Number 1334

ILITCH – PTM WORKS 2 (CD by TrAce Records) *
MAHD – IM BERG (CD by Loewenhertz) *
MASONNA – FREQUENCY L.S.D. (LP by Cold Spring)
LUER – POINT OF REFERENCE (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
FABIO ORSI – LATE AFTERNOON TAPES (CDR by Attenuation Circuit/Grubenwehr Freiburg) *
THING (CDR compilation by Attenuation Circuit)
+DOG+ – X6 (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
+DOG+ – BLOOMING FLOWER VOLUME 2 (2CDR by Love Earth Music) *
+DOG+ / EGO DEATH- NIOSE (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
COST OF LIVING – WARLIKE (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
7697 MILES – CLA (cassette by Spomenik) *

ILITCH – PTM WORKS 2 (CD by TrAce Records)

My introduction to Ilitch came in the early 1990s when I was played their ’10 Suicides’ album. Released in 1980, it was the band’s (or rather project’s) second album and follow-up to the equally unnerving mix of krautrock, experiment, avant-garde and cold wave that was their debut album Periodik Mindtrouble. Basically the project of photographer Thierry Müller, Ilitch came to life in the mid-1970s when he expanded his solo recordings, created by using prepared guitars, harmonium, and a tape recorder with the guitar and synthesizer skills of his brother Patrick. The brothers made several records together before Ilitch returned to being more a Thierry solo project. At the same time, his brother Patrick concentrated on his studies of electronic music and managing the Pierre Schaeffer recording studios. In 1980, the brothers released PTM Works 1 on cassette and now, more than 40 decades on, there is the second volume – this time on compact disc. The origin of their renewed collaboration under the name Ilitch stems from discovering a long-forgotten photo of the two brothers dating back to their youth. On the image, reproduced on the front cover of the fold-out carton cover of this album, we see the two brothers on their moped and bike laughing into the camera—a happy, nostalgic image of days gone by. But, according to the press blurb, not everything is as it seems on the surface: the two brothers have composed a soundtrack based on, and perhaps even dedicated to, fake family bliss. Finding a musical voice to a childhood perhaps portrayed as a happy one on the photos (and there are more on the cover), this album is anything but. Instead it tries to express two worried and existential artists who have spent their lives expressing their shared distress. And this is reflected in a most intriguing way in the music on PTM Works 2. At casual listen, PTM Works 2 (with the P for Patrick, the T for Thierry and M for Müller) is a pleasant listen, perhaps even a slightly superficial one. But under its surface, each track seems aimed at creating a disturbance, luring the listener into a false sense of comfort – or perhaps even nostalgia. The music on this album was mostly created on guitar, eBow, synthesizers and an impromptu vocal performance by Marcel Duchamp on the track Marcel. But every time a drone or a synthesizer sequence starts, gradually monsters from the past emerge and start transforming the brother’s play garden into a wasteland. The closing track, Hommage A L.F. (Luc Ferrari), takes nearly 15 minutes to lure you into a false sense of security. A sense of non-comfortability that is intriguingly tangible in the more recent photograph of the brothers inside the album’s cover. All this makes PTM Works 2 a fascinating work – a testament to youth, but perhaps not one best remembered. My only gripe is this: at 70+ minutes, the Müller brothers take their time to draw you into their youth of discontent. Such a playing time would easily constitute a double vinyl album in ye olde days. And, personally speaking, of course, most double albums in the history of recorded music would have been better off when reduced to a single one. Would this have worked to PTM Works’ benefit as well? Who knows. Perhaps its prolonged playing time is part of the brother’s scheme. (FK)
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Un Drame Musical Instatané was a famous trio of Bernard Vitet, Francis Gorgé and Jean-Jacques Birgé. They started in 1976 and stopped in 2008. They were known for their very original avant-garde meta-music, often with the involvement of more musicians. In 2013 Bernard Vitet passed away, and this new album that marks the return of Un Drame Musical Instanané is dedicated to him. Again Un Drame Musical Instantané is a trio. This time with Dominique Meens (vocals, words) as the third member. Writer and poet Dominique Meens has been close to the trio since its start in 1976. He recorded an album with Birgé in 1984 and one with Gorgé in 1992. Birgé and Gorgé play together now for the first time since the split of Un Drame Musical Instantané. How was this reunion about? Gorgé uploaded the track ‘Le poil et la plume’ from the ‘L’Hallali’- album from 1987. An improvisation centred around a text from Michael Tournier, performed in collaboration with Royon le Mée (Sprechgesang). This gave Dominque Meens the idea to do a recording with parts from his collection ‘Plumes et Poils’. And so they did: Francis Gorgé (music, guitar, sampler), Jean-Jacques Birgé (music, keyboard, reed trumpet, flute, shahi baaja, birdcall, jaw harp) and Dominique Meens (words, vocals). Evidently, the chemistry still works as the instantaneously recorded 15 pieces just on one day! The concentrated and dramatic performance by Meens of his texts is no doubt at the centre of these tracks. Suppose you know Un Drame Musical Instantané a little bit. In that case, you know this does not imply Birgé and Gorgé limit themselves to just underlining or illustrating spoken word in a one-dimensional way. Following their own procedures, as we know them from their earlier work, they create a fascinating interweaving of diverse ingredients: field recordings, electronics, acoustic and electric instruments in each track. Fine, they choose short, bolded and distinct improvisations that differ in instrumentation and structure. A very rich and excellent work! (DM)
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Quator Bozzini is Clemens Merkel (violin), Alissa Cheung (violin), Stéphanie Bozzini (viola) and Isabelle Bozzini (cello). For two decades, this Canadian Quartet has been in business and working continuously from a strong idealistic mission, specialising in realizing contemporary and experimental music projects. Many projects featured works from composers from the Montréal-area and other parts of the world. This time they concentrate on works by Michael Oesterle, a German-born composer who lives and works in Québec. He did his studies at the University of British Columbia and Princeton University in the US. He composes for the concert hall as well as theatre, film and dance productions. His compositions have been performed by outstanding ensembles like Ensemble Intercontemporain (Paris), and Tafelmusik (Toronto). Quator Bozzini is one of the ensembles Oesterle has worked for already for a long time. The quartet debuted in 2004 with ‘Portrait Montréal’ with works by Claude Vivier, Malcolm Goldstein, Jean Lesage and one by Michael Oesterle: ‘Daydream Mechanics V’(2001). This composition is included again on this new release by the quartet with three other more recent compositions by Oesterle. The composition ‘Daydream Mechanics V’ is also recorded recently by the ensemble Music in the Barns for their release for New Focus Recordings, beautiful, elegant work. The compositions on this new release by Quator Bozzini introduce Oesterle as a composer of accessible compositions of a minimalistic nature. The cd opens with ‘String quartet n.4’, his most recent composition and maybe the most complex one on this recording. A work built up from different episodes, some of them very melodic with a catchy theme contrasted with more rigorous parts. Like the opening part, very dynamic, contrasted with a very soft and reduced experimental section. ‘Three Pieces for String Quartet’( 2016) has a pastoral atmosphere, with lively and accentuated gestures by the players. In the second part, the music touches on the motives of early classical music. ‘String quartet 3 – Alan Turing’ (2010) is likewise an evocative work full of gentle and subtle movements, using a very close theme to the one used in the opening work. Interesting works delivered in an inspired performance! (DM)
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MAHD – IM BERG (CD by Loewenhertz)

While I associate the Loewenhertz label with improvised music and thought this might be another one, I was also interested because of the presence of a Fender Rhodes piano. Hannes Löschel plays that instrument, while one Volkmar Klien plays the computer. That could certainly bring the sort of improvisation I may like, and that certainly is the case. Not that every track is a winner. ‘Bindschacht’ sees Löschel playing lots of notes, but once he spaces these, leaves air between them, and uses the Fender Rhodes for its reflective qualities, it becomes pretty interesting. I had not heard of Klien before (I think!), and I have no idea what he does behind the computer; in terms of software, the results are great. No hectic, nervous bending of the tonal matter here, just massive blocks of shapeshifting frequencies. Mainly in the form of dense patterns, but in ‘Schwelle’, it may move along the bending notes of the Rhodes, suggesting there is some sort of software at work that alters the sounds. The not-so hectic pieces are in the majority here. At times this all may seem like an odd marriage, the mild jazzy piano tone versus the somewhat clinical drones of the computer, but the more I heard this, the more I enjoyed it. The two contrasting sound devices are, at times, in a battle and at other times in perfect harmony working together. A most enjoyable collaboration. (FdW)
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While I was aware of the fact that the music from Joke Lanz’s Sudden Infant project no longer sounded the same as I when first it, I had not yet heard the new sound. I frowned when I heard that Sudden Infant is now a rock trio. But I believe change is good. It always brings out more words in a reviewer, I guess. So, this album is my introduction to Sudden Infant’s new style, even when that has been going on since 2014! I suppose that seachange happened when I wasn’t looking (or not receiving promos from the labels releasing this). Now, of course, what do I know about rock music? Very, very little, if anything at all. I can only approach this with the littlest reference I have in these matters, and none of those is very contemporary. If anything (again!), I’d say that the sound of Sudden Infant is heavily inspired by the old post-punk guard, those with a more adventurous approach to composing music. And, as such, the one name that keeps popping back in my mind is that of The Ex. Partly that has to do with the vocal treatment of Lanz’s voice at times, but also the more part improvised, part punk approach of the way Christian Weber (bass, electronics) and Alexandre Babel (drums & percussion) handle their instruments. Sometimes in complete accordance to the laws of (post-) punk music (in ‘Pain Is A Pain’), but also open, supporting the words in what seems almost a song about love, ‘The Lived Body. As always, I hardly notice what these lyrics are about, it never will be of interest to me, but it’s funny to hear that Lanz uses various languages (German, French, Spanish?). I happen to be a big fan of The Ex, still following their moves (even when hardly reviewing their new releases), so I immensely enjoyed this pack of pure energy. At times catchy as hell, such as in ‘Head’, with some squeaky toys, and sometimes quite introverted, but everything is in perfect balance here. This introduction made me want to explore more of this new/old Sudden Infant sound. (FdW)
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One of those lovely Dutch words, ‘t Geruis, meaning the rustling. Think of leaves crackling, shuffling of papers. There isn’t much information on the musician here, just Daniel from Belgium, and ‘Bain D’Etoiles’ is his third album and the first I have heard from him. While the project’s name is Dutch, suspecting Daniel is from the Flemish side of Belgium, all titles are in French. Instruments are not specified, but there is undoubtedly a piano somewhere in the equation. On the electronic side, I’d say there is a battered reel-to-reel machine (or more than one) spinning loops. And loops play an important role in the music here. In each track, there is a significant portion for loops. Piano sounds, melodic touches, perhaps wind instruments, and field recordings; are all part of this loop festival. Occasionally these loops become a bit boring as chance isn’t happening. Still, it works wonderfully well throughout. ‘t Geruis is part of that bigger scene of lo-fi musicians and operates in the corner of carefully constructed ambient music. There is little to no room for buzzing small synthesizers or distorted cassette recordings of field recordings. He instead uses recordings around the house, captured with an old microphone on those reels, which already lack a bit of Ferro. Like the fading of tape, thus sounds the music. There is quite a bit of hiss on these recordings, adding to the lo-fi colourisation of the music. Quiet music this is for a quiet Sunday afternoon. It’s good; it’s solid but also nothing out of line. That’s not bad at all. (FdW)
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Germany’s Aussaat is rapidly expanding their catalogue of noise releases, sometimes with golden oldies such as Le Syndicat, Club Moral or Entre Vifs, but also with new acts, for me that is, such as this one. Edge Of Decay hails from Finland, with no other name known, but also working under aliases such as Invisible Waves, Olli Tanskanen, Vigilantism. He (so I assume for no good reason) has releases on such labels as Supreme Analog Torture Records, Antipatik Records, Staalwaart Records, Nacroplepsia, Freak Animal and Aussaat. I am the first to admit I didn’t keep up with the development of noise music in the last twenty years. I know that Edge Of Decay isn’t a harsh noise wall group, but is it power electronics? Or some other term? Let’s dispense with the terms and let the music talk. Synthesizers are working overtime, buzzing loudly. Sometimes it’s stuck in a rhythm, such as in ‘Teenage Dreams’. On a few occasions, there are vocals, it’s shouting in the background, or something out of a film. Maybe there is some metallic crashing and some kind of loop device at work. There are eight pieces of music here, and what I found most delightful is the variation within these pieces. Maybe delightful isn’t the right word for the bleak music and ditto titles (‘Love Violence’, ‘Infertile’, ‘Sterile Stimulation’), but I enjoyed the grim nature of this. As I may have said before, I am certainly not averse to good noise, the one with variation and not the mindless, endless blast, and as such, Edge Of Decay gets my seal of approval. Time to explore some more here from this furious Fin. (FdW)
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The Boss (not Bruce) mailed me this accompanied by a note saying something to the effect of: “I don’t think this is something we review, but if not that, then perhaps for your personal pleasure”. In The Nursery never appeared on my radar – not consciously, I think – but apparently it is a duo of twin brothers, Klive and Nigel, who have been around for a while and in this case took their surname as the title for their latest album. Before I started the review, I made some notes and one word I underlined is ‘cinematic’ when I heard their music. I looked into their background which indeed proved that assessment to be correct, since they were involved in the composition of soundtracks for a number of TV programmes and films, next to being known for rescoring silent films. It is interesting to see how those qualities can be found in their non-media work as well.
    One thing I wondered though is ‘do they actually play the instruments we hear?’ There seem to be lots of string instruments (as in: a full range of orchestral strings), which made me think this is composed with the aid of fancy sample packs, though subsequently set against for instance a cello solo that was played by an actual cellist for the occasion of this album, like in e.g. ‘H47 Sulva Bay (The Cavalryman)’.
    Percussion is another very important element in their music; loud, crashing, martial and highfalutin. This bombast is sometimes too much for my taste, certainly for a stand-alone piece of music. This kind of thing would work wonders for a TV series thought, with galloping horses and swords clattering (they apparently did a trailer for ‘Game Of Thrones’, so perhaps that guides my perception a bit here). Still, in their more moody moments, or their post-punk-influenced movements, like ‘H58 Centrefire (The Gunsmith)’ I feel that this album is at times very strong and these guys definitely know their trade. Also, regarding those titles: I have no idea what these mean, except that “‘H’ serves to indicate the order in which ideas came to them when writing the album”, but surely this is no means of guidance for the listener.
    Now, is this Vital Weekly material though? I’d say most of it is not. I think the straightforward filmic approach is too unambiguous when compared to other recent soundtrack albums covered in this review rag. Also sprach der Boss, I don’t know. (LW)
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MASONNA – FREQUENCY L.S.D. (LP by Cold Spring)

So, High Command had sent me this one some time ago already and I found myself keep putting this off for no good reason. Lodged somewhere in the back of my head, I had this idea that since this is a re-issue of a CD from 1998 (then released by Alien8 Recordings), Vital Weekly would not be the place for a review. But I was corrected, and re-issues are covered, especially if the original pressing was never reviewed in VW at the time. I once considered Masonna to be the god of noise – a cosily shared throne with Merzbow mind you, but that was in my early, more god-fearing days. I then realized there are no gods, not in noise, nor anywhere else. I had not picked up the original CD issue – though I am sure I would’ve wanted to – but back then I didn’t have the funds I needed to satisfy my ever-growing musical appetite.
Masonna had an unique approach to noise in which the voice played a pivotal role. Maso Yamazaki screams his words into the microphone and from thereon the sound is pumped through an EXPJ Ringmodulator, Colorsound Pedals, 60’s Fuzz Noise Canister, Spectral Audio Analogsynth, Sherman Filterbank, Delay. Since I am not necessarily a ‘musician’, I have no idea what most of this equipment does. Then again, if I had a great meal, i feel no need to inspect the kitchen. I am however pretty sure the lyrics are non-existent; otherwise, why brand all pieces with an indeterminate ‘Untitled’?
    Masonna’s noise is incredibly loud (obviously) with much distortion, feedback, but it also constantly changes colour and spastic eruptions occur irregularly. At times the album sounds like a distorted radio, but then suddenly sports vague traces of Whitehouse, especially in the voice treatment. That said, the absolute mayhem created here I never heard on any Whitehouse track. There are fourteen pieces here, ranging from just under two minutes to almost eight minutes in length. To be honest I don’t really get the references in the promotional blurb about 60s psychedelia – it really feels like an unnecessary stretch towards something it is clearly not, but I guess we each hear something different in a work such as this. For me, this is music of erratic aggression, brutality and mayhem, piercing right into your cortex. This album is definitely not for everyday consumption, well, not for me anyway, but it did spark a little Masonna re-appreciation for me here. (LW)
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To me, Love Earth Music is best known as a noise label. Others than me are more qualified to write some sensible about those. These four aren’t noise-free releases, but both, different as they are, contain noise music, but within a slightly different context or something else latched on it.
    On LP, we find GX Jupitter Larsen’s ‘Ross Distracted’. I have no idea why GX chose to release this under the name in his passport and not as The Haters, the music ‘group’ he’s been doing since 1979. A good book on the man’s life, please! Much of what GX does is hidden in part a concept and a joke. However, you never know which is what, and that is its beauty, I suppose. ‘Ross Distracted’ is not different in that respect. I have no idea if there is a connection to a performance by The Haters called ‘The Thinking Ross Did’, which consisted of rubbing amplified calculators against sandpaper. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. This is a noise record, with one piece per side, and it is the usual minimalism we came to expect and love from The Haters; oh no, I mean GX. A mass of loops of a highly obscured nature, spinning together, phasing in and out of shape, and along the way, small sounds fly in and out of the mix. Both sides end with a giggle, how appropriate. It is impossible to compare both sides because this is a record (on a label with no Bandcamp), but I could easily believe that they are almost identical. Here, I connect GX with David Jackman, a.k.a. Organum, who does similar things (i.e. almost identical tracks). The two made a 7″ a long time ago. There you go. I love this record, but I have been a fanboy for several decades.
    Secondly, there is KPG Subcontra. This is a trio of musicians, Nicholas Sudol (who is also working as Infrasubcontra) on euphonium, flugabone, synthesizers, Evan Wasek on tuba, EB Alto Horn and samples and Ken Geiger on noise; I assume the latter to be KPG, even when Discogs tells me something different. On paper, at least a most promising meeting of instruments. There are eight pieces on this release, mostly quite long. The blasts of noise are heavy, just as was to be expected. However, there is more happening than that. They know how to cut back and open for an excellent solid improvisation on their wind instruments. Here they use long sustaining sounds, usually from the bottom end of the frequencies. Those frequencies fit neatly with the noise end. I have no idea how they generate the noise here, be it a computer, stompboxes or distorted amplification. The somewhat delicate acoustic tones of the instruments can still be recognized in the barrage of sonic overload. That is quite an achievement. Various of these are a bit too long and use all too simple sound effects, delay pedals mainly, which could have been more concise. But throughout, I enjoyed the relatively novel idea of pure noise and improvised music, even when it could be a bit more refined.
