Number 1374

ROEL MEELKOP – REST IN SPACE (CD by Turntable Tapes) *
JOCELYN ROBERT – ROBJ590531 (USB by Merles) *
KALLABRIS – RED CIRCLE (LP by Auf Abwegen) *
DAVID WALLRAF – L’OMBILIC DES LIMBES (10″ lathe cut, private) *
RUMORE AUSTERO – PRAGMA (CDR by Scatole Sonore)  *
RUMORE AUSTERO – INNESTO (CDR by Scatole Sonore) *
VON HEUSER – WHOLELY MOLEY (cassette by Superpolar Taips) *
YOCKO O.NE FEAT. PRINZ-IP – O.H.E. -ACTION- B-W R.I.FF. -MINOX- (cassette by Superpolar Taips) *
OLOLOLOP & ARAKAWA ATSUSHI & ZEA – SOYOKAZE (cassette by Makkum Recors)
GAUCHOIR/THOMAS BECKA – ALCÔVE 8 (split cassette by Alcôve) *
AARON MYERS-BROOKS – OBLIQUE (digital release on New Focus Recordings) *

ROEL MEELKOP – REST IN SPACE (CD by Turntable Tapes)

Sometimes you see bands or projects that haven’t released anything in ages, and suddenly: they’re back. At other times you see labels that haven’t released anything in forever, and *whoomp* there it is… again. This time it concerns an artist that releases quite often (Roel Meelkop) and is a welcome name in Vital Weekly, but the label… Turntable Tapes – how META can you get: Vinyl and cassette in a single name – releases something for the first time since 1986. And to make the META concept even stronger, it’s a proper CD.
    I’ve written a few times about Roel in the recent Vitals, and each time I am confronted with the silence or, better said, ‘the absence of sound’ in his compositions. For me, this absence gives a lot of his work a certain fragility because, in this absence, you open yourself up for input or reactions of the listener, especially in live situations that is a difficult thing (coughing, phones, talking audience, you know). But “Rest In Space” is different. This almost 50 minutes doesn’t have this silence yet … The choice of sounds – we know him better than that, should be read as the thoroughly designed sounds – and the purity of the whole composition still creates that fragility differently. The fragility is there, but there is no opening anywhere, so there is no opening to be confronted with the absence of sound.
    This absence of silence gives the concept behind this album, as written on the cover – learning to cope with the loss of loved ones – a very remarkable depth. We are all confronted with a loss at times, but we all handle it differently. And sometimes we don’t need to talk about it (or give a particular space or opening for it), but we just cope. We lock ourselves away for an hour and don’t need to be confronted with silence, but we’ll let our thoughts meander and listen to music while we just ‘are’. For fans of experimental drones, the first album to be considered for the best of 2023 list. (BW)
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more about this album and interview with Roel Meelkop:


While I readily admit that I think Eliane Radigue is among the best composers of drone-based music, I confess that I don’t know much about her. Many of her works are for electronics, but she also composes for instruments and ‘Occam Delta XV’ is a work she wrote for the Bozzini Quartet. The ‘Occam Delta’ pieces are compositions for instruments, violin, cello, bassoon, tuba and so on. I understand that Radigue “transmitted ‘Occam Delta VX’ to QB through an oral composition process, which, given Radigue’s experience with electronic instruments, was the most natural way of communicating”, which I found a curious statement. Like her electronic pieces, the music is drone-like and calls for meditation. Maybe that’s why I had difficulty getting my head around a review here. Every time I play this CD, I fall back into a state of slumber, meditation or whatever form of relaxation. I play this is a moderate volume, even conversing with guests without stopping the music or even making a phone call, and all along, this music flows around. The disc contains two versions, which we’re told are subtly different, but given the length of the pieces, I could say what these differences are, not that I find such a thing necessary. I assume the Bozzini Quartet feels the same way; the devil might be in the details, but it’s not necessary to spot them. That’s at least what I took from the fact that there are two versions of the same piece on this CD. There is, throughout this piece, a very light touch by which the strings are played, but they are always played in strict continuous movements, and thus an intricate web overlapping strings become a drone. Not a drone in the classical sense of the word, but it covers up the various details of the music if you get my drift. A beautiful release indeed. I always love Radigue’s music, even when I am not always aware of all the background information, I guess, or the fact that I may lack some traditional music knowledge. (FdW)
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Although I love the releases by Cold Blue Music, I admit that I don’t know why they keep sending them. More than once, I must have written that no one at Vital Weekly is well-versed in the world of modern composed music. Nothing about scales, octaves and tunings; well, not much. In my reviews, I re-tell what the press information tells me and what I think of the music. These three new releases will get no different treatment. Oddly enough, all three deal with percussion music if take the piano into that group of instruments. The shortest release here is only piano. Bryan Pezzone plays two compositions by Nicholas Chase. He’s a composer and performer, and prestigious orchestras and ensembles perform his works. Pezzone is a pianist who played on more than 100 film scores and recorded for Cold Blue, Mode, Tzadik, Decca etc. That is, in a nutshell, all there is to know. Two pieces of piano music, the first is ‘Zuowang’, which means ‘sitting, forgetting’. This is a slow and meditative piece of music, and my obvious references would be Claude Debussy and Erik Satie, but that’s my lack of knowledge in these matters. For me, this is very much the sort of music I like to play when I get up in the morning. I don’t have to think about doing music reviews (yet!), and I like to play quiet music. Usually, more ambient based, but occasionally something like Simeon ten Holt or, in fact, Satie. The reflective mood continues in the title piece but slowly picks up speed and more notes and becomes quite lyrical and, indeed, a form of tiny thunder. I am not fully awake!
    Also, a solo instrument, the vibraphone, can be found in the ‘The Basketweave Elegies’ by Peter Garland. Here the instrument is played by William Winant. Garland is responsible for one of my favourite Cold Blue Music releases, ‘Moon Viewing Music’ (Vital Weekly 1117). Garland is fond of basketry, and the work is a homage to the late Ruth Asawa, known for her woven wire sculptures. Garland likes the craft that goes into basketry and sees his music as part of that craft tradition: do something well. I always like the vibraphone sound, and the nine relatively short pieces here are in the form of the rondeau. There are four declamatory, ‘core’ movements (2, 4, 6, 8) and five lyric refrains, 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. Each section is named after what it sounds like, ‘Very Quiet, Still’, ‘Lyric, Tranquil’ or ‘Bright Clear’. I guess that makes life easy for the reviewer, as my perception of quiet, bright, vigorous, radiant etc, is much like that of Garland. Thus the nine pieces move around in various delicate moods, and the vibraphone sounds like a bell or muted, whatever the mood brings. The clear pieces make this less of an early morning record, but throughout, I enjoyed these pieces a lot. Joyful music it is most of the time, a bit sad at other times and like so many Cold Blue Music, it has that fine spring breeze (that I long for on this cold day!).
