Number 1419

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Week 2

ORPHAX – STRUCTURE (CD, private) *
STRUPPIG SCHWEBEN 26.11.22 (CD compilation by Licht-ung) *
ARV & MILJÖ – SAMLING (2CD by Krim Kram) *
BRUNO DUPLANT & PRIMOŽ BONČINA – UN ÉTÉ SANS FIN (CD by Cloudchamber Recordings) *
IVY NOSTRUM – PACE-DELVE (CDR by Chocolate Monk) *
MAR NEGRO – NERISSIMO (CDR by Swing Albino) *
VARIOUS_FIELDMICE_ESVB_VOL_1 (cassette by Radio Mulot)
VARIOUS_FIELDMICE_ESVB_VOL_2 (cassette by Radio Mulot)
VARIOUS_FIELDMICE_ESVB_VOL_3 (cassette by Radio Mulot)
LENA/QUARTZ LOCKED – A FUR PIECE (cassette by Radio Mulot) *


A new year needs new music. And each year, I start with a little list that might become part of the ‘top releases’ list I intend to do. And each year, I forget to make that list … But I do know that in the last two years, almost every review of solo work by Orphax, a.k.a. Sietse van Erve, ended with a remark it was going to be included in the list. So, this year, I’m doing it partially differently. I’ll start the review by saying it will definitely be on this year’s list, and I’ll probably still forget about making that list … But my oh my, this drone is a work of beauty.
Reminiscent of the works by H30, T.A.G.C., Eliane Radigue and some more masters of drone, “Structure” has a significant build-up, some excellent play with feedback patterns, a few melody lines, microtonal structures (slightly detuned oscillators creating that ‘floating’ effect) and basically a lot of emotion behind it.
It’s a structure to enable the channelling of feelings. See the structure as a building where each room has a different therapist, and with each therapist, you get to talk about something you love, something bothering you, or something which hurts you, or even talk about someone you miss. Whatever your personal interpretation might be. You get to travel through the building and go through all those emotions; that is, “Structure”.
The second track on this album is the so-called Radio Edit. An – almost – five-minute re-arrangement of the sounds resulted in an outburst of every emotion you first had enough time to give a place. Very well done and, by the way, also perfectly mastered by Jos Smolders at EarLabs.
One thing, though, it’s just too short. Hence, the comparison with the therapists. When I visited mine I was always told ‘your time is up, see you next week’ and I had the feeling I was just starting! Many of the experiments I heard in the track could have easily been explored a bit further to make it more mesmerising and open to exploring the mind while listening. Because that’s what drones are for me: An enabler for mind travel. And even when this is a wonderful trip, I would have wanted to travel a bit longer. Still the Top material for 2024, though 😉 (BW)
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STRUPPIG SCHWEBEN 26.11.22 (CD compilation by Licht-ung)

About once or twice a year you can head out to Leverkusen in Germany, where the Licht-ung labels puts on a small festival, which always results into a CD release. Each festival has the word ‘struppig’, meaning ‘shaggy’, followed by another word, such as ‘Mahlen’ (painting, Vital Weekly 1405) and ‘Droehnen’ (droning, Vital Weekly 1323). November 26, 2022 it was time for ‘schweben’, floating. It’s unclear to wht extent the musicians keep the title in mind. Every night has four or five artists/groups, meaning they have quite some space to fill on the CD. Only in the vase of Killer + Licht-ung (also a musical concern, next to the label), we deal with a live recording; or, perhaps, we don’t hear it with the other pieces. The CD starts with the for me unknown quantatity of Les Marquises, of which Discogs says “Les Marquises is a French experimental pop band founded by Jean-Sébastien Nouveau in 2010”, yet Nouveau is the only member. He has a lovely piece of slow drones, presumably recorded with guitars, loopers and effects and the whole thing is a beautiful gorgoeus, slow-evolving piece of drone music, with, surprisingly, also percussion. Very atmospheric, and also very musical, a great piece and certainly a band to hear more work from. Troum is next up and one could say the big stars of the evening, along with Andrew Liles. Their piece might also be more of a microphone recording, judging by the quality, and shows them doing what they do best, playing moody and spacious music, which could maybe use a bit more definition, but is a damn fine piece. Killer + Licht-ung’s piece is called ‘Jeans Beast (irgedwo & unvermittelt), which may have something to do with the musician Jeans Beast, also known as Julian Flemming, but I have no idea what. Their