Number 1426

Week 9

BRANDKOMMANDO – JUGOSLAVIJA 1941-1945 (CD by Zoharum) *
SEQUENCES – ÁGUA VIVA (CD by Elevator Bath) *
NAKTYS – LITURGIA (CD by Zoharum) *
STRINNING & DAISY – CASTEL & SUN (CD by Veto Records) *
MODELBAU – BLACKOUT (LP by Love Earth Music) *
EXTRA – COILED/LEAVE (cassette by Steep Gloss) *
BAUER + KATHARINA SCHMIDT – OPEN WATER (cassette by Moon Villain) *
KENN HARTWIG – GAMEBOYS & PEDALS (cassette by Anunaki Tabla) *


A few weeks ago, I asked in a review if it’s okay to say one is a ‘fan’ of someone’s work. Because it was a new album by Christian Renou, a.k.a. Brume, and well … I am a fan. And I don’t care what all of you think, but as always, I will write my reviews with a bit of distance towards my own opinion. Because that’s what a reviewer i.m.h.o. is supposed to do.
The Taalem label, which we all know from the 3″ CDRs they’ve released for years and years, has stopped doing them, and after a year of silence, they’re now releasing full-length CDs in a minimal brown cardboard sleeve with a little imagery. Excellent and minimal as it was and still is. But instead of the approximately 20 minutes of the 3″ you get ‘full releases’ on CD or even 2CD. The same goes for the side label Kokeshidisk, by the way. Brown sleeve, minimal artwork. And with Desaccord Majeur, Murmer and Brume Taalem set the level high for all future releases. Taalem knows what he’s doing and mark my words: This label will have a catalogue of beauty if they keep building it like this. A paradise for drone heads like us.
In my opinion, “L’ombilic Des Rêves” is a complex album. The reason is it’s very strongly themed on the theme of nightmares. But just as nightmares can (will?) be different each time you have them, the music on this album varies a lot. From chaotic ambience with horns to rhythmically driven short interludes, this album is a journey through the insides of your head. This album perfectly exemplifies Renou’s dynamics as an artist and sound designer. Sounds straight out of synths, manipulated field recordings, found footage / spoken word and the before mentioned horns or wind instruments on one hand, and the other side compositions with a lot of erratic changes, ambient approaches, long compositions (11 and 14 minutes) as well as shorter ones – 2 minutes and even one just over 1 minute – harmonics and dissonance … This album is lovely in its variation on so many levels. Personal favourites are “Hot Concrete / Turning To Nightmare” and ” Dreams Are Not Free”, but my oh my … Mr Renou did it again. And Taalem. Both. Chapeau.
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About a year ago, I reviewed the previous CD from Brandkommando also on Zoharum (, and ‘Jugoslavija 1941​-​1945’ is the most recent release. I don’t know if it’s safe to say they found a home, but it sure looks that way. Zoharum is, of course, known for its many releases of the darker stuff, from rhythmic stuff to harsh noise to ambience and everything in between. And Brandkommando isn’t one of the silent ones.
‘Jugoslavija 1941​-​1945’ counts four tracks of all 10 minutes. This could have been designed for a double 10″ or 45rpm 12″, but they’ve chosen a CD, and I’m all good with that. Would a vinyl have added to this release? In all honesty, I think it would sound wise. The tracks are best described as a crossover between found footage to set the atmosphere of the period right, aggressive vocals and harsh noise layers. The audio interpretation of cut ‘n paste art like Heartfield / Herzfeld is done nicely. But with audio, not imagery. The titles are in a language I don’t speak (Google translate says it’s Bosnian), but to give an idea: ‘Narodnooslobodilačka vojska Jugoslavije’ translates to National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia. The release has a political charge, and I don’t know enough about the history of Yugoslavia to get any emotion at all.
Here, I also get to a little about music in general (savoury, I’m taking over this review for my message), but I have a problem with militaristic sounds. The sound of marching boots, or songs sung while marching or basically all things related to war … I am a pacifist, and I get creeps all over my body. I hate most neo-folk stuff. Again, all my personal experience/taste.
So what made me say this now and here? Brandkommando has edited their info on discos and simply included this information: “Lyrical themes are about social issues, politics, anti-racism, third world, anti-war, etc. Brandkommando … has affirmed to be against all kind of dictatures, totalitarianism, anti-democratic regimes and criminal systems.” So Karol, if we meet, we’ll have a beer together. In advance: Cheers on this release! (BW)
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A sight in the big city, in many, are all sorts of fences, mobile barriers, and such things. Terror attacks and protests of all sorts are responsible for such limitations on where we are allowed to go. In Paris, where Eric La Casa lives, there are many more than in Nijmegen. From the liner notes, I understand that La Casa isn’t happy with these metal barriers, but they are also instruments for the changed urban environment. He went around town, armed with contact microphones and a recorder and recorded them. Big ones, small ones, set in motion by the wind; the urban Aeolian harp
, even when that is, perhaps, too much of a nice description. Effectively, these objects control the public in small and large groups. You would think that some extra sound would leak its way into the recordings, a faraway rock concert or farmers’ protest, but that doesn’t happen, only in every instance (in the section called ‘Des Evenements’); it remains metal vibrating in windy environments. Does that mean it all sounds the same? No, far from it, actually. As the booklet shows us, fences come in many shapes and forms: big, extensive, and smaller. It’s easy to see they will make a different sound. There is something eerie about these pieces: a rumble from the deep, a monster clinging to the pipes in your basement. Sometimes, this is a deep-end rumble, but occasionally high; monsters of all sizes, as it were. One could think there is a lot of sound processing going on, but there isn’t (at least, I am convinced there isn’t), yet the sound is quite ‘full’; everything continues to resonate. It’s likewise accessible to see this as a ‘political’ album about the sorry state of current global affairs, in which terrorism plays a big role, and all sorts of protests are found on the streets. As such, this is bleak music for bleak times. But it sounds great! (FdW)
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SEQUENCES – ÁGUA VIVA (CD by Elevator Bath)

If I’m honest, I was thinking, ‘Sequences, now who was that again?’, rather than immediately thinking, oh yes, a new LP by Belgium’s Niels Geybels. I reviewed some of his work before, some by his Audio.Visuals.Atmosphere. label, but much to my surprise, he has quite a few more than I expected. I heard maybe four or five. When I reviewed his ‘Gathering Colours, ‘ I wrote that Sequences is part of a small movement of like-minded musicians and labels, with primarily black and white covers and slightly lo-fi, rusty drone music. As I said, I only heard some of Geybels’ work, and I am unaware of his development. He released an LP on his label before and a CD on Cloudchamber, and now there is a new CD, based on field recordings he made near the sea in Belgium. The title comes from a book by Brazilian author Clarice Lispector’, from 1973, and each track is named after text from that book. The original field recording was twenty minutes long, and we hear them prominently in the first four pieces. In the other four pieces, Geybels turns the material further into abstraction. I have no idea what kind of different sounds he uses. Still, there is mention of “magnetophone, zither, modular synthesizer, and guitar”, and with electronics, he spins some beautiful dark and atmospheric music. There is a shift from his earlier material, the kind of music I sometimes described as the soundtrack for a post-nuclear society, the score of dystopia, and that is not the sort of feeling I have with this kind of music. Also, the lo-fi element plays a minor role in his current work, as refinement creeps into his music. Perhaps that is unavoidable; the more you do things, the better you get. The refined approach leads to refined music, more depth, less gritty textures, and darker ambient music. It is spacious and, at times, very dreamy music, especially in the last four pieces. First, the element of field recordings prevents that dreamy aspect. An excellent record! I should update myself with his other work. (FdW)
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White text on yellow; a recipe for disaster. I couldn’t make a single word here. Luckily, a press text informs that this is a reissue of an album originally released in 2008 on the Slow Flow Rec label. The music was recorded when Celer was a duo of Will Long and Danielle Baquet-Long, who passed away in 2009. It’s a release from the days when they were very active with releases, and I reviewed quite a few of them. Browsing old reviews for Celer, I learned I quickly used them as a point of reference, quite an accomplishment, I think. I reviewed ‘Cursory Asperses’ in Vital Weekly 668:
“Another release comes from the active forces of Celer, the duo of Will Thomas Long and Danielle Baquet-Long. One that lasts an hour and that has one track, ‘Cursory Asperses (in 8 Parts)’, but all eight parts get a title. Why not index the release at those eight tracks in a continuous mode? Perhaps there is logic there somewhere. This new piece(s) is based ‘around the single concept of slow movement’, which is true. Perhaps it’s so slow that I didn’t detect eight different pieces on this release, or maybe that was never the idea. It is built from field recordings, such as an isolated stream in the woods and the laundry hanging on cords in the backyard; Celer crafts once again a piece of high and mighty music based in the world of drone music, deep and atmospheric. It’s hard to see the difference between their previous works or, from a larger perspective, the world of drone music. ‘Cursory Asperses’ is an excellent work, but without many surprises.” (some language is now corrected)
Oddly, today, I hear them as individual pieces of music. Still, perhaps it helps there are now eight track titles (also listed on Discogs on the original release, but I no longer recall how that was on the original cover). The information with the current version tells us (I am not unsure if I knew this with the original release, or if I was assuming all that I wrote that old review) about cassette recordings on rivers, streams, and lakes along with synthesiser, organ, cello, piano and bowed instruments, along with free software; way before using DAW and VSTs, they used ‘non-realtime convolution processing’, using the water recordings as an impulse for instrument recordings. Had I not known this, I would have easily written something like max/MSP or time-stretching software. The music is very much Celer of that time, but also, as we still know, Will Long’s solo work. It is very spacious music, minimal development, and is best enjoyed on a medium volume level, filling up your space without being too much of a presence. Ambient might be the word I am looking for. (FdW)
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The name Painjerk, the musical project of Kohei Gomi, didn’t come to mind for a long time. Offhand, I’d say it is likely that I reviewed very few of his releases. Many of those he released himself, and the ones of Harbinger Sound, Editions Mego, Alternative Tentacles and Hospital never reached me. He’s among the few musicians leaving the harsh noise behind and doing other projects. He calls it the “exploration and practice of kinematics of electro-acoustics using unorthodox methodologies, mainly using live-electronics, synths and computers”. That sounds interesting, and I wonder if this disc represents what he does solo as he teams up with a chamber orchestra, The Touchables. They are from Norway and are led by bass player Guro Skumsnes Moe, who works closely with Ole-Henrik Moe. Instruments used by this orchestra are the octobass, violin, piccolo violin, bass trombone, cello, French horn, handbells, bassoon and percussion; some of these more than once, and some players use more instruments. Painjerk is on the computer and synth and gets credit for the composition. I found it hard to hear the computer and synth, but sometimes they come crashing in. This piece has a low-end sound, creating a rich acoustic rumble, especially in the ten-minute opening. The middle ten minutes employ an opener sound, mainly because the sounds are isolated and disjointed, and here, it sounds like the modern composition one usually associates with contemporary composition. All ranks close in the final ten minutes and arrive at the noisiest part of the piece, one in which (perhaps less of a surprise) Painjerk’s synthesiser plays the most significant role. While all instruments are close together, there is quite a bit of chaos and noise, a maybe reminder of Painjerk’s background. (FdW)
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In 2020, the Muddersten trio from Norway was supposed to collaborate with “live painting” artist Akiko Nakayama, but the lockdown prevented that from happening. Akiko sent a video triptych, which Muddersten used as a score. The press text describes the video as “variations of liquid colours in swirling streams, floating textures, and bursting bubbles”, and it probably looks great. Muddersten (whose debut ‘Karpatklokke’ was reviewed in Vital Weekly 1065) consists of Havard Voldeb (electric guitar, tape machines), Henrik Olsson (objects, friction and piezo) and Martin Taxt (microtonal tuba, electronics). The three pieces use “sonic ready-mades as a method of improvisation”, and among them is an LP called ‘Fyloop’, of which we learn that “when playing this record the pick-up needle won’t move towards the centre of the LP as it usually does, instead each track leads back to itself in a never-ending circular repetition. It’s impossible to know what sound-trap you will be caught up in, just drop the needle and deal with it.” (That sounds very much like the description of a locked groove record.) It’s a most exciting set of improvised music pieces. The microtonal tuba is not the leading instrument here, as much of the music deals with the crackling of vinyl and playing small bits of guitar; it is also not a dominant thing here, but it is more audible than the tuba most of the time. It is an odd meeting of acoustic sounds, mixed media sources and instruments, all played carefully and minimally. Minimal music is Sofa Music’s primary interest, and as such, this CD fits the bill very well. Maybe, at times, too careful, and one wished there would be some brutal break to be happening. Sometimes the music has an indication such as a possibility, especially in the third (and shortest) part, but it doesn’t happen. Which, of course, is fine too. Muddersten’s music can be heard on a quiet level, letting it all flow, or listened to with a lot of attention and concentration, and on each level, something beautiful emerges. Great stuff. (FdW)
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“We are delighted to announce the release on ICR of Jonathan’s first physical album in a long time”. As said by the label. It made me think there are probably a few digital-only releases I missed out on. A quick search confirmed. If ever things slow down, I will investigate those, as I like the older releases from Coleclough quite a bit. Coleclough is the composer on his new album, while Theo Travis and Jeph Jerman provide sound material, albeit very different. While Jerman delivers field recordings, Travis is best known as a flute player (I think I only know his work with Steven Wilson). As with many of his works, this CD has one long track of seventy minutes. It’s not one long, continuous piece of music. There are three parts to be noted. The first deals with Travis’ flute playing, the second is a short interlude with Jerman’s field recordings, and the third is another lengthy flute piece. These two flute pieces are quite different. One recognises the flute playing in the first section, even in this mildly processed version. Travis plays a few phrases which Coleclough processes in some (no doubt, digital) way, and these pieces go beyond the attack; they remain single phrases, which slowly shift in pitches and intertwine, and yet never become a fully-fledged drone piece. That Coleclough keeps for the end section, taking up over half the CD. In this section, the flutes all mass up, receive a computer treatment, and then are cut to form a drone. Not along the lines of Phill Niblock, as the computer treatments of Coleclough create an effectively different kind of sound, warmer, digital, fuzzy and, perhaps, less massive. Also, Coleclough uses more variation in his piece; the ending differs quite from the beginning. The short interlude of Jerman’s field recordings is a neat break, allowing the listener to grasp for breath before diving into the all-immersive second part. All-around excellent work and a great reminder to play more of his work (soon, I hope) (FdW)
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If you run a record label and want to survive, you need to release music that appeals to more than a handful of people. These products need to be promoted; I understand this perfectly. However, here we have a handful of releases which is not the kind of music we are concerned about. I fully understand why Zoharum releases these, as I am sure all three contain more music that people like than the usual handful.
From Schröttersburg, I already reviewed two previous releases and the last time, I already wrote, “I enjoyed most of this anyway, but in all honesty, I should add that this kind of music is a bit outside the zone Vital Weekly operates in. Enjoyable as it is!”, which, perhaps, one could see as a hint to no longer send new music by them. The new album continues its postpunk sound, with lots of shouting and metal percussion next to more standard rock instruments. There is lots of tribalistic chanting and much reverb to suggest even more atmosphere. Not bad at all, but being no expert, what can I add?
I always regarded the Swedish group White Stains as a Psychic TV clone, perhaps something not entirely justified. They have been going for a long time, and now their material receives the Zoharum reissue program. ‘Dreams Shall Flesh (Redux)’ (whose title sounds like ‘Dreams Less Sweet’, the second PTV album) is the second reissue (I admit I didn’t miss out on the first one). “We are still dealing here with dark wave music with elements of gothic rock. However, unlike the compilation containing vinyl EPs, a new direction is increasingly felt here, which will be fully developed on the next albums, in these songs with a verse-chorus-verse structure typical of rock music”, which is undoubtedly helpful information, especially because verse-chorus stuff usually eludes me. In the title piece, the singer sounds like Ian Curtis, and the tune could be a tribute to a Joy Division song (I can’t think of the correct title)—twelve tracks of gothic rock and dark wave, proper songs and all.
This brings us to Naktys, who is from Gorzkowice and currently resides in Łódź and the work of one Grzegorz Mirczak. ‘Liturgia’ is his debute album. The Bandcamp tags are ‘dark ambient’ and industrial’, but mentioned are also alternative rap, galloping EBM and unbridled noise. I love some unbridled noise, but that’s not something I found on this album, and sadly, the rap and EBM I did. Once again, I have yet to learn about these genres, and I am not saying this is a bad album, far from it. It might be perfect for what it is. The language barrier is another thing; assuming most Vital Weekly readers aren’t all too versed in the Polish language, there will always be something missing, and would I even be interested in lyrics (which, on numerous occasions, I expressly said I have no interest in), I couldn’t know what these are about. Overall, I found the different styles not working for the advancement of the album, but who knows, maybe those who love EBM are into alternative rap, and vice versa.
Dear Zoharum, I understand your need to promote your releases, but you can seriously wonder if sending these to Vital Weekly works. Unless the idea is that our words don’t matter as long as they are mentioned, in which case, for now, that still works. (FdW)
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Sebastian Strinning and Tim Daisy teamed up after the ‘Strinnings’ residency in Chicago in 2019. And it’s only fitting that Castle and Sun (maybe named after Paul Klee’s famous painting?) is released on Veto Records, founded by Christopher Erb, in the Exchange series. With some sidesteps, it chronicles exchanges between the Chicago and Lucerne (Switzerland) improvising scene. I’ve known Tim Daisy for quite some time as the drummer in Made To Break, the Dave Rempis Quartet. He made some samples available to use in tracks, and I jumped on that wagon. The results are, for now, only available digitally here. Sebastian Strinning is a new name for me. He plays the tenor sax and the bass clarinet. On this release, only the tenor sax is heard. Three longer pieces, with the longest clocking in at just 25 minutes and the shortest half of that, interspersed with two short solo pieces. This music grabs the attention of the listener and doesn’t let go. It sucks the listener in from the start. There are a few sections where the music torrents simmer down to a quieter stream. But overall, this release has an exciting energy, even in the quieter parts. For me, it took quite a few spins to get into the music. In this case, it’s a good thing. It rewards undivided attention. Both musicians add their inventive and creative musicianship with great dexterity and honesty. Honestly, it’s not cocktail jazz, a one-trick affair, or painting with numbers. A very nice addition to the ever-expanding drums/sax catalogue. (MDS)
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MODELBAU – BLACKOUT (LP by Love Earth Music)

Most of the releases by Modelbau I buy /get /review are on either CD /CDR or some less accessible formats like MiniDisc, DAT or cassette. Anything flat with grooves is a one-of-a-kind with the amount of releases he has. Sure, recently, the lathe cut on Spaltung /licht-ung and we had the double vinyl collaboration with Scanner on Moving Furniture, but the fact is that if Modelbau is released on vinyl, we know in advance it’s something special. A release with a story in general or something that elevates your mind somehow, Something that makes you think. And the new album “Blackout”, as released by what’s becoming my favourite Massachusetts-based label, is no different.
The story of “Blackout” is in the pictures used for this release. These pictures are by Serhiy Ristenko, and they were shot in the winter of 2022 in Kyiv during a bombing by Russia. The beauty of the photographs – and where Lob did a great job with the layout and pinpointing the balance of the art – triggered Modelbau to create two pieces based on the feeling of being locked in during a time of war. Isolated in a blackout. So the trigger, the concept, and the offer to release an album were there. Next step, Frans went to work on the tracks, which he did in late ’22 and early ’23.
The first side of the album was given the title “All comms are down in, probably, six parts”. From the exact moment it produces sound, you’re captivated. A loud burst of white noise pierces your speakers, and if you put your volume on that sound being ‘just’ below painful, don’t change the volume dial. Enjoy the ride. The 19-minute track has, as we know of Modelbau, a lot of different approaches to what you hear. Synth sounds / drones layer balancing on the level of where feedback hurts or becomes uncontrollable. Radio sounds as if we’re hiding from the bombs, hoping for some words of hope or the message that it is safe again to go outside. The constant threat of being bombed again and the absence of humanity … And then the knowledge of the photographer Serhiy Ristenko, whom we can tell you is a soldier of the Ukrainian army. Fighting to protect the country and the people still living there. Do you realize that it will be two years precisely this week?
Turning the vinyl gives us another 19 minutes of music – “The unwanted disruption of ordinary lives in, no doubt, four parts”. This track is way more subdued than the other side. The sounds are more organic; there is even a small toy box melody in there, and piano tunes are closing the track. And then there was silence, the clicking of the needle in the final groove. The feeling of the ‘unwantedness’ for me is stronger than the ‘disruption’ in the title, but having written those words, I realize it’s the ordinary lives that really matter. Innocent lives are being taken, ordinary lives are being disrupted, nothing is the same as before, and all people can do is adapt. Fight. Cry. Survive. Try to… For me, that is the feeling that comes with this album, which is not an easy one to listen to, but it needed to be made, and it’s a gorgeous piece of art. (BW)
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In the 1980s, the cassette network was my world, and yet vinyl didn’t disappear altogether. I had my favourite artists, some of whom were also interested in cassettes. Some of these musicians were off my radar for a long time, and some always stayed in one way or another. This review is about two new releases from various musicians from that time.
Oke, strictly speaking, that’s not entirely true. I heard O Yuki Conjugate in the 1980s through one of those friends who had all the exciting records I didn’t have, and I saw them play a concert locally. However, my interest grew when I worked for Staalplaat, who had just released ‘Into Dark Water’, a compilation of earlier material, and co-produced ‘Peyote’ for Multimood Records. The big thing was their fourth album, ‘Equator’, which connected with the then-current ‘ambient house’ and which some described as ‘tribal ambient’ – which it was not. It should have been their big break, but Dutch independent labels never had a strong position in the UK market; at least, that’s my pet theory. O Yuki Conjugate kept going on various incarnations, and as we see with Open Yellow Circle, divisions use the same OYC letters, but with different personalities. Behind Open Yellow Circle, we find various members of the OYC lineup who recorded ‘Equator’, “Roger Horberry (co-founder of O Yuki Conjugate), Dan Mudford (ex-Sons of Silence and co-creator of the Shaun of the Dead soundtrack), Joe Lamb (ex-Sons of Silence) and Malcolm McGeorge” – I copied that from the info. The names mentioned were off-shoots from back then (just like A Small Good Thing) of OYC. Thirty years onwards, what do we expect of the music? Do we want ‘more of the same’, or should there be development? That’s more of a question for people continuously doing new music: how often can you play the same thing? In this case, with people working together who haven’t for many years, one can see this as continuing where they left off, which in this case means exploring ambient music through the use of hazy guitars, spacious synthesisers and an extended role for rhythm, both played by hand and drum machines. Stylishly smooth music, but ambient music demands attention from the listener, even with a toe in the world of, dare I call it, ‘pop’ music. When it comes to differences with the mothership, apart from founding father Andrew Hulme missing here, the devil is in the details. Open Yellow Circle is slighter and looser in its compositional approach. The final piece, ‘The Chasmic’, is a spacious rocker with lots of guitar howl, a small world apart. This is an excellent album, a straight line from ‘Equator’ to ‘New Meridian’ – the title was a giveaway already.
Behind Big Daddy, we find Simon Crab, erstwhile of Bourbonese Qualk and latterly also releasing music under his own name and Fritz Catlin, best known for his work with 23 Skidoo, but also playing with Current 93 and Last Few Days (I am still waiting for a CD to document that group). I was a big fan of both, perhaps more Bourbonese Qualk, but some of 23 Skidoo is still highly appreciated. I am not in the least bit surprised Catlin and Crab know each other, and these days, they live close together and sit down to do a record. I may be surprised that this is very much a dub record, with all the right triggers and reggae undertones. But with 23 Skidoo, Catlin experimented with rap and hip-hop (not my favourite phase, I admit), so why not dub indeed? Crab plays “rhythms, electronics, synthesisers, programming”, and Catlin “drums, percussion, bass, guitar, melodica.” There’s undoubtedly a digital aspect to the music, and maybe the tempo is a bit too fast, but they love their technology, with drums shooting into echo and reverb. And yet, they keep their pieces short and to the point, going in one long flow (the download even offers a continuous mix for both sides), with a most curious ending on the second side, ‘Molecule’s Dream’, which is more like recent Simon Crab solo piece, sunny and tropical, with flutes and all, marking the end of the trip. I may hardly ever write about dub music, let alone know all too much about it; it is music I like very much, maybe because of the rhythms, the studio aspect, and the constant transformation while keeping certain aspects going throughout the piece. Big Daddy did a great thing on this LP, and let’s hope this isn’t a one-off. (FdW)
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Following ‘Wanderers In That Happy Valley/Oceans In Obsidian’, a cassette collaboration of two EPs by Germany’s Occupied Head and Greek’s Melaphobia, there is now a new work, recorded in the summer of 2023. Dimitris Tsironis and Dieter Mauson recorded this long-distance I suppose, and again they delve the ambient mines, deep and vast. As before, it’s not easy to say what it is they do, but I believe there are a lot of samples used, perhaps more so than a lot of synthesisers. Sound effects are also abundantly used. They sample mostly instruments, percussion and strings, plus a whole bunch of field recordings and they play this in lengthy sustaining parts. Of the nine pieces, three are around three minutes, and the others are much longer. I think the longer ones work better than the shorter ones. In the three minute pieces there are a few ideas, which work nicely but come across as too brief. In the longer pieces, easily between eight and thirteen minutes, there are perhaps the same few ideas but because their is more time to explore the sounds, set them on a longer trajectory and give them all the space they need. When that happens, the music gets an excellent cinematographic character, say the area of science fiction, horror and dystopia. Sometimes a rhythm shines through, heavily processed, in ‘a drowning and two more opportunities (clapping for ourselves)’ for instance, but it’s too abstract to be all groovy. I prefer the more non-rhythmic pieces, such as ‘directly to the source of the causes’, with its layered drums and guitras, also treated in some way, but something also oddly post-rock-like and beautifully vague atmospheres. Compared to the first release, this is quite a step forward. (FdW)
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EXTRA – COILED/LEAVE (cassette by Steep Gloss)

‘Coiled/Leave’ is the fifth release by Extra, the duo of Brian Grainger and Howard Stelzer. All five releases have a two-word title, which made me think (wrongly, no doubt) that they can never agree on a title, so if Grainger believes it should be ‘Coiled’, Stelzer says ‘Leave’ is better. All releases so far have had one piece of music, so my theory could be correct, but this is a cassette, two sides of music, different pieces, and for the first time, one side is ‘Coiled’ and one is ‘Leave’; there goes my theory. In their sonic explorations, drones play a significant role, and they trade sounds back and forth, using all sorts of tape manipulations and modular synthesis, and, so they assured me, very little digital technology. The only time things go digital is the editing and mixing process, using a multi-tracking program. On this new cassette, there is a small shit in approach to be noted. On ‘Coiled’, there’s a melodic touch to the music, with a kind of piano sound; it’s all quite hazy and vague but moving away from the stricter drone approach, which is still part of the brew here. Dark and highly atmospheric, but not without surprising movements, breaks and shifts, going into something completely different, such as the drum machine on the second side at one point. These breaks provide interruption and change, and as a result, one can’t drift away on this endless drone cloud, which I think is a great thing, even when that too is still part of it; the entire last eight or so minutes are just that; gorgeous drone stuff. I like disruption now and then. These additions to their usual atmospherics are excellent, moving their sound forward, yet it remains on known ground. I can safely say I am a fan! (FdW)
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BAUER + KATHARINA SCHMIDT – OPEN WATER (cassette by Moon Villain)

In The Netherlands, we have the well-known singer Frans Bauer and a musician who works with sampling (and former drummer, I believe, of Betty Serveert), who goes by the name Bauer; I am sure both are not the same Bauer who did this tape. Is it Bauer Schmidt or just Bauer? I don’t know. There is no information on Bandcamp, and I think I have not heard of any previous work by them. There are six pieces on this forty-minute cassette, and judging by the musical content we’re dealing here with drone music generated with guitars, synthesisers, effects, field recordings, old vinyl and instruments that are harder to place (a Geiger counter at the opening of ‘Engines’). Each piece is a slow burner, slowly building up and taking things down a notch or two. Sometimes, the music develops into that beautiful, gritty atmosphere of lo-fi noise, so it only sometimes stays within what I call the beauty of the drone. Effectively, the music connects to the sort of lo-fi drone makers that have that dark and dystopian sound, the kind that Sequences (see elsewhere) once belonged to as well. Bauer + Katharina Schmidt do a great job with this; perhaps not the most original voice in the field, but I think they have something that is very much their own thing, which is probably that just a bit louder and grittier element in their music, which makes this stands on its own feet. (FdW)
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KENN HARTWIG – GAMEBOYS & PEDALS (cassette by Anunaki Tabla)

Recently, I told a friend that I have never played a computer game in my life, no console, not online, not ever, and I can say it’s an experience I don’t miss in my life. I’ve read more books than most others, which may sound snobbish. Hartwig loves his GameBoy, and the music on his cassette was recorded using an older model without a “pro sound mod”. He lists a bunch of software, none of which I ever heard of (as to be expected), and I assume he feeds his sounds through pedals, as indicated by the title. The nine pieces here have a particular noisy streak, bursting with deep bass rumble and crashing feedback. The last time (as far as I remember) I heard music made with Gameboys might have been DAT politics, some twenty years ago, which had an excellent combination of rhythm and noise, if I remember correctly. Hartwig’s music is short and to the point. The release is sixteen minutes, and everything is not a second too long, even the most extended piece, about a quarter of the total. It’s this concise approach that I found most appealing. I don’t know if I would think the machine is a limitation for the composer or the various bits of software. Still, as an example of possibilities, it works fine, and as a release of noise music, this too works best in its concentrated attacks, and perhaps it’s also because it isn’t all noise throughout. Hartwig knows how to control the machine and allows it to play something quieter; that long piece is an example. My noise release of the week! (FdW)
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