RHYS CHATHAM & DAVID FENECH – TOMORROWSTARTSTONIGHT (CD by Klanggalerie) *
OFFICER! – SOME SONGS/BANDAGEN (CD by Klanggalerie) *
KEVIN TOMKINS – MUSIC FOR AN UNPREPARED AUTOHARP (CD by Klanggalerie) *
OTHER:M:OTHER – METAMORPH (CD by Klanggalerie) *
JONI VOID – EVERYDAY IS THE SONG (CD by Constellation Records) *
LISA STENBERG – MONUMENT (CD by Fylkingen Records) *
TOM SCHNEIDER – ISOTOPES (CD by Macro) *
GUILHERME RODRIGUES/JORGE NUNO/ HERNÂNI FAUSTINO/ FELICE FURIOSO – LUSCO-FUSCO (CD by Multikulti Project) *
GÜNTER SCHLIENZ – STERNE ÜBER DER STADT (LP by Silent State Recordings) *
GÜNTER SCHLIENZ – ORPHÉE AUX ENFERS (LP by Silent State Recordings) *
MK/CT (LP by Fang Bomb) *
HOLY SIMILAUN – RADICOR AL FLORT, ESPERT ON’ILL IL ERB, AOR RAETIA (12″ by Kohlhaas)
BASTARD NOISE & +DOG+ – DESECRATION TALES (LP by Love Earth Music) *
LUZ AZUL (12″ by Cortizona)
INLET TERROR – IT CAME FROM THE SHORE (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
RICK SANDERS – BLEND (CDR by Nobeat Music) *
CALEB CHASE – LOOKING AT BUGS UNDER A LOG (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
KEACH – NEVER ALONE (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
ANDREA PENSADO – PHILOPHONIA (CDR by Econore) *
SENSE OF SELF – JUSTIN TRUDEAU PUSHES LADY IN FRONT OF TRAIN (3″ CDR by Inner Demons Records) *
LOSS – I KILL EVERYTHING (CDR by Inner Demons Records) *
SICK SYSTEM – I WAS. I AM. I WILL BE. (HOMMAGE TO ROSA LUXEMBURG) (3″ CDR by Inner Demons Records) *
DE FABRIEK / WIPEÇ & GOODIEPAL / CHANDOR GLOOMY – LIVING IN THE SKY TRAIN (cassette by Universaal Kunst/De Fabriek Records & Tapes) *
ENRIKE HURTADO – GHOST FUTURES (cassette by Crystal Mine) *
DIEGO CAICEDO – ASCENDIT IN INFERNO (cassette by School Of The Arts) *
RHYS CHATHAM & DAVID FENECH – TOMORROWSTARTSTONIGHT (CD by Klanggalerie)
OFFICER! – SOME SONGS/BANDAGEN (CD by Klanggalerie)
KEVIN TOMKINS – MUSIC FOR AN UNPREPARED AUTOHARP (CD by Klanggalerie)
OTHER:M:OTHER – METAMORPH (CD by Klanggalerie)
Despite being around for various decades, there has not been a review of his work in Vital Weekly. His name pops up, mainly to say that he is the inspiration for one or the collaborator of another, but never a review of his music. Chatham is a minimalist composer, working primarily with the guitar. He also studied the flute and played with Tony Conrad, Charlemagne Palestine, Sonic Youth, and Arthur Russell, and sometimes with large guitar ensembles. Music by David Fenech made it to these pages; his work with Jac Berrocal and Vincent Eplay (also on Klanggalerie, see Vital Weekly 1367 and 1227) or with Laurent Perrier (Vital Weekly 1223). With him, the guitar is also the main instrument. You may conclude that if two guitarists make a record, it probably sounds like a guitar record. I can imagine this to be the case, but whatever Chatham and Fenech do on this record hardly sounds like a guitar record. There are three pieces, each around seventeen minutes, and they use a broad palette of sounds. Percussive sounds, for instance, in ‘Tomorrow Together’, along with sampled animal sounds, hiss-like drones and whatever else they sampled. This piece has a rather loose structure, giving the impression of improvisation. That’s not what I thought of the first piece, ‘In Search Of Tomorrow’, a relatively subdued piece of meandering guitar and lots of delay pedal work, adding an excellent drift to the music. Slowly building, the piece doesn’t work to a crescendo but stays atmospheric. The title piece is the last one and is, in terms of subtleness, the gentlest piece. They gently brush their strings with their hands, add sampled field recordings and have a tremendous piece of ambient. Two absolutely fantastic pieces, one that is not my liking yet one that shows the two have a broader interest and various tricks up their sleeve.
The next two releases are re-issues, one of the main interests of Klanggalerie. The first is by Officer!, the musical project of Mick Hobbs. You may know him from his work with Half Japanese, The Lo Yo Yo, The Lowest Note, The Momes, The Paddock or The Work. I admit he is not someone who is on my musical radar. I heard his first cassette, which was released in 1983. ‘Some Songs/Bandagen’ was originally released in 1989 by the Swiss label No Records, but as Officer! but as Mick Hobbs. I don’t know why it is now as by Officer! except, perhaps, visibility. Also, the order is changed. The A-side was then ‘Music From Bandagen’ and the B-side ‘Officer! – Some Songs’. Those six pieces are now first on the CD, and the other ten follow after that. ‘Bandagen’ was a play by Grazia Pergoletti. Hobbs plays most of the music, but there’s help from Andre Schmid (clarinet), Chrigou (violin), vocals by Pergoletti and Joey Stack, and further assistance by Andy Wake, Rut Schwegler and Tim Hodgkinson, who he knew from The Work. The music is a mixture of improvised and rock music, and the pieces for ‘Bandagen’ are generally a bit more experimental, sparse and abstract (maybe that explains the switch?), whereas ‘Some Songs’ have a rock-like structure. I think that side is a bit too far away from the musical interest of Vital Weekly and more challenging to comment on. I immensely enjoyed the shorter pieces of ‘Bandagen’, which, at times, were a bit too short—strange acoustic music combining a more modern classical feel with spoken word and radiophonic drama.
The other re-issue is of a more recent date. I know Kevin Tomkins’ work much better as he was once a member of Whitehouse, then Sutcliffe Jugend, called Sutcliffe No More these days. For a few weeks, I have had the two 10 LP sets by Sutcliffe Jugend waiting to be heard if I can find the time; why did get these? The eighteen pieces on this CD are culled from three previous CDR releases from Tomkins’ own Between Silences label; two from 2009 and one from 2014. I admit (again!) that I am not familiar with his work under his own name and had no expectations, but I did know there was a strong interest in the amplification of acoustic sounds. The cover lists various of these objects and instruments; autoharp with electric fan, screw and fly nut, comb, toothbrush, violin bow, plastic rulers, wooden pegs, neck chain, tin box, e-bow, screwdrivers, plastic clip, pens, cloth, music box and contact mic lead. Furthermore, everything is “recorded live in one take via two contact mics through a whammy pedal and two loop pedals”. Especially the latter two are used quite a bit, which gives, at times, a rather simplistic loop effect, and as there are no other pedals, it stays that way. It works best if Tomkins uses the loop pedals more sparsely and has a more improvised playing. The direct-in-your-face approach works very well and is, in that respect, on the same level as his Sutcliffe work, but it works on an entirely different level. I especially enjoyed the pieces in which he worked with overtones from the autoharp (which is a kind of zither; ” It uses a series of bars individually configured to mute all strings other than those needed for the intended chord”, so says the information), creating a kind of drone music that we don’t hear a lot, sharp and loud. Not every track is a winner here, but this is a most welcome introduction for the uninitiated. It is also interesting to see the development of this noise artist, moving away from his earliest and more brutal work and yet staying within the field of noise.
Also, improvisation is part of the Klanggalerie catalogue. Other:M:other is a trio from Austria consisting of Judith Schwarz (extended drums), Jul Dillier (prepared piano) and Arthur Fussy (modular synthesizer). I believe all are new names for me. They all have a background in jazz, improvisation and theatre. The eight pieces on this CD were recorded during three concerts in 2022. While I say that improvised music has a place in the catalogue, and the music here is indeed improvised, the instruments also make it sound a bit unusual, not your traditional improvisation. The piano and drums are sometimes easy to recognize, and the synthesizer is the odd one, playing weird sounds and making it all strange. From the information, I learned that a concert by this trio could be all experimental but just as well also be very dance-like. That is shown in the pieces on this CD. ‘Techtronic’ has a pretty straightforward drum pattern, very jazzy, with the piano playing repeating notes while the synthesizer does sometimes, which isn’t easy to discern. In ‘Lithosphere’, the synth plays deep drones, and the others add careful and intense sounds. Those are the opposites in which this trio moves, and it brings a nicely varied album. I preferred the trio’s quieter moments, which were intenser, to their sometimes more open-ended approaches to rhythm, from all three players. ‘Humus I’ and ‘Humus II’ are, in that respect, highlights of this album. An album that took me several rounds to enjoy its quality, but in the end, I was won over. I can imagine that, in concert, this all works even better. (FdW)
––– Address: https://klanggalerie.com/
JONI VOID – EVERYDAY IS THE SONG (CD by Constellation Records)
The only time I heard music from Montréal-based composer Joni Void was his work with N Nao for Laaps (Vital Weekly 1259). ‘Everyday Is The Song’ is his third album for Constellation, besides releases for Everyday Ago, Tsss Tapes, Never Content and Babera Records. Many of the sounds on this album were recorded on a Walkman he bought in 2020 and lost in 2022. In the intervening time, he recorded many sounds, which he sampled and played with. Constellation Records describes this material as “deeply personal”, which might be the case but not something I easily extracted from playing this release; maybe the occasional use of voice (Void’s? I don’t know). The twelve pieces are constructed from found sound and maybe some less random taped field recordings, spoken words, and music from the streetside. Also, he uses many sounds from musical friends, of which the details can be found on the cover. Joni Void applies all the musique concrète techniques to alter these sounds. Slowing down, reversing, pitching and whatever else the computer offers, the results are song-like pieces, certainly length-wise. They are all between three and four minutes, and the results are never a ‘proper’ song, if you understand what I mean. Joni Void’s music is all about atmosphere, ambient and collage, but the results are more urban than urban and non-urban. No vast open landscapes, but the busy street life sounds from bars and other places of social interaction. There are dashes of rhythm scattered throughout this record, but, so says the information, have a less prominent role in this release than in his previous work. The pieces that use rhythm nicely break with the steady stream of sounds and samples in many of these pieces. This album is most enjoyable, even when not all had some urgency or difference from what is already out there. Unless you want to see this an album working with lo-fi sound debris being manipulated and of which the results aren’t, for once, the usual deep-end massive drones of hissy cassettes, in that respect, Joni Void does something much more original. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cstrecords.com/
LISA STENBERG – MONUMENT (CD by Fylkingen Records)
‘Monument’ is the debut album of Swedish composer Lisa Stenberg (1980). The title may also represent the two instruments she plays on this album, the EMS Synthi 100, recorded in Athens, and the Synthi 200 in Osnabrück. Both machines are massive beats; just google for some images. In 2017 she played this work on stage and was probably the first woman to play the EMS Synthi 100 on stage. The liner notes on the cover strain the eye-sight, but (as far as I can see) is about these instruments. Stenberg builds on drone traditions, and it’s not difficult to see the work of Eliane Radigue as an influence. However, Stenberg is not a copycat. In the five pieces on this CD, she goes through her material considerably faster than Radigue. Kevin Drumm is also mentioned, and here, too, I can see a relation, as Stenberg isn’t shy concerning some nastier frequencies. It is not all about having one mighty drone going for a long time, finding oscillations and modulations to enrich the sound. However, Stenberg uses various voices in her work, effectively creating a more dramatic set of pieces. I might be wrong, but I can imagine she uses multiple layers of synthesizer sounds that she mixes into one giant composition. In that sense, her work also connects to the world of industrial music, loud and clear. In each of these pieces, she moves around, from quiet to loud and back, from lengthy sustaining drones to something with shorter curves. The title piece is the best example of that approach. Altogether this is a compelling release, building on traditions, yet Stenberg also has a distinct sound of her own. (FdW)
––– Address: https://fylkingen.bandcamp.com/
TOM SCHNEIDER – ISOTOPES (CD by Macro)
Some days are long and hot; it’s summertime, but there is no shortage of music to review (keep that in mind if you still haven’t seen your record here). Long days with much music to hear means some records can simply be filed under What the hell was that, and what do I know? Tom Schneider, of whom I had not heard before (a line I type every week at least a couple of times), has a debut album, ‘Isotopes’, and he plays the piano, sampler and granular synthesis. So far, so good. He’s a member of a “pioneering cut-up pop band Kuf and a trio Loom & Thread, where “he devised a new wave of digital improv”. On his solo record, he plays jazz on the piano, which, frankly, didn’t do much for me. It seems to be reasonably traditional jazz, but I am no expert. That’s also not what kept me listening to this record (to write a review means to play the entire album). That sampler and granular synthesis kept me on track, as not all are jazz here. Schneider also dips into the world of electro-acoustic music and musique concrète, and he creates, at times, beautiful soundscapes with that. When the sampler, synthesis and piano are equal, the music works best; or when the piano is down in the mix. When it went on top, the sampler and synthesis had to work overtime to keep things interesting. Thus the album veers between something I enjoyed quite a bit and music that left me indifferent. But maybe in jazz land, this combination is something unheard of and is this hailed as the work of a genius. (FdW)
––– Address: https://macrorec.bandcamp.com/
GUILHERME RODRIGUES/JORGE NUNO/ HERNÂNI FAUSTINO/ FELICE FURIOSO – LUSCO-FUSCO (CD by Multikulti Project)
Recorded in December last year at Namouche studios in Lisbon, this is the quartet’s first release after a few sessions. Two days prior, the studio got flooded. So the quartet had only a tiny part of a room to get settled in and play. The titles reflect that situation: ‘Dor De Cotovelo’ (pain in the elbow) and ‘Dor De Cabeça’ (headache). All four musicians are seasoned players in Portugal’s blooming impro scene.
It might be the circumstances, but overall, this is a relatively restrained set, in a good way. The music works towards a kind of climax at the three-minute mark and picks up again. Quite the opener for a record that is like a fresh breath. Again, this might be because of the circumstances. They break away from the usual format (at least for those unfamiliar with free jazz and impro). These four listen to each other and create exceptional pieces. Nuno on electric guitar fills the void with appealing distortion textures, and the rhythmic tandem of Faustino’s double bass and Furioso on drums (what’s in a name) lay a solid foundation on which Rodrigues is free to wander in all directions. The six tracks differ widely in mood, and tonality is always there. This is, again, a great release on the Polish Multikulti label. (MDS)
––– Address: https://multikultiproject.bandcamp.com/
GÜNTER SCHLIENZ – STERNE ÜBER DER STADT (LP by Silent State Recordings)
GÜNTER SCHLIENZ – ORPHÉE AUX ENFERS (LP by Silent State Recordings)
On Bandcamp, it says that “Silent State Recordings is an Independent vinyl reissue label based in Frankfurt, Germany. The label aims to release emotive albums from ambient artists who have shaped the ambient genre by pushing boundaries and exploring new areas”, and you see under artists Pete Namlook, plus many of the projects he was involved in, plus Günter Schlienz. But from Namlook, almost everything that this label offers is digital only. The only pieces of vinyl the label has are two double LPs by Air and Silence (Namlook projects) and those by Schlienz. True enough, these are older works by him. My first encounter with his solo music was with ‘Autumn’, his album from 2016, which I enjoyed a lot (Vital Weekly 1056; I heard his previous work with the group Navel). Since I got to hear and review his music, he has never disappointed me. Until today, I never realized to investigate his solo work before ‘Autumn’, as Schlienz has had solo releases since 2010. Learning this label was about reissues, it is safe to say that these are older works.
Not that old, as ‘Orphée Aux Enfers’ is from 2019-2020, and ‘Sterne über der Stadt’ was recorded between 2014 and 2016. To say that Schlienz’s music underwent massive changes over the years is wrong. Changes are happening but below the surface. ‘Sterne über der Stadt’, first released online by the Russian Panthenon label in 2017, has six pieces of somewhat refined minimalism, both in the number of notes played and in volume. He plays some sparse notes on his “d.i.y. modular synthesizer” and one or two intertwining drone-like sounds. No other word describes the music as ambient, with a capital A. As with some of Schlienz’s other releases, there is a fine line between ambient and new age music, but, again, I believe he stays within the field of ambient music, with that slightly different angle on all things atmospheric, such, for instance, the end of ‘Gazing’, which is loud, in terms of Schlienz. On the surface, the music seems all easy and gentle, but that is, I believe, the great power of Schlienz.
‘Orphée Aux Enfers’ was first released on cassette by Moon Glyph. Its topic is the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and, in particular, the work composed by French composer Jacques Offenbach, who gave it “a comic operetta and satirical treatment”, and I have to quote the information here, “concerns a renowned musician who is so distraught over the death of his wife, Eurydice, that he attempts to rescue her from the Underworld, the place of the dead. It’s a myth of enduring love between Orpheus and Eurydice that has inspired artists, writers and composers such as Günter”. To record the music, Schlienz expanded his set up with tape machines, guitar and field recordings next to his modular set-up. He receives help in the form of an electric viola, strings, noises, voices, piano and saxophone from various musicians, but many of these are not on the same track. More instruments mean more music. There is no denying here, but Schlienz cleverly works with this. It seems the music has more layers, working on various frequency levels, but at the same time, Schlienz knows how to maintain that ambient quality. The stillness, the sparse approach and the minimalism; it’s all present here/ There is also a most curious short piece, ‘Kerberus’, built around voice and instrument samples which may originate from the Offenbach opera. Throughout, Schlienz has a more programmatic feel to his music, maybe keeping within the concept of the Greek myth and the story; the music feels at times classical, with those carefully plucked strings also very sparsely used.
Two records show two sides of the composer Schlienz, offering two excellent works. He has more old work, so let’s hope there will be similar treatment as the label does with Namlook, and preferable on vinyl (or CD, even better, given the delicacy of the music). (FdW)
––– Address: https://silentstaterecordings.bandcamp.com/
MK/CT (LP by Fang Bomb)
Behind these letters, we find Chris Dreier and Tim Löhde, whom we are told is a visual and sound artist from Düsseldorf. Dreier was an early member of Die Tödliche Doris, and in 2017, she returned with a release for Fang Bomb with Wolfgang Müller, also a member of this legendary Berlin-based group. Through Berlin flows the Spree River, and a couple of years, during a particularly harsh winter, it froze. Dreier made some ice-breaking and popping recordings and sent these to Löhde. From then on, the two exchanged sounds, field recordings, pianos, voices and synthesizers, resulting in the six pieces on this eponymous album. The piano gets a central position in these recordings, slowly melodic and highly atmospheric, partly thanks to the use of reverb, which is sometimes massive. And, at times, too much; reverb is an easy tool to suggest a lot of ambience. The way this duo build a piece is to start with a few field recordings, short, long, somewhat obscured, and quickly add sparse piano notes. When the ball is rolling, more field recordings are added to the dish, people talking, sounds from the city, or maybe, who knows, breaking the ice. These sounds move about, going in and out of the mix, which gives the music a somewhat randomized character. ‘MK10 Matsudo’ and ‘MK111 Insektenhotel’ are the exceptions, as here all sounds stay closely connected and the musique concrète approach, i.e. everything going into a more abstract, becomes more apparent. The playing of the piano reminded me of Eno and Budd, but now embedded in a mild whirlwind of electro-acoustic sound. The combination is, perhaps, a bit odd, but surprisingly, it works pretty well. A dreamy soundtrack to wander through an icey urban landscape. (FdW)
––– Address: http://fangbomb.bandcamp.com
HOLY SIMILAUN – RADICOR AL FLORT, ESPERT ON’ILL IL ERB, AOR RAETIA (12″ by Kohlhaas)
With a playing time of eleven minutes for the first side, and eight for the second, I think this is instead a 12″ than an LP; also because it spins at 45 rpm. I had not heard of Holy Similaun before, whose debut album is Aphex Twin-approved (good for Holy). Similaun also worked with Carhartt, Slam Jam and Spazio Maiocchi and with Zoë McPherson – none of which I had heard of (I am sure I move in different circles. Holy Similaun is responsible for the music, while Urska Preis plays the harp, and one Archipel delivers vocals and lyrics. These are in Italian, so some got lost in translation. I would think that digital manipulation plays an important role here, but at the same time, I don’t know if that is true. Everything is about deconstruction is my best guess, which on the first side, called ‘Radicor al flort, espert’ (which seemed not easy to translate), has a dark ambient backing in an orchestral modus. At one point, a voice recites a text when the piece is busy on its long descent down. Everything is now apart, so the peace ends. On the other side, the likewise difficult to translate ‘on’ill il erb, or Raetia’ is more atmosphere, more voice, and more musique concrète deconstructing of sounds. What and why there is a need to deconstruct (and, again, if that is the case here) is something that isn’t entirely clear. This site is a livelier and more dynamic one than the other side. I found it all pretty enjoyable, but also a bit too obscure in the idea, message, concept, or… anything like that. Plus, of course, why only so short? (FdW)
––– Address: https://kohlhaas.bandcamp.com/
BASTARD NOISE & +DOG+ – DESECRATION TALES (LP by Love Earth Music)
Legendary Bastard Noise, active since around 1992 in the person of Eric Wood, is teaming up with Love Earth’s own Steve Davis, a.k.a +DOG+. In 2022 they sent each other all kinds of material to work on/with/from, which became “Desecration Tales”. This 12″ is a gorgeous black and gold vinyl hidden in a foldout cover with – when opened – what seems to be hyenas in a field of Bastard Skulls. Minimal in design, yet maximum impact, a job well done by Kevin Fetus. Both sides have an almost 20-minute track, and we all know that’s pushing it on what an album can handle. Though this one was cut properly, and it’s all there.
Side A is titled “Misery Milestone” and starts with a desert-like feeling where someone throws garbage bins and junk around. It’s the beauty of the first being affected by the remains of society. The second part has vocals by Eric, and the characteristic sound of WT Nelson’s machines (I think) is added to the composition. It’s how I know Bastard Noise and why I admire their activities. The composition leaves the desert, and halfway, we’re guided into a futuristic environment, First noisy, then chaotic. Between the line, I make up the message, ‘There is still time to change the future, but you have to start doing something now’.
The other side, “Beneficiary: Earth”, has a much more oppressive feel, and the lyrics subscribe to this. A completely corrupted earth where humanity will cease to exist. “The extinction to glorify. The rebirth of biodiversity we’ll thankfully never witness! Fuck humans!”. Oh, you thought these were happy songs? Bzzzzt. Wrong. Think again. The first part would very well fit a CMI or Slaughter release, and the second part is lovely, and I can’t put my finger on why this is. Either the spacious arpeggiator or that typical minimalistic noise sounds I love, or the prolonged build-up to the third and final part: The collapse of earth, the end of humanity and a second chance for the earth as the sole beneficiary. A+ (BW)
––– Address: http://www.loveearthmusic.com/
LUZ AZUL (12″ by Cortizona)
The format of 12″, four tracks over two sides, is something you don’t see a lot anymore. I am sure many musicians like to do a longer record for the same amount of money. Here we have a 12″, 45 RPM, and five tracks, by a trio called Luz Azul. It’s a bit of an older record, but let’s pretend we didn’t see that. According to Discogs, “Luz Azul is a group started by LA-based vocal and performance artist Anna Homler (aka Breadwoman) together with musicians Marcos Fernandes and Robert Montoya in 2007”, yet this is their first record. Holmer plays pocket theremin, sample sticks, whistles, assorted dry and squeaky objects, greeting cards, wood devil, tiny metals and motors and potato slicer. Montoya on electronics and Fernandes on percussion and electronics. The latter two are members of the Trummerflora Collective, which I don’t hear of before. I have known Holmer’s work for a long time, even when it is not reviewed in Vital Weekly. The music results from improvising, which they do in a rather intimate way. Dense, rhythmic, not very hectic, not much chaos, but more like a ritual, with bells jingling, voices reciting ancient texts, chanting, trying to get the ghost across, and shimmering electronics creating adequate levels of abstraction across the music, which made it also for someone who is not too keen on improvised music quite interesting. No disturbance, no explosions of chaos, but some beautifully improvised music. Yes, at 33 RPM, with some more music, would have also been most welcome. (FdW)
––– Address: https://cortizona.bandcamp.com/
INLET TERROR – IT CAME FROM THE SHORE (CDR by Love Earth Music)
‘Inlet Terror was a noise collective from the shore’ can be read on the page where this album was released last year. With the label them being Mechanical Presence Records from New Jersey, ‘the shore’ is probably Jersey Shore, proving how active the noise scene on the east coast is and how it keeps evolving.
Here are eight untitled tracks by Kevin Henson, K. Geiger and Luk Henderiks. American-style harsh noise is how we hear more often from Love Earth Music (by the way: what an incredible output that label has). A total playing time of a little under an hour with track times between 2 and 12 minutes. Musicwise, it sounds like some proper pedalboard and mixer abuse with a few loopers for generating more throbbing repetitive or droney layers. Vocals on #3 and probably on a few other tracks too. But: That’s all just a guess.
But yes, you read it correctly: This is a re-release from last year and with all the re-releases we had the previous few weeks, I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Is this album *that* good that it needs a second run after just one year’? And exactly, that is a question I can’t answer. You have to listen and decide for yourself. My favourite track, however, is #7 because of the creepy foghorn, the combination of the massive background, and the subtle analogue-sounding layer in the front of the mix. (BW)
––– Address: http://www.loveearthmusic.com/
RICK SANDERS – BLEND (CDR by Nobeat Music)
The musician that lives closest to the VWHQ, down the road as it were, is Rick Sanders. I have visited his workspace several times and gained insight into his working methods. So far, his releases (Vital Weekly 1364, 1363, 1322, 1309 and 1278) were ambient, with long, sustaining, slow-moving modular synthesizer pieces. His new album is a bit of a departure, consisting of fourteen pieces. The first twelve are soundscapes, each three minutes and some seconds long. Using granular synthesis, Sanders works with a slightly darker sound on the crossroad between musique concrète and industrial music. The sound of a leaky nuclear power plant, the post-apocalypse, dystopian dripping sound, and then in twelve interesting, varied sketches. And all of that with a finer, darker atmospheric drone. In some ways, the music here reminded me of Asmus Tietchens, perhaps a bit more synthesized than Tietchens but with the same kind of minimalism. These twelve pieces aren’t very loud, which at first thought to be something that needed mastering, but in the final piece, it all blends together, so that explains, perhaps, the relatively quiet approach of these pieces. ‘Blend… All Together Now…’ is a relatively self-explanatory title. All twelve pieces played simultaneously, and I assume some mix was made, making the music a bit louder and denser. You hear the various elements crystal clear. This is the kind of music Sanders should explore more. The last piece, also no surprising title, is ‘Final Blend’ in which he has all twelve pieces one by one with a small gap, but that’s not something one notes, and he overlays the process with a string synthesizer sound. That gives the piece a relatively mellow effect, which is nice, but also sort of breaks with the carefully constructed concept of the album so far, moving away from that slightly industrial sound. Otherwise, I think this is a great album, opening up new roads for Sanders, and the next one should not necessarily be as conceptual. (FdW)
––– Address: https://ricksanders.bandcamp.com/
CALEB CHASE – LOOKING AT BUGS UNDER A LOG (CDR by Love Earth Music)
KEACH – NEVER ALONE (CDR by Love Earth Music)
Love Earth Music is a pretty active force with many releases. Putting a number to it is hard, but many of their releases deal with noise in all forms, shapes and sub-genres. Ambient and all things drone-related take a smaller portion of the catalogue. The label also has a soft spot for much weirder stuff.
Caleb Chase’s ‘Looking At Bugs Under A Log’ is one of those weirder things they release, even when it is also pretty noisy. I believe I had not heard of him before, so these fifteen tracks in twenty-six minutes serve as something of an introduction. It is tough to understand what he is doing, instrument-wise. I believe there is a violin at work here, which he scratches and scrapes and (maybe( feeds a signal into a computer or some kind of modular setup. This transforms and reshapes the violin, which remains audible throughout these pieces. The result is a noisy variation of improvised music. Sometimes the noisy element prevails, tumbling around, and with most tracks between one and two minutes, this music has some excellent speed and subtle energy. Chase’s music is one roller coaster ride, especially with all those short pieces, going left and right (and I mean this in the stereo sense of the word), so it connects to the world of crazy computer music, especially in the two most extended pieces, which are the end of the CD. There is an iPhone alarm sound in one of these pieces, which, every time I hear this, makes me grab my phone. Short but with this intensity, also long enough.
Behind Keach is one Randy Sadakichi-Hatada, also someone I had never heard of before, and sadly, the label’s website doesn’t provide any information about Keach or any other artist (there is room for some improvement there). The front cover shows the musician (I think) with an acoustic guitar and the back side with a flute. These two instruments also hear on the CDR, primarily through the guitar. Keach also sings. The recording is rather lo-fi as if the microphone is in another room as the musician. As much as I applaud Love Earth Music for some of their bolder choices, and this is one strong contender for the most audacious move so far, this kind of outsider music is not something I know or understand. No doubt, this is not something to approach with much reasoning, but such is the ‘fate’ of the reviewer. I am trying to make any sense out of this. I do know it’s not exactly Bob Dylan, but what else? As much as I would love to say, ‘Check this on Bandcamp’, the label also has room for improvement. (FdW)
––– Address: http://www.loveearthmusic.com/
ANDREA PENSADO – PHILOPHONIA (CDR by Econore)
Following her involvement with the Elka Bong LP (Vital Weekly 1385) and her solo CD ‘Circus Parade’ (Vital Weekly 1389), she has more solo work on ‘Philophonia’. This new release sees the continuation of voice and noise; the first is the starting point, and the second is the result. As I wrote before, I have no clear idea of her methods, which can be pure analogue, pure digital or something in between, but the result is the kind of noise I like. There is some thought into this, and the result isn’t the endless onslaught of noise. We hear ‘other’ sounds and instruments, perhaps plundered from radio or TV, noise, feedback, distortion, and the voice in there somewhere. Are there words and meanings, or is it all about sounds produced by the mouth? That’s something I don’t know, and also, judging by the music and the titles, something that is to be found somewhere. The music has some excellent intensity, which doesn’t make this easy listening, but compelling it definitely is. I wrote before, ‘Think Henri Chopin in the hands of Merzbow’, but this time I like to add it is more Chopin than Merzbow. In ‘Dla Scriabina’, there is a considerable amount of piano sounds (maybe there is a link with Russian composer Alexander Scriabin?), which adds a surprisingly more musical touch to the music. Silence, in all three pieces, is scarce but not absent; another essential difference with more traditional noise music, along with excessive use of the stereo panorama (not all the time, luckily, as that would drive the listener up the wall). ‘Philophonia’ is another tour de force, quite literally. (FdW)
––– Address: https://econore.bandcamp.com/
SENSE OF SELF – JUSTIN TRUDEAU PUSHES LADY IN FRONT OF TRAIN (3″ CDR by Inner Demons Records)
New names are for exploration, but I can’t find much about the Sense of Self (or Lowest Sense of Self, as I also found out). Nothing other than this release and the odd sampler track here and there and, ho, wait. Two releases on his personal Bandcamp which might also not be too long in playing time, but exciting stuff here too. On his self-released “Trachea Highwayman”, we see Jon Watkins on guitar, so we might have the link on how Sense Of Self got to Inner Demons. Remember? We reviewed the Jon Watkins 3″ last week. Yet no name, just that he/she/they is from Montreal, Canada.
With titles like “Justin Trudeau Pushes Lady in Front of Train” and “Rotten Meat Challenge With Baby Trump”, it is evident that Inner Demons is an excellent place for what we’re about to hear. Collage compositions with a solid desperate, and emotional charge. A bit of a 90’s ambient-industrial feel but very well done. The “Baby Trump” track is the most chaotic of the three tracks, with a layer of garbled voices; I’d expect nothing else here. The third track, “Infatuated Glory”, is the most symphonic ambient of an interesting release by this Canadian newcomer. (BW)
––– Address: https://innerdemonsrecords.bandcamp.com/
LOSS – I KILL EVERYTHING (CDR by Inner Demons Records)
Holy damn, it’s already 18 years ago that Spectre Records from Belgium released “I Kill Everything” by Loss. Being on the Spectre Roster myself around then, I remember the impact of that album and the 3″ red velvet pouched mini CD-r that came just before that. Complex, slow brooding rhythms, massive orchestral layers and vocals are done in the best way a power electronics artist could do.
Of course, it was reviewed by Vital Weekly (Vital 505), and Nils wrote, ‘despite the emotional, melancholic sense on the album, we are dealing with an album of hard-thrashing aural machismo’. I disagree with the term machismo as the emotional layer takes guts to share with an audience, and it has nothing to do with testosterone-driven machismo. Having said that: If you’ve never heard this album and your collection has titles from Mental Destruction, Sanctum, Gridlock, Klangstabil, and maybe even Skinny Puppy, this release might be a welcome addition to your taste.
So after 18 years and being long out of print, it’s about time this diamond in the rough gets a bit of attention again. Dan from Inner Demons decided to do it himself, so catalogue number 100 is a reissue from that album that changed everything. The original eight tracks are accompanied by two remixes, “Happy Ending (Tension and Sorrow Remix by Loss)” and “The Turning (Shattered Mix by Talvekoidik)”.
For me, relistening the album a few times got me back in the massiveness of the sound and the impact it made since then. I can only hope there are people amongst you who haven’t heard it before, as I want to give you the gift of hearing this album for the first time. I envy you. (BW)
––– Address: https://innerdemonsrecords.bandcamp.com/
SICK SYSTEM – I WAS. I AM. I WILL BE. (HOMMAGE TO ROSA LUXEMBURG) (3″ CDR by Inner Demons Records)
I admit I had never heard of Rosa Luxemburg. At least, not that I know of. So reading about her as preparation for reviewing these 3″ triggers showed that she was one exciting person. I might need to read more about her in the future. However, the vocal sample in the beginning is very probably not by her because I can’t imagine the audio recordings from the early 1900s had that quality yet.
And from that moment on, a massive HNW – or better said, three of them, each precisely 6 minutes and thirty-six seconds – is/are ejaculated from your speaker. Analog / digital / pedal-based? I couldn’t tell you. Massive? Hell yeah. Interesting? Well, be honest, how interesting can an HNW be? Modulations and manipulations are all over the place and composition-wise; the 1st is the most static, and most activity and variations are found in the 2nd. The third one is also relatively static but ends with a vocal sample stating, ‘We must either move forward into socialism or fall back into barbarism’.
So listening to the sounds, hearing the samples, and reading the title got me to the point that I had to educate myself about Rosa Luxemburg. And isn’t that what art is about? (BW)
––– Address: https://innerdemonsrecords.bandcamp.com/
DE FABRIEK / WIPEÇ & GOODIEPAL / CHANDOR GLOOMY – LIVING IN THE SKY TRAIN (cassette by Universaal Kunst/De Fabriek Records & Tapes)
There are many cassette labels worldwide, especially in our musical universe, yet very few do anything exciting with packaging. Universal Kunst is the exception. This new one comes in a paper envelope, with my name on it, like a proper envelope, an old paper envelope with an ever older Dutch stamp, a passport for the Pan European Union, complete with stamps by the various groups (no photo from me though!) and the cassette looks like one of those old cassette Dutch posts at one point to send an audio letter. Very neat and very professionally made. This is what it says about the music; “Music by De Fabriek, Wipeç (through the hands of V-Lars and Bananskolen, delivered by Goodiepal) and Chandor Gloomy. For this release, De Fabriek were: R.van Dellen, M. Hohmann, C. Jenkins, P. Pet and L. Mossing. Mixed by Martijn Hohmann and Richard van Dellen”. It is never easy with cassettes to tell the difference between the tracks, but in this case, there are no gaps, and it’s all one long stream of sound. So what the input is by De Fabriek, Wipeç, or Chandor Gloomy is hard to say, even when I believe to hear some of Goodiepal’s trademark electronics and maybe, some of Gloomy’s more noise-oriented work. The tape is long, ninety minutes in total. It takes the listener on an extensive journey, from mild noise to drones, ‘silly’ electronics, rhythm, techno-like bits, ethnic samples, obscure loops, and the only thing missing is, perhaps, a jolly melody. The melodies here are a bit too weird to be a pop song. Everything is moving about, and one goes from one thing to the next; imagine you’re walking on a sunny road, take a left turn, and it’s raining; take a right turn to find some snow; you never know what happens next. Only towards the end, the music stays a bit longer in one place, which is a slightly more noisy/drone thing. The music reflects De Fabriek’s history quite well. Over the past 40+ years, they have created music in wildly varied musical genres (not heavy metal or country, but you get my drift). Techno, ambient, noise, and, this time, all combined into a long tape to celebrate the ‘anything go’ principles. (FdW)
––– Address: https://universaalkunst.bandcamp.com/https://defabriek.bandcamp.com/
ENRIKE HURTADO – GHOST FUTURES (cassette by Crystal Mine)
There have been several releases by Basque composer Enrike Hurtado in the past months, but this one came with some additional background information. Hurtado was part of the punk/post-hardcore scene, then started to create computer music and was part of the ixi software collective in London (I have to find memories of that particular software, which I remember as quite exotic to use). He then returned to the Basque country and worked with Mattin and Miguel A. Garcia, to mention two regular people on these pages. There is always some conceptual edge to his releases, and this new release deals with his time in South East London (1997-1998). “In 2022, he prepares a series of pieces that assemble interviews from television programmes and conferences on popular music (and other arts) together with textures and noises generated from music from the late 1990s. Revolution, future, freedom… How can we prevent our imagination from feeding the system?” That is not something I distilled from playing the music here. The titles reflect upon specific locations in London (New Cross, Lewisham and Deptford [sic]), and there are indeed some voices here, but it’s impossible to say what these are about. There are also heavily processed sounds, of which it is hard to say what the origins are. In ‘A Million Membranes to Break Through (Lewisham)’, I could think it is the sound of a record skipping and sine waves moving quickly about. Pitch shifting plays a primary role in the music, moving up and down the scale. While the text part eluded me, the music sounded pretty intense as it was, especially in the longer pieces, ‘The Slow Cancellation of the Future (New Cross)’ and ‘Everything Totally Taken Out It (Deptford)’. Especially the latter had a pretty interesting radiophonic quality to it. This piece sounded the most ‘composed’, but the others had a slightly more improvised feeling. Throughout a most enjoyable release, again, something just a bit different from his other recent releases. (FdW)
––– Address: https://crystalmine.bandcamp.com/
DIEGO CAICEDO – ASCENDIT IN INFERNO (cassette by School Of The Arts)
The last time the name of Diego Caicedo popped into these pages was in Vital Weekly 1225, and I didn’t write that. It was his trio with El Pricto and Vasco Trilla. Caicedo was born in Colombia, studied composition in his home country, and moved to Barcelona, where he still works. On his solo cassette, he presents six pieces; three are called ‘Acústic’, and three are ‘Eléctric’. They are worlds apart. Three acoustic guitar pieces are the first he ever committed to record and are delicate pieces of guitar strumming. Soft, yet dark, a bit folky, and very melodic. Following each acoustic piece, there is an electric piece, which is a 180 degrees opposite piece of music; noise music is the best tradition of whoever plays rocky noise guitar (noisy rock guitar), with many pedals going berserk. While not bad, I also think that I heard noise better from other people, and my mind circles back to the question: wouldn’t it have been better if all acoustic pieces were on one side of the cassettes and the electric ones on the other? Just a thought. I enjoyed the acoustic pieces a lot but found them outside my usual frame of reference, and the noise piece was alright, but perhaps nothing more than solid noise tunes. (FdW)
––– Address: https://sotajazz.com/