Number 1345

FLORIAN WITTENBURG – 1- BIS 4-STIMMIG (CD by Edition Wandelweiser Records) *
GROTH (CD by Zoharum) *
POPSYSZE – EMISJA (CD by Zoharum) *
DÜSSELDORF – AMOK (CD by Zoharum) *
DAVID MEIER & RAMON LANDOLT (LP by Wide Ear Records) *
MORNING SKETCHES VOLUME II (cassette compilation by Hamilton Tapes)
FADED GHOST (cassette by Hamilton Tapes)
DOC WÖR MIRRAN/FELIX MAYER (cassette by Attenuation Circuit/Grubenwehr Freiburg)
QUINTEN DIERICK – E.M.I.R.S. D.J.O. (cassette, private) *
JEDRZEJ SIWEK – LA MER (cassette, private) *
KOZO INADA & FRANS DE WAARD – UNTITLED (cassette by Temporary Mountain)


The previous CD by Asmus Tietchens for Black Rose Recordings was ‘Fast Ohne Titel, Korrosion’ (Vital Weekly 907), which was quite a diversion from his usual quiet music. For ‘Schatten Ohne Licht’ (shadows without light), there is no such diversion, and Tietchens stays firmly in his silent world. Next to the usual E.M. Cioran quote, the information tells us that Tietchens takes inspiration from the works of Ulrich Horstmann and that the theme for this release is about “a return to a mineral world without any organic species, and there inhabitable for human beings”. Also no ray of sunshine in this thinking, but considering the sorry state of the world, one could say it’s not the worst idea. With this information in the back of my mind, I started this release and saw images of an empty world; no life at all, just rocks, caves, and minerals; is there a sea? Can it exist without life in it? My knowledge of the natural world is pretty limited, so I don’t know. But Tietchens’ music here sounds like stale wind over barren land. Wind rustling… well, not leaves and branches, probably, but there is a strong feeling of desolation within this music. As always, I have no idea what kind of sounds Tietchens uses in his music, as the level of processing is quite high, but it works very well. There is a bit of industrial droning in ‘Anthroposaurus’, which is not something I heard this strong in his other recent releases. In other pieces, this is less evident, so this new release is not a most radical break. It is, however, an excellent release, on par with almost all of Tietchens’ releases, but safe to say, as a fanboy, I am probably quite biased. Towards the end of the final piece, ‘Kolosse’, the volume increases considerable and ends with silence; I believe that is quite a sign, but for what? (FdW)
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FLORIAN WITTENBURG – 1- BIS 4-STIMMIG (CD by Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Music releases by Edition Wandelweiser Records contain minimal music, not necessarily in the Steve Reich (et al.) sense of the word, but created with a few notes and much-considered silence between the notes. The new release by Florian Wittenburg, from right around the German corner of Vital Weekly HQ, is also, in another way, minimal. Here, we have six tracks spanning a total of fourteen minutes. Three pieces of piano music total about eleven minutes, and three poems, another three minutes and a little bit. Many of his older works deal with computer-processed acoustic instruments, so this is a bit different yet not unusual for him. From the short German liner notes, I understand that this is about multiple voices, and there is some random process at work here. The three pieces for piano are quiet and reflective works, with precisely what Edition Wandelweiser Records prescribes (well, they don’t, of course), a few notes and considered silence. It is quite beautiful and reminded me of Morton Feldman, but of course, in a very brief version here. The three poems are by Dutch author Cees Nooteboom, but read in German, and seem to be cut up, and sometimes lines are read simultaneously. It is both tranquil but also adds a mysterious quality to the music. It doesn’t distract and is another layer of music. Within fourteen minutes, it is over, and I am between ‘what is this all about’ and ‘wait, why isn’t there more’; go to repeat and start again. (FdW)
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GROTH (CD by Zoharum)

“Maybe you know what to do with this lot”, was the message that came along with these promos. The short answer is “yes and no”. I kept Reformed Faction for the last because I knew that would be up my alley. The rest of these were all new names for me. Groth is a four-piece Polish rock band that features members Barti (bass), Zdun (drums), Lukasz (vocals) and Miron (guitar). This is a ‘true’ rock band of the variety I think is hardly found in these pages. Moreover, if they are, they end up in the section, “what the hell is this doing in Vital Weekly?’. Big guitar riffs, loud drums and bass, a furious voice. Not bad, I think, but just like the next guy reviewing music for Vital, what do I know about more traditional heavy rock/metal music? Nothing, really. If I’d be unkind, I’d say, ‘luckily, it went on for only twenty-seven minutes’, but these sort of albums aren’t made for me, so I can imagine if you dig this kind of stuff, you might be disappointed by the length of this album.
