Number 1341

TARKATAK – I II III IIII (CD by Auf Abwegen) *
JEAN D.L. – ZENAÏDE (CD by esc.rec) *
HUBERT ZEMLER – DRUT (CD by Bocian Records) *
MATS GUSTAFSSON – PIANOMATE & FLUTE (5″ lathe cut by Bocian Records)
LARA SÜSS – UNTERWASSER (CD on Antenna Non Grata) *
DOC WÖR MIRRAN – PROGRESSIVE PUNK PUNK 5-8 (four mini CDR by Marginal Talent) *
THE HAUNTERS – MESSAGES FROM BEYOND THE VEIL (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
MØMAZ – 3000 REALMS (cassette by Invisible City Records) *
CULVER & XAZZAZ – SKELETON LAKE (cassette by Invisible City Records)
PHOLDE – DEPRIVE OF POWER (cassette on Vacancy Recs) *
MARC BENNER & SICK DAYS – SPLIT (cassette on Vacancy Recs) *
MODELBAU – BUCHSTABEN (six cassettes by Maneki Neko) *


As I was listening to this disc, I forgot which disc it was. One of the downsides of reviewing music all day, I guess. But in my defence, it also has to do with the music. Maybe I knew I was playing one of the two new releases by Insub Records, but I simply forgot which one. The two players are new names for me; Lise Barkas (bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy) and Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy (percussions, electronics). For each of the seven pieces, they list what kind of bagpipe (14″ or 20″), but also which part (bellow, bag, air, chanter) and what Geoffroy plays (8″ cymbal, sine-wave oscillators, washing machine part, rototom fittings, jam jar, half bass drum, piezo, transducer, half bass drum. He limits himself to one instrument in many pieces and explores it thoroughly. I didn’t realise what I was playing in the piece where I went off the mark. The bagpipe and cymbal here sound like an obscure outdoor field recording. Some sort of ventilation shaft, slowly rotating, that kind of thing. At no point, I was thinking, ‘oh yeah, that bagpipe release’. The second piece is more straightforward; it is a bagpipe, now piercingly high in the frequency range. In each of these pieces, the two explore one idea per instrument and execute that idea very consistently. Each is a delight of minimally changing sounds, with many variations in approaches. There is an excellent acoustic drone vibe in this music, and it has some excellent dynamics. Track five, which is called ‘Cornemuse 14˝ (Hautbois, Air) , Oscillateurs à Formes d’Ondes Sinusoïdales, Pot de Confiture’, is q quiet and reflective piece of music, while ‘Cornemuse 14˝ (Hautbois, Air​)​, Oscillateurs à Formes d’Ondes Sinusoïdales’, is. A very heavy and loud piece of music. Between those parameters, this all moves and the only downside is that this is only thirty-two minutes. I want more!
    Minimalism is also the keyword for the release from Bryan Eubanks. He composed work for four double basses, and Jonathan Heilbron, Mike Majkowski, Andrew Lafkas and Koen Nutters are the performers here. The score/concept is explained on the cover here; this is an excerpt: “[..] …..Each bass bows natural harmonics on one of the strings (I, II, III, IV), holding each note for the chosen duration and allowing a pause equal to half of this duration between each note. ….. Allow a pause equal to the whole duration of the note at the end of the sequence before repeating. begin together, and each player should repeat the 11 note sequence 48 times. ….. Play at as quiet a volume as possible.” There are two pieces, and I am unsure if they are variations, two versions, or two parts. They sound quite similar, and I am not a trained musician to spot the differences. I am always more the interested listener, and as always, it boils down to one question: do I like what I hear? The answer to that question is a wholeheartedly, yes, I do very much. I can easily listen to this quiet music for a very long time, longer than the forty-seven minutes of this release. The music is slow but never completely quiet. The microtonal, meditative approach of the music works very well, even when one doesn’t succumb to meditation. Each treatment has enough variation to keep the fully awake listener captive. For people interested in modern classical music, say the Wandelweiser approach, this should right up your alley. (FdW)
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TARKATAK – I II III IIII (CD by Auf Abwegen)

You could think that is a label that hands me two new CDs, and one of these is new work by Asmus Tietchens, that would be the one first to hear. But a new CD by Tarkatak! Hold on. I can’t remember I last heard or reviewed his music. I have known the musical project from Lutz Pruditsch since he started it in 1992. Before that, he had a cruder, industrial act, Der Pilz. As Tarkatak, he plunges into the world of ambient and industrial. ‘I II III IIII” is his first release since the 2007 release ‘Mormor’ (not reviewed). There are four long pieces on this CD: ‘ I’, ‘II’, etc. The pieces are from 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017/2021. I have no idea what kind of instruments Tarkatak uses; only the piano is recognizable in ‘IIII’. Otherwise, I think he uses electronics, effects, guitars, synthesizers and such. There is a robust drone approach in these pieces, of slowed-down tapes and rusty sounds, slowly evolving. With pieces between thirteen and twenty minutes, there is enough time to let them grow and develop naturally. This works best in the longest of the four pieces, ‘II’. Tones arrive from nowhere, make a few slow and majestic moves and then disappear, replaced by new ones. The resulting music is dark, atmospheric and ambient. It ticks all the right boxes for me; I have been a fan since the early days, even when I am ashamed to say I haven’t played many in recent years. Oddly enough, the one that didn’t work well for me was ‘IIII’, with the piano sounds. Whereas the other was akin to amorphous clouds, the musical element of the piano, slightly unorganized, banging out slow tones against a drone background, became after a while a bit boring. But a good hour of great music has passed by then, so nothing to complain about. Let’s hope we don’t wait another fifteen years for the next album.
    Dirk Serries and Asmus Tietchens worked before, mostly as Vidna Obmana and Asmus Tietchens. Now that Serries no longer releases new music as Vidna Obmana, and he has new found love for improvised music, he releases music under his own name. The first time they worked as such (Vital Weekly 1197), Serries delivered sound material from wind instruments. For this new collaboration, he delivers source material from his acoustic guitar, a Höfner. Tietchens uses twelve sections, some he uses a few times, so there are sixteen pieces of music in total. It is interesting to hear what kind of processing Tietchens applies to the guitar. I expect some heavy analogue or digital processing so that the guitar is no longer recognizable, but that is not the case. In many of these pieces, the acoustic guitar is to be recognized. Tietchens cuts up the material, creates loops, and finds interaction between these re-arrangements. He then feeds it through modulators, pitch shifters, and such until there is some kind of dialogue between the recognizable guitar and the electronics. The approaches are pretty diverse; sometimes, I had the impression I was listening to Serries solo, maybe applying a few sound effects himself, but sometimes, the level of abstraction is much higher, such as in ‘Höfner Akte 3C’. Tietchens is a master in keeping the music precise and to the point. This new album is no exception. Many of the pieces are between two and three minutes and say everything there is to say. Also, there is a great variety in approaches here, as already noted, and it makes up quite a remarkable, different album for Tietchens. (FdW)
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JEAN D.L. – ZENAÏDE (CD by esc.rec)

What, the actual F*** is up with the use of those bleeding singing bowls or whatever the horrific twee and unstable chiming messing percussion items of horror is called in electro-acoustic music nowadays?! One can simply not put on an album these months in this genre, or one loony or another is hammering away all too mock-Zen-like at the metal cups of terror. And no, I do not care about the background in spiritual or ritual use or however virtuoso the player is. It’s too much, simply everywhere. So much so that the use is rendered totally and offensively bland, kitsch-like.
    So for the first three minutes, with crows sounding off ominously, the above-mentioned other thunder of worry is the insistent use of the nauseating chimes. Fortunately, in Jean D.L.’s aural cinema-scope tapestry of travelogue-like snapshots, the ear is quickly transported towards different and much more pleasant vistas. Some claustrophobic, others warm and homely, stately set next to film-soundtrack saccharine. Ear-cinema, this is a collected world-recording in 28 minutes.
    Inspired by Lee Ranaldo’s album ‘Outside My Window The City Is Never Silent: A Bestiary’ Jean De Lacoste set out to “create a soundtrack to an imaginary, non-existing film using only samples of what musician friends were willing to send [him] and some sounds from [his] archive.” Sounds for this work were provided by an impressive list of participating artists, which include Aki Onda, Rhodri Davies, Joke Lanz, My Cat is an Alien, Andy Moor, Karen Willems, John Dikeman, Julia Kent, Jasper Stadhouders, Mauro A. Pawlowski and many more.
    De Lacoste manages to direct the ear to details as much as passed long lines. From close-ups to panoramic shots via flash-backs and sneak peaks in a flash. Nostalgia meets romanticism via futuristic projection on-towards naturalistic ‘tuning of the world’-photography. Above all, although the construction and direction are laid bare throughout the piece, De Lacoste directs with a deft hand for narrative and tension. He follows the poetic line of the best short story writer by diving into medias res, working the (aural) action at hand and snapping out of the situation to jump-cut or fade to the next one. Leaving the listener in a continuous stream of bewildering wonder and thrilling openendedness. (SSK)
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A fitting title for this “further excavation from the adventures of Metgumberbone”. As you can tell, the sleevenotes of this CD do not disappoint. “Enacted by an uncertain light the celebrants descent past bone white nitre and through malodorous exhalations of damp and decay invading the sepulchral silence with a ponderous and doleful clamber and setting the tenebrous shadows to dance”. I had to look up ‘sepulchral’ on the internet – it stands for ‘gloomy’ – and actually, that is not that far off from the feel of these recordings. The story of Metgumbnerbone, an organic and rotating outfit including, at times, and always, John Mylotte, Richard Rupenus, Philip Rupenus, Sean Breadin, and Mike Watson, is possibly known to ardent Vital Weekly readers, but for the uninitiated, I’ll dive a bit into the (un)known. The band debuted with the 1983 album ‘Ligeliahorn’. Featuring percussion and ambience (the latter an essential factor to the music), the album was purported to be recorded using flutes and percussion objects made from human bones excavated illegally from a graveyard. A story which has been a firm part of Metgumbnerbone’s mythology since. A cassette album, ‘Drëun’, was released the same year, and that was that, really. Both album and cassette, benefitting from the participants’ notoriety and enigmatical image, as well as the timeless music, became collectable. It wasn’t until 2020, when the compilation 2CD ‘Anthropological Field Recordings For The Dispossessed’ was released (Vital Weekly 1204), that we heard from Metgumbnerbone again. That is if we do not count ‘The Curfew Recordings’ – a CD of two 1984 performances by John Smith, Sean Dower and John Mylotte, released in 2013 on Harbinger Sounds (carefully avoiding the Metgumbnerbone tag on the album’s cover). ‘Out Of The Ground’, self-released by Metgumberbone, brings us seven previously unreleased recordings, divided into two suites: ‘Tunnel’ and ‘Culvert’, referring to their recording circumstances. What we get is typical Metgumbnerbone: ritualistic, shamanic percussion performances where the recording space’s ambience plays a crucial part. Some of it is of a chaotic nature; some pieces are more structured. The mid-tempo percussion and the spectrum of instruments used, various percussion devices, metal screeching, flutes (human thigh boned or perhaps a Pungi – a snake charmer’s flute?) and the occasional chant give this album a coherent feel. During the performances, the musicians are obviously in a world of their own. The final track holds the surprise: here, the sparse flutes dominates over the relentless percussion, the ambience of the space it was recorded coming to the fore, resulting in a beautiful but outer-worldly piece of music I could listen to all day. In all, ‘Out Of The Ground’ is fascinating addition to Metgumberbone’s canon. There are 500 copies of this beauty, 200 of these are accompanied by a rusty Metgumbnerbone-sigil necklace. (FK)
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HUBERT ZEMLER – DRUT (CD by Bocian Records)
MATS GUSTAFSSON – PIANOMATE & FLUTE (5″ lathe cut by Bocian Records)

Over the years, Bocian Records shifted from a label for electronics and improvisation to a label with lots of improvisation and fewer electronics. Not a development I like. However, there are still releases that I enjoyed, and this one by percussionist Hubert Zemler is one. He has three pieces on ‘Drut’, all recorded at the Super Sam+1 Festival on November 19th, 2021, in Dzik, Warsaw. He plays percussion and electronics. I don’t know if that works; does the percussion playing trigger the electronics, or do they work as stand-alone instruments. Judging by these three pieces, that is not an easy-to-answer question and, perhaps, also not that relevant. In the opening piece, ‘Alu’, the electronics play a more significant role than the drums. It is also the one piece where I believe the percussion triggers the electronics. A beautiful shimmering piece of percussive electronics, but it does not work in a strictly linear way. In ‘Barb’, the drums take the lead and are played in real-time and sampled. Zemler uses the toms extensively here and has an excellent controlled piece of rolling drums, at one point interacting with the electronics significantly. ‘Copper’, the final and longest piece here, is the one that is the most improvised piece of music on this release. The rolling on the skins continues but also has separate crashes. It takes a while before this piece seems to be ‘on the road’, but then it is all suspense and mystery. The entire disc is one of delicate tension and release, a wonderful meeting of an instrument and electronics.
    The other new release has the same size as a CD but is a lathe cut record. This time we find two small pieces of music (1:41 and 1:38) by saxophone player Mats Gustafsson. Or perhaps I should say, a player of the pianomate (whatever that may be) and a flute. The two pieces are studio recordings and are dedicated to the memory of Ville Jarvis (1998-2020). Both pieces are introspective, with some finely humming drone and, on top, a mournful tune. The flute seems layered in ‘Kittsee’ and more solo in ‘Pama’. It is a pity that both pieces end up in a bit silly fade-out. I wouldn’t have minded if all of this was a bit longer, a lathe 7″, for instance, having four minutes of these lovely tunes. (FdW)
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Over the years, I kinda lost track of Taylor Deupree and his 12K label. I assume high postal rates prevented him from keeping VW on the promo list, or maybe he only offers digital promos. The new releases I hear from him are by other labels. It is little surprise that he appears in the French imprint Laaps. In musical choices and design quality, one could say it is the French version of 12K (admitting: what I remember!). I haven’t heard much of Deupree’s music recently, but ‘Harbor’ is nothing less than returning to a well-remembered place after a long time. Small music, this is. Chimes, piano, toy instruments and field recordings are used. A long time ago, Deupree used a laptop to process his music, but I have no idea if that is still the case. I can very well imagine he too uses reel-to-reel tapes and loops, a walkman or a Dictaphone, as the music has that delicate lo-fi character. The music is very reflective and slow-moving. Deupree’s music is lo-fi and ambient. He stays away from any heavy, low-humming drone, even when there is a hint here and there – for instance, in ‘Twirl’. But even in this piece, the music remains vulnerable, with what seems random plucks. There is a certain non-direction in Deupree’s music. Notes swirl like snowflakes, but not as much. There is no clear organisation, but his random approach works very well. The music has a strong meditative character, even when that is not your thing. (FdW)
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Some four years ago, Kasper T. Toeplitz and Marinos Koutsomichalis sat together in the basement. ‘In the basement’ is what google translate uses for ‘W Piwnicy’, Polish language detected. Two men, two computers. No input of whatever kind; no field recordings, no found sounds, not even Toeplitz’ trusted bass guitar. His computer runs max/MSP, and Koutsomichalis prefers Super Collider. I had a look at both a long time ago, and max/MSP is something I managed to get a sound off, mainly from ‘patches’ one finds on the Internet, but Super Collider is lost on me. Higher mathematics, I guess. There is no information on the cover, but I would like to think this is not improvisation as such. Maybe the origins of the material stem from improvisation (I assume, again, various sessions), but I am sure there has been some editing, cutting together the best moments. Fifty minutes and fifty seconds, one long piece. It starts with scratching electronics, building towards a mighty crescendo around fourteen minutes. All of this is in the frequency spectrum’s mid-range and then abruptly cuts out.  After that, the sound is quiet and spooky. You could say there are four sections here, each slow builders, each minimally but definitely changing. The music ranges from subtle to loud, but never over the top of the noise, so that is a good thing. They do their thing pretty good, but I expected nothing less from these two prolific computer musicians. It also is not their peak performance. Some would believe that to be a pity, but that happens. I enjoyed it a lot. (FdW)
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Michal Kielbasa is a prolific, though outside Poland maybe not so well known, musician from the field of doom metal, industrial noise and doom folk. You could place him all over musical styles covered by these buzz words, ranging from Sol-Invictus-like doom folk to black metal and electronic mayhem. He plays in various bands and projects, some just used as aliases and comprising only of himself, others with fellow musicians. Whalesong, Lugola, and Endless Movement are three unconspicuously named ones. Then we have the Lifeless Gaze, Harmony of Struggle, and Grave of Love pointing at the black metal side of things. His imagery sides with this, T-shirts imprinted with ‘We are the Vermin of this World’ (for the band Useless) or ‘Better Cancel Yourself’ (for Lugola), along with the massive use of human skull drawings. I am not sure he was involved with a Berlin band called Neithan in the mid-00ies that was described as ‘suicidal black metal’. Still, he runs a project called Neithan (which is just himself) which earned him the name Michal ‘Neithan’ Kielbasa. Many of the wording across all projects punches the death metal button: ‘And I’m hanging on a rope fallen from the sky’ along with hangman’s rope graphics and Kielbasa’s neck in a noose. His project ‘Nothing has Changed’ (sic!) was reviewed in Vital 1304. Apart from that he seems to have been little covered by us.
    Albeit all the gloom, depression and melancholy in pictures, he looks like a happy person, far away from DIJ’s Douglas P misanthropy and more like the balanced Tony Wakeford of recent years. The amount of merchandise he offers via Bandcamp is astounding and includes art objects, T’s, and even a stout (beer). Not exactly the work of someone who considers suicide as an option. Mere posturing? I think it reflects complex musical interests playing with the framing and imagery of the metal scene.
    Aleksander Papierz, on the other hand, is a Polish jazz saxophone player whose VOID project was reviewed in Vital a whopping 400 issues back in #923 in 2014. He stems from the free jazz, jazz-rock and Avant jazz circuit but, in more recent years, has contributed to more electronic and industrial (Void) projects. Either there has been a hiatus of releases since 2014, or Discogs has taken no interest in him, in any case nothing has been listed since then, leading up to the ‘Movements’ release. Nevertheless, we do find contributions to tracks on Whalesong releases. And Papierz, surprisingly, is listed on metal archive pages.
    The CD in question carries little to no information on the background of all this, apart from the recordings having been made live in the studio. On first hearing, my first thought was “In Slaughter Natives” – what with the recordings opening up a vast dome of sound and noise. Nevertheless, this comparison is a bit ‘off’. The sound is akin to Attenuation Circuit releases, and the many Emerge live recordings. With the diverse background of the two musicians, it is not clear who contributes what. The sound keeps layering using loops of manipulated objects, synth sounds, and Whitehouse-type open input mixers, all creating a background drone with whipping and percussive sounds placed on top. The whirring sounds and overall aggressive and bruitiste note indicate links to old school industrial projects, maybe Vivenza.
    The saxophone that is added around the midst of track one, though, is a bit annoying as it does not capture the mood of the piece and sort of adds a jazz element where it does not merge with the music. It could simply have been recorded ‘somewhere else’ – which apparently it was not. Instead, it morphs into part of the background wail, with a lot of reverb, phasing into the overall industrial sound much better. The other three pieces work similarly, with the saxophone coming in late (or Papierz having been busy with other sounds previously) and fitting into the background and general mix, but occasionally adding ‘jazzy’ phrases that stick out like a sore thumb. You get the feeling the recording could have been well done without the saxophone over long stretches. Nevertheless, the feel and sound of the overall music is exciting and well done, so as long as you can overlook the occasional musical mishap, you will undoubtedly enjoy this. (RSW)
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LARA SÜSS – UNTERWASSER (CD by Antenna Non Grata)

Lara Süss is a young German artist with not much of a back catalogue or even history I could use for reference here, with only one further release she recorded in 2020 with Jacek Chmiel. She currently lives and works in Switzerland. Her music treads the line between musique concrete, poetry, and experiment, and it also carries an element of a good sense of humour and language skills. For example, her previous release ‘Meandertale’ had titles like ‘And I was not even invited’ or ‘Admiration is for Poets and Cows’ (well, yes, living in Switzerland …).
    ‘Unterwasser’ could mean two things in German: ‘under water’ and ‘run of the mill’ (i.e. the water downstream from a mill run). In this case, it is a place in the Black Forest. Not that this would matter much, but it seems to have been (haphazardly or not) taken as the site of recording and proved (or was chosen because) to be ‘very far away from anywhere else’. I gather that different locations were used as background and sites for recordings, making them part of the soundscape. Twice we hear water rushing, the typical mountainous water that sounds like white noise. Overlaid, Süss recites her poems, referencing the ambivalence between space and time: ‘me inbetween, full of yesterday, alongside me the tomorrow’. These are the two strongest and – unfortunately – shortest pieces on this release. Two further tracks use a backdrop of various objects (found on location?) being moved around and hit, with some vocalising interspersed, the voice interacting with the sounds. And some birds in the background, indicating this was recorded somewhere in the woods. The continuous, drone- and dream-like character of the ‘water’ tracks gets lost here and makes room for some hectic clanging.
    In ‘It will have passed’, the vocalising overlays water and birds again, apparently using some looping, as at times there are two or three voices to be heard (and I do not believe any overdubs were made). Unfortunately, this does not work too well, as neither does the voice interact with the background in any way nor does the vocal track develop any tension or purpose. The final track is again completely different. Using a setting with a natural echo (a cave or ravine?) Süss sings in an incomprehensible (artificial?) language (unless I just didn’t get it). At this point, you realise she has considerable vocal power and potency. The recording is quite raw, with the breathing in between becoming part of the sound – the ‘inbeween’ theme, maybe? I would have cut out the breathing and left the pure sound, but maybe the rawness was part of the intention.
    Overall a surprising and enjoyable take at combining natural sounds and settings with voice and poetry. I liked these three tracks best, with the others may be falling a bit short of their potential. (RSW)
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Behind the name of Silt hides the impressive quartet of Franz Hautzinger (trumpet), Philip Zoubek (prepared piano, synthesizer), Ignaz Schick (turntables, sampler) and Tony Buck (drums). All four are experienced musicians with a background in improvised and experimental music. Crossing borders is what they have in common. I guess Austrian musician Zoubek is the youngest of the four and the initiator of this collaboration. He studied piano in Vienna and continued his studies in Cologne, where he settled and became one of the founders of Impakt-collective. He often worked with Carl Ludwig Hübsch, Elisabeth Coudoux and Matthias Muche from the Cologne scene. Meanwhile, also with many other musicians, like Ivan Cruzz (Lille) and Pierre-Yves Martel (Montreal). This, even more, counts for his mates who have longer careers. Hautzinger worked with musicians from all over the globe: Thomas Lehn, Derek Bailey, Michel F. Côté, Otomo Yoshihide. Schick is known for experimenting with his self-built sound devices and using them in live settings. Most of his work – often in duo settings – is released on his own Zarek label. Tony Buck was a founding member of the famous The Necks. This new release reflects their first meeting in this specific combination and shows that there is magic in this collaboration. It is an actual collective undertaking, as the three lengthy improvisations recorded in October 2021 at Loft, Cologne, make clear. They practice a sort of sound-oriented improvisation. Often this kind of improvisation lacks dynamics in my experience. But not here in this case. Their textured improvisations have a detailed spectrum of movements and colours. In a way, their communicative interplay works hypnotic and mesmerizing with far echoes of Can, Jon Hassell and The Necks. Their organic sound entities move between 12 and 18 minutes. Listening to them is like stepping into a micro-world of sensitive and vibrating sounds and textures. In ‘Lunatics’’, the repeated sound of a locked groove provided by Schick makes up the base for the others to improvise with small motives and patterns, creating textures that vary in dynamics and intensity. Very captivating! ‘Gravity’s End’ is dominated by melancholic trumpet playing in the first and closing parts embedded in a very crowded sound environment that makes the impression of a flow filled with numerous small and subtle sounds and gestures. Gradually the improvisation turns into dynamic and penetrating interaction. ‘The Comets’ has a nice play of motives by Zoubek, and together they create a suggestion of one long-stretched suspense. To conclude, their improvisations are intense, emotional and inventive, making this a very relevant and enjoyable release. (DM)
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The Stefan Orins Trio has something to celebrate: 25 years ago, the trio recorded its first demo. No idea, to be honest, what their position is within the European scene. Did they operate mainly within France or throughout Europe, the world? Receiving recognition and appreciation? Questions I could ask concerning much other jazz and improvised music ensembles that deliver high-quality music year after year, like the Stefan Orins Trio. In their 25-year of existence, the trio released five albums: ‘Natt Resa’ (2004), ‘Bonheur Temporaire’ (2006), ‘Stöt’ (2010), ‘Liv’ (2014) and ‘The Middle Way’ (2017). The crew was the same all these years: Peter Orins (drums), Christophe Hache (double bass) and Stefan Orins (piano). Over the years, this jazz trio, with classic instrumentation, grew into a powerful unit and developed stylish and elegant music. Their latest album was recorded live on October 11, 2021, in Tourcoing, a concert celebrating their 25th anniversary. For this occasion, they played old and more recent material and one new composition. The compositions by Stefan Orins are deeply rooted in the jazz tradition. Do not expect eccentric avant-garde escapades. Instead, the performers give life to the solid constructions, demonstrating a serene and controlled interplay. Very spirited, emotional and to the point also! Their harmonic chamber jazz plays intelligently with space and silence. It is very mature and full-grown music with original characteristics. I especially liked the fantastic drumming by Peter Orins in compositions like ‘Taplow Court’ and ‘Fjell Luft’. They were in good shape on that evening in October. Congratulations and all best for the future! (DM)
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So far, I have reviewed all of the Ikki Books releases, but only one-half of every release. The first few times I recounted a photobook is part of the deal, but I didn’t get these, so I only reviewed the musical component, usually the CD version. Much to my surprise, I now received the LP version and the book, and at first, I was thinking why, but the more I think about it, looking at the book, playing the music, the more it makes sense. Behind Trance Farmers (great name!) is one Dayve Samek, “a wanderer from Los Angeles to Louisiana, whose music has picked up just about every influence it can along the way”. Open the book, with photography Kourtney Roy and you the music translated to photos. Recognizable scenery, from downside Amerika, from diners and dusty roads, decay and well-kept gardens. Various women act in these photos, in bright colours, just as I imagine the scenery. Yet there is also something odd about these pictures like something is not entirely right. As if it was from another time. As if these pictures are from the fifties, a bizarre time machine effect. Go back to the music, and there is something similar odd there. Trance Farmers’ music is also something we recognize as ‘music’, ballads, voices, and guitars, but if you look below the surface, then things don’t add up. Is Samek the man who plays all this music, or does he sample his stuff left and right? On the surface, one could think this is some kinda wacky pop music, sub-section weird country & western, but it is perhaps more than that. Or maybe this is an example of plunderphonics? In which Trance Farmers simply steals his stuff left and right? The more I hear this record, the less I can make my mind up. Just as with the photographs here, which I find equally confusing. It looks and sounds like something, yet I don’t think it is. I didn’t know much about the other books when I reviewed the music, but the combination works very well here. (FdW)
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DOC WÖR MIRRAN – PROGRESSIVE PUNK PUNK 5-8 (four mini CDR by Marginal Talent)

More progressive punk from my favourite German work bees, Doc Wör Mirran. They are slowly going towards their 200th release, but if you release four mini CDs in one go, things move fast. These four new mini CDs are from sessions between 2016 and 2020, intended for a double LP, but with these subsequent four mini-CD releases, the project spans already four LPs; the previous batch of four was discussed in Vital Weekly 1324. Back then, I already stated that there is no such thing as ‘progressive punk’, a term coined by Andy Martin of The Apostles. Musicwise these four continue where we left ‘1-4’, lots of rock rhythms, lots of solos on guitar and saxophone. Lots of krautrock too. The political message is not forgotten here; ‘Stop The Stupidity’ or ‘Make Racism Wrong Again’ is against a particular former US president – not one whose voice I need to hear. As you may have understood from the many occasions I wrote about this group, their music can be all over the place. I consider myself someone with a vast musical interest, but if I am honest, this is the side of the Mirrans that is not my cup of tea. It veers at times too much to jazz, with Gormley’s saxophone all around, and that is a bit too much. Still, I love the persistence of being different. Just because they can change, they will change. They always surprise me, even after almost two hundred releases and even when I don’t like them all in the same way. (FdW)
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THE HAUNTERS – MESSAGES FROM BEYOND THE VEIL (cassette by Invisible City Records)
MØMAZ – 3000 REALMS (cassette by Invisible City Records)
CULVER & XAZZAZ – SKELETON LAKE (cassette by Invisible City Records)

Things seemed quiet for a while for one of my favourite labels for dark and moody sounds; everything was lo-fi and ambient/noisy. I kicked off with The Haunters, being “A. Thaw et al..” (I assume not the actress Abigail Thaw, daughter of John Thaw/Inspector Morse). In two pieces, there is spoken word by LDSN, which is more apparent in the second than in the first. With such a project name, and titles as ‘Spirit Circles’, ‘An Unseen Agency’, ‘(im) materialisation’ and ‘Séance Phenomena’, it is no stranger to think of this in terms of a soundtrack for horror movies or transmissions from the other side. The looped voices of the first track, circling in a nocturnal environment (a dimly lit tunnel is the image that came here), heavily reverberating. The Haunters know how to fiddle with the frequencies, so there is minimal variation in the material. The dense layering of sounds reminded me of ‘An Unseen Agency’ and ‘(im) materialisation’ of blackhumour in his most dense and droniest ways, which is always a good thing. His approach is not copied a lot. In the final tracks, the voice is reciting a text, with some sinister sound effects, before more looping kicks in, and this too is a grim ambient noir soundtrack. I am not sure if any ghosts are stirred up here; I guess I will see those come bedtime. While awake, a lovely horror movie soundtrack is set in an abandoned industrial park.
    Also, a new name is mØMaZ, as is the preferred spelling here.  It is the musical project of the same person who runs Anticipating Nowhere Records in London. I had not heard of either, but looking at the names, he released something up my alley. Otherwise, there is no information. There are six music pieces on this cassette, and there is an exciting experience. The opening piece, ‘The Opening Of The Eyes’, is a heavy drone piece of crumbling, slowed-down sounds that stick right into the lower depth of your brain. Something similar is also in the next track, ‘Future Echoes’, perhaps even heavier. Some twenty minutes’ tonal darkness covered your ears in the dust when you heard these two pieces. Great! This is the sort of stuff this label is best known for. But then, oddly enough, things go into another realm altogether. We stay inside the world of drones, but the next three pieces aren’t of a similar kind. For instance, in ‘Mushin (No Mind Is Nothing)’, the guitar pleasantly burns away in mild distortion, with a slight melodic touch. ‘On The True Aspect Of All Phenomena’ is a hissy, lo-fi affair, and ‘Treasure Tower’, halfway through, picks up more guitar sound and more oppressive darkness. The proceedings end with ‘The Mystic Law’, and we return to the fully-fledged darkness. I would think it is still the guitar working overtime, full speed below the earth’s surface. Quite the varied album here, and one that I found a pleasant surprise, simply because of the variation on offer.
    Then we arrive with the duo Howard Stelzer and Stuart Chalmers, two people who are no strangers to these pages; the first for a very long time, and the second, since I am guessing, fifteen years. Both gentlemen work with cassettes, and both never seem to get the recognition for that, at least not in the way they deserve. Wrong demographic here, I suppose. This cassette is not a collaboration as such; each has one collaborative piece and two solo pieces. In these solo pieces, they don’t use each other’s sound material. Stelzer has two parts of ‘End Of Defense’, of which the source material goes back two decades, with source material from Brendan Murray. One of these pieces is almost eleven minutes and is a classic Stelzer treatment of sound. The heavy layering of cassette processed recordings. The other one is a mere minute and has a highly fragmentary character. In the two Chalmer pieces, the drones work out differently. Here too, there is quite some layering of the material, but Chalmer’s music remains much more open and, if you will, has a lighter character in ‘Organism’. In ‘Heatnenism’, he uses a Stelzer-like approach to heavy drones and various pitch shift effects. We find elements from their work in their joint piece, working in a fine combination. Stelzer’s heavily processed cassette recordings are set against Chalmer’s shorter loops, and it all becomes highly vibrant. There is that classic approach of being in the middle of a factory with all the machines at work, captured on a Walkman with batteries almost gone.
    The final cassette is cassette-only; no download on Bandcamp is available. I believe that is part of the trade of Culver, the musical project of Lee Stokoe. I only reviewed a handful of his many releases. From Xazzaz, the brainchild project of Mike Simpson, I reviewed only a split LP with Funeral Dance Party (Vital Weekly 885), which I no longer remember, but re-reading my old review and listening to the music here, I’d say this is a double team of drone makers. The sixty minutes contain various inroads to the world of heavy drone music. Taping keys on a keyboard firmly down, feed the sound through some effect pedals and make sure it to record it onto a cassette for further downgrading the heavy drone sound. This is maximum lo-fi. I was thinking; maybe this isn’t a keyboard but some tape-loops? At one point, it becomes quite orchestral and bombastic (towards the end of side A). It may seem as if this music is all relatively easy to do, and perhaps it is, but I love it all the same. The dark and massive drone approach that is still not very loud is one I love very much. This cassette is a great one! (FdW)
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Here we are touching upon the natural habitat of Vital Weekly. Nowadays, there is a lot of free jazz, modern classical music and improvisation to hear, but it is the music we find on this cassette where it all started for Vital (the 80s fanzine and, later, Vital Weekly). Maybe it is the conservative times we live in, the ongoing sense of melancholia, or the search for the lost times. I don’t know. SPH Music relaunched some time ago (see Vital Weekly 1312) with the second volume of this series; the first one came out in 1989. Many artists we find on this compilation were active back then, some a bit later. Discmen I first heard in the second half of the 90s, with their take on the world of plunderphonics Oval-style. I don’t know if all these tracks are from that time or some recent constructions. This is clear in a few cases; Manual Mota and Francisco Lopez indicate with their title that these pieces are eold (1996 and 1980), while Kapotte Muziek chops a live recording from 2012 in the best P16.D4 style. For the rest of the participants, I don’t know. The eleven pieces show a cross-country section of musical interests. They range from obscure electronic noise (if, Bwana, Lopez, Arcane Device) to industrialized dystopian nightmares (Konstruktivits) and the conveyer belt rhythms of Pas Musique and Geins’t Naït (lovingly stewing under pressure here). Discmen is the all-out sample mania festival. New or old are irrelevant notions here; maybe some never progressed and repeated what they do best, or maybe the vaults contain an unlimited supply of previously unreleased pieces of music. In which case, nostalgia may never end. Fine by me. (FdW)
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PHOLDE – DEPRIVE OF POWER (cassette on Vacancy Recs)
MARC BENNER & SICK DAYS – SPLIT (cassette on Vacancy Recs)

Two new releases by the Canadian based – partially Toronto, partially Niagara, which explains the URL – label Vacancy Recs hit the office floor. Pholde is the alter ego of Knurl, who is Alan Bloor from (now) Quebec, Canada. Where Knurl is guaranteed to deliver some harsh noise based on the use of metal objects (in all honesty, I don’t know everything Knurl did, but I don’t think I ever heard something not intrusive to the mind), Pholde is labelled to be his ambient sound project. And it’s actually exciting to compare these two completely different aliases. For some people, noise may be erratic, but Knurl is an example of a noise artist who puts emotion there: Aggression, despair, hate, hopelessness, and anger. And while listening to Pholde again, I hear a base of emotion, albeit less aggression, hate and anger… There is a more pensive layer of approach to the sounds and composition.
So while I’m playing “Deprive of Power” (C40, black), these thoughts on how emotion has a place in Alan’s music gets confirmation. Because aggression, hate and anger are very extrovert emotions, while despair and hopelessness – as well as sadness and misery – are introvert emotions. More delicate if you please.
    The first side of the tape has just one track entitled “Prevent the Occurrence”. This is a beautiful road trip through the settings / used equipment: Alan knows what he’s doing. Side B has two tracks, “Relative to Existence” and “An Essential Portion”. In these tracks, the equipment is used more repetitively, so more and more structured sounds (though never rhythmic). And after 40 minutes, I simply press play again … Mesmerizing, introvert, pensive, and meditative. Gorgeous release!
    The second cassette (C22, white) is a split by label owner Sick Days and someone I’ve personally known for a long, long time and who all of you may know from his activities from the Oxidation label. Oxidation strives to preserve older releases and make them available (again) to a larger public. Creepy ultra-minimal editions like some old Cornucopia / Castro stuff, Luasa Raelon, R4, Azoikum and Odal … Really magnificent things.
    Oxidation is like a recycling label: fixing up some older stuff, freshening it up, putting a label on it and giving it a second life. And Sick Days uses and reuses covers, giving them a second life. So it was probably just a matter of time before Marc and Jeffrey ended up on the same release somewhere.
    The side of Marc is entitled “Waste of time, waste of money” in which he is very wrong, because … Well, it’s not! Marc’s 10 minutes of field recordings from “somewhere” exist, and they don’t sound that manipulated from source to this. Not much happens, but there is a constant movement. Sounds of birds and some kind of rattling which I couldn’t determine after hearing it many times. The tension of “being”, feeling away from where you usually are, a 10-minute holiday in your mind. In the second half, more textures are added, but I’ll leave the exploring to the listener. If you read this far, you’ll probably gonna get it anyway.
    Sick Days’ “Submit” is created style-wise not far from Marc: Contact mics and field recordings, but here, a music box is constantly audible, and the output is entirely different yet the same. “Submit” is a noise/scraping texture (roads, wind & ice) with an alienated melody in the setting. Stuff that could have been made from samples from a creepy horror movie. Waiting for the bad guy to start slashing or the doll to come alive. Well done, guys! (BW)
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MODELBAU – BUCHSTABEN (six cassettes by Maneki Neko)

Modelbau, a.k.a. Frans de Waard, has been steadily releasing music since 2012. This box of cassettes, released in a limited edition of 23 and available digitally, contains six long tracks totalling a massive three and a half hours of music. Side one of each cassette are finished tracks, and the other side has some of the sources. As always, Modelbau utilises no dubbing, just faded and mastering but prepares the tracks beforehand, hits the record button and then listens to the result with only one criterium in mind: will it stand the test of time. Well, the short answer from my perspective: definitely! All finished tracks have a gentle organic flow, some with more of an industrial quality incorporated; another one has birds in it and is manipulated in such a way that they sound like invasive species from the outer limits of space. Although the tracks are relatively long, time passes by quickly and puts you unwillingly under a spell. It’s easy to get lost in these sound worlds with some human influences thrown in for good measure. Listen for yourself: this is dark(er) ambient at its best. Only two boxes left. Hurry! (MDS)
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