of which I have never heard of. Joaquim uses field recordings from the place, voice, piano, keyboards, granular synth, electronics, hiss, humming, crackling, trumpet sampling and re-composition. Joao Silva plays the trumpet. In two pieces,  this trumpet playing is a very dominant feature. I must admit that these two pieces didn’t do much for me. It has that jazzy, smokey nightclub atmosphere that some people connect with the world of film noir (man with hats, incessantly smoking cigarettes). The trumpet adds an atmosphere, I am sure of that, but it also is a break with the atmosphere of the rest of the music. In the other pieces, Joaquim creates delicate musical structures from rainy and grainy field recordings mixed with similar granulated recordings of musical instruments. He uses quite a bit of reverb to suggest moody atmospheres, but it is all close together. That also happens in the two pieces with the trumpet in the background, but now the trumpet breaks with that carefully worked up the atmosphere. There are just various levels of moodiness, I guess. The piano in ‘O Tanque’ is a faint distant relative of the largely forgotten LP by A Tent, ‘Six Empty Places’. That record had some wonderful wind instruments, piano’s and field recordings, but back then sounded more coherent. At least, then the two Joaquim pieces here, and more in line with the other five. Throughout, there is an excellent balance between ‘instruments’ and ‘treatments’. Sometimes the blurring between them is on such a level that I had no idea what is what; sometimes, it drifts apart, and it is clear what is what. Overall an excellent work once again. (FdW)
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PETR BAKLA – Usableness Of The List / Portfolio (CD by Octopus Press)

You might think that Petr Bakla himself touches the keys on his new album, but no, he is the composer, and Miroslav Beinhauer performs it. They both hail from the Czech Republic, but they also live in contemporary music and work very hard within that idiom. They are not afraid of major challenges: Usableness Of The List takes twenty minutes, and Portfolio nearly fifty minutes. And that is precision work – even if the two compositions seem like a mix of minimal, ambient and improvisation at first glance, nothing could be further from the truth. The first piece is cleverly thought out, graceful and sparkling, the second an apparently simple riff performed by a child’s hand. However, it is nice that the straight-line ascending tones sometimes disappear in an oh so carefully played almost nothing. It’s funny that something like this is called Portfolio, while with such a portfolio, it might be better not to make a job application. It is all very relaxed and calming and shaped with gusto by Miroslav Beinhauer. (AVS)
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It should be clear that there is a need for recordings like this because cultures, such as the pygmies have, are quickly disappearing. So it’s good that there are people like Roberto Monari, passionate researchers who live together for a while with a tribe that still lives traditionally and record it for their enjoyment but, of course, also for history. The polyphonic singing of the pygmies of Central Africa was even declared a protected cultural heritage in 2008, indicating how special it is, or how endangered it is, or a combination of both. Pygmies learn special singing techniques from early childhood, and they sing every day everywhere to imagine how familiar they are with it. Their singing is completely different from that of the surrounding people. For example, there is often a form of yodelling, and they have an alternation of head and chest voice, which results in a very personal sound. Handclaps support the vocals, but other percussions or wind instruments are also used, or water in a pond is played by hand. The topics cover everyday matters such as forest spirits, hunting, harvesting, lullabies for children, anger, sex, divination, or are just for fun. And fun, there is plenty of it in the 47 tracks in total – the cheerfulness of being together is clearly to be heard. And now and then, the sound engineer just lets the overwhelming jungle wall of sound around the pygmies do its thing. (AVS)
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We have four new records from the small Swedish Konvoj label run by saxophonist Ola Paulson from Malmö. As a performer, he participates in the Ensemble Allena-album, which is, in fact, a solo project by Paulson. With ‘Ärosol’ he presents his second statement. He debuted in 2015 with ‘Tankar På Nattgammal Is’. I learned from the liner notes that he takes inspiration from Swedish scientist and mystic Swedenborg, who learned that a person’s inner life is an ensemble of many voices. In times of Covid, this was the only ‘company’ Paulson could arrange, and as the title of the album, ‘Ärosol’ suggests, these conditions influenced his project. The album entails five works with Paulson playing alto- tenor- and baritone saxophone, Eb horn with a saxophone mouthpiece, metal clarinet, piano, electronics, sampler & processing. In the opening track  ‘Longing for an Alan’ several wind instruments play a melodic construction with environmental and other obscure, percussive sounds in the background. In some parts spoken word is part of the work. It is taken from an old-sounding recording of somebody giving a lecture. My best guess: I think it is the voice of writer Alan Watts. The second part of the work evolves into a section about texture and sound, a very penetrating piece of music. The second piece –  “We grope for them, with strangled breath” – works again with a pre-recorded voice of some source telling a story. It is combined with a percussively played piano. This disappears abruptly into silence to re-emerge again from silence with abstract sounds in the beginning before the hammering piano starts again. All compositions are sparse and disciplined in character, with a well-chosen and defined sound built mainly from acoustic sources. The compositions may have started as improvisations but make the impression of well-arranged constructions with surprising and unusual twists and turns in their development. Paulson produced a very beautiful and original album that surprised me by far the most from these four new impressive albums.
