Number 1425

Week 8

THE TAPES – A TOUCH OF DESPAIR (CD by Unexplained Sounds Group) *
BENEDICT TAYLOR & DIRK SERRIES – OBSIDIAN (CD by Creative Sources Recordings) *
FILAX STAËL – TRACES (10″ by Rev Lab/Agoo) *
SPRUIT – MINALISTIC (3″CDR, private) *
LÄRMSCHUTZ / GINTAS K – SPEAK / WET (cassette by Attenutaion Circuit/Grubenwehr Freiburg) *
THANOS FOTIADIS – THE HOPE REALM (cassette by Esc.Rec) *
MEAKUSMA JANUARY 2024 (magazine)


SYM is a sub-division of Drone Records, and if their past track record says anything about the future, then we’ll have a series of beautiful CDs with highly atmospheric music. Such things are always well-off in the capable hands of Mathias Josefson from Sweden, who has worked for many years as Moljebka Pvlse (oddly enough, I never myself what this means). Whereas his music sounds all mysterious, the title is very descriptive. What is music more than a map in time with frequencies? Having said that, the cover collage of holiday snaps and musicians is mysterious here. On some of his releases, as Moljebka Pvlse, Josefson had some guest players, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. As with much music of this ilk, the atmospheric drone stuff, it’s hard to guess what kind of instruments are used, and they are rarely mentioned, certainly not on this one. With Moljebka Pvlse, I have always had this vision of stringed instruments, Tibetan bowls, and electronics. I was playing some old Organum CDs the other (in another attempt to use my spare time to hear whatever music accumulated here over the years), and I don’t know if Organum is of any influence on Moljebka Pvlse, but I certainly can see some similarities. The long-form string sounds, sometimes harsher, sometimes quieter, the heavily processed other sounds, and the long-form composition are certainly among the similarities. With Moljebka Pvlse, there is less of a conceptual edge to the music; no five seemingly the same compositions on one CD. At seventy minutes, the music starts ‘somewhere’ and ends ‘somewhere else’ and in between, it slowly meanders about, not necessarily forward, but backwards, sideways and sometimes doesn’t move at all, which is excellent. This music is not something one should overthink or overanalyse, but rather dive into and enjoy the immersive quality, and that’s something that Moljebka Pvlse does very well. Critically, one could say that many of the Moljebka Pvlse releases sound the same, but maybe that’s his conceptual edge.
In atmospheric music, there is a particular corner for Contrastate. That’s mainly because they occasionally use voices in their music, singing or reciting text. You must like that as part of the overall atmospheric tone. I am not always a fan, as it breaks the delicate character of the music, but there are instances that I don’t mind; quite a dualistic approach, but so it goes. I thought the title was to be the program of the CD, a world that has life without agriculture, but why are the eight pieces named after cities (Strasbourg, Moscow, Rome, Tehran) and years (1928, 1918, 1921, 1966)? Drone Records’ says, “an album as “re-imagining” some of the DADAist, futurist, and surrealist clubs of the 20th century, from Moscow 1918 over Tehran 1966 to Münster 1997″ – I have no idea what kind of club that should have been in Münster 1997, but, alright, Berlin 1968 and Zürich 1916, yes, I know what that is supposed to be about. It’s not easy to see these historical art movements in the pieces on this CD unless we see them as collages of sounds using all sorts of input. Many times, this input dissolves into the used electronics, and it’s not the machine world of futurism or the humour of dadaism, I think (not an expert per se), but rather the surrealism approach, meaning strange sonic constructions that, at face value, don’t make much sense, but nevertheless sound fascinating. There is only one piece in which a text is recited and another in which a female voice is used, but otherwise, it seems all instrumental. There is something lovely old-fashioned about the music here, a throwback to the early days of Contrastate when I used the term ‘ambient industrial’ a lot. Primitive orchestral sampling, taped-down keyboards and primitive multi-track technology, with a bit of reversed sounds and more collage-like sounds, were added to the synthesiser washes. Maybe they use much better technology these days, but they manage to get that ‘old’ sound – and I mean this very positively. That’s not to say they didn’t move on, and I think they did. There’s a lot of clarity in their pieces, all well-defined sounds and quite a bit of tension in these atmospheric masses of sound; they certainly picked up some tricks and advice along the way, and it shows in the quality of this album. The concept might be lost on me, but as you should know, I don’t mind. I can enjoy this music all the same. Excellent work. (FdW)
