Number 1364

MERZBOW – ANTIMONUMENT (CD by Menstrual Recordings) *
MERZBOW – VRATYA SOUTHWARD (CD by Menstrual Recordings) *
MERZBOW – PSYCHORAZER (CD by Menstrual Recordings) *
MERZBOW – PARADISE PACHINKO (CD by Menstrual Recordings) *
YANG CHEN – LONGING FOR… (CDR by People Places Records) *
HIRAM – IMMERSION (CDR by Home And Garden) *
DOC WÖR MIRRAN – PROGRESSIVE PUNK PUNK 9-12 (four mini CDR by Marginal Talent) *
DOC WÖR MIRRAN -THE IRON SNOWFLAKE (two cassettes by Masking Tapes) *
TANTO & POOL PERVERT – LIFE REMOTE (cassette, private) *
PACIFIC WALKER (cassette by Orphanology) *
BRIAN RURYK – TOUGH CROWD (cassette by Eye Of The Phallus)
DREKKA – NOTES: STONES (IN SOLIDARITY) (cassette by Blue Sanct)
GIACOMO ZANUS – INSIDE A FRAME (cassette by Esc. Rec) *
MIKAEL SZAFIROWSKI – FERRIC 90 (cassette by Esc. Rec) *
LAMIEE. / HYSTRIX KITSCH – PATCHWORK (cassette by Esc. Rec) *


The music on this CD is the “OST from the performance project by Gruppo nanou, Alfredo Pirri and Bruno Dorella”. I had not heard of either of these before. According to the information, this is the first electronic album and his second solo release. He was a member of Jack Cannon and Wolfango. As with many OST releases I have come across in all these years, not seeing what it relates to (dance, movie) makes it difficult to understand what it is about musically. The website has a lengthy explanation, but it uses the sort of lingo that I am averse to. “We have verified together how sound can accommodate the body and be in dialogue with the scenic action. It was a transitive operation between scene and sound, bodies and the material density of sounds, vibrations and motion”, and much more. That didn’t help, either. The music is a collection of electronic sounds, voices/vocals, and rhythms, all of which have a sketch-like approach. Maybe this allows for some freedom in the choreography this is part of? I am not sure it works for me as a standalone that well. I can see it would all make sense in the bigger picture, and there are undoubtedly some lovely pieces in this release, but overall, there was not enough for me to hold onto. There was some nice stuff, but the same amount that couldn’t have my attention.
    I found the other new release by 13/Standa of more interest, even when the explanatory text is in Italian only. The recordings and photography in this package were made “around the architectures of the former Eni Mountain Village in Corte di Cadore (Belluno, Italy) conducted over the last 15 years”. I don’t know much about architecture, and looking at the beautiful pictures, I am none the wiser They look like oddly shaped holiday buildings at times. Maybe the fascination for this place is explained in the text that I can’t read. The field recordings are made in this place, and the numerous amounts of rain sound not precisely a holiday advert. Other field recordings include walking around the place and recording empty spaces, resonating footsteps, and various obscured human activities. These recordings are part of an electronic soundtrack, which, I assume, is made by processing these field recordings. The overall feeling is one of uneasy tranquillity. At times, the music meanders like a slow, peaceful holiday. Then a torrential rain shows up (‘Fra Le Ville, Grandine, Prati Bagnati’), and you think, ‘why did you choose this place for a holiday?’. I was not as interested when the music leans too heavily on field recordings, such as in that thunderstorm. Maybe I heard enough field recordings? But when it is combined with electronics, such as in the title piece or in ‘Nostra Signora del Cadore’ (even more electronic), the music turns out to be wonderful. As usual, with productions by 13/Standa that include photography, the presentation is gorgeous. (FdW)
––– Address:

MERZBOW – ANTIMONUMENT (CD by Menstrual Recordings)
MERZBOW – VRATYA SOUTHWARD (CD by Menstrual Recordings)
MERZBOW – PSYCHORAZER (CD by Menstrual Recordings)
MERZBOW – PARADISE PACHINKO (CD by Menstrual Recordings)

Elsewhere I said I had my noise-fill for this week, but I didn’t count on getting four Merzbow releases. Merzbow is something else in the noise department, a class of his own. I have been listening to Masami Akita’s music since I first discovered it in the early 80s on compilation cassettes. For years I collected his releases but gave up out of monetary and time-related problems. I always dive into any old or new Merzbow that I can. These are all reissues; I am sure I had them all in my collection. I started with ‘Antimonument’, simply because of the four titles, I remember best. I had the unofficial CD on Art Directe (from 1991) and the picture disc Merzbow released on their ZSF Produkt (from 1986). This new CD version comes from the double LP version that Menstrual Recordings released in 2014, although the cover here mentions remastering from 2016. The music here is a typical variation of Merzbow in the mid-80s. Loops of electronic sounds are fed through a few stomp boxes (unlike the many stomp boxes from later on), and on top, Merzbow plays metallic percussion. Banging, scraping and bowing rusty metal sheets; improvised music, but of the variety, I enjoy a lot. Sometimes the loops are filled with metallic banging, but they don’t shift together, so there are these odd rhythms. This isn’t ‘Metal Dance’ if you get my drift. Merzbow had quite the primitive, open sound; especially in ‘Pleasure Dome’, there is an excellent sense of musical freedom and lots of sound manipulation. Of course, I am an old, sentimental man, but this is the Merzbow closest to my heart; the sound of my formative years in noise music. I’m transported back to my old boys’ room, pouring over obscure compilations and trying to dissect who did which piece of music. After a while, I got the hang of it, and always recognizable were MB, The Legendary Pink Dots and Merzbow. Their music had a distinctly different sound.
    The next one I played was ‘Vratya Southward’, which in the Merzbow timeline is closest to ‘Antimomument’. If Merzbow is your go-to place for a barrage of noise, this album might be somewhat of a surprise. In these two pieces, Merzbow spreads out his sound world, creating an open, spacious sound at times. He explores acoustic sounds through loops, sound effects, and so on. Things he used at that time (1987) to record his music, but with considerably less force. A bang on metal, changing speed, and, again, in that free Merzbowian mood that we also heard on ‘Antimonument’, which was THE Merzbow sound in the mid to late 80s. As I said, for me, this is the Mzerbow period I love best, the whole 80s that is, and while these days one would edit these recordings to a tighter sound, in the glory days of cassette release (which was back then, the medium for ‘Vratya Southward’ to appear on), that didn’t matter. Think of this as releasing works of energy, a documentation of the action.
    When I was in Japan, I realized that some Japanese musicians’ interest in noise music stems from the pachinko, which [wiki] “is a mechanical game originating in Japan that is used as an arcade game, and much more frequently for gambling. Pachinko fills a niche in Japanese gambling comparable to that of the slot machine in the West as a form of low-stakes, low-strategy gambling”. A pachinko parlour is one hell of a racket. A must-see and hear experience if you ever visit the country. The covers for all four new Merzbow releases are shiny silver foil, but it represents best the original release of ‘Paradise Pachinko’, which had metal in a jewel case; also shiny. On this disc, there is some credit for instruments such as “Bowed Scrap Metals, Feedback-mixer, Cello, Piano Wired Handmade, Turntables, and Loops”, all recorded on a four-track cassette. The music is from 1990 to 1992, and we have a significant leap forward in Merzbow’s development. By then, he was playing many more concerts, including stomp boxes in all colours (which led to a CD ‘Rainbow Electronics’) and a harsher sound. It is funny, perhaps, to see that none of the instruments mentioned can be recognized. They become triggers to set sound effects in motion and become an endless stream of noise music. Effectively, this is a comparative example of the sound that Merzbow is famous for.
    With ‘Pyschorazer’ we move a few years onwards, and now it’s 1997. The full-on noise attack is now fully formed, and it’s not yet the time to work with the laptop. Merzbow’s primary choice is the EMS synth, the VCS3 and the Synthi A, also ancient and expensive gear back then. Also used are the Moog Rogue, metal devices, electronics and a theremin. The sound approach is excellent, as in loud and noisy, but the improvisational aspect is still there. Merzbow creates an uberlayer of synth sounds, bubbling and bursting, and at times very chaotic, and below that, there are the amplified objects, rattling and shaking; maybe these sounds are fed into both EMS machines and the output through sound effects. Cascading and endless music, certainly in ‘Mangod’, crashing in at thirty-five minutes. The title track is half that length and is a more straightforward onslaught. Here feedback plays a vital role while also playing the chaos card. These four CDs show Merzbow’s development over ten years, and if that period is a mystery for you, then these four can serve as introductions. (FdW)
––– Address:


There was a time when I listened to a lot of Coil – a period that was then followed by years and years without any Coil. In hindsight I wonder: why was that? Maybe it was the changes in my personal circumstances; shifting musical interests and odd are I was also just a bit fed up with the cult following (of any kind). Their cult-following is something that is even larger these days now that both members are no longer with us, and seemingly everyone can (re)release a Coil record. There have been Coil tributes before, but This Immortal Coil is different. In 1980, 4AD boss Ivo Watts created supergroup This Mortal Coil, inviting musicians from his label to record his favourite songs. I am sure most will be familiar with ‘Song To Siren’ since it was used in several adverts. However, if you don’t know it, then shame on you; stop reading and look it up.
Now ‘This Immortal Coil’ is obviously a clever play on the name and the basic idea is the same: a rotating cast of musicians playing Coil songs. In 2009 there was a first album ‘The Dark Age Of Love’, which is now part of the 5LP box set that is also available, including one additional disc with remixes). There is Matt Elliott (Third Eye Foundation), Aidan Baker, Christine Ott, members from Ulver, Zü, Zëro, plus a lot of (I assume French) musicians, whose names are new to me. Perhaps rather than what you would expect, the line-up is rather conventional, drums, guitar, cello, vocals, clarinet, bass, organ and so on. There are such songs as ‘Cold Cell’, ‘A White Rainbow’, ‘Magnetic North’, ‘Fire Of The Mind’, plus the emphasis seems to be on the later Coil period – and on the dramatic at that. In this respect the link to This Mortal Coil is perhaps even more fitting, since their work also had a very dramatic impact. At any rate, what surprised me and made me feel that this is a great album is the fact that the group manages to translate the Coil tracks to their very own vernacular, while pretty much following the originals. This Immortal Coil created a very consistent album that could have been a Coil gem in its own right, which also means they picked the those pieces necessary to create such an album. (LW)
––– Address:


Last week we had reviews on a new CD of Guido Hübner’s Das Synthetische Mischgewebe on Tribe Tapes and a DAT by Roel Meelkop on NDWICM. And this week – surprise, surprise – a collaboration by these guys. Unknown, at least for me, Flag Day Recordings, based in West Virginia, focuses on experimental music, noise, ambient, drone and such, and this release probably fits their roster very well. And that’s it for what I can write about the ‘obvious’ …
    “Violence Against The Evidence” is a 40-minute track which travels all over the place. It has moments with minimal droney sounds; there are moments where the composition screams electroacoustics and other moments which are textbook musique concrète. There isn’t a dull moment on this album, but it is very intensive listening, as you can imagine.
    The inside of the CD cover mentions six parts, or three, I haven’t decided yet. “Disentanglement (Insane)” (part 1-3), “Implicit Bias” and “Disentanglement (Outsane)” #5 and #6. These can be parts of the composition, but they can also be the names of the different pieces of art on the cover. I can’t tell you. And next to that, the cover mentions Roel on analogue modular synthesizer and Guido: acoustic assemblages. Does this mean that Guido recorded sounds which Roel manipulated? Or that Roel made sounds which were mixed into a composition by Guido? And there you have the beauty of experimental music. Does it really matter at all when you’re able to listen to it multiple times, and you’re still amazed by what you hear and what it does to you?
    There are moments within the composition that I would have liked to last longer, but my taste is to drone away on sound waves. Concerning that fact, it’s quite an erratic composition, but this one scores high when it comes to sounds and intriguement. (BW)
––– Address:


Funny to see an insert that says thanks to many people, mainly in The Netherlands, friends (no doubt), venues, record labels, musicians and so on. I recognize quite a few names, some old and almost forgotten. I realized that they are all part of that Dutch underground scene that I like to believe Vital Weekly is also part of, and yet, I had not heard of Môgô before, nor the label, the funnily named Ducktape Records. They release mostly cassettes and CDRs, and this might be their first LP release. Môgô plays a curious range of instruments. Gear heads probably know what this is; I don’t. Let me quote the cover, “MSM3 BM1 CA100 Guitar DTE1 RV3 L6EP, ERSX Kalimba Kraakdoos Piano Cello MS20iC MKP MN Voice RC2 ER1 V8 MKO”. Each side has only one track, ‘Cycle I’ and ‘Cycle II’. Much like the cover and title suggest, this is a psychedelic somersault; through music, to be precise. The record starts with a drone, and looking at the title, ‘Cycle’, I assumed this would be one of those drone albums. Two sides, two drones. That is certainly not the case, as Môgô has a varied menu. As I have not heard his (?) other work, I can’t say that a diverse approach is his trademark, but within the forty minutes of this album, the music starts with drone/ambient to techno at the end of the second side. In between, there was room for introspective piano playing, tape cut-ups using some old machines, and some noise drone through the guitar. That bit sounded a bit scratchy, towards the world of lo-fi ambience, but, next turn, it slowly morphs into that techno-inspired piece. Slow somersaults, but with every turn, there is some musical direction to explore. You may think this variety of sounds is a bit much, but as a trip (and I mean that in the psychedelic sense of the word, and as a journey), going from one colour place to the next, it works very well. Or alternatively, this album reflects a full day; one wakes up, does stuff, and in the end, there is a party.  It made me curious to hear the other works! If only I had more time. (FdW)
––– Address:


Ages ago, when I was in university, I was as much obsessed with music as I still (hopefully) am. Looking back there was hardly time that I was not listening to something, and I had a penchant for the loud mostly. This was in my most brutal Ant-Zen and Hands phase. It seemed like I could only study with loud music, but sleep was a different thing altogether; a recurrent battle with insomnia began. My first idea was to just let my Aiwa mini tower hi-fi system continue to blast my daytime regimen when I went to bed, but I quickly realised this was perhaps too much of a good thing. A friend of mine, who never really ‘got’ my affection for the loud, recommended listening to ambient music. This meant I started with Eno, but in that ‘Ambient’ series I missed the pulse of the beat. A bit later I heard about Pete Namlook and now that was definitely right up my alley. My days ended with a solid three hours of ambient music from Namlook and his compadres from the Fax +49-69/450464 label. Not that I had a complete collection, but I purchased the ones I had I returned to several times. When I got out of university, the insomnia slowly disappeared and with that also the need to end the day with the aid of ambient music. I didn’t know Namlook passed away ten years ago, at the age of 51, but Frans de Waard in his QST guise didn’t. He released a CDR in an edition of 52 copies featuring a single piece; ‘op. 72, A Synphonic Poem (for Pete Namlook)’. It sports bird twitter, bleepy synthesizers, mild drum machines; the classic sounds of chill out. Or, for me, the sound of insomnia. These are not wild beats obviously, rather something with a pleasant late night relaxing vibe; or perhaps you could stick it on your headphones and do a forest walk. I especially enjoyed the bits where synthesizers were imitating the birds (or is it vice versa?). De Waard wrote that various of his demos where rejected by Fax +49-69/450464 and sadly Namlook is no longer around to give his valued opinion on this. Does it fit? Not for me to say, but I enjoyed it all the same. It also meant a wake up call for me to play some Namlook again. (LW)
––– Address:


The four compositions on this double CDR use “Neo-Riemannian theory is a collection of ideas and models of music theorists such as David Lewin, Brian Hyer, and Richard Cohn and is named after Hugo Riemann (1849–1919), a German musicologist, who had proposed in the 1880s a system of harmonic transformations that related triad chords directly to each other”. The quote on Bandcamp is longer, and even longer on the cover of this release, so as they say in Starship Troopers, ‘would you like to know more?’ I’d advise you to read more (Wiki also has some helpful information). Rick Sanders, a modular synth man from the glorious hometown of Vital Weekly, applies this theory, and the results sound like automated music. The cover shows how these triad chords are connected, and it seems as if Sanders has his machines locked together to play these extended chords, slowly intertwining. I was going to say ‘one by one’, but I guess that should be ‘three by three’. While this is done, Sanders slowly changes the colour of the sound, so it never becomes very static, which is excellent, even when he takes his time. With every piece just over thirty minutes long, there is enough time to do this. In each of these pieces, he has a specific set of sounds going at different times, but the music’s common thread is one of slow, majestic drones. This is ambient music with a capital A. Not something that you haven’t heard before, but that is where ambient is. Nevertheless, this is most enjoyable music, something to play very early morning at a very low volume, or very late night Music to wake up to or unwind. My favourite is ‘VII’, with that slightly ragged edge to the drones, making it somewhat more experimental than the other three. (FdW)
––– Address:

YANG CHEN – LONGING FOR… (CDR by People Places Records)

Here we have two examples of serious music. On the first disc we find Yang Chen, a percussionist from Toronto. They also play taiko with RAW, which stands for Raging Asian Women. The pieces they play were composed for them by friends, “who share values and interested belied by the album’s surface of wild heterogeneity – most notable a penchant for open-ended collaboration”. I don’t think I saw a familair name. I have no idea how composing work, not even in general, even, but certainly not in this case. To what extent are these scores strict and to what extent is there freedom in playing these scores. It is a question to which I find no answer. Chen receives musical help on various pieces, and instruments include guitar, “various instruments/objects”, flute, led vocals, and violin, Chen plays percussion, voice, bass, bike. The music on this CD is in various places, which makes that my opinion is also a bit varied. I very much enjoyed a piece such as ‘Crank/Set’, in whch the bicycle wheel is explored for its acoustic and musical qualities. A song, ‘Till The Dam Breaks’ is almost like a R’nB song and not something I enjoyed very much. Between these extremes the music takes place. When it is abstract, sustaining and controlled it works wonder. Charles Lutvak’s three part ‘Rest/Stop’, in which Chen moves a bow across a vibraphone, distilling a reflective piece music, of which third part is one of the highlights of this release. When the music moves into a freer section of open-ended scores, more improvised, I’d think, then the music is not for me. Even when Andrew Noseworthy’s ‘All Good Pieces Have Two Things’ is a vibrant duet between Chen and the composer on guitar. If the idea was to have a debut album, showcasing what Chen can do, then the album succeeds very well. (FdW)
––– Address:


By now the fourth release by Aries Mond, also known as Boris Billier. He writes that for his new album, he dreamed of “an electronic music set that could be played anywhere out of the usual concert places, [….] especially in the middle of nowhere, in the countryside in the mountains”. Perhaps it is odd that he created the music in his studio and spent days outside listening to it with big battery loudspeakers. Why not create such a set-up, batteries included and created the music in the field? There are some bird sounds in ‘Gentiana’ (at least if that is the correct title; Bandcamp has eight titles, and the cover lists seven), but for all I know, that can be a field recording. I guess it doesn’t matter that much. The music can indeed be classified as quiet and ambient. It’s not unlike ‘Music For Airports’, as Aries Mond uses extensive humming, piano sounds and dreamy electronics. Aries Monds casts his net of musical interests wide, even taping into the world of ambient house with a strong cosmic twist in ‘Grezzo’ and computer music doodling in ‘Ciel Ouvert’. In ‘High Spot’, there is the solitary clarinet against a fragile cut-up rhythm. He adds a darker undercurrent in ‘Vertical Drop’ (Very Brian Eno!), which I am not sure would play in an airport, or mountain. It is too cold here to test the experience of lying on the grass and checking that side of the music, but it is certainly a thought to do that. Aries Mond’s music may not be original, but his playing shows skill and depth. (FdW)
––– Address:

HIRAM – IMMERSION (CDR by Home And Garden)

Behind Hiram is Matthew Hiram Himes from South Minneapolis, “whose sound work bridges the natural and modern worlds”. That is evident in his new work, a site-specific work. In this forty-minute piece, he uses field recordings and underwater hydrophone sounds. Still, also he adds wooden flutes, brass bowls, woodwind acoustic instruments, analogue synthesis, natural sound, magnetic tape, and electronic processing. The piece has four parts, reflecting the four parts of the day; morning, midday, overnight and dawn. The version on Bandcamp is split into four parts, which on the CDR version flow into each other. The music is, without doubt, part of the world of ambient music, with leanings towards that new-age music. Especially when the flutes take on a significant role in the third part, along with insects in the evening field, things become suspicious of new-age music. The electronics used by Hiram never take on a big role; they linger in the background; they give an overall colour to the various instruments and field recordings, but they also keep the work away from the dreaded new age world. In the second part, there is more electro-acoustic feeling. Water drips, but there is also a fine electronic edge, now more to the foreground, and this is the most ‘experimental’ part of the four. I enjoyed this piece quite a bit. It is cold outside, and this piece has a warm feeling. Chill-out music is much needed on short and cold winter days. Hiram does a great job here. It is slow, minimal, warm, not spectacularly different from what the world of ambient music has to offer, and a most enjoyable combination of electronics and acoustic instruments. Panta rei! (FdW)
––– Address:

DOC WÖR MIRRAN – PROGRESSIVE PUNK PUNK 9-12 (four mini CDR by Marginal Talent)
DOC WÖR MIRRAN -THE IRON SNOWFLAKE (two cassettes by Masking Tapes)

As I wrote twice about the concept behind Progressive Punk (Vital Weekly 1341 and 1325), I suggest you go there and re-read in case you no longer recall. The sessions at the foundation of these, by now, twelve mini CDrs, the equivalent of six LPs, prove rather fruitful. They took place for four years. In the floating membership, we find on ‘Number 9′ (that can’t be a coincidence) Klaus Voormann, bass player in Plastic Ono Band and Trio and designer of The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ album. Doc Wör Mirran loves a surprise. As I wrote before, I love Doc Wör Mirran, mainly because they are all over the place, from krautrock to ambient to free jazz. In the latter realm, we find the works in the ‘Progressive Punk’ series. Especially Adrian Gormley lets his saxophone rip through some of these pieces like he is in a smoky jazz basement. This time there is also an element of world music (is that still a term?) thrown in, which is something I hadn’t heard before. Don’t get me wrong. This side of Doc Wör Mirran might not be my favourite some of the pieces I thought were very good, such as ‘Locker-room Talk’ or the prog rocky ‘Little Fluffy Krauts’ (the titles are, as always, a hoot!). Perhaps it is all too far away from ‘our’ world. Doc Wör Mirran is a planet of its own.
    For me, of more musical interest is the double cassette ‘The Iron Snowflake’, which comes in a neat, small iron box that looks like a book. The music is dedicated to Karen Carpenter. This release diversifies from the regular Doc Wör Mirran release in that respect that usually core-member Joseph B. Raimond is at the controls. This time the mix is handled by each of the four members besides Raimond, Michael Würzer, Stefan Schweiger and Adrian Gormley. I assume each had the same music to play around with, as one hears certain elements returning in these pieces while other elements only appear once. In Schweiger’s piece, there is a synthesizer sound that sounds very much like early Legendary Pink Dots, but he also allows an ambient house-inspired rhythm to leap in. Also, Gormley has a mellow rhythm going in the background. Raimond and Würzer both emphasize a more industrialized rhythm to part of the music for a long time. I would think that none of the players added their instruments to their mix, but I might be wrong there. Schweiger and Gormley have the mellow side of ambient rhythms and sometimes are a bit too free in their mixing so they are searching for something rather too long. Raimond and Würzer are on the opposite end, occupied with a dystopian jackhammer, ruining civilisation, if ever there was one. (FdW)
––– Address:

TANTO & POOL PERVERT – LIFE REMOTE (cassette, private)