    The two other new releases are duo recordings by Martin Küchen offering improvised duets with Anders Lindsjö and one with Mattias Risberg. Both Küchen and Lindsjö have been radical improvisers from the Swedish scene for decades.
    Saxophonist Küchen regularly plays abroad with his ensemble Angles 9 and other collaborations. Lindsjö has operated in the Swedish scene since the end of the 90s after years of playing in New York. In 2018 they released their first duo-recording ‘The Stork & The Chimp’ on Konvoj. Derek Bailey obviously inspires the style of Lindsjö. Küchen concentrates on small gestures and patterns with much attention to sound and timbre. He creates an unescapable direct sound, sometimes reminding of crying and screaming animals of some sort. Most of all this is a satisfying recording because of the strong communication and interplay that is practised by these two veterans, like in the intimate closing improvisation ‘XI’.
    Equally, the duo effort of Küchen and Mattias Risberg (prepared and unprepared grand piano) is an intriguing duo-work. Pianist Risberg is of a younger generation with roots in jazz, known for his tribute album to Carla Bley in collaboration with Fredrik Ljungkvist in 2016. As a composer composers from Gesualdo to Stravinsky inspired him. Besides he keeps an eye on rock music (Zappa, etc.) and loves vintage electronic instruments. Küchen now plays in a more exuberant style, whereas Risberg playfully introduces melodic and rhythmic motives that give a certain lightness to their music. Sometimes in a jazzy or even bluesy style, like in ‘Dag 5433’. In other improvisations, sing other idioms…
    We end this overview with Tombola Rubola. An extraordinary trio of Ola Rubin (trombone), Anders Uddeskog (drums) and Anders Lindsjö (percussion). Ola Rubin is a very active force in the Swedish scene and produced, for example, an impressive duo work with guitarist Henrik Olsson in 2019. With Anders Uddeskog (drums) he formed the trio Swedish Fix with American Jon Lipscomb on guitar. Again with Uddeskog he has another trio now with Anders Lindsjö on percussion. I suppose this is the same musician as Anders Lindsjö, the guitarist. The three excel in some very dynamic improvisations. Their lively interplay is full of details, dominated by the richly textured percussive movements as one can expect from a lineup like this one. With his creative manoeuvres and technical skills, Rubin can influence the course of their interplay. A very exciting meeting! With these four releases, Konvoj proves again to be a high-quality label for improvised and experimental music. (DM)
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Basically Thierry Müller’s solo project, Ilitch has been around since the early 1970s. It all started when photographer and graphic artist Müller started making recordings using prepared guitars, harmonium and tape recorders. In the mid-1970s, Müller’s brother Patrick and Ruth Ellyeri joined Ilitch for live performances and the recordings of their first album, the electronic prog classic Periodikmindtrouble, in 1978. Two years later, now with synthesizist Philippe Doray and saxophonist Patrick Dubot (both from Associaux Associés), they released 10 Suicides, a more experiment-based album (and my personal favourite). Putting Ilitch on hold after the 10 Suicides album, in favour of working on a new project called Ruth and his graphic work, Müller returned to the experimental/avant-garde music scene in the early 2000s. Earlier this year, Müller released the Ilitch album I Love You, But You Have Chosen Darkness in a handmade box in an edition of 25 copies. Unfortunately, I missed out on that one. Luckily, there are more copies of the new album White Light. As it happens, we are lucky to have this new album – as with all Ilitch albums, their concept spring from important moments in Müller’s personal life. White Light is a concept album based on several health-related issues that led Müller to reflect on the passing of time and disturbing feelings about memory and neurological disorders. Despite this, White Light does not feel as a depressing