piece is also based around drones, but contains a most curious form of percussion, sounding like moving around objects (chairs?) in the performance space. The drones are generated by guitars and feedback and grow in intensity. Andrew Liles is the only that doesn’t play the pure drone card but has four quite different sections. Opening with piano music, hard strums rather than gently playing, and some obscured samples, slowly morphing into a drone/organ piece with more schwung. More synthesisers in the third part, ending with a pulse beat and voice from TV/film. It’s the sort of thing we’d expect from Liles; soundtrack-like, collage, a bit of a cut-up and an altogether different kind of atmospheres, delivering the goods as expected. (FdW)
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ARV & MILJÖ – SAMLING (2CD by Krim Kram)

Even when I reviewed music by Arv & Miljö before, I don’t think I know much about this music project. Maybe I didn’t ‘research’ it adequately enough in the past (Vital Weekly 1024, 1057 and 1093). Still, I do know it’s not a duo but the musical project of Matthias Andersson, who also runs the I Dischi Del Barone label (which made me realise I haven’t seen any new release from that label in a while, even when still alive and kicking). This double CD is a reissue of a previous double cassette release from Archivio Diafonico, and ‘Samling’ means ‘collection’; in this case, it collects pieces from various early cassette releases from this musical project. I know nothing about the ways Anderson’s musical production was done. I think a lot of it has to do with using cassettes to store sounds and play them back in ways that alter the music significantly. Sometimes, this results in some ear-splitting noise music of the old-school noise variety and a bit of power electronics distortion. It is a great reminder of my younger days when I first heard this kind of noise, but I find the true power of Arv & Miljö in their more subdued, lo-fi textures, mainly with manipulated field recordings and crude drones from broken organs. Pieces such as ‘Del Mesta Regnar Bort’ and ‘2415 Dagar’ with their muddy, closed sound, all hermetically closed but as atmospheric and intense as possible. It’s quite a lot of music altogether, and because of its heavy weight, it’s not an easy listen, but it’s essential if you’re into their more obscured older releases. (FdW)
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For a short while, things were quiet concerning Bruno Duplant, but here he teams up with Primož Bončina, a guitarist from Slovenia. I know Bončina ‘s work is moody and atmospheric, yet also playing music with some considerable sonic force. On this new CD, he still plays the guitar and field recordings, while Duplant plays something obscurely described as ‘natural and electronic devices’. Duplant, too, plays atmospheric music but is more subdued. It’s a pity that we aren’t informed how the music was and who is responsible for the final mix, assuming that it wasn’t the two of them behind a mixing board or computer. In the two lengthy pieces, we hear more of a Duplant approach than a Bončina one. The title means ‘an endless summer’, which, maybe, has to do with the fact that the music was recorded last summer. It’s released in the winter, and I think it’s music fitting the season. Dark and ominous, with lots of birds Twitter, Bončina playing his guitar loosely, not continuously strumming, but playing his notes rather sparsely, and very occasionally, it all leaps into something of the old Bončina. Whatever Duplant does is a mystery to me. But after playing this a few times, I think it can also be the sound of the summer: a sort of late evening, cool breeze after a hot day sort of stretching out into the night; the guitar playing at times wind-chime notes, an irregular form of percussion. If you get my drift, it’s all about the big-time atmosphere here, whatever the season or time of the day. It’s interesting to hear a slightly more reduced Bončina on guitar, an attractive diversification of his solo work. As for Duplant, he does what he does best, and that’s playing the most obscure sounds and whatever it is; it works, as always, very well. (FdW)
