Number 1402

KEITH ROWE / GERARD LEBIK – DRY MOUNTAIN (CD by Inexhaustible Editions) *
BILL LASWELL & PETE NAMLOOK – OUTLAND (6CD by Cold Spring Records) *
SUPERPOSITION – GLACIERS (CD by Kettle Hole Records) *
JP INC. – MASSAGE & SPA (CD by Rope Worm) *
LISBOA SOA, SOUNDS WITHIN SOUNDS (CD compilation by Cronica Electronica)
BOUCHE BEE – FRRREE MON CHERIE (CDR by Earshots! Recordings) *
COTAC & HEDTJÄRN & MIRON – SKINS (cassette by Earshots! Recordings)

KEITH ROWE / GERARD LEBIK – DRY MOUNTAIN (CD by Inexhaustible Editions)

With the music here being around twenty-five minutes and a lot of text on the cover, you almost need all that time to read it. Then, you return to the beginning of the disc to listen properly. It is all about graphic scores. First, there is the title piece, by Rowe and Lebik, which is “a sheet of paper on which the gear of Keith Rowe stood at one of his concerts. Carrying an imprint of different weights and positions of his equipment, the paper became a score”, played by Rowe and Lebik on electronics and sound objects. This resulted in a video score by Alicja Bielawska, Bożenna Biskupska and Daniel Koniusz, based on the original paper, and a group of people played that score, with composers in the audience, who made a new score based on what they heard. These were handed in and played on the spit. The group of people are Johnny Chang (violin), Jonas Kocher (accordion), Gaudenz Badrutt (electronics), Bryan Eubanks (electronics), Kurt Liedwart (electronics), Xavier Lopez (electronics), Mike Majkowski (double bass) and Emilio Gordoa (vibraphone). I hope I summarized it all correctly. None of the scores made it has an image on the cover, which is a pity. The thread running through these six pieces (all between three and four-and-a-half minutes long) is that the music is quiet and introspective, working with a few sounds at the time. That is to say that the music doesn’t reach for something more urgent; there is occasionally a strong blast of high-pitched frequencies. With various contributions to electronics, this work has quite the electronic feel, with the vibraphone and violin playing the odd-ball instruments. Maybe because I know the back story here, I see each new version as a new version of the older one, a further building of the same principle. I am not sure how I would have seen this had I not known the story. It is quite a lovely little concept, with six excellent results. (FdW)
––– Address:


Quite a catch and a very pleasantly surprising one. I would not have imagined that Cold Spring Records, known for all their darkness, would dip into ambient electronic pioneer Pete Namlook’s (1960-2012) work, particularly his piece with Bill Laswell. The latter is a bass player and producer with a massive body of work, mainly outside Vital Weekly (Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rockit’ is a VW HQ favourite, sometimes), both on bass and production duties. Pete Namlook played electronic ambient music, usually without too many rhythms, but he wasn’t too shy to put a full set on. Namlook’s catalogue is massive, as at one point, he released a CD every month on his FAX +49-69/450464 label. He had a line of collaborators with whom he worked a lot (Klaus Schulze, Tetsu Inoue, and Richie Hawtin, for instance). With Bill Laswell he recorded five parts of ‘Outland’, which are now re-issued with a bonus disc of a new work, ‘Blackland’, by Laswell. There was more work by the two, ‘Psychonavigation’, which also spanned various CDs (and maybe something to come in the future?), which is one I really enjoyed. I could call myself a Namlook fan, yet I also know I heard maybe 50% of his work. Back in the day, I couldn’t afford to buy everything I wanted, and Namlook’s output was, as said, massive. From the original ‘Outland’ albums, I only heard two. It is interesting to play these six works as they provide an excellent picture of the diversity of ambient house music, at least in the approach of Namlook and Laswell. There isn’t one kind of ambient house. The word ‘house’, as in ‘house music’, is a loose term anyway in this respect, indicating dance music. Ambient House never relies too much on strict dance beats but uses more complex rhythms, such as on ‘Outland Two – African Virus’, which is more exotic, wilder and sometimes indeed more African. ‘Outland Three’ (no subtitle) has rhythms that are a bit more straightforward and minimal, but it’s not something for the dance floor. On ‘Outland Four’, the beats are more dub-like in some of the pieces (as with all of these pieces, it moves through various ideas and textures per album), another interest of many ambient house musicians. On the other side of the musical spectrum, we find music devoid of rhythm, spacious synthesizers, minimalist drones, and perhaps something ambient in the truest sense. As with many Namlook releases, there is a certain directness about the music, indicating that the music is one long session, a live-in-studio approach, with mixing and editing afterwards. There is not much extra information in this release explaining methods. The whole live-in-studio approach might be something that is only in my mind. Each album is a trip, and so is the whole five-plus hours of this. I played this for the first time in one row on a lazy Sunday, sipping tea after a long night. Ambient music is the preferred waking-up music for me. Maybe with the idea that my living room is a sort of chill-out place today, as some of this music is clearly the intended soundtrack for such a place. (FdW)
––– Address:


Various releases by the Japanese Zappak label have a conceptual edge, so maybe it is surprising to see a release by Olivier Prieur’s project, The Dead Mauriacs. Less conceptual and more surreal, I would think. Prieur has been active since the mid-90s, mainly with fanzine and since 2009, there have been some forty releases by his group The Dead Mauriacs, which is primarily his solo project but with the help of others. such as Susan Matthews, Vincent Domeyne, Thorsten Soltau, Jan Warnke and Michael Esposito. One of the things I don’t understand about various of his releases is that there is a long track (or two on this particular release), but the credits are such that the first has seventeen parts and the thirteen in the second. Why not create individual markers for each piece? I use surreal music, for Prieur’s music bounces all over the place, with sounds plundered left and right, some played by the composer, some surely not. Prieur uses Ableton Live, MIDI keyboards, real and fake instruments, Larsen, and field recordings. The computer is the playground of the music. Lots of music from the past, like big band or jazz pieces from movies, black and white movies and at times very exotic. There’s a piano here, voices there, and acoustic sounds thrown about. The term musique concrète applies to all of this, but with those recognizable sounds, this is a highly exotic version of the genre. Think Pierre Schaeffer meeting John Oswald, spliced together by Nurse With Wound. Radio-play capacities, but with the story being whatever you decide to make of this. The titles, all in French and English, sometimes may give way to what we hear, ‘Machinerie et artifices / Machinery and fireworks’, but sometimes seem more poetic, “Progression du cavalier espagnol / Progression of the Spanish rider” or “Suspense aux yeux clos / Suspense with closed eyes”. The exotic element brings back memories of when strange music was hip again in the mid-90s, but I assume Prieur uses it with a different intent. Not to please and be casual about it, but to create an atmosphere of days gone by, just like his approach to electronics harks back to the fifties—a wild and enjoyable ride, controlled and executed with great care.
    The other new release by Zappak has a slightly more conceptual edge. I don’t think I heard of Shuta Hiraki and Shuma Ando before. They went to the Hario Radio Tower, built in 1922, 136 meters tall, the tallest structure built before World War II in Japan—a place with much reverberation. The two musicians brought in “shruti boxes, percussion instruments, and objects, and did improvised performances for over two hours”, which were edited into the five pieces on this CD. Each track has the two musicians on one thing, so the first has “some percussions and objects” the second and third Ando on the Shruti box. At the same time, Hiraki is a bystander (actually, those roles are reversed in the third piece), the fourth has two voices, and Hiraki blows the whistle on the last. The bookend pieces are short, and the others are long, with the longest being twenty-one minutes (the centrepiece). When they started recording, it was windy and rainy, but during the day, things cleared up a bit; nevertheless, the raindrops played from time to time an important role. The two pieces with the Shruti box take up a significant portion of the release, and within that large space, it travels well. Maybe the two did something with the microphone’s position, moving slowly around, as the music has a fine, delicate, changing balance. The improvised aspect is not lost in all of these pieces. Yet there is none of the chaos and hectic that could happen. Being in this large space means they allow the sounds to travel in that environment and wait for them to die out. The voice piece least enamours me, but I enjoyed it all throughout. The idea to record improvisations in a big space is nothing new, but these two players do an excellent job. (FdW)
––– Address:


Eugene O’Brien is a USAmerican composer of some standing, having been part of the teaching team at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music since 1987 – so it does not surprise that he is now a professor emeritus.
    In the compositions presented here, he takes inspiration from 9 poems (for the cycle ‘Algebra of Night’) and paintings of Robert Motherwell (for ‘Elegy to the Spanish Republic’). The question – as always – arises, would the pieces stand without this explanation, is the inspiration a requirement, or only ‘sufficient’ (look it up in a Maths book, if you want to see the original definition), i.e. would the music not exist without the outside sources (necessary), or is this just a gimmick that does not really define the work (sufficient).
    ‘Algebra of Night’ consists of 9 relatively short pieces, all based on poems written by authors who resided in Manhattan at some point in time. All but two are soprano vocals of Deanne Meek linked with a piano quartet sub-set of the 21st Century Consort. My first impression was that of an opera setting with restricted accompaniment. But these are actually songs in a cycle. As always, I find the singing of poetry a bit tedious; you would need to have the libretto at hand to understand everything – which makes it difficult to follow the artist’s intention of conveying the atmosphere of the poems through music. In addition, the grouping around Manhattan-based poets, though mainly referring to the city, seems a bit academic. The two instrumental pieces, as not having poetry, obviously, have titles taken from Ginsberg’s work – I am not quite sure whether this information actually adds anything, apart from maybe not being able to form Ginsberg’s poetry into music. But why then refer to it? But let’s talk about the music. In contrast to the name of the ensemble, this – to me – sounds very little contemporary (as in the 21st century), and much more turn-of-the-century, i.e. 19th to 20th century. The music has more likeness to work by Poulenc, Debussy, and Faure, maybe even than anything ‘contemporary’. Is this a sign of getting fed up with modern-day audio abstractions, one of wanting to return to quasi-romantic composition styles? Or is it just an element of individual style?
    ‘Elegy’ is different in style, but not so much in compositorial approach. Again, the music reminds us more of the early 20th century than anything in the 21st, which is a statement as such, not one of quality. Compared with ‘Algebra’, the ensemble is much larger, and the music evokes a sense of military and battle, an appropriate atmosphere seeing the inspiration it came from and the instruments used, with wind and brass (and a vibraphone) replacing the strings from ‘Algebra’. It moves between aggressive and melancholic parts – maybe as the cycle of paintings, it refers to depicting different scenes. But we do not know any further, so it is difficult to tell, and perhaps also futile – the music should speak for itself. It does much better here than in ‘Algebra’ as there is no words to distract from the musical essence. To wrap up, I liked the neo-modern musical approach, apart from which this release is certainly something for lovers of modern opera (albeit not an opera …). (RSW)
––– Address:

SUPERPOSITION – GLACIERS (CD by Kettle Hole Records)

As these things go, when bands no longer (seem to) release records, I may not think about them anymore. TV Pow, a trio from Chicago, is such a group. They still exist and play a concert in Minnesota next week (if you read this VW on the day it goes out). Also I didn’t think of the solo activities of various members, such as Brent Gutzeit, Tod Carter and Michael Hartman. The latter two have a duo, Superposition, since 2004, but they go back thirty years and have worked in several bands and projects. TV Pow was a laptop trio, but in Superposition, they play piano, Rhodes, organ, and/or synthesizers, some percussion (which I can’t figure out if these are samples or played the two on a drum kit) along with a laptop. The resulting music reminds me of TV Pow, but also something that is much more jazzy and improvised. The smoother piano made me think of that wave of new jazz from Australia from a few years back. I usually am not a lover of jazz, but there is something about this slightly off-jazz meets ambient and glitch that I enjoy very much. All ten pieces were recorded during improvisations and then edited into the music we hear. I believe the music was recorded using a multi-track recorder, as sometimes one sound keeps playing into the next, and something entirely new comes along. Within thirty-eight minutes, they create a smooth and rough atmosphere—the mellow Rhodes piano versus the high-end pitches and glitches, and with a gentle backbeat. There is an occasional darkness clouding the sky, but light is always approaching down the line. It all stays close together, culminating in a very coherent album which is not a minute too long or too short. (FdW)
––– Address:


The title of the CD and the three pieces on the CD are all in Estonian and English. Estonia is the country where Kris Kuldkepp comes from. She’s now based in Hamburg. He plays the double bass, bass guitar and electronics. She played at various festivals (Jauna Muzika, StimmeX, Blurred Edges) and organised her own Biannual International Symposium on Sonic Art and Spatial Audio KLINGT GUT! KLG in Hamburg. She contributed to a Moljebka Pvlse release (Vital Weekly 1392) and, together with Zeromoon boss Jeff Surak, works as Bad Groupy (Vital Weekly 1377). I think this is her first solo CD. Her activities indicate an interest in improvisation, and maybe there is evidence of that in the three pieces here, but I immensely enjoyed these pieces. The use of various bass instruments gives the music a solid, deep-end sound, and I think she has many layers of these bass sounds, which are carefully mixed into the music on this disc. Whatever she does with electronics, I don’t know (maybe my lack of interest in the world of modular electronics), but it gives the music a solid musique concrète feeling. She extracts sounds from the basses, using objects and let’s these sing around in the electronics, and in the mix, she creates this intense music. At times, I am reminded of Iancu Dumitrescu but also of more industrial music, which makes for a beautiful combination, along with some of the more improvised elements. Maybe, at times, it’s an odd combination, but it works well. The best piece here is also the longest, ‘Küllastumine Nõudmisel / Saturation on Demand’, which indeed works with a lot of saturation of drone-based sounds, but in solid combination with small acoustic sounds, some of which reminded me of a rowing boat. This is a solid debut; hopefully, there will be more soon. (FdW)
––– Address:

JP INC. – MASSAGE & SPA (CD by Rope Worm)

To understand what this is about (maybe), quote a bit from the information, first about the musician behind JP Inc. “The man behind JP Inc. is John-Peter Hasson. Active in music, comedy and art since the early nineties […] with releases on Imputor?, Million Dollar Performances and Comedy Central Records […] toured with Devo, Neil Hamburger […] organising tours for Tim & Eric, Bob’s Burgers, The Eric Andre Show, On Cinema”. That sounds like a hoax, which given the fact that he works in comedy is not strange, but it seems true. Then, about this new release, it says, “Massage & Spa’ presented by JP Inc. is a 60-Minute Relaxation System – A pleasant musical and video companion for your next massage and spa journey. Methodically designed to caress and soothe your spirit’s ears and shoulders, this comfort product is for relaxation purposes only. Do not listen in situations where total, complete tranquillity of mind and body is not desired.” The video is here. Recently, I was in a sauna and found the relaxing music massively irritating, but I can imagine they wouldn’t play JP Inc.’s music should I request such. That is not to say that JP Inc doesn’t offer ambient music; he sure does. Relaxing music indeed, and sometimes bordering closely to the dreaded edge of new age music. His use of some higher frequencies made me think it’s all a more comedic take on the genre of relaxing music played in a massage and spa, and at the same time, it is also serious in the approach of ambient music. Throughout this album, which I think is all created with synthesizers and software, there are returning sounds, making it a very coherent enterprise and most suitable for an uninterrupted play in any circumstance requiring this kind of music. This oddity does the job in terms of ambient music, which can be enjoyed and ignored. The package is the hoax here; maybe they are trying to get the album in those places. I am sure that won’t work, but nice try anyway. (FdW)
––– Address:


As a fine Roman Catholic boy, I never studied the Old Testament, not the New either; when the time comes, I return and go straight to heaven. I know that Catholics find the teachings of our lord Jesus Christ of more interest than the Protestants (of whatever fraction) and the Jews, who are more into the Old Testament. Lainie Fefferman created an album of pieces, each being a sonic portrait of a biblical woman, all Old Testament; there is Rebecca, Lilith, Miriam, Jezebel and Dinah. Fefferman has lyrics that are about “how would I think and feel if I were her?”. This is her debut album, but she got work commissioned by the Recap Quartet, Greg Oakes, JACK Quartet, Aaron Larget-Caplan, Ensemble Decipher, Tenth Intervention, Sō Percussion, Make Music New York, Experiments in Opera, ETHEL, Kathleen Supové, TILT Brass, James Moore, Eleonore Oppenheim, and Dither. She teaches, organises, and uses voice and electronics in her music. Going into detail about each of the five women as part of the review is a bit too much (and would require lengthy quotes), but please look them up and see what they are about. Jezebel might be known, but Rebecca, “teenage matriarch Rebecca – a daughter who is asked by her family to choose her fate (Genesis 24:57) – when she makes the active choice to travel across a desert with a strange servant to marry his master, a man of forty that she’d never met”, is maybe a story less-known. The lyrics aren’t always straightforward and, at times, more evoke an atmosphere than a story. The electronics consist of computer technology, transforming her voice, stretching and granulating. Fefferman has some compelling music to offer here; from the relatively conventional ‘Rebacca’, it goes to the abstract sounds and words of ‘Jezebel’ and ‘Dinah’. Sometimes, there are also percussive sounds, such as in ‘Lilith’, slow drums, bells and all of that, giving the piece a rather creepy feeling. She created these sounds with “kicked-in newspaper boxes, squeaky fire doors, shattered glass, and the toggled switches of an old Ikea lamp”, which is fun information. Even when I didn’t always understand the lyrics, I very much enjoyed the moods created by Fefferman. Strong women deserve intense music, and that’s what we find on this relatively short disc; it is, sadly, only twenty-seven minutes. I wouldn’t have minded hearing more of this; I am sure more women in the old book deserve our interest.(FdW)
––– Address:


Rock Palace isn’t the well-known German tv-program (Rockpalast in German) but a venue in Madrid. The night Trinity presented their first release (B R U T E), they gave a concert, and that concert is this release, aptly named Live at the Rock Palace. Three men, all well embedded in the impro scene of Spain, Luis Erades on alto and bass saxophone, Pablo Regas on electric guitar and Fernando Lamas Pérez on drums. The three can conjure up quite the atmosphere, controlled mayhem (I’m not a sexual harasser) or a brooding soundtrack to a horror witchcraft movie (Ode to Marjorie Cameron). On occasion, Regas plays a great riff and varies it slightly. Since this release has been recorded live, the sound is less in-your-face than their debut B R U T E. There’s one drawback: the saxophone is better heard in the mix than the electric guitar. With a bit of equalizing, that minor problem can be easily fixed. Pablo Regas brings some interesting stuff into the fold. Anyway. Another great release by the Polish label MultiKulti Project. And I can’t wait to see if and when Trinity will be recording again. (MDS)
––– Address:


Following a few occasions that I reviewed music by Italy’s Marta Zapparoli, I reviewed her first solo release in Vital Weekly 1230. I think that’s the last time I heard her music. Now there is a new album, ‘Interdimensional Generated Space’. Zapparoli’s interest lies in using Natural Radio phenomena (VLF), also known as extreme low frequencies, coming from the Nothern Lights. It’s not something you pick up with your transistor radio, but for which special receivers are needed. Zapparoli has a homemade crystal radio, which she uses in “combination with a specific light, detectors, motors, and antennas, to simulate a technological audio version of the Northern Lights”. She uses this in a live concert, and I believe this new work is a studio version of her live concert set-up. Partly using sounds from him and Norway. If one is familiar with the work of Joe Banks/Disinformation and Stephen McGreevy, you know what can be expected here. Buzzing and whirring of sounds, but Zapparoli extends beyond the crackles and static and, using electronics, arrives at a more synth-heavy sound, even when all of these might be radio sounds. At times, the music is very much the noisy beast. The twenty-minute piece has four sections, with a brief silence. One piece, perhaps as to indicate this is a concert, but it could have been four pieces on the CD. Listening at home is a different thing, anyway. You can’t play the music with a similar volume Zapparoli may use in concert at home (I know I can’t), which I can imagine is quite an overwhelming experience. Drone-like, noise-like, static, electrical charges and sounds that appear to be faulty wiring; I like this a lot and wouldn’t have minded some more of it. (FdW)
––– Address:

BOUCHE BEE – FRRREE MON CHERIE (CDR on Earshots! Recordings)

Bouche bee [French], as in ‘open mouthed’. I am unsure whether something is haunting me, but this is the third release based on unusual vocals I am reviewing within the same number of weeks …. Nevertheless, this is a unique and different album. The duo Bouche Bee sounds a bit like it was Canadian – what with the mix of French and English and of surnames not easily connected to Great Britain, but it is, in fact, British. Emmanuelle Waeckerle has been a senior academic at the University of the Creative Arts in Farnham since 2012. Still, at the same time, she is an improvisational artist with an interest in the relationship between voice, words, music, and the body. She is part of Eddie Prevost’s ‘London Improvisation Workshop’ and has extensively played with Prevost and Eva-Maria Houben, as well as with Will Montgomery and many others. She is also part of Wandelweiser, an international music network. Petri Huurinainen, guitarist, I cannot quite pinpoint, nor Peter Keserue, on a sampler, electronics, melodica and various. The former founded Bouche Bee with Waeckerle in 2008, with Keserue only joining two years ago – with Bouche Bee still describing themselves as a ‘duo’, maybe only temporarily.
    The five tracks on this recording result from regular meetings to record improvised music, later re-listening to the outcomes and gradually focusing on the selection presented here. Contrary to what you might have expected from the above, the tracks have a distinctly ‘ambient’ sound. You could somehow think of a Rapoon played with acoustic instruments or an Organum less shrill. The tracks are all long-drawn and often build on a sinister ‘brass’ sound, which I believe is an e-bow or bow used on the guitar, then processed. Sources of sound are rarely recognisable, apart from the voice and some clear guitar or melodica sounds. Many others are layered echoes in the background or short sounds that could come from a trombone – with none present. The lack of recognisability and the layering of sounds make out the ‘drone’ effect of the recordings.
    The first two tracks build a layer-on-layer in long, 17 and 13-minute pieces. Although the voice dominates, few words are discernable. There is only a subtle rhythm, given by echo loops, a little guitar and an occasional light drum. The third piece, ‘A la Fontaine claire’ (with French vocals), begins to provide a more distinct rhythm with the trombone-like accents adding a sinister tone. The final two pieces adopt a quieter mood. The fourth ‘Three Mon Cherie’ is a very subdued piece that only receives rhythmic elements towards the end when the guitar and other loops define the pace. The main component, for the most part, is the voice, singing and hissing. The final piece, ‘Is it too late’, does use recognisable words. Drenched in echo, a distant horn sounds as the track develops more immediacy towards the end, adding some improvised hectic percussive sounds. Nevertheless, this is an incredibly ‘relaxed’ release that defies its origins in free improvisation by offering song-like structures explored over anything between 9 and 17 minutes. It’s a beauty of an album and a pity that not more of their recordings have been made available to date, limited to only very few listed on Bandcamp. (MDS)
––– Address:

LISBOA SOA, SOUNDS WITHIN SOUNDS (CD compilation by Cronica Electronica)

A festival of sound art, ecology and auditory culture. That’s how Lisboa Soa is described, and they have been going since 2016. To commemorate the first lustrum, they opened their archives to four Portuguese musicians and had them create new works from works collected. The festival is about “acoustic ecology, the discipline that inspired the festival since its foundation, places listening at the centre, and this is also the focus of Lisboa Soa: to shift attention to the ears and to create conditions, spatial and temporal, that are conducive to the act of listening attentively. One of the main goals of Lisboa Soa is to bring the audience to iconic spaces and create auditory experiences that guide visitors through these spaces while at the same time provoking a reflection on the involvement of human beings with the environment, with others, with the city and how it all connects through sound”, so in that sense, it is a good idea to create new connections and new spaces. Of these four, I only heard of João Castro Pinto but not Sara Pinheiro, Meste André and Ana Guedes. These four composers have four different approaches. At the start, Pinto uses highly varied sounds from the works, processes these heavily and uses silence quite a bit, in powerful contrast to other sounds he uses. Pinheiro concentrates on the actions in between, before and after a concert, the auditorium and everybody waiting. There is no emphasis on the dynamics within the sound, but minor differences exist in the sounds of empty spaces. André’s approach is ‘What do I like that much that I want to use it?’, sounds from the concerts and behind the scenes (which made me think, what is archived here, and how much?). His piece is quite the traditional musique concrète approach, working with granulating sound, collage-like and most enjoyable throughout. It is also the one piece that uses recognizable musical instruments: lots of percussion and some trumpet. Each piece is longer than the previous, but from the fourteen of André, it is a leap to the twenty-five of Guedes. She uses the archive but adds recordings from other places, such as Willem Twee Studios in The Netherlands. It is a long piece, but there are very beautifully arranged atmospheric sounds here, at times almost drone-like. (FdW)
––– Address:


If you have read more of the reviews I’ve written in the past, you might have picked up one or more occasions about my love for wind instruments. Which – I’ll spoil the surprise if you haven’t – is non-existent. It might be added to my collection if it’s unrecognizable and treated or manipulated into something completely different. So, reading about the second part of ‘IT DEEL’, which is an ongoing project by Romke and Jan Kleefstra with additional musicians, the additional musicians being Eivind Lønning and Espen Reinertsen playing trumpet, saxophone and electronics … I was frightened. As I also reviewed the first part (Vital 1350), where the collaboration was with Michał Jacaszek, who played string arrangements, well, it was already a given fact I was to write about this one too.
    Eivind Lønning and Espen Reinertsen are two new names for me, as is their project, Streifenjunko. The Kleefstra’s they met in Worm, Rotterdam, and it was from then on a wish from Romke and Jan to at some point work with them. The combination of improvisation, jazz, sound art, field recordings, electro-acoustics and poetry/ spoken word in the Frysian language is here presented on another vinyl. If you have and like the first one, there should be no hesitation in ordering this one, too. Because the ongoing development is something collection-worthy.
    Eivind and Espen brought field recordings from the Norwegian woods to the St. Thomas church in Katlijk. During these recordings, the Norwegian Woods found friendship with the Frysian woods, At least with their field recordings. The musicians worked with this friendship and made “IT DEEL II” a release contemplating how humanity treats its environment, nature and, more specifically, its (local) forests. The voice of Jan gives the whole contemplative character a somewhat fatalistic charge because, yes: Things have to change. A solemn plea as performed in a church. It’s not a sermon, but it’s close…
    And the wind instruments? I was scared way too much to begin with. I could perfectly handle it. After all, it’s the wind that also makes the woods sound. And that aspect was way more pronounced in the composition than any other (regular) use of a wind instrument. (BW)
––– Address:


Since 2021, Howard has been creating releases in a Suburban Observances series. There have been five in total already, and maybe because some labels work a bit faster than others, the latest release is #3 on the beautiful Oxidation label from Chicago. Howard’s exact ‘how’ is a mystery, but it seems he is given source material by several artists who are all thanked in the liner notes, and then, Howard gets to work with everything that creates or plays or (re)records sounds. Resulting in yet another release that is captivating in its – what feels like – post-industrial beauty. In between electroacoustics, soundscapes and drones lies the territory of a culture in decay, and that is what I think is the observation that Howard wants to tell about.
    Amongst the knowingly or unknowingly participating artists in this third volume are Andrea Pensado, Frans de Waard, Stuart Chalmers and Rudolf It’s definitely an exciting bunch to work with. But while listening, I was trying to see if I could find which material people did send and what he did with it. How do you collaborate or create music when you’re given raw material from a plethora of people? Is the individual sonic donation recognizable? Being quite familiar with the material of Frans de Waard, I listened to this album several times with that in mind. I *might* suspect one particular phrase being from his hand, but having said that, that being a suspicion and not a certainty shows how good Howard Stelzer is as an artist. The second thing I noticed during those several listenings was that the sounds did not bore me. The sixth or seventh listen was as enjoyable as the first, and at different volumes, I noticed different layers, creating entirely new dynamics.
    “Euclid Is a Dead Sponge” is an album that gives a sonic representation of the emotions of a suburban area. The constant presence of the highway, which sounds we no longer notice … The emptiness of the absent social interaction as all that’s done in the suburbs is sleep, eat, and travel to work … The pressure of working too many hours to pay for an overpriced house where you have to live to be close to the work mentioned earlier … Third world problems? Or ‘Suburban Observances’?
That’s what I hear in “Euclid Is a Dead Sponge”. And I love how it’s done. Maybe you hear different things, but I’ll chase the other four volumes while you listen. (BW)
––– Address:

COTAC & HEDTJÄRN & MIRON – SKINS (cassette by Earshots)

Reading recorded at Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm in 2022 distracted me a bit. I was thinking about that beautiful studio where the Bucla houses one of them. But sure, it is also a studio, a place where you can record all sorts of things and seeing this is a release by Earshots, it is perhaps less of a surprise that the music is freely improvised. Like jazz and free jazz, improvisation and free improvisation arrive in bulk at Vital Weekly, and there are not enough human resources to write about it. Vital Weekly has, perhaps, a side interest but not an overall one. Here we have Laurentiu Cotac (double bass), Isak Hedtjärn (clarinet) and Diana Miron (vocals, violin, viola). The vocals are limited, I think, to the B-side, ‘Vertical Restore’, and not something I enjoy very much. That is a pity, as whatever else this trio does is quite interesting within the field of free improvisation. They have a closeness in their playing together, which makes the sounds double up and have a certain noisy intensity that works well. Within the relative hecticness and chaos of the music, the music is dense, reinforcing the output. The vocals ruin that somewhat for me, which is a pity. The two sides are relatively short and to the point, eleven and fourteen minutes, which is enough for this acoustic blast (and my free improv fill for the week) (FdW)
––– Address: