Number 1415

MODELBAU – EXTRICATE (CD by Sublime Retreat) *
VIOLENT SHOGUN – PEACE (CD by Satatuhatta) *
BURNOUT – IMPAKT (CD by Satatuhatta) *
ARTHUR PETRONIO (LP by Metaphon) *
OPANDOLFO – PATTERNS (CDR by Sound In Silence) *
OPTIMUS PRIME NOISEFEST #5 (CDR by Vatican Analog) *
FOOD PEOPLE – LUMINOUS IMMEDIATE (cassette by Greater Lanarkshire Auricular Research Council) *
GREY PARK & SICK DAYS – WORK GOTHIC (cassette by Vacancy Records) *


As much as I try to ‘follow’ some musicians’ actions, I don’t always keep up. I am pretty sure I knew that Christoph Heemann (once of HNAS, Mimir, Mirror, but mostly of himself) had teamed up with Will Long (mostly of Celer fame, but also doing other ambient music projects, but also works with minimal dance music as Long Trax). From the small discography of Hollywood Dream Trip, I understand that they work together whenever Will Long is in Europe—three albums in 2013 and two (digital) ones in 2021. One of the three from 2013 is ‘Would You Like To Know More’, a line from the Paul Verhoeven movie ‘Starship Troopers’. They also recorded ‘Second Album’ in 2013 (no release is called ‘First Album’), which they released as a CDR in an edition of 50 copies for the tour they did that year—now finding its way to a broader audience and quite rightfully so. Armed with a Moog Rogue, Roland MC-202, Lexicon PCM90, Electro Harmonix Random Tone Generator and tapes, they set out to record this forty-two-minute piece of slow-moving drones. There seem to be some field recordings in this piece, but they are hard to find here. In the beginning, there is a slow bump, like a heartbeat during sleep, which slowly alters as the piece evolves and the sound opens up. Becoming a tad lighter and brighter, maybe the heartbeat is the same, but it feels different because of the changing synthesiser sounds. It’s not the kind of music I recommend when sleeping (in fact, I would never recommend any music during sleep, but that’s my occasional insomnia speaking), as the overall tone remains dark. Especially around the thirty-minute mark, things roughen and could create a nightmarish scenario. It’s not as relaxing as it could have been, which is good. This has all the markings of a live-in-the-studio recording, not trying to smooth things out too much. I enjoyed this work a lot, especially for that direct, in-your-face quality; nothing all too fancy, yet never anywhere close to being a full-on noise thing (far from it); just the sort of drone improvisation I love. (FdW)
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Last week, I went out of town to see 22 noise concerts in precisely four hours: the Optimus Prime Festival in Tilburg. It was all that I expected: a variety of approaches, some louder, some with rhythm and Oprhax at the end droning us to sleep. I readily admit the finer points of telling what kind of noise I heard, power electronics, harsh noise wall or whatever, eluded me as much as it does when I play the CD by Harmony Of Struggle. Following ‘Tearing Your Mind To Pieces’ (see Vital Weekly 1345), this is their (?) second album. According to Zoharum, and I have no reason to doubt this, they play power electronics. For title inspiration, they delve into “the phenomena and techniques of manipulation”, such as Jonestown, in ‘Having Fun While Drinking The Kool-Aid In Jonestown’; it’s not something I take all too seriously; whatever rocks your world, I think. The twelve pieces, close to an hour of music, are loud and dirty, with a lot of grinding noise and teeth. Harmony Of Struggle (preferably in capitals) uses vocals, not always to understand, but always to feel its brutality. As before, I have no idea what kind of instruments are used (judging from last week’s concert marathon, noise can be derived from many instruments), but it sounds great. There’s no progress, no deviation from what we heard on the previous release, but that’s noise for you, I guess.
Neithan, also known as Michał Kiełbasa, is the person behind Harmony Of Struggle, but also behind Lugola, also described as a power electronics project. You need a microscope to find the differences, but if any, it’s the use of voice here. I didn’t review his previous album, ‘Deform (Live At XX Wroclaw Industrial Festival)’ (Vital Weekly 1367), but I agree with BW’s assessment that vocal processing is essential. He didn’t mention any references, but he reminded me of the good ol’ Whitehouse, Ramleh and Con-Dom music here; the noise might be of a slightly different variation than those 1980s references, maybe a bit more digital, even at times a bit rhythmical (without any heavy thumping beats too), but otherwise good ol’ fashioned power electronics fun. What more do you want? Currently, following these two blasts of noise, I opt for something a little quieter.
And right now, that bit of quietness comes from Genetic Transmission, whose ‘Offals of Emotions’ is already the eleventh re-issue Zoharum does of this band. I reviewed a lot of them, maybe even all, and throughout most enjoyable music; not always great, but I like the intentions and approaches of Tomek Twardawa. Zoharum describes this album as “one his more radical albums”, but I found that not true. In an approach we know from him, Twardawa works with a free approach of committing sounds on tape. Rusty metal sheets, electronic tones, acoustic objects, and feedback are the ingredients; at least, that’s my judgment of what I hear. He creates the dialogue in the mix, and that dialogue might not always be easy, as disparate elements sometimes don’t gell. Still, at the same time, it’s also an excellent surrealist approach. Points of reference are Nurse With Wound and, especially, Brume. As I wrote, Genetic Transmission shares a strict ‘no silence’ policy with Brume; there’s always something happening. That’s not strange; a lot of music has no silence, but in the world of sound collage, the use of silence offers variations in dynamics, emphasising sounds and such. His stream-of-consciousness approach works quite differently in the music of Genetic Transmission. Sometimes, he takes too much time, dragging on things too long, but that’s part of his aesthetics.
And then there’s a bit of rhythm at the end, like noise, music with lots of subgenres that I never knew. Sect 7 plays EBM music. I am not an expert here, but I think that’s probably spot on from whatever else I heard. Motorik beats and sequences, sampled voices, and lots of dark synthesisers. It is very much one sound, one concept, and dark. I enjoyed playing this, but at the same time, I have no idea what to write. I am not an expert on EBM, so what can I say about this music? I don’t think anyone at Vital Weekly has an idea about EBM. Most entertaining; that doesn’t qualify as a proper review, I know.
Also, EBM is the music by HIV+, also known as Pedro Penas Robles. Also, it was someone I had not heard before, but with many releases to his name; the first one is from 2000. I understand this double CD is a collection of pieces scattered around the globe. Remixes of his music, or him remixing others, and some using his voice. He worked with The Hacker, Dave Inox, Millimetric, Chris Shape, Blind Delon, Mamam Kusters, Radikal Kuss, Hardlab and AkA, and “many others”; there wasn’t a name I recognised (well “remix by Absolute Body Control” is something I know!) I recognised some songs, though, as HIV+ plays cover versions of ‘Warm Leatherette’ and ‘Der Mussolini’; I preferred the originals, but the first cover was nice enough. Much like Sect7, this is quite entertaining music, and HIV+ has a bit more variation to offer, which I blame on the fact that these pieces come from many years and different stages of his career. Also, this music has a lot more vocals, which helps the variation department. I don’t think anyone at Vital Weekly has an idea about EBM. Most entertaining; that doesn’t qualify as a proper review, I know. Oops, I already wrote that. (FdW)
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MODELBAU – EXTRICATE (CD by Sublime Retreat)

Vintage Modelbau (Frans de Waard) on his latest effort. One long track with fourteen parts that flow seamlessly into each other. Treated spoken word, treated scales (maybe Tibetan or some instrument from a gamelan orchestra), with sometimes rhythmic passages not using actual rhythms but using gates and the electronic qualities of sound and the manipulation thereof to create rhythmic pulses. And all the while, a deeper drone that comes and goes. This could be in the background, creating an uneasy atmosphere or a soundtrack to a Tarkovsky movie, or you could listen to this with an attentive mind to hear the shapes and textures float by; in essence, a musical meditation to relax. Sounds come to fruition, bloom and wither away. Or come back in an altered form. Sublime work! It’s quite the musical journey. The mixing by Modelbau and mastering by Peter Johan Nÿland at 4 & Rising is exquisite. (MDS)
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From Alfredo Costa Monteiro’s always fascinating musical mind, there is a new work that uses a broken piano and an electric organ. I was amazed when I learned these two instruments weren’t recorded simultaneously. Strange, because it very much sounds like they were. I had this vision of Monteiro with a broken piano and an organ in a room. I slowly hit a piano note here and there, silenced as the recording wasn’t great (or the piano was very much broken), and then slowly added this tranquil organ sound underneath. But that’s not what happened. He had already recorded the piano part in 2012 and then forgot that he had made it for a considerable time. Ten years ago, he added the organ to connect what he calls the “spare events” but still makes it sound relatively sparse. As said, the organ is very much below in the mix. Do yourself a favour and increase the volume because you will enjoy the organ sounds more. As much as I like this release, I would have chosen a different balance between piano and organ simply by making the latter a bit louder by quieting the first one. I could ‘correct’ it by upping the volume, but that didn’t present the same result. Don’t get me wrong, though; this is a beautiful, minimal piece of music that’s not out of place in his catalogue.
From the trio Open To The Sea comes a new album, again with oceanic references, ‘Ten Rooms Under The Sea’. These rooms are the songs on this album. The trio is Enrico Coniglio (guitar, piano, Yamaha TX7, Korg MS2000), Matteo Uggeri (laptop, samples, beats, field recordings, arrangements), Saverio Rosi (guitar, piano, tapes, Op-1, field recordings, turntable). Already in 2017, Gianmaria Aprile recorded the drums you hear. There are other guest players too: Dominic Appleton (whispers), Andrea Serrapiglio (cello), il Lorenz (bongos), Alessandro Sesana (trumpet), and Mattia Costa (drums), ONQ (harmonic saw), Alberto Carozzi (harmonica). Surprisingly, Coniglio and Saverio record long distances, which is unclear from the music, as it sounds like a few people in a room working on some delicate music. With the disappearance of the muted trumpet in all but one track, the jazz noir style from the album (see Vital Weekly 1370) is now gone, and the whole thing is more akin to spacious ambient post-rock. There are some jazzy traces left, mainly in the drums. Piano and guitar sounds have a melodic interaction, and throughout the album, it is an enjoyable, lazy Sunday afternoon soundtrack. I had it on shuffle/repeat for some time, reading a book, drinking tea and occasionally doing nothing. Sadly, I had to leave my comfy chair to write a review, but rest assured, once I completed that task, I sank back and played the album again. Moody but light music for darkened days towards the end of the year. (FdW)
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Here at Vital Weekly, we are unafraid to pummel our eardrums with the severest of noises. Every now and then, however, we immerse ourselves in the polar opposite: the gentlest calm and most fragile subtle kinds of music. Keiko Shichijo playing Jürg Frey is a prime example of this moment of deeply filled emptinesses, ripples in the pond of the music of spheres from a single tiny drop. It is music at its most vulnerable yet very assertive, with a poignant presence.
In 2021, Frey wrote seven pieces for solo fortepiano, commissioned by Keiko Shichijo, a pianist based in Amsterdam — a septology of works imbued with Frey’s perceptive ear and Shichijo’s equally emotive touch. There’s a velvety veil-like quality to the serene sequence of notes, most equally spaced, stressing the equal importance of notes played, and silence left – or made – played, too.
What I call silence now is anything but silence. It is moving air, still. Pregnant with promise and resonance in decay. Past, present and future most certainly manifested. And also past, present, and future. A silence, too, of course, never wholly void, all but empty. As an advance notice, a fade-in into the sound itself, a premonition before the touch of the key of the fortepiano – turning the sounding of the keyed note into a deja-entendu perhaps even: a reassuring sense of familiarity avant-la-lettre.
Frey was inspired by the inherent imbalance of the fortepiano, featuring different “worlds between the middle, the high and the low register. The whole construction of the instrument is so subtle, and every movement, the slightest change in registers and density of chords immediately opens a variety of colours, new perspectives and emotions.” Shichijo manages to pry open the tears in the fabric of density and spectral variety by not accenting, by stressing a certain same-ness in difference, vantage points to a horizon we might compare to the thinnest of hues in an Agnes Martin painting, erased and reconstituted by a couple of sweet, soft dashes of colour pencil, as drawn by Frey on the cover.
