Number 1418

ANNE GILLIS – VHOYSEE (CD by Art Into Life) *
TONE GENERATOR & THE BODY WITHOUT ORGANS – Control Live (CD by Ultra Mail prod)
WE BE ECHO – Facets (3CD by Ultra Mail prod)
ASHA SHESHADRI & MATTIN – SLICES OF LIFE (CD by Edition Erich Schmid/Mille Plateaux) *
by Mille Plateaux) *
URSURPER – THE BIG TWO (CD by Krim Kram) *
EGIL KALMAN – FOREST OF TINES (2LP by Ideal Recordings)
MODELBAU – HONOURS (10″ Lathe by Spaltung) *
MODELBAU – KOPF AB (CDr by Licht-Ung) *
+DOG+ – X10 (CDR by Love Earth Music) *


In the mid-1980s, I saw two performances involving musique concrète. I am no longer what I saw first. There was a powerful performance by Etant Donnes, with a soundtrack on tape at thunderous volume and many strobe lights. I remember that very well. I hadn’t thought about Anne Gilles for a long time, but she, too, had a performance that involved, if I remember correctly, an amplified wheelchair and an amplified dress filled with coins. Maybe I don’t remember this concert as well as it was a seated theatre, whereas Etnt Donnes was in an abandoned factory, and it all is happening right before you.
I knew Anne Gilles’ music at the time from her cassette on Ding Dong, as Devil’s Picnic, ‘Pomme Ou Pas Pomme’ (to eat an apple is the question, I guess), but as she released her other work on vinyl, which was outside my financial range and cassettes ruled the day anyway. It was not until Art Into Life released ‘Archives Box 1983-2005’ that I learned more about her work. In her particular form of musique concrète, Gillis is not very traditional. She keeps her pieces within the confines of a pop song, three or four minutes long. Sometimes, she even has a pop song using loops, synth and her voice, albeit all very alternative and experimental.
This new release sees six tracks not included on that 5CD box from her first album, ‘Angebiguë’, which was a cassette in a minimal edition (Discogs mentions ‘maybe ten copies’), plus four reworked/remixed pieces from that cassette. It’s unsure which are originals and which the reworks; I’d say the first six and the last four, but maybe it’s that easy. Already in these early works, she shows her dual interest in using concrete acoustic objects, amplified bits of metal, furniture, ashtrays, or what have you, sitting next to pieces in which Gillis sings or recites, adding a more poetic touch to abstract music, or pieces that are more conventional in their musical approach. This results in an album that is very uneven, but not me; I like Gillis’ varied approach. Perhaps we could see this early work as not yet knowing which direction to take, testing the waters in terms of approaches and technology, but it already has some great sounds, ideas and compositions; everything that makes Gillis’ work good is already in this record, so it’s not only of interest for die-hard collectors, but it forms the missing link in her catalogue. (FdW)
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TONE GENERATOR & THE BODY WITHOUT ORGANS – Control Live (CD by Ultra Mail prod)
WE BE ECHO – Facets (3CD by Ultra Mail prod)

Along with the two Rapoon and Dead Voices releases shared last week, Yuen produced two other November releases with a more nostalgic character. Part of the UMP catalogue is inhabited by new music, and the other is by a more historical view of things, including the 5CD Hongkong Punk/New Wave/Experimental ‘documentary’ box release from 2022. Or a combination of both sentiments in releasing new and old work by Martin Bowes (Attrition), Anni Hogan, Jarboe or Val Denham.
