Number 1342

KIMIA HESABI – NEMANO GAONA (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
JAMES KALLEMBACH – ANTIGONE (CD by New Focus Recordings) *
ROLF HANSEN – TABLEAU (LP by Karaoke Kalk)
DIEB 13 – SYNKLEPTIE NO. 1044 (VOR PUBLIKUM) (10″ by Trost)
LOGOUT – INSTRUMENTALS (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
DOCE FUEGOS – VITA BREVIS (CDR by Sentincia Records) *
IMBERNON & MIKEL VEGA – EOLIAN DAWN (CDR by Sentincia Records) *
SPUTNIK TRIO – TIME HUNT (CDR by Sentincia Records) *
ELOINE & YPSMAEL – LOST TEETH (CDR by Chocolate Monk) *
PAOLO SANNA OKRA PERCUSSION PROJECT – SEGNI (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
NOBUKA – MINIATÜRE (cassette by Difficult Art And Music) *
PETER JOHAN NŸLAND, BAGDADDY & N. – LIVING ROOM (two cassettes by Barreuh Records/Bagdaddy Records) *


To some, Reinier van Houdt might be best known as an interpreter of modern classical music, which he performs on the piano. Others may know him as a member of Current 93, but, oddly enough, for me, he is best known as a music composer. The piano certainly plays a significant role in his work but not exclusively. In front of me are two of his recent CDs. Actually, the two CDs and two separate covers are sold as a double CD. I have no idea why not in one package. The first is ‘Drift Nowhere Past’, which contains music he recorded on a specific day in 2020, the year of lockdown. Each of the six pieces is recorded on the 22nd day of the month, March, April, May, June, July and August. Read into what you will; maybe the April lockdown was heavier than in August? I no longer recall the finer details of a period I rather forget. I have no idea what kind of set-up Van Houdt has in the studio, but there is the apparent piano, electronics, field recordings (maybe from around the house), percussion, cymbals, bows and whatever else. The piano being prepared is also part of the deal, I assume. The first CD is very long, seventy-four minutes, but has an excellent flow. I sat back and listened, and due to the collage-like nature of the music, slowly moving, but it seemed to change when it was time to do so. The music is also quite dynamic, with some tranquil moments and heavy, controlled bursts of violence.
    The second disc has four pieces, recorded from May 2021 to February 2022 and lasts thirty-six minutes. If this had been a stand-alone album, I would have thought it was too short, but for now, it continues the flow I am in. Van Houdt keeps the mood with slow-moving music, gestures at times, small radio plays in which music mixes with sound, and voices (very occasionally), in which seemingly unrelated sounds meet and have this great conservation that works very well. I didn’t hear much difference in approaches between both discs, other than perhaps that the pieces on the first disc were created in a single day and the other four over a more significant period. Throughout, the results were great, and during these hot days, with little action, this was quite the hallucinatory soundtrack. (FdW)
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KIMIA HESABI – NEMANO GAONA (CD by New Focus Recordings)
JAMES KALLEMBACH – ANTIGONE (CD by New Focus Recordings)

Kimia Hesabi is an Iranian-born viola player; this is her first release ever. She plays compositions of members of the Iranian diaspora in the USA and France and composers working and residing in Iran. Six are featured here with seven pieces, partly written back in the sixties but never before recorded. ‘Nemano Gaona’ is an ancient Iranian term and means ‘colours of home’, a reference to the rooting of this music and the inspiration it draws from classical and contemporary Iranian music. As with many regions far removed from mainstream music business, this is a country one rarely hears music from. I remember a compilation of Iranian bands from some years back that brought some surprising insights, but little more has reached these shores. So diving into the information around this release and the music itself proved especially rewarding.
    To my ears, the music does not directly invoke folklore elements – as may be incurred by the reference to ‘home’. It’s nothing like Bartok or Janacek referencing Balkan sources or Theodorakis shaping Greek music. The influences here are more indirect, capturing moods rather than notes, so to say. The overall feel is very much that of great melancholy.
    As largely viola solo recording, this release heavily relies on the proficiency of Hesabi to shape the music and sound. Her expertly playing keeps the listener engaged, although at times you do with a second voice was added, and yes, your wish is granted with vocals added on track 3 (the first part of a Showan Tavakol composition), electronics on track 8 (composed by Niloufar Nourbakhsh), and the piano on the Sonata by Alireza Mashayekhi, probably the best-known composer on this release. The music is characterised by an overall mood of sadness, though the title ‘Tombstone’ of a set of three movements composed by Bahar Royaee, instead refers to eulogies for real and imaginary persons than the theme of ‘death’. Especially the last piece, the piano sonata, surprises with the way the two instruments are set and complement each other. A worthy previous statement in a well-structured and presented release.
    James Kallembach is a USAmerican senior lecturer (also called an associate professor) of music at the University of Chicago. He conducts and composes – with a primary interest in choral (vocal) music. Several of his choir works, and oratorios have been recorded to date, though the number remains low. The Lorelei Ensemble is a combination of choir and string quartet under the lead of Beth Willer.
    Using this combination maybe as a starting point, perhaps as an inspiration, Kallembach has created an oratorium (I believe this is the best way to describe it, as for an opera, there is a lack of stage action) that sets pieces of Sophie Scholl’s writing in the framework of the ancient drama ‘Antigone’ by Sophocles. Now, I am known here to not be a fan of dramatic charging of music with lyrical meaning that has no or little relationship with the musical theme. In this case I actually have to go further: the topic addressed here is that of the just living in an unjust society. I fully understand this, currently living in England (don’t even get me started on English politics), and with half a German background fully understand the relevance and importance of Sophie Scholl and the Weisse Rose as one of the few publicly acclaimed actions of resistance to the Nazis (there are many more that have been rather subdued in public memories). Nevertheless, I find the combination a bit more than stretched, Antigone rebelling against an unjust decision of the king of Theben for family reasons. In contrast, Sophie Scholl worked against a whole political system destroying half of the world. These are the pitfalls of a libretto latched on to music. I find the picture of Scholl on the cover, therefore, rather preposterous and culturally appropriating – to use the non-word (which I disapprove of, but in this case, it suits spot-on). This is neither a deep dive into Scholl’s work, nor does it do it justice in the mirror of Antigone, and instead drags the (still relevant) political framework into that of a ‘mere’ ancient and mythical drama. Instead of promoting and publishing Scholl’s material, it is run through translation and modification that hardly does any good to the original. The result feels more like exploitation than an adaption and promotion.
    As for the music, I contrast entirely the above. It is of exceptional beauty in parts and makes interesting and crafty use of the combination of choir and string quartet. Unusual though this might sound, it works perfectly, as both sound worlds can deliver contrast and support to each other – the supporting role essentially on the string side throughout. 14 (short-ish) tracks are arranged in three sections – Antigone’s rebellion against injustice, her arrest, and her death – with a leading Prologue. The music moves everywhere from parts that sound like folk songs, using solo, duet, and choral settings, to parts that sound more avant-garde, or, again, like a medieval madrigal. Whilst the vocal parts remain primarily conventional, the strings can move between renaissance harmonics to more dissonant contributions. Listen to the music, put the booklet and cover out of sight!
    Irish composer Finola Merivale joins forces with the Desdemona (Ensemble) from New York, her hometown of some years, on the umpteenth New Focus Release of this month (I think I counted at least five – this is an extraordinary output of new music). As with Kimia Hesabi, a debut release by a young female composer. I tip my hat to Dan Lippel for intentionally (or accidentally? Dan?) giving these excellent young female musicians a platform. We are again back to the world of strings (a common theme of these three releases) but in an entirely different approach. Merivale has compiled a number of her compositions from the past ten years to showcase her work here, all recorded in the year 2021. Though she lives in New York now, financial support for the release (also) came from Republic of Ireland sources, including from Sounding the Feminists.
    The music includes different ensembles, from string trio and quartet to piano and violin, and violin and cello duets, to violin and electronics. The overall mood is one of urgency and energy. The first track, ‘Do you hear me now?’, delivers squealing, high-speed ostinatos layering onto each other, gradually changing timbre, until the middle section slows, breaks up the repetitive figures and adds manhandling of the instruments that otherwise would be called ‘pizzicato’. In the second half, we hear a set of industrial drones interrupted by silence, then a deep growl and finally, the piece dissolves into a distant and faint rendition of something that could be called a ‘dance’. Still pushy, it sees the trio going all over the place in technique and sound until the piece dissolves into another ostinato rising to the heavens. Wrapping all this into 17 minutes means the listener is extravagantly entertained. The second track, ‘Arbores Erimus’, is one of the ‘aged’ ones on this release, from 2013. It is different from the first. A solo violin plays against an electronically processed version of itself. This is processed far from being an echo and changes the speed and timbre of the source, which I guess was taken from the first notes played. Unless it is a pre-recording, and I am wrong (and it should be tape and violin, but I don’t think so). The mood turns into a pensive one on the acoustic fore, whereas in the electronic background part the urgency of the first piece remains present. The track is a far cry from many of the ‘electronically processed’ acoustic instrument pieces, as it creates more of a duo and trio feel at times, apart from ‘merely’ using an echo in other places. At times there is a tiny nod to Irish traditional music, but hardly detectable as such. Again, clocking in at nearly 17 minutes, it never becomes boring, though essentially being a solo piece. In the violin and piano piece ‘Release’, the violin creates a flurry of sound above the more grounded piano part. The violin and cello duo ‘The silent sweep as you stand still’ remains very quiet for about half of the track, after which it turns more energetic and less ethereal, though not pumping up the tempo, which allows it to drift off into a quiet void towards the end. The closing string quartet ‘The language of mountain is rain’ (YES, I remember the weather in Ireland well!) introduces a more recognisable contemporary classical approach to strings with lines disrupting and contrasting each other. As the shortest piece on the release, though, it manages to surprise with a middle section that is as restrained as the second track and phases into a lyrical ending with an impressive end note.
    Dan: thanks for offering us this highly interesting music!. (RSW)
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Staraya Derevnya is an international collective of Tel Aviv and London-based artists. They named themselves after a metro station in Saint Petersburg, A name that combines perfectly with their obscure and underground way of life as a group, already for some 20 twenty years now. Their new release was recorded throughout 2020-2022 in Israel, UK, Mexico and Germany. Participators are  Ran Nahmias (silent cello, theremin), Maya Pik (synthesizer, flute), Grundik Kasyansky (feedback synthesizer), Yoni Silver (bass clarinet), Andrea Serafino (drums), Tom Wheatley (double bass), Galya Chikiss (cries, whispers) and Dasha and Masha Gerzon (choir, piano). Miguel Perez, an experimental artist with a background in metal from Mexica, also known as a The Skull Master, joins on guitars. Gosha Hniu plays objects, percussion, cries and whispers, marching band kazoo, and wheel lyre. Their music sounds like some fictional tribal music. They are often associated with ‘krautrock’, a mixed bag of German experimental groups from the 70s. They come most close to Can (‘Yoo doo right’). The title track ‘Boulder Blues’ is trance-inducing, almost ritualistic music. This also counts for the lengthy track ‘Bubbling Pelt’, originally performed at Tusk Festival 2020 and the highlight of this record. Also, they seem influenced by Residents of Renaldo & The Loaf-like madness, like in the opening track ‘Scythian Nest’. ‘Tangled Hands’ is a strange dreamy song with what seems to be Russian vocals. Distorted anyway, as is everything manipulated and treated in their hands. Also, in the bizarre up-tempo closing song ‘Gallant Spider’. In all tracks, they demonstrate their craft to make a hypnotizing, slightly psychedelic mix of rhythm-based patterns with sounds of very diverse origins. On August 1, Staraya Derevnya and The Skull Mask will present their new album live in Café Oto, which is their second release for the small Australian label Ramble Records. (DM)
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Maybe the recent flow of releases by Tim Olive is still the outcome of not being able to tour? I don’t know. It is always a pleasure to hear his work. Also, on the solo front, another result of the past years, he has some great releases. I particularly enjoyed the two solo releases I discussed in Vital Weekly 1330. On one of those, he worked with radio sounds, and ‘Chocolate Radio Band (The Golden Sceptre)’, Olive continues to delve into the world of transmissions. Still, I have no idea if this is an actual radio or one that one can find online. The signals are fed through equalisation, a spring reverb before landing on tape/computer. Here Olive stacks these recordings together and finds a dialogue in these sounds. There are drones, broken transmissions, voices, scrambled and distorted. Olive allows for some repetition here and there, which is not something I often heard in his previous work. I always call the radio the poor man’s instrument, as they are easy to access and play around with. Ever since as a young boy, when I tapped into some strange sounds on my radio, which I later assumed was an amateur radio station down the street, transmitting sounds from around the house, I have been fascinated by radio and what people can do with it. Olive is a master when it comes to offering variation and dialogue. Unlike, say, John Cage, there is no randomness involved here. Olive picks his sounds for a reason and works them into four thoughtful pieces of music.
    As said numerous times, creating music in collaboration is what Olive does, usually on the road. For his duo CD with Kaya Nakada, he stayed close to his Osaka home as he recorded in Kobe with Nakada. I had not heard of him before, but he is labelled as a “sound-maker/circuit breaker” and “called to life the exposed circuit boards of a half-dozen semi-defunct Roland, Yamaha and Zoom rhythm machines. Olive is on radios, magnetic pickups and ‘undokai’, Japanese for sports events (recording from a neighbourhood event). The recordings were edited into two pieces of music, each about fourteen minutes. If Olive’s solo pieces have a gentler flow, then this music is more of a bumpy ride. Maybe that is inherent to the nature of circuit bending? Whatever the case, we are dealing here with quite a bit of noisy music for Olive. Cracking electronics, radio transmissions going wild and distortion and feedback are never far away. But the two also know how to exercise control, change the mood and bring down the noise. They open up for details, otherwise lost in the mayhem of noise, and there is this beautiful introspective sound world. I am reminded here of Möslang/Guhl and their cracked everyday electronics, but the duo of Olive and Nakada exert more control, dynamics and variation. Great release! (FdW)
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ROLF HANSEN – TABLEAU (LP by Karaoke Kalk)

Here we have the second solo release by Rolf Hansen, following ‘Elektrisk Guitar’ (see Vital Weekly 1199). He expands on the use of the electric guitar. Therefore, “the guitar is placed on a table with microphones installed around it and tuned in a static microtonal modality thanks to wooden replacement frets inserted under the strings. This alters how the sounds are being generated with the instrument, which is now played from above, occasionally strummed or stroked with a tool”. I think that is a tabletop guitar, first explored by Keith Rowe and done by many others (Jim O’Rourke springs to mind). I might be wrong, and maybe it is a novel idea, but something might be wrong with the description. His results are pretty different from many others who use the tabletop guitar. This isn’t a record about wild improvisation, do whatever you can to make sure it sounds like anything but a guitar. Maybe Hansen uses improvisation, but in the end, for him, it is about playing small melodies. Hansen tinkles away, keeping his sound small. While allowing for some additional sounds and electronics, he expands beyond the small, melodic approach, and it becomes an exciting crossroad between the recognizable melody and the more abstract sound. By keeping the pieces ‘small’, as in not a wide expanding, all over the place sort of thing, and keeping the pieces concise and to the point, Hansen has fourteen beautiful miniatures here. Some of these sketch-like and strange, others worked into a composition. Compared to the previous album, the music became smaller and quieter yet remained vaguely familiar and, at the same time, not all. Quite a progress, and I wonder: where to now? (FdW)
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Work from this French guitarist has been reviewed before, primarily his work with Sun Stabbed and the, quite frankly brilliant named La Morte Young, but also a solo release (Vital Weekly 1095). The previous one was primarily electronic, but he solely uses an electric guitar for this new one. “This LP present tracks recorded at home for the neighbourhood pleasure during lockdown”, and unfortunately, no reactions from the said neighbourhood were captured. However, I would not have minded hearing some responses, as Monnier’s music isn’t altogether easy listening. At times quite noise-based with lots of feedback thrown around, but it is not just about feedback. I believe all this is improvisation, yet none of this is quite regular. Monier lets his guitar burn and rip, explode, but also the music finds its way through the tall grass, approaching you like a deadly snake. Sometimes the guitar is an object, such as in the opening piece, ‘Baryon’. Sometimes there are bunches of stabs and loosely notes or heavy wails of distortion. This makes the album (eight songs in total, one extra as a bonus digitally) quite varied, which I think is a great thing. If these pieces had been too similar, the music would lose some of its raw power, whatever Monnier chose to play. Now, with all the variations, the music held my interest throughout. Monnier delivers a record here that is very unusual; not improvisation, noise, or electro-acoustic music, it is a bit of everything, and that is the beauty of it.
    In synchronicity, I received an LP by Bertrand de Lamelle and Pierre Gerard, a day lot, and I put this in here because this was recorded under a bridge. Using two acoustic instruments, a cello for Gerard and an alto saxophone for De Lamelle, one would expect some traffic noise or voice caught on tape. Oddly enough, this didn’t happen, just as with the Monnier record. It is that they mention the location of a bridge here. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known and would think they recorded the four pieces in a studio. The hollow space card isn’t played here that much, yet also not ignored. The two have a more traditional approach to their instruments, which both remain recognizable. Their approach leans towards traditionally improvised music. They bend their sounds in various ways, going from the reflective to the outrageous, from melancholic to the insane. Their interaction works very well. There is a call and response act, but there are also moments in which each player wanders in his own world, not thinking about the other. At times, perhaps, a bit too straightforward improvised music for my taste, but throughout, I found all of this most enjoyable. Despite the absence of an audience! (FdW)
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DIEB 13 – SYNKLEPTIE NO. 1044 (VOR PUBLIKUM) (10″ by Trost)

Over the years, I didn’t review a lot of work by Austria’s Dieb13, the musical project of Dieter Kovačič, which I remember primarily in relation to other musicians. This new record captured his 1044th concert, which he played 22nd of August 2020 at the Château Rouge art space in Vienna. A year in which there were not many concerts, so a rare snapshot from a strange year. Dieb13 is a turntablist, and it is interesting to hear this on a record. Thus the boundaries blur between the crackles as played by Dieb13 and what could be new crackles from a new record. I admit I look at the world of turntablism with some mild scepticism. I enjoy it with other musicians, and it has to be of excellent quality as a standalone. Dieb13’s music is sort of good but not brilliant. On his turntables, you find the odd mixture of fragments you recognize mixed with some less easy defined sounds, and the whole thing is a collage of sounds. Speeding up voices is perhaps an all too common effect, but once he sticks the various sounds into lock grooves, creating a ‘beat’ of some kind, it becomes rather interesting. The music is not extraordinary, and this record is a snapshot of Dieb13 in action. I can’t say when I heard it the last time, so in that respect, it was like catching up with an old acquaintance. (FdW)
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As far as I know, I quite enjoy the releases of Sound In Silence, save for some that have a bit of vocals. These two new ones, however, I am not too sure of. First, there is the music project of Crawford Blair, who works as Nowherians. I don’t remember him as a member of Rothko, the post-rock group from many years ago. Later, he had a duo with Rome Pays Off, later becoming a trio with Graham Gowers (of Karina ESP and Lowered) and other groups. ‘That Is Not An Acceptable Lullaby’ is his debut album as Nowherians. He plays keyboards and has field recordings. There is additional help on violin, vocals, viola, and trumpet by three players (Elise Bjarnadóttir, Olrun Bjarnadóttir, and Matthieu Reifler. The music takes its inspiration from composer William Byrd and his choral pieces. Blair also watched documentaries and read books about the eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980. So far, so good, and the music doesn’t disappoint, I’d say. It is minimal and drone-like, and when Blair uses keyboards, there is a delicate melodic touch, such as in ‘Coldwater I’. However, sometimes it also seems as if he’s using time stretching of orchestral instruments, such as in ‘Coldwater II’ and ‘Dog’s Head’, and then I am less convinced. There is this odd digital texture to this music, which has not always worked too well for me. The devil, here, is in the details, and it is a fine line between one and the other. I enjoyed it all the same, but maybe I think something is missing, and I am not sure what it is.
