Number 1403

JÜRG FREY – CIRCULAR MUSIC (EXT​.​N​°​1​-​N​°​2​-​EXT​.​N​°​2) (CD by Insub Records) *
BRUTTER – OUTTA (CD by Susanna Sonata) *
TEZ – BLACK BAMBOO (CD by Standa/Silentes) *
FRODE GJERSTAD & MATTHEW SHIPP – WE SPEAK (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
DARIO CALDERONE – ISOLARIO (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
A.MAIAH & MATA – RE:ACT (CDR by Ramble Records) *
THE LONELY BELL – THE OUTER BANKS (cassette by Frosti) *
AETHER (CD by Over Dub Recordings)

JÜRG FREY – CIRCULAR MUSIC (EXT​.​N​°​1​-​N​°​2​-​EXT​.​N​°​2) (CD by Insub Records)

The Swiss composer and clarinettist Jürg Frey (1953) is part of the Wandelweiser Group. This is a collective of composers and performers of contemporary classic music. Their music is usually quiet and, at times, uses performance art. This CD has three examples of that, and there are variations on the notion of circular music. The music is performed by Clara Lévy (violin), Victor Guaita (viola), Michaël Liberg (cittern), Yannick Guédon (voice), Antoine Läng (voice), Stan Maris (accordion (2-3), Florence Cats (theremin), d’incise (Indian harmonium (1), electronic (2-3)). The centrepiece is the longest, ‘Circular Music No. 2’, which opens with acoustic sounds, the musicians shuffling about and one by one getting into the action of playing their instruments. Then they start to play, repeating short phrases with different intervals, so it seems the same, but it isn’t the same. All of this unfolds slowly and quietly in thirty-four minutes. With D’incise on electronics, there is a strange layer of abstraction within the music, giving it all a bit of conceptual edge. In the two bookend pieces, the first and second ‘Extented circular music’, Frey does more or less the same thing, but a bit louder, a bit more organised, with all players playing simultaneously and, perhaps, more musically. Both pieces reminded me of Bryars’ ‘Sinking Of The Titanic’, less any aquatic sounds. There is also something dramatic about this music in all its quiet- and slowness. Solelmly, like a funeral march, maybe, and very beautiful. Modern classical music may not always appeal to me, but I appreciate this very much. (FdW)
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BRUTTER – OUTTA (CD by Susanna Sonata)

Following the self-titled debut LP (Vital Weekly 994) and ‘Reveal And Rise’ (Vital Weekly 1083), ‘Outta’ is the third album by Brutter, the duo of Christian and Frederik  Wallumrød. The first plays drum machines, synths, electronics and autoharp, while the second plays drums, drum synths, electronics and lap steel. I liked their previous releases, even when I saw room for improvement. Sometimes a bit too long, too much echo and yet interestingly abstract rhythmic music that isn’t about dancing. The latter is something they continue in their album. Non-consecutive beats with plenty of echoes, which this time round made me think of dub music, but then, just with techno, it has very little to do with whatever idea you may have about real dub music. Maybe this is another variation of improvised music in which rhythms are essential, which may not be a traditional approach. There are many links to genres: dub music, improvised music, industrial music and dance music. I immensely enjoyed this, perhaps because of the diversity in musical styles. It made my head twist and turn. Brutter deals with many bass-like sounds, making the music quite dark most of the time. But when they use a snare, it becomes a loud crash into the music; it lingers within the echo (think dub) and dies out. But most of the time, things tremble in the sound spectrum’s lower end. It is a strange album that slowly grew on me and needed a few more spins before it all opens up. (FdW)
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The Taalem label took a rest after their long line of 3″CDRs but now returns with a factory-pressed CD by the long-running musical project Désaccord Majeur. Jerome Maudit, the man behind Désaccord Majeur has been going for many years, with a debut release in 1989. Yet, there have been only ten releases, this one included. From 2003 to 2020, it was total silence. I know I heard many, if not all, of these releases, and yet, I don’t have a clear picture of what Désaccord Majeur is all about. After hearing the five pieces on ‘La Lumière Des Jours’, I still don’t know. The music is all electronic, mostly ambient and usually all in a slightly more sequenced way. Not because there is a lot of rhythm, but through sampling and sequencing, many small and bigger elements repeat. Somewhere in the back of my mind, it says that in the past, Désaccord Majeur’s music was heavily influenced by Muslimgauze and Rapoon, and maybe it was and still is, but there is something unique about the music of Désaccord Majeur. Less ‘ethnic’ (if that is a word we can still use), maybe a bit more ‘dance-like’, and with sufficient additional sounds, such as the distortion in ‘Les Nombres Transfinis’. The music is quite moody and atmospheric, darkish, but it’s not for dark for the sake of darkness. We find the shortest piece at seven minutes and almost fourteen the longest. Désaccord Majeur takes his time to let his music develop; it is time well-spend. Nowhere I had the idea that it was too slow (or rushed!), just the right amount needed to let it all develop naturally. Beautiful stuff that made me realize I should, when I have some more time, also return to some of the previous releases. (FdW)
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As Taalem sees a restart (see elsewhere), so is their sub-division Kokeshidisk. The mothership Taalem releases a yearly Bandcamp digital-only, pay-as-you-want compilation called ‘Homework’, and for seven years, they have been doing this every year, resulting in a massive album (always announced in Vital Weekly). I am unsure why they selected Murmer to collect his pieces from six (one year he was absent because his father died) and someone else. Other, of course, then they think these are good pieces. Murmer likes to submit relatively long pieces to compilations, hence the double disc. Patrick Tubin McGinley, the man behind Murmer, isn’t the most active musician in the releasing CDs (cassettes, vinyl) department. He’s a man of words, and for each of the six pieces, there is a list of sound sources and inspirations for titles. For many years, he has lived in Estonia and is very active with field recordings, which he incorporates in music, installations, workshops, etc. His primary interest lies in finding sustaining and minimal sounds. ‘The Docks Sing In Strange Tongues’, the first piece here, collects sounds from various harbours and in the mix, it all makes a very coherent, minimalist music piece, which reminded me of Ingram Marshall’s ‘Fogtropes’. This piece sets the tone for the other five. In each of his works, Murmer uses a limited set of sounds, different sounds, that is, and these are cleverly woven together. Nothing stays for very long in the place, as Murmer uses a variety of lengths, so there is never the same overlap. In that respect, he reminds me of the sadly recently deceased Steve Roden. It bears the same tranquillity, the same effective sparse use of sound sources and working within limitations to a significant effect. His field recordings are usually entirely obscured, which adds to the beauty of it all. In ‘Echo Surveys: Nuti’, there are wind chimes, and in ”Echo Surveys: Viljandi’ birds, perhaps. Water sounds in ‘Water. Grain. Oil’, maybe, but whatever else? I don’t know. Murmer uses quite a bit of filtering (at least, so I believe) and prefers darker sounds. This, too, adds to the ambient quality of the music. It is an excellent release, which begs the question: why isn’t there more of Murmer available? (FdW)
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Baroque music is not something I care for, and I know very little from Domenico Scarlatti. I once saw Scarlatti Goes Electro, two musicians with wigs playing Scarlatti tunes on synthesizers, which I found a funny novelty act. Reinhold Friedl uses these words about Scarlatti: “he knew quite well that he had disregarded all the rules of composition in his piano pieces, but asked whether his deviation from the rules offended the ear? He believes there is almost no other rule than that of not offending the only sense whose object is music – the ear” when he composed a piece for the dance company Rubato. Friedl uses the piano sonata F-minor K.466 as the source, but I wouldn’t have expected this any other way; nothing here sounds like the original, which I heard on YouTube. Zeitkratzer, Friedl’s ensemble, plays the pieces using clarinets, flutes, French horn, piano, percussion, violin, viola, and two double basses. When a piece is in a minor key, it usually indicates something more atmospheric, much like the original, and there is something atmospheric about the music here, too. As with many other pieces by Friedl and performed by Zeitkratzer, there is that modern music feeling to the music, which one sometimes mistakes for improvisation; at times, it is slightly dissonant and atonal. All instruments sound as they are supposed to be. There is a dramatic dark opening piece, ‘Lilas’, with rising dark tones from all players. There are also slightly lighter pieces, such as ‘Muguet’, with sparse piano tones and ditto sparse music from the other instruments. The music rocks back and forth between these extremes, all in dramatic gestures. I don’t know much about choreography, but I can imagine this music works quite well for such purposes. Modern (classical) music is, perhaps, not something I enjoy that much, but somehow music by Friedl and performed by Zeitkratzer does, and ‘Scarlatti’ is no exception. (FdW)
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The connection between these four discs is Christof Migone, three times responsible for the music and once as a label boss (actually twice the label boss, doubling with his role as a musician). Much of his work, which is more than music, has a solid conceptual edge. This means I must copy large chunks of the information, so I can tell you what a release is about, for instance, about ‘Seti Sati’. “In the summer of 2022, at home in Toronto, I performed 840 times the last chord of Satie’s Vexations one note at a time (track 2) and then all at once (track 7, which is on the download only). The piano was not in tune, and I am not a pianist. The album title references Erik Satie but also alludes to the acronym for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (Seti) and the Buddhist term meaning mindfulness (Sati). The subtitle (‘My mother, musician, is dead’) references a 1984 book by Louis Wolfson titled Ma mère, musicienne, est morte de maladie maligne à minuit, mardi à mercredi, au milieu du mois de mai mille977 au mouroir Memorial à Manhattan. And it is also true in my case, my mother was a pianist.” Migone’s mother passed away in 2019. The origin of the piece (and here I won’t copy all the information) goes back to a 1992 project in which Migone used 840 lock grooves of ‘Vexations’ and then copied that on two reel-to-reel players, doing 840 dits using 840 razor blades, in 1995. The show was advertised with 840 numbered posters. There are five pieces on this CD: the two mentioned above and the other three combine the 1992 and 2022 versions in various ways. I hope I got it all right. ‘Vexations’ is a reasonably famous piece by Erik Satie, and I think if you want to know, you look it up. As these things go, following me typing this information, I sit back and listen. Somewhere halfway through this (72-minute) CD, I am thinking, hold on, what was that concept again? How does that translate to what I am hearing? Start the CD again, and I believe this concept is more or less audible in the first and second tracks. Then, towards the end of the second track, there is a sudden shift in sound, field recordings of children playing, and the concept out of the window. I think. Which is okay as far as I’m concerned. I don’t mind an exciting concept, but I also enjoy a fine piece of music. ‘Drone (Il Sera Bon De Se Préparer)’ is a piece of delicate drones and weird field recordings (from the bathroom?). Satie slowly disappeared from my mind, and Migone came. Each piece is 14:15 long, and that indeed is another conceptual thing. Pleasantly confusing music here, somewhere between musique concrète, modern classical and abstract art, but at the same, very listenable.
    The following two releases are by Christof Migone & Alexandre St-Onge, who worked as the duo undo (no capitals) since 1997. As the title indicates, perhaps the duo is no more, Undo is done. The duo used electronics of all kinds, and the starting point was improvisation. As their work is about direction interaction and improvising, it is perhaps fitting that the final release is a documentation of early live recordings, with the oldest from 1997 and the most recent from 1999. The music is best described as wild stuff, noise-based but not without balance and delicacy. There is a lot of crackling of contact microphones upon surfaces, lots of mechanical objects, rotating surfaces and such like, and even when it all buzzes and cracks, in the best tradition of, say, the cracked everyday electronics of Möslang and Guhl. There is occasionally a voice somewhere in there, unheard by the former Swiss duo, but here is another source of sound as it is a wild ride, bordering on the edge of improvisation, noise, musique concrète and more theatrical aspects of music. I have no idea if Undo was a laptop duo, but I imagine something wilder here: a more hands-on approach to cracking sounds and cutting through electrical wiring.
    But hold on, didn’t I didn’t just say Undo was no more? I am unsure why the other CD isn’t by undo, even when it seems to contain recordings from when undo was an ongoing concern. Maybe it is the nature of the recordings, rather than the music, as these are “the soundtracks of four performances plus image and text documentation. Maybe because these are special projects, they don’t arrive as undo. The music is distinctly different from what the two produce as undo. Each of the four pieces was created during a performance, and to describe each would mean a lot of copy/paste of the information, which I won’t do. From strangling each other to lying down and something about spit, there is a lot of interesting stuff to read in the booklet. The main question is, of course, how does it hold up as music detached from the performance, without any image (other than the ones in the booklet)? Pretty well! ‘L’étranglement’, the opening piece, is at twenty-two minutes, perhaps a bit long in all its minimalism, but half it would have been fine too. Throughout, the music works very well as a standalone. No longer the scratch and break sound of their concert side, but rather more continuous sounds, buzzing and whirring, as before, but now for a more extended period. It sounds as if things are stuck in a loop, and if the music is recorded in the space of the performance, there is that spatial aspect to the music. While I enjoyed the live disc too, I prefer this one, simply because the music appealed more to me than the live disc. I wouldn’t mind experiencing both versions of the duo, but I think in concert I would enjoy the music more and on disc the music from the performance. If that sounds odd, so be it.
    The final release is just the previous Migone and St-Onge CD by Migone’s Squint Press and contains the music of Ellen Moffat and Eeva Siivonen. I had not heard from either. The information talks about using “found and organic materials, field recordings, and generative processes to construct possible worlds of sonic fluctuation” and “experimental moving image practice describe the subjective experience in ways that resist separation between self and other, interior and exterior, human and nonhuman, and living and nonliving”, but no specific instruments are mentioned unless we take the words from the titles as instruments/sources. The longest is the fifth piece, ‘Water Maplekeys Cicadas Strings Waterdrops Catalpa’, and, maybe these are the sounds contained within. Variations of this title, with occasional other words (slate, steel, stones, needles), make up the six titles of the pieces. I understand these pieces were part of a 12-hour online event, and the whole thing has something of a quiet event down in the woods. Raindrops fall, people go about with their metal objects, rustling about, and an occasional outburst of cicadas tells us this is summertime in a warmer place. It is a curious meeting of hand-manipulated objects, field recordings, part performance (or maybe all of it is a performance?), improvisation and ambience. There is a very relaxing atmosphere in the hour this album lasts. Even without the visual aspect, this is a great album. (FdW)
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TEZ – BLACK BAMBOO (CD by Standa/Silentes)

There is quite a bundle of new releases on Silentes and their conglomerate of sub-divisions, and there are sometimes new names here. Today that is by Francesco Giannico, of whom I only know that he is “a 43-year-old father with a midlife crisis, a bloody boomer basically”, well, the boomer part he got wrong, and the other I don’t know. He works with granular synthesis, applied to numerous recordings, stringed instruments, pianos, and, no doubt, also some field recordings. Reverb plays an important part, creating what he calls a “fourth dimension” and that the ” resulting acoustic image was meant to be a memory of my childhood. That’s why sometimes you will hear harder, more melancholy tracks and sometimes freer, more out-of-the-box tracks”. I don’t hear That out-of-the-box element because I don’t know what in-the-box element is supposed to be. Giannico created a forty-five-minute album with nine tracks that have their roots deep into the world of ambient music, with some massive drones and finer glitches, but at the same time, it has lots of connection to the world of ‘real’ music. Guitars, piano and percussive sounds also reach us in non-processed versions, adding traditional melodic touches to the music. Sometimes, this leans towards post-rock and shoegazing, with much-compressed fuzzing. In ‘Fremito’, he adds a drum machine that brings the music out of the atmospheric haze and into a more poppy land, with some muted trumpet. It broke the spell carefully crafted in the first seven pieces, which is a pity. From a coherent album to a slightly less coherent one. There are no big surprises here, but it’s fine music for a dreary day.
    True ambient, as in true to the word, we find on the album by Gigi Masin and Rod Modell, both no stranger to these pages and, in the case of Modell, going strong for many years. Their ‘Red Hair Girl At Lighthouse Beach’ is also available on vinyl, which explains that one piece is nineteen and the other fifteen minutes. I believe this is music through e-mail collaboration and inspired by the water-like surroundings both live in. Unspecified for Modell and Masin, it is Venice. The first piece, ‘Red Hair Girl At The Boat Stop’, was written by Masin and reworked by Modell, and roles reverse on ‘Summer Morning At Lighthouse Beach’ (you see what they did there to come with the album title). As with their other work, the level of atmospherics is very high, with lots of sustaining sounds, extensive processing of field recordings, recurring elements and a faint bass drum thud, in the Modell rework of Masin. This thud is absent on the other piece, which is all about atmospherics—light and dark feature on both pieces. The first is darker than the second, but that says nothing about the atmospheric quality of the music. I admit having a slight preference for the Modell rework of Masin, as Masin’s rework of Modell is a bit too light, almost new age-like, which is uncommon in his music. I like darker, obscured and deliberately vague things, which is what Modell does well here. This is a great release, again, one for the shorter and darker days to come.
    Next up is TeZ, also known as Maurizio Martinucci, who lives in Amsterdam and is best known for his membership in Clock DVA. He also worked with Scanner, Kim Cascone, Saverio Evangelista, Taylor Deupree, Sonia Cillari, Chris Salter, Honor Harger, Luca Spagnoletti and Domenico Sciajno. He works with both hardware and software as a musician, which he does here; maybe more software (max/msp) than hardware (as in modules). The bamboo in the title references the Shakuhachi flute he uses, along with objects and field recordings. All of which goes straight into max/msp for some thorough processing. According to the information, the music is all improvised, which, with max/msp is very well possible using “generative filters, delays, pitch shifters and harmonisers, orchestrated in ever-changing feedback loops”. The result doesn’t sound too improvised, which is a good thing; I think it shows an interest in organisation and composition. Unlike many of the Silentes (but not unique) releases, this one isn’t that much all things atmospheric, another diversion in the world of ambient music. Tez’s music works differently. It’s more experimental, perhaps, in a more classical sense. A bit of musique concrète-like, modern electronics, but at the same time, it also has a dash of rhythm and more freedom in composition. Sometimes, especially in the three tracks over seven minutes, TeZ takes too much time and not enough sound, so it becomes a bit thin, and he’s at his best when he keeps his music concise and to the point. He waves atmospherics into the fabric of the music as a backdrop and, in the foreground, bends and reshapes his sounds, sometimes dramatically and sometimes elegantly. At times, it’s a bit like Clock DVA, but TeZ takes more risks and sideways in his solo work.
    Also, we find a different kind of atmosphere (as always) in the music of Gianluca Becuzzi. ‘Black Mantra’ is the follow-up to ‘Axis Mundi’ (Vital Weekly 1355). This time, it’s all about “Kali, “The Black-One”, the Hindu goddess of death, time, supreme power, destruction and change. She is dark and heartless, the anti-mother with a bloodied face”, and, apparently, a “popular figure also in the Western world”. Becuzzi plays electric baritone guitar, aluminium neck guitar, aluminium neck bass VI, sampling and programming. At the same time, on the second disc, there is help from Antonio Tonietti on the Indian harmonium, modified acoustic guitar and the guitar. Becuzzi is a man who likes to rip his guitar hard and loud, like a rock god. Also, there is the sampled percussion, banging loud and clear, making Becuzzi a one-person metal band. Topped with chant-like singing, this is not the kind of music that much for Vital Weekly. It’s music that could well at any place where people dressed in black gather and devilish hand gestures; not areas I frequent a lot, as you can imagine. These pieces have a drone-like element, even when Becuzzi uses a fair bit of rhythm. It’s about the minimalism that is also part of this, the repeating element of guitars and rhythm, but also in the monk-like chants. As said, atmospherics of a different kind indeed. The music I can see is part of a horror movie, again with the primary colour being black. Death and destruction, sure, but I see it also a change, a re-birth. Give it a bang and see what kind of new life springs from it (even without believing in reincarnation). On the second disc, Becauzzi’s music has a slightly more improvised feeling, with the heavy guitar still in place but with other instruments being played more spontaneously, bringing the music to a somewhat more familiar place.
    The most extensive package is the 28-page booklet, 8 inches squared of collages by label boss Stefano Gentile and music by Dirk Serries. The two go back some thirty years, when Gentile’s first label enterprise, Amplexus, released a 3″CD by Serrires, then working as Vidna Obmana. Four years ago, Gentile released some more music by Serries, now working under his own name, on vinyl and ‘The Disintegration Of Silence’ is their latest offering. In the booklet, we find collages by Gentile from fashion ads, words, and newspapers, all looking quite colourful. As I am playing Serries’ music at the same time, I am thinking about his music concerning the collages. Maybe the music resembles black-and-white photography of nature shots, trees and such. Still, the relation between images and music becomes more apparent if you look at the images as worn-out pages from magazines from a long time ago. These days, Serries is more known as a player of free improvised music, but he occasionally returns to the world of ambient music, and this is what he does here, playing five excellent moody tunes on his guitar. Many guitar effects are used, some of which are a bit hissy, such as in the second part. At times, it sounds like he has been made on a reel-to-reel tape, using various bits of tape stuck together, with the music recorded later. It creates a refined, somewhat unsettling atmosphere and sometimes just a beautiful atmosphere in the longest and final piece. It’s always good to hear Serries doing this kind of music occasionally. I understand his heart might be somewhere else, but I assume he also wants to unwind after a hard day of improvising and do what he does very well. A true beauty. (FdW)
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Out on Relative Pitch Record is a release by Frode Gjerstad and Matthew Shipp. Gjerstad has been playing music since the sixties. First on trumpet, but he switched to tenor sax. Here, he plays the alto sax and B flat clarinet. Shipp was born in 1960 and has performed since the mid-eighties. Both have a name in the global improvisation scene. Gjerstad has played with the late Peter Brötzmann, Han Bennink, John Edwards, John Butcher & Derek Bailey, to name a few. Shipp has played in the David S. Ware quartet Roscoe Mitchell’s Note Factory and has released records on Henry Rollins’ 213 imprint. The music was recorded at Brooklyn West Studios. The baby grand Shipp plays on has a full sound, and Shipp plays beautifully, sometimes with full chords and hints of melodies, hauntingly on ‘on conspiracies’ and makes it sound as if it’s all precomposed. In contrast, we hear Gjerstad weave squeals, melodic lines and interjections into the mix. At first, I thought this was quite a mismatch. But after a few listens, I changed my mind. It works really well. This is not cocktail jazz but a cross between classical music because of how Shipp plays and Gjerstad reacts and vice versa. Nice one! (MDS)
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DARIO CALDERONE – ISOLARIO (CD by Moving Furniture Records)

Released last year on Calderone’s own Bandcamp and now available in physical form, vinyl to be exact, this release has something for everyone. World music, or I should say Orient-oriented music because of the oriental instruments and scales used in most pieces, cinematic soundscapes, subtle and intelligent drumming, vocalizing, extended techniques on double bass & bass clarinet, electric guitar and more. Well, Andy Moor on electric guitar. Eight duets from a cycle of nine. The complete list of musicians is Dario Calderone: double bass & composition. Tomas Järmir: drums (on track 1), Neva Özgen: kemençe (on track 2), Barbara Ellison: electronics (on track 3), Andy Moor: electric guitar (on track 4), Kiya Tabassian: setar (on track 5), Gareth Davis: bass clarinet and electronics (on track 6), Deborah Walker: cello (on track 7) & Batir Dosimbetov: nay and electronics (on track 8). The basis for the compositions are quotes from several medieval writers from the Arab and Persian world. Next are Dario’s commentaries on these quotes and instructions for the performers to get into the right mindset for that particular piece. Last but not least, images of the imaginary islands can be read as a graphic score. You can download the complete score on Calderone’s site: The result is a beautiful, mesmerizing, auditive journey, which can be enjoyed without knowing the background of the compositions. In other words, an excellent release! (MDS)
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This is the Hein Westgaard Trio’s short and charming debut release. Two Norwegians and one Dane (the drummer) make up this trio. Hein Westgaard guitar, Petter Asbjørnsen double bass and Simon Forchhammer. The trio can play tight as f*ck and loose if they want to, with irregular rhythms thrown in for fun. The shortest piece is under one minute, and the longest is the last: ‘Whatever Happened To The Giant Hovercraft Sr-N4’? Interesting story that. Look it up on Wikipedia. This is Manonfriendly music, full of angular melodies, hooks, and slow ballads in an idiom covering almost everything. ‘Swineherd Agitator’ has a riff reminiscent of Indian music and is significantly louder than the rest of the album—an infectious piece of music. If you can catch them live, please do; I think hearing this live adds another dimension. (MDS)
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This is the second release from vocalist Theo Bleckmann and electronic musician and producer Joseph Branciforte. The first was, unsurprisingly, called ‘LP1’ and not reviewed in Vital Weekly. It was also the first release by the Greyfade label, who are now, with this release, six releases into their catalogue, with a solid visual identity. Bleckmann is not a traditional vocalist, singing without words, more humming along with the extended electronic glitches, scratches and drones from Branciforte. Mood and texture are the words here. Most of the time, it is somewhere between very abstract but with a sense of organisation. Elements return within a piece, be it the humming by Bleckmann or repeating musical elements by Branciforte. Maybe this is when the music becomes more song-like and no longer the more immense, abstract soundscape. I am not always enamoured by Bleckmann’s voice, which I find sometimes ambient (excellent), but if he bends his ‘ah’ and ‘oh’ a bit too much, it also becomes a bit tacky. This happens, for instance, in ‘11.15’ – all tracks have numbers which may not relate to the actual length of the piece. I don’t know what Branciforte uses, a laptop, modular electronics or a combination; there are also a bit of acoustic sounds, even harder to identify (in ‘8.11’ for instance). At times, his clicks and cuts reminded me of some old-school laptop music, but Branciforte expanded on the old themes with additional field recordings and acoustic sounds. When the vocals are genuinely abstract, the overall music works best, and luckily, that is most of the time. Music for everybody who is interested in ambient music, with a touch of modern classical music, a bit of new age and a touch of esoterism. (FdW)
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A.MAIAH & MATA – RE:ACT (CDR by Ramble Records)

With someone playing the electric guitar and the other drums, calling your release ‘Re:act’, you know we are in the world of improvised music. Yet, for this kind of music, it is not common to record the two improvisers in two different places, and if I understood correctly, this is the case on this CD. Asier Maiah recorded the electric guitar in Vitoria-Gateeiz (Basque Country), and Pabl Mata his drums and electronics in Oviedo (Spain). Since I am not part of the improvised music world, I don’t know if being together makes things easier when improvising or not. Playing the seven pieces on this release doesn’t answer me, either. I can imagine it is easier because one can familiarise oneself with the material before recording a reaction to it. Again, maybe these two musicians didn’t do this. As much as I know something about improvised music, I know these two players have a fairly traditional approach; both instruments are easily recognized. The music combines a more rocky approach and (free-) jazzy-style figures. Especially Maiah does that on his guitar. The electronics provide that necessary bit of extra flavour. The music is not loud but certainly has quite a presence, especially when Maiah plays around with feedback, such as in ‘Borderlands’, or, in various pieces, a furious outburst or two. At times, it’s a bit too improvised for me, and maybe in that respect a bit too traditional in approach, but some fine bits are happening in the thirty-six minutes of this album. (FdW)
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There was a time when musicians liked to send in their most obscure work without any information, hoping I’d type something and they could correct me online big time. I am sure that is not the case with Daniel, but his (?) release is relatively obscure, too. No last name, unless it is Daniel, no way of contacting him, no Bandcamp. His name is on the cover, the title, titles for each of the eighteen pieces, and the mention of “recorded on outings and sound walks in France and Spain, summer-autumn 2021”. The CDR came from New Zealand—eighteen pieces in twenty-seven minutes and twenty-seven seconds. The longest is almost for minutes, but the majority is between one and two minutes. The titles are indications as the locations, San Isidro Park, El Rio Segura, Mar Menor, Playa La Llana and so on, and usually followed by a more specific site, church, tomb, biking, twilight, lapping, waves, or night drizzle. It is unclear if Daniel used any processing here, editing, or layering or if these are found in situ. As there is a slightly musical edge to some of these pieces, a melodic touch if you will, I think Daniel has some hand in manipulating the field recordings, with a bit of crackle and hiss here and there. There is a quiet approach here, in good microsound tradition, a rural aspect, with very little human interference being captured with these microphones. It’s a pity that some of these are so brief, as I wouldn’t mind hearing a bit more of it all. If you start the manipulation, why not extend it some more? It also says on the cover that this is an edition of 10 copies, of which I have number 2. How and where the others can be purchased remains a mystery, and that is the sad end of this review; people should hear this little travelogue in sound. (FdW)
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THE LONELY BELL – THE OUTER BANKS (cassette by Frosti)

Ali Murray, also (better) known as The Lonely Bell, returns with a new cassette release and (spoiler alert) a rather all too short one. I appreciated his previous releases (Vital Weekly 13991384, and 1370) with rather lengthy, spacious, dark ambient music. His music needs a considerable length to develop and unfold, not rushing things too much slowly. The Lonely Bell works with heavily processed field recordings, and I assume the two pieces on this cassette are no different. ‘Fires Of Dawn’ is a more continuous piece, slowly building and never getting out of hand but with a bit of a rushed ending; indeed, it is a piece that could benefit from some more space and let die in a more natural vein. ‘The Outer Banks’, on the other side, is even a minute shorter and may start similarly, slow-building, adding light to the music, but after some five minutes, the music starts on a disappearing act, taking up about the remaining three or so minutes and the ship sails past the horizon. Here, too, something that, as far as I’m concerned, should have been twice the length, and it would still have been great, but alas, it is not. It’s excellent, yes, but also way too short. (FdW)
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AETHER (CD by Over Dub Recordings)

If you choose a rather bland name, the music might also be bland. Aether is a four-piece band from Italy, with someone on the Fender Rhodes, a Chapman Stick player, a drummer and a guitar. Itunes opens with the wrong band name, The Aether, and labels the music ‘rock’. Maybe it is rock, but it’s also jazz. Smooth rock, smooth jazz, a bit progressive rock maybe, well-accomplished players, and the music they create is so far away from what we usually write about; I don’t know where to start. Or end or care at all. I wonder who told them: your music would fit the pages of Vital Weekly really well; they absolutely care for music like this. To that reader and Aether: we don’t. (FdW)
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