Number 1406

MARKET – LAVA TROUBLE (CD by Artsy Records) *
AKIRA UCHIDAA – KURAYAMI (CD and book by Iikki Books) *
DDK – A RIGHT TO SILENCE (3CD by Ftarri) *
JOS SMOLDERS, GUIDO NIJS & KOEN DELAERE  (LP by Moving Furniture Records) *
BLANC SCEOL – FOLLOW WITH YOUR EARS (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation) *
MONDAY W. – THE DIRT (cassette + photos + riso print poster by esc.rec) *


You never heard of Statische Musen? Me neither, but see it as an anagram (wait for it, think about it), and then it will read Asmus Tietchens. It’s not the first time Asmus has used an anagram for a side project, as there was the Hematic Sunsets project, which he ended some time ago. The new project is not along the lines of Hematic Sunsets but more along the work he carries under his own name, but with a difference. The music is more ambient here, with more transparent sound, complex layers, and a bit of what is probably not a synthesizer but an abundance of sound effects. Maybe also ingredients you’ll find in his regular music, but over there, it is usually very sparse and here, well, it’s not sparse at all. Each of these pieces is a slow burner with slow development. Musc you start playing, which you ignore or enjoy – just as Brian Eno once proclaimed ambient music should be. As such, Tietchens succeeds very well. I was working on my boring accounts stuff because a new quarter started, and I had this CD on repeat all along. I may not have always discovered new things in there, but I found this music the perfect backdrop to an otherwise tedious chore. It is an interesting new development for Tietchens. Of course, I have no idea if this is a temporary thing or if this is something he intends to develop a lot, but time will tell. So far, I am enjoying this a lot, and I would love to see further developments. (FdW)
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MARKET – LAVA TROUBLE (CD by Artsy Records)

Tom Lönnqvist and Samuli Tanner are Market, and they have been working as such since 2013. I had not heard from either, at least not much, despite having solo releases on Fonal, Ikuisuus, Sähkö and Mille Plateaux. They both take credit for ‘electronic system’ and Tanner also for ‘other system’, which is a deliberately vague concept, I’d say. Perhaps it is safe to say both use some kind of modular synthesiser setup. The music moves between being freely improvised throughout this one piece, which is forty-one minutes long. Still, because it is all electronic, there is also an electro-acoustic/musique concrète element in the piece here. For something described as “a leisurely meeting of two friends in the countryside”, this album has some mean and raw edges. I wouldn’t call this noisy, but it’s not a quiet picnic. There are some fine moments in this music, especially when they hit upon something that we could call ‘organised sound’, and when the album turns into a more random/chaotic approach, let’s call that the more improvised edge of the music, I wasn’t as much interested. When that happens, I find the music rather uninspired, and it’s just two people turning knobs – something that happens to more people who deal with modular electronics. I’d rather see duos like Market record a ton of material, weed out all the bits that are too mundane, and edit the best moment in a great release. That’s only part of ‘Lava Trouble’, but the signs are good. (FdW)
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Oddly enough, I conclude that I may not have reviewed any release from Malte Steiner’s Notstandskomitee. That struck me as very odd, as it is a name I have known for a long time, and I was convinced I had reviewed something. Maybe I did, and my archival skills are below par. Originally Steiner was from Hamburg, but he is now based in Denmark. Since 1991, he has worked as Notstandskomitee but also under the banner of Das Kombinat. Rhythm plays an essential role in his music, and Steiner uses his software and hardware instruments. Some of the software is of his own making, and there is an interest in finding “alternative ways of sequencing and controlling sound, i.e. with stochastic algorithms and neuronal networks”. I am unsure what that entails, but the resulting music is an exciting mixture of industrial beats, chaotic techno patterns, a bit of breakbeat and IDM; basically, any sort of dance music that doesn’t produce all too regular beat material and Steiner adds to that some darker and atmospheric synthesizer sounds, to add the dystopian feel of the music. Music for a post-apocalypse dance, perhaps, or for tormented dancers. I like the music best when it has a more controlled feeling, such as in ‘Planning The Unplannable’, and a bit less when there is a hectic approach and beats stumbling and falling about – but then, I was never a big fan of breakbeats either. One thing I was less charmed with (also?) is the album’s length. Sixteen tracks, seventy-four minutes, is quite a long stretch. There is some fatigue on this listener’s ears, as there were certain similar approaches to be noted in some of these tracks. An album that was fifty minutes and ten carefully selected pieces would have probably made a stronger album. The last track, ‘Big Dreams In Small Cities’, is a surprisingly lighter tune, almost pop music, and maybe as to say: take this darkness lightly, there is an end to it. (FdW)
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With some regularity, we receive new releases by Keith Berry, who produces a series of works called ‘Variable System’, now presenting the sixth volume. His “main interest is in generative music systems, simple rules that can create complex music, the process being just as interesting as the product”. I believe I reviewed the previous ones, the last being Vital Weekly 1361, and it’s not easy to find new words describing what he does. Berry’s music is ambient and pleasant to hear, as there is not much darkness here. Atmospheric it is, and it’s never even close to new-age music, which is good. Unlike some of Brian Eno’s more generative music, Berry’s music is more varied throughout the album and in his use of sounds, perhaps oddly making his music less generative. That is something that I enjoy. Before I wrote about Berry’s work, it would be nice to see if his music would also work as an app on one’s phone, and I would still like to test that. But for now, this new work also works quite well as a standalone release, with musical pieces to enjoy from start to finish. Berry uses quite a bit of orchestral sounds, and ethnic percussion, loops these around, and adds a melodic context to these sources. Dreamy, uptempo (well, relatively, of course, as Berry doesn’t produce dance music), spacious and atmospheric, it is all delightful music. Much like the Statische Musen mentioned elsewhere, this is the perfect soundtrack to do while doing chores that you don’t like. It will bring joy to one’s day. (FdW)
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AKIRA UCHIDAA – KURAYAMI (CD and book by Iikki Books)

Usually, when I receive a new release by Ikki Books, I play the CD a few times and by the time I need to pen a review, I study the photobook closer. This time, I inspected the photobook before removing the plastic around the CD. The collaboration here is from Japan. The photographer is Yamamoto Masao, who started at the age of 16 and later also studied painting. In 1994, he had his first gallery show in New York and 2006 in Europe. His photos are mostly of nature, trees, lakes, and such, usually minimal, with great calmness. The silver paint he uses in his other work returns here, adding a refined layer to these images. Many of these images are from nighttime surroundings and look beautiful. But as a non-trained no photo expert, that’s about as much as I can say.
    The musical side is by Akira Uchida, who worked for many years as a saxophone player and in 2007, he learned piano tuning; in 2015, he added the creation of a clavichord, invented in the 14th century. These instruments are also on the music here. There are two sides, of about twenty minutes each (there is also an LP version), and it’s a pretty strange record. It seems Uchida likes to use sounds that do not easily fit together. In the opening minutes, for instance, we hear some rainy field recordings, monks chanting, a string instrument, and then suddenly, nine minutes in, a saxophone. Some hefty amount of reverb holds all of this together. This sort of random approach is throughout this album, and while it doesn’t always work very well, the music remains quite atmospheric. There are different pieces per side, tracks if you want, and that adds variation to the music. The voice part, what sounds like monks chanting, is not something I particularly like; it’s not my thing. It reminded me of that sex scene from ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, and while I like it as music in that movie, here it’s something of a cliche. It is an album with some flaws but left a positive impression overall. (FdW)
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Weeeeird… I have heard of the Rural Isolation Project label from Austin, Texas. I got some Knurl, Torturing Nurse and, of course, the En Nihil / No Visitors split. And there are a lot of familiar names on their roster that light up my face (John Duncan/ Black Leather Jesus, K2, Astro, JSH and Government Alpha, just to mention a few names). But “Megalithic Weather Corporation‎” by Steve Marsh contains music that comes close to none of what you could expect reading those names.
    With a piano as the sole sound source, “Megalithic Weather Corporation” is as noisy as it gets without sounding anything like noise. There are no distortions over-compressed signals, just recordings that are properly mixed and produced into an experimental collection of tracks. And not even ridiculously played angry hammering noise. However, more the subtle sounds where the piano as such is still recognizable but with reverbs, delays and other effects, the directness of ‘playing a piano piece’ is changed into ‘working with the piano as sound source’. But as Steve is a gifted musician, he knows about tonal possibilities and which notes to combine or not combine. And sure, there are more ways to get sounds from. A piano (direct manipulation of the strings, using the body as a Cajon) and those sounds also have their place here (“Bon Bon Fabrika”). Still, most of it is recognizable as piano.
    On his website, this release is promoted as dark ambient, which I don’t think covers the result. Sure, it’s dark and brooding, but this has nothing to do with ambient. Several tracks are very rhythmic, like the threatening “Fata Morgana”. Others resemble a little bit of the piano use of Nick Cave around the time of “Your Funeral, My Trial” (another happy, feel-good classic), like “Exit Strategy”. Towards the end, however (“Grand Guignol”, “Hard Targets”, and “Invisible Zoo”), the album gets more and more into dark ambient regions. And with a total of almost 30 minutes for those three tracks … It’s more like an album with two faces, or no, even three: The experimental noisy side, the improvisational yet tonal side and indeed a dark ambient side. Not bad at all, but maybe a bit too diverse to put it all on the same album. (BW)
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Behind the acronym DDK, we find a trio of musicians: Jacques Demierre (piano), Axel Dörner (trumpet) and Jonas Köcher (accordion). In 2021, they performed for a week at the Theatre Le Colombier in Les Cabannes, France, and everything was recorded. Each of the musicians made a selection of what he thinks are the best pieces, or, perhaps, that reflects the trio’s intentions, and thus, each CD is the choice of one player. From the somewhat convoluted liner notes, I understand the trio sets a time frame before playing: 3 minutes, 52 minutes, and then they play for that time. The text also mentions a risk that one track gets picked twice. I admit I didn’t hear any doubles. However, this trio is interested in playing quiet music in which not always something happens. There are a few notes here and there, with the accordion and the piano being the most recognizable instruments and the trumpet not constantly. I think all three players use extended techniques to extract sounds from their instruments, Dörner perhaps a bit more than Demierre and Köcher. This trio expands a bit more on a few occasions, and it all shifts into a different gear. A bit more hectic, a bit more dissonant, to avoid the term noisy makes for a fine counterpoint in the music. I know there is no need to play these three CDs in one go, but such is the mundane reality of the life of a reviewer; sometimes, it can’t be avoided to do so. I wonder what would happen if I would rip all these CDs and put them in a player and have them brought to me randomized; would that change my appreciation for the individual discs, or would I recognize one track as a typical choice from Demierre or Dörner? I doubt that. Three times forty-plus minutes of carefully constructed are quite a sit-through and require a lot of concentration, but it is pretty rewarding in the end. (FdW)
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In Vital Weekly 1397, I reviewed a CD by Dirk Serries, Benedict Taylor and Friso van Wijck they released on the Portuguese label Creative Sources Recordings. Now, the Portuguese entered Serries’ label New Wave Of Jazz. The improvised music scene is small but very busy. A trio consisting of Carlos “Zingaro” on violin, Guilherme Rodrigues on cello and José Oliveira on percussion. They played on July 30, 2021, in Lisbon and for the title, they took inspiration from Kurt Schwitters. I think there isn’t a data element in the music. The piece on this CD spans thirty-two minutes, and I don’t know if this recording covers all that was played that night or if there was some editing. I can’t tell from hearing the music. Their approach is pretty traditional in that the three instruments are instantly recognisable as such. They reach for the small sounds, but the louder ones are more in favour. The recording is a direct one, without any colouring, a straightforward one, as if we are very close to the players and hear every detail; almost every detail is perhaps better said. There is fresh chaos, but that’s not the goal of the music. I believe it is all about the interaction between the players, and there is a lot of that. There is a short break in the middle, and after that, the music seems a bit more organised and orchestral—quite a blast.
    The other is a two-night registration at Stamford Brook in London in April and May 2019. The first night had Tom Jackson (clarinet), Benedict Taylor (viola) and Daniel Thompson (acoustic guitar), and a month later, the same three welcomed Neil Metcalfe, who plays the flute. This, too, is from the world of hardcore improvising and certainly doesn’t qualify as easy-listening music. Nervous most of the time and chaotic, but there is also something intimate about this music, perhaps more on the quartet disc than the trio one, and I realise that may sound odd. You could assume more people equals more sound, but not on this one. While the instruments are easily recognised, and no other techniques are used (it seems), there is, at the same time, some very free playing going on. Superficially of the kind in such a way that people approach modern painting, ‘my kid can do this too’, and, usually, they are wrong. Here, too, I think there is some pretty intense interaction going on between the three/four. Much like the DDK release, reviewed elsewhere, this music requires a lot of attention and concentration, and that, too, means playing both discs in a row is quite a stretch. For the more limited interest in improvised music, and I regard myself as such, this is beautiful stuff, but at the same, I admit that these two and the DDK one are enough for me from the musical area for this week. (FdW)
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Puna is the first release of this power trio (electric guitar, double bass and drums/percussion). Power trio not in the classic rock trio’s sense but in the powerful music the trio concoct here. Olaf Rupp has been featured a few times on Vital Weekly. The last time was with a duo record with Rudi Fisherlehner. It’s a delightful record to get lost in. On this record, Meinrad Kneer, on double bass, joins them. He has a label cofounded with pianist Albert van Veenendaal called Evil Rabbit Records, which is worth checking out. Puna has several meanings: mountain sickness in America Spanish, a high cold, a dry plateau in mostly the Andes (possibly related to the first meaning?), and in pidgin English, puna means vagina. To me, the record sounds like the musical equivalent of mountain sickness. And to me, that’s a positive thing. Rickety rhythms that change instantly, overtones in both electric guitar and double bass, interjected with more serene moments. At other times, a grooving line in the double bass (Puna 3 around the 5-minute mark) with subtle percussive counter accents, not quite syncopations, more like polyrhythm, with slow-moving mysterious block sounds of guitar end in a disjointed groove in drums, well ethnic percussion and bass drum I should say. It’s delicate and inspiring. This is a damn fine release! It’s well worth putting on repeat because a lot is happening. Kudos to Fischerlehner and Rupp, who did the mixing and mastering, respectively. It sounds crisp and clear, and every small detail is easily discernible. No small feat with the music presented here. (MDS)
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Ignaz Schick is a Berlin-based artist with activities in the visual arts as a composer and musician. His main musical instrument here is turntables and samplers, so that you might think of Christian Marclay as a first point of call. But Schick’s music is different in many ways, with less chaos and noise and more structures that do not necessarily imply using turntables – there could also be samples or live instruments. He also plays reeds as his main instrument, apart from using samplers and ‘objects’ instead of vinyl re-play. He has many collaborations, including Martin Tetreault, Charlemagne Palestine, Don Cherry, and Keith Rowe, to name a few, across the broad area of jazz, free and ‘new’ music, and somewhat broken beats.
    On ILOG3 (which continues a series of ILOG and ILOG 2, you guessed it), he teams up with drummer Oliver Steidel, who has a history of jazz drumming. The music is labelled as free improvisation. Nevertheless, it gives a rather ‘breakbeat’ feel of relentless drumming at high speed, focusing more on a continuous rhythm than on free jazz spirit. You could also think of something between a thrash metal and hard rock drummer (think of an everlasting Ian Paice solo) and drum’n’bass. The music layers on top of the rhythm in a relatively ‘harmonic’ way, giving impressions of breakbeat structures. This changes as the release progresses, though. As we arrive at tracks 4 & 5 (‘Curved Sunrise’ and ‘Broken Melancholia’), more industrial notes take over, making the sounds more abstract. You begin to think this drumming is inhuman – maybe the drum track was sped up slightly? If not, I tip my hat to the percussionist. ‘Blurred Positive’ even halves the speed, while ‘Hindsight Bias’ leaves out the percussion and gives us a moody synth-like phase-out. This is really an experience – a new take at free jazz improvisation or free music, as you would call it, and excellent drumming. Available both as an LP and a CD release.
    ‘Now is forever’ is completely different. As a double CD set, it consists of longer pieces. Interestingly (unless my audio is broken), although there is no vinyl version here, the tracks all crackle and pop along as if playing a slightly aged record. Which I believe Schick is doing here. Ewart is an Jamaican-USAmerican saxophonist and reed player from the field of free jazz and free music. The two build long improvised soundscapes here that are vastly slowed down compared to ILOG. They are even built a bit like a free music ‘opera’, with lots of things going on at various levels, synclavier and saxophone bouncing phrases to and fro, a voice cutting in, the constant crackle that by now has moved to the back of your head, and several other sound sources placed here and there. As the first piece, Cut of the Universe, progresses over 20 minutes, we find several developments of free jazz breakouts, alternating with moody, atmospheric stretches, sometimes adding percussion, though this is little prominent here. Disc 1 continues with similar pieces, remaining very atmospheric, ‘The Nature of Things’ adding an extended narrative – which fits beautifully into the setting, later adopting freer saxophone bits. And the crackle…. ‘False Affluence Pt. I’ is again reticent initially, adding a saxophone ‘solo’ (if you like) further down. But based on a very restrained backing. And the crackle…
    Disc 2 brings us two extended tracks. And no crackle. In some way, they are even moodier than the first disc, but somewhat not quite so interesting, I found. They use the same elements but stretch them out longer with less diversity—nevertheless, a beautiful release with expert sound elements.
    ‘Hawking Extended’  is a CD-only release that brings in Ernst Bier (drummer) and Gunnar Geisse (guitarist) as co-musicians, again both with an extended free jazz background. All pieces ‘somehow’ relate to Steven Hawking’s work – but maybe only in name, as they all refer to something cosmological in their titles. Hawking is the duo of Schick and Bier, so Hawking Extended is literally the addition of Munich-based Geisse—lots of play of words. In contrast to the other two releases, we find a more free jazz approach to things, though a bit different. Schick plays a lot of saxophone, whilst Bier uses little guitar and more laptop instruments. There is an addition of voice on the opening track, though not very stringently used. ‘Flat Earth’, apart from that, is a mixture of Keith Tippett-esque keyboards, free saxophone and sparsely set percussion (including a xylophone). ‘Universe in a nutshell’ lends a little more prominence to the percussion and lets the other instruments explore all kinds of unusual sounds, so the piece attains an electro-experimental mood combined with very restrained guitar work. ‘The Large Scale’ starts surprisingly moody, with a synthesizer growl foundation and a few sprinkles of sax and percussion. But it then develops into more of a free jazz spirit as percussion and sax pick up the pace. We then move into ‘Music with the letter X’ and ‘No Boundary Proposal’, which have a slower tempo, mainly contrasting the saxophone with a range of obscure percussive and noodling sounds, then surprising with some Weather Report-ish moves. A synth sound and some short melody lines. ‘Neither Picture nor Frame’, the sixth track, remains faithful to the free music approach, adding more parallel lines (overdubbed?) than in the previous tracks. But indeed, it is a free jazz racket from the rule book. The final four pieces (which would have been a lovely Side B on vinyl) start with two quieter pieces based on long drawn sounds and pensive saxophone lines. ‘Laws of Form’ adds more free parts again to blend into ‘System of Units’ that bends the line of progression back to the free jazz approach of early Jan Garbarek.
    As a threesome, these releases offer a surprising variety, mirroring the multiple talents of Ignaz Schick. They also give an insight into where new music might be going today, embracing more styles and making the best use of electronic and acoustic options whilst keeping the idea of free improvisation alive with relentless energy. (RSW)
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One of the great things about living in a tiny space is that collecting anything isn’t possible. Had I kept everything, I would now have a museum, and, undoubtedly, also a nice thing, I prefer to keep things ‘tidy’ (apart from collecting dust). There are very few musicians and groups I own a lot; Illusion Of Safety, Asmus Tietchens, Organum, and Idea Fire Company are the ones that spring to mind. The company has been around for thirty-five years and was always off the beaten track, never fitting in with one musical genre or another. You can find a lot in their music, from industrial rhythms to more classical music approaches and minimalism. I am a big fan, duh, owning almost if not all of their records, and as such, I am not the best person to review their music, perhaps. This new record has the core duo of Karla Borecky and Scott Foust on all four pieces, plus two pieces with long-term members Timothy Shortell and Matt Krefting. Everybody gets credit for synthesizer, and Borecky also plays keyboards on three of the four pieces. The B-side is one long track, ‘The End Of The Line’, of which alternative versions appeared on cassette (see Vital Weekly 1152). This limitation of equipment has implications for the music. Minimalism was always something that was of great importance to the Idea Fire Company, and this record is no different. The record’s title may refer to how the music is recorded, and at the same time, a play at home studios, sounding like bathrooms, but in this case, it is a badge of honour. There is nothing fancy about the music, nothing high-tech, sequenced, or using lots of overdubs. The way the music is as it is picked up in their private studio, with the sound mildly humming about, becoming more tactile as drones gently pierce their way through the air. Borecky adds a melodic touch with simple yet very effective keyboard lines, which aren’t perfect (another thing: not editing the music until perfection is reached), and in which Foust delicate moves his drones through delay panels. Amplification does the rest, which is most tangible in ‘Boulevard Of Dreams’, very close to feedback, and in the density of ‘High Test’. ‘Addicts’ seems to have a human voice, but maybe not. The prize winner is the long B-side, which is minimal, light, melodic and spacious. Onwards to the next thirty-five years!(FdW)
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‘Sol In Solus’ is already the fourth release by Belgium’s Orphan S.C. Wallace, also known as The Orphanage Committee. He writes, “The committee in itself can be seen as a singular abstract entity, while its different faces show themselves in their different aspects of music or variety of genre they create, ” which may account for the slightly varying approaches in sound. The title means The Sun Alone, a concept album “about nature and self-reflexion”. Ten parts spread over two sides of the record, each flowing into the next. Instruments aren’t mentioned, but if I have to guess, I’d say there is an abundance of sampling going on, and many of these are samples from real instruments. Lots of percussion, keyboards, strings and such, and the result is again a diversification from his earlier work. The music is atmospheric again but in a slightly more orchestral sense of the word. The Orphanage Committee isn’t using big-time-sustaining sounds but melodic sampled electronics. One name that sprang to mind was Fetish Park, but I forget which CD of theirs. The whole thing has an air of modern classical music but an artificial version. I admit not seeing the relation with nature easily here, or, come to think of it, self-reflection. Only when he mixes some field recordings do things become more nature-based, obviously with these forest sounds. It is all quite pleasant to hear, maybe too lovely and light at times; perhaps I love a bit of darkness, a bit too much, and there isn’t always that much of it here. Having said that, there is enough to enjoy here, as each of the ten sections works very well as part of a whole, and there is some excellent variation in the music here. Another record by The Orphanage Committee, another variation in approaches, another winner. (FdW)
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JOS SMOLDERS, GUIDO NIJS & KOEN DELAERE  (LP by Moving Furniture Records)

Moving Furniture is not stopping; if they’re not moving furniture, they’re releasing albums. Last week, it was Coen Oscar Polack, and this week, another one by Jos Smolders (electronics) and Guido Nijs (sax). They worked on this album in many exploratory jam sessions/improv sessions for quite some time, slowly directing the experiments towards what would become these compositions. The initial thoughts were to influence each other into exploring unchartered territory and explore their own musical horizons by collaborating. Where they DID find each other was the admiration of Delaere’s work, which guided them as inspirational sources into the sonic canvases now available on vinyl.
    Jos’ work is often reviewed here, so he doesn’t need an actual introduction. I’ll stick to mentioning THU20, his solo works, and him being the guy of EarLabs, mastering new releases and restoring old ones. Guido studied saxophone; since 1999, he has done everything possible with that sax. So now it’s time for him to dive further into the experimental electronics. And having Jos as a colleague to start things is about as good as it gets. No turning back now. As for Koen’s painting, I advise you to Google and get a feeling for his work. I merely review music and don’t want to say anything wrong. From what I’ve found, I am very much impressed. But as I said, that’s just a personal thing.
