Number 1424

Week 7

W.RAVENVEER – EVIL DREAMS (CD by The Psykomanteum) *
POINT OF MEMORY – VOID PUSHER (2LP/Tape/CD by Misanthropic Agenda) *
THE BOHMAN BROTHERS – ROOM SERVICE (LP by Rural Isolation Project)
TAC – VIBRATIONS / ARTIFACTS (7” lathe & CDR by Ballast) *
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ZAKHME – KULA (cassette by Industrial Ölocaust Recordings) *
BRUME – NO ZEN MACHINE (cassette by No Rent Records) *


The order in which you see these reviews appear has very little to do with the order in which they are written. There is no particular order; they are in order of format, but that’s it. I mention this because I already wrote a review earlier this week on a release by Reinhold Friedl with Jis group p.o.p. I already know him as a busy bee, but twice in one week means a very busy bee. Here, he teams up with Martin Siewert, who I know for his work with Radian and Trapist, albeit a long time ago. He plays the guitar and electronics while Friedl is behind the piano. The three pieces on this CD are not the result of one live session but of the two men going to the studio various times and mixing their recordings into three pieces of music, a total of 45 minutes. That means there is quite a dense approach here, and I imagine we hear several piano and guitar parts stapled, which works well. Elsewhere in this weekly, I have my share of improvised music for this week, but this CD is also something we can loosely label as improvised music. But since it was mixed from various sources, there is editing, leaving out certain bits and combining other sections. Effectively, it is also the kind of thing one could call composing. Semantics, mister weekly, semantics; stick to the music. I’d say this is a work we could label as musique concrète, the studio as an additional instrument to alter sounds. While much of the music is quite dense, there are also some tranquil moments, with just a few sparse piano sounds and delicate guitar moments. There are a lot of dynamics on this record. ‘Gestade, ‘ the shortest piece, right in the middle of two much longer compositions, can be seen as a transition piece, keeping things quieter for five minutes before the two explode again. As said, in their longer pieces, there are moments of reflection, opening up the music and having some space between the more intense passages. An excellent work that left me gasping for breath. (FdW)
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Last year, Voices Of The Cosmos, the musical project of Rafal Iwanski (also known as X:Navi:et and a member of HATI), Piotr Zuralski and Wojciech Zieba (also known as Electric Uranus) celebrated the 550th birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus, like the musician from Poland. The astronomer wrote about the universe and shifted thinking about it. Voices Of The Cosmos use, quite literally, voices from the cosmos, sounds from pulsars, magnetospheres of planets, the sun, and aurora borealis, as picked up by radio telescopes, along with historical recordings from space missions, and, also quite important, electronic instruments (digital and analogue) and various acoustic objects. Had I not known all of this, I would, most likely, put the music away as ‘mostly based on synthesisers and sequencers’. It’s difficult to avoid the word ‘cosmic’ here, in the German sense of kosmische music. It is not a very Berlin school but rather a modernised version of it; think ambient house department, and you have an idea. Perhaps this is still the case, and all received space communications are used to trigger synthesisers and such like. Listening to this music, this could very well be the case. But, maybe, knowing they use sound from space, my mind starts wondering (wandering?) and I believe I could hear some, here and there; the oddball sounds that they also thrw around, I guess. The cover mentions the group performed the music at scientific institutions and music festivals as audio-visual concerts. While I haven’t seen that, I can imagine these taking place in a black-out space, with massive projections of stars and other celestial objects, maybe a retro-futurist look at the sky above us. The music has that spacious quality to go along with such images, or as the group writes on the cover, the link between astronomy and electronic music is that both deal with technical progress and new technologies, and that’s a link I never fully realised. Still, it’s indeed a very likely connection. As before, I enjoy this kind of music a lot; always been a sucker for ambient, house, cosmic music and the hybrid constructions possible with all of these. (FdW)
