Number 1346

THEA LITTLE – HONEST PROCESS (CD by Gold Bolus Recordings) *
BOHNA (compilation CD, cassette, download by Topos)
MANUEL MOTA – HIEME (CD by Headlights) *
MANUEL MOTA – VIA (CD by Headlights) *
MANUEL MOTA – LUX (CD by Headlights) *
PARISA SABET – A CUP OF SINS (CD by RedShift Records) *
JOSEPH PETRIC – SEEN (CD by RedShift Records) *
BUG – MESOSA NEBULOSA (CD by Attenuation Circuit/Art Production) *
TOTAL SWEETHEART – EARLY TO BED (cassette by Dada Drumming)
NIHITI – SUSTAINED (LP by Lo Bit Landscapes) *
PARADOT – ALBUMEN (cassette by Cudighi Records) *
MOTH – LIVE 2006-2008 (cassette by Cudighi Records) *
O.R.D.U.C. – OR DUB (cassette by New Bulwark Records & tapes) *


A long time ago, Adriano Zanni was better known as Punck, but he works under his name on many releases. He’s both active in sound art and photography. His previous release came with a photobook in colour, and now there is a smaller booklet with black and white photos. They are from landscapes, so that begs the question: are these the places where he made his field recordings? The title of the CD translates as ‘observational stories’. I am not sure what the story part is behind the music, as one could say these are also just ‘observations’. A look at a situation, a field and record that. But Zanni is not the sort of composer to take the field as is, but uses the sounds in combination with processed versions thereof and combines these into a piece of music; maybe the combination becomes the story? I would like to think that Zanni’s processing lies entirely in the world of computer processing, even when I am not quite sure why I believe this is the case. I assume I think so based on the nature of the processing (granular synthesis and other kinds of time stretching). Sometimes the sources shine through here, such as the water sounds in ‘A Ravenna, piova’ and ‘A Corte, spiove’, the opening and closing piece here, but in the other pieces, the sources are pretty obscured. Throughout, the music is quite dark and ominous, and while not surprising or different from many others in this field, a most enjoyable release it certainly is. Especially when the field recordings disappear so much in the process, and a melodic touch occurs, such as in the title piece, Zanni proofs to have a voice of his own.
    Behind Dream Weapon Ritual, we find a trio of Monica Serra, Laura Farneto and Simon Balestrazzi. I only recognized the last name, once a member of T.A.C. and still of Daimon. The group has existed as a duo since 2006 with Serra and Balestrazzi, and in 2020 Farneti joined ranks. Instrument-wise, they use “sound objects,[d]Ronin, analog&digital electronics, percussion, tapes, vocals”, and according to the label, they can be seen as part of “Italian Occult Psycedelia”, but also “an equal measure from drone music, from electro-acoustic improvisation and an imaginary folk visionary”. I am not too well versed in the world of “Italian Occult Psycedelia” to say something sensible about that. Still, to my ears, this sounds like improvised music, using a lot of electronic sounds, amplified objects and voices, especially at the beginning of ‘Strata I’. A specific ritualistic aspect is surely part of this, especially when some bell-like sounds are used. I thought ‘Strata II’ was a bit more organized, allowing for some more continuous drone sounds and more organized rhythm parts. The music here is not your traditional campfire ritual music, borrowing just too much from the world of improvisation, but that is the extra selling point for me. It all certainly makes for a very different approach to electro-acoustic music! (FdW)
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THEA LITTLE – HONEST PROCESS (CD by Gold Bolus Recordings)

New York-born Thea Little is a multidisciplinary artist who works as a composer, performer, choreographer and director, often combining dance and experimental music in her projects. Her works have been presented throughout the US and Europe. ‘Honest Process’ is her latest work and the first to be released on CD. Everything is conceived, composed and directed by Little. The work was performed at National Sawdust in Brooklyn in 2019. “Thea acted as composer, choreographer, dancer, and vocalist and was joined by collaborators Katie Norton-Bliss and Lea Torelli, who also performed movement and vocalizations live. The performers’ sounds are part of a performance system developed by Thea called “Character Capsules”. We have to miss the visual part of the project, but the music and sound are also worthwhile. A sequence of 17 short ‘songs’ consisting of very stripped-down electronics and (non-)verbal singing by the three performers, Katie Norton-Bliss, Lea Torelli, and Little herself. The vocals sound natural with some manipulation and processing at moments. The processing is more extreme and intense in a song like ‘Dictator Knitting’ or ‘Speed Capsules’. ‘Healing’ is, above all, an electronic piece and most close to what we conventionally perceive as music. In a piece like ‘Grief’, the sounds of their body movements dominate and offer a minimalistic soundscape with some sounds from the audience in the background. The interaction between vocals is very well recorded, thanks to the vocal processing system designed by Brain McCorkle. From what we have on cd, the work comes to us as an abstract but lively and engaging work. What is the work about? “Thea Little and collaborators excavate and reinvent ideas of ego, commercialism, and narcissism toward collective ambition, vulnerability, and the wise self. Within a western capitalist culture that carries the pressure of being constantly happy, productive, and successful, ‘Honest Process’ explores the opposing ideas of self-assured wisdom, internal success, and healing the self with embodied intuitive wisdom.”
