Number 1431

Week 14

GAGARIN – KOMREBI (CD by Geo Records) *
SCANNER – THE PHENOL TAPES (CD by Alltagsmusik) *
STRUPPIG WIDERHALLEN (CD compilation by Licht-ung)
UNZEIT QUARTETT (CD by Trouble In The East Records) *
RSN – INDISTINCTION #1 (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
RSN – INDISTINCTION #2 (CDR by Attenuation Circuit) *
ARON PORTELEKI – SMEARING (CDR by Blindblindblind) *
ROEL MEELKOP – THE FUTURE IS IN THE PAST (cassette by Kringloop Kassettes) *
SICK DAYS – HAND-OFF APPROACH (cassette by Kringloop Kassettes) *
MODELBAU – SINGLE STREAM (cassette by Kringloop Kassettes) *
D-GENERATION ISSUE #1 (magazine w/ CD by Ultra Mail Prod/D-Generation)

GAGARIN – KOMREBI (CD by Geo Records)

Sadly, not every release by Gagarin reaches me; that’s what I think. Behind Gagarin, we find Graham ‘Dids’ Dowdall, who has been musically active since the late 1970s, first with Ludus, later touring for seven years with Nico, recording with John Cale, Eric Random, Sonexuno, Pere Ubu and Infidel. He also made music with disabled people, and that led to a job he still has as a lecturer at Goldsmiths University in London. Soon I will review new books, including one by Rabon Storey, also known as Rapoon, and if Dowdall put his history into a book, I’d read it (hell, I publish it). Following a tour in Russia in the 1990s, he started to work as Gagarin, named after the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin and ‘Komorebi’s official release date on April 12, the 63rd anniversary of Yuri’s space travel. The title is a Japanese word referring to how sunlight is seen and felt through leaves and branches, which we can see as a metaphor for the music. On this album, we find ten pieces of music, including a piece he recorded for Nina Danino’s film ‘Solitude’ about Nico and two pieces for the ‘Wonderdusk’ event on Box Hill – I am unsure what that means, but Box Hill is called iconic in the press text. Proficient with many instruments, as Gagarin, Dowdall plays electronic instruments, samplers, iPads, drum machines, and synthesisers. Much like Neu Gestalt, reviewed elsewhere, Gagarin’s music is spacious, ambient and rhythmic, and as with all good things in ambient house, the sound of birds is never far away. Despite using rhythm, even a 4/4 beat sometimes, the music never aims at the dancefloor; at least, that’s what I think. The elements of spaciousness prevail here, with dreamy textures and moody melodies played on a bunch of synthesisers. These pieces have a fine amount of variation, from the ambient, rhythmless second part of ‘Wonderdusk’ to strangely jumpy electro rhythms of ‘Codeswitch’ or the straightforward darkness of ‘Margate Illuminati’. Unlike Neu Gestalt’s broken-up rhythms at times, Gagarin maintains steady beats when he uses them, and it all works very well. Last year, Dowdall was diagnosed with cancer and got chemotherapy. I hope that worked, and he will continue to release new music – next to, hopefully, his autobiography. (FdW)
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I have already reviewed various works by Masayuki Imanishi; use the search engine on our beautiful website if you want to know where that was. Besides penning a few reviews, I know little about his work or person. He made the recordings in Osaka, Japan, and the cover mentions the locations, “Osaka Station, Ogimachi, Tama river, Matsuyamachi and my room”. He describes them as sounds of ordinary, everyday life, the small sounds that usually go unnoticed. He uses various recorders, such as a Walkman and digital recorders and back home, he deconstructs and reconstructs (her words) these recordings with a variety of methods, “cut-ups, manipulations, feedback, reverb, equaliser”. The result is two pieces, ‘Asphalt’ and ‘Concrete’. I know from Imanishi’s previous releases that he likes her music to be minimal and sparse, a bit like those good ol’ lowercase releases. He likes his music to be blurry, and it’s not always clear where the details. Imanishi creates two exciting pieces of music in which he doesn’t hide his love for a more drone-like approach, especially in ‘Concrete’. In ‘Asphalt’, the street sounds are easy to recognise, but there remain a few sounds in both pieces that I have yet to learn where they come from. These pieces have a lovely, dense character and use field recordings slightly different than others in the label’s catalogue. (FdW)
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It seems like a romantic thing: being away for six weeks, on an isolated island, in a wooden fisherman’s hut in Captiva, Florida and armed with nothing more than one small synthesiser, the Kilpatrick Phenol, hence the title, and one guitar pedal, the Eventide H9 effects pedal. Robin Rimbaud did this in 2017 at the invitation of the Robert Rauschenberg Residency. In the morning, he worked on a book, and in the afternoon, he recorded music. It sounds excellent, but one could also go bonkers. I feared I had to know more about Robert Rauschenberg to look for clues within the music, but the “interdisciplinary artists’ residency programme, based on Rauschenberg’s belief that art can change the world, nurture and facilitate experimentation, collaboration and innovation.” So, this work stands by itself, then. I need to be more knowledgeable concerning all there is to hear in Scanner land, but these ten pieces take on a spacious drift. Not by pressing down a key and letting the effects drone you to sleep (this synth has no keys), but by turning knobs, working the oscillations, and doing that in a slow and atmospheric manner. Scanner only very sparsely uses rhythm, such in the much less ambient inspired ‘Stone, Stone, Stone’, with a more industrial drop and spoken word (from his trusted scanner?). What I enjoyed most about this release was what it is, and that’s a pure ambient record. Even in its quietest moments, the music remains a bit rough around the edges. It could be because it’s only one synth and one effect box. I couldn’t say, but perhaps that’s where we find the reason for this slightly rougher ambient. Smoothness might be okay; I prefer the less clean, grittier version of ambient music, and this album has a lot of that. A mighty fine album it is, one for the quieter easter days. (FdW)
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Because it’s a rainy day and these new CDs by Simon Fisher Turner are very long, I have plenty of time to consider the whole notion of reviewing again. Some musicians mail me every work they do. I hear one or two releases for some musicians and then never again. And there’s a group I hear off and on, mostly off, so I only get a partial picture of what they do. Simon Fisher Turner is such a musician. I am unsure how often I reviewed his work (and too lazy to look it up) or that I even have the slightest notion of what the man does. I had him down as a composer of notes, in scores, and music performed by ensembles. That was without even looking at the titles here, which could confirm this line of thought; ‘symphony’ and ‘new modern music’. It turns out I am wrong, and back to the start: I have no idea what the man does. Both CDs contain one piece of music; one is 77 minutes, and one is 61 minutes. The ‘Symphony’ is the soundtrack to a film of the same name, but this is different from the soundtrack used, as that one has Klara Lewis and Rainier Lericolais. Turner made a backing track using something called MARX in Ableton Live (as it says on the cover), which he mailed to Klaea and Rainier, asking them to process stuff from home recordings he had sent them since 1986. Also mentioned, and I admit this isn’t the easiest of liner notes I ever read, and other film sounds are mentioned, and it ends with “let’s release the backing track, so everyone can have a go and make their own version”. A similar ‘do what you want’ approach can be found on the other release, with the heft title ‘New Modern Music For Political Documentaries’; “I would invite you to be experimental in your use with this music for your films”.
The two works are quite different. ‘Symphony’ is one coherent piece of music, whereas ‘New Modern Music’ consists of distinctly different segments. Both works exclusively use computer treatments for field recordings, acoustic sounds, and instruments, yet none of this can be traced back to its origin. Lots of pitching and shifting are happening here, and most of the time, minimalist changes are happening. There is that gentle glitch approach we don’t hear much about in today’s ambient productions anymore. We can see ‘New Modern Music’ as one of those records with music you can use for your own films, a sound effects LP. Still, rather than naming the individual sections (‘scary music’, ‘smooth music’, etc.), Turner makes it more complicated, making it one long piece of music and thus forcing us (also) to enjoy this as a stand-alone piece of music. Quite rightfully, it’s a great piece.
‘Symphony’ is a piece with stretched-out tones, also pitching and shifting but using a lot less source material and exploring various themes within while having that long-form drifting quietness. My movie would be something of an equally sparse movement, with shadows and sunlight, as I found the piece relatively light and airy, with a shade of darkness lingering throughout. Development is very minimal but unmistakably there. Occasionally, I had the impression of hearing flutes and violins, creating a computerised orchestral feeling to the music and keeping warmth throughout. These are two excellent CDs; I need more time to learn about this composer. (FdW)
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From that most curious label, Antenna Non Grata is another exciting release. Some of their releases deal with experimental radio sounds, and some are improvised. I think Surreal Voyagers is part of the latter group of releases. However, this duo is hardly traditional. Aleksander Wnuk (percussion & electronics) and Michał Lazar (electric guitar & electronics) started in 2018 and had various names before. They were part of a classical, contemporary ensemble before establishing their own duo. They performed works by others but slowly started their own pieces, primarily as part of dance performances. The three pieces on this CD were recorded on 14 May 2022 as part of the Musica Polonica Nova Festival 2022 at the Sound Gallery at the National Forum of Music in Wrocław, Poland, and this is the first time they have worked together that is all their own making. This, too, is a work for choreography. It’s described on Bandcamp, should you want to know more.
What sets the music apart from your standard improvised music is the fact that it’s very drone-like but within the context of improvising. Bows upon strings and cymbals, quite a bit of reverb and there is very little chaos and hectic. Surreal Voyagers are all about creating massive atmospheric sound clouds. As far as I judge such matters, the recording is a mix of room and line recordings, creating some space between ‘us’ and ‘the music’, adding to the spacious drift of the music itself. The room becomes an additional instrument, that kind of thing. Whatever the choreography looked like, not even after reading the text, the music works quite well as a standalone soundtrack. Massively moody textures, hermetically closed, full of ringing overtones. They cut the music into three pieces, but it’s one long piece as far as I am concerned. I am trying to find references, but I couldn’t think of anything else besides some of Jim O’Rourke’s early 1990s collaborations. It’s a bit of many things and maybe something entirely their own. (FdW)
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STRUPPIG WIDERHALLEN (CD compilation by Licht-ung)

Leverkusen is a small German town on the border of Cologne, and the border is to be taken literally here; a street separates them. In this city, you’ll find the KAW, a club, centre, and youth sort of thing, and every six or so months, the people from the label Licht-ung organise an event with four or five bands and musicians. Everything is recorded, and selections are released on a CD, which became a nice little series, a who’s who of European experimental musicians. I heard these four-way compilations and never gave the curational aspect much thought. I assumed that it was whoever was available and invited. With this new one, ‘Widerhallen’, I gave this some more thought, as it occurred to me that all four projects are using guitars in some way. I say ‘seem’ as I am only (very much) aware of Dirk Serries’ music from these four. Katharina Schmidt, Bank Myna and Ort are new names for me. I didn’t attend this event, so I am surprised here. Schmidt has a beautiful drone-like piece, which may be one guitar and some effects (in fact, it may be a bass guitar or anything else), and as an eerie, atmospheric quietness. As with many of the used live recordings, the sound is recorded in the venue with microphones, adding liveliness to the music. Something similar can be said of the music by Serries, but now clearly guitar and effects, maybe played with an e-bow, maybe with loop effects, and his music is much less of a standstill, rocking slow but steady back and forth. The other two bands are more rock-like bands, with Bank Myna doing a Japanese psychedelic tour (and some spill-over from the drums, which give the music an occasional strange bump), along with vocals without words. Ort, on the other hand, uses no vocals and rocker harder than Bank Myna, and they deal with it from a more drone metal perspective. Even with Bank Myna’s psychedelic music being not so drone-like, one can say that this is a four-way split offering a variety of drone-like pieces. Indeed, it was an evening of highly atmospheric tunes. (FdW)
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Hein Westgaard released a guitar trio record last year where he plays the electric guitar, see Vital Weekly 1403. This is an acoustic guitar trio with Westgaard on acoustic steel guitar, Katt Hernandez on violin and Raymond Strid on drums.
Based on a story recorded by the brothers Grimm this music is an amalgam of folkloristic elements, avant-garde jazz and modern classical music on acid. It took a while to digest all of it. What the three of them conjure up is sometimes off the wall and sometimes very pleasant to the ears. It’s all acoustic and not too loud. Each instrument can be heard. You have to give this record your most entire attention. And maybe you like it, and perhaps you don’t. I, for one, find it a bold step forward for Westgaard. It’s quite a bit different from what you’d expect if you listen to his electric guitar trio. Anyway, take a deep dive into this fairy tale world. There’s lots to discover. There’s one thing that bothered me a bit. And that’s the violin’s tuning; at times, it’s a bit off. Given the conflict in the fairy tale, I’d like to think it’s intentional. You can read the whole story here. (MDS)
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UNZEIT QUARTETT (CD by Trouble In The East Records)

Here, we have the second self-titled release by this Berlin-based quartet. This was sent without any additional info, so there’s no way of knowing when this will be released. It should be by Trouble in East Records, but their website has no information, so, on to the musicians. French-born pianist Céline Voccia invited three other musicians: Matthias Bauer on double bass, Frank Paul Schubert on soprano and alto sax and Joe Hertenstein on drums. All of them are seasoned musicians. That session was a considerable success, and they booked a recording session. But, due to several covid-illnesses, they had to postpone that. Unzeit loosely means wrong time or inopportune time. The result was a self-titled release, digitally self-released by Matthias Bauer and available on his Bandcamp page. Now, there’s a physical release, their second effort. And it’s a beautiful release. The four musicians listen intently to each other and create an organic sound as if they were a group that has been playing together for several years. The fifty minutes fly by when listening. All titles are related to German words related to Zeit, the German word for time. As I said before, it all flows organically and naturally. Plenty of ideas by all of the musicians come to fruition. I, for one, will keep an eye out for what they’ll do next. (MDS)
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We know this label from their releases in which a photographer, in this case, Mikael Siirilä from Finland, and two musicians, The Humble Bee, Craig Tattersall and Offthesky, also known as Jason Corder. The musicians are from the UK and the USA, so perhaps this is more of a three-way than a two-way collaboration. Siirilä’s photos, I learned from the information, “examine the themes of absence, presence and outsiderhood”. They are primarily close-ups of body parts, faces, arms and such, and we never get the complete picture (pun intended). Sometimes, there is nothing in these pictures, just a wall or a picture frame. He shoots in black and white and conveys perfectly what he wants to show: absence and presence. Interestingly, he organised his pictures along with the music; I don’t remember this from other Ikki books, with photography and music from different people. There are fifty-one pictures, so each of the five tracks has a few. There is stillness in these pictures, which we also find in the music. The Humble Bee and Offthesky have worked together on a previous release for Iikki that I missed and on ‘We Were The Hum Of Dreams’ for Laaps, a label run by the same person as Iikki. Tattersall gets credit for ‘spaces, notes, and tapes’, Corder for arrangement, mixing, synths, percussive textures, glockenspiel and vibraphone. Two guests, Shilpi Gupta on the flute and Rin Howell, voice. As before, the music is vulnerable; minor music, I called this, as it sounds like it’s on the verge of collapse. The instruments are captured with much space. Partly because they play sparse notes and are picked up in the room where the music is played, adding to the natural atmosphere of the music. Is there a bit of hiss captured along the way? That’s no problem, and it’s now part of the music. Whatever electronics do here remains a slight mystery I don’t think about. It’s perhaps more: why bother demystifying this beauty? The two like their music with slow melodic drifts, stirring away from the all too abstract music. Minor music but also slow music; it always moves, never remains too long in the same place, and yet there isn’t a hurried note here. Don’t look for something massively new or strange here; if you know their previous work, together and alone, you know what to expect, and this record is another beauty. Consistent high-quality music, I believe, is what one says in such a case. (FdW)
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RSN – INDISTINCTION #1 (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
RSN – INDISTINCTION #2 (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)

From what I know of the German group [ B O L T ] is what I saw on a few occasions: a loud, sometimes quite experimental rock band with someone on electronics, but who’s who, I don’t know. I don’t recall what the electronics were from the two or three times I saw them live. I assume it’s Thomas Rosen (who is also behind the momentarily records label, see Vital weekly 1378) who is the member and now, as rsn he releases his first two solo works. The information only reveals a little about what kind of sounds rsn uses, but what struck me was there is a separate credit for someone else recording and mixing the music, which is not very common. Even after I heard both discs, with just over 90 minutes of music, I still don’t know what he does and why someone else recorded and mixed his music. There are six pieces of music here, about 12 to 23 minutes each, and he plays the minimalist drone card. While the label refers to Radigue and Niblock, I think the music is closer to that of the less academic world, the ambient industrial underground. For one, rsn’s music changes instead a lot throughout these pieces. Sometimes, it’s vaguely orchestral, and it seems he’s a sampling from some classical music records; sometimes, the music is much obscurer in approach, such as in ‘Indication #2.2’, reminding me of early Thomas Köner. With the extensive use of reverb there is, perhaps, a bit more machine-like approach to these pieces, the big factory hall approach. Another thing that is very unlike Radigue or Niblock, or drone composers of that ilk, is that rsn has massive distinctions in dynamics in some of these pieces, dramatic climaxes for instances and nothing wrong with that, but not your usual traditional drone music. Throughout these pieces, rsn has quite a bit of variety in these pieces, while maintaining a pretty unified approach in these works. You can tell it’s music from the same person. Quite a promising start. (FdW)
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ARON PORTELEKI – SMEARING (CDR by Blindblindblind)

As I don’t write these reviews in the order you read them, this release by Aron Porteleki is the second one this week with music for dance. What is not mentioned in the other one is that without seeing the choreography, one misses something. This is not to say I want to review choreography, far from it, as it’s an art form I don’t know anything about and find difficult to judge. Porteleki is a drummer and viola player (I am sure not simultaneously). The first is within the field of experimental and free improv, and the second is with traditional folk music. The dance piece is called ‘Cryptic Bodies’ and not ‘Smearing’, meaning he feels confident that the music has life by itself. Here, Porteleki adds guitar and string to the drums and electronics. There are also vocals. The album has 13 tracks, lasts almost an hour, and is a strange, highly mixed musical affair. I’ll be honest: some of these pieces I enjoyed a lot, such as the curious electronic piece, ‘Together In My Skull’, but something like ‘Enigma’, mostly spoken word, didn’t do much for me, and sadly, that piece is over nine minutes long. There is improvisation, stoner rock, noise, electronics, the bounces all over the place, big time. It’s almost as if one is tuning up and down a bunch of alternative radio stations. It’s hard to say if I like it or not. Some of these pieces, absolutely, some not at all. I applaud the bold move made by Porteleki to create such a diverse album, and I’m sure there are listeners out there for such diverse music. Disclaimer for those who listen to Vital Weekly’s podcast: the segment you are about to hear may not be representative of the rest of the album. So, if you like what you hear, then be sure to check the whole album. You are in for a surprise! (FdW)
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We begin our exploration of Inner Demons Records with Ennatych, a unique artist who attempts to lull us into sleep with two tracks just under 10 minutes. Despite my inability to find much about the artist, other than his origin in Tucson, AZ and his active music releases since 2021, I was immediately drawn to his distinct sound. With a plethora of releases already under his belt, this is my first encounter with Ennatych’s music.
The first track, “Ashamed of My Own Presence Yet Alas I Cannot Escape” has a massive bass drone with some clear synthesized sounds entering the composition at moments. I don’t know if it’s meant to be, but the whole track has a bit of nihilist or misanthropic feeling. A bit less reverb would have cleaned up the fogginess, but it’s definitely not bad. “Crawling Out of My Skin and Slithering Into a Hole” is the poetic title of the other track is way more noisy and intrusive. The fogginess I felt a bit at the first track is not really a problem here so it might have just been me. This track follows the same build-up: Harsh Drone Wall, or Harsh Noise Drone. There is not much happening, but there is a constant change in the composition. Hmm … “The only constant is change” … Who said that? Heraclitus? Favorite track is the slithering hole one 😉 (BW)
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The best thing about reviewing small labels is the pearls you sometimes get to hear. Artists you’ve never heard of before, or only in a completely different setting, or … Just new names or that one cinematic ambient release that brings back memories of some works you heard in the past … The Deep Bleed falls in the latter category and brings back memories of music in the decade around Y2K. The Deep Bleed is Mark Hjorthoy from Vancouver, Canada, and this project is “a place to put the drone and art noise projects that I love to hear”, as the liner notes state.
There are two tracks on this 3″, the first being the 5-minute “If You Build Them” and the 15-minute title track. The first 3 minutes of that first track are quite static and basically an orchestral chord movement on a synth. But after that, Mark starts adding the other layers in the composition and fooling around with that basic one, and within the 5 minutes, which is the track’s length, it develops into the perfect atmosphere for the ‘main event’ to land. Massive layers of pads with noisy sounds and a very special (spacious?) manipulated production bring me back. Cinematic isolationism. Over time, a few more layers are created and added or manipulated through the production process and the use of FX, but after 15 minutes, you have a smile. I really like this release as a whole! (BW)
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As with all things with the name Vomir attached, I first checked the volume level and whether there is enough control within reach for me to adjust when necessary. Of course, I know it’s a cassette with different dynamic qualities, but nevertheless, I was wrong. In my defence, I can say I don’t know much about L’autopsie A Revele Que La Mort Etait Due A L’autopsie, a French group, other than I came across their name when researching the history of RRRecords Anti Records. The band name means ‘Autopsy Revealed That Death Was Due To Autopsy’, which is a funny name. Behind this group are Aka_Bondage, Anla Courtis, Franck de Quengo and Ogrob; Courtis recently released a collaborative LP with Vomir (Vital Weekly 1405), so it’s a small world. Noise is absolutely part of the music here, but this time, the music isn’t all about screaming feedback and distortion. The five men take on an exciting collage approach. All sorts of electronic sounds are used, a few field recordings, people talking, some attempt at vocals, and yes, all of this leaps occasionally into brutal noise, but never too long. One could think this release, two twenty-minute pieces, is an exercise in randomness, but it is not. The more I played it, the more there seemed to be control in the madness. For all, it’s a deviant approach, trying to be an outsider and all that, but the fact is that if you keep doing something long enough, there is going to be experience: knowing what one is doing, what works and what not. These two brutal montages of electronics, distorted and otherwise, are a perfect example of such learning. A free-form version of musique concrète, with the surprise visit of drums on the second. Weird? Yeah, maybe, but it’s lovely and weird. (FdW)
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Kringloop Kassettes is the latest project by Frans de Waard, and it’s already a success because all hard copies of all releases so far are already sold out. But please take notice that this ISN’T GONNA STOP ME FROM REVIEWING IT !!! Because holy shit, it’s sold old for a reason, and yes, there are 26 lucky people in the world, but the rest of you can still go digital.
A bit about the background: Kringloop Kassettes is a limited edition cassette label. Everything in editions of 26, lettered from A to Z. As for now, there are six releases, of which I’ll review three this week and three next week. All cassettes originated from a thrift shop and have been reused as much as possible in their original form. So, stickers and labels are left intentionally to make it all look used. Kringloop is Dutch for Recycle and loop with cassettes, well, I don’t need to write out that connection now, or do I?
The artwork is fully in sync with the recycling idea. Recycled paper and rubber stamps are used, and as you can expect, not all releases look the same. This is beautiful and something Frans has practised more often with his Modelbau project.
So, there are three reviews now and three reviews next week. Let’s do this! There is no better moment to write about recycling than Easter Weekend !!! (BW)
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ROEL MEELKOP – THE FUTURE IS IN THE PAST (cassette by Kringloop Kassettes)

First in the Kringloop Kassettes series is a C90 by Roel Meelkop. And when I opened the preview I received in VLC I already saw something strange … At least, what I thought was strange. All Meelkop releases I knew up to this point have longer tracks where silence forms a part of his compositions. Negative space in an audio perspective; It’s not what you sometimes hear, but the absence of sound gives the moments of silence a specific meaning. And just when I thought I was getting some more Meelkop just the way I like it and how I got used to it, he’s presenting a tape with 16 (!!) tracks ranging between 2 and 9 minutes. Not one long drone or experimental piece but loads of experiments that give an insight into his mind and how he developed as an artist.
I am not going to regurgitate the words he wrote about this choice – you can read it all on the Bandcamp page at the bottom of this review – but if there was ever a Meelkop release that gives me insight, it’s this one. A collection of sounds, noises, loops, manipulated (field) recordings, plays on frequencies, effects, works and reworks of a man who developed himself as one of the leading experimentalists in the Dutch music scene. And here it comes: The reason WHY he does what he does and WHY he NOW sounds the way he sounds can be derived from this tape’s contents. So, for fans, this release is an absolute must-have, even if it’s only a digital download.
And at this point I will copy one sentence from the promo text. “So, in the spirit of the cassette days, please feel free to (ab)use these tracks in any way you like.” And that is an open invitation to the world to be heard. Listen, use, recycle and abuse the basics that led Roel Meelkop to become the artist he is now and try it for yourself. And if you release stuff, send a download code to Roel and Kringloop Kassettes too please. Or to me. Or make it a ‘Name Your Price’-release (like this one is) for the world to enjoy. It would be great to see/hear what you do with it. I know I’m gonna try something. (BW)
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SICK DAYS – HAND-OFF APPROACH (cassette by Kringloop Kassettes)

The second one in the series is a name that gets reviewed more often in Vital Weekly, but until now I only had the pleasure of doing so once (VW 1342). There it was a split between Marc Banner and Sick Days which I ended with the words “Well done, guys!”. In the meantime, FdW did most of the reviews of Sick Days because he needs a stronger spot for the Lofi ethics of the label and the sounds. But, this time, it’s my turn again. Sick Days is the solo project of Jeffrey Sinibaldi from Ontario, Canada. He is also the label boss of Vacancy Records, a small but fun label with an affection for recycling so the fact he’s here giving acte de presence just had to be. I couldn’t find words on the what and why of these compositions, so I’m diving into a head-first approach of “Hands​-​Off Approach”.
The C90 has two massive tracks covering the whole side of the cassette. Not much is happening but there is a delicious tension constantly. A multilayered drone where there are constant movements in just about all the available layers. It can be anything, but because of the complexity, it’s really hard to pinpoint or analyse the different layers. It could be anything from running water through FX to contact mics on surfaces … Synthlayers out of a modular system or feedback signals being manipulated … And that’s just the A-side. Oh, wait, that’s only the first 30 minutes of the A-side. Something happens and the atmosphere has changed completely and it still develops.
And well, if I may say so, the B-side is actually my personal favourite. Here, there is a beautiful use of feedback (and guitar, I think), but the whole thing slowly evolves in the first 15 minutes into a massive wall of sound – yet NO HNW – and after 40 minutes, it’s suddenly broken into a minimal ‘remainder of what once was’ … What a great build-up. And break-down. I can’t really tell what the “Hands-Off Approach” was other than the fact that there are longer periods where seemingly nothing happens. But that’s definitely not a bad thing. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. And if it sounds good, don’t touch it. (BW)
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MODELBAU – SINGLE STREAM (cassette by Kringloop Kassettes)

The next one is by Modelbau, who is, of course, Frans de Waard, etc. If you don’t know by now, go to the main website of Vital Weekly and type Modelbau in the search field. There, I’ve said it. So let’s go directly to “Single Stream”, the first C60 on the label. As with the Sick Days release, both nameless tracks cover the whole side. And both compositions should also be labelled something like Lofi experimental drone ambient or something in that region. Because it’s Modelbau, and that’s what he does. Mostly … Ok, sometimes … Well, at least this time, though it all sounds raw and edgy. As we’ve learned in the past, it’s a mixture between the used sound sources and the ‘current setup’ and it feels like this was done with a setup with loads of delays (machines or tape loops) generating a nicely saturated sound all over.
The first side opens nice and grainy, and graininess in different layers is a constant factor during the ride. There are a lot of dynamics in here where it’s sometimes the massive background being pushed to the front, and sometimes the somewhat finer sonic tissue has the overhand in the mix. It sounds like the feedback in this composition is so saturated it sometimes gets on the edge of filling up the whole thing and pushing away everything else, and I love that part. Because it’s not what’s happening, and with his 40+ years of experience, Frans knows exactly what he’s doing there. From the two sides, this first one is the most loop-based.
The other side is more experimental and drone-based in structure. It almost sounds like untreated high-pitched frequencies are used to create the ever so minimal ‘dance of interpolating waves’ between those sounds. And that mixed with the previously described feedback manipulation … If done a few octaves lower, the interpolation would have become a bit more obvious, and this whole release could have been on the Moving Furniture side-label Eliane Tapes just as well. It’s a magnificent piece, but it does take some energy to listen to. It’s not to be played in the background because of the higher frequencies used, so it’s not one of the most accessible pieces by Modelbau to listen to. Intriguing, massive and complex. (BW)
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D-GENERATION ISSUE #1 (magazine w/ CD by Ultra Mail Prod/D-Generation)

This has been in the pipeline for a while, announced by UPM and apparently produced (printed, released) by Yuen of UMP in the name of the D-Generation publisher (who is not explicitly named, but it is Kevin Thorne of We Be Echo). What you get is a 96-page A5-sized ‘booklet’ (properly softcover bound, not really a magazine, more a very slim book) with a 12-track CD. The magazine/booklet is a high-gloss print. The articles vary in quality of writing and layout between sketchy and train-of-thought like pieces, up to more in-depth background information and nostalgia.
At first sight, you could think this is a eulogie for Genesis P-Orridge. Alice Genese, Carl Abrahamsson, Chandra Shukla, and Jordi Valls reminisce of Throbbing Gristle, but mainly Psychic TV times. It’s sort of a bit much. I drew more information and atmosphere from a Genesis P-Orridge interview with Vice from a while back – a much more nuanced and even balanced view, and this from a family member. In D-Generation, we find a lot of praise and admiration, even adoration, for Genesis P-Orridge and his work. Something they were not too keen on during their lifetime. Maybe it does not have to be balanced; it’s the right of the authors to present whatever they like, but as a reader, I found this a bit tedious.
The other half of the mag is a lot of information about early industrial music, how the whole scene developed, a piece on Centro Iberico (in London), and most notably, one interview with V.Vale of Re/Search. If you remember, Re/Search #6/7 was the ‘Industrial Culture Handbook’, which defined everything that ‘industrial music’ was, is, and will ever be. Steven Mallinder captures the mid-70ies and their pre-punk beginnings spot-on, Dave Farmer and Lawrence Burton remember their involvement with DIY and mail tape-ing and being involved with Industrial Records. Overall an excellent source of information and memorabilia, depending on your age category. I can imagine both the over-60ies remembering the good old days and younger music-lovers keen on discovering what ‘industrial’ meant to us all at the time.
The CD reminds us that the original industrial music was much closer to ‘rock’ music and ‘band’ settings than later developments may imply. Far from assaults such as Whitehouse, Merzbow, Con-Dom and the many noise acts, early industrial (as represented, e.g. by Throbbing Gristle) played ‘traditional’ rock instruments, though maybe in new fashions (as is reported elsewhere: ‘We need a guitarist. Who can’t play? Ah! Cosey!”) embracing ‘dilettantism’. The selection of tracks mainly sports pieces that are representative of the late 1970ies/early 1980ies. They lack the later ‘noise’ element and are primarily centred around simple electronic sounds, ‘degenerate’ rock, or straight pop (PTV-like). There is one single Rapoon track that stands out like a sore thumb. Not quite sure how this ended up here.
All in all, quite a nostalgic experience. I am curious as to the next editions – as I am not at all sure in which direction this project might develop in the future. There seem to be a variety of options. (RSW)