Number 1392

KLEISTWAHR – DON’T LET GO (2CD by Fourth Dimension Records) *
DOC WÖR MIRRAN – ABBEY TOAD (CDR by Marginal Talent) *
SLOW CLINIC & MATT ATKINS – PLAYGROUND (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
CHRIS HILL & STEPHAN BARRETT – DAWN AND SOIL BOUND (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
T.JERVELL – TWO PLANKS OF WOOD (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
SIEGMAR FRICKE – FARMATEQUE (3″CDR by Klappstuhl Records) *
PRIMOŽ BON​Č​INA – YOGA X​/​XII (cassette by Distant Voices) *


Opening another door and meeting new people. I believe I only recognized one name here, Julien Ottavi, usually best known as a computer musician who plays bass and vocals here. Here’s what I know about this. Three groups teamed up for a three-day recordings session in Nantes. Rhys Trimble might not be an ensemble, but he played vocals and effects and wrote the lyrics. The ensembles are AntiRock Missile Ensemble (ARME), and Wolframite. Three guitarists, two drummers, two bass players (one also plays the percussion, quickstep kalimba and tapes) and Benjamin Bourdel on synth, percussion and vocals. I think the voice and lyrics of Trimble are important here, even when they aren’t always easy to understand. That has partly to do with the delivery but primarily due to the noise involved in the music. The label describes this music as “avant-garde punk poetry, extreme noise and experienced no wave”, which is certainly what the doctor ordered. Some punky fury occurs throughout these nine pieces, ranging from two to eleven minutes, mainly in the vocal delivery and the crumbled rock guitars. They are backed by a slightly more freely improvised rattling of drums. Sometimes the music becomes a thunderous storm, which is where this music works best. There is some of that intense aggression in there that needs release. In some of the more improvised pieces, there is also that element of chaos and noise, but they are not as intense; an example is the opening track, ‘Llidiart Cinio’, which is also the longest. It has a few intense moments but also some rambling and rattling, which could have been lost in the editing. My favourites are ‘Sirene’, ‘Epona’ and ‘Emma O’. This one is a bit of a mixed bag but something refreshingly different in terms of noise, improvisation and spoken word. (FdW)
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Here he is again, with another release so beautiful it’s straight in the top of the year list for 2023. It’s not funny anymore to realize that almost everything Sietse / Orphax creates is *that* good. And then with reasonably high output and all the other musical and non-musical activities be concentrated enough to focus on this. ‘Impressive’ is not even coming close to what I want to say.
    “Echoic Memory” was created for a live performance in September ’22 in Bristol, where he performed with another fantastic artist, Scanner. The thought behind the composition was the emotion Sietse got when a recurrent dream happened, and – as the viewer – you are left with the feeling of whether it’s a dream or a deja vu or a memory or a premonition. That feeling is something more of us feel, but not all know how to give it a place. “Echoic Memory” is Sietse’s way of giving it a home and ‘name’ the emotion.
    In a compositional way, the result is a beautiful 37-minute drone piece you want to listen to in several ways. Headphones or an excellent installation or in a background kinda way will leave you with three completely different interpretations of the same music. So perfectly executed, just like we are used from him. Music-wise, I can come up with a few names that this release made me think of. Still, it’s all no surprise to frequent listeners: Eliane, Time Machines, some specific H3O, T.A.G.C, and if I may say it: the minimal side of [law-rah] … Yes, exactly the spectrum of music I listen to when I get a chance. Deep and fully formed on one side, open and left for interpretation on the other side. And always expressive, honest and direct.
    Humphrey Bogart had a line in the movie ‘The Maltese Falcon’, and it might well be the premonition about this album when he spoke of ‘the stuff dreams are made of’. (BW)
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With these two releases, UK’s Adhuman doubled their output, and, at four releases in, it’s too early to say if the label has a particular style, but a kind of outsider aspect is a thread, coupled with a love for the use of voices. This is most clear on this new batch on the CD by Thomas DeAngelo (who on the cover looks like a young Michael Imperioli). He worked with Melkings, Zangsbegluckertum, and Association Copy and ran a label/mailorder Crisis Of Taste. A lengthy text on the cover explains the title and that everything on this CD is taken from somewhere else. Texts read written by others, or using loops and tape players; a description of a painting, or using the phone to alter the voice. All of this makes this one of the stranger products of sound poetry. Sure, some of this sounds like a ‘man with a microphone’, leading to curious results. ‘Support Sathan’ is a voice reading reciting about a painting and the sound of paper). Still, some exciting tape manipulation is going on, such as in ‘Shangri-La’ (which also uses a female voice) and its companion piece ‘Babyi Air’, which uses baby sounds. A specific noisy aspect is not a stranger in these pieces either. In ‘Experiment In American Music!’, we hear street sounds from Olde City, Philadelphia, in a horse carriage and a microphone buried deep in a pocket. Maybe some of these pieces are a bit long, but the strangeness also makes for some compelling listening. One piece uses Antonin Artaud’s ‘Pour En Finir Avec Le Jugement De Dieu’, played with additional room sounds, feedback and real-time manipulation. Sixty-three minutes and some bizarre, spooky and maybe funny (probably not intended, but you never know) results.
    Teaming up on the other disc are Louie Rice, an erstwhile member of the trio VA AA LR, whose music I enjoyed immensely, yet they seemed to have disappeared. Luciano Maggiore, of whom I reviewed many conceptual music releases, which weren’t all winners, but all quite fascinating. There is a conceptual approach to three pieces, or ‘three things’ here. You need to read up on the pieces to understand what they are about, which I can see as a sort of problem. There are no liner notes on the CD, which is a pity. “‘Hissing for White Shoes (#6)’, where an otherwise unremarkable recording of a drive around London is punctuated by loud hissing whenever their vehicle passes an unwitting participant in the street, their footwear acting as a prompt for the vocal intervention”, is the sort of thing that helps to appreciate a nineteen-minute piece of, well, what I can only describe as hissing sounds. Long? Yes. Too long? Possibly. It is, lengthwise, the track is in the middle, but the shortest is, at 17:50, only two minutes shorter (and the longest two minutes longer), so we are dealing here with long pieces. You could wonder if five minutes doesn’t also tell the same story, or why not one hour? At the same time, I think one shouldn’t take their concepts too seriously. In ‘Pocket Fascinator (#7)’, they use the Bucla at EMS and “re-recorded via mobile phone speakers in the duo’s pockets as they attempt to walk in sync with its pulses”. It sounds like the Bradford Red Light District album Come Organisation put out forty years ago but with a humorous streak. In ‘Phone Work’, they use recordings exchanged via Whatsapp, which they feed through a synthesizer. With the machine going bump at times and some feedback, this is, perhaps oddly, the most musical piece of the three or the least conceptual one. A most enjoyable release, but rather for its utter weirdness than for the music it contains. Not something to play daily, but occasionally, and not just to annoy any unwelcome visitors. (FdW)
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With my limited knowledge of classical music terminology, ‘after’ means ‘in the style of’. So if a piece is ‘After Bach’, it is in the style of Bach. Monika Buhajny is a clarinet player who participated in the ‘+’ project by Machinefabriek (see Vital Weekly 1369). She delivered a one-minute music piece but also proposed a more extensive project where she would play classical pieces, and Machinefabriek/Rutger Zuydervelt would unleash his magic. The result is eight relatively short pieces and, thus, a thirty-minute album. The composers are Poulenc, Brahms, Copland, Horovitz, Messiaen, Stravinsky, Debussy and Arnold (not sure who the last one is, Arnold Schönberg or Malcolm Arnold, composer, among many other things, the music for ‘Bridge Over The River Kwai’). The clarinet is an instrument to play a quiet and introspective piece of music, and of the wind instruments, one of my favourites, especially when its sound is close to sine waves. This is not happening here, but Bugajny plays the reflective element well. I couldn’t name any piece from a classical composer that involves a clarinet, except for Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody In Blue’ (more than one clarinet!), which sometimes sounds like some of the playings here. There is a modern classical feel throughout. Zuydervelt may process some clarinet playings but also use it how it is played and recorded, maybe chopping it up or superimposing them. Also, he adds some sounds of his baking; carefully placed crackles, deep rumbling bass sounds, drones, and a handful of glitches. It is quiet music, surely, mostly, but there is some great tension in this music as well; it is not all about very subdued stuff. With some of that deep bass rumbling, the music gets pulled into the deep end, a bit scary and beyond the realm of the standard modern classical music (as far as I am aware). Quite a surprise and quite a lovely CD! (FdW)
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The first notable difference with many previous releases from Mathias Josefson’s project Moljebka Pvlse is that it is now a real group. I don’t know if this is a temporary thing, but next to Josefson on electronics, we have Hara Alsonso (piano), Isabel Fogelkou (harp) and Kris Kuldkepp (double bass). It is not a surprise that these instruments are well suited to play long-form drone sounds, perhaps with some help (a bow, an e-bow), and get those strings resonating along with whatever Josefson does on the electronic side. It starts with a more abstract approach in which many overtones are ringing, which, at times, reminded me of early Organum, which is always a good thing. The CD has one long track, but on Bandcamp, there is a division into three tracks, each about twenty-five minutes. I am unsure if that has to do with the upload capacity of Bandcamp or if these are natural breaks in the piece. I don’t register anything as being a separate section. As the music progresses, the instruments somewhat drift apart and become more apparent. The piano plays sparse notes, the double bass singling out notes, and from there on, the music becomes a most curious combination of what I perceive as long-form acoustic improvisation, colliding with the more composed droning of electronics. There is something orchestral about this piece at several points, certainly towards the end, which bumps with the feedback that is also, at times, part of this piece. A fascinating release, which, for all I know, is quite a departure for Moljebka Pvlse and opening interesting new paths into the future.
    A Polish-Italian collaboration is on the other new release by Zoharum. Here we find Giuseppe Verticchio, a.k.a. Nimh and Tomek Borowski, who works as Fomalhaut. I heard a lot of work from the first but none from the second. As far as I know, this collaborative work was done by exchanging sound files, and they leave it as a mystery who did what here. There is also no information about the instruments used. Electronics play a significant role, but so does the guitar. Field recordings might also have their place but might be heavily processed. The result, which should not be a surprise, is dark ambient. Rough around the edges with that bit of feedback and reverb ringing makes it even better. These seven pieces use a vast array of sounds and ideas, yet they also sound very coherent. The music here is quite a trip, both in the sense of going from one place to the next and creating headspace – another trip. There is undoubtedly a psychedelic element to these. It is not all pure drone music, as the two also use quite a bit of rhythm here and there, which adds an excellent drive to the music. In each piece, they take their time to explore the sound material and never stay too long in one place; in that respect, there is little repetition. An outstanding release of deep atmospheric, slightly disturbing dark ambient music, and maybe that’s the downside, not the most original one. But in the capable hands of these two musicians, it all works out fine. The only thing I didn’t understand is that the cover has no track titles, whereas they are mentioned on Bandcamp. (FdW)
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It seems like not even too long ago, I wrote about Jacek Doroszenko and Marcin Sipiora from Poland and their project Ampscent (1375). The exact words were ‘This is the beginning, “a longer release later this year”, says the info sheet. Can’t frickin wait!’ And guess what, I was chosen to write about ‘that longer release’ because it’s the one I am listening to at this exact moment! I was anxious for this one because, of course, ‘if this is only their first release, I am already interested in how these guys will develop themselves as artists’, another fragment of that previous review. And I’ll start with the good news: they do NOT disappoint.
    The total playing time is 41 minutes, so a tad bit longer than “Nothing but the World”; that is where my only sad remark comes in. Two of the tracks of that fantastic first mCD are also on this one, a total of 22 minutes of doubles, giving this release ‘only’ 18 minutes of new sounds, which is not a ‘full album’. So if you already got that first one, you will have to listen to this one before buying. If you didn’t get the first one and would be interested in a mixture of ‘industrial, noise, harsh electronics, ambient, experimental and techno’, consider this an entire 40-minute album and give it a chance.
    Having said that, I am still very impressed by it. Don’t expect dance music in oldskool thinking, but a more soundscape-like approach like, for example, Orphx had on Via Mediativa. One or more themes are chosen for a track, and then the flowing and experimenting around those themes occur. And each of the tracks has its charm. Still great! (BW)
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A few weeks ago, I reviewed a re-release by Dead Body Love on Tribe Tapes. That particular release was chosen for being a part of the Slaughter Tapes catalogue. Together with Die Sonne Satans and Smell & Quim/Expose Your Eyes. Input Error decided to focus on Dead Body Love himself (being Gabriele Giuliani) and is now re-releasing two oldies (from ’95 and ’96).
    The first one is “Stand In Blood”, the first Dead Body Love release and the first tape release on Gabriele’s own Less Than Zero label. Five tracks spanning around 45 minutes with harsh noise the way you like your noise: HARSH! The fun thing here is that each track has a title somehow relating to the used sound sources. “Fuck It Away” has a droning background with a looped porn sample, “Papa-Krttamah”, a traditional Turkish or Arabian instrument not combined with a drone but with a massive wall of sound. So far, for the conceptual approach on the original Side A.
    The reverse side – in this case, the second part of the CD – knows a different approach and is way less ‘loopy’. “Crime Against The Gods” and “Open Sore” seem to be harsh noise eruptions where there has been a lot of experimenting to get to this point of massiveness. Marvellous. The final track, “Critical Mass”, has more heavily compressed feedback patterns, and somehow, it seems a bit ‘rhythmic’. No nononoooo nono …. Relax, no actual rhythms could be heard in here; it’s still massive as fuck.
    The second re-release was also previously released on Less Than Zero, but the original single-sided, 30-minute tape wasn’t enough for Input Error to put on a CD. So to make it a 60-minute monstrous release, they added the 31-minute “Torture King”. An edited version of this track can be found on the ‘Retrocuts’ Dead Body Love compilation CD from 2007. But okay, stay focussed, BW, which is kinda tricky when listening to this kind of music.
    “Horrors Of The Human Body” was originally a three-tracker. “Human Waste” counts 18 minutes and made me think about one of my all-time favourite acts Namanax. Why I don’t know, but rest assured, I’ll be diving into this at some point in the future. “Skinned & Pierced” is ‘harsh and piercing’; Loads of high-pitched feedback in here. “Machines Of Agony” is finally based on sound sources created by Jonathan Canady, who we know of Death Pile, Hollow Earth, Angel of Decay and his recent work under his name (TIP!). This track is one massive HNW from before the invention of that term. In the end, a bit of the original sounds – I think – drip through, and it is an excellent opening towards that one extra track. The “Torture King” build-up is perfect, and you’re slowly guided into a sonic interpretation of hell. I can’t describe it otherwise.
Two re-releases that are more than worth your time and money if noise is what you listen to. (BW)
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KLEISTWAHR – DON’T LET GO (2CD by Fourth Dimension Records)

You probably haven’t forgotten my review two weeks back of a double LP by Kleistwahr, a reissue of two not-too-old CD releases. I expressed my pessimism about the reissue market but don’t think this subsequent Kleistwahr reissue will get the same review. First, there is a sense of completeness, which I always enjoy in a reissue. Secondly, the music has been unavailable for some time. More or less. In the first phase of Kleistwahr’s existence (1982-1986), there were four cassettes by Gary Mundy’s off-shoot from Ramleh. Two cassettes were reissued on vinyl last year and reviewed here (Vital Weekly 1354). I will hustle that review into a new one, a remastered reissue review.
    From a lengthy article in As Loud As Possible, a one-off magazine from 2010, we know a lot about Broken Flag (one day, this article will make it into a proper book!) and the background of its principal musician, Gary Mundy. Best known, perhaps, for his band Ramleh, which is sometimes a two-piece noise unit, or a larger heavy noise-rock group, he also had a bunch of other solo projects. Kleistwahr started early on as a secret noise project so the label’s catalogue would expand. He had much Ramleh equipment at home anyway, so why not use it for some solo recordings? Following some five releases (although the fifth was a best-off of the other four) by Broken Flag in the 80s, Kleistwahr went on a long hiatus, mainly due to Mundy losing interest in working with electronics. After 2010 he started again and has released more since then than in the 80s. Also, music-wise, there has been quite a change. In recent years, Kleistwahr has concentrated blocks of atmospheric, moody drones, deep and piercing, but no longer with the sort of noise he worked with in the 80s; not as Ramleh, not as Kleistwahr.
    The first two cassettes, ‘Myth’ and ‘Arsonicide’, were released on LP by Harbinger Sound in 2011, and the latter, ‘Mobility’ and ‘Do Not’ by Fourth Dimension, in 2022. Together with two more pieces from compilations, there is now ‘Don’t Let Go’, a complete document of all early work. And that’s how these things should be done. I had not heard these back then. It is interesting to see how these things quickly evolved. ‘Myth’, the first cassette and ‘Arsonicide’ both owe considerably to the sound world of early Ramleh but less the vocal side. Using synthesizer, radio, microphone, echo and phaser pedals, these early works are harsh and brutal attacks. Maybe, at times, a somewhat naive set of works, but for someone such as myself, a great trip down memory lane, but instead of a hissy cassette, glorious shining on CD.
    The other two cassettes are a bit different, and of ‘Mobility’, Gary Mundy writes that it didn’t entirely work in places and that ‘Do Not’ he uses one of those early Casio sampling keyboards, with a 1.5 memory. These later works show quick progress, from the early days of power electronics to something that moves out of those strict circles. Suppose you first heard of Kleistwahr because of the recent releases (of which Mundy says he’ll do one per year until he dies). In that case, you might be surprised at the somewhat straightforward noise sound of these, but they complete the historical picture quite well and are highly recommended to those who cherish a fine historical noise document. (FdW)
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On previous occasions when I reviewed work by Rotterdam-based voice artist Janneke van der Putten was both in combination with Chris Galarreta; this time, it is two solo tracks, one with backing vocals by Anaïs Barbier and one featuring a musical composition by Galarreta. The space in which she performs and records is of great importance in her work. All four pieces on ‘JNNK’ are recorded in concert. I could do extensive research into the four places and their specific acoustic qualities, but it’s too hot outside (and thus inside) and energy drains away too quickly. In some of her vocalizations, Van der Putten sounds like an icy wind over polar landscapes, especially in ‘In Cycles’. Maybe I am hearing what I would like to feel. I haven’t seen Van der Putten perform her work, so I am unsure if she uses electronics, but I believe she doesn’t. There is no mention of this in the information. But listen to ‘Voice And Space 1’, and you know she (and Barbier) are in a big space, and there is a distance between the two and the microphone. A big hollow space in which they emit short bits of shouting, bouncing around with massive reverb. In her piece with Galaretta, I assume there is some sort of electronics and that there is entirely some layering of voices and natural reverb (this one is recorded in a church), and Van der Putten becomes a one-women choir, voices and space mixed. In ‘Attacked And Over-Tuned’, she uses mainly shorter sounds and is closer to the microphone, while in ‘In Cycles’, the expansive side of the space plays a significant role. It is the longest track on this LP, almost fourteen minutes, and it’s my favourite piece on the record. The sheer minimalism of this one, with all the slight variations floating around in space (the one she is in when recording this, but also in more general terms), creates a beautiful drift. But besides this, all four pieces are great, and the variety of approaches gives a great idea of what Van der Putten is capable of. (FdW)
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Here we have two musicians, João Orecchia, whose full name is João Renato Orecchia Zύñiga and Sicker Man, nom de plum of Tobias Vethake. They met in Berlin through a classified ad in a Berlin newspaper in 2003, according to the info on the Bandcamp page for this release. João turned his attention from analogue synths to modular synths and mastering the bass clarinet and found a way to combine the two. Tobias has been making soundtracks for commercials and movies (Bye Bye Berlusconi is a fitting title to mention here) and concentrated on the electric cello again. The tracks (the CD version has eight bonus tracks) are lush soundscapes, starting with a kind of reggae/dub concoction in a “flowing blow”, alluding to Summertime in ‘blue empathy’ and modern classical in short but to the point ‘empty up’ which isn’t empty at all. Lush cello lines, acoustic instead of electric, intertwine with lines in the bass clarinet. The mixture of electronics ranges from subtle percussive sounds to full-blown synthy backgrounds in, for example, ‘trojan horse’, featuring the electric cello with distortion, making it sound like an electric guitar. ‘The sun disappeared this morning’ is sheer audio bliss to my ears, ambient in a non-new age way. It’s the closer on the vinyl and digital album. Overall it’s a beautiful release, with, as I said earlier, a lush sound design, combining the deep, resonant bass clarinet with cello (electric or acoustic) in a memorable way. I can heartily recommend this one. (MDS)
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DOC WÖR MIRRAN – ABBEY TOAD (CDR by Marginal Talent)

Here we have two singles by Doc Wör Mirran, one disguised as a CDR, but with two pieces clocking in at eleven minutes in total, a single. Both releases show Mirran’s love for silly wordplay and historical pop music references. On ‘Abbey Toad’, they take a look at The Beatles. Both songs were recorded at the end of the 90s by leading man Joseph B. Raimond (on guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals) plus Ralf Lexis on guitar and vocals. Their versions of ‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ are certainly not covers or even interpretations; they are stand-alone pieces of otherworldly rock music. Well, maybe you can recognize the original of ‘Free As A Bird’ in some ways, but due to some strange mixing, instruments burst in and out of the mix, making it unbalanced but also quite funny. ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ doesn’t end on the tape loop festival as the original, but growing some weird sample into a very nice guitar solo over a steady drum machine.
    On the other new release, they poke fun at legendary German artist Joseph Beuys in two collaborative pieces with Germany’s Telepherique. It has been a while since I last heard the name of this trio, who, on July 8 and 9, 1995, recorded with Raimond, Peter Schuster and Adrian Gormley. As I would more or less expect, there is hardly any relation to the originals, ‘The Beuys Are Back In Town’ and ‘Beuys Don’t Cry’, but also no silliness is involved in these pieces. Two pieces, both around five minutes, are highly abstract excursions into the world of spacious electronics, of which ‘Beuys Don’t Cry’ is a particularly dark and excellent example. Very dark and highly ambient, whereas ‘The Beuys Are Back In Town’ is a slightly more open piece with bell-like sounds, more of a cosmic drift. The other is a spaceship, sealed off, drifting majestically through vast, dark space on its way to an infinite black hole. Two excellent pieces of music. (FdW)
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“The album is based on the material of the musical pause in the Soviet anthems that occurs between the tuning chord at the very beginning of the piece and the first verse. The сhord – a bright orchestral tutti – is there so when performing the anthem collectively, one will be able to determine the tonality and the tempo of the music.” From here on, much more is mentioned on the Bandcamp page about the Soviet anthem, from 1918 to 1944, ‘The International’ and until 1990, ‘The State Anthem of the Soviet Union’ by Alexandrov. The text was changed a couple of times, and since 2000 going back to the old one, an ominous sign of bad times to come, if ever there were one. Guryanov, whom I had not heard before and whose debut I believe this is, uses various software to play around with that musical pause. He’s not a nationalist, rather not. His final piece on this album contains the sound of explosions in Ukraine, collected from UouTube videos. “War, violence, and cruelty have become the new anthem”. I would not have gathered all this from playing this album, which is an interesting excursion in musique concrète techniques to play around with a single sound and make as many variations as possible. Everything is about low-end bumps and amplified and processed silences. This comes in seven variations, all tied together conceptually. You could call this laptop music glitchy, ambient, but also with a hint of techno (in the third piece), but mainly due to the use of the synthesizers, never via the sparse rhythms used. Lots of reverb at times, sometimes a bit too much for my taste. The final track is a bit different, and the processed sound of the sirens sounds like a lament, which it probably is. A poignant and fitting coda to an excellent record. (FdW)
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A CDR in a cardboard sleeve, and it looks like a demo. One track is close to forty minutes, the other one thirty-three. Let’s use their description of what they did; “One track is edited guitar and muck and lots of word structures. Bit shrill at one point, couldn’t get rid of the noise. One track is pocket sax and a shag dog story about a JEANETTE WINTERSON novel bought in a charity shop. Could’ve been edited and was in homes on headphones. The SINGER does not SING and mispronounces the words Sweden and others. The coughing is the MUSICIAN not the SINGER. The MUSICIAN had a bit of a cold”. Was it this week that I wrote that words, lyrics and such aren’t my ‘thing’, or was that last week? I am sure it’s something that gets mentioned a few times. The voice here is a dominating feature, and the improvisations are, well, not that great, some scratching on the guitar versus some toothing on a saxophone. I could be wrong, and maybe these are pieces of the most incredible outsider music ever to have roamed these pages. I couldn’t make much sense out of the lyrical content and not much joy out of the musical side of this. Maybe they put on a great show, and it all makes sense. (FdW)
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SLOW CLINIC & MATT ATKINS – PLAYGROUND (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)
T.JERVELL – TWO PLANKS OF WOOD (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)

After a period of what seemed inactivity (but might have been no silence), Matt Atkins’ label Minimal Resource Manipulation returns with three new releases. One of these contains Atkins’ music, collaborating with Slow Clinic, which is the name used by James Armstrong. He plays guitars (oddly plural but oke), while Atkins plays tape loops. I have no idea if these loops are for cassettes or reel-to-reel machines, but it is not the most crucial question. Atkins uses his regular sound palette on these loops, including household objects, electronics, and small percussion. Armstrong’s guitars are directed via looper pedals, creating delicate loops, and throughout these five pieces, he likes a gentle tone in his playing. There is nothing all too deep-end droning going on here. Coupled with the likewise soft tones produced by Atkins, this makes up for some soothing music. Only in ‘Ramshackle’ is a hint of more traditionally improvised music. In ‘Sprain’, there is a bit of hiss, some field recordings being looped, and some drone and with relatively few elements, they create a lovely atmosphere. That element of his gives the music a neat lo-fi edge which I liked a lot. The lo-fi stuff, however, doesn’t extend too much in the murky, darker areas of dystopian soundtracks that we usually have with this kind of thing. Slow Clinic and Matt Atkins are friendlier, and I think they aim to please. There is quite some variation in these five pieces, yet keeping things together also. The downside is that the whole thing is under thirty minutes. Just as I was getting into the music, it was all over. I decided to do the only logical thing, and that was to play it again.
    The next one is also a collaborative work by Chris Hill (field recordings, electronics, winds, stones, sticks, tapes, harmonica, ukelele) and Stephan Barrett (woodwinds, sun synth, piano frame, electronics, tape loops, field recordings, percussion). Work by the latter was reviewed before, most notably a cassette he did by Atkins (see Vital Weekly 1269). The cover (or Bandcamp) doesn’t give much further information about the recordings. We have here seven pieces of music ranging from four to eighteen minutes, in total, 64 minutes of improvised music. Given their broad spectrum of instruments, the music here goes all over the place and not every minute is a winner. At times they dip in well-known musical waters, such in ‘Terrapincicada’, with various wind instruments, percussion, and such given a somewhat boring delay treatment. When this duo taps into more soundscape-like material, uses the electronic side (for which I include the field recordings and tape loops as well) a bit, they deliver some intense, brooding music, such as in ‘YaffleWasp’ (these titles read like poetry to me, and I have no idea what they are about). ‘HoverflyRat’ is a fine bleepy electronic piece, rhythmic and slightly distorted. Other pieces could have benefitted from some rigorous editing. There is enough interesting material within each of these pieces, and sticking together would make a fine piece, but I think there is also some stuff that doesn’t hold up too well. This could have been a much stronger album at forty or so minutes.
    Only twenty-three minutes is the album by T. Jervell (or rather T.Jervell, no space required), which is interesting, as he (or she) writes that “this album is centred around a specific type of wooden instruments. Or rather. A few special kinds of synthesizers. Enclosed in planks of wood. Exploring each instrument. Investigating every nook and cranny”. I thought these instruments weren’t all too massive if twenty-three minutes was all it took to investigate every nook and cranny. An album of modular electronics, so another question that came up was, is this all played live, or is there some kind of editing here? I don’t know and couldn’t say. Jervell has eight pieces on this CDR here, and like I said, every nook and cranny? I couldn’t understand (again!), but there is no doubt a severe lack of know-how here about how these instruments work (I tried a software version of a modular once but got stuck almost from the beginning). I like that these pieces are short and to the point; they are never too long, and each explores a few sounds. Maybe a sketch is a better word? It all peeps and bleeps and has a mild noisy edge which works quite well, mainly, I think, because of the brief character of these pieces. Improvisation is never far away via some additional acoustic sounds, such as ‘Two Planks Of Wood And A Guitar’. These additional instruments take the music in another direction, a more musical one that saved the music. I’m unsure if an all-modular release would have worked the same way. (FdW)
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SIEGMAR FRICKE – FARMATEQUE (3″CDR by Klappstuhl Records)

Over the many years that Siegmar Fricke has been active (since the mid-80s), his name pops up now and then in Vital Weekly, but somehow I think it’s only a tiny portion of what he does. He has a bunch of collaborative projects, such as D.S.I.P. (with Dieter Mauson), Efficient Refineries (with Miguel A. Ruiz), Doppelwirkung (with Michael Wurzer) and others. Since 2005 he actively collaborates with Maurizio Bianchi, mainly mixing his work. Even though since the early 2000s, Fricke often uses the name Pharmakustik, this particular EP came under his real name. Maybe the reason lies in the recording date, which is 1999. Perhaps it’s the music, which on this occasion is less on the ambient industrial soundscapes and more on a kind of abstract techno trip; maybe, and here’s my lack of knowledge about such things, this is a particular musical stage Fricke ended at one point in his career. The four pieces contain beats and sequences, a voice through a vocoder and a synth line or two. Mid-tempo music, a bit like Lagowski did in the 90s, but not something that draws many people to the dance floor. At some point, we called this ‘head nod’ music; you nod your head along the beat (or tap your feet), thus making some kind of movement or dance anyway, without using the entire body. As I am playing this and enjoying this strange trip down musical lanes, I realize not many people are doing this kind of abstract techno beats these days. Maybe not yet overdue a revival? (FdW)
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Both these musicians I reviewed before, from Suzuki also solo work but not from Masubuchi (I think). He plays the guitar, an acoustic one on this cassette, and blues, folk, minimal music, and Morton Feldman influence him. Suzuki studied Celtic music and was a songwriter and improviser with her voice. On April 24, 2021, they played their first concert together in Tokyo, which is the title piece of this cassette, spanning the entire second side. The six pieces on side A were recorded n August 28 of the same year, also in Tokyo. There is no amplification. The result is a beautiful, improvised set of music pieces. It is easy to see that ‘some kind of’ folk music is a source of inspiration for these musicians and how they approach their improvisation. Also, the guitar playing is sometimes Morton Feldman-inspired; there is lots of space between the notes here. Lyrics? Ah, yes, there might be some, but as always concerning words, I never pay attention to lyrical content. I admit I am unsure if there are any here. Maybe Suzuki sings Japanese; perhaps these are vocalizations? I don’t know. She adds this folky fairytale type of singing to a sparse set of guitar notes, which works very well. This is not a standard form of improvised music but rather a more traditional musical release that happens to be sparse and somewhat improvised. The long title piece is more spontaneous than the separate tracks on the other side. Maybe that was a deliberate decision to work with separate pieces, not one long piece? I don’t know the answer, but I think it works better as smaller, more defined songs. A pretty refined release, but at forty minutes also long enough. (FdW)
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PRIMOŽ BON​Č​INA – YOGA X​/​XII (cassette by Distant Voices)

It is a bit of a mystery why Primož Bon​č​ina uses his Christian name and not his Altars moniker, as he did on a few recent releases (Vital Weekly 13721295). He’s still playing the electric guitar, and the music is noisy drone beast, which was qualities we also found in the releases he did as Altar. If I understand correctly, these two pieces are for dance/choreography/movement. The cassette comes with a booklet with a slightly cryptic text to that effect (about “touch density vibrates being” and such), but the photos show Bon​č​in playing the guitar and one or more persons moving along on a big floor. The actual movement we don’t see; these are photos and not films, but judging by the music, I would think these movements are relatively slow. These two pieces, just over forty minutes, are spaced-out guitar drones. The pictures don’t tell the story of how Bon​č​ina plays his guitar (by hand, a bow, e-bow, or, perhaps, other devices that vibrate), but it has that neat burning quality. A slightly rusty distortion is applied to these pieces, and Bon​č​ina takes much time to explore one tone before adding the next. However, it’s not all pure drone, and at various points, Bon​č​ina goes into a crushing chord modus and bouts of feedback, and it has that slow whatever-core that connects with the world of metal. I always think of this kind of metal-inspired drone music that may not always work in the same way as in a concert setting. Maybe it does when you have an environment that allows you to use a similar volume setting as in concert. But I, for one, don’t have such possibilities. Primož Bon​č​ina works his way through his material cleverly and offers quite some variations in his material; it never becomes very static. I am unsure if that is the case, but I think these are live recordings and, perhaps, with very minimal editing. An extended-release, time-wise and a heavy one, music-wise. But some enriching music, even when one doesn’t move at all. (FdW)
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