    The album is simply called “Smolders / Nijs / Delaere”, five tracks, 33 minutes. Perfect for vinyl because with 16/17 minutes per side, there is more than enough vinyl to capture all extreme frequencies. Basses need to breathe. Side A opens with “Aureolin”, which has a lot of crackling goodness. When the sax plays for the first time, it’s almost like an extra oscillator being added to the synth patch after it becomes more improv, yet resulting in Jos taking grains from the sounds and turning them into something magical. “Barium” is built from field recordings and arpeggiators, and somehow, the sax work in this track reminded me of Bowie’s use of the instrument in his Berlin era. The first side closes with “Diarylide”, featuring bass and guitar from Eric van der Westen and Aron Raams. The composition has two parts: it starts ambient dronish and ends almost jazzy.
    The reverse side has two tracks, of which the first one is titled “Bianco di Titanio”. It gave me a bit of a Pink Floyd / ‘On the Run’ feeling, but I couldn’t really place the result in combination with the sax. I probably have to hear it more often. The final track, “Indigofera Suffruticosa”, is an 8-minute exercise in minimalism. Both composers are very active in the sound field, yet for an average listener, not much will happen. But this track may reflect the most on Delaere’s work for me, probably because it’s not the objects that are put on a pedestal but the negative space that generates objects. (BW)
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BLANC SCEOL – FOLLOW WITH YOUR EARS (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)

Ah, we return to text and voice from the unknown duo Blanc Sceol. Responsible for that is Hannah White, while Stephen Shiell is responsible for Field recordings, Amplified objects, Waterphone, and Tocante. On this CDR, there are three pieces of improvised music. Shiell is all over the place with his instruments: a bang here, a small clap there, and a bit of reverse reverb. It all sounds fine, but the dreamy voice of White, not singing words but humming textured sounds, is not something I particularly like. This happens in the first track, ‘Buzz Hum’. In ‘Thieves Market’, the most extended piece, clocking in at nineteen minutes, field recordings of a market in Lisbon play an important role. The two musicians play on the instruments for sale on this market. There is also some of that humming here, but embedded in a sort of sound travelogue, it all makes more sense. Accidental sounds, combined with the instrumental sounds, the bells and pots, and the people walking about on this market, make this a lovely piece. It is rather intimate, small music and quite delicate to hear. The last track, ‘Sound Seed’, is, at five minutes, the shortest, and also has that outdoor action feeling, except here, too, the action is kept relatively small. Just a voice, making single, repeated sounds, the word ‘sound’, and small action as things are outside in the field – the rustling of grass and leaves. Save for the first piece that didn’t blow me away, and this was a pretty exciting release. (FdW)
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MONDAY W. – THE DIRT (cassette + photos + riso print poster by esc.rec)

Ah, some percussive guitar playing. Do I hear some Frippertronics there? A demo for an Explosions in the Sky intro, maybe? Wait a second, there are 65 of their ditties, snapshots, and musical guitar Polaroids, one might say. 65!
    It shouldn’t really be a surprise esc. rec from Deventer not only delivers musical goods on a very frequent basis and with stellar results, but the label also excels in physical niceness, often with neat packaging, original hand-printed designs, et cetera. And with clever artistic concepts, too.
    Hidde van Schie = Monday W or vice versa, whatever you like. He has made the 65 short-form pieces collected under the title The Dirt. Basically, five albums of 13 tracks featuring only electric guitar: a “documentation of a series of spontaneous experiments with texture and composition.”
    Pure, simple, pretty fragile and remember the catalogue charts of colours Gerhard Richter made? Well, in all variations, there’s undoubtedly coherence in an unbalanced equilibrium between colour and texture, effect loop and clean signal, and analogue recording and digital processing.
    There’s a searching, unsteady quality to these tunes – an uncertainness, in a way – trying hard not to be fixed or fixated. Yet the digital versions, the five albums, are indeed manifested, set in stones of ones and zeros. Maybe that’s why Van Schie also made a physical edition consisting of 50 unique(!) cassettes with improvisations recorded directly on tape, an edition of 6 small photos, a poster with accompanying text and a download code for the five albums. And the tape is an altogether different proposition, for this a one-on-one encounter per se. Here, the connection between the recording artist and listener is as immediate and short-circuited as one basically gets, short of a private live concert.
    Van Schie shares two poignant memories on the spectacular riso-printed poster. Both inform a potential context for the music. Or you can instantly try and forget about these. Let the mind wander in magical wonder. Of sounds heard and music unheard. Or good news and bad. Thoughts floating on their own wavelengths or concentrated layerings of the drone. Of expansion and contraction. Tales of a garbage heap of colour, low vibrating frequencies, and shrill echoes. Complex, frail, intense and movingly up-close and personal, The Dirt monumentalises something like a literary form that might be called ‘an empty plot’ in the most poetic of ways. (SSK)
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We have two new releases by Canada’s Jocelyn Robert, both on a custom-made USB drive. The first is a collaborative work with Christophe Harvard, of whom I had not heard before. The title refers to the city on the west coast of France. Here, the two worked in a church, considering the building the instrument to work with. The organ is on the floor, behind the altar in this church. Robert plays the organ, while Hardvard “explored the building for interesting resonances”. On the day of the performance, Harvard, equipped with two microphones, led the audience into the church. While Robert was playing, Harvard went to the places with interesting resonances, but in the process, he also picked up other sounds, his shuffling about, for instance. And then, the audience was led out of the building, and It was more of a tour around the building than a concert. There were six of these… performances… tours… visits? Take your pick, and the music here is a result of those six, all recorded, perhaps layered in some way, as the music has a specific density and weight. But, for all I know, this is a mix of the best fragments, but not in any way layered. It sounds exciting, with a particular random approach to the way Robert plays the organ, and the shuffling about, and the way that the music played him; mild changes to the atmospheric approach, but never leaving the piece, as, wherever you are in this space, the organ is present. There is beautiful mellow atmosphere here, a certain slowness that I like. I like the sound of the church organ a lot, so that is also important here. There is also a surround sound version on the drive, but I have no idea how to play that.
    The other new release is a solo work with four entirely different pieces. The opening piece is ‘Hugues’, an improvisation for voice and software, which I didn’t particularly enjoy. It is at almost fourteen minutes, a bit too much. ‘Fugue’ is the next one, the most extended piece. Here, he works with unrelated sounds and creates a collage of these. Much like the church organ piece, there is a pleasant randomness to this piece, in which nothing makes much sense but is fun to hear. People talking, bird sounds, airport sounds and whatever else is more difficult to decipher. The fourth piece is “Medieval organetto sounds and short wave recordings”, which has a strong presence and is mashed together; it has a nice and mildly distorted character. It has a gentle crudeness that I very much like and don’t always encounter in other work of his. I skipped the third deliberately in this review because the information says that this piece is a mix of the other three parts and is very much a cut-up collage in which it is hard to recognize any of the other three pieces. Sometimes, the cut-up is quite extreme, or how Robert applies his processing techniques. Here, too, Robert has quite a noisy approach. There are four entirely unrelated pieces of music, but it works well as a varied album. (FdW)
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There weren’t many recent releases from the Kasuga label, but they return with another SD card release (their format of choice) by Andreas Lutz, a follow-up (perhaps) to his ‘DYS’, reviewed in Vital Weekly 1240. This time, he doesn’t include software, just an MP3 version and a 16 and 24-bit version of the seven pieces. There is also a performance and installation by Lutz with the same name, and this is the soundtrack. I compared The previous release with Pan Sonic, but this one sees different kinds of music. It is still very much software-based music, but now he works on long-stretched sounds. I have no idea what went into the machine, and I couldn’t even hazard a guess here. Giving information such as “the original audio-visual sequences are based on a real-time interpolation through the trained models and depict the transformation into a machine-created semiotic system” doesn’t explain things; as I am proud to say, I am just not that clever. Nevertheless, I like what I hear. Massive, machine-like drones burst away, but never resulting in mind-dumbing noise music. At one point in time, a lot of people used the term ‘ambient industrial’, and that is certainly something that applies to this music. While I use the word drone-like, the music isn’t particularly slow or stasis-like. It is a constant trajectory, moving and changing, with some delicate urgency. Music that goes right into the neural system, drilling holes in your brain; psychedelic music, if you will, but not something I recommend playing under the influence of narcotics. This reminded me of Roland Kayn: music that moves around in cybernetic ways, events triggering events and such. Excellent release! (FdW)
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