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In the big, evil, outside world, way beyond the limited visibility of Vital Weekly (and mind you, I am not complaining), there is a whole subculture of semi-well-known bands with an alternative view of pop music, owing to that world, but the alternative version (usually re-hashing old stuff, but that’s another topic). In the slipstream of punk came post-punk in the early 1980s, and as part of that, bands worked with the idiom of pop music but did something original, different or difficult with that, and not reheating an old dinner. In The Netherlands, two examples spring to mind: Mekanik Kommando and Nasmak. I shall return to the first soon, as something old is being re-issued, but today it’s Nasmak. Their second LP, ‘4Our Clicks’, has recently been re-issued, and at the same time, there’s ‘It’s Long Since You Last Did Me’. Nasmak was first called Nasmaak (after taste), but when they no longer played songs with Dutch lyrics, changing the name included early Plus Instruments’ Truus de Groot, and the group released some fine albums in which they experimented with the pop idiom, disco music and new wave and had a distinctly unique sound. They also released six cassettes with bits and pieces from the rehearsal space, which not many bands did. These cassettes provided a unique insight into their working methods: band members changing instruments, using objects and lots of weirdness. For the noise boy I already was in 1983, these cassettes were the real thing, but at the same time, I enjoyed their LPs, too. ‘4Our Clicks’ is hailed as their masterpiece (to some, the best Dutch LP ever; obviously, I don’t agree, as I dug the one after that, ‘Duel’, even more.
Somewhere in the mid-1980s, the group fell apart, with drummer Toon Bressers, bassist Theo van Eenbergen and Henk Janssen operating a studio in Eindhoven and guitarist Joop van Brakel going to the theatre, but ever since the revival of Ultra, the Dutch version of No New York, in 2012 (and of which Nasmak wasn’t a part, but Plus Instruments was, and Bressers teaming up with De Groot again), there was contact again between the members, resulting in a best of their cassettes on LP (and the complete cassettes soon on Bandcamp; there are already some old records of theirs available), and Bressers, Van Brakel en Henk Jansson working as Nasmak PM, which is PM as in post mortem but plus-minus, but also perpetuum mobile; De Groot plays along on three of the nine pieces. In line with the old approach of constantly changing songs or re-doing old ones, this new recording sees them returning to their old material and taking a full-on new approach. There are songs on this album that I am sure I know from a previous incarnation, but sadly, some of the group’s older material sank away too much. There are only so many hours a day, and there is not yet a healthy way to skip sleep. These nine pieces are driven by pulses, beats, rhythms, and layers of vocals, and it’s easy to see why the group calls their music ‘densemusic’, a wordplay on the density of the music and the rhythmic side of the music, but also the multiple voices they sometimes use within a track. This sounds like classic Nasmak and, yet, also as an updated version. Motorik rhythms, heavy on the electronics and the guitar sound, are not forgotten. The overall sound is excellent, but that’s hardly a surprise working in studios for so many years. Maybe this is the kind of popular music that is outside the scope of Vital Weekly (but what kind is in the scope? Exactly), but as a chief editor, I decide it is very much inside. If you like the music of Plus Instruments and ever wondered about Nsmak, it’s now the time to dive in. There’s more to come! (FdW)
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THE TAPES – A TOUCH OF DESPAIR (CD by Unexplained Sounds Group)

In the early 1980s, The Tapes were a great new wave/post-punk/rock band from Amsterdam; I am sure there are many other groups and projects called The Tapes. One was the project of Giancarlo Drago from Italy, who recorded a lot of music between 1982 and 1992 but released very few of his songs. I never heard of it until ‘A Touch of Despair’, consisting of two lengthy parts of the title piece from 1986, which was released privately on cassette back then, re-issued on cassette in 2016 and three shorter, unreleased pieces from the same period. The music uses a primitive setup of a four-channel mixer, a self-built analogue echo unit, a Korg MS20 and toy instruments, all going into a two-track tape. Perhaps a limited setup but with some excellent results, efficiently meeting with the best of that time. This could be an early example of what we later would call ambient industrial (see also the Contrastate review). The music has a nicely layered, dense sound but always retains its clarity. There is also something neatly primitive about this music. I’m sure this is because multi-tracking was not an option. That means sometimes things go on too long or dwell too much on using sound effects. This is no problem because that is something very much of the time this was made. In the two longer pieces, the music is sustaining and more ambient-like, whereas in the shorter pieces, it becomes more industrial, with its synth bounce sounding like a mildly mannered jackhammer in ‘Entrance Part 1’. The cover mentions Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Burroughs, and science fiction authors, who were, in those days, the inspiration for a lot of people. Yet these influences are buried deep in the music here, as The Tapes do their thing and do it well. As said, sometimes it meanders a bit too much, but that is something we should see as a sign of those times. I see more releases from those days, so there may be more re-issues. (FdW)
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Fibrr Records from London, UK, is a label that has a small output. But the few releases I have from them do make an impact. The CD I reviewed from them before this one was ‘Blast 23’ by Blast Of Silence. Which is a live collaboration between label owner Julien Ottavi and Kasper T. Toeplitz ( In that review, I wrote, “Not a minute of this thing does not intrigue me in some way”, and somehow, this release has the same effect. As for the medium CD, this release is just too short, with A total playing time of only 37 minutes, but having said that, the price on Bandcamp is only €8. Maybe this should be considered a mCD instead of a full-length release. I don’t know. And actually, I don’t care too much, because it’s about the music. Right? And that is beautiful, without any doubt!
The release contains two tracks of two live recordings Julien and Zbigniew did together. Dates were May and September 2012, location Les Ateliers de Bitche in Nantes. Which also explains the title of this release. The live sets were by two guys with laptops, and as for used software, that’s a guess for everybody. The opening track (the May recording) is 17 minutes long and starts with a piercing sound. But if you play it loud enough, you hear voices in the background. Was this recorded with microphones in the venue, or is it a subtle aspect added by one of the artists? The track evolves relatively quickly into a more drone-like structure, and after 6 minutes, it almost falls silent. There is some deep rumbling, and then a lovely piece of noise crawls from the silence, abruptly ending to make space for the September recording.
The September recording is 20 minutes, and the dynamics of the first few minutes and the reverb make me think this was a microphone recording but rest assured, it’s done properly. Again, there are two guys with laptops, so there is a lot of digital sound creation. There are way more dynamics and sudden changes in the composition than in the first track, and a high-pitched noise breaks into silence and a few voices after 7 minutes. Voices (French, I don’t speak French at all). Microscopic sounds. What’s happening… The silence makes me wish there was a video… And again, slow building noise, breaks, piercing feedback, high frequencies … Very lovely sets. Makes you wish you were there. But you know you can’t. Zbigniew Karkowski died in Peru ten years ago on December 12, 2013. The cover states, “[this release] stands as a poignant tribute to the memories of the incredible moments we shared and the powerful music we created together.” (BW)
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BENEDICT TAYLOR & DIRK SERRIES – OBSIDIAN (CD by Creative Sources Recordings)

My usual questions about the releases of improvised music come up again when I play this new CD by Benedict Taylor (viola) and Dirk Serries (archtop guitar). They recorded their duet on 11 August last year in a chapel in Belgium. Serries get credit for the mixing, and that’s the first question: what’s there to be mixed? To what extent does mixing alter the music? Does it still compare with what the audience heard that day? My best guess is that it does. The concert is divided into seven pieces of music, and maybe it covers pretty much the whole concert; the CD lasts almost an hour (perhaps they played multiple sets?). And then, was this a tour or a one-off and if it was from a tour, can we assume this is the best concert, so it got onto a CD? It’s not the first time I have addressed such matters, partly because this world of improvisation remains a bit mysterious in that respect, and I wonder why things are as they are. Perhaps it’s a spoiler, but I enjoyed the music, but I found the whole hour a bit much (and yes, also something I wrote more than once; I know, one doesn’t have to play the entire CD in one session; I always do). What I like about the music is the intimate setting of the sounds. While Taylor and Serries may use superficially chaotic sounds, they keep it small and sparse. Not necessarily quiet; that’s something else; they don’t play with the notion of silence that much. But most of the time, they keep playing ‘small’ and ‘together’. And odd as it may sound, together doesn’t mean there is much of a call and respond thing going on here; each man is an island here, it seems, but together, it creates an exciting myriad of sounds, and it’s not always possible to find your way in there. Still, it’s nevertheless great as it is. Their approach to the instruments is not very traditional, even when Taylor more than Serries, I think; the latter plays the strings without plucking or bowing, it seems, more stroking and stretching, whereas Taylor bows and plucks away but tries to make it sound less like a violin. And then a forty-five-minute release would have been great; that’s the amount of time I can muster to concentrate on this kind of demanding music (at home, that is, as in concert, probably even a lot less). Otherwise, it is one fine work of improvised music. (FdW)
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World music meets (freely) improvised music meets electronics. ‘Electritradition’ is a gorgeous example of a successful marriage between the three. Armoush invited five musicians to play duos with him. Those five musicians are clarinettist François Houle, violinist Jesse Zubot, drummer Kenton Loewen, trumpet player JP Carter, and cellist Marina Hasselberg. All six of them are accomplished musicians. Armoush plays the oud, a short-neck kind of lute, ney, the Persian flute and guitar here and sings in Arabic. Houle plays the clarinet sensuously and adds electronics into his two duets with Armoush. Zubot adds several layers of violin playing in a kind of shadow fighting, with added ney with a simple yet emotional pentatonic melody. Think Godspeed, You Black Emperor, goes full-blown Middle Eastern. Loewen brings understated drums with an infectious oriental groove in drums and oud. JP Carter creates, together with Armoush, a melancholic atmosphere in Labshi on trumpet and added percussion. I guess via drum pads triggering percussion samples. La Syrie starts with flatterzunge on the ney and is joined by beautiful songlines in Hasselberg’s cello with a subtle electronic cello backdrop added. And that’s only the first half of this beautiful release. I could tell more about this release and give a more detailed account of what’s next on this exquisite musical menu. But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to give you a bit more info about Emad Armoush. Born in Syria, he left and travelled to many countries, picking up the local musical traditions; he now lives in Vancouver. Long story short: listen to this release on Bandcamp and prepare to get mesmerized by the sensuous worlds the musicians create. The recording, mixing and mastering are excellent: as a listener, you feel surrounded by the musicians and in the centre of the music. I can recommend this release wholeheartedly. (MDS)
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I know, I know, it’s been a while since I put some words to the screen for Vital Weekly. But then again, it’s been a while for occasional Nurse With Wound associate Diana Rogerson as well. She released her first album, The Inevitable Chrystal Belle Scrodd Record, for her then-spouse Steven Stapleton’s United Diaries label in 1985. Much of her ‘fame’ within the experimental DIY scene has sprung from that album and her work with Nurse With Wound and Current 93. And, let us not forget her membership of cult band Whore 156, who later mutated into Fistfuck (the band), labelling Rogerson as ‘the female Whitehouse’. Releasing Belle De Jour in 1986, it became a bit quiet for all things Diana, who raised a family and returned in 2007 with this album, The Lights Are On But No-one’s Home. Originally a CD album on United Jnana, it is now available on ‘da black gold’ – vinyl. The album was recorded in the second half of 2006 with some musical assistance by Steven Stapleton and Irr. App. (ext.)’s Matt Waldron. Underworld luminary Colin Potter engineered the recordings. In the UK 1980s underground magazine Unsound, Stapleton describes Rogerson as ‘The most absurd, vile, disgusting, highly charged, erotic, beautiful balance of extremes of human nature I’ve ever come across.’ It was intriguing, as the album was more or less created under her alter ego, ‘Bad Diana’. So what happens when you put Bad Diana in a room where the lights are on, but no-one is home? Well, it sounds a bit like Nurse With Wound’s Huffin’ Rag Blues album quasi-jazzy moods presented with an atmospheric hallucinatory Godspeed! You Black Emperor touch – on top of which Rogerson recites her, at times creepy, fantasies in a hushed, sensuous voice. The track Asphalt Kiss was based on a track by German ambient prog-rockers Ashra Tempel, whereas the sleeve notes are adamant to note that Captain Beefheart did NOT inspire the track Mirage Man. With its warm, even comfortable sound nicely contrasting the lyrical content, I found the album a great late-night listen. (FK)
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FILAX STAËL – TRACES (10″ by Rev Lab/Agoo)

Behind Filax Staël we find Okko Perekki and Bas Mantel. The latter is not a name often mentioned in Vital Weekly, but he’s responsible for the Rev Laboratories label so that he can go wild with his work as a graphic designer. I had not heard of Perekki before. I know little about design, but he’s inspired by Tomato, V23, Reid Miles, Fluxus, Lettrism, and many more. Along with this 10″, in a stylish brown bag, there is a 52-paged A4-sized book called a visual manual, with images, like a map, quotes, and texts connecting with the music. All in black and white mostly, but some in full colour; this is the sort of design that I like, reminding me of Xerox art, but then re-arranged by someone who knows what he’s doing.
On the 10″, we find no less than twenty-four pieces of music in twenty-six minutes, and it’s not difficult to see their approach of collage as an extension of the visual material, or vice-versa, for that matter. While I am not 100% sure, I’d say that Filax Staël is a plunderphonic artist, and whatever they sample is very hard to define. If the visuals have a clue (maps, for instance), such a clue is not easily found in the music. ‘Music’ is the clue here. With such extensive transformations, it’s hard to recognise what the information calls “rhythmic synth pulses, sound recordings from instructional films from the 1950s, cut-up and re-pasted orchestral symphonies from the silent film era mixed with electronic noise and repetitive drum patterns”, which they took apart, enlarged and microwaved, again I have no clue if this all digitally done, or analogue (it could go either way). Whatever the sources and the technology, the result is an exciting collage of sounds. Due to the level of abstraction, it remains challenging to recognise. Everything is short and to the point, and I think they very much wanted to create a coherent, miniature composition and as such that works very well. With these tracks being short and to the point, it’s easy to assume there is something hasty about the music, but that’s not the case. None of these tracks use a lot of speed or consume much energy, but they are relatively tranquil; one thing is done, and then the next, etc. In line with the visual side of this project, this is a work of true beauty, even when I find it harder to comment on the visual side than the audio parts. It comes in a big brown envelope with a poster beside the book and record. (FdW)
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The Tokyo-based Kirigirisu Recordings is a new one for me. They release CDRs in very, very limited numbers. For example, only 30 exist from this one, and according to Bandcamp, it’s already sold out. So, when you are a fan of Modelbau or Steffan (Staplerfahrer, Hexeneiche, and many more projects) and get a chance to obtain one… I’m not saying anything. You fill in the dots yourself. The Kirigirisu Recordings Bandcamp page mentions they release good stuff from multiple genres. So when I stroll through their releases, I see many names, of which I only know a handful, but I’ll go through the list in depth if I have time. It’s an interesting roster with Miguel A García, Jeff Surak, Sindre Bjerga and Köhn. And many unknown projects to explore, of course.
‘zweites Treffen (undefiniert)’ is the second time Frans and Steffan release music, the first being a 1-minute thingy for the Frans curated Casio sampler (Vital Weekly 1307). The album is short, around 37 minutes, divided into three tracks. They could have been perfectly placed on vinyl, but I don’t know if this would add to the pieces. Modelbau’s ‘The Bi Polars’ is the longest and would have covered a whole side. It has a deep droning ambience like we know from Modelbau, but there is something different, and I can’t put my finger on it. It’s like there is more happening on different layers that Modelbau isn’t always using himself in his compositions. A particular extra info is added to the track, like it was always 16-bit, and now it’s 24-bit, and there’s like 8 bits of extra info. How the f*** can I explain this?
‘Kitchen Sink Realism’ and ‘The Air Next Door’ by De Turck are about the same length, but they’re different from the first track. The ‘kitchen’ track opens with field recordings, and I think the whole track has a layer of field recordings that are clearly audible. Manipulated, yes, organized for sure and structured into perfection. Here, subtle layers of delay-based synth sounds and drones create an extraordinary atmosphere. Finally, “The Air Next Door” is the noisiest of this release. Even though it starts quite open, the result is a pulsating structure. In all honesty, having heard the other two tracks, this third one is my least favourite. But the first two are really amazing. Congratulations on a collaboration well done. (BW)
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It is a minimalist release, and while it looks good (reminding me of the early Trente Oiseaiux releases), I would have loved some extra information on the cover or Bandcamp. I don’t care, but I would like to know more. The only thing ‘revealed’ is the recording date, 2021-2024. There is a lot to guess here, and I believe Cordts works with a modular setup or feedback system. Maybe a feedback system is also a modular setup; maybe there are differences; I am not that knowledgeable. I mention the feedback system because these fifteen segments strongly reminded me of the early releases by Arcane Device, in combination with a bit of Asmus Tietchens (and, yes, I am aware they worked together). That means there are these sharpish tones, without the all too clear noise edge, say, and the kind of refinement we know from Tietchens, with all titles being parts of the title ‘Segmente’, another Tietchens influence. It’s easy to say Cordts is an Arcane Device copyist, but for all I know, maybe he has no idea what I am talking about. Considering that many people worked with feedback, very few copied Arcane Device, if my memory still serves me. This is a great release with some excellent music. The sort of modern electronics in a contemporary way, noise refined and reshaped, becoming this beautiful, sparse piece of music. These pieces are in the range of two to three minutes, or just below or above that, and each piece is a separate world. Each is a variation of a theme; still, each sounds and acts differently. At times, it is very spacious, such as ‘Segment 9’, which is almost four minutes long and the longest. There are only twenty copies of this on CDR, but it would be awesome if a label picked this up to bring Cordt’s music to a broader audience, as he certainly deserves it. (FdW)
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From this trio of new releases on Chocolate Monk, I only recognised the names of Poulsen and Scariot, but not the others. First, there’s the duo Ashcircle from South London. “They organise Cliff-Edge, a regular show of “improv for end-times” at Hundred Years Gallery in Hoxton.” From the information, I understand that this CDR is a reissue from earlier work, as it says, “presented here back to back”, recorded one week apart. I have no idea what Ashcircle has to play music with; I am told it’s a Bastl Microgranny, which turns out to be a small mono sampler. They sample… well… a recorder, flute or something but what else? I have no idea, but a lot of them sound the same. Ashcircle has a rather noisy and lo-fi approach, built around improvising with cut-up sounds. About half of the sixteen pieces were not bad, but after a sense of fatigue set in, mainly all of these sounds were so similar throughout, with those recorder and flute sounds and that collage-like cut-up style. From track ten onwards, the flute sounds disappeared, so maybe this was the second release that started, but the cut-up stayed. Perhaps this works better when played in shuffle mode.
Claus Poulsen from Denmark is someone whose work has been reviewed quite a bit in these pages, much more than his Italian friend Michele Scariot, better known as Nodolby. They operate in a world of free improvisation with lots of electronics, contact microphones and object abuse. While noise is not the goal, the music certainly has a noisy aspect. They call their music ‘voidtronica’, meaning “to meet and record without one knowing what instruments the other will bring, free improvisation and no overdubs or mixing”. When they were both scheduled to play at the Supernoise 2023 festival solo sets, they found time to record the eight pieces on this CDR. It becomes a fascinating listen when they add their vocalisations to the mix. The music is as direct and intense as it is supposed to be. At times, the music appears chaotic, but it (also!) contains a surprising amount of organisation, typical of people who have been doing this for some time and have a firm grasp of what their machines can do. The final two pieces, Ambient 23 (for cosy apartments) and Surface, especially, have this level of control and are beautifully creepy.
Also from Copenhagen, Poulsen’s home, is Family Underground, originally a duo of Sara Czerny (Buchla Easel & tape loops) & Nicolas Kauffmann (guitar & Moog), who play on the first two pieces, and the last two have Matt Saporito, from New York City, on manipulated tapes and keyboards. In their always cryptic manner, Chocolate Monk writes that Family Underground started in August 2023 by creating “tape loops which were then curled up and stomped on the floor, later to be fed through an old plastic National reel-to-reel and combined with synths and guitar skree”, so yeah, why not a true story? The four pieces are lengthy, fitting in what I call lo-fi psychedelic, New Zealandish-inspired garage noise rock (eh?). There is that metallic ring to the music that borders on the world of feedback but never topples over to vicious feedback. They use their amplifiers to generate a lower form of garage rock and place a microphone in the middle, another cover-up technique if you want to make things more lo-fi. The loops add a ‘rhythmic’ element to the music, but they are on an indefinite length, and sometimes there’s more than one, so it’s a different kind of groove (or non-groove, as you wish). The music is primitive and raw, without many ornaments, but that’s precisely how these things should be, I think. Raw and intense, dwelling on the improvised side of things, the music has a loosely organised feeling. It’s a different kind of rock and drone that I enjoy very much. I don’t rank stuff, but this is the best of these three. (FdW)
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For this mini CDR (you don’t see many of those these days), Marc Spruit returns to an earlier album of his, ‘Open’, which I believe we didn’t review. He considered a few pieces for the album but didn’t use them, and in good musique concrète fashion, he recycles these in this album. In much of his work, turntablism plays an important role, but nothing is traditional. One could also think Spruit uses a lot of computer technology, editing and cutting sounds, throwing them into something like SuperCollider. In his approach, he reminds me of earlier Roel Meelkop, but with the unstable sound of a turntable. Spruit likes his massive, deep, bass-like, and high-pitched sounds, and it seems very little in between. He offers six sound collages on ‘Minalistic’ of highly chopped-up sounds, and if one doesn’t pay too much attention, you could also hear this as a twenty-minute piece. Rooted firmly in the world of clicks ‘n cuts and laptops, Spruit twists and turns that legacy into something of his own, as he has been doing consistently for a long time. This CDR comes in an edition of ten copies, all hand painted/silk-screened on recycled paper/board and looks great; oddly, it doesn’t look like the clean-cut design of the old clock ‘n cuts movement but has a somewhat earthy approach. (FdW)
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LÄRMSCHUTZ / GINTAS K – SPEAK / WET (cassette by Attenutaion Circuit/Grubenwehr Freiburg)

Here, we have the fourth split cassette on the combined recycled forces of two German labels, Attenuation Circuit and Grubenwehr Freiburg. It’s been a while since I last heard something from the Dutch group Lärmschutz, who, these days, seem to be reduced to one musician, Rutger van Driel. He plays trombone, electronics and bass, and on the four ten-minute parts of ‘Patient’, he adds “psychiatry-themed spoken word footage”. While the music of Lärmschutz is usually very free, jazzy, noisy, anarchic punk music, it is also, at times, something else. One such difference in these four pieces is that Van Driel seems to be layering the various sounds he produced, probably unable to play all these instruments simultaneously. Layering means mixing, and mixing means, at least in my opinion, and I am sure not everybody agrees, composing. The musician can alter the context, the order, and the texture of the sounds, making this quite different. It’s easy to see the music as something from the world of improvised music, with many of the trombone parts played relatively freely. Still, because there are several per track, along with a similar set of various layers of improvised electronics, coupled with the cut-ups of voices, this goes beyond traditional improvised music. At times, the electronics prevail, and the music has a rather noisy character without becoming too much of a noise attack. It is an excellent release, and if this is a new direction for Lärmschutz, I am all curious to hear what comes next.
On the other side, the well-known Lithuanian composer Gintas K, the ‘wet’ side of the tape, as he uses sounds of water sources, “or rather, liquidness or fluidity, and these qualities surface in both the drippy, squeaky, splishy-splashy timbres as well as the free-flowing rhythms (and stoppages) of the music”. Gintas is a laptop musician, maybe one of the last standing these days, and uses various bits and bobs of software for real-time sound transformation. Whereas Lärmschutz uses forty minutes, Gintas K only about half of that, and he has a rather traditional approach to laptop music, bleeping away with lots of small glissandi and other transformations. Not bad and quite entertaining, but also, perhaps, not too different from some of his other work. (FdW)
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The name Thanos Fotiadis frequently appeared in Vital Weekly but as a member of Lärmschutz. Initially on drums, later on electronics, and then, more recently, he no longer seems to be part of the group. His solo work, the first I hear, is very different from the anarcho jazz punk of the band he was in. At the start of the four pieces on ‘The Hope Realm’, he recorded piano phrases/loops on various machines, from low to high-end microcassettes to half-inch tapes. The piano is for Fotiadis. It is his first instrument of choice, trained as a classical pianist. The loops he creates go through a two-track machine, processing them with “various objects and his hands to create new sound artifacts”, and then a digital sampler for some further manipulation. For such a complicated process, the music may sound very ‘easy’; it’s just a bunch of loops, right? I never believe things are ‘easy’ (and if they are and still sound good, what’s the problem anyway?), and while it seems ‘easy’ to set forward a bunch of loops, it is difficult to get them to play in such a way that it is all musically interesting. It all comes down to practice and experience, composing, editing, choosing, etc. It’s not difficult to see the music in a long tradition of ambient music, using piano, starting with Brian Eno’s first ambient record, but also someone like William Basinski is an undeniable reference; less so all these modern mood pianists, which I find pretty dreadful. In the four pieces here, Fotiadis uses extensive loops of varying lengths but also adds delay pedals, so sounds linger on and die out after a while and not straight away. At times, he adds dashes of reverb to suggest more atmosphere. None of the loops overstay their welcome, as Fotiadis keeps moving them about; there are significant shifts in each track, subtly changing the scenery. That’s what I mean when I say things aren’t as easy as they may seem. He does a great job, and the music is a true delight. Only forty copies are available, each with a unique charcoal cover by Teodora Ionescu, inspired by the music. She will create another large drawing when this cassette is presented, just as she did for these forty. Top quality product! (FdW)
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MEAKUSMA JANUARY 2024 (magazine)

In a tiny part of Belgium, they speak German, and it’s this area where we find the yearly Meakusma festival. It’s not something I will get out my sleeping bag for, but what is it these days? Right! They host many names I have not heard of, so it’s probably a great festival. I don’t know how many editions there have been, but the festival also released one or more records and a magazine. I got their January 2024 issue, which was partly an exciting read, say the interviews with Tommi Grönlund about thirty years of his Sähkö label, Christoph Heemann and Frank Bretschneider; all people with a considerable amount of history and a good story. There are more philosophical pieces, such as ‘Post-pandemic club intentions’ or ‘dancing and discussing – conceptual sound between club and museum’, which are too much for a simple soul. It’s a free magazine, paid for by the Goethe Institute and therefore bi-lingual. The interviews could have benefitted from more editing and a closer look at the English language. It’s quite a nice read. I have no idea where to get this, as it’s not advertised on their website, but maybe in every fine record store in Belgium? (FdW)
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