Number 1423

Week 6

GÜNTER SCHLIENZ – HUNDSTAGE (CD by Blue Marble 1972) *
STROM NOIR – JOUSKA (2CD by Blue Marble 1972) *
BRUNO DUPLANT – DU SILENCE DES ANGES (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
JOSH ZUBOT – STRINGS (CD by Drip Audio) *
MARS F. WELLINK – TERATA (7″ anti record by Wick(ed))
EXTRA – MELT/SURROUND (CDR by Chocolate Monk) *
CHEFKIRK – GIANT SIZE (CDR by Love Earth Music) *
+DOG+ – TEMPORARY GARDENS (CDR by Mechanical Presence Records) *
GRAPHÈME VOLUME 3 (magazine by Smallest Functional Unit)


Now, hang on a minute; what the heck is Hyster thinking? I know this Finnish label as an enterprise for recycled cassettes with Xeroxed covers, and now this? A full-colour digipack with an actual CD? What happened? Alright, that’s not a question for which I have an answer, except maybe that in my last review of The Archive Assistant (Vital Weekly 1382), I wrote, “I understand that recycled cassettes mean limited edition, and there are only ten of this one, but I think it’s about time somebody releases a best-of on a format that reaches more than two hands full of people!” That is not to say this is the best of these older releases, but hopefully, reaching a larger audience. Jordan Cook, the person behind The Archive Assistant, creates some excellent collages using found sound, adding a wonderful blend of electronic music, which brings out the best of ambient house, but not that much of house, and yet more than your usual ambience. His opening song, at almost eighteen minutes, also the longest, is a bass-heavy collage of various percussive samples, loosely arranged electronics, multiple stages of delay, as the dub element is never far in his music, and various segments of drum machines, with the end a more stomping 4/4 beat. This sets the tone for the other pieces, spanning sixty-three minutes of music. I wrote before that the music sounds like The KLF meeting Zoviet*France on more than one occasion, and this is still very much the case on this CD, and on the understanding that with The KLF I mean ‘Chill Out’ rather than ‘The White Room’. Strangely off-beat at times, aiming at the chill-out room perhaps, moving back and forth with segments of pleasant rhythmic material, samples of a more orchestral nature and portions of field recordings from lakes in Ontario. Once more, it is lovely stuff and something that should reach a large audience! It’s on CD, and it’s readily available in recognition of this great musician. (FdW)
––– Address:

STROM NOIR – JOUSKA (2CD by Blue Marble 1972)

Perhaps you remember that Monotype wasn’t only a pressing plant but also a record label and, possibly surprisingly, releasing ‘our’ kind of music? Later on, it was renamed Kosmodrone, and while there hasn’t been much new music on the label, there is now a sub-division, Blue Marble 1972 (named after the 1972 NASA photograph of Earth). I don’t know why there is a need for a sub-division, and none is explained.
I think I first heard music by Günter Schlienz on another label from Poland, and since then, I heard quite a bit of his work. From what I understand, Schlienz uses a minimalist modular set-up, adding a bit of field recordings and, this time, also some vocals. The sustaining ‘ah’ of the opening track is very kitschy, and the piece’s ending is quite abrupt. The female German voice of ‘Gabriela Spricht Von Den Tiefen Des Weltalls’ and its spacious synthesisers reminded me very much of early 1990s chill-out music, which is, of course, Schlienz’s whole thing. Call it chill out, kosmische, or ambient (or maybe even new age). It is what Schlienz does, and he’s very good at it. Sometimes, he derails with more kitschy elements, such as in the opening track, but that’s also part of the charm, I think, because it sits next to beautiful dark soundscapes as ‘Knistern In Kristallen’, with some lovely slow melodic touch. You’re mistaken if you believe Schlienz’s music is without progress. In ‘Ostereierfarbene Lampions’ and ‘Erdfarbene Ewigkeit, Samendes Weltall’ there is a languid rhythm, a violin in ‘Der Ungeheuerliche Sternenhimmel’ and a vital bass section in ‘Sirius’, which also contains a saxophone. Here, Schlienz’s music becomes almost a free improvisation piece, but this, too, works very well in his music. Much like the minimalist touch of his music, there is also a minimalist thread in his approaches.
It’s been a while since I heard music from Strom Noir, Emil Maťko’s project. I think it was in Vital Weekly 1117. I have no idea why I didn’t hear anything after that, and I don’t care to speculate. ‘Jouska’ is his 18th album in his career, now going towards twenty years, and it’s a double CD. Blue Marble 1972 says this is “a suitable double album for long winter evenings”. Indeed, it’s winter here in the upper hemisphere, but most of my reviewing time is during daylight. Another grey day is the most appropriate time to play this kind of drone music. There are some 117 minutes of music here, which is a lot. Maybe it’s too much? Perhaps it is, but that’s what I think as a reviewer, not a listener. Much of what Strom Noir does is play long-form sustaining drones that sound like organs but may be generated with guitars and effects – something I was reminded of when I read my last review of his work. There is quite some overlap in these pieces, almost as if these are variations on a theme, which is great for the listener but perhaps not for the slightly impatient reviewer. This is music that one has to surrender to to be fully submerged.
The third release in this first batch is by Hands Like Clouds, a reissue of a release on BDTA from 2014. I thought I reviewed many of the releases by this Polish label, but not all, as this is my first encounter with this musical project, which I understand is a side project of the like-wise unknown Ghosts of Breslau. The music on ‘Mountain King’, the only release by Hands Like Clouds, was recorded by the unnamed composer, receiving help from The Joy Of Nature, the Portuguese psychedelic folk artists. All old tracks and a handful of remixes by Bojanek, Club Alpino, GAAP KVLT, Tonopah Test, Zamek UFO, and Zenial are here. Hands Like Clouds’ music is similar to the other two releases on this label, which means highly atmospheric, but now with guitars strumming, sparse electronics, dark synthesisers and drones. Also, there is some percussion, mostly bells. Quite a rudimentary sound, not always well-worked, and yet lovely enough to hold one’s attention. The remixers thought adding rhythms to the music, which may or may not be sampled from the original sounds, was a good idea. As I remarked last week, remixes should bring the original to the fans of the remixers, hoping to turn them into the original artist. If that works, I don’t know. The remixes are also nice enough, but nothing earth-shattering great, which is fine. Not something to end with at the end, these remixes. One better start with the Hands Like Clouds release and the other two, going towards the night; that might be a better journey. (FdW)
––– Address:


More music from Gordon H. Wirlow’s (erstwhile of Mnemonists and Biota) supergroup. Initially a solo work, one-off in 1986, but since ‘See It Alone’ (Vital Weekly 1287), a collaborative effort with the distinct voices of Edward Ka-spel (of the Legendary Pink Dots) on vocals, atmospheres and lyrics and Martyn Bates (of Eyeless In Gaza) on vocals and lyrics. New now are Janet Feder on guitar and Patrick Q-Wright (also on Pink Dots in the 1980s and guest on the Ka-spel tour with Amanda Palmer) on violin. His playing was a distinctive feature on many Pink Dots tracks. With Bates and Ka-spel, Wirlow hired some very different voices. Bates’ voice is very atmospheric, while Ka-spel’s is more all over the place, from reflective to extraverted. ‘Sun Comes’ consists of the six-song suite of the same name and four more pieces forming a coherent album. The CD also contains contributions by Larry Wilson (drums), Steve Tyler (hurdy-gurdy), Karty Marchant (bagpipes) and Tom Katsimpalis (spoken words), all on one track only. As with the previous album, the music is very introspective and poetic. Texts enclosed, and all, much like the folk-like music. More Eyeless In Gaza than Legendary Pink Dots, music-wise, as it all stays on the atmospheric side of things and doesn’t have the outgoing sound we know from The Legendary Pink Dots. Whatever instruments are played, it all sounds like they try to create textured sounds, and the thought occurred that I know Biota and Mnemonists were using the studio-as-instrument. Put a lot of stuff on a multi-track tape, add tons of outboard effects and start mixing, coming up with music that sounds very coherent. Maybe Wirlow’s applying the same principle to his work with Sorry For Laughing. “Deliver me your text, words, singing, reciting, your violin, drums, guitar, drums, hurdy-gurdy, whatever and I will find a narrative with these sounds”. None of these people are together in the same room, but Wirlow makes it sound like they do. Everything is on a slow, spacious drift, highly musical, embedded within splashes of reverb and other treatments, and the result is slow, meandering, narrative music. Minimal yet evocative, reflective and with flickers of light. Your different kind of ambient album. (FdW)
––– Address:


