Number 1329

DER DRITTE STAND – UNTITLED (CD by Not Applicable) *
MARTIN WEINREICH – POINTS OF ENTRY (1989-1995) (CD by Hauch Records) *
ANADOL – FELICITA (LP by Pingipung) *
LULL – MOMENTS (2LP by Cold Spring) *
JOWE HEAD – SWELL MAPS 1972-1980 (book by Sounds On Paper)
ALAN RIDER – TALES FROM THE GHOST TOWN (book by Fourth Dimension)


Wow, this is massive music, like in M-A-S-S-I-V-E. It comes down like 100 tons of bricks. You could compare the mood to Wagner or Branca. A huge wall of sound builds across the first piece, ‘Ein Sof’. Which reminisces the orchestral doom ambient we heard from the likes of In Slaughter Natives, Deutsch Nepal and others (not so much from Ain Soph themselves, they were on a different trip). Ein Sof indicates the beginnings of things when there was ‘nothing’ that at the same time included everything (some people call that ‘god’), something the piece invokes in sound. In the second piece, ‘When the war began (very fitting for the current times), Vassalo does not bother to have the piano player. It is virtually hammered, and not only in this piece. If I was to perform this music, I would be genuinely worried about the piano, to be honest…
    How come? We read that Vassalo ‘picked up the guitar at high school and started the Bay Area version of ‘deathcore’ – or even was its inventor. Now he has a PhD and teaches music, besides composing his own. He also practices and teaches martial arts. I am not sure I wanted to know the latter details, but they may be relevant to this release. The names of his children rather not, I think. Why put them in album liner notes …
    Back to the music. It has far more nuances than I inferred initially. It is distinctly orchestral. It is definitely pompous (not in a negative sense), but it also works with large variations in volume and pitch. As the first piece builds to its first climax, the music starts with a murmur, then adds layers and sounds until it blares into a huge brass chord. The frequencies are stunning. Track 4 begins with a low rumble that would make Lustmord pale. As Vassalo states: no electronics, the acoustic instruments driving at creating the same impact as effect pedalboards, a bit like Zeitkratzer in approach. The instrumentation sticks with brass, percussion, hammered piano (the poor thing…), and choir. And something profound, like a ship siren. In reminiscence of old times (I guess), an electric guitar and drum set join in in track 4, nevertheless organically merging into the overall score. The orchestral version of Procol Harum’s ‘A Salty Dog’ comes to mind, Grieg’s ‘Peer Guint’, Stravinsky, Orff.
    Soundtracks to doom-laden images are conjured up reading the liner notes with explanations on the tracks. This is where the martial arts supposedly come in again. The music would stand by itself without any soundtrack ambitions. Albeit all this (maybe disregard the cover when listening to this music the first time), the album sounds surprisingly fresh and exciting, hinting at industrial, doom metal, and death ambient references whilst developing its totally own toolbox of really impressive sounds. (RSW)
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Der Dritte Stand is a new improvised music trio from Berlin. Matthias Mueller (trombone), Matthias Bauer (double bass) and Rudi Fischerlehner (percussion) all have names that are derived from professions (miller, farmer, fisher). So they named themselves as a group according to the medieval ‘third class’, the common people, or plebs.
    The music is located somewhere between free music, free jazz and improvised music. There are subtle differences between the three, maybe sometimes too subtle to make a difference. Here we find three musicians jointly developing the musical lines. The pieces are named in German and are difficult to translate – they form an arc of tension from ‘Einstand’, the first piece (beginnings; actually this is the small party a newcomer to a job treats his new colleagues too), to ‘Zustand’ (the givens), to finally ‘Ausstand’, which is when you leave the company and again give a small party. In between we have some other puns on ‘xx-stand’, all playing on the band name.
    The trombone can be quite a dominating instrument. In the first and third pieces (Einstand and Zustand) this is the case, with the trombone leading the pack. The other pieces are more finely crafted with the bass (often bowed) and percussion creating a delicate fabric. Into which the trombone only carefully and hesitantly merges. The last piece is a long drawn low-key ‘drone’ on all three instruments. This is music that somewhat touches on experimental music using ‘object sounds’ as percussionist Fischerlehner uses many objects for sounds whilst Mueller uses the trombone to create all kinds of wind and breathing sounds. (RSW)
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Pathos Trio is quite an unusual set of musicians, comprising of piano (Alan Hankers, also a composer) and two percussionists (Marcelina Suchocka and Felix Reyes). They have a mission of ‘bringing adventurous music’ to classical and contemporary music listeners. Hear, hear. This is the first long-player recording of the Trio and features five pieces they commissioned for their set of instruments. It appears that Four/Ten Media filmed the recording sessions (?), but no mention is made anywhere whether and where these video recordings might be available. I did find some on, though. As I will remark a little later, some actions would have been nice to hear and see. The cover puts you off initially. The artwork is a bit cheesy and suggests a synth-pop release. Not sure this was intended as a deviation, though.
    The first piece is by Evan Chapman, himself a percussionist, but also filmmaker (with Four/Ten Media) and member of the project Square Peg Round Hole, a percussion/electronics trio that might be familiar to some. His piece ‘Fiction of Light’ creates an expert flurry of sound, replicating the impression of light through leaves, of wavering heat over summer meadows. I have remarked in an earlier review that the piano as such has quite a percussive sound, so its combination with ‘real’ percussion is maybe not so outlandish after all. Unfortunately, it breaks out into an unexplained eruption of Ant-Zen-ish industrial techno/Nu-Metal rhythm track that could better have been left out of the piece. Maybe he ran out of ideas at around eight minutes worth of score. A pity, as the effect initially created is quite stunning.
    The second piece, ‘Prayer Variations’ by Alison Yun-Fei Jiang is a long, pensive piece that takes its time to develop until it reaches full volume, breaks into arpegios, climaxes again and fades away. The third, by Alyssa Weinberg, ‘Delirious Phenomena’, is intriguing as you at first do not quite understand what is going on. It gradually dawns on you that the piano itself is being used as the instrument for all three performers. Piano wires are hammered, plucked, the body knocked on, and somehow, I could not really identify a bowing sound. I would have been really curious to see how this was performed.
    ‘Oblivious/Oblivion’ by Finola Merivale, an Irish composer, addresses climate change and the anger at the slowness the world leaders respond to it. I do not find anything in the piece that might support this claim, but it is easily the best one on this release. As with the ‘adventurous music’ the Trio wants to ‘bring’ to its audience, the loading of music with a meta-layer of content is not always fruitful – not that I do not sympathise with Mervale’s mission …
    Alan Hankers’ own composition ‘Distance between places’ attempts to simulate city sound complexities and their (simplified) memories. Again, I cannot quite confirm the (meta-)concept actually works. Maybe I am too dumb. I found the ‘complex’ sound layers not so complex at all, and although some rumblings in between might have been simulating the same sounds with closed windows, the repetition towards the end of the piece did not quite seem that. Forget the context, listen to the music ‘as such’, and you will enjoy it very much more.
    This is an interesting release as it brings together many firsts: first recording by this trio, first recordings of compositions (I know of) of four out of the five composers, the first time I come across parallel audio recordings and videos as part of a single art project (excluding music videos as such, of course) but not on one release – it would have been nice to have everything together on a DVD? idea? (RSW)
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MARTIN WEINREICH – POINTS OF ENTRY (1989-1995) (CD by Hauch Records)

Somehow, the name Martin Weinreich sounds familiar somewhere, but I have no evidence of hearing his music before. ‘Points Of Entry’ is his debut album, so probably I didn’t, but I also found nothing about bands he is or was a member of. Odd, maybe I thought of someone else. I assume, though, that Weinreich has been around for some time, as he works that this “release is the result of an investigation of images, sounds and memories from three decades prior, which were used a source material”. In the extensive booklet, he mentions his enablers, “Blind Idiot God, Front 424, fugazi, Morbid Angel, Ministry, NoMeansNo, Nitzer Ebb, Unsane, Throbbing Gristle, Public Enemy”, and more, but I am sure this gives you an idea. Or, perhaps not. Each track gets a separate page with concise text and an image in the pitch-black booklet and may not always give a clue. Whatever Weinreich wants, he doesn’t want to sound like the bands that were at one point enabling him (to do what, exactly? Get into their music or get in a notion of creating something in that field himself? I am not sure). At thirty-seven minutes, this is not a very long album, and still, it has fifteen pieces of music. The music left me in a pleasant state of confusion. I played the album three times in a row and still had a minimal idea of what this is all about. There are drones, rhythm machines, cut-ups, montage techniques, voice cut-ups, traces of industrial music, noise, musique concrète, yet it never is fully one thing or another. You could hear the bands that inspired him if you want, yet it nowhere gets very obvious. It is a pity that some of these pieces are on the short side, as I am convinced that various pieces could have been constructed into a more significant piece. Now there is only the promise of that. Maybe, Weinreich intended this to be fragmented, a further cut-up of past influences. I might be entirely wrong, but I would think Weinrich’s music is all about deconstructing his influences, effectively creating another take of musique concrète techniques and applying these to industrial music, EBM and other groups of the heavy variation of yesteryear. Excellent release, also because of the presentation. (FdW)
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Martin Archer played in uncountable combinations and lineups over the years. However, not in a classic trio formation of bass, drums and saxophone. Although Archer had a persistent desire to make a trio-recording, he needed time to find suitable companions. He found them in the persons of Walt Shaw and Michael Bardon. Walt Shaw is a percussionist with whom he has worked already very often. Shaw is a multi-disciplinary artist, an experimental percussionist who worked with Sheffield-based projects like Engine Room Favourites, Juxtavoices and Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere. The third member is Michael Bardon, who first came into the picture after Archer heard Bardon’s solo playing, as documented recently on Bardon’s marvellous first solo album ‘The Gift of Silence’. A classic lineup, not with the sax positioned in the traditional role of the dominant soloist. All three players make their mark in what is often more a group improvisation. Immediately evident in the opening phase of the first improvisation, ‘Rotten Star’. All three equally take part in carefully building up an intertwined conversation. ‘Evabje’ starts in an answer-response manner, with short gestures by Shaw and Bardon as a response to Archer’s statements.
    ‘Walt Blues’ is an excellent blues with nice bass lines by Bardon, sometimes in a battle with Archer. ‘See you soon or see you sometime’ kicks off very spirited and exciting. Great interplay and very together. An improvisation with many breathtaking moments. I hope they continue their collaboration as a trio! (DM)
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It is, of course, tempting to read the current situation in the music of Ukrainian composer Kotra, also known as Dmytro Fedorenko. The aggressive beats, the deep and piercing synthesizer, and the blast of the music could be the soundtrack of a war and composed inside in a bunker. But Fedorenko is based in Berlin, and effectively follows a very consistent trajectory as Kotra. Or even in much of his work as Variát or his project with Kateryna Zavoloka, Cluster Lizard. You could call their work ‘the legacy of Pan Sonic’. The differences between projects aren’t that big. As Variát, Fedorenko uses ‘real’ instruments, as Kotra it is all electronic. The outcome is loud music, the jackhammer beats of industrial music, but with a groove. Keyboards are not used to play gentle melodies but fierce stabs at drones, and the variations are generated by opening and closing filters. I guess this is dance music in some way. It means one has to crank up the volume to immerse oneself in the groove fully. Not something one easily does at home (alright; not me in my old house and neighbours complaining), but in a club: yes, I can see sweaty bodies moving about. I found all this most enjoyable, even for regular home consumption. Kotra’s pieces are long, going from seven to eleven minutes, but there is no monotony. The music is on an endless role, so it seems, constantly moving about, going into different pastures, and with each new track, Kotra offers a new variation. Quite the hypnotic music is going on here. (FdW)
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Much to my surprise, I reviewed Tenhornedbeast before (Vital Weekly 1085), and the three previous ones were reviewed by someone else. I totally forgot about it. Behind Tenhornedbeast we find Christopher Walton, who has been silent since ‘Death Has No Companion, the album that introduced me to his music. I planned a different introduction for this review, but let me do that bit also. I played the music without giving one second to the information here. Partly because I really like the music and I didn’t want to ‘spoil’ it with too much information. I know many of the releases from Cold Spring have their toes into a world that isn’t mine. Rituals, pagan or otherwise, runes, occultism, yadda yadda. And there’s me, someone who likes to dispense with any direction for the listener; the old absolute versus program music thing (if you have no idea, look it up). “TenHornedBeast is a vehicle for the sinister current that is woven through life. If Christ is the Light of the World and hymns are sung to him in the Minster, then my hymns should be heard in the crypt, where the Doom Stone radiates its No-Light. Without darkness, the light is meaningless”. So, you know what I mean. However, it doesn’t cloud my judgment. As much as the musician wants this to be part of it, I have the same level of freedom to ignore this. There is no additional information about the instruments used, except that guitars and bass are mentioned, and reverb. There is plenty of that; in fact, a truckload of it. I am sure I may have mentioned that I am not particularly fond of reverb and that it can be seen as an easy device to create dark ambient music. That is what Tenhornedbeast does, and yet, as said, I quite enjoyed the results he comes up with. I mentioned last time that music needs to find the right moment and that hot weather isn’t necessarily the right sort of thing for the chilled ambience of, say, Tenhornedbeast. Today it’s still mild springtime, but with lots of sun and still (!) I enjoyed this. Maybe I happen to be in the mood or state of mind to receive the ominous dark tones from Tenhornedbeast? The music sustains and rings loudly through reverb, hammers deep into the mind and is spooky as hell (oops, can I say that?). Beautifully scary stuff. (FdW)
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Joseph Nechvatal expanded on the techniques used in The Viral SymphOny (2006-2008) and made two more suites with the assistance of Andrew Deutsch and used the first one ( OrlandO et la tempete viral symphOny redux suite) as a soundtrack during an exhibition of the accompanying art (or the other way around) which is track 2 of the record. Nechvatal uses a virus-like model to mutate the sound sources. In Orlando, the voice is an anonymous reading of excerpts and quotes from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography, a tale about a boy that transforms into a woman at the age of 30 during Elizabethian times and lives to be 300 years old, meeting key figures of English literature. Using artificial life models mimicking how viruses replicate and mutate their host cells, all audio information can be mutated, permutated, transformed or mangled with or without hearing traces of the source. Nechvatal uses the same methods to get virally created visuals. If you want to read more about this, I can recommend Immersion into Noise, a book by Nechvatal explaining his theory behind all this in full detail. All theory aside, the main question is: how does it sound? In one word: superb. The voice reading the text is sometimes doubled with an alien affected version of itself, repetitive figures in the xylophone come and go, bleeps and blurps fly through the stereo images. At the same time, in the background, a noise drone develops. The next moment, an organ drone appears. It all flows quite organically. The other suite uses a controversial radio play written by Antonin Artaud in 1947 as input or host for the virus model. It was the last radio play Artaud wrote and produced. He died a month later. The head of the radio station deemed the radio play too controversial as it mentioned all kinds of bodily fluids and excrements and anti-American sentiments. Artaud significantly influences Nechvatal and many other artists in literature, art, theatre, and music. John Zorn used several texts from Artaud as an inspiration to compose pieces of music. The second suite is much noisier and more ambient because the original radio play is much noisier and the musical sources are much more stretched out in some sections. Sentences are cried out instead of spoken, percussion, and again xylophone, but this time from the original radio play. This kind of experimentation with artificial life programming could easily result in harsh and impenetrable concrete walls of noise. Here that’s not the case. It might be due to the modelling or the mastering, but there’s a kind of spaciousness in all the suites resulting in a delightful listening experience. The mastering of the record is marvellous. Kassian Troyer did a tremendous job. The sound image is quite complex and could easily sound muddy, although this could then be attributed to the influence of the virus, of course. Small but important detail: Nechvatal has capitalized the O in titles since 1983. The double record is available in a limited pressing of 200. It is highly recommended for adventurous listeners who aren’t afraid to get infected by an audio virus. (MDS)
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ANADOL – FELICITA (LP by Pingipung)

Back in Vital Weekly 1193, I was pleasantly by Gözen Atila, a Turkish sound artist and photographer based in Berlin, working as Anadol. I reviewed her third record, or it was perhaps her second; I see ‘Felicita’ being the third LP mentioned on Discogs. This music is not something that I hear a lot and perhaps falls a bit inside or outside what Vital Weekly writes about. Part of that has to do with the cultural background of Atila and her influences. She mentions, “Turkish Pop and Arabesk music from this country where I grew up. There is a connection to folk and also French pop or Flamenco, Middle Eastern melodies and orchestration, Greek adaptations, Kenny G. solos, American guitars”, to which I could add improvisation, and krautrock. I love the rolling opener here, ‘Gizli Duygular’, with its ongoing rock rhythm and dub-like approach to some sounds; very krautrock like in my ears. Anadol works with Turkish musicians, who provide jazz and rock influences, while Anadol adds voices and synthesizers. With many such influences, it is perhaps not really strange that the album drifts in many directions. ‘Eciflere Gel’ is a moody jazz noir piece, a song from a seventies tv series; if only I watched more TV back then, I could mention a great title. ‘Ablamin Gözleri’ has the silliest of rhythm machines, but it works very well, again moody and poetic. ‘İstasyon Plajında Bir Tren Battı’ is the longest piece, taking up much of the second side and has a leading role for the tenor saxophone, and is a bit too much improvisation for my taste. It surely has nice moments that could have held the piece together, but Anadol seems interested in taking these structures down. ‘Felicita Lale’ is the closing piece, more uptempo than the rest, with some irresistible melodies and voices. A ray of sunlight beams right through here. Apart from the most extended piece, that wasn’t my cupper, I enjoyed this record quite a bit. No longer the surprise release that was the first one I heard, but more clever plundering of genres ideas and melting it into a highly personal sound. (FdW)
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If you never had the chance to play the pipe organ in church, you may not understand its appeal. Even a shitty organ, not in a cathedral, will bring out a massive sound. Why anyone would want to modify a pipe organ, I don’t know. However, here pipe organs are modified and midified. The latter implies that midi controllers are used to extracting different sounds from the instrument and maybe also to control mechanical artefacts. Nothing is wasted by the three players here, of which only the name Jonas Olesen rings a bell. He has a bunch of conceptual records available. None of the organs used on this record was recorded in a church, so cavernous reverb plays no role. Au contraire, the sound is relatively dry and small. There are in total six pieces on this record, and they don’t inhabit the world of all immersive drone music. What it is, is something that isn’t as easy to define. The title piece reminds me of a group of improvising musicians working on sounding like a busy zoo. There is more a musique concrète approach to be noted in other pieces, of heavily reworked organ sounds. The organ in the three pieces on side B has a more vocalized sound, mechanical perhaps but at the same time warm enough and entirely orchestral at times. And yet, the music also has an alien feeling, something tough to put into words. Maybe distant as well, but it is an attractive distant character. I found this record at times most enjoyable, a bit annoying, strange and comforting. Not all simultaneously, obviously, but over these thirty-something minutes, quite the emotional roller coaster. It certainly shattered my expectations regarding the whole notion of pipe organs. (FdW)
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LULL – MOMENTS (2LP by Cold Spring)

The other week I was reading ‘Electronic Boy’, the autobiography of David Ball. Not because I am the world’s biggest fan of Soft Cell, but partly because I’ll read any book about music, and I love autobiographies (Phil Collins’ one I recommend, Bruce Dickinson’s to avoid; so you get a drift of my scope). I always wondered what Ball did post the short-lived Soft Cell story; I wasn’t aware of his work with dance music as The Grid. Ball’s arrival in dance music is due to his acquaintance with Genesis P-Orridge, Psychic TV. They did some work together, briefly mentioned in the book, doing a soundtrack for Derek Jarman. ‘Imagining October’ is a short film, partly shot in the Eisenstein Museum in Moscow, Vladimir Mayakovsky’s grave at Novodevichy Cemetery, the GUM department store facing the red square, and the fire temples of Baku in Azerbaijan and painting sequencers with actors in London; “The heroism of revolution through the queered lens”. There is a short clip on YouTube (if you are over 18, that is). I understand that Jarman gave some notes, and Ball and P-Orridge improvised some electronics. This one-sided record contains four pieces. Electronics courtesy of synthesizers, samples of orchestral instruments in ‘Imagining October II’, also some telephones that I may have heard on one of the first PTV LPs. Even without the images, the music is quite strong. Sure, the element of improvisation isn’t too far away, as the compositions aren’t too tight, but it works quite well. This music has a great sense of desolation, especially when the samples are voices from, so I assume, communist choirs. Slow music for what, thinking again, is a quiet narrative. It is a pity that this is all too brief. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more of this. An etching on the B-side is lovely, but more music is better.
    The other new release is a re-issue. ‘Moments’ was already on CD in 1998, and while it was one long piece of music, the CD had 99 index points for your random pleasure. There are 100 (99 is the maximum for CDs), but how do you randomly play these from vinyl? I have yet to work out. I reviewed the CD back in Vital Weekly 140. Lull is Mick Harris, once of Napalm Death, later of Scorn. Lull was (is?) his deep ambient project. At the end of the century, we called this Isolationist music, which may have had various shapes, but Lull certainly was at the deep end of it all. His music was all about filtering out as many mid to high frequencies he could get away with and then giving the low bass end a few twirls, so there would be sufficient variation at work. With this approach, Harris had things very well under control. You could play this music at a shock and awe volume, inducing earthquakes; I didn’t do that, as I enjoy this on a moderate volume. Now, your room/space fills up with these low-end rumblings, and it becomes a more natural part of your environment. The variation within these small pieces is more than I remember from the CD version, usually lasting thirty seconds to a minute, with exceptions well below or above that. I am not convinced that vinyl is the best sound carrier for such low-end music. Perhaps, the CD format is more suited for such an experience, I thought. But this one surely is one of them when it comes to classic moments (pun intended) of historic isolationist music. (FdW)
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This cassette introduces me to two Italian music projects; Chelidon Frame (digital and analogue synths, field recordings, samples, keyboards and drones) and Discontinuation Of Treatment (digital synths, drums programming, vocal samples and keyboards). The first has a couple of releases on such labels as Humanhood and Sounds Against Humanity, and the second just one digital release. In November 2021, they locked themselves up in the studio to develop live improvisations. In the end, they had two pieces that are now this cassette; there is also something on YouTube for trainspotters when it comes to equipment. I am not a visual-oriented person, so I switched that off and just concentrated on the audio. The vocal samples must be understood as ‘taking voices of media sources, films, documentaries and such like’. They are buried in the mix, which I quite enjoyed. Along with the many synthetic sounds, the music reminded me of the ambient music of the nineties. Usually, it came with the addition ‘house’ to ambient, but this is not ambient house. The drums play a small role and never becomes a dance rhythm. The music is improvised, that is clear as there is sometimes a bit of a loss of focus, but since we’re dealing with big washes of synthesizers, digitally treated field recordings of insects, the occasional digital drumming, one hardly notices this. Sound effects are used a lot and fill every space in the music. Voices are not to be understood but have the same role as the rest of the sounds, and that is sound. They play a significant role, and sometimes I thought there were too many voices. There are moments where they could have dispensed with the voice material. Especially the A-side reminded me of Silent Records, in the nineties and at their most experimental. The other side is a tad more experimental and a bit noisier at times, but I equally enjoyed this on the same level. One hour of solid, experimental ambient music, with some flaws, but such is the nature of the live aspect of the music. (FdW)
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The older I get, the less I need to travel, and I feel more and more I’d like to be at home. Reading a book, listening to music, watching a movie. Someone recently sent me a link to a short video of a drone flying over Hong Kong. Where maybe twenty years ago I would have thought this a place I’d like to visit, I now feel I am sure I will never see the city in my life. When Cristiano Luciani offered to send his massive photo book on Thailand, along with an online selection of two hours of field recordings, I told him that more and more, I feel I have very little to say about the whole nature of field recordings, especially when it comes to places I never visited. I never felt the littlest inclination to visit Thailand, and what I know about the country is best to be described as platitudes. Buddhist temples, sex workers, jungle, busy streets and good food. Luciano first visited the country in 2013 as an escape to depression and suicide (attempt, I assume; Nick Zedd’s afterword is sketchy on this point), and since then, he returned every year until 2020. He collected lots of photographs and recordings, compiled in this book. I found both the images and the sounds fascinating, even when not having visited. I realise that any slice anyone offers from any place is highly personal. Luciani travels the country up and down, from the jungle to the sex workers, night sounds of animals, street and market sounds, women singing or even a piece of ‘having sex with a unknown girl I’ve met at the club Insomnia’. That is the title of one of the two pieces of the heavily limited 7″ that Luciano also released as part of this project. The other side has the recording of a waterfall; I can see the connection. I guess that along with ‘Me and Manirat play around in bed – Phuket’, makes this a very personal project; at least, I don’t know of many field recording artists who would put such stuff out there. The visual side is as personal, I think. Showing us snapshots of animals, temples, girls, sex clubs and some of this with some excellent psychedelic colourisation; I’d say very trippy, but that sounds like a bad pun. It is, at times, tough to say if Luciani treated all these photos or just some of them, but it works very well. Does it look or sound like Thailand? I have no idea. Do I wish to visit the place? I don’t know. Had one asked me earlier in the week, I’d said, probably not. Looking at these pictures and listening to these sounds, I’d say, why not? But I doubt I ever will. Maybe I am satisfied as I am, at home, with books and music. (FdW)
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JOWE HEAD – SWELL MAPS 1972-1980 (book by Sounds On Paper)
ALAN RIDER – TALES FROM THE GHOST TOWN (book by Fourth Dimension)

Books! I love ‘m. Here are two I recently read, and while for one of these, the musical scope might be outside our musical spectrum, it deserves some attention. I am, of course, talking about the book Swell Maps. This rather short-lived band is still highly influential. In the last pages, there are a few testimonials from ‘famous’ music from Sonic Youth, Pavement, The Membranes, Stereolab, Cornershop about how hearing Swell Maps changed their life. Swell Maps didn’t have a  similar effect for me, as I came rather late to their music. Sure, iI saw the name Swell Maps around when I was young and reading the overground music press, but young also equals ‘no money to buy every record that looked interesting’. Only when music exchange through the internet allowed for (finally!) investigating all that you missed did I hear Swell Maps for the first. This group with brothers Niki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks (both deceased), Richard Earl, Golden Cockrill, Phones Sportsman, and Jowe Head (I am giving you their pseudonyms) started in 1972, disbanded in 1980. By then, they played two hands full of concerts and maybe two well-received records, ‘A Trip To Marineville’ and ‘… In “Jane From Occupied Europe”‘. Their music is not easy to describe but has an excellent mix of weirdness, psychedelic, post-punk, punk and experiment. The main text is by Jowe Head, who has a most pleasant style. In different colouring, there are quotes by the others, but sadly it is nowhere explained where these quotes are from. Certainly not from recent interviews in the cases of Sudden and Soundtracks, who died in 2006 and 1997, respectively. All members weren’t exactly the sort of people who followed trends but followed their personal likes and dislikes, ranging from Marc Bolan to Stockhausen and back to Krautrock, which showed in their approach to music. Technical proficiency wasn’t the big thing; enthusiasm was. They worked in various configurations and often learned new songs on the spot. They self-released a 7″ in good punk spirit, which caught them recording more albums for Rough Trade, a couple of John Peel Sessions. But as these things with highly creative personalities, they got into arguments about whose songs to record, personalities, and stuff that happens with bands on tour. They went different ways in 1980, following a disastrous Italian tour. They all went on to play music, also detailed here. Furthermore there are press cuttings, colour plates, a gig-o-graphy, a discography and a 7” with some of the earliest home recordings. I am not sure if they will serve as the best introduction if you have never heard Swell Maps before, but the rough ‘n tumble pieces here show some of this band’s great spontaneity, so why not? The design is great, but the A4 sized book could have been a bit smaller for reading convenience.
    Following his massive documentation of his ‘Adventures in Reality’ fanzine and label as an almost 500-page book (see Vital Weekly 1281), Alan Rider stays with fanzines for his new book. Again close to home, as he dives into the history of fanzines in Coventry, where’s he from. This is quite a different book than his first, which contained scans of all fanzine issues, and each issue got an extensive introduction text. The new book lists all the Coventry fanzines he knows about and discusses the publications, the editors, layout, and content. When in his possession, he shows us the front cover and a few extra pages (some too small to read) in a few cases. Obviously, for page and money reasons, not all issues can be fully shown, which is a great pity (well, being an OCD sucker for these things). I don’t want to read about what I already know, and I want to discover something new. In that respect, his previous book was a great source, still being scavenged. The book starts with an introduction by Horace Panter of The Specials, Coventry’s pop claim to fame, followed by a chapter about the Coventry music scene in 1979, the year the first fanzine saw the light of day. Then there are a couple of fascinating interviews, starting with Martin Bowes. We know him best as the man behind Attrition (not very oft seen in these pages, but a damn fine group), but he has the first fanzine in Coventry, Alternative Sounds. Also, there’s an interview with Miles Ratledge and Nic Bullen, who had a fanzine Anti-Social and Bullen a plethora of others, primarily one-off with mostly collages and political text. Together they started the band Napalm Death. Both were very young, around 14 at the time. The central part of the book is the comprehensive part, from ‘Adventures Close To Home’ to Your Favourite Bedtime Story’. As said, mostly with front covers, and each gets an informative text. With Rider being part of the scene, some of these comments are highly personal, showing some of the factions we had back then (‘you are not part of this scene’ or ‘that band isn’t punk’). Some fanzines were clear reactions to others, with all anger and jealousy. I think it’s a great read. However, it is also just a big tease. I understand that a book with complete scans would be a very costly affair and that ‘start a website with downloadable PDF’ isn’t the sort of thing a book publisher wants to hear, but it could be the next best thing to satisfy such suckers for completeness as myself. (FdW)
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