    Luer is the musical project of Matt Taggart, of whom I reviewed a work before (Vital Weekly 1246). He simply takes credit for electronics. His noise is also different from many others on this label and from KPG Meets Infrasubcontra. I have no idea if the electronics are to be understood as a laptop or some kind of modular set-up. Nor am I all too sure about what goes into the electronics. I am sure some of this is pure electronics, but I think a fair amount of this might be field recordings. Luer has ten pieces of music, in about half the length of the other release here. Luer knows how to create a concise composition, well-focussed on what works and what does not. Let’s say Luer creates small dramatic pieces of music. Here too, the noise side is never too far away, but it’s serving the overall scheme of things. I’d put Luer on the musique concrète spectrum as one of the younger posse. Someone who studied the classics and industrial music and whatever came from that. In the 80s, the industrialists took notes from the old musique concrète masters and applied them to their work without academic training. Luer works along those lines, but now (perhaps!) with digital technology for editing. Maybe the generating of sounds takes place in a more analogue surrounding; I don’t know, as usual. Throughout, the music is solid, and it all works very well as an album. A classic mix of laptop music, noise and musique concrète.
    Another variation of noise is on the final release (for me from this label), and this is a split CDR. First, there is Awkward Geisha, which is the musical project of Ade Rowe. Originally a band, now a solo project. There is some guitar playing, xylophone, saxophone abuse, and mumbling, all of which are not really connected or connecting in a way. Should we say this is improvised music? You could call it that, but with the sounds being looped, there is also some kind of planning going, I think. It is the looped character of the sounds that, for me, in the end, made this quite tiring sit through. It all seemed too random put together and not in a way that I found very exciting. Reiko.A is a name I hadn’t heard in a long time. She was part of Merzbow with Masami Akita, when they first toured Europe in 1989. I didn’t know she was still active in music. Rohco is a member of Astro, the duo (since 2013) that Hiroko Hasegawa (a.k.a. Rohco) started in 1993 as a solo project. Their piece is a live recording and consists mainly of starts and stops, sighing and singing into a microphone, carefully not to let it go to feedback. It is quite interesting that this tightrope walking act between noise and silence. I enjoyed the intensity of the music here, which offers an aspect of noise music that you don’t hear that often. Noise with the absence of noise, if that makes any sense. (FdW)
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FABIO ORSI – LATE AFTERNOON TAPES (CDR by Attenuation Circuit/Grubenwehr Freiburg)
THING (CDR compilation by Attenuation Circuit)

Last week, I wrote about the Silentes label and Fabio Orsi, these are very active people. Here we have a CDR release. It marks the beginning of a collaboration between Attenuation Circuit and Grubenwehr Freiburg. As I commit these words to the screen, it is not yet late afternoon, but the idea behind the music is evident. Daylight fades, the day ends, and there is a soundtrack for that. ‘Thursday Afternoon’ from Brian Eno is such an appt title in this respect. Orsi’s recent music is all about synthesizers, sequences and arpeggio. I am not sure if that is the case with this new release. Maybe he returned to his guitar and loops? Or perhaps it is a combination of both? I suspect the latter to be the case here. These five pieces sound not unlike Eno or Fripp, solo or together, and are something of a departure for Orsi; or a sidestep. The music is slow, with minimal changes. A few notes are hanging in the air thick of cloudy drones. The result is fuzzy and hazy music. I enjoyed this very much, but I guess Orsi can’t do much wrong in my book. For me, this is not the soundtrack of the end of the day, but rather the start of the day, my favourite moment to play ambient music. In that sense, this is music for every day, all times of the day, depending on what the listener chooses.
    I assume Doc Wör Mirran needs no introduction, but maybe The Oval Language does. Although around for quite some time, these days it is Klaus-Peter John voice, street broom and percussion and Katja Jon on “iron string holder, played with a machete and saw-tooth blade”. The two groups played a joint concert on July 3rd, 2021 at the re:flexions sound-art festival. The Docs on this occasion were Joseph B. Raimond on guitar and bass, Adrian Gormley on saxophone and Michael Wurzer on electronics. This is a side we don’t hear very often from the Mirrans. They show themselves, hyped perhaps by The Oval Language, within thirty-six minutes, in their most improvising form. I am not sure if this is aside from them that I enjoy very much. Maybe it is me and not being able to concentrate that much on the music here. Perhaps I think the recording isn’t that balanced; Gormley, for instance, we hardly hear. There is a lot of scraping of metallic objects, that much is sure. I am not convinced about this one.
