Number 1318

JARL – PHONOPHOBIA (CD by Zoharum) *
UNMADE – RITUAL IN UNLIGHT (CD by Rural Isolation Project) *
EXAN – CENTIC PRIMER (CD by Errorgrid Records) *
LIZ ALLBEE – RILLE (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
KARM – KRAM (CD by Ma Records) *
9 BEET STRETCH 2.0 META TONES (USB by Telekinett) *
AURAL ANNEX (CD compilation by Telekinett) *
CONURE – EXTENDED STORY (NOT WHAT IT SEEMS) (CD by Recorded Psychic Readings) *
VERTONEN: 2022 WALL CALENDAR (12 3”CDR by Ballast) *
MODELBAU – BIENENKORB (cassette by Vacancy Records) *


This I said before: more and more music arrives from the world of improvising musicians, (free-) jazz and modern classical music, and the day I read “Vital Weekly, leading jazz publication”, I know it’s time to stop. Thank God for labels as Zoharum, restoring the balance, and bringing music that I feel is at the core interest of Vital Weekly, ambient, drone, and noise. Erik Jarl is no stranger to these pages and by now has an impressive catalogue of releases (I see had a similar rant about improvisation, the last time I wrote about his music; Vital Weekly 1305). Jarl is someone who knows how to provide the perfect soundtrack to a dreary day in January. For some the most depressing month of the year. I see things differently. I like January. The fresh start of a year, yet unspoiled, we can do it better than last year. December is the most depressing one, the year was rotten (again!), and we have to celebrate Christmas. I called Jarl’s music ‘dystopian’ before, and it still is. There is no shortage in reverb, smeared thickly over the modular electronics, locked in together to make wonderful minimal music. Jarl’s music here isn’t as dark and droney as before, as he now moves around in the mid-end of the sound spectrum and sometimes moves towards a shriller high-end. No longer the sounding of a spaceship heading home through infinite space, but the final death breath of a nuclear powerplant. It sighs and breaths while machines are whirring, also waiting for the end. The third and final part starts to reboot, and machine city starts to take over. Brutalist electronics of a most refined kind.
    Let’s stay in Sweden with a relatively short release by Moljebka Pvlse. It’s just under twenty-one minutes long, which is odd for a Zoharum release, and the package is bigger than usual (also another new thing for this label). So far, I knew Moljebka Pvlse as the musical project of Mathias Josefson, but he’s here with the credit for ‘field recordings and drones’. In contrast, Isabel Fogelkou plays ‘ocean drums, ocean harp and singing bowls’. Throughout this piece, everything melts together into one long, glacial drone. Everything sings, but I guess I think because of the singing bowls. I have no idea how one plays ocean drums and harps, but I assume by rubbing fingers along surfaces or with a violin bow, and there is this fine majestic feeling arising from all of this. Think Organum is his early days, but already moving away from the harsher music of his earliest days. Why is this CD twenty minutes and forty-two seconds? I have no idea, but I’d like to know! I have the feeling this could have been twice the length and still be enjoyable. I read on Bandcamp there is also to be an LP, with two more parts, which sounds like good news. Why not all on one CD? I dare not ask.
    I don’t think I heard of C.H. District before. This is the musical project of Miroslaw Matyasik. There are releases on Differentiate Precision, M-Tronic, and Mizanthrophy Label, from 2001 onwards.  The recording here is from the XIX Wroclaw Industrial Festival, which, in 2020, was an online affair. The piece is presented in two versions – one from the “Gothic Room” and one from home. I might be wrong, but I think the first one has a bit more reverb, maybe from capturing this with microphones in a space. I might be wrong. or I may not understand this: “An interesting addition is a recording recorded during one of the streams, which was broadcast from a home studio, based on the same framework, but as a result of improvisation running in a slightly different direction”.
    I opened both pieces in an audio editor, and I can confirm, these are different pieces, constructed with the same elements. C.H. District’s music is one with a foundation in rhythm and electronics. Forceful rhythms at times, dark and sad. This, I would not classify as dance music. These beats are crude, industrial and metallic. The beats feed into machines, altering colour, speed, intensity, shape and whatever else, and then start to play along with the rest of the rhythms. This is minimal, yet beneath the surface, things are constantly shifting, crawling like ants or bees in a hive. The music offered here is a fine soundtrack for those early January chores; accounting, taking the Christmas tree, head nodding all the time. Crude fun!
    And finally, a re-issue, from the long line of re-issues of the extensive catalogue of Vidna Obmana. By the mid-90s, I lost track of Vidna Obmana releases. That was not out of disinterest, but our little corner of the world, the record shop and mailorder I worked, didn’t stock releases from the US label Projekt. I think. Whatever Vidna Obmana released in those days, it went by us if it wasn’t on a label we worked it. I heard some of his other releases, so the music on ‘The River Of Appearance’ is nothing I heard before, but it fills a void in what I know. By this time, Vidna Obmana worked with people such as Steve Roach and picked up a few tips and tricks to further explore the ambient music he fully emerged in.
    Along with the usual electronics and loops, there are now also “five rainsticks in different tunings, shells, clay pot, click sticks, maracas, water bottles, Bolivian & bamboo flutes, ocarina and harmonica”. One could say that Vidna Obmana reached the heartland of ambient music in this period. Whatever he learned from others and experimenting with technology is fully blooming by this time, and he will do so for some time. The lengthy sustaining electronics and loops are embedded in a more prosperous sound world. The ‘exotic’ (can we say that?) instruments are used as sparsely as effective here. The great use of reverb is something of its time, but it does the required job. The music becomes very atmospheric, with sparse sounds being played, which linger on and die out in the space created by the reverb. The combination of rainmakers with the winter rain outside works wonderfully well. Atmospheric music, dark and ominous, very recognizable Vidna Obmana – of course, I can say that with the knowledge of whatever came after this. Vidna Obmana reached a peak here and explored this further in the years to come. I am sure there are a few more re-issues to be expected. (FdW)
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Bo Meson is a poet and musician who released three albums for Discus Music in the last six years. All of them had the collaboration of Martin Archer, which also counts for this new release. This time Meson uses poetic writings inspired by Dylan Thomas’ writings. Cwmdonkin Drive is the street in Swansea, Wales, where poet and writer Dylan Thomas grew up. He became famous inside and outside of the UK during his short lifetime. Meson attempts “to recast his work in the spirit of the life he could never endure using cabaret and a woozy waltz”. The texts declaimed by Meson are embedded in mainly electronic textures. Andy McAuley did most of the work composing these textures in collaboration with Saichairi McAuley. Martin Pyne assists on drums and vibraphone,  Martin Archer on organ and filters. They contribute in three extended works: ‘Influential tidal flow’, ‘Celebration decelerated’ and ‘The waves lament his death’. They are providing moods and atmospheres that parallel with the texts. The instrumental textures do have not enough to offer to satisfy on their own. Their role is a functional one. Nothing wrong with that. But by consequence, this release may speak more to you when you are acquainted with the life and work of Thomas. (DM)
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UNMADE – RITUAL IN UNLIGHT (CD by Rural Isolation Project)

Behind Unmade we find Justin Fritsche and Rachel Knab. ‘Ritual In Unlight’ is their debut release, and it is described as “an unsettling slab of ambient synth and pedal fog”. That sums it up pretty well. There is no other information on the cover other than the seven track titles. The ambient synth here is a dark one, sticking keys down at the lower end of the keyboard, creating dark and foggy sounds. If one effect has to be singled out because it is used most frequently, I would say it is the delay pedals, next to dashes of reverb. These synthesizer sounds are big and dark and form the central portion of each of the seven pieces here. But that’s not it; there is more to complete each song. There are additional elements. In ‘Fetid Waves’ and ‘Arrested Conscience’, for instance, that is a percussive element, looped and delayed. In ‘Cruising Into The Ether, I would think it is some sort of slowed down music recordings and cosmic waves, both creating spacious dark matter. Despite all the darkness found in these pieces, I believe there is also an element of cosmic music, how crumbled and decayed the music sounds at times. That element of roughness is what I enjoyed in particular about this music. This reminded me of the trend in recent years to play mood music from a more lo-fi point of view, and Unmade fits that trend perfectly. I am not sure what kind of synthesizers they have, nor what kind of pedals, but I suspect it is all compact, easy and above all, most effective to play this kind of music. One can call this ambient or drone, but it comes with the noisy, roughed edge that I find pretty exciting these days. Unmade is the slightly cruder version in this musical scene. Let’s hope for some more by Unmade soon. (FdW)
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Two ‘noise’ releases from a label with an extensive discography from two ‘projects’ which are also fairly prolific. Circuit Wound’s – Jay Howard – release consists of three tracks, ‘Symbiotic Cannibalism II’, ‘Beyond My Own Means And Capabilities’, and ‘A Prolonged Sense Of Normalcy’, which from listening, these names, to me at least seem fairly meaningless. (I will spare the avid reader an existential discussion regarding, meaning, nihilism and the absurd, though these are obviously significant- or may insignificant in certain harsh noise works. And these are three harsh noise works. Though assigning meaning, arbitrary meaning, to things seems a (at times disastrous) human trait, for instance, ‘Symbiotic Cannibalism II’, given the ‘II’  so implies a precursor- so absurdist, nihilist existentialists beware, careless words can be meaningful!) All three tracks share a basic and consistent sound-noise texture of harsh noise rumbles, static, high pitched shards, oscillations, pulses, and beats et al. I suspect all processed electronics through the usual noise paraphernalia of chosen guitar distortion pedals. These appear many-layered, with 4 or 5 recognizable differing sources, whether using different devices in real-time or multitracked impossible to say. This gives an overall bricolage effect of noises going nowhere. The first track is of fourteen minutes feels slightly harsher than the second of 10 minutes, though maybe this is down to my getting used to the textures. The third, ‘A Prolonged Sense Of Normalcy’, falls pray, or is, to illustrate its title, being ‘Prolonged’, at 32 minutes, and could be considered ‘normal’ within the parameters of the other two tracks, through repetitive themselves. A feedback tone is prominent, though ‘bricolage’ would still work, apart from the 12-minute mark where the texture thins complete to bursts of the noise textures, but only for two or so minutes before the textures close in on themselves. This poses a problem for me as an ‘overall’ noise work, being monolithic has a difficult aesthetic in its uniformity. This has been well exploited in minimalist works. The human psyche likes variation, so monolithic works present a challenge in which audiences either sink into some overpowering catatonic state or simply leave. I’ve argued elsewhere that the more ‘improvisational’ uses of the noise aesthetic offers an alternative, and this two minute departure hints at, but only hints at, this possibility.
    Scathing’s (Kenny Brieger) ‘A Capital Beneath The Waves’ is far more problematic. Six tracks beginning with ‘Ensnared’, a pulse that soon degenerates into a rumble, again a conglomeration of noise textures with the occasional stutter until 5 minutes. The rumble disappears and reappears seconds later. All fairly uniform until sixteen minutes, where the sound collapses into what appears like some kind of percussion with occasional electric noise, after which it regains a texture, with some beats, though more percussive and sparse. ‘Split Second Flesh’ shares a commonality of bricolage with the former, more percussive, still with the occasional stutter, which slows the pace, though there is little feeling of ‘movement’, the percussive texture becoming, if anything, more uniform, insufficient to overwhelm, consistent, not to interest. ‘Fossil Filth’ begins with a looped? Noise motif, which again segues into the general textures of the previous, and in doing so has, for me, the same problem despite the noise and harsh attributes lacking in attack. With ‘Black Hare’ the problems become deeper, as this begins with the all too typical drone, moan… with after about a minute occasional bursts of percussion?, static. I guess live this is percussion improvised over the drone chords, ‘nice’ chords. These bursts are occurring at around every minute. The drone ends at about eight minutes, and the percussive noise takes over, and by nine minutes, we have the bricolage of before. A drone reappears at 12 minutes, rises in volume at 13 minutes and looping. ‘Bleating Lamb’ follows a similar pattern, but deep breathing, rumbles, groans, and more percussive vocals processed? I didn’t mention the reverb is more pronounced; the atmospherics of dystopian pictures present themselves in this cliché of sound. At five minutes in a reverb silence, some scraping like rusty machinery… a plucked instrument? And then a final burst of the noise texture. In the final track, ‘I Hope The Weather Gets Worse’, we return to the original overall monolithic texture, which might even include rain recording distorted. There is a pronounced stutter at 3′ 41” and more electronics, later on, even sine wave feedback, and an ending oddity. I really think both releases lack a sense of direction and fail to engage, the Scathing more so. Maybe then aptly described, after all, by the banality of the track titles? (Jliat)
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EXAN – CENTIC PRIMER (CD by Errorgrid Records)

Behind Exan we find Alex Leonard, whom we previously encountered as Ebauche (Vital Weekly 1180) and Dronal (Vital Weekly 1197). As the first moniker, he made five albums, with the second only one. As Exan he creates radically different music that warrants the use of a new name. Drones played an essential role in his old work, but now it is all about rhythm. The music is dark, ominous, and at times melodic. Each of the sixteen pieces has a firm rhythmic foundation. Not being a DJ, and only mildly interested in the world of dance music, I have not much idea if and where Exan’s music fits into the grander scheme of things.
    Somehow I don’t think this music is made to find its way to the dance floor. The straightforward 4/4 beats are not high on Exab’s agenda. All of this is way too abstract for that. Exan may slip in a bit of melodic content, but there are plenty of abstract sounds, whirring and buzzing electronics. Granular bending and other sorts of interferences are running wild here. You hear that Exan puts quite some time and effort into the music, stripping away, extracting and adding new sounds, but that also means that it becomes too abstract while at the same time it also tries to be entertaining. A problematic pairing, I think. I immensely enjoyed this album, but I think it is also too long at sixty-six minutes. For me, there is a saturation point here, ‘Grereo’, the twelfth piece. I thought, oke, so I get the idea behind this, you made a more than an excellent point, and the rest could be repetition. But after that, there are still some excellent tracks. I would think a selection would have made the overall album stronger. (FdW)
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LIZ ALLBEE – RILLE (CD by Relative Pitch Records)

In my fictional book of who’s who again, I had Liz Allbee from Berlin, down as an improvising musician, playing the trumpet. I have come across her work a few times. With such groups as The Elks (Vital Weekly 1105), La Flange Du Mal (Vital Weekly 1036), and Bogdan Ghost (Vital Weekly 930) but I never heard any of her solo work. I quickly checked before relegating it to one of our more experienced improvisation music reviewers. But right from the first track, ‘To The Moon’, I was pretty surprised by the musical content here. Is this something I would classify as improvised music? I don’t think so. By and large, this is a song. There is a repeating synthetic thumb, sine waves, slow percussive samples, Allbee’s voice, halfway singing and speaking. In ‘Rille Estate’, she recites a text set against field recordings mixing with electronics. The trumpet first acts up in ‘Walls & Windows’, the third track, but then it becomes the most dominant instrument of that short song. It is dreamy and pastoral, almost like ‘The Last Post’. The cover lists “electronics, trumpet, quadrophonic trumpet, voice, field recordings, homemade acoustic instruments” as her work material. Most pleasant stuff here, so I believe improvisation may have been used as a starting point, but in the result sounds like something else. Not pop music, far from it, but most undoubtedly dreamy compositions. Elements of improvisation now re-arranged, re-modelled into a ‘proper’ arrangement. These compositions can be longer than you would expect, going up to nine minutes in ‘Teutonic Foundations’, a very minimalist piece of rhythmic sounds, sine waves, slowly building into an ear-piercing end. As I was playing this release, I was, perhaps oddly, reminded of the later work of Kate Bush. Allbee’s voice is different, of course, but the way she embedded her voice in a more abstract composition, is something that Bush also did around ‘Aerial’. There are seven pieces here, forty-one minutes long, and this is the release that surprised me most in this first week of the new year. We don’t do such a thing, but ‘album of the week’ for sure, for me! s (FdW)
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KARM – KRAM (CD by Ma Records)

Music from Torsten Papenheim, a Berlin-based improviser on the acoustic guitar, has been reviewed before in these pages (Vital Weekly 1199 and 1277, for instance). I am less sure I heard of Michal Wróblewski (alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet) before. He is from Prague. They choose to work under Karm, Estonian for ‘strict’. This collaboration is recent; they started in the summer of 2020, and ‘Kram’ (which Google translates from German into English as ‘junk’, but I would think ‘stuff’ or ‘things’ is also covering it) their debut album. At thirty-four minutes, a short album, but these men like to keep things to the point. They recorded the six pieces in a single day in June 2021 display a great sense of improvising. These are delicate pieces of music, in which both instruments sound as they could be, but at the same time, there is also more happening to them here. Papenheim mainly uses objects upon the strings to create a whole world of different sounds, but also in the techniques used by Wróblewski, there is a keen sense of making it all a bit different. The music is direct but not too much in your face; there remains some distance between ‘us’ and ‘them’, I think. There is an abstraction, there is a delicacy, and there is civilization here. These men are not out there to make life difficult for the listener but rather want to entertain them with improvised music that you may know and like, or perhaps open up a whole new world for the novice. In that sense, this is a fine album to get acquainted with the world of improvised music. It is recognizable, it is weird, and there is a good dialogue going on here between both players. What more could one possibly want? I don’t know. (FdW)
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9 BEET STRETCH 2.0 META TONES (USB by Telekinett)
AURAL ANNEX (CD compilation by Telekinett)

We have a bundle of releases by the recently relaunched label Telekinett, run by Mauricio Reyes. He’s someone who has been around for some time, working with various people, such as Adi Newton, Andrew McKenzie and Z’EV, but somehow, somewhere, there never were a lot of releases. Now it is time to change that. The first one is an off-shoot of the project that we discuss later on, ‘9 Beet Stretch’. Reyes’ contribution there deals with the essays of Octavio Paz. To fund ‘9 Beet Stretch’, Reyes extended his work into a standalone piece and invited Adi Newton (of Clock DVA fame) to remix the music, using the same elements. One part is Paz’ wife reciting one of his poem’s ‘The Fog’ and various recited by the man himself. As much as I would love to say Paz is a brilliant writer, I can’t as I never read anything by him, nor do I know anything about him. Reyes says, “His work focuses on the loss of identity, of love for one’s self, and for the relentless quest to belong somewhere, to be heard, loved, and cared for”, so I’ll take his word for it. It is interesting to play both pieces in one row. That means two hours and fifteen minutes of electronic, interspersed with some Spanish texts (which in no way stand in the course of the music; if you don’t understand a word of it, such as I didn’t, it becomes an integral part of the music), and that both composers have a similar approach when it comes to working with electronic sounds. With Newton, one could think that beats play a role, but none is the case here. On the other hand, Granular synthesis plays an essential part for both composers. They both have a somewhat ambient approach to their music, but at the same time, you could say that their music is not just ambient music. One can make an easier connection with serious, modern electronic music, like the kind you find on Empreintes Digitales. I think Reyes and Newton have a more playful approach to such notions as ‘composition’. There is more a subconscious free flow of sounds here, strung together, seemingly random. That doesn’t mean that both pieces are just variations of the same thing. Newton uses a bit of synthesized sound that is a reminder of his dance music side and has longer passages that are quite ambient. Reyes seems to be on a more ambient streak throughout and, perhaps (I am not sure), working entirely with digital processing techniques. Two works that overlap and have differences, complementing each other and quite fascinating music.
    Like I know nothing about Octavio Paz, I similarly have very little knowledge of Sigmund Freud or the whole of psychology and psychiatry. This is not a recent work – Z’EV died in late 2017. In 2006, Z’EV and Reyes worked together, using “a collection of interviews about mental disorders especially Synesthesia and Topographic Theory. It covers different aspects of Psychoanalysis and therapeutic techniques that deal in part with the unconscious mind, which together form a treatment method for mental disorders”. Freud himself can be heard in the first minute of this work. Having just heard seventy-five minutes of Reyes’ music, this piece comes as no surprise in terms of sound processing. Z’EV may primarily play metal percussion, but electronic music was always his work. Voices are a vital sound source here, even when they are not recognized most of the time. Maybe they resemble voices you hear in your head? Or underwater? Part of this deals with subjects exposed to the effects of LSD, so there is also that psychedelic aspect to be taken into account.  The music functions partly as an electronic soundscape (most of the time) and as a documentary, when spoken word comes in, to explain something, such as LSD. Sometimes the music sounds like crashing metallics, heavily processed, and like some far away screaming. Of course, I know what this is about, which enhanced for me the feeling of a horror soundtrack. At times I was looking around, thinking, ‘is that the music or is there something in my room’ – and I was (sadly, perhaps) without any intoxicating material, just a cup of tea. The result holds the middle ground between a radio documentary and electro-acoustic composition. Again (!), the voices are not in the way of the music but form an integral part of the music, and on second hearing, the actual content may no longer be of interest (well, not to me). Still, it becomes another instrument – an excellent release.
    For the final part of this review, I can finally use YHN, your humble narrator, as Alex DeLarge in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ calls himself, but this is a review about Ludwig van Beethoven, and YHN is part of it. It escaped my attention when it was around for the first time, but in 2002 Scandinavian sound artist Leif Inge picked up a CD released by Naxos, containing the ‘9th Symphony’, the one containing the famous ‘Ode To Joy’ (incidentally also the hymn of the EU). Inge time stretched the whole symphony so that it never changes the pitch, and the new length is 24 hours. In late 2019 Mauricio Reyes had the idea to have twelve composers do a remix of this work, each two hours, regardless of whether there was a break in the music. Think of this as a new symphony, recorded kilometres apart, by composers locked up at home due to Covid-19. YHN got segment number nine and linked it to ‘Revolution Number 9’ by the Beatles (Ludwig von Beetles?). The brief was: do what you want but let some of the original time-stretch be part of this. There are various instalments of this, like a USB device containing the complete work, plus lots of digital extras (photos, text). Still, there is also an option to get Leif Inge’s original, or just a compilation CD with other, new music by all twelve involved. Maybe a bit of a warning: I did not hear Inge’s original or the twelve pieces, not in their complete form for this review. Some I played until the end, and I had enough to say something sensible with others.
    It is clear that the source material, Inge’s original, is a time stretch and even with all the distortion removed, it still sounds like a time stretch. I believe that each of the twelve remixers also uses time stretching and granular synthesis. They overlay this with the original, some more than others. There is also the addition of the sound material, again, some more than others.
Roughly one can see things are from total transformation towards a mixture of the original and the processed. Some, like Mykel Boyd and Jac Beloeil, rather see Beethoven disappear, and the first has a very minimal, two-hour piece, and the latter moves through various sections of heavily processed bits, at times quite rhythmic. On the other end, we find contributions by John Duncan and Manuel Rocha Iturbide, whose processing still sounds remarkably like the original. When it comes to slipping in other sound material, we are off for a rocky start. In Mauricio Reyes part, the opening two hours here, a lot is added by heavily processed words/texts and field recordings. That was a lot to take in, I thought. There is a less rapid succession of movements in other pieces, so one has time to gasp for breath. Michael Esposito calls out for his archive of EVP recordings and Freiband for subtle sine waves and tiny fragments of The Beatles ‘Revolution no. 9′; we are in the ninth segment here. Adi Newton goes for a very delicate ambient approach. There are only two pieces in which silence plays a role, and that’s with Leif Inge, which I suspect might be some granular thing causing some silence by accident. Marc Behrens’ piece is the most different. He takes his usual laptop approach to the original, and it all becomes cut up, with lots of dynamics. There is an excellent ‘silent’ versus ‘loud’ approach here, towards the end with almost fifteen minutes of silence. That’s the deaf thing for you.
    CM von Hauswolff closes the proceedings, and I was curious to hear what he made of the famous ‘Ode An Die Freude’ and how we may recognize it. It is… well, that would be a spoiler…
    The ‘Aural Annex’ CD may serve as a fine introduction release if you have never heard of any of these people, or if you dislike Beethoven or the ida of stretching a symphony into twenty-four hours (or, hell, do a remix of similar length) but still would love to hear something new by your favourite artists. (FdW)
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CONURE – EXTENDED STORY (NOT WHAT IT SEEMS) (CD by Recorded Psychic Readings)

When listening to ‘Extended Story (Not What It Seems)’ for the first time, it’s hard to know where to listen. This is because Conure, AKA Mark Wilson, has crafted a 60-minute piece of music that is as layered as an onion. It opens quietly but very quickly becomes a ball of seething rage. Sections sound like the world is being burned down, while others say like it’s being rebuilt.
    This all makes sense considering that Wilson was working on ‘Extended Story (Not What It Seems)’ from late 2016 to early 2020. I wonder how many variations there were before Wilson decided, “Yes! This is now finished!” Would we even be able to tell the difference? Probably not, but that’s part of the album’s fun. Everything is carried out to its logical conclusion. About fifteen minutes in, some static starts to make itself known. At first, you don’t really notice it. Then gradually, over time, it becomes all-consuming until it emerges from the speakers at a searingly painful volume. Then, as slowly as it started, the tones changed, and something harder, more caustic, became the dominant force. This then segues into one of the more musical sections of the album. Drones and chimes appear. They aren’t melodic or rhythmic, but they are musical. This makes us second guess for a moment. Until now, it felt like Wilson wasn’t using instruments. Just sounds run through effects pedals and then layered. Which the inclusion of these drones and chimes, the album is changed. It happens briefly, and I didn’t even notice it on a first listen, but there are there. This revelation makes me want to start again to see what else I’ve missed.
    At its core, ‘Extended Story (Not What It Seems)’ lives up to its name. It isn’t what it seems. Instead, it’s something far more interesting indeed that really benefits from repeat listens. Each one tells you something new about the album, and hopefully, yourself. For best results, use headphones but monitor that volume control carefully, or this could be the last thing you hear for a while. (NR)
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VERTONEN: 2022 WALL CALENDAR (12 3”CDR by Ballast)

The new release by Vertonen puts us in a few dilemmas. It is called ‘Calendar’ and contains an actual calendar for 2022, with lots of trivia (world history, Vertonen history) and twelve 3″ CDR releases, each about twenty-one minutes of music. I could decide to review this one a month for the entire year, or all in once. Must I look within the music to see if it sounds like January or December? How does March sound? Or November? Not really months that I would think to have much musical meaning. Maybe Vertonen just offers music, regardless of which month it is? It is all together four hours of music, and I decided to go deep. Play them all in one go. The aftermath of Christmas and New Year mail is still a bit slow, so the possibility is here to have such an immersive experience.
    I know Vertonen as a musical project going in various directions, from loud noise to tranquil drone music, so somehow I expected to find all of that in these twelve releases. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The pure noise seems absent, even when ‘May’ is the loudest, with some heavy machine-like sounds (this one reminded me of Vivenza), with some noise overspill going on in ‘June’. Instead, field recordings are in two months  (‘March’ and ‘September’), strolling around a forest or along a river. These are alright pieces, but nothing special. The other works combine electronics and field recordings (‘October’, ‘November’) to pieces that I think are just about electronics. Vertonen sometimes applies collage-like techniques, meaning that things can take on a radically different course over time within one piece. There are some very nasty frequencies in’ September’, but when they cut out, some drone remains along with skipping bits vinyl (a reminder of Vertonen’s earliest days). Oddly enough, I believe that the pieces which are all (or mostly) electronic are also the pieces with the least amount of cut-ups or collage techniques.
    While listening, I tried to think of the music concerning the months they stand for, and while I believed to recognize eerieness in ‘January’ and some winter’s darkness in ‘February’, I got lost by ‘April’. Maybe I have no idea what the month of April sounds like? Or any other month, for that matter. I believe I said such already at the start of this review, but in the random play mode that this was, it was eveen more difficult. The shuffle mode was for me to see if I could attach specific notions to specific months, but that turned out to be impossible. I know that save for the two months that mainly had field recordings, I enjoyed the other ten. These twelve pieces of music show the great strength of Vertonen, who seems to be on the task of exploring all possibilities there are within the world of drone music. As such, ‘Calender’ is another proof of his skills in that field. Be it quiet, be it louder, pure electronic or a mix of electronics and field recordings, it remains a most captivating listen. (FdW)
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MODELBAU – BIENENKORB (cassette by Vacancy Records)

Modelbau’s latest physical release Bienenkorb comes on a home-dubbed recycled cassette, issued by Canadian label Vacancy Recs. They are not sold out yet, so the digital download is not yet available. As with all Modelbau music, improvised music uses small electronics, short wave radio, Ipad synths and a walkman – remember those?- and the intriguing whatever else. Two sides of dark ambient, close to 90 minutes of moody music evoking a grey sound world with at odd times colour seeping in through the smallest of cracks, at some point muffled voices and even a church organ. Pulses and long sweeps, crackling noises, sounds resemble trickling water drops. Some pieces are pretty brief, and others have a longer duration. What they all have in common is a sense of adventure and never a dull moment: you never know what will come next in this mysterious and haunting world. Mind you: this is not background music. If there would ever be a film based on the art of Professor Bad Trip (Gianluca Lerici), this could well be its soundtrack. A lot is happening under the surface, and maybe, if you listen close enough, this will get under your skin. Pick up a copy or wait until the digital download becomes available. You won’t get disappointed! (MDS)
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