Number 1391

LANCE AUSTIN OLSEN – THE PIT (CD by Ftarri/Hitorri) *
400 LONELY THINGS – MOTHER MOON (CD by Cold Spring) *
B.E.F. – MUSIC FOR STOWAWAYS (CD by Cold Spring Records) *
BEN CAREY – METASTABILITY (LP & CD by Hospital Hill) *
TIM OLIVE – TUXFORD FUMBLE (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings) *
TIM OLIVE – CONE (cassette by Buried In Slag And Debris)  *
KRAPPOK – Kritschat (3″CDR by Grubenwehr Freiburg)
THE HATERS/JUGENDWERKHOF – CRUSTACEAN (cassette by Grubenwehr Freiburg) *
EMILIANO ROMANELLI – TABULATURA (VOLUME 2) (cassette by Cassauna Tape Company) *


This new batch of Ftarri releases proof that this Japanese label is expanding its wings. Whereas they had a lot of Japanese musicians and recordings from the Ftarri stage, here, only one is like that. Also, musically, this label expands beyond the more standard electro-acoustic improvisation.
    I started with Sergio Merce, whom I had not heard before. He’s from Buenos Aires and plays the saxophone and electronics. Halfway through the twenty-seven minutes I read this, I was surprised; I had not yet heard a saxophone. The text says that he uses a microtonal saxophone that he built “by radically modifying the mechanisms”, whatever that means. On ‘Traslasierra (expanded landscape)’, he plays an electronic wind instrument (EWI), virtual stringed and wind instruments controlled with the EWI, field recordings and synthesizer. Now that I know all of this, it is easier to hear the wind instrument. I am not the biggest lover of the saxophone, but that goes for the more traditional playing, and that’s not something that has Merce’s interest. The music is very minimal and drone-like but somewhat fragmented. Merce isn’t shy of adding a few seconds of silence between the pieces. He layered various sustaining bits together and let them work together in a beautiful, almost Zen-like way. It’s hard to tell which are the wind instruments, which electronics and which field recordings. What and where, so I wondered; there is one bit in which I recognized ocean sounds. This is absolutely a great release. Very refined, a revelation. Sadly way too short. Where can I hear some more?
    In Vital Weekly 1383, I was surprised to learn that Lance Austin Olsen is from 1943. He was only a painter for many years, but since the late 90s, he also composed music. On ‘The Pit’, he uses a trainer guitar, MIDI organ, piano amplified objects, voice, field recordings, found 1950s radio show sample, wax cylinder recording and homemade instruments. Much like Merce, Olsen uses the fragmented form here, especially in the long title track, including bits of silence between them. But unlike Merce, who uses the same sounds to create his music, Olsen looks quite different. In each segment, he seems to explore one or two sounds, all played out very carefully. Bit of bells here and some old records there, and it all comes together in the final section, in which there is also a bit of voice. It sounds both pastoral and freighting. In ‘Quasimodo’s Dream’, there are no silences or fragments. Still, the collage form uses various layers of field recordings and electronics, and all played out in a similar tranquil mood but now as a continuous piece of music. Here too, I hear sounds that are relaxing and yet also somewhat scary. Maybe I am imagining things here because I recently watched too many horror movies. Whatever the case, this is a beautiful release and one that is far outside Ftarri’s standard program, but it makes a great addition.
    Minimalism is also at the core of the music of Alfredo Costa Monteiro. I reviewed several of his releases, and he rarely disappoints me. Here he two compositions for accordion, melodica, feedback and cymbal. One is nineteen minutes, the other close to twenty-one. I don’t know why he chose a German title (‘distance’) for the release. German titles for the pieces, respectively, ‘room, distance, distance’ (both two different German words with the same meaning) and ‘Interval, span’; I admit I don’t know what this is about, but my best guess would be that it deals with the spaces between the sections that both pieces consist of. Most of the time, I believed in hearing only one instrument, but upon closer inspection, this wasn’t the case. Monteiro cleverly plays with micro-tuned instruments in strict accordance with the feedback. In the first piece, their sections are short at the beginning, but they expand a bit more in the following twenty minutes. In the second piece, they seem, more or less, of the same length. In the first, the overall tone is a bit higher in frequency and lower in the second; the first is more minimalistic, with sounds staying together, and the second is a slightly more expansive sound, fuller if you will. With each section followed by about fifteen seconds of silence, the music has a delicate yet slow rocking boat sense. Unsure if that is Monteiro’s intention, but this is a beautiful Zen-like experience.
    The final release couldn’t be as different s the previous three. First of all, it’s a trio; it’s recorded at Ftarri by three Japanese musicians; Masamichi Kinoshita (commercial electronics), Tomoki Tai (remodelled and self-made electric devices) and Takumi Ikeda (electronics). What makes this also different is the musical content. By now, we know Ftarri isn’t always releasing carefully, quiet improvisations on unusual (mostly, anyway) instruments, and as such, this isn’t different, but the outcome here is entirely noise based. I can’t imagine what these instruments look like, but they produce a racket. Noise, but not in the traditional noise sense, not like, say, Merzbow. The music is recorded with a pair of microphones, which always adds a different quality to the music. There is distortion, chaos, and hardly a continuous stream of noise, which is quite nice. One piece would have been sufficient for my appetite, but two of them, making up seventy-five minutes, is a bit of a stretch. But maybe there is a Zen-like thing that requires this to be of such a length; maybe my Zen works differently. (FdW)
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It’s one of those weeks… Being a former ginger/redhead, I have problems handling the moist 25-30 Celcius) heat in the Netherlands. So I hardly get to do anything, and I get distracted all the time, like work and such. So I have been trying to start a review of “Mother Moon” by 400 Lonely Things several times, and each time I end up just listening and floating away, Drifting on the waves … And I didn’t even feel bad about listening to it over and over and over …
    Produced by William Basinski, 400 Lonely Things is a project by Craig Varian inspired by recordings around, based in, or related to an old mill. A beautiful PDF was sent to us, and it might well be part of the Bandcamp download, but how you get your hands on it when you get the CD: I don’t know. The 400 Lonely Things concept focuses on the arrangement of lost and found sounds, and the melancholia is certainly audible in the release. Also, the journey aspect is very well set in this release, the journey being the descriptive part of environments through sound as a medium. So in many areas where the boxes should be ticked to make a release interesting, those boxes are actually ticked.
    Musicwise, “Mother Moon” is an absolute beauty. Almost 80 minutes, with deep drones, minimal melodic lines, scarce structural sounds (no rhythms), ambience and, on occasion, a mesmerizing voice preaching solitude and melancholia. And here and there, an ever so slight ‘touch of Coil’ (for example, in “In Darkness”). So at this point, I would say: Get the album and don’t worry too much about everything else. But the booklet and combined conceptual approach is a bit of a downer for me, as it turns out. I mean: Concepts make many releases I know/heard/have enjoyable, and I know all about it as an artist myself. But in a weird way the conceptual approach is so elaborate and massive that it almost forces me to think about it. And all I want to do is just enjoy the flow, as a psychonaut, ride the waves and not be bothered too much with all that mumbo jumbo. But that’s just me. I think… I hope… Other than that: Go Flow, Go Dream, Go Listen, Just ‘Be’ …
    As long as mesmerizing 400 Lonely Things is, as short and in your face the collaboration between Drew Daniel and John Wiese is. “Continuous Hole” is the result of Drew (known from Matmos) and John (a.o. Sissy Spacek and together with Phil Blankenship in LHD) ten-year collaboration where they recorded and reworked sounds into rhythmic patterns. But the question is: Is this a rhythmic album? Well, it’s not danceable if that is what you think. It is more structured than rhythmic, which is – as you might have understood from a year of reading my reviews – how I mostly like my rhythms. Of course, I like rhythmic music, but that is for dancing; this is an album for listening.
I’ve listened to the album several times, and the origin of the sounds remains a mystery for me. They’re probably from all over the place, samples, field recordings, computer generated and everything in between or outside that perspective. This mystery adds to the mystery and enjoyment of this album. And when you listen carefully, you might hear a bit of the subdued yet heavily manipulated layers of Coil’s ‘Love’s Secret Domain’ or ‘Stolen and Contaminated’ era. Now the question is whether Drew or John have been exploding frogs to get those sounds…
    The eleven tracks have a total playing time of only 36 minutes, making it quite short. It’s mostly well thought of experiments in a well-guided direction, but except for a few of the longer tracks (like “Abhorred Shears”, “Done It” or “Sleek Disorder”) the tracks focus on the experiment instead of telling a story as a track. Not that that isn’t good, because it’s all delightful in a kind of glitchy musique concrete collage way. But a tiny bit more coherency would have added a bit to the continuity. (BW)
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Another round of introductions here. Satatuhatta is a Finnish label “focusing on harsh noise and experimental sounds” and has about sixty releases, mainly on cassettes but, as we see here, also on CD. Many (or, instead, most) names are all new to me. Jaakko Vanhala is the man behind Primitive Wings, his latest project. Previously he worked as Zoät-Aon, Secret Apex and Vanhala. The cover doesn’t provide us with the necessary information concerning instruments, which isn’t a good thing from a reviewer’s perspective. Listening to the eight pieces, running from five to seven minutes, I envisage a combination of reel-to-reel tapes, electronics and a battered synthesizer. The loops Vanhala cuts are long, short and shorter. By playing them all at once (or extensive layering), they never overlap in the same way, while at the same time, they never become very chaotic. Your ears adjust themselves to the proposed order of the sounds. At least, that’s my little pet theory of this week. What he puts on his loops is very hard to say; electronic sounds are a contender for that, but also field recordings. I believe to hear some of that in ‘One Star’. Somewhere below in the mix of mangled loops, some electronics lurk beneath, adding creepiness to the music. Primitive Wings operates primarily in the mid to high-frequency range and has some nasty sounds, but it is not necessarily all about an endless stream of harsh noise. Maybe there is a certain sameness in the sounds used here, which made me think that the album is, perhaps, ten minutes too long, but as always, that might be the idea of the noise plan behind such operations.
    Behind Violent Shogun, we find French musician Remi Dazet. He too works (worked?) under other guises, such as Hattifnattar, Cryptofascisme and Mold, all of which are, so says the label, “swimming in the similar experimental noisy waters”; why a different name, I wondered. Violent Shogun is called his primary project, and the cover mentions the use of tape loops, Serge and Eurorack modular synths, metal junk and apathy (not sure how that translates into sound). The album is dedicated to people who have shitty jobs around the world, working for “the classist, ableist, and racist ruling elite”. While hearing this music, none of this message comes through, I think. I leave it up to your discretion whether that is good or bad. The loops are the primary focus, rough and ready; they are brutal attacks, not in the harshest of senses, but instead controlled and creepy. Whatever Violent Shogun sticks on these loops is another mystery; my ideas range from field recordings to bashing. A bit of junk and the odd bleep from a synthesizer. Whatever emotions are summoned here, fun isn’t one of them. Throughout these thirty-seven minutes, the overall mood is one of depression. But that is an emotion that some people thrive upon, so there is pleasure in the pain, the agony and the ecstasy, if you get my drift. I enjoyed this noisy take on lo-fi sounds, which made it stand out from the traditional flock of noise mongers. (FdW)
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B.E.F. – MUSIC FOR STOWAWAYS (CD by Cold Spring Records)

In 1977, The Human League was formed in Sheffield, England. After signing to Virgin records two years later, they produced two electronic-pop albums (Reproduction and Travelogue) before the band imploded over creative differences. Members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, originally working as computer operators, left the band to form the more experimental project B.E.F. – the British Electronic Foundation. B.E.F. was founded as both a company as a production team, fashioning itself as a mini-corporation negotiating with record companies as equal partners. With Ware and Marsh as the music company part, Fast records label owner Bob Last was the production team member. As a production company, B.E.F. could hire vocalists and session musicians whenever needed. In fact, Heaven 17 was one of the artists the B.E.F. company were meant to ‘produce’ – but we’ll get to that later. Meanwhile, vocalist Phil Oakley continued with The Human League becoming a megastar with hits like ‘Don’t You Want Me’, ‘Love Action’ and ‘Open Your Heart’. After the ‘original’ Human League split in 1980, Ware’s and Marsh’s newborn baby B.E.F. signed with Virgin, recording the material that would end up on the various permutations that was ‘Music For Stowaways’ – first the cassette of that name, but somewhat later, a six-track 45 RPM LP called ‘Music For Listening To’, an eight-track promo-only 33RPM LP confusingly also titled ‘Music For Listening To’. The name-change for the cassette version was clever: the stowaways referred not to refugees but to the new magic plastic toy, the Sony Walkman. Marketed as Sony Stowaway in the UK at its birth, the name was quickly changed to the much-catchier name Walkman. The cassette being the perfect format to listen to new music in the new portable decade. ‘Music For Stowaways’ fits the early 80s as a glove: mainly instrumental tracks using cheap, portable electronic keyboards and synthesizers. John Wilson, 17 years old at the time, provided most of the bass and guitars, Adi Newton of Clock DVA can be heard on the track Uptown Apocalypse. The cassette was split in two halves; side A was called ‘Uptown’ and got the poppy tunes, whereas side B was called ‘Downtown’ with a more impressionistic atmosphere – reminding me of the distinctively different LP sides of Thomas Leer and Robert Rental’s 1979 album ‘The Bridge’.
    On to the music now! This CD reissue features three tracks not on the original cassette and one track, B.E.F. Indent, that appeared unlisted on the 1981 cassette version. Musically, this is what you’d might expect from this project: synthesizers, programmed rhythms, a hint of gloom, a hint of dancing on the volcano, all very much of its time. Tracks like ‘The Optimum Chant’, ‘A Baby Called Billy’ and ‘Rise Of The East’ remind me of early Chris And Cosey, whereas the dreamy ‘Uptown Apocalypse’ and ‘Honeymoon In New York’ could well fit any Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark album. ‘Decline Of The West’ shares a melody line and idea or two with Psychic TV’s ‘Pagan Day’ album – but remember, B.E.F. were first! The most-mentioned track on this cassette is probably ‘Groove Thang’, which was also released by Heaven 17 as the more polished and vocalised ‘(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang’. The song became a mega-hit launching Ware and Marsh’s career as Heaven 17. With this hit, the B.E.F. project, never having performed live, faded into the background and was buried in the rich history of early 1980s electronica. These days, the cassette has been heralded as a cornerstone of early 1980s electronics. Even though I can understand this (also in the context of the eternal need to discover ‘forgotten gems’), to me the album sounds more like its original intention: a demo project of all things the British Electronic Foundation was capable of. This reissue on Cold Spring, both on vinyl and CD (intriguingly not on cassette), combines all the Music For Stowaways recordings and is a great, slightly nostalgic, listen. (FK)
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It has been a while since I reviewed the albums by Ned Milligan, both released by Florabelle Records, his record label (Vital Weekly 1024 and 1111). Maybe that limitation has to do with the fact that he calls himself a “New York-based elementary school teacher and occasional musician”. Of the music here, he says that it is recorded “mostly outdoors, sometimes indoors in York, Maine”. Milligan uses chimes, singing drums, autoharp, field recordings and processing. Some of these field recordings took place at a campfire, and there is some anonymous singing. The campfire is mentioned on the cover, adding to my notion; this music is all very slow and pastoral sounding. Milligan keeps his instruments in the background, especially the chimes that sound like they are on the porch and the musician is in the field, capturing the sounds of a rusty wheelbarrow. The rustic feeling is a recurring theme for the entire album. Tranquil music, not as in ‘inaudible’ but with minimal sounds and likewise minimal movement within each of the eight pieces, yet there is always something to hear. In playing the autoharp, he is very reluctant, as if afraid to touch it; I thought you could be too careful. Milligan’s music fits the UK school of field recording and drone manipulators (Andrew Chalk, Monos, Mirror and such), and he does a great job, but I must also say that his music is in this field and a bit standard. Milligan needs to find a more personal voice. How he should do that, I don’t know. He has all the right ingredients, and don’t get me wrong; he makes some great music, but not yet out of the ordinary. (FdW)
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Perhaps it is too early to tell, but Leo Okawaga’s Zappak label seems interested in a more conceptual approach, and he’s found some exciting musicians for it. This time I am introduced to the music of Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, a Minneapolis-based multi-instrumentalist who is also a member of a group called Realtree. I don’t know much about him otherwise. “The theme of this work is “time and/or clock”. By mixing acoustic instruments’ sounds and a periodic metronome sound, Baldwin tried to cross the boundaries of an instrumental performance and a conceptual sound art.” On this CD, we hear a flute, cornet, harmonium and possibly other instruments, all in a quiet, reflective form of improvising. I guess, as I am unsure of this. To this, Ophoven-Baldwin adds the metronome, but not in a tedious repeating way. In ‘More Of The Tree’, the final (and longest) piece, this is a high-piercing peep sound, but in the other tracks, it seems more integrated but never sounds like a standard metronome. The recordings are placed next to each other most of the time. So there is a bit of music and then a bit of metronome. It all makes up for a very curious album. The kind of music that I find at times fascinating but also of radical nature makes that I may not easily reach for such a thing again. It is one of those albums with an interesting concept, up to a point where I am unsure what the whole point of the concept is, but then the pure enjoyment starts to count. As said, I think this is exciting music but certainly, one to keep one’s attention at all times; this is not an album with sheer entertainment value.
    From Belgium’s Ludovic Medery, I reviewed two albums before (VItal Weekly 1100 and 1250), both released by Unfathomless. It is safe to say that field recordings play an essential role in his work. The conceptual edge here is that Medery uses recordings he made over the last twenty years, travelling and walking, always with his trusty tape record, magnetic tape and microphone. He writes: “As composition work progresses, drifts have seen the light of day. Drifts of places, spaces and times. The rest of the trip could be made thanks to the microphones and the different materials and objects found during these trips. Sound bodies that I had the pleasure of vibrating to capture all their musicality.” He also uses acoustic and electronic devices in his studio and live work. This makes the music more a thing of ‘music’ (to avoid ‘pure entertainment’) and less of a concept. I am not opposed to ‘concept’, but I love a bit of musical fun. The four pieces of ‘L’ombre Blanche’ are a delight to hear. Field recordings are not from one specific place but can be made anywhere, and we hear a lot of birds, but also the scraping of objects and debris, sounds from inside a church, obscured voices and things of unknown origin. Medery scratches and scrapes various objects together and mixes these with his field recordings. As before, the music is intense, and Medery works with a complete sound picture. It reminded me, at times, of the early music of Giancarlo Toniutti, perhaps less acoustic instruments. As many things are happening simultaneously, you can quickly go back to the music again and discover new elements. Regardless of the concept, the music is great here! (FdW)
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The third release of Orquestra del Tiempo Perdido, led by mastermind Jeroen Kimman finds the casual listener clutching at aural straws. ‘Voorland’ -meaning future or destiny in Dutch’- the short opening track sets the bar for the rest. No apparent time signature, or it would be a complicated polyrhythm since it’s only one instrument/synth playing. ‘Flep’ uses polymer and different time signatures for the various instruments, or so it seems, especially apparent in the drums. ‘Flep’ is an old Dutch word for booze, and the complicated polymer does justice depicting someone being heavily under the influence of alcohol. Koessko, on the other hand, changes into structured mayhem with an infectious groove in the bass saxophone with demented animal noises as if they’ve been infected by rabies. This groove could have gone on for several minutes, but no Kimman stops it after a minute. In ‘Berrie’, a sample states: That doesn’t sound right, start over again. Quite the ironic statement, as again, the track sounds as if all players use different time signatures, not in the sense of lousy playing but in a very skilled manner. I could go on and on about all the songs on this release. Words couldn’t do justice to what you will hear on this release. The musicians on this release are largely the same as the ones on the previous one: Amsterdam-based musicians with a track record in improvised music: Anna voor de Wind, Floris van Bergeijk, Joost Buijs, John Dikeman, Koen Kaptijn, Koen Nutters, Michael Moore, Mark Morse, Patricio Wang & Tristan Renfrow. The closing track ‘Manta’ is Jeroen Kimman on guitar with minimal percussion added. Analyzing all these beautiful pieces would be a challenge for a Ph.D. student. Twelve pieces in 52 minutes merit attentive listening. Or have this on while doing chores like washing dishes or mopping the floor. Again, an excellent release. (MDS)
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Let’s do it. I received this one to review, and I’m lost for words. This is a release for everyone who likes sound in its purest form, end of story. If I had only written that, no one would know what I meant, and it would be useless to the reader, the label or the artist. So forgive me for breaking styles on ‘how to write a proper review’; There will be more breaks.
    – I start with the link to the Bandcamp page to order vinyl + additional CD.
    – The pieces are written mostly on the La Trobe system in Melbourne. It is a synthesizer built from Serge paper face panels, and it has been fully restored by Ken Stone, who is probably next to Serge Tcherepnin – who has been making synths now for exactly 50 years – the leading expert on Serge systems.
    – I once was at a concert in Utrecht where Ashley M Puente played two Serge paper face modules, the 73-75 panels. In a little talk, she mentioned that these weren’t really synths but more like analogue computers working within audio range. That one little sentence made me rethink everything I knew about modular synthesis. I’m still grateful for that revelation from a metacognitive perspective.
    – Being an electronic engineer (also), I have built several Serge panels and actually working on two new ones. The electronics within are amongst the most interesting I have seen. Going into basics so deep, each item has a meaning and reason to be.
    So these thoughts haunted my mind, and I could not write something coherent with this info. I’ll just leave it as is because there is still the music. The vinyl is a 5 track drone/ambient/experimental release which you can play over and over and over again. Roughly 17 minutes per side, so there is enough space to contain all frequencies. But there is an additional CD in there too! This includes a recording from Ben at the same Serge system, and it has had some treatment, but… The result is a binaural beauty to be listened to through headphones for the full effect.
Usually, I’ll always try to end a review with a catchy phrase. But not this time, as I’m still lost for words. (BW)
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An unlikely combination if there ever was one. In the 00s, The Hafler Trio (absurd abstract) and Autechre (electronic dance) released three collaborative CDs. In 2021, Vinyl On Demand, released those albums edited into a hefty seven LP set. 500 copies were produced and sold out in a few months. As the sets began to re-appear at absurd prices, Vinyl On Demand decided to do the right thing and re-released the box – making it available for half the price paid on the collector’s market. Haha. Now there is more than one way to skin this rabbit. One: jump off the deep end and try to make sense of The Hafler Trio’s sole surviving member (even though original member Chris Watson is still alive and kicking – and you never know with Dr. Moolenbeek) Andrew McKenzie’s dense wordplay. Two: forget about all that and focus on the sound. For the sake, sanity and patience of you, dear Vital Weekly’s reader, I have chosen the second method. Here we go! This box features seven heavyweight albums and an envelope containing several sheets of semi-transparent grainy images. These are cut in various lengths, most likely to correspond with the ‘story’ that is printed, also in various lengths, on the front cover of each album. It is perfectly possible you like the challenge of reading those black-on-black (what else?) printed stories, but I had to put the kettle on. It looks good, though. And that is that: no more information. Perfect. Even though all three albums are represented on this set, the actual music (or sound, if you prefer that term) makes one experience listening to this set as a cohesive and complete piece of music, which works really well. ae³o & h³ae features static drone and silence as its basis, with lots of unidentifiable quiet sections that may appear close to silence but never really are (vinyl static is now a welcome part of the composition) and louder musique concrete-like bits that never truly overwhelm. And that’s it, really. Presented in a box as a seven LP set, it perhaps allows you to digest the music easier than playing the (admittedly long) CDs. Every album has its appeal – both as part of the set and as an individual piece of music. If you like any of the previous CD-incarnations, you will love this boxed set. If you like The Hafler Trio’s music, you will love this set. If you enjoy Autechre’s music, you will be in for a surprise. And so you see: a long piece of music does not require a long review. Online someone wrote, ‘Goes nowhere, does nothing’. I would like to add to this ‘Goes everywhere, does everything’. A very welcome release and highly recommended! (FK)
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The releases by Food People I heard and seen so far aren’t precisely designed beauties, but this LP looks better, and seeing this is on LP, it, hopefully, reaches a broader audience. I believe I heard almost everything they released (Vital Weekly 120712571270 and 1348). The group’s first release is from 2018; this LP is their sixth. Food People is a trio of Lila Matsumoto, Matthew Hamblin and Greg Thomas. Instruments are not mentioned anywhere, but a guitar is undoubtedly one of them. Otherwise, I am less sure. I think loops of some kind, violin, flute, an electric organ, loops and objects of whatever kind. I struggled with this sort of thing before when discussing their music, but also I know this is not of the most significant importance. Food People’s music is difficult to describe. In the past, I used such things as rural folk, free folk in the countryside, and, in general terms, vague. Plain and straightforward, Food People play mysterious music. Never one thing or another, which is the beauty of it. Vague yet atmospheric. The other day (see elsewhere), I reviewed the first release by Minor House, and there is a slight overlap between them and Food People. The latter is more expansive, using a broader palette of sounds but sharing that post-rocky yet improvised-like sound. Atmospheric, but there is also that direct approach, making it all a bit rough. They wave in loops of voices, vinyl scratches, glitches and field recordings. Pastoral at times, but with that slightly experimental edge, again being one thing and another. Food People are always good, but at their best when a song is about five or six minutes, giving it a lengthier exploration and making it more psychedelic. Sadly only thirty-three minutes, but what an excellent quality. Let’s hope there will be more from them soon, and this LP will bring them a wider audience. (FdW)
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TIM OLIVE – TUXFORD FUMBLE (CDR by Kirigirisu Recordings)
TIM OLIVE – CONE (cassette by Buried In Slag And Debris)

Since he’s not touring as much as he did, Tim Olive has worked more and more as a solo artist, leading to different results. Before 2020, he did an annual tour (sometimes two), and along the way, he met up with other musicians, which brought us an excellent series of collaborative works. There is most of the time, many of his collaborative works are a careful approach, relying more on improvised music, which is all less apparent in his solo career. That is not to say it is a noisy beast, but loud and mean it most certainly is at times. For whatever reason, Olive likes his releases to be around thirty minutes (that is something he shares with his older collaborative works). Both of these releases were recorded last year, July and August and more or less have a similar set-up; radios, tuning forks, magnetic pickups, and synthesizer. The latter is only present on ‘Cone’. There are differences between both releases. On ‘Tuxford Fumble’, there are two pieces, both with the same length (14:46) and starting with a collage of shortwave radio but slowly evolving and morphing into some beautiful subdued drone music; especially on ‘Tuxford Fumble 2’, this is the case. In ‘Tuxford Fumble 1’, it all stays on a rougher edge of drone music, but in both pieces, Olive shows he knows his way around some lo-fi drone music and does some excellent work in this crowded musical field.
    On ‘Cone’, we find four pieces, averaging seven minutes each, and here Olive works with a collage approach towards his noisy sound material. Everything buzzes and shakes; there’s feedback and distortion, but not as a means. Olive is not a man to simply blasts away things. His nose comes across as intelligent and thought out. His improvisational skills help him play around with the material very easily, but by layering and mixing the material, he takes a more compositional route. The music has a tangible feeling as if he’s manually destroying mechanized objects, along with the buzzed repetitions of a synthesizer. This is some mighty intense music, but I enjoyed every minute. Here too, there is a particular element of lo-fi ambient music, but heavily amplified, disguising as noise – an interesting diversification.
    Not Olive-related is the CDR by Minor House, a duo from Kobe, which is the hometown of Olive, and hence I have a copy to review. Minor House is a duo, playing guitar and electric guitar, and they work in such a way that they can play outside. In the download, there are a bunch of photos of the group in the grass, in front of a temple and on the street, playing their music. The liner notes are by Asuna, indicating he proposed them to these recordings, helping them with these. These are the group’s first available recordings and have been around for years, making me wonder why they never made any. The keyboard looks like a regular Yamaha one and is nothing too fancy. The fact that this was recorded outside is not something I hear in these five pieces. For all I know, this could have been a studio recording. Maybe this is because the recordings were made on a karaoke machine. Whatever the case is, the music is nice and quite hard to label as one thing or another. Throughout, the music is quite atmospheric. This duo uses a few battery-battered stomp boxes to alter and change the sound quite a bit. It all becomes lovely ambient music but far away from traditions. Or, come to think of it, post-rock, say Windy & Carl, but, again, also quite different. The titles are indications of the place where they performed their music. There is some lovely rough edge in this music, yet it is also quite tranquil. There is subtle music, but it never becomes static. I don’t like leaving the house, but I’d do it for street musicians such as Minor House! (FdW)
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KRAPPOK – Kritschat (3″CDR by Grubenwehr Freiburg)
THE HATERS/JUGENDWERKHOF – CRUSTACEAN (cassette by Grubenwehr Freiburg)

Sadly we don’t see a lot of three-inch CDs/CDRs anymore. I always liked this format. I always regard this as a playground for quick ideas, a concept, or live recordings. Such a concept, perhaps, is in play here with the duo Krappok, being Grodock, playing with manipulated field recordings and Thilo Castan on cello. All of the field recordings are from crab noises and the ocean. The name comes, with permission, from a comic story by Levin Kurio, as part of the “great German Horrorschocker-Comic-Series.” There are no less than nine tracks on this mini CDR, and it’s a strange affair. Various pieces seem to be purely field recordings, while a piece like ‘Scherenschlag’ is a noise improvisation on the cello, and the volume is a bit louder here. That makes that balance a bit off, and also, the intention is a bit unclear. Just what is it that they are aiming for here? If it is some kind of confusion, then the mission is accomplished. I enjoyed the processed field recordings, as Grodok does a fine job. There are quite a few rounds here, going through the motions, as it were, and that works well. The cello didn’t convince me as much, to be honest. The noise end didn’t work, and what he added to the processed field recordings is unclear. A strange release.
    The theme of the crab sounds continues on the cassette by The Haters and Jugenwerkhof. That is to say, The Haters use it on ‘Crabs About The Polywave’. It opens with a spoken word saying that what calls crabs are crustaceans, quickly sticking in a repeated phrase. I couldn’t help thinking of Steve Reich’s ‘Come Out’, but not as phase shifting, and with the additional loops and noise, the result is also entirely different. Quite a surprise, this piece. Noisy but also, in an odd way, very musical. It is not something that we usually associate the Haters with, so that’s a good thing. The Haters go musical; wonders never cease.
    The other side sees Jugendwerkhof, whom I had not yet heard, and play scrap metal, electronics, broken instruments, feedback and voice. This results in ‘Unrastniederungen’, close to twenty minutes of harsh noise. Not a wall, but close to being one. I cut the volume a bit, made a new mug of tea, enjoyed what I heard and didn’t have the inclination to listen to it again. Good or bad are irrelevant terms in the world of noise. (FdW)
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EMILIANO ROMANELLI – TABULATURA (VOLUME 2) (cassette by Cassauna Tape Company)

Unlike when he was a member of the Italian laptop trio Tu M’, solo works by Emiliano Romanelli are pretty rare. This is the fourth one since quitting Tu M’, and I believe I reviewed them all (Vital Weekly 12001034 and 926). This new cassette is the second volume in the ‘Tabulatura’ series, of which the first was reviewed in Vital Weekly 1034. I copied the basic information from that review, which is a composition from 2008 that uses ‘sixteen pre-recorded guitar parts and a computer with custom software. It is conceived as a system to generate different electro-acoustic patterns’, which are recorded, live without overdubs”. The eight patterns on ‘Volume 2’, as Romanelli calls them, were recorded live in November 2020. I gather he numbers his patterns in a sequence and is now up to #201 to #208. Each segment is precisely five, three, six etc., minutes. Oddly enough, in my previous review, I recounted that I nap at 16:00, but today was a bit earlier, primarily due to the heat. I fell asleep earlier, but it had the same effect. These lovely dark drones are like sound streams, moving slowly and majestic in and out of your space. The guitar element of the music is no longer present, there is just the digital drone, and that’s it, but it is more than enough. This is not the kind of music that forces itself upon the listener but is relatively low in volume (and I believe the composer intends to keep it that way, which means there is space for the listener to amplify something or fiddle with the frequency range on your amplifier). Using quite some time on a fade-in and a fade-out also creates some good headspace, and for me, this is not a cassette of eight pieces of music but two pieces (or one, if you play the digital version) of music with gaps of silence. Minimal variation enhances this idea further. Altogether this is a very consistent release and a true beauty! (FdW)
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