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Founded in 1984, Kapotte Muziek (meaning broken or damaged music in Dutch and a term coined by the father of Frans de Waard, describing the music Frans listened to at home) was a solo project by Frans de Waard. He published his first outing on a cassette called Raw Sounds Vol. 1. He distributed them to 10 other groups/artists to use in their own music. Nine returned and were released on Korm Plastics as Death Pact International – Terror Leads To Better Days. This was to be the original method of making music. Later, Christian Nijs provided the raw materials for Frans to use for manipulation. Frans invited several artists to work with provided materials in the following years. Merzbow, Asmus Tietchens, TAC and Schimpfluch are just a few who reworked or deconstructed the materials. Meanwhile, Christian Nijs left to pursue other musical endeavours. Fast forward to 1993. A US tour was organized, and Peter Duimelinks joined the ranks of Kapotte Muziek. Each concert uses found materials found on that day and gets the Kapotte Muziek treatment: finding workable auditive qualities of the found objects using microphones and contact microphones. Sometimes, a local radio station is thrown in for good measure. More of their history can be found at, a blog celebrating 25 years of Kapotte Muziek (which also includes since 1995 Roel Meelkop). On to ‘Discon’, their latest release: 13 pieces distilled from 13 concerts spanning 20 odd years and only April, August and September are missing in the months of recorded concerts. Frans edited (cut, paste and superimposition) the music from each featured concert, which is also the title of each piece. So, this retrospective of Kapotte Muziek uses the same technique of Kapotte Muziek: distilling sounds and using them to create a specific summary of that specific concert. And what a retrospective it is. Since this was all improvised by three individuals, the approach’s consistency and sound quality are impressive. I don’t know how much the superimposition (layering of sounds from that concert) affects the tracks’ denseness. All tracks are within the three or four-minute mark. Some have rhythmic implications because of a voice that’s treated from the radio; I believe a bowl is used for generating sound, and the same bowl is still used. All frequencies, relatively low ones for drone and rumbling purposes, and the opposite highest piercing ones. It all makes for a very enjoyable listening experience. Although not on a high volume with headphones. Reader soon to become listener : be aware ! I believe the aim here is for textures, and it works well. These three musicians, performers, and artists blend the available material they made themselves into a relaxing mix. You can put this on in the background or listen intently and attentively to this. Just go with the flow. As I haven’t heard much of Kapotte Muziek yet, this is a magnificent introduction to their music. And yes, I would call this music: Kapotte Muziek. But Kapotte Muziek that’s beautiful in its own right. All parameters of music are here: timbre, texture, rhythm, melody (albeit implied), beat (not in the strictest sense of the word), harmony, structure, tempo, pitch and dynamics. It would be interesting if someone from Kapotte Muziek made a similar compilation of their vast archive of live recordings. (MDS)
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Back in 2012, Natascha Muslera founded a mixed choir (male and female voices) with blind people and people who can see and everything in between. They developed a system without written scores in those 11, now 12 years. Hints of Ligeti (think Atmosphères in the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack), ambient recordings of Marseille, the home town of the choir, the forest and colloquial conversations (a hilarious dialogue in ‘Objet IV’: a blind person (as I imagine) saying tu vois (you see), about objects around the house that move, my French is not good enough to understand everything). What is also in the arsenal of the choir is mimicking insects, birds, and natural exotic surroundings (object V) in general. The choir did a tour in Japan, and some Japanese were also thrown in for good measure. In ‘Objet VI’, snippets of songs appear: George Brassens’ ‘Les copains d’abord’ floats by, for instance, and My Bonnie lies over the ocean. In the last ‘objet’, the choir mimics seagulls over a humming vocal drone that slowly changes pitch. Overall, what Muslera composed and the mixed choir delivered are pretty impressive. The choir sounds homogeneous, essential to pull off this kind of music and inhomogeneous if necessary. I sang in a few choirs in the past. Believe me, not every choir can do this. In short, listening for people who want a different kind of choir with superb delivery is essential. (MDS)
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De Fabriek Records & Tapes is a label that releases mainly music by the Dutch group De Fabriek. Historically, there have also been releases by Mark Lane, RTC or Gen Ken Montgomery, and now there is Dimitris Gerokonstantis, who is not yet on Discogs and of which Bandcamp says that he’s “from Greece delivering a singer-songwriter album filled with intimate songs”. The music is mixed by Peter van Vliet (a long time ago, a member of Mekanik Kommando) at his Temple Studio. I know I must keep an open mind when reviewing music, but I wonder why De Fabriek mailed me this. A man, a voice and a guitar. How often do I write about that? What do I know about singer-songwriters? You may be surprised, but in all 58 years, I have never played an LP by Bob Dylan, nor can I think of many albums I have heard of men singing songs and playing the guitars. At one point, I heard all of Nick Drake’s records, but it’s not where my musical interest lies. I can’t ‘judge’ this; I have no frame of reference, and I have no idea if these lyrics are any good, interesting, spooky, as, and this should be no surprise, I am never bothered by lyrics and never know what they are about. Another mystery is why the album is about forty-four minutes and why it is one four-minute song on an extra CDR? I have no idea, but much like the album, it all remains a mystery to me. Maybe the whole point of sending me one is to get the word out that this is available, and as such, these words, much unhelpful as they are, should do the trick. (FdW)
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It’s an accessible admittance: I never followed Keiji Haino’s work, not out of no interest, but because it rarely reaches me. I met him in Japan and saw him perform some wild vocal and guitar music, and I liked his approach. Perhaps that’s what’s made me like this new double CD with Norway’s Guro Moe, bass player of MoE. When they entered the studio, Haio was supposed to play the drums and Moe the octobass, but they let go of that strict concept when they started to use their voices, too. Like many other things I can only endure small doses of, this is perhaps my improvised moment of this week’s issue. Maybe I would have passed had not been with Haino for a couple of days back then in Japan. It’s the sort of improvisation that I enjoy but couldn’t play all day, every day. There is some wild drumming without, it seems, any tight signature, scraping and bowing of the bass, screaming, whispering and mayhem throughout, even in the album’s quieter moments. The music never stays in the same place, bouncing up and down and rocking at times. It is not easy, even when the first disc is only thirty-one minutes and the second forty minutes (yes, that could have been on one CD). This forty-minute ride is a pretty tiring one. But much like I felt after Haino’s Brief performances in Japan, there is a sense of cleansing with the listener, a purge, if you will. (FdW)
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IVY NOSTRUM – PACE-DELVE (CDR by Chocolate Monk)

In terms of sheer persistence, going against various grains is the UK label Chocolate Monk. They go back some thirty years now, releasing cassettes when they were not ‘hot’ at all, and an extensive portion of their catalogue is CDR releases, a medium that I like and which, I think, isn’t ‘hot’ either. Points Of Friction’s release is the 600th release on the label (or instead graced with catalogue number choc.600), and maybe that’s the reason why this is a pro-pressed CD. They were a four-piece group (Joseph Hammer, Mitchell Brown, Tim Alexander and Damian Bisciglia; the latter passed away in 2012), having started in 1980. These recordings are from late 2011. It’s hard to believe, but this is the group’s fourth release. There is little information on the cover, and Seymour Glass’ text on the label’s firmly under-designed website mentions the presence of tape loops, a synthesiser, lots of objects, prepared instruments, toys, ‘hot-wired and damaged goods’, and it says sessions individually recorded and played back and made decisions as what is a finished piece or not. If that’s how it worked, I am unsure of the exact process. The music is relatively free fall of sounds, mostly loosely connected and sometimes held together by one or two threads, loops, some feedback or a drone of some kind. The music doesn’t force itself upon the listener; it’s a continuous stream of sound, more or less on a similar dynamic level, but with many changes within due to the multiple sound sources they use. The music is very much improvised, but with the studio as the instrument holding it all together, it is a different kind of musique concrète, if you will. It is a most enjoyable release, with some wonderfully weird and powerful music, relaxing yet full of just below-the-surface tension, occasionally erupting.