In this instance, these resonances form topologies of contemporary harmony and melody in the purest of instrumental forms, deep within the fortepiano. I would say we all need to embrace these sounds, the work of Frey, as these pieces of music are self-evident. (SSK)
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VIOLENT SHOGUN – PEACE (CD by Satatuhatta)
BURNOUT – IMPAKT (CD by Satatuhatta)

Much like last week’s noise quartet releases by Troniks/Helicopter, here’s another quartet of smiley faces, this time from Finland—the label, not the musicians. I had only heard of Violent Shogun before (Vital Weekly 1391). Day one started with Green Tea (coffee starts the day for me, alas), which is the musical project of Nick Forté (Half Mortal, Rorschach), whose ‘Children Of The Wisteria’ is the follow-up to his debut on New Forces. There are six pieces here, with a total length of forty-seven minutes. There is no information about instruments, and this will be a recurring thing, but it’s safe to say all of these musicians use lots of sound effects, synthesisers, metal objects and such things. For Green Tea, the label uses the word ‘psychedelic’, and, though not easy to hear, I think I understand where that comes from. The way the effects are cobbled together creates a rich, noisy tapestry of sound, meandering about. It’s not something to smoke a big spliff with, it’s a different kind of psychedelics, I think. Through contact microphones, there is also an acoustic aspect to the music, of massive abuse, of course, but also removing the music from being one long distortion. It’s chaotic and wild at times, but that’s the sort of variation I like.
As I said, I heard an album by Violent Shogun on the same label before. French musician Remi Dazet likes his electronics as much as he likes his metallic percussion. He divulges his instruments; “tape loops, multitrackers, found sounds, Loudest Warning modular synth, and Kawai 100F”, which, for true nerds (not me), perhaps is a tell-all. His music is proper noise, but he pulls back his stream of sounds very occasionally, and it’s precisely that kind of thing that sets him apart from his peers. Especially in the last two pieces, seventeen minutes in total, he does have that beautiful mystifying metal/drone/noise interaction that works so well. He delivers solid material in his more straightforward noise approach, such as in the second track, but it is not distinctive enough. Should he decide to change his musical direction under this name (he has many other names), I hope he will develop what he does in the second half of this album.
“MT (Unclean, Stinkfinger) and PD (Kartio, Umpio)” are behind Burnhout, and ‘Impakt’ is their first release. What we know about the ‘instruments’ is “circuit overload, fractured metals, ear exploding serenity and pure energy”. There is a lot of sonic overload on this album, which sometimes is minimal, almost like an HNW, but then comprises a three-minute track. There is also a tendency to work with feedback and chaos, not too fast and nervous, but avoiding all too static parts (such as in ‘Pumeled Against The Ropes’). The six pieces take about forty-seven minutes, weighing down like a mountain. Noise music is, at least that’s what I believe, never an easy proposition, but this one is a heavy blast. I pulled out of reviewing for an hour after this to walk in the cold, dark and silent streets of Nijmegen. I felt like I deserved this, surviving the ‘Impakt’.
