Number 1388

ASIANOVA – … BURNS ALIVE (CD by Avalanche Organization) *
HEX & DORAVIDEO – MULTI (CD by Wetwear) *
SWEENEY – CORPEREAL (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
TEST CARD – CHANNELS (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
THESE CLOUDS… (CDR compilation by Sound In Silence)
ARVO ZYLO – 333 (CD by No Part Of It) *

ASIANOVA – … BURNS ALIVE (CD by Avalanche Organization)

The group Asianova has been around for many years, since the early 90s, and yet, it seems, only have been reviewed once on these pages, in Vital Weekly 528. In 2007 the group toured in Germany, France and Italy, and a year a limited CDR was released from this tour. Asianova is a four-piece in which finds legendary home taper Ure Thrall (mellotron, percussions, loops, voice, electronics), and the duo that makes up Voice Of Eye, Bonnie McNairn (voice, flutes, electronics) and Jim Wilson (guitar, electronics). In the early days, Asianova only recorded at home and never did any concerts, and effectively was on a hiatus after the mid-90s. They play what they call a stream-of-consciousness sound, anti-composition, and if you know Voice Of Eye’s music, then you know where to place Asianova as well. Don’t let that Peter Frampton-type title think this is some heavy-duty music, far from it. This is as psychedelic as they come. There might be no composition, and all improvised, but through the long lines of delay pedals, reverb, chorus and what have you, the music here is a long spacious drift. Head or tail, beginning or end, are irrelevant notions for this group. Loopers deliver a guarantee of a continuous sound, and the wordless chanting may have a slightly (or, to some) heavily hippie taste (you can almost smell the incense), but that is part and parcel of the music. I am unsure how the whole improvisation works for them, as only two of the eight pieces are called ‘live improvisation’, which implies the other six are, perhaps, planned. However, these pieces flow into each other, making up for seventy spacious minutes of music. There was a time when I thought this type of ‘free flow ambient’ music was a bit too hippy-dippy for me, but these days I am pretty in favour of such things. Especially when they hit a few cans and get the percussive bits out, things move and roll, and that’s excellent. Think zoviet*france or Rapoon, but then sparser and spacier. (FdW)
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The early ’90s were heaven for people like us. Postage was low, CDs became accessible in production, vinyl plants weren’t occupied by Adele or Taylor Swift, and people in the scene felt the urge to make statements. Statements of the kind where you were not afraid of possible consequences or retaliations connected to it. So music-wise, when it came to the underground or alternative scene, those were the days of Cold Meat Industry, Ant-Zen (both still active albeit in a different form) and Slaughter Productions. This last one was the brainchild of Italian-born Marco Corbelli, who we also knew as Atrax Morgue, A prolific, highly creative, sincere, beautiful and sadly also troubled artist who we lost – 37 years young – in 2007.
    Slaughter Productions was his label, and he gave people a platform where others may be held back a bit. Not afraid to touch subjects like murder, necrophilia and alienation combined with styles like death-industrial, power electronics, harsh noise and dark ambient, the Slaughter roster gave birth to excellent releases, one of which EVERYBODY should have because of its meaning to the development of ‘our’ scene, being the “Death Odors”-sampler. I got that album in ’94, and it was how I heard of Megaptera, Shee Retina Stimulants, Atom Infant Incubator and (my personal favourite) Deaf Machine. So reading that Tribe Tapes was re-releasing three of the old Slaughter Tapes to CD, I was like… Damn, So good to see Marco’s spirit still living on and still having people paying respect and honour to the guy that did so much for us.
    The first of the three is Die Sonne Satan “Fac-Totum”. Originally a 10-track C60 cassette packed in the all too common A5 envelope, now a 13-track CD with an additional 15 minutes worth of compilation tracks from the same era. Die Sonne Satans is a dark ambient project by fellow Italian Paolo Beltrame, who was also in Atom Infant Incubator with Runes Order’s Claudio Dondo. The music on this release might sound a bit dated at some moments, but that’s not bad. I mean, C’mon, it’s 30 years old! Music has the right to age; in this case, the ageing is done gracefully because this whole album still stands rock-solid.
    The flow on the album from ‘Razor’ till ‘Cosmic Mantra’ – the original album, so to say – is flawless. One track where maybe the rhythm is a bit too much (“Hic Cum Apostuli Sui”), but that’s ok. Because for the rest I don’t have any complaints. If I had to compare it with others, it would be a kind of Raison d’Etre meets Morthound. So yeah, definitely heavy CMI influences here too. The final three additional tracks fit the album perfectly. A combination of sound generation and composition, as we heard on this album before, so the complete conceptual approach stays perfectly intact. But I sadly can’t tell you my favourite track because the whole journey makes it worthwhile.
    In 1995 Dead Body Love did three releases with Slaughter Productions. Two solo releases, of which “Prayers For The Sick” is one, and an untitled split with Atrax Morgue which in 2016 was put to vinyl by Urashima. And Gabriele Giuliani recorded and released even more in that incredible summer of ’95 because he must have felt bad in those days. The noise of unknown origin splatters from your speaker in “Hammerhead Blues”. Spoiler alert: Not one single blues-related sound was used in the production of this track. Though the general feeling of blues, a.k.a. feeling blue, oppressed, abused, etc, might be part of the misery thrown upon the listener. But it’s only 10 minutes long, still 50 minutes left. “Murder Obsession” is the second track, 20 minutes in length and something completely different. Deep droney layers, which – with a slow rhythm and some vocals – would be the most sincere death industrial possible. It sounds so meticulously on the edge of feedback, with looped pedals (I think) in full control of the artist. He knows what he’s doing and how this obsession has to sound.
    The closing track of this album is “Electromasturbatorfailure” 30 minutes of… well … Electronic wanking? The track opens with a rhythm / looped sample or sound, which could indicate a certain manual movement. Then, on top of the looped background, more aggressive sounds and layers are positioned, and the whole rhythm becomes a hypnotic structure, A mechanical, loveless but ‘can’t stop listening’ thing. But around 11 minutes, it gets sped up, and the growling becomes more irritated and louder, and it builds up to the 18-minute mark, where the looped is slowed down again and then put into a chaotic equilibrium. And if the description sounds weird, just get that CD and play it loud. You’ll know what a ‘chaotic equilibrium’ is by then. Massive.
    The third in the re-release batch of Tribe Tapes is a collaboration between Smell & Quim and Expose Your Eyes. “Non-Stop Pathological Gland-Sucking” – you can imagine the true meaning – is from 1996 and is a co-production between Slaughter and Stinky Horse Fuck Productions. Two half-hour eruptions with titles like we could expect from this bunch of madmen: “24 Hours From Lust A (Doggy Style)” and “Quim B Exposition (Variations)”. They went into puberty and liked it so much that they stayed there. The best thing about it? We became adults, and they misbehaved, so we didn’t have to. They are quite brilliant, and we should be grateful to them.
    So I’ve listened to these tracks several times. And with all the love I have in me, I would like to write what it’s about, but I’ll start with the outcome: I can’t. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s completely incoherent, but there are phases/fragments/parts in these tracks that are mind-tingling. It’s all a complete expulsion of energy, eruption maybe, explosion, extrusion, ejection… Something with an ‘E’, most probably. Parts of the tracks are deep noise drones, other parts completely incoherent harsh noise, then a sense of rhythm, then pure feedback. Sometimes it’s chaotic, sometimes structured (although: chaos is just higher-order stability, as we all know 😉 So well, yeah … I have no clue, but maybe because of being clueless, it’s so intriguing. But that’s also the whole noise thing. Does everything have a beginning and an end? Or do we need to stop focusing on trying to determine everything we don’t comprehend at once? Can’t you ‘just enjoy’ sounds? Or does it need to be explained? In a live setting with equipment, there is always the ‘Jackson Pollock’ factor; The movement of the artist in combination with the sound makes one able to make a connection. Look at some of the concerts on Youtube: A couple of guys in Elvis suits or wearing pig masks… I mean: This stuff doesn’t need an explanation; it just must be heard and lived. (BW)
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Ah, Ashtray Navigations! I am sure I wrote something like this before, but there was a time when I couldn’t get enough of his music, and I got many of his releases, mainly on CDR and limited vinyl. But, as these things go, interests shift, or, instead, stuff also not arriving to review anymore, resulting in diminishing attention for Phil Todd’s music. Recently, I missed out on a few (I’m taking a look at Discogs) of his releases, so it’s a bit difficult to comment on his development. At the same time, the music feels like a warm bath, a familiarity (and a longing to have more time than I have and dig out some of the older releases) that is his music. The guitar is Todd’s primary instrument, along with a long line of sound effects, but there are also keyboards, percussive bits and a trumpet. Whereas before, I would have lumped Ashtray Navigations in with the guitar noise terrorists, this new one sees a more psychedelic approach to music. There are two long pieces on this release. ‘Drink The Moment / Thin Fox Legs’ is about 28 minutes, and ‘The Return Of The Sun Of Dr. Artur’ is nearly 20 minutes. In both these pieces, Todd lets his guitar rip and shine. Not as noisy as before, but rather in jazzy, proggy and psychedelic rainbow colours. He knows how to play the six strings and has become quite virtuoso. Or, maybe, he was always the virtuoso, yet we never noticed? Whatever the case, Todd leaves in enough weird sounds for us lovers of the experiment to enjoy. I do not mean the music is noisy but rougher around the edges. When the guitar isn’t on a solo routine but droning away, and there are loops of rattles and stabs on a synth, there is still that psych edge but edgier, and it works well in contrast with the rest of what the pieces offer. Also, in that respect, is the music a trip, and I mean the word trip in every sense of the word? I don’t know what Todd had while recording the music, but can I also have some? Yet, even without any intoxication (Tuesday 1:43 p.m., what would one use?), this is one hell of a ride. Where did I stash his older work? (Oh, wait, where do I find the time?) (FdW)
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Here we have a boxing match. Ladies and gentlemen, in the left corner, there’s Danish trance-noise duo Hex, and in the right corner, we find the honourable Ichiraku Yoshimitsu, also known as Doravideo. These are new names to me, to be honest. It seems they met up in Japan in 2019 and had planned to collaborate, but for all the obvious reasons, that only happened three years later, in 2022, when they toured Germany and Denmark together. Since I had no prior knowledge about either, I also had no expectations. After hearing the eight tracks, I also have a few references. We find this trio somewhere at a dusty crossroads of musical interests. There is a distinct love for all things improvised – a thread throughout this entire release – but we also find notes of noise, metal, and free jazz. The instrumental duties are thus divided: Ichiraku Yoshimitsu on Eurorack modular synthesizer, Lars Bech Pilgaard on guitar, organelle, and driftbox and Anders Bach on drums and plumbutter (whatever that might be). Wildly chaotic music most of the time, which should explode any free jazz club. I really don’t know what to make of this. I like some of the trio’s noisier work, along with some of their tight beats, but on other occasions, the music remains as distant to me as it is chaotic. I believe the recordings are culled from live performances, so it feels there is a bit of an unbalanced thing going on at times. But then suddenly something happens, and some of the magic returns, such as in ‘Supernal, Liminal, Space’, which is lovingly arranged around the drums. Sometimes the pieces sound somewhat ‘far away’, almost like they were recorded at some distance from the stage, and sometimes they seem very direct and very close by – Seemingly another unbalanced affair. Good or bad? That question I can’t answer yet. Maybe I should see them play, and then it all makes sense. Or maybe, at least, ‘some more sense’. (LW)
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Last week, we reviewed the latest by Brume which was released on Fern Recordings. A quote from that review: “Small Cruel Party, Daniel Menche, Francisco Lopez, the Toniutti brothers, Christoph Heemann, toy.bizarre, BJ Nilsen … Just a few names of artists that have releases out on Fern Recordings.” You could think this label looks strongly at older and established names but behold: This review is about Aliénor Golvet. Aliénor is a PhD student at Ircam-STMS lab in the {Sound, Music, Movement} Interaction team and next to that, she released music under the names a lie and Perlesvaus, none of which have been reviewed in Vital. So sadly no comparison or timeline research. “Point, Line, surface” is the first release under her name. A big step forward because – that’s how I look at it – you can no longer hide behind the imagery or made-up name. This is it! This is the real thing! Her website describes her musical activities as ‘an exploration of sterility, mundanity and stillness interpreted through personal feelings and subjective experience.’ So yeah, field recordings, object manipulation, and sounds in micro and macro perspectives (trains in the background, touching surfaces and whispering in the foreground) are all sculpted into stories. Four, to be exact, with 34 minutes on the short side. Because of the atmospheric character, it could all have been more extensive. With this, I mean that the placement of some sounds seems ‘sudden’ or a bit out of focus. The listener is not always guided into the journey. Aliénor’s music fits the label’s catalogue pretty well, I think. Somewhere on the scale of musique concrète (meaning total control over the composed results) and electro-acoustic improvisation (which means, well, improvised), this goes both ways, which is a good thing but also an indication that Golvet has not yet found an individual voice. This release is quite good; definitely as a first release under her name. It will be interesting to see how she will grow over the years and how she conquers the little hiccups or incoherencies we find on this one. (FdW / BW)
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Bridging the shires of electro-acoustic music, techno and computer music, the aural tapestries and landscapes Simone Sims Longo conjures from machines and an ensemble of ‘classical’ instruments deftly defy prima facie categorization as moods shift from shimmering eastern ambient to Faust and Tony Conard-ish snarling drone to plucked strings evoking Mark Fell-ish electronics. And strangely but very surely, this work wouldn’t have seemed out of place amid early releases of the Constellation Records label in terms of overall tonal mood.
    These integral landscapes are produced with a crystalline precision which brings to mind bone-dry IDM or Electro Guzzi’s vibe. The ear keeps getting new clues every few seconds, timbres between artificial and acoustic are masked and disrobed, cut-up elements seem to be fragments of beats or shortened ‘drones’ or samples of field recordings, and you end up somewhere in the middle between Autechtre-mild, Gábor Lázár and Jean Schwarz at the GRM.
    What I really like about this CD is that the de-constructive intention that could have prevailed is used to construct. So yes, this is fragmented and disparate, but instead of letting the elements fall further apart as some of the aforementioned artists do, and without going into the sparse territories of Ikeda or Nicolai, this symphony fills out the whole of the musical spectrum to the fullest (and technically too, with brilliant spatial use of the stereo field), therewith, emotionally, also seemingly, presenting a nod of indebtedness perhaps to giants of pioneering electronic experimentation, from the NatLab to GRM to EMS, but also early Vangelis and Jarre, in terms of narrative lines, or even Boards of Canada. And to a spectralist composer like Tristan Murail.
    I’d say: I can’t wait to hear this in live performance mode in the Hertz venue in Utrecht or HAU, Berlin, during CTM in full spatial diffusion. (SSK)
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Ernö Király, rings a bell? Doesn’t? Won’t any longer. Hansko, Visser et al. open up a treasure trove of possibilities, aural and otherwise, inspired by, arranged around, and indebted to this Hungarian/Yugoslavian composer. Bundled, concentrated in eight litho prints and poems by Visser. And these works can also form the starting point of this artistic conversation and adventure between visual arts, poetry, bio-graphical score, composition rules and, let’s say, “a complex system for creating the music of Kemenymadar/Asvogel”, live, in the Orgelpark venue in Amsterdam, the source for the recordings on this CD. This CD is part and parcel, one element only of a large(r) work, by no means a puzzle as such, but a horn of plenty: an ocean of contingent factors, maybe.
    So what Visser did was to give the material to composers Reinier van Houdt, Jasna Veličković and Lucio Tasca, and he asked them to write their own version of the piece, to re-imagine, imagine or move through and beyond imagination, score, space, place, time and Király himself perhaps, too. So then there were multiple versions, to be played by ensembles of four, interlocking around the lino-print called ‘tulip’ (the code about cherishing originality and vulnerable individuality). The four versions are performed in seamless succession. Asvogel arises as one from four, four times four and/or more.
    There is a sense of Partch in Király’s spirit towards self-built instrumentation and the free-form music too: radical, jagged, rough-hewn and extremely thought out – a self-contained aural universe with inherent logical, however cloudy, fuzzy or cloaked. A radicality of openness, borderlines thinking and working (sixteen musicians from seven countries, one spot in Amsterdam, this CD only one of many elements), a flow, a river Lockwood-like meandering through landscape of musical invention and inspiration.
    New assignments have been issued to composers Pietro Caramelli, Stevan Kovačs Tickmayer, Lukas Simonis, Filippo Gillono, Arend Gerds and Eva Maria Houben. New Asvogel recordings could fly up from the ashes somewhere in early 2023. And you, too, can work with the base material, as Visser will gladly send you the score, rule set, tools and tone stocks. There is no ending.
    But back to this first Oiseau de Feu installment. Apart from all unconventionality in the way of working, the practice of atomizing the composition and composer, the work and the person, viewpoints multiplied and brought together, but not – as has been done with, for example, the number pieces by Cage – played together, at once… There are moments of brutal brilliance in equal measure in mournful accordion and in cacophony in bursts of noise, intimacy and exuberance moving between aural poetry and contemporary composition, between concrète and folk music. As above, so below, and anywhere in between as sounds, tones, melodies or shards and fragments thereof engage in long-distance dialogue and try to connect, flying closer to the sun, opting for a safer route or going interstockhausenstellar altogether. (SSK)
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There is a lot of free improvisation coming our way, and I always like to stress that Vital Weekly isn’t a free improvisation, free jazz publication. It is something we do on the side. Maybe I should call this a love-hate relationship. The album ‘Qomolangma’ by Qarin Wilkström (voice, electronics) and Nina de Heney (double bass) made me initially think that I wouldn’t be interested. The title is the Tibetan name for Mother Earth Goddess and the Tibetan for the Mount Everest mountain range. They recorded the album in a single day, and the next day and ten fragments were selected for this album. In a note, it says that all was freely improvised. Right, I thought, this is not my cupper. As always, I quickly checked the content, and one of the things that I thought would happen didn’t. I expected this to be more vocal-heavy, with free screeches and screaming, but the voice is either heavily processed by the electronics or in the background. The bass sounds mainly like a double bass, being  strummed and plucked but not so much all nervous and hectic, and it plays a modest role in the music. The electronics are the wildest here, even when Wilkström exercises some control. There is quite some control here in the music, which makes this free improvisation also a polite conversation between two players. Stylish, surely, but within boundaries. Their playing never goes out of control. I enjoyed this work quite a bit, and I kept listening. I am unsure what attracted me to the music; there is a bit of mystery there, too. My fill with this kind of music for this kind of music. (FdW)
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Ken Fields, flautist and sax player, is a long-time member of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, a Boston-based ensemble mixing modern classical music and rock music. He leads the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, a New Orleans-inspired improvisational brass band. He also composed for animation, film and Sesame Street. Alieno deBootes (real name Alessandro Pizzin), Venice-Italy-born and based musician, has been a member of Ruins, an Italian new wave band. He released an excellent Residents tribute record (‘Unconventional Residents’, see Vital Weekly 1331). A sequel to that one was released last February. ‘Alien Field’ starts as a mellow ambient release, especially the first half, with soothing melodies and textures, with organically flowing and a bit more tension because of the use of dissonant or wide harmonies, something that to me is highly forbidden in the musical domain of New Age music. Halfway through, there’s a groovy surprise. Krunch is a rich percussive piece. A laidback groove and slapping bass are topped with long-shifting harmonies in sax and flute. Izar, a piece in two parts, is/are the most Vital Weekly suited track(s) with snippets of short wave radio, brooding harmonies and ending suddenly. If you like a moment to yourself, put this on and dream away into faraway galaxies. (MDS)
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Here we have a limited LP release of 100 copies, with “hand-made/hand-ripped covers, and custom locked grooves”; I was curious how that worked. Ross Manning’s work has been reviewed before (Vital Weekly 1183 and 1062, for instance), but I know little about him or his methods. In the information, I read, “He is an obsessive creator of systems that are driven by their own logic, exploring the rhythm and the recycling energy of them”, and that creates “kinetic sound sculptures”. Also, something I’d be curious to see, I guess (there are some examples on YouTube, but not from the pieces on this record), primarily because the four pieces on this LP sound very interesting. ‘Copper Coil’ is a lengthy excursion into minimalist drones of what I can only think of as machines, rotations, or electrical charges. Field recordings sound like the basis of the title piece, but this might be caused by the ‘capture the sounds in a room vibe’. The rustling of aluminium foil set against the central heating system – I am merely thinking along with the music. The two tracks on the other side are six and a half minutes long, and ‘Copper Coil II’ is the brutal little brother of the piece on the other side. Louder and meaner, with some excellent delicate distortion. ‘Ancient Relationships’ are in the vein of the title piece, also a bit louder, but with a similar ‘room’ vibe. Louder but also carefully played as if these constructions might fall apart at any point soon. This piece has more of an improvised music vibe but is captured in a vast space; sounds are close and afar, making it all sound pretty mysterious. Four quite different pieces, all bit weird, but I think that is also because I know there are probably curious-looking machines to extract these sounds from. Knowing Manning is from Australia makes it very unlikely I will experience this one day. Still, hopefully, there will be more on YouTube or Vimeo to see how’s it all generated. (FdW)
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SWEENEY – CORPEREAL (CDR by Sound In Silence)
TEST CARD – CHANNELS (CDR by Sound In Silence)
THESE CLOUDS… (CDR compilation by Sound In Silence)

If I’m not mistaken, this might be the first time that the Greek label Sound In Silence doesn’t send me two CDs, but three (and never one). But, of course, part of that is to celebrate their 100th release, a compilation. More about that later.
    First, I’d like to start with Sweeney, the most personal project of Jason Sweeney (also working as Panoptique Electrical, Other People’s Children and Simpatico). This new release is the fourth time I have reviewed his music, and I am not sure why Sound In Silence keeps sending his releases,  as I haven’t been overtly enthusiastic about them. I don’t think it’s terrible, but this kind of dramatic music, with lots of equally dramatic voices. The music is relatively sparse and dark. Synthesizers, soundscapes, and some acoustic objects were shaken and stirred. I will repeat a bit from the previous review. This time, the label makes no comparisons with other people’s work (“Scott Walker, David Sylvian, Anohni and “the quieter moments of Depeche Mode”), even when I think it is still all valid; Mark Hollis could be added to this list. I think Sweeney makes some great, very professional, dramatic music, which I think should reach far beyond the (perhaps) limited reach of a CDR release. As much as I hate to repeat myself, I will return to my previous review and state, “I don’t like the big drama, and I am never particularly interested in lyrics, and yes, my bad indeed. For many people, ‘strange music’, whatever one could or would define as such, is very abstract, but once there is a voice, it all makes sense. If you are one of them, head to the Bandcamp of this label and check this out.” This time, I add there are probably other places that could work with Sweeney’s music much better and maybe promo copies should go that way.
    The music by Test Card, Lee Nichlson’s solo project, is of a much lighter tone. I reviewed his ‘Music For The Towers’ in Vital Weekly 1218, and I found that a most enjoyable recording. ‘Channels’ is, overall, his fifth album and inspired by Nicholson’s love “of mid to late 90s experimental, lo-fi, electronic and post-rock music” in particular 7″s by Static Caravan, Ochre, earworm, Awkward Silence, 555 Recordings and others. Lovely labels with excellent music; I, too, was a big fan then. Nicholson approaches the original sound very well. There is a breezy, light-hearted tone in the ten pieces. Whereas on his previous album, he played various instruments, I believe he restricts himself to using synthesizers and drum machines here. Plus, some NASA space control and number stations (I am guessing here) voice material to add to the spacey and trippy character of the music. Joyful tunes mixed with some that have melancholic touch and the drum machine in a rather mid-tempo mood, ticking time away. His previous release arrived mid-winter and worked with its ambient tone, now it’s full-on spring in The Netherlands, and it’s great to play the music that feels like a breeze. Throughout, this music is reflective, music for the lone soul. Not something, at least that’s what I think, you’d play in a group of people, but rather in the company of a glass of wine and a book—music on a slow drift and one that works well. I readily admit that I heard many of those releases in that period, and I was a big fan, but over the years, with interests shifting, I also have sold many of these records. Not something I regret, but this Test Card album is a reminder of that interest and a most welcome reminder at that.
    And then, in an edition of 500 copies (why a CDR and not a pro CD? I don’t know. This label did a few of those before), the label’s celebration of 100 releases. Sound In Silence started in 2006 with a release called ‘These Waves…’, so to call this new one ‘These Clouds…’ seems logical. I am sure I didn’t review all of these releases, but still, I recognized many names (well, of course, because some are also active on other labels), and some (seem) new to me, including Hainbach, who, as far as I know, has no releases on this label. Maybe this compilation is, in that respect, also a forecast of what may come. The eighteen pieces of music are fine examples of the musical field this label dabbles in. Ambient is the keyword here, with all its minor differences. Piano and guitars are often heard, but these are always covered with sound effects or digital treatments; electronics also play an essential role. The music veers towards abstraction; sometimes, it is melodic, yet many of these composers stay in the middle ground. Rhythm is seldom used; Hotel Neon is one of the exceptions with a heavy ambient dub sound, which makes this a standout track as a certain homogeneity is part of the overall picture, which works the strength of the music (and I admit, when I first played this a couple of days ago, without looking at anything, I thought ‘These Clouds’ was a band name, rather than a title) but might also be considered as a weakness. Hainbach closes the release and takes the noisiest moment here, with the buzzing of modular synthesizers. A great showcase, if ever there was one. Complete list of contributors; Panoptique Electrical, Sven Laux, Yellow6, The Green Kingdom, Benoît Pioulard, Wil Bolton, David Newlyn, Akira Kosemura, Halftribe, A Lily, SineRider, Absent Without Leave, Hotel Neon, worriedaboutsatan, r beny, Jakob Lindhagen, The Humble Bee and Hainbach. (FdW)
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I had not yet heard of Hazu Esporak! label from Bilbao. The name means ‘grow spores!’ and works with artists from the Basque country and, more significantly, the Espora space in Bilbao. The two releases received are examples of musicians working with software. Of the two, I review quite a lot of music by Miguel A. Garcia. He’s been around for many years, and the laptop is his trusted tool. During the lockdown, he worked on a project which saw him collect sounds from other musicians, many new names for me, and judging by their names, also from the Basque country. I understand that on this double CDR, there are three individual releases previously released by Crystal Mine, Grisaille and Vacancy Records. The last one I reviewed was in Vital Weekly 1375. I am unsure how relevant the list of sound suppliers is, as I believe that everything will be altered radically within the computer and all its possibilities. So the list is merely a thank-you note. One could say that Garcia fits the old school of laptop musicians, and he creates atmospheric, moody, dark music made with crackles, hiss, static and lots of heavily processed sounds and instruments. None, of course, which one can easily relate to, but that is, so I believe, not a bad thing. It is all about the result that counts, and within his capable hands, it’s all good. The music is often a stream of steady sounds, unfolding as things move along, and sometimes it’s all a bit more collage-like. Overall, Garcia’s music remains audible, unlike some of his peers (some of which have converted to the world of modular electronics) and sometimes has a pleasant noisy edge—one hundred minutes of sonic bliss. So relax and go for the long journey.
    Operating on a more conceptual level is Enrike Hurtado. Take, for instance, the text that he has here about his latest offering; “Hardcore Punk Disasters explores the concept of feedback both sonically and conceptually by reusing hardcore/punk/extreme metal songs and sampling interviews with members of the 70s and 80s punk and hardcore scene.” I didn’t recognize any interviewees, but that might be a lack of education of hardcore/punk/extreme musicians. Reading this text, you might think the music is a full-on blast of noise. It isn’t, funnily enough. There are two pieces on this release which are quite the opposite. The longest is the opener, ‘My Parents Just Think I’m Weird’, a beauty. Sustaining drones from what I assume stretched-out feedback samples beautifully intertwine and occasionally hit a feedback bump. The photos on the cover may suggest that actual amplifiers were used to create this piece. The interviews run in and out, not too much, which is fine. I’d love to hear an instrumental version, but the sparseness is fine. Four minutes shorter is ‘Just Get Rid of It’, which has more of a turntablist feel. I’m sure it’s the way Hurtado programs his software, SuperCollider in this case, but it sounds like he is working with vinyl sounds and a few sound effects. It’s an okay piece, but it doesn’t have the excellence of the first piece. Such, so I think, are the wonders of a more conceptual approach. (FdW)
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ARVO ZYLO – 333 (CD by No Part Of It)

No Part Of It rereleases an older release by Arvo Zylo, the illustrious “333” album. This album has been poetically reviewed by jliat in Vital Weekly 774. A second part of this concept/project was a DVDR where 33 artists got the original album and reworked, remixed, manipulated or whatever the sounds. This particular DVDR was, of course, also reviewed in Vital Weekly (1064), and even the CDR with what I think was the ‘best of’ of those remixes on the DVDR was reviewed in Vital Weekly 1174. So I’m caught between a rock and a hard place: Should I review this album? With the added links, you can read all about it already, and I can focus my time on new names or new releases that didn’t get any attention yet. On the other hand, this is the first time these original sounds are available on a glass-mastered CD, and after listening, it’s not too bad at all. Honestly, I hear lots of jazzy/improv influences and patterns, and if you read more of my reviews, that is not my thing. So, honestly, I am sort of incapable of writing something intelligent about the content. The compositions have their moments, but the organ tingling in the “quicksand”- the track is nerve-wracking to my ears. So yeah… While I admire Arvo’s output on radio-based releases, this one doesn’t do it for me. Try before you buy and use the Bandcamp pre-listen option. (BW)
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Microform is the brainchild of Liam McConaghy, and this whopping 80-minute cassette seems to be – according to Discogs – his seventh release. I had never heard of him or the label Liquid Library before. Let’s start with the label. Liquid Library is based in the UK and has strong DIY/LoFi ethics in its artwork. From all their releases, I only recognize Max Eastman as the guy behind Tribe Tapes and Stuart Chalmers, whose name is dropped quite often in Vital Weekly. Microdeform had a review here earlier, too (Vital Weekly 1081), but that was before my time. After reviewing that earlier one, “Neural Regression”, Frans felt the urge to listen to some old zoviet*france, but with “Reassess Your Life Priorities”, I don’t feel anything like that.
    “Reassess Your Life Priorities” is sort of the Covid-project from Liam, if I may say so. Old recordings from between 2008 and 2016, including live recordings, were mixed by Liam himself into two 40-minute tracks and got some proper treatment. With that in mind, it’s pretty amazing to hear the consistency of the sound. Every artist knows how difficult it is to maintain continuous pressure in sound and composition; in quality and variation, the tracks are spot-on produced. So what is on here? We’re pointing our browsers to Discogs again, where we find ‘Microdeform creates exploratory, ambient transmissions, building hypnotic, looped layers of improvised instrumental passages, tape treatments and live turntable sampling from old records, creating a mood that is alternately blissful, meditative, cacophonous and intense. The result is a heady trip of cosmic oscillations and mesmeric dark sorcery shrouded in mist, drifting slowly into the ether’.
    So yeah, that about covers it, although I can’t find too much of the turntable sampling here. It’s solid electronic danceable music where British influences are audible; A bit of 8-bit sound here and there, yet no Nintendo style; Some parts of ambient dronish sounds… Will I play it more often? I don’t know because it’s not a style I listen to all that often. Having said that, if you are into British IDM / EDM and experiments, try it. This one might surprise you. (BW)
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