    So, ‘Thing’ is a real thing now; an ongoing series of compilations. Each volume is a four-way group compilation, and none are numbered. Because the information says this is number four, we know it is. Unfortunately, the cover doesn’t tell us this. Of the four projects of this instalment, I only know Internal Fusion. The other three areA. Maiah, Dardis and Srvtr. The latter, from France, had a release on Attenuation Circuit before, which I missed. Repetition is an essential feature in all pieces, not out of a rhythm box but looped from found sounds. In the case of Srvtr, it is neatly obscured and impossible to say what its source is. ‘Think Tank’ has a rather nice industrial ring to it. Internal Fusion leans towards the electronic sound. I’d be surprised to learn there is found sound here, but who knows. His vaguely ethnic-sounding piece of music is a slow burner from the world of techno music, without the steady beats, but most certainly trance-inducing. The label describes Dardis as “a sound artist and poet from Northern Ireland”. Maybe there is the use of voice in this piece, but there is no such clear evidence. The music is mostly drone-based, with slow-moving sounds coming and going from the proceedings. A. Maiah is a guitarist from Spain and uses one of those sample devices to sample sounds from the guitar. Not necessarily in a drone-sort of way, but rather like an acoustic object. His piece is the only one with clearly distinguished sections but is also the least convincing one. (FdW)
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+DOG+ – X6 (CDR by Love Earth Music)
+DOG+ – BLOOMING FLOWER VOLUME 2 (2CDR by Love Earth Music)
+DOG+ / EGO DEATH- NIOSE (CDR by Love Earth Music)
COST OF LIVING – WARLIKE (CDR by Love Earth Music)

Love Earth Music used to be from all over the place, but now Steve Davis – the leading man behind the +DOG+ project – is located in Sudbury, Massachusetts. When I found out about that, my interest was triggered. I have a weakness for the New England Noise scene. Many connections were made in the few years I played Rhode Island Noise Fest, and most of them I still cherish. But in all honesty, there is only one of their releases in my collection out of the almost gazillion they did (En Nihil – The Absolute). So there is no time like the present to dive into these.
    “X6” seems to be a release in the “X”-series. Yes, it’s the sixth, duh. But not having heard the other ones and not having any more info than what is written on the leaflet glued to the cardboard cover, I can’t tell you about the connection between these six releases. This one is recorded in Massachusetts in 2022. And the tracks have titles. And the styles are pretty different from each other, “Arbus” opens the CD, and it’s about as loud as the medium CD-r can handle in your face noise. The brilliant choice to get the listener’s attention. “Adams” is more of an experiment with a subtle atmosphere. “Mapplethorpe” consists of choral-like sounds with minimal noise splattered around. But for example, the connection between this track and the famous photographer is something that only Steve knows. With the only remark that I couldn’t find a relationship between the tracks other than all tiles being photographers, this is an excellent release for summer evenings sitting on the porch drinking some beers with friends.
    The second +DOG+ release is a double CDR, and on this release, it’s not only Steve Davis but also Edward, LOB, Chuck, Ron, Mackenzie, Jack and Bobby. And off these names, only LOB rings a bell, being a member of Big City Orchestra and Instagon and curator of the NorCal NoiseFest. The release is called “Blooming Flower Volume 2”. Let’s just dive into it. As said, it’s a double CD-r and except for the titles, we got no info on the conceptual approach or background. Music-wise it is to be placed in the same sonic area as the “X6” release; So great to play when sitting on the porch drinking beers, but just as effective while getting stuff done. Yet in no way it’s background music – it’s way too invasive for that. Maybe that’s the connection to flowers. They bloom everywhere too and make sure life gets more beautiful too, except for those suffering from allergic rhinitis maybe. One of the things that caught my attention was that the tracks aren’t really evolving too much. They’re more defining moments with lots of fluctuation as opposed to, for example, drones or soundscapes that intend to have more of a story-telling aspect. The tracks should be considered more like an auditive snapshot as opposed to a story that is being told over time. The whole album becomes a beautiful photo album with this snapshot reference, which tells a story in itself.