One element of ‘nostalgia’ is the current desire to go back in time, reenact the ‘good times’, and once progressed to retirement age, spend the newly won time on reviving the projects left behind three to four decades ago. Actually, I (and others) am not quite sure what Dominic Guerin, aka Tone Generator, has been up to for the past 40 years or so. He contributed to the early Eighties SPK releases. Still, his tracks vanished until he reappeared around 2019, with a release of new music on 4iB Records in 2023, recorded between 2019 and 2022, some of which are represented in live versions. However, in 1992, he was involved in a group formed with John Murphy, Last Dominion Lost, which, after a period of dead quiet, released their first records in 2004 (on Tesco). Guerin is accompanied here by one Scott Barnes, aka Body Without Organs (I believe?), recorded live in Canberra in August 2022. It is unclear whether this is a collaboration or a duo under this name; credits to Tone Generator in recent times seem to be for artwork, whereas all new recordings were released as collaboration/duo. The liner notes imply that the artistic approach continues from where SPK left off, addressing the ‘body without organs’ concept of Gilles Deleuze and artificial intelligence and information overload in dark ramblings. The recordings bring an ongoing dark rumble of sound, staying well this side of a wall of noise but beyond audible instruments. It is well-balanced, enjoyable to hear, and very reminiscent of tapes collected in the 1980s. Voice bites, a little old screaming, and some tone-generator sounds can be heard. I did not hear much difference between tracks, which did not prevent me from enjoying them. Apparently, there will be more recordings to come.
The We Be Echo release is a triple CD that embraces exactly what I mentioned at the start as UMP’s concept – recordings from 1981-89 (one CD) and 2020-23 (two CDs). Past and present. WBE was one of the ‘New Wave’, DIY tape, not-quite synth pop groups of the post-punk era. Actually, it is ‘only’ Kevin Thorne. After publishing two releases with Third Door From the Left, his first track as WBE, ‘Alleycat’, was included on the groundbreaking and style-defining Elephant Table Album in 1983. The music is charmingly simple but also simplistic. Keyboard sequences and drum machines form the background for the slightly processed vocals, with a little chaos added, all somewhere between Pseudo Code, Portion Control, a variety of similar groups of the times, and some elements of very early Legendary Pink Dots. As mentioned, the tracks from the retrospective CD have been previously released, one on the Elephant Table DLP, as on other compilations, or broadcast on USA radio shows. The last two, ‘The Witches Burn’ and ‘I Dance in Circles’ move more experimentally. Fast forward to 2020 – Thorne now living in Canada – these two CDs in the triple-pack now carry the tagline ‘bass driven’, matching the photograph of a bass guitar across the corresponding wallets.
This is now somehow very different music, but it also sounds remotely familiar. We find a complete drum set (which might or might not be electronic – at least the first track sounded ‘real’ to me), a bass guitar, and vocals (with a bit of keyboard for more volume in places). The voice has grown up, and the music is very different, but the connecting element is the flow of music, which progresses at a rather relaxed pace, and the repetitive character of the pieces. In my view, this has improved the quality, but then again, I am not a hater of rock music at all. ‘Ghost of a love song’ actually may hint at ‘This is not a love song’. Leaving aside the tempo, you could also find some Big Black elements, if you would, and some Wire in the repetitiveness. As things progress on CD 2, the pieces turn the corner a little towards more unusual production, adding more effects and fewer melodic elements on the vocals. ‘I see you there’ brings a slight return to the 1980ies. CD 1 (yes, going backwards, I was more interested in the historic recordings at first) actually forms the bridge between the other two discs, with more resemblance to the 1980s incarnation in the use of effects on the vocals and ‘vagueness’ (i.e. echo in the mix) of sounds – as opposed to the ‘rock group’ feel of the first half of CD 2. The vocals sound much more like WBE in the 20th century, and the melodies stick closer to how they were constructed then. This changes with track 7, ‘Foot down’ (fitting title), where a fuzz guitar rings in the rock approach, which remains with us for the remainder of this disc. It’s probably a release that will not please the nostalgic but applies to those with an appetite for the rockier side of the post-punk era. I enjoyed the new music more than the ‘historic’ recordings. (RSW)
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ASHA SHESHADRI & MATTIN – SLICES OF LIFE (CD by Edition Erich Schmid/Mille Plateaux)
NEURO… NO NEURO – POSITIVE (CD by Mille Plateaux)

There was a time when Mille Plateaux was the label to be on par none (sorry, Staalplaat, Touch and Sub Rosa), perhaps because of their excellent distribution and hefty financial advances (some artists bankrolled his label on that). Then, as their distribution went under, so did the label, and when the label returned, it no longer had that flair. But it’s good to see there are still some weirder releases. I have no idea who Asha Sheshadri is (according to Discogs, “Brooklyn, NY-based Asha Sheshadri (b. 1986) is an artist and musician originally from Southern California. Her work commingles memory construction, questions of citation and translation, and personal and political histories. In her essayistic recordings, videos, and performances, she layers her voice with original writing, text from found documents, literature, manifestos, and cinema, creating environments of musical and non-musical artefacts alike. She has also released music under the project names Isolde Touch and as part of Open Corner.”); Mattin is no stranger to these pages with his conceptual approach to sound. Two years into the whole COVID-19 thing, on February 22, 2022, they took audio snippets from their daily lives, at home, on the street, showing “our intellectual interests and our musical tastes”. The cover is a collage of photos they took on their phone. The piece is exactly on the dot, one hour long, and a collage of spoken word, sounds, and bits of music, some of which are processed, and some not, and it’s “a glimpse of the fragmentation of our times through a broken sonic diary entry’. I can imagine this might be an interesting document in times to come when the pandemic is an even more distant memory than it is now, but for now, I am mildly impressed. ‘Not bad’ and ‘quite interesting’ may not capture the most enthusiastic responses, and I’m a historian, so I know I should care. I do, but how often will one return to such a release? I don’t know.
New is also the name of Kirk Markarian, also known as Neuro… No Neuro, from Tucson, Arizona. He’s also a painter, abstract animated videographer and graphic designer. The story behind this album is another long quote warning, “based upon thin slices of memory, and the disintegration of their existence. The day-to-day, with its ‘ups and downs’, all while operating/existing above and to the right of the body. When the day ends and the separated person is reunited, how does one collect what is no longer there? Separating consciousness from the corporeal. Memory and thought are being swept out to sea in granules that are imperceptible to those around you. Short-term is riddled with inconsistencies. Say “so long” to the granules.” No instruments are mentioned on the cover, but granular synthesis springs to mind, cutting and pitching sounds, adding a plethora of other sounds to the mix. There is a bit of drone here and a slice of rhythm there (slices perhaps, uneven, also part of the granular process). Maybe at some point in time, this would have been clicks ‘n cuts, glitch music, without too many discernable dance beats; the music here is too broken up and fragmented to have such an organised form. There are many variations that Markarian explores in this music: jazzy, introspective, heavily chopped dance rhythms, drones, and not always for the best. Some of this doesn’t grow beyond the stage of a try-out, sketching possibilities, all under the guise of glitch and cut-up. There are many apps on your iPad/tablet that can do similar things to Neuro… No Neuro does here, and with editing, you can get similar results; I think there is quite a do-it-yourself thing in this release. Try this at home! (FdW)
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Even when Laaps is very active with releases, this may be the first time they bundle two new releases in one promo parcel. The piano is an essential instrument in both.
First, there is a trio release by Bill Seamn (piano, ebow guitar, analogue synth, DX7, non-location recordings (whatever that is – FdW), micro rhythms, sample arrangements, glass harmonica samples and drones), Tim Diagram (guitar, synth, location recordings, noise drones, and sample arrangements) and Stephen Spera (synth, vocal arrangements, location recordings, Wollensaack reel-to-reel, CD Radio, sample arrangements and historical vocal recordings). Spera and Seaman worked together before (Vital Weekly 1335); Tim Diagram has nothing to do with the Diagram brothers but works in a similar field of moody electronics, ambient and sound art. I don’t know if, for this album, they sat together in one space, working on the music, or if this is another case of file exchange. I believe the latter. Maybe it is within the nature of ambient music that working remotely delivers results that can be mistaken for people playing music in the same space, but maybe that is a negative approach. Despite the many instruments these three people use, the album sounds remarkably minimal. Lots of atmospherical suggestions by ditto suggestive sounds, some spoken words here and there, which, I am unsure, is something we should try to understand. Sometimes, an instrument takes a more prominent role, the piano most likely, adding a melodic touch to the music. It’s music that aims to please, even when some sounds used a slightly grittier, granulated and even mildly distorted. It remains a work of ambient music, so it is as quickly liked as ignored, and the big-time atmosphere remains intact. If anything, I’d say this is very much in the area of K. Leimer and Marc Barreca, sharing a similar density and, pleasing clarity and musical approaches, which is a rare combination.
I am unsure if going straight to the Iu Takahashi CD is a good idea. Not because her work is any less than the trio disc, but maybe because of an overlap in sound. If I had started with her release, I would have said the same but reversed. I don’t think I heard her previous work, even when ‘Sense/Margin’ is her sixth album. Unlike the trio disc, the music is relatively sparse here. You could read into that because Takahashi is alone, which equals minimalism, but we all know that’s not true. The piano plays a more prominent role here than in the other new one. I can imagine that she first builds a web of small sounds, using computerised glitches, shards of sound and dislocated bleeps, and when that’s ready, she plays the piano on top of that. It’s not purely melodic, in the same that is very hip these days, but slightly more abstract and, I believe (not being particularly well-versed in the whole of Eunadi and cohorts) sparser. In Vital Weekly, Takahashi’s music ranks as melodic, but who knows, in the real world? Takahashi works a lot with stretching sounds but remains a light touch, floating in the air like dew drops on a spring morning. Her tracks take time, quite a bit, but it’s time well-used. She’s not into all too-strict compositions but goes rather intuitively around, putting her sounds where she thinks they sound in the right place. With some of her seemingly randomised processing, the music, as ambient as it is, is full of small surprises. This album is excellent; it is well-produced, nothing earth-shattering new, just great mood music for the darkest of days. (FdW)
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My introduction to this Spanish duo, consisting of Pelayo Arrizabalaga (record players, electronics, clarinet) and Eli Gras (sound engines and electric guitar). ‘Aridos’ is their second release. They both have quite some history in experimental and improvised music, but I have not heard of many names before (Trio Frontton, Clonicos, Orgon, Motor Combo, The Shower Sisters). The nine songs/pieces/tracks, spanning forty-three minutes, make up a strange record. The opening piece reminded me of ‘Four Organs’ by Steve Reich, especially the maraca shaker. This was followed by the heavily improvised piece of ‘Grava Tecnoca’, with its slowed-down percussion and clarinet. There are also wildly electronic pieces; thus, the album crosses many boundaries, but it kept me in fascination. While not every improvised music on this album was up to my taste, I enjoyed the combination of more musique concrète-like techniques they also employ to create this wild ride. The improvisation becomes subject to the studio-as-instrument, and that works pretty well. The improvisations are deconstructed, but not in the entire form; there always remains a skeleton audible within these pieces, enhancing this record’s more traditional musical side. It’s a strange record, but maybe that is all too easy; strangeness should be the operative word for Vital Weekly. I think there is something quite old-fashioned about this, and how that works I found very hard to classify; for some odd reason, this CD could be a privately pressed record from the 1970s. It’s precisely the wonderfully weird, in-between boundaries, not confined to one specific musical genre. Not one to get an easy grip on, and that’s exactly why I like it. (FdW)
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In general, I am not the biggest fan of the saxophone, especially when it goes all wild and chaotic. None of that is on Kasper T. Toeplitz’s new composition, ‘Érosions Programmées’, which gets a performance by the composer on live electronics and Bertrand Gauguet on alto and baritone saxophone. Nothing wild and chaotic, but also nothing noise-based, which is something, perhaps wrongly, that springs to mind when I think about Toeplitz’s solo music, which I would easily label as ‘noise’. Even when it’s noise with some considerable thought and dynamics, it’s not your standard blast. Technically, I couldn’t tell how this composition works; maybe Toeplitz picks up phrases played by Gauguet and lets these play along with real-time saxophone playing. Perhaps there is an entirely different process at the heart of this; whatever it is, it works very well. There is a prolonged build-up, going steady for about thirty-three minutes, and then they let go but return quickly with a much quicker crescendo, which also seems to be using more of the electronic side of the music. The music is steady-on minimal, adding layer upon layer, and the saxophone becomes a massive sound carpet. It is more organ-like than saxophone-like at the peak of the piece, and the whole thing is a beauty. It is a bit similar to the work of Phill Niblock, except Toeplitz uses the dynamic range (soft-loud) more effectively or, rather, differently. Quite a surprise this piece; for me, because it uses an instrument that is not among my favourites, but that’s private stuff; more importantly, it is for Toeplitz a work that we don’t hear often from him, and for someone like me, more drone-head than noise mind, a most welcome departure; if it is a departure at all, of course. Highly recommended. (FdW)
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This is not the first time these three people have worked together. Laurent Petitgand is a long-time collaborator of director Wim Wenders (something I wasn’t aware of), Thierry Merigout, who is behind the Geins’t Naït Monniker and Robin Rimbaud, best known as Scanner. In Vital Weekly 1373, I reviewed their ‘Ola’ CD, and before that, the French contingent released ‘Je Vous Dit’ (Vital Weekly 964). This time, they dispense from all too-rhythmic material and keep it within the realm of atmospheric sounds. More synthesisers, and I am guessing of the modular variety, along with sampled fragments of whatever sound they can find. These can be voices, a bit of ethnic percussion, or maybe some field recordings. I sometimes thought this was more akin to a concept album, with pieces flowing from one into the next but without having too much of an all-encompassing theme. Some of this has a rather ‘live’ feeling, but I can’t find evidence they recorded this in a concert space. It sometimes has that interaction; more than one can reach with a file sharing, but maybe I am mistaken. While atmospherics play an essential role in this release, it’s not always quiet and reflective. In ‘Italia Scan LP2’, a wild rhythm is unleashed upon the listener before slipping back into the darker mood again. The influence of Geins’t Naït is perhaps more in this part, the darker sampled rhythm stuff, whereas Petitgand and Scanner are more responsible for the moody synthesiser stuff. The way the various pieces are sequenced makes it feel like a trip, going from a quiet place to somewhere with more action and ending in solitude again. Like before, this is a great album I enjoyed even more than the previous one. Something that has to do with the overall feeling of the record, everything more connected, or so it seems. (FdW)
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That fantastic Irish label Krim Kram has a special place for something that I, perhaps too easily, label as outsider music. Maybe Usurper feels differently, as they had releases on Kovorox Sound, Giant Tank, Sick Head, Unverified Records, Harbinger Sound and so on, reeking of very much ‘being on the inside’. Before, I had not heard of this duo, consisting of Ali Robertson and Malcy Duff, from Edinburgh, Scotland. I understand that ‘The Big Two’ is their parting shot after twenty years of musical activity. Their swansong is my introduction, so I have no idea how this fits in with their previous work. Listening to these sixteen pieces, I imagine two guys behind a table filled with objects and a single microphone. Bits of metal, plastic, wood, household objects, ping pong balls, cups and glasses, the newspaper, and they stroke, touch, hit, and scratch, producing non-consecutive sounds. They sometimes add voice material, spoken word, poetry-like or non-sense; I don’t know how much of this is serious or more a joke. I think it’s a combination of both. If anything, this music is about the love of creating music with the simplest means. Call it musique concrète but without any electronic components. Call it sound poetry and mixed. Or, as the label does, Fluus performance art and absurdist theatre, which, of course, is also a possibility. At forty-three minutes, I think I had enough of this; more would have been too much and less not enough. The proper length for such demanding acoustic madness. (FdW)
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Limited to 100 copies, this LP by the duo Group Material (also on cassette by Slug Sputter). They are Eric Sanchez (guitar, bass, vocals, piano, field recordings) and Avalon Kalin (guitar, synthesizer, bass, engineer, producer). As this is their first release, it’s also my introduction to their music; I didn’t hear other work by either. What I listen to I like a lot. There are four pieces, each around eight minutes, and ‘ambient’ is the best word to describe the music, and they play it from a more post-rock-like perspective. Maybe because they use guitar and piano, the music has a more melodic touch, but with the electronics on the side, they also create more drone-like textures. And these are highly unstable and wavering, making it all much more lo-fi and hazy. Each of the pieces has a minimalist development, be it with the strumming of the guitar in ‘The Clean Flame Of Joy’ or the wind/field recordings of ‘Earth Poem’, with shimmering guitars, again minimally played. Each piece is a slow, melancholy drift. I know it’s winter time, at least on this side of the equator; it’s cold, days are short, and there’s that forced seasonal bullshit, which for the ever-sentimental soul, makes this music filled with beautiful sadness. How does the music sound work when there’s a mild breeze, full sunshine, and a mild 20 degrees outside? Ask me again when that happens. Their record ends with ‘Nothings’, which is the group’s most brutal piece, even when still very civilized, of mildly distorted tones, combining a bit of Sandoz Lab Technicians and Windy & Carl if you could believe such a thing could exist. It is mildly distorted, so this piece remains firmly in ambient land because of its melodic guitar ending, like the rest of the record, and this LP is the perfect soundtrack for sipping a glass of wine at twilight time. Something for every lone soul during Christmas time. The critical question is, obviously, why are there only 100 copies of this beauty? This calls for a repress or a CD reissue, preferably with bonus material. (FdW)
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EGIL KALMAN – FOREST OF TINES (2LP by Ideal Recordings)

On a few previous occasions, I heard the music by Egil Kalman, mostly with others, but now all solo and I still have no idea who or what concerning his work. From 21 October to 7 November 2021, he was a guest at the Elektronmusikstudion, better known as EMS, in Stockholm to play the extensive Buchla 200 system. This machine and a recording device sit in studio 4 (if I recall correctly). There’s nothing else. Usually, people sit down to record sounds, bring these home and start to play around with them. Maybe because Kalman had more days at his disposal, he captured all tracks live, one as a dry recording and one through a spring reverb. One of my grips against the modular synthesiser world, especially when people share clips online, is that it looks fancy and usually faintly bleeps. Where’s the composition? I have no idea if that is something Kalman also had in mind, but the twenty pieces on his double LP are indeed just that: compositions. Kalman goes the whole yard, from more abstract and rone-like bits to much more melodic pieces. According to the information, he uses traditional melodies on ‘Blågeten’ and ‘Polska’. They form exciting intermezzos, but as the album houses mostly shortish pieces anyway, the music has quite some speed. It never stays in the same place for very long. Because of the sheer musical variety, the album is a true beauty. Cosmic synths, bubbles and arpeggios, modern abstraction, and suddenly, a more pop-like tune, with sequencing and all. From some personal experience, the Buchla isn’t an easy-to-handle machine, but Kalman is patient and skilful and extracted some great music from this machine. Even within a little over two weeks, this seems an enormous task. The only track I thought was a bit out of place was ‘Drums’, in which he feeds real drumming into the machines and breaks the carefully constructed all-electronic spell. Otherwise, it’s a great one. (FdW)
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Unsure if Ikki Books is a sub-division of Laaps (see elsewhere), vice versa, or not at all, which is also possible. Ikki Books is a massive project; each release includes a photo book and a choice of LP or CD. The latter has an additional track, but that’s also part of the download with the LP. With the delicacy of the music, digital or CD would be something I prefer, but the additional vinyl crackles will no doubt be a welcome feature in this music.
