Number 1314

BIRGIT ULHER & PETR VRBA – SCHALLSCHATTEN (CD by Inexhaustible Editions) *
JACOB GREENBERG – BRIGHT CODES (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
THE LAW RAH COLLECTIVE – LIVE 2018 (double 3″inch by Inner Demons Records) *
10 GALLON HAT (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
+DOG+ – 4 (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
MODELBAU & POOL PERVERT – UMBAU 1-5 (CDR by Non-interrupt) *
MODELBAU & POOL PERVERT – UMBAU 6-8 (CDR by Non-interrupt) *
LEAAVES – ASLEEP FOR A YEAR (cassette by Superpolar Taips) *
FFION – LIGHTS THAT BURN TWICE AS BRIGHT (cassette by Superpolar Taips) *
JUZAGA – ONOMATOPOEIA (cassette by Econore) *
FS MASSAKER – MEGACUT (cassette by Econore) *
DUFFHUES – MURDER CALL (CD by Zwarte Vleugels)


Here we have two new releases by the Polish Sublime Retreat label, which is quickly becoming one of my favourite powerhouses for all things drone, ambient, lo-fi electronics. Ilia Belorukov I know primarily from his work on his Intonema label and his many works in the field of improvised music. The flute and saxophone are main instruments for him, but on this new solo CD, there he uses much more, not all something that means anything to me; “o-coast, modular synthesizer, Korg electribe a mkII, VCV rack, electric organ,electro-magnetic pick-up, vinyl samples, ppooll, fluetophone, alto saxophone, effect pedals, nord drum 2 and field recordings”. The latter is taped in a whole bunch of places, all listed. Belorukov has four pieces, and the entire CD is about thirty-four minutes. The music here makes this a great label for me, atmospheric, dark, drone-like, heavily processed sounds and throughout a most compelling piece of work; times four, of course. Throughout these pieces, Belorukov goes for quite a dense sound. The synthesizer creates a thick, vast carpet of sound, and on top of that we hear whatever he adds; lots of field recordings there, also extensively layered, geography disappearing here. Also, more individual electronics are placed on top of that. The best thing is to put up the volume quite a bit, as some details may be lost at a lower volume. Once it is a bit louder, the multi-coloured music shines best.
    Also four pieces can be found on the CD by Zenial, the music project of Lukasz Szaankiewicz. he is also no stranger to these pages. His work is more in the field of electronic music, coupled with a few field recordings. In ‘Orion+’, these field recordings are heard best, rain and fire sound embedded in slow-moving washes of synthesizer music. Throughout the music of Zenial connects more to the world of ambient music, the synthesizer variation. Say, Tangerine Dream without the bouncing arpeggio, or Brian Eno. Well, or tons of others in this field. Zenial likes the long and slow form of music, with slowly repeating tones, intertwining closely and drifting apart. Changes take place on an equally minimal level and seem to deal with mostly altering the colour of the sounds. This music doesn’t have that gritty darkness of all things lo-fi. There are no hissy and scratchy tapes or small synthesizers; Zenial deals in good quality music production. With its dense, cold and clouded days, the time of the year forms the perfect setting for this kind of music. Do nothing, stare outside your window and play this as the soundtrack for such a day. If it wasn’t as cold, I would dig out my CD walkman and take a sixty-six-minute walk, playing this music. Well, perhaps if I wasn’t as lazy either.  (FdW)
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A Polish improvising duo of percussion and saxophone, Owczarek and Wruk, delivers a live (?) performance (at least it was recorded in a live setting) of 5 improvised pieces. Sometimes you can hear the contact mics being put aside or a sound and feedback going astray.
    What you get to hear, though, is the soundtrack to a film, where neither the film nor the soundtrack actually exists. Sounds move around, deep throbbing suggests an urban landscape, breathing, white noise, screeching, steps. ‘Komentarz eufemistyczny’ is a ‘euphemistic commentary’, the cladding of bad and damaging news into harmless words, maybe making reality more palatable. Under this title, the brooding soundscape suddenly turns into a political statement, pointing at threats under the surface and sinister forces closing in on the fringes of our lives.