    On ‘Halcyon Days’, a set of seven compositions by Michael Byron, we find five pieces for percussion. William Winant plays tubular bells, maracas and marimbas, while the William Winant Percussion Group plays the marimbas, xylophones, glockenspiels and vibraphones. The other two pieces are for piano, one for piano four hands (by the Ray-Kallay duo) and one solo (by Lisa Moore). I understand that these are old pieces from 1972, 1974 and 1978, and the last is from 2016. The tubular bells piece is the oldest and is called ‘Drifting Music’, an excellent piece of shifting sounds that slowly amass overtones, which is also the approach taken in ‘Music Of Every Night’, but then with maracas and marimbas. Of course, I like minimal music, drones and overtones, and it’s great to hear it played on acoustic instruments. Minimalism is also the word used to describe the final percussion (three-part) piece ‘Music Of Steady Light’, but it seems to be less working the overtones, mainly in the second part where they play xylophones and glockenspiels. Minimal but with an opener sound. I was less charmed by the four piano hands in ‘Starfields’, which I found pretty chaotic. The final piece, ‘Tender, Infinitely Tender’, does exactly that; being tender and Moore’s piano playing gently moves along. A fitting ending to this trio of releases on the Cold Blue Music label; we end where we started. (FdW)
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From this duo, I reviewed their debut CD, ‘Where The Wolf Has Been Seen’ (Vital Weekly 1156), but not the follow-up LP, ‘A River Flowing Home To The Sea’. Maze is Pierre de Mûelenaere and Lindhom is Otto Lindholm. Lindholm played the double bass back then, and whatever Maze did wasn’t clear. This time they offer the first volume of what could be a series of meditative music. In a renovated watermill in France, they sat down with an old music box and recorded what they call “radical meditative music on the borders of contemporary ambient” instead of classic ambient (well, that’s what I assume). The contemporary aspect lies that it’s not your usual long form, sustaining ambient pads, but the highly amplified music box, feeding through a bunch of pedals. Delay and reverse delay, maybe some pitch devices, and a healthy dose of reverb are at play. Maybe this reverb is the windmill’s natural environment, or perhaps it comes from more electronic devices. The music is minimal in that the box sound is always treated and otherwise, but things keep crackling and bursting. The music box is very much alive in this massive amplification, recording every movement of the box, all the mechanics, and so on, becoming an integral element of the music. That certainly adds to the vibrant aspect of the music. Indeed, perhaps, we could call contemporary ambient. Not really ambient, but if not that, then what is this? Good question, to which I don’t have an answer. (FdW)
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JOCELYN ROBERT – ROBJ590531 (USB by Merles)

Here we have a problematic bundle. It is a difficult decision about where I should start. I know Joycelyn Robert’s music as part of the world of contemporary music, both when composed for instruments and electronics. These three new releases have both ends. On one end, there is a double CD with works for the church organ and on the other, a work involving writing and AI audio software. In between is an electronic work, more or less. It is, of the three pieces, also his most personal work. In the winter of 2021, Robert was diagnosed with throat cancer, leading to a painful (and successful) radiotherapy and chemotherapy. He tried, for as long as he could, to produce new music, and once Robert recovered, he listened to the material he could barely remember creating. He was surprised by their quality and released them on a USB stick which looked like a watch, carrying his hospital ID. The two pieces span fifty-five minutes and are a wild ride in sampled electronics, piano material and guitars. At times, these pieces are shocking and rocking loud, which I haven’t heard much about in his previous work. Maybe some of the confused state of the composer’s mind is what we hear in this music. A particular element of randomness seems to be part of it, either by placing elements next to each other or juxtaposing them. It’s at times very noisy and at other times quite ambient, such as the insect sounds of ‘La Septième Vague’, slowly disintegrating and morphing into a myriad of acoustic sounds. This is the more coherent of the two pieces, whereas ‘Le Grand Cirque’ takes quite a chaotic route.
    ‘The Ballad Of Peach Blossom Spring’ is a work about AI. Robert writes that to “obtain some interesting output from AI software, one to input prompt text, and the invention of an interesting sentence in these conditions generates a specific type of writing”. As part of his residency in The Netherlands (at the Speelklok Museum in Utrecht), he worked on pieces in which he modified the works until both text and music were satisfying for the composer. AI becomes, for him, “assisted intelligence”. In this album, he uses the AI software from this website, and I tried it using the same track titles as Robert has for his pieces, with much the same result. I believe many of the sounds come from, but I might be wrong that I found it most interesting, even when the whole AI thing that spreads like a virus over social media has very little of my interest. Robert has thirty-one, mostly short pieces, from around a minute to two, with one being three. I admit that I don’t know what to make of this album. I enjoy the briefness of the pieces, and the fact that it is all over the place, and at the same time, there is very little to hold on to here, which made it more difficult for me. Most of the time, field recordings are used, a bit of words (Robert’s or otherwise; I am not sure) and some musical bits. Like his USB device, this is a wild ride but of a different nature. That was more personal and perhaps also less ‘fun’. Here, it is about ‘let’s throw some sounds in the air and see what will happen’. Something of a surprise indeed.