In June 2022, my wife, our then three-month-old dog, and I had a stop-over at Guy Peters’s house in Belgium. He organizes living room concerts. I convinced my wife to go there while going to our house in France. I had a blast. Not one but two double bass players, and not one but two sets. I am very familiar with the music Almeida plays in his different groups. The other one was unknown to me: Peter Jacquemyn. He played with Peter Kowald, a double bass giant in the improvising world. And Kowald is a central figure for how Almeida approaches the double bass and improvised music. As it turns out, Almeida and Jacquemyn did a small tour in Belgium and the Netherlands on three dates. On this release, the other two dates are documented. It’s probably because our dog was chasing Guy’s cat. Anyway, we have a pairing of like-minded spirits, creating wonderful and mesmerizing music. They exchange ideas, comment on each other and complement each other as if they were a regular duo. Melodic lines begun by one player are ended by the other or extended. They conjure up a sonic world with lots of details and conversations; at one time, they play each other instruments with their bow. And after a few moments, Peter adds lovely vocalizing and impressive Mongolian throat singing into the mix. Both musicians are highly proficient on their instruments and go well beyond whipping up a walking bass. However, there is a walking bass in the second track. At times, they sound like a small-scale string orchestra: pizzicato, arco, lowest strings vs. altissimo plucking. In all tracks, there’s a natural flow. Textures begin and are examined, changed, and mixed with ideas extended into a new section. Three tracks: five minutes, fifteen minutes and a whopping thirty minutes. Never a dull moment. As for the recording, you get up close and personal as a listener. In this case, it’s not you should have been there; it’s more a case of you should buy this: to me, this is the essence of great musicianship and creativity, something Kapotte Muziek does with electronic means, but here with acoustic instruments. Oh, before I forget: the very nice cover is made by Peter Jacquemyn. And lastly, both players occupy one channel: Almeida on the left and Jacquemyn to the right. As for the title, it may refer to the track names on Deep Music: a recording with Encounter 1 and Encounter 2: two half-hour performances of Peter Kowald with William Parker and Jacquemyn, respectively. Now, I’m off for a deep dive into Jacquemyn’s musical output. (MDS)
––– Address:


The name Benoît Pioulard popped up only once in Vital Weekly (1070) when I reviewed a 7″ by him as part of many releases from the same label; his work didn’t impress me. Jason Corder, also known as Offthesky, has been reviewed a few times before, and his work is right up my alley, even when my interest is less in the whole digital processing thing. They worked with others, such as Corder with Craig Tattersall and also for the Laaps label, but never together. I assume they both play the guitar here (and Pioulard is not singing!), along with effects (analogue, digital, whatever works), but also use “voice (not heard – FdW), microcassette tape, field recordings, modular synth, strings and flute.”, and I’m told the album is best enjoyed as a whole, which is how I take these things best. Like much of the music in Vital Weekly, this too is highly atmospheric and spacious, so the devil is in the details concerning differences. I found the music quite open, depicting a wide open US road, long, without curves, cutting through the desert. Maybe I have these thoughts because the music reminded me of Stars Of The Lid, which I heard coincidentally last week again, following many years of absence from my CD player. The drone meets strumming guitar, the sustaining tones versus the single attack, which drifts on a cloud of reverb through (your) space, that’s the same thing I hear in the eight pieces of ‘Sunder’. And yes, Stars Of The Lid originated in Texas, so hence my vistas of open landscapes. That is not to say that Pioulard and Offthesky are mere copycats. Maybe Stars Of The Lid own something to Brian Eno’s ‘Apollo’ soundtrack; I am saying, is being ‘the first’ in something fundamental? Or, perhaps, do what you do best, which is prevalent? I gave up thinking about originality a long time ago. We’re all copyists and’ll try our best to do what we think is necessary. In that respect, these two men do a great job. I decided this CD is the final one of the day (reviewing-wise) as day slowly turns into night and it’s time to prepare dinner; with the crepuscule hour upon us (I am sure that’s not an expression), an excellent reason to put this album on repeat for that dinner preparation time. And then some. (FdW)
––– Address:

BRUNO DUPLANT – DU SILENCE DES ANGES (CD by Moving Furniture Records)

More mysterious music by Bruno Duplant. He’s doing a trilogy of albums for Moving Furniture Records and ‘du silence des anges’ (of the silence of the angels). As always, I have no idea what the man does, and I can only surmise what he does. Let’s say he bundles a variety of field recordings, wind, rain, massive thunder this time, organ sounds and some obscured electronics on various tracks of his computer and sets out to mingle these. Hence, a murky mass of sound is the result. It’s hard to decipher or decode his music if there is anything to decode. I am unsure if his work has any meaning, not just this particular new one. You could wonder about a lot of music, not just Duplant’s. Maybe there’s a deeper meaning here, something profound, perhaps dealing with the silence of angels, in which case, spoiler alert, there isn’t a lot of silence to hear in these two pieces, and the thunderous storm passing in the first part is one hell of a scary thing. I am sure there are various thoughts here, including something about loss, death, dystopia, or any other darker thought one has. The fact is that Duplant’s music is constantly moving while always remaining at a more atmospherical level; it moves from section to section, slowly opening up new vistas, going at times for a more orchestral approach. I have no idea if he uses some old classical music record or has some kind of package with orchestral samples. As always, his music is very dense and rich, with many small events working together to arrive at this mass of sound. Excellent stuff, once again, but I am biased; I am a fan and don’t expect me to be that much neutral on this. (FdW)
––– Address:


As you may know, I dislike combining various releases, but sometimes coincidence dictates I should. Here, we have a trio of releases dealing with voices in multiple degrees and shapes. Words are the key, but their appearance changes. First, the unknown Antonio Tonietti plays the ‘chitarra battente preparata’, duduk, prepared bass, synth, field recordings and electric koto. Furthermore, a few people are credited with voices, plus a pianist on one track and a modified alto recorder on another. The texts are (I assume because the CD is also dedicated to him) “to the life and work of Osamu Dazai and his novel No Longer Human”, which, no surprise, is someone I had not heard of. The music sounds entirely improvised, but with various electronics lingering around, the music has a slightly different touch. More modern music than strictly improvised, so it seems. It’s hard to understand whatever text there is, as it appears to be more about vocalisations. I don’t enjoy these vocalisations, but the music is quite all right. The reflective approach to the instruments works quite well. There is much control in handling these, so the music never bursts into something wild and chaotic, but there is some hidden tension that never seems to reveal itself, which works quite well. I’m sure one or two things here elude me about this, but that’s fine. My favourite piece is ‘Epilogue’, in which the voice recites some text that is hard to understand but adds to the inherent tension.
Poems by Nazim Comunale, recited by Alexandra Staraşciuc, are the basis for the new release by Elio Martusciello. I know him best from his work with his brother, carried under the family name, but after that, his work didn’t reach me (or, at least not very often). He plays guitars, percussion and computers. The poetry comes in a large, almost A5-sized booklet, all in Italian. Yes, I know, a phone app can do the translation for you, but then there’s the problem of interpreting these poems, something I am not equipped for. A strange CD with five short tracks of near silence and seven ‘normal’ pieces of music. None of the poems, so it seems, is recited in any way that is ‘normal’. Sometimes, Staraşciuc almost sings; sometimes, there are just vocalisations. And sometimes, there is no voice at all. While I had Elio Martusciello down as a composer of electro-acoustic music, his music on this disc differs from your usual musique concrète approach. When he plays the guitar, we recognise the guitar – at least one more than occasionally. There is also percussion, but there is quite a bit more processing because that side of the music isn’t forgotten. All of this makes quite the fascinating release, going across various musical territories, from musique concrète to post-rock to improvisation and with the voice as sparsely used as he does, this is a great release (for someone who’s not too fond of voices), especially if the voice gets a musique concrète treatment too (in ‘La Luce Ti Affora’). Very nice.
The last is a CD with poems by Gabriele Tinti, photos by Roger Ballen, and Massimo Pupillo’s music. I had not heard of either. Ballen works in black and white and has been doing so in South Africa, where he also draws and sculpts. Tiniti is an Italian poet, focussing on the subject of death and suffering, and Pupillo is a member of Zu (I’m sure I saw a concert by this group) and working as an electronic composer. There are two long pieces where we hear the voice, deep and slow, a bit processed, but much of the music is without reading. The voice is buried within the music, which is a good thing (again, for me), making it more atmospheric. I hadn’t heard any of Pupillo’s music before, but what he does here sounds very interesting. Think of a combination of ambient and electro-acoustic approaches. In general, it is more the first than the last, but with that voice, it works very well as a piece of textured, dense soundscape. There is a third piece, ‘Music For Ill Wind’, which is the soundtrack to Ballen’s film, ‘Ill Wind’, “where the main protagonist might find a meaning, albeit a Sisyphean one, and perhaps also consolation, in his struggles”, so I read in the information. Here, too, but without any words, Pupillo goes for a gorgeous piece of ambient music. Either something heavily processed with digital means, or maybe it is all created through slowing down analogue tapes. Which is something for all the music on this release. I have no idea how he made this, but it sounds great. In the two main pieces, I think it’s primarily electronic means, as in software and computers, but I might be wrong. I am less sure of the final piece, but who cares when it all sounds great! (FdW)
––– Address:
––– Address:


Edition Redux is Vandermark’s latest ensemble. He initially had envisioned the following ensemble (Edition 55): Lily Finnegan on drums, tubist Beth McDonald, cellist Katinka Kleijn and bassist Nick Macri. Due to unforeseen circumstances, both Nick and Katinka had to drop out, and the ensemble morphed into Lily Finnegan on drums, tubist Beth McDonald, pianist/keyboardist Erez Dessel with Vandermark on saxophones (tenor and baritone) and clarinet. According to an interview published on AllAboutJazz, there will be a sextet with Katinka and Nick at some point. Vandermark doesn’t need an introduction. With a career spanning over three decades, he crossed the globe multiple times with numerous ensembles. DKV Trio, Vandermark 5, Peter Brötzmann Tentet & The Ex to name just a few. The other members of Edition Redux are much younger than him but are also more diverse in their musical output. Finnegan is a member of Deodorant, a punk band. McDonald plays in an avant-garde rock band called Korean Jeans. And Erez Dessel wants to bend genres like all the others. Five tracks, seventy minutes of music. Each track is divided into three or four pieces that segue into each other. At the end of each track, you can hear Ken’s comments about that particular recording session. You can only listen to them if you put the volume on high. I could get into each track and tell you how fierce, fabulous, powerful, exhilarating, emotionally charged, funkadelic, and brimming with life the pieces are. It’s a continuation of Vandermark’s previous long(er)time ensemble, Marker. That ensemble had two guitarists: Andrew Clinkman & Steve Marquette. One on each channel. Here, we have no electric bass but tuba for the lower spectrum. McDonald uses electronics in some pieces to add distortion or other electronic trickery to expand her musical output. All four are outstanding musicians, deliver the written material, and provide excellent solos. Musically, you could say that this is a continuation of Miles Davis’s work on the Cellar Door Sessions. But this is so much more. It incorporates all kinds of essential influences for all members and blends them into a kerosine-fueled engine that sometimes goes into interstellar overdrive. It’s not all mayhem, and even that mayhem is controlled and restrained; there’s a beautiful ballad to be heard in Still Bresson. And as usual for Vandermark, there are a lot of dedications:
1. Time Is the Tune (for Lisette Model)/Wols (for Wolfgang Schulze) /Uncommon Object (for Walter Hopps)
2. Summer Sweater (for Betty LaVette)/Matching Shocks (for Anka Ptaszkowska & Henryk Stażewski)/Coherence (for Fred Sandback)/Swan Zig (for Ab Baars)
3. Double Negative (for Michael Heizer)/Still Bresson (for Robert Bresson)/Aperto (for Julius Hemphill)
4. Yau (for John Yau)/Mechanique (for Conlon Nancarrow)/Circuit (Roscoe Mitchell)/Collapsible Shoulder (for Susan Sontag)
5. No Back to Your Jacket (for King Tubby)/Reel to Reel (for John Carter)/Flatlands (for Philip Guston)
If you are willing and able, go see this group live. You can find a few live sets on YouTube, but that’s not the real thing. I couldn’t make it to their gig in Amsterdam. I have to make that up on the next occasion. The seventy minutes fly by, and the material is pretty complex, and the group does an excellent job interpreting the material. A lot is going on, and attentive listening is required to grasp all the details. In short, get this one ASAP. (MDS)
––– Address:


A completely different beast is this debut by the Josh Zubot Strings, a string quintet consisting of three violins (Josh Zubot or his brother Jesse plays the viola on one track, Meredith Bates does the same on another track), a cello (played by Peggy Lee) and acoustic or double bass (played by James Meger). Josh Zubot moved from Montreal to Vancouver and assembled this quintet there. All of them are seasoned musicians in the Canadian music scene. Drawing from all sorts of influences (avant-garde 20th-century music, bluegrass, folk), this is mostly tonal music that swings, touches the heartstrings quite a lot, and impresses with the interplay between the musicians. A solo with a walking bass follows unison parts; in other pieces, a composer like Morton Feldman or Ligeti is echoed (Exploration 1 or 2). In short, it’s a joy to listen to this. But then again: I’m a sucker for well-written, well-played string music. This is a beautiful combination of written-out material and improvisation, or so it says in the liner notes. All players play with conviction and dexterity. This is, at times, complex music with a lot going on. And hell, some melodies are quite hummable! Kudos to Drip Audio to put this out. This has to be heard. (MDS)
––– Address:


A new name, so I believe, is that of Sheldon Suter, from Switzerland. The cover lists the following instruments: percussion, zither, portable turntable, shruti box and harmonica, and “there are no overdub or loop machines in this record” for those who think that is relevant. There are ten pieces of music here; six are called ‘Berceuse’ (meaning ‘lullaby’), and four are called ‘Nocturne’. I guess those titles account for the somewhat quieter tone of the pieces, even when, maybe, not all babies will sleep easily. That’s not to say the music is loud, but it sometimes takes on an abstracter tone, such as the metallic of the zither in ‘Nocturne I’, which may not go down well in the children’s bedroom when it’s time to play a lullaby. It’s easy to see why there are no overdubs: he never plays all his instruments simultaneously. Some amplification is used so that he can lift the material into a world of mild drones and even milder feedback, which works well in the acoustic drone/feedback of ‘Nocturne III’. Playing various instruments, but not all simultaneously, means that within these thirty-eight minutes, there is quite some variation, while the overall tone is a delicacy. Suter’s playing owes to the world of improvised music, but there is enough organisation to keep it interesting for those who don’t like improvised (or only partially). It seems that Suter has a plan to execute and then record it. Maybe multiple times and then choosing the best version of the piece; I wouldn’t be surprised if that is his approach. I liked the release; it’s a careful approach, but I wanted to play some explosive right after this. (FdW)
––– Address:


Frim stands for Free Improvised Music and is a Swedish platform “to promote the ongoing discussion about improvised music as an art form” They organise festivals. Since 2021, they have also had a record label. On the second split release, we find Aviva Endean and Henrik Olsson. Both are no strangers to Vital Weekly; I think Olson has been more reviewed than Endean. He’s also the first on this CD; to his credit, we find turntables and objects. I don’t know what these objects are, but they may include a harmonium or mouth organ. These objects are sometimes placed on the turntable and scanned by the styles, sometimes like what Clinton Green does, but also at times less mechanical as Olsson plays the objects percussively. This gives the music an attractive electro-acoustic edge, helped with the use of feedback-like, sustaining sounds, but throughout his piece, it is not about noise. It all has a relatively mellow approach and a very thoughtful piece of music.
The second track (on a CD, a split release never has the same feel as a split on vinyl; just an observation) is by Aviva Endean, who plays clarinets, electronics, voice and plastic pipes. I assume (for both pieces) that these are live recordings, and as such, I think Endean uses loop devices as there is entirely some layering in her piece; also, quite some delay work. Using that, she extends the sounds beyond the actual playing and creates a pattern of slow and wandering sounds. There is also a mellow approach, almost reflective and spacious; dare I use the word ‘ambient’? Maybe she too realises what happens, as towards the end of her piece, she returns to a more traditional form of clarinet playing, and thus a more conventional form of improvised music, save, perhaps, from her use of the delay machine. All of which makes this an exciting release of the kind of electro-acoustic improvisations I enjoy. (FdW)
––– Address:

MARS F. WELLINK – TERATA (7″ anti record by Wick(ed))

You may remember (ad)VANCE(d), or, earlier, Vance Orchestra. Behind both is Mars F. Wellink from Arnhem (originally from the beautiful city of Nijmegen), who spent his life creating silk screens for artists and doing his own creative work. His latest release is ‘Terata’, a 7″ sized book with 58 pages of silkscreen images. Layered abstract lines, cuts from comic books or old medical books. It has that Risograph look, but it’s all silkscreened. It reminds me of Yeast Culture but is cleaner and more organised. Printed on heavy paper, this is a beautiful object – and as I am not an art critic, that’s all I have to say about this. Wellink calls the record inside an anti-record, a word introduced by Ron Lessard from RRRecords when he first released one by Billboard Combat. Before that, artists made records as objects, but they weren’t called anti-records then. I don’t know if Wellink had a 7″ made with some music or if he uses an old record, but he stuck a sticker in the grooves, with the word ‘Terata’ on one side and ‘Wick/ed’ on the other. That means the record is stuck on a loop; mine skipped around. Children singing on one side, someone talking (Portuguese?) on the other. I played this on my specially designed USB turntable, and it was hard to decipher these grooves, but the idea is that the listener makes a recording and sends it to Wellink for use in a new project. This means you have to do something that may lower the collector’s value of this record: punch a hole in the centre to play in your turntable. If you don’t want to do this, you can’t be part of Wellink’s next project, so I didn’t hesitate to drill a hole. Lovely object! And I am curious what the result will be of the received recordings. (FdW)
––– Address:
––– Address:

EXTRA – MELT/SURROUND (CDR by Chocolate Monk)

As if both Brian Grainger and Howard Stelzer aren’t already busy by themselves (and Grainger much more in that respect than Stelzer), they also work together as Extra, a name that has been used a lot as a band name; just have a look at Discogs. So far, their releases have two titles, separated by a /, and in this case, it’s ‘Melt/Surround’, a forty-seven-minute, single piece of music. As I have known Stelzer for a long time, I asked him for some background information, as it seemed to me that in this work, Grainger was leading the work, and Stelzer was more on the input side of things. That is not how they work. There is input from Grainger’s synthesiser sounds and Stelzer’s cassettes, and they both use their dedicated technology to transform the sounds of the other. Grainger feeds recordings of Stelzer’s cassette manipulations to his modular synth, and Stelzer plays/records modular stuff in unusual locations. They then create various instalments of the piece, working out what ‘works’ and what does not before deciding upon the final version. This mixing, too, is a work of collaboration. Now I know all of this, I am not sure if that changes a lot about what I think about the music. I assumed there was a more digital, maybe a Max/MSP-like component to these drones, so perhaps that’s a surprise, but as before, I enjoy what I hear very much. There is an excellent gentle drone-like aspect to the music, reminding me of the best of the English counterparts, Mirror, Andrew Chalk and Coleclough, for instance, but there are also moments earlier in the piece, which are louder and darker, like being locked in a tunnel with some far-away industrial action (around ten minutes). I fell asleep the first time I heard, which is (according to Brian Eno, I think) a compliment, but also wide awake. This turned out to be another great work of minimalist development. Something both of these men expertly mastered over the years, so nothing in here stays very long or overstays its welcome. Great stuff! (FdW)
––– Address:


You know what shoes this is about. Mark Foggo wrote a song about them in 1980 (‘New Shoes’), and the shoes still fit, although the musical style changed slightly. Foggo did ska, and the shoes are now on the feet of Lob Instagon, who is the driving mind behind the annual NorCal Noisefest, Instagon, the artwork for Love Earth Music and who is connected to Big City Orchestra, +DOG+, as well as the Pissed Off Krishnas From Hell – of whom I’ve never heard but whose name I simply had to write down for laughs and giggles. But, no ska here … Noise and variations of noise. Because it’s Vital Weekly, and I’m writing stuff, right?
“A ‘Lil Test of That” is a short but powerful release. It has nine tracks between 1 and 4 minutes, give or take, totaling 23 minutes. The Noise here is not to be taken too seriously at all moments; “First Move” made me laugh because of the sample. Titles like “Birds in Heat” – recorded live in Phoenix, AZ – might also trigger your funny bone. But this whole album is about another thing: Experiments in Noise and power noise. No rhythms but slowly evolving noisescapes within the short time they’re there. Experiments in layers and sounds, or maybe emotion and Noise. From minimal distorted environmental sounds to short walls powerful enough to break skulls.
I notice it’s pretty challenging to write about this release. Each time I think I’m into the flow, the CD-r ends, and I need to start again. And I keep hearing new things or sounds each time, even though it’s so short. In my book, that’s all positive news. Summarize: A great new project by a guy in checkered shoes. (BW)
––– Address:

CHEFKIRK – GIANT SIZE (CDR by Love Earth Music)

Last year, Roger Smith, a.k.a. Chefkirk release, got into my CD player on three different occasions. I don’t know if I gave him all the credit he deserved because two were collaborations. So, this is the first time I’ve heard a full-length (70 minutes) release by Roger Solo. “Giant Size” was recorded over 17 months, so it’s not a quick ‘oh, lemme do some things and record it’. This one took time, and it shows.
As with some of the other material I’ve heard, there are moments of incoherent noise (yet it’ll probably be very coherent) and moments of rhythm that are not. I tend to speak about structures, recurrences or patterns in those cases. Rhythms are, for me, danceable in some way; structures don’t have to be. There are several moments when Chefkirk’s music has these structures, and I have grown quite fond of them. Side note: I have listened to this album more than once because it’s not ‘easy’ music. Listening more often will open up these compositions. The layering is intense; the tracks are very much telling stories, and the used sounds are constantly evolving. This is in no way a release that you should play once and shelve somewhere.
But being the reviewer, I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. I would love to write more about what I’m hearing because it intrigues me. And on the other hand, I don’t know what to write because it’s on a different level of complexity than what I’m used to. So I’m choosing the easy way out and just say that my favourite track is “Ruined for Days”. It’s what I have been since listening … (BW)
––– Address:

+DOG+ – TEMPORARY GARDENS (CDR by Mechanical Presence Records)

After two releases by MA’s Love Earth Music label, we have a release by the man behind LEM, but on Mechanical Presence Records. Mechanical Presence is run by Luk Henderiks, who we know as New Grasping Machina (see last week), and as a member of Inlet Terror. At this moment, the counter of their releases is just under 60. Among the artists, my eye got stuck on Macronympha and L’eclipse Nue. I got myself some stuff to check out later 😉
Thirty-four minutes of Noise by Steve Davis, a.k.a. +DOG+, and we kinda know what we can expect. Steve doesn’t disappoint this time because the tracks are very well balanced this time. Maybe it’s because I have a new way of listening to sounds while writing; this time, Steve added a bit of extra bass in the mix. Or maybe it was mastered differently, or some equipment changed. I don’t know, but this one sounds more balanced over the frequency spectrum. Less ‘gritty’ and more low-end.
As I said earlier, “Temporary Gardens” isn’t a long album, but a lot is happening in a little over half an hour – cut up into three longer and one short track. The tracks are noisy but have too many breaks to be true HNW. Also, there are a lot of evolving sounds, but they’re too noisy to be called drones. There are many throbbing sounds, yet there are no power electronics.
“Seance” is the short track and seems based on feedback experiments. “Try to forgive them” is a bit subdued and sounds like it’s contact mics on objects – though I have no idea how or what. “Stunning Vista” is by far the noisiest of the bunch, and “Please Please 2” f*cked me up. This one could have been a bit shorter, but I like how the sound evolved in the last few minutes.
The promo on Bandcamp is simple: “an esoteric journey through the mind of Steve Davis.” And my question to the readers: Have you ever actually looked for the meaning of the word esoteric? No? Esoteric adjective intended for or likely to be understood by only a few people with specialized knowledge or interest. I rest my case. (BW)
––– Address:


We reviewed music from Luigi Marino before (Vital Weekly 965 and 1328). He’s primarily a drummer, but on this release, he plays live electronics, which he only describes as ‘digital synthesiser I built’ He tried “to match as much as possible the improv dynamics of an acoustic instrument, and when I can’t, Mandhira tris to match the dynamics of the synth and so on”. All of this was recorded live. I didn’t review his first work, but I immensely enjoyed his collaborative work with Michael Thieke. Perhaps that wasn’t as much part of the world of improvised music as this one. DM is no longer on board at VW, so duties to review this kind of music are getting sparse, even when we receive a lot (and we could do with a lot less). As a weekly mantra, I once again recite; I sometimes like improvised music, sometimes I don’t, and I am far from an expert. The release by Marino and De Saram is sometimes a bit in between liking and not being my cup of tea. The overall, nervous, hectic screeching is not my thing, but when De Saram pulls back and plucks the strings, giving the music ‘air’ if you wish, it becomes pretty interesting. For me, the best part of the cassette is the ending of the third and last track, ‘N3am’. This piece starts somewhat musically, with minor melodies played on the violin. Still, the last ten minutes (half the piece) are reserved for intense slow scraping of the violin, bow strong on the strings, with the synthesiser going into a rich, sustaining pattern, quite drone-like and heavy. Here, the two instruments seem to have found each other. Maybe they do in the rest, but to the untrained ear, even after all these years, there is also a slightly more random approach there. In some way, this cassette is an upward curve, going from the first piece that didn’t blow me away to something I very much enjoyed. Oh, the curious world of improvised music. (FdW)
––– Address:

GRAPHÈME VOLUME 3 (magazine by Smallest Functional Unit)

Here’s the third issue of ‘Graphème’, a magazine about experimental music scores. I reviewed issue 2 in Vital Weekly 1380. This time, the contributions are from Merche Blasco, Nicolas Carrasco, William Engelen, Julian Galay, Cat Hope, Charlotte Hig, Miika Hyytiainen, Lucie Vitkova, Sabine Vogel and Michael Zerang. Again, there are some new names for me. I have to repeat some from the previous review because nothing changed (and that is not a negative observation), “Each of the scores contains a small text by the composers, explaining a bit in general or launching straight into the piece’s instructions. Or just is an explanation. All of this is very graphic and looks great, from schematics and architectural numbering to more abstract images and obscured texts. Even if you are not a musician, this book is a beauty to browse; almost an art catalogue. For me, it is practically an invitation to drop everything I am doing right now, pick one of these scores, and see if I can make a solo interpretation. Still, it will have to wait until later tonight, my dedicated time to think about music.” I am the sort of guy who wonders about graphic scores, especially when I am reviewing music that has such a thing at the start of it, but they are not shown. This is perhaps something vice versa. Great to see them and food for thought: how would this sound? Here’s a thought: why not open up a Bandcamp with interpretations of these pieces by people invited by the publisher? Not necessarily, but also not excluding the composers of these pieces. (FdW)
––– Address: