Number 1332

JOHAN BERTHLING – BJÖRNHORN (CD by Thanatosis Produktion) *
LE UN – LE HAVRE (CD, private) *
LINNEA TALP – ARCH OF MOTION  (CD by Thanatosis Produktion) *
BOH, DE KOMPLETE UITGAVEN (book & CD by Korm Plastics)
TIM OLIVE & MATT ATKINS – DISSIPATIO (cassette by Steep Gloss) *
MATT ATKINS – THE CONCRETE PRESENT (cassette by Dasa Tapes) *
DEL STEPHEN – GIROLANDO (cassette by Vacancy Recs) *
DEL STEPHEN – HAVE I WARPED TOO SLOWLY? (cassette by Vacancy Recs) *
HEART STRUCTURE QUARTET – SOUL HORSES (cassette by Vacancy Recs) *
6X10=60 VOLUME THREE (cassette by Korm Plastics D)
EDGARS RUBENIS – SLOW LIGHTNING (cassette by Dis Ce Que) *
CRÍA CUERVOS – BOVARISM (cassette by Joy De Vivre) *
JOB HISTORY – OPEN AVAILABILITY (cassette by Hens Ear) *

JOHAN BERTHLING – BJÖRNHORN (CD by Thanatosis Produktion)

The name of Johan Berthling sounded so familiar that I was surprised to learn that ‘Björnhorn’ is his first solo release. Maybe I was thinking of Andreas Berthling, with whom Johan is part of Tape. Berthling is also a member of Time Is A Mountain, Fire!, Arashi, etc. Berthling plays the double bass and uses his fingers and a bow. The sound is deep and majestical when the latter is used, even when not the slowest of playing. There is an acoustic drone feeling to the music here that works very well. That is the one approach. The other calls for plucking the strings, Berthling has a slightly more melodic approach. It is also owing to the world of jazz music. The balance is three of those and four with bowed sounds. Of the three, one is, apparently, a cover of Charlie Haden’s ‘For Turiya’, which I didn’t hear before, but which is a lovingly delicate and reflective piece of music. It contrasts with the final ‘Björnhorn VI’, which is almost an attempt at sawing the double bass in two. This dual approach works quite well for me. I may not be the most jazz or improvised minded music lover, but here is the variety that works very well for me. This CD has seven powerful and highly varied pieces of music, and it all gives a great insight into the sound world of Berthling. It all calls for a second solo release! (FdW)
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Hans Otte was a German composer who introduced Steve Reich, LaMonte Young, Conlon Nancarrow, Terry Riley, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel and John Cage to European audiences a biennial festival dedicated to new music. With John Cage, he struck up a friendship. Kristine Scholze knew both composers intimately, and on this release, she plays one-third of the Book of Sounds (Buch der Klänge) (1979-1982) by Otte and Music for Piano 4-19 (1953) by John Cage. The pieces by Hans Otte sound very conventional at first, almost too pretty. Closer listening reveals minor imperfections in sound, for example, in the second piece. It’s not mechanically played and has a very nice human touch. The broken chords in the third piece, or should I say slow intervals that sound like broken chords, are beautiful and wonderfully played. I think this is music composed forty years ago and should be reviewed along historical lines. His object was to create pure sound using the piano. John Cage tried the same, sound for sound’s sake, but through different means. Music for Piano 4-19 was composed as a musical background for Merce Cunningham’s choreography entitled Solo Suite in Space and Time. Cage instructed the performer to pluck the strings for some notes. All musical parameters (dynamics, tempi, character, quality of sound) except for the actual pitch are left to the performer. This makes for a different piece – pieces, I should say- altogether to these ears more adventurous and experimental. All pieces on this release are played beautifully and with intent. Seek this one out, and you won’t regret it. I, for one, would like to see (and hear) the complete Music for Piano cycle (84 pieces in total) be played by Kirstin Scholz. (MSD)
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It’s unclear who said ‘Writing about music is like dancing about architecture’, but I was thinking about it, as the music here is to be used in a choreographic dance of a radio lecture by French philosopher Michel Foucault. I have no idea what the radio lecture is about. Laurent Pernice was invited to compose the music, and since it deals with words and thus breath, he chose wind instruments for the music, inviting Dominique Beven to play a variety of those; Irish flutes, alto clarinet, bass recorder, ocarina,  Khen, a diatonic accordion and much more. Pernice uses sound effects and adds flute sounds on one piece and double bass, bullroarer, and trombone on the next. There are fifteen pieces in total, and there is, perhaps, thanks to the variety of instruments, also a great variety in the music. There is some great pacing here, with none of these pieces overtly long, usually between two and four minutes. There is, luckily, no spoken word here, as I would think that would distract from the music too much, and as such, the music is to be enjoyed by itself. Beven sometimes has a slightly more improvised feeling, such as ‘L’instant D’après’. Still, he mostly goes for a more sustaining sound, a drone-like approach, which Pernice enhances with his sound effects, creating vast spaces full of melancholy, drama, and atmospheres. I have no idea what Foucault says in his radio lecture, nor what the dance looks like. I severe myself from all of that, and the French titles remain untranslated as far as I am concerned and, perhaps very post-modern, take the music at face value. This album is a meeting point of improvisation, musique concrète, of ambient, ranging from wild to reflective, from cheerful to sad. At least, that’s how I perceived it. Whichever piece ends up in the podcast, it may not reflect the overall variety on offer, just a glimpse. (FdW)
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These are the two most recent releases from New Focus Recordings, not related in many aspects but very much related in others. How so?
    Christopher Trapani is a USAmerican composer originally hailing from New Orleans. He has studied music, including a doctorate, at USAmerican universities and spent considerable time studying abroad (France) and composing and performing commissioned works in France, the UK, Germany, and Italy. His interests lie in string instruments – his website cites mandolines and microtones, folk music elements, and the concept of ‘time’.
    As it is not immediately audible, something that gets lost on the recordings is the mixing of instruments played live with electronic processing. Track 1 ‘Targul’ is dedicated to the Romanian ‘violin with horn’, similar to the Stroh violin, able to amplify and project the violin sound. The piece plays with folk music elements, looping and repeating the live sound through speakers and a snippet of a marching band towards the end. The layering and movement of sound make for interesting listening, and you could not say whether this was composed or improvised. ‘Horizontal Drift’ uses a similar approach with a soloist guitar playing in quarter tones ‘against’ a backdrop of slowed loops. Unfortunately, this hardly kept my attention, sounding more like a noodling exercise.
    What intrigued me was the centre Triptych piano piece ‘Lost Time’. 3 ‘movements’ with titles picked from Bob Dylan’s songs show some wit, both in the compositions (music and length, the ‘Time is a jet plane’ fittingly only lasting 32 seconds) and the choice of titles. You could call the style somewhere between Impressionism and Expressionism, Debussy and Ravel. ‘Linear A’ (interestingly reading ‘Linear A.mp3’ on disk) is a wind instrument piece, as is ‘Forty-Nine’, and the final track ‘Tesserae’ returns to the violin. All of them are supported/complemented by electronics and exploring harmonics and the essence of sound. The electronics are not recognisable as they are used to live-process the instrument sound – which, again, demonstrates some wit in handling ‘sound’. Audio-wise I would say this is a release that is quite close to ‘industrial’ and ‘electronic’ approaches, thus building more of a bridge between the two (or three?) worlds than many other ‘contemporary classical’ releases.
    Wilfredo Terrazas is a Mexican composer, musicologist, and flute teacher. Similar to Trapani, he uses ‘folk’ elements – but in a much more ‘direct’ way. ‘Torres Cycle’ is a ritual implementation of the four cardinal directions, plus three ‘minor’ rituals. The release “explores ritual, indigenous tradition from his native Mexico, alternative notation, structured improvisation, spatialised live performance techniques, and an evocative instrumentation layout to explore questions of social connection and the mysterious relationship between tradition, and history, and the present.” Well. I get the bit about ‘spatialised performances’, but this does not necessarily serve a purpose on an audio recording.
    The first track, ‘North,’ is a layered trumpet and trombone piece with a genuine ‘Mexican’ element (the marching bands). It is well known that wind instruments are difficult to keep in tone and that playing long notes in parallel can wreak havoc. I am sure this was done on purpose here, with the timbre wavering until the piece breaks out into a more chaotic section. Unfortunately, contextualising ‘ritual’ with recordings by the Hybryds, I fail to be able to follow the intention here – what remains is the audio. And in ‘Norte’ I would have preferred the layered micro-harmonies to evolve to full strength, leaving out the ‘improvised’ bit. ‘Este’ is a percussion piece that creates a ‘searching’ atmosphere. ‘Sur’ has a set of string instruments alternating between quiet sections and ‘explosions’ into free parts. ‘Oeste’ is a wind quartet. The last two pieces, ‘Totem III’ and ‘Oeste’ sound most ‘Mexican’ to me (in a positive sense) and are the strongest on the release (including the first part of ‘Norte’, of course) – one using a bugle, the other a flute, and musical phrases that remind of Mexican influence. Nevertheless, the ‘eclectic’ backdrop of ritual and setting is nothing I would have picked up on without reading the liner notes. I did prefer Trapani’s approach, I must say. (RSW)
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LE UN – LE HAVRE (CD, private)

Twenty-one musicians (and a performer, lighting artist and two filmmakers) playing improvised music without rules except one: the individual musician is singularly more important than the collective ensemble. The only name I recognized was Rozemarie Heggen, who played the double bass with the Ex for a while, and was part of a magnificent tribute to Morton Feldman (Besides Feldman on Col Legno), As all musicians are accomplished musicians here and have a keen ear to what’s happening the result is outstanding. A large group improvising could lead to cacophonous noise for an hour or so, which is fine by itself if you’re in the mood for something like that. Here there are cacophonous moments but always controlled, not ruckus for ruckus sake.
    As a lot is happening, this release merits deep listening. Elements of minimal music, industrial percussion, contemporary modern music, and French poetry can be discerned here. But more importantly, there is coherence within a track. A mood is set, and the rest of the musicians fill in many details. The range of instruments is huge, from contrabass clarinet to soprano saxophone to the string family. Sometimes there are long melodic lines or relatively slow extended glissandi in cluster form. Other times, minor or more negligible statements reflect or comment on the atmosphere. The highest frequencies in the second track are courtesy of electronics; though not loud, they might annoy a dog in the neighbourhood. Judging by the titles of the tracks, the music is chosen from a lot of available material. All of them fade out at a natural point except the last track, as if that one is still playing somewhere in (cyber)space.
    Seek this one out. It’s quite the experience. I’ll bet it’ll be even better hearing this live. A taste of that can be seen and heard on the site of the ensemble:
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So far, Andrew Anderson released a bunch of cassettes, mainly on Misanthropic Smile Records, none of which I think I heard, and an album with Thor Harris under the guise of THAA. ‘Vagrancies’ is his debit album for Elevator Bath and his first CD. The cover lists several instruments (piano, bowed twelve-string, piano string harp) but more what I call ‘situations’; “celebration, Hill county night, vacant apartment balcony, frozen American flag during an ice storm, cars over a bridge, voice mail, mother’s backyard”, and lots more. I assume there is some processing going on here, but I often think that Anderson leaves them ‘as is’; untouched. The main thing he does is combine sounds and find a dialogue between them. Big drone-like events sit next to crackles, sounds from afar and close-by sitting together. The piano plays quite a big role in the music, slow and majestical, delivering a few tones here and there. There are four main pieces, all in nine to twelve minutes, followed by four fragment pieces. They have titles, such as ‘Night Songs’, ‘Breaking Contact’, and so on, and sound the most unprocessed. In the main pieces, the densities are full-on. I’d say Andrew Anderson is part of the current flow of lo-fi noise makers, which we call lof-i for no particular reason, other than that we think they use old, magnetic tapes to capture their sounds on. Anderson doesn’t do that; maybe he uses high-end equipment? The one thing that is a bit different is, I think, that Anderson’s music is, at times, a bit more musical, in a conventional sense, due to the use of the piano. I enjoyed this release a lot, but I am a sucker for all things ‘lo-fi’, scratchy, a bit noisy, dark and atmospheric. When a hint of melody is attached, I am won over. (FdW)