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When Malte Steiner started Elektrogehirn in 1996, it was a music project to experiment with software-based sound synthesis, with the name being a reminder of the 1960s name for computers (“electronic brains”). In the following years, Steiner collected more and more other machines used in his project Notstandskomitee, for instance, lots of modular electronics, i.e. hardware. Looking at the current title of the album, one could all too easily believe this now hardware only, but it’s not. Elektronengehirn combines everything now: software, hardware, digital, analogue, virtual and physical. I am not an expert on these matters; I listen to what is offered and try to imagine what I hear, and had I not known about these combinations, I would probably write something along the lines of ‘I know this is electronic music, but I have no idea how this is made’. Perhaps that’s the thing with modular electronics versus software, that it’s no longer ‘versus’. Sure, the trained ear might hear the difference, and you could think that by writing reviews, I have a trained ear, but I lack the formal training and experience to know the difference in the music, which is what matters. Unlike some of his other works, rhythm doesn’t have a place of importance in Elektronengehirn. It all sounds more soundscape-like, abstract, and drone-like, combining the best modern electronics and industrial music. Steiner uses a lot of reverb to suggest deeper space and a much more atmospheric atmosphere, but he controls all of this very well; it’s never too much. The music is, at times, played with considerable force, and nothing is done to smooth things out; it’s the harsh reality of an electronic device, and it’s the (relative) harshness of the music that I enjoy quite a bit. There is quite some variation throughout this hour of music, spread over ten tracks. Nothing lasts too long, nothing hasty, taking the space it needs. It’s lovely stuff altogether and something that reminded me of Jarl, which is a good thing! (FdW)
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W.RAVENVEER – EVIL DREAMS (CD by The Psykomanteum)

‘Evil Dreams’ is my introduction to the music of Belgium’s w.ravenveer, also known as woo linn ravenveer, also known as Erwin van Looveren. He’s from Antwerp, “doing electronic improvisations with modular synths and other devices, tools, guitars, voice, drawings, etc”. Twenty years ago, many reviews in Vital Weekly were about laptop music and these days, there is a lot about modular electronics, but there are many differences. Usually, it’s abstract, drone-like, and techno-ish, but it does not sound much like w.ravenveer. The other day, I was listening to some old Sleep Chamber releases as partly a nostalgia trip and partly research, and the music here reminded me of that. There is that unmistakenly raw, industrial edge to these modular electronics, lots of square tooth waves, creating oddball rhythms, dense patterns, and sometimes he plays it all (too) freely, so there is hardly head or tail. The main difference with his peers is that he uses his voice often. Singing, talking, and chanting like a shaman, a priest, a cult leader, or an alien is especially where I am reminded of Sleep Chamber. Not in w.ravenveer’s loudest moments, for instance, in ‘Alien Tongue’ but in ‘Ding Dong’ or in ‘Stop Loss’, mysteriously pushed to the back of the music. Sometimes I am completely lost in the proposed madness, such as the ‘O Tannebaum’ ending of ‘The Program’; what does it mean? I don’t know. Maybe there is no meaning, no message, just confusion and wackiness and as such, w.ravenveer succeeds very well. While I don’t always ‘understand’ what is going and some tracks are weaker brothers, I greatly enjoyed this. (FdW)
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The Japanese Zappak label is always surprising, with music on the fringe of improvisation, sound art, and conceptual art, plus it usually introduces new names. New names such as Yosuke Morone, who plays electronics and prepared sounds in duet with Takashi Masubuchi on acoustic guitar. I know him from various releases on Ftarri, which is also the location where they played on January 28, 2023, and it’s the first time they played together. Radical music is a perfect example of what the label stands for. Two pieces on this CD are named after their duration, ‘[34:18]’ and ‘[33:02]’. The first opens with a high-frequency sine wave sound, which is piercingly loud (and I can’t imagine what it sounds like to someone thirty years younger than me), and the guitar plays individual notes, very quiet and sparse. Think Taku Sugimoto but with a backing of sine waves. Slowly, these sine waves (created with function generators) alter in white noise and, towards the end of this piece, intense bass sounds. The high piercing tones don’t return in the second piece, in which Morone’s contribution is quite different. More like obscured tape hiss, being slowly amplified. In both pieces, there is a gradual build-up towards something much louder (but not noisy). There isn’t much interaction between both players, but that’s the idea of the music here: no responding to each other. The guitar sounds clean, while the electronics are deliberately vague and strange. This works better in the second piece than in the first piece.
The name Kaori Komura popped up in Vital Weekly 1393 when she worked with Kazumoto Endo on a track for a compilation, and she plays Korean percussion instruments. In the 1980s, she was a hardcore punk band GISM member. Yutaka Hirose is a tuba player from Tokyo. He’s also “a member of some bands and ensembles such as “tail”, “Zayaendo”, “Aosaba” and “Itsuki-Hirose”. This CD shows a more traditional side of Zappak’s interest in improvised music. The two pieces were recorded a year ago at Permian in Tokyo. Both instruments sound the way they are supposed to, even when I haven’t got a particular notion about the percussion; it sounds percussion, drum, and cymbal-like. I think their music is all about interaction, and they cleverly play with the notion of loud versus quiet. Sometimes, they are both quiet or loud and sometimes, there is that distinction. In ‘Roaring Pulse’, Komura plays an ongoing rhythm at various points, which you do not often see in improvised music. It’s something I somehow enjoy, maybe as something to hang to in what otherwise may come across as slightly more chaotic. At just under an hour long, this is quite a ride, perhaps better enjoyed with one piece at a time. Let this be my choice of improvised music for this week.
And lastly, p.o.p. (psychology of perception) is preferred in lowercase; I am not sure why you would write between brackets what p.o.p. stands for. Why not use one or the other but not both simultaneously? This is the CD that is not by Japanese musicians, and also to have more than two pieces of music, and is a double CD. I reviewed their ‘Tabriz’ CD in Vital Weekly 888 when p.o.p. was a duo of Reinhold Friedl (piano) and Hannes Strobl (electric bass). With their second release, ‘Ikebana’ (not reviewed in Vital Weekly), they were a quartet, adding Nara Krahl (cello) and Elena Kakaliagou (French horn). The information says, “Alien Stewardess”, concentrates on the question: What do the musicians’ bodies know? Four individual musicians, each with his/her own sound and body memory, create a network of interferences and thus a multiplication of the sonic-kinetic perspectives: sensual, three-dimensional, and organic. Let yourself be guided by the alien stewardess in and out of time and space! Enjoy the journey…” This is the sort of text that is too cryptic for me. It reads well, but what does it mean? As with the previous Zappak release, this is all very nicely improvised, albeit of a much different kind, but two discs spanning some 150 minutes of music is a bit much. In their common approach, they like their sounds to be close together, like an acoustic (almost, that is) drone, out of which small sounds pop (pun intended) up. Because their pieces are long, twenty to thirty minutes (except the first ten minutes), playing this music must sometimes be an endurance test, with full-on concentration. Each piece is like a massive and dense cloud; if you look closely, you’ll see the more minor changes. Maybe there is some chaos, too; if you listen closely, it seems as if not much of this makes much sense, and at the same time, there is that tranquil feeling, almost spacious music. Maybe it’s not strange to think of this music as a fruitful meeting of improvisation and modern composition. Great release, but very long. (FdW)
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POINT OF MEMORY – VOID PUSHER (2LP/Tape/CD by Misanthropic Agenda)

The fun thing about reviewing is the sometimes completely unknown stuff you get to review. This is also, at moments, the curse because it can be really shitty, but hey! I started this review with ‘fun’ so yeah, “Void Pusher” by the utterly unknown Point of Memory, about whom I wasn’t able to find anything online, definitely falls in the ‘holy shit, this stuff is amazing’-category. Over an hour of music on CD and cassette and if you found the 2LP version, even an extra track which is vinyl only, that track isn’t even included in the digital version, which I am currently listening to. And their website mentions the words ‘Point of Memory is completely anonymous’; Even IF I knew who was behind this, I probably wouldn’t tell you. Some Secrets are best kept secret.
“Void Pusher” is released on the Texan Misanthropic Agenda label by Gerritt Wittmer. Quite some heavy stuff on there, like Merzbow, Lockweld, LHD and Sissy Spacek, but it’s not all noise. And this release is maybe the best proof of it. The website, as well as the promo, tells us a lot about the process of how this album was created. All generated sounds were played into a room and were rerecorded before being used in a composition. And that’s where the concept becomes interesting for ‘freaks like us’ (read: nerds like me). We all know a little bit about resonance. It’s the frequency of materials or objects. Every object has a frequency hidden inside itself; it’s why glasses break with the right pitch, it’s why bridges collapse, and it’s when the snares of a snare drum start trembling or the windows rattle. Rerecording (electronically generated) sounds before using them will give the original sounds extra layers because of these added artefacts, Even though maybe the finesses of the actual sound are a bit less because they leave the digital domain (filtered), harmonics get added through rerecording them.
Musically, we’re talking gorgeous ambient here, lively, organic sounds, some oh-so-minimal noise, some recognizable instruments like the guitars in “Doom’s Hand Reaching For Your Moment Of Triumph”, but it’s all an intense atmosphere of maybe a couple of friends locked up in a cabin in the woods, writing a soundtrack for the time they’re spending together. In this case, it just wasn’t a couple of friends, but one determined unknown human who wanted to make a beautiful album. (BW)
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Made you look! And no, we are not kidding you. This is an actual release; it’s playing at this exact moment, and I’m as surprised as you are. Jack Dangers is known as the one continuous member of Meat Beat Manifesto who, in their turn, have been a constant factor in experimentation with beats and sounds, resulting in being called one of the most influential groups when it comes to techno, breakbeat, industrial, dub, trip-hop, breakbeats and drum ‘n bass. THAT Jack Dangers has lined up with Masami Akita, the only Merzbow member, known for being the godfather of Japanese noise with his 400+ releases and still counting. And admit it: that is not a collaboration you thought could happen or would happen.
Cold Spring from the UK released the two long tracks (and a shorter radio ‘friendly’ remix of one of them, which you can find on Soundcloud, for example). They created and released it on three formats: CD, black vinyl and limited red vinyl. And as always with the CSR, they release beautiful artwork by Abby Helasdottir / Gydja, but … You know, the release is still playing. This is some heavy stuff. With proper promotional texts and info, although there is one thing missing in those texts: Whose idea was it? What triggered these men to do this? Was it an idea of CSR-HQ to connect two people in their network? Was it Jack visiting a Merzbow concert and having a talk afterwards? Or did Masami approach Jack? That would be something that would be interesting as a little extra info. For me, at least. I’ll tell you why when we go through the tracks.
“Extinct” has two tracks, the 20-minute ‘¡FLAKKA!’ And the 15-minute ‘Burner’. The two tracks are quite different in their approach. “¡FLAKKA!” is based firmly on the beats of Jack with added noise(s) from Masami. Not in a cut and paste kinda way, but more in the way of meticulously layering them and placing them on the moments where they should be. The noise and the rhythmic layer are constantly progressing, creating beautiful chaos. The almost 5-minute radio edit shows this, too, and in all honesty, any radio station playing this has some proper gonads. It’s a radio edit, but radio-friendly is a whole different story. The 15, almost 16-minute ‘Burner’ has the same layered approach but seems way more noisy than ‘¡FLAKKA!’. The beats or rhythmic parts seem more loop-based. Kinda like the parts of the rhythmic structure were sampled from a noise track.
‘Extinct’ reminded me a bit of the more noisy performances at the legendary Maschinenfest festivals I’ve attended over the years. Like pre-Hands ORPHX or early Synapscape, maybe. So I like? Hell, yes, it’s a welcome addition to the CSR catalogue and my collection. But it’s not ‘new’ to my ears. But having said that, that’s also not a bad thing. It might open the doors for people to become reacquainted with some beautiful music / rhythmic noise made in the last 20 or so years. Maybe that’s why one of the tracks is called “¡FLAKKA!” because it serves as a gateway drug to … Hmm … Who knows … (BW)
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Following a few albums in which Wittenburg worked with instruments, sometimes in combination with electronics, he now returns with a purely electronic album, in combination with field recordings, more precise, raindrops on a windowpane (about the title), but also clock ticking and heating noise. It’s not something I am guessing, but I know this because of the titles Wittenburg attaches to his pieces. He adds electronics, more precise metasynth and kyma to these field recordings. It’s interesting to hear such an electronic album on the Wandelweiser label, but Wittenburg shares his love for all things quiet with the other composers. In the information, he writes that this is similar to John Cage, looking for the music in everyday sound. In Vital Weekly, this isn’t anything out of the ordinary other than the quietness. I am not a John Cage expert, but I also wonder why many people think his music should be quiet. His performance of his composition ‘Cartridge Music’ wasn’t exactly quiet. In Wittenburg’s music, we recognise the sound sources and the mild processes he applies to these. It all sounds okay, nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary, but, again, I blame listening to this kind of microsound (is that a term people still use?) for a long time (well, in and out, not every day and not all day). I hear the Cage legacy, I applaud the musical side of everyday sound, and Wittenburg does an excellent job. Still, I already knew from his previous releases that he was a skilled electronic music composer. Coupled with only 27 minutes, this is a bit of a disappointment. (FdW)
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In the past week, I played this album a few times, and every time, I found it hard to make up my mind. One thought was, is this music for Vital Weekly? Some of it surely isn’t. I read the information about Myhr composing this work during the height of the pandemic, “about the acknowledging and acceptance of disaster”, and with the piece in eleven parts by the Kitchen Orchestra, it has a strangely varied approach. Should you know nothing about this album, you could quickly think this is a collection of various pieces, unconnected for most of the time. The information also mentions that this is darker music, but maybe my head is too buried in dark ambient to hear this; that said, it’s not very bright. The music crosses post-rock, jazz, improvisation boundaries and more straightforward rock music. Most pleasant to hear, even when I lack the vocabulary to write about this, I don’t know enough about this kind of music, historically speaking and composition in general. I know this isn’t enough for a review, but it is what it is. I enjoyed hearing this, and I liked some tracks better than the others. I urge you to investigate yourself if you want a different take on modern composition, as that’s what I think this is. (FdW)
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THE BOHMAN BROTHERS – ROOM SERVICE (LP by Rural Isolation Project)

It’s been many years since I saw a concert by The Bohman Brothers, Johnathan and Adam, and, later, by Adam solo. Still, it was undoubtedly one of the more exciting concerts in the realm of electro-acoustic improvisation. A large table was covered with many objects: metal, spoons, forks, cups, wooden constructions with strings, plastic objects, tin cans, styrofoam, glass, tiles and much more (I happen to have a photo in my archive of Adam’s set up). They use hands, bows, sticks, and contact microphones to play these objects into a wild collage of sounds rapidly. In my humble opinion, it has very little to do with improvised music, even when I don’t know why. There are three live pieces on this new LP, and the other seven are studio constructions. I think I can state that one can hear this. In some of their studio work, they have a denser approach to their material, endlessly layering the cake with more and more sounds, whereas their live recordings are the opener. I think they also use media sources, like Dictaphones, short wave or old vinyl, something I didn’t hear in their earlier work (and I readily admit I haven’t listened to their complete output). I immensely enjoy this contrast between the super busy sound constructions and their approach to small sounds on the verge of silence. Not many pieces deal with text, which they know to do. Check out any of their live recordings on YouTube, which should be used as inspiration if you think of doing this sort of music yourself. There are lots of sounds to be generated from the strangest objects. Some of the material is quite noisy, but maybe The Bohman Brothers realised they were releasing something on a label known for its noise orientation, but perhaps I am reading something in this that isn’t there. I immensely enjoyed this LP, especially the denser and noisier approach, which I appreciated. At the same time, it was also a reminder of that extraordinary concert so many years ago, and I wished I could see them again. (FdW)
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These days, there are a lot of releases by David Lee Myers. I don’t wish to speculate about why, as there could be several reasons for a bigger influx of new releases. If you are a fan, many releases might be no problem (maybe financially), but for a reviewer, many releases mean it’s not easy to figure out the relation between them. I know there was one that particularly stood out some time ago, one that was distinctly different from Myers’ output, but which one? About ‘Resonant Coil ’23’, Bandcamp mentions these are “stringed noise cycles from 2001, reinvigorated, remastered, rereleased 2023”. In 2001, I also followed what Myers did, long before that, actually, but I don’t recall such a release from 2001 (but old age and many releases may cloud my memory). As far as I can see, the eleven pieces on this new release deal in some way with a string-like sound. I am unsure if these are generated using his feedback-like set-up, but as I also know, Myers refined his method a lot over the years. Pure feedback or harsh noise hasn’t been part of his game for a long time. The pieces here have a rather calming mood, textured and ambient-like. Reflective music is something we know from his work, but it is also a bit more melodic, not always and throughout, with some of the music also belonging to the world of more conventional drone music. That might be a new thing or something not as apparent in much of Myers’ other work. Great music, once again, and that’s me talking as both a fan and reviewer; I have been following his music for a long time and enjoying it all along. Maybe I’m not the most objective reviewer, but so be it. It’s not the greatest of his work, but it’s an interesting diversification. (FdW)
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TAC – VIBRATIONS / ARTIFACTS (7” lathe & CDR by Ballast)

Both TAC and Jacob Deraadt haven’t reviewed a lot in Vital Weekly. In TAC’s case, this is undoubtedly because much of his work is released in minimal editions, usually given away privately. I am unsure about Deraadt’s work, who sometimes works as Sterile Garden and why it hardly reaches me; I don’t wish to speculate.
TAC (also known as Tom Cox) has a lathe cut 7″ and a CDR, in an edition of 24 copies, and goes back to TAC’s earliest work, from 1991 to 1997. That’s when I first heard his music, which I found refreshing because it wasn’t noise in a traditional sense at all, but working with the waste material of our society, amplifying this and, maybe (!) adding field recordings. In the past, I may have used references to the likes of Small Cruel Party, Jeph Jerman, Joe Colley, and Chop Shop, and to some extent, that is still the case, but TAC’s music is also something different. The CDR, for instance, is one endless stream of sound, a collage of field recordings, some very closely made and others from far away. Also, there is a lot of object abuse here, tossing about objects (and I have no idea what they are). I don’t think back when I thought of this in terms of Dictaphones, but maybe cassettes only; I am no longer sure and think using a Dictaphone is very much a TAC technique. TAC loops some of this material, short and longer, and some played once. The next step is sticking all of this on bits of magnetic tape, which he then chops up and stitches back in a highly random way. Because there are no individual pieces, it all becomes an endless stream of sound, in which there is, deliberately, no head and tail and something you get sucked into. The two shorter pieces on the lathe cut are different. Here, TAC works with a more compositional approach of metal rods dragged across a surface, along with some highly obscured on one side and a deep bass drone opening on the other side, gradually moving towards something that works with individual sounds of contact microphone abuse but with that bass drone lingering in the backside. 7″ and CDR are definitely two different sides of TAC. Sadly, it’s another small edition of something that more people should hear.
As said, I never reviewed many releases from Sterile Garden, Jacob Deraadt’s previous project. I once saw him in concert, but it was a faded memory like the releases. If I remember, it was made with crude tape manipulations, which weren’t over-the-top blasts of noise but interesting lo-fi rumbling. ‘Universal Hotel’ is the second release for which he uses his own name and primarily uses field recordings taken from the places he used to live in. The titles describe the places where he made his recordings; ‘Water Bridge’, ‘Agate Beach’, ‘Kluis Geheugen’ (Dutch for ‘vault memory’, whatever that is), or ‘Various Fields’, which I think means various fields together. Each of the seven pieces has a minimalist look at these locations. I don’t think he sticks a microphone in the air, does a five-minute recording, and that’s it. In each piece, he uses various recordings from that place and lets the various sounds work together to find a dialogue between them, albeit a minimal one. Sometimes too minimal, such as in ‘Agate Beach’, which is the ocean rolling in, but usually more enjoyable with sounds from shafts, ventilators, etc. The minimalism works very well here, gently rolling in and out with various sounds. ‘Universal Hote 1000’ (a number following all track titles, but I have no idea what that means) is with twelve minutes the longest, but with the Xerox machine sound, it all sounds captivating. I have no idea if there is some kind of manipulation other than mixing a few sounds, but it all sounds great, even when not the most original field recordist, but who cares about that? (FdW)
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Well, there’s a title that might cause some problems when I send this out, but it’s also so wacky that I think, why not reprint ‘as is’? Behind Monad Node is one Jan from Freiburg, and he writes that his music is all about “improvisations with a modular synth, semi-modular synthesizers, a drum machine, samples from cassette tapes I found in the trash, radio waves, self-made junk, solder burns. One of the track titles is a translation of the audio into text by AI. Doesn’t seem very intelligent to me, though. No overdubs – no gods – no masters.” CDRs are sold at the price of postage plus what you want. Perhaps this is one of those weeks where we have a few modular releases, all a bit different. Monad Node taps into the whole powerful drone approach, harsh rhythmic textures, and broken cosmic music, meaning it is raw and untamed in whatever musical genre he’s playing his music. The element of improvisation is kept to a minimum, not endlessly doodling away but keeping within tighter compositional fields. The result is a highly varied disc, almost like a compilation of various musicians working with modular tools. Some tracks are a bit too long; it seems that the five-minute point is his preferred length; above six, it becomes too long for what the compositions contain throughout a most enjoyable release.
I also received an earlier release, ‘Neue Frakturen’, which sees him working with more gear (“modular synthesizer, effect pedals, a microphone, a contact microphone, field recordings, samples, radio waves, goats, an Indian tongue drum, brass bells, broken electronic devices and other junk I found in the trash or destroyed while trying to build something useful. No overdubs, nothing useful built”) but with results that very much along similar lines. Here, too, the longer, the less interesting a piece (except the longest, surprisingly, perhaps, ‘Tough Guys Don’t Call Me Anymore’, which has a rather ambient approach and one that works very well, but in his short and concise approaches, it all works very well. There seem to be more rhythmic pieces here than on the one with the long title. I know it is a bit much played back to back, but it is very lovely music. (FdW)
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ZAKHME – KULA (cassette by Industrial Ölocaust Recordings)

Sometimes, expectations are firmly shattered. Industrial Ölocaust sounds industrial and power electronics, plus this: “Kula is a symbolic exchange generating syncretic cosmologies. Sound and polyphonic embrace a mixture of connections and celestial atmospheres. Kula as a digital-tribal ritual amplifies new forms of life than explodes within vibrant environments.” But, as these things happened, I started playing this cassette, and at a certain point, I looked up, thinking, what was it that I was playing? I get distracted by things, or, also very likely, the music has a grip on me, which is the case here.
Zakhme is a duo of Alessandro Barbanera (guitars, synths, field recordings, analogue tape machine, found sounds) and Gianluca Ceccarini (guitars, synths, field recordings, electroacoustic objects). There is nothing noisy here, no power electronics, and even when it is all about rituals, there is not much tribal percussion. The music is about Kula, “the ritual exchange of gifts practised among the people of the Trobriand Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Shell necklaces and other ornamental objects, which take on magical-religious meanings, are exchanged between the various islands during the ceremony, following a circular route”, plus what I quoted earlier. It’s not something I checked, as I don’t always fact-check, not wanting to get in the way of a good story, but it sounds good anyway. There are three lengthy pieces on this cassette, totalling over forty minutes, and the music is elegant ambient beauty. Gentle washes of synthesiser sounds, heavily processed guitars, and a few glitchy rhythms (very mild) in ‘Parte III: Stella del mattino / Risveglio’ something that reminds of sounds of shells, looped in windchime-like percussion and this part also something that reminds me of vocals. Of course, at times, there are field recordings, best heard in ‘Parte II: Hýpnos’, crickets mingling with the looped, scratched record and big synth washes. Loops may play a significant role in this music, but with all the added effects, it gets a more natural drift, slowly passing and changing. As with all great ambient music, this feels like a trip. I had no trouble not thinking about the background story, just taking the music as it is because it’s beautiful atmospheric music. Excellent cassette! (FdW)
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BRUME – NO ZEN MACHINE (cassette by No Rent Records)

Do we in this scene say we are ‘fans’ of someone? Or is it more like how we ‘admire’ certain artists? Because I have it with a few artists – Christian Renou being one of them – that I’m caught in between these two. If something is released, I tend to check it out when possible, buying it if I can, and every time I make a new order at one of the mail orders where we all get our music from, I always check if there’s not a golden oldie for a nice price that can be added to my collection. Am I the only one? Are there more like me among you? Is therapy needed? Or should I stop worrying and just appreciate the art I can get my hands on, get inspired, and don’t worry about what it’s called? A new Brume tape was released on No Rent Records from Philadelphia, and it’s so amazing. I have been listening the whole week, and every moment I had while working or needing a moment of rest, I played it. Honestly!
‘No Zen Machine’ is a tape in an edition of 100 copies and the possibility of owning it digitally. ‘For analog & digital electronics, metal, field recording, 60’s radio, voice, tape’ it states on the minimal but very tasteful artwork and all those ingredients are indeed there. The concept behind this release is hard to explain, so I’ll suffice by copying/pasting what Christian had to say about it himself. “This new material serves as a reflection on an experience from a few years ago that was inexplicable on a profound level. While I don’t generally have a strong interest in paranormal occurrences, when encountering strange and unexplainable phenomena, I feel compelled to acknowledge and address them. This material can be seen as a testimony to recount and share the details of my personal experiences.”
And when you listen to these two tracks (both approximately 30 minutes – so it’s an hour of music), the creepiness of the ‘unexplainable phenomena’ can indeed be heard. There is a ghostly, dissonant atmosphere everywhere, with voices everywhere, leaving you with an uneasy feeling. Yet when it’s done playing, you still have a feeling of closure. You’ve just heard an hour of really unsettling noises, but you don’t feel unsettled; The emotion has been placed in the composition. In short, something happened, and closure was found by making art. The emotion that comes with closure is reflected in these works. Now, that’s powerful if you ask me.
Music Brume’s sound can go all over the place, but this is the most ambient I’ve heard from him in a long time. And as you know, I’m a sucker for ambience and drones. This one is entirely up my alley. And as the tape is already sold out at the label, you shouldn’t hesitate when you find a copy at your favourite mailorder. Amazing stuff! (BW)
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