    The final release is a double CD of another commission, this time in Guerande, France, at the Collegiale St-Aubin. The church houses a midi-controllable pipe organ, and Robert created ten new pieces here. Say, for instance, a composition made with the input of light resistors placed under a tree and the sun rays control the input; with the change of the sun, the resistors change. This is the only example described, so I am not sure what other midi he applied in these pieces. Playing these pieces after the bumpy ride of the other two releases, these hundred minutes of organ music is quite a breath of fresh air. But I guess that only goes as sofar one listens on a quieter level. Turn up the volume a bit, and you’ll notice it is all a bit weirder than usual. Here too, I’d say there is an element of randomness at work, with whatever midi treatment/light signal is used and at that time that gives us a wonderfully strange combination of the church organ (with all its religious connotations) and bizarre melodic fragments, curious changes and all that on the organ. Curiously enough, there is also a meditative aspect to the music, which brought me a pleasant state of relaxation. But I was up for that after all the chaos Robert inflicted on me earlier. However, I wish there was more information available about the process behind the music. The revealed thing made me curious to learn more about the process. (FdW)
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For a moment, I thought this was the re-issue market going bonkers. Didn’t I review a CD with this title two weeks ago? While I said, it was the best piece on the CD, I don’t think it needed a re-issue on LP immediately. I am wrong, of course, not for the first time. I am just confused by the words ‘Flux Worlds’. Effectively, this LP is an extension of the double CD and contains a recording from a concert from January 2022 at the “Ultraschall Berlin – Festival für Neue Musik” at Heimathafen Neukölln, and Zsolt Sőrés plays with some guests, such as Franz Hautzinger (trumpet), Anthea Caddy (cello), Judith Hamann (cello) and Mihály Kádár (live sound, effects). The man himself is on the 5-String Viola, Cymbal on the Top of the Viola, Vibrating Objects, Mole-Rat Electromagnetic Field Explorer, Domino Synth, and an EBow. One Jozef Cseres delivers the liner notes, which I didn’t quite comprehend, but I loved the words “sonic fiction” in there. I understand there is some composition at the core of all of this, but I believe there is some freedom of interpretation. Like with his double CD, improvisation plays an important role, going hand in hand with a love for all things sonically forceful. This LP connects to the final piece on the 2CD in that this is, most of the time, at least, a work of loud, aggressive droning. The instruments are all amplified, there is some voice material (on the second side), and the ritual aspect plays a role. I wrote that this is the kind of music by Zsolt Sőrés where I can see a dialogue with sounds and instruments, and that’s what works best here. Buy the LP and download the music; thus, it is possible to enjoy the whole work uninterrupted. I know, people like vinyl, but in work like this, I think the constant flow is an important factor for enjoyment. (FdW)
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A few other projects came in the slipstream of Germany’s Cranioclast, such as ABGS, Core, and Kallabris. That was in the late 80s and early 90s. I always assumed they were just different names for the same people making music together. At one point, much later, I realized this was an independent project and only connected through the CoC label. Behind Kallabris is Michael Anacker, and since the mid-80s, there has been a string of releases and even the odd concert, so there is hardly much mystery. As I play ‘Red Circle’, I think Kallabris embraced the modular synthesizer community. The eleven pieces have that modern electronic feel of carefully constructed tones and fragmented cracks. Much to my surprise, I read in the information that “technical and compositional innovation is not at the core the group’s work but the active engagement with the limitations and the objects of everyday life”. Plus, Kallabris “has persistently neglected any usage of advanced recording technology”, which doesn’t exclude the use of modular synthesis, but I found it at least remarkable. The press information calls his set a “small modular synthesizer”, which, last time I looked, seemed out of my financial league. I found these pieces to be most enjoyable, even when it is all a bit abstract and distant. There are a few sounds here and there, but it never completely shuts off. On a first encounter, the music had an aleatoric feeling, but after some repeated playing, it turns out that there is order in this madness; or, maybe, I recognized order in what remained chaos? Hard to tell, but every time I heard it, it grew further on me. Interesting album! (FdW)
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A duo with a long name consisting of two Brazilians in Berlin, Marina Cyrino (amplified piccolo and alto flute) and Matthias Koole (electric guitar). The two took inspiration from drawings from the 1864 book, Handbook of Calisthenics and Gymnastics: A complete Drill-book with Music to Accompany the Exercises by J. Watson. The duo used these, too, to remain fit during the various periods of lockdown in the last three years. We could try and see if there is a relationship between the title, Donkey Kick’ and the music, but such a thing never worked out for me. I see it more as a way to get the ball rolling. But it remains, by the end of the day, improvised music. The ICNISP use the whole trickery from the world of improvised music, and especially the flutes go to great length here to play a different sound. They use “object and preparations, inside amplification and no-input mixing, ” yet still remain quite close to the world of improvised. Especially the guitar is to be recognized as such. It must be their thematic approach, as there is certainly quite the vibrancy in these recordings. I can imagine that these involve quite some physical action. One could say there is a punky attitude in these recordings, especially on the first side of the record, with its seven pieces of concentrated improvisation. I imagine their ‘Duck Walk’ doesn’t match Chuck Berry’s. ‘Full Arch’ is the piece that covers all of the second side of the record, in which all of the action comes together, but that results in a more standard, longer improvised recording and even when the various physical actions are in here, it also gets a bit lost. I preferred the more concentrated and concise actions of the first side. (FdW)
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DAVID WALLRAF – L’OMBILIC DES LIMBES (10″ lathe cut, private)

A highly limited 10″ lathe cut record (they always are), thirty copies only, contains only one piece of music, just under six minutes. You can be sure that I think that is the downside here. At the core of the piece is a recording of a bass clarinet by Michel Chevalier, but the rest is all music from David Wallraf. He plays synth, drum machine, loops, tapes, guitar and metals. The piece builds up and up, growing in intensity. The guitar is played with a bow, and many other instruments can’t be heard, as Wallraf paints a very dark picture in which a lot is happening. Right from the start, there are these busy patterns, and here we may recognize the synth and metals or even the drum machine. Once past the two-minute break, Wallraf opens a front line of reverb machines, and the rusty sounds of many bowing instruments drift by like a heap of zombies at night. While loud, the piece never becomes too noisy, and there might be a lot of reverb, way down one recognizes the instruments, barely towards the end. And that’s it, I’m afraid. I wouldn’t have minded a B-side to this record, perhaps with a piece that is the reverse. Starting with an explosion and then slowly backing down. (FdW)
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Karen Stackpole and Bill Noertker have been playing as a duo for more than ten years. Stackpole utilises gongs, and Noertker plays the double bass. Together they conjure up a soundscape that is both eerie and captivating. Using bows and other types of tools to get sound out of the gong, Stackpole skillfully whips out harmonics in several octaves, Noertker does the same with his bow on the double bass. Metallic harmonics on both instruments (the strings on the double bass are metal wound) make for a rich harmonic soundscape that is shifted slowly in some parts of the music. In other parts, percussive sounds from the double bass are added, especially in Leapfrogging. Long lines of bowing cut short with support of muted gong sounds make for an interesting interlude. Also, the way Stackpole plays her gongs, they almost sound electronic. But it’s all analogue. The name talking frog refers to a cosmic being, a frog. A quick search revealed that ancient Egyptians (Nun) and the Aboriginals (Tiddalik) had frog-related origin stories. All pieces of music have frog-related titles. The first one, called ‘jug o’ rum for amphibians’, made me think of the frogs scene in E.T. in which E.T. gets intoxicated, albeit by beer instead of rum and Elliot as well, making him free the frogs. Anyway, back to the music. The release is a breath of fresh air, a spacious affair with many small details. You could let the music wash over you, or you could listen attentively to what details and interactions are to be discovered here. It’s not to be confused with new-age music; too much is happening, and the harmonics and melodies are too disconnected to get that label. In short: I think this is an excellent release, and you’ll have to way until the beginning of May to get a physical release. So hop over to Bandcamp to listen to this and take a leap into this cosmic pond. I highly recommend it! (MDS)
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Ever since discovering Illusion Of Safety, which I believe must have been around 1988, a new release by the group (of which Dan Burke is the founding member and, at times, the sole member, but which also included Tymme Jones, Kurt Griesch and Jim O’Roukre, and others) is listened to first, regardless what the mailman schlepped in otherwise. I must have seen the group at least fifteen times and most fondly remember one night in Extrapool when after a usual improvised set, Burke asked the few spectators, you want some more, and then played another set (with Griesch), and then another one. In more recent years, it seems as if there is less new material by Illusion Of Safety, and I am not sure why that is. For ‘Organ Choir Drone’, Burke teams up with No Part Of It label boss Arvo Zylo; they made a selection of raw material, including Burke’s first experiments with the Eurorack in 2010. In Burke’s words, this new music distils “the modes and methods I’ve been using for some years: field recordings, electronics, electro-acoustic, and synthesis”. All of this is the music he does best. Some of the material was used as it was found in the archive, and others were used as building blocks for new pieces. With all the classic trademarks in place, ‘Organ Choir Drone’ is another excellent release (do I need to point out that I am biased?). Seven vital pieces of electronic music, the crackling of contact microphones and the field recordings, all in beautifully crafted collage-styled music. At times neatly noise-based and, at other times, poetically quiet, such as in ‘Organic Pistons’. , or the opening of ‘Waste Of Civilization (titles, s often before, point towards a more pessimistic feeling). That track continues to grow with long-form drones, piercing electronics, radio waves, and static. Illusion Of Safety creates uneasy music, and that’s what I love about it most. Dense and dystopian and yet also beautiful. The improvisational element, which was more present in some of the recent works, is pushed a bit to the background and only seems to appear in ‘Groundswell Horns’. All of this has the markings of another classic Illusion Of Safety releasee, doing what they always do and doing it very well. (FdW)
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The word ‘strange’ works on different levels here. First, there is the practical level. One CDR has eight tracks and is seventy minutes; the other has two and is only twenty-two minutes. I have no idea why that is. As far as I can see, there is no concept or other reason for that. Also, I found this to be a bit strange on the musical level. Rumere Austero is a duo of Marco Carcasi, who gets credit for field recordings, synth, contact microphones, effects, stylophone and objects, while Giordano Giorgi plays the guitars and ‘old effects’ (that’s how Google translates ‘effetti vecchi’). The strangeness lies in the fact that I think it’s not always an easy marriage. There are times in which Giorgi plays his guitar rather melodically, maybe a bit weird, but still with repeated phrases. Carcasi adds his eerie soundscapes of randomized sampled sounds to these guitar parts. And somehow, the two ends don’t always work together very well. It is almost as if there are two independent unites of recorded music, and these get stuck together. Especially when there are guest musicians adding percussion or trumpet, things get even more convoluted. I sense the idea here, I think, and that’s to play moody music. The guitar, melodic and otherwise, plays moody tunes and carefully constructed drones, whereas Carcasi’s electronics do much the same. And, don’t get me wrong, sometimes it works, such as in ‘Il Vento D’Improvviso S’Arresta’. Here the guitar gets plucked, the synth plays a moody drone, and the rhythm is created with the end groove of a record. As I said, I couldn’t see much difference between both discs, as they seemed to have very much the same ideas behind them. At times, they were pretty much okay, and at times I had no idea what they were doing. The last thing I found a bit strange was mastering the music, which seemed to be quite loud and perhaps not in spirit with the more careful approach of the music. (FdW)
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VON HEUSER – WHOLELY MOLEY (cassette by Superpolar Taips)
YOCKO O.NE FEAT. PRINZ-IP – O.H.E. -ACTION- B-W R.I.FF. -MINOX- (cassette by Superpolar Taips)

Slowly the cassette singles series by Superpolar Taips reaches its conclusion. I believe it is already a bigger adventure than what the label originally had in mind. In these three cases, I am confronted with all new names. First, there is the duo of Goodparley (aka Oli Richards) from London but originally from Cardiff and Shreddies (Josh Dickens), who is from Wales and runs the label New Haven Tapes. The two use guitar, synthesizer pads, and rhythms and have, for this series, relatively long pieces of music. Both pieces are five minutes. ‘Soundtrack For A Hummingbird’ is a breezy piece of alternative pop music, highly melodic with those intertwining ambient lines of both instruments, held together by a filtered Casio rhythm. On the other side is ‘Marine Blue’, which shows this duo in a more experimental techno version. Here the rhythm is pretty straightforward, 4/4 bounce with some skips, and along there is a bunch of sounds that get a dubby treatment. A piece of ambient dub had it not that the beat not always keeps a straight line. Maybe some would call that the experimental touch. Most enjoyable and certainly a group worthwhile to have a full length of.
    No further information was received about as long as the cassette single by an artist called Von Heuser. The title piece is a delicate piece of ambient music with a lovely groove organ loop/drone, meandering slowly about. According to Superpolar Taips it has a Stereolab-kind of vibe to it, but I am not sure I agree there. Maybe I should dive into Stereolab again? Haven’t heard them in a long time. On the other side, we find the curiously named ‘Covid 4 Export 1’, which one could call ambient as well, but it’s ambient of another dimension. The first side is a go-with-the-flow piece of music, whereas the flip has a grittier sound, stuck more in a loop form, and on top, there is a mildly piercing synth melody. I think I had a slight preference for the first piece, but I enjoyed them both. Here too, a full-length album would be welcome to see what else Von Heuser has up the sleeve.
    The final entry in this penultimate series is by Yocko feat. Prinz-Ip, names one could label as German humour (I love it). Behind Yocko we find Andreas Gogol, who made appearances on a Guido Möbius record as a vocalist and had a CD on A-Musik in 2005. No information on the prince, however. ‘O.H.E -action’ is one of those unclassifiable German wacky tunes you never hear otherwise. A scratchy record, with looped vocals that could be from the world of breakbeats and rap but ultimately not a lyric to be understood, ending in a silly weirdness. I must say I enjoyed the other side (which, come time and there is a compilation of all tracks, will be lost, as only the a-sides will be re-issued) much better. ‘R.I.FF. -minox’ is a sorrowful tune of synthesizer sounds and a fine bass synth/guitar. This is a very filmic piece of music that needs to be heard by a bigger audience than the lucky ten people who have this on cassette. (FdW)
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OLOLOLOP & ARAKAWA ATSUSHI & ZEA – SOYOKAZE (cassette by Makkum Recors)

One of the great things about this cassette is that I can mention the Occii, Amsterdam’s finest space when it comes to strange music, next to De Ruimte, and both are about the only reasons I head out to the city at all. In September 2022, they celebrated their 30th anniversary, and two of the attractions were the Japanese acts Olololop and Arakawa Atsushi. Zea, also known as Arnold de Boer (also known as the singer of The Ex), who works at the Occii, took them to see the city and to the Katzwijm Studio, where they recorded some improvisations. Atsushi plays sampler, Zea, guitar, voice and tambourine, and Olololop is a trio of Masaru on PC mid drums, Ren on saxophone and Takuro on percussion. Ever since this cassette arrived, I have been playing it, thinking about it and postponing a review. That sometimes happens. The ‘problem’ (there is none) is not that I don’t like it, but I feel at times a bit lost here. I like what I hear, especially the side-long ‘The First Time We Meet’, with its minimalist drive, playing on what seems like a bunch of toys, slowly spiralling out of control, so that’s not a problem. Some of the album’s more improvised elements, especially when the saxophone goes in a freaky mode, are not so much for me, but overall I enjoy it. Where do I lose it, then, you may ask? I honestly don’t know. Maybe I think I may lack the vocabulary to describe this adequately. The music is improvised, quite acoustic, but with Zeaa’s guitar ripping at times through it all. There is also a distinctly non-Western feeling; oddly enough, there’s even a sort of attempt at a pop song, which works really well. Maybe there is too much variation here? Perhaps that’s the ‘problem’… (FdW)
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GAUCHOIR/THOMAS BECKA – ALCÔVE 8 (split cassette by Alcôve)

The French label Alcôve seems to be releasing only split cassettes. This time with music by Thomas Becka, one of two label bosses, and Gauchoir. He works at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (also known, more commonly, as GRM), and he has four pieces created with modular synthesis. In these pieces, Gauchoir has a crystal clear sound of more extended sustaining tones battling with shorter ones. It’s drone music sometimes, yet not the sort that puts the listener in a meditative mood. These modules are louder and sharpish. Gauchoir composes music with the modules rather than doing an exercise, a show-off or a try-out, which sometimes happens with music of this kind. The tracks are between six and nine minutes and perhaps could use some trimming around the edges. Still, I thought this was all great music.
    For Thomas Becka, this is his first release and of which we learned that it’s “produced by editing sounds generated by processing different source material with max/MSP. His five pieces are quite a bit shorter than the four by Gouchair (who also provided one bonus track in the download). I think his source material may include guitar sounds; otherwise, I must admit I do not have much of an idea. He goes for a slightly ambient sound in these works, as it all sounds delicate. Or, maybe, that is the inexperienced composer at work? Things move slowly but throughout and have a cut-up feel. This version of ambient music isn’t about lengthy, sustaining fields of drone music but fragile sound constructions. A promising start! (FdW)
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AARON MYERS-BROOKS – OBLIQUE (digital release on New Focus Recordings)

What is this?? (apart from a digital release, which I noticed too late, but we, in general, don’t do),a solo electrical guitarist switching between Jimmy Hendrix, Loren Mazzacane, and Fred Frith – several times within one piece?
    Myers-Brooks is a USAmerican composer and guitarist, active across several groups, Night Vapor and Autoreplicant, which could be rightly categorised as Post-Hard- and Grindcore. At the same time, he is a music theory teacher at the University of Pittsburgh (like practically all musicians recording on NFR seem to teach at a university somewhere …). The question is (a) will both sides of this (somewhat split) personality stand by themselves, or (b) will one of them suffer from a lack of full immersion? From my own experience, I would say that university teaching takes over at some point, and the creative side of things begins to fade, but Myers gives the whole thing an edge. He uses his tuning system by expanding the 12-tone scale to 17 equally distanced intervals per octave. I am not sure why it’s 17 or 12 or any other number. In any case, this qualifies as ‘microtonal’, but any reference to Fear Falls Burning and Dirk Serries seems unjustified.
    Maybe my ears are too used to disharmonic music, I did not discern anything unusual about tunings, so some of the effects may have been lost on me. Track one presents what I initially said, a switch between a distorted guitar solo and clean sound picking in what could be a free-style guitar solo. The second comes closer to a ‘composition’ in that a programmed (or overdubbed) electric piano sound is used to complement the guitar. Actually, this works quite well. The third piece consists of 5 movements, thus closing in on a ‘classical’ structure. Myers-Brooks uses electronics to accompany and/or modify the guitar sounds. Sound-wise, this piece and its movements are all over the place, which makes for enjoyable listening, as digital cut-ups and distorted solos are placed against pure electronics and guitar sounds sent around the room. This might sound like Keith Emerson or ‘Switched on Bach’ in its weakest moments during instrument tuning. I am not quite sure what this adds to our musical universe.
    One track, ‘Triads and Arpeggios’, sticks out as an electronics-only piece, again exploring the 17-tone system, but a little too much of a sketch and seemingly not fully developed, even at nearly six minutes long. ‘Sonata for Solo 17-tone Guitar’ (3 movements) and ‘Eight HighC Miniatures’ (well, eight movements) conclude the release. The former starts with two distorted guitar parts before succumbing to a more restrained and sparse guitar playing. The miniatures are heavily electronically treated guitar sounds, sometimes more a ring modulator, sometimes more synth-like (presumably from a guitar synth, anyway), and sometimes pure electronics. All this I found a bit ‘eclectic’ and constructed, not necessarily a pleasure to listen to, as my interest did fade with time. (RSW)
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