Number 1416

EDWARD KA-SPEL – TEASE SEIZE… APPLY (CD by Terminal Kaleidoscope) *
NUL NUL (Book + CD by Korm Plastics)
FABIO ORSI – DUST AT NIGHT (CD by 13/Standa) *
CADE (CD by 13/Standa) *
BORDA – METHEXIS (CD by 13/Standa) *
MODELBAU – EXTRICATE (CD by Sublime Retreat)
TAKUMI SEINO – ECHO (CD by Voice Of Silence) *
ANX N PVC (LP, private) *
GROSSO GADGETTO & NLC – PERIPHERAL (2CDR by Attentuation Circuit) *
FLETINA – THE GIVEN MOMENT (cassette by Fort Evil Fruit) *
COMANDO BRUNO – EL SOPOR (cassette by Korm Plastics D) *
BIRD & RENOULT – GOLD LINES (cassette by Guenrekorder)
WIND TIDE – BLUE BREAKING BROWN (cassette by Notice Recordings) *

EDWARD KA-SPEL – TEASE SEIZE… APPLY (CD by Terminal Kaleidoscope)

Even when Edward Ka-spel is a busy bee, it’s been a few months since I last heard his music or that of the mothership, The Legendary Pink Dots. But a new release from him is always well-received, even when, other than man, I think I am lost for words. That’s not to say this is a great CD, well, it is, but what’s there to write after all these years? For how long have I been reviewing Ka-spel or the Dots? I honestly don’t know. And even before that, I was already a fan. Now I am older, I avoid such questions as ‘For how many years have I been playing this music?’ I know it must be forty years now, and that’s a long time. In that massive catalogue that is their discography, there have been many favourites spread over various decades. A few didn’t stand the test of time, but I always look out for the next Pink Dots record or solo ka-spel record. With such a catalogue, it’s no longer possible to say that the latest is the best work yet; there is a consistent approach to using electronics, which is more Ka-spel solo trademark and without guitars (more Dots-style) and singing/reciting stories. Ka-spel is a master of both. The voice is evident, as that’s what he’s best known for, as well as his surrealist texts of despair and hope (I think; you know me concerning texts). He is also a master around the studio, crafting these wonderfully spacious synthesiser bits and solid rhythms along with all these psychedelic musical ornaments that are also part of the music, be it samples or field recordings. Age doesn’t affect the man; his voice is as strong as ever, and the music is sometimes thunderous and sometimes wonderfully introverted. It’s not the greatest, never was this good album. It’s another great album from a restless workaholic. Onwards and onwards. (FdW)
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The group’s name is “a wordplay that arises from the curiosity of connecting everyday objects, such as a simple plank that can be used for washing or storing clothes, with the name of the German physicist Max Planck, the initiator of quantum physics, and a repetitive action over time.” It’s the name of a duo, Matteo Mariano and Domenico Diano, who have been working together for two decades, ” on several projects ranging from experimental electronic music to Retro-Prog”. Mariano we know from his phoanøgramma release on Reverse Alignment (see Vital Weekly 1400). The Washing Planck concerns itself with “generative music and its poetics, which is the automated creative process based on rules’. There is a lengthy explanation on Bandcamp of how this works, which I can’t and won’t rewrite. The music starts using the same instruments (but which?) and generative patches because the musicians press start and stop when it’s time. The instruments may very well be modular electronics, but for all I know, they might also be laptops; they are described as “The project utilizes a hybrid system of sound creation, combining analog and digital synths, structured algorithms, and magnetic tapes to create series of generative textures that lead to different paths based on the same principles.” As I noticed with other generative music projects, I think that releasing a CD is, perhaps, not the right thing to do. Doesn’t generative music, because of its ever-changing character, ad infinitum, deserve something that allows the listener to decide to start/stop and take as much time as possible? Which might be an application on your screen or a website, the current standard for such a thing. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying anything about this CD’s music; I am merely observing something about generative music. Both pieces are similar and only different below the surface. The second seems to be a bit ’emptier’, taking less sonic information; both use synthetic water drops, mild drones, minimal changes, and a lower-end drone. The first piece has more action and is somewhat denser orchestrated, but both seem to be built from similar elements. Everything moves inside out, upside down, while maintaining the same balance throughout each piece. It all sounds ambient, which I associate primarily with generative music, that calming quality, but without becoming a static object. Things always move and morph, another quality of generative music. I enjoyed this a lot, even when limited to an hour, but hopefully, more of them in the future. (FdW)
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NUL NUL (Book + CD by Korm Plastics)

[1:1] In the beginning, when Frans and Christian created the Zero (Nul) and the Zero (Nul)
[1:2] The knowledge of experimental music in the Netherlands was a formless void, and darkness covered the void while the words from Frans and Christian swept over the face of the Netherlands.
[1:3] Then Frans and Christian said, “Let there be Nul Nul,” and there was Nul Nul.
[1:4] Frans and Christian saw that the Nul Nul was good and separated the knowledge from the void.
It’s not exactly how things started, but it’s the beginning; it’s how a friendship between two guys with a common interest in different music led to what first was Nul Nul, what later became the hard-copied Vital and what now is Vital Weekly; The weekly newsletter which lies before you with reviews and info on everything ‘different’.
The book has scans of all the editions, including the artwork. Now, the thing is that we’re talking about the Netherlands here. So, all original Nul Nul’s were written in Dutch. That language resembles German and Flemish and sounds like a phlegm cough-up each third word, so what makes this book enjoyable for you who doesn’t read a single word of Dutch? It’s been a hell of a job, but it’s been translated into English word-for-word. Because of this, it’s a great overview of what happened in the mid-80s in the cassette scene, in what now would be considered an underground art movement, music adjacent sound design … And it can be read and understood by everyone. No expensive apps, Google Translator of Babelfish is needed in any way.
But wait! There is more! With the book comes a CD with sound from the era. Music that has – or has not – been reviewed or mentioned in those four copies of Nul Nul. And it’s not my kind of music yet because, around that time, I just started listening to this kind of sound. But I have learned a lot of music since then, and this CD fills in the gaps I didn’t realize there were. It focuses on Dutch and Belgian experimental music in the mid-80s, and there are names of many well-known and still active artists. For example, Kapotte Muziek, ODAL and Mailcop (Roel Meelkop in an early guise). And there are tracks from artists that are maybe no longer active but who you have heard (Zombies Under Stress, Kanker Kommando and Vidna Obmana) and many names you might know after reading about them in “Nul Nul”. The most surprising track for me is the one by Vidna Obmana. We all know Dirk from his exquisite ambient works, but he has had a noisy experimental start, and “The Inquisition” is proof. Another track I want to mention is “Verbaal Automatisme” by Heer Peejee. This one-minute play on words (‘dieren of computers’ / ‘animals or computers’) is, for me, what made me choose my education back then. In the 80’s, we were caught between the choice ‘What’s smart’ and ‘Where’s my heart’. I chose computers because they were part of the future. But I would have selected art or philosophy if I were to choose guided by the heart. So, that one-minute exercise with words was, for me, quite confrontational.
Okay, to make a long story short: “Nul Nul” is more than a book; It is a time capsule of what happened back then, and it’s the fundaments of what became the world as we know it now. If you want to know more about mid-80s experimental music in the Netherlands and Belgium, don’t hesitate. It’s a great Christmas present for yourself. (BW)
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CADE (CD by 13/Standa)
BORDA – METHEXIS (CD by 13/Standa)

The new CD by Fabio Orsi arrived right on time. I am preparing something to change how Vital Weekly presents itself online, but it’s an arduous, manual labour for which I could fork out money; as Vital Weekly is mainly a labour of love, so is this. You’ll see me soon. In the meantime, I try to continue Vital as business as usual, but that requires some easygoing music. Enter ‘Dust At Night’ by Fabio Orsi. Here, we have the perfect ambient backdrop for work that needs to be done. It is precisely the ambient Brian Eno wanted us to hear: ignorable and pleasurable. The downside is I need to lay down the manual labour, twist my head around and write a review. This means I have to think about the technology behind the music. Did Orsi change, even maybe only a bit? I doubt he did, and he’s still exploring the limits of digital technology, iPad synths cobbled together, combined with some ‘real’ sound effects and playing these extended, minimalist patterns. There is a slow bounce, a vinyl crackle in ‘Early Grain’, and a slow melodic touch throughout these three lengthy pieces. Sweet and harmless music is acceptable; with Christmas around the corner, we can’t expect things to explode crudely. Soundwise, these three pieces are pretty close together, with variations as they seem to have a single theme and overlapping synthesiser sounds. All of this creates a very homogenous album, the perfect backdrop for meaningless work while day fades into night; I feel I should work in the word ‘dust’, but I can’t; also, there’s no need for it—another great album.
Atmospheres and moods are the keywords to Adriano Zanni’s new album, ‘Instantanee D’ascolto’. That title translates as ‘listening snapshots’, also in the booklet; snapshots, that is, by Zanni. Maybe he took these while outside, recording his habitat, woods or such. At least, he uses field recordings in his music and perhaps processes these via analogue electronics; maybe the electronics side is a separate thing. While Orsi’s music is atmospheric and light, Zanni’s is much darker and ominous. Not the soundtrack of day turning into night, but a full-on nocturnal soundtrack. The music’s sinister part stretches into something slightly, far, far away linked to industrial music and even a bit technoid. If a name comes to mind, it’s the Hafler Trio and how they sounded in the mid-1990s. More soundcaping than pure ambient music, this is more active listening and not as engaging to execute mindless chores (well, at least, that’s how it worked for me). The analogue electronics sound, at times, pretty digital by way of granular synthesis, but who cares? There is a neat variation in these six pieces, each developing slowly but steadily. It’s pretty sturdy work, nothing spectacular, but okay.
The following two releases are oddballs for this label. Maybe I am wrong, but 13/Standa/Silentes is a label I associate with electronic music. These two contain electronics but also instruments; there is nothing wrong there. Cade is a duo of Bruno Dorella and Giovanni Lami; the first is a guitarist and percussion player, and the other processes the instruments “with different electronic instruments including a reel-to-reel recorder and granular synthesisers”. This CD is their debut album and contains recordings from 2019-2020. A curious statement in the information, “For the moment, we have decided to keep CADE out of social media”, which is a good thing. The music has an element of improvisation, especially in using the instruments. It’s never easy to identify the electronic processing, as Lami keeps it relatively modest. Only in the seventh track (unsure if there are any titles here; the writing on the backside suggests there are, but I can’t read it) is there a deep bass rumble. It’s an exciting release but also not an all-too-convincing one. The two musicians exert quite some control, and I think they use too much control. Maybe because they want to play atmospheric music? That might be one reason. Perhaps they are still in that getting-to-know-each-other phase, in which the CD came too early. I don’t know. As a start, it’s not bad at all.
The final release is by Borda, a group with Andrea Ferrari (electric guitar), Borda Tea Ravello (electronic drums), Andrea Grumelli (electric bass), Rosacrita Crisafi (flute), Andrea Serno (electric piano) and Maria Torelli (double bass). “The idea behind “Methexis” is to take some of the foundational concepts of jazz such as interplay, timbral research and improvisation, and render them in a predominantly electronic context”. We learn that the compositions were sketches (aren’t they all at some stage in the creative process?), and in the first phase, the players interpreted these compositions. Then Borda took it upon himself to edit, process and manipulate that material. If I am all too convinced about Cada, then this CD is an even bigger disappointment. It is jazzy but put in a swimming pool bath of reverb and various forms of delay, all of which suggest atmosphere. No doubt someone will use the term ‘jazz noir’, the commonplace term for all things dark, jazz, muted trumpet, and mucho reverb. The cymbal and brush strokes are missing. Otherwise, that box could also be ticked. It’s all quite muffled and never very outspoken. Maybe I am missing a point, or it’s not my thing. Either way. (FdW)
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Here we have a CD with a handwritten cover or, perhaps, written with a computer pen. It looks like the product of an outsider, and maybe Falter Bramnk is an outsider. “French composer and improviser, his main interests range from “homemade sauce” avant-rock/pop/improv… to electroacoustic and sound art”, it says on Bandcamp, and he has several releases available, and as far as I can judge primarily digitally. Bramnk plays keyboards and a whole variety of these: Antonelli golden organ, Bontempi hit organ, Bontempi hf 222, Farfisa fast five organ, Galanti clipper 61 organ, Giaccaglia electric organ, Hammond B3 organ, Jvc kb 303, Magnus electric chord organ 300, ondes Martenot, Topodis electric harmonium, Yamaha Electone organ b30r. Which means a lot of machinery I have never heard of. About the recording, he mentions this: “No line outputs, only fixed and mobile microphones were used to capture all the sounds (loudspeakers, sub, keyboard keys, buttons, pedal, mechanism) in different acoustic spaces, then they were edited and mixed – with no added effects.” That sounds like an interesting approach and, as such, not the work of an outsider. It’s a recording method that works quite well, even when not always that noticeable in the music. Bramnk’s music uses rhythm machines and stabs at the keyboard, some melodic and some not, and I think his music isn’t about playing cheesy organ tunes. Here, the ‘extra’ sounds from the recording process are used as an additional, experimental music edge in the music. It all sounds quite experimental but not inaccessible. His sounds aren’t too abstract or strange; the sound of the keyboard is something we still hear. Due to the variety of the keyboards, the variation in music is also relatively high. It’s a strange album, but one that I found quite compelling. A strange concept in recording has always been my strongest interest. These stabs at the organ, sometimes resulting in drones, are irregular, strange and fascinating. I enjoyed this a lot, but I don’t dare to look for his other work, anxious that this is very common for him and that the spell of being different is broken. (FdW)
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In this quartet, we find Rasha Ragab (voice performance and composition, text selection), Christoph Nicolaus (stone harp), Werner Dafeldecker (double bass) and Lucio Capece (instrumental composition, bass clarinet). On 16 November 2022, they performed ‘Mercy Is Called Down By Mery To The Last’ in Cologne. The texts are by Al-Hallaj (858-922) and “another Sufi poet and mystic Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273), who wrote the poem “he who needs mercy finds it”. One piece, close to forty minutes, consisting of various sections, or maybe songs (poems even?) and not one long continuous piece of music. The texts are in a language I don’t speak, so it’s not something I can comment about. They certainly sound from that part of the world, Persia and Iraq. As with most vocal music, it’s not well-spent on me. It’s difficult to comment on the music if one has no idea what these lyrics are about. Does the music support the music? Or, maybe, not at all? I doubt the latter, but that doesn’t mean I understand it more than that. The music is minimal, bordering on the modern classical, with lengthy sustaining tones and slow melodic touches. It is a piece of music I enjoy very much, and various sections are long without voices. I am sure I am enjoying this for the wrong reason, as it should be for the music, words, and execution of both. I have mixed feelings about this release for the above reasons. I like the minimalist character of the music, which is something I expect from Capece and Hautzinger (the two musicians whose work I heard before), but I’m less enamoured by the voice and the slightly solemn character of the music; it seems a bit too serious to me. Of course, it’s not a problem, but something personal. (FdW)