And, on the fourth day, The New Boyfriends, which seems to be a duo too. The photos in the booklet show them outside, recording branches, but also with piles of debris, and what could be their studio, which houses a cement mixer (a real one). Maybe they use that to toss the debris and grind it all up? Again, forty-seven minutes of music here, but now seven pieces. Though noise is alive on this release, it’s not all about piercing, loud noises. Unlike the other three, The New Boyfriends know how to put on something much more diverse, using more dynamics. Sounds of thunder, crackling of woods and stones, using something tranquil occasionally, and then leaping back to a full-on noise blast make this a highly varied disc, where actual noise still lives, but more thought is put into the action here. At least, that’s what I assume. And, as you may know, I am always fond of a bit of thought into noise, as much as I like noise music to be varied. The three previous blasts I enjoyed but aren’t things I stick on for pure entertainment reasons on a late Sunday morning, but The New Boyfriends I can see myself playing their release now and then.(FdW)
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An often told story: in 1981, in the Netherlands, there was the Ultra movement, as I always a sort of No New York, with many musical innovations rooted in the do-it-yourself of punk, but going way beyond the three chords wonders. Ultra was also a very diverse movement, from the aggression of Tox Modell to the electronic poppiness of Mekanik Kommando. And there was the duo of Mark Glynne and Bart Zwier, who released one LP, ‘Home Comfort’. Honestly, I owned the LP and wasn’t blown away. I was 16 or 17 when I bought it, as in my naivety, I thought that a privately released record from people interviewed in my favourite magazine, Vinyl (which, as I know, was about the fourth time they started as a band, after having just released a 7″, which is not part of this CD, and which never resulted in any records) equalled excellent quality. I am sure I ‘didn’t get it’. As much as I like to write that I am now older and thus (??) wiser and ‘get it’ now, I don’t. However, something has changed. Playing this CD brings back the young me, but this time, the music sounds great, and what’s more, I understand more of its experimental edge. The record is heavy primarily on keyboards and vocals; the lyrics are meaningful. Glynne is the main vocalist and also plays bass and organ, while Zwier plays synthesiser and additional vocals. There are a few musical guests on drums, guitar, zither, flute, and cello, changing per track. The lyrics are half-sung and half-spoken, and there is a dramatic approach here, both in the way they sing and in the music they play. I have no idea if this playing is a deliberate thing, this heavy-handed sound might be a cliche, but unlike all those years ago, I enjoyed this very much. The wall of sound approach, the layering of voices, the slowness of the music, and the minimalist development of a ‘song’ are all highly experimental and make more sense to me today than they did back then. Maybe I dismissed this as too rocky, or maybe too arty, too distant, like a world that wasn’t my world, but it’s far from it. Quite rightfully, this deserved another reissue, following previous reissues on Atem (1982) and Les Disques Du Soleil Et De L’Acier (1998). The CD version has a live piece, a cover of Lou Reed’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’, recorded in 1979. This is perhaps the most surprising reissue I heard this year (and probably longer). I never knew how great it was.
Timo van Luijk, the man behind the La Scie Doree label, also has a hand in the Metaphon label. Not for the first time, he surprises me there (too!) with a beautiful reissue. On Metaphon, one finds musicians from the musique concrète and improvisation world. Sometimes, musicians released only one record, such as Arthur Petronio. He was born in Switzerland in 1897, lived in Belgium and The Netherlands between 1910 and 1924, and then moved to France. Petronio studied violin and was attracted by the avant-garde, combining sound poetry and music. He published “several avant-garde journals and poetry books with the participation of like-minded artists. Wrote many scores for solo instruments, small ensembles, orchestral works, opera”. And yet, there is only one LP from him, released by the Igloo label in 1979, now the subject of a reissue by Metaphon, who copied the artwork, including a poster. This is a most interesting record. Everything I just learned about this composer is something we can hear in the music. It’s indeed a work of classic musique concrète approaches, through tape splicing, and, at the same time, also a work of sound poetry, and the influence of Henri Chopin is never far away, even when Petronio doesn’t limit himself to voice only material. It’s hard to say what kind of instruments he uses, heavily treated as they are. There is an exciting naivety about the music, an undefinable outsider feeling, making this a fascinating record. Maybe it’s the fact that Petronio only made one LP that makes this so interesting, the promise of whatever else could have been made. Perhaps something lies somewhere in a private archive, waiting for Metaphon to dig it up; that would be awesome. (FdW)
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A new LP by Matt Weston is always a pleasure to receive. Growing in his role as composer and improviser of percussion-based music, his work is beyond being one or the other. This sort of falls in between the cracks, not precisely composed or improvised. These two side-long tracks are perfect examples of Weston’s approach to music. ‘You Have To Question The Validity Of Your Sneer’ is already hard to define. Rubbing objects together, perhaps, layered in some way or another, and a bell-like sound rings now and then. It could also be a voice, this rubbing, but I am thinking about bowing objects upon drum skins. All this takes place in a big room, adding reverb to the piece. This is more sound art or experimental acoustic object explorations than your usual drum improvisation. On the other side, we find ‘Half-Suburban Waltz’, which is a bit shorter and in which Weston uses a variety of sounds. Some of these could be electronic, triggered by his drum work (perhaps, as it happens with many of my reviews, I am merely guessing). Here, Weston has a more collage-like approach of sitting next to each other and on top. There is a musique concrète approach here, with altered tape speeds, changing the tone of what could be an organ. Occasionally, I was reminded of Nurse With Wound here, even with this piece’s more improvised sections; these are used to create a piece of tape music, so I think, rather than something Weston plays live (and, again, I might be totally wrong). The second side seems ‘smoother’ than the first, with a slightly more brutal approach. Although come to think of it, I’d be very interested in seeing Weston play his material in concert. His records convinced me of his remarkable talent in creating some of the best modern music I have heard, combining various musical interests. Excellent stuff!
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In recent years, there haven’t been many collaborative works by David Lee Myers (at least, I believe so, not something I checked), but here’s one and the first thought I had: why didn’t this happen sooner? Both have a similar approach to creating music. Both use feedback; in the case of Toshimaru Nakamura, this is the no-input mixer (connecting the headphone output to an input and working with the resulting feedback; if you want to try this, be careful with your speakers), and David Lee Myers working with what he calls the Feedback Machine. Essentially, it is also an output-to-input connection but going through a line of sound effects. It would have been great if the two men had set up shop in the same space and connected their machines, which would make for an exciting result, but such things aren’t easy to realise. This is what the label (who suggested this collaboration) calls a remote collaboration, so maybe Myers had some of Nakamura’s output into his “Feedback Matrices and Modular Electronics”, as the other way round seems a bit more complicated; how can have a no-input mixer with somebody else’s input? As much as I followed Myers’ music in the past 35 years, as little do I know Nakamura’s music. I heard some of the years, but I have no idea how his music developed. The cover is unclear about who did what here, and the results, great as they are, also provide no clues. If the word ‘feedback’ makes you think this sounds like a massive noise outing, then, absolutely no, this is not noise. Throughout, the music is on a quieter side. Also, the music isn’t one endlessly sustaining electronic sound, but along the lines of Myers’s recent work, this is more about lots of small sounds, crawling like small animals, buzzing and whirring. It’s like a machine came live, and we hear everything inside workings. There are twelve pieces, around three to seven minutes each, and each has its own identity; one is darker, one is minimalist, then a creepy crawly one, and so on. This brings a pretty attractive amount of variation to this album, which stays coherent throughout. The music reminds me of musique concrète and, at other times, reminds me of modern electronics and ranks easily among the best albums in Myers’ extensive discography. It is an excellent collaboration and one that calls for a follow-up album. (FdW)
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OPANDOLFO – PATTERNS (CDR by Sound In Silence)

I was mildly confused by the name Great Panoptique Winter for a moment or two, thinking this was Jason Sweeney’s project. As it turned out, Sweeney is also behind this name, but it’s a collaboration with Richard Adams, also known for his work as The Declining Winter and Hood. Apparently, they collaborate once a decade; this is their second album. I don’t think I heard their debut. With one living down under and the other in the UK, they exchanged sound files “during times of upheaval for both artists”. There are a lot of keyboards and a lot of vocals, and the result is a particularly dream-pop-inspired album. Whatever these lyrics are about, I couldn’t tell. Still, there is no doubt about the darker things in life (‘Light The Burial Ground’, ‘Wrapped In Grey’ and the title piece are indications in that direction), but the voice with mucho reverb suggesting ditto atmosphere, is in the background and on top there are dreamy synths, very spacious and sometimes even a drum machine, also with all sort of sound processing. While it may seem a bit grim, I don’t think the overall intention of the music is to be depressing; it’s moody but not without a shimmer of light. I think the use of spacious synthesisers is partly responsible for that blink. The title piece is almost pop music, clocking at three minutes, and definitely the album’s most upbeat (musically speaking) moment.
New to me is OPandolfo, the solo project of Ólafur Josephson, also known as Stafrænn Hákon. That name is of a band, not a person, it seems, as the information tells us that Josephson received help from members “of Stafrænn Hákon, Lárus Siguðsson and Árni Þór Árnason, who provided acoustic guitar and lyrics respectively”. Acoustic guitars being strummed are the main ingredient of the music here, along with some pleasant keyboard work and live drums. As with much of the music this label releases, this is very atmospheric. While not exclusive in their use of the guitar, OPandolfo has quite the rocky sound: post-rocky, ambient rocky, whatever rocks your boat. There are also four songs with vocals, and six are instrumentals. Sound In Silence mentions the “minimalist, repetitive patterns found in music made by the great Steve Reich & Terry Riley´s In C as well as elements from more traditional pop music”, but I didn’t hear much of the minimalist composers and the whole thing sound more like traditional pop music to me, but, as that’s not my expert area, what do I know? I imagine this kind of music to be very popular because it is melodic, pleasing, and appealing to a broader audience. I was working on something non-review-related earlier today. I played this album three times in a row, partly because I was too lazy to look for something else but also because the music was very much non-demanding, a different kind of ambient, as it were. (FdW)
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OPTIMUS PRIME NOISEFEST #5 (CDR by Vatican Analogue)

As mentioned elsewhere, I was at the ‘Optimus Prime Noisefest #5’ some days ago, thoroughly enjoying 22 concerts in just over four hours. I met many old friends, some of whom were on ‘stage’ for 12 minutes. Cock Cobra’s Wouter Jaspers handed me this little souvenir. Luckily, there is no track list on the cover, but there is one on Bandcamp. On this CDR (34 made, 20 for the artists, the rest ended up in the unsuspecting audience, download for free), things aren’t as extreme as on ‘stage’. Kryptogen Rundfunk in concert was not unlike Merzbow, but here, it is relatively ‘quiet’. This goes for many others, too; details suddenly play a more significant role. That’s not to say that pure noise has now suddenly vanished (hello, The Sunshine Lounge, Glum Lord, Geseling, Kamloops, for instance), but like in concert, I like the sheer variety of approaches, and now, also the dynamics of the music, with Orphax, very much like on the afternoon itself, being the quietest kid in the class. Topped with the fact that none of these pieces are very long (Zalm’s piece is six seconds long), it gives the whole release a neat urgency. (FdW)
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Aniello Perduto is the pseudonym of Roberto di Blasio. He played the soprano sax, alto sax, and drums on his first solo release. Through overdubbing, the pieces got a body and soul. It’s not a small feat because overdubbing doesn’t leave a margin for much error. In that sense, this is a fun release. Frans de Waard thought this wasn’t a release for Vital Weekly. I believe otherwise: this is a one-man band, although each voice is recorded separately and sequentially. In some tracks, there are only drums and one sax, for example, ‘Wanda’. Each piece has a limited set of musical information or cells that get repeated in a different key and or expanded on by the other instrument. The use of (melodic) cells goes back to Stravinsky. He uses a symphonic orchestra. Roberto only has three voices. And since the pieces are relatively short, they don’t overstay their welcome. The main attraction for me (and the most Vital Weekly one) is ‘Crescete e moltiplicatevi’, which starts with the concept of the previous tracks (relatively hectic melodic content). Still, Roberto switches methods and uses almost no attack on the saxes, making them sound like an accordion with slowly changing chords underpinned with percussive sounds. It’s my favourite track for now because it’s a different approach, with floating droney tones. It was quite an accomplishment to get this together in this way, not just this track but also the rest. It isn’t easy to get the three separate voices together so seamlessly. The last track is an a cappella solo voice track referencing Don Quixote’s love: ‘Dulcinea’. For example, there are more literature references: Herman Melville in track 2. I leave it to the listener to connect the title and reference. The music is more important, I think. Roberto might disagree. (MDS)
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FOOD PEOPLE – LUMINOUS IMMEDIATE (cassette by Greater Lanarkshire Auricular Research Council)

So far, I very much enjoyed the music by the UK trio Food People: Lila Matsumoto, Greg Thomas, and Matthew Hamblin. Instruments aren’t mentioned, and I wouldn’t be surprised if duties aren’t strictly divided here. Everybody can play the drums, a guitar, a violin or a bass. Their music is a most curious mix of free improvisation within the idiom of folk music, mingled with rusty tape-loops with splashes of rhythm (or maybe even a drum machine? It isn’t used all the time) and a bit of rock-like structures. Free is the imperative word here. No style, no structure, just the freedom to do whatever comes up and do that. Another word I used in previous reviews is ‘vague’, which may be perceived as a negative thing, but I use it with the utmost respect. I have no clue what this group wants to say with their music if anything (and if the answer is ‘nothing’, then I am also okay with it). Vague means hazy, misty, and atmospheric here, not going in any particular direction, yet there is always some kind of movement in these eight pieces; it always moves around, in circles, non-linear, curly, but with a movement, it never repeats in the same way, or stands still for very long. There is still that English ‘let’s open the barn doors, set our instruments in the doorway and capture this strange music, along with recordings of birds and insects, although none too much of either. Once again, lovely weird music, and once again, something I am much clueless about, and yet something I enjoy very much. (FdW)
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GREY PARK & SICK DAYS – WORK GOTHIC (cassette by Vacancy Records)

From Canada hails Sick Days, the music project behind Vacancy Records, and from Finland Grey Park, the man behind Hyster Tapes. Both labels deal with recycled cassettes, so it’s hardly a surprise they know each other and that there is collaborative work. It would be lovely if this working together would be through mailing back and forth audio cassettes, preferably also recycled ones, as was common practice before the arrival of the internet. Maybe they did, but I doubt that, and this is another case of trading sound files through the internet. No problem, of course, as the grainy field recordings are stored on cassettes and then mixed in some way, arriving at our ears. A long tape, eighty or so minutes, is a rare thing in cassettes, and they take their time to explore their sounds. There are a lot of field recordings, birds, maybe a construction site, and mechanical or acoustic objects at home, and they add synthesiser sounds, crude loops and effects. Maybe there’s a guitar somewhere, too; I believe I can hear such a thing in ‘Nearer Titanic’. Six pieces of music, eighty minutes in total: it shouldn’t surprise you that these pieces are very minimal in approach. Even in the longest (thirty-one minutes), ‘November Witch’, this works very well. The music always works so that the musicians don’t take too much time doing the same thing but soon enough add a new sound or twist to the music. I am a sucker for all such things as lo-fi electronics, and I have known their work for some time and enjoy their work very much. Occasionally, they are a bit noise-like, adding spice to their drones, and that never goes over the top either. Excellent in all its graininess. (FdW)
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Grubenwehr Freiburg I hadn’t heard of before, but their back catalogue has quite a few names which will interest many of you – and me, for that matter. It’s too much to do all the name-dropping, but besides the recently reviewed MB and Coalminer split, which is still buzzing in my ears, how about Flutwacht, Modelbau, Fabio Orsi, The Haters, Joke Lanz, Lasse Marhaug, Richard Ramirez and Feine Trinkers are amongst the better-known acts as well as one of Belgian’s best kept secrets Bruital Orgasme (I seen them on many occasions and loved them each time). So, let’s start by stating that this raised my expectations about this split/collaborative release.
This release is a C40 cassette with four parts of “Gewässerunterhaltung” on one side by Grodock and Vargus. That is, except for the fourth part, which Giacinto did, too. Of course, I couldn’t find anything about the artists, but that’s okay. This will not be the last we’ll hear from them. Seriously. The first side is a mixture of different noise styles, with some cut-up, looping, found footage, harsh elements and erratic behaviour. And moments where the artists take their time to create an atmosphere. So, listening to all four parts as one is a journey for your mind. Being a bit of everything, my review could have ended up with “it has no distinct goal or purpose”, but these guys build and work on glueing the parts together. So I’m honestly interested in their next one.
The reverse side has one track entitled “Desertion of Self” by Giacinto. Again, there is no information to be found, but he/she has been active for a few years. The composition is quite different than what we have heard so far, although there are a few of the same elements in both: aspects of noise and drone, there is some contact mic-ing going on, a few found sources (seem to be radio waves) and a lot of dynamics. Composition-wise, I love this second track even more than the first; the sounds used are way more up my alley. The only thing I liked a bit less was using the field recordings in the latter part. It sounded like the wind or whatever was constantly blowing directly in there, which disabled the rest of the sounds to form layers. But again, to be honest, that’s just a taste thing. It’s still a solid piece here. (BW)
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