From Tanto I reviewed music before, a cassette, ‘ /ˈði​.​o/’, by Sublime Retreat, which I enjoyed very much. I felt his music was very much part of that whole lo-fi drone thing, and it is not a surprise to see him teaming with like-minded musicians. Egbert van der Vliet’s Pool pervert is a very likely candidate. The information is, as always, sparse. We learn nothing about who did what except that Pool pervert is responsible for the mix. I can imagine there has been some exchange of sound sources and whatever Tanto does in terms of processing. From Pool pervert, I know he uses free software to alter his sounds. I must admit that both work in similar musical territory, so there is no way of telling who did what in the end. The results are long, ninety minutes in total, and with (spoiler alert) the next Tanto collaboration also being very long, this is the kind of music one plays while doing something else. I had some manual activities this week, so this served as the perfect soundtrack for that. The slow-evolving sound of hissing, droning, and processed field recordings, ripped and stretched, works very well. Maybe a bit interchangeable with much of Pool Pervert’s work, who is very active these days, but I admit that I am a fan.
    Of a slightly different nature is the music that Tanto created with Sindre Bjerga. Bjerga is a different kind of musician than Pool pervert and someone who works with sounds a bit different. Using toys, radios, metal objects, Dictaphones, and sometimes his voice, Bjerga’s music is less drone-like and not so much part of the world of lo-fi ambient music. It is hard to say who does what here, again. According to the cover, the music took eleven years to make. I assume there are periods that they didn’t work on this. Also, both CDRs consist of smaller elements, even when it all flows into one long track. Like much of Bjerga’s work, this is more a collage of sounds; there are field recordings, contact microphones scratching the surface, obscured abuse of objects, and radio sounds; it all goes by in a seemingly endless stream of consciousness. Not the kind of music one should analyse, but rather just hearing this. Your brain will pick one thing or another, and then it will be gone. Other things you may not notice right away, but maybe a next time. Think of this as another form of ambient music. (FdW)
––– Address:
––– Address:

PACIFIC WALKER (cassette by Orphanology)

Behind Uncertain, we find Florian-Ayala Fauna from Buffalo, New York. She is described as “trans-femme, intersex interdisciplinary artist who knows something about productive darkness and antagonizing binaries, and who shies away from neither the sublime nor the terrifying”. I had not heard of her before. The credits speak of ‘production, sampling, synths, bells, gongs and recorders”, and that music should be interesting if you dig Coil, Current 93, Puce Mary, Cindy Talk, Ramleh, and such. The inspiration behind ‘The Descending Spirals Of Time’ comes from Coil’s Jhonn Balance notices that electric lightning destroyed the world of mythology and magic making. The sceptic that I am says that without electricity, it would have been a bit more challenging to make the music here or get the music across the pond so that I could hear it (alas, I wouldn’t have to think about the review). There are four pieces on this cassette, the average length being ten minutes. The opening piece, ‘Daughter Drowning In The Black River, is relatively mild, considering what comes next. The Current 93 reference is spot on but goes back to the group’s earliest days. Vocals and chants are looped and spiral around, along with bell-like sounds. In ‘The White Elk Mother Of The Sea And Moon’, there is even more darkness and ambience, with some faraway chants, slow percussion and water sounds. The music we find on the other side of the cassette shows, pun intended, an entirely different side of Uncertain. Here the music turns toward noise, with the painful crying of a child, religious chanting and field recordings from public places. Here to early, early Current 93 springs to mind (and that happens to be my favourite period of the group). It ends in a cascade of noise. She chooses a similar building for both pieces, from relative quietness to extreme noise. I am not sure if Uncertain is as yet uncertain which music fits best, but if choices have to be made, I’d prefer it goes in the direction of the first side.
    The other new cassette on Orphanology, a sub-division of Bluesanct is by Pacific Walker. The catalogue numbers in this series reflect the first letter of the band name, but this is ‘ ORPHAN00O’. Pacific Walker was formerly known as Odawas. I had not heard of them before, and I think they changed their name because they have a new member, percussionist and classical guitarist, Raphi Gottesman. He joined Michael Tapscott and Isaac Edwards; no instruments are mentioned for them. The guitar plays a vital role in ‘Mycelium Ab Astris Ad Astra I’, which is very melodic and very spacious. Still, in the second part, the music goes into a far more obscured territory, with a hazy, shimmery sound of textures from rusty cassettes. In the third part of the piece (all are individual pieces on the release), the melodic guitar meets the now slightly opened-up sound of drones and field recordings. Recorded one late evening, out in a field inhabited by crickets. This dual approach of field recordings, delicate, melodic guitar work and shimmering electronics. I have no idea how the latter are made; they might be synthesizers, guitars and loop pedals or more software-based. It sounds great. The six pieces on this cassette have a beautiful ambient feeling. Slow music, slow development and minimal gestures. Despite some of the haziness in the electronics, the music doesn’t connect with the lo-fi ambient scene; there was not that gritty, hissy, mechanics broken, magnetic erased quality. The music stayed in a more familiar ambient territory. Lovely piece for slow and dark days. (FdW)
––– Address:

BRIAN RURYK – TOUGH CROWD (cassette by Eye Of The Phallus)

A cassette glued in a package that needs to be destroyed before you can play the damn thing. Not my thing. I have reviewed music by Canadian guitarist Brian Ruryk before, including ‘No Gigs No Tour Dates’ released days before the world shut down in 2020 (Vital Weekly 1228). I assume he plays live again. Where else would you find a tough crowd? That is not to say that this is a live album per se. Maybe these are recordings made at home, and for good measure, Ruryk threw in some recordings from audiences. I don’t know. There are quite a few pieces on this cassette that, so it seems, are cut-ups from various recordings or contain different layers; still, the music can be recorded in concert. There is certainly a random aspect to the music. Of course, there is a fair of noise too, but that’s the style of Ruryk. It’s loud, it’s wild, and it rocks, even without the drums. ‘Letter To A Potential Burglar Pt. 2’ is a rock thing. But here, too, I believe Ruryk mixed a few guitar pieces into one wild mix. The forty-two minutes of this cassette never allow a quiet moment as one rolls from chaos into the next. Bandcamp says twenty-seven tracks, but it all sounds like one long track on cassette. When there is a bit of air in the music (‘Woodmount Sprinkler At 2 AM, for instance), you better use that one minute and twenty-nine seconds because you need it. There are three covers in here of Don van Vliet’s ‘Sweet Sweet Bulbs’, but me not the Beefheartian, so I can’t say anything sensible about that. But nevertheless an excellent exercise in guitar noise, this cassette. (FdW)
––– Address:


On Bandcamp, there are a lot of words by Chun-Liang Liu about her cassette and the individual pieces, but not a lot of words about her. I think, and that is solely based on playing this album, she is a voice artist. She recorded the music in the past two years straight to her iPhone SE2 using voice memo. “Making sounds channeled my anxiety, boredom, happiness, and nameless feelings”, as she describes it. Of course, the last two years have been, for many musicians, not easy staying at home, and maybe we should see this album as such. Whoever ‘they’ are, mentioned in the title, I don’t find the music that black at all. Liu is a voice artist in the best tradition of Jaap Blonk. She uses her mouth to extract the weirdest sounds, and sometimes she uses words, such as in ‘I’m Sorry For Your Loss’, dedicated to the memory of Benjamin Landau and Jeremy Kiesman. I am unsure how she works, but I think her music has various layers mixed into a track. This is best exemplified in ‘Ima So Freakin’ Mad’, where she uses multiple voices. At times the music is pretty radical, with lots of shouting, and it all becomes very abstract, but Liu also has more reflective moments. With the screaming, I can see where some of the darkness comes from – grim times indeed. At fifty minutes, perhaps a somewhat extended release, but that is also because the music is quite extreme. Do not file under easy listening. (FdW)
––– Address:


Shame File Music boss Clinton Green teams up with Ian Andrews, of Astasie-abasie fame, but also known for his work as The Horse He’s Sick and Cut With The Kitchen Knife. Both musicians create environments in which they use mechanics to touch objects, usually involving a turntable gently; or more than one, which I find even more likely. They play music by moving objects within reach of the turntable and taking them away. The objects are touched with small pieces of metal or wood, giving them a gentle touch. In the two pieces on the first side, there is that peaceful, breezy sound of accidental hits and strokes, very percussive in that sort of wind chime sense of the word. My favourite piece is the one that is a bit different, and that’s ‘Chiming’. The rotations are guided by drones, sustaining strokes of a bow upon metal objects, which adds a mysterious, darkish colour to the music. The percussion also has a slightly different texture, sounding from another room. ‘Blocking’ seems to work with a more muted sound without sustaining. ‘Winding’ and ‘Gonging’, both on the first side of this cassette, have an open sound, resembling, perhaps, the approaches that I know from either musician’s solo work. In a way, I was reminded of Z’EV, but in his most delicate approach to the thinnest of his percussion pieces, but Green and Andrews work in a more randomised way. I’d be curious to know to what extent these pieces are improvised and how much of this is planned. (FdW)
––– Address:

DREKKA – NOTES: STONES (IN SOLIDARITY) (cassette by Blue Sanct)

Somewhere along the lines, I seem to have lost the definition of things. Somewhere, someone started to use the word ‘mixtape’ for what I always assumed to be a cassette of favourite tracks that you give to the girl of your dreams. But I came across the word ‘this is an album of new music’, but perhaps this is only in a different, parallel universe. That is not the case with this Drekka cassette, as this is a mix indeed. Drekka created this mix for the Sonic Liberation Front on Radio Alhara, curated by Abdullah Al Taher. In this hour-long mix, we find thirteen pieces, including an opening and closing statement, Mark Trecka. Drekka has five pieces of music part of this, and furthermore, there is music by Remst8, Tremble Of You, Bana Haffar (two pieces), Remst8 & Drekka and one more by Trecka. I love the music, don’t get me wrong there, as this a wonderful slow mix of great pieces of moody electronics, nocturnal field recordings, processed instruments, and a bit of piano. Quickly I lost count of where we were in the mix. I had a question about this release: why put this out on a cassette? Granted, the Bandcamp release is for free, and I recommend all out there to download this work as the music fits very well together, and there is, no doubt, a good cause behind it, even when it is hard to know who did what on this cassette. Fanatics should obtain the cassette. (FdW)
––– Address:

GIACOMO ZANUS – INSIDE A FRAME (cassette by Esc. Rec)
MIKAEL SZAFIROWSKI – FERRIC 90 (cassette by Esc. Rec)

While I would think that Esc. Rec shops around in the same world of musicians covered by Vital Weekly, they always come up with names that are new to me. Take, for instance, this latest bunch. I started with Italian composer/improviser Giacomo Zanus. The four pieces on ‘Sonic Frames’ take inspiration “from the concept behind the last visual work of the Iranian filmmaker, poet and photographer Abbas Kiarostami (24frames) to fix four imaginary landscapes -both composed and improvised- where the ongoing fluctuation of different layers and the constant renewal of new details mark the chain of events”. I am not familiar with the work of Kiarostami, but I read about it and will investigate more when time allows. Zanus’ principal instrument is the guitar, which is an electric one or an amplified acoustic (or semi-acoustic), but next to that, he uses electronics. These he applies in the most gentle way to the guitar, along with the sparse use of field recordings. The music has a strong, delicate edge, with a few meanier undercurrents. These happen mainly in the opening track ‘Iro’, with some nasty high frequencies being part of some very gentle yet speedy guitar picking. ‘Punto Di Non Ritorno’ leans heavily on drones from the guitar, rain sounds and far-away picking. In “Hana, ” the music is almost laptop-like, stuttering, and in ” Defaticamento Cerebrale, ” this feeling continues but is way more fragile. A relatively short tape, but a wonderful one at that.
    From Helsinki hails Mikael Szafirowski, who grew up with the music of Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, MTV and the music library. He calls Neff Irizarry, Gilius van Bergijk, Fred Frith, Alfred Zimmerlin and Volker Böhm his mentors and works with found sound and electronics. He works with sound synthesis but started as an improviser. He lives in the Netherlands, where he became a founder member of Rooie Waas, Naked Wolf and the Royal Improvisers orchestra and worked with groups such as  Zugabe and Gajar Girl. Found sound opens his cassette but quickly takes on a more abstract course in his music. He has two pieces on his cassette. One is almost fourteen minutes, and one is ten minutes. That’s a pity because he plays some rather fine music. If this is in some way improvised, then he hides that side pretty well, as it all sounded composed and planned. The sound is quite playful, going over the place. In ‘Play’, he uses found spoken word about cassettes and tunes into shortwave stations, with the computer offering some brittle tones, bending, stretching and granulating. It all makes for excellent radiophonic work. For ‘Rewind’, one would think he uses the sounds of tapes rewinding, and maybe he does. Here too, Szafirowski does a great job at computer music that, for once, sounded fresh and exciting and not too complex or with worn-out ideas. But, as I said, way too short for my liking.
    Length-wise, the shortest release is by Lamiee (or rather LAMIEE), and “the imaginary collective Hystrix Kitsch, an extremely changeable and constantly mutating ensemble. A liquid form without gravity, but extremely dense”. Behind Lamiee is Nicholas Remondino, who we know (a bit) as one-half of ŌTONN (what is this love for capitals?). ‘Patchwork.’ (the full stop is part of the title) is one track, nearly seventeen minutes, but divided into shorter, independent sections. I didn’t understand the description of the music, something to do with stones, the rhythmic tools of humans “to open a nut or play paleo-techno”. As far as I judge such matters, Remondino samples drums, voices, and synthesizers, and the blender cooks a heavy meal for you. Some friends (or are they the imaginary ensemble?) provide bass, voice, and tenor saxophone. You must be in for a wild ride. Cut-up techno meets pop, plunderphonics, drones, and a lot of processing is going on. There is very little to hold on to. As soon you think, ‘oh, this could be a song’, for instance, in the opening minutes, it is effectively ruined in the next minute or so. Much of this deals with glitches, which reminded me of DAT Politics and that kind of music that was popular some twenty years ago. It is not to say that Lamiee is an all-attack on the senses. Just as easily, he slips into something quieter, as a transition from one bit to the next. I thought this was very wacky music, perhaps a parody of pop music and electro-acoustic music simultaneously. Ultimately it was also very tiring music, so in the end, the briefness of the music wasn’t too bad. (FdW)
––– Address: