Number 1383

PAUL BARAN – THE OTHER (CD by Fang Bomb) *
ALEX ZETHSON – TERJE (CDEP by Supertraditional Records) *
TAMIO SHIRAISHI – MOON (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
YIAGOS X & COTI K. & P.K. TSIKO – RADICAL IMAGINARY (2LP by Same Difference Records) *
ILIAS KAMPANIS – YERMA (LP by Same Difference Records) *
COULTER HAMILTON – Concurrent Sentience (CDR by Kreating SoundS) *
FERGUS KELLY & DAVID LACEY – MAGNETIC NORTH (cassette by Fort Evil Fruit) *
SANDY EWEN/JASON NAZARY – A BEADED GESTURE (cassette by Notice Recordings) *
JOANNA MATTREY – SOULCASTER (cassette by Notice Recordings) *
ZHU WENBO/ZHU SONGJIE – MAGNET BLUES (cassette by Notice Recordings) *
JACQUES PUECH – GRAVIR/CANON (cassette by Insub Records) *
KAPOTTE MUZIEK – LIVE AT KLUBB KANIN (cassette by Klubb Kanin) *


As I listen to the four CDs in this box, eleven pieces by the French composer Michele Bokanowski, I realize that I have known her work for quite some years, yet I know very little about her. Wikipedia isn’t beneficial. She was born on 9 August 1943 in Cannes, studied with Michel Puig, and later on, electronic music at Service de la recherche de l’ORTF (ORTF) directed by Pierre Schaeffer and computer music at the Faculté de Vincennes and electronic music with Eliane Radigue. And that her work is for “concert performance, film, television, theatre and dance”. Maybe there is not much more to know beyond these basic facts. I reviewed some of her works in the past but never heard so many of her works in one place. Many works collected here were released before, such as on Metamkine, Trave Label, Empreintes Digitales, Optical Sounds, GRM/Mego, and Motus Acousma. Three pieces might be released for the first time. The works are presented chronologically; the oldest is from 1973-74, and the most recent is from 2019-2020. There is an impressive amount of variation in these pieces. Somehow, I expected this to be all collage-like, with glissandi of electronic tones, granular synthesis, etc. But pieces like ‘Chant D’ombre’ and ‘Enfance’ are beautiful quiet works of drone music in combination with field recordings, such as children playing in the latter piece. Also, she works with introspective and atmospheric sound material in other pieces. Sometimes things are wilder, such as ‘Phone Variations’, with its various voices via telephone lines, or the high-pitched frequencies of ‘Elsewhere’, the most recent piece of this collection. The four discs, eleven pieces, serve as an excellent introduction for those who may have heard the name but not yet the music, or, if you misplaced those 3″ CDs by Metamkine, you were waiting for a replacement. I can imagine those who love the more traditional musique concrète, whose first piece includes a prepared piano (‘Pour Un Pianiste’, and I believe this is the only piece to combine a traditional instrument with electronics), and those who love the more spun out sound material from Eliane Radigue might find this of much interest. Bokanowski’s more spacious music might not be as minimal as Radigue’s, but it certainly is on a similar high-quality level. (FdW)
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A previous release by Paul Baran was reviewed in Vital Weekly 958 but not by me. He is also a member of the duo The Cray Twins (see Vital Weekly 1193). The information calls him “the hidden master of Scottish experimental and electro-acoustic music” and says that his music “might be the only one you’ll hear this year where a pure acousmatic ambition mingles with politics and p-funk”. I gather the political aspect we find more in the titles than in the music, but, granted, there are some spoken word bits; I admit their meaning eluded me, but I wasn’t paying that much attention to the actual content of the words. Baran plays the Bucla Modular Synthesizer, Serge, Organ, Nord, MicroKorg, drum machine, pocket operator and upright piano. There is a long list of guest players on piano, saxophone, programming, violin, Chinese flute, trumpet (Franz Hautzinger), and many more. Two CDs, more than two hours of music, and music that bounces all over the place. On the first disc, the pieces are primarily short, while the second has six lengthy cuts; the shortest is seven minutes, and the longest is over fourteen. Baran easily has a techno-based piece sitting next to a soundscape, next to a radio play, to improvised bits, to orchestral to… you name it, and it’s there (oke, so noise is not part of this). It is almost as if one is listening to a radio program of alternative music, in which some daring DJ  plays whatever he likes. Even with the various tunes on the first disc, making it all quite chaotic, I still prefer that one over the longer and, perhaps, more coherent pieces on the second disc. In his longer works, Baran seems to be spinning out his sounds and instruments too long and sparse. The wild cocktail he serves on the first disc, where the pieces are between four and six minutes (still a considerable length), could have been made by eleven different musicians, so, more like a compilation, which makes me think that whatever song I stick in the podcast from this album, you might get the wrong impression. Adventurous music here that calls out for adventurous listeners. (FdW)
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Here’s another quartet of releases by Tokyo’s increasingly prolific Ftarri label. With no particular preference, I started with Fumi Endo. I reviewed work from this pianist before; for instance, her duet with Suzueri (Vital Weekly 1358), where she plays the upright piano. Her background in jazz and improvised is not something one hears on ‘Cold Light In Warm Blue’. Here too, she plays the upright piano and has five improvisations that she recorded without an audience at Ftarri. She played twice, once in July 2002 and then again in August. From these performances, the five pieces are selected. I am unsure if there is any sort of editing. The label makes some excuses about the non-soundproofed room and how that affected the recording somehow, but I think it sounds great. Sparse is undoubtedly the keyword here, although the music never entirely silences. It always resonates even when Endo doesn’t use the sustain pedal a lot. Throughout, she plays note by note instead of chords. The music is very Zen-like and very modern classical. I played this when I did a bit of serious catching up on ‘work’ at the computer and liked the ambient quality of the music. Music that is not necessarily all too present or remote, music that doesn’t force itself upon the listener and music that can easily be ignored. All like Brian Eno intended, but now for a single acoustic instrument and no electronics.
    There is no silence, contemplation, or Zen in the house of Sun Yizhou and Kevin Corcoran. I had not heard of the latter, who is from San Francisco and plays ‘percussive objects’ next to field recordings and electronics in his musical projects. Yizhou is from China, and I heard his collaboration with Zhu Wenbo (see Vital Weekly 1358, again, as it was a release by Zappak, just like the CD by Endo & Suzueri). In various ways, this is not a very traditional Ftarri release. Sure, the two work with scores by Yizhou, and each piece is thirteen minutes, but the recordings were made via an online exchange, which, I think, in the collaborative spirit of many Ftarri releases, is an oddball. Also, the outcome is far from traditional. Percussive objects seem like the aptest choice of words, as whatever he does, it is far away from the world of conventional percussion music. Corcoran may shake, rattle, rub and roll objects, and with some imagination, one may recognize some kind of rhythm here. Still, it sounds altogether more like improvised electro-acoustic music. Unlike other objects shakers (Kapotte Muziek, Noise Makers Fifes, Morphogenesis), this duo choose a complete set of sound-approach. Each of the four pieces is a multi-layered scheme of sounds, and field recordings, bursting with electronics, objects abuse, and, perhaps, using a bit of looping/sampling, making this quite an exciting release. It’s noisy, improvised, combines electronics and acoustic sounds, and brings some great music. An excellent out-of-the-box release by Ftarri, or perhaps, they slowly expand into other musical territories?
    While it’s not mentioned, the release by Lance Auston Olsen and Bruno Duplant might also be an online collaboration. Music by both these composers/musicians has been reviewed before. I never knew that Olsen was from 1943 and that he started playing music in 1997, following a meeting with Jamie Drouin. Duplant is just one very active musician, releasing work upon work. Here he plays “piano and sounds”, while Olsen plays “guitar, field recordings, wax cylinder recordings, MIDI organ, and amplified objects”. This might not be your typical Ftarri release, or perhaps, we should no longer mention there was (once!) a distinctive style. This thirty-three-minute piece of music is divided into six parts, each starting with a single piano note and slowly expanding beyond that by adding other sounds. The wax cylinder hiss adds a lovely nostalgic element to the music, whereas different sounds are less easily defined. The title, ‘Coïncidence’, seems rather appropriate, as some music appears oddly shifting back and forth, out of place, out of time—a curious dialogue, maybe, but one that works quite well. The music, while not quiet, has a relatively slow and peaceful character yet doesn’t seem to be evolving around (too many) pure drones. The sounds are fairly open by themselves, but in various instances, they sound simultaneous, so it’s never tranquil—beautiful and peaceful music.
    The oddball, so it seems, is the fourth release, with Akira Sakata, the legendary Japanese free jazz saxophone and clarinet player (also bells on this release), who recorded two sets of improvised music on May 21, 2022, at Ftarri with Ken Ikeda on synthesizer. You know me, saxophone and free jazz, then you might not be surprised that I do not know much about Sakata’s style and how this work differs from his usual work. I understand that his style isn’t as outgoing on this album as with the Yosuke Yamashita trio. I don’t know about this music. Maybe the free improvisation saxophone puts me off here, even when Sakata plays it gently and melodically. There is not much chaos and nervousness. But, compared to Ikeda’s input, the saxophone is the dominant instrument here, whereas Ikeda’s input is, at times, quite soft and not very outspoken. I have no idea what he does other than have some sound bubbles. You could almost think this is a work of Sakata solo with an accompaniment of electronics. Two long pieces that were enjoyable but not something I’d play again any time soon. At the same time, I think this is the most accessible and musical of these four releases. (FdW)
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I missed out on the debut album and EP by this oddly named Polish band That’s How I Fight – or, to hammer the message home, THAT’S HOW I FIGHT. The group expanded and is now a quartet; Gosia Florczak (synthesizer, sampler, accordion), Piotr Sulik (guitar, loops), Jacek Sokolowski (drums) and Maciel Wasilewski (bass, on two of the six songs). There are also two singers on two songs; in the second song, that might be the chant, including the band name. I read that the synthesizer, sampler, and accordion are all new instruments here, which made me think that Florczak is a new member. Their music finds its organization in playing together through extended sessions, even when it hardly sounds improvised. There is a slightly gothic and rock-like atmosphere, dark, ominous and doomy. Heavy music, again in a kind of rock-like manner, but not stomping away on the whole drum kit. They keep the rhythms tight and minimal, for instance, on the toms and bass drums, and the cymbals are used instrumentally. The music is heavy on the drones, which, I assume, come mainly from the synthesizer, sampler, accordion and guitar. They create long-sustaining waves, like waves on a dark sea. At times orchestral (in the fifth piece; all untitled) or post-rock (something present in all of these pieces). Quite powerful music, so I was thinking, and I can imagine that this would have even more impact in a concert situation. At home, I don’t know; it is mood music, and one has to be in a certain mood to be this overwhelmed by music, I think. Maybe this is the kind of music that engages you in some activity? I will definitely try that soon! (FdW)
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Last week we had Groupa with traditional folk music; this week, Brighde Chaimbeul plays the Scottish small pipes, along with saxophone player Colin Stetson. Vital Weekly is not, and I repeat and emphasize NOT, a publication to mail your folk releases to. Even when they are slightly experimental, such as with the music of Chaimbeul. The small pipes are well suited to play drone music, so I immensely enjoy the music, especially when the music is all drone. At the same time, I feel a bit lost because I know nothing about the traditions behind this particular instrument and Scottish folk music as a whole. When she sings in a few pieces, the work becomes a bit more traditional (at least, so I believe!). Interestingly, whatever Stetson does here, it rarely sounds like a saxophone; maybe he’s playing the Scottish small pipes too. When it’s all atmosphere, drone and ambient, I enjoy this music quite a bit, which is the majority of the album, but once again, I miss out on the context of it all. (FdW)
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ALEX ZETHSON – TERJE (CDEP by Supertraditional Records)

A strangely short (18 minutes) CD by Swedish composer Alex Zethson. The two pieces are from a score for the 1917 silent film ‘Terge Vigen’ by Victor Sjöström, which I haven’t seen, and based on a poem by Henrik Ibsen, which I haven’t read. The piece premiered in 2021 in a church and was recorded a day later. Zethosn plays the piano, synths, and something curiously called a xylorimba. Other instruments are the accordion, bass- and contrabass clarinets, the Hardanger fiddle and the EMBLA vocal ensemble from Trondheim. Just as with the release by Brighde Chaimbeul (see elsewhere), the music is close to traditional folk music. The start of ‘Öja’ is a fine, intense strumming piece, but once the voices kick in, it all becomes a bit esoteric for my taste. In ‘Grimstad’, the element of traditional folk becomes even more significant, and to my taste, the music becomes quite kitschy, again, mainly thanks to the choir. The label’s mission statement says, “Supertraditional is a record label for contemporary folk music. We know that tradition is deeply rooted in the knowledge of generations but always fluid and always seeking out the influences of its own time. Bare earth meets glitter and neon.” Sadly, we don’t know anything about the folk music tradition at Vital Weekly. See elsewhere and see last week. (FdW)
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The previous instalment I reviewed in Vital Weekly 1223, in a corner for compilations, riding high on my ‘I don’t like to review compilations’. That didn’t change. This new compilation of electroacoustic music promises 5.1. surround mixes and stereo mixes. The Vital Weekly HQ only has a regular CD player, and these discs play fine. The first two volumes contained works from the old masters, Stockhausen, Berio, Nono, Varese, Ligeti, Maderna and that lot. The third volume presents recent pieces, the oldest from 19956 and 2016 being the most recent. The Institute for  Computer Music and Sound Technology (ICST) at the Zurich University of the Arts is responsible for translating these works into surround sound, which is a bit lost here. What remains is a collection of nine pieces of electroacoustic works by Thomas Kessler, Kaija Saariaho, Horacio Vaggione, Hans Tutschku, Georg Friedrich Haas, José Manuel López López, Narco Stroppa, Bernard Lang and Peter Ablinger. In each of these pieces, there is an instrument, flute, voices, alto saxophone, cello, and piano) and electronics. These can be computers, live electronics, or simply ‘electronics’. Throughout, there is a serious modern music tone to be noted here. Music, I believe, is not the core interest of Vital Weekly, and of which I think we aren’t suitably equipped to review it. I liked some of the pieces, sometimes parts of pieces and some didn’t do much for me, but all of which I felt was outside my range of knowledge. (FdW)
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TAMIO SHIRAISHI – MOON (CD by Relative Pitch Records)

‘Moon’, Tamio Shiraishi’s latest release on Relative Pitch Records, is a collection of 10 duos with the Japanese alto sax player. Only reviewed once in a split record with Sean Meegan in 2006; this is the first time since then. Shiraishi was co-founder of Keiji Haino’s Japanese avant-garde group Fushitsusha.
    He played synth in that group that started as a duo. Since then, he moved to New York and took up the alto sax. Ten duos in which the recording location is part of the music, for example, the natural reverb due to a large room the duo with Leila Bordreiul (cello) or Nina Dante (voice), who is almost in a different room, the same with Ami Yamasaki (also voice) and Tara Fenamore (also voice), this one has the most extensive reverb by the way. If you don’t like the sound of extremely high-pitched alto, this isn’t the record for you. Shiraishi has developed a unique style of alto sax playing, extremely high with many variations. If you can get past that, I couldn’t get it in the beginning (I was listening on headphones, which is not recommended); you have adventurous and remarkable music. And they are all duos; each musician listens to Tamio and vice versa, sometimes mimicking his tone (he does the same by the way), or grounding it as Tim Dahl (electric bass) does. The heavy duo is with Mike Sidnam on electronics with longer and shorter bursts of distorted noise, not unlike a machine gun. This contrasts starkly with the last one, with Tara Fenamore, with an almost angelic quality, a great closer after all the controlled and balanced pyrotechnics. The other two vocalists also have great control over their voices. Nina Dante uses some hyper-yodelling operatic techniques, and Ami Yamasaki uses the vocal cords to draw out ripping sounds at some point. And at the beginning of the duo with Tim Dahl, you can hear Tamio’s voice in true Japanese style. Wonderful release! (MDS)
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YIAGOS X & COTI K. & P.K. TSIKO – RADICAL IMAGINARY (2LP by Same Difference Records)
ILIAS KAMPANIS – YERMA (LP by Same Difference Records)

These two records by the Greek label Same Difference label are both on the fringe of what Vital Weekly usually discuss. That is not strange, as many of their releases make me scratch my head. However, this time it’s not music from the free improvisation or modern music scene, but rather the world of rock music, at least, a dimension thereof. First, there is ‘Radical Imaginary’, a double LP by a trio of players, which may (!) be all new names for me. P.K. Tsiko plays the percussion, Koti K is on tenor lute guitar and Yiagos X. on Creatn lute, mandolin and lyra. During two days in a villa in Crete in 2019, they recorded the ten pieces on this album. Despite unusual instruments or even from a more traditional kind, the music is not folk-like or traditional. Maybe there is a hint of rebetiko music (which I have minimal knowledge of), but I kept thinking of post-rock music throughout. Once the ball rolls, it keeps rolling. It builds from a few notes into this big moving train. Unlike Godspeed, this trio don’t move into massive crescendos at the end of every track, but they (mostly) gently fade away. I think that some of this music comes from improvising, but it also sounds very ‘tight’, which is, I believe, the term they use in rock reviews. Music that meanders far and wide and a breezy, spring atmosphere, or, perhaps, a more autumn-like feeling, but not very hot or cold. I can imagine having a road trip and playing this loudly in the car (of course, I am not driving). But, at the same time, music is not our daily bread and is challenging to discuss.
    Whatever is mentioned on the cover of Ilias Kampanis’ record ‘Yerma’, if you can’t read Greek, it is useless. Bandcamp informs me that the music is “based on the homonymous play by Federico Garcia Lorca”, which I haven’t seen. Also, “the composition, inspired by Lorca’s tragic play and the timeless themes related to it, draws elements of tradition, earthly and natural sounds, which it juxtaposes with modern rhythmic patterns and a vocabulary of film music”. The music is played by a string quartet, clarinet, bagpipes, lute and percussion. It has “rhythms and music themes of the Mediterranean countryside”. Again, folk music of some kind, and see last week, see elsewhere, is not something I have the faintest idea about. I enjoyed the music here, even if it all eludes me. I was reminded at times of an instrumental version of Dead Can Dance, especially around ‘Aion’, with its bells, drums, pipes and strings. A record, you might be surprised to learn, which is a favourite of mine. It sounds melancholic, but it sure as hell could fit a film soundtrack; it’s very melodic (most of the time), I enjoy it, and that’s all I can say about this. Oh, and Vital Weekly is not, I repeat and emphasize NOT, a publication about folk and traditional music. (FdW)
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Here we have an example of a musician whom I don’t know much about, even though I reviewed some work of his in the past (for instance, Vital Weekly 12401168, and 799). I believe Anthony Janas has some involvement with Panicsville, and he creates sound art collages on his own. Here we have a single-sided LP, which, as always, begs the question: why not two sides? I remember years and years ago, a single-sided record was cheaper to manufacture, and if that still is the case, I haven’t said anything. A dinner theme is attached to the music; there is even an edition of 11 copies with “Sensory Mastication Napkin and Surrealistic Silverware. Limited to 11 sets of silverware and napkin. Napkins were silk-screened by Chromatic. Silverware manipulated by Anthony Janas.” I am unsure about the menu (text), but I enjoy the courses (the actual music, that is). On Bandcamp, Janas describes his work as sound art “with a focus of advanced modular synthesizer techniques and processed field recordings” and that he created installations on sailboats, dinner parties, “to playful performances such as juggling cheeseburgers”. In three-piece meal, he serves an exciting choice of tastes. Cut-up and collages are the techniques he uses most, and musique concrète is the main inspiration, although the name Nurse With Wound should also be mentioned. Maybe because of the bell-like sound, indicating a chance (I thought initially to suggest a new course, like in a restaurant, but that wasn’t the case, or maybe it is? The titles are a bit confusing), just as Nurse With Wounds does on ‘Spiral Insana’. Janas’ work is different in that he seems to rely more on electronic processes, taking place in his modular set-up most of the time, but maybe there is also some good ol’ turntable abuse. Lovely stuff and wild music sometimes, but Janas has some carefully selected moments of contemplation. It’s hard to say where a track starts and stops, and it’s a pity that the plate is empty after twenty minutes! (FdW)
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Here we have two times Egbert van der Vliet in two disguises. First is a new project of his, Continuous Duty Zone. New? ‘Mechanosynthesis’ is already his third release on the revived Noninterrupt label (see also Vital Weekly 1380), and his recent interest is in reworking ‘industrial field recordings’. As always, I assume these are sourced from websites that host free sounds to be used by anyone. With this project, Van der Vliet works with the more atmospherical sounds of the industrial world. As with the previous one, the industry is looked upon from afar. The distance between the recordist and the objects he’s recording. It’s hard to say what kind of industry he taped here. I heard street noises, machines, water (no doubt contaminated), and conveyor belts. Even though there are two lengthy pieces, each is divided into distinctly smaller and different sections. Why not individual tracks, I wondered, but alas, it is a choice by Van der Vliet. The pleasure of a dystopian soundtrack!
    More industry on ‘Machinekultuur’, and you don’t need to be an expert in Dutch to translate that into machine culture. Oddly enough, here, too, Van der Vliet hails the industry, and that is all the more remarkable as the first four pieces were already recorded in 2019. The fifth piece is from last month. Kyntronik is an older moniker of Van der Vliet, of which I didn’t review any release, so my archive tells me. I am unsure why Van der Vliet chose these names and what makes up the conceptual difference between them. In Vital Weekly 1380, I understood the difference between the atmospheric machines of Continuous Duty Zone and the more noisy end of Pervert, but today, with these two, I am not so sure. Maybe the machine and field recordings of Kyntronik are even more obscured than with Continuous Duty Zone? The process’s work is, perhaps, different, making the music even more atmospheric. That’s the only thing I can think of that made Van der Vliet choose an other name. Here the music is closer to his Pool Pervert project, which he used a lot in 2021 and 2022 for his music, and which had a very refined ambient feel. The field recordings and treatment are much more abstract with the Kyntronik name, and I enjoy it more than the industrialized feeling of Continuous Duty Zone. How many dystopian soundtracks do you want to hear? (FdW)
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COULTER HAMILTON – Concurrent Sentience (CDR by Kreating SoundS)

Ron Coulter is a USAmerican sound artist and percussionist living in the mountains of Wyoming. He runs the Kreating SoundS label that releases a lot of his work, in duos and trios, as well as in his groups Drm&Gtr, duende entendre, Percussion Art Ensemble etc. He works on the thin line between jazz, free music, electronics, and contemporary classical music. And, like so many contemporary classical composers, he also teaches. Sean Hamilton is a fellow percussionist, composer and engineer.
    Both have a similar approach to music in that their output is in some ways more ‘holistic’ than ‘only’ percussion. It has been described as a new take on integrating elements into something that will take drumming to new levels. They also appear to share an interest in radios … ‘Concurrent Sentience’ explores this space very well, as its tracks differ considerably in their style and moods. Not only in the varied use of percussion sounds but also in processing and adding several sources that would not normally sport on a percussionist release.
    What intrigues me with this music is the kind of ‘beat’ often not found in contemporary classical percussion music – that sometimes seems more interested in the pauses between notes than in the sound itself – or in deed in free jazz. And there is an element of tongue-in-cheek humour in the choice of titles such as ‘Substance Abuse’, ‘Cowboy’s Breakfast’, or ‘Well Chuffed’. Speaking of which, the first track comes across very much like a conventional rock drum solo. As said, with a steady high-speed tempo and full use of the drum set that only after 5 minutes or so subsides into a more delicate (though hardly slowed) cymbal space. This type of composition returns on track 3, ‘Scrum’, though not so outspoken (outplayed) and holding a good pace, at around half-time explores a broader range of percussive sounds.
    Track 2 stands in stark contrast. ‘No Trace’ is purely electronic (I believe), mixing Casio sounds with radio hissing and sampling and treating other sounds. Sitting between the two ‘drum solo’ tracks 1 & 3, this is both a surprise and a treat to the ears, proving the breadth of approach these two musicians master. Track 4, ‘Seed & Cast’ has more of the classical percussion piece setting. The following four pieces combine the elements now on display into a diverse music universe. Most pieces, by the way, are more in the realm of 10 than 3 minutes, allowing for development variety. ‘Joyfleet’ ends with radio voices and hisses, whereas ‘Substance Abuse’ is a continuous high pitch sine tone(s), interrupted, obscured and overlayed by the drum sets. The final track ‘Cowboy’s Breakfast’ returns to the initial ‘drum solo’ before subsiding into a quieter, close-to-silent stretch and concluding a distant rumble of thunder.
    A surprising release that has re-calibrated my view of percussion music. (RSW)
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For many years now, Marc Spruit has released mostly short releases, somewhere between twenty and thirty minutes. There is not a lot I know about him or his music. Soruit never gives much information. Of the six pieces here, we learn that “all sounds recorded, severely edited arranged and improvised on digital-decks 2022/2023”. I believe Spruit is a percussion player, so I can imagine he uses recordings from his drums (both analogue and digital drums), which he indeed treats extensively so that we no longer recognize any drum sounds. Of course, I might be wrong, and there is something different on the input side. I admit I have little idea of how digital decks work and what fun they provide in the music-making process. In his work, Spruit hardly uses silence; au contraire, noise is an important feature. However, none is from the world of power electronics or harsh noise wall, as Spruit immensely likes the collage form, applying a lot of hard cuts in the music. Which means one’s mind has to stay focused on the music. He goes through his material with great speed and intensity, bursting and ripping your speakers apart. I enjoy this brutality a lot. It is loud but also very dynamic. Spruit’s music goes from low-end bass sounds to high-pitched frequencies. A sound installation that can handle such extremes is recommended, just as putting up the volume quite a bit. Only then is all revealed, so I believe, because of a lower volume, some of the physicality of the music seems lost. That the whole release is just under thirty minutes is not a problem. The sonic overload presented here made this more than enough; more would be too exhausting. (FdW)
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From Fergus Kelly, I reviewed various works over the years. He’s a percussion player, creating his own instruments and working with electronics. He has recorded with Max Eastley, Mark Wastell and Bruno Duplant and now has a new recording with David Lacey, also a percussionist and someone whose work is reviewed occasionally in Vital Weekly. Kelly and Lacey worked together before (see Vital Weekly 1010). They have a single piece here, 41:14 long, and spread out over the two sides of the cassette. Kelly plays a variety of instruments, “bowed bass, bowed cymbals, no-input mixer, bowed steel rods, found metals, Gamelan Kjai Jati Roso, electro-magnetic recordings, bowed car suspension springs, aeolian harp, spinning top, bowed singing bowl, mic/speaker feedback, whirly, Bow Gamelan Ensemble pyrophones” while Lacey plays the snare and gongs. The snare roll is the primary feature of the music, as it is heard throughout this piece, swelling and fading but a presence nonetheless. Kelly uses that adds his blend of percussion and electronics, which effectively makes the various movements this piece goes through. These rolls indicate the start of multiple sections in each new section, so Kelly rearranges his set-up and plays his dark material into this. I don’t think this is a gathering of two persons in one room, recording it all in one take, but rather meticulous, mixing various parts. Lots of sustaining sounds from the gong, but also from the uses of bows upon snares, cymbals and gong. Moody and dark music, an excellent work that keeps moving, like the snare rolls, rocking back and forth. Quite intense music, certainly at a loud volume, but it makes the immersion complete. (FdW)
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SANDY EWEN/JASON NAZARY – A BEADED GESTURE (cassette by Notice Recordings)
JOANNA MATTREY – SOULCASTER (cassette by Notice Recordings)
ZHU WENBO/ZHU SONGJIE – MAGNET BLUES (cassette by Notice Recordings)

These three cassettes represent the various musical interests of Notice Recordings out of Kingston, New York. I started with the one I believe is the closest to improvised music—a duet between Sandy Ewen on prepared guitar and Jason Nazary on drums and percussion. I had not heard of either player before, but they have played with people such as Tamio Shiraishi, Roscoe Mitchell, id m theft able, Travis Laplante, Chris Williams, and Leo Chang. On March 20, 2021, they played at the Chamber Of Commerce in Brooklyn, and recordings are on this forty-some-minute cassette. The guitar might be prepared, but most of the time, it sounds like a guitar, such as the drums sound most of the time as such. These pieces capture some raw energy between the two players. There is hardly a moment of silence to be found in the music. It has the somewhat brutal attack of punk music, but without musical boundaries, completely free. The interaction between the two players is excellent, creating a delicate balance for each player to shine and to retract. I sometimes thought they were playing songs that night, shifting into a new one every few minutes. That was especially the case in ‘Made Way For Ice’, but maybe something that I heard in all of these pieces; maybe I was hallucinating. I don’t know.
    Music by Joanna Mattrey was reviewed on these pages (Vital Weekly 1241 and 1366, for instance) but not by me. She is a composer and performer, playing the viola, prepared viola and a “tromba marina”, built by Webb Crawford; of this instrument, it is said, “which has one primary playing string and thirteen sympathetic strings”. On her new cassette, she has eleven new pieces of music in which she displays an exciting form of brutish noise music, all acoustic. Playing the viola with styrofoam, plastic toys, chain and other objects, she extracts sounds from her instrument that is sometimes piercingly high. At the same time, she also has pieces in which the viola may sound bizarre and strange, but we can recognize the viola. In that respect, this cassette is a fine showcase of her work. Bending and scratching the strings, she has a powerful attack on the instruments, and yet it is also not without love or contemplation, however atonal her music sounds most of the time. Clocking in at forty-two minutes is the correct length, as this music is demanding. Demanding but also rewarding pieces.
    The last release is, perhaps, the most difficult one and shows some of the label’s love for conceptual and sound art releases. Both musicians are from China, and they investigate American blues on ‘Magnet Blues’. Zhu Wenbo plays a Fisher-Price toy cassette player, voice, and harmonica, and Zhu Songjie plays the Casio EG-5 electric guitar with a built-in cassette deck and harmonica. Do not expect to hear any blues on this cassette, even when one is a song by Blind Lemon Jefferson, “See That My Grave is Kept Clean”. That one has a bit of vocal in it, and the guitar is there in some strange way. Otherwise, the music is quite experimental and noise-like but without distortion. How they handle their instruments and odd recording process makes all of this highly obscured music. Voices return now and then, but none of this is anything even remotely blues-like. Not that it matters, as I enjoy this quite a bit. Perhaps just for the sake of being all strange and weird, there is something strangely compelling about the music. Scratching, bumpy guitar bits sounding like they are on fire, perhaps even musical bits, it’s all here. It is not music for everyone, unlike the other two releases by Notice Recordings. It is also something that one can enjoy without overthinking the possible concept of blues music behind it. (FdW)
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JACQUES PUECH – GRAVIR/CANON (cassette by Insub Records)

On this cassette, the unknown (for me, at least) Jacques Puech plays the cabrette, which is a small French bagpipe. He has played since a young age and is a member of “La Nòvia, a collective that makes links between traditional music from Center-France and experimental fields and works as well on collectings on an ethnographic basis in the Auvergne territory”. He’s also a member of La Tène, a group with Insub’s label bosses Cyril Bondi and d’incise and along with hurdy-gurdy player Alexis Degrenier. More folk music (see also elsewhere)? Hardly. There are two pieces which Puech commissioned from La Nòvia’s composers Yann Gourdon and Guilhem Lacroux. The first is ‘Garvir’, which means ‘climb’, and is for solo cabrette. ‘Canon’, the musical term, is the second and for five cabrettes, played by Puech, and Basile Brémaud, Louis Jacques, Sandrine Lagreulet & Mathilde Spini. Both pieces are minimalist drone-like exercises. I already know that one piece is for a single instrument and the other for five, but I couldn’t tell this after hearing the music; it’s easier to hear multiple instruments in the second than in the first. In ‘Gravir’, there is a sense of climbing in the music. Much like a Shepard Tone, there is the illusion of climbing and descending, but it never reaches the top (or the bottom). It’s a piercing drone that comes along with the sound of something attached to the instrument that makes a clicking sound. At twenty-nine minutes, this is quite a tour de force, but nevertheless, I kept listening at loud volume until the very end. ‘Canon’ is (wiki:) “a contrapuntal (counterpoint-based) compositional technique that employs a melody with one or more imitations of the melody played after a given duration (e.g., quarter rest, one measure, etc.). The initial melody is called the leader (or dux), while the imitative melody, which is played in a different voice, is called the follower (or comes).” Here we have five instruments playing a short melodic phrase which goes out of phase (think Steve Reich) but makes a good round when they all sound. Here we may recognize something of folk music, but I think this is also due to the sound of the instruments. Some powerful music at work here. (FdW)
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KAPOTTE MUZIEK – LIVE AT KLUBB KANIN (cassette by Klubb Kanin)

It was the ninth of October in the year 1999. I was visiting the lovely Belgian town of Brugge with my girlfriend because of the first Cling Film Festival. Several bands started with the letter ‘K’ that evening, but I suspect that to be a complete coincidence. As always at festivals, not everything can be to everybody’s taste, so during one of the lesser exciting acts, I walked around a bit and went through the record bins in the second area. I came to talk with a prominent elderly lady, and she told me she wasn’t there because of the music, but her son played, and she wanted to witness it. And, of course – I recognize it from my mother – even if your spawn’s art isn’t your thing, mothers are proud, and I could feel this pride in how she talked about her son. After all, I met him many times when buying my records in the Staalplaat basement. It was Frans’ mom.
    Brugge was my first engagement with Kapotte Muziek, and it still is an enigma to me. It holds the midst between micro tonalities, Fluxus, field recordings (sometimes made on the spot), minimal noise, improvisational soundscapes and anything you can think of. It “is”. And yes, it’s also broken. Kapotte Muziek is a few people on stage (mostly Frans de Waard, Peter Duimelinks and Roel Meelkop) handling lots of stuff which generates sounds. And that concert, I don’t think I understood what it was about. I mean, I doubt if I know what it is about now. But there is a more important question: Does it matter?
    About “Live at Klubb Kanin”. The year is 1997, and Peter, Frans and Roel went to Norway to perform in the newly founded – by Lasse Marhaug and Tore Boe – Klubb Kanin. And at the 20th anniversary, Peter and Frans went there again to perform a second time. This tape holds both recordings, which were only treated in a way the recordings would fit a tape properly, so no additional recordings or sounds, just sonic treatment like production and rearranging some parts. Sound-wise, the 1997 recordings come close to what I remember from Brugge, the same minimalism and microscopic sonic landscape. 2017 has the same compositional features as 1997, and I wonder if fragility is the keyword I was looking for. Sounds used are more pleasing to my ear (noises, oscillators), but that’s a matter of taste. Composition-wise, both recordings explore the fragility of minimalism but with different sounds.
    In my opinion: This is a release that beautifully documents the growth of a collective. And without any doubt, mom would still be proud. (BW)
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A reimagination of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 1992 record Henry’s Dream. Unfortunately, sometimes we get some music we can’t get into. And this is one of them, and Vital Weekly isn’t the place for this. There are other places more suitable for this kind of music. (MDS)
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