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LINNEA TALP – ARCH OF MOTION  (CD by Thanatosis Produktion)

While playing this disc, I had some difficulty thinking about the music and what I was hearing. Was it one instrument or more? I looked at the information again and saw various players, the composer on pipe organ and modular synth, but there is also bass clarinet, vocals, flute, trombone, grand piano and guitar. I must admit, I didn’t always recognize these instruments. I sometimes thought this was mostly a pipe organ with some additional sounds or maybe processing. Based on the list of instruments and their players, one could believe this is more a work of improvisation or modern classical music, but these eight short pieces (a total of 32 minutes) of an excellent condensed form. Both in size but also in the way these notes collide together. There is a drone-like texture to this music of a more acoustic nature. If you zoom in on the actual music, you discover the other instruments. Not all simultaneously, but there is that ‘oh, there is the flute’ or ‘hey, is that a voice’. Talp’s pieces are quite dark and minimal, yet each is different from the other, and there are some variations to be noted on this album. I quite enjoyed this. Maybe it is connected to the world of modern classical music, improvisation, or even electro-acoustic music. These pieces are dark, atmospheric, and heavy on the low frequencies, but also with some remarkable lighter touches. The recording is such that each detail can be heard, and nothing gets lost; however, you need to drop everything else and give the music your undivided attention, but then true beauty will be revealed. (FdW)
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As far as I know, I know very little about The Star Pillow, the musical project of Paolo Monti. I reviewed some work by him (Vital Weekly 1081 and 1164, for instance), and I believe he is a man to play the guitar and many effects. The music here is ‘the original soundtrack to a performance by Karin Pauer’. I understand this to be a contemporary dance performance. I haven’t seen the performance, so we have to make do with this: “the tracks follow a precise and cinematic script of the piece in which four performers, one musician and a visual artist, create a cycle of metamorphoses that invites the audience to become aware of the interconnectedness of our species with the world around us”. As a document, this album may fail for me, but there is also the music as a stand-alone event. Like so many of his peers who play the six strings in combination with many sound effects, the music takes its time to develop and explore. I am not sure, but I would think that Monti uses various loop pedals to hold and sustain his playing, so that vast masses of sound rise from the depths of the earth. I found earlier work of his to be on the quieter side, but that is not the case here. There is some heavy-lifting going on here, like giant boulders rolling slowly downhill. However, The Star Pillow also creates moments of relative rest, such as in ‘Ghosts And Monsters’, evoking dark, horror-like images. The album has an excellent balance in that respect, going from scary light to spooky dark. Play loud for that whole immersive aspect, and you will sink deep! (FdW)
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In March 2019, cellist Okkyung Lee had a residency in Londo’s Cafe Oto, and she played one night with Jérôme Noetinger, who brought his Revox B77. The other night she played with Nadia Ratsimandresy, handling the ondes Martenot, a pre-world war two synthesizer. So two duos, and twice a meeting of electricity and an instrument. The difference lies in the thing that Noetinger picks up Lee’s playing and manipulates it on the spot. For me, this means that, at times, it seems that on the A-side, we hear just the cello, which, of course, is not the case. On the surface, this LP may seem to be a work of improvised music, as indicated by the way all three players handle their instruments and interactions. But digging deeper, one could also say this is an album where electro-acoustic music meets improvisation. For the recording with Noetinger, the devil is the details, I think. His actions are picking up the cello and feeding it back into the mix. It may meet a Korg MS20 (not mentioned, but I have seen Noetinger using this), and fragments of that captured on tape also find their way back into the chaotic overall picture of the music. The music Lee recorded with Ratsimandresy (of whom I had never heard before) is a meeting of two different instruments playing together. There is some of the other side’s hectic in this music, but it seems quieter and more reflective throughout. I have no idea how such things work if they grow organically when things come along. Maybe there are some agreements made? This duet goes to both extremes, and the ondes Martenot sounds at times like a cello, with glissandi being played and notes being plucked. If the first side is a wild ride all the way, then this side is a rocky road with many curves, and you never know what is behind the curve. I have no preference for either journey; I enjoyed both of them and thought the musicians explored a lot of new ground and had a great conversation along the way. Each time I played, I discovered something new. (FdW)
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This 7″ record is the fourth instalment in a series. For this one, Panis wrote a lengthy text, whiherech you can find here. It explains why all these pieces are four minutes and thirty-three seconds long; a nod to Cage, but also because it fits nicely on a 7″. He also tells about the modules he uses and much more that I won’t repeat here. One of the exciting aspects of the music here is that Panis only uses one fifteen-year-old module and no other sources. He explicitly tells us that there are no field recordings. It’s good to know this, as I could have sworn this contained field recordings of birds and insects. I enjoyed this case of electronics imitating life very much. In ‘Fragment VII’, Panis explores the sounds from a distance, as if taping birds from quite a bit of distance. Let’s say there is some fine sparseness in the music, especially in the second half of the piece. ‘Fragment VIII’ is, on the contrary, an energetic piece. Think of a birdhouse in the zoo; now, everything is close by, and there is much action. However, don’t think of this as ‘it sounds as pure field recordings made with a modular synthesizer’. The synthesizer aspect of the music is undoubtedly a strong presence in the music, and it also sounds pretty much electronic. It all sounds fascinating and sadly too short. But Panis promises a total of nine 7″, so there is more to come. Hopefully, one day on a CD/2CD so they can be heard in one long run? (FdW)
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BOH, DE KOMPLETE UITGAVEN (book & CD by Korm Plastics)

Oh my God, what did I get myself into this time? Before me, a hefty hardcover book, 280 pages in total and written in Dutch. I was asked to write a little review, and after saying yes, it somehow started itching everywhere. And while I was writing this review, I began to understand the itch: How do I write something about a book written in Dutch in an English spoken medium to get people interested in buying the product … Silence … And the answer was simple: I’m gonna focus on the CD that comes with the book and then you will understand why the book is a truly welcome addition to any bookcase.
    Between May 1981 and October 1982, there was a dutch fanzine / D.I.Y. ethics magazine entitled “Binnenlandse Ontwikkelings Hulp” (which translates into something like the Ministry of Internal Development Aid). These guys organized a festival in the squat De Blauwe Aanslag in The Hague (which formerly hosted the Dutch I.R.S.), and at the festival, you could buy a tape in a limited edition of 150 copies. This tape has been remastered by Peter Johan Nijland and can be found as an extra in this book.
    Nine bands are performing a total of 22 songs; it’s 1982. In the five years before 1980, the world saw the uprise of punk as a way of living and thinking, and as of ’78, ’79, there was already a 2nd wave of punk, called post-punk.. Maybe because the punk we heard at that time was mostly “I wanna” or “I don’t wanna”, “Resist”, or “Fight”, and the post-punk was more based on emotions you had while thinking about those subjects. Artistically I think post-punk was way more a matter of guiding the audience into developing their own thoughts.
    The CD is filled with proper examples of Dutch post-punk in the early 80’s. An excellent example is “Wij vinden dat niet” (We don’t think so) by The Return of the No Feters. Minimal post-punk, pre-wave with the voice of a Dutch politician who said he was ‘for the people’, but in fact, he was as right-winged as possible. But the band states the obvious in the title: ‘We don’t think so’. Another track of theirs is “Bedrijf” (Company), whose lyrics are absolutely brilliant to any Dutch listener. ‘…’ is on the CD with three untitled tracks, which makes it really hard to review, so I’ll skip them even though admitted, I feel 15 again. The Untouchables are the most punk sounding band on here, and if I’m honest, there’s not a single ‘bad’ band on here.
    The tape back then and this CD right should be considered a well-documented snapshot of the post-punk scene of The Hague early 80s. Music-wise the experimentations as reaction to the punk music of the years before, emotionally the start of a new decade where the youth just didn’t want the same shit of the 70’s again (cold war, nuclear threat, oil shortage) and politically they also wanted something different, but the alternatives that were presented were as bad as what was already there.
    So back to the book: The book contains all six issues of the BOH magazines that were released in those 18 months of existence. It’s all written in Dutch, and they present the vision of a group of friends for whom the available magazines didn’t fulfil their need for information. And in those days, the solution always was: “We’ll do it ourselves!” The combination of the book and the CD should be considered the contents of a time capsule buried 40 years ago, and you can open it yourself now and relive those moments. (BW)
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And then things were quiet for a few weeks for Egbert van der Vliet’s Pool pervert project. I don’t know the reasons for this unbalanced release schedule. He chose a plastic bag and a single Xeroxed sheet for the cover. His music sees fewer changes, as on this new album, he continues his explorations by using free software and free sound sources. Van der Vliet is not the sort of guy to run around with a microphone and record field recordings in the wild wide world but stays at home, browsing the internet for exciting sound material. Using standard free software, he transforms these sources into something that is no longer to be recognized as anything. This makes much sense if you know that Van der Vliet is also a painter. His music is painting with sound. In his visual work, we recognize what it is, landscapes mostly, but his sound work is more abstract. Yet, I think that we should see his music as landscapes too. We take scenic routes through hills, meadows, and creeks rather than, say, the vast emptiness of the desert. Pool pervert’s music is not empty at all. At all times, something is happening, mostly small sounds, crawling and buzzing, all in the best laptop tradition. Hiss and white noise is added for a more cassette-like approach, which I think is not really necessary. There is nothing new happening here, and Pool pervert further carves his private sound world, and he does another great job. (FdW)
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TIM OLIVE & MATT ATKINS – DISSIPATIO (cassette by Steep Gloss)

Speak of the devil! Last week I ran two reviews of solo works by Tim Olive, saying there is very little room for him to work with others now touring is complex, and then this pops up. However, I believe this is a long-distance collaboration, tying different times and places together. There are four pieces here, all named ‘Dissipation’, the Latin word for ‘Dispersion’, another clue for the way the music was made. Atkins plays percussion, objects and electronics, and Olive is on shortwave radio, self-oscillating fuzz, octave divider, tuning forks and audio processing. The element of percussion can’t be ignored. I go as far as to say that even Olive takes an active role in the rhythmical mayhem; at times. Sometimes he comes up with his more sustaining approach, the kind of thing we know so well from him. For instance, this subtle approach can be heard in the third part, but here Atkins explores surfaces rather than hitting them. The previous part was an all-out chaotic approach to objects available. The opening is less chaotic and seems to have a few field recordings/radio waves. Both the third and fourth parts are quieter and introspective. A most enjoyable collaboration, and no matter how it was made (whether one took the lead and the other recorded material on top, or if there is a more random approach), it sounds though-out very much and in thirty minutes and four pieces, they offer a variety of methods. Very tactile music!
    Matt Atkins solo release for Dasa Tapes in Greece is a bit longer, and has seven pieces. Atkins has an extensive catalogue of works to his name, and it’s easy to common threads in these, and it’s challenging to appoint highlights (or low lights). In much of his music, the physicality of objects plays a big role. Akins uses objects in his music and microphones, very close by, so we are near where the action takes place. The rumbling of objects, playing by hand, machines, sound effects (reverse delay in ‘Greenland’ for instance), and maybe even some modular electronics. The additional sound effects seem to take on a bigger role in this music, more than it was before, so I believe. For instance, in ‘Parallel Meridians’, the effects took over it, and it becomes a spooky and mysterious piece. In other pieces, ping pong rolls about, cups are struck, and small objects are being played, and we are reminded of Atkins’s background as a drummer. It is the same, and it is different. It is slightly diverging from what we heard before, recognizable Atkins music. Chalking up ‘another fine release’ here. (FdW)
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We reviewed work before from both of these musicians, more from Christoff as it happens than Goldston. In June 2016, they were in La Plante, Canada, armed with a cello (Goldston) and a Hammond organ (Christoff). Doors open, so we hear the world around them as they record their improvised music. That afternoon they recorded nine pieces, and if you didn’t know it was one afternoon and improvisation, you could think that this was the result of some planning. These pieces are pretty coherent pieces of music, highly melodic. Maybe that is in the nature of the Hammond organ? Perhaps the two made some arrangements for each piece? You take the lead, and I’ll be supporting with sparse notes. You play the melodic lines, and I’ll add some bass notes? Whatever the case is, it all works really well here. Throughout, there is a melancholic touch in these pieces. The cello is undoubtedly an instrument that affects music, but when Goldston plays with her fingers, she adds a rhythmical aspect to the music. I think it never becomes pop music but remains a bit folk, except for the lighter ‘Tarkovsky’s Orbit’, which seems to have mostly the Hammond organ. However, the atmospheric and melancholic aspect prevails here in these pieces, yet the musical elements are never far away. There is no difficult music here, no hectic, no chaos, just simple, straightforward tunes, and it is the kind of introspection I love very much. (FdW)
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DEL STEPHEN – GIROLANDO (cassette by Vacancy Recs)
DEL STEPHEN – HAVE I WARPED TOO SLOWLY? (cassette by Vacancy Recs)

First, we have two new releases by Del Stephen, “Toronto-based artist, poet, musician, organizer, language instructor & doorman”. I reviewed his music before. Why did he choose to release two C16 cassettes and not, say, one c32? I don’t know. The answer ‘because I can’ is most valid in such matters. Stephen plays in a few locals bands, all from the world of improvisation, and usually on synthesizers and keyboards. He turned (and tuned) the guitar on these two new releases. There are also a bit of samples/field recordings. I compared his keyboard music with Kubin or Avikoo, but that can’t be done with the music here. The liner notes talk about guitar lessons and having not played in a very long time. I think that on these two cassettes, Del Stephen plays music that is a bit out of usual doing, and thus he explores a different kind of sound; the tinkling of notes on the guitar, with some washy sounds effects. It is not exactly like The Durutti Column; Del Stephen’s music is even more naive and spacier, moving about without going anywhere. If you think that I might not like this, you’re wrong. I quite enjoyed this non-committed music, taking a bit of time, gentle and free; the man is active in the world of improvised music, after all. Most enjoyable!
    Del Stephen is a member of the Heart Structure Quartet, along with David Parker and Bree Rappaport and Jeffrey Sinibaldi. In Vital Weekly 1246, I reviewed their ‘Live At Tone Deaf 2019’ CDR and one day after that festival, they recorded at the Soul Horse and Nature Retreat, located 30 minutes north of Kingston in Battersea. The recordings are released on a limited 10″ lathe cut records, outtakes of material that is found in a longer form on a seventy-minute cassette. The quartet plays keyboards, guitar, drum machine, clarinet, tapes, and percussion. Duties are not strictly divided among the members, and they find their way through improvisation. Whatever they do, it is never about showing techniques and proficiency at playing their instruments. The four pieces on the 10″ lathe cut are in a surprising free song mode. Rhythm plays a big role, and there are melodies embedded in weirdness. Think of this as the more exciting end of post-punk in the early 80s, laced with refined improvisation. So naturally, the pieces are longer and spun out on the cassette. We hear how these pieces are worked on, in situ, how they develop; sometimes, they meander, and there is no development. Maybe a bit along the lines of the Del Stephen’s cassettes I just heard, the music by the Quartet has a similar feeling of not keen on going anywhere. Music for a slow day! I think Cassette and the record showcase two different sides of the group. I have no preference for either way but played in shuffle mode worked best. (FdW)
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6X10=60 VOLUME THREE (cassette by Korm Plastics D)

For obscure reasons, this third volume comes separate from the first two volumes, about which I wrote something in Vital Weekly 1320. Since there are no more volumes, it would perhaps have made sense to release all three at once. I liked the first two volumes of this mid-80s compilation series on the Korm Plastics label, as they offered a variety of musical interests, all within the realm of what could be considered ‘experimental music’. A ‘who’s who’ of the noise scene (yet another word to use with caution). Previously I mentioned that power electronics was missing from the first two volumes, but little did I know they were relegated to the third volume. There is a particular strong opening salvo from Le Syndicat, all fired up with a stomping rhythm machine piece. The power electronics on this cassette are courtesy of Irritant (which is the guy who later became The Grey Wolves), one Chazev and Mauthausen (I think the word ‘Orchestra’ might be missing there), the musical project of PIepaolo Zoppo (who is no longer with us). All punishing noise and distortion. Brutal! And while Controlled Bleeding was known for their power noise, their contribution to this album is a considerably more rhythmical piece with layered voices and metallic percussion. I mean, it is definitely also noisy, but not as loud as usual. Apparently Frans de Waard’s Kapotte Muziek was a solo project back when he recorded his contribution ‘Radioactive Zone’, and indeed it sounds nothing like the live trio; a game of high and low-end feedback; possibly the weakest link (by a long chalk) on all three volumes of this otherwise excellent series. Still, placed at the end, so easy to skip. (LW)
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Edgars Rubenis was born in Latvia and is now based in The Hague. Last December, I heard him for the first time during an online double bill at the infamous Studio Loos in The Hague. American Old West-inspired guitar music played by Welsh Gwenifer Raymond and Rubenis. That was a fun concert. As that concert isn’t available online, I can’t check if the pieces on this release are the same ones that he played during that concert. Anyway, the music starts quite traditionally with a rag (one of the precursors for jazz). All songs are very melodic, and the faster ones are very rhythmically (and very well performed). I won’t go into details of every track now. And I just can’t pick a favourite. Suffice to say that this release is an enjoyable and cheerful record, almost three-quarters of an hour of acoustic guitar music played on a steel-string guitar and recorded directly on tape as if this music has been around for fifty or more years. This can be played on every occasion. Not every track is happy-clappy, though, number 3 is a sad song, and number 4 is quite dissonant and tells quite a story. Which story? Listen and make one up. Apart from that, I hope Rubenis will perform his music regularly because I think he deserves a wider audience. (MSD)
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CRÍA CUERVOS – BOVARISM (cassette by Joy De Vivre)

A little research learned that I had not heard of Cría Cuervos in a long time. Maybe a collaborative release with Moljebka Pvlse was the last time (Vital Weekly 782)? That release is also the last one before this that is on Discogs. I have no idea why there were eleven years of silence, but now Eugenio Maggi comes around with ‘Bovarism’, a twenty-minute tape. I must admit I forgot what kind of music Cría Cuervos made, but from my old reviews, I understand he was part of the drone posse, but this new work is slightly different. I would think this is part of the harsh noise wall world because there are not a lot of changes in the music, and it is pretty noisy. But it is not a loud, brutal noise. I think here we have some of the significant advantages of the medium of cassettes: it never feels deafening, which I like very much. There is little to no movement in the music, and it’s been on repeat for quite some time now. Partly because I took my afternoon nap while playing this, which happens with old age. Later on, I was distracted by other things to do, and the music kept repeating itself, and it never became dull. Maybe at my age, I will finally succumb to the word of ‘not so harsh noise wall music on cassette’? (FdW)
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This cassette is my introduction to Job History, and ‘Open Availability’ is their second release. ‘Their’ as they refer to ‘we’ in their somewhat vague description; “Open availability is an intentionally vague concept. Always read before you sign– and never sign anything. Heed only internal demands. Gates can be climbed and locks picked. We are the evidence of our trespasses. This is the second official release by Job History: a continuing study of the uncomfortable overlap between work and life; the residue of hours clocked. All source material was recorded covertly in and around the service industry between 2011 and 2020, except for a brief snippet recorded in 2016 at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh”. It seems a long time to record something that is two pieces of music, in total, sixteen minutes of music. I guess the overlap between work and life lies in the fact that the music uses field recordings from the workplace? A big open space, factory hall type of thing, and we hear some obscured action; perhaps not work-related? Or maybe it is; I have no idea whatsoever. Perhaps, I have no idea what ‘the service industry’ is? ‘Vectors’ on side A is clearly one piece of music, with heavily reverbed sounds, metallic Kling Klang growing in intensity. ‘The Call’, on the other side is, I think, a collage of various pieces of the middle part, is ‘the call’, a phone ringing, someone answering, set against a deep bass rumble. It ends with voices, sans rumble. A most enjoyable release, quite mysterious (indeed!) and with one big thing to complain about; why so brief? I enjoyed this, and I would have liked some more of this. If only to find out some more clues.
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A while back I had this little corner at the end of Vital Weekly, with stuff that we received that is not for us. Maybe that helped, as we didn’t get much anything. Music from Alt Terje Hana was reviewed before in these pages, so when he guested his guitar for TheTracakers, he said ‘I know a cool place for a review copy’. Maybe he just assumes that Vital weekly is a great place for prog rock, symphomic rock, fusion jazz rock or other lengthy guitar solo work, but sadly, no, this is not the place. I have no idea what to say. it is beyond any of my standard references. Hang on, I’ll give you a link, and you investigate this yourself. (FdW)
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