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Army of Briars is a collaboration of Julie Cole (voice), Tim Cole (voice, guitars, songwriter), Martin Archer (woodwinds, keyboards, electronics) and Keith Jafrate (lyrics). Archer needs no introduction, but Jafrate is new to me. He is a saxophonist and poet who worked in the 90s as a member of the jazz-poetry trio Sang, followed by Orfeo in 2002. Later, he led his jazz quintet Urburo. From what I can trace, he is mainly working as a poet nowadays. Julie and Tim Cole have operated as folk-duo The Coles already for many years, performing traditional folk and their folk songs, accompanying their vocals with guitars, cello and tin whistle. In 2005 they started working with Martin Archer (woodwinds, keyboards, electronics) and Keith Jafrate (lyrics); this opened a new chapter for the Coles. From this grew the Army of Briars project. In 2007 they were ready for their first release. In one way or another, they kept the fire burning over the years, and now they release their follow-up. Again with lyrics by Keith Jafrate. And likewise, folk is combined with elements of jazz and progressive music. As on her first statement, they are helped out by a few guests. This time Paul Taylor (grand piano). Peter Sells (bass guitar), Martin Pyne (drums, percussion, vibraphone) and a string section contribute. I do not know about developments in folk music in England, but I can imagine this is a perfect example of music that is 100% folk-rooted but at the same time open to other influences. Elements of jazz and prog that they integrate work as an extension of their ‘folk music. Songs are intelligently structured and a bit experimental. Archer took care of nice arrangements and instrumentation. An album of positive music. Warm sound and nice harmonies. Very enjoyable! (DM)
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The Japanese label Ftarri releases music that they recorded in their shop/studio, as well as works from abroad. I started with the two releases from Europe/USA for no particular reason. The first is a duet for two bass clarinets, as performed by Lucio Capece and Katie Porter. They “met over the internet almost every Tuesday for one year, composing two pieces, rehearsing, talking about their lives, and recording”. Porter in Park City, Utah and Capece in Berlin. Although not mentioned, I assume each player recorded their part at home and then the two were joined. The music here is very minimal, as more or less already expected. Throughout the two play small notes are followed by short silences. It is easy to see that rehearsing paid off here. Also, it is easy to see that both are composed of pieces of music. It is all very meditative and moody music. This is because of the nature of the instrument, always in the lower regions, as well as the slow playing of the two musicians. Of the two pieces, the second, Phase To Phase 2′, is the one that is stricter to the rules, more controlled (perhaps) and has a slightly more brutal approach. ‘Phase To Phase 1’ seems to be an easier piece, both in tonal quality and as a somewhat sweeter approach to the interaction between the two players. Highly captivating music here!
    Also, a duo is And/In, Amsterdam and Berlin-based Heather Frasch and Koen Nutters. In 2021 they performed a piece by the same as their duo as part of the Wandelweiser Klangraum week. A piece involving music with objects, text and vibrations, shadows and light, audible and inaudible movement, air, liquids and solids. In terms of instruments, this means Nutters on acoustic guitar and Frasch on objects, flute and voice. They performed variations of this piece every day and invited others to play along, so we also have Antoine Beuger, Joep Dorren, Lukas Huber, Lörinc Muntag and Steven Vinkenoog, Frederik Donche, Eva-Maria Houben, Sanae Kagaya and Marianne Schuppe adding flute, voice, vibraphone, violin, electric guitar, piano, harmonium and voices. In this piece, there is also another piece, ‘Song For Angela Davies’ by Nutters. This version was recorded on the last day with all the participants and towards the end of the performance. The last forty minutes and it all sounds quite mysterious. The music is tranquil, moving the more objects-based first half to the more instrumental-based second half. A microphone picks up the music, and maybe I am wrong, but I can imagine some of the players move around, so there is some distance at times within the music. Maybe recorded in an open space, a garden perhaps. Notes drop in and out; there is seemingly no order but, maybe, also not chaos. Each player seems to be doing something, and somehow it all fits.
    The Japanese part of this new batch sees two live recordings from 2021. On March 17, Tetuzi Akiyama (electric guitar), Ayako Kataoka (turntable, electronics, voice) and Kiyomitsu Odai (computer) played two sets, both on this CD. Akiyama is a well-known improviser, usually of the more quiet variety. The other two new names for me. Kataoka studied with Pauline Oliveros and Maggi Payne, and Odai with Clarence Barlow and Curtis Roads, among others. For Ftarri, this is quite an unusual release. For a long time, I thought their interest was sole in quiet music but in recent years, that turned out to be not true. This trio recording is also far from soft music. It is, in fact, quite noisy. I don’t think I heard something this noisy that involved Akiyama. On the other hand, his contribution is also, at times, quiet. At least I believe he is responsible for some of the feedback here. Having said that, these two pieces aren’t exclusively about noise, far from it. This trio plays around with dynamics, going from extreme silence to quite a noise force. The guitar is, in a few instances, a guitar, but throughout much of this is very abstract, which is hardly a surprise. I quite enjoyed the dialogue between the players and their interaction. I have no idea if Odai is involved in any live processing, but I found this an excellent electro-acoustic improvisation.
    On September 23, 2021, another trio played at Ftarri. Wakana Ikeda (harmonica), Takuro Okada (acoustic guitar) and Takashi Masubuchi (acoustic guitar). All three are players whose work we heard before, mostly on the Ftarri label. Now, this is more like the Ftarri releases we know. The harmonica plays the leading role here, which is not a strange thing, given the fact that the sound is so distinctly different. Ikeda plays short sustaining phrases while the two guitarists play small sounds. Later on, I believe they use an ebow to play more sustaining phrases on the strings. Nothing too repeating, moving around quite a bit, and yet there is still quite a meditative feeling to this music. There isn’t much in terms of ‘organisation’ in this piece (I believe the thirty-one minutes covers the entire concert), but even when this is all improvisation, this is all very well; it is all very relaxing music that works best on a quiet level. The mastering is already quite soft, but it worked even better for me. (FdW)
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BONHA (compilation CD, cassette, download by Topos)

A war is going on, and it’s not a pretty one to watch; it never is. One of the largest countries in the world has a leader, and this leader has chosen war and occupation. Most of the world is following the story like the biblical one of David and Goliath, and we’re all hoping David will once again win. And at that exact moment, there is that realization that you sometimes talk badly about ‘Russia’ and ‘Russians’ while all you want to do is express your disgust about the actions of Putin and his fellow instigators of this war.
    Here we have a release with only Russian artists expressing their disgust about the war and the one who started it. So yes, fellow Russians have their hearts in the right spot and are expressing their emotions and opinions on Putin’s invasion – NOT a Russian invasion. And with everything we know, each of these artists is a bold and brave move.
    The CD/cassette/download has been made possible by the Danish Topos label, founded by none other than Jacob Kirkegaard, Tobias R. Kirstein and Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard. So yes, the music found on this sampler is of high quality because, well, with curators like this, you can expect it, right? But having said that, it’s about the subject that makes it an honest, open, and emotional release.
    I’m not going into all the artist’s submissions. I could mention a few names on this release (Kryptogen Rundfunk, Majdanek Waltz, Tchernoblyad and Sal Solaris, for example), but that also doesn’t do it. Maybe a bit of an indication in styles would add to the review, so yes, it’s heavy as f***, has some really intrusive moments, uses samples in Russian, is experimental in nature, desperate at moments and suddenly furious… But what’s more important, this is a message to the world. And I never just copy-paste info-sheets, but this time I will. Because it will give you more reasons to buy this honest, brutal and at the same time beautiful release. (BW)
    “This is a collective manifesto by Russian artists from the underground experimental & noise scene, speaking up against Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. These actions incredibly hurt us, and ashamed of the villainous crimes committed by our country. While we don’t have the power to stop the war, we can use our music to express our disgust for what is happening and the pain we feel for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. This music is our message to them and the world.”
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There was a time that I wrote a lot about Minamo, but that was a few hundred weeklies ago. In 1999, Keiichi Sugimoto and Tetsuro Yasunaga started the group, and in 2001, Minamo became a quartet, adding Yuiichiro Iwashita (guitar) and Namiko Sasamoto (sax, organ) to the line-up. I understand they are now a duo again. Even when I wrote about them a long time ago, I don’t think I heard all their releases. These came on such imprints as 12K, Cubic Music, Apestaartje, Room40 and such like, let’s say, the high-quality end of mood music labels. Between 2011 and 2020, there were no new releases, and since they did an LP with Moskitoo, a CD for 901 Editions and now this collaboration with Asuna, Japanese wunderkind of small keyboards and Casio enthusiast. The six pieces were recorded in a single day, late January 2021 and one track have guest vocals by Rieko Seizo. Shamefully I must admit that I have not much recollection of Minamo’s older work; so much time has passed. But playing this new CD reminded me of the highly melodic touches in the world of ambient music. I am sure there is some processing, laptop technology and electronics in play here, but as soon as the guitars start to tinkle, there is that trusted folktronica sound that makes this music stand out from many of their laptop peers, both now and then. As far as I remember, the only other group with similar results was the Swedish trio Tape; but I admit I am no longer connected that much. There are no instruments mentioned, so I have no idea how the duties are divided on this record. I think that Asuna is the man behind the keyboards (toys, Casio’s, organs, anything, really), while Minamo is also handling keyboards, synthesizers, a piano, guitars, field recordings and those gentle processed sounds that tinkle in the background. Mood music for sure, but this is not very dark. I think of this as early morning music when the sun is just up; there is a hazy breezy air, not too hot, not too cold, but just the right late spring temperature, and you awake from your sleep, sung to life again with these gentle drones and tones. You wake up feeling refreshed, and with the vocals in the last track, it’s time to start the day. Great stuff! (FdW)
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With a name such as Alone, you could think it’s a one-man band or someone who likes to be alone, isolated from others. But Nikola Vitkovic wants to be self-contained, free from others, perhaps, a bit different. Originally Alone started in 1994 in Belgrade but is now a solo project. He describes it as a “mini-maximalist sci-fi electronica project”, and to that end, he uses synthesisers, sequencers, drum machines and vocals. This is not really music one finds in Vital weekly that much. There is undoubtedly a pop music aspect to the music, from a very 80s new wave perspective. Think a bit early Mute Records; pop but darkish. But then not as dark as some of the later dark wave music; Alone isn’t that gothic. Most of the time, the voice is clear and audible in the mix and doesn’t come with many effects. In the 80s, this would have been released on a cassette. Some of the tracks are just a bit too long, with lengthy instrumental parts to fully hold the listener’s attention, which is a clear sign that we are not dealing with pop music here. That, of course, has its own charm, and I enjoyed this release quite a bit. Alone deals with some pleasant melodic stuff, has a fine ear when it comes to programming sequences and rhythms and has quite a bit of variation. Eleven tracks in seventy minutes is a bit much, indeed, but on a slow summer’s day, this works very well for me. No need to get up and do something. Let the music play and enjoy the stream of wacky melodic content, and with a track like ‘Metrics Are Obsolete’ where you think, ‘hold on, this sounds familiar, is it a cover’, you have something with nice to think about while tapping your finger. Great paper sleeve to top it off, and this is a mighty fine product. (FdW)
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MANUEL MOTA – HIEME (CD by Headlights)
MANUEL MOTA – VIA (CD by Headlights)
MANUEL MOTA – LUX (CD by Headlights)

In a short letter that came along in the parcel, Mota apologizes for mailing three CDs, but all of these projects were ready, and he wanted them to be released; why not? All three CDs are released in an edition of 100 copies, and none of these has a lot of information. Or, rather, no information that is for a reviewer handy, to distinguish one from the other. ‘Via’ is recorded in Antwerp en Ericeira, while the other was recorded in just that last city and the ‘Heime’ is from Spring 2022, ‘Via’ from May and June 2022, while ‘Lux’ is a live (?) recording from June 11, 2022. I listened to these in chronological order. There are some interesting differences between the three. What is, more or less, the same is the overall length of each release, thirty-six or a bit more minutes. ‘Hieme’ has three pieces, ‘Via’ eleven and ‘Lux’ has one piece; that last one more or less confirms the idea that this is a live recording.
    Regarding guitar playing, ‘Lux’ is the most conventional release. But conventional as in Mota-conventional. Here he has his usual style of plucking note after note, with small silence gaps.
There is a bit of reverb, but not as much as on the other releases here. There is, so it seems, not an order in plucking these notes, just a steady pace of raindrops falling down, one by one. Steady, not as in a sequenced rhythm form, as not always the lengths are similar. Music without much direction but undoubtedly melancholic. ‘Via’ is on the other end of the spectrum here. In the short pieces here, the reverb seems to play a most important role, and at times it seems as if the whole notion of the guitar disappears. This happens throughout the disc. At the start, things are still relatively normal, Mota-like guitar playing, but it quickly becomes very alien. It seems as if Mota wants to make the guitar disappear, and only a ghostly presence remains. In the sixth track (no titles), we just hear humming, as if the guitar and amplifier are buried six feet under. Because I played this one in the middle, and ‘Hieme’ is a sort of companion release of ‘Lux’, style-wise, this one makes up for a nice change Manuel Mota offering something truly out of the box here, and yet also enough inside the box, so you’d easily recognize this (most of the time at least) as music by Mota. ‘Hieme’, as said, is a continuation of ‘Lux’, or vice versa, in which Mota plays the guitar the way he does, but with a bit more reverb, so there is more suggestion of space and atmospherics. Here Mota rolls around his sound with a slightly more metallic ring. I think that of these three new releases, this is the one that is the most difficult, but I couldn’t pinpoint one or more particular reasons why that is. Manual Mota continues to surprise and satisfy! (FdW)
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As I am back home and looking at a considerable amount of releases waiting for a review, I picked the one by Alessandro Sgobbio to start this journey. Not because I know the man, not at all, but simply because the title is piano music. I love piano music, especially if it is atmospherical. Sgobbio, a trainer player and composer, who is also the leader of ensembles such as Silent Fires and Hitra, and bands such as Periscopes, Debra’s Dream and Charm, is from the world of jazz. That is something I read in the information and not deducted from the music. The music here is melodic and atmospheric but not always quiet and reflective. Maybe jazz-inspired? I don’t know. The music reminds me of Wim Mertens’ solo piano music and some of Simeon Ten Holt. Sgobbio shares their lyricism, yet it is not as minimal or extended. At other times I found Sgobbio’s quite sugary and sweet, almost hinting towards a sort of new age-like playing, and I can see a vast audience being happy receptors of this kind of melodic playing. Maybe I am wrong here, but experimentalism is not a word that applies to the music of Sgobbio. Of course, that is not a problem. It’s Sunday morning, I am tired and want to be entertained, and this is the one for such a thing. (FdW)
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PARISA SABET – A CUP OF SINS (CD by RedShift Records)
JOSEPH PETRIC – SEEN (CD by RedShift Records)

More and more, there is a shift towards modern classical music, free jazz and improvisation, which I regret. Not because I don’t like this kind of music, but rather because I think Vital Weekly is not the right place to discuss such music. We simply don’t know much about it, and we can’t serve the music all too well. These are two examples. Parisa Sabet is from an Iranian-Canadian background, and this is her debut release. She has a master’s and doctorate in composition, and on ‘A Cup Of Sin’, we have six pieces of her music. A small ensemble performs the music. We have a piano, flute, clarinet, violin/viola, cello and electric guitar. Jacqueline Wooley is the soprano, and this work is heavily based on the voice. Sometimes this voice is very opera-like, which is certainly something not for me. But I enjoy what I hear when it is more a narrative (in ‘Maku’) or instrumental music. The music is sometimes quite dramatic, mainly thanks to the voice, but in some ways, it also sounds quite traditional, but that’s the ignorance talking.
    On the same label is a work by Joseph Petric, who plays the accordion and uses electronics to alter his sound. Now, you could quickly think that this is something very much up our alley, but I must say I am not too overwhelmed by this. Maybe because I believe it is very much in the world of improvisation and perhaps because electronics don’t play such a big role. Petric performs works by David Jaeger (but Petric gets a composing credit), Norbert Palej, Robert May, Peter Hatch, Eric Ross and Torbjörn Lundquist. I enjoyed Ross’ ‘Leviathan’ best. Here accordion and electronics blend in a great way, and the result is, at times, an intense piece of music. Otherwise, I played the CD with interest, liked some of it, and some I didn’t. What else can I say? (FdW)
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BUG – MESOSA NEBULOSA (CD by Attenuation Circuit/Art Production)

‘Graubindiger Augenfleckenbock’ would certainly not have been a good title for a free music release. Though the title might invoke associations of ‘mist’, ‘fog’, ‘nebulous-ness’, this is far from what it actually means. Instead, MN is a bug living across Europe, feeding on decaying plant matter and not especially noteworthy, apart from being on the brink of extinction in some regions. But it does look interesting.
    Why Andreas Glauser and Christian Bucher – who have been working together as BUG for over two decades – chose this name is a bit, well, nebulous. BUG obviously is an acronym made of their family names – nevertheless, it can apparently also be used for building associative connections. Christian Bucher is no unknown. A Swiss drummer, he regularly plays and publishes with Rick Countryman, a former businessman who is now a full-time saxophone jazz musician in the Philippines. This could hardly be further away from what Attenuation Circuit stand for. Glauser, on the slight contrary, is an electronics/abstract/minimal musician with established links to AC. The two musicians have played together for many years, creating ‘free music’ (termed ‘instant composing’ here), BUG has now found its way onto this label.
    Be aware, though, that this is not a typical Attenuation release. It very much lives from the tension between Bucher percussion – very much dominated by cymbals and the ‘upper’ parts of a drum set – and quite sparse, minimal synth sounds. These could actually not be synths at all but ‘just’ wave modulators. The effect is intriguing. Both musicians obviously respond to each other, albeit the instruments and approaches could hardly be more different. But then, what to expect after joining forces for so long … 13 tracks – all fittingly named after insects – take the listener through a new set of soundscapes that traverses jazz, free music, and minimal noise/electronics. An astounding release. (RSW)
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TOTAL SWEETHEART – EARLY TO BED (cassette by Dada Drumming)

Seeing this is the debut release of Carlos Pozo, I can safely say I heard not of the man before; but also not as part of a group of some kind. In recent years, I read several dystopian novels, watched movies and thought about the whole idea concerning much of the music I write about. Perhaps it is some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy? To listen to music and think of that concerning a movie I saw the other day? Is there such a thing as dystopian music? Pozo provided no answer, not that I requested one from him anyway. But his use of “analogue and digital sources”, resulting in “a subtly hallucinatory audio landscape of eerie drones, metallic clangs and distant bass eruptions”, would certainly fit the idea of  a dystopian soundtrack. It is easy to see post-apocalyptic scenery, melted nuclear reactors, similar tower blocks and dictatorship (I know this could apply to some parts of the current world, but who am I to argue we are not already in a dystopian world?) and have this as the music on the soundtrack. Pozo does an excellent job. His four pieces are slightly amorphous, with parts unconnected connected. With a derelict, burned-out piano notes here, a bass, a drone and some heavily treated field recording. Pozo’s music isn’t your static drone, but within a piece, he effortlessly moves from one main section to the next, using dynamics to change the scenery. Perhaps as such, Pozo doesn’t do anything that you never heard of before, but in terms of depth, production, detail and variation, he created a most remarkable debut and let’s hope there is more to enjoy from him soon.
    Then, on cassette, music from Nathan Golub and Ryan Jones. The first is the founder of Ascites and currently a member of Black Leather Jesus, and the latter is ex-Struggle Session. I had not heard music from the two before. According to the information, they use “medical equipment, eurorack modules and classic American pedal abuse”, whatever the latter is. They record their music in one take and combine it so that there is a single piece on either side. If I were told that this was a straightforward live recording of one session, I would also believe this. With the background of these musicians, it is not strange that we have sixty minutes of noise music to digest. Maybe it is the medium of the cassette that tones it down. Perhaps the hot weather made me not use full force volume and some fatigue to change the music, but the more I heard, the more I got into this. An endless stream of cascading noises is both chaotic and minimal. The chaos is constantly the same thing, and that is the beauty of it, I guess. Not your typical harsh noise wall release, but noise it indeed is. As I said last week, I love a bit of noise, and this is the one for this week; and I should take that early to bed as a suggestion! (FdW)
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NIHITI – SUSTAINED (LP by Lo Bit Landscapes)

As far as I can see, Nihiti is a name I had not yet encountered before. I have no idea if this is a band or a one-person guitar army loaded with sound effects. This new record has something to do with a festival, ‘Sustain-Release’, in the USA, for which the music was commissioned. The first side is entirely covered with a piece called ‘Stellar Observer’. Here Nihiti shows their love for Stars Of The Lid’s guitar, effects and ambient music approach. Slow, glacial music, moving and changing minimally. Music that brings the images of hot, empty deserts (maybe in my imagination because of the crazy heat here? Would that have been different if I heard this mid-winter? I don’t know!). The slowness of the music works pleasantly well with these weather conditions. It is like sitting on the beach, watching the sea wash ashore, nice and quiet. On the other side, we find two pieces, of which ‘Tetrachrome’ is a slow but heavy burner. Here, I believe the effects are to be found in the laptop, creating a computer-heavy atmosphere of dark drones crashing into each other. A bit longer is ‘If The Color’, for which Viktor Timofeev plays the guitar as well, and we return to the slow and moody end of the music, with whispering voices and a repeated melodica loop; Americana but one with a fine, very different edge to it. Also, not exactly the kind of tropical music, but sit quiet, do nothing, well, yes, this could be its soundtrack nonetheless. (FdW)
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Despite quite an extensive discography of releases, mainly on cassette and some CDs, I had not yet heard of Zach Rowden. He plays upright/electric bass and violin. ‘When The Gloss Is Removed’ is the first release on vinyl and contains one piece per side. According to the information, Rowden plays double bass and tapes on this record. I am unsure if tapes mean tape-loops or if he has some pre-recorded tapes. On ‘To The Height Of A Cathedral’, I could believe it is both, along with some real-time playing. ‘Don’t Use Up All Your Good Ones’ seems more oriented towards the loops. In both pieces, Rowden goes for quite the massive sound approach. Sounds that are ‘close’ together, but also a bit different and layered and have a beautiful acoustic drone quality. In ‘To The Height Of A Cathedral’, the music slowly gets sparser and sparser, sounds removed, clarity coming in, and a solo bass at the end. Rowden likes his music to have a somewhat unstable character, which works quite well. The acoustic drone approach is not something one often hears, making this quite a great piece of music.
    As said, ‘Don’t Use Up All Your Good Ones’ seems to dwell on reel-to-reel loops, and it’s not always clear that this is a bass; there are also looped voices here. Throughout this piece, there is a sense of decay here. It is a slightly more brutal sound approach here, with minimal and mechanical loops, sometimes going on a bit too long, but it adds to the somewhat industrial quality of the music of this piece. Rowden moves through a set of sounds that includes voices but is less easy to define. Both pieces are very consistent in approach, making me curious to hear more about this composer.(FdW)
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PARADOT – ALBUMEN (cassette by Cudighi Records)
MOTH – LIVE 2006-2008 (cassette by Cudighi Records)

Three cassette releases by Cudighi Records, of whom I reviewed a bundle of three before (see Vital Weekly 1297). Here again, I have no idea who these musicians are, so I randomly picked the one by Paradot to start. This duo is Emilía Turner and Jodoli, working together since 2017 and, apparently, with a visual component, which is not present on the cassette. They work with modular synthesisers, drum machines, and samplers and have two previous releases. Their influences reach from Severed Heads to Warp/Rephlex, Black Dice and Pan Sonic. That all sounds quite promising, and Paradot doesn’t disappoint. All their inspirational musicians are to be found in their music, but Paradot marks a difference. Maybe because they mash and mix styles, it is never one thing or another. Paradot has seven pieces of music, held together by the drum machine, but around that, there is an acceptable state of decay and transformation. Melodies are waved in relatively unstable, in fine IDM mode, but Paradot’s equipment seems less refined, and their beats are not always aiming for the dance floor. ‘Deviled Eye’ is slow and nasty, ripping and pounding. For each of their influences, there seems to be a song; from ‘CNS Satirway’, Black Dice-inspired, to ‘Factory Raptor’ and ‘Mirror Rip’, Pan Sonic styled, to the more generic would-be broken dance beats of Warp acts. Maybe a bit too short for my taste, as it left me wanting more!
    Rhythm is also a component of the music by the Finnish duo Tatu Metsätähti and Olli Hänninen, but from a slightly different perspective. On the cover of this release, there is a long list of equipment they used for this cassette, some of which I Googled while listening to the music (professional curiosity, I assume), which is an exciting collection of artefacts from the world of modular electronics. Cheap stompboxes are next to more sophisticated machines, which this duo, whom I had not heard before, freely use and abuse. There seems to be less organisation within this music compared to the Paradot release. Seeing this was recorded over the space of two days, I can imagine that these were some intensive sessions, of which the seven pieces are excerpts/edits of the best results. At times these electronics are quite crude, which is, so I believe, the music’s intention. They want this to be slightly brutal, a bit chaotic, and noisy but at the same time also have some markers points to guide the listener, i.e. rhythms. None of these rhythms is there to make you dance, though. The second side contains the side-long ‘Deep Finlandia’, where this duo wants to show another side of their work, a more reflective sound, if you will, with a bit of brutal droning that hums neatly away. Unleash the beast!
    And for now, something completely different. Moth is a duo of Sam Hillmer on saxophone and Ben Gerstein on trombone. Between 2006 and 2008, they did a couple of gigs, highlights of which are to be found on this cassette. At sixty or so minutes, quite an extended release, given the somewhat radical nature of their improvisations. Both instruments are easily recognised, and I think they don’t apply extended techniques. I am not that well-versed in free improvisation to say something sensible, such as ‘sounds like’. There is a delicate dialogue between the two players, interaction if you will, leaving room for the other, and their music goes into chaos, reflection, minimalism, brutalism and introspection. Sometimes they leap from one to another in one short track, which also adds to the fact that this is not easily digested. However, following the two heavy-weight electronic releases from this label, it is worthwhile to chill out with these improvisational duets. But, as said, perhaps a bit too long, at least for me. (FdW)
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O.R.D.U.C. – OR DUB (cassette by New Bulwark Records & tapes)

Ha! A recent small flood of new work by O.R.D.U.C., my favourite Dutch electronic outsiders, has been going strong for over forty years. Nico Selen, O.R.D.U.C.’s mastermind, is constantly thinking about new ways to rework his old tunes, almost as a form of continuous recycling. Do not expect some heavy dub-style music here; O.R.D.U.C. is not going reggae style. But the idea behind dub music is to take a few elements (in dub, the bass and drums), add new sounds and effects, and create a new piece of music. Dub music is a form of recycling, and that’s what O.R.D.U.C. does here. Sounds recorded forty or more years ago are re-shaped into new songs. In the case of O.R.D.U.C., this approach leads to exciting and surprising results. In much of O.R.D.U.C.’s music, there is an element of electronic pop music, but in the ten pieces on ‘Or Dub’, this is not so much the case. The music is spacier than it usually is, stripped down and as such, O.R.D.U.C.’s very unique take on the notion of dub music. This time around, the music is heavy on the rhythms and the synthesizers, but O.R.D.U.C. also applies reverb and delay effects, another trademark of dub music. This constant re-shaping of music is something I enjoy quite a bit, and I can see more roads to explore, and this all fits the world of cassette releases very well.  This cassette is available in a limited edition of twenty-five copies, with a professionally printed cover and hand-stamped labels. That’s what I also like about this; the combination of the professional and the amateur. (FdW)
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Sigmar Fricke is a name we don’t see too often, which is a shame. He is an artist who resides between musique concrete and post-industrial with an impressive footprint in the early days of the cassette culture. At least, that is where I recognized his name from after I was introduced to him musically by fellow Dutchman Land Use. Bestattungsinstitut is one of the projects he was most active in within the 80s and 90s, while nowadays it’s mostly the highly experimental Pharmakustik.
    In ’93, he released “Posthumous Cremation” tape on Drahtfunk Products, the label from Klaus Jochim, who we remember from the highly active project Telepherique. “Alkaline Hydrolysis” – yet another method of discarding the body of a deceased person – is a rework of this almost 30-year-old tape. Fricke uses tape loops which he combines with added (modular) synth sounds, field recordings and heavy manipulation of mentioned sounds.
    The result is two 30 minutes pieces of sonic bliss, a combination of drone, experimental ambience and minimalistic noise. It might not be something one would expect to be released nowadays because the glory days of ‘cinematic isolationism’ are behind us. Yet it proves my point that there absolutely is a market for this kind of music because GOOD music is timeless.
    Listening to these tracks brings you into another dimension. There aren’t many albums that have had this effect on me, but one of them is T.A.G.C.’s “Burning Water”, even though that one has a much more minimalistic approach by choice of sounds. Transdimensional Ambience … Is there such a thing? “Alkaline Hydrolysis” sort of dictates there should be: The exchange of the temporary for the endless, from the body into dust, from silence to sound, or maybe the other way around. This is one beautiful release, as timeless as death itself. (BW)
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