Number 1319

PBK & MODELBAU – THE DEAD TIME (CD by Oxidation) *
LEIF ELGGREN – XII (CD by Firework Edition) *
SOCCER COMMITTEE (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
ORHAN DEMIR – ZIGGURAT (DVD by Hittite Records)
PLESS – HYPERNORMAL (LP by Everest Records) *
STROTTER INST – BLENDWERK (7″ by Everest Records)
GLADIS  – GREEN CARROT EP (12″ by Minimmal Movement) *
V.I.C.A.R.I. – THE ERIC CLIPPERTON SUITE (12″ by Minimmal Movement) *
HALI PALOMBO – INFINITY ROOM (7″ and cassette by Ballast) *
SOUND_00 & LEFTERNA/PORTAL (split cassette by Vacancy Records) *
ANSINUAK/OUR WAY TO FALL (split cassette by Vacancy Records) *
THE ARCHIVES ASSISTANT (cassette by Vacancy Records) *


In music, separating the wheat from the chaff these days is not easy, one has to apply some kind of compulsion and instinct towards interesting releases. “The Dead Time” was made out of processing sonic information in the passing of time, yet what makes this music stand out from the passing and make it “dead”?
    “I am interested in the alchemical breakdown of things and the results of pure accidents.” -Phillip B. Klingler
    Frans de Waard and Phillip B. Klingler are rooted in the experimental music scene. Both are still at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of underground and formal electroacoustic music. This album was made of collages of recordings De Waard made in 2014, fermenting on Klingler’s shelve until summer 2021. One day that summer, Klingler awoke with a premonition about the work, which started an intensely creative period. He created three collaborations: ‘The Dead Time’ with De Waard, a PBK & Nocturnal Emissions LP, and the CHAIN LETTER EXHORTATION Series. “It’s the same way I like to paint: only when inspired to do so, and without preconception.” as Klingler states.
    Both composers are daily concerned with archival matters, so they have a deep intellectual and experiential understanding of the importance of work and detail, no matter how small or few the edition. To my knowledge, this quality translates into the depth of sound, fragility and sensibility, the compositional approach of the unknown by the use of transformed field recordings, digital processed, mixer feedback, synthesizers and sample players, which allows them to enter this abyss of a personal and yet collaborative esoteric space. As Klingler puts it: “I think it was very nice to leave the tracks as “miniatures” with their characteristics, not attempting to be epic in scope, but more like the experiments of the 1950’s/60’s – Dutch composers of the Phillips Research Laboratory, where all ideas of creativity were embraced, even somewhat incongruous combinations. (..) The compositions are made, but they are abstract, no narrative”.
    The “miniatures” sound like deep, personal, little moments of awakening, fermented by time, but then again appearing to be free from it: “We have imposed our own very personal process(es) on the audio to create sounds that belong to something but also subvert that thing.”, as Klinger states.
    This is a robust and thoughtful work of two composers always deeply involved in their game and firmly immersed in its execution. Favourite piece: “Knife”. (MC)
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Aah, a slow build-up… And that with no fewer than four musicians, to be precise, Makoto Oshiro (objects and self-made instruments), Takahiro Kawaguchi (self-made instruments), and Maurizio Argenziano (electric guitar) with Mario Gabola (feedback saxophone and self-made instruments), which two together form A Spirale. During the No Idea Festival 2020 in Texas, the quartet had several musical encounters, recording four gigs in Austin – two in the afternoon at the Ana Lark Center and two in the evening at the Cloud Tree Studio. Max Lorenzo provided crystal clear recordings that reflect the tension of the moment and sound warm and round. The foursome likes long tones, which gives parts of the four tracks a somewhat ambient character. Yet the short, crunchy and briefly tapped pieces of music are also well covered; within the genre of free improvisation, Austin Meeting shows wide variation, up to and including heavy noise. It’s just the way the ball rolls… Meanwhile, the special sounds from all self-created instruments that can be heard make you long for good pictures of those self-built creations. (AVS)
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Defying classification, this self-taught musician created his own space in the underground of France, named his music ‘impromuz’, rarely performed and got global recognition only in the last twenty years or so of his life. Applying for a musician’s P-3 to visa to perform in L.A. in 2019 which means an expert in the field has to send a testimonial to the US Immigration Service. He got his from Kim Gordon.
    Parisian Ghédalia Tazartès died last year. This release is his final one and contains unpublished music spanning his whole career, moulded into two long suites. Lyrics are based on his own personal French, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Italian poetry. Furthermore, he used a text by French-speaking Belgian symbolist Émile Verhaeren. And the last track is based upon a text by French surrealist Antonin Artaud written during a stay in a mental asylum. My French is unfortunately not good enough to understand everything. The music in these tracks are a hodgepodge of gospel music, shuffle beats, ethno-oriented melodies, nineties alt-rock guitars and interludes that could come right of a lost Residents demo. Tazartès uses one text twice with a different background, and the whole gets another meaning. As these tracks span a few decades, the mastering is excellent, and it sounds as if each track is made today and consecutively. And lastly: Tazartès delivers the texts with conviction and sincerity. In other words: this is a fantastic release!  (MDS)
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I scrolled back in my reviews of the past few years, searching for my last review of a Barre Philips-related recording. I landed up in 2019 when he released an album of his CEPI-project, initiated in collaboration with Enrico Gafnoni to create a meeting point for improvisers in the south of France. This recording dates from February 18, 2019. A look at Discogs learns that there are more recordings with Philips around from these years, which is remarkable and very positive considering he has been in business since 1960! And it was in this same period this new release was recorded. A debut release of a new trio bringing together live recordings from Oslo (Blow Out, 2019) and Munich (Offene Ohren, 2018). This project connects three generations. The youngest is Stale Liavik Solberg (drums), followed by John Butcher (saxophones) and veteran Barre Philips on double bass. Norwegian drummer and percussionist Solberg we know of work with Steve Beresford, Martin Kuchen, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Tony Buck, to name a few. Since 2015 he has been doing duo-work with UK saxophonist John Butcher, sometimes inviting a third musician to join (Pat Thomas, Kaja Draksler, a.o.). And this time with Philips. A look at Discogs learns that Philips recorded a lot with diverse musicians in these years, which is remarkable and very positive considering he has been in business since 1960! The cd opens with the most lengthy improvisation, ‘And Then’, an engaging and playful improvisation with many facets. Impressive, and it is a pure joy to listen to this sparkling conversation between the three where a lot of ideas pass by. ‘Chaudrond Profond’ is of another nature. It is less playful and more reflective with deeper and more stretched-out sonorities. Philips’s beautiful solo improvisation ‘Travelling’ is more light-hearted and very poetic. Also ‘Vivid Inkling’ is an inspired duet of Solberg and Butcher. In all, a very surprising and satisfying of three masters. (DM)
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LEIF ELGGREN – XII (CD by Firework Edition)

In 1718, king Carolus XII of Sweden was shot to death in Norway during the siege of Fredriksten fortress. In 1917, his sarcophagus was opened, and photos were taken of his skull. In 2015 these pictures resulted in a 3D version of the king’s head, and replicas were used by Leif Elggren and shown “behind the street urinal close to the Royal Palace in Stockholm”, and he made recordings from inside the bronze skull, recording the outside from within. Or maybe a metaphor for the way we listen with our ears? And what do we hear? As always with Elggren, that is hard to say. Much, if not all, of the man’s work, remains an absolute mystery for me. One of Vital’s scribe’s published a diary on social media, ‘explaining’ Elggren’s work, but that too remained something of a mystery to me. As always (and I am sure I mentioned this before), I take such matters differently. I can independently look at a work, severing it from its conceptual background. I play it and decide to describe what I hear and determine if I like it. The cover shows an image of the skull and some sort of mechanical device, so my mind raced towards an idea: this is what we hear; some kind of mechanical contraption, recorded with some distance from a confined area, i.e. the skull. Elggren writes on the cover, “I see this as a sort of field recording – an attempt to capture something special, something extraordinary from inside the space of the dead king’s skull”. Of course, the operative words are ‘something special’, without what that ‘special’ is. There is some sort of scratching sound; or maybe something shortwave like? The flickering of the candle, recorded with some faulty equipment? I have no idea and find it hard to describe. As with many of the Elggren CDs I heard over the years, this is all highly minimal, without too much variation. Good or all become irrelevant; fascination (or not) is the thing that did it for me. As always, with the work of Elggren, I kept listening. Clueless and yet fascinated. Lost, perhaps, in someone’s head. (FdW)
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Oddly enough, this week, we have two releases with band names that carry the word ‘committee’ in their name. The first is The Orphanage Committee, the musical project of one Orphan S.C. Wallace. I had not heard of him before, but seeing this is the first release, that is no wonder. He is “from our hometown Sin City”, EE Tapes informs us. Originally his debut was to be on LP, but due to Covid-19 and Adele fans really, really needing her music on vinyl, no pressing plant is available for anyone who also wants a bit of vinyl. Who says we live in strange times? We do! No other information is received, so we have to go by what we hear. There are five pieces here, from seven to eleven minutes and The Orphanage Committee sure fits the already crowded world of ambient, drone and field recordings. His track titles do not shed any further light upon the music. In ‘Continiuty I’, we find some synthesizers and field recordings from a restaurant. The music is pretty straightforward. I would think The Orphanage Committee is not someone all too concerned with obscuring sounds through the lowest means available. Far from it, I think he uses some pretty fancy equipment to play these drones and samples. There is a fine spread of synthesized drones in each of these pieces, minimal, repeating slowly, and in each track there are some additional elements. The restaurant in the first track, the percussive samples in the second, water-like features in the third, etc. The Orphanage Committee doesn’t seem to be using hissy cassettes or small synth and cheap stompboxes to make his music, and yet in some, he still connects that particular brand of drone music. Each of these pieces is minimal yet has enough movement and variation to hold my attention. Sinking deeper into the soundworld isn’t always that easy, as at times, The Orphanage Committee also remains a bit distant, too distant for my taste. But as a start, this is certainly a most promising one! Let’s hope that promised LP will arrive one day. (FdW)
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SOCCER COMMITTEE (CD by Moving Furniture Records)

As I am playing this CD by Mariska Baars, also known as soccer Committee, as the prefered spelling goes, I am trying to remember where I saw her play live for the first time. I believe it was at an evening where she also played as part of Pjipstilling, a group with the two Kleefstra brothers and Machinefabriek. Maybe in 2008? I do remember being blown away. Not but the volume, but with the controlled quietness of her performance. An electric guitar and a voice, if I remember well. It sounded great, very sparse, everything that wasn’t necessary stripped away. Again, if I remember well, up until that evening, I had not heard of Baars and her soccer Committee, so I missed her debut CDR when it came out in 2005. Now, this debut album is re-issued by Moving Furniture Records, for once in a role of a re-issue label. For me, it is no surprise that this appears on this label, as Baars played on the two albums of the group Fean, and there are some strong ties with Machinefabriek, Baars and the label. Machinefabriek has a remix here, just as Wouter van Veldhoven (whom I also got to know around this period and whose first concert I still remember very well).
    The original album is concise, around fifteen minutes and has seven tracks, all-around two minutes, a bit more or a bit less. Baars plays a few sparse notes and strums carefully and delicate notes. Sometimes you hear a bit of extra string of the reverb effect, enhancing the spaciousness of the music. In ‘Kaleidoscope’, there is quite a bit of hiss, as if she recorded this onto a cassette, but it adds another layer of intimacy to the music. The whole thing sounds as if Mariska Baars sits in your living room, performing these pieces. Quiet music, away from the loudness of the world, is something we probably need now more than in 2005. Well, or so I think.
    Following this delicacy, there is a fifteen-minute remix of ‘Moi & Mon Coeur’ by Machinefabriek, taking apart the whole song, note by note, doing a bit stretching and looping, emphasizing the hiss some more, but remaining close to the entire notion of ‘strip away anything you don’t need’. Baars does it in two minutes to significant effect, but the prolonged one from Machinefabriek is just effective. Wouter van Veldhoven takes ‘Le Jardin’ to his empire of reel-to-reel machines, and his sparseness is one placing sounds on a loop with some near silence between the sounds, words, and notes. I wouldn’t have minded a few more originals or some extra remixes if there were all on this equal level of sparseness. Beautiful! (FdW)
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Listening to Hairs Abyss is both an enjoyable experience and something to endure. Chandor Glöomy and Paul Harrison have crafted an hour of music filled with inventive ideas and is put together in a way that makes repeat listening to a charm but sounds like it has been put through a meat grinder. Everything is mashed up, and it’s hard to determine what is going on. But, saying this, it’s pretty great in places.
    This, of course, is nothing new. Hairs Abyss has been regularly releasing destructive music for the past two years, yet weirdly hopefully. 2020’s self-titled cassette on Steep Gloss pretty much laid the foundations for everything that followed. However, whilst listening to ‘AESTHETIC’, it’s hard to imagine it’s from the same band. It feels like their take on techno. The final third sounds like something I experienced in a small club on a stag do in Poland but, you know, more distressed. The song is built around a throbbing beat/bassline that doesn’t really detour from its initial pulses. It speeds up around the halfway mark, but it’s effectively the same loop. Under this are distorted vocal samples, tortured synths, and a general air of malice that is hard to ignore and even harder to forget about after the song ends. What really makes it remarkable is how through the ringer, we’re put by a few elements. Jools Holland once said of Chas and Dave, “They make it seem very easy. So, you know it’s not”. The same could be said of Hairs Abyss. ‘Chaos’ follows this up, but instead of the beats doing the talking, Hairs Abyss have created something some layering, and looping, electronic drone, blips and beeps. This gives the song a sense of constantly moving. It’s like in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, when Indiana Jones notices that the floor is constantly moving and can’t work out why. The song is a seething mass of alienation, resentment, and synths. It’s really fun and should be played as loud as you can.
    There are times when you feel that Hairs Abyss are doing all this to show how extreme they are. How on edge they live. How they will destroy any venue, audience, PA system when they perform live. Of course, all this was hiding in plain sight. The title refers to when animals mark their territory and inform others that they are either in charge or not worth messing with. And it works. The album is literally a 60-minute sent marking.
    This kind of album would appeal to anyone who likes their music messed up and dank. It won’t appeal to people who like their noise regimented or with a sense of propriety. No. This is an album for people who like it all to hang out. At all times, and make a mess while doing it. For best results, listen with a headphone. Possibly late at night. Whenever one else has gone to bed. (NR)
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This is a collection of 50 (? I count 49 …) of very short piano pieces composed by Tyler Kline, a music teacher and composer born in Kentucky. Why is that important? Well, he took the inspiration for these pieces from farming, as he says, essentially the process of growing things from ‘seed’, of organic objects, considering the properties of different fruit (hence the album title) when constructing the pieces.
    All pieces are between 45 seconds and just over three minutes. So you think ‘1-2-3 Rockaway Beach’? Not quite. Though Kline does sport a somewhat punk attitude in ‘making a point’, displaying an idea, and that’s that then. No lengthy doodling around. ‘Here’s something to think about’ – slap into your face. But even this is not quite correct, as you do find that 1 minute 30 is long enough to present an idea of a melody and rhythm and further develop it. More so with the longer pieces. Kline’s music owes a lot to Debussy and Bartok, so you remember the brief pieces in the Children’s Playcorner or the Microcosmos volumes. But there is also other influences, ranging from Chick Corea to Michael Nyman.
    Supposedly Kline is a follower of the Japanese Wabi-Sabi, which cherishes imperfection, impermanence and transience. He sometimes uses weird rhythmic patterns, though these often remind more of Bartok than Japanese influence. In other pieces, he mixes styles and refers to John Cage’s work on prepared piano (if I heard correctly, that is).
    Similar to Bartok, Kline intentionally provides pieces that are at the same time interesting to listen to, but can also be used as practice pieces. He suggests the listener programme her/his own sequence and/or use shuffle mode. Something we have come across in many experimental releases, not least the ‘Music for CD player’ of Ios Smolders – musically several planets away, but also handing over the musical direction to the listener.
    Twenty-seven pianists commissioned this work, and fourteen are heard to play the pieces here. The production was funded through a crowdfunding (kickstarter) initiative by 177 named individuals. Definitely a new and promising way of producing and publishing music. (RSW)
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Thomas Ciufo and Curtis Bahn have been experimenting for over two decades on the interface between acoustic and electronic instruments. Essentially they fitted sensors and pickups to acoustic and electric instruments ranging from sitars and flutes to electric guitars. The signals were then fed initially to custom-made hardware, now to laptop software. The sounds were then modified in order to create a feedback between the original instrument and the electronic sounds, or signals used to play the acoustic instruments electrically. The result is something between contemporary classical music, contemporary cound experimenting jazz, and industrial drone/ambient. Ciufo actually self-released a CD in 1995 with ambient music.
    On this recording they team up with flautist Jane Rigler, someone who has built a reputation in novel approaches to flute playing and sounding. Five tracks show their take on creating ‘drones’, starting with bells and (I believe) singing bowls. Contrary to electronic drone-ambient, you can here actually hear the ‘pings’ and ‘scrapes’ starting sounds, as the tracks were all recorded live, giving the music less of an electronic and more of an acoustic flavour. Nevertheless, the effect is very similar to electric drones (as the feedback is in fact electronic), stretching out the sounds of bells and ciymbals as long as possible. Much of the effect is due to the pure and distinct sound and properties of metal acoustic objects. Although I enjoyed the non-electronic, acoustic feel of hearing how the sounds are initiated, this also sometimes got in the way – probably inevitable in a live recording. I wonder how this would sound as a more carefully constructed studio recording …. the last track builds a nice drone-feel, using the breath-sound of the flute and other sounds building plane over plane over level to an increasing ‘hum’. Unfortunately, towards the end more recognisable sounds appear, such as the sitar, and the piece slightly slumps off in effect and volume. It might have been better to limit it to its stronger beginning. Still, overall a release that bridges the not-so-deep-anymore devide between contemporary classical music and ambient/drone electronics. (RSW)
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When this release popped up on my social media timeline, I suddenly noticed I had quite a few Xenakis experts in my bubble, talking about previous versions of Xenakis’ electro-acoustic works. I used to own two CDs of his works, ‘Persepolis’ and ‘Le Légende d’Eer’, but I think I sold them when I was raising funds for one thing or another. Or gave them away. Either way. I did keep a rip of them, as I quite like them. This explains that I am no expert yet also not unaware of Xenakis and his legacy in electro-acoustic music. The thing that surprised me was that there were so few electro-acoustic works. Apart from the two compositions mentioned, both spanning a disc, the other three discs have eleven pieces. I realized I heard others as well, such as ‘Concret PH’, but hearing them all at once is a novelty for me. The earliest piece is ‘Diamorphoses’ from 1957, and the final one is ‘S.709’ from 1992; Xenakis died in 2001. Iannis Xenakis, born in Greece but after fleeing from his country living in France, was originally an architect and worked on the World Fair Philips building in 1958, along with Le Corbusier and Edgar Varese. A man with a strong interest in mathematics and technology. H was part of what later became INA-GRM, and towards the end of his life, he worked with the UPIC computer, translating images into music. A bit of an outsider and a provocateur, his music is excellent.
    I dipped a bit into his ‘other’ work, mainly because the booklet mentions a few pieces. While I can certainly see similarities between his orchestral compositions and his electro-acoustic pieces, I prefer the latter. In the early works, the late 50s and early 60s, it has the markings of early electronic music. Still, it already has the typical Xenakis markings of what is best described as ‘dense’ and ‘noisy’. ‘Concret PH’ is such as piece of noise, with small, high end piercing frequencies crashing together. Gradually, Xenakis also started to use sounds from instruments, allowing himself to do whatever he thought was best. The electronic music piece as a blank canvas in which anything was possible. In the seventies, Xenakis composed his two major electroacoustic works, “Persepolis, commissioned by the Persian Shah (in 1968, Xenakis was a hero of the student revolt in Paris; funny world!), to celebrate 2,500 years of the state of Iran, which some believe led to the downfall of the Shah; or not, but the menu was great, so I heard. Xenakis’ piece included lights, lasers, 59 loudspeakers and children with torches. I wonder what the Shah thought as Persepolis is one hell of a racket. Massive, dense, colourful, disorienting and abstract, which is something that ‘La Légende d’Eer takes to a further extreme, almost into Merzbowian proportions – well, seeing this is from 1978, one should say that Merzbow is Xenakisian like.
    The final disc contains his final four electroacoustic pieces, although we could also say electronic music, using computers and the UPIC machine. Here too, we find some of the brutal approaches of Xenakis, loud, brash and yet finely structured. At times I thought of these as a return to the earliest pieces, also noisy but moving more dynamically and less straightforward as a monolith of densely layered noise. The final two pieces use randomized principles to let music compose itself; radical thinking all the way to the end.
    These five CDs are also available on LP, and I know there are vinyl junkies out there who prefer that over the CD version. I’d argue that the interruption of turning the record over destroys the flow of the pieces, especially the two long ones. Not being interrupted is the best thing here. Excellent production by Reinhold Friedl of Zeitkratzer here. (FdW)
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ORHAN DEMIR – ZIGGURAT (DVD by Hittite Records)

Toronto-based guitarist Orhan Demir made the most of the lockdown in Canada and recorded on camera eighteen tracks of solos on acoustic and electric guitars. A fast picking technique, mildly seasoned with Middle Eastern flavours, fresh melodies, and relatively short tracks, makes this release quite a worthwhile experience. However, it must be said that some 56 minutes of solo guitar fireworks with a few slower-paced songs might be a bit too much. But it’s 56 minutes of exquisite guitar playing, not intended to be background music. A ziggurat is a pyramidal stepped temple tower that is an architectural and religious structure characteristic of the major cities of Mesopotamia. During the course of this release, you see this building from all sides, running up the steps and looking around as if the guitar is one giant ziggurat and each fret a single step. (MDS)
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Singing in Basque Ibon Rodriguez García pays homage to avant-garde poet Joxan Artze (1939-2018). The instrumentation is sparse, a capella, sometimes electronically manipulated percussive sounds made with the txalaparta – an ancient percussion instrument/cider making device -, sometimes voice with piano, but consistently effective. However, I don’t understand the Basque language, so the lavish LP sized book isn’t for me, even when it looks great. Fortunately, there are some translations available on the website of IbonRG. As I understand it, some tracks are recorded in a cave, which means the addition of natural reverb. Primarily the last track -solo txalaparta- benefits from this. Artze reestablished the use of the instrument with his brother as part of a more comprehensive cultural renaissance of the Basque culture as a revolt against the censorship under Franco, ultimately culminating in a yearly txalaparta festival since 1987. Back to the music: there’s a nice flow in the consecutive tracks. I was starting with a declarative song for which, unfortunately, there is no translation. A percussive track leads into a socio-political sung a capella where an older man (woman?) gives a young person advice about living in a land ruled by a dictator. I won’t describe the rest of the record. As a whole, this is an impressive release paying homage to an important figure in Basque culture using ethnic instruments – in one song, bagpipes can be heard – and folk-like melodies coupled with modern ways of manipulating sounds. (MDS)
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PLESS – HYPERNORMAL (LP by Everest Records)
STROTTER INST – BLENDWERK (7″ by Everest Records)

Whatever Everest releases, music-wise, there is not much of a fixed musical genre. Which is, of course, great, but it requires an open mind. I have no idea if I have such an open mind, but I can try. These three releases are definitely a mixed bag. For me, two of these are new names. First is the double LP by OP Rechts, also known as Mike Reber. The first record takes a look at the state of the world – not good, not good at all, no (as a not so wise former US president would say, one not in the market of trying to comfort his audience at all), where the second record is about Reber himself and his struggles for the past twenty years, “strokes, cancer, isolation, anxiety, diabetes, medication, and the way back to everyday life”. According to the information, he uses analogue sound sources and field recordings and gets help from musicians Bassdriver and BlindDoc, playing drums and guitar. This happens on the title track, which is the album’s second side. That means quite a radical turn from the first side, ‘Sponsorenpest Und Verblendung’, which is all a collage of electronics, processed field recordings (also in the analogue domain, I should think) in the best cut ‘n montage tradition of musique concrete. I enjoyed this piece quite a lot for its dystopian rain recordings and shouts and cries. Those can be found on the title piece, but maybe it is the non-rock mind I have who is less impressed by this. A similar approach is to be found on the other record; one side has ‘Ethik des Täglichen Drangsals’, another strong montage of scary sounds from the apocalypse live in action and then, on the final side, ‘Luzid’, which has the rock elements, now embedded in a more electronic setting. All of which works quite alienating, I think, and it worked better for me this time around. The rock side is part of the bigger picture, which works wonders for me.
    Also, Pless is a new name for me, but that is no surprise. This is their debut album. Behind Pless we find Lep Matkovic and Philipp Thöni. What instruments they play is not mentioned on the cover. The music gives various clues, but one of them is responsible for the keyboards/electronics of the music and the other for the drums/drum machines. The latter I am not sure about. Sometimes they sound like real drums, and sometimes like a machine. The music here is quite different from OP Rechts, even with some similarities (rhythm, noise, guitar-like sounds, a bit rocky). With Pless, it all is about songs and making them sound like songs. As in, well-rounded affairs, with dramatic changes and turns. Music that is hard to pin down. It shares similar elements of rock and dance music, yet it never seems to be one or the other. The music here isn’t aimed at the dance floor, not the mosh pit. Moody and melancholic are certain words that apply to this music. It is all a bit grim in Switzerland, I guess. There is quite some variation in their approaches to keyboards and synthesizers throughout these seven pieces. ‘Hot God’ has a slightly cosmic approach, ‘La Ciénaga’ sounds like it’s coming through a time machine from the 80s, while ‘La Grenouille Volante’ is a fine moody soundtrack piece. Altogether a satisfactory yet confusing record. I guess that’s a good thing, confusion?
    Now, Strotter Inst. is someone we know from various past releases. This one-person project out of Switzerland works with turntables. ‘Blendwerk’ is a package that has a record, two Flexi’s (that act as covers for the 7″) and some box-type package, which I haven’t seen. While I am not fond of turntablists, I enjoyed what I heard from Strotter Inst over the years. His music has that rhythmic streak from skipping vinyl, stuck in a groove, but he adds ‘other’ sounds, electronics, voices, who knows what and cooks up a ‘song’ if the term suits you. One side of the Flexi has a recording from his concert before the pandemic; the other side (well, the other Flexi) is a track from before Strotter Inst was Strotter Inst. Not sure which is what, though! One sounds like a cut-up, and one is a dark industrialized affair. The ‘real’ 7″ contain ‘Potpourri’, spinning from the label towards the outside (I have not seen that since The Haters’ LP ‘Tractor’), which sounds like a classic Strotter Inst piece, dark, rhythmic and mysterious. The other side contains 23 lock grooves, a novel idea twenty or more years ago, but now, I don’t know, a bit dull. Where have all the DJs gone who used to play these? That said, I enjoyed this package; a Flexi disc always gets me! (FdW)
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GLADIS  – GREEN CARROT EP (12″ by Minimmal Movement)
V.I.C.A.R.I. – THE ERIC CLIPPERTON SUITE (12″ by Minimmal Movement)

Things have been silent for a while from the local (well local for me) underground label Minimmal Movement, which name is a wordplay on the nickname for Nijmegen, ‘Nimma’ and ‘minimal’, the genre of dance music it concerns itself with. None of the musicians released on this label is local; many are from Romania, which houses a more significant scene for minimal techno music. The musicians on these new records are from Italy and England. First, there is Gladys Chiggiato with a four-track EP of sunshine music. That is most fortunate, as there is sunshine today, though at the same time it is also very cold. I am no longer at an age where I frequent all-night parties, just as many of today’s kids grow up with that phenomenon, waiting for a certain pandemic to disappear. Maybe therein lies the reason we have not heard anything from this label? No parties, no vinyl? Gladis’ music is rather uplifting dance music, with solid beats, quirky synthesizers and actually, not as minimal as I think minimal techno/house should be. The whole percussion box of tricks opens up here and gently keeps me bouncing around, sweeping the floor with a big smile on my face.
    V.i.c.a.r.i. only has two tracks on his 12″, thus being half the length of Gladis. Behind this name is Tommy Vicari Jnr from Sheffield, who has a bunch of artist guises and a ton of record releases. In ‘The Eric Clipperton Suite’ his take on minimal is just a bit darker than Gladis, hammering away his beats, but with a minimalist piano buried in the mix, which he moves around a bit. On the flip, there is ‘No No After You’ with a more fluid bassline and elements from dub sparsely dropped in the mix. I prefer this piece over the slightly more straightforward A-side. Let’s wait for the end of any restrictions and let the party commence. (FdW)
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HALI PALOMBO – INFINITY ROOM (7″ and cassette by Ballast)

This year, Blake Edwards’ Ballast label will release a series of lathe cut 7″ records, various of which will be housed in a box, along with a cassette. Here we have Hali Palombo, whose I reviewed music before (Vital Weekly 1267 and 1223, for instance). I don’t know much about her or her work, but Edwards says she works a lot with manipulating and processing shortwave radio, cylinder records and 78 rpm records. This new record is about the “House On The Rock”, a tourist attraction in Wisconsin, “a complex of architecturally distinct rooms, streets, gardens, and shops designed by Alex Jordan Jr”, according to Wikipedia. Palombo herself also refers to Wiki on the cassette, saying they also have no idea what to call this but that deranged man makes it with too much money. The cassette is Palombo reciting an apocryphal story about Jordan Jr and Frank Lloyd Wright and why that never happened, followed by a spoken-word account of the structure. She’s clearly not a fan! As you can imagine, I have no idea what it looks like, but it sounds like Disney World, but then as an early American village. Western movies aren’t popular in this household. It is interesting to hear, but once only. The other side is the same thing, in reverse. Okay. Well, whatever.
    However, the 7″ lathe cut (edition of 26 copies) is quite interesting. Maybe wrongly, but I think she uses field recordings from the site. She tells on the cassette about orchestral/organ-like sounds coming from the structure to give that authentic early 20th century sound. The thing you have at a theme park about the ‘wild west’. She uses those sounds in two great pieces of found field recordings in a complete melt-down. She layers these heavily, and they get a strange, psychedelic feeling of being sucked into an underworld. It slowly becomes distorted, and this continues on the second side, in which everything steadily grows to be over the top. She ends on a few sparse sounds, going for the exit. I am sure Hali Palombo was glad to be out of that place. The music on the 7″ is great, and the cassette has a play once approach. (FdW)
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If you call your release ‘II’, there was also ‘I’. Except it wasn’t called ‘I’, but an untitled album, for the same label. I didn’t hear that one, and I don’t think I know much about Michael Schaffer, other than he is an ambient musician, painter, lyricist and the man behind Opaa Loka Records (well, one of them). He plays “stringed instruments”, by which I gather they mean guitars. Philippe Petit left behind his Bip Hop label a long time ago to work with a cast of musicians and, these days, is an advocate for all things modular. The cover here has a few lines, about a rumble, a village waking up, thunder and “even the mountain shook and the sound of Buchla and Guitars could be heard getting louder and louder”. I would think that holds a promise of a noise release, and to a certain extent, this is quite a loud beast, but not throughout. The music here is a stream of ideas, interests and influences; it is a work of improvisation, but no doubt an improvisation that received some structuring. Schaffer string work consists of open sounds, tons of sound effects, and letting a few sounds escape and follow another course through infinite space. Petit’s modules crack, burst, hiss and drone, just as one could expect from such things. What it doesn’t, and that’s great, is falling apart. At no point in this work does Petit allow his modules to play small sounds; when changed, it may give the impression that the player is searching for the correct string of modules to play. One sometimes hears the sort of thing with musicians not as proficient as Petit on the modular synthesizers. Ambient isn’t a word that applies to this music, but noise doesn’t entirely cover it either. Sure, it is loud and sometimes quiet at times, but never too quiet, never meandering about or growing into a giant bomb of distortion. This music is a journey over uneven terrain, and if you are in for a bumpy ride, this is a lovely road trip. (FdW)
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SOUND_00 & LEFTERNA/PORTAL (split cassette by Vacancy Records)
ANSINUAK/OUR WAY TO FALL (split cassette by Vacancy Records)
THE ARCHIVES ASSISTANT (cassette by Vacancy Records)

Vacancy Records out of Canada loves to recycle old cassettes, and they love split cassettes. Two of the three recent ones are split ones. On the first, we find two gentlemen from Macedonia, Sound_00, also known as Toni Dimitrov, and Lefterna is Boban Ristevski, former scribe for this rag. There was a time when I reviewed work from both these guys regularly, but they went quiet for some time. Ristevski recently returned and had a couple of exciting releases, all collaborations (well, the ones I heard). They have one long, thirty-four-minute piece of music called ‘Collab 52’. I am not sure if that number indicates how many times they worked together. I have no idea how and what they use to do their music, but my best guess would be that there is an endless, subconscious stream of field recordings mangled by electronics. These field recordings might be the dishwasher or some other kind of electrically charged equipment, for all I know. This is the sort of drone and ambient music that I like very much. It is consistent, long, psychedelic and exactly right up my alley.
Portal sounds like a familiar name, and I bet there are a few portals out there. This Portal is from For Erie, Canada, and also works with field recordings, which, certainly in the first half of the piece, is quite a percussive racket; something or another being thrashed around in the yard. However, there is a quieter approach in the second half of the piece, of water sounds, some cars passing and the obscure rummaging of objects. Oddly enough. This, too, had a weird percussive feeling but was relatively sparse.
    The other split release has on the first side Ansinuak. This is a trio of Carlos Costa (contrabass), Miguel A. Garcia (electronics) and Manaolo Rodriguez (acoustic guitar and objects). The first two are no strangers here. The music they play is along the lines that I first heard when I heard music from this label: improvisation. The mix of objects, electronics and instruments work very well here. None seems to play the leading role here, as in some pieces Garcia prevails, and in others Costa or Rodriguez. Throughout, the music is carefully played out. It is slow and meandering but not really quiet. There is a fine sense of unrest in this music. The other side has one long piece by Our way To Fall, a trio of Elizabeth Lima (voice, clarinet), Del Stephen (Fender Rhodes, synth, pedalboard and tapes) and Joe Strutt (tapes, pedals, pocket Miku and synth). They recorded the music in concert, in August 2018, as part of an evening where also Nidus played. That band (whose music I don’t know) is a trio, so Joe Strutt put together a trio that he tagged ‘the city’s #1 Nidus cover band, even though the other two had no familiarity with the music of Nidus. Great story, of course, but you have to have some knowledge there. The music they play is a thirty-some minute improvisation in which the clarinet is at times quite dominant. Still, once that is controlled more, the music is a fine mixture of tapes, spoken word, weird sounds, moving around without a beginning or end. It keeps morphing and re-shaping.
    The final tape is by Jordan Cook, also known as The Archives Assistant. Cook and a friend called Alex “whittled down Trent Radio 92.7 CFFF FM’s vinyl library from 20,000 to 2,000 records”, and each record gave an idea. Cook took pictures, and while not allowed to take the records home, the internet provided digital copies, which led to the realization that everything is available online. This cassette is dedicated to community radio. The Archives Assistant samples sources left and right and plays around with these. It all results in some excellent music. Most of the time, these are soundscapes, and you could say these are ambient, but then ambient of a different kind. These are not lengthy washes of drones and synthesizers but connects more to the world of lo-fi droneism, but doesn’t sound as gritty as some of the peers doing this. There are clearly distinct pieces on this cassette, but everything flows right into the next one, thus creating one long soundscape. The first side has lengthier pieces, while the second is slightly more broken up. I have no preference for either way of working; they both had fine music to offer. The music reminded me at times of Zoviet France, especially the first side here. Is there more from The Archives Assistant? (FdW)   
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