album. If anything, much as the title suggests, there is a certain lightness to the songs, definitely of a reflective nature, but lightness all the same. Aided on the album by avant-garde legend Jac Berrocal on trumpet, who also composed the song Neuron’s Dance, Milena Drither-Lerru on cello, Quentin Rollet on saxophone and Aaron Moore on percussion and harp, the album has been on constant rotation for the past few days here at Chez Kink. The sparse instrumentation, at times hinting at melodies, reflects Müller’s state of mind. There is a mesmerizing interplay between the electronics and Drither-Lerru’s cello on tracks like You Soothing Voice and Cyclothymie. An almost hesitant rhythm colours Stop Fighting In My Brain! (featuring Rollet on saxophone). The solo mellotron piece Spleen Variation. The conversation on the beautiful ambient White Light. La Danse Des Neurones with Berrocal’s abstract trumpet playing set to a sparse backing. And so much more, making White Light an interesting, impressive, introspective and enjoyable album. The album has two editions; both come on transparent blue vinyl and feature various inserts, but the limited one comes signed and features a bonus download track. The ‘return’ of Ilitch, to me anyway, is a very welcome one! (FK)
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TOTAL E.T. – SUKINATAL (CDR by 1tracktape)

For a label that calls itself 1tracktape, it is a bit curious, perhaps, to release a CDR with two tracks. Or, maybe, I understood the name wrong, and all music is recorded to 1 track, as in mono? The cover says “time 41’04”, indicating the length of the first track and the second track, so I gather from the liner notes (which one could also read as a short press release) says that the second is a “reworked by Dimitris Tsironis (melophobia), inspired by the original). Behind Total E.T. is I.v. Martinez, who sometimes work as “experiMENTALien (collective identity for his projects Total E.T., mutantT.R.I., T.R.I.v.)”, which is confusing, by a sci-fi book by Heiner Rank inspired long piece, ‘Sukinatal’. I believe I had not yet had the pleasure to hear music by Total E.T. before, and I don’t know much about how this music was made. “Sukinatal is the name of strange alien entity that is very fascinating, so this recording is kinda sonic portrait of her. The recording was created out of field recordings, samples from different sources and there is also voice of I.v.’s little nephew in the mix”. Judging by the result, I’d say Total E.T. works with laptop technology to create this music. The computer has various functions; it manipulates the sound, layers them, and mixes the results. The result is a long collage of small parts, blending in an acceptable form. I sometimes wonder where the laptop artists went; here’s one holding on to the original ideas of deep bass sound, scratches, glitches, sounds being processed until we no longer recognize their provenance. Voices sometimes occur, but just as easily, many more can be heard but not recognized. Call it sci-fi music? Sure, why not? One might read into the music that transmissions of alien life reach planet earth. Is there much difference between the original and the rework? That I found not easy to say. The original moves through quite a bit of space (pun intended). Maybe the rework inhabits less space and leaps occasionally to a glitchy rhythm, another subsection of the laptop glitch music from twenty years ago. It could have been by the same composer, recycling his sound material once more for all I know. I am not sure what it says about the rework, a copycat staying too close to the original or someone who has the finer ideas of Martinez under control, but the long release (eighty minutes) is all worthwhile. A lovely trip on a Friday afternoon on grey earth. (FdW)
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This is the second release by Garrett Cameron that has come to my attention. It follows ‘Blanketed, Frost 1-3’ (see Vital Weekly 1286), and just like that one, this too is packed in a triangle-shaped cover. Although the word vibraphone is not mentioned, Cameron still plays that instrument. On his Bandcamp, we find a slightly more cryptic remark for this release, “inspired by and utilizing Soma’s Ether to capture the hidden electromagnetic imprint of various loci around southern New Hampshire, intersected with continual recycling, processing-pushing, and curious sonic delicacies.” It is a pity that this is a short album, clocking in at twenty-three minutes. I would not have minded some more tracks, or perhaps that some of these pieces would be longer. Some last a mere minute, and that is short. Cameron’s music is very atmospheric and could easily be called ambient music. It is not just about him playing the vibraphone, but there is also some very mild processing on. In the opening piece, ’42​.​81504, -72​.​0239′, the processing is a bit of reverse delay and not much else, but it gives the piece a delicate atmospherical layer. Delicate is the operative word for all ten pieces here. The vibraphone is sparsely played, just to create small tonal clouds in the sky, and whatever processing takes place, this too is very delicate. Maybe there are also field recordings in use here, such as in ‘RI5’, which like the six other pieces called ‘RI’ have an outdoor feeling. Maybe that is the “various loci’ mentioned? Or perhaps the four other ones, with geographical coordinates? Curious! I don’t have the answer. All of this is music you can choose to ignore as much as you can choose it to immerse and enjoy fully. As with his previous album, this is a great one. Dark yet playful music for short winter days. (FdW)
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As far as names go, Eamon the Destroyer is up there. It’s to the point but slightly vague. It’s also a fitting name as that’s what Eamon the Destroyer’s music sounds like at times. On ‘A Small Blue Car’, the music is filled with tiny maelstroms. Each one works against the other, creating these layers of organised confusion. Over this, Eamon the Destroyer’s vocals sit squarely. At first, it’s more disorienting than enjoyable, but as the album goes on, you get used to its ramshackle charm, and by the end, you are totally wrapped up in its wonky charm.
    The standout track is ‘Avalanche’. It sounds as you might imagine. There is a rarely ended deluge of cacophonous drones, catchy melodies, suffocating vocals, and a feeling of malice that makes it an absolute joy. What really makes ‘Avalanche’ work well is how immediate it is. The pain in Eamon the Destroyer’s vocals cut your right to your core. You feel the emotion and know it’s real. Then everything goes quiet momentary. After, an explosion of sound comes out of the speakers and, along with it, another killer melody. It truly is breathtaking stuff.
    There are moments when Eamon the Destroyer sounds like David Thomas, from Pere Ubu, but more DIY. The vocal grunts are as expressive as the crooning vocals, but this is where the similarity ends. While Thomas, and Ubu, are still a force to be reckoned with. Recently releasing some of the best music of their career, but next to ‘A Small Blue Car’, it sounds like pristine pop. Eamon the Destroyer really pushes himself and the listener. And we are grateful for it. (NR)
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BUSELM ACCOMPLICE (CDR compilation by Burselm Crypt Recordings)

Something is disorienting about listening to ‘Buselm Accomplice’. At no point do you every know what is going on. The opening track by Posset sounds like a mixture of field recordings, recordings made by a phone and static. It isn’t the most dynamic song on the album, but it is a fitting start. The standout track is ‘Slug Town Doctor Made Me Beautiful’. Dai Koelacanth delivers something akin to tuning a radio dial. Lingering on the something that sounds good, then moving on when you bore of the sounds. As ‘Slug Town Doctor Made Me Beautiful’ everything gets more and more incoherent. Are those backward vocals? Not sure. Is that traditional Hawaiian music? Maybe. Is that the sound of a fox horn in the background or some bop jazz trumpet? Maybe both? Is the static getting louder, or is it me? It’s probably me.
    What is impressive is how totally compelled I am by it. It slowly pulls you into its warped world. “I wanna do hard time. Like Jeffrey Archer did. Like a real man” welcomes us to Lovely Honkey’s, AKA Luke Poot, offering ‘i) Willy Banjo ii) Shelving For No Reason’. This feels like one of the most hilarious and honest introductions to a song. After that bombshell, ‘i) Willy Banjo ii) Shelving For No Reason’ is a mixture of abstract noises and manipulated vocal samples. At one point, it sounds like pigs are eating a microphone while it records them. Suppose you are the kind of person who needs to hear that this is very much for you. If not, maybe skip for the last track. The funniest bit is when someone pretending to be Dave Mustaine calls up Lars Ulrich asking, no pleading, to re-join Metallica. As someone who thinks a lot about Some Kind of Monster I find this a totally joyous listen. Andrew M Jarvis closes the album with more of the same, except here, there feels to be more musicality. Of course, no music is actually played, but Jarvis’ creates devastating melodies, and rhythms, by layering samples. It is a great way to end a complexing album.
    Throughout ‘Buselm Accomplice’, there are nods to Cassetteboy, in the use of cut and paste samples and the sheer comedy of some of the tracks. The downside to this is that you never actually get comfortable listening to the album as it’s constantly changing. Even then, the album is great, which is it frequently. It’s far too soon before it’s chopped about. This isn’t an album that I will play very often, but it’s an album that I am very glad I listened to. It is filled with clever ideas and inventive compositions. Each of the musicians involved has delivered something that elevates itself from their previous output but fits in with their back catalogues. (NR)
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Pedro Chambel’s solo work has been reviewed here at Vital Weekly – 1213 / 520 – This is his latest effort, number five in twenty years. No guitar this time since he has taken up the alto sax. And my guess is due to being able to use a different sound source. There are four pieces, all over ten minutes long. The basic principle here is a continuous drone in one form or another with one or more combinations of small motives, trills, growling and breathing: in one track, a sine wave at a relatively high pitch – avoid listening to this track at a high volume on headphones at all costs – and underneath that, sounds made by his voice and pressing down the keys on his alto; in another glitchy microtonal manipulation in different frequencies of his playing alto, combined with longer runs, sometimes echoed with similar runs, as if three saxes are playing at different volumes. All in all, this is an interesting release, with each track a distinctly different sound design to keep your attention, apart from that annoyingly high sinewave for the duration of almost eleven minutes. But maybe that was the point. (MDS)
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ORASIQUE – IXTLAHUACA (cassette by Eh?)

What happens if you put four accomplished improvisers from around the world in a nice sounding room and let them record some music? This release is a possible outcome of that. Orasique is a free improvisation quartet. Misha Marks emigrated from New Zealand to Mexico and played the latarra on this release, a metal first aid kit transformed into a stringed instrument. The Italian of the group is Marco Albert, residing in Mexico for the time being. The drums and percussion instruments are courtesy of Fernando Barrios, hailing from El Salvador.
    Last but not least, there is Don Malfon from Catalonia on alto sax. The music here is short and sweet. No long-form improvised pieces, but almost songlike easy to digest music. Which doesn’t mean boring, mind you, Marco Albert sounds at times as the voice of La Linea – the infamous Italian animated shorts from the early seventies -, sometimes on acid and sometimes as a long drone, as a Tibetan monk would chant without words. Misha Marks uses various techniques to get sounds out of his latarra. The same with Don Malfon. His alto squeaks and holds long notes. Fernando Barrios’ thoughtful drumming accompanies all this. All musicians listen to each other attentively and leave enough space for each other to shape the music because it is music that is played, not noise for the sake of noise. The mixing and mastering were done by Marco Albert, who did a great job at that. A lot of details can be heard upon repeated listening. Interesting titles as well, all in Spanish. I am curious about what this group will release in the future. If you were ever afraid to enter the world of improvised music, this release would ease the dive into that extraordinary world. (MDS)
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DOC WÖR MIRRAN – MISCHEN IMPOSSIBLE (double cassette by Masking Tapes)

The joke of the title might be lost if German is not your tongue, but ‘mischen’ means ‘mixing’ and if you know this cassette contains “remixed and unreleased tracks from the ‘Progressive Punk’ sessions, recorded and mixed at Two Car Garage Studios 2016-2021”, then maybe it makes more sense. Expect here the Doc Wör Mirran big band, with (almost) permanent members and some guests (although it is not said who’s who; Mirran trainspotters will know) Stefan Schweiger, Michael Wurzer, Ralf Lexis, Adrian Gormley, Joseph B. Raimond, .rizla23., Alex Kammerer, Frans de Waard, Leon Abendroth, Sascha Stadlmeier, Reinhard Bauer and Fraulein Niemand. The tapes, in total 120 minutes of music, has more great titles, ‘Obscured By Krauts’, ‘Mörtel Machine Music’, or ‘Checked & Balanced’, sitting next to serious titles, such as ‘Black Lives Do Matter’ and “Make Racism Wrong Again’. Take the whole progressive punk thing with a pinch of salt. Sure, some of this is rock-like, but none progressive or truly rock. Doc Wör Mirran is a more of a krautrock band, as I experienced when I saw them in action at the studio that indeed could contain two cars. The krautrock version of this band has many faces, industrial, ambient, or rock-like, and these two hours are from the last incarnation. There are many guitars, bass and drums on these twenty-two tracks, from quiet, reflective pieces to wild rocking tunes; the latter perhaps a bit more than the first. Some of this comes close to the world of real rock music, but there is always that Doc Wör Mirran twist. Things never seem too ordinary. The jazzy saxophone from Gormley, for instance, is such a rock disruption, but also some more noisy or ambient outings, of which I have no clue who is responsible for those, create at times the experimental and abstract twist in these pieces. Or just downright rocky; that too is possible. Great one! (FdW)
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STENORETTE – [INV01] (cassete, private)

The duo of two Ben’s; Ben Worth and Ben Dyson, both hailing originally from the UK and meeting in their new hometown of Toronto, Canada. Here they work with “various tapes, vinyl, found sound, and heavily processed  guitar”. All their work is recordd live to cassette and (at least, so I assume) the best bits are released; or perhaps combined into works. Their Bandcamp shows eleven releases, nine of which were released on cassette. They love to present their works in a series. There is one of six with colours and ‘[INV 01]’ is part of a series of three, with, obviously matching artwork. I only go the first but as I enjoy the music, I will no doubt, come time and space, will download the others as well. Their digital content is for free. I enjoyed the music quite a lot. The heavily processed guitars no longer sound like guitars, I think, but appear to be droning, grey clouds of sounds. Maybe the odd bent could remind you of a guitar, but there is also much room for electronics (especially delay and reverb, but no doubt they employ all sorts of stomp boxes), and field recordings. For the latter I would think they use a lot found voice material. And I really have no idea where they found it. At times I think they are taped in big spaces, churches and railway stations. Throughout the music is dark and atmospheric, with the occasional additional hiss (where’s the dolby?) deliberatly left in. That too is something I liked about this. Sure, Stenorette has many peers doing similar moody, heavily processed guitar ambient, and it stands in a long tradition, but there is some genuine passion in their playing, plus they surely a great chemistry in playing together, crafting some high quality music. (FdW)
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YPSMAEL – BOX OF BLOCK (cassette by Eh?)

When Ypsmael started in the late 00s, the intention was to play only live concerts, but eventually, CDR releases. These contained recordings made at home and in concert. I have no idea who the members are. Early 2014 the Werkstatt für Improvisierte Musik invited the group for a two-day presentation of the Box Of Black, “originally a performance conduit for an unlit room”. Just as the information doesn’t mention the names of the members, When I first played this cassette, I had no idea what I was hearing; a guitar, some wind instruments, electronics? . The Bandcamp page for this release lists this; “no-input feedback, voice, sipsi, slide whistle, amplified objects and claves fed into pedals for effects, live loops and textural layering.” While all of this may sound very much from the world of improvisation, one track more than the other. Hence, it seems, the overall impression I had was that it sounds so different from the traditional areas of improvised music. There is much to be enjoyed for everyone who likes drones, noise and electronics and who stay away from everything connected to improvised music. The rusty electronics, bending backwards and forward, rattling percussion, broken toys and ditto contact microphones make up for the psychedelic affair. This music is rainbow coloured, just like many sound effects they are using. Sometimes they work with amplifying objects, and in fine John Cage tradition, the feedback becomes an integral aspect of the music, which adds great urgency to the music. And then, suddenly, in ‘Rhombus’, a saxophone appears, out of this abstract mass of sound, forming a moment of (un-) rest in what is otherwise quite a hectic set of sound material; it slips back into wacky droneism right after that. Not the most accessible music, but I found all of this excellent. (FdW)
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SALMONI – SALMONI (cassette by esc.rec)
KLIMPEREI – HANDPICKED (cassette by esc.rec)

Twittering bird calls. Walden. Pond. Nature beckoning. Leaves of grass. Someone approaching, and a sudden strum on an acoustic guitar. Slowly from nature and nature, carefully listening and sweet improvisation between the six-string and harmonium: emergence. One cannot particularly pinpoint exactly what appears from these disparate elements. Normally I might say: fragments, but that’s not wholly apt in this case, I reckon. So what do we have here, within earshot, or just about? These aren’t exactly songs. Then again, what this duo made up of Filippo Gillono and Zevi Bordovach arrive at is, indeed, as they themselves write: ‘instinctal’ and ‘ancestral’. These are sounds that immediately wrap around the listener, bring cosy and warm feelings and a sense of homeliness and belonging. A flowing of musical flickers, like sunlight cascading off the ripples of water on a pond’s surface, moved by a slight breeze. Nothing jarring, but deary connected to times gone by, as it Salmoni is the styles by which we are playing so to speak the year rings of a felled tree and there with the squirrel climbing up, the rustling of the wind, snapping of a branch and the moss covering the roots: field recordings kept intimate, localized, up-close and personal, also in the conceptual sense as there is a very tactile closeness to these aural explorations, a nearness that sometimes causes the ‘lens’ to lose focus in the most dreamlike of positive perspective ways.
    Moody atmospheres aplenty on Handpicked featuring a selection of works by Christophe Petchanatz, picked by esc.rec’s ‘label boss’ Harco Rutgers. Apparently, this could have stretched to two or three albums. Which goes to show how productive Petchanatz is and also how deep his vault must be when so much material could be deemed release worthy. Proceedings kick off in an off-kilter jazz-noirish mood, akin to a naive Twin Peaks, before the town lost all innocence. And the tune is almost the longest on the tape, for most of these tunes are shortish vignettes and experimental snapshots of beguiling fragility. There’s a toy piano plinking in a pas-de-deux with softly crackling noises. And: brooding bass and skittering ‘look-over-your-shoulder’ dread. Plus an ode to Klaus Dinger in spectacularly not Neu!-motorikishness. Klimperei, gotta love that German word, is out of this world. It’s odd, experimental, avant-garde, out-there, slightly deranged and outsiderish. But on this tape we are a tremendous focus underlying all the playfulness. There’s no goofing around below these darker ambiances. This is a maestro at work, building narratives of profound poetical prowess as he ushers the listener deeper still into his fairytale-gone-a-bit-off world of wonky wonders. A stellar collection opening new vistas and windows of opportunity and perspectives with each consecutive listen… Come to think of it: how would this be with simultaneous listening: three, four, five tape machine in an installation playing Handpicked at the same time… Now, thát would be quite the amazing multi-channel sound art installation! (SSK)
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RRILL BELL – FALSE FLAG RAPTURE (cassette by Elevator Bath)