    This is a very held-back release. All the potential noise wall that could have been created with the material audibly at hand has been avoided. Instead, this is a slowly progressing, thoughtfully constructed sequence of pieces that summons a film in your head without giving directions or bearings. A dark and even tender but threatening landscape of sounds that leaves you wanting to see the sun again.  (RSW)
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For the first duo release, Birgit Ulher stays close to her primary instrument, the trumpet. She plays that, as per usual, in combination with a radio, speakers and a voice changer. Early February 2020, she recorded a duet with Petr Vbra, also on trumpet and electronics, during a two-day met in Hamburg. Both musicians have quite a reputation when it comes to playing improvised music. Well, maybe improvised music covers only partially what they do. The addition of electronics and objects makes this part of the rich traditions of electro-acoustic music. The trumpet in the hands of these musicians becomes an object to play with it, and sometimes, not always, this may result in a sound that one may recognize as the sound of the trumpet. And sometimes, one recognizes none of this. It then may sound like a voice, or a noise, if you will. And maybe t is noise, with the electronics, radio and voice changer doing their jobs. This happens in the opening minutes of ‘Reflexion’, the first piece here. Here the duo introduces their methods, all of them. The other sounds, the not to be recognized trumpet and the clear trumpet, all condensed in quite a compelling piece of music. The next five pieces explore this further but are now compartmentalized. First, there is a piece with just a few trumpet/vocalizations or sustaining trumpets with a few additional sounds, using the environment in which this was recorded (‘Dissipation’). That sits next to a more traditional piece of improvised music.
    Now, suppose the Ulher/Vbra release is the result of two days playing together and editing and mixing the results. In that case, the trio disco of Ulher (now trumpet, radio, speaker, objects) with Damon Smith (double bass) and Chris Cogburn (percussion, electronics) is the result of playing live and releasing it on record. The concert (no name of a venue is mentioned, so maybe it is a private live recording?) took place on Feb 17th, 2018, in Denton, TX, and this time it is more a straightforward work of improvised music. In the thirty-five minutes (although the cover says thirty-seven!), these three players explore their instruments, all three of them combining traditional and non-traditional techniques to extract sounds from their instruments. At the same time, I suppose there is the interaction between the three players, that much-needed chemistry that makes improvised music tick. The chemistry is great here. Throughout this piece, this trio creates excellent dynamics, combining the loud and the soft, exploring combinations, keeping them going for a while, and then moving back to something new, different and leaving space between them, so that at some point there is only one player, picking up a new thread. Everything is played with a steady pace, nothing too slow, nothing rushed. The objects and electronics were used to add a layer of alienation, adding to the multi-coloured variety of this release. (FdW)
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This one may be a bit of a fringe case to be discussed on Vital. A classically trained pianist who plays pieces composed by other people. Well. But what caught my eye was the harmonium work. So I gave it a listen.
    Greenberg is an experienced pianist, but also other keyboards. He teaches at a university, making his living, I guess but has an extensive catalogue of performing with orchestras, most USAmerican, but also from Israel and Australia, and solo, building a profile of modern composer renditions. One special aspect is his continuing collaboration with Soprano vocalist Tony Arnold. More about this later.
    He kicks this CD off with two compositions by Dai Fujikura. The first uses an Indian-type harmonium (with a hand- in place of a foot-pump). This is a long track, moving between layers of harmonium sound and more delicate passages, finally dissolving into single notes. It would have profited from deciding for more one or the other, exploring the sound more than the notes (as a composer would tend to do, as opposed to an improvising artist). As such, the piece moves from sound layer to intimate sounds too quickly and often. Still, it is a welcome new addition to the sound sphere. Bright Codes is a 4-movement piece by Fujikura that reminds of Poulenc and Bartok mixed with Reich. Sometimes it even resonates a bit of an Impressionist atmosphere. However, four short parts achieve its goal better than the first.
    Amy William is the composer of the five-word cycle ‘Fuenf Worte’ that sees the collaboration with Arnold on this release. Every part uses a single German word. Sounds very eclectic and intellectual – until you read the words … somebody knew what they were doing here. So the word ‘Fingerspitzengefuehl’ or even better ‘Verschlimmbessern’ get their classical music treatment. Probably for the first time ever. And, hey, the harmonium is back! it intricately illustrates and comments on the respective word, creating a comical backdrop. A really pleasant surprise after having dreaded another soprano vocals contemporary classical attack. Needless to say, the track ‘Kuddelmuddel’ really made my afternoon. The fourth piece, also by Williams, is modelled on the cinema film ‘Lola Rennt’ and uses very rhythmic deep piano notes (somewhat similar to what we hear from Hania Rani recently) very effectively contrasted with expressive piano set between Debussy and Keith Emerson.
    The composition by IONE again uses the harmonium, this time with a mostly dissonant backdrop to the composers own voice speaking her poetry. And finally, we find two pieces by Nathan Davies. The first on the piano (aha: we recognise the pattern) offers one of the more virtuoso pieces on the CD. It has some elements of string preparation but nothing that would obscure the musical intention and is well placed in the 10-minute musical journey. ‘Seedling’, finally, entices the harmonium to produce some ambient-like sounds that build – not in layers, as this is not overly sound-processed – but intensity, in stretches creating a drone-like feeling.