The other four new releases by Chocolate Monk are all on CDR. I started with one that I instantly recognised, a name that is. Diurnal Burdens is Ross Scott-Buccleuch, one of the half Liminal Haze and Steep Gloss label bosses. He plays “Nobsrine, Kastle 1.5 looper, passive ring mod, dictaphone, sampler, modular processing and effects pedals” on the five pieces he recorded with Matt Atkins, a busy bee both solo and in collaboration, and he plays “cassette recorders, looper, objects and field recordings”. Their solo work specialises in putting forward obscured atmospherical sounds of the more hazy and lo-fi variety, music that is right up my alley. None of the field recordings are easily recognised, and it doesn’t matter. Fed through some electronics and looped with a low-resolution sampler guarantees that the result is a crumpled sound, like a piece of paper, and if you unfold the paper, you see what’s on there. By listening extensively to the music, you can unfold it, and while you may not recognise what it is, you may understand it a bit better. During each of the five pieces, the music unfolds slowly, allowing the listener to adjust and think of his own story and get a picture of what it is. These two musicians play the mood card and do so very well. The music is darkish, ghostly and has a nocturnal feeling; maybe I am thinking of this while I write these words at that time of the day, when day turns to night and has that hazy view of the road just about visible.
I had not heard of Marija Kovačević before, but Roro Perrot, I know. Mostly from his work as Vomir, but he’s active under many guises and has a strong interest in breaking musical boundaries. One of them is a sort of outsider take on improvisation, and to that end, he organises ‘Broken Impro’ soirées at Le Chair de Poule in Paris. It’s here where the two met and quickly went into the studio to record their action. It isn’t easy to describe this kind of improvisation and why it is more outsider-like than your regular improvisation. Perhaps it’s not my kind of territory anyway. The instruments are a guitar and broken violins; maybe there is an effect pedal, like a delay, but more so in the second piece than the first. The first piece is all out scratch and scrape affair, of sounds galore, but curiously, never sounding too chaotic or loud. They are more of a gentle crash-and-burn, perhaps obeying laws of improvisation more than they want to. The second has an ongoing delay pedal effect, adding a more lo-fi drone-like aspect to the music. Everything takes too much time, but I guess that’s the charm of this kind of sufficient weirdo thing.
Who or what has Ivy Nostrum is not explained anywhere. The cover lists the two titles of the pieces, plus “objects, tapes, cheap effects pedals, electronics, sampler, chord organ and guitar”, and online, it says, “Cack-handed minimalism, amateur improvisation, barely passable sound art. Some of these things have been ripening for a while. Others are new flowerings. Somewhere between points of departure and dead-end streets”, for whatever it is worth. The amateur part is a bit lost on me, as I think these are two beautiful compositions, blending found sound, melodic bits, obscured field recordings from around the house, organ-like minimalism, spoke a word and such like together, resulting in slightly lo-fi, part menacing pieces of music. Sometimes, there’s a hard cut in the middle of a piece, and it continues with something completely different, almost as if two separate pieces of tape are stuck together. Strange as that may sound, it all works wonderfully well together. At twenty-seven minutes, sadly, on the short side of things, I wouldn’t have minded hearing another one.
Even a bit shorter is the release by Karen Constance, the partner of label boss Dylan Nyoukis and member of Blood Stereo. I am unsure if I reviewed her solo work (HS did in Vital Weekly 1227). Here, too, we have something resolutely lo-fi, downsampling field recordings, so they become either static or ice drops on a tin plate or, maybe, the crackle of a piece of vinyl and some sound effects. There is also a choir being chopped to pieces. Somewhere halfway through, a slowed-down voice comes in, narrating one thing or another, which moves this into more of a radio play/hörspiel kind of thing. The end section is all about dictaphone abuse, another one of those staple instruments all too common on Chocolate Monk recordings. Constance keeps her work within reason, and it’s not all about the effect of fast-forwarding/reversing tape. Like with the other new releases on this label, atmospherics play an essential role throughout the twenty-six minutes of this piece. With the various sections involving voice material in some ways, I’d say this is very suitable for any daring radio station willing to broadcast more radiophonic stuff. (FdW)
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A quartet of players here, three from Mexico and one from France, and no names I heard before (as always, I think): Gerardo Monsivais (guitar, drums, synths, recording and mixing), Manuel Mathar (bass, guitar),
Jean Baptiste Favory (synths, keyboards, binaural recording, mix and master), Jose Luis Rojas Cloche (synths, drum machine, fx and sampler). There is some text in the full-colour, LP-sized booklet, but all in French, so it lost me. It’s been a while since I last heard this kind of music. The information mentions the No Neck Blues Band, and that is something I can listen to in their approach. The music is to a certain extent ‘rocky’ and certainly also ‘free’, but it’s far from chaotic and wild. Think psychedelic, think cosmic (again: rocky), and suitable for smoking a lot of illegal substances – which I dispensed a long time ago. Still, I can imagine the effects of the music being significant. The drums hold everything together, sometimes rolling on and upwards, sometimes taking a more majestic role, while the others strum, bleep and bass away, also steamrolling about. Sometimes, the music falls apart into small bits and pieces, but they come around, pick up the pieces and find a new way to continue. Even when the record cover mentions multiple track titles per side, it feels like one long thing. One piece per side consists of smaller bits forming quite a coherent set of pieces, fragments and sketches. It is not the sort of thing I hear any more these days, and it is a welcome distraction from all things ambient, lo-fi noise and that kind of thing. When I played this record, I also realised this is the sort of music to experience in concert, perhaps more than on a piece of vinyl, but that’s more my approach here. Lovely stuff!
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It must have been years since I last reviewed Earzumba, and, as always, I don’t know what happened in the intervening years. On a small note, I am told that they never stopped but released many works in digital form. Now it’s time for some physical releases. ‘Musica Para Rogarse Vol. 2’ is the second volume in a nine-album series of the same name. I am honest enough to say I do not have much memory of Earzumba’s music, but maybe it had something to do with sampling and plunderphonics. This new album is all about the clarinet, Chinese flute and the maus (whatever that is), which are all heavily processed, resulting in an album of more drone-like propositions. Not as I remember his music, and I have no idea how it developed over the years, but I enjoy what I hear on this disc. It’s drone-like (check), atmospheric (check) and has some interesting processed field recordings and instruments (check). All of this means that the music isn’t very static, as some sounds come to the listener in an unprocessed form. The music is not dark, but not bright either, more like shimmering moods and textures. Knowing of the Argentinian background of Earzumba, I see long shadows, some hot sun and the flutes of ‘Mango Lassi’, reminding me of the music of Jorge Reyes, which is a good thing in my book. This song is a long, slow curve of fading away. The other two pieces don’t have such an ending. ‘Claridon’ is about the clarinet and mechanical pitch changes and is the album’s ‘loudest’ piece, whereas ‘Drones Del Sur’ is the quiet, vague, shimmering middle track. Great album.
Musically quite something different is the album by Mar Negro, the trio of Alejandro Franov (of whom I also hadn’t heard in quite a while), Fred Lorca (Earzumba himself) and Rafa Franceschelli. The latter on sampler and bass, Lorca on the DX7, piano, voice, drums and feedback and the first on the CS80, piano, sitar, acoustic guitar, flute, drums, and singing. Martin Minervini plays drums, voice, and turntable, but he may not be a permanent member. They describe their music as ‘improvised regressive rock, fake pop, world music, sampling and psychedelia. That sounds like the correct description, even when I may have come up with different words. Hell, I don’t know which they would have been. Jazzy would undoubtedly be a contender, and rock, too, but I rarely use regressive and fake words. Maybe because it’s not the kind of music I often hear, it feels like I don’t have many reference points. It’s certainly weird and a mash-up of strange styles, and while I heard this with great pleasure, I am unsure if it will be a way to my CD player again. Perhaps the music is, despite its weirdness, too regular for my taste. (FdW)
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Many residencies that are part of the Extratool program end with a presentation. Many I didn’t see – some were during pandemic times, others I wasn’t in town. That’s a pity, as these residencies deal with the instruments built by Yuri Landman: multiple string machines, microtonal tuning, soda bottles as percussion, and an electronic kalimba. I saw the presentation by Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy and Nicolas Cueille. I had never heard of the latter, and he only has one release. Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy (Tachycardie, Pneu, I N S T I T U T R I C E, La Colonie de vacances) “is a percussionist cranking up sounds with electronics”; I reviewed a work of his with Lise Barkas in Vital Weekly 1341. I enjoyed their presentation that evening in June (I think) quite a bit, even when they apologised for not using much of the Landman gear but incorporated some with the electronics and percussion they brought along. They use electronics and percussion on both sides of their cassettes, blending beautifully into one thing. Feeding percussion into modular synthesisers, given it a mildly pulsating yet never danceable groove; instead, an unstable pulse, sometimes dark, sometimes light, in a well-thought-out balance. No doubt the music here is the result of improvising, but through editing and organising, there is very little left of that side of the music. I was reminded of Radian during the concert, but this influence is no longer recognised on cassette. The cassette is only twenty minutes long, which is sadly not enough. These delicate tones, humble rhythms, never pushy, never loud, never quiet, work like a charm. It’s one of the best releases in this series so far. (FdW)
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VARIOUS_FIELDMICE_ESVB_VOL_1 (cassette by Radio Mulot)
VARIOUS_FIELDMICE_ESVB_VOL_2 (cassette by Radio Mulot)
VARIOUS_FIELDMICE_ESVB_VOL_3 (cassette by Radio Mulot)
LENA/QUARTZ LOCKED – A FUR PIECE (cassette by Radio Mulot)

Following the quiet days of Christmas and New Year’s Day, it takes time to pick up mail again, but one Julien Merieau took it upon himself to send me all six releases from his label, some of which are from 2020. New music is relative, is my understanding. The first three are ninety-minute compilation cassettes, which he compiled with music people submitted to Radio Mulot. A quick glance reveals many names I hadn’t heard of before, but there is also R. Stevie Moore, Simon Crab, Mark Stewart, Quartz Locked and Mudboy. There are not many ‘big’ names, at least not for me. Some names return more than once. When cassettes played a more significant role in my life than they do these days, say, the mid-1980s, compilations were the lifeline to hearing new names and exploring the next great musician to follow. That’s no longer the case, not for me. Maybe because at this ripe old age, the whole experience of discovery is diminished, or perhaps it’s the knowledge it is all a mouse click away (and that discounting that fine/piracy/well-doers/money grabbing-CEO investing in digital warfare of that Swedish company – whatever is your stance) to have an algorithm discover something new for you. For me, these three tapes, four and half hours of music, act like a radio (which is also a medium that I stay away from; when the work day is done, I’ll pull a record off the shelf) while doing other stuff. Post-new year that usually includes quarter accounting, house cleaning, putting the Christmas tree away, doing a few packages, reading some books and magazines and glancing at Facebook, whose algorithms also seem off these days. I sure heard some excellent songs, usually when I was out of reach of the computer to make a note, and with all the small snippets, especially on volumes two and three, one is rather quickly lost (there’s always Bandcamp for volumes one and two; volume three is two long tracks. Would I listen to radio, I would like it to sound like this, fresh and without algorhythm.
There are two cassettes by Elina Dillmann, totalling two-and-a-half hours of music. I had never heard of her before, so after hearing both, I am well-versed. The information in French on Bandcamp doesn’t say much. The text on the cover is nearly invisible to read. Still, it contains a lot of names (from the one I could just about read): X-Ray Pop, Boyd Rice, P. Children, Wendy Carlos, and such, which made me think that this is some kind of radio mix of other people’s music, but, again ignorantly judging, with Dillmann adding her voice to the melee, reading, for instance, Goethe or the Futurist Manifesto., and maybe some words of her own. Come to think of it, this too is some kind of radio, but one that emphasises spoken words, voices, and singing a bit more. I recognised Wendy Carlos’ music from ‘A Clockwork Orange’, but not much else. The red-on-black small print of ‘A Confusing Voice Message’ is too much for me to read, even on screen/Bandcamp. I don’t think everything is there to be understood or grasped, but it is also much about an atmosphere, a stream of music, words and a stream of the (un)consciousness. Sometimes, you can latch onto a beat and nod along, but things never stay too long in the same place, which is good. Unsure if this is the kind of radio I would want all day, but I found these two tapes most entertaining.
The biggest surprise is the cassette by Lena and Quartz Locked. Lena is one of the names used by Mathias Delplanque. He started it in 2002, and in 2010, he put it on hold. On 28 September 2023, he played a more or less spontaneous live concert, using a few sound sources, live samples, Korg Monologue synthesiser, de Soma Lyra 8 and a CDJ player for voice recordings; he also plays a melodica, and the resulting piece is a forty-five-minute dub piece. Lena plays the sort of dub I like (and I want to dub a lot; I never wrote much about it or know much about it); there is a slowness, development, lots of echo and reverb, the melodica playing a tune and the additional voices, plus there is an unmistakenly live element in the music, adding a rough element to the music as if being in at a dub party. Turn up the bass! That’s not where the party ends, as Quartz Locked takes the dub elements from Lena and dubs some more on the second side. Adding different samples from Nurse With Wound and David Shea, he follows the same pattern as Lena. I mean the same, but placing different accents and effects, just as one would expect with dub music to be, the endless recycling of sounds in new configurations. It’s an excellent tape. (FdW)
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In a note along with this cassette, David Wallraf writes that there’s info in the little fanzine that is inside the cassette box (so, yes, very little), but if “you’re not into the theory bit, something on the music is in the last paragraph”. I tried my best, but I didn’t understand the theory, which was not very clever. Wallraf’s PhD was called ‘Limits of Hearing. Noise and the Acoustics of the Political’ (well, in German, but translation is prepared), and about this new tape, he writes on Bandcamp (and let’s hope this is a summary that we all understand a bit), “The Commune of Nightmares stems from the idea that nightmares are the logical reverse of ‘capitalist realism’: an uncanny undercurrent of daily experiences and an algorithmic haunting of dreams that at the same time is a shared – communal – experience of everybody. All songs are based on tape loops that were cut arbitrarily from a stash of cassettes, some of which were found on the street, others from a stockpile of 4 track tapes recorded in the late 90s and early 2000s – a musical game of cadavre exquis played with random strangers and former versions of DW.” Now, tape loops, found cassettes, four-track recorders and randomness are words I understand; hell, I love these words. While I may not see the direct relation to the philosophical meanderings of Wallraf, the music I love. As with more supposedly random things, the music doesn’t feel very random. The seven pieces are very much from the world of muddy lo-fi electronics, heavily crumbled field recordings, cheap sound effects and hardly anywhere feels very loop-like. At times, I hear the Wallraf-type noise that I know from some of his previous work, such as in ‘Behind The Billionaire’s Graveyard’, but throughout, he’s more on a subdued level, the atmospheric side of lo-fi electronics, which is, for some time now, the kind of music I enjoy very much. Dark, ominous, not too soothing, not too noisy, but lovingly ‘present’ when played at a moderate volume; this is the kind of music with that post-nuclear, dystopian feel and whatever I took from his philosophical text that’s exactly what he’s aiming at, so mission succeeded. (FdW)
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