So far, I heard three releases by Rrill Bell, the musical project of Jim Campbell (Vital Weekly 11941280, and 1295), and I liked them all. The cassette is central in his work, which captures sounds and plays them, sometimes in a four-track machine. On his cassettes, he captures sounds from instruments (listed are metallophones, winds, strings, and brass), but also spoken word; in this case, his Slovak grandmother sang in dialect about half a century ago. Of the album, the label says that it is “working through a family legacy of religious hallucinations/visions, the album (in spite of its tongue-in-cheek title) unironically explores themes of potentially staged transcendence, ecstasy of suspicious origins, vulnerability, inspired/anxious states of mind, fractured identity, doubt, rupture, redemption by proxy, and the dilemma of being forced to adopt a perspective in a contingent universe.” One might not easily grasp such a thing from listening to the music; especially, the A-side contains more music than singing or spoken word. The randomness of the music, which is something Rrill Bell is known for, is again strongly represented here. Campbell staples together sound as if they were bricks and finds a dialogue in the process of mixing. He is pretty good at it. The music is always quite free, with sounds drifting about, like free improvisations on the instruments mentioned, but strangely enough organized somehow. The other side, part of the title piece, contains the singing and some explanation by the grandmother, which has a more private, intimate character. The instruments are now more reflective. These pieces have a more drone-like character, with harmonium sounds, slow strumming of stringed instruments, and the occasional chiming sound. I am unsure if this is intentional, but the music crosses from a slightly lighter and vibrant first side to a darker and moodier second side. Like a veil is put over the music, obscuring what goes on outside. The fourth release by Rrill Bell is another beauty! (FdW)
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ICE YACHT – COLOUR BUFFER (cassette by Snatch Tapes)

Philip Sanderson has various musical guises, each with its mark. His latest cassette under his Christian name was quite an interesting take on pop music. As Ice Yacht, he has something more experimental and abstract cooking. The music here is all instrumental and electronic. To that end, he uses the following gear “Moog DFAM, MFB Nanozwerg, Shortwave Radio, Field Recordings, Phuturetone Philthy”. Is it gear? Or maybe computer stuff? Those with knowledge, I am sure, will either know or will look it up. I would think that whatever field recordings and shortwave radio went into this, there is now very little evidence of it. Unlike some of his previous Ice Yacht music, which was moody and dark, this music deals with electronic sounds chopped into small blocks, loops and sequences. Maybe, so I thought, such is at times the nature of working with modular electronics? The six pieces here have a “modern electronics” character, even when Sanderson’s music is more primitive in that respect. The sounds bounce around, neatly organized, while on top of that, there is chaos walking. Well, relatively chaotic it is at times. Sanderson takes his time playing his pieces, in one or two instances maybe a minute or two too long, but I enjoyed it all the same. Sanderson meanders about in his compositions. As such, the cassette is the suitable medium for such doodling, even when this particular release is limited to twenty copies and most likely sold out already. The digital version lasts forever! (Well, ideally). For those who think Sanderson’s own music is too poppy and the Storm Bugs too scratchy, this is (perhaps!) the perfect middle ground. Experimental, abstract and yet also high accessible. (FdW)
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SIMON WHETHAM – CLOSED SYSTEM (cassette by Sounds Against Humanity)

Many of the works by Simon Whetham deal with field recordings captured in different (and maybe difficult) circumstances. “A liquid cooling system was removed from a discarded computer tower found in the street in Marseille, France and investigated for its sonic potential as a live performance instrument”, he writes. He uses software to activate the pumps from time to time, amplifying the system with contact microphones and “small cardioid capsules”. Ableton Live, at the end, is used to control the process via automated levels. Thus, the whole thing becomes a closed system, and hence this is on cassette, also a closed system. There are two fourteen minutes sections of this piece, and I am not sure if these are extracts from a larger part, maybe an installation that has been running for a few days/weeks, and if so, why only thirty minutes? I found the music captured here quite fascinating. It has a leaky nuclear reactor sort of quality. In itself not something to like, but I tend to hear this sort of music in terms of a soundtrack. What if Whetham did some sound design for Chernobyl (the series, not the dreadful movie that also exists)? I can see that easily be an option had the series not already been made. The motors humming, the water running inside pipes, so there is some distance, the changes in the speed, it all adds to the mystery of the sounds. I lack the visual aspect here, and I don’t mind. There are tons of images that spring to mind here, so I am more than happy with ‘just’ the music. (FdW)
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