Number 1339

CARL STONE – WAT DONG MOON LEK (CD by Unseen Worlds) *
BRUNO DUPLANT – SOMBRES MIROIRS (CD by Cronica Electronica) *
VAHELÜLI / THE LINK BETWEEN (compilation LP by Synoptik)
BLACK TENT – MANAGED RETREAT (10″ by Imprecision) *
LLARKS – BLUSH (cassette by Lamour) *
EUS – VHINTO NO DRESCE (cassette by Avalanche) *
ENRIKE HURTADO – 801 SONGS/WAYGB (cassette by Crystal Mine) *
O.R.D.U.C. – FAST FORWARD (cassette by New Bulwark) *
MORTEN RIIS – LAD ENHVER LYD MINDE OS OM (cassette by Cronica Electronica) *


MC Maguire is a USAmerican composer and producer with an interest in deconstructing music to then re-assemble it in a completely new guise. His past releases included ‘Nothing left to destroy’, ‘Trash of civilizations’, and ‘Meta-Conspiracy’. Combined with a connotation to Plunderphonics and Cut-up art, a sense of humour is detected here, combined with a good pinch of cultural vandalism. Nevertheless, his music is labelled as ‘contemporary classical’, which initially comes as a surprise.
    Listening to the tracks, you dive into a chaos of apparently ‘found sound’ of several orchestras and pop records all playing simultaneously, with a gradual addition of elements that sound more like a digital cut-up. As the first of the two pieces on this release, ‘Predisposition’, further unfolds, you notice instruments being added and suspect that some of the orchestra sounds are not mixed in but have been deliberately added. Having a second look at the liner notes, you notice that this is a piece for ‘Orchestra and APU’, i.e. orchestra and tape. This explains some of the musical construction but still leaves you at a total loss, which parts of the tape and the orchestra are taking. A vocalist is also credited. With styles ranging from USAmerican early 20th century classical (the film score type) to some rock elements, Keith Emerson synth sounds, pop elements all shooting off into different directions, taking turns, layering, being interrupted to give way to other sounds, then resuming again, this is a hell of a sonic ride.
    The second track, ‘Apophis’, is more straight orchestra (I think …). The layering is a little less dense and appears to contain more ‘live’ instruments, which (I believe) includes a traditional orchestra and half a ‘rock’ group with keyboards (I might be mistaken). Maguire manages to have the orchestra (if I am right) create a sufficient racket to match the first piece – just so. This track certainly owes more to the playing of actual instruments than source layering.
    I must say I enjoyed both, one for the sheer chupze of mix presented, the second more for the mix of orchestra and rock/pop sounds (not necessarily elements) creating a ‘Wagnerian’ tumult. This made me really curious about other MC Maguire releases…! (RSW)
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Neuma is not necessarily a label known for synthesizer music but rather the experimental and contemporary. Insofar this release is a bit of a surprise, as, though it is labelled as ‘electro-acoustic’ is nothing such, but purely electronic music. The band name sounds a bit ‘business like’, consultants, maybe, or a group of financial advisers. In fact, the two musicians, David Margolin Lawson and David Merrill, are sound engineers by profession, having first met at the CityVox Studios in New York. Unfortunately, neither the label, band, nor Discogs pages reveal much more than this.
    So let’s have the music speak. The promo material references 20th-century contemporary music such as Steve Reich, Edgar Varese, Morton Subotnik etc., but expect nothing like this on this release. Insofar the label ‘electro-acoustic’, that with me would invoke names like Francois Bayle, GRM, Jerome Noetinger and many more, is incorrect and ‘electronic’ is the far better attribute. The music has been assembled by – in essence – a mail-art approach, the two composers sending their recordings to-and-fro for the other to add, modify, and refine. Something that, of course, is much easier today than in the 80ies hey-days. Synthesizers of all kinds are prominent, and in the first track, I seem to recognise a processed flute, reminding me of Florian Schneider and Ralf Huetter, but this could also be purely synthetic.
    Which does not really matter. The fear that two engineers gone musician can only create Alan     arsons bombast is without substance here. Synth sounds have been layered and loops used across most recordings, but there is a persistent sense of musicianship, where moods transition, pieces pause and resume. Nevertheless, Lawson & Merrill actually tread a very thin line here. Whilst the pieces take quite descriptive names such as ‘Morning Meditation’, ‘A Day at the beach’ that border hard on cliches, the music could be located somewhere between very early Kraftwerk (‘Ralf & Florian’) in the first track, a bit of Cluster in the third, and Klaus Schuetze, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, and Tomita across the whole release, with some darker In Slaughter Natives thrown in when sine wave converts to bass, saw tooth sound. The inventiveness and craftmanship shown always give the pieces (apart from maybe the last track, ‘Coda’) enough to keep the listener interested and not let thoughts flow away. This music is, though, constantly under threat of ending up on cheesy ‘Meditation Music’ compilations, which these musicians just about avoid by making enough happen in the mix. But it should warn that too much synth-layering and feel-good moodiness can also severely backfire. (RSW)
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Saxophonist Paul Dunmall started very young with the progressive rock band Marsupilami in the early 70s. During a three year stay in the US, he played with Alice Coltrane, toured with Johnny Guitar Watson and more. Back in the UK, he continued on the path of jazz and got involved in many collaborations with John Stevens, Barry Guy and many others. He became a London Jazz Composers Orchestra member and participated in many projects led by Keith Tippett (Mujician, Tapestry, etc.). Since the 90s, he started more projects on his own of varying lineups. His QuintetQuintet is one of them. In 2016 he released ‘The Dreamtime Suite’ with his QuintetQuintet, offering jazz improvisation with world music influences. All members (Hamid Drake, a.o.) do not participate in the new incarnation of his QuintetQuintet. Now we are speaking of James Owston (bass), Jim Bashford (drums), Steven Saunders (guitar) and Richard Foote (trombone). All young players from the Birmingham scene, who recorded for the first time together with Dunmall as the Paul Dunmall Sextet on ‘Cosmic Dream Projection’ in 2020, if the information on Discogs is correct. All material – composed by Dunmall – is melodic and often has a funky feel. The compositions as such are not earth-shaking but solid and appealing. They function as inviting structures for fine interplay and improvisation between the players. ‘Medgar Evers’ has great solo work by all four. But as counts for the whole album, it is guitarist Saunders who attracts most of my attention. He has an exceptional technique and style and a very own sound. Owston impresses with the solo intro for ‘Cosmic Communion’ with his warm sound and some African feel. In the middle section, when Saunders is prominent, it is also energetic and wild playing by Bashford, which adds a lot. And also, Foote makes his mark, for example, in the title work. Above all, the sparkling interplay between the five makes this a very satisfying release of joyous music. The album concludes with a great solo improvisation by maestro Dunmall. (DM)
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Many people equate laptop music with dull. On stage, that might be true, but there is the musical result that counts. Very few people who use a laptop cook up such strange music as Carl Stone. To say ‘music that defies description’ is always easy said, but I believe this is very much true for the current album of Carl Stone. Almost 70 years old, with a long career in electronic music (since the early 70s), he composes very fresh music these days. Fresh and weird. Stones uses Max/MSP software and what goes into the machine is hard to describe. The man divides his time between Japan and the USA, so I am inclined to think in goes some (many?) examples of Japanese popular music. These sounds are cut up into tiny segments, shuffled around and cooked up for a new dish. Ah, Oval! No, it’s not like Oval, even when the basic idea is the same. In some strange way, it seems as if all the elements Stone uses are from one song, and he’s re-arranging these. It may vaguely resemble the original. Or does it? That’s the tricky thing here and something I found highly fascinating. Is this an easy cut-up job, re-aligning some elements, and that’s it? Somehow that is not the case, I think. There is a familiarity with the music that connects to the world of pop music in my brain, and yet none of this is really pop. There is no hook you are latch onto or sing along to.  Not that there are many vocals, but when they are, they are impossible to sing along to. It is a bit of everything and anything (all at once?). I find this fascinating stuff, and Stone has something unique going on here. I can imagine at a very loud volume, and this music will be even better. Party music or sound art? The judges are not out on this yet, but I love it. The wackiest of music for this week. (FdW)
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Following a long period of absence, Small Cruel Party is now fully back on track. At least, from my point of view, that is. In the 90s, Key Ransone’s music project delivered several great records with distinct packages. Blending electronics with acoustic sounds and natural elements (sticks, leaves, grass), the resulting combination was ambient and industrial.  There were a few 7″s, which did not always grasp the minimal power, but on 10″, LP and CD, with room for the music to evolve slowly and naturally, this works pretty well. This new CD shows this very well. Both pieces are older live recordings. The title piece is from 2008 and recorded in Paris, Ransone’s home country these days, and the second is from Everett (Washington) in 1992. Back in the day, I saw various concerts of his and listening to the title piece, and this is how I remembered it best. Feeding small sounds, manually controlled and manipulated, through a few sound devices, so that drones occur, growing slowly in intensity. Think of this as ants crawling in a giant anthill, very busy, yet there is also a soothing effect. Think of the calming impact visual overload can have. You don’t see (or hear, in this case) an easy pattern, but the overview is great. The piece from 1992, Small Cruel Party recorded on Radio KSER, is quite different. At the piece’s core is an organ-like sound bordering on the quiet distortion. This feeds into the usual delay and reverb pedals, which offer the same manipulation as his other pieces. Perhaps, this isn’t an organ but captured feedback? I said that it borders on the edge of overload, but there is also an element of quietude to be noted. It was a beautiful piece that kept me in it for the entire twenty-four minutes. These two pieces show two different sides to the work of Small Cruel Party. I wonder what more is hidden in the archives. (FdW)
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The man has many releases to his name, and it is tough to put his music into one particular genre. There are times when I would have said that his music fits the world of ambient music, with a penchant for the lo-fo approach, but this work is something different altogether. There is no evidence of it, not on the cover of the information, but it sounds as if Duplant conducts a small ensemble. There seem to be wind and string instruments. There might also be some electronics. They are all used to playing some heavily controlled music, which has a very modern classical feel. Maybe Duplant played all of these instruments himself? Maybe this is all from an orchestral sample pack? I really have no idea. The title translates as ‘dark mirrors’, and Duplant says about the album, “a polished and reflective surface gives us the stable and sincere image of a subject. The subject here is the world today, both planet, nature, humanity, civilizations, individuals and possibly, probably the one of tomorrow, dark in my eyes & embittered in my heart”. That may explain some of the grim characters of the music. With everything under control, there is also a lot of tension buried in the music. Perhaps that is how Duplant sees the world? Dark and on the surface civilized, but beneath the pavement, there is unrest. I have no idea if that is the idea behind this orchestral suite that comes in two parts of exactly twenty-one minutes. While I may not be the biggest fan of contemporary classical music, I found this a pretty exciting release. Maybe because it raised many questions while sounding beautifully dark and ominous. (FdW)
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As I wrote before, I’d like to start the day with a bit of ambient music while sipping coffee and reading about the world’s misery. Usually, I do this without thinking about a review, but here’s an exception. For many years, I have followed closely the output of K. Leimer and Marc Barreca, mostly solo, but there have been a few collaborative works over the years. I especially enjoy their work because these men explore different ways and new technology and use equipment and software in a form that it is not designed for. Once upon a long time ago, they explored the world of synthesizers, but these days it is about software, laptops and how to use that in interesting ways. In their words, “Their current process is designed to destabilize established habits and predilections in favour of responding to the music in objectively new ways. It is also intended to reduce the illusion of control, become more responsive to and accepting of unpredicted outcomes, and give the music—as much as possible—a voice less tampered with”. I have no idea how they operate with their software (or even which kind), nor what goes into the machines. At times, I am reminded of real instruments, strings, percussion, and winds, but just as well, there are acoustic sources, field recordings, static hiss and crackles. Most likely, it is a combination of all of this, which they cook up to a charming yet unstable menu of sounds. Their ambient music is never fully organized but moves across uneven terrain; no big moves, just easy uneasy music. It appears as the music moves between parameters but that the value of these parameters keeps changing. The music is not dreamy, nor floating, sustaining ambient music, but works on a different level; another dimension of ambient music that I enjoy very much. Music for a quiet long Sunday afternoon. (FdW)
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Maybe I already mentioned this in a previous review, but the archives of Vidna Obmana are seemingly endless, and Zoharum helps to get it all out there again. I heard some of these releases back then, as is the case with the music here. The music on these three CDs was first released on cassette in the late 80s, and early 90s, by The Decade Collection (Dirk Serries’ private label), Violet Glass Oracle Tapes and Direction Music. By this time, Vidna Obmana’s Dirk Serries was fully concentrated on the ambient side of the musical spectrum. There are no longer traces of noise, the music he started with. But it also has not yet the complete refinement his later work has. One of his beloved methods is to take an electronic sound and loop that, and in the process of playing around with these loops, he minimally alters the colours of the music. It is not easy to speak of differences or progression through these three discs. You could argue that is a bad thing, but I think it captures Vidna Obmana very well. He’s always been very productive, and this trio of releases from the same period show us that production. At forty minutes per album, hardly overkill, I’d say. It captures Vidna Obmana with a fine, still somewhat rough approach to ambient, minimal but with plenty of gravitas in the department of atmospherics.
    From Schröttersburg, I reviewed their previous release in Vital Weekly 1257. That was a bit of a difficult album for me, as it contained remixes from an album I had not yet heard. The new record is the result of experimenting during the lockdown. Adding new instruments, such as sheet metal, kalimba, oil barrels, djmebe, karatala, Aztec whistle death), next to the band’s guitar, bass, vocals (not in every track), drums (I assume!), make up a great mixture of styles and sounds, from the rock industrial of ‘II’ to the wildly exotic drumming of ‘I’ and then to the space rock outing of ‘IV’. The music touches upon many different genres, yet it manages to sound very coherent. All of this is played with some brutal force. Guitar and voice are drenched in reverb, suggesting massive space, even in the quieter moments, such as the opening of the closing piece, ‘VI’. It becomes a bit tiresome, all this force, but maybe I have been overthinking about music today already? I enjoyed most of this anyway, but in all honesty, I should add, that this kind of music is a bit outside the zone Vital Weekly operates in. Enjoyable as it is!
    As promised in Vital Weekly 1318, there is now the LP by Moljebka Pvlse, of which the mini-CD back then was the start. Back then, I expressed my scepticism about this; why first a mini-CD and now an LP? Why not all of this on one CD? That question is, of course, not answered with the release of the LP, but music-wise, this LP is along similar lines as the mini-CD. Another delicate exercise in combining field recordings and drones. The latter is generated with ocean drums, ocean harp and singing bowls (played by Isabel Fogelkou), while founder Mathias Josefson takes credit for field recordings and drones. The glacial drone reference I made last time also applies to these two pieces, and again it is a beautiful record. I have no idea what these instruments are or how to play them, but it is a job well-done. What else is there to say? I have no idea. Surely, one day on one CD when it is time to re-issue this beauty. (FdW)
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Both a label and a venue, Cave 12, now released an LP to document an in-house concert on October 28, 2020. We have here Francisco Meirino (modular synthesizer, contact microphone and transducer), Jerome Netinger (Revox B77 and electronics) and Antoine Chessex (tenor saxophone, amplification and electronics), with special thanks to Anna Gaiotti for shouting. Both sides of the record contain one piece, each with a title, not simply part one and part two. This indicates perhaps two different sets they played that evening? The approaches per side may be evidence of that. ‘Cocyte & Phlégéthon’ is on the first side of the record and shows Noetinger and Meirino in a particular collage-like mood. They move around quickly with their sound material, using various dynamics. Chessex and his horn provide the long run of sustaining tones; walls, if you will, bouncing off the sounds of the others. Loud most of the time, but occasionally quiet; as said, there are some great dynamics at work here. On ‘Tunnel’, everything is closer together. All three opt to play longer form sounds, even when not exclusively. Especially Meirino and Chessex are in for the longitude of the sounds, while Noetinger cuts in with more minor sounds. This side of their collaboration is a loud one. A concrete block is coming down at full force, with a very subtle fade out, leaving us with some Dictaphone sounds. It is no surprise that the shouting appears in this piece. This makes a beautiful record, the document of a good night out, and something to enjoy, even when you weren’t present. (FdW)
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Much to my regret, I had not heard of Eberhard Kranemann before. The press text mentions studying with Joseph Beuys in the 60s and being part of groups such as Neu!, Pissoff, Kraftwerk and working as Fritz Müller. Behind Pharmakustik, we find Siegmar Fricke, who’s been around for a long time, starting in 1981. He is best known for his work with Maurizio Bianchi, I guess. In July 2021, the two met up in the studio of Kraneman. We find an electric cello, electric guitar, and plenty of electronics in this studio. None of these instruments is easily recognized in the two pieces here. The records I keep thinking about when I hear this music is the first two Kluster albums. Maybe because that was German, and this too? I can easily see Kraneman and Fricke roll the tape in the studio and tell me when to stop’. They scratch, scrape and hit their guitar and cello, but the sound is feeding through long lines of modules, effects, etc. Each connection ‘in’ is another ‘out’, going to the next box, again splitting signals. Little wonder that guitar and cello aren’t that easily recognized. And just as easily, I say, this might not have happened this way. Maybe this results from heavy editing, layering, and altering sounds in a multi-track environment. At times, the music has a vaguely cosmic connection and moves towards a more dystopian soundtrack or even industrial music; the latter when the guitar sounds like Cosey Fanni Tutti is playing at a Throbbing Gristle concert. The one thing it is not is ambient. This is not very reflective, even in the music’s quieter moments.  Altogether this is an excellent collaboration. And unlike those first Kluster records, without the religious texts, that’s a plus already! (FdW)
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VAHELÜLI / THE LINK BETWEEN (compilation LP by Synoptik)

Ah, compilation time, again. The title translates as ‘the link between’, and the six artists (seven pieces of music) are all from Estonia. I had not heard of any of these before. I must admit the cover wasn’t appealing to me, suggesting rather dull music. That it is, luckily, not. The emphasis lies in the more improvisational aspect of music, such as in the violin/loopers/effects piece by Hello Upan, or the traditional drum and saxophone improvisation by Katariin Raska and Sebastien Grenat in ‘#’; their second piece is a more daring, wild piece. In a live recording for voice, acoustic guitar, loopers and effects by Lost Harbours & eleOnora, they lean towards a free wail of sounds and voices, almost like a ritual exercise. VMR (but then in lowercase) is a trio of synth, electric and acoustic guitar and granular sampler, with a fine, minimalist result. The harp isn’t an instrument we often encounter in these pages, and Liz Wirestring plays it, along with loopers, and the result is a fine, open and reflective piece of music. The harp sounds as it does, but the melodic content is a bit abstract. The record ends with Underground Forest, the musical project of Riho Kall, on voice (using South-Estonian traditional texts), electric guitar, samples, granular synth and percussion. He sounds like a sing-songwriter and outsider. It marks the end of an interesting compilation of experimental music – why not? – from Estonia. (FdW)
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BLACK TENT – MANAGED RETREAT (10″ by Imprecision)

This record is my introduction to the music world of Mark Metienzo, also known as Black Tent. He’s been active since 2002 and has since then had two hands full of releases, first on Muet Organization and since a few years on Imprecision, which I believe he operates. Releases on this label are on cassettes, digital, paper, and one lathe cut record. It is limited to 52 copies and has a neat cover. After moving from California to Seattle, he didn’t unpack his gear straight away but worked using the software pack called VCV Rack, a digital modular synthesizer environment. Black Tent takes his inspiration from 19th-century astronomers and “existential threats to expand to the world of natural predators”.  Throughout, the music is on the atmospheric side of things, connecting to the world of lo-fi. You could wonder if lathe cut is the best medium for such delicate music, but is a cassette that much better? Maybe the slightly more fuzzy ‘pressing’ of the lathe cut fits the music of Black Tent? In his music, Black Tent is a bit more ‘synth-like’ than some of his peers in this field, even when he uses some field recordings, acoustic sounds and electric interference. The music of Black Tent is primarily quiet, with some on the abstract side of things, to keep the listener on edge. Active listening is what I like to call this music (and actually what I like about ambient music). Black Tent succeeds very well in playing this kind. It is ambient on edge, spacious and down to earth. Ritual music (bells included) for an urban environment. That’s my perception, at least. This is a short record, but there luckily is more to enjoy in the download. (FdW)
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Put four guys in a room, all well-versed in free improv music and see what happens. That’s my assumption, of course, listening to this record. It took me a while to grasp the music presented here; a severe cold didn’t help either. But after a few spins, something clicked in my head. Atmospheric in nature, but by no means dull, longer and shorter tracks keep your attention to what’s happening. Danza Cosmos is Laurent Avizou on clarinet and banjo; he sometimes uses a shitload of effects to let the clarinet sound like a contrabass or contra-alto clarinet with distortion. Youssef Ghazzal on double bass provides the low end of the spectrum and the opposite by using flageolets. Rodolphe Collange adds a tapestry of intricate synthy scapes and textures to the mix. Last but not least, Heddy Boubaker provides electro-acoustic guitar. Track number seven is a soundtrack for the French novel: ‘Au Chateau d’Argol’ by Julien Gracq. Spooky, sinister and sparse music, as the novel is set in an immense castle. Squeaky noises, and the gushing of wind and water, for me, is an excellent translation of the novel into music. That doesn’t mean that the rest of the music is sombre as well. The shorter tracks are quite uplifting (relatively speaking, that is), and the first track ends with a beautiful melody played by the guitar. In short: well done! Also, the recording is done so that you are listening to a live performance. It adds to the excitement and expressiveness of the music. Might I suggest playing this as loud as possible? (MDS)
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There was no information on this release. I have no idea who Flavia Massimo is. From her Bandcamp page, I understand she is a ” contemporary cellist, sound designer and event curator, both trained in classical and electronic music. She composes soundtracks for exhibitions, audio-guides, dance and theatre performances and creates interactive art installations”.  I believe this is her first release – although I don’t see the CD mentioned on Discogs or Bandcamp. The title suggests some ‘glitch’ heavy music, but that is not the case here. Massimo uses voice, synthesizer, field recordings, loops and live electronics and recorded six pieces of rather friendly electronic music, merging with improvisation and modern classical music. The cello remains central in all these pieces, and one can recognize the instrument. Everything else serves the cello, looping, granular synthesis and so on. The music is quite interesting, not only as a showcase of what she does with her instrument but also in the variety of approaches that she uses here. At times she veers towards more traditional improvised music and just as easily bends towards something more electronic or even glitchy. A touch of melody is also on the menu, such as in ‘Bit Pass’. There is noise, but no loudness or aggressiveness, which is fine. This is music made with passion and skill and is, I think, a great introduction to her work. (FdW)
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The third release by Pedro Chambel on his Fractal Sources imprint is the first to be a duo. He teams up with Ferran Fages, who plays the acoustic turntable. Chambel plays eletronics [sic], alto sax and voice according to the cover. I think I didn’t hear the voice element in the music, but I might be wrong. The three pieces here are all very minimal and use a few sounds. How does an acoustic turntable sound? The most straightforward answer is to go to the Bandcamp page and have a listen. I didn’t find it easy to detect what that was. Some of the hand spun, rotating/looped sounds that I heard on this disc must be from the turntable. Chambel amplifies his saxophone and sometimes uses the mouthpiece, and sometimes fiddles with the knobs. Again, I think this is what’s happening. Everything is on the verge of feedback, yet it never goes over the top and becomes full-blown. The room is alive, so we hear all the detailed action and sounds that go on here. It is all very object-based, scratching surfaces upon surfaces, yet it also has improvised music; of a more electro-acoustic nature. I think this is fascinating music. Partly because it is so much under control, yet it has all the freedom for the players. There is much interaction, and it is minimal and yet always moving and changing within small parameters. It’s improvised, and yet it never sounds like it. It remains quite mysterious, and that’s part of the beauty here. (FdW)
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LLARKS – BLUSH (cassette by Lamour)

In Vital Weekly 1242, I reviewed ‘Come And Close Your Eyes’ by Llarks, Chris Jeely’s musical project. This new album is called a ‘digital single’ but has the shape of a cassette here and two sides. Llarks recorded just before the cassette mentioned above and further explored the scenic route of drone music. He takes two different approaches here, both already explored before. ‘Blush’ is the title for both pieces, but they are pretty different. The version on the first side starts with everything pretty much in full gear, but from then keeps developing. Llarks’ guitar is the main ingredient and, so I assume, an army of guitar effects. Slowly, the sound thickens, but Llarks knows how to make sure details don’t get lost in his music. The sustain is now set to ‘endless’ and has a hazy and fuzzy nature, like shoegazing, but then it spans twenty minutes and has no vocals. On the other side, we find a more introspective drone, a slow cycle, if you will. There is repetition, a drone that rocks slowly back and forth. There are minimal changes but no big dramatic climax here. Yet, it is also not static; this is not a robot at work, but maybe that is only in the smaller details. Two sides of the same coin, two further explorations in guitar drone music and another perfect example of Llarks’ musical world; another one can use as an introduction. (FdW)
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EUS – VHINTO NO DRESCE (cassette by Avalanche)

Jose Acuña (Costa Rica) started to record music as EUS in 2008. I may have missed his previous releases, including split releases with “Postdrome, Saåad, Mytrip and others”. EUS also works as Lioth, Claro de Luna, Ett Abigai. ‘Vhinto No Dresce’ is not a new release but a re-issue from a CDR from 2011. It is called his “most personal and saddest album”. I would think guitars play the most significant role, cementing massive concrete walls of drone sounds. The five pieces flow right into each other, and changes are minimal. You could think it is for listening practices that there are different pieces, but that is not necessary on a cassette. The guitar sounds are stretched out into long sustaining tones. No doubt, a few loop devices play an important role, along with other fine machines. I am thinking of delay, reverb, chorus and such, adding different colours and textures to the guitar playing. I can’t say if this is all about “sorrow, nostalgia”, to be honest. I rarely listen to music with such emotions in mind (my bad, I know), but I can see the darkness of the music. EUS plays highly atmospheric music, and without any surprises, he does a great job. There isn’t anything here you may not have heard before; the world of guitar slingers and loop devices is quite extensive. As an introduction to this one, it is too early to say if EUS has a voice of his own. Maybe I should first update myself on his more recent releases, but I immensely enjoyed the music here, so there is no reason to stop me from investigating further. (FdW)
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That’s a lot of names, and I assume a one-off project. During the recording of a short film, ‘Ansage Ende’, this group got together on a farm in the Dutch part of Friesland and recorded the ten pieces. Music and film are connected, even when the music is not necessarily the soundtrack (judging by the content, on Both deal with “the question of how to live and fight in an ever more rapidly warming world”. The duties are divided like this; Verena Barié (recorders), Gerri Jäger (Drums and synths), Sjoerd Leijten (electronics), and Malu Peeters (recording engineer). Field recordings are supplied by Leijten, Verhoef (both are also responsible for the film), and Peeters. The context is very political, with spoken words and sounds made at protests and personal testimonies. In terms of improvised music, this is quite the odd affair. The recorder and drums play a relatively small part, and synths and electronics are all the bigger. Voices and sound are sampled and arrive back in the mix, stuttering and bouncing, while field recordings are used in a longer form. There is an exciting balance here between ‘pure’ music and a documentary form (in Dutch mainly). You could think of this as a radio play had the issue not been genuine. Yet this message doesn’t stand in the way of the music; there is much to enjoy there. I enjoyed this oddball mix of loopy electronics, picking up voices, drums, and recorders, set against the real thing. Sometimes on the verge of breaking down, traditionally improvised and the next moment scratching and peeping in true electro-acoustic music fashion. Altogether a fascinating and robust statement! (FdW)
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ENRIKE HURTADO – 801 SONGS/WAYGB (cassette by Crystal Mine)

Recently MDS discussed an LP by Enrike Hurtado in collaboration with Ibonrg (Vital weekly 1319). My encounters with him are buried in the past (Vital Weekly 599 and 613) in collaboration with Xedh. Hurtado is an artist from the Basque country with a background in punk rock, but as a computer composer, the music goes a different way. Much of his work has a conceptual angle, such as this new cassette. On ‘801’, he uses thirty-four punk/hardcore/death/grind/pop songs and reduces sounds from these to one micro blast. I didn’t count, but there might be 801 of these blasts in total. The whole piece lasts fourteen minutes and twenty-eight seconds. There is next to each blast a tiny segment of silence, but the lengths of all of these vary, so there is a solid unstable side to the music. It is far from static and even may have a human element instead of having a bit of software play. I would not have guessed this to be from the world of punk or whatever genre went into the equation. On the other side, we find ‘What About You Girls Behind?’. This piece is about the infamous Grundy/Sex Pistols incident; usually, I’d write, look for it on YouTube if you have no idea what that is about. But last week, all of the social media (my bubble at least) was all about ‘Pistol’, the mini-series about the Sex Pistols, and this incident is part of that, so hard to miss. This conversation Hurtado feeds through a digital compressor and feedback system, which sounds very eerie. Like a nocturnal ghost is going to haunt you. The title refers to Siouxsie standing in the back, being asked something from the drunk Grundy. Again, it’s on YouTube, and it’s hard to think of the rage it caused. Here too, I had no idea had I not read up on this. I found this a most enjoyable piece of music, haunting and yet at the same time also very ambient. Very unsettling, and exactly there lies its beauty. For all I wanted, this could have been twice as long! (FdW)
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O.R.D.U.C. – FAST FORWARD (cassette by New Bulwark)

When the cassette as a sound carrier became a viable alternative to vinyl, magazines on cassette also started. UK’s Morrocci Klung! was one, Australia’s Fast Forward Magazine another. Think of these as early equivalents of podcasts or radio shows. I had one of the Morrocci Klung! issues and was rather disappointed. How often do you want to hear the same program? (A rhetorical question; I never listen to podcasts either). Nico Selen’s O.R.D.U.C. was an early adapter of the cassette network. From his home in a remote Dutch village, he contacted Fast Foward to contribute a track to his electronic music project. Besides one track, he mailed a couple of more pieces, one including him talking about the project. That one is not part of this cassette, and the talking is removed. In another track, he added a new guitar part (detailed information here. Ever since I first got the first O.R.D.U.C. cassette (not much later re-issued on LP in a slightly different version), which might have been in 1984, I have been quite a fan of Selen’s electronic music. There is an excellent feeling of naivety in the music. It is never punchy electro-pop, not a cosmic space jam, or downright krautrock. This cassette is proof of this. It is in all of these places, yet it is never really in one of them or a full-on copy. Some of these tracks are presented in their earliest stages, as in the last forty-one years, O.R.D.U.C. kept refining their tunes, and it is a feast of recognition here. This music is exactly the kind of thing I love on a very sunny day in early June. Music with a big smile; well, for me at least. (FdW)
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MORTEN RIIS – LAD ENHVER LYD MINDE OS OM (cassette by Cronica Electronica)

Somehow this sounded like a familiar name, but I couldn’t find anything about him that I had written earlier. Morten Riis is from Denmark, where he works as a composer, sound artist and researcher. Amongst the things he does are large scale sound installations. He recorded the music on the cassette using homemade synthesizers and modified four-track cassette recorders. It is not said how the cassette recorders are modified, but perhaps it is a bit of nerd thought here. There is nothing significant scale about the music on this cassette. The sixteen pieces are pretty brief, ranging from one minute and thirty seconds to three minutes. That gives the cassette the idea of a sketchbook. None of these pieces sounds as if they are worked out, but rather a quick pencil drawing that happens to be quite detailed if you look/listen closer. Riis has that fine quality of a lo-fi musician in his music, with grainy textures, rough ambient, and mild noise. I guess the difference is that where many of his peers indulge in longer pieces, Riis keeps his music short. Another difference might be his use of synthesizers rather than field recordings or heavily treated sound sources. As such, he offers quite some variation in his music. Loop-like, drone-like, a bit louder, or a bit quieter. This tape, these sixteen pieces in about forty minutes, is a great sketchbook. (FdW)
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