First, the book contains photographic work by Edouard Elias, partly from Egypt and French. His camera documents memories to become historical documents. His photobook shows pictures from the Mediterranean world, the Eastern part of it, the world of refugee camps, and boats at sea and throughout; it’s poignant but also has (so I believe) a political message: why do we allow this to happen? And ‘this’ is refugees, war, famine, and poverty. These are some solid and robust images in full colour, so we don’t miss out on any details.
As for the music, let me start at the end: this is an excellent record, let there be no doubt about it. Akio Takahashi hails from Kobe, Japan, and since 2022, she has worked under her real name, as she released music under other names in 2020. Her music leans heavily on field recordings and treated instruments, primarily the piano, but maybe also percussion instruments. The music is delicate and vulnerable, on the verge of breaking altogether. Music that just as quickly would have fit on Laapsbut now joined by a photobook. The cover says this is the result of a dialogue between Takahashi and Elias, but also, that’s not a concept, nor does it want to be. “This album was born as a long-lasting sound continuum. It was then cut, stitched together and reassembled to give shape and restore unity from the fragments to have an album that shows its completeness halfway between the titles and the compositions themselves”. Reading this, listening to the music and looking at the pictures gives me a strange feeling. Obviously, I am sitting at home, in my quiet, well-to-do neighbourhood, not being rich or poor, hungry or threatened by war, and it’s straightforward to enjoy such wonderful music; music that seems to be made for such environments as I find myself in, quiet and relaxed. Perhaps not the kind of music people in refugee camps could relate to, but I am the first to say: I don’t know. They might enjoy it and need soothing ambient music, but it’s not the soundtrack of harsh reality. In that respect, I have some trouble with this otherwise beautiful release; it’s the dialogue that I don’t understand. Maybe the title says it all; it could have been a beautiful morning. It could have been, but was it a beautiful morning? (FdW)
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MODELBAU – HONOURS (10″ Lathe by Spaltung)
MODELBAU – KOPF AB (CDr by Licht-Ung)

No, again, I am not going to introduce Modelbau to you. It’s Frans, and you all know that. But you don’t know that on the final day of 2023, I got two new releases to review in my mailbox! What a way to end 2023. This last month, I could hardly work and was definitely unable to make music myself due to a broken humerus. So, to be able to write again and write about some nice music was a very nice way to close my activities this year.
The first one is a 10″ lathe in a limited edition of 21 on the Licht-Ung sublabel Spaltung. A 10″ means that if done properly, it will fit approximately 10 minutes per side, which is the case here. The plastic contains some very deep sounds with which Modelbau proves to be one of the masters of LoFi ambient. The tracks are untitled, so I’m just diving in here …
Damn, this is some minimal stuff here, wow. The layering on these tracks is meticulously done. There is movement in the lows, mids and highs, and even though there is a discrepancy in the origin of the movements, they all sync perfectly and form a gorgeous drone. And that is done on both sides. So I’ll just describe this review as “If you want to start 2024 with a bang, don’t think twice as this item will sell out within a few days after publication.
One thing that is super weird for me is this: ‘Normally,’ when I listen to drones of this kind, I lose track of time, and a ten-minute piece will come to me afterwards as “This was only ten minutes? Seemed way longer!” But the tracks on “Honours” made me check the time after a few minutes because I simply couldn’t believe they were still playing. So after four minutes, I checked, and the needle wasn’t even halfway there!!! I think it has something to do with the movement of sounds in the lower regions. The small pulsation there somehow messes with the perspective of time in a way that I never noticed before. Very, very well done this one.
The second Modelbau is on Spaltung’s mother label, Licht-Ung, labels operated by Milan Sandbleistift. He not only releases some great music but also makes it himself, and he organizes really amazing events in Leverkusen. Check the links at the bottom and invest some time exploring his activities.
But back to why we’re here, Modelbau’s “Kopf Ab”. A 40-minute CDr in an edition of 31, so when you are ordering the 10″ lathe, you might as well include a copy of this one, too, because it will save you on postage, and you will want to have this one too. The two releases are really entirely different. Where “Honours” was fragile in nature, “Kopf Ab” is like a harsh ambient structure that relentlessly penetrates your mind. The seed of the drone is planted in your brain, and in 20 minutes, it changes ever so slowly into, well, silence. Throbbing, pulsating, mixed into the front of the audio spectrum. And that’s just the first piece! The second piece follows the same road but is a bit less outspoken in the choice of sounds. So don’t get me wrong, it’s still a beauty, but I think I kinda fell in love with that first piece.
As said in the beginning of the review, what a bloody fukkin great way to end 2023. And for you guys and girls to start 2024! (BW)
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It’s been a while since I last heard a flexi disc from Michael Esposito. Usually, he teams up with others, Jochen Arbeit, Scanner, CM von Hauswolff, but this time with Patrick Esposito, who might be his father, son, cousin, brother, or perhaps have no relation. The flexi disc comes with an LSD-like perforated cover by Zane Kesey, son of Merry Prankster Ken Kesey, on acid-free paper. There is/was also a version of this Flexi disc and CDR for Radical Matters, but I understand this is a re-issue.
“The Manteno State Hospital (1927 – 1985), located in rural Manteno Township, Kankakee County, Illinois”, is the place used to find EVP recordings, the sounds from beyond, the death or whatever your preferred nomenklatura for such matters is. In this hospital, LSD was used to treat the inmates (not my word, but Esposito’s). These EVP recordings are permanently embedded within the music, which this time is some guitar strumming and effects, chorus, flanger phasers, etc. I can only assume these instruments were chosen for the psychedelic qualities to add a hippie-like element to the music. It’s more spacious and jamming than two tight compositions. Still, nevertheless, they form an excellent backdrop for the EVP vocals, slightly treated, I’d say, to morph and transform, adding another layer of psychedelics to the music. It’s weird, mind-bending stuff, and on the Flexi disc format, there are more floatations than on a regular record over time and after repeated playing. One of my favourite formats! (FdW)
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+DOG+ – X10 (CDR by Love Earth Music)

Recorded in Massachusetts probably earlier in 2023, I am currently listening to the tenth instalment of the X-series of +DOG+. As I started reviewing the X-series as of ‘X6’, you already know that +DOG+ is Steve Davis, label owner of Love Earth Music, and he loves to experiment with noises and effects. And each “X” is a combination of tracks with a certain link/concept between the tracks. This time, the link between the tracks is ‘elements’, so let’s see if we can listen and come up with some excellent connections.
The release opens with ‘Helium’, a short track with high-pitched vocals. I’d almost say, of course, because we all know why. Then ‘Boron’ hits the speakers for one minute and a bit. Massive harsh noise in spurts, no HNW, but incredibly heavy and sharp sounds. ‘Beryllium’ is a beautiful minimal drone ambience with scarce sounds. Probably, the minimalism is a link to the material being so rare. The fourth track is again a short one, and again a noble gas “Neon” with small outbursts with lots of reverb, as the gas lights up in an electric field perhaps.
‘Fluorine’ must be my favourite with ‘Beryllium’; it has the same minimalist approach, but fewer sounds fill the emptiness. Then there is a second short “Helium” interlude because playing with Helium is fun! The final track of this little over 50-minute release is “Lithium”; as with lithium, I get mixed feelings here. The ambience is beautiful, but the sounds used are quite distorted. So, it sort of fits with lithium salts being used to treat bipolar disorders. But as I’ve talked about with Steve in private, this is all just a personal interpretation of what I’m served as your humble reviewer. On towards X11 !! (BW)
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