Number 1389

K2 – PANDEMIX CORONALIS (CD by 999 Cuts) *
N. – SOUND IMPLOSION (CD by 999 Cuts) *
MOURN – MASTEMA (CD by 999 Cuts / Steinklang) *
NEO ARCHĒ – PEARLS (CD by Edgetone Records) *
MATTER – FRAMMENTI (CD by I Shall Sing Until My Land Is Free) *
SMAELY P – (ARE YOU TAKEN) ABACK (CDR by Chocolate Monk) *
ILLUSION OF SAFETY – FRONTAL (cassette by Human Hood Recordings) *
EVAN LINDORFF-ELLERY – SWOLLEN AIR (cassette by Tripticks) *
MODELBAU – BANDEINDER (cassette, private) *


How does that work when two reviewers from Vital Weekly review each other’s work? You’ll see in this issue. Bauke van der Wal is the man behind BW and one-half of The [Law Rah] Collective, together with Martijn Pieck (whom you may know as Cinema Perdu). Probably to his surprise, because he may believe otherwise, I don’t think I heard much music from The [Law Rah] Collective. Looking at the group’s output, there aren’t a lot of releases (this new one is number 24), but also quite a few that I never heard of. The music on ‘Introspection’ comes in three lengthy and weighty pieces. They are the result of various ideas and plans for releases, none of which came fully to life but resulted in a heap of source material recorded mainly by Pieck. Some of the sound material was recorded four years ago, and in the last two years, this duo started composing the material into the three pieces now on this record. Pieck does field recordings, feeding these to granular modules in his set-up. Van der Wal stays at home and creates his recordings purely electronically, using a modular set-up. Their music is not the result of playing live and seeing what happens but is planned and executed accordingly. Their approach on this album is somewhat modern classical sounding, in some ways, meeting dark ambient in some other ways. And reflective it is! Dark, atmospherically sounds, deep space, and heavy on the bass end. At times mildly piercing; at other times, sounding like 1000 violins gently played but massive. One can’t recognize any field recordings (just as with many works by Cinema Perdu). This music is on a slow trajectory. Massively drone-like, but the exciting thing is that there is quite some variation in each piece. Despite the slowness of the music, packed with drones, the music never stays in one place for very long. Almost all the time, something new pops up, drops in and moves away, and at the same time, it remains majestically calm and floating. It’s a great album; maybe it’s about time I explored the whole back catalogue! (FdW)
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N. – SOUND IMPLOSION (CD by 999 Cuts)
MOURN – MASTEMA (CD by 999 Cuts / Steinklang)

A few weeks ago, I was playing at the Crude Intentions II festival in the Netherlands, and the line-up also included the Israelian project Kadaver. I’ve known Michael Zolotov a bit longer after meeting him at a festival back in 2013, and we’ve held contact occasionally. In 2018 he and his partner Tamar Singer created the 999 Cuts label, which after a few personal releases, kinda really took off in 2021 with the sampler “The First Cut”. If you are looking for a sampler with deities of noise and power electronics spiced up with many new names you probably have never heard before: This is as good a starting point as it gets. Since that release, 999 Cuts already released 15 other releases, and at the festival, we traded a few items. So even if these titles are from last year, they’re still fresh in my book.
    We’re starting with K2, the brainchild of Kimihide Kusafuka ever since 1983. With over 200 releases on his name, any noise head will have heard of him. But looking at my collection, I shamefully admit that all I had from him are a few 7″s and a collaboration with Telepherique from 2000. I had seen him perform at the Sacramento Sound Waffle, and it turns out he ‘has gone modular,’ which also goes for me, so I was curious about what “Pandemix Coronalis” would sound like. Well, it is in your face harsh and obnoxious cut-up noise! Brilliant! I can’t tell you about his set-up; I can’t tell you about additional sounds. I can’t tell you about composition techniques because everything goes everywhere. And with modular systems, there is one rule: Each artist will approach each module and its initial function differently. That’s the beauty of it. The same systems in different hands will lead to a completely different outcome.
    “Pandemix Coronalis” seems like a Covid project of K2. The titles reveal as much (“Three Adhesions Go Zoomy Or Oozy”, “19 Nin-No-CoviD”, and “Viral Shedding 2020”). The 999 Cuts website reads: “Recorded in 2020, during the most ominous days of Covid – when panic, terror and isolation were widespread, and the future seemed grim.” This grim view of the near future is perfectly audible in the tracks. Nothing seemed inevitable, perfectly captured by the always-changing composition, and the panic is well caught through the extreme frequencies within and the harshness of the recording. In “Viral Shredding 2020”, there seems to be some imperturbability at moments, but as we all felt back then, our emotions changed every bloody effin day, so the peace in the track is always short-lived. Harsh and yet still a very nice release.
    Also, on the 999 Cuts label is a rerelease from N. No, this is not the project by Hellmut Neidhardt, but this is Davide Tozzoli. In 2007 he released a cassette on Nil By Mouth recordings, and here is the rerelease of that cassette on CD. Remastered by Davide himself and with a few additional previously unreleased tracks from the same era. So even if you already have that tape from back then, it’s worth looking into this CD. The music here is a combination of power electronics and noise. Less harsh and cut-up / erratic than K2, which – if we explore N.’s background – is no coincidence. His website (spoiler alert: his music is not boring at all) has a few words on this, and I’ll copy this. “This is not a music project! The selection of the technical set-up through which sounds are produced is part of the project aesthetic:tTwo empty tape recorders, one connected to the other, without any sound source but only the feedback distortion produced by the tape recorders themselves in play/rec and modulated by rec. Volumes knobs.”
    I can’t believe it… If this is all he uses… Holy shit. Amazing. Sounds go all over the place, sometimes as extreme as it gets, other moments subdued and almost ambient. You can hear that tape recorders are involved because of the delay effects and the slow attack and release when turning those knobs. And I wouldn’t be surprised that the set-up from N. is indeed these lonely two tape recorders, and additional sounds are thrown into the symbiotic system to create new sounds and layers. But really, this is an album that will open the eyes and ears of those who work with a set-up like this. I’m about as impressed as possible.
    The third album of 999 Cuts in this Vital is a co-production of 999 Cuts and Steinklang. Mourn is a project of three people, Kadaver (who is, as said earlier, from Israel), Destruktionsanstalt from Denmark and Ideal Father from Sweden. Quite an international bunch of artists who, with their first release, “Mastema”, create a beautiful symbiotic atmospheric release. Relax, atmospheric does not always mean ‘ambient-like’: In this case, absolutely not. For me, the atmosphere is intense on this one when it comes to being dark, brooding – close to apocalyptic, maybe. And in the same breath, I could write that the atmosphere is dense and isolated, even hermetic at moments.
    The opening track, “Love Keeps You Alive”, is a droney piece with what seems to be a conversation from a movie or documentary. I didn’t recognize where it was from, but the serial-killer content adds a layer of creepiness. Modulations give it a nice tension, and the noise parts are constantly in the background. But then “Voidfiller” starts a death industrial track according to all the definitions in the textbook. I wouldn’t have minded the beat / rhythmic structure more in the foreground, but that’s a matter of taste. This style continues with “Rudy”, which has a way heavier layer of noise in there. I suspect that is Kadavers’ addition, but since I’m unfamiliar with Destruktionsanstalt and Ideal Father’s work, it’s just a guess. It’s massive, for sure! “Thriller” and “Catholic Sex” continue in the same style, and these gentlemen complement each other very well.
    In the final track, “Father”, a few orchestral chords and an analogue-sounding synth layer are put in the mix giving the whole track a bit of that CMI feel. Samples of a wandering soul asking the father for forgiveness complete it. So yes: All the boxes are checked. We have a great new addition to the global death industrial portfolio here. (BW)
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NEO ARCHĒ – PEARLS (CD by Edgetone Records)

Neo Archē (meaning new principle in Greek) are a duo based in Santa Barbara; a fitting name since they mix 8th-century Gagaku imperial dance music which is really slow and ambient, with minimalist and prog rock sensibilities.
    Fabio Rambelli is an Italian academic teaching and researching Japanese religion and cultural history at UC Santa Barbara. Rory Lindsay is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, Canada. He specializes in Tibetan religion. He was visiting UC Santa Barbara, and they recorded this record during the lockdown. They got a few ancient Japanese instruments on loan from the University of Los Angeles and used them to record the music. I hadn’t heard of the shō, a mouth organ consisting of 15 bamboo reeds with metal tongues and two longer ones, representing the wings of the phoenix, the eternally reborn bird that burns up and transforms into an egg from which a new phoenix hatches. It is said that the sound of the shō represents the phoenix’s voice. My wife thinks I have too many instruments, but I definitely want a shō. Although the sound is digitally treated (I think) with a lot of reverb, the sound is very ethereal, less harsh than most harmonicas. Then there’s the Shimano, meaning struck things, several kinds of percussion. And last but not least, Rambelli plays the saxophone (soprano and tenor, although the latter sounds more like a barytone to me or a tenor in the lowest octave). Lindsay plays gaku-biwa, a four-stringed lute for Gagaku music. In several pieces, they are joined by other musicians. Lish Lindsey on ryūteki, a bamboo flute, Nobuo Nishimura on trumpet and effects, Andrea Raos with lyrics, voice (on Cani: a long list of Italian words), and electric bass, Takashi Seo on contrabass and additional percussion and Ryan Song on cello). Mind you, Rambelli and Lindsay made the principal recordings separate from each other since the campus was in lockdown. On to the music: in one word: incredibly beautiful! It’s a joy to listen to these tracks. In Wild Honey, it’s shō, soprano and tenor saxophone, so Rambelli is playing solo, in overdub with three instruments. Amber variations have double bass and cello added, with both instruments adding a whirlwind and movement to the music. Pearls could be an alternative soundtrack to the opening credits of Bladerunner. Pearls II, the closer, has a sped-up sample of genuine Gagaku music (I think), which adds a different flavour to this track. The music is spacious and slow, with the shō providing slowly changing harmonies, plucking the gaku-biwa in many distinct combinations. Listen to this and let all the worries in the world slide off of you. (MDS)
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The title of Autorhythm’s debut album deals with something from real life for the composer, Joakim Forsgren: in 2015, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Before, he was a bassist in various punk and rock groups, but these days, he plays around with “analogue vintage gear”, meaning synthesizers and drum machines. The label cooked up a lengthy press text that mentions Brian Eno and how his synthesizers were forced to “perform outside their intended parameters in a manner reminiscent of how legendary band leaders such as Captain Beefheart and Miles Davis would push their musicians out of their comfort zones”, which I raise an eyebrow (both of them). Other names are dropped to tell us to whom the music will appeal (Schnitzler, Cluster, Harmonia, Bruce Haack, or Delia Derbyshire), which I can see. There are six tracks on this album (also available on LP), and they are pretty decent pieces of electronic music. Not of the dance floor variety, even when the rhythm machine dominates in every track. The tempo is mainly slow, making this more of a head nod album. And indeed, those synthesizer sounds are akin to the seventies Schnitzler’s work. Though not the most original album I ever heard, I found this most enjoyable. I accidentally hit the repeat button and found myself doing something other than concentrating on writing reviews, and I heard the album three times in a row. I never thought, ‘Oh, I heard it already; let’s move on to something else’, which made this a most entertaining record. (FdW)
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MATTER – FRAMMENTI (CD by I Shall Sing Until My Land Is Free)

As the war in Ukraine contains, so does the label I Shall Sing Until My Land Is Free. Not many of this label’s releases include singing, but that’s beside the point. Fabrizio Matrone is the man behind Matter, and the music he creates fits the forceful push that the labels want to give to the people in Ukraine. I only heard one cassette by him (see Vital Weekly 1335), and it’s hard to avoid the Pan Sonic reference. As on a previous incarnation of this label, when it was called Kvitnu, which had many devotees to the harsh and brutal beats, all within a particular sub-section, each with a small diversification of the original template (not that Pan Sonic had a very singular sound, but that’s another thing of course). As on his previous release, Matter has eight pieces of music filled with dark and relentless beats. You could see the marching of soldier boots in these beats, but maybe that is a negative connotation. Or, perhaps, music to stay awake to, as a reminder to keep on fighting (and, again, there is a downside to that as well, music used in torture). Next to the rhythm, a bunch of synthesizers humming darkly, minimally tucked in with the beats, driving along and ornamenting the beats. Sometimes a bit more melodic, however sparse that notion is, and a piece like ‘Propaganda’ reminded me of Starfish Pool (whatever happened there?). The pieces are between three and six minutes, which sounds like the best length for these minimalist blasts. The tempo of these songs isn’t always that high, so it’s not dance music per se. At the same time, I am unsure if dance music is the idea here. With (Italian) titles such as ‘Idealogia’, ‘Propaganda’, ‘Resistenza’, or ‘Oppressionee’, no translation required, I think you can also see this as a political manifesto. And yes, I am one of those advocates that emphasize that music has no political meaning; context is important, and that’s where the political element comes in. These titles and this label make clear that the music should be a political statement, or rather a humanitarian one, to end the invasion of a country. (FdW)
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While playing this new double CD by Schneider TM, Dirk Dresselhaus’ musical venture since the mid-90s, I am trying very hard to remember if and when I last heard his music. I don’t know, but it must have been long ago. Also, from his extensive list of collaborations, I may have only heard most albums he did as Die Angel, with Ilpo Väisänen but not the one with Oren Ambarachi, BJ Nilsen, John Duncan, or Zappi Diermaier; the list is longer. I didn’t know that Dresselhaus builts his own “electroacoustic guitars and effects” that include “removable bakelite lids and piezo mics, that can be used as percussion tools, vocal mics, or filled with interesting sounding materials, like screws, etc.” There is also something in which the guitar has ‘playable reverb springs” in combination with modular electronics. There are eight pieces on this double CD (also available as a 2LP). Admitting that my frame of reference is next to zero here, I can’t say much about the development of the music here concerning his previous work. I think the eight pieces are quite a mixed bag of pieces. ‘Pluralität’, for instance, is a rather dull piece of jazzy electronic guitar doodling. ‘(J=O)’ is a strong drone piece, ‘Holomechanik’ is a nice one with some sparse industrial rhythm. ‘Pollucit’ is a fine noise outing, but ‘Austritt’ is too long in its ambient meandering. The title piece, the longest in this collection, proves that Schneider TM can do a long and interesting piece, as this one is meandering, trippy and psychedelic. This album showcases the possibilities of building guitars (well, partly, at least) and adding weird elements to them, and the results are thus quite varied. I am unsure if the variety works for the album as a whole advantage. For my taste, the pieces are too mixed, but I can imagine others thinking that is a big plus. (FdW)
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The name of Andrea Pensado came up only a few weeks ago, in Vital Weekly 1385, when she contributed vocals to an LP by Elka Bong, or rather, Elka Bong and Pensado as a guest on one side and Steve Davis on the other side. We have to go back a lot of Viatl Weekly issues to find another solo release from her. In Vital Weekly 783, I reviewed her ‘Ktotam’ CD for Zeromoon. To recap something, Pensado studied music in Argentina and Poland and currently lives in the USA. Since then, she had several solo releases in which voice and electronics are the main ingredients. In my previous review, I mentioned that she used max/MSP, but I am unsure of her recent work. Maybe digital processing plays some part in this music, but I can also see a role for analogue apparatus. I don’t remember that old release, but somehow I think this new release is noisier than her previous work. Her music can be classified as noise music, certainly the longest, ‘Learning To Love Insanity’. But in all three tracks, totalling forty-one minutes, she plays around with vocal sounds that may have (or not) a meaning, and she feeds those to a bunch of electronics, responsible for the suitable destruction of language as we know it. Throughout, Pensado’s music is quite chaotic but also dense. Everything happens everywhere, and she doesn’t allow for any moment of rest in her music. This is undoubtedly not easy listening, and her outburst of noise is a blast. Think of Henri Chopin in the hands of Merzbow in the early to mid-90s, and yet, Pensado has a sound that makes it all very personal, somewhere between an attack on the listener’s sense and catharsis, to let her inner beast out. Not music for every day, and this might be my noise fill of this week. (FdW)
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Music by Jozef Dumoulin was reviewed several times (Vital Weekly 13701368). Most recorded with others, this new release is his second solo release. I admit not always being blown away by his music. I considered quitting when I heard the first piece, ‘Ear Of The Ear’ because this made me think this was going to be another jazz release. As (apparently) like on his first solo CD, this new work sees a central role for the Fender Rhodes piano. There is room for synthesizers, electronic beats, voices, guitar and lots of field recordings. This album has fourteen tracks, and it is a most confusing and strange bunch of pieces of music. ‘Altijd Koko Ziek’, the shortest recorded with Ayaan Dumoulin, his young child, should be skipped. Sometimes, Dumoulin offers some kind of space jazz, such as Rafael Toral once produced (or maybe still does?), occasionally chaotic or melodic, with some beats and voices (in ‘Seed Syllables’ as the most prominent of the lot). Sometimes all quiet and contemplative, such as ‘Eighteen Chords For An Angel’, which I greatly enjoyed. However, the variety is also too much. If anything, I’d say this music is a rollercoaster ride, bumping all over the place, and there isn’t a lot to hold on to. Whatever track I select for the podcast, you won’t get a very accurate idea of the whole release. Head over to the composer’s Bandcamp and judge for yourself. (FdW)
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Second album by this young trio from Norway. All tunes are written by double bassist Georgia Mae Wartel Collins, currently doing her jazz studies master at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Sweden-born, she studied at NTNU in Trondheim and decided to stay. The other two are Karl Hjalmar Nyberg on tenor saxophone and Andreas Winther on drums. Both play together in a couple of other bands. All songs are relatively short and don’t overstay their welcome. It’s a wonderful release worth listening to multiple times, with head-bopping rhythms and bass plunks. Melody is, for the most part leading. (E)motion is a tour de force on double bass, solo, playing with the harmonics of the snares. Impressive. Brook is aptly named a calm, flowing brook with a soothing melody, just like the sound of a brook. It’s not all melodic and straightforward: Whale Song has a more experimental section with jagged bowing and tremolos in the sax. My favourite for now is ‘Violet’, with a driving bass line that changes throughout the tune and excellent drumming accompanying a minor melody that changes into a major. It’s wonderful. The improvement on this one is minimal and refreshing to my ears. This, and I mean the whole record, not just Violet, should be heard worldwide. It’s a refreshing take on impro and jazz music. (MDS)
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For a brief moment, I considered looking into the whole format thing here. The CDR is 73 minutes, and there is an LP version, which I am sure isn’t the same length. But why bother? Why not sit back and listen to the music and read the vast amount of information that came along for the ride? Devin Gray, based in Brooklyn and Berlin, is a musician who has played with various improvisation and jazz musicians since 2006. ‘Most Definitely’ is his debut solo release and, as such, a showcase of his multiple interests in playing the drum kit. And to that kit, Gray adds electronics. Not all the time, but surely on numerous occasions. There are three themes here, or rather, approaches, soft, medium and loud; I believe they might run alongside each other in one piece. Of the 23 tracks, 19 are between a minute and two minutes. Two are 18 and 20 minutes. Of course, you know that I am not particularly enthusiastic about works of improvised and free jazz nature. Still, Gray has something interesting to offer in his short pieces, especially when he freely unleashes electronics in these. Whatever he plays, soft, medium or loud, he does that with some great power. There is something electroacoustic about the music, but coupled with the briefness of the pieces, some of these pieces have a tremendous noisy edge, almost punk in some ways. Or a short blast of industrial music. Gray does the same in his long pieces but now in a style that sounds more like traditional improvised music. I was, at times, reminded of Jon Mueller, with whom he may share a similar love of minimalism. These are fine pieces, but they also take away some of the raw energy in the short tracks. I wouldn’t have minded a release with just the 19 short pieces. That would have been a bold statement, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, the music is still compelling, but it also is a weighty affair now. Plus, what saved this for me is his love for electronics and electroacoustic; this makes a beautiful addition to the drumming. (FdW)
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SMAELY P – (ARE YOU TAKEN) ABACK (CDR by Chocolate Monk)

Twice before, I reviewed music from Norm Mueller, who goes by the name Ypsmael (Vital Weekly 1313 and 1342), but for whatever reason, he tossed the letters in the air and stuck them as Smaely P together. One of the previous releases was a collaboration with Brian Day, also known as Eloine, and we know him as a man who creates weird constructions that create sound. Maybe that experience led Smaely P to create music using scrap metal and object-based tin percussion, cymbals, idiophones, actual bells and whistles, shepered’s flute [sic], Hohner harmonica, broken membranes, but also field recordings, Korg MS-20, and voice. He calls these eight pieces “hand-cranked amalgamations”. It sounds like he recorded a bunch of improvisations and stuck these on a four-track cassette, maybe most of the times in a random order, and then did a mix. I say most of the time, as a piece like ‘Took You In, Archetypsmael From Afar’ is relatively coherent in its droney and reverb meanderings. But otherwise, there is quite the rough tumble of sounds going on here, a bric-a-brac collage of sounds that works wonderfully well. Maybe also because of the lengthy and funny titles, I was thinking about Nurse With Wound and HNAS. The chaos of collage, the studio as an instrument, cooking up surrealistic pieces of music. Throughout, there is a solid musical thread in these pieces, which makes it less electro-acoustic improvisations and more something, well, for the lack of a better word, musical. The harmonica and cymbals, along with the sustaining sound of the Korg, provide these musical elements, in which Mueller freely explores the rest of the junkyard. None of these seems too long or too short, and with one being over one minute and one almost eleven, Smaely P knows what he’s doing. A very refined album. (FdW)
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While playing this new release by David Lee Myers, deconstructing the music of Johan Sebastian Bach, I am thinking about Bach and deconstruction. That might seem a regular thing, right, but here is what to consider: does that deconstruction require any knowledge of Bach’s music? And what do I know about Bach? Not a lot, other than his music is very mathematical. I don’t know if Myers is a fan of Bach or if the fact that Lucas Foss did an LP in 1967, ‘Baroque Variations’, was enough to get him going. The only bit of Bach I recognized is the opening of ‘Fullness Of Wind’ which starts with opening notes of the ‘Toccata And Fugue In D Minor’ (one of those signature classical tunes that I assume everybody knows, perhaps not by name; I only had to look up how to spell it), which he effectively stretches out, repeats and mangles. He applies This process in all nine pieces on this album, but not to pieces that sound familiar. Now that made me think, how relevant is the fact that these are Bach’s pieces? The more interesting question is, why was it released as Arcane Device and not by David Lee Myers? Then it would have sounded even more ‘classical’, an interpretation. And, to what extent does Myers apply techniques from Arcane Device in this deconstruction? Is there some kind of feedback system in play here? I don’t know, but it sounds like something else here. Think sampling and computer-based processing, for instance, stretching, looping, and mangling classical sources, rather than Myers playing Bach in a more traditional meaning of ‘playing’. I would have never thought that Arcae Device would do a record that can be labelled as ‘plunderphonics’, but why not? And at that, he does a great job of doing that. Classical fragments still shimmer through here, but electronics dominate the record. Playful music that, for all I know, doesn’t have much to do with mathematics; or Bach. I don’t think I would have known it was Bach’s music and probably would only have frowned upon that toccata thing. As such, it’s a strange concept, but also: whatever, the music is great. (FdW)
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ILLUSION OF SAFETY – FRONTAL (cassette by Human Hood Recordings)

It’s not a well-hidden fact that I am a massive fan of Illusion Of Safety. You are probably right if you believe I am not an objective reviewer for any new release. On this new cassette, IOS’ core member Dan Burke goes all creative on the group’s archive and creates new music with sounds recorded between 1984 and 2023. Burke plays piano, synthesizer, sampler, guitar and field recordings. However, Illusion Of Safety is not a pure Burke solo project; others were a member over the years, such as Mitch Enderle, Thymme Jones, and Jim O’Rourke. The latter three appear on a live cut from 1989, making up about the last ten minutes of the second side. While there are individual cuts on the band’s Bandcamp, the music is best enjoyed as two long pieces, as intended by releasing it on cassette. Sounds intertwine, create a new shape, and morph into something else. Think musique concrète, with a strong emphasis on ‘small sounds’, drones, and extended techniques to extract sounds from more conventional instruments. While, perhaps, loosely improvised, the music here has very little to do with improvised music. That is because all of these recordings are extensively layered and mixed. I read (and I didn’t know this) that Burke initially thought of calling the group Music Without A Film, and that’s precisely the kind of music they make. Music that is a story, finely sliced and edited, so there is an abstract narrative. And if you think you have no visual imagination, Burke has a youtube channel,  where he uploads videos to his music, and these videos are equally disturbing and beautiful. It’s for this kind of music we once coined the term ‘ambient industrial’, and that is a term that still covers music. Here too, the disturbance and the beauty work hand in hand. I know it is hardly an objective review, but it is what it is. (FdW)
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EVAN LINDORFF-ELLERY – SWOLLEN AIR (cassette by Tripticks)

Usually, I am in contact with Evan Lindorff-Ellery regarding releases on his Notice Recordings label. As we saw previously (Vital Weekly 1311), he has his music released by other labels. People who run labels know others doing the same thing. Of these three recent ones, ‘Tape Collage Piece 2011’ is the oldest and is a collage of field recordings, tapes and percussion. As far as I can judge these things, I believe side A deals with field recordings and side with percussion. A large section of the first side is used by electromagnetic humming, a heavily amplified room in which someone is drinking coffee and some highly obscured tape manipulation. It all sounds very lo-fi, and that is not to say low in volume. Lindorff-Ellery puts up the volume, and unwanted frequencies aren’t brushed out but amplified and left in the front-row seat. If you are familiar with the kind of music Falt releases, then be advised that Lindorff-Ellery’s music fits the roster well. On the other side, the music isn’t percussive in any traditional sense of the word, but one can spot the element of repetition. Maybe derived from playing any kind of percussion, perhaps using electronic (or controlling the output via synthesizer), the results here are very much in a similar lo-fi style and sound very mysterious. Lindorff-Ellery takes his time to explore the sounds meticulously and minimally, but nothing lasts too long; he knows when to move on.
    Ten years later, Evan Lindorff-Ellery found himself one “afternoon in a small cabin with lots of windows in West Saugerties, NY”, and he brought “an electric guitar, contact mic, amp, recordings, objects”, and the field recordings were from “Maine running through the electric guitar”. The titles indicate the methods and sources used; one is ‘Electric Guitar Feedback Field Recording iPhone Objects Contact Mic’, and the other is ‘Amp Hum Electromagnetic Feedback Field Recordings Contact Objects Mic Handling’. I believe this means that field recordings are played through the guitar’s pick-up and that objects and a contact microphone are used on the strings or body of the guitar. This creates a dense mass of sound on side A. On the other side, with the guitar removed, it is all a tad more abstract, and it sounds like someone’s hovering over the house, bumping into furniture. There is not enough electricity, so it occasionally interrupts. This side has more of a conceptual feeling, whereas the ‘guitar’ side has a noisy guitar improv rock feel but slowed down. Though less than on the other cassette, the lo-fi elements are still a feature in his work, but working on a different level. Also, the two pieces, clocking in at twenty-two minutes per piece, are on one level and stay there. While the sound doesn’t stay in one place and has a somewhat rocky ride, the idea of the pieces is singular, and Lindorff-Ellery works these out pretty well.
    The last cassette (for now) has the most information. During a family visit in the summer of 2021, he went to the Monhegan Community Church on a tiny island off the coast of Maine. He brought along “Clamshells, sea glass, books, a frame drum, an acoustic guitar, a small piano, metal links, wood, plastic”, along with his bodily movements, with the church being the resonating place to have small actions floating around. He placed microphones in two places, one near the window and one close to the objects, and we hear a collage from these recordings. One recording was made during the rainy evening, and one during a sun burst-covered morning. I think that these times of the day had an impact on Lindorff-Ellery’s playing. ‘Evening’ is primarily a quiet rumble of object rumble, shuffling and moments of inactivity. The latter doesn’t mean an all-quiet approach, as there is also some sound. On the ‘Morning’ side, the music seems fuller and livelier and even sees an improvised bit, with the guitar being strummed. I am unsure that this musical interlude is a nice distraction or a break from whatever is going on. I go for the first, a nice change of scenery. Of the three releases, this is the one that is the least lo-fi sounding and the most improvised, even when much of this is about shuffling and moving objects around. Some quiet listening indeed, and one must have a somewhat Zen state of mind. This is not the kind of music to play and not pay attention to. I imagine you either miss out on something or’ll be annoyed. It is all of a more conceptual nature. (FdW)
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MODELBAU – BANDEINDER (cassette, private)

I stopped introducing this guy because of his high activity and frequent reviews. So don’t start me, and don’t ask. Instead, if you still don’t know Modelbau by now, it’s time to start using the search engine on the Vital Weekly archives ( There, I said it!
    It’s no secret we – the reviewers @ Vital – also get to review each other’s stuff when there is something new. And Modelbau being quite productive means I get to write a lot about his work. I think I do a reasonable job because he keeps asking me to do it again. But sometimes you get something in your hands, and while listening, I get curious, philosophical, intrigued or wholly baffled by what I hear. In this way, a release raises more questions than it answers. “Bandeinder” turned out to be one of those.
    Yesterday I handed in the review – first draft – and although it scratched many surfaces, it was a mess after re-reading. My head was going in ADHD-modus, and I couldn’t stop asking questions that bounced all over and through my head while listening. Result: I wanted to rewrite the review and order my thoughts with what the release did to me. So you guys will be triggered to listen/buy/support Modelbau for this one too.
    The basics for “Bandeinder” were simple: recreate the setup Brian Eno used for ‘Discrete Music’ and experiment with it. All experiments were recorded on tape and mixed into two compilation tracks/soundscapes of 45 minutes. So “Bandeinder is no less than 90 minutes of experiments properly mixed, manipulated and trusted to (recycled) tapes. Sound-wise, it’s what we expect from Modelbau: deep droning, micro-movements and a thorough and highly saturated atmospheric soundscape. Beautiful all way with here and there a few moments of ‘searching’, but that only emphasizes the experimental setup. As written before, this is a tape filled with experiments. That means exploring and finding the edges or boundaries of your experimental setting. And while touching the limits, you might also cross one or two, which might give a weird or unexpected sound. But leaving those moments in your recording documents the experiment properly.
    So the main question that entered my head was: “Did Eno in ’75 come up with an ‘instant’ method of creating ambient?” followed by “Did Frans just Q.E.D.’d the fact that Eno’s early work was a one-trick-pony?” and this latter heavily shaking my vision on what ambient imho is all about. These questions I don’t know if I should answer in this review. I tried in the first draft, but it became incoherent rambling of an old guy losing his faith. But I want to share these thoughts with you to emphasize that art’s power is making you think. And in this case, listening to a cassette by a colleague on a Friday afternoon may even change how you look at certain ideas you hold as truthful or irrefutable.
    To make a long story short: I might have written longer on this subject in general and this release in particular. But not today. “Bandeinder” is two mesmerizing 45-minute soundscapes that seriously have been playing the whole day in my office. Because the pieces are so long and varied, you constantly forget what you just heard. So each time you’re playing the tracks, you hear new things, a new combination of sounds, or another little happy accident. Synth layers, ‘kapotte’ sounds, piano … Anything you can expect from Modelbau with a nice dose of feedback on tapes and saturation sorcery. (BW)
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