    The third +DOG+ release is a split with the Greek project Ego Death. As his passport states, Ego Death – or Manos Michaelides – used to be way more active between 2005 and 2015, so it’s good to see a release by him again. “NIOSE” in Greek lettering comes from ‘niosos’, which means ‘to feel’, so it’s not a typo. The tracks by Ego Death are actually very much fitting to both, though. His four tracks with which the split starts are sensitive, well-thought compositions. The total playtime of Manos’ four tracks is over half an hour which some people would already turn into a release itself. And would this be the case? I’d probably end up saying that it’s a bit short but worth the money. But guess what, this one has over 20 minutes of +DOG+ still to listen to! Steve is alone again on these tracks. Except for “Finally some rest for the weary” which plays for almost 8 minutes, his tracks are quite short on this one. This long track is guided through murmured vocals and field recordings and actually grows to be quite epic in itself. Not stating the others are bad, no sir, because there is beauty in massive noisy sounds. The intensity of noise reveals how the listener handles his / her / their feelings towards it. But wait, wasn’t that something with the title?
    The final release in my stash is “Warlike” by Cost of Living. No info whatsoever, but it was Cam, Sam and Cave with additional guitars by Steve on their previous release. And yes, this album is good. It could be perfected production-wise, but I’m afraid it would lose its charms. So why do I like this album, you ask? Well, because it has absolutely no style, and because of that, it’s a style of its own. The tracks range from heavily death ambient inspired pieces (“Godeater”) to harsh noise (“Recognize”), to black metal (“Committed To The Flame”) to even some old-school industrial (“How They Kill”, “Buried / The Rise / The Fall”). Yet even with all these different styles, the album is clearly the output of one project. The vocals are in the same style and have the same treatment on all the tracks. The palette of sounds is recognizable throughout the CD. It’s also an overview of several different types of noise, so if you want to try out a few, this is as good a starting point as it gets. (BW)
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7697 MILES – CLA (cassette by Spomenik)

‘Cla’ is the third release of the duo 7697 Miles. We have Cristobal Rawlins on electronics, theremin, mix, and Dieter Mauson on electronics, guitar, and field recordings. I heard their debut release, ‘Kline’ (Vital Weekly 1137). Unlike many other collaborations, I believe the two musicians meet up, despite their distance (which I estimate to be 7697 miles, as one is in Chile and the other in Germany). That means there aren’t many possibilities to record music. 7697 Miles plays electronic music, which I called ‘armchair techno’. Maybe that’s unfair, but the group has a fair amount of rhythm and sequencers working for them. The results aren’t aimed (so I believe!) at the dance floor. The tempo of various tracks might be a bit too slow for that. But I am sitting back in my comfy chair, playing this spacious synthesizer music, tapping my finger along with the rhythm, thinking that this works very well for me. I discovered some old Porter Ricks influence in ‘Cobquecura (downtown mix)’. Still, in the other tracks, the influences were less prominent, even when the tabla’s in ‘Orejas Andantes’ sounded very much like Muslimgauze. All seven pieces have this lovely spacious chill-out character. Most of these pieces are lengthy, but these musicians handle that with great care. There is always enough variation within a track to remain attractive, yet it never breaks a piece’s trance-like atmosphere. Throughout, the music sounds well-produced, and as such, it is perhaps a pity that it is confined to a cassette in an edition of fifty copies. A piece of vinyl pitched at the right audience would reach the number of people this music deserves. (FdW)
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