    Overall, an enjoyable release that for once adds some humour and smiles and new sounds to contemporary classical music. (RSW)
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With ‘Cranes’, we are in the company of a new collaboration of two German and one French musician: Matthias Müller (trombone), Eve Risser (piano) and Christian Marien (drums). A new trio, but these musicians know one other already from various other combinations: Müller and Marien perform together already some 15 years as a duo under the moniker of Superimpose. Also, they have a  trio called Astronomical Unit with Australian musician Clayton Thomas on bass. Müller played in different big ensembles led by Risser. Marien and Risser first met at Moers Music festival in 2015.  Their debut recording presents two lengthy improvisations titled ‘The inevitability of Truth and Mistake’ and ‘Illusion of Innocence’. Titles that suggest we are in the company of philosophers. Their movements and interactions are well-considered and well-chosen. What gives their music power, although it often continues delicately. Especially in the second improvisation, the pulse is an important element in their rhythmic play with intervals before moving in another direction with concentrated trombone-playing in the lead, producing an intense texture followed by a section of hammering piano. Listening to ‘The inevitability of Truth and Mistake’, the image of a marble run popped up in my mind to visualise the music, a beautiful 17-minute improvisation that continues on a constant dynamic level. Their interactions are very well proportioned and continue in a careful and self-secure way, resulting in a very sensitive and evocative improvisation. (DM)
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Carla Diratz is an artist of multi-ethnic roots from France. She is a singer and composer and made her first steps near the end of the 70s. She participated in many groups and projects operating mainly on a local level. Among them were collaborations with Serge Bringolf,  Claude Barthélémy and many others. Over the years, she worked within many different musical idioms and styles. It took some time before it came to a release of a collaboration with her involvement. First were excellent duo works with bassist Corentin Coupé and one with guitarist Pascal Vaucel with whom she released ‘pRéCiS.AiMaNt’ (2019). An album described as a ‘jazzy/avantgarde/rocky album’. Also she produced a duo-work – ‘Double Dreaming’- with Mark Stanley (The Muffins). She took part in the Eclectic Maybe Band 2 album ‘Reflection in a Moebius ring mirror’ (2019). This brought her in a project with several Belgian, French and American musicians of R.I.O. – related backgrounds and Martin Archer. I guess from this collaboration, plans for this new project originated. Diratz is supported by Martin Archer and several musicians from Discus Music circles for this album. With Nick Robinson (guitars) and Martin Archer (saxophones, keyboards, electronics) doing the central part, assisted by  Dave Sturt (bass guitar), Adam Fairclough (drums), Charlotte Keeffe (trumpet), Jan Todd (backing vocals) and Julie Archer (backing vocals). All songs and lyrics are written by Diratz and arranged by Archer and Robinson. The songs touch upon a diversity of styles reflecting the range of Diratz’. ‘Le sang et les larmes’is a chanson. ‘I am with you’ is more like a pop song. ’La digue’ is a very silenced piece of voice and just piano. ‘Dove mi hai lasciata’ is a melodic song. ‘Menhir er gémissements’ is an experimental work spaced with noisy elements. ‘Merry-go-round’ round’ starts with a long and highly improvised opening section with an impressive trumpet work Charlotte Keefe before it continues with a slow beat. In each song we have the characteristic throaty and lived voice of Diratz singing powerfully in French, Italian or English. An original voice! (DM)
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Behind the name Fusiller we find Jo, who runs the Tanzprocesz label. He is also one half of Opéra Mort, Femme and one third of Reine d’Angleterre. However, the latter may not be an ongoing concern anymore since the passing of Ghedalia Tazartes. Fusiller created his own electronic instruments and loves to edit his music until whatever is there is necessary. There is a funny little text on Bandcamp about this LP (or 12″? It spins at 45 rpm, but still is about 32 minutes), with imaginary quotes from French luminaries from the world of electronic music. The two Pierre’s, Paremgiani, Bayle and Ferrari, perhaps indicate that we should see the pieces in that tradition and not in the tradition of noise music. You could easily think that some of this music is in that tradition of noise music, but this is not your (standard?) noise wall type. For one, this is not something that deals only with heavy noise. It also works with very brief pieces of music. In the download, they are cut together as one track but listen to the record, and you’ll notice that each piece is a rounded thing by itself. Fusiller uses organ-like sounds, as drones as rapid arpeggio’s (none of the pieces have a title, so I can only say, ‘that bit on side 2’). Still, there are oscillating sounds and sine waves, and the record again goes into total noise territory, microphone and voice abuse. Why not an imaginary quote from Henry Chopin (not connected to GRM, but surely in his tradition). A noise track like this can be thirty seconds before it leaps back into the controlled chaos of modular electronics. It’s hard to say if the people at GRM might laugh at this, dismiss or applaud it. If I’m honest, I’d say, why would Fusiller care what they think? Or I, for that matter? Oh, right, they do care what I say, as I got the promo. I very much enjoyed this LP (12″?) for its brief character. Miniatures or etudes, whatever you wish to call these, Fusiller aims and shoots all the time, bull’s eye. (FdW)