    The release by Logout, “a multi-instrumentalist from Athens, Greece”, is perhaps the shortest I received from this label. Seven tracks in seventeen minutes. Maybe they switched to power punk? Don’t worry that is not the case. Logout has had four previous releases on Inner Ear and Tiny Room Records. Logout plays classical guitar here, and, despite the title being ‘instrumentals’, the music is not instrumental. Added to the guitar are loop devices and the violin of Kalliopi Mitropoulou, which delivers a fine accompaniment to the guitar. In ‘Malignant’, it goes off the track a bit when the violin seems to add something to the guitar which doesn’t fit. The music here is highly melodic and with quite a big production. Lots of loops, so there is a small string orchestra playing here. The pieces are brief, two or three minutes long and hail from the crossroad of folk/indie and classical music. It is not bad at all, but I am also thinking I am missing the point here too. Some of this feels too much like a sketch, a quick idea and could potentially grow into something bigger. The mood is good, and the right boxes are ticked, but what’s missing. As with Nowherians, I have no idea what’s missing here, though. Two odd brothers, these. (FdW)
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DOCE FUEGOS – VITA BREVIS (CDR by Sentincia Records)

Here we have two odd releases from Spain. The first one is by Miguel Palou, linked with the cryptic Psych-doom band PYLAR. His solo music is recommended if you like Dead Can Dance, Current 93, Warren Ellis, Wolves in the Throne Room, Comus, which made me think that this is probably not my cupper, even when Dead Can Dance I like a lot. I must admit that my expectations were lowered with the gothic lettering on the cover. Palou plays violins, mandolins and percussion, and much to my surprise, I immensely enjoyed the music here. Perhaps it was still not my cup of tea, but it was something I enjoyed. Mostly this is eerie music, with amplified violins and mandolins, which comes with a bit of reverb. If the idea here is to make it sound like it is played in a mediaeval castle, then Doce Fuegos succeeded quite well. Percussion is not in every track, mostly in ‘VI. Por Mi Puerta Pasarás’, and it is hard to say what he is using as drums. The music has a pleasantly dissonant sound and is quite abstract at that. There are also a few electronics, highly obscured ones in ‘II. Homo Bulla Est’ and very high piercing glitches in ‘V. Eros’. That adds further to the abstraction of the music. Think folk music but with a solid experimental twist.
    The other release is labelled as ‘free improvisation of ambient textures’ by two musicians from the Basque country. I heard of both before, even when Imbernon was a long time ago (Vital Weekly 808) when I reviewed his work with Xedh (Miguel A. Garcia). From Vega, I reviewed a solo cassette in Vital Weekly 1307. He’s also a member of Orbain Unit (Vital Weekly 1280). I said it would be interesting to hear him playing with others about his solo cassette. On the 6th of August 2021, they recorded the six pieces in Finland. Although it is not mentioned, I believe both men play the guitar here. Again the label says, “Recommended if you like: Iancu Dumitrescu, William Basinski, Derek Bailey, Bohren And Der Club of Gore”. The ambient element is something I miss in the music here, as, whatever it is, ambient this is not. These guitars are drone-free. No endless sustain around here. They play their strings, torture them, and use objects on them (I am guessing here) but also use immense effect pedals to alter their music. I didn’t think this was easy-to-digest music. It sounded alright, but not great. Some of these pieces went on for too long and played around too much with the use of effects. Perhaps the improvisation aspect didn’t help too much either. At times quite a noisy beast, which I thought was acceptable. And so it is a balancing act between ‘yeah, alright’ and ‘perhaps not’. Maybe the release I played most of this week’s lot before I still could not make up my mind. (FdW)
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SPUTNIK TRIO – TIME HUNT (CDR by Sentincia Records)

Sputnik Trio was formed in 2014. Double bass, alto sax and drums. All three have earned their merits in music. Marco Serrato has a few solo releases under his belt and is bass player/vocalist in Orthodox, a heavy doom duo outfit; drummer Borja Diaz also plays in Orthodox. Together they play in other trios as well, Hidden Force Trio and Blooming Latigo. Lastly, there is Ricardo Tejero. He plays in the Dominic Lash Quartet and many more bands, including the London Improvisers Orchestra. Sputnik Trio’s last track on their previous release, ‘What The Hate’ from last year, is called ‘Time Hunters’. This new release is called ‘Time Hunt’ and it is aptly named. Thirty-five minutes of, for some people, an entry-level introduction into the sound world of free jazz; others are already seasoned with grooving and swinging jazz trio. Starting with an incessantly infectious rhythm on the ride cymbal, ‘Bird Of Pray’ as the song is called, is chased by a bird of prey, praying to live another day. A great opener for this release, also the longest one. Will be back has a brooding atmosphere, as if to say, save your hide when I’m back. Overall this is a delightful release, one in which melody is not forgotten; swing is an essential part of the groove as a groove doesn’t always swing, and the interplay is excellent. The closing track ‘Three Times Ura’, ura being the Basque word for water, has a simple but beautiful melody accompanied by an ostinato bass line. A wonderful ending of, again, a delightful release. (MDS)
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Behind Eloine we find Bryan Day, the man who runs the Public Eyesore label and Eh? Records. He is also a musician who creates his instruments from old electronics, metal, wood, and constructes the weirdest things. Ypsmael is Norm Mueller from the southern part of Germany, where he moved coming from England. From him I reviewed a cassette in Vital Weekly 1313. I don’t know what he does, other than what I am told, “uses an array of electronic and acoustic sound sources, sonic artifacts and audio detritus derived from various instruments, circuit-bent, amplified objects and environmental sound at the core of his compositional and improvisational approach”. It is match that works well with Eloine. The music is finely executed, controlled chaos of sounds overlapping and bouncing. Of percussive attacks, non-rhthmical of metal threads strung acrooss the floor; a thud and a thumb here and there, and Ypsmael creating ever changing masses of sounds, bubbling and burping, like a pan on a hot stove. You couldn’t list this a drone music, or improvisation, or even electro-acoustic music as it is a bit of all of that. What I particularly enjoyed about this release is the vibrant character of the music. It seems always moving and changing, which gives great speed to the music. Think all those people who crawled on stage with their contact microphones, carefully touching upon objects, but on 78 rpm. Moving and shaking, moving and shaking. Very direct, in your face music, but that’s something of a trademark for Day, I believe. Eight pieces of energy in forty-two minutes and all stones and tables turned, all amplified and all heard. Excellent. (FdW)
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Before I heard some of Paolo Sanna’s work, it was always in combination with other musicians, Giacomo Salis and Luca Venitucci (Vital Weekly 1324) and Simon Balestrazzi (Vital Weekly 1301), so now its Sanna solo; at least on one of the six pieces. ‘Segna’ started by randomising how to approach a 33cm traditional Chinese drum, resulting in four pages of notes and drawings. These serve as a graphic score to be interpreted by other percussion players. He handed the score to Matt Atkins (also serving label boss here), Quentin Conrate, Kevin Corcoran, Francesco Covarino, and Giacomo Salis. The pieces have to be played acoustic and without too many overdubs. Those are the only restrictions. The different percussion objects are mentioned, but no sign of the score, which is a pity.  There is a 9″ hand drum, a snare drum, a paranku, a toy drum & wood maracas, a frame drum and Sanna, of course, on his Chinese drum. Not being a drummer myself, nor often around these, I found much of these played similarly but also sounding the same. Had I not known I was playing a release by six different musicians, I would have believed this to be by one player, using similar techniques, on, perhaps, slightly different instruments. Or, maybe, with a different arrangement of percussive objects. The way they are played is very random (or at least so it seems to me), like the player has many sticks and mallets strung together and rattling these over the objects. A bit like Clinton Green, but without the mechanics. Salis recorded his piece outside the house, making it sound differently; also, his playing techniques vary a bit. Sanna is the one who uses the most attack when it comes to hitting the skin. An exciting release, for sure, but I would have loved to see the images. (FdW)
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Let’s not even try to explain what Builenradar means. You will ‘get’ if you speak Dutch. Behind this hilarious name, we find Wouter Vanhealemeesch, who is “a curator and promoter and was the co-founder of the audioMER label”. Although his name sounded familiar, I don’t think I had heard his music before. Vanhealemeesch plays a resonator guitar which he puts on his lap and sometimes grunts along. His style is unique, I think, strumming and fingerpicking. Builenradar likes to keep it minimal, repeating over and over the same strumming and picking. It has this drunkness quality, which I mean kindly. Somebody is drunk and picks up a guitar and starts to play it. You know the musician isn’t drunk, as his repetitions are full on the same throughout a song. In his amplification, there is something rotten. Again, I mean this nicely. It reminded me of Konono No.1, whose amplified motor parts sounded like amplified kalimba’s. Primarily this happens in the title track. This amplification adds to the brutality and rawness of the music. Rawness and brutality, but not in a noisy way. Plain distortion is something you don’t find on this release. His grunting is low in the ‘mix’, which I thought worked very well. One could also think it is some drunken rant, and perhaps it is in these cases? I don’t know, but somehow I don’t think so. There are six pieces in thirty-one minutes, and each one is great. A straightforward and personal release and recorded in such a way that it is almost like the man is present in your room to perform it solely for you, with all the intensity he has to offer. (FdW)
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NOBUKA – MINIATÜRE (cassette by Difficult Art And Music)

Big cities have very little appeal to me. I find them too expensive, too crowded (and usually populated by the people who believe that living in the big city fulfils their dreams), and very impersonal. The pro-arguments don’t weigh up. ‘There are many great concerts’ is one of those, and how come you never see many there? Because people are usually too blasé about the whole concert situation. Berlin I find no exception to that rule, but if I had to choose a big city to live in, it would be Berlin. Over the past thirty or so years, areas of interest shifted from the Prenzlauerberg area to Kreuzburg and Neuköln, and what I like about those areas is that they don’t give you the impression of being in a big city. More like a village which happens to have tall buildings. Nobuka lives in the world’s best city, the hometown of Vital Weekly, glorious sunny Nijmegen, but he calls Berlin his home from home. ‘Miniatüre’ is a new cassette of which he recorded the music in Berlin, and it comes with a black and white, A5-sized booklet with photographs he took in the city and the booklet with AI-generated text, based on Nick Cave lyrics; not sure why Nick Cave, but maybe because he loved in Berlin many years ago? One thing I am also not sure of is why ‘miniatures’? He writes that these songs were sketched while walking through Berlin, and why not develop these sketches into fully formed pieces of music? More and more, I am thinking about the whole sketch approach that people apply to releases. It is something I don’t understand. You have some great ideas going; why stop halfway through? Nobuka works with sampling techniques and creates interesting collages of sound in the best tradition of electro-acoustic music. Maybe he uses some field recordings from Berlin, but Nobuka also uses electronics and orchestral samples, which all blend easily.  Like fine little sketches of the city life, by night and by day; full of energy and sometimes without sign of life. Sometimes, like in ‘8’, with its harsher drone and obscure percussive rumble, this works, but then that’s over two minutes long. But the sparse vocal piece that is ‘9’ (forty-eight seconds) is just too brief. I enjoyed this release quite a bit, as I think Nobuka is a wonderful composer of shimmering mood music, but he has it also in him to create extensive works (as shown in the past, such as his LP ‘Reiko’, Vital Weekly 1305) that this feels like a half-filled glass. (FdW)
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PETER JOHAN NŸLAND, BAGDADDY & N. – LIVING ROOM (two cassettes by Barreuh Records/Bagdaddy Records)

As much as I like cassette releases, the one thing that didn’t live on is the weird packaging from cassettes in the 80s—dreaded by those people with an extensive collection who preferred the plastic, easy-to-stack boxes. Some of the glory days extravaganzas are shown in the package here. A large silk screen bag, including two cassettes, each in a cloth bag (also silk screened) and a fanzine (Nobuka’s release this week is also some extraordinary, a great runner-up). The one thing is missing in the movie. ‘Living Room’ is a short, twenty-minute film by Lilia Scheerder and everything in this package deals with the film. As I had a private screening, I know that the movie is a silent one, showing a living room, and in two sections, we see two persons locked up in this room (voluntarily? I am not sure), and how they deal with loneliness and slowly driving them to madness. The film has no dialogue, just music, and is shot in black and white, just like the old days of silent movies. Some additional graphics add a wonderfully weird effect to the whole thing. I don’t know much about the film, but I very much enjoyed this.
    In the package, there is one cassette, twenty minutes in total, with the soundtrack composed by Peter Johan Nÿland (also known from his work with Hadewych, O Saala Sakraal, Distel and half of Trepanerungsritualen, besides much more). Maybe because there is no dialogue, Nÿland delivers music all the time, following the action on screen. So if the actor scratches the table, that is supported by scratching sounds. The dramatic music makes the idea of losing one’s mind evident in both parts. The soundtrack is a fine mixture of musique concrète techniques, using acoustic sounds, instruments and maybe field recordings and transformations of this material, creating a world of music that one can enjoy as a standalone. Without images, there is the possibility to make up a story to this story-telling music, possibly different from the one which is the actual film. I found all of this quite powerful music, both with and without the moving images.
    At first, I was confused about the second cassette. What has this to do with the ‘Living Room’ project? It turns out that Bagdaddy is one of the film’s two actors and a musician. She works with N., a member of the group Laster. Here we have a more continuous piece of music, made with synthesizers, drum machines and, as a result, a more conventional piece of music. Down-tempo, techno minded, but too slow to dance to. It all sounds very trippy, but I had a long and hazy night, which adds to my slow and trippy experience with this music. I didn’t even notice the program repeated on the second side the first time I heard it. Along with the black/white zine (to which the other actor contributed also), the mood overall is dark, but it is a mood that I enjoy very much. (FdW)
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