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MODELBAU – EXTRICATE (CD by Sublime Retreat)

In hindsight, I used a bit fewer words than is justified by the quality of this latest release by Modelbau (see also last week). The hour-long piece is subdivided into more or less fourteen parts, according to the liner notes that segue gently and smoothly into each other by introducing new textures, bits of human speech sprinkled across the hour-long piece, a slowly descending line, much like you see a satellite in orbit at night, or repeated intervals (for example the repeated fourths). Each new texture is carefully mixed in the whole and moves across the stereo image. This may sound dull for an hour, but there’s way too much variation to be a boring listen. It has a lot of different atmospheres, and as I wrote last week, this could well be an alternative soundtrack for a Tarkovsky movie, ‘Stalker’ comes to mind. Or even better, create your own movie in your mind’s eye. For me, it’s radiant music with a brooding quality that evolves organically from one section to another. Some sections are denser than others. It does have melodies, or instead shifting intervals of sounds that create a particular melody, for example, near the end, around the 57-minute mark and ending, And the hour flies by; I have to say, I highly recommend listening to this on a good set of headphones or in a quiet room. I’ll be playing this one a lot. Seek this one out: you won’t be disappointed. Oh, and the CD release features a glossy version of the artwork by Rutger Zuydervelt that complements the audio quite effectively—patterns interlacing other patterns, creating a new pattern. And while you’re at it, check the different releases of Sublime Retreat as well. You might find other stuff to your liking. (MDS)
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TAKUMI SEINO – ECHO (CD by Voice Of Silence)

One of my favourite Dutch movies is Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Turkish Delight’; playing this new CD by Takumi Seino reminded me of that movie. Seino plays acoustic and electric guitars and bass, and Mikiko plays melodica and voice. The film soundtrack features legendary Belgian composer Toots Thielemans, known for his work on the chromatic harmonica, guitar, and whistling skills – the latter bit of info, according to Wiki. The music on ‘Echo’ sounds precisely like Toots, even when there is a difference between harmonica and melodica. Mikiko’s voice isn’t part of every track, but when it does, it’s mainly humming. Like Tielemans’ music, this is jazzy, laid back, and quite nice. I have an idea which DVD to pull off the shelf and play tonight, but that shouldn’t be the idea of a review. With our jazz department very small these days, our interest isn’t in that area anymore, and this definitely goes for an album like Seino’s new one. It’s lovely stuff, very relaxing, again, very much the soundtrack for a Sunday afternoon, but I think it’s too sweet and friendly and somewhat out of place in Vital Weekly. (FdW)
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There are exceptions, but the saxophone isn’t my favourite instrument. Often, it becomes a nerve-wracking jazz wail, and that’s not for me. As said, there are exceptions. An early one is the split cassette by Eyeless In Gaza and Lol Coxhill; I like Borbetomagus. This new album by Colin Webster is another one that I enjoy. He plays the alto saxophone in the chapel of the Oude Klooster in Brecht, Belgium, with a wooden ceiling, and Dirk Serries captured the sound using various microphones. The title of the album is program here, studies in textures. There are twelve short pieces of saxophone music, each on a more sustaining note, but not exclusively. Webster offers a texture rather than a drone rather than a succession of quick notes. A texture aiming not always to please, as Webster uses considerable force here. That’s another thing I like about this record; there is some pretty intense noise music here, a brutalist approach, and that’s something I enjoy. And, of course, acoustic noise is not something you hear every day. Webster combines this acoustic noise with an unmistakable minimal touch. Many pieces are about circular breathing, repeating phrases all the time. Here, this album shines most for someone who is only mildly interested in improvised music but whose heart goes to minimal music. The recording is crisp and clear; those saxophone sounds bouncing around in this hall add weight to the recording. It might not be your typical improvised music record, which is, perhaps, a disappointment for some, but for me, a delight. A particularly strong record. (FdW)
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ANX N PVC (LP, private)

We have a no-expenses-spared record here by Pau Magrané Figuera, who works at ANX N PVC. We find an LP, a fold-out sleeve, and a full-colour book inside a PVC sleeve. It’s all about “Broken Music in Catalunya, is a publication project that takes as its starting point the practice of collecting, research, documentation and countercultural preservation, from an amateur point of view”, inspired by ‘Broken Music’ in 1989 at the DAAD Gallery and ‘Records By Artists 1950-1991’ by Viaindustriae. But this time, the broken music is all from musicians from Catalonia, and Figuera uses samples from no less than 352 sound carriers, mostly vinyl, but also cassette and CD. Some names I recognised, such as Esplendor Geometrico or La Fura Del Baus, Javier Hernando, Macromassa or Anton Ignorant, people from the cassette underground, but also lots of names I never heard of. It doesn’t matter as none of these artists I could recognise on the music. The whole thing is a heavily chopped-up affair. Everything is cut to ultra-brief pieces of sound, which now sounds like the skipping of a record. If you remember, think of the Mixed Band Philanthropist LP, but even more abstract. Maybe some of these sounds are layered and mixed, but I am unsure. It’s not bad regarding a collage-like record, but it also begs the question, ‘why’? I didn’t recognise any musical fragments, nor did I think of Catalonia or musicians from the part of Spain/country (whatever rocks your boat). The liner notes, and booklet are in Catalyin (I think, no expert), so the aim might be a specific group of people, and it might elude listeners/readers outside the sphere of interest. But, as said, as an independent piece of sound art, it is not bad at all, and one can enjoy this on a purely aesthetic level. (FdW)
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Literally down the road from the VW headquarters (and yes, I used words like this before), we find the studio of Rick Sanders, whose primary instrument is several modular set-ups. One day last September, he put several modules in a small rack and set it up in his garden. Not to process the incoming sounds of birds but to shoot a video clip of the music he created with minimal interference and put this online. This video was well-received, and Sanders repeated this a couple more Sunday afternoons. ‘Ambient Sessions’ contains eight pieces; I presume he believes these to be the best/strongest. Four are called ‘Sunday Afternoon’, and four are ‘Autumn Ambient’. Unsure what the difference is, other than they were not recorded on a Sunday Afternoon. As I know, some of his previous music comes as no surprise, but it confirms that Sanders is one of the most gifted ambient music composers. Like many other genres in music, there is little ‘progress’ in ambient, but it’s also not something I always look for. Sometimes (or even most of the time), one needs to look at the music, judge the quality and reflect on the musician’s development. In the case of Sanders, this means refining his sound and looking for diversity in approaches. His previous one sounded a bit grim, whereas this new one is the perfect smooth soundtrack for a Sunday afternoon in autumn. I’m writing these words on a Sunday afternoon, except it’s wintertime. The balcony doors are firmly closed, the heater is on, hot coffee is at hand, a book isn’t far away, and the harmonious ambient tones of Sanders’ modular set-up nicely fill my living room. Just as Brian Eno would have wanted ambient music to be, music that is both pleasant to hear and at the same time could be ignored. Long-sustaining sounds, but not your standard type of drone, rather something slowly meandering about, like driftwood in a river; constantly the same and different, at the same time. Overall, Sanders’ tone is light, and each piece has a minimal yet steady development and variation. A most pleasant release, perceived by both active and passive listening, having this on repeat for some time. Warm music for cold days. (FdW)