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For a publication that writes about new and weird music to call something weird is stating the obvious, perhaps. Here is what I think is a weird record. We have five players; Emil Miszk (trumpet, natural trumpet), Milosz Pekala (vibraphone, Thai gongs, objects, sine wave generator), Jerzy Rogiewicz (bass drum, still life; I assume the cover of the record?), Jakub Sokolowski (piano) and Hubert Zemler (balafon). The record title is ‘Jagd’, the German word for a hunt; that is not weird. The music is very minimal. In fact, that is what I find very attractive about it. The record opens with ‘Cietrzew’, in which a Steve Reich-like minimal pattern is repeated on the vibraphone; well, even less changing than Reich. On top, there are other repeating sounds, maybe the balafon (“The balafon is a gourd-resonated xylophone, a type of struck idiophone”). The trumpet plays an occasional mournful tune. That sort of playing of the trumpet returns in the other four pieces. Those slightly sorrowful tunes give the record a very serious tone, certainly when the rhythm of these pieces goes down as well. Now the percussion is like wind chimes, rattling in a mild breeze. At times it reminded me of a lot of variations of the Last Post. The music is thoughtful and quiet. There is also quite some room for using the instruments as objects, such as in ‘Lisk’, which, for all I know, seems as if recorded, outside, in the forest. You could also think of the trumpet as a hunting call. The lengthy text inside certainly does that. Or, more likely, it makes fun of the hunting call, warning the animals that something is a-coming and they better hide. I wouldn’t have thought of all of which had the record not been called ‘Jagd’ or if I had read the accompanying text. Ultimately this is a record that leaves quite a few questions open, or maybe the context answers too many already? I am not sure about that. I did enjoy the solemnly played slow music a lot, while I may not fully understand the ideas behind this. It sounded fascinating, and that’s good enough for me. (FdW)
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Re-release of 2014 CDR.  The blurb details the sad demise of the dinosaurs in the Paleogene extinction event – an asteroid that accounted for the Chicxulub crater in the Gulf of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, which created an impact winter halting photosynthesis. Together with anti-human sentiments. The single track opens with a sci-fi drone, with some chirrups and animalistic noise, we assume dinosaurs and some spoken, shouted, screamed, whispered, incomprehensible to me, speech. The noises are more like computer chirrups and beep at times. The spacey drones soaked in reverb, screaming, and at 9 minutes more computer sounds, blips and gurgles, now though much louder, this is all a cliched soundscape to the degree of being kitsch to the hundredth degree. I suppose it could be enjoyed on that level. But such is the use of electronica. It has absolutely no resonance with organic life. The blurb seems concerned with its demise 60 million years before humans invented the analogue synthesizer. Minutes pass, and the spacey drone and synth noise continues. The dialogues long ceased. At eighteen minutes just the drone remains… with a single oscillator. Deep bass is throbbing a minute later and more synthesizer. Twenty-seven minutes and the slow, quiet landing of an intergalactic craft (if this is the sound picture), a Geiger counter, squeak, or heart monitor? And at thirty minutes, a loud mess of synthesizer for 3 minutes, more atmospheric rumble followed by another burst of synthesizer, space lasers and photon torpedoes, at 38 minutes a life support machine and still the “Spacey” drone. Maybe the Dinos that survived the cliched synthesizers attacks are now in an IC unit? This is the only sense I can make of this. Oh, there is a fade at the end and some more whispering. (jliat)
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We have eight tracks, 1 – ‘Hello There’, short vocal simply gives the date as May 3rd or 2nd then 4 minutes of various electronic garbled noises. This piece has some force to it and variations that give something of a dynamic, of which noise needs to generate some momentum. 2 – ‘Twoandthree’, aptly named as after some burbling static (18 seconds) we have a jazzy arpeggiated loop of ‘wind’ instrument and drums of over a minute,  the static is still present – persists after the ‘jazz’ stops then 15 seconds the white noise builds to include more static which in turn becomes modulated with more random abstract sounds – may be made by over-processing, looping etc. the first part, and strangely fairly quiet and buried in the white noise. Certainly, musical rhythms are present. 3 – ‘This is not OK’. Slow fade of industrial hum and wave sounds. 4 beeps, then snare beat, and bass riff, soon joined by a synth riff.  Again I’d say a Jazzy riff, with a light dusting of electro. 4 – ‘Can I get an Amen Break’. Same format, old abstract modem–ish loop and a drum loop. This even fades out! 5 – ‘Gotta go Fast’. Another drum bass loop and synth noise. Like the other tracks, quite a muddy sound, over in a minute and a half. 6 – ‘Noise 1’. So again, a guy speaks – ‘Hey this is not OK’ then 2 minutes of a very distorted song, maybe heavy drumming and vocals? 7  – ‘Nu to Metal Retrospective’. Looped riff and drum riffs all set in the murky white noise of 2 minutes. The drum riff stops 20 seconds before the end of this 2 minute piece. Finally, 8 – ‘Noise 2’, begins – sans vocal-like Noise 1 – but soon more murky static. I’ve described these eight tracks, and now I can think of nothing much more to say. The problem is in attempting to do something with noise, but by recording at low levels and using static and drum riffs, is this something that can offer a direction, and if it is attempting to, and in my opinion failing, as there is nowhere now to go, and so then it fails to recognise the end of the avant garde. (jliat)
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I know of Matt Atkins that he plays primarily improvised music, using percussion, objects, and electronics. How does that relate to the work of Chemiefaserwerk, also known as Christian Schiefner, whose work I associate with electronics, drones and lo-fi sounds? I don’t know. But after playing their work of sound exchange, I am still not too sure. Maybe Schiefner also uses some more acoustic approach here, or maybe some of his drones are embedded in the proceedings, even when we may not hear these all the time? I found it hard to say. The two pieces (total playing time: just under twenty minutes) are very much affairs from the world of improvisation. Atkins plays a lead role on his percussion tools, and Chemiefaserwerk delivers shimmering moods in the background. The latter certainly happens in the opening minutes of ‘Erster Klangaustausch’, but then Atkins seems to be taking over at one point. It must be the nature of his sounds that, at times, Chemiefaserwerk seems a bit lost here due to the vibrant character of the music of Atkins. That is a pity, I think. And apologizes if I mis-heard it all! It might very well be possible that Chemiefserwerk contributed other sounds, unheard by me! Altogether, I thought this work is a fine one, something that I think sounds on par with pretty much all the music I heard from Atkins over the years. Hectic, nervous, reflective and with that fine touch of electronics. In terms of a collaboration, I guess I may be a bit less surprised. (FdW)
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THE LAW RAH COLLECTIVE – LIVE 2018 (double 3″inch by Inner Demons Records)

I have a confession to make before I start. I’m not the biggest fan of live albums. They generally don’t sum up the live experience and come across as a bit of flat. However, some live albums elevate themselves and become their own thing. MXLX-‘burden [Live set 2020] and Knifedoutofexistence-‘Rehearsal Tape 1/11/21’ are glorious things that should be a fixture of every collection. They distil what makes those musicians such a force live and have moments that slap. On their new album, The Law Rah Collective are close to joining this elite club.
    The album is broken down into two tracks. ‘Den Haag, September 28th’ and ‘Den Bosch, September 15th’. Both are the exact length, 22:44, and capture the live experience well. After a subtle fade-in, ‘Den Haag, September 28th’ slowly builds tension and momentum until it becomes an all-consuming wall of noise. A lot is going on. Sometimes too much, but Martjin Pieck and Bauke van der Wal create some exquisite textures of sound that are hard to ignore. The downside is it isn’t very dynamic. One of the problems of ‘Den Haag, September 28th’ is that Pieck and Van der Wal get into a groove and they kind of stay there. Sometimes longer than necessary. The transitions are interesting but once completed, the music dawdles along before they realise and try and change things a bit. That said, the final third of ‘Den Haag, September 28th’ has some really nice textures that really finish the song on a high.
    Overall, ‘Live 2018’ is a good album. Well, that isn’t totally true. Overall ‘Live 2018’ isn’t a bad album. Plenty is going on that I like, but it’s too busy at times. Some of the fuzz and drones get in the way of each other, and it’s hard to focus on the bits you like. Maybe this is the point, but overall I don’t really get the point. Other than to make lovely noise for two 23-minute sets. As ‘Den Bosch, September 15th’ closes, I have enjoyed the ride, but know I’ll probably never play this album again. This is a shame as some nice tones are going on, and when it works, ‘Live 2018’ is pretty fun, but there isn’t anything here that jumps out to make me want to play it again. However, if The Law Rah Collective were able to tour again and come to my town, I would definitely see them live as I think it would be a good set. (NR)
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10 GALLON HAT (CDR by Love Earth Music)

Since live music hasn’t been a thing for the past few years, a glut of live albums has been released. Some are pristine copies of the studio songs that begs the question, why bother? Others are a bit rough around the edges. These have always interested me more than conventional live albums. One of these albums is by 10 Gallon Hat.
    Listening to the album reminds me of going to open mic nights at my old local pub when I lived at home. You never knew what you were going to get. Some weeks it was Coral covers. Others were twee singer-songwriter stuff, but occasionally you’d get some people on stage making a racket, and having a laugh, for 20 mins. When listening to ’10 Gallon Hat’, I’m reminded of this.   
    ‘Been There Man’ has some glorious country vibes, but the playing is more abstract and drone-like. As the song progresses, the intensity increases, and you are drawn into its world more and more. ‘Son of a Gun’ features some pretty guitar work buried under almost inaudible vocals, wind instruments, junk percussion and feedback. It’s great. ‘Shut In’ has massive Tom Waits vibes and benefits from them.
    There is something incredibly charming about ’10 Gallon Hat’. The music has a playfulness to it. The songs don’t take themselves seriously. They are filled with joyous, wonky melodies that makes Jon Wayne sound like Johnny Cash.
    Part of the charm to ’10 Gallon Hat’ is how badly it’s recorded. At times you can’t make out what is going on. It all had a wonderfully muddy quality to it. Peels of feedback intersperse tender melodies, and whimsical lyrics all come at you at once, making it a confusing and immediate listen. (NR)
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+DOG+ – 4 (CDR by Love Earth Music)

I haven’t drunk for over four years. I mostly drank on Friday and Saturday and a few pints at any midweek gigs I went to. I never drank at home and never cared for that actual taste of alcohol, only the effects. So there is no real story here other than I wanted a weekend of drinking and never went back. Of course, there are other factors at play, but mostly that’s what happened. Listening to ‘4’ I am reminded of being hungover. The feeling of being in a weird bubble, where some of my senses were muffled, and others were heightened. Lying on the sofa fighting back waves of nausea whilst watching junk TV until it was time to go to bed. It’s almost like +DOG+ were able to hear the sounds inside my head and body and translate them to music.
    At its core, ‘4’ is one continuous 60-minute piece of music that is broken up into five parts. The shortest is three and a half minutes with the longest is just shy of half an hour, but the track names and durations are slightly irrelevant as it is an almost uninterrupted body of work. ‘Thinkers’ starts with a bilious fug of noise. It is all-consuming. Just when you think something is going to break through the dense cloud of noise, it doesn’t. Instead, it keeps building. Growing larger and more impenetrable. ‘Helpers’ carries on this mantle. About halfway through, the noise gets more intense if a thing could be possible. Again, you expect the clouds to park, but no +DOG+ enshrouds it more. Finally, on ‘Planners’, things are taken down a notch. The clouds’ part and twitching loops appear. They are just as challenging as ‘Thinkers’ and ‘Helpers,’ but slightly less intense. The remainder of the album pivots from noise to drone. ‘Dreamers’ starts on an almost ambient vibe. The bilious fug is back, but the intensity has been toned down, but again I’m reminded of being hungover and yawning. You can hear what is going on in the room, but your ears feel surrounded by cottonwool. Nothing is defined, but you get a slight sense of depth perception. Some of the sounds are nearer, and others far away, but you have no idea what they actually are.
    Overall, ‘4’ is the most interesting album +DOG+ has released. It contains some really, horrible, crunching noise and some very ethereal drones. The album also tells a story, or maybe hints at one. ‘Thinkers’ and ‘Helpers’ are dynamic, as I think +DOG+ says that thinking and helping can take a lot of physical effort. ‘Planners’ and ‘Watchers’ are more restrained as you use energy planning and watching to actually thinking and helping. ‘Dreamers’ lives up to its name as it’s all very intangible. This is an album for people who like their noise loud but no consistent. There are some really nice compositional things going on. The transitions between the songs work well and aren’t as jarring as you’d first expect. (NR)
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This is a collaboration of Portuguese musicians who – I believe – are not so well known outside their country. Dullmea is a trained violinist and an electronic musician, walking the line between contemporary classics and electronic experiments. Pinto is a multi-instrumentalist who plays in a long list of bands and projects across contemporary classics, jazz, prog rock/metal and experimentation (I don’t think my brain would allow me to span this variety all at the same time :-((( ). But more imp[ortantly, he is Dullmea’s live engineer.
    Together they took three lines of poetry as sound material that means little to me (they show up as titles of three tracks on this release) but seem to have a particular sound to them in Portuguese. As you start listening to the CDr without this information, two pieces flit by in just over a minute each, first incurring the association of sine tones, then of an electronic ambient noise track. Upon which we find ourselves in track three, using the first text line ‘Ao Fundo Mais Fundo’, to a faint singing and increasingly layered humming. At which point you realise that the first track was also made up of treated human humming. Slightly Gregorian harmonies mix with distant voices and other, field-recording-like sounds, weaving in and out of the sound fabric. Track four turns an electronic click-track into a noise-fest with vocals running backwards, transposed up and down the scale, and sped up and down. A little bit too obvious, but as the track fades into the next harmony, and back into electronics, and to layered vocals, you begin to understand how this duo balances sound layering with dissonance, finally achieving perfect harmonies, all based on a few vocal samples treated.
    An astonishing and worthwhile release. (RSW)
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Two tracks, Video 1 & Video 2, can definitely be placed in the category of electronic noise. Various glitch sounds pops, squeaks. Video 1 ends in static, bass rumble and white noise. Video 2 is very different. Muffled slow bass pulse and fairly high pitch synth oscillator drone which crossfades. Slight variation as these slow pulses continue in the use of short bursts of static again often panned left or right and the variations of the bass. There is about 4 seconds across the pulsed loop, which gives a repetitive structure to the piece of 15 minutes (15 minutes as was #1). There are additional sounds, but the loop-pulse still dominates though becomes less ‘muffled’, probably changing to a VCF. Again the process of modulation is slow and maybe ‘progressive’. All of this renders the piece rather like listening to some cyber-organic beast snoring. This slow organic segue methodology doesn’t help any sense of violence and speed associated with some ‘classical’ noise, making listening more akin to some endless loop. I can see an argument for such a development in noise, neither becoming a static wall nor re-introducing musical themes, but its lack of any teleology or direction leaves it with an acoustic surface which, if not smooth, is sufficiently non-striated to render it more as noise ‘musac’ than noise music. (jliat)
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MODELBAU & POOL PERVERT – UMBAU 1-5 (CDR by Non-interrupt)
MODELBAU & POOL PERVERT – UMBAU 6-8 (CDR by Non-interrupt)

Frans de Waard releases music under the moniker Modelbau since 2012. ‘Umbau (1-5)’ is a collaboration with Pool Pervert (or rather Pool pervert, as is the preffered spelling), an alias of Egbert van der Vliet. He uses basic material created by Frans to build five new pieces, varying in length between 9 and 17 minutes; nearly 73 minutes of music in total. Slowly evolving soundscapes set the mood of each track, with no obvious rhythm, apart from polyrhythm like waveforms on, for example, in ‘Umbau 2’, and on some tracks sounds stemming from vocal sources. You could put this on as background music to read a book, possibly something written by J.G. Ballard, or you could listen attentively to the evolution of each track as some kind of sonic meditation. Either way, this release is an intriguing chapter in the sonic world of Modelbau and deserves a wide audience. Available on a CDR and as a download.
Available in the next couple of weeks is ‘Umbau 6-8’ (but already in my hands), a special limited release on CDR in a quantity of 24. Fifty-five minutes of music, three tracks with the same basic material provided by Frans de Waard and again cut up and manipulated by Pool pervert. The music on here has the same origin but is treated differently, more in long-form than on ‘Umbau 1-5’. Scintillating ostinati, subtle overtones, insectlike noises: it all fits in these ever-changing sonic landscapes. An idea would be to hear both releases simultaneously in a large room. Fans of alienating and dystopian soundscapes should definitely pick up this release while supplies last. (DSM)
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LEAAVES – ASLEEP FOR A YEAR (cassette by Superpolar Taips)
FFION – LIGHTS THAT BURN TWICE AS BRIGHT (cassette by Superpolar Taips)

Cassette number twenty-five already in the Superpolar cassette series is by Leaaves. He’s from New York, where he is “a specialist in German language and a PhD student by day and by night he runs the Spare No Expanse cassette label and plays the disembodied guitar. I have no idea what that is, but the title piece opens with a slightly detuned guitar and a lot of reverb to suggest space and atmosphere, I guess. Maybe you could think of this as some kind of blues music, but of a seldom heard variation. In ‘Another Bright Notion’, the reverb effects are also present and a more dominating effect of playing everything in reverse, which adds quite an alienating effect to the music. I think both pieces are alright, not exceptional, and if I had to pick a favourite, it would have been the more alienating B-side, which is now destined to disappear in no-mans land, seeing this cassette is limited to 10 copies.
    From Yorkshire, England, we have Thomas Ragsdale. Sometimes he uses his real name and works as Sulk Rooms and Ffion. He does a lot of music for TV, advertising and film and runs the cassette label Soundtracking The Void. Just as with Leaaves, I had not heard of him before. His two pieces found their inspiration in West Yorkshire’s cloud formations and skylines. The music is electronic and indeed has that massive, moving, cloud-like atmosphere. The sounds are hazy and vague, like various shades of one colour mixed. All of these sounds slowly intertwine, drift apart and connect again. This kind of electronic music has that cosmic drift, and I enjoyed both these pieces a lot, with no preference for one or the other. I wish both were much longer than the allotted two and half minutes they now are. They sound like outtakes rather than fully formed compositions. (FdW)
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JUZAGA – ONOMATOPOEIA (cassette by Econore)
FS MASSAKER – MEGACUT (cassette by Econore)

Juzaga is a The Hague based duo of Arvind Ganga on guitar and Philipp Ernsting on drums. The latter is to this writer best known for his drum work with Albatre and Ritual Habitual, both bands stemming from the Rotterdam free improvisation scene. Arvind Ganga’s work has been reviewed several times before in Vital Weekly (11521021948 & 895). This release is their debut cassette and digital download on Econore, a label based in Mönchengladbach. Onomatopoeia is the word used in comics to vocally imitate fighting sounds. Track titles are Bang, Boom (twice), Poof, Zap and Wham. Incidentally:  there’s a supervillain called Onomatopeia, an enemy of Batman. The music in these tracks is elaborate sonic improvisations over kinetic drum work with hints of ragas and stoner rock, all delivered with a punch! Excellent release. Suggestion: PLAY IT LOUD!
    FS Massaker is a trio of  Michael Masen (saxophone), Werner Thenmayer (drums) and Moritz Morast (guitar, electronics) (and KMT on synth and voice in one track) based in Vienna and Megacut is their fourth release and their first release after a change of members. Also, this is their first release on Econore. This trio erects a gigantic wall of sound filled with wailing sax, heavy riffing guitar, pounding drums, electronics and – new for the band- vocals on a few tracks. The wall has enough cracks and holes to please the inner ear. This energetic music keeps you awake and makes you want to jump into that moshpit, albeit a virtual one for now. A few tracks, not many, are more contemplative, followed by a track propelled by a sluggish riff ironically called disco lesson and a remix at that. This music is unforgiving jazzcore to the max. I like it. (DSM)
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Someone who feels love for the transition between water and land – that must be Julius Menard, judging by titles like ‘Sable Island’ and ‘Wreck Diving’. His two compositions on the Maintenance cassette sound exactly like that: wavy, mighty and all-encompassing. Slow and harmonious, just like you can imagine a protected island or diving into an ancient wreck – in the fairytale version. It could be a little less zen in real life, but hey, we are working here with imagination, a better world and a higher consciousness, right. The guitarist, who lives in Germany, mainly releases his work on cassette, usually on the Grisaille label, which is not entirely coincidentally his own company. The Munster-based tape label deals in experimental electronic music by mostly solo artists, with a simple and beautiful black and white design that can be recognized from miles away. Recognizable and designed with love, for enthusiasts. On ‘Maintenance’, it’s only about two tracks of about ten minutes each, but it’s worth it. Blissfully sliding on guitar waves is very easy here, even if there is always a very, very small unsettling edge under the skin. (AvS)
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DUFFHUES – MURDER CALL (CD by Zwarte Vleugels)

A while ago, we had this end-corner of Vital Weekly reserved for ‘what the hell this is, we don’t know, but it ain’t music for Vital Weekly’. Maybe it helped slow down receiving music that is not our thing. Duffhues is a Dutch guitarist, singer-songwriter (as his website says: “DUFFHUES is a filmmaker, songwriter, musician, author, artist, creating: songs, instrumental music, video art, experimental cinema and stories. In his art, beauty can be found is on the dark and gloomy side of existence and reverberating under the skin”). ‘Murder Calls’ is his ninth album. The album is recorded in mono, because it’s “louder, more direct, more inclusive, reminding of music from the old days, to which Duffhues feels connected”. As far as I know, this is a bit blues-like, a bit folk, and Duffhues’ voice didn’t appeal to me at all. I am sure there is a bigger audience for this to for many of the other releases in this issue of Vital Weekly, and that’s why I think there are many other publications better equipped of handling this music than us. Why did he think it’s a good idea to mail a copy here? What’s our reputation when it comes to murder ballads, blues and folk? (FdW)
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