Number 1428

Week 11

ELIF YALVAÇ – VECTION (CD by Moving Furniture Records) *
JOS SMOLDERS – TEXTUUR 2 [ ||||—-] (CD by Crónica) *
CLINTON GREEN – A CONDUIT (CD by Shame File Music)
MODUS – DOMUS (CD by 13) *
STUDIO DAN & MARTIN SIEWERT – HYDRA (CD by Records & Other Stuff) *
PHIL MINTON & SZILARD MEZEI – TWO LIVES (CD by Inexhaustible Editions) *
AXEL DÖRNER & BEAT KELLER – APHANITE (CD by Inexhaustible Editions) *
GRZEGORZ MARCINIAK – MELODICA DUETS 5​-​9 (CD by Inexhaustible Editions) *
ARS SONITUS – THE GOSPEL OF JOSHUA (CD by Impulsy Stetoskopu) *
EXPÉRIENCES DE VOL #15 #16 #17 (3CD compilation by In-Possible Records)
ET SI C’​É​TAIT LE VENT QUI AVAIT RAISON ? (CD compilation by Ferns Recordings)
THE GHOST – VANISHED PLEASURES (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
OMAWI – WARELIS/GOVAERT/DE JOODE – WAIVE (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
TONY BUCK, MARK NAUSEEF – MONGRELS (CD by Relative Pitch Records) *
BERTIN – AUDIBLE (cassette by Oggy Records) *


While I still have the old Cranioclast vinyl on my shelves, I can’t remember when I last heard these. As I said, somewhere else, there is only so much time in a day, so when do I have the time to revisit my record collection? Cranioclast released a bunch of highly idiosyncratic records in the late 1980s, continuing in the decade after that, and then disappearing for a long time until they returned with two further releases in 2018 and 2023 on Auf Abwegen; I reviewed the one from 2018 (Vital Weekly 1157), not the one from last year.
Italy’s Silentes/Standa/13, or whatever name they prefer, now take it upon themselves to reissue three of the group’s older records. The first CD contains two 12″ releases, ‘A Con Cristal’ (1987) and ‘Rats Can Coil – Cats Can Roil’ (1990), and the second CD contains the LP ‘Kolik San Art’ (1986). As I wrote in the previous review of a new work, I considered Cranioclast Germany’s dark answer to zovietfrance, primarily because of the obscure nature of the group, artwork, text and music. After hearing these records again after many years, I see that that view needs some correction. ‘Kolik San Art’ is a strange affair of very musical pieces played on such conventional instruments as guitar and percussion. Numerous guests play some of these, while the core members add field recordings, rhythm machines and electronic effects. These electronic additions add an alien layer to the music, in odd contrast to the instruments, but it works quite well. I never realised or thought that Cranioclast’s music resembles Strafe FR or The Residents. There is that layer of mystery (who are the members?), the abstract level, and the loose connection to pop music. It may no longer have the same impact in 2024 as in 1987, but it is a wonderfully strange record, working with bizarre elements from musical styles. This bizarre approach is developed on the second CD; the music pieces are much longer, use various metallic percussions, string instruments (sometimes a guitar), and drums, and the recording space becomes more critical. They move the studio to old bunkers and record their music in big empty spaces – or that’s at least what they want us to believe. Maybe I was thinking about this record when I wrote about sounding akin to zovietfrance. It is still not a straightforward copy, but here, with the ongoing looped percussive rhythms, delays, reverb, and voices, there is a primitive, tribalist electronic folk music feel to these pieces. What this has to do with bunkers or rats/cats needs to be clarified, but who cares? It sounds great. It’s more ambient, industrial, and less poppy (for the lack of a better word) than on the first LP. Both 12″s are about twenty minutes each, but there is an additional thirty minutes of bonus material from 2023. Here, they continue the tribalist loop feeling of the earlier material, now called ‘Accidental encounter of rats and cats on a turntable’. They used the old vinyl as a sound source and arrived at a stripped-down original version. The overtly industrial music influence is replaced by a sparser version of mechanical sound in the first two pieces and a heavy ambient metal in the last. It’s not as good as the original pieces, but it’s still lovely. (FdW)
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ELIF YALVAÇ – VECTION (CD by Moving Furniture Records)

One of Moving Furniture Records’s ‘side labels’ is the series Eliane Tapes. The first six releases in this series were tapes with gorgeous ambient drones. The choice of tapes was evident because medium tape forms an essential ingredient in many of her compositions. But a lot happens in a lifetime, and as it turns out, cassettes have just about the worst carbon footprint of all possible media. So the choice was made (ed: being a fan of tape compression, I can only imagine it to be a hard choice) to no longer use the tape as a medium but the environmentally friendly CD. Turkish-based Elif Yalvaç has the honour of reopening the Eliane Tapes series on CD.
Like many ambient and drone artists, Elif is a big fan of Radigue, and for “Vection”, Radigue’s “L’Île Re-Sonante” formed the inspiration. And how inspiration works that’s different for everybody. “Vection” has five tracks, four shorter ones and one from 10 minutes. “L’Île Re-Sonante” is a single piece of almost an hour; for me, that is where the big difference between ambient and drone is. The pieces on this album are gorgeous, beautiful minimalist sculptures and fantastic ambience, but it’s not the massiveness of the piece that forms the inspiration. In a way, it’s the perfect example of how ambience and drones are interconnected but are entirely different.
Having written all of this, I will focus on this CD. The sounds Elif uses range from the digital territory to the use of guitar, which she also uses in an experimental rock setting under the name Diaries of Destruction. The balance of both the digital and analogue sources is spotless; A very well-produced album. There are two highlights for me: the opening track, “Telesto”, features rich variation and is a great composition. The closing 11-minute “Quaoar” is the longest but is also the closest to what drone music is about. In total, it is only 32 minutes in length, but those are 32 minutes of high-quality sounds from someone we will read of more often in the future. (BW)
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JOS SMOLDERS – TEXTUUR 2 [ ||||—-] (CD by Crónica)

Somewhere in the past, I am trying to remember when or on which occasion I wrote in a review something about granular synthesis being sampling on a microcellular level. And I wondered where granular synthesis ends and sampling begins. The whole micro/macro approach of dimensions can be drawn into this discussion, and with a nice glass of wine and a few creative minds, you could probably end up spending night after night on subjects like these. And why am I regurgitating this thought? Well, in the promo text of the new album by Jos Smolders, he refers to something that is about the same but in a different context. ‘Pierre Schaeffer investigated where sounds start and end and where the applicability of sounds start and end. Schaeffer introduced the term objet sonore as an object with a sonic quality of its own. In addition, he also defined the objet musicale, which is the state after the sound object is manipulated and transformed into a musical entity.’ The text continues: “One could say that the objet sonore is the raw material and the objet musicale the intermediate or the final product.”
These thoughts formed the basics of what will be a trilogy/triptych of textures. And no, “Textures And Mobiles” from 2004 is NOT the first in the series, so it’s not a tribute to Cage’s “ASLSP,” where we have to wait another 20 years for part 3. And yes, this is #2, but relax, breathe in, breathe out. You haven’t missed #1; it will simply be released later.
In one hour, Jos covers the spectrum of different styles. As far as you can go with ‘objets musicale’, this album is a professor lecture, if there ever was one. It features beautiful sound structures, musically intense compositions, and variations from minimalism, drone, experiments, and ambience to even—dare I say it—techno-ish things. Two essential tracks, Collection 1 and 2 and Permutations A through J, complete a full hour of what we like about Jos’ music.
To conclude: The minimalist sounds we hear aren’t minimalist. It’s not a particular frequency singular waveform or a standard white or coloured noise … Hell no. Jos knows what he is doing sound-wise, and in its minimalism lies the strength of its complexity. Or the other way around, but believe me, it’s really hard to design sounds that sound simple on the outside but so complex on the inside. Knowing Jos and having seen him perform live on several occasions, I can only say he excels in his field of expertise. Gorgeous release. (BW)
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CLINTON GREEN – A CONDUIT (CD by Shame File Music)

So far, Clinton Green’s work with turntables revolved (pun intended) around creating constructions of small metal plates and rods that would hit these constructions more or less randomly. His new CD, ‘A Conduit’, is something different. He still works with what he calls “prepared/hacked turntables and found objects as instruments” but also uses Walkmans. He has three pieces on this CD, the first he describes as “a psychodrama; an opera for Walkmans and turntable”, followed by “an interlude; an encounter” and lastly “a valve; flow control; no outlet”. The last one is a live recording; I am trying to figure out what is controlled here, maybe turntables and the result is a repeating electronic bleep, a bit like a shortwave cut short. The sound slowly alters during fifteen minutes and grows bigger, ending with a voice. It’s an okay piece, but I found more interest in the longer piece, ‘Allegations of Ventriloquism. ‘ It uses a similar voltage-controlled sound, but now in combination with more voices, other, very hard-to-define sound, and creating an intense, highly abstract radio drama. These are found voices from old spoken words on vinyl or perhaps lifted from television, and even when the meaning eludes me, it sounds fascinating. No doubt, the heavily obscured found sounds play an essential role in this piece. The short ‘Emucounter’ is indeed an interlude between the two longer pieces. The voltage-controlled continues (and turns out to be the recurring element in all three pieces) here, along with some heavily scratched records and with the most obvious use of those found objects. I found it not easy to make up my mind about this. The ongoing voltage-controlled element was too much, unless that’s the idea here, to connect all the pieces. I miss some of the playfulness I found in his earlier work, even when the first two pieces here are lovely, serious yet pleasant enough, while the third remained simplistic in its execution. (FdW)
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MODUS – DOMUS (CD by 13)

These two releases by Italy’s 13 label couldn’t be further apart. First, there is Mario Bertoni’s ‘My Easy Piano Pieces (A Ridiculous Legacy)’. In the late 1970s, he was part of the Confusional Quartet, an Italian new wave band, and in 1999, he released his first solo album. I reviewed his ‘Live In Trentville’ in Vital Weekly 1340. That was an album of computer music. The music on the new CD is what it says on the box; easy piano music. Easy, if you know how to play the piano, the only instrument my parents paid lessons for and which I wasn’t particularly good at. I am sure I couldn’t play these pieces. Bertoni started to write these pieces at the age of 15, and this is a collection of sixteen pieces, 29 minutes in total. Most of the time, up-tempo pieces are full of joy and life, with an occasional mid-tempo, slightly darker music. It has nothing to do with Erik Satie or contemporary piano players with their dross. It’s pleasant music but far away from what we usually review, even if I take contemporary classic music into account. A scorebook would have been excellent to test the easiness. Instead, he also fine poetic words and images from a video his son made for each of these pieces.
As said, the other is something entirely different. Behind Modus, we find Giulio Aldinucci, Emanuele Errante, Luigi Ferrara, Maurizio Martinucci and Fabio Orsi, all operators of electronics, each with a particular favourite and within a musical field. Some I know their work better than others. Besides the involved electronics, how the music was made is a mystery. Five places are mentioned on the cover: Baia, Naples, Amsterdam, Siena and Taranto, but I don’t know how that works. Listening to the music, I find it hard to believe this is something in which five musicians send in some random electronic works and, somehow miraculously, there is a finished CD with two pieces of music spanning 42 minutes. Because of how it sounds, someone must have been controlling the final mix unless there was some Skype/Zoom session in which all had their say over the results. The music is heavily ambient, dark, and atmospheric and gets a spicy form through rhythm. These rhythms are likewise dark and moody and are not engaging to dance. Because of the presence of Clock DVA member Maurizio Martinucci, I found some of this along the lines of Clock DVA, and the result is some excellent, moody music, precisely the kind of thing I enjoy very much. Examine the music closer to hear smaller segments, maybe the individual input here, making up the sum of the total music. It never stays very long in a place and moves around swiftly to the next segment, more ambient, less rhythm, or vice versa. Music for another late grey winter’s day. (FdW)
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While playing the CD by the Garuda Trio and Rodrigo Pinheiro, few can be classified as ‘jazz’ releases despite the label bearing the name jazz. The big disclaimer is, of course, that I am not an expert by any standard. I have to take such matters at face value, or as much I believe them to be. The trio’s lineup is Hugo Costa (alto saxophone), Hernani Faustino (double bass) and Joao Valinho (drums), guested by Rodrigo Pinheiro on piano. That already means ‘a jazz line up’, even when the result is more free jazz than trad jazz. However, again, warning: novices are piping an opinion, and their approach is also traditional in the free tradition. Each instrument sounds as expected, and while the 39 minutes are chaotic, playing these instruments is reasonably traditional. The three pieces were recorded in a studio in Lisbon in July 2022, and I am still determining how much of this is ‘live’ and how much is ‘edited’. What I found particularly noteworthy is that the saxophone is the instrument that is most up front, and the drums are relatively low in the mix. I wish that would have been different. Stylistically, this is the kind of music I have the most difficulty with; as a reviewer, it is complicated to review (see above), and as a listener, I can appreciate and enjoy the music’s raw energy.
From the next release, with four players, I only heard of Goncalo Almeida (double bass) before. The other players are Carla Santana (electronics), Josè Lencastre (alto and tenor sax), and Maria do Mar (violin). They recorded eight pieces in a studio in Abóboda in October 2022. Spoiler alert: the Portuguese connection continues. This is more what I expect from A New Wave Of Jazz; it’s improvised music, which goes without saying, but by adding, for instance, electronics as an oddball, Here too, the saxophone plays a reasonably traditional role, just as the other instruments; again, there is nothing of that ‘my instrument is an object’ approach with these musicians. The contrast between the electronic side and the acoustic works quite well; the latter platy, at times, small melodic phrases, maybe as to mark a difference between the more abstract electronic side. I don’t know what these electronics are, but my best guess would be modular electronics. Sometimes, everybody leans towards a more abstract side, with carefully bending strings, small notes and sparsely scattered silence. Throughout, the music sounds very controlled and quiet. It’s not easy to say this is because everyone is looking at each other, afraid to disturb the controlled music, maybe too restricted, but it can also be their intention to play the music in this controlled manner. This works quite well in a piece called ‘The Way Of Zen’ (perhaps an easy title). The hectic and chaos that sometimes comes with improvised music is also part of this, but it somehow works well.
Labelboss Dirk Serries plays (electric) guitar with the Lemadi trio. Le as in Jose Lencastre (alto sax), Ma as Martine Verhoeven (crumar piano) and Di for Dirk. They performed together for the first time on May 1st 2023, at Jazzblazzt in Neeritter, The Netherlands, and the results were of such a kind that a release was needed. There are two pieces on this CD, spanning 51 minutes of music, so, the entire recording of that day. They lean towards the first CD I reviewed here by Serries’ label, with a dominant role for the saxophone, although it isn’t among the wind instruments I love most. That’s a pity, as I especially like what Verhoeven is doing here on the electric Crumar piano. Her tones are light, like snowflakes, with the possibility to change the tone. Serries knows how to isolate guitar tones, unlike snowflakes, but unspecified events and short attacks on isolated strings. This makes for a significant interaction, which I enjoyed very much, even in their most free jazz moments. But the omnipresence of the wailing saxophone is too much at times. When all three decide to go for an all-chaotic blast, it works fine; that’s where I enjoy saxophones best, which is the same in this case. It’s not bad, but it’s too much for me at times. (FdW)
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Looking at the pictures of Jürg Frey, some of which adorn the covers of his releases, one sees delicate lines extending from very deliberately chosen areas of the totality of the possible drawing expanse. Lines not taking up much space, but circumscribing eventual spaces, underlining vastness surrounding them with minute gestures. His drawings are no scores, no manuscripts for music, but vice versa, his music can – indeed – be heard within the same keywords of precision, sensitivity, —-scape (either sound- or land- or ear- of eye-), vastness and, also, a certain regard for calm, but that is not to say: relaxation, not at all.
Frey’s serene lines in sound project a defiance of gravitational pull by offering a counterpoint in the shape of lyrical poetry; trusting, at ease. The composer says: “My music is slow, sometimes static, often delicately shifting between standstill and movement. And yet, this music has arrived at another place after more than an hour. Standstill, little happens — it is this atmosphere from which my music emerges and to which it always returns. Sometimes it just stays there. This is my world.”
In Vital Weekly 1415, when writing on Keiko Shichijo’s CD of Frey’s works for fortepiano, we described the fragile music as “a prime example of deeply filled emptiness, […] the music of spheres from a single tiny drop.” String Quartet No. 4 retains this vulnerability but, like earlier works for strings in various ensemble configurations by Frey, has a melodic and timbral assertiveness that lifts its presence beyond serenity and spatial near-vacuum into the realms of being exactly, manifestly here, for the sake of being here. Less, thus, as such, then, an interruption of not-here, of not-playing, of ‘silence’.
String Quartet No. 4 opens our ears to an affirmative proposal to, with ease, peace and poise, expect the depth of sound between these four instruments to grow ever larger, deeper, more rainbow coloured and kaleidoscopic with each touch, caress of the bow on the strings. The spaces between the coloured lines and the areas around these short but definite gestures – like ‘silences’ or emptinesses in other of Frey’s works – join in, and by manifesting themselves across the Quartet’s palette, they gyrate outward while folding into contain the musical matter in the lines themselves ánd in the spaces where the lines, the played notes, are not. But the work is, per se – where the strings, for example, take on organ-ish spectral and timbral qualities.
Frey: “[…] the collaboration only begins when the score is done. Yet, even when the score was finished, there were still details that seemed unclear to me. And there were further rehearsals, further performances. We rehearsed details, and then, at some point, the moment came when it didn’t get any better despite rehearsals and the sensitive cooperation with the musicians. I say to myself as a composer, okay, then the problem must be in the composition. It takes time to find out which changes are real improvements. And QB gave me the time for this process. And this is my collaboration with the Quartet, and it is absolutely essential for me to understand my work better.”
There are elements here of spectacular immersive wonder in ethereal un-densities, in colourful swathes of impasto and of almost erased kinetic flows like a lamento take on late De Kooning paintings: striking, rich, spare yet animated, remarkable and mysterious. Something one can never be sure of, one can never know, and no one else will ever know. A work changing to stay the same. Stilled and receding, reduced music – always connected to silence, sharp-focused and assured, enlivened by flowing, radiant melodic lines this Quartet demonstrates a striking formal and emotional range: reverberating with elusive yet clear references, wholly contained in the purest of instrumental form. Charged with primary urgency, possibly even a narrative drive, distilled to be forever moving. (SSK)
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STUDIO DAN & MARTIN SIEWERT – HYDRA (CD by Records & Other Stuff)

Having already had my fair share of free improvisation this week, I found listening to ‘Hydra’ sometimes overwhelming and demanding. Studio Dan, from Austria, performs three pieces by Julia Purgina. This CD is another one of those releases of what seems like improvised music but which is called composed; maybe the graphic scores call for such? Purgina says that the music is a result of interacting with the ensemble. Among the instruments we find are the flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and trombone, all of which make themselves massively present in these three pieces, but also violin, viola, cello, double bass, percussion, piano and drums. ‘Games’, opening the CD, is an all-out free improvisation piece, with a primary role for the wind instruments; not something I particularly enjoyed. I found the other two pieces of more interest. In ‘5 PM Istanbul’, there is an exciting interaction between Martin Siewert’s distorted guitar, creating some crazy controlled drones and the ensemble controlling their playing, maybe to simulate a picture of Istanbul in the distance. At one point, the trumpet calls for a prayer, and this is in the middle of the piece, and everything goes quiet following this explosion of sound. The title piece is the most extended piece, at 32 minutes. The story concerns the ancient myth of Hydra, how it relates to our current time, and how difficult it is to fight the poison. In this piece, modern classical music meets improvisation, meets jazz, and throughout a most enjoyable piece, with quite an extended role for Siewert’s guitar.
As I have repeatedly expressed, Vital Weekly is not a jazz or modern music publication; it’s something that slipped in through the backdoor. Sometimes, it seems that this kind of music is the most resourceful (financially) to support sending out promotional copies. Still, most of the reviewers here don’t know how to handle this kind of music. My slightly uninformed review is proof of that. (FdW)
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PHIL MINTON & SZILARD MEZEI – TWO LIVES (CD by Inexhaustible Editions)
AXEL DÖRNER & BEAT KELLER – APHANITE (CD by Inexhaustible Editions)
GRZEGORZ MARCINIAK – MELODICA DUETS 5​-​9 (CD by Inexhaustible Editions)

Had the inventor of the CD loved a complete Ring Des Nibulungen on one CD, it could have hold so much music for the rest of us, but I believe it was Beethoven’s fifth symphony that determined the length to 80 minutes. I am of the variety that loves CDs, but also it’s not necessary to fill them completely. Here we have two concerts recordings by Phil Minton (voice) and Szilárd Mezei (viola), hence the somewhat dull title of the release. I assume they were touring and on this CD we find ‘fourth’ and ‘sixth’, recorded two days apart in May 2022. Both are around 37 minutes, which is quite a sit, of you decide to play both in one go (and yes, do not contact me to tell me that’s not necessary; others beat you to that a long time ago). Any release with demanding improvised music, lasting more than 40 minutes, is a long release, and what Mezei and Minton do is certainly demanding. Minton has an expressive voice, not unlike that of Jaap Blonk and combined with the violin of Mezei this brings ditto expressive music. As differences between both concerts I noted that the second seemed a bit sparser than the first; or maybe both players have some distance to the microphone? There is that hectic playing, inherent to improvised music and there is also quite a bit of drama. I have a slight preference for ‘Fourth’, which seemed to contain most drama, most action and most expression. Why this attracted to me? I don’t know; it might be easily the other way round, the next time I hear this CD.
Also quite long is the CD by Axel Dörner (trumpet, electronics) and Beat Keller (feedbacker electric guitar, acoustic guitar). They recorded three pieces over two days is a studio in Switzerland in February 2023 and a day after they played a concert and recorded two further pieces. From Dörner I reviewed various works over the many years he’s active in the field of improvised music, but only once concerning Beat Keller (Vital Weekly 1056). If the Minton and Mezei disc is the more traditional side of improvised music, here we are going into a stranger side of that kind music. Sure, there is enough here that is easily classified as improvised music, but because of the electronics involved, the music takes a left turn at times, and finds itself screaming and bursting with noise, piercingly loud. The two don’t back away to have something sustaining going on for more than a few seconds. This I think is due to the use of electronics on the side of Dörner and the feedback of Keller, but also in their treatment of the instruments. At times they make it sound like a percussion instrument, like bells, like the crumbling of a newspaper, or going all gentle, and making it sound like a guitar and a trumpet. As said, nothing stays very long in the same place, and within seconds/minutes, they are somewhere else, in an entirely different land, as it were. I assume many lovers of more traditional improvised music find this too harsh, too noisy and too crude, and I can’t blame them. Had I not heard a fair share of noise music in my life, I would too, but following music defining years in power electronics and industrial music, I think these musicians do a great job at doing a kind of noise music that isn’t about pure noise, but works with the dynamics of noise.
I believe I missed out on ‘Melodica Duets 1-4’ by Grzegorz Marciniak, but now he follows with five more duets for this instrument, and he plays both parts. “Each Duet can be performed either as a whole, in fragments, or in loops, performers can choose which Duets to play and in which order to play them (including Duets from the previous set). Optionally, any Duet can be performed with a pre-recorded material. Depending on the size of a space, these Duets can be performed acoustically or with a sound system.” I am unsure what that means, but as I am playing these pieces I am thinking of ripping all of them, and putting them in a multi-track DAW and see how that works, as I enjoy the minimalism of these pieces. Each has a slowly developping pace, which works very well. I assume he plays both melodica’s in each piece, and as in all great minimal music there are slow shifts between both parts, creating excellent sonic illusions, of left/right, of changing pitches (or maybe they do shift? – I couldn’t tell after a while). Each piece consists of a small bit of melodica, following beyond the attack, silence and then another melodica bit. Sometimes in the higher region, such as in ‘No. 9’, but mostly a bit lower. An excellent CD! Tranquil and powerful music. (FdW)
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This CD comes with a small cross, and the CD is screwed between two plastic plates, thus causing a small break at the centre of the CD; luckily, it still plays. I know from various bible studies that the Gospel of Joshua is not part of the Old or New Testament. There’s a book of Joshua in the Old Testament, but that can’t be the subject here, looking at Christian iconography. It is a text by Guillaume Toussaint (1957-2016) written in 2009 and 2012. I couldn’t find any information online. Ars Sonitus created the music between 2019 and 2023. I knew they dabble with noise music from their previous CD (Vital Weekly 1382). This time no sound devices are mentioned, but judging by the music, it’s the same setup as last time (“tape decks, broken pianos, everyday and metal objects/devices, analogue/digital effects, urban/noise field recordings, “less or more known voices”, sampler AKAI S1000, tape echo, mixer Boss BX600″). There are also spoken word bits, usually related to religious matters. I couldn’t tell if this was severe religious work or a harsh comment. The voice bits need to be more explicit for that. The music has that industrial touch of looped rhythms and distorted electronics, and some general mayhem ensues. Sometimes, the music leans towards power electronics, with extra overdrive on the distortion and fewer jackhammering rhythms. That said, the music isn’t the all-on assault of sonic overload, as the group (?) occasionally pulls back out of the melee, and they regroup, rethinks and pull back, such as in the fourth track. It may share the mysterious quality of old industrial music releases, where you never knew what it all meant if it was severe. Lovely old-fashioned noise music: a throwback to happy earlier years. (FdW)
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EXPÉRIENCES DE VOL #15 #16 #17 (3CD compilation by In-Possible Records)
ET SI C’​É​TAIT LE VENT QUI AVAIT RAISON ? (CD compilation by Ferns Recordings)

Here we have two compilations, both from France, with a theme (perhaps) and some differences. One is a three-CD set containing twelve pieces of music, and each composer gets a considerable amount of time, between twelve and twenty minutes; these pieces were commissioned by and composed at the Art Zoyd studios in France. The other compilation has eight relatively short pieces, all recorded in the artists’ private studios, I assume.
Let’s start with “flight experiences”, which is the translation of ‘Expériences de Vol’, and looking at the numbers; there have been several predecessors. I have no idea where to get those or this new one, as there is no website mentioned or Bandcamp, just streaming through some channel (not advertising them, sorry); who is this for, exactly? Art Zoyd, the old band, has a state-of-the-art studio in France, according to the booklet (in theRE only English bit, the rest is all in French, another point of critique), and people here work on new pieces. Many composers here deal with noise music, perhaps not something one expects, but that’s how it is. I am not blown away by the noise compositions of Nadia Ratsimandresy, Brice Catherin and Dror Feiler, all in variations that drag on too long. Antoine Chessex’s piece is the shortest piece on this set but an excellent drone/noise piece, and so is Annabelle Playe’s. Julien Ottavi delivers something that, for once, isn’t all about being the loudest musicians in the room. A few others work with instruments, such as the strings (violin mostly) and piano by Barbara Dang and the voices of Mirtru Escalona-Mijares, also in combination with electronics and creating a lovely, mysterious piece of music. Likewise Raphaël Ortis works with electronics and percussive/gong sounds. The top three pieces are Gerard Lebik’s organ drones, which almost work like Shepard tones. Yerri-Gaspar Hummel has a great piece involving the sound of bees. The winner is the composition by Christian Zanesi, a beautiful, mysterious piece of heavily processed animal sounds which has a spooky quality. It’s very creepy but lovely. It’s the first piece of the set, so it’s a hard act to follow.
The title of the other compilation translates as “What if it was the Wind that was right?” which I assume is the thematic approach here. While no such thing is mentioned anywhere, we might use this as a good ol’ label sampler, highlighting the best from their catalogue. There’s music by Vincent Jehanno Alice Kemp, BRB>Voicecoil, Leif Elggren, Jeph Jerman, Yeast Culture (quite a surprise there!), Alienor Golvet and Anne Gillis; a fine mix of well-known and new names. These pieces have a noisy aspect, even where one doesn’t expect this. Lots of acoustic objects abuse, electronics to alter these (and I am thinking more stompboxes than digital means), field recordings, broken records (Elggren) and voice abuse (Kemp, Gillis). None of these tracks stand out, but none are mediocre, either. All eight are particularly strong pieces. Oddly enough, the one artist this label does not present with music is Small Cruel Party, but instead, he did the cover drawing. (FdW)
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THE GHOST – VANISHED PLEASURES (CD by Relative Pitch Records)
TONY BUCK, MARK NAUSEEF – MONGRELS (CD by Relative Pitch Records)

Michael Foster is a sax player, previously featured here in 2022 with his solo release, ‘The Industrious Tongue’ (Number 1350 — Vital Weekly). This incarnation of The Ghost has Jared Radichel on double bass and Joey Sullivan on drums. Both are based out of Philadelphia. Three people, three instruments, nine pieces, sixty-six minutes of music. And what music it is. Explorative soundscapes, full-blown groove jazz reminiscent of the Lounge Lizards or John Lurie in his soundtracks and everything in between. After researching the titles, I found that they all have a common theme: the experience of dealing with unaccepted urges and desires.’ Is this How Long the Pleasure Lasts?’ hints at felicific calculus, and duration is one of the variables used to calculate the amount of pleasure an action produces. As I said earlier, it’s an explorative soundscape with tentative bowing by Radichel joined by sax and percussion noises. It makes for an exciting start to this release. PsychoTwink heads into a rhythmic exposé and variations in the following few minutes. I’ll leave it to the reader to search for PsychoTwink. Mr. Mineshaft alludes to a play based on the life and work of Julius Eastman, or I should rather say the rise and fall of Julius Eastman. Once a famous jazz musician and composer, but now mostly forgotten by the mainstream public. I’m glad to say there’s a growing interest in his music in the last twenty years. Foster made a fine tribute to Eastman with Mr. Mineshaft. He uses minimalist techniques with a lot of repetitive figures. It’s a lovely piece to listen to. Another one worth mentioning is ‘The Wounded Man’, a direct translation of ‘L’homme blesse’, the title of a French gay film released in 1983. A young man discovers his homosexuality and begins a relationship with a manipulative hustler or petty criminal that he meets at a train station. The music has an inherent tension; through the notes Foster plays, the reaction of the double bass, and the commentary in the drums, Sullivan uses his kit more percussively. There’s more to say about the rest of the titles. But I’ll leave that to the reader. With ‘Vanished Pleasures’ Foster, Rachichel and Sullivan made a record that pleasures the ears and mind of this reviewer much longer than the sixty-six minutes of this release. You can find a performance of the trio on YouTube, which is well worth checking out.
‘Waive’ is the second release by this Amsterdam-based trio. Omawi stands for Onno (Govaert on drums), Marta (Warelis on piano) and Wilbert (de Joode on double bass). The third is a live recording with two guests: trumpet player Alistair Payne and double bass player Ingebrigt Håker Flaten. ‘Waive’ was recorded live at Zaal 100 in Amsterdam and was the first concert between lockdowns in 2021. I saw them play at Studio Loos in The Hague two years earlier, a place comparable to Zaal 100. And I was blown away, not by the volume of the performance but by the sheer musicianship of all three. You might ask: what’s Zaal 100? It’s a cultural centre that emerged from the squat scene in Amsterdam in 1984 and is now a venue for small acts and one of the few locations for improvised music in Amsterdam—not solely improvised music, I have to add.
These three musicians are accomplished musicians. Wilbert is a veteran in the scene: he started playing the double bass in 1982 and is self-taught. He is a member of the Ab Baars Trio and has played with numerous musicians: Han Bennink, Frank Gratkowski, Ig Henneman and the big band Big Bent Braam. Marta was born in Poland, studied piano in Groningen, a place in the north of the Netherlands, and is now based in Amsterdam. She has also played with numerous musicians, including Onno Govaert. He’s a member of the free jazz outfit Cactus Truck (with Jasper Stadhouders and John Dikeman) and played with Dirk Serries and Kaja Draksler (in her octet). On to the music.
Five pieces in nearly an hour. The shortest one is seven minutes, and the longest is sixteen. We get a wonderful world of small connected figures, commentaries on them, and ideas started in the piano and immediately transformed or taken over in double bass. This is different from your standard jazz trio with distinctly defined roles. This trio is like a musician that is divided into three persons. Those three persons make decisions on the spot as if one (imaginary) person made them. It’s incredible. It might explain the title: they waive the right to be an autonomous musician. It all sounds incredibly transparent. Every single detail can be heard. The (overtone) double bass bowing at the start of the first piece to the last three notes in the last track with the cymbal in the background. Not in the least, it was made possible by the expert recording by Ron Ruiten, mixing by Marc Schots, and mastering by Weasel Walter. If you expect cocktail jazz, forget it; except for the last track: ‘everblooming’. This is an improvisation of the highest order. My favourite for now is ‘Dark Little Narratives’, mainly because it’s spacious music, less dense than the other tracks, with not a lot of movement but with a sense of tension and a brooding atmosphere. Seek this one out. You won’t regret it ( I hope).
Tony Buck is one-third of the avant-garde jazz trio the Necks from Australia. If that’s a name unfamiliar to you, I highly recommend diving into their discography. On this release, Tony ditches his drum kit and percussion instruments (aqua phone and Zulu bells) for the most part and replaces them with various stringed instruments. The complete list is as follows: electric guitar, electric baritone guitar, arch-top acoustic guitar, bass guitar & mono-chord. Mark Nauseef is a drummer and has worked with a plethora of musicians and bands, including the Velvet Underground as a tour drummer, Tomas Stanko, Andy Summers and many others. His interest in Javanese and Balinese gamelan is heard throughout this release: he uses bells and gongs from Bali, Java, Korea, Japan, India, China and Tibet. Some of you might then think that this release contains the standard Westernized new-age tripe. Not here. Wrapped around several shorter pieces, Buck and Nauseef whipped up a monster track that was almost half an hour long. Buck stacks several layers, each with its own place in the sound image (sometimes slowly creeping from left to right or vice versa), using the whole frequency spectrum range. Angelic overtones are created in stringed instruments and bells and gongs that swirl around with lots of (naturally added reverb). The music evolves slowly like a glacier, with an inherent tension because of all the intervals perceived as shifting chords, almost like an aural equivalent of a liquid light show. Short bursts of repeated strummings offer a sense of rhythm and pace. Time goes by and is interspersed with repeated figures that come and go. It is best to enjoy this with headphones or in a quiet environment. There’s a lot to be appreciated here. And, of course, for some, this would count as Westernized new-age tripe. But I’m afraid I have to disagree. There’s too much dissonance here, which creates tension that is seldom resolved, only in the shorter pieces for shorter moments. Tony Buck did the recording and mixing, and Weasel Walter did the mastering. Both did an excellent job. First and foremost, we must thank the musicians Tony Buck and Mark Nauseef for conjuring up a sound world that is a fantastic cross between Eastern percussion and Western harmonics—a well-bred mutt. I, for one, hope there will be a lineage of mongrels. Incidentally, while searching for the cover image on the Internet, I came across an annual report from 2011 from a financial enterprise that used the same image of a door knocker. The report’s title was “Blending of strengths.” Quite fitting for this release. (MDS)
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A few weeks ago, this band was mentioned in a review about Nasmak, contemporaries of Mekanik Kommando, when they were both very active in the early to mid-1980s. Although quite different bands, they were both seen as creators of intelligent new pop music. Mekanik Kommando quickly gained fame, as they delivered in early 1981 the flexi disc to a new magazine, Vinyl. I was a fan immediately, even when missing out on the many concerts they played; in my defence, I was also relatively young. Mekanik Kommando released an excellent debut LP (Vital Weekly 728 discusses the CD reissue), followed by an incredible 12″, both on the independent Torso Records label and then signed to EMI. The first LP was ‘hot’, but the group had gone cold by the time they did the second for EMI. They were compared to Pink Floyd, which was, in 1986, a curse. By then, the group had changed their sound, making it less ‘poppy’ (if they ever were poppy) and more spacious, relying more on synthesisers, sound effects, and soundscapes. When rhythms were used, the music had a more Krautrock-like drive. They released a double cassette, ‘And The Wind Died Down’, in a video box with a beautiful stencil book (or is it mimeograph? Or risograph?), full of soft-toned colours, almost like a book of fairytales. Sadly, I sold my copy ages ago, strapped for cash. Now it’s on LP, without the book (or a replica thereof), but every copy (265 or some such were made) contains a different woodblock print, continuing to be a work of art, like the original.
As I played the old cassettes quite a bit, this reissue is a feast of recognition. As I was more into weird music in the mid-1980s, this 2LP connected all the right dots. It wasn’t extreme music (which I also liked then), but abstract soundscapes mixed with rhythmic pieces and songs next to atmospheres. A few pieces appeared on ‘Het Terrein’ by De Fabriek, which has some information on the original cassette, but it is something I overlooked (and I had that cassette, too!). The connection between De Fabriek and Mekanik Kommando was established earlier with ‘Neveleiland’), and some of the music here reminds me of that album. A new instrument that appeared on this album is the saxophone, and, as far as I know, this is the only Mekanik Kommando record to feature that. This double album sees completed songs next to a more fragmentary use of sounds and soundscapes, from joyous moments to introspective ones. Their earlier, more synth-pop sound is only very sparsely present on this record, but when they do, it has an early techno-ish feeling with the motorik drive of Krautrock. Some of these pieces were used in film, theatre, documentaries, and video but can be enjoyed as independent pieces. I thought much of their other output was too poppy for Vital Weekly, but this is right for us. Excellent! (FdW)
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Brutal honesty is the only thing I believe in; I can’t say I know someone’s music because it’s a well-known name. Of course, I heard of Band of Susans by name, but never by music. I know Robert Poss, one of the members and producer of the group’s work, played guitar on pieces by Phill Niblock, which I heard, but I never heard many of his other collaborations. These were Nicolas Collins, Kato Hideki, FM Einheit, Sally Gross, and Ben Neill (among many others). Likewise, I have yet to hear his solo work. There are only so many hours in a day. I am sure Poss didn’t think of me when he made ‘Drones, Songs and Fairy Dust’, his latest release, but the way I hear the album, it could be an introduction to his work. But then again, maybe all his solo works are like this?
When I heard the opening piece, ‘Secrets, Chapter And Verse’, I believed this to be another case of mistaken promotional action. Guitars, vocals, effects, shoegazing drone pop? Where did we get that reputation? But, shortly after that, ‘ Foghorn Lullaby’, which is more akin to a slowed-down drone piece, is right up our musical alley. This diversification is the key to this release, which could have been called ‘A Beginner’s Guide To Robert Poss’. The pieces with vocals are for someone else. There is too much rock music, and even when I like the wall of sound/psychedelic approach, it’s for me something from a too-far-away past; had I grown up with Band Of Susans, I would probably think otherwise. In general, these are the pieces that use drums. I didn’t count, but the instrumental pieces are in the majority, and I liked these a lot. From the nervous, Suicide inspired piece ‘S Romp’, to the open strumming of ‘Trem 23’ and to the more contemplative ‘Foghorn Lullaby’, Poss shows that his drone and minimalist guitar playing fits the pop format very well because many of these pieces are short (one to four minutes) and very much to the point. Nothing lasts very long, which gives the music some excellent urgency. Sometimes high on the sustain and ebow, but also gently strumming away. Some excellent work, and certainly something that I need to investigate more. This is what daytime alternative radio sounds like. (FdW)
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BERTIN – AUDIBLE (cassette by Oggy Records)

Many musicians are great at making music, like writers who write books or painters who do paintings. Some know how to do a decent cross-over. Very few can do a lot. Dutch musician Bertin is one of those humans who manages to do many things and be very good at them; for Bertin, that includes drawing comics, video clips, computer games, websites, book design, and music. I consider his 7″ ‘Videorecorder’ (see Vital Weekly 658) to be an ultimate classic, but the general opinion sadly doesn’t agree with me; it should be up there with ‘TV OD’ and ‘Being Boiled’. About 13 years ago, Bertin had a great thing going: Visitors, electronic songs about robots and aliens, even with many musicians and some flashy video clips, and showing his love for synthesiser, Casio and rhythm machines. This is an on/off thing, as with many of his interests. It came, it went, and now it’s back again, sans aliens and robots, or vocals, for that matter. Oggy Records from Berlin releases an eight-track cassette in which Bertin shows his love for an electronic pop song. Each of these comes with a fine melody or two, a fine rhythm machine to add a backbone to the music and throughout with a laidback atmosphere. This music doesn’t aim at the dance floor but rather at a home situation, where one sits back and listens. Knowing Bertin a bit, he recorded this music with some old and new synthesisers and without software, as analogue synths are his current love (and I don’t mean modular, but the ones that come with a keyboard), for as long as it takes. Even when this is not on par with that excellent ‘Vistors’ album from 2012, mainly due to this being instrumental, I enjoyed this tape, combining the best of 1980s synth-pop with a delicate touch of seventies cosmic music condensed to a pop song. Joyful or sad, up or downbeat, just like Bertin, the master of all trades, the music of all kinds. Thirty minutes of pop bliss, and I love it. (FdW)
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