    Also, Yutani is a rock band, with Oesu on bass, Paarabola on electronics and Inutile Carcase on drums. I had – no surprise – not heard of them before. While the music is heavy on the drums and bass, sparking around in full force, we also hear an electronic component. Again, I have no frame of reference for this music; it kind of rolls on and on, like there is no tomorrow, and is heavy and psychedelic. Perhaps not the easiest of music releases to trip by – he said, not ever the tripping man. I am a bit lost for words concerning this one. I like the music, but not sure about ‘why’ and ‘how’.
    The third rock-inspired record is by Popsysze (is Zoharum changing its musical direction, I wondered). I am not sure if the band members’ names appear on the cover; however, their photo does! Three men, and I believe they play guitar, drums and bass, and one of them is on vocal duties. The opening piece is ‘Czerwone Światło’, which has a rather post-rock-inspired sound – but with vocals, which seems rather unusual. The lyrics are in Polish, so I have no idea what these are about. The other tracks are in a similar style of post-rock, post-punk and a bit of math meets jazz. Of the whole batch that was bestowed upon me, this is the one album that I had the most ‘trouble’ with. Too traditional rock music for my taste, and I fear way outside the scope of the Vital Weekly discourse.
    Returning to heavy music but more akin to what VW is about (as far as I know) is the music from Düsseldorf (not to be confused with La Düsseldorf). This version is Tom Axer on synthesizer and vocals and Jacek Sokolowski on drums. Apparently, this is a new line-up, with Sokolowski being the most recent addition. They are described as the pioneers of the Polish EBM scene, and I can indeed hear that EBM pulse in their music. The sequenced synthesiser sounds, bubbling like acid but never in full acid mode, backed with some heavy drumming. The beats are never straightforward but just a notch more complex. Still, sometimes there is that slightly militaristic bang on the cans.  Voices from radio (?) get mixed up with vocals. At times it is pretty livid music, but in the opening minutes of ‘Ostwall’, one of the two live pieces on the album, they pay homage to the world of cosmic music, and I would classify this as something much more akin to krautrock than to EBM. Their other live track, ‘Power Of The People’, shows their true  EBM roots and boots. The four studio pieces do contain more detail and more variation within the pieces than the live recordings. ‘A Curse’ is one straightforward stomper, while ‘Ectoplasm’ is more slow-burner and somewhat melancholic (even!). I guess this is something for anyone who loves anything from DAF to Front 424.
    And then the main attraction: the re-issue of Reformed Faction. A (no doubt) fascinating story about which little is known is “what the hell happened with Zoviet*France in the late 80s?” There was, quite suddenly, it seemed, Rapoon, Robin Storey’s solo project, ambient house offshoots Horizon 222 (there is a re-issue waiting to happen) and Ingleton Falls – both short-lived.
    Rapoon and Zoviet*France stayed on course all those years, and of the two, Rapoon is the most active one regarding collaborations. In 2004, Storey teamed up with other former z*f members, Andy Eardley (who had had two releases as Delayer) and Mark Spybey (who released work as Dead Voices On Air and under various other guises). They released their debut album on Klanggalerie in 2004, and this work is now apparently much sought after. Originally this album was released by The Reformed Faction Of Soviet France, but the name was shortened later on. There is no ambient house on this record since the three stay firmly in the style of Zoviet*France, which means moody and atmospheric electronic music. Usually, there is also a bit of rhythm via loops and samples, but not as rhythmic as some of Rapoon’s work (which, come to think of it, is sadly never reviewed here. I don’t know why, but I’d sure love to review some of those). Reformed Faction shares some of the older Zoviet*France sensibilities, for instance, keeping the pieces short and vague, like unfinished business. However, they also do not shy away from exploring their sound fully and let it develop itself in a beautiful psychedelic way. Music that, after all the heaviness unloaded by this label, made me look for something to relax, and it turned out to be the perfect medication. (LW)
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During a residency, Delphine Dora worked in a church in St Saphorin in Switzerland. She had the opportunity to play the organ for a few days and recorded a series of tracks in an improvising way. These pieces, seventeen in total, see Dora play the organ and sing wordless songs. Humming and intoning a bit while she plays minor melodies on the organ, usually on the same instrument setting – by opening a pipe, one can change the colour of the sound, which usually imitates an instrument. Sometimes quite folk-like, but also minimal, and sometimes quite dark. ‘L’Abîme Qui Les Sépare” reminded me of Nico, but, again, without lyrics. I am not sure what to make of this. I enjoyed the music to a certain extent, but it also seemed to be on a repeat mission at one point. Then, the pieces sound all a bit too much the same, which made me think that I got the idea and it’s time to move on. I didn’t find it too easy to play the same all the way through, from beginning to end, which is a pity. I think it all sounds pretty good, and Dora does a fine job, but ten pieces of music were undoubtedly more than enough for me. (FdW)
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While the name sounded familiar, I only heard music from Thomas Darksmith long ago in Vital Weekly 743. I see he has a few more releases, none of which I heard. I didn’t know what to make this music back in the day, but I enjoyed what I heard. So many moons later, the whole lo-fi end of music is even more in my focus. I see more sense in this. I guess! The cover says that the music is created from”domestic and field recordings, tapes, voice, electronics and radio”, which are staple ingredients for such lo-fi affairs. There are many variations within the lo-fi noise/ambient music genre, and we find Darksmith at the more noisy end of the spectrum. In his sound world, he sources many sounds, sticks them in some multi-track program and finds a dialogue among them. What goes into the mix? At times, that is very difficult to tell. In ‘Looking For Idiots Problem With Everyone’, I’d say there are a few bits and pieces of vinyl fragments and a looped bell sound towards the end. But also broken motorized objects, which is also something we hear in ‘Personal And Embarrassing Hold Everything’. Here we may have field recordings running rampant, perhaps there are some tape manipulations, and radio broadcasts picked up from the neighbours. There is at all times a lot happening here, and every time I hear, I notice new elements previously unnoticed. That I thought was the great power of this release, next, of course, to the fact that this is lo-fi from the noise end of the world. No ambience but densely orchestrated fragments; sounds that have no relations working together in wondrous ways. This is the noise music that I like. A bit musique concrète, a bit of noise, thrift store electronics and even a bit of sound art and improvisation. Sadly at thirty minutes, all too brief. (FdW)
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Back in Vital Weekly 1317, I was pleasantly surprised by a CD by a Finnish music project named Nuori Veru. The music was a fine mixture of noise, field recordings, reflective bits and power electronics. This new CD contains a re-issue of the first two releases by Nuori Veri, which were two cassettes, ‘Vakaumus I’ ad ‘Vakaumus II’, both in an edition of fifty copies on Brownhill Mafia. ‘Vakaumus’ means conviction. Both tapes were short, about fifteen minutes, so there is room for a bonus piece of the same length. Aussaat calls this ‘rural industrial’, judging by the farmyard recordings (animal noises, rusty fences and barnyard door), this is quite an apt description. Again I have no idea what the lyrics are about, but despair, anger, religion and drunkenness might all fit the idea. The titles are again translated on the inside of the cover, ‘The Long Shadow Of A Doubt’, ‘Drought – The Thirst For Sanctity’, and ‘Apostasy’, can (again) go many ways. The voice is the right one for this kind of music, screaming, shouting, whispering and with the occasional repeating loop to imply an industrial rhythm, it works very well. But there are also more reflective piano bits, rummaging around the farmland; life is probably not that bad in rural Finland. The radio-play idea I had the last time also works here similarly and adds more mystery to the release. Maybe it is all a bit of a gothic horror story in a damp, empty land. The knives are out to kill (in ‘Drought – The Thirst For Sanctity’). What I like about this musical project is that it is both traditional and surprising, covering a wider musical field than your typical noise release. (FdW)
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Close to twenty years ago, Paul Bradley ran a series of twenty-minute CDR releases called ‘Drone Works’. In total, there were eleven releases, of which Paul Bradley has #6 to replace Bass Communion’s #6, which, for whatever reason I forgot, was withdrawn. Among the contributors was Darren Tate and Colin Potter was a big of this one. When he expressed interest in a re-issue (frankly: a box set with all ten/eleven would also be something I can see as an option) of this particular contribution to the series, Potter found out that the work was originally an organ improvisation by Tate, of which Bradley did four variations. Tate chose the one that he liked for the release. For the re-issue, it was decided to use all four, and with minimal editing, they all fit on one disc. I easily admit I have not heard the various contributions to this series in quite some time, but playing this, I am all too familiar with the sort of drone music presented. It seems very much the sort of drone music that ‘we’ did in the early part of this century, with much thanks to the possibilities of the computer. Sounds that lasted only a few seconds are stretched ad infinitum, then layered and pushed around with more sound effects. Long, slowly these fades are to get to the next section and are usually pitched down to get to the lower end of the sound spectrum. Tate’s organ shines through ever so often and sometimes entirely disappears in the mist of processing. Of course, the beauty of this music is that it sounds like a natural drone and not like a piece of computer music working overtime; in the four pieces, that isn’t happening. I couldn’t say if I made the same choice as Tate in 2004, as all four pieces are lovely pieces of deep and dark ambient music. As such, Potter did a wise thing to release all of these versions. I didn’t prefer one, nor I think there was one that didn’t fit. Good, solid drone music from a different time. (FdW)
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While I think about what Harmony Of Struggle means, I am playing the music from this Polish one-person band by Neithan. He started this musical project in 2020, and he’s also known as Whalesong, Nothing Has Changed and Lugola. He is not known by me at all, but he popped up in Vital Weekly 1341 when RSW discussed an album Michal Kielbasa did with Aleksander Papierz. Kielbasa is Neithan, right; check! The nine pieces on this album show a strong love for the good ol’ power electronics. The cover comes with photography of dead soldiers and a quote by Orwell; “if you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever”. Fun for the whole family, I’d say.
    I love a good, solid album of power electronics, even when I restrict myself to a maximum of two per week. And yes, that used to be much different, but following close to forty years of playing loud music, appreciation changes. Changes, but somehow it is still, unlike some other musical genres I once championed. Harmony Of Struggle presses all the right keys to produce his variation of power electronics. Be it synthesizers, sound effects, something digital, microphone firmly in hand to be screamed at, talked to and whispered at. It is all about sonic overload, distortion, feedback and such. It is not a harsh noise wall, as Neithan knows how to have minimal but steady variation in his music. That, for me, is an absolute necessity when appreciating power electronics (well, most music). Harmony Of Struggle doesn’t do anything you never heard before, but that’s the sonic conservatism that comes with the music territory.
    The first time Nimh and Giuseppe Verticchio were mentioned in Vital Weekly was in issue 348, but already twice. Since then, his work has made it to these pages several times. Here, Zoharum is in their role of curators of electronic history and offers a double CD of Verticchio’s earliest work, both unreleased. These works are pure electronics and recorded without any overdubs or editing. Following the heaviness of Harmony Of Struggle, this is certainly something else. Mainly the first disc contains some tranquil music; on disc two, ‘Composite #2’ is quite a heavy piece of noise. The eight pieces that makeup ‘Composite’ have more variation than the three of ‘Caustic’. It seems to me that ‘Composite’ is a work in which Verticchio tries out different ideas; very quiet and minimal drones, noise and even ‘techno’ in the final part. It is a bit too much all over the place for my liking. The three parts of ‘Caustic’ have this togetherness much better. Here Verticchio works with long-form drones. Maybe these are generated with a synthesiser (or more, of course), but he likely uses digital samplers to stretch a wee-bit of sound into the big space network. The pieces go up and down in volume and work very well as dark ambient music. There is just the right amount of variation here. Not surprising for the time it was made, or for the present day, but surely a solid work. (FdW)
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Here we have an exciting LP that involves drums and synthesizers. I immediately think about Silver Apples, but that it is not. Not by a long stretch. David Meier plays drums, voice, and sampling, and Ramon Landolt plays synthesizer, voice and live sampling. I assume they sample their contributions and somehow feed this into the music. The interesting part is that the results are pretty diverse; almost as if we have eight different projects playing drums and electronics, and in some cases, drums are not at all to be recognized. In ‘At Home In The Green’, the cymbals are bowed and produce high piercing drones. That piece is followed by ‘Concrete Grey’, in which the drums are quite jazzy, and the synthesizers are pre-set to piano. The only thing that makes it different is the electronic bleeps. The opening piece, ‘Intentions’ (note the plural! More than one), sees them in a wild territory of improvised music. There are leanings towards the electro-acoustic (‘Void’), something much more melodic (in ‘Deviations’), and a sort of Craig Burke-inspired sound poetry n ‘But Beyond The Ordinary’, but heavily updated with the current sampling technology. According to the information, field recordings are also used here, but I found that very hard to detect within this music. Altogether this is a pretty wild ride, even in the album’s quieter moments. I am not entirely sure if the variety is simply too much or if it is a very balanced showcase of whatever these men can do. Let’s go for the latter. I am curious to know how this would play out in a concert! (FdW)
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While we are waiting for a vinyl re-issue of ‘Shipwreck Radio Volume 1/Lofoten Deadhead’, there is the 7″ with some radical reworking of the original 2004 sound material. These days it takes ages to get a record pressed, which is down to the record industry endlessly re-issuing old records (which, in all honesty, also goes for the likes of NWW) and the Adele’s of this world releasing vinyl. The 7″ is a most curious format to release music on, especially in the world of the Weekly. How to construct a piece (or two) of music that sounds like a song and not, via a quick fade in and out, like an outtake of something much bigger? Does Nurse With Wound succeed in this task? From their past, we know they can create such a concise piece of music with a proper start and end. In ‘Shipwreck AWOL’, they (Steve Stapleton & Colin Potter) build their piece as one long brush stroke, building and building towards that cascading climax, cutting out at the peak of it all. By that point, it is locked in an industrial rhythm and ends like a balloon escaping air. The title piece has a nice rhythm to get the proceedings together. Around this mid-tempo drum loop are stretched ghostly voices from the original sound material. They perform a requiem for those who lost their lives at sea. Now, this piece works quite well on this format! Not a pop song, not at all, but with all that is required for a ‘proper’ 7″! (FdW)
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MORNING SKETCHES VOLUME II (cassette compilation by Hamilton Tapes)
FADED GHOST (cassette by Hamilton Tapes)

Years ago, I had a disclaimer in Vital Weekly that said something that we’d ignore ‘vague stuff’. These two tapes aren’t that vague but relatively obscure anyway. There is, as far as I can see, no Bandcamp page for this label, nor website, just an email. Both covers are on thin blue paper stock and have that beautiful 80s cassette vibe. I only recognised Background Character from the compilation because I reviewed a tape from this project last week. I now understand that Nathan Ivanco is the man behind that moniker (along with Marion, which also might be an alias of his; see, still a bit obscure) and running the label. He is also behind American Cig, Catalog Junction, Commuter Hell, and Dry Rhythm Impression, yet none of these appears on ‘Morning Sketches Volume II’. Mone of the other fifteen names meant anything to me, although there are some intriguing names here; Body Of Intrigue, Beach Vicodon, Thoughts On Air, Drogon Anting, Gooning, Void Wand, Swamp Fruit, Shadow Pattern, Softlight Reveries, Lero, B.P., Fantasy Locker, Jeremy Buchan, DRT and Dogon Lock. I strongly suspect some musicians are working multiple names here, judging by both the names and the music. I enjoyed Background Character’s haziness last week, and many of the pieces here operate in a similar style. Minimal electronics, lo-fi electronics (meaning a delay pedal or two), some field recordings captured on a Walkman, and that’s about it. Melodies repeat just too long, but that is the charming naivety of the music. Each track seemed a variation of the previous, shifting around equipment in favour of one another but keeping within the same lo-fi ambient music style. Somewhere on the second side, this moody atmosphere was broken with a slightly more experimental track of reel-to-reel manipulation (but I have no idea by which band), which made me realise: oh yeah, this is a compilation! A most enjoyable compilation, filled with new names, great music and an adequate level of obscurity.
    One could say the same about the release by Faded Ghost. I am unsure if this is the same Faded Ghost I found on Discogs, with one release from 2016. No information (surprise, surprise) on the cover, no titles, just the band name and ‘Hamilton Tapes 19’. Faded Ghost operates in that same wide field of lo-fi electronics, but with minor differences. The melodic side is not as widely developed as with some of the others on the compilation, and Faded Ghost instead works with loops of a slightly more industrial nature. However, Faded Ghost is true to the worded ‘faded’, as none of this goes out to be very loud or noisy. Instead, it seems as if Faded Ghost uses old, recycled tape to record his music. Music as a vanishing act. In all its obscurity, I really enjoyed this release. It is tough to tell how the music was made, so my idea is that it is all rather lo-fi, is nothing more than just an idea I have. But I doubt it is all a bunch of fancy synthesisers and effect gear here, and instead the sort of things one finds cheaply in a thrift store. That’s the sort of instrument I like! (FdW)
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DOC WÖR MIRRAN/FELIX MAYER (cassette by Attenuation Circuit/Grubenwehr Freiburg)

The second split tape on the new split label/recycled tape contains music from Doc Wör Mirran and Felix Mayer. Both have one forty-five-minute piece of music. Doc Wör Mirran is the core quartet of recent years, Joseph B. Raimond, Michael Würzer, Stefan Schweiger and Adrian Gormley. This time they wanted to do something with “a limited number of sounds, use both lots of silence and lots of repetition”. Doc Wör Mirran is not the sort of music group to have one particular sound. You may know this from the many reviews of their work on these pages. The piece’s title is ‘Sparse’, and it indeed is. The guitar repeats a noisy strum while Schweiger plays metallic percussion, it seems, rather than drums. Maybe there is some kind of loop at work? It takes a while before Gormely adds his saxophone, and he does this in a somewhat subdued way. In some of the recent DWM releases, his playing is quite dominant, but he, too, keeps within the sparseness of the piece. It all evolves slowly but naturally—a most surprising piece of music from the living legends.
    I don’t think I heard of Felix Mayer before. he is from Hamburg and plays the trombone and is a sound artist. He performed ‘Archived Love’, in which he uses zither, objects, electronics and participating listeners; the latter is mainly phoned-in voices of people arguing with the police, among other voice material. Quite an interesting, certainly, when it hits upon drones in the second half. In the first half, there are the voices, sometimes processed in the well-known Asmus Tietchens of recent years, along with drones. Yet, no as refined, so Mayer has a more personal voice in this. Throughout the forty-five minutes, there is quite a bit of variation in the various sections this piece goes through, and it all works very fine. (FdW)
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QUINTEN DIERICK – E.M.I.R.S. D.J.O. (cassette, private)

One of the more revolutionary music programmes I have heard of is the ‘Radiola Improvisatie Salon’, from Willem de Ridder. I’m talking 1980-1984 here. The premise of this radio show was that anyone could send their music, and De Ridder would play five minutes without any pre-auditioning. You’d hear him say, “I have an envelope here, containing a cassette by Quiten Dierick and Eugene Spaan, and this their telephone number, and I will play their song ”Nootloze Peilgang'” and then he’d play five minutes of it. Many contributing musicians were called ‘home tapers’, featuring people with proper home studios and people like Dierick and Spaan, who had no advanced technology yet. They met at the technical youth club, soldering their electrical circuits and reading DIY electronic magazines. They were about 15-16 years old then, yet their music was already quite sophisticated compared to our contributions. Many original contributions that De Ridder received were considered lost but popped and are now slowly digitized. There is a dedicated Bandcamp page for a series of twelve releases (link below). One of the found tapes is the Dierick/Spaan tape. Whatever became of Spaan, I don’t know, but Dierick became Belch, a one-person punk band and E.M.I.R.S. for more electronic music. We hear a bit of the original broadcast on this cassette, with a slightly different announcement than I just wrote, plus a 2022 track in the original style. It is always great to hear Willem de Ridder doing his introductions. I remember the original broadcasts fondly.The second side contains the three tracks the two originally submitted (people submitted more pieces; I assume they anticipated more radio play, which hardly ever happened). The crudeness of the original electronic circuits is something that Dierick is still interested in, which is a sort of highly primitive yet very effective variation of the music that Pan Sonic did ten years onwards. Not with the deep bass drum, but with the same crude synthesizer, endlessly pulsing and buzzing. Not the best in composition or technology, but a great snapshot of the first steps of a most intriguing musician; a true delight that this has been unearthed. (FdW)
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JEDRZEJ SIWEK – LA MER (cassette, private)

If you see ‘La Mer’ and think of Claude Debussy, you succeeded in this little classical music test. It is one of his best-known works, next to ‘Clair de Lune’. ‘La Mer’ is an orchestral piece of music, in three parts, about twenty-four minutes, give or take. Jędrzej Siwek, whom I had not heard, already recorded a version of ‘La Mer’ in 2020, in which he freely worked around the length. The studio version was during the Covid times, so later on, he performed the piece at the Katowice JazzArt Festival on 30 of April of this year, and the recordings are on this cassette. Don’t let the word jazz distract you, nor start with the idea of hearing a version of Debussy’s piece. It is all inspired by the work, and Siwek takes the notion of ‘La Mer’, the sea, quite literally. He uses water sounds or imitations as a starting point for his piece. He performs his music on what I believe to be analogue electronics, a modular set-up in combination with real instruments, even when I find it hard to identify which instruments. Something percussive, no doubt, a kalimba perhaps, heavily processed piano recordings; anything goes here. The result has little to do with modern classical music or even traditional. Still, Siwek is more at home in the work of noise music, without being too loud or wild, but certainly has interesting stretches of loud sounds, sitting to more tranquil moments. As restless as the sea itself is, perhaps, the idea here. The B-side is the quieter side of the piece, but it is quite a tour de force. Debussy’s work wasn’t too well-received when it premiered, and I have no idea how this went down in front of a jazz audience. I certainly enjoyed it! (FdW)
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KOZO INADA & FRANS DE WAARD – UNTITLED (cassette by Temporary Mountain)

The New York-based label temporary mountain is reasonable obscure, as I, with my 30 years in experimental music, hadn’t heard of them before. And that’s quite surprising to me because this release fits my taste like a glove! Yes, I’ll start with how I’m usually ending. This is a great cassette / digital thingy one must have in one’s collection.
    Japanese sound artist Kozo Inada fills the first side. A name I hadn’t heard of before but my oh my… He has two pieces entitled “n[0]” and “n[1]”. The rest of his discography means these two titles should be considered a full release in contradiction of being some work made for a sampler or something. The pieces are well thought of and both very different yet alike. “n[0]” contains beautifully layered ambience and field recordings and has an overall surrealistic sound. Is that applause, or is it a combination of rain and wind? The minimalistic approach to dynamics really makes the different parts of this track come alive. The second track by Inada is likely about the placement of structures in a structureless environment. Repetitive manipulations of layers in a sound composition. So: Why the difficult choice of words? Well, it’s not music for easy listening, even though the result is very open and accessible. You can hear Kozo really tried to make something beautiful here, and it worked. A mesmerizing piece, taking you places you never thought of visiting. Time to dive into the discography of this hidden gem.
    And then the reverse side, a single 20-minute piece by Frans de Waard. Lots of times, you can listen to a track and being a musician, you can analyze a bit how things are done – maybe professional deformation? But more often, with Frans’ work, I cannot do so, which makes his work intriguing. The track is called “~*|0|*~”, which doesn’t reveal anything, but it’s a collection of experiments within the same setting as Kozo. Some heavy use of delays but with different sonic input resulting in a zoviet:france feel at moments and then suddenly more towards something that can be found on the Touch label and then a vibe that would fit a pre-1990 Staalplaat album. The experiments with rhythms in the second part of the track aren’t truly rhythmic in nature, but more, well, again zoviet:France comes to mind but now more the ‘Digilogue’-era. Rhythms that are part of a drone, or maybe that are becoming a drone. Impressive or, as we say in the Netherlands: “Sterk spul”.
    This collaboration has been a thing that had to happen. Frans being a ‘fan’ of Kozo’s work, really wanted to work with him after he (Kozo, not Frans) stopped producing music the normal way and focussed more on installations. That was 2007. They both worked and reworked each others sounds and talked about the content. So they both had sounds to be inspired from and directions in which to think. You would think there would be some recognizable parts here and there, but the result is completely different. (BW)
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This release is a release with 20 years of history behind it. The foundation is an hommage to Pierre Henry Smolders gave to him in 2001, a composition that wasn’t released for the public. Incorporated were snippets of answers Pierre Henry recorded to written questions Jos gave to Pierre Henry in 1995. In 2017 Jos worked on a new suite based on that previous composition. Alas, Pierre Henry died in that year, on July 5th to be exact. Five years later, Jos decided to rerelease the work, as the label that published the cassette is now defunct. Jos is quite familiar with the music of Pierre Henry, having remastered the massive 10-record box Pierre Henry – Choix d’oeuvres 1950 a 1985.
Pierre Henry is with the other Pierre, Pierre Schaeffer, the founding father of musique concrete, making music with recorded sounds as material.
    The first track instantly grabbed my attention, with the sound of something opening up, eerie piano playing, the sounds suspending time, all the while surrounded by grainy metallic sounds. Then after a sustained octave, a sudden shift into the lower depths of the sound spectrum, repeating the small sound bite heard in the beginning. Some pieces have an inherent rhythmical quality because of the sounds used. In the second track, it sounds like distorted rain drops, mimicked by randomly triggered typewriter keys, followed by something of a clock. A deadline coming up? In other tracks, Pierre Henry’s answers are granulated and distorted t create novel sound sources: the word text is slowly turned around accompanied by a different but similar speech nodule morphing text into ‘ketse’. Fantastic stuff! You have to hear it to believe it.
    The stereo sound design and stereo imaging are absolutely brilliant. This kind of music demands a well-thought-out design; otherwise, it’s likely to end up like muddy waters where nothing can be seen unless that’s the intended effect.
    As a rule, digital-only releases are exempt from being reviewed in Vital Weekly, but this one needs to be heard by a broader audience, in my humble opinion. So with HQ’s approval, this release gets a mention in the week’s issue. Furthermore, as this is a homage to the works of Pierre Henry, you could use this release as a diving board into the vast ocean of Pierre Henry’s works. (MDS)
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