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GROSSO GADGETTO & NLC – PERIPHERAL (2CDR by Attentuation Circuit)

These two French musicians worked together before (see Vital Weekly 1344). Grosso Gadgetto is the project of Christian Gonzalez from Lyon, and other than the two releases I reviewed then, I haven’t heard any other music of his; NLC is Julian Ash from Céret, and he’s been around for a long time. The previous album saw one working with the material of the other; at least, that’s what I thought. Grosso Gadgetto had a more ambient side, and NLC had a more rhythmic edge. On these two CDs, those two worlds collide, and it works out quite well. One hears many influences from the world of alternative pop music. The label mentions Bowie’s ‘Low’, which is something that escaped me. I agree with very early Detriot techno, mixed with lots of ambient house-like synthesisers, lots of percussion, some piano and a penchant for the orchestral bombast. This is not the kind of music to lie down to in a chill-out room. To dance to, you may ask? That’s a different question, indeed, and one that I, not a dancing fool, can answer. I see the music as a soundtrack to daily life, the soundtrack while working. As I was glossing over text, concentrating on minor mistakes in punctuation, I had this music on and was pleased with the lightness of the music—no offensive notes, nothing weird, out of place or the ordinary. It is also music that doesn’t require too much attention or concentration. Maybe the orchestral sampling pack is over-used occasionally, such as in ‘Misinterpretation Of Evolution’, which is a bit too bombastic for my taste, but throughout, it is great. I have no idea how they create this music, but no doubt through some extensive file exchange, syncing their synths. (FdW)
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FLETINA – THE GIVEN MOMENT (cassette by Fort Evil Fruit)

Following the debut CDR reviewed in Vital Weekly 1396, Fletina from Scotland now comes with a cassette with two lengthy pieces spanning, in total, thirty-five minutes. This new release isn’t as quiet as the debut, but I am told that was a mistake. Feltina’s work is described as “raw abstract audio collages using found objects, room sounds, environmental noises, household items, mechanical devices and various electronic manipulation techniques”. That’s not something that is evidently clear from the music, as Fletina moves everything around to such an extent that nothing can be identified. Both pieces on this cassette have a strictly linear approach, starting quietly, and during the seventeen minutes, they build to a crescendo, followed by a short fade out. Granted, water sounds can be recognised at the beginning of ‘Obfuscate’, but as with ‘Semblance’, I have no idea what else is added to the melee once the train is up to full speed. The music has a fine lo-fi quality, which now shines better than on the debut album. I am not entirely convinced that a similar construct for both pieces is wise, and there is something to gain in the mastering process. But if murky soundscapes, capturing the howl of the wind/sea/city (see, it’s that unclear), amassing like a big incoming thunder, these pieces definitely need your interest. I’m curious to hear what comes next! (FdW)
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COMANDO BRUNO – EL SOPOR (cassette by Korm Plastics D)

Besides receiving The Annual (see Vital Weekly 1414), I was also given a copy of Nul Nul (see elsewhere), a fanzine Frans de Waard published in 1985 and 1986. There was lots of industrial music from the Netherlands and Belgium, and obviously, there were many names I had never heard of before. Yeah, it’s the age; I’m gonna say that, at the time, I was just a bit too young for such obscure goings-on.
Because of this cassette re-issue by Comando Bruno, initially released in 1985 by De Waard’s Korm Plastics label, I looked at the Korm catalogue and realised there are still a few obscure names here and there for me, which is one of them.
One Rafael Flores is behind this name, and ‘El Sopor’ contains video soundtracks that are not included on the cassette. Cool, but perhaps then the cover shows this ostensibly crucial visual information? We hear four tracks, which amount to about twenty-five minutes of what I can only describe as ‘experimental electronics’, for I have no idea how these sounds were made.
There are voices and delay machines, broken tape loops, and some sound effects; all quite minimal and sparse but far from being an all too deliberate attempt at making industrial or noise. I’d say it sounds like an ambient soundtrack, which made me all the more curious about the video.
Of the four tracks, ‘Pollux’ contained only voice material, with a close-by microphone recording of someone breathing heavily. Pretty sinister. All in all, it’s a relatively short cassette with some delightful music; why not some bonus tracks, I wonder? A brief glance at Discogs shows there’s more where this came from, and it’s great to get a musical lesson for the murky underworld of cassette scenes from many years ago. (LW)
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Mexico City-based and Peruvian-born Camilo Ángeles and New York-based Joanna Mattrey team up for their first collaboration on Notice Recordings. Next year, Relative Pitch will release their second collaboration. Ángeles co-directs the record label TVL REC with Violeta García and Carlos Quebrada and has collaborated with many musicians in the (free) improvisation world. The same goes for Joanna Mattrey. Her work has been favourably reviewed here at Vital Weekly (1383, 1241 and 1366, for instance). Recorded in a large Museo Ex Teresa Arte Actual room in Mexico, a former church and monastery complex. The reverb of the room adds immensely to the atmosphere of the recordings. In some tracks, Ángeles adds his voice (falsetto at times to match the pitch of his flute) to his flute playing, simultaneously playing and a kind of humming, and at one point growling. The two create a spacious sound world full of overtones and depth, especially when Ángeles plays the bass flute, the largest flute you can play comfortably when standing, and extended techniques. More agitated and ferocious parts follow more serene parts, but always with skilled knowledge of their instrument. It makes for an unsettling release; even the more peaceful parts have a brooding quality. Lullaby, the second piece on the release, isn’t exactly the kind of music a child would be invited to fall asleep by. All in all, this is an excellent release. The two musicians consider the room and listen to each other. I, for one, will be on the lookout for their next release next year. (MDS)
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BIRD & RENOULT – GOLD LINES (cassette by Guenrekorder)

Here are two musicias from France, DinahBird (no space apparently) and Jean-Philippe Renoult, with a strong interest in radio sounds. “Their work includes sound pieces, installations, broadcasts, performances and publications and is often inspired by early transmission technologies and archives. Their current interests include, electromagnetic hums, old weather, loops, drones, and high frequency trading.” This new cassette deals with the fact that (again, apparently), radio transmissions are used in stock trading. Of the utmost importantce is speed, and radio provides something that is faster than the Internet. This is called High Frequency Trading, and Bird and Renoult are looking for pylons in the landscape used for this, and they recorded the pieces on the cassette ins-yu. One is a line from Frankfurt to London, and the other from New Yourk to Chicago, give or take. Sometimes a voice explains what’s going on, but it’s mostly music. I would have liked the music, even without the backstory, which I find an interestiing addition. Somewhere between a soundcape created with buzzes and hums, radio static and electromagnetic currents and proper electronic composing with these sound events we find the pieces (not sure how many there are on this cassette). Maybe there is some processing going on, and the whole thing has a musique concrète-like approach, which I enjoyed very well. Thanks to the occasionally spoken word, there is also a radiophonic component to this music. I understand the need for a release on cassette, but with the delicacy of some of the music here, I wouldn’t mind a CD version of this. Even when the background story isn’t entirely clear, especially what it is they recorded, the music is very enjoyable. Great release, altogether. (FdW)
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WIND TIDE – BLUE BREAKING BROWN (cassette by Notice Recordings)

Behind Wind Tide, we find the duo of Gretchen Korsmo and Andrew Weathers from Texas. They have a recording space with the same name and are behind the Full Spectrum Records label. Listening to their music, I imagine the recording space to be not a fancy studio with a shiny computer but a space filled with guitars, amplifiers, bells, and microphones; according to the information on Bandcamp, there’s also a synthesizer, lap steel and percussion. But the primary instrument is the space itself. The way they play their instruments, droning and sustaining, freely bordering on the edge of feedback, drifts through the recording space, bouncing in a corner, against the ceiling and maybe, who knows, a concrete floor. A howl is the result, slowly drifting in an infinite space. Occasionally, there’s a voice added, singing along to the drones. The primitive sound, mind you, that’s not to say something negative, is explored thoroughly and works well. If anything, the two pieces (one per side) strongly reminded me of New Zealand’s best in this respect: Surface Of The Earth or Sandoz Lab Technicians. But maybe others from that country as well; it indeed has that recording aesthetic. I imagine A solid release will be re-issued on LP in ten years (and die-hard fans will regret that it’s not on LP now). (FdW)
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