Number 1420

Week 3

MONOLOG & VARIÁT – THE WELL FOR THE THIRSTY (CD-EP by I Shall Sing Until My Land Is Free) *
RAPOON – TIME FROST (CD by Zoharum) *
UHUSHUHU – ZVIRAT (CD by Zoharum) *
MV CARBON: TEARS ROTATE THE RIVER (10” lathe by Ballast) *
VERTONEN – FLORA (CDR by Ballast) *
JAUFENPASS – CLOUD’S EYE (cassette by Shimmering Moods) *
ELLENDE – THIS IS MY SONG (cassette, private) *


German electronic music has long been synonymous with the name of Karlheinz Stockhausen. But, although Stockhausen is to be considered the king of Elektronische Musik and was indeed its most notorious proponent, dozens of other composers have worked out their compositions. Like Goeyvaerts, Eimert, Koenig, Harvey, Xenakis, just to name a few.
This book describes the rise and fall of the Studio Für Elektronische Musik des WDR (SEM) through a canon of works and with very interesting essays that discuss how the SEM actually came into existence. How the studios in their first years (but actually throughout its existence) were regarded as just an exciting add-on to produce sound fx for WDR Hörspiele, what equipment was used (army surplus material) and what the modus operandi was. In the beginning, the composer was totally clueless about how to produce their ideas and couldn’t work without technical assistants (who were at least as important as the creative spirits themselves).
Things didn’t run smoothly in Cologne. Although hugely respected worldwide, it remained a small subsidiary of the West-Deutsche Rundfunk (WDR), and the board didn’t see why it should invest in its continuing existence. So, the whole thing was sort of on a shoestring budget. A few times, the location was changed, leading to the studio’s closing for a couple of years (!). Stockhausen became famous and was asked to perform around the world. But he took most of the studio equipment, including personnel, so no work could be done during those periods.
All of this is excellently described and explained with a lot of respect for the composers and those who kept everything running throughout the decades. Next to the essays, five CDs give us a tour of the works produced there. In another show of respect to the technical staff, the first track of CD1 is a work by Heinz Schütz, a studio engineer who produced the first electronic work ever made at SEM (opus 1). It was never publicly performed, though, because, well, he wasn’t a composer. The book’s selection of works is well annotated and takes us on a trip through time.
SEM has been mothballed since the beginning of this century after composers and staff complained for years about outdated equipment and the lack of investment in modern technology. Last year, the whole studio was donated to the city of Cologne, which wants to convert it into a museum of sorts.
To anyone interested in Elektronische Musik, this is mandatory reading. Texts are in English and German. (JS)
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Not too long ago, I reviewed a lovely collaboration between Variát and Merzbow by the same label, I Shall Sing Until My Land Is Free. The label is run by Dmytro Fedorenko, who, of course, is known as Variát and many other monikers. And as I wrote in that previous review, part of the finances raised by their releases go straight towards humanitarian help for the people of Ukraine. If this EP is your thing, order it; otherwise, check the link at the bottom and see if anything else might tingle your spine.
Monolog (Mads Lindgren, who I’ve known from his excellent releases on Hymen Records) and Variát together; how does that sound … Well, Not as you would expect!!! It’s a thrilling crossover between electronic music and some kind of sludge metal. And yes, you read that right. Sludge metal. En they’re doing a good job. Let’s go through the tracks. “Purifying The Well” starts with some sounds from a farm with a rusty pump and the tension that something will happen—nice organic layering. Stringed instruments, minimal melodic lines, and slow rhythms. Imagine workers on the field with tribal rhythms; This is the Ukrainian version. This first track is also the most quiet of the bunch.
‘Resistance To Shallowness’ is a blueprint for the remaining three tracks. Slow sludgy guitars and throbbing rhythms with nice industrial sounds. Me likez. ‘The Origins Of The Right”‘continues with the style as well as the atmosphere of the former track. Rhythmically it could have had a little extra ‘oomph’, but the layers of noise and guitars make up for it. The final “Resurrection of Light” on this 20-ish minute EP is a bit more upbeat. In the break it’s almost as if the sounds of taiko drums are added. It reminds me of sequences one could expect from Test Dept in the ‘unacceptable face of freedom” era, or maybe after listening to Les Tambours du Bronx.
As said, it is definitely not a bad release; though 20 minutes is kinda short, it opens the gateway to a full album. And I have already mentioned that all profits go to a good cause. Might as well get stuck with an excellent CD, right? (BW)
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Fellow countryman Dirk Serries has been on my radar for some time now, though mostly with his ‘Fear Falls Burning’ project. I guess I was somehow late in discovering Vidna Obmana, even though I was there to experience the tail end of the project. While I can honestly say I find his improvised music a bold move, it never managed to grab me properly. I liked his guitar ambient slinging a lot, and from that point, I started to work backwards through his discography. Whenever I heard something new from Fear Falls Burning, I also wanted to hear an older Vidna Obmana – also just because one can. I don’t think I’ve come across ‘Crossing The Trail’ on that particular journey, but I don’t keep lists since I am not an organised man. This CD was originally released in 1998 by Projekt, the label from the man behind Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Vidna Obmana is assisted by ambient masters Jeff Pearce and Steve Roach, and then Martine Verhoeven contributes vocals. Each of the seven pieces takes considerable time to develop – close to eight is the shortest and over fourteen minutes the longest. Glancing back at other Vidna Obmana works from this period, I can say the musical style is instantly recognisable. Somewhere along the way, Vidna Obmana picked up using rhythms, and he uses them to great effect: slow, majestic, and a bit exotic. There are rainmakers and shakers, a Djembe (at least that’s what it sounds like to me), and all along, there are these big washes of spacious synthesiser sounds. By sequencing these, the music gets a slightly more ‘mechanical’ feeling, in which everything feels quite streamlined. At the same time, the whole thing comes across as very organic, and it’s easily a space to get lost in (which I would think is Vidna Obmana’s goal exactly). With the enormous output of such a project, it is never easy to say if one specific work is the ultimate masterpiece between lesser ones. Moreover, that would very much be a personal thing. In the end, I think I heard only a tiny portion of the work, but can I sincerely say ‘Crossing The Trail’ is one I enjoyed? But then again, I did so with many of the other albums.
Money permitting, I tried to follow Robin Storey’s output as Rapoon for many years, but in my student years, I just gave up and tried to source his music elsewhere. I missed out on ‘Time Frost’, which came out in 2007 on the Glacial Movements Records label. It deals with the idea that a new ice age in Europe could develop at some point despite global warming. I don’t know if this is based on any scientific reality. In any case, Rapoon uses fragments of Strauss ‘Blue Danube’, from a 1968 recording for 2001 A Space Oddysee for this album. Locked grooves are the source material, so we must do without his signature tribal rhythms. Laden with loads of effects, Rapoon treats the locked grooves until we no longer recognise them as such, and they go on and become these dense, tightly woven patterns that ebb and flow like the sea – well.. rock back and forth on the shores of Danube is possibly a better metaphor. The resulting music is very ambient, and yes, of course, ‘ambient’ is a word indubitably connected to Rapoon, but to this extent? I am not sure, but as I said before, with such a vast catalogue, it’s not easy to hear it all or have a definitive overview. Each piece has an almost impossible groove, which isn’t too outlandish to establish when the sound sources come from locked groove vinyl. Nevertheless, the tracks also manage to be very spacious and open simultaneously. Especially in ‘Ice Whispers’, at thirty-four minutes, we’re caught in a tour de force; it is an excellent trip – not too tight in its layering, and the piece moves around incredibly slow, like the way glaciers do (a little cheeky wink at the label that first released this). And with wintertime finally here, after weeks of autumnal rain, this is the perfect soundtrack to enjoy the season (providing an ice age doesn’t become too much of a reality).
Zoharum also releases new music, and ‘Fire Worshipper’ is the fourth album by The Stargazer’s Assistant, which is a group of David J. Smith (Guapo), Michael J. York (Coil) and David J. Knight (UnicaZurn). FdW reviewed an earlier work by them (Vital Weekly 1216di), and from that review, one would take this to be a rock band, heavy and alternative. The stuff that Aurora Borealis released in the day didn’t feel like that so much, and also, this new album seems to steer away from the world of rock music in favour of something more moody and atmospheric. Perhaps even a bit ritualistic or esoteric, with some non-Western wind instruments consolidating their backgrounds into this new album. But I also thought of Muslimgauze and Dead Can Dance – despite how distant those references may sound. And yes, like Rapoon and Vidna Obmana, this is mood music, but of a different ilk. Although no specifics are mentioned, acoustic instruments get ample treatment from electronics; perhaps there’s even sampling involved, and the collective result is the elevated moods present in these eleven tracks. It’s all quite harmonic stuff, despite the treatments being less abstract than Rapoon and less massive than Vidna Obmana. Sometimes, it becomes somewhat reflective, and one can imagine its application in private rituals. Melancholic music has a strong tendency to be a film soundtrack; any of these can easily be in a mystery film set in the Middle East, with ghost towns and inexplicable forces from beyond. I think ‘gripping’ is the word that covers this work quite well. I must say that some of these pieces are a bit too short to be convincing and remain a hint of an idea rather than a well-worked-out composition. But enticing nonetheless.
The final new release is by Uhushuhu, the music project of Pavel Dombrowski, who plays synths, flutes, melodica, guitar, and field recordings. He also enlisted the help of Lilia Akivenson on synths and effects. The album was recorded in December 2022 and January 2023 in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan. I don’t know if that is where they live, or maybe they went to record the music; perhaps it is an unlikely place. The mood music continues here, moulding these releases into a four-part ambient trip. And while Uhushuhu is the most ‘regular’ one, the music is the most enjoyable to me. It seems to dwell heavily on the use of synthesisers and effects: deep washes, massive pads – you know the drill – and only in the first piece, ‘Breg’, do the flute and melodica play a role of consequence. Still, I enjoyed hearing those instruments break through the pattern of synthesiser ambient music, which is sometimes quite loop-based. Music to meditate to, if that’s what you do with these dark drones and melancholy tones. By now, evening descends over the city. Everything slows down, lights fade, and in that respect, this album is best put at the end of this ambient trip. There is no rhythm, lots of dark atmospheres and minimal variation in approaches in these five lengthy pieces; it is time to sleep and dream. (LW)
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With considerably less space for all things improvised, there are always exceptions. When it’s down to me, of course. Heddy Boubaker is an electric guitarist, and Yann Joussein is a drummer; they work as Jobo (or maybe as JoBo?). Boubaker’s work was reviewed before, but *perhaps) not Joussein’s; I don’t know much about either of them. The inner sleeve of this CD is reserved for liner notes, but I can’t read these, partly because it’s in French (and I know I am not supposed to complain about that; let me say it’s a severe limitation if you want to reach an audience beyond the borders of your language) and partly because the print is so damn small (alright, it’s also on Bandcamp). This album has twenty-six short tracks, from ‘Alacrite’ to ‘Zwinglianisme’, each new track and a new letter from the alphabet. What attracted me, the not-so-much-into-improvised-music listener, was the brief character of these pieces. Very few are over two minutes, and none are longer than that. The two men play with unusual aggression, attacking drums and guitars. While their playing of these instruments is relatively conventional, the guitar is a guitar, and the drums sound like drums. Their playing is more akin to punk music, with brutalist short attacks on both instruments, and the fact that they never stretch their pieces gives this the aggressive punk vibe that I like in improvised music. I’m thinking of The Ex here, sans (and that French) any vocals, but sharing their love for a jazzy outburst. At forty-six minutes and twenty-six tracks, this is no easy listening music, but that’s not the intention. As always, I think this kind of music is best enjoyed in a concert setting, as at home, it’s hard to replicate the same volume and intensity or the interaction of musicians and audience. I can’t turn up the volume required for this kind of music at home, but I tried, and the result was close enough for a massive thumbs-up. (FdW)
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New music by Eric Jarl is always welcome, so why didn’t Zoharum send me this when it came out in September? I don’t know (unless they did, and it never arrived). Jarl is an analogue synthesiser man, and the resulting music is dark. Perhaps I wrote before that the music is pitch black, or ‘shades of black’, but I can’t do that for this new one, as every track deals with “one colour and what sense and mood that colour can bring”. There are six colours: grey-scale one, blue-grey (livid), blue, black, white, and grey-scale two; in between, there is a short piece, ‘Blindness’, which, so I gather, is the absence of colours. Thinking of music in colours is a private affair, just as much as experiencing the music in memories, smells or whatever you can feel or experience. You may not be surprised that I do not think about music in terms of colours; I don’t experience ‘Black’ or ‘White’ when I hear music with such a title. My brain doesn’t compute in these ways. I often experience music in terms of films, as the soundtracks they could have been. It is hardly a surprise (again!) that, given the nature of much of the music received at Vital Weekly, dealing with dark and atmospheric sounds, the films are about dystopia, horror, spooky, or otherwise unpleasant subjects. Very much like those movies, attracting an audience who like to see the dark side, this kind of music has its audience of people who find pleasure in the darker tones. In the case of Erik Jarl, the music is dark and ominous, but it’s also quite pleasant. There are hints of cosmic music as if they were on a long journey through before reaching Jarl, so it’s not the same anyway, but eroded and decaying, or, perhaps, a decommissioned spaceship that is still on a course (see, I think about films!), especially in ‘White’. Big-time space music, not melodic, but created from drones, isolated tones, oscillations, and whatever connections can be made with analogue synthesisers. Music with a shimmer of light, hope, and refined beauty. That’s my kind of music. (FdW)
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As far as I know, this is the second time Martijn Comes and Hessel Veldman have collaborated. I know both of them personally, but Veldman the longest; since the early 1980s, I heard his music, released on his cassette label Exart, under different names (Y Create, Gorgonzola Legs, but also collaborating with Willem de Ridder). Martijn Comes is from a younger generation, already leaving his solo and collaborative marks (with Lukas Simonis, among others). Previously, they released a double CD (Vital Weekly 1259), combining synthesisers, sound effects and electronics; it’s not clear how the duties are divided here. The music doesn’t provide the listener with clues, either. The pieces have biblical references, and apparently, they consulted a reverend for this album; we live in complicated times, and what can God do for us? Or a question of that ilk. If you are not religiously or spiritually inclined and want to take the music more at face value, then prepare for a most austere, dark, ambient trip. I found this album a bit of a slow burner; I played it a couple of times in the past few days, thinking that the music is most decent dark ambient, but maybe nothing out of the ordinary, until at one point, ‘Sinaï’ grabbed me. The colossal dark sound suddenly made more sense. I’d like to avoid the word epiphany here; that’s not my kind. Sounds are stretched and treated electronically or digitally; new sounds are extracted from that, changing the sense of time and place. Music that is on a standstill or a slow motion? It’s hard to say, even when I detect movement throughout these pieces. Despite the high level of musical production here, there is a raw, grainy aspect to the music, a kind of lo-fi rawness that adds a greyish shade to the music, which suits the music quite well. There is some pretty powerful ambient music on here, dark and massive, and something that, after repeated listening, is something very much to my liking. (FdW)
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hollem McDonas (piano, synth) and Nels Cline (electric guitar) have been a duo since 2012, when the Gowanus Session saw the light on Porter Records. The idea was to create five records with different musicians forming a trio. Willam Parker (bass) was asked to complete the trio. On that same day, they recorded a second record. That one was released on ESP-Disk in 2020. In the meantime, there were two records released with Michael Wimberly (drums) and one with Pauline Oliveros (accordion and voice). This is the sixth one, with Terry Riley as the third musician of the trio. Before we dive into the music, let me tell you something about Thollem, Nels and Terry. I met Thollem at Worm in Rotterdam. He and his fellow traveller ACVIlla were part of the audience for the first edition of the Catalytic Sound Festival. That was in October 2021. I didn’t know who he was, but we had a lovely evening filled with espresso and an abundance of great improvised music. He had a few concerts the following week, but my schedule was fully booked. I may have another chance this Spring. Nels Cline is a guitar player, most famously known for his work with Wilco, at least for the mainstream public. He has played on over 150 records, ranging from jazz, pop, rock, and country to experimental music. Then there’s Terry Riley. One of the first records I bought was Cadenza On The Night Plain And Other String Quartets. And it blew my fifteen-year-old mind. Incidentally, his most famous work, In C, was performed by Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich, Jon Gibson, Pauline Oliveros and Morton Subotnick. He is one of the pioneers of minimal music. If you want to know more about him, I suggest you read his Wikipedia page; it’s time to focus on the music. Two tracks, A side and B side of a record if you will ( there’s a vinyl release, alongside a CD and digital release). ‘The Light is Real Before’, and ‘The Light is Real After’. Each piece has a few sections. The main focus lies on sampled voices that Thollem recorded on a remote recording session. Those samples are the building blocks on which Thollem and Nels recorded the instrumental parts. And Nels’ megamouth. I don’t know if that’s a vocal contribution. We get a dense and sometimes sparse sound world, filled with layered voices, speaking non-verbally or gibberish or with a vocabulary we don’t understand. But it’s always filled with meaning: it’s not random. The instrumental parts are in the background and flow from left to right in the stereo sound image. Some parts of Thollem’s playing reminded me of what Zappa did on Civilization Phase IV with the Synclavier. Anyway, I won’t spoil things any more: just listen to this. It’s a fantastic work, rich in textures, repetitive vocal utterances, hints of melodies, and creative use of the electric guitar. And the question remains: what happened with the light? The last word Riley says is Aita, which could mean the Etruscan god of the underworld. In my imagination, a world without sunlight. To my ears and mind, the second part (side B) has a far more melancholy quality. Enough said/written: you can listen to this on Bandcamp. I, for one, would like to hear more of this trio. (MDS)
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MV CARBON: TEARS ROTATE THE RIVER (10” lathe by Ballast)

The first new release on Ballast is quite an oddball for the label, usually dabbling with drones, experiments and noise. MV Carbon was once (or maybe still is) one-half of Metalux, which I reviewed only once (if my newly installed website archive works properly) in Vital Weekly 892, but I didn’t hear her solo music. According to Ballast, she also worked with Tony Conrad and Charlemagne Palestine, using “magnetic tape, voice and extended vocal techniques, poetry, electronics, and other handmade objects”. While this is not your usual drone or noise music, and MV Carbon uses voice quite a lot, there is also an experimental component to the music. Think of this as a combination of sound poetry and poetry set to music – there is a difference. According to Ballast, we could think of Algebra Suicide, Nervous Gender, Devo, or Suicide, which is something I only partly agree with. Her pieces are relatively short, two to three minutes, and evolve around bleeping synthesisers, sometimes building into a bleepy rhythm (in ‘Tears Rotate The River’, for instance, and maybe this is sort of thing reminding of Suicide, but then still entirely some worlds apart). As said, the voice is essential, making this quite the personal release, more so than your average abstract noise or drone record. It has a very 1980s cassette feel, and maybe these five pieces aren’t enough to form an opinion, but I certainly enjoyed this small batch of songs. You wonder if lathe cut suits this kind of music, certainly for a label without a Bandcamp page, but that’s a different story!
Sometimes, the latest Vertonen release is quite different. As I mentioned before (I think), much of Blake Edwards’ Vertonen project lies within the vast world of drone music. The exciting thing about Vertonen is that in his work, drone music can have all sorts of shapes and forms. There isn’t one way or the other, no endless churning of releases that are all similar because a few instruments are being used repeatedly. Sometimes, it seems as if Vertonen is heavily into the computer processing business, then something with analogue tapes or analogue synthesisers. Part of the fun is that it is constantly changing and always a surprise. The new one, Flora, is also quite a surprise. Edwards writes that this “is possibly the closest I have come to intentionally creating “ambient” music—in this case, audio for a botanical conservatory”. Which leads me to believe he’s using sounds from such a place. There is also the suggestion to play this with a “low volume over speakers or over headphones”, which is a very ambient guidance. Maybe my volume was too low, and it seems that, around thirty minutes, the sound almost disappeared at one point, leaving a residue of very soft crackles, sounds that may not come from your speakers but from your environment. My environment is tranquil, mostly at least, so peaceful becomes quiet here. There are sounds from heating vents, radiators, rain, birds, winds and much more, and maybe some kind of processing is going on, but maybe not at all. It’s not easy to say and perhaps not very relevant. It’s the sound of an environment and maybe for an environment. Music that you can start and let play for a while, ignore if you want (which is sometimes easy when quiet). I didn’t think of greenhouses or such, and I don’t have any happier plants. I know this is yet again another take on the notion of drone and ambient music and that Vertonen once delivered something different, and there’s no ordinary approach for him. The usual routine is not to be expected. (FdW)
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I’m old. You all know that by now. My musical taste is ‘weird’, but that’s the reason I’m writing for Vital Weekly. In the 80s, I started listening to different music, and through stuff like Birthday Party and Joy Division, I started enjoying some EBM-related music until 1992, when I heard Coil for the first time. It went through the roof from that moment on, and I listened to everything extreme. I had a bi-monthly round of Amsterdam stores I’d check out (amongst which were Boudisque and Staalplaat), and each time, I came back with weird findings. I listened, I explored, and I developed a few favourite artists. Amongst those artists were, of course, Coil, Brian Lustmord and Adi Newton.
So when in 1996 I heard of an album created by Adi Newton and – at that moment, the for me still unknown Andrew McKenzie / Hafler Trio – recorded and assisted by Lustmord, I bought it right away. And that my droogs were The Psychophysicist CD, as released on Side Effects / Anterior Research. Some 25 years later, it is still an absolute favourite in my extensive collection, and it made me dive deeper into “everything Adi”. More Clock Dva and definitely more Anti Group because everything I heard from him those days was pure gold. He still is, by the way, because somehow, the sounds he uses are timeless. His works emphasise sound creation, so you won’t recognize a certain sound that is typical for this or that machine; Adi takes the next step. And he still does. Timeless Sonic Art.
In the last few years, there were a few mentions of new works, and a few samplers featured tracks under the Psychophysicist moniker, with Adi Newton as a recurrent name in the personnel list. After 26 years, there is a new release under the name, without McKenzie but with Mauricio Reyes as co-creator. My heart skipped a beat, or maybe even nine beets, and I couldn’t wait to dive into this massive work. You can imagine how high my hopes and expectations were. ‘The Sone of Total Proximity’ was released in two versions, and while there is an overlap in tracks, there are differences too. Both are based on a USB memory stick with music packed in an elaborate box with an additional non-USB track on CD-r. “The Frank Baxter Box” is the most elaborate one, with 5 hours and 40 minutes of music; the “Proxima 10” D-LP” version is a little bit shorter and “only” plays for 4 hours and 10 minutes. And both versions come with that 30-minute CDR entitled ‘Relativist Mechanics’.
Let’s dive into the music a bit. The releases are released under the Psychophysicist moniker, though when playing the tracks – and which is affirmed through the listings at – the ID3 tags show the tracks are by Adi Newton and Mauricio Reyes, as mentioned before, with a few added names like Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto fame and Fabio Kubic (Coagulant). With my mind running on 6 or 7 coffees, I wonder what the psychophysicist actually is. As on that first album, it seems more of a collective effort than a project. But when listening to all the tracks, there is such a beautiful coherency amongst the tracks that the form or name kinda doesn’t matter at all. Some of the liner notes we’ve received explain it a bit, I suppose. “This production showcases a collection of meticulously crafted tracks created between 1997-98 and 2020-23.” This again underlines a remark I made earlier that the sound I love so much is because it’s timeless. You can simply not hear whether a track is from the late 90’s or early 20’s. Believe me, that’s a difficult thing to do.
With the timespan of creation comes another question into my mind: coherence. So much music has been made by Adi in the meantime. I remember the beautiful live sets in the cube … So, for me, the question was raised if it would all be Psychophysicist. If I’m sincere, there are a few tracks that – if wanted – would perfectly fit a release by T.A.G.C. in the Meontological Research style. Those were from the late 80’s, and since then, the T.A.G.C. style changed a bit, so maybe those Research Recordings were the first actually to play with the subject of what became the Psychophysicist. And to get my own thoughts into perspective again: Does it matter? Or is my mind being activated by the sounds I’ve now listened to for an impressive 10 hours already?! Several of the tracks are fully in sync with the atmosphere on the original CD from ’96, so if you loved that album as I did, this release is a must. And if you are intrigued by T.A.G.C., you should also get it as soon as possible because these beauties go very fast, and they’re already sold out at a few places. Each of the two boxes is a work of art in itself as created by Mauricio under the art-direction of Adi. The “Proxima” one containing 3 Chromatin prints, cotton swabs to calibrate your ears, an eye mask for some deep listening and more; The “Frank Baxter” box even more Chromatin prints, more different tools to let all those extreme frequencies hit the exact right spot and even a shirt.
After listening to the USB, you still have that CDR – signed by Mauricio and Adi – in your package, and the music on it is worth a special mention. In 2003, a project at Telekinett involved Stefan Joel Weisser, aka Z’EV. The initial research material of ‘Universal Mechanics’ was combined with material by Adi and Mauricio, resulting in “Relativist Mechanics”. And this track is the proverbial cherry on top.
What more can I write? I’ve waited for 26 years, and I got two releases with a total of 7 hours (excluding the doubles) of new music to listen to by one of my all-time heroes and a new one. (BW)
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Here we have an example of a modern composer moving freely between all sorts of musical worlds and for whom computer technology plays an important role. Yet, his eye is firmly on the musical ball. ‘Piano Loup’ is a bit of mystery; “music generating from itself, containing its own world and developing from within. […] It is a piano for the love of the piano. This is music that grows from music, music that the piano suggests by itself”, which doesn’t say much about how Robert made this. I think some software is running, translating, for instance, older Robert pieces into new music played by a piano. Audio to Midi, or some such process. It is a highly aleatoric process, and the music has that random approach. None of this seems to make any sense, at least, to the untrained modern music ear attached to this head. And yet it also sounds very musical; the piano remains a piano here; there isn’t any process, stretching, or pitching inside piano playing. While not moody in the way Erik Satie composed his piano pieces, this music has a strong melodic touch. Still, it sounds as if Robert composed the pieces, recorded them on tape, then cut the tape up in small bits, tossed these in the air and then stuck them together randomly, a bit like George Martin did at the end of ‘The Benefit Of Mr Kite’ by The Beatles. But maybe Robert exercised a bit of control, so it’s not random, if you get my drift, especially in ‘La Chasse’; the more you listen, the more patterns emerge.
The other USB device contains five pieces of music with a total length of 141 minutes; the most extended piece is ‘Cancer, ‘ which is fifty-four minutes. Robert writes that he works with the Audiometaphor software; I tried looking that up but got a bit lost in computer software. Robert writes that it generated some completely new soundscapes but that this is also a collection of older pieces. I’m afraid it doesn’t get any more specific than this. The result he “did in a very personal, bricolage way”. It’s a work of going back to old memories and fresh ideas. Maybe because the work was so long, I found it hard to focus on it, no matter how hard I tried. I don’t believe this is the kind of work where one has to devour every second with great care. Because there is so much happening, and so many different things, from field recordings, phone conversations, orchestral music, computer processed sounds, a bit of noise and in ‘Billy Pilgrim’, extensive bits of piano music, whereas ‘Cancer’ is almost all played on the piano. Like with ‘Piano Loup’, I have the idea that these compositions have a certain randomness, but because they involve multiple sound sources, it sounds like a poorly tuned radio station, which I love. It is as if someone slides slowly up and down the radio scale, picking up sounds, amplifying them and then they are gone. Some sound you may hear only once in these long pieces. At one point, I was doing something else, not mainly concentrating on the music, which enhanced for me the whole radiophonic character of the music, or rather the random approach of flicking through radio channels, with ‘Cancer’, in the end, being the station where one gets stuck; finally piano music after all this radio chaos. (FdW)
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JAUFENPASS – CLOUD’S EYE (cassette by Shimmering Moods)

There are quite a few words on Bandcamp about this release. Still, who or what Jaufenpas is, I don’t know (other than: “The Jaufen Pass (German: Jaufenpass, Italian: Passo di Monte Giovo) (el. 2,094 m.) is a high mountain pass in the Alps in the South Tyrol in Italy.” Judging by the music, I think this is a one-person music project, using a lot of electronics, computer technology, a bit of piano and, perhaps, other instruments of an undisclosed nature. While much of the music on these ten tracks can be labelled as ambient music, there is also an element of glitch here: cracked digitalia, broken tape, or corrupt software, all of which give the music a different edge. I understand from the information that the music uses many loops, being worked and reworked. None of the material has an all too overtly loop-like direction and is also not completely gone. These loops are mutated, so nothing feels too repetitive without change or looped for the sake of things being looped. The resulting music is atmospheric but is also demanding at the same time. Here’s not your soundtrack to doze off to. For instance, ‘Le Murier Noir’ ends almost in a heavy metal/shoegazing vein. But there are also moments of quietness here, more traditional ambient, such as ‘Ricordo #2’ or ‘Pum’. A track like ‘Cloud #2’ is too short, sketch-like, and has an excellent piano sound yet all too brief. The album has a journey-like feeling, going from one place to the next, maybe as if crossing a mountain; the higher up, the less air and people, the music condenses, and towards the end, the more melodic aspects pick up again. Perhaps I am looking for something that isn’t there or not intended, but it kept me in line with the band name and what I think is a trip-like theme of the pieces. It’s a very modern ambient with a bite, which is exactly how I like this music on my plate. (FdW)
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ELLENDE – THIS IS MY SONG (cassette, private)

Albums by the South African/Japanese group Ellende (meaning ‘misery’ in Dutch) are usually short, and at twenty minutes, this new cassette is no different. The album is dedicated to Kobus (1964-1999) and Dave M (1967-2021); I believe the latter was a band member who plays synth and mellotron on this album who died of ‘the fever’ in 2021, which I assume is Covid-19. A life cut short, another shortness. Other players play the piano, Rhodes, and guitar. I believe the exchange of sound files is how this music is made by members living some miles apart. Over the years, I became a big fan of their music, and short albums aren’t my thing. I prefer the classic forty-minute albums, so all Ellende albums are too short. Mainly because they play mood music that is atmospheric and richly textured synthesiser-based, which could easily lead up to longer tracks. With the help of carefully placed reverb, space and depth are suggested, and they are not shy about creating a rich sound. Nothing sparse but ominous, vast as space itself. Dark matter, this music, but maybe not without humour. Thanks to their song ‘To All The Girls’, I have that dreary Nelson song singing through my head. Go away, Willy, let me enjoy Ellende, as no matter how miserable one feels or how dark the music is, it is truly a pleasure to hear this. And that’s what great music should do: bring light and joy in a dark world. Did I already mention that this album is way too short? And with my new tape deck having no auto-reverse, I dread the shortness even more. (FdW)
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  1. From:

the eighth edition in our downloadable pay-what-you-want compilation series is now available. “homework – year 8” gathers 71 tracks for more than 11 hours of aural delight. here’s the complete list of contributing artists:

(ad)VANCE(d) – .cut & botchan – aalfang mit pferdekopf – aidan baker – alfa00 (a sonic entity of slavek kwi, in transition) – amputation légale – andrea marutti – arash akbari – bardoseneticcube – ben fleury-steiner – BRUME – christopher mcfall – cinema perdu – compest – d’incise – david escallón – désaccord majeur – edward ruchalski – ein träumendes pferd – ellende – emerge – emmanuel mieville – encomiast – enrico coniglio – erleichda & somekilos – exportion – fabio orsi – flavien gillié – fredrik mathias josefson – goose – gregory kramer – hirotaka shirotsubaki & sleepland – hum – ieva aka samuel andré – ingeos – james p. keeler – james wyness – jérémie mathes – john grzinich – jon unger – jørgen brønlund quartet – julien ash & antonella eye porcelluzzi – kaeru-chan – laurent pernice – liquid sphere + bruno verneret – M. B. – mathieu ruhlmann – michiru aoyama – modelbau & swalm – moljebka pvlse – murmer – nigel samways – nimh (giuseppe verticchio) – peter james – pholde – pierre juillard – pleq – rhucle – sonomono – strom noir – summons of shining ruins – tainnos – takeyuki hakozaki – tarkatak – terje paulsen – tomonari nozaki – tone color – tzesne – yann novak – yannick franck – yiorgis sakellariou
available as pay-what-you-want download download at