Number 1357

SARAH BERNSTEIN – VEER QUARTET (CD by Panoramic/New Focus Recordings) *
ROLAND SCHAPPERT – ROUTE 2 (2LP by R-ecords) *
YELLOW6 – A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER (CDR by Sound in Silence) *
STUDIO PANDELIS DIAMANTIDES –  Παλμός / Palmós (video art by Sedition)


This week’s Bruno Duplant release is a collaboration with US artist Seth Nehil. I haven’t heard from him since reviewing his ‘Bounds’ release (Vital Weekly 972). I wrote words to the same effect, last heard etc. Nehil works with found objects, instruments, old records, reel-to-reel machines, discarded magnetic tape and such. To team up with the highly prolific Bruno Duplant, whom I don’t know that much (especially regarding his techniques). Curiously, on Bandcamp, it says, “The sound materials of “the memory of things” appear to emerge from a time that does not exist, or has yet to exist”, but not what these materials are. The way I hear these “materials” is as the usual lo-fi sound material, recorded on old and eroded magnetic tape. Unlike some of Duplant’s solo work, the result is less drone-based. The drone-like textures are there, of course they are, but there are a lot smaller sounds in the equation. Bell-like, chirping, whooshing and washing, field recordings and such like. It gives the music a more organic approach or perhaps an earthy feeling. As if the two men recorded dirt, sand, mud and water and somehow went on a trail to process these. Everything appears in a rather free flow, with sounds moving in, out, and about in the mix. Some clatter here and there, returning later on but reversed. The electronic process guarantees that organ-like sound that keeps popping up; never too long, never short. What these memories of things remain a mystery. I am unsure if I would like to know more or if I would rather have the mystery. I’d say the latter is excellent for me. Nehil and Duplant have a lot of mystery in this music, and one is free to find whatever one wants. And I assume it would be different for everyone. A true soundtrack for the ears. Music along the lines of the lo-fi scene, but with a lot of clarity and depth, a deviation from the regular routines, is great. (FdW)
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Until recently, Norway’s Sofa Music used artwork designed by Rutger Zuydervelt. He created an overall feel for the label. Now it’s Stephen Malley’s turn, and these three new releases also have a similar design. I can almost imagine these as a series. But that might also be because I can hear some connections in the music. Sofa Music’s releases are always on the minimal side of things and from a new musical perspective. Before I committed any words to review, I heard them all, which is not always how I work. I started with Jan Martin Smørda and Øystein Wyller Odden, both of whom I don’t think I have heard before. Because I find it hard to summarize what these two pieces are about, I quote: “Kraftbalanse is a musical translation of the hum from the mains, i.e., the frequency of the alternating current. The piece is based on the instability of the frequency, and it fluctuates subtly around 50 Hz because of supply and demand in the power market. The composition consists of a self-resonating piano tuned to resonate at 50 Hz”. Along with the piano, there is a string octet (four violins, two violas, a cello and a double bass). I played this CD without any idea what to expect, and I must admit it blew me away. I am that sucker for all things drone-like, and I don’t care that much if these drones arrive from the world of electronics or a bunch of strings and a resonating piano; oh, and mains, of course. Slow and majestically, these two versions flow gently yet forcefully present. In the first piece, ’17:40:15 – 18:02:15 GMT + 02:00 DST, 2019.06.01′ somewhat works the lower end of the sound spectrum, and in ’18:29:05 – 18:51:22 GMT + 02:00 DST, 2019.06.01′ (which is a recording that started twenty-seven minutes after the first one, so it seems) is a tad lighter in the same spectrum. Maybe it was a continuous recording that skips a bit in the middle; the transition is abrupt. A long CD, seventy-two minutes, but I wouldn’t have minded a continuous version spanning several hours (and, yes, I admit that I may not have enough time to hear it properly, such is the work of the reviewer, but just the idea of a prolonged version is excellent). It’s modern classical, and minimal, the perfect showcase for a Sofa Music release.
    The next one is also similar to new music and minimalism, with the playing of the trombone and euphonium (also known as the tenor tuba). I don’t think I heard of playing by Barbier before, who has collaborated with Sarah Davachi, Jacob Kirkegaard, Kevin Drumm, Kaori Suzuki and others. There are five pieces on ‘Threads’, which were all recorded in the midst of the Covid lockdown at The Tank Center for Sonic arts. Which is what it is, a repurposed water tank. Barbier uses the space very well. While the two instruments might not be the most straightforward choices for solo playing, the area in which they sound has a different dimension. It’s a hollow space which fills with sound and is cleverly used to either be entirely massive or controlled empty. I prefer Barbier’s later approach more than the variety in which the space is filled. In ‘Untitled I’, there is a great feeling of emptiness, with sounds bubbling from below, rising and dying out in their natural reverb. ‘Filter’ reminded me very much of ‘Fogtropes’ by Ingram Marshall, those lonely sounds at night over an empty harbour. Easily the best piece of the five, but ‘Untitled III’ has a similar quality; a fine runner-up. In ‘Coda’ and ‘Floating Wave’, the emptiness is less present, especially in the latter Barbier fills every nook and cranny. These are fine pieces, too; the minimalism of a different kind of course, and all five show the versatility of Barbier as an artist.
    Ingar Zach may need no introduction, as his work has been reviewed before. ‘Music Liquida’ is his seventh solo album, and it is part of The Vibrating Drum project. The focus is on the membrane’s vibration, activated by vibrating speakers in contact with the drumskin. The three pieces were recorded at Emanuel Vigeland’s Mausoleum in Oslo. Music that deals with acoustic phenomena and of which the results sound great. Zach uses percussion, vibrating speakers on the snare drum, timpani and the Gran Cassa (the bass drum). Here too, we are served some excellent minimalist music, but now from a slightly more improvised angle. Or, perhaps, from a more investigative approach? Each of the three pieces is a massive resonating piece of music, in which Zach waves together the uber-drone but also rotates his speakers over the drum heads, giving a beating or percussive feel to the music. On ‘Mercurio’, some sharpish sounds remind me of the accordion, but since it is not, I would guess, maybe, feedback of some kind. There is certainly a melodic aspect to the music. In ‘Increspature Su Un Lago’ I could have sworn to hear some field recordings, along with solitary bangs on drum sounds, sitting alongside delicate drones. In ‘Vapore’, Zach uses the contrasting of small sounds (music box, perhaps?) against the massive drone of howling feedback. This piece is probably the heaviest of all three, but it is, anyway, not the easiest music. The intensity of it all, next to the sheer violent acoustic quality, is all the same and very well spent on me, and I think this is a great release. (FdW)
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SARAH BERNSTEIN – VEER QUARTET (CD by Panoramic/New Focus Recordings)
Panoramic is a sort of sub-label of New Focus, independent in nature, but managed by the same Daniel Hippel, who is also one of the masterminds behind NFR – though, by definition, this is an artist-run, collective enterprise. The difference between Panoramic Recordings and NFR is not quite clear, and the web pages give no hints. PR is definitely more open to Jazz recordings but does not limit itself to this, including chamber music and electronics.
Sarah Bernstein is a violinist and composer and presents the first recordings of her new quartet, VEER. It is strange to see her listed as the main artist and the ensemble as the release title. However, she will have her reasons. The CD contains six tracks, all presented in the traditional classical string quartet fashion but definitely challenging the line between jazz and classical music.
    The first track, ‘Frames No.1’, starts with a few folk-ish notes, then adds a plucking jazz bass, and quickly morphs into a gipsy swing-ish melody. ‘ish’ because the piece never takes one or the other approach, mixing all three elements with some contemporary classical phrases. ‘Veering’, as the name says. ‘News Cycle Progression’ sounds more like the modern classical style, taking more from modern composers than jazz – actually not jazz at all and a slower pace. ‘Clay Myth’ takes it even slower and presents a ballad-like piece sounding like a eulogy. At 12+ minutes, though, it can’t help but change the style to more agitated music towards the second half, adding a bit of jazz violin. ‘World Warrior’, ‘Nightmorning’ and ‘Hidden’ all remain more on the modern classical side of things, exploring dissonance and harmony (actually some very nice ones in places, esp. in ‘Nightmorning’). The jazz element remains relatively underdeveloped, which disappointed me a little given how the CD is marketed as ‘contemporary improvisation’ and ‘jazz string quartet’. Nevertheless, forgetting the marketing flyer and my false expectations a delightful release indeed. (RSW)
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Duos with saxophone and piano are not very common. There is an inherent problem with the dynamic range of the two instruments. Though both typically play melodic lines and would theoretically be a good fit of accompaniment and lead instrument (think basso continuo), the saxophone volume can easily drown the piano. Gato Barbieri and Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim tried this setting – with excellent results, as Barbieri can be a very restrained saxophone player.
Mcallister and Ames, though, take a different angle.
    In the first piece, ‘Careful Shouts’, Ames plays a mean piano and fully owns up to McCallister’s maximum saxophone playing. On ‘Lilac Tears’, they turn tables, and the lyrical piano is followed by – not restrained – but melodic saxophone lines with outstanding timing, and Ames is not shy of hitting the keys hard to match the other instrument, if necessary.
All in all, we have 14 tracks here that explore the above territory to the full. Quiet and lyrical pieces are interspersed with others, where both instruments play to their maximum volume. Which, to be honest, does strain the piano sound a little. Style-wise I find elements of Keith Jarrett in the melody lines. But also an element of ‘rock’ music, if I may say, Emerson Lake and Palmer, in the way that the instruments are challenged to maximum volume. ‘Jazz Punk Classics’, or ‘Jazz Hard Rock’, if you will, without the ‘rock’ element, but with the volume. Tracks like ‘Elegy’ (of course) show other sides of the duo (so to say ‘Wir koennen auch anders’) and so it alternates between these two poles, always offering an extremely high level of musicianship and especially an incredibly dense interplay. What is astounding and only revealed once one reads the hype flyer is that the pieces are composed by just as many contemporary composers as there are tracks. Although styles move between aggressive and melodic, they strangely merge into a consistent whole.
Outstanding and really fun to listen to.
    Mauricio Galeano is a classic guitar player from Uruguay. His originals do not really have much relevance for the recordings presented here; it’s just for the record. ‘Colloid’ sports 5 1/2 compositions by contemporary composers. I will explain the ‘1/2’ in a minute. Most (or all?) of them have been previously recorded and performed. Galeano has assembled his own playlist, resulting in a stylistically coherent release.
    The CD kicks off with Ray Evanoff’s ‘Things to keep us safe’ – holla, it’s over (9 seconds) before you have noticed the ‘short version’ in the title. O.k., so this is someone with a sense of humour and for condensed writing. Just to jump the gun on this one, the last track is ‘Things to keep us safe, long version’ (as you might have guessed) – which is unbelievable 37 seconds long … In between, we see a 7-sectioned composition by Brian Ferneyhough, and more by Klaus Karl Huebler (unfortunately already deceased), Wieland Hoban, Richard Barrett, all either forty-ish or over 60 in age. As Galeano now resides in Germany, Leipzig, to be more precise, many titles are in German, such as Ferneyhough’s seven ‘Kurze Schatten’.
    Nevertheless, though spanning some years in composer ages and five composers, the release is relatively consistent in style. Galeano picks and hurries across the strings, creating a flurry of sound and an atmosphere of nervous tension. As a solo recording, the music relies on the compositorial mastership of the authors, and given the flutter of sound, I wonder how this was notated, as it could also pass as an improvised recording. (RSW)
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I know a review about any project shouldn’t be about the reviewer, yet I’ll start with a little thing about me which might explain the choice of words on this release. So here it comes (no pun intended): I have a hate/hate relationship with blowing instruments of any kind. It took me ages to make peace with the sax that Bowie uses (and yes, I am a Bowie fan); the darkness of Chet Baker and the really slow and old bluesy jazz only got to me when I was in my late 40s…
    So why the hell would Vital Weekly Main Office send me this CD to review? Because it is THAT good. In the first five minutes of this album, you can still hear some untreated sounds of the devices performed by Marcel Klingeler, but Frans and Martijn start generating surrealistic layer upon layer and create gorgeous soundscapes. Wooshing and swooshing like the best Schulze albums (without the constant arpeggiators), hypnotizing environments like The Anti Group Communication’s Burning Water, treating trumpets into almost formant and vocal synthesis territory. And that is only the first track with the title “Those Silences That Occur” (where they actually don’t).
    The second track – ‘And There Is Nothing To Say’, – is about the same length as the first but has an entirely different approach. Maybe the result of Martijn and Frans switching the collaboration? Or, is it a collaboration at all? Or did one of them track A and the other track B? Because in that case I think the second track has more Frans then Martijn; It’s all a bit more ‘uncomfortable’ or eerie, partially because of a lofi vibe that is hidden in the droney layers. Erratic tones are playing with the delays and a melody which is no melody suddenly seems to be part of the composition. Shivers down my spine because I get a flashback from the hospital scene out of Lucio Fulci’s ‘The Beyond’, and from that moment on the composition only evolves into something even more unearthly, uneasy, with words unspoken … *IS* there nothing to say? Or are the words merely unspoken and is it all about the absence of words … And in that case, why am I trying to verbalize my emotions?
    The A5 booklet that comes with the CD (designed by Bas Mantel, also available separately) has loads of images but the middle two pages are reserved for words. Incoherent – so it seems – phrases, but they’re there, so probably they have a reason … But while going through the sentences and listening to that second track I read “A kind of orchestral, resonating unity, not the unity of logical discourse”. And now that sentence is resonating in my brain. This is one beautiful release. (BW)
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Here is another batch of new releases from the very busy home of Silentes/Standa/13. I started with the release by Fabio Orsi. I am a big fan of his work, and always keen to hear what he does next. It’s not that I seek anything new in his career. On the contrary, it is always nice to see changes in people’s music because it calls for more text in a review. But following many years of reviewing, I also know that some musicians don’t always quickly change and still release a lot of work. The significant change for Orsi happened a few years ago when he traded in his guitar and effects for a bunch of electronic gear, among which a few great apps work on an iPad, next to other ‘real’ equipment. Yet, Orsi is not the man of modular, I think. The five pieces are part of a live set he played at an exhibition of the same name by Alessandra Guttagliere. She is also responsible for the image that graces the cover. Sampled voices play a role in some of these (untitled) pieces; heavenly singing in the fourth part or spoken word in the first. The latter reminded me of releases on Silent Records, with spoken word by John C Lily. It is not something I particularly favour. But that’s only a minor detail. Orsi plays his spacious synth-based music, gently flowing with some exciting counterparts. These come via some more orchestral sounds, massive strings and some timpani-like sounds. They sit nicely next to the sequencing and arpeggio music that Orsi is also known for. There is a fine sense of drama in this music, perhaps more than in some of his other recent work, which seems more distant. But, see, the devil of change is in the details! This is another damn fine new Orsi release.
    Behind Submersion is one Justin Francazio, whom I had not heard before. He plays synths, guitar, effects, cassette tape, surface noise, radio static, boiling water, rain, waves, and morning cicadas. The latter is essential, as he recorded the music in the early morning hours. I don’t know if that is for him the start of the day or the end of the previous. I’d be interested to know, as the music deals with slow and dubby rhythms. You think they work best at night, dancing in a club, so it is a bit odd to think that the first time you do it when you wake up plays music with dubby, slow rhythms. It is, however, only one component of Submersion’s music. Minutes can pass without much rhythm, and we hear the rustling of leaves, rain or the sounds of the war in Ukraine. Maybe that sounds like an odd pairing, dance-related music with the sounds of something as serious as war. Still, throughout, the music is dark and not something that I would classify as ‘easy-listening’ or ‘party music’. All of this is grim and atmospheric but something I enjoy a lot. Four long pieces of monolithic dark rhythms, bookended with a short piece, serving as an intro and an outro. Play loud in a dim room, any time of the day.
    You should spell the next name gFFr. This trio consists of Verna Becker and Fr and gF. “gF is a XY-year-old junior programmer who enjoys hockey, watching sport and badminton. He is artificial, but can also be very random and a bit beats” and “Fr is a @@-year-old online mental trainer who enjoys spreading fake news on Facebook, travelling in dark webs and working on cars. He is pseudo-artificial and a bit lazy, as per Lacan’s interpretation of laziness.” Their respective bios are longer, but you get the idea. The only non artificial person is “Verena Becker is a young female artificial intelligence, trained on Donna Haraway, Gilles Deleuze and Britney Spears. Her secret dream is to become a pop singer. Despite the rigid workouts of thousands of stories without elevators, her neural net is yet too shallow to allow her to sing any potential blockbuster”. The tagline for this album is “Background music for the late Anthropocene: play this loudly for as long as you want or can stand”. Modern talking. The music also sounds modern, but maybe retro-modern? I mean, it sounds like so many things from before. Music from games, drum ‘n bass, clicks ‘n cuts, sampling electronics and voices left and right. Of course, this hints at pop music, and, at the same time, it has very little to do with storming pop charts or playing in a big stadium of admiring fans. Each of these ten pieces is about three minutes, which was once the average length of pop song, but in the streaming age no longer isn’t. I’m afraid of nervous, jumpy music that did very little for me. for me there are very few points of reference, I’m afraid.
    I vaguely remember the name Bi Nostalgia from the 1980s and may have seen or heard it on a few compilation cassettes. Silentes re-issued their older work, but I didn’t see these re-issues. ‘Le Statue D’Acqua’ appeared on an album, ‘Art Is Not Much’, and Bi Nostalgia worked with Fiori Carones Alberto for that piece. As it was in 1988, music was exchanged by sending a cassette in the mail. The result was three different versions, which are now collected on this CD. In the spirit of exchanging sounds, we also get two remixes by Deison and Fabio Orsi. The results are five pieces of ambient music. As I said, I have no idea how the music by Bi Nostalgia sounded back then, but it sounds great. Very gentle watery loops of dripping sound that are electronically generated, and some washes of a synthesizer. In Orsi’s remix, the music becomes sharper, no doubt using his set-up (see earlier), which is technically more advanced. Deison adds a dash of slow rhythm and creates something a bit different from the original, using different spacing between the notes. The three versions of Bi Nostlagia have minor differences, with Alberto’s piano taking the lead in the final track. There aren’t so close that they are too similar, but it makes a finely coherent album of quiet music. (FdW)
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A large section of Zoharum’s catalogue is about re-issues. From various musical projects, they seem to be doing a whole catalogue. Vidna Obmana is one of them, Genetic Transmission is another. From the latter, we now receive albums nine and ten, originally released in the early years of this millennium as small-run CDR releases. Genetic Transmission is the music project of Tomasz Twardawa. As I noted before (and I am not sure if I heard all his re-issues), Genetic Transmission is a music project about noise, but not of the HNW variety, non-musical instruments and cut-up/collage techniques. Banging on stuff in the basement and using these recordings in the studio. They are layered, mixed, altered and brutally chopped up by a pair of scissors. That is what I make of the sound of Genetic Transmission; it’s not something I know. What are the differences between both albums, you may ask? That is an excellent question. An output such as Genetic Transmission is more about the whole project than individual releases. ‘News From Wormlands’ contains one (out of six) curious track that is very much cut short, amongst the other pieces with longer sounds. According to Zoharum, ‘White Nights’ is regarded as one of the best albums in the catalogue (and great that they didn’t start the re-issue program with that one). It is a damn fine album, with some highly concentrated efforts. Maybe I am guided by that ‘one of the best albums thing, but it seems that Genetic Transmission is a full force here. Whereas tracks are sometimes too long and there is too much repeating of ideas, that is less the case here. The previously noted influence of Nurse With Wound remains ever present in these two albums.
    The brothers Charlot, who work as Maninkari, return to Zoharum with their third album for this label. There is no particular thematic approach, but I am told that the album works as a four-piece suite. Maninkara is a percussion group, but they also play viola and cymbalom. Throughout, there is a slightly improvised feeling in this music. I might be wrong, but I had this idea of them playing it all rather loosely. The rhythms aren’t all too strict but rather use a variety of rhythms, creating a more exotic percussive feel for the music. The viola and cymbalom are plucked, bowed and strummed. The results are nice enough, but I am not entirely convinced. There is an abundance of reverb used, which sometimes is a bit too much. It creates these massive textures, but it also sounds, at times, quite hollow. With some of their more improvised leanings thrown into these textures, one could easily think that this all went too quickly. Of course, I believe that is not the case; it’s just my impression of this. For whatever reason, I don’t think the music is as strong as their previous releases. (FdW)
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Lauermann’s instrument is the cello, but that’s not something you easily see on this new CD. Maybe it is something he does in his other work, solo for soundtracks or with groups, such as The Twentieth Century, Donauwellenreiter, Ritornell, Soap & Skin, Alasac, Mimu Merz and Der Nino Aus Wine. The cello seems at the basis of these pieces, but it feeds through electronic effects and gets so many twists that the original sound disappears. Lauermann didn’t record new cello bits but used old recordings again. Bits from soundtracks, for instance. The album is quite short, at thirty-six minutes, and the nine pieces are relatively short and to the point. I thought of this as a work of musique concrète or electro-acoustic music. Electronic sounds play the lead, except in ‘Ven’, where the cello is dominant. Changing speeds and timbres, Lauermann radically colours the sound differently and creates highly abstract music, yet it is never overtly complex or strange. Throughout, the music remains very accessible. A bit of crackle here, some creepy low drone there, some organ drones; all in the good spirit of the world microsound, lowercase and laptop music. Even when I don’t know, Lauermann isn’t using much in the laptop department. I think the briefness of the music gives it all a bit more energy, and Lauermann has many approaches under his belt, so there is quite a bit of variety. Lovely stuff! (FdW)
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Slowly but surely, Vital Weekly seems to be moving away from the industrial, noise, (dark) ambient roots and into the territories of contemporary composed and/or improvised music. At least: when we look at the materials submitted to us. And our curious ears find quite some delights therein. Gems like the rather raucous affair this trio committed to LP under the title ‘Inhale/Exhale’.
    This LP is the debut recording from the New Mexican trio of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and guitarist Raven Chacon, percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani and bassist Carlos Santistevan. On the spot, instant composing this threesome does. In October 2020, Baltimore’s High Zero festival asked curators around the country to assemble improvisers in their regions for a streaming edition of the festival. Santa Fe bassist Carlos Santistevan put together a group of New Mexico players featuring himself, Tatsuya Nakatani, and Raven Chacon. The performance marked their first encounter as a trio and took place in San Miguel Chapel—the oldest chapel in the United States.
    But, alas, this is not what we hear. The initial session was recorded and readied for release, but the HD containing the files was stolen from Santistevan’s car before a proper backup could be made, so it was lost for eternity then. And in a way, perhaps, fitting when considered in the ongoing debate as to whether one should or should not record and release improvised music in the first place.
    But oh well, the three booked another session at the chapel. And Inhale/Exhale document these moments. Close to 40 minutes, this is of frenetic instant composing between hard-hitting percussion, white-hot electronic noises, swarming storms of distorted strings, singing saw-like buzzing tones; scintillating energy bursts barely contained within the room, the space, the spatial reverb (or muffled lack thereof perhaps, too). Like an aural Jackson Pollock painting, these two sides ooze and drip and let it rip.
    There’s an urban touch to these dense layers of skittering transmissions from the realms of experiment and avant-garde, but what is equally fascinating is an almost untouchable, hard to pinpoint touch-base quality to this riveting adventure. Organic naturality imbues the deeply engaging and utterly compelling work with a hint of earthiness, of being firmly rooted: past fleeting moments of here and now. A timelessness strangely at odds with the improvised nature of proceedings and magically merging in addition to that at the very same moment. (SSK)
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Earlier this year, Roland Schappert released ‘Route 1’, which I didn’t hear. Now there is the follow-up, ‘Route 2′, which makes sense as a title, I guess. While there is lengthy information on what exactly is a bit of a riddle for me, there is hardly any information about the man himself. He also had a tape on the Tapesports label. Much of what he does with music has to do with loops. I believe he works digitally, like good ol’ fashioned sampling and plays around with these in various ways. Schappert uses field recordings next to purely electronic sounds, acoustic objects, everyday objects or, one short piece, his voice. In the first few pieces, the looping isn’t as apparent as they are later on, with pieces such as ‘Darwin’ and ‘Drhnt’ dealing with more extended tones and drones and field recordings of water, bells, and birds. From ‘ich Love You, Ich’, the sound gears towards a more electronic sound, sequenced sounds, shorter loops and such. A melodic aspect is not lost on the music, even when, at times, Schappert has a rather loose touch when it comes to playing these. Sometimes a more dance-oriented beat comes into play, such as in ‘Victor’ o(although the melodic aspect destroys the dance element) and the marching orders of ‘Fällst mir leicht’. The album is, stylistically, in many places, but it has a coherent feeling. You get the drift of it all, I guess. The music might sometimes be abstract, yet it doesn’t feel all too abstract or strange. Schappert sets out to entertain the listener with some surprising rhythm music, using, at times, weird sounds but keeps an eye on the ball of keeping it all accessible. The result is a lovely double album. (FdW)
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Behind Ard Bit is one Ard Janssen from Rotterdam. In 2011 he released a 12″ on Shipwrec Records, one of their first releases. He also has music on Symbolic Interaction and Lowriders Recordings. Ard Bit has a bachelor’s degree from the Institute of Sonology. This new album deals with a personal note from Ard: “‘There are many different people in this world, but society sets expectations about how they should live and what is normal. People can have a “confused period” at some point in their lives, which causes stress in the perspective of society’s expectations. The medical world often puts a label on it as described in the DSM-5*, the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders”. Maybe the therapy lies within and listening to music. I admit I found this side of the record all a bit vague. After years of reviewing, I have no idea what to believe anymore. Let’s stick with the music. Ard Bit captures everyday sounds and works that into his electronic compositions. These everyday sounds are field recordings he captured over the years and which incorporate nicely with the electronic soundscapes. For whatever wrong reason, I thought this would be a more techno-based record, but Ard Bit’s music can be found in ambient, moody electronics and a few modular synthesizers. It’s never one thing or the other. Sometimes he paints long washes of synthesizer sounds, sometimes shorter bleeps and bloops. The field recordings have reached a level of abstraction that renders the original sound impossible to hear. Maybe animals, children, or some kind of mechanical process? I don’t always know. The album walks a fine line between ambient and modern music. Nothing here shocks the listener, even when some of the sounds are droning away. Quite a pleasant record, indeed. (FdW)
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Because Yellow6 is a known quality and quantaty, I decided to strat with Ludvig Cimbrelius. Previously he released two albums on Sound In Silence, both of which I didn’t hear. Cimbrelius is from Sweden and released music on Silent Season, Dewtone Recordings, Archives, A Strangely Isolated Place. He has various aliases for different musical interests (ambient, modern classical, minimal dub techno), such as Eternell, Purl, and Illuivia. Cimbrelius plays some very ambient music in which the piano is the main instrument. Tuneful pieces, or pieces full of tunes, even when they are all very slow. Around these tunes are sparse electronics treatments, mainly some reverb treatments and some sparse synthesizers imitating some airy sounds. I am inclined to think that Cimbrelius uses various pianos from different locations and mixes these. Sometimes a piano has a very open and direct sound, but within a piece, there is also a slightly muted piano playing in the background. All eight pieces are delicate and vulnerable pieces of music. Music without any danger, music for a mild spring day (which it ain’t today) and music getting close to the dreaded (by me) world of new age music. But I give the benefit of the doubt. This is the perfect soundtrack for the early morning; my favourite time of the day to play ambient music with a capital A.
    Jon Attwood has worked as Yellow6 since 1998 and has released many records. Early in his career, I heard a few, but in recent years I only hear the ones that Sound In Silence releases. ‘A Change In The Weather’ is already his fifth album for the label. Attwood played guitar and sound effects and switched off his drum machines for good. I quite enjoy this new approach from him. As such, this new album is the perfect follow-up to ‘The Cloud Factory’ (Vital Weekly 1297), also a weather-like theme. Gentle and minimal, the dreaded new age is far away, not even on the horizon. There is still a mild rock-like sound to be noticed in this music. Attwood strums and plucks away, creating melodies that swim in gentle drones. Raindrops and snowflakes are the images I see when I hear the music. Clouds pass on a windy day in autumn, but not today, as the clouds aren’t moving. Atmospheric music and throughout Yellow6 takes its time to play these tunes. Two pieces clock in well over ten minutes, but the other also takes its time. A lonely sound, perhaps, yet nothing depressing. This music is made for contemplation. What more can one say about this? Another damn fine album by Yellow6. (FdW)
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As a lover of wine, it is always good to see the Latin phrase ‘In Vino Veritas’; look the meaning up yourself and raise a glass. Sadly, drinking wine is not something to do when I’m on the job reviewing music. The band name means ‘Brotherhood of the Heirs of Wine’, and the four members are either family or Ramones lovers; their names are Gabriella Cofradia, Karim Cofradia, Miguel Cofradia and Tomas Cofradia. This cassette is their second release and my first encounter with their music. I hear violins, guitars, voices, and metallic percussion. Backed by the rune-like drawing, one could easily think about this music as something for rituals. The whispering voices also hint at that. And if not that, ‘Defecating Mystical Flesh’, ‘Chimera’s Lament’ or ‘Thank Your Blind Saint’ are maybe telling titles. Over the years, I became milder about this kind of music and even liked some of it. I could very well see the humour in this kind of ritualistic approach. Maybe it is the presence of drone-like sounds, or the slightly more experimental edge this quartet has; I thought that, overall, it worked fine. Not every moment was intense. ‘Defecating Mystical Flesh’ was a bit too long for my taste. But the whispering of voices, the mild electronic treatments of reversing tapes and field recordings made this fine alternative folk horror exercise. The recording is sometimes a bit unclear, which adds to the charm of the music. Not always my cup of herbal tea, but I immensely enjoyed this. I will give it a spin tonight and have a glass of red. (FdW)
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A split cassette release on Plattegrond. Schoco (or Shoko) Mune is a Japanese noise artist using the piano to generate interesting noise. Silvan Schmid is a Swiss trumpet player based in Zürich and Maastricht and a member of the Gamut Collectiv and has recorded numerous records on various labels. Side A starts with sparse trumpet and piano notes underneath a steady stream of low electric buzzing. Along the way, the volume increases, and there’s an interplay between the three sound sources. The last track on side A is the heaviest, with harsh controlled noise and ends quite abruptly. Five tracks in 24 minutes make for a short and sweet ride in this industrial noise world where acoustic sound sources are manipulated, distorted and amplified into textures with hints of melody scattered along the ride. Very intriguing indeed, and kudos to the mastering engineer Charis Konstantinou. This could easily sound muddy. Now all the different nuances are easily heard in the mix.
    Side B is a whole different beast. Not only because there are three musicians but also because there are vocals. Alessio Giuliani on drums and percussion, Maria Carlas on vocals, keyboards,
bass guitar, rhythm box & percussion and last but not least Mylo Cywitz – keyboards, zither, mandolin, glockenspiel, sampler, vocals. The latter two have been performing and releasing music regularly and got a review here of their sophomore release (Vital Weekly 1232). Melodies for the lyrics (in a few languages, including Dutch) consist of atonal sequences interrupted with heavily distorted sounds, and in the last track, everything is played back backwards. It’s demanding music, a kind of chamber opera, not only because of the way Maria sings (she is a classically trained vocalist) but also because of the instrumentation with a vital role for Alessio, which makes for a worthwhile and inspirational listening experience. As a whole an excellent release! (MDS)
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STUDIO PANDELIS DIAMANTIDES –  Παλμός / Palmós (video art by Sedition)

We have done reviews of physical releases in all shapes and forms here at Vital Weekly. Online video art has to be a first, right (and the last SSK, we don’t review non-physical available material, remember? – ed)? The honour goes to Greek composer and digital artist Pandelis Diamantides. I clearly remember a punishing AV-set he played a couple of years ago in the Waterfront warehouse in Amsterdam Noord. Saturated images way beyond the point of Raster-Noton’s minimalism, brutal and bruital noise and spiked bass pulses and an immersive touch that enveloped the listener totally still spring to mind. And at GOGBOT Festival in Enschede Diamantides showcased a deeply disorienting work of fog, flashing lights and the intensity of the lack thereof.
    Diamantides himself wrote: “By creating a completely dark environment, the installation allows the audience to recapture their sensory self by placing them in an initial state of sensory deprivation. The deliberate perceptual isolation allows subjective perception to be reset and is subsequently altered by the use of light and sound. The visual system is deprived of the essential information necessary to interpret the dynamics of the space and turn it into its mental representation. After the subject’s sensory palate has been cleansed, minuscule pulses of light and sound encapsulating the audience can manipulate their sensory experience.” That’s one way of putting it. Flooding, cutting off and turning upside down and inside out might be another. In the best of senses, that is.
    And now Diamantides, we have been ‘warned’, is back with three works, collectively titled Παλμός / Palmós. These works are released on Sedition Art, a platform for contemporary art. Again, like the GOGBOT installation, the works are generative AV pieces, now based around the notion of pulse or heartbeats, re-contextualising the heart as a metaphor for emotion and the notion of vibration as a connecting element between physical, biological, and social activity. And yes, all this is contained within these three works of barely 5 minutes in combined length. Did I mention Diamantides want to compress universes into the tip of a needle?
    In talking about these works, Diamantides mentions: “As a strategy of coping with the stress of social isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, I observed and measured my heartbeat and breath rhythm at regular intervals. By observing my body reactions, becoming conscious of the connection between my pulse and that of the world, I retained a feeling of togetherness during the continuous lockdowns.”
    And it’s this deeply personal connection that imbues the works of Diamantides with layers of organic humanity – a biological vibration and resonance one might be forgiven to forget when confronted with the high-tech sheen of the visuals or the digital noise granular synthesis of the audio. This triptych reaches out to mythos, not unlike Bill Viola and navigates the parameters of the sacred, profane and personal, interhuman and – perhaps – supernatural. A universal experience this then, of an extrapolated single vibration in all of us: the movement of a multitude of hearts, a social resonance and a crowd of cardiac interactions.
    Taken purely at face value of the audio side, only we hear hints of Scanner and Vangelis, of Francois Bayle and other greats of the GRM, Main comes to mind, maybe Peder Mannerfelt, Thomas Brinkmann too. There’s a definite MEGO-feel to this work. Again, something unsettling and uncanny which can only be touched upon via the human connection here turned into something entirely engaging and captivating beyond the mere digital or binary, into the all too touching and moving. Like a personal memory refound – like time regained.
    Truth be told, we can not wait for these works to be shown on some massive screens at Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam: blacked-out walls again, pounding PA again. A hard-hitting direct experience of a spectacular and a the same time N=1-tiny particular exploration of uncharted emotional landscapes. Heartwarmingly superb. (SSK)
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