Number 1336

DENEUVE – .BE (CD by Blowpipe Records) *
ALEXANDRA GRIMAL – REFUGE (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
AMBASCE – ISOLA SANTA (CD by Dissipatio) *
LUCA FORMENTINI – INTRA- (CD by Subcontinental) *
GIOVANNI DAL MONTE – ANESTETICO V1 & V2 (2CD by Sonica Botanica) *
SEBATIAN STRINNING – TURM (LP by Wide Ear Records) *
TEST CARD – PATTERNS (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
ICE YACHT – NOISY NYLON (cassette by Snatch Tapes) *
QUEIMADA – MI PIEL (cassette by Søvn Records) *
TONTO – FUNCTIONAL STUPIDITY (cassette by Grandine Records) *
HYACINTH. – ALL DREAMS FADE. (cassette by Moonside Tapes) *
IACOBUS DE ALBION – MESSE EN MIDI (cassette by Moonside Tapes) *

DENEUVE – .BE (CD by Blowpipe Records)

The best-kept secret of The Netherlands: deNeuve. That’s how I see it, and sadly, best kept secret means: great music that no one knows. Here, I have no idea if that is true; maybe they are known by more people than I realize. I see this duo rarely mentioned anywhere, yet their releases are great. Behind deNeuve, we find Andre Bach and Marc Tegefoss, working together since the late 70s, first with Tox Modell, Tecnovlle and later as Det Wiehl. In the latter capacity, they created a bunch of pieces for choreography. As deNeuve, they return to the world of compact composition (to avoid the word ‘pop’). The guitar played a big part in their previous musical enterprises; in deNeuve, electronics play a more significant role, and that is certainly the case on ‘.be’; add that to the group’s name, and you’ll find their website. Their music defies easy description. Some rhythms (out of a box, rather than a drummer) remind me of techno, acid or EBM, forcefully hammering away. On top of that, they wave all sorts of things together, their voices, scrambled and not always easy to follow their lyrics (I didn’t try that hard either), samples of voices from other sources, synthesizer heavily oscillating, their distorted guitars or rampant sound effects sparking electricity. The music is usually fast-paced, backed with some slower motions to give the listener some space to breathe, but there is vibrancy throughout. Maybe, this is the sound of rapid city life, with lots of things happening, people and sounds everywhere with its dark corners and alleys. Dubby, spacious, fast-paced rhythms, craziness; at forty-three minutes, this album left me somewhat exhausted, but I started to play it all over once I got my breath. And then went back to their earlier releases and happily noted that the curve is still going up. There is even an old Tox Modell in there, if you know your history! (FdW)
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ALEXANDRA GRIMAL – REFUGE (CD by Relative Pitch Records)

It seems to me the continuous and growing stream of female musicians is taking on considerable momentum: Seeing that five out of seven new releases on Relative Pitch are by female (soloist) musicians, and out of the two ensemble releases, one has 1/3 female contribution.
    Alexandra Grimal is a French saxophone player. In the past decade and a little more, she has built an impressive catalogue of releases under her name. She also plays with Joelle Leandre’s ensemble and in the (French) Orchestre National de Jazz. As stated in the last edition, solo music has its challenges. There is no fall-back, no one who will fill the little gaps when regaining one’s breath and switching ideas. Here she is, exploring the acoustics in the Chateau de Chambord. Mainly this is an exploration of the resounding space, i.e. echoes. The titles give some insight into where recordings were made, i.e. in a specific (double revolution) staircase (a picture is provided). Chambord was built in the French Renaissance style, blending medieval with Renaissance elements and is one of the best known Loire Valley castles … and was never fully completed.
    As with all ‘concept’ projects, this attempt achieves or fails with the degree of interest the music can generate of its own virtues, even stripped of any background knowledge on how, where, and why it was recorded. This specific release is more on the ‘fail’ side. Grimal in most parts and pieces uses the saxophone to play melodic lines continuously. ‘Echoes’ and the effect of a resonating space will best be heard when playing intermittently. To me, many parts seem too long, the playing digresses to some sort of noodling, and the variety of sounds and lines does not sufficiently disclose the space that is supposedly being explored and exploited. I am not sure the acoustics of this single space actually warrant a full release. I would want to imagine Grimal moving around and exploring the reverb of different locations and spaces, but little can be identified from the sound(s) here. It’s a pity, really. Masayo Koketsu, whose Relative Pitch release will be discussed in the next issue, is also a saxophone player – her release is a complete opposite, and I must say, succeeded in capturing my attention far better. (RSW)
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David Tudor was a U.S.American composer who was a pioneer in electroacoustic music, and especially the use of installations as instruments and platforms for experiencing music (or better, an ‘audio event’), abandoning the concept of a ‘concert’ as a collective experience and turning it into an individual one, and an irreproducible one, at that.
    Neuma is currently releasing a flurry of archival recordings. Yes, this is sometimes warranted when contemporary life in the present turns into an a-historic, memory-less, navel-gazing bore. But I am not sure the zillionth release of John Cage archival recordings (not reviewed here but released as a digital-only release, I understand) really is needed these days.
    Tudor’s work, though, deserves to be remembered. The ‘Rainforest’ concept entailed all sorts of objects being brought to resonate and oscillate. Placed in a room or performing space, they would ‘interact’ and, in the flurry of different sounds, frequencies, and patterns, ‘communicate’ with each other, such as animals in a rainforest. Alas, this was not actually the intention. Tudor focused on the sounds and their interaction in the space, not on simulating a specific soundscape. Add to this the novelty of not having a score at all and the dependency of the audience experience on the individual’s movement through space, and you have a revolutionary concept of working with sound.
    Tudor had come up with an idea of using electronics and electromagnetics to bring objects of trivial appearance to produce sound. In the days he worked on inventing the necessary electronics, there was no AI and Tudor’s work not only involved building the installations but also handing on the knowledge on electronics and electromagnetics to his ‘apprentices’ (who would later turn into the ‘Composers inside electronics’ collective who provided the recordings published here). The objects were thus not ‘autonomous’ but triggered by the ‘musicians’ seated behind the electronic controls. This did not prevent the audience, oblivious that the sounds were manually triggered, of believing in some ‘autonomous life’ of the gadgets.
    Nevertheless, the sound experience is exhilarating. You need to listen to the recording with earphones (obviously) as they were made using binaural microphones carried around the exhibition space. The recording was made in 1977 off the fourth incarnation of Rainforest. It runs more than an hour and might get a bit boring at times, especially as the listener is unaware of what is going on, and lacking any visual information. Still, the sound moves from single, identifiable sounds to rackets of collective noise, very much as in many industrial live recordings. An hour is a long time to fill, and once a soundscape has settled in, it threatens to get a bit redundant, but then the aural situation shifts again and captures one’s attention again.
    This recording is certainly an archival one that is worth revisiting as it shows the origins and early implementations of ideas that would later resurface as Survival Research Laboratories, Paul Panhuysen (to some degree, remember the canaries installation?), and the many gallery installations, including one we did ourselves as Raumerkundung in the Vooruit in Gent, amplifying the vibrations of the building and our own equipment. This CD preserves the memory of where all this originated. A definitely worthwhile memory. (RSW)
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With Die Fermentierten we are in the company of a Swiss trio of Lino Blöchlinger (alto- and bass saxophones), Valentin Baumgartner (guitar, EFX, Vocals) and Tobias Sommer (drums). A debut recording and a testament and tribute to Valentin Baumgartner, who tragically died two days after completing the recordings through an accident while walking in the mountains. A tragedy. Originally Die Fermentierten began as a duo of Blöchlinger and Sommer. Lino Blöchlinger is a Swiss saxophonist and flutist, son of saxophonist Urs Blöchlinger. He participated in his father’s Urs Blöchlinger Revisited and Fisherman’s Orchestra. With the quintet Le String Blö he released an album for Veto in 2019 with compositions by saxophonist Sebastian Strinning and Lino Blöchlinger. Since early childhood, Tobias Sommer has played the drums and is equally at home in jazz and metal contexts and everything in between. He is a member of the live-dub band King Crab and techno-project Kajak. Valentin Baumgartner studied jazz at the Hochschule Luzern and had his band Extrafish brewing their own blend of world music. Björn Magnusson guests on two tracks with a synthesizer. What is their music about? It is a sort of avant free rock, full of ideas with drastic and inventive manoeuvres and twists. They play with the energy and attitude of punk. Most of the ten tracks resulted from group improvisation. Baumgartner and one by Blöchlinger wrote three. Some pieces like ‘Hustle with Care’ are noisy improvisation, whereas others like Fire Ants on Christmas’ are short jazz-induced improvisation with fine intertwined lines by sax, guitar and drums. Baumgartner often adds distorted and manipulated sounds from his guitar, like in ‘Uncle Festher’s Birthday Song’. ‘Three eyes no soul’ is a song with vocals by Baumgartner in a rhythmic complex song with disorienting synth by guest player Magnusson. ’22 Dogs Dropping from a Moontower’ starts as a tight over the top explosion and changes halfway into a modest and open improvisation finding its way out in a noisy apotheosis. No idea if the trio often played live. However, they sound like a solid trio. And alas, this recording marks the end of a promising collaboration. (DM)
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Scott’s fascination for electronic music started from listening to Cabaret Voltaire, Lee Scratch Perry and Stockhausen (!). In the 80s, he became involved in improvised music – London Musician’s Collective – and studied saxophone with Elton Dean and Stee Lacy. Studies in Indian classical en West-African music followed and in action theatre improvisation and electroacoustic composition. So for sure, an artist with a broad scope of interest and a great love for modular electronics is at the centre. Scott performed above all in the context of improvised music with musicians like Evan Parker, Clive Bell, Olaf Rup, Jon Rose, Thomas Lehn, Audrey Chen, and many others. He released many records since the 90s in many different collaborations and groups (Twinkle, Grutronic, etc.). Since 2015 he has run his Sound Anatomy label, a digital record label focusing on electroacoustic, electronic and improvised music. This long-lasting combination of working with electronics and live improvisation makes Scott a member of a rare species! Scott prefers working with analogue and modular synthesizers and used the following equipment for this recording: Hordijk Modular, Serge Modular, Buchla 200, EMS Synthi A, various Eurorack modules, Buchla Thunder midi controller, Oberheim Xpander, Clavia Nord Micro Modular, CataRT and Max/MSP, Rob Hordijk Blippoo boxes and Benjolin, saxophone and percussion. He created eight abstracts but vivacious and engaging electronic works with this instrumentation. Multi-dimensional and multi-layered compositions often give the impression of different instruments following different lines. This is exactly what Scott was aiming for. Partly by programming and partly by improvising, he creates the image of an interplay of other voices, building together one work. Resulting in vibrant and communicative works of maximized possibilities. (DM)
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I risk stating something that I mentioned before, but Aidan Baker has an extended discography of which I only heard a few. I always enjoy what I hear, yet I never actively seek to listen to all of his work. One of the more obvious reasons is that there is already so much music to hear. Another thing that I surely messaged before is that I once saw a concert by Baker, which I thought was great and made me respect his music even more. ‘The Evelyn Tables’ is “the oldest known anatomical preparations in Europe, dating to 1646, are an early yet humbling insight into the networks within the human body, a network within natural networks that govern the physical constraints of the human material existence”. One can see the music here as a network too. A dense network, if you will, which quietly reveals what’s inside. As I should think, Baker is commonly known as a guitar player, and he uses electric and acoustic ones. If I had not known this, I must admit that I would not readily think of guitars. Only at the start of the third piece, ‘CN_X’, do I recognise the guitar. The opening piece, ‘CNS’, sounds like something of an unknown origin has been endlessly slowed down on a reel-to-reel machine, which is then fed through a delay pedal. That pedal makes the only notable change within the music, so it seems. It’s very dark music, mysterious, and sets the tone for the whole album. Each of the four pieces (there are four tables) follows a similar path of darkness and slowness. There is nothing hurried about the music, and everything unfolds gradually. Or rather, it doesn’t unfold. It just moves and moves, with no apparent start or stop. These pieces, lasting ten to fourteen minutes, could easily last an hour, and probably that wouldn’t be boring either. Baker plays high-quality ambient music, which is something he’s an absolute master of, and ‘The Evelyn Tables’ is another example of that mastery. (FdW)
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AMBASCE – ISOLA SANTA (CD by Dissipatio)

“ A place that is real but unreal at the same time and so abstract, it is ideal to introduce Isola Santa, focused on the dualism matter-not matter, nature and artifice.”; reads Alberto Picchi’s determination to bring something forth that marks a certain scope and perspective to this work. Whether or not he started with this statement or concluded with it is hard to say. But in a poetic sense and also in an empirical sense, in the process of this album, it is clear he is or has been looking for “The one who passes through these opposite suggestions, calculates, acts, creates and then stops reflecting his aspiration in a space of light.” as Picchi states.
Isola Santa reads and feels like a postcard. I write “reads” and “feels” as all the sound is visually and viscerally stimulating, even towards the level of getting underneath the skin, but the music is just as much a personal statement towards his art; Picchi must be obsessed with quality, and of his work he is critical, carrying sharp composition tools to accomplish this determined momentum and final result.
    The formations of the album grow towards aesthetic minimalism, but a narrative that is emotionally realistic in its grandeur; an epic, lucid story about a place known and unknown, told with emotion and abstract images. ‘Estasi’ has a lively speed to it, forming a landscape with a rapture that can lift you in a Ferris wheel if you are not careful; dazzling interwovenness of silences, sounds and harmonies carefully constructed, magically crafted in a poetic form of experimentation. Sharp and clear resonances bring abstract images to fields of empty spaces filled with unusually energetic colourful sounds. Writing about the record makes you want to lose all the preconceived knowledge and language and just look at a new horizon where everything is possible.
    Interesting turns in the abstract digital world, contact microphones and the broken glass give way to a more concrete segment of the record, vital to the grounding of the listening experience and necessary progress to the album’s movement.
    ‘Isola Santa’ is a hyperreal, gorgeous document shifting gears once again for the ambitious Dissipatio label anno 2022. Fitting artwork by Nada Youssef. (MC)
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It is not easy to perceive Kim Cascone’s music in depth. It is not easy to perceive and give meaning to what one perceives in general, but for Cascone’s music, who is well known for his attitude towards music focusing on the imaginative and metaphysical attributes instead of the material, the human brain is challenged to investigate, outside and inside, after hearing the first notes.
    As thus follows his project Khem One: “the project name: Kim i.e. Khem (Egyptian for the colour Black, used to describe the banks along the Nile), CascONE i.e. One, also, reference to Cascone’s very first computer in 1978: the KIM-1 a single board 6502 based computer programmed in machine language”, as Kim states.
According to Cascone, he had been “waiting for it all” (the album) during the pandemic years. Finally, however, the album’s only thing present to him was the title and the artwork: flowers, which in turn served as “portals”, according to Cascone.
    Cascone’s creative process comes “through” him, as he himself says, but writing about the record deserves some inquisitive speculation. If we would resemble the internal process to the creation of a flower, the blossomed flowers are 1/5 of the production time from seed to full blossom. A beautiful otherworldly bouquet of unknown flowers appears on the front cover.
    The title track strikes the heart of the album, which seems to hint at Cascones’ interest in Eastern esoteric knowledge and philosophy, not to mention the subtle craft of cultivating and communicating the knowledge by a form of sound and music. A beautiful meditation on the E Phrygian dominant scale? Who shall say?
    The pieces sound as if they have sitting for some time “under water” indeed.
Leads to the speculative process of the creation are found in the titles respectively: “The Signalling Instrument”, recalls the vision of the primal communication of the artist describing his environment and communicating to the tribe of his whereabouts, as a form of communication from the inside to the outside world(s).
    “The Aleatoric Mark” hints at a compositional process being used “determined in general but depends on chance in detail” as Werner Meyer-Eppler used it the first time in 1955, followed by thought and practices by Pierre Boulez and Stockhausen: a beautiful underwater landscape of a balanced fixed and chance-based operations gives form to a painting from deep within, sparkling like a fountain. Moreover, the “Mark” gives the indication that it indeed has a different colour, line, or symbol than the rest.
The Pollen tracks were previously written and reworked and sound like fitting intermezzos where the listener can come up for air for a moment. “Oneiric Fragment” reads like a dream within the albums’ dream.
    Finally, “Snowy Creek” is the cinematic lushness that is welcome on “ambient” albums like this.  We are confronted with an emotive Cascone, describing a place of inescapable surreal beauty, with the drama of the ungraspable, as all must change.
    All and all, a great album, where Cascone finds, reflects on and documents his conclusions in his beautiful travels throughout the universe, whether you believe certain resonances can have supra mundane qualities or not. (MC)
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LUCA FORMENTINI – INTRA- (CD by Subcontinental)

Not too sure here, but this might be the first time I review something from a label from the subcontinent of India. I heard music by Luca Formentini before, but a long time ago (Vital Weekly 590). Back then he had a few guest players, but this its him solo; other than using the voice of Dr Sidney Cohen and an “unnamed American housewife who volunteered for an experiment at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Los Angeles in 1956”. What he has been up to in between I don’t know, but there have been a few more albums. Instruments aren’t specified as such, but I believe the guitar is his main instrument, but in the information he says it is less so, and relies more on the use of electronics,stuff from the kicthen and a self-made soundboard. Sound effects he uses in abundance. As before, Formetini’s music is all about ambience and as such of the more friendly variation. There is at the cover of some of these piece, a bit of an improvised feedling, but reverb, delay and what-not obscure that a bit, and everything is smoothly layered. Also as before, the music is not very outspoken, a bit jazzy at times, and has a very laidback feeling. The spoken word fragments could add to the radio-play/story-like character this sometimes, but I wasn’t particularly paying attention to the spoken details. I’d rather see it as another layer of music. I noticed that those bits seemed a bit darker in an otherwise light-ish album. As such, the music reaches the shores of new age muisc, but the somewhat bleaker and darker moments saved the album for me. A bit more darkness I would certainly welcome here, but, hey, it’s a sunny day, so why not music of a lighter nature to colour the day? Let’s hope that a follow-up won’t be that far off. (FdW)
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GIOVANNI DAL MONTE – ANESTETICO V1 & V2 (2CD by Sonica Botanica)

Here we have two CDs; one is thirty-nine minutes, the other forty-seven, so why not on one CD, you may ask. Giovanni Dal Monte has two distinctly different approaches to his music, so it makes sense. The title translates as ‘anaesthetic’ and is about doing that to the body and mind, and has to do “with the times we are going through, it is now clear that the existence of humanity and the entire planet are linked by a thread”. So music as an escape from all of that, I assume. The first CD is ‘Neolithic’, the world we live in and the second is ‘Evitico’, “the mother of humanity in the Judeo-Christian tradition”. I think I had not heard of this musician before, whose work is used in films by cult director Bruce LaBruce and other films (none I saw). Sometimes he performs live. Electronic music is his world, but he works with rhythms, sequences, and loops on the first CD. This doesn’t result in music aimed at the dancefloor but takes his influence from that world. I would think Dal Monte has a modular set-up to twist and re-shape his rhythms using a modular set-up. It is pleasurable to hear but maybe also a bit too regular. Entertaining enough, but there is nothing that sticks right away. On the second disc, the music is moody and darker. Not necessarily in an ambient/drone way. Here Dal Monte plays with synthesizers that sound like a harpsichord, an abstract bubble machine, some drones, some melodies and some guest vocals (by Fabrizio Modenese Palumbo and Ozcan Basak. The addition of vocals wasn’t necessary as far as I am concerned. In his quieter work, Dal Monte has an abstract touch, even an improvised feeling that does not always work. Again, this is a pleasure to hear, but none of the eleven pieces sticks out as an absolute winner. Pleasant pastime music. (FdW)
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Seeing this to be a solo LP of saxophone music, I thought I only needed a quick inspection before passing it on to someone more capable of all matters improvisation. As you can see, I was wrong. Somewhere in a Swiss forest, inside an almost 50-meter high concrete tower, Strinning played his saxophone, using the acoustics of a concrete tower as an additional instrument. Not a novel idea, of course, but I like Strinning’s approach here. His saxophone sounds most of the time, not really as a saxophone. Sure, you may recognise it, but his more extended tones are more like overtones, which is also due to the acoustics doing their work here. The music occasionally leans towards free-jazz/improvisation, but some pieces are very noisy (‘III”) or drone-like, such as ‘II’, with its beautiful long, fog-horn-like tones. Strinning has various approaches, and I’d say, close to nine different ones, making this album a highly varied one. I enjoyed most of these approaches, be it crude and loud or quiet and reflective. The crazier, the better, but I guess that’s just me. Also, in using the acoustics of the tower, Strinning has various approaches. Each piece has a particular treatment, whether far away, with lots of natural overtones, or close by and dry. Quite powerful stuff going on, and something that should be reached by people who are into noise or electro-acoustic music. (FdW)
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The name Akustikkoppler sounds Danish or Norwegian and could mean ‘acoustic coupler’, which might be an odd name for an electronic duo; I was expecting something along the lines of electro-acoustic improvisation. They are Malte Steiner and Matthias Schuster, both from Hamburg. In these pages, Steiner, we may have come across his electronic bands, Das Kombinat and Notstandkomitee, which he has been operating since the early 80s. Maybe too old for me to find in my Vital archives. Matthias Schuster’s musical background goes back even further, with his involvement in the Neue Deutsche Welle, with his band Giesterfahrer and his studio work recording bands from the late 70s. The two have worked together since 2004, and ‘Alles Muss Raus’ (‘everything has to go’) is their fourth album. The music they recorded between 2008 and 2012, but for whatever reason, it is now released; the delay is not explained. It is my first encounter with their music. I must admit I don’t remember Steiner’s music all too well and remember it as more industrial. There is also an intense love of electronic music in his work with Schuster, but not as harsh. Yet, at the same time, this is also far removed from the world of ambient. Or techno, for that matter. It is, perhaps, something of everything. Rhythm and sequences play an essential role in these pieces, along with hints towards melodies and at the same time also staying on a slightly more abstract side. Maybe there is that ‘locked in a bunker’ sound? I am reminded of the music of Conrad Schnitzler here as well. It is hooky rhythms and non-keyboard electronics, but also the accessibility of the music, which is very high, works well here. There is a spooky quality in the music here, that undercurrent of danger, perhaps, which makes the music quite suitable for a film. Most of these pieces are mid-to uptempo, so there is a fine sense of urgency here. Great one! I should find the first three records as well. (FdW)
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JARR – TALKING ABOUT X (CDR by Sound In Silence)
TEST CARD – PATTERNS (CDR by Sound In Silence)

Here we have one new name and one returning artist. Let’s start with the newbie, JARR. This is an acronym for Jon Attwood, also known as Yellow6 and Ray Robinson, who we could know as Wodwo. He’s a new name for me. He has been active since 2018, whereas Attwood has already been for more than two decades and has over 150 releases. Both musicians use guitars and sound effects as they firmly show us on their ‘Talking About X’ album. This album is their second one, following ‘An Echo In Her Skin’ on Hush Hush Records. Little as I know about the practice of guitar playing. They play their guitars in real-time and rely less on looping devices. And if they are here, they are used to playing with drones in the background. On top of that, they strum slowly and solemnly their notes. In their ambient approach to the guitar, they lean towards the world of post-rock. It’s been a while since I was more actively seeking out new music in that particular corner of the music world, and some years ago (as in twenty), but listening to these nine compositions, I am reminded of Labradford, Windy & Carl and the likes. Quiet yet forceful are the sound tapestries that slowly unfold before our eyes: music that depicts wide-open vistas or warm sand and a burning sun. The titles may not give away that ‘The One Who Was Pale As Milk’, ‘The One Whose Sister Died’ and may seem to paint pictures of people instead of places. Some of these titles are very Hitchcock-like, and I can imagine these to work quite alright in cinema. Whatever works best, I believe the music seems open enough for such interpretations. A certain amount of sameness is undoubtedly part of this, so there are not stand-out pieces but also no weak brothers. If a solid soundtrack of despair is yours, this is certainly something to check out.
    ‘Patterns’ is the third album I hear from Test Card (see also Vital Weekly 1112 and 1218), Lee Nicholson’s music project. A great title that fits the band quite well, I think. While Test Card touches upon melancholy as much as JARR does, there are some differences. It may sound like a contradiction, but Test Card’s tunes are also melancholic but also light. Piano, guitar and a rhythm machine all find their way through fuzzy and hazy electronics. It almost becomes pop music in the hands of Nicholson. Slow music, spacious, and mostly warm, analogue (I think). Unlike JARR, there is not as much ‘sameness’ in the music here. The presence or absence of rhythm here makes quite a difference in this music. The guitars chime open and bright from joyous to sad, fast to slow. A most enjoyable release, reminding me of The Durutti Column, when he started to mix his trademark guitar sound with synthesizers. And it reminded me of every solo guitar player I heard beyond, especially when I was deep into post-rock. That musical genre, this is not, I’d say, even when Test Card borrows quite a few ideas. The addition of electronics makes his music far more personal, I’d say. It’s a bright and sunny day, and this music is the perfect soundtrack for such a day. (FdW)
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Here we have another newbie in the field of ambient music, Alessandro Incorvaia. He is from Italy and currently living in London. Ambient is one of his interests. He plays bass in the Polish noise-psych-punk band Artykuly Rolne, a free impro duo Corvarino/Incorvaia and a duo Hornschaft with Giordano Simoncini. The six pieces of music on ‘It Emerged To Hold Me’., he recorded between January to March 2021, in “the middle of a depressive period involving burn-out. The music here started as therapy, but it turned out to be an ongoing activity. According to the information, Incorvaia uses synthesizers, guitars, keyboards and samples. He uses these with great. Granted, listening to ambient music as much as I do, I rarely raise an eyebrow, and that’s not what I am doing here (spoiler alert?). Obviously, I’d say there is not much need to innovate particular music; you can easily carve a corner for yourself. Maybe shift a few things, but that’s it. Incorvaia melts his sounds into a small cloud in each of these pieces, tying it all together in a hazy, misty mass of sound. Sometimes the guitar steps up, or a rhythm is ticking away in the background (in ‘From One Side To The Other, From One Side To The Other’; that’s the icing on the cake in each piece. It adds a bit of different colour to these pieces and the necessary variations. Is that what makes Incorvaia different from others? Not really, but again maybe not an interesting question. I know that Incorvaia has an excellent moody set of music, well-produced, with great depth, and hopefully, he will produce some more of this. (FdW)
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ICE YACHT – NOISY NYLON (cassette by Snatch Tapes)

The downside of hearing a lot of music (and getting older) is that I don’t remember past music all too well. Here’s an example. I would think that the first time I heard Ice Yacht (Vital Weekly 981), it was all quite ambient, even when Philip Sanderson, former Storm Bugs and man behind Ice Yacht, used a bit of rhythm. Fast forward to the current release, ‘Noisy Nylon’, and I am trying to figure out the differences. This cassette contains much more rhythmical music than I remember from the previous releases. Sanderson says that someone marked this as ‘industrial’ music, and I can see why someone would say that. It is industrial, and yet, perhaps, industrial music of a different kind. The music is also melodic, with arpeggios running wild. At the same time, one could also see cosmic music going wild. The industrial music aspect lies in the straightforward approach. Sanderson isn’t interested in smoothing things up here, especially in the opening blast of ‘Nitty Nora (Head Explore)’, with its very edgy rhythms. There might be vocals herein, but they are pushed to the background a lot of heavily processed. Unlike Sanderson’s ‘other’ work, vocals play a much more significant role. Only in ‘Break Their Legs So They Can’t Lay Eggs’, Ice Yacht pulls back and has a rather mellow tone, oddly also enough the most vocal piece. I am least enamoured with ‘Running From Ghosts’, which, at thirteen minutes, is the most extended piece here. Here Sanderson does all psyched out jam on electronics, held together by what could be an unsteady drum loop, changing the mood off and on. It is too freaky, certainly in contrast with the other six. These are concise and to the point excursions of cosmic music being crushed by the wheels of hard-hitting pop industrialism. A great blast! (FdW)
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QUEIMADA – MI PIEL (cassette by Søvn Records)

From Italy to Copenhagen. That is the journey for Queimada, whom I had not heard of before. He works solo, with releases on a Gin & Platonic and Rest Now! but also has a duo with the Taiwanese sound artist Sabiwa. The label calls this an EP, but at thirty-three minutes, one could say that this is a full-length album. I would think that Queimada is mainly interested in working with digital means. The opening sounds of ‘Sorridi’, the first track on ‘Mi Piel’ have that digital stutter that made Oval famous. That is close to thirty years ago, and off and on, there have been Oval copycats (which, remember what I said last week, I find not to be a problem). You can say that Oval might have influenced Queimada as well, but he may never have heard of the project for all I know. He uses “melted-down samples and field recordings”, which he arranges somewhat rhythmically. Nothing here is intended as dance music, and there is no bass pulse to keep you going. As said, the stutter effect is an important thing. Also, granular synthesis is applied widely, ripping sounds up and down. Using small fragments and sculpting these into music is what Queimada does, and I am pretty pleased with his release. There are also drones, alive and well in the background, acting as the road for those bumpy samples to travel upon. Despite the fact that there is a rather laidback ambient atmosphere in the music, there is also a fine vibrancy in this music, adding some urgency to the music. Again, that is part of the stutter effect, I should think, but something that works very well. I wouldn’t mind to some more where this came from. (FdW)
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TONTO – FUNCTIONAL STUPIDITY (cassette by Grandine Records)

Francesco Fedde is from Italy but is based in Utrecht (The Netherlands) these days. Tonto is his solo project in which he plays drums, sings and plays electronics. It has nothing to do with Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, but Lightning Bolt, Shellac, Zu, and Death Grips are mentioned. In a parallel universum, these are alternative names, but they hardly appear on my radar. I’d say that this particular Tonto operates on the extreme end of improvisation, meeting up with rock and noise in equal parts. I recognize some of Zu and Lightning Bolt simply because I saw both bands in concert long ago. Despite some of the rockist sounds that may not be entirely my cup of tea, I enjoyed the way electronics play an essential role in music. Piezo pickups (sometimes also called contact microphones) are used to amplify the voice, and I would think also there is a real microphone, which makes up for an interesting electronic texture. Tonto has a few guest players on bass and guitar, but not on every track. These tracks immediately become rockier than some of the wilder solo material. With tracks ranging from just over one minute to five minutes, this has considerable speed and much energy; wild and uncontrolled energy, of course. This was mid-day, the exact kind of thing to fire me up again. (FdW)
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HYACINTH. – ALL DREAMS FADE. (cassette by Moonside Tapes)
IACOBUS DE ALBION – MESSE EN MIDI (cassette by Moonside Tapes)

And there I was, thinking, ‘All Dreams Fade.’ What a lovely, poetic title. It opens with a fine, spooky rhythmic piece, ‘ A Soft Glow Illumaninates’. Maybe lifted of a record, maybe with some additional treatments. But then something strange happens. At one minute twenty-something seconds, there is a fade-out. Alright, odd, I thought. I was just getting into this. ‘Lemme Tell You What’ also has a laidback rhythm and, lo and behold, another fade out. It turns out that all of these pieces are just one minute, with one exception being over two minutes, repeat this idea of a great, rhythmic start of what could potentially be a great piece, fading into the great nothing. It’s almost as if one listens to a teaser on Bandcamp. I checked the label’s page, and I read that “hyacinth. is a native non-binary multi~disciplinary artist residing deep in the heart of Cascadia” and “they recorded their hazy dream pop-inspired beats”. But nothing about why this is all sketch-like or all too brief. I’d love to hear more, but then the completed piece of music, should such a thing exist. Or is this an invitation to use thee rhythms and create one’s own composition?
    There is absolutely no information on Iacobus de Albion and his ‘Messe En Midi’, which, I think, translates to Midi Mass. One of the three pieces is ‘Kyrie’, so maybe there is a religious aspect to this music? The whole release is twenty-one minutes, and the music throughout is entirely electronic. ‘Introit’, is the introductionairy opener here, with a metallic Kling Klang percussion and at four minutes, perhaps a bit long for an intro. ‘Kyrie’ consists of a slow two-note figure, and slowly voice-like material moves in from the background, and towards the end, that is what remains. ‘Chanson’ has a quicker paced sample and rocks back and forth in the manner of Steve Reich, and here also a shift towards voice material occurs, and the sample fades out and later on it comes back on, but slower. Quite esoteric, but I found it most enjoyable. Here too, I’d say too short. Not necessarily the length of these three pieces, but I would enjoy a couple more variations of this. In some way, there are some tremendous unfulfilled expectations with both of these releases. (FdW)
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Elijah Värttö, also known as Leitmotiv Limbo, brought his home-crafted instruments to a disused church hall in his hometown for his new release. Along with a four-track cassette recorder, two-room microphones and a direct line. His instruments are made of metal springs and wood. I reviewed his music before (Vital Weekly 12191152 and 951), and I enjoyed his direct approach quite a bit. Much of his music has that concrete basement sound. Stick a microphone in the air and tumble about, using instruments (iI think I heard a synthesizer, saxophone, guitar) combined with tape experiments and metal percussion. It always sounds relatively obscure, and this new cassette is not different. Except, of course, the basement is now a church space. The natural reverb plays quite a role here, but the microphones stay close to the instruments. Leitmotiv Limbo is not interested in overusing the space here. An additional source for sound. His free approach to music remains intact in the thirteen pieces, lasting sixty minutes. He makes his different moves by either scraping and bowing his instruments or going on in a more rhythmical vein. Sometimes the natural reverb is a bit in the way of the music; the drumming is too fast, and the sustain could be used more effectively. None of the drumming is fast or aggressive, and rather more ritual approaches to the music. As I just the other day saw the film ‘The Northman’, which had a great soundtrack (by Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough), I see a connection here, I guess. I have no idea if Leitmotiv Limbo has something similar in mind, but I enjoyed his free-spirited bang on a string, and a can make a lot; there is some excellent variety in the music here. Electronics seem absent this time. Great tape! (FdW)
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