Number 1327

MACHINEFABRIEK – PRISMA+ (CD by Machinefabriek) *
AN OBLIQUE REFERENCE TO ZEROES (2CD compilation by Fourth Dimension)
THETA – VISION OF ONE (CD by Zoharum) *
ORD – WITHERED BONES (CD by Zoharum) *
ZONA ELECTRONICA (CD compilation by Zoharum)
LLYN Y CWN – DU Y MOROEDD (CD by Cold Spring Records) *
BURIAL HEX – GAUZE (CD by Cold Spring Records) *
PIERRE GERARD – A SIMPLE EYE (CD by Edition Wandelweiser Records) *
SPRUIT – RAW (CDR, private) *
HEIRLOOM – OCTOBER 3, 2018 (3″ CDR by Hymns) *
MODELBAU – MAY FLOWER (cassette by Grisaille Tapes) *
TBC – NOCH MEHR TOTE (cassette by Grisaille Tapes) *
N.HIR/RUDY DECELIERE (split cassette by Alcove)

MACHINEFABRIEK – PRISMA+ (CD by Machinefabriek)

By now, we have learned that Machinefabriek is a man of surprises. But ‘Prisma’ is something entirely different. Suppose you have Machinefabriek down as a moody project, carefully constructed ambient/drone music, then you have a somewhat outdated picture. In the last few years, rhythms started to be part of his work, mainly in his music work for computer games, but on ‘Prisma’, he takes matters in that direction two significant steps further. The rhythm kicks in, along with a plethora of synthesizers right at the start. There is nothing moody or dark about ‘Prisma’; nothing like his earlier work. Synthesizers, arpeggios, fat bass lines. The one thing missing is the essential ingredient for a dance floor smash: a 4/4/ beat. ‘Prisma’ is more a space-rock, cosmic and kraut synth affair than a techno piece.  I have no idea what the intentions are with this piece. Seeing four subsequent remixes, one could believe this was a dancefloor-oriented release. However, the four remixes don’t take the original further in the world of dance. Matt Wand is behind two of these, and in ‘Scarlett’s Blood Bubbles Mix’, he breaks down the original into microscopic blocks, which he randomizes. In ‘Thigh Slapping Without Tears Mix’, he organizes the particles and makes it all louder and meaner, breaking the gentle character of the original. Now it becomes not unlike a drum ‘n bass piece, less the drums, I guess. Right before that, Nick Storring has a straightforward adaptation, feeding elements through more modules but without adding more beats. The final track is by Phil Maguire, who expands the original seventeen minutes and twenty-six seconds by additional three seconds, and is the album’s most ambient track. After exploring the cosmos, the chaos theory and attempts (or not) at dance music, it’s time for a chill-out. Maguire stripped away the music and played around with the residual of the original track. The remixes are what they are, and I’m not sure if they add or change enough of the original for my taste, but the original is a most original track, and I’d be curious to hear how this particular line will develop. (FdW)
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Musical careers can take very different routes, like Ron Caines, who played in prog rock band East of Eden at the end of the 60s(!) on the first two influential albums of this band from Bristol. Subsequently, he was active in the local improv scene for many years and performed with Steve Lacy, Keith Tippett’s Ark, a.o. In 1995 he stopped and concentrated on painting. Since 2008 however, he is again active as a musician. Around 2018 when he was already in his 70s, Caines started working with Martin Archer as Axis, resulting in the albums ‘Les Oiseaux De Matisse album art’(2018) and ‘Dream Feathers’ (2020). A fruitful collaboration that now is marked by the third album with compositions by Caines and performed by: Hervé Perez (soundscapes, processing, electronics), Chris Sharkey (guitar, electronics), Byron Wallen (trumpet), Graham Clark (violin), Ben Higham (tuba), Corey Mwamba (vibraphone, electronics), Johnny Hunter (drums), Gus Garside (bass), Ron Caines (soprano, alto & tenor saxophones) and Martin Archer (baritone & Ensemble Saxophones, Organ, Rhodes, Electronics). A more extended lineup as on the first two recordings with Sharkey, Wallen, Higham and Mwamba as new participators. They perform 14 tracks that are grouped in three suites. All three of them are organic and meandering unities that came into being by intensive editing and processing by Perez. Besides Perez, Sharkey, Archer and Mwamba add electronic textures to the acoustic interplay. The suites work as open and spatial excursions with a focus and sense of direction. The music is built from ledoci material, has a slightly psychedelic touch and continues in a friendly multi-coloured flow. (DM)
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Isaiah Ceccarelli is a percussionist and composer. ‘Toute clarte m’est obscure’ (2013 with a revision in 2018) consists of three long pieces, each over fifteen minutes long, three written interludes, and two shorter pieces. Bourdons is a kind of group meditation on long sustained notes with fluttering dissonance in several instruments. Intermede 2 is scored for the lower registers in the ensemble, which creates a brooding atmosphere. The title piece is a setting of a fourteenth-century ballad.
      Again long-sustained notes with ever-so-slowly shifting notes, creating chords that slowly evolve, but with added notes to create a moving sound carpet. This is not meant to be background music or muzak. The shortest piece lasts just 2 minutes, and it’s the most uplifting piece on the recording. It contains a jolting melody sung by the soprano accompanied by gentle and soothing chords. But the text counters this by stating that death surrounds us even in our lives. Seventy minutes long, it’s quite worthwhile to take the plunge and immerse yourself into Ceccarellis sound world. (MSD)
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Can you prepare a jew hapr? It turns out you can. Antoine Läng made a CD with four  and he writes that “each track is made of a combination of specific preparation and tuning of the jaw harp, emphasis on the same gesture and rhythm of the fingers, variations in mouth opening, jaw tension and modulations of the breath, on the ability to repeat, by resistance or by accident, what each of these parameters can hold, deviate or give up, to release a sound with different layers and times from one simple action”, whcih I found a fascinating description. But by then I heard the music twice already. The first time I had no idea what I was hearing, and it all didn’t make much sense. The second time the music started to grow on me, and after reading the liner notes and comparing it with the music I heard, I became most interested in. Still, I have very little idea as to how this was made. The music conjures many images in my head, and most likely any sort of construction that involves small objects being played in a slightly repeated fashion. I had an idea of the sound of the jew harp, and none of that I heard in the four pieces here. I could easily think there is some kind of electronic treatment, but at the same time, there isn’t. The sound is very dry. I think it is all recorded very close by the mouth and yet there is never a human touch; just this slow rattle of a sound. In the first two pieces, Läng works this into minimal constructions, which sound alright, but the real fire, for me, is in the last two pieces. Here Läng goes out on a wild chase of sounds, and it sounds like coins fliiping on a table, rattling metal objects or any such thing. The sound here owes a lot to the world of electro-acoustic and every time I hear them, I discover something new in them.
     Hot on the heels of the second instalment of this trilogy (Vitl Weekly 1323), there is now the final one. The concept is to invite Swiss and Chilean composers for new works, to be performed by Cyril Bondi and Cristian Alvear, who are also from Switzerland and Chili. This time the compositions are by Barbara Gonzalez Barrera and Mara Winter. For whatever reason this time the pieces are separated (or rather, for whatever reason they weren’t on the first two). Also, again, I have no idea how this was recorded. For both players a studio is mentioned, so maybe they both play the pieces/instrcutions individually and then stuck the recordings together. I said this with both previous releases as well. It’s easy to see why Avear and Bondi decided to release these two pieces on one disc, as they are both for electric guitar (played by Alvear) and percussion and bowls (Bondi). Barrera’s piece is about half the length of Winter’s, which is a good thing. It’s not that I don’t like Barrera’s piece, but there is a level of randomisation here, of strums, strikes and cuts, combined with irregular (?) silences that makes this not an easy listening piece. This piece strikes me as another attampt to out-Cage John Cage. The other piece, hwoever, is a great one. Here the bowl and electric guitar are in a slow duet, of slow notes, slow movements and an excellent grace. Alvear strums notes with great care, while Bndi strikes his bowl in a steady, solemn mode. All of this makes for some very nice, contemplative music. The whole piece is some twenty-eight minutes, but as far as I’m concerned this could have been much longer. There are five distinct parts, each a variation of the other, in a sightly growing intensity but, who knows whatever else there could have been possible? Great closure to the series. (FdW)
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Tom Johnson is a new composer for me, apart from his ‘Chord Catalogue’, a work I still have to listen to. Born in 1939, he privately studied composition with Morton Feldman. As a music critic, he wrote for The Village Voice. You can find an anthology in his book ‘The Voice of Music’, published in 1989. He coined the term minimal music in 1972.
    The music collected on this disc is his complete works for the string quartet. Sixty-six minutes spread over four pieces. The oldest piece is from 1994, and the youngest is composed in 2009. And what music it is. His approach to music is logical, mathematical, not whimsical or sterile. He later collaborated with mathematicians to find formulas to apply to music (or vice versa). The resulting music is lovely. The first few pieces comprising Combinations are in the vein of Steve Reich or Philip Glass. Highly repetitive motives. But: the sequences are always the same, just varied on the different string instruments. This might be an oversimplification of the score. But the way Johnson organizes the material is logical, using only the notes heard in the beginning and mathematically permutating them. The overall pattern becomes apparent after a few rounds. And that is just the first piece. The next one is sparse, only using the same note in different octaves, almost sounding organ-like. Piece number 4 of combinations utilize silence in a cheeky-sneaky way. Tilework for string quartet is a version of this work for string quartet. There is also a version for solo instruments, including bassoon. I might track down the sheet music. The fifteen pieces comprising Four Note-Chords in Four Voices are just that. Voicings of four chords across the four-string instruments. The kind of voicing creates some sort of melody or monody in the different permutations of the chord. I didn’t read much about his theorization on his music to have an unbiased ear.
    The different pieces have enough variation to not become a tedious listening experience. That being said: the music is wonderfully performed by the Bozzini Quartet. Recorded in a church, the music played has a vibrant quality, although the quartet doesn’t use vibrato on the strings. Also, the players’ enthusiasm for this music results in some minor speeding up in the first few pieces in some solo sections, adding to the liveliness of the music. Well done! Now, where did I put that Chord Catalogue? (MDS)
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AN OBLIQUE REFERENCE TO ZEROES (2CD compilation by Fourth Dimension)

Fourth Dimension Records, erstwhile based in the UK, these in Poland, is not a stranger when it comes to releasing compilations. The last two were promotions/souvenirs of concert events in London and the evenings’ participants as far as I can remember. This new one is more of an overview of the entire label and may include musicians that have not yet had releases on this label; Mad Maska and Hihroshimabend might be ones (or I might have missed them). Fourth Dimension Records is quite a diverse label for musical interests, although there are some general notes to be made. For one, there is room here for people who doodle with field recordings and laptops. Or ambient, despite the apparent Oblique reference. The Zeroes references ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ movie and that nobody is a zero. A common thread through many of these pieces is some powerful music played, heavy on rhythm, textures, voices, guitars and synthesizers. Sudden Infant, Map 71, Mitsurua Tabata, JFK & Klaska, Helm, White PeeBand Of Pain have elements from the world of noise, in whatever shape they may appear. The quieter works seem a minority, but they form a delicate balance with the louder ones (Richard Youngs, Theme with Zsolt Sores, Contrastate, or even Kleistwahr). There are leanings towards the post-punk world (Gad Whip, Hand & Leg, and Schrottenburg; Alternative TV has moved on from this with a distinctly more experimental piece of music) and very few improvised pieces of music (Band Of Pain, Ahad). Listening to this double compilation on a sunny Wednesday morning was like tuning in to an excellent (very) alternative radio station. (FdW)
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ZONA ELECTRONICA (CD compilation by Zoharum)

It seemed only a few weeks ago that I reviewed ‘Total Division’ by Theta, but it turned out to be Vital Weekly 1284. Now there is a new album by Themistoklis Altintzoglou, so I skip the introduction about his background and fly straight to the music. Theta (it spelt the Greek way, not on this keyboard) continues with his exploration of violent drone music. The guitar is his primary instrument, along with a form line of sound effects, so I assume, and maybe not as ambient metal as I thought his first was, but still, noise is a goal of his music. There are many feedback-like sounds, and (I think) Theta’s voice expresses anger, depression or such. I wasn’t all too convinced about his first release, which was a bit too noisy for me. This one I like some more. Still, the noise escapades stand too much in the way of the drones. I often think that a piece has a fine start, such as the mysterious, quiet surroundings of the fourth one (I couldn’t find titles on the cover, but on Bandcamp, it is listed as ‘Solving Dead Mist’, and I would want this to be more like this. This piece is the only piece that is without the uncontrolled noise (or, at least, boisterous to my ears), and it opens up a whole world of possibilities, snowed under by the distortion. I think with his noise approach to drone/ambient, Theta has something he can call his own, but for me, the marriage is a bit of an uneasy one.
    I had not yet encountered ORD, the musical project of Alexey Shipilov. He has a label called Status Prod. As for instruments, ORD uses singing bowls, kalyuka, voice, caratals, bells, tambourine, percussion, cajon, dan-moi, samples, effects and field recordings. He recorded various sessions at Yunost (in Voronezh, Russia), which he later mixed into the five pieces on this CD. Apparently, there is a bond to the Buddhist tradition here, which I know nothing about. However, listening to the music, I would not have missed those ritualistic tones, but I would not have said Buddhist. As someone for whom religion/meditation is something far away  (to each his own), this is not music that I can easily relate to. The rattling of bells, drums, chains, and the burning of fire out in the field, sounds not too bad, but also something that leaves me indifferent. There is a difference in observing and participating in a ritual, and here I feel like a distant observer. I can hear the music but don’t see the action. I don’t feel the results. I did enjoy it, though, perhaps oddly enough; maybe I do have a weak spot for these things?
    And lastly, a compilation CD from the Galeria CKiS Wieza Cisnien (see also Vital Weekly 1276 and 982). Hati’s Rafal Iwasnki curated the latest instalment, and all musicians are from Poland or work there. Some of these names are quite familiar (I should hope at least) to the readers of Vital Weekly, such as Ab Intra, Aquavoice, Mike Majakowski, Voices Of The Cosmos, Kamil Kowalczyk, while others seem (!) new to me, D I D, Clinamen, Kompozyt, Pin Park, Fischerle, Mammoth Ulthana and Joanna John. A few seem familiar, but I am unsure why/how/where (Jeff Gburek and Hubert Hearthertoes). What ties these musicians together is their use of electronics, be it in an ambient way, experimental, improvised (Gburek) or leaning towards techno music. It offers quite an interesting variety and a most pleasant listening session. Just like the Fourth Dimension double compilation, another tuning of alternative radio, be it that these Polish acts hardly dabble in noise. (FdW)
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LLYN Y CWN – DU Y MOROEDD (CD by Cold Spring Records)
BURIAL HEX – GAUZE (CD by Cold Spring Records)

It’s been a while since I heard music from Llyn Y Cwn Welshman Benjamin Ian Powell (Vital Weekly 1194). The title of his latest work translates as ‘the black of the sea’ and takes his field recordings on board vessels at sea and underwater, from North Wales to Greenland and the Arctic Ocean. I believe that has something to do with his day job as a scientist, so a great way to combine science and the arts. Have laptop will investigate and compose. This particular trip was to investigate World War One shipwrecks, and these shipwrecks also contained a lot of casualties.   However, the journey starts on land, with a bell from a lighthouse, that since 1922 rang every thirty seconds until August 2020; it sounds like a bell commemorating the death which lies ahead of us, deep at sea. The music is a massive piece of dark ambient music and quite rightfully again refers to fellow Welshman Lustmord. There is some massive dark space below the waves that don’t make much sense, but you can discover all sorts of small bits. There are cracks, ticks, hisses and more obscure sounds that I have no idea where they come from. At times the music sounds very spooky. Like a massive weight presses on your shoulders, and it takes a lot of strength to hold that back. Yet there are more sounds. Above that, and you are afraid that it will all collapse. Music that is all around you. You could look for a way out, but I think it’s better to stay on the inside and let it immerse you. Be in a bath with your ears below the water and enjoy what’s going on. Like with the previous release I heard from him, there isn’t much news under the sun, but I love the care of detail and the consistency put into this music.
    Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had this idea that Burial Hex was a musical project that we covered before, but we didn’t. Burial Hex is the musical project of Clay Ruby, who also works as Zodiac, Zodiac Speedcreep, Feral Love, Metrocide and Death Coast. The only album that made it to these pages, ‘Book Of Delusions’ (Vital Weekly 846), was not written by me. I hear voices, violins, rhythm machines, feedback, percussion and looking at the label’s suggestions for similarities (Coil, SPK, Psychic TV and Trepaneringsritualen), I think that works for me. I have no idea what these lyrics are about (I never do) if anything at all. There is an exciting diversity within the music that I enjoy quite a bit. Rhythm and noise play certainly a significant role in the music of Burial Hex, but its aim is not to play some mindless noise thing, but a rather varied dish of sounds. Burial Hex feeds the voice through many effects, so there’s that element of noise, but combined with a rhythm that hails from darkwave (‘Lions Breath’), adding an acceptable industrial music tag to this. All of that heavy-duty music sits next to ‘Sed Libera Nos A Malo’, a more contemplative piece of music of religious undercurrent (well, for all I know, this could be satanic mass). The fact that some of the instruments shine through here makes it even better. The violin/banjo of ‘Double Scorpio’ reminded me of John Cale. It is an all-around excellent album that made me curious to hear more. (FdW)
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This Italian trip starts with Orghanon, which name reminded me of a company in a small city nearby and spelt differently. I had not heard of this before, nor the man behind it, Sergio Calzoni. He’s active since the nineties, with projects such as Alma Mater, Act Noir, Colloquio, ILUITEQ, none of which I heard of before. In 2015 ‘Figures in Slow Motion’ was his debut album as Orghanon. He participated in the “theatre performance “F_rankenstein”, a revamped version of the Frankenstein myth produced by the acting company Officina Teatrale A_ctuar”. For a previous album, it is mentioned that he had several guest players on acoustic instruments, but I would think that the music on ‘Droneworks’ is all electronic; or may be based on field recordings, which are electronically manipulated. Calzoni aims to “induce hypnotic and meditative states. Long drones aiming to calm the mind from the background noise of our chaotic reality”. That is undoubtedly not aimed at the reviewer of music, living in a quiet street of a small town, far away from war, chaos and misery. And free from background noise, as full concentration is required for this reviewer. The title is either an easy giveaway regarding the musical content or a genuine program title. As these five pieces do exactly as the title says, I think the latter: these drones work. Each of the five pieces is a massive set of drones, slowly drifting in weightless space. There are slight traces of melodies, changing notes every few seconds, and the mood is dark. Also, in that respect, Orghanon doesn’t divert from the drone rule book. Throughout nice enough, but is that enough?
    The next one is a collaboration between Paolo Bandera, whom we know for his work in the olden days with Sigillum S, SSHE Retina Stimulants, Iugula-Thor, Ensemble Sacrés Garçons and much more and Joel Gilardini, only known in more recent times from his work with Mulo Moto and his collaboration with KK Null (Vital Weekly 1263). This new work is by their given names, and the division is that Gilardini plays the guitar and electronics, with Bandera being responsible for sampling and electronics. These electronics can easily be classified as ‘a lot of reverb’. They serve nine tracks of dystopian soundtracks. The music is dense, dark and intense. The density involves many layers of sounds, and the intensity is some of the gentlemen’s noisier approaches. Some of these sounds are quite piercing at times. The gentle guitar howls, synthesizer stabs placed in the higher frequency range, that kind of thing. The cover shows images of (nighttime) Berlin, which is not precisely the sort of place of dystopian nightmares, I should think. But let alone that, and take the music as it comes, the shaky rumbles of the bass tones, the clatter of metallic objects (Berlin’s construction sites being sampled here?), the orchestral drones of ‘Irgendwas Ist Immer Da’ or the more spacious drones of ‘Geistiges Kontinuum’ (I have no idea in which philosophical universe we have to find the titles). This is some top-heavy music, yet not one that crashes in its weight. These two men play around with some exciting diversity, and lightness shines through the dark matter here.
    LHAM is a new name, but the people behind re know; to some extent. For me, Bruno de Angelis isn’t, perhaps (though he too has a few references in these pages), but Giuseppe Verticchio is better known for his projects as with Nimh, Hall of Mirrors, and Twist of Fate. As LHAM they explore another section of the world of drones, different from the two I heard so far. If Gilardini/Bandera are at the noise end of drones, and Orghanon in a more abstract corner, then LHAM is the one that is most pleasant to hear. There is a strong emphasis on the use of guitars, but also, so I think, bass guitar, electronics, effects and, maybe, synthesizers. Guitars, however, are the main instruments here, and the two gentlemen strum it and let it ring through their machines and drift into a black space; maybe the same weightless space as the music from Orghanon, but just not as black. Imagine going to space; LHAM guides you on the first leg of the journey. Earth is behind you, yet there is light as the surface below vanishes slowly. Orghanon is when space is all dark. Gettit? LHAM likes their version of drone and ambient music to be melodic, which is rare these days. Melodic and atmospheric, going back to Eno and Apollo and people like Robert Rich and Steve Roach. At times, there is that specific ambient sound of the fourth world coming through in these eleven pieces. For me, this was the first music of today that seriously had my attention, and following a few earlier rounds with the earlier this week, this is excellent music for the early, sunny morning; ready for take off.
    So what did we miss in this ambient round? Following abstraction, noise and melody, there is Fabio Orsi, who is also about melody and rhythm. In recent years, Orsi embraced all things digital and analogue and knows a few tricks to control software synthesizers on his iPad and through Midi sync also his real synthesizers. When I say rhythm, I don’t mean a 4/4 techno beat, but the thud of bass here and there, floodlights that guide the drones, arpeggios and pads on their way through the nocturnal garden. Orsi’s rhythms are slow and peaceful. As I noticed before, Orsi these days seems to be taken a leaf or two of textbooks developed by th Berlin School. I would think Tangerine Dream is a favourite of his, but with all the man’s experience in composing electronic music, he knows how to make the music his own. Take the inspiration and not copy it. The eight tracks span a majestic seventy-five minutes, and while each of the tracks is long (seven being the shortest, almost fourteen the longest), none is too long or too repeating. There is development and drama; usually, there is darkness in these pieces and, like LHAM, music for the dawn of the day. Light starts fading in, and Orsi’s darkness with a light touch of rhythm and synth bubble, along with hot coffee, is most welcome at the start of the day. (FdW)
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PIERRE GERARD – A SIMPLE EYE (CD by Edition Wandelweiser Records)

By now, I know Belgium’s Pierre Gerard to be a guitarist who loves his silent bits, so I am hardly surprised that he found his way to Edition Wandelweiser Records. Although, the guitar no longer covers it. On the CD he recorded with Luigi Turra, Gerard plays guitars and voice, bass clarinet, harmonium, cello and electronics, while Turra is on the piano, sample and bass. Susanne Gerard also provides a voice. They recorded the music from 2009 to 2021, which I assume didn’t take them twelve years of no stop work. Given the improvised nature of the music, I would think the two of them had sessions together in these years, and this is, perhaps, what you can call a best of. However, I have no idea if these musicians agree with that notion. The diversity of the instruments leads to a different set of approaches here, which is quite interesting. Silence plays a role, but not too much. Sometimes Turri’s piano moves towards jazz circles, reminding me of Tilbury in AMM. Sometimes it all becomes a bit more electro-acoustic, with a minor role for editing techniques, and there is even space for a drone in the seventh piece (all of which are untitled). The improvisations are straightforward, and Gerard displays his sense of quietness; drop a note, stay silent, do another one, etc. But since this is embedded in the bigger picture of different instruments and the album moving back and forth, it becomes most enjoyable. The music is quiet and reflective.
    Also on his solo CD, Gerard plays various instruments; abstract voice, guitar, cello, piano, violin, bass clarinet, electronics and field recording. They don’t sound all at the same time. I have no idea how Pierre Gerrad feels about this, but oddly enough, I thought this wasn’t as Wandelweiser as I expected. Sure, he uses a fair bit of silence, but one could also say that the eight pieces here are, hold on, a kind of pop music. Not exactly the kind your kids would like, but it struck me that Gastr Del Sol must heavily inspire Gerard. He shares that similar vulnerable ground. There are a few strums on a guitar, a voice singing a few words, a few piano tones, some electronics, and a schoolyard field recording. These are events that sit linearly rather than everything at the same time. Gerard takes the Gastr Del Sol sound a bit further, adding more silence, more abstraction and fewer vocals/lyrics – abstract voice is what he calls it. At forty-five minutes, one could say this is the correct length for such a work; I wouldn’t be surprised if Gerard would rather see this on LP. While I enjoyed all of this, I think it is a bit repetitive on the ideas side. At one point, I imagined I heard all the variations of what a carefully strum and abstract voice might do, and I was hoping for a surprise change in the material. Maybe something that resembled something closer to a pop song? I don’t know. Just the sheer fact that this is different from what I heard from Gerard before and that it is quite an atypical release for this label made me enjoy this a lot. (FdW)
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For me, the name Martin Hoogeboom goes back a long time, and yet, I can’t remember the last time his name was in Vital Weekly. In the early 80s, I first heard music from his then group Dier, which was quite an odd-ball in the world of cassettes, with their rock-based sound, which we didn’t call math rock. He also ran a label, Stichting Update Materials and later on had a bunch of CDR releases, such as Six Moon Night and his real name. The last one might be ‘D-Compose in Vital Weekly 428. I assume the man continued to make music, thinking he used a guitar. I understand that Hoogeboom uses a Lyra 8 synthesizer and homemade electronics in one of the two pieces. There are two pieces on this CD, ‘Waai’ and ‘Under Snow Bushes’, each of four parts. ‘Waai’ means ‘blow’ but not in this case; here, they refer to small lakes behind the dikes of Dutch rivers when the rivers flooded. In particular, the river Eem is the inspiration behind these pieces, and I couldn’t have told you this without knowing. The music is a bit ambient like, with sustaining tones, intercepted by small ones, and I probably would have said something along the lines of this being laptop music, mixed with field recordings; the latter, of course, being birds and a bit of water (in the third part that is). I must admit I was quite surprised to learn that ‘Waai’ is a piece for guitar! This is all quite mellow music and most pleasant to hear.
    ‘Under Rose Bushes’ is the modular piece here, inspired by his parental home in an old shack in the woods. Later on, when Hoogeboom lived in an apartment, his room overlooked rose bushes, and he longed for the old house. I have no idea how old Hoogeboom is by now, but those memories must have been with him for quite some time now. Here too, I would not have guessed childhood memories being the source of inspiration. The four pieces depict life in the wood pretty well, I think. There are only a few field recordings, crackling of branches and leaves, and the music shows throughout a hectic that one sees with a microscopic look at the soil; small animals crawling about, heavily amplified by the modules – another organic connection if you think about it. Overall, a most pleasant wor, combining a quieter side of Hoogeboom’s music with a more abstracter one and a surprise for the absence of the guitar. (FdW)
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SPRUIT – RAW (CDR, private)

Following up on last year’s Repetitive Parts (reviewed in Vital Weekly 1276), Marc Spruit’s Raw has ten more minutes and has four tracks. This is industrial noise as I’ve never heard it before. All four tracks have a distinct sound design template. What happens within each track is dense, glitchy noise using all registers of the spectrum audible for the human ear. Most of the time, textures come and go or linger for a while, but there’s no static noise. All is in flux. The only human input is audible in track IV, highly warbled voices. The rest of the sounds are favourably treated. There may be more sound sources of human origin, but those are not instantly recognizable. Track 2 starts in a quieter mood, more relaxed, less frantic. Listening to all the different noises and manipulations to get the noises, it must be a hell of a job to get this detailed mix. I’m tempted to ask Marc Spruit about his method of production. Anyway, this is a release for adventurous listeners and good headphones and/or a higher-end sound system, as recommended by Spruit, are necessary to fully hear and enjoy what he has achieved with this excellent release. (MDS)
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HEIRLOOM – OCTOBER 3, 2018 (3″ CDR by Hymns)

Like the Landforms 3″ CDR (Vital 1324), this one was also released last month at the Action Research #218 show in Gainesville, FL. So it turns out that both Heirloom and Landforms performed that evening, and they both released a 3″. I can only imagine it is great to meet in real life again, listening to nice drones and sounds and stuff.
    I’ve now found out that Andrew Chadwick runs Hymns, and Heirloom is one of his many projects. This is its second release under this name, the first being the cassette ‘Portal’ on Hideous Seed in 2018. And during the release event from that tape, they recorded the show Andrew gave and guess what, it was October 3rd! So that’s the story of the title and a bit on the background of this project.
    Heirloom focuses on the sounds of bells, chimes, minimal tones and field recordings. These are recorded and played back on cassette and micro-cassette. It’s not something we’ve never heard before, so don’t expect the invention of wheels here, but it’s done very nice. The 21 minutes have a steady flow, a bit surrealistic because of the manipulation of sounds and lo-fi drones that are generated through the choice of the setup. Contact mics have a super narrow bandwidth, and because of that filtering, you always know. It’s not a bad thing, though: Together with the obvious sound of the metalwork (often resonating / singing), it forms that surrealistic atmosphere.
    “October, 3rd 2018” is not going to make it in my top list of 2022, but that’s not its intention. This is a registration of a concert, and I wish I had been there. That’s what a live registration is about, right? (BW)
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We are at cassette single 28 now, with music by Therapeutische Hörgruppe, of whom I had not heard before. The Bandcamp page isn’t forthcoming with much more information. Partly lifted from some advertisements and statements such as “focuses on the development and implementation of conceptual methods in the fields of sound art and electroacoustic music. In context of installations, performances and concerts, site-specific characteristics are investigated, integrated and thematically refined”. The website shows various concert pictures, which made me think of the laptop generation and maybe also from the two pieces of music on offer here. I was thinking of Farmers Manual. Perhaps not the same in terms of music, but certainly in their freeform approach to sound. Taking them from various sources, cutting, editing, sampling them in real-time, and cooking up two ultra-quick ditties, in which ‘Dance Tilt’ is dominated by voice and crashing low-resolution samples and has a remarkable noisy delicacy and ‘Trance Tilt’ is held together by a rather effective beat (nothing to dance here, move on). Everything else is pushed to the background. Any other label would probably have switched these around and made ‘Trance Tilt’ the A-side, but this is the world of Superpolar; they do things differently. (FdW)
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MODELBAU – MAY FLOWER (cassette by Grisaille Tapes)

It’s actually been quite recently I found out about the label Grisaille from Münster, Germany. They’re releasing only cassettes (as well as digital), and the fun thing is that they are not limiting themselves to a certain style. So amongst the 61 releases so far, you find names ranging from Richard Ramirez and Aidan Baker to Francisco Lopez and The Rita. As well as no less than five tapes from Modelbau of which the most recent is “May Flower”.
    Modelbau is, of course, Frans de Waard, known as one of the – if not thee – most prolific experimental artist from the Netherlands. Various projects solo (a.o. Shifts, Quest, Surge, Freiband) and many projects as a member – Beequeen, Wander, THU20, The Tobacconists, WaSm, Wieman and Kapotte Muziek, to name but a few. To come to the point, this man knows what he is doing. You can’t be active since the middle of the ’80s and *still* make a difference.
The design of the artwork is in sync with all the Grisaille releases. If you visit their Bandcamp (find the link under the review as always), you will see what I mean. Minimal, black & white and with a drawing or picture yet still all in the same atmospheric setting. And it’s this ‘less is more’ / uniformity that also describes the music very well.
    There are eight tracks on this cassette spanning an hour. Eight tracks that simply are called 05 + an unexplained number + the length of the track (the release “April Shower” had the same, but the tracks started with “04”). The number is probably a file number or a session or something like that because listening to the music and all tracks are simply very well conducted pieces of experimental drones. There’s not much happening, but the things happening make the compositions alive in various ways. Minimalistic electronics, looped field recordings, strings/pads of unknown origin, and slow mixing layers or added effects are all properly produced, resulting in a solid release.
    Excuse me while I go grab the other ones and listen to those too … (BW)
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TBC – NOCH MEHR TOTE (cassette by Grisaille Tapes)

Thomas Beck, also known as TBC, is a musician who has been around for ages. You may know his Wachsender Process label, but his music is relatively obscure. He’s active since the late 80s, first as H64, then as TBC, and doing fanzines and concert organising in Hamburg. His background is in noise music, which he also shows on ‘Noch Mehr Tote’ (even more death/dead). I have very little idea of what TBC does in terms of instruments, but judging these two side-long pieces, he remains firmly on the low-end side of the musical spectrum. His noise is no longer considered a shock treatment, a blast of distortion, but crumbled up very lo-fi sound sources. Are these synthesisers? I have no idea. For all I know, this could be a distorted recording of a ventilation shaft, certainly on the b-side, which, towards the end, reaches its noisy peak. I enjoyed the more mellow A-side the best here. All of this sounded mysterious as if TBC stumbled upon a melodic interference in his central heating system and decided to pick it up with a Dictaphone, low on batteries. If anything, this cassette is proof that one doesn’t need instruments; it is just a fine idea and something to record. This is Do It Yourself at its best. (FdW)
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N.HIR/RUDY DECELIERE (split cassette by Alcove)

The French Alcove label releases split cassettes. Their seventh release contains four parts of ‘Jaspe’, by n.hir, which is one of the founders of the label and on the other side, Swiss sound artist Rudy Deceliere. The label isn’t forthcoming with information on these musicians, especially on n.hir. When I listen to these four pieces, I would think that n.hir is a project for modular synthesizers. In these pieces, n.hir plays around with drones, hiss, static sounds and some of this sequenced. There is certain ambient music tendencies to be spotted in these pieces, but at the same time it also feels that it owes to the world of laptop music and musique concrète, certainly in the way he composed these pieces. I enjoyed these pieces and would like to hear some more. The other side contains music by Rudy Deceliere, and his piece spans the entire side. For this piece he uses sounds from his installations, both indoor (organs, music boxes, prepared instruments) and outdoors, the Swiss mountains. Now, here we defintely landed in the world of musique concrète, via a strong collage of sounds, in which this outdoor and indoor blends into a sound world of no boundaries. Deceliere uses some strong dynamics here, going from loud to quiet and back again. Loudness book ends the piece with, I think, some areoplane sounds and in the middle, we get stuck in a cabin with clocks, strings, broken music boxes and the windows open, so we hear the country side. Altogether a most satistying piece of field recordings, cleverly combined. (FdW)
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